Once I started this book, I could not put it down. I absolutely love the O'Connor family and recommend this book as well as all the others by Julie Lessman. This book is written with such feeling; passion for God and family and friends. Prepare to sit back and enjoy the read. I sure did!
I downloaded this book as a freebie (Thanks, Julie!), even though I have the three books in this trilogy. It is easier for my arthritic hands to hold an e-reader as these books are lengthy and heavy for me to hold.
It is still available as a free download.
I noticed some negative reviews. Don't pay any attention to them. Julie addresses issues that face real people and shows how solutions to problems and struggles within self and between family members and friends are found at the throne of God.
I began my journey with Christian romance novels with the Alaska Bride series. It was not disappointing. Then I branched out to other Christian authors, with this being my next one. I was NOT impressed. The fact that the author chooses to use a lot of semi-erotic phrases borders on unacceptable to me. I am a middle-ages married woman and still feel like this was inappropriate. There is no real need to awaken those desires outside the marriage relationship. I felt like Ms. Lessman was trying to push the boundaries of what should be acceptable amongst Christian circles. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
I don't tend to pick long books, and Julie Lessman's A Passion Most Pure definitely qualifies as long to me at 480 pages. But occasionally a story will so fill my mind that the length doesn't matter. It also helped that I bought this as an eBook, so I didn't know how long it was until I realized how slowly I was making progress through it.
While I loved the book, I realize that this is not a good fit for every Christian fiction book lover. I will start by saying the story was well written, and time was invested in several characters to really give them great substance. Several secondary issues were not finalized because this is the first book in a series, but the main story was tied up with an exciting bow.
One of the things I love about Julie Lessman is that her characters are so very real, and in a book of this length, she took great effort in letting us know their personal struggles--the discussion of which isn't always popular among Christian fiction readers.
Within this particular storyline, a devout Catholic family has several children, and, as is realistic, they are varied on the spectrum of spiritual maturity. Faith, the oldest daughter, strives to be all God wants her to be, but struggles with the passions evoked by a man she's known most of her life. Charity, the second oldest girl, is beautiful and manipulative. She is spiritually shallow, willing instead to sacrifice God in order to get what she wants. Charity is consumed by jealousy, thinking Faith gets to have everything her way, and sets out on multiple occasions to terrorize her. In one revealing scene, Charity admits that she's used her beauty and wit for so long, she didn't know if she could change--but I'm confident that's one of the main issues handled in the second book.
This book, consistent with other books by Julie Lessman, contains quite a bit of passion and multiple kisses. The author never crossed a line that made me uncomfortable, however I would not recommend these books to girls who are not yet ready to face these emotions. Additionally, one of the main characters repeatedly gets drunk, some characters seek sex as a replacement for love or comfort, and multiple characters chafe at Faith's convictions. The author handled all of these situations well, never crossing a line for me, but these are not necessarily topics everyone wants to read about.
The Bottom Line - 5 stars
If you enjoy historical romance, love realistic characters with tough family situations, and don't mind the situations I describe above, I highly recommend giving this book a try.