A Dare and a Prayer
SETUP: Henry is walking Amy back to her quarters when they get into a fight over a kiss he gave her in the last chapter. The following excerpt begins at the end of a chapter that is in Henry’s POV and continues with the beginning of the next chapter in Amy’s POV.
Blasting out a sigh of frustration, he gouged fingers through his hair, his anger tapering off when he realized they wouldn’t get anywhere with both of them shouting. “Look, Amy, I’m sorry if you’re upset,” he said quietly, “sorry if I read signals you didn’t intend to send, but the truth about that kiss is that you came on to me as much as I came on to you because whether you want to admit it or not, you liked it as much as I did, and I dare you to deny it.”
“Ohhhhhh!” Amy spun around and kicked at a rock, tears filling her eyes and dousing her temper because she knew he was right—she couldn’t deny it, but oh, how she wanted to! She clutched her arms to her waist, hating the fact that she’d gone and done exactly what she’d vowed she wouldn’t do—give Henry Dennehy an “in.” In one jagged beat of her heart, the memory of “the kiss” invaded her mind, and shame broiled her cheeks.
An “in” in more ways than one …
She bowed her head, hand to her eyes. Over the last week, she’d done everything in her power to purge him from her mind, but the memory of that kiss refused to comply, haunting her day and night until she wanted to scream. Months of spending time with him at Camp Susupe, on base, at mess and chapel, had softened her toward him, his easy nature, his ready humor, his dogged resistance. But it had been his love and compassion for Li, Koyu, Kei, and the children, and his sweet affection for Sister Genevieve and the sisters that had stolen her heart, along with the wild little boy she saw so often inside of the man.
Even so, she’d held her emotions at bay, unwilling to fall for a man with more faith in himself than in God, more interested in women than in just one. But then that kiss had sealed her doom, and now the very notion that she was falling under his spell completely overwhelmed her. Shoulders slumping in defeat, she had no power over the tears that slowly trickled her cheeks.
“Amy,” he whispered, his voice suddenly closer than before, “don’t shut me out, please. I care about you—more than I ever expected to, so I’m asking you to give me a chance.”
A chance. She slapped at the tears on her cheeks. Unwilling to turn around, she raised her head, as stiff as the fists clenched at her sides. “What? To break my heart like you do every other girl?”
She startled when he gently turned her around to face him. “No,” he said softly, stepping back to bury his hands in his pockets, looking more like an uncomfortable little boy than the confident Romeo who wreaked havoc on women. Those broad shoulders lifted in an awkward manner. “I mean, that’s not my intent,” he said, voice fading to low, “at least not anymore.”
She folded her arms to her waist, as tight as the clip of her voice. “Then, what exactly is your intent, Henry?”
Even in the moonlight, she could see a ruddy blush creep into his face as he gave another shrug. “I don’t know,” he said with a cuff of his neck, gaze pinned to his boots rather than her face. “I just know that I like you—a lot—and I enjoy your company.” He finally glanced up, his serious gaze locking onto hers. “I guess I just want to get to know you a whole lot better, that’s all.”
“You mean romantically.” Her tone was flat.
The edge of his mouth tipped up in a near-crooked grin. “Well, yeah—I mean after that thunderbolt of a kiss—come on. I’m pretty sure deep down, that’s what we both want, isn’t it?”
Her heart cramped. Oh, Henry—I do. But not ultimately with you …
He moved in once more to buff her arms with those magical hands, true to their skill when she felt the heat begin to build all over again. His voice was a mastery all its own as if massaging her like those practiced fingers. “I want more than kisses, Amy—I want you. Your laughter, your keen mind, your purity and your deep faith, your love of children and innate giving to others, and especially your heart for Li and her sisters.” As if feeling her weakness, he slowly pulled her in, his breath warm against her ear before he teased it with his tongue. Her eyelids weighted closed like lead as her breath grew as ragged as her resistance. “I want all of you, Amy Leigh,” he whispered, skimming her jaw with his lips before taking her mouth with his own.
She caught her breath as that same traitorous sensation of fire kindled deep in her belly to capture her all over again, rendering her too weak to fight the pull of his arms, the press of his body, the taste of his mouth mingling with hers.
They were both breathless when he finally pulled back to touch her forehead with his, her body thrumming while his hold remained as possessive as his kiss. “Please, Amy, give me a chance,” he whispered, leaning to nuzzle his way to the lobe of her ear, gently taking it in his mouth with a groan that matched hers to a rasp.
Nearly gasping for breath, she pushed him away, stunned at the control he seemed to have over her. This may be what her body wanted, but she knew to the depth of her soul it wasn’t what her heart wanted and more importantly, what God wanted either.
Resist the devil and he will flee.
Battling a hard shiver, she squeezed her eyes shut and prayed, arms shaking as she held him at bay. Lord, help me, please …
“Amy? What do you say?” He broke her hold when he slowly slid his arms to her waist to draw her in once again, his whisper warm against her skin. “Give me a chance, please?”
Her eyelids flew open and alarm curled in her stomach when his eyes sheathed closed, his body leaning in for another kiss.
“No!” she shouted, no longer concerned with who might hear or who might see. With a ferocity she hadn’t known she possessed, she slammed her palms to his chest so hard, he literally stumbled back, mouth hanging open in shock. Backing up considerably she bludgeoned a stiff finger in the air. “You’re a devil, Henry Dennehy, and if you ever touch me again, I will scream my fool head off, do you hear?”
His gaze quickly darted up and down the nearly dark road before facing her again, scratching the back of his neck with a hint of that crooked smile he wielded against her and every other woman. It shadowed his lips with tease despite a telltale groove between those golden-blond brows. “Uh, I think everybody heard, Princess,” he said with a touch of humor he apparently hoped would soften her stance.
“You can smirk all you want, Hotshot, but you and I?”—she waved a hand between the two of them—“we’re done.” She spun on her heel to walk away.
“Amy, wait,” he said in a near plea, his hand mere inches from grasping her arm before she jerked away and opened her mouth to scream.
“No, wait!” He distanced himself on the double, palms in the air. “See? I’m backing off, okay? So don’t scream, please?” Huffing out a blast of surrender, he raked a shaky hand through his hair. “Look, Amy, I won’t touch you again, I swear, but I have a duty to escort you to your quarters, so please, can’t we at least discuss this while I see you home?”
Arms barricaded to her chest, she assessed him through narrow eyes, wondering if she could ever trust a man like Henry Dennehy. A melancholy sigh slowly seeped through her lips when she suddenly realized she couldn’t even trust herself with a man like him. “Yes, we can discuss it, Lieutenant, as long as you stay six feet away.”
He blinked, that formidable jaw disengaging once more before it snapped shut in a tight compression that told her she’d effectively engaged his temper. He slammed his fists into his pockets and started walking, gaze straight ahead.
Good. Temper she could deal with. Passion, apparently not.
About the Author:
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.
Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, Isle of Hope, Silver Lining Ranch, and The Cousins O’Connor series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 21 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction Magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017-20, 2021 and 2023, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner.
Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.
CHECK OUT JULIE’S CONTESTS!
In honor of A Dare and a Prayer’s book birthday, Julie has two contests going on where you can win the following:
GRAND PRIZE (2 chances to win!):
—$50 Amazon gift card or $25 Amazon gift card
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—A character named after you or a loved one in her next book and a signed paperback copy
—Your choice of one paperback from Julie’s list of top-selling CBA authors, including Tamera Alexander, Colleen Coble, Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter, Robin Lee Hatcher, Nancy Naigle, Cara Putman, Deborah Raney, Katherine Reay, Becky Wade, and Beth Vogt.
RUNNERS-UP PRIZES (8 chances to win!):
—Choice of three of my e-books
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So, check all the details out at her Journal Jots Blog HERE and GOOD LUCK!
A Dare and a Prayer is the third installment from The Cousins O’Connor series. Even thought it is part of a series, I believe each one should not be missed. I adored the first two books and this one is no different. I loved the interactions and chemistry between Amy and Henry. I really admired Amy all throughout the book. Overall, a wonderful, inspiring and sweet story.
Five plus stars is what I will be giving A Dare and a Prayer. I believe fans of historical romance with strong emphasis of strong women during the World War II era, will definitely want to give this one a read. I will be on the lookout for more books from Julie Lessman in the future.
I received a digital copy of Julie Lessman’s A Dare and a Prayer from the author, but was not required to write a review, nor a positive one. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.