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.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips, ©2016

Secrets of the Shetlands, Book 1

My Review:

As the music drew her, Loni Ford came to an antique furniture shop. Somehow it soothed her. Calling to her deeper than she had ever felt before. To a homeland of the heart.

Cover Art
   "Welcome to you all!" David called out. "Especially to you who have come from throughout Shetland to join us, and also from mainland Scotland and England. As chief of our small but proud island clan, I extend hearty greetings on behalf of the people of Whales Reef. May you find the warmth of our hearts refreshing to your spirits, and may your parting be no longer as strangers but as friends."
   --The Inheritance, 244
Explore the Shetland Islands.   The picturesque town of Lerwick,  Shetland, has a lot to offer visitors. Discover this compact island capital, with a beautiful old waterfront as well as great shops and lively bars and cafés.  It is one of the stops on Verstraete Travel's escorted Viking Passage Cruise departing Aug. 29.  Link to brochure:    Space is limited - call 1.800.565.9267 or email: As the long winter and spring have passed, entering into summer and the annual June solstice activities, David Tulloch longed for an end to the hold of finances resulting from the lack of a will at laird Macgregor Tulloch's passing. As clan chief, he oversees the people and holdings of the island. The main source of employment is the woolen mill, especially for the widows of fishermen lost at sea.

Generations back the composing of lairdship and chief rested upon one person. Because of the absence of an elder son, the duties and responsibilities were divided between two remaining sons, and trickled down between following heirs. This generation, the question is who is the continuation going to be through?

This is the first book I have read by Michael Phillips and I look forward to the series following in book 2, The Cottage. I especially liked the history of the generations, placing each one, and the follow-up discovery of their lives. This will carry over well into the second book. David Tulloch has wisdom beyond his years in knowing what is worthy and attainable to be spoken of, when to speak and when to be silent. I thought the book flowed very nicely, interweaving between Loni's story and the island happenings. There is a family tree and a map of Whales Reef in the front I found very helpful in sorting out heritage of generations. I would like some recipes from the bake shop! This book was a hit with me, and... I would give it a ten rating.

Change Is Coming To Whales Reef
The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch's heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David's calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control.
   While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate's assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island
and its traditional way of lifehangs in the balance.
   Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .
   Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips' dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.

Shetland (/ˈʃɛtlənd/; Scottish Gaelic: Sealtainn), also called the Shetland Islands, is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north-east of the island of Great Britain and forms part of the United Kingdom.

Enjoy this excerpt from The Inheritance ~ Chapter 1

Part 1
June 1924


A Boy and a Bird


On a late afternoon of a surprisingly warm day, a small lad sat on a large stone with the blue of sky and water spreading out before him. The air was full of motion, but for this one of Shetland’s minor islands the wind was relatively light. The chair-rock of his perch jutted out of the ground near a high bluff overlooking the sea.
   The boy lifted his face to the fragrant breeze as he watched the birds soaring above. He loved the birds, and he loved the sea. But today that love was tinged with sadness.
   He looked beside him. On a tuft of sea grass lay a tiny bird with a broken wing.
   The boy was only seven, but the music of the angels stirred within him. He valued life in all its forms. From almost the moment he was born he possessed an uncanny connection to the animal kingdom. It was not merely that he loved animals. This boy understood them far beyond the usual capacity of humans to comprehend their winged and four-footed brethren of creation.
   By the time he was three, his father and mother avowed that he knew what every dog around him was thinking. With searching eyes he looked at the infinitely fascinating nonhuman faces of the creatures around him. By age four he walked among the sheep and cows and ponies his father tended for the laird as if he were one of them. He talked to them too. His strange communications, however, came in whispers, gestures, and otherworldly noises whose subtleties were known only to the animals. A word or sign from the boy brought instant obedience from any of the laird’s half-dozen sheepdogs, as well as their own Shep, the boy’s constant companion now resting at his feet.
   A brief gust blew up from the cliff face in front of him, ruffling the tiny bird’s feathers and sending the boy’s carroty thatch into a momentary flurry. He steadied himself on the stone and breathed deeply.
   Those living beings most at home here—who had been here the longest and doubtless the first to settle in this place—were those who had made peace with this land of wind. The continuous currents were sometimes their ally, often a stimulus, occasionally a friend . . . but never an enemy. Wind was necessary to their survival, whether generated by the earth spinning on its axis or by their own powerfully created musculature.
   These wind-lovers were the birds.
   The winged species of the Shetlands, at once exceptional yet commonplace, were majestic and colorful in their diversity. For sheer quantity they seemed numerous as the sands surrounding these isolated islands in the middle of the North Atlantic. If the ancient parable was true that two were once sold for less than a penny, no one would now pay a penny for even a thousand of the gulls, thrushes, swifts, swallows, sparrows, finches, and bramblings that swarmed these moors, inlets, and rocky coastlines.
   But earthly eyes do not always perceive eternal merit. Even the tiniest of these had worth for those who saw them as creatures imagined into being out of God’s fathering heart. The most insignificant of creatures—both birds and boys—had stories to tell.
   Young Sandy Innes, son of the laird’s gamekeeper, had come upon the bird lying helpless and alone beside the rock. A pang seized his heart, for the tiny life was precious to him. That life, however, looked fragile and was ebbing away.
   He knew the bird was dying.
   With a single gesture to Shep behind him, he sat down on the rock. The dog had made no move since. The first impulse of Sandy’s boyish love was to stroke the feathery back. But he knew that doing so would frighten the poor tiny thing. He did not want it to die in fear, but in peace.
   So he sat.
   And waited.
   A tear crept into his eyes as he gazed on the tiny creature beside him.
   When he heard footsteps moments later, the boy turned. A tall figure was walking toward him.
   The man saw the bird on the ground. He sat down on the thick grass with the bird between himself and the boy, the black-and-white form of his gamekeeper’s sheepdog motionless behind them.
   No word was spoken for several minutes. Neither felt compelled to disturb the tranquility of the moor behind them and the sea before them.
   “What are ye aboot, Sandy?” said the man at length.
   “The wee birdie is dyin’,” replied the boy. His high voice was soft, tender, and unsteady.
   “Yes . . . I see.”
   “I wanted tae sit wi’ him so he wouldna be alone. I didna want him tae die wi’oot a body wi’ him.”
   The man pondered the words. The only sounds were the breeze, which rose into an occasional swirl about their faces, and the gently splashing waves against the rocky shoreline below.
Michael Phillips, The Inheritance Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2016. Used by permission.

Michael Phillips Michael Phillips is a bestselling author who has penned more than seventy books, both fiction and nonfiction. In addition, he has served as editor/redactor of nearly thirty more books. Over the past thirty years, his persistent efforts have helped reawaken interest in the writings of nineteenth century Scotsman George MacDonald. Michael and his wife, Judy, spend time each year in Scotland, but make their home near Sacramento, California. Michael has also co-written with Judith Pella.

***Thank you to author Michael Phillips and to Bethany House Publishers for my review copy of The Inheritance, Book 1 in the Secrets of the Shetlands series. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Michael Phillips Continues His Sweeping Shetland Islands Saga
Book 2, The Cottage, releases in October 2016
Cover Art

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander, © 2013

World War, 1939-1945

She felt a kinship with the embroiderer, the mysterious need to preserve a slice of time before it flowed into the mists of memory.
   "I had to capture the moment."
   --Where Treasure Hides, 13
August 1939 ~ London, England
A strain of music drew her as she waited at the train station ~ "Rule, Britannia!" and the holder of the violin not more than seven or eight, played with his heartstrings for all to hear and believe. That Alison Schuyler should be there at the exact same moment Lieutenant Ian Devlin was watching out for young Josef Talbert, Kindertransport identity label 127. Boarding his train, Alison notices she has missed her connection ... and her heart that day, as Lt. Devlin invites her to tea and memories. He was a soldier on the eve of war. A chance meeting at Waterloo Station....

I have just finished reading Chapter Four and tears cover my eyes, hating for them to part. Especially, with her parting thoughts through the window of the train:
   "You're safe now, Ian Devlin," she whispered. "I've left you, and now you're safe."
As her train continues down the track, I cherish the few moments they have had together.

"We'll Meet Again" is a 1939 song made famous by British singer Vera Lynn with music and lyrics written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles. The song is one of the most famous songs of the Second World War era, and resonated with soldiers going off to fight and their families and sweethearts. The assertion that "we'll meet again" is optimistic, as many soldiers did not survive to see their loved ones again. Indeed, the meeting place at some unspecified time in the future would have been seen by many who lost loved ones to be heaven.

Can a day change your life? Ian Devlin hopes it is so. An image to take to war with him with hopes that they will indeed meet again.

This is a story of the hiding of the irreplaceable art of the Masters. Alison lives with her grandfather in Holland where he owns an art gallery. Believing that anyone who touches their family comes to ruin, she tries to guard her heart against the memory of Ian. When England declares war on Germany, Ian is recalled to duty.

Johnnie Alexander has visibly taken us through the throngs of war during this time period in history. I would like to see a continued story beyond Where Treasure Hides by this author. Very deftly written, you will follow the characters amid every turn in their unknown days to come.

PictureAuthor Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell) and her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour) release in 2016.

***Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a copy of Where Treasure Hides for review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy this excerpt of Where Treasure Hides ~ Chapter One



The stringed notes of “Rule, Britannia!” grew louder as the crowd quieted, eyes and ears straining in their search for the violin soloist. The patriotic anthem echoed through Waterloo Station’s concourse, and as the second chorus began, sporadic voices sang the lyrics. Travel-weary Brits stood a little straighter, chins lifted, as the violinist completed the impromptu performance, the last note sounding long after the strings were silenced.
   Alison Schuyler gripped her leather bag and threaded her way through the crowd toward the source of the music. As the final note faded inside the hushed terminal, she squeezed between a sailor and his girl, murmuring an apology at forcing them to part, and stepped onto a bench to see over the crowd. A dark-haired boy, no more than seven or eight, held the violin close to his anemic frame. His jacket, made of a finely woven cloth, hung loosely on his thin shoulders. The matching trousers would have slipped down his hips if not for his hand-tooled leather belt.
   Either the boy had lost weight or his parents had purposely provided him clothes to grow into. Alison hoped for the latter, though from the rumors she’d heard, her first assumption was all too likely. She stared at the cardboard square, secured by a thick length of twine, that the boy wore as a cheap necklace. The penciled writing on the square numbered the boy as 127.
   Other children crowded near the young musician, each one dressed in their fine traveling clothes, each one labeled with cardboard and twine. Germany’s castaways, transported to England for their own safety while their desperate parents paced the floors at home and vainly wished for an end to these troublesome days.
   “Now will you allow him to keep his violin?” A man’s voice, pleasant but firm, broke the spell cast over the station. The children fidgeted and a low murmur rumbled through the crowd. The speaker, dressed in the khaki uniform of a British Army officer, ignored them, his gaze intent on the railroad official overseeing the children.
   “He better,” said a woman standing near Alison. “Never heard anything so lovely. And the lad not even one of the king’s subjects. I’d take him home myself—yes, I would—if I'd a bed to spare.”
   Alison mentally sketched the tableau before her, pinning the details into her memory. The officer’s hand resting on the boy’s shoulder; the official, a whistle around his neck, restlessly tapping his clipboard with his pencil; the dread and hope in the boy’s eyes as he clutched his prized instrument. The jagged square that tagged his identity.
   The travelers at the edge of the children’s irregular circle collectively held their breaths, waiting for the official’s reply. He shifted his glance from the nervous boy to the expectant passengers, reminding Alison of a gopher she had once seen trapped between two growling mongrels. The memory caused her to shudder.
   “He might as well. Don’t know what to do with it if he left it behind.” The official waved a plump hand in a dismissive gesture. He certainly hadn’t missed many meals. He blew his whistle, longer than necessary, and Alison flinched at its shriek.
   “Get organized now. Numbers one through fifty right here. Fifty-one through a hundred there. The rest of you . . .”
   The show over and the hero having won, the onlookers dispersed, their chatter drowning out the official’s instructions to his refugees.
   Alison remained standing on the bench, studying the man and the boy. They knelt next to each other, and the boy carefully laid the violin into the dark-blue velvet interior of its case. His slender fingers caressed the polished wood before he shut the lid. The man said something too softly for her to hear, and the boy laughed.
   The spark flickered inside her, tingling her fingers, and she knew. This glimpse of a paused moment would haunt her dreams. It rarely occurred so strongly, her overwhelming desire to capture time, to freeze others within movement. She quickly pulled a sketch pad and pencil from her bag. Her fingers flowed lightly over the paper, moving to a rhythm that even she didn’t understand. Tilting her head, she imagined the notes of the violin soaring near the high ceiling, swooping among the arches.
   Her pencil danced as she added determination to the man’s jawline and copied the two diamond-shaped stars on his collar. She highlighted the trace of anxiety in the boy’s eyes, so at odds with his endearing smile. What had he left behind? Where he was going? She drew the cardboard square and printed the last detail: 127.
   The man clicked shut the brass hinges on the violin case and, taking the boy’s hand, approached the station official. Alison hopped down from the bench and followed behind them, awkwardly balancing the pad, pencil, and her bag.
   The brown hair beneath the officer’s military cap had been recently trimmed. A pale sliver, like a chalk line, bordered the inch or so of recently sunburned neck above his crisp collar. Alison guessed he was in his midtwenties, a little older than she. Identifying him, from his bearing and speech, as gentry, she positioned herself near enough to discreetly eavesdrop.
   “Where is young Josef here going?” asked the soldier. “Has he been assigned a home?”
   The official gave an exaggerated sigh at the interruption. He lifted the cardboard square with his pencil. “Let me see . . . number 127.” He flipped the pages on his clipboard.
   “His name is Josef Talbert.”
   “Yes, of course, they all have names. I have a name, you have a name, she has a name.” He pointed the eraser end of his pencil, in turn, to himself, to the soldier, and to Alison.
   The soldier looked at her, puzzled, and she flushed as their eyes met. Flecks of gold beckoned her into a calm presence, sending a strange shiver along her spine. She turned to leave, but her stylish black pumps seemed to stick to the pavement. She willed her feet to move, to no avail.
   When the soldier turned back to the official, Alison thought the spell would break. She needed to go, to forget she had ever felt the pull of his calm determination, to erase those mesmerizing eyes from her memory. But it was too late. The Van Schuyler fate had descended upon her, and she was lost in its clutches. Her heart turned to mush when the soldier spoke.
   “My name is Ian Devlin of Kenniston Hall, Somerset. This lad’s name, as I said, is Josef Talbert, recently come from Dresden. That’s in Germany.” He stressed each syllable of the country. “And your name, sir, is . . . ?”
   The official scowled and pointed to his badge. “Mr. Randall Hargrove. Just like it says right here.”
   Ian nodded in a curt bow and Josef, copying him, did the same. Alison giggled, once more drawing Ian’s attention.
   She flushed again and almost choked as she suppressed the nervous laughter that bubbled within her. “So sorry. My name is Alison Schuyler.”
   “You’re an American,” said Ian, more as a statement than a question.
   “Born in Chicago.” She bobbed a quick curtsey. “But now living in Rotterdam, as I descend from a long and distinguished line of Dutch Van Schuylers.” Her fake haughtiness elicited an amused smile from Ian.
   Mr. Hargrove was not impressed. “Now that we’re all acquainted, I need to get back to sorting out these children.”
   Ian’s smile faded. “Mr. Hargrove, please be so kind as to tell me: where are you sending Josef?”
   “Says here he’s going to York.” Mr. Hargrove pointed at a line on his sheaf of papers. “He’s got an uncle there who has agreed to take him in.”
   Ian knelt beside Josef. “Is that right? You’re going to family?”
   “Ja,” Josef said, then switched to English, though he struggled to pronounce the words. “My father’s brother.”
   “All right, then.” Ian patted the boy’s shoulder. “Keep tight hold of that violin, okay?”
   Josef nodded and threw his arms around Ian’s neck, almost knocking him off balance. “Danke. Tausend dank.”
   “You’re welcome,” Ian whispered back.
   Alison signed and dated her sketch, then held it out to Josef. “This is for you. If you’d like to have it.”
   Josef studied the drawing. “Is this really me?”
   “Ja,” Alison said, smiling.
   Josef offered the sketch to Ian. “Please. Write your name?”
   Ian glanced at Alison, then put his hand on Josef’s shoulder. “I don’t think I should—”
   “I don’t mind,” she said.
   “You're sure?”
   “For him.” She whispered the words and tilted her head toward Josef.
   Borrowing Alison’s pencil, Ian printed his name beside his likeness. He returned the sketch to Josef and tousled the boy’s dark hair. Ian opened his mouth to say something else just as another long blast from the official’s whistle assaulted their ears. They turned toward the sound and the official motioned to Josef.
   “Time to board,” he shouted. “Numbers 119 to 133, follow me.”
   He blew the whistle again as several children separated from the larger group and joined him.
   “Go now, Josef,” Ian urged. “May God keep you.”
   Josef quickly opened his violin case and laid the sketch on top. He hugged Ian again, hesitated, then hugged Alison. They both watched as he lugged the violin case toward the platform and got in the queue to board the train. He turned around once and waved, then disappeared, one small refugee among too many.
* * *

