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Book Review: Surprised by Love by Julie Lessman

She can turn the head of the man who spurned her—but can she turn his heart?

Surprised by Love

Julie Lessman’s Surprised by Love is the third book in her The Heart of San Francisco series. Set in the early years of 1900, the book continues the romantic adventures of the McClare family. You’ll find my review of Dare to Love Again here.

The McClares are a tight-knit family, though they aren’t shy about taking others into their fold—people like Bram Hughes, the man they call “Padre” for his ability to provide wise, Godly counsel to others, especially the third McClare sibling, Meg. 

The story begins when Meg returns from Paris a totally different woman. She left a brilliant but overweight, spectacles and braces-wearing carrot-top. She returns a curvaceous, sophisticated woman who ditched the glasses and braces, and dyes her hair a rich auburn.

Through the years, Bram has served as Meg’s advisor, protector, and “shoulder to cry on.” He’s a big brother who never disappoints. She’s the little sister he lost years earlier. Everything changes when she walks through the door of the McClare house and he doesn’t even recognize her.

This is one of those “two-fer” romances as the up-and-down relationship between Mama Cait and Uncle Logan continues. Frankly, while Meg and Bram’s love story is sweet and heartwarming, I considered the one between the elder adults more tension-filled and interesting. I liked how she intertwined the two in a way that made the resolution of one plot line depend upon the resolution of the other.

Ms. Lessman’s clever sense of humor sprinkled through the dialog and her clean, but somewhat sizzling, romantic scenes make for page-turning reading. That said, a few times I felt the emotional descriptions were a little overdone, tilting toward melodrama.

There are a number of spiritual themes in this book, such as, conquering fear, letting go of guilt over past sins, and my favorite as represented by the passage below:

“… I discovered there’s a huge difference between acceptance and resignation—one is positive, the other is negative. Acceptance opens the door of hope wide, while resignation slams it shut. One says God is good and loves us. The other says He is harsh and doesn’t care. Abraham chose to ‘accept’ God’s will, knowing full well that God loved him and not only wanted the best for him, but knew exactly what that ‘best’ would be. Neither is easy when it means relinquishing the desires of our heart, but ‘acceptance’ promises that God will bless our obedience with a greater good. ‘Resignation,’ however, can sever our relationship with God, which leaves us on our own, resulting in darkness and despair.”

If I read the story right, Surprised by Love won’t be the last in the series. We have one more McClare sibling to go: Blake the “Rake.” Can’t wait for that one! 


Disclosure of Material Connection: This book came to me free from the publisher, Revell, with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

As an author of heartwarming historical and contemporary romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

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