Monday, June 29, 2009
I’m so excited to be able to guest-blog on my release day! Thank you Terra! My fourth book, I Shot You Babe, debuts on bookshelves today! This is the fourth book in the Greatest Hits series at Dorchester, featuring the adventures of the Bombay Family, whose business is assassination.
My first book (‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy) in the series was about Gin Bombay, soccer-mom/assassin and her trials and tribulations as she tries to start up a Girl Scout troop for her kindergartner and take out a terrorist for the family business. The second book featured Dak, Gin’s younger, playboy brother as he juggles a son he didn’t know existed with rival agency of assassins in Guns Will Keep Us Together. Since each book features a different Bombay, the third book, Stand By Your Hitman, was about the family’s inventor, Missi, as she tries to complete her assignment while on a cheap, Canadian knock-off of Survivor. This brings us to I Shot You Babe, about Coney (or Cy), a carney with a Ph.D. in philosophy and a guinea pig named Sartre. It takes place mostly in Mongolia.
I just re-read this and it looks a little like a crazy person wrote it. But it’s all true. My books are just a smidge off-kilter, or “delightfully whacked out,” as one reviewer called it.
But these things pale in comparison to the idea that I broke the rules on two of the books. Dak and Cy’s books are written completely in first person. These are romances strictly from the male point of view.
When I first did this with Guns Will Keep Us Together, my editor said, “Wow. No one has really done that before.” My response was, “It’s a good thing you never told me that or I wouldn’t have written it.” Why did I write these books that way? I guess my answer is a little schizophrenic. Because that’s the way the characters told me their story. I’m not sure I could’ve written them any other way.
Granted, writing as a man is pretty hard. My critique group had to work overtime to remind me what a guy wouldn’t say. And I can’t even tell you how many times I bugged my husband while he was showering/working/asleep to ask him if a man would really say, “lovely.”
In the end, they were published how I wrote them. I’d like to think it’s because I’m brilliant but I think it mostly has to do with my patient (and possibly desperate) editor. But you can check it out for yourself:
Excerpt ~ Chapter 1
“I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.” -Mark Twain
Okay. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A pro football player walks into a bar. He falls to the floor clutching his head in pain and says, “I didn’t see that coming.” True story. Although maybe, just maybe, it would be more accurate to say the iron rod walked into the football player, but I’m telling it my way.
I managed to kick the guy in the ribs as he tried to get up, but one of his enormous hands (which, I assume, can only have made him good at his sport) grabbed my ankle and pulled me down to join him on the floor. It was at this point he seemed to gain the upper hand. The lumbering side-o-beef with legs climbed on top of me, bouncing my head off the cement twice. This did nothing for my self-esteem and probably wasn’t good for the “rugged attractiveness” women told me I had. Did you know you actually do see stars when your head is pummeled against something so unyielding as concrete? I know, it seems too cartoonish, but then, there it is.
I distracted my target by biting his forearm. I’m not fond of biting, but in this business, you have to think quickly. As he screamed, I punched him in the throat, and he crumpled over like a stack of dimes. With Vic (as in, my victim) facedown, I climbed on top and began my chokehold. Frankly, I was tired of using a chokehold. So overdone and not terribly elegant.
Vic struggled to get free, but unfortunately for him, he was losing strength. To my surprise, he got lucky and managed to flail out, catching me (quite to his surprise) in the gut with his elbow. I dropped him and he scrambled backward until he hit the wall.
I walked toward him slowly (for dramatic effect, of course). The bastard wasn’t going anywhere. Stupid athlete. They always think they can handle themselves in a fight. It was true he was much larger than me. But it was also true that because of this fact, he’d never really had to fight before. For his first actual battle, he was literally fighting for his life. A brilliant irony I thought would likely be wasted on him.
My fist hit him square in the face, and he slid down the wall. Through the gurgling blood coursing from his nose into his mouth just seconds before I sent the broken shards of his nose piercing into his brain, he asked, “Who are you?”
Bombay. Coney Island Bombay. Actually, you can call me Cy. I only go by Coney when I’m working as a carney. Most of the time I prefer eliminating the middle three letters from my name. It’s kind of like what I really do, which is eliminating bad people.
That might sound a bit simplistic. Sorry about that. But there really is no point in analyzing it any further. I know this because I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and it has driven me to distraction most of my life. It is possible to over think things now and then. After all, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
This, however, isn’t one of those times. This time, the cigar is more than it seems. The rather ugly, large cigar of which I speak (who now lay lifeless on his basement floor) was a popular sports figure who ran an illegal white slave trade on the side. I’ve never been much of a sports fan. It seems wrong to me that professional athletes make millions of dollars when scientists trying to cure cancer and teachers educating children live from check to check. This gig was my own small contribution to evening things out. You know. The old yin-yang thing.
My Vic was a professional football player who’d invested in an Eastern European slaver. The slaver sent young women all over the world to work as prostitutes. I use the past tense because I took care of that bastard a couple of days ago. The athlete was quick to join him in death. It wasn’t pretty. And honestly, I don’t feel too bad about that.
Most of the Bombays tend to maintain a low profile when it comes to wet work. Making murder look like an accident seems to make them feel better. I don’t really go that route. My preferred modus operandi is to actually make it appear to be foul play. And if you knew how bad these people were, you’d probably agree with me.
Two days later, the police and media seemed to think the Russian mafia was responsible and when the evidence I left behind revealed his crimes, Vic’s jersey and status were yanked from the Football Hall of Fame. My mother and the rest of the Bombay Council were pleased. Dad, an Aussie, had to call to remind me that technically, my Vic didn’t play real football. But that’s Pop, always splitting hairs.
My family history is interesting, in a bloodthirsty sort of way. The Bombays have cornered the market on international assassination for hire since ancient Greece. Every infant born into Bombay blood becomes a killer. We begin training at age five and progress from there. There is no way out. Once you are born a Bombay, your fate is sealed. No one rebels unless they have a suicide wish. Occasionally, one does. What can I say? Every family has at least one idiot. Doesn’t yours?
The football job took place in Chicago, and a few days later I was in Omaha. The alarm went off at six a.m., and I sat up on the edge of my bed, running my hands through my hair. You might think I’m a morning person. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m actually more of a discipline guy. I get up to make myself functional. The exercise that follows is simply for masochistic purposes. I’ve been told I’m in excellent shape. It’s the discipline thing.
Wheek! Wheek! came the brain-splitting cry of my guinea pig, Sartre. The minute I wake up, she reminds me that it’s time for breakfast. She’s affectionate and sweet, but I’ve always suspected that she considers me to be little more than a servant.
“Here you are,” I said as I placed a small dish of strawberries, collard greens and baby carrots in front of her. Sartre grunted and began her feast. I walked to the door of my trailer to get the paper.
When I’m on the road (which is pretty much always), I like to park my RV in Wal-Mart parking lots. They seem to have a camper cult following. Every one I’ve stayed at leaves a newspaper at my door in the morning and has fresh coffee ready before the shoppers arrive. I like that. It’s a nice touch.
Opening the door revealed a bright, late August. I scooped up the paper and nodded to the older woman standing in the parking lot, across from me. It was then I realized that I hadn’t put any clothes on. Huh. I shut the door behind me (but not before winking at the lady) and after tossing the paper on a chair, threw on some running clothes. Ten minutes later, I opened the door to find her and several other women standing in the same place. I don’t know what they hoped to see, but clearly my having clothes on had been a bit of a buzz kill. Just for fun I grinned and shouted “G’day ladies” with an Australian accent (something I inherited from Dad). That seemed to do the trick. I believe one actually fainted.
Make sure and leave Leslie a question about the Chapter One Excerpt and your email addy to be eligable to win a delicious copy of "I Shot You Babe". One lucky winner will be announced on Friday!
FEARLESS IN BATTLE...
His surcoat still bloody from battle, William FitzAlan comes to claim the strategic borderlands granted to him by the king. One last prize awaits him at the castle gates: the lovely Lady Catherine Rayburn.
TENDER IN BED...
Catherine risked everything to spy for the crown. Her reward? Her lands are declared forfeit and she is given this choice: marry FitzAlan or be taken to the Tower. Catherine agrees to give her handsome new husband her body, but she’s keeping secrets and dares not give him her heart. As passion ignites and danger closes in, Catherine and William must learn to trust in each other to save their marriage, their land, and their very lives.
I've got 5 copies to give away, many thanks to Anna at Hatchette for the books!!
So This Is What You Have To Do To Get An Entry!
1. Leave a Comment +1
2. Follow Me +1 already a follower +2
3. Post this contest on your blog (can be on your sidebar or a post) +3
PLEASE put your email in your comments or no entry (no exceptions).
This is for the USA and canada only please and no Po Boxes (publishers rule)!
Winners will be announced on July 10th!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel Blog Tour (One Day Only)
Torn Between. . .
Alexandrine Marit is a witch in mortal danager. An evil mage craves the powerful, mysterious talisman that supplies her magic, and the only person who can keep her alive is a dark and dangerous fiend called Xia. With his fierce animosity toward witches, he's hardly the ideal bodyguard. Yet as days turn into nights, she can't deny the white-hot passion between them.
Desire and Temptation . . .
Xia hates witches. They enslave and mercilessly kill his kind. But he's been ordered to protect Alexandrine, who, to his surprise, has a spirit he admires and a body he longs to possess. With the mage and his henchmen closing in, Alexandrine and her protector must trust the passion that can unite them . . . or risk losing everything to the enemies who can destroy them both.
I've got 5 copies to give away, many thanks to Anna at Hatchette for the books!!
So This Is What You Have To Do To Get An Entry!
1. Leave a Comment +1
2. Follow Me +1 already a follower +2
3. Post this contest on your blog (can be on your sidebar or a post) +3
PLEASE put your email in your comments or no entry (no exceptions).
This is for the USA and canada only please and no Po Boxes (publishers rule)!
Winners will be announced on June 29th!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
This is so exciting! Thank you for having me as a guest today, I’m very happy to be here to chat about my newest release Forever Immortal.
This is the fourth in my Immortals series, and I have to admit that it is one of my favourite books to date. Why is that, you ask? Well, mostly because these characters are so dear to me. I’ve had a lot of time to get to know them and really dig into their heads (having started this book almost two years ago).
Gideon is the kind of alpha hero who’s always considered himself a beta. He has spent most of his life hunched over a microscope, and while he’s never been lacking for female companionship when he wants it, he is much more comfortable by himself with his research, or spending time with his sister. He thinks of himself as an easygoing guy without many troubles...that is until he becomes an Immortal and his life takes a serious detour that he never planned on.
As if the fact that there are demons afoot isn’t already a lot for a scientist to absorb, Gideon suddenly finds himself thrown into the middle of an all-out war—something for which he is ill-equipped to deal with. He has never been a fighter, and coming to terms with all of this has him reeling.
In many ways, Lyssa and Gideon are very similar. Lyssa is certain that she understands the parameters of her world. And as an orphan working a dead-end job in a busy office, she is absolutely certain of her place in that world—on the sidelines.
In all her life, Lyssa hasn’t been able to find that one place where she feels needed, at home, loved. She feels as if she hasn’t experienced enough or done enough with her life, and that she’ll be left behind as the rest of the world moves on with their fulfilling, normal lives. All of these feelings are magnified when she is put between an Immortal and a demon in a deadly battle and ends up trapped in hell for eight long years.
When the two come together again, so many things have changed...not the least of which is what side each of them find themselves on.
...For Lyssa is no longer human, but the very thing that Gideon is sworn to destroy.
© Forever Immortal, J.K. Coi
While Gideon didn’t want to hurt the woman, he was growing weary of getting beat up on when he hadn’t done anything to her to deserve such treatment.
He reached for her wrist and she twisted out of his hold, lunging away from him again before jabbing him in the ribs and twirling out of his reach. He went for her shoulder from behind, and as he grazed the back of her neck, the woman went ballistic.
Crazed now, she turned into a frenzied berserker, spinning in his arms, wildly kicking and biting, tearing her nails across his cheek.
“Damn it, woman. That’s enough,” he ground out.
Gideon deflected the next of her blows and then he stepped toward her. He swept his leg behind her to push her off balance, and followed her down. They hit the ground, Gideon on top. He tried holding her still as he straddled her slight frame. Forced to lock her wrists in both of his hands, he stretched them above her head. Though she had yet to make a sound, she continued to fight, writhing and twisting beneath him, bucking her hips in an attempt to push him off of her.
“Jesus Christ. Be still, won’t you? I’m not going to hurt you.” It was as if he hadn’t spoken, or she hadn’t heard.
He transferred her hands to one of his so that he could push aside the dirty and matted veil of hair from her face. It was impossible to tell what color it was, but as her face was revealed and he stared into those desperate green eyes, he knew that when clean her hair would burn. A brilliant, stunning red.
Her eyes feral with fear and rage, this woman was his past come back to haunt him.
“Stop.” He struggled to keep her still. He needed a second to figure out what the hell he was going to do. But it was impossible to think with this thrashing, squirming fireball under him. In a rush, everything he had tried to forget about her came back to him. The way she had looked that night in her slinky black dress, the softness of her skin under his mouth, her crisp, fresh scent that had reminded him of spring flowers.
Even though he cursed himself for being a sick bastard, Gideon couldn’t help but look at her body. He noticed the flash of smooth belly as her shirt jerked up from her waist. And when her strong, muscled thighs flexed and surged against his knees, trying to shove him from his position on top of her, he couldn’t help but imagine how those same thighs would feel wrapped around his waist.
“Stop,” he said again, with more urgency this time. “I won’t hurt you. Lyssa—”
She hissed at him, a harsh, animal sound of anger and disbelief. Jerking out of his grasp, she slammed her fist hard into his Adam’s apple. He doubled over with a harsh cough, his eyes watering, and she managed to crawl out from under him. Still gagging, he quickly shot out an arm to pull her back, but only succeeded in snagging her ankle.
She stumbled, fell, and he was on top of her again, but she fought him even more desperately. In his attempt to subdue her, he snagged the round collar of her shirt and pulled. They both froze as the dirty, fragile material tore.
Gideon’s gaze was drawn to the symbol that had been etched into the skin above her heart, high on her left shoulder.
He knew at once what this was, what it meant. And he cursed himself for not realizing it sooner. Lyssa should not have lasted a day in the demon realms without being eaten alive...probably literally. The very fact that this woman was here, after being trapped on the other side for so long, was a virtual impossibility—unless something had been done to her to keep her alive.
Unless she was no longer human.
J.K. Coi writes dark and edgy paranormal romance, where love is all consuming, the stakes are always high, and the immortals are to die for.
