Archive for the ‘Shifter’ Category
Coming Jan. 15th!
It’s time for the Werewolf Summit and this year it’s taking place in Draven’s Crossing. It’s a huge headache for Vampire Mayor Draven, and Chief of Police Torger. With the issues they’re having with the Council and the fallout of the serial killings both men want things to go smoothly so Torger asks his brother, Urban, to make sure the meetings go well. But this is Draven’s Crossing; what can go wrong will. Bodies start to show up and a drug epidemic hits in the feline shifter community. Two things Urban doesn’t need. When his sometimes lover Nadia is thrown into the mix, things go from bad to worse. Not only is he trying to hide his feelings for the fickle feline shifter but she’s also trying to put some distance between them, and she’s keeping something from him. How can he concentrate on his job when things are getting too personal and Torger is breathing down his neck?
Nadia has finally shown up in Draven’s Crossing after being held for a “talk” with the head of the Feline Shifter Quorum, Zerik. Zerik wants her to go to Draven’s Crossing and figure out who’s making and distributing an addictive drug killing feline shifters and breaking up families. She thought she could get into town, find the culprits and blow out with no problem. Now she’s assigned to help her lover, Urban, with his werewolf problems. Her emotions for him are growing and for a woman who’s tried so hard not to form attachments, she fears her independent ways may have met their match. How can she keep her distance from the one man who could tear down her walls and stomp on her resistance?
Together they must stop the deaths, keep peace in the werewolf community and figure out where their relationship stands before everything is blown apart. Piece of cake, right? Not in Draven’s Crossing.
Urban stared at Nadia. Shock reverberated through his body as blood pooled in his groin and filled his cock whether he wanted it to or not. He studied his woman. There were dark smudges under her eyes; she looked wired with energy and yet ready to crash. With her head bowed, he felt as if he’d walked into one of the many private rooms that they’d used to act out scenes and fulfill their deepest fantasies. His traitorous dick jerked in response while his jeans became far too tight for comfort. He growled, turned on his heel, and strode out of the café before he could do something he’d regret, like taking her in his arms and kissing the life out of her or yanking down her jeans and spanking her in punishment for not telling him she was in town. He ignored the twinge in his heart at seeing her and fullness of emotion that weighed on his chest at the very knowledge that she was so close to him and yet still so distant.
He struggled to breathe past the lump in his throat as he took in the dark bags under her eyes and her usually glowing skin that had lost that healthy halo. She tucked a few strands of dark brown hair behind her ear. It was shorter than the last time he’d seen her but still fell to her shoulders in a thick curtain. She wore a tight T-shirt that stretched across her full chest and showed off her trim waist. The jeans she wore sat low and hugged her hips. She wore simple black boots that peeked out from under the flared hems. She wore no jewelry; her makeup was simple gloss, and there was nothing else to detract from her natural beauty. Ever since he’d told her she was perfect without all the artifice she’d stopped being heavy-handed with her mascara and blush, and her lips had gone from thickly put on to a light swipe of lip gloss. His fingers and palms tingled to touch her face, cup her cheek, and thread his fingers through her hair. His lips ached to feel the press of her mouth on his. The urge to press himself against her body and feel the softness of her curves melt into him tugged at his gut.
To distract himself from giving in to that urge, he threw a glance over at the table she’d left. Urban recognized a werewolf from Torger’s department; what he did and why she was meeting with him was not his concern, for now. He knew some ways to make her tell him why she was here and why she was having breakfast with that guy rather than fucking him senseless in his bed for the rest of the morning. Breakfast forgotten and his appetite gone, he walked as far from the café and parking lot as he could get and waited for her to follow him. He didn’t doubt she’d come after him, not in fear or worry but because, like him, she couldn’t not be near him. They were like magnets: they’d meet, connect, and then repel each other. He had to be patient.
It didn’t take her long to catch up to him, walking, not running at a quick clip.
“Urban,” she murmured in her contralto smoky voice that sent rivulets of desire pouring through him. Again his heart twinged, the rhythm speeding up as he absorbed her presence and allowed himself to savor the warmth of her nearness. Up close, she looked wearier than what he’d seen at a distance. His heart ached for her. He wanted to take her back to Torger’s cabin, curl up around her, and order her to sleep. Once she was rested, then he’d make love to her and punish her for not telling him she was in town. If she hadn’t known that he was in Draven’s Crossing that was one thing, but still, none of this discomfort or annoyance would be taking place if they’d communicated. He pushed back on that thought and knew that he wasn’t exactly as forthcoming about where he would be from day to day either. God, we’re so fucked up, he thought.
