WELCOME TO MY

JOURN+AL JOTS BLOG ...

A journal where you can learn what I'm up to on my books, giveaways, fun things I'm doing or even my own personal devotional for the day. It's a broad mix of what's on my mind, allowing me to feel a little bit closer to some of the most important people in my life -- YOU! So please stop by from time to time, and if you have questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you via the "Contact Julie" tab or via my Facebook page.  Hugs, Julie

 

4:21AM

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 

Check out my latest Facebook Live

BELOW, recorded Friday, 8/18/17!

 

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts

unto your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven

give good things to them that ask him?

— Matthew 7:11

I believe this, I do. And I've seen it first-hand, the good gifts God has given me.

—A marriage with a man I adore.

—A family I'm crazy about.

—A career that blesses me to no end.

—A circle of friends (including you!) who bring joy to my life.

But I will admit there are times for all of us when we ask God for something that doesn't come to pass.

Like my cataract surgery that did not go well. Oh I prayed about it plenty, trust me, as did my prayer partners and family, but for whatever reason, the 20/20 eyesight I had hoped for didn't happen. Instead, I could barely read the first line of the eye chart.

So I prayed for healing, as did so many family and friends on my behalf, but that didn't happen either. It took six months for me to even find a contact that would correct my eyesight.

But I finally did. And now my vision is almost better than 20/20.

Just this morning on the treadmill while bellowing to worship music (it can hardly be called "singing" according to my daughter and husband!), it suddenly came to me. God doesn't always give us the things we ask for, but He always fixes it in the end. Kind of a roundabout answer to prayer, if you will, but an answer to prayer nonetheless. And one that makes me sooooooo incredibly grateful that I now can see so well after being deprived for so long. A true heart of gratitude that might not have been as deep as the gratitude I now have had He healed me outright. And one thing I've definitely learned, gratitude helps me to experience far more joy in my life than any 20/20 vision.

Coincidentally enough, this is a lesson that Charity O'Connor Dennehy learns all too well in my upcoming O'Connor Christmas novella, A Whisper of Hope, due out in e-book September 1st, along with Lizzie & Brady's Christmas novella, The Best Gift of All, a Blake "The Rake" McClare novella, Grace Like Rain, and finally, my Frontier Christmas novella, The Gift of Grace.

So, I thought it might be fun to give you a sneak peek of each of these novellas in the next two weeks before they release. I already gave you the first chapter to Blake's love story, Grace Like Rain at the end of this blog HERE, so today I'm going to give you one of my favorite (and most romantic) scenes from A Whisper of Hope that I hope will catapult you right back into the O'Connor family like it did for me.

This is a scene where Mitch suspects Charity has been pining over babies at the St. Mary's Home for Unwed Mothers, something he asked her not to do. After ten years of trying for more children, he suspects God figured their wild twin Henry was more than enough to handle. And at sixteen years older than Charity, Mitch figured he was well beyond age for raising anymore infants. So he tries to cut Charity off at the pass whenever she brings up babies, including coercing it out of her when she has been sneaking visits to St. Mary's. This scene was actually part of a subplot in the last O'Connor nove, A Love Surrendered, but it was cut because the book was too long. Imagine that! ;) You'll find the excerpt at the bottom of this blog, so I hope you enjoy it!

 

Here's my latest Facebook Live

(RECORDED FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017, AT NOON CDT)

Gosh, I had SO much fun with my very first Facebook Live last week, that I did it again, so check it out below to see the winner of my Facebook Live video contest from last week for a $25 Amazon gift card and a character named after them in my next book! Leave a comment with a question for my next FB Live Q&A, and if I answer it live, YOU will win a book! Here's the link to today's Facebook Live Video, and it's a lot shorter than my last one, I promise!

 

Last-Minute Blog Giveaway!

Leave a comment for me on Splickety's Lightning Blog, and you'll be entered to win your choice of any of my indie e-books, including my latest release, His Steadfast Love PLUS a signed copy of the Splickety Magazine issue that has my alternate ending to Gone With the Wind!

Have a great weekend, and hope to see you both at the Splickety blog and for my FB Live at noon on Friday!

HUGS AND MORE HUGS!!

Julie

 

 

Grace Like Rain:

A Heart Of San Franciso Novella

Yes, it's true -- Blake "The Rake" McClare has found love in his own novella, so you won't want to miss this one because it's one of my faves. So much so, that I am including the first chapter down below, so do check it out. Here's the blurb:

He’s everybody’s lovable rogue.
She’s nobody’s fool
who hopes to steer clear.
Until a thunderstorm sinks them both
into a sea of love.

Blake “The Rake” McClare has a notorious reputation as a womanizer, which is why soft-spoken Patience Peabody carefully avoids the lovable rogue attorney at the law firm in which they both work.

Until a rare thunderstorm brings them together in a love soaked with the grace of God and a whole lot of lightning!

 PREORDER GRACE LIKE RAIN HERE!

 

A Whisper of Hope:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

Ahhhh ... Charity & Mitch ... two of my very faves, and now they have their very own Christmas novella that you will not want to miss.

I know that Mitch doesn't look a lot like his orginal cover picture on A Passion Redeemed, but it's incredibly difficult to find a historical-looking couple that actually resembles a prior cover, so I did the best I could, even though I realize the couple looks more modern than historical. But I do think the pose replicates the love Mitch has for Charity very nicely, especially after you read the story! ;)  Here's the blurb:

She’s desperate for a baby.
He’s desperate for an empty nest.
And love is desperate to surprise them both.

With a husband dead set against adoption, Charity O’Connor Dennehy has barely a whisper of hope for more children, but if hope doesn’t disappoint … will it be enough to find a precious bundle under her tree?

 PREORDER A WHISPER OF HOPE HERE!

 

The Best Gift of All:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

This is Lizzie and Brady's story because it was a subplot that was cut from A Love Surrendered, the final O'Connor book. Since it was already basically written, I used it instead of writing a Christmas novella for Faith & Collin and Katie & Luke. But rest assured that each year I plan to release another O'Connor Christmas novella until I have covered everyone in the family, including Marcy & Patrick! 

I have to say that this particular novella contains a very important life lesson I learned, so not only is it a good read, I hope, but it contains a powerful lesson as well. Here's the blurb:

 

  She longs to be the perfect mother.
He just longs for his wife.
Until they receive ... the best gift of all.

Everyone knows Lizzie and John Brady have the perfect marriage. But when Lizzie’s desire to be a good mother eclipses her desire for her husband, the honeymoon is definitely over. Can the spirit of Christmas heal their hearts when Lizzie gives John the best gift of all?

 PREORDER THE BEST GIFT OF ALL HERE!

 

The Gift of Grace:

A Frontier Christmas Novella

Although The Gift of Grace is basically a Christmas story, I didn't want the cover to be limited to only Christmas. And actually, since Grace almost burns down the hero's house on a number of occasions, I thought the flame-orange sky was somewhat fitting! ;) Here's the blurb:

She’s the Accident
to His Prayers …

Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny. She’s caught fire to the kitchen, dyed his long johns pink, and scorched nearly everything she cooks. But he’s desperate, and she’s a destitute ex-saloon girl.

Even though she’s no good with her hands, Grace sure has a way with her heart. She’s brought a warmth into Cole’s home, added color to his daughters’ lives, and broken down the wall he’s built up since his beloved wife died. But when Grace’s past threatens Cole’s family, she’s given one last chance to be home for Christmas . . . if she hasn’t burned it down yet.

 PREORDER THE GIFT OF GRACE HERE!

 

 

An Excerpt From A Whisper of Hope

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

“Mama, why do you have this?”

Mitch Dennehy glanced up from the newspaper in his lap, blood freezing in his brain when his ten-year-old daughter waggled a pacifier she’d just found in her mother’s purse. His gaze flicked from Hope’s innocent face to his wife’s guilty one, and he knew in one fractured heartbeat he had trouble on his hands.

“Oh,” Charity said, tone breathless as she snatched the offensive object from Hope’s hands. His fears were confirmed when she avoided his gaze with a telling blush. “Emma must have dropped Daniel’s binky in my purse by accident,” she explained, stowing it away so fast, Mitch might have imagined it if he didn’t know better.

But, God help him—he did.

One did not live with Charity O’Connor Dennehy for over a decade without learning to stay one step ahead out of sheer self-preservation. Mitch snapped the paper back up, the smile on his lips as stiff as his jaw. No, he learned early on that when one was possessed by such a woman, survival of the fittest became a way of life. It was essential to know every inflection in her voice, every nuance in her beautiful face, every action concocted by that diabolical mind. A mind that drove him crazy—both with frustration and desire. His father-in-law Patrick O’Connor had once told him that Charity needed a firm hand coupled with a firm heart, and from the moment Mitch made her his wife, he purposed to do just that. Because no other woman had ever bewitched him like his wife, and he knew a tight rein was critical in maintaining peace and control in a marriage with a woman like her.

A tender-hearted temptress whose brain never shut down.

Bong. Bong. Bong. His heart thudded as loudly as the boom of the clock, echoing in their parlour like the thrill of adventure echoed in his mind over uncovering the secret she was obviously trying to hide. Yes, she was a handful and challenging and infused his life with more drama than any woman he’d ever known, but life with Charity was never boring, never dry, and an adventure to be relished. She was the most passionate woman he’d ever met, loving her family, her friends—him—with an intensity that took his breath away. She took his breath away—a blonde-haired beauty with a generous heart and a body to match, and Mitch never, ever took that for granted. His mouth twisted.

Or let his guard down.

“Hope, Henry, it’s time for bed,” Charity said, her tone decidedly edgier than usual. Glancing over his paper, Mitch kept his grin under wraps while he studied his wife, whose sky-blue eyes avoided his as if her secret were hidden inside.

His daughter Hope looked up, gentle blue eyes the exact shade of her mother’s. “Okay, Mama.” With a sweet, little yawn, she carefully arranged her doll’s blanket over their golden retriever, Runt, then hopped to her feet.

Unfortunately, not his son. “But I just started,” Henry pleaded, blue eyes as fierce as his twin sister’s were docile. “Can’t I have a little more time—please?

Charity laid her knitting needles aside. “Sorry, young man. You’re on borrowed time as it is after the stunt you pulled today. You best pack everything up or I’ll do it for you, and then you may never see them again.”

Henry’s gaze narrowed. “Why can’t you be like Stu Landon’s mom? She’s never mean.”

Mitch lowered his newspaper, his son’s face matching his to a scowl. “Henry, do as your mother says and no backtalk.” The edges of his mouth twitched. “And she is not mean … except to me.” He winked at his wife. “But then, I can handle it.”

Henry groused as he picked up his toys while Hope bent to give Mitch a kiss. “Good night, Daddy.” She pressed the lips of her doll to his mouth. “We love you.”

“Love you, too, princess.”

“G’night, Pop.” Henry’s tone was belligerent as he offered a half-hearted hug. In a sneak attack, Mitch reeled him in with a tickle of his hands, and Henry squirmed in laughter, his grumpy mood obviously waylaid. With lightening speed, Mitch followed with a quick, noisy kiss. “G’night, Henry,” he said in an equally belligerent voice, an exaggerated echo of his son’s.

Henry grinned and made his way up the stairs as Charity stashed knitting needles and yarn in her sewing box. She bent to give Mitch a quick kiss while her lips zagged into a droll smile. “Mean, huh? Well, you won’t have to worry about ‘handling’ it tonight, because I’m exhausted. I plan to tuck Hope and Henry in bed and head there myself.” With a ruffle of fingers through his curls that now sported far more silver than blonde, she turned to go, patting her thigh for Runt to follow.

Mitch grabbed her hand, concern etched in his face. “You okay? You seem distracted.” His brows dipped low. “You don’t have one of your headaches, do you?”

She shook her head with a telltale swipe of her tongue that gave her dead away. Clearly nervous, there was a time when she would have lied through her teeth, but thanks to her faith in God, her days of lying had ended at the altar—both when she’d given her heart to God and her wedding pledge to him. He watched as she chewed on her lip while he slowly grazed his thumb against the soft flesh of her palm, fully aware his touch tempted her as much as hers did him. Easing her hand free, she tried to distance herself, a blatant confirmation something was amiss when a needy woman such as Charity turned her husband away. “No, just tired,” she said, avoiding his eyes, “but you stay and read, please. I’ll probably nod right off.”

Putting the paper aside, he started to rise. “Nope, I’m coming up.” His palm slid down the side of her arm, fingers lingering and eyes, tender. “I can read upstairs.”

She faltered back, hand to her chest, and he quickly steadied her. “Charity, are you okay? You look flushed. Do you need me to carry you up?”

“No!” A blush gorged her cheeks. “I mean, no, of course not, Mitch. I’m fine, really, other than tired.” She warded him off with a hand to his chest, obviously hoping to get him to stay. “Besides, Hope wants to snuggle, so why don’t you just read a while, undisturbed. You don’t get to do that very often.”

He stroked a gentle hand along the curve of her jaw, a hint of worry in his tone that she might really be ill. “All right, take care of Hope, and I’ll be up soon, okay?” He leaned to tempt her with a languid kiss that heated his blood.

“Could be a while,” she whispered, swallowing hard, “so please take your time.”

He smiled and dropped back on the sofa with a soft whoosh, looking forward to coaxing the truth out of her in bed. “Don’t you dare fall asleep on me,” he warned, giving her a look that conveyed his intentions loud and clear.

She gave him a shaky smile and bolted from the room with Runt on her heels, obviously frantic to get upstairs and fall fast asleep. A faint smile shadowed his lips as he sank into the couch. But tonight is not the night, little girl. Between working late, bouts of the flu, and sheer exhaustion, they hadn’t made love in weeks, and Mitch was not a man to be deterred. The edge of his lip crooked. Nor was Charity a woman who could go without his affections for long.

He actually finished the entire paper, but it was a sad attempt at best. The print only blurred in his mind, thoughts of Charity invading without mercy. Gaze glued to a newspaper he didn’t really see, Mitch released a heavy sigh. No, something was definitely up, and he had a sinking suspicion it had to do with more babies.

It always did.

Somehow his wife had always envisioned a houseful of children, but it wasn’t to be, evidently, at least not with children of their own, a fact Charity had finally accepted—or so he thought. Until both Charity’s parents and Sean and Emma had to go and stir the pot by adopting last year. Suddenly Mitch was battling the threat of adoption at every turn, stomach clenching whenever he’d spotted that glint of longing in Charity’s eye. A dilemma that usually occurred after she’d visited the home for unwed mothers with Emma, where she and Sean had adopted Daniel last Christmas.

Tossing his paper aside, he lumbered to his feet, determined to squelch Charity’s plan for more babies once and for all. For pity’s sake, he was sixteen years older than his wife, which meant he might not even be around to provide for another baby, much less his eleven-year-old twins. Jaw grinding, he kneaded the left side of his chest, where he’d recently experienced pain whenever he worked out at the gym. Hope and Henry were only eleven—barely two years older than he’d been when his own father died—and although Charity was a wonderful mother, children needed a father. His mouth sloped off-center as he turned out the lights. Especially a son like Henry.

Locking the front door, Mitch thought of all the years Charity and he had been trying for more children to no avail, and now he was glad. The thought of another baby scared the living daylights out of him. He’d just be that much older, that much closer to dying and leaving them without a father like his father had done to him. For the love of family, if something were to happen to him now, Henry and Hope would already be well on their way, but a new baby? A familiar pain suddenly flared in his chest as a chill iced his spine. No! Glancing at his watch, he made a beeline for the stairs, scaling them as briskly as a man half his age. And confound it, he could keep up with the younger pups if it weren’t for this infernal cramp in his chest.

By now Charity should have both kids tucked into their beds, stories read, and prayers said before cuddling with Hope, one of the most precious times of her day. Avoiding the squeak of the middle step, Mitch quietly ascended, hoping he’d timed it just right. A smile skimmed his lips when he spied her hovering outside Hope’s door, easing it shut in her robe before she gingerly tiptoed toward their room at the end of the hall.

“Ah, perfect timing,” he said, grinning when she jerked around, hand to her chest as if she’d just sprinted a mile.

“Oh, sweet heavens, Mitch, you scared me half to death …”

Chuckling, he pulled her into his arms, butting her to the wall with a heated look in his eyes. “Sorry, little girl, but I can always revive you with mouth to mouth if need be—just give me the word.” He bent to nestle his lips to her neck with a low, aching moan. “Blue blazes, Charity, do you have any idea how long it’s been since I really held you in my arms?” She caught her breath when his mouth took hers with a vengeance, and sweeping her up, he strode down the hall into their bedroom, kicking the door closed behind him.

“Mitch, what are you doing?” Her voice was a raspy squeal beneath his wandering lips.

“Putting you to bed,” he whispered, tone husky while he untied the sash to her robe. Side-stepping Runt, he carefully laid her down and buried his lips in the crook of her neck, the scent of lilac water warming his blood. “I swear, Mrs. Dennehy, I love you more with every breath I take …”

“Wait!” Breathless, she halted him with two hands to his chest. “Did you remember to secure the latch? What if Hope or Henry were to come in?”

A growl rumbled from his throat as he jumped up and strode to the door. He locked it and turned, searing her with intent as he jerked off his tie, almost ripping it in two. His eyes all but devoured her as he moved toward the bed, fingers fumbling with the buttons of his shirt—

“Mitch—I didn’t lock the back door! Did you lock the back door?”

He froze, white oxford shirt half off, revealing corded arms still sore from the gym. His facial muscles all but cramped with pain. “For the love of mercy, Charity, I’ll lock it later.”

She sat up, sheet tugged high. “No, Mitch, please! I would worry, I just know it, and wouldn’t be able to relax. Please check the doors and hurry back.” She rubbed her jaw with a sheepish smile. “And do you mind shaving? Your beard feels like sandpaper.”

He groaned and unlocked the door.

She sat up higher. “Oh, and Hope wants you to kiss her good-night.”

He turned, lips as tight as his hand on the knob. “I did—downstairs.”

“I know, but she wants another.” She shrugged, her smile repentant before she stifled a yawn. “And I’m so tired, I think I may have forgotten Runt’s water—can you double-check?”

With an unhappy grunt, he heaved the door wide, brandishing a finger. “Don’t you dare fall asleep, do you hear?” He stormed out, feet bare and shirt flapping.

He checked doors and water bowl in record time, then ducked in to give both Henry and Hope a final kiss before reentering his bedroom. He paused, hand on the lock of the door. “Charity? Are you asleep?”

She stifled a groan. Oh, that I were! “Mmmm-no,” she muttered in a groggy voice, desperate to succumb to the safety of sleep rather than the affections of her husband. She uttered a silent prayer that her mind would doze, body sluggish and consciousness slipping away, hopefully to secure Emma’s secret for yet another day. He disappeared into their bathroom and left the door ajar, a sliver of light slicing across their bed like a blade of guilt. Exhaling, she willed herself to sleep, her mind fading to the sounds of running water.

The water stopped and Charity stiffened. She lay completely still, certain he’d hear the pounding of her pulse. Forcing her body to relax, she curled on her side, breathing even to mimic the rhythm of sleep. The bed shifted as Mitch crawled in and wrapped thick arms around the whole of her waist. He lifted her hair and kissed the back of her neck. “Charity,” he whispered, “are you awake?”

“Mmm …” She scrunched up, feigning sleep while Bay Rum tormented her senses.

“Oh!” Midway in a fake snore, the bedsprings squeaked when he flipped her on her back.

He hovered with a dangerous smile. “You want something awfully bad to pretend you’re sleep when I know you want me as much as I want you.”

She gulped, quickly covering with a yawn. “Actually, I’m just so tired, Mitch, I can hardly keep my eyes open.” She stroked his clean-shaven jaw “I’m sorry you went to the trouble of shaving, darling, but you do understand, don’t you?”

“Absolutely,” he whispered, taking his time at the hollow of her throat, kissing the soft dip in her neck where her blood throbbed beneath his mouth. Raspy air shuddered from her lips when he finally lifted his head, his lidded gaze heating her even more. “I understand that the pulse at the base of your neck is racing faster than mine, Charity, and that in almost twelve years of marriage, you have never turned me away unless you had an ulterior motive. He bent to slowly sway his mouth against hers, coercing with a gentle tug of her lip in a manner calculated to drive her insane. “So I suggest you just spit it out, little girl,” he said, his breath blowing warm in her ear, “because I will coax it out of you one way or another.”

“No, I really am tired, Mitch, I prom—”

He silenced her with his mouth when he kissed her so deeply, she could hardly contain the moan that ached in her throat. “Where’d you go today?” he whispered, nuzzling her neck till she thought she would faint.

“M-mother’s,” she said in a rush. “She’s been after Emma to bring Daniel to play.”

“Where else?” His lips meandered the length of her jaw.

“S-shopping with Emma,” she rasped, nearly melting when he suckled her ear.

“That’s it? Nowhere else?”

She jerked him close with a groan, kissing him hard in an effort to derail his thoughts.

He took over with a kiss that devoured her before he glanced up with a heated gaze that all but pinned her to the pillow. “Charity?”

She battled a telltale gulp, unwilling to lie. “Uh … lunch, we had lunch at a darling new café Sean told Emma about …” Latching his neck, she jerked him back down to give him a bit of his own.

Mitch groaned and finished it off with a kiss that tingled all the way to her toes. “Before or after St. Mary’s?” he rasped, voice huskier than usual when she strayed to nibble his throat.

Her lips adhered to his skin as if pasted with glue. No! How could he possibly know? Lids shuttering closed, she emitted a sound dangerously close to a squeak. “W-what?”

As soft as a baby’s kiss, he grazed each of her eyes with his mouth, gently stroking her temples with the pads of his thumbs. “You’ve been holding babies,” he said softly, the tenderness of his touch belying the sobriety of his tone, “at St. Mary’s, most likely, and I want to know why.”

A soft gasp popped from her mouth, which now gaped wider than her eyes. “Oh my goodness, why w-would you s-say that?” she stuttered, fear of divulging Emma’s secret racing her pulse.

Leaning in, he feathered her throat with soft, little kisses, nose buried in the curve of her neck. “Because I know your scent, Charity—and tonight it hints at baby powder.”

A silent groan lodged in her throat. She fought off a gulp that would only confirm he was right. “For heaven’s sake, Mitch,” she whispered in a near croak, “I hold Daniel every chance I get, so of course I smell like baby powder.”

He sniffed and lifted his head. “And soy. The last time I noticed that formula scent was last year after you and Emma visited St. Mary’s.”

She swallowed hard, no stopping the gulp now. Not when Emma fed Daniel whole milk.

He gently smoothed the hair from her face. “So, out with it, little girl,” he said, gaze probing hers, “why are you and Emma visiting St. Mary’s again?”

“Because we like to hold the babies,” she hissed, yanking him back with a greedy arm to his neck.

He pulled away, fingers tunneling into her hair to caress and contain her. “Not the right answer. Why, Charity?” he repeated, his jaw suddenly as tight as his hold.

Her eyelids sank like her spirits. “I can’t say, Mitch, I promised.”

“You better say,” he threatened, his mouth coercing with a nip of her ear before he turned his attention to the crook of her neck, “or neither of us will get any sleep tonight.”

She stared, chest heaving and eyes glazed, well aware he had her just where he wanted … and now, regrettably, just where she wanted to be. Oh, Emma, I tried … “Because,” she said with a shuddering sigh, “Sean and Emma are adopting again, and they don’t want anyone to know until it’s for sure. So please, Mitch, you can’t say a word—not a hint to Father at work or any of the brothers-in-law.”

He nuzzled her mouth, tender and slow, before cupping her head with his hands. “I won’t say anything, little girl,” he whispered. “I think it’s wonderful.”

“You do?” Her voice nearly cracked.

“Of course.” He pressed a soft kiss to her nose. “Adoption is always a good thing, giving kids a home and family who otherwise have none.”

“Really?” Her voice carried way too much hope and she knew it.

He kneaded the nape of her neck with magical fingers, reading her mind like the front page of the Herald. “For Sean and Emma, Charity,” he emphasized gently, “so get it out of your head.”

The muscles constricted in her throat. “But, Mitch—”

“I’m too old to adopt, little girl, and we already have two wonderful children.”

“But I’m talking foster care, Mitch, not adoption,” she reasoned, desperate to cloak her deep-seated desire in noble intent. “The most worthy of causes—rescuing abandoned orphans by giving them the love and benefit of a normal home until they’re placed in one of their own.”

He tucked a finger to her chin. “Same thing, at least to you O’Connor women, and you won’t convince me otherwise, so case closed.” With a kiss to her nose, he studied her with affection, finger-combing the hair splayed across her pillow. “Besides,” he said, mouth in a slant, “our home is anything but ‘normal.’”

She shot up, shoving his hand away. “You mean you won’t even consider it? Pray about it?” Her eyes narrowed. “And what do you mean ‘anything but normal’?”

He huffed out a sigh, dropping back on his pillow as he scoured his face with a hand. “Face it, little girl—your mind never shuts down. You’re always thinking, planning, plotting ways to improve what you think needs to improve. Whether it’s matchmaking for your brothers, pushing me to let you work at the store, or something as simple as tricking Henry into eating his vegetables—you never rest.” He propped a muscled arm to the back of his neck, bicep bulging while he assessed her through blue eyes brimming with tease. “The truth is living with you is like a sprint through a field of wildflowers, Charity, embedded with mines—I never know when one of your well-meaning ploys is going to blow up in my face.”

“So, what’s wrong with vegetables?” she countered, unable to hide the thread of hurt in her tone. “They’re essential for a strong body.”

“Yes, they are,” he said quietly, tugging her into the crook of his hold. He cradled her body close as his palms gently skimmed the length of her arm. “As are direct communication and honesty in a marriage, which is what I thought we agreed to.”

She expelled a frustrated breath that ruffled the hairs on his chest. “We also agreed to compromise, Mitch Dennehy, but you’ll probably ban me from St. Mary’s forever just for spite because you wouldn’t know compromise if it bit you in the backside.” She couldn’t help the pout in her voice.

His chuckle blew warm against her hair. “Sure I would, sweetheart—I’ve been bitten in the backside many a time by one of your harebrained schemes, and we both know it.” He kissed the top of her head. “But to prove I’m not adverse to compromise, I have no problem with you holding babies at St. Mary’s whenever you want …” He rolled to his side and drew her close, his tone tender but firm. “As long as they stay there,” he stressed with a sober gaze. Before she could reply, he brushed his lips to hers, as soft as a whisper and as gentle as the trace of a plea in his tone. “I love you, Charity, with every fiber of my being, but I need you to promise you’ll give up any notion of babies unless God chooses to give us more of our own.”

She had no control over the moisture that sprang to her eyes. “But we’ve tried forever, Mitch, and there’s still no babies to love …” Her voice wobbled into a heave that brought a soft smile to his lips.

He held her close, the warmth of his hand massaging her back. “I know, sweetheart, but God obviously thought Henry was all we could handle.” With a lingering kiss to her brow, he tucked a finger to her chin, a hint of a twinkle in his gaze. “Besides, look at all the fun we had trying.” His humor faded as he studied her, no mistaking the depth of love in his eyes. “I need your word, Charity,” he said quietly, tenderly stroking the length of her jaw, “that from now on you will take your fill of holding and loving babies at St. Mary’s, and never mention adopting one again.”

In the skim of his finger, Gabe’s image entered her mind, and all air hitched in her chest. She blinked, her obsession for a baby suddenly peeling away to reveal what God might have intended all along—the rescue of a lost older child who had no parents of her own. Someone abused and forsaken like her adopted sister Gabe, in dire need of a family to love. Her eyes drifted closed.

And be loved.

“Charity—do I have your promise?” He underscored each word with the gentlest of kisses to both her eyelids and cheeks. “No … more … talk… of … babies, unless it’s about making our own?”

Her eyelids lifted, spilling tears that caught in the sad curve of her smile. “All right, Mitch,” she whispered, her melancholy over babies melting away in the face of adopting an older child in need. “I promise—no more talk of babies.”

“That’s my girl.” His sigh of relief was warm against her skin while he fondled her mouth with his own, drawing her close to cocoon her in his arms.

No more talk of babies, no … Her eyes drifted closed as she reveled in the touch of her husband. Warmth purled through her like heated honey when he took his time to slowly nuzzle her neck. But babies who have grown up? She moaned when his mouth strayed to the hollow of her throat, coaxing a sweet smile of surrender.

Oh, you bet ...

2:17AM

Thursday, August 10, 2017

 

"Do it afraid."

-- Joyce Meyer, author, speaker, evangelist


 Well, I did it. I was shaking in my boots, but I did it.

I went LIVE on Facebook!!

And you know what? It was SO much fun (uh, after I botched it three times!) and SO personal (like I was talking one-on-one with everybody who came to my page) that I think I want to do it more often now that I know how. But definitely for a waaaaaay shorter time period, like maybe 5-10 minutes here and there.

I actually did this live video as part of my Seeker blog this week, so if you want a detailed "HOW TO" regarding Facebook Live, I encourage you to go read my Seekerville blog HERE.  

NOTE: I will be picking a winner tomorrow morning, 8/11/17, for a $25 Amazon gift card and having a character named after you in my next book, so be sure to leave a comment because then you'll be eligible to win. PLUS ... if you mention you are a Journal Jot reader, you're automatically in the draw for a secret JJ giveaway of an e-copy of His Steadfast Love (or any of my indie books or novellas).

If you missed the video and just want to check it out, the link is below, but be advised it's pretty long, so if you just want some highlights, you can slide the time ball up to the 11:14 time period to see me get a little weepy when I talk about YOU guys, my reader friends whom I LOVE!  Then at about 14:00, I follow it up with an answer to Lynne Feurerstein's question about future O'Connor Christmas novellas, and at the 24:30 time mark, I talk about why I write as passionately as I do. It all ends up with a group prayer at about the 41:00 mark, so I hope you check it out.

JULIE'S GUINEA-PIG TEST ON FACEBOOK LIVE!

Like I said, I had SO much fun that I thought it might be a real kick to do occasional, short live blips here and there, maybe like a "Coffee Break with a CDQ" or an occasional "Q&A with a CDQ."  That way I can just chit-chat briefly with each of you, answer any questions you might have, update you on what I'm doing, or just give you a quick tour of my writing space on my veranda (complete with ducks, herons, turtles, fish, and even the love of my life, IF he'll do it!). So if you would like to be notified when I go live on Facebook, all you have to do is subscribe on my Facebook page as follows:

1.) Click on the small, downward-facing arrow in the top right-hand corner of the live video post (or it might be 3 dots)

2.) Choose "Turn On Notifications."

3.) Or you can also "Like" my page, which makes it more likely that you'll be notified of my next live broadcast.


More Giveaways, But Ending Soon!

If you haven't read His Steadfast Love yet, here's your chance to snag a copy! But you best hurry -- both these giveaways end SOON!!

WENDI KITSTEINER'S BLOG: Giveaway of a paperback copy of my favorite book I've ever written -- A Hope Undaunted! And if you win it and want a signed bookplate, just let me know, and I will send you one. PLUS ... if you are a Journal Jot reader, just indicate that in your comment on Wendi's blog, and I will throw in an e-book copy of His Steadfast Love too, so GOOD LUCK and here's the link:  Wendi Kitsteiner's Blog

TUESDAY, AUGUST 8 -- OVERCOMING WITH GOD BLOG: Drop by to read sweet Bonnie Roof's review of His Steadfast Love and be entered to win a signed paperback copy of HSL OR e-books of the entire series. Here's the link: Overcoming With God Blog

 

Well, that's it for now, my friends, so MEGA HUGS & HAPPY WEEKEND!

Julie

2:07AM

Sunday, August 6, 2017

YIKES ... I NEED YOUR HELP!!

 Help!

Okay, most of you know I'm not generally a shy person, but going LIVE on Facebook is ... well ... a wee bit intimidating, so I would sure be grateful if some friendly faces showed up to cheer me on. SO grateful, in fact, that I am having a contest for anyone that does. Interested? I hope so because here are the details:

WHO:    Moi

WHAT:   Answering any questions you have LIVE on Facebook, where a comment/question enters you to win a $25 Amazon gift card, a character named after you in my next book.

WHEN:   Wednesday, August 9, 8:00 AM Central Time

WHERE:  Julie's Personal FB Page at 8:00 AM, then on Seekerville blog the rest of the day.

WHY:      Uh, because I'm crazy? AND because I thought this would be a fun blog to do for Seekerville, where I'm ALSO having a special giveaway for Journal Jot readers. All you have to do is leave a comment on my Seekerville blog on Wednesday and mention you're a JJ reader, and you're in the draw for for an e-copy of His Steadfast Love, so be sure to stop by there too if you can, okay?

NOTE!! If you can't make the FB Live Q & A, send me your questions via the CONTACT JULIE tab of my website, and I will try to answer them either live or in the comments section.

Blog Giveaways

Hey, guys, I haven't done a lot of blog giveaways on this book release, but here are a few coming your way, so I hope you can find the time to come on by.

WENDI KITSTEINER'S BLOG: Giveaway of a paperback copy of my favorite book I've ever written -- A Hope Undaunted! And if you win it and want a signed bookplate, just let me know, and I will send you one. PLUS ... if you are a Journal Jot reader, just indicate that in your comment on Wendi's blog, and I will throw in an e-book copy of His Steadfast Love too, so GOOD LUCK and here's the link:  Wendi Kitsteiner's Blog

TUESDAY, AUGUST 8 -- OVERCOMING WITH GOD BLOG: Drop by to read sweet Bonnie Roof's review of His Steadfast Love and be entered to win a signed paperback copy of HSL OR e-books of the entire series. Here's the link: Overcoming With God Blog

 

WED., AUGUST 9 -- SEEKERVILLE BLOG: As mentioned above, I will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and a character named after you in my next book PLUS an e-copy of His Steadfast Love if you mention you are a JJ reader. Here's the link and hope to see you there: Seekerville Blog

The reviews on His Steadfast Love have been rolling in, and so far, I am thrilled to say HSL has a 5-star rating on Amazon, so a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have posted reviews  -- I can't express just HOW much I appreciate it!

And if you liked the book and haven't posted a brief review, would you please consider doing so? Good reviews are the lifeblood for indie authors and THE BEST way to bless an author you enjoy. THANK YOU!!

Hope to see you on Wed., either at my Facebook Live video on my FB author page or on Seekerville.

Hugs and Have a Great Week!

Julie

 

3:20AM

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"The steadfast love of the Lord

never ceases; His mercies never come

to an end; They are new every morning;

great is Your faithfulness." 

— Lamentations 3:22-23

Oh my goodness, I am SO grateful for His steadfast love -- both God's AND the book He led me to write! A book, I might add, that releases TODAY!!

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

At long last Cat and Chase's story is here, and I'm going to tell you right off the bat that is is one of the most spiritual AND one of the most romantic I have ever written. And -- WHOA, BABY -- just look at some of these reviews:

❤️  💜  ❤️ 

❤️ "This book drew me closer to God in a way that no work of fiction has before. It hit something inside me and I several times stopped reading because I just felt a burning desire to spend time with God in those moments. It was truly amazing." -- Christian Novels Blog

💜 "Julie Lessman has delivered a captivating romance that is both unapologetically passionate and unapologetically spiritual. If you’re looking for stories that present the messes of life against the backdrop of redemption – with a hearty dose of stick-your-head-in-the-freezer passion, this series is for you!" -- Reading is My SuperPower Blog

 

 

❤️ "But it’s so much more than a story to quicken your pulse, it’s a story to quicken your spirit and encourage your heart. At least it did mine, in ways I didn’t know I needed." -- The Green Mockingbird Blog

💜 "His Steadfast Love, book three in the Isle of Hope series by Julie Lessman, was my absolute favorite book I have read in a long time." -- L123, Amazon reviewer

❤️ "OH MY GOODNESS! I love Cat's story! I'm a sucker for Prodigal stories anyway ... A perfect ending to the series and a perfect story of Christ bringing one of His own back into the fold. I loved it!" -- My Favorite Pastime Blog



💜 "I’m blown away at how this author welcomes readers with open arms into the family she’s created." -- The Book Club Network

❤️ "His Steadfast Love is, quite simply, an AMAZING book! I laughed. I cried. I savored every sweet moment ..." -- Sherida Stewart, Amazon reviewer


 

A HUGE THANKS to all the reviewers above who took the time to read and review Cat's story.

AND MEGA THANKS to those of you who preordered His Steadfast Love and are reading it now. I hope you enjoy it and most importantly, I hope the spiritual lesson within -- one that God taught me forty-three years ago -- blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

I do a favor to ask, however. I don’t know if you are into posting reviews or not, but if you are, would you consider possibly posting a brief review for His Steadfast Love if you read it and like it? And if you do, please let me know so I can personally thank you, okay? Most people don’t realize how critical good reviews are to authors -- especially on an indie series like this where I don't have a major publisher promoting me. But so many potential readers base their book-buying decisions on the number of good reviews posted, that that is the very best way to bless an author you like. BUT … if reviews are NOT your thing, I understand and am just so very grateful you read my books in the first place! :)


We Have Winners ...

 MEGA HUGS to all of you that worked so very hard in this contest! I always hate to award just one award because there are too many of you who give it your all, so what I have done is in addition to my grand-prize winner, I have decided to pick three additional winners -- one based on the top # of entries and two based on random selection so that everybody has a chance to win regardless of points. And so without further ado, the grand-prize winner who wins a character named after her in His Steadfast Love, a signed paperback copy, and her choice of a $50 gift card OR ten top-CBA gently used recent releases is ...

❤️  Bianca Santelices  ❤️

SUPER CONGRATS to Bianca -- you certainly earned it, my friend!

 

 And now the three additional winners who each have a character named after them in His Steadfast Love and have their choice of a signed e-book copy along with e-book copies of the entire series OR a signed paperback copy when they release in September are:

Kerri Kodjovi
Terrill Rosado
Abigail Allen

Congratulations to each of you, and let me just say it will be such a blessing to have a character named after you in my book. It makes me smile every time I come across your names. :)

 In the upcoming weeks, I will be giving you sneak peeks at each of my upcoming novellas, so if you are not subscribed to this blog, I encourage you to do so now at the top right-hand side of this page so that you will receive an email whenever I post a new Journal Jot.

 

 

Thank you and God bless each of you for your continued support!

Hugs and Happy Reading!

Julie

Grace Like Rain:

A Heart Of San Franciso Novella

Yes, it's true -- Blake "The Rake" McClare has found love in his own novella, so you won't want to miss this one because it's one of my faves. So much so, that I am including the first chapter down below, so do check it out. Here's the blurb:

He’s everybody’s lovable rogue.
She’s nobody’s fool
who hopes to steer clear.
Until a thunderstorm sinks them both
into a sea of love.

Blake “The Rake” McClare has a notorious reputation as a womanizer, which is why soft-spoken Patience Peabody carefully avoids the lovable rogue attorney at the law firm in which they both work.

Until a rare thunderstorm brings them together in a love soaked with the grace of God and a whole lot of lightning!

 PREORDER GRACE LIKE RAIN HERE!

 

A Whisper of Hope:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

Ahhhh ... Charity & Mitch ... two of my very faves, and now they have their very own Christmas novella that you will not want to miss.

I know that Mitch doesn't look a lot like his orginal cover picture on A Passion Redeemed, but it's incredibly difficult to find a historical-looking couple that actually resembles a prior cover, so I did the best I could, even though I realize the couple looks more modern than historical. But I do think the pose replicates the love Mitch has for Charity very nicely, especially after you read the story! ;)  Here's the blurb:

She’s desperate for a baby.
He’s desperate for an empty nest.
And love is desperate to surprise them both.

With a husband dead set against adoption, Charity O’Connor Dennehy has barely a whisper of hope for more children, but if hope doesn’t disappoint … will it be enough to find a precious bundle under her tree?

 PREORDER A WHISPER OF HOPE HERE!

 

The Best Gift of All:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

This is Lizzie and Brady's story because it was a subplot that was cut from A Love Surrendered, the final O'Connor book. Since it was already basically written, I used it instead of writing a Christmas novella for Faith & Collin and Katie & Luke. But rest assured that each year I plan to release another O'Connor Christmas novella until I have covered everyone in the family, including Marcy & Patrick! 

I have to say that this particular novella contains a very important life lesson I learned, so not only is it a good read, I hope, but it contains a powerful lesson as well. Here's the blurb:

 

  She longs to be the perfect mother.
He just longs for his wife.
Until they receive ... the best gift of all.

Everyone knows Lizzie and John Brady have the perfect marriage. But when Lizzie’s desire to be a good mother eclipses her desire for her husband, the honeymoon is definitely over. Can the spirit of Christmas heal their hearts when Lizzie gives John the best gift of all?

 PREORDER THE BEST GIFT OF ALL HERE!

 

The Gift of Grace:

A Frontier Christmas Novella

Although The Gift of Grace is basically a Christmas story, I didn't want the cover to be limited to only Christmas. And actually, since Grace almost burns down the hero's house on a number of occasions, I thought the flame-orange sky was somewhat fitting! ;) Here's the blurb:

She’s the Accident
to His Prayers …

Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny. She’s caught fire to the kitchen, dyed his long johns pink, and scorched nearly everything she cooks. But he’s desperate, and she’s a destitute ex-saloon girl.

