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Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund: Writer Wednesday

Undaunted Hope

Last week I had the pleasure of diving into Jody Hedlund’s latest inspirational historical romance, Undaunted Hope. It’s the third book in her Beacons of Light series, and I’ve been dying to read more about Tessa Taylor since she made a whopper of a mistake in the second book, Hearts Made Whole. I finished the book on Saturday–what a treat!

Jody Hedlund writes drama-filled, high conflict, historically fascinating, deeply romantic novels, so it’s easy to lose track of time and forget where you are when you’re reading her books. I’ll post my review below, but here are some of the highlights of Undaunted Hope.

  1. Spunky heroine unafraid to fight for equal rights for herself as a woman as well as for others less fortunate
  2. Hunky brothers fighting for her affection
  3. Sweet children Tessa falls in love with (and the reader does too!)
  4. Interesting historical details about mining and the harsh life way up north in the late 1800’s
  5. Internal conflicts regarding helping a loved one with depression, blaming an object (the lighthouse) for bad things in life, and standing up for what’s right in the face of terrible punishment

Here’s my review:

5 STARS for Undaunted Hope

I’ve been looking forward to this installment of the Beacons of Hope series ever since reading about Tessa in Hearts Made Whole. Boy, she made some big mistakes in that book! Undaunted Hope picks up five years after Tessa left home. She’s the new school teacher in a small coal mining town in upper Michigan, but she faces a mountain of obstacles, including a town leader who abuses his power, the fact only male teachers are allowed to teach in the school, rough living conditions and a pair of brothers fighting for her affection. As with all Ms. Hedlund’s books, this one is a page turner with lots of conflict and some swoonworthy moments. All is wrapped up in a supremely satisfying ending!

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own. *

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Undaunted Hope

 

Undaunted Hope

Tessa Taylor arrives in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, planning to serve as a new teacher to the town. Much to her dismay, however, she immediately learns that there was a mistake, that the town had requested a male teacher. Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since they won’t be able to locate a new teacher before then, and Tessa can’t help but say she is in his debt. Little does she know that Percival will indeed keep track of all that she owes him.

Determined to become indispensable, Tessa throws herself into teaching, and soon the children of the widowed lighthouse keeper have decided she’s the right match for their grieving father. Their uncle and assistant light keeper, Alex Bjorklund, has his own feelings for Tessa. As the two brothers begin competing for her hand, Tessa increasingly feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

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Jody Hedlund

About Jody ~

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of nine novels, including Captured By Love, Rebellious Heart, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award and INSPYs Award. She received a bachelor’s from Taylor University and a master’s from University of Wisconsin, both in social work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. JodyHedlund.com

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What author makes you forget where you’re at and what time it is? Please share!

 

Have a fab Wednesday!

We’re Talking Lighthouses with Jody Hedlund

Hearts Made Whole

Today, I have the pleasure of talking with Jody Hedlund about her lighthouse series, Beacons of Hope. The second story in the series, Hearts Made Whole, is available now. I loved it! My review is at the end of the post.

Let’s get to it.

 

1. Each of your lighthouse books is set at a real lighthouse that once existed in Michigan or still does exist. Tell us a little about the lighthouse in this second book.

 

In my first lighthouse book (Love Unexpected), the lighthouse was set at Presque Isle which is on Lake Huron on the north eastern side of the state. For the second book, I picked a lighthouse in a completely new location with the intention of giving readers a different flavor of climate, geography, and the population.

 

Windmill Point Lighthouse once existed on Lake St. Clair near Detroit, a much more urban and highly trafficked area than the remote wilderness of Presque Isle. Windmill Point Lighthouse was a strategic beacon that helped ships cross from Lake Huron over into Lake Erie as those ships transported raw goods from the Northwest states to eastern cities and seaports.

 

The lighthouse is named after the old ruins of a windmill where early frontiersmen brought their grain for grinding. Also, legends attribute the area to being an old battle field of a savage encounter between the early French settlers and Indians. As many as 1000 Fox Indians were slaughtered on the banks of Lake St. Clair. Later settlers to the area uncovered bones, arrowheads, tomahawks, and other gruesome mementos of the battle.

 

Today, all traces of the original windmill, lighthouse, and burial grounds are long gone. If you visit Grosse Pointe in the Detroit area, all that remains is a small conical structure with a white flashing light.

 

2. Many of the heroines in your books are inspired by real women. Is that true of the heroine in Hearts Made Whole? If so, what women provided inspiration?

 

The woman light keeper in Hearts Made Whole is inspired by Caroline Antaya. Caroline lived at the Mamajuda Lighthouse on the Detroit River a short distance away from Windmill Point Lighthouse.

 

Caroline’s husband served with honor in the Union army during the Civil War, losing several fingers on his hand at Gettysburg. Eventually after returning from the war, her husband was named as keeper of the Mamajuda Lighthouse, but he passed away of tuberculosis.

 

Part of what really impressed me about Caroline Antaya’s situation was that she had been doing a fantastic job as a light keeper. But the district lighthouse inspector trumped up charges against her saying that she was in ill-health and incompetent. He took away her position simply because she was a woman and gave it to a man instead. Fortunately, her community rose to her defense and enlisted the help of a Michigan Senator to help her get her position back and she went on to serve as a light keeper for another three years.

 

In those days, when women were regularly discriminated against because of gender, Caroline’s story is inspirational and an encouragement to persevere in the face of injustice. I admired Caroline’s will to stand up for herself and to pave the way for women coming after her to use their God-given talents and abilities in roles and jobs that had previously been closed to women.

 

3. Why lighthouses? What fascinates you about these shining beacons?

 

I’m fascinated with lighthouses for a number of reasons. First, my state of Michigan is home to the greatest concentration of lights in the United States. In fact, Michigan is noted as the state where the most lighthouses were erected. And now today, more than 120 remain compared to 500 total for the rest of the nation.

 

Not only are lighthouse beautiful and picturesque, but they bring back a sense of nostalgia, poignancy, and romance that few other historical markers do. They’re rich in historical details and stories. They’re wrought with danger and death. And they’re just plain fun to explore. Climbing the winding staircase, reaching the top, and peering out the tower windows (or in some cases going out onto the gallery) is breathtaking.

 

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Thank you so much for sharing your fascinating lighthouse details with us today, Jody! I feel as if I’ve toured the lighthouses in book 1 and book 2 in the series. You brought them to life for us! And what better reward for a winding climb than a beautiful view of one of the Great Lakes.

 

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Hearts Made Whole

 

Hearts Made Whole ~

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 is 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?

 

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Jody Hedlund

About Jody ~

Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves history and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading. For more information, go to JodyHedlund.com.

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My review 5 STARS!!
I’ve been a fan of Jody Hedlund’s historical romances since her debut novel. I always say, “This is her best yet,” because each book is SO good! The same can be said for Hearts Made Whole. I loved this book!

This is the second in the Beacons of Hope series, and the story takes place on the shores of Lake St. Clair in Michigan right after the Civil War. Caroline Taylor has her hands full keeping the lighthouse after her father’s death, and the board refuses to consider allowing a woman–however capable–have the job. Ryan Chambers is given the job, but not because of his experience. The war left him guilt-filled, maimed, in constant pain and addicted to alcohol and opium.

I enjoyed how Caroline’s strong, compassionate personality helped heal Ryan, but they both acknowledged only God can heal. It was wonderfully woven together. I wanted them to have a beautiful life together, and the obstacles they had to overcome were tremendous. I didn’t want their story to end–and I was so happy at how it all worked out.

Now I just have to wait patiently until the third book comes out!
**I received an advance copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own.**

 

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Would you be willing to climb a tall, winding staircase in a lighthouse to see the amazing view? (I would!)

Have a wonderful day!

Until The Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Until The Harvest

Don’t you love it when you open a book and it alters your mood? Every time I pick up one of Sarah Loudin Thomas’s books, I just relax and enjoy the story.

Until the Harvest is the second book in the Appalachian Blessings series. This one is set in West Virginia in 1975 and 1976, and it follows Henry Phillips (readers of Miracle in a Dry Season will enjoy recurring characters) and Margaret Hoffman as they deal with personal tragedies, tough choices and trying to figure out their lives.

Each of Sarah’s books features a character who is blessed with some sort of healing power, and Margaret’s younger sister Mayfair has the gift here. She was one of my favorite characters, but I admired Margaret the most. She’s a hard worker, not terribly attractive, and as the story progresses, she explores what she wants out of life. It was refreshing to read about a heroine who doesn’t want a flashy career but a life of purpose on a farm.

Full of conflict, grace, and examples of Christian love, Until the Harvest is a gem.

 

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Until the Harvest

Buy Until the Harvest!

Until the Harvest ~

When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother’s helper, she’s always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn’t care about his troubles.

Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.

 

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My Review: 5 Stars!

Until the Harvest is the second book by Sarah Loudin Thomas (the first, Miracle in a Dry Season, was one of my favorites!), and it centers around Henry, the son of Casewell and Perla, and Margaret, a plain but hardworking girl who works for his grandmother. The plot was rich with characters, and the West Virginia setting came alive. I identified with Margaret and her practical outlook on life, but I struggled to care for Henry because he made so many poor decisions. However, Henry’s growth and Margaret’s journey made for a satisfying ending.

**I received an advance copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own.**

 

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Sarah Thomas

Sarah Loudin Thomas ~
Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014 through Bethany House. Book #2, Until the Harvest, released May 2015. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

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What author do you turn to for a unique tone/voice?

Have a terrific day!

 

Giveaway! A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

A Love Like Ours

About a month ago, I received an ARC (advance copy) of Becky Wade’s new contemporary Christian romance novel, A Love Like Ours. This is book #3 in the Porter Family Novel series. The book sat patiently on my end table until I finished writing my own book. Finally, last week I was able to dive into Jake Porter’s story.

I read it in two days. I laughed. I cried. I sighed at the end, sad for it to be over but thrilled to have experienced it.

I’ve been a huge fan of Becky’s novels since devouring My Stubborn Heart. Her books just hit every mark for me–fun characters, deep emotions, truly lovable heroes and heroines, gut-wrenching spiritual journeys and, most importantly, fan-yourself romance.

A Love Like Ours is her best yet. Lyndie is as sweet as can be, but she’s so strong and determined, too. She does not let life drag her down. And Jake–oh, my!! Jake is so tortured and wonderful–I’m in love with him. Can’t help myself!!

This is a five stars and then some for me!

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A Love Like Ours

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

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Becky has graciously agreed to give away one autographed copy to one of my readers. The entry form is below (open to US residents 18 years and older). If you want to buy a copy, she’s giving a percentage of her earnings to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund on every copy of A Love Like Ours sold until May 17th. How cool is that?? Here’s the link to her Book Page where you will find links to the major retailers.

Here’s the entry form!

 

Thanks so much, Becky, for the great read and for the giveaway!

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Becky Wade

About Becky Wade ~

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn HeartUndeniably YoursMeant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.

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Do you love tortured heroes? Have you read Becky’s books? If not, you are in for a treat!!

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

Chatting with the Jills: Coffee Commercials

I’m SO excited to have Jill Lynn on the blog today! I met Jill at an ACFW conference two years ago. Someone referred to us as “the Jills,” and I loved it! Jill Lynn is hilarious, super cute, nice AND a fantastic writer. Her debut novel, Falling for Texas, is available now! It’s delightful! Jill is giving away a copy to one blessed reader, so be sure to enter the contest below!

Instead of a guest post or interview, Jill and I are imagining what it would be like if we were the stars in the International Coffee commercials from the eighties. If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing these masterpieces, I’ve embedded a few below. You’re welcome!

Chatting with the Jills:

 

Jill K: Thanks for coming over and chatting with me today, Jill. Let’s go out to my jungle of a backyard. Go ahead and have a seat on my wicker loveseat. I just love these oversize shirts! My orange sweatshirt is approximately four sizes too large for me, but it still looks good. My husband said so.

Jill L: (Insert fake laughter) Oh, Jill, I do love the feel of wicker. They just don’t make a more comfortable seat, do they? And your orange sweatshirt is stunning, though I’m partial to my… (am I wearing a one piece outfit under this blue monstrosity? I think I am.) It doesn’t compare to my flowered full-body ensemble and blue tent sweater. I really prefer my clothing in one large piece so that it doesn’t complement my body whatsoever.

Jill K: Good tip! Whew, it’s muggy out here. Why am I wearing so many layers? *fanning myself* What does the coffee remind you of?

Jill L: Gas station cappuccino. You?

Jill K: Watered down instant coffee. Hey, scooch over! I always sit two inches away from my friends. Hope you don’t mind me leaning in and giggling. Do you ever wonder what Jean Luc is doing now?

Jill L: I don’t mind you leaning in and giggling! Let’s sit as close as possible! And as for Jean Luc… we still keep in touch. What? You don’t?

Jill K: *bites lower lip” No. He got mad when I called sixty-three times in one day. He didn’t need to threaten me with a restraining order. But I’m sure he’s over his tiff by now. Men! Hey, Jill, since we’re reminiscing and I’m having a midlife crisis, why don’t we go to your house and find your old prom dresses?

Jill L: *Squeal* Yes, let’s! Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will smell like it’s been stuffed in a trunk all of these years!

 

 

Jill K: Like my new wig? I Googled “Mrs. Garrett’s hairstyle on The Facts of Life.” She’s my style icon! Anyhow, I found your hot pink prom dress! Pour me a cup of that Suisse Mocha and try that bad boy on!

Jill L: I’m sorry my voice sounds so much like a man. Before I try to squeeze into that old dress, let’s consume some fake sugar together that our body has no idea how to process!

Jill K: Yes! Although the last time I drank fake sugar, let’s just say I was in the bathroom A LOT. Remember Steve? Didn’t he wear a white tuxedo with matching hot pink vest and tie? And the hair…how did he wear his hair?

Jill L: I think it was similar to mine. In fact, we might have the same haircut! Maybe I can get some pointers from him on handling these curls.

Jill K: Just spray a can of Aqua Net on it. It’s like glue. Look, your dress still fits! I’m calling Steve! I’m sure he still has that sky blue Chevette he picked you up in!

Jill L: Call him! I can’t right now because I’m too busy twirling in circles while you smile, laugh, and break into dance with me. Oops! Sorry about that invasion of your personal space! I’ve seriously got to learn to keep my distance from people!

Jill K: I love twirling and dancing and twirling…

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Falling for Texas

Chatting with Jills
Buy Falling for Texas NOW!

 

Educating the Cowboy

Raising his orphaned teenage sister isn’t easy for Texas rancher Cash Maddox. The girl tests his parenting—and patience—at every turn! But when he asks new teacher Olivia Grayson for help with his sister’s grades and attitude, Cash realizes he’s facing the toughest trial of all. He made a promise that he wouldn’t date and get distracted from his mission of being a good father figure. Yet Olivia’s quick wit is drawing him unexpectedly closer to the caring beauty every day. Could it be time to make a new vow…one that’ll last a lifetime?

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 About Jill ~

Jill Lynn

Jill Lynn lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children who make her laugh on a daily basis. She writes the kind of stories she likes to read—ones filled with humor, grace, and happily ever after. Jill does far more dancing in the kitchen with her family than she does cooking, and she has a thing for coffee, books, boots, and thrift stores. Connect with her at Jill-Lynn.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

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My Review ~ 5 Stars!!

Falling for Texas had me falling for Texas. Cash’s morals, work ethic and the dedication he shows to his sister had me swooning, and did I mention he’s a cowboy? And Olivia was so relatable. She truly cared about her students and friends, and I found her inner dilemma to be compelling. This is such a fun read, but it will have you reaching for the tissues too. A wonderful debut! I’m adding Jill Lynn to my must-read list!

**I received an advanced reader’s copy with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own.**

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Enter to win a copy of Falling for Texas!

 

Click Here to Enter to Win!!

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Thank you so much, Jill, for being a great sport and for making me laugh until I cried!! And congratulations on your terrific debut!!

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What commercials make you groan or giggle?

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You may have noticed a new look to my blog. Yes, my blog moved! It’s now part of my brand new website. Please take a moment to subscribe (via email or in a reader such as Feedly.com: the sidebar has these options) so you  won’t miss a post! I’ll be cross-posting to this blog and my old blog all of February, but starting in March, my old blog will no longer be active. Thank you!!

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