Julie Lessman is a new author who has garnered much writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her Web site at www.julielessman.com.
1.This being the third book, give us a little background on the first two books and then the storyline for A Passion Denied.
The Daughters of Boston series is what I like to call a “family-saga romance” because not only does it focus on the love relationship between the hero and heroine, but also on the romance between the mother and father and the other sibling couples throughout all three books. I suppose I’m not a “typical” romance writer—I like to keep the reader guessing as to whom the heroine ends up with, and I also like to incorporate lots of other surprises as well. So this is one series you DEFINITELY want to read in order to get the fullest impact. That said, here are the jacket blurbs for each book:
Book 1: A Passion Most Pure:
She’s found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister.
As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith’s proper Boston family apart.
Book 2: A Passion Redeemed:
No man can resist her charms. Or so she thought.
Depth of beauty … shallow of heart, Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. Her stunning beauty and flirtatious ways have always succeeded with men … that is, until Mitch Dennehy. Brilliant and dangerously handsome, Mitch is a no-nonsense newspaperman who wants nothing to do with her. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.
Book 3: A Passion Denied:
A Love So True, a Memory So False … and a Passion Denied
Elizabeth O’Connor is the little sister John always longed for. With a fire for God in his belly, he has been her spiritual mentor since she was thirteen, sharing her love of literature and her thirst for God. But when his gangly protégé blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving him, he refuses to act on the attraction he feels. His past won’t let him go there. Unfortunately, “Lizzie” won’t let him go anywhere else … until his dark and shocking secrets push her away.
2. Tell us how these stories came about.
Four life-altering words: Gone With the Wind. When I read that novel at the age of twelve, I was swept away into the world of romance for the very first time. It captured me like no other book had done, and I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere (grin), but I did write 150 single-spaced pages of a story that is the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure.
Fast forward almost forty years later—I was sitting in a beauty parlor reading a Newsweek magazine July 16, 2001 cover article about Christian entertainment. It said Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. My heart jumped, and something in my spirit said, “It’s time to finish your book.” Now, I have to be honest with you—up until that moment, I had never seriously considered writing a book. But the pull was so strong, that I started writing A Passion Most Pure the next month, finally selling it to Revell 4-1/2 years and 42 rejections later.
3. What do you have planned for the O’Connor family next?
Oh my, you wouldn’t believe the trouble brewing in O’Connorland! There are six O’Connor children in all, four daughters and two sons, and each one will have their own story. As a matter of fact, I JUST finished Book 1 of the next series on St. Pat’s Day—pretty timely, eh, for a series about an Irish family? It is Katie’s story, the fourth daughter, which was fun because she is a pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before The Great Depression.
Books 2 and 3 will be about the O’Connor brothers, Sean and then Steven, all during the exciting era of speakeasies, dance marathons, gangsters, G-men and era criminals like Bonnie & Clyde and John Dillenger. Sean’s love interest will be … guess who? Emma, Charity’s scarred friend from book 2, A Passion Redeemed! Steven will be a tall, brooding G-man-type modeled after real-life Elliot Ness. I am very excited because all three plots are very involved, include detailed sub-stories for ALL the character couples (can you say “complicated”???) and each plot has surprises that I hope and pray will blow readers away.
4. Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Oh, you mean how I USED to spend my free time? That’s easy: watching old movies (Gone With the Wind, That Touch of Mink, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Susan Slept Here are some of my favorites), reading more books, gardening and hosting elaborate dinner parties a la Martha Stewart. I’m pretty driven in whatever I do (anal might be a better word). And, yes, I’ve been known to pipe guest’s initials into their twice-baked potatoes, cut napkin rings out of real lemons to hold lemon green beans, and sketch a layout for how the food would be placed on the plate. Which was fine when I was younger and had the energy to do it, but these days, sitting at my computer with a candle burning and a cup of Hazelnut Cinnamon coffee is my pastime of choice.
5. Are you a fulltime writer or do you have another job as well?
I am a fulltime writer now since I quit my part-time travel writer job over a year ago, which is great time-wise, but a little scary in the payroll department, given the tight economy.
6. What types of books do you read and what are your two all-time favorites?
Well, number one is no secret—Gone With the Wind. This is the book that launched my romance-writing career at the tender age of 12! J I think I may be one of the few people around who actually LOVED Scarlett O’Hara … and don’t even get me started about Rhett Butler! Another all-time favorite of mine is To Kill A Mockingbird—incredible storytelling.
Some of my Inspirational favorites are Francine Rivers, of course, particularly Redeeming Love and her Mark of the Lion series—both awesome. I absolutely love Liz Curtis Higgs’ Scottish trilogy, Fair is the Rose, Thorn in My Heart and Whence Comes a Prince, as well as Kathleen Morgan’s Child of the Mist and Daughter of Joy. And Kristin Heitzmann’s Diamond of the Rockies series is another favorite.
Newer authors that I particularly like are Tamara Alexander, Maggie Brendan, Patti Lacy and absolutely anything by my Seeker buds, Mary Connealy, Janet Dean, Deb Giusti, Myra Johnson, Glynna Kaye, Sandra LeeSmith, Missy Tippens, Camy Tang and Cheryl Wyatt.
7. What are you currently reading and what is the short list in your to be read pile?
I am currently reading Maggie Brendan’s The Jewel of His Heart and The Moral Premise by Stanley D. Williams, an excellent writing book recommended by my agent. On my short TBR list? Janet Dean’s Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, Cheryl Wyatt’s Ready-Made Family and Tamara Alexander’s The Inheritance.
8. How can readers find out more about your books and where can they be purchased?
First of all, thank you so much, Patty, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readers. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so through my website at www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, in which I feature book giveaways. Finally, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which I am a part that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find us at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/.
Julie’s tagline is”Passion With a Purpose”, and I heartily agree, as God’s love is woven through her stories in such a fashion that the message cannot be denied. Julie has agreed to give away a copy of “A Passion Denied”, the third installment in the Daughters of Boston series. Post a message leaving your email address coded to avoid spam such as 123[at]charter[dot]net. I have just begun reading it myself and will post my review before the drawing. The drawing will be on May 7th. I also love this poster that her husband created showing all three books. Isn’t it amazing? I am quite impressed.