Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review: "Hearts Made Whole" by Jody Hedlund

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: One of my favorite childhood books was about a lighthouse keeper's daughter tending the light for her father.  Jody Hedlund's "Hearts Made Whole" reminded me of that book and quickly pulled me into its pages.  I love that the Beacons of Hope series is comprised of unique stand-alone novels, with the common connection of a handmade cross that is passed from one character in need of hope to another. Another common thread is Hedlund's seamless incorporation of historically-inspired people and places into a work of fiction.  

"Hearts Made Whole" offers an ideal balance of pain, romance, and  suspense. The characters face daunting prejudices and challenges that create an interesting and engaging plot. Hedlund's character development is full of strength and depth. All of the characters, both main and secondary, good and bad, fill their roles to perfection. One of the most pivotal characters is Ryan Chambers, a Civil War veteran who suffers from physical and emotional ravages of battle.  His story is one to break and warm hearts, and he is the perfect protagonist for a novel titled "Hearts Made Whole." Caroline is a strong, yet vulnerable, female lead.  It is refreshing to read about a female taking on what was considered a man's job.  So often we see the male lead rescuing the female, but in "Hearts Made Whole," Ryan often depends on Caroline's strength. Through both Caroline and Ryan, Hedlund shows the healing power of faith and love.  

The "Beacons of Hope" series conveys messages of hope to readers.  "Love Unexpected," and "Hearts Made Whole" are the first two full-length novels in the series, preceded by a novella, "Out of the Storm."  Although they are all set in Michigan lighthouses, their plots are unique.  "Hearts Made Whole" is my favorite in the series so far.  My level of emotional connection with the characters and their stories was strong and my attention never waned as I read about Ryan and Caroline's defeats and triumphs.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through Netgalley. 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: 

1865, Windmill Point, Michigan

Can She Forgive the Hurting Man Who Costs Her the Role She Loves

After her father's death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren't supposed to have such roles, so it's only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper--even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He's secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation--the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He's not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who's angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he's in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he's unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope...and possibly love?

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