Her Amish Country Valentine
The Butternut Amish B & B Book 1
Harlequin Heartwarming Pub
March 28th, 2023
Her Amish Country Valentine by Patricia Johns blends Englishers within an Amish community. Readers will have fun seeing how a romance can bloom from strangers to friends to falling in love. What also makes the plot interesting is how the author has set up not one, but four different relationship stories.
The story opens with Jill Wickey coming to Danke Pennsylvania for her younger sister’s wedding. She is staying with her Amish great-aunt, Belinda, the owner of Butternut Bed & Breakfast. After her sister, Elsa, teases Jill about her single status she claims she has a plus one. Now, she just needs to find a date. A carpenter working on Aunt Belinda’s kitchen agrees to be Jill’s plus one with some prodding, but only if she agrees to casually date him before the wedding. He doesn’t like misleading people and this way it won’t technically be a lie. As they get to know each other they realize that they have a lot in common with strong feelings.
Jill’s family is English along with Amish cousins and Belinda who remained Amish. Belinda’s other job is being a matchmaker to the Amish community. She is asked by Nellie King to find her a husband, the condition for keeping her father’s farm. What Belinda does not realize is that her neighbor, Eli, aspires to be with her.
Each of the couples are struggling with their differences: Jill is a city gal while Thom wants to stay in the country. Elsa wants a big wedding, while Sean wants to just be married by a judge. Nellie needs a farmer, while Mark knows nothing about it although he is willing to learn. Belinda sees Eli as too dependent and odd.
The four couples, Jill and Thom, Elsa and Sean, Nellie and Mark, and Belinda and Eli, think they have different reasons for finding or avoiding love. Readers will go through all the emotions as each couple struggles to find their happily ever after.
Elise Cooper: The idea for the story?
Patricia Johns: My best-selling books are Amish. Heartwarming Publishing is not an inspirational line but are sweet stories. I suggested an Amish adjacent, which has an Amish environment, but the hero and heroine are English characters. We worked within the line requirements. In this book, it was a country versus a city story. I am drawn to Amish romances because of the way the community connects.
EC: It seemed the city people were the isolated ones; can you address that?
PJ: Often times I write about the insiders versus the outsiders. People within a tight community versus those city dwellers who are wishing they can be a part of the tight community. I liked the idea putting the English heroine, Jill, in an environment surrounding the wedding of her little sister. There is a tight Amish community and there are the English within the community who like living the country way. Now Jill is the fish out of water.
EC: What about the differences between Jill and her sister Elsa?
PJ: Both sisters are jealous of each other and have different strengths
Elsa is better with connecting with those in the family that stayed Amish. She is more domestic, able to knit and cook. A real people pleaser.
Jill is a loner, tough, intimidating, and does not reconnect easily. She is a workaholic, independent, private, succeeds professionally, and a career woman. Yet, she is guarded, pragmatic, and levelheaded.
EC: How would you describe Thom?
PJ: He is kind, honest, a hard worker, stubborn, wounded, protective, and decent.
EC: Can you describe the relationship between Jill and Thom?
PJ: Jill must look closer at what she wants for her life. She must decide what she wants to give up, and what she is willing to compromise on. She is in her thirties, so she has a direction, and has made choices/sacrifices to get where she is. At this point in her life is she willing to sacrifice what she has become? She wants a romance but is not sure how to open herself up to one. While Thom’s last romance had his heart more into it than his girlfriend. This really hurt him. It makes him ‘once bitten, twice shy.’ Then he falls head over heels for Jill, which loosens his feelings up again.
EC: What is the role of Eeyore?
PJ: I love him. He represents everything in the country life, where there is no control. He has his own mind and ideas. He is the heart and soul of the bed and breakfast. Eeyore can be obstinate, stubborn, adventurous, and does his own thing. I contrasted Eeyore with Jill and Elsa who want to control something. Elsa wants to control how people see her, the relationship with people, to have everything sweet and wonderful all the time. Jill wants to control her achievements and professional success. Then there is Eeyore the donkey who no one can control.
EC: There are four couples that try to achieve a relationship: Aunt Belinda and Eli, Amish Nellie and Mark, Jill and Thom, and Elsa and Sean. Are there similarities or differences?
PJ: There are marriages for convenience and marriages for love. The practical side has no guarantee they will find love, while the romantic side is making sure the personality of the partner makes it easy to live with.
Nellie is naïve, sweet, kind, and sheltered. She eventually decides she wants true love over the practicality. Nellie is a foil to the rest because she thought she wants a practical marriage, while the Englishers are looking for love
Eli is set in his ways, but his animals were his friends and family and companions. Belinda is frustrated with him because of his quirkiness. Eli has always been in love with Belinda.
Sean does not realize that one of his friends, Mae, considers herself his ex-girlfriend even though she has never dated him. He is clueless about her feelings for him. He has been in love with Elsa the whole time. Sean asks Elsa to have Mae as a bridesmaid. She accepts because she does not want to rock the boat although she is jealous of Mae. With the wedding Mae does not like the reality that Sean will never be with her and is off the table.
Jill and Thom must struggle between their lifestyle and their love for each other. Their lifestyles represent their security. They both want to control things to feel safe. Yet, falling in love is very dangerous.
EC: Next books?
PJ: It will take the full series to have Belinda and Eli find their happily ever after. The next book in this series is titled A Single Dad in Amish Country, released on June 27th. The heroine is a commercial pilot, Hazel Dobbs who meets the single dad, a landscaper.
Their Amish Secret will be released April 24th, a love inspired story. The heroine is Claire Glick who had a baby out of wedlock. She manages a bed and breakfast. The father of her son, Joel Beiler, shows up at her doorstep with medical problems. There is a lot of distrust between them. The theme of this book is what does each person in a relationship really bring to it.