1923 – Colorado
1908 – Oregon
Home is the last place he wants to be for Christmas . . .
When an urgent telegram arrives from his mother, begging him to return home, old West photographer Percy Bruner can’t refuse. After an almost five-year absence, he dreads returning to the small eastern Oregon town of Hardman where he grew up. He’d dreamed of raising a family there, and loving his sweetheart until they were both old and gray. But with her gone, the only thing the town can offer him is painful memories.
Now that his family needs him, Percy must face the ghosts that continue to haunt him, and make the hard choice of letting go of his past or giving up on his future.
Will his return the place he once loved give shattered hearts a chance to heal and make a special Christmas wish come true?
1944 – Minnesota
Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.
Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they’re not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her a second chance.
As Johanna interacts with the men of the camp and censors their letters home, she begins to see the prisoners in a more sympathetic light. But advocating for better treatment makes her enemies in the community, especially when charismatic German spokesman Stefan Werner begins to show interest in Johanna and her work. The longer Johanna wages her home-front battle, the more the lines between compassion and treason become blurred–and it’s no longer clear whom she can trust.
1865 – Iowa
Strong-willed watercolor artist Amelia York thought she could paint the scenes of her own life – that is until she finds herself responsible for getting her brother, a paralyzed war veteran, home to Iowa and must deal with the moody Army captain God has painted into her life.
Captain Braedon McCrae is ruled by honor and a strong sense of duty. Still, the deaths of two people close to him have left him angry at God and vowing to never love again.
After a steamboat incident forces Amelia and Braedon to marry, Amelia must decide if she will accept Braedon’s offer of an annulment or keep the sacred vows she made before God.
The more Amelia attempts to control her future, the more she muddies the picture, like watercolors in the hand of a child. Can she learn to love, respect, and trust a man she barely knows?
1789 – Virginia
Would their love survive the invisible wounds of war?
Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.
Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.
Two hearts changed by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost; Setting Two Hearts Free?
1936 – Kentucky
The mountains have imprisoned her long enough…
Edna Sue O’Connell came back to the Kentucky hills out of duty and can’t wait for the chance to escape again. Her work as a horseback librarian in rural Appalachia provides enough income for her invalid father to survive in the midst of the Great Depression, but it affords her with little else.
When an opportunity arises for Edna to take on an additional book delivery area, she spies a glimmer of hope that she might find a way out of Willow Hollow after all… and that she might actually make something of her life apart from the tragedy that has filled it thus far.
But the new routes give Edna more than she ever bargained for. Slowly, she finds that the mountains contain many valuable secrets – if she has the grit to meet them.
The Secret Place of Thunder is part of the Librarians of Willow Hollow multi-author novella collection. Each novella stands on its own but is connected to the others in this historical Christian fiction series set in 1930s Appalachia.
1885 – Colorado
He has to choose – keep his secrets or the woman he loves. He can’t have both.
With no husband of her own, midwife Sophie Price lives to keep others calm in their hour of need. But when a handsome horse handler steps off the train with a fiery stallion, he brings anything but calm as he looks her dead in the eye and clear through to her soul.
Clay Ferguson returns to the place he once called home, hunting a fresh start and the one woman who could draw him back. If he can hide his battered heart and the brutality of his past, maybe she’ll take another look and give him a second chance.
Both bear scars from their fathers. Both fight for life. Together, they may learn that love is worth its impossible price.
1882 – Iowa
A prodigal’s hope for a happy homecoming is derailed.
Clay left home after his brother’s death—a death for which he was responsible. After years away he’s finally returning, hoping for reconciliation with his father. But when the stagecoach he’s riding in wrecks and he is injured, he finds himself in a fight for survival.
Jolie is fleeing a nightmare situation. She desperately hopes becoming a mail-order bride doesn’t land her in a worse place. When the stage crashes and she spends the night alone with a wounded man, she wonders if her intended will still want her. If he doesn’t, what will she do? She has no money and nowhere to go.
