Caroline Taylor and her siblings endured the unimaginable. Stuck on shore, they witnessed their father drown. Now it is up to Caroline to protect and provide for her family. She loves running the Windmill Point Lighthouse and can carry out the task as well as her father or any man. But the inspector doesn’t approve of women filling such roles and appoints a new keeper, leaving Caroline without a job and her family homeless.
A Civil War veteran, Ryan Chambers seeks solitude. His pills and the bottle offer the only escape from the past and memories that haunt him. The position as lighthouse keeper provides the isolation he craves — that is if he can remain conscious and sober long enough to fulfill his duties. When his addictions endanger others, Ryan and Caroline strike a deal. She can remain at the lighthouse as his assistant. But it soon becomes evident that someone wants her gone.
Jody Hedlund’s Hearts Made Whole imparts a story of hope and redemption. Though entertaining, it was my least favorite installment in the Beacons of Hope series. I enjoyed the setting and the way the author brought to life the struggles of lighthouse living — especially for a female. For the most part, I liked and could empathize with the protagonists individually. My difficulty came with their romance. I had no trouble seeing what attracted Ryan to Caroline, unfortunately, it didn’t go the other way.
Knowing Ryan’s past and the choices that haunted him, I could root for him. My heart plummeted every time he caved in to his cravings because I knew the origin and cause of his suffering. However, Caroline wasn’t aware of all the details I had as a reader, especially in the beginning. She could only see an irresponsible drunk and addict — albeit an extremely handsome one. This led me to question what, outside of his looks, attracted her.
I liked the way Caroline stepped in to care for her family. But, as a lone female with four young siblings depending on her, Caroline placed herself in unwise and potentially dangerous situations becoming so involved with a man she didn’t know who battled serious addictions. With time, Ryan does change and develop, growing into the kind of man a woman could fall for. But by that point, Caroline had already long crossed the line to thoughts of marriage and love.
The final step in Ryan’s growth process did redeem their romance a bit, but I won’t give details to avoid spoilers. Nonetheless, the story maintained my interest, making for a quick read. I recommend Hearts Made Whole to historical fiction fans, as well as anyone who enjoys learning about lighthouses.
Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!