Y’all are in for such a treat today!!! I was completely starstruck and speechless when I met Julie Lessman, today’s featured author, at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat back in August.
It was a fangirl’s dream… but it’s still a bit of a shock when one of your favorite authors of all time recognizes YOU!!!
Anyway, y’all are going to love her just as much as I do and she has all kinds of fun for us!
About the Author
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.
Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and Heart of San Francisco series, Julie was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also named on Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction list.
Julie’s novel, Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love was voted on Family Fiction magazine’s Top 15 Novels of 2015, and Surprised by Love appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2014. Her independent novel A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. You can contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books.
Julie: A favorite five? Welllllll, we both know what those are going to be, right?
Beth: Yes, ma’am… Let me grab my fan!
Julie: Here are five of my favorite kisses I’ve written in no particular order. My top two favorite kisses can be found on my website in their entirety HERE.
1. This is the first kiss in my prequel novella, For Love of Liberty, which will kick off the Silver Lining Ranch series I’m currently writing. Think Bonanza meets McClintock. I like this clip because it reminds me of a Mary Connealy love scene, where the no-nonsense hero grabs the heroine to shut her up with a kiss:
For Love of Liberty by Julie Lessman excerpt
“Okay, Liberty Bell, I’m going to ask you one more time, real nice and civil-like …” He peered up beneath hooded eyes, a near smile on his face. “Will you please move out of my way?”
“Nope.” She smiled and shook her head, as if quite confident he was on the thaw. She clutched her hands behind her back like a little girl about to misbehave, green eyes issuing a dare. “And you can’t make me.”
He sighed. Poor, misguided little rich girl. “Yeah?” He pushed the brim of his hat up. “Watch me.” Hurling his satchel to the floor, he heard the catch of her breath when he struck like lightning with an arm to her waist, jerking her close to kiss the daylights out of her while her boots dangled in the air.
Unfortunately, the moment he tasted those soft lips parted in surprise, he was struck by a little lightning of her own, electrifying every nerve in his body while his blood simmered to a dangerous boil. When a soft telltale mew escaped her throat, he was helpless to contain the low moan that rose from deep in his belly.
Butting her to the door, he cradled her face in his hands, longing surging through his bloodstream as he claimed the sweetest lips he’d ever known—and he’d known plenty—completely disarmed by the scent of her skin, the soft flesh of her ear. Sure, he’d dreamed of kissing Liberty O’Shea for as long as could remember, but he never expected this—a kiss that could surely tame his taste for all other woman.
The very thought bucked like a thorn-saddled bull, and with a rush of ice water through his veins, he dropped her to the floor like he’d been bit by a rattler. She teetered precariously—along with his heart—eyes glazed and mouth still open in shock. Mustering all the calm he owned—which was a mite low at the moment—he yanked his hat down low and reached for the knob. She bolted away so fast, Finn had to stifle a chuckle, tossing her a wink as he opened the door. “Told you.”
Beth: Finn, you ornery varmint! *giggle* Oh boy, Julie! He sounds like a keeper to me!
2. In A Passion Most Pure, the second hero, Mitch Dennehy, has been a perfect gentleman with the heroine, Faith O’Connor, until he discovers she still has feelings for another man, which he attempts to dispel with a heated kiss. I like this kiss because the hero stakes his claim with it, issuing a warning.
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman excerpt
“I’ll see you Monday,” she whispered, pushing the door ajar.
Something inside had compelled him to pull her close. “No, you’ll see me tonight, in your dreams, and that’s an order. But just to make sure . . . ”
Never would he forget the look—eyes blinking wide as he dragged her to him, her soft lips parting in surprise as his mouth took hers with a hunger long suppressed. His hands wandered her back, urging her close while his lips roamed the curve of her neck, returning to reclaim her mouth with a fervor. For one brief, glorious moment, the terms were his, and by thunder, she would feel the heat of his kiss in her bones.
In a raspy gulp of air, she lunged back. “I can’t believe you did that!” she gasped.
“Believe it,” he quipped, his tone nonchalant.
“But, why? After what I told you tonight, why would you do that?”
“Why? Let’s just call it a bit of insurance.”
“Insurance. If the woman I love is going to have memories of passion, it’s going to be with me, not him.”
“I don’t entertain memories of passion.” Her voice was edged with anger.
“You will tonight,” he said. And turning on his heel, he left her—hopefully with a warmth that defied the coolness of the night.
Beth: *briskly fanning* No doubt about it, Mitch and Charity bring the heat!
3. I absolutely love this sweet kiss from A Love Surrendered, probably because I don’t write many of them, so it’s unique. 😉 The heroine’s five-year-old sister, Glory, has just given the hero a sweet peck on the lips after he drove her and her sister, Annie, home.
A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman excerpt
He blinked, noting the expanse of Annie’s eyes.
“Glory, no—” she whispered, turning ten kinds of pale.
“Please?” The little troublemaker stared at him with those wide eyes of an angel.
Heart thudding, he did the only thing he knew to do—he kissed Annie right on the tip of her nose. Clearing his throat, he stepped back. “Well, good-night, ladies.”
“No, silly,” Glory said, “like this . . .” She demonstrated with a sweet little peck on her sister’s lips as if he were too stupid to understand, then tilted her head. “See? It’s easy.”
Too easy, he thought with a trip of his pulse. Way, way too easy . . .
“Stop it, Glory, Steven doesn’t want to—”
“Sure I do,” he whispered, his words shocking him as much as Annie. Gaze holding hers, he slowly leaned in, close enough to see the long sweep of her lashes, the pale gold in eyes so green, he felt like he was in Oz, about to be granted a wish. He heard the soft hitch of her breath when she stopped breathing because it coincided with the halt of air in his own lungs. Cupping her face in his hand, his eyelids sheathed closed at the touch of her lips—soft, supple and just a hint of peppermint from the candy she’d offered him in the car. It was meant to be no more than a peck like Glory had given him, but somehow his mouth wanted to linger and explore . . . He stepped in close, body grazing hers and Glory’s till they were one. A little-girl giggle broke the trance, and Annie’s lips curved beneath his.
“His whiskers are itchy, aren’t they, Annie?” Glory asked, patting his face once again. “Kinda makes you wiggly all over, doesn’t it?”
Annie’s eyes glowed as she caressed her own cheek. “Very wiggly,” she whispered.
Beth: There are only a few of your books that I haven’t had a chance to read yet. This is one of them… but not for long!
4. This is the first kiss between my older secondary hero in Isle of Hope, Ben Carmichael, after he realizes he’s falling in love with the secondary heroine, Tess, his perky friend and neighbor. I guess I like it because I just love the chemistry between Ben, the lovable grouch next door, and Tess, his adorably sweet and bubbly neighbor who is appalled to discover she’s falling for him too.
Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman excerpt
“Don’t go,” he whispered, caging her in, the smoky look in his eyes all but welding her to the spot. “I might be willing to negotiate, Tess …”
Her heart battered her ribs. “Yeah? Well, I’m no—” The gentle brush of his mouth against hers stalled the words in her throat, robbing her of both reason and resistance when his kiss intensified. Liquid fire coursed through her body at the rush of feelings she hadn’t felt in such a very long time. She wanted to push him away, but her insides melted into submission, rendering all resolve as limp as her legs.
“So help me, I want you, Tess,” he said, his voice hoarse as he cupped her face in his hands. Hungry lips lured her eyelids closed when they locked a moan deep in her throat. Her breathing was as ragged as his when he moved in close, melding his body to hers.
Beth: That’s one of my favorite things about your style, there’s always plenty of attraction to go around!
5. Call me crazy, but a single phrase can be one of the main reasons I love some kissing scenes, such as in the scene below from A Passion Denied, with the phrase “gentle mating.”
A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman excerpt
The rhythm of his pulse quickened and he swallowed hard, like a child about to taste his first candy after a long season of Lent. His lips parted as his gaze fixed on her mouth, and a heat he’d denied far too long radiated through him like an August sun on a mile of blacktop. In slow motion, he reeled her into his arms, ignoring the stiffness of her body. He bent his head until his mouth hovered over hers. “Nothing I can do? Oh, but there is, Beth,” he whispered, studying her lips through hooded eyes. Her mouth parted in shock when his lips grazed hers, and he could smell the sweet scent of mint on her breath. An aching moan rumbled low in his throat, and he took her again, molding his mouth with a need that shook him.
He felt her tension melt beneath his touch and he deepened the kiss, heady with the taste of her. His lips wandered to explore the curve of her jaw and then the softness of her throat, losing himself in the scent of lilacs and innocence and Beth. A soft moan left her lips, and it undid him, luring him back with a fervor that consumed him.
She jerked away, a hand to her mouth while tears swelled in her eyes. “Oh, Brady, do you mean it?”
He caressed the side of her face with his palm, then feathered the corner of her lip with his thumb, the intensity of his gaze all but swallowing her whole. “What do you think, Elizabeth?” he whispered. With a telling smile, he leaned in and closed his eyes, nuzzling her mouth in a gentle mating that purled through him like warm honey.
And your readers can find even more kisses on the Kisses, Kisses, Kisses tab of my website.
Beth: *frantically fanning* Whew! Let’s cool things down just a bit and turn our attention to books…
Tell us a little bit about your latest book release and then your latest series.
