[This week, The Galaxy Express is profiling a number of Australian sci-fi romance authors. I'm pleased to welcome aboard Ros Baxter, Amanda Bridgeman, S.E. Gilchrist, Donna Maree Hanson, Anna Hackett, Shona Husk, Nicole Murphy, and Yolanda Sfetsos.
Each informational post will focus on one of the authors and will feature a cover and blurb. Social media links will be at your fingertips so you can learn more about these lovely ladies and their work. Enjoy!]
HellSquad Series – Anna Hackett
Hell Squad Titles
Blurb for MARCUS (Hell Squad #1):
In the aftermath of a deadly alien invasion, a band of survivors fights on…
In a world gone to hell, Elle Milton—once the darling of the Sydney social scene—has carved a role for herself as the communications officer for the toughest commando team fighting for humanity’s survival—Hell Squad. It’s her chance to make a difference and make up for horrible past mistakes…despite the fact that its battle-hardened commander never wanted her on his team.
When Hell Squad is tasked with destroying a strategic alien facility, Elle knows they need her skills in the field. But first she must go head to head with Marcus Steele and convince him she won’t be a liability.
Marcus Steele is a warrior through and through. He fights to protect the innocent and give the human race a chance to survive. And that includes the beautiful, gutsy Elle who twists him up inside with a single look. The last thing he wants is to take her into a warzone, but soon they are thrown together battling both the alien invaders and their overwhelming attraction. And Marcus will learn just how much he’ll sacrifice to keep her safe.
First book in the new Hell Squad series, MARCUS, is available for FREE!
Excerpt from Marcus:
Her team was under attack.
Elle Milton pressed her fingers to her small earpiece. “Squad Six, you have seven more raptors inbound from the east.” Her other hand gripped the edge of her comp screen, showing the enhanced drone feed.
She watched, her belly tight, as seven glowing red dots converged on the blue ones huddled together in the burned-out ruin of an office building in downtown Sydney. Each blue dot was a squad member and one of them was their leader.
“Marcus? Do you copy?” Elle fought to keep her voice calm. No way she’d let them hear her alarm.
“Roger that, Elle.” Marcus’ gravelly voice filled her ear. Along with the roar of laser fire. “We see them.”
She sagged back in her chair. This was the worst part. Just sitting there knowing that Marcus and the others were fighting for their lives. In the six months she’d been comms officer for the squad, she’d worked hard to learn the ropes. But there were days she wished she was out there, aiming a gun and taking out as many alien raptors as she could.
You’re not a soldier, Ellianna. No, she was a useless party-girl-turned-survivor. She watched as a red dot disappeared off the screen, then another, and another. She finally drew a breath. Marcus and his team were the experienced soldiers. She’d just be a big fat liability in the field.
But she was a damn good comms officer.
Just then, a new cluster of red dots appeared near the team. She tapped the screen, took a measurement. “Marcus! More raptors are en route. They’re about one kilometer away. North.” God, would these invading aliens ever leave them alone?
“Shit,” Marcus bit out. Then he went silent.
She didn’t know if he was thinking or fighting. She pictured his rugged, scarred face creased in thought as he formulated a plan.
Then his deep, rasping voice was back. “Elle, we need an escape route and an evac now. Shaw’s been hit in the leg, Cruz is carrying him. We can’t engage more raptors.”
She tapped the screen rapidly, pulling up drone images and archived maps. Escape route, escape route. Her mind clicked through the options. She knew Shaw was taller and heavier than Cruz, but the armor they wore had slim-line exoskeletons built into them allowing the soldiers to lift heavier loads and run faster and longer than normal. She tapped the screen again. Come on. She needed somewhere safe for a Hawk quadcopter to set down and pick them up.
“Elle? We need it now!”
Just then her comp beeped. She looked at the image and saw a hazy patch of red appear in the broken shell of a nearby building. The heat sensor had detected something else down there. Something big.
Right next to the team.
She touched her ear. “Rex! Marcus, a rex has just woken up in the building beside you.”
“Fuck! Get us out of here. Now.”
Oh, God. Elle swallowed back bile. Images of rexes, with their huge, dinosaur-like bodies and mouths full of teeth, flashed in her head.
More laser fire ripped through her earpiece and she heard the wild roar of the awakening beast.
Block it out. She focused on the screen. Marcus needed her. The team needed her.
“Run past the rex.” One hand curled into a tight fist, her nails cutting into her skin. “Go through its hiding place.”
“Through its nest?” Marcus’ voice was incredulous. “You know how territorial they are.”
“It’s the best way out. On the other side you’ll find a railway tunnel. Head south along it about eight hundred meters, and you’ll find an emergency exit ladder that you can take to the surface. I’ll have a Hawk pick you up there.”
A harsh expulsion of breath. “Okay, Elle. You’ve gotten us out of too many tight spots for me to doubt you now.”
His words had heat creeping into her cheeks. His praise…it left her giddy. In her life BAI—before alien invasion—no one had valued her opinions. Her father, her mother, even her almost-fiancé, they’d all thought her nothing more than a pretty ornament. Hell, she had been a silly, pretty party girl.
And because she’d been inept, her parents were dead. Elle swallowed. A year had passed since that horrible night during the first wave of the alien attack, when their giant ships had appeared in the skies. Her parents had died that night, along with most of the world.
“Hell Squad, ready to go to hell?” Marcus called out.
“Hell, yeah!” the team responded. “The devil needs an ass-kicking!”
“Woo-hoo!” Another voice blasted through her headset, pulling her from the past. “Ellie, baby, this dirty alien’s nest stinks like Cruz’s socks. You should be here.”
A smile tugged at Elle’s lips. Shaw Baird always knew how to ease the tension of a life-or-death situation.
“Oh, yeah, Hell Squad gets the best missions,” Shaw added.
Elle watched the screen, her smile slipping. Everyone called Squad Six the Hell Squad. She was never quite sure if it was because they were hellions, or because they got sent into hell to do the toughest, dirtiest missions.
There was no doubt they were a bunch of rebels. Marcus had a rep for not following orders. Just the previous week, he’d led the squad in to destroy a raptor outpost but had detoured to rescue survivors huddled in an abandoned hospital that was under attack. At the debrief, the general’s yelling had echoed through the entire base. Marcus, as always, had been silent.
“Shut up, Shaw, you moron.” The deep female voice carried an edge.
Elle had decided there were two words that best described the only female soldier on Hell Squad—loner and tough. Claudia Frost was everything Elle wasn’t. Elle cleared her throat. “Just get yourselves back to base.”
As she listened to the team fight their way through the rex nest, she tapped in the command for one of the Hawk quadcopters to pick them up.
The line crackled. “Okay, Elle, we’re through. Heading to the evac point.”
Marcus’ deep voice flowed over her and the tense muscles in her shoulders relaxed a fraction. They’d be back soon. They were okay. He was okay.
She pressed a finger to the blue dot leading the team. “The bird’s en route, Marcus.”
“Thanks. See you soon.”
She watched on the screen as the large, black shadow of the Hawk hovered above the ground and the team boarded. The rex was headed in their direction, but they were already in the air.
Elle stood and ran her hands down her trousers. She shot a wry smile at the camouflage fabric. It felt like a dream to think that she’d ever owned a very expensive, designer wardrobe. And heels—God, how long had it been since she’d worn heels? These days, fatigues were all that hung in her closet. Well-worn ones, at that.
As she headed through the tunnels of the underground base toward the landing pads, she forced herself not to run. She’d see him—them—soon enough. She rounded a corner and almost collided with someone.
“General. Sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
“No problem, Elle.” General Adam Holmes had a military-straight bearing he’d developed in the United Coalition Army and a head of dark hair with a brush of distinguished gray at his temples. He was classically handsome, and his eyes were a piercing blue. He was the top man in this last little outpost of humanity. “Squad Six on their way back?”
“Yes, sir.” They fell into step.
“And they secured the map?”
God, Elle had almost forgotten about the map. “Ah, yes. They got images of it just before they came under attack by raptors.”
“Well, let’s go welcome them home. That map might just be the key to the fate of mankind.”
They stepped into the landing areas. Staff in various military uniforms and civilian clothes raced around. After the raptors had attacked, bringing all manner of vicious creatures with them to take over the Earth, what was left of mankind had banded together.
Whoever had survived now lived here in an underground base in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, or in the other, similar outposts scattered across the planet. All arms of the United Coalition’s military had been decimated. In the early days, many of the surviving soldiers had fought amongst themselves, trying to work out who outranked whom. But it didn’t take long before General Holmes had unified everyone against the aliens. Most squads were a mix of ranks and experience, but the teams eventually worked themselves out. Most didn’t even bother with titles and rank anymore.
Sirens blared, followed by the clang of metal. Huge doors overhead retracted into the roof.
A Hawk filled the opening, with its sleek gray body and four spinning rotors. It was near-silent, running on a small thermonuclear engine. It turned slowly as it descended to the landing pad.
Her team was home.
She threaded her hands together, her heart beating a little faster.
Marcus was home.
About the author
I’m passionate about action romance. I love stories that combine the thrill of falling in love with the excitement of action, danger and adventure. I’m a sucker for that moment when the team is walking in slow motion, shoulder-to-shoulder heading off into battle. I write about people overcoming unbeatable odds and achieving seemingly impossible goals. I like to believe it’s possible for all of us to do the same.
My books are mixture of action, adventure and sexy romance and they’re recommended for anyone who enjoys fast-paced stories where the boy wins the girl at the end (or sometimes the girl wins the boy!)
To get a free book from my award-winning sci-fi romance series, The Phoenix Adventures, check out my website: www.annahackettbooks.com