Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday's Film Adaption: First Blood by David Morrell

First came the man: a young wanderer in a fatigue coat and long hair. Then came the legend, as John Rambo sprang from the pages of FIRST BLOOD to take his place in the American cultural landscape. This remarkable novel pits a young Vietnam veteran against a small-town cop who doesn't know whom he's dealing with -- or how far Rambo will take him into a life-and-death struggle through the woods, hills, and caves of rural Kentucky.

Millions saw the Rambo movies, but those who haven't read the book that started it all are in for a surprise -- a critically acclaimed story of character, action, and compassion.

Chapter One
His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid for all anybody knew, standing by the pump of a gas station at the outskirts of Madison, Kentucky. He had a long heavy beard, and his hair was hanging down over his ears to his neck, and he had his hand out trying to thumb a ride from a car that was stopped at the pump. To see him there, leaning on one hip, a Coke bottle in his hand and a rolled-up sleeping bag near his boots on the tar pavement, you could never have guessed that on Tuesday, a day later, most of the police in Basalt County would be hunting him down. Certainly you could not have guessed that by Thursday he would be running from the Kentucky National Guard and the police of six counties and a good many private citizens who liked to shoot. But then from just seeing him there ragged and dusty by the pump of the gas station, you could never have figured the kind of kid Rambo was, or what was about to make it all begin. Rambo knew there was going to be trouble, though. Big trouble, if somebody didn't watch out. The car he was trying to thumb a ride with nearly ran him over when it left the pump. The station attendant crammed a charge slip and a book of trade stamps into his pocket and grinned at the tire marks on the hot tar close to Rambo's feet. Then the police car pulled out of traffic toward him and he recognized the start of the pattern again and stiffened. "No, by God. Not this time. This time I won't be pushed."

The cruiser was marked CHIEF OF POLICE, MADISON. It stopped next to Rambo, its radio antenna swaying, and the policeman inside leaned across the front seat, opening the passenger door. Hestared at the mud-crusted boots, the rumpled jeans ripped at the cuffs and patched on one thigh, the blue sweat shirt speckled with what looked like dry blood, the buckskin jacket. He lingered over the beard and the long hair. No, that's not what was bothering him. It was something else, and he couldn't quite put his finger on it. "Well then, hop in," he said.

But Rambo did not move.

"I said hop in," the man repeated. "Must be awful hot out there in that jacket."

But Rambo just sipped his Coke, glanced up and down the street at the cars passing, looked down at the policeman in the cruiser, and stayed where he was.

"Something wrong with your hearing?" the policeman said. "Get in here before you make me sore."

Rambo studied him just as he himself had been studied: short and chunky behind the wheel, wrinkles around his eyes and shallow pockmarks in his cheeks that gave them a grain like weathered board.

"Don't stare at me," the policeman said.

But Rambo kept on studying him: the gray uniform, top button of his shirt open, tie loose, the front of his shirt soaked dark with sweat. Rambo looked but could not see what kind his handgun was. The policeman had it holstered to the left, away from the passenger side.

"I'm telling you," the policeman said. "I don't like being stared at." "Who does?"

Rambo glanced around once more, then picked up his sleeping bag. As he got into the cruiser, he set the bag between himself and the policeman.

"Been waiting long?" the policeman asked. "An hour. Since I came."

"You could have waited a lot longer than that. People around here don't generally stop for a hitchhiker. Especially if he looks like you. It's against the law."

"Looking like me?"

"Don't be smart. I mean hitchhiking's against the law. Too many people stop for a kid on the road, and next thing they're robbed or maybe dead. Close your door."

Rambo took a slow sip of Coke before he did what he was told. He looked over at the gas station attendant who was still at the pump grinning as the policeman pulled the cruiser into traffic and headed downtown.

"No need to worry," Rambo told the policeman. "I won't try to rob you." "That's very funny. In case you missed the sign on the door, I'm the Chief of Police. Teasle. Wilfred Teasle. But then I don't guess there's much point in telling you my name."

