Gwyneth Greer: Romance for the Tender Heart

The vow that binds too strictly snaps itself.

~~Alfred, Lord Tennyson


     It's not much, but it's home for eleven-year-old Nadine Parker and her younger siblings, Naomi, Norma, and Neil. Mamma's gone, but Daddy will come back, and everything will be all right again. The Depression will be over, and they'll be a real family in a real house, not the top floor of a run-down hotel. The police, however, get there first, and the children are considered "abandoned" and taken to an orphanage. When their father, Jesse, finds them, he promises Nadine that their stay will be brief. "You're better off here for awhile," he says, not realizing that the papers he's just signed relinquish his children to the state. "I'll see you soon," he calls as he walks away. They never see each other again.

     Neil, a dimpled two-year-old, goes first, then five-year-old Norma, and finally, Naomi who, at eight, is still appealing to parents shopping for a child. Nadine cycles through a series of foster homes where she is no more than an unpaid servant until, at eighteen, she is free. Following nursing school, she goes to work in a hospital where she meets Dr. Paul Bradford. His large, loving family gave him all the love and support that Nadine never had, and they take her as one of them.

But Nadine has promises to keep. She can't forget the day Naomi was taken away. Slipping past the matron, her face still stinging from the blow she'd received for asking about her last remaining sibling, Nadine runs after the expensive Packard with Naomi's tearful face pressed against the rear window. "Don't worry," Nadine called, her words lost in the biting November wind. "I'll find you and Norma and Neil soon, and we'll go home! I promise we'll go home!"

So begins her seemingly impossible odyssey to reunite her siblings. She's willing to sacrifice everything to fulfill her dream...even Paul Bradford, who adores her. He is, after all, a man like her father. She couldn't trust Jesse, and she's not sure she can trust Paul either.

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