BOOK TOUR: Shadow Ops by Sarah Luddington (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Final Play
Shadow Ops: Charlie
by Sarah Luddington
Genre: M/M Gay Military Romance
Workplace bullying can cripple the best of people, but for a soldier, it can be
the difference between life and death.

Nick Wilde, an embattled SAS soldier, finds Gabriel Cabrera, a former US Ranger,
hanging by his wrists in a terrorist camp in Myanmar.
Their first battle is surviving the jungle when they are abandoned by
Nick’s homophobic commanding officer and his team.
Their second battle is to survive Jupiter Section. The blackest of black
ops US organisations. The small UK covert group Unit Twelve use the
skill and bond of both men to fight and try to bring down Jupiter
Section and save both the US and UK governments.
The final battle is how the men survive the aftermath of this conflict and
learn to live with the terrible consequences.
An MM military romance with tough men who are broken and reformed by their
experiences. Only love can draw them into the future they both crave
– a future of peace.
I sensed the moment he lost the battle with consciousness. The fight in him fled and he leaned back into my bigger chest. His body, all bone and hard muscle, fitted against mine with such tender perfection I couldn’t sleep despite my exhaustion. I lay on the damp ground, listening to the last of the rain and the rise of the forest noises. The fire crackled a little, helping to keep bugs away and any larger animals, while the air moved with the scent of wet humidity. None of my senses picked up on anything familiar in my surroundings and like so many times in the past when I’d been on combat missions, I thought of home.
The fresh cold air off the moor. The deep scent of thick grass and ancient trees. The smell of the sheep my father loved and the feel of their greasy thick coats under my palms. My mum’s cooking and the smell of the farmhouse, full of dog, more damp, and laundry detergent. The noise of the wind and rain against the windows and our waxed coats when we were out working. The slurp of wellies in thick mud. The scream of the crows when we disturbed them in the fields. I also remembered the summers. Endless fields of rich grass, bracken, heather and on the top of the moor the smell of the sea.
I held Gabriel and wondered if I’d be able to show him the home I suddenly wanted to return to with every fibre in my body. Making it back to England with Gabriel was all that mattered to me in that moment.
**Only .99 cents!**
Ultimate Sanction
Shadow Ops: Bravo
Mac, a 42 year old veteran of the SAS, is in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo learning to live without his closest friend Jacob Hayes after
being forced into ‘retirement’.

However, a spat with an
African warlord brings the SAS, British Military Intelligence and
Jacob back into his life.
Mac soon discovers his enemies are
more dangerous than he ever considered possible. While Mac, Jacob and
Unit 12, the elite arm of British Military Intelligence, strive to
prevent North Korea gaining a WMD of terrifying proportions. They
also fall deeper into a global conspiracy set to disrupt the delicate
balance of power in the world.
During their battles, Jacob
forces Mac to confront the one truth he finds too hard to face alone.
Mac’s sexuality is long denied, hidden in the dark by his brutal
father before he ever had the chance to understand it. Is Special
Forces operative Jacob strong enough to fight for the heart of the
man he’s always loved?
This is a military gay romance with,
off-screen torture (not BDSM) a high death count and a lot of action.
It can be read as a stand-alone.

I WOKE LONG BEFORE DAWN, the sheets a tangled sweaty mess, the humidity of night pressing against my naked flesh because I’d forgotten to switch on the air conditioning again. Though the sweat might well have come from the dreams I didn’t push to remember. Memories were bad enough; I didn’t need to add to them with dreams.

“Run,” I muttered to the empty walls. I untangled myself and rose, the darkness of Kinshasa never a complete pitch-black, unlike the nights I’d spent in the jungle over the last couple of years.

Living alone meant I moved easily around the room without tripping over discarded clothes. I wouldn’t class myself as a neat freak but if an item had a home, not putting back in that home wasted time and energy. A habit I would never break after my 23 years in the British Army. The running gear had a home and I found it easily. I dressed in shorts and a vest, pulled on some socks and hunted down my trainers. While I dressed, I figured out which of my runs to tackle before the heat of dawn made running impossible for me.

