Hello, reader friends! I’m delighted to share my thoughts on the second installment of the Isle of Hope series, Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman. Y’all are in for a real treat today, make sure you scroll all the way down so you don’t miss anything!!! In addition to reading my humble opinion of the featured title
and learning a bit about the author, you have the opportunity to: Read the first chapter for yourself, Enter the giveaway for your chance to win an ebook from the Isle of Hope series, Pick up the FREE novella prequel, and Hop over to the other wonderful book blogs on the tour!!! I love it, Julie Lessman sure knows how to throw a party! We might even have a special guest drop by in the comments!
about the book
Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman (Isle of Hope book 2)
Genre: Christian, Romance
Publisher: Julie Lessman, LLC
Publication date: September 30, 2016
Number of pages: 307
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 young child, 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?
I adore this series! Julie doesn’t shy away from authentic, messy circumstances and characters and her enthusiasm for life always shines through her stories. I can’t say it enough, I love this family drama storytelling from multiple perspectives.
Shannon is the genuine kind of person I’d love to have as a friend. She’s quiet and compassionate yet athletic and even feisty when necessary. Shannon has learned the hard way to steer clear of handsome, charming men. Yet, what’s a girl to do when the abandoned little boy beneath the surface tugs on her heartstrings and begs for her friendship? Oh and let’s not forget the fiercely protective older brother factor. Yes, indeed! Things get mighty interesting!
Sam may have earned his Dr. Love reputation by sailing through broken hearts but he has a lot to learn about true love. He’s convinced that Shannon is the one who holds the answers to all his relationship woes. I completely enjoyed the drama and tension surrounding the progression of Sam and Shannon’s relationship. It’s great to catch up with all our friends from the first books in the series and watch the subtle changes as Sam evolves for the sake of love.
I requested the opportunity to read and review Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman through Singing Librarian Books Tours. The opinions expressed are my own.
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 Lessman was named American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered 17 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 most recent novel, Isle of Hope was voted on Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, and Surprised by Love appeared on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top Ten Novels 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 on her website.
Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman excerpt
Isle of Hope, Georgia, Early Summer
“Okay, smile pretty—hot guys at three o’clock.”
Shannon O’Bryen smiled, more because of her friend Margo’s mumbled man alert than the need to charm any “hot guy.” She shook her head when Margo tugged the neckline of her sequin halter dress a bit lower before casually skimming a pinky along the rim of her Diet Dr. Pepper. When her friend chatted nonchalantly about a book she’d just discussed with Shannon, Cat, Amy, and Becky not five minutes ago, Shannon grinned outright. But when Margo’s finger slid from the rim into her soda, Shannon could do nothing but giggle. The sound set off a chain reaction of laughter around a table in the middle of a fancy fundraiser for Memorial Hospital at Mansion on Forsyth Park.
Peeking over her shoulder, Shannon expelled a sigh of relief, grateful the “hot guys” were only her brother Jack and his coworker, Sam Cunningham. Because although each of the girls around the table were looking for Mr. Right, Shannon was definitely not one of them–despite the slinky blue dress and four-inch heels her twin sister Cat had coerced her to wear. Nope, she preferred her Prince Charming confined between the covers of a book, thank you very much, where he couldn’t stomp on her heart.
“Well, one viable ‘hot guy,’ anyway,” Shannon’s twin sister Cat said with a lazy smile. A breeze fluttered her long strawberry blonde hair, the salty scent of the marsh mingling with the hint of chlorine from the marble fountain in Savannah’s historical Forsythe Park. Cat swayed to the music of a five-piece orchestra while Spanish moss swayed in the canopy of oaks overhead, the mischief in her eyes sparkling as much as the water dancing into the fountain. “My brother Jack is taken, but his pediatrician friend–Dr. Sam Cunningham—is still very available.”
“And very, very attractive,” Amy whispered, swallowing hard while Margo just stared with saucer eyes, sucking Dr. Pepper off her finger.
Margo gulped and quickly averted her gaze. “Uh … I think you dropped a ‘very,’” she muttered, secretly tracking Jack and Sam as they wove their way through a glittering sea of people and tables in the candlelit promenade. “Far as I’m concerned, that guy just broke the hot scale, because he’s way more than attractive.”
Too attractive. Shannon watched as Sam flirted with every girl he could on the way to their table, Jack’s warning that Sam was a “player” resonating deep in Shannon’s soul. No matter the boyish twinkle in brown eyes that made every girl feel special or a crooked smile always tipped with tease, Shannon knew better. She had no doubt that beneath that magnetic façade was a man whose good looks and lust for women spelled doom for any girl sucked into his orbit—whirling them in a lovelorn spin that only made them dizzy.
And so sick that avoidance was the only cure.
“Heeeeeey, ladies, I’m in dire need of a dance partner, so who’s willing to help me out?” Dr. Sam Cunningham ambled forward with hands in the pockets of his tux, his shirt and tie as disheveled as the dark curls that spilled over his forehead. Which was a total rarity for the man who was usually a walking photo shoot for a Gucci cologne ad, always dressed to the nines like a GQ model with a wardrobe to match.
