Housed in a rustic red barn, the Simple Gifts crafts shop celebrates the talents of the Amish of Willow Ridge--and the faith that inspires them. For the acceptance of simplicity opens the path to love.
As far as Edith Riehl is concerned, the baby twins thrust suddenly into her arms are a heaven-sent gift. Unable to conceive, she longs to be a mother with a home of her own. She's going to abide by her promise to handsome Asa Detweiler to take care of them while he looks for their real father. And even if her domineering dat Cornelius refuses to countenance Asa's suit, she can only pray the bachelor's honesty and persistence will uncover the truth--even as he's kindled an impossible hope for a love of her own . . .
Asa can't understand why anyone would think he would be so dishonorable as to father babies and then abandon them. He's determined to clear his name--but Edith's caring ways also inspire him to help heal her wounded spirit and earn her trust. In the face of heartbreaking deception, he and Edith must find the strength to understand, forgive . . . and claim their own hearts' joy.
Praise for Charlotte Hubbard's Seasons of the Heart series
"Another great book centered around the Sweet Seasons Café." --RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
"These very special books will sit proudly on my keeper shelf!" --Romance Reviews Today
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A Simple Vow
By Charlotte Hubbard
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Charlotte Hubbard
All rights reserved.
Edith Riehl stepped out onto the front porch of her new home, bubbling with anticipation. On this beautiful spring morning everyone in Willow Ridge would be attending the wedding of Ira Hooley and Millie Glick, over at the big house on the hill where Nora and Luke Hooley — mother of the bride and brother of the groom — lived. Horse-drawn buggies were already pulling up the driveway and behind the Hooleys' home as guests arrived, and Edith was excited that she and her two sisters would be among them. Loretta and Rosalyn agreed that helping serve the wedding dinner after the ceremony would be a wonderful way to get better acquainted with folks in their new neighborhood.
As Edith gazed out over the pasture where Bishop Tom Hostetler's dairy cows grazed, beyond the homes and small farms that formed the patchwork of Willow Ridge, her sisters' voices drifted through the windows. They were trying one last time to convince their father to stay for the wedding meal after the service, but weddings hadn't been Dat's cup of tea since Mamm had passed on. He would attend the service only because he was serving as the district's deacon now that his cousin Reuben, the former deacon, had moved back to Roseville to help his widowed mother.
When she heard loud crying, Edith walked to the other end of the porch, wondering where the baby was and why it was fussing. She spotted an enclosed buggy on the side of the road, and behind it two men in Plain clothing and black straw hats were having an agitated conversation.
Don't they realize how they're upsetting that poor wee one? Edith wondered as she hurried down the porch steps. And where's its mother?
As she approached the buggy, the men's raised voices became disturbingly clearer.
"What was I supposed to think when I got a phone message from a total stranger, accusing me of — of impregnating his wife?" the taller fellow demanded tersely. He was standing in front of a saddled black horse, gripping its reins.
"And how do you think I felt when your name was the last thing Molly uttered before she died?" the other man shot back. "'Tell Asa I'll always love him.' Do you know how those words tore my world to shreds?"
Edith's eyes widened. Clearly this conversation was none of her business, yet the crying baby compelled her to walk faster. Perhaps she could suggest that these two men speak with Bishop Tom about their troubling situation — although he was probably already at the Hooley home, preparing for the church service that would precede the wedding.
"I'm telling you I've never so much as met your wife, let alone —"
"Shut up! This explains why Molly got so big so fast, and why the twins came two months early!" the man with his back to Edith lashed out. "Not only have I lost my wife to cancer, but I've learned that my marriage of thirteen months was a lie!"
Twins? And their mother's name was Molly — and she died of cancer? Edith's thoughts whirled as she stepped up through the buggy's open door. Two little babies wiggled in towel-lined half-bushel gardening baskets on the backseat as their wails filled the vehicle.
"Oh, look at you," Edith murmured. "Shhh ... it'll be all right now." She gently scooped the nearest baby, who wore a crocheted yellow cap, into the crook of one arm before lifting its white-capped twin to her other shoulder. It seemed these wee ones had no mother and a very distraught father, and they'd been born into a confusing, distressing situation.
As the men's discussion escalated, Edith stepped carefully down from the buggy. One fellow's voice sounded familiar. She didn't want to believe the scenario he'd been describing, but right now her main concern was for the babies.
"Would you please lower your voices?" she insisted as she came around the rig. "You've upset these little angels so badly that — Will Gingerich? Are these your twins?"
"Edith! Thank God I've found you." The handsome young man to whom her sister Loretta had once been engaged removed his hat to rake his sandy brown hair with his fingers. "Jah, I believed they were mine until Molly named this — this other dog as their father —"
"I'm trying to get to the bottom of that story," the taller man protested, "but —"
"Stop it, both of you!" Edith insisted in a low voice. "These babies are wet and hungry and upset. Your problems will have to wait until we've taken care of more important matters."
Both men stared at Edith as though she were crazy, and maybe she was. What had possessed her to stick her nose into this business, which sounded more dubious by the moment? She had never seen the taller man with the black hair and riveting eyes, and the last she'd heard of Will Gingerich, he'd married another young woman rather quickly after Dat had called off the engagement between him and Loretta. Edith thought her family had left this heartache behind when they'd moved away from Roseville to start fresh in Willow Ridge, but it seemed a brand new batch of problems had popped up like dandelions after they'd left.
"I've come to ask you — your family — a huge favor," Will pleaded. He looked pale, and his eyes had dark circles around them. "I — I have no idea how I'm going to care for these kids, what with Molly dying. They're only six months old, Edith. I was hoping you and your sisters would take them until I can get my life together and —"
Edith's eyes widened. "Is there no one in Molly's family, or —"
"That's just it," Will continued in a desperate tone. "Molly's mamm and grandmother were there at her deathbed when she blurted out this guy's name —"
"She was no doubt delirious and unaware of what she was saying," Edith murmured.
"— and then when Molly passed on, her grandmother had a heart attack from all the stress and went to the hospital," Will went on doggedly. "Molly's mother isn't speaking to me now. I've had a lot of stuff thrown at me these past several weeks, what with my wife's being too sick to tend the babies. I trust you Riehl sisters to care for the twins until I get through Molly's funeral and then figure out, well — what to do with them. Please, Edith?"
It was indeed a huge favor Will was asking, but how could she refuse? The babies had almost stopped crying. Edith gazed at their precious faces as she swayed from side to side, calming them. By the sound of Will's incredibly sad story, these helpless little souls might not have anyone looking after them — for how long? "Of course we'll take them," she murmured, "but we don't have any diapers or bottles or —"
"I brought all that stuff. I was looking for your house when this guy" — Will glowered, pointing at the other man — "caught up to me and claimed I'd accused him falsely."
The stranger looked ready to protest again, but instead he crossed his arms and clenched his jaw. Behind him, his tall black horse nickered impatiently.
"We live in that two-story white house down the road. The one with the dogwoods on either side of the porch," Edith said, nodding in that direction.
"Hop in. I'll give you a ride."
Before Edith could reply, Will jogged around the buggy and stepped up into the rig. As she followed him, she realized just how scattered his thoughts must be, because there was no hopping in when she was holding a baby in each arm. Gazing into the backseat, Edith was about to ask for Will's help when a strong arm curled around hers.
"Let me hold them. I'll hand them up after you get in."
Edith looked up into the stranger's face. He had the deepest blue eyes she'd ever seen — as dark as the navy-blue reeds she wove into her baskets. When she realized her arm was tingling as she gawked at him, Edith looked away. "Sorry," she murmured.
"I'm not," he whispered. He released her and stepped back to allow a more proper distance between them.
Edith had known Will Gingerich for most of her life, so she felt a bit traitorous appreciating help from the man who'd supposedly had relations with Molly before she'd married Will. The man calmly took one baby and then the other, however, smiling at her as she climbed into the buggy. As Edith situated each of the twins in a basket, she felt his gaze on her — and she felt sorry that the babies had to ride in such ugly, unsuitable carriers.
