As ROSEMARY OPENS HER HEART goes on sale this week, I’m going to reveal a sneaky way I love to manipulate readers. I’ve used it in several books before, but the appeal is universal: no matter what sort of story you’re telling, cute little kids hook readers’ hearts. And when you add in valiant dogs who come to the rescue just when those little kids are in deep, dark danger, it’s an unbeatable combo. Kids and dogs just go together—especially in faith-and family stories like these Amish series I’ve been writing.
Travel back with me, to those thrilling days of yesteryear…do you remember watching “Lassie” on TV (black and white, back in the day)? Do you recall how just hearing the theme song of that show made you rush to the living room to catch the latest adventures of Timmy and his faithful collie, Lassie? You knew darn well that sometime during the show, Timmy would get into a dangerous situation and Lassie would drag him out of the pit or defend him from a predator. Or, that noble, intelligent dog would rush back to the house and bark and bark until someone there realized Timmy was in deep doodoo and needed more help than Lassie could give him.
The technique still works! And I use it ruthlessly in ROSEMARY OPENS HER HEART.
While Rosemary, a young Amish widow, already has plenty of conflict on her plate, her toddler Katie is the light of her life—and the life of the party, far as how this story unfolds. Matt Lambright (we met him in book 1, ABBY FINDS HER CALLING) meets Rosemary at a wedding and wham! He has to know more about that attractive stranger in black. But it’s playful Katie who started the ball rolling by toddling over to him and wanting to play with his two Border collies, which meant Rosemary came into the scene looking for her wandering child. See how a three-year-old blonde set up the whole romance with a giggle and a finger in her mouth?
Rosemary, however, wants nothing to do with Matt—or any other man. She lost her husband in a hunting accident and moved in with his father Titus to run the household and help with Titus’s twelve-year-old daughter, as Titus’s wife had died shortly before his son did. It was a noble gesture on Rosemary’s part, but now she’s trapped. Titus, who raises sheep, decides to partner with Matt and combine their flocks, so Rosemary must decide: will she make the move to Cedar Creek, or stay behind on her own? It doesn’t help one bit that everyone is telling her little Katie needs a father, and that Rosemary should come out of mourning and live again.
Long story short: during the move, Katie’s innocent wanderings lead her into the sheep pasture, where testy ewes are watching her…ready to charge if Katie messes with their lambs. Matt and Rosemary realize the little girl has disappeared but she could have toddled anywhere on either of two farms—crossed the road and gotten hit—
But the Border collies save the day. And when Matt scoops that little girl into his arms and gives her a talking-to about how badly she’s scared everyone, Rosemary realizes that maybe this young fellow who’s been pursuing her so relentlessly has a few points in his favor. It’s a gratifying story to tell, all about Amish families coming together to help each other. And just like when each TV episode of “Lassie” came to an end, you can heave a sigh of relief that all will be well. Rosemary might be the title character, but it’s her daughter and Matt’s dogs that pull readers through the story by their heartstrings.
Here’s wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving, and many blessings to count in the coming holiday season.