I admit it. As an author of more than 25 Amish romances, I have my own fangirl club for my favorite characters. I don’t talk about it much because I don’t want to hurt the other characters’ feelings. After all, should authors play favorites? But I’m making an exception for Every Good Gift’s Joshua Lapp. Joshua joins a select few men who stand out when I’m asked to name favorite characters from my novels.
Joshua’s by no means perfect—totally the opposite. He’s a flawed man who’s stuck in the past. He doesn’t like to talk, he’s in danger of becoming a hermit, and he refuses to be baptized. He thinks he has a good reason not to commit to his community’s faith. He’s mad at God.
Doesn’t sound like Joshua’s much of a hero, does it? But Joshua is also a kind man with a good, fierce heart. From the moment he stumbles over Maisy Glick’s bag in a crowded train station in Hutchinson, Kansas, he feels responsible for her. He tries to ignore his feelings, but his innate goodness refuses to allow him to look away. Even when she vomits on his boots when he drops her off at her cousin’s house in Haven, Kansas, he doesn’t judge her.
When others shun Maisy because she’s made a terrible mistake, Joshua befriends her. He teaches her about tools so she can get a job in Yoder’s hardware store. He eats lunch with her at the store’s picnic table every day. When she has to make a difficult decision that will have consequences for the rest of her life, Joshua supports her.
Maisy can’t imagine how or why Joshua can even bear to be around her. The results of her sin are there for everyone to see. But Joshua is an outcast too. A tragedy in his past keeps him from growing in his faith. His anger and grief, stoked for years, stands in the way of a future with a wife and children. Yet, he does something no man in his situation—especially a Plain man—would ever be expected to do.
Joshua may be uncommunicative, but he’s never morose or rude. He’s always kind. He has a good sense of humor. He’s good with children. He’ll make a great dad someday. Maisy has that realization when baby Bonnie decides she’d rather play with her food than eat it at the breakfast table one morning. Take a peek at this excerpt from Every Good Gift:
Until Bonnie decided to toss a handful of eggs across the table at Joshua. A direct hit on his deeply tanned cheek. From there they dropped into his lap. Another handful followed a second later, this one splattered on his shirt. It left a greasy spot the size of a half-dollar.
“Dochder.” Amos’s face reddened. The muscle in his jaw twitched. “No more of that.”
With a half-stifled snort, Joshua scooped up the eggs and dumped them on his napkin. “I’ve had worse on my clothes. No harm done.”
Was he talking about the contents of Maisy’s stomach? Amusement flickered in his face, as if he was reading her mind. “Manure stains and it smells worse.”
Bonnie let a piece of bacon fly. This time it landed in Joshua’s dark-brown hair. He laughed outright, the sound bright in the somber air. “She’s bent on sharing her food, isn’t she?”
“Dochder, stop that.” Ruth grabbed Bonnie’s plate and moved it out of her reach. Despite her attempt at sounding stern, her grin slipped out. “We don’t waste food, and we don’t throw food.”
“Maybe she’s trying to tell you she’s not hungry.” The skin around his blue eyes crinkled with laugh lines, Joshua raised his coffee cup and toasted the little girl. “Or maybe she’d rather have ice cream for breakfast. I know I would. No offense, Ruth, your cooking is mighty gut.”
Something about a two-year-old’s antics had slain his reticence. For a minute he bordered on downright loquacious. Maisy liked these words. Loquacious. Slain. Reticence. She’d found them in her western stories and added it to her notebook of interesting words. Amos, on the other hand, would be laconic. Another good word.
“No offense taken.” Ruth grinned. “Myself, I’d like a big piece of pecan pie with whipped cream.”
They stared at Maisy expectantly. She groped for the first food to come to mind. “Pizza.”
Of course. Not that Mother ever let them eat it for breakfast. When she had her own home, her own family—if that ever happened now—she would serve it once a month. “Jah. Pepperoni, mushrooms, black olives, bell peppers, onions, extra cheese.”
For the first time in months, her stomach didn’t rebel at the thought of food.
Ruth and Joshua laughed.
You can see why Joshua makes my top ten hero list. He’s just the man Maisy needs to find her way to redemption. Perhaps she’s the woman who can help him find his way to reconciliation with his past. Maybe God knew exactly what He was doing when He put that bag in Joshua’s way at the train station.
Kelly Irvin is a bestselling, award-winning author of over twenty novels and stories. A retired public relations professional, Kelly lives with her husband, Tim, in San Antonio. They have two children, four grandchildren, and two ornery cats. Visit her online at KellyIrvin.com; Instagram: @kelly_irvin; Facebook: @Kelly.Irvin.Author; Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin.