National bestselling author Marta Perry captures the spirit of Christmas in this first novel of her all new series set in the quaint Amish community of Promise Glen.
After ten years spent keeping house and raising her younger siblings, Sarah Yoder returns home to Promise Glen determined to make a fresh start. Her new job with neighbor Noah Raber's furniture business seems promising—until she and the woodworker clash over everything from the best way to reach new costumers to how to raise his mischievous six-year-old twin boys.
Though Sarah longs for a home of her own, she fights the appeal of this ready-made family, resolved to maintain a professional distance. But when she and Noah both agree to help with the school's annual Christmas program, Sarah finds her heart touched by the motherless boys and Noah's quiet strength. Thrown together at work and at the school, their feelings continue to grow, and Sarah struggles to keep Noah at arms' length.
Loving Noah may seem impossible, but with faith, love, and a little help from their close-knit community, there may yet be a Christmas home for them both.
About the Author
Marta Perry is the author of more than fifty inspirational romance novels, including the Promise Glen series, Pleasant Valley series and the Keepers of the Promise trilogy.
Read an Excerpt
The buggy drew to a stop near the farmhouse porch, and Sarah Yoder climbed down slowly, her eyes on the scene before her. Here it was-the fulfillment of the dream she'd had for the past ten years. Home.
Her cousin, Eli Miller, paused in lifting her cases down from the buggy. "Everything all right?"
Sarah sucked in a breath and felt the tension that had ridden her for weeks ease. It hadn't been easy to break away from the life her father had mapped out for her, but she'd done it. The old frame farmhouse spread itself in the spot where it had stood since the first Amish settlers came over the mountains from Lancaster County and saw the place they considered their promised land. Promise Glen, that was what folks called it, this green valley tucked between sheltering ridges in central Pennsylvania. And that's what she hoped it would be for her.
The porch door thudded, and Grossmammi rushed out. Her hair was a little whiter than the last time Sarah had seen her, but her blue eyes were still bright and her skin as soft as a girl's. For an instant the thought of her mother pierced Sarah's heart. Mammi had looked like her own mother. If she'd lived . . . but she'd been gone ten years now. Sarah had been just eighteen when she'd taken charge of the family.
Before she could lose herself in regret, Grossmammi had reached her, and her grandmother's strong arms encircled her. The warmth of her hug chased every other thought away, and Sarah clung to her the way she had as a child, when Grossmammi had represented everything that was firm and secure in her life.
Her grandmother drew back finally, her blue eyes bright with tears. She took refuge in scolding, as she did when emotions threatened to overcome her.
"Ach, we've been waiting and waiting. I told Eli he should leave earlier. Did he keep you waiting there at the bus stop?"
Eli grinned, winking at Sarah. "Ask Cousin Sarah. I was there when she stepped off the bus."
And she'd seen him pull up just in time, but she wouldn't give him away. "That's right. I was wonderful surprised to see my little cousin-he grew, ain't so?"
"Taller than you now, Sarah, though that's not saying much." He indicated her five feet and a bit with a line in the air, his expression as impudent as it had been when he was a child.
"And you've not changed much, except in inches," she retorted, long since used to holding her own with younger siblings and cousins. "Same freckles, same smile, same sassiness."
"Ach, help!" He threw up his hands as if to protect himself. "Here's my sweet Ruthie coming. She'll save me from my cousin."
Ruthie, his wife of three years, came heavily down the back porch stairs, looking younger than her twenty-three years. She looked from him to Sarah, as if to make sure Sarah wasn't offended. "You are talking nonsense." She swatted at him playfully. "Komm, carry those things to the grossdaadi haus for Sarah. Supper is almost ready."
"Sarah, this is Ruthie, you'll have figured out," Grossmammi said. "And here is their little Mary." The child who slipped out onto the porch looked about two, with huge blue eyes and soft wispy brown hair that curled, unruly, around her face.
And Ruthie couldn't have more than a month to go before the arrival of the new baby, Sarah could see, assessing her with a shrewd eye. When even the shapeless Amish dress didn't conceal the bump, a woman knew it wasn't far off.
