Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Review - Surprised by Love

Original Title: Surprised by Love
Series: The Heart of San Francisco, #3
Author: Julie Lessman
Published: October 7th, 2014

Publisher: Revell


I finally finished this trilogy, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. This book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either, and at one point I just wanted to be over with it, as I was bored from time to time, and wanted to tell the characters what to do, so the story would move forward.

Even though Megan McClare –the family’s middle sister, and a former ugly duckling turned swan– is supposed to be the protagonist in Surprised by Love, more often than not I thought she was more like a supporting character in her own story, as the plot seemed to revolve more around Cait and Logan’s story than hers. In contrast, theirs drips passion, while Meg and Bram’s felt a little too flat for my taste. At certain point, I found myself wanting to force the characters to make decisions, so the plot would move forward, instead of having to read about them stuck in the middle of the things they wanted, and the things they should want. It was tiresome. I mean, even when both Cait and Meg turned their attention to other men by the middle of the book (Andrew and Devin, respectively), it was obvious they wouldn’t end up with any of them, so I just wanted them to hurry and blow them off, so the story could be wrapped up as it was meant to the whole time. And I think that speaks for itself.

Again, family is the main focus of the book, and I have to say, it’s nice to read about people who are always there for their loved ones, and are willing to go any lengths for their wellbeing. It’s heartwarming, healthy, and wonderful. And, definitely, I liked to see that Alli was still there. Among the female protagonists in the trilogy, she was, hands down, my favourite.

Overall, I liked Megan McClare. Although she’s as brave and determined as Cassie and Allie, in their own books, it’s in a quieter way. I liked she has passions and plans for her life that go not only beyond Bram Hughes, but also beyond the roles assigned for women in the early 20th century. She is generous, and selfless, and is always willing to help those in need, and I loved her for that. When she comes back from Paris having gone through a makeover, and suddenly becoming noticeable, she turns not only Bram’s head –who always saw her as a little sister, but now realizes she’s a fully grown woman–, but also Devin’s, the guy who used to bully and torment her all the time in school, and was basically the reason why her friendship with Bram became so deep. And so, starts some sort of love triangle in which, although both Meg and Bram know they are in love with each other, they separately decide to settle for other people, because Bram warned her from the first moment, that nothing would ever happen between them.

It was good that in this book we got to know Bram through his own eyes. Until this book, he had been just a background character, always at Meg’s side, and helping others to find the right path, through his strong faith. The way he feels torn it’s raw and painful, and it got truly realistic at certain points. You can actually feel how he’s constantly doubting between doing the right thing for his family, or following his heart to the woman he knows, is the love of his life. We all have felt like that in our lives, and we will again, that’s for sure –albeit not around the same things. And through getting to know him, and uncovering his terrible past, with the sister he lost, and the way he almost got his father killed, we can find a side of him that wasn’t there in the previous books. His spiritual struggle is real, and it’s really well written. Even though it was a given that he would choose Meg by the end, one can understand the depth of his inner turmoil.

I guess that what bothered me the most about Meg and Bram’s dilemma, was that they did not fight for their love. Agreed, there were obstacles that kept them apart, but in the end, they got solved by others. Either because of Logan’s investment in Bram’s family business, or Devin’s betrayal, their problems disappeared without Meg and Bram deciding to go against all odds to be together. And that, honestly, is not the kind of love story I like to read about. They claim to love each other, but the only one willing to act on it is Meg, and even so, she hits the wall of Bram’s sense of responsibility and duty towards his father, in order to atone for his past mistakes.

As I said before, I loved Julie Lessman’s writing style. It’s really beautiful, and impactful, and she can actually stir feelings in your heart. With Bram’s story about his past, I was utterly heartbroken, and invested in what he was telling me, and when I found out about Andrew being on the list of clients copied by Ruby Pearl, from the Municipal Crib, I was open-mouthed, shocked, and wanting to slap him with all my might. However, once again, I kept wondering about the choice of words here and there, as sometimes the terms and expressions used by the characters, sounded way too contemporary for the time period.

Logan and Cait’s story is well written, but at the same time, it can be kind of exhausting, as I felt it got unnecessarily convoluted at certain points. It was good that, by the end, Logan understood that no means no, and didn’t force himself on Cait anymore, but that doesn’t take away the fact that I got really tired of their endless comings and goings, even when they both agreed they couldn’t imagine life without each other, and their love had never died. There was a point in which I just wanted to slap her so she would make up her mind, because although she didn’t want to marry him and couldn’t forgive him for not telling her he was Jamie’s biological father, she still kept throwing herself in his arms every time she got upset or emotionally disturbed, so I kept wondering, what does she mean by all these? Does she want him, or not? Damnit, woman, make a decision! However, I will say, it was definitely necessary for their development, that she got engaged to Andrew Turner, because I saw it as the way God had to give clarity to their situation. I mean, sometimes, the answer to your prayers relies on taking the wrong path, to be able to recognize the right one. Cait knew that Logan was the right man for her, through the mistake of accepting Turner without really knowing him, only because he was the sensible choice. And although I was left wanting to read the confrontation between them after she found out about his dealings in the Barbary Coast, it’s fine that it didn’t happen; for the sake of her purpose of cleaning the area, she had to keep that information to herself.

Finally, I’ll say, even though the book isn’t bad, I can’t deny that, at least around the main love story, the book was a little too boring, and it got repetitive at certain points. Overall, I found it to be raw and realistic around how difficult spiritual struggle can be, sending a good message, by saying that leaving everything in God’s hands is always the right choice; even when it can be very difficult to let go and just trust Him, convincing ourselves that He knows better than we ever will, and that He does not make mistakes, in the end, it’s what we need to do.

Thank you so much for reading!
‘til next one!


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