Oh, sweet, sweet February!

Short on days, but long on love.

–Julie Lessman

 ❤️ Happy February Everyone!

And, WHOA BABY, it sure is for me! Because, you see … drum roll please … I have a new grandbaby!

Please give a big warm welcome to Wyatt Nathan Phillips, my daughter’s and son-in-law’s very first baby — WHO ARRIVED, BY THE WAY, FIVE WEEKS EARLY!! We are all walking on air right now (frigid air, to be sure, but OH SO WARM in the heart!) and loving every minute! Both baby and mama doing fine despite the early delivery!

Been pretty busy here helping out, but couldn’t resist sharing a few pix with you all of this special moment in my life.

AND TO CELEBRATE … I’ve got a NEW CONTEST, a NEW GIVEAWAY, and a NEW MARCY/PATRICK EXCERPT from Gabe’s story, A Wing and a Prayer!

So, scroll on down past the pix for all the details and be sure to enter my contest!!






❤️ Fun New Contest!

CHRISTIAN ROMANCE NEEDS YOU! Are you grateful for Christian romance? I sure am! Well, this is our chance to let our voices be heard.

Family Fiction magazine is taking a poll in which you can vote for five of your favorite authors plus your favorite type of romance story in their CHRISTIAN ROMANCE READERS POLL, which ends February 4, 2019, so only four days to vote! Results will be announced in Family Fiction’s 2018 Christian Romance Special Edition, which will be available for FREE in February.

PLEASE VOTE because it’s easy, it’s fun, AND it’s how to enter my contest below, so here’s the link:

Christian Romance Readers Poll!

Once you have voted, just come back here to enter my CHRISTIAN ROMANCE ROCKS Contest in the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this page, and you will have three chances to win. I will announce the winners in a Journal Jot blog after February 4th, so GOOD LUCK! PLEASE NOTE: You do NOT have to vote for me in Family Fiction‘s contest to enter my contest!


Grand Prize:

  —Choice of Five Top CBA Books* or $25 Amazon Gift Card

—Character Named for You/Loved One in Upcoming Release, A Wing and a Prayer

—Signed paperback copy of A Wing and a Prayer

*5 new or almost new books by top CBA authors such as Rachel Hauck,

Denise Hunter, Becky Wade, Beth Vogt, and more!


Two Runners-Up:

   —Character Named for You/Loved One in Upcoming Release, A Wing and a Prayer

—Signed paperback copy of A Wing and a Prayer


❤️ Fun New Giveaway!

Mark your calendars for a FREE DOWNLOAD of FOR LOVE OF LIBERTY on FEBRUARY 23-26!

I wanted to do this free download as a special Valentine’s giveaway mid-month, but the dates didn’t work out with KDP, so better late than never, right? Here’s the jacket blurb:

A Match Made in Heaven?
Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?

She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.

So DO mark your calendars for Feb. 23-26 and here’s the link:



 ❤️ Fun New Excerpt A Wing & A Prayer

“Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred.” Unleashing a wispy sigh, Marceline O’Connor completed her nightly hair-brushing regimen, flipping her long silver-white hair over her shoulders, where it cascaded in the loose waves that Patrick loved. She stared in the mirror, wishing she could cut it all off. But Veronica Lake had turned hair fashion on its ear with her long, sultry locks, so Patrick had begged Marcy not to cut hers either, despising the short curly bobs she’d worn in the ‘30s.

Her mouth skewed to the right. At least the war had provided one positive, introducing factory-compliant hairstyles that neatly pinned a woman’s hair back in smooth rolls on the sides and top. Consequently, by day, Marcy was able to wear a longer rolled pageboy introduced by Miss Lake on behalf of the war effort. But at night? Patrick preferred her hair loose and unfettered, spilling wild and free over her pillow. “It reminds me of our honeymoon, Marceline,” he’d say with a dangerous look in his eyes, claiming she made him feel young again.

Her blue eyes blinked in the mirror, a hint of worry etched around them along with the delicate lines of age. Because the truth was, she would do anything to keep Patrick young, at least in his heart if not his body. And tonight she planned to do just that, forestalling needless worry over the letter that had arrived from Gabe today. First with a favorite dinner, and now with a favorite nightgown. She slipped off her warm chenille robe, and goosebumps immediately popped. She far preferred flannel to satin on such a cool autumn evening, but she had to distract Patrick somehow from the arrival of Gabe’s letter.

So satin it was.

Squinting in the mirror, she assessed the lay of the gown, certain her daughters were prejudiced when they insisted she didn’t look a day over fifty. But Marcy knew better. Yes, she still remained fairly slim at age sixty-four, but it was the lines in her face and the sag of her arms that said otherwise. At least to her, if not to Patrick, who claimed she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Her lips quirked as she scurried to get under the covers. Obviously a case of blinded by love, she reasoned, compounded by questionable eyesight at the age sixty-five.

Striding into their bedroom, Patrick yanked his tie off, marching to the closet to hook it onto his belt rack on the inside of the door. “Well, I see the twins were here today.”

Marcy paused while rearranging the covers, wondering what Katie’s twin boys had gotten into now. As Marcy’s second youngest daughter, Katie had been as much a challenge growing up as her sassy older sister, Charity, who had always teased that Katie was sure to get a holy terror of a son like her Henry. Dear, sweet Henry, a wild ruffian of a boy who’d gone head-to-head with Gabe, Patrick’s own “holy terror” of a daughter. Marcy nibbled on the edge of her smile, thinking Katie had certainly one-upped her sister with two “Henrys” instead of one. “Yes, Katie was by briefly, but I didn’t think they could get into any trouble in that short amount of time. What on earth did they do?”

Patrick cast her a wary look as he unbuckled his belt to slip out of his trousers. “Apparently shaved a stuffed animal with my razor,” he said, tossing his slacks over the trouser press in a haphazard manner. He rubbed his jaw. “Unless my beard has turned from silver to brown.”

“What?” Marcy sat up in the bed, covers clutched to her chest as she bit back a smile.

“’Fraid so.” He jerked his leather belt from his pants, peering at her through shuttered eyes that held a hint of a tease. “Wasn’t sure until I found a bald-faced bear behind the commode, who now smells,” he said with a scrunch of his nose, “as bad as he looks.”

“Oh, no!” Marcy put a hand to her chest. “Not Mr. Snuggles! He was always the grandchildren’s favorite toy at naptime.”

Patrick’s smile went awry. “Well, I’m afraid Mr. Snuggle’s ‘snuggling days are over, Marceline,” he said with a twist of his lips, “along with the twins permission to be upstairs without supervision.”

Marcy plopped back on her pillow, her smile melancholy. “Goodness, Patrick, it reminds me of something Henry would do.”

“Or Gabe.” He hung his belt on the rack with a bit of melancholy in his tone, which told her he missed their youngest daughter as much as she, given the faraway smile on his handsome face. “I’ll never forget when she ruined three of my best neckties to make headbands for Indians at war, ruining your lipstick as war paint, as I recall, and feathers stabbed through.”

“I know,” Marcy said softly, her thoughts following Patrick’s into the past when Gabe was the only child at home she could dote on after the rest of her children had married and gone. Moisture pricked over how very much she missed her. And Patrick did as well, which was an out-and-out miracle given the way the two of them butted heads when Gabe had been their foster child. “I still have that lipstick, you know,” she said with a misty smile, “although I never wore it again.” She swiped at the wetness in her eyes. “I knew it would always remind me of the blessing God bestowed on us late in life, giving us that precious child.”

Patrick chuckled, the sound husky with emotion. “Although it did take a good number of years before the ‘precious’ finally came through, Marceline, at least for me.”

“And a good number of prayers as well,” Marcy said with a tender smile, “but look at you now. You miss her more than I do.”

He expelled a heavy sigh as he unbuttoned his starched white dress shirt, which now looked as rumpled as he. “You might be right there, darlin’, but only because there’s always grandchildren swarming you day in and day out. Although it’s fair to say not one of them can hold candle to Gabe in keeping one too busy to miss anything but sleep.”

“No question about that!” She paused to fortify with a deep draw of air. “Oh, and speaking of Gabe …,” she said, working hard to keep her tone light while she made casual show of adjusting the top quilt. “We received a letter from her today …”

Patrick’s head jerked up. His gray eyes pierced hers with a hint of alarm, fingers frozen on the top button of his shirt. He stood stock still in his striped undershorts. “What’s wrong?” he rasped, voice sharp with the worry she was hoping to avoid.

“Now, Patrick, nothing’s wrong,” she tried to reassure, well aware her husband fretted more over Gabe than he had all of their other six children. And that was certainly saying something given Katie’s and Charity’s antics, her two spunkiest daughters whom Patrick had always referred to as “handfuls.” Marcy tempered a heavy sigh, pretty sure their youngest daughter—the abused orphan they’d adopted—would qualify as several “armfuls.”

“Oh, there’s something wrong all right, Marceline, or you wouldn’t have waited until now to spring this on me.” He stripped the shirt off and hurled it at the hamper, revealing muscled arms, chest, and a near washboard stomach few sixty-five-year-old men could boast, thanks to an exercise regimen mandated by his doctor after several angina attacks. His hard-lined jaw was bristled with a day’s shadow of beard that glistened salt and pepper, matching ebony curls streaked with silver that made him—if possible—even more handsome.

Ripping his undershirt off, he sailed it to join the dress shirt puddled at the foot of the hamper, and Marcy couldn’t help but admire the man she married forty-seven years ago. From Southie rogue to the love of her life, Patrick O’Connor had given her decades of love and joy, complete with seven children and more than two dozen grandchildren. Was it any wonder she watched and worried over him like a mother hawk, monitoring his diet, his medicine, and any bad news?

Especially if it involved his youngest daughter.

“For heaven’s sake, Patrick, there’s nothing wrong,” Marcy insisted, sliding deeper beneath her standard mound of covers, the ones her hot-blooded husband always kicked off on his side of the bed. She was freezing, so she tugged the coverlet up over her nose with only her eyes peeking out, both to warm her chilled body and to hide the smile beneath. Because even though Patrick worried incessantly about the child responsible for most of the gray hairs in his head, Marcy had her methods of deflecting that worry. Like postponing Gabe’s letter until morning when he was better able to handle it with the least amount of stress. That way he could spend the day consumed with work as the editor of The Boston Herald rather than with the foibles of his independent daughter. Marcy watched him stalk to the bureau for fresh pajamas, her tone soothing. “I promise you, Patrick, she loves it in Sweetwater.”

The tendons of his broad shoulders twitched as he snatched his bed clothes from the drawer and slammed it closed again. He turned to face her as he slipped on the bottoms, thick dark brows arched high. “Ah, yes, Marceline, but the real question is”—he slipped the night shirt on while he buttoned it on the way to the bed—“Do they ‘love’ her?”

“Of course they love her, Patrick. She’s smart, strong, beautiful—”

Issuing a grunt, he flipped the covers onto her side and sat while he grabbed his alarm clock, winding it as tight as the tone of his voice. “Headstrong, pushy, independent—”

“Funny, street-savvy, and a defender of the weak,” Marcy declared with a lift of her chin, Gabe’s staunchest advocate since the girl first shadowed their door as a rambunctious  street orphan at the age of eight.

“You might have an argument there from the Kincaid family, darlin’ as well as those she tangles with on behalf of the weak.” Squinting, he took his time setting the clock before winding it again.

Marcy shivered—both from the cold and the need to distract her husband. “Come on, Patrick, hurry up and get in. I need you to keep me warm.”

He cluncked the clock on the nightstand before leaning to brush a quick kiss to her lips. Punching his pillow several times, he shoved it against the headboard just so in order to sit up in bed. “I’ll warm you up after I’ve read Gabe’s letter.” He extended his hand with a slant of a smile, well aware she usually kept all of Gabe’s letters in her nightstand drawer.

After Patrick had read them.

He snapped his fingers. “Hand it over, Marceline, or you’re liable to freeze to death.”

Not if I can help it, she thought with a squirm of a smile, taking him by surprise when she yanked him down to pull him close. “Unfortunately, it’s sitting on the kitchen windowsill, so you can read it tomorrow,” she said with a giggle, flinging the covers over him while she cuddled in close. “Right now you need to keep me warm.” She pressed a kiss to his chest, the clean scent of his musk soap triggering her pulse.

A tiny squeal popped from her lips when strong arms enveloped her, rolling her onto her back while Patrick hovered with a dangerous gleam in his eyes. “And I’ll be more than willing to comply, darlin’. As soon as I’ve read Gabe’s letter to make sure everything is all right.” Burrowing into her neck, he tickled her with a rash of raspy kisses before pulling away. “I’ll be right back,” he whispered.

Heart lurching, she hooked his neck to pull him back down and kiss him hard, determined to use her wiles to protect both his health and his sleep. “I need you now,” she whispered, peppering his jaw with tiny kisses. The warmth whirling low in her belly suddenly indicated her reasons were now far less noble than before. “Not in five minutes when you’ll be ice-cold.”

He molded his body to hers with a low groan, his voice a near growl as he tugged on her earlobe with his teeth. “If nothing’s wrong, then why in the devil didn’t you give me the letter downstairs?”

“I wanted to, but someone came home crabby and hungry as a bear, if you recall, so I rushed to get dinner on the table. Then I guess it slipped my mind because”—she kissed the side of his neck, breathing in his familiar scent—“I had more important things to focus on.”

She held her breath while he raised up to study her closely, one edge of his lip kicking up when his gaze lowered to her mouth. “As do I,” he whispered, easing down to explore the hollow of her throat with his lips. “I suppose the letter can wai—”He paused mid-sentence when his hands slid the length of her body. He jerked up to stare. “Now I know you’re hiding something, Marceline, so you may as well spit it out.” He cocked a brow as he hovered over her, biceps bulging. “Seriously—satin instead of flannel?”

Feigning a heavy sigh, Marcy idly stroked the bristle on his jaw. “Honestly, Patrick, can’t a wife be in the mood once in a while as well as a husband? There’s no great mystery here about Gabe’s letter. She shares a bay in the barracks with six other women, and has become best friends with two of them.” She squinted to remember their names. “Ginny and … MaryLu, I think. Anyway, orientation went well, she said, and she likes most of her PTs—Primary Trainers.”

“Most?” Patrick eased down to lie on his side and prodded an impatient palm beneath the small of her back, prompting her to turn over so he could cuddle from behind.

Marcy instantly complied, reveling in his warmth as he encircled her with his arms. “Yes, except for this one PT called Barrelton who picked on her the first day, but he’s not her primary instructor, thank God, so she’s steering clear.”

She felt the pull of Patrick’s grunt when he drew her closer. “I’ll believe it when I see it. The girl doesn’t know the definition of ‘steering clear.’” He expelled a noisy breath, warming the back of her neck. “What else?”

“Well, she said the food’s wonderful—home cooking by a woman named Mrs. Whately who everyone calls Mom.” Marcy smiled. “Gabe seems to think Mom likes her because she always gives her extra.”

“Good.” Patrick’s sigh of relief rose and fell with Marcy’s own. “That girl has always been a runt, so she can use some fattening up. What else?”

“Oh, she’s excited because there’s a swimming pool on the base, apparently, and a rodeo nearby at something called the Double Heart Ranch.”

“Sweet mother of Job. I hope she doesn’t think she’s on vacation.”

“No, it seems to me that flying is her focus because she gushed on and on for several paragraphs about the prospect of flying high-powered fighter and bomber aircraft like B-17s and B-29s.”

He chuckled, and the motion tickled her skin. “Now there’s a worrisome thought.”

Marcy squeezed his arm. “So, see? She loves it there, Patrick. There’s nothing to worry about.”

“Nothing to worry about.” He grunted. “Yes, well that remains to be seen.”

I hope. Marcy’s tongue swiped her teeth in nervous habit, her thoughts straying to the one line in Gabe’s letter she purposely omitted. The one she knew would upset her husband.

“Unfortunately, my assigned instructor, lieutenant Kincaid, and I got off on the wrong foot at introductions,” Gabe had written, “but then, I guess his name alone should have clued me in to that, not to mention his arrogant and bossy manner.”

Marcy swallowed hard, well aware Gabe didn’t do well with “bossy.” The Kincaid boys were certainly proof of that.

And her husband didn’t do well when Gabe didn’t do well.

She caught her breath when Patrick feathered the back of her neck with his mouth. “Anything else?” he asked, his voice edging toward husky.

“No, I think that’s most of it, but you can read it for yourself tomorrow, so I hope you’re satisfied.”

His chuckle rumbled low in her ear as he burrowed in to kiss the back of her neck. “Not yet, darlin’,” he whispered, his hands taking free reign, “but I will be. And when I’m done warming you up”—he skimmed the length of her gown until satin gave way to skin—“You should be too.”


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