If you’re already a fan of romance novels, then Julie Lesman will be a familiar name.

She’s won 14 iRomance Writers of America Awards and her The Daughters of Boston and the Winds of Change series have both been best sellers. She knows how to weave a classic romance story into a historical setting in a way that is as exciting as any writer working in the genre.

But Lesman’s books also offer a bit more than just a light-hearted romantic getaway. Her tagline is “Passion with a Purpose” and each of her books also explores God and forgiveness and the struggle to find hope and faith in a sometimes difficult world.

Dare to Love Again is the story of Allison McClare, a spunky schoolteacher set in San Francisco’s gilded age. McClare has a comfortable life, but finds herself drawn to the city’s more dangerous Barbary Coast. She meets hard-boiled detective Nick Barone and each time they meet their chemistry becomes stronger. At first it’s just a casual friendship but it quickly develops into something more. But is it real? Does it have the moral underpinning to last?

But Allison’s faith in Nick is shattered when he suddenly leaves town and she discovers that he’s been lying to her. He seems to be no different than any of the other men she’s met and that realization shatters her belief in him and their possible life together. Can she really trust him? She wants to love him, needs him to be honest with her but she increasingly finds it difficult to trust him.

This is the second book in a planned The Heart of San Francisco series, so going in you know that not every part of Allison’s story is going to be wrapped up nice and tight. But the chemistry between Allison and Nick is palatable and their banter back-and-forth manages to nicely walk that line between flirty and sexy.

One of Lesman’s talents is the ability to write characters so real that they come to life on the page and this story of Allison and her adventures in San Francisco is no different. The book provides the reader with a great look at what it was like living in the Bay Area a hundred years ago and Lesman manages to sneak in a lot of interesting little historical tidbits without the reader noticing that they’re learning anything.

A romance series like this one isn’t for everyone. But it’s a genre that is often under-appreciated by critics and it’s easy to imagine that Julie Lesman could be a success no matter what genre she attempted.

Whether you’re already familiar with her other books or if you’re just picking one of her books for the first time, you’ll appreciate the talent of a writer who is rightfully one of the most popular Romance fiction authors. Not everyone can have this kind of exciting romantic life. But everyone can read about one and thanks to books like this, you’ll have a great time while you do it.

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