Tag Archive | San Francisco

MY REVIEW OF

“SURPRISED BY LOVE”

BY JULIE LESSMAN

(Book #3 in the Heart of San Francisco series)

FIVE STARS

5 STARS

surprise

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?

Fan favorite Julie Lessman draws a romantic triangle that will have readers in a tizzy in this glittering Gilded Age tale of transforming love.

…….MY REVIEW…….

Megan McClare has metamorphosed into a stunning butterfly during her year with the Rousseau’s family in Paris.  None of her family or friends expected it – let alone her best friend Bram Hughes.  Bram is unpredictably attracted to Megan and plays like a turtle withdrawing into himself confused.   Stunned even more when Megan attempts to tell him her true feelings, which drives him further away.  Bram is the one man who could make a shy and awkward little girl feel beautiful despite the baby fat and glasses.   The confidante to Meg for years in regard to the bullying Meg received from classmate Devin Caldwell.  Being older – he has been the big brother to Meg –affectionately referring to her as “Bug.”

 

The story begins at a happy reunion of the McClare family, Caitlyn McClare, matriarch to this clan; cousin Cassie McClare McKenna and her new husband, Jamie; Alli McClare and her fiancé Nick; Uncle Logan McClare, once engaged to Caitlyn and still in love with each other – secretly; Blake McClare, still single; seven year old Maddie McClare; Bram Hughes; and of course their housekeeper Rosie O’Brien and Hadley, the butler who is nearly deaf and blind.  Not to forget Miss Behave – the family parrot.

 

Julie Lessman is true to her excellence in constructing a story, leaving one breathless as she ends almost every chapter with a question.   Ms. Lessman has a knack for creating page turners – consolidating several stories – each with a conclusion, some predictable – most all surprising!  However, be aware for explosions and mysteries to happen throughout.   You may think you can predict what might happen, but do not be too quick to assume anything where Julie Lessman’s writing is concerned.

 

Meg’s mother Caitlyn has arranged for Meg to be an intern for District Attorney Andrew Turner, who just happens to be Logan’s worst enemy, ex-best friend.   To complicate matters, Andrew is in love with Caitlyn and pursues a courtship with her.  And then – lo and behold – Devin Caldwell is also a summer intern for DA Turner and does not recognize Meg – until she prompts his mind.  Devin falls in love with Meg and they become close.  Meg cannot forget Bram and feels rejected.  Meg’s kindness helps turn Secretary Bonnie Roof from a weed into a flower so that George, the executive assistant DA would notice her.  One of Meg’s better qualities was her interest in bettering life for everyone.

 

All of the above led to heartache, romance, mystery, humor and exhilaration – even dirty politics melds into this story to thwart Caitlyn and Meg’s plans to wipe out the horrible plight of women and girls ensnared in the brothels of the Barbary Coast.   Hopefully you have read the first two books in this series.   You might better understand this tale – however “Surprised by Love” is easily a stand-alone story.  There is much more activity to entertain you including Jamie’s mother and sister’s story from a preceding book.  Believe me, you will never be bored!

 

Bram’s mature faith in God spoke to me time and again.  He mentored Logan into praying and believing.  You will not be able to hold your tears while he describes how he feels trapped into marrying Amelia Darlington to help his father’s business survive.  Bram’s guilty conscience over his involvement in hurting his father’s health and sight is well hidden – but just another reason why he cannot entertain the idea of being in love with Meg.  Julie Lessman’s own faith in God is so apparent in the prose and scripture that fill this novel with the beauty and splendor of God’s intervention with the characters.  Ms. Lessman has a proverbial pen that does not disappoint.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for an honest review

INTRODUCING AUTHOR JULIE LESSMAN……..

10389436_10153010917093455_3619818035950028069_nHello … I’m Julie Lessman, an Inspirational Romance author with a passion for God and a passion for romance. Since the age of twelve, I’ve been in love with the idea of being “in love.” It happened the moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks. Suddenly I was a goner, spellbound by the emotional ebb and flow of romantic relationships.

As an adult, I quickly learned that true romance is spiritual as well as physical and emotional. And one pass through the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible told me that God was the biggest romantic of them all, deeply passionate in His love for each of us. Through my love affair with Him, I have discovered that romance can transcend to another dimension where romantic passion and spiritual passion merge, creating a 3-D love story: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. I hope you enjoy my stories … and may they bring you closer to the Father’s heart.

I am a lucky wife, mother, and grandmother who also happens to write inspirational family-saga romance!! My tagline is “Passion with a Purpose,” so if you want to know what that is, check out my website at julielessman.comand/or my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/JulieLessmanAuthor

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.”

Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

You can connect with Julie on her websiteblogFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

AN INTERVIEW WITH

LISA LICKEL

AUTHOR OF

BRAVE NEW CENTURY

bravenewcentury_new

With the recent release of Brave New Century, author Lisa Lickel adds yet another contributing piece to her already-brimming resume. Set in Milwaukie at the turn of the century, Lickel writes of history, romance and of finding your way, even if it means blazing your own trail.
 
Blazing trails and finding her way when the path wasn’t so clear is a concept Lickel has mastered. Her career spans two decades, includes the death of a close friend in a space shuttle accident, and beyond writing to a successful pursuit into editing and mentoring. Perhaps the secret to her success can be found in the verse perched on her website’s home page: “Let us hold unswervingly to our faith, for He who promised is faithful.” ~Hebrews 10:23
 
In our recent interview, Lickel was transparent as she talked about her friend’s accident, her contributing story, Three Rings for Alice, that kicks off the Brave New Century novella, and of course, she filled me in on the impressive 160 year old house she currently resides in.
LISA
 

AUTHOR LISA LICKEL

MN-You have a fascinating bio, which includes reference to a former classmate who was killed in a space shuttle accident. How did that event contribute to your writing career?
LL-I still remember when I heard the news—I was driving and had to pull over. Hearing of Laurel’s death wasn’t exactly a catalyst, as I’d been taking the Christian Writers Guild course, but writing about it and seeing the piece published in the local paper helped me continue to pursue writing and make connections within the local publishing community.
MN-Of all the pieces that you have written, fiction and non-fiction, contributions to magazines as well as writing in the historical, romance and mystery genres, you say that your passion is inspirational fiction. What do you hope to ccomplish through your writing, especially as it relates to inspirational fiction?
LL-Fiction is almost always for recreation, for pleasure, though naturally most readers want some value for their entertainment money, whether learning about new places, customs, or taking a peek into an unfamiliar world. I hope to provide clean entertainment, maybe even some clean shock value, to show people who live in faith but still go through worldly troubles. People who practice faith have a different perspective in reaction to problems, so I show readers another path out of the woods, and hopefully make those who don’t have a faith system see that it’s not scary.
MN-You recently contributed to an anthology titled Brave New Century. Tell me a little about Three Rings for Alice and how you came up with the concept for this particular story.
LL-The story was originally written for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents monthly newsletter that went out to their subscribers. Each newsletter contained a chapter from a serial story; no more than 500 words, one contemporary and one historical, alternating years. So, I tried writing a historical story about a young woman facing the turn of the twentieth century in the big city instead of on the prairie where so many historicals were taking place. When it didn’t sell, I re-wrote my story to pad it out a bit and put out a call for others to join me writing similarly themed stories for a potential anthology.
MN-I love your lead character, Alice. She has such spunk; I’d love to see her character alive and well in 2014. Do you think she would be more of a feminist or activist for those in poverty?
LL-Thank you. I enjoyed Alice, too, and really immersed myself in newspapers, photos, books, and reports of the era to get a feel for her personality. It was a changing time all over the world; people couldn’t rely on old family money, and women had to enter the workforce in order to survive, often even if they were married. I think she might be a social worker or at least a very benevolent business owner today.
MN-Why set your story in Milwaukee? Is there something about it that especially intrigues you?
LL-I live near that city; my concept was to show life in big cities as opposed to the prairie. Milwaukee is interesting, as it was settled by people of strong ethnicity who created neighborhoods for themselves and supported each other. It’s still the most culturally segregated city in the US, which is both bad and good. But Wisconsin was always a progressive state, and we have a rich heritage in producing goods and manufacturing. Milwaukee had a series of socialist mayors for decades into the twentieth century. When I read about building the new city hall and the modern innovations they used, I had the foundation for my story.
MN-So, tell me about this 160 year old house that you live in. I can only imagine the history connected to it.
LL-It’s a fun house, and as a historian of course I found out everything I could about it. Surprisingly it hasn’t been handed down from family to family, but each generation has been a different family coming in. It was built by a Great Lakes ship captain, then purchased by a German family who later built a hotel in a nearby city; I have a photograph of the house from that era, in 1881, when the house was already 30 years old. Then it was purchased by an Irish family who had ties to the little Catholic chapel in the neighborhood, then owned by a couple of other families who had family in the neighborhood. We bought it in the ’80s, and my youngest son learned to walk here. I’ve enjoyed it more than my husband, I think, as there isn’t a straight edge or 90-degree angle in the entire place, and we had to update the electrical and plumbing systems.
MN-What is your ideal writing location and how often are you able to go there and create?
LL-As an empty-nester I have the run of the house. I like to get up and down, move around, when I’m working, so I’m all over the place. I have a desk and a couple of chairs I’ll alternate between, even a deck. I have to discipline myself to take time for my own work as well as that of my editing clients.
MN-What is the go-to mantra that keeps you focused on your goals when life throws its many distractions your way?
LL-“It’ll be nice when it’s done.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR…….

Author Bio- Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include the Buried Treasure mystery series (The Last Bequest, The Map Quilt and The Newspaper Code) and the Fancy Cat Mystery Meow Mayhem; as well as the award-winning romance, Meander ScarA Summer in Oakville co-authored with best-selling author Shellie Neumeier, Healing Grace, Brave New Century, a historical anthology, an anthology A Wisconsin Harvest, Vol II, and The Last Detail. She has penned dozens of feature newspaper stories, short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin magazine and loves to encourage new authors. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer and blogger, a freelance editor, a writing mentor, and blogger. She is married to a high school biology teacher, and they have two sons and daughters in law, grandchildren and a grand-kitty.
You can connect with author Lisa Lickel at her website and on Facebook.

Meet Our Journalist

MARYMary is an avid reader, writer, editor and self-proclaimed advocate for the authors that make Christian publishing the great industry it is. She supports publishers by interviewing authors and promoting their new releases, as well as upholding a standard of ethics that defines the word “Christian”.  Her passion is to see the publishing business excel by promoting literature that speaks to our generation without compromise. Mary is the host of Marysworld Internet radio talk show, maintains a website affiliated with several publishers, and is a member of the Evangelical Press Association. (EPA) 

             Mary Nichelson
                                                            Mary’s World Website & Blog      Friend Mary on FB

MY REVIEW

 An anthology!  Actually, my first anthology review of four unique delightful novellas revealing a few significant chapters from the lives of four young women experiencing life changes through God’s grace during the time period of the early 1900’s.

 

Lisa Lickel authored Three Rings for Alice.  The title lead me to think of rings worn on fingers, however my thoughts were modified when I read this amusing story of telephones ringing, mystifying the young lady Alice with an intriguing voice she hoped to meet.  Alice was an emerging modern woman of her day, among the first women to work as the secretary to the Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Orphaned as a child, she is forced to make her own way, vowing to never marry….but….the fellows interested in marrying her are uninteresting.  Is it possible to fall in love with a voice over the phone?  Ms. Lickel displays her expertise to write a completely entertaining story.

 

Forgiven, written by Paula Mowery and set in Knoxville, Tennessee is a sweet classic story of Henry Smith and Jessie Lee Capelle, two young people falling in love at first sight.  Neither is aware that a tragic historic event involving both their fathers will come to light causing tumultuous interference to their engagement to marry.  Henry’s mother, widowed and losing a son in the past tragedy, has her mind set on Cassandra to become Henry’s wife.  The twists and turns in this romantic mystery kept me awake late.  A satisfying read that you will surely enjoy.

 

Kathleen Rouser brilliantly wrote The Pocket Watch – about Isabel Jones, an orphan, and  Dr. Daniel Harper so attracted to one another through an accident that the possibility of marriage to one another could cause tremendous scandal over this forbidden union by God and society of Detroit, Michigan.  Two inanimate objects, first a pocket watch lost, and a ring cause possible ended destiny for this beautiful couple in love.  Ms. Rouser has written a fascinating story with a blend of great characters – you won’t want to miss this read.

 

A Flame of Hope, composed by Teena Stewart is an ignited story of love during the disastrous San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Petite Lily McMinn works in her family’s mercantile and eagerly anticipates the visits of handsome Policeman Gideon Light who often drop by for lunch at the mercantile’s refreshment deli.  This couple is just beginning the blessing of a real love relationship when the earthquake occurred.  Gideon becomes the hero for Lily and her family. Learning to live through a deathly time for others is greatly challenging to all involved in this story.  Ms. Stewarts descriptive penning of events is excellent and enlightening as to how God works through dire situations to deepen faith.

 

Each of these authors encompasses the imagination to extend their writings to complete novels, if they had so chosen.  Their novellas are absolute breath takers, in that the wonders of compassion, forgiveness, new faith, soul searching and turn of the century occurrences for women to express their individuality has been well researched and expressed.  Lisa Lickel, Paula Mowery, Kathleen Rouser and Teena Stewart – you have glorified our Lord through your finely penned hands.  Thank you for bringing tears of emotion to my eyes.  To me, when I cry over a story, that’s a sign of a great writer.  We all need a good cry once in a while….after all, God does gather our tears in jars.  He understands why we shed them.  My prayers for each of you are that He will continue to bless you with words for readers to find praiseworthy.

