Such as a book review! Those of you who know me, know I am a quick and avid book reader. I was the girl who got in trouble for reading during class, was best friends with the librarians, and can discuss her favorite books for hours upon end. In this blog alone I have an entire web page about my favorite Books!
Since I have finally just finished my summer classes I have finally had the wonderfully glorious opportunity to resume reading again for fun! I know, I know. My English Major is showing when the minute I'm completed reading assigned novels like "Faust" and "Dante's Inferno", I pick a bunch of books and start to read more. Still, it is one of my favorite things to do and it gives proof to all the more reason why I should be and English Major. Haha.
Anyways, to the project at hand! The most recent book I just completed is by one of my favorite authors. Julie Lessman is known for writing Christians Historical Fiction (my favorite genre) with a great big plate of romance on the side. *Cringe* I never wanted to be the girl who admitted to ever reading romance novels, but alas that is Lessman's forte. Yet, I am not ashamed to say that I adore her books. Lessman's motto is "passion with a purpose". This means Lessman's focus is on the fact that one cannot find true romance and passion without God as the center of every relationship.
"A Hope Undaunted" is the first book in the Winds of Change Series by Lessman, but the fourth book about the O'Connor family. "A Hope Undaunted" is about 20 year old Katie O'Connor. The lives of her three older sisters can be found in The Daughters of Boston Series (novels titled "A Passion Most Pure", "A Passion Redeemed", and "A Passion Denied"). Katie O'Connor has come of age during the wild and reckless Roaring 20s right before the Great Depression. Katie is as opinionated, feisty, strong-willed, and independent as they come. She knows what she wants out of life and has it all planned out on how she's going to get it. Unfortunately for Katie, her father has decided she needs some toning down and has gotten her a job volunteering at a children's home. The loss of her social life would be the worst part of the bargain if it weren't for the fact that she is forced to work under the authority of "Cluny" Luke McGee, her childhood arch enemy and bane of her entire existence. What does God have in store for these two young people from very different backgrounds when they meet again for the first time in years?
I enjoyed this book immensely. It was odd at first seeing the mischievous little girl, featured in her sister's books, all grown up and interested in boys, haha. While Katie's oldest sister's novel, "A Passion Most Pure" is still my favorite, but "A Hope Undaunted" is definitely my second. Ways I know I'm reading a good book:
#1 The amount of emotional turmoil.
#2 The inability to put it down.
Both of these were true of this book. Katie's headstrong and self-reliant attitude transformed her into a character I found myself VERY able to relate to. Often her stubbornness makes her a total pain... yet it also makes her a very flawed and real very human. She makes mistake, she frets, she worries, she ponders, sometimes she has the totally wrong perspective on things (most often about her family)... yet all these imperfections lead her on a beautiful journey to God... and, of course, to love. Lessman likes to keep us guessing till the end... hence my extreme emotional turmoil. You get so torn between characters. I seriously had to just put the book down a few times to be like "WHYYYY?!" or "OH MY WORD!!" My heart was 100% drawn into this book. I love the spiritual lessons Lessman fills her books with. I always try and take my time to read them thoroughly gleaning what I can to find the Biblical life lessons I should be working into my own life. The nice thing about these novels too is Lessman continues to build story lines about her previous characters. Faith (Katie's elder sister "A Passion Most Pure") is still my favorite character and I love her and her husband's marriage. They have a beautiful marriage, but there is so much to be learned from it. They both make mistakes, they both must learn to forgive... They must learn to live with the consequences of past choices, but move on knowing God's forgiveness and faithfulness. All the characters struggle, no one is perfect... sometimes they are downright heartbreaking in their poor decisions... or in Luke's case, perhaps the wrong decision for a VERY right, chivalrous, and good-hearted reason. It sure tears you up though (in the best most painful way possible... haha). This book was a great reminder that we can't "out plan" God. Everything works in His timing and often the hardest answer is "Wait". Katie had to let go of her need to control... because in truth she never had any control. Her entire life was always in God's hands. I know that is a lesson I also need to learn.
If you are looking for an exciting read filled with Lessman's "passion with a purpose" this book is stellar. I would recommend reading The Daughters of Boston Series prior to reading this one, but all her books are exciting, fun, romantic, and really Biblically sound fiction novels.
I suppose, on a personal level, you could say these books helped me believe in romance again... romance in its truest form with God at the center. In an e-mail reply author Julie Lessman sent me, after I inquired about her real perspectives on love, passion and romance, she wrote this:
"Now mind you, life is life with all of its hurts and failings and pot bellies and gray hair, for sure, BUT … with God smack dab in the center of a relationship or marriage, consistent application of His precepts, AND endless prayer … YES, I believe it is not only possible to come as close to the romantic relationships in my books (given this fallen world we live in and its stark reality), BUT … EXACTLY what God wants for us as well!! [. . . .] I truly believe ALL things are possible with Him. [. . .] Sarah, there is NOTHING better in a marriage than to know you are the most important thing in that man's life. That is true romance in the purest sense of the word, created by a God who gave us HIS model in His Son Jesus, Who ALSO shows each of us that we are His beloved and clearly the "most important thing" in His life. :)"
Wise and comforting words from a wonderful woman of God. Thanks Mrs. Lessman.