Posts Tagged ‘Paranormal’
Selena Note: I loved this book when it first came out. Belinda is re-releasing this book with Loose-Id, revised and extended. If you haven’t picked it up yet snap up your copy today!
There are three things that Dr. Briony Theale loves. Her job as a veterinarian, a good bar of rich, dark chocolate, and Rico, the ranger in charge of the Wildlife Rescue center. When a casual dinner with Rico turns surprisingly intimate, Briony realizes that she might just have a chance with him after all, if only she could lose a few pounds. It’s the ultimate sacrifice, but Briony goes cold turkey, and swears off chocolate forever.
Rico Montgomery fell hard for Briony the first time he set eyes on the curvy little doctor. Her rich brown hair and cocoa skin trigger cravings that he can barely control, and her fragrance is like the sweetest, richest chocolate he’s ever scented in his life. That’s a bad thing for Rico, because to a werewolf like him, chocolate is literally a toxin.
After his pack warns him off the very human doctor, Rico finds himself even more drawn to Briony.
Rico can’t live with it, and Briony can’t live without it. And when a certain wandering wolf finds a bag of chocolate in the trash near Briony’s clinic, these two will find out just how toxic love can be.
This is a substantially expanded and revised version of the short story Sex and Chocolate: Toxic which was previously published.
“Why’d you decide to be a vet?” He sucked a bit of sauce from his knuckle, noting how her eyes followed the movement.
“I just love animals, and they seem to like me back. I’m good at science, so it seemed to be the right field for me. And I do love it.” She finished her second piece, and this time he let it go. He’d send her home with leftovers. “How did you become a ranger?”
“Oh, I love animals, and I seem to be pretty good at science…” The corners of her eyes crinkled in laughter. “I’m a biologist, and most of what I do is in the field. So while I’m assigned to Rescue, I’m also in charge of monitoring raptors in this region. It ties in closely to what we do here. Luckily I have a good volunteer coordinator, because sometimes I spend days up in the mountains. Can’t think of a better job.”
She nodded, and he could sense she was getting ready to leave. Quickly he began gathering the leftovers and plates. “Dessert? I have ice cream.” He peeked into the freezer and pulled out a carton. “It’s that type with three flavors.”
“Neapolitan!” She laughed and rose to help him clean up. “Okay, but just a little. I’ll take a scoop from the chocolate side.”
They ate while standing. Rico leaned against the sink, letting the cool taste of strawberry melt over his tongue. He’d rather have chocolate, but that would be a bad idea. A very bad idea.
Briony clearly savored the flavors as she ate. “When I was a kid, my mom would buy this kind of ice cream. My little brother would eat the strawberry, and I’d eat the chocolate.”
“Leaving the vanilla behind.”
“Mom would get so mad!”
“Well, I can have the vanilla and the strawberry, but I have to leave the chocolate alone.”
“Don’t you like chocolate? I can’t imagine anyone not liking chocolate.”
He smiled at her expression of sympathy. “I love chocolate, but it doesn’t like me. It makes me a bit sick.”
“Wow. I can’t imagine…” She stared down at her bowl, dragging her spoon through the melted remains of the ice cream.
“There’s one way I can have chocolate.”
She looked at him, tilting her head just a bit. “How?”
“Like this.” Rico bent down and kissed her lightly, letting the tip of his tongue catch the flavor from her parted lips. He moved back slightly and smiled at her surprised expression. “Was that okay?”
She blinked and cleared her throat a little. The warm scent of chocolate filled the air, and Rico’s body responded, going hard and tight with need. “Uh…yeah… Yes.”
Taking that as permission, he rested the tips of his fingers on her cheek, knowing they were chilled from the ice cream bowl. Her eyes fluttered closed, her dark lashes making a crescent against the curve of her cheek. Slowly he kissed her again, drawing it out this time. He ran his fingers into the silky curls of her hair, then supported the back of her head as he took the kiss deeper. He tasted her, absorbing the essence of chocolate from her mouth, from her very skin. He shivered at the sensations that raced through his body.
Rico knew exactly when to break the kiss. “Nice,” he whispered in her ear, then stood up straight so she could move away. He trailed his fingers from her hair over her ear and down to her jaw. Her skin was fine and soft. “You taste so sweet. Chocolate kisses.”
