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Exclusive Scene from Suzanne Wright!

Suzanne Wright

It’s Day Two of #WelcomeToMyWorld and the treats keep coming! We’ve had an exclusive excerpt from J. R. Ward’s Blood Vow, the superhero chat with Jayne Ann Krentz and Emma Jane Holloway and giveaways over on Facebook. Now we have an exclusive scene from Suzanne Wright, author of the Dark in You series!!!!

Come join Harper and Knox at Grandma Jolene’s Halloween party!

 

It was quite a sight. The streamers and banners fluttered with the breeze. Pumpkins lined the path, and fake tombstones, and dismembered limbs were strewn across the lawn. Knox could hear the music and laughter from there. Not his scene at all. But somewhere inside was his mate, who was deliberately ignoring his calls.

“Look on the bright side,” said Keenan, his sentinel. “She could be dressed in a slutty maid uniform. They’re always fun.”

Reaching the porch, Knox looked carefully at the life-size Grim Reaper near the door, not trusting that it was simply a prop. Imps took delight in tormenting people. Keeping a wary eye on the reaper, Knox pressed the bell, and a bloodcurdling scream sounded from nowhere. He didn’t jump. Not even when plastic spiders rained down on them. But his heartbeat did kick up just a little—something he’d take to his grave.

The door opened, and a woman in a Maleficent outfit grinned at them. “Knox, always a pleasure,” said Jolene, Harper’s grandmother. She frowned at Keenan, who was frantically batting nonexistent spiders from his head. “You got them all, sweetie. Now come on inside.”

Knox walked into the house, squinting to see through the smoke. “Is this courtesy of Martina?” Harper’s aunt lived to set shit on fire.

“No, just a smoke machine. Martina’s over there.” Jolene gestured to a zombie showgirl who was doing the Cancan dance while a bunch of imps cheered her on.

“Where’s Harper?” The sooner he found her and got out of there, the better.

“Somewhere inside. Go one through.”

The smells of candy, popcorn, hairspray, and cookies scented the air. Lots of people gathered around the hall, talking, drinking, and laughing; all were dressed in Halloween costumes. Some outfits were good, like the Edward Scissorhands costume and the weird yet creepy scarecrow getup. Other outfits were clearly DIY, like the guy wearing a red cardboard ‘Kissing Booth’ . . . who, Knox quickly realized with a frown, happened to be Tanner—one of his sentinels and Harper’s bodyguard.

Bemused, Knox walked over to him. “You dressed up?”

Tanner’s cheeks flushed. “This is Jolene’s doing.” The hellhound took a swig from his bottle of beer. “I’m just being a good sport.”

“Huh,” said Keenan. “How busy is your booth?”

Tanner spared an approaching hellcat a longing glance and said, “Not busy enough.”

Devon sidled up to Knox, fingers digging into her hair. “This wig itches like crazy.” Her Medusa dress rustled as she gestured down the hallway. “I’m pretty sure Harper’s in the living room.” She spun with a hiss when Tanner tugged on her wig.

Tanner just smiled. “Such a cranky kitty.”

She scowled. “Don’t you have some bones to bury?”

Leaving Keenan to try to stop the two from arguing, Knox stalked down the hallway and peeked into the living area. There was no sign of Harper. There was, however, an imp singing Ghostbusters to his hedgehog on the Karaoke. And that wasn’t weird at all.

Spotting Harper’s cousin, Ciaran, dressed in a Where’s Waldo costume, Knox headed over. “Where’s Harper?”

Ciaran smiled. “Happy Halloween to you too. She was in the dining room last time I saw her.”

Turning, Knox strode out of the room. As he ducked to avoid a fake spider web, he almost crashed into a little girl.

She waved up at him, her smile angelic. “Hi, Knox!”

“Heidi, you look . . .” Like a creepy kid ghost from a scary movie. “Cute.” Her hair had been backcombed, her face was white with black smears under her eyes, and she was carrying a headless doll.

“Grandma Jolene did my make-up,” she said proudly. “Want some candy?” She pointed to the dining area, where there was a table filled with novelty candy, ghost-shaped cookies, sandwiches, popcorn, and pumpkin pie.

“No, thanks. I’m looking for Harper.”

“She’s in the kitchen.”

“Thank you.” Knox held out his hand. “I’m going to need my wallet back.”

Grumbling something under her breath, the little pickpocket handed it over.

With a nod of thanks, Knox headed to the kitchen. There was yet again no sign of Harper. As he got a good look at the guy in the Mad Hatter costume, he couldn’t help but think that it was the right choice of outfit. Knox inclined his and greeted, “Lou.”

The devil grinned. “Surprised to see you here. How come you didn’t dress up?”

“Because I’m not eight. Have you seen Harper?”

“She went outside with her friend.” Lou popped a jelly eyeball in his mouth. “You got her pregnant yet?”

Knox sighed. “I’m not having this conversation with you.”

“All I want is your solid oath to name your first born son after me.”

“It’s not going to happen, Lou, let it go.” As a motion-activated hand scuttled across the floor, Knox moved aside, almost bumping into a guy wearing a hospital gown complete with a plastic bare ass. As Lou picked up the electronic hand and started using it to fondle the plastic ass, Knox stalked out of the kitchen and into the backyard.

And there was his mate, sitting on a hay bale with her friend. They both looked up at him, Harper shot him a bright smile. With that, his frustration eased away.

Raini, who was dressed as Harley Quinn, gave him a quick wave and retreated inside.

Taking Harper’s hand, he pulled her to her feet and kissed her hard. “You taste like candy apples.” He skimmed his hands up her bare arms, which were chilled by the breeze.

She frowned, smoothing a hand down his shirt. “You didn’t dress up.”

“You did,” he said, studying the beige dress that had stitch marks, patches, and a red heart on it. “But I can’t work out what you’re supposed to be.”

“Duh, a voodoo doll.”

“Ah, I see it now.” He kissed her again, ending it with a punishing nip to her lower lip. “You didn’t answer your phone.”

“You tried calling me?” She blinked, all innocence. “There’s a lot of noise in there.”

“You were hiding from me. I’ve no idea why. You knew I’d come for you.”

She shrugged. “Hiding from you was really the only way to get you to come inside.”

“Sneaky.” He cupped her hips. “Tell me you’re ready to leave.”

“We haven’t gone out to terrorize all the trick-or-treaters yet.”

“I want to take you home.” He slid his hands down to cup her ass. “There are a lot of things I want to do to you, and I can’t do any of them here.”

“Stop using your sex voice.”

He kissed, licked, and bit her neck, knowing how sensitive it was. “Come home with me.”

“But it’s early.”

“You love me, right?”

“Yes,” she breathed.

“Then come with me.”

“But I haven’t—” She froze, brow furrowing. “Is that… is that Lou singing Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to Do with It? on the karaoke?”

Knox gave her a faint smile. “Yep. And if the whistles and catcalls are anything to go by, he’s dancing and possibly even stripping. I think we both know that Baby Got Back will be next.”

She groaned. “Let’s just go.”

“If you insist.”

 

For today only in the US and Canada get Burn for $0.99.

 

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In the UK and Australia Burn is available at half price for the week:

 

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If you prefer you books in audio Burn and Blaze are now out in the UK and Australia, and will be coming to the US soon.
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And for those of you who’ve already read Burn and Blaze . . . Ashes will be released worldwide in July and is already up for pre-order in some countries!

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The Superpower Chat with Emma Jane Holloway and Jayne Ann Krentz

All this talk of Fantasy and Paranormal meant we had to have the superpower chat – which would you have – and we got our authors involved. We asked Emma Jane Holloway and Jayne Ann Krentz what they would pick; in their answers you just might learn something about the life of an author. 

Emma Jane Holloway:

I would love to have the ability to make time stand still so that I could get more done in a day. Who hasn’t wished for a few extra hours just for themselves? I could spend hours reading a book. I could take a long, luxurious bath. If I really felt like it, I could even fit in some of those nice-to-do tasks like actually organising vacation photos instead of creating a black hole of chaos on my desk. Best if all, everyone else on the planet would be frozen in time and not giving me more work to do before I caught up. Then, with a snap of my fingers, I would restart the day – and I would be perfectly organised, perfectly calm, and without a hair out of place.

Readers, if you had the ability to squeeze in an extra hour in the day, what would you do?

 

Jayne Ann Krentz:

My superpower would be the ability to maintain a neat and tidy office while writing a book.  By the time I finish a manuscript my office area always looks like a whirlwind hit it.

 

Us:

We thought long and hard about this, some of us were inspired by Jayne and Emma, dreaming of tidy desks, being on top of everything at all times . . .

Some of us proved we’re readaholics: ‘If we could control time we could speed things up so we never have to wait for the next book. You know the one, the book that turns you into an online stalker, desperate to see if publication date is coming closer; I mean it could happen, right?

While one of us (we won’t name any names), just couldn’t resist dreams of strapping on her/his Wonder Woman underwear and taking to the skies to battle Aries and his evil minions.

 

 

Which superpower would you choose?

 

 

Emma Jane Holloway is the author of The Baskerville Affair series, which follows Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes and holder of illegal magic.

Check out her first novel:

A Study in Silks

A Study in Silks

In a Victorian era ruled by a Council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines – something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask . . .

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Jayne Ann Krentz, also know as Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle, writes romantic suspense, historical romance and futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense. No matter what genre she’s writing in her books are always a treat!

