Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Forever Safe" by Jody Hedlund

Marriage of convenience novels are my favorite. But a marriage of convenience novel that's also reminiscent of Runaway Bride? What could be better?

Race Point, Massachusetts, 1876 

Will she ever be able to stop running, even when she believes she’s finally safe? Heiress to a vast fortune, Victoria Cole has everything she wants, including the perfect fiancé. Having left two other men at the altar, Victoria is sure that now she’s found her true love and will finally live happily ever after. As her wedding draws near, however, Victoria’s life is threatened. To keep her safe, Victoria’s father hires a bodyguard. Tom Cushman’s number one priority is protecting his clients, which means no personal entanglements. But he’s never guarded someone as beautiful and winsome as Victoria. 

After a near-kidnapping, the wedding is cancelled, and Tom hides Victoria at Cape Cod’s Race Point Lighthouse until her attacker can be found. Appointed as assistant light keeper with Victoria posing as his wife, Tom believes the isolation of the lighthouse will keep her safe. As Victoria struggles to live without familiar luxuries, her heart betrays her with growing feelings for her protector. 

Determined to help Tom stop fleeing from his haunted past, can the runaway bride learn to face her own fears? With the attacker closing in, will both of them ever be able to stop running and find the safety they long for?

I have long been a fan of Jody Hedlund's historical romances. My favorite of her novels has always been A Noble Groom (swoon!), but Forever Safe is giving it a run for its money!

Forever Safe is about heiress Victoria Cole, who is engaged to fiancé number three when the story begins. Her current fiancé Nathaniel seems like a nice enough man, but it's obvious that Victoria doesn't love him. It's also obvious that someone is out to harm Victoria. When her current bodyguard is injured, Tom Cushman agrees to become her temporary bodyguard. As the threats against Victoria increase, the wedding is postponed, and Tom and Victoria's father decide to hide her away at the lighthouse run by Tom's father. In order for Tom to be able to stay with Victoria, the two marry, though the marriage is to be temporary. Of course, we romance readers all know how that will turn out!

At first, Victoria was the classic spoiled rich girl, and I found it hard to like her. But as the novel progressed, Victoria grew so much as she learned to care for others—specifically Tom and Tom's mother Zelma. I especially loved Victoria's relationship with Zelma, who is disabled.

And then there's James, Tom's father. James might be my favorite character in the novel! He loooooves Zelma passionately. PDA is his best friend. He senses a distance between Tom and Victoria, and, believing them to be married in every sense, he continually pushes them together. Tom and Victoria's (smoking hot) first kiss is due to James's insistence. I got such a kick out of him!

Sparks abound between Victoria and Tom, and there's never any doubt that the two are meant to be together. Their path to happiness isn't easy, however, and I did find the roadblocks to be pretty realistic. They both had major fears to contend with (Victoria's fears are what led her to be a runaway bride in the first place), but ultimately—of course—they worked through them.

There's also the question of who is out to get Victoria, but I really didn't care too much about that—I was just there for the romance! I did figure out the villain's identity fairly early on, and I was surprised it took Tom so long. But that's a minor complaint, as the romance is just so good!

Though Forever Safe isn't a perfect novel, it does feature the strongest romance in the Beacons of Hope series (so far!), which makes it my favorite. 4-1/2 stars.

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of Hedlund's Beacons of Hope novels Hearts Made Whole (5 stars) and Undaunted Hope (4 stars); the Michigan Brides novels Unending Devotion (5 stars) and A Noble Groom (5 stars); and her YA books The Vow (4 stars), An Uncertain Choice (5 stars), and A Daring Sacrifice (4-1/2 stars).

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling historical fiction author. She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.

Find Jody online: website, Twitter, Facebook

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book myself and chose to review it. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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