He was about to kiss her again when she blinked and straightened. “Chocolate… Oh! I really need to leave.”
Rico stifled his disappointment, taking the bowl she still held.
“I’m sorry. I really do need to go. My night help can’t stay long, and I’ve got a dog in for chocolate toxicosis. I’ll need to stay at the clinic tonight.”
Rico turned to the sink, not liking that idea at all. He’d had girlfriends, some serious, but this protective streak surprised him. It took him a moment to regain control of his voice. “Will you be safe there alone?” He watched her reflection in the little window over the counter.
She laughed, and he was stunned by the dimples and the sudden spark of humor in her brown eyes. “Perfectly safe. I’ve got excellent security plus a nice overnight room for the weekend staff. In fact, when I first moved to town, I lived in the clinic until I found my house.”
He turned and leaned against the sink. “Just how good is your security?” He lifted a brow. He wasn’t an expert but knew people who were. The average security installation was little more than an illusion of safety.
“It’s the best.” She smiled up at him. “Designed by my own mother.”
“Seriously. That’s what she does for a living; she’s a security consultant. Former military.”
Well, that didn’t mean much either as far as Rico was concerned. Somehow he’d wrangle Kurt and Ethan into checking the place out. For tonight, though, he’d make certain she was safe.
He sighed, following as she gathered her things. “Okay, Bree, but if you need anything at all, don’t hesitate to call. Any time.”
“Oh, I couldn’t trouble you, Rico!”
“No trouble. Honest.” He grinned. “If the big bad wolf comes knocking at the door, I’m the man to call!”
She laughed in delight. “There aren’t any wolves in California! You told me that months ago.”
“You’re right. There aren’t any wolves in California. At least, not the four-legged kind. Not yet.”
Visit Belinda at http://www.belindamcbride.com
GothicScapes is a new “primarily digital venture” from three urban fantasy authors, Chris Marie Green (AKA Christine Cody), Nancy Holder, and Linda Thomas-Sundstrom. “Urban Fantasy (x) 3” is their official motto, and what it means is that they are three authors who’ve banded together under one brand to bring you fun, emotionally touching, action-filled, paranormal stories three times a year, three novellas per collection!
There are many wonderful things about being an author.
One is that we get to make things up all day and spin them into stories that other people hopefully love to read. Two, we get to wear our pajamas and write in bed.
Three, we get to go to conventions!
Just this year, GothicScapes authors Chris, Nancy, and Linda have been to Con-Dor, Comic-Con San Diego, Dragon*Con, and most recently, Stan Lee’s Comikaze. It was only at the last one that we were able to officially debut as GothicScapes Gals.
Yes, that’s us in our GothicScapes shirts and smiles. We were on a panel called “Kiss Them or Kill Them?” and it was about the differences between paranormal romance, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror. Mostly, we talked about relationships in the first two, and what a girl would do with a vampire in, say, paranormal romance as opposed to urban fantasy. (You can use your imagination there. <g>)
It’s always such a delight to meet people who come to the panels and signings. As you can see, much fun is had:
That’s our own Nancy Holder, trying out a new look. And she’s got our first cover in hand. Lovely on both counts!
As we start off this venture, we’re centering our anthologies around holidays, starting with Samhain, and every story in this first collection, UNDEAD FOR A DAY, features undead creatures who roam the holiday night. We’ll be following this book up with another soon after—STRANGE SPIRITS, which will be released in December. That one will revolve around Christmas and the naughty and nice creatures that come with it.
But first…UNDEAD FOR A DAY, GothicScapes #1, coming to your e-reader in October!
Samhain. All Hallow’s Eve. A night when zombie-like revenants can be raised by a magic-using, ancient family to exact revenge on the hunter who wrecked their underground kingdom… A time when a redheaded blackbelt pits herself against warmongering witch clans… A holiday that allows the Underworld to open and the creatures to pour out, their freedom governed by a gentleman’s agreement between the forces of Light and Dark.
Welcome to UNDEAD FOR A DAY, a collection of three novellas from a trio of reader favorite urban fantasy writers: Chris Marie Green, AKA Christine Cody (Vampire Babylon and Bloodlands series), New York Times Bestseller Nancy Holder (Wicked and Teen Wolf series), and Linda Thomas-Sundstrom (Vampire Moons and Wolf Moons series).
“Raising the Dead” by Chris Marie Green (A Dawn Madison Vampire Babylon novella) reunites you with former hunter Dawn Madison, who hasn’t been the same since she retired from the life. She’s tired and drained from injuries sustained during the team’s last stand against the dragon, but when the clock strikes twelve on Samhain, everything changes. It seems that someone has sent raised-from-the-dark creatures after her, and they’re out for blood—as well as Dawn’s life.
In “Into the Fire” by Nancy Holder (A Story of the Favored,) Bridget Flynn leaps into a bonfire and goes from Samhain year wife at the first stroke of midnight to widow on the last. Caught in the middle of a feud between rival magical Houses, Bridget raises a battle force of her own. But can she survive in the midst of hot-tempered witches intent on destroying each other?
“Trapped in Stone” by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom takes us to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, where the forces of Good and Evil are playing a game of Chicken with one man’s soul, and the woman he loves is a major player in a challenge that has continued for a century.
We hope that you’ll give us a try and that you come back for more. As a giveaway, we’d love to send three books to a winner—one surprise, signed backlist book from each GothicScapes author! To win, just leave a comment or let us know what you’d like to see in paranormal fiction in the future!
Thanks so much for reading, you all!
Twitter @ChristineCody, @NancyHolder
I’m over at Marie Treanor’s blog today talking werewolves, Torger and Draven’s Crossing.
Comment and be entered to win a copy of the first in the DC series.
Can The Villain Really Be The Hero?
Of late, I’ve been a little obsessed with Megamind. Now here’s the thing about Megamind – he’s the bad guy. He’s a criminal genius determined to bring chaos and villainy to the world. Megamind is in constant battle with the hero of Metro City, Metro Man. Metro Man is the archetype hero – broad-chested, wide-shouldered, chiseled-jawed with an ego to match. Megamind is hell-bent on ridding Metro City of Metro Man and to this end, constantly kidnaps the city’s star reporter, Roxanne Ritchi (yeah, I know, it doesn’t make much sense but then, neither did Lex Luthor’s inclusion of Lois Lane in all his dastardly plans). I won’t give away the why and how of the end (for those that haven’t seen it) but Megamind become the hero and gets the girl. The villain no more.
Another villain I am totally enamored with who balances on the line of heroism is Dr. Horrible. Dr. Horrible is a wannabe villain who recognizes the world is a mess. Of course, he just wants to rule it, but it’s only because the status is NOT quo (and I just crammed as many quotes in those three sentences as I could). The thing about Dr. Horrible is he is basically a good guy with good guy intentions and a good-guy crush on a sweet girl, but (and thar be ***spoilers*** here) the actions of the hero—one Captain Hammer (“the hammer is my penis”)—pushes him to a place so dark he becomes the villain he thought he was. But by the end of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog I can’t help but wonder if Dr. Horrible IS the hero: his bitter-sweet transformation highlights the superficial nature of society.
Professor Snape (Harry Potter’s universe) is a perfect example of a villain whose actions define him—eventually—as a hero. I won’t expand on Snape because to do so would ruin the story for those that haven’t read the books (and I’m sure there are at least a twelve people out there who haven’t read J.K. Rowling’s series yet), but the Professor is a mysterious, dark sometimes malevolent man with an ambiguous goal and equally ambiguous motives.
Villains quite often walk the tight-rope of heroisms and it is this tenuous walk that makes a large number of them so damn sexy. We never know where their actions are going to take them—we never know what they will do. They may truly be trying to bring about the end of the world, but they may just decide to leave the world alone because the girl of their dreams longs for a better place. They may however, decide to create utter anarchy when said girl misses a coffee date. You just never know.
I’ve written my fair share of villains. In fact, I once had a reviewer write, “The villain was, as always, reprehensible. Ms. Couper writes slime quite well.” Hee, I’m not sure what it says about my psyche that I’m proud of that snippet. But it does lead me to my latest villain, a bad boy I’m very very proud of: Asmodeus.
