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Cometh the new year, cometh the fresh round of allegations that United Nations peacekeepers raped or abused some of the most vulnerable people in the world. 2016 has just begun and already reports are surfacing of UN peacekeepers paying to have sex with girls as young as 13 at a displaced persons camp in the Central African Republic.
The news seems to have gone quiet about Sangin district in Helmand. Before Christmas there was an intense media storm that the district was about to fall to the ‘Taliban’. There were reports of the SAS being deployed, and the day after, the story of multiple Taliban commanders being killed in a night raid. As I have written before, it is impossible to separate every one with guns in Helmand into two groups: the ‘government’ and the ‘Taliban’, so it is difficult to see who the SAS were targeting, and who they were supporting.
In world politics, preserving order has an understandably sacramental function. The reason is plain. Without minimum public order, planetary relations would descend rapidly and perhaps irremediably into a "profane" disharmony.
As a national security reporter, I write about war, weapons, security, and secrets. The question most commonly asked of me is, "How do you get sources to talk to you?" The Pentagon's Brain is my third book in a series about seemingly impenetrable subjects. The first one, Area 51, is about the highly classified military [...]
Series: You Choose Books Written by Michael Burgan Consultant: Raymond L. Puffer, PhD Capstone Press 8/01/2014 978-1-4914-0357-0 112 pages Age 8—12
“It’s 1950 and the Communist country of North Korea has invaded its neighboring country of South Korea. The United Nations has stepped in to help South Korea by providing weapons and soldiers. Nearly all of these soldiers come from the United States. Will you:
1. Serve as a pilot in Korea with the U.S. Marine Corps? 2. Lie about your age to enlist as a 16-year-old member of the U.S. military reserves? 3. Join in the fight for your country as a young South Korean man?
Everything in this book happened to real people. And YOU CHOOSE what you do next. The choices you make could lead you to survival or to death.” [back cover]
Review It is June 25th, 1950. Communist leader Kim I1 Sung controlled northern Korea. He wanted the entire country under his rule. Sung crosses the 38th parallel—dividing north from south—to lead a surprise attack on South Korea with China and the Soviet Union’s help. The United Nations agreed to support the south, sending troops from the United States and 15 other nations—but mostly soldiers came from the U.S. You join the fighting, but how? Are you a Marine pilot, a U.S. reservist, or a South Korean civilian? Choose wisely, as your fate depends upon it.
Did you choose the pilot? Your first major decision is an extremely important decision: do you fly the F4U Corsair fighter plane you know how to pilot, or do you learn how to fly the more dangerous military helicopter? If you choose helicopters, your commander, Colonel Morris (not made up), gives you a choice between a copter requiring sand bags to keep it balanced, or one that can experience engine problems and cannot fly as far as the other copter. How brave are you?
Did you choose to trick the U.S. and join up at age 16? The first year of reservist training is fairly easy and you are looking forward to the next year when the Korean War begins. You are now a full-time Marines, but without the full Marine training. A sergeant gives you a choice: do you get more training or do you think you are ready to fight? Think about this, as the decision could mean you never return home . . . alive.
Did you choose to be a South Korean civilian, ready to fight for your homeland? You decide to volunteer, a rather rare event as most South Korean soldiers are merely grabbed off the street. You train with the Americans and then partner up when sent to the line. At one point you are captured by the Chinese, lectured on communism and its value for the entire Korean peninsula, and then told you will fight with the Chinese, not against them. Do you join or do you refuse?
A good way to get a feel for the fighting and the awful choices—none great—soldiers were forced to make is by reading The Korean War: An Interactive Modern History Adventure. This book is not a textbook-type read in that major facts are given for rote memory. Kids will find this more interesting than mere facts making The Korean War: An Interactive . . . a good adjunct text for teachers. While helping readers understand ground forces and air support decisions and the possible outcomes, the book also includes emotional responses to the fighting and choices of war. Kids will get the usual firing of bazookas, machine guns, and rifles; and the throwing of grenades, the dropping of bombs, and worst of all, napalm, yet the most important are the soldiers feelings and how those feelings affected their choices in these real stories.
Kids will learn the difference between an armistice versus a peace treaty, including North Korea’s instance that the war is not over, though fighting stopped 62 years ago. Up against unbelievable odds, South Korea has kept control of their country. The Korean War may not be the first war kids think of, but it should be in their brain’s history department. I really like these interactive books. I hated history, but these books make history come alive which heightens my interest. I had thought a peace treaty had been made. I also had not realized how influential the Chinese were to the North Korean campaign.
If an old gal of . . . well it’s impolite to ask . . . can enjoy these You Choose Books, kids certainly will enjoy them. And if I can learn a thing or two, so will kids. While not a fun subject, The Korean War: An Interactive Modern History Adventure held my interest, got me thinking, and has me wanting to know more about the Korean War. The same will happen to kids who read this inventive, yet real life, account of the Korean War.
The author included a time-line of the war, a “Read More” section, a glossary, bibliography, and an index.
War. Of all human endeavours, perhaps none demonstrates the extremes of ingenuity and barbarity of which humanity is capable. The 21st century may be the century in which the threat of perpetual war is realised. Although many innovations have been brought about as a bi-product of the challenges war presents, the psychological and physical trauma wrought on the human body may prove too high a cost.
As we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan's War, Japan’s “history problem” – a mix of politics, identity, and nationalism in East Asia, brewing actively since the late 1990s – is at center stage. Nationalists in Japan, China, and the Koreas have found a toxic formula: turning war memory into a contest of national interests and identity, and a stew of national resentments.
I recently had the opportunity to review The Veterans' Clubhouse by Kristen Zajac. This book addresses the problems of homeless veterans from a child's point of view.
Becoming homeless can happen to anyone. But when it happens to Charlie, a Vietnam Veteran that Patrick and Hailey meet, they decide to take matters into their own hands and do something about it. With the help of their church and community, they build the Veterans’ Clubhouse to help homeless vets get back on their feet.
What a terrific message author Kristen Zajac delivers to children in showing them how they could get involved to help the homeless. I bet after reading the book, kids will come up with their own creative ideas on how to help as well.
Jennifer Houdeshell’s illustrations leap off the page and really add another dimension to this wonderful book.
This book would make a splendid addition to any home or library. It shows a way to give back to those who served this country and demonstrates how compassion plus action achieves great things. Nicely done!
Do you know your George Washingtons from your Thomas Jeffersons? Do you know your British tyrants from your American Patriots? Test your knowledge of the American Revolution with this quiz, based on Robert J. Allison’s The American Revolution: A Very Short Introduction.
The centenary of the Great War has led to a renewed interest in military matters, and throughout history, war has often been the setting for medical innovation with major advances in the treatment of burns, trauma, and sepsis emanating from medical experience in the battlefield. X-rays, which were discovered in 1895 by Roentgen, soon found a role in military conflict. The first use of X-rays in a military setting was during the Italo-Abyssinian war in 1896.
In 1789, President George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” Judging by this standard, we are failing.
In June 2015, the results of a new study by the Department of Veterans Affairs were released. The study examined more than 170,000 suicides of adult men and women in 23 states between 2000 and 2010, and concluded that female military veterans kill themselves at a rate that is nearly six times higher than their civilian counterparts.
AEGIS: an elite team of ex-military men working under the radar of most governments. If you have a problem no one else can handle, they can help.
A former SEAL and Black Ops specialist who left the CIA, Nick Donovan gave up a life on the edge to work in the private sector. But that didn’t stop his enemies from coming after him—or his family. In a case of mistaken identity, a drug cartel kidnaps his sister-in-law’s best friend … a woman from Nick’s past.
One minute Jennifer Grayson is housesitting and the next she’s abducted to a foreign brothel. Jennifer is planning her escape when her first “customer” arrives. Nick, the man who broke her heart years ago, has come to her rescue. Now, as they race for their lives, passion for each other reignites and old secrets resurface. Can Nick keep the woman he loves safe against an enemy with a personal vendetta?
Kay Thomas didn’t grow up burning to be a writer. She wasn’t even much of a reader until fourth grade. That’s when her sister readThe Black Stallion aloud to her. For hours Kay was enthralled—shipwrecked and riding an untamed horse across desert sand. Then tragedy struck. Her sister lost her voice. But Kay couldn’t wait to hear what happened in the story—so she picked up that book, finished reading it herself, and went in search of more adventures at the local library. Today Kay lives in Dallas with her husband, two children, and a shockingly spoiled Boston terrier. Her award-winning novels have been published internationally.
I’m so excited to be part of the Southern Sweethearts blog tour! I asked Sandra Hill, Marilyn Pappano, and Laura Drake how they survive the pressure of their deadlines. Check out their answers, and then enter the giveaway below.
Top 5 items in your deadline survival kit
2. Coffee, but no more than two big cups
3. Alarm clock (I usually get up no later than 4:30 a.m.)
4. Ear plugs (I need quiet.)
5. Comfy clothes (usually lounging pj’s)
1. Lots of Diet Dr. Pepper
2. My ancient, tee-tiny computer that I can tuck away and take anywhere
3. Snacks that won’t transfer too much gunk to the keyboard
4. A bathroom (see #1)
5. My husband, who keeps life on track, reminds me to sleep, looks up any and all information I need, and makes food runs
1. A husband who runs interference with everyday things, and doesn’t expect that I’ll remember a conversation we had, just yesterday.
2. Protein. The only thing that satisfies me.
3. Coffee. Unending gallons of it.
4. My bicycle. It’s where I work out all my plot problems!
5. A schedule. I work backwards to figure out how many words I need a day, and I don’t quit until I’ve written them. Sometimes takes 2 hours, sometimes (like yesterday) 15. But I typed ‘The End” this morning! Whew!
SWEET ON YOU by Laura Drake (August 26, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)
A Love as Bold as a Texas Sunset . . .
Ex-army medic Katya Smith has always healed other people’s pain. Now she has to deal with her own. Taking a job as an athletic trainer on the Pro Bull Riding circuit seems like the perfect escape from her grief-except Katya doesn’t know anything about bulls, and even less about the tough men who ride them. She doesn’t expect to fall for the sport, or for one tantalizing cowboy who tumbles her defenses.
For rodeo champion Cam Cahill, fifteen years of bucking bulls have taken their toll on his body. Before he retires, he wants a final chance at the world title-and he doesn’t need some New Age gypsy telling him how to do his job. But when the stunning trainer with the magical hands repairs more than his worn muscles, everything changes. Soon Cam finds himself trying to persuade Katya to forgive her past so she can build a future . . . with him.
Laura Drake grew up in the suburbs outside Detroit, though her stories are set in the west. A tomboy, she’s always loved the outdoors and adventure. In 1980 she and her sister packed everything they owned into Pintos and moved to California. There she met and married a motorcycling, bleed-maroon Texas Aggie and her love affair with the West was born. Laura rides motorcycles: Elvis, a 1985 BMW Mystic, and Sting, a 1999 BMW R1100.
In Texas, Laura was introduced to her first rodeo, and fell in love. She’s an avid fan of Pro Bull Riding (PBR,) attending any event within driving distance, including two PBR National finals. She is hard at work at her next novel.
SNOW ON THE BAYOU by Sandra Hill (August 26, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)
THE BAYOU’S BADDEST BAD BOY IS BACK!
Joining the Navy was the second best thing that ever happened to Justin “Cage” LeBlanc, the rebel son of a no-account convict. The first was Emelie Gaudet, the love of his life . . . until he was forced to leave town and swore there would be snow on the bayou before he ever returned. Now, only his mortally ill grandma can bring the injured Navy SEAL back to Terrebone Parrish, where he must face his past-and Emelie, who’s even more beautiful than she was all those years ago.
Bourbon Street blues singer Emelie is once bitten, twice shy. When she learns that Justin is back in town, she wants nothing to do with the once wild Cajun teenager who fled with the law on his tail-and broke her heart. But she can’t deny the red-hot attraction between them . . . or his efforts to prove he’s finally changed his hell-raising ways. Can she trust that this time the bad boy of the bayou will be the best man for her?
Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories. She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.
A LOVE TO CALL HER OWN by Marilyn Pappano (August 26, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $ )
It’s been two years since Jessy Lawrence lost her husband in Afghanistan, and she’s never fully recovered. Drowning her sorrows didn’t help, and neither did the job she’d hoped would give her a sense of purpose. Now trying to rebuild her life, she finds solace in her best friends, fellow military wives who understand what it’s like to love-and lose-a man in uniform . . . and the memory of one stolen night that makes her dream of a second chance at love.
Dalton Smith has known more than his fair share of grief. Since his wife’s death, he revels in the solitude of his cattle ranch. But try as he might, he can’t stop thinking about the stunning redhead and the reckless, passionate night they shared. He wasn’t ready before, but Dalton sees now that Jessy is the only woman who can mend his broken heart. So how will he convince her to take a chance on him?
Known for her intensely emotional stories, Marilyn Pappano is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly eighty books. She has made regular appearances on bestseller lists and has received recognition for her work in the form of numerous awards. Though her husband’s Navy career took them across the United States, he and Ms. Pappano now live in Oklahoma high on a hill that overlooks her hometown. They have one son and daughter-in-law, an adorable grandson, and a pack of mischievous dogs.
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is the true story of four women fighting for their countries during the Civil War. It's a stunning narrative compiled from personal letters, covert correspondence, and arrest records! The Civil War pit brother against brother, but as Karen Abbott eloquently proves through this book, it also pit sister against sister. This [...]
I haven’t read a Rachel Gibson book in ages, so I was eager to dive into What I Love About You. I loved this book and could not put it down. Blake is a flawed hero, a “raging a**hole” according to heroine Natalie, and he’s only two steps above a Cro-Magnon. He’s suffering from PTSD, and he’s an alcoholic, 62 days away from his last drink. He’s also a bundle of rage; he doesn’t feel that his family is supportive, they keep ragging on him about the littlest things, and all he wants is a little peace and quiet. Hiding out in his new home in a remote Idaho town, he’s determined to beat back his demons without any help from anybody. He’s not a wuss, after all.
What he gets is daily aggravation from the little girl next door a tiny pest with ninja-like skills of stealth. Her pretty mom takes offensive with how Blake talks to her daughter. I don’t know how I’d feel if someone told my kid he shit bigger than her, so I had to excuse her for giving him a piece of her mind. The sparks fly between them, and both of them pretend to want nothing to do with the other. Blake has to concentrate on beating old man Johnny, and Natalie is a single mom, working hard to provide for her daughter. One puppy bomb later, though, and they are sharing custody of Recruit Sparky, much to Natalie’s dismay.
