And hope does not disappoint …
“Communication and honesty are critical
in a marriage, Charity, which is what I thought we agreed to.”
“We also agreed to compromise, Mitch Dennehy,
but you’ll probably ban me from St. Mary’s for spite
because you wouldn’t know compromise if it bit you in the backside.”
His chuckle blew warm against her hair.
“Sure I would, little girl—I’ve been bitten in the backside many a time by
one of your harebrained schemes …”
—A Whisper of Hope by Julie Lessman,Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection
Wait … did somebody mention hare-brained schemes???
Ah, yes, one of my favorite heroines is back with a “harebrained scheme” she “hopes” and prays will not disappoint.
And you know what? I’m right there with her—hoping and praying my brand-new Christmas novella, A Whisper of Hope, from the Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection—won’t either.
So far, so good! I’m thrilled to say Hope for the Holidays has been #1 on Amazon’s Best Sellers for Historical Christian Romance for most of this week and #1 on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” for Historical Christian Romance since it came out on November 10th, so that’s a good sign, and I have many of you to thank for that, so GOD BLESS YOU!!
Keep in mind that not only do you get Mitch and Charity’s novella, but three others by award-winning authors Mary Connealy, Myra Johnson, and Ruth Logan Herne, so trust me—at only $2.99—this is a deal you do not want to pass up! And, if you read it and like it, one brief review posted on Amazon will enter you in my newsletter contest to have a character named after you in my next book and a signed copy. You can post a review for all four novellas combined or just one, so DO let me know if you post one, okay?
To celebrate the release of A Whisper of Hope, here’s a “whisper” of an excerpt to hopefully whet your appetite for revisiting the O’Connors this Christmas, especially Charity, Mitch, Hope, and yes, even that rascal, Henry. Mitch and Charity’s novella was actually a subplot in the final book in the O’Connor saga, A Love Surrendered, culminating in the Christmas epilogue of that book. But my publisher asked me to cut it and several other subplots (one about Lizzie and Brady that hopefully you will eventually see in a novella) to shorten the book in order to cut costs. I was disappointed at the time, of course, but now I’m thrilled because I was able to flesh out that subplot to write what I hope is, for you, a lovely holiday story of healing and hope.
For those of you who would like to try to win the novella, be sure to check below the excerpt for current and upcoming giveaways, okay?
Happy Reading and Happy Weekend!
A Whisper of Hope
by Julie Lessman
Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection
“Ah, perfect timing,” Mitch said, grinning when Charity jerked around, hand splayed 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.”
“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.”
She swallowed hard, no stopping the gulp now.
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.
HOT OFF THE PRESS!
MITCH & CHARITY CHRISTMAS NOVELLA ONLY $2.99! WHOO-HOO … I am very excited to announce that I am part of a Seeker Christmas novella anthology called Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection that not only features a story on Mitch and Charity, but novellas by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, and Myra Johnson.
In addition to this historical collection, The Seekers are also releasing a contemporary anthology called Hope for the Holidays Contemporary Collection as well, with stories by Audra Harders, Mary Connealy, Sandra Leesmith, Ruth Logan Herne, Tina Radcliffe Russo, and Missy Tippens, so be sure to check both out on Amazon at the following links:
Here’s the blurb for Mitch and Charity’s story, which is called A Whisper of Hope:
Christmas is the season of hope, which is exactly what Charity O’Connor Dennehy is counting on. Since the birth of her twins twelve years ago, she's prayed and hoped for a houseful of babies to love, but it wasn’t meant to be. With a husband dead-set against adoption, there’s barely a whisper of hope to change his mind, but if hope doesn’t disappoint … could it be enough to find a precious bundle under her tree?
NOW - NOVEMBER 19, 2014:
UNEXPECTED GIVEAWAY!! One of my readers accidentally got two copies of Surprised by Love, so she's giving one away with her review of the book (which is FABULOUS, by the way ... uh, the review, not the book! ;) So do check it out at the following link:
NOW - NOVEMBER 14, 2014:
THREE UNEXPECTED GIVEAWAYS!! One of my FAVORITE reviewer blogs, OWG, is giving away THREE copies of Surprised by Love with their reviews, so do check it out at the following link and you'll have to scroll down to leave a comment on all three reviews in order to be entered in each, okay?
NOW - NOVEMBER 14, 2014:
Join me on Everyone's Story blog where you can win your choice of any of my books, including my latest release, Surprised by Love!
NOVEMBER 14, 2014:
Join me on The Journey blog where you can win your choice of any of my books, including my latest release, Surprised by Love!
NOVEMBER 17, 2014:
Get lost in a story with me on the "Get Lost in a Story" blog where you can win your choice of any of my books, including my latest release, Surprised by Love!
NOVEMBER 24-DECEMBER 8, 2014:
Join me on the Artist Librarian blog for an interview and giveaway of winner's choice of any of my books, including my latest release, Surprised by Love!
DECEMBER 1-7, 2014:
Join me on the Carole Jarvis' blog for an interview and giveaway of winner's choice of any of my books, including my latest release, Surprised by Love!
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CHRISTMAS IS COMING AND A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW IS FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED!! My Irish Christmas love story, A Light in the Window—winner of three awards—is ABSOLUTELY FREE on Kindle Unlimited, so do check it out. Here's the video my hubby did for A Light in the Window with my daughter as the model for both the book and video, so take a peek to get you in the Christmas spirit. ALITW Video.