Love Everlasting (Isle of Hope series Book 2)




Table of Contents


Acclaim for
Isle of Hope
series and Julie Lessman

The Characters of
Love Everlasting


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

A Note From the Author

Author Bio

Other Books by Julie Lessman


Acclaim for Isle of Hope


Isle of Hope
Lessman tells a poignant tale of first loves reunited and families reconciled. Both emotionally captivating and spiritually challenging, this sweet southern love story deals with issues of forgiveness and restoration. Fans of Lessman will be absolutely delighted with this riveting tale!”
—Denise Hunter, bestselling author of
Falling Like Snowflakes


Isle of Hope
, award-winning author Julie Lessman weaves a story of how past choices collide with future consequences. Lessman’s novel has it all: lush details, dynamic characters, and a storyline that keeps you turning the pages. The characters Lessman created in
Isle of Hope
confront their (in)ability to forgive – and as you fall in love with these characters, be prepared to question your beliefs about forgiveness.”
—Beth K. Vogt, author of
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
, and a 2015 RITA® Finalist and a 2015 and 2014 Carol Award finalist


“Fans of Julie Lessman’s historical romances will love this modern day love story!
Isle of Hope
is a heartwarming and inspirational novel about forgiveness sought and restoration found. I’m enamored with the large and wonderful O’Bryen family and I thoroughly enjoyed the romances Julie skillfully crafted for both Jack O'Bryen and his mom Tess. A delight!”
—Becky Wade, award-winning author of
My Stubborn Heart
and The Porter Family series including
A Love Like Ours



Acclaim for Julie Lessman


“Truly masterful plot twists ...” —
Romantic Times Book Reviews


“Readers who like heartwarming novels, such as those written by Debbie Macomber, are sure to enjoy this book.”

Booklist Online


“Julie is one of the best there is today at writing intensely passionate romance novels. Her ability to thread romance and longing, deception and forgiveness, and lots of humor are unparalleled by anyone else in the Christian market today.”
—Rachel McRae of LifeWay Stores


“Julie Lessman's prose and character development is masterful.”

Church Libraries Magazine



Author Acclaim for Julie Lessman

(authors listed alphabetically)


“With memorable characters and an effervescent plot that's as buoyant as it is entertaining,
Dare to Love Again
is Julie Lessman at her zestful best.”
—Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of
A Lasting Impression
To Whisper Her Name 


“In a powerful and skillfully written novel, Lessman exposes raw human emotions, proving once again that it's through our greatest pain that God can lead us to our true heart, revealed and restored. Thoroughly enthralling!” —
Maggie Brendan, author of the Heart of the West and The Blue Willow Brides series


“Julie Lessman brings all her passion for romance rooted in her passion for God to
A Heart Revealed
. Emma Malloy is her finest heroine yet. These characters, with their own personal struggles and the ignited flame of an impossible love, fill the pages of this powerful, passionate, fast-paced romance.”
—Mary Connealy, bestselling author of the Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, Trouble in Texas, and Wild at Heart series


“What an interesting mix of characters. Rather than a single boy-meets-girl romance, Julie Lessman's latest novel takes readers on an emotional roller coaster with several couples—some married, some yearning to be married—as they seek to embrace love, honor the Lord, and uncover a dark truth that's been hidden for a decade. Readers who long for passion in their love stories will find it in abundance here!”
—Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of Thorn in My Heart


“Readers will not be able to part with these characters come ‘The End’.”
—Laura Frantz, award-winning author of
Love's Reckoning


“With an artist's brushstroke, Julie Lessman creates another masterpiece filled with family and love and passion.
Love at Any Cost
will not only soothe your soul, but it will make you laugh, stir your heart, and release a sigh of satisfaction when you turn the last page.”
—MaryLu Tyndall, bestselling author of
Veil of Pearls


Isle of Hope Series

Characters for Love Everlasting



The Hero:


Samuel (Ham) Cunningham:
A pediatrician bachelor at Memorial Health and Jack’s O’Bryen’s coworker and friend.


The Heroine:


Shannon O’Bryen:
A schoolteacher by day/ghostwriter by night, Cat’s twin, Jack and Davey’s sister, and Tess’s daughter.


The O’Bryen Family:


Catherine (Cat) O’Bryen:
Shannon’s twin sister.

Tess O’Bryen:
Shannon’s mother.

Jack O’Bryen:
Shannon’s brother, married to Lacey, and coworker/friend with Sam Cunningham.

Lacey (Carmichael) O’Bryen:
Shannon’s and Cat’s sister-in-law, Tess’s daughter-in-law, married to Jack.

