We have a special treat today, reader friends! Sondra Kraak, author of Two Ways Home is here to take us on a little tour of her fictional town and setting of the Love that Counts series. Be sure to check out the other blog stops on the tour and take advantage of the special sale price!
setting spotlight by Sondra Kraak
Welcome to Pine Creek, a fictional town set in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State (located near the real town of Plain). It’s so nice of you to make the journey over the mountains from Seattle. You’ll be surprised at how much sunnier it is on this side of the mountains. The air is fresh and dry; the winters, cold and snowy; the summers hot with afternoon storms.
The mountain ridges hemming in the fields and rangeland give me a cozy, protected feeling, but for some, the enclosed feeling makes them feel suffocated. I hope you’re not one of those wide, open spaces people, but if you are, talk with Luke Thomas, hero of Two Ways Home. A native of Pine Creek, he also spent considerable time in the part of Texas where the sky looks like a giant inverted bowl stretched over the landscape. He gets both the coziness and the suffocation of Pine Creek.
Would you like a tour? It won’t take long to stroll down the single, dusty road of our little town. You’ll see the construction of the hotel on this end of town, evidence that things are growing, ever so slowly.
First stop is Rod’s mercantile where his daughter Cecily is likely behind the counter, and hopefully not flirting with anyone. The catch-all store is sure to have any items you’ve forgotten. Why is a piano in the mercantile, you ask? That’s for Mary Smith, heroine of Two Ways Home, to answer. You might catch her playing Beethoven in the middle of the day.
Moving on we come to Dane Winston’s livery. He can help you with all your horse or wagon needs. What? You don’t know how to ride a horse? If you’re going to stay in Pine Creek, that needs to be remedied. You’re sure to be invited to someone’s farm for dinner, and you won’t want to hike the hilly terrain in those cute high-heeled boots you’re wearing.
Let’s go next door to the smithy where Cameron Wallace is probably hard at work. Oh, it doesn’t look like he’s there right now. As Pine Creek’s part-time pastor and sage-advice giver, he’s probably out visiting folk. Or maybe, as Postmaster, he’s delivering mail to the schoolhouse for the children to take home to their families. (And rumor has it the new smithy owner is in town, and it’s a woman. I can only imagine Cam’s angst at her intrusion of the business he’d hoped to buy from the last owner.)
Across the street is the new sheriff’s office, an empty storefront where Luke’s sister Grace hopes to set up a dress shop, and the mayor’s office. I’ll spare you an introduction to the mayor. He can be kind of manipulating. See that large Victorian house up the rise from his office? That’s his home where he lives as a widower with his rambunctious children.
If you don’t mind walking a bit further, I’ll take you around this rise and copse of trees to the red schoolhouse where Barrett and Claire competed to win the teaching position (One Plus One Equals Trouble). Can you imagine thirty-four students crammed into that one room?
Further down that road you’ll get to a Y where you can go left to the Thomas ranch or right to Smith Dairy. Also that direction is the lumber camp and a mining town called Clifton. It’s wild. I recommend you stay away. Don’t believe me? Mary can tell you a few stories to change your mind.
Are you ready for a dip in the Wenatchee River that flows west of town? Don’t worry if you can’t swim. The wide and shallow parts are perfect for wading—as Mary knows well—or for fishing—just ask Luke. But don’t mention that one incident where Luke nearly dumped Mary into the swimming hole for disrupting his fishing.
When we’re done at the river, I’ll take you north to the favorite lookout of Barrett, Luke, and Cam, my three heroes from the Love that Counts series. Being up high and surveying the town puts life into perspective. It’s like a long exhale that turns into a prayer. Each man has had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting at that place. If you want, I can leave you alone to drink in the view and have your own face-to-face with Jesus. Just remember the path to return to town or I’ll have to send the newly elected sheriff after you.
Well, that’s it! I’ll leave you with a few photos my dad has taken of the area, and if you want to learn why this area is special to me, check out my interview with Fiction Aficionado from last Saturday.
And thanks for making the stop at Faithfully Bookish for the Two Ways Home tour!
about the author
A native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court.
Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul.
Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015). Sondra has since published three novels.
about the book
Two Ways Home (Love that Counts, book 2) by Sondra Kraak
She’s about to lose her home. He never wanted to see his again. And a stalker is staking a claim . . .
Mary Smith was never one to back down from a challenge. Her father’s health may be failing, but their dairy farm was her mother’s dream, and Mary will do whatever it takes to keep her father from selling it—even if it means sneaking off to the next town to earn money by playing the piano in a questionable establishment. No one seems to understand why home is so important to her, least of all her childhood nemesis who’s just wandered back into town.
When injured Texas Ranger Luke Thomas is forced to return to Pine Creek, Washington, he’s hailed as a hero and thrust into the town’s first race for sheriff. But no one knows the secret he carried to Texas, nor the secret he’s brought home. Setting his perfect aim on returning south, he refuses to get tied down by the town’s admiration, his brother’s disapproval, or the spirited, hardworking dairy girl who’s less annoying than he remembers.
But strange things are happening at the Smith dairy and in Pine Creek, and Luke’s instincts tell him Mary is in far more trouble than she realizes. One thing is certain: “home” is about to get more complicated for them both.
Full of wit and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story sets forth the true meaning of coming home.
Love that Counts series
Katie at Fiction Aficionado (interview, excerpt), Saturday, May 20
Kathleen Denly (game), Monday, May 22
Trisha at Joy of Reading (interview), Monday, May 22
Beth Erin at Faithfully Bookish (setting spotlight), Tuesday, May 23
Jessica at A Baker’s Perspective (spotlight on heroine), Wednesday, May 24
Sydney at Singing Librarian (interview, spotlight on hero), Thursday, May 25
I adore the Pacific Northwest! Do any of you love to visit the PNW, like me, reader friends? Any residents or former residents? Be sure to add Two Ways Home to your tbr!