Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hot Top Tuesday: Leagues, Legends and Leopards

I love Tuesdays. New release day often brings new treasures to read, delve into and discover.  My buds Jaimie and Ruthie share my eclectic tastes for a wide variety of authors, genres and tales.  Their hot picks this week run the gamut from Sherrilyn Kenyon to Meg Cabot and more.  With a lot of edits still on my plate, I haven't had a lot of time for reading this week, but I'm still working on Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank.  Don't forget to tell us what you're reading this week.

Born of Shadows by Sherrilyn Kenyon


Sherrilyn Kenyon has a talent for developing worlds that the readers want to dive into and never come up for air. I am a huge fan of her paranormal romance series, The Dark-Hunters. I hope those who have enjoyed this series have not just stopped there. She has another wonderful science fiction series called The League. Today the fifth book is released and an exhilarating story is continued.

Blurb from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s website:
Born of Shadows (The League)
Born of Shadows


The universe where the League is law, most live in fear. We fight back. Welcome to a world where corrupt assassination politics dominate everyone. It's kill or be killed.

For Caillen Dagan, a defiant soldier of fortune, survival isn't a right, it's a brutal daily battle. Moving through the Ichidian universe like a wraith, his brushes with the law and death are legendary. But when an act of rare heroism reveals his hidden birthright, he's forced into a world much more dangerous and cold-hearted than the bloody streets where he was raised- one of obscene wealth and lethal politics.

Ferocious and determined, Desideria Denaraii serves as an official bodyguard for her queen. Born of questionable genetics, she will do anything to prove herself worthy of the weapons she carries and the position she's won by combat. But when she uncovers a ruthless plot to assassinate the queen and overthrow her country's government, Desideria is caught in the crosshairs.

With assassination contracts out on both of them, Caillen and Desideria must learn to fight together or die alone. And if they fail, their governments will fall into the hands of an unimaginable evil.

Abandon by Meg Cabot

The queen of princess chick-lit has broken her mold again. Meg Cabot is branching out into Paranormal YA wit the first book of a trilogy, Abandon. I read her previous PNR work, Insatiable, and loved every page. When I saw Cabot was writing a trilogy based on Greek Mythology my brain turned to geeky goo. I honestly can not wait to get my hands on a copy of Abandon to see where Cabot takes the timeless tale intermingled with some teenage angst.

Abandon
Abandon

Blurb from Goodreads:

Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.


Savage Nature by Christine Feehan

Savage Nature is the latest whodunit in the Wild Leopard bayou romance by Feehan. I personally love her Carpathian novels. She is a quick and steamy read. Feehan always brings her best to the pages and I have no doubt that this book will be an exception. I cannot wait to be fascinated and delighted by Feehan again!

Savage Nature (Leopard)
Savage Nature
Blurb from Christine Feehan:

Danger lurks in the shadows and desire shimmers in the sultry heat in an all-new novel of the leopard people from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan...

When Saria Boudreaux finds a dead body in the Louisiana bayou near her home, her first instinct is to go to the police. But there’s a problem--it looks like the victim may have been killed by a big cat, and her brothers are all shape-shifting leopards.
Sent to investigate by the land’s owner, leopard shifter Drake Donovan is ready for anything—except the insatiable hunger that rocks him when he meets Saria. Deep in his soul he knows that she is destined to be his mate. Torn between protecting her brothers and finding the truth, Saria treads warily around the powerful shifter. Yet as they venture deep into the mysterious bayou on a hunt for the killer, Saria finds herself longing for Drake’s touch and the sweet release of surrender…

Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey (paperback release)

The alternate world of Elua’s companions created by Carey is fascinating and exciting to me. The Kushiel’s Legacy series is fantastic and by far one of the most astounding and unique worlds in the fantasy genre I have read to date. While Kushiel represents the darker side of pain and suffering, Namaah is the representation of pure desire and physical love. I highly recommend this series if you want to read in the fantasy genre. Excellent plot, well thought out world, and super hot heroines.
Naamah's Curse
Naamah's Curse

Blurb from Goodreads:

Far from the land of her birth, Moirin sets out across Tatar territory to find Bao, the proud and virile Ch'in fighter who holds the missing half of her diadh-anam, the divine soul-spark of her mother's people. After a long ordeal, she not only succeeds, but surrenders to a passion the likes of which she's never known. But the lovers' happiness is short lived, for Bao is entangled in a complication that soon leads to their betrayal.

