Review: Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

20665078A Perfect Blend of History and Romance, with a Whisper of Mystery
All she’s ever wanted was a home. But stranded at Presque Isle port after their steamboat sank, Emma Chambers and her brother, Ryan, couldn’t be farther away from security. While Ryan at least can find work, Emma can’t even find a place to stay. An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper, who recently lost his wife and is struggling to raise his young son, arrives in town. A traveling preacher believes they might be the answer to each others’ problems, and after a hasty marriage, Emma is headed back to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger.
But nothing in her wandering life has prepared her for suddenly being asked to raise a child and keep a house. Struggling at every turn, Emma also suspects Patrick may be keeping something hidden from her. In town she hears whispers about strange circumstances surrounding his previous wife’s death, and it seems as though Emma’s answered prayer for a home and family may actually be something much more dangerous.

PUBLISHER: Bethany House Publishers

PAGES: 348

~*~*~*~*~

A huge thanks to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review. All the opinions expressed are my own.

This novel blew me out of the water! I’ve never read a book by Jody Hedlund before, but I will be reading more of her works from now on. What a great mix of suspense, mystery, and romance!

After pirates attack her and her brother’s ship, Emma finds herself stranded on Presque Isle. She reluctantly agrees to a marriage of convenience to the handsome, yet reserved, Patrick Garraty, when she realizes she has no place to stay and no means of supporting herself in the small, unpopulated town. Everything Emma desires–a home, a family, love–is given to her, but is everything what it seems? As she grows in her relationship to the kind-hearted Patrick, she discovers that the lighthouse keeper is keeping secrets that may threaten her hopeful future.

MORAL RATING:

PG: Kissing, hinting at sex in a marriage context (remember, this is Christian fiction)

THE GOOD:

Apparently, Jody Hedlund is a recognizable and well-admired author in the Christian fiction genre. I’ve never heard of her or read any of her works before, but I think she deserves all the acclaim she receives.

First of all, the plot was fast-paced and left me guessing. The last time I read a Christian fiction novel that left me completely surprised with the plot twists was, well, never. I already expected to figure out the ending in the first 100 pages, so it was quite a lovely surprise to find out that I knew absolutely nothing. I brought this book with me everywhere while I was reading it (the scratch marks and page indentations tell all) because I couldn’t bear to be left in suspense.

The characters were admirable and real. Hedlund wrote very realistic characters with realistic problems and worries. I didn’t find any holes in the characters of Emma or Patrick. I was rooting for everything to work out well in the end for both of them. Patrick–a man who would do anything to escape his sinful past–was emotionally compelling and relatable. I loved watching his character arc throughout the novel. While he understood God’s forgiveness, he was still trying to forgive himself for past iniquities. Emma’s understanding and caring behavior pushed him to come out of his shell and free himself up from the burden of sin that he carried constantly. I simply love, love, love this duo. Also, Josiah was an adorable, cute little kid.

There was such a peaceful, tender feel to this whole novel. I started it early December (ahem, when I was supposed to be studying for finals) and it put me in a very lovely mood. There’s nothing like a comfortable read when you should be stressing out of your mind.

This novel kept me sane–I kid you not.

THE BAD:

I had absolutely no problems with this novel, strangely enough. I haven’t read a piece of Christian fiction this compelling in some time.

SOUNDTRACK:

NEEDTOBREATHE is a personal favorite of mine and this song, Lay ‘Em Down, conveys the same themes of Hedlund’s novel. Forgiveness is found in Christ.

MY VERDICT:

Overall, I’d give this one 5/5! What a fun, clean romance with plenty of mystery! I’d recommend this to anyone, honestly. There were Christian themes, but nothing seemed preach-y or overdone. I’ll be reading more of Jody Hedlund’s novels in the future.

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