About The Book:
Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. But when Collin tries to win her sister Charity's hand, Faith isn't sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. To further complicate matters, Faith finds herself the object of Collin's affections, even as he is courting her sister. The Great War is raging overseas, and a smaller war is brewing in the O'Connor household. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure will captivate readers from the first page.
Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series.
I don't know what I would do if I was Faith O'Connor. Do you tell your sister that you have feelings for her boyfriend and soon to be fiance. Or just ignore him and move on, even though you can't help the feelings that you have for the man. Faith has a really big problem don't you think? But will she pick him or find someone else with a Passion to be Pure like her?
Collin slumped at the table, staring at the palm of his hand as he absently rubbed it with his thumb. His stomach was in knots. A hundred thoughts circled in his brain of things he wanted to tell her, but as he sat there, heart racing and hands sweating, he had absolutely no idea what he would say.
She dried the last dish, put it away and neatly folded the dishtowel before turning around, her small frame propped against the counter, as if for support. For the moment, those green eyes were calm, resigned and almost cold. But not quite, he noticed, as she quickly averted her gaze to the floor.
“You can’t hate me, you know––it’s against your religion.”
He was teasing, but she didn’t seem to care. Her head snapped up and her eyes singed him. His heart started pounding, and his slow smile reengaged. She was like a chameleon––calm and placid one minute, all fire and flash in the next, and it never failed to rouse him.
“Get it over with, Collin. Father said you wanted to speak with me, so do it.”
She was clearly not happy with him, and somehow it turned his smile into a grin, which only managed to aggravate her further. He tried to temper it a bit, but it was so blasted hard with her looking like that. A little girl with pouting, green eyes and wild, auburn hair tumbling her shoulders. Holy saints above, she was beautiful! Why hadn’t he realized before just how much? Before he had courted Charity and set things in motion that were now too difficult to change? Things could have been so different, he thought, then frowned. No, they would have never been different, he realized. Something much bigger than an engagement to Charity still stood in the way. His smile relaxed into a sober line.
“Will you sit down, please? It’s difficult to have a conversation with someone who looks like they’re ready to bolt from the room.”
Her gaze focused past him as she slipped into the seat farthest away, hands folded on the table before her.
Collin cleared his throat and shifted in his chair. “I owe you an apology, Faith, and more than one, I suppose. I should have never taken advantage of you like I did. I regret it, I really do. Not just because of what it’s done to you, but what it’s done to Charity …” He looked away. “And to me.”
He closed his eyes, leaned back and massaged his forehead with his fingers. “I saw myself with Charity, Faith, I really did. I thought we’d marry, have lots of kids and grow old together. But that day in the park, something happened. I don’t know, I felt something––something strong—and it scared me. I hated it because it made me feel vulnerable. I didn’t like that. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, either—about you—and believe me, I tried. I was certain if I could see more of Charity, if I could fill my mind with her love, I’d be fine. Only it didn’t work that way. Then I thought, well, once Charity and I are married, I’ll get over it …”
She watched him now with eyes rimmed raw, hands shaking as she picked at her nails.
“I was pretty slow on the uptake, I guess. It wasn’t until the night on the swing that I realized I was falling in love with you.”
He heard her sharp intake of breath as her eyes began to well and reached across the table to take her hand in his. “I love you, Faith. Marry me.”
She jerked her hand from his and stood, quivering as she caved against the chair. “I can’t marry you, Collin.”
He leaned forward. “I know you love me. Can you deny it?”
She didn’t speak, and he jumped up and rounded the table, gripping her arms to lift her to her feet. When she wouldn’t look at him, he grabbed her chin and forced her. “Look at me! Can you deny you love me?”
She stared at him through a mist of tears. “Let me go, you’re hurting my arm.”
“Tell me you don’t love me.”
“I don’t love you.”
“You’re lying, Faith. I would have thought better of you than that.”
“Well don’t!” she screamed, “I’m not better than that. You’ve said your apologies, Collin, now let me go.”
She tried to turn away. He jerked her back. “I know you love me. Don’t you think I can feel it every time I touch you?” He pulled her to him, and she cried out before his lips silenced her with a savage kiss. She struggled to pull free, but he only held her tighter, the blood pounding in his brain. His mouth was everywhere—her throat, her earlobes, her lips—and he could feel the heat coming in waves as she melted against him. She was quivering when he finally let her go.
“You love me, Faith,” he said quietly. “You know that, and I know that. Your heart belongs to me, and nothing can ever change that fact––not Charity, not you and not your god.”
A sob escaped her lips, and she collapsed into the chair, all fight gone. “I know,” she whispered, “I know. Oh, Collin, if only you could tell me what I need to hear.”
He was tempted to lie, to tell her anything to keep her. He had done it once––managed to convince her family he was something he wasn’t; he could do it again. The back of his neck swarmed with frustration and somehow he knew, no matter how convincing the lie, she would know. Somehow that god of hers would trip him up, and then he would lose her forever. It was only seconds before he answered, but it seemed a lifetime. “I can’t now,” he said, his mouth dry, “but I don’t know it couldn’t happen. Maybe you’ll save my soul, who knows?” His attempt to be light fell flat, and inwardly he cursed at how hollow it must have sounded.
“What does it matter anyway? I won’t stand in your way if you want to believe in your god. Please, Faith, just say yes!”
He was speaking too fast, as if he were desperate. He was. The only woman he ever really wanted would not have him, and it was about to crush him. Never in his life had he ever begged a woman for anything. A sick feeling suddenly cleaved to his throat.
She started to cry, and he knew before she spoke what her answer would be. His hands dropped to his sides. Slowly, he walked to the sink to pour himself a glass of water. He emptied it and set the glass on the counter before turning to face her. When he did, he felt a spasm quiver in his jaw. His eyes itched hot as they pierced through her. “That’s it, then? God wins and I lose? Well, I’m glad we settled that. It’s been eating at me for a long time.”
“Collin, please …”
“Please what? Go away so you don’t have to face the fact you’re in love with me?” He moved to his chair, slamming it against the table.
“It wouldn’t work. It has to be right—”
“No! I don’t want to hear it! I’m sick to death of hearing it, and I don’t have to listen. We’re oil and water, Faith. I’m in the real world, and you’re out there somewhere in a world I don’t understand.” For a split second he stared past her before his eyes shifted back, finally resigned. “It’s good for me to go away. You don’t have to worry anymore, Faith. I don’t need a ton of bricks to fall on me to know it’s time to move on.”
He squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the back of his neck. “I suppose marriage needs a bit more than passion anyway, doesn’t it? It helps if you’re on the same wavelength, at least, like Charity and me. We seem to understand each other, and then there’s passion too.” His voice sounded so strange to his own ears, a low monotone, emotionless, almost stream of consciousness.
He heard her move toward him. “You know, Collin, someday we’ll be friends––good friends.”
His eyes flew open, and he didn’t blink once. “I don’t want to be your friend, Faith. I want to be your husband and your lover.”
A dark blush invaded her cheeks. She lifted her chin. “Me, too, Collin, more than anything in the world.”
He heaved the chair against the table again, the sound as explosive as the fire in his gut. “That’s a lie! But, it doesn’t matter now, because I finally get it. I don’t understand it, mind you, but it’s finally sinking into this thick head of mine that we don’t belong together. Not that what we have between us isn’t strong and real. No, this thing is so real it makes us crazy every time we’re even near each other. It’s what most people dream about, and we have it! But you––you’d rather turn your back on something so real for something that’s only real in your own mind.”
“It’s not just real in my mind. God is real, whether you believe it or not.”
“Yeah? Well you can’t prove it by me.”
“Collin, please … don’t do this! You can’t possibly know how sorry I am.”
“Yes I can, Faith.” He started to leave.
He stopped, hand splayed against the door.
“I am sorry, so sorry. And for what it’s worth, I’ll never stop praying for you.”
He turned, all anger siphoning out. “Yeah, you do that.” He took a deep breath and forced a faint smile. “Well then, I guess that’s that. Chapter closed. Man goes to war, ex-fiancée waits for him, and sister moves on with her life. Here’s to a happy ending.”
Tears streaked her cheeks. “I hope so, Collin, she whispered. “I’m staking everything on it. Somewhere in Mrs. Gerson’s Bible it says, ‘All things work together for good to those who love God.’ I’d like to think that’s assurance of a happy ending.”
As he stared at her now, he almost envied what she had. Almost. He hung his head, then glanced up, his lips curved in a tired smile. “Well, one thing’s for sure––I’m glad I’m leaving on good terms. If I’m going to be target practice for some Germans, I’d much rather have you praying for me than against me.”
“Count on it,” she said, wiping the wetness from her face. “And, Collin, I wish the best for you. I really do.”
He studied her, completely certain she meant it. “Thanks, Little Bit.” Without another word, he turned and left, causing the door to creak to an eerie stillness.
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. 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. You can contact Julie through her website at www.julielessman.com