“You’re in dire need, all right,” Jack said with a slant of a smile, his eyes far more sober than Sam appeared to be, “of a lift home.” Looping an arm around Sam’s shoulder, he zeroed in on Shannon. “Shan, would you mind driving Sam home? I’m up soon on the podium for some announcements, so I can’t take him right now, and he’s pretty hammered. He’s feeling no pain, but I’ll tell you what—his bar tab will give him sticker shock on his next credit card statement.”
Shannon blinked, stomach roiling over going anywhere with Sam Cunningham. “Uh … sure, Jack, but wouldn’t a cab be better?”
“I don’t wanna go home,” Sam interrupted, a faint slur of his words a perfect complement to the glassy look in his eyes. “I wanna dance.” Pausing as if he just realized he hadn’t introduced himself, he dazzled the girls with his trademark smile, complete with a flash of dimples. “Please forgive me, ladies, but I’m Sam Cunningham, and I am hoping one of you might consider dancing with me.” In true Cunningham style—at least according to Jack, who claimed Sam had a genuine soft spot for wallflowers and underdogs—he turned his famous bedroom eyes on the least likely girl at the table, who seldom garnered the attention of men.
Becky Dempsey was a brilliant mathematician who, unfortunately, looked like one too. Unable to wear contacts, sweet Becky was relegated to thick tortoise-shell eyeglasses that magnified her eyes so much, her pupils were as big as eyeballs. At six foot, she wore her brown hair in a short permed bob that matched her mother’s and sported a host of allergies, not the least of which was to makeup and most food. As a result, she had a gangly frame, which did, fortunately, show off clothes to good advantage.
If they weren’t from her mother’s closet.
Sam awarded Becky a truly genuine smile. “How ’bout you, Miss …?”
“Ohhhhhh, no you don’t, Ham,” Jack said with a latch of Sam’s arm, employing the nickname Sam had earned in residency because of his outrageous flirting and show-off tendencies. “Sweet Becky here doesn’t need her feet mauled tonight, so let’s get you home.”
Sam jerked free of Jack’s hold with amazing dexterity for someone swaying on his feet. “I told you, I don’ wanna go home, O’Bryen. I wanna dance.”
“Yeah, well you can dance your way to Shan’s car, dude, because you’re in no shape to do anything but crash.”
“I’ll drive him home,” Cat offered with a look way too eager, jumping up so fast, she jolted the table and everyone’s drinks along with it. She wriggled her brows at Sam while she reached for her purse. “I’ve been wanting to get to know you better anyway, Dr. Cunningham.”
“Soun’s like a plan to me,” Sam said with a wayward grin. “Jack’s been waaaaay too possessive of you girls, if you ask me.” He gave Cat a slow wink. “Forbidden fruit, I suppose.”
“In your dreams, Dr. Love.” Jack flashed Cat a wry smile, resorting to his role of annoying big brother that Cat always accused him of. Sorry, Catfish, but that would be the blind leading the blind, so I’ll stick with the sober and sensible twin.” He homed in on Shannon once again, the plea in his eyes weakening her defenses. “Shan, I really hate to ask, but I don’t trust Sam in a cab because he’ll just go to a club and drink some more.”
“What are you, O’Bryen, my mother?” Sam scowled, and even that looked good on him.
Shannon chewed on her lip, not sure why Jack would put her in a situation like this with a Romeo he’d warned both Cat and her about.
“Come on, Cat, let’s dance …” Sam extended his hand to her sister, practically tripping on the leg of a chair when he rounded the table.
Ignoring Sam’s comment, Jack bent close to Shannon’s ear, kneading her shoulder in a coaxing manner. “Normally I wouldn’t let Sam within a mile of either you or Cat, sis, but he’s hurtin’ pretty badly because Jazz showed up with another guy.” Jack glanced toward the dance floor to where Jasmine Augustine—a nurse at Memorial who was both his and Sam’s ex-girlfriend—laughed and danced with some good-looking guy. “So I don’t trust him to go straight home. Nor do I trust him with any female in this room but you, Shan.” His smile was laced with apology, reminding Shannon of another conversation in Jack’s office once, after she and Cat had met Sam for the first time.
“Sam and I are good friends, guys, but you two need to steer clear,” Jack’d told them after Sam had left, his voice lowering to a mere whisper. He’d zeroed in on Cat, then, with that warning squint in his eyes. “Especially you, Catfish, because he’s not like other players I know, only out for themselves. Deep down Sam’s a pretty decent guy who actually cares about people, so I don’t think he’s really looking to hurt anybody.” His mouth took a twist. “Unfortunately he does—a lot—because he’s got this innate kindness and sensitivity that disarms most women, setting them up for the fall when he moves on.” Jack had seared them both with a big-brother stare. “And trust me—he always does.”
The fall. Shannon swallowed hard. Yes, I remember it well …
Jack’s heavy expulsion of air ruffled Shannon’s hair, bringing her back to the present where Sam was flirting with Cat. He shook his head. “I swear, the clown is so lousy with bone-deep charisma, Shan, he can charm the spots off a kid with measles, which makes him all the more dangerous.” He gave Shannon’s shoulder a quick squeeze, fixing her with a look of regret. “So I need someone mature and levelheaded, sis, with an immunity to players, and the only one I know is you.”
