Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund
Beacons of Hope Book #1
Visit the Author's Website HERE
Publisher: Bethany House
Publishing Date: November 25, 2014
All she's ever wanted was a home. But stranded at Presque Isle port after their steamboat sank, Emma Chambers and her brother, Ryan, couldn't be farther away from security. While Ryan at least can find work, Emma can't even find a place to stay. An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper, who recently lost his wife and is struggling to raise his young son, arrives in town. A traveling preacher believes they might be the answer to each others' problems, and after a hasty marriage, Emma is headed back to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger.
But nothing in her wandering life has prepared her for suddenly being asked to raise a child and keep a house. Struggling at every turn, Emma also suspects Patrick may be keeping something hidden from her. In town she hears whispers about strange circumstances surrounding his previous wife's death, and it seems as though Emma's answered prayer for a home and family may actually be something much more dangerous.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Buy a copy today!
Historically set in Michigan, 'Love Unexpected' is a well researched, emotional romance with just a smidgen of mystery. I remember reading about the cover when the book was first released (I can't find the article now, sorry!) and I do believe that is the actual lighthouse depicted on the cover. I just love hearing 'behind the scenes' stories like that.
Hedlund did a thorough job at researching the lighthouses of Michigan, and Presque Isle port in particular. In the back of the book, she included an author's historical note in which we learn that several of the characters were based on real people. Even though it is mentioned at the end of the book, I mention it now because I think it would be worth the flip to the end to read it first. I would have enjoyed knowing I was reading about the lives and locations of real people before I dove in. Adds the extra layer of history and connection.
But you won't] need a history lesson to connect with these characters! Hedlund opens the story with a bang. The high action continues for awhile culminating in a marriage for convenience, also pushing Emma to immediately become the mother of a toddler. The middle of the plot doesn't lag, but does slow down into a slow burn of sorts. There is tension, both frustrating and romantic, as Emma and Patrick try to find a new rhythm.
I personally connected with Emma as she discover the, er...joys...of mothering a toddler. Josiah is a handful and overly attached to his father. He doesn't mind Emma, but the connection between the two is certainly not instantaneous. Emma is a woman who hasn't really known a mother's touch and seriously doubts her own abilities to become a mother. A screaming, tantrum throwing toddler is not the easiest way to learn, but Emma is determined to be a good mother and wife. I saw a lot of myself in Emma during these parts. Juggling an attention craved, messy kid with building and maintaining a home is NOT easy.
The emotions that Hedlund creates are just as fantastic as they were in her recent YA novel. At one point things were ramping up so quickly that I actually had to put the book down to take a break. When a child is involved, things are never truly easy and it was starting to get to me! But I loved it! There was so much going on and I wasn't quite sure how Hedlund was going to resolve it. I really don't want to give any spoilers, or ramble on, but I think this book will give you feels.
Still, overall, I just don't feel like I can say that 'Love Unexpected' is one of the best books I have read this year. Perhaps I have just been reading a plethora of fantastic books lately. 'Love Unexpected' has gotten me more amped up for book two more than anything (which I also think has a more beautiful cover). Should you read it? If you enjoy intense emotion, can handle marriages of convenience, and can feel a small thrill over the dash of pirates thrown in. Hedlund is rapidly climbing up the ladder to my Favorite Authors spot. 4.5 stars