Her Show of Force

Mahoney & Squire #1

Available in: Audio, e-Book, Trade Size

Her Show of Force

She can stand her ground with the best of them. But she’ll need all her strength to keep her family and her sailors afloat…

Navy Captain Kate Mahoney never backs down from a challenge. Determined to prove her mettle as the new Director of Operations for the US Seventh Fleet, the single mom entrusts her sister to care for her fifteen-year-old son in California. After arriving on the Japan-based fleet flagship, her strategic expertise proves vital when two rival Korean warships attack each other and fuel a looming international crisis.

Devising a bold plan to de-escalate the conflict, Kate braves ruthless sexism from male colleagues just as news arrives from home—police arrested her rebellious teenage son. Caught between personal and global emergencies, the selfless leader struggles to protect both her child and her country from danger.

Can this courageous woman claim victory on opposite sides of the Pacific?

Her Show Of Force is the intriguing first book in the Mahoney & Squire Military Fiction series (formerly Riven Dawn in The Flagship Series). If you like complex heroines, fast-paced action, and international drama, then you’ll love this commanding tale by Mike Krentz, US Navy Captain, Medical Corps (retired).

Buy Her Show Of Force to maneuver into a tactical position today


Audiobook coming March 2024, preorder now from Audiobooks.com!

HER SHOW OF FORCE Excerpt for Website:

Chapter One

March 21, 2003, Persian Gulf

Weapons spent, the F/A-18 Hornet streaked over the coast of Iraq into total blackness over the Persian Gulf.

At the controls, Lieutenant Commander Kate “Scarlett” Mahoney announced “feet wet” into her helmet microphone, climbed the jet to three-thousand feet, and let herself relax for the first time since the mission began three hours ago.

Flashes of warning lights from the instrument panel interrupted her in mid-breath.

Left engine fire.

Kate pushed the fire extinguisher button and shut down the engine. The jet rolled left, as expected when flying with an unopposed right engine. She made the proper control corrections, confirmed the fire was out, and continued a gradual single-engine flight toward USS Constellation (CV 64), the aircraft carrier from which she had launched three hours earlier.

The photo of Patrick smiled at her from where she’d pasted it to the instrument panel. “Almost home, kid.”

The Hornet lurched into a violent left roll. Kate pushed the control stick to the right.

No response.

Kate reached between her legs as she announced her dilemma. “Lost controls. I’m, uh, ejecting.”

She yanked the yellow/black-striped handle. The jet’s canopy blew away a second before the ejection seat holding Kate shot into the overcast night. The crippled jet fighter plunged away toward the Persian Gulf.

Hang on tight, Patrick.

The acceleration force caused her to black out. In seconds, the seat separated, the parachute deployed, and Kate’s limp body transitioned from projectile to falling leaf. The sudden deceleration and the groin straps yanking on her distended bladder jerked her into consciousness. So did the intense pain in her dislocated left shoulder.

Patrick had disappeared from her mind.

She peered up to confirm the dim outline of a full parachute. Her wingman circling overhead would report “good chute” to Connie.

Overcoming the pain in her shoulder, Kate inflated her flotation vest and snapped the waist lobes together. A glimpse of the carrier’s distant light appeared against the black horizon, no doubt launching the rescue helo in her direction. She steadied her breathing.

Less than a thousand feet before water entry.

When her boots hit the water, Kate released the parachute straps just before her body submerged. In seconds, she popped through the surface and used her uninjured arm and two muscular legs to swim away from the parachute.

She floated on her back. Euphoria rolled over her in harmony with the sea swells.


Besides her first combat sortie, delivering “shock and awe” to Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad on this night, Scarlett Mahoney had survived an engine fire and shut-down, single-engine flight, catastrophic hydraulics failure, loss of flight controls, and low-altitude ejection. A water rescue would complete the scenario.

The docs would fix her shoulder. Scarlett would fly again. She would reunite with Patrick.

What more could a girl want?



Chapter Two

March 22, 2003, San Bruno, CA


“Happy birthday, dear Patrick. Happy birthday to you.”

Aunt Colleen set the cake in front of Patrick as his friends and their mothers gathered around the table. He took a big breath and blew with all his might. Four candles went out right away, but he needed a quick second puff to put out the fifth one. Everyone clapped and cheered. Patrick stared past the chocolate-frosted cake to the presents on a side table in the mall’s party room. He couldn’t wait to open them, especially the one in blue wrapping tied with a white ribbon. Aunt Colleen had said Mommy sent it all the way from Eye Rack. That must be far away. Mommy had been gone forever. Why didn’t any of his friends’ mommies ever go to Eye Rack?

