After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.
Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s secured the position of lighthouse keeper mostly for the isolation–the chance to hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s angry with him for taking her job and for his inability to properly run the light. When his failings endanger others, he and Caroline realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but he’s unwilling to let anyone close enough to help. Caroline feels drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?
Jody Hedlund takes lesser known histories and crafts beautiful stories that honour the men and women who have left a legacy in their communities . Hearts Made Whole is such a tale, telling of the trailblazing women who manned Michigan’s lighthouses in the 1800s and asserted themselves as equally competent keepers.
Caroline Taylor is a woman of grace, strength and compassion. Her father drowned before her eyes during a fated trip across the lake during a storm. Helpless to save him, Caroline assumes the role of guardian and provider to her siblings and interim lighthouse caretaker. Her love for this beacon she calls home is deeply ingrained and Caroline is devastated that she has the lost position solely based on the criteria of gender. Her indignation towards the new keeper is tempered as she recognizes a tormented soul seeking refuge in isolation.
Ryan Chambers returned from war a shadow of the man he once was. Plagued by agonizing memories, he wants nothing more than to hide from the world and all it is represents: both darkness and hope. He is too broken to reconcile God’s mercy in aftermath of the horror of war. Ryan’s reluctant friendship with Caroline-initially forged out of necessity since he lacked the skill necessary for the position-slowly fans a flame of love. He sees her vulnerabilities and offers her a safe haven to fortify herself in response to the her overwhelming situation.
As is indicative of excellent historical fiction, the themes in Hearts Made Whole are timeless and affecting. Jody Hedlund vivid and articulate prose never fails to entice readers deep in to the lives of her characters and to experience a full spectrum of emotion that breaches the line between fiction and reality. This is a layered plot of romance and restoration that is intensified with a subplot of subterfuge that piques interest and investment from the first page.
There is a lack of superlatives to adequately express my adoration for Jody Hedlund’s writing. If you have yet to experience one of her , there is no better place to start than with Hearts Made Whole. I suspect existing fans have already added this to their reading queue.
**Disclosure: review copy provided for consideration**