1865 – Kansas
As a Union sniper, killing has become easy for Captain Christmas “Chris” Haley. After four long years of fighting against his own countrymen, the once naïve farm boy is now a war hardened soldier whose faith in God is shaken. Chris is ready to set aside his rifle and return to his Kansas farm. But will his family accept the man he’s become—angry and unsure if he still believes in God?
Chris struggles with being home. His mother’s pretty caregiver catches his eye and begins to give him a reason to go on each day. In spite of his bitterness, his heart is softening. But what happens when he learns the secret Hannah is keeping?
late 1800s? – Texas
Once the town outcast, Nate Powell leaves his Texas home and rises to success as a respected Boston banker. But his life is empty without Hattie Brown, the saloon girl he left behind. Hoping she’ll give him a second chance, he returns to Texas, the place of bad memories and the home of Zachariah Keane, the man Nate blames for his sister’s death.
Now a Christian, Hattie ekes out a hard and humble living. When Nate returns without warning and promises her a life beyond her dreams, Hattie’s heart is torn. Her love for him has never died, but how can she leave her beloved home or Zachariah, the godly man who’s become like a brother to her? Especially when Nate’s become so hardened and unyielding.
In order to find happiness with the woman he loves, Nate will have to find a mend for his divided heart, forgive the man he’s grown to hate, and find peace with God.
1909 – Kansas
In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child, finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job.
Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy’s mistrust, but he’s returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn’t expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the best interests of the children at heart.
Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for?
1934 – Canada
In the dead-end Canadian town of Bleak Landing, twelve-year-old Irish immigrant Bridget O’Sullivan lives in a ramshackle house and dreams of another life, even as the Great Depression rages. Routinely beaten by her father and bullied by schoolmate Victor Harrison, the waifish yet fiery redhead vows to run away and never return. Just a few short years later, run she does—fleeing the unspeakable repercussions of her father’s gambling. In Winnipeg, Bridget lands a job at a garment factory, the first step on her journey to shed her past and begin anew.
When her father dies, Bridget—now a striking and accomplished woman—returns home to claim her inheritance. But she has no identification to prove her stake, and no one in town recognizes her—except Victor, who has become a pastor and a candidate for town mayor. Though war has wounded him, his secret affection for Bridget remains, and now he’s the only one who can help her prove her integrity. But can he also prove he’s a changed man worthy of her forgiveness?
As Victor preaches of freedom in faith, will his words spark Bridget’s once-hopeless heart and lead her to the life she’s been seeking?
1900 – Texas
It’s 1900 and Brent Murphy, a prodigal son, is disillusioned with New York and his life as a newspaperman. Drawn home to Galveston Island, Brent knows it is likely he will face rejection from his father. On Saturday September 8, 1900, without warning, the citizens of Galveston Island are in for the fight of their lives when the hurricane of the century hits. In a single night of horror, more than 6,000 islanders lose their lives and countless others are left in devastation.Through the experience, Brent finally faces the truth of his own childhood and the stormy relationship he has with his parents. He finds the courage to write the story of his past and discovers a loving God.
1865 – Mississippi
She pretends to be a Yankee officer’s widow in order to survive. But what will she do when he returns home to a wife he didn’t marry?
Her heart sought shelter. Her soul found home.
Ella Whitaker rescues a newborn from the dying arms of a woman of ill repute and at long last she has someone to love. In need of a wet nurse, she arrives at Belmont Plantation just as Federal soldiers demand to speak to the owner. Thinking quickly, Ella masquerades as a Yankee officer’s widow in order to have a roof over her head and a home for the child.
Major Westley Remington has dedicated his life to serving his country. The Civil War has divided his family, torn his thoughts of glory, and left him with a wound that may never heal. Westley returns home on medical furlough to settle his father’s estate at Belmont Plantation, only to find his home is being run by a fiery and independent woman—one many believe to be his wife. Now he is faced with a conflict he’s never been trained to fight, and one she has yet to conquer.
1907 – California
A cattle thief is loose in Harmony Valley. Elena Seifert wants to help her father guard his dairy farm, but everyone thinks that’s a man’s job. When her childhood sweetheart returns to Harmony, her heart is torn between Jonas Bollinger, her secret love, and Lars Rissler, the wealthy middle-aged storeowner her parents hope she marries.
Jonas never imagined he’d be back in Harmony Valley, but his pa isn’t well. When Jonas makes a promise he wishes he didn’t have to keep, he is torn between loyalty to his family and the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
The thief continues to strike, while a dispute among dairy farmers stirs up discord in the Valley. Is a truce possible so everyone can live in harmony? And will Elena and Jonas find the inner peace to choose love and still do what is best for their families?
1885 – Colorado
After two years, Tolley Northam returns home, transformed from a mischievous youth into an ambitious lawyer confident of winning his father’s approval at last. But he soon begins to wonder if the only way to do so is to marry family friend Laurie Eberly—a woman his father has always liked. If only she weren’t so adamant about refusing Tolley’s proposal…
Laurie’s childhood friend is now a handsome, accomplished lawyer with undeniable charm. But she can’t accept Tolley’s proposal; she believes it’s just to earn his father’s praise. First he’ll have to prove to her that he wants her for a wife not because his father thinks she’s the perfect match, but because he does.
1886 – Tennessee
Convinced that Allison Ashworth deserves better, Sheriff Shane Timmons has always tried to remain aloof around his childhood companion. But with Allison in Gatlinburg for the holidays, insisting on caring for two motherless babies, Shane feels obliged to help her. How can he keep his distance when she and the children are quickly becoming the family he never dared to wish for?
As a girl, Allison was drawn to the wary yet handsome Shane, who never seemed to look her way. But in spending time with him and two sweet babies, she might yet find a chink in the confirmed bachelor’s armor. Every shared moment gives Allison hope that this Christmas, her dreams of motherhood—and a life with Shane—may finally be coming true.
1884 – Tennessee
Jane O’Malley’s young heart broke in pieces when the man of her dreams left town after being rejected by her sister. Years later, Tom Leighton returns home, and Jane’s old feelings for him rush back as forcefully as the Tennessee mountain springs.
Tom left Gatlinburg behind without a word to allow his hurt heart to heal. Now he’s a man with a young niece to raise and amends to make in town to the people he abandoned—especially to Jane. The girl from his past has become a gorgeous, kind woman. Can he prove to her that she’s the only woman he wants?
1891 – Washington
Humiliated after her broken engagement, Claire Montgomery flees her comfortable life in San Francisco for a teaching position in Pine Creek, Washington, a dot of a town nestled in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She’s determined to succeed—for once in her life—only to discover, upon her arrival, that success will have to be won. Thanks to a school board error, two teachers have been hired.
When scandal forces professor Barrett Clarke from his position, he returns to Pine Creek where his uncle, chairman of the school board, sets forth an irresistible offer: teach one year in return for ranchland. For this would-be rancher, nothing is more tempting than resurrecting his childhood dream, and nothing can deter him from earning that land.
Except perhaps Claire Montgomery. Losing the battle for the classroom means losing the ranchland, but winning may mean losing Claire’s heart.
1841 – New York
Rugged logger Daniel Braynard meets none of Ellen Hall’s husband requirements. Groomed for a prestigious marriage, she already has a choice between two wealthy suitors. She plans to make her decision by Christmas while visiting her hometown. But when tasked with creating the town’s decorations, she and Daniel are forced to work together. And her former childhood rescuer has matured into a man she can no longer ignore. Daniel hardly recognizes the ambitious socialite Ellen has become. Somewhere beneath her airs is the spirited, warmhearted friend he has never forgotten. As Christmas nears, will the chill between them thaw to reveal the gift of a sweet love that was meant to be?