Amanda Lambright and Wyman Brubaker are getting married. After four years as a single mother, Amanda is looking forward to having the support of a good man and thrilled at her chance for happiness. But as soon as Amanda's family moves into Wyman's home, it's plain to see it won't be easy blending their families.
The older siblings are quarreling, the young ones are in tears, and the newlyweds have no privacy. It doesn't help that Wyman has kept the house the same as when his first wife, Viola, was living. His daughter, Vera, isn't keen on changing her mother's house either. Then there's problems with the bishop, who is adamant Amanda discontinue making her pottery that gave her great solace after her first husband's death.
Can Amanda find the wisdom to guide her blended family toward the love that will bind them together?
One Big Happy Family is a subseries of King's Home at Cedar Creek series. As with all Amish fiction I've read, a sense of community plays a huge role in this book, despite the focus of the story being on one couple.
Amanda Weds a Good Man is another fabulous, heartwarming story from King. Though readers of the Home at Cedar Creek series will find many familiar faces in this novel, the main focus is on the challenges Amanda and Wyman face in blending their families. While staying true to the genre, King allows her characters to be pushed to the edge. And though I had faith that all would be resolved by the end, there were moments when I wondered how it was going to happen.
In addition to Amanda and Wyman's story, readers are treated to watching James Graber and Abby Lambright's courting days unfold, catching up with Matt and Rosemary Lambright, and witnessing the potential of a romance for Emma Graber.
The ending, while more than satisfactory, lends itself to another book in the series. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Series: One Big Happy Family (Book 1)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (November 5, 2013)
I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.
In October, Penny over at Penny's Tales ran a Christmas in October event. Yours truly was a huge winner of numerous books and prizes. I'll be sharing photos of what I won over the next several days so you can check these books out, too.
Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life.
But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position.
Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms.
Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society in this exciting tale.
In Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, 12-year-old Guinevere finds herself having to make the decision of a lifetime: Will she choose wisely?
ARIA: Alien Retrograde Infectious Amnesia
Today, Jack caught a bug at work. He catches a bus home. By the time he disembarks in the desert town of Rosamond, all the other passengers and the driver have fuzzy heads. Jack had caught an amnesia bug, and it’s infectious.
Imagine the ramifications:
The passengers arrive home, infecting family; some shop en route infecting everyone they meet. The bus driver receives more passengers giving them change for last week’s prices and today’s amnesia. Some passengers work at the power plant, the water treatment works, the hospital, fire station. All shut down in weeks.
One man, Ryder Nape, realizes what’s going on, but can he persuade friends to barricade themselves in a secluded valley, hiding from the amnesia bug?
Anela Alborn’s life is a lie. After growing up without the love of a father, her mother reveals his identity. Tragedy strikes and she sets off on an adventure that leads to more than she could ever imagine. Bumping into Christian Sivers distracts her from the real man of her dreams, her father. Will he live up to her dreams? And does she follow in her mother’s footsteps?
The Pleasure of Memory is the first volume of three in the Blood Caeyl Memories fantasy series. Told in a contemporary tongue, it is set in a period of mixed eras, where swords, crossbows, and cannons are the weapons of the times, though the setting has more in common with the lawless frontier locales of the American Old West than medieval times.
Beam is a thief, rogue, and murderer who takes his gold wherever the path of least resistance offers it. Orphaned in childhood, his extended family abandoned him as a young boy, hitching him to a horse post at the steps of a rundown priory in Parhron City. He is discovered at dawn by Brother Dael, an elderly monk who is Prelate for the Priory of Saynfyl, a priory dedicated to the care of the insane. Dael finds Beam tethered to the horse hitch out front, and takes him in without question, and raises him as his own.
Years later, when Beam reaches the age of sixteen, he inherits his deceased mother’s estate. Along with a generous quantity of gold coins, he receives some of her personal property, including an elaborate puzzle box of olden design. Confounded in his efforts to open the box, he eventually tucks it away.
Years later, long after his mother’s money has run its course, he searches through his belongings in search of something to hock. Among his things, he rediscovers the box. He instinctively makes another attempt to unravel the secrets to opening the complicated panels. This time, the box simply falls apart in his hands. Inside, he finds an ancient map. The map eventually leads him to a cemetery the size of a small city tucked away deep in the southern scrubs.
The cemetery resides on the reservation lands of the Vaemyn, a savage race who sport tiny horns beneath their ears that allow them to “hear” images emitted generated by the vibrations of living creatures. Due to their ability to track their prey by listening to the earth, they are extremely difficult to evade.
Beam spends the next two years prowling through the cemetery, evading the savages by day and picking his way through their dead by night. As he searches, he finds trinkets of gold and jewels sent with the dead to the afterlife. Eventually, he discovers a secret chamber leading to a maze hidden beneath one of the crypts. There, he finds a brilliant crystal the size of a small apple. The blood-red gem seems to have a fire at its center, and is carved in the image of a sensuous, lidded eye. Believing he has found the treasure his mother’s map sent him after, he flees north to through the lawless Nolands and back to civilization with the Vaemyn in pursuit. He believes this gem will bring him the riches that will afford him the life of leisure and lavish indulgence he so richly deserves.
What Beam doesn’t know is that this crystal is actually a Blood Caeyl. This was the most dominant of all the stones of power, with influence over the forces of life itself, and one believed to have long ago vanished from the world. In time, the caeyl begins to alter him, gradually awakening the memories of a thousand lifetimes and changing him into a new man, and even a new life form.
His metamorphosis arrives just at the beginning of the end of times. A Fire Caeyl mage has created a rift to the Wyr, and has summoned an army of Wyrlaerds, Divinic Demons with an instinctual desire to rule all mortal life, and the ability to possess the flesh of living souls. The changes Beam endures lead him to the edge of his mortality, to the portal between the corporeal world he was born to and a labyrinth of memories spanning thousands of years and endless lifetimes. There he learns that his birth was never by chance, but rather part of an elaborate plan to end the threat of the Wyr for all time.
The Evolution of the Blood Caeyl Memories
by Welcome Cole
The Pleasure of Memory was born from a dare. Or perhaps challenge is the better description. Years back, I was discussing the art of writing with a dear friend, a fellow devotee and author of fantastic fiction. We were discussing the evolution of The Story. The conversation was something akin to a literary version of the creation versus evolution debate. Did the best stories evolve through careful structuring of the plot and characters prior to the actual writing, similar to God’s Seven Day Plan? Or did they grow organically from the kernel of a planted idea, flowing initially as a kind of free association that gradually evolves into a life form?
I clearly favored the latter.
To prove his point, my friend then initiated the challenge. He provided me with an opening sentence, and double dog dared me to grow it into a story. The opening line he graciously delivered to me was “It’s a good day to be you,” written as a quote. Looking at that seed, I was pretty certain it wasn’t an acorn that could grow a mighty oak. I figured I’d be fortunate if it grew a milkweed.
After several fruitless months of writing, wadding, trashing, writing, wadding, and trashing, I decided to take a more scholarly tack. I cheated. I took a concept I’d been playing in my head for about a year, but hadn’t yet started on, and I placed the dare sentence at the beginning of it. Now, in all fairness to myself, I have to say that I still wrote this story organically from a simple premise and without benefit of a storyboard, but while starting from a different seed. However, in using his second dare seed, the concept of my original premise was dramatically changed. You might say this story arose from genetically modified stock.
Three books later, the project has evolved into a complex story of good versus evil, of a man forced outside the comfort zone of his own greed and self-importance, of the allies he unwittingly finds among his enemies, of his metamorphosis into the human and, ultimately, god he was destined to be.
Welcome Cole is a writer of fantasy, contemporary novels, and urban fiction. He spends his time in the lakes and forests of Traverse City, Michigan and in the desert and mountains of Castle Rock, Colorado. He has degrees in Nursing and Business Administration, and writes at every opportunity. His book, The Pleasure of Memory, will be followed up shortly with his contemporary fiction novel, Henry’s Re-entry. The second volume of the Blood Caeyl Memories, The Shadows of Memory, will be released in early 2014.
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
This week I'm sharing the Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR. Most of these are determined by my review schedule, but that should be winding down as I back off of virtual book tours and review requests and start working my way through the books I already have in my office.
I'm reviewing this book right before Christmas. I'm always interested in ways I can earn money from my writing.
This book's focus is The Great Commission given to Jesus for us to make disciples over all the earth. Thy Will Be Done is a Christian living title that shows us how to apply our faith to daily living.
Closet Words is a unique devotional by Kim Hilton. It includes copies of handwritten journal pages, which makes it more relatable and personal. The book also includes a Reflections and Study Guide.
Here's the synopsis of this one: On the night of April 14th 1865 President Abraham Lincoln attended a performance at The Ford Theatre, in Washington. A single shot fired by John Wilkes Booth hit the President in the back of the head. He slumped to the floor, and died a few hours later without regaining consciousness. Was Booth a lone assassin? Or was he part of a wider conspiracy? A plot hatched by his own generals to replace Lincoln with General Ulysses S. Grant.
As you know, I love Civil War novels, so I'm looking forward to reviewing this one on January 18th.
Books on entrepreneurism often inspire me. I'm hoping this one will too.
Combine one of my favorite authors with a fascinating president during a time period I am extremely interested in and you know I plan to read that book.
I've enjoyed Frankel's books about Katniss Everdeen and The Hunger Games books, so I requested to read Buffy and the Heroine's Journey. I was a fan of the show when it first aired and also enjoyed its spin-off, Angel.
I never thought I would ever say this, but I would love to lose a few pounds. More than that, however, I want to get back into shape. I requested this book from the Amazon VINE program. We'll see what it's all about.
I picked up a copy of Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean for only $4.99 from Christianbook.com . I'm hoping to squeeze it in one of these weekends.
This book is written by one of our local school teachers. We met up at a writers conference and I purchased a copy there. I plan to review it as soon as I have the time.
As you can see, my reading is fairly eclectic. There's not a lot I won't read, but I definitely have my favorite genres.
What are you looking forward to reading this winter?
Carlyle Clark was raised in Poway, a city just north of San Diego, but is now a proud Chicagolander working in the field of Corporate Security and writing crime and fantasy fiction. He has flailed ineffectually at performing the writer's requisite myriad of random jobs: pizza deliverer, curb address painter, sweatshop laborer, day laborer, night laborer, security guard, campus police, Gallup pollster, medical courier, vehicle procurer, and signature-for-petitions-getter. He is a married man with two cats and a dog. He is also a martial arts enthusiast and a CrossFit endurer who enjoys fishing, sports, movies, TV series with continuing storylines, and of course, reading. Most inconsequentially, he holds the unrecognized distinction of being one of the few people in the world who have been paid to watch concrete dry in the dark. Tragically, that is a true statement. Visit his website at http://carlyleclark.wordpress.com/.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Why is this question always so hard? You’d think in this age of infinite selfies and endless facebook updates I would have mastered the ability to blather on about myself, but I still haven’t got it. So I’ll make it quick for the both of us. Shockingly, I love to read, and I also love anything with excellent storytelling, as well as sports and CrossFit. I have bachelors in criminal justice and I work in corporate security management as well as writing. Saving the best for last, I’m a married fella with two cats and a dog.
When did you begin writing?
I began about ten years ago. I took creative writing class and the teacher would read a story from each student without identifying the student first. That meant I was able to secretly study readers', or in this case listeners', reaction to my story. To my great delight, they clearly enjoyed it, laughed at the funny parts and everything. (That story is called "He’s Faster," and it’s actually a prequel to my novel and can be found for free following the links below.) It took me a few years after that to figure out that waiting for inspiration to write was getting me nowhere, so I began making time.
What is this book about?
The Black Song Inside is about private investigators Rosemary Sanchez and Atticus Wynn being blackmailed by Atticus’s ex into unraveling the mysterious murder of her boyfriend. As the investigation delves deeper, the PIs are confronted by an ever increasing array of violent criminals, the most frightening of which being a messianic mercenary called The Priest, and the most emotionally troubling to deal with being Rosemary’s own gangsta brother, Johnny, and his crew.
What inspired you to write it?
