Sunday, April 14, 2013

Birthday Bash Day 14 - Kendall McKenna

Hello! My name is Kendall McKenna and I write m/m erotic romances about U.S. Marines. I’m happy to be here and happy birthday to our hostess! Be sure to stick around until the end of this post for a chance to win a free e-book.

Just a couple of days ago, my new title, Fire For Effect was released by MLR Press. It’s the second book of The Recon Diaries. It’s a story that wasn’t ever supposed to be written. Or at least, I hadn’t originally planned to write it. My first book, Brothers In Arms, was supposed to be a solo title.

Suggestions and circumstances have led to Brothers In Arms becoming the first of The Recon Diaries. Fire For Effect was actually written third, but because of the chronology of the stories, it was released second. Book number three will probably be out this summer.

You’re probably wondering what the point of all this rambling is. Well, someone said something in a very early review of Fire For Effect that surprised me pleasantly. It was said that Fire For Effect was like every other book I’ve written, in that it wasn’t like anything I had written before. Reeaaallly?

That’s so cool!

It’s no secret at all that I have deliberately attempted to take familiar ideas, concepts, themes and even tropes, and tried to put an original spin on them. Brothers In Arms was a military mystery/thriller. Instead of writing the traditional story about a Navy SEAL, a dangerous clandestine mission, and the barrier of Don’t Ask Don’t tell, I wrote a mystery story told through the eyes of an enlisted Recon Marine. I saturated the story in authentic military terms and jargon. I made Iraq another character practically. The romance was all over the story, but the erotic was pretty damn sparse. But it’s a damn good story and readers like it.

A friend asked if I could write werewolves, so I gave it a try. I don’t read shifter books (much), so I couldn’t write a story that was like all of the others. Apparently, I stood the genre on its head, but I can’t be sure. Next, I was asked to write a vampire story. I’ve read a lot of vampire stories. I took my favorite pieces of old vampire mythology and wrapped it up in a story that I hoped was very different from all the others out there. I broke some rules. I wrote a non-traditional, bittersweet (but HEA) ending. But I succeeded. It can’t be compared to any other story out there, but it made readers cry.

However, when I set out to write the second (Fire For Effect) and third books of The Recon Diaries, I didn’t try to make them different from Brothers In Arms. In fact, I intentionally set out to follow a pattern similar to the first book. And I did, to a great extent, match it. Fire For Effect is story and character driven. It has a mystery with a strong plot, combat action, and a lot of military terms and jargon. Because Brothers In Arms took place in Iraq, there were few realistic opportunities for erotic scenes. Because Fire For Effect begins in the U.S. and concludes in Germany, there are many more opportunities for the characters to have love scenes. Also, Brothers In Arms and Fire For Effect are told from two different points of view. It’s that way because one is Jonah’s story. The other is Kellan’s story. I didn’t think about it at the time, but for all that both books are about the lives of the same two characters, the stories are quite dissimilar to one another. The romance is more advanced, it’s out in the open, part of the story takes place in the States, and there are more civilian characters than Marines. It is different! I realize now that I had written a story, different from the first, without much thought, and that’s sort of reassuring.

In the end, though, Fire For Effect is the flip side of Brothers In Arms. It openly expresses what was previously held in reserve. Where there once was minimal touching, there is now ample physical affection. More anything else, a much-loved couple finally gets to have the open-door love life that everyone has yearned for them to have. And all without going overboard.

Curious about the book I’ve been discussing, Fire For Effect? Here’s some more fun reading:

by Kendall McKenna

Hired to investigate the denial of a Marine the Medal of Honor, Kellan Reynolds and Jonah Carver try to untangle a web of lies, deceit, and heroism.

Two years after the events of Brothers In Arms, Kellan Reynolds and First Sergeant Jonah Carver are struggling with their bi-coastal relationship. Following the events in Iraq, Kellan's expertise in national security is well established and he is hired to investigate the suspicious repeated denial of a KIA Marine the Medal of Honor.

Kellan brings Jonah onto his staff and into his home, but just as their relationship settles into a routine, their investigation heats up. What begins at the Pentagon, leads to Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, and an ambush that threatens to destroy everything they’ve built.

They were so wrapped up in the information spread out on the table before them, they hadn’t bothered to change clothes when they’d arrived home. They’d gotten as far as removing their suit coats. Kellan stood now, rolling up his shirtsleeves but Jonah was still perfectly unwrinkled in his olive uniform trousers and khaki tie and shirt.

At some point, it had made sense for the rest of Kellan’s staff to pursue the case of systemic discrimination in the awards process. They would compile what Kellan would need to report to the Senate. That left Jonah and Kellan to figure out why Sergeant Miguel Restrepo was being denied the Medal of Honor, and exactly by whom.

Kellan had been hungry for awhile, but each time he was about to call for a break to fix dinner, Jonah would connect another piece of the puzzle. Kellan ended up typing information into his notes, tagging document files and moving items into different folders on his hard drive.

Jonah stood at the long end of the table looking over the paperwork he had stacked and organized as he’d worked his way through the complicated mess. He balanced all of his weight on one leg, bent the knee of his second leg, and fisted his hands on his narrow hips. Jonah’s handsome brow was marred by a frown of concentration as his intelligent blue eyes darted from photos to written reports. Jonah was tall and lean, built like he was made to wear the uniforms of the Marine Corps, and Kellan found him sexy as hell.

He may not have left the Corps so that he could explore a physical relationship with Jonah, but it had certainly gone in the ‘pros’ column when he’d been weighing his options.

“You’re staring at me,” Jonah said suddenly, startling Kellan out of his reverie, but not looking away from the organized chaos of their dining room table.

“Uh huh,” Kellan replied, not at all ashamed at being called out.

“Staring at me isn’t going to help us figure out why Restrepo is being blocked from receiving the MOH.” Jonah finally looked Kellan in the eye.

“No, but it’s a damn fun thing to do.” Kellan smiled. He decided he was done with work for the night. Dinner first, then crawling into bed with Jonah were the only two things left on his agenda for the night.

Jonah snorted a laugh, one corner of his mouth lifting in the smile that always made Kellan’s stomach twist in ways it embarrassed him to describe. “If you keep looking at me like that, we won’t get back to this tonight.”

“Yeah, well, there’s always tomorrow.” Kellan grinned, openly flirting. He saved and closed all of his secure files, then he got up from his chair and moved into the warm circle of Jonah’s arms.

“You haven’t gotten tired of having me under foot twenty-four-seven, yet?” Jonah asked, running his palms over Kellan’s back. The question seemed casual, even humorous, but Kellan suspected it was a diversionary tactic.

“Not at all,” Kellan replied with conviction. “You don’t regret taking an office job, do you? Not wishing you’d promoted to Master Sergeant and stayed with a combat unit?”

“No,” Jonah replied so quickly, Kellan nearly doubted him. “I hate having to wear the service uniform—fucking ties—but I like using my brain this much. This is important work, too. This matters.”

“I’m glad you think so,” Kellan said quietly against the warm skin of Jonah’s throat, relief washing through him. He inhaled and caught the scent of the cologne Jonah had begun to wear. He hadn’t asked but Kellan assumed Jonah had never worn cologne regularly because he spent so much time getting sweaty, dirty, or just plain wet. Marines were amphibious, after all.

“Are you coming to the same conclusion I am, about all of this?” Jonah’s question confused Kellan momentarily.

It took several moments to realize Jonah was referring to the issue with Restrepo. “Probably, but what conclusion are you reaching?”

“Someone has been lying about what happened inside that house in Fallujah,” Jonah replied. “We might need to conduct our own interviews.”
Kellan had been coming to that conclusion over the last several days, yes. He was still hoping to find a way around it. “If we want to continue pursuing this; if we want the truth, regardless of what that truth is, I believe that is what we’re going to have to do.”

Jonah made a frustrated sound. “Send someone else, this time.” It sounded almost like a plea.

“I’m not sending anyone to do something I’m not willing to do myself.” Did Jonah expect anything else from him?

“Yeah, I know,” Jonah replied with resignation. “I’m going with you, you know.”

“You are my military aide.” Kellan pulled back to meet Jonah’s eyes. They were standing in the dining room of a small house in Virginia, casually discussing the fact they were going to have to head directly into a war zone.

Kellan sighed inwardly. Always a Marine.

“Don’t get kidnapped this time,” Jonah said in mock annoyance.

“Why not? It was such a fun experience the first time.”

Jonah rolled his eyes. Kellan laughed.

“I’m getting out of this monkey suit,” Jonah said, heading for the bedroom and stripping off his uniform tie.

“Oh, hey, wait for me!” Kellan chased after Jonah. “I want to help!”

Click here for buy link information

Author Bio:
Kendall McKenna’s first work of fiction was written at the worldly age of nine, and was a transformative work that expanded on the story told in a popular song of the time.

She tried her hand at vampire and cowboy fiction, winning high school poetry and short story contests along the way. It wasn’t until she discovered the world of m/m erotic fiction and found her stride with cops, Marines and muscle cars, that she felt inspired to share her stories with readers who enjoy the same things.

Putting herself through college by working in a newly-created HIV testing clinic in her local Department of Health, introduced Kendall to the gay and lesbian community. Understanding and empathy has made her a lifetime advocate of GLBT issues.

A brief bout of unemployment gave Kendall the time and focus she needed to finally produce a novel worth submitting for publication. Her first novel, Brothers In Arms, introduced the world to her authentic military stories and characters.

Kendall was born and raised in Southern California, where she still lives and works. A non-conventional relationship has kept her happy for the last decade. Her four dogs enjoy it when she writes, as she sits still long enough for them to curl up around her.


  1. Sounds like a great book!


    1. It seems like everyone likes it so far! Thank you!

  2. Ah, that's a lovely excerpt!

    Trix, vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

  3. I can't wait to read this book. It is definitely on my wish list.


  4. It's great how one book became a series, one I'd love to read. Thank you!
    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

  5. Really good excerpt. Congrats on your latest release.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

  6. Thanks for the chance to win.


  7. HI, I love MLR books. I need to check ou this one and the one before.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

    1. MLR has been good to me. I hope you enjoy the stories.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Thanks for the chance to win.


  10. Great excerpts! I will add these to my wishlist!

  11. Missed the giveaway but that's okay. Thank you for visiting =)

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  12. I am excited to know you are writing more stories about this pair.

  13. Nice excerpts, adding to TBR.