A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

I love celebrating great books – and this author holds a special place in my heart because she was one of the first authors I read who really inspired me in Christian fiction. Yes, yes, I DO love the fact that her kissing scenes are OUT OF THIS WORLD (#kissingbooksrock), but I also appreciate her depth of story and complexity. Oh…and did I mention the kissing scenes? 😉 To celebrate some of her stories, today I’m reposting my review of her novel, A Hope Undaunted, which is probably one of my FAVORITES for Julie’s books.

About the Book

What happens when the boy she loved to hate becomes the man she hates to love?

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O’Connor is the epitome of the new woman–smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband–good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

My Thoughts

An Undaunted Hope.png

(Review originally published September 2010.)

Well, the Kissing Queen is back with her newest novel, A Hope Undaunted, and let me just tell you guys – you will not be disappointed. Cluny McGee (aka Luke) is a FABULOUS hero. Fabulous. Rivals Collin – and that says a lot.

And Katie O’Connor is SUCH an adorable brat. If you’ve followed Julie Lessman’s books at all, you’ll have met most of the characters in A Hope Undaunted – and Julie has a beautiful way of bringing out those stories, keeping them consistent, and giving the reader a feel for the dynamics of a close-knit family.

And let me just tell you – there are so many varied types of love that Julie introduces in the story, the reader gets an opportunity to cringe, laugh, and hope along with the O’Connors – and particularly Katie and Luke McGee.

Two things:

  1. 1. Prepare your heart for a LOOOOONG agonizing journey of conflict.

Did I say long? How about agonizing? The reader is suffering and waiting right along with Katie O’Connor as her heart is pitched, pulled, and pried in various directions without any hope for true love. Or at least the true love her soul craves in Luke McGee. I ended up holding my breath more times than I can count, and endlessly wanted to email Julie Lessman to say – “What ARE you doing to these poor people?!?”

2. (And I CAN’T believe I’m writing this) I could have taken another whopper of a kiss at the end, Jules. I mean, after all that heart trauma of the last 150 pages, another kiss-me-till-I’m –dazed liplocker would have been a generous reward 😉

I COULDN’T put the book down.

 HAD. To. Finish. IT.

An Undaunted Hope2.pngWhich is the hallmark sign of a good book. No surprise there, if Julie Lessman’s name is on the cover. It’s a fabulous story about what true love really looks like and how it can often surprise us – especially those of us who want to have our lives all figured out ahead of time. But it’s also about sacrifices of the heart for the good of others. And sacrifices are painful.

But – as the old adage goes – no pain, no gain.

Read the book for the treasure chest at the end of the marathon journey.

Go Julie. Go Revell. Keep those passion-filled books coming!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Published September 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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About the Author

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.”

Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

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Isle of Hope Blog Tour – Julie Lessman

isleofhopebanner1Yesterday was National Author Day, and I’m honored to get to celebrate an author’s release this week who has been such an encouragement to me. For over five years, I’ve been blessed with Julie Lessman’s stories and her friendship, and now I’m excited to celebrate her newest (and first contemporary) novel, Isle of Hope.

isleofhopeJulie never fails to include three key components into her novels.

  1. Romantic Tension
  2. A compelling story
  3. Faith

(Plus lots of kisses, but I figured that goes along with the ‘romantic tension’ thing) J

And don’t forget Julie loves to throw in that secondary romance of her older characters – which, to me, was an even more compelling and authentic romance in Isle of Hope than the younger characters’ romance, and making her themes of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘hope’ even more beautiful.

This story, at its naked core, is about forgiveness. A cast of broken people come together on the pages to find the ultimate healing through forgiveness, in its various forms. Lacey embodies the story’s heart as a woman whose past is littered with mistakes that have injured all the people she loves, especially the man she was supposed to marry eight years before. Her purpose in returning home after all those years of simmering bitterness is to seek forgiveness. Isle of Hope is an appropriate place for her to embark on this journey of reconciliation, healing, and, of course, hope. That’s what almost every character in the story is looking for. From the ‘hope’ of a second romance even as one grows older, to the hope of forgiveness for breaking a fiancé’s heart, to the craving of healing between a father and a daughter, Julie Lessman’s novel provides the answer of ‘hope’ in each character in her novel.

isleofhopejulieNow, if you are an avid reader of Julie’s books, you’ll discover a few differences about this one. The faith thread is much more overt in Isle of Hope than in any of her other novels, which provides opportunity for her to share a deeper understanding of the reconciliation and healing of the Gospel.

