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.
Shelley has made a name for herself writing novels based on the Amish community. Fans have come to love the sweet tales and tender romances packed within the pages of her books. In January 2023, Gray offered her newest novel, Her Hearts Desire, book 1 in A Season in Pinecraft series. Now Gray invites readers back to Florida for her second volume, Her Only Wish.
About the Story: Sheltered yet adventurous Betsy Detweiler is determined to leave Kentucky behind and head back down to Pinecraft, Florida—a town that holds special memories for her. In addition to reconnecting with her best friends, Betsy has created a “life list” and wants to be sure to complete each adventure with gusto.
Near the top of her list is learning how to play golf. When she enters the local golf course, Snow Bird golf manager August Troyer finds himself volunteering to provide golf lessons even though he has never taught anyone to play before. He is intrigued by this beautiful young lady who is a mass of contradictions. She is like no one he has ever met before.
As Betsy and August embark on a month of enjoying life to the fullest, they slowly begin to reveal more about themselves, but this also brings up more unanswered questions surrounding each of their lives. When both of them encounter obstacles, life suddenly becomes complicated. They must decide whether they will play it safe or move forward into unknown territory.
This tender romance reminds readers that life—and love—require a fair amount of risk.
Can you please provide a brief summary of your novel, Her Only Wish? After fighting a series of serious lung ailments throughout most of her childhood, Betsy Detweiler is determined to live her life to the fullest. She returns to the quaint Amish snowbird community of Pinecraft to visit her best friend and spend some time doing activities she’s always yearned to do. Then she meets August Troyer. August is the child of two devoted missionaries and spent his entire childhood moving from one mission to another all over the world. Now he’s managing his aunt and uncle’s public golf course. August is charmed by Betsy’s vibrant personality as well as her determination to live her life to the fullest.
As the two grow closer, each wrestle with duty to their families, the wishes and dreams that they hope to achieve, and their desires to be the people God intended them to be. Each begins to wonder if it’s possible to fall in love too . . . or if accomplishing all of their goals only leads to disappointment and heartache.
Your female protagonist, Betsy Detweiler, has created a “life list.” What does this list entail? Since Betsy feels that she was prevented from doing many “normal” activities during her childhood due to illness, she worries that she has been missing out. She calls her list a “life list” because she’s determined to experience a variety of things such as playing a round of golf, swimming, or even riding a bicycle. She feels once she experiences these simple things, she’ll finally be “living.”
How did Betsy meet August Troyer and what role did he play in helping Betsy complete her list? Betsy meets August on the golf course when he saves her from being hit by a golf ball. Soon he teaches her the basics of playing golf. She, in turn, inspires him to start living his life to its full potential as well.
I loved exploring how each character in the novel defines what a risk is. Some, like Betsy, view it as an obstacle that might cause physical harm. Others believe that taking risks involves their hearts. Ultimately, each character concludes that in order to achieve his or her goals, some risks have to be taken. They also learn that they didn’t have to take a risk without support. Each character not only had people who loved and supported them but the Lord’s enduring love as well.
Are there other lessons you hope readers gain from reading Her Only Wish? I hope readers will be inspired to give greater credence to some of their own dreams and wishes. I tried to show that even small goals and wishes have merit. In addition, I hope my readers will be reminded that they are not alone. If they have faith, then God is always with them. That certainly helps me.
Her Only Wish is the second volume in A Season in Pinecraft series. What was the inspiration behind this series? An underlying theme in most of my books is acceptance and belonging. For this series, I wanted to highlight three women who yearned to be accepted for who they were instead of who everyone else wished for them to be. Setting this series in sunny Florida has been an added bonus!
What makes this series stand out from the other books you’ve written? Though I’ve written many trilogies, I feel this series is particularly close-knit. Each book is intertwined with the other novels in the series. I’ve created a true community for my characters. I hope readers will feel like they, too, could enjoy having a season in Pinecraft.
What do readers have to look forward to in the rest of this series?
The series will conclude with Her Secret Hope. It focuses on the last “wallflower” and is in some ways the most heart-wrenching. I think readers will be rooting for Lilly Kurtz as much as I have been.
What are you working on next? I’m currently writing Her Secret Hope and working on the outlines for my next Amish series. I always write more than one book at a time.
How can readers connect with you? I’m active on my private Facebook group, Shelley Shepard Gray’s Buggy Bunch. I also post frequently on Instagram and Twitter, and send out a newsletter about once a month. In addition, I love to visit libraries and have been working hard to set up some visits outside of Ohio for 2023. I very much enjoy meeting readers face to face.
Thank you, Shelley, for sharing this book with my readers and me. I love books set in Pinecraft.
Readers, here’s a link to the book.
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