Thursday, September 11, 2014

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm: An Amish Love Story by Suzanne Woods Fisher, © 2014

Billy Lapp's visitor's eyes were like that ~ Neither blue nor purple, they were a near-perfect match for the amethyst crystal interior of a geode he remembered that Dawdi Zook, his mother's father, had kept on his fireplace mantel back in Stoney Ridge....While the minerals on the exterior created a hard shell, the ones that seeped to the interior were transformed into beauty. An example from nature to show how God brings good out of bad.
   --Christmas at Rose Hill Farm, 18

Billy's memories of Stoney Ridge came to the surface unbidden. He is a rose rustler for Penn State ~ identifying heirlooms long forgotten. Like his life it seems.

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Bess Riehl goes to the bus stop to pick up the stranger coming to identify their "lost" potted rose she found beneath a workbench in the greenhouse at Rose Hill Farm. Growing heirloom roses, this one stood off by itself, hidden from view it seemed. Strong rootstock had been in the Riehl family for generations; sturdy, disease resistant, and able to survive even in neglected gardens.

Billy left four years ago, unknown to Bess of his whereabouts. Cousin and childhood friend of Amos Lapp, Bess's soon groom-to-be, Billy comes back to Stoney Ridge to identify the rose. Having to wait until the rosebud opened to complete his research, Billy commutes from Penn State to the Riehl's greenhouse frequently. Memories from his past with his family and with Bess define what he has left behind.

This story grows as forgiveness is paramount in going forward. Within heart-searching, Billy, Amos, and Bess find true meaning in where they are and where they can be with pride extinguished. The bright spot in their lives is the bishop's daughter, Maggie Zook. She lightens up the mood with her quirkiness.

I looked forward to and anticipated George coming on the scene to help Billy out, in his wise words and in covering Billy's work at the College Station greenhouse while Billy was away. He is Billy's comfortable visitor coming in out of the cold, sharing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot coffee. He was ready with what was needed by Billy specifically.

I am reminded of Psalm 139, how our loving Father is with us and never leaves us.

About the author:  Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Inn at Eagle Hill series, Lancaster County Secrets series, and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California.

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***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for Suzanne Woods Fisher's novel ~ Christmas at Rose Hill Farm. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy an excerpt of Christmas at Rose Hill Farm: An Amish Love Story ~ Chapter One


A pale thread of gray seeped over the windowsill, wakening Bess Riehl with its strange light. Outside, a limb tapped the eaves. Disoriented, still fuzzy from sleep, she lifted her head to peer out the window and gasped in delight. Overnight, Stoney Ridge had been blanketed with deep snow, transformed into a world of pristine white. Just in time to make the day, this Sunday, all the more special. Not just any Sunday, but the day her engagement would be announced at the end of church. Published, as they called it. And in less than two weeks, she would be married.
   Married. She was going to be a married woman. This Christmas, she would be married. For the rest of her life. Absentmindedly, she put her hand against the frosty windowpane to feel the chill. Her insides felt as quivery as her cold fingertips.
   Was it normal to feel all trembly inside, scared and excited and filled with strange feelings? She hoped so, because whenever she thought about the bishop announcing her name today in church, she felt light-headed, slightly dizzy, a little nauseous, and terribly worried about fainting. Bess was what her grandmother used to call a nervous little thing, as jumpy as a dog with fleas. Twenty now, she couldn’t deny the truth of that, but she was definitely bolder than she was at fifteen when she lived for a summer with Mammi at Rose Hill Farm. Bolder, certainly, and yet Bess still preferred to be invisible in any group setting. Such as . . . church.
   If she couldn’t handle having her name announced in public, how would she be able to survive her wedding day? She dropped her head. She had no idea. None at all.
   But she wouldn’t be alone. Amos would be there too.
   Amos Lapp. Her thoughts drifted off to him and a smile eased her anxiety. He was so kind, was Amos. They had met, years ago, through his cousin Billy Lapp, whom Bess refused to allow herself to think about for more than a moment or two, once or twice a week. Mostly, she wondered where Billy was and if he ever thought about her. And what he thought about her. And why he left.
   Stop. Stop it, Bess!
   There. She expunged Billy Lapp from her mind and went back to thinking about Amos, whom she adored. Not Billy, whom she didn’t.
   In a way, she envied Amos. He loved her so completely, so thoroughly. There was no doubt in his mind that Bess was the only girl for him. She didn’t think she could ever feel so sure, so free of doubts about her feelings. Amos’s devotion reminded her of the way she had once felt about Billy Lapp, but she was much younger then. Young and foolish. Die erscht Lieb roscht net, awwer schimmelich maag sie waerre, her grandmother used to say. First love does not rust, but it might get moldy.
   That’s what had happened to her feelings about Billy. Molded.
   Amos was a fine choice for a partner in life, in work. He was older than Bess by a few years, was already managing his late father’s farm at Windmill Farm, was solid and generous and accepting of Bess’s timorous nature. He was trustworthy and devoted and calm natured and he wasn’t wishy-washy about being Plain or loving Bess—unlike that someone else whom she tried not to think about. And then she realized what she was doing. Comparing.
   Stop it, Bess. Stop it!
   She covered her face with her hands. Why was she struggling to tamp down thoughts about Billy lately?
   Billy Lapp had been Bess’s first love. Only twelve when she had first met him after her grandfather’s funeral, she remembered feeling struck dumb by his good looks. But it was on her second visit to Rose Hill Farm, when she was fifteen and had come to Stoney Ridge for a short visit only to end up staying, that she lost her heart to him.
   It was the summer when her widowed father had met and married Lainey. Bess had fallen head over heels in love with Billy but was caught in something her friend Maggie Zook called a classic love triangle. Maggie knew all about these kinds of things from reading romance novels on the sly. Bess loved Billy, Billy loved Betsy Mast, Betsy loved someone else who didn’t love her. Bess’s love for Billy was dampened, watered down, but not extinguished. Not entirely. Then, the following year, she and Billy were slowly but surely finding their way to each other. Suddenly, Betsy Mast reappeared, out of the blue, on the same day that Billy had a terrible row with his family, and he left Stoney Ridge without a glance back.
   Once again, Bess felt her heart shrink like a sponge being wrung out. It was always in the back of her mind that, given the chance, Billy might choose Betsy over her as he had once done. It had been a sore point between them, and yet she understood it too—maybe there was just something about that first love. A tiny part of her couldn’t let go of Billy.