Davey O’Bryen:
Shannon’s, Cat’s, and Jack’s little brother, Tess’s son.

Matt Ball:
Shannon’s, Cat’s, Jack’s, and Davey’s cousin, married to Nicki, Lacey’s cousin.

Nicki Ball:
Matt’s wife and Lacey’s cousin.




Dr. Ben Carmichael:
Tess’s love interest, Lacey’s father, and Jack’s father-in-law.

Chase Griffin:
Associate Pastor of Hope Church, friend of the O’Bryen’s.

Cameron Phillips:
Tess O’Bryen’s friend, Lacey’s uncle, and Ben’s ex-brother-in-law.

Jasmine Augustine:
Sam’s and Jack’s ex-girlfriend and a nurse at Memorial Health.

Mrs. Myra Penelope Lee:
Owner/benefactor of Camp Hope for ill and handicapped orphans.

Mr. Will Hogan:
Seasoned cowboy and all-around coach/handyman at Camp Hope.

Deborah (Debbie) Lynne Holbrook:
Eight-year-old orphan at Camp Hope with health issues.

Karen Carmichael:
Ben’s deceased wife, Lacey’s deceased mother, Tess’s former friend and neighbor.

Mamaw Phillips:
Lacey’s and Nicki’s grandmother.

Spencer Phillips:
Lacey’s cousin and Nicki’s little brother.




To Bonnie Roof—

One of the dearest friends I’ve ever known

and a true gift from God.

Our friendship—like God’s love—will last forever.



I have loved you with an everlasting love;

therefore I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

Again I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt ...

—Jeremiah 31:3-4


Chapter One

Isle of Hope, Georgia, Early Summer


“Okay, smile pretty—hot guys at three o’clock.”

Shannon O’Bryen smiled, more because of her friend Margo’s mumbled man alert than the need to charm any “hot guy.” She shook her head when Margo tugged the neckline of her sequin halter dress a bit lower before casually skimming a pinky along the rim of her Diet Dr. Pepper. When her friend chatted nonchalantly about a book she’d just discussed with Shannon, Cat, Amy, and Becky not five minutes ago, Shannon grinned outright. But when Margo’s finger slid from the rim into her soda, Shannon could do nothing but giggle. The sound set off a chain reaction of laughter around a table in the middle of a fancy fundraiser for Memorial Hospital at Mansion on Forsyth Park.

Peeking over her shoulder, Shannon expelled a sigh of relief, grateful the “hot guys” were only her brother Jack and his coworker, Sam Cunningham. Because although each of the girls around the table were looking for Mr. Right, Shannon was definitely not one of them—
the slinky blue dress and four-inch heels her twin sister Cat had coerced her to wear. Nope, she preferred her Prince Charming confined between the covers of a book, thank you very much, where he couldn’t stomp on her heart.

“Well, one viable ‘hot guy,’ anyway,” Shannon’s twin sister Cat said with a lazy smile. A breeze fluttered her long strawberry blonde hair, the salty scent of the marsh mingling with the hint of chlorine from the marble fountain in Savannah’s historical Forsythe Park. Cat swayed to the music of a five-piece orchestra while Spanish moss swayed in the canopy of oaks overhead, the mischief in her eyes sparkling as much as the water dancing into the fountain. “My brother Jack is taken, but his pediatrician friend—
Sam Cunningham—is still

“And very,
attractive,” Amy whispered, swallowing hard while Margo just stared with saucer eyes, sucking Dr. Pepper off her finger.

Margo gulped and quickly averted her gaze. “Uh … I think you dropped a ‘very,’” she muttered, secretly tracking Jack and Sam as they wove their way through a glittering sea of people and tables in the candlelit promenade. “Far as I’m concerned, that guy just broke the hot scale, because he’s
more than attractive.”

Too attractive.
Shannon watched as Sam flirted with every girl he could on the way to their table, Jack’s warning that Sam was a “player” resonating deep in Shannon’s soul. No matter the boyish twinkle in brown eyes that made every girl feel special or a crooked smile always tipped with tease, Shannon knew better. She had no doubt that beneath that magnetic façade was a man whose good looks and lust for women spelled doom for any girl sucked into his orbit—whirling them in a lovelorn spin that only made them dizzy.

And so sick that avoidance was the only cure.

“Heeeeeey, ladies, I’m in dire need of a dance partner, so who’s willing to help me out?” Dr. Sam Cunningham ambled forward with hands in the pockets of his tux, his shirt and tie as disheveled as the dark curls that spilled over his forehead.
was a total rarity for the man who was usually a walking photo shoot for a Gucci cologne ad, always dressed to the nines like a GQ model with a wardrobe to match.

“You’re in dire need, all right,” Jack said with a slant of a smile, his eyes far more sober than Sam appeared to be, “of a lift home.” Looping an arm around Sam’s shoulder, he zeroed in on Shannon. “Shan, would you mind driving Sam home? I’m up soon on the podium for some announcements, so I can’t take him right now, and he’s pretty hammered. He’s feeling no pain, but I’ll tell you what—his bar tab will give him sticker shock on his next credit card statement.”

Shannon blinked, stomach roiling over going anywhere with Sam Cunningham. “Uh … sure, Jack, but wouldn’t a cab be better?”

“I don’t wanna go home,” Sam interrupted, a faint slur of his words a perfect complement to the glassy look in his eyes. “I wanna dance.” Pausing as if he just realized he hadn’t introduced himself, he dazzled the girls with his trademark smile, complete with a flash of dimples. “Please forgive me, ladies, but I’m Sam Cunningham, and I am hoping one of you might consider dancing with me.” In true Cunningham style—at least according to Jack, who claimed Sam had a genuine soft spot for wallflowers and underdogs—he turned his famous bedroom eyes on the least likely girl at the table, who seldom garnered the attention of men.

Becky Dempsey was a brilliant mathematician who, unfortunately, looked like one too. Unable to wear contacts, sweet Becky was relegated to thick tortoise-shell eyeglasses that magnified her eyes so much, her pupils were as big as eyeballs. At six foot, she wore her brown hair in a short permed bob that matched her mother’s and sported a host of allergies, not the least of which was to makeup and most food. As a result, she had a gangly frame, which did, fortunately, show off clothes to good advantage.

If they weren’t from her mother’s closet.

Sam awarded Becky a truly genuine smile. “How ’bout you, Miss …?”

, no you don’t, Ham,” Jack said with a latch of Sam’s arm, employing the nickname Sam had earned in residency because of his outrageous flirting and show-off tendencies. “Sweet Becky here doesn’t need her feet mauled tonight, so let’s get you home.”

Sam jerked free of Jack’s hold with amazing dexterity for someone swaying on his feet. “I told you, I don’ wanna go home, O’Bryen. I wanna dance.”

“Yeah, well you can dance your way to Shan’s car, dude, because you’re in no shape to do anything but crash.”

“I’ll drive him home,” Cat offered with a look way too eager, jumping up so fast, she jolted the table and everyone’s drinks along with it. She wriggled her brows at Sam while she reached for her purse. “I’ve been wanting to get to know you better anyway, Dr. Cunningham.”

“Soun’s like a plan to me,” Sam said with a wayward grin. “Jack’s been
too possessive of you girls, if you ask me.” He gave Cat a slow wink. “Forbidden fruit, I suppose.”

“In your dreams, Dr. Love.” Jack flashed Cat a wry smile, resorting to his role of annoying big brother that Cat always accused him of. “Sorry, Catfish, but that would be the blind leading the blind, so I’ll stick with the sober and sensible twin.” He homed in on Shannon once again, the plea in his eyes weakening her defenses. “Shan, I really hate to ask, but I don’t trust Sam in a cab because he’ll just go to a club and drink some more.”

“What are you, O’Bryen, my mother?” Sam scowled, and even that looked good on him.

Shannon chewed on her lip, not sure why Jack would put her in a situation like this with a Romeo he’d warned both Cat and her about.

“Come on, Cat, let’s dance …” Sam extended his hand to her sister, practically tripping on the leg of a chair when he rounded the table.

Ignoring Sam’s comment, Jack bent close to Shannon’s ear, kneading her shoulder in a coaxing manner. “Normally I wouldn’t let Sam within a mile of either you or Cat, sis, but he’s hurtin’ pretty badly because Jazz showed up with another guy.” Jack glanced toward the dance floor to where Jasmine Augustine—a nurse at Memorial who was both his and Sam’s ex-girlfriend—laughed and danced with some good-looking guy. “So I don’t trust him to go straight home.
do I trust him with any female in this room but you, Shan.” His smile was laced with apology, reminding Shannon of another conversation in Jack’s office once, after she and Cat had met Sam for the first time.

