Ride Out the Storm, An In-Between Book in the SSI Series

Out now! Ride Out the Storm is Book 6.5 in the Security Specialists International series.

Question: Why write a novella and not another long book?

Answer: This book does several important things to segue from SSI in Idaho to SSI-East in Osprey’s Point in Upper Peninsula Michigan:

  1. Show what happened to Dr. Anton Vasilov and Lucia Aznar after they escaped Mexico (An Ill Wind);
  2. Show the event which Tara and DJ discussed In Chapter 17 in Firestorm;
  3. Reintroduce the main characters at SSI-East – Earl Blackhawk and his wife Tessa, Risto and Callie Smith, and the four Walsh brothers, Loren, Paul, Devin, and Andy, who are stationed there;
  4. Introduce, in general, some of the year-round Osprey’s Point residents who will make appearances in the next four novels (yes, the remaining Walsh boys are going to get their HEAs); and,
  5. Take care of one of the hanging plot threads from An Ill Wind — what happened to El Hacha (Jaime Aznar, Lucia’s uncle) and to El Halcon (Raimundo Chavez)?

For an approximately 34,000-word novella, it manages to cover a lot of territory. And most importantly, it will prepare my readers for the next four books.

So, what’s this book’s action? Here’s the blurb:

They escaped the cartel in Mexico.

Three months after a dangerous and chaotic flight to freedom, Dr. Anton Vasilov and his new wife Lucia have settled into the small-town life of Osprey’s Point. Courtesy of SSI, Anton now runs the town’s sole medical practice. Trained chef Lucia is cooking part-time at Earl’s Diner.

They believe they’ve finally found a safe haven from Lucia’s vicious uncle and his cartel henchmen.

Gaining the town’s trust might take longer.

Although the isolated lakefront community welcomes the new chef, Anton isn’t as lucky. The year-round residents, mostly hardened military vets, have a harder time accepting him. Anton is determined to gain their trust and be part of the town, because he and Lucia have a baby on the way.

However, their safe haven may not be safe, after all.

Worry creeps into their newfound happiness when a stranger comes to town. Has the cartel found them? As the SSI operatives and vets consider tactics, Anton formulates his own plan. Because the ex-Russian special forces soldier will do whatever it takes to protect his wife and unborn child.

Fighting for their lives and their home, Anton and Lucia must ride out the storm one more time.

Buy Links:

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/mYZnQY

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ride-Storm-Security-Specialists-International-ebook/dp/B094NT7V1P/ref=sr_1_23?crid=3T2XYDWNLJIAM&dchild=1&keywords=monette+michaels&qid=1620826256&s=books&sprefix=Monette%2Caps%2C209&sr=1-23

Other Buy Links shall be added as they go live! Thanks.

It’s Been Awhile

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared what’s going on in my world — writing and otherwise.  So, since I am procrastinating (a COVID-19 pandemic side effect, I’m afraid), I decided to update the look of my blog.

What do you think?  The other theme was dark and hard to read — and I decided I needed something brighter with a flower. So this is what you get … until I change my mind. 😉 By the way, the garden and statue are located on the approach to my front door.

On the family and personal side, my hubby is fine. Some of my long-time followers might recall he had heart-bypass surgery in 2015. Thus, we are being careful and staying close to home. When we do go out, we wear our masks.

PSA: Please, wear a mask — you protect those around you. COVID-19 carriers can be asymptomatic.Thus, everyone wearing a mask has proven to be the most effective way to keep the spread of this deadly virus down.Trust me on this — I’m married to a pathologist! I am well-informed. Daily!

We also wash and sanitize our hands — and anything else that is washable or can be sanitized. Our house is a safe zone. Once inside, my husband is assured of not getting infected. This is because I am obsessive about wiping down door handles and anything that comes from the outside that could carry microbes be they viral or bacterial.

Okay, I’ve always been that way — but I am really on it now.

Our son has moved back in with us after being away for four years. His employment had ended, and he was looking for a new job and then the pandemic hit. Since living in Silicon Valley is expensive while unemployed and no new job lurked on the horizon, he left California (the day Newsom shut it down!!). I sweated bullets each day he was on the road, hoping he could find places to eat and a place to sleep at night. He was fully prepared to sleep in his car and had provisions if nothing was open. Luckily, for him but not for the poor inhabitants of the states he drove through, most of the states he passed through had not shut down (this was in March) for the virus (except for Illinois and Indiana where we live). It is nice to have him home where I know he is safe. Of course, he’d rather have a job and his own place to live. And I can understand that.

~~ Note to potential employers:  I can vouch for him — because I raised him. 🙂 He is a hard worker and reliable. He adapts well and is very creative. He is willing to relocate. Big Data is his thing. He’d be considered a Senior Programmer and is willing to learn “new” things. He has three Bachelor of Science Degrees — Accounting and Finance from IU’s Kelley School of Business and Computer Information Technology (computer software engineering) from Purdue — and also has a bunch of certifications (Sales Force and Agile come to mind). See? He likes learning!! ~~

As for the writing front, which is why most of you follow me, I am currently working on my fourth What A Witch book in the Magic and Mayhem Universe. What A Witch Finds will take up where What A Witch Desires left off, with Paul, the pooka, finding his mate and carrying her to Dale and Bree’s house. This book will come out in October of 2020 along with a slew of other fun and fabulous Magic and Mayhem Universe books.

After that book is completed, I will write an SSI novella, Ride Out the Storm, # 6.5.

This book will reintroduce SSI-East in the Upper Peninsula Michigan. Risto Smith is in charge of SSI-East, located in Osprey’s Point, and his biggest concern at the moment is his wife Callie is due to have their first baby any day.The novella will also reintroduce Big Earl and his wife Tessa, the four Walsh brothers who’ve yet to find their perfect partners, and Dr. Anton Vasilov and his new wife Lucia.

The conflict in this novella arises from Anton and Lucia’s past as depicted in An Ill Wind, SSI #5. When Lucia’s cartel-connected relatives hit Osprey’s Point, Anton will have his hands full delivering Callie’s baby and protecting his own pregnant wife.

After Ride Out the Storm is finished, I will consult the four Walsh brothers to see who wants his happy-ever-after first. For Book 7, I know who the heroine will be and what chases her to Osprey’s Point to find her future, and I’m leaning toward one of the brothers over the other three. He has yet to convince me that he should get the girl. Book 7 will be titled:  Before the Storm.

You can keep up-to-date on what’s next on my web site on the Upcoming page.

 

Firestorm, Only Three More Days

Book 6 in the Security Specialists International series will go live on Monday, January 13th!!
Blurb:

She’s a survivor.Former Air Force pilot Tara Nightwalker survived wartime flying only to come home to a civilian life that was anything but safe. Two years after surviving a brutal kidnapping, it’s time to get on with her life. She finds a job in Idaho as a park ranger and wildland firefighting instructor. After what she’s been through, men aren’t appealing at all. Not until she meets SSI operative Price Teague. He’s strong. Honorable. A warrior. And she knows in her gut … he’s the one.

The only problem is—he doesn’t seem interested.

He’s a patient warrior.

Price Teague envies his fellow SSI operatives who’ve found women to love, because he sure hasn’t been as lucky. Not until the tough, beautiful firefighting instructor comes into his life. The day that some bastard in the woods shoots at them, Tara is cool, calm, and courageous in the face of danger. He recognizes instantly this is the woman he wants.

He’s usually a direct-action sort of guy, but he can see Tara is wary about men. Maybe she’s been hurt in the past. He’ll take it slow … even if it kills him. But when her kidnapper escapes prison, bent on revenge, Price throws out the slow-and-steady approach. Time is not on his side, and there’s no way he’ll let anyone hurt her.

Danger is all around. Then fire season kicks into gear.

Sneak Peek: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/KtP1i1Tg

Universal Book Buy Link:  https://books2read.com/u/bM9jPV

 

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Yes, I Am Alive and Writing

I have to confess, I am horrible at social media. I apologize for not being a regular blogger. To be quite frank, if I am going to create, I’d rather be spending that time on writing novels.

If I didn’t have my Gal Friday, the lovely Janet Snell, doing regular fun posts to my Author FaceBook page (you are following that page, right? — if not here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/authormonettemichaels), I most likely would not interact as much as I do with my fans. I do update my website when there’s something to update and that’s usually when a book is coming out. Same goes for my newsletter (you are signed up for my newsletter, right? — if not, see the link in the right-hand column). With current FaceBook changes and a concentration on Groups over Pages and Timelines, I may have to bite the bullet and create a Group to go with my Author FaceBook Page (picture me hiding in a corner, curled up in a ball; yes, I am a social media introvert).

Since I am here, I bet you’re wondering when the next SSI book, Firestorm, Book 6 in the Security Specialists International series, will be out. If you’re already a fan, you’re aware I put this book up for pre-order back when An Ill Wind came out. At that time, not one word had not been written in Firestorm, but I was advised by my distributor that pre-orders were the way to go even if the book wouldn’t be out for months and months.

Taking this advice–because what do I know about marketing? (less than nothing)–I set the release date on the pre-order as December 1, 2019.

Good news is  — I will beat that, but can’t tell you by how much.  Because—I have a drop-dead deadline to upload a novella for Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe by September 30, 2019 (publication date, October 21, 2019). That puts Firestorm on the back burner for now while I write What A Witch Desires, Book 3 in the What a Witch series.

Be assured, Firestorm is done, BUT not “done” done.

You all know I tend to write long. Mostly because I write layered novels with a romance plot, a suspense plot, and an action plot. This book was supposed to be less lengthy at around 75,000 words. Ah, no. Final first draft exceeded that by about 10,000 words and once I revise (will get to that in a moment), it could be over 100,000 words. Since I am not the fastest writer (cough, life intrudes, cough), it took me awhile especially coming off a long book four in the Prime Chronicles series.  Also, switching back and forth between two series is often a culture shock and I have to get back into the series world I am currently writing (my SSI world bible is in two HUGE binders, see picture below).

I was in the early revision process for Firestorm when I realized I needed to write What A Witch Desires. Like now! Sigh.

Happily, the novella is coming swiftly (13,000 words in less than a week and about to the half way point, so yay!), and I hope to soon be back to whipping my SSI novel into shape.

And, yes, it needed a good spanking. The story is there (my crit buddy and two beta-readers have said so); it just needs a tweak here, a total rethinking on an aspect of a character there, maybe some more nuances here and there, layering in of more scene setting, cutting repetition, etc. — what can I say? It’s a process. Almost as hard and involved as writing the book in the first place. Good news is, I am much faster at editing and revising than I am at writing a full first draft.

