After reading a few of Julie's books, I've grown to love her unique style, enthusiasm, and characterization; I like the anticipation of a new storyline coupled with the comfortable feeling of knowing generally what to expect. And she never disappoints! In fact, I was so eager to read Julie's new book, second in the Hearts of San Francisco series, that I was sorely tempted to put other review commitments on hold just so I could start Dare to Love Again.
One of the strengths of this story is characterization - and with the McClare family of San Francisco, Julie has created a family dynamic of genuinely flawed characters who are unashamedly open, not only in voicing their love for each other, but showing it as well, and will go to the ends of the earth in order to protect a loved one.
Nick and Alli are great lead characters, and I loved them from the very beginning. Nick, a "penniless womanizer cop who breaks hearts for a living" according to Logan, initially comes across as slightly rough around the edges, but we quickly see his soft side with Miss Penny and the orphans she takes in. The love of 6-year-old Lottie is especially touching.
Alli realizes she has been blessed by God and wants to give back by reaching out to disadvantaged young women through the Hand of Hope school that her mother, Cait, started in the Barbary Coast area. But to Nick, Alli is just "another rich dame appeasing her guilt by dabbling in charity between high tea and tennis on the lawn."
But as much as I enjoyed the chemistry between Nick and Alli, it's Logan and Cait who steal the show. Julie does such a good job at incorporating attraction and romance between an older couple - and just when I think their story will have a happy resolution, she throws in another twist! Logan tells Cait, "I understand that you are a hard taskmaster, Cait, one whose trust I can never satisfy no matter what I do. . . . I guess I should be grateful it's only my heart that's captive and not my soul, lest I be a man lost forever."
From Nob Hill to the Barbary Coast, the San Francisco Gilded Age setting is one of contrasts and is very well done. The narrative moves at a steady pace and is laced with humor; secondary characters like Miss Penny, Lottie, and servants Hadley and Rosie are a special delight. Spiritual elements - such as the ease of praying spontaneously, caring for those in need, learning to let go of anger, forgiveness - feel like a natural part of the storyline and I found them to be both moving and challenging.
I highly recommend Dare to Love Again to romance fans everywhere.
Thank you to Lanette Haskins and Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Dare to Love Again is my first book I have read by Julie. Right now, I am wondering why that is. If her all her books are like this, then I definitely need to pick up all of them. She definitely has a new fan here. From page one of this book, I find myself literally laughing out loud. It is sweet, fun, entertaining, and romantic.
If you are looking for a great, inspiring, and humorous read, then this one if for you!
Julie Lessman returns with her unique brand of historical romance with her second Heart of San Francisco novel, Dare to Love Again, a sassy and engaging tale of two people seeking justice in differing ways. Allison desperately wants to make life better for the children she teaches and Nick has a personal mission that dictates his choices and colours his outlook on life. I really enjoyed these characters - in true Lessman style, their flaws are authentic and frustrating, leading to both funny and entertaining moments. Allison's feistiness and Nick's irritability make this couple a favourite of mine, their interactions are never dull and take twists you don't anticipate. While I struggled with a few elements and characters in Julie's previous novel, I have no such issues with Dare to Love Again. This book is a winner from start to finish!
This is one of those stories! The type of story that adheres you to its pages, shackling you as its willing captive. The type that invades your thoughts and your heart with its arresting characters, the rousing and invigorating plot, and the faith-building, inspiring voices within. And the type that has you exclaiming upon reaching the end, "Wow, now THAT was an incredible story!"
High-spirited Allison (Alli) McClare is fighting two battles. She desperately wants her independence regardless of the neighbourhood dangers; and after having her heart utterly broken by a money-hungry fraud in the past, she's been in a fight to guard her heart over the last two years. That is, until the handsome yet surly Nick Barone comes into her life and unintentionally into her heart. Nick has some monumental secrets however, so if Allison dares to love again, can she survive yet another heartbreak if these secrets were to unravel?
Dark-haired Nick Barone (must be said with a long Ã¢â¬Ëe'!) is a grouchy detective that is holding a massive grudge for the rich socialites of the community. Allison seems to fit into this mold, so when Nick is forced to teach her self-defence and see to her safety that she may have some independence, he is furious! In time, Nick sees that there is much more to this little spit-fire than he originally thought and soon this begrudging relationship, sparks and all, grows into something much more intense. Nick has plenty to overcome for this to work. Will the secrets of this angry and vengeful detective kill their hope and future before it even begins?
This is a not-to-be missed Julie Lessman masterpiece! In this second book of the Heart of San Francisco series, the lively characters we all fell in love with in the first, are right there along with Alli and Nick, providing extra scintillating dialogue and a powerful heartfelt subplot. I'm truly in awe of the author's ability to create not only the most engaging and animated conversations that have razor-sharp wit and discourse so raw and believable, but she also manages to generate romantic tension so passionate and spring-loaded that you're left breathless!
My only grievance with this story was that it came to an end. I wanted more as I wasn't ready to give it up. The good news is - there will be another following. The bad news is - I will have to wait. However this highly recommended story is easily read again in the meantime!
I've seen Julie Lessman's name in Christian fiction circles, but had never read a book by her before Dare to Love Again. If this book is a good representation of her storytelling, I certainly look forward to reading more.
From the very first page, the characters were fun and interesting -- all the way from Allison and Nick to sweet little La-di-da. The romance and plots twists kept the interest level high throughout the story. Historical fiction has recently become one of my favorite genres, and I really enjoyed this first-time look at the Barbary Coast as a setting.
Although this was the second book in a series, I had no problem jumping into the storyline or getting to know the characters. I do look forward, though, to reading more in this series by checking out the previous book.
Thanks to Revell for providing a copy of Dare to Love Again in exchange for my honest review.