In Honor of My Dad

“Some men think there’s a choice between right and wrong.  Great men know there is none.”

My father inspired this phrase, the theme from my patriotic romance, The Trucker’s Cat.  Dad passed away last week so he and that quote have been in the forefront of my mind.  I’d like to share the story again on the idea behind my novel that’s dedicated to Dad and the rest of my family who have served in the military.

Years ago as part of the Honor Our Veterans program at school, my daughter asked her grandfather to speak to her fourth grade class about his experiences during the Korean War.  He agreed.  With his folder of transparency pictures for his presentation, he and I arrived at Steeby Elementary.  My dad rarely spoke about that time in his life, so I was eager to hear what he had to say.

In the First Marine Division of George Company, he had served as a hospital corpsman and medic in a M.A.S.H. unit.  He had assisted the doctors and nurses in prepping wounded soldiers for surgery.  As he talked about his duties, he showed various pictures of him and his buddies in front of their Army tents.  I visualized Klinger, Rizzo, and Radar.

A boy asked if he had killed anyone.  He hadn’t.  The closest he had gotten to battle was when he had volunteered to go to the front lines to bring back injured soldiers.

“Weren’t you scared?” one of the girls asked.

“No,” he replied, “even though I volunteered, I felt I didn’t have a choice.  Those injured men needed my help.”  He shared a picture of him receiving a commendation medal.

I never saw that picture.  I never knew about the medal.  I never even heard the story.  My siblings and our mother hadn’t either.  When I asked him why he never shared it, he shrugged and said someone stole the medal the next day.

We made some calls to get him a replacement.  A year later, a package arrived with his commendation medal and four others he had been awarded.

That phrase stayed in my head.  He did have a choice; he chose not to have one.  It’s a quality my protagonists have in many of my stories—to put someone else’s life ahead of their own.

IN HONOR OF MY FATHER, I will be donating now through Memorial Day ALL the print and eBook royalties from THE TRUCKER’S CAT to the Otsego VFW Post #3030 where he was a member.  Here’s your chance to read a patriotic romance and say “Thank You” to a Korean War veteran.

The Trucker’s Cat on Amazon

 

The Trucker’s Cat on Goodreads

About The Trucker’s Cat

At the Russian Embassy where she lives with her mother and stepfather, Samantha Randall uncovers a plot to assassinate the U.S. President. Her father’s famous speech urges her to act, so she treks cross-country to warn the driver that his cargo has the proof. She soon finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Driving a truck on a covert assignment, Major Logan McCormick had sworn off women after his bitter divorce. Against protocol, he rescues Samantha and gives the wildcat a ride. Although drawn to Samantha’s uplifting spirit, he uses his sullen nature as a shield against her. Will she see through his rigid manner?

With Russian special forces searching for Logan’s cargo and another team chasing Samantha, they quickly realize they must work together to prevent the unthinkable. Will their sacrifices be enough to stop the assault?

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Meet Joe Roberts

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the people in The Chemical Attraction Series. Joe Roberts, Eva O’Sullivan, and Taylor Valentine are siblings by choice. They’ve told me their story, and I wrote about their amazing journey. These interviews take place just after their adventure in Chemical Reaction. [trivial spoilers/no plot spoilers]

His charisma hiding his loneliness, Joe Roberts is searching for an instant chemistry with his soulmate, the one person who will love him for his faults not in spite of them.

In Their Rigid Rules, Joe meets his future boss and then in The Kindred Code, he sets his career with the FBI in motion. In Chemical Attraction, he and Madeline fall in love during that dangerous case. In Chemical Reaction, they struggle to make it work while apart. Today, Joe answers a few questions for the fans of the series.

 

CHRISTINA: How’d you know Madeline was your one?

JOE: When I read her case file, her brilliance intrigued me. Then, I saw her jogging down the street next to her Aunt Sylvia’s B & B and knew. Our kiss on the dance floor confirmed it for me, but getting her on board took a while.

CHRISTINA: Madeline’s a genius research scientist and you need to be right. Do you find her intimidating?

JOE: I grew up where I had to take charge. I was on my own and had to be right to survive. With Madeline, I love the challenge of raising myself up intellectually. Her intelligence is sexy.

CHRISTINA: Is there any correlation between Madeline and Taylor’s favorite scent of lilacs? Did that scent attract you to Madeline?

JOE: Wait. What? I, um, uh, I never thought about that. I’m not comfortable discussing it. Next question, please.

CHRISTINA: Okay, we’ll move on. How’s your relationship with Stuart now?

JOE: We’re good. He and Matt treat me like a little brother although they don’t pick on me as much as Eva does. I let her to make her feel superior. Don’t tell her I said that.

CHRISTINA: You and Sylvia have a flirty relationship. How’d that start?

JOE: Years ago, in The Kindred Code, I met Sylvia and Herbert Folkert when Director Bingaman and I stayed at their B & B. She asked me if I was single.  Apparently, she planned to set me up with Madeline way back then. I flirted back amused by her playful banter. The next day, Herbert gave me an inspiring piece of advice that I still hold on to. I’ll share it with Madeline later.

CHRISTINA: When did you get rid of your tank of a car and buy the Ford Taurus?

JOE: My eighty-eight Lincoln Continental sat at the Director’s cabin for most of the winter and wouldn’t start, so he had to have it towed. Before I answer about my Taurus, what did the Director say about it? I, uh, didn’t actually buy it. It’s revealed in The Kindred Code though.

CHRISTINA: How would you characterize your relationship with your boss?

JOE: Director Bingaman took a chance on me in Their Rigid Rules. I’m grateful for that. At the office, we stay professional. At family gatherings, Peter is my mentor and fills the father role with Eva and Taylor, too.

CHRISTINA: Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life. Read more about Joe’s backstory in Their Rigid Rules and The Kindred Code. Then follow up with Joe and Madeline’s romance in Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction.

 

Meet Eva O’Sullivan

Taking-the-town

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the people in The Chemical Attraction Series. Eva O’Sullivan, Taylor Valentine, and Joe Roberts are siblings by choice. They’ve told me their story, and I wrote about their amazing journey. These interviews take place just after their adventure in Chemical Reaction. [trivial spoilers/no plot spoilers]

Eva O’Sullivan Connor, a petite Irish spitfire with auburn spiral curls, has big opinions, and you know them whether you want to or not. Masking her vulnerability, she wears her willfulness like armor. Eva grew up in a single parent household and met Joe and Taylor in grade school. They quickly became inseparable. Eva has a fierce love for her family and believes families are bound by love not blood. Today, she answers a few questions for the fans of the Series.

CHRISTINA: Taylor and Joe have said, “If Eva has an opinion on a subject, you knows it whether you want to or not.” Does that description bother you?

EVA: No, it’s true and it’s not a bad thing. I like that way I am. Joe and Taylor tease me about my bossiness, but it’s never mean. We have our strengths and weaknesses. Family balances them. How boring would it be if we were all the same?

CHRISTINA: You made quite an impression with David and Matt at your first meeting in Their Rigid Rules. How’d you feel about them?

EVA: What’s not to love? David was adorable. He’s smart with a good heart just like his father. And, well, my first thought about Matt was “Wow, now this is a man.” He wasn’t a guy or a college boy. This handsome rugged man has embraced the responsibilities to his son and his profession. Seriously, Matt was shot in the line of duty saving an officer’s life. How much more manly can you get? They included me in their family. I can’t imagine a better feeling for your soul than that.

CHRISTINA: Throughout the series, you’ve fixed the meals when the family gathers. Have you always been a great cook?

EVA: I learned to cook from Matt’s mom. I have a thick homemade cookbook with all her delicious recipes. We didn’t get off to a great start. In fact, Gail hated me.

CHRISTINA: What happened that made her dislike you so much?

EVA: Oh boy, well, I visited Matt at his house for our first weekend together without David, who stayed at a friend’s house. Naked in his bed, I waited for Matt to come home from work. Well, Gail walked in first. She called me a harlot. The weekend deteriorated from there. Everything I did caused a stir in the town. It’s a big part of The Kindred Code.

CHRISTINA: You love messing with your brother, Joe. You’ve called him out for his player ways and embarrassed him in front of the other agents in Chemical Attraction, and then you pranked him during your phone call with Madeline in Chemical Reaction. Has he ever gotten you back for those shenanigans?

EVA: Not yet. He tries, but I’m always a step ahead of him. Taylor and I tease him so his anger doesn’t take over. Madeline’s the perfect balance for him. For a long time, Joe didn’t think he was worthy of someone special. I hope Madeline will continue to appreciate how great he is. Oh, uh, don’t tell him I said that. He doesn’t need a bigger head.

CHRISTINA: Thanks for sharing your insights. I love how dedicated you are to your family. Read more about the chemistry of Eva and Matt’s first meeting in Their Rigid Rules. Then follow up with their touching romance in The Kindred Code.

 

Finding Intimacy in a Crowd

I first met my husband twenty-nine years ago at a bar when he asked me to dance.  The defining memory of us is still vivid in my mind.  I thought Joe and Madeline should have their own intimate moment while dancing.  Enjoy this excerpt from Chemical Attraction.

***

“. . . Keeping Madeline in his arms, Joe guided her into an East Coast Swing. He found it refreshing that she knew the steps. Not many of the women he’s dated did. He had to work extra hard to maneuver them around the dance floor. It got to the point where he just didn’t bother dancing. Now, he realized how much he missed it or maybe he finally found the right partner.

