Shannon here: Kelly Irvin shares a romantic excerpt from her latest Amish Romance, The Heart’s Bidding. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: August 12th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Kelly:
In The Heart’s Bidding, the subject of romance is a touchy one. Toby Miller, an auctioneer in his family’s business, is a notorious bachelor. Rachelle Lapp loves teaching children with developmental disabilities so much she laments the reality that falling in love, marrying, and having her own children, will mean giving up a job that is more than a vocation—it’s a calling. Amish women don’t keep working outside the home once they marry. Unless it’s a family business, and then only until babies come along. How can she abandon these sweet, beautiful children? And yet. Her heart keeps nudging her, telling her important pieces are missing in her life.
Despite watching his mother and grandmother adapt to life with their spouses on the road six months out of the year calling auctions, Toby is convinced it’s not fair to Amish women to ask them to be single parents for such a huge chunk of time. He longs for a woman with whom he can share his heart. He wants children, lots of children. He lives to call auctions. He loves his job and his life. And yet. His heart keeps telling him important pieces are missing in his life.
The people around Rachelle and Toby can see they’re meant for each other. Toby’s mother and sister do their best matchmaking. Rachelle’s mother reminds her that it’s prideful to think she’s the only one who give those children what they need.
Then circumstances force Rachelle to face that very reality. Will she move away from Lee’s Gulch in order to keep teaching? Or will she stay and face her feelings for Toby?
I’m what writers call a seat-of-the-pants writer. I don’t outline. I let the story take its course. There were several junctures where I really wondered if Toby, such a stubborn man, and Rachelle, such a dedicated, loving teacher, would ever see how bereft they would be without true love—without each other—in their lives.
Sometimes people do everything possible for many reasons—most of which seem perfectly understandable—to avoid trusting their hearts to another person. When they discover what they’ve been missing, they can’t believe they’ve been so blind and wasted so much time. I hope readers enjoy Toby and Rachelle’s journey as they struggle to figure out how to make the pieces of the puzzle that are their lives fit together. I find it quite romantic! Here’s an excerpt from The Heart’s Bidding:
Relief surged through Toby. Followed by an equal wave of nerves. Rachelle wasn’t asleep. He’d almost turned around and gone home at least twice. Only the knowledge that Rachelle would think he’d intentionally stood her up had kept him going. That and the need to tell her his father had agreed to her tutoring. The rest of the time he’d contemplated the probability that she would be asleep and never wanted to see him again. And how could he wake her up? He had no idea which room was hers. Throwing rocks at windows seemed way too juvenile for a man of his age. When she stuck her head out the kitchen window and announced she would be “right back,” he’d been so surprised he dropped the reins.
He hopped from the buggy and tied the reins to the hitching post. Then he paced. All the jumbled words in his head disappeared, leaving behind a blank chalkboard. Rachelle, my life’s a mess. Rachelle, my dat didn’t renew our insurance. Rachelle, I had to go to Virginia Beach, but it wasn’t my fault. Nee. Nee. He couldn’t blame anyone else. Rachelle, this was a mistake. How would she take that? Kissing her was a mistake? How could it be?
“You’re going to wear out your boots, pacing like that.” Rachelle pushed through the back porch screen door and came to the railing. Her tone was as stiff as her posture. Despite the late hour, her hair was neatly pinned under her prayer covering. Her teal dress and apron didn’t have a single wrinkle. Her smile from the previous evening was nowhere in sight. “Come inside before you kill the grass.”
Not exactly a rousing welcome, but at least she was still talking to him. And letting him into her family’s house.
Toby followed her inside. She said nothing in the time it took to pull a pitcher of water from the refrigerator, fill a glass, and bring it to him.
He accepted it with his thanks. “You’re not having any?”
She fingered the green-and-white-checked tablecloth. Her gaze came up and met his. “Sorry isn’t enough.”
A simple statement delivered in an even, matter-of-fact tone. If she was angry, disappointed, or hurt, she chose not to let it show. Good for her.
Toby launched into the tale of the break-in, the stolen sound systems, the lapsed insurance, the repair work, the phone calls trying to find other auctioneers willing and able to loan them sound equipment, and the trip to Virginia Beach to pick up a system from Mennonite friends so they could keep their commitment to call an auction in Richmond the next day.
Rachelle listened without interrupting. By the time Toby finished, her expression had softened to one of concern. “Your poor dat.”
“I hate that he’s going through this. But there is a silver lining. He’s ready for you to tutor him.”
“Oh, that’s wunderbarr.” Rachelle’s face lit up. “With school being out, I have plenty of time to do the necessary research. I’ll go to the library tomorrow. We can start whenever he’s ready. Whatever hours work for him. If he prefers the evening, that will work. I can meet him in your office. People will think I’m out courting.”
