This book has a lot to offer a reader. There’s adventure when pirates threaten the waters near the Presque Isle lighthouse, a marriage of convenience, a vengeful gossiping neighbor, a man with dark secrets, a family trying to survive deep oppression, and sexual tension. It is a historical fiction set in the mid-1800’s at one of Michigan’s scenic lighthouses. Much of the material has basis in historical facts, including the presence of a circuit riding preacher, a pirate that robbed ships and goods at various docks, the lighthouse keeper himself and his wife, and the setting at Burnham’s Landing.
Patrick Garraty, the lighthouse keeper at Presque Isle, was a man with numerous secrets and a shady background, yet his story is one of miraculous redemption. But, as so often happens to us, the past rears its ugly head and threatens Patrick and his son’s future.
Emma Chambers and her brother Ryan are all the family they have left. Their mother died during the potato famine, their father leading them to America before drowning his sorrows in alcohol. His death on Mackinaw Island prompted them to take a steamer to Detroit to start their life over again. But on the way, pirates raided their ship, stole their life savings and the ship’s cargo, and set the steamer on fire. Emma and Ryan swam to shore, guided by the nearby lighthouse’s beacon. Reaching Burnham’s Landing, Ryan found a job chopping firewood. But there was no place for Emma to stay. The only females in the area already had seven people living in their tiny cabin.
When the kindly Reverend William Poyseor, the traveling minister often fondly called “Holy Bill”, arrived to conduct a funeral, he suggested a solution to Emma’s problem; she should marry Patrick Garraty. She agrees and married Patrick the day after her escape from the pirates. She immediately inherits the care of rambunctious 2-year-old Joey. But she sees in Patrick a dedicated, loving father and thoughtful husband. Despite Ryan’s concerns she wants to stay in the remote northeast part of Michigan with Patrick.
I enjoy reading historical fiction and the combination of that with a marriage of convenience is irresistible. In this case, Emma has never kept house, cooked a meal without burning it, or taken charge of a child. She feels woefully inadequate for the task. This leads her to befriend Bertie Burnham for guidance and cooking lessons. But Bertie secretly seeks revenge on Patrick. Emma allows Bertie’s poisonous tongue to color her perception of Patrick, and coupled with the secrets he keeps, disaster nearly overtook the newlyweds before they became better acquainted. The suspense, mystery and revelations as I read this book made it difficult to put this book down at times.
Not only is the action riveting, but the character development is well done. Several bits of Patrick’s past haunts him so that he has to struggle with his new found faith to find inner peace. Like us many times, he is his own worst enemy when it comes to living under the umbrella of “no condemnation.” (See Romans 8:1)
The third part of this book I like is the author’s use of comic relief through little Josiah, Patrick’s son. His antics keeps the story warm and charming. His legendary temper tantrums tested Emma to her limits, although he is endearing nonetheless. He is essentially the glue keeping Emma and Patrick together while they work their issues out.
This book is the first book of the Beacons of Hope series by Jody Hedlund. The prequal to the series is an ebook novella, Out of the Storm. I highly recommend these stories for you.
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.”