Heather Long takes readers on a ride into her Always a Marine series. I'm ready to saddle up.
The Marine Cowboy was inspired by the desire of my readers to have a Marine and a cowboy, but—historically speaking—Marine cowboys have defended our country for generations. I want to share a story with you about a man named Fraser West.
From a young age, West worked as a cowhand. In 1936, he passed up an appointment to attend West Point. He preferred to work with the land and his horses. But when war loomed over the United States, West attended Marine Office Candidates School following his graduation from University. Unfortunately, his service was delayed after a skiing accident delayed his officer training and in 1941, he graduated with a regular commission to the 5th Reserve Officer’s Class.
West served in the South Pacific, by his mid-twenties this cowboy was a veteran of the battle at Guadalcanal. He rotated stateside and received a promotion to Captain. He soon joined to the 3rd Marine Division and returned to the battlefield with “George” company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment and participated in the Bougainville campaign, a long and dedicated Allied effort to reclaim the island from Japanese occupation.
As George company’s commanding officer, he earned a Silver Star for his heroism and spent several months in a hospital recovering from a bullet that shattered his left leg. He returned to duty in 1944 and directed tank gunfire. West returned home after the war and back to his beloved ranching. In 2003, the veteran suffered another injury when his roping horse collapsed from a heart attack and pinned him. Despite breaking his back, the resilient Marine recovered and returned with his unit to the island of Guam in 2004 to cut the ribbon on the newly named Marine Corps drive.
In an interview posted on the military.com website, West said, “The Corps teaches you a 'can-do' attitude. All you've got to do is keep moving. Never retire, keep volunteering, and keep looking forward in life."
While A.J. Turner wasn’t based on Fraser West, he could have been. Ooh-rah, Marine!
Keep up with Heather! And be sure to drop by the Always a Marine series page today, Heather will be chatting with readers and answering questions!
Turning down a billet at Mike's Place in Dallas, Sergeant A.J. Turner left Iraq for Freewill, Wyoming with one goal in mind—to forget the last five years. Trading his MARPATS for jeans and his cover for a cowboy hat, he plans to work his ranch and pray the green grass, tall trees, and sweet mountains can wash away the taste of the desert.
The last thing he expected was a reminder of a promise made to his buddies: one night to help them all start again.
Sheri Vaughn quit her corporate job, sold her house and moved to Freewill on a whim. Six months after her divorce, she's hardly ready to put her toe in the dating waters again. One bottle of wine later, however, she signs up for Madame Eve's exclusive 1Night Stand service and lists a very particular set of qualities she wants in a man; he must be honorable, courageous, forthright, single, have served as Marine, but be a cowboy at heart. If she wants to dream, at least she can dream big.
But when local hero A.J. Turner arrives home, Madame Eve comes through, and Sheri has to find the courage to make her dream a reality…
Can one night, even a night arranged by Madame Eve, fulfill both a promise and a dream?
Read on for a juicy excerpt. I so want a Marine Cowboy.
Holy hell in a hand basket. Her gaze tracked the rugged stranger as he left the café and crossed the street. The jeans he wore hadn’t been spray painted on, but they definitely gave her a great visual of hard muscle and male confidence. He walked like he owned the town, but without any hint of pretentious air. That was a man who belonged in Freewill. She didn’t know who he was. She thought after six months she’d met most of the locals, but she would have remembered him.
“A.J. Turner.” Bea poured fresh coffee into her cup, heating it up.
Sheri spent nearly every morning at the café reading before she walked one block down to open the library. Trading her job as a corporate executive at a Fortune 500 company to be a small-town librarian didn’t suggest upward trajectory, but the town of Freewill healed that broken empty place inside left by her ex-husband’s series of affairs.
“The war hero?” She blinked and glanced back at the window, but he’d already disappeared.
“One and the same. Boy hasn’t been home since he left and didn’t tell anyone he was coming back either.” Bea clucked her tongue and wrote out the check. The café preferred the old pen and paper method, and since Sheri ate fruit and drank coffee every morning, the price was always the same.
“What branch did he serve in again?” Curious, she glanced at the waitress. Bea had been born, married, gave birth to her children, and buried her husband in Freewill. The town fixture wasn’t going anywhere. She also took Sheri under her wing from the day she arrived, treating her like an old friend—or a daughter.
“Marines, honey. That young man is definitely one of Freewill’s proudest.” She winked and went back to work.
A Marine. A tremor raced over her and her stomach seemed to bottom out.
The message waiting in her email that morning from Madame Eve made so much more sense. Biting her lip, she strained to look down the street. She wished she’d paid closer attention to him when he walked in, but she only got one good glimpse at his face when he turned and caught her staring.
Her cheeks heated at the memory. He’d caught her attention the moment he entered the café. She hadn’t missed the corded muscle in his arms, tense and well defined even as he drank a cup of coffee. The man was gorgeous and wore his masculinity like a second skin.
But his smile.
Her heart squeezed. The polite smile creasing his rugged face transformed him from handsome to a full-blown heartthrob. Her body hummed in reaction. To a smile.
Wow. He just got home, Sheri. Dial down the hormones.