An Unexpected Amish Harvest (The Amish of New Hope, 2)
Twenty-three-year-old Susannah Peachy believes her life is wonderful. Visiting her grandfather Marshall Sommer and step-grandmother Lydia in New Hope, Maine, at Christmastime, she falls in love with Peter Lambright, who asks to be her suitor.
Soon afterward, she returns home to Dover, Delaware, and she and Peter correspond frequently and talk on Sundays at their phone shanties. She trusts she and Peter have a future together, so she is shocked when he calls stating he doesn't think they would be a good match. Depressed and incredulous at his decision, Susannah goes about her life tending to her father, brother, and his family. She repeatedly plays what could have changed Peter's mind in her head, and she considers he is ashamed of her weight. Why didn't he show any displeasure of this while they were together?
With her father hospitalized with complications from diabetes and obesity, Susannah decides to cook more healthfully. Her mother, who never took care of her health, passed away four years earlier, making Susannah determined not to lose her father, too. She learns about eating right and is pleased when everyone loses weight and feels more energized. It is not the Amish way to be vain about one's body, so she confirms she is doing this for health reasons. It doesn't help she is heartbroken over losing Peter and having no desire to eat, she uses the excuse of cooking healthful foods to make her family healthy.
Nine months pass, and Susannah, having lost considerable weight, receives a call saying Lydia has fallen and broken her wrist and needs her assistance in Maine. Afraid of seeing Peter again, Susannah cannot turn down her grandparent's request, for she loves them and wants to help in any way she can.
Susannah arrives, astounding Lydia by her slimness. Lydia makes many comments embarrassing Susannah by her attention. She explains her father's current health and how everyone is now healthier by changing their eating habits. Susannah takes on Lydia's chores, planning to cook more nutritious meals for her grandparents, too.
Now at harvest time, Marshall hires extra help on his potato farm. Lydia's fourteen-year-old twin great-nephews, Conrad and Jacob, are coming from Ohio, and Marshal employs two others—a bachelor from nearby . . . none other than Peter!
Susannah is shocked to see Peter, and the pain of his abandonment hits her with a vengeance. Though Peter owns a business making patio furniture, she cannot understand why he would work the farm instead. She trusts she will not see him often, but when Lydia invites all the men to join the family for lunch, Susannah realizes there's no way to avoid him.
Peter is startled upon seeing Susannah, and he doesn't blame her for acting aloof. After all, he hurt her badly. However, Peter had a purpose for breaking things off, and he cannot and will not disclose why. Because she is so thin, he considers she may be sick:
"Up until this afternoon, Peter had entertained the possibility that she's been ill; maybe that was why she'd lost weight. But seeing her bolting toward him faster than lighting a few minutes ago had eliminated that question from his mind. There was clearly nothing wrong with her health.
"Is it that she's spoiled? Or . . . lazy?
"Although pride was considered one of the worst—if not the worst—character traits an Amish person could have, laziness was a close second. Peter felt judgmental for even contemplating whether Susannah lacked a strong work ethic."
Time passes, and Susannah decides to clear the air with Peter. She wants to know the reason for being rejected, and she is unhappy with the coolness between them, especially seeing they eat lunch together every day. Though Peter regains the loving feelings he once held toward Susannah, he is close-mouthed. He has many secrets he must retain not only from Susannah but from others too, though regarding Susannah, his vow of confidentiality is with Marshall:
"On Monday morning, Peter traveled toward the farm feeling thoroughly energized. He'd spent the better part of the Sabbath either napping or praying for wisdom about his dilemma concerning the promise he'd made to Marshall. The more time Peter spent with Susannah, the more intense his desire to court her became. And he was confident that she would accept him as her suitor again if he asked. Yet, he couldn't court her without breaking his word to Marshall, which was unacceptable to Peter. So, his thoughts had kept circling around and around and ending up back at the same dead end."
This God-fearing and upstanding populace proves how they honor their elders, their promises, and their confidences. Hard-working and dependable, they will stop at nothing to protect their loved ones and remain true to their faith. Many Amish terms are included adding to the authenticity of the heritage and tips on how to cook healthfully. An Unexpected Amish Harvest is book Number Two in The Amish of New Hope series, and though it stands nicely alone, the charm of this tale will prompt others to read the first novel, Hiding Her Amish Secret.