When I emailed Nancy a while back to ask about the feature and to nominate Ryan, I never expected that she would email me back asking if I could write it. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I love strong character driven novels, and Ryan is what drives this book.
About Hearts Made Whole (released June 2, 2015):Caroline Taylor has been running the Windmill Point Lighthouse since her father’s death. Yet in 1865, women are not supposed to have such roles. Caroline knows it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper, a man, to the role. Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran who is haunted by the experiences he had in the war. When he is offered the job of lighthouse keeper at Windmill Point, he takes it, hoping that the solitude will allow him to hide from the demons of his past. He doesn’t expect to find the current keeper to still living on the premises with her siblings. He also didn’t expect to find a beautiful, feisty woman angry at him for his inability to man the light. Ryan’s inabilities begin to cause danger for others, and he and Caroline both realize that he is in no shape to run the light but is too proud to let anyone close enough to help him. Caroline is drawn to the wounded soul, but will Ryan’s past drive a wedge between them that even love can’t heal?;
Excerpt from Hearts Made Whole:
Ryan pushed away from the wall, a low growl welling up in his chest and spilling out. He'd listened to enough, and he couldn't take any more.
"She can stay," he said, ducking through the doorway into the sitting room.
The four grew silent and turned hard eyes upon him. Accusing, angry eyes. For a moment the face of that other boy flashed before him with the same accusing and angry eyes. But Ryan shoved the memory aside. He had to focus on what was happening here and now and not let his pain and problems distract him.
"Sarah can stay," he repeated although he had no idea who Sarah was. "In fact, you can all stay." Maybe the war had turned him into a monster, but he wasn't the kind of man who would kick a family out of their home–not without them having somewhere to go.
Caroline stared at him with wide eyes, which were an interesting light shade of blue, the color of the summer sky in the full heat of the day with the smoke from campfires casting a haze. They didn't contain anger, only resignation and worry.
He hadn't paid attention to her features in the bedroom, but here in the brightly lit sitting room that overlooked the lake, he had a clear view of the heart shape of her face and the sleekness of her cheeks that only highlighted her pretty lips. Her straight hair was a warm honey brown. It fell in tousled disarray across her shoulders and dangled half way down her back.
The quilt had slipped from one of her shoulders, revealing a slender neck and the dip of her thin nightgown. Very thin nightgown. Although he hadn't meant to look in the bedroom earlier, he'd seen enough before he'd averted his attention to know she was slender yet womanly in all the right places.
Embarrassed, he shifted his attention to his bare toes. It had obviously been too long since he'd been around a pretty woman.
As if sensing the direction of his thoughts, she tugged the quilt back up and tightened her grip. "I don't understand. You're letting us stay?"
"I'll sleep in the boat house," he said.
He nodded. "I'm used to sleeping wherever I can find a dry place. Been doing it for the past few years. So several more nights bedding on the ground won't bother me."
She released a long breath. "Thank you."
He met her gaze then. And the gratefulness in the clear blue of her eyes made him want to do more for her.
"Stay the whole week," he offered.
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
Gallant ScoreRyan is a gentleman. He will go above and beyond to see that wrongs are made right. He is the first to admit that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that he is going to get his act together. When he first meets Caroline and her siblings, Ryan refuses to be the reason that they become homeless. He moves into the boathouse and lets the family live in the house. He takes Caroline’s brothers under his wing and teaches them things that they don’t get from their sisters.
Wounded ScoreRyan is wounded both physically and emotionally. He lost part of his hand in the war and that makes him self-conscious. He’s ashamed that he’s not the man he was before the war, and of the things he did during the war, or allowed to happen and did nothing to stop. Caroline’s gentleness slowly breaks through the walls he’s built around his heart. Ryan clings to the cross and the story his sister gave him before he left for the war and learns to find hope again. He learns that hope is strong when storms are running rampant.
Softie ScoreRyan isn’t the typical softie. He’s got a good heart. It’s buried beneath his hurts though. He shows his goodness in so many ways though. From how he allows Caroline and her family to stay at the lighthouse to how he spends time with Caroline’s invalid sister Sarah. Life has made him hard, but underneath it all, there is a man who cares about others.
Stupid StrikesAs much as I wish I didn’t have to rank him here, there are some things that causes him to have strikes here. Ryan is very dependent on opium and alcohol to dull the pain of his war related injuries. But he also uses it as an escape from the horrors of what he saw. Then when Ryan agrees to marry Tessa, Caroline’s sister, to save the girl’s reputation, I get it – he’s gallant. But seriously! Knowing he’d be tying himself into a loveless relationship while the woman he loves is being forced away, I have to give him some marks under the stupid score just because he’s so gallant at that. But it’s part of what makes him so wonderful.
Swoon ScoreI swooned over Ryan. Literally. Sure he’s handsome, especially after he’s cleaned up a bit. But what really caused me to swoon was that he does the right thing no matter the cost to him personally. With his determination to make restitution to the family he played a part in harming during the war, I pretty much melted. And then as he came to realize that he can’t change on his own, but needs the hope and salvation found in God, I swooned even more.
Jody Hedlund is the author of ten books. Her books are historicals that pull the reader into the story. She also has one young adult novel, An Uncertain Choice, that brings to life all things chivalrous. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves to connect with her readers through Facebook.
The FHF Exclusive Directly from the AuthorHero: Ryan Chambers (Actor Alex Pettyfer :)
Physical Description: After war he's thin and scraggly, sandy blond hair, brown eyes, scruffy face (that Caroline helps to shave).
Personality: Depressed, dealing with horrors of war, and haunted by his crimes
Clothes: 1865 post-civil war; plain attire
The Guest Hero GirlAbout Dawn: Dawn Janis lives in Houston, Texas with her cat, Kiki. She is an avid reader and reviews for several publishers. She works full time for the City of Houston’s Human Resources Department as a trainer at the Learning & Development Center. She also works on building her Mary Kay business. When she isn’t working or reading, she likes to hang out with her friends, watch movies, scrapbook, and crochet.