The Book that Impressed “The Death Star”–The Preacher’s Bride

Today is Free-for-All Friday, so it’s my choice for topics. Today I am going to do something a tad unusual. A book review. Now I don’t get asked to do a lot of these. I think it has something to do with my reputation preceding me. When you earn nicknames like “The Shredder” and “The Death Star,” you generally don’t have writers lining up around the block to hand over their baby. Fair enough. I do tend to be picky. Almost ten years as an editor has made me more than a little odd, and I do find it tough to read fiction without my Inner Red Pen tagging along. But I am a HUGE fan of Jody’s blog, so I figured I’d show some writer support and read her book. Boy am I glad I did!

I enjoy fiction and usually read a few chapters a day. I take the good and the bad. But, every once in a while, I am blessed with a rare opportunity to remember my life before the red pen, to recall how it felt to be a reader held captive by a story. This past Sunday, I cracked open Jody Hedlund’s The Preacher’s Bride. It’s a Christian Romance and really not the genre I ever read in my spare time. I figured out on page one that likely there wouldn’t be a single autopsy, explosion or car chase. But, the funny thing is that even though this book was so far from what I normally would read for pleasure, it caught me on the first page and didn’t let go until I had finished.

I sat glued to my couch all day. I would say, “Okay, I’ll just finish this chapter, and then I’ll get up.” Yeah, well I did that all the way to the end of the book. I read from 10:00 Sunday morning until 9:00 that night. Just to give some perspective, that has happened only 3 times in 8 years, and I generally read at least a book a week. Jody is a master of tightening the noose of conflict and suspense. Readers will love The Preacher’s Bride for the story, and writers should love her for the lessons her story can teach all of us about writing great fiction.

Jody’s novel breathes new life into the pages of history. The Preacher’s Bride is set in England right before the Puritans will be forced to leave for America to escape persecution. Jody drops the reader right into this historical setting and makes it once more alive and real, filled with real people with real lives and real problems. This love story is surrounded by death, disease, persecution, loss and hardship. Thus, when love does emerge, it is like the lone bud that struggles through the winter snows to remind us that life is good and right and worth fighting for.

Jody’s characters are rich, vibrant, and distinct. Her protagonists are wonderfully imperfect and multi-dimensional. I love how this story glorifies so many of the character traits that modern society overlooks—being a hard worker, having a heart for service, and genuinely giving to others. The heroine isn’t supermodel beautiful, but has tremendous qualities of the heart that make her beautiful, and better still, identifiable. The hero is flawed and real and noble. What’s the best of all is that Jody’s antagonists are deliciously wicked and create gripping conflict throughout. This is a romance with substance and grit that will leave you breathless. Jody does a brilliant job of layering conflict in a way that never allows the reader to grow too comfortable.

I highly, highly recommend this book, no matter what genre you normally read. The Preacher’s Bride is a page-turning treat that will make you laugh, cry and cheer. Great stories are great stories, plain and simple. Like all great stories, The Preacher’s Bride will leave you feeling encouraged and inspired, and we all could use more of that :D.

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  1. #1 by Tawna Fenske on October 8, 2010 - 4:46 pm

    Thanks for this terrific review! Like you, I don’t tend to read much Christian romance, but I love Jody’s blog and have been meaning to get my hands on this book. I’ll put it on the to-do list for the weekend, thanks!

    Tawna

  2. #2 by Jody Hedlund on October 8, 2010 - 5:45 pm

    WOW! Kristen, I’m blown away by your review! Thank you so much! It’s especially fun to hear a non-historical romance reader’s perspective!! I fully realize that my genre just won’t be for everyone, but I’m glad to hear that I could make your short-list of “unput-downables.” :-) Thank you, my dear! I’ll have to bookmark your review to come back to whenever I need a pick-me-up! :-)

  3. #3 by Keli Gwyn on October 8, 2010 - 10:52 pm

    Kristin, this is a fabulous review!! You really captured the essence of the book and shone the spotlight not only the wonderful story but on Jody’s talent as well. I loved your line, “Jody is a master of tightening the noose of conflict and suspense.” So true. I’ve been privileged to read her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, in manuscript form (I’m her CP), and I can assure you that it will be another page turner.

    • #4 by Kristen Lamb on October 9, 2010 - 12:34 am

      What a great job you have! I am seriously jealous. It was an excellent book, and I am the toughest of critics. My job is to rip apart works and I am trained to look for any hint of weakness…but Jody’s work grabbed me and sucked me right in. She is an unbelievably talenter author. Thanks, Keli for taking the time to comment. :D

  4. #5 by Julie on October 10, 2010 - 2:45 am

    I’m going to pick it up too – especially after reading this review! I love Jody’s blog, and while I don’t necessarily read Christian fiction, I do love historical fiction (I often wonder why they have to over-categorize). Anyway, next time I hit the bookstore, I’ll get it.

  5. #6 by barb7802 on October 10, 2010 - 3:07 pm

    Just like your other readers, I too will pick up the book. Thanks for giving such a great overview of story.

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