Peaks And Valleys
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Steps to the Altar
What does a young couple do with their wedding quilt when the wedding is cancelled? Rebecca Patterson and Connor O'Keefe do their best to return an exquisite Steps to the Altar quilt lovingly made by the bee just for them, but the quilters are too wise to accept it. Can the young couple find a way to solve their problems so they can sleep under their special quilt at last?
When Kate Brogan's mother dies unexpectedly, Kate becomes the guardian of her intellectually-challenged twin sister, Bejoy. At night on the endless trip from Florida to Virginia, Kate teaches Bejoy to applique while she works on her own Woven Paths quilt. The journey opens new possibilities for both twins, but will their paths diverge once Bejoy's future is decided? Or will their lives be woven together forever?
Cathy Adams, bee president, is dismayed when her husband announces he’s taking a high-powered job in the city. When she refuses to leave their country home, Alf goes anyway. Despite pleas to join him, Cathy's decision is firm, so firm that she invites a young couple, Molly and Zach, to live in an old house on the Adams's property to help with chores. When another quilter suggests that Cathy create a Contrary Wife quilt, Cathy tackles the project with enthusiasm. Marriage isn't just about compromise, something newlywed Molly is learning, too. Is the key to marital happiness remaining contrary whenever necessary?
Through the years I've received so many pleas for more stories in my Shenandoah Album series about quilts and quilters in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. While my publisher wanted me to move on to other ideas, many of you did not. And truthfully, I wanted to write more.
Endless Chain, the second novel of the series, introduced a church quilting bee and many of the women who met weekly to pursue their favorite craft. Most of these women were minor characters, appearing only occasionally in Endless Chain and subsequent novels in the series. But these women were real to me, and I decided it was time to share some of their stories.
Steps to the Altar reintroduces the church bee, whose name, over the course of Endless Chain, gradually changed from the Shenandoah Community Church Wednesday Morning Quilting Bee and Social Gathering to the SCC Bee, because these women, like all quilters, had too much to do to waste time. They didn't need a lengthy name. They knew exactly who they were.
The two major characters of that novella, Connor and Rebecca, are new to the series, but you'll find others who are not, and they play a handcrafted version of Cupid to help this young couple find each other.
Kate Brogan, of Woven Paths, was introduced in Endless Chain, along with her children, Rory and Bridget. I was particularly drawn to Kate, a young woman trying to find a little time and space for herself around the demands of motherhood. As the mother of four myself, I could relate. Kate's twin sister, Bejoy, is a new peek into Kate's life, as are Kate's husband, Mickey, and oldest son, Cormick. Kate and Bejoy's adventures driving from Florida to Virginia were absorbing for me to write, as I reimagined a trip I've taken numerous times. I fell in love with Bejoy. I think you will, too.
Cathy Adams, of Contrary Wife, was never intended to star in her own story. She was the president of the bee, a hardworking, no-nonsense retiree who could keep the quilters focused on what was important. And yet after I decided to title a story after the evocatively named traditional quilt block, Contrary Wife, Cathy began to emerge from the shadows. Among other reasons, she had a husband who may or may not have needed a "contrary wife." I needed a mature, energetic heroine, and I knew from previous books that Cathy was married to Alf, who had retired to become a gentleman farmer. All the makings of a good story were right there, so how could I resist?
Are you wondering about the timeline for these novellas? After all it's been quite some time since the last Shenandoah Album novel. The Shenandoah Album series began with Wedding Ring, set in 2002 and finished with Sister's Choice, which ended in spring of 2008. I wrote a short story, Nine Patch Christmas, for my newsletter readers, and set it in 2008, as well.
When I decided to write the three books that became Peaks and Valleys, thirteen years had passed in real time since 2008, but I knew I couldn't let that much time pass in my series. Age all my characters thirteen years? Impossible. Helen alone would be over a hundred years old, and while I fully expect Helen to live and quilt that long, for this volume, I wanted to pick up right where I had left off. Because of that, Steps to the Altar begins in spring of 2008, and the epilogue ends in spring of 2009. If you wonder why Alf didn't call Uber or Kate didn't buy Bejoy a digital camera? That's why.
I hope you enjoy this addition to the series. I welcome your reviews of Peaks and Valleys wherever you care to leave them. You can always email me through the contact page of my website, too.