Asmodeus is very much a villain. There is little to redeem him. He is the Daemon of Lust and as such wields his power with an arrogant, charismatic charm that is capable of destroying a human’s life while giving them the most intense, never-ending orgasm of that life. Asmodeus however, has a wit sharper than a knife and a killer smile and if, one day, he truly finds the woman of his dreams (as twisted and rapacious as they may seem) he will no doubt show the worlds of man and daemon-kind alike just how damn heroic he can be. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing…or a scary thing.
Seven Deadly Daemons, Book Two
Cate Sinclair is ruled by lust. Day and night, awake and dreaming, an unseen force plies her with pleasure to the point of pain. Each orgasm wrenched from her exhausted body stealing her energy, her very essence, until insanity seems a sweet relief.
When Eamon enters her life, Cate’s uncertain if the gorgeous, enigmatic man is her salvation…or the cause of her worst nightmares.
Reader Advisory: Our heroine endures endless amounts of forced seduction. But how do you fight advances from an enemy you can’t see?
“Now now, Xander,” a new voice uttered, smoother than melting ice—and just as cold. “Surely you’re not so weak you’ll let a mere Muse influence you?”
Eamon stiffened, his head swiveling toward the speaker. A silent curse fell from his lips, his eyes flaring golden heat, and he let Xander fall to a heap on the floor. “The Daemon Form of Lust decides to make an appearance, does he?”
Cate’s gaze was riveted on the new arrival and her stomach knotted. The man stood beside Xander’s easel, his hand playing on the canvas, long, talon-tipped fingers stroking its edge with slow caresses. A lover’s touch, intimately gentle and knowing.
Even through the gray fog of her pain, she couldn’t miss the similarity. The Lust Daemon was almost a carbon copy of Eamon.
The name whispered through the deep reaches of her mind and with each syllable, her sex constricted. Consuming her with a horrific hunger unlike anything she’d ever experienced.
Asmodeus. The creature who’d given Xander power over her body.
Hate filled her. Hate and (God save me) desperate carnal need. She was going to kill him. She was going to—
She threw herself at the Lust Daemon, a raw cry erupting from her throat.
“Cate, no!” Eamon yelled, his voice like cracking thunder.
It was too late. Her body slammed into Asmodeus, her shoulder driving into his hard gut.
And the second her body touched his, a ravenous lust surged through her, mind, body and soul. She screamed, her sex constricting with such force her whole body shuddered.
God, she wanted to fuck. And be fucked.
Sharp claws raked at her back, her shoulder. Long fingers knotted in her hair, yanking her head backward until she was staring up at Eamon’s smirking double. His lips curled, his eyes flashing every shade of red. “Oh she’s a responsive one, isn’t she?”
“Let her go.” Eamon’s growl stroked all of Cate’s senses, the menace in his voice making her heart thump harder and the dark lust possessing her vanish.
Asmodeus laughed, a smug, confident chortle. “Don’t think so, Muse. Her pleasure does belong to me, after all.” And with that, Cate’s body was once more on the edge of orgasm. Instantly. Painfully.
Lexxie’s not a deviant. She just has a deviant’s imagination and a desire to entertain readers with her words. Add the two together and you get darkly erotic romances with a twist of horror, sci-fi and the paranormal!
When she’s not submerged in the worlds she creates, Lexxie’s life revolves around her family: a husband who thinks she’s insane, a pony-sized mutt who thinks he’s a lap dog, and her daughters, who both utterly captured her heart and changed her life forever.
Living in Australia makes it a bit tricky for Lexxie to pop by for coffee, but she still loves to chat! Contact her by email or find her at her website or her blog (http://lexxiecouper.com).
Grey is a Good Starting Place
He’s your knight in shining armor, handsome, wonderful, and there to do whatever it takes to help you out of a horrifying experience. Then, once you’re free, he’ll take you away for a happy ever after life together. Or he’s bad, gorgeous, and with evil on his mind. He’s there to kill you and your family, ending all thoughts of living a long and happy life.
Black or white, hero or villain, that’s the way it has to be, right?
No, it doesn’t, in fact those existing in the grey area end up following an interesting path to their end.
In Linda Howard’s “All The Queen’s Men”, the bad guy – Louis Ronsard – is selling a highly explosive material to the highest bidder. No question, that makes him beyond bad, right? What if I told you he was doing it to make money to help save his seriously ill young daughter? When the heroine, Niema, asks if that’s the reason he became an arms dealer, he says:
“Yes, I had to have enormous sums of money and quickly. The choice was drugs or weapons. I chose weapons.”
Not so cut and dry anymore, is it, at least Niema doesn’t think so.
There’s another type of neither good nor bad character and that would be the one who made a big, huge, ugly mistake. You know who they are, maybe they were the town toughie growing up or stole a car as a teen, and those are the ones in need of a second chance. Personally, as a writer, I like working with this type of figure. Perfection sounds lovely, but flaws can also be fabulous.
April 15th “Tied Up For Love”, from the Mythological Messes Redux series, will be released and it is the epitome of grey being a good place to start again. Marsyas, the hero, didn’t kill anyone, but he did insult a God and must therefore die. Before the sentence is handed down, he leaves to prepare himself mentally for the end of his life and people. As he comes to terms with the consequences of his actions, he finds himself falling in love, and is ashamed to share who he really is and disappoint his lover.
“I was stupid to throw down the challenge and once it was accepted, should have held back, flubbed a bit, but I was lost in the moment. It isn’t in me not to give my all.”
There is no place for the ipotane to go but toward being a hero or death. For Marsyas, the place in between being good and bad is where he needs to be in order to get a second chance.
A character who is either black or white, good or bad, are great to write and read. However, when it comes to romances, there’s definitely a place for heroes, villains, and those caught in between – in the grey area.
WARNING! Red hot romances ahead!
Tilly Greene Mythological Messes Redux Series
Hephaestus Lays Down the Law – paranormal erotic romance w/bondage
Together Again? – paranormal erotic romance
Cyra’s Cyclopes – paranormal erotic romance w/ménage
Double Punch – paranormal erotic romance w/ménage a trios
Tied Up For Love – paranormal erotica romance w/bondage – April 15 2011!
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
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
Don’t Call Me A Hero: Major Harker.
by Kate Johnson
He doesn’t really like being called a hero. He doesn’t really reckon he’s done anything heroic. He’s just done his job. It’s never occurred to him not to.
For Harker, being a soldier is about one thing only: looking after your mates. And as he’s been promoted, his mates have become his lads, they’re in his care, he’s their leader. But he’s still looking after them. To Harker, success isn’t measured by how many yards of land you’ve won from the enemy that day, it’s in counting heads and getting the same number as you did before you started fighting.
All right, he has bigger concerns than that. He belongs to his country, body and soul. He’ll do anything the general tells him to, because she’s his general and he’s a major and that’s just how it works. Questioning orders is like questioning why a bullet comes out of the gun when you pull the trigger. And because he respects the general, most of the time he’ll do what she asks, even when it’s not an order. Most of the time.
He didn’t join the army in search of glory. Of course, at the time there wasn’t a war on. At the time, the army offered the best prospects for a working-class lad with no education and an ageing mother to support. Twenty-five years’ service and you get a decent pension. Retire as a sergeant, that’s a very good pension indeed. Enough to find a nice little place, maybe raise a family. He can send his pay home and not worry that his mother isn’t being cared for. Or course she didn’t really want him to join the army, she wanted him to go to the grammar school and become a teacher. In his heart of hearts, that’s what Harker wanted, too. But you can’t always get what you want. He knows that pretty well.
The army breaks some men and makes others. Harker was one of the latter. He’s a natural leader. That promotion to sergeant came quickly and deservedly. He’s still not sure if his ex-wife was behind his commission as an officer, but the role suits him. More men to look after, sure, but he’s got a natural authority, he takes care of his men and he listens to them. They know he’s got their best interests at heart. They know he won’t ask them to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. They know he’d actually do the dangerous stuff for them if he thought he could spare them the pain.
He’s got about as much in common with a traditional leading man as he has with a teapot. He’s not good-looking, he hasn’t cut his hair in years, and he’ll only shave if someone threatens him with a knife. He doesn’t have sexy and exciting scars, he has ugly patches of scar tissue where people have tried, repeatedly, to kill him. He has no idea how many confirmed kills he has to his name. Only a bastard would count. He can use a sword or a gun or he can fight with his bare hands, and if you offered him a fencing foil he’d punch you in the face. He doesn’t see the point of wearing a suit or having special shoes to go with it. Hates his dress uniform with all its shiny braid. He refuses to refine his accent, especially when there are posh people around to annoy. He’ll hold the door open for you whether you’re male or female, soldier or civilian, but you won’t get called Sir or Ma’am unless you happen to be of a higher rank than him. Or he’s patronising you. He spends most of his pay on importing cigarettes, which he smokes when he’s thinking, or when he’s worried, or frustrated, or stressed. Which is most of the time.
He leads like a wolf alpha leads: unself-consciously, without arrogance, and without vanity. He leads with natural authority and the respect of his men. He’ll go to hell and back for someone he considers to be his.
He’s Major William Harker of the 75th of Foot, and he’s at your service.
Excerpt from The Untied Kingdom, available from Choc Lit 1st April 2011
‘Sir! Sir, are you all right?’
That was Tallulah. Grimly, Harker dropped to the stony shore under the Tower’s walls and let the body over his shoulder flop on the pebbles.
‘I’m all right,’ he said. ‘Get a doctor, would you?’
She peered closer at the limp body. ‘Is it – is it a person? Is it alive?’
Harker, busy performing mouth-to-mouth and trying not to think about what the drowned woman would be coughing up if she was still alive, didn’t bother to answer. In the background, people were shouting. The guards on the walls had seen him dive into the river and come out with some sort of bedraggled alien.
Well, it wasn’t an alien, Harker was pretty sure. It was a human woman, and she – yes, there she went, coughing up river water through blue lips.
He rolled on to his back and fought the urge to throw up. Who knew what he’d ingested in the Thames’ foetid depths?
People were streaming out of the South Gate now, and a guy with a stethoscope flung over his pyjamas was kneeling by the unconscious woman.
‘She all right?’ Harker said, and the doctor nodded.
‘I think so. We need to get her inside. Can I get a stretcher?’
‘Dunno,’ Harker said, mostly to himself. ‘Can you?’ Patting his pockets, he found his cigarettes – a soggy, unsmokable mess. Dammit. Well, if he couldn’t have a quiet smoke, he’d have a quiet nap instead.
He lay back, closed his eyes, and tried to block out all the noise and the light. It was a trick he’d perfected after years on campaign. These days he could sleep anywhere, any time.
Then a foot prodded his ribs, and he opened one eye, grumpily.
‘Well, then, hero,’ Saskia said, her face demonic in the torchlight. ‘I suppose you’ll be needing medical attention, too?’
Harker waved a hand. Truth be told, he was so wet and cold he was beginning to worry about his extremities. ‘Get me a packet of smokes and I’ll survive,’ he said.
‘I think we can run to that.’ Saskia extended a hand. ‘Come on. Wheeler wants to see you.’
Harker groaned. ‘Why? What’d I do?’
Saskia just glared at him.
‘Oh, right.’ Ignoring her hand, he hauled himself upright. ‘Let’s go and face the fun, then.’
Dripping wet, he squelched through the gate after Saskia and gave the guard there a damp salute.
‘Sir, is it true you pulled an alien from the river?’
Harker rolled his eyes at Saskia. ‘Yep. Blue skin, it had, and one giant wing.’
The young man’s eyes were enormous. ‘Gosh!’
‘That wasn’t necessary,’ Saskia said, as they made their way to the General’s quarters next to the mess.
‘Yeah, but it was fun,’ Harker said.
Kate is a prolific writer of romantic and paranormal fiction and lives in the south east of England with a small and cheerfully insane collection of cats. She misspent her youth watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and reading Terry Pratchett, which sort of made writing fantasy a bit inevitable. Under the name Cat Marsters she also writes award-winning erotic romance. She lives behind a keyboard in Essex and can be found online most days talking about men she fancies, the pride of adored felines aiding her ambition to become Crazy Cat Lady, and the Demon Puppy hindering it. Sometimes she talks about writing. Occasionally, she stops talking about writing and actually does it.
Buy link: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781906931681/The-Untied-Kingdom