Leave J.K. Coi a question about her article or book and your email addy to be entered to win a printed copy of her first book that she will be giving away. Winners will be announced at the end of the week.
Forever Immortal is now available from Linden Bay Romance (http://www.lindenbayromance.com/product-foreverimmortal-7193-193.html).
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Long before my debut book, La Vida Vampire, hit the shelves in April 2008, I brainstormed the sequel with one of my dear friends and critique partners, Lynn Michaels. Once I spoke of the major action I saw happening, Lynne and I talked about the catalyst.
And of the character that would serve as the catalyst.
Yes, I know that inciting incidents are normally thought of as events. However, except for natural disasters, incidents that catalyze a story – in real life or fiction – are intimately entwined with the actions and reactions of individuals and groups. Conflicts are fueled because someone decides to buy a house or take a cruise, rob a bank or assassinate an Archduke. (My life as a U.S. History and Government teacher is showing.)
Since I didn’t see an existing character in the catalyst role, the question of a new character arose. My heroine, Cesca, was already an off-the-beaten-track vampire character. Did I want to introduce a new vamp character that was more “normal” than Cesca?
Maybe it’s my longtime love of romantic – and screwball – comedy, or maybe it’s just the way I am, but I love humor. Therefore, my answer was swift and clear.
“I want wacky,” I told Lynn. “An offbeat, funky character I can really have fun with.”
“Like what?” Lynn asked.
“Like a vampire who has a boring job but wants to be a stand-up comic.”
“Hmmm. Could work,” Lynn said, “but you might have a hard time dropping a vampire into a job too opposite from what he already does. Unless ….”
In the following few minutes, Jo-Jo the Jester was born. At Lynn’s suggestion, Jo-Jo’s original background was that of a full-fledged, if never terribly amusing, court jester. I figured Jo-Jo had to have kept his hand in show biz somehow, so decided he worked as a nights-only Vaudeville performer on stage. Then I gave him a partner, and visualized them as the vampire version of George Burns and Gracie Allen. Okay, again, not Burns and Allen funny, but good enough to survive until Vaudeville declined.
So there I am with a vampire wannabe stand-up comic character, and I think I know what’s going to happen when he enters Stage Right.
Not so much.
Jo-Jo burst into those manuscript pages in ways I hadn’t imagined. The “royal” names he called Cesca and the not-funny funny things he said had me cracking up. He was so much more than I thought he’d be, and it was the other aspects of his character that endeared him to me. And, yep, I had to keep watch so he didn’t take over the book.
Here’s a brief excerpt of Cesca and Saber’s first meeting with Jo-Jo in Last Vampire Standing:
“Jo-Jo,” I said, willing my voice steady, and my body warm, “Saber asked you a question. What do you want?”
He squared his shoulders. “If the royal Princess would but grant my boon, I seek political asylum.”
“Only a country can grant political asylum, so you might as well leave.”
“Wait,” he said, fear on his filthy face. “How about sanctuary? I will be your slave, live only to serve you, my Princess Beneficent.”
“Slavery has been outlawed for a couple of centuries.”
“A servant then?” he pressed, his expression pleading. “I do housework. Even windows, your Vast Wonderfulness.”
I looked down at my size four green cotton shorts and matching scoop neck spaghetti strap top. I am not vast.
“I don’t want a servant,” I said, not bothering to keep huffy out of my tone. “This is the US of A. Land of the free --”
“Home of the tax payer,” Jo-Jo interjected.
Jo-Jo’s sharp chin went up. “It’s a line from my comedy routine.”
Saber shook his head. “With jokes like that, you do need protection.”
Of course, my biggest challenge came when it was time for Jo-Jo to hit the stage for open mike night. He could’ve tossed out one-liners, but he needed an act, not just a series of jokes. There’s a darn good reason why I’m not a professional joke writer, but with the help of critique buddies and a few random remarks by friends, Jo-Jo’s act took shape. And, of course, Jo-Jo’s stage presence and his built-in gimmick of being a real vampire carried the day far more than his act.
What about you? Do you have a favorite author who writes humor? A favorite comedy character? How about a fav comedy movie or TV series? I’d love to compare notes and build up the TBR pile even more! If you’re a published author and leave a comment, please also leave your web URL or title of your last or upcoming book! I like sharing the stage!
Terra, thank you for inviting me to visit! You’ve been a marvelous hostess!
Nancy is giving away a copy of Last Vampire Standing, but you must leave an answer to one of the questions to be entered. For more opportunities to win a book, see the Beach Party page on Nancy’s web site – www.nancyhaddock.com.
Monday, June 22, 2009
*Sita ~ Every Demon Has His Day by Cara Lockwood
booklover1335 ~ Every Demon Has His Day by Cara Lockwood
*Kytaira ~ The Seduction of A Duke by Donna MacMeans
*NightDweller20 ~ Tales of Love by Donna MacMeans
Please send your snail mail info to terraontop57 at yahoo dot com. Congrats to all our winners and I hope you enjoy your prizes!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
My most recent novel is a departure from my past work. It’s called Every Demon Has His Day and it’s the first book in a series (the sequel, Can’t Teach an Old Demon New Tricks is out in 2010), and it’s your not-so-typical Girl meets Demon story, where our heroine discovers she’s the Chosen One who must prevent the conception of the Antichrist. Her only helpers are the ghost of her useless almost-ex husband and a talking French Bulldog in a pink sweater. Looks like God likes rooting for underdogs.
Constance Plyd is the heroine of our story, which takes place in Dogwood County, east Texas. Unbeknownst to the folks who live there, Dogwood is an ancient battleground between good and evil. Constance, who up until now was most famous for her chicken-fried steak recipe, discovers she has the “sight” and is the only one who can stop the devil from taking over the world.
As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, there’s the little issue of a demon having killed her soon-to-be ex-husband, and sexy sheriff Nathan Garrett suspecting she had more than a little to do with her husband’s untimely demise. Constance and Nathan have a history. Back in the day, Nathan relieved Constance of her virginity and then forgot to call. She’s been holding a grudge a long while, and when Nathan saunters back into her life (cocky smile and good looks still intact ten years later) Constance isn’t happy to see him.
When Constance has a vision telling her pop princess Dante London is going to give birth to the Antichrist, she feels she has to try to warn her, and goes to the set of her movie, being filmed on a ranch in Dogwood. She has a run-in there with the sheriff, and well, I’ll let the book speak for itself…
The crowds of people she’d seen before milling and working on the set had disappeared, and she guessed it was dinner time, or they had wrapped for the night.
The set was a little eerie so empty, and Constance picked up her pace.
She didn’t get another step before two strong hands came at her from behind, one of them wrapping around her mouth, and pulling her in between two white trailers.
Her first thought was – demon. Should she struggle? Scream? And why wasn’t she at least wearing a cross? Damn her lack of planning.
Before she could decide her next step, she was whirled around and came face to face with Nathan Garrett.
“Now, before I arrest you,” he drawled, his face close and his dark eyes on hers. “Would you like to tell me just what on earth you’re doing here?”
Constance felt her heart speed up, and she wasn’t entirely sure it was just because she was still mad as hell at him. Nathan’s hands were strong and big around her arms and she couldn’t help but remember the last time they were this close he unhooked her bra with one hand.
“None of your business,” she said, crossly.
“I think it is my business,” he said, tightening his grip slightly. “Since you’re supposed to be at the police station.”
“Ow, fine, stop the police brutality,” she said, trying to wiggle free. “I’m trying to get an autograph.”
The lie sat awkwardly on her tongue. She hated to lie. Every inch of her being rebelled against it, and yet, she couldn’t very well tell Nathan the truth. He’d lock her up in a second. The space between the trailers Nathan had pulled her into was snug, and she was inches from him. Even as he loosened his grip on her arms, she felt like he sucked the oxygen right out of the air. She couldn’t breathe.
Nathan was looking at her skeptically, his dark eyes penetrating and sharp. She couldn’t fool him.
“You’re a Dante London fan?” Nathan said, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He found this funny, apparently. Constance had to admit she wasn’t likely to be following teen pop.
“Oh, um, well, not exactly.”
“So do you want to tell me what in Sam hell you were doing in her trailer just now?”
“Yes, I know, I, uh, well…” Constance struggled to think. It didn’t help that his nose was inches from hers, or that he smelled like cinnamon gum. And she forgot how broad he was. She felt tiny by comparison.
Focus Constance, she told herself. This was a heck of a time to be distracted by a Garrett, especially one in a sheriff’s uniform sporting sharp brown eyes that seemed to know everything she was going to say before she said it. Not to mention, she was mad at him. Mad.
“Just trying to drum up business for the Magnolia Café,” Constance said, thinking fast. “I brought samples.”
Nathan slouched back against the trailer, crossing his arms across his broad chest. “I believe you’re lying to me, Constance Plyd.”
“So you going to tell me what you’re really doing here?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” she managed, meeting his gaze with more bravery than she felt at the moment.
“Try me,” Nathan said, leaning even closer. She had to crane her neck to meet his eyes, which were so close to hers now that she could see his pupils. They were round and big and dark. He was moving in, and she reflexively put up a hand which met his chest. It was strong and solid, and she could swear she felt his heart beating beneath the uniform.
“I….” Constance began, faltering. She felt like he had her in some kind of magnetic lock, a Garrett tractor beam, and she couldn’t help but move closer to him. She found herself arching on tip toes.
And then she did something she never imagined she’d ever do again her whole life.
She up and kissed Nathan Garrett straight on the lips.
Liked what you read? Want to read more? Or, do you just want to help me put my two girls through college? (while neither has actually started kindergarten, yet, I should say it’s never too early to donate to the Lockwood Girls College Fund) Then, by all means buy my book. You can find it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Every-Demon-Has-His-Day/dp/1416550526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235839353&sr=1-1) or at Barnes and Noble (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Every-Demon-Has-His-Day/Cara-Lockwood/e/9781416550525/?itm=1).
Leave Cara a question about her article or book and your email addy to be entered to win one of two signed books that she will be giving away. Winners will be announced at the end of the week.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Thank you, Terra, for inviting me today. I thought as the temperatures outside are heating up, we could chat about another hot topic – SEX. I’m not talking erotica (although those will get you waving a hanky or two) but rather the new sexy historicals.
I think as a society we’ve become more accepting of portrayal of intimacy in romance, both in contemporaries and historicals. Consequently, the new historicals novels have sizzling sex scenes like never before.
My latest Victorian Novel, The Seduction of a Duke (Berkley, April 2009), is no exception. (This, by the way, is the sequel to my earlier Victorian striptease titled The Education of Mrs. Brimley.) It’s an arranged marriage story loosely based on the story of Consuelo Vanderbilt who was forced to marry the Duke of Marlborough. Unlike that real-life event, my story has a happy ending. Adding a sexy twist to that story, I have the new groom suspecting his wife is already pregnant with another man’s child. He can’t ask her as she has motive to lie. Therefore he decides to avoid consummation of their marriage until he knows for sure. On the other hand, my virginal heroine has a motive to become pregnant as soon as possible. So she is trying every trick she can find to seduce her new husband. The push-pull keeps the tension high.
Check out that striped corset on the cover. The artist’s depiction is of a real British corset from the 1880s that I used in my novel. Here’s a sample of its use in the book. The newly married couple are enroute to England. He has been sea sick and she’s been nursing him:
A soft rustle of fabric and accompanying movement pulled his gaze to the aisle between the berths.
His breath caught. An expanse of smooth bare skin, broken only by wispy tendrils of dark hair, expanded above the most provocative corset he had ever had privilege to witness, and he had witnessed a great many in his time. Medium and dark stripes cleverly curved and molded the wearer into a tantalizing hourglass shape, while black lacing down the back teased the eye as it crisscrossed through a medium stripe. She stood so close, his hand was tempted to reach and tug loose the cleverly tied knots. But he didn’t, believing this to be a dream, or a figment of his earlier delirium.
Yet she seemed so real in this pale unearthly light. He clenched his jaw. This must be what happens when a man is so long without a woman. He can vividly recall an angel at will, one who encompasses the best of all mortal women he’d known. Either that, or someone had blessed him with a highly paid strumpet, one who understood the tantalizing play of color and form.
His eyes followed the captivating trail of the lacings to silk encased buttocks. As if by his very thought, his dream mistress bent forward to retrieve something from the floor, the motion pushing her backside even closer for his observation. Lord, his mouth and throat dried to dust. His fingers twitched to feel the firm mounds presented so. But he didn’t for fear that one touch would cause his vision to disappear and return to the dream world from which she came. His bed sheet slid down his chest, the result of his rising erection.
She stood, a printed cotton garment with a design of tiny circular wheels in her hand. She placed it on the opposite mattress where more of the fabric lay. His brain whirled much like the tiny wheels, where had he seen that pattern before?
Her shoulder blades drew back, her elbows lifted at angles to her side, he knew she was unfastening the front of that amazing corset, and he prayed she’d turn around. He ardently wished it so, hoping that as before, she would act upon his thought command. Instead, she spread the unfastened garment wide across her back, like an erotic fan employed in the finest pleasure houses. She released one side of the corset and pulled it to the front of her, leaving a thin creased chemise in its wake. Just as he was enjoying the artistry of her disrobing, the memory of the pattern clicked with shocking reality.
I’d include more but I want to tell you about another book and I fear my space is limited. I recently had the honor to participate in a project with nine other authors to produce an anthology called Tails of Love. All the stories in the anthology celebrate a love of animals and the wonderful, curious ways they take part in our lives. All the author proceeds from the anthology will go to the Animal Adoption Foundation in support of a no-kill animal shelter in Ohio. While most of the stories are contemporary (except mine which involves one of the school girls from The Education of Mrs. Brimley), there’s a wonderful variety of stories – some are sweet, some will make you cry, some have a touch of the paranormal to them. The participating authors are: Lori Foster, Stella Cameron, Kate Angell, Dianne Castell, Ann Christopher, Marcia James, Donna MacMeans, Sarah McCarty, Patricia Sargeant, and Sue-Ellen Welfonder. Here’s a photo of everyone except Stella and Sarah. I’m the one with her mouth open ( surprise, surprise J)
I’m giving away a copy of Tails of Love to one lucky commenter, but if you don’t win a copy – please consider buying one. It’s a great way to assist a worthy cause.
So tell me, do you like the new sexy historicals? What period? Tell me your favorites. How about animals in stories? Any favorites there? Come chat with me. I have a signed copy of The Seduction of a Duke and Tails of Love here to send to two commenters. And don't forget your email addy with your comment!!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Terra: What is the best thing that has changed in your life since becoming a published author?
Lisa: My fans. There is absolutely nothing better than getting fan emails, especially when I’m having a tough day at the keyboard. I love hearing how much they love my characters, whether they’re “Team Mychael” or “Team Tam,” that they “devoured” the books, read the books multiple times, can’t wait for the next one, and urge me to write faster. One of the main reasons why I stuck it out for over 20 years and was so determined to get published was that I had these stories to share and I just knew if I could get them out there that readers would love them and my characters just as much as I do.
Terra: Your books are set in a traditional fantasy world with elves and goblins, but the tone is snarky and has a contemporary feel. Why did you decide to put a heroine with contemporary sensibilities in a Tolkien-esque world of swords and magic?
Lisa: Anyone looking at my bookshelves can see that I love genre fiction: fantasy, detective, action adventure, mystery, romantic comedy, crime capers, and political thrillers. I think that over the years they all just sort of merged in my head and Raine Benares and her world was the result. I simply wrote the type of books I wanted to read, but couldn’t quite find. Well, that and Raine didn’t give me a choice.
Mixing contemporary sensibilities with traditional fantasy was a hard line to walk. I resisted doing it for as long as I could, but I finally gave in. Raine’s voice just wouldn’t be forced into traditional “fantasy speak,” and third-person was out of the question—Raine let me know that in no uncertain terms from day one. Once I started writing in first-person, I immediately found her voice, and I really knew I was on to something when my other characters started coming out of the woodwork as if they heard their cue to come on stage.
Terra: Armed & Magical also has a romantic element, with Raine juggling the attentions of Mychael, a handsome elven knight, and Tam, a sexy goblin dark mage and nightclub owner. Can you tell us more about your goblins? How are they different from the traditional ones?
Lisa: I wanted to do something different with my elves and goblins. I have two finished manuscripts in my office closet that I consider practice books for what I’m writing now. In those books, I went with the more traditional idea of elves. In fact, the character that eventually became Raine was an elf princess, of all things. Knowing Raine now, I look back on that and it cracks me up. When I started writing this series, I decided that not only should Raine be non-royal, she should be from a family of criminals, and she had to work for a living. No hoity-toity elves for me (at least not for Raine and her pirate cousin Phaelan). However, there are a few hoity-toity, pure-blood elves, most notably Raine’s nemesis, a high-elf mage named Carnades Silvanus.
And as to my goblins—I wanted my goblins to be mysterious, sexy, and dangerous. At the goblin court, conspiracy, deception, and seduction are a way of life—not to mention a goblin’s idea of a good time. My goblins are tall, lean, silvery skinned, and wicked sexy. They have long, black hair, and a pair of fangs that aren’t for decorative use only, Tamnais Nathrach is the main goblin in my series, and one of two love interests for Raine. He’s a former duke and dark mage who has been forced due to mysterious circumstances to flee the goblin court. Tam arrives in Raine’s home city of Mermeia and opens the most notorious nightclub and gambling parlor in the city.
Raine’s other potential love interest is Mychael Eiliesor, who’s just your basic tall, hot, and handsome elf. He’s the commander of the Conclave Guardians, the most elite magical fighting force in the seven kingdoms. At first he’s after Raine to keep the Saghred (the stone of cataclysmic power that’s bonded itself to her) from falling into the wrong hands; later he wants to keep Raine from falling into anyone’s hands except his own. Raine begins to suspect that there’s a lot more to Mychael than meets the eye. She’s right.
Terra: And I understand that you’ve recently become a columnist for The Writer magazine.
Lisa: I’d written about The Writer being my favorite writing magazine because it had articles that a writer could use at any point in their career—pre-published, newly published, and established author. And I felt the articles did more than scratch the surface; they dug down into a topic and gave me information that I could actually use. Well, apparently Sarah Lange, the associate editor, had Google Alerts set up for mentions of her magazine online. She commented on my blog that day, which was a huge thrill. And she apparently became a regular reader of my blog. She emailed me and said that she liked my blog and wanted to offer me my own column. And yes, when I read that email there was some serious squeeing involved. I’d always dreamed of having my own column in The Writer magazine. My column will be in the “Take Note” section in the front of the magazine and will be called “Dueling with Words” and will cover fiction writing. My first article will appear in the August 2009 issue, which will be out in early July.
Lisa will be giving away two signed copies of The Trouble with Demons, along with signed bookmarks and postcards from all three books. Make sure and leave Lisa a question pertaining to her books and your email addy to be entered in the giveaway.
Here is an excerpt from Lisa’s third Raine Benares adventure, The Trouble with Demons, on sale now.
I heard the creak of leather as Tam came to stand directly behind me, the heat of his body warming me. Warm and nice. Except it wasn’t nice; it was dangerous. Don’t forget dangerous, Raine. Tam was dangerous to anyone who crossed his path, but mostly to me, especially now.
And I was dangerous to everyone, period.
Tam’s strong hands settled on my shoulders and gently pulled me back against him. I knew it was a bad idea, but I leaned into him anyway, my head resting on his chest. Just a minute or two wouldn’t do any harm. A little comforting never hurt anyone, and right now, I could use some.
Our reflections looked back at us out of the glass.
I watched Tam’s hands slide from my shoulders to my arms. His hands were deliciously warm. My numerous brushes with death today had left me shivering—and not just from cold.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. Those two words said everything, but told me nothing.
Tam could be sorry for any number of things: the bond that linked us, using me to cram that demon into a bottle, me being accused of practicing black magic, or even the crap heap my life had become thanks to the Saghred. But it didn’t tell me what I could do about any of them. The only thing I wanted more than to run was to do something, anything to find a way out of all of this.
Tam wrapped his arms around me, pulling me closer, his head bowed, hair falling in a silken curtain around us. The side of his face softly brushed against mine, like a cat—a big, dangerous cat. A shiver ran through me. This was about to go beyond comforting.
My heart sped up, and not just from Tam’s touch and his scent of fire-heated spices, of cinnamon and cloves. Getting within arms’ reach of Tam had always been risky; the kind of risk where your clothes somehow ended up on the floor. Now risk had turned to danger. Thanks to our bond, we were as intimate as two people could be and still keep their clothes on. The Saghred had forged our bond.
The rock never did anything without a reason—and no wards held it now.
I swallowed hard. “Tam, no.”
“Raine, I would never hurt you.” Tam’s voice was a husky whisper against my ear. It was the whisper of a man torn between what he wanted and the knowledge that what he wanted could ultimately destroy him. Tam wanted me. Tam’s black magic wanted the Saghred. Deep down, he knew it. He knew it and he didn’t care—or he couldn’t stop himself.
In one swift, smooth move, Tam turned me to face him. I didn’t fight him; I needed to see his eyes, to see if Tam was the only one home in there. I looked up into twin pools in a midnight forest. Not the solid black orbs that they’d been under the embassy, no black magic glittering there, just desire. A woman could drown in those pools. I could drown in those pools. But if did, I’d drag Tam under with me. It might not be tonight, but it would happen. The Saghred would see to it.
“No, Tam,” I said quietly. “I’m the one who would hurt you.”
His heart pounded beneath my hands as he pulled me tight against him, his body hard against mine, his breath warm against the tip of my ear. I expected his lips next, followed by a nibble of fang. Neither happened. We stood there, not moving, not speaking, not safe. Definitely not safe. And we both knew it.
