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Dare to Love Again: A Novel

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Overview


Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two ...

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Dare to Love Again (The Heart of San Francisco Book #2): A Novel

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Overview


Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he's a fraud just like all the rest of the men she's cared for. Does she dare love again?

The lushness of the glorious Gilded Age beautifully showcases Lessman's passion as a writer in this engaging love story written with humor and heart. From the glamour of San Francisco's Nob Hill to the seedy gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, Dare to Love Again is a journey to find a love that never fails. Fans will love revisiting the world of the cousins McClare, and new readers will seek more of Julie's passion-filled novels.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"With memorable characters and an effervescent plot that's as buoyant as it is entertaining, Dare to Love Again is Julie Lessman at her zestful best."--Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of A Lasting Impression and To Whisper Her Name

"Nobody pens a more splendid romance than Julie! The expert on dazzling dialogue, engaging characters, and wonderful romantic plots with a twist wins my heart over every time."--Maggie Brendan, author of Heart of the West and The Blue Willow Brides series

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410469274
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 7/9/2014
  • Series: The Heart of San Francisco , #2
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 609
  • Sales rank: 1,010,276
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Julie Lessman is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series The recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards, as well as many other accolades, 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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

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(23)

4 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2014

    Julie Lessman writes epic romance that grabs your attention and

    Julie Lessman writes epic romance that grabs your attention and your heart. I love this series as it is set in San Francisco where I was born so love the historical references. Ms. Lessman always develops the most engaging characters and the plot captures your attention so that you can barely put the book down.  The book was sent to me by the publisher for review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    What a gem! Round, loveable (and dislike-able) characters, twist

    What a gem! Round, loveable (and dislike-able) characters, twists and turns, suspense, surprising ending...so satisfying and awesome!!!  Another Jewel by Miss Julie!

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  • Posted November 3, 2014

    I loved Ali and Nick! There were lots of LOL moments as well as

    I loved Ali and Nick! There were lots of LOL moments as well as heart-touching scenes. Another wonderful, fantastic read for me! Oh, Julie, keep on writing!

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  • Posted April 11, 2014

    Historical romance, humor, secondary romance, good storyline, pa

    Historical romance, humor, secondary romance, good storyline, part of series but you can read it as a stand alone. I did. This is the first book by Julie Lessman that I've read but it won't be the last one.

    Allison comes from high society, she is educated and wants to teach. Her mother has opened a school on the Barbary Coast for girls that wouldn't receive an education, learn about etiquette, and Allison is teaching a drama class. After a misadventure her uncle hires Dective Nick Barone with a long "e" to protect her when she works late. Allison is braver than she should be with her only weapon is a hat pin. Yep,. you read that right. Nick is then hired to teach her self-defense. You will meet some of the girls and fall in love with them. The plot and sub plot are fun. There is learning to forgive, keeping God first in all things. Allison is spoiled, stubborn, hard headed (as is Nick) and sparks can fly. The research that Julie Lessman has done is evident in the portrayal of the sites, smells and how the trolley is to ride on. I remember when I was a little girl that my grandmother took me for a ride on one. Dare to Love Again brought back those memories. Thanks Julie. I received this book through Revell and Book Club Network to read, review and leave an honest opinion. I do recommend this book, especially if you love a historical romance with great characters, humor, and about new friends.

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  • Posted March 29, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    ANOTHER WINNER FOR JULIE LESSMAN!! Dare to Love Again is the s

    ANOTHER WINNER FOR JULIE LESSMAN!!


    Dare to Love Again is the second novel in The Heart of San Francisco trilogy of the McClare family,
    from award-winning author, Julie Lessman. Socialite Allison McClare's goal to be an independent
    woman is met with opposition from Detective Nick Barone (long e), whose beat is the streets of the
    wild Barbary Coast, in which the Hand of Hope School for girls - where Allison is the new teacher of
    English and drama - is located. Nick's secrets from the past have left him with a grudge against the
    upper class - Allison's belief that all men are liars, frauds, or fortune hunters, stems from the pain
    caused by a broken relationship. The humorous barbs between the two start on the first page and
    don't let up until the last page of this delightful novel. Nick and Allison are equally surprised when
    romantic sparks start to fly between the two.


    From Julie Lessman's description of a lighter, shorter, less complicated series - with less romantic
    and spiritual passion (as compared to her Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change trilogies), I
    wasn't sure what to expect with this series. What I DID expect was to be thoroughly entertained and
    inspired - as Julie is a masterful writer - and I wasn't disappointed!!


    Julie's heart-warming characters are in abundance, as usual. The girls and staff of Mercy House 
    Orphanage are a touching addition to the story - watch out for little Lottie, she'll steal your heart! The
    on-again, off-again, romantic relationship between Allison's mother, Caitlyn, and Allison's deceased
    father's brother, Logan, will have you cheering for, and sympathizing with, each of them before the story
    ends.


    Dare to Love Again is chock-full of humor, suspense, passion, drama, secrets, romance, realistic
    characters, redemption, forgiveness, warm family settings, hope, regret, love, faith, and the ever-
    wonderful happy ending - it's a treat for ALL readers!! The McClare family is a delight - just as the
    O'Connor family was in Julie's two previous series!! I've loved each and every novel she's written, and
    I await - however impatiently - the October 2014 release of the final novel in the series, Surprised By
    Love!!

      



      

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  • Posted March 13, 2014

    Fabulous book! Oh my goodness! Where to begin? I absolutely lo

    Fabulous book!
    Oh my goodness! Where to begin? I absolutely loved this book! I wish I could give it more than 5 stars! When I read Cassie and Jamie’s book, Love at Any Cost, I didn’t think Julie could top it, but once again, she has proven me wrong! Dare to Love Again is definitely my favorite of her books, so far!
    Allison was wonderful! I liked her a lot in the first book, but I completely fell in love with her in this one! She’s so sweet, but sassy too. I enjoyed how she stood up to Nick, with her sharp wit and even sharper tongue (and of course, the infamous stick). Allison had been hurt before and wanted nothing to do with any men, until she meets Nick Barone. Saying they “hit it off” would be the perfect comment for their first meeting, emphasis on “hit.” It was so funny that I just sat and laughed! I loved watching Allison grow, learning to take care of herself, but also learning that sometimes you have to rely on family and most importantly, God.
    I adored Nick, too! He was the perfect match for Allison, gruff, cranky, and equally stubborn. The two of them together is like, as Allison put it, kerosene and a lit match. As we get to know him better, his softer side comes out and we see that his cranky personality is because of all that has happened in his life. I enjoyed watching Allison’s sweetness smooth out some of his rough edges, though it did nothing for either of their tempers!
    The spiritual part was undoubtedly my favorite. It focuses on forgiveness and not allowing hurt and bitterness to separate us from God. Allison had to learn this from the perspective of having her heart broken over and over. Nick had to trust God enough to release his hurt and do things His way. It was a journey for both of them, but also for me too. Julie’s books always challenge my faith and this one is no exception.
    We also continue to follow Caitlyn and Logan’s floundering relationship, which I enjoyed immensely. I can’t wait to see where Julie takes it in the final book, Surprised by Love, which unfortunately doesn’t come out until October 21.
    As always with Julie’s books, the writing was excellent and the descriptions so vivid, it seems as though you are actually there, walking the streets or sparring with the characters!
    While Dare to Love Again is the second book in the Heart of San Francisco series, it can be read as a stand-alone. The story comes together quite well in the end and only leaves a few loose ends to be tied up in the final book.
    I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical romance!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2014

    Another win by the fabulous Julie Lessman!!! In her second inst

    Another win by the fabulous Julie Lessman!!! In her second installment of The Heart Of San Francisco, Julie delivers a story that satisfies only the most romantic of hearts. Whether it's the strong family dynamics or sizzling romance that can melt my candy bar right out of my hand!Julie is a master storyteller with a master talent. 10 out of 5 stars!!!

