Huckleberry Christmas

Huckleberry Christmas

by Jennifer Beckstrand

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781420133615
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Series: Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill Series , #3
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 449
File size: 875 KB

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA nominated and award-winning author of the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill and The Honeybee Sisters series, as well as a number of novellas. Novels in her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series have been RITA® Award and RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award finalists. Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for inspirational fiction and Huckleberry Hearts was named a Booklist Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Book of the Year. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people. She and her husband have been married for thirty-four years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and seven adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten. Please visit her online at www.JenniferBeckstrand.com

Read an Excerpt

Huckleberry Christmas


By JENNIFER BECKSTRAND

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Beckstrand
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4201-3361-5


CHAPTER 1

Crouched on her hands and knees, Anna Helmuth shined her flashlight into the darkest corner of the cellar, where old storage boxes and ancient furniture gathered dust.

"Felty, dear," she called, hoping her voice carried up the stairs, through the cellar door, and into the kitchen, where her husband washed up the dishes.

He might not be able to hear her, but she could hear him singing at the top of his lungs. "Each day I'll do a golden deed, by helping those who are in need."

It was no use. Felty was in one of his singing moods, and Anna wouldn't be able to make him hear her. She grunted as she tried to get to her feet. Her left leg had fallen asleep, and she couldn't budge an inch. Not a single inch. She turned off the flashlight, stowed it in her apron pocket, and slowly pushed herself backward with her hands. Her knees creaked like a pair of rusty hinges as she shifted to a sitting position. Propping her hand on a sturdy cardboard box, she attempted to pull herself up. No use. Her hinter parts would not cooperate.

How had she gotten herself into this predicament? She was only eighty-two years old, for goodness sake, hardly an old lady. It must have been that extra biscuit with strawberry jam she'd eaten for breakfast.

She could still hear Felty singing. "While going down life's weary road, I'll try to lift some trav'ler's had." Oh, how he loved that song!

If only he knew how badly his wife needed her load lifted at this very minute. "Felty, dear," she called again.

She might be forced to crawl up the stairs. Either that or she could take a lovely nap on the cellar floor, and Felty would notice her absence when supper didn't appear on the table.

Anna waited until he took a breath, then yelled as loudly as she could without straining her throat. "Felty, do you have Rhode Island?"

The refrain halted abruptly. Felty always attuned his ear to talk of license plates. Smiling at her cleverness, Anna heard him shuffle to the top of the stairs and open the cellar door. "Are you down there, Annie?"

"Jah, and I'm stuck. It wonders me if you could lend a hand."

Felty clomped down the steps and peered at her by the dim light from the small window.

"My knees gave out," Anna said.

Felty reached out both hands and, nearly toppling over himself, pulled Anna to her feet. Anna limped around the cellar, testing her legs for signs of arthritis. "Fit as a fiddle," she finally declared.

"Why was you sitting on the floor?" Felty asked.

"I was looking for the baby crib."

"That old crib? I chopped it up for firewood twenty years ago yet."

"Firewood?" Anna propped her hands on her hips. "Felty, that crib cradled our thirteen babies."

"And got mighty gute use. It was like to collapse with the next baby. So I burned it." Felty's eyes twinkled. "We ain't had a baby in this house for forty years, and unless you're thinking of bringing another one into the world, it was better as firewood."

"Now, Felty. We need the crib for our great-great-grandson Toby."

"Is he coming for a visit?"

"He and his mother are going to live with us. They'll be here tomorrow."

Felty massaged his forehead just above his right eyebrow. "Annie, what are you up to?"

"Amos has been gone over a year now, and it's time we found Beth a new husband."

"Beth told her mother she doesn't want a new husband."

"Well, that's silly. I'm sure her mother didn't believe that. Every girl wants a husband, and Beth has a son to consider. "

Felty wrapped his arm around his wife of sixty-three years. "I lost a lot of sleep over your last match, Annie-banannie. The doctor says I need a nap every day. "

Anna kissed Felty on the cheek. "I can't see how a budding romance will interrupt your daily nap."

Felty sighed in resignation. "Who is the lucky fellow destined for our great-granddaughter?"

"Do you remember Tyler Yoder?"

"Of course I remember him. Our grandson Aden stole his fiancée."

"Lily and Tyler were never right for each other. But Tyler and Beth are a match made in heaven."

"Made in heaven or in an Amish mammi's daydreams?"

"Now, Felty, every match we've ever made has been a success."

Felty grunted. "In spite of us, not because of us."

"Beth needs our help. She's obviously not very gute at picking her own husband."

Felty shook his finger. "Don't speak ill of the dead."

Anna turned around and started climbing the stairs. "I didn't say a word against Amos. It was more a criticism of Beth."

"Where are you going? I still haven't agreed to this."

"Seeing as Tyler hasn't set foot here since church five months ago, I've got to pay Aden a visit. I need an excuse to get Tyler to Huckleberry Hill. Aden still feels guilty about marrying Tyler's fiancée, and when I tell him I've found Tyler's match, he'll be eager to help."

"Annie, I don't think I can stand any more lovebirds disturbing my peace."

Anna stopped halfway up the stairs. "So, you admit they'll fall in love." She grinned. "We should buy a crib so the baby doesn't have to sleep in a box."

Felty chuckled softly and followed Anna up the stairs. "I slept in a bureau drawer until I turned three."

"What a lovely thought, Felty. I can imagine that you were an adorable baby, like Beth's son, Toby. Cute, lively, and in need of a father."

"Every child should have a father. Especially our only great-great-grandchild."

"I knew you'd come to see it my way."

Felty shook his head in resignation as he paused at the top of the stairs to catch his breath. "Did I hear you say something about Rhode Island?"

CHAPTER 2

Tyler Yoder jumped out of his skin as his open-air buggy came around the bend and he saw a small child standing in the lane directly in the path of his horse. "Ach, du lieval" he yelled, as he pulled hard left on the reins to keep Dobbin from trampling the little boy. The horse swerved sharply and came to a stop a mere three feet from the child.

The toddler didn't seem to understand how close he'd come to death. As the dust settled, he stared at Dobbin with one finger stuck up his nose and a big grin that revealed a mouth full of tiny teeth. His feet were bare and his orange-auburn hair perched wildly on top of his head. Tyler had never seen such an adorable child, but why he had the presence of mind to notice, he would never know.

His legs felt like pillars of gelatin as he set the brake and slid out of the buggy. Breathless and shaking, he ran, or rather stumbled, toward the little boy, who couldn't have been more than two years old. Tyler glanced in the direction of the Helmuths' house. What was this child doing out here all by himself?

The boy's eyes grew as wide as buggy wheels when he saw Tyler coming toward him, and he turned and ran in the opposite direction, pumping his chubby little arms and giggling with glee. He must have thought Tyler wanted to play tag.

Tyler sped up but didn't catch him before the toddler lost his balance and tumbled to the ground. The boy immediately voiced his indignation with an ear-piercing wail. When he caught his breath, he held it so long, Tyler feared he might hyperventilate. The second wail proved louder and more pathetic than the first. Tyler wrapped his hands around the boy's waist and helped him to his feet. The child's whole face turned damp as wetness spouted from his eyes and nose.

Unsure of what to do, Tyler pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and began mopping up the little one's face. "There, there. No need to cry," he said, in the most comforting voice he could muster. He caressed his little hand and patted him on the head while whispering, "Hush, hush."

The boy stopped crying as suddenly as he had begun. He popped his finger into his mouth, whimpered halfheartedly, and stared at Tyler with wide blue eyes. Tyler lifted the little boy's trouser legs. His knees were red, but the skin wasn't broken, and judging from the fading bruise on his forehead and the small scab on his elbow, he'd been in a few tussles with the ground before. Children this age weren't called "toddlers" for nothing.

"Let's see what we can do about your trousers," Tyler said, brushing the dust and gravel from the boy's padded bottom and straightening his pant legs.

The boy held out his hands, and Tyler lifted him into his arms. He rested his head on Tyler's shoulder and seemed to settle in for an extended stay. "Has it been a hard day already, little guy?"

Tyler snapped his head around as he heard a door slam behind him.

A young woman, gliding like a fast-moving tornado, stormed across the front yard. "How dare you?"

She snatched the toddler out of Tyler's arms and held the boy's head protectively against her chest. Tyler remembered her. She was the Helmuths' great-granddaughter Beth, and she used to live in Bonduel. She'd married a man from Nappanee, Indiana, who had passed away recently. Tyler hadn't laid eyes on Beth for three or four years.

At the moment, Beth looked more like a badger than the Helmuths' great-granddaughter. She practically spit out her words. "Toby is just a baby. You never spank a baby."

"Spank?" Tyler was stunned into silence.

"I turned my back for one minute, and then I looked out the window and saw you spanking Toby. Never touch him again or I'll come at you with a hot poker." She bounced Toby on her hip as if to comfort him, but he wasn't crying. He didn't even seem upset. Grinning at Tyler, he grabbed onto his own ear and squeezed it with his chubby little fingers.

