The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jake fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and head-over-heels in love with her. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jake? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?
While I am a big fan Julie Lessman's past books, I am NOT a fan of Charity O'Connor. Seriously, I just could not stand that girl. Have you ever had a character that just feels like you're hearing fingernails on a chalkboard all the time? Yep that is her for me. Even though the story is written beautifully, Charity just rubbed me the wrong way every time I read about her. Lucky for me, she makes only brief appearances in this story. And also lucky for me, I liked Katie A LOT better than I did Charity.
This story takes place in the late 1920s in Boston. It continues the story of the O'Connor clan that started in Lessman's Daughters of Boston series. While it helps to have read that series to understand all the characters, this book can be read on its own as it focuses on a different set of O'Connor siblings. The focus of this story is on the youngest daughter of the O'Connors. Katie is on her way to college, dating a guy that can move her up in society and just enjoying her last summer at home. Unfortunately for her, a chance encounter with an old friend ends up with Katie on restriction during the summer and her having to volunteer with the one person she didn't want to see again.
The chemistry between Katie and Luke is great but I found the story between Luke and Betty to be even more interesting. The flip flopping between the two kept me intrigued and to be honest, I was actually rooting for a non traditional ending involving the two. Katie grows up a lot in the book. She starts off rather flighty but by the end of the book, she's become a mature woman. I was a bit surprised that except for Patrick O'Connor's illness, the Depression didn't seem to affect the O'Connor family like other families of the time period.
There were only two qualms I had with this story. One, I was not a big fan of how the storyline with Parker was resolved. It seemed like he was given an easy way out of the situation by the path he had chosen. Also, without spoiling the story, I felt that the reason he chose that path is not a good reason at all to choose that path. It has potential to backfire in the future. The other was the situation between Faith, Collin and Evelyn. I felt that Faith was too trusting and Collin got off too easy. It may be because I just read Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin that has almost the same plot and I walked away from that book not happy. This story had the reverse resolution but I didn't like how it was resolved either.
Overall though I enjoyed the book. The story gave a really good feel of the late 1920s culture. The historical aspects balanced nicely with the romance story. Lessman is known for lots of passion in her stories (something still controversial in Christian fiction) and it is evident in this book. I didn't think it was anything over the top though, in fact I felt it was downplayed from her previous series. As I have felt about her other books, I do enjoy seeing emotions and actions like this in Christian books. There needs to be more of it and Lessman does a fine job balancing the two. I'll be looking forward to the next books in the series as we hear more from the O'Connor clan.
A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman is published by Revell (2010)
This review copy was provided for a blog tour with Winsome Media