I have a penchant for men in uniform, the more brass the better – provided, of course, the body in the uniform matches my expectations. I know admirals are usually older guys – in our society, anyway – and I haven’t changed that. But in my science fiction romances, guys in their forties will still have the bodies of twenty-year-olds.
And this is the gentleman on the cover of ‘Morgan’s Choice’, Admiral Ashkar Ravindra.
They’re both hunks, but they’re very, very different men. Saahren is a farmer’s son who was beaten up and left to die during an uprising on his home planet. He was lucky; a visiting doctor patched up the broken bones and his shattered face, then gave him a home until he joined the Star Fleet Academy, where he rose through the ranks on sheer ability. He never had much time for women and even though his fame has spread, he still avoids emotional entanglements. He has his reasons.
Ravindra, on the other hand, was born to his position. He’s a member of the ruling military class, in fact a subset of that group from which the admirals are often chosen – provided they have the ability. His father was an admiral, as was his grandfather. His parents arranged his marriage to a suitable woman but even while his wife was alive, when he was away from home he could take his pick of willing partners. The thing about Ravindra is that he doesn’t quite fit the traditional admiral mould. He bends rules when it suits him, sees things from a different perspective. That’s why he has been assigned to a command on the outskirts of Manesa society.
They both meet women. But whereas for Saahren it’s love at first sight and a long learning experience as he fumbles his way through falling in love, for Ravindra the relationship grows in very different directions.
Here’s an early encounter between Saahren and Allysha Marten.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you.” He glanced over his shoulder at his fallen opponent. “Let me see you to your quarters.”
The alarm faded from her face as she sized him up. “I’m Allysha Marten.”
“I know. I’m Brad Stone.” He’d very nearly said Chaka Saahren. He’d better keep that fact to himself until he could find out what her objection was.
She smiled and his heart fluttered. “Thank you, Brad Stone.”
“Where do you live?”
“The mine. In the old ptorix mine manager’s quarters.”
He walked beside her, not too close, not too fast, through the tunnel of jungle that led to the mine. “You’re comfortable with the ptorix?”
“Yes. Very. Where I come from—Carnessa—we live together peaceably. Well… mostly. I grew up with Tors.”
Tors. That must be her word for ptorix.
“And that’s how you understand their computer systems?”
“I suppose. I can speak their language and that always helps.”
He almost stopped. “Their language? But that’s very difficult.”
She laughed, a low, musical chuckle. “Not too bad if you learn as a child.”
The mine’s metal doors gleamed in the lights around the entrance. Saahren pressed the lock and the personnel door slid open. He stood aside to let her go first, along the wide central tunnel that led to the control room.
She turned off into a side tunnel. A few more steps and she stopped in front of a stairway. “I live up there. Thanks again.”
Those wonderful eyes held him for just a moment and then she was gone. He stared after her. He should have asked her to dinner or a drink or … or… Idiot. Fool. Standing there like a tongue-tied teenager. She smiles at me and I melt. She speaks and I just listen to the lilt in her words.
He sighed. I’m in love.
Here’s an early encounter between Morgan Selwood and Ravindra.
The officer reached down, grasped her shoulder in one hand and pulled her upright so fast her feet left the ground. He let go and she swayed, regaining her balance. The light winked on the gold sunburst on his shoulder.
Well, well. Her heart beat steadied. Maybe she wasn’t for the firing squad just yet.
“Welcome back, Morgan Selwood.”
She stared at him, straight into slit black pupils in an amber field. She was supposed to look down, wasn’t she? Well, fuck him. She wasn’t beaten yet.
“You have not yet learnt manners, I see.”
“Where I come from, meeting a man’s gaze shows honest intent.”
“You are not where you come from.”
He struck her face. Her head whipped around. She staggered sideways and stumbled to her knees, her cheek stinging. She hadn’t even seen him raise his hand. He hauled her effortlessly, one handed, to her feet again. He must be enormously strong. His fingers must have left dents on her shoulder.
“So. Let us start again.” That even, baritone voice. He might as well have been at a cocktail party.
No, she wasn’t where she came from. Wishing she could rub her cheek, she bowed her head. “Admiral.”
The word stuck in her craw. She fixed her gaze on his rank insignia. Daryabod—Full Admiral. Second only to Daryaseban—Grand Admiral in the manesan fleet hierarchy. A very, very powerful man. Another bastard admiral.
So, folks… how do you like your admirals? Or generals, or whatever? I’d love to know.