Beth whirled on her heels, stomped across the front yard in half a second, and marched up the porch steps. She nearly ripped the door off its hinges before slamming it behind her.

Tyler kneaded the back of his neck. It was going to be a long day.


Beth closed the door with such force that it rattled Mammi's front window. She'd done it. She'd stood up to that man and told him what was what. Her heart beat with exhilaration and indignation. The gall he had spanking someone else's child! And a helpless toddler, to boot.

Mammi stood at the kitchen sink, elbow deep in dishwater. "Is everything all right, dear? You gave me quite a start."

Beth held tight to Toby, while he struggled to free himself. "I'm sorry, Mammi. Toby must have escaped out the front door. When I looked out the window, a man was spanking him. I ran right out to fetch him." Her legs quivered like overcooked spaghetti. She sat down to catch her breath.

Mammi's eyes widened in disbelief. "Who spanked my little punkin pie?"

Someone tapped on the front door. Beth's heart pounded double time as she stood and peeked out the window. "Him. He's the one."

Mammi bustled to Beth's side and stood on her tippy toes to get a good view of the horrible man standing at the door, waiting to be let in as if he hadn't just offended the entire family.

Beth was horrified by Mammi's reaction. Mammi burst into a grin the size of the sky, clapped her hands, and almost tripped over her feet trying to reach the door. She flung it open and flung out her arms to greet the visitor. "Tyler Ybder, you are a sight for sore eyes yet."

Beth's arms tightened around Toby as Tyler walked into the room, his steps tentative, his brow dark and furrowed. Tyler Yoder. He had looked slightly familiar. Beth remembered seeing him at gatherings and singeons before she married Amos and left Bonduel, but she didn't remember him very well. After she had met Amos Hostetler, she hadn't noticed any other boys, even the good-looking ones. Despite her hostility, she eyed Tyler appreciatively. He'd turned out quite nice to look at.

But he was still a dirty rat.

Tyler took off his hat and glanced at Beth as if she would pounce on him. "I'm meeting Aden here."

"Cum. Sit down," Mammi said. "Beth made some cookies. Would you like a cookie?"

Beth wouldn't stand for being in the same room with such a person, even if Mammi acted as if an angel had crossed their threshold. "I'm going to my room," she said, still gripping wiggly Toby in her arms.

Tyler jumped to attention. "Wait. I'm not sure why you're so mad at me, but I want to apologize."

"Apologize? Since when does a man like you apologize?"

"A man like me?" He seemed more puzzled than angry at her insult. "What do you mean?"

"A man who hits little children."

He bowed his head and looked as if he had been stricken with some very bad news. His humility surprised her. "I would never hit a child."

"I saw you from the window."

He fixed Beth with an earnest gaze. "I don't want you to think I'm looking for an argument, but that's not what happened. I almost ran over him

Beth felt the heat rise in her cheeks as if she'd swallowed a boiling pot of tea. "You almost ran over him?"

"I didn't expect to see a baby playing outside unsupervised."

Beth pressed her lips into a hard line and bounced Toby up and down with renewed intensity. "So now you think I'm a bad mother?" She tightened one arm around Toby and poked Tyler forcefully in the chest with her finger—just to back him up a bit. "Let me tell you something. It's not easy to raise a son by myself. Don't judge me until you walk in my shoes. And don't preach to me either."

Tyler took a step back. "I'm sorry if you think I'm preaching. I'm just grateful I stopped the horse in time."

"Were you mad because he spooked your horse? Is that why you spanked a twenty-month-old?"

With her hand still on the doorknob, Mammi stood frozen in place, grinning as if she thought their confrontation was wildly entertaining.

Tyler's frowned deepened. "I didn't spank anybody, and may the good Lord forgive me if I ever do." He lifted his hands in surrender. "What do you think you saw? I brushed the dust off his trousers. He fell down, and I helped him up. No spanking involved. He gave me shock, but I wasn't angry."

Beth examined his expression and found only sincerity there. His eyes and face didn't hold one spark of anger. She hadn't expected that. Even the smallest things used to set Amos off.

Toby pushed away from her and reached out to Tyler. Beth's jaw dropped to the floor, and she took a step back.

Toby only struggled harder against her grip. "Dow, dow," he said.

Beth reluctantly set her son on his feet, and Toby immediately stretched out his hands for Tyler. Tyler backed away and Toby followed him, whining to be held. He backed Tyler to the wall, and Tyler acted as if a guard dog had cornered him.

Her mouth curled in amusement. Perhaps she'd been a bit hasty. Maybe what she thought she'd seen wasn't what she'd actually seen. It was possible that Tyler had only been trying to help.

Tyler cocked an eyebrow and twitched his lips upward. "I'll pick him up if you promise not to attack me with a hot poker."

Beth knew she must be blushing clear to the tips of her toes. She'd made a complete fool of herself. Tyler's intense scrutiny only succeeded in heightening her embarrassment. "Go ahead. He's taken with you already."

Tyler scooped Toby into his arms, and Toby wasted no time in snuggling against Tyler's shoulder.

"I'm sorry I got mad." Beth studied Tyler's solemn expression. She shouldn't have accused him so harshly. "I'm really, really sorry."

"I'm not mad."

"I hurt your feelings."

"Nae."

"But you look so serious," Beth insisted.

"So I've been told."

Mammi finally shut the door and gave Tyler's arm a pat. "Tyler is not inclined to smile, but a finer man you'll never meet."

Not inclined to smile? Mammi must be trying to make her feel better. If Tyler hadn't been attacked by a crazed mother, he'd be inclined to smile. Beth felt the need to wipe that serious look off his face. Surely he would smile if he knew she bore him no ill will. "I panicked when I couldn't find Toby. When I glanced out the window and saw you with him, I guess I wasn't thinking straight."

"It's okay. I would have been frantic if I had lost my son." He played with Toby's silky soft fingers. "He must have an angel watching over him. Dobbin stopped just in time, praise the Lord."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Huckleberry Christmas by JENNIFER BECKSTRAND. Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Beckstrand. 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.

