Three generations of Stoltzfus women are all living under the same roof. At twenty-five, Naomi has never been married, and both her mother, Barbara, and her grandmother, Ruth, have recently been widowed. Each nursing broken or lonely hearts, they also each have potential suitors. When a storm on Christmas Eve forces the three couples to take shelter in the basement of the Stotlzfus homestead, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and all three potential grooms drop to their knees for very different reasons—a proposal, a prayer, and an epiphany.
The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston
Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don’t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma’s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry’s favorite wingchair. But the cat isn’t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.
Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin
As a young man enjoying his rumspringa, David Byler gave his heart to an Englisch girl, but he eventually realized he couldn’t give up his Plain faith and family for her, so he let her go. He’s found a new love in his Bee County Plain community, Molly Shrock. Molly has been patient, waiting for the man she loves to love her back. Just as he is ready to propose, David makes a startling discovery: Bobbie McGregor, his Englisch love, is back. Will Molly’s prayers for a Christmas love be answered?
Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid
When a misdirected GPS sends Ellie Whetstone to the wrong address, she inadvertently finds herself breaking into the home of Amish man, Ezra Mast. Ellie hopes to fix up the house left by her aenti and sell it quickly, but a series of run-ins with Ezra and his young daughter have her questioning whether a hasty sale is the right move. Could this new place with its slower pace be the right home for Ellie?
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, Amish Homestead, and Amish Marketplace series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at AmyClipston.com; Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks; Twitter: @AmyClipston; Instagram: @amy_clipston.
Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth, the Amish Wonders, and the Amish Mercies series. She’s a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life. Visit Ruth online at RuthReid.com; Facebook: Author-Ruth-Reid; Twitter: @AuthorRuthReid.
Kelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. The Beekeeper’s Son received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who called it a “beautifully woven masterpiece.” The two-time Carol Award finalist is a former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional. Kelly lives in Texas with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors. Visit her online at KellyIrvin.com; Instagram: kelly_irvin; Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author; Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin.
Read an Excerpt
Naomi Stoltzfus carried an arrangement of red roses as she crossed the living room. "Mammi, Mr. Cotter will be by later today to pick these up. I'm going to put them on the kitchen counter." The older Englisch man ordered flowers for his wife, Ann, on the first Monday of each month. The gesture was romantic, even by Amish standards, but such extravagance wasn't in Naomi's future. She'd seen what an emotional attachment could do to a person.
"Ya, ya. Okay." Naomi's grandmother didn't lower her binoculars as she peered out the window toward the daadi haus.
Naomi slowed her stride, stopped in the middle of the room, and studied the older woman. Ruth Stoltzfus was barely five feet tall, walked with a cane, and wore thick black-rimmed glasses. Pride and vanity were frowned upon, but both Naomi and her mother had tried numerous times to convince Ruth to get more delicate gold-rimmed frames that didn't take over her face. "Mammi, what are you looking at?"
"The renters moving into the daadi haus for the month of December. There are three men carting suitcases inside."
Naomi edged closer to the window until she was looking over her grandmother's shoulder across the snow-blanketed yard. A layer of white topped the silo like a winter cap, and the pond in between the main house and the daadi haus was partially frozen. "I thought only two people rented the haus," she said as she squinted to see the men.
"Ya. That's what your mudder said. But three men got out of the taxicab and are carrying suitcases up the porch steps." Mammi's binoculars clinked against the lenses of her glasses. "Ouch," she whispered as she lowered the binoculars, but her scowl was quickly replaced with a twinkle in her eyes. "One man looks to be about seventy, another maybe fortyish, and there's even a young lad that looks about your age."
Naomi shook her head but grinned as she walked across the wood floor to the kitchen. "That's not appropriate talk, Mammi," she said as she heard her grandmother's steps behind her.
"You sound like your mudder." Mammi slid into a chair at the kitchen table and reached for a biscuit left over from breakfast. "It fears me that the both of you will end up lonely old maids if you don't make an effort to find a husband."
Naomi was definitely of marrying age at twenty, but every time she saw the pain in her mother's eyes, it solidified her decision not to marry. "We are not in a hurry to find spouses."
"Ach, well, you should be. Almost every single fellow your age is promised for marriage, or you've already kicked the poor suitor to the curb." Mammi chewed on the biscuit. "And your mudder isn't getting any younger either. Your daed died three years ago, and that's more than enough time to grieve and remarry."
