M. L. Buchman has over 40 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and twice Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” placing two titles on their “Top 101 Romances of the Last 10 Years” list. He has been nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews and is a 2016 RWA RITA finalist. In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. He is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics.
One of the greatest joys in writing a series is the chance to revisit favorite characters. Maybe a chance to learn more about them, perhaps a moment to just be reminded how awesome they were in their own book.
Colonel Michael Gibson has always been high on my list—the hero’s hero. He has been a fixture in my Night Stalkers series since the first book The Night Is Mine. In Night Stalkers #6, By Break of Day, he finally found his own love story. And he did it all while being the highest-ranked, most kick-ass warrior of the elite Delta Force.
So, when I started the Delta Force series, celebrating the first (and as of this writing, still fictional) women to achieve entry into the world’s most effective counter-terrorism team, it was only natural for Michael to want to want through.
In Heart Strike Staff Sergeant Melissa “The Cat” Moore, has just completed her graduating room-clearing exercise. The fake living room is strewn with seven, very dead, mannequins of terrorists—total time from forcible entry to everyone down, three seconds. The five members of the next training class can only stare in shock, just as Melissa had six months before. The third group of people in the room is Melissa’s three-person team.
Then there’s one more:
There was a fourth type of person in the room, just one.
Colonel Michael Gibson, the most senior and scariest operator of them all. He’d stood unflinching during their entire raid as rounds flew close by either side of him. He was a bird colonel, yet he still fought out on the front lines. There wasn’t anyone else like him—definitely not in the room, probably not anywhere in The Unit. Which meant he was the top warrior anywhere in any military.
No matter how many were in the room, he would always need a category of his own, commanding absolute respect by the simple fact of his presence.
“These are the graduates of the class before yours,” Gibson informed the latest selectees/freed hostages in his surprisingly quiet voice. His words earned him the same gasps of surprise it had elicited from her own class six months earlier. “Operator Training Course will begin the day after tomorrow at oh-six-hundred. Get some sleep.”
And they’d need it too. Fresh from the single most harrowing part of the entire month of Delta Selection, the Commander’s Review Board, she’d been hammered and desperately wanted to let loose a bit. But her body had been wiser and she’d slept most of the thirty-six hours between the end of Selection and the start of OTC. And he hadn’t been kidding about needing sleep. That oh-six-hundred formation, after only one day’s break, had been the start of a twelve-hour day of shooting skills requiring immense concentration.
The newbie woman recovered enough for a question to cross her face, though it was another ten seconds before it connected to her body and her hand shot up. Unlike Melissa’s own fair, blond, and built, she was a sleek-figured brunette with skin just dark enough that it wouldn’t peel at the first exposure to sunlight each spring like Melissa’s.
Gibson nodded at the newbie in that slow, this-had-better-be-good way of his.
“How many women in The Unit?”
More than Melissa had been able to articulate six months ago when Carla Anderson had magically materialized a single foot in front of her.
“Two, now. You will make three. Feel free to inspect the results of this team’s attack,” he addressed the rest of the group. Then the Colonel did one of his fade things that was so fascinating to watch.
As the five new graduates of the Selection Process rose to inspect the carnage that she, Mutt, and Jeff had wrought on the seven terrorist mannequins, Gibson moved at exactly the same speed they did, even using gestures common to them and nothing like his own daunting self. To them it would feel as if he was just one of them, milling about the room, trying to understand how the attack had been executed; except he wasn’t. He moved across the room without drawing their attention, then shooed Melissa out the doorway and into the corridor beyond, with no recruit the wiser to his seemingly magical disappearance.
Gibson always reminded her of someone, but she could never pin down who. They’d seen him only rarely during OTC; typically he was still forward deployed despite his age and rank. But he’d been there for her Commander’s Review Board, her graduation, and now her achieving full operator status. She didn’t recognize his face; she had an exceptional memory for faces. But still he was irritatingly familiar, irritating because she couldn’t pin it down and there was no way they could have possibly met before.
He had showed up one other time during the fourth month of their training. By that point her class was totally down with the basic Delta skills. They were convinced that it was just a matter of honing them from that point on.
They’d shared a pretty cocky, we got this attitude…until the silent Colonel showed up. Their class, still six people at that point, had been sent to track Gibson in a tiny five-acre plot of woods. Not even overgrown, it should have been a cakewalk.
They didn’t find him.
But he found them.
None of them even saw a teammate go down.
And none of them had seen the man who took down all six of them; to drive the lesson home, he hadn’t been gentle. With their due humbling and numerous bruises handed out, he’d spent a week showing them how to do the same. After that, Delta training had shifted—no longer about honing what they knew, it had become about discovering what they didn’t know.
A quartermaster was waiting for them in the corridor. While the recruits’ voices slowly came back to life in the shoot-room, her team turned in their weapons, signing everything back in.
She felt practically naked without the HK rifle over her shoulder and the Glock handgun strapped over her solar plexus.
Been through a lot of changes, girl. And she’d bet there were a whole lot more to come.
SERGEANT RICHIE “Q” GOLDMAN: The smartest soldier on any teamSERGEANT MELISSA “THE CAT” MOORE: Newest on the team, determined to be the bestRescued from an icy mountaintop by a Delta operative, Melissa Moore has never met a challenge she can’t conquer. Not only she will make Delta Force, she will be the best female warrior in The Unit, and woe to anyone who says otherwise. Technical wizard Richie Goldman is Bond’s “Q” turned warrior. A genius about everything except women, he takes point on the team’s most dangerous mission yet. When the Delta Force team goes undercover in the depths of the Colombian jungle, surviving attacks from every side requires that Richie and Melissa strike right at the heart of the matter…and come out with their own hearts intact.
Check out the Delta Force series:
Up For Grabs:
- 1 Print copy of Heart Strike
- US shipping ONLY.
- Please fill out the Rafflecopter form.
Special thanks to Sourcebooks for sponsoring this giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway