By Veronica Scott
Thanks for having me as your guest today to talk about my new release Hostage To The Stars!
For a long time I’ve been fascinated by nonfiction accounts of people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time outside the USA, and got kidnapped for ransom, or for political reasons. The whole idea of Kidnap & Ransom (K&R) insurance being an industry unto itself, with well understood ‘rules’ between the insurance company and the gangs who do this kind of thing for a living…or between pirates in east Africa who hijack oil tankers, and hold them and the crew for ransom – it’s all fascinating to me. Movies such as “Proof of Life” and “Captain Phillips” give us a glimpse of the terror of these high stakes situations.
I think most of us like to believe the Special Forces will arrive in a timely manner, guns blazing, and gallantly rescue us. Not to mention the trope of inevitable romance happening between military hero and rescued hostage. (I devour those romances by the way.) In real life the rescues are rare, result from intricate decision-making at the highest levels, the process may take years and my general understanding from true life tales I’ve read, is that the rescued person may not even meet their rescuers, or will have only fleeting moments with them before being passed on to another unit.
(Raises hand.) So, ok, science fiction romance novelist here. All of this added up to an irresistible story concept for me but transferred to the far future and set in outer space. My heroine is the classic “wrong place at the wrong time” victim. No one even knows she’s been kidnapped and they’re sure not negotiating to save her, nor is anyone planning a rescue attempt. Once my hero disobeys orders and does rescue her, the story really begins in earnest. And looming over all the suspense, adventure and romance is the ultimate rule – Sector Special Forces operators and people they rescue are never allowed to see each other again. So if they do get off the planet, then what?
(Hint: romance rules! I’m a firm believer in the HEA.)
He rescued her from space pirates … but can he keep them both safe from the far greater evil stalking a deserted planet?
Space travel without Kidnap & Ransom insurance? Not a good idea. University instructor and researcher Sara Bridges can’t afford it, so when pirates board her cruise liner, she’s taken captive along with the mistress of a wealthy man, and brought to a deserted planet. When a military extraction team sent to rescue the mistress refuses to take Sara too, she’s left to the mercies of a retired Special Forces soldier, along as consultant.
Reluctantly reactivated and coerced into signing up for the rescue operation to the planet Farduccir where he once was deployed, Sgt. Johnny Danver just wants to get the job done. But when the team leader leaves one captured woman behind, he breaks away to rescue her himself.
As Johnny and Sara traverse the barren landscape, heading for an abandoned base where they hope to call Sectors Command for help, they find villages destroyed by battle and stripped of all inhabitants. A lone survivor tells a horrific tale of the Sectors’ alien enemy, the Mawreg, returning after being pushed out …
Searching for evidence to give the military, Johnny is captured. He regains consciousness in a Mawreg cage–with Sara next to him. Death is preferable to what the aliens will do to them… And even if they do escape their captors, can they alert the military in time to prevent another invasion of the Sectors?
Here’s a short excerpt:
The interior of the dimly lit building was mostly taken up with a large holding cell, currently caging only one occupant. Staring at him wide eyed, a gaunt woman in ragged clothing was rising from the floor, bracing herself on the wall. Chains at her ankles clinked as she moved.
Johnny held one finger to his lips and moved to the door of the cell, blasting it open with a single low intensity pulse from his blaster.
Hands to her mouth, eyes wide, she gave him a jerky nod.
“I’m here to get you out, Ms. Bridges, Sectors Special Forces. “
He thought she might collapse but instead she straightened her spine with an effort. A small moan escaped her lips but as he came closer she watched him without making another sound.
He put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “I’ll have to get these shackles off.”
She slid down the wall and sat. The chains were cheap metal, easy for him to burn the hinges with a flicker from the blaster, enough to break without burning her.
Moistening her cracked lips with her tongue, she stared at him, tears in her eyes, but said nothing until he removed the chains with care, angry all over again when he saw the raw marks the shackles left on her ankles. He set the chains aside. Taking him by surprise, she hugged him, shivering violently.
He held her close, hoping to offer a bit of comfort. Lips again near her ear, he whispered, “We’re going out the back, into the hills. Can you walk?”
Swallowing hard, closing her eyes, Sara whispered, “Yes.”
He had to unhook her fingers from his shirt, which he did carefully, helping her to her feet and leading her from the squalid cell. “The pirates are all inside the other building, getting drunk or high,” he said as he paused at the door, Sara crowding close.
He slid the portal open an inch and reconnoitered. “Damn.”
“What’s wrong?” Her voice was a husky whisper.
“Two guys, over by the trucks. Hopefully they’ll go inside before too long.”
Sara crossed her arms over her chest and rubbed her slender biceps as if she was cold, although the heat was growing intense in the jail as the sun rose higher. “Promise you’ll kill me if we get caught.” Her tone was intense.
“It ain’t going to come to that. We’re getting out of here today.”
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Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “City On the Edge of Forever.”
Cara’s note: This book sounds AMAZING. I just bought it!