The rig lurched, and Will drove them down the road without closing the door. "I'm sorry to spring this on you girls," he said with a sigh. "Sorry about — well, I just never saw any of this coming."
"I can't imagine," Edith murmured.
"I hope you'll understand if I'd rather not see Loretta — or your dat," he added quickly.
Edith smiled sadly. Her sister and Will had been sweethearts all through school, and their broken engagement was still a sore subject. "It's probably best that way, jah."
He halted the horse at the end of their lane. When Edith grabbed the basket handles and started for the porch, Will followed her with a large cardboard box. "You're a godsend, Edith — an angel — and I can't thank you enough," he murmured. "I'll come back as soon as I can, after Molly's funeral."
She nodded mutely, wondering how on earth she would explain to her family about the monumental responsibility she'd just taken on. "So, what are the babies' names? Are they boys or girls or —"
"One of each. Leroy and Louisa." Will kept his eyes on Edith, as though he couldn't bear to look at the children he apparently hadn't fathered. "They were born October tenth, so they'll be six months old tomorrow, and — well, you probably think I'm already a total failure as a father. Give Loretta my best."
As Edith walked to the end of the porch to watch Will's rig roll down the road, she sighed. She'd put on her best purple dress to attend the wedding, and now she'd accepted two babies and a box filled with whatever Will had tossed into it. What were you thinking? What sort of mess have you gotten yourself into? How long will it be before Will comes back — and what if he doesn't?
Edith's whirling thoughts were interrupted by the tattoo of boots on the porch steps. She turned to find the raven-haired stranger studying her intently. He removed his straw hat.
"My name's Asa Detweiler, and I live in Clifford — south of Roseville about twelve miles," he said in a low voice. He ducked slightly so that his eyes were level with hers, mere inches away. "I swear to you that I never met Will's wife — never saw him before today, when his phone message accused me of fathering these twins, so I tracked him down. Can you believe that, Edith?"
She blinked. Asa Detweiler told a compelling story and had the voice and eyes to back it up. But what did she know about any of the stories she'd heard this morning?
Asa smiled wryly. "I admire a woman who doesn't blurt out the first thing that comes to mind — and who has put the needs of these two babies first," he added. "I promise you I'll get to the bottom of this situation, and I'll be back. Promise me that you'll mother these kids — and that you'll hear me out when I return, all right?"
Edith couldn't help gazing into his eyes, as dark blue and mysterious as midnight. Even as she nodded, she sensed that Asa's request, and her unspoken affirmation — such a simple vow — would change her life in ways she couldn't possibly predict.
* * *
As Asa mounted his horse and headed down the road, his thoughts whirled like a tornado's funnel cloud. When he'd first heard the phone message accusing him of fathering twins on some young woman named Molly, he'd found the situation outrageous — but now that he'd met Will Gingerich and heard more of the story, he was even more upset. And confused.
He could understand why Will was acting half crazy, because dealing with cancer and grief did that to a man. But how had Will gotten his phone number? If Will's wife had spoken only a first name, what if she'd declared her love for a different man altogether? The whole situation seemed bizarre, and Asa sensed that he could mull it over all the way home and still not have any answers by the time he reached Clifford.
On instinct Asa turned and saw that Edith Riehl was still standing on her porch, watching him. When he waved, she waved back before stooping to pick up the two babies in their baskets. Now that young woman was a saint, taking responsibility for twins on the promise that Will Gingerich would return for them. Asa wasn't a betting man, but he figured the odds were about fifty-fifty that Will would come back — and about nil that he'd try to raise the babies on his own. Parenting would be a daunting task for a man alone even under more normal circumstances, and even with help from Molly's family.
Asa shook his head as he imagined the trials and tribulations of tending two helpless babies. But Edith will handle it. She's a cando sort of woman whose heart and priorities are in the right place.
