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UNDER FIRE - New Excerpt! (By Catherine Mann)

Happy New Year, everyone! Our January blog theme of new beginnings immediately made me think of my next "Elite Force" book coming out in May - UNDER FIRE. While I've posted an excerpt from chapter one of UNDER FIRE in a previous blog, I have not yet posted THE beginning of the book. This blog presents the perfect opportunity!

For those of you who have not yet read my "Elite Force" books, they feature Air Force pararescue jumpers (PJs.) There are only approximately 350 pararescuemen in the world, and they're trained for high risk rescues, military and civilian. Land. Water. Mountains. They can hold off an opposing force if needed and stabilize a wounded individual while waiting for transport out.

PJs train hard, then train even harder... Ooh-rah!

And now, an advance peek at the opening of UNDER FIRE, "Elite Force" book 3, May 2012:

Patrick Air Force Base, Florida:

“Kill one. Screw one. Marry one.”

Major Liam McCabe almost choked on a gulp of the Atlantic as his pararescue teammate’s words floated across the waves. Today’s two-mile swim was pushing toward an hour long. A light rain pocked the surface faster by the second. Still, there was no reason to think one of his guys had gone batty.

Liam sliced an arm through the choppy ocean, looking to the side. “Wanna run that by me again, Cuervo?”

Jose “Cuervo” James swam next to him, phrases coming in bursts as his face cleared the water. “It’s a word game. Kill one. Screw one. Marry one. Somebody names three women…” Swim. Breathe. “And you have to pick.” Swim. Breathe. “One to marry. One to kill. One to--”

“Right,” Liam interrupted, “got it.”

He would have sighed and shook his head except for the whole drowning thing. At moments such as these, he felt like a stodgy old guy more than ever.

“So, Major?” Cuervo stroked along and over the rippling waves. Storm clouds brewed overhead. “Are you in?”

On monotonous swims or runs, they’d shot the breeze plenty of times to take their minds off screaming muscles. The distraction was particularly welcome during intense physical training.

This word game, however, was a first.

A quick glance reassured him the other six team members were keeping pace with him and Cuervo. Each held strong, powering toward the beach still a quarter of a mile away.

Feet pumping his fins, Liam shifted his attention back on the “game.” His body burned from the effort, but he had plenty of steam left inside to finish up. He was their team leader. Their commanding officer. He would not fall behind.

“How about I just listen first?” Water flowed over his body, briny, chilly. Familiar. “Let one of the others start off.”

“Sure, old man,” huffed Cuervo, spewing a mouthful to the side. “If you need to save your breath to keep pace. Okay, Fang, you’re up.”

Fang, the youngest of the group and the one most eager to fit in, arced his arms faster to pull up alongside. “Bring it on.”

“Topic for first three. Brad Pitt’s women,” Cuervo barked. “Gwyneth Paltrow. Jennifer Anniston. Angelina Jolie.”

“Jennifer’s hot,” Fang spewed water with his speedy answer. “I would do her in a heartbeat.”

Liam found an answer falling from his mouth after all. “I’d marry Angie.”

“Too easy.” Cuervo snorted. “You’ve been married three times, Major, so that’s not saying much for Angie.”
Which just left… Poor Gwyneth.

But then he’d always had a thing for brunettes. And redheads. And blondes. Hell, he loved women. But he really loved brunettes. One brunette in particular, the one he hadn’t married or slept with or even made it past first base, for God’s sake.

Focus on the swim. The team.

The damn game. “Cuervo, are we playing this or not?”

“Next trio up… topic is singers,” Cuervo announced. “Brittany Spears. Christina Aguilera. And Kesha.”

Huh? “Who the hell is Kesha?”

“Are you sure you’re not too old for this job?”

“Still young enough to out swim you, baby boy.” Liam surged ahead of Cuervo. Swims were a lot easier on his abused knees than parachute landings or runs. But a pararescueman needed to be ready for anything, anywhere. Any weather.

Thunder rolled liked a bowling ball gaining speed and his teammates were the pins.

All games aside, this little dip in the rain was about more than a simple training exercise. More than team building. He needed his pararescuemen in top form for a mission they usually didn’t handle - the external security for an upcoming international summit being held at NASA. Not normal business for pararescuemen, but well within their skill set to act as a quick reaction force if anything went down. After all isn’t that what a rescue was? A quick reaction to something going down? Trained and prepared to fight back enemy combatant forces if necessary to protect their rescue target.

This made for a tough last assignment. His final hoo-uh, ooh-rah before he said goodbye to military life. Since he was eleven years old watching vintage war movies on a VCR with his cancer-stricken mama, all he’d wanted was to be that man who took the hill and won the woman. His mother had lost her battle. But Liam had been determined to carry on the fight by putting on that uniform.

Damned if he would go out with a whimper.

Fang slapped the water. “Can we get back to the fuck-me game?”

“Hey,” Wade Rocha’s voice rumbled as deeply as the thunder, “no need to make this crude.”

“Oh, excuse me,” Fang gasped. “Now that you’re married, you’re all Sergeant Sensitivity.” Gasp. Stroke. “I guess we’ll call this …Kill one. Marry one.” Gasp. Stroke. “Make sweet flowery love to one.”

Rocha muttered, “You’re just jealous, smart ass.”

Fang chuckled and spluttered. “Not hardly. Monogamy until I’m in the grave?” He shuddered. “No thanks. Not into that.”

But Liam was.

He’d tried his ass off to make the happily ever after thing work. Tried three times, in fact. Problem was he had a defective cog when it came to choosing a woman to spend his life with. Didn’t help that he’d always put the mission first, something that hadn’t sat well with any of his wives. A small fortune spent on marital counseling hadn’t been able to fix the relationships or him.

And still, he couldn’t get that one woman – that one brunette - out of his mind no matter how many times he chanted: old patterns, not real, get over her.

He was a romantic sap who fell in love too easily. He kept looking for that classic movie, silver screen ending. Guy gets girl. Roll credits.

If only he could have persuaded Rachel Flores to go out with him once they’d returned to the States. They’d worked together rescuing earthquake victims in the Bahamas six months ago. Had become good friends, or so he’d thought. After they got back, she never returned his calls.

Sure, if they had dated, the relationship would have self-destructed like all the rest. Then he could have walked away free and clear, no regrets, no lengthy explicit dreams that woke him up hard and unsatisfied. Now, he was stuck with images of Rachel rattling around in his noggin until he wouldn’t even notice another woman waiting on the beach ahead wearing nothing but body glitter and a do-me smile.

Except there wasn’t anyone on the beach. Just a stretch of sand and trees and a five mile hike waiting to set his knees on fire after they hit the shore.

His life had been about training and service since he’d joined the Army at eighteen. Became a ranger. Then got his degree while serving, became an officer and swapped to the Air Force and pararescue missions.

Training. Honing. Brotherhood.

He’d sacrificed three marriages and any social life for this and would have kept right on doing so. Except now his thirty-eight year old body was becoming a liability to those around him.

One week. He had one week and a big ass demonstration left. Until then he would do his damnedest to keep his team focused and invincible. He wasn’t going to spend another second fantasizing about a particular sexy spitfire brunette with as much grit as his elite force team.

Liam narrowed his eyes against the sting of salt and the pounding rain pushing through the surface like bullets. “I’ve got a new game, gentlemen. It’s called ‘Pick Your Poison.’” Stroke. Breathe. “If you’ve gotta die in the water…” Stroke. Breathe. “Would you choose a water moccasin? An alligator? Or a shark?”

QUESTION: If you were playing the game of famous person "marry one - screw one - kill one" - who's your famous secret crush?

Two commenters will be chosen at random to receive a copy of either "Elite Force" book 1 COVER ME or "Elite Force" book 2 HOT ZONE. (Winner's choice!) The winners will be chosen on Monday, January 23. So please either leave a contact e-mail in your post, or check back on Monday, when I will post the winners' names!

Upcoming releases:
PROTECTOR, Berkley Sensation, March 2012
HONORABLE INTENTIONS, Harlequin Desire, April 2012
UNDER FIRE, Sourcebooks Casablanca, May 2012

FMI about upcoming books, I can be found online at:


  1. My famous secret crush is Darius Rucker. I love all his songs & he is great to look at. Not very original I know but honest. :)

  2. My famous secret crush is Joe Manganiello who plays Alcide on True Blood. OMG is he one fine looking man.
    Tina Rucci
    purpleunicorn19 (at)

  3. I guess it would be Robert Pattinson at the moment, but I feel bad because he's so young!

    Great excerpt. It woke me up this morning :-)

  4. I honestly don't have a famous secret crush these days. However, if I had to choose, it would be Harrison Ford. He's aged rather well... Better than I have, anyway. Great excerpt!

  5. Let's see. I have a not so secret crush on Elvis. I know, I know, he's not alive but I have loved him since I was a kid for some reason. There's something sexy about a talk, dark, and handsome man in leather. ;)

  6. For me it is Ian Sommerhalder from Vampire Diaries. I like my bad boys. LOL

  7. My new famous secret crush is Adam Levine(Marron5).

    Love the excerpt...can't wait!

    Patti F

  8. Has to be Sam Elliot...gotta love a man with that voice!!!

  9. Hi Catherine! I love the excerpt. Can't wait to read it! I am just about to start reading Cover Me. I can't wait to get into it. As for my secret crush, well it's not so secret since my hubby teases me about it all the time, lol! It's Robert Pattinson. There is just something about him, the eyes and the smile and that accent, just yum!

    Have a great day!

    alinaduffer AT hotmail DOT com

  10. Hi Catherine,
    I just wanted to stop in to say Thank you for such great reads! I have read both Cover me and Hot Zone and LOVED them! You have introduced to me to a new kind of hero in your Elite Forces series and they are awesome! I can't wait to read Under Fire.


  11. I've read both books but just had to say hello! Also, to answer this question-right now I have a crush on this author who writes a great western history book called Threads West, his name is Reid lance Rosenthal, would love to sit and talk woth him, I probaly make a fool out of myself, but he has alot to say, and I just would love to met him, like all my favorite authors-liker yourself, are you going to be in the Tallahassee area.Anyways, waiting for Reid's next book that comes out in Feb.and yours too! I love your elite force sexy men! Have a great weekend!

  12. I don't even know his name. He's the SeAL team lead in the new movie Act Of Valor. 6ft5 of sexy Navy SeAL. What can I say, I have a thing for special forces guys.

  13. I would have to say luke bryan he is a country singer with a voice and a body. He just makes you think of some of the characters in some books. Chaneyreddove@aol

  14. Jennie - I LOVE the Darius Rucker pick!! Great one. I can see Data in my "Elite Force" series looking like him. ;)

  15. Tina - Holy cow, talk about tall, dark and studly! Yum! True Blood is such a great show. Have been watching Vampire Diaries on Netflix with my daughter this week - Damon is so hot and has the most expressive eyes. Yum! (I do love a bad boy. :)

  16. Thank you, Shana!!! I have to share the funniest Robert Pat story. When my oldest son lets his hair grow, he resembles him. When one of the Harry Potter movies came out (and everyone was all dressed up for the premiere) my son dressed up like Edward Cullen, acted all broody, and at the end of the movie, he stood up and shouted, "What do you mean this isn't New Moon"?

  17. Hi Cheryl - I agree, the years have been VERY kind to Harrison Ford. :)

  18. Crystal - I loooove the leather comment! So true! :) There's definitely an Elvis chemistry that's beyond description.

  19. Danny, I'm right there with you on that one! (See my comment above on Vamp Diaries and Damon - YUM!!!)

  20. Hi Patti - I looooove Maroon 5!(Thanks for the cheers on the excerpt!)

  21. Jycgee - You are so write a manly, manly voice!! Sends tingles up a girl's spine!

  22. Hi Alina! Thanks for picking up a copy of COVER ME! Fingers and toes are crossed you enjoy my "Elite Force" fellas. :)

    And you bring up a great point about the accent... Sean Connery's accent has been a long time fav of mine (another man who aged quite well! ;)

  23. Thank you, Chris!! So happy to know you've enjoyed Cover Me and Hot Zone!! Your comment made for an awesome start to my weekend. :)

  24. :::waving:::: Hi Carole! Thank you so much for checking out the blog and posting a note! Your bring up a GREAT point with your "crush" pick - how important it is to have someone we can talk to as well. Brains and wit and charm are very sexy!

