Shannon here: Amish Romance author, Kelly Irvin gives insight into the subtleties of her genre. Plus a chance to win a copy of her latest release, Upon a Spring Breeze. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing. Deadline: May 6th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Kelly:
I write Amish romances for a living, but I often have trouble answering questions about the love stories and the romances in my books. It can be difficult competing in the romance category in writing/book contests because the Amish approach romance and marriage in a different way than the world does. It’s more subtle, it’s simpler, it’s private. There are no big gestures. No destination weddings. No fancy dresses or gargantuan diamond rings. No rings at all. Nope, not even a honeymoon.
To us, it feels like a throwback to another time. For me, it can be much more romantic and fun to write. In fact, I find the romance in a touch and a fleeting glance and the awkward pauses to be lovely. That’s why Aidan Graber, the hero in my latest release, Upon a Spring Breeze, is one of my favorite characters. He shows his love for the leading lady in a myriad of ways that make my heart go pitter-patter.
For instance, when tragedy strikes the woman he has loved since childhood, he brings her several flower seed packets wrapped in a rubber band. He wants to give them to her, but she’s too grief-stricken to even acknowledge his presence. He leaves them on the table, hoping she’ll see them, plant them, and be reminded that spring will come, flowers will bloom, and life will go on. He wants to ease her grief for another man.
Aidan shows his love for Bess by spending time with her young son. He takes Joshua for a ride in his buggy and tells him funny stories about his father. He cleans out the Purple Martin birdhouses so that the birds can nest in them when they arrive. He takes Bess and Joshua to see them in the spring.
He plants flowers around his friend’s grave so that the hummingbirds and butterflies will visit. A gesture of brotherly love that also reflects his feelings for Bess.
He allows Bess to accompany him in the search for a lost family member even though the other men expect her to stay behind. He sees her as strong, intelligent, and worthy of his respect.
He shows her his love in many ways even though he doesn’t say a word. His presence shows he cares. His actions show he loves her. Everything about him reflects his abiding affection for her. What could be more romantic?
The most romantic gesture of all is that Aidan waits for her. He waits for the right time. He waits for her to be ready. He knows she’s worthy of the wait.
Yes, the sparks fly when the time comes, but it’s the old-fashioned fumbling for words and awkward encounters with words unspoken that make my heart swoon. Aidan is a leading man, not a lady’s man.
Here’s an excerpt from Upon a Spring Breeze to give you a taste of what makes Aidan so special:
Aidan eased into the chair across from her. “Can I hold him?”
To his surprise, Bess hesitated. Did she not trust him? Or didn’t she want to let go of her baby? He hoped it was the latter. “I won’t hurt him.”
“Of course you won’t.” She tucked the blanket around the baby’s tiny body, but his arms immediately flailed, knocking the blanket away. “Truth be told, it would be nice to have a rest from him. He might spit up on you, though. He does that a lot.”
Something that could only be described as rancor marred her response. A bitter taste in his mouth, Aidan took the tiny bundle, along with a cloth diaper as a spit-up rag, and settled him into his arms. Joshua weighed no more than a gnat and did, indeed, smell of spit-up. Aidan leaned back in the chair and rocked, just as he had done an untold number of times with nieces and nephews.
Never had a baby felt so light and so vulnerable in his arms. Caleb’s son. His only child. The knot in Aidan’s throat grew and tightened. He inhaled, but his lungs didn’t seem to appreciate the effort.
“It’s almost impossible, isn’t it?”
He raised his head at the aching wonder in Bess’s voice. “What’s impossible?”
“To imagine that Caleb will never be here again. Ever.”
“It’s fairly impossible for me.”
“I keep thinking he’ll sneak into the kitchen when I’m fixing supper and tickle me from behind with those big hands.” Her chuckle faded into thin air. “I always complained because his hands were dirty and he got my apron dirty. Now I . . .”
“You wouldn’t mind a little extra laundry?”
Aidan continued to rock, letting a host of shared memories warm the space between them. Volleyball games, barn raisings, picnics on the last day of school. Rumspringa shenanigans that none of them would admit to now. The day of baptism the three of them had shared. Caleb and Bess sitting at their wedding eck after the ceremony eating, Caleb shouting that Aidan surely would wed next.
