By Dee S. Knight (Guest Blogger)
I was raised as a Navy brat. That's the long and short of it right there. My dad loved the Navy!! When he left home as a teenager, the Navy became his home and he wasn't shy about letting people know how proud he was to serve. He didn't have an easy job—he was a boiler tender, one of the men who worked in the bowels of the ship and worked with the giant boilers used to power the ship. Lots of noise, heat, and (we found out later) asbestos everywhere, used as fire retardant. He was gone at least eight months out of every year, except for his two tours of shore duty, a total of 6 years out of the 24 he served. It wasn't an easy life, but still he loved it. The reasons why are part of why I wrote Naval Maneuvers. I really wanted to highlight these three factors about military life, and especially about the Navy.
1. Military service isn't only hard on the men and women who leave their families, it's hard on the families. When a spouse is gone for months at a time, the person at home is responsible for the children, the home, the vehicles, their own jobs (because pay in the military is often not enough to support children, homes, and vehicles by itself), and everything that stuff involves. On the one hand, it's an honor to represent the service member, but on the other hand, it's like having a fist fight with one arm tied behind your back. Then, after handling everything for months by yourself, your service member comes home and expects to take back have the responsibility. That is very hard! It's difficult to hold a relationship together and those who do deserve a lot of credit and respect.
I highlighted the family situation especially in “Weighing Anchor”, when Mel Crandall refused to fall in love with a serviceman because of her childhood memories. Her father seemed to miss all of the important events in her life because he was away. Yup, that really happens. My dad missed holidays, birthdays, and my mom's serious illness.
2. The military isn't just a job, it's a lifestyle. On our block in Virginia Beach, only one neighbor was not in the Navy. So a certain camaraderie developed. We all knew when ships had to be met or farewells had to be made. A wife at home had support from others who went through the same trials. It wasn't the same as having the spouse at home, but every wife (or now, husband) knew there was a lifeline of sorts in others experiencing the same thing.
I highlighted this in “Weighing Anchor”, also. Mel's mom reminds her of the "family" they had in the service families they had around them.
3. Someone has to do the dirty job of keeping the nation safe. This has been a truth since countries first had boundaries and armies and navies to defend them. I wanted to highlight that service members are not social misfits who can't do anything else so they entered the service. Unfortunately, that is a view held by a lot of people—that if you can't get into college or learn anything else, you can always go into the service. In each Naval Maneuvers story—“Weighing Anchor”, “Dropping Anchor”, and “Anchor Home”—I wanted to show that whatever you do in whichever service you join, the job is an important one. A necessary one for the existence of a sovereign nation. If not our service members—and in Naval Maneuvers, obviously, our Navy—where would we be?
Now, I know that every serviceman or woman isn’t a saint. The military is, after all, a microcosm of the general population. But I also know the sacrifices members make to go to foreign lands to guard and protect our interests, and I know through experience the difficulties their families go through while they’re away. While I tried to make the book fun to read, and yes, sexy (because after all, that's fun!), I also wanted to show the three points made above.
I am unashamedly patriotic and pro-military, despite its problems and shortcomings. I was raised in the service and married a man who also was raised in the service. And, yes, I'm proud of that fact.
Men and women of the armed forces experience desire and love pretty much like everyone else. Except, well, there is that uniform. And the hard-to-resist attraction of "duty, honor, service" as a man might apply them to a woman's pleasure. All things considered, romance among the military is a pretty sexy, compelling force for which you'd better be armed, whether weighing anchor and moving forward into desire, dropping anchor and staying put for passion, or setting a course for renewed love with anchor home.
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079V62PT3/
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079V62PT3/
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"And what is your name, pretty?" Mel Crandall addressed the dinosaur bones in an undertone, bending nearly to face level. The skeleton displayed an open mouth and rows of fierce, sharp teeth.
"Roger," a man standing next to her said in a low voice. Startled, she looked up. Up being the operative word. She stood a decent five feet ten inches, and he beat her by a good half foot. She studied him. He ignored her.
The guy had a solid profile, strong chin, chiseled cheekbones, and a straight back with muscular shoulders. Short brown hair. He wore glasses and stared straight ahead, but glasses couldn't disguise the laugh lines that radiated from the corners of his eyes. His posture was near perfect and he was not overweight, as evidenced by the trim fit of his jeans and red polo shirt that clung enough to give evidence of a low body/mass index number.
