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?
|Publisher:||BWL Publishing Inc.|
|File size:||879 KB|
About the Author
Sydell Voeller grew up in Washington State, but has lived in Oregon for over thirty-five years. Throughout her twenty-year writing career, her published novels for teens and adults have reflected her love for the Pacific Northwest’s ocean beaches, inlets and waterways, evergreen forests, and mountains. Sydell resides in Oregon with her husband. They married in 1971 and have two grown sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and three adorable grandchildren. When Sydell isn't writing, she enjoys camping, walking, amateur astronomy, reading, and surfing the web. In 1987 after the publication of her first novel, she was named by the Washington County Mushaw Center, Woman of the Year in Communications. Formerly a registered nurse, Sydell now teaches writing correspondence courses, sponsored by the Long Ridge Writer’s Institute.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Book Review Impressions I love the weaving of subtle and sometimes in your face nuances of emotions. The author relates well the drawing together of a family seemingly made in heaven. The story illustrates how life’s painful and shame-filled appearing lesson creates a strong person. The burden of being the keepers of moral fortitude seems ordained to be the burden of women. In this story, Sarah’s need to break free from the norms of being a PK cost her dearly. And in my opinion, this noisome guilt held too much sway of her self-perception of a “good” woman. The rich colorations of Sarah’s burden of guilt are easily understandable and the reader can’t help but yearn for her release The blending of the relationships between the characters Carly, Sarah, and Rich is seamless and good reading. Those needful emotional processes necessary to move into an understanding of mutual need is told brilliantly in this work. Rather than dramatic epiphany, there’s an emotional dawning of shared belonging. This story is a perfect ménage of emotional reactions from father to daughter, from daughter to Sarah and of course, the creation of Rich and Sarah’s love that binds. The writer makes it all come together like a beautifully woven tapestry. The storyline is so sublimely vanilla in its characterizations I was surprised to discover the submerged anger in the daughter Carly. The scenes involving her need for acceptance and friendship came across true and real. The author makes it happen in a surprisingly gentle way. It’s not only the heart that leads home but also the strength of honesty and integrity. Story/Plot/Conflict A lifetime of doubts fueled by guilt from her past sees Sarah returning home to settle her grandmother’s estate. Everything…every nuance that wracks her with emotional pain returns demanding assuaging and resolutions. But the outcomes come warm to the heart. Running from the confining morals of the church merely delivers her into the arms of new love and a welcoming acceptance that the church is where she belongs, in small town where she began her life. Sarah becomes a true heroine and finds her life’s dreams fulfilled in the most unexpected ways. Main Characterizations Sarah Pendleton’s life has delivered its cruelties to the beautiful runaway that returns home a lovely but lonely woman. Her heart is cold and loveless, but a little girl and her preacher father ignite a love in Sarah she thought could never be. Rich Stevens is the handsome young preacher who is widowed with a loving and lonely little girl. He thought loving another woman impossible until he meets Sarah. Critiques: I found the mixture of bold with changing fonts distracting from a wonderful story. Genre: contemporary romance
Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite Sydell Voeller’s The Heart Leads Home is a story that touches the heart. Orphaned at an early age, Sarah Pendleton lives with her loving grandparents in a small, rural community where her grandfather is a pastor. The people in the community think highly of her and expect her to be a perfect kid. Overwhelmed by the community’s expectations, Sarah marries a stereotypical “bad boy” who eventually abandons her when she gets pregnant. Rich Stevens, on the other hand, is a widower who has an 8-year-old daughter Carly, who still grieves over her mother’s death. Sarah and Rich meet and the attraction is strong. However, he is a youth pastor at the same place where her grandfather had served and Sarah has a baby she left behind. The Heart Leads Home is a completely engaging love story. Although a complicated plot like this is at risk of being overly dramatic, Sydell Voeller is such a wonderful storyteller for presenting her story effectively. Each character is palpable and you could sense their own struggles – they are who they are and we love them for that. I would not have second thoughts recommending this novel. There are so many lessons we learn from the two lead characters – Sarah and Rich. This is a book that you will love to read and a romance that you want to end happily ever after. This is not your typical romance novel simply because you have a truly gifted author. Voeller writes a different kind of romance story about two people you would never have thought should end up together.
Sometimes, the last place you think you want to be is exactly where your heart leads you. The Heart Leads Home by Sydell Voeller is a beautiful story of loss, need and learning to love again. Sarah Pendleton was labled the “preacher’s kid” growing up in a small town where her grandfather was a local pastor. Orphaned and being raised in the loving home of her grandparents, the pressure she felt to always be good was overwhelming, so at the first opportunity she left and married the town “bad boy.” The marriage was a dismal failure, Sarah was left pregnant and unable to care for her baby, so she gave the little girl up for adoption and it has haunted her ever since. Her bitter memories and shame kept her from going home unless absolutely necessary. After her grandparents had both passed on, Sarah finds she must come back to Mistletoe to either sell off the family property or stay on in a town that far too easily passes judgment and never forgets. Enter Handsome Rich Stevens, a widowed father still grieving the loss of his wife. There is an instant attraction that both of them dance around because Sarah has no intention of staying and Rich feels his life must revolve around his daughter, who is having her own problems dealing with the loss of her mother. Besides, kind-hearted Rich is also a youth pastor at Sarah’s old church, and she would be right back under the scrutiny of the town. Life has a funny way of bringing people together and opening doors to love and hope for the future as Sarah and Rich soon realize when events and revelations seem to conspire to do show them what their hearts want. Author Sydell Voeller has a gift for telling a touching and warm love story with the promise of a happy ever after that wraps around you like a warm hug. She has breathed life into each character, making them so believably real and vulnerable, yet strong, that there was not one character that I didn’t feel I connected to. Each scene comes alive with lifelike descriptions that I saw and felt. When the door opened and the chill winds blew in, I shivered! I think Sydell Voeller and her novel The Heart Leads Home is proof that a love story can be a completely engaging and enthralling read without being explicit in details.