Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

  The Beacon of Hope series of books is Jody Hedlund's second historical series set in early Michigan territory/state.  While primarily romances, each story has an underlying historical vein.  I first became a Jody Hedlund follower after reading UNENDING DEVOTION (which featured the early logging days of Michigan) from The Michigan Brides Collection .  That really connected with me since I have visited several museums both in Wisconsin and the UP that preserve logging history and impact.  That led me to reading A NOBLE GROOM the second in the Brides series, and I immediately felt the authenticity of the subsistence farm story.  Women alone weren't expected to handle a farm, and often marriages were made for convenience not love.

HEARTS MADE WHOLE is the second in the Beacon of Light series (lighthouse stories) and again we have a "woman can not survive alone" story.  While other books have featured logging, farming, and the Great Lakes, the historical vein is this story is the aftermath of the Civil War and early suffrage.  Caroline Taylor has taken over the Windmill Point Lighthouse after her father's drowning; and she needs the job to provide for her siblings.  Of course, the Lighthouse Board will not allow her to continue because she is female and unmarried.  When her replacement, Ryan Chambers, arrives, it is clear to Caroline that he is ill prepared to handle this huge responsibility.  Still recovering from a war wound to his hand, Chamber's body is racked by pain and insomnia.  What Caroline cannot see are the destructive dreams and memories that haunt the young man.  Alcohol and opium dull his senses, but never completely chase the tormenting away. Knowing that he is not ready to handle the lighthouse alone, Ryan asks Caroline to stay.  Meanwhile she is considering a marriage of convenience to someone else.  Then strange things begin to happen at Windmill Point, and Caroline begins to think that someone wishes to harm her family.

I thought the historical elements of this story were not as compelling as other Hedlund books I've read.  That may be because I connected more strongly to the setting of previous books and inserted my own knowledge.  Although I love lighthouses, I never really felt the lighthouse in this story was so important; from the beginning, I felt this book was much more about Caroline's attraction to Ryan.  Don't get me wrong.  Hedlund has written a successful romance, and romance readers should be delighted with it.  I just prefer books that add a little something more, and this one offered a good story, but not quite enough history for me.

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