Pastor David Langley understands six-year old Caleb Holsheyer -- what it feels like to be damaged and alone. His family killed in a fire, and his body severely burned, David grew up in an orphanage, ridiculed and shunned. He couldn’t let that be Caleb’s fate.
When adoption plans fall through, David is desperate to find Caleb a new home. But in the midst of the Great Depression, most families are barely getting by. No one seems willing to take on the responsibility of an extra mouth, especially one belonging to a crippled child.
Except for Sadie Miller, the town spinster. In Sadie, David sees the answer to Caleb's needs. But Child Welfare doesn't agree, and demands other arrangements be found, or the boy be returned to the orphanage.
David and Sadie team up, determined to find a home for an orphaned child, but while searching, might they find a family instead.
"How could they think Caleb's not normal? He's as normal as any other child." Sadie folded her arms in front of her. "Goodness gracious! You're telling me he can be adopted – just not by me -- but he can't be placed-out to anyone?"
"I'm afraid so."
"I've never heard anything more preposterous. I don't even know where to begin."
"I know, Sadie." David gently placed his hand on her arm. "It makes no sense to me either."
Sadie huffed and then looked down at his hand. Strong, warm... ringless. Caleb could be adopted, but only by a family with a mother and a father. A married couple.
She envisioned how a gold band would look circling the base of his finger and suddenly realized she'd unknowingly extended her own hand and was holding it outward, like she showcased her own imaginary matching ring.
Good heavens! Sadie curled her fingers into a fist and then extended them again, curled and extended. "Guess I spent too much time kneading dough today." She giggled like a silly girl and glanced at David to see if he believed the excuse.
His brow creased with a look of concern. "Does it hurt?" He took her hand and cradled it like a wounded puppy. His tenderness melted her to her core. Why couldn't she be young and beautiful, someone he'd want? How she'd love to share her home with him... her bed... her life. If he married her, they could be Caleb's parents. They could have more children. If she was able. If she wasn't too old.
Sadie watched his beautiful face as he tended to her hand, gently massaging her palm. He might marry her, for Cale--
What was she thinking!
"It's fine," Sadie said, pulling her hand from his. It was a farce. She wasn't hurt; she was just taking advantage of his kindness. Just like she'd be doing if she suggested he marry her for Caleb's sake. He might very well do it. It would be for Caleb's well-being, but her own selfish motivation would be hidden in there as well. David didn't feel that way about her, and she wouldn't use Caleb's misfortune to trap him. What sort of person would that make her?
She side-glanced to find that he stared at her, with something strange dancing in his eyes.
"Sadie, did you know that you're lovely?"
She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. "You spend too much time in your office."
"But I haven't. I've been spending it with you."
She knit her brow, her heart pounding like thunder. What on earth was he saying?
"There is no one like you, Sadie Miller," he said. The depth in his hazel eyes held an unspoken draw, beckoning her to him. She felt herself leaning, and she tried to resist, but some invisible force seemed to be pulling her closer... and closer... Her eyes started to close.
"You'll make some man very happy someday," David blurted, averting his gaze as he stood. "I should go. I have to be on the road early." He tightened his necktie and straightened his collar, then nodded courteously without looking directly at her. "We will find Caleb a home."
Before she could respond he'd trotted down the steps of her front porch and off into the dark without even saying goodbye.
Sadie sat alone on the swing, heat radiating within her. Her hand went to her mouth. Had she almost kissed him?
Have Mercy! No wonder he'd suddenly run off. How would she face him tomorrow? She looked into the blackness where David had disappeared, the humiliating moment replaying in her mind.
Wait a minute. He was leaning too. Had he -- had he almost kissed her back?
It is the season of giving. I received a most delightful gift in reading "Orphaned Hearts" by Shawna Williams.
This novella, only eighty-seven pages long, is full of gifts. There is the gift of the setting: the holiday season of the early 1930's, in the small town of Brady Hill.
The main characters, David and Sadie, are gifts as they show us the things that matter: love, faith, compassion and kindness. They will rise above their own issues to help others, especially the children of the orphanage in nearby Fort Smith.
There is the gift of Caleb, the orphan who will steal your heart the moment you meet him. Only six, he has experienced more tragedy than any child ever should. But the little boy, who loves to run and climb trees and play ball, is still inside and with the love of David, Sadie and the entire town of Brady Hill, Caleb becomes the six year old child he was meant to be.
Lessons learned or those we are reminded of is another gift of "Orphaned Hearts." This book shows us that no matter the issue, no matter the "damage," physical or emotional, all people are created equal and should be treated as such. It shows us that we need to reach out to others who need our help - we cannot ignore those who are in need. And it shows us that faith in God and obedience to Him will bring us through everything we face.
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, I rank "Orphaned Hearts" as a twenty. Buy this book and in the midst of the Christmas rush, take an afternoon, sit in front of the fireplace with a cup of hot tea or cocoa and enjoy this book. It will be the best Christmas gift you can give yourself.--Edwina Cowgill
I love Christmas novels and this one was a great one! Set during the Great Depression, it tells of the love story Pastor David Langley with the orphaned children he helps. An orphan himself, David understands that Caleb will have it harder than other orphans. He knows the odds are Caleb, with his disability, will not be adopted. Horribly disfigured in the fire that killed his family, David guards himself from further hurt by shutting others out. He doesn't let anyone see his scars because he is sure they will reject him. He is very familiar with rejection from his years in the orphanage. Sadie Miller is the wealthy town spinster and takes in Caleb temporarily. She loves Caleb and longs to be his mother. Unfortunately the authorities do not think hers is a good placement. David and Sadie must find another home for Caleb. AS they work together it seems like David, Sadie and Caleb form a little family. Will Caleb find a home? Will David and Sadie find what they are longing for? A great romance with a little mystery thrown in and a dramatic conclusion makes for an exciting Christmas story!-- K. Thorne
Why Shawna Wrote Orphane Hearts:
Orphaned Hearts is a story inspired by my granddad. He grew up in an orphanage during the Great Depression. My grandmother's father worked at the orphanage's dairy and this was how my grandmother and grandfather met. The empathy created through his own experiences led my grandparents to serve as foster parents for many years, affecting a great many lives.
The main message of this story is that true love conquers pain, but sometimes the biggest obstacle to accepting it is ourself.
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Shawna K. Williams is an Inspirational Romance writer who loves telling a story through flawed characters – the only kind she can relate to. She also likes a good dose of nostalgia, which is why many of her stories are set in rural America during the first half of the 20th Century.
When not writing, Shawna spends time with her husband and three children enjoying life on their ranch. She's also an avid reader, book reviewer, blogger, and jewelry designer.
Read more about Shawna K. Williams at http://www.ShawnaKWilliams.com
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