I had read so many PI novels that it felt natural to write one. However, I didn’t want to write something that was exactly like what was already on the market. I definitely wanted protagonists you can root for and I wanted them to be competent, but I also wanted them to be, well, messed up. That’s why Rosemary is missing a leg and struggling with PTSD from being an Iraq war veteran and why Atticus is well, a little off, as some put it. And, what really got me excited was creating a frightening character like The Priest and working through his disturbing mental processes. Once I had my characters, they provided my inspiration by demanding their stories be told.
Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?
No, I don’t have an agent. At this point I’m not looking for one, and am instead using an intellectual properties lawyer to review my contracts. I may seek out an agent for my next project and I may not. It’s a new age with Indie publishing taking off where you no longer MUST have an agent to get anywhere. Now you have to really think about what you’re trying to do and whether you need an agent to accomplish it. It’s a much more liberating time to be an author than ever before.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
For this novel it’s hard to tell in that the goal wasn’t traditional publication because I didn’t have an agent, and thus, had no way to approach the one publisher I was interested in. Then, after I self-published, they contacted me out of the blue and from then on it was fast and smooth and phenomenal. I guess I’d have to say it went from brick wall to smooth sailing.
Currently, my wife and I are co-writing a fantasy novel called Red Destiny. It’s a rejuvenating departure from crime fiction and we should have it completed before the year is out. Then we’ll begin work on the sequel to The Black Song Inside.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes, thank you for hosting me and for everyone for taking time to read this. Take care!
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE.
Pump Up Your Book & Carlyle Clark are giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card!
By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the Accelerate Your Power Grand Prize.
This giveaway begins December 2 and ends February 28.
Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, March 3, 2013.
It’s 1968. The winds of change are descending on Fairmont and engulfing the small South Carolina town in a tornadic frenzy. The public schools are finally being completely integrated. Mossy Springs High School is closing and its black students are now attending formerly all-white Fairmont High; the town is rife with racial tension. Several black youths have been arrested for tossing firebombs at a handful of stores. White citizens form a private academy for the purpose of keeping their kids out of the integrated school system. The Ku Klux Klan is growing.
Reese Knighton arrives on the scene at precisely the right time. The principal of Fairmont High School, Claude Lowell, becomes superintendent of the school district. Lowell chooses Preston Shipley, currently the football coach, to replace him as principal and hires Knighton to coach the team, thus forcing Knighton to find common ground with Willie Spurgeon, the successful Mossy Springs coach who has been passed over for a job he richly deserves.
At The Intangibles’center is the Hoskins family, their relationships to those living within the town of Fairmont giving rise to a memorable cast of characters. Tommy Hoskins is a local businessman and farmer who is a supporter of the team, on which his older son, Frankie, plays. Frankie’s best friend is Raymond Simpson, who lives in a shanty on the Hoskins’ farm. Another of Frankie’s friends, Ned Whitesides, is a spoiled bigot. Clarence “Click” Clowney is the talented, rebellious quarterback from Mossy Springs. Al Martin is the staunch black tackle who becomes the glue that keeps the integrated team together. Twins James and Joey Leverette are the sons of professors at local Oconee College. Curly Mayhew coaches rival Lexington Central. Laura Hedison is a white cheerleader. Jorge Heredia is a tennis player at the college who sells drugs on the side. Aubrey Roper is a college girl who exerts a corruptive influence on Frankie Hoskins. The county sheriff, a turncoat within the team, Ned Whitesides’ father, the loyal assistants, militants both black and white, a doctor, a lawyer, local businessmen, and others all add fuel to the fires of prejudice and fear of the unknown that are raging in the town of Fairmont.
This is a story of a high school football team that puts aside its differences, never realizing that, outside its bounds, the world is unraveling. It’s a story about the cultural changes, good and bad, that take place when two societies shift and finally come together.
Ultimately, The Intangibles is a story of triumph achieved at considerable cost.
Mossy Springs High School was on the west edge of town, bordered on one side by a few acres of forest and a small stream. On the other side, across the street, was a bowling alley and roller rink.
“That place give you any problems?” Knighton asked.
“Oh, it has its pluses and its minuses,” Spurgeon replied. “When we notice somebody laying out of class, we got a pretty good idea where we can round him up. You find a few bad influences hanging around the place, ‘specially at night. I reckon the woods out back is just as bad. At lunchtime, students sneak out there to smoke. They’s a creek in there. One time I found a six-pack of beer tied around a root in the bank, just laying in the creek getting’ cold. I told the principal about it – I believe it was Mr. Tom Lindsay back then – and he went down there and hid till somebody come and got it. Damned if it wasn’t two of my ballplayers.”
Knighton smiled. “There’s some things you wish you didn’t know, huh?”
“Mr. Lindsay suspended them boys for two games. Me, I’d whole lot rather take the punishment out of ‘em in laps and wind sprints.”
They left the school through a back gate at the end of the woods. The football field was to the left, old and rusted. Some of the planks were warped on the visitors’ side.
Spurgeon drove Knighton’s truck through a neighborhood of old wooden houses and cinder-block apartments. Tiny black kids on hand-me-down tricycles recognized Spurgeon and waved at him. Adults craned their necks and squinted their eyes, trying to see who the white man on the passenger side of the unfamiliar vehicle was. Willie Spurgeon was not the kind of man to own a pickup and looked out of place driving one, especially with that Sunday-go-to-meeting suit on. On a concrete basketball court, a gang of teenagers was playing in street clothes. The pickup pulled off the edge of the road.
“That’s Clarence Clowney,” said Spurgeon, pointing to a tall, light-skinned kid. “He could be the best we ever had.”
“They call him Click, don’t they?”
“Why, yes. How’d you know that?”
“I watched the team play one night.” Knighton paused, letting the sentence soak in. “Mr. Lowell had just called me about the job, so I drove up here one night and sat in my truck on that bank behind the end zone. You were playing Sturkey. I wanted to find out as much about the situation as I could. I wasn’t busy. You know, our team at Central didn’t make the white playoffs this year.”
Monte Dutton lives in Clinton, South Carolina. In high school, he played football for a state championship team, then attended Furman University, Greenville, S.C., graduating in 1980, B.A., cum laude, political science/history. He spent 20 years (1993-2012)wriing about NASCAR for several publications. He was named Writer of the Year by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association (Frank Blunk Award) in 2003 and Writer of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association (George Cunningham Award) in 2008. His NASCAR writing was syndicated by King Feature Syndicate in the form of a weekly page, "NASCAR This Week" for 17 years. Monte Dutton is also the author of Pride of Clinton, a history of high school football in his hometown, 1986; At Speed, 2000 (Potomac Books); Rebel with a Cause: A Season with NASCAR's Tony Stewart, 2001 (Potomac Books); Jeff Gordon: The Racer, 2001 (Thomas Nelson); Postcards from Pit Road, 2003 (Potomac Books); Haul A** and Turn Left, 2005 (Warner Books), True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, 2006. (Bison Books); and is an Editor/Contributor of Taking Stock: Life in NASCAR's Fast Lane, 2004 (Potomac Books). The Audacity of Dope, 2011 (Neverland Publishing) was his first novel, and Neverland recently published his second, The Intangibles. Another, Crazy by Natural Causes, is in the works.
Katie Detweiler grew up Amish, never knowing she was adopted as an infant. Now an adult, her new job as cook at an Amish bed and breakfast doesn’t bring about the euphoria she hoped for. Just as she’s getting her menu perfected, the Englisch family and severely ill sister she never knew existed enter her life and strain her Amish relationships. Plus, Katie suddenly has two different men vying for her attention—one Amish, one Englisch—and she wonders if one of them could be the man of her dreams. But when her Englisch sister’s health worsens, Katie must find a way to balance her heart, her job, and her faith while risking her own life for the sister she never knew.
He’s hiding from a cold-blooded killer; her Amish identity has been stripped away. Both must find a way to balance their hearts, their jobs, and their faith
“Today I met the man I’m going to marry.” Patsy Swartz’s singsongy voice was too chipper.
Katie Detweiler climbed out of Daed’s buggy and turned to lift the cooler from the back as her not-exactly-a-friend bounced up to her side. Katie braced herself to spend time with bubbly Patsy.
