Author: Sydney Logan
Date of Publication: June 2014
Will his call of duty break both their hearts?
Losing her father in Desert Storm has left Stephanie James with a bitter soul when it comes to the military. As a college senior juggling a full course load, Steph's only goal is to graduate with honors at the end of the semester. She’s focused, determined, and a firm believer in all work and no play. Then she meets Brandon Walker at a New Year’s Eve costume party. Despite his disguise, Steph finds herself attracted to the camouflaged soldier who curls her toes with a scorching midnight kiss.
Brandon is an engineering major and ROTC student from the hills of Kentucky. Growing up as the son of a major general has given Brandon firsthand knowledge of the struggles military families sometimes face. Now that his father’s memory is fading, Brandon is even more determined to make his dad proud and graduate as an officer in the United States Army. Then he meets Stephanie, and suddenly, his focus is less on his military service and more on the pretty brunette who has stolen his heart. When he becomes aware of Steph’s resentment toward the military, he worries their relationship is doomed.
Steph unexpectedly finds herself in need of a roommate. Brandon volunteers, thinking it’s the perfect opportunity to show her the real Brandon, before he’s forced to admit the truth about his four-year obligation to the army. Afraid that living together will be a distraction to graduating on time, Steph establishes house rules—rules they both find difficult to obey.
When faced with the realization that she's fallen in love with a soldier, can Steph’s wounds from the past be healed with love in her present . . . and in her future?
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1xmEWUw
Amazon best selling author Sydney Logan holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education. She is the author of three novels - Lessons Learned, Mountain Charm, and Soldier On. Sydney has also penned several short stories and is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul.
A native of East Tennessee, Sydney enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.
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Q/A with Sydney
Where do you find your inspiration?
People and music, mostly. Sometimes, like in the case with my novel Soldier On, I found a picture that served as inspiration and later, as the cover of the book.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging thing is balancing writing and promotion. I’m not very good at it. It was easier when I only had one book, but the more I write, the harder it gets to juggle it all. I’m not complaining, because I love it, but that’s the biggest challenge for me.
What are your current projects?
I’m getting ready to release a holiday collection of short stories titled Once Upon a December. It will include two previously published Kindle short stories along with a new short story. It will release on November 28. I’m also working on my fourth novel.
Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?
Lessons Learned is actually my debut novel, but it was published two years ago with a small indie publisher. I’m now self-publishing it with a new cover. However, my most recently published novel is Soldier On. I think readers would find that my writing style is a little more laid-back now. I don’t agonize over every single word like I did with my first book.
I’m much more comfortable and confident in my storytelling.
Does music play any type of role in your writing?
I’m heavily inspired by music and lyrics. However, I can only write with instrumental music. I can’t listen to lyrics and write at the same time. I have to be careful about the instrumental music I choose because it can really influence the mood and tone of my story. I also create YouTube playlists for all of my stories.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
There are little bits of me in all of my lead characters. In Lessons Learned, Sarah is a teacher like me and struggles with anxiety and panic attacks, both of which I’ve battled. In Mountain Charm, my second novel, Angelina lives in the mountains and loves bluegrass music. That’s me. In Soldier On, Steph loves 80s music. That’s totally me. :) Also in Soldier On, Brandon’s dad suffers from Alzheimer’s. That experience is based on the life of my friend, whose Mom was dealing with the disease at the time. My friend told me I should write a book about it, so I did.
What books have influenced your life most?
Anything by Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, Harry Potter, Twilight, anything by Judy Blume, but especially Forever.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
He’s not so new anymore, but John Green is a new favorite. I love books that rip your heart out and make you think, and The Fault in Our Stars certainly did those things to me. T.M. Franklin is an indie author who writes YA really well. My students love her MORE trilogy.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
My readers are the best! They’re always so excited to read something new from me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website is www.sydneylogan.com. They can check out my bio, the book trailers, the song playlists, and learn all about my books. I’m also really active on Facebook and love to meet new (and old) readers there! We have a street team/book club called Sydney’s Sweethearts. If you join, you get exclusive content and sneak peeks before anyone else. There are also member-only giveaways!
Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise?
I don’t have a schedule, really. I write when I get the chance, which is usually at night, on weekends, or during school breaks. My colleagues ask what I’m doing for Spring Break, and my answer is always writing. :)
Why did you choose to write Romance stories?
I chose romance because I’m a happy-ever-after kind of girl. I especially love first-love stories, which is why I’m considering a YA novel next. I’ve written both contemporary romance (Lessons Learned) and New Adult (Mountain Charm and Soldier On).
What is for you the perfect book hero?
My perfect book hero is a man who adores the woman he loves. The “nice guy” is somewhat of a myth in contemporary romance. Most romantic heroes are alpha-males, but I want women (and teens) to know that there are nice guys out there. They really do exist!
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
I always have the beginning, climax, and end mapped out. The rest of the story I fill in as I go along.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve written songs, poems, and short stories since I was a kid, but I only started writing professionally about three years ago. I had posted some stories online when one of my readers contacted me. She just happened to be in acquisitions at a small, indie publisher (the original publisher of Lessons Learned). She encouraged me to submit something, and that’s how Lessons Learned was born.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was in high school, I had a poem published in one of those Who’s Who student journals. I also won 1st runner-up in a local writing contest. I actually considered majoring in journalism in college, but I decided to teach instead.
List three books you have recently read and would recommend.
Sadly, my reading time is limited because all I do is write! But I did recently finish reading The Apartment, an erotic romance by Amanda Black. I don’t read a lot of erotica, but I loved it! I would also recommend Puddle Jumping by Amber L. Johnson and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.
Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do.
I can play Texas Hold ‘Em, and I’m pretty good at it!
Will you write more about these characters?
I don’t think so. I think I left them in a good place. Everyone got their happy-ever-afters, even if it wasn’t quite how they imagined it. That’s life. :)
Excerpt 1: Used in HTML Packet
Frat houses have libraries?
This one does, complete with ceiling-high bookshelves. Laptops line one wall, and a giant multimedia screen is attached to another. While all of it is impressive, nothing excites my book-loving heart more than to see the library ladder.
Secretly, I’ve always wanted to climb one—the tall ladders that roll from one end of the shelves to the other. Ironically enough, library ladders always remind me of Beauty and the Beast. Or the love scene in Atonement.
One of those movies is G-rated. The other most definitely is not.
Suddenly nervous, I look over my shoulder before making my decision.
YOLO. Carpe Diem. Whatever.
Slipping off my shoes, I reach for the ladder and slowly begin to climb. Sadly, this is the most adventurous thing I’ve done in a long time, and I can’t stop smiling. I’ve made it to the fifth rung when I hear someone clear his throat.
I hold on tightly and manage to turn myself around without falling off. When I’m sure I’m steady, I turn and find myself looking into the eyes of a soldier. Possibly Army. Maybe Marine.
Not that it matters. I accepted long ago that my hatred for anything military related is a little unhealthy, but when the service strips a girl of the privilege of knowing her father, it sometimes makes a person bitter.
I am the epitome of bitter.
This particular soldier is smiling at me, and I can’t lie, the smile is kind of beautiful. Despite that, my first instinct is to roll my eyes at his outfit. But then, I remember this is a costume party, and he probably just needed a quick and totally uncreative disguise.
“I don’t think this room is open to visitors,” he says, his tone soft and deep.
I wonder if that’s his natural speaking voice or if he’s just playing his role as a badass. The guy certainly looks like a soldier, dressed in his head-to-toe camouflage and smeared-on face paint.
“It was actually the only room that wasn’t locked, which is kind of stupid if you ask me. This is the one room in the house you guys shouldn’t want trashed. Drunken idiots could really do some damage in here.”
He grins, and my breath catches in my throat as he steps closer. I tighten my hold on the ladder, because a smile that makes a girl’s heart race isn’t the best thing when she’s trying to maintain her balance.
“I noticed you downstairs.”
Embarrassed, I glance down at my ridiculous dress. “I’m a little hard to miss in canary yellow. I’m going to kill Tessa—”
“That’s not why I noticed you.”
Before I can ask why he noticed me, shouts erupt from downstairs.
“Ten, nine, eight . . .”
“Do you have someone to kiss at midnight?” he asks.
I simply shake my head. He steps closer, pinning me between his body and the bookshelf.
“You do now.”
“I never met my dad. He was killed in Desert Storm before I was born.”
Brandon reaches for my hand.
“I didn’t know that. I’m sorry, Steph.”
“Thanks.” I squeeze his hand. “You know, they say it’s hard to miss something you never had, but they are full of it. I miss my dad every single day.”
“I understand. It must make you proud, though. Knowing he died defending his country.”
I bristle. It’s the same speech I’ve heard all my life. Some families probably find comfort in the fact that their loved ones died in combat. I’ve even had people tell me that I should consider it an honor.
I guess I’m selfish. I’d rather have my dad.
“Could we maybe talk about something else?”
Brandon nods and gives my hand a squeeze.
“Sure,” he says. “I know! Let’s talk about our first date. Is tomorrow good for you?”
I can’t help but laugh. “I thought this was our first date.”
“Absolutely not. This is muffins and water. First dates are supposed to be epic. It’s the story we’ll tell our children, and our grandchildren—”
“You know, you’re pretty confident for a guy who wears a paisley apron.”
He grins. “Tomorrow night. You, me, and my old VHS copy of The Princess Bride. I’ll kick the guys out of the apartment, and we’ll order a pizza.”
“How about my apartment, my DVD, and I’ll beg Tessa to cook?”
His dimpled smile melts my heart.
“It’s a date.”
She blinks a few times before her face breaks out into the most beautiful grin I’ve ever seen. With a sweet laugh, she grabs me, pulling me down on top of her.
For the first few minutes, all we do is stare at each other. Maybe because we can. Or maybe because we’re looking for little things we might have missed while we were apart.
“Your hair’s longer,” I whisper.
“Yours is shorter. I didn’t think that was possible.”
She sighs softly, her eyes flickering to my mouth.
“So, Lieutenant Walker, are you gonna kiss me or not?”
“I’m thinking about it.”
“You think too much.”
She rolls us over, and we both groan as she covers her body with mine. Steph kisses me, and from the very second her lips touch mine, with all their frantic urgency and sweet warmth, I know in my heart that something has changed. Our kisses have changed. Our touch has changed. We’ve changed. There’s a craving there. A deep and powerful yearning that wasn’t there before and can only come from spending time apart. It makes us kiss one another a little slower, hold each other a little tighter, and love each other a little more than we did just twelve weeks ago.
Steph suddenly lifts herself up, straddling my waist and sliding her hands along my stomach. Another flash of lightning in the sky shows me what she’s wearing.
It’s my Princess Bride T-shirt, the same one I was wearing the day we met in class.
“Thanks. I stole it from your closet before you left. I’ve slept in it every night.”
With a sly grin, she leans down and kisses me again.
“You’ve stolen my clothes. Stolen my heart.”
Steph smiles against my lips.
“There’s something else I want to steal,” she whispers.
I slide my hands along her back, pulling her closer to me as I raise myself up. Wrapping her arms around my neck, she melts against me when I bury my face against her neck.
“I’ll give you anything, Steph.”
”Whatever you want.”
I lift my head and find her eyes, deep and dark and full of tears. All of her earlier playfulness is gone as she places her palm against my cheek.
“I want your last name.”