My latest Rebel Ink Press release, Devlin’s Grace, deals with a Marine veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Devlin suffers from PTSD (post trauma stress disorder) and it’s a major part of the storyline. I wanted to make the story as realistic as possible so I did thorough research. And I drew not only on my own experiences as someone with a family member suffering from PTSD but from many resources as well. One of my grandfathers served in the Pacific Theater during World War II and saw some of the heaviest fighting in the Philippines. Most of the time, he was a wonderful man and a loving grandfather but there were also times when the demons of the war haunted him Devlin’s Grace is more than just another love story. Although Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas play a role in the book, it’s not just a holiday themed romance. It’s intended to be a realistic portrait of life between two people who learn to deal with troubled pasts and issues on a daily basis. It celebrates the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit.
First, here’s the blurb:
When he rides out of the fog on his motorcycle, Gracie Alloway almost mistook him for a demon rising from the smoke and steam of hell. Except she’s attracted to him from the first moment. Devlin’s everything she’s not – wild and a little wicked. But opposites attract because good girl, college student Gracie wants more of this bad boy.
Devlin dreamed up a fantasy woman back in Iraq a lot like Gracie and she evokes a side he hasn’t shown anyone in years. She also dares to enter his personal space and take liberties no other woman’s dared. Although he struggles with PTSD and other issues, Gracie won’t run and she refuses to abandon Devlin.
If she can just tame him and help him battle his demons. If he can teach her how to live a little bit more, they might just have a chance at a future together.
Here’s a brief excerpt dealing with Devlin’s PTSD issues:
“I don’t sleep much, anyway.”
His hesitant manner hinted maybe he didn’t usually volunteer such personal information any more than she invited men up to drink coffee or rode motorcycles. Her hand trembled the tiniest bit as Gracie put her cup up to her lips. Dev made her nervous, but he evoked a growing sense of tenderness, too. And his presence leached out a lot of her usual bashful reserve. Deep weariness shadowed his eyes and haunted his face, she noted, so she asked, “Why don’t you?”
This time, his mug shook between his hands. After a heavy moment of silence, he sighed. “You can’t expect the devil to have sweet dreams, darlin’. Thanks for the coffee. I’ve got to go – morning comes early and I have to work.”
When he held out the cup, Gracie noticed the scarring on the underside of his left arm. Dead white skin mottled with angry red patches and rough ridges indicated he’d suffered serious burns. She noticed similar scars on the side of his neck and wondered how much of his body had been affected. Everything she’d learned screamed at her to say nothing, to ignore what she saw, but Gracie followed instinct. After accepting the cup, she put it down on the end table and touched the old burn. Her fingers brushed against the coarse skin and marveled to find it cool. She expected heat, but it would’ve gone long ago. Dev started to jerk away from her, but when she touched him, he stopped. Like a bird poised for flight, he remained still as she stroked the damaged area.
Before she could speak, he pulled his arm back and with a defiant glint in his eyes, he removed his t-shirt. “If you want to see the scars, you can see them all,” Dev said, voice harsh and hoarse.
He revealed a torso dappled with terrible raised welts, both back and belly. These scars were worse than the others. Raised red ropes twined like vines over his flesh, fused and almost melted. The agony Dev endured was beyond anything she could imagine and Gracie’s eyes brimmed with tears. They spilled over, down her cheeks with silent hurt. One glance at his face, set hard and as stoic as a statue intensified her empathy. She laid her right hand on his back, his scarred flesh beneath her touch and with her left she touched the center of his chest.
Beneath her hand his heartbeat thumped, rapid but steady. His eyes locked with hers and in them Gracie glimpsed flickers of his personal hell. Confusion showed up, too, along with regret and maybe shame.
Whatever she did or said now would be pivotal, she sensed. Based on her actions he’d either leave and be gone from her forever, something she didn’t want, or a new beginning would emerge, delicate and fragile. If she took time to think, she’d be lost so Gracie mined deep into her woman’s soul. When words came, she spoke them, her voice soft and yet as constant as the evening stars. “Oh, Dev, it must’ve hurt so much.”
“I don’t want your pity,” he said, a snarl transforming his face into something wolfish, alien. “Don’t feel sorry for me, babe. I don’t need charity and I sure as hell don’t need you to tell me some dumb ass feel good bunch of shit. So quit crying over me. Maybe it makes you feel better, but it makes me mad.”
“It isn’t pity,” Gracie told him. “I admire you. It takes a lot of courage to overcome hurts like this. I hurt for you, but I don’t feel sorry for you. I hate you had to go through such pain, but I’m crying because I care.”
His hard face softened a little. “Why?”
In this raw moment, she could give him nothing but honesty. “I don’t know, but I do.”
Then Gracie leaned forward and bent just enough to touch her lips to one of the ugliest lesions, the worst of the scars. He shuddered as she kissed his chest and when she lifted her tear streaked face, Devlin grasped her arms. He held her in place and kissed her back, full on the mouth, without remorse or mercy. Gracie gasped with surprise. His lips burned hers as if she kissed a devil fresh from the pit, but she liked it. Her body answered his call and her arms moved to circle his neck as she gave him back the kiss.
About the Author:
Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy writes romance about everyday people often caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Her titles range from contemporary to historical to time travel and sometimes stray into the paranormal. She is a native of the historic city of St. Joseph, Missouri, a jumping off spot for countless wagon trains in the days of the old west and where outlaw Jesse James met his death. She now lives in a small Ozark town in what passes for the suburbs. As a member of Romance Writers of America, Missouri Writers Guild, and the Ozark Writers League, Lee Ann pens a weekly column for the local newspaper. She has served on the local library board and arts council. As a member of the Rebel Elite team, her upcoming releases will shift to exclusive Rebel in 2013. She’s married with three children and one spoiled Jack Russell terrier.
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I