This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and the crash of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Carina Alyce, an author and physician, wanted to do something to honor the memories of those lot that day.
Twenty years ago, those heroes went up those stairs and never came back. We can never replace what was lost, so we can at least do our part to preserve their memories. ~Carine Alyce, author and physician
After posting an open invitation for contributions to a box set of first responder romances, fellow authors EmKay Connor, Karigan Hale, LoLo Paige, LC Taylor, and Samantha Thomas joined the project, Heroes with Heat and Heart: A 9/11 Charity Anthology. Each wrote a separate story featuring front-line heroes such as ER physicians, firefighters, police and sheriff officers, wildland firefighters, and S.W.A.T. team members.
Each of the authors had a very personal reason for wanting to be a part of the anthology.
Carina Alyce joined the anthology because she worked for years in the ER side-by-side with many firefighters and EMTs.
EmKay Connor, a former Navy wife who lived on a military base in Washington, DC, during the 9/ll attacks and aftermath, believes in honoring those who serve and sacrifice for the USA.
Karigan Hale chose to participate to honor the amazing first responders that not only were heroes during the attacks on September 11th but also during the recent pandemic.
LoLo Paige joined the anthology because she supports all firefighters who put their lives on the line daily.
LC Taylor, a former police officer who is married to one, was inspired to participate because she has worked alongside police officers and firemen for several years
Samantha Thomas calls participating in the anthology a “privilege” that allowed her to honor the New York community, as well as family and friends that work as first responders, in all capacities, every day
To date, more than $1,400 has been raised to support the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City (https://www.911memorial.org/). All royalties—100%—generated during the months of September, October, and November will be donated. Supporters can subscribe to the charity anthology newsletter to track donations and support the heroes of 9/11.
I have new books coming soon. One, in particular, I’m pretty excited about. Defending Evangeline exists inside my sister Elle James’s Brotherhood Protectors world. It’s one of five books in the Team Trojan stories inside the series. I have an excerpt to share. The minute Zeke and Evangeline meet sparks fly (Pssst. It’s a very sexy read!). I’m sharing a hint of it below! Enjoy! Poor Zeke’s in a bad way. 🙂
A sharp-edged, disgruntled former Green Beret who needs to find redemption finds himself attracted to a woman hiding dangerous secrets.
Zeke Turner still can’t get his head wrapped around the fact he’s been all but booted from the job he loved. Angry over the fact Trojan Team took the fall for their leadership’s failure, he’s relieved that he and his buddies appear to have landed on their feet, still together, having been hired by the Brotherhood Protectors, but he doesn’t trust this move will end well. Once burned, twice shy is his motto—and he was never very trusting in the first place.
His first protection job doesn’t leave him feeling any surer he made the right decision, but he’s keeping his dissatisfaction to himself, keeping his head down…until then he bumps into a dark-haired angel in Fool’s Gold, who manages to both attract and intrigue him. He knows something’s not right, that Evangeline Carré is scared and hiding secrets. With his protective instincts going into overdrive, he’s determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her while keeping her safe, even when she swears she doesn’t need or want his help.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, let me know if this story is one you look forward to reading! Let me know how you like the excerpt! Do you love ex-military men who put everything on the line to save the women they love?
An excerpt from Defending Evangeline…
By early evening, they’d heard from Cage and Sawyer. They’d finished up installing all the tech at the cabin and were heading back. Jake had outfitted Zeke with weaponry, and a satellite phone, as well as one of the tracking pendants. They’d use the cover of darkness to spirit Evangeline away from the lodge, with decoy vehicles to distract anyone who might try to tail them.
Right now, he was climbing the stairs two at a time to bring Evangeline down for dinner. The team was using a room reserved for parties for their meal rather than their usual staff-only table in the dining room to keep Evangeline out of the public eye. Clint was watching the entryway and stairs to ensure that he got her downstairs without being seen.
It was a lot of cloak and dagger shit, but after Evangeline had spent the afternoon confined in her room, Jake and RJ were sure she would appreciate some company and a taste of normalcy.
Zeke had showered and changed half an hour ago, and RJ had stopped by Evangeline’s room to let her know what the plans were for the evening meal. He paused and rubbed a hand over his hair, making sure nothing was sticking up, then knocked on her door.
Evangeline opened it a few moments later.
Every thought in his head flew at the sight of her, replaced by an instant surge of lust. Although dressed casually, her jeans were dark and tailored to hug the length of her surprisingly long and slender legs. Her feet were encased in short black leather boots with three-inch heels. On top, she wore a teal-colored sweater that looked as soft as a cloud and molded over the curves of her perfectly sized breasts. The collar of the sweater draped downward, and there was a deep narrow slit in front that showed just a hint of her cleavage. She’d left her dark hair down and wore only the lightest application of makeup. She didn’t need any of it. The woman was gorgeous. Way out of his league. And suddenly, he felt awkward, like an oafish Shrek, as he stood before her.
“You look nice,” he said, wincing inside because she looked much more than nice, but he would likely have garbled a stronger compliment.
She blushed as her gaze roamed his body from his chest to his toes and back up to his face. “You look nice, too.”
Her lips parted, and he had the urge to duck down and kiss her. Fuck, I’m in trouble. Instead, he held out his arm. “Ready to head down?”
She stepped out, closed the door behind her, then took his arm and walked beside him as they headed to the stairs.
“Were you bored as fu—bored,” he quickly corrected, “staying in your room all afternoon?”
“Yes, I was bored as fuck,” she said, her words sounding almost comical coming from her mouth. She glanced sideways, revealing a teasing smile.
He cleared his throat to keep from laughing. “I spend all my time with other guys. I don’t have to think so much about what comes out of my mouth.”
“I’m not a fragile princess or a prude. I won’t judge you, Zeke.”
He stayed silent as they descended the steps, determined not to trip over his own feet and bring her down with him. At the bottom of the stairs, Clint gave him a wink and signaled the “all clear” as he took her past the dining room to the smaller party room.
“I’ve put you all to a lot of bother,” she said softly.
They’d reached the door. Zeke turned toward her. “Stop. This is what we do.”
“For money,” she said, her eyes filling. “And you should be paid. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to reimburse you for everything—”
“Stop.” He pulled her against his chest. “We’ll get paid. Just not by you. The Brotherhood Protectors make bank for their paying jobs, but they also have benefactors who fund jobs where people can’t afford to pay for the protection they need. We don’t turn down someone who’s needful for lack of money.”
She leaned back her head. “I hate this. I put myself in this position. No one should feel sorry for me.”
“No one does. We feel concern—for your safety. And you do not deserve what’s happening to you.”
She dropped her gaze but didn’t step out of his embrace. He liked how she felt pressed against him, soft and warm. Her fragrance, a hint of a light exotic floral, filled his nose, and it was all he could do not to tighten his arms around her.
“I think they’ll probably wonder what’s keeping us,” she said, peeking up at him again.
He didn’t move his arms. “You ready?”
Her eyebrows drew closer. “Not yet,” she said, then rose on her tiptoes and kissed the side of his mouth. When she lowered again, she cleared her throat. “I am now.”
Shocked, Zeke slowly let his arms fall away. Evangeline turned and opened the door. He followed her and quickly schooled his expression into an impassive mask.
Why had she kissed him? Okay, so it had been on the corner of his mouth, not directly on his lips. Maybe it was how she kissed friends. Maybe it was some French-Canadian thing to kiss your bodyguards.
His mind was blown—and not just from her quick, over-in-a-second gesture—but from the memory of the slide of her body up his, her breasts rubbing his chest, her belly lightly grazing his cock as she’d risen.
Now, he was breathing through his nose to calm his heart and keep his unruly dick from showing how much he’d liked the feel of her rubbing up and down his body.
And maybe he hadn’t hidden his lust very well, because while they were calling out greetings and standing to offer her a chair, there were sly glances from his teammates as he followed her, a hand on the small of her back, which he hadn’t realized he’d placed there, until now.
That she allowed it and didn’t draw away only made things worse for his poor dick.
Relief filled him when she sat and he was able to quickly take a seat beside her. He was perspiring. Likely his cheeks were darkening. He reached for the glass of water at his place setting and downed half the glass before he swept his gaze around the room at his team and gave them a fierce glower.
Soft chuckles followed, but Zeke was saved from further ribbing by the swinging door opening and Gunny, followed by RJ and her friend JoJo, bringing in the food.
The smell of sizzling steaks filled the room, and Zeke’s stomach growled. Happy for the distraction, he glanced sideways at Evangeline, who was looking back at him.
Their gazes locked. A pale flush of pink crept across Evangeline’s cheeks, but her lips curved into a small smile.
His irritation with his friends died down as he smiled back. “Looks like it’s steak,” he said, cursing his stupid tongue. Duh.
“After all I ate for lunch, I’m surprised I’m suddenly ravenous.”
Jesus. The way she said that last word had him thinking about all the things he was truly ravenous to consume—her sweet curves, her cries.
Maybe his expression gave him away, because her blush intensified…
On June 22nd, CHASE releases! It’s book #4 in the Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT series—an offshoot of my Montana Bounty Hunters series. I’m still writing the story! Gah! I hate running it up to the wire, but I’ll get there. In the meantime, have you pre-ordered your copy? Read an excerpt below to get a hint of the fun I have in store for you!
Chase Kudrow flipped down his visor to shut out the bright morning sun beaming through his windshield. He was parked on Main Street in Dead Horse, congratulating himself on his good sense in accepting the job with Montana Bounty Hunters’ Dead Horse office because he was here, hunting a skip, and not living out of his truck in bumfuck Colorado…or Wyoming…or Idaho. Sure, Cage Morgan, his new boss, had said they’d be looking for the richest bounties in a multi-state area when he’d offered him the job, but as luck would have it, today’s hunt was right in their own backyard.
Chase would never admit it to any of his new bounty hunter brothers, but he’d been ready to settle down and stop living out of a suitcase. He needed to put down roots and prove he could provide a stable home—to himself and to the caseworker handling his niece’s situation. No way in hell was he letting his blood relative, his little sister’s orphaned daughter, be raised by strangers.
The job offer had come at just the right moment. Although he’d feigned resistance to joining the hunters as part of their newly formed satellite agency, inside, he’d been jubilant. He’d hemmed and hawed for days, and he’d done his homework, reaching out to hunter friends in the Kalispell office to make sure this gig was legit, and that he could trust the people he’d be working with. The more he’d learned, the more certain he was that his accepting the job was meant to be.
Yes, there was a lot left to iron out. He had yet to find a house. Work had been pretty busy, but he’d be asking Cage for some time off to find a home and fill it with furniture and the things an eight-year-old might need or want, and for him to meet with local school officials to talk about what he’d need to get Mikayla enrolled. Then the hard work would begin to get Miss Tight-ass Bradshaw at Child and Family Services in Billings to sign off.
The last time she’d seen him, she’d shaken her head. “How do you think you can care for a little girl? You live like a gypsy, Mr. Kudrow. All your past mailing addresses have been forwarding services because you’re never in one place longer than a month. How are you going to be a father to Mikayla?”
He’d shifted in his chair, knowing his petition looked bad, but this was Audra’s girl. He hadn’t been there for her mother, hadn’t even had any idea how much trouble she’d been in. His mama, had she been alive, would have been so disappointed in him for his neglect while he’d been out living his life.
No more. He’d lived like a nomad since his days in the military. He’d liked seeing the world, but when he’d gotten fed up with the rigor and the rules he’d had to abide by in the Army, he’d left and found the one job ideally suited to his wandering ways. Even now, working from a home base in Dead Horse, bounty hunting allowed him to roam just far enough to keep from feeling that itch to pull up stakes and move, and it gave him the occasional adrenaline rush he craved. The targets were varied, and hunting them down never got boring. Except when he was on stakeouts, like this one.
Today’s target was Billy Calloway, one of the Calloway brothers who ran a junkyard east of town, who’d been busted with a shit-ton of stolen catalytic converters. He’d refused to give the DA the names of his suppliers so he was facing multiple charges for receiving stolen goods. Since he was a three-time offender, the judge had set his bail at $100,000—high for the crime, but Judge Hodges was setting an example for the other Calloways.
Then the dumbass skipped his court date…
Chase picked up the manila folder Fredericka “Fig” Newton, their office manager and tech guru, had prepared for all the hunters combing their hometown for this skip. Billy was a scrawny fucker, with greasy brown hair, a scruffy beard, and one eye that permanently looked down his nose. He’d be easy to spot.
The passenger door beside him opened, and Dylan “Preacher” Priestley, his new partner, climbed into the seat beside him holding a small pink box in his hand.
“Took your damn time,” Chase groused, not really concerned, but he and Preacher enjoyed that kind of relationship, always griping at each other but quick to jump into action when the situation called for it. Three weeks in, and Chase wondered how he’d ever gone it alone as a bounty hunter. Having a partner made things like boring-ass stakeouts kind of fun.
“They’re straight out of the oven,” Preacher said, opening the box to reveal two big donuts. Preacher’s hand hovered over them.
“Don’t even think about takin’ the one with the sprinkles,” Chase said, giving him a glare.
Preacher shrugged. “Sprinkles taste like chalky sugar anyway.” He plucked the pink glazed donut from the box and left the cream-colored one with sprinkles for Chase.
Chase plucked his from the box, took a bite, and groaned. “Don’t know how you aren’t fat.”
Preacher waggled his eyebrows. “She makes me work for them.”
“TMI, man,” Chase said, holding up a hand.
Preacher grinned. “Sorry it took so long. I had to taste wedding cakes when I was in there.”
Chase wrinkled his nose. “Way to kill my appetite, man. Weddings!” He gave a mock shudder.
Preacher chuckled. “Laura and Rhonda have this huge notebook. It takes up an entire table when they open it. It has polaroids of cakes and things to decorate the tables with, flower arrangements—”
Chase narrowed his eyes and looked out the windshield. “Rhonda’s in there?”
“Yeah, why?” Preacher shot him a sly sideways glance.
“Just wonderin’. Haven’t seen much of her lately. Her sister’s behind the counter at the Dem Bones Package Store every time I stop to buy beer.”
Preacher arched an eyebrow. “You crushing on Rhonda?”
Chase gave him a deadpan look. “I don’t crush on women. Just sayin’. She seems pretty busy with all that wedding shit.”
“She’s been a huge help to Laura. Says she loved planning her wedding more than she loved her ex-husband. Said it should have told her something.”
“Didn’t know she’s been married…”
“Yeah, for five years, until her husband up and left town with a massage therapist.”
“Must have been rubbing more than his back.”
Preacher shrugged. “Laura doesn’t talk much about him. Guess he left her the store and a pile of debt. She’s been digging herself out of that mess for years.”
Chase finished off his donut and followed it with a gargle of coffee straight from his thermos. When he screwed the lid back on, he glanced down the street. His attention was snagged by two men stepping out of Dead Center Guns & Pawn, both holding handguns and wearing camouflage masks pulled over their chins and noses. They were running toward a beat-up pickup parked alongside the curb.
“Think we got trouble,” he said to Preacher, tapping his ignition button and glancing up and down the street before punching the gas pedal and pulling out of his parking space.
“Damn.” Preacher hit the button on his radio. “Hey, Fig!”
“Yeah, Preacher. What’s up?”
“I think we’ve got a robbery in progress on Main Street. Saw two armed individuals coming out of the pawn shop. Call 9-1-1.”
The tailpipe of the beat-up pickup belched smoke, and then the truck jumped the curb and careened down the street.
I should know. I wrote it. And yes, this is my unabashed reminder that you NEED to read this story. It’s a celebration of our military heroes—both on the battlefield and here at home. So, if you’re looking for something to read this weekend, or to re-read, here’s my suggestion. Just click on the picture below and go get your copy. You’ll laugh, get hot, and cry. And forever after, if you think of just two words, you’ll remember the journey and the final scene… Hey, Zig…
Today Book #6, PROTECTING SUSAN, in The Protectors, my series in Susan Stoker’s Special Forces World, is live! The book is dedicated to Susan who is such a genuine person and so supportive of authors as well as being an incredibly talented author herself. I hope you will join the fun and grab a copy.
What’s it about?
For Susan Stryker, the chance to start a new life with a new name, halfway across the country from her abusive ex, was like a miracle. Determined to give back, she opens a self defense school for women, reaching out especially to those in shelters. Although her ex destroyed any desire to connect with someone else, she can’t help what she feels for former SEAL Levi Hawke, a man with his own troubles. A man she met halfway through her journey on a rainy night who hooked her up with someone who could make that new life happen.
Two years later she’s about to spend two weeks on a farm where she will teach self defense and gun use to abused women who want to protect themselves. Tex Keegan, who helped her create her new life, insists she take a bodyguard with her, despite her objections. But when that bodyguard turns out to be Levi Hawke, all those buried emotions come raging to the surface. And then, just as the classes are going smoothly and the chemistry between Susan and Levi is taking them places they never thought they’d go, all hell breaks loose, from both the past and present.
For Levi this is a must-succeed mission, to save the woman he admits he loves. For Susan, it’s a chance to finally bury the past. But are two people, no matter who they are, enough to do it? Together?
To celebrate, for a limited time only – May 8-12, Book #1 in the series, PROTECTING MADDIE is FREE! If you have not read any of the books yet, this is a great introduction and hopefully will lead you to the rest of the books.
When Maddie Winslow talked a student out of his gun in her classroom, she never figured it would set off a chain of events that put her life in grave danger, and the lives of her parents.
Hiding in WitSec for thirty years, her parents thought they had beaten the odds—until the image of Maddie, an identical replica of her mother—hits the television airwaves and the people who have been seeking revenge all these years find her. Intent on learning where her mother is hiding, they break into her home and then try to kidnap her. Frightened, she goes to her friend, Zee, who once dated someone in Delta Force. She calls him to explain her friend’s situation, but he’s prepping for a mission and can’t leave the base.
Hunter “Hawkeye” St. John, a Delta Force team member, is on medical leave recuperating in Tampa and chafing for some action. When he and Maddie meet, the sparks flying between them sizzle the air. But if Hawkeye wants to move forward with Maddie he first has to keep her safe and then eliminate the bad guys.
We have another new SEALS in Paradise story! This year’s theme is centered around holidays. The latest release is by my friend, Becca Jameson! All buy links are below!
Ten years ago, he left her with no explanation. Now he’s back, and the sparks burn just as hot as they did in high school.
April might have been young, but she knew what love was. She and Cole were inseparable, voted most likely to marry. And then he vanished on the night she expected him to propose.
Joining the Navy had always been Cole’s plan. He’d intended to carry on a long-distance romance with his high school sweetheart. Nothing could ever come between them…until it did.
In this second chance, small-town romance the past collides with the present as Cole fights to save his family’s business and earn back the trust of the only woman he’s ever loved. Losing her a second time—for good—is out of the question.
Hot SEAL, April’s Fool is part of the SEALs in Paradise series. Each book stands alone, and they can be read in any order.
UPDATE: The winners are…Jennifer Beyer, Ann Ivey, and Arlene Miklovic!
The Montana Bounty Hunters series located in Bear Lodge is complete. I am three books into the spinoff series, Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT. I loved writing the original series, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in writing many more of these heavy-duty, gritty guys in the near future. Have you seen the cover for Chase, which will release in June? Yeah. Some of the guys you love from the original series will continue to pop up here and there in Dead Horse—after all, they all work for Fetch Winter. Someday, he’ll get his happy-ever-after, too!
MONTANA BOUNTY HUNTERS: Authentic Men… Real Adventures…
Former Army sniper, Cochise Mercier, left Denver SWAT under a cloud of controversy, which was why he ended up back home in Montana, and where he heard about the Montana Bounty Hunters. The “cloud” didn’t seem to bother his new boss, so he’s “all in” and finding he enjoys hunting down fugitives for bounties, encumbered by fewer rules.
Sammy McCallister is a by-the-book sheriff’s deputy, who has a beef with bounty hunters. Forced to stand by with her gun in her holster, while hunters take down scumbags, she’s particularly irked by the new guy in town. Cochise, with his long black hair and thousand-yard-stare makes her uncomfortable, itchy in ways she’s never felt before. When she finds herself needing his help late one night, the reason for her irritation becomes all too clear. She wants him. But first, they have to make it out of the mountains alive…
Are you all caught up reading the Montana Bounty Hunters?
For a chance to win a download of one of the stories you may have missed
(I’ll pick three winners!), tell me this: Are you ready for more sexy bounty hunters?
Here are all the Bear Lodge Montana Bounty Hunters!
Cochise Mercier, the new hire at Montana Bounty Hunters, took a deep breath to force his heart to slow its pace. A trick he’d learned as an Army sniper to make sure a jerking breath didn’t mess up a shot. The trick worked in most situations when he needed his mind to slow and for his focus to home in on a target or a situation. Clearing his mind meant he was able to take in more of what was happening around him and enabled him to discard the things that weren’t important—like the way the wind beat a tree branch against the side of the house, a steady thump that sounded almost like clomping footsteps. Instead, he concentrated on the way the light, beaming through the tall arched windows at the front of the house, flickered whenever his target paced left or right, telling him where their mark was. An important fact, because in minutes, he’d have to breach the oak front door and be ready to take him down—with his weapon or his body, depending on whether Randy Pinter was armed. A fact Cochise would have to ascertain in a split second.
“Can’t see any movement in the back rooms,” came Jamie Burke’s voice through his earpiece. “I think he’s alone.”
He still wasn’t used to hearing a woman’s voice on the comms. He’d never had a female as part of any of his missions on the ground with the Army, and Denver’s SWAT had, at the time, been all male. That voice interrupted his calm. His instinct was to protect women and children, but she was a part of this team—and his boss—so again, he drew a deep breath, pushed aside his concern, and concentrated on his target. Pinter was pacing in front of the window to the right of the front door.
“Girlfriend’s car isn’t in the garage,” came Sky Reynold’s deep voice. “Must have gone for takeout. I’m moving around to the front.”
“Deputies just arrived,” Lacey Jones’s too perky voice sounded. “I’ll go brief them about what’s about to go down. Make sure they know we have the owner’s permission to be here.”
Cochise could hear the excitement in her higher pitch. Thank God, she was back at the road with the vehicles. The thought of her cotton-candy sweetness being anywhere near Pinter made him shudder. The girl might have qualified with her weapon and might be doing well with her self-defense classes, but she had no real experience going head-on with bad dudes. He didn’t want to be around the first time she was truly tested.
“You call it, Cochise,” Jamie said.
With his heart as slow as when he slept, he felt the familiar ice-water chill flow over him. “Ready,” he whispered and then stepped away from the bushes beside the porch. “Moving toward the door… On three. One…two…three.” Read the rest of this entry »