It’s summertime in 1903 San Francisco and tempers are running even hotter than the temperature. Socialite Allison McClare – along with her mother and cousin – is opening the Hand of Hope School in the Barbary Coast area of the city. Their school is situated next to the Mercy House Orphanage, run by the delightful Miss Penny Peel.
However, “little Miss Independent” Allison gets off to a hot and rocky start when she meets Miss Penny’s boarder, Nick Barone, a 30-year-old plains clothes detective. Everything they say to each other is taken the wrong way, which leads to one verbal (and sometimes physical) battle after another.
Allison and Nick just can’t find a way to speak civilly to each other, until one night when she is attacked trying to go home. The concern Nick shows her makes her realize he is just “a very frank person who hates to see people so oblivious to him.” She regrets her oblivion and stubbornness at not wanting to accept advice and help from him. They are then thrown together as her influential uncle, Logan, hires Nick to protect Allison, as well as to act as a handyman for the school.
Lessman’s writing brings out several delightful characters that add humor to the chilly relationship between Nick and Allison. Miss Penny is full of moxie and is the calm during many stormy conversations. Little Lottie LeRoy, a resident at the orphanage with a heart of gold and a hilarious vocabulary including “just swell” and “holy moly” and “yesiree, Bob,” is never afraid to speak the truth as she sees it. A handful of relatives and relatives-to-be offer tender moments of love and kinship.
I found the conversations of Lessman’s characters superb. The adorable banter of Lottie will make you chuckle. And the chemistry-laced dialogue between Allison and Nick is hilarious and condemning and yet, at times, incredibly touching.
“Dare to Love Again” teaches a great lesson to put down our barriers and to trust people; to eliminate preconceived notions we might have of each other and to put aside our assumptions. It also encourages us, as her characters each learn, to overcome whatever is holding us back in our lives, but that can only come through turning to God.
Five stars out of five.
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.