Welcome to Behind Closed Doors! Today is Throwback Thursday and I have a very special treat for you all today. My friend, fellow Siren author and fabulous editor of the Muses anthology is here today to talk about her romantic suspense novel Reckless Endangerment. Technically this one was released in April 2013 so it is a “throwback.” I thought it would be fun to dip back into catalog for today’s post. I’ll just let her take the reigns. Sit back and enjoy!
Behind Closed Doors…I love the name of this blog. What really goes on behind closed doors? Do we really know someone from their appearance and social persona, even if we regularly associate with them? Image is just that, a snapshot of who we are.
In my novel, Reckless Endangerment, Hope Shane appears to the world—and even to those closest to her—to be a badass reporter who needs no one and has more ambition in her little finger than most do in their entire bodies. But she’s more than that. She’s a woman who wants to fight for her marriage, who mourns the loss of too many friends she’s seen killed in a warzone, and who wishes people could see beyond the public persona.
Can you relate to that? Have you ever felt like you were living up to a standard that was exhausting to maintain? Maybe you’re not perfect, but guess what? No one really is. It’s easy to judge by appearances but it’s rarely accurate.
Michael Cedars is decorated war hero who has an image in his mind of who he is supposed to be in life, but all of that is erased when war wounds leave him partially paralyzed. The difference between his new reality and his expectations of himself as a man push him toward the edge. The very image he’d projected to the world no longer serves him and he doesn’t like his options. Yet everyone in his life is tugging at him to do this, be that, look ahead…and all he wants to do is give up.
Everyone struggles. People all have their challenges, but life moves forward sometimes at a faster pace than we can handle. So we plaster on the smile, live up to the image we choose to project, while we figure out exactly who we are and what we’re going to do about it. Fight, surrender, adapt, or mourn? Often it’s all of the above all done behind closed doors.
Blurb of Reckless Endangerment:
Heroes come in many forms–soldiers who fall and rise and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Sometimes heroes fall and take the ones they love down with them. Colonel Michael Cedars and reporter Hope Shane fell in love in a war zone, but then the world blew up, and splintered their lives in two.
Michael Cedars returns home from Afghanistan wounded and unsure where he fits in this ‘new normal’ of civilian life. Unsure if he’ll walk again, he questions his abilities as a man, husband, and father. Accustomed to giving orders, he’s thrown into a world where he doesn’t know the rules anymore and no one is respecting the officer in the room.
Hope isn’t one who gives up easily—not on her marriage and not on the innocent victims of a human trafficking ring she’s investigating. As the danger of her story intensifies, she struggles with her own post-traumatic stress disorder and a husband who resists her love.
Danger intensifies as Hope searches for truth and justice. Everyone she loves is at risk. Will her reckless pursuit of the human trafficking ring jeopardize their lives?
Michael knows she needs him, but doubts his ability to be the hero she still believes him to be. Is he still the man she married or has he become a liability that could get her killed?
“You’re a selfish bastard.” She shoved her hands through her hair and counted silently to twenty. “Say what you want, I don’t care because I’d rather fight with you than mourn you. I’d rather you hate me than feel nothing.”
“I do hate you.”
Blowing a strand of hair from her face, she grabbed the ouzo bottle, opened it and slammed cabinet doors looking for a glass.
“I know you’re lying,” she said.
“Get the hell out of here,” he yelled.
“Where are your goddamn glasses?” she asked between clenched teeth.
“How would I know? I’ve been here less than six hours.”
“Who needs a glass, right?” She took a long swig of the liquor. The alcohol burned her throat but felt damn good. She took another swig before meeting his gaze.
“Is that how you’re dealing with your guilt? Drinking it away?” he asked.
She held the bottle out toward him. “Want a taste?”
He looked at her through narrowed eyes, muscle working overtime in his jaw.
“C’mon, babe, look at it this way…maybe a taste will kill you,” she said.
For the first time since entering the room, a flicker of humor shot through his eyes. With a shrug, he grabbed the bottle and drank without breaking eye contact.
“I’m still alive,” he said.
“Sorry to disappoint you…again.” Needing to touch him, she reached for the scar that zigzagged across his forehead.
He flinched away from her touch.
“You need to leave. You don’t owe me anything,” he said without looking at her face.
She caught her lower lip between her teeth and studied his bent head before answering. “This isn’t about owing you anything.”
He met her gaze then, annoyance flashing in the brown depths. But there was something else there, too…pain so intense she took a step back.
“What is wrong with you?” he asked. “Just because I’m in this chair doesn’t mean that you can bully me.”
“Am I bullying you?” She grinned at the idea of bullying him. He’d always been the badass Marine with more arrogance than necessary. Her independence clashed with his attitude more often than not, but that had been a good thing. Maybe—just maybe—he’d missed it. “I brought you fast food and alcohol. We even had a fight. I think you like that I’m here. I’m livening things up. You looked pretty bored when I walked in.”
He grabbed her hand before she could snag another fry. He squeezed her fingers so hard she thought her bones would snap. “Look at me. I’m not the man you married. I’m not even a Marine anymore. Look at me.”
She only saw the man she loved who stared back with desperation in his eyes. She saw his hair thicker and longer than she’d ever seen it before and liked it. She saw his teeth sink into his lower lip and wanted them sinking into her skin. She only saw Michael.
“You’re still the sexiest man on the planet,” she said.
“You’re delusional.” He dropped her hand as if the mere touch of her skin sickened him.
“Maybe I am.”
“What are you getting out of this?”
“I can’t. I’m changed. We’ll never be able to be like we were.” He looked at his legs. “Not like how you remember me anyway. I’m different now.”
“So am I. We’re all different.”
“It’s more than that and you know it. You and me…sex…there will be…expectations.”
“I see, so I should pretend you don’t exist because you feel awkward about sex? You must not think much of me, Colonel.” She bit out his rank between clenched teeth.
“When I see you that’s what I want, are you satisfied now? Right now I would like to throw you up against that counter, rip those jeans from you and fuck you. I remember how we were together. That’s what I want. I can’t do that. Do you hear me? I can’t have what I want and seeing you is torture for me. I can’t have you.”
Silence quaked in the room.
She put both of her hands on his knees, conscious that he couldn’t feel her touch. “You keep talking about what you’ve lost, but you haven’t lost me. Don’t you see that? You may not be a Marine anymore and you may not be able to walk anymore, but you have me. I love you. I need you. Can’t that be enough? And you have your son. What about him? He needs you, too. You haven’t lost him.”
“I wish you hadn’t come here.”
“Too bad, I’m here. Deal with it.” She moved onto his lap and moved her hands over his shoulders. “What’s the problem?”
“Stop this,” he whispered.
“You want me to kiss you. You want to kiss me back.” She could see it in his eyes, the need, the desire, the question. “Is that what you want, Michael?”
“What would that prove?”
“Does it have to prove something? Can’t a kiss be a kiss?”
“Typical man.” She leaned within a fraction of his lips. “Don’t you remember high school? Don’t you remember when a kiss meant everything?”
In a sudden move, he grabbed the back of her head and ground his lips against hers. She knew the intensity was meant to shock her so she matched it with her own. She sat on his lap and plunged her tongue into the recesses of his mouth until he moaned. His free hand squeezed her breast through the thin material of her blouse but, instead of hurting, it ignited her blood.
The Michael she knew still lived inside this man. She felt him in the warmth of his mouth, the strength of his hands on her body, the restrained power of his touch.
She couldn’t stop touching him, hands moved through his hair, over his face, along his shoulders. Alive. Here. She fought back a Hallelujah.
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Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of both nonfiction and fiction. She spent years working in journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial sector. She has three published romantic suspense novels—”Kiss Me Slowly”, “Riptide”, and “Reckless Endangerment”—and a contemporary romance novella, “Anonymity.” Her memoir about surviving the suicide of loved one, “Free Fall”, published in September 2013.
Easton is also an editor and professional speaker. Links to radio interviews can be located on her website, http://amberleaeaston.com, and her videos about romance writing have been showcased internationally on the Writers and Authors television network.
Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. She gives thanks daily for the view outside her window and healthy children. As long as she’s writing, she considers herself to be simply “a lucky lady liv’n the dream.”