In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.
Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.
Hedlund's debut novel is no light-hearted romp through history. Instead, this double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest for unpublished writers takes on 1650s England during the final days of Cromwell's reign. The Puritans had enjoyed years of freedom, but as Royalists begin to regain power, preachers like John Costin face danger. Costin's wife dies, leaving four children behind, one of them blind and another, newborn. Elizabeth Whitbread, who sees children in need, volunteers to become Costin's housekeeper. She comes to love the children and, eventually, John, yet she is bound by strict Puritan standards and her promise to marry another. Elizabeth faces the threats of a Royalist, the rebukes of powerful Puritans, and the turmoil of her feelings as political events threaten all she holds dear. Hedlund, who based her tale on the life of John Bunyan, writes well of life in Puritan England, though the middle drags and readers will become annoyed with the stubbornness of Costin. Yet this is a fine beginning for a writer we'll hear from again.