Thursday, July 15, 2010

Miltary Heroes

Hi, I'm Kaylea Cross, and I write military romantic suspense featuring alpha male, special ops heroes. Why? They're fascinating. I admire anyone who can make it through that sort of training, let alone because afterwards they go out and put their lives on the line to defend their teammates and country. Plus, who would you rather be stranded with here on the island than a special ops soldier? They're survival experts! That's who I'd want with me, along with a laptop that never ran out of battery power and a never ending stash of dark chocolate :)

I love doing research for my books, and I try to put enough bits and pieces of what I've learned into the story so my readers get a sense of what these incredible soldiers do. There's a lot of overlap in terms of training and skill sets, but each program is distinct and damn near impossible to get through. There's a good reason for that, by the way. The men that make it out of these grueling programs are the ones who are mentally toughest, the ones that won't quit no matter what. It boosts morale and gives their teammates added confidence to know that the man standing next to him won't give up when things go to hell in a training exercise, or out in the field deep in enemy territory. What's more heroic than that?

First up is Dec McCabe, my Navy SEAL lieutenant featured in Cover of Darkness. He's the team leader, used to working covert operations with small squads or platoons behind enemy lines. Dec and his SEAL brethren can operate in any climate on earth in water, air, or on land. A HALO jump out of a cruising C-130 aircraft (picture posted above)? No problem. Locking out of a sub in complete darkness? Piece of cake for these guys. Scaling a cliff in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan? They can do that too. Just read Lone Survivor, by former SEAL Marcus Luttrell.

Blurb: Targeted by a terrorist cell, Bryn McAllister survives a bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut only to be left to die in a desert cellar. When she is rescued by Navy SEAL Lieutenant Declan McCabe and his team, Bryn must rely on the handsome officer to get her to safety. But just when she thinks the nightmare is over, family friend and legendary CIA operative Luke Hutchinson recruits her and McCabe to help track down the terrorist mastermind responsible for the attack.

With Bryn determined to see the terrorist brought to justice, Dec joins up to protect her, prepared to do whatever it takes to keep her safe during their dangerous mission. Battling the explosive attraction between them, Dec fights to keep his distance from her so he can do his job and keep her alive. But when plans falls apart and Bryn is captured, he must make the agonizing choice between his duty as a SEAL and the life of the woman he loves.

Next is Ben Sinclair, a former Army Ranger in No Turning Back. Rangers lead the way, so they're used to being out front of the main body of a force. These elite infantrymen are airborne qualified and work in larger units on all sorts of important missions. If you've seen Blackhawk Down, then you've seen these incredibly brave men in action. Ben's mountaineering expertise really comes in handy in this book.

Blurb: CIA communications expert Samarra Wallace is on the run from a faceless enemy when she learns terrorists have kidnapped and threatened to execute her cousin. She will do whatever it takes to free her, including breaking cover to contact the former teammate she is dangerously attracted to. Now all she has to do is convince him she's not working for the bad guys.

Ex-Army Ranger Ben Sinclair isn’t sure he can trust Sam, but he can't turn her away. Lives are at stake and she may be the only way to capture the terrorist mastermind his team is hunting. Despite his reservations, he finds himself falling for her. But when Sam's innocence is questioned again during a botched operation in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, the team pays a terrible price for trusting her. In the wake of that staggering betrayal Ben must decide if she's the innocent woman he fell in love with, or if she's a traitor who'd set them up to die.

In Relentless, there's Ben's twin brother, Rhys. He served first as a Ranger, then went on to make it into the elite ranks of Delta Force. They're hostage rescue experts and deadly shooters. Men in the Unit often work off the grid in the shadowy realm of black ops, carrying out missions that likely none of us will ever hear about. And they routinely take their own body bags with them.

Blurb: Former Delta Force operator Rhys Sinclair defied the odds by recovering from a traumatic brain injury that should have killed him. Given the chance to repay the beautiful doctor who saved his life by guarding hers, he can’t say no--even if it means facing an unknown threat from the cunning terrorist his CIA-sanctioned team had been hunting in Afghanistan. The catch is, she can't know about it without blowing their cover.

Trauma surgeon Neveah Adams is finally putting her life back together after her horrific experience in Afghanistan. Giving the keynote speech at a medical conference in Vancouver is her starting point. With Rhys there to watch over her she feels safe for the first time in months, and her biggest problem is trying to hide her intense feelings for him.

But Rhys knows something Neveah doesn’t. The terrorist who targeted her in Kabul is coming after her again, and he’s relentless enough to ensure all his past mistakes are erased with one final strike. Now that the nightmare from her past has resurfaced, Neveah has no choice but to put her trust in the one man who has the ability to break her heart, never knowing an assassin is closer than they realize.

Because No Turning Back is book number three and smack dab in the middle of my series, I'm going to give away a digital copy to one commenter here on the island. (But if you'd prefer one of the other books instead, that's fine too.) It's pretty violent and graphic in spots, so be forewarned! Here's a snippet with Ben to whet your appetite.

[Baghdad: late evening]
Still rattled from the bizarre events of the morning, Sam made her way to the hotel Ben had designated for their meeting. Thank God he’d answered her plea for help. When he hadn’t answered right away, she hadn’t been sure he would, but the knowledge she was going to see him gave her a renewed sense of hope and energized her exhausted body.

As soon as she saw him, she was going to fling her arms around him and hold on tight, just as she’d imagined doing a thousand times over the past week. She didn’t care if he thought she was losing it, because once she touched him she’d know for certain she was safe. Starting tonight, they’d be able to do something to help Neveah and the other hostages she’d read about in a paper she’d glimpsed at the market that morning.

Though she’d be glad to see him, she couldn’t help the thread of unease that slid through her at the thought of seeing him face-to-face again.

You’re being stupid. Ben won’t hurt you.

Holding on to that thought, she jogged up the stairwell to the third floor and found her way to the room he’d specified. Pulling out the key that had been left for her at the front desk, she unlocked the door and opened it hesitantly, glancing around in the stygian darkness before stepping inside. Ben wasn’t here yet. She was glad, because she could use a little extra time to pull herself together before he arrived. He was coming, right? He wouldn’t tell her to meet him and then blow her off.

Would he?

She hated the uncertainty. The sound of her even breathing was harsh in the silent room. When the door shut behind her with a soft click, a dim lamp came on across the room. She jerked, blinking in the glare as her heart rate skyrocketed.

“Hi Sam.”

The low cadence of his voice almost made her knees buckle. The hand she’d pressed to her heart fell away in relief. He was really there. She stared across the room at his large frame, folded into a wingback chair. He was an incredibly attractive man, but she’d forgotten how much so. Tall, muscular, black hair short in the back and a little longer in front and pale green eyes. The mellow light from the lamp played across his high cheekbones and square jaw, highlighting the jade of his eyes and the cleft in his chin. He’d shaved off his goatee, but a few days of growth shadowed his features. Even covered with stubble, his face was still enough to stop the breath in her lungs. But his frigid expression lodged it in her tight throat.

Any thought of rushing over to hug him vanished. She swallowed. He didn’t look all that happy to see her. In fact, he seemed pissed off. “H-hi.” Her voice came out as a mere thread. She felt completely off-balance.

He was deceptively relaxed in his seat as he studied her, but a coiled energy seethed beneath his calm surface. He could be out of that chair and on her in a heartbeat, and they both knew it. If it came down to fending him off, she had no chance in hell. He was twice her size and a fifth level black belt, in addition to being a former Army Ranger. The way he watched her with those cool eyes told her just how confident he was of his ability to subdue her if necessary. She wouldn’t have a prayer against him physically, so the only thing left to use as a weapon was her brain. At least there, they were evenly matched.

First off, she had to find out what had put him into this mood she’d never seen from him before. Her pulse drummed against her throat, dread eroding her joy at seeing him.

He shifted a little, and when his hand moved she realized for the first time he was holding a gun. She froze, fear squeezing her dry throat like a fist. She couldn’t take her eyes from the pistol, which she had no doubt was loaded.

“I’m not going to shoot you,” he said laconically, “unless you do something stupid. Since we both know you’re the furthest thing from that, I’m sure you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

She gulped and raised her eyes. What the hell was going on? Ben was holding a loaded gun against her.

“Been busy?” he asked in a mocking tone.

She attempted to pull herself together. Why even bother asking? If he’d followed the transmitter in her phone, then he knew exactly where she’d been the past few days. She refused to let him see he’d rattled her. Her chin came up. “I had a few things to take care of.” Like staying alive.

His short laugh was far from warm. “I bet you did, sweetheart.”

His south Boston accent took the R out of the endearment and made her heart ache. A few short days ago, he’d looked at her with warmth and kindness. Now, the expression in his eyes was almost glacial. Speculative and even angry. He had a right to feel that way after she’d disappeared on the team, but why the gun and the hostility radiating from him? She wished he’d let her explain everything. She needed him to believe her, because she had no one else to turn to.

Gathering her courage, she took a step away from the door, then another, holding that frigid gaze. He sat perfectly still, a tiger waiting to attack its prey. It unnerved her. This was not the jovial, affectionate Ben she’d come to know. He was a total stranger right now.

She stalled out a few steps from him, scrambling for something to say to ease the tension. “Ben, I—”

“Stop right there and hand me your bag.”

She bit her lip and did so, waiting while he emptied the meager contents on the table and went over each item looking for electronic devices. She clenched her teeth. Like she’d even had time to think about bugging anything.

He set the bag beside his chair. “Got your BlackBerry?”

She nodded. “In my pocket.” She was afraid to retrieve it in case it made him aim the gun at her. Her fingers twitched once, then fell still.

He held out one hand, palm up. Her eyes followed it. He had such beautiful, strong hands. She’d spent many hours working next to him, admiring them as they moved over the keyboard and the rest of their equipment. Long, lean fingers, the short-clipped nails blunt and clean. The hands of a healer and a warrior. She remembered the feel of them on her shoulders when he and Rhys came to her apartment after she’d called them for help back at the start of this whole mess. They’d lent comfort and support. Kindness. Now he motioned one impatiently at her.

“Hand it over.”

Careful to move slowly in case he suspected she had a weapon of some kind, she dug it out of her pocket and put it in his broad palm, the brief contact shooting sparks of heat up her arm. She snatched her hand back, hating the fact her body didn’t pick up on the cold front it had walked in on. He seemed remote, but she sensed something seething beneath his composed exterior. Whatever was going on in his head, he had to have something more on his mind than her disappearance. “You seem upset,” she ventured, not knowing what to make of it. If anyone should be upset, shouldn’t it be her?

An awful silence met her words. It expanded until it filled the room and pressed in on her.

“Upset?” he said finally, then shrugged. “I’m not upset. I’m just trying to figure out why you’d fall of the face of the earth exactly when bad shit started happening.”

She licked her lips, not liking what he was inferring. Something else must have happened that she didn’t know about. “I don’t know what I can say that will make you believe me,” she began, stomach squeezing tighter when he didn’t even glance at her. Despair filled her. “I called you because I need your help.”

He set her BlackBerry on the side table next to him and regarded her dispassionately. “That’s nice.”

His remote expression jangled her nerves. What had happened to make him look at her like that?

“You want me to trust you, Sam?”

She frowned. “Of course I do.”

“You’re a bright girl, so I’m sure you can understand why that’s not going to happen. But if you want to try to earn my trust, I’m game.” He tilted his dark head, pale eyes glittering a challenge in the lamp light. “You can start by taking off all your clothes.”

*end of excerpt*

So tell me, which of my heroes would you want to have here on the island with you? I'm all ears :)

I love hearing from readers, so feel free to drop by my website or blog and leave me a note.

Happy reading!

Kaylea Cross :)


Lea said...

Welcome to the island Kaylea!

Oooh I LOVE military heroes and black ops/military suspense is one of my favorite sub-genres.

I think I would like to see Dec on the island, I really like stories about Navy SEAL's. Thanks for visiting and introducing us to your work!

Blanche said...

Hi Kaylea!

These sound like amazing books! I love military heroes too!! Can't wait to read your books! :)

Sherron B said...

Her books are GREAT! I found her books at The Wild Rose Press and took a chance on Cover of Darkness. All I can say is WOW! I couldn't wait for No Turning back and was not disappointed. While waiting I checked out Out of Her League. All were great. Looking forward to reading Renlentless and checking out the other twin. Take a chance you won't be sorry on these books.

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Lea! Thanks for the warm welcome :) Dec would be pretty great with his expertise in the water and all.

Blanche I hope you like them!

Aw, Sherron, thanks for the plug :) I love it when people enjoy my stories.

Mary G said...

Hi Kaylea
Hard to pick ine. I'd probably choose Dec. I read a lot of rom. susp. so military, special ops, navy seal, firefighter alpha heoes are my faves. When people ask me what I'm reading, I tell them that I'm reading about alpha heroes that save the world from the bad guys and still have time for hot monkey sex LOL.

Kaylea Cross said...

Good for you, Mary! Romantic supsense if my favorite genre because it blends both hair-raising danger and action with romance. I love the wrenching emotions that result. Oh, and the monkey sex too :)

Judy said...

I love military romance books!! I would like all of your heroes, but since I can only pick one, it would be Declan!! I love that name, I would not call him Dec :)

Katherine said...

Interesting read! My guilty pleasure is reading books where the snooty uptight guy turns into a charming suave gentleman. :-P
The next on my must read list is a book by Lauren Dane.

On a separate note, I read on BooksOnBoard that Lauren Dane is going to be chatting on their Facebook wall live on Friday! That is awesome! If you're interested in getting details -

Zosia said...

Hi again!

Speaking from experience (as in, I've read them all!), I'm not sure I can choose. I loved Dec, but then I was already in love with Ben before I even got to his book. And then when Rhys broke down in Relentless...well, how can you choose?!

I chose Dec on Cynthia Eden's blog, but after reading I think I love Ben the most, but Rhys is nearly tied for first! But that doesn't mean I don't love Dec...

Oh gee, why do we have to choose? It's not like we're ever going to get any of them, unfortunately.

Congratulations on your latest book - you kept me up until dawn for the third time in a row!

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Judy. I'm glad you love military romance :) Declan's a keeper, for sure. I love Irish names!

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Katherine. I'm more partial to heroes that can protect the heroine no matter what the circumstances. That combo of protectiveness and tenderness just makes me melt.

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Zosia! Thanks so much :)

Ben's ego just got inflated another few notches because you said he's your favorite. He'll be even harder to live with now.

So glad you liked Relentless. I wasn't sure you would, because the pacing's so different from the previous two. But then, I wasn't sure if Ben's book was too graphic. My hubby read it and said he wasn't sure if he felt comfortable sleeping next to me anymore, lol. (That's right babe, sleep with one eye open!)

Zosia said...

If you think you're frightening writing things like that, then I’m worse for liking it! I thought it was amazing that you covered the subjects you did - I can’t stand romantic suspense that glosses over the bad stuff. What I loved about Ben and his book was the combination of things - the realistic situation (I mean, hell, it’s a warzone, things aren’t going to be pretty!); the way the relationship was changed and shaped by what they were caught up in; the fact nothing worked out the way the characters wanted it to - because of the situation they were in. I loved Ben in Dec’s book, and seeing him in action in his own was fantastic.

Rhys’ book was different, but that doesn’t mean it was worse. The suspense built up and up, and as I got to the end I couldn’t stop reading.

Kaylea Cross said...

Zosia, I think Ben was the most fun to write about because he's so full of attitude. But you probably know by now that Luke is my favorite, hands down :)

Just wait until you get to see his softer side in December! (I went through a whole grieving process when I finished edits and galleys on his book.)

Jane said...

Hi Kaylea,
Congrats on the new release. I have a hard time choosing between the twins, so I'll choose Dec to be with me on the island. I am quite partial to SEALs.

Katie Reus said...

I just love that excerpt :) As a fan of Kaylea's books, I can say she really knows her stuff when it comes to military research. And her heroes, um, yummy!

Chelsea B. said...

That was a great excerpt, and all of them sound fabulously yummy, but I would have to choose Declan :-)

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Jane :) Yeah, it's tough to choose between the twins, especially since they're so close.

Hi Katie! You sweetie pie. Thanks for dropping by.

Okay, Chelsea, I'll loan you Dec for a while :)

Kaylea Cross said...

Okay gang. I've put everyon'e name in a hat, and...Mary G, you're my winner! Please e-mail me at to let me know which book you'd like (I was going to give away No Turning Back, but if you like Dec it makes sense to give you Cover of Darkness instead.)

Thanks again for popping by, everyone, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Kaylea Cross :)

Mary G said...

OMG Kaylea
Thanks so much.

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