Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton

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About the Book

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Book: Amish Wanderer

Author: Laura V. Hilton

Genre: Amish Romance

Release Date: February 14

Bethany Weiss is ready to leave town. Tongues haven’t stopped clacking in Jamesport, MO, since her daed, the bishop, was admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community. But her sharpest wounds Bethany hides from prying eyes, quietly biding her time until she can take a chance at a new life—away from Jamesport and away from God.

 

Silas Beiler was kicked out of his own home. Dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, he begins hitchhiking across the country, sleeping in barns where he can, working for food when possible—headed for Pennsylvania in the hope of some stability.

 

When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Now, however, those months of bliss seem naïve and idyllic. Was their old love strong enough to overcome new pain? Or will hurt and rejection continue to haunt their path?

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Finding a wanderer in your barn loft? That’s just what Bethany Wiess did! And the man turns out to be Silas Beiler, who lived in their Amish community a years ago. All Silas wanted was somewhere to sleep for the night and a good home cooked meal before he headed on to Pennsylvania. Which gives Bethany an idea, since she has been looking for a way to leave home. If she keeps Silas here long enough, she can convince him to take her with him, so she offers him a job. And thankfully her mamm hires him. But Bethany gets anything but what she has her mind set on doing.

February is a wonderful time of year to launch a new Amish romance, and Amish Wanderer is just that. Laura Hilton takes two hurting characters and weaves together a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, second chances, and contentment. Some parts of this story is emotional and harsh, but it is real life issues that happen, and I appreciate the way Ms. Laura shows the love of God and how He can change a life. And as always, I love the way Laura Hilton can create such a twisted situation and turn it around to be a beautiful ending, just as she does in this story. If you love Amish, if you love Romance, and if you love a good clean story to read, I highly recommend Amish Wanderer for you to read.

I received this book from Celebration Lit Blog Tours to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

 

About the Author

laurahilton_icrs2016Laura V. Hilton

Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe,The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

 

Guest Post from Laura Hilton

I didn’t intentionally set out to write an Amish story loosely based on a true story. If fact, when people asked me if I would write my maternal grandparents’ story, I told them no.

 

But when time came to write Bethany’s story, all I knew was a short paragraph blurb about it. Bethany and her once-upon-a-time boyfriend Silas who left that particular Amish district and her before their relationship became serious. I didn’t know their backstories, really, and had no idea how the story would proceed. And since I don’t plot, I spend a lot of time praying about the story, because really, I want to write what He says to write. He knows who He wants it to reach.

 

So I sat down to pray about it. And God gave me a verse. Which is unusual at the beginning of the story. Usually, for me, it’s at the middle when God reveals His theme for the book. But this time, it was at the beginning. The verse is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

And the verses caused more prayer. What am I supposed to do with it?

 

I was driving to Melbourne (Arkansas, not Australia) to pay property taxes and get my vehicle tags renewed, listening to the radio as we (my three daughters and I) drove down Larkin Road (that’s not the real name, just what everyone calls it—we have a lot of those around here: Day Road, Moko Road, etc—because there are ghost towns on these roads so they are called by the name of the ghost town). A song came on the radio and I don’t remember the name of it, or even who the singer was, but when I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opening line to my story.

 

The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

 

I’m sure the people at the county clerk’s office might have been a little concerned about the state of my mental health when they saw the words scribbled at the top of my bill. I did get a strange look. I didn’t offer an explanation. And they didn’t ask.

 

When I got home, I started writing and paying close attention to Bethany’s mental clues (and Silas’s) to figure out what their stories were. And how they tied into the verse God had given me.

 

And then, without even realizing it until it hit, I knew who’s story I was writing.

 

My grandmother’s. My grandfather’s.

 

Except they are different. My grandmother wasn’t date raped. It was a member of her own family. And she wasn’t in love with my grandfather. She just discovered he was leaving the Amish and she wanted—needed—to escape.

 

Neither were Christians at the time. My grandfather was saved on his death bed. My grandmother’s youngest child was a teenager when she was saved. My mother, her sister, and all their girlfriends went to a tent meeting for a United Brethren Church and my grandmother attended one of the meetings with her daughters and was saved as a result. And their testimonies ultimately led to the salvation of my uncle and my grandfather.

 

Both of my grandparents had a lot of issues to work through as to why God allowed the bad things in their lives to happen. That they eventually came to Christ is a miracle but I’m glad they did, as I was raised in a Christian home.

 

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people? The short, pat answer is: because sin entered the world. Yes, God could stop them. But what if He uses the bad thing to refine a person’s faith, to draw them closer to Him as a result?

 

How a person reacts to the bad things directly ties in to how they affect them. In my story, Silas chose to trust God even though he feared for his life. No, he didn’t like what had happened, but even though he didn’t see how, he trusted God was working behind the scenes to bring Silas to where he needed to be, spiritually and physically. On the other hand, Bethany believed God had rejected her. Pushed her away and didn’t care about her. If He didn’t care for her, why should she care about Him? So she went into a stand-off with God.

 

The lessons ultimately learned, for both my grandparents and my characters, brought them to their knees before the living and holy God who was, and is, and is to come. And I trust God will use this story to help a reader out there who might be questioning something terrible that happened in their life.

 

You might not see how now and may not know why until eternity, but God has this. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

Blog Stops

February 14: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 14: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

February 14: inklings and notions

February 15: A Rup Life

February 15: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 15: Lane Hill House

February 16: Daysong Reflections

February 16: A Simple Life, really?!

February 16: Blogging With Carol

February 17: Reading Is My SuperPower

February 17: Bigreadersite

February 17: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

February 18: Rhonda’s Doings

February 18: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 19: A Greater Yes

February 19: A Holland Reads

February 20: Connie’s History Classroom

February 20: Blossoms and Blessings

February 21: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

February 21: Mom Is Forever

February 22: A Baker’s Perspective

February 22: Splashes of Joy

February 23: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 23: Carpe Diem

February 24: Pause for Tales

February 24: Quiet Quilter

February 25: For The Love of Books

February 25: Donna’s BookShelf

February 26: Christian Bookaholic

February 26: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

February 27: Giveaway Lady

February 27: Autism Mom

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away  Amish Wanderer, Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour #1), Snow Globe (Amish of Jamesport #1),
a 10 x 17” canvas banner: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly” (Micah 6:8), and
Abba Scripture Candle (3” natural, clean-burning wax, scented) – “With God All Things Are Possible”! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b0d8

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Celebration Lit Tours presents….Mary, Chosen of God by Diana Wallis Taylor plus Giveaway!

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To purchase your own copy, click here.

Scroll down for the giveaway

About the Book

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“Blessed are you, Mary, chosen of God.”
Mary is ordinary girl from Nazareth. She helps her mother with household chores, she daydreams about a handsome carpenter’s son named Joseph, and at night she lies on the roof and contemplates the stars.
But one evening, a heavenly visitor comes with unexpected news—and her life is changed forever.
Experience the life of the Messiah from the perspective of his mother, who must place her trust and obedience in Adonai, the Most High, as he fulfills centuries of prophecy in the middle of her daily life. Walk with Mary as she witnesses Yeshua grow, mature, minister, and even be crucified—and then raised again, to the kindling of her new faith.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

This is such an amazing story, I was in awe the entire time I was reading this book. Both Mary and Joseph were the sweetest young couple. Her parents loved her very much to make sure the man she would marry was the man she loved. I know this is fiction, but as I read the account of the angel coming to Mary in a dream, her trip to see her cousin Elizabeth, Mary telling her parents and Joseph she was pregnant with the Messiah, each and every scene was so fully detailed, I felt like I was living this story along with the characters. It is so neat to see this Bible account through the eyes of Diana W. Taylor.

It was so sweet to follow along with Mary as she realized she was carrying a special baby, that God has actually trusted her an favored her among all of the women of that time, and chose her to be the mother of Jesus. Despite what she had to go through, the outrage of her family and Joseph when she first told them she was pregnant with God’s son, all of the talk and whispers among everyone she came in contact with, Mary still had a peace and calmness, and an excitement that God had favored her among women. Can you just imaging what that would feel like?

Ms. Taylor not only writes an wonderful story of Mary, the historical events and all of the details was amazing. It is so much in this story that I love, I could go on and on, but you have an idea what this book is about. And I agree with others that this book needs to be read before Christmas and before Easter. It is a great way to ready your heart for the Celebration of each of these holidays. If you have friends and family that love reading, and don’t know the Lord, this would be the most amazing book for them to read. The Gospel is told throughout this book in a wonderful way. This is a must read for every Christian!

“I received this book from the author for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed in this review are my own.”

 

About the Author

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Diana Wallis Taylor has written eight biblical novels, including Mary, Chosen of God, Martha, Journey to the Well, Mary Magdalene, Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate, and Ruth, Mother of Kings. Well-known in the Christian book industry for her biblical fiction, her most recent five books have received over 3,000 ratings on Goodreads. Taylor is a former San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild’s “Writer of the Year” and her biblical novels have earned her a variety of awards. Diana lives in San Diego with her husband, Frank. They have six grown children and ten grandchildren.

Blog Stops

October 4: Simple Harvest Reads (spotlight)

October 5: Proverbial Reads

October 5: I Hope You Dance

October 6: Book by Book

October 7: History, Mystery & Faith

October 8: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

October 9: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

October 10: A Greater Yes

October 10: Back Porch Reads

October 11: The Power of Words

October 12: Book Babble

October 13: For the Love of Books

October 13: Mary Hake

October 14: Splashes of Joy

October 14: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

October 15: Bigreadersite

October 16: Henry Happens

October 17: His Grace is Sufficient

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Diana is giving away a gift basket that includes Mary, Ruth, Whitaker House’s study Bible, and The Lord is my Shepherd candle from Abba Anointing Oil! Click here to
enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/a5b

FIRST Wild Card Tours presents Heart of Mercy by Sharlene MacLaren

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Sharlene MacLaren
and the book:
Heart of Mercy (Tennessee Dreams Book 1)
Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award winning romance author, Sharlene MacLaren has released 13 novels since embarking on a writing career in 2007. After a career teaching second grade “Shar” says she asked God for a new mission “that would bring her as great a sense of purpose” as she’d felt teaching and raising her children. She tried her hand at inspirational romance, releasing Through Every Storm to critical and popular acclaim in 2007, and the rest, as they say, is history. She quickly became the top selling fiction author for Whitaker House, has accumulated multiple awards, and endeared herself to readers who can’t get enough of her long, luscious and often quirky tales – both historical and contemporary. Her novels include the contemporary romances Long Journey Home, and Tender Vow; and three historical series including Little Hickman Creek series (Loving Liza Jane; Sarah, My Beloved; and Courting Emma); The Daughters of Jacob Kane (Hannah Grace, Maggie Rose, and Abbie Ann) and River of Hope (Livvie’s Song, Ellie’s Haven, and Sofia’s Secret).

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Mercy Evans has known a great deal of heartache and hardship in her 26 years. She lost her mother at a young age and was only 16 when her father was killed in a brawl sparked by a feud with the Connors family that spans several generations. When a house fire claims the lives of her two best friends, Mercy is devastated, but finds comfort in caring for their two sons, who survived thanks to a heroic rescue by Sam Connors, blacksmith in the small town of Paris, Tennessee. Yet the judge is determined to grant custody only if Mercy is married. Mercy loves the boys as her own, and she’ll go to any lengths to keep them—but what if that means marrying the son of the man who killed her father? Set in the 1880’s, Heart of Mercy is the first book in MacLaren’s new Tennessee Dreams series.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Series: Tennessee Dreams (Book 1)

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603749632

ISBN-13: 978-1603749633

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

This is a really good historical romantic Christian fiction read that I thoroughly enjoyed! Getting to know the characters and their struggles was heartwarming. I appreciate the way Sharlene MacLaren weaves the promises and truth’s of the Bible into her characters lives. Even though this is fiction, Ms. MacLaren clearly shows the importance of love and forgiveness in our lives. If you enjoy historical fiction with heartwarming romance, you will love Heart of Mercy! This is the first book in the Tennessee Dreams series, and I can’t wait for Book two!

I received this book from the publisher Whitaker House and FIRST Wild Card Tours to read and review.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

1890
Paris, Tennessee
“Fire!”
The single word had the power to force a body to drop
his knees and call out to his Maker for leniency. But most took time for
neither, instead racing to the scene of terror with the bucket they kept stored
close to the door, and joining the contingent of citizens determined to battle
the flames of death and destruction. Such was the case tonight when, washing
the dinner dishes in the kitchen sink, Mercy Evans heard the dreaded screams
coming from all directions, even began to smell the sickening fumes of blazing
timber seeping through her open windows. She ran through her house and burst
through the screen door onto the front porch.
“Where’s the fire?” she shouted at the people running
up Wood Street carrying buckets of water.
Without so much as a glance at her, one man hollered
on the run, “Looks to be the Watson place over on Caldwell.”
Her heart thudded to a shattering halt. God, no! “Surely, you don’t mean Herb
and Millie Watson!”
Mercy Evans and Millie Watson, formerly Gifford, had
been fast friends at school and had stuck together like glue in the dimmest of
circumstances, as well as the sweetest. Millie had walked with Mercy through
the loss of both her parents, and Mercy had watched Millie fall wildly in love
with Herb Watson in the twelfth grade. She’d been the maid of honor in their
wedding the following summer.
But her voice was lost to the footsteps thundering
past. Whirling on her heel, she ran back inside, hurried to extinguish all but
one kerosene lamp, snatched her wrap from its hook by the door, and darted back
outside and up the rutted street toward her best friends’ home, dodging horses
and a stampede of citizens. “Lord, please don’t let it be,” she pleaded aloud.
“Oh, God, keep them safe. Jesus, Jesus….” But her cries vanished in the
scramble of bodies crowding her off the street as several made the turn onto
Caldwell in their quest to reach the flaming house, which already looked beyond
saving.
Tongues of fire shot like dragons’ breath out windows
and up through a hole in the roof. Like hungry serpents, flames lapped up the
sides of the house, eating walls and shattering panes, while men heaved their
pathetic little buckets of water at the volcanic monster.
“Back off, everybody. Step back!” ordered Sheriff
Phil Marshall. He and a couple of deputies on horseback spread their arms wide
at the crowd, trying to push them to safety.
Ignoring his orders, Mercy pressed through the
gathering mob until the heat so overwhelmed her that she had no choice but to
stop. Besides, a giant arm reached out and stopped her progress. She shook it
off. “Where are they?” she gasped, breathless. “Where’s the family?”
The sheriff moved his bald head from side to side,
his sad, defeated eyes telling the story. “Don’t know, Miss Evans. No one’s
seen ’em yet. We been scourin’ the crowd”—he gave another shake of the
head—“and it don’t appear anybody got out of that inferno.”
“That can’t be.” A sob caught at the back of her
throat and choked her next words. “They were at my place earlier. I made
supper.”
“Sorry, miss.”
“Someone’s comin’ out!” A man’s ear-splitting shout
rose above the crowd.
Dense smoke enveloped a large figure
emerging—staggering rather like a drunkard—from the open door and onto the
porch, his arms full with two wriggling bundles wrapped in blankets and
screaming in terror. Mercy sucked in a cavernous breath and held it till
weakness overtook her and she forced herself to let it out. Could it be? Had
little John Roy and Joseph survived the fire thanks to this man?
“Who is it?” someone asked.
All stood in rapt silence as he passed through the
cloud of smoke. “Looks to be Sam Connors, the blacksmith,” said the sheriff,
scratching his head and stepping forward.
“Sure ’nough is,” someone confirmed.
Mercy stared in wonder as the man, looking dazed and
almost ethereal, strode down the steps, then wavered and stumbled before
falling flat on his face in a heap of dust and bringing the howling bundles
with him.
Excited chatter erupted as Mercy and several others
ran to their aid. Mercy yanked the blankets off the boys and heaved a sigh of
relief to find them both alert and apparently unharmed, albeit still screeching
louder than a couple of banshees. Through their avalanche of tears, they
recognized her, and they hurled themselves into her arms, knocking her
backward, so that she wound up on her back perpendicular to Mr. Connors, with
both of the boys lying prone across her body. In all the chaos, she felt a hand
grasp her arm and help her up to a sitting position.
“Come on, Miz. You bes’ git yo’self an’ them
chillin’s out of the way o’ them flames fo’ you all gets burned.” She had the
presence of mind to look up at Solomon Turner, a former slave now in the employ
of Mrs. Iris Brockwell, a prominent Paris citizen who’d donated a good deal of
money to the hospital fund.
Mercy took the man’s callused hand and allowed him to
help her to a standing state. By the lines etched in his face from years of
hard work in the sweltering sun, Mercy figured he had to be in his seventies,
yet he lifted her with no apparent effort. “Thank you, Mr. Turner.”
Five-year-old John Roy stretched his arms upward,
pleading with wet eyes to be held, while Joseph, six, took a fistful of her
skirt and clung with all his might. “Come,” she said, hoisting John Roy up into
her arms. “We best do as Mr. Turner says, honey. Follow me.”
“But…Mama and Papa….” Joseph turned and gave his
perishing house a long perusal, tears still spilling down his face. John Roy
buried his wrenching sobs in Mercy’s shoulder, and it was all she could do to
keep from bolting into the house herself to search for Herb and Millie, even
though she knew she’d never come out alive. If the fire and smoke didn’t kill
her, the heat would. Besides, before her eyes, the flames had devoured the very
sides of the house, leaving a skeletal frame with a staircase only somewhat
intact and a freestanding brick fireplace looking like a graveyard monument.
Her heart throbbed in her chest and thundered in her ears, and she wanted to
scream, but the ever-thickening smoke and acrid fumes burned to the bottom of
her lungs.
With her free hand, she hugged Joseph close to her.
“I know, sweetheart, and I’m so, so sorry.” Her words drowned in her own sobs as
the truth slammed against her. Millie and Herb, her most loyal friends. Gone.
Sheriff Marshall and his deputies ordered the crowd
to move away from the blazing house, so she forced herself to obey, dragging a
reluctant Joseph with her. At the same time, she observed three men carrying a
yet unconscious Sam Connors across the street to a grassy patch of ground.
Several others gathered around, trying to decide what sort of care he needed.
Of course, he required medical attention, but Mercy felt too weak and dizzy to
tend to him. Best to let the men put him on a cart and drive him over to Doc
Trumble’s. Besides, she highly doubted he’d welcome her help. He was a Connors,
after all, and she an Evans—two families who had been fighting since as far
back as anyone could remember.
She’d heard only bits and pieces of how the feud had
started, with a dispute between Cornelius Evans, Mercy’s grandfather, and
Eustace Connors over property lines and livestock grazing in the early 1830s.
There had been numerous thefts of horses and cattle, and incidents of barn
burnings, committed by both families, until a judge had stepped in and defined
the property lines—in favor of Eustace Connors. Mercy’s grandfather had gotten
so agitated over the matter that his heart had given out. Mercy’s grandmother,
Margaret, had blamed the Connors family, fueling the feud by passing her hatred
for the entire clan on to her own children, and so the next generation had
carried the grudge, mostly forgetting its origins but not the bad blood. The animosity
had reached a peak six years ago, when Ernest Connors had killed Oscar
Evans—Mercy’s father.
“That man’s a angel,” Joseph mumbled into her skirts.
“What, honey?”
“John Roy was wailin’ real loud, ’cause he saw
somethin’ orange comin’ from upstairs, so he got in bed with me, and after a
while that angel man comed in and took us out of ar’ bed.”
She set John Roy on the ground, then got down on her
knees to meet Joseph’s eyes straight on. His were still red, his cheeks
blotchy. She thought very carefully about her next words. “Where were your
parents?”
Joseph sniffed. “They tucked us in and went upstairs
to their bedroom. John Roy an’ me talked a long time about scary monsters an’
stuff, but then, after a while, he went to sleep, but I couldn’t, so I got up
t’ get a drink o’ water, and that’s when I heard a noise upstairs. I looked
around the corner, and I seed a big round ball o’ orange up there, and smoke
comin’ out of it, and I thought it was a dragon come to eat us up. I runned
back and jumped in bed with Joseph and tol’ him a mean monster was comin’ t’
get us, and I started cryin’ real loud.”
John Roy picked up the story from there. “And so we
waited and waited for the monster to come after us, but instead the angel saved
us. I think Mama and Papa is prolly still sleepin’. Do you think they waked up
yet?”
Mercy’s throat burned as powerfully as if she’d
swallowed a tablespoonful of acid. Her own eyes begged to cut loose a river of
tears, but she warded them off with a shake of her head while gathering both
boys tightly to her. “No, darlings, I don’t believe they woke up in bed. I
believe with all my heart they awoke in heaven and are right now asking Jesus
to keep you safe.”
“And so Jesus tol’ that angel to come in the house
and get us?” Joseph pointed a shaky finger at Sam Connors. The big fellow lay
motionless on his back, with several men bent over him, calling his name and
fanning his face.
Mercy smiled. “He’s not an angel, my sweet, but
that’s not to say that God didn’t have something to do with sending him in to
rescue you.”
“Is he gonna die, like Mama and Papa?” John Roy asked
between frantic sobs.
“Oh, honey, I don’t know.”
She overheard Lyle Phelps suggest they take him over
to Doc Trumble’s house, but then Harold Crew said he’d spotted the doctor about
an hour ago, driving out to the DeLass farm to deliver baby number seven.
A few sets of eyes glanced around until they landed
on Mercy. She knew what folks were thinking. She worked for Doc Trumble, she
had more medical training and experience than the average person, and her house
was closest to the scene. But their gazes also indicated they understood the
awkwardness of the situation, considering the ongoing feud between the two
families. Although the idea of caring for him didn’t appeal, she’d taken an
oath to always do her best to preserve life. Besides, the Lord commanded her to
love her neighbor as herself, making it a sin to walk away from someone in
need, regardless of his family name.
She dropped her shoulders, even as the boys snuggled
close. “Put him on a cart and take him to my place,” she stated.
As if relieved that his care would fall to someone
other than themselves, several men hurried to pick him up and carried him to
Harold Crew’s nearby buggy.
“What about us?” Joseph asked.
The sheriff stepped forward and made a quick study of
each boy. “You can stay out at my sister’s farm. She won’t mind adding a couple
o’ more young’uns to her brood.”
Joseph burst into loud howls upon the sheriff’s
announcement. Mercy hugged him and John Roy possessively. “Their parents were
my closest friends, Sheriff Marshall. I’d like to assume their care.”
He frowned and scratched the back of his head. “Don’t
know as that’s the best solution, you bein’ unwed an’ all.”
“That should have no bearing whatever on where they
go. Their parents were my closest friends. They’re coming home with me.” She
took both boys by the hands, turned, and led them back down Caldwell Street,
away from the still-smoldering house and the sheriff’s disapproving gaze.
Overhead, black smoke filled the skies, obliterating any hope of the night’s
first stars or the crescent moon making an appearance.

FIRST Wild Card Tours Presents Ruth, Mother of Kings by Diana Wallis Taylor

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Diana Wallis Taylor
and the book:
Ruth Mother of Kings
Whitaker House (October 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Recently named “Writer of the Year” by the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, Diana Wallis Taylor has been writing since the age of 12 when she sold her first poem to a church newspaper. A former school teacher, popular women’s speaker and award-winning author, she’s best known for her biblical novels that focus on women such as Martha, Mary Magdalene, Claudia Wife of Pontius Pilate, and Journey to the Well. She’s also published several contemporary novels, a collection of poetry, and contributed to a wide variety of publications.  Diana lives in San Diego with her husband, Frank. Among them, they have six grown children and ten grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
The story of Ruth has captivated Christian believers for centuries, not least of all because she is one of only two women with books of the Bible named after them. Now, Diana Wallis Taylor animates this cherished part of the Old Testament, with its unforgettable cast of characters. She describes Ruth’s elation as a young bride— and her grief at finding herself a widow far before her time. Readers will witness the unspeakable relief of Naomi upon hearing her daughter-in-law’s promise never to leave her. And celebrate with Boaz when, after years as a widower, he discovers love again, with a woman he first found gleaning in his field. The story of this remarkable woman to whom Jesus Christ traced His lineage comes to life in the pages of this dramatic and unique retelling.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (October 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603749039

ISBN-13: 978-1603749039

Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK……My review will come later

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Ruth sat with her brother, Joash, on a small rug in the neighbors’ courtyard, listening fearfully as the adults discussed what to do with them. Ruth wanted her mama. Why would they not let her see her? Was she still sick? Her papa had tended her for several days and told them not to disturb her. No one baked any bread for their breakfast.She scrunched up her small face, her lower lip trembling. Yesterday, her mama would not wake up, and her papa began weeping and acting strangely. He struggled to stand up, and perspiration ran down his face. She remembered his words, spoken like he was out of breath. “Joash, you must help me. Take Ruth and go to the house of Naaman. Tell him I need his help. Stay there until I call for you.”Joash grabbed her hand and almost pulled her to the neighbors’ house. She had been holding her mother’s shawl, and she wrapped it around herself that night as they slept in the neighbors’ courtyard. She could hardly breathe for the fear that seemed to rise up from her chest. Why would the neighbors not let them go home? Had Papa not called for them?

Everyone looked at them with sad eyes and whispered to one another. She clutched her mother’s shawl and turned to her brother.

“Why will they not let us go home?”

“I don’t know. Something is wrong.” He looked at a woman standing nearby. “We want to see our mama and papa.”

The woman answered quietly, “Children, your mama and papa are dead. You cannot see them…ever again.”

Ruth heard the word “dead.” A bird fell in their small courtyard one day, and her papa said it was dead. It lay on the dirt, unmoving, its eyes closed. She could not imagine her mama and papa like that bird. She turned to her brother again.

“Mama and Papa are dead?”

Joash nodded, tears rolling down his cheeks. He put an arm around her, and they clung to each other.

Naaman’s wife spoke up. “I have fed them for two days, but I cannot continue to care for them.”

“Do they have family elsewhere?” said another neighbor woman. “I have children of my own to feed.”

Naaman murmured, “Phineas has family near the Plains of Moab, outside Beth-Jeshimoth. He told me before he died.”

“What family? His parents? Are they still alive?”

There was silence. Then, “How would the children get there? They can’t go alone; the boy is only six, the girl almost four. Who would take them?”

“That is something to consider. It is a two days’ journey.”

Teary-eyed, Ruth turned to her brother and whispered, “Where do they want to take us?”

He straightened his shoulders and tried to sound very strong. “I don’t know, but do not be afraid, Sister. I will care for you.”

A couple entered the small courtyard and hurried up to the group that had been talking. The woman spoke. “We just heard about the parents. The mother, Timna, was my friend. Do you know what is to be done with the children?”

Someone said, “Naaman told us they have grandparents, outside Beth-Jeshimoth, but we don’t know how to get them there. They cannot travel alone.”

The man nodded, then said, “I will take them. My wife, Mary, will go with me.”

“But, Gershon, can you leave your shop for that long? It will take at least two days or more, just one way.”

“Ha’Shem will watch over my shop. It is the right thing to do. If they have family, that is where the children should go. I will prepare my cart and donkey.”

The first woman spoke. “May the Almighty bless you for your kindness, Gershon, and your wife also. It is a good thing you do. I will gather food for your journey. The other women in the neighborhood will help.”

Ruth listened to the women click their tongues and murmur among themselves.

“Those poor children were alone in the house with their sick parents for days before Phineas sent them to Naaman and his wife.”

“My husband wondered why Phineas had not come to work in three days.”

“The Lord only knows the last time they had eaten.”

“Both of the children are so thin.”

One of the other men spoke up. “What if you get there and find that the children’s grandparents are dead?”

“We will just have to trust the Almighty to guide us; we will pray that they live and that these orphaned children will be welcomed.”

Joash clutched Ruth’s hand tighter. “See? We will go to Abba’s family. They will take us there.”

Ruth, too frightened to speak again, could only nod, dried tears still on her cheeks.

Early the next morning, they were fed some lentil soup and fresh bread, and then Gershon and Mary took their hands and led them home, telling them they would now gather a few things to take with them. Mary clicked her tongue and sighed as she and her husband looked around the small house. “There is little of value here,” Gershon said. “The girl seems determined to hold on to her mother’s shawl.”

Mary glanced at Ruth. “It is a comfort to her. We must not take the bedding, because of their sickness. I will bring bedding from our house. Oh, Gershon, they were so poor. How did they live?”

“Evidently he made just enough to survive.”

Ruth, with her mother’s shawl still wrapped around her shoulders, clutched a doll made of rags that her mother had sewn for her. She looked around. There was no sign of her mama or papa anywhere. She watched her brother slip a small leather box out of a cupboard when the man and his wife were not looking. He put a finger to his lips and hid the box in his clothes.

When the cart was loaded, Ruth climbed in after Joash and settled in as the journey began. Never having ventured beyond her street, she looked about, wide-eyed, as they passed through the town.

“What is our town called?” Joash asked.

“It is Medeba,” the man answered.

His wife turned around in her seat at the front of the cart. “Have you not been in the town before?”

Joash shook his head.

“It is large. Your father made many fine bricks to build houses with.”

Ruth looked up at her. “I miss my mama.”

Mary sighed. “I know, child. Your mama and papa were so sick from the fever. They just didn’t get better, like so many others. But soon you will be with your grandparents.”

“Will they let us stay with them?” Joash asked.

There was a pause, and Mary looked at her husband. “Oh, of course. I’m sure they will be glad to see you.” She turned around again. “Have you ever met them?”

Ruth looked at her brother, and both children shook their heads.

They spent the night with some other families that were traveling. Gershon said something about it being safer to stay with a group.

Mary made sure Ruth and Joash were settled for the night and then lay down next to her husband. The two adults whispered to themselves, probably thinking that Ruth was asleep. She kept her eyes closed and listened in.

“Oh, Gershon, I pray that the grandparents are still there. What will we do if they are not?”

“We must trust the Almighty, Mary. I feel we are doing the right thing.”

“Then we will do our best, and know the outcome soon.”

“Timna was never well, from what I understand.”

Mary murmured, “If the parents of Phineas had a farm, why did he leave? Would he not work the farm with his father?”

“A disagreement of some kind. I don’t think the parents approved of the marriage. Medeba is a larger town. He probably thought he had a better chance of finding work there.”

She sighed. “Then the grandparents may not even know about the children?”

“It’s likely they don’t. Let us get some rest. We have many miles to cover tomorrow.”

Ruth yawned. What did it all mean? She was so tired. It was too much for her to understand. Moving closer to Joash, she settled down and, despite missing her parents, allowed sleep to draw her into its embrace.

FIRST Wild Card Tours presents….Awakened Love by Laura V. Hilton

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Laura V. Hilton
and the book:
Awakened Love
(Amish of Webster County #3)
Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author and book lover. Her Amish fiction series books have sold thousands of copies and garnered praise from readers and critics for originality and authenticity. This is thanks, in part, to Laura’s Amish grandmother from whom she learned Amish ways, and her husband Steve’s family ties in Webster County, Missouri, who served as invaluable resources in her research. Laura’s previous Whitaker House books include The Amish of Seymour series: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another; and The Amish of Webster County: Healing Love and Surrendered Love.  Awakened Love is the final book in the series. Laura is also a homeschooling mother, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger who posts reviews at:  www.lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Katie Detweiler is excited when she’s hired to bake for a local bed-and-breakfast, especially because the shy young Amish woman will be able to work alone in the kitchen doing a job she loves.  Circumstances change, however, and the job requires she also wait on customers, including a private investigator who tells her she is adopted and has a biological sister in need of a bone marrow transplant. She also meets 22-year-old Abram Hilty, an Amish man who has fled the drama of his community in Shipshewana, Indiana, for Seymour, Missouri, where he’s staying with his cousin Micah Graber. Abram is immediately attracted to Katie, but pursuing a relationship with her would be complicated because he’s come to the Amish of Webster County to hide from a girl he no longer cares about—and also from a cold-blooded killer.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Series: Amish of Webster County (Book 3)

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (September 2, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603745084

ISBN-13: 978-1603745086

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

What happens when a bashful Amish baker and an Englisch man on the run meet? Well for one, they are attracted to each other, but that can’t be happening because Amish and Englisch can’t mix. Or can they? Laura Hilton is typical of intermixing situations that are totally inappropriate somehow finds a way for them to work. Can this mixed up couple find a way to be together, or will the demands of each of their lives cause them to go separate ways?

 

Laura Hilton has done it again in this third book of The Amish of Webster County. I love Katie Detweiler’s character and was glad she had the chance to come out of her shell a bit when she was forced to take over the bakery. Abram was a little harder to get to know, but he really grows on you, and I started really liking his character as the story develops.

And as usually with Laura Hilton’s books, there are secrets that need to be revealed and a lot of twists and turns that will keep you fully involved in this story till the end. This is one Amish fiction you do not want to miss!

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Today I met the bu I’m gonna marry….” Patsy Swartz’s singsongy voice was too chipper. Bracing herself for an afternoon with the bubbly girl, Katie Detweiler climbed out of her daed’s buggy and turned to lift the cooler from the back. Her not-exactly-a-friend bounced up beside her, still singing away.Katie’s heart ached with a stab of envy.Would she ever marry?Daed snorted, in apparent disbelief. “Bye, Katie-girl. Have fun at the frolic.” He clicked at the horse and then pulled the buggy around the circle drive.

“The new bu in town!” Patsy squealed, as if Katie had asked. “He is sooooo cute! I’m going to marry him. I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. Will you stand up with me? I’m asking Mandy, too.”

Marriage? The new bu in town? Why was she the last to know these things? Katie hadn’t even known that Patsy had a beau. Wait—she didn’t. Just yesterday, she was bemoaning the lack of interesting men in her life.

Katie shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “Stand up with you? On Valentine’s Day? Jah, I can do that. What new bu in town?”

Patsy huffed. “Where have you been, Katie? There is a world outside that bed-and-breakfast, ain’t so?”

“When did you two meet? You didn’t mention him yesterday.” She adjusted her grip on the cooler handles and started toward the haus.

“He’s visiting the Grabers…a cousin or something. He’s here, right over—ach, I see Mandy! I’ll tell you about him later.” She turned away and glanced over her shoulder. “You’re still standing up with me. Valentine’s Day. Write that down, Katie.”

Patsy ran across the driveway to where Mandy Hershberger stood by the open barn doors.

Valentine’s Day? Was Patsy serious? Most weddings happened between November and January—never February, when the fields need to be prepared for planting. And wouldn’t the bishop have some reservations about Patsy’s marrying a man she’d known for, what, half an hour?

Valentine’s Day was still a long ways off. It was only August. And Patsy probably would’ve moved on three times by then.

But he was here, this mystery man Patsy planned to wed? Katie turned around and scanned the buwe playing volleyball, looking for a face she didn’t recognize. She didn’t see anyone new. Or maybe he just didn’t stand out. Patsy? Getting married? If Katie knew her at all, she’d be promised to this new bu in a short time. What Patsy wanted, she usually got. Even if they ended up calling it quits several weeks into the relationship.

Katie sighed. It’d be nice if someone noticed her. And wanted her as a permanent part of his future.

She headed for the haus to deliver the food. A long row of tables was set up inside the kitchen, already piled full. Katie set the cooler down next to the door, opened the lid, and took out a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She carried them to the table and set them down among the other desserts, then stepped back and surveyed the array of cookies and fried pies. Maybe she should’ve made something else besides cookies. But Daed wouldn’t mind if she brought the entire plateful back home again.

“Hi, Katie.” Micah Graber’s mamm, Lizzie, came into the room. “Glad you made it. Micah’s playing volleyball, if you want to join in. His cousin Abram is visiting from Indiana.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll want an introduction.”

Katie wasn’t so sure, except maybe to see what Patsy found so special about this mystery man. It was probably nothing more than that she hadn’t yet been courted by him, since she had gone with almost every other bu in the district.

Oops. That was unkind. Katie found a smile. “Danki. I’ll find Micah.” Later. Their paths would probably cross sometime that afternoon. He usually made a point to say hi to her.

Katie went to get the rest of the food out of her cooler when the door burst open. She gazed into knock-’em-dead blue eyes belonging to the most handsome someone she’d never seen. She stared at the stranger, her mouth open.

He raked his fingers through his brown hair, dislodging his straw hat, and backed up. “Micah sent me to get the coolers and the big picnic jugs.”

Lizzie Graber laughed. “Ach, you walked right past them. They’re out on the porch.”

His eyes met Katie’s again, and he nodded in greeting. Her heart pounded so loud, she worried he’d hear it. “Sorry, Aenti Lizzie. Don’t know what I was thinking.” He shook his head and backed out of the room, his gaze still locked on Katie, then turned and shut the door.

Lizzie laughed again. “Those buwe are all the same. They see a pretty girl and have to kum check her out.”

Pretty? Lizzie believed he’d kum inside because he thought she was pretty? But he hadn’t stayed long enough to say hi. Or to ask her name. Not that it mattered. She probably would’ve been tongue-tied, anyway. Katie straightened, willing her heart rate to return to normal. A gut-looking bu she didn’t know. Micah’s cousin. He must be Patsy’s…whatever she’d call him. Maybe “her intended,” since she’d said she wanted to marry him. So, why did it matter what he thought?

It didn’t.

Her insides deflated like a popped balloon.

Katie studied the dessert selection again. Disappointingly, other than the chips in her cookies, there wasn’t any chocolate in sight—unless some of the fried pies were filled with the delicious comfort.

***

Abram Hilty shut the door behind him and took a deep breath to calm his pulse. He hadn’t even talked to the girl in the kitchen, didn’t know the sound of her voice, but there was something about her that his heart had recognized.

“She’s pretty, jah?” Micah hoisted a cooler in his arms and started down the steps.

“Very.” Abram lifted one of the big yellow picnic jugs and fell into step beside him. “And you can’t get her to pay attention to you?”

Micah shook his head. “Nein. Not at all. But her best friend, Janna Kauffman, told me Katie’s really shy. Maybe I’ll offer to drive her home tonight. Her daed dropped her off.”

Abram chuckled. “You do that. I’ll ask her out, too, and tell her how wunderbaar you are. Between the two of us, we’ll get her talking.”  That would at least give him an opportunity to spend time with her.

Micah raised his eyebrows. “You’d do that for me?”

“That, and I’m currently between girls.” Abram winked. “I told Marianna I want a break.” Sort of. He did owe her some sort of explanation for his silence. After all, they’d been practically engaged—and he’d essentially stood her up.

Of course, he hadn’t revealed where he’d gone. Instead, he’d left a vague note: “Need some time off. Sorry.”

In hindsight, Ouch. But she’d been hounding him to make a commitment, dropping hints he couldn’t help but get. He could do worse, he’d supposed. And yet he’d fled. He needed to think. And that was impossible with her bringing him lunch every day, staying to eat with him, and getting into his buggy after every singing and frolic—without his even asking.

He shook his head. What else could he have done?

“What if she falls in love with you, not me?” Micah’s forehead creased as his eyebrows drew together. “I mean, talking me up is kind of cliché.” He snickered. “And it usually works in reverse.”

Abram shrugged. He wouldn’t complain if it did. “How could she not fall in love with you, with me singing your praises?” Of course, he’d try hard not to sing his own. Not that he had much to sing about. He frowned. How long before he was found out?

Micah set the cooler on the ground next to a table with some stacks of paper cups, then straightened. “I’ll go say hi to her, then, while you get the other picnic jug.”

“Works for me.” Abram set the picnic jug down on the table, then reached for a cup, held it under the spigot, and pressed the handle for a splash of iced tea.

“Hi, Abram,” cooed a feminine voice.

Abram cringed. Not another pushy female. He looked up at not one but two girls—a redhead he’d seen earlier that day, who beamed at him, and another with reddish-brown hair. He preferred Katie and her dark blonde hair.

“Welkum to Missouri!” said the redhead. “I’m Patsy Swartz, and this is Mandy Hershberger.”

He found a smile. “Nice to meet you. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get the other—”

Micah punched his arm. “I’ll get it, after I greet Katie. You stay here and talk.”

“Danki, cousin”—Abram hoped the girls wouldn’t pick up on his sarcastic tone—“but I’ll get the jug myself.”

***

“May I borrow a pair of tongs?” Katie asked Lizzie Graber. “I need to mix up the taco salad I brought.”

“Of course.” Lizzie slid a pan of brownies into the oven and then retrieved the utensil from a drawer.

“Danki.”

Lizzie opened the refrigerator, took out a can of 7-Up, and popped the top. “I need to go check on Emily. She isn’t feeling well.”  She poured the fizzy liquid into a glass.

“Sorry to hear that.” She liked Micah’s little sister.

“When the brownies are done, would you take them out, please?”

“Jah.”

“Danki.” Lizzie left the room.

Katie looked around. Maybe she could find some other way to assist. Helping would give her an excuse not to socialize. An alternative to standing beside the barn, ignored.

At this point of her life, she was part of the scenery, the part no one looked at. Patsy said it was because she was too quiet. Because she wouldn’t cross the room to talk to any of the buwe; she waited for them to kum talk to her. And they wouldn’t. They had enough girls willing to chase them that they didn’t need to pursue the quiet ones.

If that was the case, she’d be alone forever. A painful thought.

But her best friend, Janna, had said that if a bu really liked her, it would be obvious, because he’d be hanging around. Janna should know. Her beau, Troy Troyer, hung around her plenty, and he’d even started baptism classes, so he could join the church—for her.

Abram’s handsome face flashed in her mind. His heart-stopping grin. His easy confidence.

Nein. She wouldn’t think of this—of him. It meant nothing. He was in Patsy’s sights.

Katie opened her cooler and lifted out the salad bowl and a big bag of Fritos. She always waited to add the chips so that they wouldn’t get soggy before the salad was served.

Katie set the bowl down on the table and tugged on the top of the Frito bag to open it. A warm breath tickled her ear. Abram? Her heart jumped, and her hands jerked in opposite directions, ripping the bag and sending Fritos high in the air. A few of the chips landed where they were supposed to, in the taco salad, but most of them now decorated the floor and the savory dishes nearby, including the egg salad sandwiches Patsy always brought.

Katie’s face burned. She spun around, the almost-empty bag clasped in her hands.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Micah said. He stood too close. Why couldn’t it have been Abram breathing in her ear? Admittedly, the end result would’ve been the same.

A chatter of voices neared outside, and feet tromped on the porch. The latch clicked on the door, and the hinges squeaked. Katie resisted the urge to run from the room. It seemed everyone was coming inside to witness her humiliation. Abram entered, followed by Patsy and Mandy and a dozen or so others. Everyone looked at her.

“I was hoping you’d be here,” Micah continued.

There was someone who’d wanted to see her? Some member of the male species? Katie stared at him in shock.

Patsy came over to the table and started picking Fritos off of her sandwiches. The hard kick to the shin she gave Katie was all it took to find her voice.

“Ach, I scare easy. It’s okay, really.”

She had spoken to a bu. Using multisyllabic words. Would miracles never cease?

Patsy shook her head, evidently disappointed in her attempt at conversation. If only she would step in and speak on her behalf. But nein luck. With another shake of her head, Patsy dumped the Fritos in the trash and joined the group of females huddled around Abram. His harem.

Katie frowned. She didn’t want to compete with so many for the minute possibility of a relationship with a man. Maybe it’d be better to find someone steady who paid attention to her alone. She glanced at Micah. He stared at her as if she’d sprouted antlers. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted.

“Janna told me you’re shy. She told me not to give up on you. I’d like to get to know you better. Are you seeing someone?” He lowered his voice. “Maybe I could give you a ride home today. We could stop for a milkshake.”

A milkshake? Was he kidding? Katie glanced at the table, laden with the usual assortment of cookies and fried pies. Brownies still baked in the oven. With all these treats, who in his right mind would offer that incentive?

He hadn’t given her a chance to answer the courting question before asking her out. Maybe he figured that someone as tongue-tied as she couldn’t possibly have a beau.

Still, Katie didn’t know how to answer his questions. Would it be easier to talk just one-on-one? Daed would encourage her to accept a ride from him. If that meant downing a milkshake, too, then so be it. She swallowed. “A milkshake sounds gut.”

He grinned. “I’ll look for you afterward. Sorry about your chips. I hope I didn’t ruin your”—he glanced at the bowl—“salad.”  He turned away and started talking to Natalie Wagler. At least she could carry on her side of the conversation.

Katie frowned. Were there books available for this disorder? She needed to check at the library. See if they had a section called “Basic Communication with the Opposite Sex.”

A buggy ride with a man who wasn’t Daed…. Sighing, she glanced at Abram. His attention seemed to be focused on Patsy, whose hand rested on his upper arm. Katie swallowed and turned away. Micah wasn’t the Mr. Right of her imagination. But maybe he was the Mr. Right of her reality.

Her very first date. Excitement washed over her.

Maybe her life was about to change.

FIRST Wild Card Tours presetns Surrendered Love by Laura V. Hilton

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Laura V. Hilton
and the book:
Surrendered Love,
The Amish of Webster County Book 2
Whitaker House (April 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amish romance writer Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, AR is a pastor’s wife, stay-at-home mother of five, homeschooler, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger. Her passion has long been the mission of Christian fiction, initially as a reviewer, but in the past two years as the author of four successful novels including The Amish of Seymour series (Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another) and Healing Love, first of The Amish of Webster County. Her books have sold thousands of copies and garnered kudos from reviewers and readers alike with A Harvest of Hearts receiving the 2012 Laurel Award.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Janna Kauffman enjoys her job as a personal shopper for the homebound in her Amish community. But when Janna’s niece, Meghan, comes to live with her family—part of a plan by Janna’s sister to rid her daughter of her rebellious ways—Janna spends less time shopping and more time explaining Meghan’s erratic behavior to local police officer Hiram “Troy” Troyer, who was raised Amish but left the faith after a fatal accident that killed his brother and also a brother of Janna’s. Frequent interactions draw Janna and Troy together, rekindling an attraction they first experienced in their youth. What will become of their relationship? And will headstrong Meghan ever tame her ways?

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (April 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603745076

ISBN-13: 978-160374507

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

 

Janna Kauffman enjoys her job as a personal shopper for the homebound in her Amish community. But when Janna’s niece, Meghan, comes to live with her family—part of a plan by Janna’s sister to rid her daughter of her rebellious ways—Janna spends less time shopping and more time explaining Meghan’s erratic behavior to local police officer Hiram “Troy” Troyer, who was raised Amish but left the faith after a fatal accident that killed his brother and also a brother of Janna’s. Frequent interactions draw Janna and Troy together, rekindling an attraction they first experienced in their youth. What will become of their relationship? And will headstrong Meghan ever tame her ways?

 

Can you imagine two Amish adults meeting unexpectedly in a grocer isle for the first time since their times as young people with a teenage crush? Or was it just a teenage crush? And can it be anything else but that long ago relationship? You see, Janna is still Amish, but Troy left the Amish faith when a tragic accident happened. And then there is the Bishops Granddaughter Meghan that Janna’s family had to deal with, a teenage girl that has her own will and her own way of life, and she doesn’t want anyone in her way.

 

I love the way Laura Hilton takes situations that seem utterly impossible and shows how God can do anything, when it is in His will. With God, All things are possible when it comes to Laura’s books! I really enjoyed this sweet attraction between Troy and Janna, and despite all of the difficult situations they had to face, it was still heartwarming when these two were together. This is a love story you don’t want to miss! And if you haven’t read any of Laura Hilton’s books, you are really missing a treat! You must start reading her books now!!

 

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The police officer sorting though the Gala apples reminded Janna Kauffman of Hiram Troyer, but this Englischer couldn’t be her teenage crush. With a sigh, she focused again on the display in front of her. Cabbage. She picked up a head. Homemade coleslaw would go well with the hamburgers and baked beans she had planned for supper. As she set the cabbage in her cart, she couldn’t help stealing another peek at the good-looking officer. Dark blond hair, cut in a fancy hairstyle; trim build…ach, she shouldn’t be noticing such things about an Englischer.Janna looked away, but not before he glanced back at her. She did a double take. She thought his eyes were blue, like Hiram’s, but she couldn’t be sure; he turned around and walked away. Probably headed for the doughnuts. She smiled and turned her attention to her shopping list.

10 bags carrots (5 lbs. ea.)

When she placed the carrots in her cart, the hair on the back of her neck stood up with a tingling sensation, as if someone were watching her. She turned and caught the policeman’s glance just before it slid away. A thrill shot through her to think that an Englischer might be attracted to her, an Amish woman, but she stifled it. His interest was a moot point. Of course, he might have just been curious about why she’d loaded her cart with so many carrots.

He disappeared around a corner and down an aisle. She picked up her list again.

10 oranges (Emma Brunstettler)

Emma believed that an orange a day kept all sickness away. And it seemed to work for her. Janna selected ten ripe ones and loaded them into Emma’s mesh bag. The hair on the back of her neck rose again, as did her pulse. Her breath hitched.

She wouldn’t look. Instead, she lowered the bag of oranges into the cart. Somehow she missed, though. They tumbled out and went rolling across the floor.

“Klutz.” A woman carrying a plastic basket stepped over the fallen fruit and hurried away.

As Janna bent to pick up the first of the escaped oranges, she noticed a pair of legs wearing blue pants approaching. It might be a store manager, coming to yell at her. Hopefully not. Worse, it might be the police officer. Had he witnessed her clumsy humiliation? She didn’t know which she dreaded more. She risked a glimpse as he crouched and started gathering up the oranges. The police officer. He grinned as he reached out to hand them to her. She tried to keep her burning face averted as she stretched out a quivering hand to accept the fruit and then stuffed each piece back inside the bag.

His smile would have made her weak in the knees, if she weren’t already squatting. Even so, she put one hand on the floor to keep her balance.

He stood, picked up his few grocery items from the edge of a display, and turned to go.

She found her voice. “Danki.”

He glanced back at her and winked, causing her heart rate to accelerate even more. “Careful with those oranges. They’ll get you every time.” He strode toward the checkout lines. She smiled when she noticed the box of doughnuts and canister of coffee he had tucked under one elbow. In his other hand was a bag of apples.

Janna gripped the bag of oranges in one hand and slowly stood, watching him as he moved through the checkout line, even as she gave herself a silent yet stern lecture for ogling him the whole time.

An hour later, she pushed the cart, piled full with her bagged purchases, outside and across the parking lot to her buggy, her thoughts still on the handsome police officer.

She started sorting through the bags, searching for the Yoder family’s groceries to load first, since their home was the last stop she would make along her delivery route.

“Janna Kauffman?” An Englisch man’s voice shattered her concentration.

Janna’s heart stuttered. Was it him? She stopped rifling through the plastic bags in her cart and looked up. A policeman approached, but he wasn’t the one from the store. This man had dark hair, and sunglasses covered his eyes. Her heart crash-landed somewhere in the vicinity of her toes.

“I’m Officer Pete O’Dell.”

Janna summoned a smile. “Is there a problem, Officer?”

He didn’t grin back. His lips didn’t even twitch. She stiffened, trying to prepare herself for the bad news she felt sure she was about to hear. She searched her mind for possibilities. She knew she hadn’t double parked, and dropping oranges wasn’t against the law. Ach, maybe there’d been an accident.

Just then, the passenger door of the police cruiser parked behind him opened. Her rush of thoughts stopped as the blond officer from the store climbed out and approached her, sliding his sunglasses down from the top of his head to cover his eyes.

Her face heated again in shame for having stared at him in the store. He looked at her buggy, and the stacks of coolers labeled with the full names of Amish men. “Where’d you get all these?” He opened up the lid of a red cooler labeled “Elam Troyer”—the father of her childhood crush. That seemed like a slap in the face. The cooler would be empty, except for an ice pack.

Janna sucked in a breath. The officers probably thought she’d stolen the coolers. “It isn’t what you think.” She waved a hand toward her cart, still piled with plastic bags. “I do their grocery shopping.” Embarrassed at being caught in yet another humiliating situation by the cute cop, she pulled her shopping list out of her pocket and shoved it toward him.

He took it and began scanning it.

Officer O’Dell shifted his weight. “Are you the guardian of a Meghan Forrest?”

Renewed panic filled Janna. She pushed down her fears and nodded. “She’s my niece.”

“Has she contacted you today?”

“No, but she can’t; she’s in school.” At least, that’s where she was supposed to be. But if he was asking, then maybe it was Meghan who was about to receive bad news. “Is it her mom?” She froze, dreading the answer. If anything had happened to her sister Sharon, she didn’t know what she’d do.

“Your niece was just picked up for shoplifting,” said Officer O’Dell, matter-of-factly. “We need you, as her guardian, to come to the police station.”

“Excuse me?” Janna shook her head. This couldn’t be happening. “I think you must have the wrong person. Megan is still in class.” She glanced at the position of the sun, then looked for a watch. She found one, conveniently located on the arm of the handsome officer. Almost noon.

The other officer still studied her shopping list, not contributing anything to the conversation.

“Well, apparently she decided to skip school today. Will you come with us to the station, Ms. Kauffman?” Officer O’Dell’s question sounded more like an order, as if she had no choice.

A knot formed in her stomach. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” But she stood there, staring at the plastic bags in the cart. Plastic bags full of perishables. She needed to deliver the food first. Or sort it, at the very least, load it into the coolers, and pray that it would still be cool enough after she’d handled the situation with Meghan. Otherwise, she’d have to pay out of her own pocket to replace the spoiled food. Besides, late or incomplete orders wouldn’t help her business any. And here, she’d been marveling at how well her day had been going.

“Now would be a good time, Ms. Kauffman.” Officer O’Dell grabbed a plastic bag from her cart and tossed it into the buggy.

Janna reached for the bag and pulled it back out. “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” she said again. Maybe he hadn’t heard her the first time. “I have to get these bags sorted and put the food in the coolers so it won’t spoil.”

“Go on, O’Dell. I’ll help her.” The blond policeman handed her back her list. He ran his fingertip over Elam Troyer’s name written in black permanent marker, then turned is dark sunglasses in her direction. “What can I do?”

Officer O’Dell scowled and strode back to his cruiser.

Janna swallowed. She wasn’t Meghan’s parent—just one of her temporary guardians, until Sharon felt ready to welcome Meghan back home. She sighed. Since the police probably wouldn’t ask a parent to fly in, she would have to deal with it. Unless Daed could do it. For a second, her hopes flared. Then died. Nein, Daed and Mamm were in Springfield, visiting someone in the hospital. Their driver wouldn’t bring them home again until this evening. She was it.

“I don’t know if you can help,” Janna said. “I need to pack the items on my list in the proper coolers. I tried to keep the orders separate in the store, but the bagger sort of packed them into the cart at random, so I still need to figure out who gets what.” Normally, she was better organized, but this time, the police officer had taken her rational capacities prisoner.

“Then, you tell me which cooler it goes into and I’ll put it in.”

She watched his eyebrows rise above his dark glasses. He really did seem familiar…

“So, why do you do their grocery shopping?” He tapped his fingertips on the lid of Elam Troyer’s red cooler.

She shrugged and decided to answer generally. The Troyers’ reasons were personal and certainly none of his concern. “Oh, various reasons. Some are too sick or old or physically unable; some are mamms with newborns at home. Others are widowers with no interest in shopping.” She looked through the contents of one bag, consulted her list, then handed it to the officer. “This goes to Elam Troyer.”

A muscle flickered in his jaw. She wondered if the name meant something to him.

But it was probably her overactive imagination.

***

He should be shot for neglecting his parents like he did. Hiram Troyer, better known as Troy, removed his hand from the top of the cooler, lifted the lid, and lowered the plastic bag inside. He’d run by their house on the way home and check on them. If they were paying someone else to do their grocery shopping, then something must have happened.

He held up another bag. “Same family?”

She nodded distractedly as she sorted through another bag.

He dropped it in the cooler, keeping his gaze on her. Janna Kauffman. I’d figured she would have gotten married by now. She always stood out at the singings and frolics, back when—. No point going there. That was a lifetime ago. Still, when he’d seen her eyes for the first time in years, it had felt like an earthquake, rocking his heart and rearranging his mind. The aftershocks still rumbled through him.

But his thoughts were no longer scrambled; they were crystal clear—and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He just didn’t know how he was going to do it.

Janna handed him several more bags. “These are the last of Elam Troyer’s.”

He was glad his sunglasses hid his eyes as his gaze slid down her curvy body beneath the usual cape dress, hers lavender. She was still as attractive as ever, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. She’d skipped the black bonnet the women usually wore over their prayer kapps when they went out—but he’d seen other women do that, especially as the days got warmer. And they’d been reaching 80 degrees almost daily for almost a week now. Eighty-two, he thought he read on the digital sign in front of the bank. He could have been mistaken, though, because gazing into Janna’s eyes left him reeling. He looked away.

He’d left Meghan locked up in custody in the otherwise empty police station. He slid his glance back to Janna, then away. “Hurry and finish.”

Okay, that was a bit abrupt, but he needed to get back to the station before the manager of the store Meghan had allegedly robbed showed up to give a statement. She’d been running the cash register and needed to find someone to cover for her.

Troy glanced in the direction of the police station. Maybe O’Dell had gone straight back there. Troy had told him he’d talk to Janna, but, as usual, O’Dell hadn’t listened. Probably because a hint of action beat the dispatcher job O’Dell was supposed to be doing today.

Come down to it, Troy needed to do his job, instead of standing there staring at this woman. He needed to get away from Janna and the feelings she awakened in him.

***

Years of striving to be the model bishop’s daughter, and here she was, on her way to the police station. At least she wasn’t the one in trouble. She hoped shoplifting wasn’t punishable with jail time. Sharon would never forgive her if Meghan ended up with a sentence to serve. Maybe she could talk the nice blond policeman into going easy on her niece. And somehow keep the news from her older sister.

As Janna maneuvered her buggy into the parking lot of the police station, she began to regret the samples of meat and cheese she’d succumbed to while shopping. They weighed heavy in her stomach.

She climbed out of the buggy, tied the reins to a telephone pole, and went inside the station, wishing again that she didn’t have to handle this. Wishing the problem would just disappear. If only the blond policeman had waited for her. But he’d disappeared before she could talk her horse, Tulip, into leaving the grocery store parking lot.

Officer O’Dell sat at the reception desk with his feet propped up in front of him, a full mug of coffee in one hand, what appeared to be a McDonald’s burger in the other. The room smelled like fresh-brewed coffee. A glance around showed an almost full pot on a file cabinet.

“Ms. Kauffman,” he said around a mouthful of food. “Go on in.” He pointed abruptly over his shoulder at a partially closed door.

Janna inclined her head to acknowledge his directions and then stepped over to the door. She knocked once, then pushed it open.

The blond officer sat behind a big desk, talking on the phone. King of the office, apparently. He cast a quick glance in her direction but made no visible acknowledgment of her presence. He was handsome, but instead of the friendliness she’d seen earlier, now his expression was stern. She probably didn’t know him. Maybe she’d just seen him around town a time or two.

Meghan sat hunched over in a far chair. She didn’t look over at all. Not gut.

A woman wearing tight black pants and a low-cut hot pink stood against the wall on the other side of the desk. She, too, kept her eyes down, as she played with the bangles on her wrist.

Janna inhaled as deeply as she could, given the knot in her stomach. She pressed a hand to her abdomen, hoping to keep her snacks down.

The officer finally set the phone in its cradle and looked up at Janna. His blue-eyed gaze pierced her. He was good-looking but scary—not someone she’d want to tangle with on a dark dirt road. Or even in a brightly lit office.

He nodded at the empty chair facing his desk. “Please, have a seat.”

She thought she’d rather stand, like the woman with the bangle bracelets. Position herself right there by the garbage can, in case her food decided not to stay put. But obediently, she dropped compliantly into the chair. Again she glanced over at Meghan, who studied the floor as if fascinated by the pattern in the linoleum tiles.

Janna cleared her throat. “I’m sure this is just a simple misunderstanding.”

The officer slid a card holding a pair of earrings across the desk. They were dangly and sparkly. Definitely something Meghan would wear. “We found these in your niece’s possession.” His voice was stern. “Would you like to see the surveillance video?”

Not really.

He went ahead and pushed a button of the remote control on his desk. On the monitor behind him, a rather grainy picture appeared of Meghan and someone Janna didn’t know. She must have gotten away, or maybe they’d put her in another room. Despite the poor quality of the film, it was clear enough to see both girls slip some merchandise into their pockets.

He pushed another button, and the screen went blank. His cold eyes speared Janna again before he shifted his gaze to Meghan. “Shoplifting is a serious crime, and it usually lands you in jail for up to a few months. But, since this is your first offense, we’re willing to work with you.” He gestured to the woman with the bracelets. “Ms. Taft, the store manager, has said she won’t press charges if you agree to six weeks of community service. I just talked to the DA to make sure this was agreeable. He said you could begin Monday after school. You’ll report to the county courthouse. And you will not enter that store again. If you do, the management won’t hesitate to report you for trespassing.”

Janna nodded. “I’m sure it won’t happen again.” I hope. She glanced at Meghan to look for any indication that she felt the same way, but her niece’s face was impassive.

He tapped the card holding the earrings. “The DA also expects you to pay for the merchandise you stole. Three times the retail value.”

Janna glanced at Meghan. “How much did they cost?”

“Forty-nine ninety-five,” said the woman standing there. Her tone was less than friendly.

Janna couldn’t hold back her gasp. “And you want her to pay three times that much?” Acid burned in the back of her throat. She stood and moved to the trashcan.

“Take a seat, Ms. Kauffman.” This officer meant business. She wondered what had become of the kind gentleman who’d help her gather her fallen orange and later load her buggy with groceries. This man looked the same, but his attitude and bearing were completely different.

Janna cast him a frantic look, then lost the contents of her stomach—and what was left of her pride.

Ms. Taft gagged.

“Eww, Aunt Janna. Gross!”

At least Meghan had generated a reply.

Blinking back tears, Janna wiped her mouth with her sleeve.

The officer stood, opened a miniature refrigerator, and produced a bottle of water. Her throat burned.

“Thank you.” She reached to accept the water from him.

When their hands touched, fire shot through her fingertips, and she glanced quickly at him. His blue eyes widened as they met hers, but his expression remained sympathetic. Maybe he was friendly after all, and not so scary. She set the garbage can outside the door and then approached his desk again.

“Now. Back to business.” The officer’s voice hardened, and he sat down, all traces of kindness gone. “As I was saying….” He repeated himself, with enough force to make Janna’s stomach churn again. No matter the punishment Daed would kum up with for Meghan, it couldn’t be harsh enough for forcing Janna through this torture.

Something the policeman said must have penetrated Meghan’s indifference. She flung a wad of cash on the desk. Her hands didn’t even shake.

Janna stared in disbelief at the bills. Sharon sent Meghan a monthly allowance, but with the way Meghan spent money, Janna hadn’t thought she’d have any money left.

The manager reached for the stack and flipped through it. Apparently satisfied with the amount, she slid it into her pocket. “Thank you, Officer,” she almost purred. Then, she turned to Janna and hissed, “If that thieving brat ever sets foot in my store again, you can be sure I’ll have her arrested.” She flipped her hair, spun on her heel, and stomped out of the office.

“Thank you for coming in, Ms. Kauffman.” The uniformed man rose to his feet. “You can go now. I’ll escort your niece back to school.”

Janna didn’t even try to force a smile. “Thank you, sir.” She turned to Meghan. “I expect you to kum straight home after school. We are going to have a talk.”

“What. Ever.” Meghan punctuated the words with a sneer. “You aren’t my mom.”

Her comment struck like a fist, knocking the air from Janna’s lungs. No, she wasn’t Meghan’s mom. But she had once been her favorite aunt. They’d been more like sisters, really, since they were only five years apart.

Janna glanced at the police officer on her way out. In light of the humiliation she had just suffered, she decided that if she never saw him again, it would be way too soon.

She also decided that, whatever Sharon’s reasons for sending Meghan to Seymour to live with her Amish relatives, they weren’t gut enough.

FIRST Wildcard Tours Presents Sofia’s Secret by Sharlene MacLaren

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Sharlene MacLaren
and the book:
Sofia’s Secret, River of Hope Series Book 3
Whitaker House (October 1, 2012)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born and raised in western Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. After graduating, she traveled, then married one of her childhood friends, and together they raised two ldaughters. Now happily retired after teaching elementary school for over 30 years, “Shar” enjoys reading, singing in the church choir, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren—and, of course, writing. Her novels include Through Every Storm, Long Journey Home; the Little Hickman Creek series, the acclaimed historical trilogy, The Daughters of Jacob Kane, and the first two books in her latest series, River of Hope: Livvie’s Song and Ellie’s Haven.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

 The River of Hope Series, set in the 1920’s, continues with the story of Sofia Rogers who is pregnant, unmarried, and guarding a secret. Nobody in Wabash, Indiana seems to know her real story and Sofia isn’t about to share it. She’d rather bear the shame than face the threat of consequences. When Eli Trent, the new doctor in town, gets involved, trouble escalates in the form of thievery, arson, and death threats. Nevertheless, Eli remains determined to break down the wall of silence behind which Sofia hides her secret. He is out to convince her she is not alone and to help  her come to the realization that trusting him—and God—is the only thing that makes sense.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (October 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 160374214X

ISBN-13: 978-1603742146

****Waiting to read the first book before I read this one…then will leave a review for both!

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
—Psalm 51:17
June 1930
Wabash, Indiana
The blazing sun ducked behind a cloud, granting a smidgeon of relief to Sofia Rogers as she compressed the pedal to stop her bike in front of Murphy’s Market and, in a most inelegant manner, slid off the seat, taking care not to catch the hem of her loose-fitting dress in the bicycle chain. She scanned the street in both directions, hoping not to run into anyone she knew, then parked the rusting yellow bike next to a Ford truck. These days, she dreaded coming into town, but she couldn’t very well put off the chore much longer if she wanted to keep food on the table.
Her younger brother, Andy, had won the race to their destination. His equally corroded bike leaned against the building, and he stood next to it, his arms crossed, a burlap sack slung across one shoulder. As she approached, a smug grin etched his freckled face. “Didn’t I t-tell you I’d b-beat you?” 
“That’s because you had a full minute head start on me, you rascal.” Sofie might have added that her present condition did not permit the speed and agility she’d once had, but she wasn’t about to make that excuse. “Just you wait. I’ll win on the way back home.”
“N-not if I can help it.”
She pressed the back of her hand to her hot, damp face and stepped up to the sidewalk. “We’ll see about that, Mr. Know-It-All.”
Andy pointed at her and laughed. “Now your face is all d-dirty.” 
She looked at her hands, still soiled from working in the garden that morning, and frowned. “I guess I should have lathered them a little better when I washed up.” She bent over and used the hem of her skirt to wipe her cheek before straightening. “There. Is that better?” 
He tilted his face and angled her a crooked grin. “Sort of.”
“Oh, who cares?” She tousled his rust-colored hair. “Come on, let’s get started checking those items off my shopping list.”
They headed for the door, but a screeching horn drew their attention to the street, where a battered jalopy slowed at the curb. Several teenage boys, their heads poking out through the windows, whistled and hollered. “Hey, sister! Hear you like to have a good time!”
At their crudeness, Sofie felt a suffocating pressure in her chest. With a hand on her brother’s shoulder, she watched the car round the bend, as the boys’ whoops faded into the distance.
“Who were those guys?”
“Nobody important.”
As if the baby inside her fully agreed, she got a strong push to the rib cage that jarred her and made her stumble.
“You alright?” Andy grabbed her elbow, looking mature beyond his eleven years.
She paused to take a deep breath and then let it out slowly, touching a hand to her abdomen. Even in her seventh month, she could scarcely fathom carrying a tiny human in her womb, let alone accept all of the kicks and punches he or she had started doling out on a daily basis. She’d read several books to know what to expect as she progressed, but none of them had come close to explaining why she already felt so deeply in love with the tiny life inside of her. Considering that she hadn’t consented to the act committed against her, she should have resented the little life, but how could she hold an innocent baby accountable? “I’m fine,” she finally assured her brother. “Let’s go inside, shall we?”
Inside Murphy’s Market, a few people ambled up and down the two narrow aisles, toting cloth bags or shopping baskets. Sofie kept her left hand out of view as much as possible, in hopes of avoiding the condemnation of anyone who noticed the absence of a wedding band on her left ring finger. Not that she particularly cared what other folks thought, but she’d grown weary of the condescending stares. Several women had tried to talk her into giving the infant up for adoption, including Margie Grant, an old friend who had served as a mother figure to her and Andy ever since their parents had perished in a train wreck in 1924. “The little one growing inside you is the result of an insidious attack, darling. I shouldn’t think you’d want much to do with it once it’s born,” Margie had said. “I happen to know more than a few childless couples right here in Wabash who would be thrilled to take it off your hands. You should really consider adoption.”
Because Margie had long been a loyal friend, Sofie had confided in her about the assault, including when and where it had occurred. As for going to the authorities and demanding an investigation—never! Margie had begged her to go straight to Sheriff Morris, but she had refused, and then had made Margie swear on the Bible not to go herself.
“That is a hard promise to make, dearest,” Margie had conceded with wrinkled brow, “but I will promise to keep my lips buttoned. As for adoption, if you gave the baby to a nice couple in town, you would have the opportunity to watch it grow up. That would bring you comfort, I should think, especially if you selected a well-deserving Christian couple.”
“I can’t imagine giving my baby away to someone in my hometown, Christian or not.” 
“Well then, we’ll go to one of the neighboring towns,” the woman had persisted. “Think about it, sweetheart. You don’t have the means to raise a child. Why, you and Andy are barely making ends meet as it is. Who’s going to take care of it while you’re at work?”
“I can’t think about that right now, Margie. And, please, don’t refer to my child as an ‘it.’”
The woman’s face had softened then, and she’d enfolded Sofie in her arms. “Well, of course, I know your baby’s not an ‘it,’ honey. But, until he or she is born, I have no notion what to call it—I mean, him or her.”
“‘The baby’ will do fine.”
Margie had given her a little squeeze, then dropped her hands to her sides and shot her a pleading gaze. “I sure wish you’d tell me who did this to you. It’s a crime, you know, what he did.”
Yes, it had been a crime—the most reprehensible sort. And it was both a blessing and a curse that Sofie couldn’t remember the details. The last thing she could remember was drinking her habitual cup of coffee at Spic-and-Span Cleaning Service before starting her evening rounds. She’d thought it tasted unusually bitter, but she’d shrugged it off at the time. Half an hour later—at the site of her job that night, at the law offices of Baker & Baker—she’d been overcome by dizziness and collapsed. She’d teetered in and out of consciousness, with only a vague notion of what was going on. When she’d awakened, it had been daylight, and she was sore all over. Fortunately, it had been a Saturday, and the offices were closed; no one had discovered her lying there, nauseous and trembling, her dress torn, her hair disheveled. A particular ache had given her a clue as to what had gone on while she’d been unconscious. As the sickening reality had set in, she’d found beside her the note that had haunted her ever since.
Breathe one word about this and you can say bye-bye to your brother.
It had been typed on the official letterhead of the sheriff’s office, making her even less inclined to go to the authorities. Whoever had assaulted her had connections to the law, and she wasn’t about to risk her brother’s life to find out his identity. Plus, without a name, and with no visual or auditory recollection, she had nothing to offer that would aid an investigation.
By the time she realized she’d gotten pregnant, two months had passed—too late to go crying to the authorities. Not that she’d planned to. Her attacker’s threat had been enough to keep her quiet. She could bear the scorn and the shame, as long as he left her alone. And the only way of ensuring that was to comply with his demands. No, she couldn’t say anything more about it to Margie.
“Margie, we’ve been over this. It’s better left unsaid, believe me.”
“But, don’t you know people are going to talk? Who knows what they’ll think or say when you start to show? If they learned the truth, perhaps they’d go a little easier on you.”
“No! I can’t. No one must know—not even you. I’m sorry, Margie.”
Margie had rubbed the back of her neck as if trying to work out a kink. A loud breath had blown past her lips and whistled across Sofie’s cheek. “You know I love you, and so I will honor your wishes…for now.” Then, her index finger had shot up in the air, nearly poking Sofie in the nose. “But if he so much as comes within an inch of you again, I want you to tell me right away, you hear? I can’t abide thinking that he’ll come knocking at your door. You must promise me, Sofia Mae Rogers!”
Sofie had hidden the shiver that had rustled through her veins at the mere thought of crossing paths with her attacker again. Why, every time she went to work, she couldn’t get the awful pounding in her chest to slow its pace until she was home again. She’d stopped drinking and eating at work—anywhere other than at home, really.
“Show me your list, Sofie.” Andy’s voice drew her out of her fretful thoughts. She reached inside her pocket and handed over the paper. When he set off down an aisle, she idly followed after, her mind drifting back into its musings.
***
Dr. Elijah Trent parked his grandfather’s 1928 Ford Model A in the lot beside Murphy’s Market. As he climbed out, he was careful not to allow his door to collide with a bicycle standing nearby. Another battered bike leaned against the building. It looked as if it could use some serious repair work. He closed his door and took a deep breath of hot June air, then cast a glance overhead at the row of birds roosting on a clothesline that stretched between two apartment buildings across the street.
When he pulled open the whiny screen door, an array of aromas teased his nostrils, from freshly ground coffee beans to roasted peanuts in a barrel. As he stepped inside, a floorboard shrieked beneath his feet, as if to substantiate its long-term use.
“Afternoon,” said the shopkeeper, who glanced up from the cash register, where he stood, ringing up an order for a young pregnant woman. Beside her, a boy dutifully stuffed each item into a cloth bag. The young woman raised her head and glanced briefly at Eli, who sensed a certain tenseness in her chestnut-colored eyes. Then, she shifted her gaze back to the clerk.
“Say, ain’t you Doc Trent’s grandson?” the man asked.
“That I am, sir. Elijah Trent. But most people call me Eli.”
The clerk stopped ringing items for a moment and gave him an up-and-down glance. “Heard you’re takin’ over the old fellow’s practice. That’s mighty fine o’ you. I understand you graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, an’ you worked at a Detroit hospital for two years, but you were itchin’ for small-town livin’. Timing’s good, since Doc’s retirin’. S’pose you two been plannin’ this for quite a while now, eh? Hate to see Wilson Trent retire, but most folks seem to think it’ll be good to get in some new blood. Get it? Blood?” He gave a hearty chortle, causing his rotund chest to jiggle up and down.
Eli smiled at the friendly man. “It sounds like Grandfather’s been keeping everyone well-informed.”
“He sure has. Plus, the Plain Dealer wrote up that article ’bout you.”
“Yes, I heard that.”
The woman shifted her narrow frame and fingered one of her short, brown curls, but she kept her eyes focused on the counter. Beside her, the freckle-faced youngster poked his head around the back of her and met Elijah’s gaze. They stared at each other for all of three seconds, but when Eli smiled, the boy quickly looked forward again.
As the clerk resumed ringing up their order, Eli reached inside his hip pocket and grabbed the short list his grandfather had scrawled in his somewhat shaky handwriting. In Detroit, he’d taken most of his meals at the hospital. Helping his grandfather in the kitchen would be an entirely new experience. At least it would be only temporary, until Grandfather’s housekeeper of twenty-odd years, Winifred Carmichael, returned from her two-week vacation out West.
“You lookin’ for anythin’ in particular?” the clerk asked.
“Nothing I can’t find on my own, sir.”
“Pick up one o’ them baskets by the door for stashin’ what you need. Name’s Harold, by the way. Harold Murphy. I’ve owned this place goin’ on thirty years now.”
Eli bent to pick up a basket. He hadn’t thought to bring along a sack in which to carry the items home. The store he had occasioned in Detroit had offered brown paper bags, but the trend didn’t seem to have caught on in Wabash just yet. “Yes, I recall coming here with my grandmother as a kid.”
“And I remember you, as well, with that sandy hair o’ yours and that there dimple in your chin.”
“Is that so? You have a good memory, Mr. Murphy.”
A pleased expression settled on the clerk’s face. “You used to ogle my candy jars and tug at your grandmother’s arm. ’Course, she’d always give in. She couldn’t resist your pleadin’. Seems to me you always managed to wrangle some chewin’ gum out o’ her before I finished ringin’ her order.”
“It’s amazing you remember that.”
“Well, some things just stick in my memory for no particular reason.” He glanced across the counter at the freckle-faced boy. “Young Andy, here, he’s the Hershey’s chocolate bar type. Ain’t that right, Andy?”
The lad’s head jerked up, and he looked from Mr. Murphy to the woman beside him. “Yes, sir. C-c-can I g-get one today, Sofie?”
Her slender shoulders lifted and drooped with a labored sigh. “I suppose, but don’t expect any other treats today.”
“I won’t.”
The brief tête-à-tête allowed Eli the chance to disappear down an aisle in search of the first item on his list: sugar. He found it about the same time the screen door whined open once more, with the exit of the young woman and the boy. Next, Eli spotted the bread at the end of the aisle. He picked up a loaf and nestled it in the basket, next to the box of sugar.
“Well, I think it’s plain disgraceful, her coming into town and flaunting herself like that. My stars, has she not an ounce of decency? And what, pray tell, is she teaching that brother of hers by not keeping herself concealed?”
“I must agree, it’s quite appalling,” said another.
Eli’s ears perked up at the sound of female scoffs coming from the other side of the shelving unit at the back of the store. He stilled, slanted his head, and leaned forward. If he could push a few cans and boxed goods to the side without creating a commotion, he might manage a partial view of the gossips.
“I always did wonder about her and that pitiable little brother of hers, living all alone on the far edge of town. No telling what sort of man put her in a motherly way. Why, if I were in her place, I’d have gone off to stay with some relative in another state. One would think she’d have somewhere she could go. She could have birthed the child, given it to some worthy family, and come back to Wabash, and no one would’ve been the wiser.”
The other gossip cleared her throat. “Perchance her ‘lover’ won’t hear of her leaving, and she doesn’t dare defy him. She always did come off as rather defenseless, wouldn’t you say?” 
“Yes, yes, and very reclusive. Never was one to join any charity groups or ladies’ circles. Why, she doesn’t even attend church, to my knowledge. As I said before, the whole thing is disgraceful.”
Eli shuffled around the corner and stopped at the end of the next row, where he picked up a couple of cans of beans, even though they weren’t on Grandfather’s list, and dropped them into his basket with a clatter. The chattering twosome immediately fell silent. Eli cast a casual glance in their direction, and he almost laughed at their poses of feigned nonchalance. One was studying the label on a box, while the other merely stared at a lower shelf, her index finger pressed to her chin.
When Eli started down the aisle, both of them looked up, so he nodded. “Afternoon, ladies.”
The more buxom of the two batted her eyelashes and plumped her graying hair, then nearly blinded him with a fulsome smile. “Well, good afternoon to you.”  She put a hand to her throat. “My goodness. You’re Doc Trent’s grandson?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Well, I’ll be. I overheard you talking with Harold, but I didn’t lay eyes on you until now.” She perused him up and down. “You sure are a handsome devil.” 
“Oh, for mercy’s sake, Bessie, mind your manners.” The second woman bore a blush of embarrassment. “Don’t pay her any heed, Doctor. She’s such a tease.” She extended a hand. “I’m Clara Morris, the sheriff’s wife, and this is Bessie Lloyd. Her husband owns Lloyd’s Shoe Store, over on Market Street. Welcome to Wabash, Dr. Trent. We read about your impending arrival in the newspaper. I hope you find yourself feeling right at home here.”
“I’m sure I will.” Eli shifted his shopping basket and extended a hand first to Mrs. Morris, then to the annoying Mrs. Lloyd. He would have liked to remind them that two upstanding women in the community ought to put a lock on their lips, lest they tarnish their own reputations, but he hadn’t come to Wabash with the intention of making instant enemies, so he restrained himself. “Nice meeting you ladies. You have a good day, now.”
He glanced to his left and, seeing a shelf with maple syrup, snatched a can and tossed it into his basket. Casting the women one last smile, he headed down the aisle in search of the remaining items.
“My, my,” he heard Mrs. Lloyd mutter. “I think it may be time for me to switch physicians.” 
“But you’ve been seeing Dr. Stewart for years,” Mrs. Morris said. “What about your bad knee?”
“Pfff, never mind that. I’d much rather look into that young man’s blue eyes and handsome face than Dr. Stewart’s haggard mug. Why, if I were younger….”
Eli picked up his pace and made it out of earshot before she finished her statement.
Several minutes later, he’d rounded up everything on his list, so he made his way to the cash register. As he did, the voices of the two gabby women carried across the store. Evidently, they’d found a new topic of conversation. “I went to McNarney Brothers yesterday,” Mrs. Lloyd was saying, “and would you believe they raised the price of beef by five cents a pound? Don’t they know times are tight? Before you know it, folks won’t be able to afford to eat.”
“She could afford to go a few days without eatin’,” Harold Murphy muttered. His eyes never strayed from his task, as he keyed in the amount of each item before placing it back in the basket.
Eli covered his mouth with the back of his hand until his grin faded. He decided it was best to keep quiet on the matter. Something else bothered him, though, and he couldn’t resist inquiring. He leaned in, taking care to keep his voice down. “That girl…er, that woman, who left a bit ago, who is expecting….”
“Ah, Sofia Rogers? She was here with her little brother, Andy.” Mr. Murphy rang up the final item, the loaf of bread, and placed it gently atop the other goods. Then, he scratched the back of his head as his thin lips formed a frown. “It’s a shame, them two…well, them three, I guess you could say.” He glanced both ways, then lowered his head and whispered, “Don’t know who got her in that way, and I don’t rightly care. When she comes here, I just talk to her like nothin’s different. Figure it ain’t really my concern. I know there’s been talk about her bein’ loose, an’ all, but I can’t accept it. Never seen her with anybody but that little boy. She takes mighty fine care o’ him, too.”
“She’s his guardian, then?”
“Sure enough, ever since…oh, let’s see here…summer of twenty-four, it was. They lost their ma and pa in a terrible train wreck. They’d left Andy home with Sofie for a few days, whilst they went to a family funeral somewhere out West, little knowing their own funeral would be three days later.” The man shook his balding head.
The news got Eli’s gut to roiling. Even after all those years of medical school, which should have calloused him to pain and suffering, his heartstrings were wound as taut as ever. He needed to learn to toughen up. Needed to accept that, thanks to Adam and Eve’s fateful decision in the garden, bad things happened to innocent people; that he lived in an imperfect world in which evil often won.
“Where do they live, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Somewheres out on the southwest edge o’ town. River Road, I believe, just off o’ Mill Creek Pike.”
Eli didn’t know Wabash well, but his grandfather certainly did, having driven virtually every street within the town limits to make house calls. But what was he thinking? He ought to bop himself on the noggin. He knew next to nothing about this woman, and the last thing he needed upon taking over Wilson Trent’s medical practice was a reputation for sticking his nose where it didn’t belong.
Eli paid the shopkeeper and took up the basket. He had a good feeling about Harold Murphy. “Nice to see you again, sir. I’ll bring this basket back next time I come in…or shall I return it to you tonight?”
Harold flicked his wrist. “Naw, you bring it back whenever it’s convenient. You give ol’ Doc a hearty hello from me.”
“I’ll do that.” Eli turned and proceeded to the door, shoving it open with his shoulder. The first thing he noticed when he stepped outside was the absence of the two bikes, and it occurred to him then that Sofia and Andy Rogers had ridden to and from Murphy’s Market on those rickety contraptions. A woman in what looked to be her seventh month of pregnancy, riding a bike clear to the edge of town? In a dress? And in this heat?
This time, he did bop himself on the head.

