Persuasive: a free excerpt from Ranger’s Luck

By special request of our friends at Book Boyfriends Cafe, here’s a sneak peek at a “Hot and Bothered” scene in Ranger’s Luck (Book One in the Army Ranger Series)! Available NOW on Kindle - and everywhere else on April 20!

As I recall“Why did you help me?” Cory’s question took her by surprise.

Maddy answered without looking up. “Because you needed it. Because you would have done the same for me had the tables been turned.”

He didn’t respond, and she glanced up at him. “And because you do it for people you don’t even know, every day of your life.”

She watched as the meaning of her words sank in. He brought one finger to her neck, tracing the chain of his dog tags before gently extricating them.

She returned her attention to the bandage before he could see how that affected her. “Besides, you asked nicely.”

“You mean Chase…?”

She nodded. “Quite a persuasive pair you are.”

“If I recall, I was barely conscious,” he said. “I could not have been persuasive.”

“Ah, but you were,” she said softly. “More than you know.”

She sensed a subtle shift in energy, and she dared to look him in the eye again.

It was there.

Desire. He desired her.

It had an amazing, immediate effect on her body.

Fifty Shades of Grey: Book vs. Movie

It was my guilty pleasure – playing hooky from work one afternoon to go see the movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Of course I’ve read the Fifty Shades trilogy (I had to as a fellow author, right?!). And those who know me know that I also have a keen interest in book-into-movie (it always fascinates me to see words on a page come to life on a screen).

50-shades-of-grey-filmHere are my key observations. (Please note there may be spoilers.)

There are some things the movie did well. And I have nothing but admiration for the actors and everyone involved in shooting some of those very intimate scenes (the camera work was excellent).

However, the biggest problem with the movie is that it lacked emotional punch.  I never felt emotionally connected to the characters. I may have felt excited (even that, not as much as I thought I might).  But the sexual stuff was so much (I would say ‘shock value’ but it wasn’t that extreme) that it overshadowed the emotional story.

To be fair, I found this to be an issue in the books as well. Overall, I rated the books highly, because the central part of my evaluation (“Did the characters change/transform throughout the story?”) was satisfied. Yes, I felt there was so much sex it overrode the character development at times, and yes, the books could have been shorter by cutting out some of the sex. (My personal favorite was the second book, because it is Christian who goes through the biggest transformation.)

Here is an example where I feel the movie failed to get us closer to the characters emotionally.

Those who read the book know Christian’s heart-breaking story of his life up to four years old. It’s a major piece of what helps Anastasia begin to understand him. In the movie, he reveals this information to a sleeping Anastasia. I kept waiting for it to be a ruse; I was so sure she was actually faking sleep. I watched closely, but no: she slept through his ‘confession.’

The closest the movie got to pulling us in emotionally is a scene where Anastasia is asking Christian why he won’t let her touch him. (Another major theme in the books.)

And of course, I have to talk about the sex. There are those who say this movie glorifies the rough treatment of women. I can only speak from my own point of view, and I didn’t feel this way. However, I got tired of seeing her naked and bound and writhing around; I think I would have been much more turned on to see him so!

And I’ll mention the ending as well, if only to say that I was gratified (if somewhat surprised given Hollywood’s penchant for turning everything into a happy ending) to see the ending stayed true to the book. (The author EL James’ involvement with the movie is perhaps part of the reason.)

The million-dollar question: will there be a Fifty Shades TWO?

His Blood: an Excerpt from Ranger’s Luck

I promised some Sneak Peeks, and here’s the first, from Ranger’s Luck (Book One in the Army Ranger Series)! Available NOW on Kindle - and coming soon everywhere else!

He was certainly no stranger to blood.A little ice and those things would heal before the mission. They’d better. No way in hell was he getting pulled off this mission!

Cory shifted his weight, intending to push himself to a sitting position. An incredible pain sliced through his mid-section, so strong it made his head swim. He let himself fall back, alarmed. He ran his hand down his left side where the worst of the pain radiated, dreading what he would find there.

He supposed he knew even before he touched it. He was certainly no stranger to blood. But it was still a shock to find so much of it.

His blood.

It had soaked through his shirt. Christ, it was probably on the ground too.

Those fuckers stabbed me!

Release Date Set for Ranger’s Luck (April 20)

I’d like to introduce you to U.S. Army Rangers Cory Foster and Chase Richards.

They’ve been friends since Army basic training. They went through hell together in Ranger school – and a different kind of hell during their tour in the Middle East. Now they’re part of an elite group that specializes in rapid infantry assault, night fighting and hostage rescue.

They’re at the top of their game. They’ve seen it all. They know it all. Or so they think.

And then they fall in love.

Cover_RangersLuck_Final Ranger’s Luck, the first book in the Army Ranger Series, opens as Cory discovers his little sister is pregnant. Nothing in his Army training has prepared him to handle his sister’s miscarriage and subsequent medical emergency.

Doctor Madison Wright doesn’t date military men – or the family members of her patients. But when a beaten and bloody Cory shows up on her doorstep, she can’t turn him away.

chase_book2Ranger’s Destiny is Chase’s story. He’s been infatuated with Ella Foster for years but, as his best friend’s sister, she is strictly off-limits. But when Cory asks him to watch over Ella while she recuperates from a medical emergency, Chase gets more than he bargained for.

Ella has wanted Chase ever since he appeared as her knight in shining armor during an attempted rape three years ago. But he’s so far out of her league, she’s sure she can never have him.

Ranger’s Luck will officially release on April 20, 2015. You can pre-order it right now on Kindle!

Ranger’s Destiny will release on June 20, 2015.

(Both books will be available on Kobo, Nook and Apple closer to the official release dates.)

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing free excerpts and images from these two stories, right here on my blog (so come back!). I’ve fallen in love with these characters, and I hope you do too!

Reactions to American Sniper Movie

I’ll start this post by saying that I have read Chris Kyle’s memoir (see my review), and the movie “American Sniper” contains very little of it. In fact, I didn’t recognize a single significant scene as one that was detailed in the memoir, which gives me the impression that the movie is very much “Hollywood written.”

Warning: if you haven’t seen “American Sniper” yet, there may be spoilers here.

The movie opens with a woman and young boy stepping out from an alley with an RPG as American tanks roll toward them. The cynic in me couldn’t help it: I know they’re fanatical, but would this woman really be that stupid? The tanks are right there; it’s not like they wouldn’t be seen. They’re going to get mowed down before they can throw their bomb.

Before we see what happens, we flash back to Chris’ background. A lot of info had to be crammed in here: Child Chris taking on a bully who’s picking on his brother. A scene with his father. Chris and his brother as rodeo cowboys (Chris is kind of a dickhead). Then a few scenes from his military training, as well as meeting and marrying Taya.

The movie was set up as sort of a four-part series: Tour One through Four. Each tour, some pivotal event occurs that seems to convince Chris he must go back or his buddies will die. (Some of these scenes are very intense.) Each time Chris returns home the viewer can see he’s more distanced from ‘normal’ life. Each time we see more strain on his marriage as well.

american_sniperChris (like many like him) is not much of a talker. So to portray this progressive change and the slow creep of PTSD would have been a challenge. In this, the film did an excellent job. This includes a pivotal scene at a barbeque when it’s obvious to everyone that Chris is not completely stable; his response to a shrink afterward shows that he truly believes he can’t help ‘enough’ people unless he’s in the thick of war.

Thank goodness he learned otherwise.

Chris Kyle may be considered a hero for different reasons. For having over 160 confirmed kills. And  because he was in a bad place in terms of PTSD and fought his way back (a theme I write about often). But he really became famous not because he wrote a memoir, but because he was killed by a fellow veteran. And that’s why Hollywood made the movie.

Not that I’m complaining… I think shining a light on PTSD by utilizing ‘entertainment value’ means more people begin to understand what our veterans are going through.

But what of Eddie Ray Routh? A veteran also suffering from PTSD. Is it right and just that he spend life in jail with no parole (see recent court case)? I have no idea. I do wonder about Chris’ decision to take the man shooting, especially since it appears he had some suspicions. But guns were so much a part of Chris (there’s a scene in the movie that really hammers home how casually he treated guns), I suspect it’s what he felt he could offer.

In all, a compelling movie. Just expect some blatant Hollywood ‘burnishment.’

P.S. Things I found odd: a scene of Chris running into his brother (who evidently had enlisted as well). We never get any more details about the brother; he seems to have lived his entire life in Chris’ shadow. I also found it odd that Chris could be conversing on a phone with Taya while he’s literally on a rooftop staring down the barrel of his rifle or riding in a tank.

Help Me Title My Military Romance Series

slider_ranger_coming_soonHave you ever wanted to name a book?

Well, here’s your chance. And you’ll be doing me a favor, too, because I’m terrible with titles! (It’s often the last thing I come with after the whole book is written!)

So here it is…

It’s a series featuring two Army Ranger buddies who’ve gone through hell together and then find love. Only, that’s not all life has in store for them!

To get you in the mood, here’s a teaser:

She stretched out her arm, tentatively touching his belly just above the bandage. His skin clinched of its own accord, betraying the effect her touch had on him.

Rank your favorite titles – or suggest a different one – by clicking to this survey.

Read more about the series!

By the way, the cover shoot for this series is this weekend. Stay tuned for an update and photos!

New Military Fiction: Army Ranger Series

slider_ranger_coming_soon

Romance at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally – and You Could Win a Free Book Feb 4-14!

If you’ve come from the “Romance is in the Air” blog hop, an extra special welcome!

Romance-is-in-the-air-2015Romance is always in the air for bikers (and biker chicks) – especially those who work at LazLo’s Dream Machines, a custom bike shop featured in my new series (A Biker’s Kiss).

The first LazLo employee we meet is Vince. Vince thinks kissing is overrated and doesn’t much like it (although it hasn’t stopped him from getting what he wants from women). Can Tori change his mind?

