The Heart Leads Home
by Sydell Voeller
Sarah Pendleton, a first grade teacher in Portland, Oregon, feels duty-bound as she returns to her hometown of Mistletoe Valley--and to her conflicted past. While growing up in her small, rural community Sarah lived with her grandparents, who served their community well--especially her grandfather, a pastor. Yet Sarah despised being the “perfect preacher’s kid” in a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business. Rebellious, she fell for a stereotypical “bad boy” during high school and after graduation, they married. When they learned she was pregnant, he left her for parts unknown. Unable to support the baby, Sarah gave her up for adoption, yet ever since, guilt has consumed her. She believes she doesn’t deserve to have a second chance at being a mother again.
Now a decade later, she is the sole inheritor of her grandparents’ estate. She must decide whether to sell the property, or make the painful choice of staying in a town where folks remember her rebellious past.
She meets the strikingly handsome real estate agent Rich Stevens. He also works as a youth pastor at the church where her grandfather had served. Her attraction to Rich is immediate and powerful, but she’s faced with not one, but two prickly thorns: He is a grieving widower, and his 8-year-old daughter, Carly, is grieving too. He believes that there can never be another woman in his life, and he can succeed in raising his daughter alone.
Sarah grapples with her own push-pull feelings for Rich. Should she hire him to sell her grandparents’ property, knowing full well he’s more than just a business acquaintance to her? Should she stay in Mistletoe Valley, or go back to her job in Portland? The truth is, if she were to fall in love with him, a man of the collar, she’d be right back to where she started as a child—struggling in vain to live up to others’ expectations. Worse, Rich’s daughter, Carly, is the embodiment of the baby she left behind, and if Sarah allows herself to get too close to Carly, that would only complicate her feelings for Rich.
Can Sarah and Rich overcome their personal demons and making a lasting commitment to each other? Can the two of them—plus Carly--become a forever family?