Reclaim Cover Reveal


reclaimcoverI’m very excited to share the cover art for Reclaim (Reborn #3) with all of you today! It’s designed by the fabulous H.N. Sieverding, who also created the covers for Reborn and Relapse. Make sure to visit her on her author and designer pages to check out some more awesome artwork from her. Reclaim is releasing October 25, 2016, so get excited! And in the meantime, you can check back here or on my Facebook page for updates. 🙂

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Book Summary:

Carly just lost the last week of her life trapped in Pandora, the space between universes. Most of it was spent navigating an illusion created by her only companion, Dolos, the god of trickery. Even so, the time Carly spent there changed her. She fell in love. She’s more fearless and more determined than ever to leave the darkest parts of her past behind. And she’s learned that, sometimes, family is the one you make for yourself, like the one she’s found at Gamma Lambda Phi.

But a lot can happen in one week, and Carly returns to a sorority in jeopardy. A curse has been placed on her sisters, and it’s up to her to break it. With the Gammas out of commission, Eric’s halfling army is plotting something big, and Carly and her sisters are the only ones who can stop them. To make matters worse, Dolos is working for the bad guys and up to his old tricks.

Time is running out, but the antidote for the curse is proving impossible to find. To save her sisters and stop Eric’s army, Carly has some tough choices to make. But will she choose duty and sisterhood, or the kind of passion that comes around only once in a lifetime?

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And here’s the full cover:

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Add Reclaim on Goodreads.

Art and Culture


I’ve been debating over whether I should write this post or not. I’m still not sure, but–since the Internet provides us with such an easy avenue for (over)sharing of opinions–it’s happening. Why the uncertainty? Well, for one, this post was inspired by a certain movie, based off of a bestselling book, that released on Valentine’s Day and has, in a short time, grossed bajillions of dollars (I may be exaggerating, slightly…). That’s right–the both much beloved and reviled Fifty Shades of Grey. And, to some degree, I–as some of you may also be–am simply getting sick of hearing about it, period. So I will try to make this post a little more broad than just this book/movie, but I can’t ignore it completely. Secondly…if the Fifty Shades controversy has shown us anything, it’s that some people can’t engage in a critique or debate without being just plain mean. More than likely, only my friends will read this post and few others will actually come across it–and fewer still will leave a comment–but there’s always that nagging fear that someone will just respond with something nasty and counterproductive.

And, third…I don’t really feel strongly about this book either way. I read all three of them out of sheer curiosity (I jumped on the bandwagon after they became popular). I haven’t seen the movie, yet. I’m nowhere near a super fan…nor am I an extreme “hater,” either. It’s been awhile since I read them…I reviewed all three of them (you can read my review of the first book here). I was surprised when I went back and read my critiques, because my opinion has changed (somewhat) over the last several years.

I will tell you upfront what this post is not about: the quality of E.L. James’s writing. Did I feel like they were the most well written books ever? No. Did I like the main heroine, Anna? Not particularly. Like the franchise the Shades books were inspired by (Twilight, if you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know that by now), Anna is sort of a bland character, if you prefer strong, vivid, interesting characters (and I hope you do)–then again, she’s the perfect character if you are seeking to “insert” yourself into the book in place of Anna for the purposes of fantasizing. Look, there’s a lot of bad, poorly written porn (even if it’s more visual rather than literary) geared towards men’s fantasies–and I don’t think I’m exaggerating this time when I say it’s probably a billion dollar industry. My point is, just because Shades is in a book form, doesn’t mean it’s required to have outstanding style. Its purpose is to titillate (and, most likely, shock).

(As an aside: That’s definitely not to say that a book can’t have all the things–be well written, with strong, interesting, dynamic characters, and also be sexy. I’m just saying that, when it comes to what may be a book with mediocre writing that is written by a woman intended for a bunch of other women to read–suddenly everyone has exceedingly high standards of the written word and cinematography.)

I’m going on off a tangent–as I’m prone to do, with posts like this–so let me bring it back to today’s intended topic: art and culture. Because, while some dissenters criticize James’s writing, and others call it a Twilight rip off and accuse her of plagiarism, much of the criticism has been over Christian’s personality, his relationship with Anna, and how that might affect impressionable readers.

I don’t think any of us can deny that art can affect us, and can do so deeply. In fact, as artists, writers, singers, performers, etc., we’d be doing our crafts a disservice by trying to argue otherwise. We’re usually willing to accept this when we find other people who consume and enjoy the art we put out into the world, but it becomes a little harder to stomach when we have to admit that it can also affect some people negatively. So I think we can all agree that, yes, art can evoke both positive and negative responses–including unintended ones–and that the culture surrounding us in turn affects art, maybe sometimes in ways we don’t even realize.

At its core, art is also a very selfish activity. Before you put your art out into the world (whether it’s a painting, a short story, a book, a song, a movie)–before you have readers, listeners, viewers–it’s just you and your idea. In the case of writing, you’re writing characters and themes that are, for whatever reason, interesting to you–you’re expressing yourself and your emotions. (I’m not trying to speak for all writers when I say this, but…to be completely honest, I haven’t always worried about what others might say/how others might interpret my books, or how they might affect people (in the negative sense). Recently, I’ve started obsessing over this, but, if I’m going to get anything down on paper, I have to block it out. I’m not going to censor myself because I’m worried about what someone else might think.)

What motivates the people consuming said art can vary widely and, often, be at odds with the creator’s self-expression or intention. I’m going to try to stick to the book example because a book inspired this post, and, as a writer, it’s what I can speak to best. Fans may fall in love with the book for any number of reasons–the style, atmosphere, and characters drew them in, the characters really spoke and jumped off the page for them, they see themselves as one of the characters, the book got them through a difficult time, whatever. For some others, it may be the opposite–it could be that a situation or character reminds them of a difficult time in their life, or something about the book clashes with a believe or value they cherish–whatever the case, they find the book offensive. Critics analyze the book and, not only consider aspects like the style and quality of the writing and characters, but also perhaps what it reflects about our society–and how it might affect other readers. This is all fair. The artist also has to be aware that, once that book or painting or song goes out into the world, it’s open to different and varied interpretations.

I guess where I’m going with this is: Critique is fine. I’m not about to say that we shouldn’t critique Fifty Shades, or talk about what kind of impact our society has had on it–and the kind of impact it could have on our society or even certain individuals. Art and culture are intertwined. I’m just wondering why, as a society, we can’t seem to have a reasonable discussion about a book written by a woman, seemingly intended for and read by millions of other women, without being mean. And not just mean–ugly and horrible. (I mean, E.L. James (as other famous people have) gets harassed a lot on Twitter. Which is one thing I hate about social media–although it has its perks, it also makes it really easy for people to anonymously harass other people and say things they would never, in a million years, have the guts to say to someone’s face.)

Okay, I was going to try to keep this general, but my brain keeps coming back around to Fifty Shades, in particular. Most of the cultural criticism I’ve alluded to centers around Christian and Anna’s relationship–some interpret it as abusive (well, I guess they wouldn’t say “interpret,” they would say it is abusive). I think it’s fair to say there may be undertones of that.

But I also have to say I’m not sure why we seem to be so afraid that millions of women can’t separate a book or a fantasy from reality. Like I said, it might affect some people negatively…and, maybe to try to prevent that, we should point out and discuss the seemingly questionable material (as we’ve been doing).

There’s something about the amount of criticism we’ve been heaping on James and Fifty, though, that I’m starting to find just as disconcerting as some people find the books themselves. For one thing, there does seem to be this element to it that we’re talking about it so much because, again, it’s a sexy book written by a woman for other women…and that we usually seem to be overly concerned with, not how art is affecting us, but how art is (negatively) affecting women…because somehow we’re more prone to messages (“hidden” or otherwise) in art and the media. (I guess the flip side to this is not that we feel women are more susceptible to these messages, but that the formula in Fifty Shades is outdated and patriarchal, and that these themes are being perpetuated by the fact that the books are so popular.)

The other element I find disturbing is that I’ve started to see posts and things encouraging boyfriends/husbands to not to take their girlfriends/wives to see the movie because it’s not really “romantic,” and we don’t want them to get the wrong impression (because, see above comment)! I think that’s a terrible and counterproductive suggestion and could actually backfire. Your boyfriend does not get to decide for you what guilty pleasures or fantasies you choose to indulge in. I also read this article by some guy who went to see the movie and also seems to be overly concerned that a woman (again, I’m talking about adult women, here, not preteens or teenagers) is going to get the wrong idea about romance from watching this movie. Which brings me to what will hopefully be my last two points, because I didn’t expect this post to get so massive.

Why do women like Fifty Shades? Why do they “like” Christian Grey? Perhaps women like Christian because he sounds f***able. He’s hot, and he’s rich, and it sounds like he’s good, at, you know…doin’ stuff. 😉 I think it’s perfectly possible to like a fictional character and realize that not all of their traits are ideal traits for a mate in real life. Romance novels (we’ll get to the genre term “romance” in a minute), like those of other genres, are read for pleasure and escapism. At least when I read them, I’m not looking for the hero (or antihero) to have traits my next boyfriend is going to have. (And I don’t think anyone has ever expressed any concern or fear over whether men are going to date women like those in the porn they watch.)

And, finally, the other argument the crux of the Fifty Shades criticism seems to depend on is that it is a “romance” novel, and many of Christian’s actions are not romantic. Which…they’re not, really, but I think this is an even more complicated issue than you might think. For one thing, women in our culture are expected to enjoy stories about romance and not just necessarily those just about sex…so the couple often tends to have a deeper connection than just a physical one. If it is true that most women tend to need both the physical and emotional connection in their porn or erotica…that’s fine with me. Again, it’s a complex issue–is it true, or is it what society tells us is true?

A related issue: I know that, as a woman who writes stories with strong “romantic” themes, I feel compelled to put the “romance” stamp on it even if it’s not necessarily romantic, in the traditional sense. Romance, as a genre, encompasses more than you might think. Sure, much of it still follows the formula of your archetypal, charming, strapping hero falling in love with the sassy, buxom, virginal heroine…maybe they feel a mutual dislike towards one another at first even as they fight down their growing passion for one another…until one sweltering, starry night they give into that fiery passion…and, after a few more obstacles are thrown in their way–just when you think all hope is lost–they finally overcome all, get together, and live happily-ever-after. Formula romances are great. Often, they’re exactly what you need; sometimes you just wanna know things are going to work out for the best, and not be disappointed when they don’t.

But not all stories that get this “romance” stamp are like this–and they’re not supposed to be. Well, at least not to me. I do know firsthand that there are readers who see “romance” and expect the formula, expect the HEA ending–and, when they don’t get it, are confused, at best–and at worst, pissed. But I think the romance genre has expanded and can evoke more raw emotions than just “awwwww….how romantic!” “Romance” novels can be dark, shocking, or even disturbing–and the characters aren’t required to be cookie cutter heroes and heroines who only do good things and have sound morals. (Maybe what we really need is a new genre name.) Personally, I enjoy writing deeply flawed characters–it’s more fun and challenging to imagine what might motivate someone to choose wrong over right.

I guess what I’m trying to say is…what the heck am I trying to say, anyway? When I read Fifty Shades, I noted that Christian was controlling and some of his behavior disturbing…but I didn’t think this behavior was supposed to be traditionally romantic. To me, it was an author pushing a certain type of character–a controlling, manipulative one with some deep, dark demons and a Red Room of Pain–as far as he could go in that direction. At its core, Fifty Shades is just a forbidden lust story. Anna knows that Christian has flaws and is maybe into some stuff she’s not sure if she can handle, but she’s intrigued by this darker, forbidden aspect. Christian isn’t supposed to be a role model or dating material.

Then again, I could see where maybe a more impressionable reader might be more easily influenced by a story like this than I would be. Not everyone would share the same outlook going into the book, or probably even feels the same way about the genre. Even so, I just personally don’t think there are many types of situations or characters (if any) that are completely off-limits in fiction, although context is also important. I just take Christian to be a (rather poorly constructed) antihero who has a lot of skeletons and not too many redeeming qualities.

So some will love, some will critique, and some will be offended. And some, like myself, will be totally wishy washy and kinda understand where the criticism is coming from, but then again, not really. I just wish we could all discuss it in a civilized way. Because, really, when is the last time you’ve ever heard of a male artist, writer, or anything getting so much slack? (Robin Thicke? He’s really the only example I can come up with.) I don’t think the answer is to ban the movie, either, as others have also suggested.

What I’d hoped would be a more general post kind of just turned out to be about Fifty. For that, I am sorry…but it’s been on my mind lately, and, you know…must…vent…on…Interwebz. I’d love to hear your thoughts…as long as you can keep it rational and civil.

But I have to go, for now…actually, because I’m going to the movie…

 

Release Week Wrap Up


As many of you probably know by now, since it’s all I’ve been talking about for like a week and a half, Relapse, the sequel to Reborn, released last Tuesday! It was a great week, and at the end of it I had my friends over to celebrate, complete with jello salad (and other more edible fare), drinks, and a (probably really awkward) reading of the sexiest chapter in Reborn.

Right now, the ebook version Relapse is exclusive to Kindle so that I can use the promotional thingies (to use the technical term). Get it here. It’s available in paperback now through Amazon as well. Having the paperback version just makes it feel more real, you know? In the new year, it will also be available through Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, etc. If you’ve read Relapse, feel free to leave a rating and/or review on Amazon or its Goodreads page.

And, if you don’t know what the Reborn series is all about, check out the character profiles and excerpts floating around this blog. Here are a few teasers:

Reborn: The Encounter

Relapse: Prologue

Relapse: Chapter One

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relapsecoverJasper might be gone for good, but Siobhan can’t escape the memory of him.

Or, rather, Psyche’s memories of him—memories of a kinder, gentler man, not the one who lied and manipulated her. She should have tried harder to reach him—to save Jasper from the darkness consuming him. Guilt—maybe that’s the reason why she still sees his face everywhere she turns. That, or she’s going crazy.

And Siobhan really doesn’t have time to lose her mind. Her best friend is in love with their enemy and is addicted to an alien drug. The Alpha Rhos blame her sorority for their sister’s death and take their quest for vengeance too far. Desperate, the Gamma Lambda Phis call on the help of the most deceitful Olympian of all, making her a promise they’re not even sure they can keep.

Once again, Siobhan finds herself not knowing who she can turn to or who she can trust. She comes to realize that her greatest enemy is the darkness within herself.

Excerpt for Valentine’s Day: Eros and Psyche’s Wedding


I wanted to post a special romantic excerpt for Valentine’s Day, so here’s one from my current WIP Relapse. (Keep in mind this is from the first draft, and I don’t know if it will even end up in the final version.) It’s a flashback Siobhan has of Psyche’s/her wedding day. I hope to do some more research into actual Greek wedding customs, haha. But anyway it’s cute, and I hope you enjoy it! 

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I study myself in a full-length, gold framed mirror. I’ve grown used to the face staring back at me in these memories—Psyche’s face. The large, deep violet eyes are the same, but she has higher cheekbones and a slightly upturned nose. Hair falls like a white-blonde waterfall down her back. She smooths out pretend wrinkles in her one shoulder, white silk dress and adjusts the gold cord tied at the waist beneath her breasts. Her wings emerge through slits in the back of the dress. The bronze wings of a butterfly-shaped necklace spread across the delicate, pale skin of her chest.

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Copyright imagerymajestic

In the mirror, I see an auburn head peek around the door behind me. Nike comes in, a white tunic draped over her tall, thin frame. Her hair is long and plaited into a thick braid down her back.

