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Joy Westfall seems too young to be jaded, but the twenty-eight-year-old has already weathered more hardship and sorrow than most people twice her age. She moves home to Paris, Tennessee, with her three-year-old daughter—the only good thing to have come from her mistake of a marriage—and sets up housekeeping, as well as her tailoring business, in a tiny abode she inherited from her aunt. She doesn’t much mind living on the outskirts of town, especially since the residents of Paris seem disinclined to welcome a divorcée. The same is true of the congregants of the church next door. Just as well. Joy doesn’t need their sympathy. Lucas Jennings feels blessed to be shepherding his own congregation so early in life. Since his arrival, attendance at Paris Evangelical Church has swelled—of course, it can’t hurt that he’s an eligible bachelor. Single women flock to the church from all over Henry County, yet none of them—not even the most pious—manages to capture his attention quite like the newcomer next door, who is hungry for the gospel but unwilling to admit it. A spark ignites between the “scandalous” divorcée and the upright pastor, but Joy’s rocky past has made her wary of male attention, and her feelings of failure, not to mention her disbelief in a God of love, drives an even deeper wedge between them. Moreover, Lucas puts the brakes on their budding friendship when his congregants begin to question his intentions. When an unforeseen danger threatens Joy and her daughter, will the tight-knit town stand by and watch? Or will they open their hearts to the God of mercy and allow Him to do an unexpected work?
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About the Author
Sharlene MacLaren was born and raised in west Michigan and attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating in 1971 with an education degree, she taught second grade for two years, then accepted an invitation to travel internationally with a singing ensemble for one year. In 1975, she came home, returned to her teaching job, and married her childhood sweetheart. Together, they raised two lovely daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying families of their own. Retired in 2003 after thirty-one years of teaching, “Shar” loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family—in particular, her adorable grandchildren! A Christian for over fifty years, and a lover of the English language, Shar always enjoyed dabbling in writing. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school, and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes. “Psst,” someone would whisper from two rows over, always when the teacher’s back was turned, “pass me the next page.” In the early 2000s, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further, and in 2006, she signed a contract for her first faith-based novel, Through Every Storm, thereby launching her writing career. With eighteen published novels now gracing store shelves and being sold online, she daily gives God all the glory. She dedicated her last novel, Their Daring Hearts, to Jesus. Shar has done numerous countrywide book signings and made several television appearances and radio interviews. She loves speaking for community organizations, libraries, church groups, and women’s conferences. In her church, she is active in women’s ministries, regularly facilitating Bible studies and other events. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, with their beautiful white collie, Peyton, and their ragdoll cat, Blue.