Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jaegars

A Heart Most Certain

Lydia King knows what it's like to be in need, so she joins the Teaville Moral Society hoping to help the town's poor. But with her father's debts increasing by the day and her mother growing sicker by the week, she wonders how long it will be until she ends up in the poorhouse herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn't hurt that his mother is the moral society's president. Lydia's first task as a moral society member--to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town--seems easy . . . until the man flat-out refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas wants to help others but prefers to do it his own way, keeping his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, though Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresees the harrowing complications that will arise from working together, and when town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs--and hearts--truly align.
(excerpt from back of book)

Melissa Jagears is one of those writers I'm beginning to rely on. If  I'm looking for a solid read, enjoyable character growth, and a well-thought out setting I know Melissa will deliver.

I was surprised to find so many serious topics wrapped up in a fascinating love story (honestly, the literary nerd in me giggled with glee over Lydia's comparisons between her own life and  one of her favourite reads Pride and Prejudice). I love the diversity and breadth of topics in this novel. Larger themes of redemption, hypocrisy, self sacrifice, and the church find life with the comings and goings of Teaville, If book 1 is any indication this series is going to be a  "stay up 'til it's done" type  of series.

Jagears characters  are so real I found myself wishing for the opportunity
to chat about books with Lydia, give the pastor's wife a hug, and cry over the three sisters who impacted each of the few pages they were featured on. Actually, to be honest, when I look back on this novel it isn't Lydia or  Nicholas  that will jump out, it's the kids. Jagears hits upon historical events that have present day significance with a skill and truthfulness that is hard to deny. Part of Jagears appeal is her willingness to write harder scenes that other authors may shy away from in the genre. Sadie's introduction and the eldest sisters wrestling with Lowe's offers shone light onto the very tip of a heartbreaking and global issue.

My only concern with the book was the epilogue. Although this is usually my favourite part due to story lines wrapping up and the satisfaction of a story well lived, I had some concerns about the characters. Lydia undergoes a noticeable and not overly enjoyable personality change for this reader. Now, I'll give some wiggle  room here, sometimes personalities can undergo changes during different periods of life and Lydia's life had certainly undergone some changes. I'll reserve judgment to see whether Lydia regains her passion in the next installment.
I also had a few questions over the introduction of characters in the epilogue. I'm going to take a  guess they'll feature more heavily in the sequel but it did give the book more of an incomplete feel than the book felt like it was going to have.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."