A Simple Hope (Lancaster Crossroads Series #2)

A Simple Hope (Lancaster Crossroads Series #2)

by Rosalind Lauer

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345543288
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/04/2014
Series: Lancaster Crossroads Series , #2
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Rosalind Lauer is the author of A Simple Winter, A Simple Spring, A Simple Autumn, A Simple Faith, and the novella A Simple Crossroads. She grew up in a large family in Maryland and began visiting Lancaster County’s Amish community as a child. Lauer attended Wagner College in New York City and worked as an editor for Simon & Schuster and Harlequin Books. She now lives with her family in Oregon, where she writes in the shade of some towering two-hundred-year-old Douglas fir trees.

Read an Excerpt

APRIL
 
The gentle spring breeze sent cherry blossoms floating through the air, pink petals settling over Rachel and James as they walked hand in hand through the orchard.
 
Rachel King stepped away from him and held her arms out, wanting to breathe in the beauty of the petal shower. “It’s like falling snow!”
 
James Lapp planted his legs apart and tipped back his hat. A slight smile appeared as he watched her reach out to catch falling petals. “That’s the difference between us, Rachel. You see a shower of flower petals. I see early blooms that’ll wither if we get a late frost.”
 
“So practical.”
 
“That’s the good in living off the land. It keeps a man down-to-earth.”
 
“I know you’re used to this wonderful sight, working in the orchard every day, but there’s something about blossoming trees that makes the heart burst with joy.”
 
“Ya, if you don’t have to prune them.” The warmth in his dark eyes told her he was teasing.
 
“Is it a chore when you love what you do? You’ve told me yourself that your dat used to call you a tree monkey. When it was time to pick peaches, he couldn’t get you to stay on the ladder.”
 
James chuckled. “That was me.” He leaped up, grabbed on to an overhead branch, and hung there a moment before doing an easy chin-up.
 
“You’re still a tree monkey!” she said, glorying in the cascade of petals loosened by the jolt to the tree limb.
 
“Ya, but I’ve learned that a ladder is the easiest way up a tree.” With dark hair that framed his handsome face and smoky eyes that warmed for Rachel, James was solid and grounded. His steady calm was one of the things that had won Rachel over a year ago when he’d started driving her home from singings and youth gatherings. At a time when other Amish fellas were putting boom boxes in their buggies and tossing back beers, James followed a simple path, choosing baptism and the management of the Lapp family orchards. Rachel liked to picture him as the root system that anchored her to the earth.”
 
James dropped to the ground and leaned down to pick up a fallen bud. “Here’s one for you.”
 
Rachel held her breath as he came close, brushing back the edge of her prayer Kapp to tuck the pale pink bud over her left ear. His touch sent shimmers rippling down her spine even as the gesture warmed her from head to toe. Ya, he kept her feet on the ground, but he let her heart soar.
 
“There.” His dark eyes held her as his broad hands dropped to her shoulders. “You are the finest blossom in the Lapp orchard.” His arms encircled her, and she melted in his embrace. Rachel loved the way he made her feel small and delicate against his strong, solid body. His lips touched hers gently, quick as a butterfly’s glance, but she felt the spark of love in that kiss.
 
“We should go to the sugar shack,” she murmured. “Out here in the orchard … people can see. Your parents might be watching.”
 
“With these trees so thick with blossoms? I think we’re well hidden.” He caught her in his dark gaze. The flicker in his eyes let her know that he was feeling the same love that stirred her heart. Could he feel the quiet tremble of her limbs? Or the wooziness that overtook her when his lips nuzzled her jaw, leaving a trail of tingling sensation that became heated by his warm breath?
 
“Besides,” he whispered, “I don’t care if they see us. I don’t care if they know that I love you, Rachel.”
 
I love you, Rachel.
 
His words swelled and blossomed inside her, filling her heart with goodness and light. But just when they were about to kiss, the sweet moment faded, slipping away like sugar sifting between her fingers.
 
A dream … it was all a dream.
 
In the pink light of early morning, Rachel opened her eyes to blots of color that made up the large bedroom shared by the King girls.
 
All a dream.
 
Rachel closed her eyes and clung to the sweetness, holding tight to the scent of cherry blossoms and the sureness of love. James loved her! And James was strong, standing and walking and swinging from a tree, healthy and hearty as ever!
 
She tried to hold in the goodness of the dream, but reality tapped on her mind like fat raindrops. James would not be grabbing on to a tree in the orchard today, or anytime soon.
 
Before she could ease herself away, she was back in that terrible moment, hearing the sickening screech of tires on the road, the grind of metal. The accident. Although Rachel had been able to walk away from the wrecked van, James had not. He was still recovering from spinal injuries, confined to a wheelchair for now. Maybe forever.
 
“Sighing, she rolled over to see her younger sisters asleep in the double bed. Twelve-year-old Bethany’s bare foot hung out from under the quilt, and nine-year-old Molly’s sweet lips were pursed like a rosebud. Sleep was the only time Molly’s lips were still, but Rachel didn’t mind her chatterbox little sister. In fact, her sister’s gabbing was just the sort of reassuring company Rachel had sought when she gave up her room in the attic to move down here with the younger girls. Rachel had hoped to spend more time with sister Rose, too, but Rose, now sixteen, had other notions. Eager to leap into Rumspringa, Rose had missed the point of companionship and moved up to Rachel’s room, sure that a young man would soon come courting at her window. Oh, Rose, so full of dreams!
 
Still, Rachel was grateful for the chance to talk more with her other sisters, whose steady breathing in the bed across from her was reassuring. Let Rose have the room upstairs; no young man would be calling for Rachel anytime soon, not with James still unable to walk.
 
Rachel closed her eyes in the hopes of recapturing the sweet dream—reliving the time when James had moved freely and managed the family orchard without fail. With a deep breath, she tried to bring back the scent of blossoms and the warm strength of James’s arms around her.
 
But the dream was gone, and so was the James she had fallen in love with. The accident had pulled him away from her … so far away. Many things changed when a vehicle had hit the van Rachel and James had been riding in back in January. The other driver, a young Englisher girl, had been killed, and James’s uncle Tom Lapp had died later in the hospital. So much heartbreak for two families, Englisher and Amish alike. The accident had sent old Jacob Fisher into a terrible fit of breathing, but he seemed to be recovering, thank the good Lord. And James, her James had hurt his back, really bad.
 
The golden wash of light told Rachel that it would be time to start the day soon, a fine Monday morning. Time to wake her sisters and roust them from bed. There were chores to be done, a breakfast to prepare. Cows to milk, and a house and barns to redd up. All tasks that went against Rachel’s grain. But now, she would do the stinkiest chores gladly if it meant that James could get better.
 
She slid out of bed, pulled the quilt over her shoulders, and padded barefoot to the window seat Dat had built. Outside, sunshine shot over the green and purple hills in the distance. The morning air was cold, but the sun promised warmth to the day—Gott’s promise of springtime and light and hope. Rachel thought of the colors in the paint kit her Englisher friend Haley had given her and wished she had time to paint right now. How she would enjoy mixing colors to come up with spring-field green, daffodil yellow, crocus purple, and the rich blots of pink and purple and orange and red that made up a sunrise. Upstairs in her old room, among the many unfinished canvases, was a new painting she had just finished for James. It was different from her usual style, but she thought it might spark some joy in his heart.
 
And James was so very much in need of joy.

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A Simple Hope (Lancaster Crossroads Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay, so Amish romance is my secret guilty pleasure. This one was no exception. There is something extra special about this genre. I love the simple lives of the Amish, their dedication to their faith and the way they can keep themselves seperate yet part of the world around them. While many people might think that Amish and Romance don’t mix that well as genre – I beg to differ! I adore the purity of love that is bought out in these stories. Previously I had only read novels in this genre by Beverley Lewis, so was excited to find another author who writes in this distinctly niche market. While, honestly, I did find I was eternally comparing the two authors, I was very happy, in the end, with Lauer’s novel. This is not the first one in the series, but it reads quite easily as a stand alone book. There is absolutely no bog down of backstory relating to the first novel at all, nor is there any confusion as to what happened. However, I did find parts of this novel lacking. There were times when there just felt like there were time frame issues. Sometimes it seemed Shandell (the main character who is stranded in Halfway after escaping her thieving non-boyfriend, Gary) is staying only a short time in the town. Towards the end of the novel, though, you are left wondering just how long she will be stuck there, or if you are just misreading. Some of the conversations – especially at the start of the novel – appear to be quite sterile and formal. Now I know we are talking about the Amish here and their manner of speaking is certainly different to mainstream culture, but, even taking that into account, I found myself loosing interest as soon as they opened their mouths to speak. Persevere though, because the characters do loosen up in the middle and there are only a few stilted conversations after that. As for Rachel, one of the main Amish characters, I just found I didn’t connect with her at all. She appeared quite flat as a character since she was completely perfect and forgiving in every way. While this is the Amish way, surely there should be some sort of internal struggle at times? James, on the other hand was by far my favourite character! He struggled constantly with his lot in life and, as a result, the author manages to take his story and make it deliciously rich. There are times at the end when it just feels like the author is laying everything out on the table without letting the reader fully explore these ideas and come to their own conclusions. As a result, sometimes the characters have epiphanies without the reader realising there was a lead up to it beforehand. Even with this telling over showing, the author wound up the threads of this novel beautifully in the last few chapters. For all the faults I found with this novel, James and the ending wrapped it up tight for me. I am so glad I branched out and took a chance with this book! Fans of Amish novels will surely be pleased with this one. Overall, I am giving A Simple Hope by Rosalind Lauer 3 out of 5 stars. I can’t WAIT to go back and read her first novel!
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sunshineJB More than 1 year ago
Can Hope Overcome Darkness? Things look pretty bleak for James Lapp.  He is confined to a wheelchair after an automobile accident.  He feels that he is useless as a man.  All he wanted in life was to marry Rachel King and tend to his family’s orchard.  Sadly he can’t do either one. Rachel King has her heart set on being James Lapp’s wife.  James has pushed her away and refuses to talk about marriage since he is now only half a man.   What is Rachel to do?  Should she give up on James? Perhaps an Englisher running away from a bad situation might change everyone’s circumstance, even her own. I really enjoyed, A Simple Faith.  This is the first book of this series.  When I won a copy of, A Simple Charity, I knew I had to buy and read, A Simple Hope (the second book of this series)  first, so I could get the whole story straight. All the characters in this story were very real to me.  There are some very sweet endearing ones and some very bad not so endearing ones!  To take the bad ones away would make for a very boring read. I loved that trusting God was a theme in this book.  I enjoy good clean Christian fiction books.  If you do too, this series is for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago