October 15, 2012

Jeremiah Jones

There are so many things I want to say about Jeremiah here in his feature but can't. After conferring with several of my closest reader friends and trusted hero girls who know this novel, they adamantly agree this is the right call. This is also the reason for omitting the excerpt for this feature. Preserving the full reader experience of this historical romance is too important.

When I formed this blog, I wanted to deliver you exceptional heroes. And to deliver you Jeremiah Jones, I’m going to need you to trust me more than you ever have. My review of The Messenger on Goodreads stressed these things:

  •  This novel is geared for an astute reader with a strong attention span. Learning to be comfortable with Quaker vernacular takes some getting used to.
  •  This novel is first person in both the hero and heroine's point of view and if you’re used to third, especially in romance, this takes some adjustment as well.
  •  The first third of the novel reads slow. Understand me when I stress that slow is not a euphemism for boring. Hardly. But Jeremiah reveals himself to the reader the way a flower in the desert blooms. Hannah is the rain and their mission, even with the dangers, is the sun. Together they draw Jeremiah out and as the chapters tick off, you don’t realize he’s opening himself to you until his pain, fears, hopes and frustrations have become yours.

Excerpt omitted.

A little behind the scenes in the inner-workings of FHF is this. As I read a novel that's advanced for consideration, I use an index card as a bookmark. When I reach a scene where the hero presence is overwhelming and he's getting into my soul, I write the page number of the scene on the card. If the hero earns a feature, these become the pool where I select the excerpt for the feature.

Jeremiah had six of them, and one with two stars beside it I so badly wanted to include because you would all skip the wait for the giveaway winner announcement and buy the novel now. Which we love here at FHF and has happened quite often. But I think the power of those moments were so profound because of the careful character development and coming through the hero's journey with him that I've already mentioned.

So yes, I'm holding out on you with Jeremiah. When you've enjoyed the incredible reader experience of Jeremiah and his story, you'll understand. And come back and thank me and the fellow hero-girls who concurred this was the way to go. So now we're going to tread lightly through his attributes to that same end.

Gallant Score: Every one of them well-earned. For his country, and for his heroine.

Wounded Score: Yes. What you're seeing is correct. The first ever five-head wounded score here on FHF. I can preserve the reader experience and still tell you Jeremiah's wounds are both emotional and physical. Because you're going to find this out very quickly in the novel and it is revealed in the FHF exclusive from the author, Jeremiah is missing an arm.

Softie Score: When animals are injured in the wild, experts tell you leave them alone. Their wounds have hindered their flight or fight response so their option to flee isn't available, which only leaves the fight instinct to defend themselves. So they growl, snap, posture, etc. because they don't understand that the people coming at them with nets or syringes want to help them and not hurt them. They just want to be left alone. This is Jeremiah.

Stupid Strikes: See Softie Score. But I can't fault him for it. I understood it when it happened, and am surprised that as wounded as Jeremiah is body and soul, he didn't score higher here. I'm confident the reason he didn't is because beneath the wounds beats a heart of integrity, honor, and compassion.

Swoon Score: Like Jeremiah's wounded score, it took more time to turn the page of his novel than to decide this was a full five. FHF followers and my critique partners know wounded hero is my drug of choice, but even if that were not so, Jeremiah would still earn a five on gallantry alone.

 About Jeremiah Jones's novel The Messenger (released March 1, 2012):

In a time of war, can two unlikely heroes find the courage to act?

Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith... until her twin brother joined the Colonial cause and ended up in jail. She longs to bring some measure of comfort to him in the squalid prison, but her faith forbids it. The Friends believe that they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. She is not allowed to visit him, even if she were able to secure a pass.

Jeremiah Jones, a Colonial spy, needs access to the jail to help rescue men important to the cause. Upon meeting Hannah, a plan begins to develop. Who would suspect a pious Quaker visiting a loved one?

But Jeremiah is unprepared for Hannah, for her determination to do right, to not lie. How can one be a spy and not lie? Hannah, in turn, is surprised by Jeremiah... for the way he forces her to confront her own beliefs, for the sensitivity and concern that he shows her despite the wounds he still carries.

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

About Jeremiah Jones's author:
Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoes, The Cubicle Next Door, and She Walks in Beauty.

A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area. Visit http://www.sirimitchell.com

The FHF exclusive directly from the author:
Jeremiah is secretly frightened that he's insane. He has no other way to explain why he would still be able to feel an arm that has been amputated. As you can imagine, this leads to a sort of push-pull of emotions, a see-sawing between trying to ignore his suspicions and trying to deal with them. And when he admits his feelings for Hannah, it heightens his fear.

In creating Jeremiah's character I was interested in learning how wounded veterans coped in an era 200 years before our own. As a military spouse, one of the most tragic aspects of the wars we've been involved in is the number of wounded that come back from the battlefield and have to learn how to adjust their hopes, their dreams, and the basic rhythms of their lives. The questions, the fears, the adjustments Jeremiah had to face would be recognized, I believe, by his modern counterparts.

The giveaways:
We have a drawing for one print copy of Jeremiah Jones's novel The Messenger to a randomly chosen commenter in the drawing that closes at midnight central time on October 30th. Just request to be in the drawing for the book.

If you already know Jeremiah's story, please feel free to share how much you love him but please, PLEASE use discretion with what you share here in the comments for the new readers.

I'm doing my part to preserve the amazing journey that is discovering this hero in his pages the way Siri intended, so for the $10 Amazon or B&N gift card drawing for this feature, go share a link to Jeremiah's feature on your Facebook page or social media outlet of choice, and tell me you did that in your comment. This is for Jeremiah's feature only. Come November, we're back to names of characters but the FHF followers have gotten very good at that. =)

As always, if you are not a blog follower with your e-mail address in your profile so I can find you if you win the drawings, please leave your e-mail in an anti-spammer format like reluctantspy at heroesoftheamericanrevolution dot com. Now let's play!

October 1, 2012

Steven O'Connor

*Deep, shuddering hero-girl sigh* That's really the only way to begin Steven's feature. Julie's brand is Passion With A Purpose and believe me, it is. With that established, I'm very comfortable reporting Steven O'Connor is a romantic hero so hot, you should wear oven mitts when reading A Love Surrendered. Steven is a 1920's prohibition agent, bee's knees handsome, with that oh-so-endearing wounded heart this hero-girl just eats up like homemade ice cream. Let's meet Steven and get those orange heads popping as we hearken back to the Roaring 20's.
From A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman:

     Billy eased her to the steel railing, and she shivered again, remembering "Harv's" near kiss on the boardwalk. That was the first kiss any boy ever tried to give her, and she was quite sure it didn't count. No, it'd left her shaken and nauseous, and a true first kiss had to be magical.
     Didn't it? Like a moonlit kiss on this piazza with a handsome man like Billy who actually stirred her pulse? Her mind suddenly leapfrogged to Steven O'Connor, and heat braised her skin. All at once her stomach lurched when Billy molded his body to hers, causing panic to rise in her chest. His mouth slid softly to her throat, and she forced herself to relax, determined to enjoy this milestone in her life. And then with a harsh catch of her breath, he feathered her ear with his mouth, tongue invasive. Frantic, she tried to push him away but he only locked her tighter, his breath hot against her skin. "Oh, babe, I never met a girl like you--"
     "Sure you have, Brubaker, dozens of times, at this very railing alone." Steven O'Connor strolled forward, hands loose in the pockets of his blue serge slacks and lips sculpted in a smile colder than the cast-iron statue she'd passed on the Pier.
     Heat singed Annie's cheeks when a swear word hissed in her ear, and she gasped when Billy spun around. "You looking for trouble, O'Connor? Because if you are, I'll give it to ya."
     Steven folded his arms, tone casual despite a tic in his jaw. "Trouble? Naw, but you are." His dangerous smile gleamed white in the dark. "Ever hear the term 'age of consent'?"
     Billy didn't answer right away, but Annie saw the strain in the clench of his fists. "What the devil are you talking about? I ain't done nothing wrong."
     "Not yet." Steven nodded to Annie. "But look at her, Brubaker, she's jailbait and way too young for what you got in mind."
     "That's her decision, fuzzball, not yours."
     Annie eased away, arms clutched to her waist as Steven arched a brow. Gaze lidded, his chiseled face was calm and matter-of-fact as he held out a hand. "Want to stay with him, Annie, or come with me?"
     She shot into his embrace, burying her face in his shirt while she sobbed against his chest. His arms closed around her like a steel fortress, and when he spoke, his voice was as biting as the sudden gust of wind whipping her back. "If I ever see you around Annie or anybody this young again, Brubaker, I'll toss you in the cooler so fast, you'll have frostbite."
     "Yeah? On what charges, flatfoot?"
     Amusement laced Steven's tone. "Oh, don't worry, you two-bit greaseball, I'll come up with something--assault, maybe, or even that rotgut stashed in your coat."
     Annie sniffed and pulled away. The steely smile on Steven's face appeared all the more ominous, given the shadow of bristle on his hard-angled jaw.
     "Or maybe just because you're downright ugly. Either way I have friends in the precinct who owe me favors, so go ahead, Brubaker, I'm beggin' you to just give me a shot."
     Billy cursed and shoved past, leaving Annie quivering in the cold while she stared at the floor, too embarrassed to meet Steven's eyes. She heard his noisy sigh before he took off his jacket and draped it around her shoulders with a parental air. "I'm taking you home, kiddo."
     "But Peggy--"
     He gripped her arm, pulling her up short, his glare making her squirm. "I don't care about Peggy. She can handle this, you can't. You're too young."
     "I'm as old as she is," she said, a pout in her tone as he dragged her inside. "Or will be."
     He held the door, palm hard against the small of her back, steering her in. "Peggy's been around, you haven't. In a place like this, you stand out like a sore thumb, begging for trouble."
     She wheeled on him with fire in her eyes. "I am not stupid, you know, nor some dumb cluck who's gonna let every Tom, Dick, and Harry take advantage."
     He angled his brow. "No... just every Harv, Grove, and Billy."
     She blinked, cheeks burning at the truth of his statement. She looked away, tone angry despite tears pricking her eyes. "I don't care, Steven, you treat me like I'm a kid and I'm not."
     He chucked a finger to her chin, his tone suddenly soft. "No, you're not. You're a young woman too special for a place like this, Annie, mixing with the likes of Joe, Peggy, and Erica."
     "And you?" she said with a hike of her chin.
     He smiled. "Yeah... especially me."

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score: Steven is a man determined to right the sins of his past by not repeating them. He works hard to protect Annie's innocence, even from himself. And the biggest gallant moment is a spoiler (and WOW what a twist when it came) so I'll let you enjoy it like I did when it comes. Or rather, let it rip your gut out. In that moment your heart is going to break right along with Steven's.

Wounded Score: If guilt could walk around with a badge and a gun, it would be Steven O'Connor. His remorse over his past failings is such a part of who he is and you genuinely understand that as a reader. You can't help but love him for his sincerity to never return to the man he once was. But the problem is that determination shackles his heart inside the body he's put on lockdown.

Softie Score: Steven earns almost all of these in moments with his family. He's great with kids, always ready to help his mom and dad, and under the badge and the scars on his heart, there's a tenderness there that runs deep. I (heart) Steven O'Connor!

Stupid Strikes: I say this here often but the more they're wounded, the more they're inclined to do dumb things. While all may be fair in love and war, Annie's falling in love while Steven is at war with himself to keep her as far away from him as possible for her own good. So sometimes the tempers flair and things are said and done our hero will add to the long list of things he wishes he'd never done.
Swoon Score: Potholders. Seriously. Or at least one of those old-school paper fans on the wooden sticks. Preferably with a picture of Steven on it. Except that would be counter-intuitive. Nevermind. If you want to swoon all over a tortured hero trying to do the right thing while saving the dame and unlocking how God can use a man's friends, family, and even his own failures to gently draw that man out of guilt and shame to a relationship with Him, you will want this book.

About Steven O'Connor's novel A Love Surrendered (released TODAY October 1, 2012):

She's hoping to find her first true love. He's hoping to forget his. Will her secret come  between them?

Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy has moved to Boston and is embracing the city life, with a new name and a wide-open future. When she gets involved with a fast crowd at Ocean Pier--one that includes the handsome Steven O'Connor--she is pulled deeper and deeper into a world of rule breakers and mischief makers. She finds herself drawn to Steven and the whole O'Connor family. But a secret Annie is keeping has the power to destroy her best-laid plans.

Will Steven ever see her as more than a sweet country girl who need protecting? And will he break her heart when he finds out who she really is?

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and the emotional twists and turns Julie Lessman fans have come to expect, A Love Surrendered will ignite your senses and inspire your spirit.

Amazon.com   Barnes & Noble  Christianbook.com

About Steven O'Connor's author:
 Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.” Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010 and is followed by A Heart Revealed and A Love Surrendered. You can contact Julie through her website at www.julielessman.com.

The Fiction Hero Feature Exclusive from the author: 

Well, originally I wanted to make Steven O’Connor an FBI agent rather than a Prohibition Agent because I thought it sounded more dangerous. BUT … I also wanted to model him after Eliot Ness, the very famous and VERY handsome Prohibition Agent (hubba, hubba!) who took Al Capone down.

You see, I used to watch the Untouchables TV show years ago that starred Robert Stack as Eliot Ness. In that show, Ness was a quietly strong and incredibly ethical and honest hero who didn’t pull any punches. Kind of a “still waters run deep” type of guy, which I LOVE! So that’s what I wanted Steven to be. He starts out in A Passion Most Pure as a sweet, shy and good little boy who goes off the beaten track in college during the Roaring 20s, butting heads with his father and morality. When his wild lifestyle almost threatens his father’s life in A Hope Undaunted, Steven does a 180 and becomes honest and moral once again, which is why he becomes a Prohibition Agent. Only problem is, the morality and ethics are based on his guilt, not on his faith in God, which, of course, changes by the end of the book.

Now for the giveaways:

We have drawings for a print copy of Steven's novel and a separate drawing for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card for those of us who couldn't wait and bought the e-book (like me!) and have already read A Love Surrendered. FHF's veteran followers know the drill. Just tell me book or giftcard in your comment, and if it's the giftcard, name a character from the novel not used in the excerpt and once that character has been used, later commenters please choose another. Now let's talk heroes!

=> THIS JUST IN! Julie Lessman is donating a second book, winner's choice from any of her published titles! Everyone who leaves a comment will be eligible for this drawing. Thank you Julie!
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