Eli loaded himself up with Sarah's boxes, obviously intent on getting everything in one trip. "Surrounded by women, that's what I am," he said cheerfully. "And now there's another one."
He stopped long enough to give Sarah a one-armed hug, poking her in the side with one of her boxes as he did. "We're wonderful glad you're here at last, Cousin Sarah."
Sarah blinked back an errant tear. Eli hadn't lost his tender heart, that was certain-sure. And Grossmammi looked as if she'd just been given the gift of a lifetime. As for Ruthie . . . well, she had a sense that Ruthie was withholding judgment for the moment. That was hardly surprising. She'd want to know what changes this strange cousin was going to make in their lives.
As little as possible, Sarah mentally assured her. All she wanted was a place to call home while she figured out what her new life was going to be.
Eli, finally laden with all her belongings, headed toward the grossdaadi haus, a wing built onto the main house and connected by a short hallway. Grossmammi had lived there since Grossdaadi's death, and when Sarah walked into the living room and saw the familiar rocking chairs and the framed family tree on the wall, she felt instantly at home.
"You're up here, Sarah." Eli bumped his way up the stairs until Sarah retrieved one of the boxes and carried it herself.
He flashed her that familiar grin. "What do you have in there? Rocks?"
"Books. I couldn't leave those behind. I just hope there's a bookcase I can use."
"If there isn't, we can pick one up at a sale. The auction house is still busy, even this late in the year. Almost December already."
"Grossdaadi used to say that any farmer worth the name had all his work done by the first of December."
"Ach, don't go comparing me to Grossdaadi," he said with mock fear. "Here we are. I hope you like it." He stacked everything at the foot of the old-fashioned sleigh bed. "Ruthie says supper is about ready, so komm eat. You can unpack later."
She'd rather have a few minutes to catch her breath and explore her new home, but Ruthie was her hostess. It wouldn't do to be late for their first supper together. With a pause in the hall bathroom to wash her hands, she hurried downstairs and joined Grossmammi to step the few feet across the hallway-the line that marked off their home from Eli and Ruthie's.
The hall led into the kitchen of the old farmhouse. Ruthie hurried them to their places at the table and began to dish up the food. Sarah glanced at her, opened her mouth to offer help, and caught Grossmammi's eye. Her grandmother shook her head, ever so slightly.
So something else lay behind the welcome she'd received. Best if she were quiet until she knew what it was.
This was a little disconcerting. She'd dreamed for so long of being here, but those dreams hadn't included the possibility that someone might not want her.
Nonsense. Ruthie seemed shy, and probably she was anxious about this first meal she'd cooked for Sarah. The best course for Sarah was to keep quiet and blend in.
But once the silent prayer was over and everyone had been served pot roast with all the trimmings, it wasn't so easy to stay silent, since Eli seemed determined to hear everything about everything.
"So what was it like out in Idaho? I didn't even know there were any Amish there." Eli helped himself to a mound of mashed potatoes.
"Not many," she admitted. "It was a new settlement." She didn't bother to add that anything new was appealing to Daad-either they understood her father already, or they didn't need to know. "Ruthie, this pot roast is delicious. Denke." The beef was melt-in-your-mouth tender, the gravy rich and brown.
Ruthie's face relaxed in a smile, and she nodded in acknowledgment of the praise. "And your brothers and sister?" she modestly moved on. "How are they?"
"All married and settled now." They'd wisely given up finding a home with Daad and created homes of their own. "Nancy's husband is a farrier in Indiana, and the two boys are farming-Thomas in Ohio and David in Iowa."
"Far apart," Grossmammi murmured, and Sarah wondered what she was thinking. To say it was unusual to have an Amish family so widespread was putting it mildly.
"They all invited me to come to them," she said quickly, lest anyone think that the siblings she had raised were not grateful. "But I thought it was best for me to make a life of my own. I'm going to get a job."
Eli dropped his fork in surprise. "A job? You don't want to be working for strangers."
She had to smile at his offended expression. "Yah, a job. Some work I can do in order to pay my own way."
That wasn't all of it, of course. Her desire went deeper than that. She'd spent the past ten years raising her brothers and sister, and it had been a labor of love. What would have happened to all of them after Mammi died if she hadn't?
But that time had convinced her of what she didn't want. She didn't want to become the old maid that most large families had-the unmarried sister who hadn't anything of her own and spent her life helping to raise other people's children, tending to the elderly, and doing any other tasks that came along. She wanted a life of her own. That wasn't selfish, was it?
Even as she thought it, Eli was arguing. "You're family. You'll do lots of things to pay your own way. You can help Ruthie with looking after the kinder, and there's the garden, and the canning . . ."
He went on talking, but Sarah had stopped listening, because she'd caught an apprehensive expression on Ruthie's face. This, then, was what Ruthie was afraid of. She feared Sarah had come to take over-to run her house, to raise her babies . . .
Ruthie actually did have cause to be concerned, she supposed. She'd been in complete charge of the home for the past ten years, through almost as many moves and fresh starts. It wouldn't be easy to keep herself from jumping in-with the best will in the world, she might not be able to restrain herself unless she had something else to occupy her.
"I'll be happy to help Ruthie anytime she wants me," she said, using the firm voice that always made her younger siblings take notice. "But I need something else to keep me busy."
"And I know what," Grossmammi said, in a tone that suggested the discussion was over. "Noah Raber needs someone to keep the books and take care of the billing for his furniture business. I've already spoken to him about it." She turned to Sarah. "You can go over there tomorrow and set it up."
Sarah managed to keep her jaw from dropping, but barely. She'd intended to look for a job, but she hadn't expected to find herself being pushed into one as soon as she arrived.
"But . . . bookkeeping? I don't know if I can . . ."
"Nonsense," Grossmammi said briskly. "You took those bookkeeping classes a couple of years ago, didn't you?"
She nodded. She had done that, with the hope of finding something outside the home to do. But then Daad had gotten the idea of moving on again, and she had given it up. Did she really remember enough to take this on?
"Mostly Noah needs someone to handle the business side," Grossmammi went on. "The man loves to work with wood, but he has no idea how to send a bill. That's where you come in."
"But Noah Raber." Eli looked troubled. "Are you sure that's a gut idea? Noah's situation . . ."
"Noah's situation is that he needs to hire someone. Why shouldn't it be Sarah?" She got up quickly. "Now, I think we should do the supper cleanup so Sarah can go and unpack."
Grossmammi, as usual, had the last word. None of her children or grandchildren would dare to argue when she used that tone.
Carrying her dishes to the sink, Sarah tried to figure out how she felt about this turn of events. She certain-sure didn't want to continue being in a place where she was only valued because she could take care of children.
But this job . . . what if she tried it and failed? What if she'd forgotten everything she'd once known? Noah Raber might feel she'd been foisted on him.
And what was it about his situation that so troubled Eli? She tried to remember Noah, but her school years memories had slipped away with all the changes in her life since then. He was a couple of years older than she was, and she had a vague picture of someone reserved, someone who had pursued his own interests instead of joining with the usual rumspringa foolishness. Was he interested in offering her the job, or had Grossmammi pushed him into it?