Check out the first in her Rainshadow Island series:

The Lost Night

The Lost NightEven the mysterious world of Harmony has people who don’t quite fit in. They’re drawn to places like Rainshadow Island, a beautiful sanctuary where anyone can feel safe – and where secrets are closely guarded. Schooled in an exotic form of martial arts and with the ability to detect the auras of dangerous psychic criminals, Rachel Bonner and her dust bunny companion have found peace and quiet on Rainshadow Island, operating a bookstore and café. But her tranquil new life is thrown into chaos when Harry Sebastian, the descendant of a notorious pirate, arrives to investigate strange developments in the privately owned woods known as the Preserve.

Immediately drawn to the amber-eyed woman, Harry must tread carefully. While Rachel’s special talents can help him track down dangerous rogues who have violated the Preserve, they can also sense the heart of darkness within him. But desire can weaken the strongest of defenses – and leave even the strongest man wanting more . . .

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Exclusive Early Excerpt from J. R. Ward’s BLOOD VOW

Blood Vow

We’re kicking off #WelcomeToMyWorld with an exclusive, early excerpt from J. R. Ward’s Blood Vow. Rhage and Mary and Bitty are all back!

BLOOD VOW

Trainees  at the Black Dagger Brotherhood’ training centre continue to prepare  for the fight against the Lessening Society, but fighting is the last  thing on Axe’s mind. Still plagued with the guilt of his father’s death,  the brooding loner finds himself battling an unlikely attraction to  Peyton’s bright, aristocratic cousin, Elise.

Elise feels it too – and when the two are thrown together in unusual circumstances Elise must decide whether she can trust Axe to help her uncover the mystery  surrounding her sister’s death.

Meanwhile, Mary and Rhage are in the process of adopting Bitty, a young pretrans orphan, until the  appearance of a young male claiming to be Bitty’s blooded uncle threatens to tear the new family apart.

 

CHAPTER TWO

The Black Dagger Brotherhood Mansion

“So what is that?”

As Rhage’s daughter piped up, he froze with his gun halfway into his under-arm holster. For a split second, he decided to pretend that he hadn’t heard her—but that was going to get him nowhere. In the two months or so that he and Mary had had Bitty, they’d both learned that she was smart as a whip and tenacious as flypaper.

Ordinarily, he got a kick out of those two defining characteristics. When it came to describing the technical specs of a forty-caliber killing weapon to his thirteen-year-old? Pass. He wished she had an empty skull and ADD.

“Ah . . .”

He glanced into the mirror over the bureau, hoping against hope that she had moved on to something, anything else. Nope. Bitty was sitting on his and Mary’s new bed, the one in the third-floor suite that Trez had graciously moved out of so the three of them could have adjoining rooms. The girl was way on the small side, her skinny arms and legs the kind of thing that made him want to move to the tropics instead of live in Upstate New Freezing-Fucking-Cold. Hell, even under a body weight’s worth of fleece, she seemed fragile.

But the oh, dainties ended right there. Her brown eyes were direct as an adult’s, old as a mountain range, keen as an eagle’s. Her dark hair was thick and shiny, falling past her shoulders, nearly the exact color of Mary’s. And her aura, her . . . whatever, life force, spirit, soul . . . was as tangible as her physical form seemed almost transient.

He took pride in the fact that the longer she stayed with them, the more she was emerging. Not like a flower.

Like a fucking oak.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut that didn’t mean he wanted to get into the nitty gritty of his job killing lessers with her.

And nope. Really not interested in the whole birds-and-bees talk, either. At least they had another twelve years or so to prepare for that.

“Father?” she prompted.

Rhage closed his eyes. Okay, so every time she called him that, his heart got too big for his chest and this unreal, won-the-lottery feeling sunrised all over him. It took him back to right after he and Mary had been mated and he’d gotten to call her shellan for the first time.

Pure, full-bore awesomeness.

“What is it?” Bitty prompted.

That happy pink bubblegum glow faded as he seated the gun and clipped its strap over the butt. “It’s a weapon.”

“I know—it’s a gun. But what kind?”

“A Smith and Wesson forty.”

“How many bullets are in it?”

“Enough.” He picked up his leather jacket and smiled. “Hey, you ready for movie night when I get home?”

“Why don’t you want to tell me about your gun?”

Because if you’re the audience, I can’t separate what I do with it from a discussion of its specs. “It’s just not all that interesting.”

“It’s what keeps you alive, though, right?” The little girl’s eyes locked on the black daggers that were holstered on his chest, handles down. “Like your knives.”

“Among other things.”

“So that’s interesting. To me, at least.”

“Look, how ’bout we talk about this when your mom and I are both here? You know, like, later tonight.”

“But how do I know you’ll come home safe?”

Rhage blinked. “I am never not coming back to you and Mary.”

“What if you die, though?”

His first thought was:

MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARY!

His Mary, as a trained therapist—who had treated Z with all his demons, for godsakes—could deal with this so much better than some meathead fighter like him could. But his shellan was at Safe Place, working, and he didn’t feel right about calling and possibly interrupting her with anything other than an arterial bleed or a house fire. Zombie apocalypse. H-bomb behind the compound.

And fine, maybe if they were out of cheesecake.

Except he needed to man up. What was going down right now? This was Father Shit, and not only had he signed up for exactly these kinds of hard conversations when he and Mary had started the adoption process, he really didn’t want to admit this early that he couldn’t handle the job.

Okay, note to self: Find an online course on being a father. Surely there had to be a curriculum for this kind of thing.

“I’m just worried,” she said. “It’s scary for me, okay?”

Jesus, it was scary for him, too. He had so much more to lose with her in his life.

Rhage went over and knelt down. Bitty had tucked her arms around herself and her eyes were steady as if she were not going to accept a load of bullcrap.

Opening his mouth, he . . .

Closed it. And wondered what he needed to do to jump-start his brain. Maybe bang it into a wall?

“You know my car?” he heard himself say.

As Bitty nodded, he had an image of Puskar Nepal–ing himself until he passed the fuck out from foot-to-forehead contact: Of all the things for his subconscious, or whatever was running his program, to spit out, he led with his GTO?

“Well, you know when I was teaching you to drive?”

Yeah, Bits, right before those kids attacked Mary and you found out that I have a dragon for an alter ego? Har-har, good times, good times.

God, he wanted to throw up.

As she nodded again, he said, “You remember when you were figuring out the gears and the steering wheel and the brakes? Going back and forth, again and again, until you could get it right?”

“Yes.”

“You know how I drive that car?”

“Oh, yes.” Now, she smiled. “Fast. Very fast and fun. It’s like a rocket.”

“So, someday, you’re going to drive her just as well as I do. You’re going to know where the gears are by feel, and you’re going to work the clutch and the gas without thought. And if someone swerves in front of you, you’re going to react so quick and so sure, you’re not going to be aware of even thinking about it. If somebody slams on the brakes, you’re going to shift lanes instinctually. You’re going to feel the tires hydroplaning on the highway in the rain and you’re going to know to slow up on the gas, but not hit the brakes. And all of that is going to happen because you’re going to practice, practice, practice on a car that is kept in tip-top shape.”

“I’m going to practice. So I drive better.”

“Right. Even if the people around you drive dangerously, you’re going to be aware and focused and trained to deal with whatever comes at you.” He put his palm over his daggers, over his heart. “I have been out there fighting for a century, Bitty. And everything I take with me into the field—the weapons, the gear, the support in the form of my brothers—all of it is engineered to keep me safe. Is it a perfect system? No. But it’s the best it gets, I promise you that.”

Bitty’s arms uncoiled and she looked down. The pink and green bracelet on her wrist was made out of faceted beads that sparkled like real gems. Moving the thing around and around, she took a deep breath.

“Are you . . . good at it? I mean, the fighting?”

God, he wished he was an accountant. He really did. Because if he were some pocket-protector’d numbers cruncher, he wouldn’t be having to tell an innocent that he excelled at killing things.

“Are you?” she prompted.

“I’m very good at keeping myself and my brothers safe. I’m so good at it, they’re having me teach younger people how to do it.”

She nodded once again. “That’s what they were saying. At Last Meal the other night. I heard people talking about you and the other Brothers teaching people.”

“That’s where I’m heading right now. While you hang here with Bella and Nalla, I’m meeting the trainee class out in Caldwell to show them how to stay safe.”

Bitty tilted her head, her brown hair cascading over her shoulder. And he let her stare at him for as long as she wanted. If that made him a little late to work, who cared.

“You must be really good at it to be a teacher.”

“I am. I swear to you, Bitty. I am effective and I take no more chances than I absolutely have to in order to get my job done.”

“And the beast will keep you safe, won’t he.”

Rhage nodded. “You better believe it. You saw him. You know what he’s like.”

She smiled, sunshine replacing the worry. “He likes me.”

“He loves you. But he doesn’t love people who get aggressive with me.”

“That makes me feel better.”

“Good.” He put his palms up, and as she high-fived him, he said, “You’re never going to be alone, Bitty. I promise you.”

In that moment, as he sought to relieve any and all of her anxiety— and his own, for that matter—he nearly came out with the one thing Bitty didn’t know about her adoptive parents. Yes, her new old man had a dragon living under his skin, but her new mom had an even fancier secret.

Mary was a unique flavor of immortal. Thanks to the Scribe Virgin— and this remained true even though V’s mahmen was no longer in charge—Mary did not age, and could choose when she went unto the Fade. It was a gift beyond measure, insulating this family in ways that other people’s weren’t.

