For someone who never used to read Christian fiction, I keep surprising myself by finding an increasing number of Christian novelists on my list of favourite authors. Jody Hedlund topped the list after the release of her debut novel, THE PREACHER’S BRIDE in 2010. Each year since then I have waited impatiently for, and eagerly consumed, her subsequent releases – THE DOCTOR’S LADY in 2011, UNENDING DEVOTION in 2012 and most recently A NOBLE GROOM, launched just last month.
Jody’s stories are historical romances, and the eras she draws from provide fascinating and authentic backdrops for her characters and their complex stories. A NOBLE GROOM takes place in 1880, mostly in a rural German farming community surrounding Forestville, Michigan.
About A NOBLE GROOM, from Jody’s website:
“Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can’t prove it.
Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He’s been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn’t commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he’ll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa’s farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.
Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He’s gentle, kind, and romantic–unlike any of the men she’s ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love–but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.”
Publishers Weekly says, “Hedlund intricately balances romance and drama…” but this is an understatement. More than balancing them, she weaves them together with breath-holding suspense, moments of danger and disaster, and the sweetness of a child’s trust. The sustaining faith of both Annalisa and Carl is evident, but there is no slick dishing out of the Christian message. Instead it plays out subtly in the motives and actions of the characters – a refreshing change from some Christian fiction where the stories are thinly veiled attempts to present salvation as the panacea to every dilemma.
While I found the romantic elements more dominant in A NOBLE GROOM than in Jody’s previous books, it isn’t at the expense of an exciting plot, well-developed characters or a vivid setting. They all entwined to keep me engrossed in the story from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.
The only problem with finishing it so quickly is once again I’m left impatiently waiting for Jody’s next book. REBELLIOUS HEART (where Susanna Smith and Ben Ross are caught up “in a very dangerous fight for justice” in 1763 Massachusetts), isn’t due for release until September. Another four months to wait!
Jody Hedlund is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.
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