Friday, July 4, 2014

Jody Hedlund's "Captured by Love" - a captivating tale from the War of 1812

Cover Art
 Appropriate for an Independence Day post, given that it is set in the second war for America's freedom, Jody Hedlund's novel explores the effects of the War of 1812 on the people of Mackinac Island, a strategic position for the fur trade where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet.  Malnourished and oppressed by both her stepfather and the British occupiers, Angelique Mackenzie tries to slip by under the radar, taking care of the blind mother of her fiance and avoiding being married off by her stepfather.  Voyageur Pierre Durant returns to the island after a five-year absence and discovers his suddenly grown-up childhood friend Angelique is engaged to his younger brother - a man he believes is all wrong for her.  Pierre is there to make amends with his family, but he is highly attracted to his brother's fiancee, plus treading a fine line with having previously spied for the British and now spying for the Americans.  With friends on both sides of the war and battle coming closer every day, what will Pierre choose - America or Britain?  To woo Angelique, or to honor his brother?

Since the War of 1812 is frequently lost in the shadow of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, it is fun to learn more about this nearly forgotten part of America's history.  Hedlund highlights the fact that the Great Lakes were a major theatre of the war, and Mackinac Island was a highly desired post given its importance in the booming fur trade.  Though her main characters are fictional, she sticks closely to history in describing the conditions on the island and the battle that ensued over it. 

Like in her novel Rebellious Heart, which takes place in the years leading up to the American Revolution, Hedlund places great emphasis on loyalty.  However, the author looks at it from a different angle in this story.  Pierre, before turning to Christ, sold information to the British, and then later spied for the Americans.  Since turning to Christ, he is convicted over his spying and lying, as while his true loyalties are with the Americans, he has friends among the British.  With his feet in both fires, he cannot be completely true to either.  Similarly, Angelique has adored Pierre since childhood, but with Pierre gone for so long, Jean steps in and eventually convinces her to marry him.  Then while Jean is away fighting for the Americans and Pierre returns, Angelique's feelings for him also return, though she is still promised to Jean.  Both Pierre and Angelique end up playing both sides, unintentional though it may be.  The bible is clear, though, that one cannot serve two masters, and at some point one must make a choice (and ideally choose to do what is right.)

Like in her other novels, Hedlund excels at creating romantic tension, though I was a little concerned in this book, given that Angelique is promised to another.  Love triangles are not really my thing - someone always gets hurt - but it is tastefully done, and it ties in well with Angelique's struggle to overcome her mother and sister's poor choices.  I like that there is a strong theme of overcoming family curses for both Angelique and Pierre - that both strive to not fall into the same temptations and vices as their parents.  I have seen many children making the same mistakes as their parents, and I know many who are (and have to be) vigilant to avoid the same problems.  This book encourages one to keep striving, even when one falls back into sin, because we can overcome by the blood of the Lamb. 

A well-researched, fast-paced novel - 5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free e-copy of the novel for an honest review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.

As a side note, though this is technically the third book of a series, it is first chronologically, and each book is completely stand-alone - there are no character cross-overs.

Michigan Brides Collection (in order chronologically, not by publishing date)
1. Captured by Love
2. Unending Devotion
3. A Noble Groom

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