Welcome to our second week of celebrations for the amazing
In today's post, we'll look at the Valor books, as well as five little-known facts about Keira. We also have another chance to win one of her books.
First up, Valor On The Move
He’d give his life to protect the president’s son. But he never expected to risk his heart.
Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.
It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.
Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.
But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?
Rafa laced his sneakers and then picked up his knapsack before taking the back staircase down. As he reached the main floor, his heart skipped. Shane stood in the hallway glancing at his watch. He frowned.
“Everything all right? I was just going to come up.”
“Yeah. I actually wanted to do something different tonight. Go for a walk.”
Shane’s frown deepened. “Okay. On the grounds?”
“By the river, actually. The Potomac,” he added. He winced internally. No shit.
“By the Memorials?”
“No. Farther upstream. It’s not too far, though. Shouldn’t be anyone there this time of night. Or morning, I guess.”
Shane was still frowning. “Why do you want to go to the river in the middle of the night?”
“The moon’s almost full, and there’s this cool little waterfall. It’s peaceful. I don’t know. I just want to go.” Rafa suddenly felt foolish with the picnic he’d carefully packed in his knapsack. He’d been planning for it all day as if he and Shane were going out on a date, and it was ridiculous. Irritation flashed through him. “I’m allowed to go where I want. I’m not a prisoner.”
Shane’s frown morphed into the placating half smile that the Secret Service must drill into its agents during training. “Of course you can go. Let me give them the heads up downstairs and put in a call to the Joint Ops Center at headquarters. They monitor all the protectees’ locations. We might want to enlist one of the uniforms to come with us.”
Rafa’s heart sank. “I don’t think we’ll need to. Seriously, there’ll be no one around. And no one’s even interested in me.”
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
Grumbling to himself, Rafa waited. If someone else came, it would… What? Ruin your date that’s not a date? Rafa should just abort. This was a terrible idea. They could go back up to the kitchen and eat the food there. It wasn’t even that fancy. He should have made something better than roast beef sandwiches, even if he’d made the garlic horseradish mayo himself and even borrowed a bread maker from Magda for the sour dough buns. They were still just sandwiches. Why had he ever—
As Shane reappeared, Rafa attempted a smile.
“Okay. I’ll drive you in the Suburban. Since it’s a pop-up at this hour, we should be fine without another agent. Just this once.”
Rafa knew that was what they called it when a protectee went on an unplanned excursion. “Great.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets so he wouldn’t fidget. “Cool. Thanks.”
The ride to the river was quiet and didn’t take long. Rafa directed Shane, who kept his eyes on the road and the mirrors, and his hands at ten and two on the steering wheel. Since he was the only agent, he didn’t wear the radio earpiece, but when they arrived at the falls, he called in immediately and had a terse conversation that lasted no more than ten seconds.
Then there was silence as they sat in the front seat of the Suburban. Rafa had been right—there didn’t seem to be a soul around for miles, and the little waterfall gleamed in the moonlight, the river flowing over the rock formations. Maybe they could go for a hike, but he supposed it would be too dark in the woods.
Shane cleared his throat. “So here it is. Do you want to get out?”
“Oh. Yeah.” Rafa’s palms were slick, and he tried to breathe steadily as he climbed out of the vehicle. This had been a dumb idea. What had he thought would happen? He’d take Shane to the river under the moon and…what? And nothing.
Part of Rafa wanted to just tell Shane to take him back, but that would make him look even more foolish, so he grabbed his pack and left it on a rock before picking his way to the water’s edge.
Rafa bit back a sigh of irritation. “I know. I’m not going to fall in or anything.” When he glanced behind, Shane was standing with his hands clasped in front of him, his head turning as he steadily surveyed their surroundings. Rafa sighed again. “There’s no one here. I’m sure it’s fine.”
Shane pressed his lips together into a thin line. “I still have to do my job.”
“No one wants to kidnap me. Trust me.”
Shane’s nostrils flared. “Why do you do that?” He turned to survey the trees beyond the Suburban.
After a long moment, Shane answered, “Put yourself down.”
“I don’t.” Rafa bent and picked up a stone to toss into the river, which rushed by with a low hum.
His back still turned, Shane made a noise that might have been a snort.
Rafa wanted to ask Shane what was so great about him, but it was far too needy to say those words out loud. He tossed another rock. “Of the first kids, I’m just not the one people pay attention to. My sister’s always been a little wild. Christian is the hot one and Matthew’s the athletic one.” He shrugged. “I’m the other one.”
Shane was quiet for a few moments as he continued surveying the trees. “Maybe that’s the way you’ve wanted it. To stay hidden. But that doesn’t mean you’re not just as important.”
Rafa couldn’t help but smile and feel…well, good. He went to the pack and pulled out the thermos of cold water. He gulped some down and offered it to Shane, who eyed the bottle. Rafa flushed. “Oh, sorry. I forgot cups. Shit.”
“It’s fine.” Shane’s fingers brushed Rafa’s as he took the thermos. “Thanks.”
Rafa watched Shane’s throat work as he swallowed, and heat shot through him. Ducking his head, he busied himself with the food. “I made sandwiches and stuff. Nothing fancy. You probably don’t even want one.”
“You brought food?” Shane smiled. “Of course I want some.”
“You do? Cool. Um, here.” He thrust up one of the foil-wrapped sandwiches.
After he took it, Shane glanced around again. “Thanks.”
Rafa sat on a flat rock by the water’s edge. “Why don’t you sit?”
Shane shook his head before taking a bite. He moaned softly, and Rafa dug his nails into his palm. “Damn. This is amazing. Did you make the bread?”
He couldn’t help but beam a bit. “Yeah, earlier this evening. It was still a little warm when I wrapped up the sandwiches.”
“Mayo too?” Shane glanced left and right.
“Yep. I didn’t make the beef, though. Or the provolone.”
Shane smiled, his cheeks creasing. “Would be a challenge to make a cow.” He peered into the trees again.
“It’s seriously fine. There’s no one out there.”
Shane peered down at him. “Those are what we call famous last words, Rafa.”
Hearing Shane say his name gave him a highly inappropriate thrill. “Good point.” He got to his feet so Shane wasn’t looming over him.
Shane took another bite of his sandwich. When he swallowed, he asked, “So why are we here in the middle of the night?”
Because I wanted to go somewhere it was just the two of us for miles. Rafa shrugged. “I like this spot. I thought it would be pretty with the moon. Guess I’m getting a little stir crazy at home. Probably because it’s not really a home. Even with the third floor to myself, staff still come up there. You’re never really alone in the White House.”
Shane watched him with an intense gaze. “You’re not alone here either.”
“I know, but it’s different with you.”
“Different how?” Shane still watched him.
Rafa grabbed the thermos off the ground and took a drink. “I dunno. You’re cool or whatever.” He put down the thermos and the rest of his sandwich before stepping up on a rock right by the water’s edge. “It’s peaceful here. I love water.”
“Don’t get too close.”
Rafa rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to fall in.”
“Let’s not make those famous last words either.”
“I know you wouldn’t let me fall.” As the quiet words left his mouth, Rafa’s smile faded, and the air suddenly felt electric. The river hummed, and Shane watched him, his half-eaten sandwich still in his hand.
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Book 2, Test Of Valor
They’re free of the White House, but can their forbidden romance survive in the real world?
With his father no longer president, twenty-two-year-old Rafa Castillo can finally be with ex-Secret Service agent Shane Kendrick. Shane’s given up his career for Rafa, a move his fellow agents question the sanity and morality of. Eager to get away from the questions and judgement, Rafa and Shane are building a new life together in Australia. Though Shane struggles with nightmares and his over-protective instincts while Rafa fights his own insecurity, they love each other more than ever.
Now they just have to get through a visit from the former president and first lady.
Rafa’s parents certainly don’t approve of his romance with forty-year-old Shane, and they’re determined to make him see reason. They don’t see how their son could possibly be happy settling down with an older man, and they question Shane’s motives. Shane and Rafa just want a normal life together—but when they must suddenly battle for survival, they fight to prove their fierce love can withstand any threat.
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Five little-known facts about Keira Andrews
- As a kid I loved stealing sips of my dad’s beer.
- I like most drinks very, very cold. I will put beer and soda water in the freezer so they start to get icy before I drink them.
- I first wanted to go to Australia thanks to the TV movie The Facts of Life Down Under in 1987.
- I used to get my older sister to take out books from the school library that were restricted for younger grades.
- I use a standing desk and absolutely love it.
More about Keira:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”
Thanks for celebrating this fabulous author with us. Come back next week for more of Keira's books, a personal story she's chosen to share, and another chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!