Tuesday, October 30, 2012

November's Author of the Month: Julie Lessman

Greetings to all of my fellow HCR addicts! It's November, can you believe it? (I do know this is a few days early, but with  my personal schedule it was now or a few days late and I chose now...*big grin*)

October was wonderful and I LOVED having Stacy and Joanne in the spotlight. Please tell me you've read their stuff! Well, if you haven't yet, there's still time to repent... *just teasing!* They really are fabulous authors and they have more books in the works--yay for us!!

This month I am beyond excited to feature, the one, the only: JULIE LESSMAN!! As you know, I just recently read ALL of her books and I loved every single one. She is a dear, sweet lady with a hilarious sense of humor and a killer writing style! Her books will have you sucked in with the first sentence. No, I'm not just saying that--they really will. Along with creating living, breathing characters, her messages of faith and Christ are very inspiring!

(Now, all you readers may be wondering about the GIVEAWAY! Well, I am happy to say that I will be doing the drawing on NOV 8! So, if you want to be entered to WIN, please SHARE this post on FB, TWITTER or by FOLLOWING this blog!!! And you will RECEIVE 1 point for DOING each of those things for Julie's CONTEST!!! YAY!!! So, you MUST tell me what you did so that you can get all the points you deserve, whether it be 1, 2 or 3! Make sure when you include your email that it's a spam-free format, IE: historicalchristianreview(at)gmail(dot)come. You will love her books if you haven't read them and you'll want to be entered in her contest for sure!!)

I must try and reign in my excitement over this interview...down, Amber down. {teehee} Below, you will find her answers to my questions. Be prepared for a good time, y'all! This woman is 100% lovable!

Tell us about yourself! And please, include one fun/silly/unique fact that people may not already know!

Well, I’m a baby boomer (how’s that for side-stepping the age issue?) married to a man who makes me feel like I’m living my own personal romance novel. I have a 29-year-old son and a doctor daughter-in-law (for whom I prayed since my son was a baby) and a precious year-old granddaughter. I also have a 25-year-old daughter that just graduated from law school who hates to read (and, yes, it’s true—I paid her $20 just to read the first chapter of A Passion Most Pure. I’m happy to say it hooked her, and the rest of the books didn’t cost me a dime! ).

My romance-writing career began at the tender age of twelve when I read Gone With the Wind, after which I immediately sat down to begin my own novel, a 150-page, single-spaced manuscript that is actually the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. I was SO hooked on romance after reading GWTW, that when I was in high school, I actually dressed up as a nun to go to a free showing for the local religious and clergy. One of my friends had a sister in the convent, so she loaned us novice habits and off we went! I sat there mesmerized, shoving free popcorn into my mouth as I watched the tug-o-war between Rhett and Scarlett. It was one of the most fun times of my teens … until we ran into the nuns from our high school! Whew, we got into trouble … but it was soooo worth it!

You have created SO many wonderful characters in your books. If you could BE any of the O'Connors who would you pick?

Uh-oh … probably Charity, because I’m pretty much a pistol just like her and, well, Mitch Dennehy happens to be my favorite hero of all those I’ve written—hubba, hubba! But to be honest, both Faith and Charity reflect my personality A LOT. Faith, the sister heroine of A Passion Most Pure, is my spiritual self and mirrors the intimate relationship I have with God. Like Faith, I talk and pray to Him as naturally as if He is my best friend (and He is!), but I also get angry with Him too. You might say that Faith and I are emotionally engaged with the God of the Universe—we laugh with Him, tear up at His goodness, and worship Him with all our hearts.

Charity, the sister heroine of Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, is my rebellious and “passionate” self, before I came to the Lord. You see, I was a wild child of the seventies, like so many of us today, and actually pulled many of the shenanigans that Charity pulls on Mitch in book 2. Hard as it may be for some people to believe, I absolutely LOVE Charity (just like I loved Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind), maybe because she is so wonderfully flawed and needy of love, not unlike I used to be before Christ. In fact when my husband read A Passion Redeemed, I was shocked to discover that he didn’t like Charity AT ALL. The poor guy—I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’s been married to her for over 34 years, although clearly without the looks!

