Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Write a 500-Page “Page-Turner”!

A Perfect Reason to Read a Longer Romance!

A Hope Undaunted”
Winds of Change Series #1
By: Julie Lessman
Paperback: 505 pages
Publisher: Revell
(September 1, 2010)

I love short romances! The Harlequin Medical Romance line is just about perfect in my opinion. The very idea of reading a romance that’s over 500 pages long is daunting!

So it’s amazing that, “A Hope Undaunted,” by Julie Lessman, at over 500 pages, is the fourth such book by the author that I’ve read!

I can’t believe it myself. But then I can’t help myself. The first book in the series, “A Passion Most Pure” was so good, it won all kind of awards – including “Best Book of the Year” in its category. Each additional book in the series has been a real ‘page-turner’.

The author keeps the pages turning by simply being interesting. Every few pages something interesting is happening. There are six children in the O’Connor family and they all have stories. “A Hope Undaunted” is Kate’s story. She is daughter number four, the youngest, and spoiled rotten. Given her birth position, she would almost have to be.

Julie Lessman draws very real characters you immediately identify with. You quickly become emotionally involved with people in the book even when you don’t like a rather unsympathetic character.

While “A Hope Undaunted” is book one of the “Winds of Change Series”, it is also book four in the full series. This makes it hard to review in that I have read the other books and I fully appreciate everything the author accomplishes in the book. I think it is clearly a great, 5-star’ book but I can’t be sure someone who has not read the other books will rate it that high. (I really suggest you read the whole series but surely “A Hope Undaunted” is at least a wonderful 4-star read if read alone.)

The story takes place in 1929 as the economy is falling apart and the stock market crashes. The heroine, Kate O’Connor, is being punished for being too wild. She has to work the summer in a volunteer job to help orphans. These were the very last days of the orphan trains to the Midwest. (There’s a lot of interesting history in the book).

The assistant director of the charity is the hero, Luke McGee, who was Kate’s childhood nemesis. She can’t believe that he grew up to be so tall and handsome. Luke is a lawyer now. Kate also wants to be a lawyer and the book points out how there was a special women's law school back then in which girls could attend after high school and become lawyers in just four years without going to college.

Kate is going to attend that school if the family can afford to send her after the stock market crash! Very interesting. The whole book is interesting and totally captivating. I like it the best of the four books so far.

Sometimes a little point can cast a better light on a big project that a whole essay. Below is a quote form the book that is really just an aside. It comes at the end of a chapter and is totally unexpected.

From “A Hope Undaunted”. The grandfather (Patrick) and grandmother (Marcy) have just had a big fight about a foster child Marcy ‘needs’ to alleviate her impending ‘empty nest’ angst.

* * *

"She nodded and sniffed again.

With a tight squeeze, he buried his head in her neck before pulling away with a lift of his brow. He stared at her new satin gown, then slowly fanned his hands down the sides of her waist. “And speaking of a price to pay – so you’ve taken to wearing perfume to bed, have you, Mrs. O’Connor?” He bent to caress the curve of her throat while his fingers grazed the strap of her gown. “And a new satin gown, surely not just for sleep.” With a slow sweep of his thumb, the strap slithered from her shoulder. “Oh, I’m afraid this is going to cost you, darlin’.”

He kissed her full on the mouth, and heat shivered through her. “I suppose this isn’t one of those times when I need to say no,” she whispered, her breathing ragged against his jaw.

“No, darlin’, it’s not.” And clutching her close, he fisted the satin gown and moved in to deepen the kiss, his husky words melting in her mouth. “For all the good it would do.”

WOW! And this is Christian fiction!

"Edgy" Christian fiction as the author likes to say.

I don’t think I can find another passage like the one above in the last few hundred romances I’ve read. I just loved it!!

This is what you get on every page. This is why I keep reading Lessman’s books even though they are just about three times longer than I prefer. If you actually like long books, you’ll probably be in heaven reading these!

Highest Possible Recommendation!

Book 1
Book 2

Book 3


  1. Vince, thanks for introducing me to this author, who is new to me. I love books set in this time period. Can't wait to read the first in the series and continue.

  2. VINCE!!! You sweetheart, you -- thank you for the great review, my friend, and you will be happy to know that the next series I'm proposing will clock in a 350-400 pages ... with the same amount of passion!! ;)


  3. Hi Caroline:

    Thanks for coming by. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Julie’s series. There’s so much to enjoy.


  4. Hi Julie:

    The same amount of passion in one-third volume! Do you think that would be safe?


  5. Grin ... uh, maybe "not safe," but since when have I played it "safe," Vince??

    Thanks again for a great review!


  6. Great review, Vince! You captured the essence of a Julie Lessman classic.

    Wait. Does the author have to be dead in order for their work to be considered classic??

    Oh no, then, definitely NOT classic. But very memorable and intriguing just the same.

    So Julie, any way you can maybe get those little fingers of yours to type faster? So hard to wait between books...but oh so well worth the wait!!

  7. well, if anyone should know how to do it you would. I love your 500 page book turners

  8. Hi Audra:

    You don’t have to be dead to write a classic. You just have to be really old.

    I wonder? : )



  9. Hi Apple Blossom:

    Thanks for stopping by. You have a very cheerful name!