Sunday, July 22, 2012

Spotlight & Giveaway: Battle for the Soldier's Heart by Cara Colter

Today it is my Pleasure to Welcome Harlequin Romance Best Selling Author Cara Colter to HarlequinJunkie...

I love Cara's books, if you have read Cara's books you know what I am gushing about if not here's your chance to Win a copy!


 Battle for the Soldier's Heart

When Grace Day accepts returning soldier Rory Adams's help for the military fundraiser she's organizing, memories of her teenage crush on him come rushing back.

Growing up in practically a war zone, Rory's motto is "When you expect the worst, you are rarely disappointed." Yet Grace's sweetness, hope and light threaten his cynicism.

As she discovers the Rory beneath the armor, can Grace convince him to believe in the man he really is: a man so good it brings tears to her eyes—the man she wants to spend her life with?

Sara: If you had to sum up “Battle for the soldier's Heart” in 100 words or less, what would you say? 

Cara: I think I specialize in stories about people who have lost their way, finding their way back home. This story is no exception. But I have to add it's not serious.  It's very funny and sweet.  The opening line is "There were Shetland ponies everywhere" so you've got to know you're are in for a fun ride (er, read.)

Sara: What were the challenges you faced in bringing this book to life?

Cara: I'm having problems with insomnia right now, so sometimes when its time to work my poor brain feels like mush!

Sara: Please tell us a few things about yourself? 

Cara: I love my "H"s -- horses, Hawaii, HGTV, also Hubby, Rob ( not necessarily in that order!)  Where were you born and where do you call home? I was born in Calgary, Alberta, and I now live in the interior of British Columbia on a small acreage that I share with above mentioned horses and hubby.

Sara: What are your current projects?

Cara: I just finished a book that will be out for Mother's Day, 2013.  It doesn't even have a title yet. It has one scene I adore where the hero and heroine unearth an old two-seater bicycle.  Unfortunatley, ever since I wrote it, I cannot get that song out of my head: Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do, I'm half crazy, all for the love of you, I can't afford a carriage, we won't have a fancy marriage, but wouldn't you look sweet, upon the seat of a bicycle built for two? Try and get that unstuck from your head once its in there! (Misery loves company, I bet now you'll be stuck with it, now, too. Evil laugh.)

I've just been asked to do a Christmas trilogy with Rebecca Winters and Shirley Jump, so we're at the planning stages right now.  It is always creatively really invigorating to work with other writers, espeically ones as talented as them.    

Sara: What are 4 things you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

Cara: There is a part in the Mother's Day book where a woman tells the hero they dress for dinner, and he says "As opposed to what?".  So, generally when I leave I have clothes (though I've been known to walk the dog in my pajamas); I live in the middle of nowhere (this makes the pajama part slightly less risque), so I am not going anywhere without my truck.  I honestly cannot think of anything else that makes every trip out of the house with me.  I know it would be politcally correct to say pictures of my children, my sainted mother or other inspirational items, but sadly, no. My dog wishes it was her, though!

Sara: If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money? 

Cara: Again, I'm sure there is a politcally correct answer that would have something to do with being unselfish and saving the world, but somehow I see myself wintering in Hawaii, (there's those H's again)  one foot hanging off the lounger into the pool, and a lifetime supply of books beside me.  (And maybe a cute poolboy refreshing my virgin pina coloda, with apologies to another of my H's Rob.)

Sara: Where can readers contact you?
Facebook is the best way.  facebook.com/caracolter 

Cara will be giving away a Copy of ‘Battle for the Soldier's Heart’ to 1 lucky Winner.

TO WIN: Please enter your email in the Rafflecopter widget and leave a comment for Cara below.

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   Excerpt. 

   Harlequin.com-  All rights reserved.

There were Shetland ponies everywhere.
They were gobbling the long strands of grass that sprouted around the brightly painted legs of the children's playground equipment. They were chowing down on the weeping-willow fronds at the edge of the duck pond.
Three had found their way through the chain-link fence and were grazing with voracious appetite on the green temptations of the Mason Memorial Soccer Field.
One had its face buried in the remnants of a birthday cake, and another, wandering toward the wading pool, was trailing a banner that said Happy Birthday, Wilson Schmelski.
From where he stood at the pedestrian bridge that crossed into the city of Mason's most favored civic park, Pondview, Rory Adams counted eight ponies on the loose.
And only one person trying to catch them. "You little monster! You beady-eyed ingrate!" The woman lunged right, the pony left. If it had been anyone else, he might have allowed himself to see the humor in her predicament.
Instead, he frowned. When he thought of Gracie Day, somehow, even after speaking to her on the phone, he hadn't factored in the passage of time. She was frozen in his mind at fourteen or fifteen. All glittering braces and freckles, skinned knees, smartalecky and annoying.
To him, six years her senior, Gracie, his best friend's little sister, had not even been a blip on his radar. He had not considered her a girl in the sense that he considered girls. And at that age? Had he ever considered anything but girls?
He'd been twenty-one when he saw her last. He and Graham mustering out, on their first tour of Afghanistan, and her looking at him with fury glittering in her tear-filled eyes. I hate you. How couldyou talk him into this?
Graham had started to argue—the whole let's-go-play-soldier thing had been his idea, after all—but Rory had nudged him, and Graham had understood instantly.
Let me take it, let me be the bad guy in your kid sister 's eyes.
The memory made him wince. They had looked out for each other. They'd had each other's backs. Probably thousands of times since they had said good-bye to Gracie that day. But the one time it had really counted…
Rory shook off the thoughts, and focused on the woman chasing ponies.
That kid sister.
Gracie Day was small and slender, deliciously curved in all the right places. Auburn hair that had probably started the day perfectly controlled and prettily coiffed, had long since surrendered to humidity and the pitfalls of pony-chasing. Her hair was practically hissing with bad temper and fell in a wild wave to her bare sun-kissed shoulders.
She was daintily dressed in a wide-skirted cream sundress and matching heels that had probably been perfect for the children's birthday party her event-planning company had just hosted.
But if Gracie had worked at it, she couldn't have chosen a worse outfit for chasing ponies.
The dress was looking rumpled, one slender strap kept sliding off her shoulder, and not only couldn't she get up any speed in those shoes, but the heels kept turning in the grass. At first glance, the smudge on the delectable rise of her bosom might have been mistaken for part of the pattern on the dress. But a closer look—that was not the bosom she'd had at fourteen—and he was pretty sure the bright-green splotch was horse slobber.
"Do you have any idea what glue is made from? Do you?"
Something still in her, then, of that fourteen-year-old girl she had once been. That girl was closer to the surface than the cool, calm and collected Gracie Day she had managed to convince him she was when he had spoken to her on the phone.
"I need to talk to you," he'd said, when he'd finally made it home. By then Graham had already been gone for six months. He'd wanted to tell her the truth.
I failed.
"I can't see why we would need to talk," she'd responded, and the fact was, he'd been relieved.
Talking about what had happened to Graham—and his part in it—was not going to be easy. And while he was not a man who shirked hard things, he had been thankful for the reprieve.
Rory felt a shiver along his spine. They said it was survivor's guilt, but in his heart he felt it was his fault her brother hadn't come home.
Somehow, instead of being a temporary diversion, playing soldier had turned into a career for both of them. Graham, on their third deployment, Afghanistan again, had taken a bullet.
Rory still woke almost every night, sweating, his heart pounding.
Two teenage boys. Something about them. He'd hesitated because they were so young. And then bullets everywhere. Ducking, taking cover. Where was Graham? Out there. Crawling out, pulling him back, cradling him in his arms.
Blood, so much blood.
But the dream woke him before it was done. There was a piece missing from it, words he could not remember though he chased after them once he was awake.
The dream never told him what he needed to know. Had it been those boys? Were they the ones who had fired those shots? What could he have done differently? Could he have shoved Graham behind him, taken it instead?
Check up on Gracie. Those words whispered, a plea.
You didn't take a dying request lightly. And especially not the dying request of the man who'd been his best friend for more than ten years.
So, back home for six months now, Rory had tried. He called Gracie twice, and admittedly had been somewhat relieved to have been coolly rejected each time. The dreams were bad enough without the reality of having to tell her what had happened, while at the same time sparing her what had happened.
And so, he had followed the letter of Graham's instruction and checked up on her. While he had been away, the company he and his own brother had started—they had begun with race-car graphics and were now taking on the world—had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Once home, done with the military for good, Rory Adams was amazed to find himself a man with considerable resources.
One of whom was named Bridey O'Mitchell. Officially, she was his personal assistant. Unofficially, he considered her his secret weapon.
Bridey, middle-age, British, unflappable, could accomplish anything. Some days, Rory entertained himself by finding impossible challenges for her.
Can you get ice cream delivered to that crew working on the graphics for those Saudi airplanes? I know it's short notice, but do you think you could find half a dozen tickets to the sold-out hockey game? I'd like a koala bear and two kangaroos at the opening of that Aussie tour company we did the buses for.
Checking up on Gracie Day? That had been child's play for Bridey.
And the ensuing report about Gracie Day had been soothingly dull. Gracie was no longer engaged to the fiance Graham had disliked intensely, and she ran a successful event-planning company, Day of Your Life, here in Mason, in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Hers was the "it" company for weddings and anniversaries and special events.
The company had just been chosen to do the major annual fundraiser for Warrior Down, the organization that helped wounded vets and their families.
But Gracie's bread and butter was birthday parties for the children of the well-heeled, politicians and doctors and lawyers and CeOs. She put together the kind of parties that had clowns in them. And bouncy tents. Maybe a magician. And fireworks. The ponies must be an added touch since Rory had received Bridey's very thorough report.
Gracie Day organized the kind of parties that he had never had. In fact, he didn't recall his birthday ever being celebrated, except on one memorable occasion when his mother had ended up face-first in the cake. How old had he been? Six? After that, he'd said no thanks to efforts at celebration.
There. He'd "checked up" on her. Even that little bit of checking had triggered a bad memory, so he wanted to let it go there. Grace Day was doing well.
Still, even as he tried to tell himself he'd obeyed the letter of Graham's last instruction to him, it ate at the honor he had left. Rory had needed to see for himself that Gracie was doing all right. His last call had been a week ago.
And there had been something in her voice.
Even though she had said she was doing fabulously.
He couldn't pinpoint what exactly he had heard in her voice. A certain forced note to the breezy tone? Something guarded, as if she had a secret that she was not planning on revealing to him?
Whatever it was, it wouldn't let him go. Over the past week, the need to see her had grown in urgency. Instinct had become such a big part of his life when he was a soldier, that he found he couldn't ignore that niggling little voice. When he tried, it was just one more thing that woke him in the night, that haunted his dreams.
A little lie to her secretary had sent him to Pondview. "My company is one of the sponsors of Warrior Down. I need to talk to her urgently. And in person."
Just as he'd suspected, the mention of Gracie's pet project got him all the information he needed. Did he feel guilty for lying?
No. Guilt was for guys of a sensitive nature, and he definitely did not qualify. In his house, growing up, later on the battlefield, that was how you stayed alive. You didn't let things touch you.
But Graham dying… Rory shook it off, chose to focus with unnecessary intensity on Gracie. She was sneaking up on a fat black-and-white pony, who, while seeming oblivious, was clearly watching her out of the corner of his eye. She was right on one count: the pony was beady-eyed.
And a whole lot smarter than he looked. Because when she made her move, the pony sidled sideways, out of her grasp. He turned and looked at her balefully, chewing a clump of grass.
Rory winced when her heel embedded itself in the grassy ground, spongy from a recent watering and Gracie pitched forward. The heel snapped o...

