Today I am so pleased to welcome the fabulous Keira Andrews back to Joyfully Jay. Keira has come to talk to us about her latest release, Semper Fi. She has also brought along an excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Keira a big welcome!
Today marks Veteran’s Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries. This day was established after World War I formally ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Almost a hundred years later, of course we sadly have many more wars and veterans to remember.
When I was a kid, Remembrance Day was a statutory holiday and we had the day off. That changed when I was in middle school, and instead we had an assembly to commemorate those who fought for our country. By high school there was no assembly—just a reading of “In Flanders Fields” over the PA, followed by a minute of silence at eleven a.m. I remember thinking that by the time I was an adult, “lest we forget” would be mere lip service.
I suppose writing Semper Fi was one way I could remember the veterans who sacrificed so much. In the dedication of the novel I mention my Dad and his incredible collection of WWII books and films. A few years ago he lent me a nonfiction book about Guadalcanal, one of the Pacific islands that was a key battleground in the war against Japan.
Me being me (I always have romance on the brain!) it started the wheels turning as I thought about the Marines fighting there, and what their lives were like. If any of them were gay. If any of them were in love with each other. If any of them lived happily ever. I wanted the answer to be yes—especially to the happily ever after—and Cal and Jim were born.
What does happily ever after look like in 1948? Can two men have a life together and raise a family?
Discover how love finds a way in Semper Fi:
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OGTY67O
- Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1120558834
- iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id930202997
- Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/semper-fi-5
- Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/484996
He glanced at Cal, who had walked back from the tree he was pruning and now eyed it critically. “Are these branches evenly spaced, or should I cut that little one off?”
From midway up his ladder, Jim gave the tree a once over. “Cut it off. It’s drooping too much. The branches should sort of look like the rungs of a ladder when you’re done.”
Cal nodded thoughtfully and took a gulp of water from his canteen after wiping his forehead. He’d taken off his jacket, and he and Jim both had their plaid work shirts rolled up at the sleeves. “Speaking of ladders, after those goddamn rope nets we had to climb to board the ships, I swore I wouldn’t get on another ladder even if you paid me.”
Jim remembered the treacherous climb after Guadalcanal, his limbs burning, the rope swaying and shifting as dozens of men scaled it. He gave the solid wooden ladder a pat. “These are a little easier to manage.”
Cal climbed his and whacked at the offending branch with his machete. “Good thing, or I’d be liable to take off my own hand if I was swinging around like we did on those ropes.”
Jim chuckled. He could always rely on Cal for a laugh. Not to mention all the other things he could rely on him for. Cal understood the nightmares and didn’t say a word in the morning light. Jim hadn’t felt so…settled in a long time. “Speaking of getting paid, we really need to discuss that.”
Ignoring him, Cal hacked away.
“I know you can hear me.”
“What’s that? Gone partially deaf. I was in the war, you know. Lots of explosions. Hell of a racket over there.”
“Har, har. Seriously, Cal. I’m paying you.”
Cal pointed up. “Hey, is that a hawk?” He whistled softly. “Look at that wingspan.”
Jim glanced at the bird soaring above the treetops. “Yes, it’s a hawk, and don’t change the subject.”
With a sigh, Cal faced him, propping one foot up on a low branch, the other firmly on the ladder. “I’m not taking your money.”
“Why not? You’re doing the work, fair and square. So you should be paid, fair and square.”
“I don’t need it. I have more money than I know what to do with. Put it aside for the kids. Send Adam off to college one day. Maybe even Sophie. It’ll do a lot more good that way. Just make sure they go to Princeton and not Yale.” He winked.
Jim contemplated the notion. He knew Cal was richer than the devil himself, and that any salary Jim could pay him would be hopelessly paltry. But it didn’t sit right, not paying a man for his work. “You need to be compensated. Even Mrs. O’Brien lets me give her a little every week. Fought me tooth and nail, but I wore her down.”
“I am being compensated!” Cal waved his arm around. “Look at this place. It’s paradise, Jim. Plus I’m getting room and board. I hated the bank. Sure, I had a lot more to do than before the war, but I’ll never really make my father happy.” He snorted. “Not until I get a wife and have a son to carry on the family name.”
“Well, that’s another thing. You aren’t going to meet many women around here.”
“On the contrary, my good man, just the other day I met a delightful woman who happened to ride up on her bicycle. Amazing cook.”
“Aside from being two decades your senior, Mrs. O’Brien is happily married.”
“Alas. Another heartbreak, but I’ll persevere.”
Jim chuckled. “But really, out here you aren’t going to meet anyone.”
“I don’t want to meet any women,” Cal muttered as he went back to the branch, hacking into it forcefully.
“You’re thirty now. Not getting any younger.” Jim kept his tone jocular.
“Oh, this handsome face will still be reeling ’em in for years to come, don’t worry.” He finished cutting through the branch with a flourish.
“I just hate to see you missing out.”
Cal climbed up a few rungs and went to work on pruning another branch. He didn’t meet Jim’s gaze. “I’m not missing out on anything. I’m exactly where I want to be.”
“But you’ll make a great father, Cal. And you wouldn’t believe how wonderful it is to have children. Until Sophie was born, I didn’t know I could love another person that much.”
“What about your wife?” As soon as the words left his mouth, Cal blanched. “I’m sorry. God. Forget I said that.”
The ever-present guilt churned Jim’s gut and dried his throat, but he kept his expression neutral. “Of course I loved Ann. She was a good woman.”
“Absolutely.” Cal ran a hand through his hair. “Geez, I’m sorry. I think I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Don’t listen to me. What the hell do I know about any of this stuff anyway?”
With his good looks and gift of gab, women had always flocked to Cal, but since Jim had known him, Cal had never kept a lady around for long. As they went back to work, Jim wondered if Cal had ever been in love.
The war is over. The battle for love has just begun.
As Marines, Cal and Jim depended on each other to survive bloodshed and despair in the Pacific. Relieved to put the horrors of war behind him, Jim went home to his apple orchard and a quiet life with his wife and children. Knowing Jim could never return his forbidden feelings, Cal hoped time and an ocean between them would dull the yearning for his best friend.
But when Jim’s wife dies, Cal returns to help. He doesn’t know a thing about apple farming—or children—but he’s determined to be there for Jim, even as the painful torch he carries blazes back to life. Jim is grateful for his friend’s support as he struggles with buried emotions and dark wartime memories. Then Jim begins to see Cal in a new light, and their relationship deepens in ways neither expected. Can they build a life together as a family and find happiness in a world that would condemn them?
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” You can find out more about Keira and her books at her website, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Keira has brought an ebook from her backlist to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Saturday, November 15th at 11:59 pm EST.
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