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Restless Hearts

Restless Hearts

4.1 17
by Marta Perry

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A search for her roots brought midwife Fiona Flanagan to Pennsylvania Dutch country—and made her wonder whether she should turn back. The area's mixture of Amish and English culture confused her, and her first encounter with local police chief Ted Rittenhouse didn't help. he'd thought she was breaking into her own office!

Despite the misunderstanding,


A search for her roots brought midwife Fiona Flanagan to Pennsylvania Dutch country—and made her wonder whether she should turn back. The area's mixture of Amish and English culture confused her, and her first encounter with local police chief Ted Rittenhouse didn't help. he'd thought she was breaking into her own office!

Despite the misunderstanding, Fiona could see that Ted's tough-as-nails exterior hid a kind soul—one caught between two worlds, seeking a place to belong. She felt the same, but trusting him with her heart would require the biggest step of faith she had ever taken.

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Steeple Hill Love Inspired
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Flanagans , #6
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She was lost in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Fiona Flanagan peered through her windshield, trying to decipher which of the narrow roads the tilted signpost pointed to. Maybe this wasn't really the wilds, but the only living creature she'd encountered in the last fifteen minutes was the brown-and-white cow that stared mournfully at her from its pasture next to the road.

Clearly the cow wasn't going to help. She frowned down at the map drawn by one of her numerous Flanagan cousins, and decided that squiggly line probably meant she should turn right.

She could always phone her cousin Gabe, but she shrank from having to admit she couldn't follow a few simple directions. Both he and his wife had volunteered to drive her or to get one of his siblings to drive her, but she'd insisted she could do this herself.

The truth was that she'd spent the past two weeks feeling overwhelmed by the open friendliness offered by these relatives she'd never met before. She'd spent so many years feeling like an outsider in her father's house that she didn't know how to take this quick acceptance.

The pastures on either side of the road gave way to fields of cornstalks, yellow and brown in October. Maybe that was a sign that she was approaching civ-ilization. Or not. She could find her way around her native San Francisco blindfolded, but the Pennsylvania countryside was another story.

The road rounded a bend and there, quite suddenly, was a cluster of houses and buildings that had to be the elusive hamlet she'd been seeking. Crossroads, the village was called, and it literally was a crossroads, a collection of dwellings grown up around the point at which two of the narrow blacktop roads crossed.

Relieved, she slowed the car, searching for some-thing that might be a For Sale sign. The real estate agent with whom she'd begun her search had deserted her when he couldn't interest her in any of the sterile, bland, modern buildings he'd shown her on the outskirts of the busy small city of Suffolk. But she didn't want sub-urban, she wanted the country. She had a vision of her practice as a nurse-midwife in a small community where she'd find a place to call home.

Through the gathering dusk she could see the glow of house lights in the next block. But most of the village's few businesses were already closed. She drove by a one-pump service station, open, and a minuscule post office, closed. The Penn Dutch Diner had a few lights on, but only five cars graced its parking lot.

The Crossroads General Store, also closed, sat com-fortably on her right, boasting a display of harness and tack in one window and an arrangement of what had to be genuine Amish quilts in the other. And there, next to it, was the sign she'd searched for: For Sale.

She drew up in front of the house. It had probably once been a charming Victorian, but now it sagged sadly, as if ashamed of such signs of neglect as cracked windows and peeling paint. But it had a wide, welcom-ing front porch, with windows on either side of the door, and a second floor that could become a cozy apartment above her practice.

For the first time in days of searching, excitement bubbled along her nerves. This might be it. If she squinted, she could picture the porch bright with autumn flowers in window boxes, a calico cat curled in the seat of a wicker rocker, and a neat brass plate beside the front door: Fiona Flanagan, Nurse-Midwife.

Home. The word echoed in her mind, setting up a sweet resonance. Home.

She slid out of the car, taking the penlight from her bag. Tomorrow she could get the key from the reluctant real estate agent, but she'd at least get a glimpse inside in the meantime. She hurried up the three steps to the porch, avoiding a nasty gap in the boards, and ap-proached the window on the left.

The feeble gleam of the penlight combined with the dirt on the window to thwart her ability to see inside. She rubbed furiously at the glass with a tissue. At a minimum she needed a waiting room, office and exam room, and if—

"What do you think you're doing?" A gruff voice barked out the question, and the beam of a powerful light hit her like a blow, freezing her in place. "Well? Turn around and let me see you."

Heart thudding, she turned slowly, the penlight falling from suddenly nerveless fingers. "I was just l-looking."

Great. She sounded guilty even to herself.

The tall, broad silhouette loomed to enormous pro-portions with the torchlight in her eyes. She caught a glimpse of some metallic official insignia on the car that was pulled up in front of hers.

The man must have realized that the light was blinding her because he lowered the beam fractionally. "Come down off the porch."

She scrabbled for the wandering penlight, grabbed it and hurried down the steps to the street, trying to pull herself together. Really, she was overreacting. The man couldn't be as big and menacing as she was imagining.

But at ground level with him, she realized that her imagination wasn't really that far off. He must have stood well over six feet, with a solid bulk that suggested he was as immovable as one of the nearby hills. In the dim light, she made out a craggy face that looked as if it had been carved from rock. A badge glinted on his chest.

She rushed to explain. "Really, I didn't mean any harm. I understand this building is for sale, and I just wanted to have a quick look. I can come back tomorrow with the real estate agent."

She turned toward her car. Somehow, without giving the impression that the mountain had moved, the man managed to be between her and the vehicle.

Her heart began to pound against her ribs. She was alone in a strange place, with a man who was equally strange, and her cell phone was in her handbag, which lay unhelpfully on the front seat of the car she couldn't reach.

"Not so fast," he rumbled. "Let's see some identifi-cation, please."

At least she thought he said please—that slow rumble was a little difficult to distinguish. She could make out the insignia on his badge now, and her heart sank.

Crossroads Township Police. Why couldn't she have fallen into the hands of a nice, professional State Trooper, instead of a village cop who probably had an innate suspicion of strangers?

"My driver's license is in my car," she pointed out. Wordlessly, he stood back for her to pass him and then followed her closely enough to open the door before she could reach the handle. She grabbed her wallet, pulling out the California driver's license and handing it to him.

"Ca-li-for-ni-a." He seemed to pronounce all of the syllables separately.

"Yes, California." Nerves edged her voice. "Is that a problem, Officer?"

She snapped her mouth shut before she could say anything else. Don't make him angry. Never argue with a man who's wearing a large badge on his chest.

"Could be."

She blinked. She almost thought there was a thread of humor in the words.

He handed the ID back. "What brings you to Cross-roads Township, Ms. Flanagan?"

"I'm looking for a house to buy. Someone from the real estate office mentioned this place. I got a little lost, or I'd have been here earlier."

She shifted her weight uneasily from one foot to the other as she said the words. That steady stare made her nervous. He couldn't really detain her for looking in a window, could he?

She looked up, considering saying that, and recon-sidered at the sight of a pair of intense blue eyes in a stolid face made up entirely of planes. Don't say anything to antagonize him.

"I see." He invested the two words with a world of doubt. "You have anyone locally who can vouch for you?"

Finally she realized what she should have sooner. Of course she had someone to vouch for her. She had a whole raft of cousins. Family. Not a word that usually had much warmth for her, but maybe now—

Ted Rittenhouse saw the relief that flooded the woman's face. She'd obviously come up with a solution she thought would satisfy him. "I'm staying with a cousin, Gabe Flanagan." She was so relieved that the words tripped over each other. She snatched a cell phone from her bag. "Look, you can call him. He'll vouch for me. Here's my cell phone. You can use it."

"Seems to me I've heard of those newfangled gadgets," he said dryly, pulling his own cell phone from his uniform pocket. "You have his number?"

Even in the dim light provided by the dome lamp of her car, he could see the color that flooded her fair skin at that. He assessed her while he punched in the number she gave him. Slim, erect, with a mane of strawberry-blond hair pulled back from a heart-shaped face.

A pair of intelligent gray eyes met his directly, in spite of the embarrassment that heightened her color. Something about the cut of her tan slacks and corduroy jacket suggested a bit more sophistication than was usually found in Crossroads Township, where the standard attire was jeans, except for the Plain People.

"Mr. Flanagan? This is Ted Rittenhouse, Crossroads Township Police. I've got a young lady here who says she's staying with you. Fiona Flanagan, her name is."

"Fiona? She's my cousin." Quick concern filled the man's voice, wiping away some of Ted Rittenhouse's suspicion. Potential housebreakers didn't usually come equipped with respectable-sounding relatives. "Has she had a car accident? What's wrong?"

"Nothing wrong. She maybe got a little lost is all. I'll guide her back to your place all right." The Penn-sylvania Dutch cadence, wiped from his voice during his years in the city, had come back the instant he'd moved back home to Crossroads. "If you'll just give me directions, ."

As Flanagan gave him the directions, Ted realized he knew exactly where that farm was. The next township over, but he knew most of the back roads and landmarks in the county, even if that area wasn't his jurisdiction. Somehow you never forget the land that meant home when you were a kid. Maybe that was especially true of a place like this, where the same families had owned farms for generations.

When he slid the phone back in his pocket, he realized Ms. Flanagan was watching him with wariness in those clear eyes.

Meet the Author

Marta Perry realized she wanted to be a writer at age eight, when she read her first Nancy Drew novel. A lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania and her own Pennsylvania Dutch roots led Marta to the books she writes now about the Amish. When she’s not writing, Marta is active in the life of her church and enjoys traveling and spending time with her three children and six beautiful grandchildren. Visit her online at www.martaperry.com.

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Restless Hearts (Flanagans Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. I really enjoy Marta Perry's books.
Bookworm_Debbie More than 1 year ago
This is a heartwarming Christian romance! This is the first book that Marta Perry wrote that I have ever written. I will definitely be looking for her other books. She has created an incredible blend of Amish and English characters. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how the people from the two different cultures interacted with each other. As Fiona Flanagan was trying to come to an understanding of the Amish was of life it was very clearly and simply explained so that as an English reader I was also able to understand. I really enjoyed the paths that both Fiona and Ted Rittenhouse travelled down to work out issues from their pasts. The questions of who do you trust and how do you reach a point of feeling like you belong are things most of us face at some point or another in our lives. The way that Marta Perry approached them and walked the main characters through them was fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
J_Augustine More than 1 year ago
Road To Romance A search for her roots brought midwife Fiona Flanagan to Pennsylvania Dutch country – and made her wonder whether she should turn back. The area's mixture of Amish and English culture confused her, and her first encounter with local police chief Ted Rittenhouse didn't help. He'd though she was breaking into her own office! Despite the misunderstanding, Fiona could see that Ted's tough-as-nails exterior hid a kind soul – one caught between two worlds, seeking a place to belong. She felt the same, but trusting him with her heart would require the biggest step of faith she had ever taken. A nice easy read. I had a cold, quiet, snowy afternoon so I sat down and read this book in about 2 hours. There is a little mystery but its not quite as strong as in Marta Perry's Brotherhood Of The Raven series. This book is more about family tensions, learning to trust, and finding your place in God's will even when it takes you in a direction people (family) don't quite agree with. All the characters in this book, even when misguided, try to protect and value family. These days it seems like the family unit and extended family get lost somewhere in the rush-rush of life, not so in Restless Hearts. On the whole this was an enjoyable light read with a touch of mystery. Tell Tale Book Reviews (my blog) gives Restless Hearts a 2.5 Bark Rating (Good! + or 3 Stars) Note: This is book 6 in The Flanagan's Series. This is the first one I read. It can be read alone but I think it would help to read them in order.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jean8 More than 1 year ago
The best book I read this summer could not put it down. A must read
debbie67 More than 1 year ago
I read this story in one afternoon. It's easy to get into and held my attention. I liked the characters and found it to be very entertaining.
TheElizabethP More than 1 year ago
I was expecting a lot more from this one. But in retrospect, it was a nice story about Fiona coming to a place to meet her family and relying on her faith in God. Having her materinal family not except her in the beginning will break your heart, but as the other characters figure out their own paths, she begins to figure hers.
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SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
I got a free gift from Love Inspired the other day, a larger print version of Restless Hearts by Marta Perry. So when the guys sat down to watch the soccer match (Liverpool won) I curled up to nurse the dregs of a day-long headache and quietly read. I found that my reading rate, with headache, is approximately one Love Inspired romance per soccer match, but perhaps I'd have to read a few more samples to confirm that. Unfortunately, even though their prices are really good, and only a dollar extra for the larger print, my books budget is currently dead in the water. I guess the experiment will have to wait a while. Restless Hearts was a pleasant way to end my day. I was slightly dubious about yet another book set in Amish country-why do I see so many of them in the stores? But the characters were interesting, particularly as the protagonist shared most of my pre- and misconceptions about the culture. I learned things I hadn't known about the Pennsylvania Dutch. And I enjoyed the insights into relationships, the misunderstandings of caring people that turn into bitter anger, and the hope that heals. The book is clearly a Christian novel, but I was pleasantly surprised by how naturally it was written. I've read other Christian novels that assume I'll agree with everything said, or that paint any non-Christian as hopeless sinner or saint-about-to-be-redeemed. In Restless Hearts the faith of the characters was just a part of how they felt. It came into their despair as much as their hope, and led to questions answered by the lessons of life. Fiona comes to her father's family in Pennsylvania, with secrets about her mother and her past. The sudden, accidental revelation of some of those secrets threatens to destroy her hopes of being a midwife to the Amish. Meanwhile the local policeman has secrets of his own, and. Well, it is a romance. I enjoyed the book. I'm not sure what qualified me for a free gift, let alone a larger print free gift-oh dear, am I getting old? But I did enjoy it. And the guys enjoyed the soccer. Did I mention, Liverpool won!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago