At Bluebonnet Lake: A Novel (Texas Crossroads #1) by Amanda Cabot ~Review~

At Bluebonnet Lake (Texas Crossroads 1) by Amanda Cabot

At Bluebonnet Lake

Rainbow’s End seems destined to become a place of meetings, of life-long changes and sudden new directions. In essence, the old broken down resort that’s seen better days, was the place many came to ponder the crossroads they faced. In this book, we meet Roy, Sally, Kate and Greg. Their quandaries and decisions are what makes this contemporary romance a rewarding read.

Greg Vange’s childhood was dominated by his father’s disappointment in him. Greg never cared for sports as his father had. It seemed he didn’t possess the coveted sports gene whatsoever, and his dad was vocal about his shortcomings. But Greg was intelligent, loved school, and buried himself in computer technology. So it was no wonder when he finished his education that he started a business and found a lucrative niche for the software he designed. After dedicating fifteen years of his life to perfecting his brainchild, he suddenly realized one day that the world had passed him by. In a move that surprised his friends, he sold his business for a tidy profit and became free to do as he pleased. He ended up at Rainbow’s End to contemplate the next step. He wanted to follow God’s leading which prompted him to leave California and head for the Texas hill country.

At Bluebonnet Lake quote1

Kate Sherwood took a month’s vacation to travel to a resort in Texas with her grandmother Sally, who remembered a trip to Rainbow’s End with her husband Larry, years ago. She wanted to re-live some of those precious memories now that she and Kate were all the family they had. Kate loved her grandmother for good reason. When Kate was very young her parents died. Grandma Sally and Grandpa Larry took her in and raised her. It wasn’t much of a sacrifice to take time off work to spend time with her grandmother, especially when there were hints that she was experiencing some heart problems. But looking around, Kate realized this business was on its last legs. It was perilously close to shutting its doors. She was disappointed, although judging by the stars in her eyes, Sally hardly noticed. She was remembering this resort in her mind’s eye as she saw it in the past.

Roy Gordon was a widower from the town of Dupree, just three miles from Rainbow’s End. He came over to take some of his meals at the Inn. Carmen’s superb cooking was worth the trip. In the past several weeks he and Greg had formed a bond of friendship. Seated at the single table in the dining room was Kate and her grandmother. It wasn’t long before Roy paired up with Sally, and Greg paired up with Kate. Both men were intrigued.

One of the factors I loved about this book was the vivid descriptions of the surrounding countryside and Bluebonnet Lake. I could easily imagine myself vacationing in the area. The author employed descriptive terms that conveyed well the peace and tranquility of the views. Looking through Kate’s eyes, I could see the potential of Rainbow’s End as she began to see it. She was a visionary for the advertising firm she worked for. She had the ability to find hidden potential for her clients’ businesses as part of her work creating effective ads for them. It was only natural that she would see unique possibilities for the failing resort.

At Bluebonnet Lake quote2

Another thing I liked was the double feature: two romances for the price of one. Both romances were reminders that we can experience love regardless of our age. I especially noticed how the sweet relationships fit the setting so well. A heavily conflicted relationship would not have matched the tranquility of the location. Of course there were some barriers both couples needed to overcome before their romance could grow, but the obstacles were not formidable. Kate and Greg, the main characters, needed some closure from past issues before they could move forward as a couple. These issues created light tension between them in spite of their attraction to each other. But the resolution was satisfying.

The third element of the plot I enjoyed was the undercurrent of faith in their lives. The author writes it as a natural part of each character’s personality. God’s ways were important to the four friends we grow to care for in the story. Faith was as normal as breathing. It was natural for them to read their Bibles and pray together. Reading this book, we see faith in action rather than something to preach about. God was real to them, and their comforter and source of wisdom.

The author plans to make this book the first in a series. The next book is scheduled to be released in the early months of 2015. Rainbow’s End is the setting once more for the next adventure. I’m looking forward to reading them. For more information you can go to the author’s website.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Netgalley on behalf of Revell (a division of Baker Publishing). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Samuel Rutherford: Lover of Christ by Richard M. Hannula ~Review~

Samuel Rutherford: Lover of Christ by Richard M. Hannula

Samuel Rutherford

About the series:

Richard Hannula’s book on Samuel Rutherford is part of EP Books’ series called Bitesize Biographies. What I appreciate about this series is how the authors try to give the reader a true taste of the featured man or woman’s personality. In a short amount of space, we get to know the hero/ine of faith without the excessive gilding or glossing over often found in historical accounts. Hannula has accomplished this kind of snapshot for Samuel Rutherford.

About the book:

Samuel Rutherford quote1

Samuel Rutherford was a man deeply in love with his Lord and King, Jesus Christ. He became well known for his personal love for his flock through his letters to them during his absences, and through his letters to suffering church leaders throughout decades of conflict and persecution. He lived in an era when the Protestant Reformation was establishing a foothold in Britain. Under the influence of John Knox, the Scottish Reformation broke the hold of the Papacy in 1560 AD. They were still struggling with the royal heads of Scotland and England nearly a century later. Rutherford was swept up in the ensuing conflicts most of his adult life when he would rather quietly tend his congregation where God placed him. His involvement with church and governmental affairs was reluctant.

One term a reader should become acquainted with when reading this book is presbyterianism. This is a branch of Reformed Protestantism which traces its origins back to the British Isles. Rather than a set of religious beliefs, the term refers to a type of church government. The policy setting, ruling body is comprised of representative assemblies of elders, called presbyteries. Members and ministers all have equal representation. Many Reformed churches are governed this way, but when the word presbyterian is capitalized, it usually refers to those churches from Reformation era Scotland, England and Ireland. Included in this time frame is King James VI, his son King Charles I, and his son, King Charles II and the civil war era. In Samuel Rutherford’s adult years, he became entangled in the affairs of the Scottish Kirk and the monarchies.

Samuel Rutherford quote2

The 138-page biography has an introduction which conveys a short background history of Rutherford’s involvement in the civil war era and how he became so well known. Chapter one tells us about his childhood and school years up to the time he earned his Master’s Degree in Humanities. At the same time, more of the history of Scotland’s struggle beginning with King James VI (in Scotland; in England he was King James I) is explained. One important fact to note is that Scotland’s Reformation period developed earlier and independently from England’s churches. Scotland was able to establish early on that no king or queen would rule in the church since Jesus Christ is King of His own body of believers. In England, changes in the church’s time of reformation was forced to filter through the monarchy and its bishops.

Samuel Rutherford quote3

In the second chapter, the author reveals Rutherford’s heart of service in his country parish in Anwoth. He loved his people and they loved him in return. While living in this hill country, he still kept track of the Kirk’s march toward reform and political happenings by corresponding with his friends and colleagues. He found time to write a couple of books–his contribution in the conflicts. By Chapter Three he had been banished to the city of Aberdeen, 200 miles to the north, because of some of these writings. He never held back from speaking his mind clearly. While he was not placed in confinement in the city, he was not allowed to leave or preach without permission from its appointed bishop. We learn Rutherford’s character when under disapproval and unable to teach and preach, he began to rain down blessings on his friends, fellow preachers and teachers, and educational colleagues through copious amounts of letters of encouragement.

Samuel Rutherford quote4

The rest of the nine chapters nearly read like an adventure novel. The Scottish people suffered while Charles I and Charles II foisted on them their will for church practices. The Scots pushed back to block their efforts, back and forth. During one of these attempts to thwart the King, Rutherford managed to sneak out of Aberdeen and return to his pastorate in Anwoth. He wasn’t there for long before the Reformed leaders assigned him to teach at St. Andrew’s University, where he’d have the opportunity to teach the next generation of pastors. He continued to write letters and books along with his teaching responsibilities. Altogether, he wrote two dozen books, but he was known for his letters. At the end of his life, a friend gathered up as many as he could find–over 400 of them–written over a period of about 35 years of ministry during some of Scotland’s most tumultuous years.

Samuel Rutherford quote5

My review:

After reading this book, I found it quite obvious why the US constitution, the Bill of Rights and other documents were written the way they were. I have an even greater appreciation of the system of checks and balances in this country–the executive, legislative and the judicial branches of government. Just by knowing about the conflict occurring in the short span of years this book refers to, Rutherford’s life becomes a dramatic object lesson testifying to the wisdom of our forefathers. My prayer is that many young people will read this book and grow to appreciate the events leading up to the United States’ fight for independence from England’s Charles III.

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

My second impression from reading this book is amazement at how many heroes of the faith God raised up during the sixty-year time frame of Rutherford’s life. It seems to me the greater the persecution against the Reformers, the greater number of leaders stepped forward to point people back to God’s Word. Have you ever wondered how you would handle persecution whether physically, professionally or socially? Reading between the lines in this book, we may guess– judging by whatever motivates us. The story of John Gordon’s defection and later confession to Samuel Rutherford on his death bed was a powerful example how many of us could falter from a stand we previously believed we were firmly grounded upon, especially when presented with the one incentive that could turn us.

