Shannon here: Kelly Irvin shares insight into her latest Amish Romance, Love’s Dwelling, along with a recipe for Chicken and Dumplings, & a Romantic Excerpt. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print copy, U.S. only. Deadline: July 17th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Kelly:
From the time Cassie Weaver first glimpsed Mason Keim standing at the front door in her employers’ house she knows there’s something different about him. She’s drawn in by his obvious love for his five younger siblings. His desire to do what is best for them even if it means giving them up to his grandparents who are strangers speaks well of his character. He’s a good man. He’s also pleasing to the eye. But she knows that’s as far as it can go. He’s English. She’s Amish. Never the two shall mix.
None of us get to choose with whom we fall in love. Romantic feelings often grow despite our best efforts. The Amish are no exception. However, their community demands that they set those feelings aside and put their vows of faith first. Marrying an Amish person means leaving their faith, their community, and their family behind. It’s a horrific price to pay for love.
In Cassie’s case she’s determined to stay true to the vows she made when she was baptized and joined the
Amish faith. Nothing can be more important—no matter how her heart aches.
So Cassie does what she does best. She takes care of Mason’s younger brothers and sisters, she cleans, and she cooks. One of the ways she can safely interact with Mason is to feed him. He frequently joins the family for supper. One of her first meals features chicken and dumplings. The kids eat like they’re starving, and she feels good that they like her cooking.
Cooking is a love language for Cassie. She cooks, cleans, and sews for the people she loves. She would like to do those things for Mason as his wife, but it simply isn’t possible. So she confines herself to cooking. Having him sitting at the supper table, making conversation, laughing, and teasing his siblings is the closest she can come.
For Mason it’s an opportunity to spend time close to his siblings, but also with Cassie. He can get to know her better, observe her with the kids, and enjoy the sound of her voice and her laughter. Plus he gets a home-cooked meal, something he doesn’t get at home. He loves Cassie’s cooking—and he’s falling in love with her. He’s been told repeatedly by the people who love Cassie that she is off limits to him. He would never do anything to hurt her or jeopardize his relationship with his new grandparents. He tries his best to ignore his feelings for her and focus on what’s best for his younger siblings. Sitting across the supper table from Cassie, eating her cooking, is the closest to her he can get.
It’s the closest to romance either of them can allow themselves to get.
Here’s the chicken and dumpling recipe I imagine Cassie preparing for Job and Dinah and their newly discovered family. (She would have to double the recipe to feed 9 people, including five growing kids!)
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 medium onion
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1 /4 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large potatoes, diced
- 2 cups of green peas
- Boil chicken until tender.
- Remove from the bone and discard skin
- Add other ingredients and bring to a boil.
Prepare dumplings as follows:
2 cups of flour
1 /2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 /3 cup melted margarine
3 tablespoons of milk
Mix all dry ingredients and then add egg and milk and stir just until moistened. Drop dough from teaspoon into boiling broth. Cover tightly for 15 minutes. Don’t uncover until ready to serve.
Excerpt from Love’s Dwelling by Kelly Irvin:
Despite the groans that greeted her instructions, the kids settled at the table and went to work. The chatter abated. Cassie concentrated on making the dumplings and shredding the chicken for her favorite dish. She’d just dropped the last dumpling into the savory chicken and vegetable concoction when Jennie skipped into the kitchen to announce Mason’s arrival. “He brought apple cider. I love apple cider.”
Sure enough, Mason followed, a huge glass jug of apple cider in one arm. “Sorry. I know I’m early. It was the boss’s birthday so he let us all go a little early this afternoon.”
“You’re right on time.” Cassie took the jug from him. “You didn’t need to bring anything.”
“It sounded good and I feel bad always showing up here for free meals and never contributing anything.”
“Just your presence is enough.”
The words popped from Cassie’s mouth before she had a chance to consider how they might sound. “I mean—”
“Thank you. It’s nice to sit down to a home-cooked meal. At home, I mostly get takeout or make a sandwich.”
“No sandwiches here. On the menu we have homemade chicken and dumplings.” The heat in her cheeks was the result of the wood-burning stove and not her big mouth. “There’s always room at the table, isn’t there, Dinah?”
“Always. How was work?” Dinah took the conversation and ran with it, leaving Cassie to direct Kathy and
Jennie to set the table while she checked on the food and regained her composure. Why did she always feel slightly off balance around Mason? She was never good with boys. Which probably explained why she was still single.
Mason was different from the Amish men she’d known. Old beyond his years. Wearied by the world. Yet, kind and careful with his words. He wore his responsibilities like an old suit that fit perfectly.
Why spend so much time analyzing this English man? Cassie mentally rolled her eyes. Nothing good could come of such mental meanderings. Instead she focused on finishing up the food and getting it on the table.
The kids attacked the food as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks. Kevin practically inhaled his dumplings. So did Bobby and Kathy, who cleaned their plates in record time.
Donny wasn’t as enthusiastic. He pushed his food around his plate with his fork. “I didn’t eat the peas or the carrots. They’re gross.”
“The carrots will help you see all the way to Wichita.” Mason was working his way through his second big helping of dumplings. Cassie grinned to herself. He liked her cooking. Or maybe he was starved for any home cooking. Mason flexed his biceps. “Vegetables turn you into The Incredible Hulk.”
“I already ate my peas. I held my nose, but I ate them.” Jennie sat next to Mason, which she considered the place of honor. “I ate my carrots too.”
“You’ll be a better baseball player than your brother, for sure.” Mason and Jennie exchanged high fives and bumped elbows. “Before you know it, you’ll be hitting home runs in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.”
“Girls don’t play for the Royals,” Bobby objected.
“Then I guess you can’t either, ’cuz you throw like a girl.” Kathy stuck her tongue out at him. “And that’s a compliment because I throw really good.”
“That’s enough, kinner.” Job pushed aside the empty bowl that had held canned peaches. “Finish eating. You have chores to do.”
Conversations at the Keims’ table had surely changed since the kids came to live with them. Funnier. Even if it shouldn’t be. Cassie stood and picked up the empty pot that had held the chicken and dumplings. “If you’re done eating, you can start clearing the table, Kathy.”
“Me too, me too.” Jennie scrambled down from the bench. At four she was more of a hindrance than a help, but she was learning fast. Her enthusiasm for the small jobs Cassie gave her made up for the mishaps with dropped bowls and odd table settings.” Can I wash this time?”
“You’re too short to stand at the sink and wash.” Cassie patted her shoulder. “But you can help Kathy dry. She’ll dry and give the dish to you to put away. How does that sound?”
Cassie grinned. “You’re doing gut with the Deutsch.”
“I’ll follow along and keep you company.” Dinah picked up her walking stick from its spot leaning against the wall next to her. “We can work on your Deutsch vocabulary some more.”
“Jah, jah, jah!” Jennie sang as she skipped away. “Nee, nee, nee.”
“So much energy. She’s like the Energizer Bunny.” Mason chuckled. “When she stops moving for a few seconds, she’ll pass out and sleep.”
Job stood and headed to the coatrack. He shucked on his coat. Bobby followed without his usual smirk. He knew the routine. Feed the animals and whatever other chores Job gave them. The kids were to help and then do their homework.
If they had time they played games and had story time with Dinah, if she wasn’t too tired. Then bed. At first it had been a contest of wills to get them to bed at an hour suitable for people who arose at dawn, but with no TV or video games to fill the space and early breakfast time, they’d stopped fighting it.
Mason frowned. “Aren’t the boys going to help?”
“Menfolk don’t do dishes. They have their own chores.”
“Tell me they at least make their own beds.”
He was so funny in his English ways. Cassie shrugged. “Sorry.”
“Division of labor, I guess. We always rotated. They used to argue over whose turn it was so I had to make a chart. ’Course cleanup was mostly sticking dishes in the dishwasher. We didn’t cook from scratch like you do. Fish sticks and bagel bites for five were more my style.” He picked up his plate and handed it to her. “Which is why I really appreciate a good home-cooked meal. I did everything but lick it clean.”
Cassie wanted to say many things. That he’d done the best he could. That the kids were good kids. Nice, considerate, kindhearted. The important attributes. “You sure you don’t want some peaches?”
“I’m stuffed to the gills.” Mason patted his flat belly. “I need that wheelbarrow again to cart me to the living room.”
Cassie shifted the pot to her hip and picked up the water pitcher with her free hand. “More to drink?”
“Thanks, but no. I’ll explode. Let me help with the dishes. It’s the least I can do.”
“The girls will get them. It’s good for them to have chores.”
“That’s true.” Mason cleared his throat. He drummed one index finger on the table. “I talked to Perry. A while back, actually.”
“Is he coming to see Dinah? She’ll be so excited.”
“No, I’m sorry. I know he’s my uncle, but he’s not a very nice person. She’s better off not knowing that.”
“His refusal to see her after Georgia’s death will tell that story.” Cassie could already see Dinah’s determined resignation. “Gott’s will be done,” she would say. But her attempt to hide the pain would be futile. It would show in her sagging shoulders and the way she clutched her hankie until she was forced to dab at the tears on her cheeks. “How did the son of two such sweet people turn out like that? I don’t understand. I want to be a mother, but I sometimes wonder what I’d do if my children turned out like Job and Dinah’s—no offense.”
She cringed inwardly. One minute she was offering him more food and the next she managed to insult his mother.
“None taken.” Mason studied the floor, his boots, the table, as if seeking something lost long ago. “I don’t know much about good parenting—I haven’t seen a lot of it. I do know my mother loved me and all her kids. Sometimes people do the best they can. They’re not perfect, but neither are we.”
Mason swished the wet napkin around some more. He studied the table. “Do you think maybe we could talk later . . . outside? It’ll be chilly—”
What a terrible idea. Yet, every bone in Cassie’s body wanted her to say yes. There was no harm in a quick chat on the front porch once the kinner were in bed. Except Plain women didn’t step out for late-night chats alone with English men.
“Cassie, Jennie dropped a glass and broke it.” Kathy stuck her hands on her hips and paused in the kitchen doorway. “Mammi doesn’t want me to clean it up. She’s afraid I’ll cut myself. I won’t. I’m eight.”
Cassie backed away from the table. “I have to go.”
“You all are doing a good job with them.”
“You gave them a good start.”
“Not really.” Intense emotion blazed in his eyes. He wanted something from her. But what? She wanted something from him too. A taste of the immense love he lavished on his brothers and sisters. He was all in. Heart and soul. Cassie tried to pick up her feet, but they wouldn’t move. “You’ll be a good father one day.”
A good husband.
A soul mate.
For some blessed English woman. How could she have let this happen? All she ever wanted was a man to love and a big family to raise with him. Now this man came along. This English man. She couldn’t have feelings for him. She simply could not.
She should say no. No talking later. No talking ever. “I’ll probably be putting the kids to bed and you’ll need to get back. It’s a long drive.”
The emotion fled, replaced with a neutral mask that slid into place. “Sure. Right.”
There was nothing right about it.
Kelly Irvin is the author of more than 25 Amish romance novels. She is currently working on her latest series, Amish Blessings, set in the Kansas Amish communities of Yoder and Haven.
She is the author of the Amish of Big Sky Country series, which focused on three Amish communities in northwestern Montana affected by devastating wildfires. These included Mountains of Grace, The Long Bridge Home, and Peace in the Valley.
The first book in her Every Amish Season series, Upon a Spring Breeze, won the 2018 Readers Choice Award from the Faith, Hope, and Love Chapter of Romance Writers of America in the long contemporary romance category.
She is also the author of the Amish of Bee County series that includes The Saddle Maker’s Son, The Bishop’s Son and The Beekeeper’s Son. This last novel received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” The Beekeeper’s Son was a finalist in the national 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest in the romance category. Kelly is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest House.
A former public relations professional, Kelly writes full time and lives in Texas with her husband Tim. They are the parents of two kids, three grandkids, and two ornery cats. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Love’s Dwelling
God always had a plan. But how could falling in love with an Englischer be God’s plan for her?
Young Cassie Weaver only wants what is expected of an Amish woman: a good Amish husband and a large family. But she’s happy as Job and Dinah Keim’s housekeeper, helping Dinah, who is losing her sight due to diabetes. For two decades the Keims have prayed for the salvation of their two children who left the community in a cloud of shame and mystery.
Mason knew there was more to his mother’s past than she let on, but nothing could have prepared him for learning about his Amish roots upon his mother’s sudden death. Even more surprising, his mother named her Amish parents, Job and Dinah, as guardians to her five children. Now Mason has to trust that this couple, and their pretty housekeeper, can take care of his younger siblings, even when all he wants is to take care of them himself.
As the children adjust to this new lifestyle, Mason finds himself pulled back to the Keims’ home. Yes, he wants to see his siblings, but it’s the conversations with Cassie that keep him coming back for more. Is there more to this Amish faith and how does it play into his own past? Cassie guards against her growing feelings for Mason, because there can be no happy ending for a Plain girl in love with an Englisch man . . . right?
Award-winning Amish romance novelist Kelly Irvin is back with a heartwarming tale of the power of love to heal all wounds.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win?
Question for Readers: Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
Come back July 9th for Linda Shenton Matchett!