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Posted October 22, 2014
The book held my attention and had several good plot twists...However I didn't like it that so much focus was put on how Meg had changed from being quote on quote "ugly" to beautiful...I felt like there
was too much focus put on the outward appearance...Yes we should take care of ourselves and strive to look nice but not everyone is going to be a skinny beautiful women with a model like body...Yes it was good Meg changed and was more confident but that could have happened without all the focus being on the outward appearance...I was a little disappointed how shallow the book was in this area...This is my personal opinion...I love Julie Lessman and her books and will continue to read whatever she puts out but this book was a disappointment to me....I would have liked to see Meg not change quite so much and still get a happy ending....:)
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Posted January 31, 2015
Like the other books in this series, the premise sounded fun but some things prevented me from fully enjoying the novel. Megan is an intelligent and dynamic character, but it bothered me that the unspoken message was that her confidence and self-worth came because of her physical transformation, and the reactions of the other characters reinforced the notion that a person must fit society's ideal of beauty to be able make a difference in the world. She is compassionate and forgiving, but also naively trusts in a relationships with red flags all over it. Bram's personal history was interesting to learn, but the way it prevented him from accepting his attraction for Megan was frustrating since he seemed smarter than that. There is also finally a conclusion to the three-book long angst-fest between Megan's mother and Uncle Logan, thank goodness.
(Thank you to Revell Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
Posted January 20, 2015
Posted January 16, 2015
I enjoyed reading the love story of Megan McClure who was just a young girl in the first book of the San Francisco series. I really enjoyed the inter-play between Clare and Logan and think she made the right decision at the end of the book! I only hope for more of the McClare family in future books! Thanks, Julie, for another great read. CAGWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 15, 2015
Megan McClare was always noticed for her intelligence. After a year in Paris, she is stunning her family, friends, and past enemies with her outside beauty. Bram Hugh’s doesn’t know what to do with this transformation of his little “Bug.” Surprised by Love is a great story about love, honesty, and sacrifice. Julie Lessman does a wonderful job with continuing past characters through her book series. I loved this story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2014
A STORY TO LOVE, TREASURE AND REREAD - OVER AND OVER!!!!
Award-winning author JULIE LESSMAN has not only come up with the perfect ending to The Heart of San Francisco
novel series with SURPRISED BY LOVE but also one of her very best novels.
Shy, wallflower Megan McClare leaves her home in San Francisco for a year's study in Paris and returns in 1904 with a new-found confidence and beauty that takes her family and friends by surprise. None are most surprised than best friend Bram Hughes and Devin Caldwell (who teased and mocked her in school). Sparks fly when Meg accepts an internship at the district attorney's office and discovers she will be working alongside Devin. A romantic triangle ensues for Meg when Bram becomes more than a best friend and Devin also becomes enamored with her charms. Readers of the previous two novels in the series will be thrilled by the advances made in the love/hate relationship between Meg's mother, Caitlyn, and Meg's uncle - Logan. Once again, Julie Lessman has given readers a novel with a beautiful story line - full of passion, angst and romance - that will entertain and inspire, provoke emotions from laughter to anger to tears, endear them to it's realistic characters, surprise with unexpected "twists and turns", and leave them wanting yet more of the heart-warming McClare family - after they turn the final page with it's happy ending. SURPRISED BY LOVE - a novel you will love, treasure and reread again and again !!!!
Posted November 24, 2014
I love reviewing books. I especially love reviewing Julie Lessman's books. Beautifully written, with heartfelt drama and witty storytelling, Surprised by Love is bound to win over many hearts, as it did mine. It's the kind of story that makes reading fun. It was entertaining from the start and downright charming from first to last page.
While the characters are haunted by past hurts, they're also torn between their heart's desires and fears, and along the way they learn some valuable lessons. I wanted to hug each and every member of the McClare family. Or at the very least join them at that amusing dinner table of theirs. What lively conversations they always have. ;)
And those love triangles had me turning the pages faster than I could read! The last half of the book was especially captivating. Yes, I'm baiting you. Go read it! :)
My only regret is not having read the first in the series yet. Having been given the chance to review the second and third books in The Heart of San Francisco series, I couldn't resist jumping ahead. While each one holds its own nicely, I would recommend you starting from the beginning if you have the chance. I have a feeling you'll be that much more enthralled with the McClare family and friends.
Another thing I like and appreciate about this writer's style is that I never quite know how it's going to end. How "we" will get to the "Happy Ending" - the characters and I - is still a mystery up to the last page. The ending never comes prematurely, but continues on in perfect rhythm and delivers in due time, rewarding its readers wonderfully by book's end.
What can I say? I love watching (and reading) when best friends fall in love. It's a beautiful thing. I married my own best friend two years ago and I have a small plaque hanging in our home that always makes me smile. "True love is friendship set on fire." I love that. And it fits perfectly for this story too.
Love is a fire, alright. And Julie Lessman knows how to write it very well. ;)
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publisher for my copy.
Posted November 23, 2014
Oddly enough, the synopsis for this book brings one of my absolute favorite movies to mind. Young girl, shy and introverted – goes to Paris and returns all grown up.
Of course my favorite version is the 1995 remake with Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear and Harrison Ford… not the original with Audrey Hepburn, William Holden and Humphrey Bogart – which is ultimately sadder and holds a much darker theme.
Surprised by Love is a wonderful Historical adventure - full of forgiveness, romance and of course.. surprise.
I was thoroughly intrigued by the wonderful story - and was surprised to discover that this is the third book in a series. It does not read that way. You should have no trouble at all with feeling lost in the midst of a series.
Megan is not at all what I pictured from reading the back cover copy. She is a bit of a spitfire – which makes perfect sense when you consider that she has taken an internship in the District Attorney’s office.
I am not about to spoil the outcome for you – you will HAVE to read it for yourself but I will tell you that it surprised me!
This is not a book to miss!
And of course now… I have to go hunt down more books. LOL!
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.
Posted November 21, 2014
Megan is returning from Paris a completely different woman. She's lost some weight and gain some confidence. But she's hoping that her friendship with her best friend Bram hasn't changed a bit.
Bram is shocked when he sees the beautiful woman that Megan has become. His feelings for her are very non-best friend like. But he's made some commitments that might prevent him from following through on his new feelings.
I really enjoyed the double romance in this story. The author painted a beautiful visual as she told the story. There were times that I felt a little lost since I was coming into the story without having read the first two books. But instead of frustrating me, it made me want to check out the other books. The story was sweet, had a bit of drama, and had great secondary characters as well. I'll definitely be adding this author to my wishlist.
I received this book free of charge from Revell Reads in exchange for my honest review.
Posted November 17, 2014
"I miss my little buddy, Meg, I won't lie, but you've grown into a beautiful woman over the last year, a perfect match for the beautiful person inside."
Megan McClare has always been a beauty to those that love her. But her greatest beauty was within while outwardly she was a plump young girl with loads of freckles and braces on her teeth. Constantly ridiculed by other kids, she always turned to her brother's best friend to dry her eyes and make her feel better. But when Meg returns from college "Megan McTubby" is gone and a raven beauty has taken her place. With a new look and a new outlook on life, Meg hopes to turn the head of the very man who had assuaged her hurts and healed her pain since she was just seven-years-old. But will the very man that ridiculed her in school work his way into Meg's affections? Will Bram risk their friendship and take a shot at love?
Bram Hughes has been an honorary member of the McClare family for years. Caitlyn McClare took him under her wings as a teenager and led him back to the God he had become separated from. Bram has always held a special place for Meg in his heart and takes great pains to ease her hurts when her heart is breaking. When Meg returns from Paris, Bram doesn't recognize her. All he knows is he is attracted to the beautiful young lady before him. Because of a mistake from his past, Bram feels obligated to accept an arranged marriage from his father. But how can he remain only friends with the girl who has stolen his heart? And, if he doesn't move soon, will Devin Caldwell steal the only girl he ever loved?
There's so much I can say about this book. If there has ever been a character I can relate to on such a personal level, it's Meg McClare. I feel many readers will relate to her character and glean a little bit of self-worth through her transformation from mousy to magnificent. Meg is the definition of "development of character " and I couldn't wait to read her story. I wasn't disappointed. It was so touching to see the beautiful friendship between Meg and Bram develop into a relationship built on love and faith.
I love Bram's character, too. Nicknamed "Padre Hughes" by his best friends Jamie and Blake, Bram has a gentle, easygoing personally that I found hard not to love. He fought every battle with God as his co-pilot. He was the one everyone went to when they needed spiritual advice, hence the moniker "Padre Hughes". What's not to love?
I love Julie Lessman's style of writing and Surprised by Love is my favorite book to date. This entire series is spot on when it comes to historical romance and, with this final book, she closes it with a bang! The quote above is from my favorite scene in the book. It brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart like is seldom done. But, not only does Julie tug at your emotions, in her usual fashion, the kissing scenes sizzle without being inappropriate. She knows how to evoke passion in a scene while maintaining spiritual propriety which is a lot harder than it seems and not always done well. The storyline is unique and very engaging, once I started reading it I hated to put it down. The one thing Julie Lessman tries to do in her books is glorify God. She does it in a way that teaches spiritual lessons but doesn't make the reader feel choked by the very knowledge imparted. Once again, she did it beautifully with a strong lesson on forgiveness that anyone can benefit from. When Bram told Logan that in order to fully forgive he needed to pray for God's blessings on the very one that had wronged him, I knew this story would affect many that were struggling with this issue.
I found it difficult to say goodbye to the characters I have grown to love but, in the end, I was a very satisfied reader. Julie Lessman writes stories as beautiful as the woman herself and I am looking forward to whatever is next on her agenda. Surprised by Love is a book to be treasured by any historical romance fan and, if you haven't read it yet, I strongly recommend it!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review and no monetary compensation was received.
Posted November 16, 2014
In the book "Surprised by Love" by Julie Lessman you will definitely not want to put this book down. I hated having to go to work the next day because I wanted to finish reading this book. It was such a passionate and inspirational story. This is the story or Meg and Bram and Caitlyn and Logan. You must read their stories and become wrapped up in the passion of their stories. It will envelope you and carry you totally away. Julie Lessman has done it again. Thanks to Revell for giving me this book for an honest review. I loved it and I shared it with my mother and she loved it too.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2014
Surprised By Love by Julie Lessman – A Book Review
This is the third book in Lessman’s The Heart of San Francisco series. The first book found true love for Cassie McClare, the
second for her cousin Allie. This third book focuses on Meg, Allie’s sister, who underwent an amazing transformation while spending
her senior year in Paris both in her physical appearance and in her self-confidence while also discovering God’s call to serve women
living in poverty doing whatever it took to survive. Matron of this clan, Caitlyn McClare, also comes to grips with her ability to trust or not
to trust her deceased husband’s brother, Logan. A quandary whose storyline spans this trilogy.
The theme of this book is forgiveness, forgiving those who have wronged us as well as forgiving oneself. Bram, loving known as
Padre by his closest friends, is wise beyond his years; explaining the importance of forgiveness, “‘ People don’t realize just how much
energy it takes to hate and hurt someone who’s wounded them, nor how destructive that hate can be….It’s like a gun aimed at them
selves instead of the offending party….It can destroy them and those they love.’” He also explains how, through prayer, to rely on
God’s power to be able to forgive; something that isn’t always possible under our own power. The theme is well developed, and
I was excited to see this third book of the series on the list of books available for review. I’d enjoyed the first two books, and was
anxious to read the third. What I found when I started reading the book was that I was tired of the characters, tired of reading about
Cassie’s smelly lasso and Allie’s stick both of which they supposedly used to keep the man in their life in line. I was tired of reading
about Blake being a rake and family game nights. There seemed to be a lot of redundancy of events and in dialogue. On the other
hand, wondering which man Meg would be interested in, even though it was fairly obvious which one she’d end up with, kept my
interest in the story, as did pondering how Caitlyn and Logan would work out their differences.
The heavy emphasis on the importance or impact of physical beauty was a concern while reading this book. There were a few
instances like when Meg reflected on the lesson that, “although the naked eye admires outward appearance, it’s in the mind’s eye
where true beauty and confidence begins,” and when Devin states that, “For once I’ve met a girl whose beauty on the inside is so
powerful and deep, the surface beauty is almost secondary,” when the author acknowledges the greater importance on\f inner beauty.
For the most part, the reader encounters evidence that the transformation from ugly duckling to beautiful swan was what inspired
men’s ardor and admiration for Meg.
I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing Surprised By Love for my honest review. I did not
receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
Posted November 15, 2014
I received this book free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. I wasn't required to write a positive review and the opinions expressed in the above review are my own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2014
Megan McClare's time in Paris changed her from the inside out. Upon her return to San Francisco, her best friend, Bram Hughes, withdraws from her, fighting a new and unwelcome attraction to her. Struggling to make sense of the new status of their relationship, they both strive to keep it platonic. Bram is promised to another and Megan is interning to find her life direction. When Megan's childhood crush, Devin Caldwell, becomes a co-worker, she turns to Bram for advice and support. As Megan deliberately puts the past behind her and strives to forgive Devin for crushing her heart, they begin to grow closer. Outwardly, Megan and Bram are committed other people, but inwardly, attraction and romance simmers. Will Megan and Bram choose kinship without romantic attachments or will love eventually find a way to blossom? Read more in Surprised by Love by Julie Lessman.
Surprised by Love is the third novel in The Heart of San Francisco series by Julie Lessman. The author gave enough background information for things to make sense, but still left me wanting to read the other books to get the full story. Surprised by Love combines romance, humor and depth to create memorable story. The witty and refreshing banter during the character's dinners added a touch of lightheartedness that I enjoyed. The story successfully kept me wondering how things would work out. From the back cover, I could guess who Megan would end up with, but there were times when it seemed it would surely be someone else. I liked that the ending wasn't obviously apparent from the beginning and I didn't see certain plot twists coming. Surprised by Love is an excellent read for historical fiction fans. It's definitely a keeper for me as I plan to read the prior two books in the series and then re-read this one.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Posted November 15, 2014
This was a wonderful story about Megan and Bram and Megan's mother and their uncle Logan. Both stories are well intertwined. At times I wanted to slap mom because she liked Andrew but it all becomes good in the end. Keep bringing good books like these . I received this from Revell reads for a fair and honest opinion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Fans of Julie Lessman won't be "surprised" to find lots of romantic tension and the strong spiritual thread she's known for weaving throughout her books.
In Surprised by Love, Megan McClare returns home from France with a stunning new look and new dreams of helping less fortunate women through medicine or law. When her internship at the district attorney's office has her working alongside Devin Caldwell, her high school crush, she finds herself turning to her best friend, Bram Hughes, for advice. Previously ignored by Devin, she's surprised to find him interested in her. Bram has always treated Meg like a younger sister, but can their friendship survive if she wants to be more than friends? Or should she take a chance with Devin?
One of the things I've always loved about Julie Lessman's work is that, yes there a bit more romance than typically seen in the genre, but it's matched with some of the best spiritually-filling messages I've seen in Christian romance. For me, the main theme of the novel was about the importance of trust --both in relationships and with God. Megan needs to build trust with Devin, forgiving his hurtful teasing in their youth, in order to see the man he's become. In contrast, she deeply trusts and confides in Bram, who's looked out for her since she was a girl. Meanwhile, Logan and Caitlyn's relationship struggles because of a history of broken trust between the two.
