Well, if you’ve been a regular visitor, you know I’m a BIG fan of Julie Lessman’s. I have all her books! ALL! Or at least all the published ones 😉 I’m also her BFF – right, Jules? 😉 Just kidding, but she has been a great mentor, teacher, and encourager for the past year. OVER a year. Can you believe that, Julie? The first email you sent me was in May 2009 🙂 And I’m soooo grateful!!!!
Icing to the cake – Julie and I met in person at ACFW last month and I got a real-life hug. She always ends her emails with ‘Hugs’ – but a cyberhug just can’t compare with the real thing. Her personality can truly light up the room – and possibly cause an electrical outage 🙂 And people flock to her. She’s constantly bombarded with fans, friends, and stalkers like me.
Well, today we have a treat. I understand she has a very special sneak peek for us today.
AND A GIVEAWAY of A HOPE UNDAUNTED!!!! Make sure you leave a comment to have a chance to win!!! GREAT BOOK!
What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?
I have to be honest—in each of my four books, animosity between my heroine and hero is present from the get-go, so in cases like that it’s a slow-building friendship that eases into more.
BUT … in my fifth book, A Heart Revealed, it’s different. Sean O’Connor and Emma Malloy are already very good friends, with no indication that they are falling in love. Elements present in their relationship are comfortable annoyance and affection, teasing and respect, components that slowly begin to bubble and rise until they spill over like a pot on the boil, scalding their sensibilities when they realize the danger of being burned.
In the following scene, Emma wants teach Sean to dance to make his girlfriend Rose happy when he takes her to a wedding. The scene begins with Sean’s annoyance when his best friend (Emma) pushes him into learning to dance. But once the lesson begins, the affection and teasing of their friendship grow until it boils over, catching them both by surprise with its heat.
“I know,” she said meekly, the twinkle in her eyes belying her solemn manner. “But if you could have seen the look on Rose’s face when she said how she wished you could dance …”
“I’ve seen it,” he said in terse tone, “and apparently it had a greater effect on you than it did on me.” He huffed out a sigh. “Close the door, Emma,” he ordered, rather enjoying making her pay for forcing his hand. She had way too much influence on him as it was and sometimes it ruffled his Irish. He folded his arms and perched on the edge of her desk, experiencing a sudden twinge of sympathy for both Mitch and Luke in dealing with women like his sisters—strong-willed, stubborn and bent on getting their way. Emma Malloy certainly hadn’t fit into that category until recently, he thought. His lips slanted. Until he’d started dating Rose.
With barely the sound of a click, she closed the door and turned, hands tight on the knob as she stared at him with those soft, gray eyes that always reminded him of a deer about to bolt.
His jaw set. To the devil with the deer—he wanted to bolt, but the shy, hopeful look in her eyes had him by the throat, a talent that Emma Malloy seemed to master without even trying. He blew out his frustration on a wave of noisy air. “You’ve got thirty minutes, Malloy, but I’m gonna warn you right now—Fred Astaire I’m not.”
Her lips curved into that innocent way that always melted his heart, and he found himself relenting—as usual—with a reluctant smile. He lumbered to his feet with a groan. “Okay, Ginger, let’s put your foot where your mouth is.”
“I promise this will be fun,” she said in a rush, hurrying to the cherry-wood buffet against the wall where an RCA Victor phonograph stood ready and waiting. His mouth went flat. Further evidence of her plot to goad him into making Rose happy. He shook his head and watched her while she turned the phonograph on, lifting the needle carefully into place with a scratchy sound before it glided into the record’s groove. The mellow sounds of Duke Ellington’s Three Little Words suddenly floated through the air and oddly enough, his muscles begin to relax. He closed his eyes to enjoy the magic of one of his favorite songs, by an artist Emma knew he loved.
I know what you’re doing, I see it all too clear …
He inhaled deeply, and all of his resistance fled, because he knew exactly what Emma was doing and why. Her mission in life seemed to be to make those she loved happy, and for whatever reason, Emma desperately wanted to see him happy, to make a go of it with Rose, to walk down that aisle into a life she believed would bring him much joy. The air in his lungs released in a slow, tranquil sigh at the gift of Emma in his life. He had never felt this close to a friend, much less a woman, and he marveled at the fact that when he was with her, contentment seemed to purl through his body as languidly as the Duke’s music now oozed through his mind.
His eyelids opened, and there she stood, arms outstretched and an impish grin on her face. “I knew the Duke would work his magic,” she said, taking his left hand in hers and clasping it at eye level. “Which I must admit, has me feeling a wee bit like Charity.” With a chew of her lip, she placed his right hand on her shoulder blade and rested her arm on his. “Now relax, because you’ll find the foxtrot to be a smooth, easy dance very similar to the waltz.”
His lips quirked. “Oh, that helps, since I know how to waltz too.”
She lifted her chin, apparently striving to be professional, but the twitch of her lips gave her dead away. “First, left foot forward, one-two, then right foot forward, three-four …”
Without a word, he followed her effortlessly, as if he had Astaire blood in his veins. It should have felt strange, holding her this way, but somehow it didn’t and Sean wondered why. Maybe because he was from an affectionate family that hugged all the time, he reasoned, so naturally closeness and hugs had already become a part of their friendship.
“Left foot to the side, five-six …” she said, gaze intent on their feet.
Their proximity allowed him to study her close up … the way one side of her mouth tilted when she scraped her teeth against her lip, like now, indicating she was focusing hard on the lesson. For the first time he noticed an almost invisible sprinkling of tiny freckles across her nose, subtle and shy like Emma herself. He caught a faint whiff of the perfume Charity had given her—Shalimar—with its hint of lemon and vanilla, and he breathed it in, the scent teasing his senses with the same innocence and beauty of the women he held in his arms.
“Then left foot forward, one-two …” She glanced up with a smile. “Good … good, you’ve got it, now. Then turn your right foot one-quarter angle, three-four …”
He wasn’t surprised that he picked it up quickly—athletics had always come easily for him, and apparently dancing was no different, but to say he was shocked he enjoyed it was an understatement. The music seemed to flow in his limbs and in no time, he was whirling her in his arms, hand firm against her back as he drew her close with confident ease. He gave her a crooked smile. “Look out, Fred Astaire!”
A breathless giggle escaped her lips as the music stopped, and she put a hand to her chest. “Goodness, you’re a natural, although I should have expected that with your affinity for sports.” She dashed back to the phonograph to reset the needle, shooting a grin over her shoulder. “Once more, and you’ll be giving me lessons, I promise.” She returned, clasping his hand once again.
Maybe it was the door being closed … or Emma near breathless … or even the velvet voice of the Duke that created an intimacy he found he rather enjoyed. He smiled, his voice husky with affection. “So, Mrs. Malloy, tell me how you’ve become so light on your feet—have you been frequenting the dance marathons at Revere Beach?”
He laughed and tightened his hold for a spin. “Then it’s a wonder we haven’t bumped into each other, because heaven knows that’s how I spend my spare time.”
Her eyes warmed with approval. “This will make Rose very happy,” she whispered.
His chest expanded as he studied her with a wry smile, reveling in her praise. “I know, but isn’t it about time you start thinking about my happiness? Dancing and marriage—two things that give me indigestion, and yet you seem intent on prodding me into both.”
It was her turn to laugh, the gray of her eyes sparkling like polished silver. “I am thinking of your happiness, bound and determined that your fears will not keep you from all God has.”
The music stopped, but he retained his hold, assessing her through pensive eyes. He nudged a finger to her chin and smiled. “So that’s how you spend your free time, then—as a guardian angel to the people you love?” His thumb grazed the curve of her jaw, marveling at its silky touch. “Tell me, Mrs. Malloy, just how did I rate you as a friend?”
“Why, as a favor to Charity, of course,” she said with wink, the action so uncharacteristic that it made him laugh outright. “She asked me to keep an eye out for her big brother because … well, apparently he has a few flaws …”
“Flaws?” He released her with a cross of his arms, eyes in a squint. “Such as?”
She scrunched her nose. “Well, she says you’re a late bloomer for one …”
She peeked up, lips curved in a tease. “Oh, you know, a mature man on the outside, but inside, nothing more than a little boy who refuses to grow up and fall in love.” She nibbled on her lip as if to suppress a grin. “Which, Charity claims, is simply because you’re a little …” There was no mistaking the sass in her eyes now. “… dense.’”
His jaw dropped, along with his arms. “I’ll show you dense.” He tickled her, the plane of his hand to the side of her neck, causing her to squeal and tuck her head in a knee-jerk reaction.
“I didn’t mean it, I promise,” she shrieked with a giggle, twisting to escape.
Laughing, he pinned her arms to her sides, eyes narrowed in a mock glare. “Say it, Emma—Sean O’Connor is not dense; he’s one of the most brilliant men I know.”
Cheeks flushed with fun, she masked her humor with a serious sweep of lashes followed by a show of humility that softened the gray of her eyes. “Sean O’Connor is not dense,” she repeated slowly. “He’s one of the most …” She gave him an innocent blink. “brilliant men I know.” A grin broke free as she plucked the half-eaten Cherry Mash out of his pocket and lurched away. “Except at chess!” she shouted, her giggles bouncing off the walls as she skittered for protection on the other side of the room. She faced him at the window, chest heaving and palms braced on the ledge, the candy bar smashed in her hand. Behind her, a tangerine moon rose ripe in a starry sky, its hazy glow encircling her like a halo despite the devil in her eyes.
The thrill of the hunt broadened his grin as he took his time, gait slow and easy as he rounded her desk, his gaze hungry as it locked on hers. “Give it back, Mrs. Malloy,” he whispered, feeling the adrenalin of horseplay that pumped in his veins.
“No!” she cried, more giggles bubbling over. She jerked her chair to block his way, then eased around the desk waving the Cherry Mash like a taunt, her impish smile reminding him of Gabe. “Not until you learn the lindy and promise to leave the candy at home when you go to this wedding. You may be a late bloomer, but at least you won’t smell like a little boy.”
That did it. Slamming the chair in, he lunged, surprising her with a firm clasp of her arm. He dove for the Cherry Mash, but she fought him with shrieks of wild laughter, the candy bar clutched tightly behind her back. He reeled her in and grinned, challenge coursing his veins as he gripped her to his chest. “Give it up, Emma,” he breathed, “you won’t win.” Locking her with one arm, his other circled her waist while his hand wrestled with hers to recapture the candy.
Her body stilled … and in a catch of his breath, everything changed. One moment she was laughing, and in the next, her laughter faded away, leaving her lips parted with shallow breaths while gentle eyes slowly spanned wide. The effect totally disarmed him, causing his heart to thud to a stop. Silence pounded in his ears as he became aware of her body pressed to his, her warmth, her scent engaging his pulse to a degree that jolted him. He swallowed hard, feeling the rise and fall of her chest, the burn of her hand embedded in his, and a flash of heat traveled his body until it scorched in his cheeks. He flinched away. “Emma, I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to manhandle you.” He stepped back and plunged his hands in his pockets, desperate to deflect the embarrassment he felt. His smile was awkward. “Keep the candy then, I have more in my bottom drawer.”
WOOHOOO!!!! Nobody does it like Julie! Wow, Jules that is a FANTASTIC sneak peek into Sean & Emma’s story. The hint of it in A Hope Undaunted was enough to whet my appetite. I can’t WAIT to find out how this all turns out. I really like Sean & Emma – Emma seems like such a sweetie. A tease, but a sweetie all the same. Now…er… how long do we have to wait for this one?
THANKS SO MUCH for being my guest today, Jules.
When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.
31-33Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
Is life hard? Do you ever question ‘why’?
Remember, there is no difficulty, brokeness, pain, or distress that is too big for the Infinite God.
But he is not only God – He is also Father. And these ‘stockpiles of loyal love’ are yours and mine. His kids’.
Dance among the piles. Revel in their comfort. Know that they are endless and free.