In lieu of the FHF exclusive is the following letter from author Ruth Logan Herne:
First, let me be plain:
I love this hero. I love him because he is good but flawed. I love him because he's given so much of himself to God and country and still feels like it's not enough. I love him because he wants so badly to fix things, but is thwarted by others' choices. His goodness is part of what makes him question himself, and his selflessness makes him blind to his stellar qualities. He does what he does because that's how it should be. It's that simple.
In 2010 I went down to our little village for our annual Memorial Day parade. It was a beautiful day. Warm. Breezy. Sweet. Our town is small, but the heart of the town? Big. Huge.
I stood there with my coffee from the new little cafe tucked in the corner of the pharmacy across the road. I watched as children waved flags. Screeched greetings. Played hide and seek behind strollers and wagons, waiting for the parade to begin.
And then I noticed him, standing to my right, a few yards east of me. A man. A soldier. Tall. Broad-shouldered. Upright. He stood there, dressed casually in comfortable colors, with nothing imposing in his bearing. Nothing to draw attention to who he was, and why he was there, except...
He wore a US Air Force baseball cap, a little faded. Well-worn. Behind his left ear were two tiny yellow ribbons, miniature salutes to someone. Somewhere.
But his face. His face is what drew my attention. Square-jawed and silent, chin firm. Unsmiling, unseeking, he stood there in solemn respect as the local soldiers marched by, followed by the men and women of law and order. A mounted patrol. The scouts, the local baseball teams, the high school band.
Through it all he stood, quiet. Alert. Focused. But in his gaze, his eyes, I sensed something deeper in his heart, his soul. Something to do with those two, tiny yellow ribbons, silent testimony to others in harm's way.
I don't know this man. I don't know who he was, but watching him, I felt Brett Stanton come alive in my head. A man who'd given so much, only to have more taken from him. And in his head, that loss fell on his shoulders because he'd led the charge.
The others merely followed.
And so began the story of Colonel Brett Stanton, a strong, focused unsung hero and the lives that changed because he answered duty's call.
About His Mistletoe Family (releasing November 13th, 2012):
When two orphaned boys and their aunt arrive for Thanksgiving supper at church, retired army colonel Brett Stanton feels his heart tugged. Despite having her hands full, young businesswoman Haley Jennings handles her nephews with a smile. Still, Brett can't get too close to the needy trio. He lost his son and brother to the uniform, and isn't about to set himself up for loss again. Soon sweet Haley and the boys remind him of old dreams--and teach him that new dreams provide the greatest hope for a perfect family Christmas.
From His Mistletoe Family by Ruth Logan Herne:
"Thank you, Brett." She contemplated him, then took a half-step forward. "I want you to know I appreciate everything you do."
Her words sounded stiff. He looked instantly uncomfortable, so she closed the rest of the distance between them, determined to have her say. "What I meant to say is that I'm grateful. Trust has never come easy for me. I pull back and that makes things difficult."
"Relationships you mean."
He mulled her admission, then said, "They don't have to be, Haley."
She paused, then admitted, "I tend to make them that way."
His straightforward gaze said it should be that easy.
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
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Softie Score: It takes about zero point four seconds for five-year old Todd and three-year old Tyler to own Brett. He has a deep well of paternal goodness that pours like rain in the desert over these little guys and is beautiful and heartwarming to follow.
Stupid Strikes: Please give me a chance to explain before throwing me in front of a firing squad. Better yet, I'll just let Brett explain.
He was a jerk.
Brett realized that when he woke up around three hours later. Haley had come over. She'd tried to make amends. And he'd rebuffed her because he was tired and ornery and had just found out that both accident victims died overnight. Despite their best efforts and quick response, both drivers lost their lives.
He shouldn't have talked to her. He should have ducked back into the store when he saw her knocking, but he'd ignored the internal warning so he could see her.
And he'd blown it, big time.
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
Swoon Score: I know it looks like I've gotten pretty free with the full five swoon score lately, but Brett just does it for me. I'm into everything about this hero, including, maybe especially, he and Haley's whole May/December romance. It hearkened back to Colonel Brandon and Marianne from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Colonel Brandon has nothing on Col Brett Stanton (RET).
About Brett Stanton's author:
Ruthy has a professional bio but she considers it somewhat stifling. She loves God and her husband, considers chocolate and coffee to be health food, and is gratified when science agrees with her layman’s opinion on such matters.
She lives like a hermit in a small cave three trees down from the tumbling creek and is usually groveling for coffee in Seekerville first thing in the morning and late-day. Ruthy sightings are rare and should be graphed and charted by the observer. Imposters have been known to imitate her for no known reason she can understand, so she generally shakes their hand and feeds them.
Current searches for Ruthy find her at www.seekerville.blogspot.com an amazing inclusive blog for writers and readers, or her blog: www.ruthysplace.com and her website (where she pretends to be normal because editors read it) www.ruthloganherne.com. You can also find her returning to her waitressing roots at www.yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com where she and a great group of gals share recipes and small talk on food, fun, men, kids and travel.
Now for the giveaways:
We're featuring Brett in advance of his release date (11/13/12), so instead of the giftcard, I'm kicking that back and giving away THREE copies of Brett's novel to my awesome hero-girls and blog followers in a drawing that ends at Midnight on the release date, Nov. 13th. Just leave me a comment with your thoughts on Brett and mention you'd like in the drawing. Please remember if I can't navigate to your e-mail addy through blogger, leave it in your comment in a spam-fighting format like who.you.calling.old-timer? (at) sledridesthatmeltyourheart (dot ) com
Did you like having the back cover copy come before the excerpt? While we're on the topic of excerpts, do you like having those or shy away from them afraid they'll warp your reader experience? Is there something else you would like to see or not see in the features? And please, for the love of this blog, get cracking reading and help me find some FHF-worthy heroes and come back and nominate them. ;-)
Now, let's play!