Tam pulled back just enough to gaze down at me. “It won’t happen yet.” His denial was murmured on the barest breath. He bent his head, his lips poised above mine. “Not yet.”
I didn’t stop him, and I should have.
Tam’s kiss was a brush of featherlight silk, tentative, cautious; but his breathing had taken on a ragged edge—for me and for the power that had slowed to a soft pulse inside of me, anticipating, waiting. The touch of his lips quickened that pulse, and my breath along with it. Suddenly I was returning his kiss, my mouth pressing insistently against his, my tongue touching the smooth sharpness of his fangs. Tam shivered at the contact, and his breath came in a quick hiss as his long fingers gripped my hair, holding my head still as he kissed me hard and deep, devouring. His other hand left my waist to explore other places. I heard a soft groan; I think it was me. A slim slice of my consciousness knew it was more than me, more than Tam.
Stop this, Raine. Stop it now.
My hands took on a life of their own, sliding from Tam’s chest to his throat. I lingered there, my fingers resting against the vulnerable pulse point, feeling it quicken and throb at my touch. Tam’s arms tightened around me, and suddenly my feet weren’t touching the floor.
This was more than sensation, more than Tam and me. Magic curled in a sensuous swirl of heat through my belly and lower, along my skin and through my mind, and I saw Tam and I pressed together as if I were standing outside my body, a witness to passion that I had no control over. Tam’s magic answered mine, his power responding, transforming those swirls into living vines, touching, entangling.
Heat flared in the center of my chest, awake and eager, and I came back to myself, passion turned to panic.
I wasn’t across the room; I was clenched tightly in Tam’s arms. Our lips parted and we froze, pressed together, breathing fast, our hearts beating faster. Inside of me, the Saghred’s burn went from an exultant blaze to a triumphant smolder.
The rock had just given Tam a sample of the ultimate fix and a taste of me along with it. For a recovering addict, it could be damnation. Tam might be willing to risk it; I wasn’t going to risk Tam or myself.
I got my hands between us and pushed hard against his chest. “Tam, let me go.”
I was panting, so was he. A shudder ran through his body and his hold on me loosened just enough that my feet touched the floor. I was ready to fight him if I had to, but Tam released me.
“I’m sorry,” he managed between breaths.
I pulled air into my lungs, trying to clear my head, and took two steps back. I’d have retreated further, but my back was against the glass wall. Tam made no move to come after me.
I exhaled and tried for some more air. “My fault. Shouldn’t have . . . let you get that close.”
Tam’s lips were parted, breathing softly. “I should have had more control.”
His dark eyes were still drowning pools, reflecting fear at what had happened, but desire at what we’d done. I looked away. I couldn’t drown if I didn’t go swimming again.
“Though control would be easier to come by if you didn’t feel so good.” There was still fear in Tam’s eyes, but his sly grin was sex itself. “And if you hadn’t tried to stick your tongue down my throat.”
“I didn’t try to—” Then memory collided with sensation. Oh yes, I did. Damn.
“Maybe next time we should just stand across the room and talk dirty to each other,” he suggested.
“There can’t be a next time.”
Tam didn’t answer. He might be a scoundrel, but he didn’t make promises he couldn’t keep.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
What a relief to be authors and do something we consider wonderful and magical with the scripts running through our heads. The writer’s life for us is immersion in a fictional world where we live for a while – in the case of Beyond The Code of Conduct, with the Sullivan family. Our decision to write this romantic suspense series stemmed from our reluctance to say goodbye to these characters. Fortunately John and Jean Sullivan’s love affair provided us with sufficient “Sullivan Boys” to play with. We really enjoy the family’s company.
Since we team write our creative process is in many ways a two-way mind meld. Our ages are three and a half years apart and our earliest memories involve creating stories together: neighborhood plays, fantasies about what we’d do as grown-ups and even an imaginary friend or two. We could and can finish each other’s sentences, evidence of very similar thinking styles – yet we are very different women.
One of us has experienced divorce, single parenthood and finding a second chance at romance, remarrying at 40. One of us is married to her teenage sweetheart, became a mother in her early twenties and is a (very) young grandmother. Our father died a few weeks after being diagnosed with acute leukemia in the same month as his forty-sixth birthday – we were nineteen and fifteen years old at the time. Our mother died when we were young mothers, a time when we felt we needed her most. These combined and diverse life experiences as teenagers, women, wives and mothers add dimension and richness to our creative collaboration and depth to our characters.
We’re optimistic, hopeful women so the romance genre fits our mindset and life philosophy. We can attest to the belief that love heals in our real world, so the theme prevails in our fictional worlds. We can’t imagine writing any story that doesn’t end happily (ever after).
In book one of The Sullivan Boy series, our heroine is an emergency room doctor, widow of a policeman shot during a hold-up, and single mother of a ten-year old girl. Our hero, the eldest Sullivan brother, is a homicide lieutenant whose wife left him for another man and one in the family line of six siblings and their father, in law enforcement careers.
In book two, Beyond The Code of Conduct, our Sullivan brother hero was gravely injured in the line of duty as a homicide detective in book one saving the life of our heroine, now a successful FBI Agent. Inactive duty frustrates our hero and loss devastates him when his youngest brother is murdered. Our heroine’s mother died when she was a child.
We were raised to appreciate life’s small pleasures. Our parents dealt with insufficient budgets, unemployment and the challenge of establishing a small business on a shoestring. We have both struggled financially in our adult lives, so the lessons of childhood when by necessity the best things in life better be free or at least cheap, remain in the forefront of our minds.
Early in life, we gobbled up books – reading became and always will be the ultimate, inexpensive fun entertainment at any age for us. Now we create books populated with accessible characters dealing with professions, emotional baggage, loss, and practical problems while striving for that elusive romantic connection with the goal as an author of providing affordable entertainment for our readers.
Make sure and leave a question/comment for the Ladies as they will giveaway a autographed copy of Book 1 in the Sullivan Boys Series, Against Doctors Orders to one lucky winner. Don't forget your email addy!!
Excerpt of Against Doctors Orders
He saw pinpoints of light on his closed lids. “Wow,” the word gushed from his lips. He held her as she snuggled against his chest, both trembling in the aftermath.
“I hear bells,” she said.
“Honey, I hear bells, too. I think it’s your phone.”
His cell phone rang and they pulled back to look at each other.
“This can’t be good news.” He kissed her before he helped her slide off his lap, mostly naked and tantalizing, into her seat. She dove for her purse.
They both dealt with the calls while they grabbed their clothes and wiggled into them.
He fished an emergency beacon out of his glove compartment and set it on the top of his car. The rotating light washed the grass and tree limbs with red swirls.
“He’s hit again,” he said as he started the car. “We’ve got a live victim on the Eisenhower Expressway five minutes away from Chicago Regional.”
“I know,” she said. “They’re trying to patch me in to the paramedics now.”
He thrust the gearshift into reverse, tossed his arm over his seat and floored the accelerator. “Seat belt on?”
He backed the car down the path full tilt. Seatbelts strained as the impacts from the bumpy road jolted them in their seats. The tires hit asphalt and he slammed on the brakes. All the anti-skid devices in the car engaged with a mechanical moan and they fishtailed onto the road. He floored the car again and they took off.
He wanted to tell her what their trip to lovers lane meant to him. But there had to be time for that later. Not now. He could only think one thing. A break. This could be the break I need to stop the bastard.
He heard her calm voice on the phone as he wove among the sparse cars on the expressway and thanked God for the V-8 engine that blasted them down the road over a hundred miles per hour.
“They’re there,” she said as she snapped her phone shut. “My team’s ready for her.”
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
*Pissenlit ~ Immortal Warrior by Lisa Hendrix
*orelukjp0 ~ Immortal Warrior by Lisa Hendrix
*Lisa (rocket_kay) ~ Immortal Warrior by Lisa Hendrix
*Mari~ Every Time We Kiss by Christie Kelley
*scottsgal ~ The Conqueror by Kris Kennedy
Alix ~ In Over Her Head by Judi Fennell
Please send your snail mail info to terraontop57 at yahoo dot com. Congrats to all our winners and I hope you enjoy your prizes!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
When the sun goes down, the beast comes out…
That's one of the tag lines created for IMMORTAL OUTLAW by the brilliant copywriters at Berkley. I love it. For one thing, it establishes my hero's problem in a single sentence.
As one of the members of crew that raided Odinsbrigga in search of treasure, Steinarr suffers from the same curse as the other members of the Immortal Brotherhood: he's a were-beast, and he's going to live forever, enduring the pain of changing from man to beast and back again at every dawn and dusk until the end of time. For Steinarr, when the sun goes down, it's a lion who comes out...so dangerous to others that Steinarr keeps to the deep woods, where the beast can harm no one. It makes him a terribly, terribly isolated man.
For another thing, that tag line has nine words.
When I visited YRR last fall, I wrote about the premise for the Immortal Brotherhood and mentioned that there are nine warriors because nine is a number significant to the Norse Gods. But it's more than simply significant. The gods are obsessed with the number nine, and it turns up constantly in the old sagas and legends (Wikipedia has a partial list of nine references here, if you're curious).
I always intended that nine would play out all through the series. To start out with, I had those nine warriors, nine amulets, nine books to be written. But then without being told to, the copywriters came up with that nine-word tag line. And I—without intending to, I swear—created a nine-clue treasure hunt/quest for Steinarr and his lady-love, Marian. I didn't even realize there were nine clues until I started working on the interactive map of the quest for my website a few days ago. I put in the locations, numbering each clue as Steinarr and Marian found them, and as I neared the end, I was going, "No, it couldn't be, omigosh, there are NINE!"
I'm not superstitious, but clearly, there's something going on in the back of my brain. I'm fixing on nines in just the same way that you start noticing green VW Bugs after you buy one (or run into one). You may have never noticed a green VW in your life, but once it's flagged in your attention monitor, you see them everywhere.
Nines have now been flagged.
Just watch. You'll start noticing nines everywhere now. And when you do, you'll think of Steinarr and IMMORTAL OUTLAW. And why not? I mean, isn't that back gorgeous? Don't you want to think of him any chance you get?
Here's more of the copywriters' brilliance, the back cover copy:
For centuries he’s hidden in the woods. Now a maid has come to lead him out...
It’s been four centuries since Steinarr the Proud was cursed by a wicked sorceress—along with the rest of his Viking crew—to live for eternity as half man, half beast. By day Steinarr is like any other man—by night he is a lion. He has taken refuge in the woods of Nottingham, England, and there he encounters two young travelers, Robin and Marian.
Painfully aware of the danger he presents when the moon rises, Steinarr refuses to help guide them on their search for a special amulet. But a kiss from Marian awakens his desire. How can he protect the maid he so desperately wants to ravish? With motives of his own, Steinarr finally joins their quest, while the sorceress Cwen gathers her dark magic to destroy them.
As a legend spreads of an outlaw in the woods, their band is joined by others. But it is Steinarr who has the most to gain and the most to lose—if he is ever to be free of the curse and free to love as a man…
Yep, it's a Robin Hood story—but not your usual one. And that's all I'm going to say, because you can read the entire prologue and first chapter of IMMORTAL OUTLAW on my website.
And while you're there, poke around a little. You'll find printable bookmarks, a way to get a signed bookplate, that interactive map I mentioned, and other goodies.
Do you have a number that is special to you? What is it and why is it "your" number? Watch for nines today and let me know in Comments where they turn up and whether my little thought experiment worked (i.e., did you think of Steinarr?).
Leave your answer in Comments for a chance to win one of three autographed copies of Book 1, IMMORTAL WARRIOR.
Thanks for stopping by,
IMMORTAL OUTLAW, Berkley Sensation, Available Now
RT TOP PICK, 4-1/2 Stars, K.I.S.S. Hero
Myth. Magic. And the power of love.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Does the idea of being someone you’re not intrigue you? I love a good masquerade party. Hiding behind a mask so people can’t determine your identity, or just becoming someone you’re not for a few hours. It’s exciting to be there wondering if people really know who you are, or not.
In my second book, Every Time We Kiss, masquerades play an important role but not just in the party aspect. Until I started to write this blog, I never realized the parallels that I had written into the story. The hero and heroine, Matthew and Jennette, first meet at a masquerade party for the heroine’s twenty-fifth birthday. They had known each other years ago but this is the first time she’s seen him in over five years. At first, she doesn’t recognize him behind the mask he’s wearing.
The second masquerade party is part of the black moment of the story. The couple are both starting to believe they could be in love and make their relationship work when everything is ruined by another character (in a mask of course).
But then as I wrote this, I realized that both my characters have been pretending to be something they are not in real life. They are both masquerading from the truth. My heroine has been pretending to be a frivolous lady with no cares but she is hiding a dark secret that only the hero knows. While Matthew has been living a lie. He has let Society believe he did something terrible when, in fact, he is completely innocent.
“Are you a fairy or an angel?” a low raspy voice sounded behind her.
Jennette sat up straight and looked around frantically. She’d been sure there had been no one out here. Her heart pounded in her chest erratically. This was ridiculous. She was at her brother’s house in the middle of a party for ton. Only those invited could be here.
“Well, if you’re an angel, I guess that makes me the devil. Can you resist the devil, Jennette?” the voice whispered.
Jennette stood and turned toward the voice. A man dressed like a highwayman from the last century rose from his seat behind the dying rose bushes. His clothes appeared dirty and worn, and she wondered for a moment if perhaps he wasn’t in costume. A black mask covered enough of his face to make her pause.
But as he stepped forward into the torch light, she could make out his eyes--icy gray as the morning frost. She would never forget those eyes. The way he had stared at her that morning from his seat, unable to move because of what she’d done.
He could not be here. Not at her brother’s home. Not at her birthday ball.
He’d promised to leave her alone.
“Don’t move,” he commanded. “You are the reason I came to this party. I need to speak with you.”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
She lifted her skirts and ran toward the safety of the terrace and her family. The gravel crunched loudly under her feet. Couldn’t someone hear her footsteps? As she reached the first step of the terrace and within shouting distance of the party, he pulled her against his chest. His large, gloved hand covered her mouth, silencing her.
Jennette attempted to twist out his strong grip as he dragged her back into the shadows of the garden. This couldn’t be happening. Not now, when all her plans were almost complete. She had less than four weeks before her ship sailed, allowing her to leave him and this mess behind forever. He shoved her back against the pillar of the pergola and trapped her there with his arms. Fear shot through her like lightning.
“What do you want from me?” she asked.
His smile turned feral. Through the mask, she could just make out his eyes. She shivered from the cold stare he leveled at her.
“What have I always wanted from you?” his low voice rasped.
“Take off your mask,” she whispered.
“Why? You know who I am.”
“You’re frightening me.”
He leaned in closer and smiled. He drew a gloved finger along her cheek, making her tremble even more. “Good. You should be afraid of me, Jennette. You know what I could do to you and your family.”
She closed her eyes and tried her best to breathe in deeply. “Please,” she begged.
“Very well.” He untied the mask and shoved it into his vest pocket. “Better?”
God, no, she thought. Seeing his face again after five years was not better. It was far worse. Chestnut hair, too long to be fashionable, lined his square face. His high cheekbones and stubborn jaw accented his rugged features. He’d always been a handsome man but the last few years had only made him more intriguing.
So how do you feel about a masquerade? Do like to put on a costume or mask and pretend you’re something different for an evening? Do you like to attempt to figure out who is behind the mask before they speak up and you recognize their voice? What was the best costume you ever wore to a masked party?
Christie Kelley was born and raised in upstate New York. After seventeen years working for financial institutions in software development, she took a leap of faith and started her first book. Seven years later, EVERY NIGHT I’M YOURS was bought by Zebra books.
She now lives in Maryland with her husband and two sons. Come visit her on the web at www.christiekelley.com.
Christie will be giving away a copy of Every Time We Kiss to one lucky commenter who leaves a comment or question and their email addy. (No email addy, no entry). Winner will be announced at the end of the week.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Even if I, the reader, know about it beforehand (i.e. I knew the heroine was going to be somewhere) I love the moment of the hero realizing it. Sometimes it’s a surprise about who another character is, what they are capable of. Sometimes it’s a surprise about what is happening. But whatever unexpected thing happens, I love watching the characters’ surprise, shock, and amazement.
I think we reveal some of our most ‘raw’ self when we’re faced with the unexpected. Not always, of course, and it depends what the ‘surprise’ is. Walking into a party is a different sort of surprise than pressing on the brake pedal and it not working. But I like seeing the personna of the character stripped away for a moment, and watching how they process, adjust, and move on. Or, don’t. :-)
In my May release, my debut book THE CONQUEROR, a hot medieval romance, the hero is in the midst of some serious wartime negotiations. He’s at a remote location, completing his mission. He’s already rescued the heroine once, and dropped her someone safe. Or so he thought. He knows he’ll never see her again.
Or so he thought....
“But won't you stay up for one more drink?" Hipping asked one more time.
Griffyn shook his head. "I'm weary, and have a long ride tomorrow."
Fatigue was no mere pretext. He'd secured the allegiance of one of the most vital allies Henri fitzEmpress would ever need, and all he felt was tired. Weary with spying, with war, with all the machinations of the world. He needed another lost waif to lift his spirits, he decided, stifling a yawn, but they were hard to find.
Something crashed on the floor above them. He and Hipping jerked their heads backward and stared at the ceiling. It sounded like something heavy hit the floor hard, perhaps a washing pot. Hipping looked over with a convivial smile.
Hipping paused. "She's still adjusting."
"Mmm. Your wash pot may not."
Hipping laughed out of proportion to the inane jest. "Aye. I shan't bother her with my attentions again tonight. The priest has been sent for. Tomorrow shall be soon enough."
Griffyn felt a strange ripple of unease. Not required, he told himself. None of my business. Leave it be.
He was shown to his room by a washed-out looking servant. The room was plain, small, and smelled of rot and mold. Which was not the problem. Small cracks in the wooden walls allowed wind to inch in, making it quite cold despite the brazier burning. But that was not the problem either.
It was looking for a chamberpot that ruined everything.
* * *
Finding none in his room, and knowing the full tankard of the infamous Hippletun brew he'd imbibed would soon be needing release, he went in search of a chamberpot, a privy, or a servant to direct him towards either.
What he came across was a violent pounding coming from a chamber door at the far end of the corridor.
He stopped and stared. The wind?
Another spurt of wild hammering, then silence. No. That was not the wind.
'Tis neither any of your business, he cautioned himself. Enough time and energy had already been expended tonight on things that were none of his business.
He backtracked to the stairwell and found a servant who directed him to the guest privy outside. The rising winds almost blew the door off the privy. He manhandled it closed a few times, then, admitting defeat, let it bang maddeningly open and shut, thudding against the wall on each crest of wind as he completed his business.
He tromped back inside, rubbing his eyes. Sleep. All he needed was a few hours sleep.
He reached the upper landing. It was dark despite a torch slung in an iron ring hanging on the wall. Instead of turning left to his room, though, he paused and looked to his right.
Silence. Only the muted moaning of the winds. No cries for help, no frantic hammering. He stomped down the corridor anyway, uncertain why.
"Because I'm a fool," he muttered out loud.
He stopped in front of the doorway. Oddly, there was a key resting in its lock. He put his hand on it, paused, then turned, feeling the fool. More silence. Nothing to be seen or heard.
"Of course not," he said to the emptiness. "Because there's nothing here."
The door crashed open and Guinevere fell into his arms.
* * *
They fell into a clump against the far wall, Griffyn propelled backwards by her headlong rush. He struggled to his knees and clamped his hand over her mouth, which she'd opened to scream.
"I cannot believe it," he announced, removing his hand when he saw she was not going to loose the shriek.
"Oh, thank the Lord," she cried in a whisper. "Pagan! How came you here? No, no, not now. I cannot believe you came, but we must get out of here-"
"We? What are you doing here?"
"-for I've only a little while until he comes for me."
"Comes for you?" he shouted back in a whisper. "What are you talking about? I left you with Clid, a safe refuge, and now you're here?" He stared at her a moment. Realisation dawned. "His betrothed."
"I am not!"
He rubbed the heel of his hand across his forehead, muttering, "I can't believe it. How incredibly unlikely. Abducted, twice in one night."
She scowled. "Astonishing. I can barely bestill my wonder. I left the village-"
"Why? It was warm and dry--"
"Yes, yes." She brushed off his kept promises with an urgent whisper. "But not safe."
"Aye, well. I can see how being here suits you so much the better."
She touched his arm lightly, but the subtle contact felt more forceful than that, a flash of feminine verve.
"You were mad to leave me there," she whispered. "But there is no time for that now. I came because I had to. I know of Hipping's reputation, of course, and the trouble he's caused my lord king. But I did not know he was a . . . a brigand." Her lips twisted, and Griffyn wondered if Hipping's lips had touched hers. The thought, against all reason, brought a flood of anger surging through his blood. "He is holding me against my will."
"For what?" he asked suspiciously.
She paused for half a heartbeat. "It doesn't matter. Politics."
The evasion seemed unnecessary, and would have caught his attention if he hadn't had his attention captured by so many other things, such as the bewildering verity that he was kneeling on the floor of a minor nobleman's corridor with a woman he'd already rescued once tonight and left miles from here not three hours ago. And she needed more rescuing yet.
Then again, abductions were commonplace enough. Kidnappings, forced betrothals. An unprotected woman on the road was fair game.
And all of a sudden, Griffyn's largest concern was not expanding Henri fitzEmpress's frontiers, it was the raven-haired, flushing-cheeked demoiselle in front of him. Her tousled hair and wild eyes made him worry, but it was her incredible, indomitable spirit that turned his tides.
"I hate to be a burden yet again . . , ."
He grabbed her arm. "Let's go."
From, "The Conqueror," by Kris Kennedy. Copyright 2009.
Yes, I love surprises. :-)
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