Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Pub Date: September 2008, Baker Publishing Group
Format: Trade Paperback, 477 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
Depth of beauty … shallow of heart, Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. She sets her sights on a man who wants nothing to do with her, and although the sparks are there, he refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with a woman who ruined his life. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.
After reading A Passion Most Pure, I knew that I wanted to keep up with the O'Connor family and read all of their stories. Once again with A Passion Redeemed, Julie Lessman has produced a beautifully written book with a big heart. I was curious to see how she would manage to redeem Charity, a character who absolutely drove me crazy in the first book. To be honest, she drove me crazy for most of this book, as well, because her supposed faith in God that she developed seemed (and in reality was) very superficial. To give Lessman credit, though, there is a reason for that, and we certainly learn some startling things about Charity's past. Unfortunately, Charity has to go through a great deal of pain to finally realize how wrong she's been and really turn her life around and gain a true understanding of God. By the end of the book, I really did feel for her and actually understood why she behaved the way she did for so long. I finally learned that she's got substance and heart--I think Charity had to learn that for herself, as well.
And then there's Mitch. He was one of my favorite characters from the first book and I was looking forward to reading more about him in A Passion Redeemed. And boy is he stubborn and pig-headed (and so is Charity!). I still have a difficult time understanding why he refused to let himself love Charity--oh, I understand being upset with her lies and attempts at seduction, but every time he would admit to himself that he still loved her. If that's the case, why risk hurting another woman (Kathleen, a woman he's already hurt in the past) whom he might not be able to love the way she deserved to be loved? In both of Lessman's books that has been explained by the passage in the Bible that tells us not to become "unequally yoked together with unbelievers." That's all well and good, though I often wonder if believers and unbelievers are brought together for a reason.
I have to admit that while this story was moving, I'm not sure I enjoyed it quite as much as the first book. (Spoiler Alert) By the end, I really had a hard time believing that Charity's family would welcome Mitch back with such open arms as if nothing had happened. (Perhaps they are just that solid in their Christianity and ability to forgive, though!) I rather felt like Mitch could have saved everyone a lot of grief if he just let himself love Charity and had decided to help her come to understand and love God as much as he did if that was really what was so important to him. But I must say that I can't deny Julie Lessman's ability to write an unforgettable page-turner and develop colorful characters. Her stories are NEVER boring! I enjoy the fact that she portrays people more realistically than some other Christian fiction authors I've read over the years. I'm very much looking forward to revisiting the O'Connor family in the third book, A Passion Denied.
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