   And Amos, dear Amos, had always known a part of her longed for Billy. He courted her patiently and persistently, all the while his dark brown eyes would search her face, trying to see into her heart.
   Last month, when Amos asked her to marry him for the third time, he told her that he wanted an answer and he wanted it to be yes. She knew it was time to face reality. Billy was gone, Amos was here. Billy did not love her in a wholehearted way. Amos did.
   A conversation she’d once had with her grandmother floated up from the recesses of her mind. “Bess,” Mammi would say, “you can’t go back, not in this life. You have to go forward.”
   So she had said yes.
   Still, a nagging thought kept poking at her, like a sliver in her finger. Why wasn’t she more excited about getting married? She should be. Amos Lapp was a wonderful man. But she could never bring herself to tell him that she loved him in return. She thought she did love him, but the words clogged in her throat whenever she tried. Was it because she had imagined saying those words to Billy?
   Stop it, Bess. Stop!
   She turned from the window and dressed quickly, then hurried outside to be the first to make footprints in the snow, before her father woke and started choring. Childish, she knew, for someone her age, but she couldn’t help herself. It was a game she and her dad had played for as long as she could remember. Lainey, her dad’s wife, only smiled and rolled her eyes at their silly traditions.
   Bess delighted in the seasons, each one, and took special pleasure in winter’s first appearance. As she walked out the kitchen door, a cold blast of air hit her in the face, making her eyes sting. Wrapped in coat and mittens with a scarf on her head, she went out to the yard and for nearly a minute she stood utterly still, basking in the simple familiarity of such a sight, such a home. A place she loved. The world was so quiet, so muffled, under a blanket of snowfall.
   She wandered through the snow to the rose fields, breathing in the crisp, clean, freezing air, cheeks numb. She stood and gazed at the roses that her grandmother loved so much, roses that were pruned down to canes for winter’s rest. She turned around slowly in a circle, committing to memory every square inch of this farm she loved so dearly. The December sun was rising beyond the silhouette of the barn, pushing away the remaining clouds from last night’s snowstorm. A sunbeam reflected off the glass roof of the greenhouse. On an impulse, Bess walked over to the greenhouse, trudging through the snow so she left tracks, and twisted the door handle. A blast of warm, moist, humus-scented air hit her in the face. Out of nowhere, her cat Blackie appeared and curled around her legs.
   Bess bent down to scratch the cat behind its ears, then made her way down the brick walk in the dim morning light, between rows of clay pots holding shoulder-high rose canes being propagated for next spring’s fields. She checked the wall thermometer and smiled, satisfied: sixty-five degrees. Only as warm as necessary.
   Farther back, closer to the heat source, were bushes of roses in bloom. When she reached them, she stopped to breathe in their scent and admire their blossoms. There was the Dainty Bess, a hybrid tea, light pink, single petals, a gift from her dad for her eighteenth birthday. Frowning, she noticed something on Lady Emily Peel and leaned over to examine it. It was beautiful, but prone to powdery mildew. The rose, of course—not Lady Emily.
   The last two winters, Bess and her father had forced blooms using artificial lighting to trick the roses’ internal clocks into thinking spring had come. These roses were not for sale but to keep up a steady supply of rose petals. Bess’s grandmother had taught her to make soaps, teas, and jams from the petals. Among old garden roses, those with red and deep pink flowers tended to have the strongest perfume, so those varieties were the ones Bess used for rose products. Recently, she’d been studying up on another use for roses: remedies.
   It had started when Eli Yoder, an older fellow from church, asked if she knew of a cure for baldness. She hunted through her grandmother’s books and found a rose remedy for male baldness from a time when nature’s wonder drug was a rose. Rose honey to soothe inflamed tonsils. Rose vinegar to alleviate headaches. Rose poultices to stanch wounds. Bess found a recipe for rosewater compress to allay female hysteria, though she wasn’t sure there was much of a market to hysterical women. She certainly didn’t know any.