"Let's go, Midnight," he murmured, urging his gelding into an easy canter as they reached the curve where the road left town. His ride home would be much more enjoyable if he thought about Edith Riehl ... imagined her waiting for him on the porch of a tidy house as his work day came to an end....
Asa heard rapid hoofbeats coming up behind him, but he was awash in his pleasant thoughts — and he never dreamed a buggy driver would race past him so fast on the narrow road that Midnight would spook and lose his footing in the gravel. Asa cried out as a small rock struck his forehead. He had the sensation of flying through the air — leaving the saddle —
And then he hit the ground and felt nothing at all.CHAPTER 2
Nora Hooley couldn't stop smiling as her friends and family members filed out of the house after the wedding. It had given her special joy to see the home she and Luke shared filled with guests — some of whom had come all the way from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the wedding of her daughter Millie to Luke's younger brother Ira. On this sunny April day with the dogwood and redbud trees in full bloom and cheerful red and yellow tulips brightening the yards in Willow Ridge, her heart swelled with love and fulfillment. God had blessed her beyond her wildest dreams when He'd guided her to this little town and her new life with Luke.
"Pinch me, Mamma! This day's surely a dream," Millie exclaimed as she grabbed Nora in a hug. "I'm so happy, I might just pop!"
Nora chuckled as she wiped away tears of joy. "That's the way it's supposed to be on your wedding day, sweetie —"
"And it's Ira's job to keep that smile on your face for years to come," Luke chimed in as he came to stand beside Nora. He clapped his younger brother on the back. "It's a tall order, but I think you're finally man enough to carry through with it. We wish you both all the best."
With a happy sigh, Nora gazed at her seventeen-year-old daughter. The teal fabric she'd chosen for her wedding dress complemented her ginger hair and sweet, freckled face, and her apron and kapp were a pristine white. As Ira stood beside her in his black trousers and vest with a new white shirt, which Millie had made for him, he was the picture of earnest Amish masculinity. Nora had once doubted Ira's intentions — he'd been nearly twenty-nine before he'd joined the Old Order church — but now she believed he was the perfect mate for her Millie. As his wedding gift, Ira had built a new home on the land behind the Hooley brothers' mill. The entire Hooley family had chipped in, so the house was already paid for, but Ira had covered more than half of its expense himself — an investment a younger, less established man couldn't have afforded.
"You'd best head to the Grill N Skillet so you can greet your guests," Nora suggested. "After a long morning of church and your ceremony, everyone's ready to devour the food Josiah and Savilla have cooked up."
"Denki for providing our wedding meal — and for your idea to have it in the café," Ira said. "I got so hungry from the aroma of grilled meats coming through the windows, I almost couldn't stay through the entire wedding!"
Nora chuckled. "You'd probably have had hot dogs and peanut-butter sandwiches for your meal if I had done the cooking," she teased.
Excerpted from A Simple Vow by Charlotte Hubbard. Copyright © 2016 Charlotte Hubbard. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book. It was a good read.
I have never really thought about the Amish having the same trials and problems of life that Englishers have.. I found twists and turns in this story I hadn't before associated with the Amish life.. Such interesting characters! Betrayal starts such a chain of events. You could feel all the swinging emotions and yes, understand the actions of some of the main characters that were sometimes acts of desperation!! I thought the author did an excellent job of keeping me turning the pages. And the ending!! A total surprise she kept all the way to the end.. I was gifted a copy for review.
I have not read many of Charlotte Hubbard's books but the ones that I have I have enjoyed immensely. She has a way of writing that makes me relax and enjoy the story. A Simple Vow really had me turning the page and riveted to what was happening next. I will say the end of the book had such a major twist that I had to read it twice. Wow!! Edith Riehl and her family recently moved to Willow Ridge. They and their father are starting a new chapter in their lives. When baby twins are suddenly thrust into her life, she sees this as a sign from God. But will she be able to fulfill the role as their mother? Will she have to give her dreams? Asa Detweiler has no idea why someone would accuse him of something so dishonest. Determined to clear his name, Asa is drawn to Edith's kind gentleness. He is determined to gain her trust and possibly her love. My only concern with this book is that I feel one must read her other Willow Ridge Series, Seasons of the Heart, in order to keep all of her characters in this book straight. I plan to begin the series so that I may learn about these fascinating characters in Willow Ridge. I received a copy through Netgalley in exchange for my review.
A Simple Vow by Charlotte Hubbard is the first book in a Simple Gifts series. In Willow Ridge the town is getting ready for the wedding of Ira Hooley and Millie Glick. Edith Riehl steps out onto the front porch and hears people arguing. Then she hears babies crying. She goes to investigate and finds two babies. Edith immediately picks them up and soothes them. Will Gingerich was bringing the babies to the Riehl’s to see if they could take care of them for him. His wife, Molly recently died from cancer leaving behind the six month old twins. On her deathbed she said the name Asa. Will found out that Molly was pregnant when she married him, but not by him. Will is at his wit’s end and needs assistance while he takes care of funeral arrangements. Edith happily takes in the twins without consulting her father. Edith loves children, but Edith is unable to have her own kids (thanks to an infection from a burst appendix when she was a teenager). Will was arguing with Asa Detweiler. He is accusing Asa of getting his Molly in the family way. Asa has never heard of Molly and denies the accusation. Asa promises Edith to get to the bottom of the situation. Asa is immediately drawn to Edith and does not want anything to stand in his way of courting her. Who is the father of the twins? Edith will have to contend with her penny pinching father who has not been in the best of moods since his wife passed away. Also, Edith feels that someone is watching her. Is she imagining it or is someone out there lurking? Will things work out between Asa and Edith? You will have to read A Simple Vow to find out. In A Simple Vow we get to revisit the town of Willow Ridge and the people who live there. It is a warm and welcoming town that is different from other Amish towns. Many women own and run businesses and the bishop is more open than most. There is a great twist that readers may or may not see coming (I figured out but then I read many mystery novels). A Simple Vow is well-written and pleasurable to read (it’s a nice change of pace). It contains good messages (moral lessons) on forgiveness, Christian love, and lending a helping hand (Christian charity). A Simple Vow has a sweet ending. If you have not read the books prior to A Simple Vow, it can get confusing. This is the first book in a new series, but it is based on characters from a previous series of books (Seasons of the Heart). I give A Simple Vow 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). I will definitely be reading more books in the Simple Gifts series (and any other books by Charlotte Hubbard). I received a complimentary copy of A Simple Vow from NetGalley in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.
All I can say is WOW. I have read a lot Of Charlotte's books but I would have to say this may be my favorite. I'm glad this is the first in the series as I can't wait to see what happen's next. I was glad to see some of the people from Willow Ridge are in the book,plus some new one's,Edith is great along with Asa. I can usually figure out the plot before I get to the part,however when Edith rescue's the twin baby's from a buggy where 2 men are arguing about who's the father Who's the father well you have to wait till close to the end to find out and you won't believe it when it come's out at a wedding. This book will keep you guessing. Great book Charlotte Hubbard
I am so happy that the author has brought back to Willow Ridge, and back with old and beloved friends. While this book focus is on the Riehl family, recent arrivals to this Amish town, and with three marriageable aged daughters, my hope is we will be back again, and I really want to know what “Dat” is up to? This is the youngest daughter’s story, Edith, and her chance meeting with Asa Detweiler, who comes from another Amish community. It seems once he sets eyes on Edith he is about to move heaven and earth to be with her, and tries to convince his brother, with whom he is in a furniture refinishing business with, to move to the progressive Willow Ridge. Asa is convinced that he needs Edith, and that his business is about to flourish if the brother’s move. There is also a precious set of twins, Louisa and Leroy, who are turned over to the Riehl family, and Edith embraces as her own. Wait until you find out who is accused of being the father of these adorable babies. Of course life cannot run smooth all the time, and this book will not leave you disappointed with the jaw dropping things that are about to happen. A book not to be missed, and looking forward to the next one! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Zebra, and was not required to give a positive review.