Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: Undaunted Hope

Undaunted Hope
By Jody Hedlund
Beacons of Hope, #3
Bethany House, 2016


Eagle Harbor, Michigan

In a town mired in darkness, she may shine the light they need.

Running from the mistakes of her past, Tessa Taylor heads to the uppermost reaches of Michigan, planning to serve as the new teacher to the children of miners. She quickly learns the town had requested a male teacher, but Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since it's too late to replace her. Tessa can't help but thank him and say she is in his debt.

Determined to make herself irreplaceable once spring thaw arrives, Tessa throws herself into her work, and soon two students have decided Miss Taylor is the right match for their grieving father. At the same time, charming assistant lightkeeper Alex Bjorklund makes his interest known, surprising Tessa, who has never had men fight for her hand before. But not all is well as she feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

Keweenaw Peninsula

My thoughts

I’ve been blessed to have read enough of Jody Hedlund’s books to know that she is consistent in all that she delivers – captivating storytelling combined with rich characterization, romantic tension, vivid sense of place, and a wealth of historical details drawing from actual eras and people. Rather than saying that this or that book is my favorite, I think that with Jody’s writing, the book I am currently reading becomes my favorite. However, I will say that several themes in Undaunted Hope instantly drew me in – such as Tessa’s school teaching, Alex’s breeding of Norwegian Elkhounds (I loved Bear and Wolfie!), Michael’s children, and the plights of the copper mining community.

Norwegian Elkhounds
Tessa is a wonderful lead character who inspired me throughout. Those who have read the previous novel, Hearts Made Whole, will remember that she hasn’t always been all that likeable. But five years have passed and it’s now 1871, when Tessa comes to Eagle Harbor on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to teach school. She is a tireless worker, determined, strong willed, and opinionated – but most of all, caring. The normal romantic tension is heightened by the fact that two brothers, Alex and Michael, both care for Tessa. Romance fans will love the opening scene where Alex rescues her from the waters of Lake Superior. Also, Jody’s skill at vividly conveying historical elements, like ice fishing and copper mining, added much richness and pulled me right into the characters’ lives.

Ice fishing on Lake Superior
Tessa’s growth and maturity from a questionable past reflects one of the best things about Christian fiction - journeying with a character and finding much that applies to our lives. Grace, redemption, courage, and trusting God for the necessary strength to confront fears are a few themes that touched me.

This series has been special to me because I’ve always been drawn to lighthouses, for they symbolize the human condition of danger, lostness, rescue, hope, and the safety that comes through Jesus. There’s a literal contrast between light and dark in Undaunted Hope – the lighthouse’s shining beam with the darkness deep within the mining shaft – but a spiritual one as well. Tessa’s wanting to be a shining light for change within the community made me think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Beacons of Hope Series
Undaunted Hope arrives at a very satisfying conclusion. Starting with the novella that begins this series, Out of the Storm, a connecting factor has been the passing on of a letter and a hope-filled cross carved from driftwood. I am intrigued with the character who received the cross toward the end of this story and am eager to see how Jody brings the Beacons of Hope series full circle.

Recommended to all who enjoy historical romance.

Watch for an interview with Jody + a GIVEAWAY coming soon!

Click on these titles to see my review of the previous two novels:
Love Unexpected
Hearts Made Whole


Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Thank you to Jody Hedlund and Bethany House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.