Even though she’s no good with her hands, Grace sure has a way with her heart. She’s brought a warmth into Cole’s home, added color to his daughters’ lives, and broken down the wall he’s built up since his beloved wife died. But when Grace’s past threatens Cole’s family, she’s given one last chance to be home for Christmas . . . if she hasn’t burned it down yet.

 PREORDER THE GIFT OF GRACE HERE!

So there you have it -- four new reads for Christmas and a novel -- His Steadfast Love, so I hope you get a chance to read them all. I wish you a happy weekend, happy summer, and happy reading!

Hugs,

Julie

99-Cent Sale on Isle of Hope
Ends Soon!

If you haven't read book 1 in the Isle of Hope series, now is your chance! Award-winning Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love was voted as one of Family Fiction magazine's Best of 2015, currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 221 reviews, and will be on sale for only 99 cents for a few more weeks, so take advantage! Here's the 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?

99-CENT SALE ON ISLE OF HOPE: UNFAILING LOVE

 

 50% Sale on Book 2 Ends Soon!

Now's your chance to buy Love Everlasting at almost half off, because the sale ends soon! LE has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 109 reviews, so here's the blurb:

Hunk of Heartache
Vs. Sweet & Shy

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?

SALE PRICE ON EVERLASTING LOVE

 


4:36AM

Thursday, July 20, 2017

 Contest at bottom of blog.

 

"Prayer doesn’t just move mountains,
it ushers us into the very presence of God,
where we can touch Him and He, us.
A holy mingling of souls, if you will, where we can
embrace the true essence of Life, because that’s what
He is—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

-- Grace Like Rain by Julie Lessman

 

Can I hear a big AMEN

about prayer moving mountains?

Speaking of which, one of my very favorite books on prayer is on e-sale today, so I hope you check it out. It's called Moving Mountains: Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority by renowned Christian author, John Eldredge. It has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 319 reviews, and it literally has changed my prayer life, ramping it up considerably.

And trust me, I needed a "mountain" of prayer this week to accomplish all I had to do, but I am happy to say I am almost done with the final proofing for the Amazon upload version of His Steadfast Love (releases August 1st!) AND have designed covers and setup pre-order for -- FOUR NOVELLAS!! Each of the following novellas are now available for preorder and will release on September 1st.

PLEASE NOTE: IF you purchased any of the O'Connor Christmas novellas when they were part of the Hope for the Holidays historical collection or the Home for Christmas historical collection OR Blake "The Rake" McClare's novella when it was part of the With This Kiss historical collection, or the Cowboy Christmas Homecoming historical collection, you've already read these novellas.

BUT ... I do plan to go back in and spice them up Julie Lessman style because when I originally wrote them, I had to tone down the romance to satisfy the publisher. PLUS, the novella from Cowboy Christmas Homecoming will not only be GREATLY spiced up (the original was not allowed to have any on-the-mouth kisses), but it will include more of the original story that was edited to make the novella shorter.

So here's a little blurb on each of the novellas releasing September 1st, and just FYI? Preordering any of these novellas gives extra points in the contest listed below where you can win a character named after you in His Steadfast Love, a signed paperback copy, a $50 Amazon gift card OR your ten top CBA recent releases, so be sure to check out the contest at the bottom of this page.

 

Grace Like Rain:

A Heart Of San Franciso Novella

Yes, it's true -- Blake "The Rake" McClare has found love in his own novella, so you won't want to miss this one because it's one of my faves. So much so, that I am including the first chapter down below, so do check it out. Here's the blurb:

He’s everybody’s lovable rogue.
She’s nobody’s fool
who hopes to steer clear.
Until a thunderstorm sinks them both
into a sea of love.

Blake “The Rake” McClare has a notorious reputation as a womanizer, which is why soft-spoken Patience Peabody carefully avoids the lovable rogue attorney at the law firm in which they both work.

Until a rare thunderstorm brings them together in a love soaked with the grace of God and a whole lot of lightning!

 PREORDER GRACE LIKE RAIN HERE!

 

A Whisper of Hope:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

Ahhhh ... Charity & Mitch ... two of my very faves, and now they have their very own Christmas novella that you will not want to miss.

I know that Mitch doesn't look a lot like his orginal cover picture on A Passion Redeemed, but it's incredibly difficult to find a historical-looking couple that actually resembles a prior cover, so I did the best I could, even though I realize the couple looks more modern than historical. But I do think the pose replicates the love Mitch has for Charity very nicely, especially after you read the story! ;)  Here's the blurb:

She’s desperate for a baby.
He’s desperate for an empty nest.
And love is desperate to surprise them both.

With a husband dead set against adoption, Charity O’Connor Dennehy has barely a whisper of hope for more children, but if hope doesn’t disappoint … will it be enough to find a precious bundle under her tree?

 PREORDER A WHISPER OF HOPE HERE!

 

The Best Gift of All:

An O'Connor Christmas Novella

This is Lizzie and Brady's story because it was a subplot that was cut from A Love Surrendered, the final O'Connor book. Since it was already basically written, I used it instead of writing a Christmas novella for Faith & Collin and Katie & Luke. But rest assured that each year I plan to release another O'Connor Christmas novella until I have covered everyone in the family, including Marcy & Patrick! 

I have to say that this particular novella contains a very important life lesson I learned, so not only is it a good read, I hope, but it contains a powerful lesson as well. Here's the blurb:

 

  She longs to be the perfect mother.
He just longs for his wife.
Until they receive ... the best gift of all.

Everyone knows Lizzie and John Brady have the perfect marriage. But when Lizzie’s desire to be a good mother eclipses her desire for her husband, the honeymoon is definitely over. Can the spirit of Christmas heal their hearts when Lizzie gives John the best gift of all?

 PREORDER THE BEST GIFT OF ALL HERE!

 

The Gift of Grace:

A Frontier Christmas Novella

Although The Gift of Grace is basically a Christmas story, I didn't want the cover to be limited to only Christmas. And actually, since Grace almost burns down the hero's house on a number of occasions, I thought the flame-orange sky was somewhat fitting! ;) Here's the blurb:

She’s the Accident
to His Prayers …

Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny. She’s caught fire to the kitchen, dyed his long johns pink, and scorched nearly everything she cooks. But he’s desperate, and she’s a destitute ex-saloon girl.

Even though she’s no good with her hands, Grace sure has a way with her heart. She’s brought a warmth into Cole’s home, added color to his daughters’ lives, and broken down the wall he’s built up since his beloved wife died. But when Grace’s past threatens Cole’s family, she’s given one last chance to be home for Christmas . . . if she hasn’t burned it down yet.

 PREORDER THE GIFT OF GRACE HERE!

So there you have it -- four new reads for Christmas and a novel -- His Steadfast Love, so I hope you get a chance to read them all. I wish you a happy weekend, happy summer, and happy reading!

Hugs,

Julie

99-Cent Sale on Isle of Hope
Ends Soon!

If you haven't read book 1 in the Isle of Hope series, now is your chance! Award-winning Isle of Hope: Unfailing Love was voted as one of Family Fiction magazine's Best of 2015, currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 218 reviews, and will be on sale for only 99 cents for a few more weeks, so take advantage! Here's the 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?

Yes, you read that right. In honor of my upcoming release of His Steadfast Love, book 2 is also on sale, so now's your chance to catch up before book 3. Love Everlasting has a 5-star rating on Amazon with 103 reviews, so here's the blurb:

Hunk of Heartache
Vs. Sweet & Shy

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?

SALE PRICE ON EVERLASTING LOVE

 

 His Steadfast Love, Pre-Order Now!

Book 3 in my Isle of Hope Series, His Steadfast Love, is finally available for PRE-ORDER! Cat's and Chase's love story releases August 1st in e-book and later this fall in paperback, so here's the blurb:

She’s bent on fun.
He’s bent on faith.
Till true love
bridges the gap.

Cat O’Bryen is a prodigal daughter unhappy with God. First, her father with whom she reconciled dies of cancer and now her twin sister and best friend marries, leaving Cat at home with a newlywed mother, her new husband, and a little brother. But when Cat moves in with a roommate of questionable morals, her family is worried, certain she’s on a path that could damage her faith forever.

Reluctant to get involved with a woman like the one who destroyed his life, ex-Navy SEAL Pastor Chase Griffin steers clear of the attraction he feels for Cat O’Bryen. Until her family begs him to take her under his wing, hoping he can draw her back into the fold. But when the draw she has on him proves too strong to resist, he must rely on the strength of God to offer friendship instead. A friendship that is hopefully as steady and strong as the God whose love is wooing her home.

PRE-ORDER HERE!

 

 Contest Ends July 31st!

To celebrate my new release, I am running a contest where you can win ALL of the following:

— A character named after you (or a loved one) in both e-book & paperback of His Steadfast Love.

— A signed copy

— Your choice of $50 Amazon gift card OR box of 10 gently used & recent books by top authors like Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter, Becky Wade, Beth Vogt, and more!

You'll find the Rafflecopter contest box at the bottom of today's blog AFTER the excerpt for the first chapter of Grace Like Rain.

 

1st Chapter of Grace Like Rain

Chapter One

San Francisco, February 1905

Ka-boom!

Patience Peabody literally jumped in the air with a squeal, as if goosed by the bolt of lightning that lit up the galley kitchen of McClare, Rupert, and Byington. Heart slamming like the waves of water that battered the window, she poured a steaming cup of coffee with shaky fingers, staring out at a sodden sky that was still two hours from dawn.

“Sweet soul-saving mercy, I hate thunderstorms,” she muttered, feeling foolish for being such a baby at the age of nearly twenty. She shuddered, the motion rippling her coffee as she sipped on her way to the door, eyelids fluttering closed to savor the scent of cinnamon—the secret recipe her mother used for everything from coffee to handmade soap.

Crrrr-rack! Another clap of thunder crashed, knee-jerking her arms while she fired a panicked look out the window.

“Ah, hot coffee, Miss Peabody—you’re a lifesaver.”

“Oh!” Head lashing back, she jerked her cup and saucer in startled reflex, showering a slosh of coffee on the soggy white shirt of Mr. Blake McClare, junior associate counsel in his uncle’s law firm.

And her superior.

Dripping from head to toe with rain—and now coffee—he glanced down at his waterlogged shirt before peering up with an endearing smile. “Of course, I rather hoped for a cup.”

“Oh … oh … I am s-so s-sorry, Mr. McClare,” she stuttered, voice quivering as much as the cup in her hands. She spun around, spilling more coffee as she darted to the sink, china clattering to the counter before she doused a dishrag under the tap. Frazzled enough to faint, she rushed to where he stood in a puddle of coffee and rain and commenced slapping the sopping rag against his chest as if it were a washboard.

A very taut, muscled washboard.

She gulped, cheeks flaming hot when her skittish gaze rose to meet his.

“Why, thank you, Miss Peabody,” he said with a boyish grin, soggy dark curls framing a handsomely sculpted face, “this should serve nicely as my morning ablution since I didn’t make it home.”

Her cup rattled in its saucer. “Oh … oh … a towel …yes, I’ll get you a towel.” Whirling to head to the sink, her body boomeranged back with a firm clamp of his wrist, nearly bouncing off his thoroughly wet chest.

“Not necessary,” he said with a broad smile, steadying her with a brace of her arm. “I assure you I won’t melt.” He slipped his coat off and hooked it over the doorknob with a wink. “Unless, of course, you start scrubbing again …”

Blood from every part of her body converged in her face while he calmly removed the leaking dishrag from her grasp and squatted to wipe up the floor. She put her palms to her hot cheeks, mortified that Blake McClare, the one lawyer in the firm whom she frequently prayed about—dreamed about—was cleaning up her mess. “Oh … oh … I am so embarrassed, Mr. McClare, I could just die!”

“Oh, don’t do that, Miss Peabody, please,” he said in a mock stern voice that was clearly a playful plea. He rose, along with one thick, dark brow, his trademark twinkle glimmering in clear gray eyes that always reminded her of bottomless pools of tease. “Then Miss Murdoch would make the coffee, and I’d be the one who would die.” A telltale smile twitched at the edge of lips that had flirted, teased, praised, soothed, and encouraged her more times than she could count. A knot ducked in her throat.

And tempted … ?

The thought nearly asphyxiated her, bloodying her face to heatstroke proportion. Snatching the rag from his hand, she wheeled around, praying she wouldn’t pass out before she made it to the sink. “I’ll p-pour you another c-cup, Mr. McClare,” she said in a shaky voice as she glanced over her shoulder, “then if you’ll kindly leave your s-shirt on the knob outside your office, I will attend to that stain immediately.”

“No need, Miss Peabody. I keep a fresh change of clothes in my closet for occasions such as this.”

She blinked, suddenly noting the rumpled tux, loosened tie, and dark bristle that shadowed his jaw. Another flash of fire scorched when she realized just what that meant.

He rubbed a hand to his stomach with a flash of white teeth. “Although I would offer a week’s wages for something to eat.”

“I … I … h-have a muffin,” she whispered, hand knuckled to the counter to hold herself up.

His little-boy grin almost buckled her knees. “What flavor?”

“C-Cinnamon r-raisin.” The words came out hoarse.

He chuckled as he cocked a hip to the door, coat now haphazardly slung over his broad shoulder. “I’m drooling already. Do you mind if we share?”

Did she mind? “You c-can have it,” she said in a rush, willing to give this man almost anything … at least in her dreams.

“Absolutely not. We share 50/50 or I go hungry, Miss Peabody, is that clear?”

She nodded her head like a dolt, wondering how gray eyes the color of a winter sky could shine with such warmth. When he looked at her like that—both tender and teasing as if she mattered far more than she did—her tongue tangled more than the knots in her stomach.

“Good.” He stood to his full height with a firm square of shoulders. “Give me ten minutes to change and shave, and I’ll meet you in the conference room for coffee and said muffin.” Turning, he lobbed a glance over his shoulder, the mischievous smile back in play. “Oh, and napkins, if you will, Miss Peabody—lots and lots of napkins.”

 

 

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