Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund (Bethany House, 2014)

Holding on to Hope {Book Review: Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund}

When Irish immigrant Emma Chambers and her brother, Ryan, are shipwrecked off of the coast of Presque Isle, Michigan after a pirate attack, they’re not sure where to go or how they’re regain what little savings they had. Emma feels, as a 22-year-old in 1859, she’s losing hope of having a home of her own without her brother feeling responsible to take care of her.

Emma meets little Josiah, and his father, Patrick Garraty, shortly after coming to shore at Burnham’s Landing. Patrick has just lost his wife, and is overwhelmed with caring for Josiah and tending the Presque Isle lighthouse. When Holy Bill, the traveling preacher, recommends Emma and Patrick marry to ease both their troubles, Emma accepts to fulfill her wish of having her own home and a child to care for. She quickly finds she’s drawn to Patrick, but doesn’t learn about his tumultuous past until it may be too late. Can she hold on to hope for a happy future?

Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund (Bethany House, 2014)

Author Jody Hedlund easily weaves themes of love, trust, and redemption into all of her novels, but I love how much focus is on hope in Love Unexpected (Beacons of Hope series Book #1, Bethany House, 2014). Emma struggles with maintaining hope through drastic circumstances, something all of us can relate to. While the romance between Patrick and Emma is a whirlwind happening in roughly a month’s time, the reader can believe and feel their care for each other, as well as the inner turmoil each experience as they overcome their pasts, doubts, and inadequacies.

Jody draws the reader in with sensory-filled details incorporated into emotion-wrought sentences. And she never fails to create an intriguing, different-from-the-norm male character. As always, the historical aspects Jody includes in her stories fascinate me. I am easily drawn in to the time and place and eager to learn more about the characters’ ways of life. Jody shares in the author’s note what components are real, and which are fictionalized, which I always love reading at the end of the novel.

Reading Love Unexpected will make the reader yearn for open communication between Emma and Patrick, revel in Josiah’s young wonder of the earth, admire Ryan’s loyalty to his sister, grin at Holy Bill’s abrupt yet faith-directed ways, cheer Emma’s housekeeping and parenting attempts, scowl at Bertie’s selfish actions, and adore Patrick’s desire to exude God’s grace. All while learning about an utterly different way of life from what most of us live now. It’s a great blend of historical and Christian romance.

"...no one can sin too much or stray too far from God that He can't bring them back, heal them, and give them a new life." - quote from Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund

I highly recommend first reading the novella that serves as a precursor to this series, Out of the Storm, available in ebook format only. Isabella’s story in that novella weaves through the rest of the series. Plus, the novella is an enjoyable, fast read that helps introduce the tone and setting of the place and era. Then move on to Love Unexpected. The second book in this series will come out in June, too!

Visit Jody’s website for a Q&A, to read Isabella’s letter (referenced in Love Unexpected), and purchase the book!

Question for you: What is one of your favorite novels on hope?

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.