Woven deeply into the Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma, a women’s quilting circle is a place to share everything from recipes to hopes and dreams, especially when love is in the air...
The youngest member of the quilting circle, Clara Rose Yutzy has her whole life ahead of her. And it’s just beginning, with plans for a wedding to her longtime beau, Thomas Lapp. Everything is falling into place, which is why Clara Rose resolutely ignores her newly warm feelings for her best friend, Obidiah Brennaman. There’s never been a hint of romance between them, and no reason to pay attention to such nonsense now...
Steady, sturdy Obie feels differently. He’s never thought too hard about his future, but the news that Clara Rose is about to be married is strangely unsettling. Convincing Clara Rose to take another look at their friendship may not be easy, but Obie is certain God intends for them to be together. He’ll do whatever he must to make Clara Rose see how much he loves her, and with the Lord’s help, before it’s too late...
Praise for Amy Lillard
“An inspirational story of romance, faith, and trust…will appeal to fans of Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis.” —Library Journal on Caroline’s Secret
“Amy Lillard writes her Amish stories with the respect they are due.” —RT Book Reviews
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
More Than Friendship
By Amy Lillard
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Amy Lillard
All rights reserved.
Clara Rose Yutzy pulled the buggy to a stop and set the brake. "She's a good horse indeed, Mammi."
Her grandmother smiled. "I got her at the Clarita auction."
"I know, Mammi. I was with you, remember?" Clara Rose slid from the buggy. Her grossmammi was as sharp as a tack. Of course she remembered. Mammi just wanted the reinforcement that she had gotten an excellent animal when she bought the retired thoroughbred.
"She's a beauty, huh?" Her mammi got out as well, smiling to herself as she patted the shiny roan on the rear.
"That she is." Clara Rose slipped her arms out of her black sweater and folded it across her arm. It was warm for early October, but that was the way of Oklahoma. It seemed, come fall or spring, she always carried a sweater whether she thought she would need it or not. The weather was so unpredictable it was certain if she didn't have one she would most certainly need it.
"It'll be fun to get started on a new project, jah?" Mammi pulled their basket of materials from behind the buggy seat and hooked it over one arm.
Though she was nearing sixty, Verna Yutzy had a spring in her step and a sparkle in her eye that Clara Rose had forever admired.
Verna attributed her glow of happiness to her longtime marriage to Clara Rose's grandfather. Abraham Yutzy had gone to his reward the year before, and yet Verna plodded on. Secretly, Clara Rose felt that her grandmother was enjoying life on her own. It was really no matter to her. All she cared about was that her grandmother was happy.
"Do you think Helen and Emily will be here?"
"Maybe," Mammi replied.
Clara Rose unhitched the horse, even as her gaze searched the yard for Emily Riehl's familiar buggy. She always enjoyed spending time with her friend. Though they weren't in the same buddy bunch when they were running around, Wells Landing wasn't that large, and everyone knew everyone else.
She turned the horse free into the pasture, watching as her grossmammi's favorite new beast snickered and approached the other horses already there.
"Verna, Clara Rose, come in, come in," Eileen called from the front porch. "You're late."
Verna shook her head. "Five after is not late, Eileen Brenneman. Keep your apron on. We're coming."
"You've been racing that new horse on the back roads."
Verna shook her head, but her eyes twinkled mischievously. "Just because she's a former racehorse doesn't mean Daisy Lane wants to run any faster than necessary these days."
Clara Rose hid her smile. Her grandmother's new buggy horse was a retired racehorse from Tulsa. The owner had donated her to the Clarita School Auction, and her grandmother had snapped the beautiful beast up as quickly as she could. Frankly, Clara Rose thought her grandmother had paid a bit much for the horse, but she knew that Mammi got a secret thrill out of owning a retired racehorse for a buggy horse like some of the folks in Holmes County did.
"I brought sugar cookies," Clara Rose said as she climbed the porch steps.
"Set them on the table with the rest. We'll quilt for a while, then we'll eat."
Verna led the way into the large room off to one side. The house had been converted from an Englisch house to an Amish house, and the rumor around town was that the room had previously been the owner's car garage. Now it held several large chairs. After their quilt squares were all complete, they would sew them together, then bring out the quilting frame to finish the job, but that wouldn't be for a month or so.
Clara Rose slipped into the seat next to her good friend Tess Smiley. Tess gave her a shy smile, then ducked her head. The girl really was the prettiest person Clara Rose had ever seen. Maybe even prettier than Lorie Kauffman. Though these days Clara Rose hardly recognized Lorie when she came to town, not since she turned Englisch.
"This should be fun, jah?" Tess said.
Clara Rose gave a small nod. "I was here last year. It was a lot of fun."
Their circle was the kind that met year-round, unlike some that only quilted in the wintertime due to the extra summer work of planting, farming, canning, and the like.
Tess gave a small nod. Everyone pulled out their needle and thread and started to work. The twenty-five-block square of beautiful pinks and corals would surely fetch a good price at the school auction next year.
The sewing group had been donating quilts to the Clarita School Auction for as long as Clara Rose could remember. And to be part of such a long-standing group gave her a secret thrill. After every meeting, she had to say a little prayer of forgiveness for her prideful nature in the beautiful quilts that they made.
"How much longer till the wedding?" Fannie Stoll asked.
Was that a bit of jealousy she heard in Fannie's voice? The poor girl was nearing thirty with no prospects. It had to be hard on Fannie to see all her friends get married, while she was the only one who remained single. There was nothing wrong with Fannie. She was pleasing to the eye and a good cook. So why no man had scooped her up and married her by now was anybody's guess. Only the Lord knew.
"Six weeks," Clara Rose said. Her heart gave a little pound at the thought. In six weeks, she would marry Thomas Lapp. She would be Clara Rose Lapp. Marriage was something she had thought about for a long time. Not just the past year while she and Thomas dated nor the past nine months or so since they had announced their engagement to the community. Long before that. Back before she had even met Thomas. She had prayed and prayed for God to send a special man just for her, and He had. Now soon, so very soon, her dream would be a reality. She could hardly wait.
As she stitched, her mind wandered into daydreams. What would it be like when they moved into their own house? Would the garden be on the left or the right-hand side of the house? Would the barn be painted red? She hoped so. She also wanted chickens so she would have fresh eggs every day and a garden plot just for tomatoes because she loved them so much. She would can whatever was left over in the fall, come to quilting circle and make quilts, and she would change her church cape from black to the color of her dress, signifying to everyone that she was now a married woman. That thought thrilled her more than thinking about the upcoming November day when she would pledge her life to Thomas.
The other women began to talk around her, as her mind continued to wander. She could hardly wait to be married. She knew it might seem a little silly to some, a little overly joyous, but all she'd ever wanted to be was somebody's wife. She looked over to her grandmother, who sat across from her, chatting with Eileen. Her own parents were a sure testament to how to make a marriage work. Most people felt that Amish marriages were destined to succeed. She'd heard the talk in the grocery store, down the aisles of the market, but she knew how hard it was for people to make a good marriage. Her parents had made a good marriage, her grandparents had made a good marriage, and that was all she wanted for herself.
"Do you have your material picked out and your dress made already?" Eileen asked.
"Jah, of course." That had been done long ago. So why was Eileen asking?
"If you need any help, we could always work on some of it here," Mariana added.
Clara Rose shook her head. "Oh no, that is such a generous offer. But I wouldn't dream of taking the time away from making the quilts for the auction to do something like sew my wedding dress." As important as it was to her, helping others topped her own wedding by miles.
"I heard that you were thinking of taking in foster kids, Mariana," Verna said.
Mariana shook her head. "No. Not now."
Clara Rose wondered if the information was incorrect or merely outdated. She had been coming to the quilting group long enough to know that Mariana wanted a baby so very badly, but now she was in her forties and her husband was very sick. Ill enough that she had heard rumors that he had already had someone make his funeral clothes. But Clara Rose would never dare to ask. It was just too personal. Since his illness, Mariana had completely given up the idea of having children. At least she didn't talk about it these days like she had before.
"It was me." Eileen's words sent the group into utter silence. The only sound was the whir of the ceiling fan that was powered by the solar panel on the roof.
"You did?" Mariana asked.
"Well, sort of." Eileen stopped stitching and twisted her fingers together before dropping them into her lap. "I'm thinking about adopting." Like Mariana, Eileen was over forty and childless. The two women seemed to huddle together whenever they met, and Clara Rose wondered if it was this childless phenomenon that brought them together as friends. She knew there was a buddy bunch of childless couples, though she knew no more than that. They were a lot older than she was, of course. What they did at their meetings was their business. Not hers.
"That's wonderful," Tess said. Her words seemed to break the spell that had descended on the room, and everyone started stitching again except for Mariana. She just stared at her hands.
"You are?" Mariana said. Clara Rose chided herself for examining the two words for any hint of jealousy. Every night, she prayed for Mariana. Not for her to have a baby, but for her to have peace over her husband's illness. Clara Rose couldn't imagine what would happen if Thomas were to fall ill like Leroy had.