As a doctor, she immediately noticed body characteristics before actual looks. But with this guy, examination in lieu of admiration was hard. Men were often put off by the fact that she paid attention to whether they looked sallow or flushed, or if their hands were cold or warm before she "saw" them. She noticed if a man's eyes were dilated or glittered with fever before she registered eye color. Dates started with mini examinations before she relaxed enough to enjoy personalities, but that's just the way she was. Men had to take it or leave it. Sadly, most left it. Which was why she talked to dinosaurs at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History all on her own.
Mel moved on to the next exhibit, a shorter built specimen but still tall and with a nasty spiked tail. "I wonder what you looked like," she murmured. "What color were you, what did you eat, and what's your name?" She bent to read the exhibit information.
"Gray. Grass." That same guy had followed her. Rather than having a strong profile, she was beginning to think he was a weirdo. "Annnd, roger."
Quickly, Mel moved to the next exhibit. "And you are–"
He stood beside her again! Mel started to look for a museum guard but saw none. Great. Planting her hands on her hips, she turned to him. "Stop following me," she said loudly enough that people in the general area turned to see what was happening.
The guy said, "Hold it."
Hold it? Hold it, as in "Wait a minute, little lady?" She opened her mouth to lay into him when he turned and removed his glasses, showing her the richest, most chocolatey brown eyes she'd ever seen. The words stuck in her mouth.
"I'm sorry, what?"
In a lower voice she said, "You're following me from exhibit to exhibit and talking to me. I want you to stop."
"I didn't realize…" He wiggled the glasses at her. "I'm working here and I'm afraid I didn't notice you."
Well. What was worse, that he was a pervert following her place to place, or that he wasn't a perv and hadn't even noticed her?
His brow furrowed while he studied her. "Yes. Yes." Then he shook his head. "Roger."
Again with that Roger.
"Gotta go. Later." Then he smiled at her. "Just a minute, okay?" He folded the glasses and put them first in a protective case. Squatting, he placed a briefcase on the floor and opened it. He stored the glass case inside a pocket. Then he removed something from his right ear—an earbud?—protected it and also put it in the case.
Mel watched all of this with curiosity. He expected her to wait for him? What arrogance. And yet, wait she did. When he stood, holding the case in his left hand and smiled once more, her heart stuttered. The guy was drop dead gorgeous—at least to her understanding of the word. Normally, she appreciated the male form, mostly from a medical viewpoint. This man she enjoyed with pure pleasure.
And Good God. He hadn't been talking to her, he'd been talking to whoever was on the other end of that earbud. Embarrassment flooded her.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I thought you were…" She slid her hand between the two of them and then to the exhibits.
"No," he said. "I apologize. I shouldn't be testing this stuff around people. The last time I did it a kid thought I was calling him Roger." His voice had a soft drawl to it. Western Virginia or North Carolina, maybe? Somewhere in the mountains. It felt like a cool stream as it ran over a body hot and tired from hiking: refreshing and invigorating, at the same time soothing and relaxing. She wanted him to talk more.
Stop that! She laughed. "I thought you were naming each dinosaur." He smiled and dimples indented his cheeks. His eyes crinkled and Mel's breath caught. This guy should come with a warning label. Approach with caution. Could bring on lustful intentions and ultimately, broken hearts. Take only in small doses and in public places.
He held out his hand. "David Stimson."
She took it gingerly, half expecting lightning to bolt between them. Nope. Nothing. So much for romance novels. He had a nice hand, large and warm with healthy pink nails, and she grasped it firmly. "Melissa Crandall."
"Nice to meet you. Do you mind if I wander along with you?" Grasping the briefcase with his left hand, he deftly, he moved to the left of her.
"No, please. It's a free country." She walked to the next dinosaur re-creation. "And this one is…" She half waited for his pronouncement.
"Not Roger," he said, stopping her heart with that killer smile again. He leaned over to read the information. "Torosaurus latus. It says here that these bones were dug up in North Dakota, but that the Torosaurus roamed from Canada to Texas, and that he had the biggest head of any land mammal."
"Well, I guess that's something to be proud of," Mel responded. David laughed and she found herself smiling back. When she moved to the next exhibit, he strolled along with her, hands behind his back.
He pointed to the next specimen. "Poor guy. Starved to death."
"Oh, yeah? How do you know?"
"Can't you tell? He's all bones."
A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex. Writing was so much fun Dee decided to keep at it. That's how she spends her days. Her nights? Well, she's lucky that her dream man, childhood sweetheart, and long-time hubby are all the same guy, and nights are their secret.
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