Hearts Set Free

Written by Jess Lederman⎮ Narrated by Alison Maglaughlin

Author: Jess Lederman
Narrator: Alison Maglaughlin
Length: 12 hours and 24 minutes
Publisher: Jess Lederman
Released: January 06, 2020
Genre: Literary Fiction; Christian

An Epic Tale of Love, Faith, and the Glory of God's Grace

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Synopsis

"Readers of inspirational fiction will love this moving story that affirms the power of God's mercy." (Publisher's Weekly)
The Alaska Territory, 1925: Thirteen-year-old Luke couldn’t be prouder of his father, whose heroic efforts have just saved thousands of lives. but his world turns upside down when dad abandons his family for a beautiful reporter from New York. Luke's mother, Yura, vows to win back her husband and kill the woman who stole his heart, and she and Luke embark on an epic cross-country quest that will lead them to the Nevada desert, and to truths - and terrors - of which they'd never dreamed.
Reno, Nevada, 1930: Boxer David Gold, a Bible-school dropout who fights as the Pummelin' Preacher, is nearing the end of his career and feeling hopelessly far from God. Then one day, a former call girl who hails from a railway stop called Las Vegas shows up at his door. She's part of a rag-tag congregation whose pastor has been murdered; the killer is still at large, they haven't a cent to pay David, but they need a fighting man to shepherd the tiny Church of the Heart Set Free. Her proposal seems sheer madness - after all, he's not really a preacher, how can he possibly do these people any good? But the Spirit is at work; it's already brought a mother and son from Alaska into his life, and now it's telling him to say yes....
Las Vegas, 2011: Science Cable T.V. big-wig Tim Faber is an arrogant narcissist determined to prove that mankind has no need of God, while his producer, Joan Reed, is trying to regain the faith of her youth. They've come to Vegas to meet with 99-year-old Luke and David Gold’s grandson, Daniel, two men who hold the key to a mystery they must solve - and answers that will forever change their lives.
"Bold and forthright writing that would set any heart on fire." (Christian blogger Miranda A. Uyeh)

Jennifer's Review

4 Stars

Hearts Set Free is a powerful, moving tale of forgiveness. It isn’t the easiest topic to listen to, especially if you are dealing with a battle of forgiveness yourself, but that makes it even more important.

Jess Lederman does not come off as “preachy”, which I appreciated. Instead, he depicts real-life struggles that the listener can appreciate and find relatable. The picture he paints of God's forgiveness is one of warmth, love, and acceptance. I found it especially comforting during these times.

Hearts Set Free combines tales of historical fiction with more contemporary fiction. This combination works to provide “something for everyone” and to emphasize the everlasting affect of God's word. It's comforting to know that the challenges we face today are not unique to us. Each generation before has experienced similar trials.

The overarching message of Hearts Set Free is layered and complex, yet it is presented in a straightforward manner that will resonates long after the final chapter.

There is a warning for strong language, however. I didn't particularly mind, although I was taking a little bit back at first. This use of language would keep me from recommending Hearts Set Free to my grandmother, who might otherwise enjoy it. This is an audiobook I would recommend to those who enjoy inspirational, Christian fiction. I'm also thinking about recommending it to my Christian Reader's group. There's something to be found for everyone in Hearts Set Free and you never know who is in need of hearing this message.

Alison Maglaughlin has a clear, youthful voice. Her articulation and pacing were pleasant. Her tone was believable as young and old, when appropriate. The audio quality sounded a little bit "tinny" or echoing at times, but that did not diminish my enjoyment. I also appreciated the musical melodies between chapters that marked the beginning of a new story. I enjoyed this performance and would not hesitate to recommend Hearts Set Free as an audiobook.

This audiobook was provided by its author, Jess Lederman, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thanks, Jess!

Meet the Author: Jess Lederman

After I graduated with a degree in music from Columbia University, a lust for expensive pianos drew me into an unexpected career in finance. It turned out that I had a knack for business; I gained much that the world had to offer and became a hedonist, a gambler who haunted the poker rooms of Las Vegas, and an arrogant atheist. I’ve written fiction for most of my life, and at one point I quit work to devote myself to writing a novel. During that time, my late first wife, Teri, and I lived in Paris, down the street from where Hemingway once lived, and later in the mountains of Idaho. But the novel was never published, for my soul had not yet awakened, and I did not yet have anything important to say. So I went back to the business world.

One day, when we were living in Dallas, Teri heard a radio interview with Francis Collins, an eminent scientist who wrote The Language of God, which tells the story of his journey from atheism to becoming a disciple of Christ.  Collins’ book led us to the writings of C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald*, who became the midwives of our rebirth from above.

There’s no hiding from the Hound of Heaven, once He’s on your trail!

Several years later, Teri was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and we left Dallas and the business world behind and moved to a small town in Alaska. There we looked out on the glory of God’s creation and read to our heart’s content during the last two years of her life. Faced with tragedy, we learned  to trust utterly in Him, and He blessed us with the peace that surpasses all understanding.

It was after Teri’s death, while I was still living in the far north, that the idea for Hearts Set Free—which opens in the Alaska Territory in 1925was born. People who know that the novel contains autobiographical elements (and several historical characters) sometimes ask me, “How much of the story is true?’ And I answer, “Perhaps twenty percent—and the rest is even more true!” What drives my writing is the desire to convey truths that transform lives. Truths of the heart.

In 2013, I met a wonderful woman—my current wife, Ling—and soon we began talking about having children. “Impossible!” said our doctors. “According to your test results, there’s no chance at all, even using  the latest techniques.” Of course, within two months of that pronouncement, Ling was pregnant with little David, who just turned three, and we subsequently adopted Daniel, who’s now twelve.

After David’s birth, we moved to southwest Washington. I’m currently at work on a novel set in Las Vegas in 1955, and, when I’m not writing or chasing my sons around, can usually be found at the piano playing Chopin nocturnes for Ling.

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