It's a better life, a fresh start--and a heaven-sent second chance. Founded by three Amish sisters determined to put misfortune behind them, Promise Lodge is a colony where faith's abiding promise can be fulfilled--and love can make all things new…
Energetic widow Mattie Bender Schwartz is working day and night to get Promise Lodge going. She's also hoping the change will help her son Noah's heart to heal after his broken engagement. But his former fiancée, Deborah, is looking for a fresh start too. Filled with regret, and cast out by her dat for a reason she can't yet reveal, Deborah can only pray Noah will forgive her foolishness.
Deborah is the last person Noah expected to show up at Promise Lodge. But with her cruel words still ringing in his head, he's reluctant to accept her apology--even if the Old Order ways demand he try. If only he could obey Christ's most important commandment: love one another. But one thing is certain--his mother and aunts, and their beloved Preacher Amos, will do their best to help him get there.
Praise for Charlotte Hubbard's Seasons of the Heart series
"Another great book centered around the Sweet Seasons Café." --RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
"These very special books will sit proudly on my keeper shelf!" --Romance Reviews Today
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By Charlotte Hubbard
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Charlotte Hubbard
All rights reserved.
Deborah Peterscheim stood at the roadside entrance to Promise Lodge, her pulse pounding. Her English driver was heading back along the county road with her last dollar. As she cradled a cookie tin in her arm and gripped the handle of her old suitcase, she hoped the three-hour trip from Coldstream hadn't been a huge mistake.
But it was too late for doubts. "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it," she reminded herself as she raised her face to the warm June sun. It felt good to let the breeze ripple her clothing as the trees whispered their welcome — such a comfort compared to the final, harsh words her dat had flung at her as he'd pointed toward the door. If only she hadn't spotted the flames coming from the Bender barn. If only she hadn't called 9-1-1 ...
One more time, to reassure herself, Deborah read the ad she'd torn from The Budget: New settlement in north-central Missouri. Ample land. Lodging available while homes are being built. Limited number of apartments for single women. Old Order Amish and Mennonites welcome. Contact Amos Troyer, P.O. Box 7, Promise, MO.
Surely Preacher Amos and the other friends from Coldstream who'd started this new colony would understand her need for a fresh start. First and foremost, she hoped to win Noah Schwartz's heart again, after foolishly calling a halt to their engagement last month. Just one of several stupid moves, she thought with a sigh. But don't let on about why Dat sent you away. Not until you absolutely have to.
Deborah blanked out the painful parting images of her parents' faces and instead focused on the handwritten sign at the roadside.
WELCOME TO PROMISE LODGE
THE PROMISE PRODUCE STAND
THE PROMISE LODGE APARTMENTS
She recognized the clean, precise printing as Noah's — he had an eye for arranging things, and a steady hand when it came to wielding a paintbrush or a welding torch. Did she dare believe that Noah was welcoming her to Promise Lodge? Or would he reject her apologies — her request for his forgiveness — before she could convince him her pleas were sincere?
There was only one way to find out.
Deborah walked beneath the arched metal Promise Lodge sign, which was positioned between trees that formed a canopy over the entryway. Their leaves rustled in the breeze, allowing splotches of sunshine to dapple the dirt driveway. When she stepped beyond the colorful trumpet vines at the entrance, she stopped to gaze at what she hoped would be her haven. Maybe her new home.
Ahead, Deborah saw a tall, timbered lodge building with a wide porch and a grassy yard surrounding it. Several cabins nestled in the shade of ancient trees behind the lodge. In a fenced pasture beside an old red barn, black-and-white dairy cows grazed and goats munched on weeds as they watched Deborah. Off to her right, about an acre away, the surface of a lake shimmered in the sunlight.
To her left, a large garden plot had been tilled and hoed. Leaf lettuce, peas, and other early vegetables grew in neat, straight rows, their leaves shining a vibrant green against the dark soil. Beyond this planted plot, another garden was being plowed. When a Belgian came around from behind the fragrant honeysuckle hedge, following the contour of previous rows, Deborah's heart stopped.
Noah was driving. She would know his lean silhouette and the dark, wavy hair fluttering beneath his straw hat anywhere, for she'd memorized his handsome features all through school and during their yearlong engagement. This was the man she'd planned to spend her life and raise her children with — and when he fixed his eyes on her, even from a distance, Deborah stopped breathing. He gazed long and hard, his expression indiscernible as the horse plodded along and the plow blades churned up the black soil.
