The Amish residents of Willow Ridge share their talents at the Simple Gifts crafts shop—and share the blessings of faith, hard work, and love with their community—even when family secrets bring unexpected challenges . . .
Making rugs for Simple Gifts has taught Loretta Riehl that an unassuming pattern can reveal surprising depth. People, too, have a way of defying first impressions. Drew Detweiler came to Willow Ridge under a cloud, but the handsome craftsman has gained the community’s respect for his upholstery skills and commitment to making amends for his mistakes. As her new brother-in-law’s twin, he’s joining the family for dinners and Sunday visits at the Riehl house, and Loretta can’t deny enjoying his attentions.
If only her dat were willing to let a little joy into his life. Cornelius Riehl grows more stern with each passing day, and Drew suspects there’s more to his moods than missing Loretta’s late mamm. Hoping to fulfill Loretta’s wish to live in a peaceful, happy home again, Drew sets out to learn the truth. It’s a journey that will bring to light painful realities—but also the chance to forge a new, honest, and loving future together…
Praise for A Simple Vow
“Charlotte Hubbard has a way of writing that draws you into the story from beginning to end.”
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Ordinarily, the shaded front porch was the coolest place to spend an August afternoon, but the sweat trickling down Loretta Riehl's back had nothing to do with Missouri's heat and humidity. Will Gingerich, her former fiancé, sat on the other end of the porch swing from her, and his back-and-forth motion was becoming so quick and jerky that she could barely guide her homemade toothbrush needle through the loose knots of the rag rug she was making.
"The biggest mistake I ever made was to let your dat end our engagement, Loretta," Will said urgently. "I should've stood my ground. I should've believed that our love was strong enough to withstand my losing the farm to my brothers."
Loretta swallowed hard, fearful of where this conversation was leading. She'd been devastated when Dat had come between her and Will a couple of years ago, but she'd accepted it as her father's will — which was second only to God's. "Who among us has ever stood up to Dat and won?" she asked in a tight voice. Her hands were trembling as she drew the strip of sage green fabric through the next rug knot with her needle. "I cried my eyes out and pleaded with him again and again, but he was convinced you weren't gut enough — that you could never provide me a home."
"He was wrong!" Will declared. "I should've insisted that you and I could live at your place — back when we were in Rosewood — the way a lot of newlyweds do until they have the money for a home of their own."
Loretta stifled a sigh. Why was Will thinking this way, when they both knew they would've been miserable living under Dat's roof after Mamm had died? Even with her sisters, Edith and Rosalyn, to encourage them, their marriage would've gotten off to a rocky start.
"And the other monumental mistake I made," Will continued fervently, "was latching on to Molly Ropp too quickly after your dat severed my relationship with you. Why didn't I realize Molly's parents were too eager to get us married?"
"How could you have known Molly was pregnant?" Loretta pointed out. "We don't like to believe that young Amish women would succumb to temptation — or keep such secrets —"
"And how was Molly supposed to know that it was Drew Detweiler who fathered her twins rather than Asa?" Will demanded. As he raked his light brown hair back with his fingers, he appeared lost in his own world, not really seeming to hear anything Loretta said. "Molly was deceived. I was deceived —"
"You paid dearly for that, Will. But that episode's behind us now — although I sense you're still mourning Molly's passing," Loretta put in quietly. She rested her hands in her lap, no longer able to concentrate on her rug. "Still, God saw to it that some gut came of your trials and tribulations, ain't so? Little Leroy and Louisa are a joy to us all. And once Drew confessed and apologized to everyone for masquerading as his brother, he became an accepted, forgiven member of our church district and the Willow Ridge business community. That's real progress, to my way of thinking."
When Loretta looked across the road, she noticed that one of the Detweiler brothers was coming out of the stable in an open buggy pulled by a tall black Percheron. Asa and Drew, identical twins, owned matching horses, so it was impossible to tell which one of them was heading down the long lane toward the road.
She held her breath. Was it her imagination, or was the driver of that buggy looking right at her?
"I — I've never forgiven myself for turning my back on the love we shared, Loretta," Will said again. He stopped the swing so suddenly that Loretta's long, loose strips of rug fabric fluttered to the porch floor. "We both knew we had a love that would have seen us through a lifetime together. I was so upset about your dat splitting us up that I didn't realize Molly was coming on to me too fast, too soon," he lamented, gazing at her with the soft brown eyes of a begging dog. "I am so sorry, Loretta."
Loretta was feeling more unsettled by the second, because Will's soul-baring was leading her down a path she no longer wanted to follow. How could she tell him she wasn't interested in rekindling their relationship? It would break his heart and depress him further while he still mourned the death of his wife and their misguided marriage.
Sighing, she chose her words carefully. "God has a reason for everything He does — every stumbling block He places in our paths —"
"But I see the world so clearly now!" Will blurted out. "I've prayed over these things night and day since Molly died and left me with her six-month-old twins. And while I never wished her ill, once she was gone I began to hope that you and I could —"
Loretta stood up, dropping her unfinished rug onto the swing between them. As the Detweiler buggy approached the road, coming toward her, she realized that Drew surely must be driving, because Asa and her sister Edith were inseparable — they went everywhere together and took the twins they'd adopted with them, in their baskets. Her pulse quickened. Drew was gazing right at her, pulling out of the Detweilers' lane and stopping the buggy on the roadside in front of her house.
"Loretta, I've got a gut steady job now, farming for Luke and Ira Hooley," Will was saying, oblivious to the buggy. "Soon I'll be planting a vineyard for them — can you imagine that? And I'll be asking the Brenneman brothers to build us a house —"
"Hey there, Miss Loretta!" Drew called out from the buggy. "I have an errand to run. Want to come along?"
For a moment, Loretta felt lower than a worm, but she couldn't allow Will to believe he could take up where they'd left off. He hadn't heard a word she'd said as she'd gently countered his suggestions. Loretta nipped her lip, glancing apologetically at the handsome young man who'd gone through such an ordeal these past several months. Without a word, she hurried down the porch steps and across the front yard toward Drew Detweiler.
Grinning, Drew dropped down from the buggy. As he clasped Loretta's hand and escorted her to the other side of his open vehicle, she wondered if he was leading her down a path riskier than Will's, and far more dangerous. A path more daring ... and passionate. When Drew placed his hands on either side of her waist, he paused before lifting her up.
Loretta's heart went wild. Drew's sapphire eyes held secrets and intentions she couldn't decipher, and he brought to mind a fox in the henhouse cornering his tasty prey. Effortlessly he lifted her into his buggy and then hopped in on the other side. "Hope I wasn't interrupting anything important," he said as he took up the lines. "If I'm not mistaken, Gingerich looks like a man come courting."
Feeling downright wicked — yet too flummoxed to look over at Will on the porch — Loretta let out the breath she'd been holding. "You saved me from a really embarrassing scene," she murmured as the buggy lurched into motion. "Once upon a time I loved Will with all my heart, but after Dat broke us up and Will latched on to Molly so fast — well, I had second thoughts about his ... sincerity. His true feelings for me. And now, well —"
Loretta faltered. The man beside her had lied to Molly about who he was when he'd gotten her in the family way, before poor deluded Will had married her. Everyone in town had officially forgiven Drew for deceiving Molly, but Drew was still a mysterious newcomer who played his cards close to his vest.
If Dat saw whom you were riding off with, he'd be even more upset than when he made you break up with Will.
It was true, yet Loretta didn't regret what she was doing. For the first time in months, she felt breathlessly alive. Anything might happen when she was with the Detweiler who had such a checkered past, and Loretta welcomed the sense of adventure that filled her.
"You and I have a lot in common, Loretta." Drew scooted so close to her that their thighs brushed with the rhythm of the buggy. "I was head over heels for Molly, the way you were for Will. I admit that it was wrong to tell her I was Asa," he went on with a shake of his head. "But she ripped my heart out and stomped on it, as though bearing my children meant nothing to her — as though she wouldn't so much as give me the time of day. She up and married Gingerich without even telling me she was pregnant. That still stinks!"
Waves of Drew's regret and hurt carried Loretta along on the tide of his emotions. She felt bad for him. His brother and Edith were now adopting Leroy and Louisa, but Drew hadn't had a chance to make good with Molly, because she'd died from cancer before he'd learned the little twins were his. Loretta admired Drew for assisting with the twins' expenses — and for agreeing that they were better off growing up with a mother and a father who had married and were able to put their welfare first.