Natalie has been burned badly by the man she loved since high school. After struggling to become pregnant, her husband leaves her, running off with a twenty-year-old – and a large portion of the money he’s been entrusted to invest for his clients. Now he’s serving time in jail for embezzlement, and Natalie is still trying to put her past behind her. She’s not having much luck, however, and her first priority is now the true love of her life, her daughter Charlotte. The grumpy next door neighbor is a pain in the butt, but as long as he stays on his side of the property line, they won’t have any trouble. Too bad she can’t keep Charlotte from ambling over to pester him. Repeatedly.
I thought What I Love About You was a great read. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved how fragile both characters were, and how they both had to learn to trust in themselves and others again. Add in one annoying kid and a rambunctious puppy, and you have a recipe that never fails to please. Blake is a gruff, crass hero, and I loved him. He tells it like it is, and goes after what he wants. He doesn’t always come across as the kind of guy you’d want to wake up next to for the rest of your life, not at first, but his rough edges are smoothed by the end of the story, starting when he befriends the little girl who lives next door. This pushed all the right buttons for me, and I highly recommend it.
What I Love About You
Truly, Idaho # 3
By: Rachel Gibson
Releasing August 26th, 2014
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns to Truly, Idaho, and to the fate of sexy SEAL Blake Junger GIMMEE A B-R-E-A-K! Ex-high school cheerleader Natalie Cooper could once shake her pom-poms with the best of them. But she’s paid for all that popularity—her husband’s run off with what’s left of their money and a twenty-year-old bimbo named Tiffany. Leaving Natalie to manage a photo store and having to see some pictures she, well, really shouldn’t. GIMMEE A S-H-O-T! Then she comes toe-to-manly chest with Blake Junger. Exiled to a remote cabin in Truly, Idaho, Blake wants nothing to do with anyone. Instead, he’s determined to struggle with his demons and win—all on his own. But the last thing he needs is Natalie distracting him with her luscious curves and breaking down the barriers of his heart.
GIMMEE YOUR H-E-A-R-T!
Can be read as a standalone. Returns to Truly, ID and is about the second Junger twin, Blake Junger.
Rachel Gibson lives in Idaho with her husband, three kids, two cats and a dog of mysterious origin. She began her fiction career at age 16, when she ran her car into the side of a hill, retrieved the bumper, and drove to a parking lot, where she strategically scattered the car’s broken glass all about. She told her parents she’d been the victim of a hit and run and they believed her. She’s been making up stories ever since, although she gets paid better for them nowadays.
This week, bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris celebrates the release of her romantic suspense Hot Rebel. Featuring a military hero, kick ass heroine, and a Middle Eastern mission gone bad, this is an action packed romance. To celebrate the release, Lynn is hosting a $50 gift card giveaway, so please enter below!
A rebel on the run…
Victoria Royal is a traitor. Or so the U.S. government believes. Victoria was once a promising sniper in the Army, but now she’s gone rogue—worse, she’s just landed in the middle of a Hostile Operations Team mission in the desert and blasted it all to hell.
Nick “Brandy” Brandon doesn’t expect to run into Victoria when he’s bugging out from a mission gone wrong. It’s been more than three years since she disappeared from the sniper course they were in together, and he’s finally stopped thinking about her killer curves and smart mouth.
But now she’s back—and she’s far more dangerous than Nick ever believed possible… Is she really a traitor? Or is there something more at stake? He has to decide fast—because time’s running out and too many lives hang in the balance…
Driven by some emotion she couldn’t name, Victoria turned and walked back over to Nick. He was frowning at her when she reached up and pulled his head down. She pressed her lips to his cheek, felt the roughness of his stubble and breathed the smell of him—sand, spice, and cool water—deep into her lungs.
“Thanks for saving me,” she said, her lips close to his ear.
She started to step away, but he caught her close and turned his head, his lips meeting hers. The contact was shocking—and delicious in a way she hadn’t anticipated. She’d been kissed before, but this… this was better than any of those kisses had been.
His mouth was soft and hard against hers, his hands firm on her hips as he held her against him. The kiss was hot and tame all at once. Simultaneously the most arousing and most chaste kiss she’d ever had. He didn’t force her mouth open, didn’t thrust his tongue between her lips—he just kissed her hard and thoroughly before setting her away from him and taking a step backward.
And, God, she wanted his tongue so badly now. Wanted to feel it sliding against her own, stroking her senses higher.
But the kiss was over and he was looking at her, his jaw firm and a hard look in his eyes.
“You’re welcome,” he said, and it took her a moment to remember that she’d thanked him for saving her.
“I… I have to go.” Her cheeks flamed as she said it because he knew she had to leave as well as she did. The car was running, and she’d left the door open. She took a step backward, and then another.
Then she turned and got inside the car, determined not to look at him again. But she failed because she looked up, her gaze clashing with his right as she closed the door. And she didn’t look away as they drove off. Nick didn’t move from the spot she’d left him standing in.
It was only when the car turned and he was out of sight that she remembered how to breathe.
USA Today bestselling author Lynn Raye Harris burst onto the scene when she won a writing contest held by Harlequin. A former finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award and the National Readers Choice Award, Lynn lives in Alabama with her handsome former military husband and two crazy cats. Lynn writes about hot military heroes, sizzling international billionaires, and the women who dare to tame them. Her books have been called “exceptional and emotional,” “intense,” and “sizzling.” To date, Lynn’s books have sold over 2 million copies worldwide.
In July 2014, the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, claimed that Ukraine wasn’t fighting a civil war in the east of the country but rather was “defending its territory from foreign mercenaries.” Conversely, rumours abounded earlier in the year that Academi, the firm formerly known as Blackwater, were operating in support of the Ukrainian government (which Academi strongly denied). What is interesting is not simply whether these claims are true, but also their rhetorical force. Being a mercenary and using mercenaries is seen as one of the worst moral failings in a conflict.
Regardless of the accuracy of the claims and counterclaims about their use in Ukraine, the increased use of mercenaries or ‘private military and security companies’ is one of the most significant transformations of military force in recent times. In short, states now rely heavily on private military and security companies to wage wars. In the First Gulf War, there was a ratio of roughly one contractor to every 100 soldiers; by 2008 in the Second Gulf War, that ratio had risen to roughly one to one. In Afghanistan, the ratio was even higher, peaking at 1.6 US-employed contractors per soldier. The total number of Department of Defense contractors (including logistical contractors) reached approximately 163,000 in Iraq in September 2008 and approximately 117,000 in Afghanistan in March 2012. A lot of the media attention surrounding the use of private military and security companies has been on the use of armed foreign contractors in conflict zones, such as Blackwater in Iraq. But the vast majority of the industry provides much more mundane logistical services, such as cleaning and providing food for regular soldiers.
Does this help to remove the pejorative mercenary tag? The private military and security industry has certainly made a concerted effort to attempt to rid itself of the tag, given its rhetorical force. Industry proponents claim private military and security companies are different to mercenaries because of their increased range of services, their alleged professionalism, their close links to employing states, and their corporate image. None of these alleged differences, however, provides a clear—i.e. an analytically necessary—distinction between mercenaries, and private military and security companies. After all, mercenaries could offer more services, could be professional, could have close links to states, and could have a flashy corporate image. Despite the proclamations of industry proponents, private military and security companies might still then be mercenaries.
But what, if anything, is morally wrong with being a mercenary or a private contractor? Could one be an ethical mercenary? In short, yes. To see this, suppose that you go to fight for a state that is trying to defend itself against attack from a genocidal rebel group, which is intent on killing thousands of innocent civilians. You get paid handsomely for this, but this is not the reason why you agree to fight—you just want to save lives. If fighting as a private contractor will, in fact, save lives, and any use of force will only be against those who are liable, is it morally permissible to be a contractor? I think so, given the import of saving lives. As such, mercenaries/private contractors might behave ethically sometimes.
Does this mean that we are incorrect to view mercenaries/private contractors as morally tainted? This would be too quick. We need to keep in mind that, although the occasional mercenary/private contractor might be fully ethical, it seems unlikely that they will be in general. There are at least two reasons to be sceptical of this. First, although there may be exceptions, it seems that financial considerations will often play a greater role in the decision for mercenaries/private contractors to take up arms than for regular soldiers. And, if we think that individuals should be motivated by concern for others rather than self-interest (manifest through the concern for financial gain), we should worry about the increased propensity for mercenary motives. Second, although it may be morally acceptable to be a mercenary/private contractor when considered in isolation, there is a broader worry about upholding and contributing to the general practice of mercenarism and the private military and security industry. One should be wary about contributing to a general practice that is morally problematic, such as mercenarism.
To elaborate, the central ethical problems surrounding private military force do not concern the employees, but rather the employers of these firms. The worries include the following:
that governments can employ private military and security companies to circumvent many of the constitutional and parliamentary—and ultimately democratic—constraints on the decision to send troops into action;
that it is questionable whether these firms are likely to be effective in the theatre, because, for instance, contractors and the firms can more easily choose not to undertake certain operations; and
that there is an abrogation of a state’s responsibility of care for those fighting on its behalf (private contractors generally don’t receive the same level of support after conflict as regular soldiers since political leaders are often less concerned about the deaths of private contractors).
There are also some more general worries about the effects on market for private force on the international system. It makes it harder to maintain the current formal constraints (e.g. current international laws) on the frequency and awfulness of warfare that are designed for the statist use of force. And a market for force can be expected to increase international instability by enabling more wars and unilateralism, as well as by increasing the ability of state and nonstate actors to use military force.
These are the major problems of mercanarism and the increased use of private military force. To that extent, I think that behind the rhetorical force of the claims about mercenaries in Ukraine, there are good reasons to be worried about their use, if not in Ukraine (where the facts are still to be ascertained), but more generally elsewhere. Despite the increased use of private military and security companies and the claims that they differ to mercenaries, we should be wary of the use of private military and security companies as well.
I have an excerpt and giveaway for Jessica Scott’s latest release All for You. Check it out!
ALL FOR YOU by Jessica Scott (November 25, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)
Can a battle-scarred warrior . . . Stay sober. Get deployed. Lead his platoon. Those are the only things that matter to Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli. What he wants is for everyone to stay out of his way; what he gets is Captain Emily Lindberg telling him how to deal with his men. Fort Hood’s newest shrink is smart as a whip and sexy as hell. She’s also full of questions-about the army, its soldiers, and the agony etched on Reza’s body and soul.
. . .open his heart to love? Emily has devoted her life to giving soldiers the care they need-and deserve. Little does she know that means facing down the fierce wall of muscle that is Sergeant Iaconelli like it’s just another day at the office. When Reza agrees to help her understand what makes a soldier tick, she’s thrilled. Too bad it doesn’t help her unravel the sexy warrior in front of her who stokes her desire and touches a part of her she thought long dead. He’s the man who thinks combat is the only escape from the demons that haunt him. The man who needs her most of all . . .
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs; wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon. She’s currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine‘s Americans of the Year for 2012. She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas.
It was fate. It had to be. A slow warmth unfurled inside him as the doctor he could not get out of his head looked up at him, her cheeks flushing pink.
She was all buttoned up at work. Tonight, she looked different. Looser. Unbound.
Compelling. That’s what she was. Her fire at work. Her refusal to let him bully her. He’d admired her backbone before.
Tonight, he admired her in an entirely new light. Her hair framed her face in careless curls. He hadn’t expected to see her outside of work. He damn sure hadn’t expected to see her here. An old familiar need rose inside him. A need for touch, human and warm. A need to lose himself for an interlude in sweat and sex and stunning pleasure. He’d given up drinking but women had apparently fallen into that category as well.
It had been months since he’d felt a woman’s hands on his body.
This woman was not someone he needed to be talking to at the bar tonight but he found himself walking toward her anyway.
After the week of confrontation they’d had, he’d be lucky if she didn’t slap him the minute he approached her.
He could do this. He could talk to a woman without drinking. Right?
Emily met his gaze as he approached. He almost smiled.
“Not your usual scene?” he asked, leaning against the bar.
She shifted, putting a little space between them. That slight reclamation of power. He made a noise of approval in his throat. “I’m surprised you’re talking to me.”
“I’m surprised you’re here. Shouldn’t you be home reading medical journals or something?” Her cheeks flushed deep pink and he wondered how far down her body that color went.
She tipped her chin then and looked at him. “Have you been drinking?”
He looked down at the bottle in his hand. “I don’t drink anymore,” he said quietly. No reason to delve into his abusive history with alcohol. “You?”
“Glass of wine,” she said.
Reza shrugged and leaned on the bar, taking another pull off his water and being careful not to lean too close. She looked like she’d bolt if he pushed her. “That would explain why you’re talking to me. We haven’t exactly been friendly.”
Her hair reflected the fading sunlight that filled the room from the wide-open patio doors. He wanted to fist it between his fingers, watch her neck arch for his mouth.
She motioned toward his bottle with her glass. “‘Anymore’?”
He simply took another pull off his water. He was going to be damn good and hydrated after tonight. He wondered what she’d do if he leaned a little closer. “Long story.”
“One you’re not keen on sharing?” she asked. She leaned her cheek on one palm. The sun glinted across her cheek.
“Let’s just say alcohol and I aren’t on speaking terms. Bad things happen when I drink.” It was nothing to be ashamed of but there it was. Shame wound up his spine and squeezed the air from his lungs. He was just like his dad after all.
“You say that like giving up alcohol is a bad thing,” Emily said quietly.
Reza snorted softly. He should have guessed she wouldn’t let it alone. She had stubbornness that could last for days. “It’s not something I’m proud of.”
Her hand on his forearm startled him. Soft and strong, her fingers pressed into his skin. “But stopping is something to be proud of.”
Reza stared down at her hand, pale against the dark shadows of his own skin. A long silence hung between them.
He lifted his gaze to hers.
“It takes a lot of strength to break with the past,” she said softly.
“What are you doing?” Her eyes glittered in the setting sun and he thought he caught the sight of the tiniest edge of her lip curling.
Her fingers slipped from his skin. “Offering my professional support?”
His lips quirked. “Was that a joke?”
“Maybe,” she said. “I’m working on developing a biting sense of humor. Defense mechanism against raging asshole commanders.”
Reza barked out a laugh. “You look different out of uniform,” he said lightly, pressing his advantage at this unexpected truce.
“So do you.”
He angled his body toward hers. “You like my makeup?” he asked.
Her lips parting as she tried to figure out if he was kidding or not. Finally, she cracked the barest hint of a smile.
Something powerful woke inside him and he moved before he thought about it. He reached for her, brushing a strand of hair from her cheek. The simple gesture was crushing in its intimacy. Her lips froze in a partial gasp, as though her breath had caught in her throat.
“Sergeant Iaconelli,” she said quietly, her voice husky. But she didn’t move away. Didn’t flinch from his touch.
“Reza.” He swallowed the sharp bite of arousal in his blood, more powerful without the haze of alcohol that usually clouded his reactions. “My name is Reza.”
His breath was locked in his lungs, the sound of his name on her lips triggering something dark and powerful and overwhelming.
He wanted this woman. The woman who’d stood in opposition to him this week. The woman who lifted her chin and stood steadfast between him and his soldiers.
There was strength in this woman. Strength and courage.
“I’m Emily.” Her words a rushed breath.
He lowered his hand, unwilling to push any further than he’d already gone. This was new territory for him. Unfamiliar and strange and filled with potential and fear.
“It was nice talking to you tonight, Emily,” he said when he could speak.
He waited for her acknowledgment that she’d heard him. Some slight movement of her head or tip of her chin.
Instead her throat moved as she swallowed and she blinked quickly, shattering the spell between them.
He left her then because to push further would challenge the limits of his restraint. He wasn’t ready to fall into bed with someone. No matter how compelling Emily might be.
He waited and he watched for the rest of the evening. Watched her slip out with her friend, leaving an empty space at the bar.
Leaving him alone with the fear that included the empty loneliness as well as the cold silence of sobriety.
His thoughts raced as he made sure his troopers all got home that night, and Teague crashed on his couch.
He fell into bed later, need and desire twisted up, filling the cold dead space left inside him by the lack of alcohol. A dead space he usually filled with work while deployed. Tonight, though, unfamiliar pleasure hunted his thoughts, whispering that he could still love a woman, that he didn’t have to be drunk to climb into bed with someone.
But Emily wasn’t a random someone.
And she was so far out of his league, it wasn’t even funny. Even if there was some sexual attraction there, she wasn’t likely to go slumming with a burned-out infantryman like him.
He lay there in the darkness, waiting, clinging to the single, simple pleasure of her touch, hoping that maybe tonight he could sleep, avoiding the nightmares that reminded him of the monster he’d become.
A beast who had lost his compassion somewhere on the road to Baghdad.
I am thrilled to welcome Lindsay McKenna to the virtual offices this morning! She has a special post to share, as well as an awesome giveaway for you to enter!
Post 6: A Heroine with a Cause
Title: TAKING FIRE by Lindsay McKenna: A heroine with a cause
One of the hallmarks of my writing, as my loyal readers will agree with, is that I write ‘fresh.’ Well, what does that mean? It means I’m not writing what everyone else is writing. I want to write from different slants and perspectives than are normally thought of to write from.
I wanted to create a heroine who was not a SEAL, but worked in deep black ops. This is an area that few can write about except those who have been in the military, or who have great military consultants who can give them useful information in defining and creating a character who is in this super secretive area of undercover work.
My heroine, US Marine Corps Sergeant Khatereh Shinwari, is someone you’ve never read about before. She’s deep black ops. Blacker than black, as they say in the trade. And when the hero, SEAL Michael Tarik meets her, he runs into a black-out on who she is. And he wants to know her—or else. So how to find out about a person that your heart is invested in and she’s not talking? In fact, a deep black ops individual will never tell you anything. They don’t give you leads and they don’t give you clues, either.
I had a great time creating scenes between these two Type A, competitive military combat people. Mike is black ops and he’s got a top secret clearance just like every other SEAL does. Most people think that’s as far as clearances go, but it doesn’t. Khat Shinwari is so above him on the black ops food chain, that it defies discovery by Mike.
Part of the fun of creating this book is the ultra-secret status of Khat. Who IS she? Why is she operating out in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan alone with no back-up? No help if she gets in a bad situation? Mike just can’t understand her or her status. One thing SEALs are really good at? Finding out the unknowable. And you, as the reader, will be with him as he gets serious about finding out who this brave, black ops woman really is. Why? Because he is drawn to her and isn’t about to just blow her off. At the same time? Khat isn’t telling him a thing about herself.
So come along and watch how a SEAL operates in some pretty murky, deep black ops water and watch what happens!
Not all are meant to walk in the light. Marine Corps Sergeant Khat Shinwari lives among the shadows of the rocky Afghani hills, a Shadow Warrior by name and by nature. She works alone, undercover and undetected—until a small team of US Navy SEALs are set upon by the Taliban…and Khat is forced to disobey orders to save their lives.
To go rogue.
Now, hidden deep in the hills with injured SEAL Michael Tarik in her care, Khat learns that he’s more than just a soldier. In him, she sees something of herself and of what she could be. Now duty faces off against the raw, overwhelming attraction she has for Mike. And she must decide between the safety of the shadows…and risking everything by stepping into the light.
Lindsay McKenna is proud to have served her country in the U.S. Navy as an aerographer’s mate third class—also known as a weather forecaster. She is one of the original founders of the military romance subgenre and loves to combine heart-pounding action with soulful and poignant romance. Her latest book is the romantic suspense Taking Fire.
I've been a fan of Erik Larson's riveting brand of narrative history for years, and his latest book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, is his finest work yet. Suspenseful and expertly researched, Dead Wake transports the reader to the Atlantic theatre of WWI, where the luxury passenger liner Lusitania and a German [...]
Spiked with suspense that builds toward inevitable disaster, this gripping story of the ill-fated luxury liner, Lusitania, demonstrates once again Larson's unparalleled skill at narrative history. For all of us who waited in anticipation of his next book, Dead Wake does not disappoint. Books mentioned in this post Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the... [...]
This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for Leslie Jones’ BAIT. Check it out!
Bait Duty & Honor # 2
By: Leslie Jones
Releasing April 28th, 2015
In the next thrilling Duty & Honor novel, a female CIA agent and a Delta Force soldier must catch a deadly assassin… but do they know where the danger truly lies?
After several assassination attempts on an allied royal, the CIA sends in operative Christina Madison—who bears a striking resemblance to the monarch—to pose as the famous princess and draw out her would-be killer.
When Delta Force Lieutenant Gabriel Morgan’s team is assigned to Christina’s undercover protection detail, he’s less than thrilled. Gabe wants nothing to do with a woman whose rumored screw-up nearly got her last team killed. Not to mention there’s bad blood between Gabe and the CIA—he doesn’t trust anyone who lies for a living.
But once the trap is set and the assassin takes the bait, Gabe must protect her with his life … because danger lurks in the shadows, and now Christina is in the crosshairs.
Leslie Jones has been an IT geek, a graphic designer, and, much like her heroine, an Army Intelligence officer, bringing her firsthand experience to the pages of her works. She’s lived in Alaska, Korea, Belgium, Germany, and other exotic locations (including New Jersey). She is a wife, mother, and full-time writer and splits her time between Scottsdale, Arizona, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Reports of the assassination attempt on Princess Véronique de Savoie barely made a blip on the news outside of Concordia. The tiny country rivaled Liechtenstein in size and importance. As in, very damned little. Most would be hard-pressed to find it on a map.
Inside the CIA, however, the assassination attempt caused a ripple of reaction, starting in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, bypassing normal channels, and landing directly on case officer Jay Spicer’s desk.
“You want me to do what?” asked Christina Madison, eyes wide as she stared at her boss.
Jay Spicer looked back at her. “Have you been in front of a mirror lately?”
“Sure I have.” Every now and then, someone would comment on her eerie resemblance to the princess of Concordia. Princess Véronique made headlines inside her own country on a regular basis, though rarely outside of it. Concordian cameras and reporters followed her as she labored on various humanitarian projects. She’d been part of a BBC documentary last year on modern royalty in Europe, which Christina had watched out of curiosity. The princess remained gracious in the face of newshounds and paparazzi, even when elbow-deep in dirt planting a new strain of bacteria-resistant corn in Ethiopia or bringing clean well water to rural Bolivians.
Occasionally a European visitor to the Washington, D.C., area would ask if she were, indeed, the princess. Christina would laugh it off with a simple, “Don’t I wish.” Truth be told, she much preferred her anonymous work bringing down money laundering and smuggling operations. Having cameras shoved in her face and every word and action dissected struck her as repugnant.
For the most part, though, Véronique remained one of the royal unknowns.
Christina grabbed a handful of Skittles from the crystal ashtray on Jay’s desk. Red and yellow only. He’d already eaten the green and orange.
“Her face is well known inside Concordia. Resembling someone and taking her place are two different—”
“This comes from the top,” her boss interrupted. “From the director himself. The British government specifically asked for your help.”
Her head began to whirl. The mandatory photographs of the president and CIA director frowned down at her from behind his head. Boring pictures. Boring white walls. The only interesting thing in the whole office was the life-sized cardboard cutout of Captain America planted to the right of the door. “The British? Not the Concordians? I don’t understand, sir.”
Jay leaned forward in his chair and tugged at an earlobe, his ADHD making it impossible for him to sit still. At fifty, he still managed to retain the air of an errant schoolboy. He smirked, cracking his knuckles. Christina crossed her legs, not fooled by his antics. Jay Spicer was a shrewd, brilliant case officer. He counted on his façade to cause people to underestimate him. He would clarify the situation in his own time.
“Princess Véronique is engaged to a landed baron in the UK.”
“He has enough clout to tap the CIA for help?”
“Sort of.” Jay pushed a folder across his cluttered mahogany desk. The beige file sported the banded red and large stamps indicating that it contained classified information.
Christina uncrossed her legs in order to lean forward and snag the folder. She flipped it open. The top page contained a request from … Trevor Carswell?
Jay rocked back, the chair squeaking. He grinned, tapping his fingers.
Rafflecopter Giveaway (10 Digital Downloads of BAIT by Leslie Jones)
We are still in the longest war in our nation’s history. 2.7 million service members have served since 9/11 in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands have been killed, tens of thousands wounded, and approximately 20 to 30% have post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury.