Book Review: Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength. 

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he’s a fraud just like all the rest of the men she’s cared for. Does she dare love again?

The lushness of the glorious Gilded Age beautifully showcases Lessman’s passion as a writer in this engaging love story written with humor and heart. From the glamour of San Francisco’s Nob Hill to the seedy gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, Dare to Love Again is a journey to find a love that never fails. Fans will love revisiting the world of the cousins McClare, and new readers will seek more of Julie’s passion-filled novels.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I adore Julie Lessman – both her books and Julie personally. I’ve been watching for this book since the last one came out and when the Revell Reads email popped up in my inbox, I jumped on it!

Filled with Julie’s trademark humor, smooches, and hunky heroes [both Nick and Jamie from last time and a couple others who may or may not be the hero of book 3 – or perhaps competing for the heroine’s hand???]. I loved the secondary story of Logan and Caitlyn and look forward to its resolution in book 3.

Alli McClare is spunky and spirited and I loved her from the very first page. Nick Barone [that’s with a long e sound, by the way ;)] could be surly and cantankerous with those who didn’t know him well or those who were on his bad side. But underneath beats the heart of a teddy bear. Alli doesn’t see this for a while and the two are sniping at each other from the very beginning.

As much as I loved this, I don’t think it was Julie’s best. Perhaps because it’s a bit shorter than her first two series*? I’m not really sure, but several times there are jumps in time – of several weeks, during which time the relationship between Alli and Nick softened or progressed. While Julie did a great job of setting it up so it’s plausible that the relationship has improved when we come back two or three weeks later, but I would have loved to see some more of that development.

There was one thread that I felt was dropped, and I won’t spoil it but has to do with Nick and Uncle Logan’s animosity. It’s possible this thread will continue through to book three so while I’ll ask Julie about it most likely, it’s also possible the resolution is still coming.

A couple other things kind of bugged me which leads to a bit lower rating than I would have expected, but those are personal pet peeve annoyances and not anything to do with the quality of the plot or Julie’s writing.

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

*What is the plural of series anyway? Serieses? Seri?

Special thanks to Revell Reads for a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.