Eagle Harbor, Michigan
In a Town Mired in Darkness,
She May Shine the Light They Need
Running from the mistakes of her past, Tessa Taylor heads to the uppermost reaches of Michigan, planning to serve as the new teacher to the children of miners. She quickly learns the town had requested a male teacher, but Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since it’s too late to replace her. Tessa can’t help but thank him and say she is in his debt.
Determined to make herself irreplaceable once spring thaw arrives, Tessa throws herself into her work, and soon two students have decided Miss Taylor is the right match for their grieving father. At the same time, charming assistant lightkeeper Alex Bjorklund makes his interest known, surprising Tessa, who has never had men fight for her hand before. But not all is well as she feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.
Eagle Harbor is a brutal place at the best of times. It’s a mining town on the coast of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a remote outpost paralyzed by the absolute power of a corrupt mine supervisor. To cross him is to risk losing everything from your job to your life. Tessa’s students are young because the older ones are already working in the mine. When she sets up night classes for the workers, she incurs the wrath of the man in charge who shows his disapproval in the most tragic of circumstances. A few brave souls have attempted to write to the mine’s owner but their mail is intercepted at the company store. Only the lighthouse keepers have any independence, but they’re still in touching distance of the evil pervading the town.
Tessa was introduced in the previous title of Jody Hedlund’s Beacons of Hope series, but she’s changed in the five years that have passed. She’s now a teacher wanting to get away from her past and from lighthouses. She’s idealistic and ambitious but every effort to improve the lives of her students and their families is blocked by Updegraff. If he fires her before the spring thaw, Tessa could find herself homeless and hungry. Her only sanctuary appears to be lighthouse.
The majority of Undaunted Hope makes for bleak reading. The sense of foreboding grows as each chapter passes. Updegraff stalks the town, his menacing presence almost supernatural. I wondered how many more would have to suffer before the spring thaw came. Despite its depressing nature, however, I couldn’t stop reading because – as the title implies – there was hope for a positive ending. There’s also a nice payoff for readers of the entire Beacons of Hope series and it’s connected to a rough-hewn cross introduced in the first book.
Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic Advance Reader Copy of Undaunted Hope, which I downloaded from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read Undaunted Hope? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 05 January 2016
Page Count: 384