What are you reading this week?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Relationship Fans Are Brutal

As a romance author, you might say couples are my thing. I don’t mean that I sit around plotting about how to get a couple together (well, actually I do). I don’t mean that I sit and analyze what issues a couple has (well, actually I do that too). What I do mean is that I love to watch the journey of the couple as they go through their ups and downs, their communication issues, their misunderstandings, their passionate clinches and those profound moments when they click. I’m a fan of the whole enchilada in a relationship.

The good.

The bad.

The almosts or near misses.

I’m a relationship fan.

But relationship fans are brutal.

The Parity of Coupling 


In novels, particularly romance novels, we know that the hero and heroine will have their struggles, but they will overcome. They will have their moment in the sun. They will live happily ever after.

But in an ongoing series whether it’s novels, television or films, you don’t have that guarantee. Case in points:

  • Tohr and Wellsie, Black Dagger Brotherhood
  • Booth and Brennan, Bones
  • Damon/Elena/Stefan, The Vampire Diaries
  • Castle and Beckett, Castle

But that’s okay, you see in all but one of these cases, there’s hope for the characters. Maybe. See, I belong to the camp that says the ship sailed for Booth and Brennan last season when Sweets strong-armed that emotional confession out of Booth and sent him on a collision course with Brennan’s fear. Sweets is the single worst thing to happen to the Booth/Brennan relationship, not Hannah.

  • Do they love each other? Absolutely.
  • Are they in love with each other? Nope.

As a writer, you know there are moments in the story, moments that you force or moments that happen organically, but you have choices. You take advantage of the moment, or you let it go. If you let it go, you run the risk of that moment never occurring again. This happens in life, so that’s okay that it happens in fiction.

Look at Clark and Chloe on Smallville. These two had great chemistry and a real shot, way back in the first season, but the moment passed. And while it took Chloe a long time to admit it to herself, she did and she let go of that “romantic” leaning towards Clark and just focused on being his friend. They are amazing friends. A lot like Booth and Brennan.

But they had to see their moment had passed.

A lot of fans of that pairing have ended up hating the show because they missed that opportunity. There is a lot of teasing on the writers parts that we will see them actually make it work. But honestly, I don’t care. Because it “feels” forced now – why? Because they missed that opportunity. Sure, it might come around again, but not if the series is shoe-horned to appease the very brutal (and honestly) disappointed relationship fans.


Playing the Long Game

On television, particularly, couples have to be played out in the long game. For some reason, television producers don’t think audiences will stick around if the romantic tension doesn’t exist or the will they or won’t they isn’t always hanging in the balance. (For those television producers out there struggling with this, please go read J.D. Robb’s In Death series. 33 books and the main couple is together, in love and working out relationship issues in and around the story).

Castle and Beckett on Castle are the definition of the long-game. These are two very dynamic individuals, very different and very smart. Despite Rick’s constant flirting, he isn’t a “serious” relationship kind of guy. Why? Look at his romantic history, short term flings and heartbreak are there. The writers have taken their time to show us that.

Now look at Beckett. She’s a one and done, by the book kind of woman. She obviously adored Castle’s book series and likely the author himself until she got to know him. He’s interfered, pushed into her career and later into her life. She’s had a big adjustment curve, particularly where her mom’s case was concerned.

You say the fascination play out in the first season. The journey towards mutual respect and friendship in the second, with a hint of potential romance that flopped when Beckett and Castle were on different pages.

The third season has provided revelations for the characters. Castle isn’t just there for the research and Beckett really is trusting him like her partner. Castle’s awareness of his feelings toward Beckett have him behaving particularly where her relationship with Josh is concerned. He won’t intervene or make the choice for her, but he is watching, aware and wants her to be happy.

It’s a beautiful maturation of the relationship game between these characters and I am more than happy to be along for the ride.

Do they have to get together? If it happens organically, I am totally on board. If they remain true partners and friends, I’m cool with that.