Drew halted the wagon near the big windbreak of evergreens just down the road from the house. He turned to face her, drinking her in with his midnight gaze. "What say you and I put the past behind us, Loretta?" he whispered. "I'm betting I can make you forget all about Gingerich, and I think you're the kind of girl who can put Molly's memory to rest for me. Know what I'm saying?"
Before she could answer, Drew framed her face with his large, pleasantly calloused hands. His kiss, earnest and probing, took Loretta to a place she'd never been. She poured all of her being into making the kiss go on and on, reveling in the feel of Drew's embrace even as she felt Will watching them from her front porch. She hadn't intended to snub her former fiancé quite so brazenly ...
But Drew made her feel so daring — so free — that she wasn't sorry.
Will choked on a sob, wishing he could stop staring at Loretta. He'd loved her for so long, it nearly killed him to see the way she was responding to Detweiler's kiss ... as though she'd shared his affections many times before.
Could this be true? Has she been sneaking around with that con artist, only pretending to listen to me? The way Molly did? Am I the biggest fool on the face of the earth?
Will turned and bounded down the porch steps. He cut around behind the house, jogging alongside the Riehls' thriving vegetable garden and past the large fenced section of yard where their chickens pecked at the ground. The rooster's crow mocked him. As he picked up speed behind the Grill N Skillet Café and Zook's Market, he was nearly blinded by anger. Loretta's betrayal ranked right up there with Molly's crying out her love for another man on her deathbed — the moment he'd learned that Leroy and Louisa were not his children. Even after Molly's parents had kicked him off their farm, he hadn't felt this destitute. This desperate.
Just ahead, the big wheel of the Hooleys' gristmill slowly turned, splashing the Missouri River's surface, but the scene's beauty was lost on him. Now that Ira was married and living in the new white house behind the mill, Will was renting the bachelor apartment in the mill's upper level. Unfortunately, the stairs to his new home were inside, so he had to pass through the mill store — and when he burst through the door, Luke and his redheaded wife, Nora, were lip-locked, sharing a clinch behind the checkout counter.
Luke had the presence of mind to ease away, cradling Nora to his chest as he smiled at Will. "Oops," he teased. "Guess we should save this mushy stuff for after we get home, jah?"
Will's breath escaped him in a rush. He looked doggedly around at the shelves of bagged flour and cereals, and the refrigerator case filled with local eggs, butter, and goat cheese — anything to avoid watching yet another couple pouring their hearts into a kiss.
"Will, what's wrong?" Nora asked softly. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
Jah, the ghost of my hopes and dreams for Loretta Riehl.
Will coughed nervously. Luke was his employer more than his friend, and he hesitated to reveal too much about his love life — or lack of it. But Nora's concerned expression touched him. From what he'd heard, she had endured more than her share of rejection and upheaval when she'd moved back to Willow Ridge to be with the family who'd shunned her, so maybe she would understand. Maybe she could empathize with his degradation and shame.
"Loretta just left me for that lying cheat of a Detweiler," he spat. "That dog had the nerve to kiss her, right there on the road, knowing I'd see him at it."
Nora's mouth dropped open as she came out from behind the counter. "Will, I'm so sorry," she murmured.
"Jah, well, sorry doesn't begin to cover it for me," he blurted. "I was practically on my knees as she and I talked on her porch swing, saying I'd been wrong not to marry her back when her dat came between us —"
"Gut luck going against Cornelius," Luke muttered as he joined them.
"— but I might as well have been talking to the wall," Will continued miserably. "One look at Detweiler as he pulled his buggy across the road, and Loretta was his — hook, line, and sinker. No doubt in my mind that before the day's out, he'll ruin her reputation. Ruin her."
Luke cleared his throat. "I can understand why you feel Loretta kicked you to the curb — kicked you where it hurts most," he said, "but she's fully aware of Drew's earlier deceptions. And she's old enough to know what she's getting herself into."
"Loretta has no idea what he's capable of !" Will countered hotly. "She's led a sheltered, quiet life with her sisters, keeping the household running since their mamm's passing. Jah, Cornelius is a piece of work, but Drew Detweiler passed himself off as his twin brother with not one but two other women!"
Nora held his gaze with her tranquil hazel eyes — eyes similar to Loretta's, except that they were windows to a much wiser, more compassionate soul. "Well, he came clean after you exposed him during Edith and Asa's wedding," she pointed out. "None of us could imagine the nerve it took for Drew to feed Asa sleeping pills and then stand in as Edith's would-be husband, but Edith was the first to forgive Drew."