“Seven kilometres should do it,” I said, walking through my darkened kitchen. Light from my neighbour’s back porch shone onto a wall of picture frames and one seemed to wink at me. A magpie attraction drew me to look, even though I knew it would be a jackdaw’s beak plucking at my heartstrings again.

The picture showed me standing next to my corporal, his arm slung over my shoulder. He looks at the camera, in full DPMs, the Disruptive Pattern Material suitable for work in the deserts of Syria. I am looking at him.

Unable to stop the inevitable pain, I reached up to run a finger over the digital rendition of my friend while trying to ignore the expression the camera caught on my face. “Miss you.”

**Only .99 cents!**
Fortune’s Soldier
Shadow Ops: Alpha
Fortune is a fickle bastard for a soldier, Luke Sinclair knows that more than most.
As a Special Forces Operative he finished his career
with an elite British black ops department in Military Intelligence.
As tough as it had been, Luke loved his job and his partner, Sam
Locke. Sam had once been a US Navy SEAL.
Being a mercenary gives Luke freedom of movement even if he
cannot escape his memories.
When their world fell apart, Luke thought he would
never see Sam again, until they are recalled to London and sent to
Syria. They must transport the one person able to finish tearing them
apart. A terrorist who destroyed their lives. Luke and Sam fight to
save the world from imminent destruction and fight just as hard for
each other.
From the deserts of Syria the men chase a nuclear
bomb and weaponised virus through Armenia and into Russia, finding so
much more than revenge on the way.
This is a military gay romance with a high death count, torture (not BDSM),
and a lot of action.

THE RUBBER EYEPIECE STUCK TO my skin in the heat coming off the asphalted roof. Sweat greased my face and dripped under my chin making me itch. It might be pre-dawn but damn I couldn’t stand much more of this torture. The five storey apartment block squatted in the New York district of Queens and from this high corner of a tenement building, with the aid of my mounted scope, I could see the much finer apartments of Center Boulevard in Hunters Point. I shifted just enough to ease the cramp in my back for a moment before settling. Just one of the many disadvantages of age and a life lived on the edge of violence, the constant aches. To be honest I’d never planned to live this long but that’s what happened when you were well trained, damned good at your job and some dark version of lucky that preserved your life.

I relaxed again, breathing through my nose and continued to watch the apartment 678 metres away. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge to kill the bastard I hunted, not at this distance and in this sultry weather. My bladder made life more tricky. I eyed the bottles I’d been pissing in for the last thirteen hours waiting for my target to return to his luxury penthouse. The importance of remaining hydrated on a job had been drilled into me, it helped maintain concentration if your body didn’t have to suffer from lack of water. The downside? The stuff you didn’t sweat out had to leave your  body regardless and getting up to take a piss just didn’t happen when you are a sniper.

The man I hunted had touched down on American soil at 16:35, but the target could take anywhere between two hours or several days to reach his penthouse from JFK. It all depended on what he wanted to do in the vast city of New York. So, I waited with patience even a cat would envy, for the fucker to turn up. Unfortunately, I waited in a New York sweatbox, covered in fumes and dust. Even at 05:36 the sounds of the city rumbled around my high perch, bouncing off the nearby buildings.

Making a hit from this distance wasn’t about the target so much as making certain I wasn’t spotted by the overlooking buildings and the hels running around the sky. I wore clothes that were thin enough to cope with the heat and dark enough to blend with the tarmac I lay on, which stank by the way, and had a few broken cardboard boxes draped over me and the muzzle of my Barrett MRAD and its suppressor. The .308 Sinclair rounds were my preferred option for this American rifle over this distance. They’d go through the glass without deviation and hit the target like a hot needle being pushed into warm butter.

A light flicked on in the glass and steel stairwell. Elation rushed through me but the world in my scope didn’t shift and neither did the long muzzle. The arrogant prick lived inside a glass bubble and I had a way to shatter it. The target didn’t trust elevators, so he and his bodyguards walked up the stairs.

I could see him on the phone, no one concentrating on the target’s surroundings; they certainly would not be able to see me. I eased my finger to the trigger, my breathing didn’t change, neither did my heartbeat. The target came to the top of the stairs and paused.

I squeezed the trigger. A dull spat whispered out of my rifle. Between one calm breath and the next the glass shattered and I watched red blossom over the marble interior of the stairwell. A single shot and I’d done my job. The man dropped to the ground. The bodyguards, three of them, drew their weapons but I just remained still and continued to watch through the scope. There was shouting, wild gesticulation, calls made on phones and I could hear sirens screaming. I wanted to move away before the authorities turned up, not because I feared being found, it would just complicate matters. The three men all turned their backs to me, giving me the  opportunity to slide away from my vantage point and begin cleaning up my nest.

The clean-up took long enough to see the police and ambulance arrive but I’d already packed my gear, changed into clean clothes I’d brought with me and descended to the street through the stairwell. Once outside I looked like a large man carrying a gym bag and a small day sack. The black baseball cap I wore shielded my eyes from the sunlight glinting off the shop windows and the elation of the job being completed well, without additional casualties, began to wear off. The muscle cramps in my back and legs from remaining still for over thirteen hours started to force me to slow down. Once upon a time I’d have been able to do a three day stint and then run a bloody marathon across a desert carrying a fifty kilo pack. These days I looked the same on the outside – at least that’s what my vanity told the mirror – but bits of me inside just didn’t work as well any more. Water and protein bars might feed a twenty-five-year-old body but not a forty-eight-year-old one. 

Thinking about scran made my stomach grumble but I needed to shower before I considered forcing someone to serve me food in one of the thousand eateries in the area.

After walking eight blocks I found the hotel I’d registered in and returned to my room without needing to use the front desk. All they would remember was a man walking out one day and returning another, these places were anonymous. In my room I dropped my bag and pack, stripped out of my clothing and headed for the shower. The cool water caressed my taut flesh and the multitudinous scars of past campaigns that littered my body. It felt ridiculous to enjoy a simple shower this much but as I rubbed my shorn hair clean my eyes slid closed and I allowed myself a smile. Someone once told me that if I made the effort a bit more often my smile could melt the hearts of terrorists and politicians alike. As a soldier I had little time for either and tended to clump both groups into my ‘kill list’ frame of reference.

I switched on the TV and the news reported the shooting. They were  already assuming the Russian was killed by either his own government or a rival, which amounted to the same thing. I sat on the bed, opened the gym bag and removed the rifle. I stripped her down while watching a film about zombies and cleaned each part with a meditative air of peace settling into my mind. Cleaning a rifle, even after a single shot, had always been a place of peace for a working mind. Even in the early days I’d taken pride in my weapons and this small act kept me focused but not able to think outside the moment and I never liked the comedown after removing a target. This smoothed the transition, put the box back in the right place and allowed me to bury my dead.

My next task would be food but my phone buzzed and took priority. I hit the speaker button. “I hope you’re not phoning to check on me?” 

“As if I would dare,” said a woman’s cultured voice on the other end. “You are the only person brave enough, Aria, and for that I will always love you.” I heard a disgruntled harrumph the other end.

“There’s nothing more in the world that makes my skin crawl than you telling me you love me,” she groused.

I managed a half smile. Aria found me work and I paid her a finder’s fee. She didn’t work with me exclusively but we had an understanding. I took the work others, meaning governments mostly, couldn’t do without causing them to lose sleep but needed doing anyway – hence the dead Russian. “Truce, Aria, why are you calling because you already know I’ve done the job?”

“I should bloody hope so, they’ve paid you enough to get it done clean. But I’ve another job for you,” she said getting to the point.

That decision was easy. “No.”

“Luke, you’ll want this one.”

I shoved the oiled rag down the barrel of the suppressor. “No. I don’t do back-to-back jobs any more. I don’t need to and I’ve just spent three days and nights, I might add, on a rooftop in a New York summer making sure I had the right location. I’m going home tomorrow,” I said. 

I had spent a great deal of time stalking New York’s streets to find the right apartment building to take that shot. It needed to be high enough, full of residents who weren’t interested in strangers or empty of people altogether, and overlooked by few domestic buildings. Office workers seeing me wouldn’t have mattered so much but people tended to pay attention to changes in their home’s immediate surroundings.

“You really will want this one,” she repeated, making her voice lighter and mischievous. 

I lay back on the bed and looked at the ceiling of the hotel room. A nice blank white space. “No, I won’t. I have a dog in the Cotswolds that needs me.”

“Rogue is fine, the nanny cam in the dog sitter’s house is reporting back to me on an hourly basis.”

Aria’s sarcasm didn’t go unnoticed. I frowned at how much Aria had infiltrated my personal life, such as it was these days. “Rogue will be missing me and why have you hacked my camera?”

“Why do you feel the need to spy on your dog sitter? Helen seems to be a very nice English woman.”

“She’s a formidable woman,” I said. Helen stood at five foot and a whisker, age almost indeterminate, with steel colouring and a soul to match. She kept my Malinois in check like few other people could manage, including me most of the time. “And I don’t spy on her, I spy on the dog.”

Aria barked a laugh. “You just keep telling yourself that.”

The ceiling in this hotel looked inviting. I could lie on the bed and stare at it for hours, which is what would happen until I took that flight back to my country cottage and the dog, where I could stare at my ceiling instead and not sleep. 

I sighed and wondered when it would stop. When the drive to work, to be in the zone and hunting might leave me in peace to enjoy the life I kept trying to re-build. “What’s the job?” I asked.

Aria made a pleased hum that made me want to turn it down on principle. “You want to go back to the UK? Your wish is my command.”

“I doubt that somehow but okay. What’s going on?” I asked. I rarely worked on UK soil, my skills weren’t needed too often. That and hunting my back garden felt too pedestrian.

“I have little information at the moment but they are paying a great deal. The person who contacted me said his name was Damien Stapleton.”

“Doesn’t ring a bell.”

I could hear fingers moving like greased lightning over a keyboard. “No, he clearly doesn’t exist. I’ve done a full background check and I can’t find him anywhere. It’s good news really because it means he doesn’t have a reason to create a full identity. He’s just using a name for a little protection. It’s why I agreed to contact you because this mission is specific to you.”

I frowned. That wasn’t normal, not many outside the industry knew who I’d become since leaving the Regiment. “They asked for me?”

“They want, and I quote, ‘Sergeant Luke Sinclair, for a pick up.’”

My frown deepened. “A pick up?”

I heard the clatter of more computer keys as she spoke to me. “Yep. They need you in London and then you have to go and retrieve someone.”


“That’s why they want to meet you in London I guess. You have the standard clause at that point to reject the job but we keep the deposit.” And Aria of course wanted her cut of that deposit, which would be a sizeable sum. London in the early summer wasn’t as bad as New York and I could be home in three hours, less if the motorway wasn’t packed. “Alright, I’ll bite. Get me a flight to Heathrow.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“Fuck off,” I muttered, hanging up the phone.

That title sent chills up my spine, who would be asking for me as Sergeant Luke Sinclair? I hadn’t been in the army for almost five years and I might have a problem leaving certain parts of the life behind – mainly the killing bad guys part – but I didn’t miss the chain of command. My mind wandered off down a rabbit hole and I fought to drag it back, but failed again. My room felt lonely and cold, much like my life for the last five years.

I pushed off the bed, contemplated shaving but decided I liked the grizzled look for New York, and went in search of the nearest gay club. I needed to drink and I needed to fuck. Aria sent through the flight details to London, I had twelve hours to burn and in New York even during the day, I could find some trouble to enjoy. 

**Only .99 cents!**
Sarah Luddington is the author of historical gay romance and contemporary
gay romance. She is a gay rights activist, holds three martial arts
black belts, a degree in Medieval History and far too many dogs. She
lives on a mountain in Spain and in her spare time writes and reads
LGBT fiction.
Come and visit her website at www.romanticadventures.net or Facebook for
more information. She always welcomes contact with her readers.
Many thanks.
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