A MelanieM Pre-Release Review: Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

BUD/S: six months of the most intense training there is. It’s survival of the toughest, and Matt Knytych is determined to come out the other side a navy SEAL.

Distraction is life or death. And just the sight of former marine Shane Hovland is enough to shake Matt’s concentration.

Shane came to BUD/S training ready to prove himself—again. Semper Fi is forever, but he needs a new start. Not this dangerous heat with a man he barely knows.

Everything they’ve ever wanted is riding on a thin, punishing line. And they’ll have to fight for more than just each other if they want to make it through intact.

After all, the only easy day was yesterday.

 

I started in with Melanie Hanson on her strong military story, Point of Contact.  Reviewed by both Barb, our Zany Old Lady and myself, each of us found it to be a moving, beautifully written 5 star novel. And each for very different reasons.  Now comes Loving a Warrior, the second in what feels like a series of SEALS themed novels and I’m just as caught up in her characters and storytelling as I was in the first.

Unlike the first novel where the men were out, well, one was at the start.  The men here are on a totally different journey.  Several of them in fact.  Both are first of all on that most intensive and exclusive of all paths…the one that might lead to getting their Trident and being a member of the SEALS.  That’s BUD/S training.  Hansen brings us directly into probably something the majority of us will never experience and can never imagine, what those men and now some women go through in their attempts to become SEALS. Only a tiny few make it.  As Shane and Matt are run through the hellish rigors of BUD/S, we are right there, sweating,  straining, even bleeding and almost breaking along with them.  It’s vivid, and so realistic that it makes you think about all the real soldiers going through training at this moment, doing everything they can to reach that almost unreachable goal.  Your heart is with them all.  Those that make it as well as those that don’t.

Along with the unrelenting stress, mental, emotional, and physical of BUD/S, there’s Matt and Shane trying to figure out their magnetic attraction to each other, one that threatens to become more and derail their  focus on their SEAL training which they can’t afford.

Matt and Shane are complex characters, Matt especially so because he’s got a hard veneer and laser focus on his goal to become a SEAL.  So for Shane to start to get under some of the barriers that Matt has erected takes time.  He seeks to understand   Matt and as he does, we do as well.  It works  both ways. Shane also has a background that makes his appear all too shallow when he’s anything but.  Matt makes certain assumptions about Shane that he also needs to overcome and a narrow view of the  future for himself that needs enlarging if they are to have a future.

This is not a HEA, but a realistic HFN as it should be for two soldiers.  I would love to see Melanie Hanson revisit them down the line in a sequel, perhaps as they both go off on assignments.

Loving A Warrior by Melanie Hansen is a beautifully written novel that is full of complex characters and a gripping plot that kept me connected from beginning to end. It is also a wonderful  complement to the first story Point of Contact.  I absolutely recommend this story as well as Point of Contact.  Both are just amazing and I can’t wait for another in this military series to be released.

Cover art is strong and has the characters well defined.  I like it although not as much as the first one.

Sales Links:  Carina Press | Amazon to come

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Expected publication: November 26th 2018 by Carina Press
ASINB07DCTPL94
Edition LanguageEnglish

Blog Tour for Squared Away (Out of Uniform #5) by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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When a SEAL medic inherits three young children, he must battle to keep the family together and keep his long-held feelings for the man challenging him for custody at bay.

Squared Away

Series: Out of Uniform #5

Publisher: Carina Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): April 16. Print, ebook, and audio all available.

Length (Print & Ebook): 80,000 words

Subgenre: m/m military romance

Includes: military romance, insta-family, hurt/comfort, angst, interracial, heroes-with-kids, gay romance, demisexual/gray ace hero, first time, loss, reunion, forced proximity

Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ptQhFH

Paperback: http://amzn.to/2ptc00A

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Squared-Away-Audiobook/B07BGJ3FRF

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/squared-away/id1326105516?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/squared-away-1

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/squared-away-annabeth-albert/1127659238?ean=9781335980809

Carina Press: https://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781335980809_squared-away.html

Synopsis:

In the wake of tragedy, SEAL Mark Whitley rushed stateside to act as guardian to his sister’s three young children. But a conflicting will could give custody to someone else—someone Mark remembers as a too young, too hot, wild party boy. Even after six years, Mark can’t shake the memory of his close encounter with Isaiah James, or face up to what it says about his own sexuality.

Isaiah’s totally over the crush that made him proposition Mark all those years ago. In fact, he’s done with crushing on the wrong men altogether. For now, he’s throwing himself into proving he’s the best person to care for his cousin’s kids. But there’s no denying there’s something sexy about a big, tough military man with a baby in his arms.

As the legal details get sorted out, their long-buried attraction resurfaces, leading to intimate evenings after the kids are tucked in. A forever future is within reach for all of them, if only Mark can find the courage he needs to trust Isaiah with his secrets—and his heart.

What Annabeth Albert has to say about this book in her Out of Uniform series:

“I wanted to write a book about the nature of family and how loss and tragedy can shape family, mold it into something stronger, force growth and change. I’m enormously proud of SQUARED AWAY as a result because how I fell in love with this little family.”

“When Wizard first appeared in ON POINT as a secondary character, I was intrigued by him, but it wasn’t until I let myself get into his head that I really saw how complicated he was. I feel honored and privileged to have been able to tell his story.”

“No book gets written in a vacuum and this one is no different. I owe a huge debt on this book to my sensitivity readers who really encouraged me to dig deep.”

Praise for the series:

“Albert delivers a solid hurt/comfort story…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY

“Mark and Isaiah’s budding relationship happens with sensitivity and steamy moments…” RT Book Reviews on SQUARED AWAY

“Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a unique look at SEALs’ lives, showing us the insides of their hearts and homes and the love that drives them.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.  

“Sexy, sweet and heartfelt, Annabeth Albert’s Out of Uniform series is a fresh take on Navy SEALs that will delight and entertain romance readers.” ~Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whisky series.  

 Excerpts:

“I take it that’s a yes?”

“It’s always going to be a yes for more kissing.” Isaiah scooted closer. They’d done the massage and goodnight kiss routine a few more times, but he was careful to not press for it, to let it be Mark’s idea.

Mark gave him a fast but still electric kiss. “I was thinking about this when I was helping you outside earlier. It’s crazy how much I like touching and kissing you.”

“I love touching you too.” Isaiah trailed his fingers down Mark’s cheek. “You haven’t had that before?”

“Not really. I’ve had a lot of kisses that felt like getting my earlobe chewed by a cat or trying to kiss a salmon. Not awful but not ‘can’t wait to do it again’ either. Had some kisses I liked, but right as I was getting comfortable, the other person would try to take it to the next level. And that was always a disaster.”

“Even with your friend? The other medic?”

Mark shrugged and looked away. “He got huffy when I didn’t want to get naked after a few kisses. Called me a closet case.”

“I’m sorry.” Isaiah patted his leg, not sure what else to say. “You’re a great guy. You deserve all the good kisses—no fish or earlobe chewing allowed. And you deserve to go at your own pace. Always.”

“I feel guilty. Like I should be doing something more for you…”

“Hey now. I’m getting amazing kisses from a hot-as-fuck guy who also likes to massage me until I’m a pile of limp lettuce. Trust me. I’m not getting a shabby deal here. At all.” If anything, Isaiah felt guilty for how very much he was enjoying all this. “And add in yard work help and cleaning? Man, you’d be a lot of people’s idea of a dream date.”

“Good.” Mark leaned in for another, softer kiss. “Because I really like doing this.”

“Me too.” Isaiah tried to calm the thumping of his heart. Careful, he warned himself even as his long-comatose hope monster hefted itself up and did a dance. He couldn’t afford to go falling for Mark again, yet with each kiss, each tentative touch, he could feel his grip on his resolve weakening.

About Annabeth Albert:

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.  The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ  romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

Connect with Annabeth:

Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

Giveaway: win 1 of 2 ecopies of any back catalog book by Annabeth Albert:

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Need a New Contemporary Romance? Check out “Uncommon Valor” by Rachel Ravenheart (excerpt and giveaway)

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UNCOMMON VALOR Final cover

Uncommon Valor by Rachel Ravenheart
Release Date: July 22, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing
Cover Artist: Louis C. Harris

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Sales Links:  All Romance eBooks | Amazon |  CoolDudes Publishing  |Gumroad

About Uncommon Valor

“Lil’ Bro,

If you’re reading this, then something obviously happened and I’m not going to be around. I wanted to let you know how much I love you, and you don’t have to tear yourself up over this. I’m the one who chose to enlist, and I believe I’ve served proudly for the last few years. I know this won’t ease your mind any, but I believe I’m probably in a better place now. Please don’t be sad. I died doing what I loved, fighting for my country. I wish I could be there for you when you tell Mom and Dad about you being gay. Just know that I am with you in spirit.

Look to Chase for guidance. I know he’ll be the big brother for you I can no longer be. The guys will be a great support for you, and they won’t care that you’re gay. They’re a great group of guys, and they’ll treat you just like I would. They’ll be a support system for you when Dad blows up, and you know he will. Be safe and know I will be watching out for you from the other side.

Love, Sam.”

Uncommon Valor is not just a story of a gay man, it is the fulfilling story of a young man who is on the verge of discovering his true self and he has the perfect prop to do that. He is also about to become a Dad. Will he pull through as a gay man and a Dad? Or will he fall upon the wayside and reject his newborn child, and in so doing, also reject the man of his dreams?

Pages or Words: 172 pages, 48,661 words

Categories: Gay fiction, M/M Romance, Military

Excerpt:


Last weekend with the platoon was great.
I met a ton of new people, and the guys were really supportive when I told them. I hadn’t heard anything from my Mom, so I wasn’t sure what to think about that, but I’d decided I wasn’t going to worry too much. I was on cloud nine from having spent time with people who didn’t care I was gay and treated me like one of the guys even though I wasn’t a Marine.
That all came to a halt when I ran into Tina in the dining hall on campus during the week.
Tina uses her beauty to her advantage. She’s medium height with red hair and green eyes. Whatever she said was right and she was of the opinion that no one could outsmart her. Personally, I tried to stay away from her if I possibly could.
But, she had a crush on me.
I never got the chance to tell my brother that during a night of drunkenness I had slept with her. There was a part of me that always felt something else had been involved, but I couldn’t prove it. I didn’t even know if we did anything. All I knew was I woke up the next morning in the same bed with her and both of us were naked. It wasn’t something I was proud of, and I honestly hoped I would never see her again. Unfortunately, we were both in law school together, so I knew that wasn’t going to be an option.
I’d almost completely forgotten about the incident because it had happened at the end of the semester and I had taken the summer off. The new semester had just started, and I had been lucky enough to not see her in any of my classes or around campus.
I was shocked to see her with what I would consider a baby bump, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. I pretended to not see her, but she saw me.
“Jason! I need to talk to you,” she said, and grasped my elbow from behind.
“What do you want, Tina?” I yanked my arm out of her grasp with a snarl.
“It’s a private matter.”
“We can talk tat my house, but that’s all that’s going to happen.” I turned and walked away, expecting her to follow me to the parking lot. As it turned out, we were parked fairly close to each other, and I motioned for her to follow me as I got into my car.
§

We arrived at my house and I was still trying to figure out what she wanted to talk to me about. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like it.
Inside, she headed for the lounge. “Would you like something to drink?” I asked. When I turned to face her she held her stomach in a protective manner.
“Water would be nice.”
“Have a seat and I’ll be right back.” I said, placing my bag on the floor by the door.
When I returned, she was standing in front of the bay window looking out over the park. “Here you go.” I held out a bottle of water to her as she turned around.
“Thanks, Jason. I’m sorry to put you out like this, but I needed to talk to you and I didn’t want to do it with people around.”
“What’s going on? I haven’t seen you since the end of spring semester.” I walked over and took a seat on the couch and waited to hear what she had to say.
“I went home for summer break and some surprising news came up just before I came back to school.” She came over and sat down next to me.
“Spit it out,” I said, frustrated. I just wanted her gone; something about her really irked me.
“The thing is, just before I came back I realized that I had missed my period so I went to the doctor and took a pregnancy test. I’m pregnant.”
“What’s that got to do with me?” It felt like I had been punched in the gut.
“Well, I hadn’t been with anyone for a while before you and I hooked up at the end of the semester.” She licked her lips and wrung her hands.
“We didn’t hook up. I got way too drunk and don’t remember anything until I woke up the next morning with you by my side and naked.”
“Why do you refuse to believe that what we shared was something special?” she whined. “You know you love me, you only need to admit it and we’ll be happy together as a family.”
“It wasn’t special. What do you want from me?”
“I want you to be a father to our child. I want us to be a family.” She tried to put her hand on my arm. I pulled away.
“We will never be a family. What the HELL were you thinking? Obviously you weren’t; that’s the problem.” I walked over to the bay window and glared out. “If the child is mine I’ll support it and even take custody of him or her, but we will never be together. As soon as the baby is born I’m going to fight for custody and before I commit to anything there needs to be a paternity test, until that time you are nothing more to me than a pregnant woman. Until you have further information, I think this is all we have to talk about.”
“We’d make good parents together. Why are you refusing to admit that?” she cried.
“I have no doubt that we will be good parents, but we won’t be a couple. I’m gay and will not be in a relationship with any woman. Now, if there’s nothing else, I think that it’s time for you to leave. Let me know when you set up the paternity test and I’ll be there. We’ll talk more after the test results come back.” I opened the front door and waited for her to leave. I was being mean and harsh, but I was pissed about what had happened, mostly at myself because I let myself get wasted at that party. I wished I could remember what happened that night.
She stormed past me and went out to her car mumbling under her breath. Part of me hoped I was the father, but there was a greater part of me that hoped I would have nothing more to do with her.

About the author:

Rachel Ravenheart is new to the literary world, but has had the desire to write since she was in junior high school. She moved from a small town in Iowa in time to start high school in Louisiana.

Rachel lost sight of writing as she got bogged down with sports and school. Her dream of being a writer forgotten as she looked to the future to study Political Science with the hope of going to law school when she moved to Texas.

To make her way in the world she got wrapped up in the field of nursing when she got a job as a C.N.A. and soon even her dream of law school was forgotten. Strangely, thanks to an injury she was at home recuperating and was bored when she remembered her love for writing. Never thinking she would ever get published she began.

It was writers like Rob Colton, Mann Ramblings, and Alicia Nordwell that inspired her creativity. She found GayAuthors.org and after some encouragement she decided to post her first story. With the enthusiasm of readers her confidence grew and she took the step to send off her first story to be published. It was with great delight when she was offered her first contract. Hopefully, the first of many.

Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/rachelravenheart
Twitter: @wolfwriter1492
Other: http://rachelravenheart.weebly.com

RC


Tour Dates & Stops: July 22, 2015

Parker Williams, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, MM Good Book Reviews, Divine Magazine, Velvet Panic, Molly Lolly, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, Inked Rainbow Reads, BFD Book Blog, Havan Fellows, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy, Bike Book Reviews, Ogitchida Book Blog, Jessie G. Books, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Happily Ever Chapter, Multitasking Mommas, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Mikky’s World of Books, Hearts on Fire

 

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Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: E-book copy of ‘Uncommon Valor’.  Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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Contest and Shock & Awe Blog Tour with Abigail Roux

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Good morning all.  Today ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to play host to the Shock & Awe Virtual Book Tour featuring one of our favorite authors, Abigail Roux and her new Sidewinder series.  I am so excited about this book and the new couple of Nick and Kelly.  They won my heart immediately and they will win yours too.  Shock & Awe is one of Scattered Thoughts Best Novels of 2013.  You don’t want to miss this one.  And here is bunch more reasons to acquaint yourself with Nick, Kelly, and the rest of the Sidewinders:

