STORY: Cassidy McClare is a Texas girl through-and-through. And she’s done with men. Fool her once, shame on you, fool her twice, and well, she isn’t about to let that happen. To heal her broken heart, she leaves behind the home she holds dear to stay the summer with her aunt Cait and cousins, Blake, Ally, Meg and Maddie. Only trouble is, escaping her past may not be so easy when she comes face-to-face with Jamie McKenna. He may have a different face but he’s exactly the same kind of man as Mark, and Cassie refuses to be drawn in by his charm, or his gorgeous eyes. What Cassie doesn’t know is Jamie is looking for a wealthy bride, and what Jamie doesn’t know is that the spunky Texas heiress isn’t what she seems.
What I Like
Coming back to a novel written by Julie Lessman feels like a comfortable reading habit. After a six-book set about the O’Conner’s of Boston, any reader of Lessman’s will be curious as to how a new set of characters will win them over in Love at Any Cost. It’s not long into the book before Julie’s new story entertains her fans. There is rarely a trace left over of her prior books, a missing component I find helpful. Shifting the story from the East Coast to the West plays a role as does a different time period. Similarities are present in her “unique” type of story-telling as well as the presence of a large family whose bonds go beyond that of a holiday family.
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Equally interesting is the setting which Julie weaves authentic details of the time and it occasionally even puts me in mind of an old movie I once saw. Most of the book is light and happy, but then there are some historical details that make us feel grateful to live in a different time.
The characters are pretty fun. Heroine, Cassidy McClare is loveable and charming. She’s spunky and full of gumption despite her distrust of men. And I adore her as well as her sweet cousins, whom if I have to hazard a guess, will feature prominently in their own story at some point. Ally in particular is a doll and reminds me of my own relationship with cousins. Then there’s Jamie. A rogue with a quick-wit and twinkle in his eye, I like meeting this young man very much; his devotion and love for his sister is precious. I only wish I could say the same for his actions towards Cassie.
What I Don’t Like
Although I like most of Lessman’s leading men, I think too much of their characteristic is written far too “physical” instead of growing them into stronger men of God. Instead they are constantly swayed by a pretty face (some of which aren’t their sweethearts). I grow weary of each of these men (even the most devout, Bram) being flirts at the least, womanizers at their worst. Jamie is far too “forward” and loose with Cassie. He should have been a man we can applaud (this is not possible with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and too much sensual chemistry). Also unattractive is the way he steals kisses – and by “steal,” I don’t mean “sweet” pecks. And this is where the problem is.
There’s a fine line between flirtation with a “twinkle” and flirtation that almost endanger conviction. Stealing a kiss is one thing, and can be quite “cute” if written properly, it’s the way the scene is written that makes it more “awkward” and questionable than a good first kiss. Here instead, what we get is one that forces itself, and this is a big no-no. Never should there ever be a hint of this in a healthy relationship. Especially in a genre that is meant to look at love much differently than secular fiction. We’re meant to live in society, but not be a part of it.
Under Julie’s skillful, careful pen, we have another charismatic story. Just when we think everything will tie up like one of Cassie’s ropes by way of a grand gesture, there is a “twist” that changes the dynamics, making for a page-turning last few pages. Between the characters (rich with familial ties) and a new setting ripe with historical aplomb, Love at Any Cost is a must-read for any of Julie’s fans!
About the Book:
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Author: Julie Lessman
Publication Date: 2013
Series: The Heart of San Francisco – Book 1
Genre: Christian Fiction; Historical, Romance
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Rating: 3 out of 5
With thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of Love at Any Cost for reviewing purposes