#3: Undaunted Hope  -     By: Jody Hedlund
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#3: Undaunted Hope

Bethany House / 2016 / Paperback

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Tessa Taylor arrives in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, planning to serve as a new teacher to the town. Much to her dismay, however, she immediately learns that there was a mistake, that the town had requested a male teacher. Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since they won't be able to locate a new teacher before then, and Tessa can't help but say she is in his debt. Little does she know that Percival will indeed keep track of all that she owes him.

Determined to become indispensable, Tessa throws herself into teaching, and soon the children of the widowed lighthouse keeper have decided she's the right match for their grieving father. Their uncle and assistant light keeper, Alex Bjorklund, has his own feelings for Tessa. As the two brothers begin competing for her hand, Tessa increasingly feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2016
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0764212397
ISBN-13: 9780764212390
Series: Beacons of Hope

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Author Bio

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.com.

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  1. NY
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great Read!!!!
    October 2, 2016
    melz
    NY
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Undaunted Hope is Book 3 in Jody Hedlunds Beacons of Hope series. Undaunted Hope is the story of Tessa Taylor, who ventures from her hometown to Eagle Harbor, Michigan to take a position as a schoolteacher. Tessa Taylors fresh start is beset by many challenges. The chief clerk of Cole Mine, is calculating, cruel, and tries every chance he can to compromise Tessa. However, for every dark cloud (or character) there are those that are endearing and Jody Hedlund depicts a few. One such character is Alex Bjorklund. Upon their first meeting, it is clear Alex and Tessa have an unrivaled chemistry (you will definitely find yourself rooting for these two throughout the story). Other endearing characters are Ingrid and Gunnar Bjorklund, Alexs niece and nephew.

    Overall, this is a memorable novel. While this book is part of a series, I feel that it works as a standalone book. I really enjoyed the authors style of writing; I was thoroughly involved in the town of Eagle Harbor. I would recommend that you check this book and author out.

    Happy Reading!

    Note: I have received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
  2. Grand Junction, CO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    ...Disappointing Finish to a Beautiful Series.
    July 16, 2016
    Kayla
    Grand Junction, CO
    Age: 18-24
    Gender: female
    Quality: 3
    Value: 3
    Meets Expectations: 2
    I recently finished reading the third and final installment of Jody Hedlund's "Beacon of Hope" series Undaunted Hope. If you've been following my blog, you'll notice a theme. I am a huge fan of Ms. Hedlund's books. Time and again she impresses me with fresh stories, real characters, rich history and ALWAYS the Gospel message.

    "Undaunted Hope" was no exception and I enjoyed reading this series finale. Ms. Hedlund took on a lot of material in this story, and I felt the first half of the book was progressing well. However, about the halfway point, I was surprised that I was actually disappointed. There were many themes, issues and troubles that were going on all at once with the characters, and it got quite overwhelming. I feel Ms. Hedlund with this book, lost a bit of her storytelling magic. The climactic moments of the story, all the way through the resolution and the ending felt forced to me, and unresolved.

    This was one of those difficult yet compelling books that I couldn't put down, in spite of of my feelings about the ending. Ms. Hedlund is not afraid to address very disturbing issues that we not only find across the pages of history, but also in our world today. It is one of the reasons I love her books so much. She never sugar coats the reality of sin in our lives and our world. "Undaunted Hope" is a story that deals with emotional turmoil, sacrifice, human will, and finding courage to stand for what is good in spite of the evil and darkness in the world....no matter the consequences.

    What's more, the author confronts some very distressing themes. She masterfully deals with hopelessness, domestic and sexual violence . (Side note: for the adult nature of some of these situations, I would not recommend this book to readers under 18). The story is far more complex than what the synopsis suggests. At times, I was taken aback by the extent of the content in a Christian novel. So often in books of today in the "Christian" genre are just too "safe" ...too much like a "Hallmark" movie. While there is nothing wrong with Hallmark, I have grown to appreciate how Ms. Hedlund is not afraid to explore and write about such dark themes.

    Probably the most bitter and troublesome theme of this book was the villain, Mr. Percival Updegraff. Not only is the man a bully, and a tyrant in how he runs the coal mining town of Eagle Harbor, but he is a sexual predator. Ms. Hedlund alludes to several instances where the villain had threatened and forced himself on the women of the community. This was very hard to read, but, is most certainly a problem we face in our world today. This issue has not gone away or improved with time. The heroine, Tessa, has to deal with this man's advances, and at one point she is confronted with a choice. To cave in to Percival's demands to save the man she loves, or refuse him; which would bring deadly consequences. Hedlund does not (thankfully) go into graphic detail in these moments, but gives readers enough to know the extent of what is happening. I support authors taking a stand against difficult social issues and being brave enough to write about them. This made me appreciate the story even more. It was a perfect portrayal of the pain and anguish women who fall victim to sexual assault are left to endure and overcome. Thankfully, Ms. Hedlund shows how God can heal in spite of terrible situations.

    As always, Ms. Hedlund handles these themes delicately and expertly. It brought the plot to a point where I thought: How can there be any way out of this overwhelming mess?

    How often do we get to a place of utter hopelessness in our own lives? In our human nature we are prone to trying to take care of our troubles in our own strength, but at some point in our life we will get to a place where all we can do is look up toward God and cry out to Him. The author gets the reader to this point in the pages of this story. She builds the connection to the characters, and their pain becomes the reader's. The story forced me to look at the difficulties in my own life, and confront them head on. It has forced me to call into question whether I have really given my fears, my own sense of hopelessness over to Him to heal and take care of. Ms. Hedlund brought the characters of the story, Tessa and Alex, to a place so deep and dark, they had no choice but to cry out to God for help to face their fears. They had to come to a place of surrender, where they acknowledged they'd been doing everything (even though intentions and actions were good) in their own power. They had to lay it all at God's feet, with no guarantee with how He would intercede. They had to trust that He is good, and capable to handle each difficulty. How true this is in our own lives!

    While Undaunted Hope was unsettling and hard to read at times, I appreciated the themes Ms. Hedlund took on. Some of the resolution of the story felt lacking to me toward the end however. It felt rushed, and almost too "nice and neat." There were also a lot of inconsistencies plot-wise in the story. I was a little shocked that editors did not correct these issues prior to publishing, honestly!

    For example: at the very start of the story there is initial conflict when Tessa arrives to accept the position as the new teacher, the town is surprised that she is a woman. She is bullied and told to leave at first, until the matter is cleared up. On page 28, Percival Updegraff tells Tessa "You have to realize we have never had a female teacher at our school." However, pages later we learn that Tessa had signed a contract with stipulations that have an important impact on the plot of the story. Starting on page 48 Ms. Hedlund outlines the contract that teachers will not marry or keep company with a man. Tessa's thoughts go on to say, "The rules weren't new. They were standard, the same she'd had...as an assistant teacher." This seems contradictory to me. If the people of Eagle Harbor had never had a female teacher before, it seems odd that the contract would take this stance specifically singling out women. I know that historically it was standard for women teachers to remain single, but the way it was set up in the story felt a little off to me. If the author had established that perhaps Mr. Updegraff amended the contract to befit a woman in the position then it would have been more clear. But that is never established and since an overarching theme of the story is that Tessa fights her feelings for Alex because she can't marry AND be a teacher this needed to be more solidly plotted out. To me there was just some missing information to make this part of the story flow.

    Another inconsistency: Early in the story, Ms. Hedlund establishes that the Bjorklund brothers, Alex and Michael, are unable to read and write, having never learned. On page 75 "Alex had long ago stopped caring about the fact that he'd never had but a rudimentary education, enough that he could do a few sums, read what he needed to, and sign his name." One of the characters says that Michael and Alex "never read to them, because they don't know how." (pg 74). This is another key theme that carries all the way through to the end of the book. Because of his lack of education Alex feels inadequate and unworthy of someone like Tessa. It's actually an area of insecurity for him, and we see the couple discuss this issue more than once. Its an area of contention between them, as Tessa feels everyone deserves an education, a "chance to better themselves." The brothers are seen to take some evening classes and private tutoring with Tessa, but in Alex's case, I get the impression that due to circumstances, he is unable to continue classes. Ms. Hedlund doesn't really tell the reader what progress the brothers made in their learning in the few classes they are able to take, but the way it reads to me, it wouldn't be enough to make them literate. Later in the story, Ms. Hedlund has Alex writing and exchanging secret messages with Tessa, and I couldn't help but do a double take. I was thinking: How is he able to write all of a sudden when he hasn't been taking classes? If there is an explanation for this, unfortunately, Ms. Hedlund forgot to tell the reader.

    I was very disappointed with these blatant inconsistencies. I could rationalize in my own mind some believability by filling in the blanks on my own....but for the sake of plot, the author should have set up the credibility better. She should have explained that Alex could write by the end of the story. Or at the very least say that the messages were crude, simply written with words he'd learned in lessons. Or someone else could have written the message for him. Something. I was cringing the whole second half of the book because pieces just were not falling into place they way Ms. Hedlund is known for in previous works.

    To close this review, I will recap. I love Jody Hedlund's books. I love how she takes difficult issues and shines light on darkness through Biblical application. She never "waters-down" truth or shies away from confronting disturbing issues. This book was good, but not my favorite, and not Ms. Hedlund's best, in my opinion. The plot fell short in the end, and there was great potential. The story fell flat. I feel Ms. Hedlund had too much she was trying to accomplish, too many different angles, and they just didn't come together in the end.

    All in all (I think this is the longest review I have ever written) I would still recommend this book and this series to readers. It does capture the world of lighthouse workers in the 1800's beautifully and I did enjoy the series. (Book 2 was the best in my opinion).

    I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
  3. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    Review from Rambles of a SAHM
    June 9, 2016
    Fitzysmom
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Undaunted Hope is the third book in the Beacons of Hope series and it reacquaints us with Tessa Taylor and introduces us to another lighthouse on the Michigan shores.

    Interestingly enough Tessa isn't going to Eagle Harbor to work in the lighthouse. In fact she wants nothing to do with the lighthouse. The thought only brings up bad memories that she is determined to run away from. Instead she has signed on to be the local teacher.

    Percival Updegraff is the superintendent and chief mine clerk and he is not at all pleased to have a female teacher show up. The man is just wicked but Tessa has set her mind to proving she's worthy of the position.

    Then there's the Bjorklund brothers. One is a grieving widow and the other is a bachelor. Both are interested in Tessa. And therein lies the problem.

    As with all of Hedlund's novels the story is multi-layered. The surface story is that of a romance blooming where it seems impossible. But the real heart of the story lies deeper. In it you get to explore how running away from a problem doesn't usually make the problem go away. Through Tessa we get to see how facing the situation and dealing with it will allow you to heal and move on.

    The dynamics between the two Bjorklund brothers was also a lesson worth watching unfold. The love of a sibling goes deep and sometimes sacrifices are made that aren't necessarily in the best interest of either party.

    I've enjoyed this series and look forward to the next book. While the storyline has a common thread that weaves throughout the books they can be read as stand alone novels. But, if you plan to read them all you really should read them in order so you won't have plot spoilers creep up on you!

    I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
  4. Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Never Give Up
    March 29, 2016
    GrandaddyA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This was another inspiring story of good overcoming evil in the Beacons of Hope series. I loved the book for the amazing strength Tessa displayed as she sought to distance herself from the tainted reputation she brought on herself in the previous book. I admired Alex and his willingness to give so freely to his older brother, Michael, and Michaels two children. That kind of brotherly love and self-sacrificing is seldom, if ever, seen in the time in which we live. The author shares in the Authors Note at the back of the book about her extensive research of the historical records from Eagle Harbor and the surrounding area. She has woven together historical facts to create fictional characters to tell an intriguing story of a young school teacher, a light keeper and his assistant, the chief clerk of Cole Mine, and the people of Eagle Harbor. This is a great read for lovers of history, action, suspense, romance, and faith-based values. I recommend it for your reading pleasure. I won this book in a giveaway by the author. This is my honest review.
  5. Canada
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Captivating read
    March 3, 2016
    KavR
    Canada
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Well hello, Alex Bjorkhund, my name is Kav and I fell in love with you on page 20 (she confesses, blushing furiously.) Brash, determined, a tease and a flirt with a great sense of humour that matches Tessa's. Phew! Is that steam rising off the pages? Because whenever Tessa and Alex are in the same scene sparks do fly.

    Alas Tessa is intent on a teaching career and not romance -- especially with a lighthouse keeper. She comes from a lighthouse keeping family and the tragic memories still haunt her. She hates the isolation, the danger and the 24/7 commitment. But try telling that to Alex. My, but that man knows what he wants and he isn't afraid to go after it. Cue fainting couch. Thud.

    Naturally, the course of true love never runs smooth and Tessa finds herself the recipient of two enamoured suitors...not to mention the unwelcome advances of a truly diabolical villain. Shudder. And if all that wasn't enough to complicate her life, Tessa soon discovers that there's something not right about this small mining town she has come to call home. It takes all her courage and ingenuity to stand up to the sinister force that holds the town captive. In the end, Tessa becomes the catalyst for change in the entire community.

    Captivating from cover to cover.
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