“God sure has a sense of humor,” she said with a half smile. “I’ve always tried to stay as far away as possible from lighthouses, and here I am the acting lightkeeper.”
Gunnar smiled, and the crooked tilt of it reminded her of Alex and sent a pang through her chest. “Maybe God is trying to make you less afraid of lighthouses,” Gunnar offered.
She started to protest, to tell Gunnar that she wasn’t afraid of lighthouses. But she stopped and stared first at the lens, then at the lake. Was she afraid?
For so long she’d blamed the lighthouse and lakes for all the deaths and problems in her family. She didn’t deny that she’d been angry and bitter. But maybe she was afraid too.
Had God placed her here at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse time after time this year so that she’d have to face her fears? If so, she’d resisted His plan all along. She’d dragged her feet, determined not to have anything to do with the lighthouse or the men who lived in it.
After resisting all this time, had God decided to give her one last chance to face her fears? One last big chance?
Tessa Taylor believes she will never be able to forgive the sea or lighthouses for all they’ve taken from her. When she arrives in Eagle Harbour, North Michigan, to take up her position as school teacher she is looking for a clean start, away from lighthouses and away from her tarnished reputation. What she finds is a town well and truly under the thumb of the chief clerk of the local mine – Mr Percival Updegraff.
Despite the initial misunderstanding over her gender, and his doubts over Tessa’s ability to withstand the harsh and isolating winter, Mr Updegraff is willing to honour her offer of employment. But it is not long before Tessa begins to discover a decidedly unsavoury side to her employer. It seems there are only two people in Eagle Harbour who remain outside his sphere of influence: light-house keeper Michael Bjorklund and his brother Alex.
The handsome Nordic brothers present a different kind of a problem for Tessa. Both have taken a romantic interest in her, and Michael’s two children have captured her heart and decided she should marry their widower father. Alex is convinced it is he who has won her favour, not his brother, but while Tessa cannot deny to herself that she has been attracted to Alex from the day she arrived in Eagle Harbor, two things prevent her from considering either man’s suit: Firstly, her position as teacher requires that she remain unmarried; Secondly, she has sworn she will never again have anything to do with a lighthouse, let alone marry a keeper.
The longer she is in Eagle Harbor, the greater is Tessa’s disgust over Mr Updegraff’s influence in the mining community, but it is not until Alex steps in to defend her honor that she discovers how truly devastating his influence can be.
Tessa Taylor is a determined young woman who knows what she wants. And what she doesn’t want, for that matter! The second book in this series is the only one I haven’t read, and I gather it includes Tessa’s back-story, but overlooking my obsessive compulsion to read series books in order, this didn’t affect my ability to follow the story.
The setting was an integral part of this story – particularly survival in a harsh and isolated winter – and since I’m fascinated by experiences that are different to my own this was an enjoyable aspect of the story. But overall there was enough predictability to the story line to dampen my enthusiasm, and a tendency for the character’s thoughts to slow down or interrupt the flow of the scene or dialogue at times.
Like Tessa, Alex also knows what he wants – from the moment he rescues Tessa out of the harbour. And I have to say, he’s a bit of a flirt. Actually, scrap the ‘bit of a’ part. He’s a flirt; but only with Tessa it would seem. Nevertheless, I did feel as though the flirting was a bit over-the-top at times (and a bit . . . sultry, perhaps?) I also thought the development and resolution of the conflict between Alex and his brother was a little predictable, and even a little childish at one point.
Alongside the romance aspect, there was an element of . . . not quite suspense, but tension surrounding Mr Updegraff’s influence in the mining community. He really is an unscrupulous man, and I was interested to learn that his character was based on an actual historical person! I was keen to see how he would be brought down, but I couldn’t help but feel that this resolution was a little orchestrated for maximum dramatic effect. However it was nice to see Henry Cole (from the prequel) and his daughter Victoria (who will feature in the next novel) making an appearance.
In the end, I can’t say this is one of my favourite reads, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend a few hours.
Thank you to Bethany House for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 29 December 2015
Pages: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Author’s website: http://jodyhedlund.com/
Previous books in the series: