GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
(The First Street Church Romances Book 2)
(The First Street Church Romances Book 2)
by Melissa Storm
Love's Promise, the second book in The First Street Church Romances by Melissa Storm, has just been released and is ON SALE for only $0.99 (save $4.00) to 11 March.
This release blitz and giveaway is brought to you by Novel Publicity. You can also join the Facebook launch event for some fun and games and a chance to win some great prizes.
She's waiting for her prince to come ... but was he right beside her all the time?
Kristina Rose Maher wants to know why fairytales never happen for fat girls. Certain that diner cook Jeff, handsome and fit, will never want her as more than a friend, she stuffs down her attraction to him. But when she finds herself facing a life-altering weight loss surgery, she discovers she's willing to do whatever it takes to embrace life - and love - to the fullest.
Jeffrey Berkley can't bear the thought of losing the friend he’s only just beginning to realize matters so much to him ... no matter what size she is. But he is also terrified that helping her reach for her dreams will also mean finally reaching for his own - and letting down his family’s legacy in the process.
Both Kristina Rose and Jeffrey must learn to love themselves before they can find a way to make a promise to each other. Will they finally be able to lay their heavy burdens at the Lord's feet, and trust him to bring the happily-ever-after they both crave?
Don't miss this sweet tale of faith, love, and gastric bypass – get your copy of Love's Promise today!
Everything felt heavy when Kristina first awoke from the anesthesia. Her eyelashes almost seemed as if they’d been weighted down or glued to her cheeks. Her limbs were thick and prickled with numbness. Even breathing felt more laborious than it once had. Wasn't this surgery supposed to have the opposite effect?
She struggled against the fatigue and opened her eyes, one after the other, in a slow, careful squint. She wanted to sit up but didn’t quite feel strong enough to do so. Maybe if she pushed down with her arms…
The movement tugged at the IV protruding silently from her arm. It didn’t hurt, but it felt icky nonetheless.
“Good morning, sleepy head,” a nearby nurse said. “I was just coming in to check on you. How do you feel?”
Heavy didn’t seem like the right response here, so Kristina murmured “groggy” instead.
The nurse chuckled and put a heartrate monitor on Kristina Rose’s fingertip. “Heart rate is good. How do you feel besides groggy? Any pain?”
Pain? Oh, yes. Surgery was supposed to hurt. But… Kristina felt absolutely fine. “I think maybe I’m too tired to hurt,” she guessed aloud.
“On a scale of one to ten?”
“Maybe two. A little like I’m hungry from not having eating all day, but nothing unbearable. I thought it would be a lot worse.”
“Well, now, why did you think that? Dr. Daniels is very good at what he does. In fact, you’ll hardly have any scars to show for it. That’s the power of laparoscopic these days. Anyway, your vitals all look great. Would you like me to invite your friends in? They’ve been waiting very patiently to see you.”
Friends? Kristina Rose had only been aware of Elise staking out the waiting room for her. Who else had come to see her? Maisie? Jennifer? Summer, maybe? She nodded, and the nurse left with her chart.
A moment later, Elise burst into the room holding tight to the string of a big, happy “It’s a Girl” balloon. “I’m so glad you’re finally up!” she said, bending down to hug her friend and taking the pain from a two straight to a four. “Oh, I hurt you, didn’t I? I’m so sorry. It’s just I’m very glad to see you. I—”
“You were worried I wouldn’t wake up.”
“I knew you were safe in the Lord’s hands, but I still worried. What would I do without you, Kris?” She shook her head and chuckled morosely.
“Is that for me?” Kristina pointed toward the pink Mylar balloon floating near the ceiling. “You know I didn’t have a baby, right?”
“I know, I know, but I had to get you something, and there weren’t an awful lot of choices in the hospital gift shop. I figured the balloon is light and pretty. It floats, which is kind of like flying, right? And, well, you’re about to take off in this new life and get a lot lighter, too, if I understand it right. So… yeah. Here.” She tied the string of the balloon to the side of Kristina’s bed.
“You were waiting for me to wake up for how long, and that was the best you could do?” Kristina laughed. “But thank you. It’s perfect.”
“Hi, Kristina Rose,” a third person said almost shyly. It was a voice she knew well, but not one she had expected to hear so soon after waking.
“Jeffrey, hi. Thank you so much for coming!” She tried to adjust herself in bed to at least find a more flattering position, but doing so tugged at the IV line again and sent her pain back up to a three after it had only just settled down from the hug with Elise.
Jeffrey came to her bedside and gave her a very light and gentle embrace, then handed her a popsicle still in its shiny, white wrapper. “The nurse wanted me to bring you this,” he explained. “It’s sugar free and will keep your throat from getting too dry.”
“I’m not really hungry,” she confessed.
But then Elise was all over her. “Missy, you better do what the nurse says if you want to get better soon. Need me to unwrap it for you?”
Kristina Rose rolled her eyes. “I think I can manage.” As instructed, she unwrapped the popsicle, which was grape, her favorite flavor since childhood. She took a tentative suck and smiled. “Thank you for bringing this, Jeffrey. It’s so refreshing right now and the sugar’s helping to wake me up a little more.”
“It’s sugar free, but you’re welcome.” He smiled, too.
Elise looked from Kristina to Jeffrey then back again, but said nothing.
“I’m happy you’re okay,” Jeffrey said, ignoring Elise’s quizzical glance. “I prayed for you all day. In fact, I was so distracted at work that I even burned the toast. Mabel sent me here, said a cook who couldn’t even make toast was no good to her anyway.”
Kristina laughed. Had he really been so worried about her? She hated to cause him concern, but she also loved that he’d been thinking of her, that he was here.
“Do you mind if I just say a little prayer with you?” he asked. “It only feels right since I spent the whole day begging God to keep you safe. And he did, so now I need to say thank you.”
“I’ll just… go for a lap around the hall,” Elise announced, slipping out of the room.
“Can I?” Jeffrey asked again, his honey eyes appeared even brighter, his brown complexion even darker underneath the fluorescent lighting. Kristina nodded, and he lowered his lean, muscular frame down onto the edge of her bed then reached for her hands. Their hands and skin often brushed whenever she grabbed a plate of fresh cooked food to serve to their mutual customers or when they were working together to refill ketchup bottles or stock napkins. But all those brushes were casual, unintended, part of a day’s work. As his hands cupped around hers, she felt a small jolt as if her whole body was just now coming to life and shaking off the heaviness of the anesthesia. Like Elise’s balloon, she’d become light, was flying.
“Dear Lord…” Jeffrey began, but honestly, Kristina didn’t even hear the rest.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"This is a must read. It This is the most realistic romance that I have read in a long time. [...] This is such a heartfelt book. I couldn't put t down until I finished the book. The tone of this book was not so much about romance, but more about finding out who we are, and not doing things to please others, but being true to ourselves, of course with the help of God." ~ Rose Jordan
"Love's Promise is a sweet romance and so much more. It deals with the struggle to love one's self in spite of the flaws and imperfections. Of being true to who you are and not letting others expectations/opinions determine how you live your life. Of the importance of faith in yourself. [...] I highly recommend reading Love's Promise. And all of Melissa Storm's books. They are all fantastic." ~ specialangel
"This author very skillfully handles topics that are seldom written about. As this story progresses, it becomes a joy to watch these two appealing young adults find their way to an open and honest relationship with one another. I highly recommend this book, and this author." ~ Lacy46
"This is a wonderful story of love, friendship and faith. It's my first read of The First Street Church Romances. I'm going to go back and read the first one now. Looking forward to the next one too." ~ Amazon Customer
"A beautifully written story that touched my heart. While the main focus is on Kristina's life before an after life-altering surgery, the theme of the book can relate to many things. It was a sweet love story about Kristina and Jeffery and their friendship that blossoms into romance. It was also an inspirational story of how what one sees yourself is not how others see you. It's a story of knowing your self-worth, loving yourself, accepting the love and friendship of others. And most importantly, keeping the faith in God." ~ Sarah DeLong
Guest Post by the Author
Trapped Beneath the Fat: My Gastric Bypass Story
My blog entry for September 14, 2014, the day I finally admitted I needed to have gastric bypass surgery, my confession, my Kristina Rose moment:
I have a secret. Sure, I've let it out in bits and spurts, but fully admitting it has been hard to do. I try my best to appear confident, but I am so crippled by poor self-esteem that I sometimes find it hard to function. I'm more than 100 lbs. overweight – quite literally stuck inside a dungeon of my own making.
It wasn't always like this. Thus, it's taken me a long time to truly recognize how bad this problem has gotten. But now, I'm finally looking at what I've allowed myself to become and am admitting that I can't beat this thing on my own. I've decided to go through with weight loss surgery and this decision, along with the physical and emotional healing process, is something I plan to write about frequently. I think sharing my fears, my shame, and my eventual triumphs will not only help me recover – help me escape – but it could help others like me, too.
So let me begin my confession…
I have always been just a little bit overweight, enough to give me nice curves and to fill out my 5'10 frame. And I always hated myself for that. I wondered why I couldn't be skinny like other girls, wondered why men didn't find me desirable (when in fact many did), and wondering what was wrong with me. During my first year of college, I developed a form of anorexia where I would exercise at a high intensity for 4-6 hours per day even when my doctor told me to cut it out and had allowed myself to become underweight. I didn't care. I had lost the extra 20 lbs. I had always carried around with me and another 30 lbs. on top of that (and all within 2 short months). I could fit into a size 6, and I had guys throwing themselves at me. It was awesome.
But I couldn't keep it up. A health issue came up that led me to regain that 50 and then another 30 on top of that, bringing me to my highest weight ever. This began my yo-yo dieting/exercise period. I would gain and lose that same 50 lbs. over and over again, so quickly it was hard to believe.
The most recent time I lost that 50 saw my health to a new and glorious peak. I was mindful of my exercise addiction (sort of) and took up hiking and jogging as a way to skirt the rules I had set in place for myself. I could run for an hour without stopping. I could hike 30 miles at a go. It, too, was awesome, even more awesome than being skinny and spending my entire day doing cardio had been.
That was the last time I felt good about myself – 2011.
Four things happened to seal my fate as an obese person.
1) I started a business, and it took off! I worked 100 hours per week for about 2 years running. I didn't have the time to worry about my health.
2) My first marriage collapsed. With that came a lot of terrible things that I would prefer to keep private, but these things destroyed any remaining scraps of self-esteem to which I'd managed to cling and brought out the emotional eating monster that haunts me to this day.
3) After a whirlwind romance and remarriage (still very happy, thank you!), I got pregnant… and sick. I put on about 60 lbs. during my pregnancy and racked up 3 complications. One of these was preeclampsia, which caused my limbs and face to swell with water and hasn't gone away to this day, even though my daughter is almost to her first birthday.
4) I herniated two discs in my lower lumbar, an injury that is constantly re-aggravated, causes intense pain, and limits my mobility to an incredible degree.
So now here I sit, writing this extremely personal and–let's face it–incredibly embarrassing journal entry, more than 100 lbs. overweight. And even though I just spelled it out for all to see, I can't help but wonder again and again: HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN TO ME?
You might think that I should have seen this coming, and maybe a part of me did. But another part of me feels like I one day magically woke up with a century-block of fat trapping the real me beneath it.
At first, I tried to laugh it off, tried to empower it off. I'VE DONE THIS BEFORE. I CAN DO IT AGAIN. And I tried, and tried, and tried. Each time, I'd lose 10-20 lbs. and then get hopelessly stuck. The lingering oedema from my pregnancy wouldn't let my weight fall past a certain laughably high set point, and my back injury kept me off the exercise circuits. Believe me, I tried to challenge it, and now have to take painkillers twice per day every day for that folly.
My warped, funhouse-mirror-esque image stared back at me every time I dared to look at myself, its taunting only amplified by the echoing tick of my biological clock. I wanted–I want–another child so badly, but getting pregnant again could very well kill me just as it nearly did the first time. I can't leave my husband without a wife, my daughter without a mother, and I can't accept not being able to give her a sibling, to give her everything.
This is when I started to warm up to the idea of weight loss surgery. And I felt like a total failure for even considering it. I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS ON MY OWN. But I couldn't. I'd tried and failed, had doctors telling me that the oedema and back injury were standing in my way, yet neither condition was improving.
So, wracked with doubt, I asked my OBGYN about weight loss surgery. He knows my case history and special challenges better than anyone, and he said it would be a great thing for me. I took his referral, set the appointment, and started wondering how I would admit to everyone in my life that I had failed, that my fat was a disease.
I'm so glad I went. My new doctor was incredibly supportive and really understood what I was going through. He'd seen it so many times before. He explained that the two medical conditions holding me back were very real concerns, that they transformed my obesity from a condition into a disease and that I really needed to take this extra step.
And I'm starting to believe him.
There, I've admitted my deepest insecurities: my weight and the feeling as if I've somehow failed. And admitting it is the first step to getting better, right?
I am always happy to help others who stand where I stand, have stood where I’ve stood. If you have questions or just need someone to listen, don’t hesitate to reach out.
About the Author
Melissa Storm is a mother first, and everything else second. Her fiction is highly personal and often based on true stories. Writing is Melissa's way of showing her daughter just how beautiful life can be, when you pay attention to the everyday wonders that surround us.
Melissa loves books so much, she married fellow author Falcon Storm. Between the two of them, there are always plenty of imaginative, awe-inspiring stories to share. When she's not reading, writing, or child-rearing, Melissa spends time relaxing at home in the company of her four dogs, four parrots, and rescue cat. She never misses an episode of The Bachelor or her nightly lavender-infused soak in the tub. Because priorities.
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