Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dare to Love Again

Before this book I never cared much for San Francisco.

Not any more!

Before this book the name "Nick" was synonymous with a fat-middle-aged-hairy-Greek-dude.

Not any more!

Before this book I thought Julie Lessman was one of the best writers out there--

And this book proved SHE ABSOLUTELY IS!!!!

Book Rating: Up All Night'er

Oh, friends. What can I say? Once you start this book, you won't want to stop!! I went into this expecting something a bit different than her others, because I'd heard tell that is was somewhat milder (in number of kisses, etc) than her others. But WOW! Even though there were fewer kisses, the passion and tension was as strong as ever and her characters are full of life and simply jump off the pages. Her ability to draw you into a book, and play to all your senses is unparalleled. I can always see, smell, touch, taste and hear everything that happens. I love it!

When Allison and Nick first meet, they don't think much of each other. So when Nick is contracted to teach Allison jiu-jitsu neither of them are thrilled. But the sparks between them are undeniable--and from there, ladies, the passion is only just beginning.

Let's take a second here to talk about Nick. Oh wow. I like to think of him looking like Henry Cavill--only with greener eyes. *sigh* So dreamy. He's tough as nails on the outside, and just a cuddly teddy bear on the inside. Awwww! What's not to love about that?! The drama that ensues between him and Allison is great, and their relationship is SO fun.

The other story that is happening--between Cait and Logan--now, THAT was killer. GAH! I cannot wait until the next book to find out what happens with them. Their relationship is riddled with heart-thrashing drama. Literally, I am still thinking about it. LOVE IT!

Actually, one of the really great things about this story is how Julie kind of gives you a tour of "historic" San Fran! I had so much fun being a "fly on the wall" as Allison and Nick made their way through town on the trolley car (and I could totally relate to Nick's um... well... let's just say I'm not fond of trolleys either....*teehee*). Chinatown--for example--just came to life for me. I could read that again and again.

If you haven't read any of Julie's books yet, you are in for a HUMUNGONORMOUS (just invented that word... it means REALLY REALLY BIG.....) treat. *grin*

Have you read it yet?! You loved it, right?

I knew it. *wink*

~Thank you to Revell for my free copy in exchange for my honest review~

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Julie Lessman Interview


I am SO excited I can hardly keep my head on straight!! As you know, I'm a HUGE fan of master-writer Julie Lessman and today I am honored to have her join me for an interview about her new and FABULOUS novel DARE TO LOVE AGAIN. (A side note here . . . I've been known to fly through Julie's books in a single day--forgetting everything {and I mean everything} in order to finish the book. This one is now exception! I seriously cannot wait to write my review--I already have a rough draft nailed down and I'm just itching to post it!!)

Below you will find Julie's delightful answers to my questions. Please leave a comment below and make sure you enter Julie's contests, follow her on FB and sign up for her newsletters, etc! She is AMAZING about connecting with her readers, so make sure you let her know how much you love her!

AND . . . da da da da!!! {trumpets} Julie is doing a GIVEAWAY for you delightful women--aren't you lucky?! *teehee* Comment below and on Jan 22 I will be picking one lucky winner who will be the recipient of a Lessman book of their choice!! Spantabulous, right?! Be sure to comment below and leave your email addy!!

IF by some strange twist of fate you are visiting from Mars and this is your first exposure to Julie, then you are in for a REAL treat! *giggle* Seriously though--if you are new to Julie's books, do yourself a favor and start with her first novel A PASSION MOST PURE. I promise you, your life will never be the same. *wink*

Enjoy the interview, ladies!!

1.) Tell us what you have in common with Allison and what is totally different?

LOL … almost nothing except the temper and the drama-queen tendency, although I want to go on record right now that I have never hit my hubby with a stick!  Allison is adventurous—I am not. Allison is brave in a scary part of town—I am not. She was engaged or nearly so three times before she met Nick, while I had trouble finding even one guy to pop the question. Fortunately for me, it was the RIGHT guy!!  As far as other commonalities, Alli is perky and bouncy and a wee bit scatterbrained, and so am I, so check—check—check!

