Beginning one of Jody’s books is like opening that first box of long-awaited Thin Mints during Girl Scout cookie season. You know that once it’s open, you won’t be able to stop until you’ve devoured the entire thing. Jody Hedlund never fails to craft stories that keep me engaged from start to finish.
As soon as I saw the cover of Undaunted Hope and read the back cover blurb, I knew I was going to have to carve out an entire chunk of my day to read the latest book in Jody Hedlund’s Beacons of Hope series.
Undaunted Hope is the story of Tessa Taylor, a character I honestly had a hard time liking in Book 2, Hearts Made Whole. Without spoiling it for you, I’ll just let you know that she was an impetuous young girl who made some bad choices that hurt her older sister, the book’s protagonist. Now, older and wiser, Tessa plans to trade the mistakes of her past for a new beginning. She gets a job working as a teacher for a small mining town up in the farthest parts of Northern Michigan. Immediately, she faces some challenges—a superintendent who thinks a woman is incapable for the job, unwanted advances from a very powerful man, and the harsh reality that the boys of this community are forced to work rather than be educated. (As a teacher in a Title 1 school and the mother of boys, it broke my heart that these boys weren’t allowed to escape the cycle of poverty.) Tessa’s love for these children and for the people in this community was compelling. I especially loved how Tessa tries to invest in Josie Rawlings, a young girl on the verge of making even bigger mistakes than Tessa made at her age. It really made me like her character even more. I could still see glimpses of the flirtatious, young girl I remembered from the second book, especially when she was with Alex Bjorklund. Handsome and charming, Alex brought out her fun, more playful side. Once again, Jody nails it with the character chemistry. Their banter is spot on. I really enjoyed Alex’s character, except for the fact that he was a little too unselfish at times. The climax of the book was well-written and gave some nice surprises. I was thrilled with how Jody brought in characters from the prequel and tied all of their lives together. I also liked how Jody used the lighthouse as a symbol of Tessa’s fears and pain. She’d lost so much in her young life, and the lighthouse was an agonizing reminder of her past. I typically enjoy the romance best of all in Jody’s books, and while the romance does not disappoint, the best part of this book to me was Tessa’s redemption.
Hers is a lesson that so many of us can learn from; by facing her fears head on, she was able to both make peace with her past and forgive herself at the same time.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a good romance/mystery. It’s better if you read the other books first, but each one can stand alone just fine.
I’d like to thank Bethany House for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.