Saturday, February 2, 2013

Love Comes to Paradise by Mary Ellis

Back Cover Blurb:
A new home…a new friend…a catastrophe…does she have a future to hope for? Nora King is a woman in love. When Elam Detweiler leaves the ultraconservative Amish district of Harmony, Maine, and moves to Paradise, Missouri, Nora boldly follows soon after. But is she in love with the man or the independence and freethinking he represents? Though she soon finds work she enjoys and a new best friend in Paradise, Nora can’t decide whether she wants to capture Elam’s Englisch-leaning heart or commit finally to her Amish faith.

Then unexpectedly, Lewis Miller comes from Harmony to offer Nora what every woman hopes for—a lifetime of unconditional love. As Lewis attempts to claim her affections, Elam’s interest piques. Suddenly, Nora is irresistible to him. Wooed by two such different men, will Nora come to her senses before Elam’s thoughtless choices ruin her reputation beyond repair? Will Lewis’s pursuit survive the challenge? Love Comes to Paradise is about fresh starts…and how faith in God and His perfect plans provide peace and joy in a turbulent and ever-changing world.

Read the First Chapter:

Living in Paradise
by Mary Ellis
New Beginnings series—Book Two
Chapter One

“Are you lost, miss? This is the bus to Columbia.”

Nora King almost levitated out of her high-top shoes. She turned to find a kind ebony face inches from her own. “I don’t think I am. Do you mean Columbia, Missouri?” She shifted the heavy suitcase to her other hand.

The bus driver chuckled, revealing several gold teeth. “It’s the only one we’ve got. You’re a long way from South Carolina. Want me to stow that in the underbelly or do you want to put it in the overhead?” He pointed at her bag.

The question dumbfounded Nora as people jostled past on both sides. “I’m not sure,” she murmured.

In fact, there wasn’t much she was sure of since leaving Harmony. Who would have thought it would be so hard to get to Missouri? It certainly hadn’t been such an ordeal to travel from Pennsylvania to Maine.

The bus driver straightened after stowing several suitcases into a large compartment above the wheels. “It’s a little over two hours to Columbia from here, St. Louis.” He pointed at the ground, in case she truly was lost. “Is there anything you need from the bag during the drive—snacks, reading matter, personal items?”

“Jah, I mean, yes.” Nora flushed as she lapsed into her Deutsch dialect. “Sorry, I’m Amish.” He offered another magnificent smile. “That much I figured out on my own. Since the bag isn’t too large and you’ll need things, stow in in the rack above your head. But climb up and find a seat. It’s time to go.” The driver pointed at the steps and then resumed packing luggage into the underbelly.

Nora had no idea why she was acting like this. She’d ridden plenty of buses in her lifetime, just not on any this side of the Mississippi River. She was in the West and in the new home state of Elam Detweiler. That thought left her weak in the knees. Nevertheless, she joined the queue boarding the bus in the St. Louis terminal and started the second last leg of her journey.

“Nora? Nora King?” An unfamiliar female voice sang out.

Nora gazed over a sea of English faces, yet none seemed particularly interested in her.

“Back here, Nora.” A small hand waved in the air, midway down the aisle.

Nora inched her way back, careful not to bump anyone with her overstuffed duffle bag.

Her sister, Amy, sewed her several dresses, along with kapps, and then bought her brand new underwear.

Nora should have bought a bigger suitcase. After hefting her bag and jamming it between two others, she peered into the blue eyes of the person calling her name—a pretty girl around her own age. “You’re Amish,” she stammered.

“I am. Did you think you would be the only one?” The girl became even prettier when she smiled. “Sit here with me and stop blocking the aisle.” She patted the vinyl seat beside her.

Acutely aware people were growing impatient behind her, Nora did as she was told. “Danki, I will.”

“I’m Violet, and I’m your official welcome-to-Missouri committee. My mother and me, that is.” She hooked a thumb toward the rear of the bus. “My mamm moved to another seat so you and I could get acquainted during the ride.” Violet straightened her apron over a sage green dress with an expression of pure joy with her idea.

Nora peeked over the seat. Two rows back a middle-aged woman lifted her hand in a wave. She appeared old enough to be the girl’s grossmammi, not her mother. “Danki for saving a seat and for the welcome, but how did you know I would take this bus?”

“It was arranged by Emily Gingerich, sister of Sally Detweiler, sister-in-law to your sister, Amy Detweiler. Hmmm, does that make Sally your sister-in-law, too? I don’t know how that works, but it doesn’t really matter since you’re here now and soon we’ll be in Columbia. My father arranged for a hired van to take us the rest of the way to Paradise. He’ll be waiting at the terminal.” Violet sputtered out of air.

Nora blinked like an owl, bewildered despite Violet’s long-winded explanation. “I see,” she said unconvincingly.

“Forgive me for chattering like a magpie. My daed says I run off at the mouth to make up for the fact I can’t run around.”

She laughed without restraint. “I don’t mind, talk all you want. But are running or jogging frowned upon in your local Ordnung?” Nora was eager to learn the rules and regulations after her experience in the ultra-conservative district of Harmony, Maine.

It was Violet’s turn to stare with confusion. “Goodness no, Nora King. What an odd question. You could run until you drop over with a side-stitch if you like. But I can’t due to bum legs.” She patted her dress where her kneecaps would be. “I fell from the barn loft when I was four years old. I’d sneaked up the ladder when my sisters weren’t looking, even though my parents had warned me a hundred times.”

“Good grief. You’re lucky you weren’t killed.” Nora noticed Violet’s dress was a soft shade of sea-blue with pleasure. Harmony had allowed only navy, black or dull brown.

“That’s the truth. But I don’t have to stay in a wheelchair all the time. I can hobble around on crutches but tire out quickly.” Violet cocked her head as though waiting for a reaction.

Nora shrugged her shoulders. “At least a wheelchair is more comfortable than those hard, back-less benches during preaching services. And you’ll always a place to sit at social events.” She drank deeply from her water bottle.

Violet threw her head back and laughed. “You have a great attitude!” Her freckles seemed to dance across her nose. “You’re not uncomfortable with me being crippled?”

Nora stared at her as the bus pulled out of the depot. “Of course not. Don’t be a goose. What difference does it make whether or not you can run? I can always push your wheelchair fast if you need to get some place in a hurry.”

Without warning, Violet threw both arms around Nora and squeezed. “You and I might end up being good friends.” A perfect stranger until ten minutes ago. An expression of affection from a human being other than her sister, Amy.

“That would be nice,” she said. “Since I don’t have any friends in Missouri. I only had two in Maine and didn’t have many in Lancaster either.” Nora smoothed the wrinkles in her mud-brown dress, wishing she’d worn one of the new ones.

Violet’s eyes rounded. “You once lived in Lancaster? I heard stories how crowded that county has become. Plenty of Old Order folks have resettled here since they couldn’t find affordable farmland to buy in Pennsylvania.”

Nora’s stomach lurched and it had nothing to do with the bus gaining speed on the freeway entrance ramp. “Please don’t tell me where I’m headed has only a dozen families and a town the size of a postage stamp. There were just a couple hundred Amish people in three communities in the entire state of Maine.”

“You’re moving to a place you know nothing about?” Violet drew back, clucking her tongue. “There are nine thousand Amish in Missouri, in thirty-eight settlements and at least ninety districts. Does that brighten your day a bit? The city of Columbia is only an hour away with beautiful parks and nature areas and a super-duper mall.” She leaned over conspiratorially. “But don’t tell my daed that mamm I went there twice after doctor’s appointments. We didn’t buy anything except for a giant pretzel. We just looked around at the stuff Englischers spend their hard-earned money on. My father thinks malls are the devil’s playground, but everyone looked rather harmless to me.”

Grinning, Nora relaxed against the headrest. She liked Violet already. “Harmony would be nice if you’re ready to marry and raise a family, like my sister, Amy. But for a single woman, not ready to settle down, it was deader than an anthill in January.”

“In that case, you’ll like Paradise. We have almost forty Amish businesses in town and spread throughout the county. Lots of bakeries, mercantiles, doll shops, quilts, crafts, antiques, baskets, beside manly businesses like lumberyards, feed-and-seeds, leather tanners and carriage shops. You’ll have no trouble finding a job.” Violet dug cheese crackers from her purse and tore open the pack.

Nora took one to calm her queasy stomach. “Do you mean your Ordnung permits women to work?”

“Of course, women are allowed to work. Where did you say you came from—Maine or Mars?”

Nora choked on the bite of cracker. “The two were pretty much the same thing,” she said after another sip of water.

“Women were forbidden to take jobs outside their homes.” Violet devoured another Nab. “Usually women here quit work once they marry and the bopplin start arriving. But until then, people will scratch their heads or shake a stick if you sit around the house twiddling your thumbs.” She leaned to whisper into Nora’s ear. “Don’t you love that quaint expression—as though babies take the Greyhound to the Columbia depot, call for the hired van, and show up with a fully packed diaper bag.” She unleashed such uproarious laughter the people in front of them peeked over their seats.

Nora snickered. “It does paint a different picture than a mother in hours of painful labor.” She pulled another cracker from Violet’s pack. “I’m glad Paradise isn’t as stodgy as Harmony had been. There was little to do, especially during the winter, with few social events other than singings. And the church singings were for everybody, not just young single people. Plus, did I mention no rumschpringe?”

Violet’s hand, holding the last cracker, halted midway to her mouth. “You’re pulling my pinned-together leg, right? No rumschpringe?”

Nora produced a second water bottle from her purse and passed it to Violet. “I assure you, I don’t joke about the district I used to live in. They were very conservative and tolerated no running-around time.”

“How on earth did folks start courting, marry and then add to the rapidly-growing Amish population? Or are you saying most Harmonians lived and died lonesome, celibate lives?”

It was Nora’s turn to draw the attention of nearby travelers with her outburst. “No, people did manage to meet and fall in love, in spite of the incredible obstacles placed in their path.” She gazed out the opposite window as memories of tall, handsome Lewis Miller flitted through her mind. She could easily have fallen in love with him if not for the monotony of central Maine…and if the irresistible, black-eyed, wild-as-an-eagle Elam Detweiler hadn’t changed everything for her. She shook off thoughts of both men and turned back to her companion. “So you know Emily Gingerich—Sally Detweiler’s sister? I will be staying with her, at least for a while, but we have never met.”

“Of course, I know her. Paradise might be larger than Harmony, but we have plenty of social occasions to meet each other. Besides, Emily owns Grain of Life bakery.” Violet lowered her voice. “They are the best bakery in town, but don’t tell my mamm I said that. One of her schwestern owns another of the shops.”

Nora choked on her gulp of water. “So far you’ve shared with me one secret to keep from your father and another from your mother. We just met today. I could be the world’s biggest blabbermouth.”

“You don’t appear to be and I’m a good judge of character.” Violet studied Nora with narrowed eyes, not the least bit nervous. “Tell me, are you up to the challenge, Nora King, to not divulge the confidences you’ve heard today?”

“You bet I am. It’s been a long time since anybody trusted me.” Nora sighed, remembering Elam and his secrets.

Violet reached down to rub her leg, generating a metal-against-metal sound. “My leg braces itch like the devil sometimes.”

“My brother-in-law, Thomas, said we’re never to invoke the evil one’s name.”

“Jah, daed says the same thing. But I’m not worried about any fallen angel, since I never forget to say my prayers.” She winced, as though her scratching had touched a sore spot. “Now that you’re privy to several of my dark secrets, you must confess one of yours.” Violet settled her hands in her lap.

Nora’s head snapped around. “What do you mean? What makes you think I have any?”

“Come on. My legs might malfunction, but there’s nothing wrong with my mind. You just moved halfway across the country, to a town that’s a complete mystery, to stay with a couple you’ve never laid eyes on. I smell a secret as strong as cheese left out in the sun.” Her stare practically bored holes through Nora. “Don’t you trust me?”

Typical of her impetuous personality, it took Nora no time to decide. Something about Violet appealed to her enormously. She wanted nothing to nip their friendship in the bud. “I fell in love in Harmony,” she whispered, “with the wrong sort of man. I don’t know if he plans to stay Amish, and he doesn’t know I’m coming. But when he left Maine, he headed to Paradise. So I pointed myself in this direction; then put one foot in front of the other until I got on his bus an hour ago.” Nora leaned back in her seat. “Now you know my secret.”

Violet stared at her, speechless and wide-eyed. “That is the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I will take your secret to my grave if need be.”

And if the expression of awe could be trusted as an indicator, Nora had just made a new best friend.

Watch her book trailer:

To buy her book, go here:
Barnes and Noble
Christian Book Distributors

About Mary:
Mary Ellis grew up near the Amish and fell in love with them. She has now written nine bestselling novels set in their communities. When not writing, she enjoys gardening, bicycling, and swimming. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her current series won the Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Her debut Christian book, A Widow's Hope, was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards

To connect with Mary, go here:

Mary is giving away a copy of Love Comes to Paradise. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


Anonymous said...

Oh yes! I'd love the chance to win Mary's book. Sure hope I get lucky this time! She has some really good books! Please put me in.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Judy said...

I would love to win a copy of, Love Comes To Paradise. I love Mary's books. She is a great Amish fiction writer!


Amy Campbell said...

I love Amish fiction. I hear Mary is a great Amish writer.
Campbellamyd at Gmail dot com

Bethany said...

I'd love to be entered!

cbus.blogger at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I would love to win this book to add to our collection in the Church Library.
Thanks for entering me in the giveaway.
Janet E.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KayM said...

I think the book trailer is lovely. I'd love to read the rest of Nora's story.

Nancee said...

Sharon, thank you for featuring Mary Ellis today. She is a terrific author, and a wonderful friend to everyone. I'd love to have the opportunity to win a copy of her book. Thanks for your contest!

ann said...

Im sure it has to be hard to decide what to do in this situation. Does she or dont she? Would love to win this book.Thanks

Patsy said...

I love reading anything amish.

MsRubyKat said...

I would love to win and read Mary's new book. Love reading all her books. Thank you for the chance to win.
Karen Gervais

Jo said...

I love reading Amish stories so would love to win this book. Thanks for the great giveaway!


Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

apple blossom said...

love Amish books thanks for the chance to win

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anne Payne said...

The excerpt had me chuckling :) I would love to read this book!


Teela said...

Thank you for donating your book for this giveaway. I love the read Amish fiction and would really like to win your book, please.

Wendy Newcomb said...

Great giveaway, love Mary's books.


Anonymous said...

I love Amish fiction and would love to read Marys book and see how Nora story enfolds.
marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

Kay from NY said...

Love reading Mary Ellis' books.


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