Shannon here: Amish romance author, Laura V. Hilton shares a romantic excerpt from her latest release: A Harvest of Hearts. Comment on any post dated Aug 29 – Sept 2 for a chance to win a copy. Deadline: Sept 3, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Laura:
Shanna Stoltzfus felt something brush against her hair, just above her left ear. She swatted at it. When she touched flesh, she jumped, her attempts to pray forgotten, and raised her head from the steering wheel to see maple-stained fingers, complete with calluses and a small cut.
The hand pulled back. “Is something wrong? Are you hurt?” a deep voice asked.
She looked up into incredible gray eyes belonging to a drop-dead-gorgeous Amish man. He grasped his straw hat in the long fingers of his right hand. His light brown hair shone with natural blond highlights. She’d paid big bucks for streaks like those. He also had a strong, clean-shaven jaw. Nice. Too bad he hadn’t been around when she’d been Amish. She definitely would have noticed a hunk like this. Might even have considered staying.
“Lost, maybe? I can direct you back to the main road. Where did you want to go?”
“Anyplace but here. Mexico sounds good.” She swallowed her trepidation and aimed what she hoped was a wry smile at him. When she reached for the door handle, he stepped out of the way. “You must be the houseguest Mamm mentioned in her letters. Matthew Yoder from Pennsylvania?” She swung her legs out of the car and extended a hand. “I’m Shanna.”
“Shanna.” He seemed to freeze. A little smile played on his lips. “Shanna,” he repeated.
She didn’t know quite what to think. He said her name as if it meant something special. Then, he blinked. “I’m Matthew, jah.”
He held out his hand, but before his hand could touch hers, she fixed her gaze on his brown fingers. He hesitated and then rubbed his hands together, as if to check to see if the stain was still damp. Then, he pulled back. “Shanna.”
His tongue seemed to trip over her name this time. Or maybe he’d heard some negative things about her. Her stomach churned. She shouldn’t be here. But where else could she go?
“I guess they are expecting you?”
“No. Not really.” Shanna stood and looked up at him. The top of her head barely reached his jaw.
His gaze skimmed over her. She wondered what he thought as he studied her faded jeans, T-shirt, and flip-flops. She looked down at her toenails. Good, they were painted with pink polish. Except the paint on one of her big toes had a huge chip. She wished she could reach for the bottle and repair the damage. As his gaze traveled back up, she repressed the urge to smooth her hair. It wouldn’t have done much good, anyway. She’d driven the whole way with the windows down, so it would be hopelessly tangled.
His forehead wrinkled, and there was no hint of recognition in his eyes when they returned to her face.
“You have no idea who I am, do you?”
Matthew raised his eyebrows and his gaze met hers. “No. Should I?”
Unexpected pain shot through her. Daed had made good on his threat to reject her. “Figures. He probably forbade everybody to say my name. I’m surprised he allowed Mamm to write. Or maybe he doesn’t know.”
Confusion flashed across Matthew’s face. “So, you think your mamm lives here, and she isn’t expecting you?” He shook his head, his lips curling into a sympathetic half smile. “This is the home of Levi and Deborah—”
“Stoltzfus. Yes, I know. And I’m their oldest daughter.”
Matthew’s smile slipped, and he blinked, cutting off her view of those gray eyes for a brief moment.
“You know, you have beautiful eyes.” She stepped closer, then turned to shut the car door. “My things are in the back. But I guess maybe we should leave them there until we find out if I’m allowed to stay. Mamm said I would be welcome, but Daed has the final say, you know.” She bit her lip and tried to force her fear of the imminent confrontation out of her mind. It didn’t work. And since her little brothers and sisters hadn’t gathered around to welcome her, she wondered if her family was even home. She looked around for the buggy, or some sign of life other than the handsome Matthew. She didn’t notice any.
“Jah. Probably should wait.” He blinked again when she turned to face him.
“Well, shall we?” She walked past him, around the front of the car, and toward the porch. At the top step, she hesitated and glanced back. Matthew stood where she’d left him, watching her. He didn’t even try to hide it by looking away. A shiver worked through her, but she ignored it. He’d probably never met anyone like her before. Daed always said she was too outspoken. She sighed. “I guess I should ask. Where is Daed?”
He motioned behind him. “In the shop.”
“Good.” Postponing her reunion with him would at least give her time to see Mamm and her little sisters before she was kicked off the property.
If that happened, Shanna hoped this gorgeous Amish man wouldn’t witness her humiliation. She felt ashamed enough of her modern clothes, now subject to his intense gaze. She was so under-dressed, she might as well have shown up at a formal event wearing boxer shorts and a paint-spattered T-shirt.
Did Mamm still keep her Amish clothes hanging in her bedroom closet?
She scowled and turned toward the house. It would take more than a good-looking man to get her to change into Amish clothes. She hadn’t been able to wait to leave the Amish life behind, and she wasn’t about to return to it.
Well, she would stay for the summer, if permitted. But no longer than that.
And if Daed wouldn’t let her? She’d deal with that when the time came.
About the book: A Harvest of Hearts – Book 2 of the Amish of Seymour series, September 2011
Matthew Yoder volunteered to be part of the swap of Amish men from his Old Order Pennsylvania Amish Community, to the Amish community in Seymour, Missouri. There is nothing for him in Pennsylvania, as the youngest of twelve children, and the lack of farmland around Lancaster County, he felt he could make a better future in another district. Shanna Stoltzfus has been raised Amish, and couldn’t wait for her rumspringa so she could pursue her education. She hated having to quit school in the 8th grade to stay home and learn everything that makes a home run smoothly. But now she has earned her GED and is taking college courses, but her family is begging her to come home; her little sisters miss her. And there’s something about newcomer, Matthew Yoder that draws her attention. But is it enough to give up her dreams of education and join the Amish church?
About Laura: Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.
Her publishing credits include Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past from Treble Heart Books; a devotional in a compilation from Zondervan; and the first book “Patchwork Dreams” in her Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House released in April 2011, the second book, “A Harvest of Hearts” in September 2011, and Promised to Another in April 2012. Laura has her business degree from Ozarka and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites. Learn more at: http://laurav.hilton.blogspot.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512
Come back Sept 3rd for the top ten readers’ picks for last quarter.