Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman

Love at any CostSynopsis:~

Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart.

When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can’t buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?

My take:~

Love at Any Cost is the highly anticipated beginning to Julie Lessman’s Heart of San Francisco series, introducing readers to the McClare family with its raft of young and attractive cousins, with energy and personality to spare and their elders, widowed Caitlyn McClare and her bachelor brother in law, Logan. Julie has a gift for creating a loving and inclusive family, and her readers will quickly become fascinated with the McClares, who have many similar qualities to the O’Connors of her earlier series, yet will stand uniquely on their own.

This story revolves around Cassidy, the jean wearing, lariat wielding Texan cousin, who has come to San Francisco to heal from a broken heart with the help of her beloved aunt and her family. I love the family relationships, the love and loyalty that is shared between the McClares, which is reflected in the close knit McKenna family. The spiritual element is strong, as in all Julie’s stories, as Jamie and Cassidy wrestle with their fears and their need to control their own destinies, both discovering that God has so much more in store for them. A surprising plot twist towards the end of the story was intriguing but I’m not telling!

That said, not all was to my liking in this tale. Passion and attraction has always been a significant feature of Julie’s stories but I was surprised by the intense focus on that part of Cassidy and Jamie’s relationship. Feisty is Cassidy’s middle name yet she continually places herself in situations where the hero of the tale can take advantage of her, and he promptly does, time and time again. There is a fine line between rogue and rake and in the first half of the story, Jamie crosses that line, enough to make me feel uncomfortable. He is a contradiction ~ on the one hand he is a deeply respectful and loving son, with a noble dream to improve the life of his beloved mother and crippled sister yet once with an attractive woman he becomes brazen, constantly overstepping the bounds of propriety without regret, until he can no longer get his own way. So much focus on Cassidy and Jamie’s  physical beauty and stolen kisses was to the detriment of a substantial story line. The same sensual tension also exists in every scene between Aunt Caitlyn and her brother in law, Logan, who is trying to convince Caitlyn that he is not the same man who betrayed her in their youth. There is a realism to Julie’s writing that reflects they way some men think when it comes to women and vice versa and I admire that. However, I discovered that while I crave authenticity in characterisation there is a level of integrity and spiritual maturity (or growth as the case may be) that I prefer in my heroes and Jamie just didn’t have enough of that for me.

Despite my reservations, I have no doubt Love at Any Cost will appeal to many of Julie’s readers who will be thrilled to fall in love with another family of fun and interesting characters as they pursue love and faith in San Francisco.

With thanks to Revell for my review copy

Relz Reviewz Extras
Reviews of A Light in the WindowA Love SurrenderedA Hope Revealed,  A Hope UndauntedA Passion Most PureA Passion Redeemed & A Passion Denied
Character spotlights on Sean & EmmaCluny & KatieLizzie & Brady and Marceline, Patrick & Sam
Julie’s FamilyFiction Plus
Interview with Julie
Visit Julie’s website
Buy Love at Any Cost at Amazon or Koorong

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14 Responses to Love at Any Cost by Julie Lessman

  1. Seriously – my copy needs to arrive faster. Very well and carefully written review, Rel! It piqued my curiosity about this one.

  2. “…on the one hand he is a deeply respectful and loving son, with a noble dream to improve the life of his beloved mother and crippled sister yet once with an attractive woman he becomes brazen, constantly overstepping the bounds of propriety without regret, until he can no longer get his own way.”

    Agree with this SO much, Rel. This was a great problem in Jamie’s character. I liked him but a part of me held back from “loving” him because, yes, he was too forward and… well, a cad around Cassie. As a reader, I should NEVER feel as if the hero is going to force himself on the girl – in any way. Whether its minor (forcing a kiss) or major. And that first kiss was nothing like what a first kiss should be. I had my mom read that scene (she hasn’t read Julie’s books) and her reaction was much the same without me sharing why I wanted her to read it. Actually, her response was even stronger than mine and so needless to say, there are many reservations there.

    Hopefully in time, Julie will find a more polished balance between “passion” (which can be done well and tastefully) and proper romances. :)

    EXCELLENT review, Rel.

    • I concur with both of you ladies. I do not read mainstream (or “secular”) romances because I am not comfortable with the sensual liberties taken between main characters, even if it does not lead to consummation. I think Christian romance should distinguish itself from mainstream books by avoiding the use of sexual tension as the primary and overt force of conflict in a plot. I love passion and edginess, but I never want to feel like a voyeur. I can not encourage actions between characters that I would not permit in my personal life or relationships.

      • Lydia » I agree with that, Lydia. As I read the first kiss in the book, I kept thinking if a man behaved like that with one of my daughters I’d slice and dice him in minutes!! In many senses, Julie was portraying him realistically (sadly) but I needed more from him (remorse) to connect with him as a “hero” not continuing that same behaviour over and over again.

        • Totally agree, Lydia and Rel! There’s a fine line between being unique and writing romance with more “passion,” which there is nothing wrong with that (with purpose) and being “barely there” chemistry. Some books I read and the romance is cardboard, others sizzle with passion. As you say, Lydia, this is primarily the reasons we steer clear of secular fiction. We expect that line to be crossed in that genre (sadly, it’s a shock if it isn’t!) but we look for purer relationships in inspirational fiction. That is part of Christian fictions definition.

          Love what you say, Rel: Jamie wasn’t “remorseful” (or his spiritual transformation wasn’t) enough to compel or convince me of his sincerity. But oh, how I WANTED him to be.

    • Rissi » Thanks for your kind words, Rissi. It was a tough review to write, as you know yourself. Interesting that your mum felt the same way. That first kiss waved big warning flags to me about him. Sigh.

  3. Thanks to all of you for reviewing this book so carefully. I read with caution Julie’s earlier Boston series…and wondered at the barely-bridled intensity and sensuality of her characters. I was curious about this new book, opening up a new series, and I’m glad to see that I might want to pass it up. I am encouraged that not every reader is jumping on the bandwagon of pushing the limits and borders. Having a clear line between acceptable attraction and outright lust is very important. Let’s keep it clean and pure and Christian, authors!

    • Kandra » Hi Kandra – thanks for your feedback. I think for me it was the repetition of the same behaviour and the focus on the characters’ appearance on every page that I found so unnecessary. That said, I love Julie – she is a gorgeous woman with a huge heart for God. Her spiritual elements are always moving and challenging – love that about her writing!

  4. This is why I admire your reviews: The careful balance between loving the good themes and warning us of the perhaps troubling content.
    Visiting your blog and following your twitter is a delight for my bookish heart. :-)

  5. Wow! Well-worded and spoken like a mommy with daughters! I agree with you 100%. Julie’s books border too much on sensuality. Very well written but I don’t recommend them for spiritual growth. With all due respect, I have to say that for the sake of our daughter’s and preserving purity, I wish she’d curb the ‘physical liberties’ in her books.

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