Take cover, there's a blonde bombshell on the way

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The Independent Online

As regular readers will know, Mills and Bang are publishers of military romances; stories that give women readers all the love they want and men all the violent action. Kissing with killing, loving with looting... What more could you want?

Here are three more new novels from the ever-reliable stable.

'Romantic Recruit' by Glynis Cartridge

"You've been sent to me so that I can turn you into soldiers," said Sergeant-Major Dunglass, glaring at the rows of youngsters in front of him. "So let me din into you the basics of Proper Soldiering. Proper Soldiering depends on the three Ss. That's Silence, Stealth and Sickening Violence. You, lad, what are the three Ss?"

The youth replied, unabashed: "I'm not a lad, Sergeant-Major. I'm a female. Private Fatima Rodley at your service."

"I'm in charge here, and you'll bloody be whatever gender I decide I want you to be!" roared Sgt-Maj Dunglass. "Now, what are the three Ss?"

"Could they be sex, sin and sultry music, sir?"

Sgt-Maj Dunglass decided against outright fury and went for icy calm. "Not quite the three Ss I told you about, are they, Private?"

"No, sir. But I didn't want your information to fall into the hands of the enemy, so I decided to turn them into code for you. Sir."

As Sgt-Maj Dunglass stared at the impudent youngster, whose will he clearly had to break, he could hardly guess that his campaign to subdue her cheek was doomed to end in his helpless enslavement.

'Equipped for Passion' by Rosie Parade

Colonel "Sandy" Foreshaw stood stiffly to attention, awaiting the minister from London. It was hot, it was dusty and Col Foreshaw was sick of this war in the Middle East. They had beaten their enemy. Now they were being asked to help direct the traffic and sort out the running water. That wasn't what he joined upfor. And now this blasted minister was coming out to be photographed for free publicity. Well, he would tell him a thing or two...

"Penny for your thoughts, Colonel?" He looked up. An extremely handsome middle-aged woman was smiling at him mischievously. He was just about to order her to be arrested and taken away when a sixth sense warned him that it might be a mistake.

"Minister?" he said.

"The very same," she said. "I have come to congratulate you on your work against the enemy."

"The enemy?" said Col Foreshaw. "Oh, our enemy is not who you think it is. Our enemy is not the soldiers on the other side, or even the terrorists. Our real enemy is the Ministry of Defence back in London, which has given my men such shoddy and inefficient equipment and endangered all their lives. Our enemy is your government department."

There followed a conversation which, considering the baking heat, was very frosty indeed.

"I gather you are due back in London very soon, Colonel," she said. "When you are there, perhaps you might come and see me and explain all this more fully."

And next time he was in London, he did go to see her and they did discuss many things, but not all of them were military by any stretch of the imagination.

'Holding the Fort' by Veronica Skirmish

When Tom Butler was invalided out of the forces (damned stray bullet in the Gulf) he was given the job of running a military museum. Not one of the big ones, but the National Hand Grenade Museum. Not many people know it exists, and not many people visit it.

"Nothing very sexy about a hand grenade, you see," explained Tom to his deputy, Miss Sheila Gifford. "People love guns, even when inactive, because they're sharp and threatening and pointed. Grenades are just round and cosy."

"And not very phallic?" suggested Sheila.

"Yes, I suppose so," said Tom, feeling slightly uncomfortable, as he did whenever Sheila said things like that. But not as uncomfortable as when a peace campaigner called Tina handcuffed herself to the cabinet of modern (live) grenades and threatened to blow herself up unless the museum was closed.

How Tom came under the spell of her bravery, and Sheila found herself fighting Tina for Tom's love, and what happened when the whole museum was closed down for lack of funds and Tina could finally unhandcuff herself, forms the backbone of this mesmeric war saga set in an unfashionable part of Walsall.