Only A Pawn SFR Brigade Showcase

SFRB ShowcaseOnce a month the Science Fiction Romance Brigade authors showcase snippets from new work, WIPs, cover reveals or other fun things. The link is here for all  the participants.

Escape-from-Zulaire2x1000I’m sharing an excerpt from my SFR Galaxy Award and National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award winning novel Escape from Zulaire, which is on sale through December for $.99. (Buy links below the excerpt)

Captain Tom Deverane is trying to persuade the very stubborn Andi Markriss to come with him and his troops:

Deverane walked closer, leaned on the table. “Have you received any communications from the office, or anyone since you came out here?”

            “No, but it’s the summer slow period. Even the Loxton office is all but closed.” She gave him a challenging glare. “Look, on the basis of what you’ve said so far, I don’t appear to need rescuing. You still haven’t told me anything to justify leaving tonight, missing the reception, insulting my hosts, and driving back to the capital like a prisoner.” Wishing the deep upholstery didn’t make rising such an ungraceful process, Andi left the chair.

            “You aren’t getting the picture.” Jaw clenched, he took a few steps to stand next to her. The glare from his green eyes was scorching, and Andi recoiled from the intensity. Apparently taking note of her unease, the captain gentled his voice. “Though why that should surprise me, I don’t know, considering the warnings Lord Tonkiln and the other members of the Coun­cil have ignored.”

            “Warnings?” Andi took a step back, crossing her arms over her chest.

            “To get their families the hell out of this isolated, inde­fensible spot and into safety at the capital.” Deverane took a deep breath. He walked over to stare at the carvings on the mantel. Andi got the impression from the rigid set of his broad shoulders he was trying to control his temper. After a minute, he came to sit near her again. “I was told your boss made numerous attempts to get in touch with you, right until the moment he and the rest of the Loxton staff took a ship offworld.”

            “Dave left Zulaire? They’ve all gone?” Now Andi fell back into the chair, raising a small puff of dust from the plush cushion beneath her. A wave of nausea rippling through her gut, she ran a hand through her hair, looping the tendrils behind her ear. “I don’t understand any of this. Why would my boss and my co-workers leave without me? Why wouldn’t the Tonkilns tell me? You’re still not making sense.”

            Deverane came to hunker down in front of her chair, caging her with his arms, invading her personal space. Inhaling sharply, she caught a whiff of musk and forest and man, threaded with some delicious spicy note. She glanced down at his hands, strong, capable, locked on the chair close to her body. As if to calm an upset child, his voice was soothing and low. “Relax. We can get you offplanet in a military transport once you’re safely in the capital.”

            She lifted her head, gazing straight into his eyes. Half-formed thoughts chased each other in her mind. The longer he talked, the more nervous she got, but it was still all too much to take in. Loxton only pulled staff offworld in the most serious situations. I haven’t heard a whiff of trouble. Dave wouldn’t have left me behind. Would he?

         Deverane touched her arm lightly. “There have been incidents all summer. People disappearing, vehicles abandoned on the transportway with no sign of the occupants. There have even been some small-scale massacres in isolated villages, both Obati and Shenti. The violence keeps escalating.  Command thinks a full-blown war is only a breath away, waiting for some convenient incident to touch it off. Lord Tonkiln and the others have chosen to keep things quiet, leaving their families at risk out here in order to demonstrate their belief in their own supremacy. Putting on a pretense of things going along as usual. Or else they refuse to see what’s coming. Civilians.”

          He might as well have said idiots.

           Deverane frowned at her, three deep wrinkles marring the strong sweep of his forehead. “Are you prepared to take the same risk?”

            He’s invading my personal space, damn it. I don’t intimidate that easily, pal. She pushed at his rock-hard shoulders. Standing, he moved away a pace or two, still keeping his eyes locked on her. Licking her lips, Andi smoothed down her silky skirt. “You’re insinuating my hosts have deceived me and deliberately put me in harm’s way? I find that insulting.”

