Character Spotlight: Cynthia Ruchti’s Emmalyn & Bougie

As waters gone byMeet two opposite women in

Cynthia Ruchti’s

women’s fiction

As Waters Gone By

Abingdon Press


The Story

Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured that he could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court mandated five year time out. On a self imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, Emmalyn has just a few months left to figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again.

Nudged along by the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Cafe’, a circle of misfit people in their small town, and a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her, Emmalyn restores an island cottage that could become a home and begins to restore her heart by learning what it means to love unconditionally. Yet even as hope begins to find a place within the cottage walls, Emmalyn still wonders is she’s ready for Max’s release. She may be able to rebuild a cottage, but can she rebuild a marriage?

Introducing Emmalyn & Bougie

Brief physical descriptionCR2

Emmalyn Ross is a classy, lean—her mother thinks TOO lean—woman who is in her early forties; clear blue eyes; dark hair cut in a short, crisp, sophisticated style. She dresses in simple, no frills, high quality jeans or trousers with a starched white blouse and a minimum of jewelry.

Bougie, unfortunately, is in many ways Emmalyn’s opposite. She dresses in an eclectic style, pulling her fashion sense from…well…no one is sure. She purchases much of her clothing from vintage shops and often pairs printed tights with a remade prom dress or a lace skirt with a tutu. Her hair is a lion’s mane that floats around her as she walks. Skips. For a woman in her mid-twenties, she has the energy of a toddler, but the heart and wisdom of a woman much older than she is.


Emmalyn—Helena Christensen

Bougie—Jillian Rose Reed

StrengtCR1hs and Weaknesses

Emmalyn was at one time an executive chef but has a weakness for bacon and popcorn. She also has a weakness regarding children—especially the ones she can’t have. She won’t believe me if I say she is a woman of strength, but it’s true. She is enduring the unimaginable and staying upright through a difficult season. She quickly learns that resisting help exacerbates her despair and loneliness. But she does learn it.

Bougie’s strengths show up in her overt kindness and boundless compassion. She’s gifted at pairing people in need with other people who can help meet that need. Bougie’s exuberance often needs reining in, but it’s also such a part of who she is and always directed toward helping others. Under the growlight of her acceptance and quirky wisdom, those within reach of her illumination can’t resist the love of God that compels her.

Quirk (if any)

Emmalyn is usually too serious to be quirky. But after living in a sleek, modern dwelling that had lost its sense of home, she’s now rehabbing a hunting cottage with reclaimed materials.CR3

Bougie’s fashion sense is definitely a conversation-starter. As are her ideas about how she runs The Wild Iris café. They don’t have take-out containers or plastic bags for leftovers, Styrofoam cups for to-go coffee. At the Wild Iris, a customer will take a covered soup bowl home with him/her and bring it back the next time.

Your inspiration for the character

Emmalyn’s character grew out of watching someone very close to me navigate those rough waters of figuring out how to make marriage work despite her husband’s imprisonment. My friend has all of Emmalyn’s class without her despair. She’s not only holding steady, but experiencing a dramatic growth in her marriage relationship and in her faith.

Bougie looks a little like a friend of mine from the worship team at our church, a young woman who can turn three skirts into one lovely, layered, one-of-a-kind fashion experience. Her kindness and enthusiasm resemble what I see in my sisters and sisters-in-law, daughter, granddaughters, and my exceptional nieces. Her wisdom is so grace-filled and sensitive that I suppose I created in Bougie what I long to be true about me.

Background to the story

For years, Emmalyn and her husband Max worked their carefully constructed plans to get their careers well-established before they thought about having children. When they were ready, Emmalyn’s body wouldn’t cooperate. They invested thousands of dollars in infertility treatments that all failed in one way or another.

When Emmalyn’s doctor reported that he believed Emmalyn was entering early menopause, as her mother had, hope faded even farther. Then Max was arrested, tried, and imprisoned, stealing hope’s last gasps. By the time he’d be released, their hopes for a family of their own would be gone.

Soon into his incarceration, Max stops communicating with her. Their fragile marriage grinds to an inelegant stop. But he’ll be home soon, if they can figure out a new definition of home, and learn how to reclaim a grip on hope.


CynthiaCynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels, novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry. Ruchti has 15 books in print and has received numerous awards and nominations.

She serves as the professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers and speaks frequently for women’s groups and serves on her church’s worship team and Creative Arts team. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

To keep up with Cynthia Ruchti, visit You can also become a fan on Facebook (CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage) or follow her on Twitter (@cynthiaruchti).

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character spotlight on Becca Morrow
Character spotlight on Anna, Ivy, and Becky
Review of They Almost Always Come Home
Character spotlight on Libby Holden
Visit Cynthia’s website and blog
Buy at Amazon: As Waters Gone By or Koorong

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