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The third thing I appreciate about this book is how well the author wove the political strife with Samuel Rutherford’s personal story through the use of quotes from his many books, letters, diaries, documents and sermons. These excerpts reveal to the reader a clear picture of his feelings, impressions, attitudes, personality, devotion to Christ, and misgivings. He faltered and suffered from doubts. He never claimed to be perfect. He experienced mood shifts from elation to discouragement to depression. He didn’t deny his faults, he learned from them. He used his honest feelings to develop greater empathy for others. This humble attitude endeared him to many people, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, well known or obscure.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC) and EP Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Launch! Ebook Giveaway: Torn Asunder by Alana Terry

Torn Asunder by Alana Terry

Free Ebook Giveaway From Alana Terry



Torn Asunder is the upcoming release from award-winning Christian suspense novelist Alana Terry. You can pre-order Torn Asunder on amazon now for only 99 cents and have it delivered right to you when it’s released in December. As an added bonus, Alana, along with recording artist Cherie Norquay, is offering free downloads of one of the songs featured in Torn Asunder.

Synopsis: After graduating from the Secret Seminary, Hannah and Simon are ready to return to their homeland. Their training has equipped them to carry the gospel to a country ravaged by darkness and despair. If necessary, they’re even prepared to face the North Korean labor camps, but the hardest part of their mission isn’t the hunger, cold, and incessant danger. The hardest part is cutting off contact with one another.

In this world of spies, secret police, and informants, staying together might not just compromise their ministry. It could cost them both their lives.

A Christian romantic suspense from the author of The Beloved Daughter, which won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, The Book Club Network, and more.
Pre-order Torn Asunder for only 99 cents or enter the giveaway below! You can also sign up to get a free mp3 song download from Cherie Norquay, whose work is put out by Grammy-award-winning producer, Phil Naish, and whose lyrics helped inspire certain scenes in Torn Asunder. Click below or get her free song downloads here. (Several of her song lyrics also appear in the novel itself.)

You can also sign up below to help spread the word about Alana’s fundraiser to help rescue North Korean refugees on a modern-day underground railroad.

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Becoming Bea (The Courtships of Lancaster County #4) by Leslie Gould ~Review~

Becoming Bea by Leslie Gould

Becoming Bea

About the book:

This book is a character-driven, Amish romance at its best. If you have read other books in this series, you get to re-visit principal players from some of the other books as well as get to know the small close-knit community surrounding this story’s main characters, Bea and Ben.

Beatrice Zook was the youngest child in the family of sisters and brothers, step- brothers and in-laws. The next oldest sister, Molly, and her husband Leon lived in the same farmhouse with Bea and her Mamm, taking on the responsibility of making it productive again. Bea’s dat (father) had died only a few years earlier. It seemed to Bea that Molly had then stepped into dat’s shoes and become another parent to her. So it was no wonder that she began to feel the necessity of becoming more independent. Now that she had just turned 21, she was looking for employment outside her home, hopefully within their small community. Thanks to a friend of hers, she heard that Bob and Nan Miller had just given birth to triplets and were now bringing the babies home. They needed helpers. When Bea stepped in to help, the task seemed daunting at first, but soon she found her stride and began to enjoy the new experience.

Becoming Bea quote1

Bob Miller was a cabinet maker who employed several young men, including his son-in-law Pete, the twins who lived near Bea’s home (Martin and Mervin), the two sons of Bishop Eicher (Phillip and Don), and Ben Rupp. Ben and Bea had gone to school together; more accurately, they were always at the top of their class, the best spellers in the school, competitive with each other yet also being a challenge to the other to excel. They had become nearly best friends and the reason for each other’s love of learning. Their competitiveness cooled a bit after schooling was finished with the eighth grade. However, the year before, Ben began to court Bea formally. She was ecstatic until he suddenly stopped coming around without explaining the reason. Since then, she hasn’t trusted him or any other young man. If they did see each other, their exchanges were contentious, with a hint of bitterness on Bea’s part.

Becoming Bea quote2

Now that Bea was living with the Miller’s, she was surprised how crazy the household could get with three newborns, especially when they would get colicky. She worked together with Hope, Nan’s niece from New York, and they established some kind of routine. For the first time in her life, Bea was finding herself and blossoming into an attractive young woman. In fact, not only did she attract Ben’s attention again, but Don’s as well. The rivalry became serious over time while Bea and Ben’s relationship suffered several ups and downs. The reader wonders if it will work out at all. Would Bea choose Don instead?

My review:

The author, Leslie Gould, has created an entire cast of characters who have come alive for me. Hope befriended Bea as they worked together with the triplets. Then Hope fell in love with Martin, who worked for Bob in the cabinet shop. He was one of the twins that lived near Bea’s home. Martin was a good friend of Ben Rupp. Soon Martin and Hope were trying to play matchmaker to get Ben and Bea back together. Unfortunately, because of so many conflicts, their efforts failed. But during this upheaval, Bea’s personality was going through a metamorphosis, thanks to her new job and new friendships. Even her relationship with Molly began to change. At one point, Bea even stood up to Molly, who realized finally that her little sister was maturing. But of all the relationship challenges she faced, the most difficult was with Ben. When, in their on-again off-again courtship, he believed a lie perpetuated by Don and accused her falsely, Bea’s heart was crushed. This conflict was written so well that I couldn’t help but feel sick at heart with her.

Becoming Bea quote3

Besides all the relationship drama, I enjoyed Ms. Gould’s use of the competitive spelling bees as a metaphor that represented the young peoples’ struggles with immaturity and growth of character in the present stages of their lives. During their school years, it was for the most part a friendly form of competition–a setting up of standards. But there also existed a rivalry between them that could turn on a dime and become destructive if allowed. Both of them were wordsmiths with a love of learning; something beautiful could come of it, or it could become a stumbling block. Much of the consequences depended on how they handled their pride. Would selfishness grow out of it, or selflessness?

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The third thing I enjoyed about this book are the details the author uses to describe the introduction of triplets into the Miller household. The situation with preemies in a Plain household was intriguing, amazing and heart-warming. I was right there walking the halls in the middle of the night with Hope, Bea, Cate, Nan and Bob. I could feel the frustrations and the rewards of caring for such precious little ones. It brought back memories of my daughter when she had colic for nearly three months. It was unsettling, but still generates warm feelings when I think back.

The author created some heart-rending conflict, but the final resolution is satisfying to read. In fact, I read it over at least three times. It was one of the loveliest scenes I’ve ever read. If you enjoy Amish romances, you don’t want to miss this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House Publisher’s Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Thief of Glory: A Novel by Sigmund Brouwer ~Review~

Thief of Glory: A Novel by Sigmund Brouwer

Thief of Glory

About the book:

Of the books I’ve read from Sigmund Brouwer’s pen, Thief of Glory is my favorite. In his signature storytelling style, this work of historical fiction is reminiscent of a memoir, shared like a series of journal entries written in the first person from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy; it is a completely fictional account of one family’s nightmarish experience of interment in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. Yet the details are hauntingly real.

Thief of Glory quote2

The author uses the format of a story within a story. At the beginning, the reader becomes aware that this is a story told in reminiscence, looking back over 70 years. An old man of 81 sits in a jail cell waiting for his daughter to take him home. Her one desire, however, was for him to tell her his story, one he has never divulged to her, or anyone else, before. So in compliance, chapter one in the book is Journal #1. By the end of the book, we are brought up to the present, and to journal #35. Most of the chapters are told from the perspective of the 10-year-old Jeremiah Prins, a Dutch boy living on the Dutch East Indies (now known as Indonesia) with his family. It begins just before the Dutch capitulation to the Japanese.

Thief of Glory quote1

Jeremiah lived with his parents and siblings on the island of Java. His father was the schoolmaster of the Dutch colonists. His income allowed them to live prosperously in their little village, with servants from the community. Jeremiah’s blended family had two sets of siblings. There were three older half-brothers and his birth siblings–twin sisters and a little brother. Jeremiah was the eldest of his birth family. His lovely mother suffered from a mental illness where she frequently went into a dark phase of isolation. Often she was emotionally inaccessible. Jeremiah and his father were used to taking care of his family during these times. He took special care of his younger brother, Pietje (sounds like PJ). The little guy followed him around like a puppy.

The tragic portion of the story began when the Japanese arrived on the island. They removed the older boys and men, taking them to labor camps, some to work on the infamous Burma railroad. Jeremiah’s father and brothers never returned. Before he left, he gave charge of his young family to Jeremiah’s care. At this point, we are aware that the boy is a scrapper, a tough young man, and smart. He believes he is up for the challenge. It wasn’t long after the men were taken when the Japanese came for the women and children. They were placed in “Jappencamps”, where each family lived in a single room of a house. The bulk of this amazing story occurs in this place of captivity.

My review:

This story left me awestruck. The book, especially in the twists and turns of the conclusion, grabbed my attention and left an impression. I know I’ll be thinking of the events in this book for a long time.

Thief of Glory quote4

One element meaningful to me was the author’s use of a few powerful metaphors. The banyan tree represents moments in time that leave an indelible impression for life. It also is used to represent the consequences of moments which pervades our lives to the end. The second metaphor was the impression left by reading Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe a number of times on Jeremiah. Jeremiah saw himself as Ivanhoe and Laura Jansen as Lady Rowena from the moment he laid eyes on her at the village’s marble game. Consequently, when another boy named Georgie Smith vied for her attention, Jeremiah was ready to fight for her, even in the Jappencamp.

I suppose the world of marble games could serve as an analogy or another metaphor. The game often determined the victims from the victors, the predatory from the prey, the followers from the leaders. Georgie and Jeremiah rose to be leaders, but by using two distinct methods and with two distinct motivations. Those characteristics were amplified in the Jappencamp.

The second thing that struck me as an amazing factor in this story were the details of life in the camp. While these details are secondary to the plot, they lend an atmosphere of authenticity to the events that took place. In the preface, it’s mentioned that these details came from the author’s parents, especially his father who spent years in a similar situation as Jeremiah. Yet he survived and returned home to his loved ones, and in particular the author’s mother. I think it’s the stark realism of this tale which plucked at my heartstrings so much. Toward the end, I even forgot the story was supposed to be fiction.

Thief of Glory quote3

The thing that surprised me most about this book was that reading this from a pre-teen’s viewpoint meant that, like Tom sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, there were the inevitable light moments and chuckles. Even in the midst of the horrendous circumstances he was in with his family, Jeremiah’s antics and escapades were often funny, in a dark sort of “stick-to-you” type of way. Call it comic relief. I don’t want to sound insensitive to the victims of such horrors, but the author managed to include many enjoyable instances as a sort of foil to the seriousness of the situation.

All of this meant I could hardly put the book down because of the suspense. It was all about surviving the war with his sanity and sense of self intact. Like me, you may be surprised how the book ends. I didn’t see it coming at all. If you enjoy a fresh perspective of a historical fiction and/or love what Sigmund Brouwer writes, I can heartily recommend this book to you. For the rest of you, try something new; I think this book is worth it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Press and the website, Blogging for Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Blast! Seeing the Life by Sophie Dawson

Seeing The Life

Seeing The Life
By Sophie Dawson

About the Book

Seeing The Life is a look at the life of Yeshua the Christ in a way never used before. Dassa, the daughter of the innkeeper, is sent to fetch the midwife to help the young woman in the stable give birth. She and Mary become close friends as do Micah, her fiance then husband, and Joseph. Separated when the young family flees Bethlehem in the night, their friendship resumes several years later in Jerusalem.

Dassa and Micah know Yeshua is special, but he is still a boy with a boy’s interests and love of life. Through the years the families, though separated most of the year, spend time together in Jerusalem during the Jewish Festivals. Then Yeshua begins speaking and teaching.

Micah, Joseph of Arimethea, their sons and others who follow and believe Yeshua’s message. Yet do they really understand it? Is he the long awaited messiah who will free the Jews from the grip of Rome? What do the stories he tells really mean?

Seeing The Life sees the life of Yeshua within the social and political culture of the time. Not only do we see his ministry but also his family and friendships as he grew. Yeshua was a normal baby who cried, spit up, wet and messed. He was a child who fell and skinned his knees. He lost his baby teeth. He had siblings. He had friends. My goal was to show the humanness of Yeshua’s life. We see him as fully God but often miss that he was fully man, boy and baby also.

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Sophie DawsonSophie Dawson is Midwestern born and bred and is the author of several novels, including the Cottonwood Series and Stone Creek Series. Her novel Healing Love has won three awards: AuthorStand 2012 Gold Medal, Indiebook 2012 Silver Medal, and Readers’ Favorite 2013 Silver Medal. Giving Love was a finalist in Readers’ Favorite 2013. Her books have also been #1 Best Sellers in their genre on Amazon. Seeing The Life is a finalist in Readers’ Favorite Awards 2014. She is a member of Christian Independent Authors and Association of Independent Authors. An award-winning quilter with eclectic interests, Dawson posts to several blogs, including Little Bits Blog on her website, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Iowa Wesleyan College.

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Out of the Storm: A Novella (Beacons of Hope series) by Jody Hedlund ~Review~

Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope) by Jody Hedlund

Out of the Storm

Author Jody Hedlund is beginning a new series of books: The Beacons of Hope. Many of the books feature a lighthouse setting in historically researched fiction. Out of the Storm is a novella that is intended to kick off the series. It is a historical fiction that takes place in the mid-nineteenth century at the beautiful Old Presque Isle Lighthouse.

Former British Captain Thornton, a powerful bulldog of a man, lived as keeper of the lighthouse with his daughter Isabelle. The surrounding area was wild, deserted, and ruggedly appealing. Neither father nor daughter minded the isolation. At the opening scene of this story, there has been a shipwreck. Flash storms were not unusual on Lake Huron. In the morning, the Captain and his daughter were looking for survivors. As they pulled bodies out of the water, Isabelle discovered a man clinging to some debris. They brought him inside to nurse him back to health.

Out of the Storm quote2

Over time they learned that this young man was the son of a lumber magnate. He was aboard a steamer with his business associate–his adviser and family friend, Charles, purchasing stands of timber on behalf of Cole Enterprises, when the storm overtook the ship. His friend and advisor did not survive. One more factor surprised the Thorntons. Along with hypothermia and burns, Henry had been shot. It took him awhile to recover from this experience.

While she nursed Henry, Isabelle became better acquainted with him. He was a jovial type of man, not taking much of anything very seriously. He was pampered and the life of the party, used to gaining the attention of women everywhere he went. His was a life of leisure, lacking in true purpose and drive. His father was disappointed in him and sent him on this trip hoping it would mature his son. The storm jolted him out of his complacency; he’d lost a close friend and he felt responsible. Isabelle’s nature was the opposite of Henry’s. She was reserved, quiet, serious and studious, yet happy and contented with her life. In spite of their differences, the two became friends.

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse4

Slowly, as Henry recovered from his wounds, he was given light tasks to help earn his stay in the Keeper’s home. He was also warned by the Captain to keep away from his daughter. But the young people’s relationship grew into more than friendship. Henry taught her different games, including checkers. Isabelle read to him from the Bible each day.

One day some men showed up at the door who claimed to represent Henry’s father. They were to go down to Detroit together. But once they got into the boat, the situation changed. Isabelle saw the men tie him up and hold a knife to his throat. She asked her father to rescue Henry; he did, reluctantly. It became apparent to both men that staying at the lighthouse was putting Isabelle and her father at risk from the ruthless competitors until Henry could travel down to Detroit to file his claim of ownership. He had to make a decision to leave before winter temperatures froze the lakes and commerce was closed until the Spring thaw. Isabelle was uncertain he would return. She loved him, but she may never see him again.

Old Presque Isle Lighthouse5

Yes, this is a short novella, with barely enough pages to develop a plot and build strong characters. Yet in spite of these limitations, Jody Hedlund has accomplished quite a few feats in this story. First, she has captured and described the unique responsibilities of lighthouse keepers all along the shores, no matter what state or country they were located. Before the days of electronic communications, all the warning ships had about avoiding treacherous rocks near the shores were from these lights. Before the days of the Coast Guard, there were few means available to rescue survivors of shipwrecks except for random citizens living near the seas and lakes. Lighthouse keepers were often among these rescuers.

Second, the author has described the incredible panoramic views available from the positions where lighthouses were often placed. These locations are often difficult to access today from the inland. Many people love lighthouses and collect items decorated like them, but not as many have visited them.

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Third, a historical background of the lumber industry is alluded to in this story, and will no doubt continue to be expanded upon in the series. The Great Lakes lumbering industry operated on two fronts: one from the investor’s point of view, where business was conducted almost entirely among the rich, on the Great Lakes. Competition to cash in on the “green gold” was fierce, where some competitors were ruthless and unethical in their dealings. The second front was from the perspective of the actual laborers, the foremen, the lumberjacks, and the local businessmen and representatives that depended on the influx of such workers. Historical industries like this are the foundation many stories are built upon.

Fourth, the author employed a simple classic love story to complete this introduction to the series. Boy meets girl…girl has doubts and boy has doubts…girl’s parent interferes…a crisis happens…the crisis allows barriers to crumble…boy gets girl (and vice versa)…both learn life lessons demonstrating some growth of character. There’s a happily ever after. It’s a pattern that works well for many readers. We enjoy it and its endless variations. I enjoy the author’s writing style demonstrated by this introductory novella. I’m looking forward to reading the Beacons of Hope series.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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