Gabe had always been one who knew what she wanted
and just how to get it, and she certainly had never been
a woman to dally. So in the split second that she felt the
catch of his breath, she didn’t pause. She didn’t think.
She simply kissed him.
With everything in her, heart thundering over the single
most earth-shattering moment of her young life.
She was in love!
—A Wing and a Prayer, by Julie Lessman
❤️ Happy V-Day, Everyone!
Yep, it’s THE #1 day for romance, so I hope you get a chance to either snuggle up with your honey OR a honey of a romance novel because love is definitely in the air!
V-Day is a very special holiday for all of us romance readers and writers, of course, but this year especially for me! Why? Well, because I am celebrating two V-Days. Both today — Valentine’s Day — and in a little over one month, another “V-Day” when I release my brand-new new WWII novel, A Wing and a Prayer.
Oh boy, oh boy — I cannot wait to introduce the grown-up Gabe O’Connor to the world, so buckle up for some high-flying adventures that will make her sister Charity look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm!
If you haven’t pre-ordered at the pre-order discount, why not? Trust me, the price goes up on March 17, when A Wing and a Prayer takes flight on Amazon, so I hope you take advantage!
AND … to pique your interest, I’ve included a sneak-peek excerpt at the end of this blog, but until then, here’s the link and the jacket blurb:
She’s dead-set on giving everything to the war overseas …
Even if it means losing everything in a war of the heart.
A street orphan abused and abandoned by an alcoholic father at age five, Gabriella (Gabe) O’Connor has never let a man stand in her way yet. So when a handsome flight officer thwarts her plans to become a Women Airforce Service Pilot, she’s determined to join the war effort anyway she can. Her chance comes when she “borrows” foreign correspondent credentials from the Boston Herald—where her father is the editor—to stow away on a medical ship to the front.
Lieutenant Reece Kincaid pegs Gabe O’Connor as trouble the moment she steps foot on Avenger Field as a WASP cadet. As the eldest brother of a boy whose jaw Gabe broke in grade school, Reece is familiar with her reputation as both a charismatic ringleader and a headstrong hooligan who’s challenged every male and nun from grade school to college. As her WASP flight instructor, Reece eventually expels Gabe when she pulls a dangerous stunt. But when he is an evacuation pilot in France eight months later, their lives intertwine once again, exposing them to a danger as perilous as the German tanks roaming the Reichswald Forest: a love that neither expects.
💕 We Have Winners!
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who entered my “Christian Fiction Rocks” contest! What can I say but you guys ROCK just as much!
And now it’s my pleasure to announce the grand-prize winner of their choice of a Kindle Fire OR $50 Amazon G.C., a character named for them in Gabe’s book and a signed copy, and choice of the IOH e-series or 4 of my other indies in e-book.
AND THE WINNER IS:
So, SUPER CONGRATS to Linda!
But … because so many of you knocked yourselves out in this contest, I’ve decided to randomly pick two additional winners who will have characters named for them in Gabe’s story and a signed paperback copy when they come out. And those winners are:
I will be in touch, ladies, so, thank you ALL again for your incredible support!
💕 Valentine’s Week Giveaways!
In honor of Valentine’s Week, I am hosting two separate Facebook Flash giveaways, so be sure to come by and leave a comment to enter!
❤️ FEBRUARY 14-16: Win Tina Radcliffe’s “Finding the road Home” in your choice of PAPERBACK OR E-BOOK. NOTE: My apologies, but U.S. and Canada residents only.
Can they find their fresh start with roadblocks around every corner?
To care for her orphaned nieces and nephews, Daisy Anderson moved to a small town for a new deputy position—but now her job could be eliminated. With potential budget cuts looming, her only hope is to work with police chief Mitch Rainbolt to save their department’s funds. But can their fight for her job lead to something neither dared wish for: a future together?
❤️ FEBRUARY 19-20: Win a signed PAPERBACK copy of Becky Wade’s upcoming release, “Stay With Me,” book one in her new Misty River romance series. NOTE: My apologies, but U.S. residents only. Here’s the jacket blurb and link to PRE-ORDER:
A mysterious letter alluding to a secret in her parents’ past brings Genevieve Woodward back to her Blue Ridge Mountains hometown, but she’s also in need of a break from a high-profile career that has left her dangerously burned out and concealing a powerful secret of her own. When she wakes inside an unfamiliar cottage to find the confused owner staring down at her, she can no longer ignore the fact that she needs help.
Sam Turner has embraced his sorrow and his identity as an outsider. The solitary, disciplined life he lives on his historic farm is the life he’s chosen for himself. The last thing he wants is to rent his cottage to a woman as troubled as she is talkative. Yet, he can’t force himself to turn her away right when she needs him most.
As Genevieve researches her family’s history and her and Sam’s emotions deepen, they will have to let go of the facades and loneliness they’ve clung to and allow light to illuminate every hidden truth.
📕 Love’s Silver Bullet on Pre-Order Too!
WHOO-HOO!! Book 2 in my Silver Lining Ranch series, LOVE’S SILVER BULLET, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Originally, the projected release date for LSB was May 1st, but due to the last-minute release of A Wing and a Prayer and extensive edits involved, I’ve had to extend the release of Love’s Silver Bullet to June 1st instead, so my apologies for that.
But the good news is if you pre-order now, you’ll save a dollar! Here’s the blurb for Sheridan & Jake’s story:
She’s targeting his love.
He’s aiming to steer clear.
Till true love picks them off in a bull’s-eye of the heart
Eighteen-year-old Sheridan Donovan has been in love with Jake Sullivan since the age of four, when she used to tag after him and her big brothers on the Silver Lining Ranch. From little on, Jake has been her hero, convincing her brothers to play school and wedding with her whenever she’d begged and cried. From horsey rides and tickle fests to his sweet willingness to be her pretend groom, Jake’s gentleness and affection had nurtured two dreams in Sheridan’s heart—becoming both a teacher and Mrs. Jake Sullivan. Preferably not in that order.
At the age of thirty, Jake figures he pretty much has everything he needs at the moment. A good job as the Assistant Foreman for Silver Lining Ranch, great friends in Blaze and Dash Donovan, and a true mentor in their uncle and owner of the ranch, Finn McShane, the man who’d given him a family to replace the one he lost. But when Finn’s niece, Sheridan—Blaze’s and Dash’s little sister to whom Jake became a big brother as well—turns eighteen, Jake discovers there’s one more thing he needs: distance and lots of it. From pinafores and bows at age six to overalls and dirt till age fifteen, the grown-up Sheridan looks nothing like the little girl who’d once been his constant shadow, now transformed into a young woman who races his heart. Painfully aware that Sheridan is determined to win his love, Jake is equally determined to keep a promise to her uncle, a promise that not only shoots a hole in his well-ordered life, but in his heart as well.
📕 Did You Vote??
Hey, guys, Goodreads has a new Listopia poll that you can cast your vote for as many of the Christian books you are looking foward to in 2020 as you want.
Many of you voted for Love’s Silver Bullet, and I am SO grateful! But if you haven’t yet voted for A Wing and a Prayer, I would be MOST grateful if you would consider doing so IF you are looking forward to reading it in 2020.
Remember, you can vote for as many of your favorite authors as you like, so I hope I will be one. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS!
📚 Romance-ology 101 at ACFW Workshop!
Oh my goodness, I am soooo excited because my friend Becky Wade and I were selected to teach a workshop at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW) in St. Louis, September 17th-20th. This is a big honor because ACFW receives tons of applications, so we feel quite blessed to be selected.
That said, if you are planning to attend ACFW this year, I hope you will consider signing up for our workshop. It’s called “Romance-ology 101: Creating Sigh-Worthy Heroes,” and it should be fun with lots of giveaways and opportunities for Q & A, so we are excited!
🙏 StoryFest ACFW!
ATTENTION CHRISTIAN FICTION READERS!! Do we have a deal for you! This year at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis, MO September 18-19, 2020, there will be an intimate author/readers retreat that you will NOT want to miss! ACFW is literally crawling with every Christian author you have ever wanted to meet or have coffee with, so check out the following fun events included and mark your calendars.
PLUS … you will receive a $20 discount if you use my author code (JLESS) when you register, so check out all the details on registration and pricing right here: STORYFEST ACFW
🙏 Keynote speaker LIZ CURTIS HIGGS!
🙏 Meet & Greet with 40-50 of your favorite Christian authors such as Rachel Hauck, Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Becky Wade, Mary Connealy, Dani Pettrey and many others including MOI!
🙏 Bookstore & Book Signing!
🙏 Games, Panels, Giveaways!
🙏 Group Breakfast or Lunch with Your Favorite Author!
🙏 Worship Time with Your Favorite Authors
🙏 Chance to Attend ACFW Gala (like the Oscars for Christian Fiction!)
👀 Sneak Peek at A Wing and a Prayer!
Here’s a continuing clip from two chapters where Alex brings Gabe home from the annual Bar-J Ranch Barbecue & Square Dance for the town of Sweetwater. On crutches due to a severe sprained ankle, Gabe railroads Alex into assisting her all day at the BBQ until he finally takes her back to her barracks.
Halting the Jeep in front of her bay, he wasted no time in carrying first her crutches and then her to the front door, where a dim bulb lit a 4’x4’ concrete pad. “Easy does it,” he said as he gingerly set her down on her good leg, his palm warm at the small of her back for stability. He handed her both crutches. “It’s against regulations for me to be inside. Will you be okay if I leave you here?”
Gabe swallowed hard. No.
“Yes,” she said in a rush, unable to thwart the bob of her throat. Hands slick with sweat, she grappled with the crutches, suddenly shy for the first time in her life.
He waited while she struggled to get her bearings, but she was so nervous, she wobbled as she turned. His hand immediately gripped her once again. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” He shot a quick glance down the lonely line of dingy white barracks, as if contemplating helping her inside.
“The bays are tiny, so I don’t have far to walk, and I plan to go right to bed.” Her gaze flicked down the darkened compound like his had, and her throat went dry at just how alone they were. Yellow lights winked on each porch, the only sign of life between the two rows of housing. A moonlit alleyway flanked by weedy grass separated the two barracks, both it and the bays’ cracked sidewalks crisscrossed with dandelions and crabgrass.
It was still early for a Friday night, so everything was silent and still except for the faint hoot of a faraway owl and the rasp of Gabe’s uneven breathing. “Alex, I … can’t thank you enough,” she whispered, pulse chaotic as he reached around her to open the screen door.
“My pleasure. It was fun,” he said as he gently tugged her out of the way to pull it wide. He propped the screen with his hip while he reached behind her to jiggle the temperamental knob of the old wooden door, stuttering Gabe’s heart at the close proximity of his dark-bristled jaw.
Mere inches from her lips.
And that’s when she realized it had been fun. More fun than she’d ever had in her life, and she didn’t want it to end. Ever. She wanted to thank him and she wanted to touch him all at the same time. Without a second thought, she leaned in and brushed her lips to his cheek, totally unprepared for the rush of heat hurtling through her veins. She immediately felt the jolt of his body as he gave a sharp jerk of his head, shock glazing his eyes when the motion instantly aligned his mouth with her own, a shallow breath away.
Gabe had always been one who knew what she wanted and just how to get it, and she certainly had never been a woman to dally. So in the split second that she felt the catch of his breath, she didn’t pause. She didn’t think.
She simply kissed him.
With everything in her, heart thundering over the single most earth-shattering moment of her young life.
She was in love!
Alex gasped, but the sound was swallowed up by the press of Gabe’s lips, soft, pliant and hungry, fusing to his with a need that ignited his own. It was only a catch of his breath, but it seemed like eons that he wrestled with his conscience and lost, returning Gabe’s kiss with a fire that seared his very soul. Her crutches crashed to the ground when she rose on tiptoe to slip her arms around his neck, and her mouth united with his in a mating he never wanted to end. He lifted her off her feet, molding her body to his with an intensity that shocked him. Groaning, he butted her to the wall while his mouth explored hers, his passion apparently buried so deep, he’d never even known it was there.
Well, he knew it now, and it scared him silly.
“Gabe,” he whispered, voice hoarse as he carefully set her back down. He grasped one of her crutches to gently prod it beneath the arm of her bad leg with breathing as ragged as hers. His heart ached as he cradled her face in his hands. “Please forgive me. I never should have done that
Her eyes widened. “No, Alex, there’s nothing to forgive—”
“Yes, Gabe, there is.” Struggling to regain control, he removed his hands from her face to retrieve the second crutch, slowly tucking it beneath her other arm. Inhaling sharply, he took a step back, fortifying himself against the hurt in her eyes. “I am your superior and I stepped over the line, which never should have happened.”
“But I kissed you!” There was an urgency in her voice he’d never heard before, a neediness he had no will to exploit.
He steeled his jaw, heartsick over what he had to do. “And I took it a step further, Cadet, which I deeply regret.”
“Well, don’t!” she shouted, lurching forward so fast, those blasted crutches teetered along with his heart. His palm shot out in reflex, girding her waist to keep both of them from falling.
Sleet slithered his veins when he saw the yearning in her eyes. “Don’t you get it, Alex?” she whispered, her face contorted in pain that inflicted some of his own. “I think I’m in love with you because I can’t get you out of mind.”
His body went to stone. An unholy mix of guilt and shock depleted his air, fingers flinching from her waist as if he’d been burned. And the look of abject longing in Gabe’s face told him he had.
Burned as a PT.
Burned as a friend.
Burned as a man who knew better.
“You aren’t in love with me, Gabe,” he said harshly, as if to convince himself as well as her. He took another step back, fists in his pockets to keep from touching her again. “It takes more than a kiss to fall in love.”
“It was more than a kiss!” she shouted. “You practically devoured me.”
Heat swarmed his collar as he glanced down the empty quadrangle and back. “I did, and it was unconscionable.”
She leaned in with a loud clunk of her crutches, fire replacing the hurt in her eyes. “No, it was uncontrollable, Lieutenant,” she said in a near hiss, “because you’re as attracted to me as I am to you, and I dare you to deny it.”
He stood his ground with a clamp of his jaw. “I don’t deny it. I denounce it because it’s-not-right.” He enunciated each word with brutal clarity, determined to nip this in the bud once and for all. His eyes softened despite the heft of his chin. “It was totally irresponsible of me, Gabe, and I can’t let it happen again.”
Her body went as slack as her jaw. “You mean to tell me you’re going to kiss me like that, then tuck tail and hide behind your almighty rules and regulations?”
Her words stoked his temper, helping his cause. “That’s exactly what I’m telling you, Cadet, because it’s the right thing to do. So I suggest you get some shut-eye, because this conversation is over.” He turned to head toward the Jeep.
“No!” she shouted, crutches clomping hard behind him. “You could have pushed me away when I kissed you—that would have been the right thing to do. But instead you kissed me back like I was your last meal before a forty-day fast, flat-out leading me on.”
He paused at the edge of the sidewalk, head bent while a groan slipped from his lips. Her well-aimed barb of guilt hit dead-on.
“You want irresponsible?” she snapped. He could feel the heat of her ire as she approached, the whomp of her crutches punishing the sidewalk while she punished him. “It’s kissing a so-called friend like you want it to be way more, then shattering her heart and her hopes by slamming the door in her face.”
Alex winced. Man, she sure had this guilt thing down good. Sucking in air for strength, he slowly turned, heart stalling at the hurt look on her face. Following his heart instead of his head, he stepped in to tenderly brush her hair over her shoulder. “Gabe,” he said softly, pulling her into a gentle hug to rest his head against hers, “you’re tired and you need your rest, so let’s table this for now, all right?”
She slipped her arms around his waist and sagged against him with a ragged sigh, and regret cramped heavy in his chest. “No, Alex, I’ll never be able to sleep unless we settle this tonight.” Pulling away, she peered up with little-girl eyes, naked with need, and it was all he could do not to kiss her again. “Please don’t do this to me,” she whispered, clutching the front of his shirt. “Don’t break my heart, Kincaid, because I’ve never felt this way before, and you care for me, I know you do.”
“I do,” he said quietly, brushing a stray hair out of her eyes with gentle fingers, reluctant to take it any further than that. “But you once told me that you respected me because I reminded you of your father”—a near-smile hovered on his lips as he lifted her chin, thumb slowly gliding the softness of her jaw—“who is, as I recall, ‘honest and rule-abiding to a fault,’ yes?”
A knot ducked in her throat.
“So,” he said with a light tap of her nose, “why would you expect me to do anything other than the very thing that won your respect in the first place?”
He was pretty sure she would have stamped her foot if she could, given the groan that trailed from her lips, face screwed in a grimace that clearly marked her frustration. “But we’re not talking about respect here, Alex. We’re talking about a chance at something far more wonderful and rare.” She laid her head on his chest, voice fading to a whisper. “We’re talking about love.”
He expelled a weighty sigh, chin propped on her head as his gaze wandered into the dark night. “That’s just it, Gabe. Without respect, there is no love, at least not for me.” He pressed a kiss to her hair, painfully aware that their friendship would never be the same. He squeezed her shoulder. “You need to go in, young lady, and get some sleep. We’ll talk later, all right?”
She looked up, a trace of hope gilding her plea. “Only if you promise to give it serious thought, Alex, and pray about it too.”
He arched a brow. “I thought you didn’t put a whole lot of stock into prayer.”
“I don’t,” she said with a near smirk, “but you do, so I figure I’d cover my bases.”
He couldn’t help it—he laughed, the sound echoing in the empty courtyard. “All right, Cadet, it’s time for you to turn in.” Slipping his arms beneath her, he picked her up, crutches and all, striding to the front door, where he prodded it open with his foot. He set her down on the threshold and planted a kiss to her head. “Good night, Gabe.”
“Oh, no you don’t.” She jerked on his shirt once again, lips pursed in resolve as she tipped her head in a squint. “You’re not going anywhere until you promise me, Alex Kincaid, that you will both think and pray about us as more than friends.”
He smiled, wondering when and how he’d fallen so hard for the wrong type of girl. “I promise,” he said, carefully removing her hands from his shirt. “Now get some sleep, kiddo.”
“Okay.” She peeked up with a chew of her lip. “But I’d sleep a whole lot better if you gave me a goodnight kiss, Lieutenant.” She flashed him that little-girl smile that usually reeled him in.
“I know you would.” He gave her earlobe a gentle tug before he turned to head to the Jeep. Shaking his head, he shot a wry smile over his shoulder. “But not me.”
💕 HUGS & HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!