A Heart Most Certain, by Melissa Jagears
Lydia King knows what it’s like to be in need, so she joins the Teaville Moral Society hoping 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 poorhouse herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that his mother is the moral society’s president. Lydia’s first task as a moral society member – to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town – seems easy…until the man 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, thought Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresees the harrowing complications that will arise from working together, and when town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs – and hearts – truly align.
Throughout reading this story, the one thing that kept coming to mind was Pride and Prejudice. For as Mr. Darcy and Lizzy Bennett had to overcome their own shortcomings – particularly a prideful countenance for one and a judgmental outlook for the other, so do Lydia King and Nicholas Lowe.
Nicholas, in endeavoring to keep his charity work secret, was in fact trying to shield himself from the perceived self-righteous individuals in his church. He desired to avoid their anticipated scorn and condemnation over his choices of charitable patrons. But in doing so, he alienates himself from everyone as he automatically believes that all Christians are self-righteous and not willing to help the “least of these”.
Lydia, despite her sweet character, discovers that she holds a healthy amount of prejudice towards the more unsavory individuals in society. While she is willing to call out their sins and unlawful deeds, she is not so willing to show empathy towards their situation. She backs off of trying to directly assist in making their lives better and pulling them out of the dire straits they are in. She doesn’t like to be made uncomfortable and be in direct contact with the poorest of individuals.
A Heart Most Certain provided an interesting character study. Self-righteousness and prejudice are two flaws that often are thrown at the church and/or individual believers. One must remember that we all are sinners and have shortcomings – we will never be perfect on this side of heaven. As Nicholas and Lydia are to learn, we should also strive to have a heart open to seeing our shortcomings followed by a willingness to change.
I greatly enjoyed A Heart Most Certain¸ the debut novel for Melissa’s new series, “Teaville Moral Society” (note: there was also an e-novella released, Engaging the Competition, prior to this book), and will be looking forward to the next addition!
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.