Friday, February 19, 2016

Time to Fall in Love Party - Day 3!

Welcome to Day THREE of our “IT’S TIME TO FALL IN LOVE” treasure hunt where Julie  Lessman, Debbie Lynne Costello and I are celebrating the release of our latest books with some fabulous prizes, including a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards, gift baskets, and books galore!  

Ready for today’s treasure hunt? Good! Just read the blog below and answer the question in the Rafflecopter box at the end of this post.

New to the hunt? No worries! Details on what you can win and how can be found HERE.

    Today, you get a quick glimpse into Julie Lessman's brand-new release, Isle of Hope, and I DARE you not to be intrigued!! I had the privilege of reading this book already and let me tell you, you are in for a treat!  Julie is not only a good friend but one of my favorite go-to authors when I need a heart-warming, romantic read with characters you never forget.

 Gorgeous cover, isn't it?

Here's a tease about the story line. I guarantee it will grab you!

If that didn't grab you, check out these reviews!

Please Welcome Julie Lessman to Cross and Cutlass!

Hi, Everyone—Julie Lessman here, and one of the things that I think makes my books unique is that I always include a secondary love story with real romance between an older subordinate hero and heroine. Now why do I do this? Well, because as a baby boomer who thinks romance does NOT end at the age of 30, I get tired of romance being relegated to the young. I mean, why should the youngsters have all the fun? I can tell you right now that once empty nest hit, my husband and I felt like teenagers on the loose again—more active with things like biking, working out, traveling and definitely more romantic than ever before in almost 38 years of marriage.

So I thought it might be fun to give you a sneak peek at a scene from the secondary “40-ish” love story in Isle of Hope between the hero’s spunky mother, Tess O’Bryen, and the heroine’s father, a gorgeous but grumpy heart surgeon who lives next door, affectionately known in the neighborhood as Dr. Doom.

