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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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.

A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes

Oh la la! Seriously! Laurie Alice Eakes newest novel, A Necessary Deception, is a must read for the reader who likes a little bit of everything wrapped up into one book. There is mystery, danger, romance, revenge, chases, escapes, true love (anyone else feel like they are hearing the first few lines of the movie The Princess Bride?)

But all of those things are involved in this novel about God using people and situations to draw His children to Himself.

Young widow, Lydia Gale, desires to do the right thing – but what is the right thing? When she graciously pays one of her husband’s debts by helping a handsome French prisoner gain parole, it begins a chain reaction of scenes that will change her life forever. Threats, kidnappings, and mysterious exploits shake the foundations of Lydia’s life just as she is trying to calm the typical storms of her sisters’ entrance into Society.

It’s an elegant portrayal of the glamour and extravagance of the London Season with the true corruption of it all underneath the lace and manners. Even the illusive villain follows Eakes imagery of the ‘appearance’ of right – so by the end you’re wondering who is genuine and who is not.

Without a doubt the hero, Christien de Meusse, is a worthy portrayal of the opposite. Someone who should not be trusted, but whom Lydia can trust. And he’s SO tres bon to look at too 😉 My, oh my, what a great bunch of romantic tension between the two.

Laurie Alice Eakes spins a tale that keeps you guessing up until the end. Her historical detail is impeccable and the way she draws the reader into the period snares you into the story so that you cannot escape. With page-turning suspense and delicious romance, this book is a delight to read.

Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Hello, Hollywood by Janice Thompson

I LOVE humor!!!

It’s why I like to snuggle up to a snuggly person and watch movies like Sleepless in Seattle, or While You Were Sleeping, or Just Like Heaven or Leap Year or My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Oh wait – speaking of GREEK!

Janice Thompson’s new novel, Hello Hollywood (second in her Backstage Pass series) is just what I like to read. Funny, crazy at times, with a drool-worthy hero and a hilarious family. Poor Athena, from the first moment she steps on Stephen Cosse’s (aka Adonis) perfect feet, there is never a dull moment. One slapstick fall after another brings them together in the most unlikely of ways.

And they’re both such sweet people, but getting to be inside Athena’s head (and her imagination) makes for a fun ride on the roller coaster of ‘what next’.

It’s a hilarious journey of love framed in with the nostalgic Hollywood era and a band of quirky characters.

From the back of the book:

When it comes to love, one thing’s for sure–it doesn’t follow a script!

Athena Pappas is the head writer on Stars Collide, one of the most  popular sitcoms in television history. But when Vegas comedian Stephen Cosse is
brought in to beef up the show’s suddenly sagging ratings, she starts to worry about her job. Sparks fly as the competition–and attraction–between the two
writers heats up. Athena has never had a problem writing the romances of her characters. So why is her own love life so hard to script?

With humor and a Hollywood-insider viewpoint, Hello, Hollywood! delivers lots of laughs as Athena and Stephen discover that not being in control
of the plot of their lives might just be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Endorsements

“Romance, drama, fun–Hello, Hollywood! has it all.”–Jenny B. Jones, award-winning author of Save the Date and A Charmed Life
series

“Thoroughly delightful! A blend of contemporary life and romance with nostalgic snapshots of Hollywood’s golden age. Thompson writes with warmth and
humor, creating a world we can all escape to for a little while.”–Rachel Hauck, bestselling and award-winning author of Dining with Joy

this book arrives in October 2011 from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

 

The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz

Laura Frantz has proven her talents in yet another fabulously crafted historical romance. A sweeping tale of terrible loss,
unending determination, and love born through heartbreak, The Colonel’s Lady will take you on a journey through the anguish and treachery of war.

In the heart of Kentucky during the stirrings of the Revolutionary War, Roxanna Rowen finds herself orphaned, penniless, and left in the middle of
Kentucky territory  inside the solitary Fort Endeavor. Her father’s untimely death and the hostility of the surrounding Indians, leave her out of option – save one. Take her father’s place as scrivener for the notorious Colonel Cassius McLinn.

With God’s strength and her own determination, Roxanna takes on the brutality of war and the harsh frontier, but even a fort in the wilds of Kentucky territory may be nothing compared to the untamed heart of Cassius McLinn.

A wounded hero with a broken spirit but a will of iron, he commands both Indians and soldiers with a look, but is he in endanger of losing command of his own heart? Will the secret that binds his spirit wreck his chance to make a life with Roxanna, if they can survive the bloody threat outside the fort walls?

It is a beautiful journey of forgiveness and hope with magical interludes of romantic tension that are positively spellbinding.  Laura blends poetic rhythm and masterful detail to create a setting as real as a movie and characters that reach beyond the page to grip a reader’s heart. I was riveted, moved, and captured in the hands of a gifted storyteller.

Beautiful, Laura – absolutely beautiful.

Check out Laura’s other wonderful novels at her website at www.laurafrantz.net

Available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Provided by Baker Publishing Group and gladly read & reviewed by me.

A Week Review with Julie Lessman – A Heart Revealed

THIS JUST IN!

RUTH LOGAN HERNE TOLD ME THAT I COULD INTERRUPT OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM FOR A SPECIAL (AND VERY SELFISH) ANNOUNCEMENT. SHE SAID THAT JULIE WOULD UNDERSTAND.

I JUST RECEIVED WORD THAT I DOUBLE-FINALED IN THE GENESIS! YA AND CR. WOW!!!!!! PRAISE GOD AND…WOW! I’M OVERWHLEMED AND VERY SHOCKED.

NOW….BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG POST. MORE ON THIS EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT TOMORROW!

Well, do to a power outage last night, I’m running behind on my blog post.

And this is the LOOOOOONG awaited excerpt day too 🙂 An excerpt from Julie Lessman’s upcoming novel, A Heart Revealed. Of course, after you read the excerpt you’ll be dying for September to get here. Unfortunately, since there are four months between then and now, we’ll just have to use the wise-old addage, “All good things come to those who wait.”

I keep repeating that to make me feel better.

Anyway – so…. let’s get a glimpse of Emma and Sean’s story….shall we?

Here is an excerpt from A Heart Revealed where Emma Malloy (a married woman) and Sean O’Connor (a confirmed bachelor) encounter feelings for each other. Emma has bullied Sean into learning to dance because he is going to a wedding with the girl he is dating, Rose.

With barely the sound of a click, she closed the door and turned, hands tight on the knob while she stared at him with those soft, gray eyes that always reminded him of a deer about to bolt.

His jaw set. To the devil with the deer—he wanted to bolt, but the shy, hopeful look in her eyes had him by the throat, a talent that Emma Malloy seemed to master without even trying. He blew out his frustration on a wave of noisy air. “You’ve got thirty minutes, Malloy, but I’m gonna warn you right now—Fred Astaire I’m not.”

Her lips curved into that innocent way that always melted his heart, and he found himself relenting—as usual—with a reluctant smile. He lumbered to his feet with a groan. “Okay, Ginger, let’s put your foot where your mouth is.”

“I promise this will be fun,” she said in a rush, hurrying to the cherry-wood buffet against the wall where an RCA Victor phonograph stood ready and waiting. His mouth went flat. Further evidence of her plot to goad him into making Rose happy. He shook his head and watched her while she bent over the phonograph, his gaze traveling the length of her before he realized what he was doing. Heat ringed his collar and his pulse notched up a degree when he suddenly realized Emma Malloy had a beautiful body. How had he never noticed before—those long, willowy legs that slid up to gentle hips and a small waist? Fire scorched his cheeks as he admired generous breasts all the more obvious in a new pale yellow sweater that brought out a touch of green in her eyes. He cleared his throat and looked away while she carefully lifted the needle into place with a scratchy sound before it glided into the record’s groove. The mellow sounds of Duke Ellington’s Three Little Words suddenly floated through the air and oddly enough, his muscles begin to relax. He closed his eyes to enjoy the magic of one of his favorite songs, by an artist Emma knew he loved.

I know what you’re doing, I see it all too clear …

He inhaled deeply, and all of his resistance fled, because he knew exactly what Emma was doing and why. Her mission in life seemed to be to make those she loved happy, and for whatever reason, Emma desperately wanted to see him happy, to make a go of it with Rose, to walk down that aisle into a life she believed would bring him much joy. The air in his lungs released in a slow, tranquil sigh at the gift of Emma in his life. He had never felt this close to a friend, much less a woman, and he marveled at the fact that when he was with her, contentment seemed to purl through his body as languidly as the Duke’s music now oozed through his mind.

His eyelids opened, and there she stood, arms outstretched and an impish grin on her face. “I knew the Duke would work his magic,” she said, taking his left hand in hers and clasping it at eye level. “Which I must admit, has me feeling a wee bit like Charity.” With a chew of her lip, she placed his right hand on her shoulder blade and rested her arm on his. “Now relax, because you’ll find the foxtrot to be a smooth, easy dance very similar to the waltz.”

His lips angled up. “Oh, that helps, since I know how to waltz too.”

She lifted her chin, apparently striving to be professional, but the twitch of her lips gave her dead away. “First, left foot forward, one-two, then right foot forward, three-four …”

Without a word, he followed her effortlessly, as if he had Astaire blood in his veins. It should have felt strange, holding her this way, but somehow it didn’t and Sean wondered why. Maybe because he was from an affectionate family that hugged all the time, he reasoned, so naturally closeness and hugs had already become a part of their friendship.

“Left foot to the side, five-six …” she said, gaze intent on their feet.

Their proximity allowed him to study her close up … the way one side of her mouth tilted when she scraped her teeth against her lip, like now, indicating she was focusing hard on the lesson. For the first time he noticed an almost invisible sprinkling of tiny freckles across her nose, subtle and shy like Emma herself. He caught a faint whiff of the perfume Charity had given her—Shalimar—with its hint of lemon and vanilla, and he breathed it in, the scent teasing his senses with the same innocence and beauty of the women he held in his arms.

“Then left foot forward, one-two …” She glanced up with a smile. “Good … good, you’ve got it, now. Then turn your right foot one-quarter angle, three-four …”

He wasn’t surprised that he picked it up quickly—athletics had always come easily for him, and apparently dancing was no different, but to say he was shocked he enjoyed it was an understatement. The music seemed to flow in his limbs and in no time, he was whirling her in his arms, hand firm against her back as he drew her close with confident ease. He gave her a crooked smile. “Look out, Fred Astaire!”

A breathless giggle escaped her lips as the music stopped, and she put a hand to her chest. “Goodness, you’re a natural, although I should have expected that with your affinity for sports.” She dashed back to the phonograph to reset the needle, shooting a grin over her shoulder. “Once more, and you’ll be giving me lessons, I promise. And then it’s the Lindy, and your life will be complete.” She returned, clasping his hand.

Maybe it was the door being closed … or Emma near breathless … or even the velvet voice of the Duke that created an intimacy he found he rather enjoyed. He smiled, his voice husky with affection.  “So, Mrs. Malloy, tell me how you’ve become so light on your feet—have you been frequenting the dance marathons at Revere Beach?”

The pink of her cheeks deepened as she cocked a brow. “Why, yes, Mr. O’Connor, I find it a great release for the little energy I have left after 12-hour days, six days a week.”

He laughed and tightened his hold for a spin. “Then it’s a wonder we haven’t bumped into each other, because heaven knows that’s how I spend my spare time.”

Her eyes warmed with approval. “This will make Rose very happy,” she whispered.

His chest expanded as he studied her with a wry smile, reveling in her praise. “I know, but isn’t it about time you start thinking about my happiness? Dancing and marriage—two things that give me indigestion, and yet you seem intent on prodding me into both.”

It was her turn to laugh, the gray of her eyes sparkling like polished silver. “I am thinking of your happiness, bound and determined that your fears will not keep you from all God has.”

The music stopped, but he retained his hold, assessing her through pensive eyes. He nudged a finger to her chin and smiled. “So that’s how you spend your free time, then—as a guardian angel to the people you love?” His thumb grazed the curve of her jar, marveling at its silky touch. “Tell me, Mrs. Malloy, just how did I rate you as a friend?”

“Why, as a favor to Charity, of course,” she said with wink, the action so uncharacteristic that it made him laugh outright. “She asked me to keep an eye out for her big brother because … well, apparently he has a few flaws …”

“Flaws?” He released her with a cross of his arms, eyes in a squint. “Such as?”

She scrunched her nose. “Well, she says you’re a late bloomer for one …”

“Late bloomer,” he repeated, head cocked. “And what exactly does that mean?”

She peeked up, lips curved in a tease. “Oh, you know, a mature man on the outside, but inside, nothing more than a little boy who refuses to grow up and fall in love.” She nibbled on her lip as if to suppress a grin. “Which, Charity claims, is simply because you’re a little …” There was no mistaking the sass in her eyes now. “… dense.’”

His jaw dropped, along with his arms. “I’ll show you dense.” He tickled her, the plane of his hand to the side of her neck, causing her to squeal and tuck her head in a knee-jerk reaction.

“I didn’t mean it, I promise,” she shrieked with a giggle, twisting to escape.

Laughing, he pinned her arms to her sides, eyes narrowed in a mock glare. “Say it, Emma—Sean O’Connor is not dense; he’s one of the most brilliant men I know.”

Cheeks flushed with fun, she masked her humor with a serious sweep of lashes followed by a show of humility that softened the gray of her eyes. “Sean O’Connor is not dense,” she repeated slowly. “He’s one of the most …” She gave him an innocent blink. “brilliant men I know.” A grin broke free as she plucked the half-eaten Cherry Mash out of his pocket and lurched away. “I mean little boys!” she shouted, her giggles bouncing off the walls as she skittered for protection on the other side of the room. She faced him at the window, chest heaving and palms braced on the ledge, the candy bar smashed in her hand. Behind her, a tangerine moon rose ripe in a starry sky, its hazy glow encircling her like a halo despite the mischief in her eyes.

The thrill of the hunt broadened his grin as he took his time, his gait slow and easy while he rounded her desk, gaze hungry and locked with hers. “Give it back, Mrs. Malloy,” he whispered, feeling the adrenalin of horseplay that pumped in his veins.

“No!” she cried, more giggles bubbling over. She jerked her chair to block his way, then eased around the desk waving the Cherry Mash like a taunt, her impish smile reminding him of Gabe. “Not until you learn the lindy and promise to leave the candy at home when you go to this wedding. You may be a late bloomer, but at least you won’t smell like a little boy.”

That did it. Slamming the chair in, he lunged, surprising her with a firm clasp of her arm. He dove for the Cherry Mash, but she fought him with shrieks of wild laughter, the candy bar clutched tightly behind her back. He reeled her in and grinned, challenge coursing his veins as he gripped her to his chest. “Give it up, Emma,” he breathed, “you won’t win.” Locking her with one arm, his other circled her waist while his hand wrestled with hers to recapture the candy.

Her body stilled … and in a catch of his breath, everything changed. One moment she was laughing, and in the next, her laughter faded away, leaving her lips parted with shallow breaths while gentle eyes slowly spanned wide. The effect totally disarmed him, causing his heart to thud to a stop. Silence pounded in his ears as he became aware of her body pressed to his, her warmth, her scent engaging his pulse to a degree that jolted him. He swallowed hard, feeling the rise and fall of her chest, the burn of her hand embedded in his, and a flash of heat traveled his body until it scorched in his cheeks. He flinched away. “Emma, I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to manhandle you.” He stepped back and plunged his hands in his pockets, desperate to deflect the embarrassment he felt. His smile was awkward. “Keep the candy then, I have more in my bottom drawer.”

Julie – it’s been such a pleasure to ‘boast your books’ this week! Your ministry, your calling, is so evident and blessed. We are just a few voices that benefit from the words you write. Thank you!

 REMEMBER:Leave a comment about what you are most looking forward to from A Heart Revealed. Your name will be placed in a drawing to win one of Julie’s books. The winner will be announced this weekend! WOOHOOO!!!! Good luck!

A Week Review with Julie Lessman – A Hope Undaunted

Oh boy, oh boy! It’s time to talk about Luke McGee! If you haven’t read Julie’s fourth book, A Hope Undaunted, then you are in for a HOT treat! Not only is it a page turner (as usual), not only does it have a beautiful story and a fiesty heroine – but it has a TO-DIE-FOR hero in Luke McGee. Sense of humor, gorgeous, loyal, determined, with just enough of a temper to tinge him with danger, Luke keeps Katie’s heart fluttering between kiss him-or- kill him thoughts. LOVE IT! Katie needs someone like Luke. And it’s all the better because they were childhood ‘friends’ – AND Luke gave Katie her very first kiss.

SWEET!

So here’s my review from 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. 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.

Which 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!!!

REMEMBER: Leave a comment about the characters of A Hope Undaunted for your chance to win a Julie Lessman classic. The winner will be announced over the weekend. Good luck!!

A Week Review with Julie Lessman – A Passion Denied

Dreamy schoolgirls.

What’s not to love, right?

Bad boys turned GREAT! Definitely a gift of Julie Lessman’s.

“A romance born out of friendship is the most endearing type of love.” – From The Thornbearer by me.

That’s what happens with Lizzie O’Connor and John Brady. One catch of a breath changes everything. Add to that a little bit of infatuation on Lizzie’s part and a whole lot of self-denial on Brady’s part – and you get the makings of a beautiful story of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness – and one young woman’s determination.

So….here’s my review of A Passion Denied from 2009.

Julie Lessman breaks through the conventional mold of inspirational fiction once again with her newest novel, A Passion Denied, third book in the Daughters of Boston series. Chock full of intense emotional drama, sizzling romantic interludes, powerful spiritual insight, and a few chuckles along the way – A Passion Denied will leave you thinking about these characters long after you’ve closed the book. The emotions and the turmoil of the characters are palpable.What I admired most about the novel is Lessman’s consistent use of faith and Scripture throughout the book, instead of having it tagged on at the end. Our faith should be a continual pool of spiritual strength in our lives, in good times and difficult – transforming our worldview in every situation and moment. Julie Lessman does that. She portrays how faith is involved in every part of the characters’ lives and therefore guides their behaviors and actions.

Now, being a romantic at heart, there were times when I wanted to stop reading the book because I didn’t know if my heart could take it anymore. The emotional ‘valleys’ in the book are intense, but thankfully, Julie put me out of my misery by the end so I didn’t have to mentally slap any of the characters.

Brief summary of the book:

Sweet, innocent, Lizzie O’Connor has loved John Brady since her childhood.  His faith, commitment, and personal integrity are everything she’s longed for in all of her ‘fairytale’ dreams. As Lizzie grows up and begins to see the world through a woman’s eyes, a future romance with her best friend seems highly unlikely.  Despite their mutual growing affections, Brady will not give in to his love for Lizzie.  Secrets from his past, wounds that seem irreversible, hold him back from making a commitment with his heart to anyone but God.

When Lizzie learns the truth about Brady’s past, will her love remain constant or will another man draw her away from a love that is pure?  Will Brady accept God’s complete forgiveness for his past so he is free to love in his future?

I highly recommend this third and brilliant installment to The Daughters of Boston series and look forward to reading more of Julie Lessman’s work.

DON’T FORGET – leave a comment about which character is your favorite from this novel and get your name in the drawing for one of Julie’s books -including her up-and-coming novel, A HEART REVEALED.

A Week Review with Julie Lessman – A Passion Redeemed

Yesterday (or today – as the time goes) we chatted about Julie Lessman’s debut novel, A Passion Most Pure (the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year novel and one of Borders Best for 2009). In that first novel, we meet sassy, sexy, and sensational, Charity O’Connor – who always seems to need a good spanking 😉 Or… to quote Rhett Butler, she ‘needs to be kissed, and kissed often, and kissed by a man who knows how.”

Mitch Dennehey certainly seems to be the ‘man that knows how’ – though it takes him a while to realize it.

Here’s my review from August 2008 of A Passion Redeemed – Julie’s second book in the Daughters of Boston series and the VERY FIRST Julie Lessman book I ever read.

Move over Scarlett O’Hara! Step up, Charity O’Connor!  Much like her Civil War era predecessor, Charity gets what she wants by using her looks, charms, and manipulation.  Unlike her older sister, Faith – who lives up to her name, Charity has no use for God’s love or His staunch rules and regulations.  All she’s certain of, is that she loves Mitch Dennehy and she’ll do whatever it takes to make him love her back.
Mitch has already been taunted and burned by Charity’s devious schemes, once.  Not only has his heart been transformed by God’s grace, he’s set his mind on marrying another lady…even if his heart hasn’t caught up yet.
But when Charity’s own stubborn will and brilliantly planned schemes explode in her face and turn Mitch away from her, can she find solace in a love beyond her own imperfections that will meet her every need?  Is there redemption for a sassy, flirtatious, lying, manipulative beauty….and her dreams?  Will Charity learn the true meaning of her name in the One who never fails?
My two cents worth:
Julie Lessman has convinced me that I need to read her first novel too.  This book was a great read….powerful, funny, intense, with Biblical truths woven through the braided lives of the characters.  I read it twice and liked it better the second time.  I’ve never been a fan of characters like Scarlet O’Hara….and I’m not sure I’m a big fan of Charity O’Conner, but after I read through the book a second time I realized Charity had learned her lesson.  She really had been changed through God’s grace.
One of the many nice touches in this novel is the way Charity begins talking to God long before she really makes a decision to follow Him.  There’s this gradual draw to speak to Him…to know Him, even in her most wicked schemes.  It’s a wonderful testament of the Holy Spirit’s continual pull of our hearts to Him…the whole idea of “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
A Passion Redeemed certainly has passion in it…..and every man the reader meets, ends up kissing Charity at some point or other in the this novel or the last, so that’s got to give you some idea of her track record, and what sort of taming is in store for this little prodigal.
Most people either really like Charity, or find her overwhelming. What do you think? What makes Mitch so likeable?
REMEMBER – leave a comment for your chance to win one of Julie’s books, including her up-and-coming 5th book, A Heart Revealed.

A Week Review With Julie Lessman (Giveaway)

If you like to read about passion braided with faith and romantic tension, I have the author for you. Julie Lessman! I’d never read any of her novels, until I agreed to review her second book, A Passion Redeemed. Julie hates it when I mention that I read her series out of order, but let me just say I enjoyed it anway. Needless to say, I read the first book – THIRD! (I can just see Julie cringing)

Anyway, this week we’re celebrating Julie Lessman’s books – because a BRAND NEW ONE is coming out in the fall. Her fifth book, A Heart Revealed. In celebration of this week of reviews, Julie has graciously offered to give away one book (of the reader’s choice)to a lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave a comment about a particular character you enjoyed reading about during the book for that day (except Friday – which will be a ‘glance’ at book number FIVE).

Today let’s take a look at Julie’s AWARD WINNING DEBUT NOVEL – A Passion Most Pure

Introducing a reader to the O’Connor family is one thing. Leaving the reader on a page with Collin McGuire is definitely another. Whew… move over, Faith.

Faith O’Connor’s always had a flicker of attraction for Collin McGuire – wait, did I write ‘flicker”. Hmm… that was a bit understated.

Anyway, Faith has tried to stifle the attraction because Collin isn’t a believer, and Faith wants to wait for the man God has for her. Unfortunatley, making her heart believe that fact is very different – especially when her younger sister, Charity, has set her sights on marrying Collin. The novel weaves together the essence of a large family trying to work through the trials of their own humanity, the struggles of a world at war, and the constant battle we all possess between the passions of our flesh and the passions of our spirits.

As Collin realizes the beautiful woman, both inside and out, that Faith is – his begins to examine his own motives at the core. His respect for Faith – and her family- and the contrast of Faith’s behavior to her little sister, Charity’s, tosses him into a crisis of the heart and of truth. Will the family be torn to shreds by unbridled passions or will infatuation with the only One who can tame the heart and unleash the soul bring healing to all?

It’s a story as intense with the love of Christ as it is with the attraction of Collin and Faith. The reader feels the struggles and pain. I struggled with Faith, as she prayed to choose God’s way, but ached to be with Collin. Collin’s spiritual transformation, his growth is gradual and beautiful – but painful too. It was an amazing journey.

Oh Julie, btw, everytime I see Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert from the new Disney movie, Tangled, I think of Collin 🙂 (To read my post about the plot structure of Tangled, visit The Writers Alley today)

Learn more about Julie’s books at www.julielessman.com

And don’t forget to leave a comment to be in the drawing. Who was your favorite character in APMP? Why?