Operation K-9 Brothers Book 1
by Sandra Owens Genre: Military Romance
Navy SEAL Jack Daniels (save the jokes, he’s heard them all) and his trusty Belgian Malinois sidekick, Dakota, are back home in Asheville, North Carolina, after a bomb left them scarred. Unable to accept that he’ll never be able to return to his team, Jack is looking for a miracle. What he isn’t looking for is a permanent relationship, though he’s open to a no-strings distraction at the magic hands of gorgeous local potter Nichole Masters.
Nichole is on a losing streak with men. Her ex-boyfriend won’t stay gone, a competitor is out to ruin her business and even her rescue pup, Rambo, is refusing to get in line. A chance run-in with a navy SEAL turned canine companion trainer might solve the dog problem. The fact Jack is easy on the eyes doesn’t hurt, either.
But when Nichole feels like she’s being watched, Jack is the only person she can turn to. He’s a protector and problem solver by nature and training. Accepting his protection is one thing—Nichole didn’t count on falling in love.
“I don’t know if I’d exactly call it stalking.” Jack sighed when Nichole raised her brows. “Yeah, okay, I stalked you, but only long enough to find out where you worked. I’m an ass.”
“An ass and a toad,” she said as she slid off the rock, landing next to Dakota. “Is he always a toadstool?” she asked his dog. Dakota huffed, sounding way too agreeable. “You’re donkey doo, you know that?”
Jack couldn’t help it. He laughed. That got him a glare from Nichole. Even Dakota, the traitorous thing, gave him a dirty look. “You have a talent for name calling. Donkey doo just replaced doggie doo as my favorite one.”
She pushed up, crossed her arms over her chest, and scowled. He wondered if he should tell her that her attempt to glare him into next week wasn’t working, mostly because her arms were pushing her breasts up. He was a man. Breasts trumped all else, and hers were ten times better than perfect.
“Eyes up here, soldier!”
He could tell her that a SEAL was never referred to as a soldier, but she could call him soldier all night if she let him anywhere near those sweet girls. As difficult as it was, he managed to drag his gaze up to her face.
“Sorry,” he said. Or not. Now that he knew his scars didn’t disgust her, like a broken record, his male brain was stuck on one word. Sex. Now. Okay, that was two words, so he wasn’t as boneheaded as he was acting.
Sex now with her.
There. A complete sentence. He could think again. That was good.
He tried a smile but didn’t get one back. He sighed. It was time to grovel. “You’re right. I’m donkey doo, doggie doo, a toad, and all those other things you called me. I knew it was creepy to stalk you, but—” She narrowed her eyes. “Right, no buts. I’ll take you home, then I’ll disappear from your life.”
“Probably a good idea.”
He was glad she thought so because he sure didn’t. Although it was undoubtedly for the best, considering the way his chest hurt at the thought of never seeing her again. Better to put a stop to those kinds of feelings while he still could.
“I’m sorry, Nichole. Really.” He tugged his shirt back on, then picked up his pack from where he’d dropped it on the rock.
“So that’s it? You’re not going to try to change my mind?”
Was that what she wanted him to do? Women were confusing. He glanced at the dogs. Rambo had woken from his nap and was sitting quietly—a minor miracle that—next to Dakota, both of them staring at him, as if waiting to see if he’d manage to screw this up. He tried to think of the right words, but his mind was a complete blank.
To hell with it. Didn’t actions speak louder than words? He strode to Nichole, cupped her cheeks, lifted her face, and lowered his mouth to hers. When she didn’t slap him, he took that as a positive sign. On a soft sigh, she melted against him.
He raised his head. “This is me doing my best to change your mind. Is it working?”
“Yes, you creepy stalker, it is. Now shut up and kiss me again.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He was trained to follow orders, and this was one he was definitely on board with. Her breath quickened, matching his own as their tongues tangled. Drunk on endorphins, his worries about his arm, his future, about anything melted away. He’d found his oasis, and he never wanted to stop kissing her.
Wild need raged through him, and he wanted to devour her right here. Right now. He wasn’t sure he would ever get enough of her, of her taste, of the feel of her body pressed to his. He wanted to consume her and be consumed by her.
“You taste like cherries,” he murmured against her mouth.
How could he resist a woman who smelled like vanilla and tasted like cherries? He broke away from her mouth and peppered kisses across her cheek until he reached her neck. He pressed his tongue over her pulse point, feeling the rapid beat of her heart. She purred, sounding like a kitten. He smiled against her skin, gave serious consideration to taking her down to the ground with him.
This wasn’t the place—and maybe even not yet the time—for giving free rein to what he wanted, what he was practically dying for. He reluctantly pulled away, then rested his forehead against hers. She scared him. The timing was all wrong for the connection and chemistry they had between them.
Yet he knew he wouldn’t walk away from her, even though he should.
A best selling, award winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She's jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed death-defying stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing. Sandra is a member of Romance Writers of America's Honor Roll, and a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
For years, I’d write stories and would then stick them in a file. When I retired from my job as the general manager of a Harley-Davidson dealership, I decided to get serious about my writing. Traditional publishing is a difficult business to break into these days. Not only do you need a good story, but tons of luck definitely helps.
I got really lucky when I was a finalist in a big romance writing contest. Because of that contest, I got an agent and a contract with a big publisher. That early book went to auction, with several publishers bidding on it. I never dared to dream something like that would happen. The beginning of my writing career was so freaking amazing.
I’m now hybrid, which means I publish both traditionally with a publisher and I’m also an indie author with eight self-published romance books.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m a thrill seeker. I’ll ride any rollercoaster, jump out of a plane (did that and it was awesome), flew in a stunt plane doing crazy stunts, and rode a motorcycle for years. I do miss my bike. I also flew in an air combat game where you go up in a fighter plane (it was a WWII training plane) and laser shoot at the other guy. That was a blast.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
I love airplanes and have always said that in my next life I’m going to be a Blue Angles pilot. For Christmas one year, my husband gave me an awesome present. He signed me up for air combat, where two WWII fighter planes dogfight with lasers. The company that did this was in L.A., and they fly you out over the desert to play. I arrived a little early and was sitting in the lobby when this guy wearing a flight jacket with all kinds of patches on it comes in. He was my opponent. He asked who he was going up against, and when they pointed at me, he scowled. “You scheduled me against a girl?”
I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking what a jerk. So, we go through an hour of preflight instructions, and he was just rude the whole time because I was female. After putting on our flight suits, he takes off with his pilot and then my pilot and I take off. We get out over the desert and start dogfighting, trying to shoot each other with the lasers. The two pilots are doing all kinds of maneuvers, and after about ten minutes of playing, his pilot radios that they’re going to fly off for a while. My pilot laughs and says, “He’s sick. Guess you showed him that girls rock.”
“You want to have some fun?” my pilot asked. “You bet,” I said. We spent the rest of my allotted time doing all kinds of crazy stunts. It was a blast.
When my pilot and I landed, I went inside to take my flight suit off. The jerk guy was already there, and his face was still green. I couldn’t resist saying, “Boy, that sure was fun, wasn’t it?” He muttered something under his breath that didn’t sound very nice, then stormed out. Guess he couldn’t take a joke, but I thought the whole thing was hilarious.
What are some of your pet peeves?
I’m a very easy-going person and not much bothers me, but... people who leave their grocery carts in the middle of the aisle—not leaving you room to get around them with your cart—and walk away drives me bonkers! LOL
Where were you born/grew up at?
Born and raised in Florida. I now live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I don’t at all miss Florida.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Writing, reading, and wine!
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I think OPERATION K-9 Brothers would make a great movie! You have a hot romance, a SEAL hero with a soft heart, and puppies. Who doesn’t love puppies?
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A kitten. Definitely a kitty.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been fascinated by our military heroes, and I often wonder about the difficulties they face when they return to civilian life. OPERATION K-9 BROTHERS, KEEPING GUARD, AND MOUNTAIN RESCUE, the three books in this series (all out this year), are about three SEAL teammates… what happened to them and the challenges they are facing. The last thing they want or expect is to fall in love, but life is full of surprises, right?
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have some stories brewing in my mind, but my concentration right now is on the OPERATION K-9 BROTHERS series, so I’ll let those future stories simmer until I’m ready to start a new series.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
I’m often asked that, and the answer is… I don’t know. A character or a story idea will just pop into my head, and I honestly don’t know where they come from.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I did a lot of research on military war dogs and therapy dogs, and it was really fascinating, especially the military dogs. How they’re trained was really interesting, but my favorite was a book I discovered that was stories of actual war dogs, how they’re chosen, their handlers, and their missions. Like their human teammates, these dogs are true heroes.
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 spend time with my hero in OPERATION K-9 BROTHERS, Jack Daniels, a.k.a. Whiskey. First, he’s easy on the eyes, so I’d probably spend most of my time just staring at him. LOL Also, he’s funny and kind and protective of those he cares about. He’s a dog whisperer, so I think it would be fascinating to watch him work with dogs. Basically, I just love everything about him.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
OMG, they totally hijack the story. All. The. Time. But it’s usually for the best, even though I don’t think so when they’re doing it.
What did you edit out of this book?
Well, I deleted the first three chapters and started over because by the end of the third chapter, Jack had met the woman of his dreams, had his issues solved, and had his happily ever after. So, I had a very short story. Ha! So, I started over and changed everything.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
They pop in and introduce themselves as I write. Some of my favorite secondary characters were surprises and ended up as a main character in future books.
Do you see writing as a career?
It is my career. I’m truly blessed that I’ve done well with it.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
That it changes daily and can give you whiplash.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read three to four books a week. Along with loving to read, I consider it a part of my job to keep up with what books and authors are popular with readers.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Noise! Silence makes me antsy. I can and do shut out background noise, but I can’t seem to shut out silence. Weird, I know.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I tried writing two books at a time once, and I kept getting names and scenes mixed up, so one at a time for me.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
This might sound weird, but my heroes are always easier to write than my heroines. I’ve thought about that and I think it’s because I write the kind of men I could fall in love with and they like me falling in love with them, so they talk to me. My heroines can be pretty closed mouthed when they want (which happens a lot), so I struggle sometimes to get into their heads.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I think so. It’s never happened to me (so far), thankfully.