Shadow Ops Alpha
by Sarah Luddington Genre: M/M Military Romance
Fortune is a fickle bastard for a soldier, Luke Sinclair knows that more than most.
As a Special Forces Operative he finished his career with an elite British black ops department in Military Intelligence. As tough as it had been, Luke loved his job and his partner, Sam Locke. Sam had once been a US Navy SEAL.
Being a mercenary gives Luke freedom of movement even if he cannot escape his memories.
When their world fell apart, Luke thought he would never see Sam again, until they are recalled to London and sent to Syria. They must transport the one person able to finish tearing them apart. A terrorist who destroyed their lives. Luke and Sam fight to save the world from imminent destruction and fight just as hard for each other.
From the deserts of Syria the men chase a nuclear bomb and weaponised virus through Armenia and into Russia, finding so much more than revenge on the way.
This is a military gay romance with a high death count, torture (not BDSM), and a lot of action.
Sarah Luddington is the author of historical gay romance and contemporary gay romance. She is a gay rights activist, holds three martial arts black belts, a degree in Medieval History and far too many dogs. She lives on a mountain in Spain and in her spare time writes and reads LGBT fiction.
Come and visit her website at www.romanticadventures.net or Facebook for more information. She always welcomes contact with her readers.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I grew up in rural Somerset in England. I now live in Spain. I’ve had all sorts of jobs over the years, from stable hand to running a publishing company. I’ve lived in a squat and now own my home in the mountains. At school, I was a disaster but worked hard and loved drama and history most. I’ve spent my life wanting to succeed at writing and telling stories. I think I am beginning to get there!
I became an author because in my late teens and early twenties I was too poor to buy books (or food at the time) and I’d read everything I wanted to in our local library, they didn’t have a large fantasy section in those days. In an effort to write something I wanted to read, I began scribbling and never stopped. Being poor is deeply motivating when all you want to do is escape and the only place it is possible to escape to is the inside of your head. I didn’t know I was dyslexic then, so never thought to take it seriously because I was ‘thick’. Just goes to show what a little self-belief and a whole lotta – fuck ‘em – can do!
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I have a tattoo of a Celtic Wolf on my right hip to represent the first real hero I created in book form; it’s for Lancelot du Lac and The Knights of Camelot series. Not sure what tattoo I would chose for my Shadow Ops series, maybe a rainbow coming out of the barrel of a gun?
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
A tarot card reader told me that I would live overseas in my middle age (I was 25 when I had the reading) and be a successful author. Almost there, the successful part that is, the middle aged part happened all too quickly.
What are some of your pet peeves?
In writing – wasted words. I hate wasted words. If one word can do a job, use that one word – not ten!
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Cuddling the dogs, walking the dogs, pretty much doing the same to my husband and enjoying a really good whiskey.
Who is your hero and why?
Husband – he’s awesome and a great comedy writer. He’s my best friend as well as the dogs and spends his life trying to shelter me from the real world so I can write and have fun in my worlds.
What are you passionate about these days?
Human rights and the environment. Especially LGBTQ+ rights and the very definite necessity of understanding the extremes of Islam and the rise of White Supremacists in this world. If we don’t understand them, we can’t educate them and if we don’t educate them we can’t defeat their ideology. Also my dogs. I love my dogs. They are my friends. I’m pretty passionate about beer as well.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Star Wars. Every time I hear that music it fills me with joy. Doing battle against the evil empire! Yeah!
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie? Fortune’s Soldier. Hands down, the rest are too complex but this story is very cinematic and keeps the story tight.
What inspired you to write this book?
I love action and adventure. I love reading about worldwide politics and religions. I love trying to understand other cultures and how history affects us today. I also try to understand what we ask of the men we send to war, the front line guys. Those who pull the triggers. What we ask of them is extraordinary and although I explore this in the Knights of Camelot series, I wanted to start exploring how it affects modern men. I also want to show how gay men are accepted, or not, in the Forces. What it costs them in particular. Also, the LGBTQ+ community deserves rip-roaring action books.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More stories where I turn icons of history and contemporary literature into heroes for the LGBTQ+ community. We deserve heroes and if I have to write them, then I will! These iconic characters, ones that have shaped our understanding of what it means to be heroic and honourable, should also be gay or trans or queer. Why can’t King Arthur or Robin Hood be gay? Why can’t elite soldiers be gay? Does it make them weak? Or less able? Of course not, so that’s why I write these stories.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Not Yet! I’m writing them for Luke and Sam, also Mac and Jacob but time is my enemy…
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters inFortune’s Soldier?
We have Sergeant Luke Sinclair. He is ex-Special Forces from the SAS (Special Air Service in the UK) and seconded to Unit 12, a covert British Special Operations group. He left in his early forties and became a mercenary, working alone. He is the first man to be ‘out’ in the SAS.
Sergeant Sam Locke, an ex-SEAL team soldier from the US who joined Unit 12 after falling out with the CIA. He comes from Texas and has an attitude to match. He’s tough, rough and always ready for a fight. He doesn’t believe in rules and he says “I’m chaos and madness”.
Colonel Elizabeth Brant is in her fifties, she tough but fair and has lead Unit 12 for eight years so far. She is a warrior but also a shrewd operator. As a commanding officer she is trusted by her people, intolerant of idiots and firm about her objectives. Brant is a woman who had to prove herself repeatedly to be where she is and she takes her job seriously.
Aria runs the agency Luke uses for his mercenary work. She is young, a computer wizard and has contacts all over the world to help with everything from sourcing a gun to helicopters off the books. She works in the grey areas of the world with keyboard skills that match Luke and Sam’s in the field.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
The book is told in the first person from Sargent Luke Sinclair’s point of view. Luke is an elite soldier and highly educated, he’s tough, ruthless but governed by rules. He uses them as a way to control his rougher and more dangerous instincts. Army life suited him very well. When he fell in love for the first time he didn’t know what to do about it, how to handle it as the man he loved happened to be straight. He followed the rules and kept it to himself until he snapped when Sam’s life was endangered and he confessed his feelings. When Sam came to terms with this, Luke’s life was complete. They worked together, slept together, fought together but Sam’s panic over commitment broke them apart.
When Sam betrayed Luke, our hero closed down. No more emotion. He built a small and simple life for himself and his dog in the English countryside, going abroad for work, but refused to be emotionally involved with anyone. He was angry and alone. Luke’s journey in this book teaches him about forgiveness, compassion and asks him accept that faults are a part of being human.
Sam Locke had no idea Luke was gay when they first served together in Afghanistan. Sam loved women. Lots of them. He rarely played by the rules, never committed and didn’t believe in anything other than Luke and his guns. He is brash, funny, and far too familiar with risk-taking. He uses this outward personality to hide. It took him a long time to realise he could find Luke attractive and that he might be more bi-sexual than heterosexual. It scares him to be honest.
Sam’s journey in this book is about coming to terms with how he feels, who he is and what he wants for his future. He broke Luke’s heart and has never recovered from the aftershocks. He tried to build a new life but has never succeeded without Luke. When they are together the world is complete.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
The tender moments the men share among the blood and dust. Those times when they know they face death but if they face it together they are stronger. When their humanity peeks out from behind the cold faced soldier.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I’d love to spend a day with Luke and Sam learning how to use a gun. I think it would be hysterically funny.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
I spent two years playing with these characters and dreaming up storylines long before I sat down to write it, this is their story. I just typed the words out and tried to stop at least some of the bullets from flying off the page.
I’d like to think people would read this book for its action and adventure, also the great sex, but mostly because I’d like people to understand what can happen to soldiers when they leave the Armed Forces. How that life affects them and what we, as society, expect from them – often asking the impossible. It’s a subject that will continue through the series. We want our elite warriors to protect us, then we ask them to return to being ‘normal’ people when we discard them. They have almost no help with this readjustment and yet they lay down their health, physical and mental, and often their lives to protect our way of life.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Men like Chris Ryan and Andy McNab – who to go from serving in the SAS to writing about it and living in a domestic world. It must be the most difficult transition we ask of our service men and women who become elite warriors.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I generally think: What if (insert exciting thought of the day), then start writing, then I realise I don’t know enough and start reading around a subject. For my latest project, Fortune’s Soldier, I’ve become an expert on Armenian railways… Why? Because my boys have to blow one up and I had to get it right. I also know more about Russian politics and Iran and Syria than I did three months ago. I’ve been reading action and adventure stories written by special forces operatives like they are crack to an addict so I can learn all the tec speak of SEAL teams and the SAS.
Basically, I do a lot of research!
Do you see writing as a career?
If only to keep the voices in my head quiet, I need to make this my career.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read all the time. I have Kindle Unlimited without which I couldn’t afford my habit. I love gay romance, especially if they are complex and political, Tal Bauer and Cole McCade are two of my favourites. I love action and adventure stories, political thrillers and urban fantasy as well.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I have a playlist or favourite album going in my ears most of the time, but my house is always noisy so I’ve learned to write even with the TV on and dogs barking at the local goat herd.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I usually have at least two, and number three taking shape as I take the dogs out for long walks.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Computer. My first computer set me free! I have dyslexia and the endless mistakes I make with a pen and paper used to make me cry, so when I bought my first second hand PC it was like being given a gift from God. The freedom to explore strange new worlds…
Advice they would give new authors?
Practice. Take advice but trust your gut. Don’t get hooked into all the ‘traditional publishing is best’ nonsense. We have Amazon, use it! Then practice some more. Learn about how to tell stories, from using the correct grammar, to how to form a compelling plot. And practice. Never give up. Never stop learning. Never be afraid of ditching a project if you lose the thrill. And yes, more practice.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Depression, which is a tricky one because sometimes writing causes it, sometimes I get it because I’m not writing enough. Day job. Having to leave the house and think about ‘normal’ stuff.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Tricky one this because I always write from a man’s point of view except for my first two books and the women in them aren’t exactly normal. I can’t write ‘normal’ women, they usually turn out to be strong good guys or bad guys. Domestic situations aren’t my thing so they can use a sword, give and order or, for my latest one, shoot someone, just as easily as a man. Writing about men is simple for me but writing about women is very difficult and I’m not sure I pull it off all the time.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and no. It doesn’t stop me writing but it can stop me writing well. I’ve ditched dozens of stories I’m half way through because of it.
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