It’s my huge pleasure to welcome Virginia Kantra to the Jaunty Quills today! She’s celebrating her brand new release, Carolina Man, and talking today about hunky marines and cute puppies. What could possibly be better on a Friday?
Without further ado …
From Carolina Man
As the temperatures plummeted, the dog crept closer, drawn by the need for warmth or food or simple companionship. Luke could sympathize. He tore open another MRE and set it on the rocky ground.
“Why do you feed it?” Habib asked.
“Staff Sergeant’s our den mother. He takes care of everybody,” Burrows said.
He couldn’t take care of everybody. But by tagging along the dog had made herself one of them. Theirs.
After ten years at war, Luke wasn’t fighting for freedom and democracy. He was in this for the guys next to him, to keep them safe, to bring them home alive.
The mutt licked the wrapper, her thin tail stirring cautiously.
Out here, it was the little things that mattered. Making the world safe from global terrorism sounded good, but these days Luke measured victory one step, one sunrise, and now one dog at a time.
“You ever have a pet growing up?” he asked Habib.
The Afghan smiled wryly. “We can barely feed our families. We do not think of animals as you do.”
The dog sighed and settled her head on her paws, fixing her dark, mascara-ringed eyes on Luke. Like a hooker who’d been knocked around and still hoped this time would be different. Better. Help me. Save me. Love me.
“Think she’ll make it back to camp with us?” Ortega asked, seeking reassurance.
Luke didn’t know. He didn’t know if any of them would make it. The weight of responsibility pressed on his shoulders.
No Marine left behind.
Or dog, either.
Click here to read more.
Men in uniform. Puppies. What’s not to love? It’s like we’re biologically primed to fall for the mate who will provide for and protect our young.
From the moment we meet Staff Sergeant Luke Fletcher, the hero of Carolina Man, we know this is a guy who can be both tough and tender. Which is good, because at the beginning of the book, Luke unexpectedly finds himself the father of a ten-year-old girl he never knew he had. Those same strong-but-tender qualities make him a match for smart-but-damaged lawyer Kate Dolan, who has good reasons not to trust any man
When I was researching Carolina Man, I learned about the many pets on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re not just talking US service dogs, but stray cats and dogs rescued and adopted by our troops. Base commanders often ignore the military order against pets at forward bases, because the animals fill a real need. Not just accompanying “their” soldiers on patrol, not just keeping down the populations of rats and mice, but improving morale by providing love and comfort and distraction for troops far from home.
Often these animals stay with the base. When one company rotates out, they are adopted by the next. But as more troops come home, many worry about the fate of their pets left behind. And some returning warriors simply cannot bear to be parted from their animal comrades.
There are organizations that help our troops with the logistics of bringing home pets from a war zone. Guardians of Rescue matches returning service men and women with shelter animals and assists in bringing home pets rescued during their deployments. Nowzad rescues stray and abandoned animals in Afghanistan, often brought to them by troops, and helps reunite pets with their military owners.
So for every person who comments below—and each new subscriber to my newsletter over the next three days—I will make a donation to support Guardians of Rescue and Nowzad.
(You can also donate directly through the links above.)
Do you know a service man or woman who’s been reunited with a pet from overseas? Or do you have a pet who has helped you through a hard time? Share your story! One randomly chosen commenter will win a copy of Carolina Man!