This week’s I Love Romance Blog review selection is The Homecoming by Tammy Tate. Once I started this one, I just kept reading – great beginning to the series!
The book jumps right into the story and I definitely appreciate that. Sometimes you just want the meat and potatoes. Sydney is goin’ on a trip. More specifically, she’s going to stay with her aunt and her pack of wolf shifters at their home on the outskirts of New Orleans. After Sydney’s mother died, her human father knew that he couldn’t help her transition, so she reluctantly agrees to go.
Her dreams have been wreaking havoc, though. It’s the same dream over and over and it always leaves her wanting.
Kyle and his best friend Beau are living the life – working, fishing, and running. But, one of them isn’t sleeping that well either.
In a story full of action, adventure, love, romance, sex, shifters, and yes, vampires – you will definitely be hooked, too.
For all this and so much more that you’ll have to discover when you read it – I give The Homecoming By Tammy Tate 5 HEARTS!
Sydney is half human, half wolf and has fallen in love with Kyle, a full-fledged shifter who for the last six months has been appearing in her dreams. During the next full moon, she will make her first shift from human to wolf. The transformation won’t be easy. It could leave her disfigured. Or, worse. Dead.
Kyle is in Bayou Fontaine. For the sake of the pack, the council has already chosen him a mate. Sydney and Kyle face incredible odds to be together and soon become pawns in a deadly game of survival.
Giving into his wolf’s need for love could risk the quiet life Frank has created for himself—and his heart…
I am pleased to announce a cool book blog tour going on right now, presented by Aidee Ladnier, an author I met during my journey! Congratulations on your new MM paranormal romance!
When a new book comes out, it is always an exciting time for authors!
Plus, here at the I Love Romance Blog, we love discovering new romance novels!
Let’s hear a little about this great book…
This is the blurb for Wolf Around the Corner:
Frank’s family taught him that his wolf was dangerous, unwanted. Now his best friend’s brother wants him in bed and on stage. But giving into his wolf’s need for love could risk the quiet life Frank has created for himself—and his heart.
Settled in the small town of Waycroft Falls, Frank is content to be a lone wolf among the white picket fences and dollar book bins until he finds himself sniffing his best friend’s brother. Tom smells like hot apple pie and his Broadway smile has Frank lolling his tongue. But when the visiting actor learns Frank’s secret and plies him with hot kisses to get him to star in his play, Frank can’t help but wonder if Tom is only acting.
Tom ran away from family obligations to be a Broadway star. If he could make it there, he could make it anywhere…but he didn’t. Trudging home to Waycroft Falls to open his sister’s new performance space brings him face to face with a werewolf—a werewolf that would be perfect for Tom’s shoestring production of Beauty and the Beast. Staying in Tiny Town USA would be worth it if he can somehow convince the sexy wolf to expose his furry condition on stage and howl privately in Tom’s bed.
Wolf Around The Corner, a paranormal semi-finalist in Passionate Ink’s 2017 Sexy Scribbles Contest, is a full-length fairytale romance with a side of wolf shifter. If you like your romance with gorgeous men, humor, and small town magic, you’ll love Wolf Around the Corner! Buy your copy now and settle in to watch the drama unfold!
Ann is giving us a peek at her LGBT paranormal shifter romance, Wolf Around the Corner, today.
Genre: Paranormal Romance, MM Romance, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 3, 2018
Here is an excerpt.
The first thing he always did was take a large lungful of air. It reoriented him to the outside. His animal cataloged the smells—car exhaust, grass, tree pollen, and wait, a mouse skittering in the Dumpster out back. Frank’s urge to run built. He circled the apartments, looking for the storm drain near the landscaping wall. Inside him, his animal wiggled in excitement at the prospect of being freed. Frank shucked his clothes behind the wall and tucked them into the shelter of the pipe, out of view. Then he shifted, his hands lengthening, hair sprouting, and muzzle growing. His point of view shortened, now three feet from the ground as he blinked through the eyes of his wolf-like animal. Frank couldn’t stand still any longer. He sprang into the woods.
Frank ran, crashing through the underbrush and into the darkening shelter of the trees. He leaped over a shrub, felt the give of a sapling as he plowed through the brushwood. The animals and birds quieted at his loud, headlong dash, knowing he wasn’t of the forest, only disguised and playing at being a creature of the wood.
His paws skidded on a pile of old leaves. Frank almost lost his balance as he skipped up and over a fallen log. Around him, the scents of the forest all pushed in on him. Here a whiff of mold, there an astringent sniff of decay, everywhere the menthol of evergreen sap and wild herbs growing scattered on the forest floor.
Dry twigs snapped beneath his paws. His tongue lolled from his mouth, the fresh taste of the woods painting the back of his throat. The sun dipped below the horizon, the sky inking the tops of the trees. And Frank ran on until his limbs stopped, shaky and trembling. He collapsed onto a blanket of pine needles and leaves, moss and fungi cradling him as he panted.
As he caught his breath, the sounds of the woods lapped back around him. Insects and birds first. A harsh caw from a crow shrieked a hundred yards to his right. The chirp of a cricket sawed a few feet away. The rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker echoed above. And the still of twilight calmed him.
When he’d rested enough that his legs would support him again, Frank began the slow jog back to the apartments, letting his nose guide him through the darkening visibility of the woods. He could smell Mrs. Reynolds’s nighttime cocoa, and Mr. Reynolds’s liniment that stank of capsaicin. The lighted windows of the apartment building led him the last few feet, and he scurried up to the storm drain.
But his clothes weren’t there.
The sky darkened into night.
Frank knew Mrs. Anderson was out, but he could try to get the elderly Reynolds couple to buzz him inside. And hope they didn’t ask why he was naked trotting up the stairs.
Or he could stay in wolf form without a tag, which meant a night outside running from animal control and/or dodging every human that would mistake him for a stray dog.
Or wait, a third option. There was an oak that almost reached the ledge of his apartment window on the second floor. He never bothered to lock the window. Frank shifted back to human and sprinted across the yard.
He leaped for the lower boughs of the tree, grunting as the bark dug into the flesh of his palms. Frank swung himself up to straddle a branch, regretting it as the rough wood scraped his thighs. He crouched in the tree, awkwardly trying to shield his more delicate parts from the smaller whiplike twigs. He skirted around the trunk, grimacing as a low branch brushed a little too close to his groin. There. He was now on the side that faced the apartment house.
Frank balanced upright, his arms pinwheeling until he caught another branch higher up to steady himself. The leaves around him shivered on their stalks, the rustling loud. Please don’t let Mrs. Reynolds look out her window.
Using the taller branch as a guide, Frank placed one bare foot in front of the other and inched away from the security of the trunk. The limb beneath his feet shook as his weight tested its strength. He slid a foot farther out on the branch. It dipped, the leaves at the tip brushing against the side of his window. Just a few feet more.
An ominous crack sounded beneath him, and Frank froze. The branch popped again. It wouldn’t hold. He could make a jump for it. Frank swallowed hard. He should make a jump for it.
Frank jumped. And missed the house, falling into the azalea bushes.
Just as his hunky new neighbor from across the hall walked out of the apartment building and down the front steps.
Frank had seen Tom in the hall that morning, carrying boxes. Trying to be neighborly, Frank had introduced himself and offered to help. Tom had turned Frank down but flashed the whitest, most even teeth at him. Frank had seen nothing whiter outside of a movie theater big screen. They’d exchanged pleasantries, commented on the weather, and then gone their separate ways. Or rather, that was what Frank wished had happened. What went down was:
“Need help?” Frank barely got the words out when his new neighbor turned in the doorway. Frank froze. God, the man was gorgeous.
“Naw, man. I got it.” Tom shifted the box in his arms to hold out his hand. “I’m Tom Davidson.”
Frank wiped a clammy hand on his jeans and shook Tom’s hand. “Hot.” And Frank knew his mouth had disclosed the exact thing his brain was thinking. Idiot. Who said that to a guy he’d just met? A guy like Tom already knew he was hot.
Tom tilted his head as if he hadn’t heard Frank right. “Yeah. The temperatures are a little warm for this time of year.”
Frank didn’t dare correct him and kept his mouth shut, afraid he’d say something worse.
“Okay, well then, see you around, Frank.” Tom chuckled and continued into his apartment.
Meanwhile Frank beat it down the stairs, unsure how he managed not to walk into traffic as his mind ran over the exchange fail again and again.
So yeah. That was the less than stellar first impression he’d given Tom this morning. And now Frank followed that up by hunkering down naked in the azalea bushes.
“Are you okay?” The gleam from the safety light caught Tom’s dark gold hair as he tilted his head to peer over the shrubs. The shadows sank into his chiseled cheekbones. He looked like a brooding movie star ready to sweep a celluloid damsel off her feet.
Too bad Frank was a naked man trying to keep from exposing himself. Frank crouched down farther, making himself as small as possible, hoping the azalea’s pink blooms would distract Tom from looking at his hairy backside.
“Are you sure?” Tom leaned closer. “Are you… Do you have any clothes on?”
Frank racked his brain for some reason he’d be naked and hiding in the bushes. “Um, I, uh, just got out of the shower, and I leaned too far out my window.”
“Oh my God. Did you fall from that height?” Tom glanced up to the second floor, to Frank’s closed window and then back down. “Do you need an ambulance?”
Frank sighed. This conversation was only getting worse. Cupping his hands over his privates, Frank rose from behind the bushes.
“I’m okay. Just need to get back inside. I have a hidden key if you can get me past the front security door.”
Tom’s eyes widened when Frank stood. Frank winced, sure he looked like one long scrape covered in leaves. He blew at the hair in his eyes. A twig dangled, caught in an auburn strand, but Frank was unwilling to expose himself to yank it out.
“Sure. Sure.” Tom fumbled for his key and opened the door. Frank half hopped over the acorns and chestnut burrs to slide past Tom. Tom wrinkled his nose as Frank passed. Good old wet dog smell. It always clung to him after a run in the woods.
Frank took the stairs two at a time to escape.
After a shower and shave—why did going furry always lead to needing a shave? The rest of his hair receded. Why didn’t his beard?—Frank spent thirty minutes in front of his bathroom mirror, trying to psych himself up to knock on Tom’s door and invite him over the next day for coffee or to watch football. He scratched behind an ear, feeling the healing scab from a graze he’d gotten when he’d fallen into the azalea bushes. Staring at his reflection, he tried to look earnest and approachable. He could do this. He had game.
“Hey, I know you don’t know many people in town, and I’m a loser, but would you like to spend time with me?” Frank made a face at himself. Probably shouldn’t label yourself as a loser.
“Yo, you want to watch football? No, how about basketball? Baseball? No? What about Mexican wrestlers?” Oh God, what if Tom doesn’t like sports?
“I ordered two large pizzas by mistake tonight, and I could use some help, or I’ll be gorging on pepperoni for a week.”
Lame. Frank’s own gaunt features stared back at him from the mirror. Who was he kidding? He’d always be the guy who lost the genetic lottery and ended up with the family curse.
Galen’s syndrome was rare, only affecting about one in 2,000, but well-known enough that most people had at least heard of it. The Greek surgeon Galen had coined the word lycanthropy to explain the shape-shifting curse that traveled down through a family tree. Like most recessive gene disorders, it only manifested when two genes were passed down to a child, leading early scholars to think the afflicted had been re-cursed or spared for a generation due to divine providence. It was only with modern medicine that curses were found to be attached to DNA, breaking and molding chromosomes like magical radiation. But despite better understanding of the disorder, the stigma remained, not helped by the occasional local television feature linking the disorder to werewolf mythology.
All Frank knew was the recessive curse gene made him even more different from his family. He’d already been pushing it when he came out as gay. Turning into a wolf at sixteen had been…well, more than his father and stepmother could handle. She wanted to protect the kids, she told him. He loved his half siblings, didn’t he? It wasn’t safe to have a wild animal around children.
It had gutted him. They turned him out of his own home. He’d been angry. He’d done something stupid, lashing out, snapping at his sister Robbie. It still hurt, remembering the tears on his baby sister’s face, her eyes wide and scared. Of him. It was then he knew his stepmother had been right. Dangerous animals didn’t belong in a family. So he’d left, traveling all the way across the state until he landed in Waycroft Falls. It had been hard that first year. There were a lot of adult things he still hadn’t figured out.
Like how to ask out a guy who he hadn’t known his whole life. Moving from one small town to another had been a bad idea. Frank bonked his head against the mirror, gazing down into the white porcelain sink. He rubbed at a stray hair that clung to the side.
But on the plus side, small towns meant he rarely needed a car. And he could shift and run if he needed. He should take his clothes with him.
Without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Aidee Ladnier, who has some things to say about the book at hand.
Hi, Aidee! ♥ A pleasure you could drop in for a brief chat.
Wolf shifters are very popular. In fact, there are thousands of books out there in this genre. Inquiring minds want to know…
How do you write a shifter story that stands out as distinctive and original? What will readers find in Wolf Around the Corner that’s new and exciting?
Aidee: Hi! And thanks for having me on your blog. 🙂
This is a great question! Actually, the shifter book saturation issue is why I never thought I’d write a werewolf protagonist. I’ve read a lot of werewolf books and most of the shifter tropes like alpha males, the wolf pack in danger, and fated mates never appealed to me as an author.
But then I imagined a world where lycanthropy was treated more like a very rare medical condition. I renamed the malady Galen’s Syndrome, using the medical convention of naming a disease after the first person to describe it. In late antiquity, the Greek physician Galen described a patient with a ravenous appetite and other qualities of a wolf. If I made Galen’s Syndrome a condition that appeared in less than 1 in 2,000 individuals, it would classify it as a rare disorder and 80% of rare disorders have a genetic component. So I could keep a bit of the magic of werewolves; I made my shifter the possessor of a genetic curse. In other words, if someone is cursed with lycanthropy, the curse becomes a mutation passed down as a recessive gene. Therefore, although individuals could become carriers of the curse and still be normal, if someone gets the recessive cursed gene from each parent, they’ll be able to shift into a wolf.
So I have my werewolf, but I’m still not fond of the shifter tropes. Just to be contrary, I set out to make his story the opposite of all the shifter romance conventions. My shifter, Frank Braden, is insecure and awkward—the opposite of an alpha. He also doesn’t have a pack. In fact, he doesn’t have any friends with the same disorder and he’s even been asked to leave his family home because his father and stepmother are afraid he’ll be a danger to his half-siblings. He’s essentially, a lone wolf. And there are no fated mates in this universe. I love the idea of a fated mate, but if I personally have to go through the embarrassing and excruciating dating dance, I’m going to make sure my characters do too. I won’t give my protagonists any shortcuts to love.
I also made my werewolf the lead actor in a theatrical version of Beauty and the Beast. I’ve known several actors and the transformation scene for this particular fable has always been either to use a mask or a double to allow the main character to run off stage and take off their makeup. I thought a director might faint with joy at having a real life werewolf shift onstage during the transformation scene. Who wouldn’t buy a ticket to see that? Especially in a world where many people think werewolves are folktales. The play would be part sideshow and part theater. Which leads to a built-in conflict—because there’s a person behind that transformation, not just a spectacle to gawk at. I wanted to raise the moral question of how a director could both have an actor use a special trait without making them feel used. Where do you draw the line at exploitation and performance?
But, the book is still very light-hearted and sweet. I grew up in a small town and tried to put my favorite things about small towns in the fictional Waycroft Falls. From niche bookstores, to strange statues, and Founder’s Day bed races. Frank and Tom’s romance doesn’t run smooth, but it does skip along awkwardly to a hopeful beat.
Ooh…it sounds like a sexy, fun tale!
Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the writing experience of Wolf Around the Corner. 😉
Aidee is giving away a $5 Amazon GC, $10 Amazon GC, Ebooks from her backlist, and print books from her backlist. The winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Please use the RaffleCopter link below to enter. Don’t forget you have a chance to enter every day, so be sure to visit all the stops on this tour. You may find those locations here.
Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, believes that adventure is around every corner. In pursuit of new experiences she’s worked as a magician’s assistant, been a beauty pageant contestant, ridden in hot air balloons, produced independent movies, hiked up a volcano, and is a proud citizen scientist. A lover of genre fiction, Aidee’s perfect romance has a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.
Today, we’re doing something a little different. I know it’s been a while since we did one of these. If you remember, we interviewed Linda Diane Wattley’s character back on October 24th, and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Remy Marie, the author of Jason’s Awakening, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Trini Davos, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Remy in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Trini!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Trini. Please have a seat.
Character Trini Davos: Thank you for having me, Marie.
Marie: Of course! It’s my pleasure!
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Trini: Right now I work in the Meekins sheriff’s department. I am a deputy sheriff; however, before I moved to Meekins I worked in retail, selling video games and comics at a store call Geek Haven.
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Trini: It’s a typical American family. I’m an only child, so it was always the three of us. My mom is very supportive of my lifestyle, however my father, not too much. While he’s not supportive of my life choices, I know he loves me. It comes with the territory, I guess. I miss them, though. Since my change, we’ve been forbidden to visit anyone in our past lives to keep the werewolf secret.
Marie: Oh, no! How unfortunate! 😦
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Trini: I grew up in a trailer park. My parents still live in the same double-wide that I grew up in.
Marie: All right.
Do you have any hobbies, Trini? What do you enjoy doing?
Trini: I am huge geek, like my friends Mohinder and Jason. Therefore, I love playing video games, watching movies, and reading comics and drawing my own heroes. Jason and I once had an idea to start our own comic book. I would do the drawing, while he would write it. We couldn’t come up with anything original, but it was fun just to hang out with him. I’m a huge fan of punk rock as well. If you looked on my Ipod right now, it would contain Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Blink 182.
Marie: Nice! 😉
So, what is your greatest dream?
Trini: That’s a good question. Before everything that happened to me, I was unsure. I was with a deadbeat boyfriend working a retail job that was going nowhere. However, after my transformation, I feel like I can do anything now. You know? I see myself settling down. I wouldn’t mind having kids, but also I wouldn’t mind becoming sheriff of Meekins. I sort of like being a cop.
Marie: (Nods.) Well, I think you can do whatever you put your mind to…
Let’s try another question.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Trini: I want to be able to protect the ones I love. I never want to see one of my friends or a loved one die again. What’s stopping me? Well, it’s harder to do than explained. If I could be everywhere, I could. Even I’m not fast enough for that. Perhaps it’s a job for Superman or the Flash, depending on who I think is faster.
Marie: It’s understandable to want to keep bad things from happening. I guess the reality is we just can’t. 😦
Okay, I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Trini: I would have to say Tobey Maguire from the first Spiderman. However, my first kiss was with Ben Thomas, in sixth grade underneath the bleachers.
Marie: Aww. So sweet. I remember those young crushes. ♥
So…not to be a downer, but I do have a pretty deep question next.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Trini: I would have to say that night in the woods, when we were attacked by the werewolf in white. I’ve never been so afraid before. We lost a good friend that night.
Marie: Oh no! 😦 I’m so sorry. That must’ve been difficult.
[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Trini: As a kid I always wanted to be an astronaut; it was a dream of mine to travel through space and discover planets and such. My dad was a huge Trekkie, so naturally, I liked Star Trek as well. That is where the dream originated. However, over time, I realized that to be an astronaut you have to learn multiple levels of science and math. Something that I’m terrible at. So that dream was dead. After high school, I started working at Geek Haven, and my dreams sort of disappeared until I met Jason. Jason and Mohinder got me out of that funk, made me see past my current life, towards the future.
