KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench, where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site, so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
Military Contemporary Romance
BY DANA WAYNE
Max Logan longs for the joys of home and family he missed growing up in foster care. He fills that emotional void by becoming a kick-ass Marine, and for eighteen years, led his band of brothers from one hell-hole to another. Until the one that nearly destroyed him.
Sixteen months of therapy and rehab put his body back together, but some wounds can’t be seen. Some can’t be healed.
Skylar Ward dreams of a life that includes someone beside her. Someone to share her life and be a father to her young daughter. But if she learned anything from her failed marriage, it was that you don’t rush into a relationship. Only Max Logan sparks her interest. But the handsome, brooding war hero remains aloof.
Seven-year-old Maddie Ward overhears a neighbor tell her mom she needs a male companion and immediately decides Max will do just fine. He needs a family. They need him. She just has to figure out how to make that happen.
Can a precocious child be the catalyst that heals and brings them all together, or will ashes of the past bury hope forever?
“Hurry with your breakfast, Maddie,” urged Sky as she gathered her purse and jacket, “we’re going to be late.”
“Almost through.” Seven-year-old Maddie shoveled another bite of scrambled eggs into her mouth. “You told me not to eat fast, or I’d get sick.”
“I also told you not to lollygag around.”
The impish smile made Sky’s heart lurch. She’ll be a beautiful woman one day.
“Yes, you said that, too.” A last bite of eggs, a gulp of juice, and she slid from the chair. “I gotta brush my teeth and get my backpack. After I put my dishes in the sink.”
“Make it quick. We need to get going.”
A few minutes later, Maddie followed Sky out the door. “Think Ole Blue will start today?”
Her daughter’s question mirrored the one making Sky’s anxiety soar. The old Taurus teetered on the edge of done-for, and there was no money to fix it. “Keep your fingers crossed.”
The brisk November air cut through her lightweight jacket as they hurried to the car. It wasn’t locked since no one in their right mind would want the beat-up old clunker. Once behind the wheel, she said a silent prayer and turned the key.
Nothing. Not even a click.
She gnawed her lower lip. No, no, no. Please…not this.
She tried again.
“What’s wrong, Mama?”
She stifled a groan. “I’m not sure – battery maybe.”
“Do we have another one of those?”
“No. We don’t.” Consumed with dread, she unbuckled the seat belt. “Stay put. Let me take a look.” Like I have a bloody clue what to look for or could fix the damn thing if I did.
Her stomach threatened to purge its meager contents of toast and coffee. Please, God, please. Give me a break. Just one small break. That’s all I ask.
She propped open the hood and peered inside. Yep. There’s the motor and the little oil thingy. There’s the doo-hickey I put window washer fluid in before it sprung a leak. Yep. It’s all there. Now what?
“Something wrong, ma’am?”
Startled, she squealed and jumped back into the rock-solid wall of a man. Strong hands clamped around her waist kept her upright.
“Sorry, ma’am. Didn’t mean to startle you.”
His warm breath washed over her cheek. She twisted around and found herself face to chest with Max Logan. She jerked her gaze upward, chilled body sucking the heat radiating from him like a sponge.
“Ma’am? Are you okay?”
The intensely male voice penetrated the stupor robbing her of speech, and she stepped back. “Y-yes. I’m fine. You just surprised me.”
He nodded toward the car. “Won’t start?”
“No, and I have no idea why.”
“Mind if I try?” He folded his huge frame in the front seat without waiting for a reply, only to exit a moment later. “Battery’s dead.” He walked toward his shiny new F-150 crew cab parked a little farther up the narrow drive.
It took a moment to process what had just happened. Okay. He tried to crank the car, it wouldn’t start, and he just walked off. What the heck? “Well, um, okay. Thanks for trying.”
Before she finished the sentence, the huge engine roared to life, and he backed up. Once even with her car, he got out with the motor still running and pulled long, thick wires from behind his seat.
Jumper cables? Maybe. I think.
Once he had them connected to each vehicle, he looked at her. Didn’t say a word. Just stared.
She stared back.
One bushy brow kicked up.
Duh. Crank the car, you idiot.
Slow to respond, Blue did, finally, thankfully, start.
He waited a moment, then unhooked the cables and moved to the driver’s side. “Where are you going?”
His question was gruff, and she bristled, about to tell him none of his business, but her mother’s ancient speech about manners stifled the impulse. And he did crank her car. And was a good tipper. “I have to take Maddie to school.”
“How long will that take?”
She gritted her teeth. “Twenty minutes.”
“Don’t kill it, or it won’t start again.”
You could’ve started with that statement. “Oh. Okay. Thank you, um, Mr. Logan, I –”
“Max. No mister.” Hands braced on his hips, the inquest continued. “Are you working today?”
“No. I’m off every other Friday.”
“Honk when you get back, and I’ll hook up a battery charger. But you’ll probably need to replace it soon. It’s old, and cold weather is hard on them.”
Lips pressed together, she swallowed hard. She could barely pay her bills now. A new battery was out of the question. “How much do they cost?”
“Depends on the battery.”
She counted to ten. “Ball park?”
One shoulder rose then fell. “A hundred give or take.”
His jaw muscles moved, whether to smile or grimace, she couldn’t tell.
Maddie’s musical laughter floated from the back seat. “You can’t buy a battery with pickles, Max.”
He glanced at her daughter, and a ghost of a smile appeared then vanished. “No, you can’t.” He looked back at Sky. “Honk when you get back.”
Before she could reply, he got in his truck and left.
Sky watched his exit in her rearview mirror. Despite his brusqueness, she still found herself attracted to him. Just like the first time he came in the diner. There was just something about him…
“Max is really nice, ain’t he, Mama?”
“What? Oh. Yes. He is.”
“I heard Miss Gail say he got hurt being a soldier. Is that why he limps?”
Thoughts scattered, Sky backed out the drive. “What?”
“Did Max get hurt being a soldier?”
“I don’t know.” Aware of the child’s boundless curiosity, she added, “And don’t ask him, either. That would be rude.”
Maddie nodded, but Sky could almost hear those inquisitive wheels turning in the little scamp’s head and made a mental note to talk about boundaries. Again.
Dana Wayne fulfilled a lifelong dream to become a published author at the age of sixty-six with the release of her first book, Secrets of The Heart. Since then, she has self-published six highly regarded and award-winning novels as well as two cookbooks. Among the many awards her work has garnered is the prestigious international Best Indie Book Award for Contemporary Romance, the 2022 Bronze Medal for Contempoary Romance from Readers Favorite, and a 2022 Quarter-finalast in International BookLife Prize Contest.
A strong advocate for new writers, she started a podcast in 2020 called A Writers Life where she shares her experiences and provides tips on writing as well as inspiration and education.
A sixth-generation Texan, she still resides in the Piney Woods. She is a sought-after speaker and frequent guest on various writing blogs. A die-hard romantic, her heart-warming stories are filled with strong women, second chances, and happily ever after.
When she isn’t writing or spending time with family, she is an avid crafter, especially Christmas related items, her favorite being table top Christmas trees, a craft she learned from her mother.
Links to Dana’s websites, blogs, books, #ad etc.:
Universal Buy Link: books2read.com/u/3kvKOK
Thanks, Dana, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!