Hello everyone! Welcome to the Shock & Awe blog tour! Thank you to ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords for hosting today. If you’re following along, you might find this handy dandy schedule of use, and you might be interested in keeping up with me each day, because I’ve got a couple goodies to give away. In celebration of Nick and Kelly’s coming out, so to speak, I’ve got three of their Heart and Clover T-shirts for three lucky commenters. And I’ve got five sets of trading cards with original artwork and character work-ups, something I intend to add new cards to every year, which makes this first year’s cards pretty important if you’re an obsessive collector like I am.

Author Bio: 

Abigail Roux was born and raised in North Carolina. A past volleyball star who specializes in sarcasm and painful historical accuracy, she currently spends her time coaching high school volleyball and investigating the mysteries of single motherhood. Any spare time is spent living and dying with every Atlanta Braves and Carolina Panthers game of the year.
Abigail has a daughter, Little Roux, who is the light of her life, a boxer, four rescued cats who play an ongoing live-action variation of Call of Duty throughout the house, a certifiable extended family down the road, and a cast of thousands in her head.
Connect with Abi:

Shock & Awe Blurb:

Shock & Awe CoverAfter barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.

Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.

Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.

You can read an excerpt and purchase Shock & Awe today from Riptide!

Contest Giveaway:
Abi is giving away some great goodies along the tour, including three of their Heart and Clover T-shirts for three lucky commenters and five sets of trading cards with original artwork and character work-ups. Just leave a comment at any of the stops along the tour to enter. The contest closes on November 25th.

Contest Rules:

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Please note that the contest is open worldwide, winners will be chosen tour-wide and comments left with an email address will be entered to win.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  •  Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway Riptide Publishing..
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.

 

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Review: Fire For Effect (The Recon Diaries #2) by Kendall McKenna

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Fire For EffectIt is two years after reuniting in Afghanistan, Kellan Reynolds and First Sergeant Jonah Carver find themselves back in the States, albeit on opposite ends of the country, trying to make their long distance relationship work. Kellan is still the CEO of Keystone Consulting. Jonah is stationed at Camp Pendleton, and looking to make changes in his career path in the Army, one to put him on course to be a Sergeant Major.  A speaking engagement in California reunites the men after another 6 months separation and a question posed to both Kellan and Jonah stirs up their  curiosity and plunges them both into an investigation.  The question asked at the conference concerns the repeated denial of Medal of Honors to  Marines killed in action in the recent wars. The pursuing investigation into those charges will lead Kellan and Jonah back to Afghanistan and changes the course of their lives.

Fire For Effect is the sequel to Brothers In Arms and the second book in what I hope will be a long and satisfying  series.  The foundation of this book and series is Kendall McKenna’s superb  knowledge of the military in all its aspects.  When Kellan (former Captain in the Army) and Jonah speak or move forward into action, they do so with an innate authority that would come from their history serving together as well as separately in various engagements throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.  The reader never once questions anything about the combat troops movements, their gear, arms, and even how the troops would spend their downtime overseas because it feels absolutely authentic in every detail.

In fact for this reader, the book really sings when Kellan and Jonah are engaged in military action, finding themselves once  more under fire.  Here is an example:

 The paths between camp facilities were all hard-packed and well-worn from the passing of many booted feet. Everything around them was coated in a layer of fine, powder-like dust, the same pale beige as the endless sands that surrounded them.

“Damn moon dust gets into everything,” Corporal Ruhl muttered.

“Excuse me?” Kellan asked, not quite hearing what the corporal had said.

“The top most layer of sand is this fine, powdery stuff we call moon dust,” Ruhl said. “It gets picked up easy by the wind and gets into everything. We can’t keep anything clean for very long.”

“Yeah, I remember,” Kellan replied. He was brushing that sand off and out of things for almost a year after he’d returned home.

And here is  another excerpt with the men accompanying a company in Afghanistan during their investigation:

The translator expressed all of their farewells to Wasim and the Marines climbed back into their victors. Their next stop was at a combat post, which was nothing more than a platoon of Marines dug into a flat patch of dirt and rock. Even now, Marines were squaring walls of trenches with e-tools and stacking sandbags.

“Ammo restock, looks like,” Jonah mused. “MREs, too,” Kellan said, as he watched crates and cartons get tossed and stacked. Their stop was brief and they were oscar-mike again. Kellan was sure his spine was permanently compressed by the time they reached the combat post that was Gunnery Sergeant Galen Foster’s current billet. As soon as the compound gate secured behind them and the Marines began to exit their victors, Kellan carefully stepped out and stretched his aching muscles.

This COP was in what appeared to be some sort of ancient fortification. Tall walls made of mud brick encircled the entire compound. Two single-story structures stood side-by side, also made of mud brick. The original wooden roof had been reinforced with more secure metals, not unlike the hillbilly armor of the Humvees. It was primitive and austere, only slightly less spartan than the first COP they had visited. Activity buzzed around them. Marines wearing Under Armor shirts unloaded trucks, cleaned weapons, and worked under the hoods of vehicles. Kellan heard laughter and swearing, dirty jokes and most of all, complaining. Marines loved to complain.

Just by those passages alone, you get the feel of what it must be like to be in country, fighting the gritty, dusty sand, the extreme heat and cold, amidst a civilian population that just might be a hotbed of insurgents.  Everything from the language to the terminology speaks of the reality of being in the Army in Afghanistan.  Really, it’s just perfect.

McKenna’s characters are as authentic as the rest of her story.  Kellan and Jonah are such perfectly realized characters that it is easy to believe in them.  Jonah, with his cautious reserve and military respect for his uniform and traditions is still the surfer who loves to  spend his time catching waves.  And Kellan, for all that he is now the CEO of a security consultant firm, is still very much the Army Captain in the carriage and attitude that he presents to others that they instinctively call him “sir”.  But together that reserve melts under the flames of their passion for each other once they are alone.   The relationship that McKenna has created between Jonah and Kellan is just as real and human as the rest of the book.  These man have communication issues and their tentative outreaches to each other speaks of their separation over long distances.  Yet you can feel the deep love Jonah and Kellan have for  each other through their conversations and body language, so intimate an affair that the reader almost feels like an eavesdropper.

And lastly there is the subject matter of their investigation.  You can look it up your self, there were questions raised and investigations launched over the fact that fewer medals of honor were handed out to soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars than there were to soldiers in previous wars.  Some pointed the finger at the racial component (more races can be counted in the volunteer Army than in the conscripted ones of the previous wars) or to the fact that women (and gays) were now serving in higher numbers as well.  In Fire For Effect, Kendall McKenna has put her own spin to these questions and come out with a remarkable story that brings to light some not so savory conclusions about the actions of the Congress and Brass on this subject matter.

All of the above combined, the genuine respect and love for the Marines, the outstanding characters and the “ripped from the headlines” subject matter make Fire For Effect a truly compelling read.  The only thing lacking was the length.  I felt that it was too short to fully develop the investigation and its resolution.  I really wanted more of the story after their return from Afghanistan and more insight into what’s next in their relationship.  I expect that a third book will hold some answers for us, I hope so.  At any rate, that is all that kept Fire For Effect from a 5 star rating.   I do suggest that if you are new to the Recon Diaries, that you start at the beginning, with Brothers In Arms.  In fact pick them both up and read them in one session.  You will love being able to read one after the other.  I can’t wait for the next one to follow.  This pair has me hooked.  I think you will feel the same.

The Recon Diaries in the order they were written and should be read:

Brothers in Arms

Fire For Effect

And don’t miss out on one of my favorites of this year, Kendall McKenna’s Strength of the Pack as well as her Nights In Canaan.

Cover art by Jared Rackler.  Beautiful cover, very hot although I am not sure that it address the subject of the book.