Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Heart Revealed

A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman is the second book in the Winds of Change series and the fifth following the lives and loves of the O'Connor family of Boston. Sean O'Connor, the eldest son, has made a practice of avoiding women in his life. He keeps himself busy running from his job to playing and coaching several different sports, trying to stay too busy to think about the past and to bury his violent temper and the demons that cause it. Emma Malloy made a mistake fifteen years ago in marrying Rory, and he made her pay for it by nearly killing her and permanently scarring her face. Her best friend Charity, Sean's younger sister, brought her to America and helped her find a job that keeps her very busy. Emma is well beloved by the wide circle of friends she has built, and her faith in God keeps gives her peace despite the ache in her heart for a love she doesn't feel she deserves. The rest of the O'Connor family continues to have drama in this novel as well: Katie fights with new husband Luke about her desire to become a lawyer, Marcy wants to adopt Gabriella, and the rest of the family is feeling the effects of the Great Depression. I have loved every book in the series that portrays Christian marriage as a beautiful and healthy place for sensual passion while depicting history through the eyes of a fascinating family. This book is the weakest in the series so far, for me. Much of the plot was overly predictable and there was an abundance of extraneous detail about furnishings and fashion. Remember Cousin Oliver from the Brady Bunch series? That's Gabriella for me; she's a brat, and not in a good way, and I don't enjoy her storyline. Reading the previous books had me rooting for the main characters and so I kept reading, and I'm glad I did because Lessman writes Christian romance like nobody else in the business. I hope the next book about brother Steven recovers the series five star status.

It's been a long time since I attended a church regularly. After being hurt terribly by two churches that I gave my heart to, I was terrified of ever finding one where I would fit and be accepted by me and who would respect what I had to offer. My relationship with God has grown in my time of worshiping privately, but I've missed corporate worship, lifting my voice in praise, taking communion, listening to a good sermon. Jesse has been attending his family's church for the past several months, and I was surprised by how they welcomed him so quickly. During his first visit he was invited to join the worship choir, and he soon made some good friends and real connections. It took me longer to give it a chance, because of my fear, but I am very glad that I finally let go and gave it a chance. On my second visit, I was invited to join a small group. I've never attended a small group before, and this one has already changed me. I know that every person in the group has a personal relationship with Jesus. I also know that every person loves me, even though I've only been there twice. This may sound silly, but finding this group of people felt like coming home. I'm even starting to help out with the youth group, which was my passion at my first church and also the cause of my leaving it. In this church, even though it's a denomination I never would have considered, I have found acceptance and hope. I'm looking forward to church tomorrow. Last Sunday, Sunday school started and Mia was dressed, had breakfast and brushed her hair before Jesse even got out of bed; she was that ready to go! And this to a church she'd never attended. She just wanted to go to learn more about God. My heart is filled with hope and joy, all because of a church that opened its arms to me and my family.

Thank you to Revell for providing me with a copy of this book for review. Available September 2011 from Revell, a division of the Baker Publishing Group at your favorite bookseller.