"Everyone's different, Mammi."
Naomi's grandmother began the hunt for a husband the day after they'd buried Naomi's grandfather ten years ago, even checking the obituaries in other districts so she'd know when a man lost his wife. It was a process that irritated and embarrassed Naomi's mother since Mammi didn't try to hide her ambitious courting attempts, often sharing her intentions and the results of her efforts with members of the community.
Mammi pushed her chair away from the table and walked to the rack by the kitchen door. She put on her black cape and bonnet and reached for a black scarf and her gloves. "I'm going to go welcome our guests."
Naomi's mother walked into the kitchen with an armful of folded kitchen towels. "You'll do no such thing." Mamm set the stack of towels on the table and put her hands to her hips. Naomi braced herself for the argument that was sure to come.
Barbara reminded herself that Ruth was her elder, even though most days her mother-in-law had the maturity of a teenager. "Let our guests get settled. Then we can take them a basket of baked goods and some fresh fruit." She glanced out the kitchen window. "Assuming we can make the trek to the daadi haus without sinking in snow or slipping on ice."
"It seems even colder than usual for December," Naomi said as she began putting the kitchen towels in the drawer.
Barbara didn't respond to her daughter as she kept her eyes on Ruth, who had tied her bonnet and was now putting on her gloves. "Are you still planning to go over there right now? Can't you wait?"
Ruth lifted her chin, a sour expression filling her features, exaggerating the spidery lines that connected across her face. "You might have been the boss of my sohn, but you are not the boss of me."
"Ach, gut grief, Ruth. You sound like a child. It was just a suggestion that we wait until —"
Ruth walked out the door, slamming it behind her.
Barbara shook her head. "That woman is intolerable."
Naomi walked to the kitchen window. Barbara sighed as she walked toward her daughter, stopping next to Naomi at the window. Barbara would watch Ruth all the way to the daadi haus and wouldn't feel settled until her mother-in-law safely returned.
"Mammi took off her glasses and set them on the rocking chair on the porch." Naomi leaned close to the windowpane. "She left her cane too."
"Stubborn old woman. She's blindly teetering across ice and snow to see if one of our guests would be a suitable husband for her."
Naomi giggled. "Oh, she's not just seeking a husband for herself. She's already said that there's an age-appropriate man for each of us too."
Barbara rolled her eyes before she walked to the stove to stir a pot of chicken tortilla soup she was warming for lunch. "Only two men rented the daadi haus." She shook her head as she clicked her tongue. "I'm grateful those two fellows don't live nearby in case your mammi embarrasses us. Again." She scratched her chin. "I wonder who the third man is and if he lives in this area. The two renters came from a district near Pittsburgh. A man named Wayne said they would be here for at least a month working on a construction project that they'd won the bid on."
Naomi gasped loudly. "She fell! Mammi fell!"
Barbara rushed back to the window. Naomi was already putting on her heavy coat and winter hat. Barbara didn't even take the time to do that. She burst out the door, hurried down the porch steps, and began trudging through the snow.
Ruth was on her side in the snow and not moving. Oh, dear Lord, please let her be all right.
Barbara was making slow progress and sinking in snow to her ankles. She slowed her pace when Naomi yelled at her. "Stop, Mamm! I have your boots and cape."
She did as her daughter instructed and slipped on the warmer clothes, though she couldn't take her eyes off her mother-in-1 aw. Barbara felt sillier than Ruth for darting out the door without her cape and boots, but it had been an instinctive dash from the house.
I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to that crazy old woman.
A woman fell down in the snow." Eli pointed out the window before he looked over his shoulder at the two men he would be working with for the next month. Or longer. The thought caused his stomach to lurch. Eli didn't mind hard work, but he didn't like the cold, and they would be outside at least eight hours a day building a large metal shop for an Englisch family. "Now there are two other ladies hurrying to the one who fell."
The elder of the two men, Jethro, rushed to the front door. The other fellow, Wayne, was right at Jethro's heels. Eli let out a heavy sigh, not eager to go back out in the weather, but he followed them anyway. He picked up his pace when the other two men did, even though the deep snow made walking a challenge. He was grateful he was still wearing his winter clothes.
By the time Eli, Jethro, and Wayne got to the woman, she was standing up, her black cape and bonnet caked with snow. She was a tiny lady with a lot of wrinkles, and long gray strands of hair hung loose from beneath her kapp. Jethro hurried out of his black coat and draped it around her.
The woman blinked her eyes several times, then smiled. "Danki. I'm so careless." Her voice rattled and cracked as her lips trembled.
"Ruth, are you all right?" One of the women following the eldest of the trio stepped up to her and put an arm around her shoulder.
"Ya, ya," Ruth said. "I must have lost my footing." She stared at Jethro, blinking her eyes and smiling even more. Eli wondered if she had a tic like Jacob Lapp, his friend from high school. Jacob blinked his left eye all the time, and his mother called it a tic. But Ruth blinked both eyes, so Eli wasn't sure if she suffered from the same ailment.
But everyone else faded into the white space around Eli when he laid eyes on the third woman in the group. She was tall, like Eli, with huge brown eyes and olive skin. Long eyelashes swept down onto high cheekbones, and when she smiled at Eli, he felt like a snowman melting into the white slush beneath his feet.
"Maybe we should move introductions inside," Jethro said as he motioned to the cottage. Eli breathed a frosty cloud of relief. He didn't feel very manly with his teeth chattering and his entire body shivering.
Eli waited as the women moved ahead of the men, but when the older lady — Ruth, the other woman called her — slipped, Jethro quickly reached for her and latched onto her elbow. "Careful, now."
Jethro had a deep voice and one of the longest beards Eli had ever seen, almost to the top of his pants. It was completely gray. Jethro reminded Eli of Santa Claus, even though his people didn't celebrate the icon the way the Englisch folks did. Jethro had a large belly, too, and the same rosy cheeks Eli had seen in pictures of Santa.
"I must have sprained my ankle when I fell." Ruth shook her head as she struggled to take steps in the snow.
"May I?" Jethro held out his arms in a position to scoop Ruth into them.
Eli turned his attention to the beautiful young woman a few feet away from him, guilt nipping at him as he sort of wished she'd trip, too, so he could take her into his arms.
"Oh my. Danki." Ruth began to bat her eyes again before Jethro cradled her in his arms. Definitely a tic.
As the six of them made their way to the daadi haus, Eli's eyes locked with those of the youngest of the women. He held her gaze until she smiled a little, then looked away.
Maybe this project, a penance forced upon him by his father, wouldn't be so bad after all.
Naomi was having a hard time not looking at the young man walking to her left. He was tall and straight like a towering spruce, skinny enough to still be growing into his body, but with broad and confident shoulders. His beardless face told Naomi he wasn't married, and his hair was the color of field oats. A defined, square jaw furthered his air of confidence, along with blue eyes that lent a softness to his overall appearance. The flirty glint in his eyes could surely break a girl's heart.
She'd seen that look before from suitors in her district, although those men hadn't come calling in such a perfectly put-together package. Just his looks were enough to give Naomi pause. She had spent her teenage and young adult life fending off the affections of young men who wanted to make a home with her, fearful of the emotions that went along with a relationship. But as she watched this man stroll up the porch steps, she wondered if maybe she just hadn't met anyone worth the risk.
She jumped away from her thoughts when her mother elbowed her, then whispered, "You do realize your mammi is faking this, ya?"
"Of course." Naomi grinned at her mother before letting her eyes drift to her grandmother. Her mammi had laid her head against the large man's shoulder. "I think it's sweet."
"How can you say that? It isn't sweet. It's embarrassing." Mamm rolled her eyes, something she did a lot when she referred to Naomi's grandmother. Barbara Stoltzfus was a proper woman, someone who always followed the rules and practiced perfect etiquette in everything she did. Naomi's grandmother was the exact opposite, a fun-loving bundle of energy who felt rules were in place to be broken. Naomi's father had been a glorious mix of the two personalities. I miss you so much, Daed.
Naomi snuck another look at the youngest man as they all moved inside the daadi haus. The men hadn't been there long enough to start a fire, and as all of them blew clouds of cold air, the living room reminded Naomi of the smoke-filled dance hall she'd visited once at the beginning of her rumschpringe, long before she'd chosen baptism. But the breaths of cold air here didn't have the horrible stench that went along with cigarettes. If there was one thing about her father Naomi would have changed, it was that he enjoyed an occasional smoke out in the barn. Sometimes it was a cigarette and sometimes it was a cigar. Naomi could recall her mother lambasting him each time, but her father would wink at Naomi and tell her, "She's the most beautiful when she's feisty. That's the only reason I smoke." Then Naomi's father would look at her mother in a way that Naomi had never seen another man look at a woman. Her parents' marriage was everything Naomi had ever longed for. Until her father died and she watched a part of her mother pass along with him. Mamm didn't smile anymore. Naomi missed her father, but she also missed the part of her mother that left when he did.
Barbara fought not to shake her head when Jethro set Ruth down on the couch. After he'd asked Ruth if she was okay, the older man hustled to start a fire. The youngest of the three men left the room, but not before he snuck a peek at Naomi. The young man's obvious interest in her daughter might have made Barbara hopeful, except that Naomi had turned away any boy who had come to call. She doubted this fellow would be any different. Barbara chided herself for being so cynical.
As a scowl settled into Barbara's expression, she felt eyes on her and instinctively turned to the far corner of the living room. The third man had his arms folded across his chest as he leaned against the wall gazing at Barbara. She took in his appearance the same way he seemed to be doing with her. The man was bearded, his facial hair a mix of salt and pepper, contrasting with the dark locks that framed his face beneath a black felt hat. His cropped bangs were too long and his mouth turned up slightly from one corner. Barbara raised her chin, then looked away.
When her eyes drifted back to his, he narrowed his eyebrows, squinting at her. The lines around his eyes hinted that he was older than Barbara might have thought at first glance. He was so serious-looking and solemn with deep worry lines above the bridge of his nose that he might have frightened her if she'd met up with him alone somewhere. Moreover, she was acutely aware of his height. He towered several inches over the other two men, his shoulders straining against a dark blue shirt. He'd braved the cold outside without any winter attire, and even now, in a room cold enough for human breath to cloud the space around them, he didn't so much as tremble.
Barbara quivered as her heart beat too fast for her liking. Drawing in a slow breath, she forced herself to remain calm, uncomfortable with the effect this stranger was having on her. She'd loved John with all of her heart and soul, and no man would ever take away those feelings. Not even someone who could send a shiver up her spine with barely a glance. Silly as it was, she could see why Ruth had paired them all up in her mind. Barbara's mother-in-law had used the Internet at the library to research the two men who would be staying with them — much to Barbara's disapproval — and had learned that both men were widowers. Barbara wasn't sure how the boy fit into things.
She cleared her throat as she clasped her hands together in front of her. "I'm Barbara Stoltzfus." She smiled as she addressed the men, determined not to look at the man in the corner. She motioned with her hand toward Naomi. "This is mei dochder, Naomi." Dropping her hands to her sides with more force than necessary, she nodded at the older woman, although she couldn't hold on to the forced smile. "And this is my mother-in-law, Ruth."
"Naomi was named after me, my middle name. And Barbara used to be married to mei sohn, but he passed three years ago." Ruth sat taller as she spoke. "So Barbara got stuck with me by default. I was raised on this farm."
Barbara could feel her face reddening as she took a deep breath. "I don't feel stuck, Ruth." She glanced at Naomi, hoping for some backup, but her daughter just grinned.
The older man added another log to the fire, and as orange sparks shimmied upward, Ruth stood and sidled up to him, reaching her palms toward the warmth. "What a lovely fire you built for us."
Barbara's face burned from embarrassment, but the older man's cheeks dimpled above his beard before he stoked the fire with one of the fireplace tools nearby.
"I see your ankle must be better," Barbara said to Ruth.
"Uh ... ya." Ruth looked down and bounced up on her toes. "All gut now. Much better."
Barbara wondered if Ruth realized how much she was squinting. The woman surely couldn't see much past the tip of her nose without her thick glasses. On the other hand, she sure seemed spry without her cane in her hand. Barbara had always known Ruth carried the cane for other uses than merely keeping herself stable on her feet. Ruth found more uses for a cane than its maker ever could have imagined. Barbara had seen her use it to hammer in a nail, to reach things high on a shelf, and, most recently, to stave off a wild dog.
Excerpted from "An Amish Christmas Love"
Copyright © 2017 Elizabeth Wiseman Mackey, Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Ruth Reid.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
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.
Table of Contents
Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman, 1,
The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston, 87,
Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin, 169,
Home For Christmas by Ruth Reid, 253,