I've been writing since I was fourteen years old, but didn't get into romance or the M/M genre until about six or seven years ago. But I didn't want to write about just romance, that didn't offer enough teeth for me. Military romances, about men in relationships that were forbidden and looked down upon, that resonated more with me.
Only recently has Don't Ask, Don't Tell been repealed. But even before it became a law back during the Clinton administration, it was dangerous to be a homosexual in the military. Yet these men, whether drafted during the World Wars, Vietnam or Korea, or in today’s volunteer military served our country with pride and heroism. What could be more interesting to write about? Love under the most dangerous of circumstances and against the greatest of odds.
I've a fascination with the Vietnam War. The music, the protests, the politics and all of it centering around a war that tore this country apart. Young men, often only eighteen or nineteen at most, were sent thousands of miles away from the only home they knew to fight in a conflict they barely understood. We thrust rifles into their hands and taught them to kill.
VN2 is my futuristic look at the Vietnam War, with the underlying idea that the more things change, they more they stay the same. It might be two hundred years in the future and the battlefield a distant jungle world, but the same prejudices, bureaucracy, black market dirty dealings and general ignorance are still as prevalent there as they are here and now. For all the high tech of the future, this is a backwater world with outdated technology that puts men's lives at risk, often due to simple greed.
It's a fractured military in this future, with the officers as the ruling class. They are called Truebreds and consider themselves above the rest of the military. The majority of soldiers are Regulars. These are your basic enlisted soldiers who do all the real work, from the lowest private on up through the NCOs. These are the men who really run the show, whereas the Truebreds just think they do. And then there are the Bonded who are the Special Forces. They are made up of both Truebreds and Regulars.
The Bonded are men who, through no choice of their own, become "bonded" to a partner for life. It is empathic, forever binding the pair. Should one be killed or die unexpectedly, the partner rarely survives. There are all types of Bonds, some running much deeper than others. For most, it becomes a good friendship. But for others, it's something much deeper. For the most part, the Bonded are regarded with mistrust and derision. And a Truebred who becomes a Bonded is no longer welcome by the rest of the Truebreds.
Lieutenant Ian Davidson is a Truebred, a young junior officer. He’s on his way to a remote post in order to get away from a controlling father and the voices in his head that threaten to drive him to the edge of madness. After missing his connection, he makes the mistake of wandering where he shouldn't and ends up the center of an ugly brawl with several drunk and angry Regulars who have little use for a young officer except to make an example of him.
Sergeant Nathan Williams is a seasoned soldier who recently lost his Bond partner of eighteen years. He wants nothing more than to die, but the company medic has been preventing him the opportunity. While there with his unit on a trip for supplies on the black market, Nathan and his men get drawn into the same bar fight that has Ian trapped.
Before either man realizes what's happened, the Bond recognizes them. Now Nathan has a new Bond partner who'd rather die than becomes Nathan's mate. But everything changes when Nathan, along with the unit's commanding officer, is taken prisoner by the local insurgents. Now Ian is left to cope on his own, forced to lead a rescue mission with a team that wants nothing to do with him as he struggles with his own confused feelings for Nathan.
Something that had died with Ben six months ago woke anew in Nathan. The Bond whispered at him, insistent, nudging him with the realization that the young officer would be his new mate.
And that made Nathan pause as he realized what was happening. It had been more than eighteen years but he could still remember when the Bond had recognized him and Ben for each other.
Now it recognized two incomplete souls that were meant to be a whole, the Bond singing along Nathan's nerves. In the blink of an eye, everything changed, and he would no longer be alone.
This could not be happening—he couldn't, shouldn't be Bonding—again.
But the Bond continued to urge him to go to the Truebred who would be his new mate. For a long moment, the room disappeared around him and Nathan found himself standing on a different plane, the young officer there with him. They looked at each other, the other man in confusion as the newly forming Bond shimmered around them. Nate reached for him…
Nate! Listen to me!
Doc grabbed his arm, trying to pull him around but Nathan yanked free with a growl. Back off, medic!
The remaining Regulars who had backed the officer into a corner must have sensed the guy was near the end of his rope. With nods to each other, they started to advance on the Truebred. The lieutenant raised his head, eyes brilliant and shifted his weight forward. It was apparent to everyone he wouldn’t go down without a fight.
"Damn brat, you're gonna know respect when we get done with ya'." The one with the broken nose motioned his two buddies to close in.
The room hazed red in front of Nathan's eyes. There was no way he was going to let these bastards get hold of that officer. The Bond called him, pulling at him, reminding him that the officer belonged to him. He felt like he was on fire.
The Bond recognized him as Nathan's and that was all Nathan could understand.
The Regulars closed in, the lieutenant backing up against the wall, head still held high. In the part of his mind that was still sane, Nathan could hear Doc relaying Sean's orders to the rest of the team to help out.
Broken Nose made a grab for the Truebred even as the Flannigan twins grabbed his two buddies from behind. Nathan lunged between the Regular and the lieutenant, shouldering the bastard back. "Back the hell off, now!"
"You got no claim here, Bonded!" Broken Nose's eyes were filled with fury. He came at Nathan, fist raised.
His vision still hazed in red, Nathan grabbed the man by the arm and slammed him hard against the wall. Dazed, Broken Nose slid to the floor. The Flannigans had the other two well in hand when Nathan turned to the young officer.
Forgetting about Broken Nose, Nathan faced the Truebred. They needed to get the hell out of there. Nathan needed to get the Truebred someplace safe. He reached out, grabbing him by the arm even as the other man looked up with large, dark eyes.
It was like coming into contact with a live, electrical current.
White-hot pain knifed through Nathan’s mind, stabbing behind his eyes and driving him to his knees, gasping for breath. He was besieged by the roar of hundreds of voices, overwhelmed with alternating waves of fury and terror that tore into his thoughts. Lost in an instant in a sea of confusion, he caught a disjointed vision from eyes not his own, looking back at all of them, himself included as he lay on the floor. All of it was hazed in red, like his mind was on fire and being pulled apart at the same time.
Someone was screaming and Nathan couldn't be sure it wasn't him.