Kickin’ Up Dust (Operation Cowboy Book 1) by Em Petrova

Date of Publication: July 19, 2016


This Marine follows the rules. This cowgirl is all about breaking them.

Operation Cowboy, Book 1

After losing his best friend and CO, Matt, in combat, Brodie Bell didn’t think his spirits could sink any lower. He was wrong. One look at his and Matt’s storm-flattened hometown nearly levels him.

Los Vista needs a leader, and as Brodie takes the weight of the world on his shoulders, he comes up with a plan. Merge the two ranches left standing, pray for a good calving season…and keep his hands too busy to get busy with Matt’s sexy little sister.

Danica was in pigtails when Brodie and Matt went off chasing glory. Now she’s a woman with a broken heart, but if Matt knew of the depraved cravings Brodie ignites in her body, he’d haunt her from the grave.

As they work to mend miles of broken fences, Brodie fights to ignore Danica’s tiny cutoff shorts and mile-long legs—and to ignore the “weapon” that’s locked and loaded in his Levis. Because the last thing he wants is to dishonor his friend’s memory by ravishing the sweetest little cowgirl he’s ever laid eyes on.

Warning: Involves a sweet and sassy ranch girl who knows her way around a rope, and a Marine turned cowboy who’d like to tie her down and spank her until she begs for more.

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About Em Petrova

Em Petrova lives in Backwoods, Pennsylvania, where she raises 4 kids and a Labradoodle named Daisy Hasselhoff. Her dream is to find an old pickup and travel small-town USA, meeting new people. Her heroes are hardworking–in bed and out–and she is known for panty-scorching erotic romance.

She also writes lesbian romance as Hallie Knight.

Find Em Petrova Online


KICKIN’ UP DUST by Em Petrova is an exciting new Military Western (Marines) series, “Operation Cowboy”.

Set in Los Vista, Texas, several Marines return home together from Afghanistan.  Only to find their hometown a total mess, ravished by a horrible tornado, that left little standing, except two ranches.  While, some returned home, one did not, Brodie Bell’s best friend  and CO, Matt Pope. Devastated, tormented by inner convicts, grief, survival guilt, PTSD, heartbroken, and  a sense of shame, these Marines find life has changed forever for them.

After being gone for five years, Brodie and his follow Marines return to find Los Vista, needs a leader, who better than Brodie. Danica Pope, Matt’s little sister, is no longer a little girl, but a sassy, sweet, sexy ranch girl.

Brodie comes up with a plan to merge the only two ranchs left standing, his and Danica’s parents ranchs.

Fast paced, romance filled, ranch girl and a Marine turned cowboy. Well written with well-developed, devastatingly sexy Marines, and one hot ranch girl. The characters are engaging and intriguing. I can’t wait to read more on the secondary characters and their lives.  The storyline is unique, while, not a fun loving, up-roaring romp of a story, it is a heart-warming, HOT, sexy read, with an underlying story of one Marine’s survival and inner turmoil, after returning home.

Powerful, compelling and emotional. It is also engaging, and entertaining. Read how Brodie and  Danica find their love blossoming, but can they keep their hands off each other and not dishonor Matt?  And can Matt lose the guilt over Matt’s death?

Fans of Military Western romance, Marines, fast reads, raunchy sex, will find “Kickin’ Up Dust” a fulfilling and satisfying read. I loved how Ms. Petrova brought so much to this story, she brings PTSD into the light, the devastation of the returning Marines, and the horrors they faced, to the forefront of  a yet romantic tale. A must read! I can’t wait to read more from this engaging “Operation Cowboy” series. Received for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5

Heat rating: Hot/Steamy

Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More



“SEAL’s Code: Bad Boys of Team 3 (SEAL Brotherhood #10)” By Sharon Hamilton
Release Day Blitz

Bad Boys of Team 3 (SEAL Brotherhood #10)
By Sharon Hamilton
Danny Begay has tried to drive out the voices of his ancestors for most of his young life, but the life springing from his Navajo roots will not die. He is summoned back to Arizona to visit his dying grandfather, one of the original Navajo Code Talkers. Ashamed he has disappointed his hero grandfather he buries himself one more time in the arms of a stranger before he goes back to his home in Northern California.
Luci Tohe teaches at the reservation school, safeguarding the health of her ailing mother and little sister’s future, at the temporary expense of her own. She doesn’t expect the young Dine warrior she meets to be anything but a distraction from her loneliness. She knows she will dream about their hot encounter for years.
Danny cleans his life up, joins the Navy and becomes a SEAL, where he becomes the man he knew he was destined to become. Between deployments, he goes back visit the girl he cannot get out of his mind. The reservation has become a dangerous place for Luci’s family and soon Danny is embroiled in not only saving Luci, but her whole family as well.
Available for purchase at


The family gathered afterward at Wilson’s mother’s house. It was hard not to feel the eyes of his relatives on him, just as it was hard not to notice the pats on the back Wilson received. Lopez had been well coached and sought Wilson out to thank him for his service. Danny wanted to leave and told his mother so, barely two hours into the get-together. He’d greeted politely all the relatives he recognized, and those who didn’t come up to him, he figured didn’t want to be re-acquainted. Not like Wilson.
As a youth, just hanging with Wilson would have normally been enough to make the afternoon interesting, but today, with the frostiness between the two cousins, it was forcing him into a dangerous place even the sweet recollection of the night with Luci couldn’t heal. Making matters worse, Wilson had watched as he dropped Luci back to her car at the Blue Coyote and made an off-color remark that irritated Danny further.
The two ignored one another until somehow they wound up waiting to use the only restroom in the house.
“Your mom says you’re ready to go home,” Wilson said to his cowboy boots.
“That’s right.”
“I honestly don’t know why you came in the first place, Danny.”
Danny’s right eye squinted a little. “We never liked these things, Wilson. You know that.”
“You’ve been gone, what, eight years or more?”
“Okay, then. Ten. And you can’t spend an afternoon giving these people the time of day?”
“I don’t belong here, Wilson.”
Wilson nodded his head. “Oh yeah. Forgot. You’re the one that got away. You trying to rub my nose in it, huh?.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m saying I don’t want to be here. I’ve done my farewells, and now it’s time for me to adios.”
“You might consider the feelings of your mother.” Danny drilled him with a look that picked a scab.
“You hear the voices? Does the chanting get to you, Wilson?”
He could see his cousin was thinking about this carefully. It surprised him that Wilson didn’t give a quick answer no, which meant he heard the voices, too.
“Holy f**king shit, Wilson. You hear them, too. Just like I do.”
Emma Barnowl opened the bathroom door and their nostrils were hit with room deodorizer, which did a poor job of masking the smell she’d left behind.
“F**k me,” Wilson said under his breath. “I’m going out back.”
Danny followed his cousin, and within thirty seconds, was standing next to him, pissing on his aunt’s tomato plants, just like they used to do when they were boys of five. To this day, Danny hated tomatoes, especially home grown ones.
After they were done, they sat in metal lawn chairs. Wilson offered Danny a cigarette.
“I don’t smoke, and neither do you, or you didn’t,” Danny corrected himself.
“That’s funny,” Wilson said as he casually lit up and put his lighter and cigarettes back in his rear pocket.
“How come you didn’t wear your uniform?”
“It’s my choice. I didn’t think he’d like it.” Wilson took a long drag on his cigarette and blew it right at Danny’s face, but the wind carried it away.
“Thought you were proud of being a Navy boat guy.”
“I am. Got nothing to do with it. Kind of felt like it would be bragging or something, you know?”
Danny wondered about Luci, halfway expecting she’d drop by the gathering. Was he disappointed she’d stayed away? He couldn’t get the touch of her body against his out of his mind. That might be a reason to stay an extra day or two, but that would be a dangerous road, full of emotional potholes and entanglements. None of his liaisons ever turned out to last, so he figured it was better to remember her the way he’d left her. He saw her proud straight shoulders and those tight jeans encase thighs and a world-class ass as she walked toward her car and didn’t look back once. He knew the only good ones were the ones who didn’t look back.
“Look, Danny, I’m going to say this once, and then let you go. I’m sorry we got off to a bad start after so many years.”
“I was surprised you were around. Didn’t expect it.”
“So I was right, you’re not happy to see even me.”
“Again, putting words in my mouth.”
Wilson looked down, eyes landing on the scuffed cowboy boots, which were a mismatch to the clean suit pants and white shirt he wore. “I left this place with a lot of demons. I think I got just as many, maybe more than you, cuz.” Wilson took a final drag, stomped it out on the patio, and then threw the pieces into his mother’s vegetable garden.
A slight breeze shivered its way down Danny’s spine. A little group laughed from inside the house. He heard the tinkling of glasses and silverware, the sounds of cars arriving on the crushed rock roadway in front of his Aunt’s house, a doorbell ring, and the buzzing of a small plane overhead. The place looked and smelled and felt dangerously normal.
“I learned to tame those demons in the Navy, Danny. I’m not going to lie to you, but serving in the armed forces is giving me skills I can take out there in the real world.”
Danny found himself chuckling in spite of the fact that it was going to piss Wilson off. “Yeah, don’t see many rubber boats around the res, cuz. You training to be a white water rafting guide in the Canyon? Sh*t, you coulda done that in high school.”
“Except I was getting stoned in high school, Danny. So were you. I heard you were a real mess.”
“Rumors of my demise have been over exaggerated. I look like a mess to you?”
Wilson abruptly stood. “No, Danny, you look like a fuckin’ hero just like your grandfather.”
His cousin left and joined the gathering inside the house.


Book Trailer


Enjoy this NOT PG excerpt from SEAL’s Code narrated by J.D. Hart


to the SEAL’s CODE Release Party on June 30, 2015

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About the Author

NYT and USA/Today Bestselling Author Sharon Hamilton’s SEAL Brotherhood series have earned her Amazon author rankings of #1 in Romantic Suspense, Military Romance and Contemporary Romance. Her characters follow a sometimes rocky road to redemption through passion and true love. Her Golden Vampires of Tuscany earned her a #1 Amazon author ranking in Gothic Romance.
A lifelong organic vegetable and flower gardener, Sharon and her husband live in the Wine Country of Northern California, where most of her stories take place.
You can find Sharon at
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BLOG TOUR~ ONCE UPON A SEAL~ S.M. BUTLER…with #Rafflecopter Giveaway


Meet the Military Men of the Lucky Thirteen Series in Once Upon a Seal by Suzan Butler!

Coming May 19th is the fifth novel in the Lucky Thirteen series, ONCE UPON A SEAL from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Suzan Butler! Read how a small town girl starts to change her perceptions after conversations with a reclusive former Navy SEAL.

Check out Suzan’s recent post about summer reads on Fresh Fiction!

Follow the tour and you could win some awesome prizes!

Grand Prize: $25 Amazon or B&N gift card
Runner-up Prizes: Digital copies of any one (1) book by Suzan Butler in the Lucky Thirteen series (except Once Upon A Seal)


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Maddie Benson has spent her entire life in Sugar Falls and has never ventured—nor wanted to venture—beyond her small town’s safe borders. But when her delivery job takes her to the doorstep of one very reclusive, former Navy SEAL, Sebastian McIntyre, her small town perceptions are challenged with every conversation they have. It’s not long before she’s losing herself—and her heart—to the mysterious man behind the door.

Bastian’s scars are deeper than the surface. They’re embedded into his soul, and he’s content to keep them buried. But the second Maddie ends up on his doorstep with her sparkling smile and her sunshine hair, his quiet new life shatters and she just might be able to excise the demons he’s tried hard to keep tucked away—if he lets her in.

When Bastian’s old life comes haunting them, he knows he should let her go. But the light she shines on his soul keeps the darkness within him at bay. Letting her go may take more strength than he has, and keeping her close could get her killed.

On Sale in Print and Digital: May 19, 2015
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  | iBooks

Add ONCE UPON A SEAL to your TBR pile on Goodreads!


Suzan Butler Author Photo

Author Bio: Suzan Butler writes adult contemporary romance and has a penchant for Dr. Pepper, ice hockey, and world domination. She lives in Texas under a not-so-secret identity with two monsters, writing naughty books and planning the next step in her evil plans into the twilight hours of the night because that’s when it’s quiet in the house. She loves to hear from readers.

Suzan also has a monthly newsletter she shares with her alter ego, New York Times and USA Today bestseller, S.M. Butler, who writes new adult romantic suspense and military romance. In the newsletter, you’ll find information about new releases, updates on future books, contests, giveaways, get first peek at new covers, and find out where she’ll be visiting through books signings and conventions throughout the year.

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

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Release Date: April 21, 2015!

Hard Landing by Marliss Melton


Navy SEAL Brant “Bronco” Adams adores women but never lets himself get too close to any one of them—until he meets sweet, classy Rebecca McDougal.

Rebecca is the wife of Mad Max, Brant’s commanding officer and safely off-limits—until she confesses that she’s desperate to escape her nightmare of a marriage and that Max isn’t the upstanding commander they all think.

Emboldened to protect her, Brant skids head-long into Mad Max’s plot to do him in. Suddenly, the former playboy will assume any risk to give him and Rebecca hope for a future of their own.


Ebook is now available at:


Paperback coming soon!

Danger Close
Hard Landing

The Protector
The Guardian
The Enforcer


Marliss in red


Bestselling Author Marliss Melton uses her Spec Ops and Intelligence communities to pen realistic and heartfelt stories featuring America’s elite warriors. The daughter of a U.S. foreign officer, Melton grew up in various overseas countries, and now resides in Williamsburg, Virginia, with her husband and family.

Twitter: @MarlissM



Simply WOW! An amazing addition to the “Echo Platoon” series. “Hard Landing” is Book 2 in the amazing “Echo Platoon” series, but can be read as a stand alone, although, I would suggest reading Book 1 “Danger Close”.

Fast paced, action packed, thrills and chills tale of passion, danger, suspense, mystery and romance.
I love the way the H/H find their HEA, through all the trails and tribulations and dangerous encounters. All is not what has it seems!

Ms. Melton, just keeps getting better and better, which I don’t know how, she is a excellent storyteller, now. Like a fine wine, Ms. Melton’s stories gets better with age! A story in which, pulls the reader into the pages of her stories and holds them in awe. Her characters will capture any reader’s attention and holds them here. The storyline is more than fantastic, it is intriguing, interesting, and realistic. Well written with vivid descriptions and the knowledge of Military precision and excellence. From the first page to the last page, Ms. Melton, writes with passion, and enthusiasm. A must loved story and author! Any fans of Military Suspense, Romance, Romantic Suspense, and fans of an awesome read, will enjoy “Hard Landing”. Another hit for this author! An absolute delight to read and a series, I have thoroughly enjoy reading. I look forward to my next encounter with the THE ECHO PLATOON SERIES and their team! Well done! A keeper and a must read!

*Received for an honest review from the author*
**Cross-posted on My Book Addiction and More dot com**

Rating: 5
Heat rating: Mild
Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More


New from @RonieKendig | Raptor 6! Enter to win a Kindle HDX.

RAPTOR 6 Ronie Kendig

Don’t miss the first book, Raptor 6, in Ronie Kendig‘s new Quiet Professionals series. Ronie combines a dangerous romance and explosive action for a thrilling and satisfying ride. “Lock and load for this Spec Op, fighting under God’s ‘rules of engagement.'” —Bob Hamer, veteran FBI undercover agent and award-winning author

Ronie is celebrating with a Kindle HDX Giveaway!


One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 15th. Winner will be announced June 16th on Ronie’s blog.


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Ronie’s blog on June 16th to see if you won.



About the book: 
His mission.

His team.

Captain Dean Watters keeps these parts of his life in laser-like focus. So when hackers threaten both his mission and his team, Dean’s Special Forces training kicks into high gear. Ten military super-secure computers are missing-which if opened, would give America’s enemies a blueprint of US military intelligence. Failing to stop the hackers isn’t an option.

Zahrah Zarrick is a missionary teacher to Afghan children in Mazar-e Sharif. She’s also a target. Her expertise in quantum cryptology makes her an unwitting pawn in the hackers’ deadly game. They’re coming for her, and Dean and his team must stop them.

Before the team can get to Zahrah, she disappears. Now Dean must race to rescue her and stop the hackers from unleashing terror on millions across the globe. But to do so, Dean will be forced to crack open the steel box around his heart-a move that might come at the highest cost.
Purchase a copy:


About the author:
Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children and a Maltese Menace in northern Virginia. Author and speaker, Ronie loves engaging readers through her Rapid-Fire Fiction.

Ronie can be found at and on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Presented by: Litfuse Publicity


My Thoughts:


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{Contemporary Romance}




From a New York Times bestselling author, a brand new sexy contemporary romance featuring military bad boys: A BEAUTIFUL DISTRACTION by Kelsie Leverich.

A Beautiful Distraction: A Hard Feelings NovelNothing’s more dangerous than a bad boy with a broken heart…

First Sergeant Rafe Murano did everything to the extreme. He trained harder, he fought harder, and unfortunately, he loved harder. But he fell for the wrong woman and it nearly destroyed him.

Back home from a deployment, with no mission to consume him, Murano’s ravaged by memories of his past. So he drinks until he’s numb and drowns himself in meaningless one night stands. But they only take the edge off…

Until he meets Fallon.

Fallon Kelly learned the hard way not to take risks with her heart, But she sees something  irresistible in the tatted-up bad boy one more punch away from a ride in the back of a squad car. She offers a distraction. And he quickly becomes an addiction. Little does she know, this bad boy could love so hard it could break her…


Kelsie Leverich_Author Photo

About the Author:

Kelsie Leverich lives with her husband, two children, and their three pets. She loves sPinterest:tories that can sweep you off your feet, make you fall in love, break your heart, and heal your soul.




Twitter: @KelsieLev





(Sponsored by the publisher)

Thanks to Landi, at Berkley/NAL, Penguin Group USA, we are offering 1 lucky commenter a print copy of A BEAUTIFUL DISTRACTION by Kelsie Leverich.
Sorry, open to US residents only!!

*All you have to do is leave a comment*

Giveaway will run from May 2 until May 9, 2014.




A BEAUTIFUL DISTRACTION by Kelsie Leverich is an interesting contemporary romance. #3 in the “Hard Feelings” series, but can be read as a stand alone. See, “The Valentine’s Arrangement”, “Pretending She’s His (A Hard Feelings Novella)”,and Feel The Rush”. This was my first time reading anything by this author and I have to say, I enjoyed “A BEAUTIFUL DISTRACTION”. I didn’t feel you had to read the others in the series, to keep up with the storyline.

Meet, First Sergeant Rafe Murano and Fallon Kelly. Follow them on a journey to romance, passion, broken hearts, ravaged by war memories, and finding something other than just sex,possibly, love.

Fallon, learned not to give her heart away, for it could be broken again, easily. Murano plays hard, drinks hard, fights harder, and loved harder, which nearly destroyed him. Enter, Fallon….

What a lovely distraction each finds in the other. A tattered bad boy meets a Ballet dancer, Fallon. Sparks fly…..Murano, is used to one night stands, drinking to distraction and meaningless sex. Fallon, is part owner and dancer of Velour, a gentleman’s club, but she has her own secrets and memories.

This is an emotional, powerful tale of a military man and a dancer. Looking for love in all the wrong places. But can they finally find the love of their lives? A great read, with lots of hot sensual encounters. If you enjoy emotional characters, with baggage,sensual encounters, and so much more than you are in for a treat with A BEAUTIFUL DISTRACTION.  Received for an honest review from the publisher.



REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More






{Suspenseful military/Political thriller}




*From Amazon*

In the pitch-black cargo hole of the Pakistani airline freighter crossing the Atlantic, a wooden crate filled with levers for a weaving machine also had another object buried inside. If it makes it to its delivery point, an American city would become uninhabitable for a century. In this chilling thriller, Retribution is more than the story of a deep-cover mission to stop a terrorist with a core stolen from an Islamabad nuclear weapon. Here, the operative does much more to flush out the target than a hunt and chase. He becomes a carrier of a highly contagious strain of a deadly disease. In this oh so authentic story, author Andy Harp draws upon his experiences as a Marine who has served across the globe to create a uniquely real novel filled with breakneck thrills and plot twists. With action that flies from New York to London, from Peshawar deep into the mountains of the Hindu Kush, and from Islamabad to Chicago, Retribution weaves political conspiracy and a perilous, intelligence operation, hi-tech military technology and deadly current events, all with the crucible of a determined Jason Bourne like character in conflict with just as determined a killer, into a classic “mission” thriller that delivers the kind of nail-biting suspense, realism and a kicker surprise at the end that is in the style of Ludlum, and the best of Thor and Flynn. The story is engrossing, the hero is remarkable, and the personal cost he pays for both his survival and success changes the man.

–This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


By Anderson Harp

Pinnacle, an imprint of Kensington

Publication: March, 2014/Fiction/mass market original

$9.99 ($10.99 CAN); 528 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7860-3421-5

ISBN-10: 0786034211


About the author……


Anderson Harp served 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, rising through the ranks to become a Colonel.  His stations included:  the Pentagon, South Korea, Central America, the Persian Gulf, Europe, Camp Pendleton, the Marine Mountain Training Center, Fort Benning, Fort Sill, and Camp LeJeune. He has served as the Officer in Charge of Crisis Action Team for Marine Forces Central Command. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. As an officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, he was mobilized for Operation Enduring Freedom and served with MarCent’s Crisis Action Team.  Anderson Harp lives with his family in Columbus, Georgia.




Coming soon!

My Thoughts on this title over on our sister site, MyBookAddictionReviews

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(Sponsored by the publicist)

We are offering 1 lucky commenter a chance to win a copy of RETRIBUTION by Anderson Harp.

Giveaway will run from March 6 until March 14, 2014.




“My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq”
ALL I COULD BE (1)So without further ado…..
MBA&M: Welcome, Miyoko! Please tell our readers a little about yourself?

Miyoko 1MIYOKO: Usually, the first thing I tell people is that my name is Japanese.  My father is full Japanese-American, born in Hawaii.  He went to the same school as Secretary of Veterans Affairs (and retired General) Eric Shinseki.  My mother is Czech-American, born in Iowa, where I was also born and raised.  From that combination, I learned in early childhood to eat with chopsticks and squeeze out a beer barrel polka on the accordion.

I’ve been a story teller all my life, writing for school publications, including my university’s newspaper (Iowa State Daily), where I studied journalism/mass communication and psychology.  I’ve contributed poetry, essays and devotions to various anthologies but my latest is, of course, my memoir “All I Could Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq,” released this past May by History Publishing.
I joined the active Army at age 18, for a 3-year contract.  Then I re-enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard for 5 years while attending college.  It was my senior year that I was deployed to Iraq.  And that set my life on a new course all together.  Returning home, I had no desire to cover breaking news.  I didn’t want to write war stories; I wanted to pen mine.  So I got a variety of part-time jobs: modeling, acting, marketing, I even delivered newspapers for a summer.  In between, I worked on my book.  I was diligent, but it was still a long process to compile, edit and solicit publishers.
MBA&M: We understand you where in the Military, thank you for your service to us and to our country! Can you tell our readers some of the challenges faced by women in today’s Military?
MIYOKO: I think one major challenge for women entering military service at a young age (or any age, really) is to find a way to fulfill the “soldier role” without losing their own identity.  What I mean by this is, for a man entering the military, many of the “desirable” masculine traits–toughness, brutality, physicality–are celebrated.  A man doesn’t lose his identity by being hypermasculine.  A woman, however, may feel as if she is losing a part of herself if some of her natural personality–sensitivity, compassion, femininity–are suppressed because leaders or male comrades view these traits unfairly as weaknesses.  The truth is that men are not exclusively one way and women another.  We’re different blends of all traits.  And the effectiveness of any team is maximized when people are allowed to let their unique traits and talents shine.  Diversity is strength when it’s applied to the same goal.
With media attention on sexual assaults in the military, this is clearly another challenge for women in the military–to remain physically and emotionally insulated from harm, to be allowed to perform their job duties without harassment or prejudice, to feel comfortable reporting inappropriate and criminal behavior to their leadership knowing that action will be taken to persecute sexual perpetrators.  In an environment where young women soldiers are accustomed to taking orders, in the matter of Military Sexual Trauma (MST) women must be empowered to take charge, especially in the realm of mental health treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which often results from a sexual assault, especially when it occurs during a deployment when other traumatic incidents have likely been experienced.

MBA&M: “All I Can Be: My Story as a Woman Warrior in Iraq” we understand is your story, how hard was it to write this compelling tribute to women who serve their country?
Baghdadi Girls School

MIYOKO: At times, writing my story was very difficult.  In order to describe some of the events in Iraq, I had to put myself back there emotionally and envision the people, the smells, the fear, the heat and the sweat.  The gift of re-visiting those sands of time was being able to critically examine details I did not have time to reflect upon at the time and form, ultimately, my own truth about them.  It was an opportunity for me to take all the pieces of an incoherent and chaotic experience and say, hey, this is what it was for me.  Of course, I recognize that years from now my reflection may be different but that’s all a part of the healing process.  I don’t believe a soldier ever completely returns home.  It’s a lifelong process of steps that occur while the rest of post-deployment life moves forward.

MBA&M: What was the most difficult scene for you to write?

MIYOKO: The most difficult scene to write was the convoy I was on when another of my company’s convoys (on the same road) was ambushed and through the radio transmissions I could envision the scene of chaos, destruction and death of my friend, Specialist Aaron Sissel.  I felt completely helpless as my vehicle was too far away to reach him in time.  Aaron was a great guy and an admirable soldier–kind, hard working, patriotic–and only 22 when he was killed.  I was 26 at the time, hardly much older, but I still felt like he was just a kid and never got the chance to get married, have a family and do many of the other things in life that we not only take for granted but sometimes complain about.  I try to remember him and his complete sacrifice because I think it pushes me to live my life to the fullest and that is one of the ways that I can honor him.

MBA&M: We understand the sacrifices you made for your fellow countryman,and your extraordinary service, but if you could change anything about your sojourn into a combat zone, what would it be? 

MIYOKO: Since I was in college while I was in the National Guard, I focused on my schoolwork first and my military career second.  While other soldiers went to summer training schools to advance in rank, I took summer classes.  The result was that I earned 2 bachelor’s degrees and had a fantastic college experience.  I didn’t just “make the grade” or get my necessary credits, I got a superb education.  Simultaneously, my military career was stagnant.  I don’t know if I could have balanced a rigorous school schedule with additional military training, but if I could change anything I would have tried it so that I could have been a Sergeant or Staff Sergeant when I deployed.  Being in a leadership role would have driven me to be a better soldier, lead by example, and influence others in a way that might have improved their deployment experience.

MBA&M: How hard was basic training? 

MIYOKO: Basic training wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t overwhelming for me.  Everyone was miserable and time passed pretty quickly.  We were busy all the time, so there wasn’t any chance or anyone to complain to.  I knew when I enlisted that I wasn’t going to give up.  So I think I took it one moment at a time.

I had the benefit of playing Varsity sports in high school.  I was already physically fit and accustomed to being on a team so that was a good foundation to have for the physical training aspects of basic training.  I also grew up spending a lot of time outdoors–camping trips, tending a garden, yard work–so braving the elements for road marches or our field exercise was not entirely new to me either.  I wasn’t afraid to get dirty or yelled at.  In fact, in most situations I smile.  That’s my signature move.  So the drill sergeants sometimes called me “Private Smiley” because no matter what, I was able to find some happiness.
MBA&M: What do your regret most about your time served, what was some of the things you missed most while you where in the military? 

MIYOKO: There is very little I regret about my military service, or my life in general.  I do think that one aspect of young adulthood I missed because of my service was being sort of carefree, fun, exploratory and optimistic.  I started working at age 14, so had some level of responsibility and commitment at a young age.  Then in the Army, life was rather serious and paying attention to the details was critical.  I couldn’t let my mind wander on a firing range or while driving a 5-ton vehicle.  I didn’t stroll across the grass on a college campus in bare feet, playing frisbee between classes, or soaking up sun rays.  I didn’t spend hours getting ready for formals or wear fun lipstick colors.  I do all that now though.  It’s never too late to have fun, even if I’m not “young” anymore.

MBA&M: What do you most want people to understand about life in the military?

MIYOKO: The military, at least the active duty, is not a job it’s a lifestyle.  When a woman or man signs an enlistment contract she or he signs away the choice to decide where to live, what to wear, the length of the work day, the extent of the job duties and all the creature comforts of civilian life.  She or he agrees to give up everything including life, by the order of a squad leader up to the President, in order to defend the Constitution and the American way of life.  And she or he does that voluntarily.  No enlistment bonus or college loan repayment benefit can “buy” that.  It’s a loyalty and sense of duty that lives in the heart.  That’s how I define a soldier–by the condition of the heart to put the mission first.

MBA&M: What is your advice to anyone who is thinking about joining the military?

MIYOKO: 1) Do your homework.  Learn about the branches of service, the jobs, the qualifications and the fitness standards.  Research an initial enlistment contract and ask a recruiter (and someone that is currently serving in the military if possible) to explain it so you understand exactly what your commitment to the military is and what its responsibility is to you.

2) For women, make certain you can pass the physical fitness standards well above the minimum requirement.  It’s a more challenging environment for women than men, and fitness is highly valued.  If that part of your job is mastered, you’ll be able to focus on the other challenges better.
3) For single women, examine your sexual values and dating rules and set clear guidelines for yourself.  This area is also more difficult to negotiate for women than men, so having a plan is a smart approach.  When you’re assigned to your first unit, identify other women, especially in leadership roles, that are willing to mentor and support you in this area.  Work to establish a network of trustworthy women friends.
MBA&M: Please tell our readers where they may connect with you and where they may purchase “All I Could Be”?

MIYOKO: You can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@MHikiji), Pinterest, Goodreads, Google + and Tumblr (mhikiji).  My website and blog are at

Thank you, Miyoko, for spending time with us and our readers today! Also, for your sacrifice and time served for your country!



Miyoko Hikiji, an Iowa native, served in the active duty Army from 1995-98 as a supply clerk and armorer in Air Defense Artillery, stationed at Fort Polk, LA and Fort Bliss, TX.  She returned home after completing her initial enlistment, joined a transportation unit in the Iowa Army National Guard (became a qualified truck driver) and began her studies in journalism and psychology at Iowa State University. 

After September 11th, 2001 Miyoko was mobilized for the Force Protection Security team at Camp Dodge for six months.  She resumed her studies afterward but was mobilized again in 2003 and deployed with the 2133rd Transportation Co. for over a year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Miyoko completed over 70 supply convoy, security and raid missions throughout the northwest quadrant of Iraq.  Simultaneously, she worked as the unit correspondent and administrative sergeant.

Miyoko earned two B.S. degrees from Iowa State University in 2004—journalism and mass communication (with a public relations emphasis) and psychology.

            Miyoko is a passionate veteran’s advocate and takes special interest in supporting and mentoring veterans through the transition period after deployment.  She is outspoken on the present issues of MST (military sexual trauma), PTSD and suicide.  Miyoko believes that veterans should educate the non-uniformed public by sharing their experiences in any number of art forms and that all military-connected persons have a story to tell.

Website and Blog:


  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Chronology Books; First edition (May 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933909587
  • ISBN-13: 978-193390958




This inaugural account, during the onset of the Global War on Terrorism, by a female National Guard soldier provides evidence of the vitality of female fighters.


It pays tribute to the two soldiers in her unit that lost their lives, and shows how love can be more vital in the desert than in water. This story exposes the comradeship, intimacy, cowardice and humor of soldiers…more

and at Amazon at





(Sponsored by the author)

We are offering 1 lucky comment a print copy of “All I Could Be” by Miyoko Hikiji. Open to US residents only! Giveaway will run from October 23 until October 30,2013.

*Tell us your thoughts on women in the military(Nothing offensive,please) Or let the author know how much you appreciate the service/sacrifice she gave to us and our country*



We hope you have enjoyed your time with our guest Miyoko Hikiji today and will please spread the word!


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