Author: Wendy Rich Stetson
Genre: Sweet Romance
When Tessa's big-city plans take the A Train to disaster, she lands in her sleepy hometown, smack in the middle of the most unlikely love triangle ever to hit Pennsylvania's Amish Country.
Hot-shot Dr. Richard Bruce is bound to Green Ridge by loyalty that runs deep. Deeper still is Jonas Rishel's tie to the land and his family's Amish community. Behind the wheel of a 1979 camper van, Tessa idles at a fork in the road. Will she cruise the superhighway to the future? Or take a slow trot to the past and a mysterious society she never dreamed she'd glimpse from the inside?
A girl, seven or eight years old, peeped between wide plastic trays heaped with treats. Garbed in a teal dress, the child tucked a bare foot behind the other ankle and scrunched her nose in a smile.
Evidently, some Amish children were permitted respite from the heat, even if it constituted a modest exposure of the flesh.
A hand-written sign dangled from a crate: “Whoopie pies, seventy-five cents.” Had they cost a quarter back in the day? Still, seventy-five cents seemed a darned good price for a taste of paradise. But which to choose? She nibbled her bottom lip. Forget these new-fangled flavors—she was going old-school with classic chocolate and vanilla. Surveying with scientific precision, she set down her fries and selected the biggest pie from the tray. As she pulled off her backpack and fished out her wallet, she caught the girl staring with an unabashed openness she’d never seen from the Plain people. She smiled and looped her hair behind one ear.
The child scampered to an Amish man sitting on an upturned milk crate against the wall. She cupped her fingers over her lips and whispered in the man’s ear.
He inclined his head toward the girl and glancing up, met Tessa’s gaze.
In that instant, every fiber of every muscle in her legs turned to barely congealed gelatin. To say his eyes were blue wasn’t sufficient. They were cobalt and cerulean, blue sky on glacial water, infinite, bottomless blue. His expression was as open as the child’s. Not a trace of cynicism darkened the creases at the corners of his eyes. By sheer force of will alone, she didn’t collapse onto the table of baked goods.
Blood rushed to her cheeks so quickly they burned. She hadn’t believed she could feel any hotter that steamy summer day. She was wrong.
He lifted one corner of his mouth in a half smile. “You may tell her yourself, Rebecca.”
Though the words weren’t intended for her, his voice washed over her like a warm wave, leaving her bobbing in the undertow.
The girl shook her head, waggling a blonde bun coiled like a cinnamon roll behind her ears.
“Go on, if you like,” he said.
With small, skipping steps, the girl approached again and peeked from beneath pale lashes.
Tessa gazed into bright eyes nearly as blue as the man’s. “Hello.”
The girl entwined her fingers in her skirt and tugged the fabric tight. “You have very pretty hair.” In a heartbeat, she fled and buried her face in the man’s lap.
“Thank you. You have very pretty blue eyes.” She fumbled with the clasp of her wallet, discovering only then she smooshed her thumb deep into her whoopie pie.
The elfin child giggled and bounced on bare toes.
Standing, the man swept her into his arms and smiled down at Tessa. “Rebecca has not seen many women with ginger hair.”
Ginger hair. For years, she was tormented by boneheaded boys shouting, “Carrot Top” and “Flame.” No one ever called her mane ginger. Beneath his candid gaze, her curls heated like embers, warming her from top to toe. Who was this man?
The girl wriggled, knocking askew his straw hat.
He tossed her under one arm like a sack of flour and righted it, loosening a tawny curl that escaped the wide brim and fell over one brow. His gaze passed over Tessa’s face.
Her unruly hair and short shorts tweaked at her consciousness. What did the Amish call outsiders? English? She was definitely dressed like an English woman. And not one from a Jane Austen novel.
He deposited the giggling girl right-side up on the floor and approached the table. “I’ve rarely seen hair that color myself. Like a copper penny.”
She stared at the mangled whoopie pie and blushed even deeper. For a brief moment, she felt his gaze trail down her body like a caress. Or did she?
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Hometown is a sweet and funny, small-town story with a spunky, red-haired heroine and a strong silent Amish carpenter whose slow burn, forbidden romance will keep you turning pages well past bedtime. It’s a heartwarming, emotional tale about finding your path, following your heart, and falling in love.
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Wendy Rich Stetson is a New York City girl who still considers the Central Pennsylvania countryside to be her home. She grew up road tripping in a 1979 VW camper van, and she keeps a running list of favorite roadside attractions from coast to coast. Now an author of sweet, small-town romance, Wendy is no stranger to storytelling. She’s a Broadway and television actress, an audiobook narrator, and a mom who likes nothing more than collaborating on children’s books with her teenage artist daughter. Wendy lives in Upper Manhattan with her family of three and rambunctious Maine Coon kitty. Follow Wendy’s journey at www.wendyrichstetson.com
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