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  • Posted February 16, 2014

    Julie has written another gem of a book! I enjoyed this one so m

    Julie has written another gem of a book! I enjoyed this one so much. Allison was delightfully full of life (for lack of a better way to sum her up) and daring and energy and fun. Nick was a classically mysterious hero, exciting and heart-stopping. The setting there in San Francisco is fascinating and I greatly enjoyed it. The whole book was less passionate than some of Julie’s others have been, which I appreciated. However, it was still full of romance and I really enjoyed the humorous situations into which the characters often stumbled. I’m definitely keeping this book, and I’m definitely excited to read more by Julie.

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  • Posted February 11, 2014

    Reading Dare to Love Again was such a delight! It made me laugh,

    Reading Dare to Love Again was such a delight! It made me laugh, it brought tears to my eyes, and made me fall in love with Julie Lessman’s characters all over again. Dare to Love Again is the second in The Heart of San Francisco series and is the story of Allison McClare and Nick Barone. Julie is known for creating sparks that fly and lots of romantic tension. And the tension between Alli and Nick, romantic or otherwise, rivals the tension of a coiled spring. And as always, Julie threads her story with yet another story—how a loving and powerful God can change the hearts of the children He loves. Dare to Love Again is definitely a new favorite for this Julie Lessman fan!

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  • Posted February 6, 2014

    If you¿re looking for another predictable and boring romance, do

    If you’re looking for another predictable and boring romance, don’t read this novel. But if you want passion and romance in a historical setting where the streets of 1900 San Francisco comes alive with more twists and turns than a suspense novel, than this might be your cup of tea. There were never two people so wrong for each other or so meant to be together as Alison McClure, a wealthy socialite with a broken heart, and Detective Nick Barone, a man who distrusts wealthy people. I enjoyed every bit of this novel and was left wondering how Julie would pull off a satisfying ending with the corner she painted her characters into. But she managed it. If you haven’t read Julie Lessman’s novel, don’t wait. You’ll be glad you did.

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  • Posted February 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    After reading a few of Julie's books, I've grown to love her uni

    After reading a few of Julie's books, I've grown to love her unique style, enthusiasm, and characterization; I like the anticipation of a new storyline coupled with the comfortable feeling of knowing generally what to expect. And she never disappoints! In fact, I was so eager to read Julie's new book, second in the Hearts of San Francisco series, that I was sorely tempted to put other review commitments on hold just so I could start Dare to Love Again.

    One of the strengths of this story is characterization - and with the McClare family of San Francisco, Julie has created a family dynamic of genuinely flawed characters who are unashamedly open, not only in voicing their love for each other, but showing it as well, and will go to the ends of the earth in order to protect a loved one.

    Nick and Alli are great lead characters, and I loved them from the very beginning. Nick, a "penniless womanizer cop who breaks hearts for a living" according to Logan, initially comes across as slightly rough around the edges, but we quickly see his soft side with Miss Penny and the orphans she takes in. The love of 6-year-old Lottie is especially touching.

    Alli realizes she has been blessed by God and wants to give back by reaching out to disadvantaged young women through the Hand of Hope school that her mother, Cait, started in the Barbary Coast area. But to Nick, Alli is just "another rich dame appeasing her guilt by dabbling in charity between high tea and tennis on the lawn."

    But as much as I enjoyed the chemistry between Nick and Alli, it's Logan and Cait who steal the show. Julie does such a good job at incorporating attraction and romance between an older couple - and just when I think their story will have a happy resolution, she throws in another twist! Logan tells Cait, "I understand that you are a hard taskmaster, Cait, one whose trust I can never satisfy no matter what I do. . . . I guess I should be grateful it's only my heart that's captive and not my soul, lest I be a man lost forever."

    From Nob Hill to the Barbary Coast, the San Francisco Gilded Age setting is one of contrasts and is very well done. The narrative moves at a steady pace and is laced with humor; secondary characters like Miss Penny, Lottie, and servants Hadley and Rosie are a special delight. Spiritual elements - such as the ease of praying spontaneously, caring for those in need, learning to let go of anger, forgiveness - feel like a natural part of the storyline and I found them to be both moving and challenging.

    I highly recommend Dare to Love Again to romance fans everywhere.

    Thank you to Lanette Haskins and Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted February 3, 2014

    Dare to Love Again is my first book I have read by Julie. Right

    Dare to Love Again is my first book I have read by Julie. Right now, I am wondering why that is. If her all her books are like this, then I definitely need to pick up all of them. She definitely has a new fan here.  From page one of this book, I find myself literally laughing out loud. It is sweet, fun, entertaining, and romantic. 
    If you are looking for a great, inspiring, and humorous read, then this one if for you! 
    Highly recommended! 5 stars

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  • Posted January 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Dare to Love Again is the second of Julie¿s early 1900s San Fran

    Dare to Love Again is the second of Julie’s early 1900s San Francisco books. While I still desperate miss the Boston O’Connors and their generational stories, Julie’s novels are still full of the wonderful narrative voice that I love. I have to admit that at first it took me a while to get used to this new setting and different family.  While Dare to Love Again can stand on it’s own, it is so much better coming into if after understanding the outside cast of characters from Love at Any Cost. (I mean you have to know about that one particular skunk of a man!!)




    When it comes to Julie Lessman I already know that I’m going to have a book on my permanent keeper shelf. Now I know that I put some thoughts about this one already down on paper somewhere, but I cannot seem to find them. So hopefully I can repeat the good of what I’ve said (or dreamed that I thought) before. When I think Julie, I think Boston and that wonderful Irish family. But this is an entirely different story, a different kind of story in a very different location. The characters are different, their problems are pretty different. Backgrounds are different and futures are different. Goodness, even the timeframe is different. So, the question is, when Julie can pull off such a wonderful series (well two connected series over seven books!) can she do it again when it is all so different? You bet-ch-a!




    Jamie makes me so mad that I could spit. Ugh. Smack that boy. His pride is soo… it’s his ego. He’s just blind. Ignorant. Irritating! But my goodness is he sparkingly attractive. Yes in the description and reaction of the ladies that pass him by, but you should see the boy in the movie trailer. Woo. I just want to throttle him. Now, Cassie. She reminds me a bit of a Deeanne Gist heroine. Now, while I typically love Dee’s stories and books overall her independent creatures that protagonize the stories often drive me bonkers. Cassie and Cait while I’m at it are so… what is it that I’m trying to say… they’re such amazing independent and so vulnerable. Goodness gracious me, they are so real and remind me so much of me (minus the independent streak that I sometimes wish I had) that it drives me bonkers! Goodness, I said bonkers twice (now three times!) in one paragraph. My point is that Julie is bringing text on a page to life in something that I can truly imagine. Male and female.




    The other thing is that as a reader I know how I want the story to end… I know how the story should end. But reading in the situation, how can it POSSIBLY end in the correct way. Goodness gracious does Julie have a way with a pen!




    Then after Jamie and Cassie’s story in Love at Any Cost we get to venture in depth into cousin Allison’s own romance in Dare to Love Again. I think it’s a blessed curse, but every book in a series Julie writes seems to be better than the last! I enjoyed Allison before, but I have loved her character from the first page, and oh her Nicky! Boy oh boy, throw in some of that Italian flare, what a guy! It is fun and educational to watch these two grow as their own people in faith as well as in love. Of course I come into a novel knowing the back cover blurb and how I want things to go and no matter what, with Julie I’m entertained, surprised and mesmerized from page turn to page turn!




    I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions. Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.




