“His breathing was ragged like hers, warm and sweet
with the faint scent of chocolate from his chocolate cream pie, and when his gaze
lowered to her lips, heat coiled through her so strong,
it sapped all moisture from her throat.
—A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story
—by Julie Lessman
Okay, okay, I have an addiction to romance, but thankfully, only the kind with God in the middle. And guess what I’ve learned through 34 years of marriage?? Passion for romance is not only what God wants for us, but also what He wants from us—passion in our romance with Him that leaves us breathless and cherished and oh, SO very grateful for His hand in our lives.
As a matter of fact, I’m pretty crazy about passion in any form, be it spiritually or romantically, which is why I am SO excited about my upcoming Christmas e-book, A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story. Not only was I passionate about writing this prequel to Marcy and Patrick’s story in the first place, but I’m passionate about the cover my talented artist husband created (which features my daughter Amy holding a snow globe that is part of the story) AND the story itself!
A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story begins in 1895 following a decade of explosive industrial growth and immigration that Mark Twain called America’s “Gilded Age,” when the nation plummets into the worst economic depression at that time.
Marceline O’Connor and her best friend Julie O’Rourke have been selected to assist Sister Mary Frances with the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen. The play is called A Light in the Window, based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome strangers as if welcoming the Holy Family.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about this story is because of the poignant message behind this beautiful Irish custom, a message driven home by the play itself and Marcy’s grandmother Mima when she arrives for Christmas. Mima cautions Marcy to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the “light in the window,” meaning the message of Christ in her heart. Marcy soon discovers that although two men have professed their undying love for her, only one has responded to “the light in the window.” This is a message I learned myself as a young woman and a message I long to pass on.
And so, in honor of the release of my final cover, I thought it fitting to give you another sneak peek at this very special story, which will be available for pre-order SOON (as an e-book only, although I will have some contests where I will send a printed ms. out to the winner if need be).
But before I do, here are a few opportunities for you to win a copy of it or any of my books, including A Love Surrendered.
HURRY!! THE FOLLOWING GIVEAWAY ENDS TODAY, FRIDAY, 8/17, AT 5:00 PM CENTRAL TIME!!
Join me for my Seeker post entitled “Kiss-ology 101: Warming up the Pages with Romantic Tension.” I’ll include plenty of excerpts from upcoming books and have a giveaway of any of my books including A Love Surrendered or A Light in the Window, so hope to see you there!
AUGUST 17-22, 2012:
Win your choice of any of my books INCLUDING A Love Surrendered or A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story (e-book only) at HARDCOVER FEEDBACK BLOG. Hope to see you there! Here’s the link:
AUGUST 24 – 25, 2012:
THREE CHANCES TO WIN!!! Win your choice of any of my books INCLUDING A Love Surrendered or A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story (e-book only) at INKSPIRATIONAL MESSAGES BLOG. Hope to see you there! Here’s the link:
And now, without further ado, here is a sneak peek at a scene from A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story where Marcy and Patrick are doing dishes at the St. Mary’s soup kitchen where they both volunteer, following a very serious discussion about Marcy and her romantic relationship with Sam O’Rourke.
A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story
One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?
“Shall we toss to see who mops the floor?” she asked, forcing a levity to her tone she didn’t quite feel.
He slipped the now damp dishtowel over a brass hook bolted to the side of the cabinet and turned, a glimmer of tease invading his serious gaze. “Odd, I wouldn’t have pegged you for a gambling woman, Miss Murphy.” He slanted against the counter, arms folded.
She flipped a stray curl over her shoulders and sashayed into the kitchen, dishrag in hand and a smirk on her face. “Of course I am, Mr. O’Connor—I gambled on friendship with you, didn’t I?”
Fishing a coin from his pocket, he shot her a grin. “That was a matter of intelligence, not risk.” He lobbed a nickel at her and she caught it one-handed, coaxing a throaty chuckle from his lips. “Why do I get the feeling you’ve done this before, Marceline?”
“Because I have,” she said with a cocky smile, feeling a bit reckless. She strutted over and fisted her hand, thumb tucked and dishrag dangling while she positioned the coin on top. “Julie and I used to toss to see who got to read a book first, you know.”
His teeth gleamed white. “How decadent.”
Her smile was smug. “No, Mr. Wiseacre, ‘decadent’ will be me enjoying an oatmeal cookie at the table with feet propped while you mop the floor.” She arched a brow. “Ready?” With practiced dexterity, she popped her thumb beneath the nickel, and it launched in the air, her breathing suspended while the coin toppled over and over.
Plunk. With a devious smile, Patrick snatched it just inches from her hand and slapped it on top of his. “Call it.”
She pursed her lips, eyes squinted as she tried to visualize which side of the coin it might be. “Heads,” she said with a confident hike of her chin, praying her intuition was correct.
His groan rose in the air when he lifted his palm. “I hate mopping the floor,” he muttered, slipping the nickel back in his pocket.
Giddy over her win, she giggled. “Don’t be a baby, Patrick, a little soapy water won’t hurt you.” Mischief bubbled up along with her laughter as she sloshed the rag in the sudsy dishwater and flicked it at him, intending only to splatter a few drops his way. She gasped when the rag accidentally flew from her hand. Eyes wide, her jaw dropped as it pelted him in the face and fell to the floor, leaving soapy water sluicing down his dark-bristled cheek. “Oh, P-patrick, I am so s-sorry …” Her voice trailed off into a fit of giggles she could no more stop than the water stains that dribbled down his trousers into a puddle at his feet.
“Oh, you shouldn’t have done that, darlin’ …” he said with a glint of retaliation. Whisking the sopping rag up off of the floor, he squeezed it with a lightning thrust of his arm, showering Marcy’s torso—and Miss Clara’s apron front—with soapy water.
Marcy shrieked and giggled, but not before dousing Patrick’s chest with a slash of her hand in the sink, slamming him with a wave of dirty dishwater before she darted away. Flushed with excitement, she felt like a little girl again, having a pillow fight with Julie. Adrenaline coursed while she scrambled to the other side of the table, her breathing hard and hands braced to a chair. “Come on, Patrick—truce,” she begged, tone breathless.
Dipping the dishrag into the dirty water once again, he casually tossed the sodden rag back and forth while he ambled toward the table with a wicked grin. “Sure, Marceline—right after I even the score.”
Her stomach skittered as she pleaded, eyes darting to the door and back with a nervous laugh. “Miss Clara will be back any minute, and she said not to start any trouble.”
Step by step, his grin never wavered as he rounded the table. “I didn’t.”
“Patrick, please—I’ll be good, I promise.” Her body pulsed with adrenaline as she skirted the table in the opposite direction, praying Miss Clara would return before she got soaked.
His husky chuckle sent goose bumps up her arms. “I know, Marcy—good and wet.”
With a wild shriek she made a break for the door, laughing so hard, she didn’t hear him coming until he whirled her around. Her laughter turned to squeals when she tried to get away, but he clamped a steel arm to her waist while he held the rag dangerously close to her neck. “Repeat after me, Marceline,” he whispered, eyes issuing a challenge. “Patrick, I’m a brat, I’m sorry, and I will never do this again.”
Pulse sprinting, she giggled, eyes flicking from him to the rag in his hand, weighing her options. “And if I don’t?”
One dark brow jutted high as his smile eased into a grin. “You won’t have to bathe tonight, darlin’.”
His words warmed both her cheeks and her temper. “You wouldn’t,” she dared.
“Only one way to find out.” There was a bit of the devil in his eye, the rag dangling precariously close to her neck
Marcy sucked in a deep breath. “All right, Patrick,” she said, skin tingling with mischief and eye on the rag, “I’m a brat, I’m sorry, and I … won’t promise—” Lunging, she whipped the rag from his hands so fast, he never saw it coming, christening him with dirty dishwater like Father Fitz christened babies in the back of the church.
He hooked her waist before she could escape, and her high-pitch giggles merged with his husky laughter as she flailed in his arms, a death grip on the soppy rag thrashing over their heads. Dishwater flew every which way while he tried to reclaim it, but Marcy hid it behind her back with squeals of laughter. Locking her to his chest with one arm, he circled her waist with his other, his breath warm on her cheek as he grappled to claim the win.
“Give … it … up … Patrick,” she breathed, her words punctuated by shrieks and shallow rasps as she tried to wrestle free, “you will … never win …”
Her words seemed to paralyze him, and in a single heave of her breath, his body stilled against hers. She could feel the ragged rise and fall of his chest, the hot press of his arm at the small of her back, the wild hammering of her pulse in her ears. All at once, she was painfully aware of his nearness, bare inches away from the dark stubble that peppered his jaw. His hard-muscled chest was so close she could almost feel the dampness of his shirt while the familiar scent of spices and pine whirled her senses. His breathing was ragged like hers, warm and sweet with the faint scent of chocolate from his chocolate cream pie, and when his gaze lowered to her lips, heat coiled through her so strong, it sapped all moisture from her throat.
The silence was deafening as he stared, a battle waging in eyes that eclipsed to a dark fervor, shocking her when they quivered her belly. “I will never give up, Marceline,” he whispered, his words a tender caress. His lips parted to emit shallow breaths, and fire singed when his glance flickered to her mouth once again.
“T-take it …” she whispered, alarm curling in her stomach. Dear Lord, had he meant to kiss me? Prodding the rag to his chest, she pushed him away while heat throbbed in her cheeks. She took an awkward step back, gaze on the floor as she buffed at her arms with brisk motion. “Goodness, Miss Clara will have our hides,” she said with nervous chuckle, unable to look at him even yet. “You win, Patrick—I surrender.” She forced a casual tone and attempted to side-step him on her way to the broom closet.
Her heart seized when he halted her with a gentle hand. “Marcy …” His voice was somber and steeped with regret. “Please forgive me …”
“For what?” A deep voice sounded from the door, shattering what was left of Marcy’s calm.