Her Amish Patchwork Family
In the small community of Hope's Haven, Ohio, Martha Eicher has had to grow up fast. With her mother's passing, she's been in charge of the household, caring for her father and her siblings while also acting as a teacher in the local Amish school. Now, it looks like her family does not need her anymore. Her sisters are grown, with husbands, and her dad has remarried. Martha wonders what she will do with the rest of her life.
She has a reprieve when she's summoned to Shipshewana for three weeks to care for her cousin, Brenda, before and after she gives birth to her third child. However, her three weeks away turn into three months, so now she is back home and happy. But what is she to do? Of course, she can continue living with her daed and stepmother, but she doesn't want to be a third wheel.
Then she hears that Asher Lantz, an old childhood friend, needs a nanny, so she can help him. But 12 years ago they had a misunderstanding, and she wonders if Asher would even want her help. If so, would they be able to mend fences and get along?
Their first meeting does not go so well, and he is barely civil to Martha, but he cannot forget his feelings from long ago:
"When Martha had been the assistant teacher, he'd been in sixth and seventh grades. He's watched her as she worked with the younger students and admired her patience and empathy as she helped them with their work. And somewhere along the way, he'd developed a crush on her. The fact that she was older than him by nearly four years hadn't mattered to his adolescent self.
"Of course, it hadn't helped that for a while that his middle bruder Ephron seemed poised to court her himself. She must have looked at him as nothing more than a kid, one of her pupils.
"And then, the summer between seventh and eighth grades, everything changed. Not only between him and Martha but for his entire family. . . ."
Now, after Asher has lost his brother and sister-in-law, he is the guardian of his brother's four kinner. Though he loves the young ones, it proves to be a burden. He's never raised kids, so how should he know what to do?
Martha is thrilled to be home and able to attend the wedding of her best friend Joan, who happens to be Asher's cousin. And Joan lets on that her fiancé is bringing his friend Laban, the man she wants Martha to meet. The two get acquainted and seem to get along reasonably well, and they correspond when Laban returns home. Their letter-writing has him telling about how beautiful his hometown is and suggesting Martha visit to see if she would like it. The visit ends earlier than planned as Martha realizes Laban is not the man she wants to marry.
Before the wedding, Joan had cared for Asher's' charges along with Oma, their grandmother. Still, with Joan getting married and moving away, he needs permanent help. Then, the children's part-time caregiver is sidetracked and laid up after an accident; now they really need help. So when Martha comes to the rescue, he knows that despite their animosity, he desperately needs her. And the best part for the family is that Martha can move into the house with them and be there whenever needed.
It is an excellent match because Martha is great with children and loves these four unconditionally. Still, there is tension between Asher, his parents, and Martha. They all blame her for Asher's brother, Ephron, leaving home several years before. Little did they know it was all Ephron's doing and not Martha's. She couldn't be happier living among her kin and Amish community, but how can Asher and his parents understand this?
Though Martha once believed she and Ephron would be a couple, his deflecting from his family and faith ended that along with Martha's loving feelings toward him. Will Asher trust her and realize she was not the reason for Ephron's leaving? Will she ever find a man who loves her and have a family of her own?
When Asher's family learns the truth about Ephron, Martha is welcomed with open arms. They all see how much Martha loves the children and how well she cares for them and Oma. Will Asher find his teenage crush for Martha blossom again, and will she learn to care for him despite their four-year age difference? Why should age matter when two people are drawn to each other with similar needs, traits, and values?