FIRST Wildcard Tours presents….Laura V. Hilton and Healing Love

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Laura V. Hilton
and the book:
Healing Love, Amish of Webster County Book One
Whitaker House (September 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas, is a pastor’s wife, mother of five, author LVHilton1210and book lover. She’s got a degree in business but her passion has long been the mission of Christian fiction. Her first series, The Amish of Seymour from Whitaker House (Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another) earned praise from critics and fans for originality and authenticity, thanks in part to Laura’s Amish grandmother who taught her Amish culture at a young age, and her husband Steve’s family ties to the Amish community in Webster County, Missouri, which has been helpful in her research. Laura is the author of two novels for Treble Heart Books and a contributor to Zondervan’s It’s The Year Life Verse Devotional. She’s a member of ACFW for whom shewrites Amish reviews for the magazine, Afictionado, anda long time reviewer for the Christian Suspense Zone. Laura is astay-at-home mom, homeschooler, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger who posts reviews at: www.lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Shane Zimmerman, a young veterinarian and widower, is first person on the scene of a serious buggy accident buggy in Webster County, Missouri. He rushes Amish midwife Kristi Lapp, been badly injured in the crash, to the nearest hospital. The two discover they’re next door neighbors and a friendship develops as Shane helps Kristi with her high-energy Siberian husky, Chinook, for whom she can’t properly care because of her leg injuries. Shane hopes to further develop their relationship, but Kristi is leery and discourages him at first — Shane isn’t Amish (although his grandparents were) and Kristi’s father would prefer she marry any aged Amish widower rather than an Englischer – even one with ties to the community who is close to her age. Despite the forces that would keep them apart, the strong attraction Kristi and Shane have for one another grows stronger. As their on-again, off-again relationship persists, Shane must come to grips with his identity and reevaluates why he’s Englisch.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (September 3, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603745068

ISBN-13: 978-1603745062

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

 

 

Healing Love by Laura V. Hilton

 

When Kristi Lapp wrecked in her buggy, she never dreams she will meet the man of her dreams. Or could he be, because he’s not Amish, and Kristi could never give up her family and Amish lifestyle to marry outside her faith. And to make things a little more tense, Shane Zimmerman lives next door to the Lapp farm.

 

Wow this is a wonderful Amish story, but one with many twists and turns, as I have found in all of Laura Hilton’s Amish fiction. And this is what makes Laura’s book so very good! I love the attraction between Shane and Kristi, and the sticky situations they find themselves in because their lifestyles are so different. And I can understand that Kristi’s dad loves her, and wants only what is best for her. And Shane Zimmerman is not that best, as far as her dad is concerned. But then as Shane spends time around the Lapp farm, with her dad and uncle because he’s walking Kristi’s dog Chinook, the two Amish men begin to respect Shane, and even think he is a good man, good enough for Laura, only if he was Amish.

 

Oh what a tangled web we weave, and that is just what author Laura Hilton does in Healing Love. Throughout the book, I kept wondering how the author was going to make it a happy ending, or if she would indeed. Well, I’m not going to tell in my review, because it will ruin it for you, but you really need to get the book and read it. I will assure you, there is no disappointment here. And don’t forget to watch out for the next installment in this series, The Amish of Webster County.

 

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Whitaker House through FIRST Wildcard Tours for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions here are mine only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter 1

October

Kristi Lapp flicked the reins impatiently. “Kum on, Samson. ‘Slow’ isn’t the only speed you’re capable of, ain’t so?” She needed him to pick up the pace. Silas Troyer had banged on her door earlier to alert her that his frau, Susie, was going into labor, and then he’d raced down the lane in his horse-and-buggy to notify their family members of the imminent birth.

Kristi was especially excited about this boppli. Susie had four girls, all of them a year apart, and she’d been expecting to have a boy this time, based on how different it had felt carrying him. Mamms usually sensed these things. And Kristi predicted she was right.

Several deer stepped onto the road right in front of Kristi, none of them even glancing her way. Smiling, she pulled the reins slightly to the right to direct Samson away from them, over to the side of the road. A similarly sized herd had meandered its way through her family’s backyard the other day, and she’d always admired the animals for sticking together as they did.

She tightened her grip on the reins and gave them another flick, hoping to encourage Samson to move more quickly.

As the deer were crossing the center line into the other lane, the powerful roar of an engine broke the serenity of the setting. A red sports car crested the hill up ahead, barreling in Kristi’s direction at a speed she’d never witnessed on this road. She heaved a breath of exasperation. Any idiot would have noticed one of the several signs that read, “Watch for Buggies.” They were impossible to miss, and Kristi had passed four of them in the last mile alone.

As the car whizzed toward her, the herd of deer scattered, darting in different directions. The driver swerved sharply into Kristi’s lane to avoid them, and she gasped, frantically trying to steer the buggy over toward the shoulder. A chill ran up her spine at the sight of the steep embankment and deep ditch below.

One of the spooked deer pivoted. Made a mad dash straight toward her horse. Samson reared and immediately took off at a run, straight toward the ditch.

“Whoa, Samson!” Kristi planted her feet against the front of the buggy and pulled back on the reins with all her might. Leave it to Samson to shift into high gear at the worst time.

The car sped past, but Samson wouldn’t slow down. He was heading straight for the side of the road. Panic surged through Kristi, constricting her breath. Should she try to jump out? She dropped the reins and scooted to the edge of the seat.

She was too late. The buggy lurched as Samson ran headlong over the embankment. As the vehicle tipped, she was propelled out the side. Hours seemed to pass before her body collided with the ground and pain engulfed her.

Teetering on the edge of consciousness, she thought briefly of Susie. How desperately she wanted to be there to assist with the birth of her boppli! Especially considering the problems she’d had with her first delivery…. And then she blacked out.

***

Shane Zimmerman flipped on his fog lights to illuminate the low-lying clouds, which created interesting shapes and shadows against the dark backdrop of woods lining the rural Missouri highway. He scanned the area for deer ousted from their natural habitats by hunters. Of course, rutting season also brought them out of hiding. Not that he hunted. He did treat many a pet that had been injured accidentally by a hunter, such as the Great Dane boarding at his clinic while she recovered from the surgical removal of an errant bullet.

Shane reached inside the console for a CD—the latest release from LordSong—and slid it into the player. As the uplifting music filled the car, he flexed his shoulders in an effort to relieve the tension of the busy day behind him. He looked forward to getting home and kicking back to read his Bible and watch the evening news.

As his Jeep crowned the hill, he tapped the brakes at the sight of a wrecked Amish buggy. He scanned the area, but there was no sign of horse or driver. The animal must have been released and carted home. Or put down, if its injuries had been severe enough.

Returning his gaze to the highway, he slowed. A young buck lay on the road, still alive yet struggling.

Shane pulled his Jeep to the shoulder, put it in park, and clicked on the hazard lights. Leaving the keys in the ignition, he got out, his heart pounding in time with the obnoxious dinging sound of the car. Cautiously, he approached the deer. Its brown eyes fixed on him, wild with fear. The animal lurched to a standing position for a second but quickly collapsed again on the hard pavement, where it remained. Its labored breaths intensified. Whoever had hit it had driven off, leaving it to die. Was the same person to blame for the buggy accident? He’d probably never know.

“It’s okay,” Shane spoke softly.

The deer flicked its ears and struggled to its feet again.

“I’m here to help you.” Shane stepped closer, keeping a wary eye on the rack of antlers. It was hardly the biggest he’d seen, but even small antlers could do hefty damage.

With another flick of its ears, the buck struggled to a semi-standing position and limped off to the edge of the road and into the forest. It would surely die, but Shane couldn’t do anything about that. He wasn’t about to chase an injured wild animal through the woods. He didn’t carry much medical gear in his Jeep, anyway, aside from a few larger tools used for treating farm animals.

He started back toward his vehicle, but a glance at the buggy lying on its side gave him a strong urge to check it out. No point in hurrying. He rubbed his eyes, weary after a long day at the clinic, and surveyed the scene. The buggy appeared to be abandoned.

Then, he moved to the edge of the embankment and gazed down the leaf-covered slope. Something caught his eye. A woman? Shane squinted. Sure enough, there was an Amish woman, wearing a maroon dress and a black apron. Gold hair peeked out from underneath her white prayer kapp, and a black bonnet hung loosely around her shoulders. “Hello?”

No answer. His breath hitched. Had she hit the deer? Or had the deer hit her? He frowned. Accidents caused by deer affected more cars than buggies, by far. Where was the horse?

Heart pounding, he scrambled down through the brush into the ditch. As he crouched beside the woman, his nose caught the metallic odor of blood. The brilliant red on her dress wasn’t part of the fabric. He lifted the hem just enough to spot the injury. Her left leg lay at a weird angle, with a bone protruding from the skin. Definitely broken.

His heart sank. He couldn’t help her. His expertise was limited to animals.

But he was the only one there. And she needed help—urgently.

“Hey.” He touched her left hand. It felt warm. He noted the shallow rise and fall of her chest. His fingers moved down to her wrist, feeling for her pulse. Alive but unresponsive. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed 9-1-1. When the dispatcher answered, he said, “I’d like to report a buggy accident. We need an ambulance. The woman is unconscious and bleeding with a badly broken leg. Looks like a serious injury.” He added their approximate location.

Glancing again at the bone sticking out of her skin, Shane shuddered. Animals, he could handle. Humans were too easy to identify with; their injuries hit too close to home. He leaned down and gently pushed her hair away from her neck. Her pulse was extremely rapid and weak. He breathed a prayer that help would arrive quickly.

As he studied her face for the first time, recognition nearly knocked him off balance. This woman lived right next door to him. What were the odds of that? Her backyard was overrun with weeds, a stark contrast to her meticulously maintained garden in the side yard. He’d seen her working there many a time. She had the most beautiful dog he’d ever seen, a Siberian husky. And the thought had dawned on him, more than once, that the dog’s owner was more than usually beautiful, as well.

She wasn’t married, as far as he knew. The only other people he’d spotted next door were an older couple, presumably her parents. Their last name was Lapp, if the stenciling on their mailbox was current.

Shane would have to stop by the house to let her family know about the accident. They would probably be worried sick when she didn’t return.

The young woman moaned, drawing Shane’s attention. He saw her eyelids flutter slightly, and then her eyes opened.

“It’s okay,” he said, gazing as calmly as he could into her grayish-green eyes. “Help is coming.”

“The pain…my head…my leg….” She winced as tears filled her eyes. “Who are you? I’ve seen you before.”

“I’m Shane Zimmerman. Your next-door neighbor.” He reached for her hand, hesitated, then folded his fingers gently around hers. As their skin connected, he was startled by the jolt that shot through his fingertips and gained intensity as it traveled through his hand and up his arm. He had no explanation, other than his being overly tired. “You’ll be fine,” he assured her.

She only moaned again and closed her eyes.

Shane stared down at her bloodstained skirt and saw that the fabric was saturated. He grimaced. She needed help fast, or she’d bleed out. Animal or human, he didn’t want death on his hands tonight.

God, help me. Shane let go of her hand and yanked his sweatshirt up and over her head. He lifted her skirt again and pressed the garment against her wound, knowing he could be introducing harmful germs. But there wasn’t a choice. He tried to make her as comfortable as he could without letting up the pressure. Even though she didn’t rouse again, he explained every measure he took, from applying pressure to strapping his belt as a tourniquet around her leg. Then, he sang a couple of Amish songs, the ones he remembered learning from his grandparents. His father had left the Amish as young man, choosing to marry Shane’s mom, who wasn’t Amish. But Shane had often spent entire summers with his grandparents.

Time hung in the air as he waited for help to arrive.

Finally, there was a screech of brakes and a rumble of gravel on the road above, followed by the sound of a vehicle door opening.

“Down here!” Shane called.

Seconds later, an EMT carrying a medical bag peeked over the embankment. “Ambulance is right behind me. You didn’t move her, did you?”

“No. But she’s bleeding profusely. I did what I could to slow it down.”

The man half climbed, half slid, down the slope toward Shane. “I’ve got some emergency flares in the back of my truck. Mind setting them out while I take a look at her?”

“Not at all.”

Shane did as he’d been asked, then walked over to the buggy to inspect it more closely. The leather harness straps dangled with frayed ends, indicating that the horse had broken free, possibly when the buggy tipped. He checked the immediate area and even wandered a ways into the woods for signs of a wounded animal, but no clues turned up. The roar of sirens in the distance beckoned him back to the site of the wreck.

In his Jeep, he found a rag and wiped off his bloody hands while he thought out the statement he’d make to the police.

An ambulance screeched to a stop beside the pickup, lights flashing, and a police cruiser pulled up alongside. It wasn’t long before the ambulance wailed away again, spiriting its nameless passenger toward the hospital in Springfield.

After Shane had finished answering the police officer’s questions, he started the two-mile trip home, keeping his eyes peeled for an injured horse. He passed his own small plot of land without any sign of the animal.

He pulled into the driveway next door, hurried up to the house, and pounded on the front door. No response. After several moments, he knocked again. He knew that the Amish generally kept their doors unlocked, but he didn’t feel comfortable opening the door and hollering into the hallway of a stranger’s house. He rapped one more time, just to be sure.

“Hey!”

Shane turned around and saw a man on the front porch of the house across the street.

The man started down the steps. “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for Ms. Lapp’s family. She was in a buggy accident.”

The man came closer. “She hurt bad?”

Shane nodded. “Bad.” Would she survive the trip to the hospital? His heart clenched.

“Donald Jackson. Me an’ the wife live here.”

Shane stretched his mouth into a tight smile. “Shane Zimmerman. Neighbor on the other side.”

“Oh, the new guy. Vet, right? Welcome to Seymour.”

“Thanks.” It hardly seemed appropriate to exchange pleasantries when someone’s life was hanging in the balance. Shane shifted his weight. “Does she have any family?”

Donald shrugged. “Everyone has some. See her parents and other people around from time to time. Sometimes lots of buggies over there. Besides, ain’t the Amish all related? Heard that somewhere.”

“Seems that way sometimes.” Okay, this man was no help. A howl from the backyard reminded Shane about the Siberian husky. “I’m going to check on the dog.” He strode down the porch steps and made his way around the side of the house.

Donald trailed him. “Barn’s always unlocked, I’m pretty sure, so you could get the dog’s food. I never see her lock it, anyway. But then, I don’t watch her twenty-four-seven or anything.”

Shane raised an eyebrow. This Donald apparently watched her often enough to know about the barn door and the dog food. “Nice meeting you, Donald. I’ll just make sure the dog has fresh water, and then I’ll go.” He needed to find someone Amish to notify.

