from Author Cat Johnson
Around the Fourth of July holiday, the entire country tends to think a little more about those in the service, but as a military romance author, that’s pretty much an everyday for me, whether it’s sipping my morning coffee while reading in the Military.com newsletter about the latest changes in weapons or uniforms, or popping on instant messenger to check in with my active duty Army and USMC consultants. Doing so familiarizes me with the lingo, helps with facts and research, and gives me story and plot ideas.
I often wonder what my military guys think when I pop up with random questions out of the blue. But it’s these questions and the answers that I hope give my books authenticity and realism. What do I ask? Nothing top secret. Nothing even that important, but it’s important to me to get it right.
For example, just in the past few days I’ve asked the following questions:
Me: You’re at a sporting event in civilian clothing. The flag comes out. What do you do? Salute? Put your hand over your heart? What?
Marine: Um, what?
Me: The hero in my book is an active duty soldier as well as a bull rider. He’s at a rodeo in civilian clothes. What would he do?
Marine: Ah, he’d take off his hat and stand at attention.
Other random questions from this week were… Can you write on a grenade with a Sharpie? Can I call the forward observer an FO for short? And why do none of the soldiers in the video of an outpost in Afghanistan wear their dog tags? (A military mom/friend of mine actually answered that last question for me. The answer was it’s because the tags jingle too loud and dig into their chests while wearing a pack and body armor.)
So there you go, the riveting life of a military romance author. The result of all this military immersion is my Red, Hot, & Blue series currently releasing with Samhain Publishing in eBook and ten months after erelease in Trade Paperback.
The newest released in the series is the novel-length A FEW GOOD MEN. It was inspired by the actual deployment of one of my Army muses to Ramadi in 2007. I met him when I found his request on a troop support site for books for the MWR library he was setting up. We became pen pals and friends after that. He provided me with invaluable details and I couldn’t have written the book without him.
Check out a little bit from A FEW GOOD MEN below and don’t forget to comment to enter to win a download of book 1 in the Red, Hot, & Blue series, TREY.
Thanks, all, for stopping by and thank you for Under the Covers for having me!
What's Cat Johnson's drink recipe recommendation?
I invented a bunch of drinks in honor of my cowboy heroes and the Authors After Dark pub crawl on Bourbon Street in New Orleans this August. I'm going to be stationed at the Bourbon Cowboy Bar.
So.... here is my favorite of those Buckin' Good Bourbon drink recipes.
CAT JOHNSON'S NUTTY COWBOY
1 part Bourbon
1 part Frangelico® Hazelnut Liqueur
Serve over ice
Cold Weather Variation: Add to hot coffee and cream for Nutty Cowboy Coffee
A FEW GOOD MEN
He has met the enemy…but he’s never fought desire like this.
Red, Hot & Blue, Book 7
Deployed in the deadliest place on earth, Army Staff Sergeant John Blake relies on caffeine, adrenaline, years of training and sheer force of will to get through his days. He has no problem with his tank crew passing around a sexy romance novel, but John’s a fighter, not a lover. He’ll pass.
Winding up as the author’s accidental pen pal wasn’t in his plan, but there’s something about her sweet, caring emails that has him looking forward to checking his inbox.
Week after week, Maureen Mullen, aka erotic romance writer Summer Winters, has dated one loser after another in a quest to find the last decent man on earth. Now it seems she’s found him—halfway around the world. When it comes to falling for unavailable men, she’s batting a thousand.
Gradually, the emails between the war-hardened warrior and the writer of passionate prose heat up to the point of keeping them up warm and wanting at night. Soon they’re wondering if it’s possible to build something solid out of cyberspace, or if it’s just an emotional mirage that will dissolve in the heat of reality.
Warning: Contains some steamy phone calls from the war zone and one hell of a sexy first meeting between two strangers who are already in love.
Eyes focused downward, Staff Sergeant John Blake set to devouring his chow as single-mindedly as he did everything in life—full speed ahead.
The members of his tank platoon chatted around him. It was hard for John to understand how they got any food in their mouths since some of them never shut up. Their chatter covered wives and girlfriends, kids and sports. Anything and everything.
As a tank commander, John took it all in. It might not look like it to the casual passerby, but he listened. Keeping a lookout for any possible issues was part of being a good leader. John observed and absorbed it all—personal problems at home or friction between the men could distract them and possibly put every one of them in danger.
Make that more danger than they already were in here in hell—or Ramadi— whichever.
He usually didn’t interject his opinion much. Instead, he kept his head down and his ears open as the others droned on.
“Well, I’ll be. Looky here. Jazzy’s reading him some kinda chick book.” John’s tank driver, Hector Morales, made that statement in his usual slow Texas drawl.
“Yeah, and so what?” Jazzy didn’t deny it. “Don’t knock it until you read it, dude. It’s a good story, and let me tell you, the sex scenes are hot.”
Jazzy always was one to march to his own drummer. It figured he wouldn’t give a crap if the other guys ribbed him for reading what Morales had called a chick book. Still, John was intrigued at what had Jazzy, who read only when forced to, interested enough to hold his attention even at chow.
