Sunday, April 21, 2013

Love At Any Cost by Julie Lessman

I've read all but one of Julie Lessman's previous books, and have enjoyed them all. She has a real knack for weaving intricate/angsty plots full of intersecting characters and secondary story lines. I'm happy to say, if you're a fan of her previous series', there's a good chance you'll like Love At Any Cost as well. Here's the synopsis:

Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can't buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?

Right from the start, you know Cassy McClare is a total Texan spitfire. Her very first sentence-"Sweet Thunderation-deliver me from pretty men!"-tells you she is not one to mince words and has little toleration for "pretty boy polecats." To be honest, I wasn't sure if her extreme feistiness would drive me nuts after a while-because it seemed a bit over the top-but she did grow on me as the story went on. I began to empathize with her obvious heartbreak and determination to threaten all men who looked at her twice-especially the, yup, pretty ones-with her formidable hog tying skills, even as I felt badly for any poor sap who got a kick in the leg with Cassy's cowboy boots.

So, into Cassy's emotionally traumatized existence comes Jamie McKenna who is even better looking than her ex-fiancee-big uh oh. Huge. You can already see the sparks and soon to be physical/egotistical bruising on the horizon, right? Clueless Jamie lays on the charm right off the bat because he believes Cassy to be a wealthy oil heiress, and he's looking to snag a rich wife in order to pay for his crippled sister's much needed hip surgery, among other things. They forge a strong friendship as Cassy quickly makes it clear she isn't ready to start a new relationship, yet they can't deny a gradual longing for something more. However, Jamie doesn't share Cassidy's faith, and he discovers she is not the well off rich girl he's been planning on. With both of their hearts already involved, is there a way to work out their seemingly insurmountable circumstances?

As with all Julie Lessman novels, there are plenty of surprises throughout the story that will keep you guessing as to where things are heading next. Jamie and Cassidy were a fun couple to follow, even if both of them had certain traits that didn't always make them appealing in my eyes. I wasn't always sure I believed in Jamie's level of complete love/devotion toward Cassy, even right up till the end.


For example: One second he's talking to his friend about the girl he's courting-not Cassy- and describing how he's lucky that she's smart, rich, and beautiful-but a few sentences later, he's surprised/upset when he finds out Cassy-who he has reluctantly but knowingly thrown over for said girl- fled to get away from his betrayal. Huh? To me, he just came across as kind of shallow/selfish at times and I wasn't totally convinced of his quick turnaround/change of heart towards the end. Also, I wish that Cassy would have expected Jamie to earn her trust back over a longer period of time, rather than just immediately accept his proposal without much of an argument.


There are also quite a few other characters that interact with our main hero/heroine, the most notable being Cassidy's Aunt Caitlyn and Uncle Logan. Cait is a widow, previously married to Logan McClare's brother Liam, but it was Logan who was her first love. Unfortunately, he messed up big time, lost her trust, and had to step back as Liam and Cait started a life, and family, together. Twenty six years later, she's single and he's desperately hoping to rekindle their old love affair, with marriage in mind. But, like Jamie, Logan isn't a man of faith and he's also a well known womanizer who, in fact, cheated on Caitlyn all those years ago.

Their story line is woven throughout the entire novel, and I was definitely intrigued by where their relationship was headed. No conclusion is reached by the end of this book, but I think that's a unique idea; to have a secondary couple's relationship gradually unfold without having to rush things-plus it leaves a bit of a cliff hanger that makes you want to see what will happen next!

As always, Julie Lessman writes with wit, style, passion, and a unique flair for angsty/twisty/dramatically rich plotting that involves the reader in the world she's created, right up till the very last page. I definitely look forward to seeing what she has up her sleeve next for those McClare cousins she's introduces us to, and also the continuing saga of Logan and Caitlyn. All in all, a great start to The Heart of San Fransisco Series!

"Available April 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group."

Thanks to Revell Publishers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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