The tranquil little
town of Willow Ridge is facing a startling challenge. Wealthy Nora Glick
Landwehr is determined to make it her home again—and put her past to rest. Cast
out by her own family, Nora can’t reconcile with Old Amish ways or her strict
father. But she’ll do anything to help her community embrace the future . . .
and make amends to the daughter she had to give up. She certainly has no time
for her reckless new neighbor Luke Hooley. They disagree about almost
everything. And how can she trust him if he always seems to believe the worst
about her? Somehow, though, his unexpected support and passionate heart are
helping her find her own way in faith. And Nora will discover that even in the
face of insidious lies and unyielding judgment, God creates unexpected chances
for forgiveness—and love.
The moving van hadn’t yet arrived, so Nora pulled
back onto the county highway where she’d begun her trip down memory lane. While
everyone in town was at Annie Mae and Adam’s wedding, she had the perfect
chance to revisit her childhood home. To prepare herself for the ordeal she
would soon face.
She pulled into the lane and parked behind the
house, somewhat surprised to see the surrounding pastureland planted in tall
corn that shimmered in the breeze. Knowing it wouldn’t be locked, Nora slipped
into the back door. The kitchen appeared smaller and shabbier than she
recalled, as though it hadn’t seen fresh paint since she’d left. How odd to
stand in this hub of the house and not detect even a whiff of breakfast.
Nora moved on before she lost her nerve. She felt
like an intruder—and she wanted to be long gone before anyone came home from
the wedding. She peeked into the small downstairs room where she and her mother
had sewn the family’s clothes on an ancient treadle machine—
Nora gaped. On a twin bed lay a motionless female
form, like a corpse laid out in a casket. Is this what Hiram had meant by
implying her parents were barely alive? Did she dare approach, or would this
woman pop up like a zombie from an old horror movie and leer at her with
hollowed eyes and a toothless grin? Nora wanted to bolt, yet she felt compelled
to look this woman—surely her mother—in the face. If Mamma was so far gone, why
wasn’t someone sitting with her? Or was she merely napping, too tired to attend
the wedding? The way Nora had it figured, her mother was in her early seventies
now—several years younger than her dat. Why did she look so far gone?
Holding her breath, Nora slipped to the bedside.
The room felt stuffy in the July heat, yet a faded quilt covered her mother’s
shriveled form up to her chin. A kapp concealed all but the front of her white
hair, so all Nora saw was a pallid face etched with wrinkles. The eyes were
closed, and again Nora felt she was observing a stranger in a casket rather
than looking at her own mother. Last time she’d been here, Mamma’s face had
been contorted with indignation as disgust hardened her piercing hazel eyes—
And suddenly those eyes were focused on her.
Nora froze. Not a muscle moved in her mother’s face
yet Mamma’s gaze didn’t waver—until her eyes widened with recognition. Or was
it disbelief, or fear?
Nora didn’t stick around to figure that out.
Hurrying from the airless room and through the kitchen, Nora burst through the
back door. She couldn’t gulp air fast enough as she climbed into her car and
sped down the lane. She felt as though she’d stared Death in the face and Death
had stared right back.
A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR:
I Develop Plots and Characters
Developing plot and characters remains a mysterious process
to me, even after I’ve sold more than forty books. EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST, and the
entire Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series, involved a
new-to-me plotting process, however, because the editor who invited me to write
it wanted to be in on the story/series development from the get-go. She and I
spent some phone time brainstorming the overall concept of this series, and how
Abby Lambright would anchor it in the first book, ABBY FINDS HER CALLNG, as
well as discussing various story elements we thought belonged in an Amish
series. We did a lot of planning while I wrote the series proposal, before she
even offered me a contract, so we both knew what we were getting into—and we
were both excited about the series premise and the continuing characters I had
I greatly respect her editorial
expertise, and she respects my hands-on research, my professionalism, and my
willingness to consider revisions and re-visioning as these books evolve. I had
to develop some Amish humility as I took this project on, however, because
while I was accustomed to having my editors tell me what my titles would be
(rarely have my working titles made it onto the cover of a book) it’s been a
new experience to work so closely with an editor. Once ABBY was written and
then extensively REwritten, however, I was even more pleased with it than I was
about the original version.
When we got to the third book, AMANDA
WEDS A GOOD MAN, my editor suggested a “Brady bunch” concept about two widowed
folks with kids combining their families. This meant I had to create a whole
new family, and between them Amanda and Wyman had eight kids—throw in Amanda’s nephew Jerome and
her mother-in-law from her first marriage, and you have enough characters that
I nearly needed a score card to keep track of everyone. These folks, of course,
interact with my already-established Cedar Creek characters, and because Jerome
falls for Emma Graber at first glance, EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST brings the series
around full-circle to its close.
AUTHOR Bio and
upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west
of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Charlotte Hubbard writes of simpler
times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Seasons of the Heart series. Like her
heroine, Miriam Lantz Hooley, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to
feed people. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of
her lifestyle. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member,
and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew.
Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.
the Heart, Book 5
Zebra (February 24, 2015)
ISBN-13: 9781420133097 •• ISBN-10: 1420133098 The book is available at the following locations.
• The Book Depository •• Amazon •• Barnes & Noble •
• B-A-M •• Chapters •• IndieBound •• Powell’s •• Kensington Books •
Ebook: • Kensington Books •• Kindle •• Kobo •• iBooks •