Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

Undaunted Hope is Jody Hedlund’s third book in her Beacons of Hope series. Set in the upper peninsula of Michigan Undaunted Hope introduces us to Tessa, a new school teacher who arrives in Eagle Harbor to teach school in a remote mining community. While Tessa’s new adventure helps her escape her past for a time, soon she realizes that although she is miles away from her past, her mistakes and fears have followed her in powerful way. With the help of the lightkeeper’s family, Tessa finds hope and healing and a community of people who truly care about her.

I found this novel of Hedlund’s intense and authentic. Tessa and Alex are strong, complex characters that create a powerful story of hope and desire. Percival Updegraff is the perfect villain to twist up the plot. And the other supporting characters create a story of a community that knows how to endure, but only passively. I like how even though Tessa is only one woman, she brings hope to a community that needs hope and courage, and she is willing to fight relentlessly to share that hope, even when her hope seems gone.

While somewhat difficult to read about, the hardships that Tessa faced with the other characters mirrored well the hardships of remote mining communities who struggled to survive in harsh natural conditions and under harsher, despotic bosses. With unexpected plot twists and a lot of dirt and cold, Hedlund draws readers into a historical reality that is worth exploring and understanding.

While I wouldn’t call Undaunted Hope relaxing to read, it was definitely unforgettable. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund for my candid review.

A Fortunate Exile by Heather B. Moore

A Fortunate Exile is an engaging historical romance novella from USA Today Bestselling Author Heather B. Moore. From the very beginning, author Heather B. Moore draws us quickly into the poor choices of main character Lila Townsend who has made headlines in the New York society pages for scandal. Desperate to save face, Lila’s father sends her to live with his miserly and somewhat mean sister Eugenia to teach Lila a lesson and let the scandal blow over.

With strong characters, wrong choices, and unexpected surprises, Moore creates a story of consequences and acceptance, but also of hope, courage, and redemption. I thought the depth of character development was impressive given the length of the novella. This novella was fast and entertaining to read. I highly recommend it.  Heather B. Moore gave me a complimentary copy of A Fortunate Exile by Heather B. Moore for my candid review.

Twelve Days in December by Michele Paige Holmes

The Christmas novella Twelve Days in December by Michele Paige Holmes was a quick, touching story to read. Though a bit less intense that some of her other novels, Twelve Days in December tells the story of Charlotte, the widowed sister of Marsali, who last minute decides to marry Mr. Vancer when Marsali learns her husband Christopher survived the shipwreck. Author Michele Paige Holmes takes several of the characters from her novel Marrying Christopher, and gives us a delightful sequel in this novella.

When Marsali chooses not to marry Mr. Vancer, Charlotte sees an opportunity to procure a safe home for her and her small son with a kind man. Not expecting love after the loss of her first husband, Charlotte nevertheless sees the genuine kindness of Mr. Vancer. While pursuing her own needs, Charlotte realizes that she will be helping Mr. Vancer claim his inheritance. So with a mutually beneficial arrangement Charlotte dresses in Marsali’s wedding gown and weds Mr. Vancer.

To me, this story of Charlotte and Mr. Vancer was a peaceful, soothing story of how two strangers seeking to help each other can find happiness. Michele Paige Holmes is a gifted writer who shows us how being kind to others in difficult circumstances can bring happiness, contentment, and unanticipated joy.

This was a delightful novella to read. Heather Moore gave me a complimentary copy of Twelve Days in December by Michele Paige Holmes for my candid review.

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden has written another intriguing historical novel introducing us to complex characters and the interesting beginning of the weather bureau in the United States. With an abandoned estate, plenty of myths, and a touch of miracles, Camden introduces us to a captivating story of loss and renewal, hope and healing in her newest novel Until the Dawn.

Sophie van Riijn, is a young woman was an astute mind, a dream, and a passion for cooking. To satiate her scientific interests, Sophie sets up a weather station on the roof of the nearby abandoned Dierenpark estate and collects daily weather reports for the newly established weather bureau. When the owners of Dierenpark arrive unexpectedly, Sophie is caught trespassing in her scientific endeavors. With wit and stubbornness Sophie negotiates to continue operating her weather station while working tirelessly to preserve Dierenpark from destruction.

I loved the characters in Until the Dawn. They were so real, so vulnerable, and so like everyone. I especially liked how although Sophie exudes hopefulness and kindness, she still feels authentic as we discover her story. Quentin was infuriating, yet so vulnerable. Even the supporting characters rallied to make a complex and believable story surrounding this historical period.

I really enjoyed reading Until the Dawn and look forward to more books by Elizabeth Camden. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden for my candid review.