Karen Harper

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Karen Harper, author of novels of suspense set in past and present


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UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT, a romantic suspense novel set in the Home Valley.

Despite her parents’ objections, Lydia Brand helps Josh Yoder with the manger animals he rents out for Christmas tableaus and pageants. Lydia also works at her parents’ Amish furniture store, but the death of a woman in a snow storm with a note for Lydia clutched in her hand and other clues soon send Lydia—with Josh’s help—on a quest to learn more about her biological parents, who are not the Amish Brands who raised her. But someone is desperate to stop them from finding answers. When a friend who is helping is murdered and Josh come under suspicion by the sheriff, Lydia is terrified that maybe she can’t trust Josh, even if she loves him. UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT, in the season of Christmas, Lydia and Josh struggle to solve the mystery before they become the next victims.


Now available in Mass Market paperback

Cover of Finding Mercy by Karen Harper
Book #3 in Amish


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Book #2 in Amish

Fall from Pride Cover
Book #1 in Amish


Cover of Finding Mercy by Karen Harper

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RT Book Reviews TOP PICK, 4/12 stars:  “This Home Valley Amish trilogy finale brings shades of the movie Witness to the page, in a pulse-pounding, man-and-woman-on-the-run adventure.  You won’t be disappointed in the ride!”

In FINDING MERCY, the last of the three Amish friends, Ella Lantz, is forced to leave the shelter of the valley and her precious lavender fields to go on the run to Florida and New York City with a worldly man she has come to love.  Corporate whistle-blower Alex Caldwell was to be hidden with her Amish family until his high profile trial, but there is an even higher price on his head.  Ella knows the one place he may be safe.  But with Alex, everything changes.  She is shocked to find she’s fallen in love with him and that her life is endangered too.  Their future together is forbidden, but they may not even live to give it a try.

A note from the author:  Although this book is the third romantic suspense novel in this trilogy, there will be a book #4, UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT, set in the Home Valley at Christmas.  This will be out October 2013.

I’ve include one recipe below from Debbie Cook’s book A TASTE OF LAVENDER, published by Springbrook Meadows Publications, which Ella makes in the story.  You can order the book at the above website. 

Lavender Surprise Muffins


2/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup sour cream
1 lemon
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter – melted and coloed
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 to 1 and one half cup lavender
lemon curd

Direction:  Zest lemon and rub zest with the sugar to infuse.  Add remaining ingredients (except curd) and stir just until combined.  Fill muffin cups one half full and place a teaspoon plus dollop of lavender lemon curd on muffin mixture.  Fill muffin cups with remaining mix, sealing up curd.  Top with streusel topping and bake at 400 degrees for eighteen to twenty minutes.

Streusel topping:  one-fourth cup sugar, one-fourth cup and two tbsp. flour, one eighth tsp. salt.  Cut three tbsp. butter into mixture until crumbly.


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DARK CROSSINGS is an anthology of three novellas by three writers who specialize in Amish romantic suspense.  Marta Perry, Patricia Davids and I had a great time talking out how we would connect our separate stories.

In my story, The Covered Bridge, rebellious, former Amishman Ben Kline returns home after eight years.  Since he has been shunned, he is forbidden to Abigail Baughman.  But she was in love with Ben years ago and welcomes him with an open heart.  Mysterious happenings put Abby in harm’s way, forcing Ben to run to her rescue.  Suddenly everything is at risk—their community, their way of life, their future together, and their very lives.

One fun thing about writing this novella was the chance to set it in the Home Valley where I have placed my Amish trilogy, FALL FROM PRIDE, RETURN TO GRACE and (coming in November of 2012) FINDING MERCY.  Characters from those books make cameo appearances in The Covered Bridge. 



Harper’s Home Valley trilogy continues with a strong installment that deals with one woman’s struggle between wanting to make it in the outside world and staying with what she has always known.  The author’s likable, engaging characters and a strong plot lend additional strength to her ever-amazing description of Amish life. 
RT Book Reviews, March 2012

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See Hannah Esh’s Favorite Recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies


Fall from Pride Cover
Book #1 in Amish
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"Danger and romance find their way into Ohio Amish country in a lively and endearing first installment of the Amish Home Valley series by Harper (Dark Angel). Sarah Kauffman is an artist who paints murals on barns in her Amish community. When one of the barns mysteriously burns down, the local papers are quick to print the story. State arson inspector Nate MacKenzie drives down to Columbus to work on the case. He and Sarah make an unusual duo—Nate, the outsider with little knowledge of Amish culture, and Sarah, the Amish woman who often feels like an outsider in her own village. As they discover clues about the crime, they also come to know more and more about one another. Soon, disguising their feelings of attraction proves to be just as difficult as solving the mystery of the barn burnings. Sarah is both tough and sweet and Nate’s charisma is hard to deny. Readers will likely enjoy a trip into the heart of Ohio’s famed religious community and may be tempted to find out what lies ahead for this unlikely crime-solving couple. (Aug.)"
-- Publisher's Weekly, June 6, 2011

About fabulous Amish food:  Although my Amish novels are romantic suspense, I do pay homage to great Amish cooking in each book.  Book #1 features half moon pies, a fabulous but very practical dessert.  Book #2 (RETURN TO GRACE, coming March 2012,) features Whoopie pies.  I'll be including links to recipes for these special treats here on my website.

The best information and recipe I’ve found for Amish Friendship Bread is at a great website, http://www.armchair.com/recipe/back002.html.

Lydia’s mother in UPON A WINTER’S NIGHT specializes in this delicious bread and you can too.  Enjoy a piece of it while reading a Karen Harper book!

Hannah Esh’s Favorite Recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

2 C. brown sugar
¾ C. shortening, softened not melted (Don’t replace shortening with butter or you will get a harder, flatter cookie.)
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons boiling water
2 ½ C. flour
2 C. oatmeal, not instant
¾ C. chocolate chips

Cream sugar and shortening.  Add eggs, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.  Add baking soda, dissolved in the boiling water.  Gradually stir in chocolate chips.  Drop batter by heaping teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Marshmallow Fluff Filling: (Place between two baked cookies as if making a sandwich.)

1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ C. confectioners sugar
2 C. marshmallow crème such as Marsh-mallow Fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat together butter, confectioners’ sugar, marshmallow and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer [[for the Amish it’s generator-fed electricity]] at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

This version of the recipe is from Amish Heartland Recipes.  This is a great magazine about the Amish.  See their website at www.amish-heartland.com 

Half-Moon Pies:  The best recipe I've seen for these is on a great site for Amish cooking in general, www.amishrecipes.net.  To find the half moon pies, use this link:  www.amishrecipes.net/recipes.php/115/Amish-Half-Moon-Pie/Dessert.  You can use other fruit fillings for these.  Just follow the recipes for other pie fillings:  peach, blueberry, cherry--yum.

Marta Perry, my friend and co-author of an anthology of Amish novellas which will be out next year, shared a similar recipe with me, although she cuts her crusts into six-inch, not eight-inch circles.  She writes that these make an individual dessert that's good hot or cold, sort of like a dumpling, but not as messy.  Happy eating and reading!

Here’s short synopsis for DARK ROAD HOME:  After a murder case threatens her safety, attorney Brooke Benton seeks sanctuary in the quiet Amish community of Maplecreek.  Although the locals disagree with her worldly ways, Brooke soon manages to find a place in their lives.  But when a tragic accident turns fatal, she cannot abide by the community’s belief in absolute forgiveness.  She wants answers.

Daniel Brand left his childhood home to explore the outside world years ago.  Now he has returned to his Amish roots, and Brooke Benton does not fit into his plans.  But he slowly agrees they must bring to justice the man who killed his niece.  Together, Brooke and Daniel begin a journey along a dark road, hoping to bring peace to the small community…and maybe lead their hearts home.

DARK ROAD HOME is Fresh Pick at FreshFiction.com

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Karen Harper Books

Down River
February, 2010

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This novel, was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Alaska several years ago.  I knew from the moment I saw the state’s majestic beauty but also its isolation and danger that I would set a romantic suspense novel in “the last American frontier.”  I was impressed by the land and its very independent people.  More than once, someone I spoke with or interviewed explained why they love Alaska and would live nowhere else.  I was surprised how many odd jobs Alaskans were willing to work to support themselves in the more rural areas.

We stayed in a rustic lodge near Denali Park that was partly the inspiration for Mitch’s lodge.  The little town of Bear Bones does not exist, but I based it on several small rural towns I saw.  My husband and I have done whitewater rafting in Colorado rather than Alaska.  Though I have not kayaked on river rapids as fierce as in this story, it gave me a feel for the Wild River.

So, in the wintry month of February when DOWN RIVER comes out, take a trip to Alaska in August.  Here’s a cover copy teaser:  Lawyer Lisa Vaughn is swept away by an unknown enemy and a raging river.  Rescued by Mitch Braxton, the man she once loved, she returns to civilization only to face dangers more deadly than in the wilds. 

Shakespeare once wrote, “First, let’s kill all the lawyers.”  In DOWN RIVER, someone seems to have that in mind.

Book group discussion questions are included with the novel.


Review at Fresh Fiction
For a printable list of Karen Harper's Books,
click here for PDF or here for Word format.

Down to the Bone Cover

“A compelling story… intricate and fascinating details of Amish life.”   --New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag

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“Multidimensional characterization, fascinating details about Amish culture and a twisting, complex plot make for the kind of rich reading experience readers have come to expect from Harper.”  --RT Bookclub

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“Haunting suspense, tender romance and an evocative look at the complexities of Amish life—Dark Angel is simply riveting!”--New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen
(DARK ANGEL won the Mary Higgins Clark Award)

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“A glimpse into the lives of the modern-day Amish…Harper’s choice of setting and lifestyle for her heartwarming characters adds a fresh twist.”
--Publishers Weekly

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"A strong plot, a pair of well-written characters and a genuinely spooky atmosphere add up to yet another sterling effort from Harper.  Fast-paced and absorbing, this one will keep readers turning pages far into the night."
--RT Bookreviews

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble:

The Stone Forest

The Falls
Black Orchid
Dark Road Home

Contact the author at Karen.Harper.Author@gmail.com

Photo of Karen Harper by Jeffrey A. Rycus

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