“You look beautiful,” she says, giving me a quick hug. “It is time to go down.”

Nodding, I follow her out into the corridor, our white slippers whispering over the marble floor.

The next thing I remember is standing on the pale sands of the beach, just out of reach from where the ocean waves slither up the coast. My fingers are curled around a bouquet of unfamiliar white flowers. Nike and, to my surprise, Aphrodite stand on either side of me. Aphrodite, like always, is willowy and golden, her beauty almost as painful to look at as the blinding sun above us.

People stand on either side of a strip of sand leading to my soon-to-be husband. I have a vague memory of what Psyche’s parents looked like, but I don’t see them among the onlookers. Two women with braided blonde hair and hooked noses lurk toward the back of the crowd, scowling at me: Psyche’s biological sisters. Sunlight glints off of Hephaestus’s smooth head somewhere closer to the front. I don’t see Ares.

Aphrodite and Nike walk with me up the aisle. I see a few more faces that look familiar, but I can’t think of their names. One is a tall woman with copper skin, an athletic build and a proud demeanor. Her almond-shaped eyes are as dark as the shiny black hair flowing freely to her waist. As I pass her, she smiles warmly. On the other side of the path is a short but sinewy man with curly dark hair. His pupils are black slits rimmed with reddish irises. Gold wings decorate the backs of his sandals. Beside him stands a girl with bouncing brown curls and watery blue eyes. Her small, pale hands clap excitedly as I walk by. When our eyes meet, her lips pull back into something between a smile and a grimace as she fights to hold back more tears. I return it with a hesitant smile of my own. I look away from the crowd and realize I’m almost at the end. Leaving Aphrodite and Nike behind me, I pick up the skirt of my dress and run the last few feet.

Almost immediately, Eros takes my free hand into his. A breeze ruffles his dark hair away from his golden face. His lips twitch upwards only slightly, but his body is tensed with barely contained excitement. He’s not wearing much except for what looks like a sheet wrapped around his waist, tied with a yellow cord. I resist the sudden urge to run my fingers up and down the rippling muscles of his chest and abdomen.

I hand the bouquet off to Nike and step closer into Eros’s arms, his wings enveloping us in a feathery white curtain. He slides a ring made of an iridescent white metal onto my finger.

“With this ring, I am bound to you, always and forever,” he recites, his breath fresh and sweet against my face.

I slide a similar ring onto his finger and repeat, “With this ring, I am bound to you, always and forever.”

Reborn Releases November 5!!!


Reborn FINALI announced this on the Facebook page and Twitter last week, so this is the official blog announcement: My debut novel Reborn releases Tuesday, November 5, 2013!!!!! (Speaking of the Facebook page…I’m two away from 40 likes…a nice round number. So scroll down a bit and give it a like if you haven’t!) I’m super excited to share my baby (my baby being the book, of course) with my family, friends, and strangers on the Internet!!! I started this blog a little over a year ago to get back into creative writing, and I’m proud of myself for actually sticking with it and following through with a project! This post has a lot of exclamation points!!!

The Amazon Kindle edition of Reborn will be FREE on release day. The Smashwords and print versions will be released on dates TBD. For now, I leave you with the “back cover” book synopsis, updated book trailer, and Heidi Sieverding’s beautiful cover art. Like what you see? You can read an excerpt from Chapter One here.

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Back in high school, Siobhan Elliot’s life was simple: Cheerleading, friends, and parties. But that all changed the night she and her friends investigated a mysterious light in the woods. There they found an injured man –an irresistible man with hypnotic blue eyes and magnificent black wings. A man Siobhan recognized.

He was the handsome dark angel from her dreams.

And with one touch of his hand, he left her with a special gift: A set of mythical wings that would change her life forever. Then he disappeared without a trace. Siobhan thought she would never see him again.

Now, six years later, her dark angel reappears –this time as a teaching assistant at her college. He calls himself Jasper. He challenges everything Siobhan thought she knew about herself and her world. And he’s come back for only one thing:

Her.

Or so he says. Siobhan is about to find out that nothing is what it seems in this strange, new world.

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Checking back in with H. N. Sieverding


HN SieverdingBack in April of this year, I posted my first ever author interview with H. N. Sieverding. Well, a lot of exciting things have happened since that interview, so I thought it was about time to check back in with her! Now a Secret Cravings author, Ms. Sieverding has published the first two books in her delectable Christina’s Kisses series, Initiation and Seed of the Master. (Follow the links to purchase them on  the publisher’s web site. You can also find them on Amazon, Bookstrand, All Romance ebooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.) They were bestsellers on Bookstrand and the publisher’s web site. I’m also especially excited for the release of her paranormal romance The Bloodlust Prince. I was a beta reader for it and loved it! The ebook comes out in December, the print version in June 2014.

Ms. Sieverding’s stories have strong themes of dark fantasy, paranormal romance and sexy horror. Right now she’s jumping between edits for her upcoming releases and working on Black Hawke, a Paranormal Romance about a photographer and her secret bad boy boyfriend.  (Throughout the book she is trying to figure out his real identity…or if he’s married…) She’s also one of the hosts of Freshly Booked.

Check out our interview below, followed by an excerpt from Initiation and a list of all of her upcoming releases!

Her blog: Inside the Mind of a Fantasy Writer

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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“What you produce as a writer is art.  A voice that opens a vein and leaves the reader lapping at the blood that’s been drawn.”  

