A DARE AND A PRAYER by Julie Lessman
SERIES: The Cousins O’Connor #3
GENRE: Historical Romance (Christian)
RELEASE DATE: October 1, 2023
(NOTE! THIS BOOK IS A SWEET INSPIRATIONAL WITH A HIGHER LEVEL OF ROMANTIC PASSION)
He’s a hotshot who takes up a dare.
She’s an aspiring missionary who wants to beware.
But will love become a gamble with a dare and a prayer?
Lieutenant Henry Dennehy is a cocky and carefree fighter pilot in the Pacific Theatre of WW2, known for scoring big, both in the sky and on land. But when his buddies offer a bet he can’t refuse to turn the head of the “untouchable” nurse at 369th Station Hospital—a woman who’s shot down more flyboys than the enemy—he’s bound and determined to win. Problem is, if he wins the dare, will he lose at love?
Lieutenant Amy Leigh MacArthur was on her way to the mission field when she detoured to fight for her country instead, an Army nurse whose interest lies only in healing the wounded and teaching orphans to read. Certainly not in men, and definitely not in Henry Dennehy, the boy who ridiculed her years ago as a shy and homely teen. But when Henry pursues her and won’t take no for an answer, Amy finds a way that gives him no choice.
Until, that is, love does the same for them both …
Other Books In This Series
“The ways of the world eat away at your soul. But the ways of God restore it.”
There’s something truly special about Julie Lessman’s O’Connor family. Not since Janette Oke’s Clark & Marty Davis has one fictional family so imprinted itself on my heart. I’ve followed the O’Connors through the generations – from World War 1 to the 1920s/30s all the way to the present day. And I’ve been delighted to go back in time once again to the O’Connors during World War 2 in Lessman’s The Cousins O’Connor series. While we are following that generation of young men and women through the war and its aftermath, we also get to visit with the beloved patriarchs and matriarchs that we first fell in love with way back in the Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series.
I’ve had my eye on Henry O’Connor, brother to Hope, son of Mitch & Charity, since A Wing and a Prayer and I became concerned about him in A Hope and a Prayer, too. So I have been eagerly waiting for his story, and it absolutely did not disappoint. Henry has more than earned his nickname ‘Hanky-Pank’ and he certainly knows how to turn on the charm. His ‘devil may care’ attitude and roguish charisma, however, hide a tender heart that shows up in his care for his adopted stray dog Tootsie and his work with the children of the orphanage. It’s that side of him that draws our heroine Amy, and his kisses are plenty good at curling her toes and obliterating her good intentions of keeping her distance. Henry’s redemption story may not be as dramatic as Bren’s (from book two) but it’s no less powerful to watch his life change. I loved that, even as he matures over the course of the book, Lessman didn’t get rid of his swoony charm or the chemistry between him and Amy. He’s still a boy at heart even as he grows into a man. And boy howdy is there chemistry! I at one point quit breathing while they just stood in a room and stared at each other. Not to mention the KISSES. Whew!
Amy is one tough cookie with a heart of gold. I so admired her strong convictions and her compassion, two things about her that don’t waver no matter what situation she’s in during this story. She strives to do the right thing even when it’s heartbreaking. And yes, sometimes even she gets off track. Because even though she comes across as someone not guided by her passions (despite Henry’s kisses which test this assertion lol), we do see later in the story that Amy is just as vulnerable as we are to make decisions based on emotions. I appreciated that we get to see Amy at her best and at her not-so-best because it serves as a reminder for even fellow ‘good girls’ that taking our eyes off Jesus and putting them on our wounded hearts can be dangerous if not caught in time.
But amid the swoonilicious Lessman-level kisses, the banter, and the charming characters, there is a subplot that’s much more serious. Through their work with the orphanage, Amy and Henry are exposed to the startling dark underbelly of sin. Specifically, the kind of sin that thinks it’s acceptable to use young girls for nightmarish purposes and – not only that – but to facilitate their transfer to other people who have the same intent. While this is a theme that has become more common in contemporary fiction, raising awareness of the epidemic of human trafficking, it’s not as prevalent yet in historical fiction – giving us the erroneous assumption that this is a new problem. The fact is, it isn’t. It was around in World War 2 and long before. And even though the author is as discreet as possible while still getting across the stark reality to readers, I realize this topic can be understandably triggering to some.
Bottom Line: A Dare and a Prayer by Julie Lessman takes a roguish scamp and a faithful believer and turns their hearts upside down and inside out, leaving them all the better for it in the end. The romance is full of passion, and the story is full of Jesus – with that quintessential Julie Lessman blend that proves an abundant life is full of both. The subject matter of human trafficking is emotional and raw, as it should be, but it’s handled with a lot of grace, surrounding the victims with deep love and hope. This is a story that will take you – and its characters – through the wringer but ultimately will leave you with a lighter heart and your eyes on Jesus.
(I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book that I read via Kindle Unlimited. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 4+ / keep those fans, fainting couches, and freezers close by
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, Silver Lining Ranch, and The Cousins O’Connor series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 21 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fictionmagazine’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” 2017-20, 2021 and 2023, 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.
In honor of A Dare and a Prayer’s book birthday, Julie has two contests going on where you can win the following:
GRAND PRIZE (2 chances to win!):
—$50 Amazon gift card or $25 Amazon gift card
—Choice of three of Julie’s e-books or one of her signed paperbacks
—A character named after you or a loved one in her next book and a signed paperback copy
—Your choice of one paperback from Julie’s list of top-selling CBA authors, including Tamera Alexander, Colleen Coble, Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter, Robin Lee Hatcher, Nancy Naigle, Cara Putman, Deborah Raney, Katherine Reay, Becky Wade, and Beth Vogt.
RUNNERS-UP PRIZES (8 chances to win!):
—Choice of three of her e-books
—OR choice of one of her signed paperbacks (based on her private stash)
—OR choice of one paperback from a list of the above-mentioned top CBA authors (based on her private stash)
So, check all the details out at her Journal Jots Blog HERE and GOOD LUCK!
In order to enter the contest, just leave a comment on one or all of the following blogs:
October 1 — Radiant Light Blog (tease)
October 1 — LiteraryScape Book Club
October 2 — Grace Johnson Spotlight
October 3 — Britt Reads Fiction
October 4 — Where Faith and Books Meet
October 5 — A Baker’s Perspective
October 6 — My Favorite Pastime
October 7 — Reading is My SuperPower
October 8 — Writing Between the Lines
October 9 — Locks, Hooks, and Books
October 10 — Splashes of Joy
October 10 — Saraina Whitney Blog
October 11 — Radiant Light Blog (review)
October 12 — Miss Pippi Reads Blog
October 13 — Christian Bookaholic
October 14 — Grace Johnson Review
October 15 — Scraps of Life Blog
What about you? What makes you want to read A Dare and a Prayer by Julie Lessman?