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Tess sat up, her patience suddenly as thin as her gaze. “You know what, Ben? You’re right—you did fail her, but newsflash, buster—you got blood in your veins just like the rest of us mortals, and failure is the name of the game, so get over it.”
She jumped up and marched to where he sat, ignoring the sag of his jaw when she leaned in, hands on her hips. “You know what I think? You’re a bigger failure now than you ever were before, and all because you’re too scared to take a chance. Oh, you cloak it in noble intent, saying you don’t want to hurt Lacey, but that only wounds her all the more by heaping rejection on top of inane, selfish, cowardly, too-stupid-to-live, moronic failure. Two wrongs don’t make a right, Dr. Doom, or don’t they teach that in medical school?” She reloaded with a deep breath before unleashing the rest of her fury. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re nothing more than an older version of that same spoiled little kid who’s simply made a career out of running away.”
He stared, mouth hanging open in the faintest of smiles. “Are you done? Because I think I can dig up an old feather pillow and some tar if you’re not.”
She blinked, a hand flying to her mouth when she realized just how awful she’d sounded, attacking him more harshly than he had attacked her. She sank beside him and put a hand on his arm. “Oh my goodness, I am so sorry, Ben—I have no idea where that came from.”
His mouth quirked. “I do. The wellspring of bottom-line truth from a woman who calls ’em like she sees ’em. Which is one of the reasons I trust you so much.” He gently brushed her hair from her eyes, his facial muscles softening along with his voice. “There’s not many people who could get away with that, especially after I opened up to confess deep, dark secrets I’ve never told anyone before.”
Her head tipped. “Not even Karen?”
Melancholy shadowed his smile. “Especially Karen. She was the source of all my anger, all my distrust, and then when she and Adam …” He looked away, hardness sculpting his features once again. “I shut down completely. Turned my back on everything—God, family, friends.” His exhale seemed to go on forever before his gaze settled on hers. “Until you.” Affection warmed the smile that flickered at the edges of his mouth. “A blunt, opinionated, annoyingly perky and completely pushy woman who loves people—and ‘cares’ for them—” He reached for her hand, feathering her knuckles with the pad of his thumb, his smile as gentle as his touch. “Just the way they are.”
Pulse sprinting, she carefully tugged her hand free and moved away to face him head-on, opting for “blunt and opinionated” with a side of “pushy” to drive her point home. “You’re right, Ben, I do care for you just the way you are—pig-headed, stubborn, and totally clueless in the realm of love. And as a ‘completely pushy’ woman who cares for you, I believe that the truth spoken in love is not only the best gift I can give, but the most critical as well.”
She ducked her head to peer into his face, aching to see this man happy and whole. “I’m begging you, Ben—for your sake and Lacey’s—stop running away. Let the bitterness go and start over. It ruined your marriage and it will ruin your life if you don’t take a stand against it once and for all.”
He stared back for several seconds, face immobile except for the faintest flicker of a muscle in his jaw. “And how do you propose I do that, Tess?” he whispered, gaze guarded.
She sat back, hands on her knees. “Well, it’s pretty clear you’re not ready to forgive Lacey, Karen, or yourself, nor do I think you’re capable of doing so on your own. So I’d say the only place you can start is by getting back on track with God.”
“With God,” he repeated dully, his tone acidic enough to convey his disdain.
“Yes, with God, Dr. Doom, the only One capable of fixing this sorry mess you’ve gotten yourself into.”
Scowling, he burrowed back into the sofa with a stiff fold of arms, the veneer that settled over his features not boding well for her cause. “I don’t believe God exists anymore, Tess, and the only thing sorry about this so-called ‘mess’ I’m in is that the one woman I’m attracted to and would like to know better is playing hardball.”
 “Oh, horse hockey,” she said with a scowl that rivaled his own. “You do so believe God exists, Dr. Genius, because guess what? You can’t turn your back on something that doesn’t. And as far as getting to know me better, the only way to do that is to know God better, so that pretty much nips us in the bud, now doesn’t it?”
She fought the twitch of a smile when his jaw began to grind. “Blackmail, Tess? Somehow as a God-fearing woman, I thought you’d be above that.”
“Nope.” She countered with a crisp fold of arms. “I’m a Christian, Ben, not perfect, something both of us have learned all too well in the past.” She bent forward, her jaw as steeled as his. “Get this and get it good, Carmichael.” She poked a finger against his chest to make her point. “I will do anything short of highway robbery to bring peace and joy to the people I love.”
He gripped her wrist mid-air like a spring-loaded trap, snatching all oxygen from her lungs. “There’s that word again,” he said softly, his gaze burning as much as his hold. “I wouldn’t be tossing it around too casually, Mrs. O’Bryen, or putting your hands on me unless you mean business.” He skimmed the inside of her wrist before gliding up to twine his fingers with hers. “Your hand is sticky,” he whispered, eyes lingering on her lips while his thumb slowly circled her palm.
“I gotta go!” She shot up faster than one of Davey’s bottle rockets, so flustered, she darted into the kitchen instead of out the front door, bolting to the sink to scour her hands. Fingers trembling, she snatched a dishtowel from a stainless steel rack, head bowed and eyes closed to compose herself while she dried off, berating herself for agreeing to come over. “Talk about a lamb in the lion’s lair,” she muttered, spinning around with a squeal as something tickled her neck. Her body flashed hot when she realized it was Ben’s lips.
“Don’t go,” he whispered, caging her in, the smoky look in his eyes all but welding her to the spot. “I might be willing to negotiate, Tess …”
Her heart battered her ribs. “Yeah? Well, I’m no—” The gentle brush of his mouth against hers stalled the words in her throat, robbing her of both reason and resistance when his kiss intensified. Liquid fire coursed through her body at the rush of feelings she hadn’t felt in such a very long time. She wanted to push him away, but her insides melted into submission, rendering all resolve as limp as her legs.
“So help me, I want you, Tess,” he said, his voice hoarse as he cupped her face in his hands. Hungry lips lured her eyelids closed when they locked a moan deep in her throat. Her breathing was as ragged as his when he moved in close, melding his body to hers.
“No!” She shoved him back, every muscle quivering with a painful mix of longing and fear. “I can’t do this, Ben—and if you persist, our friendship is over.”
He paused, chest heaving and eyes dark with desire. “You don’t mean that.”
“I do,” she said with a thrust of her chin, “as much as I care for you, we can never be anything more than good friends and neighbors, not with the issue of faith in the way.” Arms locked to her waist, she stepped out of his reach, the threat in her tone more than real despite the awful tremble in her limbs. “I need your word this won’t happen again.”
He studied her, his face a stone mask before he finally expelled a weary breath. “All right,” he whispered, slipping his fingers through hers to lead her back to the couch. “Put your shoes on, neighbor—you need to go home.”
She did as he asked, avoiding his eyes while she tied a double knot in each shoe. Rising, she followed him to his front door, waiting as he opened it wide. Head cocked, she assessed him with a soulful gaze. “Do I have your word, Ben? Because I need to hear it before I go.”
 Hands plunged in his pockets, he glanced up beneath dark lashes, a melancholy smile shadowing his face along with a day’s worth of dark stubble. “You have it,” he said quietly, slowly lifting an arm to gently trace a finger along the line of her jaw. “But I can’t help but wonder …” The wounded look of affection she saw in his eyes caused her heart to cramp in her chest. “Who’s running away now?”

Thanks so much, Julie. Loved every minute of that!! Being older myself, it's so nice to see love blossom in people our age! After all, just because our bodies are old, doesn't mean our souls or spirits are!

BUT … before you go, make sure you WRITE DOWN THIS CLUE — bless — which is the #9 CLUE in our 15-word sentence you’ll need to enter the Kindle giveaway on February 29th - March 3rd.



Rafflecopter Question of the Day
Tess mentally berates herself for going to Ben’s house, comparing herself to what?

To see the list of prizes I'm giving away, click HERE to go back to the first post.

If you are new to Rafflecopter, it will ask you to do certain things in order to gain points toward winning the prize. When Rafflecopter chooses a winner, the more points you have, the better chance you have at winning.  All of the tasks are optional, but to better your chances, I encourage you to do them. None of them take much time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is where you will enter the final 15 Word sentence you collect on all our blogs for the next 2 weeks to enter to win the Kindle Fire!  You can't enter yet, but be sure and collect your secret word for today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This book sounds really good. Have a great weekend!

    1. Hey, Debbie, thanks SO much, sweetie, not only for your sweet comment, but for ALL the incredible support you give my best bud, MaryLu, and this promo!!

      Hugs and Happy Weekend!

  2. WOW! The sparks were flying in this scene!


    1. LOL, Caryl, we both know I'm a sparks queen, so no surprise there! ;)


  3. Thank you for featuring Julie and "Isle of Hope", MaryLu!! Love this book so much the title makes my heart beat a little faster - appropriate for the It's Time to Fall in Love party, don't you think, lol?? I truly do think it is Julie's best work - such an important message that is changing reader's hearts/lives and drawing them nearer God. So glad God directed her to write this contemporary book of her heart!!

    Thanks for being a part of this wonderful party - love, hugs, & prayers, MaryLu!!

    Shared post!!

    1. Bonnie, girl, you sure get around, my friend!! Thanks for all of your incredible support.

      Love you!

  4. Thank you Marylu and Julie for this fun day 3 post of your Let's Fall in Love party! Thank you ,too for devoting this post to this excerpt from IOH featuring Ben and Tess.I really loved the relationship that developed between these two characters,and this was one of my favorite scenes in the book. I hope we see them in the next book of the IOH series! Thank you,Julie for proving that love doesn't just belong to the younger characters. :) God bless you both and have a happy weekend!!

    1. Lynne, are you kidding??? I LIVE for Ben and Tess's scenes, so YES, YES, YES, there will be lots of them in book 2, but don't expect an easy-breezy ride before they get their happily ever after. ;)

      Thanks for coming by, my sweet friend!

      Hugs and more hugs!

  5. I love that you feature older people in romantic scenes. There is no age limit to falling in love.