Another slight difference is the pacing of this book. Because of the storyline taking a longer focus on faith, the pacing may not feel as fast as in her previous books, which may suit wounded readers well as Lessman continually reminds them in each fictional relationship of God’s outpouring of grace as a balm to cure to most broken souls.

And though the kisses seemed more tender than spicy, (and there were still some spicy ones) the overall focus of the book was more about piecing together lives with hope and forgiveness than being swept away in a lover’s embrace (unless the ‘lover’ was the Lover of our souls).

This novel was a beautiful story and one that will remind you of how much you are loved by a Mender of broken things. Definitely a worthwhile read from Julie Lessman.

What people are saying:

“Emotionally captivating and spiritually challenging” — Denise Hunter.

“Lush details, dynamic characters, and a storyline that keeps you turning the pages” — Beth Vogt

“A delight!” — Becky Wade

Fingerprints of Grace

keygoldbackgroundSo, it’s been a long week of work and family. Some of the fam have some sort of cough/congestion/sore throat, so it can make the days get a little longer – but for the most part, everyone has kept the complaining low and hugs high. 🙂

In the middle of this tiring week, something else happened besides crazy coughs and sniffly nights. Four amazing ladies read (or are reading) my debut novel and sent me encouragement. Some times it’s easy to get lost in the middle of the everyday struggles, and I’m always in wonder by God’s gracious touches of his grace. What those little words of encouragement can do to change the tone of an entire week!

Maybe even an entire life!

Years ago I was having a talk with one of my nieces as she was struggling with some personal challenges and she said, “But I don’t see God. I don’t feel Him. How can you tell me that He loves me.”

Good question. What person hasn’t asked that at some point or other.

I said – “Well, his little fingerprints are all through your life if you look. In my love for you. In your uncle’s love for you. In your parents’ love for you. In the way your teachers spend extra time trying to encourage you. In the laughter you bring to your cousins, and the laughter they send back. Maybe we both need to start looking for his fingerprints and we’ll remember that God is right here – always working in our lives.”

So Laura Frantz, Julie Lessman, Dawn Crandall, and Jean-Marie VunCannon – Thank you for being those fingerprints of grace in my life this week!

Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman

ImageA few things you can always count on in a Julie Lessman novel:

  1. Romantic tension
  2. Sassy, strong-willed heroines
  3. Broody, stubborn heroes
  4. A happily ever after

With her newest novel, Dare to Love Again, she keeps up her reputation…except for a lessening in the kisses-department – but the romantic tension is still steaming between headstrong and wounded, Allie McClare and hard-nosed, steely policeman, Nick Barone (with a long ‘e’). The repartee between these two is probably one of the best things about Dare to Love Again. He’s been burned by the selfish rich, she’s been burned by shallow men, so both have cultivated sharp tongues to hide their broken hearts. IT’s a fantastic pairing of wit, attraction, and mutual mending in all the right places J

Another wonderful reading by a fast-paced writer with a pension for tension. It will leave you wanting more kisses and definitely some answers to unrequited love in the subplot romance between Cait and Logan, that’s why I’ll be waiting for the third book of Julie’s Heart of San Francisco series to help ease the longing for answers between those two.

Make sure you take the time and enjoy this wonderful story of two broken souls finding healing in the most unexpected places.


This book is available in January 2013 from Revell, Baker Publishing Group. It was provided by Baker Publishing Group and gladly reviewed by me.

Having some fun with Julie Lessman!

So, I just finished reading Julie Lessman’s newest novel, Love at Any Cost – and I posted my review earlier.

Well, last week I had to pick up a costume for my youngest son’s musical, and while in the costume store I got…distracted!

I’m notorious for getting distracted. Look what I discovered!!!! 🙂


Springs of Inspiration with Julie Lessman

ImageShe’s known as the “Kissing Queen” of Edgy Inspirational Fiction. Her historical romances entertwine historical detail, family sagas, and high romantic tension – but more than that she writes novels strumming with the heartbeat of redemption.

Julie Lessman’s novels may leave you breathless, but not before giving you a spiritual anchor before you fall 🙂

She’s an amazing encourager, especially for those of us floundering around on unpubblished island.and her joy in the Lord is contagious.

AND I just HAD to put in this CUTE pic of Julie and Casey….just because they are both so daggone adorable!

Let’s see what she has to ‘inspire’ us with today 🙂

1.) Favorite inspirational scene from my work?
Not sure if it’s my favorite, but it’s definitely one, and that would be a forgiveness scene from A Passion Denied between the hero John Brady and his priest mentor friend Father Mac. The reason I love it so is because I LOVE King David, who was the one person in the Bible God called “a man after His own heart,” and yet he was such a sinner, just like me! Here’s the clip:
He heard Father Mac flinch, the faint intake of breath piercing Brady’s consciousness anew. He was an infidel. A lost soul. A man who committed vile sins to gratify his own flesh.
He staggered to his feet, suddenly craving the numbing effect of the bottles he’d stolen from Michael’s stash. “I’d rather you leave, Matt. I feel sick and need to lie down.”
A firm grip fisted his arm. “No, John, we need to deal with this now. Once and for all.”
Brady jerked away, his eyes itching with tension. “And how do you propose to do that, Matt? What exactly do you have? A potion or magic formula that will make it all go away?”
Father Mac stared. The brown of his eyes deepened with intensity in a face that radiated pure peace and calm. “No potion, John, and no formula. Just the saving blood of Jesus Christ.”
The impact of Matt’s words pierced his heart. He looked away. “Maybe that’s not enough this time.”
“It’s always enough, John.” Father Mac pulled out a chair. “Sit. Please?”
Brady hesitated, then did as he asked, slowly sinking into the chair. He leaned his elbows on the table and put his face in his hands. “How can God forgive something like this?”
Father Mac exhaled and sat down beside him. He placed a hand on his shoulder. “He does it all the time. I know a man who committed adultery and then murdered his lover’s husband, but God forgave him.”
Brady looked up with shock in his eyes.
A faint smile shadowed Matt’s lips. “In fact, he called him a man after his own heart.”
“King David?”
Father Mac nodded. He removed his hand from Brady’s shoulder and took a drink of his coffee. He wrinkled his nose. “Cold. Want me to warm it up?”
Father Mac didn’t wait for his answer, but dumped both cups and replaced them with hot. He set them on the table and sat back down. “King David was an unusual character. Loved God with all of his heart, but had this unfortunate flaw.” Father Mac paused to taste his coffee, then quirked his lips. “He was human. For instance, one day he’s dancing before the Lord in a linen ephod, not giving a whit that his wife thinks he’s making a fool of himself. Then down the road a bit, he’s lusting after a married woman he sees taking a bath on the roof of her house. And what does he do, this man who loves God with all of his heart? He takes her to his bed, then has her husband sent to the battlefront to be killed.”
Father Mac leaned in, his gaze intent. “He committed adultery and murder, yet he’s still the only man in the Bible God refers to as ‘a man after His own heart.’ Now why is that, I wonder? I’ll tell you why. Because David was a man who had a love affair with God. Imagine that—emotionally involved with the God of the Universe. Trusted Him, worshiped him, sought after him—and all without restraint. Did he mess up? You bet. Did he repent? With all of his heart, aching inside whenever he offended his God. Why? Because he had a Father-son relationship with him, loved him and wanted to please him.” Father Mac hesitated, slowly tracing his finger along the rim of his cup. He finally raised his eyes to capture Brady with a fixed stare. “Just like you, John.”
(I LOVE this scene, Jules)
2.)  Favorite Scripture when in a writing slump?
Oh, that’s easy — the #1 Scripture I’m betting most authors say — Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
Jules, thanks so much for reminding us ofour strength in the Lord!
Wonderful reminder 🙂

Springs of Inspiration with Myra Johnson

My apologies.