            Eyes closed, he pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’re a pawn to them.” Now he reopened his eyes and flung his arms out, hands wide open. “You mean nothing to them. If you’re going to refuse my offer of evacuation, then you’d better be ready to take care of yourself, because I guarantee you the Obati won’t.”

Blurb:
Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

AMAZON   Nook Kobo All Romance eBooks  iTunes   Xin Xii  Google Play

Audiobook: Amazon  itunes

 

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Guest Author Yolanda Sfetsos Talks AI in DASH Recast

Yolanda coverIt’s my pleasure to have fellow science fiction romance author Yolanda Sfetsos here today, talking about Artificial Intelligence, robots and romance! (Love her book’s cover…) Take it away, Yolanda!

Hi there! It’s great to be here today. I want to thank Veronica for giving me the chance to post a little something on her blog, while also helping me celebrate the release of my latest SFR book. DASH is the fourth book in my RECAST series and features an AI you might recognize from previous books. Walsh was introduced in CLASH (Book 2). He’s a Y-123 model that looks exactly the same as Young from WITHER (Book 1).

I knew early on that I would write a book featuring one of the Y-123 models. They were built for many reasons—mostly to satisfy human and alien desires—but were later outlawed and destroyed. At least, that’s what most people believe. Yet, Young was living in a scorching faraway planet and Walsh is living inside the Clash Arena. Both were seemingly used for selfish reasons, but each is a lot more than meets the eye.

Take Walsh for instance. He might be seen as the Enforcer in the arena dungeons, but he could also be playing two sides.

Most people in the galaxy might think of the Y-123 as dreadful machines, or not think of them at all, but these models were despised because they developed humanoid personalities and were often hard to spot. Which makes me wonder, how would our society feel about having robots integrate so seamlessly? Would we shun them and be suspicious of everyone just in case they weren’t entirely human? Or would we welcome them into society and not care?

I remember seeing a female robot on TV once. She looked so much like a woman that most called her creepy. But why is she creepy? Is it because she looks like she’s imitating a person or it because she looks so much like a person? It might sound like a strange question, but I think it’s important. Why are we so afraid of robots turning against us? I mean, if that’s our deep-rooted fear why spend time on robotics? What is it that scares us so much about our own creations? Do we secretly fear that everything we make can—and will—turn against us? Or is it because of the countless of stories we’ve read and watched?

Most people seem happy with the prospect of having a robot to help them in industry scenarios. Some would even love to have one to help take care of their house. Yet, these same people are probably the ones who wouldn’t want them to live freely amongst us. Why?

Personally, I don’t have that phobia. I find robots fascinating, and welcome equality in all forms. Besides, I don’t think the creation and introduction of robots would be as black and white as we try to make it. I think like people, they would each have their own quirks.

This leads me back to DASH. I took an AI who is mostly despised because of what he can become, and gave him a chance to tell his story. To show readers that although Walsh might have been created and engineered, it doesn’t mean he matters less. And hell, why shouldn’t he be treated like an individual?

So, do you like robots, or do they scare you? Are they scary or awesome? I think you already know my answer. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Yolanda 

AUTHOR BIO:

Wife. Mother. Writer. Bibliophile. Dreamer. Animal lover. Intrigued by the supernatural. Horror freak. Zombie enthusiast. Movie & music fan. Slave to her muse.

Yolanda lives in Sydney, Australia with her awesome husband, lovely daughter, and cheeky cat. (Veronica sez: Is there any other kind of cat on the planet LOL?)

You can find Yolanda at:

Website: http://www.yolandasfetsos.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/yolandasfetsos

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/yolandasfetsos

The story for DASH Recast:

She escaped the arena of death, but trusting him might be the death of her. 

RECAST, Book 4

Taylor may be the Clash Arena’s most dominant—and only—female gladiator, but today she just can’t catch a break. After winning yet another brutal fight, with the arena inexplicably falling down around her ears, she jumps at the chance to escape the prison of her subterranean pit.

