In this dramatic and humorous debut novel by Connie Y. Harris, equine vet Ariel Armstrong, hides in plain sight on a horse farm to protect not only her heart, but her life. But when her vindictive ex-boyfriend still manages to find her, it’s up to Navy SEAL, Gavin Cross, to come to her rescue. Fans of Suzanne Brockman and Roxanne St. Claire will love this sexy romance from The Wild Rose Press.
Title: Forever in Ocala
Series: The Forever series
Author: Connie Y. Harris
Author Location: Tampa, Florida
Genre: Contemporay Romance
Release Date: March 16, 2016
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Can the healing power of love prevail over the high stakes demands of duty and personal sacrifice?
Determined to protect her life and heal her broken heart, Ariel Armstrong seeks a refuge from her violent ex-boyfriend. Her dream job working with prized race horses, as an equine vet, enables her to hide in plain sight and care for her brother, an injured Marine. After losing her father to war and witnessing her brother’s daily battle to overcome his injuries, she’s sworn off military men forever.
Gavin Cross, Navy SEAL, and the son of Ariel’s new boss has one mission in life -- to serve his country. But after showing signs of PTSD, he’s sent home where he struggles against the diagnosis and vows to get back to the action ASAP. The last problem he needs is an emotional entanglement with the beautiful, new farm vet. Denying the attraction between them only stirs the fire of their growing passion. Gavin must choose where his duty lies -- with his country or at home with the woman he loves and wants to protect. Leaving Ariel to rejoin his SEAL team means fulfilling his mission, but at what cost? The promise of her love tempts him in an undeniable way and has him questioning his need to serve. Gavin’s time to choose is up. A future without Ariel is no future at all, but is saving America from terrorism the greater good?
What is it about a Navy SEAL in particular that draws you to write about them? And when writing them do you have a certain person in mind as inspiration for each one or do they have traits of many?
I first learned about Navy SEALS twelve years ago before they were featured in movies or spot lighted on the news when I was hired by a company to give a motivational talk to their sales force.
As I scanned the faces in the audience I noticed two men sitting in the front row, one very handsome with a pleasant, boyish expression and one, rugged and fit who glared at me with his arms crossed. They were obviously acquainted, but how?
Curiosity got the better of me so a few days after the meeting I called the company’s owner and asked about the two unlikely friends. He explained the angry one was fresh from serving as a Navy SEAL. A what, I asked? The only seals I knew about were cute creatures of the sea.
He relayed a story about the SEAL he called Don, which slammed my curiosity into overdrive and sent me head-long into Google.
What was the story? I’ll tell you. Right about the time the SEAL joined the company, a monster storm slammed into Florida’s gulf coast. The hurricane force winds downed power lines and torrential rain flooded roads and even homes. It hit during work hours, so the employees cowered under tables listening to the energy of the wind peel tiles off the roof. All, except one. The SEAL announced to the staff he was going for a run. He stripped off his shirt and pants, and ran bare-chested into tornado-green colored afternoon.
Several years later, the SEAL and I became close friends and by then I had read every available book and watched every reliable documentary on Navy SEALs. I wanted to know what made them different. What made them tick? When his top secret clearance expired, Don shared many of his experiences, close calls and now unclassified missions with me. He introduced me to other SEALS and arranged a tour of the Coronado SEAL base where I was privileged to converse with guys currently operating in the most dangerous places on earth, risking their lives every day for our freedom.
Although, my hero is largely based on my SEAL friend, the truth is these brave warriors have many similar traits, sometimes comical in nature. Once we went to dinner with a much younger SEAL friend just out of the Navy. He showed up in a Subaru exactly like Don’s and wore the same brand of shoes complimented by a similar t-shirt. I laughed all the way to the restaurant at the dichotomy of two very lethal, military men with matching carabiners dangling from their cargo shorts.
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Excerpt from FOREVER IN OCALA
Copyright © 2016 by Connie Y. Harris
Her gaze flicked to an imposing male figure planted directly in her line of vision, his stance wide, wearing leather combat boots seemingly bolted to the earth. Whoever the man was, he surveyed every detail of his environment with the presence of someone whose self-confidence couldn’t easily be shaken. He carried himself like he belonged here. Hell, like he owned the place. The startling combination of blue eyes, the color of glacier water, against an olive complexion and full black beard created a commanding presence. Glued like a sentry next to the man, Wager, the farm’s Border collie exuded absolute devotion with his tongue lolling out and head tilted up to the hand stroking him.
Jesus, who IS that dude? He can’t be a new buyer interested in our foals the way Wager is fawning all over him but he’s someone important, no doubt. Focus Ariel, you’re here to work, not get infatuated with the first cowboy who comes along.
As if he sensed her curiosity, the enigmatic stranger turned his attention toward her. The intensity of his stare invaded her comfort zone as he coolly and completely assessed her with a visual review of her body that left her feeling undressed. The hair on her arms stood erect. She rubbed them as if removing a chill. The physical reaction was her own intuitive warning system and experience had taught her to listen to her body. She understood all too well about arrogant, possessive men. Her controlling ex-boyfriend was a moral zero and the most deceptive man she’d ever met. The image of him sent shivers skidding down her spine but she quickly thrust the memories aside. He’s out of my life and nowhere near here.
Ariel slid the dog tags back and forth on the chain she wore around her neck….
With close ties to the Navy SEAL community, Connie’s mission as a writer is to offer the reader a realistic portrayal of men who transfer their alpha tendencies and athletic prowess into serving a noble cause.
A former English teacher and corporate executive Connie holds a B.A from East Carolina University. Although she continues her role as Vice President in a busy ad agency, her first love has always been writing. She maintains a portfolio of songs, poems and stories she wrote as early as ten. When she isn’t working or writing, Connie enjoys Zumba fitness and claims her best story ideas come to her while dancing.
Connie lives with her family and two adorable Westies near the Gulf Coast of Florida.