Her enthusiasm turned her cheeks rosy. What would she say if he told her she was the prettiest girl this side of the Mason-Dixon line? “Instead of actually courting?”
She frowned. “What do you mean?”
“All the way to Virginia Beach and back I wanted to figure out a way to be in two places at once. I couldn’t stand the thought of disappointing you. I hated that I’d started something with you and it immediately got messed up.” Toby groped for words that would convey just how much he cared about what she thought. “This is what I meant when I said my job and my life are different. I didn’t expect it to come between us this quickly, but maybe it’s better that it did.”
“Why? Why is it better?”
“Before you . . . before we become too close. Before you get hurt.”
“You think I wasn’t hurt after sitting on the porch swing for two hours and finally admitting to myself that you weren’t coming? That there would be no buggy ride? No . . . kisses?”
“I’m sorry, I truly am. The last thing I want to do is disappoint you. That’s why it’s best that we not do this.”
The previous evening’s ferocity returned in the form of a dark scowl. Her eyes were huge. “Just like that? You get to decide? You kiss me one night and tell me it’s over the next?”
“I’m trying to do what’s right. I’ve always thought this life wasn’t fair to the women.”
“Only because your family refuses to let the women in. Did you know English women become auctioneers—?”
“The district would never allow that.”
“Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean women can’t work behind the scenes, taking care of the inventory items to be auctioned or the bills of sale or making sure everything is lined up properly.”
“My daadi never wanted the women traipsing around the country, the kinner following them. Especially during school. Surely as a tietschern you see that.”
“I see that flexibility is needed. A mann and a fraa have to work together to make a life that is best for the whole family.”
Why were they having this conversation? This theoretical couple, theoretical husband and wife and children? “It can’t be. It just can’t.”
“Only because you refuse to find a way to make it work.” Her voice faded away. She picked up his glass and took it to the sink. She stood with her back to him. “So you really came here tonight to make sure that I’m still willing to tutor your dat. You’d already decided not to court me after all.”
“I wanted you to know I didn’t stand you up for no reason. I wanted to say I’m sorry.”
“Well. You’ve said your piece.” She turned around and faced him. All emotion had fled from her face. “Next time ask Layla to let me know when your daed wants to meet for a tutoring session. No sense you taking time from your busy work schedule to come out here.”
The sarcasm was faint but unmistakable.
“You’ve already said that.” She strode to the back door and held it open. “You better get going. You have a big day tomorrow, what with your busy work schedule.”
Again with the sarcasm.
He stood and walked past her, close enough to touch her rosy cheek. “I hope one day you’ll forgive me.”
She let the screen door shut between them. “Of course I’ll forgive. We’re called to forgive.”
Her final words echoed in his ears as he drove away. “That doesn’t mean I’ll forget.”
Question for Readers: Amish women only work at certain kinds of jobs, such as teaching like Rachelle Lapp. When they marry, they’re expected to stop working outside the home. This is very different than the mainstream world. How do you feel about it? Pros and cons?
About Kelly: Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of thirty books and novellas, including Amish romance, romantic suspense and an upcoming women’s fiction title. Her latest Amish romance novel, The Heart’s Bidding, is the first book in a new series Amish Calling, set in Virginia. The award-winning and bestselling novelist worked as a newspaper reporter before spending more than twenty years in public relations. Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband, photographer Tim Irvin, in San Antonio. They are the parents of two children, four grandchildren, and two ornery cats. Learn more & connect:
About the book – The Heart’s Bidding:
Together, schoolteacher Rachelle Lapp and auctioneer Toby Miller must face their hardest battle yet: trusting God’s plan for their uncertain future.
At twenty-nine, auctioneer Toby Miller is a notorious bachelor. But his job keeps him on the road for months out of the year, and he knows no Plain woman could want a marriage that would force her to live and raise children alone. Thankfully, Toby’s content to dedicate his life to the family business, especially now that his grandfather is retiring. So why does his heart keep longing for something—or more specifically, someone—he can’t have?
Rachelle Lapp has already turned down two marriage proposals. Neither promised a future that would bring her more joy than her job as a teacher to Amish children with developmental disabilities, including her brother, Jonah, and Toby’s sister, Sadie. But when the parents’ committee votes to send her students to the English schools, where they will have access to many more resources, Rachelle finds herself out of a job. She’s forced to decide between pursuing her calling far from home and staying near to the man she can’t get off her mind.
As their families matchmake, Toby and Rachelle realize their jobs may not be all that’s holding them back from a future together. They both must learn not only to trust each other, but also trust God’s plans for them. But do those plans involve a lifetime together or them going their separate ways?
This sweet, inspirational Amish romance is the first in a new Amish romance series focusing on Amish auctioneers. It includes discussion questions for book clubs.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Interested in Kelly’s other titles?
Get your copy/copies now! Kelly’s Books
Come back August 4th for Amy R. Anguish!