All the above originally was published in The Wordsmith Journal Magazine in the past three months.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

LOVE AT ANY COST –  BOOK ONE

AUTHOR JULIE LESSMAN

AUTHOR JULIE LESSMAN

BOOK ONE

Fooled by a pretty boy once,

 shame on him.

Fooled by a pretty boy twice,

shame on me.

Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassady McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who just as soon hogtie a man as look at him … until Jamie MacKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well lassoes her heart. But when Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than him, Cassie finds herself bucked by love a second time, sending her back to Texas to lick her wounds and heal her heart. In her absence, Jamie discovers money can’t buy love, but love built on faith can set a heart free, a truth he discovers a little too late … or is it?

THE SERIES

“Heart of San Francisco

From the glitter and glamour of San Francisco’s Nob Hill and Napa wine country, to the seedy dance halls and gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, “The Heart of San Francisco” series is a study in contrasts between the haves and have-nots, and barriers between rich and poor that only faith can transcend.

The story of the McClares, a wealthy political family in 1902 San Francisco, not only highlights the struggles of faith and heart of three cousins, but of the matriarch of the family as well, Caitlyn McClare. A widow of strong faith and beauty, Caitlyn butts heads and hearts with her handsome brother-in-law Logan McClare, the fiancé who betrayed her before she married his brother. In a breathtaking city where the Irish were predominant in the early 1900s and wielding power in both politics and wealth, the story of the McClares is a glimpse into beauty and degradation, poverty and promise during a riveting time in our nation’s history.

MY REVIEW

Beware!  This book is highly combustive!  Be warned of flying sparks that will ignite your passion and warm your heart.  Julie Lessman is no less, and by far more –(less is more) skilled than ever shaping and sculpting the clay of this story into fine porcelain.  Julie’s novels are true classics in the making.  By the time you finish this fantabulous story – you will understand Julie’s title,  Love at Any Cost, proving it can blaze upward to expensive heights.

We all remember and love the O’Connor family in Boston, and now we enjoy being in beautiful San Francisco at the turn of the twentieth century and meet the McClare family with much unrevealed history.  Prepare yourself for future shock and don’t say you weren’t warned.  Julie takes you deeper into suspense and mystery than usual and you’ll be pulled in like taffy with delicious scenes of life’s trauma and drama in the life of the McClares.

Cassidy McClare, spirited personality in more ways than one, deep faith in God and gutsy in a prideful Texan cowgirl way, steps off a train in San Francisco during May, 1902 and immediately is knocked on her behind, literally by Jamie McKenna.  Thus begins the story with Cassidy’s first thought “Sweet thunderation – deliver me from pretty men!” of which she has a proclivity.  Cassidy, just burned when Mark her pretty boy fiancé’ in Texas broke their engagement when he learned that her family oil wells had dried up, their cattle sold, and their ranch up for auction – leaving the Texas McClare’s much less wealthy and a disadvantage to the purpose of the engagement, in Mark Chancellor’s plans.

Julie writes in vivid Technicolor, dialogue witty and humorous, evocative and eloquent and plot within plot that tantalizes ire and empathy toward characters at the same time.   Ms Lessman gives each individual in the cast a definite personality with their own thoughts italicized conveniently for the reader.  A great style!  We were introduced to all through vast description from Rosie the housekeeper and Hadley the deaf butler, right down to Miss B the family pet parrot.  Jamie McKenna is definitely a “pretty boy” who considers himself the last coke in the desert to a wealthy woman looking for love.  Julie does a great piece of work with Jamie’s story.

Julie Lessman writes from her personal relationship with God.  How could anyone not understand who He is from her words of praise telling of his holiness and grace?  Will those prayers of the believers for the unbelievers be answered?  There is true test of wills of everyone in this story that lead to miracles and big changes through prayer and faith.

You might have noticed the main storyline hasn’t been outlined in this review, in fear of inadvertently adding spoilers.  I can say again to prepare for shocks and sparks flying in the last few chapters that are not the usual Julie Lessman style – at least not in prior series – and I am favorably impressed with Julie’s sparkling imagination in this novel.  I hope to see more in her future writings.  I’m not telling any secrets, I’ve pleasantly devoured this book and I know them all.  I’m sure Miss B knows them all too, and she’s not telling!

ABOUT JULIE LESSMAN…….554228_10151156574747449_361685248_n

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.”

Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/

http://www.julielessman.com/from-the-heart/

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Well, friends – there you have it!  The best novel thus far by writer Julie Lessman.  I sincerely hope you will enjoy what you’ve read above and be encouraged to get a copy of the book and be blessed enough to scorch the clothes off your back.  LOL!  Just kidding about being scorched….so I hope you’ll feel the desire to read this book of Julie’s and love it as much as I do.

Blessings Today and Every Day…..

Barb