Review: “His Steadfast Love” by Julie Lessman + Book Snippet & GIVEAWAY ~Blog Tour

Review: “His Steadfast Love” by Julie Lessman + Book Snippet & GIVEAWAY ~Blog Tour

1_160_origWelcome to my stop on this fun tour leading up to author Julie Lessman’s independent release AND the last book in her “Isle of Hope” series, His Steadfast Love! Julie might be more familiar to fans of the historical romance genre, with multiple series anchoring her as a talented author when it comes to family dramas and swoony romances. In the last couple years, though, Julie has proven her talent once again within a new realm: contemporary stories.

If family drama threaded with spiritual lessons rooted in Scripture and plenty of romance is your thing, read on for more about this series, my gushing review, a chance to win fun prizes, and a book snippet that *might* require a fan!

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his-steadfast-love_origSeries: Isle of Hope
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Christian
Publisher: Indie
Publication date: August 1. 2017

She’s bent on fun.
He’s bent on faith.
Till true love bridges the gap.

Cat O’Bryen is the prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, the father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain she’s on a path that could damage her faith forever.

Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat O’Bryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer a friendship as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home. ​

GOODREADS | AMAZON

The Books in the Series

My reviews:  Isle of Hope |  Love Everlasting

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julie-turquoise-in-chair_origJulie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list.

Julie’s most recent novel, Isle of Hope was voted on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, and Surprised by Love appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2014. Her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.

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​NEWSLETTER | THE SEEKERS | JOURNAL JOTS

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This time he was ready for her, and with an easy twist, he scooped her up and launched her high in the air, her squeals bouncing off the water before she did.
Ker-splash!
A gush of water plumed, and Chase grinned outright when she shot from the surface, mouth going strong as usual. “Chase Griffin, you are the lowest, sneakiest, most diabolical—”
His laughter rang over the water. “Sorry, Catfish, but ‘diabolical’ belongs to you, kiddo, so I wouldn’t be throwing pitchforks if I were you.”
“And a p-pastor too!” she sputtered, still spitting water out of her mouth.
He cocked a hip on the edge of the board, thumbs hooked into the back pockets of his wet jeans. “That’s right, Catherine,” he said, his grin definitely ‘diabolical,’ “anything you need to get off your chest?”
“Come into the water, Rev, and I’ll show you ‘diabolical.’” She delivered a sweet smile that was anything but, paddling in place with a glint of dare in her eyes.
“Oh, no doubt about that,” he said with a grin, loosely crossing his arms. “But I’ll pass, if you don’t mind, and work on my tan while I fish.”
“Chase Griffin, you are nothing but a wet blanket!” she snapped.
“Yep, thanks to you,” he said with a chuckle, fetching his rod and tackle box and settling into his chair.
Nose in the air, she spun around in a swoosh to head to the neighbor’s dock, her strokes deft and sure like his demise would be if he got into the water with Cat O’Bryen. He was tempted to take a quick dive just to cool off because that minx sure had a way of heating him up, and they were just friends, for pity’s sake. God help him, he couldn’t imagine dating the woman, subject to temptation day in and day out. Those teasing eyes, that sexy smile, her flirtatious ways.
Those come-on kisses …
Heat engulfed him that had nothing to do with the sun beating down and everything to do with the vamp in the water. Although his mind was made up, Cat O’Bryen was too much of what his body and soul craved, and he wasn’t going there again. Ever. Especially not with a woman whose faith was as weak as water.
“Oh!”
He glanced up from his tackle box, heart constricting when he saw Cat freeze in the water. “What’s wrong?” He shot to his feet.
“Cramps.” It was a strained response as she maneuvered to a dead-man float.
“Where?” His heart rate took off in a sprint, memories of a SEAL buddy dangerously compromised on a mission from severe abdominal cramps.
“Left leg.” Her voice matched the grimace on her face. “I’ll be fine … I’ll just wait it out.”
“Grab your toes on the cramped leg and pull toward you,” he ordered, gaze pinned to her body for any sign of distress, “then straighten your leg.”
Face pinched, she did as he instructed, her groans hitching his pulse. “Never this bad before …”
That’s all it took. The tackle box hit the weathered wood with a hard clunk as Chase dove from the dock, arriving by her side in mere seconds. “Any better?” He watched while she continued pulling and stretching, his breathing heavy as he hovered close, finally catching his breath.
“I’m not sure …” she said in a weak voice.
And then she lunged, stealing his air all over again when she brought him down, submerging him with a power that belied her small size. “No, wait …” She bolted away when he hit the surface, coughing up water. “Yes, definitely better now.” Her giggles bounced off the lake as she swam for the shore, arms slicing through the water with an efficiency that would outdistance most people.
But he wasn’t most people. He was a seasoned professional.
With a store of adrenalin usually reserved for workouts at the gym, work days at Lake Loon, or dangerous missions overseas, Chase easily overtook her mere feet from the sandy shore, clamping onto her foot to reel her in hard. One arm latched to her waist, he handily dunked her with the other, her shrieks and giggles lost in a tide pool of bubbles and foam. Quickly lurching her back up, he chuckled low in her ear as she kicked and squealed in his arms. “I thought I told you never to mess with an ex-Navy SEAL, Catfish,” he said with a husky chuckle, soundly dousing her all over again.
He released her, and she literally exploded from the water, twisting in the air like some headstrong sea nymph, taking him down with a grunt as she clung stubbornly to his head.
And didn’t let go.
They burst from the water as one, her body welded to his as she death-gripped his hair, obviously intent on one more plunge.
But the only thing that plunged was his gut when their eyes locked, the laughter in her face dissolving into something far softer and warm while her ragged breathing mated with his. Her gaze dropped to his mouth, and a tidal wave of want surged through his body, taking him down as easily as Cat had done with her well-placed dunking.
She absently licked her lips, and his stomach cramped with need as he fought the pull of her parted mouth, her shallow breathing in dangerous sync with his own. His eyelids felt as heavy as if he were drugged, arms slowly curling around her waist like they had a mind of their own. And God help him, they did, because he had little control as they drew her close, luring his mouth to hers with a low, aching moan.
She tasted like sheer heaven as he nuzzled the lips he’d dreamed about since the night she had kissed him in her room. Forcing himself to take it slow, he caressed her mouth with all the tenderness that swirled inside for a lost, little girl named Cat. But the moment a soft mew left her lips, he was a goner, his groan hoarse as he delved in to explore with a passion too long denied.
And that’s when he knew.
He was dead in the water.
Literally

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Yes, a large portion of this story develops the main romance in Julie’s signature “passion with a purpose” style, with a few scenes that might require a freezer (as evidenced in the snippet above), as Carrie likes to say. It’s always tastefully presented. Always pointing to a Christ-centered marriage or leading the characters to see what real Love should be like.

But it’s so much more than a story to quicken your pulse, it’s a story to quicken your spirit and encourage your heart. At least it did mine, in ways I didn’t know I needed. But that’s the awesome power of honest and Biblical-truth-filled story: sometimes it speaks to your heart in a personal way.

While I don’t have the history and same problems these characters face, I CAN relate to their very real, human struggles. I can relate to harboring unforgiveness and the bitterness it brings. I can relate to running from something or someone (God) I should run toward. I can relate to fearing rejection and hurt. In Chase’s (and even Tess’s) case, to the point it challenges trust and interferes with their walks with God. This story fleshes out these themes with a refreshing directness not often found in the Christian fiction genre, addressing topics such as sin, jealousy, and physical attraction through a lens of faith and hope.

Following the O’Bryens and Carmichaels through 3 books and 1 novella has earned them a big place in my reader heart. Seeing them overcome, accomplish, and embrace a restoration that could only be orchestraed by God has been a fun journey that came together even more with this final story. (insert sad whines because this is the last book) BUT, I was thrilled with the swoony happy moments included from the perspectives of Shannon and Tess that fit into the story and showed a little of what their happily-ever-afters look like.

Cat and Chase’s story has been a long time coming, but it was SO worth the wait! Chase has been a present and active character in the whole series. With this book, I was happy to finally learn his whole story and see him grow and be surprised by God’s plan. And when he and Cat are together on the page, talk about chemistry! I loved her spunky personality even when I wanted to talk some sense into her about her rebellion. But oh, her journey back to faith spurred on by Chase and his beautiful frienship was amazing to witness. It is an honest reminder of the strength of God’s love, how He reveals himself through his people (in this case, Chase and Cat’s whole family), and how He loves each of us through our running and floundering, just waiting for us to turn back and embrace Him.

 

Reminds me of lyric “Don’t hide your face from me, for My love won’t be undone.” God is waiting for her to turn back, loving her through her floundering and loving her through her people.

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Enter the rafflecopter giveaway HERE.

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July 23–Singing Librarian Books

July 24–Faithfully Bookish

July 25–Remembrancy | Reading Is My SuperPower

July 26–Paulette’s Papers | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

July 27–Flowers of Quiet Happiness | Faery Tales Are Real

July 28–The Green Mockingbird 

July 29–Radiant Light | Cafinated Reads

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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Mini reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Mini reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

This week is a FREEBIE topic! I was inspired by an older TTT topic of “books you loved but haven’t written a review for”. I thought: why not talk about some favorites I haven’t reviewed AND tell you a little of why I loved them? So, this custom topic was born: 10 Mini reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed. 

First, a brief explanation concerning just why I haven’t reviewed these.

  • Some were read in connection with the INSPY awards so I couldn’t talk about them at the time
  • Some I’ve just never gotten around to reviewing, though I thoroughly enjoyed them
  • Some are older reads from before I started writing reviews

Whew, glad that’s off my chest. Now, on to the little reviews!

10 Mini Reviews of books I loved but have not yet reviewed

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1. Remembered by Tamera Alexander (Fountain Creek Chronicles #3)

Though it’s been a while since I’ve read this one, I do remember it was my favorite of the series. I particularly remember some interesting freight wagon rides. My favorite part of this story was Véronique because of her determination and unique immigration perspective.

2. Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

In a style and manner only Laura Frantz can achieve, the untamed wilderness swallows you in its wonder as you experience life through Morrow’s eyes. This still remains my favorite Laura Frantz novel for its beautiful romance. Two words: Red Shirt. Fans of historical romance and the American frontier take note: this novel is not to be missed.

3. The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist

I remember the setting standing out to me in this one: 1849 San Francisco, CA in the middle of the Gold Rush. And, an important bit about the Redwood forest. Besides the immersive setting, the characters left an impression, particularly the spiritual transformation of one and the coming-of-age journey, in a sense, of another.

4. A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund (Michigan Brides #2)

This story is a beautiful work of historical romance. I remember Carl, the hero, making quite the impression with his selfless (and swoony) manner. The themes of this novel include the importance of hope and forgiveness — and that family and love are worth fighting for.

5. The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann (A Rush of Wings #3)

A story of finding hope and healing, this riveting contemporary novel remains a favorite in its genre. And, Morgan Spencer is possibly my favorite hero Kristen has penned. It exquisitely executes one of my favorite plot devices to bring the heroine and hero together, but I won’t say exactly how it happens because that would ruin the surprise! If you’re looking for a fresh take on romantic suspense with a tasteful yet passionate love story (this is still Christian fiction), I HIGHLY recommend this novel and series.

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6. The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann (Diamond of the Rockies #1)

I recall this glimpse of the west in all its ruggedness and wild beauty left an impression of me. Particularly, Carina and her feisty spirit, determined to succeed and find happiness. As with several of Kristen’s novels, a slight mysterious element is present, adding to the interest and appeal of the story (and its hero).

7. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

This one is a well-crafted historical romance that reminds me of Austen or Brontë in its era, setting, and mystery. I remember the characters being well developed and “real” even amid the proper society and tradition they adhere to. Themes of mercy and forgiveness entwine this story set in the beautiful Cornwall region of England.

8. A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman (Daughters of Boston #1)

This is where it all began. The O’Conner saga that let to 6 full-length books (with the Winds of Change series following) and several novellas. Though I knew how this would end because I read the series out of order, I was still glued to the story as I witnessed the battle of will vs faith. And, Julie’s signature “passion with a purpose” romance style was an added bonus!

9. Ruby by Lauraine Snelling (Dakotah Treasures #1)

This one is special because it was my first venture into “grown-up” Christian Fiction. I can still remember specifically where I got it — shopping with my mom. Having since reread this entire series, I can say it is a great example of western romance with likable characters and connected story arcs in each book.

10. Duchess by Susan May Warren (Daughters of Fortune #3)

With this novel, I learned that Susan pens historicals in the same complex, riveting manner as her contemporary novels. This was a glimpse of “old Hollywood” with all its glamour AND problems, with a few twists involving WWII. Ultimately, a powerful story of healing, forgiveness, and hope.

Thank you to Bethany House, Tyndale, and Summerside Press for the complimentary INSPY review copies. These reviews reflect my honest opinion.


Have you read any of these books or authors? Are there any books you loved but never reviewed or blogged about?

Review: “Love Everlasting” by Julie Lessman ~ Blog Tour & Giveaway

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Today I’m happy to be participating in the blog tour for Julie Lessman’s latest indie release, Love Everlasting, the second book in her contemporary “Isle of Hope” series. Read on for more about the book, Julie, my review, and an opportunity to enter the giveaway for an ecopy of book 1 or 2!

(Just a little note here: you can read this book as a standalone, for sure, but you would experience the story with more perspective and deeper emotional investment if you start with book 1, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love.)
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PictureSeries: Isle of Hope
Genre: Christian, Romance
Publisher: Julie Lessman, LLC
Publication date: September 30, 2016
Number of pages: 307

He sets hearts on fire.
She’s been burned by love.
Can hope survive the flames of the past?

School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Now focused more on her faith and her fiction, she vows the next time she falls in love, it will be safely—through the pages of a book.

Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. Abandoned as a young child, Sam was an orphan shuffled through the foster-care system, bitterly driven to prove he is worthy of love—the kind that lasts forever. Once he learns Shannon is a romance writer, he enlists her help in winning back his ex-girlfriend. She teaches him about faith and the true definition of love, and he soon discovers he’s been seeking it in the wrong place all along—and with the wrong girl. But can he convince a woman who’s been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?

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PictureJulie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.
Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie Lessman was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 17 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list.Julie’s most recent novel, Isle of Hope was voted on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, and Surprised by Love appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels of 2014. Her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets.
You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.
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Whew! Julie Lessman calls herself a caffeinated drama queen, and this book certainly reaffirms that fact with the characters’ habits of caffeine and my need for some after losing a little sleep for “just one more chapter”.
What begins as an engaging, sweet story of friendship with moments of romance grows into a story full of Scriptural truths, honest failures and pain, and a message of the hope we can only find through the love of Christ.
Sam and Shannon’s dynamic is somewhat predictable at first, with the shy good-girl and rebellious player thrown together in a new friendship. While their eventual mutual love might have been predicted from page one, the arduous journey each one of them travels to get to their happy ending comes with an unexpected grittiness. Shannon’s past is hinted at as holding her back from trusting herself to love again, and Sam’s lack of faith in God combined with his carefree lifestyle prove to be obstacles for both of them. With a realness and loving approach, Julie takes these two on a journey of faith influenced by the wisdom of family and close friends, showing them both what unconditional love looks like.
Also, we get to see our favorite returning families and spunky supporting characters again! I was happy to read a secondary plot and romance carried over from book 1 between Tess O’Bryen and Ben Carmichael. Their relationship continues to grow while facing its own hurdles to overcome (like trust).
This is another fantastic contemporary romance with so much depth and several swoony moments from Julie. I personally am already anxious for book 3, releasing in 2016, because I suspect it’s centered on two of my favorite secondary characters from this series (Cat and Chase!! 🙂 ).
Thank you to the publisher and Singing Librarian Books for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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Click here to enter the rafflecopter giveaway!

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“Isle of Hope” by Julie Lessman Review

Author Julie Lessman is well-known for her historical romance stories with her self-dubbed “Passion with a Purpose” style. I’ve been a big fan of hers for a while and have recently, finally, read her wonderful “Daughters of Boston” series. (See my thoughts on her “Winds of Change” series and her “Heart of San Francisco” books 2 and 3.) The best news, though, is that she has recently released a new contemporary novel in ebook format. It’s called Isle of Hope, and it’s the first in a new series (the “Unfailing Love” series) set in the real-world location of Isle of Hope in Georgia.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman, reviewed on The Green Mockingbird

About the book: 

She stole his heart.
He stole her peace.
Can hope steal their pain?

At the age of eighteen, Lacey Carmichael was a wild girl bent on fun, promised to Jack O’Bryen, a straight-and-narrow pastor’s kid bent on the seminary. When her father kicks her out of the house, she runs away from Isle of Hope, turning her back on everything she loves. Now, eight years later, she’s back as a woman of faith, hoping to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she denied. Only the bridges she’s burned are still smoldering, kindled by an adulterous affair by Jack’s pastor father that damaged his son’s faith. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?

My thoughts: Julie’s writing voice shines through in this contemporary context. Though this modern setting is something new for her to tackle, her style still communicates both character and spiritual depth, something I’ve come to expect from her. It’s really further proof that a skilled storyteller can tackle any era!

The whole cast is vibrant. By the end, they feel as familiar as family. Jack and Lacey’s characters take many twists and turns through this story while grappling with forgiveness, but friendship is still the foundation of their relationship– no matter their growing attraction, which was sweet. And the secondary and supporting characters are just as well-developed and likable. I have a feeling that by the end of this all, the O’Bryens & Carmichaels of this story might just rival the McClares or O’Connor’s of Julie’s previous series (which is great news for us family-loving readers).

Isle of HopeJulie Lessman has frequently included secondary character threads in her previous novels. This novel is no exception, with a story of reconciliation and friendship between Lacey’s dad, Ben, and Jack’s mom, Tess. The relationship dynamic between them was a bit of a surprise, I must say. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say Julie throws in a few twists and challenges for them which get *quite* interesting. Julie has a knack for transforming a character from someone you don’t particularly care for into someone you root for by the story’s end.

Other reviewers and readers have said this is Julie’s most spiritually deep novel to date, and I have to agree. Woven into each character’s story is a journey toward hope. For some, hope in forgiveness, reconciliation, and a fresh start. For others, hope in the faithfulness of God and a future focused on Him. Julie’s characters model the efforts of witnessing through love — or even unwanted generosity or advice 🙂 — and the power of prayer. While a story of fiction, the real scriptural truths in this story can be an encouragement to anyone in their walk with Christ. One point which stood out to me was that forgiveness is not necessarily for the other person, it’s for ourselves.

With strong characters who deal with forgiveness and redemption, this is a story of family and coming home. I would highly recommend this novel to fans of both Christian fiction and mainstream authors such as Nicholas Sparks. I can’t wait for the next in the series, tentatively releasing summer of 2016!

 

Thanks a million to Julie Lessman for the advance ARC ebook in exchange for my honest review as part of her launch team.

“Surprised by Love” by Julie Lessman Review + Blog Tour

Julie Lessman is such a talented and sweet lady. You can see her heart for encouraging and sharing the love of Jesus through her writing. (And she’s fast becoming an absolute favorite author of mine!) This post is all about her most recent novel, Surprised by Love, the third in “The Heart of San Francisco” series.

"Surprised by Love" by Julie LessmanPlot Summary: Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty. With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the district attorney’s office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school–and with whom she was hopelessly enamored. She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram’s vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a kid sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

My thoughts: Megan McClare is beautiful on the inside and out. She and Bram are both so sweet and deserve each other – but he has burdens from past mistakes that are keeping him committed to his father. Because of this, he focuses on maintaining nothing more that the brotherly friendship he’s always shared with Meg. But, this proves to be a challenge for both of them!

Of course Meg and Bram are the main characters, but I was so pleased to see Cait and Logan getting plenty of story time because their rocky relationship has been evolving for 3 books now! Their banter and his humorous reactions are so fun. Plus, we get to see Logan learn a few lessons.

The spiritual journey of the characters, especially Logan, is full of natural ups and downs, twists and turns. We all struggle with our faith, trust in God’s plans, and our ability to forgive and forget. This is portrayed very realistically in these characters. The stories of Meg and Bram, too, are illustrations of forgiveness and finding happiness in God’s plans.

If you’ve read the Winds of Change series (or other books by Julie), you know her propensity to keep you in suspense until the last few pages! This one does, too, but wraps up nicely. I enjoyed seeing familiar characters of the McClare family sparring and, most importantly, loving each other. This is one you simply MUST put on your TBR list!

(By the way, Julie says a novella is coming in 2015 about Blake “The Rake” McClare….. so she’s not done with this family yet!! *happy dance*)

Thanks to Revell for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Connect with Julie Lessman at her website, on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me I MUST Read

Some of these are on my TBR, some are just ones people have been telling me I MUST read, and some are new to me authors I haven’t had the chance to check out yet. My list includes a little over 10 books this week. I thought it was going to be a little tough to come up with 10, but it proved to be very easy!   In no particular order, here are the ones I keep hearing about:

TTT 10 I Keep Hearing I Must Read


Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

I’ve heard fellow bloggers and reviewers say they loved this one – and some say they didn’t like it at all. I’m anxious to see who I agree with. I have a copy sitting on my shelf, just waiting….


The “Daughters of Boston” series by Julie Lessman (A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, A Passion Denied). 

Because I LOVED the follow-up series (“Winds of Change”), I know I’ll enjoy these, too. Julie never disappoints. Several blogger friends have recommended this series.


Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck

I hear this is a realistic and cute modern-day fairy tale. Everyone dreams of becoming royalty, right? 😉


Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

The cover alone should be enough to convince me. After reading some great reviews of this one, it’s found a place on my eventual TBR list.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

After reading Jamie’s gushing review (and after reading Dear Mr. Knightley), I’m intrigued by the letter format of this story. I have a copy I’m itching to get to.


“The Heart’s Spring” series by Amber Stokes (Forget Me Not, Bleeding Heart, Morning Glory [one of her current WIP])

I really do want to read this one – it’s by fellow blogger and author Amber Stokes. She’s pretty fabulous, so I’m sure her stories will be, too. I’ve heard some great things about her writing. And have you seen her latest cover reveal????!!!


The “Alaskan Courage” series by Dani Pettrey (Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, Sabotaged releasing 2/2015 )

The McKenna family gets a lot of publicity time in the blogosphere. I think I need to read these to see what the all hype is about 🙂 Really, a contemporary suspense/romance series set in Alaska seems like the perfect setting.


The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

It seems everyone and their best friend has read this one… at least some of my friends and family have. I’m not totally convinced yet, because I HAVE seen the movie, and I’m not all that interested in spending my time to read it because I know how it ends (plus some of its content seems a little much for me). (Is that awful?)


Have you read any of these??? Are there any I’m missing that I simply MUST add to my TBR?

Book Review: Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman

As many of you know, I was first introduced to Julie Lessman with her Winds of Change series — which I adored! Her latest series, The Heart of San Francisco, began with her novel “Love at Any Cost”. The second in the series, “Dare to Love Again”, is one of my latest reads. Let me tell you, Julie has not disappointed! I really enjoyed “Love at Any Cost”, and “Dare to Love Again” is just as great! Enough of me gushing, let’s get on to the review.

"Dare to Love Again" by Julie Lessman

Dare to Love Again is an enchanting novel set in 1903 San Francisco. Allison McClare teaches English and drama at the new Hand of Hope school for girls in the battered Barbary Coast region of the city. The school is a realization of her mother’s lifelong dream to provide education and love to underprivileged children. Recently betrayed by another suitor, Allison is determined to prove her independence by working late at the school and taking the cable car home after dark. The only problem with that plan is detective Nick Barone – and the seedy two blocks she must walk past bars and brothels to reach the cable car.

Detective Nick Barone is a boarder at an orphanage next door. He and Alli clash over her independent streak and the danger of the Barbary Coast, resulting in comical arguments. Each time they meet, good intentions turn to sparks flying as they disagree and antagonize each other. His experiences with the privileged class shape his attitude toward the McClares, causing him to misunderstand their motives. Nick, recently jaded by a rich Chicago socialite himself, feels that Alli and her family have no business trying to justify their lifestyle by charitably teaching at the school. At the urging of Alli’s astute uncle, Logan McClare, Nick reluctantly agrees to teach Alli the method of jiu-jitsu self defense and to assist with security measures at the school. Nick agrees under the condition that he make no romantic advances whatsoever toward Alli. At first, this plan seems to work well, but as Nick and Alli spend more time together, they forge a caring camaraderie with underlying attractions. This shift to friendly terms could prove more dangerous to Alli and Nick than their sparring relationship. Over time, Nick begins to see that Alli contradicts his initial judgment of the rich and privileged class with her giving and caring nature. Circumstances from Nick’s past threaten to reveal his secrets, however, which have the potential to alienate Alli forever.

Julie continues the stories of characters introduced in the first book, with sufficient information for new readers to feel connected to those characters. A sweet secondary story of Logan and Caitlyn McClare is threaded throughout. Logan wants to rekindle his relationship with his brother’s widow, Caitlyn, while she struggles to trust him again.

Julie immerses the reader in the time period, setting, and characters with great details. Realities of life in the Barbary Coast region are illustrated through the eyes of innocent Alli as she witnesses the crime, brothels, and bars. Also, a look at the struggles and culture of Chinese immigrants is shown through the characters’ visit to Chinatown. The reader also feels involved in the everyday lives of the characters through conversations and camaraderie among family and friends.

Throughout the novel, a theme of trust, second chances, and shattered stereotypes emerges. Multiple characters come to terms with God’s provision of forgiveness as they learn to trust God to provide for their futures in life and in love. The comical tension between Alli and Nick made this a fun novel that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these characters from Julie in Surprised by Love!

Dare to Love Again releases tomorrow, January 7, from Revell publishers. You can read more about Julie Lessman’s books here.

There is a Dare to Love Again contest sponsored by Revell with some HUGE prizes! Enter the contest here.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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