Instead, she finds herself knocked unconscious more times than she can count, and pursued over the edge of a sea cliff by an AI enforcer she can’t shake off her heels.

Walsh has been living a double life, masquerading as a tyrant’s enforcer while hiding his true agenda. When the despicable arena falls, there’s only one thing on his mind—saving the savage blonde who doesn’t trust him as far as she can throw him. Which is a considerable distance.

Once he convinces her he’s not out to kill her but help her survive, they form an uneasy alliance. But Taylor senses he’s keeping a secret, not just from her, but about her. And the truth will show them exactly what it is to be human.

Warning: This book contains some girl-on-girl action, a kick-ass gladiator who takes no crap, an AI who puts it all on the line, a band of misfits who aren’t as merry as they seem, cute

Interview with The Audiobook Narrator ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighResOver at the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, my current  SciFi Encounters column is about making HEAscience fiction romance audiobooks. I’m talking to actor Michael Riffle and actress Mary Fegreus, the stars of Escape From Zulaire, my newest book to be made into the audio format. The’re discussing how they prepared to bring the book to life and how it was to work together, including on the steamier scenes!

I’ve interviewed Michael before on this blog, when he narrated my Wreck of the Nebula Dream in 2013. I thought it might be fun to pull a few tidbits from the Archives, regarding things he shared with us then, about himself and that novel.

Excerpted From the  March 2013 Archives:

Did you have a favorite scene in Wreck of the Nebula Dream? A scene that was especially challenging?
I think the most challenging scene was (SPOILERS!) in chapter seven when [Character X] didn’t survive.  I have a really close relationship with my mother, and when the Character thought Nick was her son at the end I visualized my mother saying that and I actually had to stop recording for a few minutes because I got choked up.  The dangers of making the work too personal, I guess!
VS: I remember when you were doing the recording you’d tweeted that Chapter made you a bit sad. I’m touched that the scene had such an effect.

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I really enjoyed the way you brought each of the characters to life – not only Nick the hero but also wide variety of people he was trying to save from the wrecked ship. What goes on in your mind as you create each unique voice?
I think the biggest influence on what I try to do with my voice comes from your description of the characters.  Not just how their voice is described, but how they hold themselves, what sort of personality do they have, how they are feeling during the whole process.  I try to equate each character to someone I know, or a character I’ve seen in a movie or television, something to ground it in reality.  I might be a little selfish by giving my own voice to Nick.  It’s hard to NOT want to be the modest, able-bodied hero who gets the girl.
VS: I had a number of auditions submitted for the book and I have to say I knew you were Nick from the first word you said! It was amazing to “hear” my character and I was in no doubt who I HAD to have narrate the book LOL.

1284217_33761472Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedI came up with some unusual words and names, given that Wreck of the Nebula Dream was a science fiction novel. Was there anything or anyone you wished you could rename? (I promise it won’t hurt my feelings LOL)
Hahaha, I was so worried about mispronouncing things.  I said D’nvannae wrong so many times when I started this.  I think if I could change anything I’d change Mellure, and only because I had a terrible habit of adding a Y to it for no good reason.  My mouth always wanted to say Meh-lyoor.
VS: And even though we did some advance discussion about pronunciation, we never discussed the name of the alien pirate race, Shemdylann. You say it differently than I heard it in my head when I wrote the book but the first time I heard how you said it, I knew you had it right, not me!
MR: Haha, and I changed my mind about it halfway through the chapter and had to go back and rerecord a big section.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mom said to me (on more occasions than she should probably have had to) “You only truly fail if you don’t try.”  It’s a lesson I have a hard time learning, but it’s damn good advice.

A few quickfire questions:

Can’t live without: Technology – I’m a nerd to the bone.
Would love to work with: Nathan Fillion VS sez: Wouldn’t we all 🙂
Show I can’t miss: I’ve got Netflix, HuluPlus, and Crackle.  I binge watch whole seasons of anything.
Best dinner I ever ate: Went outside of my price range to Cube on La Brea.  Good lord. Delicious.

Nick drinks interstellar brandy and ice planet vodka (not in the same glass) – what’s your favorite drink?
I learned this one at the Irish Village in Brighton, Mass.
1 part Powers Irish Whiskey, 1 lemon wedge with cloves, 1 barspoon full of raw sugar, splash of Sandeman port
muddle in glass
add 4 parts boiling water
You have yourself a Hot Whiskey (or Hot Toddy) – Cures all ills, improves ailing throats, and is basically magical.

Buy Links for the audiobooks:

WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM    Amazon       Audible.com

ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE        Amazon     Audible.com

Nebula Nights A Science Fiction Romance Boxed Set

NN_squareOver at the USA Today HEA blog, I’m interviewing ten science fiction romance authors (and myself) today on what we love about SFR and which SF hero is our favorite. I’ve been spending  lot of time with these ladies lately, not just because we all love to read and write SFR, but also because we’ve put together a boxed set of eleven stories. I have my award-winning, best seller Escape From Zulaire, as my contribution. The boxed set contains quite a mix of elements from cyborgs to aliens, space opera to adventure on alien planets.

Best of all, the set is priced at $.99! For over 800,000 words of  exciting SFR….

Here’s a quick synopsis for the included stories:

Her Cyborg Awakes by Melisse Aires
Her gentle cyborg servant helped her escape violence–but now he’s changed into a warrior! Is he safe?

Removed (The Nogiku Series, #1) by SJ Pajonas
In this Japan-inspired tale, one woman’s family destiny is key to the survival of the last city on Earth.

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc. by PK Hrezo
Welcome to Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Noelle In His Heart by C.E. Kilgore
Noelle wishes for someone who understands she has love to give but commitments to honor. Stranded on Earth, Steve longs for someone who will understand that his alien heart can love just as deeply.

Stark Pleasure; the Space Magnate’s Mistress by Cathryn Cade
Kiri te Nawa survives the perils of the galaxy on her wits … although when it comes to space magnate Logan Stark, she’d rather use her body.
But can she trust him with her secrets?

Birth of an Empire: The Beginning by Catrina Taylor
Three former genetic experiments chose peace over war in a sector that’s known only war for a century. As each one squares against their governments they will question the experiences that guide them.

Escape From Zulaire by Veronica Scott
When the planet erupts into war, Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane must decide whether to save Andi Markriss, the intergalactic businesswoman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Solia’s Moon by Lyn Brittan
SFR Galaxy Award Winner! When Dr. Solia uncovers her company’s foray into creating humanoid life, she enlists the help of her handsome ex, Sheriff Sable, in bringing a little justice to the universe.

The Key by Pauline Baird Jones
Her orders are simple: do the impossible and do it yesterday. But this time the impossible might actually be impossible. The only way it could get worse? If her heart starts beating for the wrong guy.

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy by Greta van der Rol
The Galaxy teeters on the brink of war. Can ex-admiral Saahren persuade the woman who hates him to help him prevent the coming conflagration? And perhaps even love him?

Mirror Image by KG Stutts
Maddie’s entire world is turned upside down when she finds out that she is a clone. Now she must work with her counterpart to protect Earth.

And the buy links:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     All Romance eBooks     Kobo

Nebula Nights 3D_1300

 

Archaeology in Intergalactic Space

AtStarsEnd-medI’m interviewing Anna Hackett over at USA Today/HEA for my SciFi Ecnounters column, about her HEAnovel At Star’s End. The heroine is a galactic archaeologist who happens to be searching for an Earthly relic – part of the “Mona Lisa.” The how and the why is all part of Anna’s plot and worldbuilding, which we discuss in the column, but I’m perpetually fascinated by the idea of what remnants of other civilizations we might stumble across once we finally get into the galaxy.

I’ve always been drawn to the stories of the old, mysteriously unknowable civilizations on our own world, hence my writing a paranormal series set in ancient Egypt! But when I first started reading Andre Norton’s science fiction novels many years ago, one of the most intriguing aspects of her world building to me was the Forerunners. As I understood it, the Forerunners were actually many alien civilizations and/or possibly one large, unified galaxy-wide association of these worlds. They and their accomplishments were lost in time thousands (millions?) of years before Ms. Norton’s characters ventured on the scene. She was excellent at giving the reader only tantalizing hints and tastes of the Forerunners and I always wanted more.

Her 1955 novel Galactic Derelict was especially fascinating because over the course of this novel an galacticderelict_acef310alien spaceship is located on Earth, having crashed and wrecked maybe hundreds of thousands of years ago. (SPOILERS, although the book dates to the 1950’s LOL.) But conveniently, in this series, humans have time travel (acquired perhaps from another wrecked alien vessel? I can’t remember) so they go back and find the ship when it’s freshly crashed, still in one piece with all its technology and marvels functioning. As the ship is being brought forward to our time, the engines are activated and the ship takes off in the now, trying to complete its long overdue voyage home.

The ship makes stops at various places in the galaxy and each time the unwilling human passengers have to hope ancient mechanisms for refueling are still working, they do some exploring…and then the ship reaches its home and turns itself off. So then the humans have to figure out a way to retrace the journey yet again. In the meantime, home base for the ship seems to have been a central place of Forerunner civilization and we get glimpses of buildings and artifacts and Forerunner descendants…

I was thoroughly and totally hooked, let me tell you!

When I started writing my Sectors science fiction series set in the far future, one world building element I included was a galactic civilization that had come and gone, leaving traces and tantalizing clues, and perhaps even a few working installations. I decided to call them the Ancient Observers  or AO for short (although that’s subject to change). I haven’t been able to talk about it much in any of the books I’ve written to date. One of the AO devices was going to play a part in Escape From Zulaire but my editors and I concluded that adding in any significant discussion of this ancient civilization was just too much for the pacing of the novel. So the device is still in the book but without much reference to who built it. (Hint: think REALLY giant emerald. You’ll know it when you see it!)

I have some other plots in mind for future novels where my Ancient Observers may come up again as hopefully intriguing tidbits, might get more “time on the page”…we’ll see.

So, do you have any novels to recommend that feature archaeology out there, among the stars? Or vanished ancient races on other worlds that our descendants are trying to understand through shards and wall paintings? I’d love to read some more stories along these lines!

WitchesBroomNebula

Science Fiction Romance Brigade Midsummer Blog Hop

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The Hop and Giveaway are now OVER. Because I had so many people commenting on my blog, I randomly selected two winners instead of one and they have each been sent a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card. The winners were Meri and “Shannon Hollow Kitty Flynn”. Thanks to everyone for stopping by! Happy summer!

Welcome to the third annual SFR Brigade Midsummer Bog Hop!

To be entered for the prize available just on my blog, which is a $25.00 Amazon gift certificate, please leave a comment about science fiction romance. The winner for my blog will be randomly selected…

To enter the Blog Hop rafflecopter itself and be eligible for the Grand Prizes listed below,  you’ll have to go to the main page – click HERE.  (NOTE: No cash or other prize alternatives will be offered for the Grand Prizes.) You can also find the links to the other 40+ participants on the main page.

Starry Nights Blog Hop Grand Prizes:

1st  $100 Amazon or B&N gift card plus 41 ebooks

2nd $50 Amazon or B&N gift card plus 28 ebooks

3rd  3 separate winners each receive $25 Amazon or B&N gift card plus 11 ebooks

In my award winning SFR novel ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE, the two main characters have an intimate conversation under the starry skies, which is the blog’s theme. Here’s the story for the novel:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent themEscape-from-Zulaire2HighRes at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Excerpt: Andi and the small group of Sectors Special Forces soldiers are on the run from rebel forces and have camped for the night:

Deverane looked up as she walked over, patting the rock beside him in invitation. “Can’t sleep?”

Shuddering as she sat, Andi rewrapped her shawl more tightly. “You’re surprised I’m having bad dreams?  After everything we saw today? What time is it?”

Reaching over, he tucked the fabric more securely around her shoulder. “Still middle of the night, I’m afraid. A long time to go until sunrise chases away the nightmares.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. I’m drowsy but scared to risk closing my eyes for more than a second. There are a lot of vivid images forming a queue in my subconscious tonight. These kinds of things don’t affect soldiers, I suppose.” Leaning back, she tilted her head to look at him, eyebrows slightly raised in query.

He continued to gaze across the rippling water and said nothing for a long minute. When he did speak, his voice was low and measured. “I went into the military because the abuse and slaughter of innocent civilians do bother me. At least in the service, I can do something to prevent atrocities.”

Biting her lip, she looked away across the lake. “I’m sorry. Was I being rude? Maybe I’d better go back to bed and leave you alone.”

“No, please stay.” He grabbed at the shawl, which promptly came off her shoulder again. Their hands met as he tried to reposition the wrap and she tried to keep it from falling off.  “I apologize if I sounded abrupt.”

She stared at him for a minute then smiled as she settled back down. “It’s all right. The last few days have been…rough. For both of us.”

Deverane set his pulse rifle on the rocky surface and picked up the metal cup that had been sitting on the other side. “I’d offer you a cup of coffee, but since wakefulness is your problem—”

Andi smiled ruefully. “I’d love some, but you’re right. That won’t help my insomnia.”

He drank before setting the cup down, steadying it with one hand as it rocked on the uneven surface. “I have nightmares sometimes, but from my own private collection. Have you ever heard of Merenia 12?”

”Sounds familiar.”  Racking her brain, Andi chased down the reference. “It was one of the first worlds the Mawreg attacked in Sector Fourteen, wasn’t it? A long time ago?”

“Right. I’m the sole survivor.” He stacked a couple of small stones on top of each other, then toppled the tower with a flick of his finger.

“You must have been very young.”  What could it have been like, going through an ordeal like that as a child?

This National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award Finalist novel is Available on AMAZON for kindle and as POD paperback   Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks  iTunes   Xin Xii  Google Play

The book trailer:

 

 

We Have to Help ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE for SFR Brigade Presents

THE SFRB Presents(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set on another planet in the far future….

In the last few weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from theSFR Galaxy Award wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge, Tom Deverane, claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued.  And as it turned out, they couldn’t leave right away.  So of course the conflict breaks out at the worst possible moment…

I’m skipping quite a bit of the action because SPOILERS.  This incident takes place as the party continues to make their way through enemy territory.

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighRes“Trouble ahead, sir,” Wilson reported crisply. “Party of hostiles has four civilians stopped on the transportway. Looks like things are going to get ugly fast.”

“We should go help them.” The urgent thought impelled Andi to her feet, and she took a step or two in the direction the scouts had just come from.

Tom moved fast, grabbing her elbow hard and glaring down at her. “I thought I told you—more than once—my primary orders don’t allow me the discretion to go around the countryside rescuing everyone in distress.”  He spaced out each word for emphasis. “I have to get back to the capital. We’ve got vital information that could stop the entire planet from descending into war. I can’t conduct firefights and rescue individuals. You were an exception because someone somewhere pulled a lot of rank and got special orders issued. Okay?”

Biting her lip, Andi flushed and jerked her elbow away from him. I wish he wouldn’t keep rubbing it in my face that I got special treatment. I didn’t ask for him to come rescue me.

Apparently satisfied she wasn’t going to argue, Tom’s next remark was addressed to the waiting sergeant. “How many hostiles?”

“Fifteen. Armed with standard planetary-issue weapons, from what we could see.” Rogers nodded his agreement with Wilson’s rapid assessment. “No heavy stuff. No Sectors contraband. We could take them, sir.”

Brow furrowing, Tom glared at Wilson. “We have to stay on mission here. You’re starting to sound like her.” He jerked his thumb at Andi. “I need a reason to break our rules of engagement.”

Wilson looked at Rogers, getting no help from him beyond a sheepish shrug. Turning back to the captain, the sergeant continued to plead his case. “They’re roughing up a bunch of priests, sir. Defenseless noncombatants. Don’t seem right to walk away, orders or no orders. I…can’t explain it any better.”

Tom pulled out his blaster and checked the charge. “All right, I’ll commit to going and assessing the potential for intervention.” He fixed Andi with a stern gaze. “I am not promising to intervene. So don’t push it, Miss Markriss.”

Afraid to say anything and risk changing his mind, she simply nodded. From what she’d seen of Tom so far, he’d intervene all right. Soft heart inside a very tough exterior.

The story:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Available on AMAZON  Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   iTunes   Xin Xii   Google Play 

The Only Solution ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE SFR Brigade Presents

THE SFRB Presents(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set on another planet in the far future….

In the last few weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from theSFR Galaxy Award wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued.  And as it turned out, they couldn’t leave right away.  So of course the conflict breaks out at the worst possible moment…

I’m skipping quite a bit of the action because SPOILERS.  Continuing on with the middle of the night conversation I started sharing last week, between  Tom and Andi,  as the small group camps by a lake after several days of fleeing the enemy. She can’t sleep and he’s on guard duty. This excerpt follows directly from last week’s. Tom is speaking:

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighRes“Well, the Mawreg slaughtered all the colonists. The old star destroyer Cassiopeia had been detailed to escort the next colony transport ship from Sector Command to Merenia. Her captain engaged the enemy cruiser in battle, which he eventually won by ramming those Mawreg bastards, sending them all to hell. Our ships at that time didn’t have the armament to do the Mawreg much damage any other way, you know? Suicide runs were the only solution.”

Andi huddled inside the shawl, pulling it closer around her. The Mawreg are one scary subject. “I’ve read some journals of the early encounters. I know things were grim. At least now we have a new class of battleships capable of taking on the enemy and winning. What happened to you?”

“The colony ship landed, put out a distress call,” he said. “While waiting for evac escort, her crew and the new colonists buried the victims.”

“But they found you?”

“I’d gotten out of the storm shelter somehow. I was sit­ting next to my mother’s body, holding her hand.” Deverane shrugged, but Andi thought maybe she saw a glint of unshed tears in his eyes. Next second, he brushed a hand across his face, cleared his throat and sat up straighter. “I remember that. I’ve no memory of how I got out of the shelter or much of anything else.”

Andi sat silent. I wish I dared to hug him. Or hug the little boy he had been. Sad, so sad.  His closed-off body language didn’t suggest that he’d welcome any demonstration of her sympathy. 

The captain flicked the remnants of his coffee from the cup into the lake below.

The story:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Available on AMAZON  Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   iTunes   Xin Xii   Google Play 

I’ll Listen All Night ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE SFR Brigade Presents

THE SFRB Presents(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set on another planet in the far future….

In the last few weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from theSFR Galaxy Award wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued.  And as it turned out, they couldn’t leave right away.  So of course the conflict breaks out at the worst possible moment…

I’m skipping quite a bit of the action because SPOILERS.  Continuing on with the middle of the night conversation I started sharing last week, between  Tom and Andi,  as the small group camps by a lake after several days of fleeing the enemy. She can’t sleep and he’s on guard duty.

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighResDeverane set his pulse rifle on the rocky surface and picked up the metal cup that had been sitting on the other side. “I’d offer you a cup of coffee, but since wakefulness is your problem—”

Andi smiled ruefully. “I’d love some, but you’re right. That won’t help my insomnia.”

He drank before setting the cup down, steadying it with one hand as it rocked on the uneven surface. “I have nightmares sometimes, but from my own private collection. Have you ever heard of Merenia 12?”

”Sounds familiar.”  Racking her brain, Andi chased down the reference. “It was one of the first worlds the Mawreg attacked in Sector Fourteen, wasn’t it? A long time ago?”

“Right. I’m the sole survivor.” He stacked a couple of small stones on top of each other, then toppled the tower with a flick of his finger.

“You must have been very young.”  What could it have been like, going through an ordeal like that as a child?

“Maybe a year or two older than Sadu.”  Deverane’s smile was the one Andi had come to read as a social gesture only, containing no amusement. He looked at her briefly, his eyes hooded, then turned his attention back out toward the lake. “My mother made me crawl into the storm cellar—Merenia 12 has huge tornadoes. Anyway, she shut me in there, and she ran to decoy the Mawreg away from me. She told me to wait until Dad came to get me.” Falling silent, Deverane picked up the blaster rifle again, checked the safety and the charge level.

“Then what?” Andi reached out from under the enfolding shawl to lay a hand on his arm, squeezing gently. Maybe he needed to talk about it. And I have to admit I’m curious about the man beneath the taciturn warrior façade.

Raising his coffee cup to his lips, Deverane gave her an unsmiling sideways glance. “Are you sure you want to hear this?”

Andi nodded. If it helps me understand you better, I’ll listen all night. “I’m a good listener.”

WitchesBroomNebulaThe story:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Available on AMAZON  Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   iTunes   Xin Xii   Google Play 

I Can’t Sleep ESCAPE FROM ZULAIRE SFR Brigade Presents

THE SFRB Presents(The link is here to find this week’s excerpts from novels or WIP written by other Science Fiction Romance Brigade group members. A fun way to sample new books!)

From my SFR Galaxy Award winning novel, loosely inspired by the Sepoy incident in 1857 but set on another planet in the far future….

In the last few weeks I gave you the opening of the book and then as Andi has returned from theSFR Galaxy Award wedding of the Planetary High Lord’s daughter to her host’s summer home, she found a squad of Sectors Special Forces soldiers waiting. The officer in charge claimed they’d come to rescue her and needed to leave at once. Unconvinced, she argued.  And as it turned out, they couldn’t leave right away. Andi goes on with her social duties, attending the reception in the evening, where Captain Deverane catches up to her and  asks her to dance. They soon decide to go outside since the dance floor is so crowded. While they’re outside the lights flicker, there’s an explosion and screams. Andi and Deverane escape across the lake in a boat.

I’m skipping quite a bit of the action because SPOILERS. But here’s the beginning of a small scene where Andi and the captain start to become better acquainted. The small group of survivors is camped deep in the jungle by a lake and Andi can’t sleep:

A breeze stirred her hair. Clearly, I’m not going to get back to sleep for a long time. If at all. Wrapping herself in the shawl, she picked her way through the other sleepers to join the captain.

Deverane looked up as she walked over, patting the rock beside him in invitation. “Can’t sleep?”

Shuddering as she sat, Andi rewrapped her shawl more tightly. “You’re surprised I’m having bad dreams?  After everything we saw today? What time is it?”

 Reaching over, he tucked the fabric more securely around her shoulder. “Still middle of the night, I’m afraid. A long time to go until sunrise chases away the nightmares.”

“That’s what I was afraid of. I’m drowsy but scared to risk closing my eyes for more than a second. There are a lot of vivid images forming a queue in my subconscious tonight. These kinds of things don’t affect soldiers, I suppose.” Leaning back, she tilted her head to look at him, eyebrows slightly raised in query.

He continued to gaze across the rippling water and said nothing for a long minute. When he did speak, his voice was low and measured. “I went into the military because the abuse and slaughter of innocent civilians do bother me. At least in the service, I can do something to prevent atrocities.”

Biting her lip, she looked away across the lake. “I’m sorry. Was I being rude? Maybe I’d better go back to bed and leave you alone.”

“No, please stay.” He grabbed at the shawl, which promptly came off her shoulder again. Their hands met as he tried to reposition the wrap and she tried to keep it from falling off.  “I apologize if I sounded abrupt.”

She stared at him for a minute then smiled as she settled back down. “It’s all right. The last few days have been…rough. For both of us.”

Escape-from-Zulaire2HighResThe story:

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

Available on AMAZON  Nook  Kobo All Romance eBooks   iTunes   Xin Xii   Google Play