Rightfully Ours tells of buried gold, but more importantly, it reveals something far more precious in rural, North Central Pennsylvania. The treasure hunters, Rachel Mueller and Paul Porter, find themselves in the Mueller’s kitchen early in the school year, flummoxed by their improbable and unforeseen encounter. Blame it on Ron Mueller, who guards Rachel, his fourteen-year-old daughter, with strict rules about dating. He quickly introduces potential boyfriends to his “three-barrel shotgun” to assure their compliance with his standards. But his response to economic pressures—leasing the southern portion of his property to a gas-mining/fracking operation and renting an in-law cottage located near his house—unwittingly creates conflict, temptation, and a compelling story.
Sixteen-year-old Paul, the brother of one of the fracking roughnecks, is Ron’s tenant. He and Rachel live next door to each other and ride the same school bus. Thrown together, Rachel’s awkwardness and Paul’s resentment keep them apart. Eventually, Paul’s teasing tells Rachel that heknows she exists. Slowly their relationship warms and later endures tragedies, misunderstandings, discoveries, and disappointments.
Paul’s unearthing of a Civil War artifact in Rachel’s garden inspires him to write the term paper of the century. As part of his research, Paul and Rachel discover something controversial and of great monetary value—something to excite history buffs and the custodians of Fort Knox.
Despite Mr. and Mrs. Mueller’s efforts to discourage teen passions, Paul and Rachel find themselves unsupervised. They weigh what is best for their short term relationship against what is more valuable in the long term. Young readers will be able to identify with Paul and Rachel as their love develops, and to feel their pain as storms tatter and threaten a far more valuable treasure, one they may soon lose.
Carolyn Astfalk brings life to the pages of her books. She fills her teen romance novel with tenderness, humor, and irony. As with Romeo and Juliette, parting with Rachel and Paul will be “sweet sorrow.”
I had the privilege to work in the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group with Carolyn Astfalk as Rightfully Ours came to be. She shared each new chapter and eventually sent me a review copy of the completed book. I’ve enjoyed all of Carolyn’s published and unpublished novels including Ornamental Graces and Stay with Me. I am grateful for her assistance with my own efforts.