"Edith's a saint. Loretta —" Will looked away, hoping the Hooleys didn't see the tears in his eyes. "Loretta is sweet and loving and — and unable to comprehend the concept of such evil temptation. She doesn't stand a chance against the likes of Detweiler."
Luke gave Will's shoulder a brief squeeze. "I understand why Drew's advances have upset you — but I understand this situation from Detweiler's perspective, as well."
Will scowled, backing away. "What do you mean by that? Are you taking his side?"
Luke shook his head good-naturedly, smiling at his wife. "Before Nora caught my eye and held me accountable for my actions, I took great pleasure in running the roads with Annie Mae Knepp — the bishop's daughter," he replied. "Why was I sneaking her out of the house at night, making the tongues wag about how I, at thirty, was ruining a seventeen-year-old girl? I did it because I could — because I got a kick out of breaking the rules. And Annie Mae was rebel enough to enjoy it as much as I did."
Before Will could stop himself, he blurted, "So you — you took advantage of her? You took her because you could?"
"Absolutely not." Luke leveled his gaze at Will. "We appeared to be lovers, but appearances can be deceiving —"
"What he's not telling you," Nora put in, "is that his brother was along for most of those rides. Ira was seeing my daughter Millie — who, jah, was entirely too young to be dating a fellow nearly twelve years older than she was. But the four of them kept each other honorable, and now they're all responsible, married adults —"
"Happily married adults," Luke insisted as he slung his arm around Nora's shoulders. "What I'm saying, Will, is that maybe Drew's coming on to Loretta to irritate you. Maybe he's just rubbing your nose in it without any intention of leading Loretta astray."
"You think it wasn't enough that he got Molly pregnant?" Will demanded. "I'm saying history could repeat itself — sooner rather than later —"
"And what can you do about that?" Luke asked softly. "The more worked up you get, the more Drew will enjoy stepping out with Loretta — and the more control he'll have over your mindset. Just sayin'."
Excerpted from "A Simple Wish"
Copyright © 2017 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
Don't be fooled by the title of Charlotte Hubbard's latest book -- A Simple Wish. The wish might be simple, but the story is not. Like her other books set in real and fictional Missouri towns, Charlotte Hubbard has written another story that doesn't quite fit the cookie-cutter style of Amish romance. She has strong females lead out in situations that usually get a little -- or maybe a lot -- complicated and don't always have a resolution that would fit a stereotypical Amish community. Reading the first book in the series, A Simple Vow, is pretty much a necessity to understand a lot of the story line in this one. And if you've read Charlotte's Seasons of the Heart series, you will find several "old friends" who carry over into these stories. Amish fiction fans should enjoy this story and will be left wanting more, as there are several loose ends that will likely be tied up in the next book. As a word of caution to readers, there are a couple of off-color words used in one conversation in the story -- something a little unexpected in this type of story. Thanks to Charlotte for providing me with a copy of A Simple Wish. I was glad to share my own thoughts in this review.
A Simple Wish by Charlotte Hubbard is the second book in a Simple Gifts series. Loretta Riehl is surprised when Will Gingerich expresses his interest in courting her again. She no longer feels the same way about Will, but she has definite feelings about Drew Detweiler. Loretta is ready to spread her wings and get out from under her father’s thumb (and away from his moods). She accepts a position working at Simple Gifts craft shop owned by Nora Hooley. Nora provides a place for local crafts people to sell their goods and she provides guidance for the women in the community. Cornelius Riehl is a difficult man to live since the passing of his wife. Drew cannot help but notice that Cornelius makes numerous buying trips for clock parts. Drew is curious and sets out to get answers (maybe find out why Cornelius is so stern) with the help of the Hooley’s. He is hoping to help improve Loretta’s relationship with her father. But you know what they say about the best of intentions! A Simple Wish is well-written and pleasurable to read. It has lovely, well-constructed characters and a beautiful, caring town. I do not recommend starting with A Simple Wish (you should start with Summer of Secrets). It would be too confusing for a new reader. There are numerous characters with convoluted relationships (Simple Gifts series is a spin-off from Seasons of the Heart series). It is nice to return to Willow Ridge and catch up with these great characters. There is just the right amount of humor along with compassion, love, caring, hope, suspicion, and worry along with much more. It showcases real people with complicated relationships and life issues. My rating for A Simple Wish is 4 out of 5 stars. There is some predictability to the story (mostly with the romance). It was nice to see Rebecca find someone to care about in A Simple Wish. The story talks about forgiveness which is difficult to do as we can see in A Simple Wish. I look forward to more books in the Simple Gifts series.
