A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman is a tale of friendship and faith, of letting go and letting God direct the path. This inspirational historical romance takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and events. The backdrop is Boston in the Roaring 20's and the O'Connor family has expanded with the marriage's of Lizzie's older sisters, Faith and Charity. Their romantic journey's are chronicled in the first two books of Lessman's The Daughters of Boston series A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed. This book can be read as part of that or as a stand alone. Either way, you won't be disappointed.
The love story at the center of this book is simple and pure. Elizabeth O'Connor has been best friends with John Brady for years. He is a mentor to her. One who shares her love of scripture and literature. Lizzie grows up and falls in love with John. John however has a secret past and holds shame deep in his heart. He comes to discover his love for Lizzie but doesn't feel worthy of it. Through some fabulous plot twists and turns, during a time in our history where the moral fabric of our society is being heavily tested, Lessman brings about a conclusion filled with depth and redemption for both Lizzie and John.
What I love about Lessman's writing is her ability to bring you into the story. Her characters are so bright and vivid that you are drawn into their inner struggles over faith and morals. You care about them and you will find yourself cringing when the decision they make is not a good one and cheering when it is. I absolutely love how she deals with passion and lust. She meets them head on and doesn't trifle with words. Lessman usually brings the point home through wonderful dialogue between her characters. Passion is a good thing. It's how God made us to be. But we must obey the parameters that He set forth for us. Their struggles are very real and relatable to today's society. Her books celebrate marriage in a way I have not seen in the recent past.
Also, I have to say this as a Catholic who has read Inspirational Christian Fiction for years. There is a secondary character, a priest named Fr. Mac, who is just wonderful. He is young and vibrant and plays a wicked game of basketball. No scandal, nothing inappropriate happens. He is such a redeeming character. Thank you Ms. Lessman for that gift. It's like Bing Crosby from "Going My Way" stepped off the pages. Just delightful. Her attention to details, be they religious or historical, are very well done.
One of my favorite quotes from the book comes from a conversation between John and Fr. Mac about holding on to the past.
John says " Too many skeletons in my closet and a past that even Harry Houdini couldn't escape."
Fr. Mac replies "Yeah, well, that's the beauty of faith in God. Forgiveness is a fringe benefit."
It is a fringe benefit indeed! The struggle to let go and let God heal is very prevalent in this book, as well as Lessman's earlier works. So powerful are the lies the deceiver tells us, that we are not worthy of God's redeeming love. How wrong he is!
The Romantic Times Book Reviews said "This is not your mother's inspirational fiction." and they are right. There is no preaching in this book, just a wonderful tale of a young lady coming into her own adulthood trying to figure out who God wants her to be. She falls in love with a young man who is holding onto his past so tightly, he is missing the beautiful gift that is set before him, the love of his life.
I highly recommend this book and the others in The Daughters of Boston Series. Thank you Ms. Lessman for a wonderful trip through history filled with romance and intrigue. What a fabulous way to spend an afternoon.
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