Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: A Hope Undaunted

Summary: What happens when the boy she loved to hate becomes the man she hates to love?

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever? -- Revell

I keep saying that I don't read a lot of Christian fiction, but that doesn't seem to be the case lately...

One Christian fiction author that I absolutely adore is Julie Lessman. Not only is she a super sweet person, but she is also a fantastic historical fiction/romance author. I have read and enjoyed her Daughters of Boston series (you can read my reviews here, here, and here), and I was very excited to learn that she is now writing another series -- Winds of Change. The first novel in the Winds of Change series is A HOPE UNDAUNTED.

I just loved all of the characters in the Daughters of Boston series, and I was relieved when I started reading A HOPE UNDAUNTED to find that many of the same characters appear in this novel. The book centers around Katie who is the youngest daughter in the O'Connor family -- the Daughters of Boston books each deal with her three older sisters. Katie was just a young girl in the other novels, but in A HOPE UNDAUNTED, she has definitely grown up. And, Katie's spunk as a child has carried forward into her young adulthood. She knows what she wants and when she wants it!

I really, really enjoyed A HOPE UNDAUNTED. Of course, I have come to know and love the O'Connors, and I always like reading about their lives. I loved that the extended family was included in this book through the inclusions of side stories, but the real treat of this novel was Katie. I found Katie to be a very interesting character, and I appreciated learning about her journey to find her faith.

I have to admit that I kind of had a difficult time liking Katie and her friends throughout the first part of this novel. I thought Katie was extremely self-centered and materialistic; however, I also think she struggled with her role in life. Not to make too many excuses for her, but she was the youngest child of a large family which couldn't have been easy; and she was growing up in the 1920s when there was so much change occurring for women. Since I was familiar with Katie's sisters' stories, I had a feeling that she would eventually "see the light." I just know that I found myself frustrated with how long it took for her to get there.

That's not to say that I didn't like Katie because I certainly did. Even when she was acting bratty, there was still something about her. As Katie struggled with growing up and realizing what was important in her life, I could see little glimmers of hope for her character. It took some major crises to occur before Katie allowed God into her life, but isn't that the case with so many of us? What I really liked was that once Katie realized her priorities, she showed the same spunk and determination that demonstrated in the first half of the book...but with a more positive (and meaningful) result.

I'm usually not a fan of romance books, but for some reason, I don't seem to mind these elements in a Julie Lessman novel. I think she has a way of writing these scenes where they don't come across as silly. What I do know (and love) is that she manages to show some very real aspects of male/female relationships -- both the ups and the downs. And, I guess I'm just a sucker for how much her characters love each other on many different levels.

As is the case with every Julie Lessman book that I've read, I thought the messages in A HOPE UNDAUNTED were beautiful and ones that I can never hear too often. There were quite a few positive messages about faith, trust and love in this story, but the one that really spoke to me was the importance of patience. (Maybe if I read the book again, another message would stick out to me, but evidently I needed to hear about patience at this point in my life.) Despite all of the lessons that Katie learned during this story, I think the one that was probably the most difficult for her was learning to be patient. When I saw how she demonstrated this trait during the end of the book, I realized just how far she had come.

Another aspect of this book that pleasantly surprised me were the historical details. The book takes place in the late 1920s a time of great change in our country.There were lots of references to women's rights and the suffrage movement that I found very interesting, but I also liked reading about prohibition as well as the Great Depression. In fact, I really enjoyed that the story took place during the Roaring 20s, and I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

If you are a fan of Julie Lessman's, then you won't want to miss A HOPE UNDAUNTED!

By the way, there are lots of fun activities surrounding the release of A HOPE UNDAUNTED. The author is sponsoring a contest with a brand new KINDLE and other great prizes! Check out the details at the contest preview page. In addition, she is hosting a Facebook Party on October 7th, with a live chat and the KINDLE winner will be announced. Go here for the details.


A big thanks to Revell/Baker Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this novel. A HOPE UNDANTED is available September 2010 at your favorite bookseller.

11 comments:

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Julie, WHAT a review!!! It blessed my socks off, and I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to write such an amazingly articulate and beautiful review -- I am blessed!!

I cannot thank Amy enough for introducing me to you! If you are prone to posting reviews on Amazon.com and CBD.com, I would LOVE that, but if that's not your thing, I certainly understand.

Have a great week, and I pray God blesses you as much as you have blessed me!

Hugs,
Julie

bermudaonion said...

Everyone seems to love this book!

Sandy Nawrot said...

YOu have intrigued me! I think it is fun to be able to follow a family through a series. And yes, I kind of sense that the main character in this book is bratty, but that is almost to be expected, based on the time period and her age. I was pretty bratty at that age, as I recall. I'm so glad you loved it! Great review!

Sandy Nawrot said...

YOu have intrigued me! I think it is fun to be able to follow a family through a series. And yes, I kind of sense that the main character in this book is bratty, but that is almost to be expected, based on the time period and her age. I was pretty bratty at that age, as I recall. I'm so glad you loved it! Great review!

Mary said...

My review went up yesterday - I really enjoyed it. It's the first Julie Lessman book for me so I'm interested to hear the family is in a previous series. I loved seeing Katie's character experience growth. Nice review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds interesting except I'm not sure why it's Christian fiction?

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I loved the Daughters of Boston series and I was so looking forward to this one. It was terrific. I totally agree about Katie. It took me a while to warm up to her and I was so glad to see her really blossom. I'm excited for the rest of the series.

justpeachy36 said...

I'm reviewing this one later in the week and I'll have to say it was really a great book.

I think Christian Fiction should be subtle and not hit you over the head with a hammer LOL... and this book really achieved a great balance of faith issues vs. great story! Really liked it.

Great review!

Mystica said...

Love your review. I also love the cover!

tracysbooknook.com said...

Great review!

I really quite enjoyed A Hope Undaunted and am a big fan of Julie Lessman.

I found the characters to be fairly three dimensional and enjoyed the interaction between the two main characters, Katie and Luke, although at times I was surprised by Katie’s sudden abrupt turns. The O’Connor family is true to form in their larger-than-life sort of Irish personalities and entertaining as always.

I posted a more in-depth review of my own at www.tracysbooknook.com.

I would love it if you made a guest post on my blog some day.

-Tracy

tracysbooknook.com said...

Oops!

When I said a "more in-depth review" I meant more in-depth compared to the short comment I had made.

Sorry if that was unclear.

-Tracy