At just over six feet in height, Ian was used to seeing over most people’s heads. But he couldn’t keep track of little Josef once the boy boarded the train. Watch over him, Father. May his family be good to him.
   “I hope he’ll be all right,” said Alison.
   “I hope so too.”
   “So many of them.” She gestured toward the remaining children who waited their turn to board.
   Ian scanned the young faces, wishing he could do something to take away the fear in their anxious eyes. “Their families are doing what they think best.”
   “Sending them away from their homes?”
   “Removing them from Hitler’s reach.” Ian turned his attention to the American artist. He could detect her Dutch heritage in her features. Neither tall nor slender enough to be called statuesque, she wore her impeccably tailored crimson suit with a quiet and attractive poise.
   “It’s called the Kindertransport.”
   “I’ve heard of it. Are they all from Germany?”
   “A few come from Austria. Or what used to be Austria before the Anschluss. The lucky ones have relatives here. The rest are placed in foster homes.”
   “Jewish children.”
   “Most of them.”
   While he spoke, he held Alison’s gaze. She reminded him of a summer day at the seashore. Her blonde hair, crowned with a black, narrow-brimmed hat, fell in golden waves below her shoulders. Her pale complexion possessed the translucent quality of a seashell’s pearl interior. The gray-blue of her eyes sparkled like the glint of the sun on the deep waves.
   “Josef played beautifully.” Even her voice felt warm and bright. “He’s very talented.”
   “So are you. Your sketch was skillfully done.”
   “That’s kind of you to say.” A charming smile lit up her face. “At least I’m good enough to know how good I’m not.”
   Ian took a moment to puzzle that out and chuckled. “You made me better-looking than I am, and I appreciate that. For Josef’s sake, of course.”
   “I assure you, Mr. Devlin, there was no flattery.”
   Ian smiled at her American accent and tapped his insignia. “Lieutenant. But please, call me Ian.”
   “Ian.” Alison tucked away her pad and pencil. “I suppose I should go now.”
   Her words burrowed into Ian’s gut. He couldn’t let her leave, not yet. “To Rotterdam? Or Chicago?”
   She glanced at her watch. “Apparently neither. I found myself so inspired by a young boy and his violin that I missed my train.”
   Ian felt as if he’d been handed a gift. Or had he? Suddenly aware of an absence, he looked around expectantly. “Are you traveling alone?
   A twinge of her apparent impropriety tensed Alison’s mouth and chin but didn’t dim the sparkle of her clear eyes. “Quite modern of me, don’t you think?”
   “Rather foolish,” Ian began, but stopped himself. “Though it’s not for me to say.”
   “You’re perfectly right, of course. My great-aunt accompanied me to Paris, but she became ill and I couldn’t stay away any longer. So I left her to recuperate within walking distance of all the best dress shops on the Champs-Élysées and, voilà! Here I am. Alone and unchaperoned.”
   Ian drew back in surprise and raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Wait a minute. You’re traveling from Paris to Rotterdam via London? Most people take the shortcut through Belgium.”
   “Yes, I suppose it is a bit of a roundabout way.” She avoided his gaze and the awkward moment pressed between them.
   “It’s really none of my business.”
   “Perhaps not. But there’s a simple explanation.” Her voice sounded too bright, and Ian sensed the nervousness she failed to hide. “I had a . . . a commission. A portrait.”
   Her expressive eyes begged him to believe the lie they both knew she had just told. With the slightest nod, Ian agreed, though he was curious to know her secrets. He suddenly pictured the two of them wandering the fields and woods on his family estate, talking about everything and nothing, Ian capturing her every word and safeguarding it deep within himself. But he doubted a woman who traveled alone across northern Europe, especially in these unsettled times, would enjoy the quiet boredom of country life.
   He had tired of the unchanging rhythms of village traditions himself in his teen years. But after several months of combat drills and facing an uncertain future, he had been looking forward to a few days of idleness and local gossip.
   Until now.
   “I feel somewhat responsible,” he said.
   “That I missed my train?” She shrugged. “A small inconvenience. I’ll leave early in the morning and be home in time for supper.”
   “What about supper tonight?”
   Alison chuckled. “It’s too early for supper.”
   Ian glanced at his watch. “Though not too early for tea. A British tradition, you know.”
   Conflict flitted across her features. She wanted to say yes, but something held her back.
   “I’m not exactly a damsel in distress.”
   “It's only tea.”
   “May I ask you something?”
   “Please do.”
   “Would you have taken Josef to, what was it? Kenniston Hall? If he hadn’t had an uncle waiting for him?”
   Ian hesitated, not wanting to tell this beautiful woman how his father would have reacted if he had arrived home with the young Jewish boy. True, he could have made up some story to explain the boy’s need for a place to stay. Even if his father suspected the truth, he’d have the story to tell those neighbors whose thinly veiled anti-Semitism skewed their view of what was happening in Germany. As he so often did, Ian wondered how long the blindness would last. What would Hitler have to do before his insatiable thirst for power was clear for all to see? “I don’t know.”
   “He played that piece so magnificently. No one who heard it will ever forget this day.”
   “I don’t think Mr. Randall Hargrove was too happy about it. But at least Josef got to keep his violin.”
   “Why wouldn’t he?”
   “Hargrove wanted to confiscate it. He insinuated Josef had stolen it, that it was ‘too fine an instrument’ for a child like him to have in his possession.”
   “So you stood up for him.”
   Ian flushed with sudden embarrassment, but smiled at the memory. “I asked the lad if he could play. And he did.”
   “You are a chivalrous knight, Lieutenant Devlin. I will never forget you.”
   “That sounds too much like a good-bye.”
   “Just because I missed my train doesn’t mean you should miss yours.”
   “My train doesn’t leave till late this evening.”
   “But I thought—”
   “I only arrived in time to see Hargrove making a ninny of himself.”
   “Surely there’s a train you could take without waiting till this evening.”
   Ian glanced around as if to be sure no one was paying attention to them and leaned forward. “True,” he said in a conspiratorial whisper. “But my commanding officer entrusted me with a secret commission. I’m to deliver an important message to a lovely young woman who lives in the West End.” With a flourish, he pulled a pale-blue envelope from his jacket pocket and handed it to Alison.
* * *

The thick envelope, made from high-quality paper, had been sealed with gold wax and embossed with two Ms entwined in a scripted design. Alison guessed that the stationery inside would be of similar color and quality. The commanding officer was evidently a man of good breeding and taste. She turned the envelope over and read the broad black strokes written on its face: To My Darling Trish.
   “His girlfriend?”
   “His wife,” Ian whispered with a furtive glance around them.
   Alison played along. “Your commanding officer must think quite highly of you to trust you with such an important mission.”
   He slipped the envelope back into his pocket with a slight shrug of his shoulders. “He knows I wouldn’t pass through London without seeing Trish.”
   “Oh?” A slight tremor in the simple syllable betrayed her interest.
   “I loved her first, you see.”
   A thousand questions raced through her mind. But it didn’t matter. After today, she would never see him again. His past didn’t matter. Whom he loved didn’t matter.
   Aware that the man who had unwittingly, almost negligently, captured her heart couldn’t seem to take his eyes off her, Alison found one safe response. “But she chose him instead.”
   Realizing her failure to achieve just the right amount of nonchalance and pity, she tried again and found herself asking the very question she wanted to avoid. “Did she break your heart?”
   Again, Ian leaned forward as if divulging a great secret, and Alison bent her head toward his so as not to miss a word. “Something so personal shouldn’t be discussed in the midst of Waterloo Station. But there’s a little place near the Westminster Bridge that serves the most delicious cherry scones you’ll ever eat.”
   “You mean Minivers?”
   “You know it?”
   “My father took me there for my sixteenth birthday. He ordered a cherry scone for each of us and stuck a pink candle in mine. Then he sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.” She remembered closing her eyes before she blew out the candle and wishing that every birthday, every holiday, could be spent with her father. That he and her grandfather would make up their quarrels so that she no longer had to choose between them. But she had hugged the futile wish to herself, telling it to no one, and laughed at her father’s clumsiness with the dainty teacups and miniature pastries. The cheerful memory felt as perfect, yet fragile, as the pristine white linens and delicate china that graced Minivers’ cozy tables.
   “He felt awkward there, I think. It’s not exactly a gentleman’s place of choice, is it?”
   “The scones are worth a bit of discomfort.”
   “What about your secret mission?”
   His eyes twinkled. “Trish isn’t expecting me, so she won’t know if I'm late.”
   The corners of Alison’s mouth twitched and she turned from Ian’s hopeful smile toward the entrance of the station. She couldn’t see the telegram office from where she stood, but it was there, looming before her like a scolding parent. Missing the train had been foolish, but spending the rest of the afternoon with Ian was sheer stupidity. He was a soldier on the eve of war. That was reason enough to guard against any romantic entanglements.
   But worse, she was a Schuyler. He couldn’t know how his warm hazel eyes affected her, how drawn she was to his confident demeanor and gallant charm. Or the sting of jealous curiosity she endured when he spoke of this other woman. Though she felt his mutual attraction, it was better that he never know that he already held her heart in his hands. The Van Schuyler fate may have destined him to linger forever within her, but she could still make her own decisions.
   She squared her shoulders and faced him.
   His smile charmed her as he offered his arm in a boyish gesture. “Shall we?”
   Alison hesitated, then tucked her hand within the crook of his elbow. “I should exchange my ticket first.”
Johnnie Alexander, Where Treasure Hides Tyndale, © 2013. Used by permission.