"You see, I've learned the hard way that when it comes to the most precious things in my life, the safest place to keep them is in God's hands. To trust Him to do for them and me the very best thing ... No matter what that is." (pp. 308). Bram calls this deep trust in God "The Abraham factor" (referring to Genesis 22). This reminder came at the perfect moment for where I am in life right now. Do I trust God with the desires of my heart?
In The Heart of San Francisco series, Lessman's writing has gotten tighter, focusing the plot around the main characters of the book. Unlike The Daughters of Boston or Winds of Change series, you won't really see subplots following the couples and characters from previous books, though characters such as Jamie MacKenna or Alison McClare do appear in the story. I kind of wish she was able include more subplots, because I felt like I only remembered a couple of characters from the two previous novels. However, this might be because I haven't yet read book two, Dare to Love Again and it's been over a year since I read Love at Any Cost (book one). But even though it would be best to read the first two books of the trilogy, I think a first time reader could jump into Surprised by Love without too many problems.
Though it's sad to say good-bye to the McClares for now, it's no "surprise" I'm eagerly looking forward to Julie Lessman's next novel!
Posted November 15, 2014
Surprised by Love is the third book in The Heart of San Francisco series. I have really enjoyed each book in the series and have grown to love the characters. It is always hard to say goodbye to the people in a book series who have touched my heart, but with Surprised by Love, I was torn about wanting it to end.
On the one hand, I have been absolutely on tenterhooks waiting to see how the author was going to resolve the relationship struggles of Caitlyn and Logan. I have enjoyed every couple featured in each book, but by far my favorite thread running through each story was the decades-long tension and heartbreak that these two have gone through. So, I wanted to see what would happen. But, on the other hand, I knew that once resolved, I would be saying “goodbye” to a favorite couple! Well, Julie Lessman did a fabulous job with Cait and Logan’s romance. Sometimes I wanted to slap a little sense into Cait, but part of the fun of this author’s books is the up and down emotional journey she is always able to send me on. So, I just held on and knew she would resolve their issues and all would be wonderful once more! :-)
Of all of the three main romances in the books of this series, Meg and Bram’s romance, which takes place in Surprised by Love, is my favorite. It is a transition from a deep friendship to love. I have liked Bram from the very beginning. We learn his back story in this book and it is so interesting and heartbreaking. I admit that I wanted to slap him a little, too, in this book! But he is such an admirable character, as is Meg, and seeing them work through their emotions in the midst of trying circumstances was a treat.
Bram was also such a steadfast man in this series and served as a spiritual encourager for Logan. What was extra-special about the spiritual advice he gives to Logan is that Bram also practices what he preaches. Even though it is tearing him up inside, he follows where he thinks God is leading him and actually does have some peace about the situation. But, he still has much growing to do in this story and his journey is just as interesting to read about as Logan’s journey is.
I loved the book from start to finish and know that it is one I will be re-reading again and again in the future.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Posted November 14, 2014
Megan McClare was always a shy, overweight girl as a child. Now, returning from a year in Paris, she's turned into such a beauty even her family doesn't recognize her. Even though she is excited for her change and her future as a lawyer, she's also overly worried about the reactions of two men. One is the boy responsible for many of her tears in her school years and the other is the boy Bram Hughes who was always there as the big brother to dry and hug them away. When the reactions of both men surprise both them and her, will it finally be what she's hoped for? Or will she be disappointed...again. With mixed emotions of her own and a love for a man she's sure will never share the feeling she can't help but wonder about her life...
Abraham 'Bram' Hughes doesn't know what to think of the jaw dropping young woman he's always thought of as a kid sister. Their friendship has always been special, ever since she was seven and he seventeen, but now he is unsure about everything. Engaged to a woman to fulfill his duty to his father, he can't afford to be distracted. Will his heart change his mind about 'Bug'? Or is it just that his eyes and heart are "out of sync"?
Logan McClare has a bit of a problem. He's in love with his sister in law. She says she loves him back but continues to draw further and further away. And now it appears he has some competition... Will he grace her right or left hand with his ring...his love...
Caitlyn 'Cait' McClare is in love with Logan but she just can't trust the man who betrayed her all those years ago. Her head knows he's changed but her heart just won't follow along... Even if she can never be his wife, can she still be his very best friend? Or will her new beau tear them apart...forever?
*What I liked*
Wow, wow, wow!! If I had to choose my top 5 favorite books this book is definitely there! While this book doesn't say suspense...it definitely will leave you on the edge of your seat and maybe even biting your nails! Julie has created such a love triangle...and yikes, more than one! A fantastic cover...oh and the humor! Meg, Bram, and their friends kept me chuckling for sure!!
*What I didn't like*
This book is so good that I actually went to Amazon the moment I finished it to find the first two books of the series!! You should too, although this book works fabulously as a stand alone as well...
I give Surprised By love...
*Why my rating is what it is*
My rating is five stars because this book is an incredible mix of friendship, forgiveness, humor, love, and a whole lot of twists that leave you reading the ending three times *shame face*. You'll love it!
*I received this book from Revell publishing in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts were my own and I was not compensated in any other way.
Posted November 14, 2014
Julie Lessman is one of my favorite authors. When I pick up one of her books, I know that my heart will be wrung out and stepped on in agony and sympathy with her characters. This is a story with not one, but two love stories and I enjoyed and hoped for a happy ever ending for both of them. Our first couple is Meg and Bram (Abraham). Meg has been away in France for a year and comes back not as the chubby, insecure girl she was, but a woman with confidence in herself and the freedom to make her own decisions. Bram, who has been like a big brother to her since she was seven, realizes his feelings may have changed for Meg now that she is back home again. Let’s not forget Devin, the boy who bullied Megan for years who sees her in a different light now and of Amelia the one whom Bram’s parents’ hope for a joining of their two families.
My favorite love story was that of Andrew, Logan and Cait, Meg’s widowed mother, which seems to have been going on throughout the series. I was on pins and needles for their love triangle to reach a satisfying conclusion. All of her heroes seem worthy to root for at first, but don’t be fooled there are still a few hidden scoundrels and rakes that need to be redeemed. I hope she writes about those next. Anyway, I think I may have cheated myself a bit by reading this third book in the series before the first two. I missed seeing the growth of the family dynamics and relationships and, of course, the first two couples’ love stories. However, that being said, I enjoyed this newest release by Julie and I enjoy how passionate her characters are about those they love and their God. I received this book from Revell, and the opinions are my own.
Posted November 12, 2014
We are back in the early 1900’s San Francisco, and with the beloved McClare family. With anticipation the family is waiting the arrival of Ms Megan as she returns from Paris, France. What they aren’t expecting is the, not unkindly statement, ugly duckling that has become a swan.
This is Megan Maureen McClare’s story, but we are reunited with the whole family, and enjoying our time with them. So good to be back and get updates on everyone. We are still having the love, not hate, but hold at an arm’s length relationship between Cait and Blake, and to the family chagrin we are heading for more of the same between these two.
Can’t you just picture the surprise from people who have known Meg her whole life? Even those who have made fun of her, four eyes, etc., what a rude awakening they are in for. One of them who tormented her terribly is now quite smitten with her. Can anything come from that relationship, and our darling Meg will be able to let go of all the hurts put upon her by this individual. Would love to have seen the look on his face the first time he sees her.
Then we have Blake and have always loved how he has been there for Meg, but as a child, not as a blossomed woman. Being older than her, he tries to put his feeling out of his mind, and after all he owes everything to his parents, for his youthful wrong doings.
Walk along with these dear people as the struggle to walk on the path that God is leading them, rather than their own stubborn choices. Something we all struggle with, and sure hope that forgiveness can happen for all.
I would love more to this story, but most everything is wrapped up by the end of this book, which of course, you could do a read alone, it is that good, but you would be giving up a lot by not reading the previous two books. Enjoy!!
I received this book through Revell’s Book Blogger’s Program, and was not required to give a positive review.