The take-away from today’s blog is the following:  (a) Moni is a slow writer , but a fast reviser/editor; (b) she needs to get her life more organized (and since she is A-type, that’s saying a lot); (c) she sucks at social media; and (d) she will have two books out in the latter part of 2019 (yay!). If you need more updates, follow me on FaceBook. If you want a sneak preview of Firestorm later this summer, sign up for my newsletter. Thanks for reading and being a fan.

SSI Bible (two binders) and the Firestorm Binder

 

 

Eye of the Storm, Security Specialists International Book 1, for FREE at iBooks

eyecover_240_x_349 I am so excited to announce that the first book in the Security Specialists International series, Eye of the Storm, had been chosen as part of iBooks Discover a New Author for Free feature.

From December 1 thru 15, you can go to iTunes Store and download Eye of the Storm for zero dollars.

Here is the LINK to Eye of the Storm on iBooks (from there you can go to the store to purchase).

Here is the LINK to all my books at iBooks.

Blurb:

Keely Walsh has three doctorates, five older brothers and has never met a situation she couldn’t handle. While consulting with the NSA, she discovers sensitive government information indicating her brother, a private security operative, is in danger. Keely travels to the dangerous Triple Frontier in South America to warn him and his colleagues and finds the last thing she expects–a man who sends icy shivers down her spine even as he lights every one of her fires.

Ren Maddox, co-owner of Security Specialists International, a security firm that works for large corporations and governments, is on an intelligence-gathering mission for the US government when a petite strawberry blonde armed with a Bren Ten and an attitude ten feet tall pops out of the Argentine jungle with a warning of imminent danger. The fact she is one hundred percent correct shocks him to his socks. The fact she is Tweeter Walsh’s baby sister and can fight like the fiercest Marine is beside the point. No one who looks like Keely should ever be in danger. And once he gets her out of the current situation, he’ll make it his life’s work to protect the feisty, sexy, little woman from any and all danger.

One alpha male. One determined and independent female. One hot, tumultuous relationship.

Excerpt:

“Pepsi, sis?” Tweeter called out from the bar.

“Yes, please.” She opened the bag and found the container with the burger. Opening it, she took a bite and started to chew. “Yuummm.”

Ren laughed at her. He sat next to her, his thigh touching hers. “I’m hungry, too. Can I have a bite?”

Was he teasing her? If he was, it was irresistible. She held her burger up for him. He leaned in closely and his mouth descended, first taking a nip of the tip of a one of her fingers then a bite of the burger from the spot she’d torn into.

“Good—to both bites,” he murmured, licking his lips. His smiling gaze captured hers and held her prisoner.

Tweeter put the Pepsi on the table, breaking the intense connection. “Who wants to order from room service?”

Vanko said, “No need. Teresa is bringing up several of the burgers and some other dishes she thought we big strong men would like.”

“She’s nice—don’t take advantage of her.” Keely eyed Vanko and Tweeter—and then Ren. She wanted to make it clear the Argentinean girl was off-limits. Teresa was too innocent for the likes of these warriors. Vanko was a lady killer. Her brother, all her brothers, had a similar reputation. As for Ren, his files at the FBI and CIA and all his military records classified him as practically a monk. He was acting against type in his recent assiduous care of her, and she found it hard to believe that she was woman enough to change his lifelong relationship patterns.

But as with any statistical pattern, there were always outliers. Outliers were unpredictable and never followed the rules.

“She is a nice girl,” Vanko said. “But she is just that—a girl. I am like a big brother.”

“Uh-huh, pull the other one,” she said around a bit of beef, “she thinks you’re a hunk.”

Vanko laughed. “I am flattered. What do you think, Keelulya?”

“She doesn’t think of you at all.” Ren grabbed her hand and brought her burger back to his mouth, taking another bite.

“Stop eating my food.” She snatched her hand back. “Or … or … I’ll eat some of yours.”

“You can eat anything of mine you’d like.” He winked at her.

She choked, coughed, then blushed, quickly taking a sip of Pepsi. She’d have to reread his files, maybe she’d missed something about him being a rogue—either that or he was the statistic that disproved the numbers.

Tweeter slapped Ren on the back of the head, hard enough for Ren’s head to jerk forward. “Stop talking dirty to my sister.”

“She knows what I meant.” Ren looked at her and smiled. “Isn’t that right, Keely?”

Oh yeah, he was definitely flirting. Her gaze inadvertently drifted to the front of his lightweight trousers. His package made Trujo’s goon’s Baja-sized bulge look dinky. She licked suddenly dry lips and reached again for her soft drink.

“Imp, I’m telling Dad and all the brothers. Stop looking at Ren as if he were Christmas, Easter and your frigging birthday all rolled into one.”

She looked at her brother and stuck her tongue out.

*********

 

And you can still download two SSI novellas, Stormy Weather Baby (Book 1.5) and Storm Front (Book 2.5) for FREE at Liquid Silver Books.

Happy Holidays from iBooks, Liquid Silver Books, and me!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside Blog Hop

Security Specialists International, Book 2.5

Security Specialists International, Book 2.5

Welcome to the Just Romance Me “Baby’ It’s Cold Outside Blog Hop”!

