Fiction Book Reviews

Sizzling First Encounters with Julie Lessman

Okay, it’s time to ramp up the temperature about 80 degrees.

Everybody ready?

Summer’s here. We know it’s hot outside. But I think today’s guest has a way of moving WAY beyond a sizzle. She tends to stay at…oh…scorching.

Please welcome one of my favorite authors, and so pleased to call her my friend, Julie Lessman. She writes with a Passion Most Pure filled with purely passion 🙂 And not just the loosen-your-collar-and-grab-a-fan type of passion, but the kind that leads you into deeper contemplation about the goodness and mercy of God.

The first book in her newest series is coming out this fall and in celebration of that fact, JULIE IS GIVING AWAY A BOOK. 

READER’S CHOICE. You may choose one of her Daughter’s of Boston series, or…her newest novel, A Hope Undaunted. (which you get a teeny peek at the main characters for that book today- and not just ANY peek, but a deleted scene. Woohoo!)

If you want to peruse the choices and learn more about this wonderful lady, you can check out her website or visit Seekerville (she’s a frequent contributor).

Okay…okay – get on with it you say 🙂

Welcome Jules,

1.)  What is one element of great romantic tension?

 Well, since I’m a drama queen, I like anything with LOTS of head-butting tension, be it anger (my fav!), surprise, sarcasm or just sheer annoyance, which is what I used in this scene from A Passion Denied when Cluny McGee and Katie O’Connor (the hero and heroine of my next release, A Hope Undaunted) have their first “sizzling” encounter.

 Now keep in mind they are kids at the time (Cluny is 14, Katie 11), so “sizzling” is not exactly the right word, but it is their very first “romantic” encounter in which I wanted to sow the seeds of attraction for the next book. But because they were so young, my editor requested I alter this scene to delete “the kiss” and any indication of attraction, which I did in the final book. But I have to tell you that I loved the original SO much (and have fond memories of my own innocent “first kiss” in kindergarten with Johnny Huels in the coatroom), that I wanted to share this scene today since no one has ever read it before as originally written.

 This scene is in Katie O’Connor’s point of view and takes place outside of a hospital waiting room where Cluny McGee has promised to buy her Life Savers. Incidentally, this Life Saver scene also plays a part in the grownup Cluny and Katie’s romance in A Hope Undaunted.

 Cluny nodded to the guard before depositing his money into the machine. He gave Katie a sideways glance. “Life Savers or gum?”

“Did you hear me say anything about gum?”

He grinned and yanked on the lever. “You’re a pistol, Katie Rose. Life Savers it is.” A roll thudded into the open slot while change clinked into the coin return. He retrieved the candy and dropped it in her waiting hand.

She arched a brow, hand still extended. “I believe you said five.”

He pulled his change from the return and tossed in the air. “Nope, said I’d buy you one, but had enough for five.”

She jiggled the roll in her hand. “I want five.”

He grinned. “Kind of hoping you’d say that.”

“You were.”

“Yes, ma’am, I was. And I would dearly love to give you five.”

“You would.”

“For a price.”

“A price?”

“What, are you a parrot?” He redeposited his money and repeated the procedure until five rolls of gold and blue candy gleamed in his palm. She reached and he jerked them away, slipping them into his pocket with an annoying grin. “Yes, ma’am, a price. Kind of an experiment.”

She folded her arms, her eyes slits as he opened a roll and popped one in his mouth. He held another in the air, taunting. “Mmmm … minty.”

She stared, jaws clamped tight, the little white circle an inch from her nose. She could smell the sweet scent of peppermint as he gently prodded it against the tight crack of her lips. Seconds seemed like an eternity before she finally snatched it with her teeth, almost taking his finger in the process. He jerked away.

She smiled. “A bit twitchy, are we?”

“No more than usual when you’re around.” He sucked on his finger as if she’d bitten clean through. “Do we have a deal?”

“What kind of experiment?”

He took her hand and pulled her down the darkened hall, stopping just short of where light shafted through the windows of the waiting-room double doors. Producing four additional rolls of Life Savers, he bounced them in his hand and grinned. “A kissin’ experiment.”

She tried to leave, but he blocked her with a hand to the wall. “One measly, ol’ kiss, Katie Rose, and if Life Savers were money, you’d be a wealthy woman.”

She studied him with a critical eye, deciding for the hundredth time that Cluny McGee was a cocky little brat that grated on her nerves. He had way too much confidence for a boy with a sunken chest and arms no bigger than a willow twig, and enough freckles to make you lose your train of thought. Sweet saints, she hated freckles! Her eyes shifted to the glittering treasure in his hands, shimmering like gold as he rolled them in his palm. Her gaze flicked up to the piercing blue eyes that glinted as if they could read her mind. She firmed her stance and lifted her chin, determined that the blush she felt rising would not reach her cheeks.

“One-measly-kiss,” she enunciated through clenched teeth, “Quick, clean and absolutely no lingering. And for pity’s sake, keep your mouth closed.”

A slow grin traveled his lips. He pocketed the candy with the same unwavering confidence that always got on her nerves. He shot a quick glance down the hall, then pulled her to him with a grip surprisingly strong. “Close your eyes, Katie Rose, the glare is blinding me.”

She broke her own rules and did exactly as he said, although she didn’t really know why. It seemed like he was always giving her ord—

A soft gasp rose in her throat when his mouth moved against hers. Lips that seemed anything but soft when he always yakked her ear off, suddenly felt as silky as the petal of a rose with the fragrance of Pep-o-mint. She had warned him not to linger, but he did, and she found herself shocked that she didn’t care. He stroked the curve of her jaw before he finally pulled away, leaving her lips strangely bereft. She opened her eyes and noted she’d forgotten to breathe.

“That settles it, Katie,” he whispered, his high-pitched voice no longer that of little-boy pest. “You’re the girl I’m gonna marry.”

Her mouth fell open, allowing for shallow breathing that now fluttered in her chest. He took her hand and placed the rolls firmly inside, then pressed her fingers closed. She’d once told Collin she’d never let some sap boy steal her heart. He’d told her she would eat her words. She swallowed hard, the taste of those words—and Cluny’s kiss—still burning her tongue.

 Well Jules, that’s it. I’m going to daydream about Cluny today. After reading a few of the other scenes with him – especially the clips from A Hope Undaunted, I’ve decided my little hero crush might transfer from Collin to Cluny.

Thank you so much for sharing this today. And good luck to all of you who enter the drawing. You CANNOT lose with any of Julie’s books. I have all of the Daughters of Boston and plan to purchase anymore this lady wants to pen.

Inspirational First Encounter

He couldn’t see the faces of the people around him. Had never seen their faces, or anything else. But voices pushed and shoved him through the streets, hands leading him or knocking him away.

Dust, hot and harsh, ground into the holes of his worn out sandals, irritating the sores rubbing against the threadbare leather straps.  There was nothing a poor, blind man could do to earn money for new ones, except beg and wait. But begging felt humiliating and waiting? Well, he’d been waiting for something to happen almost his entire life.

Blind. Yes. Blind from birth. And dependent on the kindness of others.

The swell of voices around him warned him of an incoming crowd. Certainly not a safe place for someone like him. Besides, everyone else seemed as blind to him as he was to them.

A voice, warm as fresh goat’s milk, smoothed through the clamor of voices. What? They were talking about him?

“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Someone spat, then all grew silent, except for whir of a sea of whispers.

“Jesus.” They said. Jesus? The very name stirred the embers of hope in his heart. Jesus? The healer from God?

Suddenly, something warm and damp touched his eyes.

“Go,” the voice spoke, as if to the deepest hurt in his heart. “Wash in the pool of Siloam.”

The man half-stumbled and half-ran to the pool, feeling his way around baskets of bread and resting animals. Every step, every fall, increased his faith that this moment would change his life forever.

He nearly fell into the pool, the water washing over him in waves from his splash. It soaked through his clothes, up to his shoulders, and with one deep breath he plunged his face underneath.

The air cooled his face as he pulled his heavy body up from the water and wiped a dripping sleeve across his face. Light poured through his closed eyelids. Light. He blinked. Colors, blurs, movement. He blinked again. The blurs slowly cleared and faces came into view. Faces. Eyes. Smiles.

He could see for the first time in his life. He could see – not only with his eyes, but with his heart. Jesus had made him whole.

Stop by tomorrow and find out who’s visiting next week. Still two more weeks to go of these Sizzling First Encounters, so find out what’s in store.


47 thoughts on “Sizzling First Encounters with Julie Lessman”

    1. Case,
      You’re hilarious.
      If you’re lucky, Julie might be up late too 😉
      AND you’re in the drawing for her novel. WOOHOO!!! Can’t wait, Can’t wait.
      September is going to be an awesome month 🙂


      1. Right. Didn’t you know, she’s my secret weapon to up the visits 😉

        If you bring Julie, then they will come. LOL. I’m certainly one of her groupies 😉


  1. Okay, MUCH better, you know me, have to be the center of attention. 🙂

    Okay, Julie, isn’t that scene in A Passion Denied? Or at least part of it? Because I do believe I remember laughing at that one before.

    And PEPPER! How could you say that Cluny will be better than Collin? That may be and all Julie’s heroes are wonderful, but top Collin??? That will be tough. 🙂

    Anywho, love it, love it, LOVE IT! You just keep getting better and just WHEN will I get my hands on this book, hmmm?? The wait is insufferable and that is NOT the drama queen in me coming out. 😀

    BTW, I heard the end of your interview on Blog Talk Radio and it was simply wonderful getting to hear your voice. Such fun, and great interview. 🙂



  2. Omigosh, guys, I can’t believe you beat me to the punch!!

    CASEY, you are really on top of things, girl … with the radio interview and Sharon Ball’s blog and now Pep’s. If you’re not careful, sweetie, you’re gonna win yourself a book …

    And, yes, Case, that IS a scene from A Passion Denied, but it’s the original scene I wrote with the kiss in it, which my editor made me take out in the published version. When Pepper told me the theme was “Sizzling First Encounters,” I decided to use this “never before seen” version since it is the first hint at romantic encounter between Katie and Cluny and foreshadows A Hope Undaunted A LOT!

    And you know what, I do think Collin may be in danger of losing his hunk crown because Cluny is really something else. In fact, one reader who won the Advanced Reader Copy on a recent blog giveaway read Undaunted and immediately wrote me after she read it, saying not only did she read far into the night, but she started rereading it again as soon as she was finished. Also, she was a HUGE Collin fan and she said Cluny is now her favorite. So, get ready, Case, because Mr. McGee is ON HIS WAY … 🙂

    And, PEPPER … “your secret weapon”??? I’d say your whole lineup this week was a “secret weapon,” with Dee, Mel, Mary and Colleen — WOW!! I am honored to be in the group, seriously. Some of my favorite people AND authors!

    By the way, Pep, LOVE the devotional. You can sure tell your a pastor’s wife ’cause you got the touch, girl.

    MEL … thanks, sweetie, but your book hasn’t been released yet, so I think we need to reserve judgment, don’t you???



    1. I must say that I am trying to win a book Julie, I have a great fear that your book will come up for tou when I am gone, so if I win, I will treat it just like a review copy and smash a review all over internet land!! 😀


      1. Hey Case,

        I have no doubt at all that you will plaster it all over the Internet because you never do anything halfway, girl! 🙂 Uh, that is … IF you like it, right? :/



    2. Thanks for the compliments, Jules.

      And I’m serious about how much I LOOOOVE having you as a guest – and now as a friend. AND I get to MEEEET YOOOOOU!!! WAHOOO!

      Okay – on with more reading of the comment section. Just got back from the zoo and the kids are ALL in need of a rest.


      1. Pep, I am SO jealous of you!!

        Julie, seriously, NOT LIKE YOUR BOOK??? Do you need to go back and visit OEA for a while?? *grin*


  3. I too have the strangest feeling that my affections will be transfering to Cluny when I get my hands on this book! Wow that was such a sweet scene but I always figured that those 2 would just HAVE to get together. 😉 Have I said how much I CANNOT wait for this book?! I agree Pepper, you can’t loose with Julie’s books!

    XOXO~ Renee


    1. Hey Renee, thanks, my friend! I like that scene too, because it really sets Katie and Cluny up for Undaunted in such a telling way.

      Now, I keep saying everyone will like Cluny as much if not more than Collin, but I’m sure that won’t be true for everyone because nobody bats 1000, not even Cluny McGee.

      BUT … I just think he is such a wonderful mix of hoodlum (he was a gang leader in New York before Brady rescued him), street orphan (to whom family and friends are EVERYTHING), and he LOVES kids like crazy, playing every sport imaginable with the ruffians in the streets of Boston, which gives him a following that rivals the Pied Piper. On top of that, he’s got a charismatic personality that wins him the favor of every female he meets, age 5 through 85, from orphans to nuns, and he is the most giving character I have written to date, which makes the man in my eyes, downright AMAZING!!!

      Even so … I’ll just let you decide for yourself, Renee … 🙂



  4. Wow. That’s all I can say after reading the scene that you had originally written. You really know how to write those sizzling scenes. When I was reading this scene, it was hard to remember that Katie is only 11. But then again I had quite a number of crushes when I was around that age, so I can believe it. I can’t wait to read the new book coming out. 🙂

    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net


    1. CYNTHIA!!! Thank you SO much! And your reaction in forgetting that Katie was only 11 is probably why my editor had me nix it. Romance between adults is one thing, but between kids is another, even though like you, I had LOTS of romances in school, from kindergarten to 6th grade, which is how old Katie was in this scene. I remember distinctly when I got into the 5th grade, that was when the boys noticed the girls for the first time, and in my class, there were LOTS of boyfriends and girlfriends, and we’re talking QUITE a few years ago (the 50s), so I don’t think this scene would be too far off, especially since Cluny is 14, albeit a puny 14.

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend, and good luck in the contest!



  5. A Hope Undaunted sounds incredible! Thanks for sharing the deleted scenes. Geez Louise, if my deleted scenes were so lovely, I wouldn’t delete them!

    I SO want to win this book. But I’ll buy it–even if I am a world-class tight wad. No way am I letting Katie slip by.

    Julie, you’re turning me into an historical reader–gasp–an historical buyer! It’s your romantic tension, my dear.

    Ann Lee Miller


  6. I would love to win A Hope Undaunted. Thanks for sharing the deleted scenes. I have your Daughters of Boston series.


  7. ANN!! You mean you weren’t a historical reader before???? Gosh, girl, you don’t know what you’re missing … there are so many great authors out there!!

    But thank you for the sweet comment, and we’ll try not to go against your “tight wad” tendencies in the hopes that you will win the book on some giveaway between now and Sept., okay? After all, Sherrinda did win five of my books (I think it was five!) in a span of a few months, so the odds are definitely in your favor. Good luck, my friend!



  8. Sigh… in the world can a scene with an 11 year old girl and a 14 year old boy take my breath away! Seriously, that was amazing!. I am so excited to meet Cluny up front and personal. Now when is the release date? Aug? Sept? That is just way too far away, in my opinion. You tease us with these sizzling scenes and then we have to wait. Sigh….

    Love your devo, Pepper. You have such a beautiful way with words.


    1. Sherrinda,
      You’re the best. Thank you.
      And Thanks for letting me share my excitement with you earlier today. I’m such a silly bird, but you handled it well. 🙂


    2. Hey, SHERRINDA, the release date is September 1st, but I think may get the books in first, mid- to end of August, but don’t buy it, girl, because NOBODY is luckier than you at winning my books! I am going to have a boatload of blog giveaways between now and Sept., so just keep checking my website calendar. As you know all too well, I don’t mind cyber-stalking!! 🙂



  9. I thoroughly enjoyed the scene but I have to say that reading the comments generated were almost as entertaining!

    Thanks for sharing your characters with us! They really came alive and I would love to read more about them.



    1. JAN MARIE, yeah, we always have some pretty lively comments on Pepper’s blog, and that’s because we are all reallllllly emotional and dramatic, which is my favorite kind of friend. Thanks for dropping by and good luck in the contest.



  10. Why am I always late to these things? LOL
    WOW.I always thought that Denied was perfect just the way it was but, boy! do I wish that scene had made it in. Talk about one simmer encounter. And it really helps tie Denied and Undaunted together.
    Thanks sooo much Mrs.Lessman for sharing that fantastic scene. And I’m already swooning over Cluny (sorry Collin:( ). CAN’T wait to read Undaunted!!!!

    I pray Pepper, that you and Julie have a great weekend!!;~D
    Love Y’all,


    1. Hey Ash, Word Press really does a number on me because it messes with my mind. I responded to your comment down below rather than after your comment. Sorry!



  11. I agree, it was fantastic. So can’t wait for A Hope Undaunted. If Katie and Cluny are this fun at 11 and 14, it will be very interesting to see them grown.



    1. HOLLY … oh, yeah, girl, and you can take THAT to the bank!! If Katie and Cluny are that fun at 11 and 14, just wait till you see them at 18 and 22 … HOLY COW, we’re talking fireworks when they butt heads and then fireworks when they butt lips, so we’ve got some MAJOR romantic tension going on mixed heavily with MAJOR spiritual tension as well. Can’t wait for you to read it!!

      Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the contest!



  12. Woah! What a scene! I really, really want to read their story–especially since they’re now a bit older! 😉

    Thanks for a chance to win this book!

    And Julie–I can’t wait to host you on my blog soon!!! 😀



  13. Great interview and another new author to add to my list. I am also adding her books to my wish list. If I should be the winner I would like her A Hope Undaunted book. I can’t wait to read about Katie and Cluny grown up.
    Thanks for this opportunity to enter..


    1. MISS KALLIE … are you telling me you have never read one of my books???? Well, girl, we have to change that for sure. And I hate to tell ya, but if you win this contest, I will be sending you A Passion Most Pure first because you GOTTA start with the first book in the series due to a number of HUGE surprises in each of the three books in “The Daughters of Boston” series.

      The “Winds of Change” series in which Katie’s story — A Hope Undaunted — is book 1, is actually a continuation of the O’Connor saga from the first series so although you can read A Hope Undaunted on its own, it’s really MUCH better to start at the beginning of the series, okay? And if it makes you feel any better, A Passion Most Pure won the American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year, so hopefully I am not steering you wrong …

      Thanks for your interest and good luck in the contest!



    2. Miss Kallie,
      You HAVE to read the WHOLE Daughters Of Boston series (in order). They are SOOOO good and Julie is such a fantastic author, that you won’t regret reading them, I promise. I hope you win, just so you can get a free copy of both books to read. I hope you’ll love them just as much as I do.LOL
      Love Ya,


      1. But you CAN get by with reading them out of order…ahem….I did and still fell in love with them.
        (ducking Julie’s slap 😉


      2. Thanks, Ashley, for emphasizing that the books should be read in order unlike … ahem … certain parties who shall remain nameless and who have actually read them out of order and NEVER told me that!!! 🙂

        You know who you are!!



      3. I read them as I got them 😉
        Redeemed first (gasp) Then Denied.
        I didn’t read APMP til last. – and it’s my fav

        Don’t you just love life’s little surprises?!?

        Love ya,


    1. Hey, KAREN, I hope you are having a good weekend too, sweetie! I am definitely having one because I am REALLY excited that I just wrote a reallllly tense and exciting scene today for Sean and Emma’s story, book 2 of the Winds of Change series, A Heart Revealed. I have been struggling with this book, but God is faithful and has helped me get to the end with what I think is a really great story. But only time … and my readers … will tell!

      Have a blessed weekend, too, Karen!



  14. ASHLEY!!! Hey, sweetie, as long as you show up, it doesn’t matter when, now does it??

    Yeah, I really thought the original scene set Cluny and Katie up nicely, but editors know best, so I don’t argue with them (uh, too much, that is … :)).

    Thanks for stopping by, Ash, and good luck in the contest, sweetie.



    1. I’m kinda bummedd about that scene not making it in. It just makes me wonder how many “other” great scenes never made it into your books, Mrs.Lessman. Oh well. I still LOVE them as they are.LOL;)

      Have a FANTASTIC Sunday/Father’s day tomorrow!!! I hope you get to do something really special and fun.LOL
      Love Ya,


      1. Thanks, Ashley! And as far as other scenes not making it in my books, almost every scene I have ever written has made it in … it’s just that some are not exactly how I originally wrote them, which most of the time is a good thing.

        In A Hope Undaunted, initially I wrote it with a sub story for EVERY couple, but my editor said it was overload, so she made me cut Charity and Mitch’s sub story (a doozie that she allowed me to put into book 2, Sean & Emma’s story, A Heart Revealed), so it’s not as complicated, which again, is a very good thing. That’s what editors are for, after all, right?



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