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Grace’s Ground War can be purchased in e-book format at the following booksellers:
Olivia Kimbrell Press
EBook ISBN: 978-1-939603-49-4
Grace’s Ground War is available in paperback as part of the Complete Virtues and Valor Series.
You can purchase an autographed paperback of The Complete Virtues and Valor Series directly from Hallee at this link.
You can also purchase the paperback at the following booksellers:
RUTH AUBERTIN’s father, a highly decorated veteran of the Great War, moves his family from British Palestine to the wild of Great Britain after the Hebron masacre in 1929. He has always known the Germans would return to France, and trained his children from the time they could walk, turning them into finely tuned weapons with multiple skills ranging in weapons training to hand-to-hand combat.
When the Germans roll into France, Ruth and her brothers volunteer with the British Special Services and Ruth joins the Virtues team under the code name of GRACE. Never knowing the bond of sisterhood before, Ruth grows close to the six other women on the team and learns to rely on them and their varied skills as she goes undercover in Occupied France. Working directly for the notorious Praetorian, she and her team plan the largest prisoner escape in the war to date.
The arrest of TEMPERANCE raises the stakes. Now they have to move their time table up, increasing the overall risk of the mission. Can Ruth and her team pull off the mission, or will too many variables crash together at the wrong time?
GRACE’S GROUND WAR is part five of eight serialized novellas entitled the Virtues and Valor series.
Seven valorous women — different nationalities, ethnicities, and social backgrounds — come together as a team called the Virtues.
In 1941 Great Britain a special war department assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.
Some find love, some find vengeance, and some discover the kind of strength that lives in the human heart when all they can do is rely on each other and their shared belief. Courage, faith, and valor intersect but, in the end, one pays the ultimate price.
Continuing the Virtues and Valor series by Hallee Bridgeman. Eight serialized novellas, each inspired by real people and actual events, reveal the incredible story of amazing heroines facing the ultimate test of bravery.
Outside of Milton Keynes, England: 1941
THE roar of the aircraft engines drowned out nearly every thought in Ruth Aubertin’s head. The endless clamor deafened her until she genuinely feared for her ability to hear anything ever again. The cold seeped through the loose fitting uniform she wore and her fingers fumbled as she bound her ankles with ribbon.
The British forces had limited fuel, limited resources, and limited aircraft for training missions. The first four to six parachute training jumps were made from balloons. Only the final “graduation” jump involved an actual airplane. Ruth’s next jump from an airplane would be into enemy territory.
After four uneventful jumps from Barrage Balloons, Ruth had climbed on board this Avro Anson 652 with a cocky skip to her step that she almost immediately regretted. The training balloons had large gray wicker gondolas mocked up to simulate the Avro’s cargo areas with bright painted lines and taped off lanes of approach. Other than a light breeze, the ride up was completely silent, serene, even peaceful.
By contrast, once the heavy, noisy, smelly, all metal aircraft clawed its way free from the cradle of the earth, it felt as if her stomach had fallen out. She had never before flown in an airplane. To be heard over the powerful engines meant that the jump master had to scream in everyone’s faces, nose to nose, at the top of his lungs. Everyone had to exaggerate their motions, pantomiming, using large, slow gestures as if playing a silly game of underwater charades. What she suddenly realized, despite nearly a month of airborne training, was that she was deathly afraid of flying.
After the horrible events during that bloody August in Hebron, her family had fled the ancient burial place of the patriarchs and traveled by truck to Tel Aviv. From there, they embarked on a ship to Barcelona, Spain. Then by bus, truck, and foot to their home in the wilds of central France. The first time Ruth had ever risen above 3 stories had been in the training balloons.
Now, aboard this incredibly loud and apparently unsteady aircraft, this woman who had trained from birth to fight as a warrior, realized that, despite her courage and convictions, she felt fear. The emotion clawing at her far exceeded normal and perfectly healthy anxiety. She realized that the stark fear she felt bordered on panicked terror.
Ruth spared a glance at the man strapped in beside her, the agent code-named Augustine. Augustine knew her only by her codename as well; Grace. He made it sound like a curse each time he pronounced it. Next to him sat the agent code-named Scorpion who appeared to be enjoying a nap. How was that man sleeping through the insane tilting, the occasional shuddering, and the unbelievable noise?
Augustine turned his head and stared back at her, his expression blank and somehow still mildly mocking, as if daring her to fail. He’d acted as her most vocal adversary, objecting to having her train with the men in the group. Most of the time, Ruth ignored him. Today, she worried he could read through her stoic expression and see the terror etched painfully into her heart.
Whispering a Hebrew prayer meant to focus her mind and calm her nerves, she watched the jump master open the door. She thought the sound of the engines was loud before. Now with the final barrier removed, her ears actually started to ache. The cargo bay suddenly filled with an acrid smell like burning kerosene as the exhaust from the nearby engine seeped into the space.
Despite her previous thought that she’d left her stomach on the ground somewhere on the runway, she felt it fall again and a sick feeling of nausea rose up her throat. Might she get airsick? How humiliating would that be?
Then Ruth Aubertin, the SOE operative in training code-named Grace, came to the realization she most dreaded since the engines first fired up. She realized she couldn’t do this.
Panic increased her heart rate. Adrenaline caused her skin to grow cold and her blood pressure to spike. She would freeze up in the door. She would cause the entire stick to miss their timed exit. She would have to leave the program in shame.
She saw little spots dance at the corners of her eyes. She tried to reason with herself, but she lost the internal argument. In the name of Jehovah God, she wouldn’t have the strength of will to go out that door.
She watched the hand signals and knew that she had to move forward and crouch in a fetal position in front of the door. Gripping her static line by a four inch bite held tightly in her left fist, she slid that lifeline along the steel anchor-line cable that ran the length of the cabin floor. Slowly, inexorably, she approached the small door, thankful she had to fall to the ground since she didn’t think her legs would continue to support her.
“God, help me. Just help me get out of this airplane. Please, Father!”
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