Don’t Look Back, from The Wild Rose Press

YEARS ago, I had a dream about Jack Bauer. Terrorists were coming and we needed Jack and he wanted no part of it. (Who could blame him?) In my dream, a kick-butt heroine kidnapped him and convinced him he was needed.

Then I woke up. And for a couple of years I tried to work that dream into a story. I don’t remember where I came up with the idea for Africa, except that it seemed dark and mysterious. Two movies provided me with my character backstories: Clive Owen’s Beyond Borders, about a doctor who ended up providing intelligence (among other things) to the CIA while working in dangerous parts of the world, and Bruce Willis’s Tears of the Sun, where an Army Ranger (I think) tries to rescue a village from warlords in Africa. I gave my heroine Clive’s backstory, with a lot more motivation, and Del has Bruce’s, with a less cheery ending.

Instead of Jack Bauer, I used Gerard Delaney, circa Reign of Fire, as the model for Del, and Evangeline Lilly (Kate from LOST) as the model for Liv.

This book took a long time to come together, and was inspired by many different things, but I’m very pleased with the final result. Don’t Look Back was my 2006 Golden Heart (R) finalist.

Blurb: When her best friend is kidnapped in Africa, Dr. Liv Olney must return to the scene of her own horrific captivity. The only man she trusts is former Army Lt. Gerard “Del” Delaney, the man who rescued her. Even with him, she can’t relinquish control of her emotions, needing to keep painful memories at bay.

Del takes honor seriously, but sometimes neither honor nor humanity are found in the orders he receives. In exile after a court martial that stripped him of everything, he misses his son and his country. When Liv asks for help, his instinct is to turn away. But her courage reaches out to him and he cannot refuse, especially when she promises that she can help clear his name so he can go home.

Together they travel to Africa, where they fight warlords and monsoons, and learn to trust and hope that, together, they can find happiness and peace.

Buy Link: Don’t Look Back

Excerpt: The jungle closed around the rutted road, but offered no relief from the heat. Del preferred the direct, dry heat from the sun rather than the liquid heat of the jungle. At least he no longer had to squint against the sun. How the hell had he forgotten sunglasses?

He’d forgotten the denseness of the Amadanian jungle, the multitude of the shades of green. Apparently, so had Liv. She practically lay across his lap to look out the passenger window, watching for wildlife. The dappled sunlight lit the dozens of colors in her hair, bronze, red, gold. Her excitement in light of their mission was kind of sweet.

“Did you see that?” Her voice held a breathless awe when she smiled up at him.

He hadn’t. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her, the thin sheen of perspiration on her freckled skin, the fine curve of her ear, the plushness of her lower lip. Hell, he must be lightheaded from not taking a deep breath for the past ten miles.

Or maybe from the blood settling much lower than usual.

And now the smile…the smile hit him in a place he’d forgotten he had.

“What?” He hoped she didn’t notice the gruffness in his voice. He clenched his fists so he wouldn’t scoop that lock of hair back from her face.

“The most brilliant colored bird. I don’t know what kind.”

The enthusiasm in her eyes dimmed as she realized that she was invading his space, her breast against his arm, her breath stirring the fabric of his shirt. She straightened. Not far, sure, because there wasn’t room in the truck. His libido smacked him for making her move away. He shifted before she noticed the effect she had on him.

“Sorry.” She pushed her hair back from her face with a fluttery movement. “I get—it’s one of things I love about Africa, the wildlife.”

“There’s more than that, surely.” He disliked her melancholy tone, but his job wasn’t to cheer her up, to care how she felt one way or another. She had dragged him back here, but he couldn’t think of her as the enemy.

“Not much to love, not after what I’ve seen.” She flushed then, realizing what she’d said, and edged closer to Pete.

“How many times have you come back?” Del couldn’t remember the last time he’d initiated a conversation or the last time he’d cared enough about another person to ask a question.

She looked out the window on Pete’s side, averting her gaze, as if she couldn’t let herself reveal too much. She shrugged. “A dozen times, maybe?”

Surprise bucked in him. “That many?”

She turned back. He might have imagined it, but he got the feeling she was assessing him. “There’s a lot of work to be done.”

“With the World Health Organization, or with whoever you work with now?”

She didn’t answer and looked away.

“I didn’t recognize you at first,” he said after a bit, and cursed himself. Of course the last time he’d seen her, she’d been swollen, scarred, bruised. Why would he recognize her?

She glanced at Pete, then back at him. Maybe she didn’t want to discuss her own hostage experience in front of the Ranger. He respected that. But she slid a finger along her temple, then the length of her nose. “The plastic surgeons did a pretty

good job putting me back together.”

At her invitation, he looked at her scars—the outside ones, anyway. The fine one along her temple, the other one across her cheek, pale and thin, the one bisecting her left eyebrow. Her nose didn’t look like it had ever been broken, except he’d seen the evidence. “It changed you.”

She snuffled a laugh, her gaze straight ahead. A hint of the flush still stained her cheeks. “Five days in a terrorist camp. Yes. In many ways.”

“I’m sorry.” He wanted to smooth her hair against her head, down her back, draw her into his arms.

Wanting.

God, who knew it could hurt?

She turned and the shine in her eyes was both familiar and frightening. “Don’t be. You saved me.”

She looked at him like he was a hero.

He’d thought she was smarter than that.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kelly Boyce
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 07:03:21

    This book sounds so exciting – I’m adding it to my TBR list!

    Reply

  2. ccjamess
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 07:56:10

    Sounds like a great like. I like the characters you based yours on.

    CC also writing as Clover Autrey

    Reply

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