“The love and warmth of the holiday season shines brightly in this charming trio.”
At the heart of winter’s darkness is the joyous glow of the Christmas season. In this love-filled holiday collection, warm yourself with the peaceful light of Plain gifts.
SNOW SHINE ON ICE MOUNTAIN
When staid Naomi Gish’s mischievous father hires strapping Gray Fisher at their candle shop for the season, she’s positive the old man has an ulterior motive. She doesn’t need help—but as Gray learns the craft of candle making, Naomi learns that love is not only possible, but God’s most precious gift.
A HONEYBEE CHRISTMAS
Of all the sacrifices Bitsy Kiem made to raise her three nieces Amish, giving up her Englisch life was the only thing she missed. With the girls married now, she has a chance to kick up her heels this Christmas—unless widowed Yost Weaver can convince her that Plain love is a flame that will never go out.
THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE
Lisa Jones Baker
Blessing those in need at Christmastime is one of Lydia’s favorite traditions. But without her newly married sister’s help this year, the task seems daunting—until handsome Mennonite John King shows her that hands joined to do good may unite hearts, as well.
“These three very different stories offer the same comforting holiday message: love can and does conquer all.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Kelly Long is the author of the acclaimed Amish Patch of Heaven series and has been a finalist for the coveted Carol Award from the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel Lily's Wedding Quilt was a Goodreads Favorite Book of the Year in 2011. Born and raised in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, she’s been married for 28 years. Please visit her on Facebook: Fans of Kelly Long.
Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA nominated and award-winning author of the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill and The Honeybee Sisters series, as well as a number of novellas. Novels in her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series have been RITA® Award and RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award finalists. Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for inspirational fiction and Huckleberry Hearts was named a Booklist Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Book of the Year. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people. She and her husband have been married for thirty-four years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and seven adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten. Please visit her online at www.JenniferBeckstrand.com
Lisa Jones Baker grew up near a small Amish town in Illinois that she frequented with her family on weekends. She's also a dog lover and a fan of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she spent nearly two decades. Lisa graduated from Illinois State University with a French major, has been on 5 out of 7 continents, and considers her parents the best in the world. Raised in a Christian home, Lisa has always been blessed with love and support. She enjoys hearing from readers at LisaJonesBaker.com.
Read an Excerpt
December Ice Mountain, Pennsylvania
"I tell you, Fater — it has to stop." Twenty-three-year-old Naomi Gish rarely raised her voice, but she'd had it up to her neck with her daed's manner of "business."
Bud Gish patted her hand in a soothing manner. "Ach, now, now ... my maedel, do not trouble yourself." He gave a wheezing laugh. "Anyone would think you believe I'm ninety instead of a spry eighty-two."
"Eighty-three," Naomi said dryly, regaining her composure. "And far too auld to be running moonshine up and down this mountain."
"We've been over this before, Naomi. What would you have me do instead? His gnarled hand swept the orderly array of aromatic wax vats and dripping candles. "It's you who's the art maker here."
She couldn't deny the truth in what he said. Her mamm had taught her as a little girl to love the wax, to see each candle as special, providing the light by which to do Derr Herr's work.
* * *
She turned her thoughts back to the situation at hand and looked appealingly at her daed. "There is much that you could help me with here in the shop, Fater ... especially during this busy winter season." She made her voice sound wistful and the dear wrinkled face before her suddenly brightened.
"So, you're needing help in the shop?" he asked.
"Jah, but I —"
She turned when the small bell over the shop door rang out with cheer. Naomi glanced up and then suppressed a groan. Amelia Troyer ... one of the most committed gossips on Ice Mountain ... and always too glad to point out that I'm not yet married. "Frau Troyer, how are you?" Naomi kept her voice cordial, noticing that her daed had slipped discreetly through the burgundy curtain that led to their living space. Smart man ...
Naomi longed for her own escape when Amelia began to tout the beauty of her daughter, Iris.
"I know she certainly is lovely," Naomi agreed. On the outside ... on the inside Iris is as mean as a pit of rattlers, probably as mean as her mother ...
"That's a dozen of the white candles." Frau Troyer's words recalled Naomi back sharply to the moment.
"Of course," Naomi murmured suitably and prayed that Gott would forgive her ill thoughts of the Troyer women. ...
* * *
"So, will you do it, buwe?"
Gray raised a brow as he considered Bud Gish's offer. The auld man, carrying a lit lantern and looking like he had the world by the tail, had cornered him ten minutes ago at Ben Kauffmann's general store and practically dragged him into a stray canned goods closet. Gray had thought the man narrisch but he had to admit, Bud did present an intriguing, if risky, proposition.
"You want me to work in the candle shop, and use that as a cover for delivering moonshine?" Gray clarified.
"Right!" Bud grinned. "Just remember, you have to keep my dochder in the dark, if you take my meaning."
"That might be a problem then. I've heard it said that she's smart. And a man has a tough time hiding anything from a smart woman."
Gray watched Bud's chest puff out with pride. "Jah, she is smart."
"Then how am I going to pull this off without her knowing?"
Bud leaned close and Gray smelled a confusing combination of liniment and bologna. "I've heard it said, Gray, that you have a way with the women."
Gray had to swallow a laugh at Bud's confidence. True, he had a way with women — a reputation he wasn't exactly proud of. But this was staid, frosty Naomi Gish. His instincts told him he'd probably get tossed out on his ear the moment he stepped through the candle shop door. He'd observed her on occasion at church service and other gatherings — her dark brown eyes and plain brown hair did little to add charm to her serious mouth and straight back.
But ... there were some upsides to the idea. The job of runnin' 'shine definitely appealed; he was intrigued by the dangers associated with the practice ... And he'd also learn the art of candle making, which he privately appreciated ... not that he'd ever tell Naomi or Bud or anyone else. Ultimately, it was the challenge of pulling a bit of wool over Naomi's brown eyes that had tipped his decision. "I'll take the job," he said, grinning.
Bud slapped Gray on the back, the lantern in his hand almost going out. "I knew I could count on you."
Gray nodded, clasping Bud's hand to seal the deal. All in all, it was a bargain with a lot of promise ...
* * *
After the prolonged transaction with Frau Troyer, Naomi went inside and began setting the table. She was putting out the warmed plates when her fater returned through the back door. His wrinkled cheeks were rosy and his blue eyes were bright, which immediately put her on guard.
"Daed, where have you been?" she asked.
"Out and about. What's for supper? I'm starved."
"Beef brisket ..." she replied slowly, trying to puzzle out why he seemed so happy.
"Sounds gut ... And I want you to know that I gave some thought to what you said earlier. I'm going to do as you ask and relax here at home. No more runnin' 'shine for me ..." He started to sit at the table when he snapped his fingers. "Ach, dochder, and I nearly forgot. I hired Grayson Fisher to help you in the shop until after Second Christmas."
"Yep ... I will not be runnin' —"
"Nee ... about Grayson Fisher!"
"Hmmmm ... ach, jah, the buwe is due to start tomorrow."
"But I —"
"It'll be fine. He's a gut worker. You'll see." He sat down and picked up his fork. "Now can we dish up? I'm starvin'."
Still stunned, Naomi brought the food to the table mechanically. Grayson Fisher was the stuff of which a woman's secret dreams were made, and she wasn't above admitting that she'd sometimes stolen a glance at the man. But to have him in the shop ... so very close ... How was she supposed to focus on her work with him in the shop? He was attractive enough from a distance, and not just his good looks. There was something about him, something mesmerizing and a bit ... dangerous. As if he would sweep her off her feet, only to let her crash to the ground, all without blinking an eye.
She couldn't allow that. She'd kept men at a distance for years, not wanting someone who simply thought she would be a gut housekeeper or a gut potential stepmother. But Grayson Fisher had enough of a reputation for her to know that she had to keep him very, very far away. I will simply tell him that I don't need his help ...
Yet she had to struggle to silence the quiet voice inside of her that said denying him might not be so easy.
* * *
"Mmmm, Gray ... where is your mind this nacht?"
Iris Troyer linked her arms around his neck and he stared down into her pretty face. She'd convinced her mamm that she was delivering quilt squares when she was actually making out with him in the confines of his cold barn.
He tried to focus when she gave an insipid giggle, then furrowed his brow in thought. Suddenly, he was bored of pretty girls; the ones who wanted his kiss only because it meant something to them for the moment. He gently lowered Iris's arms, first one, then the other, and set her away from him.
"I expect I'm not feeling myself tonight. Sorry, sweetheart."
She frowned, tilting her full lips into a downward slant, one that was meant to express her displeasure but to also offer him a second chance. He remained unaffected. Instead, he recalled Bud Gish's words from earlier in the day — A smart woman ... Naomi was someone whose brain outmatched her beauty. Maybe when he was around her, he wouldn't be plagued by these memories of snakes and pain and loss ...
He saw Iris hovering near the barn door. "I'm leaving now, Gray."
Distracted, he nodded. "I'll walk you home —"
"Don't bother," she huffed and left.
He should go after her. At the very least he should feel guilty that she was walking home alone, even though she only lived two houses down. But he didn't. It wasn't the first time Iris had gone home by herself, usually at her insistence. He rubbed his arm. It hadn't taken him long to figure out that Iris was only interested in him for one thing — and he gladly gave it to her. All the pretty women saw him as someone to have fun with ... but not to take home to their parents, and definitely not worth considering having a future with. And he was okay with that. He wasn't interested in marriage either ... and if a beautiful girl threw herself at him, he would happily catch her ... then let her geh.
But not tonight. Tonight, all he could think about was his new job ... and how it would put him in close proximity with the smart, smart Naomi Gish.CHAPTER 2
The first thing she thought when she looked at him was what she always thought when she saw Grayson Fisher — he was big. He was big but he moved with a lithe grace, edging his way with ease round the high boxes of wax and the rows of dripping candles.
"Your daed hired me to give you a hand," he said and his mouth quirked as if he'd made a rueful joke. She inadvertently glanced at his limp right arm.
"I — I don't need any help, Herr Fisher." She spoke in cool tones, dragging her gaze up to his strange, rain-colored eyes.
"Gray," he said, almost absently.
"Call me Gray."
She nodded, feeling like she was being offered an intimacy and unsure if she wanted to take it. Then she told herself that she was being ridiculous — it was only his name.
"All right. Gray ... My daed is auld and set in his ways. I can manage the candle shop quite well on my own."
He half smiled, the lazy tilt of his firm lips bringing out a dimple in his cheek. "That's what your fater said you'd say."
"Well," she paused, flustered. "That's what I'm saying."
He approached the counter and leaned his left elbow on it, bending his head a bit so that she was struck anew by his handsome profile — dark hair, thick lowered lashes, a perfectly chiseled nose, and a strong jaw. Then he looked up and spoke softly. "Think of it as an early Christmas gift to a disabled man — a chance to earn some extra money and to have a temporary feeling of purpose."
"Do you not usually feel Gott's purpose in your life?"
She realized it was the wrong question when he frowned and reached out to run a finger down her pulsing wrist. "Nee — I don't. But you might be able to help me with that. What do you say, Naomi?"
He pulled his hand back and she felt a curious pounding in her chest and a sudden desire for him to touch her again. She opened her mouth slightly, appalled at her thought, and he laughed in gentle tones. "Unless, of course, you'd rather not work with a cripple ..."
She straightened her spine and took the risk of leaning closer to him, staring into the perfect gray depths of his eyes. "I am not a snob, Herr Fisher."
"Gray." He smiled, revealing white teeth and a very slight overbite that somehow made his mouth all the more appealing. "Then I'm hired?"
She swallowed hard, wondering what it would be like to have this big man in such close proximity for a gut length of time. I'll probably geh crazy ... like some lovestruck auld maid ... But suddenly, she knew she wanted him around, to give her some memories to hug to herself in her lonely bed. She stuck out her hand and he took it with a firm, left-handed shake. "You're hired."
"Danki, you won't be disappointed. I promise."
And somehow, she had the idea that there were layered meanings to his comment that left her breathless and as stirred up as hot wax ...
* * *
Gray felt himself shiver as he trudged home through the deep snow. It wasn't the cold ... Nee, it was her ... that staid, stiff-necked Naomi. After she'd hired him, she'd put him to work, first giving him a list of duties he'd be expected to perform each day when he arrived and then dealing out directions on what to do with an emergency fire. She was crisp, concise, organized ... and would probably balk like a chicken if he tried to kiss her. Kiss her ... wait, whoa, slow down here. She's going to be my boss, not some dalliance.
He hiked for a few more minutes, taking a shortcut through the tall pines, and then came upon a small cabin nestled pleasantly in the mounds of snow. He climbed the stairs, grateful, as always, for the warm glow of candlelight coming from inside. His eccentric Aenti Beth made home both a place in his mind and his heart. She'd raised him since his parents left the Amisch to divorce. His mother and father had both felt that he'd be best served by staying with the community in Beth's care. He pushed away the darker thoughts associated with his lack of control in this matter and knew he was more than grateful for his Aenti Beth. Her kindness had sustained him through his injury, though even all of her love hadn't been able to wipe away the memories.
He sighed, feeling the warmth of his breath mingle with the chill of the air; then he stamped his boots and went inside.
Aenti Beth was, as usual, cooking at the woodstove though she had a diaper-clad guinea pig balanced on each of her shoulders. Ned and Ted squealed their greetings to him and he replied in proper guinea piggish, raising his voice to imitate the two friends — "Aw ra, aw ra, aw ran!"
Aenti Beth smiled at him as he came forward to brush her elderly cheek with a kiss. Then he scratched the two pigs and went to the pump to wash his hands. He had to lift his right hand to the water and he thought inadvertently of Naomi when he touched his own wrist.
"Hope you're hungry, Gray!"
"What are we having?" he asked.
"Bacon corn chowder ... great on a cold nacht. How was the candle shop?"
Ned seemed to ask the same question, wriggling a large black nose.
"Fine — it'll be fine."
"Well, it gives you something to do besides ordering seeds in the winter — might learn a few things too."
"I might at that." He plucked at Ted's white ear and hoped there were only a few hairs in his chowder. Then he thought of what he might learn from Naomi Gish and decided that whatever it was, it would probably hold the touch of Gott and that had to be worthwhile.
* * *
Naomi nestled beneath the quilts of her bed and watched the shadows from the great pine outside her window play with the dancing fall of a light snow. She couldn't help reflecting on the day and hugged herself at the thought of being so near Gray Fisher. The man was mesmerizing, though she held no illusions that he would ever be interested in someone like her. Nee ... he deserves a delicate flower of a girl — not someone aulder than he and rather put on the shelf with the other preserves ... Then she chided herself for such a negative train of thought and pulled her pillow close. She thought she might dream of Gray Fisher that nacht, but she awoke to the dawn with nothing but the recollection of a deep and pleasant sleep in her mind. Then she reminded herself that she'd be seeing Grayson — nee, Gray — in the flesh that morning and she needed to get prepared with materials that would help her to instruct him.
She ignored the traitorous voice inside her head that whispered of hidden things that he might instruct her in, then put such foolery aside and rose to dress for the day.CHAPTER 3
He tried to concentrate. She was explaining something about scenting the wicks of certain candles with oils of lavender and rosemary, but all he could see was the confident movements of her slender hands. And all he could think about was stroking her wrist the day before, surely an intimacy, and the strange feeling of peace that had come over him — a peace that rivaled anything he'd ever experienced with a woman.
"Do you understand about straightening the wick?" Naomi asked in a no- nonsense tone, and he dragged his attention up to her dark brown eyes.
He savored her words aloud. "Straightening the wick ..." Yeah, I get it just fine, painfully fine ... "Jah, I do."
"Gut," she nodded. "Now, I should warn you that you might get burnt occasionally." She turned her right hand palm up and lifted it for him to see.
Gray raised his fingers to rub at a red mark in the center of her palm. He glanced down and didn't miss the hectic color that flooded her face at his action. But he didn't draw away. He couldn't. Touching her was like putting warm fingertips to clear ice — there was a curious melting sensation inside of him that he couldn't explain.
"It's funny," he whispered, still touching her.
"Nee ..." He felt himself flush and awkwardly tried to say what he was feeling. "It's funny how we can have scars on the outside and they can hurt but it's the wounds on the inside that give us the most problems."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Amish Christmas Candle"
Copyright © 2017 Kensington Publishing Corporation.
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.
Table of Contents
Snow Shine on Ice Mountain,
A Honeybee Christmas,
The Christmas Candle,