Monday, April 25, 2011

Review - Demon's Are A Girl's Best Friend

Demon's Are A Girl's Best Friend
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
April 2011

Maggie O'Malley, witch and elite member of the Hellion Guard, loves her work - taking out the unsavory paranormal types that frequent places like the notorious club, Damnation Alley. In fact, one of her first arrests takes place in the club when she's sent to apprehend a Bloater. That doesn't turn out well - for the bloater or the bar - though it does introduce her to Declan, the clubs new handsome, half-fire demon owner.

Declan has worked hard to earn the rights to Damnation Alley and he means to keep it. And he means to keep his sister away from his father who wants to sell her to cement his ambitions in the demon realm. Like Declan, his sister is half-demon and lately she's been having dark, dangerous visions of the future.

Maggie, assigned to keep an eye on Declan, finds him too attractive and too charming - a bad condition for any single witch who doesn't want to consort with the enemy. But even though she doesn't want to admit it, Declan has a sense of honor and a strong moral code unlike other fire demons she's encountered. When his sister is threatened, Maggie offers to take her to the Hellion Guard compound for safekeeping and for training on how to use her gift.

As Declan and Maggie learn to trust each other and explore their feelings for each other, Maggie is assigned her most important task - guarding a teenager marked for a demonic ritual death and averting the end of the world as we know it.

Demon's Are A Girl's Best Friend is a fast paced, witty tale with elements of danger laced with passionate love and uproarious humor. One of my favorite scenes involves a cloud raining down on Declan...inside his office. But the love scenes are the best as Declan enters Maggie's dreams and that's not surprising since Declan, even as a half-demon, is pure dream boat.

Ms Wisdom doesn't stop with dreamy heroes and hot love scenes. She includes a list of fascinating characters  who keep the reader enthralled. One of these is Elle, a black widow spider who surfs the web looking for a way to keep her lovers alive. And when she's not doing that, she's moonlighting as a sparkly tattoo/jewelry for Maggie.

All in all, this is one Linda Wisdom book you don't want to miss.

Guest - Linda Wisdom

Good morning all! One of our favorite author's is visiting us again today - the talented Linda Wisdom, author of the wonderfully imaginative Hex series and now branching off to an exciting new Demon series that you'll definitely want to catch. Sourcebooks is offering a give away so read on to find out how to enter the drawing.

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Witches and Demons – Same Yet Different


First off, thank you so much, Lynda, for having me at Star-Crossed Romance! 

So many readers have emailed me asking ‘when will your next Hex book be out?’

Easy, it is out, just with a whole new look and titles.

My editor loved Declan, the demon hero in Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend that she wanted to change the Hex series to a Demon series. The title, cover, and release date was changed while they worked on this.

Maggie was first introduced in Hex in High Heels when she showed up to arrest a rogue troll. There’s something about a kickass witch that appeals to me, so I knew she needed just the right guy. Declan, owner of an underground club called Damnation Alley, was a perfect fit.

To make it interesting I threw in a diamond-encrusted black widow spider tattoo looking for everlasting love, over caffeinated ferrets, an ancient Mayan curse, more demons, and a mouthy teenage girl who manages to get mixed up in it all. After all, why make it easy?

Since I’ve been working on an urban fantasy YA, it was a lot of fun to write Courtney in this book and I saw it as good practice for me.

My friends know how much I love writing my witches and I will continue to do so.

But there’s a lot more going on. Since I own the rights to many of my backlist books I’ve been putting them up for Kindle, Nook, and at www.smashwords.com and more books will be following.

As I said I’m working on the urban fantasy YA and hope to find a home for it, along with writing some original witchy novellas to put up myself.

After all, no reason for me to sit around and eat bon bons, is there?

Although, the prospect sounds like a lot of fun! Coffee, chocolate, and my Nook loaded with all sorts of books.

What about you? Is that your way of relaxation?

And! Here’s a sneak peek at my January 2012 cover. What do you think? This is Lili’s book.

Linda







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-- Lynda Again,

Me? I like to relax with a good book and Linda's books are some of the best. Sourcebooks is giving two copies of Demons are a Girls Best Friend away to two lucky readers of this blog. All you have to do is send an email to me at LyndaK.Scott@gmail.com with Demons in the subject line and your name and address in the body of the email. You have until noon on Friday, April 29 to get the email to me. Then my alien Kitten, Wookie, will select two winners! 

 Good luck! 


Monday, April 18, 2011

Guest - Shona Husk

Good morning! Our guest will be discussing one of paranormal romance's hottest hero types - vampires. Today she'll give us a bit of the legend behind the myth. Enjoy!

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Hot Blooded Vampires

Vampires have come a long way from the terror invoking, undead creatures of the night. They no longer make us quiver out of fear because now they are usually the hero of the story not the villain. However one truth remains in the Vampire PR shift: Vampires rely on humans for nourishment.

Notice I didn’t say blood?

That’s because in many early myths it wasn’t blood that Vampire drank, it was their victim’s life force. They were a ghost hell bent on living even if it meant killing to do so. Sometimes they started with family members, other times the first victim was the closest to the grave.

Four hundred years ago the Vampire myth was a logical way for people to explain illnesses they didn’t understand. But as science and medicine progressed, the fear didn’t dissolve. Instead the myth shifted and Vampires got an undead body and became the corrupters of virgins, lusty nobles seeking blood and brides to fill their immoral and immortal days. They became powerful.

And power made them attractive.

Now we have wealthy, powerful, immortal men who like sex…sounds like a romance hero. Like all heroes Vampires have flaws, but what is interesting is while the Vampires changed, their weaknesses didn’t.

If a culture has a Vampire myth, then they also have ways of killing them, sunlight and decapitation are very popular methods, as was exhuming and burning the body or staking the body through the heart. But as Aidan, the Vampire hero of  Kissing Phoenix, says—“That will kill most things”.

When I started writing Vampires I knew I didn’t want to do the ‘dead’ type Vampire. I wanted them to be human, only different. My Vampires are genetic variations; they can tolerate sunlight (if they haven’t drunk too much blood) but they can’t turn people as Vampires are born not made. They don’t get sick, but if they are denied blood they age and can die. They aren’t immortal, but they come close.

No matter the type of Vampire (because every writer has their own spin) they remain popular as romance heroes. Is it the danger of falling for such a powerful creature? A game of trust with life at stake, no pun intended?

For me it is because they carry a great regret or wound and the story is their chance to heal. Or as in Mutiny on the Scarborough in the upcoming Dead Red Heart anthology of Australian Vampires, it is a chance to watch them fail at being human and succumbing to the darker side of Vampire nature and the need for blood.


Kissing Phoenix

When Lilith fell into lust with musician Aidan she never expected it to last. And she was right. Her doctor has given her months to live, and telling Aidan is the hardest thing she's ever done.

Aidan has been keeping his own secret. He is Vampire...but he can't turn Lilith and save her. The solution he proposes is illegal and dangerous and breaks every rule set up to protect non-humans from humans. He doesn't care. He will do anything to save the woman he loves.

Discovering the kiss of a Vampire and reveling in the erotic thrill, Lilith realizes her feelings are deeper than lust. But is giving up her humanity worth it?

Buy links:
http://www.jasminejade.com/m-721-shona-husk.aspx
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003O781E8
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Shona+Husk

Watch for Mutiny on the Scarborough in the upcoming Dead Red Heart anthology of Australian Vampires












Bio:
A civil designer by day and an author by night, Shona Husk lives in Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she writes about heroes who are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold—sometimes literally.

With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she is published with Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press and Sourcebooks.

You can find out more at http://www.shonahusk.com 
www.facebook.com/shonahusk
www.winkgirls.blogspot.com

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-- Lynda Again



I have a new excerpt of Heartstone posted on my blog at http://www.lyndakscott.com   Stop by, read it and if you enjoy it, enter my contest for a signed, trade size copy of Heartstone. Details on how to enter are posted with the blog.

Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Have a Heartstone Monday

Good morning everyone! Due to unforeseen circumstances, our guest wasn't able to appear today so I'm filling the void ;-)

On my personal blog, (found at www.lyndakscott.com) I'm running a contest and showing excerpts from my book, Heartstone. For this particular excerpt, Keriam, who's just opened her new store also found a stray dog, a large black stray dog with crystal gray eyes that her cousin insists Keriam take home until they find its owners. The excerpt starts there. Enjoy!

    While they hadn't had hordes of customers exactly, the turnout had been respectable. Keriam grinned at the big dog sitting in the passenger seat of her six-year-old Ford pickup. "Whaddaya think, Wolfgang? Is The Treasure Chest the neatest antique shop you've ever seen?"
The plumed tail thumped against the door.
    "That's right. It's been a great day." She flicked a glance at him. "Well, for me it has. You're still a lost puppy, aren't you? But don't worry. We'll find your family and, if not, I'll find you a good home."
    He licked her hand.
    "No, you can't stay with me. You need a family. With a big yard and kids to play with." She turned onto the long stretch of highway leading out of town. "Janna would take you in a heartbeat but she lives in an apartment. Besides she'd probably deck you out in a frou-frou collar and you don't look to be the frou-frou type...I know what you're thinking. I've got a big yard, true. But I'm not home a lot and I don't have kids. You'd get lonely."
    He lay on the seat and rested his head on her thigh. Keriam laughed and dropped her hand onto his silky head. "You're a charmer, all right. Don't even think this is permanent, Wolfgang," she warned. "I don't have time to take care of a dog, let alone one as big as a house."
    The dog's tail beat against the seat.
    "I'm serious."
    The dog grinned.
   Turning her attention back to the road, Keriam made a mental list of what she wanted to accomplish the next day. The first thing, of course, would be to contact the newspaper and place a Found Dog ad. Wolfgang sat up, pressed his nose to the window which Keriam had left open a crack. A low rumble vibrated in his chest.
   "Oh, don't be silly. There's nothing out there to worry about." She darted a glance at him. "You're probably the most dangerous thing for miles around...unless you count Mrs. Kitchen's Pomeranian...or one of Mr. Mountley's emus."
    The dog turned his unnerving crystal gaze on her.
    "Yeah, I know. You'd make a great watchdog. You don't have to convince me. But I am not going to get attached to you because we're going to find your family."
    The problem was she liked animals. Always had. When her folks had been alive, she'd had all kinds of pets. Dogs, cats, chickens, cows--they'd all been her best pals. Even the one obnoxious sow her dad had kept penned had been friendly to her if no one else.
    She pulled into the long gravel drive and parked beside the narrow sidewalk leading to the wide wrap-around porch. When Mom and Dad had been alive, the windows had always been bright. The kitchen had always smelled of hot, fresh bread. And, no matter how bad their day had been, they'd always greeted her as if the sun rose in her eyes.
    God, she missed them.
    Keriam slid out of the truck with Wolfgang right behind her. He stood, nose to the wind, then, satisfied, gave her a broad canine grin. She stroked his silky ears, the slight dome of his head. He responded by tilting his head into the palm of her hand. "What a flirt!"
    Wolfgang nuzzled her palm, then slurped it with a wet, doggy kiss. She made another mental promise not to get attached to the big, friendly animal. "Bet you're hungry. Let me get the kibble and we'll go inside."
    As she hauled the thirty-pound bag out of the truck bed, the dog gave an uneasy whine. "What? You want to go potty? Well, go ahead. Just so you know, we don't do that in the house."
    At the mention of potty, the dog looked downright embarrassed. Keriam laughed, shook her head. "Well, you've got better manners than the last guy I brought home. I'll give you that."
    He rumbled a noise that sounded like a highly affronted groan. Keriam carried the bag onto the porch. "Not that Marc was all that bad. He just didn't understand... Well, never mind that. Whoa! Slow down, Wolfgang. I've only got one hand, you know."
   The dog had stood on his hind legs, front feet pressed against the door. He slanted a sideways look at her, woofed softly, and then stared at the door intently. Keriam turned the knob and pushed the door open. Wolfgang leapt inside immediately and Keriam let go of the long lead attached to his collar. "Impatient, aren't you? Hey, where you going?"
    Wolfgang trotted through the kitchen then into the front room. Keriam put the kibble in the corner and flicked on the lights. "Just make yourself at home but remember what I said about deposits on the floor. And no marking the territory either."
    She set about making dinner. Spaghetti sounded good. The phone rang and she picked up the cordless handset. "Hello?... Hello...Last chance, hello."
   When no one answered, she clicked the phone off. "Change your mind before you dial, dummy."
    Wolfgang materialized beside her, his cold nose nuzzling her hand. "Don't worry, fella. It was just a wrong number."
    She pulled a rug out of the back closet and laid it beside the table. "That's your bed. You'll have to eat out of mixing bowls. That's all I have that's big enough to hold the amount of food the bag says you'll need."
    He lifted his nose toward the simmering sauce on the stove. Whined softly. Looked at her. She put her hands on her hips. "No way. Dogs don't eat spaghetti."
    This one did. He didn't eat the kibble though.
 When I wrote this, my inspiration was our dog, Zuzu, who is so unlike 'Wolfgang' you're going to ask...how can you use her for inspiration? Zuzu is just a big happy girl who smiles and grins and has a myriad of facial expressions that let me know precisely what she's thinking. Her tail was docked when she was a puppy but anyone who's ever been close to a dog knows that the tail is a vital part of the dog's body language and Zuzu's tail is no exception. So I used Zuzu's body language to create Wolfgang and his 'dogginess'.(You can see Zuzu and Wookie on my website at http:www.lyndakscott.com )

If you enjoyed this excerpt and would like a copy of Heartstone, enter the Heartstone Drawing.
1) Send an email to Lynda@LyndaKScott.com with Heartstone 
     in the Subject line
2) Put your name and address in the body of the email.

You may enter once a week until April 30. Then my alien kitten, Wookie, will select a winner for a signed copy of Heartstone. Good luck to all!

If you want to make sure you get your very own copy, you can order it from Mundania Press 

Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Guest - Karen McCullough

Good morning! Today's guest is Karen McCullough who'll be talking about what makes the 'mystery' in every plot. Enjoy!

Oh, there's a giveaway too. Read on to find out how to enter.
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There's Always a Mystery

I write in lots of genres, but if you look at my book list, you might conclude I'm primarily a mystery writer. And you'd be right, though one of my most recent releases is a paranormal Gothic romance novella. But in a larger sense all my books, even the Gothic HEART OF THE NIGHT, are mysteries.

In fact nearly all fiction is built around mystery. A good story has, at its heart, an interesting character or group of characters, with an interesting problem. What makes a problem intriguing and a story worth reading is that the solution to the problem isn't obvious. Which is why it’s usually true that the bigger the problem, the better the story. Even when a book doesn't have a crime to solve or a missing object or person to find, there should still be a mystery about how the characters' issues are going to be resolved.

In HEART OF THE NIGHT, my protagonist, Jess O'Rourke, is horrified to discover that a collection of books left to her library includes a diary that holds the key to laying a demon. The source of that information is an attractive but mysterious visitor who may not be entirely trustworthy. But when another mysterious patron begins to take her library apart and threaten the staff, she doesn't have a lot of good choices. She may not believe in the whole demon thing, but apparently someone else does, and they’re ruthless enough to sacrifice anything and everything to retrieve or destroy that one book.

HEART OF THE NIGHT features several layers of mystery. At the beginning Jess has no idea what's going on or why the “Reverend” is waging a hate campaign against her. Nor does she know what Gabe, the other mysterious man who comes into the library almost every night, wants. When she finds out who each man is and why they're both there, she still doesn't know where the book is exactly or how they'll be able to use it. And when she does find the diary, there are still more questions and issues to resolve before she can triumph.

So, I didn't write HEART OF THE NIGHT as a mystery. It's a Gothic thriller with romantic elements.  But neither the thrill nor the romance would work without the mystery.

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Heart of the Night:

Coping with her father’s declining health isn’t the only challenge Jess O’Rourke faces as head of a small-town library. An old collection of books moldering in the basement may hold the secret to returning a demon to his own world. But that demon likes being where he is, and he’s recently learned the book’s location. He plans to retrieve it or destroy it, by whatever means necessary.

An enigmatic but attractive man who’s begun hanging around the library warns Jess about the book and the demon coming to get it. The only solution is for her to find the book first and use its directions to get rid of the demon. She’s dubious about the whole thing, but begins to search for the book. As the demon’s efforts to retrieve it escalate, Jess comes to realize that laying the demon may cost her more than just time and effort. It could claim everything she holds dear, even her own life.

Excerpt:

About six-thirty, as Jess walked by the main desk, Carrie looked up from the computer and said, “Your boyfriend just came in.” 

Jess turned to where the man sat in the corner. As usual, he held a book open in front of him, but he wasn’t reading. Instead he stared at her with a brooding look that suggested both sadness and danger. He had dark hair streaked with silver, though he couldn’t be more than thirty. His gray eyes seemed permanently lost in shadows. Not quite handsome. The face was too angular, drawn too tight for that, but compelling, nonetheless. His demeanor was tense, wary, constantly on alert. 

A man haunted by unfinished business.  She wanted to laugh at herself. Where had that come from? She knew absolutely nothing about him except that he’d started showing up regularly each evening a few weeks ago. He always sat quietly in the same corner, watching her more than made her comfortable. And every night he left on his own just before closing time.

A longer excerpt and more information on order are available on my website at http://www.kmccullough.com

Karen McCullough is the author of ten published novels in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. Her most recent releases are A GIFT FOR MURDER, published in hardcover by Five Star/Gale Group Mysteries, HEART OF THE NIGHT, from Red Rose Publishing and available as an ebook from most sources, 
and the re-released ebook of A QUESTION OF FIRE. She invites visitors to check out her home on the web at http://www.kmccullough.com and her site for the Market Center Mysteries series, http://www.marketcentermysteries.com


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-- Lynda Again

I hope you've enjoyed today's guest. Her post is intriguing, isn't it? Leave a comment with your thoughts...AND if you'd like to be included in the giveaway Karen is offering a a trade paperback copy of the anthology BENEATH A CHRISTMAS MOON, which includes her novella, "A Vampire's Christmas Carol.":

1) Leave a comment here then
2) Send an email to Karen here  karengmccullough@yahoo.com
    In the Subject line, put: Star-Crossed Romance Giveaway
    In the body, put your name and address 

Good luck! 

 

Friday, April 01, 2011

Review - Merely Magic

Merely Magic
By Patricia Rice
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
ISBN: 9781402251931
February 2011

Healer Ninian Malcolm Siddons is resigned to living alone. The local villager men are wary and so far, none have approached her with more than a respectful tip of the cap. That is until Beltane when Lord Drogo Ives rescues her from a drunken reveler. .

Ninian’s grandmother had always warned her to stay away from the Ives which until now hadn’t been a problem since no Ives were anywhere to be found. But now, Drogo Ives and three women had returned to Wystan Castle, an ancient keep that had originally belonged to the Malcolms. Not that Ninian really cared one way or the other. She was content with her magical, if lonely, life.

Drogo Ives is a man of science. He could wile away hours with his telescope or papers and books. Alas, his family, who he loves dearly, and his title of Earl, keeps him almost fully occupied. His brothers have inherited the Ives ability to procreate like rabbits so Drogo has to take care of their offspring. And his widowed sister, Sarah, with her friends, an unwed mother and an unhappy companion, had had to accompany him to this rural location. It seemed to much to ask for a moment for his own interests, one of which was the intriguing young woman he’d met on Beltane. In his mind’s eye, he could still see her laughing eyes and hear the mischief in her voice when she called herself a witch.

A lesser man might believe her but not Drogo. To him, she was no more a witch than any other female even if he styled her a ‘moon maiden’. Although he conceded she might be a touch daft, when his sister asked for a midwife for her friend, Ninian was the first one to come to mind. In no time, the lovely healer is set up in a room in the castle and introduced to his family.

Ninian knows that moving into the castle could ruin her reputation. Though raised rurally, she was born to the peerage class where a woman’s reputation was most important. She, however, doesn’t believe she’ll ever need to worry about her reputation. She has no expectations of a good marriage and no prospect to base such a hope on. Except, perhaps, for Lord Ives with his studious mind and quick understanding…and devastating good looks. As they work together to solve a series of disasters affecting the valley, disasters that commenced with his return to Wystan Castle, their relationship grows until Ninian discovers the magic of love.

But she will not stay with a man who doesn’t believe in her magic and Drogo certainly does not. Can she convince him of her powers? Or is she destined to live out her life alone?

This was a fascinating read even though the paranormal was light. I enjoyed learning about Ninian and Drogo and the history of their two families. The plot wasn’t simply the standard boy meets girl. It had enough twists and turns to really hold the readers attention. The love affair between Ninian and Drogo ranges from sweet to raging hot to bittersweet and all stages in between in a remarkable display of characterization.

All in all, Merely Magic is a terrific and enjoyable read.

Rejection...the Dreaded R Word


As a writer I thought my skin had gotten harder...at least to rejections. Especially those of the generic kind. I mean I literally have a file full of these from all different publishing houses, not to mention authorial agents.


Sure I still got glum to see that barely really signed letter each time I ripped open an envelope expecing good news. I held my own pity party for the night, then squared my shoulders the next morning. The only time I got news that hit me harder was when the publisher that offered me my first publishing contract sent me an e-mail that said they'd gone bankrupt. That was a month before my book had been scheduled for release. I remember where I was. Sitting at my desk at my full-time job and I ran to the bathroom crying. It wasn't rejection per se, but none the less it hurt like something I loved had died.



Believe me I've done my share of eloquent writing, used everything I could think of to sell myself and my work to get that "Yes!". In some ways being a writer was perfect training for my current sponsor search for a local event in my hometown. But I'm starting to get tired of opening my inbox to see messages that contain those form rejections.


I think the sadness stems from the same thing. Because my passion for my work, for my characters is so great it cuts deeper because it means that it didn't strike a chord. Of course asking for money in a down economy is bad enough. If you haven't got money, or you're playing things close to your chest, then how can you invest in someone else's vision?


If you're a regular Star-CrossedRomance blog reader, you know in my spare time I also run and participate in charity events. At present I'm putting together a walk-a-thon for my Relay for Life team. It will not only celebrate cancer survivors the day before National Suvivors Day, but also provide an active outlet to get people in the community moving. I read a 90+ page report on obesity in my county, and afterwards I can't tell you how disheartened and depressed I felt.


At that moment all I wanted to do was make a difference. That's why I decided to do a walk, and get my local gym involved. But doing an event of any size in the community means the need for additional funds. Hence my new round of heartfelt pleas to be invested in. I can't sell them a prior event since this will be my first; so I have to give them a sense of me...a sense that I will work hard, I will make this event the best it can be, and help the community too boot!


As I told one perspective sponsor my passion is great, but my purse is small. Which I think can be said for most writers :0)


With each rejection, I still get glum for a moment, then I regroup faster each time. I do have the passion to see this through. When I don't I reflect on what I've read, think of whose lives will be touched, and I have the courage to press on. Regardless of what this might sound like, I'm not an extrovert. I'm also not a social talker, but I tell myself if you want this vision to happen you have to do the hard work!


That spirit is what makes writers rise like phoenix over and over again...and what gets them published.


What's your rejection story? Do you have a funny rejection letter? One that really hurt? Share with us to exorcise those demons!