book, Book Review

Hearts Made Whole, by Jody Hedlund

About the Book:Book - Hearts Made Whole
Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
Source: Author Provided
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
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Find the Book Elsewhere:
Amazon ǀ Barnes & Noble ǀ Goodreads
Series: Beacons of Hope, book 2
Genre: Fiction; Historical Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 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 been given the post as lighthouse keeper, and the isolation where he can drown in drink and hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s none-too-pleased to be giving up her position. They both quickly realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but Ryan’s unwilling to let anyone close, ravaged by memories and guilt. Caroline’s 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? – Goodreads

Review: Given her track record and beautiful prose, it’s no surprise when I say (or it shouldn’t be), Jody’s latest novel is a compelling, evocative story that doesn’t evade its obligation to show real depictions of a hurting soul in need of love, healing and forgiveness, and in that, the beauty that can bloom from those cleansing emotions. The second book in Jody’s recent Bethany House series, this novel sets out to chronicle Ryan’s story, brother of Emma who was our heroine in Love Unexpected. Where Emma’s story is sweeter (though not without its trials), Ryan’s is overridden with the opposite; strife follows him like a bad omen. I’m leading off with the characters because, really, that is what I was most impressed with in Hearts Made Whole. Ryan’s character was masterfully written. I was constantly impressed with the depth of his pain, the emotional turmoil he goes through and the mental anguish he endures.

I think for a hero in a CBA marketed novel, his is the first really “tortured” soul I can remember coming across. And I have to confess, I liked that conflict. Not because he does suffer, rather because it presents the author was some beautiful challenges and gives the reader the true definition of a flawed hero. It’s not the most pleasant thing to experience, however the premise of a man haunted by his past – a character that is more than a handsome face, is never a bad notion. Under Jody’s talented hand, everything plays out really well and I loved the progression of the characters. Ryan’s healing becomes a genuine, engrained aspect of the story as does Caroline’s growing affection for him. She’s an excellent buffer for his more volatile temperament (though he’s not a violent person, merely lost) and ultimately it’s her goodness and love that helps him return to the man he was. (To be honest, I’m getting a few Beauty and the Beast feels with this story.)

Fans of this author’s prior novels will appreciate this story. It’s got the usual heartwarming scenes, which ensures a lovely, quaint kind of charm, yet brims with sincerity. This book didn’t eclipse my favorite Jody Hedlund book (that honor remains with A Noble Groom), but it’s still a poignant read. If you like books that feature flawed, occasionally brooding heroes, this might be the book to pick up. The redeeming qualities, specifically the redemptive transformation Ryan undergoes, of this story make it hard to put down. Into its pages, a genuine hero walks and in time, an honest story weaves a pattern of hope. The ending is perfectly shaped to this story (its jump in time allows for a much fuller, healthier conclusion), and because of this, the reader is all the more hopeful and fully satisfied by the ultimate journey and message.

Coming Next from Jody Hedlund: Katharina von Bora has seen nothing but the inside of cloister walls since she was five. In a daring escape, Katharina finds refuge with Martin Luther and seeks his help to pair her with the noble, wealthy husband she desires.

As class tensions and religious conflicts escalate toward the brink of war, Martin Luther believes that each day could be his last and determines he will never take a wife.

As the horrors of the bloody Peasant War break out around them, the proud Katharina and headstrong Martin Luther fight their own battle for true love, in one of the greatest love stories of history. – Luther and Katharina via Goodreads, Waterbook Press October 2015

Then watch for book two in her YA series, A Daring Sacrifice (Zondervan), which arrives in stores March 2016.

Sincere thanks to the author, Jody Hedlund (and publisher) for providing a complimentary copy of this book, as an influence and for reviewing purposes.

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