Shannon sighed. Ah yes, my immunity to players. I’ve definitely been inoculated by the best. “All right, Jack.” She tossed her purse strap over her shoulder and rose with another heavy exhale of air. Pushing her chair in, she gave him a twist of a smile. “But you owe me, big brother.”
“And then some,” Jack said with a kiss to her head. He tucked a finger to her chin. “And don’t let him bamboozle you. The man has a masters in roguery, so it might be good to lend him an ear, but nothing else.” He tugged on her hair. “His address is 665 Parkway, Apt. B, and he keeps a key under one of the potted palms by his front door.”
Her smile slid off-center. “The operative word being ‘potted,’” she said with more sarcasm than normal.
He grinned. “I have his car keys, so Lacey and I will drive his Corvette home later, okay? Just get him inside and make sure he stays.”
Shannon’s mouth went flat. “You want me to tuck him in too?”
Jack chuckled. “Might be a nice touch, but not necessary.” He leveled a finger at her with a mock glare. “I don’t want you within twenty feet of his bedroom, young lady, you got that?” He winked. “I’m trusting you, Shan.”
“Glad one of us does,” she mumbled, shoulders slumping when she saw Sam dipping Cat in a dance move next to the table, almost dropping her.
“Okay, come on, Twinkletoes.” Jack pulled Sam away from Cat to hook an arm over his shoulder, carefully guiding him down the wide, tree-lined walkway dotted with tables. He tossed Cat a warning glare over his shoulder. “And if I ever see you dancing with this joker again, Catfish, I’m going to toss you into the river, you got it? He’s off-limits to you and Shan because he’s dangerous to women’s health.”
“Yeah?” Sam mumbled, stumbling along beside Jack, “then how come it’s my health that took the hit this time?”
“Have fun, you lucky duck,” Margo called as Shannon led Jack and Sam to where she had parked her car. “Sure wish it were me.”
“Me too,” Shannon muttered, wondering if she could talk Jack into putting Sam in the trunk.
“Jack, I’m fine, I swear.” Sam’s argument sounded convincing enough except for a near miss with a chair, and Shannon couldn’t help the ghost of a smile when her brother gave him a Gibbs smack to the back of the head. She could have kissed Jack after he dumped Sam into the back seat of the car instead of the front. Especially after a slight detour where Dr. Love puked on the parking lot, necessitating quick cleanup with wet wipes from the glove compartment.
Facedown on the upholstery, Sam ground out a low groan that coaxed another smile to Shannon’s lips. “I think I’m gonna die …” he muttered. His voice was no more than a rasp as he lay prostrate across the back seat of her mother’s 1999 Chevy Impala, his bristled jaw flat against her beige upholstery.
“No you won’t, Ham,” Jack said with a degree of sympathy. “You just need to get past this obsession with Jasmine and move on with your life, man. There are other fish in the sea.”
A hiccough interrupted Sam’s moan. “I don’ want fish. I want her. She’s one in a million.”
“Yeah, and so’s the headache you’re gonna have come morning, bro, if you don’t get some decent sleep.” He shoved the rest of Sam’s legs into the car and slammed the door, opening the passenger side to offer Shannon a penitent smile. “I can’t thank you enough, Shan. Jazz dumped him for some new intern, and it’s been a rough week for him, you know?”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” she whispered, her heart aching for him despite his inebriated state. “Is there anything else I can do to help cheer him up?”
“Yeah, you can pray for him, and maybe even share some of that wisdom you’re so famous for. Never seen Ham this down before, and it has me a little worried, you know?”
“Sure, Jack.” She peeked into the back seat where snores could be heard while drool puddled on the upholstery. “I feel bad for the poor guy.”
Jack grinned. “I knew you would because you have an oversized heart of gold, kiddo, but not too much, okay? Ham has been known to take advantage of the kindness of strangers.”
A grin tugged at Shannon’s lips as she glanced over her shoulder. “Doesn’t look like he could take advantage of much of anything right now.” She wrinkled her nose. “Except Mom’s car seat.”
“Yeah, well that’s when he’s at his most dangerous, I’m afraid, catching women off-guard with his little-boy charm. So unconscious or not, keep your distance, okay?”
She started the car with its customary sputter and growl, shifting into gear as she slid Jack a wry smile. “Distance would be a cab, Jack, but I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Good girl.” With two firm taps of her roof, Jack closed the door, hands in his pockets as he watched her drive away.
A snort sounded from the back seat, and Shannon had no choice but to smile. A cab, definitely.
In another state.
Isle of Hope series
Y’all are going to want to give Julie a big ol’ hug because she is choosing a winner for each blog stop on the tour (see schedule below)! That’s 13 winners of an e-copy of Isle of Hope OR Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman!
PLUS, everyone gets a FREE e-copy of A Glimmer of Hope!!!
Be sure to add Love Everlasting by Julie Lessman to your tbr!