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Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love (Isle of Hope Series (Edgy Inspirational) Book 1) Kindle Edition
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The characters have depth, are well-drawn, and inhabit their modern coastal Georgia isle so naturally they made me long for a beach vacation.
The dramatic plot turns in Isle of Hope call to mind a soap opera (as they often do in Julie Lessman’s historical novels), which is less a criticism and more a testament to the author’s savvy given the enduring popularity of soaps (and perhaps a nod to her well-known love of Gone With the Wind). The novel includes perhaps the best one-sentence chapter-ending cliffhanger I’ve ever read.
The faith element is organic to the story, but is more extensive than in most inspirational romances or women’s fiction as multiple characters’ arcs echo the themes of forgiveness, (re)conversion, and redemption. I highlighted several passages that struck a chord – something I typically don’t do. By showing the natural consequences of selfish actions, the narrative deftly demonstrates how no sin is truly private, and its repercussions affect many people besides the perpetrator.
Some beautiful, tender, heart-melting moments of grief and sorrow are interwoven with the painful longing and simmering passion you’d expect.
A little tightening to reduce thematic repetition and some of the analogies would only make this good novel even better. As it is, it’s an engaging story of love, forgiveness, healing, and rebirth that left me looking forward to the next book the series.
After being away for eight years; Lacey Carmichael is back to her old stomping grounds in Isle of Hope. She’s back to help her best friend with her wedding. She expected to run into her ex-Jack O’Bryen eventually (a man she almost married 10 years ago), but now? “Her first two minutes in town? Really?”
My heart went out to Lacey Carmichael as she is forging ahead in her new walk of faith and trying to heal old wounds. Jack asks her why she’s back. She tells him about her friend Nicki’s wedding. Lacey then says she's home to make amends with the people she’s hurt.
He replies, “Well that should keep you busy!... “Just with my family alone.”
I like how this author weaves a faith message in the middle of everyday life for her characters. I also liked how this author showed Christians putting their faith into action in a loving way/ This author is not afraid to talk about touch issues and messy situations with love and grace. What does the grace of God look like? Characters encourage one another to do the right thing and they love each other through hardships and go the extra mile when they feel the call. It’s not easy. The author masterfully mixes her well timed humor in the story as shes hows the struggle in our spirit and with our emotions in forgiving others and ourselves. This story shows how God redeems and restores our mistakes if we’ll let him. We don’t have to punish ourselves for past mistakes.We can be healed!
Here’s a peek into this novel; Lacey has a talk with her Mamaw about doing the right thing and making amends with her father. Lacey says she’s not ready. Mamaw replies, “That may be, darling, but it’s been this old women’s experience that when God changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, it’s a wee bit like laying a new foundation….Unfortunately, the longer we wait to heed His call, darling, the more we run the risk of our new heart calcifying just like concrete….And you can’t risk that Lacey, because if we want the blessing of God in our lives, we have to make sure we have a clean heart.”
“Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.”
Lacey heard that still small voice in her spirit. …”Mamaw’s words piercing her with the painful truth. And if there was anybody who knew about clean it was Mamaw. In fact, Lacey was pretty sure she was a distant relative of Mr. Clean…”
This story is fun, a great escape, helps you walk in a few people’s shoes and learn a thing or two. There are a few surprises too! It’s a wonderful book for your group to read and discuss at book club. If you haven’t tried this author yet you should. She’ll be your new favorite.This is an Inspirational story of hope, healing and forgiveness. This book’s a keeper!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”
Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com
Lacey Carmichael and Jack O'Bryan were in love several years ago. Lacey was a wild child constantly pushing all of her father's buttons and tempting her boyfriend Jack. Jack was a good boy heading for seminary. When circumstances cause Lacey to leave town Jack is heartbroken. Fast forward 8 years and Lacey is returning to Isle of Hope a changed woman.
Lacey's newfound faith in the Lord has prompted her to make amends with several people from her past, namely her father, ex-boyfriend Jack and her best friend Cat. Jack has now become a wild child himself. Fresh out of medical school he's enjoying the attention from all of the nurses and determined to play the field. He is less than happy to see Lacey back in Isle of Hope.
Lacey's relationship with her father is the hardest one to crack. After all, to make amends you actually need to talk to the person and Lacey's father has no desire to talk with Lacey. Over the years Ben has become a bitter man determined to cut his feelings and life off from those around him. Known at the hospital that he works at as Dr. Doom, Ben works hard to live up to that name. Once friends and neighbors with Jack's family, Ben has erected a barrier between the two homes. Tess has had enough of Ben's hermit ways. Tempting him with monster cookies, Tess worms her way into Ben's life. Between Lacey and Tess will they be able to show Ben and Jack that forgiveness really will set you free?
Oh my goodness! Where to start? Author Julie Lessman knows how to play the emotions of the reader. I find that her characters can make me laugh over some snarky dialogue and then rip out my heart and have me weeping like a little girl over a poignant scene of forgiveness or declaration of love. ISLE OF HOPE had a sub-story between Ben and Tess that I absolutely loved. I found myself being reminded of Cait and Logan in Julie's other series The Heart of San Francisco.
ISLE OF HOPE has a much more blatant spiritual aspect to it that to me added so much more depth to the story. I loved the scenes of forgiveness, they were heart-rending and so believable. I also appreciated the reality that the author portrayed of what sin can do in a persons life and how that sin affects so many others around them. Above all I loved the message of forgiveness and HOPE that a person can have in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
This was Julie Lessman at her best! Since ISLE OF HOPE left some characters hanging I'm going to assume that we will be returning again to Isle of Hope to resolve some relationships in future installments. I can't wait!