Unhappy Returns

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Liz Eckardt, owner of the Olde Mansion Inn, has a case of the January blahs. She's not the only one. The Material Girls can't seem to build much enthusiasm for their latest quilting projects. Even Beans, Liz's lazy bulldog, is sawing more logs than usual. But then someone thinks of a bang-up idea: a clearance sale at the Sew Welcome Shop, along with a fun fabric swap to turn around everyone's moods. To spruce up the store, Sadie and Mary Ann hire Jacob Hochstetler, a former Amish man who now works at Cross Furniture Company, to construct a custom cabinet to showcase some of their wares. Jacob's been living in the city for a few years, but now he's come home and is trying to carve out a new life for himself.

When one of Liz's guests, a man who goes against everyone's grain, is murdered in Jacob's temporary workshop in Liz's garage, Jacob is immediately pegged for the crime. After all, it was his chisel buried in the victim's chest. Jacob has a stained past -- but Liz can't believe that her young friend is capable of finishing anyone off.

Liz has more than just a murder to solve, though. The dead man left behind a flighty fiancé whose heartwood is not exactly broken. Seems she's been pining after Jacob all along, and Liz must console the woman when her plans for their future are cut down. Another guest at the inn is tough to gauge. It isn't long before everyone's leveling accusations at him. And what about Samuel Hochstetler? Jacob never measured up to his father's specifications, but when there's a threat to his family, Pleasant Creek may find that Samuel is capable of rubbing someone out.

Can Liz, with help from the Material Girls and Mayor Jackson Cross, assemble the pieces of this case before a killer puts the screws to another victim?

The Characters

Liz always loved and admired her mother, Abigail. She was an amazing, hard-working woman and role model. It is no surprise Liz inherited Abigail's determination and strong work ethic, earning Liz a successful career as one of Boston's most prominent attorneys. But even so, at 40 and with Abigail's recent death, Liz is running on empty.

When she inherits an old diary from Abigail's childhood after her mother's passing, Liz is stunned to read about the life Abigail had growing up in an Amish community. She'd never mentioned any of it to Liz. Ever. Why would her mother keep such a big secret?

Determined to find out what caused Abigail to abandon her Amish life at the age of seventeen, Liz leaves Boston and moves to her mother's hometown of Pleasant Creek, Ind. While she settles into the quaint and friendly community as the new owner of the Olde Mansion Inn, Liz is careful to keep her connection to the Amish a secret ... at least for now.

Will Liz's journey bring her the answers she longs for about her mysterious heritage ... or send her straight into harm's way?

Liz didn't realize when she bought the inn that she was also "inheriting" the resident lazy-yet-lovable English bulldog, Beans. She doesn't have the heart to give him away, so she adopts him into her new life. Although he spends most of his time sleeping by the front door, Beans still manages to get mixed up in the mysteries of Pleasant Creek.

Known for her delicious home-baked apple pies and impressive quilting skills, Mary Ann is one of Pleasant Creek's most loved citizens. She is also the proud co-owner of Sew Welcome, the fabric shop located on the first floor of the Olde Mansion Inn. Having lived in Pleasant Creek all her life, can Mary Ann help Liz learn more about their Amish neighbors and track down the true identity of her mysterious family?

An accomplished and sometimes wildly creative quilter, Sadie co-owns Sew Welcome with Mary Ann. Shrewd, and salty-tongued, 70-year-old Sadie says exactly what she thinks, which sometimes lands her in hot water. Sadie takes a liking to Liz right away, often treating Liz like one of her own children. With a bit of a reputation for being a busybody, Sadie always seems to know everything going on in Pleasant Creek. It's nearly impossible to keep a secret around her, but Liz must be careful not to reveal her real reason for coming to Pleasant Creek until the time is right.

Jackson is the handsome mayor of Pleasant Creek who also owns Cross Furniture Co., a local business that employs many of the Amish men in the area to help handcraft high-end wood furniture. Jackson is well-liked in the community and stays very involved in everything that goes on in town. From the moment they meet, he is attracted to Liz, but senses there is more to her than meets the eye.