“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”
Oh. My. Goodness!!! I woke up this morning and suddenly the year was half over — YIKES!!
Happy July 1st, everybody, and I hope you’re gearing up to celebrate our great country with a great Fourth of July!
But … if you don’t mind, for today’s Journal Jot, I’m going to take my cue from Hallmark Movie Channel and bring you “Christmas in July”!
Because all four of the Seeker Christmas novella collections (two historical, two contemporary) are now on sale for only 99 cents, so if you haven’t read Charity & Mitch’s story, “A Whisper of Hope” in the Hope for the Holidays collection or Lizzie & Brady’s “The Best Gift of All” in the Home for Christmas collection, this is a GREAT time to dive in!
Not only do you get to catch up with the O’Connors again (and all that lovely fun, passion, drama, and angst), you get to read novellas by award-winning authors Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Debby Giusti, Audra Harders, Pam Hillman, Myra Johnson, Sandra Leesmith, Ruth Logan Herne, Tina Radcliffe, and Missy Tippens as well, and all for 99 cents per collection — that’s less than 25 cents per novella!!
To help get you in the Christmas spirit, I am posting a short clip from both Charity & Mitch’s story and Lizzie & Brady’s at the end of this blog today, so here are the links if you want to do some early Christmas shopping! 🙂
WHOO-HOO … WE HAVE A WINNER FROM LAST WEEK’S KISSING CONTEST!
Mega thanks to all of you who entered my favorite-kiss contest, and I was thrilled to see that the winning kiss was also my favorite — #2 between Katie & Luke, THE KISS THAT UNLEASHES HIDDEN ATTRACTION.
So without further ado, the winner of an ecopy of both my new contemporary, Isle of Hope, and its prequel novella, A Glimmer of Hope is:
SUPER CONGRATS to Tara, and if you already have IOH for AGOH, I’ll substitute with book 2 in the Isle of Hope series, Love Everlasting, which releases this September.
And speaking of Love Everlasting, I promised a cover reveal for this upcoming book 2 in the Isle of Hope series, so here it is!
Love Everlasting is the love story for Shannon O’Bryen and Sam Cunningham, Shannon’s brother, Jack’s, “player” doctor coworker. Here’s the jacket blurb:
He sets hearts on fire.
She’s been burned by love.
Can hope survive the flames of the past?
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 baby, 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?
I am hoping to release Love Everlasting in September, so stay tuned for the actual date, okay? And come back next week, and I’ll give you a sneak peek at the first chapter!
As you know, I am part of the Heart & Soul book bundle of five novels from five award-winning authors, and we need reviews!!
So anyone who has read A Light in the Window (my novel in the bundle) or any of the other four novels can post a short review on only one of the books or more. And if you do, just email me through the CONTACT JULIE tab of this website or message me on FACEBOOK, and I will give you ten points in my contest to have a character named after you in Love Everlasting as well as a copy of that book.
OR … if you have already written a review for A Light in the Window or any of the other novels in the bundle, PLEASE post that review for Heart & Soul as well.
If you haven’t reviewed any of the books but have read one or more of them, PLEASE consider posting a short 1- or 2-line review stating you liked the book or books, okay? That would be a HUGE help to me and the other authors in Heart & Soul. Here’s the link where you can post your review and THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!
And now, in honor of both Fourth of July and Christmas in July, I thought it might be fun to give you a few “fireworks” with similar love scenes from both Lizzie & Brady’s story and Charity & Mitch’s.
Happy Fourth, Happy Weekend, and Happy Reading!
Home for Christmas Historical Romance Collection
Teddy led Molly from the room, and Brady lost no time in tugging Lizzie onto his lap, where she leaned against his chest as he told her about his day. His voice was as serene and mesmerizing as when Lizzie was a lovesick little girl of thirteen, and Brady the new business partner of her brother-in-law Collin. Closing her eyes, she smelled the peppermint candy he kept at the shop for children, and the scent ushered back the feelings of awe and hero worship she’d always had for John Brady.
She startled when he buried his head in her neck, his warm sigh tickling her skin. The scent of soap and ink and peppermint filled her senses. “I need you, Lizzie,” he said quietly.
She pulled away, heart racing at the gravity of his tone. “Why, John? What’s wrong?”
He shook his head, a faint smile shadowing his lips as he studied her. “Nothing,” he assured, the dark bristle on his jaw giving him an almost reckless air. So unusual for her rock-steady husband, an unshakable man of God. His broad chest rose and fell as he fondled a lock of her hair. “Do you have any idea how long it’s been since we’ve been alone?”
She squinted, trying to understand his question. “But, we’re alone every night, John.”
He traced her chin with the pad of his thumb, his eyes locked on hers with an intensity that made her mouth go dry. “No, Lizzie, I mean really alone, when I can talk to you without interruption and when we’re not too exhausted to connect like we used to. Where I can hold you and share what’s in my heart, pray with you, and make love to you without anything else stealing your attention away.”
Blood heated her cheeks and she swallowed hard. “What do you mean?” she whispered.
His quiet smile heated the rest of her body in a manner she hadn’t felt in a long, long while. Feathering her jaw, his fingers trailed her throat. “Twenty-nine years old, ten years of marriage, three children and one on the way, and you’re still the most innocent woman I’ve ever met.” He leaned in to nuzzle her ear. “I mean,” he emphasized, tone sober, “I need you, Lizzie—your laughter, your encouragement, your gentleness, your love—and not just in my bed. I need you in my heart and my mind, to feel your love like before, when it was just you and me.”
Her eyes drifted closed. Oh, Brady … we’re parents now. It could never be the same as before—didn’t he understand that? She was a mother, with responsibilities to her children …
As if sensing her hesitation, he cupped her face, eyes searching hers with a vulnerability she’d never seen in John Brady before. “Come to bed with me, Lizzie,” he whispered. “I need to be close to you, hold you, talk to you, pray about where I’ve been in my mind lately.”
She stroked his cheek, heart expanding. “Oh, John, there’s nothing I’d rather do.”
With a low groan, he drew her close, his mouth capturing hers with a passion that took her breath away. “So help me, Elizabeth, I grow more desperately in love with you every day.”
Brady’s hold stiffened as Lizzie looked up. Molly stood at the door in her nightgown, feet bare and tears swimming in her eyes. Her little chest heaved as she clutched a ragdoll to her chest. “T-teddy t-told me about Hansel and Gretel, and I’m s-scared a witch is under my bed.”
Hope for the Holidays Historical Romance Collection
Charity 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 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?”