The romance in your stories is THE BEST! Where do you get the inspiration for the romance (and awesome kisses *wink*) in your books?

HA! I keep a picture of my hubby when we were married right next to where I write, and let me tell you, that’s pretty darn inspiring!! But I think I was always meant to be a romance writer because as a little girl, I used to sneak downstairs to watch romantic movies after my parents went to bed, totally enamored with the idea of romance and falling in love. I thrived on wonderfully romantic old movies like Kisses for Breakfast, Pillow to Post, and Susan Slept Here, That Touch of Mink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and my all-time favorite, Gone With the Wind.

Initially my inspiration was Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, because from the moment I read Gone With the Wind, I was hooked on romance. So much so that as I said before, I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere, but in 2001, I was sitting in a beauty shop reading a Newsweek cover article about how Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. Something in my spirit said, “Now is the time to finish your book,” so I started it the next month. Hard to believe that almost forty years passed before God breathed new life into that early attempt and inspired me to finish my childhood novel of passion—only this time the “passion” would be for Him!

I have been so inspired by the Christian messages you include in your books and it's obvious you have a strong love of Christ. What is your favorite Bible story/scripture?

Well, when you’re a hyper CDQ (caffeinated drama queen), you tend to have LOTS of favorite Scriptures because frankly you need them to hold you up! But as far as being a writer, my favorite would have to be 2 Corinthians ll:3: Do not let my mind “be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

Why? Because I wish I’d known what an emotional roller-coaster it was going to be AFTER I got published. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I thought all the anxiety and self-doubt would dissipate after I signed on the dotted line. I mean that would validate me, right? Give me confidence as a writer? But I discovered (AGAIN!) that true confidence is not in accolades from your editor or a really good review, but instead in where your heart is with God. HE is my confidence when my sales rankings on Amazon.com are high or low, which is why I CLING to this Scripture and many others.

Any final words?

Thanks, Amber, for allowing me to connect with your readers. I LOVE to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact me through my website at http://www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/. My newsletter is chock-full of fun info on my books and there’s always a contest featuring signed book giveaways including two right now to win a Kindle Fire or have a character named after you or a loved one in my next book. Contest details can be found at http://www.julielessman.com/contest/. Also, I have a cool feature on my website called “Journal Jots” at http://www.julielessman.com/journal-jots1/, which is a very laid-back, Friday journal to my reader friends that would give your readers an idea as to my relaxed style of writing. Or readers can check out my favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of my books on the “Excerpts” tab of my website at http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/. Finally, I can be found daily at The Seekers blog at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.


Was that not AMAZING?! Oh, Julie, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to do this! I have truly loved getting to know you, and I know that God is working through you to bless people's lives, because I know you have blessed mine. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world!

Now, all you readers may be wondering about the GIVEAWAY! Well, I am happy to say that I will be doing the drawing on NOV 8! So, please comment below--and tell us your FAVORITE Lessman character --and leave your email address if you want to be entered to WIN!!!

And lastly, Lessman's ebook A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW comes out this month as well!! I cannot wait for that! So, if you are like me and are chomping at the bit for another awesome Lessman story you are in luck! Check out her website at http://www.julielessman.com/ for more details and exciting giveaways such as a Kindle Fire, having a character named after you in Julie's next book, $50 and $20 gift cards, and free books!!

God Bless all you wonderful ladies out there, and HAPPY READING!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Heart Revealed


This book is now in my top ten!!!

Book Rating: Best of the Best

I was not at all prepared to be so totally consumed, and truly LOVE this book as much as I do. (Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I hear a second grader sneering, “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” Very funny, Joey. Very funny.)

There are many reasons why I will certainly be re-reading this book, but one major reason stands out above the rest. And her name is Emma Malloy.

Emma is SO wonderful and I could not love her more. She is by far my very favorite heroine out of all of Lessman’s books. Her strength, faith and unending devotion are traits I would love to emulate. She has quite a haunting past, (so does Sean...) but she holds herself with grace despite it all. Oh! And the way her relationship with Sean develops is absolutely, heart-meltingly delectable!

Now, speaking of Sean…to me, he is just as amazing, and ranks up there with Luke. I may be a bit prejudice, because his personality is very much like my husband's, so I couldn’t help but like him, right?!  *teehee * Sean is a very manly man—I just swoon at how he loves Emma! Ah! Holy cow. I think I’m gonna re-read this again starting tonight.

I have to say something really quickly about Luke since I mentioned him earlier... You better have your smelling salts on-hand because, believe it or not, he just gets more scrumptious and you will likely faint from his all-consuming deliciousness. (You didn’t think it was even possible for him to be more yummy, did you? Oh, it’s possible!)

The other inter-twining stories are also just as wonderful. I mean, all of it. Totally fabulous. Need I say more?! I don’t think so. If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor, will ya? Buy it, borrow it, whatever you please, but Marvin K. Mooney will you please read it now?! *teehee *

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Hope Undaunted

*tap, tap, tap * Is this mic on? I’d like to dedicate this song to Luke McGee. “You make me feel/ You make me feel/ You make me feel like a na-tu-ral woman. Wom-a-a-an.”

Get your towels ready, ladies. Luke is 100% delicious.

Book Rating: Best of the Best

Seriously. Best of the best. I loved this book from beginning to end.

Now, if you’ve read all these books then you are familiar with all these lovely characters and know their histories. It would be hard to pick this up and read it, expecting it to make sense, if you haven’t already enjoyed the first three.

Katie O’Connor is the heroine here and honestly, I had a bit of a hard time liking her at the beginning since she is SO stubborn, but... she really grew on me and I loved her by the end. (Speaking of the end, in my opinion this was the BEST ending of all her books.)

Luke McGee was a character you came to know in the last book as Cluny. He was only a kid in that one, but “he’s all growed up” and gals, he’s a hunka-munka!! I totally fell in love and I will be surprised if you don’t swoon all over him like everyone else does. *wink * I wish I could write a 20 page essay on this guy, because there is so much depth to his character, and I LOVED everything about him. He is devoted, caring, sweet, gentle, kind, tough, rugged, manly—not to mention H-O-T! (I like to think about him looking a bit like Chris Evans of Captain America fame. Yum!)

Katie and Luke knew each other as kids and had a playful love/hate relationship. Mostly hate. But, now that they are older they can’t deny the chemistry. The problem is, Katie is in love with Jack and Luke doesn’t want anything do with her. But that’s all about to change!

ALL of Lessman’s books are wonderful and I can’t wait for you to enjoy them like I do. Her messages of Christ and faith are always uplifting and I know you will feel the desire to be more like our Savior and share His love when you read these stories.

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Twice Promised

This novel is very cute, but you wanna know what I liked the most? The title! (And as a side note, I very much dislike “faces” on the covers of books, but I really thought this girl looked like how they describe her in the story. Very pretty.)

Book Rating: Up All Night’er

I just really, really love the title of this book! TWICE PROMISED. Perfect!

This story comes right after DEEPLY DEVOTED and in that book you became acquainted with Greta Olsen, the lovely young sister of Catherine Olsen. (I have a feeling Anna’s story will be next, but I could be wrong. She’s the youngest sister by the way…*wink *)

Greta was madly in love with a man named Bryan in the previous story, but at the beginning of this book we find out that he died. Very sad. Greta saw how well the mail-order-bride thing worked out for her sister, so she gives it a try herself. Little does she know there is another woman who's come to Central City, Colorado to marry the same man! And, she knows even “littler” than that, that the man she came to marry is the brother of the man she just lost! Hooo! Crazy, huh?

I thought this story was just plain cute. I can’t think of any other word that describes it as well. You actually get to follow two couples as they fall in love—the more romance the better, right? That being said, I thought the actual romance was a bit slow at times and for some reason I had a hard time becoming very attached to the characters as adorable as they were.

