Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review of "Unending Devotion" by Jody Hedlund

Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Summary from Bethany House: 

Michigan, 1883 - In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs?

Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick. 

Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye. 

Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?

Buy the Book:  

Review: In Unending Devotion, Jody Hedlund once again builds a compelling, fictional plot around true people and events.  Her newest novel transports readers to the lumber towns of central Michigan in the 1880s, where we witness the devastation brought to the landscape and human lives. Hedlund tackles the painful issue of prostitution - both forced and voluntary.  There are many historical fiction novels that mention prostitution and brothels, but Unending Devotion stands out and offers a different perspective.  As Hedlund mentions in her Author's Note, James Carr, the evil antagonist in the novel, comes directly from the pages of Michigan history. It is sad and distrubing to picture the real victims of Carr's violence, and to realize that such atrocities still occur today. Unending Devotion is a call to action for readers to take a stand against injustices.

Lily and Connell are both morally upstanding characters, but very contrasting in their responses to the cruelties they witness.  Lily is fighting to save her sister and other girls losing their innocence in brothels.  She is headstrong and determined, sometimes to the extreme.  There were a few times that I felt annoyed by Lily's stubbornness and unwillingness to think before speaking and acting. Connell is bothered by the moral degradation of his town, but too fearful to confront powerful men.  He is an unlikely hero, a bit of a nerd with a mind for numbers and a desire to stay away from trouble. As Lily and Connell are drawn together, they are both forced to examine the weaknesses in their personalities.  The result is personal growth for both characters, but also dangerous encounters with Carr and his men that keep the plot moving.

Despite their personality differences, Connell and Lily are determined to keep their thoughts and actions pure. Through their relationship, they both realize that they are not above temptation.  Hedlund reminds readers that even those individuals with the highest moral standards are capable of falling prey to temptation.

The healing and reform of girls rescued from brothels is a topic that is touched on throughout the plot. Lily spends the novel with one main goal: to rescue her sister.  Along the way, she learns that girls are forever changed by their experiences and loss of innocence, and the path to a normal life is fraught with huge challenges. Like Hedlund's other novels, there is a bittersweet element to the conclusion of Unending Devotion, that will compel readers to reflect on what they have read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from LitFuse through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Meet Jody: Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of "The Doctor's Lady" and "The Preacher's Bride". She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.  Visit her website:

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Read an Except: Unending Devotion

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