“Nadia,” he replied. His fingers itched to trace the curve of her cheek, feel the silkiness of her skin, and his body demanded that he connect the loop of electricity that sparked off her and press himself against her. His cock gave another jerk. He reached down and ground the heel of his palm into his erection to stop the sensations flitting along the stalk before he did something stupid and stripped her out of her clothes to slide into her silken heat. He gritted his teeth as the pain burst in his groin, only to fade and turn to a dull throb. She watched his movement without saying a word. Nadia shifted from one foot to the other but didn’t move away. Her tongue darted out to slicken her lips, bringing attention to her plump lower lip. With a groan, he shook his head and tried to refocus on the issue at hand: them being in the same city at the same time without calling each other. At least, that was his concern. There was a bigger issue at hand.
OUT NOW! Bachelor Auction: Mate Not Wanted
Letting Madison go unmated? Pierce won’t stand for it…
Lioness shifter Madison doesn’t want to be mated. So when her friends bid and win tiger shifter Pierce McKinney at the Bachelor Auction, she knows she’s screwed. Pierce is the one man who can get under her skin. Especially when she knows that sex with Pierce will burn hotter than the sun…
Pierce McKinney has been trying without luck to wear Madison down. So when her friends win him at a charity auction, he’s determined to win her for his own. He’ll give her what she needs and desires, and he’ll even bring in a friend to play to her fantasies. But Madison belongs to him, and only him. And he intends to show her that he plays for keeps. Even if she’s too stubborn to admit it. Because Pierce is too stubborn to let her walk away…
“No need to feel shy, love. Come on in. You look gorgeous, as usual.”
He reached down, grabbed her hand, and pulled her forward until she stopped just millimeters away from his body. Pierce bent down and brushed his lips against her cheek, sending a lick of fire down her spine. He moved his mouth over hers, which only ignited the flame in her body.
With a whimper, she pressed herself against him and rose on tiptoe to kiss him more fully. She sighed and opened her mouth, slipped her tongue out, and tracing a line along the seam between his lips. They parted to allow her tongue in for a deeper taste. A muffled groan was her reward. She felt his canines thicken and sharpen until they nearly drew blood when the brushed against her lips.
Madison wrapped her arms around Pierce’s neck and slipped a hand over his head, feeling the smoothness and heat of his skin against her palm. She could feel the hard planes of his body, even with the barrier of the silk shirt and wool pants he wore. She wanted to feel all that muscle and sinew against her body.
Her shoulder bite throbbed, and an insistent heat grew in the pit of her stomach. Her clit pulsed in time with her heartbeat, demanding attention. Her breasts ached for his touch. She groaned and lifted her leg to twine it around his. The pencil skirt she wore was too tight. She hated that she’d chosen to wear a waist cincher. It felt as if it weren’t allowing her take in enough air. Her blouse felt itchy and abraded her skin.
“Dinner is served.” Jessica brushed past the two of them. “Or are you two gonna keep letting in the flies and night air? I’m off to the movies. Enjoy!”
Rather than embarrassment, Madison felt amused. She gave Pierce another kiss and stepped back. Her stomach gave a growl and she gazed up at him.
“Time to eat.” She took his hand and led him into the house. “And then dessert.”
The Ultimate Shifter Challenge has started. Check out the contest and Vote and Check Out some Awesome Authors:
Holy Crackers, readers (and yes I said Holy Crackers), you’ve made Dragon Ugly a Bestseller on All Romance eBooks. It stared off at 44 and has climbed to 33! Thank You so much! I’m overwhelmed with emotion. I can only say Thank You. You all are awesome and you’re making my Birthday Month even better than I could’ve imagined. So here’s a peek at what you’ve been supporting and if you haven’t picked up the book yet, here’s a sneaky peek:
Series: Dragon New Year, Book 2
Title: Dragon Ugly
Excerpt Title: Brent wants a Mate
ISBN #: 9781939194473
Can a dragon shifter give more than just hot sex?
After Brent’s New Year’s fling with his friends Fletcher and Tor—and Tor’s mate Louisa—Brent is determined to find his own mate. His dragon wants him to find their mate, too, and if Brent doesn’t find a way to locate her soon, his dragon will take matters into his own talons. And that could spell trouble.
Wolf shifter Carissa has no desire to live up to her wild musician mother and artistic father’s vision of free love and sex parties. She’s buried her sexual desires and focused on building up her aromatherapy store, Scentify, no distractions allowed. Until she meets Brent. The sexy dragon shifter makes her burn with suppressed need. The only problem? His dragon wants Carissa, too. And pursuing the dominant dragon would be playing with fire.
Giving in to his dragon saps Brent of his focus and energy. Things are turning ugly—dragon ugly. How can he bond with his mate when his dragon only wants sex?
With a grin, he dove into the ice-cold water and felt the pleasant shock reverberate through his body. After a length underneath, his lungs began to burn from a need for oxygen. He swam up to the surface, taking in a lungful of sweet air. The dragon exhaled a cold breath, chilling his body further as the beast settled into its element.
The sun wasn’t high in the sky yet and there was no movement on the streets. The tourists had been living it up ever since they had arrived. Brent couldn’t keep up with all the events that were planned around town, and he didn’t even want to. There were beautiful women everywhere he looked, as if it were ladies night all the time. It was enough to put a smile on the lips of any man. But it just made Brent feel tired.
Now that he had adjusted to the water temperature, heat surged through Brent’s body, and he felt the dragon pushing him to shift. He dove under the surface again, as gills split along his neck in searing stripes of pain. Webs glued his fingers and toes together by thin membranes. He opened his eyes and took in the dark blue tiles and the bright white flooring of the pool. Oxygen flooded his lungs. He breathed in the chilly water and blew out bubbles. Flipping onto his back he gazed up at the shifting surface of the water. Beyond, the world moved in and out of focus. He saw a flock of birds fly overhead and the plants waving to and fro around the pool. Sounds were dampened under the water. It was peaceful.
He tried to let go of the tension and the stress that had been filling him lately, but it seemed that his dragon had something on its mind.
“When will we find our mate?” The dragon’s question surprised him. It whispered through his mind like scales brushing against the inside of his skull. He hadn’t even realized that his dragon had been looking for a mate.
“Are you looking for someone for now or forever?” he asked. The answer was important. He had to be sure this was what the dragon really wanted.
“Not temporary,” it whispered. “Always.”
Brent felt relief sweep through him. So that was it! But the relief was quickly followed by worry. They were still young in human years, not even twenty-five yet. He had a job, but he wasn’t even sure if he wanted to continue working at the Dragon’s Lair. His future seemed up in the air.
He tried to push away these thoughts and focus on what the dragon wanted: a mate. He thought of Tor and Louisa. Once they’d been mated at New Year, they had seemed to exist in their own little world, so cozy and close. Tor stayed over at her place practically every night unless she needed some alone time. A pang of envy burst in Brent’s stomach.
The more he thought about the idea of a mate, the more it appealed to him. Part of him wanted someone for himself. He wouldn’t be opposed to sharing with his friends from time-to-time, but when all was said and done, she would be all his. But another part of him was scared. What if there wasn’t anyone for them? What if she wasn’t out there? What would he do then? How would his dragon react to that? It had happened before—dragons searching the world over and not finding anyone. It was a sad and pitiful existence. Some thought it was punishment for past deeds, but Brent didn’t like to think that. Not even the coldest bastard deserved to be alone. Brent suddenly yearned to experience that first blush of love and contentment, to feel what it would be like to love and have that love returned.
“When?” The dragon pressed.
“I don’t know,” he told it. How should he go about finding her? A dragon matchmaker? A witch? Or should he rely on pure luck and fate?
“She’s here, in town,” the dragon pressed. “I can feel her.”
Brent almost changed back to his human form from shock. He hadn’t felt anything unusual, but then again his senses had been bombarded by so many things as of late. The fact that the dragon had been keeping this from him sent a wave of scalding heat through his body. The dragon had watched him fumble through one encounter after another, each less satisfying than the last. Why hadn’t it just told him it wanted a mate? “What do you mean?”
The dragon hissed out a cool stream of mist, interrupting his thoughts and pulling his focus back to the beast. “You must clear your senses. Use mine.”
Brent didn’t know how to open himself up to the dragon without undergoing a full shift. He felt his frustration mounting. The ability to share senses was supposed to be fluid and effortless, and yet it seemed to be all or nothing with his dragon.
“Stop. Let it go and relax. Think about our mate,” the dragon urged.
“Easy for you to say,” Brent muttered. How was he supposed to do that if he didn’t know anything about his mate?
He floated up to the surface and closed his eyes, letting the gentle lapping of the water center him. His limbs went limp and he sank down again, letting the soothing waters envelop him. Brent tried to picture his ideal woman, or at least an outline of her. A woman with curves, and a healthy appetite. A woman who was intelligent, strong, capable, independent, and full of respect for herself. Just thinking on those qualities made Brent’s heart ache. His frustration with his life grew as he thought of all that he yearned for. He missed having someone to spend time with, to cuddle with. He missed the basic human contact and comfort that he could find in a relationship. He wanted to be able to wake up with someone, make them breakfast, go out on dates, and spend the evenings talking about their days.
“Yes,” the dragon hissed. “Think on that.”
Brent’s body became buoyant, and once again he floated with ease.
Now he tells me, Brent thought. In his mind’s eye he could see the faint hint of clear, chocolate-brown skin, and light brown eyes. A cool breeze drifted over him, raising goose bumps. He inhaled deeply. The scent of the forest wafted past his nose. They were nowhere near the woods. With another pull of air, he got the scent of a million different perfumes, some herbal, some floral, and some spicy. Heat churned in his gut as his balls hardened. Arousal traced a fiery path along his spine. Shock reverberated through his system at the sudden onslaught of pure, unadulterated need. It had been a long time since he’d had a taste of real, honest-to-gods desire, and he didn’t even know who it was that his body wanted.
He tried to sense something of her personality beyond her multitude of scents. The imaginary woman imbued him with warmth and comfort, a coziness with the spice of sexual excitement that only increased his need for her. He felt his cock thicken, filling with blood as his body temperature spiked. Brent tried to push past the feeling and concentrate on locating the woman. It was one thing for the sexual chemistry to be there, but to be able to stay with someone, he would need to forge a real connection to her. With a mental shove, he tried to open himself up to her more, get more of a feel for who she was.
He hit a wall, hard, and bounced back. All sense of her vanished and the outline of her image wavered, then disappeared. He pushed again, trying to seek out that thread that connected them. He gritted his teeth as he tried to force himself past the wall. Brent pictured his energy like a large wave of water as it crashed against the solidity of her barriers again and again. He tried to reform the water’s shape to something sharper, like a sword or icicle, but again he was blocked.
Confusion turned to anger and determination. I’m going to get to you, he thought. You will be mine.
From Villain to Hero in One Easy Step
By Jennifer Ashley (aka Allyson James)
Villains are tough for me to write, not because I don’t like them, but because I become so fascinated by them.
I dislike books with cardboard or unbelievably evil villains—poorly constructed villains can ruin an otherwise good story. On the other hand, really “good” villains can steal the show.
The villain is the hero of his own story. He thinks he’s good and right about everything he does. He might do really awful things (murder, assault, kidnapping, plotting to end the world), but he knows that whatever he decides to do is justified.
Writing a good villain means finding solid motivation for his actions. It’s not enough that the villain does what he does because he’s inherently evil (unless you’re writing broad comedy). He has to have a reason for kidnapping the heroine and putting her naked in chains in full view of the hero. A very good reason, and it can’t be “bad” to him.
The deeper I dig into the motivations of my villains, the more I like these guys. I like them so much, I decide to go ahead and make them heroes in their own books.
James Ardmore as villain wanted to hunt down and kill the pirate hero of The Pirate Next Door. Why? Because not only was James a pirate hunter, but the hero was a pirate James blamed for the death of the woman he loved.
Good motivation. I really liked James! In The Pirate Hunter, James is still hunting pirates, but he works through his problems and runs across a heroine who challenges him.
In Dragon Heat, which I wrote as Allyson James, the villain, Malcolm, a black dragon, tries to kidnap the heroine to use her latent magic. Why? Because he’s trapped in the human world and wants desperately to go back to Dragonspace.
Malcolm is pretty bad—he coerces a young witch to help him, and the witch starts to fall in love with him. So much so, that when she’s attacked in The Black Dragon, she calls on Malcolm to help her. And he steps in and becomes a hero.
Penelope and Prince Charming introduced one of my favorite villains, Grand Duke Alexander. Alexander wants the charming prince (the hero) dead. Why? Because Alexander battled all his life to save his country from the tyranny of the hero’s father. Now he fears that the hero will come home and carry on the tyranny.
I loved writing Alexander. He acts not from personal ambition but for benefit of his countrymen (well, he that and his big ego). Alexander becomes the hero of The Mad, Bad Duke, where he meets a young Englishwoman who won’t let him get away with that big ego.
In each series I have some bad guys who drive the plot, but the true villains in these series are more obscure. In the Shifters books, it’s the overall situation of humans vs. Shifters (Shifters are second-class citizens made to wear Collars and live in Shiftertowns). The Shifter heroes battle to keep the others Shifters in line in order to keep the peace and let Shifters get strong enough to end their situation. (The current book is the bestselling Primal Bonds, which came out this March.)
In the Mackenzies’ books, the villains are the Mackenzies themselves.
The entire world views them as “villains” (not criminals, but dangerous and powerful). The Mackenzies do as they please, uninhibited by society’s rules, because they don’t care about the rules. They have too many other things to deal with to worry about rules.
The youngest, Ian Mackenzie (The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, re-releasing August 2011), has Asperger’s Syndrome. Ian fights that demon every day, and his choices aren’t understood by most of the world.
His oldest brother, Hart, has done what he had to do to keep his younger brothers safe, especially from their father who was obsessive, jealous, abusive, and probably a little Aspy himself.
Hart’s actions regarding his brothers (and his father), can’t always be seen as “nice,” but he sees them as necessary and justified. More of his motivations and exactly what he’s done and why will come out in the August release, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (about the womanizing, horse-training Mackenzie brother), and Hart’s own book, which I’m working on now.
As you can tell, I love giving villains a chance to tell their own stories. I love these guys so much, I want to give them a chance to fall in love and be happy.
“Good” guys can bore me—I think I’ll keep writing my men bad!
Jennifer Ashley Bio:
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Jennifer Ashley has lived and traveled all over the world, and now lives in the Southwest. She writes historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance as Jennifer Ashley; mysteries as Ashley Gardner; and paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Allyson James.
Jennifer’s/Allyson’s/Ashley’s novels have won RWA’s RITA award, the Golden Quill, RT Reviewer’s Choice awards, and the Prism award, among others. Jennifer’s novels have been also been translated into nearly a dozen European and Asian languages.
Jennifer enjoys writing and reading above all else, but her hobbies include cooking, hiking, playing flute and guitar, painting, and building miniature rooms and dollhouses.
If you have any comments or questions,
e-mail Jennifer at
Bad Boys vs Assholes
There are all kinds of heroes in books. I write just about every type you could think of from the good guy to the tormented hero. However, there’s a breed of hero out there that I think is gaining a lot of momentum with readers: the heroes who aren’t all that sterling. Of these not so wonderful heroes, the two I like most are the bad boy and the asshole (jerk.)
The bad boy is the guy who appears to be not squeaky clean, not the boy next door, and definitely not the sweet, good guy. The bad boy may not be all that bad in actuality. He may not have a criminal record or have done anything that could remotely be called bad. He may be a bad boy simply by virtue of the fact that he’s unconventional. He wears biker boots or work boots instead of wingtips. Faded, ripped Levis instead of a suit. He may ride a motorcycle or drive a beat up truck instead of a sports car or fancy sedan. These guys are bad boys by virtue of their appearance.
Then there are bad boys who actually aren’t all that nice. These guys could be suit wearing corporate raiders or leather jacketed ex-cons. Their commonality is that they do what they want and brush aside the feelings of others. In other words, they are arrogant assholes.
In my series Tales of the Darkworld, I have both bad boys and assholes. In Ride the Lightning, the hero Vahid Delrey is a total asshole. He spurns his destined mate in favor of moving in with his boss’s sister. He’s horribly rude to his mate, judgmental and uncaring of her feelings. Eventually, he begins to change his attitude and his feelings about her. In the end, he takes responsibility for his poor behavior and the detrimental affect it’s had on Emily. He realizes that he needs to put her and her needs first and his attitude does an about face.
Seth Dylan who first appears as a secondary character in Common Ground gets his turn as the bad boy hero in Sunstroked. He’s the boot and jeans wearing, scowling and dour Scots werewolf who doesn’t recognize his mate when he finds him. I think Sunstroked’s readers found Seth to be pretty much a classic bad boy. He admits that his sexual relationships with men aren’t relationships. He admits to using those men to get off with complete disregard for whether they might be interested in more from him. When the man who took his virginity appears in his life after nearly two years, Seth realizes he’s held himself distant from other men because it’s Corey he wants, needs and loves.
The penultimate bad boy in my series is black dragon Sean Antaeus who won’t have his own book until the very last book. Sean is both bad boy and asshole. The arrogant, take no prisoners head of the Antaeus family and the conglomerate Antaeus International can be ruthless when he needs to be with family, friends, and in business. But a good portion of his bad boy image is just that, an image. One that equals the leather, ripped jeans and motorcycles of other bad boys. Sean uses it to hide how much he loves his family and how much they mean to him.
Whether you’re a fan of the bad boy hero or not, you can’t be indifferent to them. They always bring out some sort of emotion in you even if it’s annoyance. But I see more and more readers of my series calling for Sean’s story and exclaiming over Vahid’s redemption. The asshole and bad boy heroes are gaining ground on the nice guys. I like to think it’s because we all admire a man who is strong and forceful but still caring and loving. We all want to believe that everyone has good qualities. And who wouldn’t want to be swept away by a primal man with a fiercely loving heart?
An award winning, multi-published PAN author, Lex is a member of Romance Writers of America and EPIC. Her publishers include: Ellora’s Cave, Pink Petal Books, MLR Press, Liquid Silver Books, and Cobblestone Press. She is published in both ebook and print. The Tales of the Darkworld series can be found at Pink Petal Books.
Born and raised on California’s Central Coast, Lex moved to Southern California in 1992. She lives in Orange County with her daughter Nikki and Rott, her long haired, tattooed DH. She loves loud music, builds her own computers, and has very weird dreams about Nikki Sixx. Lex works full-time at a cemetery as the network administrator.
Cat Marsters—The Original Sinner: Striker
When I first wrote Striker he was going to be a villain, plain and simple. He had one function: to tempt my heroine, Chalia, away from the man she loved. Striker had varous magical powers and he wasn’t above using them to get what he wanted. When he got angry he’d explode things. Like buildings. People. Cities.
I kinda liked him.
And that was the problem. I wanted him to be the bad guy. I even tried to kill him off. But I couldn’t do it. Well, I did, but no one stays dead for long in my books. At the last count, Striker had been declared legally dead three times. He’s still walking around.
But herein lies the rub. I can’t make him a romantic hero. He kills people for fun. He once cut someone in half, vertically, with a sword made out of fire. Got angry and flattened an entire city. He explodes pickpockets. Kills people for looking at him a bit funny. He’s a psychopath. A proper unhinged nutter. He’s a villain. So why do I like him? Why does everyone else?
Well, he’s hot for one thing. A giant walking pheromone. But we’re not that shallow, are we? He’s funny, for sure—he has a very nice line in sarcasm. He can do anything. I mean quite literally, anything. Travel through time (what, like it’s hard?). Kill immortal beings. Being people back to life. Make it snow, just because Chalia says she likes it.
Is that it? Do we like him because he loves his woman? He’ll quite literally do anything for her, up to and including mass homicide (she’s never asked, but he’s waiting for the opportunity). Making it snow is nothing: when she died he brought her back to life. When she decided she wanted a baby, despite the gods attempting to keep him from procreating by making it physically impossible for the only woman he loved to carry a child (okay, so he can’t do everything—cut the guy a break, he’s a homicidal maniac, not a fertility expert) he travelled in time to change the course of history and befuddled the gods out of noticing until the baby was born.
Or do we feel sympathy for the devil? Striker was, after all, once an ordinary person. A very good-looking, smart, rich, and mischeivous person, but with no more inclination to mass murder than you or me. And then a random accident got him stranded in an alien world for twelve years, all alone and with just a few magical powers lent to him in order to survive. Telling himself every day he’d get back to the woman he’d left behind. Thinking of the one and only night they spent together. Pickling in his own madness. By the time he returned he was lean and hard and strange and cold, and he might still have turned into something resembling a human being were it not for the fact that his One True Love had buggered off and got engaged to someone else, and told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted him out of her life.
So he flattened a city. As you do.
The thing is, he does love Chalia, but that’s about his only redeeming feature. And it’s not much of one. He loves her selfishly, like a child loves. He doesn’t want to share her. It’s kind of hard to figure out whether he really loves his daughter or not—even I’m not entirely sure if he does, or if he just takes care of her because Chalia wants him to. I wrote about Striker’s relationship with his daughter, Chance, in my first Ellora’s Cave book, Almost Human. She doesn’t know what to make of it, and neither does he.
She knows her father is the most evil man in history. That’s going to give a girl quite a complex.
Excerpt from Mad, Bad & Dangerous, available now ffrom Ellora’s Cave.
Was this how Striker had become so terrible, so powerful and so dangerous? Was this why he’d rampaged through Euskara twenty years ago, murdering Magi and stealing their power, flattening cities, roasting people alive—just to mirror his own pain?
What the hell could have hurt such an inhuman man so badly?
He found himself on the ground, back in his human body, staring at the scryer in his palm. It glowed red then the face resolved into Striker’s visage.
“Who the fuck are you?” he asked.
The same shock of fear and disgust ran through Bael, but far less powerfully than it had before. “Why did you do it?” he asked.
“Do what? Who are you?”
“Kett’s— I’m…a friend of Kett’s,” Bael said through the bad taste in his mouth.
“Oh yeah.” Striker’s mouth twisted cruelly. “You ran away.”
“You murdered hundreds of my people.”
Striker shrugged, as if he couldn’t see what the two things had to do with each other.
“Why did you do it? You flattened the city of Vaticano twenty years ago. You stole power and tortured innocent people. Why did you do it?”
Striker shrugged again. “What are you, a groupie? I did it ’cos I wanted to, kid. I enjoyed it. I’d do it again—”
“No, you bloody wouldn’t,” came a female voice, the voice of the brunette at Nuala’s house. Chalia. Chance’s mother…
Understanding stabbed Bael in the heart.
“You did it for her,” he said slowly. “Because she hurt you.” With every word he became more certain, the knowledge creeping into him like fog.
Striker’s face turned to granite.
“Because she did something to you,” Bael went on. “Because she hurt you so badly it screamed inside you, and all you wanted to do was make everyone else feel as much pain as you. To hurt and maim and burn and slash and kill, because that’s what she did to you. And she never stopped you. She stops you now but she didn’t then. And you went on sucking power out of people so you could destroy more and more, bigger and bigger, until you’d destroyed a city and killed thousands—”
A jolt of power suddenly surged through the scryer, like the shock from ungrounded metal, making Bael flinch and lose his thread.
The view on his scryer tilted, as if someone else had taken hold of the device, and Chalia’s face appeared, pale and shocked.
“It was you,” Bael said, and her lovely dark eyes swam with fear and guilt and pain.
“What did you do?” Bael asked her.
Her hand went to her throat, lovely and unlined even twenty years after Striker had burned and destroyed cities in her name.
“I got engaged to someone else,” she said distantly. “Who are you?”
“Baelvar.” The world had narrowed to the scryer in his hand and the anger pulsing through him.
Chalia regarded him through the scryer. “You’re Kett’s mate, yes? The Nasc. With power.”
Bael clenched his fist and looked away.
Striker laughed softly. “What did she do?”
“Someone else,” Bael said.
Cat Marsters lives in Essex and belongs to a pride of adored cats. On occasion she can be persuaded to admit ownership of a demon puppy (but not if you suspect your flowers have been trampled). She enjoys watching TV and films that showcase the looks and talents of Richard Armitage, David Tennant and Hugh Jackman, reading books that make her laugh, dyeing her hair, and talking about herself in the third person.
Cat has been writing all her life, but in order to keep herself rich in shoes and chocolate, she’s also worked as an airline check-in agent, video rental clerk, stationery shop assistant, and laboratory technician. She’s still aiming for the fairytale cottage of her childhood dreams, and asks all potential Prince Charmings to apply in writing with pictures of themselves and their Aston Martins.
Buy link: http://www.jasminejade.com/p-8185-mad-bad-dangerous.aspx
Villains! I love the little devils. Not because I’m secretly a sadist who likes to see all her happy little characters tormented by some nasty villain…well, OK, maybe I do, but mostly I love villains because in them, I see the opportunity of redemption.
There’s nothing that chimes my bells more than a bad boy character, a person who at some point in his life, made a choice that led him into a path of no return. Mind you, I don’t like characters who were born bad—Magoth, a demon lord in my dragon books, is one of my favorite characters, but despite wishing I could turn him around and make him a hero, I know in my heart I can’t because he never truly was ever good to begin with—but give me a man who made some bad choices and was damned because of them, and I’m on the spot ready to bring him back to the fold.
That’s one reason why Baltic, one of my dragon heroes, is my favorite of all the dragons. He started out as the villain, a man who had committed acts so heinous, everyone feared him. So far as anyone knew, he was a psychopathic murderer bent on the destruction of everyone and everything. He remained that way through the three silver dragon books, with only a hint in the last one that perhaps there was more to him than was obvious.
I knew the moment I first wrote the words “dread wyvern Baltic” that some day, I was going to take this uber-villain, and turn him into a hero. I couldn’t resist—he was just so bad, so apparently focused on everyone’s destruction, I had to find out what had made him that way, what forces had driven him to become the most hated character in all of dragon history, and spin him around.
It turned out the force that had sent him on a spiral of villainhood had been love. Baltic loved and lost, and that loss drove him more or less insane with grief. The depths of his love, the power it held over his mind, and how it forced him into choices that others would never have made is what intrigued me. I loved exploring just how far his vengeance would take him simply because I knew how much pain he suffered every single moment of his existence.
The joy, of course, was when it came time to write Baltic’s books. Redemption, how sweet thy name! I reveled in the opportunity of taking a villain that readers had despised for three books, and finding a way to not only make them love him, but more importantly, make him whole again. The answer was again love—what once destroyed him, now could make him a warm, funny, loving person, one who still had enough naughty quirks to satisfy my bad-boy lust, but who could now be free to conduct heroic acts…even if they were done with a villainous flair.
Heroes are well and fine, but give me an angsty, tormented villain, and I’ll happily plot his redemption, glorying in his badness every step of the way.
For an Excerpt from the upcoming The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons Click Here.
Katie’s page: http://katiemacalister.com/
For as long as she can remember, Katie MacAlister has loved reading. Growing up in a family where a weekly visit to the library was a given, Katie spent much of her time with her nose buried in a book. Despite her love for novels, she didn’t think of writing them until she was contracted to write a non-fiction book about software. Since her editor refused to allow her to include either witty dialogue or love scenes in the software book, Katie swiftly resolved to switch to fiction, where she could indulge in world building, tormenting characters, and falling madly in love with all her heroes.
Two years after she started writing novels, Katie sold her first romance, Noble Intentions. More than thirty books later, her novels have been translated into numerous languages, been recorded as audiobooks, received several awards, and are regulars on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. She also writes for the young adult audience as Katie Maxwell.
Katie lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dogs, and can often be found lurking around online.
Heroes are always a complex subject, especially in fiction and particularly in romantic fiction. On the surface of it, they seem simple. The hero is the good guy with the perfect moral compass, who always does what’s right and gets the girl. Right?
Yeah, I suppose. But, being honest? That’s the sort of hero who bores me to tears. I don’t like reading them and I sure as eggs is eggs don’t like writing them. A writer has to like his or her hero, and even fall in love with them a little themselves, otherwise how can we do their story any justice or even write a story that is credible?
My heroes are usually deeply conflicted, not perfect, and even sometimes can be considered down-right bastards. But deep within, there is something there that is redeemable. Something about them which is just waiting for the right circumstance, and the right woman to come along to make them shine, or show them the way to being the man they want to be, and of course, the hero I want to write about.
Let me share with you my thoughts on one of my favourite heroes. I make no secret of the fact I am a Jensen Ackles fan. I’ve been hooked since watching him play on Dark Angel with Jessica Alba. But my favourite role of his has to be Dean Winchester.
Like my heroes, on the surface Dean isn’t hero material. He’s rough, violent, has questionable morals when it comes to women (okay, the lad’s got the morals of an alley cat at times) and has a more meaningful link with his car than most people. He’s a liar, a conman and for a good portion of the series’es (how the hell do you make series plural anyway?) he’s wanted for murder.
If we dig a little deeper though, there is something compelling and actually heart-rending about the character. He lost his mother at a very young age, but not young enough that he doesn’t remember her like his brother, and grew up dealing with his Dad’s one-man war against everything that goes bump in the night.
He didn’t have a normal childhood, instead moved from pillar to post as John Winchester hunted, and being responsible for his little brother for large periods of time. Both boys were brought up with the knowledge that the monster under the bed isn’t a story, but is real, and how to kill it in a variety of bloody and brutal ways.
As the story progresses, we see different facets of Dean’s character revealed like little gems. His ability to kill can’t be questioned, and he’d rather take that on himself than let his brother do it and suffer agony over it. He spent time in hell and started the apocalypse, but he fights harder than anyone to put that right.
The sweetest episodes for me are the ones were we see what Dean actually wants. Far from the gung-ho, action-driven lifestyle he has, and which most men would kill for in their dreams, he wants a home and family. He wants to be normal.
However, when the shit hits the fan, and the world is about to end…even though he can’t do anything and the very attempt will probably kill him…he doesn’t back down. He faces down the devil himself to try and save his brother.
Violent, egotistical, arrogant…determined to do right, unbelievably noble and sweet as all hell. That’s why Dean Winchester is one of my favourite heroes.
Mina Carter Bio:
Mina Carter was born and raised in Middle Earth (otherwise known as the Midlands, England). After a slew of careers ranging from logistics to land-surveying she can now be found in the wilds of Leicestershire with her husband and young daughter…the true boss of the family.
Suffering the curse of eternal curiosity Mina never tires of learning new skills which has led to Aromatherapy, Corsetry, Chain-maille making, Welding, Canoeing, Shooting, and pole-dancing to name but a few. A veteran Star Trek RPGer, she’s run both games and groups of games but now finds her home in Bravo Fleet, one of the internet’s oldest Star Trek simm groups.
She juggles being a mum, working full time and writing, tossing another ball in the air with her cover artwork. For Mina, writing time is the wee hours of the morning before anyone wakes up and starts making demands, or any spare minute that can be begged, bought or conned.
Her first stories were penned at age 11, when she used a stationery set meant for Christmas thank you letters to write stories instead. More recently, she wrote for her own amusement and to save on outrageous monthly book bills. Now she’s totally addicted and needs her daily writing fix or heads roll!