Lydia King knows what it’s like to be in need, so when she joins the Teaville Moral Society, she genuinely hopes 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 poor house herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the moral society’s president is her suitor’s mother. Her first task as a moral society member—to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town—should be easy . . . except he 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 foresee the harrowing complications that will arise from working together. When town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs—and hearts—truly align.
SERIES: Teaville Moral Society #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2016
“Was her desire to help no deeper than mere words?”
First of all… y’all are going to LOVE Lydia. Why? Well, many reasons. But specifically because she’s a READER! She can’t help herself. Waiting in Nicholas’ office for him to return, what does she do? Pilfers a book off his desk and starts reading it. (Can anyone else relate to that or just me?) When she’s struggling to find something in common with a woman she’s just met – a woman from a different socioeconomic background than her own – it only takes discovering this woman’s shared love of books for the walls to come down and an instant friendship to be made. And I know y’all can relate to that!
Nicholas? Swoony, gruff, more-tenderhearted-than-he-appears Nicholas? Also a READER! Just go ahead and get your swooning couches (or close facsimiles) ready because not only is Nicholas is a reader but he lets Lydia borrow his books. And he talks about them with her. And he wonders what she thinks about his favorite books. And he buys her a … but no. I can’t reveal that part. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. (I know, I know. I’m so mean.)
Their road to romance is a bit complicated by a couple of things.
First, Lydia is semi-engaged to another man… one who thinks reading is pretty much a waste of time (Dump him, Lydia. DUMP HIM NOW.) Second, the Teaville Moral Society which ironically enough brought Lydia and Nicholas together in the first place also threatens to be the major sticking point in their future happiness. I even cringe typing out “moral society” – can you imagine? I mean, at least we hide it with less obvious names now 😉 While some of the members of the moral society (like Lydia) probably really do have the best of intentions, I think it’s safe to assume that some of them (cough-cough Mrs. Little cough-cough) just enjoy being holier-than-thou and singing “hymns” with titles such as “The Lips That Touch Liquor Will Never Touch Mine.” Seriously. That was a real song.
In the process of “reforming” Nicholas, Lydia herself ends up being transformed. Thanks to Nicholas (swoon!) as well as a handful of women from Teaville’s red light district, she not only learns what it means to help the least of these but also gains a deeper understanding of who she is – and who she isn’t. I think that anyone who has ever been stretched out of their comfort zone will instantly embrace Lydia’s story. Anyone who has stood at the threshold of “safe” versus “risky” will identify with both her and Nicholas and their journey.
And even though A Heart Most Certain is set in early 1900s Kansas, its message and insights are just as timely for today. Because women and girls my niece’s age and younger are still being forced into prostitution due to a variety of circumstances. Because the church is still full of people who like to be self-righteous as well as people who risk reputation and safety to help the marginalized. Because we still live in the constant struggle between the two sides, in the church and within ourselves. Because “the least of these” could be any one of us with the shifting of a few minor circumstances. And because the same Jesus who died for you also died for me … and He also died for the self-righteous and the marginalized and the prostitute and the impoverished and the corrupt. He died for the “good girl” and He died for the “bad girl”, and He’s the only One who sees past the exterior to know which one really marks our hearts. This theme is what elevates A Heart Most Certain beyond a mere romance (though that aspect to the story is quite dreamy) and makes it a book that everyone needs to read.
Bottom Line: A book set over 100 years ago has important things to say to our world today, and A Heart Most Certain accomplishes its message through a delicious love story that will certainly head straight to every bookworm’s heart. Melissa Jagears is at the top of her game with this new series, with these characters, and with this story in particular, and I’m quite looking forward to the next books in the Teaville Moral Society series.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Love it!!!
KissingBook Level: 3 / WILL forget to breathe on occasion!
Carol Award winning writer, Melissa Jagears, is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian Historical Romance into the wee hours of the night. She’s the author of the Unexpected Brides Series with Bethany House. The prequel ebook novella, Love by the Letter, is her ACFW Carol Award winning novella and is free to try. You can learn more about her, her books, and where she hangs out online at www.melissajagears.com
Other Books in this Series
Other Books by Melissa Jagears
What about you? What’s another historical fiction book you’ve read lately that seemed very timely for us today?