   Unfortunately, the remedy she found for Eli Yoder’s baldness didn’t have the desired effect, though he did tell her his athlete’s foot had cleared up.
   Warm now, Bess took off her coat and mittens and tossed them on the wooden stool. She heard the greenhouse door open and turned around to see her father cross the threshold. “You beat me to the snow!”
   She grinned. “If you snooze, you lose.”
   Jonah Riehl walked up the path, his eyes automatically checking on rose propagations along the way. Halfway up, he stopped and put his hands on his hips, frowning at a row of slips that hadn’t propagated. “This greenhouse needs a good cleaning out.”
   Bess nodded. Each long shelf was crowded with pots, nearly groaning with weight.
   Jonah took a few more steps along the brick path, then pivoted on his heels. “Might be time to think about a new greenhouse. A bigger one.”
   Bess spun around and busied herself with touching the soil of a few pots with her fingertips, to see how moist they were. In most every situation, Bess was the one who pushed her father to try new things, to think more broadly, to consider new rose products for the market. But not when it came to this greenhouse. She didn’t want to hear any such talk about a new greenhouse. So many cherished memories were captured under this old glass roof—of Mammi, of Bess’s education about roses. Of Billy Lapp.
   Even now, years later, she couldn’t go into the greenhouse without being aware of Billy’s influence on Rose Hill Farm. Very stirring stuff. He had been instrumental in setting Rose Hill Farm’s business into action. He had taught himself to graft roses onto Mammi’s strong rootstocks, ones that had been in the Riehl family for generations. The varieties were varied and unusual; grafting sped up the growing process. No longer did Mammi have to wait two years for slips to root and grow large enough to sell, or for rosehips that took even longer. Rose Hill Farm became the source for Pennsylvanians looking for heritage roses. They shipped bare root roses all winter and sold flowering rosebushes during spring and summer.
   Bess loved this greenhouse more than any other place on earth. As she worked, she could almost sense her grandmother’s pleasure as she peered down from heaven’s curtain.
   She wondered what Caleb Zook, the bishop, would say if she were to ask him such a question: Can those who have passed to Glory peer down on those who have not? She could imagine him bending over slightly, to listen carefully to what she was saying. He always did that. It was one of his nicest ways. Maybe she would ask him today after church. But maybe not.
   “Tomorrow,” her dad was saying, “I’ll get started thinning out those dead slips to give more breathing room to the propagated ones. For now, we’d better get back to the house. Lainey will be wondering what happened to us for breakfast. Church starts in less than an hour.”
   “I’ll be there in a moment. I’m just going to water a few dry plants.”
   Jonah turned and walked down the brick path, limping as he went. Years ago, when Bess was a newborn, he had been injured in a buggy accident that took the life of his first wife and left him with a bad back. She watched her father as he crossed the snowy yard to reach the house, feeling a swell of love rise in her heart. This morning, his spine seemed slightly more curved, the lines on his face etched a little deeper.
   What was the matter with her today? She felt so maudlin and sentimental. But she couldn’t imagine leaving Rose Hill Farm and that’s exactly what was going to happen.
   She watered a few plants that seemed a little dry, checked on a few others, and bent down to pick up her coat that the cat had pulled down to the ground and curled up on to nap. As she shooed Blackie away, something caught her eye. In the far corner of the greenhouse, tucked deep under the workbench, was a potted rose, fully leafed out with one lone bud, still enclosed in its green capsule. She got down on her knees and dragged the pot out into the open but it was too heavy for her to lift.
   Strange. It was a rose she didn’t recognize, and after so many years at Rose Hill Farm, she knew each and every rose. And why would it be about to bloom now? Yet with only one bud? She looked at it again, smelled the bud, studied the veining on the leaves. A wispy memory, fuzzy and out of focus, something she hadn’t thought about in years and years, floated through her mind.
   No. Not a chance. It couldn’t be that rose. That rose?!


