The author on how she hopes her fiction encourages readers to walk closer with the Father.

Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Her latest novel is the historical romance More Than Words Can Say (Bethany House), the second book in her Patchwork Family series.

Abigail Kemp needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution—if it involves a man she can control. But Zacharias Hamilton? She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him. An Impossible Situation. An Unlikely Couple. A Recipe for Love?

In this interview, Karen reveals the spiritual threads woven into the story, explains how she chose the historical setting, and shares how her faith impacts her as a storyteller…

Karen, More Than Words Can Say is the second book in your Patchwork Family series. What inspired this story?

Sometimes a secondary character just grips you so fiercely that you know you must tell his/her story. That is what happened with Zacharias Hamilton. A thirteen-year-old orphan who would rather scare off potential adoptive families and remain alone than risk being stuck working a farm like he had with his abusive grandfather. This kid with a chip on his shoulder and a personality that warns everyone off, is the same one who steps up to take care of two unwanted orphans when their train derails.

Making a pact to stay together, this ragtag bunch becomes a family with Zach as their reluctant, yet fully dedicated leader. He’ll do anything to keep Seth and Evie fed and sheltered. Even cheat his way into a homestead where he farms the land, the very activity he despises, in order to provide for his siblings.

As a man, Zach is gruff, overprotective, and secretive about his past, not wanting to taint his siblings with the shady side of what he had to do to provide for them. After Evie and Seth found love in More Than Meets the Eye, I knew that I needed to write something special for Zach. If ever a character deserved a happy ending, it was Zach Hamilton.

Readers tended to agree. As soon as More Than Meets the Eye released, the email and Facebook messages started pouring in, begging for me to tell Zach’s story. I was only too happy to comply.

How does this story fit into the bigger picture of the series? What connects these books together?

More Than Words Can Say is set in a different time and place than its predecessor, More Than Meets the Eye, and it came be read as a stand-alone novel. However, there is a definite family tie between the two.

Evie and Seth, Zach’s adoptive siblings, make a brief appearance in More Than Words Can Say, and readers who are already familiar with Zach from the previous book will have the advantage of an more immediate emotional connection as Zach once again finds himself a reluctant hero, this time to a young bakery owner named Abigail Kemp.

The final story in the series will be a novella entitled More Than A Pretty Face in the Harvey House Brides collection, Serving Up Love, that will release this November. That story will move the series forward with Abigail’s sister, Rosalind, as the heroine.

Tell us about Zacharias Hamilton. How does he compare to what you consider an ideal leading man?

Zach will be the first to tell you that he is far from perfect. He’s done a lot of things in his past that he’s not proud of, but when push comes to shove, there is no one more reliable. Once he makes a commitment, nothing will cause him to go back on his word.

He might not have smooth manners, and getting him to open up about his feelings is about as easy as carving granite with a toothbrush, but his actions speak twice as loud as any words. He is loyal, hardworking, and a man who recognizes his need for God.

Tell us about Abigail Kemp. What made you want to tell her story?

After falling a lit bit in love with Zach myself, I knew it was going to take someone special to get past all the barriers he’d built. Someone who didn’t fit the stereotypical romance heroine mold.

Enter Abigail Kemp—a plus-sized baker who will do whatever it takes to save her business, even broker herself in marriage. The bakery is her family’s legacy and the only means of providing for her younger sister, and if signing a marriage certificate will save it, that’s what she’ll do.

Abigail is an interesting mix of fiery independence and deep-seated insecurities. She is personally acquainted with the haunting nature of past mistakes, and is determined to make a better future for herself through hard work.

But when the marriage that was supposed to solve all her problems ends up creating more, she realizes that hard work can’t fix everything. She needs help—help from God and help from the not-so-convenient-anymore husband who is slowly stealing her heart.

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