Blog Tour: In From the Cold (The CASTOFFS, #1) by J.T. Rogers

J.T. Rogers is making her first clubhouse appearance to promote her debut novel, 
In From The Cold. Check out our review here!


“I’m pouring a drink,” Grant said, having removed his hat and dropped it on a rosewood table off the foyer before moving farther into the room.
Flynn, taking the opportunity to look around, trailed after him, intrigued. The fireplace in the den was lit, though the flames burned low. Flynn’s attention was drawn to a frame turned facedown on the mantelpiece. Tastefully framed photographs lined the shelf. Two children, an older girl and a younger boy, both under the age of ten, appeared to be the favorite subjects. The pair of them had Grant’s eyes—expressive, dark, and framed by long lashes. Only the girl shared his coloring, however; the boy was towheaded. Another frame boasted a portrait of a beautiful woman with hair much the same shade; her light eyes crinkled in laughter at some unknown joke. Flynn assumed she was the mother, though he couldn’t recall Grant wearing a wedding ring.
Grant appeared at his elbow and held out a crystal tumbler. Flynn blinked and accepted the scotch, “Thank you” catching in his throat. He felt like he was intruding on something private.
“They’re something else, huh?” said Grant, and through his exhaustion was an obvious pride. He picked up a picture of his daughter. It was a candid shot of her sitting at a piano, intelligent eyes staring directly at the camera, an impish smile on her lips. “Rosemary’s already breaking hearts.”
“You’re married?” Flynn canted his head toward the blonde woman’s portrait.
Grant coughed out a curious noise and distracted himself with his drink. “Yes.”
Flynn’s eyebrows rose, but he didn’t press the matter further. Instead his eyes gravitated back toward the facedown frame. Grant, paying more attention than he was letting on, cleared his throat.
“Dear old dad,” he explained through a strained smile.

“I see you get along well.”

“Yeah. I’m not exactly carrying on the legacy the way he’d hoped.”
Flynn reached up and lifted the picture. It was years old, the Grant there smiling with a less sardonic edge, clean-shaven. The General looked about as cheerful as Flynn had ever seen him, which was to say not much, but nevertheless, he was smiling, in a fashion.
“Because you’re not an officer?”
Grant sniffed, sipped his scotch, and shook his head slightly. His expression wasn’t guarded, merely ambivalent.
“Not for lack of trying, mind. I was primed to enter the Air Force with no resistance and a legacy that would have had me promoted to an O-3 pay grade within a year. Not that I needed it.”
This wasn’t arrogance. Flynn knew arrogance. Grant was considering the picture, not him, and his eyes were shadowed but still caught the firelight enough for Flynn to see the easy indifference in his posture and speech were, in fact, carefully cultivated.
“Didn’t make it, though. Couldn’t get the wings.”

“Color blind?” Flynn guessed.

Grant’s mouth pulled at one corner into a smirk that was lacking in genuine humor but drenched in irony. He soaked a little more with a healthy pull from his glass tumbler.
“Something like that.”

Flynn didn’t bother masking his surprise, as mild a display as it was.
“Yeah, that was about my reaction. Not quite as strong as Pop’s,” Grant muttered, and put the photograph facedown again.
“The OSS, on the other hand, was thrilled,” Grant continued, wandering away from the fireplace to drop down into an oversized leather chair that looked well used. He did it with a sort of thoughtless, easy grace, and Flynn wondered if that was as genuine as the casual indifference had been, or if it was just one more skill Grant had picked up in the long process of cultivating defense mechanisms.
“And, to be honest, I was put to better use there. Maybe it’s not as easy to quantify if it’s good work or not, but I think it was. I think the Agency could be good too.”
“What does the General think?” Flynn asked, curious despite himself, leaning against the replace. He was unwilling to venture any farther from the warmth of the flames than he had to. Grant glanced up at him and over him, probably trying to judge the sincerity of the question, and looked down again with a faint shrug.
“About what you’d expect. He likes the quantifiable. Or, at least, he likes things to be more... directly so.” The distant sound of cars on the bridge and the pop of the flames in the fireplace were the only sounds in the room.
“Tell me about the man on the roof,” Grant said, lifting his head. Flynn turned his focus to the fire.
“With certainty, I can’t. I didn’t see his face. I didn’t engage him in combat. We have no concrete evidence of his identity. We don’t even have a real guess. It’s just whispers and coincidence.”
“But that’s not what your gut’s telling you,” Grant countered, and Flynn felt his jaw tighten. His molars gripped each other until his mouth ached.
“No,” he said, the word feeling harsh in his throat. The thoughts striving to be voiced felt surreal and wild. “No, my gut’s telling me that Ollie’s footwork is taking us in the right direction.”
“Toward this Soviet boogeyman?”

“Toward Sergeant Wesley Pike.”

Grant frowned, shaking himself from a moment’s stillness to lean forward. His elbows rested on his knees.
“An American?”
“Canadian. I met him the summer of ’42. We had both been brought in for the 1st Special Service Force, the—” Flynn’s voice caught on the nickname. “—Devil’s Brigade. We shared sleeping quarters with two other men. They had us mixed up, the Canadians and the Americans, commissioned. Didn’t matter. Nothing about the Force was usual. They made it clear from the minute we got there. Had us jumping out of planes two days in. They needed to know, fast as they could, which of us were staying and who was going home. Wes and I were the last to jump—just chance that we’d be on the same bird. He hated it.” Flynn huffed out a breath that, in another lifetime, might have resembled a laugh. He dropped his head and rubbed the worry knot between his brows with a knuckle.
“Flying. Didn’t trust the planes, didn’t trust the chutes, hated the whole idea. But he wouldn’t back down—would never have squandered his chance to be part of the Force. And besides, he knew—” Flynn shook his head slightly and pulled a deeper swig of the scotch than it was intended for. It had been so damn long since he’d even said Wes’s name aloud, let alone talked about him. Really talked.
“He knew it would have to happen, eventually. That part of performing his duty would mean it had to be done. So he did it. Funny thing is, the Force never did a drop. We jumped out of a lot of moving vehicles over the years, don’t get me wrong, but never a plane. Wes was a crack shot. A sniper. Best I’d seen. Best I’d heard of. He’d get so bored with it that he started setting goals—ridiculous shit. If he’d been any less a marksman, it would have been a dangerous kind of arrogance, but he wasn’t.”
Flynn finished the rest of the rich, amber drink with one swallow and set the glass on the mantle. He stared at the way the cool midmorning winter light and the hot, white-orange flickers from the replace got caught in the angles of the crystal.
“So every target got his throat shot out, and they started whispering about him, superstitious, the way men get. Started calling Wes the Aufhocker. Like he was some kind of demon. Some kind of ghost.”
He could see it so clearly—the line of Wes’s mouth as it turned up, abashed but pleased, equal parts smug and embarrassed; the messy fall of his hair after he’d shoved his hand back through, shrugging off the other men’s laughs and teasing; the tone in his voice when they’d discussed it later, standing in the snow, breath clouding up into the clear mountain air. Hell of a thing to call a person, Bobby.
Something Flynn had spent years wrapping up and burying away and forgetting, felt like it had broken open inside his chest and begun to spill everywhere. He was hemorrhaging memories, all the empty places inside him filling with them. He didn’t even notice Grant had moved until the man’s hand was at his elbow, his face close and not just calculating but genuinely concerned. Flynn cleared his throat. Shaking himself slightly, he tried to lose the onslaught of vivid memories clamoring for recognition from the fore of his mind.
“Flynn,” Grant murmured, and Flynn looked at him, steadying himself, unwilling to fall any further apart—at least where anyone could see.
“When they disbanded the Force, he burned his credentials—lied—to follow me into the next fight.”
“Flynn, I’m sorry,” Grant said. His voice was soft and as warm as the hand still cupped against Flynn’s elbow. Maybe sincerity was just another mechanism the man had been forced to study in his work with the CIA, but the words resonated somewhere in a newly opened hollow of Flynn’s patched-together soul, and Flynn felt discomfitingly grateful.
They were close—too close, perhaps. Flynn’s eyes dropped, catching the tempting fullness of Grant’s bottom lip. Grant stepped closer, his hand smoothing up Flynn’s arm. Flynn could smell the scotch on his breath, the lingering notes of aftershave—he wanted to drink it in, drown in the infuriating storm that was Alexander Grant, just for a moment, just long enough to numb the ache in his chest and replace it with a new hurt. Flynn leaned in.
“It’s late,” Grant murmured, and the words were like a wave of ice water. Flynn inched, flushed as he pulled away. His hands shook as he let them fall to his sides.
“Of course.”
He put some distance between them, though he was conscious of Grant’s stare no matter where he moved.
Grant seemed to weigh something before he spoke again. “The guest room’s down the hall. Mr. Cartwright will have seen to it that you find everything you need.”
Flynn nodded dumbly, not trusting himself to speak until he was halfway out of the room.
“Good night, Mr. Grant.”
“Good night, Flynn.”
Robert Flynn abandoned a sterling military career when his best friend and fellow soldier, Wesley Pike, died under his command. More than a decade later, Flynn’s quiet life is disturbed by the troubles of a fledgling CIA and Alexander Grant, a flashy agent with a lot to prove. As the space race between the United States and the Soviets heats up and the body count rises, the two men fight to find common ground. Grant knows Flynn believes in the cause, but all Flynn sees is the opportunity to fail someone like he failed Wes. An attack by a Soviet agent spurs Flynn to action and a reluctant association with the agency, and tilts Flynn’s world on its axis with a shocking discovery: Wesley Pike may be alive and operating as a Soviet assassin.

With Grant to bankroll the operation, his superiors looking the other way, and Flynn’s hard-earned peace officially forfeit, Flynn reunites his old team with the singular goal of finding Wes. But they get more than they bargained for—Wes is amnesiac and dangerous, brainwashed into becoming the perfect weapon. Flynn struggles to reach his friend, lead his team, and navigate his charged relationship with Grant—something neither of them expected and aren’t sure how to parse—while coming to grips with his long-buried feelings for Wes.

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About the Author:

J.T. Rogers grew up wanting to be either a superhero or a spy—but rather than pick one over the other, she chose to become a writer instead so she could be both in her spare time. Her fiction reflects her childhood obsessions, blending together the distrustful, cloak-and-dagger world of spies with the high-octane action and camaraderie of her favorite superheroes.

The product of a bilingual education and an alumna of a handful of universities, J.T.’s passions include history, comic books, and Shakespeare. She has lived all over North America and loves to weave threads of authentic local color into her stories. Just ask her about Lucy the Elephant.

Currently, she’s living the dream of being overworked and underpaid. She writes to stay sane—or that’s the story she likes to tell, at least.


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