     

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  • Posted January 26, 2014

    OUTSTANDING!!!! OUTSTANDING!!!! SPORGENTE!!!! When you pick up a

    OUTSTANDING!!!! OUTSTANDING!!!! SPORGENTE!!!!
    When you pick up a Julie Lessman novel you are guaranteed:
    Snark
    Sass
    and Romance! Oh, the romance!
    Alli McClure has been bit by the romance bug three times and lost, will the fourth time be the charm?
    Nick Barone (long e) dislike's the upper crust with a passion. When he and Alli meet sparks fly, or rather her pointer does.
    Alli has joined her mother in teaching disadvantaged girls on the Barbary Coast of San Francisco. Nick Barone (long e) is a detective and he is determined to keep the girls and those that work at The Hands of Hope school for girls safe. Alli wants independence and she is going to get it no matter what it takes.
    Barone (long e) or as the girls that live at Miss Penny's home call him Mr. Cranky Pants, Alli calls him Mr. Grunt and Garaon.
    When Nick is offered the opportunity to teach Alli self defense he reluctantly agrees.The more time he spends with this snarky little teacher, a deep friendship begins to develop, and Nick realizes his heart needs some protecting too.
    Along with Alli, and Nick there are returning characters from Love At Any Cost. Cassie, Cait, Uncle Logan, Jamie, Rosie, Mr. Bigley, Hadley, Maddie, and new ones that will melt your heart, like little Lottie who will just steal your heart. When she grabs Nick's face with her little six year old hands and tells him "We're family" you want to just hug her.
    True to Julie she weaves a story not only rich in sass and romance, but one rich in godly principals. Seeing Uncle Logan come face to face with what was keeping him from a relationship with Cait McClure was pure God, because no one can change someone's heart but God.

    Dare to Love Again is a book that will stay with you long after you close the last page, and then you will want to start the book all over again, because you will have left your heart in San Francisco.

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  • Posted January 26, 2014

    Julie Lessman's Dare to Love Again is another home run! The seco

    Julie Lessman's Dare to Love Again is another home run! The second installment in the McClare family saga, readers get to know Allison McClare better and catch up with the rest of the family as well. Lessman does a beautiful job portraying a contentious relationship between Allison and Nick. They both struggle to overcome past hurts and rebuild their relationships with God. I loved watching the two happen simultaneously! The romance was so sweet too!

    The other thing I love about this series is that the entire family is part of the story. I loved being able to continue reading about Jamie and Cassie and the rest of the siblings and am anxious to see if Caitlyn and Uncle Logan will ever find their way to each other! I loved that Lessman centered so much of this book around the McClare's new school in the Barbary Coast, and Miss Penny and the orphans under her care (especially Lottie!) were a nice addition as well.

    I'm so looking forward to reading another book in this series and am wondering who will be featured next time. There are so many wonderful possibilities to continue this series!

    Fans of historical romance/drama and/or family sagas will enjoy this series. I highly recommend! [5 stars]

    I received a free copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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  • Posted January 25, 2014

    With Dare to Love Again we continue on in the saga of the McClar

    With Dare to Love Again we continue on in the saga of the McClare family of San Francisco. Not only do we get to see what's happening with Cassidy and Jamie we also get to shift our main focus to Allison. 




    The Hand of Hope School is finally up and running but it is located on the edge of the unsavory Barbary Coast neighborhood. It is a great place to reach the girls that the school is intended to help but it is an unknown territory for the McClare's of Nob Hill. Allison is an adventurous girl and wants to explore the city that she loves.




    In order to keep his beloved niece safe from the unsavory elements of the city, Logan McClare grudgingly hires Detective Nick Barone to teach Allison self-defense and to also secretly guard her. Nick has a great disdain for the elite so the sparks begin to fly between the two of them right from the beginning. 




    This is a fun story but an even greater tour through historic San Francisco. Julie Lessman does a fabulous job of drawing out the distinctions between the Barbary Coast and Nob Hill. She has brought a very multi-cultural city to life by taking us into the very heart of Chinatown and allowing us to get to know some of the residents and experience through their eyes the struggle between the haves and the have nots.




    I think you are really going to enjoy this story of love and struggle. The characters are multi-dimentional and the sights and sounds of the city are brought to life on the pages of this novel. Pick up a copy for yourself and be transported back in time.




    I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    ANOTHER HEART RENDERER FROM JULIE!! Applause!  Applause!!  Appl

    ANOTHER HEART RENDERER FROM JULIE!!

    Applause!  Applause!!  Applause!!!  Julie Lessman just keeps on writing a new favorite to replace an older favorite and a yet older favorite.  Personally, I hope it never ends!  My recent visit with the McClare family in 1903 San Francisco was so much fun even though we faced some fiercely intense moments sitting together in the parlor on Caitlyn’s loveseat praying and waiting for one crisis to subside before facing whatever came along next. Reading one of Julie’s novels is a marvelous release mechanism…..all my giggles over Lessman-style humor released endorphins that caused me to feel great; or releasing pent up emotions through easy tears that flowed along with Caitlyn’s.  All those tears caused an enormous pile of tissues for Rosie the housekeeper to sweep up with an audible “tsk tsk,” and slight shake of her head.




    Dare to Love Again is the perfect title for this Julie Lessman novel.  The title is a story in itself, so to speak, because Allison, the eldest daughter of Caitlyn McClare, has been jilted and left disappointed four times causing a jaundiced eye toward romantic love.  The hunky lead hero Detective Nick Barone becomes the big dare for Allison.  Nick will not allow himself to dare fall in love with a rich Nob Hill debutante.  Both characters are well equipped with mixed emotions about each other and their sparring is comical and typical of independent personalities.  Brother-in-law Logan McClare continues to dare hope that his widowed sister-in-law Caitlyn would dare love him as she did in their youth and accept his proposal of marriage.  Will Nick and Logan dare to believe in God?  Ms. Lessman brings her characters so close to taking the dares and so far away again; that I do not attempt to dare guess what happens next.




    Julie Lessman stories encompass everything from romance, danger, bad guys, good guys, secrets, smells, tastes, vivid scenery, laughter, mystery, trauma to a fascinating script.  Most importantly being the lessons learned through human error, confession, forgiveness, and accepting God’s love.  Warm feelings among some characters occur where negative attitudes had been the mode.  Certain new personalities added to the story are quite endearing….fall in love with La-di-da, and Miss Penny.  Who gets nauseous riding the streetcar?  What do animal crackers have to do with anything?  Some shocking information is revealed about members of the McClare Clan in this second episode of The Heart of San Francisco series.  Historical facts and location research appear as a natural part of Ms. Lessman’s innate writing gift to render the beauty in words meaningful.  She writes page turners for avid readers who would not dare put her book down.  There is no less in Julie Lessman.  She owns it all where word art is involved. 




     It is not this reviewer’s intent to detail excess information about the characters and subject matter, the back and front cover is capable of drawing reader interest.  Revealing too much might prevent one from an intriguing read and my intent is for curiosity to take the dare and enjoy my personal recommendation. Julie Lessman has caused me to fall in love with San Francisco all over again.




    Through her faith in our loving Abba, Julie Lessman dares to write as she does.  Dare I ask Julie why she has won many awards and trophies?  She will give our Lord all the credit.  Ok, the dares are dropped….anyone taking bets that Julie’s next story will be the most read yet?  My bet is yes, it will….and winner take all!
    Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted January 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    It is such a pleasure to review this book and an even BIGGER ple

    It is such a pleasure to review this book and an even BIGGER pleasure to read. I can't think of even ONE thing I didn't like so I will start by telling you the things I LOVED.

    With each book I read there is always at least ONE character I completely adore. Right now I am finding it hard to pick only ONE. If I have to choose, it would be Allison McClare. She was such a little spitfire with Irish blood coursing through her veins. And I mean LITTLE, literally. She was tiny without her high heels but she could whip a full-grown, grouch of a man into submission in a single heartbeat (I admired the way she wielded her pointer). Especially, Nick Barone, who she dubbed as Mr. Ba-lon-ee, Mr, Ga-roan and Mr. Cranky Pants to name a few. She had been heartbroken on three previous occasions by men that only wanted her money and that left her leery of men in general and angry at them to boot. She had an independent spirit which led her to learn jiu jitsu for protection. But she also had a heart of gold, reaching out to others by teaching orphans and kids less fortunate in her mother's Hand of Hope school for girls. She was a woman of substance with a quick and charming wit that brought tears to my eyes more than once, by laughter and heartbreak. In short, Alli was completely adorable, from the top of her straw hat all the way down to the bottom of her three inch high-heeled shoes.

    Nick Barone is a beloved character too. He's so angry and harsh with a real hate for rich people and with good reason given what happened in his past. He's constantly wearing a scowl and is often trying to put Alli in her place but to no avail. He soon learns there's no taming the independent Allison McClare. He reverts to calling her Miss McHigh-and-Mighty, Miss La-di-da and Allison "Whack 'em Till They Weep" McClare. Nick is a hard-nosed, grouchy policemen that trudges the streets of the Barbary Coast trying to rid it of lowlifes and lower the crime rate. Since no one can seem to get his name right, he is constantly informing them "It's Ba-ron-ee, long e". He has a pension for animal crackers (they soothe his ulcer) and always smells of Bay Rum. But let me tell you what endeared Nick to me. Nick rented a room at Mercy House Orphanage which was run by Mrs. Peel, included the cook, Mrs. Lemp, and housed several orphans, including Lottie, a six year-old little girl with copper curls. When Nick was with them he was a completely different man. Playing with the kids, reading them stories and tucking them in. And he loved Mrs. Peel like a grandmother, protecting her and the kids fiercely. Nick is an all around GREAT guy!

    Such a sweet first kiss but first kisses often are, aren't they? Another thing I love about this book and Miss Julie's style of writing is--she KNOWS how to write a love scene. She draws you into the scene until you almost feel like you're a PART of it. And, oh, do they SIZZLE! She knows how to write a love scene with just the right amount of heat without going beyond the barriers. They are PERFECT in every way.

    I also love the humor aspect. I laughed through practically the whole first chapter. It didn't stop there either. Several times throughout the book I found myself laughing out loud, literally! The phrases she uses could make the guards at Buckingham Palace crack a smile. But it's not all fun and games. There are some very serious scenes that had be crying in my hankie. Trust me, you WILL need tissues.

    The most important thing is the way she weaved God throughout the story. There was a lot of forgiveness taking place, a lot of prayer and a lot of recognition to the fact that, YES, God is taking care of us in EVERY way. I loved when Logan finally realized that what was holding him back from a full relationship with God was the fact that he KNEW God answered prayer but he just didn't believe God answered HIS prayers. Talk about a revelation!

    I enjoyed this book so thoroughly and I can't wait for the next one because I definitely smell a romance brewing between two prominent characters and THAT'S one I DON'T want to miss! I think I can definitely relate to the next EXPECTED heroine. Although, I do have to say I am in love with ALL of the characters. Miss Penny brought back memories of my grandmother who I love dearly. Lottie or "La-di-da" just made me want to tuck her in my arms and squeeze the stuffing out of her. I loved when she took Nick's face in her tiny little hands and told him he was part of God's family. Caitlyn and Cassie are just to sweet and endearing for words. And, Jamie, Blake and Bram? Hilarious with their constant jabs at each other. This is just one reader's opinion, but I haven't enjoyed such a complete reading experience in a LONG time. If you like a book that completely satisfies a reader's cravings you've found it! I fell in love with the people of Nob Hill (and the Barbary Coast) and so will you. I SO HIGHLY recommend this book!

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from Baker Publishing Group for my honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone and the thoughts of only ONE reader. If I recommend a book you can believe it's because I enjoyed it. I received no monetary compensation for this review.

