Military

Veterans’ Day 2013 – 30 Days of Thanks – Day 11

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As a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, the poppy is near and dear to my heart. On Memorial Day and Veterans Day, millions of red crepe paper poppies, handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation, are distributed across the country in exchange for donations that go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities.

Thank you to our Veterans and those men and women who continue to serve in the Armed Forces.

I have written posts about my deep respect for men and women in uniform, as I did not serve.   From family members, including my beloved Hubby, to friends and coworkers, I have known Veterans from too many wars.  They are some of the most incredibly gifted, loyal people, with an enormous capacity for love.  My personal commitment to them, is to continue to shatter stigmas about PTSD and shine a light on the ongoing, immediate need for full medical and psychiatric benefits for all of them, for the rest of their lives.  It is the least our Country can do for the people who sacrifice themselves for us.

Sadly, I have received “private” notes from those who see my progressive views as “unpatriotic” and have questioned my feelings.  To those “people,” (who know NOTHING about me or my family), I simply say, “Karma, finds everyone” and delete their negative remarks. Then, I donate to VoteVets.org, to ensure that we elect progressive Veterans, who continue to be committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of all Americans.  Patriotism is neither liberal, nor conservative, it knows no socioeconomic boundary, and is not ascribed to a specific sex, creed, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation or age.  To me it is a feeling of humbleness whenever I encounter someone who has given freely, and openly of himself or herself, in service of our Country.

Meg Cabot’s 9/11 Post and My Thoughts as I Remember

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It was a beautiful Tuesday morning.   The sun was shining and there were no clouds in the skies over Tampa Bay.  The waters were serene and there was a break in the heat and humidity of the Summer.

I was parking my car under the building, ready for another day at my job, which I loved.  I was listening to the popular morning radio show at the time.   My office was less than a mile from Tampa International Airport.

Then the unthinkable happened as we watched on television.  The events were horrific, and yet, they were real.

Unable to form words or thoughts, my co-workers and I either cried together, hugged each other or retreated into a quiet meditative space.  I learned that our organization had no disaster plan of any type.   As someone who had worked as an Urban Planner, on Emergency Management Plans and helped update our County’s Home Host Program, this was inconceivable.   (That organization still did not have a Disaster Plan when I left for other opportunities.  I doubt that they have implemented one, to this day).

I received the phone call from my husband.  Hubby, my beloved US Army Veteran, was no stranger to terrorism, having been stationed in West Berlin.  He immediately began to tell me what safety protocols needed to be activated, because terrorist attacks were suspected.   To this day, he cannot explain how seamlessly his Threatcon persona appeared.  In the weeks and months that followed, we remembered events from out pasts triggered by the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.   Hubby helped me understand some deeply buried PTSD of my own (Panama – Operation Just Cause), while he opened up about some of his demons.

Twelve years have passed.   Some things remain the same, while others have changed.   Unfortunately, the closeness we found in each other, as human beings, in the immediate aftermath of the attacks has been forgotten.  Sadly, it has been crushed by intolerance and hatred.

I pause to share the eloquent words of Meg Cabot’s 9/11 post.   Meg, a bestselling author, lived in New York City at the time and her words still have the same impact as when she first published them.

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning.

Book Review – “Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel” by Kelsie Leverich

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After a plethora of twenty-something-billionaire-meets-ingénue-have-kinky-sex-and-a-HEA books, it was a pleasant surprise to find Kelsie Leverich’s work. I became a fan after reading her debut novel The Valentine’s Arrangement. As the wife of a Gulf War-Era US Army Veteran, I was drawn to her story about a soldier and his ladylove, because it did not shy away from the complexities of loving a man (or woman) in the military. Ms. Leverich wrote from personal experiences, with attention to detail and a deep respect for our troops and veterans. I had high expectations for her second novel Feel the Rush: A Hard Feelings Novel.

Feel the Rush began with the unexpected reunion of lovers who had an unrestrained, steamy, once-in-a-lifetime, one-night-stand. Megan Mitchell, a nurse at an Army hospital, moved from New York to Georgia, started a new job and vowed to find “Mr. Safe.” The first man she met was her next-door neighbor, Reed Porter, an Airborne Jumpmaster and daredevil extraordinaire – the epitome of “Mr. Wrong,” whom she recognized immediately as her one-time lover, from eight years ago.

Reed, however, did not recognize Megan until she jarred his memory and the same inexplicable attraction they felt was rekindled. Each time they were together the sex was hot and became progressively hotter. Neither was expecting the level of intimacy they experienced as they let their protective walls down.

These were likable characters – people we know, possibly our friends, or versions of ourselves. Megan consistently chose men who were emotionally unavailable. Reed seemed to fall into that category. He was the bad boy in an Army uniform, with a heart of gold, but uninterested in the same type of commitment, as Megan. While they seemed perfectly matched, they were looking for different things out of a long-term relationship.

Ms. Leverich built the tension slowly, as the lovers rediscovered their connection. We became invested in Megan and Reed’s emotional journeys as individuals and as a couple. Then, life happened, proving that they lived in a very small world. Two plot twists blew me away, and served to intensify Megan and Reed’s already complicated and moving relationship. I wanted to wrap my arms around both of these characters at different points during the book.

The secondary characters were fully developed people who added to the story. Megan’s best friends Eva and Trevor supported and confronted her on her own failings, as real friends would. The camaraderie exhibited by Reed’s fellow soldiers clearly illustrated the bonds created by men in uniform, who perform dangerous jobs. The soldiers were multifaceted alpha men, who cared for each other as family, and played a part in bringing Megan and Reed together.

Feel the Rush was funny, sad, sexy, and deeply poignant. It surpassed my expectations and had me reaching for tissues on several occasions. I highly recommend it for readers looking for rich characters who suffer unavoidable heartbreak, as they transition into the best version of themselves and learn to embrace love.

I highly recommend reading Ms. Leverich’s first novel in the series The Valentine’s Arrangement.

Links to my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

5-Stars for “SEAL of Honor” by Tonya Burrows – Book Review

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seal of honor
Image used with permission by the Author.

It’s a good thing Gabe Bristow lives and breathes the Navy SEAL credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” because today, his life is unrecognizable. When his prestigious career comes to a crashing halt, he’s left with a bum leg and few prospects for employment that don’t include a desk.

That is, until he’s offered the chance to command a private hostage rescue team and free a wealthy American businessman from Colombian paramilitary rebels. It seems like a good deal—until he meets his new team: a drunk Cajun linguist, a boy-genius CIA threat analyst, an FBI negotiator with mob ties, a cowboy medic, and an EOD expert as volatile as the bombs he defuses. Oh, and who could forget the sexy, frustratingly impulsive Audrey Van Amee? She’s determined to help rescue her brother—or drive Gabe crazy. Whichever comes first.

As the death toll rises, Gabe’s team of delinquents must figure out how to work together long enough to save the day. Or, at least, not get themselves killed.Because Gabe’s finally found something worth living for, and God help him if he can’t bring her brother back alive.

 

My Review:

Gabriel “Gabe” Bristow met unconventional and sassy Audrey Van Amee, during Team Hornet’s attempt to save her kidnapped brother. Under the best of circumstances, their pairing would have been unlikely because they ran in different circles and lived in different countries. SEAL of Honor (Hornet) added the stress of putting together a new private hostage rescue team, in a politically volatile environment, to Gabe’s already full plate.

Audrey was an unusual leading lady, because she lived the life of a successful artist in Costa Rica and only became involved, when her brother was kidnapped. She did not have a history of dating military or ex-military men, but the chemistry between Audrey and Gabe was palpable from the moment they met. She gave Gabe no quarter, and while it may have irritated him on several occasions, it was her strength of character, conviction and love that broke down his barriers. Through Audrey, Gabe saw himself in a different light, and began to embrace his post-Navy career and new team. I only wish there had been more and longer intimate scenes between Audrey and Gabe. This did not take away from the plot of the book, however. The pacing was appropriate for a romantic suspense novel.

Tonya Burrows rounded out the cast, with the most ragtag team of strong, sexy, independent alpha men, I have seen assembled in a while – think Hogan’s Heroes for a new generation. As the first novel in her new HORNET series, Ms. Burrows gave the reader a glimpse into the relationships that began to develop among the eight men selected for this unique group. We were able to see why each man was chosen, and a tiny peek into his past. Each member of HORNET will have his place in the sun. (I was intrigued by Travis Quinn, the defacto-XO of the group, and hope Ms. Burrows plans to write his story next. Quinn had everything I love about former military men, especially a tortured past and an inflexible sense of loyalty. I see him as a future “book boyfriend.”)

I won an autographed copy of SEAL of Honor (Hornet) in a book blog contest. I have always been drawn to series about teams of men in uniform, especially after they leave active duty service. SEAL of Honor (Hornet) brought the men together and with each subsequent book, we will see them grow, as a team, and as individuals – when they find their lady loves. I look forward to spending more time with these men and the extended Hornet family. I recommend it to anyone who loves to invest time in well-developed characters, traveling to exotic and sometimes dangerous places. Great start to a new series!

Link to Amazon Review and Goodreads Review

Independence Day – A Day to Say Thank You

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Independence Day - A Day to Say Thank You

Take a few moments today to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces, and veterans, who protect our freedoms. Work passionately to ensure they are welcomed home with honor and their families have the support they need, while their loved ones are in harm’s way.

I honor Hubby, and the artillerymen of the U.S. Army’s Berlin Redlegs, today. “Volens et Polens.”

Book Review – “Still” by Ann Mayburn – Explosive Domme Doctor and Her Alpha Gunnery Sergeant Sub

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For some reason, I have been consumed by military romances this Summer, especially those that seem to hit close to home.   These stories feature men and women who have left active duty military service, returned to the US and reintegrated into civilian life.   The majority of the characters are suffering the effects of PTSD, and other physical, mental, and/or emotional trauma.    Perhaps this has been my way of working through some of my issues, as the wife of a former serviceman with PTSD.   Or maybe I just like spicy, erotica featuring former military members and the people love them.  Either way, anything that brings more attention to men and women who served, and continue to serve, is ok by me.

The latest story I read was Ann Mayburn’s “Still.”  TEAR-JERKING SCORCHER.

On the surface Michelle Sapphire was not a female character I would typically like, as she was the typical beautiful, tall, blonde, rich, smart doctor. (Meh). However, she quickly established herself as a multifaceted woman I would want to know, as a professional (Doctor) and as a friend. While she was deployed to Afghanistan as a Navy doctor, she met Gunnery Sergeant Wyatt Callahan and they established a strong “brothers-in-arms” bond.

Upon returning to the U.S. Michelle and Wyatt were reunited suddenly when she bailed him out of jail, following an event triggered by his PTSD. She gave Wyatt two options: go home and never speak to her again, or agree to live with her for a month, as her submissive.

Wyatt accepted the challenge, and together they worked through their relationship, survivor’s guilt and commitment issues. Wyatt learned how to trust Michelle and their connection. Michelle, a Domme, learned to embrace another submissive into her heart and life. She dominated their scenes, but always ensured that Wyatt felt safe and cared for. The more they opened up to each other, the hotter the action got, and the deeper their emotions ran.

This was one of the most realistic depictions of PTSD, in men and women, I have read. Wyatt already respected Michelle, as a higher ranking Officer, so stepping into the role of her sub was a logical transition. By using the D/s relationship, Ms. Mayburn fully incorporated Michelle and Wyatt’s existing (non-physical or emotional) Officer/NCO connection to help each other through the realities of PTSD. It only helped to strengthen their D/s bond because they already trusted each other.

At the end of the book, Ms. Mayburn included a list of resources for service members and their families/friends that provided support services for everything from PTSD and other health concerns, to relocation, and homelessness. This was already an emotional read for me, and seeing the list at the end (in addition to Ms. Mayburn’s note to her readers at the beginning of the book) made me cry.  She absolutely understood.

I hope Ms. Mayburn writes Yuki and James’ story, soon!

Here is the link to my Amazon review:  Explosive Domme Doctor and Her Alpha Gunnery Sergeant Sub

 

Book Review – “Breaking All the Rules (A Few Good Men),” by Kerry Connor

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Recipe for an “Accidental” Relationship – Mix an Independent Baker with a Sexy Marine

The rules were simple. Nina Warren and Bobby Dellucci met for sweaty, hot, fun between the sheets, with no commitments, whenever he was in town. The arrangement worked well for several years, but Bobby had a different plan this time. He wanted to explore whether they had deeper feelings for each other, or not. Nina, a Navy brat, refused to be in a relationship with a military man. She already knew, first hand, the sacrifices military spouses/families made. But, Bobby was up for a challenge. Let the games begin!

Nina, and her friend Ashley, owned a successful bakery in San Diego. Bobby also lived there, with his fellow Marine buddy, Mac (when they are in the States). Bobby and Nina met at a bar and their chemistry was instantaneous. They fell into each other’s arms (and bed) each time they saw each other, but their relationship did not progress past the “bed buddies” stage. The story focuses on how Nina, who is wary of her feelings for Bobby, and reluctant to “date” Bobby, comes around while still maintaining her independence.

Ms. Connor had me rooting for Bobby, as he wooed Nina. I became invested in their lives. These were complex adults who are used to being alone and relying on themselves. The secondary characters of Ashley and Mac were the supportive, but not enabling, best friends, who were not afraid to ask the difficult questions. I hope Ms. Connor is planning to write their stories.

I downloaded Breaking All the Rules (A Few Good Men) when it was free on Amazon and was very pleasantly surprised! This was the perfect book to read on Memorial Day, as it features a Marine and the woman who loves him. The realities of military life are an integral part of the story, as are how the characters work through their personal issues regarding long-term commitment.

I highly recommend it!

Link to my review on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/review/RMX22TKY5OMZ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm