*Be sure to check out the book give-away at the end!
Last night, a terrible thing happened...
I finished reading Unending Devotion.
Have you ever read a book, anxious to find out how it ends, but then wishing it didn't? Yeah, me too. And Jody Hedlund's latest novel is one of those. Christian Historical Romance doesn't get any better!
I know I said I would post a review Friday, but I couldn't wait to share my thoughts on this book.
Not only does the MC share my name, but I can so relate to her impulsiveness--okay, bullheadedness. I, too, sometimes act without thinking it through. I, too, have had less than ideal outcomes from such actions.
Lily Young is an orphan. Her younger sister, Daisy, has run away--to be a prostitute! Oren, a father figure to Lily, has taken Lily along as his assistant to photograph young men in logging camps in 1883 Michigan.
The logging industry has birthed many evils, one of which is a large number of brothels. Lily's hope is, while touring the many logging camps, to search the brothels, find Daisy and rescue her from a life of prostitution. Easier said than done. (FYI: If you Google images for '1800 logging camp brothel' you will pull up the cover of Unending Devotion.)
This topic is near and dear to me. After being enlightened to the ill of modern-day sex trafficking, I have made it a priority to educated myself and others about this problem. Hedlund demonstrates that this sin has been around the U.S. for a very long time.
As she did in her first two novels, Hedlund took me into the logging camps and the culture of the day. She paints a vivid picture with her writing, as well as educates on a lifestyle of former times. (It's like that commercial--I DO feel smarter after reading one of her books!) If only high school History class had been this much fun...
Her characters come alive. Unfortunately, that includes the evil Mr. Carr and despicable Jimmy Neil. Neither has a conscious when it comes to young women. Carr doesn't think twice about tricking them into working for him, or holding them against their will. Fortunately, Lily has made it her life's purpose to rescue anyone who needs rescuing!
Connell McCormick is a good man, but turns his head to the evil surrounding him, accepting it as 'part of the territory.' Lily can't understand how he can allow the evil to continue for the sake of business. Is profit the deciding factor in moral obligation?
Hedlund's minor characters, from the local paper's chief editor to the charming couple that own a boarding house, are also full of personality, becoming real to the reader.
Unending Devotion has a unique storyline, that moves well from beginning to end. It certainly fed the suspense-lover in me. And, if you're a romance fan, the relationship between Lily and Connell will please your match-making soul.
I've wondered whether or not, if I should someday become a published author under contract, I could crank out story after story while maintaining a quality tale. Jody Hedlund has proved it possible. For me, this was her best book so far. As with the first two novels, this third work crosses bookstore boundaries. Even though Hedlund's genre is Christian fiction, this novel will appeal to all historical fiction fans. On my Shelfari page, I will be marking this one a five-star favorite! I can't wait to share it with my bookworm granddaughter. Perhaps I can even nudge her into writing her own review.
THE CONTEST: I will be giving away a signed copy of Unending Devotion! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment! (Plus some way to contact you.) Want to increase the odds in your favor? I have previously posted an interview with Jody. At the end of this interview, I explain all the ways you can enter. One reader already has 7 entries in the contest! You get extra chances with every post about this book, from the interview post until the drawing. Good luck!
*Please, if posting a link, leave a way to find that link in the comment box, or sent me an email. Thanks.