A Gift Like No Other by Julie Lessman [Review + Giveaway]

Not to skip over Thanksgiving, but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas as holiday season begins and publishers begin releasing Christmas-themed novellas and books. Award-winning author Julie Lessman has just published another novella continuing the saga of her beloved O'Connor family! Read on for a full review and how to win a set of five ebooks!



Title: A Gift Like No Other: An O'Connor Christmas Novella
Author: Julie Lessman
Published: 2019 

About the Book:
Her dream is writing.
His is the perfect wife and mother.
Until God fulfills them both with a dream like no other.

Twelve years ago, Faith O’Connor happily gave up her dream as a copywriter to become a wife and mother, clinging to her husband’s promise she could return someday. But when the opportunity arises to write for the Boston Herald again two days a week, her dream hits a snag … along with her marriage.

To Collin McGuire, family is everything because he never really had one of his own. Raised by a father who died early and a mother who didn’t care, Collin is determined to give his children the very best with a full-time mother. But when he denies Faith her dream, he soon discovers he’s denied his own as well … until Christmas day brings a healing through a gift like no other.
The Artist Librarian Review:
To borrow an oft-used phrase in the series, "Sweet mother of Job," how I have missed the O'Connors! I can barely believe that it has been practically 12 years since A Passion Most Pure, Julie Lessman's debut novel that introduced us to protagonists Faith O'Connor, Collin McGuire, and the rest of the memorable O'Connor family was published. Set in 1936, twenty years after the events of her first novel, Faith and Collin are navigating married life with ease until a career opportunity causes conflict between the two.

One of my "ult 'ships" (ultimate relationships) or pairings from Julie Lessman has always been Faith and Collin.  Faith of course, was an inspiration with her spiritual maturity, the relatable "good girl" compared to her wilder sister, and Collin, though I normally am not a fan of the "bad boy" trope, eventually won me over with his growing faith and I admit, romantic (can I say "sexy?") ways. ;-) 
As always, Lessman goes full tilt with swoon-worthy romance (on the "spicier" side of Christian Romance) equally matched with a strong spiritual thread. 

Ever since her first novel, where Lessman gave prominence to parents Marcy and Patrick's relationship besides her younger main couple, I've grown to appreciate her attention on married couples, which you don't often seen in romance novels: What comes after the "happily ever after."  It's kind of surprising that more Christian Romance authors don't choose to do so ... Marriages have different types of conflict and situations that make for interesting plots and you can definitely up the romance with married couples. Though on the "edgy" side for the genre, Lessman keeps it classy with martial scenes that tastefully closes before things get too steamy.

When a mother should return to the workforce and her career or remain at home has been a discussion many couples have probably had for over a century.  While it's easy for contemporary readers to paint Collin's views as being unreasonable, Lessman was able to give him motivations and insecurities behind his decisions that were understandable (besides the historical context) and allowed him to remain in a sympathetic light as the reader patiently waits with his wife Faith for him to come around.  I also appreciated how Faith, even though known as one of the more spiritually mature characters in the series, also struggles and draws on the encouragement and reminders from God, her sisters, and mother.  The "girl talk" conversations reminded me just how close the O'Connor ladies are as a family and I was here for it all!  Finally, it was kind of neat how a couple minor characters and situations from A Passion Most Pure was reflected back in this story.

If there are any critiques, it would be that there are many characters that felt like they were just "name dropped." The O'Connor boys and their spouses for example, Sean and Emma, along with Steven and Annie, always seem to barely be mentioned in these novellas.  I'm not sure if it's because the other couples are more popular, but of course, with the ever growing cast of the O'Connors (How many grandchildren must Patrick and Marcy have by now???) it's understandable and probably a good thing that the focus is placed on a certain number of characters.

I also still feel like the book covers for the O'Connor Christmas novellas feel too contemporary, especially the images of the main couples.  This minor quibble is understandable because these novellas have been independently published by the author and it is much more difficult to get accurate historical garbed models or images than contemporary ones.  However more importantly, Lessman's writing is just as strong as her traditionally published novels and the quality of her follow-up novellas seamlessly continue the stories of the O'Connors for grateful fans everywhere.  As always, I eagerly look forward to what Julie Lessman writes next!

The O'Connor Family Saga (so far):

Series Prequel:
A Light in the Window (2012)

Daughters of Boston Trilogy (2008-2009):
1. A Passion Most Pure
2. A Passion Redeemed
3. A Passion Denied

Winds of Change Trilogy (2010-2012):
1. A Hope Undaunted
2. A Heart Revealed
3. A Love Surrendered

Christmas Novellas:
A Whisper of Hope (2017)
The Best Gift of All (2017)
A Gift Like No Other (2019)

Do you enjoy Christmas stories?  What are some of your favorites?

[Disclosure: I received a complimentary e-ARC copy of this book for review purposes through participation of this blog tour.]

About the Author
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, Isle of Hope, and Silver Lining Ranch series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.
Giveaway

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d26850c5308/?

Enter the giveaway HERE to win 5 e-books by Julie Lessman!
  • A Gift Like No Other
  • A Light in the Window (Daughters of Boston prequel)
  • A Whisper of Hope (Christmas novella featuring Charity & Mitch)
  • The Best Gift of All (Christmas novella featuring Lizzy & Brady)
  • The Gift of Grace (Western Christmas novella)
Giveaway ends November 12 at 11:59pm MT. Giveaway is subject to policies HERE.
Tour Schedule
Follow along with the tour and view the rest of the blog stops HERE!
SLB Tours Team Button

5 comments

  1. A wonderful review! It's so nice to hear from readers who love Julie Lessman and her stories as much as I do! So agree tht Julie has done an amazing job continuing the O'Connor story.Her stories while being romantic and entertaining always have heart and spirituality. As for Christmas stories I have many favorites,but two of them that spring to mind are Julie Lessman's A Light In the Window and O.Henry's The Gift of the Magi. Am a Journal Jots reader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Lynne, that's interesting that you mention The Gift of the Magi because I kind of based A Light in the Window on that story -- where Collin gives up something for the love of Marcy.

      Thanks SO much for your support, my sweet friend & GOOD LUCK!!

      Hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  2. Julie Lessman is an exceptional author! I'm looking forward to reading this one.

    I'm a Journal Jots reader.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you SO much, Caryl, and fingers crossed for a win!

      Hugs and more hugs,
      Julie

      Delete
  3. JENNA!! Long time, no see, my sweet friend -- hope you are doing well! Thank you SO much for the wonderful review AND for being part of my blog tour! Great points about the covers and you are dead-on -- not much to pick from for historicals that actually LOOk a wee bit like the characters, so it is what it is. But I do think Collin and Faith (Collin at least) are pretty similar to the original cover.

    Have a WONDERFUL holiday season, you sweet thing!!

    Hugs and more hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts! Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

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