Bonnie reviews Isle of Hope- by Julie Lessman
***** 5 stars
"When guided by love, the truth never ruins hope, it only sets it free. Not only does our God redeem and restore human beings, he redeems and restores the mistakes they make as well, turning tears of mourning into tears of joy". (Isle of Hope)
When 18-year-old "wild child" Lacey Carmichael is kicked out of the house by her heart-surgeon father, Ben, numerous hearts are broken when she flees to California with a friend. Eight years later, Lacey has become a woman of faith; though she returns home to Isle of Hope, Georgia to be the maid of honor in her cousin Nicki Phillips' wedding - her greater purpose is to reconcile with her estranged father and the two people she deserted without explanation: previous seminary-bound boyfriend Jack O'Bryen, and her best friend Cathleen (Cat) O'Bryen, Jack's sister.
However, the tables have turned: Jack, heart-broken by Lacey, and bitter over his pastor father Adam's affair with Lacey's mother, Karen - has turned away from God. Known as man about town "Doctor Swoon' by all the nurses, he is a pediatrician at Memorial Hospital. Lacey's guilt, low self-esteem, and the bitterness with which she is met, present huge obstacles in restoring relationships with two dysfunctional families. Numerous uncovered secrets, by both families, cause additional wounds which can only be mended by a God of hope and love.
When I write a Christian Fiction book review my prayer is always that it will honor both God and the book itself. There is no author whose work I love, and am inspired by, more than that of Julie Lessman. The passion and emotion with which she writes puts her work in a lofty category of it's own; I'm always amazed at the number of beautiful characters and stories she is able to weave within the pages of each book. I read 'Isle of Hope' twice - the first time deeply touched and inspired, the second time even more so.
I related to the warmth and realism of it's characters and their stories on a deep level - storing them in the recesses of my heart; identifying with some of their trials, re: my own younger life, made me love them even more. As with Julie's other books - God is the key around which the characters revolve; the humor from some characters, along with antics of adorable children, balancing the drama and angst. Scattered amongst my reading moments of tears, smiles, and joy were some of anger and shock, replaced by the inspiration and redemption of the characters through a loving God of hope and forgiveness.
Even though Christian Historical Fiction is generally my favorite book genre, and I loved each of Julie's ten books and two novellas in that genre, I feel Isle of Hope, her first Christian Contemporary Fiction, is her best work yet. I joyfully await book two of the series and the opportunity it will provide to reconnect with some beautiful, inspiring literary friends.
GIVEAWAY: Our thanks to Julie Lessman for her generous provision of an eBook giveaway of 'Isle of Hope' to one blessed commenter from each of the two reviews of her book on OWG this week! Answer this question: Do you primarily read historical romance or contemporary, and why?