The love story of John and Abigail Adams, so I was thrilled to discover after reading a few pages that this book is a fictional retelling. The author cares deeply about the history and clearly states what is true and where she had to guess. Rebellious Heart is an engaging tale of Susanna Smith's struggle to become her own person. Society has rigid rules that she's always abided by...but now some of them don't fit as well as they used to fit. Add in a lawyer who seems to only spar with her and murders that have the community and region on edge, and this is a rich story set against the Colonial backdrop. A wonderful read for historical fiction fans who love a strong taste of real history in their novels.
When poor lawyer Benjamin Ross finds Susanna in a the library reading, during a party he can't help but be impressed at her intelligence, even though he remembers her as a stuck up rich girl. He soon finds that she is a smart woman, with a heart for the less fortunate who runs a school for the daughters of widows.
Though at first they seem an unlikely team, Ben and Susanna come to admire and respect the other as they work together to prove a man everyone believes to be guilty, and innocent man.
Both Susanna and Ben are strong, compassionate, and God-fearing. They both are well developed and admirable characters. Susanna was more concerned about what she could do to help others, than other people thought of her. Ben was an honorable man with a keen mind, who was willing to listen to counsel from the mentors in his life.
This book had so much going on, full of mystery, suspense, and drama. The dialogue between Susanna and Ben was one of my favorite things because it was so natural and showed rather than told the slow but steady growth of their relationship. I also loved how they wrote letters to each other with code names.
The setting was well researched, and I felt that this book did a great job of showing the social and political tensions leading up to the Revolutionary War.
Overall this was a terrific novel, in which the historical setting was brought to live before my eyes. Furthermore, Ben and Susanna were definitely the kind of heroes that I could cheer for, totally worth knowing and emulating. A wonderful book that celebrates the faith, courage, and intelligence that this country was founded on.
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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.
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.
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.