Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston, © 2016

The Amish Heirloom Series, Book 2

This is a heartwarming story of life lived well. Rachel Fisher and Mike Lantz find each other through Mike's younger brother, John, a new student at an Amish classroom for assisted learning. Rachel is new at teaching, joining her cousin Malinda.

The Forgotten Recipe

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Mike does woodworking with his uncle and cousin at their Bird-in-Hand business for tourists and is at home with his widowed father and John. Two of his cousins rotate staying with their uncle during his illness while Mike is at work. Rachel and her sister Emily prepare a couple weekly evening meals to take to them. Their older sister Veronica supplies her wonderful homemade pies.

Bringing the meals develops into tutoring that both Rachel and John look forward to. Mike and Rachel fall into a routine that adds attention and love for John. The one-on-one at school and extra at home develops his confidence and joy. Invited to Rachel's family home brings Mike, Raymond, and John on outings that are fulfilling and a comfort as they get to know each other.

I am looking forward to reading more about the inheritance of the courtship basket in the next story!

I liked how Rachel's family had open communication, sharing with each other. Mike has been so busy being busy in his daily work and care that he hasn't seen the value of friendship with others. Instead of an addition, it becomes a supply of warmth and care he didn't realize he needed in his own life.

Amy Clipston tells a story so flowing that you come to know the characters and their thoughts as they are revealed to themselves. Learning to trust and gain friendship is paramount as both Mike and Rachel have sorrows to leave behind and learn to live beyond necessity.

***Thank you to author Amy Clipston for sending me an advance reader's copy of The Courtship Basket for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher, © 2016

The Bishop's Family, Book 2

David Stoltzfus' Bent N' Dent store becomes an active place as he hears his nieces have arrived from Ohio, unexpectedly, and... his mother bursts through the door telling him the layout of his store is all wrong. What a way to continue an otherwise quiet day.

Daughter Ruthie Stoltfus is equally befuddled at home as she tries to sort out what is going on with this cousin appearance ~ both Gabby (Abigail) and Laura, who proclaim they are there to stay ~ until their problems are fixed. What problems, Ruthie is uncertain exist? Her sisters, Molly and twins Lydie and Emma, are equally curious at their arrival.

Abigail Stoltfus has another reason for coming to Stoney Ridge. Convenient to put the supposed needs of her uncle's family in the forefront.

I am eager to see the happenings at Stoney Ridge since leaving them in book one! So enjoyed the beginning of this series!

Here's some advice to Abigail in a letter from her mother:
There's no need to over-volunteer facts from the books you read, especially if no one has asked you about them.
   --The Quieting, 148

You will meet Leroy Glick who is saving his bubble-gum wrappers to enter a contest to win a lifetime supply of bubble-gum by finding the winning wrapper. "The Sisters" who live across town, have a little bit of everything you could possibly need from the past ~ their collection.

A Penny for Your Thoughts… Quotes from ‘The Quieting’ by Suzanne Woods Fisher.: I like these series by this author for many reasons. Neighbors from previous series pop up, bringing community. An engaging family story of ups-and-downs; similarities in family traits ~ habits awakened when a better way is revealed. The Stoltzfus family is growing and finding their place. I learned many interesting things in the story along with the characters as they discovered them. Truth triumphs ~ humility and forgiveness surface, enriching lives.

"This series began in the Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania community with The Imposter. More twists and turns are coming to Stoney Ridge after The Quieting—so stay tuned for The Devoted to hit bookshelves in early October. Just in time for autumn reading by a warm fireplace!" ~ author Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Imposter   The Quieting   The Devoted
 Purchase your copy of The Quieting here.  

Suzanne Woods Fisher:

***Thank you to author Suzanne Woods Fisher, and to Celebrate Lit for sending me a print copy to read and review this second book in The Bishop's Family series as part of the book tour.***

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a grab bag of Amish-made gifts worth over $100!  Click the link to enter:

Blog Stops

May 17: Singing Librarian Books
May 17: Heidi Reads…
May 18: Just Commonly
May 19: ASC Book Reviews
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May 20: Inklings and Notions
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May 21: Daysong Reflections
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May 22: The Power of Words
May 22: Giveaway Lady
May 23: Texas Book-aholic
May 23: Splashes of Joy
May 24: Lane Hill House
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May 25: Jeanette’s Thoughts
May 25: Seasons of Opportunities
May 26: Book bites, Bee Stings & Butterfly Kisses
May 26: For the Love of Books
May 27: Southern Gal Loves to Read
May 27: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
May 28: Reading Is My SuperPower
May 28: Cassandra M’s Place
May 29: Bukwurmzzz
May 29: Bigreadersite
May 30: Blossoms and Blessings

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White, © 2016

Gulf Coast Chronicles series, Book 3
War of 1812-1814

What are the chances of finding an old friend on the shores of your stretch of the beach ~ unconscious and upon waking, not knowing who he is? Fortunate for him, you do recognize him, and have loved him for a long time. At least in your memory, you do.

Charlie Kincaid has washed up on the shore, half in and half out of the water. By happenstance, or does he know where he is? Subconsciously, perhaps, as he has been injured and does not remember his mission nor his rescuer.

Fiona Lanier has been grieving the loss of her brother ~ at least to her, as a prisoner of the very people Charlie represents. Confusion and heartfelt protectiveness surface as she secretly decides to bring him back to health on her family premises.

Who will recognize him as the years have tumbled by, to keep him from repercussion of her family's allegiance?

Family interloping from all sides, Fiona is moved from Navy Cove to spend time with cousin Maddy inland at Mobile, away from the throngs of war falling quickly on the Gulf Coast.

Amid war and the disparity between countries, there will be three love stories emerge.
   What she had learned today was that she was a creature of intense, fatal loyalty. Once she had given her heart, it would not be reeled back in.
   --The Magnolia Duchess, 204
The gallantry of those serving in what they believed in brought them further than they ever would have imagined. Honor and loyalty become turned as trustworthy alliances are met. Beth White brings us right in the middle of family and those they stand to protect. You will come away knowing more than you might have learned in school about this time period as you delve into their personal stories and focus. A surprise ending ~ and middle, as well ~ Fiona is worth winning!

Enjoy an excerpt of Beth White's The Magnolia Duchess ~ Chapter 1


AUGUST 13, 1814

She could set fire to the letter in her pocket and it would still be true.
   Smearing away tears with the heel of her hand, Fiona slid down from her buckskin mare, Bonnie, and landed barefoot in the sand. She led the horse to the water’s edge and splashed along beside her, knee-deep in waves chugging straight up from the Gulf of Mexico. At home, on the bay side of the isthmus, the beach was quieter and gentler, but here on the gulf side the wind tore at her hair and the salt mist stung her eyes. Perfect.
   Her brother was on a British prison ship lurking off the coast of North Carolina.
   The words from that terrible piece of paper floated like sunspots in front of her eyes. Her twin, the other half of herself, wasn’t coming home this time. Sullivan had been at sea since he’d turned fourteen, and in six years had worked his way up to lieutenant in the new American maritime service. His letters had been full of adventure and optimism, and twice he’d managed a few weeks’ leave between assignments.
   But this . . . this was so final.
   She knew what the British did to prisoners of war. Grandpére Antoine’s stories of Revolutionary War days, when he’d been held in the guardhouse at Fort Charlotte, were burned in her brain. Short rations, rancid water, little sleep. Beatings.
   She shuddered. Their older brother Léon said a prisoner exchange might be arranged. But who would do that f or an insignificant young lieutenant from the backwaters of West Florida?
   There had to be a way. Every day since Sullivan left home, she’d prayed for his safety, and God had protected him so far.
   There must be a way.
   She threw her arms around Bonnie’s damp neck, pressed her face into the warm hide, and let the tears come. Please, God, don’t take my brother.
   Bonnie blew out a breath and stood patiently, while the waves rolled in, rocking Fiona, wetting her dress from the knees down. Eyes closed, she let her thoughts drift to long-gone, lazy summer days when she and Sullivan had wandered Navy Cove beach, crab buckets banging against their legs and never a care in the world. Then came the year she went to England with Aunt Lyse and Uncle Rafa, leaving Sullivan behind. By the time she returned, he’d become a sea-crazy young man, determined to travel the world on anybody’s ship that would take him.
   With a sigh, she looked up at the steely sky. What was done couldn’t be undone, even by prayer.
   The wind picked up, a gust that nearly knocked her off her feet, so she took up the reins once more. Grabbing Bonnie’s mane, she hiked up her sodden skirts and swung astride the horse’s bare back. Her impulsive ride to the beach was going to make her late getting supper together. Yesterday’s storm had put the men behind at the shipyard. They’d be working until dark tonight and would come home hungry as bears.
   She’d ridden a ways down the beach, lost in thought, when Bonnie suddenly shied and stopped. Absently Fiona kicked her in the ribs. Bonnie shook her head and refused to move.
   “What’s the matter, girl?” Fiona leaned to the side. Bonnie had almost stepped on a pile of seaweed all but covered with wet sand.
   Wait, not seaweed. Material. Clothing. A body. A roll of surf washed up, stirred the folds of cloth, but the body did not move. Dead?
   Oh, please not dead.
   She slid down, throwing the reins to keep Bonnie in check. The body was facedown and hatless. A young man, judging by the thick, wet dark hair. Kneeling, she flipped him over just as another wave crashed in, sousing her. Coughing, shivering, she struggled to her feet and grabbed the man’s arms to drag him farther up onto the beach. He was tall and muscular, unbelievably heavy, inert as a sack of potatoes, and the tide was rolling in fast, but she managed to get him out of the reach of the waves. Bonnie wandered after her, snuffling in irritation.
   “I know,” she panted. “This wasn’t in my plan either.” Léon was going to grumble about supper being late.
   She let go of the young man’s arms and dropped to her knees, then put her ear to the wet wool covering his chest, praying for a rise and fall of breath. Maybe . . . maybe there was a faint thud under her cheek.
   Tugging and shoving, she got him turned over, faced own again, and pressed the heels of her hands against his back. Push, push, push, wait. He didn’t move. She tried again.
   He seemed to be dead.
   She sat there with her hands flat against the broad back. What would her brothers have done? She’d heard them talk about breathing into the mouths of men pulled from the sea. Should she try that?
   All but blinded by tears, she hauled the poor man onto his back and pushed his hair back from his face to look at him.
   She stifled a scream. “Charlie!” Grabbing his face in shaking hands, she tried to make sense of what made no sense. Charlie Kincaid would be across an ocean, in England, not washed up on a beach in West Florida. “Charlie, Charlie, don’t be dead! Father in heaven, don’t let him be dead!”
   Not knowing what else to do, she put her mouth to his and breathed, willing him to come to life. Again she blew air into his lungs. When nothing happened, she sat up panting, searching the familiar but man-grown face. The same, but not the same, as the boy she had known nine years ago. His face had lengthened with slashing angles of brow, cheekbone, and jaw, and he’d grown into the commanding nose. But there were the same ridiculously long, dark eyelashes and a mouth made for smiling and teasing a bookish, horse-crazy little girl.
   “Wake up, Charlie,” she muttered, “or I’m going to tell your grandfather you’re ditching your lessons again.”
   She bent to seal his lips with hers again, but his chest lurched under her hands. He gave a strangled cough, and water bubbled from his mouth. Relieved, terrified, Fiona scrambled to shove at his shoulder and back until she had him half turned. He continued to cough, weakly at first, then with hoarse, agonized gasps. Fiona pounded his back with all her strength , helping him rid his lungs of the suffocating seawater. “Don’t die, don’t die, don’t die.”
   Finally she heard him whisper something.
   She paused to bend close to his lips. “What?”
   “Sto . . .” He wheezed.
   “I said st . . . stop hitting me,” he choked out. “Headache.”
   Abruptly she straightened. “You’re alive! Oh, thank God, you’re alive!”
   Charlie winced. “Yes, but would you mind . . . lowering the volume?” He opened his eyes, those familiar, piercing cerulean eyes that she saw in her dreams.
   Well, one was blue, and the other had that odd hazel-brown splotch. Perfect, Charlie was not. “It’s so good to see you.”
   “Er . . . you too.” He coughed. “Do I know you?”
   “You don’t remember me?”
   He stared at her, his face sunburnt, sand-encrusted , and bearing a deep, bloody gash over his left eyebrow. But of course he was Charlie. She didn’t know anybody else who had those oddly colored eyes. No wonder he didn’t recognize her, though, for nine years had made a significant difference in her appearance.
   As if following her thoughts, Charlie’s gaze traveled downward from her face, and one eyebrow rose with that droll quirk she’d loved so much. “I think I’d remember you if we’d met before.”
   Suddenly aware that she all but sat on him, Fiona jumped to her feet. “Oh, you! You haven’t changed one bit—except it used to be Maddy you were drooling over.”
   “Maddy who? If there’s another one as pretty as you, I’ve landed in heaven.” He got an elbow underneath him and levered himself to a semi-sitting position. “What’s your name?”
   She stared at him in chagrin. “You really don’t remember?”
   “Right now I barely know my own name.” He looked around irritably. “If I haven’t broken down the pearly gates, where are we? Did I fall off my horse?”
   Fiona looked around and found Bonnie ambling closer, probably looking for food. “This is my horse, Bonnie. You seem to have washed in from the Gulf. There was a storm last night.” She paused. She’d heard of people losing their memory after a head wound. “You had to have been on a ship.” But where was it? Frustrated, she scanned the empty horizon. There wasn’t a hunk of wood or other detritus anywhere to indicate the type of vessel he’d arrived on. She shifted her gaze to the east, where an Indian trail ran toward Perdido Pass and on to Pensacola. Could he have come overland and then gotten injured and washed into the Gulf during the storm?
   Clearly no more enlightened than she, Charlie shut his eyes and lay back as if too exhausted to even look at her any longer.
   Now what was she going to do? She wasn’t strong enough to lift him onto the horse, and she couldn’t drag him back home to Navy Cove by herself.
   “I could go get Léon,” she said doubtfully.
   “So there’s a Maddy and a Léon, and a horse named Bonnie. I’ll just call you Duchess.”
   She whirled to look at him, and found one eye open—the solid blue one—and his lips curled in a smile. “Then you do remember me!” As the only girl in a family full of boys, she’d been called “Duchess” since she was just a little thing.
   “I don’t think so.” The smile faded. “That isn’t really your name, is it?”
   “Of course not. But I told you about it the night we blew up the—never mind.” Drowning in memory and anxiety and confusion, she dragged in a breath. “I’m Fiona Lanier. My cousin Maddy and my aunt and uncle all stayed at your grandfather’s estate the summer I was eleven years old.”
   “If I hadn’t gotten brained and nearly drowned, I’m sure I would remember you,” Charlie said gently. “But don’t you think we ought to get off the beach? Because, and I hate to mention it, I think the tide is going to carry us back out to sea before very long.”
   “Oh!” With a start Fiona realized he was right. The surf had crawled inland until the waves had almost reached Charlie’s feet.
   He was on his elbow again, clearly intending to stand up.
   She shrieked. “No! You’ll faint!”
   But he rolled to his knees. “I’ll be fine,” he managed, panting. “Do you have a saddle for that horse?”
   “Of course I do, but it’s at home. I just came out for a quick ride on the beach.” Suddenly she remembered the letter. How could she have forgotten Sullivan? She wrung her hands. Now she had an injured British aristocrat to care for, and Léon was going to be mad as a wet hen.
   “All right, well, bareback it’ll be then.” Charlie was on his feet, swaying like a man coming off a five-day bender. He lurched at Bonnie, who quite understandably pranced away from him. Charlie landed on his rear and began to curse in Spanish.
   Laughing in spite of their predicament, Fiona grabbed Bonnie’s reins. “Shhh, it’s okay, girl. He looks like a lunatic, but he can’t hurt you.”
   Charlie snarled and began again in French.
   She let him run down, then said, “I’m sorry she hurt your feelings, but she doesn’t like to be mounted from the right.” She reached down a hand. “If you can stand again, I’ll give you a leg up.”
   “She didn’t hurt my feelings, it’s my bum that aches.” But he laughed and grasped her wrist, coming to his feet with surprising agility. She let him regain his balance with a hand on her shoulder. He was so tall that the top of her head barely reached his lips. She looked up at him, trying to find the boy she’d known in this mysterious stranger.
   He stared back at her, his expression just as muddled as she felt. “I do know you, somehow,” he muttered. “I just can’t remember . . . You said my name is Charlie, and that’s right. You mentioned my grandfather. Where is he? Did he bring me here?”
   “No, he’s—” Did he know he was English? Did he know there was a war between their two countries? “I don’t know how you got here. This is Mobile Point, the isthmus that separates Mobile Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. I live about two miles across on the bay side, at Navy Cove.”
   Charlie squeezed her shoulder in friendly fashion. “All right, then, duchess of Navy Cove, if you’d be so kind as to cup your hands, I’ll endeavor to boost myself onto your trusty steed. Then I’ll swing you up, and we’ll away.” He grimaced. “We’d do it the other way ’round, except I fear I’m not exactly in fine fettle at the moment.”
   The deed was accomplished with more comedic effect than grace, but in a few moments Fiona grasped Charlie’s extended hand and let him pull her up behind him onto Bonnie’s back. She put her arms around his waist and took the reins, clicking her tongue to give Bonnie leave to walk.
   She had ridden astride behind her brothers all her life, but this . . . clutching Charlie-the-stranger round the waist just to stay on, her shins bare and feet dangling, was another kettle of fish entirely. Not only was it awkward and uncomfortable, but she had enough sense to know that it was highly improper. Mama would not have approved. Maddy would definitely not approve. Léon would likely challenge Charlie to pistols at dawn.
   None of them must ever know. She and Charlie would enter the barn from the back, put the horse away, and hope nobody saw them. She could pretend Charlie had walked all the way from New Orleans. Or something.