Seeing the red and white Siberian husky in a large kennel in the backyard, Shane opened the gate and went in, shutting it behind him. The dog whined and jumped up, wrapping him in a sort of canine embrace. Shane hugged her back. This breed was so affectionate. He rubbed her neck, then stepped back, picked up her metal water dish, and headed for the outside spigot, which he’d spotted on his way to the backyard. The dog followed closely at his feet, growling in a friendly way, as if she carried on a one-sided conversation. At the spigot, Shane filled the dish with cold water, then checked the barn door. It was unlocked, as Donald had said it’d be.

Shane stopped and scratched the dog behind her ears. “I’ll be back later to get you some food.” He hesitated. “No, I’ll do it now.” He turned back to the barn and slid both wobbly doors open, going into the darkness. He paused, wishing for his flashlight, then remembered that his Amish grandfather had always kept a lantern near the door. He turned back and groped along a shelf, finally feeling the familiar metal base of a lantern. Next to it was a book of matches, one of which he used to light the wick. It didn’t seem right, being in a stranger’s barn, but the dog would be hungry.

He found the dog food and bent down to scoop some into the dish. Then, he straightened and looked around. This was an Amish farm. There’d be other animals to bed down. Cows. Chickens. Horses. He sighed.

A nicker sounded, and Shane turned to the door. Ah, the prodigal buggy horse, dragging the frayed strands of a harness. Shane spoke softly to the animal as he grabbed hold of one of the harness straps, and then he led it back to an empty stall. The dog followed, whining all the way. Shane gave the sweaty horse a rubdown, checking it for injuries. Nothing seemed amiss, other than the wild look in its eyes and the way it kept tossing its head, probably responses to the trauma of the accident.

When Shane had calmed the horse as best he could, he glanced around again. He knew the basics of managing an Amish farm, thanks to the years he’d spent helping his grandparents, but it was more than one person could handle alone. Another Amish family would probably take on the rest of the chores.

Still, he wanted to go to the hospital to check on Ms. Lapp. Why did she still weigh so heavily on his mind? He’d done his duty to her, a stranger.

His decision made, he returned the dog to her kennel. Before closing the door, he gave her another rub behind the ears. “I’ll be back.”

The dog flopped down on the ground with a reproachful whimper, as if he were abandoning her in her time of greatest need.

“Your master was in an accident, but she’ll be okay,” Shane explained. “I hope.” He crouched down to the dog’s level. “I’m going to the hospital right now to check on her.”

With another whine, the dog lowered her head to rest on her front paws. Apparently, she had resigned herself to his departing.

Shane drove home for a quick shower, then got back in his Jeep to head to the hospital. First, though, he stopped by the farm on the other side of his property. The mailbox there also said “Lapp,” and he figured the residents had to be relatives of the injured woman.

Seconds after he pulled into the driveway, a man came out into the yard. Shane introduced himself and asked for confirmation that this family was related to the other Lapps, specifically the young woman with the Siberian husky.

The man frowned. “Jah, we’re family. I’m Kristi’s onkel. Timothy. I’m caring for their livestock while her parents are visiting family in Sarasota. I was getting ready to head over there.”

Shane proceeded to tell Timothy about the accident. For a relative of Kristi’s, he processed the information rather stoically, Shane thought.

“Can I give you a lift to the hospital?”

Timothy took a step back. “Nein, I’ll contact the bishop, and he’ll get the word out. And I’ll make a call down to Florida to tell her parents.”

Timothy headed back to the barn, and Shane drove away, wondering why was he was taking the time to go to the hospital and check on a woman he didn’t even know. He probably wouldn’t find out anything, thanks to the strict privacy policy. But still, something drew him.

At the hospital, Shane went directly to the emergency wing and approached the front desk. “Kristi Lapp, please.”

The receptionist nodded and checked something on her computer. Then, she looked up with a sympathetic smile. “If you’ll take a seat in the waiting room, a doctor will be out to talk with you in just a few minutes.”

She must be in more serious condition than he’d thought. Shane went down the hall to the waiting area, where he was relieved to find a coffeemaker. He poured himself a coffee and watched several minutes of the sitcom playing on the TV mounted on the wall overhead.

As the only person in the room, he had his choice of seats. He selected a chair in a corner and picked up a magazine from the end table next to it. However, the contents didn’t appear to be any more interesting than the drama he was caught up in, so he put it back. Instead of reading, he prayed for Kristi and for the doctors working on her. It felt strange praying for a woman he didn’t know and waiting for an update from the doctor, as if she meant something special to him. But it seemed she did, even though he’d just met her. Did their brief interaction even count as a meeting? He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he hadn’t felt this strong a connection with a woman since Becca. Immediately he dismissed the thought.

He was glad he’d found out her name. Calling her “Ms. Lapp” seemed so wrong. Plus, he probably wouldn’t have been permitted to see her if the hospital staff thought he was a stranger.

Several people came into the waiting room and exited again during a period of time that felt like hours.

At last, a doctor came into the room. “Family for Kristi Lapp.”

Shane blew out a breath. Family he wasn’t, but he was the only person there for her. Hopefully, the doctor wouldn’t ask how he was related. He got up, feeling a twinge of guilt at his act of impersonation.

The doctor led him into a private conference room and gestured for him to sit down. “She’s in recovery. We’ve given her a blood transfusion, and we’ll be monitoring her hemoglobin and hematocrit—that is, blood values. As soon as we’re sure they are in the normal range, she’ll be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for a procedure we abbreviate as ORIF: open reduction internal fixation.”

Shane nodded. He was familiar with the procedure, but the doctor was probably accustomed to having to explain it, so he continued.

“Open reduction—that’s how we put the bone back in the position it’s supposed to be. And internal fixation is how we stabilize it—with a rod down the center of the bone and plates on either side, to keep it in the position it’s supposed to be in until nature takes her course and it heals completely. The plates may be removed later, as long as the bone heals well. Also, her femoral artery was nicked, but she’ll be fine. Lost a lot of blood. We had to give her three units. She’s going to have substantial bruising and probably be in considerable pain.”

“Has she regained consciousness?”

“Not yet. But brain activity is normal, and we expect no complications.”

“Thank you.” Shane stood up and started for the door.

“If you want to wait, I’ll have a nurse come and show you to her room.”

Shane stopped in the doorway. “I’ll come in tomorrow.”

The doctor frowned. “I’m sure your wife will want to see you when she wakes up.”

***

Kristi woke up in an unfamiliar room filled with odd beeping noises. Straight ahead, a television was mounted on the celery-green wall. To her right was a beige-colored curtain; to her left, a big, dark window. The hospital. How did she get here? Someone must have found her. What about Samson? What had happened to him?

Had Susie birthed her boppli? Kristi groaned and shifted on the bed, noticing the bedside table with a plastic pitcher of water and an empty tumbler. And…flowers? She smiled at the vase holding six pink rosebuds, a cluster of baby’s breath, and some other greenery. Who would have sent a bouquet? Maybe the person who’d found her.

With great effort, she reached with her right arm toward the table, pain washing over her anew. It seemed every part of her body ached. Despite the discomfort, she extended her arm just far enough to snatch the white envelope from the plastic forklike thing tucked into the bouquet.

Her left hand had an IV needle stuck in it, taped down. She grimaced at the sight. She’d have a bruise there, probably, but that would be the least of her injuries. Even with her pain-blurred vision, which made it seem as if the room was spinning, she could tell from the shape of the blanket that covered her legs how swollen they were. Her left leg, in particular—that’s where most of the pain radiated from. Wincing with effort, she tore open the envelope and pulled out a plain white card. The message written inside was simple:

You’re in my prayers.

Shane Zimmerman

Sweet, but it must have been intended for another patient. She didn’t know anybody by the name of Shane Zimmerman. Or did she? Her head pounded as she tried to figure it out. No one came to mind.

Maybe this mystery man would come to the hospital to see her.

She pressed the card to her chest and closed her eyes, imagining a tall, handsome Amish man. Hopefully, when she fell asleep, he would visit her in her dreams.

A PROMISE TO ANOTHER BY:LAURA HILTON

A PROMISE TO ANOTHER

BY:LAURA HILTON

Paperback:304 pages
Publisher:Whitaker House (March 1, 2012)
Language:English
ISBN-10:1603742573
ISBN-13:978-1603742573
Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches

BOOK BLURB

Annie Beiler is a spunky, spirited schoolteacher, but she’s struggled ever since the man she was promised to “jumped the fence” and left the Amish of Seymour. She needs a man who is committed to his Amish beliefs. And now, she’s struggling to regain the trust of the school board members and the parents of her pupils for taking her class on an unauthorized field trip to a nearby Civil War battlefield. She’s put on probation, and one wrong step could cost her the position permanently.
Joshua Esh of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, moved to Missouri ostensibly as part of the man swap meant to bring new blood into the community. Annie Beiler caught his attention the moment he arrived in Seymour, but he’s disheartened to discover that she is promised to another man–Luke, who left the Amish but vowed to return one day and claim “his” Annie. So, Josh fills his social calendar with singings and frolics, taking a different girl home from every event–with the exception of Annie, since she is already committed to someone.
When Luke comes home, Annie pushes him away, and Josh Esh comes to her rescue. But the situation becomes awkward, since Josh is staying with Luke’s family. An awareness of each other’s attraction to Annie causes the awkwardness to escalate, and Annie’s father soon invites Josh to stay with his family. But not all of the Beilers are happy about this new arrangement.
Soon, a buggy accident ends in a shotgun wedding after the bishop witnesses a kiss between Josh and Annie and insists they get married right away. The two protest, but the bishop is adamant. He later tells them why: he’d overheard some talk about a scheme Luke was launching to force Annie to marry him.
Marriage brings some dark secrets to the surface, and Annie and Josh must confront their issues and deal with the past if they plan on a future together.
Purchase at AMAZON
***************

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Wow what an awesome ending to a great series. I love Joshua and Annie, and I really like Annie’s wit and feisty attitude. She loved her students enough to fight for their education, even though the powers of the Amish church didn’t agree with her.  But Annie Beiler did want something different out of life. She wanted what the other Amish young ladies had at her age, a marriage and a family. But her intended, Luke Schwartz flew the coop and what is Annie suppose to do, sit back and wait on him?

Joshua Esh is only in Seymour County as a trade, and even though he is attracted to Annie, he knows she is off limits because she is promised to Luke. So Joshua can explore this part of the world, but just leave Annie alone. Or can he do that?

Laura Hilton gives us her best writing yet in “Promised To Another.” What I like about Laura’s writing is that she gives us a true feeling of the real Amish life. Her books don’t leave you feeling that the Amish live a perfect life, even though they are plain. Instead you will realize that the Amish struggle just as we all do.

I love Joshua and Annie’s story. It ended with a little different twist with the shotgun wedding, but I thought the Bishop did and commendable thing there. When you read the book, you will understand it all. I look forward to more of Laura Hilton’s books. If you haven’t read this series, you are missing a real treat. Go grab a copy of all three books in this series and enjoy yourself!

A copy of “Promised To Another” was provided by the author, Laura Hilton and Whitaker House Publishers. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions here in this review are mine only.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Hilton graduated with a business degree from Ozarka Technical College in
Melbourne, Arkansas. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she is
a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with more than a thousand
reviews published on the Web. Prior to Patchwork Dreams and A Harvest
of Hearts
, books one and two in her Amish of Seymour series with Whitaker
House, she published two novels with Treble Heart Books, Hot Chocolate
and Shadows of the Past, as well as several devotionals. Laura and her
husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes
their home in Arkansas. To learn more about Laura, read her reviews, and find
out about her upcoming releases, readers may visit her blog at
http://lighthouse–academy.blogspot.com/.

REUNION………….by Lauraine Snelling

REUNION

by Lauraine Snelling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THIS BOOK

Keira Johnson, a 50-year-old mother of two grown sons, believes she lives a good Christian life without secrets– until she discovers a life-jarring fact her late mother kept hidden all her life. Kiera was born out of wedlock, and the man she had always known as her father had adopted her as an infant.
Meanwhile, Keira’s beloved 17-year-old niece, Kirsten, has just discovered an unwanted pregnancy. Her boyfriend, Jose, is bound for college and Kirsten does not know what to do. As the family comes together for a reunion, Keira and Kirsten struggle with their fractured pasts and jumbled present. Will truth and honesty be the catalysts that allow the entire family to find peace?
Inspired by events in Lauraine Snelling’s own life.

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

The Sorenson family will be getting together for a reunion for the first time since Dagmar Sorenson passed away. As Dagmar’s daughter Keira is busy getting ready for the reunion, she is also busy looking for her birth certificate to get her passport for her dream trip with her husband to Norway. But what she finds will change her life forever because her birth certificate doesn’t have a fathers name. Why would her mother do this to her? And who is the mysterious man who fathered her, along with her mom? And is she still a Sorenson? After all she loved the father who raised her, and he loved her as well.

This is a heartwarming story of love, betrayal, forgiveness, understanding and hope. And Lauraine Snelling creates a special unique group of characters that develop so well throughout the story, giving readers a wonderful and enjoyable read. As we read Keira’s story, we laugh and cry with her as she is forced to deal with the developments taking place in her life. And with all of the twists and turns in the plot, I couldn’t put this book down. I kept reading and reading until the very last word.

I highly recommend this wonderful heartwarming read for anyone that likes a nice, clean, fun, read. You will not be disappointed, so pick up your copy today!

Buy this book from Christianbook.com / from Amazon.com / from Barnes & Noble

Buy an autographed copy from Lauraine

This book was provided by FaithWords for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

Lauraine Snelling Long Bio:

Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has seventy books published.

Shown in her contemporary romances and women’s fiction, a hallmark of Lauraine’s style is writing about real issues of forgiveness, loss, domestic violence, and cancer within a compelling story. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German, and she has won the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Landand a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

As a sought after speaker, Lauraine encourages others to find their gifts and live their lives with humor and joy. Her readers clamor for more books more often, and Lauraine would like to comply … if only her paintbrushes and easel didn’t call quite so loudly.

Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a watchdog Basset named Winston. They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.