Marie: Nice! So, who is your role model, Trini?
Trini: Jason Barton; he’s the love of my life, and I thank God that I’ve found him. However, he’s not only that. He’s the sweetest person you could ever meet. His compassion for others is one I strive to copy each and every day.
Marie: How admirable!
Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Trini: I would have to say Rose, but that’s a long story I don’t feel like getting into.
Marie: All right.
Let’s try another question.
What is your deepest desire?
Trini: I would love for everyone to find their happiness. That includes Greg when he gets in his moods, Jennifer and Mohinder when they have their child, and Jason and me as we begin our new life together.
Marie: Can’t blame you there! I think we all want our loved ones to be content in life…
So, tell me something, Trini. What is your greatest fear?
Trini: That’s easy. Death. I know it sounds taboo, for someone who can now live up to four hundred years, but my life is suddenly so violent. Before the transformation, I’ve rarely ever got in a fight. Now it’s seems like every month, there’s a new deadly challenge that threatens the people that I love and me.
Marie: A lot of people fear death. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. The unknown is often scary. And, of course, for your situation, it increases tenfold. I understand that it must be extremely difficult to feel so uncertain about life.
But, I’m so glad you were comfortable enough to tell me everything.
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Trini. It was so interesting getting to know you! 🙂
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Remy Marie on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Remy!
Author Remy Marie: Hi, Marie! Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
Marie: Of course! I love to have authors on ILRB. 😀
So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Trini Davos. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Remy: When you first get a look at Trini Davos, you will typecast her as a goth/geek. However, there’s a lot more to Trini. Each tattoo she has tells a story. For instance, her Powerpuff girls tattoo, on her left arm, is the first tattoo she’s ever gotten. She’s a huge geek who isn’t afraid to talk comics or superheroes with anyone. Her favorite video game is Street Fighter vs. Marvel, and she was ranked in top 100 in the game online. She loves to listen to punk rock, and has a strong sense of adventure. If you ever dared Trini to do something, she would try it without thinking of the consequences.
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Remy: That’s easy. It’s her bravery. Trini will jump in a burning building without thinking for one of her friends.
Marie: Wow! Such loyalty…
And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?
Remy: I would have to say her trust in people. When Trini first meets someone, they instantly become friends, due to Trini’s friendly nature. However, Trini is often blindsided by the people she trusts, and she takes it hard on herself.
Marie: I see.
Let’s try something fun, shall we?
What are some of Trini’s favorite foods?
Remy: Trini is a fan of anything with Nutella on it. A typical breakfast for her is a banana covered with Nutella, along with toast covered in Nutella.
Marie: (Laughs.) I am a chocaholic too!
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Remy: I think the one quality that Trini is unaware of is her loyalty. If you’re friends with Trini, she will have your back no matter what. She will take a punch and throw a punch for any one of her friends in a heartbeat.
Marie: That’s commendable!
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Remy: I think many people would like Trini. She was one of my favorite characters to write. She was easy to write due to how many layers she has in her character.
Now that we have a real taste of Trini, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Jason’s Awakening?
Remy: Honestly, it started off as a superhero novel. The three characters, Jason, Trini, and Mohinder were all still there, but the entire plot was different. My wife gave me the idea, of making it a paranormal romance novel instead. So, I rewrote the entire plot and came up with other details as I wrote it.
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Remy: I would say it’s a little of both. Jason’s Awakening was a mixture of plotting and just writing. I feel like that’s a perfect combination. I like to let the story flow without having a structured outline. When I’m writing the rough draft, sometimes what I write there is better material I came up with than when I outline it.
Marie: (Smiles.) I know what you mean…sometimes I think the characters are directing the story more than I am.
How about another question?
So, now I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Jason’s Awakening or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Remy:I would say getting the funds to have it professionally edited and beta read was a challenge. As an indie author, you have to pay for all of it. It’s even worse, when it’s your debut novel, and you don’t have a name for yourself. It seems like I spend more time marketing my book than actually writing it.
Marie: (Groans.) Oh, me too!
Remy: What I would do differently is have more beta readers. I only had three for this book, and at the time, I thought it was enough, however some reviews have been blunt on my mistakes and I wish I would have caught them before I published. With more beta readers, I think we could’ve made a good book amazing.
Marie: Right! The editing stage is quite a challenge.
Thanks for the additional tips aimed toward our aspiring writers out there!
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Jason’s Awakening appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this paranormal romance by Remy Marie, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for Jason’s Awakening:
Jason Barton isn’t your typical hero. In fact, his small frame, high IQ, and deep compassion for others keeps him in the friend zone most of the time. But despite his anti-hero traits, he still has a one-track mind when it comes to women – mainly the one who has been by his side for the last five years.
Trini Davos is the polar opposite of Jason. She’s a brave, Goth geek, who never met a problem she couldn’t solve. But a brazen attack by a group of rogue werewolves changes everything for her and her long-time friend. They narrowly escape death only to discover that wild beasts are the least of their troubles. An unlikely romance may prove to be the biggest challenge of all for them.
Jason’s Awakening offers a fresh take on the paranormal romance genre. Filled with non-stop action, steamy romance, and twists no one will see coming, this book will keep the reader hooked from start to finish.
Remy is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
Gradually, the couple neared a lingerie boutique. Jason couldn’t help but to look inside as he saw the mannequin bust of women displaying the latest lingerie style. There was a particular underwear brand that caught Jason’s attention. It was a pink lace thong with a strappy front and cheeky back. The longer Jason stared, the more he imagined Trini wearing the same article of clothing. Trini suddenly broke Jason’s attention by squeezing his hand.
“You know I have that one. It’s in black,” she added with a devilish grin.
“Wait, a what?” Jason muttered as he was awkwardly awakened from his sexual fantasy.
“I have that style in black,” Trini repeated. “I bought it two weeks ago when it went on sale. It’s a nice fit. I got this month’s catalog yesterday too. Did you want to go inside with me to see their new styles?”
“Are you not hungry?” Jason asked nervously.
“Food can wait. I just got paid this week. Come on, it would be fun. We are just going to take a quick look.” Trini proceeded to drag Jason into the store.
There were countless women in the boutique. There were some men. Most looked annoyed as they watched their partners search for the latest deals. Jason was the opposite. All of his life, he had always walked past this store and not ever gone in, he never had a reason to; today changed that reason.
Trini dragged Jason to the new arrivals section of the store as Trini browsed the new undergarment line. She muttered to herself as she brought up each underwear style and held it up to the light. She finally decided on a black satin push up bra laced with gold trimming and a golden laced black thong.
“What do you think about this?” Trini asked as she placed the bra and underwear over the clothing she had on.
Jason felt his heartbeat quicken. The longer he stared at the outfit, the more he felt his sexual desire grow for Trini. Jason finally managed to stutter, “It looks good, and do you like it?”
“I do, but you can never be too sure about these things. Come with me,” Trini said as she grabbed hold of Jason’s arm. She brought him to the fitting room location where a store clerk stood waiting.
“Men are not allowed in the dressing room,” the store clerk barked. She was an average size woman. She looked like she had already worked two full shifts as her hair was lazily placed into a ponytail.
“Actually, I wanted to come over and say that there is a woman over there who said she needed your help,” Trini said as she pointed to an older lady at the corner of the store.
“Why didn’t she come and ask for help directly from me then?”
“I don’t know? Listen, I work in retail. I know how customers are. Total bitches. I’m just trying to help you get a sale for the commission.”
A smile appeared on the woman’s face. “I do need the extra money, thanks for looking out,” she replied as she left her post.
Trini smiled darkly as she watched the store clerk approached the older lady.
“Okay, the coast is clear. Come on,” Trini said as she dragged Jason into the dressing room.
“Trini, we shouldn’t, what if we get caught,” Jason replied, worried.
“Oh, come on, you wuss. Where is your sense of adventure?” She dragged Jason into an open dressing room and closed the door right after they entered. She gave a flirtatious smile to Jason. “All right, now turn around.”
“Wait, what about Kyle?”
“It’s cool; you’re not seeing me naked or anything. It’s like seeing me in a two-piece. You’ve already seen that before. We’ve known each other for five years. That’s five years of seeing me in a bikini, right?”
“You see? Nothing to worry about, now turn,” Trini commanded as she grabbed Jason’s shoulders and turned him in the opposite direction. Jason stared at the white wall as he waited for Trini to change. Jason began to stare at the sloppy graffiti written on the wall when he started to notice Trini’s articles of clothing being thrown to the ground. First, it was her tank top, followed by her bra.
She’s topless right now, Jason thought as he felt the sexual urge grow deep within him. Her dark blue skirt and underwear were discarded next. Jason felt his blood pump faster as he realized she was completely nude behind him. Jason felt his manhood grow stiff as he fantasied about turning around and seeing what Trini’s body looked like at the moment. What I would give to see her now. Jason heard shuffling and the sound of Trini trying on the undergarments.
“All right, you can turn around now. What do you think?” Trini asked as she placed her hands on her hips, modeling the outfit.
Jason had to clench down on his teeth to keep his mouth from dropping. His throat grew dry as he looked at her desirable figure. Jason looked at every curve of her body as his eyes scanned her breasts being pushed up by her bra. Her pale bosoms looked twice as large in her satin bra. His glance made his way down to her stomach. Jason noticed she was trembling as he looked at her flat stomach. Her belly button was pierced with a black U shaped piercing.
I always liked that piercing. He finally made it to her thong, which displayed her toned shaped thighs. She slowly turned around and showed the cheeky backside of the thong. Her pale legs trembled with anticipation, as Jason inspected her. He ogled her sculptured buttock as it gently curved into a muscular shape. The thong fit her body perfectly as it showed a healthy amount of skin but still kept the mystery.
God, she looks sexy, Jason thought as he fought the temptation to touch her.
“So?” Trini asked once more.
“Ugh, you look amazing, or as Mohinder would say smashing,” Jason replied, using Mohinder’s British accent. Trini let out a small laugh at Jason’s comments. “It suits you. I think you should get it.”
“Thanks, I like it too, but I think I’m going to wait till it goes on sale. Are you ready to head out?”
A part of me wants to stay and watch her model more, but I have broken so many friend codes today. Slowly, Jason nodded in agreement.
“Let’s go and get some dinner,” Jason suggested.
“Yeah, let’s go.” Trini gave an irresistible grin to Jason as she used her finger to tell him to turn around. Once Trini was done changing, she placed the undergarments back on a return hanger and left the dressing room. As they left the store, the store clerk gave the couple a dirty look as she realized that she was duped in Trini’s scheme. The couple snickered as they left the store together.
After passing a few more stores, they were at their final destination. G&Fs was a large chain restaurant with a large arcade section in the restaurant as well. Jason loved this restaurant but didn’t eat there often because of how expensive it was.
Mohinder’s twenty dollars should help with the cost, though, Jason thought as he walked inside with Trini. After greeting the hostess, she led Trini and Jason to their table. Once they sat down, she smiled and placed the menus on the wooden table.
“Your server should be with you soon.” She smiled at the couple as she walked away.
“Thank you,” Jason replied as he opened his menu. “What did you want to get?” Jason asked Trini as he searched the menu.
“I like their beer and play special. You know the one where you pick two appetizers and get a bucket of beer and fifty tokens for games. Did you want to do that?”
“Yeah, that sounds amazing,” Jason replied.
“Great, I was thinking of getting the mozzarella sticks.”
“Nice choice as usual. Let’s add chicken spring rolls.”
“Yum, sounds good to me,” Trini responded. When the waiter arrived, Jason placed the order while Trini checked her phone for messages. Once he was done ordering, Jason placed his attention back to Trini.
“Everything okay?” Jason asked
“Yeah, it’s just Kyle is a literal asshole. I swear the man can’t function without any help.” Jason nodded in response and noticed the server returned with the bucket of beers.
“Well, here comes something to put out those flames.” A wide smile appeared on Trini’s face as she grabbed a beer. She managed to chug half a bottle before she placed the bottle back on the table.
“I fucking hate working retail.”
“Why is that?” Jason asked as he took a sip of his beer.
“It’s just too many damn policies to start with. Plus, people are plain rude. They treat you like shit. I’m proud of Mohinder and you, though. It sounds like you guys are kicking ass in school. Congrats on finishing another semester,” Trini said as she held out her beer bottle for Jason to cheers.
“Thanks,” Jason replied as he clashed the beer bottle with Trini’s and took a long swig. Once Jason was done, he placed a beer bottle on the table. “Why not go to school again? You know, for instance, you could go to community college.”
Trini created a fake laugh at Jason comments. “Unlike you, I’m not a genius. I don’t belong in college. I barely passed high school. I don’t really have any special skills. That’s why I’m stuck at some no-name job in the mall,” Trini replied as she finished off her first beer. She reached for a new beer from the ice bucket and swished down a third of the bottle.
“Easy with those. You realize you’re driving back, right?”
Trini raised her eyebrows at Jason.
“I’m fine once I get some food in me, mom,” Trini snapped back in an unusual tone. Judging by the tone, Jason knew not to push the issue further. The couple was silent until the food finally arrived and Jason grabbed a small plate and placed two mozzarella sticks on it along with one chicken spring roll. Jason took a bite of the hot spring roll and tasted the savory cabbage as he washed it down with his beer.
“Listen, Jason, I’m sorry for snapping at you. I know I need to work on that.”
“It’s okay, we all screw up sometimes.”
Trini nodded as she dipped her cheese stick into her marinara sauce. The couple ate in silence until the two appetizer baskets were empty. “Hey, I know that were supposed to play some arcade games after this, but did you want to get a rain check? We can always come back later.”
“Yeah, sure, I’ll pay for this,” Jason signaled the waiter to pay for their meal.
“Are you sure?” Trini asked.
“Yeah, I got it. I had a great time with you today. You looked great in that lingerie set.”
A grateful smile parted her lips. “I had a great time with you too.” Trini reached across the table and rubbed Jason’s hand. She passionately looked into Jason’s eyes. “I’m sorry I ruined the moment. I didn’t mean to be an asshole. I think Kyle is starting to rub off on me.”
“It’s fine, like I said I had a good time,” Jason said as he took the bill from the waiter. He frowned as he looked at the bill.
“What’s the damage?” Trini asked.
“It’s not too bad. I got it,” Jason lied to Trini as he dug in his pants for change. This is going to set me back for a week, Jason thought as he laid two twenty dollar bills on the check.
“Are you ready to go?” Jason asked.
“Yep, lead the way,” Trini replied.
A half-hour later, Trini and Jason arrived outside of Jason’s apartment complex. Trini kept the engine running as she looked at Jason with a smile. She reached across the vehicle and rubbed Jason’s knee and looked passionately into his brown eyes. Her lips quivered as she gave a flirtatious smile to Jason.
“Listen, I had a great time. We should really consider doing this again. You know, just the two of us,” Trini said as her upper chest clenched forward as she seductively looked at Jason.
Jason gave Trini a strange look. Does she want me to kiss her? Is this the moment that everyone talks about? Jason felt himself moving forward towards Trini’s lips and noticed that Trini was inching closer to him as well. Jason placed his hand on the side of Trini’s face and felt her body slightly tremble from his touch. She let out a soft moan as she embraced his hand on her face. Jason continued to lean towards Trini until he stopped suddenly.
Wait a minute, she has a boyfriend. Don’t be stupid. Kyle may be an ass, but I don’t want to be the guy to cheat on him, Jason contemplated. Jason rejected his movements and reached for the door handle instead. As the door handle unhatched, Trini’s face showed confusion.
“Trini, I had a good time with you. I’ll be back to pick you up around eleven,” Jason blurted out as he hopped out of the car.
Trini shook her head in a negative motion as Jason got out of the car. “Yeah, whatever. I’ll see you at eleven,” Trini said, slightly depressed as Jason closed her car door.
Jason watched as Trini’s car backed out of the parking spot and zoom away.
“What have I done?” Jason whispered as he watched her taillights disappear into the distance.
Wow! Love the sexy tension. ♥♥♥ Can’t wait to read this book…🙂
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this paranormal romance! ♥
About Remy Marie
Remy Marie is a paranormal and urban fantasy author who loves to write about charming heroes and brave heroines. His passion for creating stories and world building originates from him creating fantasy realms with his toys when he was five years old. While writing never came naturally for Remy, he continued to strengthen his craft, by constantly reading and writing. If he is not writing or reading, he is usually watching TV with his supportive wife, aggressively cheering for his college and professional sports teams, playing video games, or crunching numbers at his daytime job.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Remy Marie, here are some author links:
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Trini, a female character from Jason’s Awakening, and Remy Marie, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here! 😀
Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked authors to come to the blog with a little background into their characters. Exactly what is it about them that keeps a writer up at night, composing those romance novels we love? I wanted to dig deep into each of these characters. Today is the first post in this series.
So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Isobelle Cate, who has some things to say about her character.
Hi, Isobelle! Describe one of your main characters and why he or she impacts the story.
Who is Herod?
When I started writing my paranormal series, The Cynn Cruors Bloodline, Herod was just one of the secondary characters in my stories about vampire/werewolf hybrids. I really had no intention of truly developing him into someone that made my heart squeeze. It just came as a ‘eureka’ moment and since then, Herod became someone who had a deeper connection to the main characters of the series.
Just like my heroes, Herod was also infused with the same DNA as the Cynn Cruors. The difference was that he was batting for the other side. He was a Scatha Cruor. But the complexity of how he came to be the epitome of the evil the Cynn Cruors were battling against is deeper than what the first five books in the series have shown. In the 6th book, Midnight’s Paradox, Herod’s identity is revealed. Naturally, I made sure there was a foreshadowing of things to come from the very start.
Herod’s evolution did not come overnight. I spent several nights in the course of writing the series that I’d just be in bed, stare at the ceiling and see Herod’s life unfold before me. There were flashes of inspiration that I had to write down immediately lest the impact of the words disappeared from memory. And with every unfolding of Herod’s story, I couldn’t stop the sorrow I felt for him. I remember the time I wrote his dialogue and the scene with another character and I couldn’t stop crying. Using words to describe him, to give him form, he became a living, breathing character.
He became real.
Characters take time to develop. Sometimes, an author may have already given a character his/her attributes, then suddenly adds further traits to make the character multi-faceted or multi-dimensional. Herod was one such character. His actions affected everyone in the series. Directly or indirectly, he became part of their collective memories.
Collective memories…maybe I might just write a book about Herod and why he made the choices he did that led him down a slippery slope.
If you want to read about immortal highlanders with vampire/werewolf DNA, why not read the Cynn Cruors Bloodline series?
Yes, why not?
Let’s find out more about the novel, shall we? 😉
This is the blurb for Midnight’s Paradox, book six of The Cynn Cruors Bloodline Series:
IT BEGINS IN AN ANCIENT CASTLE, WITH IMPULSIVE HOT STRANGER SEX –AND IT LEADS TO WORLDS SHE’S NEVER DREAMED OF…
In Isobelle Cate’s SIXTH erotic paranormal romance, it’s been hundreds of years since immortal Cynn Cruor warrior Blake Strachen buried what little was left of his family. And it’s been three years since his last unsuccessful raid on his nemesis Dac Valerian. Enemies are still at large. Too much is left unfinished.
Restless, Blake is wandering through the deserted streets of Edinburgh in the early morning hours when he encounters the ghost of a woman, a witch hung centuries ago, who speaks cryptically of “the sins of the father”. But before he can ask her what she means, she disappears with the first light of dawn. Dawn means that Blake–a vampire-werewolf-human hybrid–must find shelter, and he stumbles into the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle before visitor hours. But he’s not alone…
Phoebe Ruth has come into work early at the old castle when she notices the dark shadow of a man handling a relic sword with surprising ease. A powerful and disturbingly attractive man. Sparks ignite immediately, the two strangers wordlessly embracing with an uncontrollable passion neither of them understands… But just like that, Blake disappears.
All day, like a stereo needle skipping over a vinyl scratch, Phoebe replays the steamy sexual encounter of the early morning–the hunger that threatened to devour her. Was it just an arousing dream? But when Blake rescues Phoebe from an assault by thugs in the cemetery, each becomes enraptured by the other. Forever.
Phoebe has read of the Cynn Cruors in her father’s journal and believes they’re only the ravings of a grief-stricken man after losing his wife. But after several chance encounters, she begins to realize that the Cynn Cruors’ world is as real as the dark stranger’s bonfire of burning kisses. Both Phoebe and Blake have sordid pasts to sort through. And these chance encounters inexplicably link the two lovers together in more ways than one…
This haunting love story will appeal to romance readers who love a hot steamy erotica series with a paranormal element– supernatural shifters, werewolf romance, and vampire romance (it’s got all of that!) –and plenty of explicit sex.
***CONTENT WARNING: This story contains adult language and sexual situations and is intended for audiences 18+ ONLY. ***
And here is an excerpt.
Herod looked at himself in the mirror, his reflection blurry at best. It was as though the mirror had fogged after someone had taken a long hot shower. But there was no shower to blame since the mirror was in the corner of his room, in his own manor. The room was stone cold, with its vaulted ceiling and tall windows that overlooked the expanse of a dark loch intermittently covered with black ice. His bed had hardly been slept on, not for lack of want. He’d been at Dac’s beck and call nearly twenty-four seven. He hadn’t raped a woman in several days nor killed someone to feed the debauched, altered Kinaré gene inside him. It didn’t matter that Herod didn’t feel the cold or he hadn’t had a good fuck. What annoyed him was that he couldn’t bloody see clearly. Dac came in the night before and smashed the special mirror he had, and with everything that was going on, vanity wasn’t on Herod’s list of priorities for the time being.
He squinted, trying to catch a sharper glimpse of his wound but not even the Cruor’s razor sight could pierce the ordinary looking glass. The only thing Herod could do was to feel the flesh around his wound. A three inch slit where The Hamilton’s silver laced claymore gored him. Any other blade without silver wouldn’t have left a scar. Herod remembered the pain of the silver cutting through his bloodstream and the white hot influx of the adriserum The Hamilton jammed into him to alleviate the damage the metal inflicted on him.
Herod closed his eyes. For as long as he could remember, he thrived on pain. He loved receiving, giving it. Even in battle, he had a perverse pleasure of feeling the metal singe his skin though only to a point. He was still too obsessed with living for the pain to be the harbinger of his last breath. He loved to hear the tortured cries of Scatha victims and the mournful wails of the sex slaves as they were auctioned to the highest debauched bidder. He watched and joined in the hedonism when the winning bidder sampled the merchandise in front of a lascivious crowd. Sometimes he participated, sampling the quality paid for. The pain was different when it came to silver, not only since it was the bane of all Cruors – Cynn and Scatha. It was because the pain reminded him of what it was like to be human.
Weak and fallible.
Herod twisted his torso so he could try and see the exit wound. His brow furrowed in concentration as he felt his skin stretch taut against his back, the sensation around the healing wound similar to the tiny feet of ants crawling over and around it. He whipped around, his eyes narrowing when the door to his room opened and Dac sauntered in.
“Nasty wound,” he remarked.
Herod grunted, reaching out for his muscle shirt draped over the nearby wingback chair.
“It’s healing.” The shirt covered his body. A warning tingle skittered around in a circle on Herod’s nape. Dac was on to something and Herod wasn’t sure what it was. Instinctively, he brought his mind barrier up. He hardly had any need for it except when Dac had his over suspicious moods. He tracked his liege lord across the room as Dac perused his wide collection of music CDs that surrounded his state of the art audio system, an Infinite Grand. Herod loved listening to Chopin, the only composer who made him feel any semblance of peace. This was what was left of his immense collection when most of it had been razed to the ground in the Isle of Man’s siege. Centuries ago, he’d had the immense pleasure of listening to the virtuoso play several of his compositions when Chopin performed in one of the many grand salons of Europe.
Dac’s fingers ran across the roughly hewn stone wall blunted by time, his gaze taking in the huge four poster bed sans the overhead damask curtains which Herod abhorred because it made him claustrophobic. Instead, above the bed, framed on the wall was the D’Argyl tartan of forest green, black, and brown. It resembled a bedraggled and tattered piece of cloth that Herod had returned for after his confrontation with Deanna.
It was the only thing left to tie him to who he was, the only symbolic piece of humanity to tie himself to.
Herod sucked in a harsh breath.
Why did he have to return to get it? He should have left it in the fortress to be a sacrifice to feed the fires. But no, he had to drag his sorry arse to rush like the wind to the fortress before the sun burned him alive. He hid in the tunnels and picked his way along the corridors that swarmed with Cynn Cruors, entered his room to take his birthright from the wall and leave through the forest. He knew all along Deanna would eventually find the hidden trapdoor in the forest that led to his room.
He kept this knowledge a secret.
Herod watched Dac peruse his clan’s colours and braced himself. As he suspected, Dac started to invade his mind and when the Scatha Cruor leader made a gesture to touch it, a small growl rose from his throat.
“Touchy,” Dac laughed, amused.
“You know I don’t like you or anyone touching what is mine.”
“We share women,” Dac feigned confusion. “You take her hole, I take her ass or mouth. We rape them together, kill, and share the spoils. And you don’t want me to touch a measly rag?”
Herod’s eyes heated and he knew his eyes were about to change. His hands fisted, and his jaw clenched to tamp down his fury.
“You don’t share my family history or my clan, Valerian. That alone is mine. You were Roman, I was Gaelic. I will not warn you again.”
“You forget yourself, D’Argyl.” Dac’s grin waned.
Herod expelled a breath and sat down on the chair, to put on his steel toed boots.
“So do you, my liege.” Herod’s muscles flexed and slid under his skin as he tied the laces. “You wouldn’t be the Scatha Cruor leader if I didn’t save your life.” He stood, a small smile shadowing his mouth at Dac’s annoyance.
“That’s about to change.” Dac glared.
Unprepared, Herod fell to his knees, grunting at the pain that exploded inside his head. It snaked through every nerve ending of his brain and to his horror, the Scatha Cruor leader suddenly flipped the lock of his memories. Racing against the onslaught, Herod allowed the pain to blind him, darkness clouding his vision while his mind galvanized every barrier and protection from the attack.
In a second, Dac withdrew, the agony that ripped through Herod disappearing like it never happened. Herod fell on all fours, his heart beating so loud in his chest it might as well have been the waves coming from a nuclear blast. Dac’s boots appeared in front of Herod before he crouched.
“What are you hiding, D’Argyl?” he asked, his voice soft hardly threatening. “I often sensed you hiding something from me soon after we escaped the Ancients.”
In retaliation, Herod slammed into Dac’s mind. Dac howled, staggering and falling on his ass. Herod pushed, straining against the powerful walls of Valerian’s brain. Hell, Dac had been there when Hadrian’s Wall had been built. He probably had a convo with Shih Wang Ti to build the Great Wall to hide his own memories.
He found something but his concentration broke when Dac roared once more before swiping his claw against Herod’s face. Herod reeled from the force of the attack when he felt the claws swipe through his skin and jaw bone. He catapulted into the air landing in a defensive growl, his lips pulling away from his teeth in a snarl. His vision turned green waiting for Dac to attack once more. Herod’s fangs elongated, his jaw breaking to accommodate the teeth that began to crowd inside his mouth.
Dac didn’t attack. He stood looking down at Herod whose green blood still trickled from his jaw on to the stone floor. His eyes, completely black, gradually turned to its normal color. Without a word, he stormed out of Herod’s room. The door crashed against the stone wall and when it did, a fissure ran through the wood causing slivers to fall softly to the floor. Herod leaned back, his chest heaving from the exertion of shielding his mind but it was enough for him to catch a glimpse of an image before Dac broke his concentration.
The key that could bring Dac Valerian’s downfall.
A sarcastic chuckle broke out from his still bleeding mouth.
After all this millennia, he could finally go home. A groundswell of emotion nearly drowned him.
“No,” he roared. He shut his eyes, forcing the emotions back. Sentiments had no room in his world anymore. Memories, no longer a part of his life.
It was already too late.
Herod stood, a bit unsteady on his feet after Dac’s attack and the needling of his persistent and awakening conscience. He left his room and made his way to his castle’s great hall when he stopped and sniffed. A rumble fizzed up his throat. What the fuck was a Cynn Cruor doing in his manor? Did they find out where he lived? Fuck! Frustration and fury formed a thunderous vee on his forehead. The Keep was the only thing he had left he could call his own and Dac had to bring complications to his doorstep.
Whizzing up to the gallery so he could determine his mode of attack, Herod eased himself above the great hall. He could feel his eyes transforming at the sight of the Cynn Cruor taking liberties with his extensive collection of cognac. His gut soured and his claws fisted until he drew blood that dripped to the floor. Shit, by the time Dac was through and he moved on to another abode, Herod would probably have baptised most of his castle in his own blood. He listened carefully, his sharp teeth starting to fill his jaw, eager to sink his claws into the Cynn Cruor. He didn’t know the immortal, wasn’t one of those he paid for betraying the Ancients’ trust.
Dac roared, his pupils dilating to a dark greenish black that held dark flecks so deep that any human would not be able to turn away. The last time Herod saw Dac transform was shortly after Dac’s attempt on the life of the Ancient Eald. Herod had also gone through the same transformation, the corruption of the Kinaré solidifying the more evil they perpetrated.
“Give me something I can use against the Cynn Cruors, traitor, or not only will you not get your money, I will have also have your head.”
The need to transform disappeared as Herod listened to what the traitor had to say.
“Here we go again,” he muttered before leaving the gallery and joining Dac in the Great Hall.
Readers, don’t forget to check out the whole series! It looks fantastic!
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Isobelle! Lovely to have you here! ♥
Isobelle Cate is a woman who wears different masks. Mother-writer, wife-professional, scholar-novelist. Currently living in Manchester, she has been drawn to the little known, the secret stories, about the people and the nations: the English, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh, and those who are now part of these nations whatever their origins. Her vision and passion are fueled by her interest and background in history and paradoxically, shaped by growing up in a clan steeped in lore, loyalty, and legend. Isobelle is intrigued by forces that simmer beneath the surface of these cultures, the hidden passions, unsaid desires, and yearnings unfulfilled.
And to stay with our romance theme, I thought I’d do a book a day. By that, I don’t mean that I’m doing official book reviews on the blog, by any means. What I will do, however, is offer an overview of either a book currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what inspires us as authors) or one that is on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few choice lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And why not give a score as well, huh?
This will be my scoring system:
Though I put all scores for the sake of common sense, I probably won’t be giving anything below three hearts. I hope these suggestions will help you find a new favorite romance author, or cement your love for one, if that’s the case.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into our first book, all right?
Awakening the Fire by Ally Shields
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Guardian Witch Book One
Arianna Calin has sworn to keep the peace in Riverdale. Most of the Otherworlders prefer to haunt the Olde Town district—partying at vampire strip clubs, dining in elegant supper clubs, and inhabiting the cliffside caverns along the Mississippi. Being a cop is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it, and Ari’s got her gun, a good sharp knife, and a few handy charms against things that go bump in the streets. She’s also a fire witch—a pedigree that comes in handy, since her partner’s only human.
But when a virtual reality drug hits the streets, people (and non-people) start to die, and an elusive pack of werewolves threatens the status quo. Ari and Ryan are drawn into a web of murder and evil that will lead sworn enemies to a confrontation, and while the city simmers around them, only Ari can prevent an all-out supernatural war…
A few choice lines from the book:
The vampire’s coal-black eyes found her and silken threads of magic wrapped her in a soft web. The room faded away. She floated as in a dream, warm and safe. A place to linger forever. Her witch magic began to sing in concert with his, and Ari called it back to her. The effort brought her out of his web with a jolt.
Damn, how strong was he? She wrapped her magical aura around her. As long as she kept it in place, his magic was held at bay. Then, mercifully, the song was over. Andreas bowed to a wildly applauding audience and left the stage.
“Good evening.” Startled, she stared at him.
“Uh, hello.” How did he move so fast? He produced a polite smile.
“If you will come this way.” He waved a hand toward a hallway on the left.
Ari hesitated. A meeting in private? She hadn’t anticipated that.
His brows rose. “We have twenty minutes.”
Swallowing her doubts, Ari preceded him down the hall. It was better this way, she told herself. Fewer interruptions. At least she knew her time parameters. He ushered her past four closed doors, not stopping until they reached an exit door at the end. He touched a security panel, the door opened, and they stepped into a paved lane leading to the rear parking lot. Dense trees lined the opposite side of the lane. Total privacy.
The night was pleasantly cool. The crisp cleanness of fall filled the air. Ari hung back and watched her companion as he stopped in the middle of the lane. Andreas arched his shoulders and threw back his head, breathing deeply. For a moment all Ari could think about was how sexy he looked.
“I hope you don’t mind talking out here. It has been a long evening, and I needed the fresh air.”
“Not at all. It’s nice.” She looked up at the stars, pinpoints in an uncluttered sky, to keep from looking at him. “What was that last song you sang?”
“An Italian love song. Did you enjoy it?”
He turned to look at her. “It was, or I was?” His voice invited a broader interpretation.
She smiled. “Both,” she said, not bothering to hedge. “But who’s fishing for compliments now?”
“Touché.” His familiar laugh came then, rich and intimate, strangely companionable.
I haven’t read this book yet, though I plan to. I added this one to my Amazon Wishlist long ago and anytime I see a post on Twitter about it, I just keep on yearning to pick it up. SO want to read! 🙂
I want to read the entire seven-book series.
What’s not to love about witches, vampires and shifters? I love all of them. Oh, yeah, and when magic kicks butt, sign me up. 😉
To be fair, let’s go with four hearts for this one, because I can’t wait to read it!
Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Ginger Ring’s character on November 17th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Eryn Black, the author of Kindred Sacrifice, on my author journey and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Victor Titus, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Eryn in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Victor!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Eryn. Please have a seat.
Character Victor Titus: Thank you for having me. Typically I try to avoid the public spotlight for obvious reasons, but I felt this was something I could sink my teeth into.
To begin with, I am Victor Titus, born 742 Bavaria, son of King Taviouse.
Marie: It’s such a pleasure to have you here!
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: What is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Victor: In this generation I am owner and CEO of The Bavarian Interests Trust Enterprise, or BITE as my friends and associates like to call it. Along with several charity foundations we are well invested in real estate, Investment banking, medical research and the relocation and protection of Vampires seeking a new life and identity.
My skills are not necessary as I have the assistance of my partner, Donovan Pastor who oversees much of the paper work while I smile, wave while avoiding pictures and conversations.
Marie: I see.
So, tell us…what is your family like?
Victor: My Brother Alexander and I were raised to ride and fight with the hopes that we would carry on for our father, a Warlord king.
When I ruled in his place, my brother was the politician who remained home with his questionable choice of a wife. It is just my brother and I now, and despite the bad blood between us, I remain here for him if he should ever call. Although there have been times where I have been tempted to hoist him in the air, impaled on a spear.
Marie: (Clears her throat.) Well, all families have their issues…
Let’s try something else, shall we?
What did your childhood home look like?
Victor: A cold, dark castle in the Bavarian Mountains is not one I would call a home, but the fires were always lit to direct our father home from a hunt and our bellies were never empty.
Marie: All right.
Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Victor: Poetry, swords, whips and tanning the hide of an eager and bound submissive would best describe my off time. I have enjoyed planning and hosting an exclusive erotic costume ball for Club Odyssey for the last three years. There is much to be said for the free pleasure in sharing your sexual desires with others of a similar mind.
So…what is your greatest dream, Victor?
Victor: She died long ago on our wedding night. I would not call myself broken, but there has been a part of me missing since that day. The opportunity to be reunited with a lost love in the great beyond is not something permitted for a vampire. The fallen souls of the good and innocent are out of our reach, but I still dream that one day I will find a way to be with my dear Sophia one day, but as my good friend Donovan tells me, “The universe is too vast and the undead life is too long not to believe in finding a second love.”
Marie: A wise man, for sure! 😉
So, what kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Victor: Sophia was taken from me in an act of revenge. I have since strived to not only be the man that she saw in me, but also fight for and protect the interests of her mother that she left behind.
Marie: That’s certainly admirable!
All right, so I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Victor: Sophia was a young mortal virgin when I met her in my 1100th year and I have not loved another wholeheartedly since, but I feel that there is still a part of her somewhere in the world.
Marie: And you’re probably right. I’m a sucker for true love, and I do believe in reincarnation…
So, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you, Victor?
Victor: The night I held her dying in my arms was not only our wedding night, but also the night I was betrayed by my brother. Death and pain is linked with immortality as the passing of a century, but finding oneself alone in the world in one night leaves a person broken.
Marie: Oh, no! How terrible! I’m so sorry for your loss. 😦
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Victor: To be king of my father’s land, and a warrior brave and true.
Marie: All right.
So, tell us…who is your role model, Victor?
Victor: An ancient by the name of Remus. He is my comrade, brother in arms and creator who turned me in the 8th century.
Let’s try something else. Well, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Victor: Deadly and gutless, Skeal is a vampire assassin who hides behind the power of his master. Willing to kill whom or whatever he is commanded to by his master has left a long list of names to avenge, but in killing the right hand man of one so powerful as his master Azazel, I am left to spare him and turn my back at every opportunity.
Marie: How unfortunate!
Let me ask you a different question.
What is your deepest desire?
Victor: To rediscover the thrill and excitement in life. I simply live an existence with no hope of anything new as I have lived it all.
Marie: Such cynicism. I hope you find what you’re looking for…
So, what is your greatest fear, Victor?
Victor: To lose my heart to a frail mortal again.
Marie: I can certainly understand that worry, but you know, we can’t truly feel until we truly love.
Well, we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Victor. It was so interesting getting to know you! 🙂
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Marie: Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Eryn Black on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to meet you! Hello, Eryn!
Author Eryn Black: Hello! Thank you for having me!
Marie: My pleasure!
We just got to talk to the hero of your story, Victor. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about him?
Eryn: He was a complex creation. A broken man whose personal demons left him with little hope of ever finding love again. Creating a visualization of his handsome face and dynamically perfect physique was a lot of fun. Despite a dark scar on one side of his face, to look at him is a sexual stimulation of any woman’s fantasy.
And it’s no wonder! (Fans herself.) Woo! Not to mention I have a weakness for those with fangs…well, the good ones, anyway.
So…what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Eryn: Despite centuries of battle and blood-sucking, he has a good heart (that has been dead for 1,300 years) and ready to fight for those in need.
Marie: That’s certainly admirable!
Now, let’s take the opposition on that. What, do you feel, are Victor’s greatest weaknesses?
Eryn: Silver, sunlight, wooden stakes, crosses, holy water and dead blood can weaken or kill most vampires, but his greatest weakness is his need to love and protect his traitorous brother.
Marie: Familial relations are often complicated.
So, let’s try something else.
What are some of his favorite foods?
Eryn: Food is not deadly or impossible for a vampire to enjoy, but all vampires live off of the oxygen-filled blood of a living victim/donor, or a vampire filled from a fresh feeding. Victor lives from a liquid diet of blood or his favorite brandy or whiskey.
Marie: I see.
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Eryn: Linked by a supernatural and celestial element, he is eternally connected to an ancient family line that will one day defeat the darkest evil.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Eryn: Handsome, brave and willing to sacrifice anything for the woman he loves, Victor is a woman’s dream hero. His story is one that you will want to enjoy while curled up in bed with a glass of your favorite wine and some luxurious chocolates.
Marie: Yes to the chocolates, for sure! And hopefully the dark variety…;)
So, now that we have a real taste of Victor, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Kindred Sacrifice?
Eryn: Born from a novella I wrote, The Perfect Bite, which was inspired from a Valentine’s erotic mask ball I attended years ago. After releasing The Perfect Bite, I felt that Anna and Victor deserved more of a story and that has turned into the beginning of a series that I have fallen in love with.
Marie: Isn’t it interesting how the muse works? 🙂
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like, Eryn? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Eryn: I love to organize my thoughts, but no matter how much time I spend sitting and outlining a story, the plot unfolds to me as I am driving. A note pad ready to take down notes or plan out my daily writing goal is always at my side, but once I have a visualization –normally inspired by music- I am ready to type away and see where the story takes me.
Now, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Kindred Sacrifice or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Eryn: Creating a new vampire/ werewolf universe has several challenges. Not only do I need to keep in mind the opinions of fans from this genre, I also need to define the rules of my monsters and stay true to them. History as well as my Christian and Jewish roots has had a dominating role in my life. Researching this project, I adopted several aspects of ancient worlds as well as the history of angels. This may be fiction, but I like the fantasy connection to men and women who lived.
When it comes to fantasy, you never want to deviate from your own rules or laws in your world. Readers are depending on you to introduce them to your world, whether it be supernatural in contemporary LA, California, or an unknown planet in another galaxy or dimension. And if you contradict yourself, you will not only confuse your readers, you might deprive them the pleasure of reading your story.
Marie: All good points!
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Kindred Sacrifice appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by Eryn Black, a very talented author! 🙂
Here is the blurb for Kindred Sacrifice:
The creation of man was written in theology long ago, creating a structure of a world where men and women bathe in the sunlight and feast in all the glories of the world. But what of the fallen, those who have once lived above the world and now are left to exist in the darkness of night feeding off the blood of mortal life? Journey forth in legend and discover what became of the angels that defied the laws of Heaven.
Finding her way in a world she never truly belonged in, Anna is about to learn the truth about all the dark myths told to her as a child and find herself the heroine of her own horror story. Living alone in Southern California, she’s a modern girl who recently learned she has a healthy appetite for adventure, sex, and her new mysterious stranger, Victor, a 7th century Bavarian Prince turned vampire.
Mourning the loss of his fallen bride for the last two hundred years, he is a modern stud who has traded his warhorse and broadsword for a UV protected sports car and cell phone and is ready to take on steel and battle to protect Anna from the dark forces stalking her every move. This story contains erotic sexual fantasies and the ongoing war between angels, vampires, and werewolves.
**CONTENT WARNING: Contains adult language and sexual situations. This book is intended for adult audiences 18+ ONLY**
Eryn is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
“Release her.” A familiar voice broke the spell and Anna turned her head to see Victor’s dark, dead stare. “She is not for you,” he threatened.
“I see no mark on her, brother,” Alex defended. “If you wish to have her, then here.” Pushing Anna at Victor, Alex dared him to do what he knew his brother would not in public.
“You forget your place, brother.” Victor pulled Anna out of Alex’s reach and leaned, threatening him eye to eye. “You are not in a position to threaten me. Whether or not I choose to take her, she is out of your reach, as you well know.” His upper lip curled up over his exposed fangs.
They were locked in engaging eyes, neither ready to break the stalemate. Safely detained by one strong arm, he kept Anna safe from Alex’s reach. She was his to protect from any immortal to claim, especially Alex, but he could not bring himself to claim her as his own. The feel of her quick shallow breaths pushing her breasts into his back was hammering a need into him, and Victor struggled to keep his focus away from his growing carnal needs.
“She is off limits to you, me and any other, hungry for a bite.” His eyes burned with fire and his voice dropped to a guttural vibration that shook the floor under them. “Heed my warning.”
No one in the club took notice of the exchange going on over the exotic Persian drums being played from a small stage and the bodies writhing on the dance floor, and Victor preferred it that way. This was their own personal battle and he did not wish to exhaust his power tonight by clearing the club of any remembrance of his presence. For now, he was focused on getting Anna to safety and as far away from him and his sexual desires as possible.
Smiling brightly up at Victor, Alex flicked his tongue out for a quick intentional prick and a wink.
“I wish nothing between us at this moment and no doubt you see in her what you always have in their kind.” Sucking the trickle of blood that had beaded on his tongue, Alex turned and reached over to a nearby chair, plucking up a black leather coat he had no doubt deposited when he approached Anna. “She is safe from me for now, brother.” Reaching out, he grabbed ahold of Anna’s right hand. Despite the tension in Victor’s arm separating the two of them, he did not stop Alex from kissing the back of Anna’s hand before he tossed his coat over his shoulder and strutted out of the club.
“Was any of that meant to make sense?” she whispered over Victor’s shoulder.
For the first time since arriving at the club Victor turned to look Anna in the eye. She was pure and sweet with a soft glow in her cheeks picked up by the soft lighting. Struggling to control his temper, Victor dropped his protective arm and instantly missed her warmth on his back. Her clothes were simple and comfortable, but fitting for her. Pulling the shoulders of her sweater from side to side, she dislodged the neckline of her sweater. Looking down, her jeans were black, but her heels were cute and stylish black with a red polka dot ribbon trimming the edge of her shoe that peaked out from under the cuff of her jeans.
“It would be logical if you knew my brother as I do.” Annoyance built as he watched her fidget again with her sweater. Was it his presence that made her act with insecurity or was the sweater too scratchy? Whatever the reason, he wanted to rip it from her body, but bit back his need with the reminder of the danger he would put her in should she cross over into his path.
“Brothers?” she asked, unaware that she had figured out their relation on her own less than a week ago. A twinge of guilt pricked at him for wiping away memories that were hers to keep, but he had to act for her own safety, which meant she had to forget that night.
“I am still not certain what just happened.” Again, she pulled at the neck of the sweater, forcing a strap of her practical tan bra to show. “I never freeze in my own shoes like that,” she defended herself, but Victor could see nothing but that annoying bra strap.
Looking down at her shoes once again, he smiled at the cuteness in her choice and appreciated that among all this erotic sin surrounding them, she still managed to look pure despite his familiarity with her body. Restraining himself was more of a torture to him than he had anticipated.
“You should have better judgment in the future in who you choose to converse with here,” he warned her and hated himself for the sternness in his voice, though he knew it served a purpose. “How is it you managed to gain admission here? This is a private club and I know you are not a member.”
Rolling her shoulders back defensively, he bit his tongue when the neckline of her sweater fell off one shoulder, looking like an ‘80s pop star minus the big hair and plastic jewelry. This was getting bad and he really needed to keep his focus off her clothes and off her body.
“It’s a free country,” she defended.
“But the club is not,” he retorted, stopping her silent. “You obviously came here with someone and I would suggest that whoever the lucky bastard is, keeps you on a shorter leash next time.” Jealousy was a foreign accent to his voice and he hated it, but he was finding it a natural response where she was concerned.
“Excuse me!” Her exposed shoulder was burning red to match the patches on her face. She had a temper on her that entertained Victor. “What is it to you who I choose to come here with? I am not your employee nor would I ever want to be. Our relationship goes no farther than my event and I understand that you are not affiliated with that branch of the company anyway.”
Unable to resist any longer, he ignored the shock on her face and straightened the neckline on her sweater, pulling it over her shoulder and guiding it to fall properly down her chest, closing in a “V” at the base of her cleavage. He could not avoid accidental brushes of the top of her breasts and Victor screamed at his inner anal-retentive self to keep his hands to himself. Victor was now sporting a raging erection and for a vampire, no mortal was safe when he was aroused.
Clearing his throat, he struggled to hold back his animalistic needs.
“You are wrong. There is nothing in my company that I do not have complete control of and your relations—no matter how professional—are included.” Dropping his hands from her, he shoved them into the pockets of his slacks. “You’d better remember that when we meet again. Donovan does nothing without checking with me first and I will know your goings on with this event of yours.” The music was building in the room and it had begun to be difficult to keep their conversation in soft tones.
Looking up into his eyes, she studied him closer than he was comfortable. His powers of manipulation were never foolproof and he recognized that knowing look in her eyes. Hoping she would write whatever clarification off as a dream, he took in two deep false breaths for her benefit. He did not wish to tempt disaster. Relaxing his shoulders, he tried a different approach.
“You are clearly not comfortable here. So would you like me to find whoever it was you arrived with and inform him that you are ready to leave?” Keeping his tone as kind and understanding as a man in his condition could accomplish, he was pleased to see that it worked and immediately he watched her relax in front of him. She stopped with the aggressive study on him and nervously backed away.
“No, thank you. She is looking for her friend who works here now to let her know that we can’t stay.”
Victor was happily surprised at her use of the word ‘she,’ having already come to the obvious conclusion of how she had come to be here.
“Well.” He cleared his throat, struggling to find the correct words. “If you can give me her description, I can have you on your way home in no time.”
“No thank you. I think it’s best if I stay here and wait.” Her eyes suddenly avoided contact and she started to shift her weight in her heels. Annoyance was building, knowing that she was so disconnected from him this night after what they had shared only a week ago, but he was the only one to blame.
“If you’re determined to play it safe, could I buy you a drink?” Victor knew that it would be in her best interest if he walked away now before he slaked his hunger for her body and her blood, but where she was concerned he was weak and could not so easily walk away. Biting her lower lip, she looked back and forth from the bar and the hallway she had seen Jen vanish through. “Please,” putting a hand to his chest, he gave her a half bow, “it would be my honor.”
The wheels in her head could have been heard a block away from how hard she was thinking over this. This was all too difficult and he had a solution to her reluctance, but he felt a twinge of guilt for already manipulating her recent memories. Luckily, just as he was able to turn away, her brown eyes met his and a nervous smile worked its way from her lips and up to her eyes.
“I think that would be okay,” she finally agreed. “But I won’t have to do anything if I stay, will I?” A crinkle in her brow betrayed her fears.
“No,” he happily responded with a chuckle. The novelty of her innocence had not worn off from the party and it made him smile involuntarily. “But if you should see something you like I would be happy to help you.” Victor knew that engaging with this woman again was not only against his plans, but also not the safest choice for her. She may look just like his beloved Sophia, but their personalities were worlds apart and he did not want to put her in the same danger that Sophia willingly followed him into.
Escorting her to the bar, Victor ordered red wine and Anna ordered white wine. There were other refreshments he preferred after going without for so many days, but this was take two in their introductions and no matter how desperately he wanted to taste her again he dared not risk the fallout. It was better to appear as civilized as possible. They took their glasses to a small bistro table with three chairs. After pulling Anna’s chair out for her he kicked the unused chair away from the table to avoid any interruptions and took his seat beside her.
“To the dark days that come. May they pass by as sweetly as the good.” He toasted, clinking his glass with hers before they both took a sip. It was a cheap wine and bitter to the taste. Victor appreciated fine wines and this was most definitely not one. Forcing down the bitter taste, he thought of how sweet and delicious she would taste in exchange. His days of forgoing nourishment out of sentimentality were catching up with him.
“Tell me,” he tried to distract his hunger with meaningless chitchat, “what is it you do with your time when you are not organizing charity events at someone else’s expense?” He knew that his question sounded a little harsh, but he was hungry.
Her mouth fell open in surprise and managed to not catch any flies before she closed it and thought of a reply. Stunned by his directness, she was not armed with a witty comeback that Victor had hoped for.
“I actually was released from my temp job last week and luckily have time on my hands to focus on this event with my full attention.”
“Fired? What for?” He was prying and he didn’t care; it kept his mouth off her neck.
“Yes, I was sick recently and missed too much work.” Pausing to think for a moment, she chewed her bottom lip and averted her eyes. “Maybe that wasn’t the best way to describe it, but that will not happen with this event. You should have no worries where I’m concerned.” Straightening in her chair and rolling back her shoulders, she took on her professional pose, but the snap of a cat-o-nine tails striking a woman’s back nearby distracted her. Each strike was a warm distraction that ran right to the heat between her legs. Failure or not, she didn’t care. So much of this place seemed like it had been plucked from the delete folder of her brain, but she suddenly didn’t care.
Looking over her shoulder at the musicians on the stage, she gasped when she saw the four bodies engaged in an erotic tangle of a dance. Their bodies were stripped naked and they moved with elegance, holding, stroking and grasping with each other as the music built. People sat around in overstuffed chairs watching. Some were plainly aroused from the sexual display and others were observers, like an art critique studying a piece for the first time. Across the floor sat a man in dark business dress. His hair was feathered; his collar unbuttoned and tie absent, like he had been engaging in his own carnal dance. Standing at his side was a woman dressed in a patent leather maid outfit, balancing on neck-breaking high heel boots with a heel so high she was balancing on her tip-toes like a ballet dancer. Bound in her clothing, Anna noticed a sensuality in the curves of the woman’s body.
Looking straightforward, the maid did not break her concentration, never focusing on anything particular in the room. Her hair was pulled tight and piled on top of her head and her makeup was perfect. The woman stood there at attention beside the man, with her arms bound behind her back, laced up in a shiny black patent leather sleeve. Instinctively, Anna thought of this as a window into punishment and degradation, but looking at the man’s face and how he looked up at her, Anna could only see a glow of love shared in their eyes. This all confused her.
“They make quite a pair.” Victor broke her concentration, and Anna quickly looked back at the erotic dancers, hoping he was not referring to the maid she had been watching. “At first glance most people would find the two of them as an abomination and perhaps declare them mentally disturbed, but I look around this room and see people finding peace with themselves being displayed in complete honesty.”
“That frightens me,” she defended.
“Look at her,” he instructed and Anna’s eyelids fluttered, fighting against her will to get a good long look. “Look at her face.” He moved his chair till he sat behind her, spreading his legs to fit her chair between them. Reaching up, he brushed a couple stray hairs off her neck. “Look at her neck and shoulders.” Running circles over her neck and trailing down to her shoulders, he could feel gooseflesh rise up under his touch and heard her breath catch. “She is perfectly relaxed and at peace.” He ran his finger down her arms and then along the underside till he lined the outside of her right breast. Anna did not move, completely entranced by his voice and what she saw.
Following his instructions with her eyes, she found his touch and draw from the woman all the sensations she felt, linking them together in that instant. Suddenly his voice and touch brought out the beauty in what the woman displayed in her costume and presence. Anna did not flinch when his fingers boldly touched her breasts and she was surprised to find that she longed for him to take a much bolder move on her body. Soon his words became a melodic background when she suddenly could not remove her eyes from the couple. Every glance they made to each other showed an exchange of love and passion. This was not just a display of dominance, but an interaction and display of love.
“What is she to him?” she asked, licking her dry lips and struggling to breathe under his touch. She watched as the man reached around the woman’s waist, pulling her down on his lap. He turned around, safely guiding her to assist where she needed balance with her arms still laced behind her back. She sat straight on his lap, not fighting or flinching and gave out one brief flicker of her lips when he leaned over to kiss the tops of her breasts.
“You mean, is she a plaything or employee?” he asked. His voice had dropped and was a deep guttural sound. Anna couldn’t manage a word, pressing her thighs together, focusing on trying to keep her sexual needs hidden. She could smell her own wet sex and fought to contain her own arousal. “They have been both, but now they are lovers. They own this place and are very good friends of mine.” His hand moved under her breast, sensually rubbing her upper rib cage, pulling her back in her chair. Warmth rushed under her skin from the erotic feeling of his possessive touch, knowing that any passerby could plainly see she was claimed. This was all moving so fast and she didn’t understand it all.
Anna looked over her shoulder, stretching her torso and opening herself up to more of his touch. “Do you mean you—” She felt a rise of jealousy and shame for her inability to compare to the sexual pair of lovers across the room with her meager experience.
“No!” He quickly pulled his arm back from her and Anna bit back a plea for him to return to her. “We are nothing more than friends.”
“Then do you have your own…plaything?” she asked with a broken brow.
“I did until recently, but I had to release her when I saw a beautiful woman enter a ballroom dressed like sin and still glowing from her own innocence.” Holding her focus with his eyes, he raised his hand to gently cradle the side of her face.
“Is your innocent seductress here now?” She hoped that she would not see a bondage slave of his own walk up.
“Yes.” Anna choked on her breath. “And she is sitting right in front of me.”
Shaking her head, she rubbed her cheek in his hand and was warmed by the friction of her warm cheek against his cold hand.
“I should not be doing this.” His protest was lost to her; she could no longer hear anything beyond her own heartbeat and felt only his touch. “You are not safe with me and if I were wise I would send you home now.”
“I don’t understand.” She purred into his palm and his body stiffened.
“I was there.” He struggled to confess, and Anna was even more confused. “At the masquerade last week. I was there and saw you.”
The confession was not what she had expected and Anna froze in her seat. Their eyes locked and fire passed between their stares, locking them in a sensual vortex. A knowing light sparked in her mind and she was hit with a flash of an erotic scene beyond anything she should be capable of imagining. Anna witnessed in an instant her humiliation of being abandoned at the bar by the man earlier and a half naked cheerleader. She watched herself getting washed away in a green wave of absinthe sinking down its sweet licorice taste and getting pulled out by this man. So much rushed through her head that she was growing dizzy and unable to tell if her vision was real or not until she felt the floor fall out from under her and a man embrace her in the most empowering, dominating sexual kiss she had ever known.
His burning stare overpowered her and Anna felt her body burn up in the rush of desire and need. Grabbing hold of the back of her chair, he picked it up with inhuman strength and tilted it to pour her into his lap. She was encased in two strong arms and before she could comprehend any protest, his lips claimed her. Attacking her with a kiss that left them both clinging and pulling at each other. They were an inferno that was soon to burn out of control. Writhing on his lap, she could feel his erection reaching for her.
“Please,” she moaned out of control and did not take notice to observe who had shifted their focus from the dance floor to the two of them. “Please,” she pleaded again and was answered by him standing with her secured in his arms. Anna did not understand what was happening and felt overwhelmed by it all. She could not tell what was real or fantasy, but she did not wish for any of it to end.
Pulling away from her, he looked dead into her eyes with warning.
“You will regret this,” he warned her. “And so will I,” he confessed.
A California girl to her core, Eryn was born in East L.A. and raised by her inspirational and talented mother in Sierra Madre, California (hidden above the rosy city of Pasadena). There she indulged herself in reading Anne of Green Gables, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Ivanhoe under the California sun, but she never had any interest in the romance genre beyond the classics. Then one long, lonely night a few years ago, she came across a friend’s discarded paperback romance and she has been hooked ever since. A lover of reading and a lover of… well… just a lover, Eryn has taken on this new adventure in her life putting pen to paper and digging deep to reveal all of the delightful and erotic stories that have tormented her dreams. Eryn hopes that you will enjoy reading her adventures as much as she has enjoyed writing them.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Eryn Black, here are some of her author links:
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Victor Titus, the male main character of Kindred Sacrifice, and Eryn Black, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so much fun to have you here! 🙂