   There had to be some way to explain his presence, his injury, his obvious Englishness.
   Oh, dear Lord, what was she going to do?


   By the time they rode the scant mile across the sandy, jungle-like spit of land, Charlie felt as if an army of Goths had marched around in his head, leaving death, decay, and destruction in its wake. No wonder he couldn’t remember this beautiful girl named Fiona, much less her cousin Maddy or her brother Léon. She had rattled on about her family behind his shoulder, as if silence terrified her.
   When they at last reached the edge of the woods, where three more horses grazed in a grassy field outside a large, well-kept barn, Fiona clutched Charlie’s coat. “Stop! I don’t want my brother to see you.”
   “Because . . . because he doesn’t like the British.”
   “Why not?”
   “It’s a long story.”
   “Are we in a hurry?” He hoped not. In spite of the headache, he was rather enjoying the feel of her slim form pressed against his back.
   “I’m supposed to fix supper for everybody, and . . . ” She paused as if searching for another excuse, then released a gusty sigh. “My brother Sullivan says if you have to lie, you’d best stick as close to the truth as possible. I’ll tell them you washed up on the beach, and you don’t remember who you are.”
   “Sullivan? Another brother? Will he also object if he finds out I’m British?”
   “I’m sure he would if he saw you, but he’s on a prison ship off the coast of Carolina.”
   He turned to look at her. The words had been spoken stiffly, without inflection, but there was no mistaking the tremble of her lips. Suddenly the pain in his head roared, and nausea overtook him. “Miss Fiona, I . . . I fear I’m about to cast up my accounts. Perhaps you’d better look the other way.” He leaned over the horse’s neck.
   “Oh, Charlie, I’m sorry!” She slid to the ground. “Here, get down before you fall. I’ll hold your head.”
   But she was already pulling him toward her, and he had no choice but to awkwardly slip-slide down from the horse. He managed to stagger off behind a tree, where he knelt and proceeded to be violently sick. The world turned green, then blue, then dark purple. His shoulder hit the tree hard as everything went black.
   He woke sometime later in a shadowed room with a streak of dying sunlight slipping under the curtain over the single window. The aroma of food, perhaps roasted chicken, turned his stomach, and he rolled over, covering his mouth and nose.
   “Charlie! Be still! You’ll start your head bleeding again.” Fiona’s voice came from the open doorway. He heard her hurried steps approaching.
   He gained control of the gagging sensation. “Somebody just . . . shoot me.”
   “That’s not funny. You’re lucky to be alive.” She sounded aggrieved, justifiably, he supposed. He would be an inconvenient houseguest.
   He rolled onto his back and touched the thick bandage holding his forehead together. It hurt like blazes. “Where are we?”
   “My bedroom. It’s next to the kitchen, where I can keep an eye on you.”
   “Your brother allowed this?” He squinted upward at Fiona.
   “It was his idea.” Swathed in a big white apron, sh e flitted about, tucking the coverlet over him and adjusting the curtain. “He’s really a very kind man, Charlie. He wouldn’t throw you out in this condition—in fact, he and Oliver carried you in.”
   “My cousin.”
   “How many cousins do you have? Never mind.” He could only take in so much information at a time. Strange that he could carry on a conversation, understand basic concepts like cousins and brothers and aprons, yet couldn’t remember what he’d done yesterday. Fiona had called him by name. Somehow she knew him, yet she wanted to hide his identity from the rest of her family. “Sit down so I can see you,” he said abruptly.
   Her hands went to fists at her hips. “You are not my lord, and I am certainly not your servant.”
   “That’s not what I meant.” But had there been a note of imperiousness in his voice? He sighed. “Miss Fiona, you must forgive any bad habits from—from my past. I am of course grateful for your rescue. I owe you my life, I’m certain. I merely want to look at your face when we talk. Please?”
   The fists relaxed. She went to the kitchen, returned with a ladder-back chair, and set it down close to the bed. Seating herself, she turned a pair of big blue eyes upon him, along with a faint smile.
   He felt better immediately and caught her hand to bring it to his lips. “Thank you. Now, please, where are we?”
   “I told you—”
   “Yes, yes, your bedroom, but what country? What city?”
   “Charlie, this is America. Navy Cove isn’t really a city. It’s just a little community near the fort—Fort Bowyer. The closest city is Mobile, but that’s half a day’s sail up the bay.”
   Thinking made his head hurt, but he gave it his best effort. Try as he might, however, he had no recollection of traveling toward a city called Mobile. “What year?”
   She stared at him. “1814. What is the last thing you remember?”
   He hesitated. “I was sent down from Eton.” Everything after that was a jagged blur.
   Her eyes widened. “You don’t remember meeting me and my family?”
   “No. But if you tell me I did, I’ll have to believe you.”
   “This is insane.”
   “I’m not insane. I just don’t—”
   “I didn’t mean—”
   They stared at one another for a long moment. Fiona bit her lip.
   Charlie closed his eyes. “My head hurts.”
   He felt a small callused hand laid gently upon his brow. “I’m sorry,” Fiona said. “I think you’d better rest, so I’ll leave you alone. But first, do you want something to eat?”
   Charlie’s stomach rumbled. He laughed. “I don’t know how one can be sick and hungry at the same time. But something smells good.”
   “Dumplings. I’ll fix you a plate.” Her thumb gently brushed his eyelid. “There’s a doctor in Mobile. I could send for him.”
   Alarmed, he looked up at her. “No, you’re right. The fewer people who see me the better. A good night’s sleep will put me right as rain.”
   “I hope so.” Fiona withdrew her hand and rose. “I’ll bring you something to eat.”
   He watched her disappear into the kitchen again. Not daring to sit up, he carefully turned his head to look around. The dying light revealed a small room, barely larger than a closet, with walls made of some rough plaster-like material and a high-beamed ceiling. He ran his hand along the wall to his left. It felt like seashells embedded in the plaster. Strange.
   It seemed the Laniers were not wealthy people.
   So how would a young lady living in an American coastal village cross paths with the son of a British earl? He picked through their conversation on the beach. She claimed to have visited his grandfather’s estate with her aunt, uncle, and cousin . . . Maddy? Yes, that was the name. He had no memory of such a meeting, but neither could he deny it.
   One thing he knew for certain. Concentration on anything beyond his physical body was cursed painful. He must lie very still and allow his head to heal—and hope the protective brothers and other assorted relatives of his attending angel did not decide to put a period to his existence for reasons beyond his control.
Beth White, The Magnolia Duchess Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016. Used by permission.

Beth White 
Author Beth White ~ teaching chorus and piano in an inner-city public high school by day, while conducting a secret life as a romance writer by night.

Gulf Coast Chronicles series, Book 1 ~ The Pelican Bride
Gulf Coast Chronicles series, Book 2 ~ The Creole Princess

Revell Reads
***Thank you to Revell Reads Fiction for sending me a review copy of Book 3 in the Gulf Coast Chronicles, The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Northern Belle: Happy Birthday, God's Will! Book Birthday & Giveaway...

Author Meghan M. Gorecki: Me & my book May, 2014
How on earth have two years come and gone in the blink of an eye? Sappy nostalgia ahead. Be forewarned. Two...
Read on as the author continues here on her blog...

So excited about this new author to me and her reference to this Psalm, I put on my Facebook news page this morning:
"We went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance."
  --Psalm 66:12
I saw this notice earlier today: and I want to alert you to it too!

The author refers to this devotion ~ "In the center of the circle of the Will of God I stand..."
Lovingly quoted from Streams in the Desert, August 14
In the center of the circle
    Of the Will of God I stand:
There can come no second causes,
    All must come from His dear hand.
All is well! for tis' my Father
   Who my life hath planned.

Shall I pass through waves of sorrow?
    Then I know it will be best;
Though I cannot tell the reason,
    I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love and God is faithful,
    So in perfect Peace I rest.

With the shade and with the sunshine,
    With the joy and with the pain,
Lord, I trust Thee! both are needed,
    Each Thy wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, did we but know it,
    Often means our heavenly gain.
                                         ––I. G. W.

I love the back stories that create a new reference. I look forward to reading Meghan M. Gorecki's God's Will. On sale limited time only paperback $9.99

Author contacts: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Pinterest

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Meghan M. Gorecki, Author

This is my debut novel––a labor of love for seven long years. Find it on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle.

My Book

Kathy Andrews is good at goodbyes. Her mother is sent to a sanatorium, her sister, left behind in Chicago, and her father, forced to roam looking for work. So she holds close to the only one she has left, her brother Danny. When the two go to live with the Marshalls in the sleepy town of Brighton, she doesn't let anyone past hello. 
Elliott Russell frowns at his aunt and uncle's generosity--even though he and his sister are on the receiving end. He frowns, too, at the uppity city girl with a chip on her shoulder whom he can't get out of his head. When a tragedy rips apart what tenuous existence they manage to forge, will they find the sweetest place to be is in God's will--or will they turn their backs on faith that fails to protect against pain?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Recap of A Season of Love by Amy Clipston, © 2012, © 2015

The Finale of the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series ~ Book 5

Author's Note: The Making of A Season of Love
author Amy Clipston
"A Season of Love was an emotional novel for me to write since it's the final book in my Kauffman Amish Bakery Series. I held back tears when I wrote the final chapter. However, it was fun to revisit all of my favorite characters once more, and I tied up all of the loose ends. I hope my readers will enjoy taking one last journey with the Kauffman family."

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
   --Matthew 5:16
My Review:
This was the first book I read by Amy Clipston when it was released in 2012. It was rereleased with a new cover in 2015.
A Season of Love
Meet Katie Kauffman:
I am a granddaughter of Elizabeth, who owns the Bakery. I have had feelings of anxiety ~ my friends begin their future and I feel I don't fit in my present.

I don't fully understand why my father is so against my friendship with Jake Miller. My grandfather Eli has employed him to build new bakery shelving. Jake's mother left the community years earlier to marry Jake's father.

Will my father be able to include this grandson of his father's business partner?

 A Season of Love contains strong characters. They strive to know their own minds, but possibly overlook each other's hearts.

I found compassion in the grandparents, Eli and Elizabeth, that seemed to be lacking in their son, Robert, Katie's father. Does he have a pain in his heart that needs healing?

The storyline brings you into their daily lives. With the conversational writing, some material was repeated speaking to someone else. With Katie's father being so close to the law of his beliefs, he was hindered in truly hearing his family. Reading the earlier books in the series would likely give further insight into his character. There were tense moments and misunderstandings. Growth was evident as the story progressed in the interaction between characters.

Enjoy this excerpt from A Season of Love ~ Chapters 1 and 2


Katie Kauffman carried a tray filled with breakfast foods down the hallway toward her aunt Rebecca’s bedroom. Balancing the tray on her hip, she tapped on the closed door. “Breakfast time, Aenti Rebecca!” she called.
   “Oh,” Rebecca said through the door. “Come in.”
   Katie pushed the door open and smiled at her aunt, who rested propped up in bed. Katie had spent most of the summer helping her pregnant aunt in place of her best friend Lindsay Bedford, who had come to live with their aunt Rebecca four years earlier after her parents died in a car accident.
   Lindsay had left their community of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, to visit her parents’ dear friends Trisha and Frank McCabe in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and help Trisha heal from an accident in which she had broken her leg. After Lindsay had left, Rebecca’s pregnancy complications had worsened, and Katie had moved in to help care for her aunt Rebecca and uncle Daniel’s young children.
   “How are you feeling today?” Katie asked, as she placed the tray on the nightstand beside her aunt. “You don’t look quite as pale as you did yesterday.”
   “I’m doing better, danki.” Rebecca smiled. “How are the kinner?”
   “They’re doing well,” Katie said, pulling up a chair and sitting beside the bed. She handed her aunt a glass of orange juice. “They’re eating breakfast with Onkel Daniel, but I have a few minutes before his ride arrives to take him to work.”
   Rebecca sipped her juice. “How are you today, Katie?”
   “I’m doing well.” Katie lifted the plate filled with scrambled eggs, hash browns, and sausage and handed it to her aunt. She then gave her the utensils. “I made your favorites.”
   “Danki.” Rebecca bowed her head in silent prayer and then scooped a pile of eggs into her mouth. “Katie, this is delicious, as usual. Not only are your breakfasts always wunderbaar, you’re a fantastic baker.”
   “Danki.” Katie smiled. “It’s my goal to be the best baker at the Kauffman Amish Bakery. I’m working with Mammi to learn all of her recipes and even invent some of my own.”
   “Maybe someday you’ll run the bakery for your mammi when she’s ready to retire,” Rebecca said.
   “I would love that,” Katie said, smoothing her apron over her lap. “That would be a dream come true for me. Hopefully Amanda and Ruthie will continue to work there with me. I would love to keep working with my family, you know?”
   Rebecca nodded. “I bet you can’t wait to go back to the bakery, ya?”
   Katie hesitated, not wanting to hurt her aunt’s feelings. “I love being here, but I do miss the bakery.”
   “You’re allowed to miss the bakery.” Rebecca smiled. “I bet you miss your friends too.”
   Katie nodded. “I do. I’m looking forward to when Lindsay gets back, and we can all be together. It’s been a long time since Lindsay, Lizzie Anne, and I have all been together. I miss mei best freinden.”
   “I’m certain you do.” Rebecca swallowed some hash browns and then sipped more juice.
   “I really miss Lindsay since it seems like Lizzie Anne is spending more and more time with mei bruder, Samuel,” Katie said, hoping she didn’t sound selfish.
   “Have you heard from Lindsay?” Rebecca asked.
   “I need to go check the messages.” Katie glanced toward the window and wondered if Lindsay had received the letter she’d written a few days ago. Against her aunt’s wishes, she’d written to her friend to tell her Rebecca had taken a turn for the worse and was restricted to full bed rest. Though she knew she was disobeying her elders, she felt Lindsay needed to know the news as soon as possible. “I’ll check the messages today and see if Lindsay has called.”
   “Danki,” Rebecca said. “I hope she’s doing well.” She smiled. “I’m certain you and your friends will be back together soon, and you’ll be back at the bakery making your wunderbaar desserts.”
   “Ya, you’re right, Aenti Rebecca,” Katie said. “Things will be back to normal soon.” Smiling at her aunt, Katie hoped she was right.

Lindsay Bedford held her breath as the bus pulled into the station in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She touched her prayer covering and then smoothed the skirt of her black bib apron, which covered her purple frock, making sure both were presentable before grabbing her tote bag from the floor. It seemed as if it took a lifetime for the line of passengers in front of her to file off the bus. When she finally stepped onto the sidewalk, her heart swelled.
   “Heemet,” she whispered, her lips curling up into a smile.
   “Lindsay!” a familiar voice called.
   Turning, she spotted Matthew Glick waving from a few yards away. He was dressed in a dark blue shirt, black trousers, and suspenders. His dark brown curls peeked out from under his straw hat, and his golden-brown eyes shone as he made his way through the crowd toward her. A smile split his handsome face, and her heart thudded in her chest.
   “Matthew!” she called as he approached. “Wie geht’s?”
   “Doing great now.” Matthew reached for her bag. “May I carry that for you?”
   “Danki.” She smiled, but held the bag closer to her body. “How about you carry my luggage instead? My duffle bag is pretty heavy.”
   “I’d be happy to,” he said, gesturing toward the bus station. “Let’s go inside and get it. I’m certain you’re in a hurry to get heemet. Mei schweschder rode along with me. She’ll be happy to see you too.”
   “Oh, that’s nice. I can’t wait to see Betsy,” Lindsay said. “It’s so gut to be heemet.”
   After retrieving her duffle bag, they both climbed into the back seat of the waiting van.
   Betsy waved from the front passenger seat, where she sat next to the driver. “Lindsay, willkumm heemet.”
   “Danki, Betsy. I appreciate your coming to get me,” Lindsay said, as she settled into her seat and buckled her belt. “You both kept my arrival a secret, ya?”
   “I kept my promise.” Matthew lifted his hat and smoothed his curls. “Betsy and I haven’t told anyone.”
   “I’m certain Daniel, Rebecca, and the kinner will be froh to see you again,” Betsy said.
   “How is mei aenti doing?” She held her breath, hoping her aunt Rebecca hadn’t taken a turn for the worse.
   “I haven’t heard that anything has changed,” Matthew said. “Don’t worry about her right now. We’ll get you heemet as soon as we can.” He smiled. “Tell me about your trip. Did you have a gut time? ”
   “I did.” Lindsay angled her body toward him and also glanced at Betsy as she spoke. “My aunt Trisha and uncle Frank live right on the beach, and I walked out there every day. It was so nice to feel the warm sand between my toes. I even swam a bit. I love the ocean. I spent some time with friends from school, and I attended the church where I grew up. I volunteered at a nursing heemet too, which was nice. I told you in my letter I helped Mrs. Fisher, the patient who spoke only Dietsch.”
   “Oh, how nice that you helped out in a nursing heemet,” Betsy said. “I’m certain the patients enjoyed seeing you.”
   “Ya,” Matthew said with a nod. “That was really wunderbaar gut how you helped Mrs. Fisher communicate with the nurses when she fell and hurt herself.”
   Lindsay’s smiled faded. “She passed away Friday night.”
   Shaking his head, he frowned. “I’m sorry. I know she was very special to you.”
   “I’m so sorry too, Lindsay,” Betsy said. “How very sad.”
   Lindsay cleared her throat in the hopes of not getting emotional in front of them. “But I’m glad I was able to help her some. She dictated a letter to me, and I sent it to her estranged dochder. It was a way for her to make peace between them before she passed away.”
   “That’s very nice of you,” Betsy said. “What else did you do while you were in Virginia Beach?”
   “Let’s see,” Lindsay said, touching her chin. “Aunt Trisha, Uncle Frank, and I went to some of my favorite places to eat, and we ordered pizza from my favorite pizza parlor.”
   “Oh, I love pizza,” Betsy said with a grin. “I bet it was wunderbaar gut!”
   “Ya.” Matthew grinned. “I bet that was a nice treat.”
   “It was. I would love to take a group of mei freinden to visit Virginia Beach sometime. I know it’s Katie’s dream to see the beach.”
   “Maybe someday we can take a trip down there,” Matthew said.
   “Ya. Aunt Trisha has a third level in the house with plenty of space for guests.”
   “You should do that,” Betsy said. “You’re only young once.”
   “It sounds like you stayed pretty busy while you were there. Did you have time to do anything else?” Matthew asked.
   Glancing out the window at the morning traffic, Lindsay thought of her GED and hesitated, wondering how he’d feel if he knew she’d worked to achieve it. However, she didn’t want to keep any secrets from him, since he was her good friend. After a moment Lindsay faced him and took a deep breath. “I also did something that was more work than fun,” she began.
   “Oh?” He raised his eyebrows with curiosity. “What was that?”
   “I hope you won’t be upset with me.” Lindsay glanced at Betsy. “And I hope you won’t think badly of me.”
   Betsy smiled. “Lindsay, I’m certain you couldn’t do anything to make me think badly of you.”
   “Why would I be upset?” Matthew’s expression became one of concern.
   “I wanted to prove to myself that I am smarter than Jessica thinks I am.” Lindsay bit her lower lip.
   “You don’t have to tell me,” Matthew said. “I respect your privacy, Lindsay.”
   “I studied really hard, and I got my GED.” Lindsay braced herself, waiting to see if he would be upset.
   Matthew paused. “Ach.”
   Lindsay studied his eyes, finding disappointment mixed with concern there. “You’re upset.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Betsy turn toward the front of the van as if she didn’t want to interfere in the conversation.
   “No.” He shook his head. “I’m just wondering why you wanted a GED if you’re planning to stay in the Amish community.”
   “I just wanted to try,” Lindsay said with a shrug. “I had to see if I could do it. I was so tired of Jessica beating me down with snide comments about not finishing high school. I had to do this for myself.”
   He nodded slowly. “Does that mean you want to use your GED to get a job in the English world or go to college?”
   “No,” Lindsay said quickly. “I don’t want to get a job in the English world, and I also don’t want to go back to school. While I was in Virginia Beach, I figured out what I want to do with my life.”
   “And what do you want to do with your life?” His words were hesitant.
   “Join the Amish church.” Lindsay sat up straight in the seat as confidence in her decision filled her. “I know for certain this is where I want to be.”
   His warm smile was back. “Gut.”
   “Betsy,” Lindsay said, “do you think it’s okay I got my GED?”
   Betsy smiled at Lindsay. “I think it’s fine you wanted to get your GED. But I also think it’s wunderbaar you want to join the church.”
   “Danki,” Lindsay said. Lindsay asked Matthew about the furniture store, and he talked about his latest projects as the van bumped up the road toward her aunt Rebecca’s home in Bird-in-Hand. She also asked Betsy about her family, and Betsy talked about her children and the weather. Although she listened to Matthew and Betsy, Lindsay’s thoughts returned to Rebecca. She prayed her aunt was going to be all right and the complications with her pregnancy hadn’t worsened in the past few days.
   Lindsay’s trip to Virginia Beach was cut short when she received the letter from Katie that told her Rebecca was restricted to complete bed rest after her blood pressure spiked. Since Trisha was no longer immobile, Lindsay rushed out on the first bus available in order to return home to help her aunt. Lindsay informed only Matthew she was returning since she planned to surprise the family.
   The van turned into her aunt’s rock driveway, and Lindsay’s heart fluttered. She couldn’t wait to see her family after nearly three months. She’d missed them terribly.
   The van came to a stop near the barn, and Lindsay fished her wallet out from her tote bag. “How much was the ride?”
   Matthew shook his head. “Don’t be gegisch. I’ll pay the driver after he takes Betsy heemet and me to work.” He gestured toward the door. “You go inside. I’ll get your bag.”
   “Danki.” Lindsay said good-bye to Betsy, hopped out of the van, and rushed up the porch steps. She glanced through the glass of the back door and saw Katie washing dishes at the kitchen sink. Lindsay pushed the door open, and Katie looked up, her blue eyes rounding as they met Lindsay’s.
   “Lindsay!” Katie yelled. “You’re heemet!”
   “Hi,” Lindsay said, dropping her tote bag on the floor with a clunk. Katie rushed over, embracing Lindsay in a tight hug.
   “I’m so glad you came back.”
   “I booked my ticket as soon as I got your letter.” Lindsay studied her eyes. “How is Aenti Rebecca? ”
   “She’s doing okay,” Katie said. “She’s been very gut about staying in bed, which is what the doctor instructed her to do. She goes back to see him next week.”
   “Danki for taking care of her,” Lindsay said. “I’ll be sure she follows his orders.”
   A thud sounded behind her, and Lindsay turned to see Matthew standing by the door, her duffle bag beside him on the floor.
   “Danki,” Lindsay said, walking over and lifting the bag. “I appreciate the ride from the bus station.”
   “Gern gschehne,” Matthew said. “I’m glad you called me.” His eyes were intense. “I hope to see you soon.”
   “Ya,” she said. “You will.”
   “Have a gut day. I need to get to work.” He nodded toward them both and then slipped out the door to the van.
   “Lindsay!” Daniel Junior called, running from the family room to the kitchen. “Willkumm heemet!”
   Dropping to her knees on the floor, Lindsay pulled her little cousin into a hug. “It’s so gut to be heemet.”
   With a squeal, Emma toddled over to join them, and Lindsay tugged her into a group hug with Daniel Junior.
   “I have something for you both,” Lindsay said with a grin. She pulled her tote bag over and handed Daniel Junior a toy car and Emma a doll. She had picked up the toys for them before leaving Virginia Beach.
   The children thanked her for the gifts and then hurried back into the family room to play.
   “Is Aenti Rebecca awake?” Lindsay asked as she stood. “I’d love to let her know I’m heemet.”
   “She’s resting,” Katie said. “But I think she’s awake.”
   “I’m going to go see her,” Lindsay said, hoisting her bag up onto her shoulder. She looked at the clock above the sink. “Is it time for the kinner to nap?”
   “Ya,” Katie said. “I can bring your duffel bag for you if you want to carry Emma. We can go up together.”
   Lindsay smiled. “That sounds like a gut plan.” She carried Emma up the stairs, kissing and nuzzling her while the little girl giggled. After tucking her into her crib, Lindsay kissed Emma’s head and then moved to Daniel Junior’s room where she kissed him as well. She found Katie standing in the doorway to Lindsay’s room.
   “They’re very froh you’re heemet,” Katie said, with a smile. “I am too.” She gestured toward Rebecca’s room at the end of the hallway. “I’ll let you go see Aenti Rebecca alone. I’ve been sleeping in your room, so I’ll pack up my things. I’ll see about getting a ride heemet in a little bit.”
   “No, don’t leave. Why don’t you stay today so we can spend some time together?” Lindsay dropped her tote bag near the doorway. “I’ll be right back. I don’t want to take away from her rest time.”
   Moving down the hallway, Lindsay stood at Rebecca’s door and peered in, finding her aunt lying on her side, facing the opposite wall. Her eyes filled with tears as she thought of how much her aunt must have missed her when she began to feel ill. A sob gripped her and she sucked in a breath to prevent it from escaping.
   Rebecca rolled over and gasped as she began to sit up. “Lindsay? You’re heemet?”
   “Ya,” Lindsay said, wiping her eyes as she moved into the room. “How are you?”
   “Ach, Lindsay.” Rebecca opened her arms. “Kumm. It’s so gut to see you.”
   Lindsay leaned over into her aunt’s arms as hot tears streamed down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here when you got grank.”
   “Don’t be gegisch,” Rebecca whispered, her voice sounding thick. “It’s not your fault, and Trisha needed you.” She looked up at Lindsay. “How is Trisha?”
   “She’s doing well.” Lindsay sat on the edge of the bed. “She’s walking around now with a soft cast.”
   “What brought you back so soon?” Rebecca asked while holding Lindsay’s hand. “I wasn’t expecting you for a few more weeks.”
   Lindsay hesitated. She couldn’t bear to tell her aunt a fib, but she also didn’t want to cause any trouble for Katie who had only done what she believed was right.
   “Did Katie call you?” Rebecca asked, raising her eyebrows with suspicion.
   “She wrote me,” Lindsay said. “But please don’t be upset with her. She’s very worried about you, and she knew I would want to know what was going on. She felt she had to tell me.”
   Rebecca smiled and touched Lindsay’s cheek. “I’m not angry.”
   “Gut,” Lindsay said, relief flooding her.
   “I just didn’t want you to feel obligated to come back heemet since Trisha and Frank needed you,” Rebecca continued. “I wanted Trisha to be well before you came heemet. You’d made a promise to her first.”
   “But I want to help you,” Lindsay said. “You’re my family too.”
   “It’s so gut to see you,” Rebecca said while squeezing her hand. “I’ve missed you so much.”
   “I’ve missed you and everyone else too,” Lindsay said. “I had a gut time, but this is mei heemet.” She paused and took a deep breath. “I have made a decision. I want to join the church.”
   Rebecca sucked in a breath and tears filled her eyes. “Are you certain?”
   Lindsay nodded. “I’m absolutely certain. I’m ready.”
   “Ach, Lindsay.” Rebecca squeezed her hand again. “That’s the best news I could ever hear.” She wiped her eyes. “I’m so froh.”
   Lindsay told her a little bit about her trip, sharing the same news as she’d told Matthew in the van. When Rebecca yawned, Lindsay stood. “I should let you rest. We can talk later.”
   “That’s a gut idea,” Rebecca said. “Did Daniel know you were coming heemet?”
   Lindsay shook her head. “No, he didn’t.”
   Rebecca looked confused. “How did you get heemet from the bus station? Did you get a taxi?”
   “No, I didn’t take a taxi.” Lindsay’s cheeks heated. “Matthew arranged for a ride heemet and met me at the bus station.”
   “Matthew?” A smile turned up Rebecca’s lips. “You called him and asked him to pick you up?”
   Lindsay nodded. “I didn’t call Onkel Daniel because I wanted to surprise you all.”
   “That’s sweet,” Rebecca said. “I’m glad to hear Matthew picked you up. He’s a gut young man.”
   “I know. I’ll let you rest for a while,” Lindsay said. “I’ll bring you your lunch after your nap.”
   “Danki, mei liewe,” Rebecca said.
   Lindsay gently closed the door behind her and headed back to her room. Stepping through the doorway, she found Katie sitting on her bed and frowning while holding Lindsay’s cell phone.
   “This fell out of the pocket of your tote bag when I moved it out of the doorway.” Katie frowned. “Where did you get it?”
   “It was a gift from Aunt Trisha and Uncle Frank,” Lindsay said, sitting next to Katie on the bed.
   “A gift?”
   “Ya,” Lindsay said, taking the phone from her. “They bought it for me after I got my GED.”
   Katie looked alarmed. “You got your GED?”
   Lindsay nodded.
   “Why would you do that?” Katie’s expression turned to confusion. “I thought you loved living here. I thought you liked being Amish and couldn’t stand when your sister said you were selling yourself short.”
   “I do love it here,” Lindsay said. “And I know for certain I want to be Amish.”
   Katie shook her head. “You’re not making sense. You say you want to be Amish, but you got your GED.”
   “I know.” Lindsay stuck the phone in the front pocket of her tote bag. “But I was so tired of Jessica hassling me that I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. Since I got my GED now, before I’m baptized, it shouldn’t be a problem, ya?”
   “That’s true.” Katie paused, and a smile grew on her face. “Does that mean you want to be baptized and join the church?”
   Lindsay nodded, and Katie grinned.
   “I’m so excited to hear the news,” Katie said. Her expression became curious. “How did you get Matthew to pick you up at the bus station?”
   “I called him,” Lindsay said. “We’d written a couple of letters back and forth, and I knew he’d keep a secret if I asked him to. He’s a gut friend.”
   “I’m glad you’re back.” Katie stood and picked up her own bag, which contained all her clothes from her overnight stays. “I guess we should go downstairs, so we don’t disturb the kinner and Aenti Rebecca while they nap.”
   “I appreciate all you’ve done.” Lindsay stood and hugged her friend. “I’m going to unpack before I come down. I want to get organized.”
   “That sounds gut.” Katie hefted her bag onto her shoulder. “I packed everything of mine, so I’ll be ready to go when Onkel Daniel arrives heemet from work. It will be strange to go back heemet after being here for a while. I had fun, though.” She looked curious. “Are you hungry? Can I make you a snack?”
   Lindsay touched her stomach as it rumbled. “Ya. That would be wunderbaar. I had some crackers on the bus, but I haven’t had breakfast yet.”
   “I’ll make you something.” Katie started toward the door. “I’ll have it ready soon, so hurry down.”
   “Danki,” Lindsay said.
   While Katie disappeared into the hallway, Lindsay contemplated how much she loved being back in Bird-in-Hand. She’d first moved here four years ago from Virginia Beach. Lindsay and her older sister, Jessica, had come to Bird-in-Hand to live with her mother’s sister, Rebecca, after their parents were killed in a car accident.
   When Lindsay and Jessica first arrived, they both felt as if they’d entered another world, or perhaps another century, since Rebecca, Daniel, and the rest of the community lived simple, plain lives without modern clothes, television, electricity, or other up-to-date conveniences Lindsay used to take for granted.
   Lindsay had embraced life in the Bird-in-Hand community, quickly becoming a member of the Kauffman family. By contrast, Jessica protested and fought against the changes until she was permitted to move back to Virginia and live with their parents’ friends Frank and Trisha McCabe.
   Lindsay pulled her dresses and aprons from her duffle bag as she thought about her sister. Jessica was Lindsay’s polar opposite, beginning with their appearances. Jessica had dark hair and eyes, and Lindsay had deep red hair and bright green eyes. Jessica had finished high school, graduating with honors, and then moved on to college. She was now finishing up a high-profile internship with an accounting firm in New York City.
   On the other hand, Lindsay kept with Amish tradition and didn’t continue her education beyond eighth grade, other than achieving her GED while staying in Virginia Beach with Frank and Trisha. Instead of going to high school, Lindsay began working in the Kauffman Amish Bakery, owned by Elizabeth Kauffman, with Rebecca and Rebecca’s sisters-in-law.
   After placing her dirty clothes in the hamper, Lindsay hung her clean dresses and aprons on the hooks on her wall and then put her undergarments in her dresser. Once all of her clothes were properly put away, she stowed the bag under her bed.
   Heading to the stairs toward the smell of bacon and eggs, Lindsay smiled. This was truly her home, and it was so very good to be back where she belonged.


Later that evening, Katie rode next to Daniel in his buggy and discussed the weather as they drove back to her house. She spotted her father and her older brother, Samuel, as Daniel guided the horse toward the barn near her house.
   “Danki again for staying with us,” Daniel said as he halted the horse. “You were a great help to us.”
   “Gern gschehne, Onkel Daniel,” Katie said, while grabbing her bag from the floorboard. “I was froh to help.”
   Katie’s father, Robert, and Samuel approached as she and Daniel climbed from the buggy. Katie greeted them and lifted her bag onto her shoulder.
   “Wie geht’s,” Robert said, shaking Daniel’s hand. “What brings you and Katie out here tonight? I thought she was working for you all week.”
   “Lindsay surprised us and arrived heemet today,” Daniel said. “We appreciate all Katie has done for us. Danki for allowing her to work for us, Robert. I know she has obligations at the bakery.”
   Samuel shot Katie an accusing look, and her shoulders tensed.
   Squaring her shoulders in defiance, Katie frowned at her brother and then turned toward Daniel. “I’m going to head inside and see if mei mamm needs any help,” she said. “Danki for bringing me heemet.”
   “Please tell your mamm hello and danki again for allowing you to stay with us, Katie,” Daniel said. “We couldn’t have gotten by without you. You’re wunderbaar gut with the kinner.”
   “I will tell her,” Katie said. “Gut nacht.”
   Katie heard her father ask about Rebecca as she hurried up the steps and into the house. She dropped her bag at the base of the stairs and found her mother, Sadie, sitting at the kitchen table with her sister Nancy while they created a shopping list.
   “Hi,” Katie said as she stepped into the kitchen. “Wie geht’s? ” She hugged her mother and then grabbed an apple from the bowl on the counter and bit into it. When the juice trickled down her chin, she snatched a paper towel to wipe it away.
   “Katie,” her mother said, her eyes round with surprise. “I’m so glad you’re heemet. Is Rebecca doing better?”
   Katie shook her head and dropped into a chair across from her mother while taking another bite of the apple. “No, she’s about the same, but Lindsay came heemet today and surprised everyone.”
   “She did?” Nancy asked. “How was her visit to Virginia? Did she have fun at the beach?”
   “She had a gut time.” Katie shared a few of Lindsay’s stories about walking on the beach, working at the nursing home, and frequenting her favorite restaurants. “She’s back for good now. She told me she wants to join the church too.” She bit into the apple again, enjoying the tart sweetness.
   “That’s wunderbaar,” Nancy said with a smile. “When did she get heemet?”
   “Earlier this morning,” Katie said. “Matthew picked her up from the bus station.” She took two more bites of the apple and then wrapped the core in the paper towel.
   Their mother glanced at Nancy. “Why don’t you go see if the kinner are ready for bed? I’ll be up shortly to tuck them in. I’d like to speak with Katie alone.”
   “Yes, Mamm.” Looking disappointed, Nancy stood and started for the stairs. Katie assumed her younger sister wanted to stay and find out more about Lindsay’s trip and homecoming.
   “Did you eat supper?” Sadie asked, gesturing toward the apple core.
   “Ya, I did eat supper, but I was still hungry,” Katie said, placing her hands on the table. “Lindsay and I made chicken pot pie. Onkel Daniel was very glad to see Lindsay was heemet. He was really surprised. He told me to say danki for allowing me to stay over and help them out.”
   “It’s the proper thing to do when family members need help.” Sadie looked curious. “Matthew picked up Lindsay from the bus station? How did he know she was coming heemet? She must’ve called him, ya?”
   “She did.” Katie bit her bottom lip and wondered if her mother was going to grill her about Lindsay and the situation at Rebecca’s house. While Katie loved her mother, Sadie was known in the community for having a loose tongue. Katie knew things she shared with her mother might be repeated at an upcoming quilting bee.
   “How’s Rebecca’s spirit?” Sadie asked. “Is she holding up okay despite her complications? ”
   “I think so.” Katie shrugged. “She seems very tired and a little frustrated that she can’t get up and do things around the house. She’s froh Lindsay is heemet, and she thanked me for everything I’ve done just like Onkel Daniel thanked me. I’m glad I was able to help them out.”
   Sadie looked suspicious. “How much fun did Lindsay have in Virginia Beach?”
   Katie paused, choosing her words with care. “She spent time with old freinden and enjoyed the beach but spent most of her time taking care of her aenti Trisha.” Although Katie understood why Lindsay had gotten her GED, she knew her mother wouldn’t. She figured it was best to keep that information to herself since Lindsay was going to join the church. She glanced at the list in front of her mother in hopes of distracting her. “Are you planning on going shopping tomorrow?”
   Her mother sighed. “Ya, I think so. I was hoping to wait until Friday, but we’re out of quite a few things. Are you going to go back to work at the bakery tomorrow?”
   Katie shrugged. “I was planning on it. Do you want me to help you with the shopping instead?”
   Her mother waved off the question. “I can handle the shopping, Katie. Your mammi will be happy to have you. I’m certain the bakery is still very busy even though there are more bakers working there now. Elizabeth told me she hired three new bakers—Hannah, Fannie, and Vera—when you went to work for Rebecca since tourist season was in full swing.”
   “I miss baking, and it will be nice to get back to working with mei aentis and cousins.” Katie stood. “I better go out and ask Dat to arrange a ride for me.” She stepped onto the porch and found her father and brother climbing the stairs. “Dat, I’m going to go back to work in the morning. Would you please arrange a ride to the bakery for me?”
   “Ya, of course,” her father said. “I’ll call right now.” He headed toward the small shed that housed their family’s phone.
   Samuel’s stare was accusing. “You told Lindsay about Aenti Rebecca, didn’t you? ”
   “I did,” Katie said, crossing her arms over her apron. “I prayed about it, and I felt it was the right choice. Lindsay has a right to know Aenti Rebecca is sick, because Aenti Rebecca is like her mamm.”
   Samuel’s frown softened. “Are you saying you didn’t get in trouble?”
   Katie shook her head. “No, I didn’t. Even Onkel Daniel understood. Both Onkel Daniel and Aenti Rebecca are glad she’s back.”
   Her brother rubbed his chin. “I guess in this situation you were right to follow your heart.” He smiled. “Lizzie Anne will be very excited to see Lindsay again too.”
   “Oh ya! I’m so excited mei two best freinden and I will be back together again. It’s been such a long time since we’ve been able to talk,” Katie said. “I better get upstairs and unpack.”
   While climbing the stairs with her bag on her shoulder, Katie smiled. She was glad to be home. Life would get back to normal again.

