by Charlotte Hubbard
GENRE: Inspirational Romance (Amish)
The rustic beauty of a country Christmas fills the Simple Gifts crafts shop, while the Amish residents of Willow Ridge pull together in uncertain times—and in the face of an unexpected homecoming.
Nora Hooley’s shop is abuzz with preparations for the holiday open house, and Rosalyn Riehl is handcrafting wreaths from evergreen boughs, pinecones, and other natural materials. The work is a welcome diversion for the only unmarried daughter of Cornelius Riehl: her gruff dat has been receiving envelopes marked Past Due, leaving dutiful Rosalyn to manage the household’s inexplicably shrinking budget. Then another distraction swaggers into Simple Gifts—blue-jeaned and leather-jacketed, with a reputation that precedes him.
Marcus Hooley hightailed it to Willow Ridge on a wing and a prayer—not that he’s the praying type. He rejected his Amish roots long ago. But behind the bad-boy attitude is a gifted horse trainer who’s counting on some bent-but-not-broken family ties to throw him a lifeline. He can’t erase his past, but a sparking attraction with strong, spirited Rosalyn holds the promise of a second chance . . . and of shedding light on shadowy secrets to build a bright tomorrow.
When Rosalyn opened the door to enter Nora Hooley’s shop, however, the merry tinkle of the bell above the door and the rich scents of bayberry and vanilla candles drove away her gloomy thoughts. It was impossible to feel grumpy as she carefully pulled her wagon between the beautiful displays of glossy walnut furniture, sets of pottery dishes, unique three-dimensional quilts, and the other lovely merchandise that had been handcrafted by Plain folks from around central Missouri.
Nora called out to her from the loft, where she was arranging an evergreen garland along the railing. “Gut morning, Rosalyn! I can’t wait to see your wreaths and hang them around the store—not that we’ll have them for long!”
Rosalyn couldn’t help smiling. What a joy it was to work for Nora, whose encouraging words and freckle-faced smile lifted her spirits. “I’ve got eight of them here,” she replied as she stopped beside the office door. “We sisters had a work frolic on Monday, so Loretta will have another rug or two and Edith will have some baskets ready to sell in time for the open house on Saturday.”
“You girls are amazing,” Nora remarked happily. She fastened the end of the greenery garland to the railing and then started downstairs, her feet tapping a happy rhythm on the wide wooden stairway. Her deep orange corduroy dress was set off with a paisley apron of earth tones, perfect for autumn and Thanksgiving. “And how’s Cornelius? Is he accepting the way you and Loretta are trading off days that you work for me?”
Rosalyn sighed. What good would it do to spoil Nora’s cheerful mood by repeating the lecture Dat had delivered at the breakfast table . . . or to mention that yesterday’s mail had brought them two more mysterious envelopes marked Past Due?
“He’s still cranky about us working for you, and I suspect that’ll never change,” she hedged. “Dat’s a man who hangs onto the past and the Old Order ways, after all.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Charlotte Hubbard is the acclaimed author of Amish romance and fiction that evokes simpler times and draws upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi. Faith and family, farming, and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle—and the foundation of all her novels. A deacon, dedicated church musician and choir member, she loves to travel, read, try new recipes, and crochet. A longtime Missourian, Charlotte now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and their border collie, Vera.
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