Book Extract: True Courage by Kathryn Barrett

Please join me in welcoming Kathryn Barrett to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her novel, True Courage. 

Some days it was hell being leader of the free world.

The Washington press calls him the “accidental president.” As a Medal of Honor recipient and national hero, Adam Dybik agreed to run for president during the country’s deepest crisis.

Now that things have stabilized, he’s got problems at home: his 14-year-old daughter Katie keeps ditching her Secret Service protection and reminding him he’s the world’s worst father. And on top of that, he’s begun hearing the voices of dead presidents. Either he’s going mad, or the White House is haunted.

As the new head of Katie’s Secret Service detail, Ellie Brody is trying to live up to the high expectations of her father, former agent Frank Brody. But her new job puts her in direct danger of succumbing to the president’s charm.

Can these two find love in the White House, under the most intense media scrutiny—and the watchful eye of Lyndon Johnson?


Kathryn has kindly shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 


*****beginning of extract*****


This scene is from Chapter 5 and is set at Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains, where Adam makes up for his poor performance at golf by sinking a basketball:


The crisis in Idaho averted, Adam rode Golf Cart One to Leatherwood, where a basketball game was in progress: White House staff vs. Secret Service, and it looked like his team was getting whipped.

He’d been telling his staff to get more exercise, but most of them were more interested in writing policy papers about Latin American economies than in manhandling an elliptical machine. He’d made it a point to hire the best and the brightest, regardless of political party, but now he wished he’d given a thought to hiring the tallest and fittest.

He heard Ellie’s voice. “That’s another three!” she called out. Though she wasn’t very tall, she was hustling up and down the court so fast he had to check to make sure she wasn’t wearing rollerblades.

He waded into the fray. “Hand it over, punk,” he told the six-foot-three agent dribbling the ball. After snatching the ball, Adam raced to the end of the court. Ignoring the defender in front of him, he tossed it neatly into the rim.

He wished Larry were there to see how easily he’d managed that hole-in-one.

He spun around and high-fived his speechwriter, Melissa. “Okay, team, let’s win this one for the Gipper!”

“The who?” he heard his scheduler ask the congressional liaison.

Presidential prestige was put aside on the basketball court. Adam took his share of ribbing. But unlike golf, he was no newcomer to this game. When he’d started out in the prosecutor’s office in Chicago, he’d regularly played pick-up games at the local gym. Ten years earlier, he’d been quicker, meaner.

Now, at forty-five, he had to rely on his wits.

“Hey! Watch those elbows!” he said to Ellie, who was guarding him, sticking to him like wet Kleenex. He tried to pass the ball over her head, but she jumped up and swatted the ball just as it slipped from his fingers.

“Having trouble hanging onto the ball? Sir,” she added with a grin.

As they loped down the court, chasing the scramble of players clustered around the ball handler, he glanced at her feet. “Your shoe,” he called. “It’s untied.”

She stopped, looking down at her perfectly tied laces, but by then he’d already broken free and was catching the pass from the point guard. In seconds he’d nabbed a spot under the net, but before he could lob the ball in, Ellie skidded in front of him.

She had youth, and size, and now the zeal of the persecuted on her side.

“Cheater,” she muttered as she threw an elbow.

He laughed. The rough and tumble of politics was no match for the raucous contact of a good pick-up basketball game. He hadn’t enjoyed himself so much since Inauguration Day.

Ellie raced to the net with the ball, arced it over the rim, and whooped as it sank through the net.

And then backed straight into Adam’s arms.

“Whoa,” he said, gripping her around the waist for just an instant longer than she needed to get her balance. “You okay?”

“I’m okay—but you desk jockeys are losing. Big time,” she added gleefully as the tall blond agent on Katie’s detail landed the rebound.

Adam nodded toward the sideline, where his teammates, sweaty and gulping water, were converging for a time out. “They’re checking email on their phones. After that, we’re mopping the floor with you punks.”

Despite Adam’s best efforts, White House staff lost by thirty or forty-two points, depending on whose scoring method was used: His budget director insisted on amortizing the earlier goals to bring them in line with inflation.


*****end of extract*****



About Kathryn Barrett: 

Kathryn Barrett has always loved larger-than-life characters and happy-ever-after endings.

After working on several political campaigns, including a US presidential campaign, she moved to England and began writing the stories that intrigued her.

Her first novel, TEMPTATION, was the winner of the Golden Quill Best First Book contest, the Holt Medallion for Best Mainstream/Single Title, and the Holt Award of Merit for Best First Book. 

Say hello to Kathryn via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or via her website

True Courage was released by Lavender House Publishing. Click to buy on Amazon UK, Waterstones and Amazon US


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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