Friday, April 12, 2013
Amber Easton - new release, Reckless Endangerment
Today, Amber Easton is visiting my blog to celebrate the release of her new novel --
I've asked her to tell us a little bit about her awesome book!
In my new release, Reckless Endangerment, I'm taking a bit of a risk. I'm taking on the issues of PTSD in war veterans and human trafficking in the United States. Gee, sounds romantic, right? Actually, it is. An epic love story between Hope Shane, the fearless reporter, and Colonel Michael Cedars, a wounded war hero, is the main storyline.
That's the trick with writing romantic suspense. There not only needs to be a balance between mystery and a great love story, the storylines need to mesh.
Sometimes as writers, no matter our genre, we need to push the envelope by incorporating real world issues into our fictional work. Post-traumatic stress disorder is an authentic issue that soldiers deal with when returning home from war. Human trafficking is also a serious issue, often underreported in this country (and the world).
Using fiction to spotlight issues isn't a new concept at all, just turn on television or go to the movies for daily examples. Most writers do it, in one way or another. When writing this way, though, especially in the romance genre, it's important to keep our characters' motivation the top priority. It's still entertainment, after all, not CNN or the Discovery Channel. But, because it is entertainment, it's also important not to sensationalize or demean the subject matter. Imagine walking a tightrope without a net...one misstep in either direction would mean disaster.
Romance is the perfect genre to highlight emotional drama and interplay between human beings. I've heard the scoffs, "oh, you write romance", usually followed by a dismissive shake of the head or an eye roll. But what some people don't understand is that love is truly the cornerstone of life. Relationships define us as human beings. Love is the goal of all of us -- well, I met one guy who thinks money is the goal but I'll check in on him in 20 years.
Combining the struggle of Hope Shane and Colonel Michael Cedars to hold their marriage together in the face of great adversity -- PTSD, partial paralysis and a human trafficking ring -- is the perfect storm, but the love relationship overrides all. Just like real life, right?
Heroes come in many forms -- soldiers who fall and rise, ordinary people doing extraordinary things, women who battle for their marriage, reporters who fight for truth and justice, and men who put it all on the line for the women they love.
Sometimes heroes fall.
Colonel Michael Cedars is a decorated war hero returning home from Afghanistan. Wounded, unsure if he'll walk again, he's not sure how he fits in civilian life, and he definitely questions if he wants to remain married to the feisty redhead, Hope Shane.
Hope's never been one to play it safe. She met the Colonel while working as a war correspondent, fell in love with the man in uniform, watched him get blown up, and isn't willing to give up on him now.
Back in Denver, Colorado, she's working as an investigative reporter who becomes entangled in a human trafficking story. As the danger of her story intensifies, Hope and Michael are tested more than they ever imagined. Will Michael be able to see beyond what he's lost to embrace what remains? Is he still the man she married or has he become a liability that could get her killed? Is he still the hero she claims him to be? Will her reckless pursuit of justice endanger the life they've pieced together?
"Maybe I need to stop trying to hold on. Maybe you're right." Sighing, her shoulders slumped. "We were this close," she held her fingers an inch apart, "to having a life together when everything blew up in our faces. Literally. What else do I have to lose, right? I already lost my dignity when I begged those damn bureaucrats to let me see you in Germany. And when I say begged, I mean I begged, pleaded, bartered, whatever I could possibly say or do to get in and they told me that you," she pointed at him, "said no, you told them I lied about being married to you. McGee backed you up. I looked like a fool and a liar."
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Now you're doing it again, denying me. You'd rather sit in this place alone than admit to the world that I'm your wife. It's true." She nodded, gaze gluing him in place. "I gave up my everything for you, soldier boy. My life. My pride. My dignity. I gave it all up for you."
"Why?" he choked out the question. "I did everything to get you to let me go. I don't want you to give up anything for me; can't you see that? You were born to be in the spotlight, dodging bullets, charming your way into and out of trouble. I'm an anchor to you now; you know it but refuse to admit it. I want you to forget me. Why won't you let me go?"