Except Rhage stayed quiet on that front. Even though the knowledge might have helped Bitty in the moment, he really felt like it was Mary’s information to share, not his.

“You’re never going to be alone, Bitty,” he repeated. “I swear to you.”

***

As Mary sat behind her desk at Safe Place, she put her bag down and shrugged out of her parka. Extending her arm, she pulled the sleeve of her turtleneck up and smiled at the pink and green bracelet that twinkled at her wrist.

She and Bitty had made matching ones the other night, the pair of them sitting at Fritz’s kitchen table in the mansion, a jewelry-making kit spread out everywhere, a huge array of clear plastic boxes holding a rainbow’s worth of iridescent beads. They had talked about nothing and everything, and greeted each person who came in, and split a bag of Combos and a Mountain Dew. They had also made a necklace for Rhage, a different-colored bracelet for Lassiter, and braid for Nalla to play with. And even Boo had come over and curled up to watch, the black cat’s green eyes inspecting everything.

In a mansion full of priceless stuff? That time together had been the most precious, irreplaceable thing.

Looking across her desk, Mary reached out and picked up a photograph of Bitty from two weeks before, when the little girl had been taking selfies with Rhage’s phone. Bit was making a crazy face, her dark hair back-brushed until she looked like something out of an eighties glam metal band.

And in fact, Lassiter was over on the left, doing his best Nikki Sixx impression.

Unexpected tears pricked Mary’s eyes. In all her life, she had never expected to be a woman who had pictures of a daughter at her work desk. Nah, that hypothetical, blessed, stranger of a person, that lucky female who had a husband and a family, and holidays to look forward to, and homemade things on her wrist? That had always been someone else, a stranger whose reality was something you watched on TV or saw in Maytag ads or overheard at the table next door in a restaurant.

While you were eating alone.

Mary Luce was the nurse to an ailing mother who had died horribly and too young. Mary Luce was the cancer survivor left infertile after chemo. Mary Luce was the ghost on the fringes, the shadow that passed unnoticed through a room, an allegory of where you didn’t want to end up.

Except life had corkscrewed on her in the best of all possible ways. Now? She was exactly where she had never even dared to dream of being.

And yup, this unexpected destiny came with a not-too-small dose of PTSD. Hell, sometimes, when she woke up next to her gorgeous vampire of a husband? And especially now, when she tiptoed into another bedroom to check on Bitty at nightfall? She expected to wake up, back in her nightmare of a real life.

But no, she thought as she put the picture down. This was the real stuff. Here and now was the story she was living.

And it was . . . amazing. So full of love, family, and happiness that it felt as though the sun lived in the center of her chest.

They were all survivors, her, Rhage, and Bitty. She of her illness. Rhage of the curse he had to live with. Bitty of the unimaginable domestic abuse she and her mahmen had suffered at the hands of her birth father. The three of their lives had started to intersect here, at Safe Place, when Bitty and her mahmen had come in seeking shelter. And then Bitty’s mother had died, leaving her an orphan.

The opportunity to take the girl in had seemed too good to be true. It still did, sometimes.

If they could just get through this six-month waiting period, the adoption would be final and Mary could take a deep breath. At least there were no relatives coming forward. Even though Bitty had talked initially about some uncle, her mother had never mentioned having a brother or disclosed anything about any blood relations, either during intake or in subsequent therapy sessions. Notices posted on closed Facebook and Yahoo groups had yielded nothing so far.

God willing, it would stay that way.

On that note, Mary signed in to the computer network, her heart starting to bang in her ribs, a sick flush blooming in her body. As social media aficionados went, she was below amateur status, the anti-Kardashian—and yet every night, but only once a night, she hopped onto Facebook.

And prayed she found nothing.

The FB group she checked was one specifically devoted to vampires, its closed roster restricted to members of the species. Created by V after the raids, moderated by Fritz’s staff, the clearinghouse was an opportunity for folks to connect about anything from safe-house locations—always in code—to garage sales.

Scanning the posts in the last twenty-four hours, she exhaled in a rush. Not at thing.

The relief made her office spin around—at least until she went to check the Yahoo group. Recipe for Crock-Pot. Knitting group having a meeting . . . snowblower for sale . . . question about where to get a computer fixed . . .

Also nothing.

“Thank you, God,” she whispered as she put another small check on her wall calendar.

Almost to the end of December, which meant they were nearly two whole months down. By May? They could move forward.

As her heart shifted out of tachycardia, she wondered how in the hell she was going to face this IT gauntlet another hundred and thirty times or so. But she had no other choice. The good news was that she was able to stick to this once-and-only-once-a-night check. Otherwise she’d be on her damn phone every fifteen minutes.