Her lips trembled, and Clara Rose said a small prayer of forgiveness. She had been so wrapped up in her own issues — the wedding, getting ready for the wedding, sewing dresses, and planning menus — that she hadn't thought much about Mariana and Eileen and how different their lives were from how she pictured hers. She wanted as many kids as she could have. Didn't every Amish woman? Little girls and little boys. Little Clara Roses and little Thomases all running around barefoot in their outfits made from matching fabric. She could almost see them chasing a herd of puppies through her coveted chickens. It was an idyllic fantasy and she knew it. But that was how she wanted to picture her life.
They continued to quilt and chat though the conversation seemed to turn to the lighter side. Maybe no one wanted to bring up weddings and children anymore. It seemed that both topics were a little bit weighted for some of their members.
"I was sure hoping to see Emily this afternoon" Clara Rose said.
"Their buddy bunch planned a day trip to Tulsa. Seems there's some big market at the fairgrounds and they all wanted to go and shop," Fannie said. She made a face that said she wouldn't want to go do anything like that, and Clara Rose wondered if the expression was sincere.
"And Helen stayed home to take care of the baby."
Emily's little girl could hardly be called the baby. Maybe a toddler, and Clara Rose wondered when she and Elam might have another. They were very good parents. And she loved to see them when they came to church.
Helen and Emily had both been steady members of the quilting circle, but in recent months it had become harder and harder for the two of them to attend. As the bishop's wife, Helen always had a full plate and since Emily had married Elam, her time had grown precious as well. Elam's father, James, had been kicked in the head by an ornery milk cow a few years back and needed special care. He was much better these days, but he had limitations to deal with. Limitations that affected his entire family. Clara Rose knew it had to be hard on them all.
Eileen tied her thread in a knot, cut it down low, then stood. "I don't know about the rest of you," she started, "but I'm hungry. Is everyone ready to eat?"
A round of "jahs" went up around the room. Everyone tied off their threads and prepared to snack.
Clara Rose grabbed a paper plate and piled it high with the cinnamon buns Eileen had made, one of her own sugar cookies, and the seasoned pretzels Tess had brought, along with two slices of cheese, a scoop of the pizza casserole, and a couple of bread and butter pickles that she knew for a fact had come from Fannie's mom's cellar.
"If you eat all that, you're not going to be able to get into your wedding dress come November."
Clara Rose whirled around, her hand pressed to her heart. "Obadiah Brenneman! You scared the life out of me."
Obie smiled, his green eyes twinkling. "That was not my intention."
"It is a sin to lie, you know. Don't make me go to the bishop."
His grin widened at her feigned anger. Though he had surprised her.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"This is my aunt's house."
Clara Rose took a big bite of the cinnamon bun and set it back on her plate before licking her fingers. "Yes, I do know. But what are you doing here during our quilting circle?"
Obie glanced around as if looking to see if anyone was paying them any attention. Only Fannie seemed to notice that Obie had come into the house. Everyone else was still milling or around filling their plates.
"I was hoping I might talk to you."
Clara Rose nodded. "Jah, okay." She waited for him to start.
But Obie shook his head. "Not here. Maybe I could take you home this afternoon."
Clara Rose shrugged. "I guess so. I came with Mammi."
Obie relaxed a bit. Until that moment, Clara Rose hadn't realized how tense he was. He straightened up again. "Okay. That'd be good. Okay."
What was wrong with him?
Before Clara Rose could ask, he grabbed the plate and started filling it with the treats. Once he neared the table, the rest of the women noticed he was there. Everyone had to stop and talk to him, ask how things had been going, if he had any new golden retriever puppies, and if his twin brother, Zebadiah, was ever going to come back from Pinecraft and join the church.
Clara Rose watched as he talked to each woman in turn, then glanced back at her as if something was on his mind.
He had been her best friend for as long as she could remember. Her own mother and Eileen, Obie's aunt, had been the best of friends growing up. She'd never experienced a time when she didn't know Obie. And she had come to depend on his crooked smile and perpetually messy black hair. He was as handsome as God made them, but he showed no interest in dating. Or at least none that he told her about. They were such good friends Clara Rose was sure that she would be the first one he would tell — aside from the girl, of course — when he finally fell in love.
She whirled around, caught off guard for the second time in less than fifteen minutes. "Tess."
"What are you daydreaming about?"
