Rating: 4.5 Stars
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Review: Jody Hedlund has the gift of bringing history to life in stories inspired by real events. "Rebellious Heart" is loosely based on the love between John and Abigail Adams. The connection to the famous historical figures is not directly tangible, but their fictional counterparts show courage, faith, mercy, and love that the Adamses likely possessed. Hedlund weaves a story of love and mystery that keeps the plot interesting. Susanna's connection to a runaway indentured servant and Ben's loyalty to the Patriot cause create tense moments. The central mystery revolves around a murder case that impacts the entire town. It lends a sense of darkness in the details, somewhat reminiscent of Dickens. There are elements of the murder mystery threaded throughout the plot, so I expected a significant climax leading to its resolution. The novel ties up neatly and completely, but almost too easily.
Susanna and Ben find themselves on opposing sides of the mounting rebellion and living in different social spheres. Circumstances repeatedly throw them together, creating the perfect recipe for romantic tensions. Ben allows statements that Susanna made when she was just 5 years old to act as a barrier to his growing feelings for her as an adult. This strikes me as a bit unrealistic, but it is a small detail in the overall story.
"Rebellious Heart" is the second novel I have read in as many weeks that is set around America's fight for independence. Although both books focus on the same topic, they are executed differently to give readers unique views of a pivotal time in history. Hedlund depicts the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, when loyalties were fractured. Reading about the Revolution has renewed my appreciation for the brave individuals who stand up for justice and freedom. Hedlund reminds her readers that a "rebellious" heart can be an asset to the world when its motives are pure and just.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through Net Galley. 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.”
Summary from Bethany House: A Love That Would Shape History Forever
Growing up with little to his name, poor country lawyer dreams of impacting the world for the better. When introduced to the Smiths he's taken by Susanna's intelligence and independent spirit, but her parents refuse to see him as a suitor for their daughter.
When the life of a runaway indentured servant is threatened, Susanna is forced to choose between justice and mercy, and Ben becomes her unlikely advisor. But drawing closer to this man of principle and intellect lands her in a dangerous, secret world of rebellion and revolution against everything she once held dear.