Hump Day Hunk with Charlotte Nash
So, you’ve perhaps admired the toned abs (delts, quads, triceps, etc) of Arnie in jungle fatigues, sweating out baby oil in the Columbian jungle. Or perhaps it’s Keanu a la police in Speed. Or Tom Cruise in Top Gun / A Few Good Men (I’d have gone for Val Kilmer myself). Or maybe you like a bit more grit: Jeremy Renner, perhaps? Bradley Cooper? Precision haircuts, command and control, all that repressed energy and passion … whatever it is, there’s something enduringly yummy about men in uniform.
And of course, there’s Australian men in uniform. I’ll freely admit I love a set of auscams, and Captain Aiden Bell, the leading man of my new novel Crystal Creek (out 24 March 2015), fills his out quite nicely (not to mention those dress uniform pants), as illustrated in this extract:
He stood in a puddle of porch light, shirtless, his hair spiky wet from the shower, a pair of dark blue boxers low on his hips. A tattoo covered the left half of his chest and shoulder, curling form the furrow in his chest muscle across his pec and into jagged edges on his upper arm. Below, his stomach dived flat into the midnight-blue waistband. Christina’s mouth fell open. God, he was perfect. She could see the origin and insertion of every muscle fibre. Hastily, she averted her eyes, looking over his shoulder.
Tailoring aside, Aiden’s true virtues are those any woman could wish for – loyal and generous with a touch of the joker. A man measured by the quality of his friends, with the moral courage to stand up for others and the confidence to handle himself in a fight. He’s the older man for our heroine, Christina, who’s just landed in her worst-case scenario – having to return to Townsville, the home she escaped, to complete her medical training.
Christina’s not enjoyed much kindness or generosity in her life. What she does have is an iron will to win, one that Aiden first admires, then falls in love with. But whether she lets him in is the real question.
I love Aiden because he can’t help himself when it comes to Christina, even though the timing couldn’t be worse for getting involved with her. I love that he’s one of the good men, loyal to his friends and family and earning their respect in return, even as he’s blazed a career far from his father’s expectations. For Christina, whose family is broken, the potential for stability is delicious possibility, and one that must be hard-won.
Because, of course, a man like Aiden has a history, one that will intrude into their relationship at the worst possible moment. How it will be worked out depends on both of them, but all Aiden’s qualities and history come into play. For a man used to being in command, and selfless to a fault, I wanted him to learn to save himself.
This is the third instalment in the Walker-Bell stories, novels connected through the families first met in Ryders Ridge. While they can be read as stand-alones, readers who have enjoyed the farmer-hunkiness of Mark Walker (Ryders Ridge) or engineer-hunkiness of his brother Will Walker (Iron Junction), both make an appearance in Crystal Creek at Mark and Daniella’s wedding.
Christina Price has worked hard for her dreams. Growing up poor and fostered in Townsville, she planned a great escape: become a doctor, and make a different life. Ten years later, and she is in third-year med in Brisbane, chasing that dream with all her determination and drive, and dealing with the past that’s stubbornly followed her. But when a placement falls through at the last minute, she finds herself doing the unthinkable: heading back to Townsville, to complete her rotation on the army base.
But memories of those hard years are not the only problem. Christina’s dwindling finances, study, and fellow students stretch her resources. And then there’s mysterious and absent Aunt Harriet, whose life finds ways to intrude into Christina’s. And even when she finds unlikely new friends amidst the army personnel, she can’t wait to get the placement over with. But all that could be about to change.
An army captain posted to Townsville, Aiden Bell has never wanted to be anything but a soldier, a fact that’s put a distance between him and his medically oriented family. But in Christina he finds a profound connection. But Aiden is hiding something from Christina, something that could destroy her trust in him forever. From the pure waters of Crystal Creek to the peak of Castle Hill, from a touching outback wedding to the smoke-filled skies, Crystal Creek is a journey of courage, love, and trust, of healing the past and finding a new future.