If you began here, you might want to go back and start at the beginning HERE and visit all the wonderful authors’ blogs and get chances to win fabulous prizes.  What a way to start off the new year and stay inside nice and warm while hopping.

I don’t have any secret recipes for those cold nights — other than a nice shot of single malt scotch always works for me … so I decided to share a brrr-cold rescue scene from my romantic thriller — FREE for download novella — Storm Front, Book 2.5 in the Security Specialists International series.

Security Specialists International, Book 1.5

Security Specialists International, Book 1.5

You can download this novella and my other SSI novella, Stormy Weather Baby, Book 1.5, at my publisher’s site.  Yes, they are both free.  My gifts to you.  And if you like them, please give my other books in the SSI series a chance, Eye of the Storm, Cold Day in Hell, and my newest release, Weather the Storm.  They are all available for download at my publisher and Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and other online retailers. Print books are available at Amazon.

ON-BLOG GIVEAWAY(in addition to the one for the hop in general):

MAKE A COMMENT  — AND GET A CHANCE TO WIN A DOWNLOAD OF MY NEWEST SSI BOOK, WEATHER THE STORM.  Winner will be announced after the end of the blog hop.

Excerpt:

As soon as Earl felt the slack, he kicked off the side of the ravine and covered the ten feet or so with one kick-off. He hung over Tessa’s body for a second before making a controlled landing on the ledge next to her. The ledge was solid, thank the fuck.

“Tweeter, the ledge can hold us both,” Earl said. “Come on down.”

As Tweeter made his final descent, Earl tugged and received more slack and then bent over Tessa’s still body. She lay on her front, her face turned to the side. Her eyes were shut, her lashes lined with ice. Her skin was whiter than the snow she lay upon.

“Tessa?” No response.

He brushed the snow away from her face with gloved hands. Removing one glove, he checked for a pulse and found it. He sighed with relief. “She’s alive.” He checked her neck and determined it wasn’t broken as far as he could tell. “Neck doesn’t seem to be broken, but I want a collar down here. Tweeter, a hat … need a hat here.”

Most heat loss was from an uncovered head. He needed to get her warm ASAP. Hypothermia was the biggest danger at this point.

Tweeter hunkered down next to him and put his own stocking cap on Tessa. His climbing partner had on a balaclava just as he did and would be fine without the extra layer of wool.

“If you feel it’s safe, then lift her,” Tweeter said. “I’ll get this solar blanket under her so we can wrap her in it.”

Earl nodded. “Tessa, sweetheart? Talk to me.”

Still no response, and she wasn’t shivering. Not a good sign. Even unconscious her body would shiver to produce heat. Her lips were blue. Her skin looked dehydrated, and he remembered she had already shown signs of altitude sickness.

He felt under her coat and swore. “Godammit, she’s soaking wet.” He looked at Tweeter whose face was as grim as he felt. “Probably from the exertions of trying to climb out.”

Tweeter nodded. “No matter how she got wet, it isn’t good. We need to move, Earl.” The man grabbed the collar sent down to them and gently placed it around her neck.

“Let’s do it.” Earl lifted Tessa’s limp body into his arms and laid her on her back on the blanket Tweeter had spread on the ground.

“Fuck me.” Tweeter’s curse said it all.

Tessa’s clothing was torn and bloody.

They quickly wrapped her like a mummy in the high-tech sheet which would keep her from losing any more body heat.

“God, sweetheart, look at what you’ve done to yourself.” Earl lifted the edge of the blanket just enough to slide his hand inside. He quickly, by touch alone, checked her ribs, collar bone, and pelvic bones for breaks. Then he moved to her legs. “No obvious breaks that I can find.”

SSI had a fully equipped medical facility run by Lacey Jones, a trauma nurse and the wife of Quinn, Ren’s third in command. She could check Tessa out more fully later.

“She didn’t climb all the way up from the stream bed.” Tweeter looked over the edge of the ledge upon which they perched.

Earl retucked the blanket more closely around Tessa. He brushed the back of his fingers over her icy cold cheek. Her lashes fluttered—the first sign of movement from her since they’d gotten there.

Thank you, God.

“Looks like the SUV got hung up on a tree. I see an area where some roots are still hanging out from the side of the ravine. It’s fresh damage.” Tweeter turned to look at Earl. “She was lucky to have gotten out before the vehicle fell to the bottom.”

She had to have been terrified, but she’d done what she had to do. His woman had grit.

“Yeah.” Earl stroked her face once more before putting his glove back on. “We can find out exactly what happened later. Let’s move.”

The wind gusted even harder now than it had on their descent. Tweeter had to fight to stand upright on the ledge. Climbing out with an unconscious woman wouldn’t get any easier the longer they waited.

“How do you want to do this?” Tweeter eyed the climb. “Sides of the ravine are too rough to haul her up. She has enough lacerations.”

“I’ll take her on my back.” Earl began to fashion a rope harness with the extra rope he’d carried down. “You can tie her to me by my harness.”

As Earl quickly fashioned a torso harness with doubled lengths of rope, Tweeter hunched down by Tessa and commented, “I did this with Keely when we went rock climbing one summer in Montana.”

Earl put the make-shift harness on Tessa with Tweeter’s help and tightened it.

“Keely sprained her ankle,” Tweeter added. “She rode my back on the way up and out. But she was conscious and short and only weighed about ninety pounds at the time. Tessa’s almost six foot and weighs maybe one forty.”

“I can do it.” Earl brushed his lips over Tessa’s forehead. Other than the one fluttering of lashes, she hadn’t made any other motions the whole time they’d been there. “I’ve carried wounded soldiers on my back, with sixty-pound packs, up the side of mountains in Afghanistan in worse conditions than this.”

Those times hadn’t been a walk in the park, but they had been crucial and necessary. Carrying Tessa to safety fit into the same category—life and death.

He pulled the wool neck scarf off his neck and wrapped it around her lower face to give her more warmth. “You’ll have to get her on my back and then make sure she’s tied to me securely. The wind’s vicious.” He didn’t want her torn from him with a savage gust.

“I can do that.” Tweeter double-checked all the harness knots. “Knots I’m good at.”

At Tweeter’s last words, Tessa blinked and slitted her eyes open. What little body heat they’d managed to salvage for her had helped her rouse a bit.

Earl murmured, “Hey there, sweetheart. Welcome back.”

“Cold. Sick…” she muttered and moved her head from him to Tweeter and then back. “Where—” Her voice trailed off and she closed her eyes.

“Tessa! Stay with me, baby. Where do you hurt?” Earl sat and gathered her into his arms, adding his warmth to the solar blanket.

Her eyelids fluttered, but remained closed. She licked her lips, which were tinged blue and very chapped. “All … over. Sick … threw up.” She coughed, and Earl tilted her body so she could breathe easier. “Do I have … flu?”

Earl groaned. “No, baby.” She wasn’t completely with them. Delirium wasn’t good. He looked into Tweeter’s worried eyes. “Let’s haul ass.”

Then Earl spoke into his head set. “Ren, have someone get an IV ready. She needs fluids.”

She’d been sick before she left the Lodge; he’d smelled it in her bathroom. If she’d been sick again on the mountain, she was in danger of not only hypothermia, but hypovolemia and possibly hypovolemic shock. A deadly double whammy. He’d lost men that way on forced marches at high altitude in a war zone. He wasn’t losing her.

“On it,” Ren’s calm voice replied. “Price is setting it up now in the Hummer. We have heat packs ready to go also. Just get her up here. Weather’s deteriorating. A new storm front is moving in with blizzard warnings for the rest of today and tonight.”

“Roger that,” Earl replied. “Hold her up for a second, Tweeter.”

Tweeter took over bracing Tessa as Earl stood. “Okay, I’ve got her.” Earl pulled Tessa up and held her against his body, her front to his front. She was as limp as an over-cooked noodle. “Can you hold her upright while I turn and take her on my back?”

“Got it. Go.” Tweeter encircled Tessa from behind and braced her against his body.

Earl turned his back to them and stooped. “Lean her on me and brace her. I’ll pick her up and then you can tie her to me.”

“Got her, Earl,” Tweeter confirmed.

“W-w-what’s … happening?” Tessa slurred the words.

“Shh, it’s okay, Tessa. Earl’s giving you a piggyback ride.” Tweeter’s explanation was spoken in a gentle voice as he positioned Tessa for Earl to pick her up.

“Yippee.” Her tone held no inflection, and her voice was breathy. She could speak, but aphasia wasn’t far off. Without warmth and proper hydration, her brain would shut down unnecessary systems in order to protect the crucial internal organs to maintain life.

Earl reached for her legs, hooked his arms under her knees, then lifted her onto his back. Tweeter immediately began to secure her rope body harness to Earl’s climbing one. Tessa’s head lay on his shoulder, her cheek turned toward his neck. The scarf he’d wound around her face must have slipped, because he could feel her labored breathing against his neck.

“Tweeter, we’re gonna lose her,” Earl rasped. His fear for her well-being tinged his voice.

“She’s on,” Tweeter said. “Let go. I need to secure her legs to your waist, so they won’t impede your climbing.”

Earl straightened, and once he was sure her body was tied to him, he let go of her knees one at a time. Tweeter fashioned a sling to support her bent legs and attached it to her rope harness and then to the D-rings on Earl’s climbing harness.

“Her torso and legs are secure, but what about her arms?” Tweeter had come to stand next to him. “She can’t hold on. She’s unconscious again. Do you want me to tie her arms around your neck?”

“Yeah, but tie her wrists to the D-rings on my shoulder,” Earl suggested. If he were on level ground, he would’ve just held her arms around his waist, but he needed both arms for climbing.

“Gotcha.” Tweeter quickly tied Tessa’s wrists to D-rings on each of Earl’s shoulders. “I made sure the ropes were around her gloves and loose enough not to cut off circulation.”

Neither man spoke the thought Tessa might not have any feeling by this point in any of her limbs. Paresthesia had probably set in once Tessa had gotten cold and then been exacerbated by her loss of fluids.

“Yo, on belay,” Earl informed the men on top.

“Belay on. Climb,” a Walsh twin said.

“Climbing,” Earl replied.

When he felt the tightening of the slack in his ropes, he found a foothold off to the right of the ledge and stepped off the ledge, first his right foot and then his left. He found his balance at a slight angle from the rock wall, and then, using all his upper-body strength and training, began to climb up the wall. The men on top picked up the slack and assisted, but much of the work was still on him. He used natural footholds when he could, but relied on the men at the top to make sure the rope stayed taut as he walked his way up the side of the ravine.

Tessa’s extra weight, coupled with gravity, made the climb a challenge. The wind didn’t help the situation as the gusts shoved him around on the unforgiving, cold, wet wall.

Earl ignored the strain on his hands, arms, and shoulders and concentrated on using all the skills he’d learned in the Army. He’d be sure to drop his trainers a thank you for pushing him to his limits during Mountaineering School. Failure had not been an option then, and it wasn’t one now.

Tweeter climbed easily and effortlessly at his side, using a hand to keep Tessa’s head from flopping around even with the neck brace.

The computer geek brother of Keely Walsh-Maddox might never have served in the military, but Earl would take the man climbing in a war zone any damn time. The man was a cool customer under pressure, and if Earl hadn’t been here, he didn’t doubt the youngest Walsh son would’ve gotten Tessa up the side of the ravine all by himself.

A slurred “sorry” was murmured against his neck. Tessa had roused again as she was jostled about on his back. Her bruised and lacerated front had to be hurting. He wanted to howl at the pain he was causing her.

“Shh, we’ll talk later, sweetheart.” Earl paused long enough to turn his head toward her face. Tessa had somehow raised her head and was looking at him through slitted lashes covered in ice crystals. He smiled with what he hoped was reassurance. “Close your eyes, Tessa. You’re safe with me.”

She blinked and buried her face against his neck with a deep sigh. She went even limper against him, and he began climbing faster.

Ren looked over the edge, his facial expression fierce, and spoke over the headsets. “You’re close. Price, Paul, and I have you. Tweeter, Loren has you. Let us do all the work once you get to road level.”

“Roger that.” Earl kept climbing. Tweeter echoed him a second later.

When he and Tweeter reached road level, two sets of hands pulled him and Tessa over the edge and onto the top of the small stone wall. Earl let Ren and Price unhook Tessa and take her off his back while he held on to the wall.

His body was wracked with shudders as the combination of fatigue and stress hit him. His rasping breaths showed as little puffs of white in the frigid air. He took the short respite to regain control over his body after the arduous climb in blizzard conditions. Even now, he could barely see ten feet in front of him, and the storm was getting worse.

Once Tessa was freed from his back, he swung over the wall and stood. Shoving the effects of the climb aside, he held out his arms to Ren. “Give her to me.”

Ren handed her over, and Earl jogged toward the Hummer they’d come in. It was barely visible through the sideways sheets of snow.

Pacing him, Ren said, “We set up the back seat. Lay her on the reclined one. Get the IV started, and then we’ll head back to the Lodge. Short clock, guys. The storm front is moving through now.”

“Roger that.” Earl lifted Tessa into the back of the Hummer. Price had beaten them to the vehicle and was ready to take her inside. Earl followed quickly and began to strip the wet clothing off Tessa.

Price moved to help, but Earl glared. “I got this. Thanks. Get the IV started, okay?”

Price nodded and began testing for a vein on the arm closest to him. He swore like the SEAL he’d been. “Shit, her veins are sunken. She’s too dehydrated. Her blood volume sucks. Butterfly it?”

“Do it.” Earl grunted as he wiped the chilled dampness off Tessa’s skin with one of the extra blankets in the Hummer and began to stuff Tessa into a man’s thermal long-sleeved shirt and long johns. “Somebody get some dry socks on her and warm gel packs on her extremities.”

He wasn’t sure who responded, but soon Tessa had on two pairs of men’s thermal socks with hot gel packs between the layers on the soles of her feet.

Tessa moaned in pain. He knew how it must feel—like hot pokers stabbing her feet―but she needed to get warmed up. He took care of the hand Price wasn’t working on, using two more socks with a hand warmer between them. With the butterfly stick going into the vein on the top of her hand, the IV fluid should help warm that hand up.

“Any more blankets?” Earl sat next to Tessa on the side that didn’t have the IV. He opened his jacket and the heat he’d built up climbing almost created mist in the cold air coming from outside the Hummer. He pulled Tessa with Price’s help into his arms and pulled his jacket over her as much as he could.

Price wrapped two more blankets over Tessa and tucked a larger warm gel pack under the blankets at her waist to help with the warming. “Best we can do for now. You all set?”

“Yeah, let’s go.” Earl rubbed his cheek over the top of Tessa’s head as it lay on his shoulder. He angled his face and kissed her cold forehead. “Hang in there, sweetheart.”

Price nodded, shut the rear passenger side door, and climbed into the front next to Ren. The other men had already started back to the Lodge to make sure all was ready to receive Tessa.

As Ren sped up the road, the Hummer’s heating system began to pour out its heat.

Earl was hotter than hell, but he could care less. Tessa had started to moan and shiver. The heating packs and the fluids and electrolytes were doing their job. He only hoped they’d gotten to her in time and had managed to forestall any permanent damage.

Price looked over the back of the passenger seat. “How’s her face? Any noticeable frost bite?”

Earl tipped up Tessa’s head and looked. He let out a sigh. “Looks okay. She must have just fallen unconscious right before we reached her. She climbed for a ways, so she had some circulation and heat production while she was exerting.”

“It was hard.” Tessa’s eyes remained closed and her voice was weak, but the slurring was almost gone. “Thought I was gonna croak. So sick. So tired.” She let out a sigh and snuggled into Earl’s chest. “Warm. Nice. Smell good.” Then she yawned like a kitten who’d tired itself out and relaxed bonelessly into him.

“God, baby.” Earl kissed the top of her head.

Price looked from Earl to Tessa and then back. “You claiming her?”

“Yeah.” Earl glared at the too-handsome man. “You got a problem with that?”

From what Earl had heard from the other SSI men, Price had nailed every eligible female over twenty-one and under thirty-five in Idaho County and points north to Coeur d’Alene. The man wasn’t getting anywhere near Tessa if he could help it.

“I don’t poach.” Price turned to look out the front as they approached the Lodge’s underground garage area. “But it’s her choice, ya know. I’ll be around in case she decides she doesn’t want to be claimed.”

Ren shook his head. “Price, do you have a death wish?”

“Nope, just sayin’ little Tessa hasn’t agreed to take on Big Earl.” Price sounded smug.

“She will.” Earl kissed her cheek and nuzzled her ear. “She likes how I smell.”

“She will.” Earl kissed her cheek and nuzzled her ear. “She likes how I smell.”

That admission had set it in stone as far as he was concerned. She recognized him on some primal level just as he recognized her. She was his, and he was hers, and all that was left were the details of how soon she’d move in with him.


JustRomance.me Bloghops

SSI Storm Stories Now Available in Print

MM_StormStories_600x960 This is now in AVAILABLE in print at Amazon.
Storm Stories at Amazon.com.

This print book contains, Stormy Weather Baby (SSI Book 1.5) and Storm Front (SSI Book 2.5).  Nothing has been changed in either story. This print edition is just a compilation of the two original novellas.  The novellas are still FREE in various e-book formats at my publisher, Liquid Silver Books. This print edition was for those fans who like to hold a print book in their hands.

However you read my books, thank you.

Here is the FREE Reads link at Liquid Silver if you wish to download the two novellas for FREE in the e-book format of your choice.

Free Storm Front, SSI Novella — Now Available

MM_SSI_StormFront_240x360

The Storm Front free novella is now available at my web site. You may also click HERE to be taken to it directly.

Blurb:

Less than one week after Earl Blackhawk helped Risto Smith and Callie Meyers fight off a Colombian drug lord in Osprey’s Point, Michigan, he travels to Idaho to act as Risto’s best man at his marriage to Callie. There he meets Callie’s friend, Tessa Andrews. When he’d asked Callie to find him a woman just like her, he’d been teasing … sort of. but Callie had taken him seriously and he was glad she had.

Tessa comes to Idaho with a problem dogging her heels. A cyberstalker has resurrected a past she thought deeply buried. A past any decent man, a man such as Earl, would take one look at and run the other way.

But then, Tessa has never met a man like Earl. He’s more than attracted to Tessa, feels instantly protective of her, and nothing and no one will harm her while he’s around.

Tessa doesn’t believe she deserves a happy ever after, and when Earl and some others see the damaging images her cyberstalker sends her, she runs into the teeth of a storm front and deadly peril.

Reading Order:

The reading order of the Security Specialists International series is as follows:

  • Eye of the Storm, Book 1;
  • Stormy Weather Baby, Book 1.5 (available as a Free download at my web site);
  • Cold Day in Hell, Book 2;
  • Storm Front, Book 2.5

Great Romantic Suspense Beach Reads

Welcome to the Love’s A Beach blog hop from the folks at JustRomanceMe.  If this is your first time on the blog tour bus, you’re in for a treat.  If you’re a regular welcome back!

If you started here, you might want to go back and begin HERE. That way you will take the blog tour bus from the beginning, won’t miss any of the great blogs, and then have the chance to enter for FREE to win great prizes provided by the participating authors including a Nook with Glowlight loaded with books. Oh, and winners will be announced at Gem Sivad’s place on Sunday, August 19th at 7 pm (EST), during a live chat with many of the authors and fellow hoppers.

Oh, and if you read all the way to the end — there is a chance to win a FREE book on this blog, also!

What do I like to read in the summer? What books would I take to the beach? My favorite genre to escape it all — and let’s face it when you’re at the beach, you want to escape your usual 24/7 life — is the romantic suspense/thriller/mystery genre.

And it just so happens, I will be moderating a panel of some of the bestselling romantic suspense/thriller/mystery authors this October 4-7, in Cleveland, Ohio during Bouchercon. Our panel is titled the “I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Kill Her” panel, named after a song from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Guns ‘N Roses.  The subtitle of the panel is “Murder, Mayhem, and the Mattress Mambo.”  Heather Graham, Jordan Dane, CJ Lyons, Lori Armstrong, and myself will be discussing how sex plays a role in suspense/thrillers/mystery books.

Here are some sneak peeks into what this panel is all about– and  I’m sure, like me, you’ll find the perfect book for that lazy day on the beach — or wherever you go to escape every  day life.

From bestselling author, Heather Graham, comes the third and final book of her Krewe of Hunters Trilogy (publication date 8/28/2012).

Blurb:

  Philadelphia mansion plays host to uninvited death

1777: In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Landon Mansion is commandeered by British Lord “Butcher” Bedford. He stabs Lucy Tarleton-who spurned his king and his love-leaving her to die in her father’s arms.

Now: After the day’s final tour, docent Allison Leigh makes her rounds while locking up…and finds a colleague slumped over Bedford’s desk, impaled on his own replica bayonet.

Resident ghosts may be the stock-in-trade of stately Philadelphia homes, but Allison-a noted historian-is indignant at the prospect of “ghost hunters” investigating this apparent murder.

Agent Tyler Montague knows his hauntings and his history. But while Allison is skeptical of the newcomer, a second mysterious murder occurs. Has “Butcher” Bedford resurfaced? Or is there another malevolent force at work in Landon Mansion? Wary, yet deeply attracted, Allison has to trust in Tyler and work with him to discover just what uninvited guest-dead or alive-has taken over the house.Or their lives could become history!

For more on the Krewe of Hunters Trilogy and all the other fabulous books Heather has authored, visit Heather Graham’s website.

From bestselling author, Jordan Dane, comes the third book in her Sweet Justice series, The Echoes of Violence (pub date 9/2010).

Blurb:

The Echo of Violence The man she’d trust with her heart could sabotage everything…

When terrorists attack a Haitian missionary school, brutally killing their hostages and posting videos of the senseless murders online, time is running out. Sentinels’ agent Alexa Marlowe is forced into an unlikely alliance with a relentless mercenary. But he is no stranger.

Jackson Kinkaid witnessed the raid, and only he can track the killers to their mountain stronghold. Guarding a dark secret, rumored to sell his services to the highest bidder, Jackson is not the same man Alexa once knew. And although he can lead her to the terrorist leader she’s been ordered to take alive, how can she be sure he won’t sabotage her mission to save the one person who got him through the worst nightmare of his life?

For more books from Jordan visit her website.

From bestselling author CJ Lyons comes the print re-release of her best-selling e-book with new material, Blind Faith (July 31, 2012).

Blurb:

When her husband and son are murdered, she thought she’d lost it all. But for Sarah Durandt the nightmare is just beginning…

Sarah has just witnessed the execution of the man who confessed to killing her husband and son, among others. She leaves with no closure as the killer has refused her repeated requests to reveal the site of her family’s graves. Sarah returns home to her small town of Hopewell in the Adirondacks Mountains and vows to search until she finds Sam and Josh.

Her hunt leads her to a trail of lies and unearths a new killer. In a race to save everything she holds dear, Sarah is forced to place her faith in the man who betrayed her…her husband.

Note: This new edition contains material not found in the original e-version which hit #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list!

Want to see more from CJ Lyons? Visit her website.

From bestselling author Lori Armstrong comes the second book in her Mercy Gunderson mystery series, Mercy Kill (pub date 1/2011 ).

Blurb:

Former Black Ops Army sniper, Mercy Gunderson isn’t adjusting well to the laid-back rhythm of civilian life on her family’s ranch in South Dakota. To fill her time, Mercy accepts a temporary bartending gig at a local watering hole. Yet her attempts to settle in back home are tested when Titan Oil, a Canadian company proposing to run an underground pipeline through Eagle River County, sends Jason Hawley, Mercy’s former Army buddy to the area to convince ranchers to get behind the project.

While local business owners support the pipeline, Hawley’s presence riles the landowners and Mercy is torn. After ugly threats and multiple altercations escalate tensions in the county, Mercy discovers Hawley’s brutally mutilated body in the bar parking lot. When it appears Sheriff Dawson cares more about campaigning for re-election than investigating the case, Mercy vows to find Jason Hawley’s killer—even if she has to run against Dawson for sheriff to ensure justice is served.

But Mercy soon learns her former military pal had plenty of secrets. Her search for the truth brings unwanted exposure to the county’s dark side and risks deadly repercussions for the entire community.

Visit Lori’s Website.

And finally we come to my most recent top seller, Cold Day in Hell, Book 2 in the Security Specialists International series.


Blurb:

Calista Meyers is a world-famous, soon-to-be-ex-supermodel. After arriving for a fashion shoot in Cartagena, Colombia, she realizes her agent has misled her about the nature of her last modeling assignment.

Paramilitary leader Jaime Cruz paid her slimy agent a lot of money to get Callie to his part of the world. Cruz has threatened to kidnap and kill her younger brothers if she attempts to leave the country.

What’s a Marine brat to do? Callie calls on her childhood friend Keely Walsh-Maddox and Keely’s husband Ren, the owner of Security Specialists International, to help her.

SSI sends operative Risto Smith to rescue Callie. The former Marine has had a thing for the model ever since he’d first seen her picture on a magazine cover. But he knows he isn’t nearly good enough for a lady like her. She’s an assignment and can be nothing else.

Callie knows Risto is just the man for her and decides to use the close quarters of their escape from Colombia to convince the stubborn male. When Risto leaves her in Panama and disappears, Callie is upset but not defeated. But after two months passes with no word from Risto and with her enemy Cruz in the US and back on her trail, Callie once again turns to Risto for protection.

This time, it would be a cold day in hell before Callie allows Risto to turn his back on their love.

To find out more about my books?  Check out the book pages on this blog or go to my website.
Thanks for visiting my little piece of the blog tour — please comment and share your favorite romantic suspense/thriller/mystery, and I will award one person a FREE download of Cold Day in Hell!
Have a book-filled rest of the summer! — Monette