He drove on through a main intersection where the light was turning orange. Far down both sides of the street were stores squeezed together-a drug store, a pool hall, a gun and tackle shop, dozens more. Over the top of them, far back on the horizon, mountains rose up, tall and green, touched here and there with red and yellow where the leaves had begun to die.

Rambo watched a cloud shadow slip across the mountains. "Where you headed?" he heard Teasle ask.

"Does it matter?"

"No. Come to think of it, I don't guess there's much point in knowing that either. Just the same-where you headed?"

"Maybe Louisville."

"And maybe not."

"That's right."

"Where did you sleep? In the woods?" "That's right."

"It's safe enough now, I suppose. The nights are getting colder, and the snakes like to hole up instead of going out to hunt. Still, one of these times you might find yourself with a bed partner who's just crazy about your body heat."

They passed a carwash, an A&P, a hamburger drive-in with a big Dr. Pepper sign in the window. "Just look at that eyesore drive-in," Teasle said. "They put that thing here on the main street, and ever since, all we've had is kids parked, beeping their horns, throwing crap on the sidewalk."

Rambo sipped his Coke.

"Somebody from town give you a ride in?" Teasle asked. "I walked. I've been walking since after dawn."

"Sure am sorry to hear that. Least this ride will help some, won't it?" Rambo did not answer. He knew what was coming. They drove over a bridge and a stream into the town square, an old stone courthouse at the right end, more shops squeezed together down both sides.

"Yeah, the police station is right up there by the courthouse," Teasle said. But he drove right on through the square and down the street until there were only houses, first neat and prosperous, then gray cracked wooden shacks with children playing in the dirt in front. He went up a rise in the road between two cliffs to a level where there were no houses at all, only fields of stunted corn turning brown in the sun. And just after a sign that read YOU ARE NOW LEAVING MADISON. DRIVE SAFELY, he pulled off the pavement onto the gravel shoulder.

"Take care," he said.

"And keep out of trouble," Rambo answered. "Isn't that how it goes?" "That's good. You've been this route before. Now I don't need to waste time explaining how guys who look like you have this habit of being a disturbance." He lifted the sleeping bag from where Rambo had put it between them, set it on Rambo's lap, and leaned across Rambo to open the passenger door. "Take good care now."

Rambo got slowly out of the car. "I'll be seeing you," he said and flipped the door shut.

"No," Teasle answered through the open passenger window. "I guess you won't." He drove the cruiser up the road, made a U-turn, and headed back toward town, sounding his car horn as he passed.

Rambo watched the cruiser disappear down the road between the two cliffs. He sipped the last of his Coke, tossed the bottle in a ditch, and with his sleeping bag slung by its rope around his shoulder, he started back to town.

A soft-spoken Vietnam vet drifts into a small town looking for no trouble, but finds it in the form of a psychotic local sheriff who finds pleasure in hating him for no reason. After being locked up in the local jail, he escapes into the nearby forest where he becomes a one-man army bent on revenge.

Release Date: October 22, 1982
Release Time: 93 minutes

Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo
Richard Crenna as Colonel Sam Trautman
Brian Dennehy as Sheriff Will Teasle
Bill McKinney as Dave Kern
Jack Starrett as Art Galt
Michael Talbott as Balford
Chris Mulkey as Ward
John McLiam as Orval
Alf Humphreys as Lester
David Caruso as Mitch
David L. Crowley as Shingleton
Don MacKay as Preston



Author Bio:
David Morrell is the author of FIRST BLOOD, the award-winning novel in which Rambo was created. He holds a Ph. D. in American literature from Penn State and was a professor in the English department at the University of Iowa. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic spy trilogy that begins with THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE, the basis for the only television mini-series to premier after a Super Bowl. The other books in the trilogy are THE FRATERNITY OF THE STONE and THE LEAGUE OF NIGHT AND FOG. An Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee, Morrell is the recipient of three Bram Stoker awards and the prestigious Thriller Master award from the International Thriller Writers organization. His writing book, THE SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST, discusses what he has learned in his four decades as an author. His latest novel is the highly praised Victorian mystery/thriller, MURDER AS A FINE ART.



