He’s Amish. She’s Englisch. They are best friends, despite what the gossips say. But could the rumor mill know more than they do?
Englischer Natalie Collins looks forward to Friday night suppers at Levi and Mary Shetler’s house every week: delicious food, wonderful conversation with her Amish friends, and, best of all, the presence of Levi’s older brother Lucas. Natalie and Lucas have become best friends despite their different backgrounds. They share a love of books, and he is teaching her about God in a way that she can understand.
But the closer they become, the more opinions everyone seems to have. Levi and Mary, Lucas’s family, and even Natalie’s mother—whose own life is a mess at the moment—have concerns about their relationship. Why can’t everyone understand that it’s possible to just be friends? Besides, they couldn’t be together even if they wanted to be. Lucas would never leave the Amish faith, and Natalie is Englisch and pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine.
But when a terrifying accident happens, Natalie and Lucas are forced to confront their true feelings and decide if they can stay true to themselves and each other.
The second novel in the Amish Journeys series by bestselling author Beth Wiseman explores the compromises and sacrifices it takes to truly listen to love.
About the Author
Bestselling and award-winning author Beth Wiseman has sold over two million books. She is the recipient of the coveted Holt Medallion, a two-time Carol Award winner, and has won the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award three times. Her books have been on various bestseller lists, including CBD, CBA, ECPA, and Publishers Weekly. Beth and her husband are empty nesters enjoying country life in south central Texas. Visit her online at Beth Wiseman.com; Facebook: Author Beth Wiseman; Twitter: @Beth Wiseman; Instagram: @bethwisemanauthor.
Read an Excerpt
Natalie pulled her coat snug as she crossed the yard, hurrying toward Mary and Levi's house. She was anxious to get inside the warm home as she eyed smoke billowing from the chimney. The heat had gone out in her SUV over a week ago, but her class schedule hadn't allowed time for repairs yet.
Her teeth chattered as she knocked on the door. Lucas wasn't here yet, but the icy weather might have slowed him down. Natalie had offered, more than once, to pick up her Amish friend and drive him to Mary and Levi's house for their Friday night dinners — or supper, as the Amish called the last meal of the day — but Lucas always declined and insisted on making the drive from Orleans to Shoals in his buggy.
"Ach, hurry, get inside." Mary held the door wide so Natalie could step over the threshold. "You still don't have the heater fixed in your car?"
Natalie rushed to the fireplace, orange sparks shimmying upward. She pulled off her black gloves, held her hands close to the glowing embers, and breathed in the smell of freshly baked bread. "Not yet, but hopefully soon."
"Lucas isn't here yet. I'm sure you noticed his buggy isn't tethered outside." Mary took Natalie's coat when she was finally warm enough to slip out of it and hung it on a peg by the door.
Natalie pulled off her boots and carried them to the area by the front door where other shoes were lined up against the wall. "Oops." It wasn't the first time she'd forgotten to remove them upon entering the house. She'd worn thick socks, knowing Mary and Levi didn't wear shoes inside. Or socks. "Aren't your feet frozen?"
Mary grinned as she walked barefoot toward the kitchen, motioning for Natalie to follow. A loaf of bread cooled on a rack next to a plate of chocolate chip cookies.
"You've asked me about my feet every Friday since it got cold." Mary shrugged. "We grew up going barefoot all year long, so I guess our feet are conditioned to the cold."
Natalie walked to the stove and lifted the lid off a simmering pot. "Oh, wow. Mashed potatoes." Mary made the best potatoes on the planet. Natalie wasn't sure if it was the amount of butter, the seasonings, or a secret ingredient that made the difference, but they were awesome.
Friday night suppers at Mary and Levi's house was the highlight of her week. The food was great, and Mary and Levi were her closest friends. Along with Lucas. He was her best friend — and Levi's older brother. Natalie and Lucas had hit it off a few months ago when she went with Mary to visit Levi. Lucas had slipped Natalie his phone number when no one was looking. It was a surprise since their family was so conservative compared to most Amish in the area. Many used cell phones, but she wouldn't have thought anyone in the Shetler family would have one. Mary had even stowed hers when she married Levi, compromising with her husband that it would only be used in an emergency. When Natalie asked, Lucas had admitted he kept the phone hidden.
Natalie and Lucas kept their friendship quiet for a while, mostly talking on the phone before they started meeting at the library. Their love of books had drawn them together, but Lucas was also helping Natalie learn about God in a way she could relate to.
"I wish you'd let me bring a dish or something for our meals." Natalie poured herself a glass of tea as Mary waved off the comment, the way she always did when Natalie offered to contribute. Levi and Mary had both encouraged her to feel at home here, and she did. The three of them had nursed her cousin, Adeline, in this house, taking turns caring for the older woman until she died a few months ago. Adeline blessed them all when she left her house to Levi and Mary in her will.
She also left all of her money to Natalie to use for college. As it turned out, their elderly friend didn't have much money when she died. Mary and Levi had sold the Steinway piano that came with the house, and they graciously gifted the proceeds to Natalie so she could pay for college. None of them had any idea the piano would provide enough to support Natalie through four years of school. She had argued that Levi and Mary should keep the money, but her friends wouldn't hear of it, saying Adeline's intent had been to help Natalie with school. And besides, instruments were forbidden in Mary and Levi's world anyway.
Smiling, Natalie glanced around the kitchen and recalled so many fond memories. There were a lot of meals prepared in this room, mostly the best chicken salad sandwiches she had ever eaten. And she couldn't look at the kitchen table without remembering the times she, Mary, and Levi had worked on a jigsaw puzzle with Adeline. Natalie missed their friend but believed she was kicking up her heels in heaven with her husband, Percy. Maybe she even runs into Mimi Jean sometimes. Natalie was sure her grandmother and Adeline would have been friends here on earth if they'd known each other.
She was thankful God had brought their little group together. First it was Levi, Mary, and Natalie in their circle, always meeting on Friday nights for supper. But it wasn't long before Lucas joined them. He and Levi were the closest of their siblings, so it worked out well for all of them.
Mary reached for her own glass of tea, and she and Natalie took their seats. Mary always set a beautiful table — white china that had been her grandmother's, white cloth napkins with silver holders that had belonged to her aunt, and always fresh flowers in a vase. Levi bought them for his wife every Wednesday during the winter months. Natalie practically swooned the first time Mary told her the flowers were a weekly thing. So romantic.
"Levi is showering and running behind schedule." Mary paused and took a deep breath. "Maybe this is a gut time for us to talk, before Lucas gets here."
"What's wrong?" Natalie studied her friend, whose eyebrows had narrowed into a frown.
Mary let out a breath, and her facial muscles relaxed, but her expression remained sober. "You know how much Levi and I love you, ya?"
Natalie nodded as she wondered where Mary was going with that kind of introduction.
"And we've noticed that you seem to be developing a closer relationship with Gott." Mary nervously ran a finger around the edge of her glass. "We're so happy about that."
"Lucas has taught me a lot about God. We even read the Bible together sometimes, and he explains the things I don't understand." She paused, trying to read Mary's expression, but her friend wasn't giving much away, just staring blankly at her. "If there is something you want to say, it's okay. Just say it." She leaned back in the chair and smiled, hoping to ease whatever tension Mary was feeling, but also wondering why she looked so serious.
"You and Lucas have been meeting here on Friday nights for weeks. And we lieb having you here. Lucas is Levi's bruder, and I consider you like a schweschder." Mary took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. Whatever was coming couldn't be good.
"Mary, what is it?"
Her friend locked eyes with her. "Levi and I have noticed the way you and Lucas look at each other. You've also mentioned that you meet for lunches or at the Bedford library." She reached across the table and put a hand on Natalie's. "We're worried that this is becoming more than friendship."
