Controversy. Scandal. Desperation. These words were not ones I expected to use when describing the newly released Bethany House book entitled “A Heart Most Certain”, written by new-to-me author Melissa Jagears. The lovely cover image, the series name of “Teaville Moral Society”, and even the back-cover synopsis did not reveal what this book was truly about. While the storyline and plot did surprise me greatly, I was not, however, disappointed in my hope for a wonderful story. It was simply wonderful in unexpected ways.
So, what am I talking about when I mentioned controversy and scandal and desperation? Well, the hero and heroine of the story, Nicholas and Lydia, meet and build a relationship through their shared charity work. What is their chosen charity, you ask? They provide assistance to the women who live and work in the red-light district of Teaville – namely, to prostitutes. If you are wondering if this makes for numerous morally-challenging scenes for a Christian Historical novel, the answer is yes, it most certainly does. But in the same respect, the scenes are not inappropriate because of pre-marital behavior between the primary characters, but are rather true-to-life examples of women who have taken a devastating path in life because they feel they have no other choice, or deserve no better. Ms. Jagears brings to light this extremely tricky topic, one that is relevant even today, with admirable depth and insight. Her words are thought-provoking, to say the least, and the morals woven throughout this emotion-laden story are profound. The characters are dynamic, and as we witness them transform through the course of the story we witness a portrayal of the true definition, Jesus’ definition, of charity.
This is one of the deepest and most thought-provoking novels I have read in a long while. Was it an easy read? No. Do I recommend it to young readers? Definitely not. For mature fans of Historical Fiction, however, I believe this book will not only prove to be a treasured addition to your collection, but will also bring about some internal, and perhaps external, debates about the true meaning of love, helping others, and charity. Of course, this book is not completely about morals and charity work… In fact, it is a well-rounded novel containing a good deal of mystery, adventure, romance, and drama, and I can’t wait for the next series installment. When all these features are combined as they are in “A Heart Most Certain”, you clearly have a story that is nearly impossible to put down, and that will stay with you long after you reach “The End”.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”