Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Andy vs the Colonel by Gwynn Morgan

Andy vs the Colonel by Gwynn Morgan ISBN: 978-1-58749-160-5 (E) 978-58749-305-5 (P)

Some review snips:

"Few authors know how to design characters that remain in your psyche long after you finish reading a book. Andy and her Colonel are the type of characters I won't soon forget. An intriguing drama with a page-turning plot make Andy vs. The Colonel a great story you shouldn't miss. I highly recommend it." - Denise Agnew, author of Dangerous Intentions, Midnight Rose, and others

"ANDY vs. THE COLONEL is one of those stories that took me a bit to get into because it starts several years before to give the reader a little background into what happened in her past to make Andy the person she is in the present. ...after I got further into the book I realized that the way the author presents some of those early facts actually helps in moving the story along, without a lot of interruptions to explain things. I give Ms. Morgan high marks for this because not all authors seem to understand this principle in using a prologue."

"Watching the relationship develop between Cory and Andy is a study in human nature. A military brat, Andy has learned her lessons in doing things by the book the hard way. Cory, on the other hand, follows the rules, but allows himself and those under his command some latitude in how things get done. In short, they find each other's hot buttons early on in the relationship. She's determined to ignore everything but her duty, while he's determined to discover the woman under the uniform. It makes for some interesting reading."
"If you enjoy a good story wrapped around life in the military, you'll really enjoy ANDY vs. THE COLONEL." - Jaycee for RomRevToday

Captain Andrea "Andy" Hollis resolves to be a soldier first and a woman second. For Andy, militarily correct is the only way to go. The arrival of Colonel Cory Costain, new unit commander, puts her principles and perspective to test.
An easy-going extrovert who prefers to treat his subordinates as friends, Cory is far too attractive for Andy's peace of mind. He's determined to get his stiff and starchy Executive Officer to unbend, re-join the human race and be all the woman he knows she can be.
Thrown together in the torrid tropics when war breaks out in Central America, Andy and Cory learn all is fair in love and war. But which is it to be? Cory's weapons of choice are tender words, lingering glances, and gentle touches. It's a hard-fought struggle while Cory battles Andy and the shadow of her domineering father to convince her she has every right to win.

Excerpt: (Andy and Cory's first meeting)

A glance at her watch told Andy it was 1130. Maybe it would help to get out, breathe some fresh air and grab lunch at the Post Exchange snack bar. Although it was October, the sun was still bright and warm at midday. Leaving the Twenty-fourth's offices, Andy walked briskly down the sidewalk which divided the historical two-story buildings housing the Fort's many offices from the parade ground, a smooth expanse of grass bordered by ancient cottonwood trees.
For a moment, she forgot the aggravations of her job and let herself enjoy the beautiful fall day. She drank in the golden warmth and rested her eyes with thepleasant harmony of blue sky, green grass and gilded leaves. Those huge trees had probably turned colors a hundred times, witnessed cavalry drills and watched the mule mounted infantry that had guarded the border during World War I. The Army had a fine sense of history which gave Andy a secure, rooted feeling.
At the end of the block, she turned to cross the street. A pickup truck pulled up and stopped even with her. Several years old, its once-bright, metallic-blue paint had faded and spots of rust marred its finish.
The driver turned a pleasantly weathered face toward her before he spoke. "Excuse me, Ma'am, can you point me to the In-processing Section of MILPO He wore a well-used gray Stetson and a plaid western shirt, mostly blue, the shade perfectly matching his eyes. He spoke in an easy drawl, completely in tune with his rugged, outdoorsy appearance.
Andy could not hide all of her surprise. Why would a cowboy need to find Military Personnel In-processing? She couldn't imagine him in uniform. Still, from habit, she answered with reasonable courtesy, pointing as she spoke. "See that fourth building on the right? In-processing's on the second floor, enlisted at the north end. I'm not sure if they close at lunch time or not."
"Thank you, Captain. Reckon I'll just have to go see, won't I?" The man smiled then, and she gulped. That's a smile and a half. The images of a couple of her favorite old time western movie stars flashed across her mind.
"You're welcome. Have a nice day." Andy replied automatically, still curious. Why, she amended, did a gorgeous hunk of a cowboy need to find In-processing? Well, it wasn't her concern. She turned and started away.
"Ma'am?" The gentle drawling voice arrested her step. "Thought you might not know it, but you've got a nasty run in your hose, up the left leg there."
For a startled instant, Andy whirled back and stared at the man. His tone and expression were both carefully neutral, but something about him still said "gotcha," loud and clear.
Just who did he think he was? He might be good looking, but he really was crude! Andy huffed, faced around, and marched on toward her destination. Not until she was safely inside the PX did she stop and check her nylons.
Darn it, he was right. She did have a run, a big one. It went from her ankle clear up over her knee to vanish under her skirt. She hated to appear anything short of perfect when in uniform, and that sure ruined the effect. Why hadn't she noticed before she left the office? This was turning out to be a lousy day!
But the worst was yet to come. Why should Colonel Standish be out of the office when his replacement arrived? He'd told Andy they were old buddies. Not only was he out but Stacy too, leaving only Andy herself and Sergeant Rita Perez, her enlisted clerk.
Buried under the constant deluge of paper, Andy barely heard the outer door open and Rita's pleasant greeting, perfectly correct for someone dressed in civilian clothes.
"Good afternoon. How may I help you?"
The reply caught her attention. It pulled her to her feet and across toward her open door before she actually registered anything familiar about the low drawling voice.
"I was hopin' to have a few minutes with Colonel Standish."
"I'm sorry, but he's not in this afternoon. I think they're picking up his household goods. His wife is in poor health, so he wanted to be there himself. This is his last week on duty here, you know. Could someone else help you?" Rita gushed, her tone almost sugary.
Why was she being so much more effusive than normal? If Rita was almost falling over herself in an effort to be helpful, Andy had to wonder why. The young sergeant was usually much too casual, about as likely to say "Yo, dude" as "Yes, sir."
Then Andy reached the door, looked out, and understood. The visitor had his back to her, but she recognized the blue plaid shirt and the wide shoulders. What business did he have in Twenty-fourth Signal?
"Maybe Captain Hollis, the Exec..." he was saying.
"I'm right here, Sergeant Perez." As always when caught off guard, Andy fell back on military courtesy, the stiffer the better.
At the sound of her voice the visitor turned, a smooth facing turn betraying long familiarity with military drill. The motion was oddly at variance with his dusty, scuffed cowboy boots and the faded jeans which fit his narrow hips and long, lean legs like a well-made glove. He looked at her, one eyebrow cocked quizzically, surprise and only the merest hint of recognition in his faded blue eyes.
"Captain Hollis..." he said, with barely perceptible hesitation, "I'm Colonel Cory Costain."
Andy shut her mouth sharply, the only way to keep from blurting a torrent of profanity. No! It couldn't be, it just couldn't. But it was. Same hat, same shirt, same ruggedly appealing face and lazy drawling voice.
She felt her face redden as a barnyard epithet kept repeating in her mind. Shutting her eyes against the unhappy scene, she fought the maelstrom of embarrassment and regret. And she'd been concerned about first impressions -- Enlisted In-processing, she'd said, assuming. Ohmigod! No, no, no!
There was only one thing she could possibly do: drag out the very best of her rigid military courtesy and pretend the other incident had never happened. What would she say and do, how would she act if she had never laid eyes on Colonel Costain before? That's exactly what she'd say and do now.
Cory took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten. For a long moment, neither spoke. They simply looked at each other. He felt sure Captain Hollis also mulled the consequences of an event which neither of them could erase, however much they both might wish it. So much for first impressions.
Oh hell, what have I done to deserve this? Earlier, he really hadn't noticed much about her appearance. He'd been too aware of her attitude, but now he did notice. Captain Hollis might be spit and polish, even snooty and stuffy, but she was also attractive, damned attractive in spite of herself.
She wore no obvious makeup and her short, dark brown hair fell sleekly into a simple, almost severe style. She was clearly a woman who had no intention of flaunting her femininity, not that she needed to. A man could not deny or ignore it. She had snapped to attention when he identified himself, which put her shoulders back and lifted to prominence the curve of her breasts.
Under that crisp and carefully tailored uniform, he'd bet she hid a fantastic figure. He could see just enough hints of it to speed his pulse. Even if she did wear the lowest heels available on the official black pumps, her legs were definitely great. He'd been looking at them when he spotted that unfortunate run.
He didn't usually pay so much attention to a woman's appearance, but there was just something about Captain Hollis. She wore the dress uniform instead of the camouflage Battle Dress Utilities or BDUs, in which almost everyone looked bulky and untidy. In the tailored uniform, she appeared neat and precise, almost recruiting-poster perfect. The contrast of that with her undeniable feminine attributes struck him forcibly.
She finally spoke, with almost robotic formality. "Welcome aboard, sir. I'm Captain Andy Hollis. At present, I'm the Brigade XO. When did you arrive on post, sir?"
This time he recognized her voice: the same one he'd heard on the phone when he called from Korea. It had nagged at the back of his mind ever since. Now he knew why. Though low pitched, it was definitely a feminine voice. How could he have missed that?
Down two strikes already. There was just one thing to do: pretend he'd never seen her before. Cory knew he wasn't good at conning himself, but he'd better try. He could use military courtesy too, when necessary. He stood a little straighter, called up his command presence, and gave back as good as he got.
"I just arrived, Captain. At ease, please. This is a very unofficial visit., Colonel Standish and I go back a ways. I hoped I could catch him for a few minutes, but since he's not here, I'll get out of your way."
Cory forced himself to relax, revealing none of the tension and dismay he felt. This assignment wasn't going to be the comfortable last post he'd hoped for after all, was it?
"Your room is ready, sir, over in Visiting Officer's Quarters. You'd told us to expect you tomorrow, but everything's been arranged. There's a copy of the weekly real estate catalog and a few other things waiting there for you."
"Thank you, Captain. You've been most helpful. Do you expect Colonel Standish in tomorrow?" There, he was talking as stiffly as she was.
"Oh, yes sir," Rita interjected. "Right here on his calendar -- he has a staff meeting at eight. It usually runs about an hour."
Cory turned back to the young clerk. "Okay, I'll be in about nine fifteen then. Will you let him know I've arrived?"
"Oh, yes sir!" Rita accompanied her answer with a flashing smile, bright as daybreak on her dusky face.
"I...if there's anything else, sir, we're just a phone call away." Andy's words drew his gaze back to her. Her face and posture looked equally rigid. She must be feeling as uncomfortable as he was. Well, it served her right. Cory acknowledged her comment with a nod.
"I'll remember that. Thank you both again." He gave both women a smile before he turned and strode out. No use making things any worse than they were. But he might make some reassignments, once he got on board.
As he walked out and got back in his truck, Cory wished he could take back that little dig about the run, but it was too late. One of these days, your mouth is going to get you. But damn it, she'd asked for it, directing him to the Enlisted Section! What rule said an officer couldn't wear blue jeans or drive an old pickup?
Since his nephew had totaled the vintage Mustang Cory had left with his sister in San Jose when he went to Korea, he didn't have much choice, but that was beside the point. He'd never had any patience with the snobbery and elitism still prevalent in the military community, anyway. If that ruffled a few feathers, so be it.
At this stage of life, he wasn't about to change. He didn't expect to advance any higher in rank, so he didn't need to follow the inflexible rules as closely as those colonels who had stars in their eyes. He wasn't general material and he knew it.

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