His aunt dished out the cake and ice cream. Patrick gobbled it down. Once they all ate, he could open presents. He got mad when some kids wanted seconds.

Time came to open the gifts: a dump truck, an ambulance with flashing lights and a real siren, Power Rangers action figures, a Transformer, and a tablet he could draw on then erase. Aunt Colleen had saved the present from Mommy for last. She made him listen to her read the card first.

“Dear Patrick. Happy birthday. I miss you very much. They don’t have malls or toy stores where I am, but I found something I hope you enjoy. I love you. Mom.”

He tore open the wrappings. His fingers touched something hard and leathery. A strange animal with a long neck and a lump on its back. Patrick wrinkled his face as he turned it over in his hands.

“It’s a leather camel,” Aunt Colleen said. “Camels are animals that live near where Mommy’s ship is. She got it on liberty in Bah Rain.”

Patrick searched all over the animal, but he could not find a switch. Maybe it needed batteries. He didn’t see a battery hole. He tried to move the legs, but they were stiff as pencils. The neck too. He handed it to Aunt Colleen.

“How does it work?”

The mommies giggled.

“It’s a model, a beautiful leather model. It doesn’t move or have batteries. Put in on the shelf in your room so when you look at it, you can think of Mommy.”

Patrick stuck out his lip and turned back to his new Transformer.

Later, Patrick and his best friend, Mei Li, helped her mother and Aunt Colleen pack up the presents. He held onto the leather camel. Outside the party room, he saw a man watching them.

At the mall exit, Aunt Colleen turned to Mei Li’s mother. “I’ll get the car and pick you up here. No point in carrying all this stuff through the garage.”

As soon as Patrick’s aunt left, Mei Li had to go to the bathroom, “real bad.” Her mother sat Patrick on a bench. “Wait right here while I take her to the ladies’ room. Don’t move. Your aunt will be right back.” She took Mei Li’s hand and rushed into the bathroom.

Patrick sat and examined his camel.

“Hi, son.” The same man who had watched them leave the party room. His smile made Patrick shrink against the bench.

The man pointed to the box of presents and the camel in Patrick’s hand. “Someone had a birthday party.”

Patrick nodded.

“How old are you?”

Patrick held up five fingers.

“Five years old. You are a big boy, aren’t you?”

Patrick looked away. He felt like crying.

The man dropped to one knee. “What’s your name?”

Patrick stared at the floor. “Patrick Walker.”

A car pulled up outside, and Aunt Colleen got out.

When Patrick looked back, the man had left.

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“Kick-ass Navy Captain and single-mom, Kate Mahoney, refuses to abide by the old-boy rules as she assumes major Navy leadership while also striving to protect her teenage son across a vast ocean. Sharp, intense, character-driven military action-drama.”

— Jayne Ann Krentz, NYT Best-Selling Author.


“From start to finish this is a solid story and one worth picking up if you enjoy

good military fiction with contemporary themes.”

— Jamie Michele for Readers’ Favorite (5-Star Review)


“Accurate depiction of staff officer conflicts mixed with real time military threats. Great read for both the avid military buff and those who relish a thriller.”

 — Dr. Roland Powers


“Kate Mahoney is a strong military heroine, but not in an unrealistic Hollywood way. A courageous leader, she takes on daunting challenges at work and home.”

— Paula Dunn


“Accurate account of military interactions. Enjoyable read that reflects the geopolitical picture our country faces in the Pacific. Having three daughters, all natural and strong leaders much like Kate Mahoney, the book clearly resonated with me.”

— Mike Mittelman, Rear Admiral (retired), MSC, USN


“As a former female naval officer, I relate to the main character and many of the struggles she endured.”

— Dr. Jodie Spencer


“Complex personal decisions with life-changing ramifications collide with high-stakes international diplomacy and threats of war. You’ll get swept away by the characters on this gripping voyage.”

— Rob Samborn, Award-Winning Author of The Painted Souls Series


“In Krentz’s deft hands, the story moves back and forth in seamless fashion, the scenes building in tension as Kate surmounts one problem only to find another blocks her way. Krentz is a master of pacing and effective shifting of point of view and the reader will be pulled along the tide in this story of a conflicted mom and her even more conflicted son.”

— Susan Paxton


Captain Kathryn “Kate” Mahoney, USN
Call Sign “Scarlett”

Ambitious, strong-willed, patriotic, courageous and assertive, Kate Mahoney was often derided as a “bitch” by the old school naval aviation community. She struggles through dysfunctional relationships, most notably her early toxic marriage to Marine Corps Major Luke Walker. She escaped him thirteen years ago after a bitter confrontation, taking with her their only child, Patrick, now age fourteen. Avoiding serious entanglements ever since, Kate finds her life forever torn between the self-generated demands of a promising Navy career and the responsibilities of single parenthood. She feels distant from her son, and alienated from men. Until she meets…Following a successful tour in command of a fighter/attack jet squadron, Kate arrives at her new position as Seventh Fleet Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Operations, burdened by professional and personal baggage, yet determined to succeed on all fronts. Engaged in thwarting a naval conflict off Korea, she cannot see the demons of her past looming on the horizon.

Patrick Walker
Son of Kate Mahoney and Luke Walker. His mother and father divorced after an acrimonious physical confrontation when Patrick was a year old. By his mother’s choice, he never knew his father, nor anything about the man’s history. The void in his heritage remains a vexing mystery to him, shrouded in his mother’s denial and her refusal to talk about past painful events. Patrick has no insight into his deep-seated psychological angst (and abandonment fear); much less his smoldering anger at his mother for forcing his father away, and then often being gone herself in pursuit of her naval career. Now an emerging teenager confused and seething inside, Patrick is vulnerable to nefarious influence.
Enter “Fuchou.”

Colonel Preston Davis III, USMC
Born into a family of long-standing military heritage, Colonel Davis dedicated his life to honor the memory of his father who died a hero in the early days of the Vietnam war. (Preston was two years old.) Now at the pinnacle of an exceptional military career, he is a respected warrior and an expert on theater security and East Asia affairs. The keystone of the fleet staff, he is a trusted confidante to the chief of staff and admiral. Self-assured, poised, handsome, and incredibly fit, Preston Davis is the quintessential Marine; a future general.
But behind that hardened facade, Preston suffers in silence from PTSD resulting from an attack on forces he led during the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Fearing the career cost of seeking professional help, he resorts to self-medication to ease his psychic pain.

Luke Walker, Major (retired), USMC
Kate’s ex-husband, who suffered permanent physical and psychic trauma from their bitter breakup. No longer deluded by visions of greatness as a Marine aviator, and robbed of his child by a spiteful ex-wife, he disappeared from Kate’s life forever. Yet his specter remains just off stage, watching and waiting.

Captain Leo LeBlanc, USN
Leo LeBlanc has given his life to the United States Navy. A Naval Academy graduate with a stellar record of academic and athletic prowess, he’s used to winning. In the offspring-devouring surface warfare community, Leo earned his ascendency through the ranks to land the plum job as Chief of Staff to the Commander, US 7th Fleet. He expects someday to wear four stars and command the entire Pacific Fleet, maybe the entire US Navy.
    Old school and steeped in naval tradition, Leo has little patience for and less understanding of the “softer” direction of the new Navy. A woman in charge of operations as his deputy chief of staff constitutes a direct threat to his masculinity and his career aspirations. He must eliminate that threat.

Vice Admiral Darnell Lewis, USN
The Seventh Fleet Commander. Larger than life, he arrives on his flagship in a helicopter, as if descending from Heaven through the morning mist. A gifted leader and superior military strategist, he is undisputed master of the western Pacific area of operations. He believes that people are the Navy’s best asset, and he demonstrates that conviction in his dealings with his staff and with wayward officers. The staff reveres and fears him, yet to a man or woman each would take a bullet to keep him in the commander’s chair. Ethics beyond reproach, with a keen sense of mission, he has little patience for blind ambition, political posturing, self-serving cajolery, or dishonesty. A military superstar, he is destined for a fourth star and higher command.

Captain “Doc” Cushing, Medical Corps, USN
Avuncular fleet surgeon, medical adviser to the admiral and his staff, and amateur psychiatrist. He runs an informal counseling service out his stateroom, where many of the fleet leaders come for clinical advice, to seek refuge from the constant stress of operations, or just to vent in a safe place. But the kindly doc suffers from his own inner turmoil. To whom does the counselor turn for help?

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