Sunday, November 1, 2015

My Review: Isle of Hope

Happy release day to Miss Julie!  I'm so excited for more readers to get this book and discover this awesome story!  Also, isn't this cover cute?  I like the colors, though I personally would've preferred the title to be all one color and the others focused in the sunset.

She stole his heart.
He stole her peace.
Can hope steal their pain?

At the age of eighteen, Lacey Carmichael was a wild girl bent on fun, promised to Jack O'Bryen, a straight-and-narrow pastor’s kid bent on the seminary. When her father kicks her out of the house, she runs away from Isle of Hope, turning her back on everything she loves. Now, eight years later, she’s back as a woman of faith, hoping to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she denied. Only the bridges she’s burned are still smoldering, kindled by an adulterous affair by Jack’s pastor father that damaged his son’s faith. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?

About the Author:
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston series, the Winders of Change series, and The Heart of San Francisco series. The recipient of seventeen Romance Writers of America and other awards, Lessman was chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 and 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. She resides in Missouri with her family. Learn more at

My Review: 4.5 stars
Isle of Hope is Julie Lessman’s first contemporary Christian novel and the first in a series by the same name. I’ve adored her historical novels and she is definitely one of my all-time favorite authors, so I was super excited for this book! When an author shifts genres I always have this question of, “will I like it as well?” in the back of my mind. Sometimes I don’t, just to be honest. The writing comes off as forced, or I think perhaps that sometimes as a reader, I don’t like the change. That being said, I can very happily say I loved this book just as much as her historical ones!

Though this book is contemporary, Julie definitely doesn’t change her writing style, just the setting. I think what first drew me to Julie’s writing was the passion behind every story. Her love for the Lord comes through on every page, and also challenges my walk with Him. Next was the complexity of her stories. I love the sagas and following the characters through the ups and downs of life. I found myself falling in love with characters who come to life so completely that they feel like life-long friends. Finally, the depth of her writing. The emotions that are so evident on every page that it seems I’m experiencing them, too. Her attention to detail is rarely rivaled and I love her writing style, as well. All of this, and a myriad of other things, all come together to create books that grab my heart and hold on. This story is no different in any of those aspects, something I was very happy to see.

This is a story of redemption in so many ways. Lacey Carmichael has made many mistakes in her past. More than she’d care to ever remember. But after becoming a new Christian, she returns home to make amends. I fell in love with her from the start. Her honesty and desire to make things right after so many years of running away; her earnest attempts to live for God, even when she fails and feels unworthy of His grace. Lacey became so real to me and I was cheering for her every step of the way. She is incredibly tenacious and determined when she sets her mind to it, and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She also has a pretty great support system, so even when her faith was flagging and she wanted to surrender, they wouldn’t let her. I loved following her as she learned what it truly means to be a child of God and how to follow His leading.

Jack O’Bryen is actually the complete opposite, now. The man who was once so on fire for God, is now running from Him with everything he has. This is as much his redemption story as it is Lacey’s. Jack is broken and bitter, after feeling betrayed by two people he so dearly loved. There were a few times that he was hard to love, simply because of his anger. But, it was easy to look beyond it to the hurting man he tried so hard to bury.

Julie’s books always challenge my faith, which I’ve already mentioned. I love the spiritual depth her books contain, which goes beyond a fair amount of the books currently in the Christian market. Not only does God come first, but the evidence of the strength of her relationship with Him comes through incredibly clearly. And it’s always obvious that whatever topic she’s chosen is something she’s battled with before. It’s personal for her, which allows it to become real for this reader. It never feels forced or pushes beyond what is needed to be said. This book especially, because it’s self-published goes a little bit deeper than some. The redemption theme is very evident and I loved that she didn’t gloss over any of it, but rather took her time and allowed God to decide where she should stop.

I also enjoyed the dual romance that Julie always has in her books. It adds an extra layer of depth for me and I enjoy the continuation throughout the series. So, I’m very excited to read the next book and find out what happens there. Plus, I don’t know who’s story is next and the suspense is driving me batty!

Honestly, I have just one very minor complaint, which is what’s keeping me from a full 5 star rating. The last few chapters felt rushed to me and sometimes a little choppy. I actually really wanted more detail. I wanted her to fill in some blanks, drag it out a bit more. I imagine the reason it’s like this is because it’s a pretty long book and she may have felt it needed to be shortened a bit. Personally, she could write a book to rival “War and Peace” in length and I would still run to grab it, but I know not everyone feels the same way. Maybe it’s just me, but I would have enjoyed a few more pages toward the end.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great romance filled with the truth of God’s love and grace!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it!  Also, good news for those of us who adore owning the paper version - I heard from Miss Julie that the paper version should be available mid-November!  But, if you're like me and incredibly impatient, the ebook version works wonderfully well and is available on Amazon for $7.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited.  Thanks again for coming by!  I hope you have a blessed week!


  1. Hi Sarah I enjoyed reading your review. I've pre order my copy. Would you be willing to stop by my blog and check mine to c what u think? It's http:// I've only just started. Thank you! !!

  2. SARAH!! Thank you SO much for the great review -- I appreciate it more than I can say!

    Hugs and more hugs,