Category Archives: Military

Welcome Sharon Hamilton

Join me in welcoming Sharon Hamilton to Highlighted Author.

 

Smiling Sharon in Red

Sharon Hamilton is the New York Times and USA/Today best selling author of the SEAL Brotherhood series, romantic suspense with Navy SEAL heroes. Her fourth book is SEAL The Deal, and has been released this month.

She writes in beautiful Sonoma County, California, in the heart of the wine country. This is her first novel that takes place almost entirely in her Northern California community. When she is not writing, she is working her organic vegetable and flower garden, getting vera vera dirty, or wandering local Farmer’s Markets trading or looking for Heirloom seeds.

 

 

 

 

SEAL The Deal

Blurb

 

Special Operator Nick Dunn gets the call he has been dreading since before his last deployment. His sister is in her final stages of cancer.  Nick only vaguely remembers Devon Brandeburg, his sister’s best friend, but boy has she grown up.

Devon has created a small financial fortune through her success in real estate. Her career is her main focus, but a closely guarded secret is her total lack of experience with men.

What starts as a deathbed promise turns out to be a hot affair neither one expected. Nick becomes Devon’s teacher in her journey to womanhood. As she comes alive in his arms, the student brings the teacher something he’s never allowed himself to want, and now knows he needs.

 

 Book Trailer

 

Excerpt

SealtheDeal200x300Devon Brandeburg didn’t see Sophie’s car, but did find a God-awful yellow, totally obnoxious Hummer she’d need a stepladder to mount, parked at an angle and taking up half the parking lot. She knew right away it belonged to Sophie’s full-of-himself SEAL brother, Nick. He’d driven up five years ago, right after he made it through the BUD/S program. He’d been so puffed up with hubris he pushed all the air out of the room when he entered.

The worst thing about the guy, as Devon remembered, was that he automatically thought any girl would fall down on her knees and beg him to do the nasty with her. Devon had been so bold as to ask him one time about suicides increasing in the military. She was going to do an English paper on the subject. His answer was, “Not the SEALs. Hell, why would we deprive the ladies of some fun? We’re God’s gift to the female population.”

He’d given her that big, goofy smile, overly confident and irritating as heck. In SonomaCounty she never ran across such bravado and in-your-face braggadocio.

It had turned her stomach. She’d rolled her eyes then, and when she’d looked back at him he had the nerve to wink!

But later, she’d had a hard time forgetting the sight of his hard body and muscular arms, easily twice the size of anyone else’s she knew. And yes, she did dream about him that night. That really pissed her off.

All that had happened when she was twenty and completely inexperienced.  Hell, she was still a virgin at twenty-five, a secret she guarded with her life. The one time she’d extended her heart to someone she thought perhaps she could love, she was hurt so badly, she never let anyone get close again. She poured herself into her work as a means to forget the whole experience.

No, sexual confidence wasn’t something she’d had a chance to develop, but she’d make damned sure, if Sophie forced her to talk to him about his sister’s estate, Mr. Nicholas Dunn would never learn that little factoid.

She’d become a successful realtor and made enough to support herself with a decent lifestyle. She’d mentored under Sophie originally, until Sophie gave up her career in real estate to go into the nursery business. Devon became the professional realtor, while Sophie got her hands dirty tending to a failing business. They remained best friends.

Devon parked her Lexus a safe distance away from the rock-spraying beast of a vehicle Nick was probably driving, and secretly hoped he’d not be there.

Her luck wasn’t that good.

He still sucked all the air out of the room. He was standing at Sophie’s little sink washing dishes. And he was singing, rocking his hips from side to side. Was that the song from Flashdance?

I’m a maniac—“

She couldn’t resist breaking in.

“Well, look at you…so domestic.” She crossed her arms, tilted her head and enjoyed surprising the heck out of this normally self-composed brute. He to slammed the water faucet shut with his fist and dried his hands. Then he slowly perused the length of her body, leaving no part unexplored. His emerald green eyes were blazing.

Still the same cocky son of a bitch. Devon knew he didn’t care if he got caught ogling her, so confident was he that a rejection wasn’t anywhere in his future. He was all the kinds of maleness she’d been running from.

He leaned his butt against the tiled countertop. Then he threw down the towel and mirrored Devon’s stance with crossed arms. “Been awhile, Dev.”

“Devon.”

“Right. Still don’t like me, do you?”

“You’re a good judge of character,” she answered. “I’ll give you that.”

“You’re just as scrappy as Sophie told me you’d be.” He smiled as if his approval mattered to her.

“I’ll just leave you to your work, then.”

“Oh, the dishes are done. I was going to sweep the floor and then wash all the windows. But you go ahead and do all that computer stuff you realtors do. Way beyond me.”

Devon found that comment funny, despite an internal backdrop of curiosity and fear. Attempting to focus on her work, she sat down at the plank tabletop, stacked the listing folders to the side and opened up her computer. She crossed her legs and ran her fingers through the hair at the back of her scalp, took a deep breath and logged on to the Internet to begin a property search. But Nick’s presence still loomed large enough to make her catch her breath.

The soft sweeping sound of Sophie’s broom against the cool concrete floor began to distract her. Didn’t help much that she could see Nick wrestling the handle with nearly enough force to break it. His forearms were as big as her thighs, for goodness’ sake. His shoulders moved with sinewy grace underneath smooth tanned skin. His mop of blond hair went in all directions. He tickled her ankles as he reached the broom under the table and swept the area around her.

“Does that bother you?” he asked. He’d stopped, leaning his chin on the end of the broomstick.

“As in, were you trying to?” Why were men so obvious?

“Nope. It was an honest question.” The sparkle in his eyes made him out to be a liar. His animal magnetism was bringing up those butterflies again. She needed to get back to the cold hard facts, and the numbers. Things she was asked to do for poor Sophie. This was all about Sophie, after all.

“You want some coffee, Devon?” he asked.

He wasn’t going to leave her alone, was he? “Wow. You clean the dishes, sweep the floor, and you make coffee? The Navy must have trained you well. What did they do, get some of the senior wives to come in and give you pointers?” She wondered where that comment came from.

“I don’t need any pointers.”

In spite of herself, she blushed. Damn. That sticky feeling of not being in control and him standing there, looking all confident and smug sent her pulse racing. She attempted to get back to her computer when…

Just then he fired up the coffee grinder, making her jump in her seat.  She began to smell the glorious scent of freshly brewing coffee and her mouth watered.

When she looked up, he had his back to her. A variety of Celtic crosses and symbols poked up above the collar of his T-shirt. She could see discoloration from beneath the white cotton fabric, hinting at tats on his shoulders and lower, in places she forced her eyes not to search. One long stream of tats like footprints of a three-legged toad was inked on his right inside forearm.

It was impossible to ignore the enormous V of his upper torso leading to the small waist, his deltoids and lats so tight they looked like they’d hurt. She began to wonder what they would feel like—

He caught her staring when he stole a quick glance over his shoulder before crossing the room with two mugs of the hot black coffee. Placing one next to her computer, he took a seat right across from her like she was his entertainment.

“I dare you to say there’s a better cup of coffee anywhere.” His deep green eyes were almost iridescent. His smooth tanned face and full lips did cause her to blush. She quickly grabbed the mug, sipping the steamy liquid. She was going to try to ignore him by finding something of interest on the screen.

But then Nick slurped his coffee. She could feel his eyes still focused on her.

Devon didn’t care how long he stared. She wasn’t going to return the gaze. Didn’t the guy have any shame? Or, was this little cat and mouse game a way to process the pain he must be feeling over Sophie’s illness. Either way, it was making her feel like she was spinning out of control.

She frowned, consulted her yellow-lined tablet and kept tapping on the keys. Her red nail polish matched her red suit, but now she wished she’d worn black.

One of her heels fell off and plopped to the ground because her legs were crossed. She briefly looked up at him, only to see the wiggle of his eyebrows, and the unspoken offer to crawl under the table and place the patent leather pump back on her foot. That would mean he’d have to touch her calf as he adjusted the shoe. He’d hold her ankle with both his dinner plate hands, and his fingers—

Feeling very much like an insect pinned in a collection box, she inhaled loudly, stuffed her foot into her errant shoe, and picked up the pace of her typing.

He continued to watch her, occasionally piercing the quiet with his sips.

The room was beginning to heat up. The late fall weather pattern was growing hot, which meant some long, sweaty nights with crickets chirping madly, since Sophie’s house didn’t have air conditioning. Neither did the nursery. She sighed, blowing air up to her bangs.

“You should have worn something sleeveless.”

“A fashionista as well?” She was wondering when he’d take the hint and stop trying to distract her.

“I just notice you’re looking rather hot today, Devon.”

No way was she going to look at him. He had her really bothered now. But then she did look up, and damn, he was fine.  She fell into the crease at the right side of his mouth, the huskiness in his voice that made her ears buzz. She had to get him to stop.

“So you sit there and make an obnoxious ass of yourself while you watch me work? You think that’s some kind of fun?” Did he hear the waver in her voice?

“I enjoy watching beautiful women.”

It was getting hotter in the room. “Really? Women who don’t know you? Women who don’t care in the slightest anything about you? Sounds like a rather pathetic way to spend a few minutes.”

“Not from over here.” She could tell he was enjoying laying it on thick, and she was powerless to stop him. She had to act now or she’d be completely lost.

Devon shot up to her feet. “Enough! Nick. Go outside. Make yourself useful. I’m sure there are some weeds to pull or some walkways to rake.”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He took his mug and swaggered outside into the afternoon sunlight. She found herself still gasping for air at the sight of him making his way lazily across the parking lot.

Devon’s heart rate was thumping wildly. A bead of sweat trickled down between her breasts.

Whatever it was she’d dreamed about five years ago was still there. Lurking. Waiting to pounce.

 

Get your copy of SEAL The Deal at Amazon  

 

Want more Sharon? Here’s where you can find her:

Sharon’s Blog | Sharon’s Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Welcome Anastasia V. Pergakis

Join me in welcoming Anastasia V. Pergakis to Highlighted Author.

Anastasia V. Pergakis lives in Georgia, USA, with her husband and young son. She started writing at a very young age with cute poems and funny stories and evolved to novels at the age of sixteen. Since then, novels have become almost an obsession. With sixteen novels in the works, she definitely has her hands full with an overactive muse.

Welcome, Anastasia. When did you discover your love of writing?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love it. I suppose when I was younger I was more into reading. I fell in love with fairy tales, ya know, happily ever after, knights in shining armor, true love conquers all, etc. As I got older, my reading styles changed of course. Now I’m a huge mystery/crime drama fan. Somewhere in there, I thought “I want to write stories like THAT.” That touch on people’s emotions in some way. And tada, there it was. In high school when everyone else was talking about college and careers, and in college it was all about jobs and getting married. All I thought about was being a writer. It was hard going for a long time because, ya know, life gets in the way. But when my husband and I were expecting our son, we agreed that I should be a stay at home Mom. In the almost four years since then, I’ve written more books than I ever had before – and loving every minute of it.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? That’s one I’d like to read.

Oh wow. I think it was a story about a Mommy bird and a Baby bird. I was maybe 5 or 6 years old so it was a little on the cutesy side of course. I don’t remember much of the actual story line, but had something to do with the Mommy bird trying to teach the Baby bird how to fly.

Who is your greatest influence for writing?

Oh boy, this is a tough one. I don’t think I have any one influence in particular. I mean, my husband is very supportive and I have two wonderful crit partners that keep me going. And I’ve met so many other writers online – each of them has touched me in some way and helped me grow as a writer. I can’t pick anyone person exactly, although, my husband would probably want me say it was him. After all, he has to live with me. LOL

You’ve written several books. What genres do you enjoy writing most?

Fantasy. All the way. I do have ideas for books in other genres but some might argue they are all still fantasy. I want to get into writing Science Fiction and I have a few ideas for some Urban Fantasy books as well. I’m not sure why I like fantasy so much when, quite honestly, I don’t read it that often – and never have. Some might say it’s a power trip thing, where I just want to play God so to speak. But I think really it falls back to my love of fairy tales. And frankly sometimes, I find faeries and elves more interesting than people!

Lol.  And you do wield that power over your characters quite often in your books.  *wink*  

Goodness, another tough one – that again I don’t have a specific answer for. More often then not, the characters come to me and tell me their story. On the rare occasion, the story comes first and in that situation it’s usually because something happened or my husband said something or I had a dream and thought “That would be a great story.” But mostly, the characters just sort of show up in my head with a story to tell. I just write it down.

If you could choose one character to have over for dinner, who would it be?

Oh geez. Well, I would say Derac, Captain of the Kinir Elite, but I’m sure the rest of the team would get a little jealous. There is just something about Derac that I love, though I can’t really put my finger on it. Maybe because he talks to me more than the others – and visits my dreams more often too, but I’m not really sure what it is. He’s one of the easiest character POV’s for me to write, which I find funny, since he’s a guy. But, I’m sure dinner with him would be a treat as he would no doubt come up with something amazing, like – a picnic in a meadow of wild flowers in Kinir or something like that.

What is your writing schedule like?

I don’t really have a set schedule. I write when I can. My son just turned three so he’s very active yet wants to be independent. So, I get a few words in here or there during the day, but pretty much don’t get any serious work done until after he’s asleep. I use the day time for networking and promotion. Then at night is when my crit partners and I sit down together (yes, we do it everyday) and we’ll brainstorm, write, or just talk about our stories in some fashion. But I don’t actually write everyday. Even if I love the story, it’s rare that I can do that. I have to let scenes percolate in my head – and confirm details with the characters – before I actually sit down to write it. So I write more in spurts, getting 4,000 words written one day but then get nothing more added the next three days.

Will you tell us about how this particular story came about?

Years ago, I decided to write a story about my Dad and his military service. He served 20 years in the US Army and I wanted to share the story of his life. So I gave him a call and asked him a bunch of questions. He was so great and answered all of them though I’m sure some were hard for him. After I had a few pages of scribbles, I sat down to write. I was one paragraph into the story when I realized, there was no way I could write this story and do justice to my Dad. So, I let the story go; shoved it away in my idea notebook for later, thinking I’d return to it another day.

Well, when NaNoWriMo came around in 2009, I was looking through my idea notebook for inspiration and came across the papers of notes. And it was literally likeBOOM, there was the story – only as fantasy, not as non-fiction. The soldiers became elves but I tried my best to keep the life of a soldier intact. His dedication, loyalty, and courage I hope still resonate clearly within the warriors of my book.

So, you have a strong tie to those who sacrifice in the military. You’re doing something special for them with the proceeds.  Would you fill us in on that?

Because of the story of my Dad, I decided to donate a portion of my proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. They weren’t around when my Dad served, being established a year after he retired in 2002. WWP helps wounded soldiers – and their families – heal after returning home. This includes both mental and physical wounds that soldiers endure. My Dad was lucky that he never sustained any physical injuries during his service, but I’m sure were some times when he could have used the help mentally or emotionally when he returned home.

If you want to learn more about them, and read a few stories from the soldiers they’ve helped, visit their website at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

You know I’m going to insist on an excerpt.

Okay, Charlene, I’m sure you want me to share the ballroom scene, but since I was just bragging about Derac with the dinner question, I chose one that showed more of his “warrior” side, as the team infiltrates the underground country of Gorgan.

I can’t help it, Anastasia. I’m a romance writer. I love romance. *smile* But, this a great choice, too.

 

 

Fantasy, elves, military

Cleanse Fire

excerpt

Overgrown bushes camouflaged the entrance to the mines. Derac never would have known it was there if Kie hadn’t pointed it out. He and Tyn pushed the branches out of the way and secured them by tangling them with the other branches and twigs.

Derac glanced over his shoulder to his team before he shoved his wide frame into the narrow opening. He waited a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the darkness and listened to the muffled noises ahead of him. His hand stuck out of the opening to wave his team inside. His shoulders scraped along the walls. Despite his uniform covering his arms, the rocks cut into his skin. Another uniform ruined.

