Thank you for joining me and author Anna Richland for What to Read Wednesday :) Anna is visiting to share her latest release His Road Home. I enjoyed the blurb and her guest post and think you will too.
Also, she’s offering up a unique giveaway that is sure to grab your heart. You can enter at the end of the post.
Take it away Anna…
Thanks for hosting His Road Home on your blog! I’m so excited to be sharing my new release with readers.
Can you tell us something about Rey that isn’t in the book blurb?
One thing people don’t expect is that Rey is a big-time reader. Grace can’t keep up with how fast he reads what she picks for their personal book club. Even though he dropped out of high school, Rey pursued his education through the military and is working on his college degree. He loves to read nonfiction, but he’s also a massive fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books and he’s written the author emails discussing the real incidents behind a few of the stories Lee Child tells.
Big confession: I really like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books too, and I was thrilled to meet him at RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans in 2014.
And one question about Grace. If she’s Korean-American, why do her parents have a Chinese restaurant?
Where I live in Washington State, it’s common for restaurants to mix Korean, Chinese and Japanese cuisine – the best of all the traditions! – often regardless of the ethnicity of the owner. For instance, the Chinese restaurant closest to my house serves wonderful Korean barbecue beef, Chinese vegetable dishes and Japanese-style stir-fried yakisoba noodles. They do both Japanese miso soup and Chinese hot and sour soup. It’s the direct inspiration for the restaurant Grace’s parents own – and I think it’s a great symbol for the way America can, in the best of times, combine all of us from different backgrounds even while celebrating our differences. Isn’t Korean barbecue paired with Japanese noodles as American in its mix as pineapple pizza or Cincinnati-style chili spaghetti?
Here’s a brief excerpt from a scene at her family’s restaurant, near the end of the story:
One week wasn’t long enough to revise all of her misconceptions about her parents, especially a week filled with catch-up at work and obsessively checking weather conditions in the pass for her drive Friday, so the news that her mother and father were throwing a town-wide celebration for Rey at the restaurant was a shock. How much they relished the chance to host everyone in Pateros and Brewster who wanted to shake Rey’s hand was an earthquake.
Standing in the dining room, she studied the familiar restaurant. The red and gold wallpaper had seen better days, but it highlighted the fresh Christmas tree centered in the window and the garlands tied across the booths. An American flag, a Washington state flag and an army flag—where had they unearthed that?—clustered in front of the register. No one would pay for today’s buffet of Chinese food sitting next to tamales and empanadas from Rey’s family.
Her phone chimed with the signal that meant him.
On the way. Have a surprise for you.
What? she texted in reply.
Have to wait until we’re alone.
“Grace, Grace,” her mother called. “You hung the award, didn’t you?”
“Yes, already.” The mayor had proclaimed today an official celebration in honor of Reynaldo Cruz.
The distinctive red hanbok her mother wore for celebrations had a full-length A-shaped skirt in the Korean style and was at risk of catching in the swinging doors as she carried food to the steam table.
“Mom, let me take that.” Grace held out her arms for the tray of fried noodles.
“No, no. You are also guest of honor.”
Then she understood. In her parents’ minds this was also an engagement celebration. By her silence, she’d permitted the status quo to continue since the news had originally announced the engagement. Whatever people thought in Pateros hadn’t affected her in Seattle, and now that Rey was home and had satisfied her father’s career interrogation, they must assume wedding plans would move forward. If her offer of living together had made him need independence, her parents’ expectations might make him freeze. Or disappear.
I’d like to explain one more thing before I leave a question for your readers. Instead of the usual types of gift cards, with this blog tour I’m giving away a $50 donation to the Fisher House Foundation in honor of a veteran of the winner’s choice. The Fisher House Foundation is a charity that provides free lodging for families of injured veterans in fully-equipped homes near military hospitals. I support them with part of the proceeds of all my books, and characters in my debut First to Burn and Rey’s mother in His Road Home stay in different Fisher Houses. So please enter my contest – and when you’re reading His Road Home, remember that Fisher House is a real charity, and really amazing.
Here’s my last question for your readers. What’s your favorite dish to order at a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai restaurant? The one that always makes you happy. My kids adore stir-fried green beans and garlic noodles, so those are always on our order. What’s yours?
Special Forces medic Rey Cruz needs to find a fiancée, fast, to avoid insulting a matchmaking Afghan warlord. Finding a picture online of a girl he barely knew back home, he fakes an engagement photo, thinking no one else will see it. But when Rey is injured while rescuing a local boy, the image no one was supposed to see goes viral.
Seattle marine biologist Grace Kim is shocked to find out she’s engaged. When she’s offered a plane ticket to visit her “fiancé,” she takes it, looking for the answer to one question: Why did he lie? A traumatic brain injury means Rey can’t tell her, until they figure out how to communicate. Touched by Rey’s funny texts and determination, Grace offers friendship—a big step for someone who prefers whales to most company.
And when Rey is finally sent home, Grace agrees to help him drive his classic car cross-country over Thanksgiving—a once-in-a-lifetime road trip that leads to what feels like real love. In front of his friends and family, she plays the caring fiancée, but what place will Grace have in Rey’s new life once he’s ready to be on his own again?
EXCERPT : Grace Arrives at the Hospital (478 words)
(Book Liaison, MM Jaye Writes, Sarah’s StoryLines)
The rose-tinted stone buildings and immaculate landscaping of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, reminded Grace of a university campus more than a military hospital. On the parking shuttle route, signs pointed to the Warrior Center and celebrated Warrior Pride, and she half expected men in blue paint and kilts to swarm the bus.
The massed display of flags inside the main lobby pressed home the weight of her false pretenses. The closer she drew to reception, the harder the fictions she hadn’t created but had been too obedient or timid to unravel squeezed her stomach. Five feet from the front desk, her charade bit more uncomfortably than the airplane seatbelt she’d worn all night.
“May I help you, ma’am?”
No one else was behind her. She was the ma’am.
The man on the other side of the desk smiled at her. “Are you here to see someone?”
Although she’d read his name in dozens of news articles, she hadn’t said it aloud. Her first attempt was a whisper. “Reynaldo Cruz.”
The keyboard clicked as he asked, “Are you Sergeant Cruz’s next of kin?”
“No.” Her stomach somersaulted as another lie rose to the surface to join so many others.
“Whoa, ma’am.” He reached across the desk as if to catch her. “Sergeant Cruz arrived yesterday from Landstuhl, but we have to ask because sometimes people pretend to know soldiers who’ve been in the news.”
That was her, a pretender. She clutched her jacket over her chest, chilled even inside the building, and hoped the airplane bagel didn’t revisit the scene.
“Name and photo identification, please.”
“Grace Kim.” Her driver’s license shook until she dropped it on the counter.
More clicking and peering before he said, “I don’t have you listed.”
If she couldn’t find out why Reynaldo Cruz had turned her life upside down, she’d never put it back together. Her chest expanded with bottled frustration.
“Hold on, I’ll call the ward to get permission.”
While the receptionist muttered into the phone, she willed the hot ball in her throat to dissolve. If she had to leave, this farce would end without an explanation to share with her family, her boss, her co-workers. The reporters calling her parents would change their tone, and people in Pateros would stop eating at the restaurant.
“Duty nurse confirmed you’re Sergeant Cruz’s fiancée.”
Relief snapped through her, even as the label made her squirm.
“Petty Officer Boichek will escort you. Visiting hours until twenty-hundred.” He clarified, “That’s eight tonight. I’ll add you as a permitted visitor. Here’s your temporary badge.”
Her escort was a woman, younger than her. “Morning, ma’am. This way to the elevators.”
As they left the lobby, Grace’s clogs clomped on the gleaming bare floor. At least her escort wouldn’t hear her thudding heart.
“No matter what, when you see your warrior, smile.”
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/his-road-home-by-anna-richland.html
Anna lives with her quietly funny Canadian husband and two less quiet children in a century-old house in Seattle. Like the heroine of her debut paranormal romantic suspense novel, First to Burn, Anna joined the army to pay tuition, a decision that led to a career on four continents.
She donates a portion of her book proceeds to two charities: the Fisher House Foundation, which provides free accommodations near military hospitals 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 sign up for Anna’s newsletter and find out about her next release, The Second Lie (The Immortal Vikings, Book Two), visit her website at www.annarichland.com
*Anna is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for $50.00 Donation to THE FISHER HOUSE FOUNDATION in Name of Veteran of Choice.*