Saturday, July 18, 2015

Book Review: Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

Book Details:
Title: Hearts Made Whole
Author: Jody Hedlund
2015, Bethany House 
ISBN: 978-0764212383
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Book Summary:
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?

My Review:
This is the second full novel in the Beacons of Hope series. Let me start by saying that I love the historical aspects of this novel and the previous book and novella. Before this, I'd not been aware that there were so many lighthouses around the Great Lakes (although it makes sense, I'd just never though about it). I have enjoyed learning about the light keepers duties, lives and the women who helped. I always appreciate how the author ties her stories somewhat around a real historical person or event.

That all being said, this wasn't my favorite book. Her characters, as usual, were well developed and the story was richly written, but I sometimes have a few issues with the romance portion.In this case, Caroline Taylor, the daughter of the former light keeper, although a smart woman, allowed herself to become too attached to a drug addict/drunk. I had a hard time believing she would risk her reputation and that of her sister and continue living at the lighthouse with the new (drunk) of a light keeper.

Not that I didn't like the drunk character! Ryan Chambers is the carry-over character from the first novel and I enjoyed hearing about what had become of him. I think his struggle with alcohol is real and the author does a great job of showing how much of a struggle staying sober is even when it is what the person wants to do. He epitomizes the redeeming grace of God and our need to lean on Him instead of ourselves or others.

As for other secondary characters, there was Caroline's younger sister who I couldn't stand from page 1 and the evil tavern owner from town and his weird son who I knew something was off with early on in the story. Unfortunately, even with all the good writing and colorful characters, the story fell a little flat for me. The romance was good, but the circumstances and problems they faced seemed too contrived for me to really enjoy completely. I found myself frustrated with Caroline's character over and over again.

I think this is a great series, and I love the historical elements, but this wasn't my favorite novel. A good read, but not a great one.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from Bethany House Publishing for an honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own

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