14 comments:

  1. Hi Cara, I love the title of this book. Battle for a soldier's heart.. and the excerpt too.

    Thanks for this oppurtunity.

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  2. I can't wait to read about the shetland ponies! This sounds great!

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  3. Nice interview and excerpt.

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  4. Thank you so much for giving the excerpt! So is your insomnia book idea induced? or other stuff? Do you ever feel that the book just has to come out, like it just flows?

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  5. My Mother used to sing A BICYCLE BUILT FOR TWO around the house when I was little. You are correct, it is now firmly fixed in my head.

    When it comes to that much money I think being PC goes right out the window - at first thought anyway.

    I loved the excerpt thank you.

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  6. The first Shetland Horse story I read was Misty of Chincoteague. I was hooked into the world of horses after that. A Bicycle Built for Two has never left my mind. Whenever I think of bicycling, I think of a two seaters on a bicycle.

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  7. Hi Cara, thank u for giving the excerpt, this is sounds a great book. I loved your books, and collected some of them.

    Thank u for this awesome giveaway :)

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  8. sounds a great book, love reading about soldier story :)

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  9. Cara I absolutely just simply adore your books and this one sounds MINDBLOWING ! Thank you for the awesome give away and for sharing your post with us and thank you Sara for bringing Care to the blog!

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  10. The cover is lovely! It's so romantic and makes me want to read it. I'm dealing with insomnia lately though...thank goodness for books!

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  11. This post is full of memories for me. I lived next door to a paddock with shetland ponies as a child when I was seven. I also went to hospital at that time and an old guy taught me the Daisy song. I can never hear it without thinking of that.

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  12. Thank You all for stopping by and sharing your thoughts :)

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  13. Really every children get pleasure in the playground place for playground equipment.

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  14. Playground equipment has evolved to make things more fun for kids. Wilkins Solutions provides playground equipment in Orlando for schools, hotels, apartments and more. playgorund equipment Orlando.

    ReplyDelete