Love From The Ashes: Strong Women

 

I love strong women in novels. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we don’t all have faults and vulnerabilities. I love this scene from Love From the Ashes when the heroine shows us that she has strength.

ASHES-Teaser

From the Ashes of Hell itself…

During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire privileged Grace Wyne and Irish immigrant Nathaniel Dempsey desperately try to rescue LOVE FROM THE ASHES.

Grace and Nate seek freedom and a new life in San Francisco but society, her family and forces of Nature, wage war against them.

Nate is torn by the death of his family in Ireland. Yet he finds Grace’s spirit and strength a balm for his soul. She joins a suffragette organization, but when she encounters scorn and violence, Nate vows to protect her.

She is determined to marry for love, and now is stunned by her feelings for a man far beneath her social status. There is more than one danger to face–for the earth is unstable and their forbidden love is a sure formula for disaster.

When the earth trembles and breaks apart, only Nature knows who will live to love again… and who will die.

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 Thursday, February 22

Wyne Mansion

Grace stepped out the back door of the kitchen and headed toward the gazebo, drawing in a deep breath of cool sea-scented air. A soothing few minutes in the mild sunshine might revive her. Last night she’d had a horrendous dream where the walls of the mansion tumbled all around her, and the earth bolted and shook.

“Too many tall tales from Mary,” she said out loud.

Mary had explained that California tossed and turned with earthquakes on a regular basis. Although intrigued by quakes, Grace’s dream disturbed her deeply.

Absorbed by her thoughts, she stepped from behind a hedge and onto a dirt path. She almost didn’t hear the honking of the automobile horn until too late.

Startled, she saw the Studebaker kicking up dirt as it roared down the narrow path like a silver bullet bent on destruction. She didn’t have time to think.

With a cry Grace thrust herself backward, tripped over her hem and landed on her back with a thump and a grunt.

At the last moment the driver swerved around her, twisting the steering wheel in a desperate attempt to avoid running over her.

Dozens of tiny rocks dug into her palms, and she took in a gasping breath. She muttered a word no well brought up young lady was supposed to know.

As the driver brought the automobile to an abrupt halt, only inches from her, a fresh onslaught of rocks flew up from the tires and pelted her.

“You little fool,” the man muttered loud enough for her to hear. Standing up in his seat and tearing off his cap and goggles, Nathaniel Dempsey opened the driver’s side door and jumped out.

She pushed herself to her feet, brushing at the back of her dress with angry strokes. As he strode toward her, eating up the ground with his long strides, he looked incensed enough to chew her into tiny pieces and swallow her. Indignation rose in her throat and stiffened her back. Grace placed her hands on her hips and stared at the oncoming man with disdain.

“Fool?” she asked. “I assume you’re talking about yourself, Mr. Dempsey?”

His expression didn’t change, and when he grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a tiny shake, she gasped. His eyes sparked with anger, his fingers pressing into her arms and the line of his mouth grim.

“Are you daft? I could’ve killed you. Didn’t your father and mother ever tell you to look both ways before you cross the road?” he asked, his tone low with anger.

Trying to keep her voice steady, Grace stared into his eyes. “Of course. But I’d hardly call this a road, Mr. Dempsey. My father asked you to practice in the circular drive, if I am not mistaken. What are you doing driving the Studebaker back here?”

Nate’s fingers tightened on her arms and his lips curled. “Returning the automobile to the carriage house, Miss Wyne.”

Silence expanded between them, and the moment stretched before she regained her equilibrium. She took a deep breath. As she surveyed him in his chauffeur togs, she noted his black hair stuck up in small tufts. She had the urge to arrange each strand back into proper position.

Instead she said, “I suggest you take your hands off me before someone sees us.”

He released her, clenching his hands at his sides.

“Are you hurt?” he asked, his voice a harsh rasp.

Grace touched the hair escaping her pompadour and looked down at the hem of her white lingerie dress. When the automobile had come to a halt it had thrown dirt onto the material. A small strip of delicate lace had torn from the skirt. She thought she could feel a split in her cotton stockings. Substantial damage for such a small fall.

“This is going to take considerable work to launder,” she said matter-of-factly.

His nose twitched. “I wasn’t asking about your dress.”

The sarcasm in his voice told her she’d hit a nerve. She’d never wanted to see a man out of control before, but she liked the tension that rolled off him in waves. To her surprise, seeing him agitated intrigued her. Somewhere between animosity and attraction, she felt his vigor like a flame, ready to explode at any moment.

Before she could answer, he reached out and touched her shoulder. The soft, gentle heat tingled straight through her arm and into the rest of her body.

How extraordinary.

“Are you hurt?” he asked again.

“I am perfectly fine. Though I may have torn my inexpressibles.”

His expression relaxed, and he let out a bark of laughter and dropped his hand away from her shoulder. “Sure, and has anyone ever told you you’re a corker?”

Raising one eyebrow, she asked, “A what?”

“A corker.”

“Is than an insult, Mr. Dempsey?”

“No. It means you’re one of a kind. A humdinger.”

“Oh.” She still didn’t know whether to be offended or not. “Well, I suggest you keep your insults and your praise to yourself.”

