A SEASON OF HARVEST by Lauraine Snelling with Kiersti Giron
SERIES: Leah’s Garden #4
GENRE: Historical/Frontier Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: January 30, 2024
Can her dreams for the future–and a budding romance–survive the trouble that comes calling?
Larkspur Nielsen is determined to keep her family homestead running and to fulfill their dream of starting a seed catalog, with or without her siblings’ help. With Isaac McTavish back in town, Lark finds herself at odds with her own heart and her determination to shoulder the burden of carrying her responsibilities alone. But Isaac is set on convincing her that he’s here to stay and she doesn’t have to carry everything by herself.
As a new romance blossoms between Lilac and an old schoolmate and the other Nielsen sisters are busy caring for their families, Lark bears more and more responsibility on the farm. When a long-feared threat returns and Lark approaches the breaking point, the life she has always dreamed of is in danger of disappearing forever.
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The next day, after a morning of picking strawberries, Lark sent Robbie over to help Del wash and stem them at her house. She had a bigger kitchen, and it made a good excuse to get her sister to sit down for a while.
Meanwhile, Lark gathered nails, wire, and tools, then pulled on the men’s work gloves she’d ordered from the mercantile and strode out to the pasture. One corner of the fence had needed attention for a while. Examining the spot, she let out a whistle. The sheep must have been rubbing against it, several damaged boards had nearly come loose. Good thing she’d thought to do the mending now, or they’d have had escaped livestock to wrangle. And how would I manage that without Lilac or Jonah? Del can’t chase sheep in her condition. Lark chuckled at the image that popped into her head. Now, that would be a picture Lilac would love to draw.
Lark found a few extra planks in the machine shed and set- tled to her task, falling into the rhythm of the familiar labor. She stripped away the rotten boards, assessed what could still be used, and cut the new planks to fit. After some time, she lifted her head at the sound of footsteps. Had RJ come home early? No, that was Isaac McTavish’s rugged silhouette, ragged army uniform and all. Did the man intend to wear those clothes till they fell apart at the seams?
Lark stood to be seen above the tall grasses about her. “Hello, stranger.”
“Stranger is it, Miss Larkspur?” Isaac slipped off his cap, his movements as easy as the mountain cadence on his tongue. “Reckoned we’d got past that by now.”
“Well, one never quite knows whether you’re here for good or will be off on the next train.” Lark bit her tongue at the tease she heard in her own voice. Was she flirting with Isaac? Her neck heated at the thought.
But his face sobered. “Reckon I deserve that. But I aim to set a stop on my driftin’ ways. Start puttin’ down roots, as it were.” “Really? Is some of your family still moving to Salton?” He’d said something about that last winter, but so much had happened since then.
He hesitated, turned his worn army cap in his hands, then met her gaze. “Among other things.”
Lark’s heart started pit-a-patting oddly, as if trying to beat its way up her throat. “What brings you out this way today?”
“Saw RJ in town. He said might be you could use some help out on the farm today with most of your family away.”
Was RJ trying to play matchmaker? Or did he just think she couldn’t handle things on her own? Lark frowned, oddly nettled, and bent back to the fence. “I’m fine.”
Isaac chuckled and hooked his hat over a sturdy post of the fence. “Easy now. Weren’t no one meanin’ you can’t handle this here farm on your own. Can’t abide any offers of help, is that it? Or only from me?”
He’d matched her thoughts so nearly, Lark stared at him a moment, then shook her head and half laughed at herself. “Sorry. You can hold this rail for me while I fasten it back in place.”
“At your service, ma’am.” Isaac gave a courtly bow, sweeping low his mane of shoulder-length hair, the same sandy brown as his beard.
A smile tugging at her cheeks, Lark held the peg steady with gloved fingers and hammered the railing firm. Isaac moved down the fence with her, replacing a board here and tightening a connection there. He said little, yet seemed able to anticipate her steps without being in the way. A trait her siblings could do to imitate, at times.
“There.” The fence secure at last, Lark arched her back against a kink from bending over so long. “That should hold. Thanks for the help.”
“Anythin’ else that could use seein’ to while I’m here?” Isaac scanned the fields around them, then glanced at Lark with quirked brow. “Not that you need my help, mind.”
“Can’t think of anything right now. Will you stay for supper?”
“Climie’s expectin’ me back at the boardin’ house, told her I’d see about settin’ a loose chair leg to rights. But thank you kindly. Maybe another time?” He held her gaze a moment, gray eyes steady and questioning.
“Of course.” Lark tried to smile naturally—after all, Isaac had supped at their table many a time these last several years. Yet lately something felt different. . . .
“Then I’ll be seein’ you.” He dipped his head, then clapped his army cap back on. He ambled off across the prairie, heading back toward Salton.
So many times she’d seen Isaac leave . . . and come back. Then leave again. They’d accepted his intermittent presence as a part of their lives in Nebraska and never asked or expected much of him, though when around he always lent a hand to all.
Yet just now, working alongside him with barely a word needed between them, she’d known a grounding in his pres- ence, an easy rhythm that drew her . . . and scared her.
Lauraine Snelling, A Season of Harvest
Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2024. Used by permission.
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Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of nearly 100 books, fiction and nonfiction, for adults and young adults. Her books have sold more than five million copies. She and her husband make their home in Tehachapi, California. Learn more at LauraineSnelling.com.
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