But she'd already made her decision in coming here-coming home. She shivered a little as a cold breeze snaked its way around the window over the sink and touched her face. There was no turning back now.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A sweet Christmas romance My rating is 4.5 stars I truly can’t help it. Honestly, I didn’t try very hard. I completely fell in love with Mark! You don’t need to re-read the synopsis, you didn’t miss anything there. The hero’s name really is Noah. And there isn’t another guy in the picture for Sarah. Unless you count Matty and Mark, Noah’s adorable sons. Matthew is cute with his “boy-sterous” energy and outgoing personality but Mark is the one who captured my heart. Took it for ransom and won’t give it back. This sensitive, shy child with his openhearted trust in Sarah. Talk about a heart-melting sweetness! Each time he leaned against Sarah, taking comfort in her kindness and understanding. . . I was surprised to find out the reason for Noah’s boys not having a mother. It was a complication that I hadn’t expected. I don’t believe in giving spoilers so I’ll just say that it was a doozy! I really appreciated Sarah’s take-charge-but-don’t-bulldoze-over-everyone attitude. Her heart was tender and kind, which is why she was so determined to help. Noah had been deeply hurt and didn’t feel he had anyone to share his burdens. He struggled with anger as a result of the suppressed grief. Yet he knew how to love deeply and was an amazing father to the twins. Read my review of A Christmas Home by Marta Perry at AmongTheReads.net I was given a copy of this book. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Sarah and Noah’s story was a wonderful tale of two people struggling with the restrictions placed upon them by their religious community and family needs in A Christmas Home by Marta Perry, book one in The Promise Glen series. After the death of her mother, Sarah Yoder spent ten years keeping house and raising her younger siblings, following the wanderlust of their father. When she returns home to Promise Glen she is ready to make a life of her own. Sarah’s new job is with her neighbor, Noah Raber’s furniture business. Noah is the single father of six-year old twin boys. His young wife ran away, abandoning their family, looking for an adventure. There is no divorce in the Amish community, so Noah is married, but not; single, but not; at loose ends. He needs Sarah’s assistance in organizing his business but acts resentful. The two clash over everything from the arrangement of the work space, how to reach new costumers, or how to raise his mischievous twin boys. Despite longing for her own home, Sarah is conflicted with her feelings toward this ready-made family and especially Noah. When these two are forced to work together on the Christmas pageant, their feelings grow; forcing them to avoid being alone. Sarah knows that loving Noah will not end with a happy ending, but with faith, love, some help from their close-knit community, and maybe some Christmas magic, there might yet be a Christmas home for them both. I felt sympathetic toward Sarah and Noah as both were in difficult spots. Noah was not a free man, able to pursue his interest in Sarah. As these two worked together, Noah recognized the strengths, kindness, and problem-solving skills that Sarah possessed; traits which made her perfect for him and his sons. Sarah wanted to be loved. Maybe more than that, needed to be loved and appreciated for who she was. Ms. Perry wrote a sweet love story that is not to be missed. She provided a tale rich with emotions, attraction, chemistry, wonderful dialogue, and endearing characters in an interesting Amish community, all helping Sarah and Noah find a way to their own Christmas home. I highly recommend A Christmas Home to other readers and look forward to future books in this series. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
The author gives us a young Amish woman who had to grow up early when her mother died and her younger siblings need her. She also had Dad with wanderlust, and was never able to stay in one place very long. Now she was home, at least where she began and is living with her Grandmother. Add a struggling Amish man with twin motherless boys, and trying to run a business, and you could see where this story was going, but alas not all is at it first appears, and thus the story. While I could figure out the end of this book, the author kept my attention and I found the read enjoyable. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Berkley, and was not required to give a positive review.
A Christmas Home by Marta Perry is the first book in The Promise Glen Series. I always enjoy reading books from Marta Perry who has a charming writing style and relatable characters. Sarah Yoder lost her mother when she was eighteen. She has three younger siblings which meant she had to take charge of the household and raise them as well as taking care of her father. Sarah’s three siblings are now happily married and settled so she can have a life for herself. She has chosen not to join her father on his latest move. Sarah has returned home to Promise Glen, Pennsylvania to live in the grossdaadi haus with her grandmother, Etta Miller. She obtains a bookkeeping position with Noah Raber and helps to promote his furniture business. Sarah tries to resist falling for Noah and his busy twin boys because Noah is married. His wife left when the kids were babies and divorce is not an option for Amish. Can you imagine being stuck in a marriage for the rest of your life after your spouse has deserted you? I liked the characters in A Christmas Home from the insightful Etta Miller to Noah’s active twin boys, Mark and Matthew. There is a wonderful community with thoughtful, caring people as well as those who gossip. The book is well-written with steady pacing. The author’s depictions allowed me to visualize the settings and the characters. I could feel the character’s emotions in this heartwarming Christmas story. I like Christmas stories because it is a time of year when people are in better spirits and it seems that anything can happen during this magical season. The phrase I wanted to share from A Christmas Home is “You can always trust God to take care of the details.” There are recipes at the end of the book along with Amish Christmas customs. A Christmas Home is a touching tale with busy boys, furniture making fundamentals, scheming friends, bookkeeping bedlam, and family Christmas traditions.