"The intricate way that deMora ties her characters together adds a dynamic to the character development that I've never seen in another writing style before." Mommy's a Book Whore
"I really liked this book. I love this whole series! It's full of every kind of emotion, from nothing to all. MariaLisa deMora, you have my Attention!!!!" Hooked on Books
"What happens between Gunny and Sharon is pure magic and was a very beautiful story that I am most fortunate to have read." FMR Book Grind
"My heart breaketh ... until his heart waketh ..." iScream Books
From the Author
So, over the 2014 Christmas holidays, that is how Gunny came to be brutally ripped from the manuscript of his birthplace. When I had cut all the scenes that didn't have a place in Jase, there were nearly fifty-thousand words in a cheekily titled document sitting off to the side called PushyBastard.
I had assured him his own book, and now I had to live up to that promise. Another few weeks and I fell into a comfortable rhythm of rising from bed at 5:30 a.m. to write on Gunny, then heading to work, and going home to labor on Jase in the evenings. Advancing both manuscripts in parallel was challenging, but some aspects of their stories were so intertwined the words flowed easily.
Then...one day, I suddenly recognized Gunny the character. I realized who had inspired my mind to imagine this damaged soul. And once I knew who he was, I understood there was so much more of his story to tell than just about his relationship with Jase's sister, or his part in the Rebel family. So much more, because his tale is one of loss and pain, tempered by redemption and love.
Who is he? He's a combination of people, the genesis of which can be found in a chance meeting, deep in the woods in southern Indiana. In the spring of 2014 I hiked Knobstone Trail. While on trail I met a hiker, a young man who called himself Jackrabbit Joe.
Joe was an Army veteran dealing with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). You'll likely recognize that first meeting in a scene in this book, and I sincerely hope, since told from Gunny/Joe's viewpoint, it does not convey the alarm felt on waking in the early morning to find my campsite had been invaded during the night by a man who seemed damaged in ways that seemed both dangerous and frightening. I would never want Gunny to feel how terrified he made Peepers with his outbursts and angry language over trail conditions and other random things, or how alarmed she was by his very presence.
Over the next few days, I was blessed to get to know Joe. And fortunately for me, over those hours and days, the comfortable familiarity we developed stripped the veneer of fear from my interactions with him. Even now, more than a year later, I retain an ashamed memory of those first minutes, and a belated recognition of how differences can make people frightening. Men like Joe and Gunny need understanding and acceptance, not made to feel ostracized even more than their disorder already makes them.
As the writing of this story progressed, as I typically do, I sought out experts on a variety of things. Through my connections, I found a veteran closer to home who was willing to talk to me. Sharing the challenges of living every day staring at the world through the patina of stresses and scenes left behind in his mind by war.
Mikael, an Army vet, suffers from PTSD. For him it has stolen much of the life he led before being deployed overseas. His job--no longer suitable. His family--fearful of his outbursts, have removed themselves from the equation for now. His friends--staunch and supportive, protect him in ways he doesn't even recognize, such as chaperoning his interactions with me to ensure everything went smoothly. Mikael reassured me that he feels his service had meaning, and he will never regret his decision to enlist and serve. He is hopeful things will all work out in the end, and I believe right alongside him that they will. I am humbled in his presence.
Many other people were essential in ensuring this book made it to this stage, where you, the reader, can hold it in your hand or read it on your tablet. And, by the way, I don't want to forget to say thank you for reading, for wanting, for loving these characters as I do. Without you, none of this would be possible. <3 Muuwah!
In no particular order, here are the 'thank yous' for my peeps:
My ever-lovin' critique partners: Kristen, Hollie, LeeAnn, Kay, Brittney, and the intrepid MirandaPanda. Your honest opinions will forever be treasured. Thank you.
Sara Eirew, your photography is amazing, and I am blessed that you had this shot embodying passionate possession in your portfolio for this oh-so unexpected book. The model, and your art, are remarkable, and the cover by Melissa Gill builds on the intensity captured by your lens. Mandy Hollis, your images are no less stunning, and the dancer picture on the back cover conveys all that is Sharon in ways that mean words are unneeded. Thank you.
Kayla, Becky, and the HTE betas, I am so grateful for your hard work. As always, you make these stories, and my life, better. Thanks!
I can't forget to thank my personal motorcycle men, members of clubs across many states including Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, and New Mexico. Love the feedback, and I love you all so freakin' hard. And, Dino? I hope this book is filled with everything you've been asking for, babe. Pucker up!
I do hope this story respects the dedication and sacrifice of the veterans and others I met during this journey, and if it brings to light even an iota of the struggle PTSD brings to their lives, then all their work with me to ensure I got it right is worth it. I'm honored to have met these men, and thank them for their assistance, and in so many cases, for their service.