Bettie Boswell and I met several years ago, and I was immediately drawn to her…
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.**
Would you be willing to climb a tall, winding staircase in a lighthouse to see the amazing view? (I would!)
Have a wonderful day!