Deborah dropped her suitcase and ran toward him, clapping a hand over her kapp so it wouldn't fly off. Such hope — such joy! — danced in her heart. Surely he would feel compelled to give her another chance. She had to find a way to make amends. "Noah!" she called out. "Noah, it's so gut to see you!"
As he halted the horse and stepped down from the plow, Deborah stopped at the edge of the plot to catch her breath. Noah took his time, stepping carefully over the uneven, furrowed earth. His green shirt clung to his damp chest and his old Tri-blend pants flapped in the breeze as he walked. He'd lost some weight —
But I can fix that! Maybe he's missed me as much as I've longed for him! Deborah thought as Noah crossed the last several feet between them. He mopped his face with a bandanna and then stuffed it back into his pocket.
She savored the sound of Noah's voice, the way he made her name sound so much sweeter than anyone else could, even if a wary silence stretched between them. When Deborah realized he wasn't going to say anything else, she offered him the cookie tin. "I — I brought you some of those brownies you always liked," she said with her best smile. "The kind with the peppermint patties in them."
Noah took the tin but he didn't open it. Sweat was dribbling from beneath his straw hat down his cheeks, but she didn't dare wipe it off the way she used to.
"Why'd you come here?" he asked. "It's a long trip from Coldstream."
Deborah winced. He was asking the questions she didn't want to answer — but she might as well state her case. "I made a big mistake, breaking off our engagement, Noah," she murmured, holding his intense brown-eyed gaze. "I'm hoping we can — hoping you'll give me the chance to make up for my impulsive decision. I'm sorry for those things I said. Can you forgive me? Please?"
His eyes widened. When someone asked for forgiveness, the Old Order ways demanded an answer, or at least an effort toward reconciliation. "I'll have to think about it," he replied tersely. "Why would I want to court you again, after you shot me down like a tin can off a fence?"
Deborah turned so Noah wouldn't see her eyes filling with tears. Their conversation wasn't going well at all, but she had to get past this roadblock. She had nowhere else to go, and no way to get there. "I was wrong to doubt you, Noah," she whispered. "I got too impatient, wanting answers — that house with a rose trellis we'd talked about — before you were ready to provide them."
"How'd you get that bruise on your neck?"
As her hand flew to the mark her collarless cape dress couldn't conceal, Deborah realized how guilty she must look. "I fell."
She closed her eyes against the memory of how Isaac Chupp had grabbed her in anger because she'd called the sheriff. It wasn't a lie — she had fallen after the bishop's son had shoved her into a ditch.
But she couldn't start down that conversational trail yet. Noah would want nothing more to do with her if she told him of the events that had led to her leaving Coldstream this morning after her dat had ordered her out of the house.
Noah cleared his throat as though he didn't believe her. He glanced at her suitcase. "How long do you figure to stay?"
Deborah swallowed hard. She hadn't been here ten minutes, yet Noah sounded ready to be rid of her. "This is such a pretty place," she hedged, gazing out over the grassy hills that were dotted with trees and wildflowers. "And you're planning to provide apartments? And open a produce stand? Your mamm and aunts are the perfect women for running those businesses."
Noah let out a humorless laugh. "Mamm, Rosetta, and Christine love it here," he replied. "Me? I'm not seeing Promise Lodge as the Eden they made it out to be when they declared we were all moving. But there's no going back."
Deborah closed her eyes. Noah's impatient tone suggested that he'd already written her off.
"There's no lack of work to keep me busy here, and to keep my mind off how things went sour between us." He let out a long sigh. "I suppose that's one gut thing."
The pain in Noah's eyes sliced into Deborah's soul. She'd had no idea how badly she'd hurt him, or of the bridges she'd burned by so recklessly ending their engagement. "I'm so sorry," she said in a tremulous voice. "I —"
"Jah, so you've said."
"— had no idea what I was tearing apart when I thought I wanted to —"
"It was my whole life you tore apart, girl," Noah blurted. "It'll never go back together the way it used to be. Why would I take a chance on getting my heart ripped out again?"
Deborah hung her head. Noah's words sounded so final. It seemed her best option was to use a phone here at Promise Lodge to call that English driver's cell phone before he got any farther down the road. But she had no way to pay him, and no place else to go now that her dat had cast her out.
"I've got this plowing to finish," Noah said, gesturing toward the Belgian that was standing in the partially tilled garden plot. "You'd best go on up to the lodge. At least Phoebe and Laura will be glad to see you."
* * *
As Deborah trudged toward the buildings, her shoulders slumped and shuddering, Noah's heart thudded. She'd never been much good at lying. Her cheeks flushed and her pretty green eyes clouded over — not that she'd ever really lied, that he knew of. But she'd dodged his questions a time or two during their courtship, and she hadn't told him anything he needed to know just now.
In that respect, Deborah was a lot like Mamm and his aunts. They minimized problems and forged ahead without thinking everything through, as they'd done when they'd sold their three farms, pooling their money to buy this abandoned church camp. Women were good at getting themselves into situations men found totally impractical. So now he was plowing and painting at Promise Lodge instead of continuing his welding apprenticeship with Deborah's dat, Preacher Eli Peterscheim — not that he'd wanted to remain in Coldstream after Deborah had broken his heart.
Excited barking made Noah sigh. His Border Collie, Queenie, was running up from the pasture to greet Deborah as though the prodigal daughter had come home. "Traitor," Noah murmured, watching the dog wag her fluffy tail while Deborah stroked her black head and ears.
Instinct told Noah to set the canister down, but his wistful memories were stronger. As he lifted the lid, scents of mint and chocolate brought back the days he and Deborah had spent together planning their future. Three brownies later, he kicked himself for caving in to sentiment, to the idea that Deborah had baked them just for him. Her brownies were only a temporary fix, a Band-Aid on a gaping emotional wound.
"We've got a long row to hoe, Buck," he muttered to the Belgian as he stepped up onto the plow platform. "Geddap, fella."
As the muscled horse pulled him around the end of the plot, Noah watched his cousins, Laura and Phoebe Hershberger, rush out the lodge door to greet Deborah. Their happy cries drifted out to him and he envied the way they took her into their arms, welcoming her so excitedly. Once upon a time he'd hugged her with the same enthusiasm, believing he could find no finer young woman on God's earth — believing the Lord had created Deborah Peterscheim especially for him. He'd loved her all his life. He'd never had eyes for anyone else.
But Deborah's cruel, unexpected words still rang in his head. It's been more than a year, Noah. I thought we'd be married by now, in our home and starting our family. Maybe you don't love me enough. Maybe our engagement is a big mistake.
How could he possibly have responded to those words? What was the right answer, when the young woman to whom he'd given his heart had implied that he didn't love her enough and couldn't make her dreams come true fast enough? Hadn't she realized that he couldn't support a wife and a family before he finished his welding apprenticeship and found a steady job?
It made no sense. And to add grease to the fire, a short time later his mamm had announced they were pulling up stakes in Coldstream to move to Promise. While he agreed with Mamm and her sisters that Bishop Obadiah Chupp's attitude had become intolerable, he'd obviously underestimated the depth of their disagreement with the bishop's opinions. And who had ever heard of women starting a new colony? Why had Mamm and her sisters ever thought they could make it work?
Noah exhaled to release his rising resentment but then his anger came at him from a different direction. Who had grabbed Deborah's neck hard enough to leave a bruise in the shape of a purple handprint? True enough, her dat had a temper when he got frustrated, but had he slapped her around? If so, what had gentle Deborah done to provoke him?
What if it wasn't her dat? But then, why had she been standing close enough for any other fellow to touch her? Unless ...
Noah finished the plowing. His stomach churned with suspicion as he unhooked Buck and led him behind the stable. What if Deborah had ended their engagement because another guy had caught her eye? And if that was the case, how long had that been going on? Had she fled Coldstream to kiss up to him because she'd been mistreated? Or had she gone astray?
Noah led the horse into the corral and topped off the water trough. The steady pounding coming from the barn told him that either his brother or Preacher Amos was inside. Until new families arrived, they were the only three men at Promise Lodge, and he felt more like talking with one of them than subjecting himself to the hens in the lodge — not to mention facing Deborah again so soon.
As Noah entered the shadowy structure, where cracks in the weathered lumber allowed some daylight through, his older brother, Roman, looked up from the stanchion he was constructing. When this property had been a church camp, riding horses, tack, and hay had been stored here, so he and Amos were renovating it into a dairy barn for Aunt Christine's Holstein herd. After her husband died last fall, Roman had taken over the milking and the care of the cows.
"Problem?" Roman asked. "By the look on your face, your mouth was open when a bird flew over."
Noah grimaced. "Deborah's here. Begging for my forgiveness."
His brother's eyebrows shot up. "And you said —?"
He thrust the canister at Roman and then walked around, checking out the progress on the remodeling. "I told her I wanted no part of courting her again."
"Gut answer! Amos brought five more letters from the post office this morning, from families wanting to come to Promise Lodge," his brother said in an excited voice. "Three of those families have daughters. They're looking for affordable land and fresh bloodlines to marry into. So here we are, brother. The answer to their prayers, right?" Roman pried off the canister lid, inhaled deeply, and then stuffed a brownie into his mouth.
Noah sighed, allowing the thrum of the agitator in the bulk milk tank to fill the silence. Before fall, they needed to construct a separate stable for their horses, and within the next week or two they'd have to build a roadside stand where the girls could sell their produce. So much work, so little time.
"Still can't argue that Deborah's brownies are the best, though," Roman remarked. "Looks like you've eaten a few."
"Jah, they were a peace offering. But once the sugar wears off, you're only hungrier for something more substantial."
Roman chortled. "That's where these new girls might be just the ticket. But if Deborah has asked you to forgive her, you know Mamm and the aunts will side with her," he pointed out. "And Preacher Amos'll be reminding you about that seventy-times-seven thing, when it comes to letting go of old grudges. Even if you don't want to marry her anymore, he'll tell you to forgive and forget."
It was true. Preacher Amos was an admirable man, even if he'd come to Promise Lodge mostly because he was a widower and he had his eye on Mamm. He was more laid-back than Preacher Eli or Bishop Obadiah Chupp, but he insisted on following the rules Jesus had taught. There would be no wiggling out of forgiving Deborah, no crying foul just because she'd jilted him. Forgiveness was the cornerstone of the Old Order faith. They had both joined the church last year, so he couldn't ignore Christ's most important commandment: Love one another.
Excerpted from Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard. Copyright © 2016 Charlotte Hubbard. 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
Excellent read. Can't wait till next one.
A different story but very interesting and a good read. This is quite a different story involving the Amish but what an interesting one it is. There are some different personalities that come to Promise Lodge to see if they'd be interested in moving there and these will keep you reading and wondering. I have read some of Charlotte's other books and find this just as good as those. I can recommend this as great book with a very interesting story.
Quite a moving story about three Amish sisters and an Amish preacher who leave their district to start a new colony. As Old Order Amish, they were all pushing the boundaries in their endeavor. I enjoyed all the interaction between the sisters and their sons and daughters, the preacher, the Mennonite neighbor, and the families who came to check out the new colony. There were some very heartrending scenes, some times of hilarity, a mix of romance, and some wonderful lessons about forgiveness. When the author described their meals, my mouth practically watered. For those who enjoy cooking, there are some recipes in the back of the book of some of their special dishes. Promise Lodge sounded like a wonderful place for individuals or families to go for a fresh start. I recommend the book to all who enjoy great Amish stories. I would not exactly consider this a typical Amish story but it is well worth the time spent reading it.
Promise Lodge is the first in a brand new series for Charlotte Hubbard. Charlotte has written another book that is so captivating. Characters that will surely grab hold of you right from the start and not let go until the very end. So be sure to grab your glass of sweet tea as you enjoy this most wonderful book. A book that is full of faith, hope, second chances. Be sure to order your copy of Promise Lodge today. 5 stars.
I just finished the first book in Charlotte Hubbard’s new series, and now I can’t wait for the next. I’m also ready to rent a room here, and stay forever, love the word pictures here, and the story was so good! Can you imagine being attacked, and because you look a mess you father tells you to leave, no explaining from you, just go. When the book opens Deborah has taken a chance and headed to Promise Lodge, a new plain settlement that her former boyfriend’s mother and sisters have purchased and are fixing it up for new families. Deborah broke up with Noah, he had kept her on the fence to long, and she was tired of waiting for him to marry her. What happens when she shows up and finds him, he is trying to forget her, and wonders what she is doing there. Will Deborah’s secrets come out, and will the people here understand, when her own father didn’t. Where will she go and what is going to happen to her? There are some sweet chuckles here, and was ready to sit down and eat the fabulous meals that were described. There is also so violence and you wonder how long it is going to go on, and how will they ever stop it. Yes they stop it once, and that is quite funny, but will Deborah have to leave to end the threat to this community. We wish for the best, and feel the tension of evil, but will peace come, and more will be revealed in the next book. I really enjoyed this page-turner! I received this book through the author, and was not required to give a positive review.
PROMISE LODGE is the first book in Ms. Hubbard's new series. Three older ladies have decided to start their own Amish community in Missouri, but they have two single young men and a widower preacher with them. They'd bought an old church camp and have big dreams. Deborah broke up with one of the son's Noah, when he wouldn't marry her as fast as she wanted. He was being cautious, wanting to have enough to start a life together while she couldn't care less. She didn't get her way so she broke up, then made some bad choices and got kicked out, and now expects Noah to take up where they left off. He's understandably hesitant. I related to Noah more than to Deborah as he is a lot like me. He likes to think things through, and proceed with caution once things are settled. Getting hurt as he did would cause me to have second and third thoughts too. A realistic story that will appeal to fans of Amish romance and of Ms. Hubbard. Don't miss the first book in this promising new series.
This new series by Charlotte Hubbard promises to be an enjoyable one. I was surprised how openly and honestly the problem of abuse was dealt with in Amish circles and how women's roles were depicted in a similarly honest and frank manner. I think sometimes we see their lives and peaceful, happy and religious in every way. It was good to read that life is not always rosy for them, either. After trials in the Coldstream settlement, Rosetta and Mattie find an old abandoned camping area and lodge and decide to start their own settlement taking along some family and friends to help them start out. Noah, whose mother Mattie makes plans for the new settlement comes with her having been disappointed by his fiance and needs to find peace in his life again. His biggest surprise is when Deborah appears at Promise Lodge also wanting a new start for reasons not clear to Noah. This book was really different than other Amish books I have read. It was a refreshing and honest view of their lives, showing that they, too, have problems to deal with and to overcome. As the group of new settlers come to realize their dreams, twists and turns are not yet gone from life and they learn that together, as community and friends they become stronger. I know that I will be anxiously awaiting book 2 in this series. I highly recommend this book! I received a copy of this book from the Publisher for my honest review which I have given.
Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard is set in Promise, Missouri. Mattie Schwartz, Christine Hershberger, and Rosetta Bender needed to get away from their town (Coldstream) and Bishop Obadiah (who tolerates violence against wives and turns a blind eye to his son’s activities). They bought tan old abandoned church camp and have started the Promise Lodge Colony (a place for a fresh start). They are advertising for other Mennonite and Amish people to come and join them. Everyone is working hard to the buildings and grounds up to date (as well as put in a vegetable garden and plant crops). Noah Schwartz (Mattie’s son) is glad to get away because his fiancé, Deborah Peterscheim broke off their engagement. Then Deborah shows up at Promise. Her father threw her out and she regrets her decision to break off her engagement to Noah. Will Deborah be able to show Noah that she has changed and regrets her actions? Can Noah ever trust Deborah again? Read Promise Lodge to see who wants a fresh start at Promise! I enjoyed reading Promise Lodge. It is a nice, easy to read novel that is heartwarming. The setting sounded just lovely, and I liked all the characters (especially the elderly sisters that come to lodge at the house). It is a little too preachy (a lot of scripture quotes), but I liked the theme of forgiveness and God’s will. I give Promise Lodge 4 out of 5 stars (which means I liked it). It is the first book of a new series by Charlotte Hubbard and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I received a complimentary copy of Promise Lodge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Promise Lodge tells the story of Rosetta Bender, Mattie Schwartz, and Christina Hershberger, three Amish sisters who leave their current community in order to start a new settlement. They, their families, and Pastor Amos set out to bring together both Amish and Mennonite families and singles. I love the way the book dealt with the issues of spousal abuse, women being subservient to men, and the consequences from ones actions. Ms. Hubbard does a wonderful job in showing these women as strong characters yet when it counts they do make sure to defer to Pastor Amos and the other men. While not well known, abuse and misconduct do occur in the Amish faith just as in the world views. Faith, hope, forgiveness, and redemption were themes interwoven throughout. The story line was wonderfully written. The characters were well developed. Their feelings of fear, misgiving, confusion, anger, and love really shine in the story. I felt like I was living at Promise Lodge. It sounds like a paradise starting to happen. The Amish help one another and become an asset to their communities in most cases. I look forward to the next in the series to see where Ms. Hubbard will take us next..