What You’ll Find in This Blog Today:
WHOO-HOO … MY ROMANTIC MYSTERY/SUSPENSE IS FINALLY DONE!
STILL TIME TO WIN $25 G.C. & MORE AT MYSTI’S BOOK NOOK!
FACEBOOK LIVE INTERVIEW W/CARA PUTMAN & PRIZES!
ST. PAT’S GIVEAWAY!
99-CENT SALE ON “A WING AND A PRAYER”!
EXCERPT FROM “SECRET OF EMERALD COTTAGE“!
🔎 My Romantic Mystery/Suspense is Done!
Squeeeeeeeee!!!! It sure feels good to have my first mystery in the bag — THE SECRET OF EMERALD COTTAGE — and now I’m just waiting for feedback from beta readers and publishers, so prayers appreciated for which way God wants this to go. I’ll know by summer whether I will be going with a publisher or publishing it myself, and if I publish it myself, I will release it early this fall, so it’s a waiting game at this point.
BUT … I can give you another sneak peek! I’ve already given sneak peeks at the Prologue, Chapter One, and now at the end of THIS blog, you can read on to Chapter Two!
I have to admit that I realllllllly liked this book the whole time I was writing, which is something I almost NEVER say since I usually have to grow into a novel. Usually, I don’t even like a novel all that much when I finish. But not this one — I honestly think this one is a keeper, so we’ll see soon enough if I’m the only one who thinks that. 😉
📗 Still Time to Join and Win at Mysti’s Book Nook!
Hey, it’s not too late to win a $25 gift card and your choice of a signed paperback copy of any one of my books — Revell or indie — OR any three of my indie e-books. How?
Just join Mysti’s Book Nook Facebook Book Club, where we’re discussing my award-winning novel, Isle of Hope the entire month of March AT YOUR LEISURE! The book club is free, easy, and most of all, FUN because Mysti and I will be chatting it up with all the readers in the comments section all month long, answering your questions about Isle of Hope or just listening to your thoughts on the book and the characters.
ALREADY READ IT? If you have already read Isle of Hope, please join in to tell me what you thought or if it helped you in any way because there are prizes to be won if you do. BUT … NO SPOILERS PLEASE if you have already read it since the rest of the book club will be reading it all through March.
HAVEN’T READ IT BUT WANT TO? Then this is the perfect opportunity to read this award-winning novel that was listed on Family Fiction magazine’s list of Top 15 Novels of 2015, because not only will you be eligible to win prizes, but I will send you a free e-book of Isle of Hope so you can join in on the fun.
HOW DO YOU SIGN UP? Just join the book club at MYSTI’S BOOK NOOK, then shoot a private Facebook message to Mysti Jording asking for the free e-copy of Isle of Hope as part of your membership. See? EZ-PEAZY!! Hope to see you there!
Here’s a short VIDEO that will tell you all about it!
💚 New Contest!
🙏 WILL YOU HELP ME SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT MYSTI’S BOOK NOOK? If you do, you can win a character named after you or a loved one in my next book PLUS a signed paperback copy of that book AND any three of my indie e-books!
FaceBook Live Interview with Cara Putman/Prizes!
Join me and award-winning author Cara Putman on TUESDAY, MARCH 16, 8:30 EST for “BOOK TALK WITH JULIE LESSMAN.” It will be a fun live chat where you can win free e-books just with a comment, so mark your calendar, and I hope to see you there!
Here’s the link with more info and to sign up for a FB reminder:
☘️ St. Pat’s Giveaways!
Join me on Wednesday, March 17 for a special St. Pat’s Day interview and giveaway on Author Susan Mathis’ blog, where I will be giving away an e-copy of winner’s choice of any one of my indie e-books to three different winners, just for leaving a comment.
THEN, join me on Thursday, March 18-20 for another interview and giveaway on Author Grace Johnson’s blog, where I will also be giving away an e-copy of winner’s choice of any one of my indie e-books to three different winners, just for leaving a comment. Hope to see you there!
📗 Sale on A Wing and a Prayer!
WHAT??? You haven’t read Gabe O’Connor’s 5-star WW2 novel, A Wing and a Prayer, yet??? Well, now’s your chance because it will be on sale beginning March 15, so mark your calendars! And with the above reviews — trust me — you won’t want to miss it, so SPREAD THE WORD!
That’s it for now, my friends! Hope to chat with you at Mysti’s Book Club!
🏠 Excerpt from “The Secret of Emerald Cottage”!
Wiping steam off the mirror with a towel, Brec assessed his image, amazed at just how much better—and invigorated—he felt after a shower. His lips tipped into a lazy smile as he rubbed the two-day-old scruff on his face.
Of course kissing a gorgeous Yank sure didn’t hurt.
In his bed, no less.
His smile faded. Without him, thank God.
He stared at the man in the mirror, the one who had just screwed up everything in his life and knew that the last thing he wanted—or needed—was more of the same. One lousy mistake, that’s all it had taken, and he’d botched it all.
His eyelids shuttered closed as he kneaded his temple. He had no business hitting on anyone right now, even if Sleeping Beauty had muttered the request in her sleep.
“Kiss me, please.”
So he had. Because kissing women was second nature to him, after all. The Achilles heel that had finally taken him down, destroying everything he’d worked so hard to obtain.
In one swoop of a sorry scandal.
Lashes lifting, he studied what some called one of the best forwards in League of Ireland soccer and knew coming back to the States—the home country he had abandoned—was the right thing to do. His gut tightened. If one could even consider it a home. He certainly hadn’t, not since the age of eighteen, when his mom and dad had scissored his life in a divorce that hadn’t just been messy; it’d gone all the way to bloody.
“Providential,” his agent had called Aunt Lilly’s fall, urging him to go stay with his aunt in her time of need. He buried a grunt as his gaze roamed from a torso carefully sculpted by hours in the gym to what his ex-fiancee liked to call his “Michelanglo face,” tightly chiseled features and beautiful form, she would say, with a body like a Greek god.
The grunt escaped as he raked a hand through ebony curls damp from the shower. More like his time of need, he thought as he stripped off the towel and proceeded to get dressed, concurring that the timing of Miss Lilly’s accident was, indeed, providential.
“It’ll do you good to go home to your Aunt Lilly,” Morty had insisted, “until everything blows over.”
Everything. He donned a clean T-shirt with a clamp of his jaw.
His fiancee. He waited for the ache to come at the loss of his trophy girlfriend, but all he felt was guilt as he slipped into fresh jeans, wishing he could slip into a fresh life as easily. He regretted the pain he’d caused Lana, but it was for the best. What up-and-coming Italian movie starlet wanted to be saddled with a wayward sports celebrity whose career was effectively over for the rest of the year? He grunted. And maybe longer.
Casting a final glance into the mirror, he zipped up, hoping and praying—dear God, did he even still do that?—that Aunt Lilly’s “home” truly would “do him good.”
Home. Or at least more of one than he’d ever had before.
Padding down the hardwood hallway, he silently slipped down the stairs into the kitchen where Goldilocks was “whipping up” breakfast while she sang the lyrics to—and badly—something that sounded like “God’s not dead” blaring from her phone. He blinked when he saw her take two Jimmy Dean biscuits from a box and slip into the microwave, hips and arms rolling in a distant rendition of the new dance craze, Say So.
That’s something nutritional?
Strolling up behind her by several feet, he cleared his throat, and she whirled around. One of the biscuits flew in the air, almost assaulting him while she gaped in apparent shock. “Son of a biscuit!” she shouted, making him smile over one of Aunt Lilly’s favorite—and oddly appropriate—“swear words.” If you can call it that, as she sagged against the counter with hand splayed to her chest. “Don’t ever sneak up on me like that again! What, are you part Native American or something? I never even heard you coming.”
“Nope”—he lifted a foot—“just an unshod Irishman drowned out by raucous singing. Or … at least I think it was singing.” Grinning, he retrieved the biscuit from the floor and tossed it once in the air, catching it handily before giving it over. “And this is your idea of ‘nutritious’?”
Green eyes the color of Irish moss crisscrossing Miss Lilly’s patio pavers narrowed a hair, a nuance with which he was rapidly becoming familiar. “I said fast, hardy, and nutritious, bucko, so two out of three’s not bad.” She flipped the biscuit in the air like he had, deftly catching it before chucking it into the microwave with a slant of a smile. “Especially for some strike-out king who assaults women while they’re sleeping.”
“For your information, Sleeping Beauty, I never strike out.” He ambled over to the coffee pot with a cocky smile, lifting it to take a sniff before pouring a cup. “Secondly, you asked for it, lass, so I was only following orders. And thirdly”—taking a sip of the coffee, he scrunched his nose in distaste—“I hope and pray Jimmy Dean makes biscuits better than you brew a pot.”
Punching in the time for the microwave with no little force, she slapped her arms in familiar fold while that indomitable chin edged up, completely ignoring his dig. “And what’s that supposed to me—that ‘I asked for it?’ Ohhhhh, wait!” Apparent comprehension came with a slow nod and an open-mouthed smile that quickly resorted to a sexy tug of her lip. “You mean that given your reputation, Player Boy, any woman in a bed is asking for it, right?”
It was his turn to burn her with a lidded gaze as he leaned against the counter, legs crossed at the ankles. “No, little Miss Sassy-mouth, I mean that you asked me to kiss you.”
“I did no such thing!” she said with a stomp of her foot, jerking the microwave door open to hurl the biscuits onto plates before slamming it closed again. She clunked both on the table.
“You most certainly did.” Strolling over, he sat down and reached for his plate, staring at the cellophaned biscuit with no little hesitation. “You said, ‘kiss me, please,’ so I did.”
“In my sleep!” she shouted with sparks in her eyes,“while I was dreaming! Under the influence of cold medicine, I might add, which I’d have to chug a whole bottle of before I’d ever consider kissing a pompous player like you!”
He grinned. “That’s quite a combustible temper you have there, lass, which doesn’t bode well for our sharing a house, now does it?”
She blinked wide, as if suddenly realizing she’d just nuked him along with the biscuits. “Oh, I am so sorry,” she said with a hand to her mouth, slowly sinking into her chair while she punished that amazing lip with her teeth. “I don’t usually act like this, truly, but I just got burned by a player, so I guess you bring out the worst in me since, well”—she gave a sheepish shrug—“you’re a player too.”
“Was a player,” he emphasized with a rip of the cellophane, holding the biscuit up to study it with wary eyes. “I’ve turned over a new leaf, so that’s part of my past.”
“Oh, really?” Removing her “breakfast” from the cellophane, she proceeded to slather what looked like strawberry jam beneath the top portion before pinning him with a flutter of lashes. “Since when—last night when I pulled a gun on you?”
“Exactly.” Chuckling, he followed her lead and reached for the jam to dress his biscuit with some taste. “So … you actually know how to use that thing?”
Her shoulders bounced with an off-handed shrug as she bit into her biscuit. “Used to be a nurse in the Navy.”
“Ahhh, star of the sea. How appropriate.” He took a bite and chewed, thinking this wasn’t half bad, although it hardly qualified as ‘nutritious.’ “So, that’s why you were hired as a caretaker and companion.”
“Exactly.” Her nose crinkled. “What do you mean, ‘star of the sea’?”
He smiled. “Your name—Molly. Means star of the sea in Gaelic.”
She grunted, causing his smile to grow. “Yeah, well it means ‘bitter’ in Hebrew, at least since I’ve been out of the Navy, so trust me, that’s a wee bit more appropriate.” She tossed back a gulp of her coffee, and Brec winced, thinking it had to be burning all the way down, but she just dabbed at her mouth with her napkin and took another drink. “Being Miss Lilly’s caretaker and companion is the best job I’ve ever had, so I have Chase to thank. After she sprained her ankle falling down the steps—”
He almost choked on his biscuit, taking a quick glug of coffee like she had to clear his throat, but it just scalded all the way down. Kind of like her comment. “She fell down the steps? When?”
“About two months ago, which is when Chase”—she paused in a squint—“you know him, right? Miss Lilly’s self-appointed caretaker, the son she never had, who lives here at the lake and sees to her every need?”
Brec bit back a scowl, albeit not too successfully. “Yeah, I know him,” he muttered, remembering all too well the kid who vacationed with his family at Lake Loon every year. Nice kid, but he got on Brec’s nerves when he saw how much Aunt Lilly fawned over him.
“Well, he’s my pastor and good friend—we were Navy buddies because he was a SEAL, you know—”
He bit into his biscuit too hard, nearly gouging his tongue. Yeah, I know that too.
“—so he asked me to move in with Miss Lilly to keep an eye on her while she was recuperating,” she continued with a tongue-swipe of jam off her lips. “Which ended up being a win-win for everybody since Chase needed somebody to care for Miss Lilly, and I needed a place to live.”
He paused mid-chew, then swallowed hard. “You needed a place to live?”
A smile fidgeted at the edge of her lips while she finished her biscuit. “Mmm … part Native American, part myna bird. Whoops!” She licked her fingers with a silly grin before she wiped her hands on her napkin. “Sorry—we called a truce of sorts, I think, so, strike that last tease, Striker Boy.”
“Striker Man,” he emphasized with a grind of his smile.
Jumping up, she snatched her plate and his with a sassy toss of a ponytail the color of corn silk, lobbing an impish grin over her shoulder. “Touchy, touchy. But then, I guess that’s better than kissy, kissy.”
His smile went flat. “Cute.”
Eyes squinted in thought, she put a finger to her chin. “Let’s see. Since you don’t seem to like Striker Boy or Player Boy or Strike-Out Man, maybe we should settle on something less offensive in the interest of peace and harmony.”
His smile slid sideways. “I have a novel idea—how ’bout good ol’ Brec?”
She scrunched her nose. “No, I don’t think so. Not unless I’m deadly serious, which most of the time I’m not. No, nicknames are very important to me as a form of expression. For instance, if I’m annoyed with you, I can always resort to Striker Boy, Player Boy or Strike-Out Man. But since we’ll be living in the same house together and have to get along, I need something a little friendlier …” She snapped her fingers. “I know, I’ll call you Beck.”
His brow wrinkled in confusion. “Beck?”
“Sure, you know, after David Beckham, the famous soccer star who was once a player like you?” Her ponytail bounced as she turned on the water and reached for the sponge. “He turned over a new leaf too, to be a family man, remember?”
Heat crawled up the back of his neck. Family Man. That was the last thing anybody could call him. Deflecting his unease with a quick glug of coffee, he quickly changed the subject. “So why did you need a place to live?”
Her smile dimmed considerably as she washed both plates. “I just moved back to Savannah three months ago to live with my folks”—she paused to stare aimlessly for a moment with a dish in hand before she finished drying it and put it away with a heavy sigh—“ after a player broke my heart in Charleston,” she whispered, definite emphasis on “player.” “So …”—she spun around with a firm heft of her jaw—“I quit my job, packed up, and headed home to lick my wounds at my folks. But my parents were driving me crazy, hovering over me like I was six instead of twenty-six, which is why Miss Lilly is a Godsend.” She lifted the coffeepot. “Refill?”
“Might as well,” he said, extending his mug while he glanced at his watch. “We’ve got two hours till kill before we can visit Aunt Lilly, so you can fill me in on all the gaps regarding what happened to her.” Taking a healthy swig of the sludge she poured, Brec winced while she placed the pot back on the burner, hoping her caretaking skills exceeded those in the kitchen. “But if you don’t mind,” he said, pushing his chair away from the table to rise, “ I’ll brew us a fresh pot of coffee”—he tossed a wink over his shoulder as he dumped both his mug and the pot of sludge—“because something tells me we’re going to need it.”