Her heart ached with a stab of envy.
Would she ever marry?
Daed snorted, in apparent disbelief. “Bye, Katie-girl. Have fun at the frolic.” He clicked at the horse, and pulled around the circle drive.
“The new bu in town,” Patsy squealed as if Katie had actually asked who. “He is sooooo cute! And I’m going to marry him. I’m thinking Valentine’s Day. Will you stand up with me? I’m asking Mandy, too.”
Marriage? The new bu in town? Why was she the last to know these things? Katie didn’t even know Patsy was part of a couple. Wait, she wasn’t. Just yesterday she moaned over the lack of interesting men in her life.
Katie shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. “Ach, stand up with you? Valentine’s Day? Jah, I can do that. What new bu in town?”
Patsy huffed. “Where have you been, Katie? There is a world outside that bed and breakfast, ain’t so?”
“When did you meet him? You didn’t mention him yesterday.” She adjusted her grip on the handles and started toward the haus.
“He’s visiting Micah Graber, a cousin or something. He’s here, right over… Ach, I see Mandy. I’ll tell you about him later.” She turned away and glanced over her shoulder. “You’re still standing up with me. Valentine’s Day. Write that down, Katie.”
Patsy ran across the driveway to where Mandy Hershberger stood by the open barn doors.
A Valentine’s Day wedding? Was Patsy serious? Most brides married between November to January, not February, when fields need to be prepared for planting. And wouldn’t the bishop have something to say about Patsy marrying a man she only knew for, what, half an hour?
Valentine’s Day was still a long ways off. It was only August. And Patsy probably would’ve moved on three times by then.
But he was here? This mystery man Patsy planned to wed? Katie turned around and scanned the buwe playing volleyball, looking for someone she didn’t know. She didn’t see anyone new. Or, maybe he just didn’t stand out. Patsy, getting married? If Katie knew her at all, she’d be promised to this new bu in a short time. What Patsy wanted, she usually got. Even if they did call a break several weeks into the relationship.
Katie sighed. It’d be nice if someone noticed her. And recognized her as a permanent part of his future.
She turned toward the haus to deliver the food. A long row of tables was set up inside the kitchen, already piled full. Katie set the cooler down next to the door and took out a plate of chocolate chip cookies. She walked over and put them on the table, at one end with the other desserts, then stepped back and surveyed the array of cookies and fried pies. Maybe she should’ve made something else besides cookies. But Daed wouldn’t mind if she brought the entire plateful back home.
“Hi, Katie.” Micah’s mamm came into the room. “Glad you made it. Micah’s playing volleyball, if you want to join in. His cousin Abram is visiting from Indiana.” She smiled. “I’m sure you’ll want an introduction.”
Katie wasn’t so sure, except maybe to see what was so special about this mystery man. It probably was nothing other than he hadn’t already courted Patsy, since she had gone with almost every other Amish bu in the district.
Ach, that was unkind. Katie found a smile. “Danki. I’ll find Micah.” Later. They’d probably see each other sometime. He usually made a point to say hi to her.
Katie took a step toward her cooler to get the rest of her food when the outside door burst open. She gazed into knock-‘em dead blue eyes belonging to the most handsome someone she’d never seen. She stared at the stranger, her mouth open. He shoved his fingers through his brown hair, dislodging his straw hat, and backed up.
“Micah sent me to get the coolers and the big picnic jugs.”
Lizzie Graber laughed. “Ach, they’re out on the porch. You walked right past them.”
His eyes met Katie’s again and he nodded in greeting. Her heart pounded loud enough she worried he’d hear it. “Sorry, Aenti Lizzie. Don’t know what I was thinking.” He shook his head and backed out of the room, his gaze still locked on Katie, then turned and shut the door.
Lizzie laughed again. “Those buwe are all the same. A pretty girl and they have to go check her out.”
Pretty? Lizzie believed he’d come in because he thought she was pretty? But he didn’t stay long enough to say hi. Or to ask her name. Not that it mattered. She probably would’ve been tongue-tied anyway. Katie straightened, willing her heart rate back to normal. A gut-looking bu she didn’t know. Micah’s cousin. That must be Patsy’s… whatever she’d call him. Her intended, since she said she was marrying him on Valentine’s Day. So why did it matter what he thought?
Her insides deflated like a popped balloon.
Katie studied the dessert selection again. Other than the chips in her cookies, there wasn’t any chocolate in sight—unless some of the fried pies were filled with the delicious comfort.
Abram Hilty shut the door behind him, and took a deep breath. His heart raced. He hadn’t even talked to her, didn’t know the sound of her voice, but something—his heart, maybe—seemed to recognize her. Strange. Especially since…
Micah hoisted a cooler in his arms, while Abram lifted one of the big yellow picnic jugs. “She’s pretty, jah?” Micah glanced sideways at him and walked down the steps.
“Very.” Abram nodded as he fell in beside him. “And you can’t get her to pay attention to you?”
Micah shook his head. “Nein. Not at all. But her best friend, Janna Kauffman, told me Katie’s really shy. Maybe I’ll ask to give her a buggy ride home tonight. Her daed dropped her off.”
Abram chuckled. “You do that. I’ll ask her out, too, and tell her how wonderbaar you are. Perhaps between the two of us we’ll get her talking.” Besides, that’d give him the opportunity to spend time with her.
“You’d do that for me?” Micah’s eyes widened.
“That, and I’m currently between girls.” Abram winked. “I told Marianna I want a break.” Sort of. He did owe her some sort of an explanation for his silence. After all, they were practically engaged, and he’d essentially stood her up.
Of course, he hadn’t revealed where he’d gone. Instead, he’d left a note. Need some time off. Sorry.
In hindsight, ouch. But she’d been hounding him to make a commitment, leaving hints he couldn’t help but get. He supposed he could do worse… Instead, he’d fled. He needed to think. And with her bringing him lunch every day, staying to eat, and getting into his buggy after every singing and frolic without him even asking as she tried to get back on his gut side after he caught her with…
He shook his head. Really, what other choice did he have?
“What if she falls in liebe with you, not me?” Micah’s brow creased as his eyebrows drew together. “I mean, talking me up is kind of cliché…” He snickered. “And usually works in reverse.”
Abram shrugged. He wouldn’t complain if it did. “How can she possibly not fall in liebe with you? With me singing your praises.” Of course, he’d try hard not to sing his own. Not that he had much to sing about. He frowned. How long before he was found out?
Abram set the picnic jug down on a table where some paper cups were set. Micah put the cooler on the ground next to it and straightened. “I’ll go say hi to her then, while you get the other picnic jug.”
“Works for me.” Abram reached for a cup and pressed the spigot to get a bit of tea from the jug.
“Hi, Abram,” a female cooed.
Abram cringed. Not another pushy female. He looked up at a girl with bright red hair. He had seen her earlier that day, but they hadn’t spoken. She beamed at him. The girl standing next to her had reddish-brown hair. He preferred Katie’s dark blond hair.
“Welkum to Missouri. I’m Patsy Swartz and this is my best friend, Mandy Hershberger.”
He found a smile. “Hi. Nice to meet you. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get the other—”
Micah punched his arm. “I’ll get it, after I say hi to Katie. You stay here and talk.”
“Jah. Danki, cousin.” He hoped the girls didn’t pick up on the sarcasm. “But I’ll get the cooler myself.”
Lizzie slid a pan of brownies into the oven and opened the refrigerator. She took out a can of 7-Up, popped it open and poured some into a glass.
“I need to mix up the taco salad I brought.” Katie headed for the other end of the table, and moved some things aside to make room for her salad bowl.
“That’s fine. When the brownies are done, take them out, please. My dochter, Emily, is sick.” Lizzie left the room.
Katie looked around. Maybe she could find some other way to assist. Helping would keep her from socializing. Or from standing next to the barn, ignored.
At this point of her life, she was part of the scenery, the part no one looked at. Patsy said it was because Katie was too quiet, that she wouldn’t cross the room to talk to anyone; she made them come talk to her. And buwe didn’t. They had enough girls willing to chase them that they didn’t need to pursue the quiet ones.
If that was the case, she’d be alone forever. The thought hurt.
But Janna said that if a bu really liked her, she’d know. Because he’d be hanging around. She should know, because ‘Troy’ Troyer hung around with Janna, and even started baptism classes.
The handsome face of Abram flashed in her mind. His heart-stopping grin. His easy confidence.
Nein. She wouldn’t think of this. Of him. It meant nothing. He was promised to Patsy.
Katie lifted the salad bowl out of her cooler, then a big bag of Fritos. She hadn’t mixed the chips in with the rest of the ingredients because she didn’t want them to get soggy by the time she arrived.
Katie set the bowl down on the table and tugged on the top of the Frito bag to open it. A warm breath tickled her ear. Abram? Her heart jumped, and her hands jerked in opposite directions, ripping the bag and sending Fritos high in the air. A few landed where they were supposed to—in the taco salad—but most decorated the floor, the egg salad sandwiches Patsy always brought, and the other food around her.
The latch clicked on the door and the hinges squeaked. A chatter of voices neared and feet tromped on the porch. Katie’s face burned. She turned around, the almost empty bag clasped in her hands.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Micah said. He stood too close. Why couldn’t it have been Abram breathing in her ear? Though, the end result would’ve been the same.
Katie struggled to not run from the room. It seemed everyone had come in to see this humiliation. Abram stood next to Mandy and a dozen or so other people, his gaze on her. Everyone looked at her.
“I was hoping you’d be here,” Micah continued.
Someone wanted her to come? Someone of the male species? Katie’s eyes widened.
Patsy came over to the table and picked Fritos off her sandwiches. She kicked Katie hard on the ankle and she found her voice. “Ouch! Ach, I scare easy. It’s okay, really.” She had spoken to a bu. Would miracles never cease?
Patsy shook her head, as though not impressed at this conversation thing. If only Patsy would step in and answer the questions for her and maybe ask a few of him, but with another head shake, she walked off, dumped the Fritos in the trash, and joined the group of females around Abram. His harem.
Katie frowned. She didn’t want to compete with so many for a small possibility of a relationship with a man. Maybe it’d be better to find someone steady who paid attention to only her. She glanced at Micah. He stared at her as if she’d sprouted antlers. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted.
“Janna told me you’re shy. She told me not to give up on you. I’d like to get to know you better. Are you seeing someone?” He lowered his voice. “Maybe I could give you a ride home. We could stop for a milkshake.”
Katie glanced at the table laden with the usual lovely assortment of cookies and fried pies. Brownies baked in the oven. A milkshake? Was he kidding? Who in their right mind would offer a milkshake as incentive with all these treats?
He hadn’t given her a chance to answer the courting question before he asked her out. Maybe he figured that as tongue-tied as she was, someone actually courting her would be impossible.
Still, Katie didn’t know how to answer his questions. Would one-on-one be easier? Daed would say “jah” and encourage her to accept Micah’s offer of a ride home. She swallowed. “A milkshake sounds gut.”
He grinned. “Then I’ll look for you afterwards. Sorry about your chips. I hope I didn’t ruin your—” He glanced at the bowl. “Salad.” He turned away to talk to Natalie Wagler. At least she could carry on her side of the conversation.
Katie frowned. Were there books available for this disorder? She needed to check at the library. Basic Communication with the Opposite Sex?
A buggy ride with a man who wasn’t Daed. She sighed and glanced toward Abram. His attention seemed focused on Patsy. Her hand rested on his upper arm. Katie swallowed and turned away. Micah wasn’t the Mr. Right of her imagination. But maybe he was the Mr. Right of her reality.
Excitement washed over her.
Her very first date.
She smiled. Maybe her life was about to change.
Title: Awakened Love
Genre: Amish Contemporary Romance
Author: Laura V. Hilton
Publisher: Whitaker House
Format: Paperback, Kindle
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Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love. Surrendered Love and Awakened Love. A nonAmish book The Appalachian Ballad Quilt will release November 2014 from Abingdon Press. She is contracted for another three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport, releasing in April 2014, September 2014, and April 2015. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites. You can find Laura at http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com or http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/.
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