Dear Reader,

The champagne is still flowing! That's because yesterday marked the official release of my debut, Letters from Home. It's been wondrous yet surreal to see my labor-of-love novel displayed on a bookstore shelf—especially considering where the journey began.

You see, it all started with a Christmas gift. After compiling hundreds of recipes my grandmother had collected and created over several decades, I'd set out to self-publish a cookbook for the family. While interviewing Grandma Jean for the biographical section, she revealed an astounding fact: She and my late grandfather had met only twice before getting married during World War II. She then retrieved from her closet a secret collection of courtship letters sent from the young Navy man to his "sweetheart."

Long after our visit, I continued to wonder how well two people could truly know each other through letters alone. What if…in the midst of WWII, a soldier fell in love through a yearlong letter exchange, unaware that the girl he's writing to isn't the one replying?

From this question emerged the premise of Letters from Home. I hope the story touches your heart as much as my grandpa's letters have touched mine.

With warm regards,

Kristina McMorris

"Ambitious and compelling…[a] sweeping debut."  —Publishers Weekly

"A beautifully told story….a tough book to put down!" —RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

"An absolutely lovely debut novel."  —Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of Firefly Lane



Excerpt from: Letters From Home

by Kristina McMorris

         Mustering her strength, dutiful mask reapplied, Betty rose to leave. But gazes, like spears, pinned her from every direction. She glanced from one soldier’s face to another. Each had been watching her, listening to the tune of a life they barely remembered.

         Something inside her cracked. Her emotions flooded through, filling her chest, pushing out her air. The pressure weighted every limb, threatened to crush her if she didn’t escape.

         She started down the ward. Her brisk walk turned into a sprint before she reached the exit. Once outside, her lungs heaved convulsively, ready to burst. She kept on running. Darkness caved in around her. She rushed against the current of muddy pools until her legs gave out, plummeting her to her knees. The will to move washed away in the rain, along with her tears. That’s what she wanted. To float off to nowhere.

         An eternity passed before a man’s voice sounded behind her. “Up we go.” He hooked her arms with his elbows to raise her. Here was Tom, saving her again. Except this time she didn’t want to be saved.

         “I don’t belong here!” she sobbed. “I’m not supposed to be here!”

         He didn’t reply, just looped her waist and whisked her off to the closest tent. In a blink, she landed in a small storage room pillared with supplies. Dripping from the rain, she found herself being lowered onto the dry floor, her back against a wall of boxes.

         She heard him open one container, then another.

         “Here, mate.” He passed down a folded blanket. “Dry yourself off.”

         His accent gripped her. Not until then did she realize her rescuer wasn’t Tom. The man standing beside her, pajamas drenched, was Lieutenant Leslie Kelly.

         She wanted to yell, I don’t need your help! Yet humiliation stripped her anger, her pride. If he thought little of her before, what did he think of her now?

         “Why are you here?” she rasped.

         “Reckon your staff’s shorthanded enough,” he said, “without you blundering about in the rain, getting yourself sick.”

         She dismissed the worry with a laugh. “I could die of pneumonia and it wouldn’t matter. I’m not helping anyone here.”

         He sat next to her, patted his mussed hair with a blanket. “And that’s really what you think, eh? That you’re not doing a touch of good?” His patronizing tone challenged her, a cold accusation of self-pity.

         Regardless of whether he was right, the fact remained that she had no business in a medical role, one fit for those with noble intentions and capabilities far exceeding her own.

         “I’m not a nurse.” She drove her argument. “Truth is, I can’t stand needles any more than I can stand the sight of blood.”

         “That makes two of us.”

         Her temper rode her cheeks. “You think I’m joking?”

         Drying his casts, he flattened a rising smile. “Just seen you handle both without much fuss, that’s all.”

         Of course, when lives were at stake, you did what was necessary. But that wasn’t her point.

         “I’m not cut out for this,” she stated firmly. “I lied my way in, even forced a recruiter to enlist me when he didn’t want to. And now I see he was right. I should’ve listened. Jungle or not, I can’t do this anymore.”

         Leslie scrunched his chin, pondering. Then he gave a sharp nod. “Fair enough. Drop the bundle and go home. No doubt there’s a heap of Yanks that’d be bloody delighted to see you again.”

         His merciless nonchalance stoked frustration in her gut.

         “That’s it?” she said. “That’s all you’re going to say?” After caring for his dressings, delivering his food trays, replacing and straightening his sheets, all she’d earned was confirmation of her dispensability.

         He shrugged. “You want me yabbering on, pretending to fill your head with what you already know?”

         She gritted her teeth, jerked her face toward the shadows. “Just leave me alone.”

         Raindrops from her hair streaked over her ears. She wanted to dry herself, but her residual dignity forbade use of the blanket he had given her.

         He sloughed a long sigh, aggravating her more. “You had a rough night,” he said. “We’ve all had our share of those. And you know as well as I do that the war goes on. Whether you’re here or not.”

         With two fingers, he angled her face to his, a slow, soft gesture. Defiantly, her eyes slanted away as he continued. “You don’t need me telling you that the job you’re doing’s important. Blood and needles aside, for plenty of blokes round this place, your smile’s the best medicine they can get.”

         A contrast to his usual demeanor, his sentiment confused her. As did his tone, tender with sincerity. She allowed her gaze to slide toward him, the words to slip from her mouth. “Just not for blokes like you, right?”

         The look in his pale blue eyes burrowed through her, hollowed her defenses. “For me, more than anyone,” he whispered. He smoothed her lips with his thumb, gliding over the moisture of her skin. Time twisted and stretched into nonexistence as he leaned in and pressed his mouth to hers. He tasted of earth and desire and rebellion. The hunger inside her smoldered and grew. He kissed her deeper, and a white-hot wave of fire swept through her body. Yet when the flames reached her chest, a bubbling of sadness seeped free. A tremble moved down her arms; tears escaped from her closed eyes. She fumbled with his shirt buttons, adding aggression to their kiss, seeking numbness to protect her, to keep her whole.

         He covered her hands, squeezed them to a stop. And he drew his head away.

         A pang of rejection should have struck, launching anger in defense. She instead melted into the warmth of his gaze, a look telling her she would be all right. An assurance that she wasn’t alone.

         “Come ’ere, now,” he told her. He encircled her shoulders, guiding her to rest her back against his chest. Then he tucked her hair behind her ears and caressed her damp locks with his fingers. Every stroke further diminished the aches in her body, the longing to be anywhere else but here. “Just listen to the rain,” he soothed. “All will feel better come morning.”

         She closed her eyes and absorbed the sound of raindrops dancing on the tent. The rhythm relaxed her soul. A song echoing tomorrow’s promise.

Copyright 2011 by Kristina McMorris
Available now from Kensington Books


Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-A-Million Borders IndieBound Powells


For special book club features, a love letter contest, 1940s recipes and more, visit Kristina's website.







Contest!


Kristina McMorris is celebrating her debut release with a special contest, just for Newswire readers!

To enter the contest, please visit Kristina's website and find the answer to the following question:

Which classical play did Betty attend with Liz?


Email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com with your answers before midnight on March 2nd, 2011. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address and mark the subject as 'Letters From Home'. Winners will be contacted via email shortly thereafter.

Three winners will each receive a "Big Band Love Songs" CD, and one of those lucky winners will also receive a $20 gift card from B&N!

Good luck!


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