   On Friday morning, Billy Lapp gave an all-over shudder as he walked into one of Penn State University’s greenhouses, happy to be out of the biting wind. There was a pleasantness to the greenhouse at this time of day that could always manage to take the edge off a man’s early-morning surliness, especially when the weather was bad. Even when snow, sleet, or biting cold pressed against the glass windows, inside the greenhouse, with the door sealed tightly, it was never chilly.
   Billy Lapp’s supervisor, Jill Koch, was waiting inside for him, examining some drought-resistant wheat seedlings he’d been experimenting with. She straightened when she saw him. “Morning. I got a call from someone who might have an unidentified rose on his property. He’s spent a week trying to find someone who could identify it and was directed to us by a Rose Society. I asked if he could send a photograph, but he said he didn’t own a camera.”
   Billy set down his thermos and brown-bag lunch on the shelf that served as a desk, yanked off his coat, and tossed it next to his lunch. “What kind of a rose?”
   “He’s not sure.”
   He rolled his eyes and groaned. “It’s probably an American Beauty.” The most common of all garden roses. No wonder the Rose Society shrugged it off.
   “I don’t think so,” she said thoughtfully. “He seemed to know his roses. He said he thought it might be an old rose.”
   Billy stilled. He was passionate about finding old roses. It was the reason he was given the unofficial job of being the university’s rose rustler. “Where did he find it? In a cemetery?” Old cemeteries were the best places to find old roses. It was an old custom to plant a mother’s favorite flower beside her grave and, most often, that favorite was a rose. Unlike gardens, cemeteries weren’t usually re-landscaped, so old roses survived long after they were pushed out of gardens. Many of those old heritage roses were sturdy, disease resistant, and survived complete neglect. Just wanting for someone, like Billy, to find them.
   “He didn’t say where he found it, but I think he said it was potted.”
   Billy was intrigued; nothing in the world matched the intrigue of discovering a rose’s identity. Nothing. “What did he want?”
   “He wanted someone to come out and identify the rose. The Rose Society told him we have a rose rustler on staff to track down unusual finds.” She lifted her eyebrows and gave him a smug smile. “You.”
   He glanced around the greenhouse to assess how much work he needed to finish before he could take a few hours away from it. “I suppose I could check it out on Monday. Did you get the address?”
   “I wrote it down the way it sounded on the answering machine. Not sure I got it all, though. I could have sworn I heard a horse passing by.” Jill handed him the slip of paper but held on as he reached out for it. “Do you have plans for Christmas?”
   He tugged the paper out of her hand and stuffed it in his jeans pocket. Over her shoulder he noticed that a PVC joint was coming undone in the skeleton of the greenhouse. He hated these cheap, plastic greenhouses, called hoop houses, that had sprung up in the last decade. Hoop houses with their plastic sheeting just weren’t made to last. He sidled around Jill to jam the PVC joint back together with the heels of his hand, pondering how much he longed for a good old-fashioned glass greenhouse. “Is it already Christmas?”
   “You’re kidding, right? It’s only a few weeks away.” She fingered the collar of his coat, hanging over the shelf. “Are you planning to spend it with your family?”
   He knew where this conversation was going and wished it were over. “To be honest, I haven’t given any thought to Christmas.” That was an honest comment. He scrupulously avoided any thoughts of Christmas.
   Jill walked up to him, standing just a little too close. “You never talk about yourself or your family. Sometimes I wonder if you’re part of the Federal Witness Protection program.”
   He grinned. “There’s just not much to tell. I’d rather hear about you.”
   “You’re not going to get away with that kind of talk. Someday, I’d like to find out all about you.”
   “Absolutely.” Not a chance. A girl like Jill Koch would turn tail and run if she knew about his humble upbringing.
   “So . . . would you like to join me for Christmas? Come for dinner?”
   He stiffened. “Let me get back to you on that.”
   The smile on her face faded into a frown. “Why am I not surprised that you’re dodging the question?” She leaned closer to him, lingering, and he stepped back, touched his hat, and said, “Thank you for bringing the message.”
   “One of these days, Billy Lapp . . .” She turned and sauntered down the long narrow aisle, stopping to check a plant here and there. She stopped at the wheat seedlings and turned back to him, all stiff and starchy. “They’re too dry. Get them watered.”
   Jill Koch was an attractive girl and had made no secret that she was interested in him, but he knew it wasn’t smart to combine work and romance, especially when she happened to be his supervisor and she reported directly to the greenhouse manager—who happened to be her uncle. If it didn’t work out between them, and it probably wouldn’t, he’d be the one out of a job.
   He needed this job. He loved it. He’d worked at Penn State Extension for almost four years now, pruning, transplanting seedlings, cultivating flowers, schlepping large bags of soil around, fertilizing, studying and implementing pest control, and gleaning as much about horticulture as he could. The work suited him perfectly.
   Everything was finally going right for him.
   Why, then, did something keep gnawing at him? An aching loneliness, a feeling that he was missing something. Out of habit, he tugged the end of his sweater sleeve over his left wrist. It was the holidays, he supposed. Christmas was the hardest time of all for him. Like he was always outside looking in at others.
   He unrolled the hose, turned it to low, and gently sprinkled the seedlings with water as he heard a soft, rhythmic knocking, just audible over the hiss of the hose. He turned off the hose and walked to the end of the greenhouse. Swinging the door open, Billy blinked twice. A dark-skinned man stood in the dim, gray morning. Tall and lanky, a fellow down on his luck, wearing a thin overcoat that wasn’t suited for a cold Pennsylvania winter.
   The greenhouses were at the back of the university campus near a run-down part of town and it wasn’t unusual for a stray fellow to wander in, looking for a place to warm up for a while. Hobos, tramps, vagabonds, and vagrants, Jill called them, rough customers. She warned him to chase them off, but Billy never did. To his way of thinking, everybody needed a little help now and then. Where would he be without the help a few had given him during that dark period when he first left home? “Why don’t you come sit by the heater and warm yourself?”
   “I don’t mean to intrude,” the hobo said. “I can see you’re busy.”
   “I’m not going to let you go without a cup of coffee to warm your belly.” Billy grabbed his widemouthed thermos and handed it to the hobo. Glancing at his face, he was struck by the unusual color of his eyes. Neither blue nor purple, they were a near-perfect match for the amethyst crystal interior of a geode he remembered that Dawdi Zook, his mother’s father, had kept on his fireplace mantel back in Stoney Ridge. He could envision it clearly, though it had been a decade since he’d seen it up close in his grandfather’s work-worn hands. Transfixed, Billy could practically hear his grandfather’s deep, rumbly voice: While the minerals on the exterior created a hard shell, the ones that seeped to the interior were transformed into beauty. An example from nature to show how God brings good out of bad.
   The hobo handed the thermos back to Billy, pulling him into the present. As Billy screwed the lid on the thermos, he was surprised to realize the man was younger than he had assumed—or maybe it was that his face was unlined. Untroubled. Without stress or strife. And he didn’t act defeated like so many of the other men who wandered through College Station.
   The hobo was admiring a set of orchids with their delicate blooms. “Beautiful, aren’t they? So intricately designed. Fragile yet long lasting.”
   “Are you a flower lover?”
   “Yes. Always have been. My father’s a top-notch gardener.”
   Beyond the hobo’s shoulder, Billy spotted his brown-bag lunch. “Are you hungry? I made two sandwiches.” He reached for the bag, opened it, took out one sandwich, wrapped in waxed paper, and handed it to the man. “Nothing fancy—just peanut butter and jelly. Made it myself.”
   “I am a little hungry. Had a long way to go this morning.”
   “Wait here.” Billy extracted a metal stool, grimy but sturdy, from under the rows of plants. Brushing it off with his hand, he set it down and beckoned the hobo to it. “Sit a spell. I’d enjoy the company on this cold morning.” He pulled a crate from under a shelf and turned it over to sit on.
   The hobo sat down and smiled at Billy. There was something calming about him, as if he had all the time in the world and there was no place else he’d rather be than right there, in a greenhouse with Billy.
   Before the hobo unwrapped his sandwich, he bowed his head and Billy thought he heard him offer some kind of quiet prayer spoken in another language. It was mumbled so softly, he might have been mistaken. Or maybe the man was drunk, though he didn’t seem to be. A few weeks ago, a drunk wandered into the greenhouse and Billy sobered him up with high-octane coffee, so thick you could cut it with a knife, before he sent him on his way.
   “So you’ve got quite a knack for plants, from what I hear.”
   Billy glanced up. “Where’d you hear that?”
   The man took a bite of the sandwich. “Skippy peanut butter?”
   Billy nodded. “I’m Billy, by the way.”
   “Call me George.”
   George took a swig of coffee to wash down the peanut butter sandwich. He looked up at Billy. “Folger’s?”
   “Yup.” It was on sale at the grocery store.
   “Old Quaker family from Nantucket. Benjamin Franklin’s mother was a Folger. Did you know that?”
   “No. No I didn’t.” Billy took a bite of the sandwich, chewed, swallowed. “George, mind if I ask how you ended up as a hobo?”
   “A hobo?” A smile flickered like a candle across George’s face. He stretched his legs out in front of him and leaned back on his elbows against the shelf.
   “You’re obviously a bright guy. Have you had trouble finding a job?”
   “Not so much. Work comes along just when it’s needed.” He finished the sandwich, swallowed one last swig of coffee, and rose to his feet. “Well, I’ll be off then. Thanks for sharing your lunch.”
   Billy looked at George’s threadbare overcoat. There was no way that thin coat could keep him warm. He grabbed his blue jacket from the shelf and tossed it at the hobo. “Take it. I have two.”
   A soft look came into George’s eyes as he gripped the jacket in his hands. “Thank you, Billy.” He slipped it on and slowly zipped the coat up to his chin. Then he reached out and wrapped his arms around Billy.
   Billy stood there, stiffly, awkwardly. Men don’t hug! He could never remember receiving a hug from another man. Not once. Receiving a hug from a man—a stranger! a hobo!—was awkward and uncomfortable. And yet, it felt like George was giving Billy a blessing and a benediction, wrapped up in a hug. A deep calm surrounded Billy and he felt himself relax, ever so slightly. George released him, gripping Billy’s upper arms and smiling gently with that calm old-soul smile. “Until we meet again, Billy Lapp.”
   George turned to leave and it occurred to Billy that he wanted him to stay. The desire to remain in the company of anyone—much less a hobo—was so unfamiliar that Billy wondered if he might be coming down with something. A cold or fever, perhaps.
   George stepped around Billy, then stopped and bent down to pick up a piece of paper. “I think you dropped this.” He handed it to Billy and passed him to reach for the door, then glanced over his shoulder. “This has all the makings to be a wonderful Christmas, Billy Lapp. One of the best.”
   As the door clicked shut behind George, a disturbing thought emerged. How did this hobo know Billy’s last name? That was creepy. Had George been watching him? Was he a psycho? Then Billy remembered that his nametag was pinned to his shirt pocket.
   He glanced at the slip of paper in his hand. It was the information Jill had given him about the caller with the unidentified rose. He unfolded the slip of paper and swallowed. The address was Rose Hill Farm in Stoney Ridge.
   Bess’s home.
   Billy’s peaceful mood turned sour.
Suzanne Woods Fisher, Christmas at Rose Hill Farm Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2014. Used by permission.

CHRISTMAS AT ROSE HILL FARM iPad Bundle Giveaway & sign up to host a Book Club Brunch!

Join best-selling, award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher for an Amish Christmas to remember. Filled with heart-twisting moments amid the sweet anticipation of love, Christmas at Rose Hill Farm will charm readers into the holiday spirit.

Suzanne is hosting a "Christmas Rose" iPad bundle giveaway and a nation-wide Christmas at Rose Hill Farm Book Club Brunch in November. Enter the giveaway below and sign up to host a brunch HERE.
TWO grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • A Rose-patterned iPad case
  • A Rose-patterned phone case (for any model phone)
  • A Christmas wreath
  • A set of Christmas hand-towels
  • Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Five second place winners will receive:
  • Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 28th. All winners will be announced September 29th at Suzanne's blog.

rosehill-brunchbuttonHost a Christmas at Rose Hill Farm Book Club Brunch! This fall Suzanne is inviting book clubs across the nation to throw a Christmas at Rose Hill Farm Book Club Brunch. Sign up here between now and September 29. If you’re selected as one of the 50 hosts, you’ll receive a copy of the book plus two other Revell titles (give them away as party prizes or door prizes or keep them for yourself), a complete party kit, and a discount code to purchase copies of Christmas at Rose Hill Farm for your book club at a discount. Suzanne is also encouraging each book club brunch to collect non-perishable items for their local community shelter. She will be making a donation to her favorite charity (helping abused women and children) for every brunch that meets their goal. Click here for more details and to SIGN UP!

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 29th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

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