“Remember that day you fell out of the tree?”
Bess’s chair rocked faster, the squeak punctuating the question. Maybe she didn’t want to take that road. Maybe she wouldn’t answer. It was too painful.
“How could I forget?” She swiped at her face with her sleeve. “Daed would’ve had my hide if it weren’t for my broken nose. Mudder scolding me for being out there at all. I wasn’t supposed to be there with you boys. I never knew my place inside, doing girl chores.”
“Your nose never did straighten out proper-like.”
“My nose is fine.” A faint smile appeared. Ever so faint. The lines around her mouth eased and the darkness in her eyes lifted.
Aidan tried out a smile in return. Hers faded and she ducked her head again, severing the connection.
“I will be here to help raise him.” He blurted out the words. He’d said what he came to say. “Whatever he needs.”
Surprise flittered across Bess’s face. Her mouth opened, then closed. His statement should go without saying. He knew that. Bess knew it. Plain took care of Plain. They were all family. Faith, family, community. He’d heard it umpteen times in his life, during church services and from his father’s and mother’s mouths on a nearly daily basis. But somehow, he’d needed to say it. The burden weighing on his spirit demanded it.
“Hello there, little one.” The lump was back. Be gone with you. “You don’t know how easy you have it, eating and sleeping, no work, all play. Don’t get used to it. Your day will come when I’ll be putting you to work.”
“No one knows what the future will bring.” Her voice trembled and her eyes were wet with unshed tears.
Aidan swallowed hard against his own. “I will help you raise my good friend’s son.” He took a breath and steadied himself. “My good friends’ son.”
“If you’re here.”
“According to Gott’s plan.”
“Do you think this is Gott’s plan?” She waved her hand toward him and the baby. “Caleb should be sitting in that chair, holding his son, you looking over his shoulder, making goo-goo faces and acting silly like you two always did.”
He too could see that scene. So happy, so carefree. A gift given to others, but not them. He too found it hard to fathom. “We can’t understand Gott’s plan or His will. We can only live every day doing what Gott expects us to do. Including raising up the kinner He has entrusted to us.”
Shadows had painted themselves under her eyes, dark against her pale skin. Despite having given birth only two days earlier, she looked gaunt. The baby weight had fled. “This is to be my lesson in Gelassenheit, then? Was loving my mann somehow so selfish that I had to be taught to yield to His will? Is our Gott that severe and peevish?”
Hurt and pain clothed in fiery, red anger. He understood this too. He had his own lesson in Gelassenheit with the unnatural job of killing the chickens he’d nurtured and raised from chicklets in hopes of making a living from them. “We all have to learn those lessons.”
“I’m too tired to try this hard.”
“It’ll get easier.”
“How do you know? You’ve never even been married.”
She had no way of knowing how her words hurt, like a flaming arrow piercing flesh and sinew. He stood and handed Joshua back to her. “I have work to do.”
“I didn’t mean it that way.”
He couldn’t blame her for not knowing about feelings he’d never dared to put into words. Still, he couldn’t corral the anger that she would so simply dismiss his station in life at this moment. “If you need anything—if Joshua needs anything—”
“It’s kind of you to offer, but Solomon and Mattie will provide. Hazel is here.”
“Jah. They are a blessing.”
He strode to the door without looking back. He’d done what he’d come to do. Time to get back to work and leave all this emotional falderal to the women.
“Aidan.” Her voice held a note of pleading. “I appreciate you coming by. Danki.”
He couldn’t look back. She’d see his face. He shoved his hat down over his forehead and let the door slam behind him.
About Kelly: Two-time Carol Award finalist Kelly Irvin is the author of the Amish of Bee County, Bliss Creek Amish, and New Hope Amish series. Her latest novel is Upon a Spring Breeze, the first in a four-book series, Every Amish Season, published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing.
About the book – Upon a Spring Breeze:
After a devastating year, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.
Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.
Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.
When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy—and the possibility of love?
Can’t wait for the drawing. Get your copy now:
Question for Readers: What male literary character do you find particularly romantic and why?
Come back April 28th for Darlene Franklin!