Honestly, I'm running out of superlatives for all the topline historicals coming out in the Christian market this year. I'm speechless -- nearly :-)
Once again, Hedlund's stunning portrayal of volatile time in American history left me feeling as if I'd lived each minute right along with the heroine. This author has the incredible ability to take her readers into the past and she makes that journey a fascinating one. Especially for this Canadian who has to admit that our Empire Loyalists who settled parts of Ontario and Nova Scotia were considered enemies of the Americans and fled the states. History is all about perspective, isn't it?
One of the most striking aspects of this book is Susanna's struggle with her core beliefs of basic values. In the beginning of the book she is almost childlike in her simplistic 'black and white' viewpoints. Ben challenges her to think beyond the constraints of the time and watching her wrestle with issues like loyalty and justice really made this read an exceptional one for me.
And oh,, the romance! I'm amazed I don't have scalded fingertips from smoldering pages. Toe-curling doesn't begin to describe it! Add in a sinister villain and some breath-taking suspense and you've got an exceptional read that shouldn't be missed.
November 24, 2013
Compelling and enjoyable historical romance
Rebellious Heart is a stand-alone novel by one of my favorite authors, Jody Hedlund. Set in the Boston area prior to the American Revolution, this captivating story is inspired by one of history's most famous couples, John and Abigail Adams, the second U.S. President and his First Lady.
When it comes to historical fiction, Jody Hedlund is among the best. Rebellious Heart grabbed my attention from the first sentence - "He's guilty of murder!" - and it isn't long before Jody takes the reader on a wild ride from one riveting scene after another. So many elements combine to make this a fascinating read.
Outstanding characterization -- Ben and Susanna are charismatic lead characters, and there's a strong cast of supporting characters as well. Ben Ross is a poor country lawyer, secretly involved in sedition against oppressive British laws. He fights against injustice "to give the downtrodden, like himself, a fair chance in a world in which those with the most power and wealth made the rules" . . . and he thinks he needs a wife with the right connections and social standing in order to increase his prestige.
Susanna Smith, the witty and intelligent daughter of a wealthy parish minister, yearns for the kind of education denied to women at the time and feels she also has to marry well in order to achieve her goals. It is great to watch Susanna grow from the young child who told Ben, "I could never marry you. . . . You're a nobody" to a courageous woman who wasn't afraid of doing what was right in the face of injustice.
Fast-moving narrative -- There's not much time for a deep breath because Jody keeps the action flowing with the extreme cruelty of British Lieutenant Wolfe and his efforts to expose the molasses smuggling operation . . . to secret passageways, hidden tunnels and nighttime flights of escape.
Romantic tension -- Oh yes! I want to save the element of surprise about the scene between Ben and Susanna in Arnold Tavern when Lieutenant Wolfe walks in, but it's worthy of rereading a few times. And then there's the scene where Ben measures Susanna's foot so his father can make new boots . . .
Ethical issues -- I thought the book's cover a little unusual at first, but then realized that it beautifully depicts an unsettled Susanna as the political situation in Colonial America causes her to wrestle with a belief ingrained from childhood, that of giving unquestioned obedience to those in authority over her. Compelled to help Dotty, an abused servant fleeing for her life, it comes down to a matter of justice vs. mercy. "Perhaps this very situation was beginning to happen between the colonies and Great Britain. They were indeed living under the authority of someone who could perpetuate abuse without recourse."
Historical detail -- The Colonial setting of the Boston area, Braintree and Weymouth is vividly conveyed, and Jody doesn't hold back on the realism of the times. The fact that Ben and Susanna were inspired by John and Abigail Adams created much interest and made me want to read more about them. It was fun to imagine what their courtship might have been like, and I loved their witty sparring. Jody provides an Author's Note at the conclusion which gives much interesting detail.
The narrative ends with these encouraging words spoken by Susanna's Mother: "You will never be content living an ordinary life. I believe you were born to do greater things. . . . You will do those great things beside a great man."
Rebellious Heart is a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable novel, one that I highly recommend.
This book was provided by Jody Hedlund in exchange for my honest review.
November 6, 2013
Good historical fiction!
Rebellious Heart was a good book. I liked the main characters, and the plot was even a little exciting. The climax was dramatic. The only problem was that it could have been a little less romantic, but I guess that is why it is called historical romance.
An interesting thing is that the story is based on the life of John and Abigail Adams. All of the stories I have read by Jody Hedlund have been based of actual historical events and people. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical Christian fiction.
November 5, 2013
What an excellent story! I have read all of Jody HedlundÃ¢ÂÂs other books and have found them immensely enjoyable. This one is no exception. This story takes place in Massachusetts in the year 1763. It is a fictional tale showing what the early years of courtship and romance might have been like for John and Abigail Adams, the future President of the United States and his first lady.
Ben Ross (John Adams) is a young lawyer, who has returned home to start his law practice. He has grown up the son of a poor farmer, but aspires to much more. He wants a good reputation and social status and has decided he will marry a woman who has both, along with wealth, to gain a foothold in society so as to launch and then expand his law practice. He renews his acquaintance with Susanna Smith (Abigail) due to his best friendÃ¢ÂÂs romantic interest in SusannaÃ¢ÂÂs sister, Mary. Ben and Susanna are together often to act as chaperones for the couple. Ben also has realized the price of being British subjects has come at too high a cost. He resents how the colonists are treated by the Crown and has begun to do something about it. However, the more time he spends with Susanna, the more he begins to admire her keen mind, compassion and pertness. Ben knows Susanna would never agree to a courtship between them because she has been groomed by her mother to make a good match, and Ben doesnÃ¢ÂÂt have the social standing or the wealth to be considered such. Can Ben really capture her heart?
Susanna Smith comes across a runaway girl hiding in the orchard. She soon befriends the runaway, but at what cost? She entreats Ben to help her find legal recourse for the young woman. Soon Ben and Susanna have the local British soldiers breathing down their neck, trying to find this runaway girl. She is an indentured servant and has escaped with time left to be served on her contract. Harboring a runaway indentured servant has severe penalties for both the discovered servant and the concealer. Susanna begins to see Ben as courageous, brave and intelligent. She wants a future with him, but knows her mother wonÃ¢ÂÂt approve. Susanna also begins to doubt her blind loyalty to the Crown and sees the rebellious colonists in a new light. Will she be brave enough to do the right thing in GodÃ¢ÂÂs eyes even if it is against the law of man?
Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂs guilty of murder.Ã¢ÂÂ This is the first sentence of the book and once you start reading, you wonÃ¢ÂÂt be able to put this book down. I just love how Jody recreates fictional accounts of historical figuresÃ¢ÂÂ lives and how they might have been lived. She imbues her characters with real thoughts and emotions that just jump off the page they seem so real. I really enjoy the AuthorÃ¢ÂÂs Note she includes at the end of the story where she tells of her research and what events and characters in her fictional story actually took place and what some of their thoughts were in real life. She has a talent I find fascinating, and she definitely has the God-given gift of storytelling. You donÃ¢ÂÂt want to miss reading this great book! I highly recommend it. I canÃ¢ÂÂt wait to see who Jody writes about next!
October 24, 2013