Hi Sharon and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, One Dark Wish!
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
Fun Fact #1: The truth about the Fianna
One of the villains in the Deadly Force series, and ONE DARK WISH in particular, is a fictional secret army of assassins known as the Fianna. The Fianna are led by a man known as the Prince. The men in the Fianna come from every army in the world. For personal reasons, each man leaves his men and his family and tithes to the Fianna. They then undergo extreme training for missions not sanctioned by any government. The Fianna army has more money than most nations and works completely on their own. They are known for their assassinations although they perform many other missions that protect the innocent and bring justice where there was none previously. Governments and their armies, as well as the ex-Green Berets heroes in the Deadly Force series, stay out of their way.
But the idea of a secret army, that undergoes pagan-like training (including running naked in the woods during winter and speaking only in memorized Shakespearean verse) is not made up. My fictional army is based on the life and history of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, the hero of the Fenian cycle of Celtic Poetry. Fionn and his men lived in Ireland prior to the Roman Invasions of Britain. As Rome expanded their empire, Fionn gathered men, trained them hard, and attacked the Romans before they could get a foothold in Ireland. Irish storytellers (and some historians) believe that Fionn’s army is the reason why Rome never settled Ireland.
These Irish fairytales about Fionn and his men are loaded with fairies and magic and druid priests, but there is written historical evidence about a fierce tribe of young men who traveled from town to town, protecting villagers from all invaders—from Roman to Viking. The key thing about these men is that they were required to give up everything that tied them to this world—all their worldly goods and the people whom they loved and who loved them back.
Fun Fact #2: Pirate Ciphers
ONE DARK WISH is a romantic suspense story, with a National Treasure-type plot. The heroine, Sarah Munro, is a historian who specializes in 17th century pirates. Her hero, ex-Green Beret Nate Walker, has just been released from the U.S. Army’s secret prison hospital in Maine.
When Sarah and Nate meet in a remote colonial-era cemetery outside of Savannah, GA, and they’re threatened by a Fianna assassin, Sarah and Nate realize their very different lives are somehow connected.
Unfortunately for them, that connection is a 17th century unsolved pirate cipher.
17th and 18th century pirates were known—paradoxically—for both their brutality and their fairness. While movies and books treat these men as mindless beasts, the opposite is true. Many pirates were educated and smart, often having been officers themselves once. In order to hunt down well-armed ships, and out-maneuver senior naval officers, they also had to be clever in their tactics and communications. One way pirates secretly communicated with each other was with ciphers.
From the 15th through the 18th centuries, pirate ciphers used two-part substitution encryption. The first part is a code, like a poem or a page from a book. This part is known as plaintext. The second part is a key that pulls out the message from the plaintext. It wasn’t sophisticated, but if you didn’t have both parts the message would never be revealed.
A popular type of plaintext would be a common poem even an illiterate man could remember, like one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Then the key would pick specific letters in each sentence. When you string those letters together, you have your message. It was crude but effective. So effective in fact that, during the Revolutionary War, George Washington adopted this technique to communicate with his officers in the field.
Fun Fact #3: Herbal remedies do work!
I used to work as a chemical and patent librarian for a major pharmaceutical research lab. During our weekly meetings, we often talked about whether or not herbal remedies worked in a more complex, modern world. We had one lab that only studied chemical properties in common herbal cures like peppermint tea, dandelion flowers, elderberry syrup, etc. While the cost of researching herbal cures was too expensive (considering the potential future profit), they discovered that herbal remedies used during the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in the colonies, had some positive effect on mild illnesses. It wasn’t enough of an effect to be worth the cost of developing a new drug, but we all started making homemade elderberry syrup to ward off the flu and drank ginger lemon tea to help with headaches.
In ONE DARK WISH, Sarah inherited a recipe box on her 16th birthday. The box, from her grandmother, was filled with 17th century herbal remedies and is one of the things that made Sarah want to be a 17th century historian. When the story starts, Sarah has spent years reformulating these recipes and has come up with an herbal tea to help her father with his migraines. Then she meets Nate who is suffering from serious headaches from his time being tortured in an Afghan POW camp. When she encourages him to drink her headache tea, he reluctantly agrees. It works but it has a disgusting taste and he hates it. As they fall in love, solve ciphers, and outsmart villains, she has to find alternate ways to get him to drink it. Then she starts to blackmail him into drinking it—in those special, sexy ways known to romance novel heroines.
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Giveaway: Print copy of One Dark Wish (Deadly Force Book 2) by Sharon Wray
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Excerpt from One Dark Wish:
Nate reread the official U.S. Army documents on Sarah’s phone, focusing on the signatures at the end of each document. Every step of the way his boss Kells had signed away Nate’s honor, reputation, and life.
But why? Kells had been Nate’s CO since he’d become a Green Beret. Kells was the strongest commander in all of Special Forces. Everyone knew it, and every man wanted to serve under him. Kells was tougher than most but also fairer than all.
“Nate?” Sarah knelt in front of him and squeezed his knee. “If we want to save you, we have to solve this cipher.”
“You mean save you, right?” He rose and stepped over her research strewn across the floor. “If you solve this silly 17th century cipher, you save your career.”
“This isn’t about me. This is about your fear that you can’t save everyone you love.”
He held up her phone. “Everyone I love is only out for themselves or in danger, and I’m not strong enough to save them.”