John raised his head, pulling his focus away from the less than appetizing entrée. It was no hardship to be dragged away from potatoes and meat that seemed to be the exact same shade of gray and peas that were a slightly grayish-green color not a whole lot different from the rest.
He noted Jazzy was indeed holding a book in one hand while shoveling food into his mouth with the other. The book cover displayed the well-oiled and equally well-developed pectoral muscles of a bare-chested man and not much else besides a boldly printed title and a name. He squinted and tried to see between Jazzy’s fingers.
“Summer Winters.” John read the author’s name aloud and laughed. “What are the chances that name is real?”
“I can’t say I blame her. You read this, and you’ll understand why she needs a fake name. Otherwise she’d probably end up having male stalkers lined up around the block outside her house.” Jazzy shoved a napkin between the pages to hold his place and put the book down on the table so he could scrape the gray remnants from his plate using both fork and knife. “It’s almost like porn, but with a good story and realistic characters. No pictures though. But it’s still pretty damn good. Now I know why my wife is always attacking me in bed when she’s reading one of these books.”
John nearly groaned. Picturing Jazzy’s steamy-romance-novel-inspired sex life with his wife was too much information for him at any time, but especially at chow.
The porn line, however, had Morales raising an eyebrow as if he was reconsidering his initial opinion of chick books. “Really? Well, I’ll be… But isn’t there a lot of, you know, that mushy love crap?”
Jazzy grinned, flipped through the book and then handed it open to Morales. “Here. Read that page for yourself.”
Morales’s eyes opened wide as he scanned the page until his ears started to turn red. “Holy shit. Well, I’ll be damned. That’s just about as good as you can get. This thing’s enough to make a man want to go and clean his gun, if you know what I mean.”
They all knew what he meant, and that was definitely too much information for John while seated at the dining hall table.
Morales continued to flip through the book. “I’ll tell you what, I might give this thing a go. Let me borrow it when you’re done?” Jazzy grinned. “Sure thing. That’s what it’s for—sharing, not the gun cleaning—although that’ll work too. I was going to put it out on the bookshelf for everybody anyway.”
“Where exactly did you get that thing?” John’s curiosity got the best of him.
He watched Morales, leaned forward with elbows braced on the table and head buried in the book. The man was totally engrossed in what must be another pretty interesting scene.
“My pen pal sent it. She wrote it actually. She’s Summer Winters. I know me a real live author.” Jazzy smiled wide.
Across the table, their tank gunner, Gonzolo Barajas, finally put down the letter he’d been reading from that day’s mail call. “That book’s from the pen pal you met on that military support website?” Jazzy nodded. “Yup. She sends all kinds of stuff. We sure as hell got lucky the day she pulled my name off that list. She’s really nice too…and funny. I crack up when I’m reading some of her emails.”
John nearly choked as the realization sunk in. Those websites were full of two things—Girl Scout troop leaders and little old granny do-gooders. One of them wrote porn under the name Summer Winters? That too was more information than he needed at this point in his life. The image of a gray-haired granny in her rocker, knitting scarves to keep the troops warm, switched to the same woman, only now she sat in front of a computer, eating chocolate bon-bons with gnarled, arthritic fingers and penning sex scenes hot enough to make even Morales blush.
A chill ran down his spine. He shook it off and pushed his plate away. Suddenly he was no longer hungry.
“You want the book after me and Morales are done, sir?” Jazzy asked him.
John’s head flew up when he realized he was being addressed and what exactly Jazzy was asking. “Ah, no. That’s all right. Thanks anyway.”
Jazzy shrugged and grabbed the book back from Morales, who didn’t look like he was giving it up willingly. “And you, Morales, have to wait your turn.”
“Well, hurry the hell up then.” Morales went back to his colorless food as John considered what it meant for the future of the Army that his tankers were fighting over a chick’s paperback romance novel. It surely didn’t bode well.
BARNES AND NOBLE NOOK
BOOKS ON BOARD
They can’t deny the heat—it’s the only thing keeping them alive.
A distracted soldier is a dead solder. That’s special operative Trey Williams’ motto. The last thing he needs in his life is a girlfriend. Problem is, the woman who’s been recruited to pose as his wife on a special assignment is proving to be exactly the kind of distraction he can’t afford.
Years ago, Carly McAfee turned her back not only on her military career, but the men who come with it. So why did she say yes to a mission that puts her in intimate contact with Trey, under 24/7 surveillance by both bad guys and good? One slip, and they’re both dead. It’s not long, though, before her body betrays her, followed closely by her heart.
With a terrorist arms deal going down and missing teammate’s life on the line, Carly and Trey must throw caution to the wind in the scorching-hot performance of their lives—and try not to lose their hearts and minds in the process.
This book has been previously published and has been revised and expanded from its original release.
Warning: Contains bad men with big guns and video cameras, and an unmarried couple who need to get naked and get busy acting very married to save both their country and their lives.