When I began writing EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST, the fourth book in my Home At Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series, major story pieces were already in play. I’d created the world of Cedar Creek, Missouri, and I’d also kept readers wondering if Abby Lambright and James Graber would ever marry! In AMANDA WEDS A GOOD MAN, I’d also introduced the extended Brubaker family. One element of the writing process was different, however: I knew EMMA would be the final book in this series. I had to say goodbye, so I could say yes to other things—and that’s exactly what Emma Graber must do in this book, as well!
Poor Emma, however, deals with a very tough goodbye when her mother dies. Eunice Graber simply doesn’t wake up one morning—and if you’ve lost your mom, you realize Emma’s sense of loss will never totally go away. Already a homebody, Emma will use her mother’s passing as an excuse for not going out when flashy, confident Jerome Lambright invites her to have some fun.
An unexpected job offer from Sam Lambright turns the tide, however: Sam insists that Abby will no longer work in the mercantile now that she’s married. Everyone in Cedar Creek knows Sam will have a lot of trouble replacing Abby, and some folks doubt Emma’s ability to work in the busy store during the Christmas season.
But Emma gives it a shot. She’s kept the books for her brother’s carriage shop, so she eagerly tackles Sam’s bookkeeping—a task she can perform in the workroom, because she’s in mourning and isn’t permitted to work among the customers. Then an emotional melt-down shows Emma and her family that she hasn’t allowed herself time to grieve her mother’s passing. Even so, Emma’s dat Merle tells her to get a life—doing something besides hovering over him. As Jerome finds ways to spend time with the Graber family, Emma comes to appreciate his enthusiastic nature. She even confronts the ex-fiancee who tries to win Jerome back. Now that’s a funny chapter!
Jerome has changed his ways, as well, coaxing Emma from her cocoon instead of coming on like a fire truck. He takes her on a moonlit sleigh ride and bares his soul, allowing Emma to see that he, too, has his share of doubts. As a man who’s backed out of two previous engagements, Jerome doesn’t want to become a three-time loser nor does he want to hurt Emma by rushing into another bad match.
And in the end, EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST. She says goodbye to the shy, retiring young woman she’d been and says yes to a future as Jerome’s wife and helpmate. For me, saying goodbye to this series has provided a chance to write two new Amish series for the publisher of my Seasons of the Heart books. So I get a happy ending from making a major change, just as Emma does!