She moved cat-like toward him, and he dropped his foot to the ground to stabilize the bike. Instead of mounting behind him as he’d anticipated, she placed both hands on his shoulders and swung a leg over the tank, straddling it so that she was facing him.

Oh, yeah, this series is all about the KISS! And as part of the amorous event known as Valentine’s Day, I’m participating in the “Romance is in the Air” blog hop February 4-14. As part of that hop, I’m giving away a digital copy of “A Biker’s Kiss”!

I’m not sophisticated enough to run special software to track entries, so this is how to enter:

  1. Email me! Send to Tracey (at) traceycramerkelly.com and let me know you heard about the giveaway through the blog hop. While you’re at it, tell me what appealed to you about my blog, my site or the topics I write about (bikers, soldiers & celebrities) – I love to hear from readers!
  2. Make a comment on this post or ANY of my blog posts (my software will let me know when you do) You can include your email address in a format like this: tracey (at) gmail.com to avoid spam-bots picking up your email address.

Note: I must have your email address as part of the entry; it is also where the prize will be sent.

TakeTwo_COVER_NEW_FAnd while I’ve got you here, I hope you’ll sign up to receive my newsletter (see upper right corner!). I only email about once every six weeks, but it includes excerpts that aren’t found elsewhere, special limited-time offerings (like if one of my books is free) and of course, new releases (such as my Army Ranger novella this spring).

P.S. If you like intelligent biker fiction, you’ll also enjoy Take Two: a Hollywood Romance. A Harley-riding Hollywood director and single mom’s personal life collides with that of her leading man when he is poisoned on the set.

Book to Movie: “The Lucky One” by Nicholas Sparks

This time I saw “The Lucky One” movie first and read the book (by Nicholas Sparks) second. That Zac Efron was the romantic lead *may* have had something to do with that (I admit I’m a fan from his “High School Musical” days).

The movie has some additional twists that the book didn’t. Often when this happens I’m not impressed but in this case I thought they added to the story. For example, there’s more of a connection between the main character (Logan) and the dead brother (Drake). It was fun to discover the extent of that connection at the same moment the characters did (and pretty inventive “how” the connection was made).

In the book, Logan and the bad guy (ex-husband and deputy Keith Clayton) have a run-in early on that is completely separate of Logan’s involvement with the heroine (Elizabeth). But by and large, the ex-husband’s character is consistent in both, but he’s a little nastier in the book (you want to knock Elizabeth upside the head when she acts so naïve when it comes to him).

One thing that’s missing in the movie is the influence of Logan’s (dead) best friend, Victor; that bit of history would go further in helping the viewer (of the movie) understand Logan’s inner turmoil and confusion related to the photograph of Elizabeth and the real-life Elizabeth. Logan has lost so much but says so little about it (which is possibly why I like his character so much).

In the book, the dog plays a bigger role than in the movie. I imagine it might have been hard to train a dog to do all that Zeus does in the book. But it was a heart-tugging detail in the book that I probably would have missed in the movie had I read the book first. And it does impact/change how the story ends.

Sparks’ novels are often tear-jerkers, and I was leery that he might kill off the good guy and/or have an ending that was otherwise not happily-ever-after. But in this respect, although the details of the climactic scene were slightly different, the book and movie actually came to the same “conclusion.” I really enjoyed both book and movie.

Let’s Get it Over With: Breaking my New Year’s Resolution

garfieldMy 2015 New Year’s Resolution is to be more funny.

There. I’ve gotten it over with; I’ve already broken my resolution.

Because I am not funny.

(It’s true. I’m more about drama and struggle. If I have a sense of humor at all, it’s a bit dry and sarcastic.)

So now I’m free to make another resolution, and that is to be true to myself. I have to make this resolution every year. Because sometimes it’s hard to be myself. Maybe you feel the same way sometimes!

Take being an independent author. It’s mind-boggling how much there is to manage when you’re on your own, especially the way the publishing market is now. Most days I feel there’s no possible way that I can do it all. Some days I despair that I spend more time trying to get the word out about my books/novellas than I spend actually writing them. Sometimes I think I should be writing a different genre, one that’s more popular, instead of the stories my heart is moved to share. So I resolve to keep writing what I love.

Take being a business owner. The last couple years have been extremely challenging; there are days I wonder if the market still wants what we make. It would be easy to stray from our commitment to manufacture our products in the U.S. Again, I find myself making a resolution: I will stay the course. Hopefully the market comes around and supports us, but if not, I will know that I was true to my beliefs.

Take being a mom – perhaps the hardest ‘job’ of all. I’ve learned to live with a constant low level of guilt. I feel guilty if I don’t spend time with my children. I feel guilty if I spend time with my children and they drive me up a wall and I wish I could get away from them! So making a resolution to have a good balance of work and family is the best I can do.

So what are my New Year’s Resolutions? To be true to myself, to set goals that are achievable and realistic. To not beat myself up for what I didn’t get done, but to celebrate what I did accomplish. Really, it all comes down to this, doesn’t it? New Year’s Day or any other day of the year. Sometimes we just need the reminder.