“Sam and I are good friends, guys, but you two need to steer clear,” Jack’d told them after Sam had left, his voice lowering to a mere whisper. He’d zeroed in on Cat, then, with that warning squint in his eyes. “Especially you, Catfish, because he’s not like other players I know, only out for themselves. Deep down Sam’s a pretty decent guy who actually cares about people, so I don’t think he’s really looking to hurt anybody.” His mouth took a twist. “Unfortunately he does—a lot—because he’s got this innate kindness and sensitivity that disarms most women, setting them up for the fall when he moves on.” Jack had seared them both with a big-brother stare. “And trust me—he

The fall.
Shannon swallowed hard.
Yes, I remember it well …

Jack’s heavy expulsion of air ruffled Shannon’s hair, bringing her back to the present where Sam was flirting with Cat. He shook his head. “I swear, the clown is so lousy with bone-deep charisma, Shan, he can charm the spots off a kid with measles, which makes him all the more dangerous.” He gave Shannon’s shoulder a quick squeeze, fixing her with a look of regret. “So I need someone mature and levelheaded, sis, with an immunity to players, and the only one I know is you.”

Shannon sighed.
Ah yes, my immunity to players. I’ve definitely been inoculated by the best.
“All right, Jack.” She tossed her purse strap over her shoulder and rose with another heavy exhale of air. Pushing her chair in, she gave him a twist of a smile. “But you owe me, big brother.”

“And then some,” Jack said with a kiss to her head. He tucked a finger to her chin. “And don’t let him bamboozle you. The man has a masters in roguery, so it might be good to lend him an ear, but nothing else.” He tugged on her hair. “His address is 665 Parkway, Apt. B, and he keeps a key under one of the potted palms by his front door.”

Her smile slid off-center. “The operative word being ‘potted,’ she said with more sarcasm than normal.

He grinned. “I have his car keys, so Lacey and I will drive his Corvette home later, okay? Just get him inside and make sure he stays.”

Shannon’s mouth went flat. “You want me to tuck him in too?”

Jack chuckled. “Might be a nice touch, but not necessary.” He leveled a finger at her with a mock glare. “I don’t want you within twenty feet of his bedroom, young lady, you got that?” He winked. “I’m trusting you, Shan.”

“Glad one of us does,” she mumbled, shoulders slumping when she saw Sam dipping Cat in a dance move next to the table, almost dropping her.

“Okay, come on, Twinkletoes.” Jack pulled Sam away from Cat to hook an arm over his shoulder, carefully guiding him down the wide, tree-lined walkway dotted with tables. He tossed Cat a warning glare over his shoulder. “And if I ever see you dancing with this joker again, Catfish, I’m going to toss you into the river, you got it? He’s off-limits to you and Shan because he’s dangerous to women’s health.”

“Yeah?” Sam mumbled, stumbling along beside Jack, “then how come it’s
health that took the hit this time?”

“Have fun, you lucky duck,” Margo called as Shannon led Jack and Sam to where she had parked her car. “Sure wish it were me.”

“Me too,” Shannon muttered, wondering if she could talk Jack into putting Sam in the trunk.

“Jack, I’m fine, I swear.” Sam’s argument sounded convincing enough except for a near miss with a chair, and Shannon couldn’t help the ghost of a smile when her brother gave him a Gibbs smack to the back of the head. She could have kissed Jack after he dumped Sam into the back seat of the car instead of the front.
after a slight detour where Dr. Love puked on the parking lot, necessitating quick cleanup with wet wipes from the glove compartment.

Facedown on the upholstery, Sam ground out a low groan that coaxed another smile to Shannon’s lips. “I think I’m gonna die …” he muttered. His voice was no more than a rasp as he lay prostrate across the back seat of her mother’s 1999 Chevy Impala, his bristled jaw flat against her beige upholstery.

“No you won’t, Ham,” Jack said with a degree of sympathy. “You just need to get past this obsession with Jasmine and move on with your life, man. There are other fish in the sea.”

A hiccough interrupted Sam’s moan. “I don’ want fish. I want her. She’s one in a million.”

“Yeah, and so’s the headache you’re gonna have come morning, bro, if you don’t get some decent sleep.” He shoved the rest of Sam’s legs into the car and slammed the door, opening the passenger side to offer Shannon a penitent smile. “I can’t thank you enough, Shan. Jazz dumped him for some new intern, and it’s been a rough week for him, you know?”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she whispered, her heart aching for him despite his inebriated state. “Is there anything else I can do to help cheer him up?”

“Yeah, you can pray for him, and maybe even share some of that wisdom you’re so famous for. Never seen Ham this down before, and it has me a little worried, you know?”

“Sure, Jack.” She peeked into the back seat where snores could be heard while drool puddled on the upholstery. “I feel bad for the poor guy.”

Jack grinned. “I knew you would because you have an oversized heart of gold, kiddo, but not too much, okay? Ham has been known to take advantage of the kindness of strangers.”

A grin tugged at Shannon’s lips as she glanced over her shoulder. “Doesn’t look like he could take advantage of much of anything right now.” She wrinkled her nose. “Except Mom’s car seat.”

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