“I wish—I just wish we could all live in a happy, peaceful home again. Is that too much to ask?”
In A Simple Wish, Loretta Riehl’s wistful plea seems reasonable to most of us. But her dat, Cornelius Riehl (from book one, A Simple Vow), claims he’s still grieving his wife’s passing after five years, so when his three daughters encourage him to move beyond his grief, he doesn’t take it well. He lashes out that the girls are dishonoring their mother’s memory, laying on the guilt. As Loretta’s story continues, we not only get the sense that he’s hiding something—we catch him at it!
Drew Detweiler, who has fallen for Loretta, refuses to knuckle under to her father’s manipulation. He suspects that Cornelius is making far too many trips to Kansas City for clock parts, so he and Nora Hooley secretly follow Cornelius one morning. What they see him doing does not befit his office as Deacon of the Willow Ridge church district—and when Bishop Tom and Preacher Ben get wind of it, they press Cornelius to confess and repent.
Cornelius, however, wiggles out of it—promises to order his clock parts through the mail and never go to Kansas City again.
Loretta and her sisters are left to wonder what their dat has done that’s caught Bishop’s Tom’s attention. Loretta defies her father by going to work in Nora’s store, teaching customers how to make rugs with strips of colorful fabric and a “needle” made from a toothbrush! As she falls in love with Drew, she must also break the heart of her former fiancé, Will Gingerich, when she tells him there’s no hope for rekindling the romance her father called a halt to. Underneath the romance story, however, flows the undercurrent of Cornelius’s deceptions . . .
I got the idea for this story thread from my research assistant in Jamesport, MO, who told me that Amish communities often have a “secret bank” which is hidden in a member’s home—it’s their aid fund for paying members’ medical bills and all other types of disaster relief, because Amish folks don’t believe in having insurance. This money is collected in the offering plate twice a year, and is often added to by folks who don’t want to stick their money in an English bank. Over time, the fund can accumulate to an astounding amount.
If this fund were hidden away in your home, would you be tempted to “borrow” from it? Temptation is a human condition and the Amish are no more immune to it than any of us.
So what do you suppose Cornelius is up to?
Charlotte Hubbard is the acclaimed author of Amish romance and fiction that evokes simpler times and draws upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi. Faith and family, farming, and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle—and the foundation of all her novels. A deacon, dedicated church musician and choir member, she loves to travel, read, try new recipes, and crochet. A longtime Missourian, Charlotte now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and their border collie, Vera.