UPDATE: The winner is…Sheryl Stark!
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In honor of the prerelease of ADVANCE TO THE REAR, Book #4, Strike Force, in my reader group I am running a contest for four more weeks. Each week we award one book but at the end of the campaign, on release day, February 12, some lucky person will win a Desiree Holt tote filled with signed books from some of your favorite authors, including the fabulous Delilah Devlin.
The concept of Strike Force originated from many conversations I was fortunate to have with a former member of Delta Force. He shared what he could of his experiences and patiently answered my tiring questions, so I could get it just right. In addition, I am so lucky to have become friends with a former member of one of the elite forces who is now in law enforcement. He has been invaluable in making sure my information is correct and that I don’t throw outrageous stuff into my books. In fact, he’s a fanatic about it, one of the reasons I dedicated the book to him.
The concept of ADVANCE TO THE REAR is, as they say, ripped from the headlines and is a very real probability.
Here is an exclusive excerpt.
The explosion two streets over erupted in the night air. At the same moment, Slade detonated a small amount of Semtex on the back door and blew it open, the sound barely seconds behind it. Then they were in the rear room of the house, a room as barren as the one at Ibrahim’s. The two hostages, a man and a woman, huddled together in a corner, looking both terrified and bewildered. Both looked disheveled and each of them sported bruises on their arms and their faces.
Bile rose in Marc’s throat, as it always did when he saw how human beings had been unnecessarily been abused. Once out of here and back at the FOB, they’d get proper attention. Right now, though, the only focus was getting the fuck out of here.
This was always the hairiest part. They had scant seconds to pull this off. Slade held up a finger to his lips to signal silence, then mouthed “U. S. Army.” He and Marc pulled the hostages out through the back door, silent as ghosts. Beau and Trey had their guns out and ready to hit anyone who came through the door from the front of the house. In seconds they were all out in the alley behind the house where Ibrahim, good as his word, now waited in his cousin’s van. Seconds later they were all inside. Down the narrow street and around the corner. They stopped only long enough for Ibrahim to get out and melt away. If he was caught driving them he and his family would be annihilated.
Then Slade took over and they headed hell-bent for leather out of town.
The hostages sat silent and petrified in the middle seat, sandwiched between Trey and Marc. They clung to each other as if that contact was their only salvation.
“I know you can’t figure out what’s happening,” Trey said, his voice soothing. “All you have to know is you are with American soldiers and in less than thirty minutes we’ll all be out of here.”
Still neither of them spoke. Marc could imagine the treatment they’d suffered, the way their captors had terrorized them. But at least they weren’t screaming and trying to run away from the team, or doing anything else to hinder their departure. Beyond a cursory examination to make sure the two were mobile and didn’t need to be carried, the team had not questioned them.
“Still all clear back here,” Beau said from the third seat. He was on his knees, his rifle pointing out the window of the rear hatch door.
Marc knew he had one order to execute. If anyone came up behind them, shoot and keep shooting. Marc kept checking his watch, counting down to when the Night Stalker would be there. So far so good. They were out in the desert now, the driving slow going through the sand.
They were almost at the extraction point when Beau hollered back to them.
“Enemy vehicle on the horizon. Right on our tail.”
The MH-60 M Black Hawk zoomed in and hovered just past the van, skillfully handled by its Night Stalker pilot. Marc helped hustle the aid workers out of the van and into the chopper, handing them up to the two men crouched in the open doorway. Sand kicked up everywhere from the rotors, getting into even their eyes and teeth.
Beau was the last one in, crouched in the open doorway, positioned with his gun. Just as they lifted off, the four-wheel drive vehicle made it to the outskirts of Agadez and came plowing through the sand. The man riding in the rear began firing the vehicle-mounted machine gun while two other climbed out and started firing assault weapons at the chopper.
The pilot banked to the left, away from the line of fire, even as Beau fired steadily at the men below. And then they were out of range, rising higher until the desert was far below them.
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