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Book Blast: FIRST TO BURN by Anna Richland [Excerpt + giveaway!]

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A Soldier with Secrets.

Immortal Viking Wulf Wardsen once battled alongside Beowulf, and now serves in Afghanistan. He's trusted the mortal men on his elite special operations team to protect his secret, until an explosion lands Wulf in a place more dangerous to him than a battlefield: a medevac helicopter.

A Doctor with Questions.

Army captain Theresa Chiesa follows the rules and expects the same from others, even special forces hotshots like Sergeant Wardsen. She's determined to discover the secret behind his supernaturally fast healing, and she won't allow his sexy smile to distract her.

An Enemy with Nothing to Lose.

Even as Theresa's investigation threatens to expose him, Wulf dreams of love and a normal life with her. But the lost Viking relic needed to reverse his immortality is being hunted by another—an ancient enemy who won't hesitate to hurt Theresa to strike back at Wulf.

A green tray slid behind hers on the line. “Are they bringing another pan?”
Theresa glanced at the speaker and froze. This close his eyes were as compelling as they had been across the gym, but now she could see brown-and-amber flecks around the iris—a rare combination that gave depth to the blue—and a star-shaped scar on his left temple that she hadn’t cataloged earlier. She imagined he’d hit a corner of a board or rock and left it unstitched.
She broke the stare and read his name tape. Wardsen.
“You!” She studied his body. Feet planted firmly on the floor, weight distributed evenly without favoring a leg. His uniform pants stretched across his thighs and tapered down his calves to tuck into tan boots. Nothing in his posture hinted at a concealed injury. She raised her eyes to his chest, and he obligingly took a deep breath. The line of his shirt across his shoulders didn’t appear to hide evidence of bandaging. When he’d been wearing less clothing in the gym, she hadn’t seen bulky wrappings, but then she hadn’t known he was the elusive Staff Sergeant Wulf Wardsen.
“Would you like to check my teeth?”
She snapped her gaze to his face and collided with his smile. It transformed him from a carving of a thunder god into a heartthrob.
“You give a thorough exam, Doc.”
“You weren’t shot!” Her heart rate notched up as she prepared for a second confrontation.
“Good to know.” He lifted an eyebrow, its toffee color darker than his hair.
Her eyes narrowed. “Why did medevac report you?”
“I didn’t realize they had.”
“Then what are you hiding?” He must have overheard her exchange with Chris, but he wasn’t making it easy to argue with him.
“Nothing.” His smile didn’t budge, his eyes didn’t shift, his expression didn’t flicker.
“I will find out what’s going on.” She focused on the small, steady beat at his neck. His skin didn’t have the ruddy tone of most fair-colored people, as if the stones of Afghanistan had scoured away any hint of pink long ago. Blond hairs showed above the neck of his T-shirt. Unlike the rest of him, they looked silky soft. “The flight medic got reamed by my commander. Whatever you’re up to, other people are paying for it, so knock it off.”
“Understood.” He nudged his tray until it touched hers. “Are you going to keep holding up the line?”
She turned her shoulder to cover her embarrassment. First she’d stared at him like he was a particularly succulent entrĂ©e, then she’d chewed him out. “I’m waiting for cordon bleu.”
“That one?” He nodded at a plate sitting on the serving hood.
Grabbing it, she turned to the salad bar. As she piled lettuce and cherry tomatoes on her plate, the hair on her arms stood up, letting her know he’d lingered.
“Captain Chiesa.” He put the correct Italian spin on her name, pronouncing the first sound like “key” instead of “chee.”
She concentrated to avoid spilling salad dressing. Having him watch her made her hands not work the way she intended.
“About that misunderstanding in the gym.”
“What misunderstanding?” She set the vinaigrette next to the other bottles. Her palms were slippery, but she didn’t want to wipe her hands on her pants in front of him, so she gripped her tray and hoped it wouldn’t drop.
“Captain Deavers came down a little hard.” He looked at the floor as if struggling with how much to say. “I’m sorry. The team’s sorry.”

Anna Richland lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. Like the heroine of FIRST TO BURN, she joined the army to pay tuition, a decision that led to an adventurous career on four continents (if standing on the bridge in Panama that divides North and South America counts as two).

She donates a portion of her book proceeds to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides housing for families of wounded soldiers in the US and Great Britain, and Doctors Without Borders, which delivers emergency medical care in more than sixty crisis zones world-wide.

To find out about her October novella, HIS ROAD HOME, and the next Immortal Vikings romance, THE SECOND LIE, visit her website at annarichland.com and sign up for her newsletter.



Tasty Book Tours said...

Thank you for hosting today!

Anna Richland said...

Thanks for posting an excerpt! This scene always makes me hungry for crispy fried stuff, so I actually went out and got the fixings for pork cutlets with panko crumbs on the outside tonight. Seattle's weather is cooperating, and our heat wave has been replaced by rain, so I can cook again. (Nobody has air-conditioning in Seattle). Won't be quite as good as chicken cordon bleu in the dining facility, but I do make a nice crispy cutlet since I overcame my fear of hot oil.


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