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Heart of Stone: A Novel by Jill Marie Landis

Heart of Stone: A Novel by Jill Marie Landis

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Published by Zondervan
Heart of Stone: A Novel by Jill Marie Landis is the first book in the Irish Angel Series.

Laura Foster had the darkest of pasts. And he had everything to lose by loving her. Laura, free from the bondage of an unspeakable childhood, has struggled to make a new life for herself. Now the owner of an elegant boardinghouse in Glory, Texas, she is known as a wealthy, respectable widow. But Laura never forgets that she is always just one step ahead of her past. When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. She knows that if her past were discovered, Brand’s reputation would be ruined. But it’s not only Laura’s past that threatens to bring Brand down—it’s also his own. When a stranger in town threatens to reveal too many secrets, Laura is faced with a heartbreaking choice: Should she leave Glory forever and save Brand’s future? Or is it worth risking his name—and her heart—by telling him the truth?
Heart of Stone: A Novel by Jill Marie Landis is the first book in the Irish Angel Series.

Laura Foster had the darkest of pasts. And he had everything to lose by loving her. Laura, free from the bondage of an unspeakable childhood, has struggled to make a new life for herself. Now the owner of an elegant boardinghouse in Glory, Texas, she is known as a wealthy, respectable widow. But Laura never forgets that she is always just one step ahead of her past. When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. She knows that if her past were discovered, Brand’s reputation would be ruined. But it’s not only Laura’s past that threatens to bring Brand down—it’s also his own. When a stranger in town threatens to reveal too many secrets, Laura is faced with a heartbreaking choice: Should she leave Glory forever and save Brand’s future? Or is it worth risking his name—and her heart—by telling him the truth?

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Published by: Zondervan on Feb 08, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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12/02/2015

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Slipping her hand into the crook of Brand’s arm was a perfectly
innocent gesture — or so she thought until she felt his warmth
through the fabric of his coat sleeve and caught her breath at her
unexpected reaction. She hadn’t thought to be moved by the slight
connection. She never, ever sought out intimacy. Too many emo-
tions, too much sensitivity had been stripped from her as a child.
She walked beside Brand and stared straight ahead, hoping to
hide her embarrassment behind the lace-trimmed edge of her bon-
net. But it was impossible to forget who she was and that she was
strolling down Main Street on a preacher’s arm.
Who would have thought?
Truth be told, Brand McCormick was handsome personi-
fied. Tall, with thick light hair and green eyes, he exuded quiet
confidence and charm. Surprising, since she’d always imagined
a preacher to be much more reserved. But from what she’d seen
of him, he always appeared cheerful, eternally optimistic, and
compassionate.

She glanced over at him, found him studying her intently, and
felt the color rise in her cheeks. Her embarrassment surprised her.
She’d been forced to give up all manner of shyness early in life.
As her cheeks blazed, she again reminded herself he was a
preacher. Not only that, but he was a father. A widower. A real
widower with not one but two children. He was a pillar of the
community, in many ways the closest thing Glory had to a mayor.
Just as she was wondering how to fill the awkward silence, they
passed the front window of the Glory Gazette building. She glanced
inside and saw Hank Larson sitting behind his desk. Thankfully,
he looked up, waved, and signaled for them to wait.
“There’s Hank,” she told Brand. They paused and she slipped
her hand off his arm.
Hank hurried out. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows,
his bowtie askew. His brown hair looked as if he’d been raking his
fingers through it, but there was a huge smile on his face.

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Heart of stone 29

“It’s great to see you both. I’m avoiding work,” Hank said in

greeting.

Laura had never seen the usually thoughtful writer, publisher,
and acting sheriff look as happy as he did now.
Brand must have been thinking the same thing. “Obviously
marriage agrees with you, Hank.”
Laura studied Hank and found it curious that a forty-year-old
man could actually be embarrassed by his friend’s comment.
“I’m a happy man,” he said. “Now if I can just find someone to
take over as sheriff . . .”
Laura couldn’t blame him for wanting to hand the job over to
someone else. After foiling a bank robbery — he claimed his actions
were completely accidental — Hank had been proclaimed the town
hero and railroaded into the job of sheriff until a replacement could
be found. As acting sheriff, he’d almost lost his life in a shoot-out.
“When can we expect a new edition of the Gazette?” She
wanted to put a smile back on his face.
“Hopefully before the week is up,” Hank said. “By the way,
Laura, I’ll never be able to thank you enough for hosting our wed-
ding and reception supper.” He’d thanked her every time he’d run
into her this past month.
Brand laughed and nodded. “If she hadn’t stepped in, the wed-
ding would have taken place right there in the middle of your sur-
prise party.”

Hank nodded. “ ‘Hold it right there, all of you!’ ” he mimicked
Laura and she grimaced.
Hank had nearly lost the Gazette when he ran out of funds and
was laid up after the shoot-out. The town had gotten together to
help him out and Laura had hosted a surprise party in her back-
yard. During the party, Hank proposed to Amelia Hawthorne, who
was not only the town healer but Laura’s only close friend. Amelia
had accepted and Brand had been ready to marry them on the spot.
Laura remembered thinking What have I done? the minute
she spoke up and stopped them. She was adamant when she said,

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