Emilie Getz and Jonas Fielding are as different as two people—of the same age, with the same faith, living in the same charming Pennsylvania town—could be.
She loves history; he loves new ideas. She sticks to the rules; he likes to break them. She’s into saving relics; he’s into saving souls. The one trait they share is a penchant for controlling every aspect of their lives, including their stubborn hearts.
When Emilie’s search for an archaeological treasure leads her to the one piece of land she can’t have (thanks to Jonas), they choose opposing sides in an engaging battle of wits. Emilie, a no-nonsense sort of woman, is determined to have her way. But Jonas is on a mission as well: He wants to hear Emilie laugh. Often.
“Liz Curtis Higgs mixes her usual humor into this entertaining story of roller-coaster romance.”
“Delicious as Moravian sugar cake! Readers will love it.”
Lori Copeland, author of Roses Will Bloom Again
“Bookends is such fun…rich in character, setting, and spiritual dimensions.”
Gayle Roper, author of Winter Winds
“A great story with believable characters, realistic situations, and a sprinkling of Higgs’s humor.”
K-LOVE News & Reviews
“Declare a holiday and cozy up with this engaging novel.”
Patsy Clairmont, author of Stardust on My Pillow
Story Behind the Book
Though she has traveled the world, Liz Curtis Higgs is a small-town girl at heart. In Bookends, Liz invites readers to visit a place she knows well: her hometown of Lititz, nestled in the rolling hills of historic Lancaster County , Pennsylvania . Fond memories of her childhood years in the Moravian church—one of the oldest of the Protestant denominations—and her love for Lititz history and traditions serve as a solid underpinning for this lively contemporary tale. Like many couples, Emilie and Jonas resemble human bookends—opposites in every way—until Emilie’s joy-filled spiritual awakening turns their stubborn hearts in the same happy direction.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Success. Inform press. Home Christmas. Orville Wright
It isn't possible!
Emilie Getz peered into the window of Benner's Pharmacy, amazed to find every detail exactly as she'd remembered. The soda counter where she'd sat as a child and ordered cherry colas, the stout glass jar stuffed with locally-baked pretzels, the racks of colorful greeting cards, the customersregulars, no doubtperched on vinyl-covered stools. Gazing out at her, gazing in.
She pushed open the door and found herself stepping into a time warp, like Alice falling through the rabbit hole into another world. Except Emilie knew this worldknew it inside and out, even after eighteen long years of self-imposed exile.
A tentative smile stretched across her features as she reached for the local paper, fresh off the press earlier that December day.
"Thirty cents," the clerk behind the counter said, then amended the price when Emilie added the latest issue of Victoria, one of her few monthly indulgences. On many a rainy Carolina evening Emilie basked in the magazine's artful depiction of life at its loveliest, then closed her eyes and thought of England and how splendid it would be to take a handful of her more mature history majors there.
For the next six months, though, she was firmly planted in Pennsylvia soil, on a mission that could make a visit to merry old Englandfinancially speakinga distinct possibility. Who knew? The newspaper she'd just purchased might include an article about her arrival in town this very week.
"Merry Christmas," the clerk called out as Emilie gathered her reading materials and hurried down the steps. Slowing when she reached the icy sidewalk, she headed in the direction of her temporary lodging half a dozen doors east.
The cozy white cottage, built to last by John William Woerner in 1762, greeted her warmly. The town cooper, bleeder, and tooth drawer had left a solid legacy in the little house. Already it felt like home, even with stray boxes left to unpack and potted plants waiting for new landing spots. Emilie fixed herself a light supper of cheese and fruit, then unfolded the newspaper with guarded anticipation. Keeping one eye on the clock, she brushed stray wisps of hair out of her face as she scanned each page, hoping to discover a warm welcome there as well.
What she found was less than encouraging. Her momentous homecoming resulted in two short paragraphs, buried on page sixteen of the Lititz Record Express. The headline, set in modest type, simply announced: "Local Scholar Returns."
"Local scholar?" Nothing more? The story that followed offered little in the way of fireworks: "During her six-month sabbatical, Dr. Emilie Getz will write a commemorative book for the Moravian Congregation's historic 250th anniversary."