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Jack & Coke by Lani Lynn Vale

Title: Jack & Coke
Author: Lani Lynn Vale
Series: Uncertain Saint’s MC #2
Genre: Motorcycle Romance
Release Date: May 6, 2016
Mig’s wife is a bitch.

How else do you describe a woman that lies, cheats and steals to get what she wants?

That’s exactly what happens when she traps him into a marriage he wants nothing to do with, saddling him with a kid that he knows doesn’t deserve to be in a world like his.

He’s doing a pretty bang-up job at ignoring everything but his responsibilities as a DEA officer and a member of The Uncertain Saints MC.

Then his neighbor knocks on his door, and everything he thought he knew is blown out the window.

Annie teaches Mig that not every woman is out to get him.

Her love for Mig stretches past what’s appropriate for two friends, and Annie soon straddles that invisible boundary between appropriate and inappropriate.

Annie’s not a cheater, though.

When she tries to say goodbye, Mig won’t let her leave, and soon the tiny town of Uncertain blows up with the news of Annie and Mig’s innocent friendship.

Matters of the heart are foreign to Mig, and it takes Annie being gutted for him to see the wrong he’s done.

He waits too long, though, and Annie’s heart is broken.

She wants it all, or she wants nothing.  She can’t take anymore half-hearted attempts at being just friends.

The heart wants what it wants, and it doesn’t take long for Mig to realize that.

But just when Mig finally has it all in the palm of his hand, his life is ripped to shreds by a new player in the game, and it takes all of Annie’s love and devotion, as well as help from the men of The Uncertain Saint’s MC, to put Mig back together again.

“Go get the door for the policemen I can see outside,” I called.  “And tell them you have a DEA Agent in your house so they don’t try to shoot me when they enter.”

“I already did,” I heard Annie say as she got closer.

I saw her only a few seconds before she disappeared around the edge of the hallway into the entry way beyond it.

Then the door was unchained, unlocked, and swung open.

Three cops were the next to enter, and I nodded at the one I knew.

“Hey there, Officer Kirkpatrick,” I called to my good friend.

We had drinks every week, sometimes multiple times a week.

I had to do some creative thinking to get away from my wife, and Officer Kirkpatrick, a.k.a. Bullseye, was one of them.

Well, I didn’t do him…but I hung out with him.


And Bullseye had a hell of a wife that didn’t care if I was over there as much as I was.

“What’s shakin’?” Bullseye asked.

“These two men here decided to break into Annie’s house.  I’m just here making sure that they don’t get off with anything valuable,” I answered.

The other officer, Antonio Juarez, I didn’t know very well.

He was new, and hung out with the young’uns instead of us old folks.

Well, I was thirty-four, which wasn’t ‘old’ per se, but it sure as fuck wasn’t young, either.

“What’s that in his hand?”  Juarez asked.

I looked down at Howard Ryan’s hand, and narrowed my eyes.

“That’s Annie’s purse,” I answered.

Annie’s ‘purse’ was more of a beach bag, and I didn’t know how the hell she found anything in it.

But I wouldn’t know what to do with her if she didn’t have it with her.

She’d been able to supply me with an ice pack, and a water on two different occasions, so I wasn’t one to complain when it was beneficial to me.

“Well, boys, let’s go for a ride downtown,” Bullseye said, walking behind Howard Ryan and handcuffing him.

Ryan shot me an evil look as he left, promising retribution, and I smiled at him.

Bring it, little boy.  You can’t handle this, my look said.

Forty-five minutes later, the cops were leaving with both men in the back of two separate cars, and I was left standing on Annie’s front porch with her next to me.

“Thank you,” she said, looking up at me with all sorts of promises in her eyes.

I touched my fingertips to her cheek and smiled down at her.

God, she was beautiful.

Long, wavy brown hair that went down to her mid back.  Beautiful, full lips.

A smokin’ ass.

Light brown skin that was nearly the color of mine.

She wasn’t Italian like me, though.

She was Puerto Rican, and she wouldn’t let anyone call her otherwise.

I’d give anything to be with her but my life, and name, belonged to my wife.

God, if there was any way I could rewind a year, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

I would’ve never invited my now wife, Jennifer, to the club party.

Jennifer was the exact opposite of Annie.

Rude, opinionated, and selfish.

Now she was six months pregnant with my child, and I hated every fucking second of my life.

“You’re welcome,” I said roughly.  “I’m gonna have a few men over here in the next few days to install an alarm and make sure nobody can ever do that to you again.”

“Mig, what the ever loving fuck are you doing over there?” My wife screeched.

I winced and slowly dropped my hand, looking over at Jennifer like one would a pile of fish heads and vomit.

Then I turned around when I saw she was dressed in little to nothing.

How not surprising.

What Others Are Saying:
“Jack and Coke is a must read for fans of romantic suspense with a whole lot of competent humor mixed in, and a romance that's so real and raw that you can't help but relate to the characters and their struggles.” ~Literary Treasure Chest

“WOW! A totally engrossing, beautiful, hot love story! I have read every book by Ms. Vale and with each book she gets better and better, she has a gift for drawing you in and holding you captive.” ~Guilty Pleasures

Author Bio:
I’m a married mother of three. My kids are all under 5, so I can assure you that they are a handful. I’ve been with my paramedic husband now for ten years, and we’ve produced three offspring that are nothing like us. I live in the greatest state in the world, Texas.

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Jack and Coke #2

Whiskey Neat #1

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Honor Bound: A Highland Adventure by Laura Strickland

Title: Honor Bound: A Highland Adventure
Author: Laura Strickland
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Release Date: May 4, 2016
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Following the disastrous defeat of the clans at Culloden, Scottish Chief’s son Diarmad Ramsay makes his dying father a promise. Diarmad will play the part of Bonny Prince Charlie in an effort to help the true Prince escape the Highlands. With only the fiery Mara MacIvor for guide and with danger on his heels, he must risk all for a Cause in which he no longer believes.

Mara MacIvor considers Ramsay a poor substitute for her beloved Prince. Ramsay may be one of the bonniest men she’s ever met and a braw sight with a sword in his hand, but his disillusionment makes a wide gulf between them. Pursued through the Highlands by Sassenachs and ruthless Highland renegades bent on claiming the price on Prince Charlie’s head, their physical attraction soon becomes a conflagration. But will they ever be bound by more than Diarmad’s vow of honor?

His body stiffened as she eased in beside him, but that did not dissuade her. The rain no longer touched her here and, aye, it did feel warmer.

Ramsay drew a breath even as the heat of his body wrapped around her. She could now catch the scent particular to him—spicy, fresh and rampantly male, with the tang of highland air caught in his hair and clothing. Would he push her away?

He sounded amused when he spoke, his voice vibrating deep in her ear. “I suppose this must satisfy some wish you have of lying with your Prince.”

It satisfied a wish, right enough, but had nothing to do with Charles Edward. Mara retorted, “My only intention is to lie out of the wet and grow warm. Will you complain about us sharing against the chill?”

“And about having my arms full of bonny lass? Nay.”

He thought her bonny. Or did he just tease as he had before? Mara ached to know, and desire rose to her head like a draught of her Da’s whiskey.

She slewed round in her allotted space until she faced him, her mouth just below his. “I am no’ thinking of the Prince,” she confessed, “but still how I might thank you properly for your braw gallantry.”

“Oh, aye?” Did he sound as breathless as she? “And what to your mind would make a proper thank-you?”

Without further words, she pressed her mouth to his.

Author Bio:
Born and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog. Author of Scottish romance Devil Black as well as The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, she is pleased to say that His Wicked Highland Ways is her eighth title for The Wild Rose Press.



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