Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis is a Hosea-Gomer redemption story with a slight twist: this Gomer thinks she’s fine all alone, and this Hosea has his own haunting past. Laura Foster was sold into prostitution as a child, as revealed in the first chapter, but she has bought her way out and now lives a respectable life as a “widow” in the small town of Glory, Texas. However, when Reverend Brand McCormick tries to court her, she must unwillingly close off her heart and push him away in order to protect them both from her socially unacceptable past.
Despite her best intentions, Laura begins to fall for Brand as he gently pursues her. But soon Brand’s own surprising past comes to stand face-to-face with him, threatening his position as a minister. Then an old acquaintance of Laura’s comes to town and threatens to undo her pleasant charade. Laura must decide whether to flee or face her past sins. Ultimately, she seems to learn the truth of Psalm 130:7, which says that “…with the Lord is an unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”
The plot arc is completely predictable for readers of the genre, or just about anyone. The author’s strength is not plotting, but Landis does manage to keep readers interested in the story’s events. Landis does a better job with characterization and relationships, painting a fairly believable relationship between Laura and Brand. Brand’s relationships with his children from his first wife, as well as Laura’s relationship with his children, are probably the truest and most believable parts of the book. They illustrate various character flaws and strengths in each character involved, as well as strong parental love. If at times it’s a little mundane, Heart of Stone consistently shows godly values.
Laura’s character has depth -- she’s strong and proud on the outside but haunted within. Although she has made a home for herself, she feels constantly isolated from her friends by her secrets. She also believes she can never be forgiven for her sins. Brand’s personality is just barely more interesting than a one-dimensional character. He’s cheerful, forgiving, and strong, and he serves as a foil for Laura. He leads her to God and shows her what love really means. Brand’s children show personal dignity but also a need for a mother. The other townspeople are variations of “good Samaritan” and “hypocritical Pharisee.”
This book is fairly nice but a bit predictable. Nothing impressed me tremendously about it, and a major turning point of the book is based on a red herring the author waved liberally in the reader’s face beforehand. Also, the climax is over-the-top emotionally—it’s a pretty strong about-face from how the townspeople had previously behaved. I had to wonder what exactly happened to change these characters, or why they didn’t speak up before if they truly meant what they are saying now. There were also several historical inaccuracies that would bother readers who value authenticity. The best thing in this book is the message of forgiveness and redemption. Although not a challenging book, Heart of Stone does provide readers with entertainment. – Corinne Hills, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Book Jacket: Finally free to pursue her dreams, Laura Foster is trying hard not to fall in love. She knows that the Reverend Brand McCormick's reputation would be shattered if her former life is discovered. But it's not only Laura's history that threatens to bring Brand down---it's his own.
Finally free to pursue her dreams, Laura Foster is trying hard not to fall in love. She knows that the Reverend Brand McCormick's reputation would be shattered if her former life is discovered. But it's not only Laura's history that threatens to bring Brand down---it's his own.