Jody Hedlund Christian Fiction Books

I don’t normally like just plain Romance books, but I did find these two books interesting by Jody Hedlund.  What is especially fascinating is the history in them.  As I love it when author’s really delve into the differing mindsets of the times and recreate the era in an authentic and vivid way. 

Rebellious Heart 

The basic skeleton of this plot is actually quite predictable. However, the historical setting and the inner turmoils of the protagonists were so well presented that it makes for a fascinating read, nonetheless. I especially enjoyed the colonial era Boston environs setting of this book. The plight of the indentured servants is very well presented, which was a fascinating element of the story. And the love story is nicely done. We have Susanna, based on Abigail Adams as it turns out, wishing she had the same access to education as her younger brother, William. She’s known since she was little that she should marry well in order to live in the manner to which has grown accustomed, and that means nobody from the middling classes. Certainly not the rising young son of a shoemaker turned Harvard educated lawyer, Mr. Benjamin Ross ( who in turn is based on John Adams). However, with her interest in helping others, especially young women, leading her to seek out Mr. Ross’ legal expertise, soon their differences in classes and social stations become something that they both must confront and overcome. And, given the time period, this is not a trivial matter. One element of the story I also enjoyed was the way it illustrates the differing points of view of Scripture. As Susannah is a parsons daughter and brought up with the beliefs that she must obey the law as of God, so she has a hard time understanding the burgeoning revolutionary viewpoint that God commands justice and mercy and kindness over unjust laws. It is an interesting development that is brought out in the novel. Overall, I found it to be a lovely read and I recommend it highly.

A Noble Groom

The novel belongs to the Historical Romance Genre, which I have to admit, isn’t always my favorite genre. I tend to prefer mysteries. However, I was drawn to this book because of the fascinating history. It centers around a German immigrant community in Michigan and the author does an excellent job of capturing the mindset of the hard working peasants trying to own their own farms in the New World. She also does an excellent job of portraying the aristocratic and well educated nobleman who has had to leave his homeland in order to avoid the guillotine. The different perspectives of the differing classes are well presented and the greedy American businessman, Ward, is often compared to the greedy nobles of the Old Country, which is a very interesting point. The main drawback for me is that it is one-hundred percent pure romance. Even with the well crafted story presented here, I can’t help but think it would be hard for a nobleman to settle down on a rural farm. Even with his inventions and scientific studies. Call me a cynic if you will, but reality is reality. However, for a fairy tale read, this is an interesting book.

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The Molly Murphy Mysteries!

I have just discovered the Molly Murphy Mysteries written by Rhys Bowen.  And I have read the first four in the series.  Ms. Bowen does an excellent job of recreating the Irish wit and opinionated mindset of our plucky aspiring private investigator, Molly Murphy. Here are my reviews:

Murphy’s Law

What a darling mystery series! I grew up reading the classic Nancy Drew mystery stories and have often felt a void in the fictional literature out there for “grown ups”, but now I think I’ve found the answer to my dilemna! This mystery series centers around Molly Murphy, an Irish lass who has a big mouth that works both for and against her at times. She is well educated since she was educated with the local aristocracy, due to the lady being impressed by her outspokeness. However, the landlord’s son tries to take advantage of her and she kicks him. Which, unfortunately, ends up with him passing away. Consequently, she must flee before she’s hung. (The legal standards of the era weren’t necessarily equitable.) And what follows is an absolutely delightful account of how she ends up in America and begins solving mysteries right away in order to both help out a friend and keep herself off the suspect list. The author does an exceptional job of recreating the time period of Irish New York in 1901. And her writing style just carries one along through the story so well that it is impossible to put the book down. Furthermore, just when one thinks the mystery is about to get predictable there is an unexpected turn of events that keeps one on edge. And I especially appreciated that the author kept things clean.

Death of Riley

This is the second book in the series (although the third if you count the prequel), and it is complete with Molly’s knack for finding her way into situations and escaping out of the same situations, often times through the benevolence of the people she meets. The book centers around the plot to kill President McKinley and I didn’t find the ending all that gratifying. However, it was most interesting how the plot developed. And to read about the situations Molly finds herself into, from a lesbian couple and a homosexual playwright and his litany of discarded lovers, to posing nude for a painter, meeting anarchists, and lastly, to taking care of the children she brought over from the Old World. It is amazing how our young innocent Molly gets involved in the underworld of society through her determination to be a private investigator. And best of all, is her witty and opinionated outlook on life and society.

For The Love Of Mike

This is the third installment in the Molly Murphy Mystery Series and it is a good one. In this book, the strong-willed Irish immigrant in the turn of the century New York becomes involved in the sweatshop garment industry via some of her private investigator work. She meets with the union activists and becomes immersed in the Russian Jewish culture. The mystery loses a little steam compared to the first two books in the series, however, it is still a very nice read. And one can’t help but admire Molly’s spunk as she fends off all these men who have designs on her and some of the other girls. There is a new love interest introduced in this book and the experience of the garment workers is well portrayed.

In Like Flynn

This is a very gripping installment in the Molly Murphy Mystery series. I have been reading them in order and this is the fourth one in the set, unless one counts the prequel, which would make it the fifth. This installment has all the elements one could hope for in a mystery novel. As our spirited Irish private investigator gets an assignment to expose some spiritualists who are temporarily residing in the mansion of a Senator. The Senator is of peasant Irish stock himself, but his wife is of Southern aristocracy. And they are all still grieving the loss of their young son who was kidnapped a few years prior. Naturally, even though it isn’t technically her assignment there are some questions about the circumstances of it all that pique Molly’s interest and thankfully for all, she makes some excellent discoveries on the matter. Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. However, I have to say, that for me at least, the last few pages were a huge disappointment. As all throughout the series, Molly as been spirited but innocent and towards the end of this book, well, she gives in to the amorous overtures of her real love. It was a very stereotypical waiting out the rain in the barn scene and given her true love’s previous chivalry on the matter, I thought it was most anticlimactic. Of course, I do usually stick to the Christian Fiction literature, so it is surprising that in this secular series it didn’t happen sooner, in a way. But, nonetheless, that combined with the “coming back to life” of a previous acquaintance just makes for the spunkiness of our spirited Irish lass to lose some luster. And I have to say, I won’t be reading the series any more.