Wednesday, January 7, 2015

'Out of the Storm' by Jody Hedlund

Having grown up in a lighthouse, loneliness is all Isabelle Thornton has ever known--and all, she assumes, she ever will know. But when her lightkeeper father rescues a young man from the lake, her sheltered world is turned upside down.

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund's Out of the Storm is her first ever novella and introduces readers to Beacons of Hope, a new series set in the 1800s amid the romance, history, and danger surrounding the Great Lakes lighthouses of Michigan.

I've sometimes avoided novellas in the past, partly because I believed a wonderful story with characters we care deeply for can't be achieved in such a short book. I thought novellas would have to be more bland and simplistic than longer books, just because of the shorter word count. This story blows that theory right out of the water. It took just an hour or two to read and I loved it.

There are just three main characters; Isabelle, Henry and Isabelle's father, Captain Thornton. Her father is the lighthouse keeper of a remote isle, and Henry is the only survivor of a shipwreck washed onto their shores. Isabelle is sweet but a bit melancholic at times, partly because of her lonesome lifestyle and partly because of something in her genetic make-up clouding her horizon. Henry is the privileged son of a wealthy family used to a life of ease and comfort, yet he doesn't come across as a spoiled, obnoxious, rich kid. As for Isabelle's dad... well, Henry likens him to a protective bear standing on hind legs, just waiting to be baited, but the captain has his reasons.

The romance sizzles off the pages at times. I loved it that I was cheering both younger characters on so hard, even though I felt as if I'd really just met them. I love the open-ended nature of some of the threads, so we can imagine some of our own bright possibilities. Most of all, I love how I stumbled upon this novella. Isabelle and Henry's story was alluded to in a novel with the same setting (Love Unexpected by Jody Hedlund) which made me curious. I'll have to remember this clever way of hooking us in.

So there you have it. Short book, small cast of characters, remote setting, dynamite. Perfect proof that a great story isn't bound by supposed limitations.

5 stars

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