I’m always excited to spend time – in person or virtually – with Shelley Shepard Gray, so I’m delighted to welcome her to the blog today to chat about the unique setting for her new novel, Her Heart’s Desire!
HER HEART’S DESIRE by Shelley Shepard Gray
SERIES: A Season in Pinecraft #1
GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary/Amish Romance
RELEASE DATE: January 3, 2023
Mary Margaret Miller needs an escape from her small Amish community. She boards a bus, all alone, for a vacation in Pinecraft, Florida. Meeting Betsy and Lilly on the way, she’s amazed to find two kindred spirits. They become fast friends and determine to have the best two weeks of their lives. For Mary, it starts when she meets Jayson Raber. The handsome and charming carpenter is taken by Mary from the get-go, but he has responsibilities back home in Kentucky–including a girl he’s supposed to marry.
When someone from Mary’s past shows up in Pinecraft, it seems like her perfect vacation is ruined. But that’s nothing compared to what’s coming when she realizes what Jayson has been hiding.
Take a vacation with New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray as she explores what happens when we allow our pasts to define our futures in this story of friendship, romance, and new beginnings.
by Shelley Shepard Gray, author of Her Heart’s Desire
I first learned about Pinecraft when I was in Holmes County. I was having lunch with my Amish friend Clara when her daughter stopped by. Her daughter was as busy as ever…but I did notice something different about her-she was tan.
This wouldn’t have been notable except for the fact that it was February, there was snow on the ground, and almost every day had been overcast. I was so intrigued, I asked where she’d gotten that summer glow. Her answer was simple: Pinecraft.
That afternoon was something of a revelation for me. I learned about Amish spring breaks, Amish snowbirds, Pioneer Trails bus trips, and Siesta Key. It all sounded wonderful and fun. By the time I got back to my house, I knew two things: I wanted to set a series there, and I wanted to visit there as soon as possible.
My husband and I finally did make it down to Pinecraft the following March. After we checked into our hotel, I soon discovered that Pinecraft is actually a rather small area nestled in the heart of Sarasota, Florida.
It just so happened that the day we arrived was Clara’s last day of her spring break vacation. Even though she and her husband were busy, they met us for pizza for lunch. After, the guys left and Clara took me on a tour of Pinecraft.
What a blessing that was! Because I was with Clara, everyone talked to us. She introduced me to every acquaintance she’d made over the years and told me about where they were from. Everyone was so kind and answered all my questions.
As you might imagine, I loved every minute of the tour around Pinecraft Park and Yoders and the Amish Community Church. She pointed out the bulletin board where everyone put notices about get togethers and coffees and want ads and folks giving rides to and from the north. And I learned all about the SCAT, the Sarasota County Area Transit system, and the popularity of those three-wheeled bicycles that everyone seemed to be riding.
Two hours later, while Clara and I were having pie at Yoders, she took the time to point out all the differences in the other Amish women’s kaaps and dresses. Each community has a slightly different ‘look’. I was fascinated by that.
Honestly, I am still fascinated by Pinecraft. It’s pretty much the only Amish community where Amish and Mennonite members from all over the world gather. People enjoy the opportunity to make new friends, ask questions about each other’s lives and simply relax.
As a writer, I particularly enjoy setting novels in Pinecraft because the possibilities of plots and characters are endless. There’s also the added benefit of adding details about the beach and the lovely gardens and sunny weather in the area. When I’m sitting in my office in Cleveland in January, imagining myself in sunny Florida is always a very good thing!
Her Heart’s Desire is the first book in my Season of Pinecraft series for Revell. It’s also the sixth full-length novel I’ve set in Pinecraft. This series revolves around three young women who meet on a bus traveling to Pinecraft. Each is hoping for a fresh start and maybe even experience a little bit of romance along the way. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to daydream about Pinecraft again…and yes, I’m already planning my next visit there. After all, January is coming, the skies are gray, and a slice of key lime pie from Yoder’s is once again calling my name.
Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 100 books, including Her Heart’s Desire. Two-time winner of the HOLT Medallion and a Carol Award finalist, Gray lives in Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail. Please visit her website to find out her latest news or to sign up for her newsletter.
Revell is offering a print copy of Her Heart’s Desire by Shelley Shepard Gray to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Her Heart’s Desire by Shelley Shepard Gray? Have you ever been to Pinecraft?