Derac had visions of being buried alive as the long entrance led them deeper into the mines. The tunnel slanted downward, taking them further into the bowels of the mountain.

A faint light glowed around a curve a few steps ahead. He slowed his pace to peek around the bend before he inched his way around the corner. A few steps took him to the edge of the tunnel. It opened into a large, black cavern.

A winding staircase was carved into the walls of the cavern and led down into the blackness beyond Derac’s vision. Every few feet, a lantern hung on the wall but it did little to light up the expansive mine shaft.

He twisted his neck to look over his shoulder. Kie stood right behind him, pale as a sheet. His eyebrows creased together in concern. She held up two fingers and pointed down. He stared at her for a few more seconds before he turned his attention back to the cavern.

The hair on the back of his neck and arms stood on end. This was too easy. Even with their new plan, someone should have been around to challenge them. A guard, sentry, someone. His eyes moved up and down the staircase but no one was in the cavern with them.

He stepped out onto the ledge and froze. His ears twitched but the mines were silent. The captain squinted at nothing in particular and shook his head. The silence screamed at him to run back through the tunnel and leave the mines behind. His sense of duty kept his feet firmly planted on the ledge.

He prodded the team forward with a waggle of two fingers. The steel of his sword made the softest swish sound as he pulled it from its sheath. His ears twitched, listening for any noise. His keen eyes darted about the cavern. A bottomless pit. If they fell off the edge, would they ever stop? Would they end up on the other side of the world?

They reached the fourth level and Derac’s hand signals sent the group into action. Rakan and Jardel knelt next to the entryway for cover, their weapons trained on the stairway. A nod from their captain sent Aeli and Tyn to the right. Derac and Kie turned to the left.

Derac squinted again and faced Kie. Sweat beaded on her forehead and her lungs heaved with each breath. Her head jerked up and down to tell him she was fine – but he wondered if at any moment she would completely break down.

Where were the guards? Sentries? Dwarves on patrol? Someone should be out, even late at night. Did Kie feel the same? Could that be what made her so on edge?

Derac pressed himself up against the wall and slid the rest of the way down the tunnel to the opening. Kie copied his movements on the opposite wall. He leaned his head around the corner to take stock of the room. Three dwarves stood in the middle of the room, back to back. Long scraggly beards and unkempt hair made them look like furry creatures. All three wore brown tunics and pants, covered in dirt and grime. He held up three fingers to Kie then nodded.

She stepped out of the cover of the wall and fired an arrow. The two remaining dwarves shot to their feet but before they made a sound, Kie shot a second one. The third dwarf made a small squeak before he took an arrow to the chest.

Derac and Kie rushed into the room and stood back to back. The cave was lined with barred doors to carved-out cells. Ten to fifteen faeries were stuffed into each one, with barely enough room for all of them to sit. Derac snatched the keys from one of the dead dwarves’ belt and threw them to Kie.

“No! Don’t! It’s a trap!” a faery called out.

Derac spun around. The faery’s body stiffened then collapsed to the floor. A dwarf stood behind him, his sword covered in teal faery blood. The dwarf moved to open the cell door but Derac’s legs moved faster. He grabbed Kie’s arm and pushed out of the room, dragging her down the tunnel with him.

The rest of the team already moved up the winding stairs to the secret passage, with the faeries in tow. Derac let go of Kie’s arm and shoved her up the stairs. She cleared them two at a time until she tripped. He snatched his hand out and gripped her arm in time to keep her from falling over the edge.

His quick reflexes didn’t help when the wall next to them exploded. They both sprawled over the edge and slammed into the stairs below. He covered her body with his own until the rocks and debris stopped raining down on them. He glanced up and saw a group of dwarves rushing towards them. He craned his neck further to see the level above.

“Get them out of here, Tyn!”

The dwarves swarmed them and dragged them further down into the cavern. They were thrown into a small cell; the solid iron door slammed shut behind them.

 

Thanks for being with us, Anastasia!

It was my pleasure!

 

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