Excerpt, Giveaways, Guest Blog, Reviews

Guest Post and #Review of Keeping a Warrior (Loving a Warrior #2) by Melanie Hansen w/a rafflecopter giveaway! #contemporaryromance @MelJoyAZ @carinapress

Keeping a Warrior

by Melanie Hansen

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance

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BLURB:

Devon Lowe is a survivor.

A survivor of war. Of combat. And of a betrayal by men she considered her brothers-in-arms. But her trailblazing work as a Cultural Support Team member working alongside the Navy SEALs is too important for her to back down now.

Fresh off a painful break-up, Air Force pararescueman Rhys Halloran recognizes Devon’s trauma for what it is—something that’s left her isolated, but far from irreparably damaged.

With Devon’s trust still lying shattered back in Afghanistan, putting her faith in a man who’s nursing a broken heart isn’t easy. But she’s tired of people making her feel weak, and Rhys makes her feel anything but, sparking a heated attraction that was never part of the plan.

With all eyes on Devon to prove herself in a brutal man’s world, having it all will mean putting her heart on the line like never before. But when it comes to Rhys, it’s an uphill battle she’s ready to fight.

Publisher’s Note: Keeping a Warrior deals with topics some readers may find difficult, including past sexual assault.

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Excerpt One:

The night before, for the first time since he could remember, Rhys had fallen asleep with another woman on his mind.

The same woman now sitting and staring pensively at the plane. After a moment’s hesitation, Rhys gathered his courage and approached her, not sure of his welcome.

“Mind some company?”

Devon glanced up with what looked like a genuine smile. “Not at all.”

Rhys lowered himself to sitting and drew his knees up, ankles crossed, loosely draping his arms around them. “You okay?”

With a shrug, Devon mirrored his pose and nodded at the plane. “Just sitting here trying to analyze my feelings.”

“About going back?”

“Mmm.”

“I can imagine those are some pretty complicated feelings,” Rhys said gently.

“Yeah, well, I’m in a totally different place now, at least. Back then I was so idealistic, so trusting, so goddamn stupid.”

Rhys didn’t say anything, just let her talk.

“I thought that bad things couldn’t happen to me, or if they did, it’d be something heroic, you know? Not—” She shook her head. “And now all I want to do is reclaim that part of myself that someone else took from me.”

A lump rose into Rhys’s throat at the slight quaver in her voice.

“Well, this time around you have me,” he said fiercely. “You have the guys.” He nodded his head toward Matt and Shane, who were leaning against a nearby wall, arms crossed, each with one booted foot propped against it, heads close together.

Devon smiled when she saw them. “Think they worked everything out?”

Rhys was about to say he hoped so when Matt pushed off the wall. As he did, Shane snaked his hand behind him and gave his ass a firm pinch, followed by a discreet pat. Matt elbowed him, hard, but he was smiling while he sauntered away.

“Um, I think that’s a pretty safe bet.”

He and Devon snickered together, and she bumped him with her shoulder. “You’re right. It’s gonna be different this time, for lots of different reasons.”

I love talking about my research because I love to do it! Researching a topic is my favorite part of writing a book. The first thing I do when I decide on a subject to write about is open a draft email. That’s where I keep links to articles that I find, or ideas that pop into my head, or even snippets of dialogue. I like draft emails because then it’s available to me across all my devices—from my work computer to my phone to my iPad. It’s always at my fingertips to add to because I never know when inspiration will strike. A lot of times the best dialogue comes to me when I’m driving and listening to music. The minute I stop at a light, I can whip my phone out and jot it down in my draft email in a few seconds.

Another thing I love to do is read non-fiction books or blogs authored by people in the profession I’m writing about, or who have directly experienced the topic of my story. That way I can get a feel for the vocabulary used in the job, the culture around it, and some of the things they experience or feel while performing it. An example of this is the military. I read military non-fiction voraciously, especially since I’ve never served and never will. Because of my reading, I have a good feel for that way of life. I do try to stay away from military fiction, especially romance, because I don’t want another author’s writing to influence mine.

The last—and best!—thing I do for research is listen to podcasts hosted by people in my characters’ professions. There’s nothing like hearing about it in someone’s own words, from their own mouths and in their own voice. The perfect example of this is with Navy SEALs. There are some excellent podcasts hosted by ex-SEALs, and I learn so much about the culture from them. They share anecdotes, and use their internal terminology, and all of that really helps me add authenticity to my stories. Not to mention, they’re just fun to listen to!

So that’s a little bit about my research! Thanks so much for hosting me today!

This is my first book by Ms. Hansen and I was very impressed.  I will admit that went to Amazon and read some of the reviews on her other books.  And no, I didn’t cheat and read the reviews for this book.  I wanted to be surprised and Ms. Hansen did surprise me.  First with her writing.  It is smooth, she has certainly done her research and she takes her time with her characters and their development.  Her characters are some of the more fleshed out that I’ve read in a long time.  Devon and Rhys could be your next-door neighbors.  I love how Ms. Hansen let them get to know each other first, become friends and then lovers.  She took her time with them and let me tell their story.  Even Shane and Matt were well-drawn secondary characters.  And yes, their story is the first book in the series.

I will have to say that what Devon went through, off the page, is something that needs to be talked about and sadly it’s not.  The military is still a boys club and women shouldn’t have to put up with that at all.  How Devon coped with it and ultimately dealt with it was great.  It didn’t define her and when she realized that not military men are pigs, she developed real relationships with them.  Also, Rhys was there for her as a friend and comrade to help her through her self doubt at times.  Oh, she can totally take care of herself.  Just wait and read.  That’s what makes the romance work in the book.  Rhys had enough to deal with concerning his ex and didn’t know what to think of the feelings that he was developing for Devon.  Devon was very upfront with him from the beginning and it just worked.

Some of the other content is set in a combat zone and Ms. Hansen doesn’t sugarcoat it.  While this is a military book, she doesn’t use it as a backdrop for the characters and the relationships formed from it.  Again, I can not talk enough about the characters in this book.  I wish they were my friends in real life.  They genuinely care about each other and not just when they are on a mission.  I read a lot of military romance books and Ms. Hansen has really nailed the genre with just this one book that I have read.  I don’t need to know all the “secrets” that the military does but a general understanding is good and that’s what Ms. Hansen will give you.  Her characters and their stories are more important.

I just fell in love with Rhys and Devon.  Their romance is slow, sweet and bit sexy.  I appreciate the fact that they took their time before hitting the sheets and let their relationship take its time.  Also, Matt and Shane took a piece of my heart, too.  And yes, I bought the book.  I just have to know the backstory and those two.  Do yourself a favor and read this book.  You will believe in the power of healing yourself and letting love in to help you heal, too.  Most importantly, did I mention that Rhys is a redhead?

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Melanie Hansen doesn’t get nearly enough sleep. She loves all things coffee-related, including collecting mugs from every place she’s visited. After spending eighteen years as a military spouse, Melanie definitely considers herself a moving expert. She has lived and worked all over the country, and hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to the love stories she gets up in the wee hours to write. On her off-time, you can find Melanie watching baseball, reading or spending time with her husband and two teenage sons.

Buy Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Warrior-Loving-Book-ebook/dp/B07J3CW95D/

Social Media:

https://melaniehansenbooks.com

https://twitter.com/MelJoyAZ

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009084006829

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13505006.Melanie_Hansen

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Melanie Hansen will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Excerpt, Giveaways, Teaser Excerpts

Blog Tour for Code of Honor (Code #2) by J.R. Bryce w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

Title: Code of Honor
Series: Code #2
Author: J.R. Bryce
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance/Former Military
Published: November 30, 2015
Mark Williams is a former Marine who needs a temporary, just for show bodyguard simply to ease his father’s mind. He hires Julie Jameson, a beautiful young woman who looks nothing like a bodyguard even though her resume indicates she’s tough as nails. She’s the perfect candidate. but he’s got a few demands of his own. First on that list: he can take his own damn bullets.