Lindsay brought the platter of eggs, fried potatoes, sausage, and bacon to the table where her uncle and cousins sat. She then grabbed the basket of bread and placed it in the center of the table before sitting next to Emma. After a silent prayer, she retrieved a piece of bread, sliced it, and slathered butter on it before handing it to Emma, who giggled with delight as she bit into it. Lindsay then filled a plate for Daniel Junior before looking at her uncle, who was cutting up his scrambled eggs.
   “Aenti Rebecca looked gut this morning,” Lindsay said. “She seemed to have some color back, ya?”
   Her uncle nodded and lifted his cup of coffee. “Ya, she does.”
   Lindsay scooped a pile of fluffy yellow eggs onto her plate and thought about the question that had haunted her through the night. She wanted to share it with her uncle, but she felt doubt nipping at her.
   Lindsay glanced at Daniel Junior, who bit into a hunk of bread and chewed with a grin on his face, his mouth open. “Appeditlich, Lindsay.”
   “Danki, but please chew with your mouth closed, Junior.” Looking back at her plate, Lindsay again considered talking to her uncle about her burning question: Should she talk to the bishop about joining the church? She met his curious eyes.
   “Is something bothering you, Lindsay?” Daniel asked. “You don’t seem like yourself this morning.”
   “I’ve been thinking about something,” Lindsay began as she placed her fork on her plate. “It kept me up most of the night.”
   Daniel looked sympathetic. “Do you want to talk about it?”
   She nodded. “I want to be baptized.”
   “Ach.” He looked surprised. “That’s a big decision. Are you certain?”
   “Oh yes. I’m positively certain.” She gripped her fork again. “I want to be baptized with mei freinden, though I know I’ve missed most of the classes. Do you think there’s a chance I could join them somehow?” She absently cut up her egg while she considered her options. “I can always join another district next year, but it would be even more special to be baptized with mei freinden this year.”
   Daniel set his coffee mug on the table and touched his beard. “You remember when your aenti Miriam was baptized, ya?”
   “Ya,” Lindsay said. “I do remember that. It was after she moved back here from Indiana. She started dating Onkel Timothy not too long after that.”
   “She received special permission from the bishop,” Daniel said. “Timothy told me she had to go talk to the bishop and explain why it meant so much for her to join the church.” He speared some potatoes with his fork. “Do you feel comfortable doing that? ”
   “I don’t know.” Lindsay lifted her napkin and thought about Bishop Abner Chupp. “Bishop Chupp is a fair man, but he’s a little imposing.”
   “He’s really not imposing.” Daniel smiled. “He’s just a humble man like me. We’re all the same in God’s eyes.”
   “But you’re mei onkel. It’s easy to talk to you when I want to tell you something very personal and serious, like my decision to join the church.” Lindsay wiped her mouth. “Aenti Miriam spoke to the bishop and explained she wanted to be baptized, and he allowed her to come to classes, right?”
   “That’s what Timothy told me,” Daniel said, before wiping his beard with his napkin. “I believe she met with the bishop during the week at different times to make up the discussions she’d missed, and she was baptized in the fall of that year with the rest of the group. Her father wasn’t well, and she wanted to be baptized as soon as she could in order to have him there with her.”
   Lindsay scooped some egg into her mouth and chewed while considering his words. She knew joining the church was what she wanted to do with her life, and she certainly could make time to see the bishop in order to complete the discussions she’d missed while she was in Virginia. “I can do that,” she said finally.
   “I think you can too,” Daniel said.
   “Brot!” Emma exclaimed, reaching for another piece of bread.
   “You want more brot?” Lindsay asked, and Emma clapped her hands in response. “I’ll get it for you.”
   While she buttered another piece of bread, Lindsay thought back to her GED. Although she’d doubted herself at first, she’d studied and passed the test on her first try while she was staying with her aunt and uncle in Virginia Beach. She understood the baptism classes were more like lectures where the ministers spoke, and she wouldn’t have to study and take a test like she had for the GED. However, she knew the emotional impact of the baptism instruction would be just as taxing as the GED exam had been.
   After handing the bread to Emma, Lindsay looked back at her uncle.
   He lifted his coffee mug and nodded toward Lindsay. “You can do anything you set your mind to, Lindsay. You’re a very smart maedel.”
   “Danki,” Lindsay said.
   A horn tooted outside, and Daniel hopped up from the table. “I have to run off to work.” After kissing the children’s heads, he fetched his lunch pail and hat before rushing toward the door. “See you tonight.”
   “Have a gut day.” Lindsay watched him disappear out the door, and she wondered if her uncle was right. Could Lindsay explain to the bishop why she wanted to be baptized with her friends, and would the bishop give her permission to make up the classes she’d missed?

The following evening, Lindsay wiped down the counter and filled the sink with water after supper while Emma sat in her high chair and munched on a cookie. The clip-clop of hooves drew her eyes to the window above the sink where she spotted a horse drawing a buggy toward the barn.
   “I wonder who’s here to visit,” she said to Emma, who giggled in response. “We weren’t expecting anyone.”
   Lindsay scrubbed the dishes and placed them in the drain board before moving her eyes back to the window, where she spotted her uncle and Daniel Junior standing with Matthew by the buggy. She smiled, and her stomach flip-flopped. Had Matthew come to visit her, or her uncle? Or perhaps he wanted to see them both.
   “Matthew is here to see us, Emmy,” Lindsay said as she wiped her hands on a dishrag. “Do I look okay?” She touched her prayer covering, and Emma laughed. “I hope that means ya,” Lindsay muttered.
   She straightened the canisters on the counter and wiped a stray crumb into the sink before opening the refrigerator. She was searching for any leftover whoopie pies that Katie had mentioned bringing from the bakery after her mother stopped by last week. Lindsay knew whoopie pies were Matthew’s favorite treat, and she wanted to offer them to him if he came in to visit her.
   Finding no whoopie pies, she set the percolator on the stove for coffee and pulled a container full of peanut butter cookies from the cabinet. She was glad she’d decided to bake for the children earlier in the day and glad she had something to offer Matthew, even if it wasn’t whoopie pies. After placing mugs and the cookies on the table, she pulled two glasses from the cabinet.
   The back door opened, revealing Matthew clad in a brown shirt that seemed to make his brown eyes more golden than usual.
   “Wie geht’s,” he said as he stepped into the kitchen. He removed his straw hat, revealing a messy pile of dark brown curls. When Emma squealed, he laughed. “How are you, Emma?”
   “Matthew,” Lindsay said, smoothing her hands over her black apron. “What a pleasant surprise. What are you doing out this way?”
   “I needed to talk to Daniel about a work project and also needed to borrow some tools,” he said.
   “Why would you need to talk to him and borrow tools when you’ll see him tomorrow at the furniture store?” Lindsay eyed him with suspicion.
   Matthew grinned. “That was my excuse to come and see you.” He gestured toward the table. “May I visit with you for a few minutes?”
   “Ya.” Lindsay smiled.
   Matthew sat in front of her and talked to her cousin. “Is that a gut kichli, Emma?” He touched her arm. “Did you save one for me?” He glanced at the plate of cookies in the center of the table.
   “Please help yourself,” Lindsay said, gesturing toward the cookies. “They’re peanut butter. I made them earlier today.” She lowered herself in the seat across from him and Emma. “I would’ve made you some whoopie pies if I’d known you were coming.”
   “Ach.” Matthew looked disappointed as he took a cookie. “I should’ve told Daniel I was coming by. I’ve been craving whoopie pies.” He brightened as he bit into the cookie. “Maybe next time we get together we can have some whoopie pies.”
   “I’ll see if I have the ingredients. If so, I’ll make some tomorrow.” Once the percolator was finished, Lindsay hopped up and grabbed it from the stove. She poured coffee in each of the two mugs on the table and then placed the percolator back on the stove.
   “Danki. How’s Rebecca?”
   Lindsay nodded. “She looks better today. Her color has come back some. How are you doing?”
   “Fine.” He glanced at Emma. “These kichlin are gut. You were right, Emma.”
   Emma poked Matthew’s arm. “Gut kichli,” she said.
   Lindsay laughed, enjoying the interaction between her cousin and Matthew. “What was the project you asked Daniel about?”
   “I’m working on an entertainment center that’s giving me trouble. Your onkel is very gut at building them.” He grabbed another cookie off the plate. “But I also came here for the desserts. I told you you’re a better baker than mei schweschder.”
   “Oh?” Lindsay couldn’t hide her grin. “What would happen if I told your schweschder you despise her cooking?”
   “I didn’t say I despised it,” he said as he bit into his cookie. “I said you’re better at it.”
   “Is that so?” Lindsay shook her head and broke a cookie in half while enjoying the easy banter with Matthew. “You might regret that statement if I repeat it to your schweschder. You’ll find yourself very hungry.”
   “I could always come over here and grab a meal,” he said with a nonchalant shrug.
   Lindsay paused. Was he inviting himself to supper one night?
   “I’m only joking,” Matthew said. “How was your day?”
   “Gut,” Lindsay said. “I had fun with the kinner and also did some cleaning. It’s really gut to be heemet.”
   “Will you be at the youth gathering Sunday night?”
   Lindsay wiped her mouth with a napkin. “I believe so. I haven’t discussed it with Onkel Daniel, but I’m fairly certain he’ll let me go.”
   “I hope so.” Matthew handed Emma a cookie, and she shook it over her head. “Look how she’s holding that above her head. I think she may want to join us for volleyball soon.”
   Lindsay shook her head. “You’re gegisch.” She bit into the cookie. “How’s the furniture store?”
   “Busy. But busy is gut. Some Englishers are already ordering furniture for Christmas gifts. It’s difficult to believe the summer is almost over. We’ll be inundated with orders soon as fall approaches.”
   “I imagine you will stay busy.” While sipping her coffee, Lindsay thought of Jake Miller, the Mennonite grandson of one of the store owners, Elmer Yoder. Jake and Lindsay’s sister, Jessica, had been close friends until a disagreement earlier in the summer. “How’s Jake doing?”
   “He’s been really quiet,” Matthew said. “He keeps to himself.” He looked curious. “Are you wondering if he’s mentioned Jessica?”
   Lindsay nodded while biting into a cookie. “The last I heard from Jessica she hadn’t spoken to him. It’s a shame they aren’t talking.”
   Matthew shook his head. “He hasn’t mentioned her.”
   Lindsay felt a twinge of disappointment for her sister and then pushed the thought away. Jessica’s relationships were her own business. She remembered her conversation with Daniel at yesterday’s breakfast and took a deep breath.
   “Matthew, do you think it would be possible for me to talk to the bishop and ask to be baptized with Katie and Lizzie Anne?” Matthew’s eyes brightened. “You want to be baptized this fall? I didn’t realize you wanted to join the current baptism class.”
   “Ya, I do,” she said. “Even though I wasn’t born into this community, I feel as if I belong here. My heart is here with my family and my cousins.”
   “Gut,” Matthew said. “I’m very glad to hear you say that.”
   “Danki,” Lindsay said. “I talked to Onkel Daniel about it this morning, and he told me mei aenti Miriam was able to join a class that was already in session by making up the lessons. Maybe I could explain I’ve been away in Virginia caring for my aunt Trisha, and I just got back. Do you think that might work?”
   “Ya,” Matthew said. “I think it’s a possibility. When do you want to talk to him?”
   Lindsay shrugged. “I don’t know. I was hoping maybe mei onkel Daniel would take me to see him this weekend.”
   The back door opened with a bang, revealing Daniel Junior, who was standing in the doorway. He was frowning and covered from head to toe in mud. The mud soaked his clothes, shoes, and hair.
   Emma burst into giggles while calling, “Gegisch bruder!
   “Junior!” With a gasp, Lindsay stood. “What happened to you?”
   “I fell in a horse stall.” Daniel Junior grimaced. “Dat told me to ask you to please give me a bath right away.”
   Lindsay swallowed the urge to laugh as she turned to Matthew. “I guess I better say gut nacht.”
   With a grin, Matthew stood, his chair scraping the linoleum floor. “I guess so.” He swiped a few cookies from the plate and stuffed them in his pockets. “I’ll enjoy these during the ride heemet.”
   “Okay.” Lindsay turned to Daniel Junior and pointed toward the mudroom by the door. “Go take off your boots, pants, and shirt, and then go straight on to the bathroom. I’ll be right there.” She glanced at Matthew. “It was nice seeing you.”
   “You too. Danki for the appeditlich kichlin.” Matthew started for the back door.
   Daniel Junior hurried by Lindsay, stopping in the doorway to the mudroom. “Is Matthew your boyfriend?”
   At a loss for words, Lindsay felt her cheeks heat as she stared at her cousin. Could his timing possibly get any more embarrassing?
    “Not yet, Junior, but I’m working on it,” Matthew said with a smile. “Gut nacht.”
   Her cheeks aflame and her mouth gaping, Lindsay turned toward the back door just as Matthew slipped out, closing the door behind him.


Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

Mix and let cool:
     1 cup oatmeal
     1½ cups hot water

Blend together:
     ¼ cup oil
     1¼ cups sugar
     2 eggs

Combine both mixtures with the following:
     1 cup flour
     1 teaspoon baking soda
     ½ teaspoon salt
     1 teaspoon vanilla
     ½ cup cocoa

Mix together and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Amy Clipston, A Season of Love Zondervan, © 2012.

These are the previous books in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series:      Book 1 ~* A Gift of Grace
     Book 2 ~* A Promise of Hope

     Book 3 ~* A Place of Peace

     Book 4 ~* A Life of Joy

Thank you to Zondervan Linked to Lit for sending the initial review copy of Book 5, A Season to Love. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.