September 1, 2012

Cole McKenna

Cole McKenna is yet another reason I'm thankful for this blog. I'm not a suspense reader, but this hero came highly recommended and the reviews online of his novel backed it up. I was nervous, for one because he isn't even shown on his cover. A third of the way into the novel, I knew I absolutely had to have Cole on the blog. He is an iceberg of Alaskan awesome, loves Jesus, is a rescue diver, a youth minister, a mentor, the leader of his family, playful with a great sense of humor, and appropriately handsome with green eyes (my absolute favorite). How Cole helps solve a murder, protect his family and helps the long-lost love of his life, Bailey Craig, face her past and overcome a fallen reputation in an unforgiving small town earn him a place among the greats here at FHF.

From Submerged by Dani Pettrey:

          Slipping off his dive mask, Cole swallowed a gulp of sea air. The sun's rays penetrated his dry suit, its warmth radiating along his cool skin.
          Landon sank down beside him, tossing him a Gatorade and a granola bar.
          "Thanks." Cole stretched out, his body aching from the day's heavy labor. Fortunately, all that remained was harnessing and refloating the fuselage. Henry Reid's body had been retrieved, leaving only Mark Olsen's unrecovered. Cole hated leaving a man behind.
          Landon angled his head back and shut his eyes.
          "Don't get too comfortable," Cole instructed. They'd be heading back down soon.
          Deputies Tom Murphy and David Thoreau chuckled voraciously at the boat's bow. What they found so funny about today's events eluded Cole.
          "She looks great. And still single," Tom said.
          "Maybe you should drop by, offer to take her out for a drink."
          "We know where that'll lead."
          Thoreau nudged Tom. "Exactly. Come on, you know us married guys have to live vicariously through those of you who haven't been taken prisoner yet."
          "I'll see what I can do."
          "Details, my man. That's all I'm asking for."
          Landon tossed his empty Gatorade bottle in the waste bucket. "What are you two jabbering about?"
          Tom lifted his chin. "Haven't you heard? Easy Lay Bay's back in town."
          Cole's jaw flexed. "Don't call her that."
          Tom and Thoreau exchanged a knowing glance.
          "Why not?" Tom hopped down from the bow and swaggered toward Cole. "Oh, that's right. I forgot. You two had a thing way back when."
          Tom's tone and choice of words made what he and Bailey had shared seem dirty, when it was far from it. Or at least he'd believed so until she'd broken his heart and never looked back. "We were friends."
          "Friends?" Tom tilted his head in Thoreau's direction. "Well, we all know how friendly Baily could be."
          Cole crushed the empty Gatorade bottle in his fist. "It wasn't like that."
          "Then you must have been the only one she wasn't like that with."
          Cole stood and grabbed his gear. He was too old for childish games. "If Bailey's back in town, it's for her aunt's funeral. Show some respect."
          To his astonishment Tom let it drop, and Cole returned to the water, hoping to drown all thoughts of Baily Craig in its depths. In a few days she'd be gone and he could go back to pretending she didn't exist.

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score: Cole is one of those men who always does the right thing. Even as a teenager, when everyone else wasn't. Even when he had to sacrifice to return home and care for his family. He is protective of them without being stifling, and leads them the best way there is, by example. When the locals want to continue to paint Bailey in her past sins, he defends her. And those who've read Submerged know that Cole has no finer hero moment than in the killer's terrible game of Russian Roulette.

Wounded Score: Bailey hurt him. I refer you to the excerpt "until she'd broken his heart and never looked back." But, Cole didn't let it ruin him. One of my favorite moments is a prayer he offers for her late in the novel. Yet another reason he is here on FHF.

Please, Lord, help her to release it all to you.
Only you can make the broken whole. I know that all too well.

Softie Score: One of the things I love about Cole is he doesn't try to cover up his softer side. I almost can't call it a side, because his caring spirit and charm are never "off" unless he's had enough of someone's inappropriate comments or is "game on" while he's working in the water. There are moments with Bailey and his family that highlight it and make for great reading, especially when he sees "the" locket.

Stupid Strikes: Zero. Cole always does the right thing, says the right thing, and more often than not thinks the right thing too. I'm thinking it grows out of his really strong relationship with Jesus. And I said this in my review of the novel on Goodreads, but this does not make him unrealistic. I'm blessed to know a few men who did life right, right from the start. And though he's fictional, Cole McKenna is one of them.

Swoon Score: I did mention he has gorgeous green eyes and ALWAYS does the right thing, right? There's a moment on the boat when he nudges Bailey's foot with his own and smiles that was so romantic, it was way better than a kiss or declaration. And one that really, really got me. If you've read it you know this moment. "I don't dive there anymore." And of course, the previously mentioned Russian Roulette game the killer forced them to play where Cole McKenna etched himself on my heart forever.

 About Cole McKenna's novel SUBMERGED (released May 1, 2012):

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers. One single clue.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey, Alaska, again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a town that doesn't forget. She's returned only to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash, but then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can face dangerous rescue dives. He can face the fear a murderer may be threatening his town. But facing the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart... but doesn't seem to be the same girl who left Yancey ten years ago. And he's not the same guy she left behind.

Racing against the clock and a rising body count, Bailey and Cole must move beyond the hurts of their pasts to work together until the truth of what is hidden in the depths finally surfaces.

About Cole McKenna's author:
Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves--the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She's a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. To learn more about Dani, please visit her website or her Facebook.

Now for the Fiction Hero Feature exclusive not found in the novel--directly from the author:
In Chapter 4 of Submerged, Bailey looks at the locket Cole gave her when they were teens. What wasn't shared in Submerged was the inscription on the back--Deeper than the sea.
Bailey was always amazed at how deeply Cole loved the sea, so he had Deeper than the sea inscribed on the back of the locket, letting her know his love for her was even deeper than his love for the sea.

Now for the giveaways:
We have a drawing from one print copy of Cole McKenna's novel Submerged to a randomly chosen commenter in the drawing that closes at midnight central time on September 14th.
If you have already made this novel your own and read it, then gush about how awesome Cole is and his author Dani and if you name a character from the novel that is not Cole, Bailey, Landon, Henry Reid, Mark Olsen,  Tom Murphy, or David Thoreau (All in the excerpt!) we will enter you in the drawing for the $10 Amazon or B&N gift card, winner's choice. There are a ton of characters in this novel, but "Cole's sister" or "Bailey's aunt" isn't going to work for me. I want names please for the gift card drawing and remember, once it's been used, you have to use a different character.
You guys have gotten really good at this by the way. I'm so proud.
As always, if you are not a blog follower with your e-mail address in your profile so I can find you if you win the drawings, please leave your e-mail in an anti-spammer format like iheartcolemckenna at awesomehero dot com. Now let's play!


happygret said...

I love how he took care of his siblings.
That he's an outdoor adventure guy did it for me! Cole made me [almost] want to SCUBA dive.

Nancy Kimball said...

Cole made me almost want to do a lot of things. :-p
It's nice to see you on my blog finally, girl! If you get me the name of an unmentioned character I'll enter you in the gift card drawing. =)

Melissa Jagears said...

Ok, this is totally out of my normal reading, but I've heard tons of good stuff, never signed up for a drawing, but if the hero's swoon worthy? Put me in the hat.

Nancy Kimball said...

If you don't need full-on wounded, because Cole isn't, he is absolutely swoon worthy. He wouldn't be here if he wasn't. =D
You are so in the hat.
(aka the list randomizer at, hehe)

Dawn Crandall said...

I've read this book, and it was good. Especially for a first novel. ;) Contemporary Romance isn't my normal reading preference, but the writing was really good... and like Nancy said... Cole McKenna was an a pretty amazing hero. :D

Nancy Kimball said...

Thanks, Dawn! You know your one of the readers whose hero tastes I trust completely. =) Funny because if it weren't for this blog (or Karen Witemeyer's review at goodreads) I wouldn't have read this book either. Hero hunting has taken me in whole new genres and Cole was totally worth it. =)

Clari Dees said...

I SOooo loved this book! I'm always looking for authors like Dee Henderson and Irene Hannon. Finding Dani Pettrey made me Very happy! :-)
I'm itching to see what happens between Jake and Kayden, and Piper and Landon. Love the sparks of coming attraction there. :-)

And I'm glad you pointed out that Cole did life right. I didn't think that made him unbelievable, because I, too, know men who, while life might not have been easy, still made right decisions. My dad is one of those heroes in my life. He grew up with a single mom, but he made right decisions and God has blessed him and his six children, richly! So, yes. There are men who get it right! And I love them for it. :-)

Kav said...

Squeallllll! I loved Cole too!!! And the whole McKenna clan. So looking forward to reading about them all. I think of Cole has an anchor to those in his life. Solid, dependable, compassionate. Almost too good to be true, but as others have mentioned, these men are out there. Sometimes I think a writer can go too far in the other direction as far as wounded heroes go. Some of them have been through so much that they couldn't possibly have dealt with it all!!!

That's what I liked about Bailey. Her past still messed with her mind, even though she had been made new in Christ. It's not easy to switch those old negative messages off and she really struggled. It took guts for her to go back to the place that had shaped so much of her life. Even as I cringed over her past, I couldn't help but admire her strength to endure the present she found herself in. And completely adored Cole for being her anchor -- even when she didn't want him to be.

Dani Pettrey said...

So glad you enjoyed Submerged and Cole! The outdoor adventure guy did it for me too :))

Dani Pettrey said...

Hey Melissa,

Hope you enjoy Submerged if you give it a try :)

Dani Pettrey said...

So glad you enjoyed my debut novel, Dawn. Thanks for checking out Cole's Fiction Hero Feature!

Dani Pettrey said...

Hi Carli,

Your dad sounds pretty hero worthy. So glad you were blessed with such a great day! And, so glad you enjoyed Submerged.

Nancy Kimball said...

Clari's here! =) That's awesome about your dad. And you (and me!) only have to itch about Piper and Landon until next February. That's when Shattered (Book 2 in the Alaskan Courage series) releases. =D

Erynn said...

Ack! I must read this. And I have no idea how I didn't know about your blog before, Nancy. This is just delightful. Following NOW. Pretty sure my email address is in my profile, but just in case, it's ENewman(at)outlook(dot)com.

Nancy Kimball said...

Erynn, welcome! I know how you didn't know about my blog before. I've let all my "peeps" know but that's all I can do. You guys will have to tell your peeps (unless you don't want to share the love and dilute your chances of winning the drawings, hehe. We're delighted to have you here at FHF and I look forward to getting to know your hero tastes. =)

Erynn said...

I will, absolutely. I'm a Romantic Suspense reader/writer. I love the LITERAL heroes. And agree that the hero can never be "too good." I don't normally do historical, but I'm absolutely in love with Karen Witemeyer. Just finished Short Straw Bride. Maybe one day you can feature one of my heroes. As a prepublished author, I'm constantly nervous/excited to unleash my characters on the world.

Abbi Hart said...

Ahh! I love love this book! It has been one of my favorite 2012 reads (and I've read 184 so far) and Shattered is one of the 2013 releases I'm most looking forward to! And Cole McKenna definitely is a swoon-worthy guy! The character I'm gonna mention is Jesse Ryan!

Nancy Kimball said...

Erynn, when your hero is ready, we'll get him nominated for sure. I don't normally (prior to this blog) do anything but historical. There will probably always be more historical heroes than anything else, but I'm getting nominations and reading across genres for the blog and I think it's helping my writing as well. Our next hero as a matter of fact is YA. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Abbi, you got it. You are in the giftcard drawing with JESSE RYAN. You astound me with 184 books read in 2012. I'd like to think I'd be closer to that number if I wasn't busy writing some, hehe. I am also looking forward to Shattered. February 2013!

Ganise said...

This book is like a must read for me, I've heard so many good things about it and I'd be thrilled to win! Thanks for the opportunity, Nancy!
And bonus point: the hero always does the right thing, at the right time? Oh, I'd like to see that.

Blessings to you, friend! And everyone else also, with a special shout to Dani... congrats!


g.gclermont AT gmail DOT com

Nancy Kimball said...

Good! And good to see you again. =) You are in the drawing for Submerged.

lisagodfrees said...

The book sounds really great, has great reviews on Amazon, and my library actually has it so I will definitely be checking it out (unless I win a copy). ;)

Nancy Kimball said...

Lisa, deal. =)

Rachelle said...

What a fun blog post. This was really nice to read. These "good guy" types are always such a refreshing different take on the "bad boy" hero (not that I'm complaining about the plethora of *those* by any means, though!). I hope I get to meet Cole soon, and thanks for the chance to win the chance. :)

biblioprincess15 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Nancy Kimball said...

Rachelle, welcome to FHF! I agree. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love a tragic, wrecked and wounded hero turning it around but I like the men who just get it right the first time as much and would like to see more of those novels.

Jan said...

I loved reading about this book and hero. In a world with so many men like the two guys in the front of the boat, it is great to see a good man who does life right. I was blessed to have been married to such a man before he passed away in 1988. I would love to read this book, I usually
read historical Christian, but this book sounds like a winner to me.
I follow you blog through Google reader. Here is my email, just in case.

Nancy Kimball said...

Jan, welcome to FHF! Can I come through the web and hug you for that beautiful piece of testimony? I rejoice with you at the blessing of a Godly husband and such a strong legacy. I read mostly historical and historical romance also, because that's what I like and what I write, so FHF will probably always be heavy on the historical hero side but Cole is worth the trip out into romantic suspense, I assure you. Best wishes in the drawing and welcome again. =)

Susieq said...

Like Clari Dees, I'm a big fan of Dee Henderson & Irene Hannon. I agree with her .....this book sounds like a great book. I love reading romantic suspense, especially when the characters seem so real that it's like they're your friends. I can't wait to read this book! I hope I win it!


Ann Q said...

Romantic suspense is my favorite genre, and this books really appeals to me.

Nancy Kimball said...

Susieq, welcome to FHF. We've got you in the drawing for Cole's novel. =)

Nancy Kimball said...

Ann Q, welcome to FHF! You're in the drawing for the book. =)

Anonymous said...

I've seen this book making the rounds on blog tours, and it sounds AWESOME. I love romantic suspense, and I really enjoy the concept of Bailey's scarred past balanced with Cole's clean-cut living and protective instinct. I'd love to see how this plays out. Please toss my name in the ring! Thanks for the giveaway...

Nancy Kimball said...

Emily, welcome to FHF. You are in the drawing for Submerged!

Dani Pettrey said...

Hi Erynn,

Hope you'll enjoy Cole! I share your tastes--LOVED Short Straw Bride :)

Dani Pettrey said...

Hi Abbi,

Thank you so much for your kind words about Submerged. So thrilled its made your favorite list :) Hope you'll really enjoy Shattered too! Blessings.

Dani Pettrey said...

Thanks, Ganise :) Hope you'll enjoy Cole and Submerged!

Dani Pettrey said...

Hope you'll really enjoy Submerged, Lisa. So glad you enjoyed Cole's feature. Nancy did such a great job. I love her blog and had the most fun participating.

Dani Pettrey said...

Thanks for entering, Rachelle. Hope you'll Cole :)

Dani Pettrey said...

Hi Jan,

I was so touched by your testimony. Thank you so much for sharing!

Dani Pettrey said...

<< but Cole is worth the trip out into romantic suspense>> Aww, thanks Nancy :))

Dani Pettrey said...

Best of luck, Susie :) Thanks for dropping by.

Dani Pettrey said...

Hope you'll really enjoy Submerged, Ann!

Dani Pettrey said...

Thanks for taking time to drop by and enter. Hope you enjoy Cole's story :))

Nancy Kimball said...

You're welcome! He SO IS. =) And I just navigated my way to the photo of him on your website the other day. Blond doesn't usually do it for me, but it was Cole, so it totally did! =)

Anonymous said...

I really wanted you to know I really enjoyed Submerged and can't wait for Shattered, Piper and Landon's story. The character I'm going to mention for the drawing is, Agnes Grey. Thank you for hours of great reading!

Nancy Kimball said...

Elisabeth, welcome to FHF! We have you in the giftcard drawing with AGNES GREY. You have the least amount of time to wait, drawings are tomorrow!

Dani Pettrey said...

Thank you so much for dropping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed Submerged! Hope you'll enjoy Shattered too. Blessings to you :))

Nancy Kimball said...


Thanks to the copy of the print edition of Submerged is:


The Submerged reader who wins the $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card is:


THANK YOU everyone, and thank you Dani!

Dani Pettrey said...

Thank you, Nancy. It was so much fun seeing Cole featured. Really enjoyed chatting with you all. Congratulations Lisa and Elisabeth!

Daniela said...

I LOVED this book! It was so real and raw to me. This is one of those books that I will read over, and over, and over and never get tired of it. I am counting down the days until Shattered to comes

Nancy Kimball said...

Daniela, I hear you my friend. Thanks for stopping by, and this is one of the things I love about the format of the blog. The heroes are always here, to be discovered or reminisced. Thanks for stopping by. =)

Jennie W said...

I loved the story of Russian history here as well as the two characters! This entire series is fabulous!