Review: Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund
Beacons of Hope, Book 2
Bethany House, 2015

It’s pretty obvious that Jody Hedlund is one of my favorite authors, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed her latest novel, Hearts Made Whole. We meet Caroline Taylor, a young lady with responsibilities that weigh heavily on her heart. She is always in a state of worry, either taking care of the lighthouse or her siblings, trying to keep it all together.

When Ryan Chambers shows up to take the lighthouse keeper position, he threatens everything she has in the world: her job, her income, and her home. Will Caroline and Ryan ever come to a decision that will benefit both of them? Or will one of them be forced to leave the lighthouse?

For those who have read Love Unexpected, the first book in the Beacons of Hope series, Ryan Chambers is a familiar face. He is Emma’s brother from the first book, but his life has changed a lot between the first and second books. Now he is older, has been through war, and has seen and done things he can never forget. He is wounded both physically and emotionally.

I found myself hesitate to like Ryan, as we are reintroduced to a man who deals with his pain by self-medicating with drinking and pills. His lack of drive or a desire to be present in his own life was disheartening and gave me serious reservations about him. However, there are moments of his old, vibrant self that shine through and make you root for him to get better.

HMW influncer graphic

The heart of this novel is about forgiveness, learning to depend on God, and trusting him with the worries of our hearts.

To those of you who have read the book, did anyone else get a Phantom of the Opera vibe from chapter 22? (I’m thinking about the final lair scene). : )

*Thank you to Bethany House and Jody Hedlund for a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own. I am on Jody’s influencer team.*

June’s #HedlundChallenge2015 Discussion Now Live!

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Can you believe June is winding down already? Summer has arrived and it’s already starting to warm up outside quite a bit. At my house, the fans are always on and the windows open. : ) This month, we’re having discussion over on Jamie’s blog about Hearts Made Whole, so click on the link below to join us!

>>> Check out the discussion here! <<<

(The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year! If you’re on Facebook be sure to join our group!)

July #HedlundChallenge2015 Announcement | The Doctor’s Lady

The 2015 Jody Hedlund Challenge is a monthly series featuring the novels of author Jody Hedlund, hosted by Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows and Jamie of Books and Beverages. We invite readers and bloggers to join us in reading and discussing these books together. Every month, we’ll announce the book about four weeks before the discussion post will go live (alternating between Cassie and Jamie’s blogs). The following month, after everyone has read the book, we will discuss and interact with each other about our thoughts on each book with special appearances throughout the year! If you’re on Facebook be sure to join our group!

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If Rebellious Heart is my favorite of Jody’s books (which it is), then The Doctor’s Lady is a close second. In the month of July we’ll be reading and discussing it and I am quite happy about it!

Summary (from Goodreads): Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

Where to Buy (Preorder): Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD

Discussion Date: July 28, 2015

Don’t forget! We’re discussing Hearts Made Whole next week, so come on over to talk about it!

Review: To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander
A Belle Meade Plantation Novel, Book 2
Zondervan, 2015

I love a good marriage of convenience story, and To Win Her Favor fits the bill. Filled with conflict, angst, and a slowly burgeoning love, this book is one to read slowly to enjoy the ebb and flow of Maggie and Cullen’s relationship.

The thing Maggie wants most in the world is to race Bourbon Belle, her prized horse on which she hangs all her dreams for the future. Her love for her horse is all over the pages of this book. She has put her heart and soul into raising this animal, training it and loving it. And giving Maggie her dream is the one thing Cullen cannot do. In order to protect her, he must deny her what she wants most. Can the rift this causes in their relationship be overcome?

Cullen and Maggie’s relationship grows considerably throughout the novel. They are only strangers to one another in the beginning, both offering the other a way out of their current troubles. But once they’re married, a life together is forged, for both the good and the bad. Through loss, adversity, and learning to love despite the bad, Maggie and Cullen are given the gift of a fragile love. What I loved most about their relationship was how they grew stronger as a couple when they made decisions to sacrifice for one another, and to trust and respect each other.

Fans of Tamera Alexander will enjoy this new book from the beloved author and the great story that unfolds within its pages.

*Thank you to Zondervan and BookLook Bloggers for providing a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.*

Summary (from the publisher’s website):
A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance—and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder—Maggie’s father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail—Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Review: From the Start by Melissa Tagg

From the Start by Melissa Tagg
Walker Family, Book 1
Bethany House, 2015

If the town of Maple Valley existed in the real world, I would totally have packed my bags already and moved there. From the small-town feel to the quirky community of people who live there and all the eclectic shops, Maple Valley sounds like the place to be. And then I could check out Seth’s restaurant, which sounds amazing.

On top of my wish to move to Maple Valley, I also fell in love with the Walker family. Not only did I enjoy following Kate, but I also loved meeting her siblings: Logan, Raegan, and Beckett. And her father, of course. Their big family felt so warm and welcoming and I wanted to be a part of it. Their family home felt like a place where they all belonged no matter what was happening in their individual lives.

As for Kate and Colton, they are two completely lost people looking for direction in their lives. They balance in the uncomfortable place between feeling anxious and skeptical about their futures while searching for a flicker of hope. When their paths intertwine, Kate and Colton start to find direction for their lives, but not without struggles and setbacks along the way. And if they happen to fall in love in the meantime, that’s just part of their unexpected journey together.  🙂

Also, Raegan and Bear are adorable and I absolutely can not wait for their story! I’m already loving them!

I always love a good Melissa Tagg novel: cute and fun mixed with honesty that speaks beyond the surface and makes her novels feel personal. I can’t wait to see what comes next from her Walker family series!

P.S. Melissa, I know Courtney already has dibs on being your BFF, but I want in. Think you can make room for me, too?  🙂

Summary (from the back cover):
Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them?