“That’s not true.” She took the phone and tossed it onto the couch. “I’ve spent my life studying the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with their massive societal upheavals and wars. And there are two things I’ve learned. First, the people we admire in history are never defined by their deeds but by their enemies. The stronger the enemy, the stronger the person must be to succeed.”
“Second, men of war begin their careers with a moral certitude, a belief that what they’re fighting for is true and just. Yet almost all end their careers steeped in cynicism that destroys their souls. Look at the pirate captains and privateers who’d once been proud officers in the British Navy.”
His sigh carried the sorrow of the damned. “What does this have to do with me?”
“You became a soldier to protect those you love and, for some reason, the target of an enemy whose stealth, intelligence, and cunning were beyond anything you could’ve anticipated. Whose machinations landed you in a POW camp, all horrors and tortures included.”
He didn’t want to talk about this anymore. “It broke me, Sarah. When it was all over, I could barely walk. I had little memory of the years in the camp, and I didn’t speak the entire time I was in that prison hospital.”
“You’re wrong, Nate. You didn’t come out broken. You came out more determined than ever to protect and save those you love.” She cupped his face with both of her hands. He wanted to moan when her cooler fingers caressed his hot, scratchy skin. Instead, he closed his eyes. “You came out a man of honor. A man worth saving. But to prove it, we need time.”
He opened his eyes and took her wrists to lower her hands. “We need my men.”
She waved a dismissive hand. “We can’t trust them.”
“Not true.” She knew nothing about his men.
“What’s true is that you and your men are being crushed between the Prince and Remiel, two powerful men with their own private armies. Your boss Kells is playing both sides, and we’re on our own. We’ve less than a day and a half to figure out a centuries-old cipher and use it as leverage to save you.”
Nate chewed the inside of his cheek. What if she was right? He nodded to the colorful notes, journals, and pens on the floor. “Do you have a plan?”
“The beginnings of a plan.” She wrapped her arms around her waist, and he wanted nothing more than to take her to bed. To bury all of his pain and stress and worry inside her. To make this all go away.
He sighed. “I’m not going to like it, am I?”
“Nope.” She picked up her papers and stacked them on the couch.
He looked up at the ceiling. “Heaven have mercy.”
“We don’t need mercy.” She spoke with such matter-of-factness that he almost believed her. “We need luck. We’re going to go to the auction and steal that diary.”
He threw himself in the armchair. “The 17th century diary that’s surrounded by guards and alarms?” He snorted. “With U.S. senators in attendance? That’s a great plan.”
“Sarcasm noted.” She picked up her colored pens and added them to her bag. “The diary is my best clue to solving the cipher.”
“I thought it was unreadable?”
“It was unreadable because I didn’t want to touch it without restoring it.” She threw a small journal into her bag. “Now I’m going to tear those diary pages apart and hope we can find clues to help us.”
This idea was insane, and they were on a course destined for epic failure. By attempting to solve the cipher, they were putting themselves in the middle of a war between the Prince, Remiel, and possibly Kells. All three supported by heavily-armed men.
No way was this going to end well.
“Sarah—” A noise at the front door stopped him mid-thought. It was still dark outside and at least an hour before sunup.
Sarah whispered, “What’s that?”
Someone jiggled the handle. “Wait here.” He went into the bedroom to get the gun, and when he came out he found Sarah near the front door holding an envelope.
“Someone shoved this beneath the door.”
He went to the door’s security window and didn’t see anything. He moved to the window seat overlooking the courtyard. Sarah came up behind him. Her scent made it difficult to focus, but he kept his attention on the area below. A figure passed the fountain and headed for the alley. He was only in view for a moment, but it was enough for Nate to recognize him. One of Remiel’s minions.
He turned to her, keeping his face hard and his voice low. “Next time I tell you to stay put, you stay.”
She held the envelope to her chest. He recognized the hurt in her eyes, but he didn’t have the luxury of caring.
“If we’re going to do this—”
“Go to the auction?” Her eyes widened. “Steal the diary? Solve the cipher?”
“Yes. If we do this, we do it my way. My rules. That means if I tell you to get down or run, you do it. No questions. Agreed?”
She waited a moment before pushing her hair over her shoulders, before licking her lips, before her scowl turned into a smile that made him wonder who was in charge. “One condition.”
He frowned and took the envelope from her. He wasn’t used to negotiating orders. And he sure as hell didn’t like it. “What?”
She kissed him on the cheek. “You drink another cup of tea.”
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Her life must be forfeit for his to be redeemed
Historian Sarah Munro is not used to being shot at, but that’s just what happens while she’s poking around cemeteries on Georgia’s Isle of Grace, searching for the key to a centuries-old cipher. Her quest has unwittingly drawn the attention of two deadly enemies intent on destroying each other—and anyone who gets in their way.
Ex–Green Beret Major Nate Walker is on a mission of his own: to restore the honor of his men. To do that, he is required to stop Sarah—or one of his own men will die. Caught in the middle of a deadly rivalry, Nate can’t afford to trust the woman standing in his way. But his heart says he can’t afford not to…
Meet the Author:
Sharon Wray is a librarian/archivist who studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes stories of adventure, suspense, and love. She’s a three-time Daphne du Maurier® winner and an eight-time RWA Golden Heart® Finalist. Visit her online at sharonwray.com. Sharon lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, teenage twins, and Donut the Family Dog.
Author Website: sharonwray.com