This is the second book I have read by Jody Hedlund, and I would have to say I was thouroughly surprised. I loved the amount of depth and layers this story held. The plot, setting, history and characters were all carefully crafted.
For me, the best part of this story was to read the Author's Note at the end and discover that the town was indeed a real place, and the villain was, in fact, a real person. Many of the events incorporated into the plot were based on real events. This is an element to Jody Hedlund's writing style that I love...she bases her stories on real people. Her characters have depth, they are relatable, and they grow throughout the pages of the story.
I love the steady thread of Biblical themes throughout this book. The author covers a wide range of topics: from "tastefully"and carefully dealing with prostitution/human-trafficking, to demonstratnig purity in a relationship, to teaching readers to stand up for what is right, and also to giving the reins over to God and letting Him lead our lives. Overall, I would say this is a wonderful story of how God can change lives. This is demonstrated through the redemption of Daisy (a prostitute), through Connell (a apathetic lumber boss) and through Lily (a reckless," ge- ahead-of-God, woman). This story is filled with relatable characters that make the story come to life.
There are only a few aspects of the story I would critique. At times Lily's fiesty personality came across too strongly. She would recklessly put herself in dangerous situations, without thinking of the consequences or danger she would bring on herself and those around her. Although the author does bring about a "learning lesson" from this behavior, there were several scenes that were just pretty unbelievable. It was difficult to picture someone to be "that" reckless, regardless of the situation. One other issue was that at times in the book the plot seemed slow and disconnected to the flow and pace of the rest of the story. There were some scenes that didn't feel like they belonged and make the reading a bit rough.
Overall, this was a great story, and I do recommend reading this book. I recieved this book from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Lilly believes her sister is being held in a brothel in an area filled with a lot of undesirable people. She helps to get women out of bad situations where they have been mistreated and taken advantage of by men. Connell McCormick, who runs his family lumber business in Harrison, comes into play when Lilly comes into town. Once she discovers what is happening in Harrison, she tries to open Connell's eyes to the truth while trying to figure out what happened to her sister.
What I liked:
I really liked Lilly's personality. She is a feisty, strong, and determined young woman. She will tackle a challenge head on if she believes in what she is doing. I think that is cool.
The story got off to a slow start, but once I was a few chapters in, I was the story picked up and I was able to get more into it. This is the second book by Ms. Hedlund that I have read, both of which were really good historical fiction stories. The writing was smooth and everything flowed well. She describes everything in vivid detail and makes the reader connect with the character. Unending Devotion is an engaging Inspirational Historical Fiction story that deals with courage, loss, and love. It is perfect for fans of Christian/Inspirational Historical Fiction.
** I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for nothing, but my honest review. Thank you!**
Interesting history of the logging industry and early town growth around it. Several unexpected twists in the plot to keep you wondering what the next sequence of events will be. I enjoyed it as a light read.
All the major players in this story (some of whom really lived in this time/place) were interesting, rounded characters who did, indeed, experience change/evolution in the process of working through difficulties. Lily learns to stop "running ahead of God" and wait for Him to work His will and goodness into the different challenges she and her sister face. I was really able to "identify" with the lead characters...this author is truly talented in developing characters...bringing them to "life" so that the reader is still thinking of them when she walks away from the book!
I thought Ms. Hedlund handled the topic of prostitution in the logging camps very well. Truly heartbreaking learning about the terrible circumstances that brought so many of the women/girls into the camps (lest we forget this horrifying travesty still occurs all over the world today!)! Thankfully, Connell is convicted to join Lily in her battle against the cruelty and injustice going on there, and he is also able to help Lily give God room to what needs to be done in their fight for what is right! We live in a very fallen world and that is shown clearly in this story. Not every "story" (Daisy) ends well, or as we would wish. But, God is in control. And...in the end, always puts us in a "better place".
I really did like this book, although I'd have to say that Jody's "The Doctor's Lady" is still my favorite so far! The Preacher's Bride is very good, too... Just read them all! You won't be sorry!! Keep up the great work, Jody Hedlund!
Thank you Bethany House for the free copy and the opportunity to review. The thoughts expressed in this review were entirely mine. I was not required to write a positive review.
From the beautiful cover, to the last line of dialogue before The End, Jody Hedlund's latest was a very engaging, sweet read. If you're like me--who can rarely pass up a good 'inspy' historical fiction hot off the presses, I'd recommend this book based on the above description from Bethany House. If, however, you need convincing...here's my take on this book:
The town of Harrison, Michigan, was painted very historically accurate. For both the era, & the industry at the time. The roughness of the mid-west, coupled with endearing secondary characters and a mostly fast paced plot, it didn't take me long to finish. I found I identified with Lily, the main heroine--one of my top requirements for enjoying a novel--& Connell as well. Their stories & learning curves as individuals in the story were written simply, but you clearly saw the subtle changes in them from beginning to end. Another must-have in my fiction, is good back story. And let me tell you--Lilly & Connell had some great back story. In fact, at some points--it was better than the present plot! Lilly blames herself for her sister's downfall & subsequent disappearance, & attempts to stop at nothing to find her. Connell is scarred by his fiancee's infidelity--with his brother who was a trip & a half a not-so-nice character...but Lilly soon catches Connell's eye. In spite of their many differences in personality...while it was quite a true 'opposites attract' scenario, their differences challenged & vexed each other. But those same idiosyncrasies & personality differences only endeared them all the more...I'm getting ahead of myself.
My hopeless romantic's heart delighted in the main characters' relationship that buds & flourishes within the first ten chapters. While they are both adults, at the beginning, Lilly & Connell sneak admiring glances at each other from across the room, look for the other if out & about, & miss each other when they're not around. I wouldn't call it cheesy, per se...but I found it very sweet & endearing. What did give me pause to yearn to pull my hair out, was the characters' second guessing of the opposite's feelings for them. But that's what keeps the romance going along in a story; on one hand, you don't know if the pair will end up together, but on the other hand--you can so see a happy ending in sight. Such was the case with Lilly Young & Connell McCormick.
A handful of things I wasn't as thrilled about...more than once, I caught the plot going by at a snail's pace, while we got a load of backstory, & lots of dialogue all at once. While I knew the plot--the end-goals for the two main characters--was coming along & building up...at certain parts it moved slowly. All through the book there was much more dialogue than description--but very vivid dialogue, I'll admit. By the end of the book I had my heart in my throat as the loose ends, the pasts & yes, the love, were tied up beautifully.
*I was generously given this book to review from Bethany House