Whenever I pick up a book at the bookstore, the first thing I read is the back cover copy. I’m looking for something that will incite me to buy the book—or at least intrigue me enough to open the book and read the first few pages. Perhaps a mystery that sounds unusually dangerous to pursue, an urban fantasy set in a heretofore unimagined world, or a comedic premise that makes me smile. Better yet, a romance that, on the surface, seems impossible.
With a romance, I already know how the story ends—or how it should end to have any hope of satisfying me. The hero and heroine end up together. There’s no secret there. The fascinating part of any romance novel is the journey—the hair-pin turns, heart-stopping descents and breathless loops of the rollercoaster that is their relationship. And for me, the more doubtful their prospects at the outset, the better the read will be.
He’s an art thief who steals a famous painting. She’s a highly intuitive lady detective, determined to bring a criminal to justice and return the painting to the museum. Hmmm. I’m not sure how that could possibly work out. Guess I’ll have to read The Thomas Crowne Affair.
She steals money from a drug kingpin and goes on the run. He’s the ruthless assassin hired by the drug kingpin to find and kill her. Hmmm. I’m not sure how that could possibly work out. Guess I’ll have to read Death Angel.
She’s a vampire hunter out for vengeance. He’s the vampire who captures her and forces her to do his bidding. Hmmm. I’m not sure how that could possibly work out. Guess I’ll have to read Halfway to the Grave.
My fascination with impossible love led me to create not one hurdle but three for my hero and heroine in DRAWN INTO DARKNESS. The hero Lachlan starts off the story in the guise of a priest. Yup, black suit, white collar, and big silver cross around his neck. Now, he’s not actually a priest, but the heroine Rachel doesn’t know that.
Annoyed by how easily guilt chewed into her, Rachel tugged Em to the stairwell. She flung open the steel door and promptly rammed into a warm, solid barrier. A man, wearing a dark suit, bent over. If she hadn’t steadied herself with a hand on his backside, she might have flipped right over the fellow.
“Oh! I’m so sorry.”
He straightened. “My fault, I dropped my cell phone.”
Rachel blinked. Black suit, plus white collar, equaled . . . priest. She snatched her hand away. Not just any priest, but the very one the emergency workers had pointed to as her daughter’s saintly rescuer.
Those two facts alone should have placed him in the untouchable category, but her flustered hormones didn’t seem to care. As she eyed all six-feet-plus of his muscular frame, her heartbeat skittered. Honestly, if more clergymen looked like this, the churches would be full.
He held her gaze for a brief moment, a strangely palpable moment, then shifted his attention to Emily, who slouched indifferently at her side, black streaks of mascara and eyeliner running down her face. “You okay?”
“Yes, she is,” Rachel jumped in, embarrassed by her daughter’s attitude-laden response. “Of course she is. Thanks to you. I wanted to come over and say something at the accident scene, but the police and the press had you cornered.”
Was it a sin to think a priest was a hunk? That classically handsome face, blunted by just a dash of weary experience, made her breath hitch. Even with his black suit wrinkled and stained, and his short brown hair a spiky mess, he looked absolutely amazing.
His gaze came back to her. Blue-gray eyes. Steady and very perceptive. “Glad I was there.”
Heat rushed into her cheeks. Hugging a stiff-shouldered Em, she said weakly, “Yes. We are, too.”
Then there’s the whole he’s-dead-she’s-not problem.
He filled the kettle and put it on the stove. “How is Emily doing? Recovered fully from the accident?”
“Funny you should ask,” Rachel responded dryly. “She’s why I’m here.” Then she flushed a charming shade of rosy pink. “Probably inappropriate of me, but I asked around to find out which apartment was yours. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No’ at all.”
Mind didn’t begin to describe the turmoil in his gut. He wanted to be pleased that she’d sought him out, but a host of old memories rose up right along with his male pride. Memories of what it felt like to have a woman desire him, to win her love, to have his heart ripped out when she died—which all living things eventually did. He took two cups and a teapot out of the cupboard.
But the big kicker is that Lachlan’s job as a Soul Gatherer is to collect the souls of the dead and he’s just been told the next soul he’s supposed to gather is that of Rachel’s teenage daughter.
The next morning, quite auspiciously, it rained.
The steady drizzle perked up the wilting lawn and brought to Lachlan’s mind, however briefly, the soft wet weather of Scotland. Standing on the balcony, with a steaming cup of coffee in hand and his face turned up to meet the fine spray, he almost missed Emily’s regular trek to the bus stop.
But the grunt the teenager gave as she hefted her large backpack over her shoulders drew his attention to the stone pathway—and to Emily’s straggly hair and black-lined eyes.
And that’s when the earth stopped spinning.
Perhaps on a bright sunny day it might not have been so noticeable, but in the overcast gloom, the pearly white mark glowed like a lighthouse beacon, even through the pancake make-up. Even through the rain.
The helix of Death.
On Emily’s cheek.
Bile replaced the nutty taste of coffee on his tongue. The fact that he could see it meant that he was the one destined to gather her soul. Closing his eyes, he shut out the image of the ghastly, immutable mark, unwilling to accept that it was truly there.
Hmmm. I’m not sure how that could possibly work out. :-)
When you peruse the back cover copy of a novel, what are you looking for? Does it depend on the mood you’re in? Are there certain storylines that always draw you in?
What is a Soul Gatherer?
Each Soul Gatherer is a redeemable sinner serving a five hundred year term in purgatory as a warrior for Death. Tasked with collecting the souls of the departed and ensuring those souls arrive at their ultimate destination–heaven or hell–a Soul Gatherer must constantly be on guard against demon soul thieves.
Plane – The Soul Gatherer world is divided into three planes: upper, middle, and lower. The upper plane is heaven, the middle plane is earth as we know it, and the lower plane is hell.
Barrier – The mystical separation between the middle plane and each of the other two planes. To cross from hell onto the middle plane, a demon must break through the barrier. Passage through the barrier is marked by arcs of electricity: blue if it’s an angel descending from heaven, red if it’s a demon arriving from hell.
Primal spell – A spell provided by the gods.
Protectorate – A secret group of priests dedicated to ensuring important religious relics don’t end up in the wrong hands.
Romany Council – A group of Romany mages, unaffiliated with the Protectorate, who help in the battle against Satan.
Make sure and leave a comment or question for Annette as she will be giving away a copy of her book "Drawn Into Darkness. Don't forget the email addy everyone or you won't be entered. Winner will be announced at the end of the week.