That was the whole of it.
Not a word about her being commissioned by the church or singled out from her peers for this honor.
No box around the story, either. No boldface type. No photo.
A tightening sensation crawled along her neck. Oh, honestly, Em! Swallowing with some difficulty, she snapped the newspaper shut as if to scold the editor for so easily dismissing seven years of doctoral work in eighteenth-century American history.
The weekly paper landed on a nearby drop-leaf table with a disappointing slap. "All things come round to him who will but wait," she reminded herself, her clear voice punctuating the evening stillness. As usual, Longfellow offered the perfect antidote to her blue mood. The Christmas Eve vigil, less than an hour away, would dispel any lingering melancholy.
Working her way through the house, snapping off lights and turning on small electric candles, Emilie reminded herself that there would be substantial headlines in much bigger newspapers soon enough if all went as planned. And it will. It must. She'd worked too hard, too long, to allow any other outcome.
The fact was, the Record Express didn't know the whole story. Couldn't knownot yetor it would ruin everything. Her research on the original Gemeinhaus"common house"was strictly off the record until her suspicions about the location could be verified. It would take hard evidenceremnants of a foundation or identifiable artifactsto ensure that her ideas were based on fact.
In 1746 when John George Klein donated part of his farm property for a building that would serve as school, meetinghouse, and parsonage, it was raised on a bluff on the south bank of a small stream.
A finished Gemeinhaus stood there by May 1748, no doubt.
But not the first one. If her painstaking research was correct, the first buildingcompleted but never consecratedwas raised on a plot of land farther southeast than its later counterpart, and finished a full year earlier.
Now she had to find it. She had to prove it, if only to convince those confounded men in Salem College's history department that a womana younger woman at thatcould play their game and win.
No mistakes this time. No hasty conclusions.
This would not, could not, be another incident like Bethabara, an academic disaster of epic proportions for her. She, who always triple-checked things, had missed a critical bit of information that sent an entire archaeological crew on a fruitless dig in the old Moravian village outside Salem, North Carolina.
The Bethabara dig had yielded nothing except sore backs and hot tempers. And a foundation stone that boldly proclaimed her mistake to the academic world: 1933. Not a 1753 site, as she'd insisted it would be. "Getz's Blunder," they called it when they thought she wasn't listening.
It hadn't cost her tenure; it had cost her pride.
She would succeed this time, of that Emilie was confident. Not a single soul in her academic circle knew about her Lititz Gemeinhaus research. If she kept her nose to the grindstone, she might pull this one off without undue embarrassment. The endless hours she'd spent squinting at ink-spotted diaries and faded antiquarian maps were about to bring her the recognition that she'd waited far too many years to receive.
It was her turn. Her turn, mind you.
A glance at the hand-hewn clock mounted in the wall assured her that, if she left in the next minute, she would arrive at church at precisely seven o'clock, in plenty of time to choose a seat to her liking. Emilie stepped out the front door onto east Main Street and inhaled the frosty air, pulling her scarf more tightly against her neck. The temperature had already dropped a few more chilly degrees.
History swirled around her feet as surely as a hint of snow eddied about the tall lampposts standing guard over the busy intersection of Cedar and Main. Five-pointed Christmas stars framed the old glass globes with red and white bulbs, just as they had every December in memory. Across the street stood the Rauch houseits pretzel ovens still in the basementand the corner house that once featured Lancaster County's first drugstore.
The slightest shiver of expectation ran down her neck.
Her parents were spending the evening delivering baskets for the needy in Lancaster, leaving her on her own until tomorrow. Solitude never bothered Emiliein fact, the peaceful, orderly nature of living alone suited her perfectly.
Emilie locked the wooden door behind her, ventured down the steep brick steps, then turned right to pass the post office, keeping an eye out for icy spots. The evening was cold and starless, with a stout enough breeze to send her scarf waving like a flag on the Fourth as she hurried toward the church one block away It would be goodwouldn't it?to walk through those narrow wooden doors again. Long overdue, really, though she'd only been in Lititz for two days, all of which she'd spent unpacking enough resource materials to keep her busy through June.
Emilie noted with a smile of satisfaction that the old Moravian Congregational Store, circa 1762, hadn't been altered one iota except for the addition of dormers in the roof. There were laws about remodeling such buildings. "Remuddling is more like it," she murmured to no one in particular as she neared the corner and turned right on to Moravian Church Square.
In the chilly night, her heart skipped one beat, then two.
It was all there. The trombone choir, their elegant brass slides pointed toward the sanctuary doors, sounded a hymn as recognizable as her own name. The snow-dusted sidewalks guided visitors to the Putzthe church's annual diorama of Bethlehem of old. And hanging from every porch ceiling on the square were Moravian stars dancing in the wind, their ivory glow dispelling the darkness.
Nothing had changed. Nothing.
And that pleased Emilie immensely. From her wavy brown hair to her sensible leather boots, she was a woman who understood the importance of tradition. This was her hometown, after all. Her home congregation. Her people, as her Winston-Salem friends would say. The last thing she wanted was to find everything she valuedeverything she lovedtossed aside in the name of progress.
Slipping through the door with a nod to the greeter, she made a beeline for her favorite seat near the front, blinking hard as her senses were overwhelmed with awakened memories. The lump in her throat felt like an orange stuffed in a Christmas stocking. She sank on to a much-worn padded pew and tucked her small purse beside her, careful not to disturb the couple to her left as she made a nest for herself with her cashmere dress coat.
It seemed that every minute of eighteen years had passed since she'd sat in that exact spot.
Not true. It seemed like yesterday.
Letting her eyelids drift shut, Emilie drew in a quiet breath, savoring the spirit of Christmas past that hovered around her. The lingering scent of beeswax candlessnuffed at the close of the earlier vigil servicestill tinged the air. Behind the wide door to the old parsonage, aromatic coffee and sweet buns waited for the final love feast of the season, soon to be served to the chosen and the curious who filled the pews of the Lititz Moravian Church.
Eyes still at half-mast, her ears tuned to the faintest traces of Pennsylvania German in the voices murmuring around her, Emilie didn't see the man preparing to sit down next to her until he landed with a jarring thump, flattening one side of her cashmere nest.
Good heavens. Didn't he realize he was sitting entirely too close?
Not lifting her head to acknowledge him, she merely shifted to the left and whispered, "Pardon me," while she tugged at her coat sleeve. The black jeans plastered on top of it were the sorriest excuse for Christmas Eve attire she'd ever witnessed. Obviously not a Lititz man.
When his response wasn't immediate, she turned her whisper up two notches. "Sir, if you would, please. You're sitting on my"
"Really? No kidding."
His full-volume growl sounded like a muffler headed for a repair shop. Young and old in a three-pew circumference turned to see who was disturbing the peace. When Emilie's gaze joined theirs, she found herself face-to-face with something even more disturbing.
The manand he was definitely thathad impossibly short hair, enormous eyes with brows covering half his face, and a five o'clock shadow that darkened his chin line to a slovenly shade of black.
Before she could stop herself, Emilie grimaced.
A lazy smile stretched across the field of dark stubble, at which point his narrow top lip disappeared completely. "Sorry, miss." He leaned slightly away from her, keeping his eyes trained on hers as he released her coat. "My mistake."
She snatched back her sleeve, chagrined to feel the crush marks in the fabric and the warmth of his body captured in the cloth. Men! Flustered, she fussed with her coat, trying to rearrange it just so without brushing against those tasteless black jeans of his, the ones that matched his black T-shirt and black sport coat, which, Emilie couldn't help noticing, displayed an unseemly number of blond hairs.
A masculine hand thrust into view and the muffler rumbled again. "So. I'm Jonas Fielding. And you are ...?"
Blushing is what you are, Em!
She swallowed, hoping it might stop the heat from rising up her too-long neck, and offered her hand for the briefest shake. He was so ... so not like her professorial peers at Salem College, buttoned up in their conservative shirts and ties. This man wasgoodness, what was the word for it? Earthy. Masculine. Something. Whatever it was, it unnerved her.
Still, she really ought to be polite. They did have an audience, and it was Christmas Eve.
Pale fingers outstretched, she nodded curtly "Dr. Emilie Getz."
He didn't shake her handhe captured it. "New in town, Dr. Getz?"
The oldest line in the book! And he couldn't have been more wrong. She jumped at the chance to tell him so as she slipped her fingers back through his grasp and stuffed them in her dress pocket.
"Not new at all. I was born and raised in Lititz. Graduated from Warwick High School, in fact." Valedictorian, in fact. She didn't mean to jerk her chin up, it merely went that way all by itself. "I've been ... ah, gone for a few years."
His gaze traveled over her longer than necessary before his eyes returned to meet hers. "I'd say more than a few years, Emilie."
"Why ... I ...!" She was sputtering. Sputtering! The warmth in her neck shot north, filling her face with an unwelcome flush even as a sly grin filled his own devilish countenance.
An arpeggio from the pipe organ provided a blessed means of escape from his boyish wink and the chuckle that followed. Heavens, what an ego he has! With his dark features and all-male charm, he was undoubtedly the sort of fellow other women found drop-dead handsome. Emilie hoped he would simply drop dead. Or, at the very least, vanish at the end of the service, never to sit on her coator step on her toesagain.
"More than a few years"? Humph!
An out-of-towner, no doubt. The borough of Lititz, nestled as it was in the heart of Amish country, swelled with visitors over the holidays. Clearly Jonahor whatever his name wasbelonged among their number, which meant he'd be long gone before she turned the calendar page to January.
Calm down, Em. It's Christmas Eve.
An organ prelude by Pachelbel soon softened the corners of her mouth into a tenuous smile. The sanctuary dated back two centuries; the melody was older still. For historians, a Moravian vigil service approached heaven on earth.
Though at age thirty-six, Emilie herself was anything but historic. Wasn't that so?
"More than a few years ..."
The echo of his words tightened her smile. The nerve. How old was he, then? Reaching for a hymnal, she stole a furtive glance at the stranger on her right. His dark eyes, she was relieved to discover, were focused on the printed sheet in his hands. His expression suggested bemused indifference. The nerve!
The man was easily her age. Older, judging by the hint of silver in his close-cropped hair. Granted, only two hairs were gray, but they were gray Definitely.
His eyes shifted toward hers before she realized she'd lingered too long. "Counting my gray hairs, Emilie?" At least his voice was lower this time. Very low, actually "I have two. Find 'em?"
"No! I mean, yes, but that's not what I was looking for." She sat up straight and pointed her chin toward the pulpit. "Never mind."
He leaned closer. "In case you're wonderingand you apparently areI was born in the sixties. And another thing: You can skip the hymnal. All the words are in this program." He waved it under her nose, clearly enjoying himself. "Didn't you get one?"
"It's not a program, it's an ode. And I don't need one, thank you." She jutted her chin forward further still, refusing to look at him, and shoved the hymnal back in the pew rack. "I was born Moravian. I know all these hymns by heart, including the German ones."
Seconds later, when the lights in the sanctuary faded to black, "Stille Nacht""Silent Night"floated down from the choir loft behind them. None too subtly, she mouthed the words auf Deutsch for all three verses, recalling her years in the soprano section.
"More than a few years, Emilie ..."
That infernal man and his insinuations! He was at least as old as she was, she'd quickly calculated. Probably the very same age. It was quite obviously the only thing they had in common.
She'd seen his type all her life: athletic, popular, big man on campus, strutting around with a pretty airhead on each arm. The sort who wouldn't give a sober, studious gift such as she the time of day.
He was only talking to her now because he was stuck sitting next to her. Some things in life never changed.
When the congregation stood to sing "All Glory to Immanuel's Name," Emilie was amazed to hear a tolerably pleasant bass voice booming from the broad chest next to her. Not solo qualitynot by any stretchbut fairly on pitch. Yes, she'd definitely heard worse. He also seemed to know the tune, even without printed music. Had he been here in years past?
Curiosity overruled her good sense. In the sparse moment of silence before the pastoral prayer, she whispered in his general direction, "Have you attended our Christmas vigil before?"
"Five years in a row. I'm Moravian too."
Her jaw dropped before she could catch it.
"Not born Moravian, like you," he chided softly, nodding his head toward the front to remind her the pastor's prayer was already in full swing. "You'll have to explain that one to me later."
Later? As in after the prayer? After the service? Later over tea in her cozy kitchen on Main Street? Surely he isn't suggesting such a thing! Surely not. She hadn't invited a man under her roof for teaor any other reasonin a very long time.
Disgusted with the mere notion of brewing a pot of Darjeeling for a Neanderthal, she fixed her gaze on the enormous Moravian star hanging above the pulpit, spinning ever so slightly in the rising heat, and composed her features into an attitude of worship, even if her mind wasn't cooperating.
The man is not your type. At all. Another quick glance at the blond hairs on his jacket assured her of that. Still, his comment taunted her. Explain what to him later? Explain why she was back in Lititz after all these years? Explain why her whole academic career depended on what she might uncover less than a mile away?
Wrong. No explanations needed, not when there wouldn't be anything happening later with Jonah something-or-other.
When Pastor Yeager began reading the Christmas story from Luke, Emilie snapped to attention with a guilty start, determined to hear every word, to listen as if she might be tested on the material the next morning. Anytime a grade was involved, her concentration was legendary.
"And it came to pass ..." the reverend read.
"Later," her rebel's heart translated.
Enough! She pressed her lips together in a firm line and busied her hands smoothing her straight wool dress, determined to cover every inch of her knobby knees. Not because of the man sitting entirely too close to hercertainly not! She was merely doing it for modesty's sake. And propriety And simple good taste, considering her knees were beyond ugly.
Not that such a thing mattered.
What's the matter with her knees?
Jonas watched the woman next to him fretting over her skirt, tugging the fabric well past her calves as if the hem were in danger of crawling up a scandalous quarter of an inch. He rubbed his jaw to mask a broad smile and realized he hadn't shaved. This morning, yes. This afternoon, no.
She'd settled back against the pew and was still trying her best not to brush against his jacket. A nervous sort, this one. Prickly as a porcupine.
His eyes were drawn up front as the two dozen youngsters parked on small benches around the pulpit stood to sing the "Children's Te Deum." Their cherub facesframed in short, white robes and big bow tiesjogged an unexpected memory of his three younger brothers, all in their early thirties now. They'd been about this age when the accident happened.
It seemed like eons ago.
Nah. It seemed like yesterday.
A ripple of anticipation moved through the congregation as proud parents craned their necks to watch the junior choir members in action. Emilie Getz, it appeared, hardly noticed the kids, so intently was she staring up at the Moravian star.
Counting the points, probably. Should he tell her there were exactly one hundred and ten? The woman was a serious piece of work. Dr. Getz? She looked more academic than medical. Conceited and prissy and arrogant as all get-out, which meant she was hiding somethingand not just her knees. Women like heruptight, no-nonsense, nose-in-the-air femalesalways had some dark secret they kept tucked away for a rainy day. He knew the type: "Look, but don't touch."
Then why don't you stick to that, Jonas?
Even if her pale, creamy skin did remind him of a porcelain angel he'd seen on top of a Christmas tree yesterday.
Jonas scanned the sanctuary looking for familiar faces, and found several. Only one, though, snagged his gaze and hung on to it, whether he liked it or not. Dee Dee Snyder. The real estate agent who'd sold him his new house last year was perched on the end of a pew, her long legs crossed, her foot swinging provocatively, her short skirt hiked up too high for church or anywhere else.
Dee Dee Snyder didn't care who saw her knees.
She winked at him. Winked! What was this woman's problem? Did she think she could pick up men during a worship service?
He refused to acknowledge her except with a brief nod. Sure, the woman was a lookershort blond hair, bedroom eyes, and curves in all the right places. She was also dangerous with a great big D. As in Dee Dee.
Besides, where was the challenge in dating the ubiquitous Miss Snyder? The woman had thrown herself at every single guy in Lancaster County before she'd decided to set her sights on himagainthis fall. He'd resisted being conquest #54, #97, and #122. He wasn't about to be #146.
It was more than that, though. He didn't have time for a woman who didn't have time for God. Dee Dee was only in church tonight because it was Christmas Eve. And because she knew I'd be here. He hoped that wasn't the case, but judging by the way she was dangling her red high-heeled shoe in his direction, it looked like the ugly truth of it.
Jonas made up his mind: The minute the organist hit the first note of the postlude, he was out the door. Santa wasn't gonna catch him kissing Dee Dee Snyder under the mistletoe. Not this year. Not any year.
His attention shifted back up front when the children's choir dropped onto its benches with obvious relief. The congregation around him settled in, prepared to sing half a dozen Moravian hymns while the traditional lovefeast was served. Food in church. What a concept! After five years and two dozen or more lovefeasts, he still looked forward to the simple meal and felt his stomach rumble as the kitchen doors swung open.
On cue, dienerswomen of the church chosen for such servicearrived bearing baskets brimming with sweet buns. Taking their place at the end of the pews, the women quickly dispensed their fragrant wares. Passing the basket to Emilie, Jonas couldn't help noticing her hands, graceful as small white doves, and her concentrated effort to keep the powdery bun as far away from her dark dress as possible.
Which meant he was looking straight at her when she suddenly swung her head toward him and asked, "Jonah, is it?"
"Jonas." He bit his lip, fighting a chuckle. "Jonas. With an s." Few things entertained him more than an intelligent woman caught making a mistake. "Jonas Fielding."
"Ah ... well, then. What ... what exactly did you want me to explain to you ... later?"
He took in a pair of light brown eyes, not quite focused on his, and rosebud lips, now pinched into a tight line. She's already sorry she asked. Her inquisitive, doctoral-degree mind had obviously taken over and insisted on fishing for an answer.
He grinned and swallowed the bait.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Before this book I had attempted to read one of Liz Curtis Higgs' books, but couldn't finish for lack of interest in the story. Then I picked up Three Weddings and a Giggle (totally suggest reading it) and loved her novella in the book. I loved it so much that I went back and found Bookends at my library. I don't know what I expected really when I read it, but this book was just wonderful. I loved the storyline and while at times I told myself that the plot should seem more boring than it did, I realized that the writing was what made it so good and intriguing. Liz Curtis Higgs is so great at mixing in a level of reality into everything she writes, that it seems as if the characters could be your close friends telling you the story. It seems real! At moments it almost didn't seem as if I was reading a book. I loved her writing and thought it added so much to the story. Bookends is funny, dramatic, passionate, romantic...everything! I would totally suggest this book to anyone interested in a funny Christian romance.
I found this book in my school library and I loved it sooo much! It was hilarious and had an amazing message of faith! I highly reccomend this book to anyone who loves a good story as much as I do!
I don't know when I've read such a delightful book! Jonas and Emilie and a whole cast of other wonderful characters wormed their way into my heart and charmed me like I haven't been charmed in a while. Incredible writing and a message of faith seamlessly interwoven...this book has it all!
I live in the town which is the base for the story, what fun to connect with the characters and where they go! I couldn't put it down, had to know what happened next! I highly recommend you read this book!
This delightful book flows smoothly, makes you laugh out loud, and encourages you to believe in true love.
This was a very good book that ended up actually exceeding my expectations. This was my first book that I read of this author that had the setting in a modern time era, and I was actually curious as to how she would do writing a book in such a different era of time. Considering the differences of her other books, and the fact that this book wasn't based off of a bible story, she did a great job. One thing that I would personally have changed would have been the ease in which the main woman character was able to begin listening to God and converted into a believer. I felt like, for a woman so driven and so successful she gave up everything that she had held important in her life fairly quickly. I had been expecting something much more important and impactful to happen for her in order to have her better understand her relationship with God. Other than that, it was a very good book.
With fully developed characters in a modern setting, Higgs keeps the competing interests of history professor Emilie and developer Jonas as the major conflict. As the two slip and slide their way toward a romantic interest, both characters change and develop toward a satisfying end.
I enjoyed this book probably more-so than I had expected. It's a romantic comedy sure to fill you with deep emotions, real-life situations, and make you laugh aloud. It's a great book to read with a church book club and you can dive deep enough to get spiritual influance or just enjoy the book for all the other fun aspects it will provide. Give the book a chance and you will not regret it.
Very cute love story!
I really enjoy Higgs and was pleased to find another of her books. This was very different from others I had read and a pleasant diversion.