May 18, 2012

In The Shadow of War by Lee Ann Sontheimer-Murphy

Introducing a new World War II historical romance:
In The Shadow of War, available May 17, 2012
by Lee Ann Sontheimer-Murphy
from Rebel Ink Press

Small town school teacher Bette Sullivan's life is interrupted when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 but her world changes forever when she meets Private Benny Levy, a soldier from Brooklyn stationed at the local Army base. Their attraction is immediate and mutual but as their relationship grows, their love and lives are shadowed by World War II. As the future looms uncertain, the couple comes together with almost desperate need and a powerful love they hope can weather anything, including the war.
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His straight dark hair covered more of his head than most so he wasn't a brand new recruit. She could spot those by their near bald scalps.

This soldier sported a neat snub nose and a strong chin. When he turned as if he sensed her gaze, Bette noted his slender gold-rimmed eyeglasses. Behind the specs, his beautiful grey eyes were framed with black lashes. His slender lips curved in a half-smile and a blush heated her cheeks as she glanced away. If she read his expression right, he liked her admiration. When she fumbled the next response, Aunt Virgie glared at her so she tried to pay more attention, but after Mass she tried to get outside to see if the soldier lingered. She saw him as soon as they exited the church, but he stood in the center of a group of other Army men, smoking.

Bette watched him while her aunt chattered. The more she saw, the more she liked. He stood with a Lucky clinging to his lip, his stance more cocky than military. He laughed at something one of the other soldiers said and started to move away from the group headed in her general direction. Bette took two steps forward, jerked one of the dime store hoop earrings from her ear, and dropped it.

"Whoops," she said, raising her voice as she touched her fingers to her ear lobe. "I just lost an earring."

The earbob dropped into a thick clump of clover but before she could attempt to retrieve it, a shadow fell across the green patch and the soldier she'd admired scooped up the earring with one hand. He stretched out his hand, his square fingers wrapped around the little gold hoop.

"Is this yours?" he asked, his voice coming out with an accent she'd never heard outside the pictures. To Bette's ears, it sounded like he'd said. Is dis yers?, with the last word stretched out into multiple syllables.

"It is, thanks," she said and held out her hand. He dropped the hoop into her palm as his fingers tickled over her skin. The slight touch made her shiver. "I guess you're stationed at Camp Crowder?"

"Yeah," he said in a voice similar to Jimmy Cagney's. "I've been here a coupla weeks now. It's a long way from home."

"Where are you from?" she asked, unable to stop staring at his gorgeous eyes.

"Brooklyn," he said without hesitation. "Flatbush, Brooklyn. I'm Private Levy, Benjamin Levy although my ma calls me Benny."

Bette couldn't stop smiling at him. "Well, Benny Levy, I'm Bette Sullivan and I'm a farm girl from just outside Neosho."

"I'm pleased to meet you," Ben Levy said. "Hey you wanta go have coffee with me downtown or something? I'll buy you breakfast if you like. I'm starving."

She admired his dark looks, enhanced by the starched summer khakis he wore and nodded. "I'd love to. Let me go tell my aunt so she won't expect me home."

Bette turned around to find Aunt Virgie watching, mouth drooped open and eyes broad with surprise. Her cadre of lady friends wore the same stunned expression.

"Aunt Virgie," Bette said, in her best polite tone. "I'm going downtown with Private Levy, but I'll be home for dinner, okay?"

"Child, you don't even know him!" Her aunt's shocked outrage wasn't faked. "You weren't raised like this."

"We're at war," Bette replied, voice mild. "I'm going to breakfast, not a bar room."

"Good morning, ladies," Ben Levy said, appearing at Bette's side. "I'm Private Benjamin Levy from Brooklyn, New York. My home parish is Our Lady of Refuge. I've been an altar boy and until I joined the Army, I worked as an auto mechanic. If you need a reference, Father Connolly can give you one if you write him a letter or you can call my ma. We ain't got a phone but the neighbor downstairs will fetch her if you want the number."

Although his voice remained even and polite, nice as anyone at any social gathering, his cheek amused Bette. With just a few words, he charmed and disarmed her aunt.

"Well, I don't think I need to," Aunt Virgie said with a sigh. "Honey, go ahead and have breakfast. Private Levy, would you like to join us for Sunday dinner?"

He grinned wide and Bette's heart heated up a few more degrees. Lord but his good looks and sweet words warmed her.

"I'd like to, thanks."

Ben Levy crooked his arm and Bette took it, savoring the feel of his crisp shirt against her bare skin. In tandem, they walked away from the church and although she knew tongues wagged behind them, she didn't care.

"So how do we get downtown?" he asked. "Or is there even one in a town this size?"

Laughter bubbled up from her throat. He put her in a better mood than she'd known in weeks. "It may not be much by Brooklyn standards, but we've got a town square. It's downhill and the easier way isn't straight down Wood Street, but over a block. C'mon and I'll show you."

Excerpt reprinted with permission of the author. Visit her site at

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