Saturday, August 7, 2010

Farewell Elizabeth!

Please welcome Berkley Sensation author Elizabeth Jennings back for her last day on the island! She's sharing with us a letter to readers posted in one of Berkley's newsletters and an excerpt from her recent release, Shadows at Midnight. Remember tomorrow I'll announce the winner of a book from Elizabeth's back list so be sure to check back! For more information on purchasing Shadows at Midnight, here's a link to Amazon and to Barnes & Noble. And, Elizabeth's website will be going live in the very near future so hopefully you'll be able to learn even more about this wonderful author soon!

According to a recent review of Shadows at Midnight (The Romance Studio, 5 heart review!) ... “Elizabeth Jennings pens one of the best romantic suspense novels I've read in quite a while....If this were a movie it would be full of the kind of action that would make it a hit. Without the big screen to make this better Ms. Jennings uses the power of her words to convey emotion, action, and suspense better than many do.” For the full review, click here.

Enjoy the letter and excerpt and thank you again to Elizabeth for hanging out with us these past few days!

Dear Reader,

When I was young, I was absolutely in love with the idea of spies. Spying seemed to me the epitome of cool, not to mention sexy. I think Sean Connery as James Bond jump-started my puberty.

As I grew older, my image of a spy morphed from James Bond skiing down slopes firing a machine gun or a Lara Croft-like figure (though alas not even in my dreams do I imagine I could look like Angelina Jolie) capable of taking down her enemies with ease, in heels and backwards, to someone very clever, capable of reading hidden reality, and capable of influencing world events.

I was tapping into something deep in the human psyche because what are we all, basically, if not spies? We all want to know more—more about our loved ones and our friends and neighbors. More about the deep, hidden internal workings of the world. We all sense that there are subterranean currents to our lives which are hard to discern, yet essential to an understanding of our own lives and the world around us. Spies dig deeper, look harder, see more clearly.

Enter Claire Day, Defence Intelligence Agency analyst, smart and dedicated, the heroine of Shadows at Midnight. She loves her job, believes in it, and is damned good at it. I guess Claire’s been brewing in my mind for a long, long time. Claire has a deep-seated drive to know, to understand. She’s trained herself to see and understand more clearly than most and has dedicated her life to that, in the service of her country, understanding full well that spooks rarely have a life outside the job because personal attachments cloud your judgment, throw you off your stride. Not to mention the fact that because of her job as a spook, she is transferred to a different country—often a different continent—every two years. But the job is worth it.

Imagine her grief when on one fateful day in the besieged US Embassy in Laka, the capital of Makongo, a West African country, spent with the only Marine on duty, Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Weston, a bomb blast puts her in a three-month coma. The blast takes away her job, her mental clarity and her memory. She is left a shell of her former self, a woman uncertain of everything, with panic attacks and memory loss.

The strong woman who saw reality so well now cannot see the danger approaching her and is unable to defend herself. That task is taken up by heroic Dan who protects her until she can reconnect with her former self. Together, the former spook and the brave Gunnery Sergeant uncover the cold conspiracy at the heart of the blast and discover that love can blossom even in the most dangerous of circumstances.

Elizabeth Jennings

Shadows at Midnight

Excerpt from Shadows at Midnight

Did we kiss?

The question hung in the air. Claire’s pretty mouth was a shocked O. She hadn’t wanted to ask the question, that was clear. And the strong, controlled woman he’d kissed a year ago would never have asked the question, she’d have finagled the info out of him, cleverly and casually.

But that Claire was gone.

In her place was this pale, shaking ghost. Man, she was in bad shape. So thin he could feel bone when he touched her, bruised-looking eyes with a lost look in them, the very light tan she’d had in Laka gone without a trace, though she now lived in Florida.

This new Claire had had a panic attack when Stavros’s waiter started piling food on the table. Dan could have kicked himself in the ass. It hadn’t even occurred to him that her system simply wouldn’t be able to deal with it. And yet he’d seen how thin she’d become, held her briefly in his arms and felt the fragility. Duh. It meant her system couldn’t handle food.

He’d seen that before. He’d seen every manifestation of PTSD there was. His gunner in Afghanistan, who’d had both legs blown off, had simply turned his face to the wall, unwilling to live. He’d had to be fed parenterally for a couple of months to keep him alive.

Dan hadn’t thought of that. He’d simply wanted to take Claire to a place that was warm and welcoming, where the food was good, and where she could relax. And Stavros’s place fit the bill. Except Stavros overdid the portions, always had. Marines had hearty appetites. And shit-for-brains Dan hadn’t thought of that.

Man, Claire had nearly fainted. She’d been pale before, but as the waiter slid the dishes in front of her, she’d turned the color of ice. He was lucky she hadn’t fainted, or thrown up.

But she’d had a panic attack. And in her panic, she’d blurted out her question and now looked as if she’d accidentally tripped a land mine.

This was going to be hard. But Dan was a Marine. He knew how to do hard.

He picked up her cold, trembling hand.

“I don’t know why I said that.” Claire’s shaking voice was high, breathless. “It’s crazy. I am so sorry. I don’t know where that came from, it just—“

Dan laid a finger across her lips. “Sh.” He couldn’t stand to see that lost look on her beautiful face. “Hush. It’s not crazy. You’re not crazy.” Reluctantly, he lifted his finger from her mouth. She had amazingly soft lips. He remembered that, nightly. “And for your information, we did kiss. Just before you left with Marie.”

“We did? We kissed?” Claire’s huge, silver-blue eyes never left his face, watching him as carefully as if he were a grenade that could blow up at any moment. Or as if he would kiss her again.

Which, well, he wanted to do. Badly. So badly he held his right fist under the table, tightly clenched. It had taken all his willpower—and he had a lot of willpower—to take his finger away from her. He didn’t just want his finger against her mouth. He wanted his own mouth there, too. He wanted to be mouth to mouth, chest to chest, groin to groin, with Claire Day. So close he could breathe for her. So close he could feel her heartbeat.

“Yeah.” His voice was hoarse. He cleared it. “And then you went out and got yourself blown up.”

Her face lightened a little. It wasn’t a smile, but it was the ghost of one. “I’m sure the two events were unrelated,” she said. The big chandelier in the middle of the room reflected off her eyes as she searched his, bright lances of silver. “How did we—how did we get to that point? Had we been…dating? That past week? Because I don’t remember you at all.”

“We didn’t date.” Dan pushed a small plate of baklava a little closer. “Eat some of that. You don’t have to finish it, stop when you don’t want any more. But I want you to eat a little. One. Just a bite or two of one, if you can’t finish it. Please.”

Because now Dan knew what his new mission in life was. Dan had been intensely mission oriented ever since he joined the marines. He focused on his goal and he achieved it.

And now his goal was to take care of this incredible woman. She was magic. Smart and beautiful and strong, brought low by thugs. He’d almost lost her and by some miracle had found her. He wasn’t losing her again. No way.

“Yessir.” A corner of her beautiful mouth lifted. For a second, Dan had a flash of the woman that was, hidden somewhere inside this frail, wounded creature. She wanted out and he wanted to help her get out. “Nobody disobeys the Detachment Commander.”

That was true. In times of danger, the Detachment Commander was Commander in Chief. He was to be obeyed instantly. He was God.

“Damn straight.” Dan cut a corner of a piece of Stavros’s superb baklava. “Now put that in your mouth.”

“Yessir,” she said again. He watched the forkful disappear in her mouth, and envied it. “So.” She tilted her head to one side, considering him. He knew what he was. A battered 34 year old with a metal knee, no spleen, half deaf in one ear, who’d had to start over from scratch. A man who owned his own home and his own business, but who didn’t have looks and didn’t have charm.

She smiled. “I guess it was that old classic. The moonlight, the exotic locale, the gunfire...”

“Exactly.” Great. A flash of the old Claire Day. “Now eat.”


Anonymous said...

I've been a Bond fan for ages...hehe!!

Love spies too and stories about them.

in Germany

Linda Henderson said...

I've always liked spy stories. You should see my James Bond movie collection, and I have Lara Croft too. I enjoyed your excerpt very much and would love to read your book.

seriousreader at live dot com

Jane said...

Congrats again on the new release, Elizabeth.

Cybercliper said...

I can relate to the spy appeal - definitely need intel to win a battle. I grew up reading superhero comics and wanted to be one of the good guys making the world a safer place and I'm pretty sure those childhood dreams had a lot to do with my joining the military right out of high school...annhonATaolDOTcom

Mary G said...

I love that scene where Dan's so gentle with care & coaxing her to eat. Sigh. BTW finished your latest LMR book,Into The Crossfire, and loved it of course.
Thanks again for visiting the island. Don'r enter me please. I have all your books.

Chelsea B. said...

Great excerpt! Thanks for posting :-)

Kara C said...

I am SO excited about this new book! It sounds like the perfect book for me. Can't wait to read it. I'm sure I'll be recommending it to all my friends.

Anonymous said...

sucha hot ecerpt
hot cover
cognrats on teh great recviews


Ina said...

thanks for sharing the excerpt :)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I wanted to be Lora Croft too..... the stunts she did in those movies and she is such a bad ass!

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