I’m absolutely thrilled to share an excerpt from A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman, one of my all-time favorite authors! A Wing and a Prayer is a novella from Julie’s O’Connor family saga. A Passion Most Pure is the book that introduces us to the O’Connors and is one of only a few books I’ve read twice. If you’re a regular Romancing History reader you know I rarely reread a book because there are sooooo many to read once! LOL! I highly recommend A Passion Most Pure or any of the O’Connor books. Well, really, any of Julie’s novels for that matter!
And, how fitting is it that we get to visit with the O’Connors on St. Patty’s Day?
Speaking of St. Patty’s Day, Julie is lowering the price on A Wing and a Prayer starting today through March 20! You can pick up your Kindle copy for only $1.99.
And make sure you read to the end, because there’s a giveaway!
She’s dead-set on giving everything to the war overseas …
Even if it means losing everything in a war of the heart.
A street orphan abused and abandoned by an alcoholic father at age five, Gabriella (Gabe) O’Connor has never let a man stand in her way yet. So when a handsome flight officer thwarts her plans to become a Women Airforce Service Pilot, she’s determined to join the war effort anyway she can. Her chance comes when she “borrows” foreign correspondent credentials from the Boston Herald—where her father is the editor—to stow away on a medical ship to the front.
Lieutenant Alex Kincaid pegs Gabe O’Connor as trouble the moment she steps foot on Avenger Field as a WASP cadet. As the eldest brother of a boy whose jaw Gabe broke in grade school, Alex is familiar with her reputation as both a charismatic ringleader and a headstrong hooligan who’s challenged every male and nun from grade school to college. As her WASP flight instructor, Alex eventually expels Gabe when she pulls a dangerous stunt. But when he is an evacuation pilot in France eight months later, their lives intertwine once again, exposing them to a danger as perilous as the German tanks roaming the Reichswald Forest: a love that neither expects.
Check out the book trailer here.
Available on Amazon
SETUP: Although the hero, Lieutenant Alex Kincaid, is attracted to the heroine, WASP recruit Gabriella (Gabe) O’Connor, he wants nothing to do with her romantically, not only because it’s against WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) regulations for an instructor to fraternize with a recruit, but because she’s not a woman he can trust. Unfortunately, Gabe railroads him into giving her a ride home from a local picnic event because she’s on crutches, a turn of events that “cripples” his own resolve to steer clear emotionally. This excerpt begins in Gabe’s point of view, then switches to Alex’s in the next chapter.
Alex slowed as he pulled up to the military gate, greeting the guard manning the gatehouse. Gabe’s stomach quivered while he signed the proffered clipboard with their names before continuing on to her barracks. He offered her a faint smile. “We need to get you inside, resting that leg.”
Halting the Jeep in front of her bay, he wasted no time in carrying her and the crutches to the front door, where a dim bulb lit a postage-stamp-size concrete pad. “Easy does it,” he said as he gingerly set her down on her good leg, his palm warm at the small of her back. He handed her both crutches. “It’s against regulations for me to be inside. Will you be okay if I leave you here?”
“Yes,” she said in a rush, unable to thwart the bob of her throat. Hands slick with sweat, she grappled with the crutches, suddenly shy for the first time in her life.
He waited while she struggled to get her bearings, but she was so nervous, she wobbled as she turned. He immediately gripped her again. “You sure you’ll be okay?” He shot a glance down the lonely line of dingy white barracks, as if contemplating helping her inside.
“The bays are tiny, so I don’t have far to walk, and I plan to go right to bed.” Her gaze flicked down the darkened compound like he had, and her throat went dry at just how alone they were. Yellow lights winked on each porch, the only sign of life between the two rows of housing. A moonlit alleyway flanked by weedy grass separated the two barracks, both it and the bays’ cracked sidewalks crisscrossed with dandelions and crabgrass.
It was still early for a Friday night, so everything was silent and still except for the faint hoot of a faraway owl and the rasp of Gabe’s uneven breathing. “Alex, I … can’t thank you enough,” she whispered, pulse chaotic when he reached around her to open the screen door.
“My pleasure. It was fun,” he said as he tugged her close to pull it wide, propping it with his elbow while he reached around to jiggle the temperamental knob of the old wooden door. Gabe’s heart stuttered at the proximity of his dark-bristled jaw.
Mere inches from her lips.
And that’s when she realized it had been fun. More fun than she’d ever had in her life, and she didn’t want it to end. Ever. She wanted to thank him and she wanted to touch him all at the same time. Without a second thought, she leaned in and brushed her lips to his cheek, totally unprepared for the rush of heat hurtling through her veins. She immediately felt the jolt of his body as he gave a sharp jerk of his head, shock glazing his eyes when the motion instantly aligned his mouth with her own, a shallow breath away.
Gabe had always been one who knew what she wanted and just how to get it, and she certainly had never been a woman to dally. So in the split second that she felt the catch of his breath, she didn’t pause. She didn’t think.
She simply kissed him.
With everything in her, heart thundering over the single most earth-shattering moment of her young life.
She was in love!
Alex gasped, but the sound was swallowed up by the press of Gabe’s lips, soft, pliant and hungry, fusing to his with a need that ignited his own. It was only a catch of his breath, but it seemed like eons that he wrestled with his conscience and lost, returning Gabe’s kiss with a fire that seared his very soul. Her crutches crashed to the ground when she rose on tiptoe to slip her arms around his neck, and her mouth united with his in a mating he never wanted to end. He lifted her off her feet, clutching her with an intensity that shocked him. Groaning, he pressed in while his mouth explored hers, his passion apparently buried so deep, he’d never even known it was there.
Well, he knew it now, and it scared him silly.
“Gabe,” he whispered, voice hoarse as he carefully set her down. He grasped one of her crutches to gently prod it beneath the arm of her bad leg with breathing as ragged as hers. Heart aching, he cradled her face in his hands. “Please forgive me. I never should have done that—”
Her eyes widened. “No, Alex, there’s nothing to forgive—”
“Yes, Gabe, there is.” Struggling to regain control, he removed his hands from her face to retrieve the second crutch, slowly tucking it beneath her other arm. Inhaling sharply, he took a step back, fortifying himself against the hurt in her eyes. “I am your superior and I stepped over the line, which never should have happened.”
“But I kissed you!” There was an urgency in her voice he’d never heard before, a neediness he had no will to exploit.
He steeled his jaw, heartsick over what he had to do. “And I took it a step further, Cadet, which I deeply regret.”
“Well, don’t!” she shouted, lurching forward so fast, those blasted crutches teetered along with his heart. His palm shot out in reflex, girding her waist to keep both of them from falling.
Sleet slithered his veins when he saw the yearning in her eyes. “Don’t you get it, Alex?” she whispered, her face contorted in pain that inflicted some of his own. “I think I’m in love with you because I can’t get you out of my mind.”
His body went to stone. An unholy mix of guilt and shock depleted his air, fingers flinching from her waist as if he’d been burned. And the look of abject longing in Gabe’s face told him he had.
Burned as a PT.
Burned as a friend.
Burned as a man who knew better.
“You aren’t in love with me, Gabe,” he said harshly, as if to convince himself as well as her. He took another step back, fists in his pockets to keep from touching her again. “It takes more than a kiss to fall in love.”
“It was more than a kiss!” she shouted. “You practically devoured me.”
Heat swarmed his collar as he glanced down the empty quadrangle and back. “I did, and it was unconscionable.”
She leaned in with a loud clunk of her crutches, fire replacing the hurt in her eyes. “No, it was uncontrollable, Lieutenant,” she said in a near hiss, “because you’re as attracted to me as I am to you, and I dare you to deny it.”
He stood his ground with a clamp of his jaw. “I don’t deny it. I denounce it because it’s-not-right.” He enunciated each word with brutal clarity, determined to nip this in the bud once and for all. His eyes softened despite the heft of his chin. “It was totally irresponsible of me, Gabe, and I can’t let it happen again.”
Her body went as slack as her jaw. “You mean to tell me you’re going to kiss me like that, then tuck tail and hide behind your almighty rules and regulations?”
Her words stoked his temper, helping his cause. “That’s exactly what I’m telling you, Cadet, because it’s the right thing to do. So I suggest you get some shut-eye, because this conversation is over.” He turned to head toward the Jeep.
“No!” she shouted, crutches clomping hard behind him. “You could have pushed me away when I kissed you—that would have been the right thing to do. But instead you kissed me back like I was your last meal before a forty-day fast, flat-out leading me on.”
He paused at the edge of the sidewalk, head bent while a groan slipped from his lips, her well-aimed barb of guilt hitting dead-on.
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, and Silver Lining Ranch 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, 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.
**This giveaway is now closed!
Congrats to our winner, Kay Enderlin!
And thanks to everyone who stopped by and visited during the week!
Julie is generously offering one lucky Romancing History reader a choice of any of her Indie eBooks. To enter the drawing, tell me about your favorite member of the O’Connor family. If you haven’t yet read any of the O’Connor’s, visit Julie’s Amazon page, then tell me which book you’d like to read the most.