We're delighted to welcome military romance author Heather Ashby back to the Romance Dish. Heather is a Navy veteran who taught school and raised a family while accompanying her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In gratitude for her Army son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes military romance novels, donating half her royalties to causes that support wounded warriors and their families. Her debut novel, Forgive & Forget was voted “Best of 2013” by Suspense Magazine. She lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her husband and three rescue cats.
Please give Heather a warm welcome!
Well, What Do You Know?
Thanks for inviting me to The Romance Dish today, PJ. I always enjoy your blog, both as a visitor and a guest.
The best feedback I receive on my Navy romance novels is: “I learned a lot.” I, too, enjoy learning interesting information through settings and scenarios in novels. Two of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Essex and Rachel Grant, not only write with terrific voice, but I learn so much when I read their work.
Elizabeth Essex writes romance set in the 19th Century Royal Navy. She holds a Masters Degree in Nautical Archeology and it shows in her work. Almost A Scandal hooked me as I read about everything from the heroine (who is impersonating a ship’s lad) scrambling up the rigging, to bowsprits and forecastles and mizzenmasts. I loved learning the derivation of cockpit when the disguised heroine is sent to sleep in “the dark area at the stern-most portion of the lower deck, where the midshipmen messed, hung their hammocks, and fought like bantam cocks.” Essex is masterful at putting the nautical speak in context so the reader is never “at sea,” but still gets the flavor of being on a 19th century ship.
Rachel Grant also has a background in Archeology—the land kind. I had no idea that architectural and engineering firms employ archaeologists, nor did I understand the type of work they do—besides digging up artifacts left by ancient cultures. In Grant’s steamy romantic suspense novel, Concrete Evidence, the heroine, Erica, must research a house that is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The house is made out of an historic concrete called Thermo-Con, which rises like bread dough after the pour. No one knows the history of the concrete, but Erica sleuths out its origins and its connection to a notable historical figure. Interestingly, Thermo-Con is real and the connection to the historical figure was based on Grant’s actual research.
I enjoy sharing my “Love in the Fleet” series with civilian readers so they can vicariously join the Navy and see what it's like to live and work at sea. Many are shocked that my heroine in Forgive & Forget has fifty cubic feet of personal living space aboard her aircraft carrier for a six-month duration. And that the space is under the runway of a major airport with jets taking off and landing on her roof at all hours of the day and night. Many are surprised that she isn’t allowed to “fraternize” with the hero because she is enlisted and he is an officer, but it makes for a perfect conflict in the story. Elizabeth Essex and Rachel Grant inspire me to work the military details into the context of my stories instead of inundating the reader with technical instruction.
My military advisor for Forget Me Not was a patient—and handsome—Navy helicopter pilot. It was difficult to pay attention on the days when he wore a flight suit, but I did manage to learn a great deal about drug interdiction. He explained how drug runners drive their go-fasts at night. A go-fast is a speedboat with multiple uber-expensive engines. The drug mules tarp up at sunrise and spend the day under blue tarpaulins that camouflage them with the ocean. Since their fiberglass boats don’t show up on radar, the helo crews have to go on visuals, like spotting wakes—which is why they run at night. This became the perfect scenario for my external conflict with my hero and his crew tangling with the drug mules.
Adding this firefight with the bad guys to an already hot and conflicted love story really ramped up the action. And while enjoying this suspenseful romance novel, I hope readers will learn about the scourge of the cocaine trade, helicopter operations, and hot helo pilots in flight suits along the way.
I’d love to hear what books or authors your readers enjoy because “they learn something while reading a good story.” I have a copy of Forget Me Not for one lucky commenter.
Suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome and survivor guilt, Navy helicopter pilot and renowned playboy, Brian “Skylark” Crawford, swears he’ll never marry, uncertain he deserves happiness—besides there are too many hot chicks to choose from.
War widow and veterinarian, Daisy Schneider, swears to love only animals after her Marine pilot husband is killed in Afghanistan—but work fails to ease her loneliness or the guilt that she might have saved him.
Between one stray, matchmaking cat and a fiery battle with drug runners at sea, the fur flies as Sky and Daisy learn valuable lessons about life, love, and second chances.
Facebook: Heather Ashby Author
Thank you to you and your family for your service, Heather. I love the sound of your book.ReplyDelete
I always seem to learn something when I read, especially from historical romances. Eloisa James does this so well. Probably because in *real life* she's a professor of English Literature. ;)
Historicals are notorious for teaching us things about times and places. I've always enjoyed historical fiction to reading a history book. And Eloisa James is one of the best!Delete
Marcy, I agree about Eloisa James. I always learn something new from her books. I hope you'll give Heather's books a try. I think you'll enjoy them and I guarantee you'll learn something new! :)Delete
I actually think I take something away from every book that I read. I am quite sure, for example, that I have circled the globe quite a few times.ReplyDelete
Hi, Mary. That's true. We do learn something from every book we read. But there are some books where I learn more than others and I love when an author has us learning it through osmosis while we're reading.Delete
Isn't that fun, Mary? I've been traveling the globe right along with you. ;-)Delete
I enjoy reading about all different places in my reading, especially when the author brings to life places I have never been.ReplyDelete
Hi, Maureen. I, too, love reading about places yet to be visited. I also love to read about a place right before, during, or after a visit. How fun to find special things or neighborhoods, etc. that we've just read about. THanks for stopping by.Delete
I enjoy that too, Maureen. It's especially fun when I go to a place that I've first "visited" in a book. It's like I've been there before...because I have! :)Delete
Morning, All! Welcome, Heather!ReplyDelete
I love learning new things from the novels I read. I finished Forget Me Not late last night. It's a terrific story and you taught me many new things. It was fun returning to the town where I lived for many years and the military community that's such a big part of it.
Hi, PJ. Thanks so much for the invite to The Romance Dish today. I love this blog! Glad you enjoyed Forget Me Not and that you learned new things. (I did too! I knew nothing about helicopters or the drug trade before doing research for this book.) Also great to hear that the book afforded you a trip down Memory Lane. I'm enjoying sharing the Navy in Jacksonville with the world.Delete
I really like the sound of your military romances and just downloaded 'Forgive and Forget' for £0.7 to try.
I used to be involved with researching military radars but always thought my job was pretty cushy compared to the guys/gals involved at the sharp end. Perhaps I will learn something from your book about how the sonar and radars and heat seeking hardware performed in action. There can be a massive difference between a simulated attack and the real thing!
So far I have learned most from historical novels, like Elizabeth Freemantle's 'Queen's Gambit' about Catherine Parr and the English Tudors. Much more enthralling than stuffy history books!
I have also learned a lot about coping with emotional hardship from the more general fiction of Jojo Moyes. For example 'Me Before You' which is about the emotional problems of living with and loving a paraplegic; and the trauma of euthanasia.
Really looking forward to trying your work ... and well done you for supporting military casualties!
I am always fascinated by the work that you do, Q. Hope you enjoy Heather's books. She's very skilled at bringing the reader into Navy life and the hearts, souls and minds of our military men and women.Delete
This gave me goose bumps when I read it: "I have also learned a lot about coping with emotional hardship from the more general fiction of Jojo Moyes. For example 'Me Before You' which is about the emotional problems of living with and loving a paraplegic; and the trauma of euthanasia." Very poignant ; I'll have to check out this author.ReplyDelete
As to the following, I have an interesting thought. "how the sonar and radars and heat seeking hardware performed in action." Our Navy is equipped to deal with incoming missiles or submarines, etc. It's the hundreds of local fishing boats surrounding them in many ports that scare the pants off of me. Which is why I chose that scenario in FORGIVE & FORGET (The fishing boats, not me with the pants scared off me :-) And HEADS-UP, Quantum, Book #3, NEVER FORGET (July 2014) is about an exchange officer program with the Royal Navy, so will have two love stories. And both the UK and the US will be involved in the conflict. Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for your research on military radars.
Marking my calendar for July! :)Delete
I learned a lot from your books, Heather! PJ is right in her comment: You really know how to weave facts into your stories! I read both your books in long overnighters! Eloisa James does manage to weave a lot of history into her stories. Courtney Milan, and attorney deftly weaves in 19th century British law into her stories without one sentence being boring. Thanks for posting.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your kind words, Kathleen. Should I apologize or be thrilled that my books made for long overnighters? :-)Delete
"Courtney Milan, and attorney deftly weaves in 19th century British law into her stories without one sentence being boring." Yes, she's a master at this. It is an art to educate and fascinate without boring the reader.
I can't speak for Kathleen, but no need to apologize to me, Heather. I enjoyed every minute of the loss of sleep while reading Forget Me Not!Delete
Yeah. Okay, you got me, PJ. Authors eat that stuff up :-)ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed the post, Heather. I tweeted.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, Ella. It's always good to "see" you. I appreciate your support.Delete
Thanks for dropping by, Ella!Delete
Heather: I love reading books that also teach me something, whether about history or a fascinating career or topic. It's also why I like to write. ;-) And with an Army/Navy veteran dad and an Air Force husband, I'm always up for a military book that gets it right. Can't wait to pick up yours.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Gwen, and thanks to your family for their service...and that includes you. As a military wife myself, I KNOW that spouses also serve. Write On!Delete
Gwen, thank you for your family's service and yours as well. My late husband was Air Force.Delete
Thanks, PJ! I love the military life. :-)Delete
Thank you so very much for including me, and my fellow archaeologist Rachel Grant, in your post today. I love military romances, both contemporary and historical, but for me, I read these romances for the emotion. One of the things that I try very hard to bring to readers is both the excitement of the military adventure, but also the heavy emotional cost that the experience of serving one's country, whether its in the historic British Navy in my books, or the modern U.S. navy in yours. I only hope I've succeeded, but I KNOW you have in your book!
Thanks again to you, and to the Fabulous Romance Dish, for including me today. Cheers, EE
Thank you for your kind words, Elizabeth. It's always a pleasure to work with you. And, a big old YES to you focusing on the emotion in your stories as your characters are enveloped in authentic settings. Write ON!ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for the shout out, Heather! I'm in fabulous company being included with Elizabeth Essex [secret archaeologist handshake here] and Heather Ashby! I loved FORGET ME NOT and learned quite a bit about the US military's drug interdiction protocols as my heart raced to see what would happen next. The very best kind of read.ReplyDelete
I'm surprised we didn't meet on the edge of our seats as that where I was reading BODY OF EVIDENCE! Thanks for your input today. I'm still in awe of your job as an archaeologist and your wealth of knowledge. And I LOVE the story of a third party connecting you and Elizabeth Essex when she saw both names on the Rita/Golden Heart lists in 2012. Unbelievable that your husband and EE were classmates in archaeological classes!ReplyDelete
I honestly think I learn something from every book I read whether it's factual or emotional. What better way to learn!!ReplyDelete
Very true, but it's fun when I learn things I had no idea I'd find interesting: concrete is a perfect example :-) And the impact of the cocaine trade on the environment is another.Delete
I love the odd tidbits that we learn from historical fiction.ReplyDelete
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I do too! I'm fascinated by the clothing, food prep, transportation, and language of a different time and places. Let alone, the courting behaviors in an historical romance :-)Delete
I am posting the following comment for my awesome Golden Heart sister, Sheri Humphrys, who has tried every which way to post today:ReplyDelete
I LOVE books that teach me something. A few days ago I read TAKE ME HOME by Inez Kelley, which taught me how maple syrup is made. It was really interesting, and changed my pancake experience forever. When I read Pamela Clare's BREAKING POINT, I found the info she gave on how people illegally cross into the US from Mexico on foot (the H/h do this) so interesting, I spent an entire day on the internet, learning even more about every aspect of this, even looking at satellite views of the harsh, barren land they must cross.
I loved FORGIVE & FORGET, and have always loved military themed books. Can't wait to read FORGET ME NOT, which I downloaded last night and plan to start today. :D I read WEB Griffin's entire THE CORPS series and BROTHERHOOD OF WAR series. I loved Susan Wiggs' THE OCEAN BETWEEN US, which in addition to being a phenomenal 5 star read, gave me a taste of what it's like to live on an aircraft carrier.
Everything I've mentioned is contemporary, but I love historical, too. My two (unpublished) books are set in Victorian England and I spent hours and hours doing research to make sure the Victorian life I portrayed was accurate. I love doing the research. I've even been known to spend LOTS of time doing research on some item in a critique partner's WIP. I had so much fun researching deadly viruses for critique partner Michele Mills. For her WIP, LAST WOMAN STANDING, she needed to invent a virus that takes out the world, and I researched how Ebola and Marburg and other hemorrhagic fevers got their names. Then researched areas of Africa that have the right ingredients to potentially birth a new hemorrhagic fever virus (can you tell I'm a retired ER nurse?) and gave her a list of fictional virus names that were all research based. Which is how Ruyigi virus was born.
Learning is a big part of what I love about reading. And there's nothing better than learning by being immersed in a great character's world.
Your books sound fascinating, Sheri, and I know about that "getting lost in research" thing. I love how intelligent people can get lost in a love story, all the while learning about everything from maple syrup to illegal border crossings to Ebola! Thanks for your detailed comments, Sheri. Sorry you had trouble posting.Delete
If it weren't for Sheri I'd still be calling it Asian flu! Ruyigi ebola sounds much more ominous. Thanks so much for the research. Even a post apocalyptic romance requires accuracy!Delete
Thanks, Sheri! Now I want to read your books! :)Delete
p.s. So sorry you had trouble posting!
Thanks, Michele, now I'm even more interested in Sheri's books! She's a fascinating woman with fascinating stories!ReplyDelete
Heather, thanks again for visiting with us today. I hope everyone will go order a copy of Forget Me Not. It's a great "Merry Christmas to me" gift!ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed FORGET ME NOT, PJ. (Sorry if it kept you up...well, sort of :-)ReplyDelete
Thanks again for the invitation to The Romance Dish. I love chatting with your readers. Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays!