How do you remove a war hero from power?
Known as the Lady Grey, her leadership won the apocalyptic war that ravaged Europe. But now in 2068 and three years into the official peace, the alliance she’s maintained with the seven ministers who rule Europe falters under the lack of an external threat. They want back the power she claimed in a bid to protect the continent; an authority they never authorized. With no war, she is no longer needed, even if she safeguards the borders from a threat that is hiding more than is dead.
But how do you plot the downfall of a popular wartime heroine – a woman who controls the armed forces? One dent at a time…
Continue the military dystopian series Friends of my Enemy with book 2, After the War. After the War can be read without reading book 1, Stories from the War, so join the near future thriller now!
Set in Europe, this series unfolds through the intersecting lives of a small handful of people. Though a fiction novel, real events such as terrorism, climate change, and manipulated politics play a role in this riveting story of romance, love, betrayal, and sacrifice made for the good of a continent.
Readers are calling After the War “a superb novel” and “Jane Austen meets World War III!”
Targeted Age Group:: 24+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book came to me during some lunchtime walks one May. The idea of a near future world torn apart by wars, climate change, and disease that throws recovering society of Europe into a period that feels Edwardian was too captivating. I handwrote the original version in a month – the fastest I have written anything. That story is what inspired me to start taking novel writing classes, take my writing seriously, and start epublishing. But it needed work and I waited until my skills could handle the complex storyline and strong characters. Which took until the fall of 2014. I changed the idea captured in one book into a three book series with an interconnected short story prequel. The entire series is called Friends of my Enemy and it is a near future thriller with a dystopian bent and a good dose of romance. It moves with the good and dark impulses that come with everyday decisions that are complicated by friendship, love, and betrayal. Only these choices expound to carry the fate of the world. It is hands down the favorite thing I’ve written to date and I’m really proud of it.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
These characters came to me. I struggled to individuate the characters in my epic fantasy series, the Rise of the Fifth Order. But when it came time to write Friends of my Enemy, not a problem. The core personality of each character was already there: Arinna with her leadership skills but torn heart that she refuses to acknowledge, Jared with his cocky attitude and dislike of authority – even though he controls the armed forces, Derrick haunted by a decision that has frozen his life, and Byran’s long held desire for someone who walked away.
What helped really give these characters flavor was writing the short story prequel to After the War entitled Stories from the War. Each character has at least one short story in their POV and each deals with the slow build of events beginning in After the War. I learned so much about why the world is such a mess when After the War begins, but also about the decisions each character makes during a tumultuous world war that echos in actions and decisions made during the rest of the books. And plus it was a lot of fun seeing the same events through the lens of a different character – not all of them react the same way! Each became a real person to me, one whose life history felt completely real as I wrote a chapter in their voice – and then had to shake off to move on to the next chapter. That was sometimes the biggest challenge!
CAPTAIN JARED VRIES
BATTLE IN THE WASTELAND
“I don’t care if you’ve lost count. You owe me for that one.”
Jared looked over at his commander, taking in the blood-soaked bandage that wrapped Arinna’s left palm to her elbow. His eyes flicked back to the crack through which he could see the rubble-strewn alley.
“By the looks of it, I’ll be paying you with a blood transfusion.”
Arinna snorted, her gaze flicking to Jared and then back out to her vantage point.
“And whose fault is that? I can’t believe you managed to get yourself pinned down.”
“Hah, I can’t believe you were wandering around the countryside without your communicator. Where were you anyway, my lady?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Arinna looked over at him again, her expression serious. Jared shifted so that he could see out and her at the same time. He waited, knowing that she would tell him without the need to ask. He glanced at the clock on his communicator and then down the quiet street and frowned.
“Parliament is thinking of arresting me.”
Jared’s gaze swung back to his commander.
“What? I haven’t heard anything from our contacts.”
“I know.” Arinna looked out the window again. “Minister Gerschtein seems to have left out some papers on the Guards’ funding.”
“On purpose?” Jared asked.
“That I’m not certain of yet. But it was seen by staffers, and now they think I’m planning a coup.” Arinna’s eyes danced in amusement when she looked over at him.
“Oh, if only we were so bored,” he drawled. “How did you hear of it?”
“An old friend.”
Jared glanced at her. “I know all your friends, my lady.”
She smiled, one that was a little more tender than he was used to seeing. “From before the war. You don’t know everything, Captain.”
His brows pulled together. “Really? I’m starting to wonder exactly where you were last night, my lady.”
To his surprise, Arinna blushed lightly. Jared was stunned enough to rock back on his heels. He slowly grinned. “Well, well. I did not think that of you.”
“That is none of your concern, nor what you are thinking, I might add.” She tossed him a stern look that was marred by the laughter on her lips and a light in her eye he had not seen … he wasn’t sure. Certainly not since Michael’s death. His smile took on a bit of fondness.
“Yes, but now I’m curious. That is quite a piece of information to have gathered.”
Arinna relented. “It was from Baron Vasquez.”
The warmth went right out of Jared. “Vasquez? You weren’t in Old Spain, so you were in Rhiol … with him? Gods have mercy,” Jared couldn’t believe it. “You and Baron Vasquez?”
Arinna’s expression was a cross between amusement and anger. His commander was not often angry with him, but Jared knew when he had crossed the line. He didn’t think this was it.
“If you so need to know, I was at Kesmere, and it was Lady le Marc’s bed I was in … and she was not,” Arinna added, shooting Jared a look to be sure he kept his tongue and mind in check. “Byran was there visiting. He’d come to the Lakes to warn me. Give him that at least. We have known each other a very long time.”
Her voice was weary on the last. Jared pinched the bridge of his nose, sorting through the riot Arinna’s information started in him: relief, surprise, an odd stirring of hope.
“Kesmere,” he whispered, looking once more down the street without seeing it for a moment. A flicker of movement brought him back round. “They are nearly in place.”
Arinna nodded, wincing as she flexed her wrist. There was blood dripping from the bandage now. Under the dirt, Arinna was waxen pale.
“At least this time you brought enough bullets. I hate using a sword right-handed.”
Jared gritted his teeth and didn’t reply for a moment. “I told you not to come after me,” he finally rasped.
Arinna didn’t change her focus from the view through her vantage point. She leaned against the crumbled plaster of the wall with her right shoulder, looking for a better view. Jared’s pulse was picking up.
“I think it is a set up, nonetheless. It is too perfect. Files left accidentally out and shared between members that we have no contact with.”
It took Jared a moment to remember what they had been talking about. “They still need you. Why would they try something like this now?”
“You don’t know what it is like on the continent now. It is easy for even them to forget about this. I don’t think they remember they need me.”
It was a disquieting thought. Gunfire erupted in the streets outside the small building Arinna had managed to win them at the cost of her blood and six FLF fighters. The remaining enemy soldiers had set up snipers and a blockade knowing he and Arinna would have to leave at some point. But the Guard had come. Arinna’s whereabouts, in the field at least, were always known. No matter that Jared had felt himself pinned down and ordered no rescue. His commander would not leave her captain short of her having died attempting to achieve it. He was fiercely fond and vexed with her both.
Not that he would not, or had not, done any less. Counting the number of times they had saved each other’s lives had been a game until they had topped twenty. After that, they had gotten so busy they lost count.
Arinna tossed a feral grin at him over her shoulder. “I think we should help.” She was out the door with her words, he on her heels.
The street was a confusion of shouting and bullets, dust filling the air as an explosion shattered the building behind them. The same house they had just been in. Arinna had a sixth sense for staying alive. The men and women of the Guard would have followed her just for that.
Arinna did use her gun right handed, Jared covering her weaker side. She fought ruthlessly to ensure he made the gamut while he did the same for her. A bullet struck the cinders between them, Arinna firing back without pausing. Hugging the relative safety of an overhang, she led the way while he watched their back. They both made it to the rest of the Guard at the mouth of the alley with only a few more scratches.
Rejoined as one force, Arinna was quick to sort out a plan, injured or not. “How the hell did they make it this far into the Russian wasteland without us noticing?”
The Lady Grey was furious, and Jared didn’t blame her. They had been blindsided. But it could have ended up much worse.
The movement had been spotted two days before. They’d only just returned from a battle along the dry north shore of Africa. The Freedom Liberation Front had thought a few boats wouldn’t be noticed, even if they were filled with explosives. Of course, they had been seen, but destroying an enemy in the midst of ferrying weapons had proven tricky. The battle and mop up as the Guard chased scattered and well armed FLF troops had taken a few weeks. Arinna had just left command to return to Rhiol when the sighting of a force in old Russia came in.
Jared had sent eyes to sneak in and tell him what was afoot. It was serious, arms and men enough to cause havoc so that he chose to take a contingent and snuff out the incursion. Which was when the edges of the trap had sprung up around him.
The scouts he had sent had looked at the movement as he’d asked. They’d seen what the FLF had wanted them to see and not the men and weapons beyond. After all the time in the war, he still had not learned. When he’d radioed back that help was needed, Arinna had not answered. Other Guard had come under First Lieutenant Gabriella Faronelli. But the lack of Arinna, her lack of response, had left Jared feeling hollow all night.
When Arinna had arrived that afternoon, the fight had been at a stalemate: Jared pinned down in the thick of it while most of the Guard was on the far side of the city. Arinna had ignored the order Jared had given Gabriella and dropped in on top of him and sent the reinforcements with her to break up the line between them and the Guard. Now Arinna meant to turn the FLF line like a giant blade, spinning the split forces until they were against Guard reinforced positions. She was very angry.
“It is a wasteland on the outskirts of old Russia, and they screened their movements,” came the answer to Arinna’s question. Only Jared dared speak it.
“Poor excuse,” she snapped.
Arinna’s attention was focused on logistics. When Gabriella spoke as she stood frowning next to him, Jared did not think Arinna heard her comment, “We are splitting our forces into four to fight a battle on two fronts. It is a mistake. We’ll be lucky to get out with our lives.”
It took another moment, but Arinna’s eyes flicked up to Jared’s, holding his a moment. He knew the command when he saw it. Arinna had heard, but she was leaving it up to him to explain.
“We’ve already split their forces, and main supplies are with the southern group. The northern contingent is nearly out of bullets,” Jared said to Gabriella.
Gabriella shook her head, her ponytail of black hair emphasizing the movement. “They could spin behind our line and overwhelm us.”
Jared cut her off with a look. “The old city wall will keep them penned in on the north and the river to the south. Most of our forces will be pushing the FLF into our entrenched line.”
Jared waited until Gabriella mulled over the maneuver. He could command her to do it but knew it would go better with her voluntary support. Plus, if she understood the plan, she’d be better prepared if something changed in the course of battle.
Gabriella nodded, the tight line across her forehead gone. It was a small argument done, but he was glad of that. Gabriella was smart as well as highly calculated. Before the war swept her into the Guard, Gabriella had been in Italian intelligence. She just didn’t always see the leaps in planning Arinna made, at least not at first.
The strategy played out at dusk to overspreading clouds and a cold rain. It worked better than even he had hoped. The FLF forces cracked. Those in the northern section of the deserted city surrendered as soon as they ran out of bullets and found themselves pinned by the old city wall. The few grenades they launched at it only made it crumble further without opening any escape routes.
With the northern group disposed off, the Guard swept in on the remaining FLF from both sides like a giant pincher. Near midnight with the FLF’s backs to the spring-swollen river, the last enemy soldiers laid down their weapons.
Jared stood for a moment with his face tilted to the sky. Cold drops or not, they felt good. Twelve hours before, he thought he’d be dead by now and had seen the faces of his two boys and daughter for the last time. Arinna sat a few feet away when he opened his eyes. She watched the Guard sort out the combatants, claiming weapons before moving them for transport. The bandage wrapped around her left arm was muddy now, the darkness and wet making the blood indistinguishable from the dirt.
“Have you had that seen to?”
“Yes, before we initiated the plan in case things didn’t go well, and it fell to hand to hand. It was barely a nick in the blood vessel I’ll have you know.”
“Good, then I don’t owe you one.”
Laughter burst from her as she cast him a sidelong glance. He chuckled as well, gathering up a rifle and a waylaid pack.
“Will you come back to headquarters to sort this lot out?”
Arinna ran mud slick fingers through her short hair, pushing it out of her face.
“No, I have a date later this morning.” She chuckled at the look on his face. “I do have other duties you know. The Earl of Kesmere asked me to join him and Byran over at the Kendal conference.”
“Truly? Well, it would be a shame to stand them up. It isn’t often he is sending invitations your way.”
“Hah, normally it is wished for daggers. I don’t know what he is up to, but would sincerely like to find out.” She glanced over at her captain. “So it will be up to you to see to these and find out just what the FLF thought they were doing trying to sneak through the wasteland of old Russia. I’ll check in with MOTHER to find out why they’d like me removed.”
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