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  • Posted January 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Julie Lessman brings readers the second book in her Heart of San

    Julie Lessman brings readers the second book in her Heart of San Francisco series, Dare to Love Again. Set in 1903, this novel follows the life and antics of a socialite from Knob Hill who is starting a school for the impoverished in the heart of the Barbary Coast section of San Francisco. With a spectacular setting and characters that will grab the hearts of readers, this is book Christian/Inspiration fans will not want to miss. The underlying themes of trust and not making assumptions was delivered in such a way that readers will find themselves considering how trust affects their own lives. A great example of good inspirational writing!

    What I liked:

    Julie Lessman has a real knack for dialogue in all of her books. She is able to convey so much to the reader just from allowing her characters to speak to each other. There is humor and temper and romance and all of the emotions are expressed simply and easily in the banter between characters in this book. Dare to Love Again is a novel that will make the reader appreciate just what can be said in few words or in many. I just loved how they talked to each other.

    The theme of trust is so important in this novel. Allie has learned to distrust men, because of a previous relationship that went sour. Nick has learned to distrust socialites for the same reason. The past has made of these characters leery of each other. And Lessman does a fantastic job of showing that. The way these two interact is nothing short of real. He is gruff, she gets mad. She is careless, he can hardly contain his care for her. It was a delicate balance and Lessman pulls it off with style, garnering the hearts of readers as they are drawn in and become enamored with the characters.

    I also loved the fact that Lessman doesn't keep her characters in the best parts of the city. In fact they are in the most impoverished and destitute part of San Francisco. The Barbary Coast is anything but safe and I enjoyed the fact that Lessman decides that Allie needs to be able to protect herself. With Nick as her teacher and the fine art of Jujitsu at his commend, Allie soon learns a lot about taking care of herself. But she teaches Nick a thing or two in the process about trust in others and in God. It was very well done.

    I liked the mystery surrounding Nick and the continuing mysterious relationship between Caitlyn and Logan. It was a captivating part of the story that propelled the story forward and kept the reader guessing. It is always nice to have that secondary thing that keeps the plot moving and the mysterious aspect of the story certainly did that. 

    What I didn't like:

    There was a bit of an issue with the pacing in the middle of the book. There is plenty of action at the beginning and at the end, but there is a bit of a lull in the center. Just keep that in mind and you'll love the ending.

    Bottom Line:

    This is a great addition to the Heart of San Francisco series. The setting is amazing and Lessman knows how to write about this time period. I loved the romance between Allie and Nick and the mysteriousness that is underlying the story. The theme of trust runs throughout the novel and Lessman gets her point across without brow beating the reader. An all around enjoyable read!

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  • Posted January 22, 2014

    Another heartwarming release from Lessman! Whenever I open a bo

    Another heartwarming release from Lessman!

    Whenever I open a book written by Lessman, I expect two things. The first is my favorite of the two, a dear, Godly family to connect with on an emotional level. The McClares, and the O'Connors before them, fill this role fabulously. Everyone in these families have wormed their way into our imaginations in a way we will not soon forget. The second is romance. Lessman brings us "passion with a purpose," as her website states, and despite a couple adult-ish comments or thoughts, it's clean.

    We met Allison McClare back in Love at Any Cost, and even then I loved her sweet spirit. Now, in Dare to Love Again, set a couple months after the first in the series, Allison is putting back the pieces of another broken heart. I can't say that I related to Allison, as we don't have a lot in common, but that doesn't stop me from becoming fond of her character. One of my favorite scenes in the book was a moment between Allison and her mother, Cait, and in essence, Cait told her to trust God with her heart. I loved that because it is so true.

    If you're seeking a book to cuddle under a blanket with, you've found it! As I stated earlier in my review, the McClares are a wonderful family. Lessman has a knack for making you feel right at home with her characters as they struggle with the same things we do (i.e. trusting God, believing God, etc.). I eagerly await the next McClare's story, and I hope Meg is up next! I recommend this book to older teens (16 or older), though the book is written for adult women.

    I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!!

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