Saturday, November 15, 2014

eARC Review, Excerpt, #Free ebook #Giveaway: Semper Fi by Keira Andrews

Reader's Choice Game! We would like to thank author  Keira Andrews for donating an ebook copy of a title from her backlist to one lucky commentator who gets chosen. Make sure to leave a comment below to get a chance to win a free ebook.


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.




Title: Semper Fi
Genre: Historical M/M; WWII era
Author: Keira Andrews
Publisher: Self published
Cover artist: Dar Albert
Publication date: November 11, 2014
Word count: 95,000
Heat level: Explicit

Formats: Mobi, ePub, PDF


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?

Excerpt

1942

Bellowing black smoke in its wake, the train swayed as it crossed the Rappahannock River, the boisterous singing and chatter of the men inside muffling the creaking wood of the ancient cars. As Cal stumbled, a strong hand on his arm steadied him, and he smiled down at the man before flopping into the opposite seat. He held out a bottle. “Drink? It’s allegedly bourbon.”
A small smile lifted the man’s lips. “Sure.” He took the bottle and tipped it back. He tried to hide his grimace, but couldn’t quite. “I’ve never really liked the hard stuff.”
“Well, in defense of bourbon, this isn’t exactly Kentucky’s finest.” Cal peered out the window past the sleeping man beside him, who drooled against the streaked glass. The sun splashed orange across the horizon as it sank out of sight. “Hard to believe we’ll be in South Carolina in the morning. Assuming this dirty old pile of planks doesn’t disintegrate along the way.”
A pot-bellied stove in the middle of the train car belched, emitting only a small amount of heat in the January chill. Cal shivered against the competing drafts, wishing he’d brought a warmer jacket. But he supposed they’d all be trading their civvies for uniforms soon enough, and he’d yearn for the northern cold before too long.
“Let’s hope we’ll be shipping out in something a little sturdier,” the man said before passing the bottle to the recruit beside him, who stopped screeching an Irish sea shanty long enough to gulp down a quarter of the swill.
“I’m Cal, by the way.” Cal extended his hand. “Cal Cunningham.”
“Jim Bennett.”
If Jim noticed how smooth Cal’s palm was in comparison to his own, he didn’t let on. His neatly combed hair was a blond that probably lightened in the sun, and there was a general wholesomeness about him that indicated he spent significant time outside. Faded freckles dusted Jim’s pale skin, and he wore a blue button-front shirt that couldn’t match the brilliance of his eyes.
As most of the men around them launched into a recitation of a limerick about a man from Nantucket, a fresh waft of burning coal drifted on the air. Cal chuckled ruefully. “I think this is the Marine Corps’ way of telling us not to expect many creature comforts where we’re going.” He reclaimed the bottle and took another swig. “Where do you hail from?” he asked Jim.
“Outside a little place called Tivoli, New York.”
“We must have been on the same train down to DC. I’m from Manhattan.” Cal thought he’d gotten a good look at everyone, but he’d definitely remember handsome Jim Bennett with the blue eyes. “How far is Tivoli from the city?” 
“About three hours or so.”
“Hey, we’re practically neighbors.”
Jim smiled. “I suppose so. I’ve never been out of the Hudson Valley before today.”
Cal laughed before realizing Jim was serious. He ran a hand through his thick hair. “Uh, so what do you do? No, no, let me guess. Farming.”
“Of a sort. My family owns an apple orchard. You?”
“I guess you could say I’m in the family business too. Truth is I don’t do much of anything.” He put a cigarette between his lips and offered the pack to Jim, who shook his head. Cal opened his lighter and struck a flame.
A few kerosene lamps shone through the car, casting shadows and light over the faces of the recruits. In the flickering glow, Jim’s expression was placid. He seemed to be waiting for Cal to say more.
Exhaling a cloud of smoke, Cal leaned forward in his seat, talking quietly in the cacophony surrounding them. “After Princeton, my father just assumed I’d come work for him. Gave me an office and everything. Great view of the Statue of Liberty, but I’ve never had much to do. He doesn’t trust me with anything important.”
Jim took this in. “What’s the business?”
“Banking.”
“You don’t mean…Cunningham Savings and Loan?”
“My father’s pride and joy. My grandfather came over from Scotland and built himself a little empire. I’m Calhoun Cunningham the third, so I guess one day it’ll all be mine.”
Shaking his head, Jim laughed incredulously. “Geez, couldn’t you have gotten a commission in the army or navy? How did you end up here?”
The wheels of the train shrieked as it rumbled south. Cal shrugged with a grin. “Couldn’t think of anything that would piss off the old man quite so much as enlisting in the Marines.”
Jim returned the smile. “I suppose that’s one reason for joining up.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for fighting for my country and destroying the forces of evil. What about you?” He sat back, inhaling a lungful of sweet smoke and relaxing against the seat.
“After the Japs hit Pearl Harbor, I enlisted as soon as I could. My father’s not doing very well these days, but my wife will look after him.”
Disappointment flickered through Cal. Not that he expected clean-cut apple farmer Jim Bennett to be anything but a straight arrow. “Wife, huh? Did you get hitched before you left?”
“No, not long after high school. I took a few night classes at the local college and met Ann there. She worked at the cafĂ©.” He opened his wallet and handed over a picture of a pretty brunette and a young girl. “My wife and my daughter, Sophie.”
“That’s a real nice family you’ve got. How old is she?” Cal pointed to the child.
“Two and a half. She was actually born on my twentieth birthday.” Jim gazed at the photo and smiled wistfully. “She’s my special girl.” He glanced around as another bawdy song began and tucked the picture away. “Are you married?”
Cal grinned. “Nope. In twenty-four years there hasn’t been a woman yet who’s been able to pin me down.” He didn’t add that there never would be. 
The train shuddered alarmingly, wheels wailing as everyone held on. A recruit near the end of the car stood on his seat with arms out for balance.
“All right, boys. We’d better all sing this train along or we won’t live to see boot camp, let alone the war!” He launched into “Chattanooga Choo Choo” with a voice that wasn’t half bad.
As they joined in the chorus, Cal and Jim shared a smile.
~



Review
My Rating: (5 of 5 Stars) 5
The Multiplier Rating Takes Effect


You know what? I really feel lucky.

I feel lucky to have been a father's daughter who listend to his tales of World War II as he had experienced it as a little boy of 7. I feel lucky that he kept a diary of sorts and I got to read them, the stories he told of pilots and soldiers who marched the grounds where our family's ancestral house was built on. He kept me entertained with stories he read from his vast collection of WWII biographies and documentaries. 

I feel lucky that there is an author such as Keira Andrews who was able to write a historical novel about two men who survived the horrors of Guadalcanal  and who finally found love in each other, even as they fought hard to resist that love in a time where said love was not only illegal, it was punishable by death in some countries.

Semper Fi is the story of two marines who learned to lean on each other so they could get through the gruelling boot camp training and finally the horrors of the jungle and war. Two men who relied on each other, one feeling more than he should, the other feeling more than he understood.

When war was finally done, they each went their separate ways, yet they were still emotionally bound. Cal goes back to his privileged family, one that he knew could never understand, accept, nor live with his homosexuality. Jim goes back to his wife and little girl, a broken man suffering from a trauma his dreams relived over and over again. It was a time when PTSD was not even thought to be a disease and no relief could be found from therapy nor medication.

When Jim's wife dies, he reaches out to Cal who only gladly went where his heart and soul was. He was met with mixed emotions from the little family but Cal, being Cal, he was a leader and soon was able to integrate himself and get full acceptance. When Jim could no longer deny his feelings, Cal met him head on, knowing he had to take this chance or lose all sense of sanity.

The journey these two men take, their friendship turning into love, their struggles to make it in the 'real' world, all were beautifully and emotionally written, it took me a mere 3 hours to finish this three part novel, one that surprised even myself as this is not only action packed, this is full on drama and romance laced with heated erotica, not to mention lengthy.

This is an unbelievably beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL story that should never be missed nor disregarded. This is the one book that has solidified my belief that this author, she has a knack for storytelling that is visually erotic, heartbreaking and full of love and hope.

Note: You know, I really thought I would not use the multiplier rating this often, especially as the year is just about to end. But with authors like Keira Andrews coming up with such beautiful stories of love and survival, I can't but help use the rating.


Also by Keira Andrews

 The Chimera Affair (The Chimera Affair #1)
The Argentine Seduction (The Chimera Affair, #1.5)
Love Match (Love Match #1)
City of Lights (Love Match #2)
Eight Nights (Eight Nights #1)
Daybreak (Eight Nights #2)
The Station
Earthly Desires (Tempting Tales, #1)
Ascending Hearts (Tempting Tales, #2)
Voyageurs
The City of Counts
A Taste of Midnight
Love's Nest (Tempting Tales, #3)
Love Has No Boundaries Anthology: Volume 1
Unconditional Surrender - An M/M Military Bundle
Lover's Thrall

To get a chance to win a reader's choice ebook copy from back titles written by Keira Andrews, leave a comment below and make sure to leave your email address. 

We will randomly pick 1 lucky commentator and the author will personally email them their ebook title and version of  choice. 

To claim prize, make sure to tell us what format you prefer in the email you send us after winner is announced. 

Game ends Nov 22.


17 comments:

  1. Great post and love the time period!
    juliesmall2016(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  2. cant wait to read
    jmarinich33@aol.com and mobi please

    ReplyDelete
  3. After reading A Forbidden Rumspringa, I have picked up several of Keira's books. I've purchased this one but haven't gotten to start reading it yet. Thanks for the chance. Mobi please. flutterfli01 (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the great post and giveaway! I've heard lots of great things about your last couple of books so now I'm really looking forward to reading your books.
    Jczlapin@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've been a fan ever since I read Love Match - still my most favorite of Keira's books. Also really loved Rumspringa and looking forward to the next one.
    lgrant1@san.rr.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love the excerpt. Please count me in.

    alishead1 @ yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. please count me in

    leetee2007(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  8. Thank you for the chance!!! mevalem258 AT gmail DOT com

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  9. Sounds like a great book. Please count me in.

    dannyfiredragon at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love Keira's books! Thanks for the giveaway.
    denisesc21(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  11. Love Keira's books and this one sounds amazing! Thanks for the chance!

    anamaribelcardenas@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Count me in please
    cvsimpkins@msn.com

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  13. Love these types of books where true love wins
    Purplecowangels@yahoo.com

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  14. this book so good I think when I read the whole story I will cry and that makes it a great book... jeaninebeaulieu@hotmail.ca

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's still the 22nd. At least where I am. Please say I'm not too late.

    katcleve25@gmail,com

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  16. Game Over!

    Congratulations: Lee Todd!

    We will be sending you an email for confirmation.

    ReplyDelete