Friday, May 22, 2015

Interview & Giveaway: The Celtic Wolves Series by Jan DeLima


UFI welcomes Author Jan DeLima. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview? 

I’ve had several interesting jobs during high school, and on my summer breaks from college, but one of my favorites was working as a retouch artist for a photography studio.  (I can do dangerous things with Photoshop.) After college, I worked in one of the most beautiful libraries in the country for over fifteen years before retiring to write full time. (If you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit biased toward my library.) I was just asked to fill in this month for a few vacations and I couldn’t resist. The library is in the midst of a massive reconstruction, but it still feels like home.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

There really must be something to the left-brain right-brain theory, because math annoys me, but I’m drawn to anything crafty and artistic. Besides writing, I’m also a painter and gardener. For more pictures than you ever wanted to see of my garden, you can visit my Photo Gallery.

What is your Favorite part of writing? 

I love writing about the emotional connections between characters, and when they finally get together despite the odds working against them. I’ve been told this is strange, but I also enjoy the editing process, when I get to read the whole story from beginning to end, and strengthen the scenes.
  
Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write? 

Give me a quiet room and a pot of coffee and I’m good to go.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres? 

Did I mention I worked in a library? I can spend hours talking about books. ☺ I love them all! In the paranormal genre, a few favorites that come to mind are the Black Dagger Brotherhood by Ward, Psy-Changling by Singh, Dark Hunter by Kenyon, and Mercy Thompson by Briggs.  Also, Sarah Addison Allen novels are wonderful, a mixture of romance, magical realism, and contemporary fiction. I recommend you start with Garden Spells.

How would you pitch the Celtic Wolves Series to someone who has not heard of it before? 

Imagine a place where warriors are also wolves and reality isn’t always what it seems. Set in modern day, the stories are a mixture of both urban fantasy and romance. Written for adults, each installment has strong fantasy elements built around Celtic folklore, with a secondary romance between two new characters.

I like to pair strong female leads with equally strong alpha males. It creates a wonderful dynamic because it forces each protagonist to make concessions in order for their relationship to work.

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that the Celtic Wolves Series is set in? 

My characters are influenced by the instincts of their inner animals, so I’ve scattered tribes across the globe in isolated areas conducive to the habitats of wolves. This felt like a believable progression to me. I prefer to write about places I know; therefore Celtic Moon is set in my home state of Maine. The town is fictitious, but the setting is very real and just as majestic. We have a beautiful mountain region here in Maine, with isolated towns where an ancient race of immortal shifters could easily hide for centuries.

The following two photographs are of Katahdin, the setting of the series. The first photo is taken from the base of the mountain, and the second is taken from the top, looking down.  Guess which one I took, and which one was taken by my son? For perspective, look in the bottom right corner and you’ll see a hiker.  



Do you have a favorite scene in Autumn Moon

I’ve changed the excerpt of Autumn Moon on my website three times now because I have too many favorites. Writing an inexperienced alpha male was a fun challenge. The scene where Elen learns that Cormack has never been kissed is posted at http://jandelima.com/autumn-moon/

Which one character out of all your books was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about? 

I adore Luc, the hero of Summer Moon. I wrote more loves scenes than I had originally intended because of him. Of all my heroes, Cormack’s journey is my favorite.  Having been trapped in wolf form for centuries, his human half is freed in Celtic Moon.  He learns to be human in Summer Moon, and in Autumn Moon he finally gets his chance to be with the woman he loves. The emotional connection between Cormack and Elen was magical to write.

The death scenes are always the hardest for me, but they are necessary to support the danger the characters are facing.  There needs to be consequences, or the danger isn’t real.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you? 

As a secondary project, I’m considering writing a romantic suspense that has been calling to me for some time now. The heroine is very real and the hero may be my sexiest yet.
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Jan DeLima is the author of the Celtic Wolves novels, including Summer Moon and Celtic Moon. She lives in Maine with her husband and their two sons. Unlike many authors, Jan didn’t pen stories at an early age, but she has always been a dedicated reader. She loves stories and storytelling. It wasn’t until after her children entered school that she began writing. Raised in a military family, she lived in different countries such as Thailand and Germany, but home base has always been Maine.

Find Jan and her books
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Celtic Moon 
Celtic Wolves #1
Amazon  BN
Like father, like son…

Sophie Thibodeau has been on the run from the father of her son for more than fifteen years. Now her son, Joshua, is changing, and her greatest fears are about to be realized. He’s going to end up being just like his father—a man who can change into a wolf.

Dylan Black has been hunting for Sophie since the night she ran from him—an obsession he cannot afford in the midst of an impending war. Dylan controls Rhuddin Village, an isolated town in Maine where he lives with an ancient Celtic tribe. One of the few of his clan who can still shift into a wolf, he must protect his people from the Guardians, vicious warriors who seek to destroy them.

When Sophie and Dylan come together for the sake of their son, their reunion reignites the fierce passion they once shared. For the first time in years, Dylan’s lost family is within his grasp. But will he lose them all over again? Are Joshua and Sophie strong enough to fight alongside Dylan in battle? Nothing less than the fate of his tribe depends on it…
Excerpt

“I’m going for a run,” Dylan said dryly, taking off toward the woods.  His people had wronged Sophie.  He was convinced of that now.  And still she had come home to him, of her own free will—for their son.   

His wolf clawed at his spine for release.  Its fury, its need—its desire for the woman who’d had the courage to return for their child was no longer controllable.

The wolf wanted out.

Having her near and within reach was akin to pain.  

Perhaps it was a good thing Sophie hadn’t invited him to stay, Dylan thought as he entered the forest, ripping off clothes as he walked.  For if she had, he wasn’t sure if he could have controlled his hunger.

It had been too long.


 Summer Moon
Celtic Wolves #2
Amazon  BN
 She won’t be ruled again……

Rosa Alban has been obedient her entire life. But when her alpha husband dies, she seizes the opportunity to flee the oppressive Guardians—the rulers of the secret shapeshifter world. Her flight instantly brands her as a pack traitor, and she has no choice but to seek protection from a neighboring tribe by marrying one of their sons.

Known as the Beast of Merin, Luc Black loyally plays the part of unwanted son and devoted brother. He realizes marrying Rosa will strengthen his tribe’s territory, but he has no intention of loving ever again. Still, he’s unprepared for the intense physical need the wild she-wolf awakens in him.

When the Guardians hone in on Rosa, Luc must fight to protect his new bride. And as war descends, the unlikely allies discover their destinies are irrevocably entwined……
 Excerpt:

Luc wrapped the knitted blanket around Rosa and draped it like a shawl. Fisting his hands around the corners, he pulled her forward, like a fish caught in a weir. Before she could guess his intent, she found herself on his lap, cocooned in heat and hot male skin, with her legs dangled over his knees.

“Now, is this so bad?” he taunted while tucking her head under his chin.

“I suppose not.” Pondering where to place her hands, she ended up curling them in her lap, while her shoulder rested in the crook between his arm and chest.

In truth, it was hypnotic setting on him like this—dangerously so, like the hush before a storm. The rise and fall of his torso as he breathed lulled like a male siren, along with the weight of his arms and the lure of his skin against her cheek. The most exquisite scent of forest and man wove around her senses. More tempting, underneath it all lay the hint of musk, of potent wolf waiting in the shadows to protect her if the human failed.

All her tension ebbed like a babe in caring arms. Away from Guardians and wrapped in strength; she’d not felt this safe since childhood. How sad that she’d found peace with a virtual stranger. And how easily she could become addicted.

Oh, yes . . . this was dangerous. “How long do we have to stay like this?”

“Shhhh . . .” His throat moved as he swallowed while his hands trailed up her thighs and under her sweater, but only to knead the muscles of her lower back.

As if she weren’t becoming a puddle of goo already.

Before long, her eyes grew heavy, drifted closed. Had he been waiting for this moment of surrender, she wondered drowsily, when her guard had dissolved enough to welcome his gentle game? And did she care? For this was far more pleasant than any others she’d been forced to play.

He shifted to the side and moved his shoulder, leaned a bit, and her head rolled back, only to be caught by the soft pressure of his mouth on hers. So tender she didn’t even open her eyes. Were a man’s lips supposed to be this soft? Like with other carnal acts, she had little experience with kissing, sadly enough.

Having known only violence or indifference, her perceptions reeled. Indeed, if this was passion, then she didn’t know how to respond. But she was curious enough to try. She would admit that to herself, and even to him if he asked . . . She was so hungry to know what others whispered about in giggly tones. How many stories had she heard, from Tesni and others, of their forbidden trysts and naughty secrets, only to feel like a bystander to their private joy?

“Open your mouth, Rosa.” The order came on a husky whisper against her lips.

Summer Moon’s first chapter:
http://jandelima.com/SummerMoon_Chapter1.html

Autumn Moon
Celtic Wolves #3
Amazon   BN
The heart of a warrior, the soul of a wolf, and the desires of a man…

For centuries, Cormack has lived between worlds—a man trapped in the body of a wolf, shunned by humans and shifters alike. Only one person has ever welcomed his company: Elen, a kindred outcast who is feared by others of her ancient Celtic race for her strange healing abilities.

Cormack has always valued Elen’s kindness and understanding, but after a desperate act of friendship causes Elen to free him from his curse, he realizes he wants more. He wants all of her—completely and forever.Except before Cormack can win Elen’s heart, Pendaran, the evil leader of the Guardians, captures her, determined to manipulate her incredible power to aid him in his twisted war against the shapeshifting tribes.

Now Cormack must use all of his skills as a warrior and a wolf to save the woman he loves—before Pendaran’s vile schemes destroy them all…
Excerpt:

Too wired to sleep, Elen opened the wine and poured a glass, sipping quietly as she walked over to the bed.  Cormack slept above the coverlet and on his back, with one arm raised over his head, while the other rested by his side.  His hair was still damp from his shower, and he wore jeans but no shirt, as if he’d just rested his head and sleep claimed him first.

His chest rose and fell with even breaths.  She was not one to marvel over physical attributes, but this was Cormack, and his body was meant for pleasure, like a goddess had molded him for her personal divine gratification.  His frame was large, and toned, with wide shoulders and a firm chest that tapered down to his hips.  His hardened stomach would provide the perfect friction were she to ride him just like this.

And as that image flooded her mind, another, more wicked one, followed.  It was greedy, and selfish, but all her niceness had been used up for the day.  He looked peaceful, and innocent, but the man was practically immortal after all.  Their kind did not die from lack of sleep.  They might go mad, of course, but that took a few weeks.  And had he not said, do with me as you will?

She needed to touch him.  That was all.  Well, no, she wanted more, but for now that would do.  Taking a sip of her wine, she gently set the glass on an end table by the bed, and gave into temptation.  Starting by his heart, she brushed lightly across his chest, tracing down the indent between, and lingering on the valleys and curves of his muscles.  Flattening her hand over his stomach, she felt the soft hair that began just above the waistband of his jeans and disappeared below.  She had never seen him in this restful state, at least not in his human form, and took in her ravenous fill.

Her hand lingered over the button of his jeans.  She swallowed, wanting… Oh, how she wanted.  It burned like molten earth, fed by a need that had been denied for too long.  Even now she felt her body moisten and swell just from imagining what waited beyond that closure, and how it would feel inside her.

Or how it would taste.

She thumbed the button.  A quick flick was all it would take.

A sound made her jolt, an intake of breath perhaps, followed by a sudden rise under her hands.  She snapped her eyes to his face.

Cormack was awake.

And watching her.

A fire raged within his cerulean gaze.  “Kill me now if you stop, Elen, because then I’ll know I’m well and truly cursed and I cannot be tortured anymore.”

Prequel for Autumn Moon:
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Interview & Giveaway: Mythean Arcana Paranormal Romance Boxed Set by Linsey Hall

UFI welcomes Author Linsey Hall. Thanks for Joining us!!

What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview?  

I love Disney World. I also like museums and cultural attractions (I was an archaeologist before I was a writer, so I do love a good museum!) but there is something about Disney World that is just delightful. The margaritas in Epcot are to die for.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

I am trying desperately not to kill my garden. We live in Florida, so we have a long growing season, which is great. But I’m new to this, so there’s a real learning curve. I’ve killed the parsley and basil, but the peppers and oregano are going strong!

What is your Favorite part of writing? 

I try to have BIG PROBLEM in my books, like most writers do. Something that seems impossible that keeps the hero and heroine apart. The problem with this is that it’s really hard to solve the big problem. The minute that I figure it out (and it usually involves a twist) is my favorite part.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write? 

No specific routines, but I do sit with my cats. I sit in different places in the house and each will come spend some time with me in their special place.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres? 

So many! Larissa Ione, Darynda Jones, and JR Ward are some of my favorites.

How would you pitch the Mythean Arcana to someone who has not heard of it before? 

It’s a hot paranormal romance series set in Scotland that features all variety of magical beings. Hunky heroes and tough heroines keep the stories moving fast and fun.
 
Can you tell us a little bit about the world that the Mythean Arcana is set in?  

The series is set in present day Scotland, but the characters often travel far abroad, from Brazil to Jordan. All myths are true, which means all religions are true. So are their heavens and hells, called afterworlds. Characters are often trying to get to or away from afterworlds. If enough mortals believed in it, it exists. There are a lot of gods, goddesses, witches, and reincarnated souls wandering around, trying to stay under the radar of mortals. The place that connects all the characters is called the Immortal University (a tribute to my archaeologist roots), but the characters are all adults, not college age individuals. The university is more of an unofficial government organization for the immortals of Britain than it is a learning institution.

Do you have a favorite scene in the Mythean Arcana boxed set? 

Wow! That’s hard. There are four books, so there are a lot of scenes that I adore. In book 1, Braving Fate, there’s a great scene in which the heroine ties up the hero. In book 2, Soulceress, there’s a great twist at the end that was SO fun to write. The first chapter of book 3, Rogue Soul, is set in a magical city along the Amazon river. The hero is fighting in a bare-knuckle boxing ring and the heroine sees him for the first time in two thousand years (last time she saw him, she thought she killed him). And last, Stolen Fate (book 4), is non-stop action because it’s a novella, so that was really fun to write.

Which one character out of all your books was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?  

Esha, the heroine from Soulceress, was my favorite to write. She’s also the character that readers have liked the most as well. She’s tough and has had a really hard past, but she’s upbeat and keeps going despite it. She was a blast to write. The hardest was when the heroes were screwing up. Overall, they are great guys, but like most heroes, they’ve got some learning to do.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?

Book 5 in the series is just about to come out! May 28. The boxed set that we’ve been talking about features the first four books in the series and it’s been released for a limited time to celebrate the release of book 5.  Fate Undone follows the story of a character who is introduced in book 4 – Loki, the Norse trickster god. It’s a great story and I’m super excited to see what people think.
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Linsey Hall is the author of the Mythean Arcana, a sexy paranormal romance series. Before becoming a romance novelist, Linsey was an underwater archaeologist who studied shipwrecks in all kinds of water, from the tropics to muddy rivers (and she has a distinct preference for one over the other). Her books draw upon her love of history, travel, and the paranormal elements that she can't help but include.

Several of her books may or may not feature her cats.

Find Linsey and her books
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Mythean Arcana
Paranormal Romance Boxed Set
Books 1-4
Mythean Arcana Series
Amazon Kobo Google Play iBooks BN
In celebration of the release of Fate Undone, Book 5 of the Mythean Arcana series, the first four volumes are available for a limited time for only $0.99! 

"Linsey Hall's brilliantly imaginative Mythean Arcana is THE must-read series of the year for fans of paranormal romance." - Maggie Shayne, NY Times Bestselling Author of TWILIGHT GUARDIANS


Braving Fate 

Bookish academic Diana Laughton has been having terrible dreams. Dreams of battle, dreams of blood... dreams so vivid she's living them day and night. When demons invade her quiet life and she flees to Scotland, she wonders if she's going mad. Or if perhaps she's remembering a past life she had no idea existed...

Mythean Guardian Cadan Trinovante loved and betrayed Britain's warrior queen Boudica two millennia ago. Now he's tasked with protecting mortals whose lives affect the fate of humanity. His latest assignment is Boudica herself, reincarnated as a woman with no idea of her past or her fated future.

Thrown together in a shadowy world that exists alongside our own, Diana and Cadan must fight not only the demonic forces that want Diana dead, but a past and a passion that have lasted centuries. Their desire could be deadly. But as evil from the underworld unites against them, their only hope could be each other.

Soulceress 

Three hundred years ago, Warren sold his soul in exchange for the safety of his people. He lives immortal and inhuman, a life in the shadows, hiding his secrets. Until now, when he finally has the chance to reclaim his soul after three centuries of suffering…

Esha is a soulceress, an immortal who drains the magical powers of others. Shunned by everyone she meets, she’s a rogue mercenary who hunts evil for a living. The only man she cannot harm is Warren, whose secrets intrigue her and whose body sparks her desire…

Esha is the only person who can help Warren reclaim his soul. But what begins as a simple quest soon becomes a deadly battle, one in which choices will be made and secrets revealed that could tear them apart. As Esha and Warren uncover their passion, they must defeat the evil forces unleashed against them before time runs out…

Rogue Soul 

Andrasta, Celtic goddess of victory, has fled the cold, sterile wasteland of Otherworld for the steamy South American jungle. It's only a matter of time before the vengeful gods catch and punish her - unless she can convince the man she betrayed two thousand years ago to help…

Born in Otherworld to the life of a god, Camulos went rogue centuries ago. He's living on the banks of the Amazon, boxing in bare-knuckled fights. The gods believe he's dead--until Ana finds him. Ana, the woman who gave him nothing but trouble, and the woman he could never forget…

Thrown together, Ana and Cam must evade the wrath of the gods and a return to the living death of Otherworld. But as they flee through the jungle - and as their passion ignites - they find themselves at the heart of an ancient secret. One that could kill them both and extinguish their souls forever...

Stolen Fate 

Fiona is an Acquirer, an immortal who uses magic to hunt for ancient artifacts. Ever since she failed to live up to her fate and find the Book of Worlds,, she’s been slowly losing her mind as her subconscious keeps trying to accomplish her fated task. When she’s presented with one last chance to find the Book and save her sanity, she’ll stop at nothing to accomplish her goal.

For more than one hundred years, Ian has been locked in a nightmarish prison. An accomplished thief, he was thrown into hell for failing to maintain the secrecy of his magical race. When Fiona presents him with an opportunity for escape, he’ll do anything it takes to ensure that it’s permanent, even if it means betraying the woman he’s grown to care for.

As Fiona and Ian get closer to finding the book, they learn that there’s more at stake than they ever imagined – like the fate of the world.

Chapter One of Rogue Soul
book 3 in the Mythean Arcana series

The Caipora’s Den
Edge of the Amazon River, Brazil
Present Day

Andrasta, Celtic goddess of victory, swallowed hard, her gaze transfixed by the man in the makeshift boxing ring. Was he that handsome when I tried to kill him? Or that brutal?
She honestly couldn’t remember. It had been more than two thousand years since she’d seen him last, and she barely recognized him. Dim spotlights gleamed off sweat-slicked muscles and highlighted the feral brutality with which he pounded his opponent. No gloves protected his big hands, just white fabric wrapped around knuckles. They were spotted with blood.
She swallowed hard again, unable to look away.
She’d known she would find him here when she’d strolled up to the Caipora’s Den, a little dive bar perched on the edge of the Amazon River. But she hadn’t expected the outdoor boxing ring surrounded by a horde of cheering Mytheans or that her prey would be inside it, pounding his opponent into a sack of broken bones.
She’d never before been to the bar, which catered only to the supernatural beings who lived secretly alongside mortals. The building itself was ramshackle, and she had a feeling that it was just as run-down on the inside. The outdoor lot in which she stood was pressed between the building and the river. It housed the boxing ring and nearly a hundred Mytheans, most of whom looked human even though they weren’t. They screamed and cheered as punches landed with fierce smacks.
“All right, that’s enough,” hollered the ref, a big ugly brute who stepped forward to end the fight. The man she’d come for stood over his collapsed opponent, his heavily muscled chest heaving. He was declared the winner—no surprise, considering his opponent didn’t look like he’d be getting off the floor anytime soon.
She sank back into the crowd when he turned to exit the ring. Though she wanted to watch him, to devour every hard inch with her eyes, she didn’t want him to see her before she could approach him on her terms.
Their past was a pit of snakes, so confusing that even she couldn’t figure head from tail though she’d lived through it. She wouldn’t be surprised if he was pissed as hell, considering the arrows she’d sent through his heart the last time she’d seen him. Not that he hadn’t wronged her. He had. He’d started the nightmare that had ended in her stealing his godhood for herself. Worse, they’d cared for each other. Until it had all gone to shit, at least.
And now she needed his help.
She turned and pushed her way through the crowd, toward the small bar pressed against the outside of the building. She needed to buy herself some time to recover from the sight of him but didn’t want to do it inside the bar where she might lose track of him. Seeing him again made her shaky, even though it had been so many years. She just needed a minute to catch her breath, that was all.
She squeezed between two Mytheans of indeterminate species and reached the bar—which was more of a table with some liquor bottles and a cooler, but it would do.
“A beer,” she said to the bartender, a beautiful brunette who had the slightly feral face of some kind of shifter. Ana had never been any good at identifying Mytheans since she rarely got away from her own kind.
The bartender handed over a sweating glass bottle and hissed, “On the house.”
Anaconda Incantada. The sound of her voice gave away what her features did not. She was a snake shifter.
And it had better be on the house. There had to be some perks to being a god, since everything else had been a disappointment. Although Ana never tired of Mytheans fearing or bowing to her. Some watched her warily even now, and she appreciated it all the more for not having had it when she’d been mortal.
“How often does this happen?” Ana asked the bartender, hiking a thumb at the ring.
The shifter shrugged. “Every night.”
“Know anything about the fighters?”
“Not the loser. But the winner, he’s never lost. Fights pretty often. Seems to like it. Keeps to himself otherwise.”
Ana nodded and turned to look for her prey. The beer slid refreshingly down her throat, and she sighed in pleasure at the smooth taste of the infrequently allowed delicacy. Focusing on the taste helped calm her nerves just a bit. She was raising the bottle to her lips a second time when she spotted him standing off to the side of the crowd near the jungle that crept up to the dirt lot.
It had been two thousand years since she’d seen him last, when she’d thought she’d killed him and taken his place as a Celtic god. Those years had been kind to him, considering that he was still alive. Almost as kind as the way-too-hot woman draped around him, sucking on his neck while he unwrapped the bloody cloth from his hands.
Ana stifled the strange little twinge in her chest. She’d cared for him once, and he for her, but that was so long ago the memories had gone to dust. Or so she told herself. She took one last swig of the beer to chase them away.
Now or never. If she wanted a permanent escape from Otherworld, the land of the Celtic gods and what felt like her eternal prison, there’d be no more dawdling, no matter how nervous she was about his reception or willingness to help her.
She needed him. Admitting to it scraped something raw inside her. But after two thousand years, she wanted out more than she wanted her pride.
Ana sucked in a deep breath and wound her way through the crowd. When a lobisomem got handsy as she passed, an elbow to the gut halted his straying paws, and a glare stopped another. Fancy Brazilian name or not, they were dogs like the rest of their werewolf brothers. Within moments, she’d reached the edge of the crowd and stood before the now-kissing pair.
She squashed her nerves as she gazed at the strong profile of the man she’d never been able to forget—whose mouth was glued to the woman’s. He was a bruiser, even from the side, a contrast of hard features and short ginger hair. He looked rougher than she remembered. Bigger, too.
“Camulos,” Ana said. She glanced dismissively at the sultry woman now trying to swallow his tongue.
“Cam,” he said absentmindedly as he drew his face away from the woman’s to look at Ana. His brows shot up, his gray eyes widening the barest fraction. A scar sliced through one of the brows.
“Recognize me?” she asked, absorbing the fact that he no longer went by Camulos.
“Andrasta,” he rasped, shock plain on his face.
Did she hear his breath catch?
Hers certainly did. He looked every inch the god he’d once been—strong and powerful, with broad shoulders and big arms that looked like they’d been cut from steel. A man comfortable with the mantle of worship, even if he no longer carried it.
Ana shot a pointed glance at the other woman.
“Luciana,” he said, drawing the woman’s mouth away from where it had suctioned onto his neck.
Ana’s eyes zeroed in on the huge hand that cupped the back of Luciana’s neck, then looked back to realize that he’d kept his gaze trained on her own face.
“You need to go,” Camulos said to Luciana.
Luciana pouted at him, then turned to look at Ana.
“A goddess?” Her brows shot high. She no doubt noticed the small glow emitting from Ana’s skin and marked her as one from Otherworld. Her lips twisted in a sneer. “I thought you Celtic gods never left your cold realm.”
She’d be right, Ana thought bitterly. Cold and emotionless, that was Otherworld, and she was trapped there except for a few times a year when she could sneak out without the other gods noticing. But that’s what she wanted to change.
“Beat it, sister,” she said, trying out some earth slang she’d seen on a TV show. Sneaking a laptop into Otherworld and firing up movies with her magic was one of the few ways she stayed sane.
The woman pouted, gave one last longing glance at Camulos, and then moved off into the crowd.
Camulos gave her a hard, searching look, his shock now masked. He didn’t make a move to kill her—which was good. Not that she’d let him. But still, it was promising. He might have cared for her once, but after what had happened at the end, she wouldn’t be surprised if that had been pushed out by anger.
“Come on. Let’s get a seat inside.” He jerked his chin toward the ramshackle bar.
Ana nodded and turned to lead the way. This time, with the huge male of indeterminate species following closely behind her, the crowd parted in waves to let her pass. Camulos was so close on her heels she swore she could feel the heat of him. It made the fine hairs on her arms stand on end. She tried to ignore it.
The smell of sweat and stale beer assaulted her nose when she walked into the bar. It was even more crowded than the outside, with dozens of volatile Mytheans partying and fighting in the dark, smoky space lit only by bare, dangling light bulbs.
She blinked. Wow. This was so different from Otherworld. Gross, definitely, from the smell to the cleanliness of the occupants.
But it was great. It was nothing like Otherworld, and she loved it. There was one small unoccupied table in the corner, but it was far enough from the main crowd to suit her.
They hadn’t so much as settled at the table when a beer appeared in front of Camulos, carried by a smiling waitress whose eyes didn’t stray from him. He ignored it and spared her only a curt nod.
“How the hell did you find me?” he asked when the waitress slunk away.
His rough voice sent a shiver down her spine. That first tingle of attraction hadn’t been a fluke, after all. Damn it. This was what had gotten her in trouble so many years ago. Insane attraction that had blinded her to the danger she’d stepped into.
She dragged her mind back to the present. “More importantly, how the hell are you still alive? I thought I killed you.”
His big hand clenched on the table. Scars sliced across his knuckles.
She tried not to squirm in her seat as his eyes roamed from her face down to the hint of cleavage she knew peeped above the top of her leather breastplate. She always wore it, but then she spent most of her time in temperate Otherworld or Scotland. It was damn hot in the jungle.
Finally, his gaze dragged back to hers. The sight hit her straight in the solar plexus. Damn, he looked good, no matter how wary or how harsh his gaze. His short reddish-blond hair glinted in the dim light that struggled to illuminate the seedy bar with its sticky seats. He still looked like a damn god, no matter what he’d turned into.
“You didn’t kill me,” he said, one corner of his mouth hiked up.
“Then what the hell are you? How are you immortal?”
“Why would I tell you that?”
So it was going to be this way? A game of chance where neither showed their cards? But it suited her too, since she had no idea how she felt about him. She glared at him as a Jurassic-sized fly buzzed around her head, as annoying as the questions hanging in the air between them. She still didn’t fully understand everything that had happened those many years ago when she’d taken his place as a god by sending an arrow through his heart. Twice. She flinched at the mental image that came with the thought—him dying in the snow, his blood soaking through the knees of her dress.
“Aren’t you afraid of me?” he asked.
“Nope.” If she was going to be afraid of anyone, it would be him—with his huge body, scowling face, and potentially deadly grudge against her. But she wasn’t. She could take care of herself, damn it. Being afraid was a thing of the past.
“Cocky.”
“Yep.” She wasn’t the same girl he’d once cared for, however briefly. After they’d gotten caught in the crosshairs of the gods and her whole life had gone to hell, she’d changed.
“Anyway, it worked out for the best.” He raised his smudged glass in toast to her.
“Really?” Her brows shot up. He truly thought their past—trading places so that she became a god and he went to earth—had worked out for the best?
He nodded, but she had a hard time believing him.
“Why? You should have loved Otherworld. You’re a god,” she said.
“Not anymore.”
“Yeah, but you get what I mean,” she said. “Otherworld, the coldness there, shouldn’t have bothered you since you were born a god. The power, the perfection. It was all yours. Without all the downsides.”
Like the soul-sucking loneliness of a place with no emotion. No one could care about anyone else. She was a fluke, a god with the ability to feel because she’d once been mortal. But there was nothing to feel there. No joy, no love, no fun. No way to distract herself from the misery of being trapped. All the other gods, they were perfect for it. Automatons in their impeccable world. But not her.
“So why would it be better for you on earth?” she asked when he didn’t respond. He had less power here and had to hide from the other gods. And earth was messy and miserable compared to Otherworld. But it was that ability to be miserable, and alternately joyful, which made her want to return. “There’s nothing for you here.”
His gray eyes darkened, his expression effectively closing the subject. “That’s my business, not yours. Why the hell are you here?”
“I want out.”
“Are you kidding? Do you know what will happen to you when the other gods figure out you’ve tried to run?”
What was it about his voice that made her want to squirm in her seat? The mixed accent from his long life sounded exotic somehow and a hint of roughness dragged across her skin.
She shivered. “I’ve snuck out before.”
“For a few hours maybe, and not with the intent to flee.” He nodded smugly and she knew he must see acknowledgment in her eyes. “When they figure out that you’re gone and don’t intend to come back, you’ll end up chained to the most desolate tor in Blackmoor for a thousand years while ravens circle for dinner.”
Ana swallowed hard. The knowledge of the great rock formations where lawbreakers were punished was something she’d tried not to focus on when she’d decided to run. Blackmoor was the most desolate place in Otherworld, all scrubby ground punched through with granite tors and howling wind and rain. She had about a day before the other gods figured out she was gone. At that point, she’d be considered a deserter and they’d hunt her down.
“I’m aware of the risks.” She tried to make her voice hard. “I want out.”
“What the hell do you expect me to do about it?”
“You cared for me once.” She didn’t want to play that card—not after how it had ended between them—but she was desperate.
Truth flashed in his eyes, then his jaw hardened. “It was a long time ago.”
It had been. But seeing him was dredging up emotions she’d forgotten she’d ever had. She tried to force them to the back of her mind and focus on her goal. “I want to know how you became mortal.”
“Not mortal.”
“Damn it, you know what I mean. I just don’t want to be a god anymore. You stole my life when your obsession with me attracted the attention of the other gods. I want my life back.”
“I don’t owe you a thing.” He raised his glass and his strong throat worked as he swallowed, drawing her eyes to it. She couldn’t help but notice the way his worn shirt stretched over his broad chest. She scowled at her own interest. Long ago, that same interest had gotten her into trouble.
“Fine. I’ll just have to convince you,” she said.
He didn’t respond, just smiled and folded his muscled arms over his chest. She sighed, then tensed when he swung his feet up onto the chair next to her.
Her breath caught in her throat. She could almost feel the heat of his thighs close to hers. Her leg tingled, her skin prickling. Something low in her stomach tightened, and it reminded her that this was one of the reasons she wanted to be back on earth.
Fates, her nerves were on edge, and he wasn’t helping matters. She’d spent nearly every day of the last two millennia in Otherworld—the dullest, loneliest place in all of creation. As much as she loved the hustle and bustle of the Mytheans and mortals on earth, there was way too much of it in this bar. Her senses were on overdrive, and the air fairly buzzed with emotion from the dozens of volatile Mytheans carousing around her.
She swallowed hard and met his eyes. His smile reappeared, as if he knew what was going on inside her head. Inside her body.
“I need some air.” She jumped to her feet. “Come on.”
As soon as he stood, she spun and headed for the front door of the bar, hoping it would be quieter than the fighting ring out back. She had to cool down or things were going to get out of control.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

Eighth Grave After Dark
Author: Darynda Jones
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: St. Martins Press
ISBN:   1250045657
ISBN13: 9781250045652
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Publisher
With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there, Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley’s been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine.

While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….
Devastated.. I am absolutely devastated that I will have to wait so long for book 9.

My emotions are up and down after reading EIGHTH GRAVE AFTER DARK and I am having a real hard time writing this review because to tell you why they are all over the place, I would have to give away spoilers, and I really don't want to do that. SO, please know that I will try to make as much sense as possible without spoiling anything, but somethings you might not get until you read the book.

EIGHTH GRAVE AFTER DARK was a bit slower than previous books in the series, but it was still an essential addition to the series. There are a lot of surprises and answers revealed. We get to witness Charley at the end of her pregnancy and the birth of Beep. All of our favorite and not so favorite characters are present and involved in different ways. I wish Charley and Reyes would finally trust each other. They have the love down, but they continue to hide things and get the other upset on a regular basis.

The pre-ending was the part of the book that left my emotions all over the place. In hindsight I know the events that took place were necessary, but as a mother I HATE when books do this. HATE it. It usually tends to ruin them for me, but I love this series so much I can't not read them anymore so I have to try and look past it and hope that it doesn't last long, because I just won't be able to take it if it does. NOW the events that took place AFTER the pre-ending, UGGH NOOOOO, not a total cliffhanger, but close enough. Ok I will stop confusing you now. THE DIRT ON NINTH GRAVE has a release date of January 5, 2016 and that seems so far away.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.