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.

Blessings

A Kiss to Build a SCENE On with Julie Lessman

“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” – Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind

 By someone who knows how?…Hmm…

Maybe this could apply to writers too? “A kiss should be written, and written often, and written by an author who knows how”

  Well, well, an author who knows how is my guest today. Julie Lessman, recently titled Queen of the Kissing Scenes, as I recall from her Seekerville post on Wednesday A Kiss isn’t Just a Kiss – check it out here:

 Now, we all know that there are kisses, and then THERE ARE KISSES! Some kisses bring a flutter, a hint of warmth, a momentary tremble of anticipation – and others waft through your senses like an overheated furnace, branding into your memory for eternity. Oh yes.

 And speaking of kiss branding. Did I mention Julie Lessman is my guest today?  You know, “Romantic tension, thy  name is Julie” Julie Lessman. 😉

And not only is her keyboard hot from writing smokin’ smooches, she’s also offering a HOT option for commenters today. Leave one comment and you’ll be placed in a drawing to win one of Julie’s Daughters of Boston books, or receive her up-and-coming release, A Hope Undaunted. (I’m trying not to have envy here…sigh) Katie’s story looks FANTASTIC and you get a wonderfully alluring sneak peek today. To learn more about Julie and her books visit www.julielessman.com

 As you can see, the theme for today is Gone With the Wind.

 It’s one of Julie’s favorite books – so-…

 Fiddle dee dee, Julie, what do you think makes a good kissing scene?

 Oh, honey, there are SO many things that make a good kissing scene in my opinion, but I think one of my favorites is when there is high drama involved (such as anger, for instance, as in the scene I’ve chosen). I mean, let’s face it, as women we ALL love a man who won’t let a heroine ride roughshod over him, right? My editor likes to refer to it as the “Taming of the Shrew” mentality, which she isn’t overly fond of but I happen to like, so she does let me get away with it every now and then, such as in the scene below from my upcoming novel, A Hope Undaunted. Unfortunately for her, the heroine Katie O’Connor manages to tick off the really nice-guy hero, Luke McGee, and trust me, he does not let her get away with it!

“Katie, are you okay?” Luke loosened his tie and stared, concern creasing his brow as he watched her, her body slumped at the window with a hand to her eyes. She didn’t move, and the tightness in his gut increased. He approached quietly, afraid he would startle her. “Katie?”

“Oh!” She whirled around, staggering against the sill with a hand to her chest.

He clutched her arm to steady her, and the color drained from her cheeks. Softening his hold, he absently grazed her skin with his thumb, then ducked his head and smiled, eyes tender as he studied her. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you. Are you all right?”

She nodded stiffly, her gaze glued to the massive hand on her arm.

Worry wrinkled the bridge of his nose and he braced both palms on her shoulders, convinced something was wrong. Her face was white and her breathing labored, and he could swear he felt a hint of a tremble. “No, I can feel it. Something’s bothering you.” He pressed his hand to her forehead. “Are you sick?”

She jerked back from his hold and butted up against the window, arms crossed and hugging her waist. “No!” she said too quickly to suit him, clearly avoiding his eyes. “I mean maybe a little dizzy, but nothing serious. I just need to go home …”

He shifted, suddenly concerned it had to do with him. He plunged his hands in his pockets and softened his tone. “Katie … is it me? Did I say or do something to upset you?”

She shook her head, gaze bonded to the floor. “No, Luke, really, please, I just need to—”

He nudged her chin up with his thumb, and her lips parted with a sharp intake of breath. And then he saw it. The gentle rise and fall of her chest, the soft rose in her cheeks, the skittish look in her eyes, flitting to his lips and then quickly away. Comprehension suddenly oozed through him like heated honey purling through his veins. Could it be? Was it possible that cold, callous Katie O’Connor was beginning to warm up? To him, of all people—Cluny McGee, the leper from her past? The thought sent warm ripples of shock through his body, thinning the air in his lungs. His gaze gentled, taking in the vulnerability in her eyes, the fear in her face, and all he wanted to do was hold her, reassure her.

As if under a spell, his gaze was drawn to her lips, parted and full, and the sound of her shallow breathing filled him with a fierce longing. “Oh, Katie,” he whispered, no power over the pull he was suddenly feeling. In slow motion, he bent toward her, closing his eyes to caress her mouth with his own. A weak gasp escaped her as she stiffened, but he couldn’t relent. The taste of her lips was far more than he bargained for, and he drew her close with a raspy groan. With a fierce hold, he cupped the back of her neck and kissed her deeply, gently, possessive in his touch. His fingers twined in her hair, desperate to explore.

And then all at once, beyond his comprehension, her body melded to his with an answering groan, and he was shocked when her mouth rivaled his with equal demand. Desire licked through him, searing his body and then his conscience. With a heated shudder, he gripped her arms and pushed her back, his breathing ragged as he held her at bay. “We can’t do this,” he whispered. He dropped his hold and exhaled, gouging shaky fingers through disheveled hair. His gaze returned, capturing hers and riddled with regret. “Believe me, Katie, as much as I want to, I’ve learned the hard way to take things slow. I should have never started this, and I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

                                                                      *************

Forgive him? She stared at him through glazed eyes, her pulse still pumping in her veins at a ridiculous rate. She never wanted this, couldn’t stand the sight of him, and now here she was, tingling from his touch and desperate for more. Addicted to the “King of Misery.” The very thought inflamed both fury and desire at the same time, muddling her mind. Dear Lord, she was torn between welding her lips to his or slapping him silly. With a tight press of her mouth, she opted for the second and smacked him clean across the face.

His jaw dropped a full inch, complemented nicely by a slash of red across his cheek.

Her chest was heaving, but at least it wasn’t from his touch. She narrowed her eyes and clutched her fists at her side, not all that sure she wouldn’t slap him again. “So help me, if you ever touch me again, you will be the sorriest person alive.”

He slowly rubbed his cheek with the side of his hand, exercising his jaw as if to make sure it still worked. His eyes glinted like blue glass, sharp and deadly. Even so, the swaggering smile of old eased across his face. He bent forward, his tall frame looming over her like a bad omen, and his voice held that cocky drawl so reminiscent of his past. “What’s the matter, Katie Rose,” he whispered, “does my touch make you nervous?”

The heat in her cheeks went straight to her temper. She iced him with a cool gaze. “Nervous? Around you? Hardly. You can dress up in a suit all you like, Luke McGee, but to me you’ll always be the same cocky street brat with a twang in your voice and grime on your face.”

She knew her words hit their mark when a red blotch crawled up the back of his neck like a rash gone awry. A nerve pulsed in his temple, but his smile never wavered despite the steel edge of his jaw. One blond brow jagged high in challenge. “Is that a fact? Well then, how about a little experiment? Kind of like when you were eleven and I bet you couldn’t be nice?” He leaned close, his voice as hard as his eyes. “What d’ya bet I can make you nervous now?”

She tried to shove him out of the way. “I’m going home.”

“Not yet,” he whispered, blocking her in with a push to the wall. His voice, like the dominance of his hold, was a force to be reckoned with. “You always packed a wallop for a little girl, Katydid, but this time you picked the wrong street brat. You can turn your nose up at me all you want, but we both know that slap wasn’t so much about an innocent kiss …” He bent close, his eyes on fire and his breath hot against her face. “As how it made you feel.”

His words seemed to vibrate through her, low and thick in the air. She shuddered, and the force of his savage look trapped all protest in her throat.

“To you I’ll always be riff-raff, something vulgar and crude. Well, welcome to my world, Miss O’Connor. And, please, let me show you how we do it on the ‘streets.’ Because if I’m going to take a beating, you can bet your bottom dollar on two things for sure. One—I’m going to get my money’s worth.” A dangerous smile surfaced as his gaze focused on her lips. “And two …” His mouth hovered just above hers while his voice trailed to a whisper. “I’m gonna make you real nervous in the process.”

In a catch of her breath, he took her mouth by force, his late-day beard rough against her skin. A faint moan escaped her lips and all resistance fled, burned away by the heat of his touch, leaving her weak and wanting. His mouth roamed at will, no longer gentle as he devoured her, ravenous against the smooth curve of her throat, the soft flesh of her ear. With a guttural groan, he jerked her close with powerful arms, consuming her mouth with a kiss surely driven by the sheer will to ravage.

And then in a frantic beat of her heart, he shoved her away. She gasped, numb as she thudded against the wall. His chest was heaving and his eyes were hard, focused on her with cool disregard. “There. Now that makes two of the sorriest people alive.” He grabbed her purse from the floor and threw it on her desk, then rubbed his mouth with the side of his hand. “Better run home, Katydid. God knows the riff-raff that roam the street this time of night.”

He turned and walked into his office, slamming the door hard.

She stared, her body still quivering from his rage. Closing her eyes, she sagged against the wall, too stunned to move and too shaken to care. She pressed a trembling hand to her mouth, her lips swollen from the taste of him. She was doomed, she realized, and the thought shivered through her like a cold chill. She wanted a man she didn’t really want, and the very notion weakened her at the knees. He had called her one of the sorriest people alive. She grappled for her purse and put a hand to her eyes.

And God help her, she was.

 Scarlett: Rhett, don’t. I shall faint.
Rhett Butler: I want you to faint. This is what you were meant for. None of the fools you’ve ever know have kissed you like this, have they? Your Charles, or your Frank, or your stupid Ashley

I’ve liked Luke McGee since I first met him as the scraggly tag-along of John Brady – when he was called Cluny. Gee whiz, Julie, he’s grown into a hunk of man, hasn’t he? 😉 And JUST what sassy Katie needs too. Sigh.

 Anyone else hear a sizzling sound somewhere in the direction of the computer? Maybe it’s just me, but I’m in need of a tall glass of ice water and maybe a cloth to wipe the drool from my keyboard. Woohoo. Thank. You. Julie.

 Kissing Quote of the Day:

 “There’s this place in me where your fingerprints still rest, your kisses still linger, and your whispers softly echo. It’s the place where a part of you will forever be a part of me.” – Gretchen Kemp

 Inspirational Kissing Quote:

I want to leave you with one my favorite ‘love’ passages from the Bible, one to meditate on over Valentine’s Day weekend. What is true love? What can two people, united by heart and spirit celebrate this weekend?

 Romans 8:38-39 says it all – Real love. Undeniable love. Unstoppable love. A hero, a bridegroom, a lover and friend who sweeps away all doubt with his all-consuming, neverchanging, forever kind of love.

“Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

   They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
   We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”