Julie: My latest “Christmas” release is “Last Chance Christmas,” part of Gilead Publishing’s Cowboy Christmas Homecoming historical collection that includes novellas by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, and Anna Schmidt.
Last Chance Christmas by Julie Lessman
A Cowboy Christmas Homecoming novella
Accidents Happen and Then There’s Grace …
Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny, ex-saloon girl Grace O’Malley. She’s dyed his long johns pink, taught his daughters poker, and scorched both his food and his kitchen—pert near torching his home. But he’s desperate, and she’s as destitute as they come.
Beth: I enjoyed this collection! Y’all can check out blurbs for all four novellas and my reviews here.
Julie: Then my latest series is a contemporary called Isle of Hope, and book 1 is Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love, which is a double love story loosely based on my own dysfunctional relationship with my estranged father.
I’m happy to say that Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love is an award-winning five-star novel that made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015 AND just happens to be ON SALE FOR ONLY 99 CENTS (almost 90% off!) until 12/16, so readers can download it HERE. Here’s the jacket blurb:
Can a wild girl gone good rebuild bridges with a good boy gone bad?
She’s the girlfriend serving up temptation. He’s the pastor’s kid bent on serving God. Till tragedy separates them for eight long years. Now she’s a woman of faith, back to make amends to the father she defied, the boyfriend she deserted, and the best friend she betrayed. But can a turning of tables—and hearts—lead the way back to “hope” for them all?
My latest release is book 2 in the Isle of Hope series, Love Everlasting, and also has a five-star rating on Amazon.
Here’s that blurb:
Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman
He sets hearts on fire.
She’s been burned by love.
Can hope survive the flames of the past?
School teacher by day, ghostwriter by night, sweet and shy Shannon O’Bryen doesn’t mind writing romance on the sly, but to live it? No, thank you, not since the man she loved turned out to be a player who broke both her heart and her spirit. Now focused more on her faith and her fiction, she vows the next time she falls in love, it will be safely—through the pages of a book.
Dr. Sam Cunningham is a charismatic player who breaks hearts as regularly as he washes his pearl-white Corvette. Abandoned as a baby, Sam was an orphan shuffled through the foster-care system, bitterly driven to prove he is worthy of love—the kind that lasts forever. Once he learns Shannon is a romance writer, he enlists her help in winning back his ex-girlfriend. She teaches him about faith and the true definition of love, and he soon discovers he’s been seeking it in the wrong place all along—and with the wrong girl. But can he convince a woman who’s been burned by love to open her eyes—and her heart—to a love everlasting?
What are you working on now?
Julie: Right now I am writing book 1 in the Western trilogy mentioned above, tentatively titled The Silver Lining Ranch series. This will be a lighthearted Western series set in Virginia City, Nevada in the late 1800s, a la the old TV show, Bonanza.
It’s the fun and family-oriented story of two suffragists from New York, a godmother and her goddaughter, who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers and their family in Virginia City, Nevada in the late 1800s. This is the “Wild West,” so think “Bonanza meets McClintock” with lots of fireworks going on between two couples during the fascinating era of the transcontinental railroad and the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built. Here’s the blurb for book 1:
Love’s Silver Lining by Julie Lessman excerpt
A Match Made in Heaven? Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?
She’s stubborn, educated, and looking to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other a piece of their hearts.
Beth: Julie, thank you for sharing some of your favorite kisses and taking the time to give us a little peek at what you’ve been working on! *whispers* Eeeep! Julie Lessman!
Julie: Beth—thank you SO much for hosting me on your blog—it’s been fun! I love to hear from readers, so they can find and contact me at www.julielessman.com, or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest or by signing up for my newsletter or my Journal Jots blog.
I am also part of a group blog called Seekerville that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond. Although Seekerville has been listed on Writers Digest 2013, 2014, and 2015 “Best 101 Websites for Writers,” it is also a blog devoted to readers as well.
Oh, and readers can also check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website.
FREE download for the novella
prequel of Isle of Hope!
YES, there IS a prequel to my latest series, Isle of Hope, and it’s called A Glimmer of Hope, so take advantage of this free e-book HERE!
Beth: Snatch up that novella! Hop over to read my review!
Check out the December issue for great articles, great books, and great recipes from your favorite authors, including my original, award-winning dessert recipe where I combined four of my favorite desserts!
Julie Lessman has graciously offered to give one fortunate reader a paperback or ebook copy of Isle of Hope or Love Everlasting!
Enter via the Rafflecopter form below!
So bookish friends, let’s talk fictional kisses!!! Which of Julie Lessman’s 5 favorite kisses did you like best?
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