Jess (the main leading man…Zach was the other one, but I won’t go into detail on him) just didn’t do it for me. I know that all leading men can’t be the same or these books would get real boring, real fast (or would they?…hmmm…Drew O’Connor…). Eh hem. I digress. There wasn’t much about him that I found appealing. I think Brendan wanted to describe how much he needed a woman’s influence in his life, but for me he came across as messy, forgetful and disorganized. So, that was a bit of a disappointment, but wasn't a complete turn-off.

Overall, very enjoyable read and I do recommend it.

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

*Thank you to Revell for the free review copy*

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Passion Denied

I liked this book for different reasons than you may think...

Book Rating: Up All Night’er

You will never read a Lessman book and be disappointed. Never. Her stories are well crafted and the romance to die for.

For some reason, this story’s main characters just didn’t do it for me. But, because I was invested in them—after getting to know them through the other books—I kept reading. And so, even though the main thread of the story wasn’t as enticing as the others, I kept on reading because, like I said, these people are family now! I gotta see what happens next! I wanted to find out what would happen with Charity and Faith, etc. (I love Charity to death now, by the way...) It was the sub-plots of the story that actually drew me in the most. I really couldn't get enough!

Lizze has been head over heels for John Brady for many moons. But, she fears he will never see her an anything more than his little buddy. So she tries to move on…but it’s almost impossible for her to forget her one true love. As for Brady, he knows that his feelings for her are growing, but for both of their sakes (he’s hiding something major), he keeps tries to keep things platonic. Good luck with that, Brady. *snicker *

Talk about drama. There is TONS of delicious drama in this novel. You will be on pins and needles until the last few pages!!

I read this so dang fast. In fact, my mother-in-law swiped it from me when I was only a few chapters in and I had to wait until she was done to finish it! But, that was OK because she was done in a few days, she loved it that much! Yep, just goes to show you won’t be able to put it down. Guaranteed.

Happy Reading!
Buy it! 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Love Surrendered

This is an excellent romance. Just remember: do as I say, not as I do.

Book Rating: Up All Night’er

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. This was Lessman’s last book about the O’Connor family and I broke a cardinal rule. Again. I read this book first! Bad idea. As much as I loved it, it was confusing to me because I had no idea who all the characters were, etc.

So, that’s why I’m telling you to do as I say, not as I do.
*cheesy grin * You really need to read these books in order. I promise they will just get better and better, and the stories will make more sense to you when you understand the family dynamics, and so forth. Some series books you can read out of order, but in my opinion you can’t with these.

I love the “pure passion” in all of Lessman’s stories. You will devour all the romance, but it never goes too far which is wonderful. The messages in this story were strong and very clear to me, and I enjoyed that a lot. Now a’days people don’t often think about the importance of purity before marriage, but in Lessman’s books I find that to be a continuing theme and I really appreciate that.

Annie Kennedy is a sweet and innocent young girl who almost gets sucked into the wrong crowd. But the O’Connor family helps her stay close to Christ. Steven O’Connor (who has been a naughty boy in younger days) is falling for her, but a HUGE secret might keep them apart.

In this story, as I mentioned in my review of A PASSION MOST PURE, the leading man had a VERY serious relationship with Annie's sister...and then he goes and falls in love with Annie. To me, it was a bit uncomfortable, but in the end it wasn't so bad. But wow, this story really kept me guessing until the last few pages.

As far as leading men go, Steven really didn't make me swoon. It's hard to put a finger on why, but let's just say I wasn't crazy about him and I didn't care too much for the way he treated Annie even though he didn't really treat her badly... Anyway, what did you think of him?

I liked this book a lot and honestly (now that I’ve read the first three Lessman books) I will go back and read it again (after I read the next two books…) because I understand who all the characters are and I know it will make more sense.

In the end, you will be very sad to finish this story. I am SO attached to all these characters and I hate to see a great series come to a close. But c’est la vie. You can go back and read them over and over if you didn’t feel like you got a good fill. I imagine that I will do just that…these people are like family now! *wink *

Happy Reading!
Buy it!

*Thank you to Revell for the free review copy*