Saturday, March 23, 2013

Terri Blackstock does it again! -- Truth Stained Lies

How does she do it . . . over and over again???  Terri Blackstock grabs you on page one, pulls you right into the middle of a story, and doesn't let you go -- even after the last page is finished!

Truth Stained Lies may just be her very best book yet!  The characters are unforgettable, real people with gritty problems and various levels of doubt or confidence about their faith.  The story is filled with her characteristic suspense and intriguing relationships.  In addition to the main emphasis on solving the crimes, there are several other sub-plots between characters and within the characters as they deal with their individual struggles.  

The bad thing about this story -- the next book in the Moonlighters Series won't be out until early next year.  That's a long wait to see where the story takes us next!

I highly recommend this "up-all-night" nail-biter that had tears streaming down my face at the conclusion.  As always, Terri's writing is uplifting and God-honoring.  Even her "Note from the Author" at the end of the book is thought-provoking and inspiring.

Thanks to Book Sneeze for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

Cathy Cramer is a former lawyer and investigative blogger who writes commentary on local homicides. When she finds a threatening note warning her that she’s about to experience the same kind of judgment and speculation that she dishes out in her blog, Cathy writes it off as mischief … until her brother is caught in the middle of a murder investigation---the victim is his ex-wife. As her brother is tried and convicted in the media, and bloggers and commentators like her have a field day, Cathy wonders if she should have taken the threat more seriously.

Cathy and her two sisters, Holly and Juliet, moonlight as part-time private investigators, working to solve their brother’s ex-wife’s murder. Juliet, a stay-at-home mom of two boys, and Holly, a scattered ne’er-do-well who drives a taxi, put aside their fear and lack of confidence to learn the art of investigation.

But will it be too late to save their brother from a murder conviction, or his five-year-old son who’s the killer’s next target?

Meet the Author

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Her latest series is the acclaimed, award-winning Intervention Series (Intervention, Vicious Cycle, Downfall). Other reader favorites include her books Predator and Double Minds, as well as the Restoration Series, the Newpointe 911 Series, the Cape Refuge Series, and the SunCoast Chronicles series.

Watch this interview to learn more about Terri and her writing.

In 1994 Terri was writing romance novels under two pseudonyms for publishers such as HarperCollins,
Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. At the time, she was reading more suspense than romance, and felt drawn to write thrillers about ordinary people in grave danger. Her newly awakened faith wove its way into the tapestry of her suspense novels, offering hope instead of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots, while challenging her readers to think and grow. She hopes to remind them that they’re not alone, and that their trials have a purpose.

Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.

Learn more about Terri and her other books at her website.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Fantastic Conclusion -- Miriam's Quilt

Jennifer Beckstrand is a relative newcomer to the world of Amish fiction . . . but she has "hit the ground running" -- and her books just keep getting better and better!  Miriam's Quilt, the conclusion of her Forever After in Apple Lake series, is my favorite so far. 

The characters are very believable, with realistic depth and complexity.  They grow and change as they react and respond to the events in their lives.  The plot is engaging, drawing you in deeper as the story progresses.  Some elements fall into place as you might expect -- although the route they take might be surprising.  And some things may catch you off-guard.

As I neared the end of the book, I was very conflicted -- I was anxious to see several questions resolved, but I really didn't want the story to end!  As a huge fan of Amish fiction, I definitely give Miriam's Quilt five stars.

Miriam's Quilt is fine as a stand-alone novel, but why not enjoy the whole series.  You can read my thoughts on the other books here.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Miriam's Quilt:

Miriam Bontrager has loved Ephraim Neuenschwander for as long as she can remember. As young teenagers they make a secret pact to wed when they come of age. But when Miriam’s headstrong brother is arrested and her sister is discovered with child, Ephraim decides that Miriam, with her disgraced family ties, is not worthy of him. Heartbroken and shattered, Miriam vows to never again trust her affection to anyone. But will she surrender her heart when a man of simple faith and gentle ways shows her how to love again?

Of course Seth Lambright thinks Miriam Bontrager is pretty, but she’s also too stuck-up to pay him any notice. That is, until she comes to his stable after Ephraim’s devastating rejection. Spending time with Seth’s horses gives Miriam comfort and helps her mend, but her presence nudges Seth dangerously close to falling in love. Unable to ignore the way she tugs at his heart, will he risk everything to show her that there is more to love than the pain of bitter memories?

Meet Jennifer:

From Jennifer, about Jennifer --

I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years. (Because all my children have finally entered the public school system, I can now write a book in significantly less time.) I sent my manuscript to an agent, who asked me to try my hand at writing Amish fiction. After much research and travel, I fell in love with the people and the genre. My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.

Learn more about Jennifer at her website.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Difficult Choices -- Love in the Balance

Fans of historical Christian fiction will find a delightful story with well-developed characters in Love in the Balance.

Regina Jennings's second novel is another enjoyable read.  Although her two books are not presented as a series, Love in the Balance is set in the same time and place as Sixty Acres and a Bride, and a few of the characters make a return visit in this story.

Watching Molly, Bailey, and the other characters learn and grow is what keeps the story engaging.  Molly at first appears rather spoiled and demanding, but learning more of her story helps explain how she came to be that way.  Even her reasons for making her difficult choices help reveal her true character as the story progress.  As Bailey struggles to find his place and his way in life, he draws on God-given strengths and abilities that he didn't know he had.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

Link to buy the book: 

Find out what other reviewers think of the book here. 

About the Book:

Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon.
How's a Girl to Choose? 

Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey's poor prospects, she just can't fit the two dreams together.

Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town-and her life-and for the first time Molly wonders if she's met the man who can give her everything. But he won't be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can't quite get Bailey out of her mind.

What's a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance? 

Meet Regina:

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children. 

Find out more about Regina at
Regina Jennings is celebrating the release of Love in the Balance with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party on 4/4!


One "lovely" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire 
  • A copy of Regina's Sixty Acres and a Bride and Love in the Balance
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Love in the Balance" Author Chat Party on April 4th. Connect with Regina, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Love in the Balance and join Regina on the evening of April 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Great read from a new author -- The Widower

Have you ever read one of those books where in the first few pages you think the story is OK, but nothing fantastic . . . and then before you know it (maybe a chapter in) you're completely drawn in, involved in the characters' lives and really caring what happens to them next?  Well, The Widower by Ryan LaForge was just that kind of read for me.

I have to admit that I wasn't so sure I liked Jacob, the main character, at the beginning.  But as the author revealed at just the right pace Jacob's thoughts and feelings after the loss of his beloved Leah, it became apparent that there was a very likable person under that thick layer of hurt and guilt.  Jacob's transformation as he finds his way back to God with a renewed sense of purpose in his life provides an engaging read.  A story that begins with a sense of despair ends on a high note of hope and promise.

(By the way, Jacob's story includes a Rachel as well as his Leah.  I loved the Old Testament connection to the contemporary characters.)

As far as I know, The Widower is only available in Kindle format.  If you're a Kindle owner (or can download a free Kindle reader on your computer), I would recommend you head over to Amazon and check out this offering by a new author.

Thanks to Ryan LaForge for sharing a copy of his ebook for my reading pleasure and review.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Continuing the Journey -- Grave Consequences

The Powerful, Epic Romance Continues, Book 2 in Lisa T. Begren's Grand Tour series.

For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future-her very life-depends on the decisions she'll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France, and Italy, an unseen enemy trails close behind. Meanwhile, a forbidden love continues to claim her heart, putting everyone's plans in danger.
And as Cora stays one step ahead of it all, what might need the most protection is her own heart, torn between the dramatic pursuit of a dashing Frenchman and a man who has been quietly staking claim to her affections all along. Love has dangers all its own. She must escape the bonds of the past and discover the faith to make the right choices, as each one has grave consequences.

Link to buy the book: 

My Thoughts:

In "grand" form, Lisa T. Bergren continues her Grand Tour series with more exciting adventures of the Kensington and Morgan families' travels across Europe.

Grave Consequences picks up right where Glamorous Illusions left off.  (In fact, if you don't read book one first, you will probably feel lost in this second volume.)  Excitement continues for Cora and her fellow travelers, as she tries to find her niche in the new world she has been thrust into.  The story provides many of the elements of a great story -- mystery, danger, conflict, romance, joy, heartbreak -- in an intriguing historical setting.  The strong faith of some of the characters shines through as they face a wide range of events and feelings.

A tremendous amount of in-depth research is evident in the vivid descriptions of the places and events in the story.  At times, I almost felt like I was on the grand tour with the characters, "seeing" the same sights they did.

I highly recommend both these books to fans of great historical fiction.  I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the adventure in Glittering Promises, due out in October.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of Grave Consequences in exchange for my honest review.

You can see what other reviewers are saying about Grave Consequences here.

Meet Lisa: 

Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy. She lives in Colorado Springs. 

Celebrate the release of Grave Consequences with Lisa T. Bergren by entering to win an iPad Mini!


One "grand" winner receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • Grave Consequences and Glamorous Illusions will be pre-loaded onto the Mini!
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 23rd. Winner will be announced on March 25th at Lisa's website.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

An Epic Amish Journey -- The Captive Heart and Though Mountains Fall

Almost two years ago I read Paradise Valley, the first book in Dale Cramer's The Daughters of Caleb Bender series.  In the past couple of weeks I've had the pleasure of completing that journey with books 2 and 3, The Captive Heart and Though Mountains Fall.

These books form a fictional series, based on actual events, of a handful of Amish families who in the 1920s fled from Ohio to the mountains of Mexico after being punished for refusing to send their children to public schools.  The first book (read my review here) set the stage for the move and told about the Bender family's first year of living in a strange land.  Books 2 and 3 continue their story over the next few years.  Dale Cramer is the great-grandson of one of the leaders of a group of Amish who made a similar trek from Ohio to Mexico. 

These stories are not your typical Amish fiction.  They are not light, easy reads, as some Amish novels are.  They do not show all the loose ends tied up with everyone living "happily ever after."

Cramer tells of a group of American Amish people, strong in their faith, who make very difficult choices in extremely trying situations.  Their beliefs, livelihoods, and lives are tested in a strange, new world, where many of the rules they have known before simply do not apply.  With no church leaders present for most of those years, they find themselves faced with making decisions on their own and are sometimes forced to make choices between traditional beliefs and survival.  Love, loss, forgiveness, and family are put to the test over and over in the hearts of individual characters, as well as the whole community.  There are many joys and high points along the way in the midst of the gritty struggles these families endure.

I would highly recommend this entire series to fellow Amish fiction fans, as well as to anyone interested in reading about different cultures in various historical settings. (This is definitely a series to be read in order.) Five stars to Dale Cramer's The Daughters of Caleb Bender.

Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with a copy of Though Mountains Fall in exchange for my honest review.

The Epic Story of an Amish Community in Peril

Ravaged by disease, preyed upon by ruthless bandits, the Bender family's second year in Mexico has taken a grievous turn. Faced with impossible choices, the expatriate Amish discover, more than ever before, what it means to live by faith and not by sight.

But it's Miriam who must make the hardest choice as her heart takes her on a new and dangerous course. Domingo. "He is gentle," his sister said, "until someone he loves is threatened." Is Miriam that someone?

"Cualnezqui," he often calls her--the Nahuatl word for Beautiful one. The chiseled native has proven himself a man of principle, grace and power, yet is he the pearl of great price for whom Miriam would sacrifice everything, or is he merely a friend? Tormented by conflicting emotions, she's haunted by vivid dreams: Dressed in the coarse cotton pants and shirt of a peasant, she stands on the precipice of a sun-washed ridge searching desperately for Domingo. Domingo the fierce. Domingo the protector. Domingo the forbidden.

"I want you to promise you will always be my sister."

There were tears in Miriam’s eyes as their foreheads touched and Rachel whispered, "No matter what. Always."

Now in its fourth year, the Amish settlement in Mexico is thriving. But as new settlers arrive, sons and daughters marry, babies are born, and crops grow thick, a storm looms on the horizon. And Caleb Bender knows--perhaps better than anyone--that the worst of storms don't come from the western skies.  They come on horseback.

When their very existence is threatened, the Amish turn to the Mexican government for help, only to discover that the rulers of men are fickle and security is an illusion. Tried by fire and riven by war, Caleb and Domingo come to understand that the kingdom of God is not to be found in land or buildings or gold or armies, but in the hearts of peaceful men trying to feed their families.

Watching helplessly as daughters Rachel, Miriam, and Emma are drawn inexorably toward their separate destinies, Caleb is forced to confront the most important decision of his life

Dale Cramer is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed novel Levi's Will, based on the story of Dale's father, a runaway Amishman. Dale's latest series, THE DAUGHTERS OF CALEB BENDER, is based on an Amish colony in the mountains of Mexico where three generations of his family lived in the 1920s. He currently lives in Georgia with his wife of 36 years, two sons and a Bernese Mountain Dog named Rupert. Visit him on his Web site at

Friday, March 1, 2013

Second in an Amish Series -- Surrendered Love

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (April 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Amish romance writer Laura V. Hilton, of Horseshoe Bend, AR is a pastor’s wife, stay-at-home mother of five, homeschooler, breast cancer survivor and avid blogger. Her passion has long been the mission of Christian fiction, initially as a reviewer, but in the past two years as the author of four successful novels including The Amish of Seymour series (Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another) and Healing Love, first of The Amish of Webster County. Her books have sold thousands of copies and garnered kudos from reviewers and readers alike with A Harvest of Hearts receiving the 2012 Laurel Award.

Visit the author's website.


Janna Kauffman enjoys her job as a personal shopper for the homebound in her Amish community. But when Janna’s niece, Meghan, comes to live with her family—part of a plan by Janna’s sister to rid her daughter of her rebellious ways—Janna spends less time shopping and more time explaining Meghan’s erratic behavior to local police officer Hiram “Troy” Troyer, who was raised Amish but left the faith after a fatal accident that killed his brother and also a brother of Janna’s. Frequent interactions draw Janna and Troy together, rekindling an attraction they first experienced in their youth. What will become of their relationship? And will headstrong Meghan ever tame her ways?

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Whitaker House (April 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1603745076

ISBN-13: 978-1603745079


The police officer sorting though the Gala apples reminded Janna Kauffman of Hiram Troyer, but this Englischer couldn’t be her teenage crush. With a sigh, she focused again on the display in front of her. Cabbage. She picked up a head. Homemade coleslaw would go well with the hamburgers and baked beans she had planned for supper. As she set the cabbage in her cart, she couldn’t help stealing another peek at the good-looking officer. Dark blond hair, cut in a fancy hairstyle; trim build…ach, she shouldn’t be noticing such things about an Englischer.

Janna looked away, but not before he glanced back at her. She did a double take. She thought his eyes were blue, like Hiram’s, but she couldn’t be sure; he turned around and walked away. Probably headed for the doughnuts. She smiled and turned her attention to her shopping list.

10 bags carrots (5 lbs. ea.)

When she placed the carrots in her cart, the hair on the back of her neck stood up with a tingling sensation, as if someone were watching her. She turned and caught the policeman’s glance just before it slid away. A thrill shot through her to think that an Englischer might be attracted to her, an Amish woman, but she stifled it. His interest was a moot point. Of course, he might have just been curious about why she’d loaded her cart with so many carrots.

He disappeared around a corner and down an aisle. She picked up her list again.

10 oranges (Emma Brunstettler)

Emma believed that an orange a day kept all sickness away. And it seemed to work for her. Janna selected ten ripe ones and loaded them into Emma’s mesh bag. The hair on the back of her neck rose again, as did her pulse. Her breath hitched.

She wouldn’t look. Instead, she lowered the bag of oranges into the cart. Somehow she missed, though. They tumbled out and went rolling across the floor.

“Klutz.” A woman carrying a plastic basket stepped over the fallen fruit and hurried away.

As Janna bent to pick up the first of the escaped oranges, she noticed a pair of legs wearing blue pants approaching. It might be a store manager, coming to yell at her. Hopefully not. Worse, it might be the police officer. Had he witnessed her clumsy humiliation? She didn’t know which she dreaded more. She risked a glimpse as he crouched and started gathering up the oranges. The police officer. He grinned as he reached out to hand them to her. She tried to keep her burning face averted as she stretched out a quivering hand to accept the fruit and then stuffed each piece back inside the bag.

His smile would have made her weak in the knees, if she weren’t already squatting. Even so, she put one hand on the floor to keep her balance.

He stood, picked up his few grocery items from the edge of a display, and turned to go.

She found her voice. “Danki.”

He glanced back at her and winked, causing her heart rate to accelerate even more. “Careful with those oranges. They’ll get you every time.” He strode toward the checkout lines. She smiled when she noticed the box of doughnuts and canister of coffee he had tucked under one elbow. In his other hand was a bag of apples.

Janna gripped the bag of oranges in one hand and slowly stood, watching him as he moved through the checkout line, even as she gave herself a silent yet stern lecture for ogling him the whole time.

An hour later, she pushed the cart, piled full with her bagged purchases, outside and across the parking lot to her buggy, her thoughts still on the handsome police officer.

She started sorting through the bags, searching for the Yoder family’s groceries to load first, since their home was the last stop she would make along her delivery route.

“Janna Kauffman?” An Englisch man’s voice shattered her concentration.

Janna’s heart stuttered. Was it him? She stopped rifling through the plastic bags in her cart and looked up. A policeman approached, but he wasn’t the one from the store. This man had dark hair, and sunglasses covered his eyes. Her heart crash-landed somewhere in the vicinity of her toes.

“I’m Officer Pete O’Dell.”

Janna summoned a smile. “Is there a problem, Officer?”

He didn’t grin back. His lips didn’t even twitch. She stiffened, trying to prepare herself for the bad news she felt sure she was about to hear. She searched her mind for possibilities. She knew she hadn’t double parked, and dropping oranges wasn’t against the law. Ach, maybe there’d been an accident.

Just then, the passenger door of the police cruiser parked behind him opened. Her rush of thoughts stopped as the blond officer from the store climbed out and approached her, sliding his sunglasses down from the top of his head to cover his eyes.

Her face heated again in shame for having stared at him in the store. He looked at her buggy, and the stacks of coolers labeled with the full names of Amish men. “Where’d you get all these?” He opened up the lid of a red cooler labeled “Elam Troyer”—the father of her childhood crush. That seemed like a slap in the face. The cooler would be empty, except for an ice pack.

Janna sucked in a breath. The officers probably thought she’d stolen the coolers. “It isn’t what you think.” She waved a hand toward her cart, still piled with plastic bags. “I do their grocery shopping.” Embarrassed at being caught in yet another humiliating situation by the cute cop, she pulled her shopping list out of her pocket and shoved it toward him.

He took it and began scanning it.

Officer O’Dell shifted his weight. “Are you the guardian of a Meghan Forrest?”

Renewed panic filled Janna. She pushed down her fears and nodded. “She’s my niece.”

“Has she contacted you today?”

“No, but she can’t; she’s in school.” At least, that’s where she was supposed to be. But if he was asking, then maybe it was Meghan who was about to receive bad news. “Is it her mom?” She froze, dreading the answer. If anything had happened to her sister Sharon, she didn’t know what she’d do.

“Your niece was just picked up for shoplifting,” said Officer O’Dell, matter-of-factly. “We need you, as her guardian, to come to the police station.”

“Excuse me?” Janna shook her head. This couldn’t be happening. “I think you must have the wrong person. Megan is still in class.” She glanced at the position of the sun, then looked for a watch. She found one, conveniently located on the arm of the handsome officer. Almost noon.

The other officer still studied her shopping list, not contributing anything to the conversation.

“Well, apparently she decided to skip school today. Will you come with us to the station, Ms. Kauffman?” Officer O’Dell’s question sounded more like an order, as if she had no choice.

A knot formed in her stomach. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” But she stood there, staring at the plastic bags in the cart. Plastic bags full of perishables. She needed to deliver the food first. Or sort it, at the very least, load it into the coolers, and pray that it would still be cool enough after she’d handled the situation with Meghan. Otherwise, she’d have to pay out of her own pocket to replace the spoiled food. Besides, late or incomplete orders wouldn’t help her business any. And here, she’d been marveling at how well her day had been going.

“Now would be a good time, Ms. Kauffman.” Officer O’Dell grabbed a plastic bag from her cart and tossed it into the buggy.

Janna reached for the bag and pulled it back out. “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” she said again. Maybe he hadn’t heard her the first time. “I have to get these bags sorted and put the food in the coolers so it won’t spoil.”

“Go on, O’Dell. I’ll help her.” The blond policeman handed her back her list. He ran his fingertip over Elam Troyer’s name written in black permanent marker, then turned is dark sunglasses in her direction. “What can I do?”

Officer O’Dell scowled and strode back to his cruiser.

Janna swallowed. She wasn’t Meghan’s parent—just one of her temporary guardians, until Sharon felt ready to welcome Meghan back home. She sighed. Since the police probably wouldn’t ask a parent to fly in, she would have to deal with it. Unless Daed could do it. For a second, her hopes flared. Then died. Nein, Daed and Mamm were in Springfield, visiting someone in the hospital. Their driver wouldn’t bring them home again until this evening. She was it.

“I don’t know if you can help,” Janna said. “I need to pack the items on my list in the proper coolers. I tried to keep the orders separate in the store, but the bagger sort of packed them into the cart at random, so I still need to figure out who gets what.” Normally, she was better organized, but this time, the police officer had taken her rational capacities prisoner.

“Then, you tell me which cooler it goes into and I’ll put it in.”

She watched his eyebrows rise above his dark glasses. He really did seem familiar…

“So, why do you do their grocery shopping?” He tapped his fingertips on the lid of Elam Troyer’s red cooler.

She shrugged and decided to answer generally. The Troyers’ reasons were personal and certainly none of his concern. “Oh, various reasons. Some are too sick or old or physically unable; some are mamms with newborns at home. Others are widowers with no interest in shopping.” She looked through the contents of one bag, consulted her list, then handed it to the officer. “This goes to Elam Troyer.”

A muscle flickered in his jaw. She wondered if the name meant something to him.

But it was probably her overactive imagination.


He should be shot for neglecting his parents like he did. Hiram Troyer, better known as Troy, removed his hand from the top of the cooler, lifted the lid, and lowered the plastic bag inside. He’d run by their house on the way home and check on them. If they were paying someone else to do their grocery shopping, then something must have happened.

He held up another bag. “Same family?”

She nodded distractedly as she sorted through another bag.

He dropped it in the cooler, keeping his gaze on her. Janna Kauffman. I’d figured she would have gotten married by now. She always stood out at the singings and frolics, back when—. No point going there. That was a lifetime ago. Still, when he’d seen her eyes for the first time in years, it had felt like an earthquake, rocking his heart and rearranging his mind. The aftershocks still rumbled through him.

But his thoughts were no longer scrambled; they were crystal clear—and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He just didn’t know how he was going to do it.

Janna handed him several more bags. “These are the last of Elam Troyer’s.”

He was glad his sunglasses hid his eyes as his gaze slid down her curvy body beneath the usual cape dress, hers lavender. She was still as attractive as ever, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. She’d skipped the black bonnet the women usually wore over their prayer kapps when they went out—but he’d seen other women do that, especially as the days got warmer. And they’d been reaching 80 degrees almost daily for almost a week now. Eighty-two, he thought he read on the digital sign in front of the bank. He could have been mistaken, though, because gazing into Janna’s eyes left him reeling. He looked away.

He’d left Meghan locked up in custody in the otherwise empty police station. He slid his glance back to Janna, then away. “Hurry and finish.”

Okay, that was a bit abrupt, but he needed to get back to the station before the manager of the store Meghan had allegedly robbed showed up to give a statement. She’d been running the cash register and needed to find someone to cover for her.

Troy glanced in the direction of the police station. Maybe O’Dell had gone straight back there. Troy had told him he’d talk to Janna, but, as usual, O’Dell hadn’t listened. Probably because a hint of action beat the dispatcher job O’Dell was supposed to be doing today.

Come down to it, Troy needed to do his job, instead of standing there staring at this woman. He needed to get away from Janna and the feelings she awakened in him.


Years of striving to be the model bishop’s daughter, and here she was, on her way to the police station. At least she wasn’t the one in trouble. She hoped shoplifting wasn’t punishable with jail time. Sharon would never forgive her if Meghan ended up with a sentence to serve. Maybe she could talk the nice blond policeman into going easy on her niece. And somehow keep the news from her older sister.

As Janna maneuvered her buggy into the parking lot of the police station, she began to regret the samples of meat and cheese she’d succumbed to while shopping. They weighed heavy in her stomach.

She climbed out of the buggy, tied the reins to a telephone pole, and went inside the station, wishing again that she didn’t have to handle this. Wishing the problem would just disappear. If only the blond policeman had waited for her. But he’d disappeared before she could talk her horse, Tulip, into leaving the grocery store parking lot.

Officer O’Dell sat at the reception desk with his feet propped up in front of him, a full mug of coffee in one hand, what appeared to be a McDonald’s burger in the other. The room smelled like fresh-brewed coffee. A glance around showed an almost full pot on a file cabinet.

“Ms. Kauffman,” he said around a mouthful of food. “Go on in.” He pointed abruptly over his shoulder at a partially closed door.

Janna inclined her head to acknowledge his directions and then stepped over to the door. She knocked once, then pushed it open.

The blond officer sat behind a big desk, talking on the phone. King of the office, apparently. He cast a quick glance in her direction but made no visible acknowledgment of her presence. He was handsome, but instead of the friendliness she’d seen earlier, now his expression was stern. She probably didn’t know him. Maybe she’d just seen him around town a time or two.

Meghan sat hunched over in a far chair. She didn’t look over at all. Not gut.

A woman wearing tight black pants and a low-cut hot pink stood against the wall on the other side of the desk. She, too, kept her eyes down, as she played with the bangles on her wrist.

Janna inhaled as deeply as she could, given the knot in her stomach. She pressed a hand to her abdomen, hoping to keep her snacks down.

The officer finally set the phone in its cradle and looked up at Janna. His blue-eyed gaze pierced her. He was good-looking but scary—not someone she’d want to tangle with on a dark dirt road. Or even in a brightly lit office.

He nodded at the empty chair facing his desk. “Please, have a seat.”

She thought she’d rather stand, like the woman with the bangle bracelets. Position herself right there by the garbage can, in case her food decided not to stay put. But obediently, she dropped compliantly into the chair. Again she glanced over at Meghan, who studied the floor as if fascinated by the pattern in the linoleum tiles.

Janna cleared her throat. “I’m sure this is just a simple misunderstanding.”

The officer slid a card holding a pair of earrings across the desk. They were dangly and sparkly. Definitely something Meghan would wear. “We found these in your niece’s possession.” His voice was stern. “Would you like to see the surveillance video?”

Not really.

He went ahead and pushed a button of the remote control on his desk. On the monitor behind him, a rather grainy picture appeared of Meghan and someone Janna didn’t know. She must have gotten away, or maybe they’d put her in another room. Despite the poor quality of the film, it was clear enough to see both girls slip some merchandise into their pockets.

He pushed another button, and the screen went blank. His cold eyes speared Janna again before he shifted his gaze to Meghan. “Shoplifting is a serious crime, and it usually lands you in jail for up to a few months. But, since this is your first offense, we’re willing to work with you.” He gestured to the woman with the bracelets. “Ms. Taft, the store manager, has said she won’t press charges if you agree to six weeks of community service. I just talked to the DA to make sure this was agreeable. He said you could begin Monday after school. You’ll report to the county courthouse. And you will not enter that store again. If you do, the management won’t hesitate to report you for trespassing.”

Janna nodded. “I’m sure it won’t happen again.” I hope. She glanced at Meghan to look for any indication that she felt the same way, but her niece’s face was impassive.

He tapped the card holding the earrings. “The DA also expects you to pay for the merchandise you stole. Three times the retail value.”

Janna glanced at Meghan. “How much did they cost?”

“Forty-nine ninety-five,” said the woman standing there. Her tone was less than friendly.

Janna couldn’t hold back her gasp. “And you want her to pay three times that much?” Acid burned in the back of her throat. She stood and moved to the trashcan.

“Take a seat, Ms. Kauffman.” This officer meant business. She wondered what had become of the kind gentleman who’d help her gather her fallen orange and later load her buggy with groceries. This man looked the same, but his attitude and bearing were completely different.

Janna cast him a frantic look, then lost the contents of her stomach—and what was left of her pride.

Ms. Taft gagged.

“Eww, Aunt Janna. Gross!”

At least Meghan had generated a reply.

Blinking back tears, Janna wiped her mouth with her sleeve.

The officer stood, opened a miniature refrigerator, and produced a bottle of water. Her throat burned.

“Thank you.” She reached to accept the water from him.

When their hands touched, fire shot through her fingertips, and she glanced quickly at him. His blue eyes widened as they met hers, but his expression remained sympathetic. Maybe he was friendly after all, and not so scary. She set the garbage can outside the door and then approached his desk again.

“Now. Back to business.” The officer’s voice hardened, and he sat down, all traces of kindness gone. “As I was saying….” He repeated himself, with enough force to make Janna’s stomach churn again. No matter the punishment Daed would kum up with for Meghan, it couldn’t be harsh enough for forcing Janna through this torture.

Something the policeman said must have penetrated Meghan’s indifference. She flung a wad of cash on the desk. Her hands didn’t even shake.

Janna stared in disbelief at the bills. Sharon sent Meghan a monthly allowance, but with the way Meghan spent money, Janna hadn’t thought she’d have any money left.

The manager reached for the stack and flipped through it. Apparently satisfied with the amount, she slid it into her pocket. “Thank you, Officer,” she almost purred. Then, she turned to Janna and hissed, “If that thieving brat ever sets foot in my store again, you can be sure I’ll have her arrested.” She flipped her hair, spun on her heel, and stomped out of the office.

“Thank you for coming in, Ms. Kauffman.” The uniformed man rose to his feet. “You can go now. I’ll escort your niece back to school.”

Janna didn’t even try to force a smile. “Thank you, sir.” She turned to Meghan. “I expect you to kum straight home after school. We are going to have a talk.”

“What. Ever.” Meghan punctuated the words with a sneer. “You aren’t my mom.”

Her comment struck like a fist, knocking the air from Janna’s lungs. No, she wasn’t Meghan’s mom. But she had once been her favorite aunt. They’d been more like sisters, really, since they were only five years apart.

Janna glanced at the police officer on her way out. In light of the humiliation she had just suffered, she decided that if she never saw him again, it would be way too soon.

She also decided that, whatever Sharon’s reasons for sending Meghan to Seymour to live with her Amish relatives, they weren’t gut enough.

My Thoughts

The main themes of this story are all about love, forgiveness and reconciliation, great ideas put into an Amish setting.  For us die-hard Amish fiction fans, it is an enjoyable read.

Much like the first book in this series, Healing Love, I would say it is OK, but not at the top of my list.  There doesn't seem to be a really smooth flow; it has some jerks and stops along the way.  And some of the actions and conversations don't seem consistent with much of what is written about the Amish.