Natalie was surprised it had taken Mary this long to broach the subject. "I've been expecting this — questions from you and Levi about me and Lucas. Yes, we spend time together, and we're super close. But we know that's as far as it will ever go."
Mary raised an eyebrow. "So, you've discussed your relationship?"
Natalie tucked her blonde hair behind ears that still felt frozen, as she avoided her friend's inquiring expression. "Well, no. I mean, we haven't talked about it." She shifted her weight in the chair. "We don't need to talk about it. He's Amish. I'm not. I'm planning to be a vet, and he will meet a nice girl in Orleans and eventually get married."
Mary began twirling the string of her prayer covering, something she did when she was either nervous or in serious thought. "I know you've said you're just friends, but sometimes we can't control who we fall in love with. It's obvious that you and Lucas care about each other. How do you know this friendship won't evolve into something more?"
"Because we won't let it." Natalie sat taller and shook her head.
Mary let go of the string on her prayer covering and placed both palms on the table. "Ya, okay. But for the sake of argument, let's just say that you and Lucas did fall in love."
Natalie slouched into the chair and sighed.
"Just hear me out. You know how differently you and I live. And even though Levi and I are both Amish, we lived very different lives before we were married. I come from an Amish community that isn't nearly as conservative as the one Levi and Lucas are from. Our bishop is more forgiving and lenient, and our interpretation of the Ordnung isn't as strictly enforced as it is in the Orleans community. Natalie, Levi, and Lucas come from a world far different, even from mine."
She waved a hand around the kitchen, brightly lit with lanterns on the counter and hanging above the table. "I have propane to fuel our stove and refrigerator, a luxury Levi and Lucas's family doesn't approve of." She leaned over the table, closer to Natalie. "Don't you remember the compromises Levi and I had to make in order for us to be happy? And I was already living an Amish life. We adopted some of his ways and some of mine. I take my cell phone with me when I go to town sometimes, to charge it, but otherwise it stays turned off in the drawer of my nightstand. I agreed not to use it unless there's an emergency. We only use drivers in emergencies, too, as opposed to asking someone to drive us to the market in the rain or snow. Can you even imagine what an overhaul it would be to your life or Lucas's if this friendship progressed into something more?"
Natalie held up a hand to gently shush her friend. "I know all of this, and you're worrying for no reason. The Shetlers are very conservative. And I respect that. Even though we're just friends, Lucas and I are never alone together." She looked over her shoulder to make sure Levi wasn't coming, then spoke in a whisper. "We don't kiss or anything like that, Mary. We are just friends."
"It's still dangerous. And reckless." Mary spoke with an authority Natalie didn't think she'd heard her friend use before. "We talked about this when you two first started becoming friends a few months ago, and your friendship has grown. Someone is going to get hurt."
Natalie was quiet for a while. The thought of Lucas in another woman's arms stung a little, but it was something she tried not to think about. "You, Levi, and Lucas have told me that everything that happens is God's will. I'm choosing to rely on God's will for my life. And for whatever reason, my friendship with Lucas is part of my journey. I will keep listening to God and following His lead. If I step onto the wrong path, I'll know." She paused as she recalled the trauma she'd gone through with her parents' divorce. "Even if Lucas wasn't Amish, I'm not in the market for a romantic relationship. Not now, and maybe not ever."
Mary cringed. "Don't say that. You will fall in love someday. The right person will come along, and you won't be able to think straight. True love will knock you off your feet. And I'll say it again, you can't control whom you fall in love with. Yes, I believe that all things are Gott's will, but He also gives us free will."
They were quiet as Natalie pondered Mary's comments about God and free will, knowing they must be intertwined. The God she was getting to know wouldn't put her in a situation that would hurt her or Lucas.
A few moments later, they heard the clip-clop of hooves approaching, and it wasn't long before a knock sounded, and the door opened slightly. "Wie bischt? It's me."
"Come in," Mary said as she and Natalie stood.
After the door closed, heavy shoes fell to the floor next to the others. Lucas crossed the living room in his socks and met them in the kitchen, smiling. "Smells gut."
Natalie took in Lucas's broad shoulders beneath his dark blue shirt. He reminded her of a lumberjack. She loved the way his dark hair fell straight against his square jaw-line, and when he smiled, his cool and confident green eyes twinkled. Lucas was one good-looking guy. But men and women could be great friends without including the complications of a romantic relationship, even if there was a physical attraction. God had blessed them with a wonderful friendship that Natalie cherished.
Love came in many forms. Natalie loved Levi and Mary, she loved her brother, Sean, although she didn't see him much, and she loved her parents, despite what they'd put her through — and what they'd done to each other. She was capable of loving Lucas the same way she loved Levi and Mary. Maybe Mary was right and Natalie would fall in love someday, but it would be a long time before she trusted her heart to romantic love. And that made her relationship with Lucas feel safe, not dangerous or reckless as Mary had said.
* * *
Lucas said hello to Natalie and his sister-in-law, and Levi came into the room a few minutes later.
"Wis bischt." Lucas shook Levi's hand, then went to where Mary was standing by the oven and gave her a hug before he sat down. Lucas had never hugged Natalie, even though he felt closer to her than anyone in the room, including his own brother. He was certain God had sent Natalie into his life to help her find her way to Him. Natalie had a hunger for knowledge about God and the Bible and faith, and Lucas loved watching her grow and learn.
It didn't hurt that she was easy on the eyes with her long blonde hair and eyes as blue as a cloudless sky. He'd never had a friend quite like her. They weren't encouraged to interact with outsiders unless necessary, but Lucas believed their friendship was necessary for her spiritual growth. She'd recently started attending Oakland City University in Bedford, a faith-based college, but she still had a lot of questions she wasn't comfortable asking her teachers or the other students.
After they bowed their heads in prayer and filled their plates with roast, mashed potatoes, carrots, and buttered bread, Levi wanted to know how things were at home. He and Mary had only been married a few months, so having a house of his own probably still felt new. He asked about the family weekly. It was a twenty-mile ride in the buggy from Orleans to Mary and Levi's house in Shoals, so they didn't see the rest of the family often.
"Ach, well, it's the usual chaos. Not much has changed since you asked me last week." Lucas chuckled. "You're barely missed."
Levi scowled until Lucas grinned again. "I'm kidding, bruder. Mamm misses you the most."
Lucas's brother rolled his eyes. "Probably because I'm the one who took her everywhere in the buggy."
"Ya, Eli carts her around most of the time now, and sometimes Miriam." Lucas sighed. "I think Miriam is seeing someone. I've seen her sneaking out of the haus. Daed will go ab im kopp if he finds out."
Lucas reached for another slice of bread and noticed everyone was quiet. Mary's eyes were cast down, and he suddenly felt like a louse. "Sorry, Mary. I-I probably shouldn't have mentioned anything. Is Lydia doing okay? How are she, Samuel, and the new boppli?"
Last year, Mary's sister had been sneaking out of their house in Montgomery to meet a guy named Samuel, and she'd gotten pregnant. Their parents insisted they be baptized and married right away, even though Samuel and Lydia weren't happy about it. Lucas prayed Miriam didn't fall into the same kind of trouble.
Mary pushed food around on her plate but looked up at him. "I think they are okay, adjusting to married life and being parents. It's hard to know for sure. I don't see them as often as I'd like."
Samuel had also worked for Lydia's father at the time, but he'd accepted a different job after he and Lydia married. Lucas wasn't sure if it was because of the awkward situation or a better job opportunity.
He glanced at Natalie as she took a drink of her tea, then looked at Mary. "They don't live far from my mom, and I try to see her once a week." She spooned more potatoes onto her plate. "I know it's quite a trek in the buggy. I can take you to see them if you ever want me to."
Lucas knew about Natalie's mother, who was a bit on the needy side since she and Natalie's father divorced last year. Looking out for her had taken a toll on Natalie and her relationship with her mother, but she'd said recently that they were making more of an effort to regain the good relationship they once had.
Mary glanced at Levi, then back at Natalie. "I appreciate that, but don't forget the rules. No rides from the Englisch unless it's an emergency, remember?"
"Right. Sorry. I still forget sometimes ... I hate when you refer to me as Englisch." Natalie set down her fork. "It makes me feel like an outsider."
Levi laughed. "You are."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Listening to Love"
Copyright © 2019 Elizabeth Wiseman Mackey.
Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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
Listening to Love by Beth Wiseman is book two in her An Amish Journey series, though it reads well as a standalone. I’m a fan of Beth Wiseman and was not disappointed with this novel. Natalie Collins and Lucas Shetler are friends, but their friends and families don’t approve of their friendship because Natalie is an Englisher, non-Amish, and Lucas is Old Order Amish. Natalie and Lucas ignore all the warnings, because Lucas is teaching her about the Christian faith and they’re just friends. Besides, Lucas loves being Amish and could never leave his community for the outside world, and Natalie can’t give up the comfort of modern conveniences. Slowly, Natalie and Lucas start to realize that maybe their friends and families were right, but what can they do about it? Listening to Love is another great work by a noted bestselling author of the Amish genre. The characters are endearing. The storyline and plot are engaging. I was entertained from start to finish. I rate this novel 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to all readers of chaste romance, especially Amish romance. If you are adverse to religious themes, this is not the book for you. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This was a sweet and endearing book to me. I loved how the characters of different religious stages in their lives and different understandings come together as friends and how relationships form and become damaged and see whether they have the needed faith to repair the imperfections that exist. Lucas is a young Amish man who has a special and close friendship with Natalie. As this friendship grows family members become very concerned about this and worry that their friendship will become more. And they have too many differences to make this possible. I couldn't put this book down. It was so good. The author really draws you in. It's good. Really good. I received an ebook copy from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.
Listening to Love is the second An Amish Journey Novel. It can be read on its own if you have not read Hearts in Harmony. I thought Listening to Love is well-written with developed characters and steady pacing. Natalie Collins loves animals and is pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine thanks to Mary and Levi Shetler. They sold the beautiful piano they inherited from Adeline and gave the money to her. There is a problem, though, preventing her from moving forward. She cannot give shots and the sight of blood sickens her. Natalie has developed a relationship with God thanks to Lucas. He has become her close friend. They meet each week at the library plus they have lunch dates and talk on the phone each evening. People do not understand that a man and woman can just be friends. Lucas has yet to be baptized, but he has never dreamed of leaving the Amish. As Lucas spends more time with Natalie, his feelings for her change. I could feel the struggle in Lucas and Natalie as well as their developing love. I like that each of them has a close relationship with God. Natalie’s mother, Cecelia is having a hard time after her divorce. She has gone through her divorce settlement, maxed out her credit cards and her mortgage is behind. Cecelia has been getting money from Natalie, but that is her college fund. After attending a housewarming party at Mary and Levi’s, she gets a job with Moses Schwartz, the Shetler’s neighbor. Cecelia’s dream job soon turns into a nightmare that disrupts the lives of those around her. I liked this addition to the story as it gave the story added depth and interest. I enjoyed seeing the changes in the characters as the story progressed especially in Cecelia and Helen. My favorite phrase is “Listen to God and follow His lead.” Listening to Love is an absorbing story about family, faith, friendship, and love.
Such a good book, surprises through out the book. Very good read
I found Listening To Love, the second in Beth Wiseman's An Amish Journey Series, to be an exciting read. I have read several other books by Ms. Wiseman and have enjoyed every one. She does not disappoint. This is such a sweet story of faith, family, beliefs and love. Beth is an incredible storytelling. She writes carefully crafted characters that you can't help but fall in love with. Lucas Shelter and Englischer. Natalie Collins are two of the sweetest young adults you will ever meet. They have formed a very strong friendship that all their friends and family are worried will develop into something more serious. They gave been warned several times that being from two different worlds, it can only bring heartbreak. I finished this book in one sitting, I could not put it down. I received a complementary copy from Zondervan Publishers through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
This book is so good. It is well written and holds your attention. This is not your typical Amish romance, it is so much more! The author has a way with words that makes her books come to life. Thank you Zondervan Fiction via NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
I am so glad to have the honor of reading and reviewing a book that is an example of God’s love. The characters are wonderful and very east to relate to. Natalie is hungry to learn more about God and her best friend Lucas is guiding her through scriptures and his own experiences to help her. There is a little bump in their friendship as Natalie is English and Lucas is Amish. I loved how the author shows the uneasiness that their family and friends have when the two seem to grow closer. Natalie is heartbroken when everyone steps in to break their relationship up. There is a reason for everything that happens in life. Natalie believes that God put Lucas in her life to help her grow her relationship with God. Now she wonders if that was all or is there more that God has planned for them? The author also gives us a look into a broken relationship between mother and daughter. Natalie is bitter at times because her mother is taking the divorce from her father so hard. Having to continually give her financial support is causing a strain on her own finances. I loved reading how they each had to let God soften their hearts and understand that bitterness was destroying their relationship. I have to mention Helen, Lucas’s mother. She is very protective of her family and has a dislike for Natalie and her mother. It was kind of funny to read about her using binoculars to spy on her neighbor. I won’t say why she was but it made me understand how we can push our views onto others and judge them. There were times I just wanted to tell Helen to stop interfering and let God handle the situation. How many times have we judged people? I did like how the author does give us a glimpse of the differences between English and Amish beliefs. The story is such an emotional journey through compromise, forgiveness and acceptance.It explores what true love is and questions how to tell if you will have the kind of love for another person for a lifetime. It is never easy to know if a love will last. but I have learned that love between two people is a commitment that calls for patience, compromise and including God in the relationship. One thing I found interesting is that Amish don't believe in divorce so they just stay together and work things out. In society people walk away everyday from a marriage without trying to sit and talk it out. We sometimes don't include God in our marriage and the enemy gladly takes that as an invitation to break up a family. There is an unexpected twist in the story that causes chaos in several lives. The author took me by surprise and I loved how the twist leads to compassion and forgiveness. I have to say the author has surpassed my expectations in a story that reminds us to listen to God and the meaning of a love that never fails. I received an arc copy of this book from the author. The review is my own opinion.
Sometimes friendships lead to interesting lifestyle changes. Englischer Natalie Collins and her Amish friend, Lucas become best friends as they share their love of books and he helps her in her love and growth of God in her life. Can they just remain friends, or will their closeness as best friends grow into love? Their families are very concerned about the direction their relationship might take. As they try to listen to God’s voice direct them in their lives. many twists and turns to this storyline make this a very enjoyable book. Love, judgment, accusations and forgiveness play important parts to this book. I highly recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy of this from Zondervan through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
I was so glad to revisit the characters we met in Hearts in Harmony and to read how Natalie, an Englisher navigates her life. The story keeps you glued to your chair as you experience the many twists and turns it takes. It is a poignant tale of relationships between daughter and mother, Amish and English, man and woman, and some are difficult. I enjoyed watching the characters grow and develop and learn that life is about compromise to make relationships grow and develop into what God plans. The characters show flaws and deal with real life situations such as a parent going through divorce. Ms. Wiseman has a gift with the pen to draw us into the story and make us feel we know the characters on a personal level. An outstanding read that grips your heart. If you are new to Amish Fiction this series is a great place to start. I received a complimentary copy from the author/publisher. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.