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James Ambrose arrives in Hope, Pennsylvania seeking a new beginning after being released from prison. But Lorna Duncan begins complicating his life his very first week in town. After hiring her to work at his newspaper, James finds himself struggling to conceal the feelings of tenderness she arouses within him. He knows he could never burden a woman like Lorna with the stigma of his past, even if he thought she could accept it for herself.
Hands clasped behind his head, James lay on his bed in the small room above the print shop. Nearby, Ian let out a rhythmic snore, his sleep untroubled as always. James smiled into the darkness. It amazed him how quickly the two of them had slipped back into their old routine. Not even three years of separation could destroy almost two decades of familiarity.
As always, he pushed away the memory of his recent life and concentrated on the years before. He may not have survived those first few years in the newspaper business if not for Ian’s fatherly guidance. Despite the old man’s appearance as a simple printer, there wasn’t a thing about running a newspaper he didn’t know; and there wasn’t a bit of his knowledge he hadn’t passed on to James. His heart filled with gratitude as he thought about Ian. Even when things were at their worst he had stuck by James.
James frowned, rolling to his side. The memory of the past three years hung like a dark shadow over his every waking moment. And now, complicating matters, there was Lorna. He hadn’t been prepared for the feelings she awakened in him; he hadn’t even thought it possible that he could feel such things. At least not so soon. The way she looked at him, eyes filled with admiration and acceptance, tore him apart. How quickly the look would fade once she knew the truth.
"It’s the lass then?" Ian asked from across the room.
James flopped to his back. "What?"
"You’re huffing and sighing like a lovelorn schoolboy. It must be the lass that’s affecting you so."
"Lorna, you mean?" asked James.
"Is there someone else you’ve mooned over for the last three weeks?"
"I have not mooned," insisted James.
Ian snorted derisively. "You have, and no wonder. She’s a fine lass. Got a good head and an even better heart. Much better suited to you than that other one."
"If you mean Annabelle, you can just stop right there," James said, his voice hard edged.
Ian snorted once more. "So, what do you plan to do?"
"About Lorna. She’d make a fine wife."
James sat straight up. "Wife! I’ve known her less than a month and already you’re marrying me off to her? I don’t recall ever stating I was looking for a wife anyway."
"Aw, Jamie. You’re the kind of lad that’s supposed to have a wife. Don’t you know that by now?"
"Even if I was looking for a wife," James stated evenly, "I doubt I’d set my sights on Lorna Duncan."
"And why not?"
"You know why. What do you think she will say when she finds out... when she knows..." Somehow he couldn’t say the words.
"... you’re an ex-convict?" Ian finished quietly.
James lay back without responding, pain and regret searing his heart.
"Jamie, my lad, you need to let this go. You’ve suffered enough. They took away three years of your life. Don’t let them destroy the rest."
"It’s too soon," James muttered, turning toward the wall. "I just need time." But in his heart he knew he would never be ready to witness the devastation in Lorna’s eyes when he told her the truth about his past.
James closed his eyes. Lorna Duncan was nothing more than a passing fancy. And until he got over his whim he needed to do everything he could to get her out of his thoughts.
Jo Burman makes her home in Butler, Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and an ever increasing assortment of pets. Although Jo has always had a way with words, ( her first grade teacher used her stories as examples to the rest of the class) she began writing seriously during one long cold winter when she was very broke, very lonely, and couldn't afford any other hobby. "I thought my brain was going to turn to mush if I didn't find something to keep it active," she says of the time. Soon characters took up permanent residence in her life and she set a goal of having her first book published by the time she was thirty. Although she missed that goal by 5 years, she sees the time she spent waiting as necessary for her development as a writer. Ironically, she is now so involved in so many different activities she struggles to find writing time. When not at her keyboard, she is busy home educating her children, serving as her church's choir director, working in her garden, or engaging in any other creative activity that will help her avoid housework.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 224
Paper Weight (lb): 9.6
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