She had to be fair, though, to whoever else might be out there. Extinguishing parental rights in blood relations was serious business, and with no modern precedents in the vampire race to follow, she, Marissa, as head of Safe Place, Wrath, the Blind King, and Saxton, the King’s head counsel, had had to devise a procedure that provided an adequate notice period.

Emotions did not have waiting periods, however, and moms and dads who loved their kids couldn’t toggle back the speed of their hearts.

As if Marissa could read minds, the female put her head in the open doorway. “Anything?”

Mary smiled at her boss and her dear friend. “Nothing. I swear, I have never been more excited for May to get here.”

“I’ve always had a good feeling about this, you know.”

“I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’m staying quiet.” Mary focused on the calendar again. “Hey, I’m not going to be in tomorrow night. Bitty’s got her physical exam scheduled.”

“Oh, that’s right. Good luck—and it’s too bad you have to go all the way in to Havers’s.”

“Doc Jane says she just doesn’t have the appropriate knowledge base. Pediatrics for vampires is a thing, apparently.”

Marissa smiled gently. “Well, my brother may be complicated for me personally, but I have never questioned his ability to provide good care to his patients. Bitty couldn’t be in better hands.”

“I’d really rather just keep her with us at the training center’s clinic. But at the end of the day, what’s right for her is all we care about.”

“That’s called being a good parent.”

Mary looked at her bracelet. “Amen to that.”

 

Pre-order your copy of Blood Vow:

 

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The end of the Queen Betsy era – by MaryJanice Davidson

The end of an era! If era means “wonderful, occasionally surreal, life-changing period of time”. When the first book in the series, UNDEAD AND UNWED, hit shelves, I was enduring an SDJ (Stupid Day Job), had over ten years of rejection slips (I could have wallpapered half the house in Rejection, which is a deep, creamy white), and was reasonably sure I would die unpublished (but with a beautifully wallpapered house). In fact, when I got what writers refer to as The Call, I was sure it was a cruel practical joke from my aunt: “Go to hell, Aunt Alice! And lay off the booze, it’s, what? 9:00 a.m.?”

Fifteen books later, thanks to my wonderful readers I’ve got books published in over a dozen countries and have been on best-seller lists all over the world. Now, instead of being a Ramen noodles family (cheap bundles of noodles that sell for less than a dollar), we are a Ramen noodle family who occasionally chases Ramen with lobster. (Not as often as you’d think, though. Turns out my kids hate lobster. Weirdos.) I’m paid to plunge unsuspecting characters into hip-deep (and sinking!) chaos. And I can lay all of that at Betsy Taylor’s well-shod feet. That silly brave cutie changed my life, and others’, too, and (the odd part) for the better. Readers give my books as gifts to cheer people up. They take my books to chemo and dialysis (“I’m guaranteed a laugh, and not just because of the plot holes.”). Other writers believed me when I said, “If I can do this, you can do this.”) and wrote books and got published.

So why end a successful series that is as satisfying to write now as it was fifteen year ago? Because some things, no matter how wonderful, come to an end. I’ve got ideas for new books and, much as I adore Betsy, want to focus on new people and new stories for a while. That’s not to say I’ll never again write about the Undead gang . . . never say never, first, and second, when you move away from a place you love, you can always come back. Sometimes coming back is the best part. It all depends on where you go once you leave. Me? I’ll be out there, coming up with new journeys for new characters. I hope you’ll come, too.

Undead and Done is available from Piatkus as an ebook on the 4th October.

isbn9780349414614

Why Tarot cards inspired our brand new series

Linda Jones and Linda Howard share insight into their experience of writing their new novel Frost Line. They divulge why a spark of genius on an escalator and an interest in tarot cards led to creating this amazing new paranormal series.

Frost Line

Linda Jones: Confession time: I own several decks of Tarot Cards. I pull them out infrequently, but they do sit in a special cabinet, and I have favorite decks and a few instructional books. In the past several years I’ve done a few readings for friends — and for characters. You might call it a hobby. So, Linda Howard and I are familiar with the basics. We know the Major and Minor Arcana, and understand the basic meanings for most of the cards. We were at a conference in New York, walking back into the hotel from yet another trip to Juniors (cheesecake!), talking about our next project.

Linda Howard: Figuring out our next project was going nowhere, because neither of us had any idea what we wanted to write. Maybe the Junior’s cheesecake was inspirational, but as we were going up the escalator, out of the blue I said, “What if Tarot cards came to life?” No, I had nothing beyond that initial remark. I hadn’t even been thinking about Tarot, it was one of those musing, inane comments I sometimes make. But LJ (Linda Jones) acted as if she’d been struck by lightning. She gasped and turned around, eyes big, and I knew the words had resonated with her. We stared at each other, which is kind of dangerous when you’re on a moving escalator.