2.) Did you write Nick to be 'like' anyone particular?

Not particularly, but he sort of came out as a grouchy mix of Magnum P.I. and Columbo—a tall, dark Italian police detective who’s as disheveled as Peter Falk’s raincoat and as adorable as a young Tom Selleck’s dimples.

3.) For those who haven't read it, of all your other heroes, who is he most like?

Well, once I started getting to really “know” him—his short fuse, stormy eyes, and no-nonsense manner—I realized he reminds me a lot of one of my favorite heroes I’ve written, Mitch Dennehy from A Passion Redeemed. The difference between the two is Mitch has blond hair and blue eyes, and was a sophisticated bad boy, while Nick has dark hair and gray-green eyes and is leery of women—especially “society dames” like Allison—since he was betrayed by one. But where Charity bats her eyelashes and plots to get Mitch to do things her way, Alli simply whacks Nick with a stick, which he generally breaks in half before he stomps out and slams the door.

4.) Can you give us a hint of your favorite scene in this book?

Mmm … a “hint” implies anything short, and we both know I don’t do “short” well.  So, here’s one of my favorites where Officer Nick Barone has been strong-armed by Alli’s Uncle Logan to teach Alli jiu-jitsu—the new self-defense method popularized by then President Teddy Roosevelt. Keep in mind that Alli has already whacked Detective Barone with a stick two or three times by now in the book, so he’s not real thrilled, but this will give you some idea of the head-butting that goes on when Alli shows up for her first lesson in her bicycle bloomers and straw hat:

“Take the hat off,” he ordered, refusing to teach jiu-jitsu to anyone wearing ribbons and straw.
“Pardon me?”
He nodded at her head. “The hat—we’re not bicycling through Union Square, Miss McClare, we’re learning self-defense. You need to be unencumbered for freedom of movement.”
She blinked, a long sweep of black lashes fanning her face. “But . . . but . . . I’ll always be wearing a hat, won’t I?” she said in a rational tone. “I mean, if the need for self-defense should arise?” He could almost feel the flutter of lashes. “Shouldn’t I learn the same way?”
His jaw started to grind. “Not in my class, lady. Take it off.”
Her jaw elevated at least an inch. “Not unless you ask nicely.”
He kneaded his temples with his fingers, counting to five slowly before finally peering up. “Take it off, Miss McClare—now.” He forced the next word through clenched teeth. “Please.”
“Certainly,” she said with a bright smile, unpinning the hat from her head. She carefully laid it aside and turned to face him, hands clasped behind her back. “Shall we begin?”
His gaze dropped to her flat leather shoes. “You’ll need to take off your shoes as well.”
She arched a brow.
“Please,” he said sharply.
Lowering his head, he pinched the bridge of his nose, smothering a groan. “Miss McClare,” he said, glancing up through tired eyes, “we both have had a long day, and I have a long night ahead. It would go so much easier for both of us if you would simply defer to me as the teacher in this class just like your students do with you.”
“But even I tell my students why, Mr. Barone,” she said softly.
He drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “All right, Miss McClare, point taken.” He slacked a leg, hands low on his hips. “Whenever I teach a class to the officers within the precinct, I ask them to remove their shoes to avoid wear and tear on the mat, which is very expensive, you see, and socks or stockings help to keep it clean.”
“Well, now, see?” she said sweetly, promptly slipping off her low-heeled shoes, “That makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Thank you.”
Yeah, perfect sense. He issued a silent groan. Unlike this class.
She carefully tiptoed over and tested a toe on the rubber mat like she was taking a dip in a lake before slowly inching in to stand before him, hands clasped behind once again.
He stared down at her as she peered up, her green eyes calm for the moment. In her stockinged feet, she barely came to his shoulders, and he shook his head, a smile inching up on one side of his mouth. “Blue blazes, woman, you’re a little mite of a thing, you know that?”
She arched a brow, the barest semblance of a smile shadowing her lips. “But big enough to whop you with a stick, Mr. Barone.”
“Don’t remind me,” he said with a short bow at the waist. “I guess I should be grateful you didn’t bring it.”
She returned the bow. “No need, it’s right down the hall.”
“Thanks for the warning.” He took a step back. “First we limber up with warm-up exercises, loosen those muscles, if you will.” He demonstrated with his hands on his hips while he performed several squats. She followed suit nicely while they continued to a count of twenty. Next he ran her through the paces with leg lunges and several sprints around the room.
Ten minutes later she was leaning against the wall with a palm to her chest, huffing and puffing. “I . . . already . . . know . . . how . . . to . . . run, . . . Mr. . . . Barone,” she said in between breaths, a hint of irritation in her voice.
With a jerk of his head, he motioned her back to the mat, grinning when she huffed out a sigh and shuffled over, lips compressed as she stood before him.
Tempering his smile, he folded his arms and gave her a half-lidded gaze. “Basic rules,” he snapped. “No striking, punching, or kicking unless part of the exercise. And no eye gouging, hair pulling, twisting, or grabbing fingers, understood?”
A hint of a smile twitched on her face. “Sure, take away all my fun.”
The corner of his mouth hooked. “And no sticks, though I know that’ll break your heart.”
“You have no idea.”
“Oh, I think I do. Now, since the most likely advance of danger will come from an arm choke from behind, I’ll teach you a series of moves to counter it, all right?”
She nodded, eyes wide as she fiddled with her nails.
“First off, I’ll show you the steps by having you choke me from behind, which,” he said with a teasing jag of his brow, “should thrill you to no end.” He grabbed one of the chairs from a nearby stack and placed it on the mat, then tapped the back of it. “Hop up here.”
Her lips thinned.
“Please,” he said quickly, quite certain she’d have him trained way before he trained her.
Carefully placing her palms on the seat, she positioned a tiny stocking-clad foot on the edge of the chair and made a shaky attempt at rising with dignity, taking so long that Nick blew out a noisy breath and plucked her up by that tiny waist to plop her on top. She spun around and slapped hands to her hips. “I am perfectly capable of scaling a chair, Mr. Barone.”
“I’m well aware, Miss McClare, but if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to finish sometime tonight.” He slowly turned his back on her, never more grateful she didn’t have a stick. Limbs loose at his sides, he butted up to the edge of the chair. “Now choke me from behind with one arm, okay?” His voice veered toward sarcastic. “And try not to enjoy it.”
He waited. Nothing. Nerves twitched everywhere in his body until a light bulb went off in his brain as if Miss McClare were dangling it overhead herself. He huffed out a sigh. “Please.”

5.) What's the message you hope people will take away from DARE TO LOVE AGAIN?

Basically that trust in God is FAR more important in a relationship than trust in the other person. When I pitched the series to my publisher, here’s what I told them about Dare to Love Again, which will give you a little more insight into the message I intended.

1-Line Premise:
A sassy socialite burned by love twice butts heads and hearts with a jaded cop burned by the upper class.

Moral Premise:
Avoiding relationship because of past hurt leads to bitterness and loneliness, but investing in relationship in light of past hurts and God’s help leads to communication and love.

Scripture Theme:
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. —Psalm 33:22


Thank you SO much, Amber, for this wonderful opportunity! 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/.

Also, I have a cool blog 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 will 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.

And finally, just as an FYI for your readers:

CURRENT GIVEAWAYS/SALES/CONTESTS GOING ON RIGHT NOW: For those interested in reading my books, I have a number of fun things going on, so I hope you’ll take advantage of these opportunities:

JAN. 16 IS THE LAST DAY TO ENTER “SPIRIT OF SAN FRANCISCO” GIVEAWAY! In honor of my new release DARE TO LOVE AGAIN, my publisher is giving away a $100 gift card, Ghiradelli Chocolate Tower, Fisherman's Wharf Bread Basket & more ... plus copies of my "Love at Any Cost" and "Dare to Love Again." Here’s the link, so GOOD LUCK!! http://bit.ly/1d5crDt.

FREE DOWNLOAD of my debut novel A Passion Most Pure! American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, A Passion Most Pure has 328 five-star reviews on Amazon and some of readers have actually read it more than 20 times! Here are the links for your free download!  AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, CHRISTIANBOOKSTORE.COM

Newsletter Contest!! Want to have a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy of that book, and a $50 gift card? Well, here’s your chance with a newsletter contest I have going on now through 3/31/14 where posting even one short review for any of my books will enter you to win a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy, and if you are the top poster, a $50 gift card. So if you're interested, just sign up for my newsletter (I send out two a year) at http://www.julielessman.com/sign-up-for-newsletter/, and I will send you the info, okay?

SALE TO END SOON ON 99-CENT A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW! I hope you’ll check out
my video for my Irish love story, A Light in the Window, which stars my daughter and has won three awards and garnered 121 five-star reviews. It’s still only 99 CENTS, but only for a little while longer, so check out the video here: http://bit.ly/1kkzvlC.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January's Author of the Month

Welcome to 2014!!!

I'm so excited about this year! There's a lot of fun things planned (big changes for me...which I will be announcing soon...) and TONS of FABULOUS books set to be released, so hold on to your feathered-hats, ladies, it's gonna be a BLAST!

This month I'm thrilled to feature a great friend of mine, fellow blogger and author extraordinaire--Naomi Rawlings! I've just read and reviewed her latest book THE WYOMING HEIR (which releases today, by the way!) and I'm very excited to get to know her more, aren't you?

What a great way to start off the year!! Thank you so much for being with me this month, Naomi!!

First, tell us about you! Please include something fun/unique that we might not know. :)

I'm pretty  boring, really. I live in northern Michigan, way way way northern Michigan, where we get really cold temperatures and lake effect snow to the tune of 200 inches a year. Everyone in my family likes to snowshoe--even my three year old, and my husband is a modern day backwoodsman. As I'm typing this, he's got a dozen or so animal pelts sitting in our shed and ready to take to the fur buyer when he comes through town next.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? At what point did you feel God calling you to do this?

No, I didn't always want to be a writer. In fact, I stumbled upon it rather by accident. I had an English degree and a small child I stayed home with. Plus I was bored and had exhausted all my friends supplies of romance novels, so one afternoon I sat down and decided to write one . . . Three years and four manuscripts later, I had my first contract.

As for God calling me to write, I know I'm in His will and doing what He wants at this point in my life, but I never had any divine God moment where God told me I HAD to write. It was more just a sense and desire God put into my spirit during the time I was first learning the craft.

Your books are gripping! How do you decide what you will write about?

Ha! Not the usual way, I can tell you that much. I'm a bit of an oddball when it comes to writing and how I think about it. I usually decide to write a book because there's an underlying message I want to convey. I've done books about forgiveness, redemption, honesty, human value, and loving your enemies. This leads me to write stories set in rather unusual places like the French Revolution or Michigan's Upper Peninsula (where I live). The Wyoming Heir is a bit of exception in that I didn't start with a theme or message. This book I wrote because way back when I was trying to sell my first French novel, everyone was telling me I was ready to be published but no publisher wanted a French story. So I came up with a cowboy story that I thought might interest publishers and then decided on a theme from there. The theme ended up being about obedience.

What are FIVE of your favorite things-- doesn't have to be book related!

Oh, wow. I'm singing the Marie von Trapp song in my head after that question. :-) Okay, I'm going to answer assuming that God and family are already givens.

1. Books
2. Friends
3. Lake Superior
4. Snow
5. Hiking

What is your favorite Bible scripture and/or story?

1 Corinthians 15:10--"But by the grace of God, I am what I am . . ." I love this verse because it's a constant reminder that God created me just the way He wanted me, even with all my flaws and imperfections. And His grace will sustain me through the flaws and imperfections and trials.

How much fun! Thank you Naomi, for this great interview!

And ladies, it's not over yet. Naomi is doing a GIVEAWAY of her latest release THE WYOMING HEIR so if you want to be entered, be sure to comment below and leave your email addy!!

Hugs and Happy Reading to you all!!