A Love Surrendered is the final book in Julie Lessman's Winds of Change series and the final O'Connor book. I knew this was the last book and was torn between savoring every word and reading as quickly as possible to find out what was going to happen - I chose the latter and finished this book in less than a day! Once I got started, I couldn't put it down. I only quit when I was about to fall asleep reading!
I fell completely in love with the O'Connors during the last 5 books and was about to cry when I reached the end of this one! They felt like family and I didn't want to see them go! The great part of books though, it that I can go back and "visit" them as often and as many times as I want.
This is Steven's story, I was so excited when I realized that! I couldn't wait to see where Julie would take him and what was going to happen next in the family. If you've read any of the other books, then you know Steven has had a rough go of it. He feels responsible for so much and can't forgive himself for his mistakes. He has spent his whole life trying to measure up to some impossible standard and doesn't even realize it.
Annie was the perfect heroine for him. So sweet and compassionate, but with a strong will, too. She was so real there were several times when I was thinking, "I would have totally done that!" Watching her grow up and spread her wings really hit home with me. Her faith journey did, too. She struggles with following God and honoring Him, as we all do. I love characters that are human, they make mistakes, sometimes the same one more than once, but they find God is still there for them, just as He is for us.
I loved taking this journey with them, watching them grow closer to God and learn what "a love surrendered" really means. One of the lines from the book says, "He [Jesus] gave his all, daughter, a love surrendered so completely that we are transformed from the dark into his glorious light." This is the ultimate example of love surrendered, Jesus dying for us so that we might live with Him forever. All through the book, Annie and Steven learn of other examples of surrendering, not just in love, but to God and to His will.
This book touched my heart in so many ways. The message of surrender, obviously was very strong, but also redemption, grace and love. I'm not sure which part was my favorite, when Annie learned that God still loved her, or when Steven discovered that he didn't have to be "good enough." Julie, as always, has managed to tug both my heart-strings and my faith.
This book also continues to follow the other family members. I enjoyed catching up with them and seeing where their stories were going to lead. Luke and Katie, Sean and Emma, Faith and Collin, Marcy and Patrick, Gabe. Oh, I love Gabe! She's one of those characters you just want to hug! I also adored the newest editions to the family, Annie's Aunt Eleanor and sister Glory. Glory was so precious!
I was extremely pleased with how Julie ended the series, there were no unanswered questions, or anything left unsaid. It was sad for me, to say "goodbye," but it was done with such finesse, you don't even realize it's over until you look at the next page and see "Acknowledgements."
When reading the opening lines of "A Passion Most Pure" - the first of six novels in the two series, Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change, on the O'Connor siblings - by award-winning author Julie Lessman - little did I know how swiftly and passionately the O'Connor family would steal my "readers heart" and inspire my relationship with God. Six novels later - I was reluctant and sad to leave a family that had become a part of me and more than fictional characters, when I finished "A Love Surrendered" - the story of the youngest son, Steven.
"A Love Surrendered" opens in 1932 Boston - during the era of Prohibition, bootleggers, and speakeasies. Steven O'Connor is a Prohibition agent who comes to the aid of Annie Kennedy when she is accosted by two inebriated males on Ocean Pier. Annie is a naÃ¯ve, 17 year old, orphan, drawn into a fast crowd at Ocean Pier after moving to Boston from Iowa. Steven is trying to overcome the pain of a broken relationship with his first true love - another serious relationship isn't in his current life plans. Plans go awry when Steven and Annie find themselves attracted to each other, Annie reveals a secret, and Steven attempts to overcome feelings of guilt re: his previous relationship, and a past altercation with his father.
In true Julie Lessman fashion, the web becomes even more entangled, twisted, and complicated, as more characters are drawn into the story and even more unexpected secrets are revealed. All O'Connor family members are there to love again, and as usual - the children pull your "heart-strings', especially Glory and Gabe. As always, flawed characters redeemed by a loving God - supply a happy ending to the final episode of the heart-warming O'Connor family. With each novel, Julie put her characters and readers "through the wringer" with her trademark writing style that features an abundance of passion, family, angst, humor, tears, anger, unexpected twists, romance, drama, guilt, redemption, a forgiving God, and a happy ending.
I was blessed to be able to read all six novels on the O'Connors - back-to-back, without interruption - it is impossible to read one novel from the two series without desiring, and feeling the necessity, to read the other five! Julie Lessman is a master storyteller - I will joy in rereading each of the six novels in the Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series, over and over again!!
This book is hard to read. Not because of anything to do with the actual story though! What makes it hard is that it's the last of the O'Conner books! After 7 books and 3,248 pages we have to say goodbye to this family that has embedded themselves in our hearts and it's quite painful! Also this book is 100 pages shorter than the others which is a little sad (mean publishers), I think this is the only almost 400 page book that I found too short! And lastly I was sad that we don't get to see any of Steven and Annie after their marriage like we did with all of the others!
But now that I have all that out of the way I can commence the gushing about how much I love this book! And boy did I love it! Like all the others it is simply phenomenal!
From the moment we meet the quiet eight-year-old Steven in A Passion Most Pure I knew I was going to love him and I wasn't wrong. Growing up he was always the good child, rarely getting in trouble, doing what he's told, getting good grades, and just generally being the model child. Then in college that all changes and starts hanging with the wrong people and disobeying his parents at every turn. But when his rebellion threatens the life of his father he does a complete 180 and turns into the law-abiding prohibition agent is riddled with guilt and constantly trying to redeem himself. My heart broke for him as he struggled with his guilt, with trying to do the right thing, and with trusting God and letting Him change his life. I absolutely loved the conversations Steven had with his father and Sean and I was so happy when he began to take their words to heart! It was so cool to see the transformation and even though I loved him before he became so much more awesome after!
And Annie! I loved her so much!! I loved how strong she was and how she let her relationship with God cover every aspect of her life! I was so proud of her when she was willing to let Steven go if he tried to push her past her boundaries and later in the story when something life-shattering happens and she finds the strength to forgive those who hurt her (I don't want to spoil anything but those of you who've read the book know what I'm talking about!)! I could go on for quite awhile about how much a love Annie, her kindness, her innocence, her heart full of love, and so much more!
There weren't as many new secondary characters but I did love Glory, Aunt Eleanor, and Frailey! And I once again loved Patrick and Marcy, Collin and Faith, Mitch and Charity, Brady and Lizzie, Luke and Katie, Sean and Emma, Gabe, and all the grand-kids!
There were hard moments, funny moments, and sweet moments in this book all of which created a story I will never forget! And even though I was sad to see it end the epilogue left me with a huge grin on my face! I love the O'Conners so much and I'm sure I will visit them again soon!
This was my first time reading any of Julie Lessman's books, and I was literally blown away!
I started this book at 10:30 pm, thinking I would only read a few chapters... well, I finished it. It wasn't my fault I was up so late, this story just kept my heart pumping and my mind racing and I could not put it down!!!
I loved the character of Annie! It was easy to relate to both her and Steven. The O'Connor family was a group of people that were so fun and real, they could've walked right out of the pages.
Highly recommended to lovers of Christian romance, however, I wouldn't have a young teen read it as it does have quite a few passionate scenes. Granted, most of them are all between the married couples, so it isn't sinful, yet it's still quite descriptive.
Julie is a fantastic author and after reading just one of her books, I can honestly say that she is in my top 5. If you haven't read anything by her yet, I say go for it! Just don't expect to get much sleep...