-H. N. Sieverding

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christain_header_quote6SL: When did you first start writing stories?

HN: When I was in grade school, I used to write about a family of alligators that I named the Ellers. I wrote my first novel, Alexandria, my junior year of high school. I decided to write a novel and I sat down on the desktop in our crowded kitchen (I come from a family of seven) and did just that. I was so proud of it (though now it makes me cringe to read through it) and to me that was a huge feat that most people would never accomplish. From that day on it was my dream to become a published author and now I am.

SL: Who or what most inspires your writing?

HN: I get inspired by things around me but it’s not always people or stories. It might be a line I heard someone say or facial expression that sparks a character/story idea. I find the most inspiration when I’m alone listening to music or during a nice drive in the countryside.

SL: Do you listen to music while you write, or do you need peace and quiet?

HN: I write in front of the TV or while cuddling with my son and his ipad, so I can write anywhere. My ideal writing place is sitting on the bed donning a pair of earphones without any distractions. Whenever I get a moment to myself where I can do that, I will take it. Music drowns out the world and helps me concentrate better, giving me that escape I need to write. I’m a big fan of hard rock so on my playlist is Darkest Days, Hollywood Undead, Disturbed and Saliva. The song in my head right now-Levitate (damn it’s catchy).

SL: Which of your stories is your favorite?

HN: Ooo…hard question. If I absolutely had to choose, I’d say The Bloodlust Prince. I could read that story a million times and never get bored. I’m also a big cat person and I love that they are both Cat Demons (more like anime Cat Demons/vampires than real cats) and have lots of cat-like qualities that make their courting both unique and super cute.

Coming in second would be Nero, even though most people ignore that one. I think the whole description of the ‘zombie army’ throws people off. It’s actually a love story about Nero coming to terms with the tragic death of his love (who isn’t really dead-sshhh) and his father’s insanity. My favorite thing about it-the character of Nero. He’s by far my greatest creation-I love em 😀

SL: Who is your favorite author?

HN: Myself. I write all the stories I would love to read. Beyond editing and reading others writing on blogs, I don’t read (unless some asks me to read something of theirs). The last book I read was Paula’s, Queen of Ages, which was pretty sexy by the way. I could say Reverend Wilbert Awdry is my favorite author but not many people would get that reference 😉

SL: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

HN: If you’re serious about becoming published, make sure you have a thick skin and can take bad reviews. Know in advance you will most likely be met with A LOT of disappointment-whether it be having no fans/readers, bad reviews, no reviews and having your awesome novel be ignored and blend into the woodwork. Remember that writing is something you do because you love it, not to get rich or popular. Most authors don’t make much money (if any), so don’t expect to get rich off this career path.

Below is a sexy excerpt from Christian’s Kisses Book 1, Initiation. Happy reading!

***

Her eyes wandered over to the table where the elites sat near the back of the room. She tried to avoid eye contact with them but soon Inititiation_MEDfound herself trapped by a pair of curious eyes. Her brow rose when her eyes grew wider, her baby blues reflecting the innocent fear of child as she returned Christian’s relentless gaze.

Although she knew how dangerous this man was, she couldn’t break the stare, her dazed expression showing her intense fear of him. She watched him take a slow drink from his glass, a devilish smile gracing his lips as he took in this angel that would soon meet the fate he would create for her.

He was drinking what appeared to be blood, the rings on his tanned fingers sparkling under the lights. He was surrounded by beautiful women, all of them fighting to sit next to him and get as close as possible. Addison took a few steps backward, the intensity and promise of sin in Christian’s gaze terrifying her. Even though the sight of her pleased him, he didn’t appear to be in a good mood, his mind seeming distracted.

Swallowing the lump building in her throat, Addison decided she should leave instead of seeing what more could come from this silent staring contest with Christian. She quickly turned around and started toward the large double doors. She wanted to get out of the room as fast as she could, her lower lip quivering as fear overtook her body. Then, someone grabbed her hand, making her turn around and halting her retreat.

One of the elite vampires, Samson, was holding her fingers, his large fangs kissing his bottom lip as he smiled at her. “Come join us.”

Addison nodded, her fear of him silencing her voice. Samson put a loose arm around her shoulders, leading her over to their table.

Samson laughed when he felt Addison tremble under his hands. He ignored her uneasiness and maneuvered her through the crowd gathered around the table. She kept her head down as she passed people so she didn’t see Christian motioning to the girls around him to leave.

Samson placed her next to Christian, and Addison slowly sank down in the chair. She tried not to look over at all the women that were staring at her angrily, but she could still feel their eyes on her.

Christian sat up a little straighter, pushing a glass of champagne in front of her, “What’s your name?”

“Addison.” She forced a smile, glancing up at him briefly then back down at the drink in front of her.

Addison knew who Christian was, her nervousness about being around such an important person wearing thick on her gentle features. She had seen him a few times at swanky functions held for museum fundraisers and auctions, but their only interactions had been a small smile or a wave in passing.

She worked in the preservation department at the CartwrightMuseum, one of the largest in the country. As a member of the staff, she was allowed to attend the events, but mostly as another body to fill the room. The museum employees weren’t allowed to converse with the donors, like Christian, unless they had reason or were approached by them.

He eyed her curiously, licking his lips as he set down his half-empty cup. Addison studied the contents, noticing it wasn’t blood, but some kind of unidentifiable brownish red drink. Her shaky hands picked up the glass in front of her, and she purposefully took a sip, her long fingers wrapping tightly around the stem.

“Are you enjoying my club?” Like a cat, Christian’s eyes scanned the room quickly, watching a few people that walked by their table.

Addison’s voice was soft and inaudible over the voices of the crowd around them, “Yes. It’s great.”

“What?” Even though he had heard her, Christian pretended like he hadn’t. “I cannot hear you over the music.” He scooted his chair closer to her, his hips banging against hers and making her jump a little. A sly smile appeared on his face as he caught her in his gaze. He knew he was making her nervous.

Addison laughed, her light blue eyes darting all over Christian’s handsome face, “I said it’s great.”

Christian picked up his drink again and took an unhurried swallow, the shifting of his stare smooth as he once again scanned the crowd in front of them. Christian’s poise was unfailing. He was extremely attractive, his firm build and striking eyes enough to cause Addison’s heart to race and make her slightly dizzy.

Even though she knew he was a killer, being in his presence was intoxicating. His good looks were a sin against nature, and sitting next to someone so inhumanly flawless carried an indescribable feeling. This was the lure of the devil that made any woman bow to his every whim.

A beautiful girl with platinum blonde hair and perfect breasts sat down next to Christian, rubbing his shoulder and making him turn to her. However, his attention didn’t stay on her and quickly switched back to Addison. He placed his hand on Addison’s knee for a few seconds before letting it slide up her dress. Then, he rubbed her inner thigh, his touch soft and light. Addison jumped at his action, a fearful expression on her face as she choked a little on the champagne she was drinking.

He looked over at her and chuckled, his devilish eyes settling on hers before he spoke softly into her ear, “Relax sweetheart.” He moved her hair behind her shoulder, gazing at her neck for a few seconds. Leaning even closer, Christian continued to brush his fingers up and down the inside of her leg. “I am not going to bite.”

Christian felt her body shake a little at his comment, which ignited a small chuckle from his lips, “Yet.”

*****

Upcoming release dates (the links take you to the book trailers):

  • Initiation (Christian’s Kisses Book 1) releases in print January 2014.
  • Seed of the Master (Christian’s Kisses Book 2) releases in print May 2014.
  • Secret Scarlet releases in ebook September/October 2013 and in print April 2014.
  • Blood Kisses (Nightwalkers Book 1) releases in ebook November 2013 and in print May 2014.
  • The Bloodlust Prince releases in ebook December 2013 and in print June 2014.
  • Forever Black (Nightwalkers Book 2) releases in ebook January 2014 and in print July 2014.
  • Blood War (Nightwalkers Book 3) releases in ebook March 2014 and in print September 2014.
  • Forever Mine releases in ebook May 2014 and in print November 2014.

 

Character Profile: Jasper Hart


Who is the handsome, mysterious and elegant Jasper Hart?

Tonight, as another shameless plug for my romantic urban fantasy novel Reborn, I’m reposting this character profile for one of Siobhan’s love interest Jasper Hart. [To those of you who had the misfortune honor (sorry, I’m feelin’ silly tonight) of reading the earliest version of Reborn, Jasper has undergone a surname change. It’s still a clue as to his true identity, but I kinda, maybe changed the underlying mythology of the book…..]

ID-10012562Jasper Hart

From: Reborn (paranormal romance, urban fantasy)

Character Type: Antihero

Age: Really old, but he looks about late-twenties (of course)

Physical Description: Tall; shoulder-length, slightly wavy dark hair; midnight blue eyes; well-built with magnificent black wings

Species: Alien from a parallel universe

Occupation: PhD student in the history department; teaching assistant for World Myths and Legends

Relationship Status: Widower

Love interest: Siobhan

Goals: To win Siobhan’s trust and heart

Obstacles:

  • Farrah, Siobhan’s sorority’s nosey new house mother (who probably isn’t human, either)
  • Siobhan’s stubbornness and independence

Strengths: Physical strength and power; seductive; persuasive

Flaws: Arrogant; chauvinistic

Enjoys:

  • Learning about new cultures
  • Flying around the city at night
  • Enticing Siobhan
  • Brooding

Inspiration: Ville Valo, HIM frontman

“You belong to…”

You belong to me. I know that’s what he wants to say, but after a pause he corrects himself.

“We belong together. I love you. You believe me, don’t you?”

***

Book cover black

 

Reborn teaser: The Encounter


Book cover blackAs promised, here’s a teaser from Chapter One of my romantic (erotic?) urban fantasy novel Reborn. (Kids, don’t try this at home. And by “this,” I mean going off into the woods at night because you see something kinda strange.)

***

“Hey, look at that!” He pointed into the woods.

Anna joined him and peered into the thick, dark trees. “I don’t see anything, Jim.”

“No, look! Something’s glowing!” He turned and gave me a lopsided grin. “Let’s go see what it is, kids!” He swung his arm in a sideways punch as if it were the 1950s and something was really swell.

“Ugh, come on, Jim,” Anna groaned. “Just stay here. Dad’s picking us up soon, anyway.”

I came up on Jimmy’s other side, the distant flicker of a white flame catching my eye. “I see it.” I didn’t know what it was, but there was something mesmerizing about it. I took an involuntarily step forward and looked over at Jimmy.

“Let’s go.” I smiled. Jimmy grinned back, his eyes alight with mischief. Anna sighed, and I sensed a frustrated inner eye roll.

“Fine.” She looked back at our drunken peers. “No one’s even going to notice we’re gone. If something happens to us –”

“If we realize it’s too far, we’ll turn around,” Jimmy assured her. Sometimes it was hard for me to believe that cautious Anna and impulsive Jimmy were even related, let alone twins.

We crept into the woods, our feet crunching over fallen twigs and leaves. Even though it was late and dark, I wasn’t afraid –maybe because I was with Anna and Jimmy, or maybe that one beer I had instilled me with false confidence. The white glow really wasn’t as far away as it seemed from the yard, and it grew steadily larger and more luminous. A cool autumn breeze caressed my face, bringing a blend of sweet scents to my nose, like someone was burning a honey vanilla candle.

“It’s a fire,” Jimmy whispered. We stopped a few yards away from it. But it wasn’t like any fire I’d ever seen –it was yellow-white and lapped at the ground without burning it. It stayed inside an almost perfect circle a few feet wide, only the curling tendrils of sweet-smelling smoke escaping it.

“You came.”

All of us went completely still at the sound of the weak, hoarse voice. I looked wildly around but didn’t see anything.

“You saw my signal, and you came to help me.”

Then, I saw him, sprawled against a maple tree beyond the strange fire.

I looked away quickly, my face flushing in embarrassment. I got enough of a glimpse to realize he was mostly naked, muscles rippling down his marble-white chest and abdomen before disappearing underneath a black loin-cloth.

“Siobhan.”

My head snapped up again when he whispered my name. This time I couldn’t look away, my eyes drinking him in. Even in as vulnerable a position as he was, his presence permeated the forest, seeping into every crevice of every tree trunk, saturating every pore in the dirt floor. And he was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. Tousled dark hair brushed his shoulders framing high cheekbones and a sensuous mouth. A pair of magnificent, black feathered wings protruded from his back, crushed against the unforgiving ground. He reminded me of a fallen angel, but if angels existed, I didn’t think they had his kind of sinister, carnal magnetism. But what shocked me the most wasn’t his perfect body, his handsome face or even the wings.

He was the man from my dreams.

“Siobhan.” This time it was Anna saying my name as she fearfully watched me tiptoe around the fire to go to him.

His thick eyelashes fluttered open, and underneath his eyes were a deep blue whirlpool sucking me in even further. His lips moved, but I couldn’t hear him, so I leaned down closer.

“Psyche. You came back to me.”

What was Psyche? And what did he mean, “You came back to me?” With the exception of my dreams, I’d never met him before in my life.

I didn’t pull away or snap at him. In his final moments of life, he was feverish and confused. “I don’t know you,” I reminded him gently, “but I will help you if I can.”

His eyes pleaded with me as he raised his hand into the air, palm facing me. In a trance-like state I extended my own and brushed my palm and fingers against his, which were warm and slick with sweat. I almost jerked away, but I took a deep breath and maintained the contact, all the while staring into the dark pools of his eyes.

“Siobhan, you’re it.” At least I thought that was what he said –his voice was so small and weak.

“Let’s go back to the house.” Anna’s insistent voice was shrill with anxiety. She pulled on my arm while Jimmy pried this strange man’s hand away from mine. Jimmy didn’t let go of my hand immediately, instead clasping it firmly in his.

“Anna’s right,” he said, although I barely heard him as a flood of nausea suddenly seized me, waves of it coursing through my stomach and back.

Wait – my back?

I slipped my fingers out of Jimmy’s and brought both hands to my stomach.

“What’s wrong?” Anna asked and took a step toward me, but I staggered away from her. I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I knew was the urgency crashing down on me. I had to get away from them before it happened.

“Wait! Siobhan!”

Their panicked voices followed me as I took off deeper into the woods. Frenzied footsteps picked up behind me, but a burst of adrenaline pushed me forward so I outran them even in my delirious state. I made it to the muddy bank of a stream before tossing the orange sports drink I’d drained at the game all over the matted grass.

I felt better after throwing up, my stomach settling, but the unfamiliar rolling underneath my varsity jacket persisted. Bone and muscle liquefied as two jagged edges knifed through my skin. I tore my jacket off to the sound of splitting seams as they exploded out of my back, leaving the vest of my cheerleading uniform in strips of sweaty polyester.

Panting, hands still at my stomach, I sat still for a few beats to calm myself. Once the hammer of my heart in my chest dwindled to a patter and my breathing steadied, I crawled to the bank and looked through bleary eyes at my reflection in the roiling dark silver surface on the creek.  My violet eyes glanced at my face, white with shock, and the blonde hair sticking to my cheeks and neck before coming to rest on the butterfly-like wings looming behind me, shimmering midnight blue and indigo in the dark.

Character Profile: Siobhan Elliot


Siobhan (shi-VAWN) Elliot

Siobhan8

Age: Early 20s

Hometown: Laurel, Pennsylvania

“Occupation”: Student at fictional college Thurston University

Major: Biology

Physical Description: 5’2″, slim, blonde hair, violet eyes

Species: Demigod

Relationship Status: At the beginning of Reborn, she’s friends-with-benefits with Max.

Love interests:

  • College boyfriend: Max
  • Old flame: Childhood friend/Search and Destroy frontman Jimmy
  • Really old flame: Mysterious, charming World Myths and Legends teaching assistant Jasper

Goals: In Reborn, to find out who–and what–Jasper is and what her connection to him is

Obstacles: Jasper is intensely erotic and a little hard to resist.

Strengths: Smart, outgoing

Weaknesses: A little bit of a space case; doesn’t always say what she’s really feeling

Hobbies: Social chair for Gamma Lambda Phi sorority; running; sci-fi TV shows

“Spending this time with him has helped me realize there’s something else between us–something that could transcend each of our faults, our mistakes, our darkness. Something that would only become stronger and more real if I can show him what it means to truly love someone.”

***

Book of the Week: The Darkest Powers Trilogy


I’m starting yet another new type of post -Book of the Week -an idea I’m borrowing from WhatANerdGirlSays. (You can find her most recent Book of the Week about Obsidian here.) Hopefully this will motivate me to do some more reading this summer outside of the usual science-y things I read for my research.

This week I have a fun new series I’ve been dying to tell you about (I just haven’t had the time). Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy (The Summoning, The Awakening, and The Reckoning) is  my most recent guilty pleasure and is now one of my all-time favorite series in this genre. These are the first of Armstrong’s books that I’ve read, but they won’t be the last. (I believe she usually writes adult fiction.) I also had some pangs of nostalgia reading them because they reminded me of old school L. J. Smith. In fact, the plot is reminiscent of Smith’s Dark Visions trilogy. (I’m not at all saying they’re a rip off, just that there are some similarities. I mean, it’s really difficult to come up with a completely fresh idea. What I really look for is how successful the author can put a new twist on what might be not an utterly original idea.) Especially if you are an L. J. Smith fan, you will love these books. They are young-adult-paranormal-romance-perfection.

Summary: Our heroine (and aspiring screenplay writer) Chloe is sent to a home for “disturbed” teenagers after having a public “meltdown” at her high school. At Lyle House, she is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Chloe soon realizes that her “schizophrenia” is actually a true supernatural ability: She is a necromancer; not only capable of seeing ghosts, but also raising the dead. Several of her housemates turn out to be supernaturals as well. This secret new world of the supernaturals is home to necromancers, witches, sorcerers, psychics, werewolves and demi-demons -as well as those of their own kind that want to tamper with the special abilities of supernaturals. This series is packed with action, plot twists and subtle sexual tension. (It is, after all, a young adult book…don’t want it getting too racy…)

Despite her diagnosis at Lyle House, it’s clear at the beginning that Chloe can “see dead people.” Honestly, in the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure I could really get into the whole “necromancer” thing, but I’m glad I stuck with it because I ended up loving it. It was a nice break from the normal paranormal fair (and by that I mean vampires). It’s told from Chloe’s POV, so we get a lot of insight into her inner struggle with her abilities. Although these books aren’t character-driven, most of the main characters change throughout the series as their experiences shape them. And Kelley Armstrong is simply talented at writing fast-paced, suspenseful fiction.

Some of you will love this, some of you will hate it (I LOVED it), but there is a love triangle in the books between Chloe and two foster brothers who are also at Lyle House: Derek and Simon. First of all -OK, I keep throwing around the word “loved,” so let’s change it up a bit -I was OBSESSED with Derek. Just like many fictional bad boys, Derek is mysterious, brood-y, and does NOT play well with others, except for maybe Simon. As Ms. Armstrong makes clear in the books, Derek and Simon may not be related by blood, but they are brothers and friends in the truest sense. Chloe gets along more easily with the amiable, good-looking Simon, while she and Derek clash at almost every turn.

My favorite thing about Derek, though, is that he’s not supposed to be stereotypically handsome. In fact, especially in The Summoning, puberty is not being kind to this boy. As the series progresses, Derek grows out of this, but he’s still no Damon Salvatore. 😉 I just found it refreshing. Then again, it’s not like he’s totally hideous or something, either…let’s just say, he works out…

Not gonna lie, probably the biggest reason I loved these books was the Derek/Chloe dynamic. I don’t know if this trilogy inspired any Simon/Chloe shippers, but I was all about Derek and Chloe. (What should we call them? Dloe? Chlerek?) I also really loved the plot twists Armstrong throws at her readers, leaving them questioning who the characters can really trust. The only thing that didn’t work for me is the whole Chloe-wants-to-be-a-screenwriter aspect. It just seemed really forced. It was more natural in the last installment, but in the other two it felt like Chloe was talking about movies or how she would turn something that just happened into a scene in a movie in every other paragraph. Perhaps it’s because I can’t relate to it, but in my opinion it was overdone. Chloe likes movies. I got it the first hundred times.

But other than this personal pet peeve, I highly recommend The Darkest Powers trilogy if you are looking for a quick, fun, and at times sexy escape. I liked them so much I wish I had bought them instead of borrowing them from the library. That is a big deal for me. I don’t buy books that often unless I am absolutely sure I will reread them, and even then I don’t usually end up reading them again. I read the last book twice before returning it to the library because I didn’t want them to end. Luckily, Armstrong has another young adult trilogy called Darkness Rising, which I think is in the same world as Powers, although with a different set of characters.