Hearts Made Whole – Jody Hedlund – Beacons of Hope #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 2 June 2015
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?
It is 1865. Caroline Taylor has dutifully tended the Windmill Point Lighthouse, both before and after her father’s tragic death. Determined to provide for her siblings and continue to man the light each night, she is shocked to find that she and her family will soon have to leave. Told that lighthouse keeping is no work for a woman she is to be replaced by a returning Civil War veteran, Ryan Chambers.
The tone of Hearts Made Whole is pretty heavy. Caroline has recently lost her father and fears for her and her family’s future, while Ryan has suffered through the Civil War. I liked how this book didn’t sugarcoat or romanticise the Civil War, but instead showed how cruel and damaging war is, and how gritty the aftermath can be. Ryan is suffering from both drug and alcohol addictions. Again, I didn’t feel there was any sugar coating of the effects of these or the fight against them. Caroline handled her response to the addictions well, I thought, patient and compassionate.
I found that at the halfway point the story descended into ridiculous chaos. The mess the characters a mange to create is quite crazy. But the action progresses quickly enough to keep the novel engaging. Of course, the main reason I was still reading was because I wanted to know what crazy thing would happen next. By the end of the book normality returns, sort of. Actually I really liked the ending. There was no rushed ‘oh, it’s okay, we’ll just move on’, but a sensible and measured response to everything that had happened.
There is lots of physical attraction between Caroline and Ryan. Add to that the mystery of who is threatening Caroline (not that much of a mystery I thought, but still), and the threat of Caroline having to leave the lighthouse and somehow provide for her siblings, and it makes this book equally romantic and suspenseful. The story is loosely based on a true story, which I thought added a nice touch. Overall, a nice historical read that reflects a truer picture of the aftermath of war.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Civil War, women’s rights, addiction, romance.
Series: Beacons of Hope #2
Published: 2 June 2015 by Bethany House Publishers
Format: Paperback, ebook. 384 pages.
Author’s website: Jody Hedlund.