  25. Julieanne - I can't wait to see the movie too!!!

  26. Hi Chaney! Gotta love those cowboys - there's an enduring charm to them - the manners and the drawl and the hat, of course. And then if he can sing too. Yep! I'm in!

  27. I have to say Alexander Skarsgard, although I don't know how secret it is since I call him my Hollywood husband. lol He just makes me sigh everytime I see him.

  28. Ckinney - I adore the phrase "Hollywood Husband" - what fun! :)

  29. Great excerpt!
    My secret crush changes with the day but right up there at the top there's always Mark Harmon...Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Love that smile and his kick-ass attitude.

  30. My famous secret crush is Matthew McConaughey. He is gorgeous and has a charming Southern accent.

  31. I've always had a thing for Eric Bana. I thought he was hotter than Brad Pitt in "Troy."

    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

  32. Hi Crystal! I agree, Matthew McC is a very charming bad boy with a charming accent and grin. :)

  33. Jane - I adore Eric Bana - I had photos of him posted in my office when I was writing one of my Harlequin Desires. :)

  34. Carolyn - You totally picked it! Leroy Jethro Gibbs is one of those iconic heroes. Love him!!! Such great nuances and backstory for him - well played by Mark Harmon.

  35. Oh for me its Nathan Fillian from Castle. A definite crush lol.


  36. Catslady, I'm hearing so many great things about Castle - I really do need to chekc it out. Will have to see if it's on Netflix so I can catch up!

  37. Great excerpt! I do have a crush on Colin Firth (aka Mr. Darcy) but there is nothing secret about it!

  38. Amanda, great pick! Colin Firth has such a charm about him in any role he plays - a special charisma for sure!

  39. My secret crush is Viggo Mortensen.*sighs*

    Loved your excerpt!

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  40. It would have to be Colin Firth or Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Both make my heart quiver!

  41. Lil, Viggo is another great choice - wish we'd inserted photos into all these posts. ;)

  42. Renne, I love that phrase - makes my heart quiver - great way to put it!!

  43. Hmm...don't know about secret crushes but do have to admit that I love the guys with the accents!

  44. Elf, the accent is a bonus for sure! :)

  45. My famous not so secret crush is Henry Cavill! He played the part of Charles Brandon in the Tudors mini-series and was the lead in Immortals.
    He just makes my knees go weak! LOL

  46. Secret crush.... Alex McLoughlin. He played a vampire in Moonlight.

  47. Annie - The Tudors - I can only say OMG! Loved it!

  48. Hi Shelley - Lots of vampire company on this list. ;)

  49. Ryan Gosling - his body in crazy, stupid, love was divine. Geard Butler - in 300 mmmm . Bradley Cooper just has amazing eyes and Paul Rudd because I've loved since Clueless

    Linda - nunley7128@

  50. My life long secret crush...(but not so much a crush to my family....they all know) would be Bobby Sherman... the one man who still makes my heart flutter... started in high school....I even got his autograph...a family friend got it for me, he started a Paramedics training school in LA, instructs, started this many many many years ago...Love this man!!(ok...lets not get out a calculator and add up the age here....pleeeeeease) email...

  51. Hi Linda - I like all your picks, especially Gerard Butler! He is pure alpha!! :)

  52. Vickie - I love it!! Those teenage crushes are the most fun, aren't they?! My sister still blushes if we mention Sean Cassidy or Leif Erickson. :)

  53. I change my mind. Alex O'Laughlin from Hawaii 5 0.

  54. for me maybe Alex O'Laughlin,,he is so sexy,,,^^

    thank for the give away

  55. Jennie and Icha, how fun that you both had the same awesome choice! :)

  56. Good morning! Time to announce the winners (and thanks to my daughter for doing the random pick!) The winners from the commenters are:

    Jane & Renee!!

    I've sent you both an e-mail with instructions on how to collect your prize.

    Thank you again so much to everyone for stopping by to visit. I had a blast!!

  57. I like how they said "Ooh Rah" stealing the Marine's war cry. Haha, they gotta learn somewhere, right?


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