When Cassidy McClare heads off to her cousins' in San Francisco, the Texas girl has sworn off men, especially the pretty ones that toy with a woman's affections and then break her heart. Unfortunately, a couple of her cousin's best friends are like family, and one in particular - the insufferably handsome Jamie McKenna - seems bent on pursuing her against all her protestations. Jamie needs a rich wife, and if nothing else, Cassie is quite the fun, feisty woman with whom he could easily fall in love. However, she has one stipulation - that he must pursue a relationship with God before she will consider courting him. He's more than willing to fake it, but when he learns her father's oil wells - and consequently money - have run dry, will he continue to pursue her?
Lessman includes lots of period detail. As I have worked in costuming, I enjoyed catching descriptions of the different styles of corsets, the Gibson Girl look, the bathing outfits, and other fashions of the time. In addition to clothing, there is plenty of detail on the city itself. While I realize San Francisco is a big city with no doubt plenty of vices, I did not know about the horrors of the Barbary Coast, with its prostitution, saloons, gambling dens, and more.
I could appreciate Jamie's love of family and how the desire to protect them drives him forward, but I didn't like how he treats Cassie. He doesn't listen to her when she says no, and he uses physical persuasion far too much for my tastes. Granted, he isn't following God, so it's little wonder he acts the way he does, but still . . . Though I did pity him on occasion - he really messes up royally where Cassie is concerned.
I really appreciated how God was the deal breaker for Cassie - as
tempted and attracted as she is to Jamie, she is trying to keep God
first. Some days with better success than others, of course, but we all
have struggles. The author doesn't shy away from our need for God, and
makes it clear in the lives of Cassie, Jamie, Aunt Cait, and even
wayward Uncle Logan.
The goofy Texas-isms were on the heavy side at first, but they lessen further in the novel. My prudish Scandinavian blood can't handle so much passionate kissing, so I tended to skip over those paragraphs, but I see why some refer to the author as the Queen of Passion. The strong focus on God was quite a redeeming factor, though, and I ended up enjoying the story more than I expected.
The Heart of San Francisco
1. Love at Any Cost
2. Dare to Love Again
3. Surprised by Love
3.5 "Grace Like Rain" (novella coda)