In this evocative and heartrending novel, New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray “has created an endearing cast of characters...that both delights and surprises—and will keep you thinking about the story long after you turned the last page” (Leslie Gould, #1 bestselling author).
Marie Hartman never thought she’d move back to Walnut Creek but, still reeling from a friend’s heartbreaking passing, she’s desperate for the comforts of home. And she’s determined to surround herself with people who care more about her heart than her striking looks. Vowing to reconnect with her childhood best friends and find a larger meaning in life, she’s also decided it’s finally time to summon the courage to see if there’s something more between her and longtime friend John Byler than just companionship.
Marie’s homecoming forces John to reassess his life and his hopes for the future. Though he still lives at home with the rest of his old order Amish family, lately he’s been feeling that God intends for him to go another direction. But does He really want John to go against his faith and finally do something about his longtime crush on Marie?
With her signature “taut writing” (RT Book Reviews), Shelley Shepard Gray delivers a lyrical and heartfelt tale of friendship and forgiveness.
Gray (His Promise) opens the Walnut Creek Series with this enjoyable story of two lifelong friends, an Amish man and a non-Amish woman, who realize that they want to be more than friends. Eight friends grew up in Walnut Creek, Ohio. Three were English (non-Amish), three were Amish, and two were Mennonite, yet they had overcome their religious differences to remain close, until adulthood sent them in different directions. When Andy, the leader of the group, hangs himself, the remaining friends gather at the funeral and decide they need to stay in closer contact. For Marie Hartman, that means leaving her successful life in Cleveland and buying a home in Walnut Creek. She's determined to get Amish John Byler to notice her. John has had feelings for Marie for a long time but won't pursue her because she isn't of the faith. When an Amish friend challenges John to do something about how he feels, John makes a decision, both regarding Marie and whether to be baptized again into the Amish faith. But when John makes his decision and faces being ostracized by his community, he and Marie discover that overcoming their differences may be harder than they imagined. While readers will finish wanting to know more about the other members of the original friend group, this is a pleasing story about recovering from grief and a solid beginning for a new series.