Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

5 Stars

From the Cover:
As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston.  Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father.  And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister.  But when Collin’s affections shift, it threatens to tear her proper Boston family apart. 

Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series, A Passion Most Pure will carry your heart from the sophisticated streets of Boston to the green hills of Ireland as men go off to war and women long for their return.  Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, it will captivate you from the first page.

            I received this book as a prize from Casey Herringshaw’s blog Writing for Christ ~ The Audience of One. I am also acquainted with the author through her own website http://www.julielessman.com/ and the Seekerville blog, where she is a regular contributor.

  1. Faith’s faith: She is very close to her Savior, and that is evident in the frequency and the tone of her prayers.  She talks to God all the time, and she does it just like most people talk to themselves. The reader knows that God is replying when Faith quotes Scripture and sort of preaches to herself. Even when she rails at God in pain and anger, she has no doubt that she will—in the end—turn back to him to heal the pain and soothe the anger.

  1. Faith’s thankfulness:
“She was almost oblivious to the faint limp in her stride, the only mark of her childhood bout with polio….That slight hitch in her gait—that precious wonderful gimp—was daily proof she had escaped paralysis or worse” (12). 
Faith lost a great deal more to polio than the smooth stride of her childhood, but she chooses to focus on her blessings, trusting God to fill the empty places left by loss.

  1. Collin’s genuine goodness: In the wake of his own losses, Collin has gone to great lengths to earn a rogue’s reputation, and has succeeded so that even his own mother believes that’s all he is. But the goodness inside is still visible to anyone who cares to look closely (as Faith does when she watches him join in a game of kickball with the neighborhood children): 
“All at once he turned and loped to a massive oak where tiny, towheaded Theodore Schmidt sat propped against the gnarled tree. Crutches by his side…Collin tossed his coat on the ground and bent to carefully hoist Theo astride his shoulders.  The little boy squealed with delight….Collin’s first kick sailed the ball five houses away.  Champion and child went flying, the back tail of Theo’s white shirt flapping in the breeze as Collin rounded the bases.  They crossed home plate to a roar of cheers and whistles…” (9).

  1. Sibling rivalry: A sisterly brawl always livens things up, and the O’Connor household is no exception. Julie Lessman grew up with a dozen or so brothers and sisters, and her experience in the art of “sister jabbing” is evident in the rapid fire and acidity of exchanges between Faith and her sister Charity.

  1. Mrs. Gerson: This woman is an unwavering compass that always points Faith to true North. She is also a lighthouse beckoning Faith to a safe harbor when the inevitable storm breaks for her.

  1. Seamlessly woven setting: This novel begins in 1917, and its timeline runs through the end of the First World War.  From the very beginning, Mrs. Lessman expertly weaves into her characters lives the dread that precedes war and the fear and pain that accompany it.

  1. Surprising twists: This book has lots of surprises.  Sometimes you think “This might happen,” but she holds off long enough to convince you it won’t. Then, WHAM! it does, and you’re left reeling.  Other times, she comes at you out of the blue with something you never expected.  It’s a thrilling ride.

  1. Charity: Charity believes her bitterness toward Faith is warranted, but she is sadly mistaken. Her misunderstanding of certain people’s motives causes a lot of grief for a lot of people. I lost track of the number of times I thought, “Someone ought to slap that girl!”  She’s the heroine of the second book, A Passion Redeemed, and I know I’ll come to love her when I read it. But, ohhh! I just can’t stand her in this one.

  1. I don’t yet own A Passion Redeemed, so I can’t read any more of Julie Lessman’s wonderful stories for who knows how long. But I guess that’s irrelevant to my review. Sorry.
           With Faith and Collin’s story, we see the very real heart-pounding passion that comes with falling in love. Faith desperately yearns for Collin (Yes, I realize how melodramatic that sentence sounds, but it is absolutely true). With the yearning is the torturous realization that she cannot follow her feelings as long has Collin rebels against God. Collin is drawn to Faith and wants always to feel like he does when he’s with her, but his refusal to submit to God.  This beautifully parallels God’s love story with his people. God “desperately yearns” to be part of our lives. He loves us with passion that makes the inferno of young love look like a candle flickering in the wind. But our stubborn resistance to that love forces him to withhold from us his greatest blessings of redemption and fellowship.
In Patrick and Marcy’s sub-plot, we find that the passion of young love doesn’t have to fade. It will change though, from the inferno blazing out of control into something more like a well-tended hearth fire, offering heat certainly, but also drawing the lovers and their family to its light. God’s love is like that too, if we tend it faithfully in our hearts, we will always feel its warmth, and we will always know where to find that warmth when the world leaves us cold.
Julie Lessman’s tag is “Passion With a Purpose.” In this novel, she shows that passion between characters can be sizzling, without “showing” a lot of skin. She has appropriated the “love scene” for use in Christian fiction in a way few others have.

I know most of my readers know and love Julie already. But if you haven't read her books or run into her online, I highly recommend doing both. I promise you won't regret it.


  1. ANDREA!!! LOL ... if I told you how many times people have told me they wanted to slap Charity, you would laugh!! Camy Tang told me she wanted to see her maimed or killed. :)

    THANK YOU for the this wonderful review, my friend -- MUCH appreciated AND fun to read the way you did it. Hopefully you will able to win some books in giveaways this Aug. and Sept., okay?


  2. ANDREA!!!

    I left a comment when you posted this, but I guess that Blogger ate it.

    But THANK YOU for this great review!! I like the way you did it with likes and dislikes and I certainly like that the liked outweigh the other! :)

    You know, at the time, I had NO idea that so many people would hate Charity. As an author whose favorite character is Scarlett O'Hara, I didn't mind Charity so much in book 1, but I have to admit that my agent and editor were worried that I would be able to make a likable heroine out of her. But Charity is one of those characters in the O'Connor saga who grows the most throughout the two series, I suppose because she is one of the characters who HAS the most to grow!

    Anyway, THANK YOU again, Andrea, not only for reading APMP, but for taking the time to review it so beautifully.