How I have missed being in Willow Ridge, and Charlotte Hubbard has opened that door again, and now I don’t want to leave. This book can be read alone, there is a lot of information provided to bring you up to date, but believe me, you will want to read the past books, they are that good! We are treated to two sweet, clean romances, one with Amish Loretta, and Drew, who we met when he tried to marry her sister, um wait a minute, do we trust him? The other is Rebecca, one of the triplets and brought up English, and newcomer Wyatt, imagine his surprise seeing her dressed Amish, so sweet! There is a lot of drama here, and we see a “do as I say, not as I do” thinking going on, and when the facts start to unfold, you are going to cringe. Through it all, we see these people living their faith, forgiveness easy to say, but hard to do, and yet they prove it is possible. I loved this read, the only problem is turning the last page, and wanting to continue, I want more! I received this book through the author, and was not required to give a positive review.
Sometimes I think there are just too many characters in Charlotte Hubbard's books. I can't keep them all straight until I'm several chapters in and then I still have to stop and think about who is who. The main focus of this book is Loretta Riehl and Drew Detweiler. Both of these characters are introduced in the first book of the series, A Simple Vow. Now, I have to be really honest and say I didn't like Drew in the first book and at the beginning of this book my feelings were the same. Charlotte Hubbard did a great job with this character and the way she developed him and let him continually change and grow throughout the book. By the end of the book, my attitude towards him had completely changed. I also liked the way the Riehl sisters grew some backbone during the book and stuck up for themselves against their father who seemed a bit of a tyrant. I didn't care for Cornelius and I really don't think we are done seeing what he is all about. I'm hoping not anyway because I feel there are more secrets to be revealed where he is concerned. There is also a secondary storyline in this book concerning Rebecca, who was born Amish but then was raised English and now lives English among the Amish and is accepted by everyone. She meets and is attracted to Wyatt who buys land and is almost immediately accepted by the Amish community. I'm not quite sure that the Amish would be so completely accepting of this man and there is a big age gap between Rebecca and Wyatt. Eighteen years I believe it is and that is honestly a storyline I don't want to read. It just doesn't seem realistic to me. The storyline is interesting enough and the pace is fast enough that this was an easy read for me. The descriptions made me feel as if I were right there in the story with the characters. I am looking forward to the next book in the series to see what happens with these characters and I'm really hoping the last Riehl sister, Rosalynn, will be able to find love as her sisters have. This book will appeal to those who like Amish fiction that isn't of the "cookie cutter" variety. I would definitely read the first book before this one to really understand the characters and have a full understanding of what makes them tick. I received a free copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.
Ms. Hubbard is gifted at the ability to have multiple story lines running through her books. While A SIMPLE WISH stands alone, fans will want to read A Simple Vow and the books in her Promise Lodge series. Well, all her books, really. Loretta is struggling to find her footing after her former beau, Will, shows up all apologetic for letting her father run him off and marrying some other girl he'd been intimate with even though he wasn't the father of her twins. But then there is Drew, who is the father, but he's trying to be a better man, though Loretta sure tempts him not want to be. And then there is Loretta who wants to teach rug-making and not be her dad's stay-at-home, old-maid daughter for the rest of her life. She wants a home of her own. And a husband. And kids. Her dad on the other hand is a tyrant, determined to have his way no matter what the cost. With Loretta working in the same shop as Will, sparks are sure to fly--and not just from that direction, as Drew lives right across the road. And he's a bold one, baby, not one to go sneaking around behind Daddy's back. Fans of Amish fiction will surely fall in love with Loretta and most of the other characters in this book (because of course every story has a villain or two) and the continuing sagas of some of the other characters mentioned in the prior book. I was cheering for Loretta to fight for her dreams while wondering at her courage, considering her background. And one of the other main characters won my heart too. Grab a copy of A SIMPLE WISH of your own. You won't be able to put this book down. I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own.