Orphaned Hearts by Shawna K. Williams is a touching story of what real love truly is and means, published December 1, 2010, through Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc. Though it wasn't a 2011 book, I included it on my list of Top Picks of 2011, since I just finished reading it New Year's Eve. Pastor David Langley grew up in an orphanage and never had a real childhood. Severely burned and disfigured in the fire that claimed the lives of the rest of his family, he gives up on finding a woman who can look past his physical appearance and see the man within until he figures out he's met her in Sadie Miller, the town spinster. Sadie was once engaged, but devoted her life to taking care of her father after her mother's death and the disappearance of her betrothed.
Pastor Langley serves in orphanages to help other children and discovers six-year old Caleb Holsheyer who reminds him of the pain of his own boyhood, ridiculed and shunned, since Caleb is missing an arm. He knows this boy will be hard to place. Families want what they deem a "normal" child who can earn his keep. Many are looking for help on their farms and while they're willing to take in an orphan, they want a "whole" one, not one who isn't "normal". Sadie falls in love with Caleb and he brings her empty house to life and turns it into a home, but she's single, and the board won't allow her to adopt Caleb. She could also go for Pastor David Langley if he gave her a chance. Williams is an excellent storyteller and allows the reader to visualize not only the descriptive scenery, but also feel the depth of emotions this story provokes. David and Sadie work together to find Caleb a home with another family to no avail. She can't let him return to the orphanage and promises him he won't have to. Can she keep that promise? Something isn't right with the orphanage, and she vows Caleb won't return.
Will Pastor Langley continue to hide behind his suit and tie, or reveal himself to a woman who might see him for the man he really is? What else can possibly go wrong when the only help they had through the orphanage, besides Mr. Murray, Caleb's case manager, loses an arm and has to take off work temporarily. The man who replaces him doesn't see Caleb's plight and goes strictly by the books. What will become of a six-year old who calls Sadie mother, has a cat she's gifted him for a pet, and has found a grandmother in Mrs. Pritchard? David and Sadie haven't told him she can't keep him. The first family who planned to adopt him bailed out, and they haven't the heart to tell him he has to return to a place where he hides under the bed. Williams weaves a story that will change your perspective about what's normal and what true love really means. Orphaned Hearts is written with depth and emotion, five stars in my book. Available at Desert Breeze Publishing and wherever fine books are sold.