The first book of Jody Hedlund's new series, Love Unexpected is a tempestuous introduction to the Great Lakes and the lightkeepers that watch over them. Stranded in a remote village on the Michigan shore after a pirate attack, Emma Chambers jumps at the chance to settle into a ready-made family with Patrick Garraty, a very recent widower and lightkeeper of the Presque Isle lighthouse, who desperately needs a wife to watch his son. Their marriage of convenience benefits them both, and his kindness and consideration warms Emma's heart, but rumors of Patrick's past - and his wife's suspicious death - make Emma wonder if she didn't make a grave error in marrying him after all . . .
How does someone with no real experience with children learn to be a mother to a toddler? With a great many trials and tribulations, that's for sure. Children, no matter how sweet and cute and precocious, still need discipline and time for adjustment. I thought the author did a great job working through that struggle, especially in depicting the helpless feeling Emma has when Josiah throws a tantrum or won't do what she wants. It's amazing (but true!) how a child can make an adult feel so inept and powerless!
This tale really confronts the problem of a sinner, saved by grace, whose past still haunts him. Patrick made a lot of foolish choices in his youth, and while he has completely turned back from that lifestyle, he knows that most people, if they knew what he had done, would utterly reject him. As a society, we can have such a hard time believing that person has really changed. When we hear of the awful things they did in their past, we can be so quick to judge and believe the worst, even when their actions today tell a completely different story.
Living near the Great Lakes myself, I had known that there were pirates on the lakes, and it was fun to read a book about them. I didn't realize until I read the author's note in the end that Emma and Patrick are based on a real couple that manned the Presque Isle lighthouse, which, like always, fascinated me - the more closely a story is based on real people and events, the more I love it. As with previous novels, Hedlund does a good job exploring the marriage of convenience, but it follows a different route to love. Wrought with her characteristic tension, the author writes a complex love story with a few surprises in the end. 4.5 stars
Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for providing an e-copy for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
I would also highly recommend reading To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer, another wonderful novel that touches on similar themes of the old life versus the new and overcoming the stigma of the past.
Beacons of Hope
0.5. "Out of the Storm"
1. Love Unexpected
2. Hearts Made Whole
3. Undaunted Hope