Since my family moved to a new house a week ago, I’ve had lots of trouble getting online. Unfortunately, it’s messed up my Springs of Inspiration schedule, but I’m hoping we can get back on track this week.

Myra Johnson was supposed to be my guest on Friday, so I want to share her response today. Jamie Carie should be here on Wednesday and Julie Lessman on Friday.

Let me just say that I got a ‘sneak peek’ into Myra’s WIP and I LOVE it!!!! She peaked my special interest – Autism. That’s all I’ll say unless she wants to bait you with more. It’s such a SWEET story!!!

So let’s see what Myra has to say about Inspiration!

 1. This excerpt is from my debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas. Thirteen-year-old Lissa has just confessed some very serious meddling to Natalie, her mother.  Natalie also has much to be forgiven for, and in this scene they finally reach a place of healing.

 Lissa joined her next to the library table, silently intertwining her fingers with her mother’s. Her gaze fell upon the ceramic baby Jesus, sleeping in the manger between the kneeling figures of Mary and Joseph. “I guess Jesus is the only kid in the universe who never goofed up and did something stupid.”

 “I bet Mary and Joseph would disagree.” Mom released a gentle laugh. “I can just imagine how worried they were the time they searched and searched for him, only to find him talking with the teachers in the temple.”

 Lissa’s stomach tightened. “Like you and Dad worried when I ran away and hid in Granddad’s barn?”

 “Exactly.” Mom fixed her with a sad-eyed stare and squeezed her hand. “I worried, yes, but more for selfish reasons, because I didn’t think I could handle one more problem. I was hurting so badly myself that I didn’t even try to understand the pain you were going through after your dad and I separated.”

 Lissa curled her tongue over her upper lip. “I didn’t try very hard to understand how you were feeling, either. You were so upset about Grandma, but I just wanted to find a way to get you and Dad back together. Mom, I . . . ” She drew in a shaky breath, afraid to meet her mother’s eyes. “I have to tell you something.”

 “Lissa, you know you can tell me anything, don’t you?” Mom gulped suddenly, her lips flattened into an embarrassed frown. “Okay, maybe you don’t know that. I haven’t been very easy to talk to for quite a while now.” She led Lissa to the chair and ottoman, where they sat facing each other. She clasped Lissa’s hands. “But I’m listening now. What is it, sweetie?”

 Taking courage from her mother’s reassurance, Lissa inhaled deeply and poured out the same story she’d confessed to her father two days ago. Only when she finished did she lift her eyes to meet her mother’s stunned gaze. “Are you mad? Will you ever forgive me?”

 Long moments of silence passed while Lissa tried to read the myriad expressions flitting across her mother’s face. Everything she’d expected was there—shock, disbelief, con- fusion, regret. Then, finally, understanding.

 Mom squeezed her hand. “Remember what Grandma told me the day she got so sick?”

 Lissa spoke softly as the remembered terror of that afternoon ripped a wider hole in her heart. “She said it wasn’t your fault. She told you to forgive and learn to love.”

 “It’s taken me until this morning for those words to sink in. Grandma never once blamed me for not being there to help her the day she had her stroke. But I wouldn’t listen to the truth—about what happened to her, about what forgiveness means, about how much you and your dad needed me.” Her voice became breathy. “About how much I needed your dad and you. I didn’t believe I deserved to be loved, so I pulled away from everyone I cared about most.”

 Lissa sniffled. “I kind of feel that way, too, after what I did to you.”

 “Then it’s time we both learned that’s not what families are all about.” With misty eyes Mom glanced toward the nativity scene. “God gave his most precious gift to us by creating a special family. I’m sure it was so Jesus could learn firsthand about loving and forgiving.” Her eyes twinkled. “Even when we really, really goof up.”

 “I think I get it.” A pleasant warmth spread under Lissa’s heart. “Family should mean we don’t ever have to wonder if we’re good enough or if we’re forgiven. Our family loves us no matter what.” 

2. One verse I find very encouraging is taken from Philippians 1:6.  “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This verse reminds me that God is in perfect control. Whatever He calls me to do, whether in my writing or in any other aspect of my life, I can trust God to provide the resources I need and to bring about the results He desires.

 Thanks so much, Myra! BEAUTIFUL reminder of God’s work in us. His Call. His Talents. Our Peseverance.

Love it!

The Yearning

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent – the time in which many Christians celebrate the ‘coming of the Messiah’.

Emmanuel – God with Us.

In celebration of this wonderful God-gift and in anticipation of His coming, our choir is singing a series of fantastic choir anthems. The first song is a new arrangement known as The Yearning by Craig Courtney. The words to this piece are absolutely beautiful.

There is a yearning of hearts weighed down by ancient grief and centuries of sorrow

There is a yearning in hearts that in the darkness hide – and in the shades of death abide, a yearning for tomorrow

Later on the piece reads:

There is a yearning for the One who visited His own and by His death for sin atoned

to bring to us salvation

Apart of beautiful words, the music stems from a feel of ‘yearning’. A call to all of our hearts that the Hope for our Salvation is not only real, but has already come. Jesus Christ

The fulfillment of every yearning in our hearts.

Follow this link and enjoy a new Christmas song for the season – http://www.jwpepper.com/10276203.item

And speaking of songs – starting in December, I will be hosting Twelve Songs of Christmas – a celebration of famous Christmas songs and some of your favorite authors with chime in as to why it is his/her favorite!

Come join me for visits from Julie Lessman, DiAnn Mills, Ruth Logan Herne, Missy Tippens, Siri Mitchell, Rachel Hauck, Mary Connealy, Deeanne Gist, and many more!

Conference Tips with Julie Lessman

With her brand new release, A Heart Revealed, and her upcoming conference workshop entitled A Kiss is NOT just a Kiss, Julie Lessman is as hot as ever 😉 Have you seen her latest pictures! Wowzers. Keith is one lucky man 🙂

I just finished reading A Heart Revealed  and it was beautiful. The slow spiritual arc of Julie’s characters is always well-done and reveals the heart of her fiction. (And then, of course, she adds the ‘heat’ of her fiction 😉  Oooh, sounds good. Julie Lessman, fiction with heart and heat 🙂 A new tagline, Jules?

Who better to start off this week with a bit of excitement and conference tips than Julie Lessman herself?

I’m a BIG Lessman fan because she is excellent at crafting novels that not only inspire the passion between a man and a woman, but a deeper passion for Jesus. Her fiction is called ‘edgy’, but I like life on the edge – so the temperature in her books suit me JUST fine! 🙂

To me, it’s sexual tension with class, heat without the bodice ripping, and passion with purity.

So what are The Kissing Queen’s tips for conference?

1.) Eye makeup remover … for all the times I cry during Rachel’s incredible worship, in Brandilyn’s prayer room and up in my room when I’m just feeling lonely (a bit of a joke, but not really).
2.) Laptop to catch up on e-mails, blog/interview/giveaways that always go on in Sept. due to book release.
3.) I-phone programmed with all the phone numbers of friends I am dying to see, especially the Seekers.
Thanks for the opportunity to respond, Pep. Big hugs coming your way in St. Loo.
Always my pleasure, Julie – and I’ll take all the hugs you want to send my way.
You can find out more about Julie’s books on her website – www.julielessman.com
And if you’re headed to St. Louis next week, make sure you stop in on her workshop with author, Ruth Axtell Morren.
Bring a fan.

Conference Tips Lineup for the Week

Time for another week of conference tips and who is coming to visit??

Monday – The Kissing Queen herself – Julie Lessman

Tuesday – Julie’s ACFW partner and fabulous author, Ruth Axtell Morren

Wednesday with Carol Finalist, Ruth Logan Herne

Thursday – Debut author and encourager-extraordinairre, Keli Gwyn

Friday – Seeker and sweetheart, Audra Harders

Saturday – historical and contemporary author, Siri Mitchell

Stop by and learn from the best.