Madeline’s eyes sparkled as he spun her around. He winced at how much he liked making her smile. What the hell! Focus, damn it! Don’t get carried away!

***

“. . . In a formal dance position, Madeline shivered slightly at Joe’s warm hand on her waist. His other holding hers set a wave of heat to her face. She craved more of his touch. She gently squeezed his bicep and shoulder. Even through his suit jacket, she felt his taut muscles.

She inhaled his cologne mixed with his sweat from drumming earlier. He oozed a chemical attraction. As a neuroscientist, she had read about the effects of pheromones. Fascinated, she wanted to lean in closer to taste his neck. She blinked and stiffened slightly. Calm down! Joe was here officially as an agent of the FBI. And she would not become one of those women in his phone.

But, it had been a year since she danced in a man’s arms, her uncle’s arms. Most men couldn’t dance, not that she bothered to find out for sure. It didn’t surprise her that Joe knew how. She supposed it was another way of impressing women. And, damn, if it wasn’t working. . . .”

***

Pick up your copy of the stand-alone romantic thriller, Chemical Attraction (also the third book in The Chemical Attraction Series)

 

If you obey all the RULES, you miss all the fun.

“If you obey all the RULES, you miss all the fun.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

One of the reasons for the second edition release of The Chemical Attraction Series is to put it in chronological order. Captivating, fast-paced, suspenseful, and romantic, Their Rigid Rules is now the first book in the Series. Learn more about these characters from the beginning:

Taylor Valentine, a senior at Western Michigan University, has had her life planned out since kindergarten. After her parents died while she was still in high school, she had perfected it to make them proud. Now with the help of her best friends, Joe and Eva, she focuses on graduation and a career with romance in the far distant future. However, when the visiting professor enters the lecture hall to a four-weekend Civil War seminar, her perfect plan hits a snag.

As a handsome history professor and former Marine, Dr. Stuart Morgan has his own set of strict rules especially with infatuated students. He enjoys his boring yet pleasant life until he starts receiving death threats. With his unwanted bodyguard in tow, Stuart is unnerved by his reaction to Taylor.

Their rigid rules discourage all but a flirtation. With the threats from family and foe pulling them apart, Stuart must somehow convince Taylor to break her rules and embrace a new plan.

Grab your copy for ONLY $0.99

(the sale ends soon)

Their Rigid Rules (Book One)

Cover Reveals & Relaunch of The Chemical Attraction Series

The Chemical Attraction Series has had a major makeover – both inside and out. On July 19th, the entire series will be re-released. The books will be a little bit hotter, and will come full circle, giving you more of the characters you have grown to love.

The re-release will be aligned with the new release of The Kindred Code, now Book 2 of the series. Confused? Don’t be, the only books you need to read in order is Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction…the rest is up to you.

***

Now, for an inside look at The Kindred Code:

Taylor Valentine, Eva O’Sullivan, and Joe Roberts are siblings by choice. They believe in The Kindred Code: blood means nothing and love is everything. After all, they’ve been together every day since the third grade. As their lives take different paths after college, they wonder if their mantra will stay true.

When word gets out that Professor Stuart Morgan had dated Taylor while in his class, the publicity takes a toll on their relationship. While Taylor recovers from a gunshot wound, Stuart struggles with his PTSD. Instead of sharing their pain, they drift further apart.

With his son, David, at a sleepover, Officer Matt Connor invites Eva to his home. During their romantic weekend, volatile confrontations erupt between Matt’s mother and Eva and David’s biological mother and Eva. The rural town enjoys the uproar. Even on her best behavior, Eva worries about the chaos she brings to Matt and David’s lives.

Before Joe heads to the FBI Academy, Director Peter Bingaman asks for his help on an unofficial case. He needs an outsider, who’s smart and quick on his feet. Joe jumps at the chance to test his skills. Before long, they uncover horrendous crimes. Suddenly, Joe’s in over his head.

Will Joe’s family put aside their problems and come to his aid before it’s too late? And what will that mean for his career as an agent?

***

Add it to your Goodreads TBR List

Series Cover Design by Ampersand Book Covers

BONUS: Searching for Her will be FREE July 19th

Here’s a sneak peek into my new anthology:

Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories about Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series, takes place after The Kindred Code leading into Chemical Attraction. During the eight-year span of these seven stories—as seen through the eyes of his family—Joe gradually loses faith that he’ll find his soulmate.

His sisters, Taylor and Eva, conspire to help him. Convinced Madeline Pierce is his perfect match, Eva and Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia push for a connection. Each time they try to force a meeting, it backfires.

Unbeknownst to Joe and his family, the Synchronicity of the Universe is at work. Can Joe decipher the subtle signs pointing him toward Destiny’s grand plan with Madeline? Many could die if he doesn’t.

The Trucker’s Cat eBook is FREE

My patriotic romance, The Trucker’s Cat, is FREE

Thursday, April 27th – Saturday, April 29th!

 

The Trucker’s Cat Amazon Link 

 

Some men think there’s a choice between right and wrong. Great men know there is none.” ~General Steven Randall

At the Russian Embassy where she lives with her mother and stepfather, Samantha Randall uncovers a plot to assassinate the U.S. President. Her father’s famous speech urges her to act, so she treks cross-country to warn the driver that his cargo has the proof. She soon finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Driving a truck on a covert assignment, Major Logan McCormick had sworn off women after his bitter divorce. Against protocol, he rescues Samantha and gives the wildcat a ride. Although drawn to Samantha’s uplifting spirit, he uses his sullen nature as a shield against her. Will she see through his rigid manner?

With Russian special forces searching for Logan’s cargo and another team chasing Samantha, they quickly realize they must work together to prevent the unthinkable. Will their sacrifices be enough to stop the assault?

Get your copy before the promo ends!

Add The Trucker’s Cat to your Goodreads Reading List

(Honest reviews are always welcome)

The Birds of Winter

cardinal-2

Today, I’m featuring a short story written by my brother, James. I’d like to think my passion for writing is rubbing off on him…

 

The Birds of Winter

By James Bennett

I knew returning to Michigan was going to be hard. Under these circumstances perhaps even harder. It had just started to snow as I arrived at my mother’s house. A gust of cold wind blew across my neck as I made my way to the door. She was ready with a glass of wine and a deck of cards hoping to make up some lost time. It’s been tough for her since her father died two months ago. Especially on Sunday when we used to gather for the traditional family dinner.

We sat down at the kitchen table and had time for a few games before my brother and sisters arrived. “Gin again,” my mother said as she slapped down her cards. I had never quite got the hang of the game she taught us when we were kids. She left me there to shuffle the cards as she journeyed to refill her drink.

Just then a cloud passed overhead and cast a shadow on the room. When I glanced outside I noticed a bright red Cardinal staring at me from the feeder. I was mesmerized by his flickering motion and instantly transported on a memory to my grandfather’s house. I was six years old standing perfectly still in a foot of snow with my arms outstretched. Wrapped in a faded purple snowsuit that was handed down from my sister, I waited patiently.

I remember my grandfather telling me that if I was perfectly still, they would come. And as the minutes passed, standing there trying not to shiver from the cold, they came. I was hypnotized by the movement, watching them dart back and forth. I could see them jump around on the different feeders hanging from the small maple tree. They would jump from a branch to the feeder and back again waiting for their turn. Sometimes they would light in the huge black walnut tree just down the hill and sometimes they would seem to appear out of nowhere. I knew each type of bird. My mother and grandfather both taught me the difference between Sparrows, Wrens, Finches and a dozen others.

Finally, it happened. First a Chickadee, then another, then a Wren and two sparrows. They took turns hopping in and out of my hands taking a bit of seed each time. Their tiny feet felt like snowflakes dancing in my hand. I’ve never felt closer to nature.

“What are you staring at?” my mother said as she returned with her drink.

“I was just remembering when grandpa taught us how the birds could eat out of our hands.”

“I haven’t thought about that for years. What made you think of that?”

“I just noticed the birds outside on your feeder. Do they stick around all winter?”

“Of course,” she said.

“But, don’t most birds migrate for the winter? What makes these stay though the harsh bitter cold months?”

“Well, because, this is their home and this is where their families are.” After a moment, we both smiled at each other.

“Now deal the cards,” she said.

xxx

Thanks again for stopping by. Did you enjoy the story?

Let James know in the comments.

Happy 2017—a Year of Kindness & Encouragement!

 

Searching for Her

purple-roses-4

“Synchronicity happens when you align with the flow of the Universe rather than insisting the Universe flows your way.” – Akemi G

Searching for Her, an anthology of short stories about Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series, takes place after The Kindred Code leading into Chemical Attraction.  Each story shares secrets about Joe’s family, secrets that aren’t revealed anywhere in the novels.

Throughout the seven shorts, Joe gradually loses faith that he’ll find his one.  Convinced that Madeline Pierce is his perfect match, Joe’s sisters push for a connection between them.  Each time they force a meeting, it backfires in a big way.  With synchronicity keeping them apart, Joe and Madeline are unaware God’s Plan for them is grander.

“Purple Roses” is my favorite of the bunch, which isn’t surprising.  I love all the poignant scenes between Joe and Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia.  Over coffee, they ponder Tennyson’s quote, ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Joe wants his life to be better, but he’s tired of searching.

The anthology is FREE on InstaFreebie: SEARCHING FOR HER

Please leave a REVIEW on Amazon. I appreciate your support.