She closed her eyes, face tilted toward the ceiling. "Because maybe I went crazy over there. Maybe we weren't this close," again with the fingers, "to having a life together. Maybe we were already there. Maybe it wasn't conventional, but it was real, it was us. Maybe I misunderstood sex for more. Maybe I thought that our wedding meant as much to you as it did to me. Maybe I'm the biggest fool to walk planet earth."
"But now I'm broken so..."
"Yeah, that's right." Nodding, she looked away and brushed the back of her hand over her eyes. "And I'm too shallow to be the person you need, right? Too superficial? I know the truth. I know that you should be capable of limited mobility, that you are not trapped in that chair, that you have sensations in your right leg and have even managed to stand for a brief period of time here and there. Didn't you think I'd do some research on your injuries? I may have kept my distance, but I have a knack for getting people to talk to me, remember? Yes, you're in a wheelchair, but your situation isn't hopeless. You're the one who gave up, but for the life of me I don't know why. It's not like you. You're a goddamn colonel in the Marine Corps. You don't surrender, so what's going on with you?"
Her words stung. He had heard them for months now and he didn't know the answer. He couldn't explain anything to anyone, not even himself.
"You need to be in New York or in the middle of the action. You're the It Girl, isn't that what they call you? Headed for a network anchor job one day, right? Your own show? Watch out Manhattan, here comes Shane. You'll have them eating out of your hand within months."
"Maybe you don't know me as well as I thought," she said with a bitter twist of her mouth. "I've been waiting...don't you see? I could care less about a network job and you know it." She finished stuffing the contents into her bag before standing. "I love you. I thought you loved me, too. Until you can look me in the eye and tell me you don't, that you never did, I'll keep coming back."
He grabbed the picture frames from the sofa cushion where she'd tossed them and looked at the broken glass. Guilt and confusion ate away at his brain.
"Do you have any idea what it's like for me not to know what to do? I'm a decorated officer. I made decisions minute by minute that affected the lives of my unit, yet I don't know what to do anymore. I don't know what to do about this," he smacked the arms of his chair, "I don't know what to do about you and I definitely don't know what to do about Dalton. I'm fucked up. I hate not knowing what to do. You're right...it's not like me. Don't you think I know that?"
With a muttered curse, she sat on the edge of the sofa and blinked at the ceiling. He noticed her hands trembling as they gripped the strap of her bag. The room seemed abnormally quiet without her storming around and threatening him. He didn't like her docile and reflective...it threw him off.
"I'm sure it's hell. You were always in command. For months now, you've had one surgery after another, been under constant care with zero privacy, me pestering you with my endless notes and your family hauling you across the country without anyone asking what you want. No one is respecting the officer in the room."
He squinted at her. "Exactly. People talk about me rather than to me."
"Yet expect you to snap out of your funk and get on with your life."
"But I don't know what that means." Her understanding shook his resolve, weakened his resistance.
"And you haven't tried because you've been mourning your old life and don't know what the new life is yet."
"Everyone thinks I'm a rotten, self-pitying bastard."
"Because that's what you want us to think so we leave you alone." She shoved both hands through her hair and sighed. "You're exhausting."
"I know." He smiled for the first time in months. "I exhaust myself, too. I'm really sick of my crap."
"Well, that's something." She grinned, eyes dark with defeat. "I haven't respected the officer in the room, have I?" She skimmed her thumb across the scar on his forehead. "I love you, if that means anything to you at all."
"It means something to me." He snagged her hand, but she yanked it away and stood.
"My business card is on the table near the sofa if you need me, want to talk or whatever. My cell phone number's on the back." She hesitated at the door before looking over her shoulder. "I want my husband back."
** Today is Reckless Endangerment's release day! You can buy a copy now at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/305522#longdescr. Print copies will be available through Amazon. As of next week, the book will be available at all major ebook outlets. But why wait? Go to Smashwords now.
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years she's worked in the fields of journalism and marketing.
Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has three romantic suspense novels out in the world: Reckless Endangerment, Riptide, and Kiss Me Slowly, with three more slated for publication in 2013.
Find out more about Easton at http://www.amberleaeaston.com or follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston.