A Heart Revealed is an inspirational historical fiction novel by Julie Lessman.
Emma Malloy has been living in Boston for ten years now, having left Ireland because of an abusive husband. Charity O'Connor (now Dennehy) helped persuade her to leave, and Emma is now fully a part of the O'Connor family - practically a surrogate sister. She loves the big family, and is happy to call them her dear friends.
It's 1931 and the depression is hitting them all hard. Emma is working long hours at Dennehy's, the store she manages. After a mishap at his last job, Sean O'Connor, one of Charity's brothers, comes to help out. She's known him for years, and their mutual respect and admiration is strong. But soon his charm turns more than brotherly... but Emma's still married. She's come to term with her situation long ago, and knows that she will never again be romantically involved with another man. But now that the spark has been ignited in her heart and body, how can she bury it once again and see Sean as only a friend?
In the meantime, Charity's own marriage is on the rocks as her husband Mitch has to work longer and longer hours at the Herald. Plus, the fact that his new supervisor is an attractive widow has Charity in a tizzy. Then there's Katie, another one of the O'Connor girls, who just married Luke. But before the honeymoon is even over, she's already hiding something from him. Does being married mean giving up personal dreams?
There are many relationships in the spotlight in A Heart Revealed. Emma is most certainly not the only character we follow. But the beginning of the novel does bring her and her abused and fearful past to the forefront. We see that's she's now free physically, but maybe not emotionally. Her external and internal scars are still there.
Oh, my goodness did I love A Heart Revealed!!! In it we have fiery, playful, lively Irish characters and an easy, teasing banter that hooked me quickly. This is a rich, stunning tapestry of multiple people, all with distinctive personalities, and an epic, multigenerational feel to top it off. The time period is vibrant and believable and among the emotional honesty there is also a fun humor to it.
I absolutely loved this novel from start to finish - I was held helpless in it's clutches. I could hardly believe how much I was invested in these characters. Before I was even halfway done, I was thinking about how much I wanted the previous books from Julie Lessman, which seem to all still focus on this large, wonderful family - A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Revealed, A Passion Denied, and A Hope Undaunted. And now that I've finished A Heart Revealed, I want those books more than ever!!! I want (and need) to fill in all of the O'Connor family stories that I've missed!!!
A Heart Revealed presents the readers with a multitude of fascinating, amazing, enjoyable characters, relationships, and stories. Julie Lessman is phenomenal at creating chemistry that boils over, passionate desires, raw emotions, and human flaws that make for one of the most realistic, beautiful, gripping Christian fiction books I've ever read!
Julie Lessman shows us painful, truly painful, pasts that don't hesitate in showing the darker times of life, the bad choices and mistakes that are of an entirely human nature and the guilt and shame that can haunt us - all the while illuminating the hope that comes from God alone, showing His grace, love, and power in an understated yet meaningful way.
I do believe that those of you bibliophiles who may not ordinarily read inspirational historical fiction might want to give this one a shot. It is sweepingly romantic and touching - and despite the fact that the Christian faith of the characters gives more depth to the Christian reader, I believe that whether or not you're a believer you'll find A Heart Revealed to be a lovely, exquisite panorama of a novel.
I know I did. And I can't wait for another installment in the series. The sooner the better!
*Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
*I received a copy of A Heart Revealed from the Baker Publishing Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.