To Choose His Love

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Magdalena Esch has never been allowed to make her own decisions ... about anything. Her mother died when she was a baby, and Maggie was raised by her strict but doting father with help from her much older sisters. So when the chance to work at an Englisch veterinary clinic arises, Maggie is thrilled. Not only will she experience her first taste of freedom, she'll be caring for animals, a task for which she has a gift and a thing that has always brought her great joy. She knows she'll probably return to her Amish roots someday, but the choice will be hers to make, not prescribed by someone else. However, when her father suffers a devastating stroke, her time in the Englisch world is cut short. She races home in the battered old car she recently bought, knowing she'll probably never go back.

Zebulon Lehman has been working toward a goal for years: his own organic vegetable business. He has diligently prepared the fields he rents from his elderly neighbor, and it's almost time to obtain the certifications that will allow him to plant his first crop, destined for the lucrative Englisch farm-to-table market. When his landlord falls ill, he doesn't hesitate to offer the Esch sisters any assistance they need. He hasn't seen Maggie in months, and now that she's home, he realizes that he's missed her: a lot. Working both his own farm and the Esch land, he hasn't had time to think about courting anyone. But now he wonders if the reason he's never been interested in any of the young women of his community is because the woman to whom his heart has always belonged lives right next door.

Maggie has always relied on Zeb and has taken for granted the bond of friendship they have shared since childhood. Just as she's beginning to truly understand how rare and special Zeb really is, she's shocked to find out that her father may have had other plans for her, plans that don't include Zeb. Worse, it's becoming painfully clear that Zeb's affections may lie elsewhere, and that she may have let the one thing she wants and needs more than anything slip through her fingers.

Choosing to love isn't always easy when circumstances get in the way. But if Maggie and Zeb open their minds and hearts, a lifetime of happiness might just be within their grasp.

The Characters

Being the eldest child often means having more responsibility. With four younger siblings, Sarah Beth has a firm understanding of the weight she must bear.

After the passing of her Grossmammi -- a loss almost as devastating as the one the King children endured 12 years earlier when both of their parents were killed in a harvesting accident -- Sarah Beth, 24, is left to look after her special needs sister, Cora, 17, and only brother, Toby, 14. As for her 12-year-old twin sisters, Lovina and Luann, other family members felt it would be best for the girls to live with relatives in another church district, decimating the King family once again.

Family is everything to Sarah Beth! And she is determined to get hers back together ... even if that means putting off her thoughts of courtship and starting a family of her own. But why does her heart beat wildly when she meets her handsome new neighbor, Elias Stutzman? Is she drawn to the allure of his deep blue eyes ... or maybe it is the secrets they are hiding?

Life has been anything but easy for Elias ... abandoned by his Mamm who jumped the fence to Englisch life when he was just a kid ... passed along from one distant relative to another ... running with the wrong group of "friends" who always kept him on the outer edge of their circle.

Now, at 29 years old, Elias longs to be accepted for the hardworking man he is today and leave his past behind him. Hickory Meadows, known for its welcoming folks and strong sense of community, could give him the home he has always dreamed of having -- and possibly a family of his own.

But the shocking damage done to his buggy shop soon after his arrival makes it very clear that he is not welcome. Elias knows only a few people, so who would try to run him out of the church district? Maybe it was just a bunch of bored kids. Perhaps he pushed Sara Beth, his attractive new neighbor with the feisty spirit, a little too far. Or has someone from Elias's past discovered his new life?