Welcome to my First Kiss Friday blog. Today’s guest is my friend Jo-Ann Powers who has an excerpt from Heroic Measures. Isn’t the cover just lovely? Happy reading and enjoy, my lovelies.
Setting the scene: We are in France, 1918, on the American front lines and Captain Adam Fairleigh, British Army officer, has come to take Nurse Gwen Spencer to lunch. The little cafe is in walking distance from the mobile hospital where Nurse Spencer is stationed and she has a few hours to spare. She has met Captain Fairleigh, who is attached to British Headquarters, previously when he was ill. This is the second time they have met, but the first since he danced with her at a reception given by General Pershing.
“The gentleman’s name is Armand and he’s a very good cook,” she told Adam as he pulled out a chair for her to take the seat in the tiny cafe. No other patrons graced the place.
“What do you suggest?”
“Jambon et fromage. Vin rouge. Salade verte. Du pain, glorious et crispy.” She shivered. Lovely du pain.”
“Ha! Remind me to feed you often. You look glorious in raptures.”
She wiggled her brows. “On occasion, he has offered cuisses, but I have not gotten the courage to try them.”
“Frogs legs? You should. They are as tender as chicken.”
“The idea that Armand might have recently caught them in his garden—” she made a face, “—disturbs me. Though my aunt raises chickens and I’ve had to kill and pluck and gut them. I shouldn’t be so finicky.”
Beneath the table, he reached for her hand and tucked it in his lap. His affection was addictive. “Be what you are, Gwen. If you don’t want frog’s legs, you don’t have to eat them.”
“Have you done many things you didn’t care to do?” she asked, thinking of his venture into No Man’s Land. What kind of dedication did it take to do that? What kind of cunning? “I’m sorry. That was ridiculous to ask. We all do things we don’t want to do.”
“I like my position with Pershing’s staff. Even that jaunt across the barbed wire,” he offered with a faraway look, “was exciting. I have been known to test the limits. That excites me. Does that make me a daredevil? Do you prefer men who are more ordinary?”
“I’ve never thought about who I prefer. I only know who I like.”
He seemed not to breathe for a long while as his gaze traveled her lips and her eyes. “Like me.” His words sounded like a plea.
“Can you doubt it?”
“I never want to.”
His words were balm to an open wound she had not bothered to tend. If she let him do that for her now, would she be foolish? Or couldn’t she permit herself to be charmed? Just for one small moment in her life. “You are doing very well. Shall I tell you if you ever disenchant me?”
“Do I enchant you now?”
“I’m afraid you do,” she whispered.
“Don’t be afraid. I’d never hurt you.”
She had the urge to fling her arms around him, kiss his lips and tell him she trusted him. “I don’t trust our circumstances. If we were home… But then, you live in England and I live thousands of miles away and…and this is not appropriate for me to even talk this way.” She covered her hot cheek with one hand.
Armand appeared and bid them Bonjour.
“Forget I said all that,” she told Adam when the proprietor had disappeared into his little shop with their wine order.
“I can’t. Look at me. We both know what we face. The possibilities. But I don’t care. If you’ll have me, I want to come back. Take you to lunch and buy you vin rouge and jambon et fromage. Anything you want. As long as you smile at me as you do now and blush and tell me with those extraordinary violet eyes that I am the finest man you’ve ever met.”
Choked with emotion, her throat burning with tears of delight, she could only nod at him.
“Shall I drive over and see you again?” he asked as minutes later, they stood before her barracks once more and their interlude was done.
He raised her hand, turned it palm up and placed a tender kiss in the center. “Keep that for me, will you?”
Dissolved into a puddle of girlish need, she summoned a reply. “Will you want it back?”
He pressed her closed fist to her heart. “Many times over.”
For Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn her keep. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.
But that world has gone to war.
Volunteering for the Army Nurse Corps, Gwen promises to serve until the end of the conflict, no matter how long that is. She leaves her small hometown with her friends and sails away in the dead of night, chased by German U-boats. Ashore she discovers her new world is dangerous and demanding, helping doctors heal thousands of sick and injured Doughboys in primitive conditions.
She’s determined to overcome the heartbreaks and the challenges. Becoming an expert at anesthesia, she volunteers to go to the front lines with an acute care team. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by pain and despair, she surprises herself when she falls in love with a man she admires—and should not want.
Amid the chaos, she learns the measure of her own bravery to bear any burden, pay any price and claim the one man she adores as she becomes all that she desires.
Buy Link: https://books2read.com/u/bzgaKn
About the Author:
Jo-Ann Power, an award-winning author of more than 40 novels, serves as the curator of the United States World War One Centennial Commission for the Army Nurse Corps. Researching the lives of those 22,000 valiant women who volunteered to save wounded Doughboys, Jo-Ann has spent weeks in dusty archives and years traveling throughout the United States and Europe to discover the facts of these nurses’ daily lives.
In HEROIC MEASURES, she weaves a tale of a group of friends who decide to do the extraordinary and leave the safety of their garden gates to travel thousands of miles to the chaos of war to do the work they know will save lives.
Jo-Ann likes to tell others about these courageous women and speaks often about them to civilian and veterans’ groups. To learn more, please read her posts on her blog at: http://theyalsofought.blogspot.com and sign up for her informative newsletter on the Home page of her website: http://www.jo-annpower.com