Obie's name sprang to her lips, but she managed to keep from saying it out loud. It didn't sound proper to be daydreaming of Obadiah Brenneman when she was so close to marrying Thomas Lapp. But most people in these parts knew what good friends she and Obie truly were. Even Thomas was understanding of her unusual relationship with Obie. Lifelong friendship was a true gift from God, and no one should take it for granted.
"Nothing," Clara Rose mumbled.
Tess shot her a knowing look.
"You don't believe me?"
Shaking her head, Tess went back to the table for another cookie without responding.
"Mammi." Clara Rose approached her grandmother from the side, as she talked to Mariana. The woman still wore that same dazed look she had when Fannie had asked her about foster children.
"Yes, dear?" Mammi asked.
"I'm getting a ride home with Obie. Is that okay?"
"Of course, dear."
"I'll see you at home. And don't drive too fast, jah?"
Her grandmother only chuckled.
* * *
"For someone who wanted to talk, you sure aren't saying much," Clara Rose said. They had been riding in the buggy for almost twenty minutes, and Obie had yet to tell her what was on his mind. And there was something on his mind. Clara Rose could see it. His shoulders were tense, and the muscle in his jaw was jumping like a bullfrog on hot tin.
"It's not Zeb, is it?"
"No. Zeb is fine. Do you mind if we go out to Millers' pond?"
She frowned. "What's at the pond? No one's there this time of year." It had been warm lately, but not warm enough to get in the water.
Obie shook his head, but she noticed he had turned his tractor toward the Miller place.
Excerpted from More Than Friendship by Amy Lillard. Copyright © 2016 Amy Lillard. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sweet short story
I enjoyed the story of Clara Rose and Obie's friendship. They have ben best friends forever. And although she is prepairing to marry Thomas in just a few weeks she assures Obie he will always be her best friend. That nothing, even her marriage to Thomas, could ever change that.
More Than Friendship by Amy Lillard is a nice, short story. Clara Rose Yutzy has agreed to marry Thomas. Her wedding is in six weeks. But her best friend Obie (Obadiah Brenneman) asks her not to marry him. Obie tells her that he has a bad feeling, but will not give her more details. Obie is in love with Clara Rose, but Clara Rose needs to discover this for herself. Will Clara Rose go ahead with her wedding and marry Thomas? More Than Friendship was enjoyable to read. It is well-written and easy to read. I enjoyed the characters and the setting of Wells Landing, Oklahoma. I give More Than Friendship 4 out of 5 stars. More Than Friendship can be read in just a couple of hours (it is a short story). I look forward to reading the next book by Amy Lillard. I received a complimentary copy of More Than Friendship from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I so enjoyed this sweet novella! Just as with other stories that I have read by this author, More Than Friendship flowed so smoothly and kept me turning pages quickly to see what happened next. The reader views things from Clara’s perspective. I found that this worked very well for the story. It helped to really enhance the feeling of confusion about the decision that Clara must make. Sweet Clara. She had such ideas for what marriage was supposed to be and thought she knew who God had sent for her. Obie’s pronouncement that he had a bad feeling about the wedding and that she should call it off sent things into a tailspin for Clara. I loved watching her work through her concerns, ideas, and notions of what life would be like for everyone once she married Thomas. This is a short and sweet tale, yet I felt that the story and characters were nicely complete by the conclusion. More Than Friendship is the first book in The Quilting Circle series and ties in with the author’s Wells Landing series. I look forward to reading more in both of these book series. I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“More Than Friendship,” by Amy Lillard was a very enjoyable read! Clara Rose Yutzy is preparing to be married to Thomas Lapp in six short weeks. Her best friend, Obadiah “Obie” Brenneman tells her not to marry Thomas because he has a bad feeling about it. Will she listen to her best friend’s advice or will she follow through with her marriage, something she has always looked forward to? This novella can easily be read in one sitting, it’s so good you won’t want to put it down!
Amy Lillard has brought us back to Wells Landing, Oklahoma and there is soon to be a wedding of Clara Rose Yutzy and Thomas Lapp. You will feel the magic in the air, and see the hopes and dreams of this young couple. All of a sudden at the quilting circle meeting the unthinkable happens when a friend shows up and upsets the Clara Rose, by stating that they have a bad feeling about her marrying Thomas. Can you imagine the thoughts that would go through your mind? Is he seeing someone else, hanging out in place he shouldn’t, all kinds of thoughts. You will need to pick this one up to find out what this is all about and if she will find out in time what is wrong, being on cloud nine and then crashing to the floor, and for what? This is one really quick read, and you won’t want to miss this one! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Zebra, and was not required to give a positive review