Julie doesn’t like being told she was hired because of her looks, or that she isn’t allowed to do her job. She is not just an overpriced escort with a gun, she’s good at what she does. Except as things heat up and it becomes obvious to both of them that the threat is real, Mark treats her more like part of the team despite his obvious desire to protect her. And he never treats her as an escort, despite the fact that she really starts regretting that particular clause in the contract.

Together they face explosions, flying bullets, injuries and judgement, all the while dealing with a safehouse full of her brothers, multiple government agencies trying to work together, old friends and older secrets.

The only thing either of them is sure about is that if they both survive, they aren’t letting go. All they have to do is make sure that happens.


Code of Honor Excerpt © J.R. Bryce 2015
Mark broke into her thoughts with a gentle tap on the top of her hand. She shook off her weird train of thought and turned to him with a question in her eyes. What can I do for you, sir? The fact that her mind formed the question like that didn’t escape her, but instead of freaking her out like it would have a month ago it just made her happy, as if she’d found her true calling.
He smiled cheekily. “Can we trade? I notice you don’t like the crispy parts…” He looked down at his hand and her eyes followed, noticing that he had pulled the less-cooked parts off of his bacon and was offering them to her.
“Yeah, sure, if you like it crunchy.” She grinned. When was the last time her brothers had even come close to noticing something that minute? Josh had sent her a teddy bear for her birthday last year, for fuck’s sake. She’d loved it because at least he’d remembered, but he obviously hadn’t realized she wasn’t twelve anymore when he sent it. Mark was so focused on her that he noticed which parts of her bacon she ate. She’d never turn her back on her brothers if they needed help, but they were way off on their assessment of her boyfriend. “That’d be great.”
“I don’t really care one way or the other,” Mark shrugged, dumping the contents of his hand on top of the bacon she had yet to eat and scooping up the overly-cooked bits she’d picked off. “You seem to, though, and you burned a lot of calories earlier. I can’t have you starving on me, now can I?”
“Are you trying to fatten me up? I don’t really need help in that department, you know.” She flashed him a self-mocking smile. “It’s hard enough to ignore half of my bacon, even if it’s cooked wrong. I’ll have to pay for this in cardio later.”
He leaned in close to her ear and lowered his voice so only she could catch the words. “I promise to help you out with that.”
Julie flushed and then jumped when Cull growled “Break it up, you two. I don’t want to see that shit.”
Rolling her eyes, she scooped up the bits of bacon Mark had just deposited and dropped them in her mouth. “Oh, so now talking is off limits? Double standard, much? Or maybe you don’t know how thin the walls are at your house?” She grabbed her plate and went to stick it in the sink, trying not to notice how her boyfriend was burying his silent laugh in his last bite of scrambled egg so that she could continue heckling without laughing herself. “Dude, I know you and Megan do more than talk.”
“She’s my wife.” Cull sullenly replied. “Not- for all intents and purposes- my little sister. I definitely do not want to see that shit, especially with him.”
“How do you think I feel, man?” Josh glared at Julie although he was obviously talking to Cull. “She actually is my sister.”
Sean claimed his place in the lets-gang-up-on-Julie fest. “Uh, yeah. Did you hear her this morning? I was in the hallway at the wrong time, let me tell you. That was not okay.” He turned his attention away from the other boys and onto her. “And your smart-ass comment was unnecessary, thank you very much.”
“Yeah, well, I guess that depends on perspective, huh Sean?” Julie flashed an evil grin toward her brother as she followed Mark into the living room area. “I get it. You boys are worried about your baby sister. What you don’t know is that I quit being a baby and put on my big-girl panties a long time ago. Did you know I had my first boyfriend at twelve? If you’re trying to protect my virtue, you’re a little late.”

JR Bryce (that’s me) has been writing since I could read, with varying levels of success.
Some of those early stories were not the bestsellers I hoped for at age six,
but I’ve gotten better over time. Really. I promise.
I live in my office corner with a man-eating Chihuahua draped across my lap, my real live Evil Muse mind-controlling me via electronic communication, and writing like a crazy person while my all-too-precocious spawnlings plot each other’s murders and my husband runs away in a vain attempt to save his sanity. Fortunately, the beautiful Oregon Coast has lots of things to distract him so I can get the words on paper.
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Excerpt, Giveaways, Interviews

Its here! Woot! Pre-launch Blitz for Jessica Scott’s Back to You w/giveaway & Interview

Back-to-You-Pre-Launch-Blitz-1

 

From USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott comes BACK TO YOU (On-sale 1/7), a powerfully emotional and darkly authentic military romance in her Coming Home series.

 

He’s in for the fight of his life . . . 

Army captain Trent Davila loved his wife, Laura, and their two beautiful children. But when he almost lost his life in combat, something inside him died. He couldn’t explain the emptiness he felt or bridge the growing distance between him and his family-so he deployed again. And again. And again…until his marriage reached its breaking point. Now, with everything on the line, Trent has one last chance to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs …if she’ll have him

. . . to win back his only love.

Laura is blindsided when Trent returns home. Time and again, he chose his men over his family, and she’s just beginning to put the pieces of her shattered heart back together. But when Trent faces a court martial on false charges, only Laura can save him. What begins as an act of kindness to protect his career inflames a desire she thought long buried-and a love that won’t be denied. But can she trust that this time he’s back to stay?

authorinterview

BACK TO YOU Pre-Launch Blitz Q&A

  1.  You first introduced Trent and Laura a few years ago and readers have been eagerly awaiting their story for a few years.  Did you always know when you first created them in BECAUSE OF YOU that this was how their story would play out?

I knew they would have a story to tell but telling their story in this particular way, no I didn’t intend it. It took finding my amazing editor along with multiple attempts at trial and error to get them just right. I’m a nervous wreck about their story, but I’m also really excited because I’m very happy with how their story turned out. Plus, hamsters. Who can argue with that, right?

  1. BACK TO YOU is the incredibly emotional story of a marriage at the breaking point.  What or who inspired you to write this story?

I remember standing in the ops one day and one of the guys was on the phone with his wife. He was telling her how much he was sorry, how much he didn’t want to work late. Then one of the other guys remarked that he always says that but he doesn’t ever mean it. So I had this idea of a man who was so driven to get back to war that he let his entire family and personal life suffer, but I also wanted a wife who people could relate to as well. Laura is Trent’s perfect complement.

  1. In your own personal life, you’ve been the soldier that has deployed to a war zone and the spouse that stayed home and has taken care of the family on the home front.  Which was more difficult for you in your experience?  And why?

That’s a much bigger topic than we have time for but I’ll say this: each one has its own unique challenges. Being deployed, not being able to get home when your kids are crying that they want mommy, that’s brutal. It rips your soul out. But then coming home and your reality doesn’t live up to the fantasy? In some ways I think it’s worse, and that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As far as being the wife at home? I remember vividly lying awake at night, obsessively checking to make sure my ringer was turned on. I never cared when he called I just wanted to hear his voice. So which one is worse? I can’t really say. But I’m grateful that we’ve made it through each one a little bit stronger, you know?

  1. Which is your favorite story to write—a reunion romances like Trent and Laura’s where each scene is alive with their own history or a fresh romance where they meet for the very first time and everything is new?  Why?

I love a reunion story. I love the idea of being able to forgive and love the person you’re with right then and not the memory of someone. I’m a huge sucker for reunion stories, honestly. I love the reconnection, the noting of how things have changed, of learning to love that person all over again, especially after a betrayal or things didn’t work in the past.

  1. Trent is such a compelling character and you do a beautiful job of showing his survivor’s guilt and the resulting anxiety and fear that provokes in him.  He’s both so alpha and strong and so very broken.  What inspired you to create such a complicated hero?  A real life person?  A culmination of your own experiences?  What you’ve seen yourself in the army?  And were you at all concerned about the way readers would respond to him?

Trent is going to be hard for people to read, I suspect. He comes close to crossing some boundaries, and I wanted to do that deliberately: I wanted people to understand that coming home from war isn’t cured in a day or a week. It’s a process. Someone like Trent who has bled in combat isn’t going to be okay after a night of magical sex. I know that’s the fantasy, but I wanted something more: I wanted the fantasy that the couple will be strong enough to make it. So for me, Trent is deeply, deeply personal because I’ve seen friends struggle with some very tough choices. And the truth is, there is no magical cure but there can still be a happily ever after if you have someone strong enough to stand with you.

  1. Laura is such an amazing character because she’s done the best for her family at every turn and supported her husband.  But when all communication breaks down with her husband and he just keeps deploying, she serves her husband with divorce papers while he’s serving.  It seems like such a taboo to serve papers while your spouse is deployed—is that true?  And why did you choose to have Laura, the ultimate good wife, respond this way?

Laura sending Trent divorce papers while deployed I think is the ultimate prohibition. It’s just wrong on so many levels, and yet I wanted to give readers a sense of what could drive someone to their breaking point. Laura is such a strong woman and yet she broke. The strongest of us all have our breaking points. I wanted to show people how hard the war has been on everyone—not just the soldiers deploying but on the kids, on the spouses—but I also wanted to give people hope, too.

  1. Agent Chaos and Fluffy, the family hamsters, almost steal the show with their disappearing acts and they add the perfect amount of cuteness and comic relief.  What inspired you to add them into the story?

Ah Fluffy and Agent Chaos. So for readers who don’t know, we have hamsters. It all started when we volunteered to buy the pre-k class pet. I didn’t realize that this would include home visits for the holidays. Fluffy was the first hamster and she promptly escaped within the first 24 hours. After that, we’ve become a multiple hamster household and well, when they escape, it’s madness because we have dogs and cats who, by some miracle, haven’t actually ever managed to capture one of the little buggers.

This story badly needed something to lighten it up. I thought adding in some escaping rodents would be the perfect thing to break up a really tough interaction between Trent and his kids. They provided a bridge for him to cross, a way to reach them while he was still getting used to them.

  1. Big wedding or small?  Hamsters or dogs?  Sweats or lingerie?

 

Small wedding. Both hamsters and dogs and cats. Sweats all the way.

 

  1. Emma and Ethan, Trent and Laura’s kids, are adorable and watching Trent learn how to be a dad again is an amazing thing.  How do you think Trent got so detached from his family?

Coming home to be a parent again is probably the hardest thing soldiers do. The kids have changed, they have their own wants and needs and, well, they’re not your soldiers. They don’t listen like your soldiers have to. The noise and the chaos and the constant needs are really tough to get used to again, so I think Trent just ran away because it was too much to deal with.

  1. Since this is such an emotionally charged story, was it difficult for you to write?  Or did it come easily?

It was very, very difficult to write. I wanted to push boundaries and create at least a glimpse of what it’s like to come home. I wanted to give readers a taste of the emotions that people go through, the fear, the uncertainty but also the love and the hope and the relief that their loved one is home safe.

  1. Since you’ve been in Trent’s shoes, what is the hardest thing about readjusting to civilian life after a deployment?

The crowds and the entitlement. To this day, I won’t go into crowded stores or wait in crowds. It’s suffocating. And it’s funny because when I first came home, I was so annoyed at people complaining about lines and traffic and school starting. I was just so grateful to be back. Now, I’m much more sympathetic to everyday gripes and groans. I think it’s just part of how we get through our days.

 EXCERPT

 

“So, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?” she asked, minimizing her e-mail to be able to focus.

“Don’t throw me out of the office,” he said, trying to keep his voice light. “But I need to talk to you about Trent’s case.”

Laura leaned back in her chair, folding her arms over her chest, and started counting to ten.

“I know you’re having a hard time with him.”

Laura sucked on her top lip for a moment before answering. “I wouldn’t necessarily call filing for divorce a hard time.”

“And that’s what I need to talk to you about.”

“Patrick…”

“Just hear me out, okay?”

She ground her teeth but after a moment nodded.

“Listen, there’s no case against Trent. It’s weak at best. With the Article 32 about to start, we have a good chance of getting it stopped here before it goes to court-martial. But I need to plant doubt that the allegations against him are true.” He met her gaze. “I need you to do that.”

Laura chewed on her bottom lip, playing his words over and over in her head, not understanding what he was asking of her. “What do you mean, you need to plant doubt?”

“The primary witness against your husband, PFC Adorno—”

“Oh, we’ve met,” Laura said dryly.

Patrick’s smile was humorless. “Yes, well, that’s part of the prosecution’s problem. She’s alleging that Trent was inappropriate but the problem is that she and Lieutenant Randall were caught in their shenanigans downrange.”

Laura frowned. “So you think this is a ploy to get herself out of trouble?

“Her and her husband. If they were working together to steal the missing weapons systems, then what better way to get out of trouble than to make this stuff up against Trent? Takes the focus off her and her husband completely.” Patrick leaned forward, tapping his index finger on the desk. “If I can cast Trent as a sympathetic family man who would never do anything like what she’s alleging, this case is all but dismissed. I’m not attacking her. All I have to do is make Trent look better than the story she’s telling and we’ve got a win.”

“And you need me to paint on a happy face and be the loving wife.”

Patrick shook his head. “No, I need you to be one half of a loving couple. And I need you to do it publicly where everyone can see it—in the PX, in the chow hall, everywhere. I need the officers on this board to believe exactly what I’ll be telling them on the day of the hearing.”

She looked down at her empty ring finger, absently rubbing the bare skin beneath the bandage. “Everyone knows that we’re having problems, Patrick.”

“Then make sure everyone knows you’ve fixed it.” He leaned back. “I wouldn’t ask you to do this if I didn’t think it was our best shot at getting this whole thing thrown out.”

She looked up at him. “Why didn’t Trent ask me to do this?”

Patrick swallowed and looked away. “He refused to drag you into this,” he said quietly. “For what it’s worth, I don’t in a million years believe the allegations against Trent. I don’t think he would ever, ever be unfaithful to you.”

Laura pressed her lips together in a flat line. “You’re wrong, Patrick. He’s been cheating on me for years. It was just with the army instead of another woman.”

“Laura—”

“Let me think about it,” she said quickly. “I won’t say no out of hand but I can’t make this decision on a whim.”

Patrick leaned across the desk, gripping her hand. “I know this is hard for you, Laura. I know what I’m asking you to do.”

She said nothing for a long moment and he gave her a sympathetic but firm smile. “Give it some thought, okay?”

When she was alone, she sat there, staring at the picture of her family. Wondering how she was going to bring him back into the kids’ lives and then rip him out again. What he was asking wasn’t fair. He had no idea what this was going to do to her family.

She glanced at the photo on her desk as she typed furiously, trying to get ahead of the flood of e-mails in her inbox.

There was a quiet rap on her office door. “I’m not here,” she said quickly, looking up.

Her fingers froze on the keyboard. Her heart stopped in her chest.

Trent stood in the doorway. He had a duffle bag slung over his shoulder. His glasses hid the darkness of his eyes. There was a streak of dirt on his cheek. An assault pack hung limply from his left hand.

A thousand emotions ripped through her all at once, rioting for supremacy as she drank in the sight of her husband.

Ex-husband, she reminded herself. Or at least he was supposed to be.

She wished that this were a normal homecoming. One where she would rush across the small space and crash into him. His arms would come around her and she would inhale the strong spicy scent of his skin. Feel the heat of his touch. Savor that first, wild kiss.

Instead she had this. This empty chasm between them, echoing with loneliness.

And she had no idea how to cross it.

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