Thursday, October 31, 2013

Strong is Sexy Heroine of the Week: Omega

Book: The Hostage
Author: Carolyn Wren
Heroine: Omega

Omega is a covert operative who features in cameos in books 1-3 of The Protector Series.  Book 4, The Hostage is her story.

She is a complex character.  A deadly agent who has an almost obsessive desire for privacy.  There is a reason for her work, and her secretive life.  She was herself a victim of a kidnapping some years before, and channelled her experiences into a need to help others.  I like Omega as a character because she does have an enormous amount of strength and determination, and a very dry witty personality.  She also has a trauma in her past, but this doesn't make her a victim.  She makes the decisions in her life.  Even after one of her past assignments, the hero of the story, tracks her down, she gives him a good run around before accepting him into any part of her life.  When another, more nasty person also finds out her secret identity, she tackles him head on without waiting for help, or back up, challenging him to a dangerous battle of wits...involving knives. 

There is a vulnerable side to her, and it is explored in this story.  It forms an integral part of the relationship of the book, and allows us to see behind the Covert operative to the person beneath.  I don't think this vulnerability decreases her strength of character.

The best way I can think of to describe Omega, and the book, is to quote the note my proof-reader put in the margin of my finalized MS. 

Now that’s a good book! A woman with strength and character who finds true love but never has to give up who she truly is. Excellent job.

This is part of the opening scene of The Hostage, which sets up her character and the story.  It contains one of my favourite quotes from the book. 

“Who are you?”

“An alternative to the fifty million in ransom your company apparently didn't want to pay, Mr. Northam.” 

North tried to open his eyes. Am I still dreaming? No, surely dreams didn’t come with this amount of pain. He’d smelt something, the fresh scent of clean skin. Not perfume, just the fragrance of a woman, a hint of warmth all men had evolved to detect since the caves. Then a voice, a low whisper in his ear, warm breath touched him, hot in the cold room. She’d spoken to him, the sound only a husky whisper more designed for the bedroom than this hellish place. He’d actually felt his body respond before his mind absorbed her words. He would have laughed if he’d had the energy. Tortured and about to die, a woman whispers in his ear and his first reaction is arousal.

I’m clearly insane, but I’ll die happy. North sucked in a painful breath. How the hell did I get on the ground? This was a different kind of agony, the agony of circulation returning and abused muscles showing displeasure at their treatment. He groaned, and someone put a hand over his mouth. North jerked, the pain of the sudden movement almost sending him back to the darkness.

The faint whisper came again. “I can give you ten minutes. After that we need to see if you can stand. Wait for my word. Move slowly.”

She’s real?

“Don’t try to talk and don’t rush your movements.”

Rush? He didn't think he could rush if his life depended on it. He realized with another jerk, it did. Forcing his muscles to move slowly in uncoordinated bursts, he tried to encourage his body to move in preparation for her instruction. He had no idea what was happening or who she was.

He tried to form audible words and keep his voice as soft as hers. “Where did you come from?”

The question was never answered. He heard a shout and the heavy thump of footsteps running.

“Close your eyes.”


The door burst open, and she fired.

North hadn't understood the request until the first flash of the muzzle blinded him. He’d been in darkness for so long, the sudden brightness left spots before his one working eye. He blinked, trying to clear his vision.

She kept shooting at those coming through the door, surprise on her side. His captors had thought him alone and restrained. It was over in a minute, the sudden silence made his ears ring.

North strained to hear her voice over the roar. “They’ll send reinforcements. We have to go now.”

Placing her shoulder under his arm, she helped him stand. The pain almost made him pass out again. He’d be damned if he gave into it now, not when freedom was so close. She led him out of the door, one arm around his waist, the other extended, gun in hand swinging right and left. God, she was tiny, not even reaching his shoulder. Her hair brushed against his chest as they walked, giving him a real clue to her diminutive stature. 

 “I think I can walk,” he told her.

“Good.” She released him. “Follow me.”

Four more guards, four more shots from her pistol. She stopped him in a hallway to reload, before they continued on. She seemed to know which way to go, and he stumbled after her, wiping sweat and blood out of his eyes with a shaky hand. Who was this tiny woman risking her life for his? It felt wrong. All his male instincts said it should be the other way around.

They barely got outside before his legs gave way. He collapsed, cursing his weakness under his breath while she half-dragged him to a large clump of bushes.

“Stay here,” she said and flowed back into the shadows.

He waited, anxiety and stress making the minutes seem like hours.

“We have to move.” Her silent approach sent a burst of adrenalin and relief through him.
The slight reprieve had given him time to recover. With limited strength, he followed her. She kept them concealed within the darkness and beneath the sparse foliage. He heard shouts and shots, but no one appeared before or behind them. They had gained perhaps fifty yards, when she pushed him into a shallow depression in the ground and held his head down. A few seconds later, he heard and felt an explosion.

“With luck,” she murmured, “the blast will confuse and frighten them into running.”

“What do we do now?”

She grabbed some loose foliage, pulling it over their bodies. “We wait.”

The ground was cold, the thin branches and leaves offering no relief from the chill of the night. North’s muscles twitched and ached, and he was feeling the multitudes of bruises, cuts, and scrapes. His whole face throbbed with a deep pounding rhythm, a sharp pain stabbed behind his injured eye, and his jaw ached so much he feared it was cracked. His shoulder muscles and tendons screamed at him. Still, he was better off than he’d been an hour ago. The adrenaline rush was over. His eyes drooped. Ridiculous. He wouldn't sleep, not under such circumstances was his last coherent thought.

The sky seemed lighter when he opened his eyes. His husky voiced champion spoke softly into a tiny hand held radio. She was sprawled across half of his body, still protecting him. Being saved by a woman still bothered him. Her body was warm and soft, where it touched him even through her sturdy black clothing. She appeared to have no problem with his nakedness, not that there was anything they could do about it. Frankly, it was the least of their problems.

Her face was shadowed in the pre-dawn light. North wanted to see her, wanted to put features to the throaty whisper of his rescuer. The brave, calm woman who’d saved his life.

“Who are you?”

“An alternative to the fifty million in ransom your company apparently didn't want to pay, Mr. Northam,” she said without looking at him, the longest sentence he’d heard her say.
She kept watch, her face in profile. He willed the dawn to arrive, so he could see her clearly, distracted by the light fall of footsteps sounded in the distance. He tensed, thinking she would tell him to move or fight. The order never came, she remained motionless. A few minutes later, she removed some of the foliage and leaned across his body to peer over the top of the shallow depression.

“Omega?” A deep male voice came from above. North had no idea how the figures had gotten so close, whilst making so little sound.

“Yes.” She climbed nimbly over his body and stood. “Mr. Northam, these men will see you safely home.”

A man wearing camouflage clothing, leaned into the depression to help North to his feet. A false dawn from the explosion fifty yards away provided a fiery backdrop to their surroundings.

“All clear?” his rescuer asked the soldier, tilting her head to the carnage that had once been North’s prison.

“Yes,” he replied, shifting a powerful looking rifle to his other shoulder.
She nodded and turned to walk away.

“Wait,” North said. She paused, turning only her head to look back at him, her face half bathed in darkness, and still unclear to him. “How do I...Look, I don't even know who you are. How do I thank you?”

“Not necessary.”

“It is to me.”

“Mr. Northam,” the soldier said, “we need to go.”

North took his gaze from her for a split second. When he looked back, she was gone. He scowled, peering into the gloom. “Wait.”

“Mr. Northam,” the man repeated firmly, “we need to go now.”

Another soldier came up and draped a long jacket over him. In the distance, North could hear a helicopter. Reluctantly he followed, scanning the countryside as he forced his battered body to walk.

This isn't over.

A covert operative so secretive, she’s known only as Omega…

Kidnapped, held in chains, beaten and without hope. Wealthy businessman James ‘North’ Northam believes he’s a dead man. Until a daring rescue by a woman who disappears before he can thank her. North is compelled by a powerful need to track down his mysterious saviour. The truth he discovers about her is both surprising and intriguing.

Omega has always kept her covert identity separate from her real life. Until James Northam invades her world, and her privacy. This determined, impossibly distracting man is getting under her skin. Her plan is to deny everything until he gives up and goes home.

The plan doesn't seem to be working.

And so begins a battle of wits between two very strong willed people.

Neither of them realise someone else from Omega’s past has tracked her down, for much more sinister reasons.

Are you an author with a strong heroine in your book? Want to see her featured? Find out how here.

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