review | a dare and a prayer by julie lessman
She did it again, guys. Julie Lessman knocked it out of the park once more with her latest release, A Dare and a Prayer. I’ll be honest, none of her books have hit me this hard since Unfailing Love (aka Isle of Hope). This WWII romance between daredevil Henry Dennehy (yes, my all-time favorite couple Mitch and Charity Dennehy’s son 😍) and mission-minded Amy Leigh MacArthur is packed with passionate romance and powerful faith—which are Julie’s trademarks and what we Lessman fans have come to love about her books.
But A Dare and a Prayer does something a little different. It tackles the heart-wrenching, gut-churning topic of child trafficking. I gotta say, if you’ve got a weak stomach or faint heart, this book isn’t for you. Julie doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of sex trafficking and just how evil it gets. Even my stomach roiled a time or two out of distress and pure anger. But despite the honest portrayal of this real-life atrocity, Julie never fails to highlight the love of God and the compassion (and righteous fury) of our main characters. She doesn’t sugarcoat this issue, which means she doesn’t gloss over the consequences of sin or the freedom from all slavery that we find in Christ.
Speaking of freedom, we get to witness once again another moving redemption arc in the form of our boy Henry! I so love seeing Julie present the way God works in people’s lives, often using the love and shining lights of those around them to direct them to God. Our sweet but straight-laced heroine Amy puts her faith in God into action and His precepts into play when Henry comes her way, and we’re reminded once again how important it is to live for God above all else—others, our own desires, or our fears and doubts. Something I appreciate about Julie’s books is how she emphasizes how we as witnesses of God’s love and grace can lead the horse to water, but that it is ultimately the Holy Spirit that makes them drink—so to speak. It’s this beautiful dance God leads us in, where He uses us to challenge others and introduce them to the love of the Savior…and where His Spirit convicts them. And Julie’s books always illustrate this beautifully—especially A Dare and a Prayer—and remind us of the impact we can have when we follow Christ and obey His Word!
Henry and Amy were both so charming, each in their own ways, and I loved reading their stories! Often, the goody-two-shoes heroine can come off as too perfect, but Amy also has her own flaws that she works through and issues she struggles with, so it was refreshing to see that balance. I will admit, their characters and overall dynamic (and some of the exchanges they had) felt very similar to Hope and Bren from the previous book, as well as several of Julie’s other couples. It may have just been me, but it did keep the story from feeling unique and standing out from amongst the rest. (But let’s face it: nothing is quite as good as Mitch and Charity. Which brings me to one of my favorite parts of this book…)
We got to see all the O’Connors again! Not only were the clan’s patriarch and matriarch and the original siblings included in the story, we also got POV scenes from the perspectives of Hope, Gabe, and my girl Charity! We got to witness several weddings in this book and enjoy the beginning of our beloved couples’ rest of their lives, which was such a delight! (Side note: we do cover some honeymoon scenes with Julie’s signature pure passion that celebrates the beauty of God-ordained marital love without ever getting gross or too descriptive, but if that’s not your forte, you can easily skip those scenes!)
A Dare and a Prayer was intense. There was this deliciously dramatic (and daring, but not in the way you might think!) romance, some high-octane aerial combat, and this pulse-pounding mission to save the innocents that will seize hold of your heart—in more ways than one. Julie manages to balance the romance and action with well-done character development and authentic faith content that uplifts and inspires, creating a breathtaking tale of family, faith, and fulfillment in Christ. (Yes, the alliteration was entirely intentional.)
I can’t say A Dare and a Prayer was my favorite Lessman novel (we all know which one is, though), but it was such a fantastic installment in the Cousins O’Connor series that I can’t wait to see what Julie has up her sleeve for this wonderful Irish family next!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy from the author. All opinions expressed are my own.
~ the book ~
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 ...
~ 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, 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 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” 2017-20, 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.
~ the giveaway ~
To celebrate the release of A Dare and a Prayer’s, Julie has not one but 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 my e-books
~ OR choice of one of my 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)
~ the tour ~
October 1 — Radiant Light Blog
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
October 12 — Miss Pippi Reads Blog
October 13 — Christian Bookaholic
October 14 — Grace Johnson Review (you are here!)
October 15 — Scraps of Life Blog
If you haven't yet, make sure you order yourself a copy of this passionate and inspiring WWII novel! A portion of the proceeds will go to Project Eden, an organization that helps fight human trafficking, so not only will you be able to treat yourself to a heartfelt story, you'll be giving back to help children across the world who are in bondage.
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to “lay down the law" or choose obeying God over serving yourself/others? How can we help lead others to “water" (that is, Christ) in our everyday lives? Comment below and let's talk!
(Pst! My Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from any qualifying purchases made through those links at no extra cost to you.)