Julie's first lines are like a window to her books...a little glimpse of what's in store. Her first line for A Hope Undaunted is, "Now this is how love should be - nice and neat." I nearly sighed with contentment, as I knew that Katie's world was going to be anything but nice and easy!
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 Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Cluny McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?
Julie has to be the Queen of Metaphor. Almost on every page there was some great metaphor to describe how the character was feeling or thinking, and Julie would usually draw in a part of the setting to ground the reader further in the scene. I just felt like I was watching the scenes unfold while I was there, experiencing them. Since this was the first book of Julie's I'd read since learning she uses this gigantic thesaurus book (that I purchased), I read keeping her preference in mind for finding words that match the mood of the scene. BOY! Julie does this SO WELL that I had to read a couple sentences out loud just to appreciate her genius.
But that's just my opinions as a well-read reader. In addition, I love looking at Julie's flawed characters from my perspective of a therapist, because they are all SO ripe with need for intervention! (And I think Julie would admit this straightaway.) From the very first scene, the reader gets to see two sides to Katie O'Connor: the spoiled, rich girl who gets what she wants and the sensitive, compassionate agent of change whose only desire is to help those less fortunate than her. Such a great dichotomy in a character, rife with tension, and so well written.
Then there is Luke, who grew up discounted on the streets as a homeless orphan, and has made it his mission in life to make a difference in the lives of other homeless children. He remembers well being called "riffraff" and "street trash" and lets those memories shape him in the present because he is unable to break free of them. Katie personifies everything he wasn't and didn't have, which makes interactions between the two of them page-turningly intense!
Both Katie and Luke have deep wounds from childhood that they have carried with them for years. For that reason, I think anyone reading A Hope Undaunted would resonate with the pain they feel, respectively. Too often, a stray word or errant phrase spoken in anger is the seed planted that later blooms into full-blown resentment or timidity or low self-esteem. Katie and Luke both wrestle with their past demons in different ways, some of which are healthy and others which are not.
One aspect of Julie's 4th book that I really liked was that she wandered into the very biblical realm of the role of the man in a relationship. Since the book was written around the 1920s and the flapper era, thus the Winds of Change series title, women were coming into their own and pushing the proverbial envelope with what society considered acceptable behavior. Katie's headstrong willfulness is a part of who she is, yet it doesn't edify God when she wears the pants. There is an expectation for the man to be the leader of the home, and I love how Julie exemplifies this biblical truth by the end of the book. (You'll just have to read it to find out which guy ends up being better for her! Julie sure does keep you guessing until the very end. Seriously.)
I will wait with bated breath for the next installment in Julie's series. *sigh* Can't come soon enough. Thanks, Julie, for such a wonderful read that swept me away for all of 2 days. Can you make the next one longer? :-)
Julie has been kind enough to agree to a giveaway to one lucky commenter! So leave a comment and let me know if you've read any of Julie's books and which of them is your favorite so far. If you haven't read Julie's books, then leave a comment and let me know what's wrong with you. :) HA! Just kidding!
For the rest of my readers who simply can't win this fabulous book, you can buy it at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors. And be sure to go by Julie's website to read up on her other books, A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied.
A Hope Undaunted is available NOW at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
CONTEST WILL CLOSE FRIDAY, Sept 24th!