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Huckleberry Christmas 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Barb00 More than 1 year ago
What a marvelous Christmas book! Jennifer Beckstrand has written a clean, joyous, easy-to-read Christmas novel. The storyline is well-written, detailed, plus has great humor. I loved all the characters with their unique personalities. Descriptions in Huckleberry Christmas are so vivid, I could envision them in my mind. I truly enjoyed reading this book and Huckleberry Christmas is a book you will want to put on your reading list. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This review is one hundred percent my opinion.
Anonymous 3 days ago
I completely enjoyed this sweet story. **** esk 12/2018 ****
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it all in one day. Very likable characters.
faithsnana More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Beckstrand is an author that’s definitely on my must-read list and, once you read her books, she’ll be on yours too. Anna Helmuth is quite a character. She’s made it her mission to marry off her grand-daughter Beth to Tyler Yoder. Beth is a young widow raising a small child. Tyler is a caring young man who adores Beth and her son Toby. Toby adores him too. Beth’s marriage was far from ideal and she intends to remain single for the rest of her live. There’s also the matter of her deceased husband’s brother Isaac. He intends to marry Beth so she will continue caring for his sick mother. Read about Anna’s antics, the way Beth tries not to get close to Tyler and instead tries to find him a wife. These two will have you laughing out loud. You’ll want to keep reading to find out how things turn out for Beth!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book!
nanajudyJW More than 1 year ago
Loved reading this book. Easy reading and entertaining. You don't have to worry about any bad Language or anything off key. We need more books like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book alot
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
I cannot tell you how much I love this series. Huckleberry Christmas is no exception. I found the story fun at times and heart wrenching at others. Personally, I really could relate what Beth was going through. A great Christmas Amish read. I would highly recommend it for anyone's Holiday reading. 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put the book down and am waiting for the Huckleberry Spring to come out.
wfnren More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book, loving this series, one of the best I've read in a long time.  --   OH MY! I don't know how Jennifer does it but each book just gets better. This is a beautiful story along with the humor she includes, you even get to envision eating a couple of Anna's wonderful recipes like grated carrots and bite-sized slices of dill pickles floating in a murky sea of green gelatin or rice pudding that tastes like warm milk and sugar, with occasional lumps of rice and cranberries for texture, lol. I very highly recommend this book, this series! I am so looking forward to book four already, Huckleberry Spring, and number five, Huckleberry Harvest. The problem is I have to wait until February 2, 2015 and May 26, 2015, that just isn't fair, lol! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
MelodeeC More than 1 year ago
I loved the characters in this book! They were very well written and I could picture them in my mind as the story unfolded. Also, sunflowers play an interesting and endearing part of this story.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
Back for another wonderful visit with Annie and Felty Helmuth, and Amish country in Wisconsin. Annie is back at her matchmaking for her grandchildren, and next on the list is Beth, and Annie-bannanie has chosen a fellow we met in the last book Tyler Yoder. Now Beth has come to stay with her Grandparents, she is a young woman with a darling little boy. What we are about to find out was that she had been in an abusive marriage, and doesn’t plan to even put herself in that position ever again. She has been terrible hurt and needs a lot of healing and learning to trust God, not herself. Then we have Tyler, was he hurt when his girl ended up with the Helmets grandson? Will he be interested in Beth? You will be surprised at how his feeling develop. Had to love this fellow and how he kept himself, and how deeply he followed his faith. There are a few of Beth’s decisions that will make you cringe, and sometimes I felt like shaking her. I had to wonder if Beth would survive some of her former relatives. Come back again for a wonderful and joyful visit with the Helmut Grand/Great Grandparents, sure would love to have them for mine. Throughout the story I felt God’s hand there and leading them to end up at the right spot at the right time. What a great story of Faith, and how it is shared in this community. I can’t wait for the next book in this series, and there is a little tease offered! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Kensington Books, and was not required to give a positive review.
SunnieReviews More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Huckleberry Christmas. I can only say 5 stars. It was so good. It was fun, entertaining and just plain enjoyable! This book has the lovable Anna and Felty Helmuth back to their match-making antics. This time it's for their recently widowed granddaughter, Beth. Beth has a young son, Toby and lots of hard to deal with memories of a very difficult marriage. So hard that thoughts of another marriage are the last things on her mind. Anna has plans for Beth and Tyler Yoder. But those plans are not Beth's as she tries to arrange dates for Tyler, thinking she may have gotten a good match with Erla Glick. But is this what she really wants? Her deceased husband's brother, Isaac, is also after her heart, feeling that she has responsibilities to their family, especially since her mother-in-law is very ill. Beth does go to their home to help and Isaac tries to claim Beth as his fiance. There are lots of fun twists and turns in this book. Now this is entirely an aside from what I have written. I am a German and we eat "Bratwurst", commonly called "Brats". I have a brother-in-law who lives in Wisconsin, in fact, close to Bonduel. He is always talking about Brat buns. Well, I tell him Germans do not eat Brats on a bun. It just isn't done...he says in Wisconsin they have special buns for them. This is an ongoing laugh we have together. Well, it must be a "Wisconsin" thing, because Jennifer mentions Brat buns in her book which is set in Bonduel, Wisconsin. I had to laugh at this part. She really did her research! And then the line which Tyler states, "It's a crime to eat a Brat without one." So of course, this was a little private joke just for me! I am so excited as I looked at Jennifer's blog to see that there is another title coming out in the Spring! I can't wait to read that one, either. The others have all been so good.
Janine_S More than 1 year ago
“Huckleberry Christmas” by Jennifer Beckstrand is the third book in her 'The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill' and this is a book where so many lessons are learned. Lessons in love, trust and forgiveness are just some of the major lessons here in this book. I found that though this is a Christmas story, Christmas doesn't really come into play until the end of the book, but the meaning there is subtle but there. The Christmas message that I took away from this story is that God so loved us that He sent His own Son to earth. It is that love that we should always remember for we are loved so dearly that a great sacrifice was made for each and everyone of us. The way this message was presented too was really something for it was in a way that most people not might think that would work, but it really did in my opinion. Beth is a young woman who is trying to figure out where to go from here now that she is home where she wants to be with her young son. Slowly through this book things start to look up for Beth but at the same time things are getting tougher for her. She is finding that things are just as hard refusing suitors at home then when she her in-law home, and yet she is able to still find humor. No matter what is happening it seems as if she is able to keep humor and is quite ready with a hearty laugh. She has her plans for the future and really doesn't plan to alter those plans for anything until she learns some pretty important lessons. Tyler is a man who I felt sorry for in “Huckleberry Summer” yet it seems that he has moved on and is quite alright now. Yes he was hurt but that doesn't stop him from be happy for those who hurt him, but it has left him thinking differently for his future. He is a man who puts other people needs ahead his own, and there is not much that seems to ruffle his own feathers. He is a man of principles that he shows time and time again, which shows that he is a man who can be trusted. I found that he was entirely too serious at times and enjoyed watching him thaw and change his mind about things. I also really enjoyed his sense of humor that showed itself throughout the story in such subtle ways. Through the conflict of getting through one person, there are some interesting experiences that add a bit of humor through. It seemed as if the conflict that one person was feeling really didn't seem to change that much but then again as the full story is told then it makes a little more sense why that internal conflict is not being resolved faster. Once there is progress being made, it is done in such an amazing way with courage to face the past head on. I really cheered on the character who was facing the past for they did it with courage that showed an inner strength that they didn't know they had, as well as showing them what a good, steady, strong love can do for them. I truly hope all who read this book, enjoy it as much as I have.