Nate’s lips twitched, as if he held back a strong retort. He didn’t hold back long. “I’d take your own advice.”

She knew she was being horrid, but something about this man made her speak without thinking of consequences.. “I could tell my father what happened and have the expense of cleaning the dress taken out of your pay.”

His eyes narrowed and he took a step closer. Much closer. “You wouldn’t.”

“I would.” She smiled. “If I were a nasty bitch.”

His mouth dropped open. “Bitch, Miss Wyne? Did you learn such language at finishing school, then?”

“Of course. Young ladies are rarely as proper as everyone imagines.”

“Most of the ladies I know are very proper.”

“Irish women?”

“Aye.”

“Well, this is America. American ladies are different.”

“Humph. So I’ve seen.” Nate punctuated his statement with a sweeping look over her entire body. He stepped closer again, until only a couple of inches separated them. “You really shouldn’t talk like this with a man, Miss Wyne. They might think you were offering something.”

The husky inflection in his voice and the light in his eyes told Grace she’d hit danger hard and fast. His proximity sent a hot, unexpected, and unfamiliar shock through her body. Heat knotted deep in her belly, and a flush filled her cheeks. Heaven help her. The way he looked at her … she couldn’t describe it. No words for the way he made her feel would come to mind.

What was happening to her?

When they’d first met Grace thought he might be indifferent to her, but his intent perusal shook that theory to the ground. She’d seen similar, less powerful looks in other men’s eyes before. A deep and ignited lust that filled their expressions when they thought no one would notice. Nate’s attention was more powerful. Incandescence simmered like a blue flame in his eyes, expressing something stronger and more promising than anything she’d known. Mesmerized by his interest and the new sensations snaking through her, she didn’t move, didn’t speak.

“Have you ever been kissed, Miss Wyne?” he asked, his voice thick with a throaty nuance she’d never heard a man use.

* *

That’s all for this week! I’ll be on some R&R next week, so I’ll see ya on the flip side!

 

Jett Munroe: In The Line Of Fire & Military Romance

Everyone knows I love a great military romance novel. I’m happy to welcome Jett Munroe to my blog today as she talks about In The Line Of Fire, the first in her Hot Desert Heroes series. Welcome Jett!

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Hi, y’all! I’m so happy that Denise opened up her blog to me today. I write paranormal romance under the pen name Cynthia Garner and contemporary romance as Jett Munroe. My most recent release, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, is a contemporary with suspense elements and a hero who is former military.

My favorite thing about reading romances that have heroes who are in law enforcement, the military, or the like is the bonds of brotherhood the men feel toward each other. Bonds forged in blood, sweat and tears that make them as close, if not closer, than actual blood-brothers.

My new series, Hot Desert Heroes, takes a retired Marine Corps special ops team and puts them in an elite security firm founded by two of the team in Tucson, Arizona. These are men who are alpha warriors—they fight with honor and protect the ones they love. And along the way they may stumble and perhaps even fall, but their brothers and the discovery of love each hero makes helps them heal their pasts. It’s hot in the desert, in more ways than one.

IN THE LINE OF FIRE follows the adventures of Beck Townsend, former spec ops leader and co-owner of Red Eagle Group, and Delaney Murphy, a soft-spoken and shy woman Beck’s had his eye on for a while.

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Their passion burns white hot. But danger is heartless and cold.

 Hot Desert Heroes, Book 1 – IN THE LINE OF FIRE

Delaney Murphy has had a stomach-fluttering, mouth-watering crush on Beck since the first time she saw him over the rim of her regular morning latte. But she’s never been long on self-confidence, especially around exceptionally handsome men.

After a year of avoiding him, she’s shocked when he slides into the next chair and wears down her resistance to a first date.

When Laney is laid off from her job, Marines special ops veteran Beck “Gravedigger” Townsend wastes no time hiring the quiet, auburn-haired beauty into Red Eagle Group, his security firm. Keeping her within touching distance—and under his protection.

Laney’s smile and sharp intelligence light up Beck’s life and heat up his bed, yet he hesitates to give her what she really wants: full access to the darkest corners of his wounded spirit. But when danger is delivered right to Red Eagle’s door, the only way to save her—and their love—will be to bleed. Body and soul…

 Warning: Adult language and graphic sex scenes between a man locked behind his secrets, and a woman ready to break free of her past. If you think the desert is hot, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

~ * ~ * ~

And an excerpt:

Delaney had pulled the paper wrapper off and had just finished twisting the bottom of the muffin away from the top when the cushion next to her depressed. Expecting to see either Lily or Andi, she licked icing off her finger and looked up with a smile. Then froze.

Beck. Beck Townsend had just sat down next to her, and he had a look on his face that told her he wasn’t going to give her a chance to run. He confirmed that when he said, “I’m not givin’ you a chance to run, Laney. No more playin’ around. Today’s the day you and I start to get acquainted.”

What?

She put the muffin halves on the plate and leaned forward to set it on the table. Fumbling for her napkin, she wiped the remaining icing off her finger. “Um…” She rolled her lips between her teeth and stared over his shoulder. A group of customers went out the door, including Edmond and Mrs. Henderson. The old lady gave her a wide smile and an enthusiastic thumbs-up, while Edmond’s eyes narrowed on her and Beck. She wondered about that for a second, until Beck spoke.

“I get that you’re shy,” he murmured. “I like that you’re shy. It gives me the chance to make the first move instead of having to fight off unwelcome attention.”

Her eyes slid back to him. Seriously? Like any man, good-looking or not, would want to fight off a woman who wanted to get it on with him.

“You like people you don’t know gettin’ up in your personal space without invitation?” Beck asked.

She frowned. “No.” She glanced meaningfully at the spot where he’d parked his taut ass next to her.

He grinned but ignored her pointed look and said, “Neither do I.”

Maybe if she told him she wasn’t interested, which was a big, fat lie, he’d leave her alone.

“And don’t kid yourself or try to make me believe my attention toward you is unwelcome.”

Good God. Now he was in her head, knowing what she was thinking.

His lips twitched. “You have a very expressive face.”

Her breath caught and held. She was thirty-one years old. No one had ever told her she had an expressive face. She’d learned from a very early age not to let people, namely her mother and later her now ex-husband, see when they upset her, because then the nagging and bitching and belittling never let up.

She didn’t have an expressive face!

“Might’ve enjoyed women all up in my space when I was young and stupid,” Beck went on, his voice husky and deep. “I’m more selective now that I’m older and know what’s important, want what’s true and real.” His lips twitched again. “Laney,” he murmured and reached over to briefly squeeze her fingers. “Breathe.”

She exhaled noisily and got her lungs working again, though that quick touch of his warm hand on hers didn’t help in the endeavor. She had to play it cool and not say something dumb like she normally did around a good-looking guy. “I don’t have an expressive face.” She rolled her lips again and closed her eyes. Really, she just had to blurt out what she was thinking, didn’t she?

“Babe.” His voice brought her gaze back to him in time to catch his lip twitch turn into a smile. “You do,” he said. “Don’t ever play poker, baby. You’d lose your shirt.” Even as his grin widened, his eyes darkened to a smoky gray.

Oh God. He’d called her baby. She didn’t know what to do with that. She also didn’t know what to do with that smile. He was supremely handsome before he smiled, and what that upward tilt of his lips did to his face should have been illegal. She shifted her weight, trying to alleviate the sudden heat of awareness between her thighs. She was a grown woman, not some teenager fighting burgeoning hormones. She should be able to have a coherent conversation with the man.

Maybe if she didn’t look at him. Yeah, that could work. When she looked at him, especially if she met his gaze, the thoughts flew out of her head as if they’d been burned up by a wildfire.

“So,” he said, his deep voice soft and just raspy enough to snag her libido, “Lily and Andi tell me you work at SNJ Technology.”

Delaney nodded. It was a small but very successful military contractor. “I work for one of the VPs.” She realized what he’d said and her gaze flew to his face. He talked to my friends about me! And neither one had breathed a word, the big traitors.

“Which VP?”

She frowned, just a little, and put her gaze back to her hands in her lap. Tucson wasn’t that big of a city, but it still had over five hundred thousand residents during the hot summer months. That number swelled to over a million once the cooler temps of fall and winter rolled in. It was possible he knew her boss, she supposed, but she didn’t think it was probable. “Trigg Halverson,” she finally replied, shooting him a glance from under her lashes. “He heads up the Data Compilation Department.”

“Ah.” Beck tipped his head forward to try to catch her eye and she, like a dork, ducked her head. “Don’t know him,” he said and followed it with a sigh. “Laney, darlin’, I’m not gonna jump you in public in front of God and witnesses. Please relax.”

How did one go about telling a hot guy that you weren’t afraid of him in a you’re-going-to-attack-me kind of way but rather were too afraid of being a big ol’ disappointment? What if she did relax around him and he discovered she just wasn’t all that interesting?

“You seeing anyone?”

There. That was her ticket out. Beck was a good guy. He wouldn’t poach on another man’s territory. If she told him she was dating someone, he’d leave her be. She tried to ignore the sadness she felt at that thought and focused instead on the relief she was sure to feel when he left her alone. “I broke up with someone yesterday. Now he’s texting me nonstop, asking me to take him back.”

Lord. God. Almighty. Why could she not just lie to the man?

~ * ~ * ~

Thanks for dropping by! Let me know what you think about the book, and I’d love to hear which branch of the military is your favorite. (I honestly went with Marines because I love-love-LOVE their dress uniforms. Don’t judge me. But I believe that all the men and women of our armed forces, regardless in which branch they serve, are heroes.)

Please like me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter and Pinterest. You can also sign up for my newsletter.

You can get your copy of IN THE LINE OF FIRE at:

Samhain Publishing

All Romance Ebooks

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

As the writing of this post (6/1/16), Samhain was selling the ebook for $3.85 and the paperback at $11.89. Might just be the best place to purchase your copy!

Denise, thank you so much for giving me time and space on your blog so I can share Red Eagle Group with your readers. The names of all commenters will be tossed into a hat (or maybe a plastic baggie) and the winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.

 

Excerpt: Treacherous Wishes

Hey everyone! Hope your weekend was fabulous. Today I’m teasing you with an excerpt from my upcoming reissue of Treacherous Wishes (Taggert Security Team #2) which comes out June 6. This story, along with the first book (Dangerous Intentions) are true books of my heart. I wrote these romantic suspense novels a long time ago and enjoyed it tremendously. The bad guy in Treacherous Wishes remains one of my scariest characters and I loved every minute of creating him. This excerpt features some of the flirty dialogue you’ll see from the hero and heroine in Treacherous Wishes. Enjoy!

treacherouswishes

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Just when you think the danger has passed…

Just when you’ve stopped looking over your shoulder…

Evil finds a way…

Tammy Carter lost her psychic abilities in the aftermath of tragedy. Now, years later, her power resurrects when evil returns to her town. She was secure in her job, her life, and lack of complications. Now everything in her comfort zone is disintegrating and she doesn’t know what to do next or who she can trust.

Bodyguard Kyle Hawthorne doesn’t believe in the supernatural or in Tammy’s psychic gift, but when her life is threatened he’ll do anything to protect her. Professionalism demands a platonic relationship with his co-worker at Taggert Security Team, yet the sizzling connection he feels for Tammy demands exploration every time he’s near her. Deep down Tammy has always found Kyle a stable force in her world, even though she’s harbored lightning-hot fantasies about him for years. Suddenly their sexual desires and emotions are too powerful to ignore, which starts a chain reaction of events that may bring them together or allow the evil to consume them.

* *

The phone rang again.

The breather had called three times in ten minutes, and that last connection had almost fried her senses. She hesitated.

She should say “Taggert Security Team.” She should take a deep breath and stay calm.

Screw it.

She picked up the phone on the third ring. “Listen, you jerk, this is a business. Stop calling us!”

Silence on the other end shocked her. Finally the person spoke. “Tammy?”

She recognized the male voice and a blush flooded her face. “Hawthorne? Damn it, I’m sorry.”

“Hey, babe, are you all right?”

His silky, husky voice sent a wild fluttering into her stomach. Tammy swallowed hard. Bodyguard Kyle Hawthorne might be the most handsome man she’d ever met, but that didn’t mean she needed to dissolve into gelatin. The jibes, barbs and teasing they’d traded for the last year meant nothing. Employees at Taggert Security leaned toward the wild side—their dangerous jobs made them less willing to follow convention. Hawthorne was no exception. He played the role of flirtatious, handsome charmer all the way. More than once, a friend of Tammy’s had speculated about his love life. But she tried not to imagine Hawthorne holding a woman in his arms. It gave her a headache.

“Tammy?” he said again, concern deepening his tone.

“Sorry. I … uh … I just thought you were someone else.”

He chuckled. “What’s the matter? Art forget to pick you up for a date?”

Leave it to Kyle to remember the one time Art Childress had forgotten a date with her. “He’s working tonight. We had to cancel.”

“Again?”

“What do you mean again? We’ve been out three times in two months. I’d say that’s a record.”

“If you were my woman, I’d make sure we came together several times a week.”

With impeccable timing, her heartbeat accelerated, and her mouth went dry. Babe? His woman? Came together? It sounded primitive. Some might say chauvinistic. Yet she knew this man too well to believe he meant any irreverence toward her. He believed in equality of the sexes. Flirting was second nature to him. His woman indeed. Still, the way his voice vibrated over her already heightened senses sent pleasant shivers through her body and caused her belly to flutter.

It was like that every time he was near her. He spoke, she pretended not to notice how sexy he was. She’d tried over the time she’d known him to disregard this disturbing realty—Kyle Hawthorne sent her libido into overdrive.

Came together.

Whether he meant the words to sound erotic or not, the husky velvet in his voice seduced her senses. Rich and deep, his voice always stirred her profoundly in a way she couldn’t control.

The subtext in those words sent her heart into a frantic pace and within her feminine core, her body moistened, clenched, and longed for the sensation of hard masculinity. She visualized, with stunning clarity, their bodies naked on a bed and writhing as their loins came together. Hot steel into soft wetness. Her breath hitched as her face went hot.

Holy shit, Tammy. Now is not the time.

“Better watch out, Hawthorne. I could break your neck for saying something that suggestive and sexist.”

“Chauvinistic?”

“Don’t play dumb with me. Your woman? Hell, why not go all the way and call me wench?” His laugh soothed her skittish nerves. She sighed and rubbed the tight muscles in the back of her neck. “What are you doing calling the office at this hour?”

“What are you doing at the office at seven o’clock at night?”

Tammy fiddled with the small, brown plastic stegosaurus on her desk. “Answer my question first.”

“Burke still working on the Alexander case?”

The stegosaurus tipped over, and she let it lie on its side. She stared at its underbelly. “No. He went home an hour ago. He thinks he’s coming down with the flu as well.”

“Great. At this rate Mrs. Taggert will have to quarantine the office.”

She groaned. “I don’t even want to think about it.”

“Okay, so why are you still at work and who did you think was calling?”

“Today was hellish and I fell behind. And I thought you were the breather. He’s called three times in the last ten minutes. When the phone rang, I lost it.”

“Obscene phone calls? That’s a first at the agency. It must be your sexy voice.”

“Right, Hawthorne. My voice is about as sexy as an elephant sneezing.”

He laughed. “Did this creep say anything?”

“No. He wasn’t original enough. Just a lot of heavy panting.”

“Are you about ready to leave?”

“Just put away the last file. I need a cup of caffeine for the road.”

“Stay put. I’m almost there.”

“What?” She accidentally knocked the pencil cup over and writing instruments rolled across her desk.

“I’m calling on my cell. When I get there I can walk you to your car.”

“You don’t have to do that.” She hated the shaky, nervous quality in her voice. Tammy righted the pencil cup and started dropping pens and pencils into the brilliant red holder.

“I don’t have to. I want to. See you in a few minutes.”

Stunned, she kept the phone to her ear for a moment before she realized he’d hung up. She slipped the receiver back into the cradle.

 

Disaster Junkie: What Does The Earthquake Feel Like To The Heroine?

When I wrote Love From The Ashes about seventeen years ago, I’d never experienced an earthquake. So how was I going to understand what the heroine in the book felt in 1906 San Francisco? I’ve got an enormous imagination so that obviously helps. Second, I researched and studied about earthquakes for quite some time before writing the book. Here’s a snippet of what the heroine, Grace Wyne, experiences when of the biggest earthquakes in U.S. history happens in 1906.

* *

As Grace stepped out of the boarding house and walked the few steps to the Studebaker, she took in the sounds of early morning. Few people were up at this hour. She saw the lone figure of a man walking down Valencia Street away from her and toward Market.

The air was still, but cool.

Grace paused, listening.

She heard dogs barking, and the whinny of an agitated horse. Brushing away an odd, inexplicable uneasiness, she turned the ignition on the auto, then moved to the front and cranked the Studebaker to a start. As Grace climbed into the auto she thought about everything that had happened in the last few hours. Another strange apprehension came over her.

Would she ever see Nate again?

She couldn’t regret making love with him. Taking his body into her had brought her a joy she never could have imagined. But Grace couldn’t force Nate to love her, any more than she could force herself to love Chauncey.

More than once she had almost said the words to Nate as his body had come into her again and again.

I love you.

How long had she denied intellectually what her heart had known? Perhaps she was a coward for running away while he lay sleeping.

As she pulled away from the Bijou Boarding house, the auto jumped ahead, coming up behind a team of four horses pulling a wagon. Yet her impatience had nothing to do with wanting to get home. No, Grace planned on driving about the quiet city until the bustle of the new day propelled her back to Nob Hill. She needed time to think.

She glanced toward the Berkeley hills to the east and saw the sky lighten to a clear blue. It looked like it would be a beautiful day.

Suddenly the streetlights dimmed and went out.

Grace slowed the auto in reaction, though the morning light was enough to see by without the streetlights and the headlamps of the Studebaker.

The wagon in front of her slowed and the horses whinnied, shying to the side.

Curious, Grace glanced at the clock on the side of a barbershop as she passed. Five twelve precisely.

A second later she heard the rumble, like distant thunder growling and growing under her feet, menacing above the noise of the automobile engine. She looked up Valencia Street toward Market Street, confused. Were there train tracks close to the area?

No. None.

At first Grace thought she’d become dizzy, for the auto swayed under her grip, the steering wheel wrenched from her hands for a horrifying second.

As the terrible thunder roared in her ears, she saw the street ahead undulate like a snake, rolling up with great violence like waves off the ocean. The shuddering earth danced, wrenching sidewise, then back with a demented motion that increased with every second. Then the insane earth changed direction, swaying the automobile on its tires. Over the noise of rending and tearing and tormented ground, she heard a church bell pealing. Grace thought she might be caught in an endless nightmare where the earth bucked and shook like a wild horse.

The horses screamed as the wagon driver tried to control the frenzied animals. The automobile’s forward momentum had slowed considerably, but had not stopped.

She was going to hit the wagon.

As Grace slammed on the brakes, the violent tremor came to a sudden halt.

The Studebaker slammed into the back of the wagon, flinging Grace headfirst into the windshield. Incredible pain flashed through her head. As dawn threatened to fade into night, she felt the earth revive its demonic quiver, a violent pulse that sent entire walls into the street, crashing all around her. The creaking and roaring of buildings being ripped apart united with rocking earth to form a horrifying symphony.

Tall buildings swayed like insane dancers in a macabre play. Through the terrible cacophony and destruction, she heard screaming, pleas of the dying mixing with the terror of those believing it might be Judgment Day. She had a second to glance at the man in the wagon and saw the panic in his face.

Grace looked up and saw a cornice begin to crack on the five-story building next to her. Part of the building gave way, and she screamed as it fell on the man and his horses, crushing them beneath rubble.

With her last ounce of strength Grace threw herself from the auto as part of the wall descended and hit the Studebaker. Her world went silent and black.

* *

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Disaster Junkie: Excerpt from Blackout

This week I’m regaling you with an excerpt from my novel Blackout. Enjoy!

A woman rebuilding her shattered life faces a new disaster when a solar flare takes out the grid, and the only thing standing between her and certain death is a U.S. Marshal with a shadowy past, and a haunted house that threatens to destroy them both.

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In this scene the hero and heroine come up against some seriously nasty people in the aftermath of the solar flare.

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With Skinhead’s big body blocking Cassie’s vision, she couldn’t see past him at first. But she’d recognize Griff’s no-nonsense voice anywhere. Relief crashed like a wave over her.

Skinhead levered off of her and stood, and she scooted away. She didn’t try to stand, her body still protesting every move she made.

Griff came into her view as he came closer. He held his weapon out in front of him, his stance self-assured and ready to fire if need be. Cassie’s gaze narrowed to his face, to the coldness in his eyes, and the tight line of his lips.

Griff’s expression was tight with pure anger. “Back away from her.”

“Whoa, now,” Skinhead said. “We didn’t mean no harm.”

“You better get some etiquette lessons, asshole.” Griff’s expression didn’t change, and his voice stayed icy. “It fucking looked like you meant harm when you touched her.”

“This little lady your woman?” Jacky asked.

Griff didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”

“Well, ain’t that fine?” Jacky smiled, ice still in his eyes. He held up his hands and took the steps down past Griff and nearer to his bulky friend. “We’ll just be going then.”

Jacky’s companion reached slowly for the rifle that had fallen to the ground when he’d rolled down the steps.

“Leave it.” Griff’s voice cut like a knife.

“It don’t belong to you,” Skinhead said.

“Too bad.” Griff’s stance didn’t move an inch, his weapon trained on the men.

“I don’t know,” Jacky said. “I think you oughtta teach your bitch some manners at least. She wasn’t the least hospitable.”

Cassie almost told the guy where he could shove his manners.

Skinhead’s ugly smile appeared. “Maybe I should take her from you. She’s a beauty.”

Cassie’s heart shot into her throat in a mix of fear and disgust. “No.”

The word was barely a whisper. A croaking sound. Griff didn’t even flinch.

Skinhead laughed. “Christ. Are you a dumb fuck? I got friends in this town. Maybe we should just come back later and kill you and take her then.”

Griff’s smile held no amusement. “You can try.”

The absolute certainty in Griff’s words made a shiver go through her. She couldn’t take her eyes off him.

Jacky chuckled. “Cripes, Peterson. He has a look about him. Sure you weren’t in a militia or something, bub? A gang maybe?”

Griff’s gaze and his aim didn’t venture from the man called Peterson. “Yep.”

“You were in a gang?” Jacky asked.

“Survivalist camp. Neo-Nazi,” Griff said with perfect conviction.

At this news, a strange feeling of unreality came over Cassie. Griff couldn’t be serious.

“Well, why the hell didn’t you say so, brother?” Peterson said with a smile.

Griff didn’t lower his weapon. “I’m not here for old home week, and you put your hands on my woman. I suggest you leave.”

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You can grab a copy of Blackout at several retailers. Click here to get all the links!

San Francisco 1906: A Disaster Junkie Talks About Perspective & Gratefulness

Perspective. It’s something we all lose at one time or another. Depending on what our hot buttons are, we can also completely lose sight of the facts. In today’s world we jump quickly to what went wrong with a horrible situation and aren’t too grateful sometimes about what went right. Especially when that situation is a disaster.

Social media is guilty of giving everyone the opportunity to express an opinion (which is a good thing sometimes and sometimes not). We latch onto any situation and turn it into a political playground or a conspiracy. We often play a game called, “In the good ole days things were better.” If you look at the facts, there might be some things that were, but there are usually an equal amount of things that were absolutely not.

Last week an enormous wildfire scorched parts of Alberta Canada and caused damage to Fort McMurray. Today, I’m putting some of that in perspective. So far we know that:

Two people perished in car accidents during the evacuation of Fort McMurray. On the first day of the evacuation (probably more like two days) around 88,000 people escaped a fire that was so quick, so hot and so dangerous there was every reason to think some people wouldn’t have escaped it. I think the fact they did escape it is a miracle worth celebrating. As of this blog date I’ve heard that somewhere between 85 to 90 percent of the town escaped destruction. Around 2,600 buildings were destroyed. The fact that the downtown area and the hospital were saved is also incredible. Despite the horrendous situation, that’s a real sign of hope for the people who want to return to the area. It’s also a true testament to how modern conveniences saved so many lives and so many buildings.

People were warned by way of emergency systems, cell phones and landline.  Aerial firefighting equipment such as planes and helicopters helped save the town.

These are modern things that made it possible for thousands upon thousands of people to escape. In the past, in the good ole days, can you imagine how much different this disaster would have unfolded? (Look up the Peshtigo Fire of 1871 as an example).

In some ways it is difficult to compare the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire to what happened at Fort McMurray. The 3,000 to 5,000 deaths that occurred in San Francisco are a mixed bag from combining the earthquake and fire. What I do know is that in the good ole days you were more at the mercy of whatever Mother Nature decided to throw at you. Well, okay, sometimes there isn’t anything you can do today if Mother Nature decides it is time to kick ass and take names.

Back in 1906 there were no cell phones, few landlines, not enough firefighting equipment (and not the type of equipment we have now). On that day and for as long as the fires lasted in San Francisco, about 28,000 buildings were destroyed. The limitations of 1906 were tremendous.

Disasters are always hard to compare. But I think one thing we can do is remember that in the good ole days there was a lot we didn’t have that we have now. So for every bad thing that happens today, I think a bit of perspective is a very good thing, don’t you? I am very grateful for so much.

 

 

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Time To Get Out: A Disaster Junkie Tells Her Disaster Story

Originally planned to give you more factoids about solar flares and their effects on our planet.

A disaster event this week, though, switched my focus. Fort McMurray, a city in Alberta Canada of approximately 80,000 people, had to evacuate when a forest fire that started on Sunday, May 1 turned into a raging firestorm and came into the city on Tuesday, May 3. People barely had time to evacuate. At the date of this blog even more evacuations have been ordered. It’s an ongoing situation.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it brought back memories of making my own escape one day in June 2011 from the Antelope Fire which start on Fort Huachuca, Arizona. My situation was never as dire as what many people of Fort McMurray faced this week, but I can tell you the immediate fear and surprise effected me for months to come. The amount of homes burned already by the McMurray fire has far surpassed what the people here in Arizona suffered during the Monument Fire of June 2011. I won’t ramble…here’s the short and dirty sequence of what happened.

It all begin on June 11, 2011 when the Monument Fire started south west of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Monday the hubby and I were on the way back from a vacation near Phoenix. By the time we headed south toward Sierra Vista we could already see a plume of smoke. We got our dog from the kennel (which later on would escape destruction from the fire) and headed home. The next week would be it’s own special kind of hell.

Over a thousand wild land firefighters and local departments fought the fire in high winds and blistering temperatures. At one point the Monument Fire was the number one fire emergency in the United States because of its proximity to our city. On three separate days the conflagration jumped a major highway. Thousands of people evacuated to other parts of the city, to surrounding towns and even as far away as Tucson. We smelled smoke all day and every day. There was no way to ignore it. From my back yard I could usually see a plume of smoke. When it boiled like a volcano (called a blowup or blowout), it was a constant reminder the fire beast was there. Photo below is from June 14 looking south west. My house is on the left.

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During this fire many houses were destroyed in or close to the mountains. At one point houses across the highway from us were on pre-evac orders. I figured we’d be next.

One day a bulldozer clearing land for a firebreak on Fort Huachuca hit rocks and started a spark. Bam, the Antelope Fire began. My housing development is across a highway that is a boundary line from the fort. I was sitting on my computer looking at Facebook when a page devoted to the Monument Fire suddenly erupted with messages screaming that there was a fire on the fort. I ran outside. Two huge plumes of smoke rose high to the west of me. I could hear dozens of sirens, and as I stood there slurry planes and helicopters already working the Monument Fire were diverted to the fort.

All bets were off. I hesitated some, wondering if I was overreacting. I grabbed my to go bag, my dog, and off I went. Cop cars and border patrol agents (I would learn later), rushed into our development screaming for people to leave. They also did so with other housing nearby. Getting out of my housing area took some time, so I can relate in part to what people in Fort McMurray had to endure as they sat on a highway wanting desperately to get away. Eventually I reached a Walmart in the north part of the city. I watched a huge wall of fire and smoke boiling to the east and south as both fires seemed to combine. It was an optical illusion, thank goodness. The fires were far apart. Fortunately the helicopters, slurry planes and other firefighters took down the Antelope Fire in fairly short order.

When I returned home about two hours later I smelled like smoke.

On Father’s Day the fire beast came closer to the city and all hell broke loose again. It crossed a highway and roared straight towards several other homes. Listening to the chatter on Ustream between fire agencies and law enforcement was a hair-raising experience lasting several hours. Fortunately that was the last day the fire beast had such control. You can still see a gallery of photos from the Monument fire at Firefighter Nation by clicking here.

The Monument Fire continued until June 26. Of course the recovery for those who lost their homes took much longer and for some it continues today. In the last few years fire seems to have been after places I’ve lived. The Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed homes in Colorado Springs. The house where I grew up escaped destruction when the Black Forest Fire raged only a year later. Some of us are a bit twitchy now. When heat rises and winds howl, we check the skies for smoke.

Here’s some of the latest on the McMurray fire from CNN. Click here.

May the Fort McMurray fire soon be extinguished, and I wish only the best for all those affected by this disaster. If you want to learn more on how to help the people of Fort McMurray, click here for the Red Cross in Canada.

Military Romance: Elaine Levine’s War Bringer

Hey everyone! I’m taking a break from disaster junkie posts today to feature military romance author Elaine Levine. Elaine has written a series called Red Team, that if you enjoy military romance (and I certainly do), that you have to check out. She’s also doing a contest today so be sure to stop by and comment! Welcome Elaine!

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Brotherhood…warrior bonds…honor…a purpose in life that’s greater than oneself. And love—the forever kind. That’s what my series, The Red Team, is made of, and it fills the pages of my latest release, WAR BRINGER.

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The series’ heroes are all former members of the Red Team, a black ops unit in the U.S. Army, now working as consultants to the Department of Homeland Security via a private security firm founded by one of their own. The stories continue one after the other, following the adventures of the team as it tracks a group of homegrown terrorists, slowly learning that their mission is so much more than they first thought.

When I started the series, I wanted to build a world where readers could lose themselves in the lives of men who are alpha warriors—discovering their loves, healing their pasts, fighting with honor. The series has evolved into a richer experience than simply reading a book—its become an interactive game of sorts. Readers are so engaged with the over-arcing mystery of the series, that they meet up in the spoiler room of our reader group and propose theories, speculate on character backgrounds, and play what-if scenarios…always striving to figure out the secret of the team’s real enemy. Their level of engagement has made this series a blast to write…and a challenge, because it isn’t easy staying ahead of them!

I would love for you to check out my Red Team series and come play with us. The first installment, The Edge of Courage, is free on iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, and my website. WAR BRINGER is the sixth full-length installment of a nine-book series. Each book completes the story of one couple and often ends with a cliffhanger for the over-arcing mystery.

Here’s the cover blurb for WAR BRINGER:

The Covert Operative…

Kelan Shiozski wasn’t looking for a girlfriend or a wife or any other sort of female in his life, but he found her hiding in his enemy’s home…and he knew instantly she was his soul mate.

Patience has long been part of his warrior ethos—until it meant waiting for his woman to come of age. Now that time is here, and he’s about to spend three days alone with her, away from his team, away from their mission tracking a homegrown terrorist group operating out of the Rocky Mountains. He has three days to show her, with his heart and his body, what it means to be his other half.

But when she’s kidnapped before their celebratory weekend, Kelan must track her into the dark depths of a hidden crime world, which few ever experience or exit alive.

…And the Innocent

At just twenty-one, Fiona Addison has lived a sheltered life that began unraveling a year earlier when her mom and her friend died in two separate car accidents the same week. The layers are peeling away, revealing who she really is, culminating in a truth she cannot accept.

And now, everything she learns about herself imperils the future she hoped to have with Kelan, a man whose fierce warrior nature will not let her go despite the cost to himself.

They’ll either live together or die together…a fate they cannot let be decided by a madman.

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Denise—thank you so much for letting me pop-in to tell your readers about the Red Team. I’d love to give away an ebook (epub or mobi) of choice from my Red Team series to two visitors. Please visit me at Elaine Levine or on Facebook at http://geni.us/2w5d.

 

 

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What’s On A Disaster Junkie’s Bookshelf?

Hey all,

The other day I did a video blog on the disaster books that are on my bookshelf. Well, part of the disaster books I have. Check out my video and get the scoop on some of the intriguing books on disasters that are on my shelf!

I would’ve imbedded the video here but for some reason it wouldn’t work! Have no idea why. Click here to get to the video and thanks so much!

 

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Strange Earthquake Lights: A Disaster Junkie Looks At The Facts

Mother Earth is a huge mystery, and earthquakes are one of her monstrous, most terrifying personality traits. As a writer I’ve gained a tremendous respect for what she can do.

I’ve never been in an earthquake. Not even a mild one. In fact, when a 5.2 magnitude earthquake happened in New Mexico in June 2014, many people in my part of Arizona felt the shake. In our house we didn’t feel a thing. I’ll admit there was a twisted part of me that wishes I had felt it.

When I decided to write Love From The Ashes way back in the day, I wanted to make sure I could still convey what it felt like to be there that day in April 1906. If I’d been there I might have seen some bizarre lights.

This phenomena has been reported in many earthquakes, sometimes before, during and after the event. Sometimes the lights form shapes like auroras with a white to bluish hue but they’ve also been reported in other colors. They can last seconds or minutes.

Way back in the day these types of reports were often looked at as fiction. People just didn’t have the proof to show others. During the 2007 Peru earthquake these lights were seen above the sea and actually filmed. During the 2009 L’Aquila, Italy quake people saw four inch flames of light flickering above a stone street just before an earthquake.

Do people see these lights during every quake? No. The lights seem to happen most often when a quake is at least 5 on the Richter scale or higher. In the 1906 San Francisco quake a man was running along a shoreline when the earthquake hit and realized a luminous glow encircled his footsteps in the sand. Other people also reported seeing a faint rainbow of light.

Research is ongoing and quite a few theories are running around out there. Quartz rocks may give off what is called piezoelectricity when they are rubbed together. Another theory is that a magnetic field is created by tectonic stress. (Hey it gets a lot more complicated…I’m just giving you the quick and dirty.)

If you’re interested in reading more about these weird lights, there is plenty of information on the Internet you can read from legitimate sources. Earth Science is an amazing field with only a part of it devoted to earthquakes. There is so much to learn!

Stop by the Love From The Ashes book page for a blurb, excerpt and links to purchase. This book is only 99 cents right now. Grab it while you can. And thank you!

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