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
Hedlund's latest story reeled me in from the start. I fell hard and fast for Connell. Wow! Talk about a hero that is sigh-worthy. This hunky, hardworking, principled logger earned some serious hero points. The more I got to know him, the better I liked him. I enjoyed watching him deal with Lily as she challenges everything he stands for.
Lily is one feisty heroine. There are times her impulsiveness gets her in trouble, but I admire her determination. In an effort to save her sister, she's willing to take on anyone, even the vilest of villains. Her major problem is that she doesn't know how to accept help, which puts her very life in danger at times. Learning to lean on others and follow the Lord's leading isn't easy for Lily, but learn her lesson she does-eventually.
The historical romance fan in me loved Hedlunds's depiction of life in the lumber camps of Michigan. I was there, shivering with those out in the bitter cold, hearing the ring of axes echoing through the forest, and inhaling the fresh scent of recently felled white pine. Hedlund's handling of the "white slavery" prevalent in the lumber towns of the time was tasteful and added an authenticity to the story that tugged on my heart.
Hedlund is known for writing fast-paced, action-packed stories. Unending Devotion is certainly that. The story takes off in the first chapter, and the pace just picks up from there. Readers be warned: you could lose sleep over this one. I had the hardest time putting the book down. It's that good.
If you like gripping tales with strong characters that keep you glued to the pages, then Unending Devotion is a story for you. Note that due to the thematic elements of the story, it might not be appropriate for young teens.
Bestselling author Judy Hedlund has written a new novel titled Unending Devotion. Set in central Michigan in 1883, the reader sees what life was like in a lumber camp. Connell McCormick is in charge of the logging camp in the town of Harrison for his father. As long as his shanty boys show up for work each day, he is satisfied. He wants to prove his worth to his father. What the loggers do at the saloons on their off hours is none of his business. When Lily Young shows up in town looking for her sister, Connell knows he is in trouble. Lily isn't afraid of standing up for what is right. She will do anything to find her sister and help other girls, even if it means taking on villian James Carr who forces young women to work for his establishment. No one has ever stood up to him before, but that doesn't stop Lily! Connell is torn between doing what he knows is right and being a success for his father. And his attraction for Lily is growing stronger everyday!
I have read 2 other books by Hedlund before and I love how they are about true people and events in history. Although the book started out kind of slow for me, I soon got into it and enjoyed seeing Lily's fighting spirit. Connell had all kinds of pressure to deal with from family, co-workers and "his girl". I recommend this novel if you like this time period in history. There is lots of action! Thanks Bethany House Publishers for sending me a free copy to review.
"Unending Devotion" by Jody Hedlund is a totally unexpected, unique read. Disturbing at times, this historical fiction novel takes its readers to a moment in history rarely covered in this genre. I greatly appreciated the new information about the development of America's logging industry, now greatly reformed compared to what it was back then!
At the beginning of this story, Lily Young, a woman who grew up as an orphan, travelling from caregiver to caregiver with her sister, is travelling through the logging camps as a photographer's assistant. Oren, the widowed photographer, is more father than employer and is fiercely protective of Lily. Lily gives him plenty of challenges, though, as she boldly goes wherever she feels she needs to go in her search for Daisy, the sister she raised, now a runaway living quite perilously. Lily plans to rescue her from the life that has now imprisoned her and doesn't hesitate to rescue many other young women along the way.
Connell McCormick, the son of a logging baron, seeks only to please his demanding and often unreasonable father--until he meets Lily, who challenges him to consider how his father's business is impacting people's lives. He'll be challenged to choose: his father or his conscience and his heart.
Control is the theme woven throughout this read. Is God in control? Or does He need our help? Are we at the mercy of our circumstances? Or are there positive ways to work for change? As the story unfolds, Lily and Connell discover the answers they need.
Bethany House Publishers sent a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review. I was thankful for the insights I found in this story.
Desperate situations call for desperate measures in the novel, Unending Devotion, by Jody Hedlund. The author takes the reader captive, in her return to the logging towns of Northern Michigan in the late 19th Century. Basing her work on actual circumstances and people, she gives the reader a look back, painting vividly a picture of living one might never have imagined existed.
Lily, the main character in Unending Devotion, finds herself on a quest to fulfill a promise to her deceased parents; caring for her younger sister. Circumstances have set her sister on the path of self-degradation, in the brothels, often considered a necessity for the shanty boys in logging towns. Assistant to a photographer, visiting the various towns to photograph the workers, Lily makes diligent search to find her sister. Along the way, throwing caution to the wind, it has become her personal mission to help rescue as many other girls as she possibly can.
Circumstances come to a head in the town of Harrison. It seems that Lily has underestimated the deep corruption and evil that she is up against. However, not everyone in the logging towns is corrupt. Rescued by Connell McCormick, who later becomes very much involved in keeping her safe, Lily has to learn that her hastiness often leads to trouble. The question is, will she be able to keep herself in check when she learns that her sister might be nearer than she ever imagined?
Without telling you the entire story line or the ending, I would highly recommend you find a copy of this book for yourself. It is definitely a read you will not want to set down, even past your bedtime. I enjoy historical Christian fiction and was not disappointed by this author. In fact, I really want to read more of her work!
Some of the things I appreciated about this novel were the well developed characters, the descriptions used to take you back to the logging towns, the story line, the dialogs, and the fact that the author was able to give factual information in a way that was not crossing any boundaries or being too explicit.
I truly believe that when you finish reading the book, you will have a new understand of situations that still exist in the 21st Century. Unending Devotion shows you the sacrifices men and women are willing to make, even in the face of danger, to stand against evil. It was an excellent read.