mary's book basket ~ "a light in the window" by julie lessman

I am a huge Julie Lessman fan. I have enjoyed reading all of her historical inspirational romance novels over the last few years and have reviewed a few of them here in this space ("A Passion Denied",  "A Hope Undaunted", and "A Heart Revealed"). These have have been some of my favorite reads in recent years.

In her new prequel "A Light In the Window" she explores the relationship of Maurceline Murphy and Patrick O'Connor, who are the parents of characters in her previous six books. Going in I knew they would end up together but I was still intrigued by how they met and married.

I was not disappointed. Ms. Lessman has hit another home run with "A Light in the WIndow".

Book Description:
One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart. 

While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the "light in the window," meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”

As I have stated before, one of my favorite things about Ms. Lessman's writing style is her attention to the emotional arc of her storyline. She doesn't shy away from digging into the darker places in her character's personalities, always building on that "third relationship" that is present in all inspirational novels...their personal relationship with God. There is always growth in her novels, but it happens without the preachiness that existed in previous generations of inspirational novels. It's more real to me and I am able to connect with it. It's not all puppies and rainbows but more in line with how I live my life. Sometimes life is just plain hard but God never leaves you.

In this novel we are swept up into a love triangle and from the beginning I will admit that had me a bit irritated. I was Team Patrick from the beginning and felt Ms. Lessman was a bit heavy handed with the over emotional reaction Marcy had toward him. But I kept reading and slowly Ms. Lessman revealed the basis of Marcy's resentment toward Patrick and it all clicked into place for me. She did an artful job of pulling back the curtain into each character's personal backstory that still affected their behavior in the present time without it being a large info dump.

For me reading a novel is all about investing in the characters and Ms. Lessman is quite skilled at drawing the reader in to care about what's happening with each of them, whether they be the hero or heroine or a minor character brought into support the story. Some of my favorite moments in the book revolved around two secondary characters-Holly (who was wheelchair bound - yea, diversity is present!!) and Tillie, who actually brought me to tears once. They just jumped off the page and I loved it. It also contains one of the most satisfying Epilogue's I have ever read. SO good!!

The author is running a little contest over at her website to support this book launch. Head on over and be a part of the party! Click Here!

I really enjoyed this book.  Go buy it!! I give it:

4 cupcakes - It was delightfully delish and I would highly recommend it to others.