You know I have to gush about the cover, right? I just can't resist! I love this cover - it's my favorite of the books in this series. The colors are gorgeous and I just adore that hat! Her expression is also very fitting, she looks elegant, but also ready to take on whatever comes at her. Okay, I'm good now. :)
She can turn the head of the man who spurned her - but can she turn his heart?
When Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris, no one would accuse her of being poised and pretty. But on the other side of the Atlantic, this wallflower blossomed into a beauty with big dreams. When she returns to California and accepts an internship at the district attorney's office, she's thrilled that her life is taking shape. But the excited opportunity quickly loses its glow when she discovers she'll be working alongside Devin Caldwell, who mercilessly mocked her at school - and with whom she was hopelessly enamored.
Bram Hughes is the best friend to whom Megan has always turned for support and advice. But when she seeks his counsel about working with Devin Caldwell, Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a little sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?
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 www.julielessman.com.
(Cover photo from Goodreads. Description [italics mine] and about the author copied from the back cover. All rights reserved.)
My Review: 5 stars
I didn’t want it to end!Surprised by Love is the third book in Julie Lessman’s The Heart of San Francisco series. I loved the first two in this series, so I was extremely excited to read this one. I was positive that Ms. Lessman couldn’t possibly top Dare to Love Again, which is the second book in this series, but she did! I have no idea how, but her books just keep getting better!
The descriptions and details were wonderful, as always. I loved the little known historical facts she threw in here and there, which were very interesting, without detracting from the flow of the story. I was engrossed from page one and didn’t want to put it down. The characters were fascinating and Julie’s writing was fabulous, as expected. Honestly, she could probably write a textbook on some very boring-to-me topic and I’d think it was great. There were several times when it was almost poetic and touched my heart very deeply. Julie has yet to disappoint me and I doubt she will, until she quits writing.
Megan McClare is the “middle” McClare child. We’ve met her in past books and she was always very shy and rather awkward. She had glasses and braces, and was not the thinnest person ever. When she returns home from spending her senior year of school in Paris, no one recognizes her. She grew and changed in many ways. Aside from outward appearance, her aspirations have also undergone a change. I had adored Meg from the first moment we met her, but I truly fell in love with her in this book. She is so sweet and caring, careful of the feelings of others, and always looking out for everyone. She still struggles with self-esteem issues and being confident in who she has become, even though she is no longer the awkward young lady she was before. I loved this quote that is used a couple times throughout the story. “True confidence blooms in the soil of a relationship with God, in following His path rather than one’s own, pursuing His truth rather than the world’s.” - Mrs. Rousseau, page 369 I enjoyed watching Megan grow throughout the story and discover the truth behind this quote.
Abraham “Bram” Hughes is the hero in this story. We know him rather well from Love At Any Cost, the first book in the series. He is the most serious on of the “Three Musketeers,” as the guys call themselves. He is the one most of them turn to for Godly advice and counsel. He is also Meg’s best friend. He is steadfast, strong, committed, kind, loving, handsome, and many other things. I particularly loved his kindness and compassion toward Meg. He is her anchor and has been for most of her life. But, he’s always seen her as a little sister, so when she returns and he suddenly doesn’t see her that way anymore, it confuses things. He struggles with how to still treat her the same and what to do with his unwanted feelings. I loved how realistic he is, especially in his struggles, not just with attraction, but also with his past mistakes. He is weighed down by guilt, but feels he deserves it, so he makes no effort to escape. I enjoyed his journey, as he found love and freedom, in rather unexpected places. When I first found out this was to be Meg and Bram’s book, I couldn’t figure out how on earth that was going to work out. I was afraid it might be awkward or weird, but it actually made perfect sense the further I read. Who better to fall in love with, than your best friend? I found their romance very sweet and loved following their relationship as they fought to find their footing and adjust to all of the changes in their friendship. Then there was also the on-going relationship between Caitlyn and Logan. I was very excited to see where that would go and also get to know them better. I actually enjoyed the fact that Julie stretched it out through all three books, as it is somewhat secondary and I believe she needed all three to bring it to a comfortable conclusion. Their romance has been on-again-off-again as they struggle through years of history between them, lies, and fears. I’ve loved the progression throughout each story and the anticipation of wondering where they would go from here. I did almost pitch the book somewhere at one point, because I was just so mad at them. I’m glad I didn’t, though, because the ending was so sigh-worthy.
As much as I adore the characters, the relationships, and everything else about Julie’s books, I have to say that my favorite part is always the spiritual journey the characters go on. I love reading Julie’s books because I know I will always be challenged and encouraged in my faith. I love how the theme isn’t the same throughout the story, but rather it changes and progresses as the characters grow. A couple of the main themes that kind of carry on are forgiveness, and giving your plans and dreams to the Lord. I have already mentioned that Bram struggles with guilt, so forgiveness is a big deal for him. He believes he is redeemed and accepted by God, but still feels he must make restitution. This quote just struck me, “. . . he knew in God’s eyes in no one else’s, he was a man redeemed by a humble carpenter from Nazareth who had given His all. A man who had lain His life down so Bram could be free.” - Bram Hughes, page 351 Julie is very talented at taking something that often seems so simple and giving it new meaning.
As for the other part, Meg, Logan, and Caitlyn all must learn to trust the Lord’s plans and to give their desires to Him. I really appreciated how she handles this subject and the others. She portrays them with honesty. They are extremely difficult and she shows them as such. The characters struggle with them, they fall down, they get upset, but they also get back up again. We are always left with the hope that even when they fail, they can be redeemed. As a general rule I hate reading the last book in a series and this one is no exception. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful, which is part of the problem. I dreaded the end of this book, because I knew it meant saying “goodbye.” I’ve had three books to fall in love with the McClares and letting them go in the space of just a few pages didn’t seem like enough. One thing is for sure, I will be “visiting” the characters and these books again and again.
I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a compelling story with realistic characters that will challenge and encourage you.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell 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 anyway. All opinions expressed are my own.
*Please note, all quotations used with permission from the author. No infringement intended.
I know most of you probably skimmed over my review (and I don't blame you, seeing as how it is really long) to find out what's up with the giveaway. I actually ended up with two copies of this book and rather than being a hoarder (which was my first idea), I thought I would share one with one of my readers. The giveaway will be open until Wednesday, November 19th. To be entered, please answer one of the questions below and leave your email address. You must leave your email to be included in the drawing. You may gain extra entries by following this blog (options are on the right hand side of the screen) and sharing my giveaway on social media. If you do either of these, please be sure to let me know!
Everything clear as mud? Good. :)
Have you read any of Julie's books? If so, which one is your favorite and why?
If you could have coffee (or your drink of choice) with Julie, what is one question you'd like to ask her?
Why do you think people enjoy historical fiction so much?
Oh, before I forget! In case there is someone who would rather not wait around for the giveaway, here are a few links so you can check out this awesome book in more depth and maybe purchase a copy. Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you will visit again!
Barnes & Noble