But I’ve heard rumblings from more than a few fans that they want Castle and Beckett together or else …


The Relationship Journey

Relationship fans are brutal. They want what they want because they fall in love with the characters. I freely admit that I am a Damon and Elena shipper where The Vampire Diaries is concerned, but then, their journey has been fraught from the beginning, fraught with tension, with passion, with hate, with fear and with pain. They are no where near ready to just be passionate lovers, but they are on their way.

As for Tohr and Wellsie, that's a very long game.  Wellsie and Tohr were together when we met them, together, happy and balanced.  Then we lost Wellsie and Tohr went more than a little crazy.  Now Tohr is on his long journey back to sanity and I for one am definitely there for the ride.

For me it’s all about the journey. I need the little moments. The small payoffs. If I get those, if I see the growth, then I’m good and I can wait, watch and enjoy.

What about you? Are you brutal when it comes to the relationships you love on television or in books?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hot Top Tuesday: Vanity, Vampires and Vixens

It's hop top Tuesday here at the Daily Dose. We've been a bit quiet, reading, writing and working. You know how it goes. Currently loaded up on my iPad for reading is Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank. So far it's a great read with lots of hooks. I have tons more on the shelf waiting to be read, but it's high editing time here so I'm just going to keep stocking up for future gym trips and those rare lazy days that I get a few hours to read. Check out some more great reading opportunities from my Jaime and Ruthie. They give great book recommendations. Don't forget to tell us what your top picks are for this week.

Violet Tendencies by Jaye Wells

Violet Tendencies
We are starting off this week with a spectacular treat! Jaye Wells has entertained us with her dark but often humorous Urban Fantasy series that follows Sabina Kane. I was intrigued by the this story from the first line. Now Ms. Wells is giving all the Sabina fans a present but releasing a novella that takes place between The Mage in Black and Green-Eyed Demon. For those who have read all the books in the series, a popular character seemed to be missing in the latest release. Violet Tendencies explains to all of us why Valva, the Vanity demon disappeared from the story. If the novella is like the rest of the series, readers are guaranteed an action filled story with the humor oozing from the seams.

Description from Amazon.com:

Former assassin Sabina Kane heads to Los Angeles to find her kidnapped sister. Helping her on the mission are her hot mage partner, her Mischief demon minion, and a Vanity demon named Valva. The problem? She's got to figure out how to find her sister without letting her enemies know she's back in town. But when Sabina seeks out an old ally -- a vampire strip club owner named Fang -- for help, Sabina learns the hard way that Vanity demons don't know the meaning of the phrase "low profile."

Twilight Prophecy by Maggie Shayne

Twilight Prophecy (Children of Twilight)
Twilight Prophecy
This release is the start of a new series known as the Children of Twilight. I know that the use of the word Twilight brings to mind glittery vampires and teenage angst but I can guarantee there will be no vegetarian vampires lurking in the woods. If you are a fan of Maggie’s Wings in the Night Series, Twilight Prophecy will fit right into your reading habits. Even though it seems she is starting a new series with this books, the storyline fits in perfectly to be considered Wings in the Night #17. I have read many reviews from bloggers who received an ARC of this books and they all say the same thing. This book is wonderful. The Romanceaholic even states that she wished her Kindle was waterproof so she could continue reading while in the shower. To read the full review, click here

Blurb from MaggieShayne.com

According to ancient prophecy, there's only one chance to avert the complete annihilation of the Undead. Twins James William and Brigit Pie, part human, part vampire, believe that they are that chance. In truth, the key lies with the reclusive--and mortal--scholar Lucy Lanfair.

As Armageddon approaches, antivampire sentiment fuels a war neither side can win, driving James to abandon his moral code and draw Lucy into a deadly battle she wants no part of.

But Lucy soon realizes that she holds this powerful immortal's soul in her hands and that it's her destiny not only to stop a war but to save him from his inner darkness. If she fails, his race will die--and so will her heart. Is the power of love strong enough to save the world?

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
I have heard so many good things about this book. Carter takes the myth of Hades and Persephone, and spins it with her own originality. Carter’s heroine Kate is losing her mother to a terminal illness bringing her world crashing down around her. She is given a way to save her mother, but she has to pass several tests first. The realist approach coupled with the faith that the impossible is possible sets the tone for this exciting story. I cannot wait to give it a try.
The Goddess Test (Harlequin Teen)
The Goddess Test

Blurb from Goodreads.com:

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

Mercy Burns by Keri Arthur


I am a long time fan of Keri Arthur. I think her writing is sexy, provocative, and stimulating. Her Riley Jensen series is fantastic! Her heroines are anything but weak. I have not read her Myth and Magic series, but I always welcome the chance to delve into new series written by my favorite authors. I have seen nothing but good reviews for this series. Let’s be honest who doesn’t love dragon shifters...Keri, you had me at Dragon.

Mercy Burns (Myth and Magic, Book 2)
Mercy Burns
Blurb from Random House:

DARKNESS DESCENDS.
LOVE ABIDES. BUT . . .

MERCY BURNS

Mercy Reynolds is a reporter in the San Francisco Bay area, but she’s also more—and less—than human. Half woman, half air dragon, she’s a “draman”—unable to shift shape but still able to unleash fiery energy. Now something will put her powers to the test.

Mercy’s friend Rainey has enlisted her help to solve her sister’s murder. Then a horrible accident claims Rainey’s life, leaving Mercy only five days to find the killer: If Mercy fails, according to dragon law, Rainey’s soul will be doomed to roam the earth for eternity. But how can Mercy help when she herself is a target? With nowhere else to turn, she must join forces with a sexy stranger—the mysterious man they call “Muerte,” or death itself, who’s as irresistible as he is treacherous. But can even Death keep Mercy alive for long enough to find her answers?

What are your top picks for today?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Perseverance

I’m not a person who likes to pay to cry. I am purely a kick-butt and laugh movie watcher. However, I am a huge sucker for a story of surviving against the odds. Victims have always inspired me with their pure instinct of survival.

This weekend I took my daughter to see Soul Surfer. The story of Bethany Hamilton, a sixteen year old amateur surfer who fought back with faith after a near fatal shark attack that left her with only one arm.

Bethany’s story goes beyond survival—she conquered. Fears, doubts, and physical adversity were left behind to be sucked out into oblivion in a rip tide. She got back on her board as soon as she could and was competing twenty-six days after losing her arm to a Great White. She’s won National Surfing Titles, has made Mission trips with her church to help aid others after natural disasters, and has inspired millions with her courage.
Soul Surfer - Movie Tie-In: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board
Soul Surfer

That is the type of message I like to see in the media outlets. The spirit and perseverance of the human race. I have no use for pure slasher entertainment—that’s older than vampires for me. I want to be inspired to get off my butt and reach for my dreams. To dust off my brain and write something that brings joy to a reader. To show my kids through example, they can achieve anything their heart desires with faith, strength and courage.

Who’s inspired you lately? Share your everyday hero’s story. I’d love to hear it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Plotting in the Shared World

Seven Souls A Leaping

In January, Sapphire Blue Publishing released the first shared world anthology that I participated in. Seven Souls a Leaping focused on the story of siblings Duncan and Sam and their cousin Tara. The idea for a shared world anthology began batting around between Lisa Pietsch, K.F. Zuzulo and I. We knew a handful of items when we got started:

  • We knew our main protagonists were related
  • We knew they were all psychically gifted (or cursed)
  • We knew they were based out of Boston
  • We knew they’d share a villain, one growing progressively more evil
  • We knew they’d meet a soul mate and fall in love

That’s a lot to know when you get started, but in a shared world anthology, it’s the minutiae that you need to know so that each of you can twist your tale and meld with the others.

Funny issues we had in blending our worlds were the names. While we had similar description threads for our villain (unintentionally), we all spelled the last name a little differently. But our editor caught that. When it came to writing the shared world anthology, we all wrote at our own pace, knowing where each story had to “leave” off so the next could begin, but we didn’t always know the “how” of that leave off.

Coordinating Seven Souls a Leaping was half the fun of writing it, but the real pleasure came when I saw the finished product and how each story dovetailed neatly into the next.



On the Plot Again

Not long after we finished Seven Souls a Leaping, we started chatting about another anthology in a shared world. We had lots of ideas on the table – including another NENA adventure. (NENA, by the way, is New England New Age Investigations the agency owned by our protagonists in the first anthology). We had a reunion story idea and we had one that was set in a Las Vegas Casino.

Spells, Slots and Sirens: Stories of the Arcana Royale was born. Plotting this shared world was simpler because the only commonality we needed to rely on was the setting: the casino/hotel itself and the multiple lounges within that casino.

This shared world has a different set of complications from our first, but it also has a sense of extended freedom that we didn’t experience in Seven Souls a Leaping, primarily that we could do whatever we wanted, because after all, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Spells, Slots and Sirens: Stories of the Arcana Royale is due to be released in late June. My contribution is entitled Soulgirls and the story came nearly fully formed the more we talked about our casino.

Want a sneak peek?

I thought you might.

Malcolm ignored her as she strutted away, refusing to be enticed or distracted by the roll of her hips in the snug bottoms that left little to the imagination. Instead, he studied his surroundings. This was not his first trip to the Royale. He’d come to the opening night with Marcus’ father. They’d gotten drunk on bloody vodkas and aperitifs.

The Midnight Mystery Lounge was not familiar, but the tiered audience, secluded tables and staged set up promised a show. Another distraction. The Overseers knew the purpose of his request. He was seeking to settle Marcus’ debt and have him released from whatever servitude they were planning for his cousin. He’d promised his Aunt Ruth. His Uncle remained silent on the matter, but Uncle Matthias was not one to beg.

He was tired of the rescue gambit. If Marcus had dug his grave, then he should have to lie in it.

Malcolm typically agreed with such sentiments, particularly where the younger and more arrogant of their kin were concerned, but Ruth was his favorite aunt. He couldn’t say no to her. Malcolm Reynolds had served his family in every capacity for five centuries from politician to diplomat to spy to courier. Since their relocation to New Amsterdam in the early 1700s, he’d undertaken the study and the framing of law.

The prospects that his cousin’s servitude was unimpeachable only whet Malcolm’s desire for the challenge. Every table boasted two to three warm and cold bodies alike. Vampires, werewolves, witches, sorcerers and even a few demons were scattered amongst the warm-blooded humans. Some were here for food, some for the spectacle and some wouldn’t be going home.

That was a worry for the City’s Prince, so Malcolm dismissed it. He leaned back, turning the glass idly in one hand and waited for the show to begin. The overhead lights dimmed as though on cue. An expectant hush blanketed the darkness, relieved only by the flickering of carefully placed candles.

A lone spotlight pooled in the center of the stage, wisps of fog, smoke and vapor wafting through the long column of light. The music was subtle, a tease to the more sensitive ears of the crowd. A rhythmic pulse.

Heartbeats.

Malcolm leaned forward, excitement stealing across his gut. The feeling, so unfamiliar, left a path of unease in its wake. But heartbeats grew louder.

The raw double-bump and whoosh of blood thrumming through veins aroused his predatory instincts. Nothing on the stage moved.

Yet.

The pregnant pause held him in its sway. A ferric scent sprinkled with a hint of jasmine caressed his lips. His fangs dropped a fraction, a young man’s reaction. The outside world faded from existence as a shimmering mirage glided into the light.

Slender, blonde and beautiful like a goddess of sand and snow, she wore a costume dripping with sapphires, glittering gems that caressed golden skin and glowed against the platinum blonde of her hair. From each wrist-dripped fox tails and her head wore a crown of diamonds, sapphires and feathers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Arcana Royale and the Midnight Mystery Lounge present Pandora!”

From beneath lashes fringed in diamond dust, sapphire eyes locked with his. Sound and light exploded as the goddess of snow and sand began to dance. He drank in every motion. Her legs kicked. Her pelvis thrust. Her arms reached up towards the sky.

He was mesmerized.

Malcolm set the drink down with a thump.

His fangs extended. His will eroded.

Every twist she took, every turn, brought her gaze back to him.

His blood sang with the hunt.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vampire Diaries is Back Tomorrow

"I really like this whole menage a team thing. It's got a bit of a kink to it."