Linda Jones: The words I remember most from that escalator ride were Linda Howard’s, “I can see a woman stepping out of a card, but I don’t know which one.” I did. I immediately said, “Strength. It has to be Strength.” I saw it, in that moment. I saw a woman stepping out of a huge Tarot card. A foot, a leg, a wisp of a white dress. Now and then writing brings these fantastic moments that are gifts from the blue. This was one of them.

Linda Howard: We were giddy with excitement, at the way this idea had fired our imaginations. When we were in workshops we weren’t paying attention to the speakers, but instead were researching names, looking for the perfect ones. We kicked around ideas for the hero. He couldn’t be subservient to the Major Arcana, so we came up with a different kind of being, a universal type of cop who could travel freely between all the worlds — because the Major Arcana couldn’t. Somehow we ended up back at Junior’s (more cheesecake!) and I was so electrified I had chills racing over my skin.

Linda Jones: And so it began. Even though we were familiar with the Tarot when that initial idea came to life on the escalator, much research was involved. I know a lot more about the cards than I did when we began. When the research starts, you never know what detail will come into play, what might spark yet another idea.

Linda Howard: I couldn’t begin to count the back-and-forth e-mails as we tried to nail down the world-building, the contradictions, the inevitable, “Well, that just isn’t logical!” details that we had to make logical (or at least acceptable) because we both skew highly analytical/logical in personality tests, which is an interesting twist when we’re writing paranormal. As far as the physical surroundings in the book, we tend to see them in mirror images, so I’ll have a character running left and LJ will have that same character running right, going to the same destination. This has happened in every book we’ve written together; eventually we’ll learn to sketch out floor plans and neighborhoods to circumvent this type of thing :-). As much work as the actual writing was, though, the bolt of lightning excitement we felt at the dawning of the concept made it all worthwhile.

A Chat with Kirsty Moseley and Samantha Young

Sam and Kirsty
It’s been an amazing week in publishing with the release of Samantha Young’s
The One Real Thing and Kirsty Moseley’s Fighting to Be Free. We’re excited about the start of both new series and to mark the occasion Kirsty and Samantha agreed to give us a little window into their world.

What’s a typical day in the life of Samantha Young/Kirsty Moseley? 

Samantha Young: About two years ago, after suffering the worst jet lag ever upon returning from a book signing in Australia, I discovered that my brain is far more alert early in the morning. So instead of writing at night I get up around 6am, let the puppies out “to do their business”, make a coffee and dive into writing. I’ll write about 3.5K to 4K words and then get ready for the day. I take the dogs out, I run errands, I work out, and then I come back and answer emails, social media notifications etc. Early afternoon I’ll write a few thousand words, and then take the dogs out again (they rule my life!), and have some chill out time with the family over dinner. At night I usually get back on social media to do some promotional stuff. 

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Kirsty Moseley: Well, I have a child so that pretty much guarantees no lie in! After breakfast and school run; there’s the minimum amount of tidying that I can get away with and then the laptop is fired up. Takes at least an hour, maybe two to catch up on my emails and social media before the word doc gets opened and I *hopefully* get some words written! I usually forget to eat lunch when I’m working, but the coffee is always flowing! Then 3pm is school run time. After dinner, if my son doesn’t force me to beat him on the PlayStation (I am pretty beast!) then it’s usually a bit of TV (Hollyoaks is a must see in the Moseley household) or reading. Bedtime is usually with an audiobook of some crime or thriller novel because they are the best to listen to late at night! To be honest, I’m just a normal mum who hides from the housework by pretending to work really hard on my novels… lol

 

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be? 

Kirsty Moseley: Salt and Vinegar crisps. Easiest choice ever. They have to be Walkers though.

Samantha Young: Cake. Madeira Cake. Victoria Sponge. Double chocolate gateau. Lemon white chocolate cupcakes. Cakes. Cakes. Cakes. I’m a certified cake fiend. Cake can only be given to me in small doses and in limited amounts annually.

 

What was the last TV programme that stole your breath? 

Samantha Young: Game of Thrones. I forget that it’s a TV show and become incredibly invested in it and the characters (which considering the track record of short life spans in GRR Martin’s world sets me up for constant heartbreak). Thankfully I have friends and family who are just as invested. We talk about the latest episodes like this stuff is really happening. 

Kirsty Moseley: The ending of The Walking Dead season 6, I mean, come on…. what…. no……

 

What was the best romance you’ve read recently?

Kirsty Moseley: Reap by Tillie Cole. I was late joining the Scarred Souls party so now playing catch up. Can’t wait to dive into book 3!

Samantha Young: Definitely Reaper’s Fire by Joanna Wylde. I love me some Reapers MC! Her MC world is so authentic and well-researched, and the chemistry between her characters seeps out of the pages. I lose myself in that world, which is all I can ask for from a good book.

Thanks to both Samantha and Kirsty for answering all our questions, and for writing such fabulous books.

If you want to be in with a chance to win this pair of fabulous books, check out our competition here

An introduction to the Dark Desires series – Zara Cox

Porn Star

Q: What’s the single most important thing we need to know about the series?

A: There are heroes, and then there are the anti-heroes who power the Dark Desires series. These men, their stories and the women they fall for, are unlike anything you’ve read before. They will leave you stunned, turned on, drive you out of your mind and have you begging for more!

Q: In five sentences or less tell us what the series is about. Go:

A: The Dark Desires series centres on complex characters with complex and often self-destructive lives resulting from traumatic pasts. The male characters especially have deeply disturbing personal and often morally bankrupt issues and go through a roller coaster journey of self-discovery that leads them right to the edge of their endurance. They aren’t afraid to reach for the nearest high—be it sex, a game of twisted revenge, a little blue pill, or (when all else fails) a bout of head shrinking. Of course, being a romance at its core, the women these men get involved with are the only ones who come within a prayer of offering true redemption, while grappling with issues of their own. But from start to finish, their psychosexual journeys offer a thrilling, insanely addictive ride!

Q: Who’s your favourite character?

A: Quinn Blackwood aka “Q”, my gorgeous anti-hero. He’s beautifully, insanely complex, unapologetically dominant and embraces his self-destructive side wholeheartedly.

Q: Give us a hint about what’s coming next!

A: BLACK SHEEP tells the story of Axel Rutherford, another gorgeous anti-hero with a past littered with underground crime, a father who wishes him dead, blackmail and a childhood sweetheart turned vilest enemy. Oh, and he’s the owner of exclusive member’s only club called THE PUNISHMENT CLUB. To find out what happens there, make a note in your diary for BLACK SHEEP!

If you like SYLVIA DAY’S THE CROSSFIRE SERIES you’ll love Porn Star. You may think you know QUINN BLACKWOOD. Trust me, you don’t.

Katee Robert on mafia stories

kr_aip_cover_web_0716There’s a new mini trend hitting all over the place right now—mafia books. It seems like every time I turn around, I’m hearing about an author selling a mafia-based series or seeing another release with that theme. It’s so exciting! Yes, I’m totally biased. I have a mafia series, and I love reading them. They’re like catnip to me.

I have a theory on why these types of books have become so increasingly popular. Contemporary romance has been going strong for several years now. We’ve seen billionaires, MMA fighters, motorcycle gang members, and men in uniform, and readers have consumed them by the legion. But, like with anything, the wheel eventually turns. I think contemporary is going to be around for a while yet, but it’s starting to take on darker tones that are more in line with romantic suspense than what we’ve seen in the recent past.

That’s where mafia books come in. They are naturally in a darker vein, because the characters who populate these types of stories walk through parts of life that aren’t pretty and are sometimes downright scary. It’s the perfect setting for anti-heroes to flourish, and I think readers are really responding to that type of man—and the type of woman to make him rock back on his heels and give him a run for his money.

I had always wanted to write a mafia book, but it was one of those things that kind of sat in the back of my mind and never went anywhere. Then one day I was driving and suddenly had this scene in my mind. It was of a woman in a strip club, confronting her fiancé and ending up killing him in self-defense. I may or may not have broken some speed limits while hurrying home to put it to paper. But once I had it down, I had to start thinking about the greater world she’d live in—and what kind of hero a woman like that would end up with.

And so Teague was born. I knew he was one of seven children, and that unlike some of his siblings, he despised the life he’d been born into. This was a good man moving in a very bad world and doing his damnedest to survive—and keep the people he cared about alive.

As soon as he and Callie met on page, sparks flew, and I could barely write fast enough to keep up with the story as it unfolded in my head. The rest, as they say, is history.

Katee Robert is the author of the O’Malley series.

Ashley Antoinette on LUXE

LuxeWhat’s the single most important thing we need to know about the Luxe series?

The Luxe Series is written to be just as addictive as the drugs the main character uses. It was my intention to make every single page explosive and incredibly pleasurable. It’s definitely not your average coffee table read. It’s sinful, exciting, and is one of those books you grip so tightly that you wrinkle the pages as you anticipate the main character’s next move.

In five sentences or less tell us what the series is about. Go:

The Luxe series is about a girl named Bleu who wants it all. She is an extraordinary girl with beauty and wit to match who tries her hand at selling drugs to pay for college. She becomes a player in a dangerous game, she’s too smart for her own good. When begins to overindulge in the fast life of luxury, money, and drugs, her dreams get derailed. Bleu becomes addicted to the very drugs that were supposed to help her escape her life at the bottom.

Who’s your favourite character?

Noah is my favorite character in the Luxe series. He has a love for Bleu that helps her defy all odds. He is her strength.

Give us a hint about what’s coming next!

A love triangle with one imperfect girl and two perfect men are waiting in book 2!