Book Review: Hearts Made Whole By Jody Hedlund

Blurb:

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?

General Thoughts:

This story was a familiar read to me. The reason being is not because it’s the second book in the Beacon Of Hope series from this author, but because the story focuses on Ryan Chambers, Emma Chambers’ brother, from the first book in the series, Love Unexpected. In Love Unexpected, Ryan is a young man with his life ahead of him, full of determination, hope, and strength. But in this book, Hearts Made Whole, Ryan is reintroduced as a completely different person, changed by the events he went through as a Civil War solider. Being damaged mentally and physically, he as a character is barely recognizable. That alone created sympathy and made me feel connected to the book from start to finish. Having known Ryan from the first book, I already knew him well without having to read much into the story. Though when he first arrived, he was seen as a villain to the Taylor’s—someone who arrived to take their livelihood away from them by taking Caroline’s job, I understood his motives, his struggles, and did not see him as a villain at all.

Overall, the story is about the growing relationship between Ryan Chambers and Caroline Taylor. Their relationship starts off rocky. When Ryan arrives to take over, although he has no idea about Caroline’s situation, he feels he needs the job to survive. Throughout the story, the two face many challenges, which ultimately brings them closer. However, there are no major plots that come to pass in the story. The major focus is on the development of Ryan and Caroline’s relationship and on Ryan learning to accept the person he has become and overcoming not only his physical challenges, but mental challenges because of the war.

The strength of this story is as always, the author’s ability to convey a meaningful message through the character. In this story, it was with Ryan Chambers. I believe if one reads the first book, Ryan’s message will be more compelling, meaningful, and powerful. To see a character at their best, when they were full of life and hope for things to come and then to see them years later, beaten down, damaged, and without hope, really helps in connecting with a character and wanting to understand their struggle, and especially wanting to see them find some sense or sort of restoration.

The weakness of this story will depend more on if one has read the first story, I believe. As I mentioned before, the story really focuses on the relationship between Ryan and Caroline, so for one who is looking for lots of drama and action throughout the book, may see this story lacking in that area.

Recommendation:

Despite the weakness I mentioned, I would still recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories that are character and relationship focused, and seek to inspire.

Rating:

3 out of 5 stars. I felt the story lacked in any significant action or drama. It was mainly relationship focus, which made it appear slow at times. However, the strength this story had was already knowing Ryan from the first book and wanting to see how he found restoration from what we went through.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

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