Thursday, November 15, 2012

Devlin's Grace: A Love Story, A Marine, PTSD, And More

 From  the desk of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy….

            At my dad’s funeral a few years ago, the honor guard who provided a twenty-one gun salute, played Taps, and folded the American flag into a neat triangle represented the United States military.  In my dad’s case, his service was in the Army but I’ve had relatives who served in every branch of the service.  On that cold January morning I stood proud despite my grief at the tribute yielded to my father, a veteran.  I’ve experienced the same at other family funerals including my grandfather’s.  He served in the Navy and when the honor guard present placed the folded flag in my dad’s hands, he turned and gave it to his mother.  We’ve had our share of military heroes dating back to the American Revolution and even farther into Europe.  And I married an Air Force Veteran and it may be no surprise my eleven year old son plans to join the service one day.

            Veterans matter to me.  And many of our veterans today struggle with the same issues they have for decades.  One of the issues is PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder and it affects a vast number of our veterans of all ages.  Many of the heroes returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deal with PTSD.  One of my grandfathers, a man who served in the Pacific theater of World War II, suffered from it so I’ve seen how it can ravage a life first hand.  Men and women deal with PTSD in many ways.  Some, like my hero Devlin come across as wicked and dangerous. In my upcoming release tomorrow, Devlin’s Grace, November 17th, I deal with this very real issue in a fictional romance but I did extensive research so Devlin’s experiences would be realistic in every way.  

            Here’s the blurb to offer a little more detail about the story:

            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.

Bad boys redeemed by love are another of my specialties!  Here’s an excerpt from Devlin’s Grace now available at, All Romance Ebooks, Bookstrand, and


            “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.

The book trailer is here:
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

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