Tag Archive | Urban Fantasy Romance

Raising the Dead (Soul Broker 2) Teaser

Raising the Dead DIGITAL.jpgI’m super-excited to announce that the sequel to Waking the Dead and second book in the Soul Broker series, Raising the Dead, is in production with City Owl Press! Release Day is January 16, 2017!

Afterlife management is a tricky business, especially for a living soul broker.

Juggling normal life with her otherworldly responsibilities—like helping departed souls cross to the other side while collecting grief from the living through her empathetic connection—just got a whole lot more complicated for Vivian Bedford. Her guardian spirit bosses, who make the mafia look tame, don’t like the side jobs she’s been taking to help living souls in peril.

But they don’t know the half of it.

She’s been working in secret with Lazarus Darkmore, a grim reaper and unlikely ally against the guardians’ hold on her. When a rogue guardian sends an ominous message that threatens to expose the alliance unless she stops, she has no choice but to put her trust in the reaper. But can a creature as dark and terrifying as Darkmore keep her safe, or will his appetite for cruelty and terror be her undoing?

With a spirit world energy crisis looming and guardian spirits closing in, Vivian must choose—toe the line with the guardians, plunge into darkness with the reaper, or join a rebellion that could unleash hell on earth.

Excerpt:

In the meantime, here’s a snippet to whet your appetite for the Reaper’s dark machinations for Vivian Bedford. Confronted with a sticky situation with a rogue guardian spirit, Lazarus Darkmore, Reaper, is the only creature to whom she can turn for help. Can she trust him? And what will be the price of his service?

***

They settled into an awkward silence, at least awkward for Vivian. Darkmore closed his eyes and inhaled the spring air. When he opened them, he regarded the Greek columns of the Parthenon before him with interest. “The materials are not authentic, of course, but I have to admit, it’s a decent reproduction. If you don’t have any more burdens to share, my dear, I think I should like to see Athena. It has been centuries!”

Now or never.

“I’m fresh out of burdens, but if you wouldn’t mind some company, there’s something else I’d like to discuss with you.”

Darkmore’s eyes widened as he said, “Oh my, the honorable Vivian Margaret Bedford, spiritual intercessor for the city’s downtrodden, wishes to consort with a grisly reaper? Tsk, tsk, what would Ezra think?”

“Never mind Ezra,” she said. “I have a big problem and I need some information from you and…possibly your help.”

There. She’d managed to ask for his help. Now she waited for the axe to fall.

“I take it that this ‘problem’ does not deal with the realm of the living. Very well. I’m intrigued, which may compensate for the paltry sustenance you brought today,” he said as he offered his arm. “Come along then, my dear.”

With a sense of falling, she placed her hand on his proffered arm, and before she could blink, they were standing before the impressive statue of the Greek goddess of wisdom, all forty-two feet of her. She felt Darkmore’s cool arm making its way around her back to support her as she shrieked. To her surprise, none of the other patrons turned in response, or even registered their presence.

Motherfucker!

“Now, now, Ms. Vivian,” he purred into her ear, his cool breath making goosebumps erupt over her flesh. “Do try to calm yourself. We are in the presence of divinity.”

“Couldn’t we just go through the fucking front door like normal people?” Vivian gasped. Spirit travel seemed cool in theory, but in reality it just made her nauseous. Not to mention nervous.

“But then we’d have to pay,” replied Darkmore.

When he was certain that she could stand on her own, he released Vivian and moved closer to the base of the statue. He seemed to be lost in admiration, as he didn’t even flinch when a couple walking hand-in-hand walked straight through him. She figured that Darkmore was trying to scare her, or impress her, or both. Probably both. Vivian knew that guardians and reapers could pull off tricks like that with ease, though she wasn’t quite certain if his lack of a corporeal presence extended to her. She moved out of their way just in case.

“It is a pity to keep the doors closed. The goddess would shine with more splendor by the light of the sun,” Darkmore remarked.

He was right. Her headdress, toga, spear, and shield were gilded. Vivian was more than a little surprised, not to mention impressed. In all of her years living in Nashville, she’d never stepped inside the Parthenon. It was remarkable.

“I was expecting plain marble, and not so much makeup,” she said, staring in wide-eyed wonder.

“Oh no, it was ivory over bronze back in the day—I believe that’s the expression. Her very dress once held much of the treasury for Athens. Hence, the gold. The mighty did, and often still do, enjoy audacious displays of wealth. Though she isn’t quite on par with Phidias,” he said, inclining his head toward her and spoke in a low and confidential tone. “This likeness captures the pretense of her remoteness and frigidity quite a bit better.”

“Huh?” she said, astonished. Athena was real? She was going to ask him to elaborate, but was caught off guard once more when Darkmore transported them from the floor to the statue’s shoulder.

He laughed. “Parthenos indeed! She was many, many things, the goddess, but the title of ‘virgin’ was dubious at best. Now then, come a little closer and tell me all of your troubles,” Darkmore drawled, pulling her beside him.

Now that would be an interesting story.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” She had to admit, being a little closer to the reaper eased her fear of falling. She didn’t think gravity would affect them in their current state, but decided to take no chances with that either.

“Of course I am,” he replied nonchalantly. “After all, it is in my nature. And your troubles are always most interesting.”

With a deep breath, Vivian gave her account of the attack on Father Montgomery at the hands of the unknown rogue guardian as Darkmore continued to examine the statue. She was a little annoyed by his apparent lack of concern, though he at least nodded from time to time to let her know that he was still listening. He only gave her his full attention when she got to the part about healing the priest.

“You’re a healer? You are full of surprises, Ms. Vivian.”

“I only just found out, and I still don’t know how it works or if I can heal people with regular ills as opposed to zaps from your kind,” she confessed.

“It wasn’t my kind who did this,” Darkmore said. He didn’t seem upset, but he waited until she nodded in acknowledgment.

“So why would a guardian want to hurt someone close to me?”

“To get your attention, of course.”

“No kidding,” Vivian said sardonically. “What I mean is, why does this one want me to stop what I’m doing? I’m on their side.” She blushed and put her head down then, realizing her faux pas.

Damn my big fucking mouth!

“What I meant is, um…I’m working with them, you know? For them. I didn’t mean…look, I know from experience that it’s not all black and white, and I sure as hell know that guardians aren’t always the good guys.”

“Which brought you to me,” Darkmore said. He didn’t seem smug, or angry, or even surprised. He just seemed…interested.

Good thing. Maybe he’d help her if she kept his attention and entertained him. Taking a deep breath, she said, “I need to know what I’m up against, and I’d like to find out who this so-called rogue guardian is and how to get him off my back. Can you help me?”

“That’s not the relevant question, my dear.”

“Then what is the relevant question?”

“You want to know if I am willing to help you, and what it will cost.”

“Well, yeah,” she answered. She was beginning to feel a bit ornery. “You don’t work for free, though I would have thought you’d be concerned enough about your meal ticket to want me safe.”

“Well, there is that,” he conceded, smiling.

Vivian was not amused. “So, will you help me or not?”

“Yes.”

“What will it cost?”

“I shall have to think on it. Do you trust me?” Darkmore asked.

“No more and no less than I trust any other spirit,” Vivian answered honestly.

“It’s a start. I’ll be in touch.”

With that, he disappeared, and Vivian found herself back on solid ground, left to wonder about what the going interest rate might be for her line of credit with Darkmore. She shuddered, knowing full well what sort of collateral he’d hold. She stared at Pandora on the statue’s pedestal. Well, I hope that isn’t a bad sign. Hope was definitely the key word.

 

***

 

Like it? Leave a Comment and let me know if you’d like an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review!

 

Blurb:

 

Afterlife management is a tricky business, especially for a living soul broker.

 

Juggling normal life with her otherworldly responsibilities—like helping departed souls cross to the other side while collecting grief from the living through her empathetic connection—just got a whole lot more complicated. Her guardian spirit bosses, who make the mafia look tame, don’t like the side jobs she’s been taking to help living souls in peril.

 

But they don’t know the half of it.

 

She’s been working in secret with Lazarus Darkmore, a grim reaper and unlikely ally against the guardians’ hold on her. When a rogue guardian sends an ominous message that threatens to expose the alliance unless she stops, she has no choice but to put her trust in the reaper.  But can a creature as dark and terrifying as Darkmore keep her safe, or will his appetite for cruelty and terror be her undoing?

 

With a spirit world energy crisis looming and guardian spirits closing in, Vivian must choose—toe the line with the guardians, plunge into darkness with the reaper, or join a rebellion that could unleash hell on earth.

Teaser Tuesday – Firestorm (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 3)

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Hot on the heels of Crosscurrents, Firestorm (Southern Elemental Guardians Book 3) is coming along nicely!

Speaking of hot, Sylph Prince Tlanuwa, a.k.a. Bruce in the modern age, has his hands full with a fiery Phoenix. And, boy, has he ever met his match! What begins as an investigation into a rogue hybrid Sylph known as ‘Hawk’— who’s been misusing his powers on mortal skydiving adventures—takes an unexpected turn for the worse.

And the consequences be apocalyptic!

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come. If you want to get to know Bruce sooner, check out his appearances in Lorelei’s Lyric and Crosscurrents, available now on Amazon and iBooks.

***

Well done, little sparrow.

In addition to winning his bet with Dak, which was honestly reward enough, watching the small mortal woman overcome obvious fear and distress and complete the jump gave Bruce’s adventurous heart a thrill. Plus, she’d likely thrown Hawk off guard.

With any luck, the hybrid would compensate with wind power and give them the evidence they needed to punish the fool.

Cloaking his presence, he flew as close as he dared to the pair in free fall, balancing the necessity of detecting whatever weak elemental energy signature Hawk might unleash with the need to avoid detection himself. The woman’s eyes remained tightly closed, her body stiff in spite of the force of the fall, her face twisted in a rictus of anguish that cut Bruce to the core. Whatever tormented her clearly went beyond the fear of hurling through the air. She seemed on the verge of losing her very soul.

An unexpected blast of heat hit Bruce and knocked him off his flight path. What in the name of the gods? How did Hawk manage that?

Bruce regained control and signaled to Red and Dak. Someone was channeling some serious elemental energy. If Hawk had allies with that much power, they’d need back up. But a hybrid Sylph should only have dominion over wind, not fire.

Bruce came back abreast of Hawk and the woman in spite of the growing heat. Blast, why hadn’t the fool deployed the damned parachute yet? Every other mortal in the party now soared above the earth under the support of flimsy fabric. Red and Dak were floating in a sea of flying humans, for gods’ sake.

What if the parachute had malfunctioned?

Bruce calculated the distance to the ground and gauged their rate of descent. Hawk couldn’t afford the fall. Most hybrids weren’t immortal, and no one, not even Elemental Guardians, were immune to pain. Bruce could wait a bit longer before intervening.

If not for the woman.

Busting a rogue hybrid wasn’t worth the cost of a mortal life.

He banked right and prepared to send a blast of wind to buoy the pair until he could improvise a way to get the to the ground safely and without detection. Just as he inhaled a deep, fortifying breath, he caught the scent of smoke and a surge of power the likes of which he’d never experienced. Hawk rolled, hurling the pair toward the ground as he and the woman fought over some small object.

Then it hit him. She was the source of the elemental energy.

Great gods!

“Dak, Red! Sweep the mortals to safety! We have a fire elemental in the mix. A pureblood. And she’s getting ready to blow!”

His Sylph brothers whipped up an east wind that sent the mortals on what was likely a terrifying ride. No matter. The experienced instructors could land them safely on the adjacent field. With any luck, the hapless mortals wouldn’t witness whatever was coming next.

Bruce dove, sucking as much air as possible away from Hawk and the female elemental in hopes of suffocating her fire. The pair suddenly shifted away under the power of another’s wind. Damn it! Why was Hawk moving away? Surely by now he must have realized how far out of his element he was with his passenger. Bruce gave chase, dropping his shield charm and appearing before the pair.

They didn’t notice. They were too busy grappling with each other over some metallic orb like a pair of petulant children fighting over a ball.

“Stop, you fools! You’re violating almost all of our kind’s rules of secrecy and giving me whiplash in the process!”

The female’s head jerked up and her glowing gaze met his. He’d never seen anything so beautiful and so horrifying.

“What are you?” he asked, his voice barely carrying over the wind.

“Help me!” she screamed, her warped voice full of terror.

Aw, Hades. She was scary as fuck, but she’d asked him for help. He didn’t understand why a creature packing that kind of heat, literally, needed his help, but clearly the situation had escalated to more than a rogue hybrid misusing his powers. And Hawk seemed hell bent on slamming himself into the ground and taking her with him.

Dakota showed up and grabbed Hawk by the neck, slowing their descent while Bruce tugged on the female. His hands burned and his lungs filled with hot air and smoke, but he fought to loosen her straps. He managed, but she refused to let go of Hawk and the small orb.

“Let go!” he yelled, fighting through waves of pain his cooling winds couldn’t quite soothe.

“No!” she screamed. “You don’t understand. I have to destroy it!”

“Keep this up and you’ll destroy us all! Dak, heave!”

The wiry Sylph Lord channeled his considerable strength and power to wrench Hawk away from the female, which sent Bruce and his fiery cargo hurtling toward the earth. Bruce summoned gale force winds and storm clouds to break their fall and carry them away in a violent, and blessedly cooling, downpour.

He held on to the trembling creature in his arms, or perhaps his flesh had melted into the fabric of her jumpsuit. Fighting pain and exhaustion, Bruce crash landed on top of a nearby hill and dropped his burden unceremoniously to the ground. He shouldn’t risk it, but he needed to heal. It wasn’t as if he could fight whatever flavor of elemental she was in his current state.

If he could fight her and the raw power she wielded at all.

She didn’t appear willing or able to fight at the moment. She curled up on the ground in a fetal position, shaking and keening in the scorched earth upon which she rested.

Disappearing into the air, he let his element rush through his essence, soothing, cooling, invigorating. Great gods, what had happened out there?

Red landed nearby, feathers ruffled but thankfully unscorched. He approached the elemental on the ground with caution, amber eyes wide and posture stiff with tension. “Tlanuwa,” he called. “You are unharmed?”

Bruce materialized. Judging from the look Red shot him, he must have still looked like fried chicken. Made sense, since he felt like fried fucking chicken. “I’ll do,” he muttered, joining Red and trying to wrap his mind around what had just happened.

“Where’s Hawk?”

Red waved a dismissive hand. “Dak took care of him. We’ll deal with him later. It would seem we have more pressing matters.”

No shit. The fire elemental showed no signs of aggression. She seemed damned near lifeless. Whatever. She could talk at least. Throwing caution to the wind, Bruce knelt down on the ground, yanked her chin, and got right up in her face. “You’ve got some explaining to do. Care to start?”

A blast of fire threw him to the other side of the hill and into a pile of rocks.

Red landed right beside him.

“My Prince, you know you have my undying loyalty and fealty, but as your trusted advisor and friend, I must advise you to, for once in your existence, shut the hell up.”

“What?” Bruce replied, staggering to his feet and shaking the dust off. “It’s a legitimate question.”

The fire elemental rose with flames rippling from her form, burning mortal garments, and searing the foliage all around her. She turned her gaze to the far horizon and unleashed a blood-curdling scream. Bruce and Red turned and saw a cloud of smoke, ash, and flame rise in the distance as a figure emerged, its fiery plumage blinding and brilliant as it soared away.

“Great gods,” Bruce muttered. So much for rumors. The Phoenix had arisen, at least two. One more and—

Something crashed against his temple. “Ouch! What was that for?”

The female Phoenix, for that’s what she was, no doubt about it, pointed to the shiny metal orb resting on the ground at Bruce’s feet. “Kill me. Kill me now, put my ashes in that, and scatter them to the four winds before we all perish!”

Welcome M.V. Freeman!

I am delighted to welcome fabulous author M.V. Freeman to my blog. M.V. is also represented by Aponte Literary, and I had the great pleasure of meeting her at the 2013 Southern Magic Reader Luncheon – hats off to M.V. and her RWA chapter for all of their hard work organizing such a fantastic event! It’s no secret that I love urban fantasy romance. After reading and loving Incandescent, I was delighted to get the opportunity for an interview.

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.43.40 AMHere’s lucky me (right) hanging out with Debbie Herbert (middle) and M.V. (left). I’m a happy fangirl!

Thanks for being here with me today, M.V.! Let’s talk heroes. Some of the men who spring to life from the pages of your work tend to be a bit…abrasive. I’ll admit that Mikhail Petrov was tough sell for me, in spite of that exotic Russian accent. He’s arrogant and high-handed at best, downright ruthless at worst, and yet he somehow manages to captivate his heroine (and your readers, including me) with his unexpected depth and charm. Who or what inspires your anti-heroes?

 

I love the anti-hero because they are complex, wounded souls (which they will deny). To them the end justifies the means, and it makes them fun to write. 


But where does it comes from? I’m not quite sure. I’ve always been drawn to these types—especially as I’ve become older and can appreciate the many shades of grey in life.  I collected Marvel Comics as a kid and my favorite hero—Wolverine.  Now that was a guy who would get the job done, damn the consequences. He also understood he wouldn’t be liked—and this to me–showed great strength.  There is a moment in the comics (and the movie showed it very well) when he had to make a decision which cost him personally by killing someone he loved; but had to be done to save so many more.  It still makes me shiver.

For my book Incandescent—Mikhail was inspired by the movie “Eastern Promises” starring Viggo Mortensen who played a brutal, charming, pragmatic Russian—I knew as I saw this movie I had to write a Russian anti-hero. I wanted him to be scary. There is a scene I actually changed in the beginning of my book because he was too harsh– it involved telling his current lover her anaphylactic shock was cheaper than botox. 

 (As a side note—I like to keep all my bad guys, anti-heroes to writing and reading. I’d need therapy if I spent too much time around these people in real life—but then again—I’m a writer, I hear voices all the time….) *grin*

Oh, I’m with you on the bad boys in writing and reading. In real life, not so much… Viggo Mortensen – ah, he’s such a versatile and compelling actor. What a great source for inspiration! Speaking of exotic Russian accents, what inspired your fascination with Slavic languages and culture?

 

It started when I was in the Military—I was sent to learn Russian and found a true fascination of the culture and the language. But—I didn’t complete the course because I was kicked out for not “learning fast enough.”  Which hasn’t deterred me, I’ve recently begun listening to language CD’s again, and I have a few friends who speak it fluently who try and set me straight.  I swear, by the time I’m 80, I’ll be speaking it…or at least be able to order coffee.

As a writer—I love the accents and attitudes because it differs so much from ours. This adds great conflict and isn’t that what we like to read as well as write?  (It would be pretty boring if not!). Still, my interest over the years hasn’t diminished, only grown and it has inspired my interest in other cultures as well (like Asian).

I have every confidence in your linguistic prowess! You enjoy pairing your anti-heroes with determined heroines – these ladies have to be pretty tough and resolute to match wills with their men! What I love most about these sorts of pairings is how the inherent conflict ultimately brings out the best in both characters. You do this very well, so I’m curious how you manage the transition your characters undergo from bitter adversaries to passionate allies.

It all comes down to motivation, and putting the heroines and heroes in situations where they have to choose which is the worst option—fight each other, or the one threat that would destroy them both. I like impossible moral situations—and how they decide what would be the best choice for them.

I also make sure my heroines and heroes have a deep seated need, whether they recognize it or not, which the other fills.  It’s usually a mix—loneliness, fear, anger, trust—those things we all search for.  I try very hard to make my character’s feelings evolve. I am not a huge fan of “instant love”, lust maybe, but not love. I like to see how one can fall in love with a total asshole, and why.

The kicker—my anti-heroes don’t change; for the heroines yes. He will make allowances for her (within reason) but he doesn’t stop being him. If he is a cut-throat, fierce man—he stays that way; especially to others. Because isn’t that what the heroine fell in love with? This also goes for the heroines—because people are still the same, but to each other there is something “more”.  I think that’s the magic of romance. 

(And it’s a whole lot of fun to write!)

You definitely weave all of those elements into your stories and make them shine! So, strong coffee with cream for late night writing…fair enough, but do tell a bit more about kettle bells. My curiosity was definitely piqued after spotting that on your website J

Ah, Kettle bells—they are a ball of metal with a handle on it. It originated from Russia and my husband introduced them to me. The purpose is to work your body in ways you can’t utilizing regular weight lifting. The work outs are short, hard, and work—if you do them regularly. (I admit some weeks are better than others…)

I’m a huge fan of functional fitness, a term I heard coined, and Kettle bells help with this by strengthening those muscles we use in turning and lifting in our day-to-day life. My favorite exercise? The swing—it works your back, rear, legs, and stomach. It is one of the best over-all exercises. I’m not building huge muscles, but I am building strength and flexibility.

I just wish I could break my love of chocolate….

Ha! That’s funny. The only reason I bother working out is so I can maintain my love of chocolate. Aside from the Hidden Races series (can’t wait for more, BTW), are there any other projects you can tell us about?

Thank you! I’ve got a number of projects in the works:

–A Science Fiction romance; where a woman’s decision to make changes in her life brings on more than she expected.

-A YA UF futuristic: Where a girl struggles to find herself when all her choices are taken from her. (See what I mean about impossible odds?)

–A series of Novellas featuring:  Shapeshifters, Witches, and Vampires—Oh my!

Then there is book three in the Hidden Races series I’m pondering.

I have ideas scribbled on paper in note-books… everywhere…..Now I just need to find the time.

Wow, you have some very exciting work going on – can’t wait to add these to my Kindle queue! And… big news! M.V.’s Hidden Race’s series has just been picked up by Omnific Publishing. HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!!!

How do you balance life and writing (yes, I’m always looking for advice on that!)?

This is ever evolving. I wish had great answers. What I do know is I say “no” a lot to many things in my life.  I also try to set aside writing time in the evenings (7/8 to 10p) this includes participating in social media (Facebooks, twitter etc). Emails are early in the morning/afternoon when I get home from work.  I also make a point to meet with one writer I brainstorm with at least once a week.

I usually have one day off from day-job during the week—and that’s filled with errands, but I’m going to try and fit in a few hours at a coffee shop. I have stories I want to tell and I can’t afford to waste my time.

Plus—I read a lot—via audio books (I can’t say enough good about them).  Many sites (like Tantor) have sales once or twice a year where you can get them at rock bottom prices and I stock up. I listen while driving or when I am doing things that don’t require my focus.

I wish I could do better; there are those out there who do far better. It amazes me. I’m also open to suggestions!

You are a machine! How lucky for all of your readers (does a happy dance as one of them). Random question just for fun – dark chocolate or milk?

Both!  Dark for the decadence, milk for the comfort! Next to coffee, I can’t stay away from it.

Love that you embrace the virtues of all things chocolate! Top three absolute favorite romance books?

Only three? I’ll try….

On Thin Ice—by Anne Stuart

Once Burned—By Jeaniene Frost

Twice Tempted—By Jeaniene Frost

These are fairly new—but I have read them via books and audio over and over again. They all have dark anti-heroes and fabulous heroines.  That’s how I judge a book—if I re-read them—it’s a keeper (or it makes me cry).

Oh, I adore Anne Stuart! ‘Fire and Ice’ is one of my favorites (mostly because Reno, a.k.a. Hiromasa Shinoda, is such a fabulous hero). I’m not at all surprised to find out that you’re also a fan of Jeaniene Frost’s Vlad. He’s a fascinating anti-hero. Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about M.V., check out some of her favorite online haunts:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMVFreeman

Twitter: @MVFree

Website: www.mvfreeman.com

Blog: http://paperbacksnpapercuts.blogspot.com/

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Google + :       https://plus.google.com/u/0/100536411253117557991/posts

 

Thank you so much for having me here, it was great fun!