Thursday, October 31, 2013

Interview: Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin

UFI welcomes Matthew Quinn Martin Author of Nightlife. 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’m a huge Toto fan. Not just of the band itself, but of the individual members and the work they did as session musicians. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a studio ensemble that has had as big an impact on popular music other than the legendary Funk Brothers. Actually, when I was doing on-set re-writes on Slingshot I kept slipping Toto lyrics into the dialogue. None of it made it to the final cut, but I’d love to see the outtakes one day.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time?
Downtime? What is this downtime of which you speak? Seriously though, I enjoy playing music, either on my record player or on one of the various musical instruments littering my house.

What is your Favorite part of writing?
Reading over something I’ve written the day before and thinking that it doesn’t suck. That’s a red-letter day for me.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write?
I’ll treat myself to a can of Moxie when I finish or sell something. Other than that it’s helpful to have a “door” that you can keep closed. But headphones usually work if I happen to be stuck writing in a public place. Even if they aren’t plugged in they are a nice sign for others to “keep out.” Fellow writer and frequent collaborator Libby Cudmore makes little writing shrines out of Altoid tins so she can create a personal writing space anywhere. She made me one…and it has a Moxie button in it.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres?
Harlan Ellison is a big influence. I still remember the first time I read Strange Wine. It would have been in the late 80s and I was in my mid-teens. The opening story, “Croatoan,” gave me a string of nightmares that I hope will go away at some point. But more than just that, the story showed me just where the boundaries of genre fiction were…and totally obliterated them, just blew them right to cinders. If I ever write something that has ten percent of the impact or depth of “Croatoan,” then I will consider myself a success.

How would you pitch Nightlife to someone who has not heard of it before?
Not your kid sister’s vampire novel.

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that Nightlife is set in?

The city of New Harbor is based (more than a little) on my experiences growing up in New Haven, Connecticut. I chose to fictionalize it because the city itself is a small one. Places like New York, Chicago, London, etc. are so massive and mythic that you can set just about anything there and as long as you don’t get too specific about the details and there will be room for that “willing suspension of disbelief” to kick in. No one can really know all there is to know about New York. In a more intimate setting you run the risk of taking people familiar with the area right out of the action with too much creative license. This is especially true in horror/fantasy. You are already asking your reader to accept that there are creatures lurking in the shadows––best not to blow that by situating an apartment building in an industrial area or a park where there isn’t one. There’s a certain freedom in working like that, but there are challenges to it as well.

Do you have a favorite scene in Nightlife?
I do…but I’m not going to say which because I don’t want the other scenes to get jealous.

Which character was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?
I had a lot of fun writing Gabby, especially the scenes in her headspace. There is something freeing about seeing the world through six-year-old kid logic. The other characters could all vie for “most difficult” at various points during the writing and revisions.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?
Right now I’m hard at work on the sequel, Nightlife: As the Worm Turns. It’s a broader and more epic story (and a longer one). After that, I’ve got my eyes on a stand alone supernatural horror novel…but I’ve learned that it’s best not to plan too far ahead.

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, it wasn’t until Matthew moved to Manhattan that he realized he was a writer. These days, he lives on a small island off the North Atlantic coast of the United States where it gets quiet in the winter…perhaps too quiet. . .

Find Matthew and her books

For centuries an ancient evil has slept beneath the streets of New Harbor. This Halloween, it wakes up.
An action-packed debut horror novel from talented new writer Matthew Quinn Martin, Nightlife pits a feisty bartender and a mysterious loner against bloodthirsty terrors as alluring as they are deadly.

Nightclub bartender and serial heartbreaker Beth Becker might be a cynic. But when her best friend goes missing Halloween night, Beth knows it's up to her to find out what happened.

Her quest will take her on an odyssey through the crumbling city of New Harbor, Connecticut. Along the way she meets a homeless prophet warning of something he calls the "Night Angel"-a bloodthirsty creature that feeds on the forgotten. And she will form an unlikely bond with a hunted stranger who knows all too well what stalks the streets at night.

Review: Secret Unleashed by Sierra Dean

Secret Unleashed
Author: Sierra Dean
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
ISBN:   1619214458
ISBN13: 9781619214453
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Request: Author

After her last mission tested the limits of her humanity and took her out of this world, Secret’s friends, determined to keep her safe from her old nemesis Alexandre Peyton, keep ushering her from one babysitter to the next.

Couch surfing would be a lot more fun if Alexandre would let up on her long enough to allow her to get in some alone time with her lovers. Including Holden, her self-appointed shadow.

As if living out of coffin isn’t bad enough, Secret literally brings down the house while hunting a rogue, causing the council to exile her from New York—for her own safety, of course.

With her list of people to trust getting shorter and shorter, Secret ends up embroiled in a mystery to find a vampire warden gone AWOL and a missing artifact. Things go from bad to worse when she falls into the hands of a man who will prove that humans can be the worst monsters of them all.

Warning: Contains a cross-country journey, an unexpected family reunion, heated lovers’ embraces and a hell of a lot of trouble.

This is such a fun series. It's not hard to get caught up in Secrets life and the drama it brings as it unfolds. SECRET UNLEASHED kicks off shortly after the events of book 5, a lot happens and it will leave you mentally drained by the end.

Secret always ends up caught in the middle and I love the way she thinks and handles every situation thrown at her. Secret's love life is crazy. There is Desmond and Holden, they are both sexy, supportive, and love Secret like they should. I am so conflicted, I don't know who I want Secret to love! She will just have to continue to love both of them. There were some really scary points in SECRET UNLEASHED. I didn't think everyone would make it out alive and I was right. There is no way that Secret won't be forever changed by the events that occurred. SECRET UNLEASHED also manages to bring us a good bit of fast and hard answers to some of our most sought after questions. Where is Secret's Dad? Who really is Sig and why is he so interested in Secret?

There really isn't anything I don't like about this series. The characters, the flow of events, the plot, the world, it is all well written and keeps me coming back for more. What could possibly happen next? Who knows but I will be on the roller coaster every step of the way.

I gave it 4/5 stars

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Promo & Giveaway: The Sentinel by Holly Martin

The Sentinel
The Sentinel #1


When Eve is rescued from a horrific coach crash by her teachers, she is shocked to discover they possess super strength and speed. But what happens next is even more harrowing.

In the aftermath of the crash she discovers that everyone in her life from neighbours, doctors, dentists, teachers, shop keepers and even her family and friends are actually super strength Guardians sent to protect her. They all have one thing in common, a single minded ferocity that she must be kept alive at all costs.

However, she is surrounded by secrets and lies. Those in the know deny all knowledge of what happened that fateful night. Everyone else carries on as normal, seemingly unaware of the new strange world that she has stumbled against.

With the help of Seth, her best friend, Eve discovers the prophecies surrounding her true identity and the super strength she too holds. With her Guardians pledged to protect her, her closest friends ready to die for her, her own hopes and dreams are put on hold whilst she battles to control the amazing powers she has been bestowed with.

But those that seek to destroy her move ever closer. Will the Guardians be enough to protect her when so many are prepared to stop at nothing to see her dead? And will she be strong enough to fulfil her destiny when the time comes?

A fast paced fantasy adventure for young adults. With high speed car chases, airborne fights, amazing stunts and super powered beings, this is a story of loyalty, friendship and love.


Find Holly and her books

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Legion
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Guild Hunter Book #6
ISBN:   1101602228
ISBN13: 9781101602225
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: Publisher

Nalini Singh, the New York Times bestselling “alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) returns to an immortal world of violent passion and lethal power…on the brink of a deadly archangelic war.

Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force.

Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.

Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and the Archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels.

Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York…and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never again be the same…

I really enjoyed reading about Elena and Raphael and could not wait for Nalini to get back to them after the 2 Guild Hunter books without them. I honestly had no want to read books 4 or 5 and was a little worried that I would be lost when I jumped back in for ARCHANGEL'S LEGION, but I am happy to report that I felt like I had not left the series at all.

A surprising amount of events and confrontations happen in ARCHANGEL'S LEGION and it's all written so smoothly that before you know it the book is at its end and you are pining for more. We get Angel's falling from the sky, woman throwing themselves at Raphael (although that is nothing new), Mother in Law drama, father drama and a supernatural war that you will not soon forget.

I love the development of Raphael and Elena's relationship. They have gone through a lot and they closer and closer every day and with every event. They both complement each other really well and I love watching them together. Elena handles the woman coming after Raphael surprisingly well and I can not help but laugh thinking of anyone brave enough to come after their relationship in the future. Raphael's Mom surprised me, I enjoyed her more than I thought I would after certain events. I understand Elena's Father better after ARCHANGEL'S LEGION. It will never excuse his behavior but I understand him now. The author brings out a lot of emotions in this installment you will be laughing, cringing, crying and yelling with the rest of us when you dive in.

The fight at the end, CRAZY! I was gripped to my seat with my heart pounding out of my chest while reading and I never thought it would end like it did. Why must we wait to get more? Will book 7 stay with Raphael and Elena? I really really hope so.

I gave it 5/5 stars

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Four Weddings and a Werewolf by Kristin Miller

UFI welcomes Author Kristin Miler. Thanks for Joining us!!

Four Weddings and a Werewolf’s Playlist

Just like every movie has a soundtrack, I believe every book should have a playlist.

While I’d like to say the Four Weddings and a Werewolf playlist is filled with songs like “Chapel of Love”, or even Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, it’s not. I’ve seen authors create fake playlists based on the themes in the book or choose songs the characters might like. Those are definitely cool, but the playlist I used to write Four Weddings and a Werewolf is what inspired the book, so I think that should be the book’s playlist.

There were about twenty songs on the overall playlist, but I would often start midstream, choosing a song and letting it run down the list before starting from the midpoint again. The following songs are the ten that played on repeat most often:

1.      T.B. Sheets, Van Morrison

2.      I Know It’s Over, Jeff Buckley

3.      I Can Barely Say, The Fray

4.      Black and Blue live, Christina Perri

5.      You Know Where I’m At, Gavin DeGraw

6.      Be Still, The Fray

7.      Kiss Me, Ed Sheeran

8.      Last Kiss, Taylor Swift

9.      Thinking of You, Katy Perry

10.  Lover, You Should’ve Come Over, Jeff Buckley

Overall, the mood was romantic and mellow, with some anguish here and there (courtesy of Jeff Buckley and Van Morrison). Any songs on the playlist you haven’t heard? (You should hop over to Spotify and listen! They’re amazing!) Are any of those your favorites? (We’re on the same page—yay!)

Okay, I’m off to create another playlist! It’s called “Release Week” playlist, and it’s got Prince’s “1999”. I’m off to party!

National bestselling author Kristin Miller has had a passion for language and literature her whole life. Born and raised in northern California, she often made up stories about faraway places and edge-of-your-seat adventures. After graduating from Humboldt State University, Kristin taught high school and middle school English, married her college sweetheart, and had two beautiful munchkins. In 2008, she took time off from teaching to raise her children, and started writing while they napped.

Her first novel was published in 2011, and since then she has had eight other novels published with Entangled Covet, Avon/HarperCollins and Harlequin Nocturne. She is the author of the Seattle Wolf Pack series (starting with the national bestselling book Gone with the Wolf), the dark and gritty Vampires of Crimson Bay series and the short-but-steamy Isle of Feralon novellas.

Find Kristin and her books

Four Weddings and a Werewolf
Amazon   BN   Goodreads
To have and to howl…

Logan Black, former Marine and bodyguard for the Seattle Wolf Pack, hates weddings and has no plan to walk the path to matrimonial misery. But when he’s hired to protect a hot-to-trot wedding planner with a werewolf stalker, he’s forced to put his feelings aside. Not such an easy task when the damsel can turn him on with a single smoldering glance.

Wedding planner Veronica Vale knows werewolves exist, but hates them. One bit her sister, changing their lives forever. When a sexy Marine shows his gorgeous face at one of her wedding appointments, Veronica finds it hard to focus on the task at hand.

The chemistry drawing Logan and Veronica together seems fated, but with Logan’s playboy attitude, Veronica’s hatred for werewolves, and a stalker lurking in the shadows, these two need more than passion to keep them together.

 Tour Wide
a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Releases: 10/27-11/2

Mon Oct 28th

Tue Oct 29th

 Altered (Crewel World #2) by Gennifer Albin
 Dead Set: A Novel by Richard Kadrey
 Horde (Razorland #3) by Ann Aguirre

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Promo & Giveaway: Sentinel Tour - Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Mini Interview with Jennifer about Half-Blood

For JLA – Half-Blood was your first published book.  Does it hold a special place for you or do you wish you could have a chance to re-write it?   

Half-Blood definitely holds a special place for me, and I wouldn’t want to re-write it.  I’m happy with the book.

For Leon – You defended Alex and advocated for her to stay and be trained.  If you’d know she was gonna be such a pain in your ass, would have do that again.  Why?   

Oh yeah, Alex needed to be trained, but I would have advocated for an attitude adjustment along with the training.

For Aiden – That day that Alex meets Seth for the first time, did you notice anything then that could have warned you of what was to come?  

Everything about him warned me.

For Seth -  Did you know that Alex was not impressed with your name when she met you?  She thought you should have a more Greek name like Apollo or something.  Turn around is fair play.  Your thoughts on her name?   

She’s named after a boy.

# 1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer L. Armentrout Lives in West Virginia.

All the rumors you heard about her state aren’t true.

Well, mostly. When she's not hard at work writing, she spends her time, reading, working out, watching zombie movies, and pretending to write.

She is the author of the Covenant Series (Spencer Hill Press), the Lux Series (Entangled Teen), Don't Look Back (Disney/Hyperion) and a yet untitled novel (Disney/Hyperion), and new YA paranormal series with Harlequin Teen.

Jennifer also writes New Adult and Adult romance under the pen name J. Lynn. The Gamble Brothers Series (Tempting the Best Man/Tempting the Player) and Wait for You. Under her pen name, she is published with Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Find Jennifer and her books

Covenant #1
Amazon, BN
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals--well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.
 Tour Wide
Spencer Hill Press is giving away a $200 gift card to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository or any indie bookstore of the winner's choice to not only stock up on amazing books, but to perhaps buy a Nook HD or Kindle Fire.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: Wild Card by Jamie Wyman

Title: Wild Card
Author: Jamie Wyman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 280 pages
Release Date: November 2013
ISBN: 978-1-62266-375-0
Imprint: Entangled Edge
Amazon   BN
It was bad enough that gods gambled with human souls, but Catherine Sharp’s soul just had to be won by the Greek goddess of Discord, Eris. As if working a dead-end tech support job didn’t suck the life out of her as it was. Now, Cat finds herself performing random tasks for the goddess in her free time.
But when Coyote, the Native American trickster himself, claims to have won her own soul in Mayhem’s weekly poker game, Cat wants in on the action. With five sneaky gods upping the ante, Cat needs to find a way to collect the winning chips that could save her soul.
Marius, a handsome yet irritating satyr with his own debt to Eris, might finally come in handy for something. If they play their cards right and work together, Cat and Marius may just get their freedom back. If they don’t kill each other—or fall in love—first.

After a misspent adulthood pursuing a Music Education degree, JAMIE WYMAN fostered several interests before discovering that being an author means never having to get out of pajamas. (However, she can eat/spin fire, tell you a lot about auditioning to be a Blue Man, and read/write in Circular Gallifreyan.) As an author, Jamie’s favorite playgrounds are urban fantasy, horror and creepy carnival settings. When she’s not traipsing about with her imaginary friends, she lives in Phoenix with two hobbits and two cats. She is proud to say she has a deeply disturbed following at her blog. 
Jamie’s debut novel, WILD CARD, will be coming to an e-reader near you November 2013 thanks to Entangled Publishing. You can also find her short story “The Clever One” in the anthology WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME 2 (Dragon Moon Press, August ’13).
Find Jamie and her books

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week in Review: 10/20-10/26

Books Ive Bought/received

* Magic and Loss by Nancy A. Collins- Publisher

* Black Heart by Christina Henry- Publisher

* Hunter by Jax- ARC- Publisher

* Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin-ARC- Netgalley

* Darkness Awakened by Katie Reus

Books I Read

The Pulse by Shoshanna Evers
Darkness Splintered by Keri Arthur
Discovery by Brina Courtney
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Magic and Loss by Nancy A Collins
Black Heart by Christina Henry
Darkness Awakened by Katie Reuss

Reviews Posted

Blackout by Robison Wells
Hunter's Moon by Lisa Kessler


* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- Edge Release Day Blitz and Giveaways.

* Tuesday- Guest Blog for Hollow's End by Marianne Morea

* Thursday- Guest Blog and Giveaway for Demon Dance by Brian Freyermuth

* Friday- "Meet Blake" Book Blitz 


* UFI is getting ready to switch from Blogger to Word Press. Please follow us in the following places! Thanks

You can also add me (as in Stacy, not UFI lol) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: Blackout by Robison Wells

Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
Blackout Book #1
ISBN:  0062026127
ISBN13: 9780062026125
Genre: Young Adult/ Dystopian
Review Copy Source: Edelweiss

Laura and Alec are trained terrorists.

Jack and Aubrey are high school students.

There was no reason for them to ever meet.

But now, a mysterious virus is spreading throughout America, infecting teenagers with impossible powers. And these four are about to find their lives intertwined in a complex web of deception, loyalty, and catastrophic danger—where one wrong choice could trigger an explosion that ends it all.

As the blurb states, a mysterious virus is spreading that only infects teenagers. All the teens are rounded up and tested for the virus and those that have it are taken away to the unknown. Jack and Aubrey are no longer friends but when they see all their friends being round-up at prom they successfully hide and escape being round-up. Unfortunately that doesn't last long and they are eventually taken like the rest of the teens and test positive for the virus. Laura and Alec use their superpowers for evil. They are part if a terrorist group trying to take down America and now they infiltrate the other kids that have been found to have the virus to further their destruction. 

I enjoyed BLACKOUT but there were way to many POV's. Looking at other reviews this is a common complaint. It was akin to getting whiplash jumping from one character to the other and it kept me from feeling connected to them and becoming fully invested in their struggles. I did still enjoy the storyline. The pace was fast and the story did have a way of drawing you in. The virus giving superpowers was a fun concept. I wanted to contract the virus by the end of the book! I think we could have learned more about the virus. The author doesn't really dive into it like I wanted. I also was not crazy about how the book ended.

I could probably be persuaded to pick up the next book in the series but it's not one of my must buy, wish list series. It has potential though so maybe I will be surprised.

I gave it 3/5 stars

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Meet Blade" Book Blitz

Excerpt #5

Sleep eluded Blade.
He would have thought the opposite should be true, considering this was the first time in years he had approached it without pain. Perhaps it was because he was alone in Ruby’s bed.
Each of the women who lived at the saloon had two attached rooms at their disposal. One, they used for working. The other was private. When Blade shared Ruby’s bed, he stayed in her private room. He punched a pillow to distribute the feathers more evenly.
He did not know what to make of the half-demon. Airie, he corrected his thought. Or her relationship with Hunter. He pitied his friend though, and envied him, too. Not because of her looks, which were stunning enough, but for the way she seemed to occupy Hunter’s thoughts so completely. He could not remember Hunter ever allowing a woman to distract him before. The fact that she had done so told Blade far more about her character than her healing of his leg.
Hunter’s hatred of demons, however, ran far deeper than Blade’s. He did not know what had happened in Hunter’s past to make this a truth, but he did know that Airie was going to have a difficult time getting beyond it, assuming she’d want to try.
He stretched out on his back beneath Ruby’s plain cotton sheets. Faint light trickled through the drawn muslin curtains, but he could see the contents of the room clear enough. A small writing desk with a ruffle-skirted chair, a chaise longue adorned in many multi-colored silk cushions, delicate oil paintings on the walls he suspected she’d created herself in another lifetime. She was feminine but practical. He rested the back of his head on his bent arm and stared upward at nothing in particular.
Now that he had a life to offer her, he was going to ask her to marry him. They had been friends a long time. Together, they would run the saloon. They would offer a haven to more women who needed one. And now that he could protect them properly, the women would not have to work on their backs unless they wanted to—which, Ruby assured him, some of them did.
Airie had given him back so much more than the use of his leg.
It was early yet. In another hour, the women would rise and head to the kitchen to prepare for the day. The majority of the saloon’s business tended to happen in the late afternoon and early evening because Blade did not encourage the rougher, late night crowd. The potential for roaming demons proved another deterrent to customers.
He rolled from the bed, drew on his trousers, and took the back stairs to the kitchen where he knew Ruby would have taken the little boy so she could work.
The scene he walked in on was what he had expected. Ruby stood at the stove, her hair caught back with a scarf and her face shiny from the heat, while Scratch—Hunter needed to do something about a real name for the boy—sat on the floor near her feet. She had given him a pot and spoon to play with.
Scratch smiled up at him, and Blade’s heart caught. He wondered what a child of his own might look like. She glanced up from the stove. Her eyes darted to his leg, then away, as if she didn’t want to be caught staring.
As far as Blade was concerned, she could stare all she liked. She had seen him at his absolute worst. Now she could see him for the whole man he had once been, although he hoped he had grown better than that over the years.
He was not proud of his past. Before he asked her to marry him, he planned to tell her about it. He cleared his throat, nervous now, and she stiffened as if she knew he was about to say things she didn’t want to hear.
“I was an assassin before you met me,” Blade said to her back.
Some of the stiffness went out of her spine. Her tone, when she replied, was neutral. “That’s not a surprise.”
Of course it wasn’t. She’d seen him practice with his knives. She knew he’d murdered the woman Mamna had condemned. What she did not know was how he had become one.
“I killed my uncle when I was fourteen.” That earned him a bit more of her attention. “He raised me after my parents died. I hated the bastard. He beat me and made me work in the mines like a slave. There wasn’t a bit of kindness in him.”
“Then it sounds as if he deserved it.”
Blade had always thought so. The rest of the community, however, had not shared his belief. The mining tunnels his uncle owned had collapsed shortly after, leaving them unworkable, and he had been blamed for the bad luck.
“My uncle was a leader of the Godseekers. He had been one of the goddesses’ favored, and according to local legend, chosen by them to become the Demon Slayer. I had no choice after I killed him as to what I’d become. Only the lawless would do business with me.”
For the first few years he had not asked questions regarding who they contracted him to kill. Women and children had been among their numbers, although very rare and speedily done. As time went on and his skills improved, he had become more select. But when he’d tried to cross the desert on his own, his lost battle with a demon meant he again had no choice with regard to his future.
Until he met Hunter, and then Ruby, he had made very few choices of his own other than that initial decision to kill his uncle.
He did not regret that one.
When he finished talking, and laying out the bare facts, he waited a long time for any response. She continued to stir the pot on the stove, a frown on her face, and beckoned for him to remove the fresh bread from the oven. Above them, he could hear the other women starting their day.
She banged the spoon on the edge of the pot before setting it on the counter and turning to face him. “Does Hunter know you were once a Godseeker?”
“I was never a Godseeker.” He had never admired them or followed their beliefs. “But Hunter knows I was from the north. He knows I killed my uncle.” He gave her a half-hearted grin. “Apparently I babble when I’m feverish.”
“You do.”
Blade did not ask what he had babbled to her about. Her manner suggested he might not want to hear it. “He knows the Godseekers are trying to kill him. He doesn’t know my uncle was predicted to become the Demon Slayer because that no longer matters. Hunter is the far better choice.”
“Your uncle was chosen by the goddesses,” Ruby said.
Blade could not hide his distaste. “That was what he would have people believe. He was a handsome man, who was nothing more than one of their pleasurable toys, although so arrogant he couldn’t see the truth of that. He could as easily have made up the story to give himself greater importance than he deserved.”
“Is it true that a goddess will lead the Slayer against the demons?” she persisted.
He shifted his weight, forgetting his leg no longer needed to be favored, and straightened. He felt as if he had grown several inches taller overnight, and his back was stiff from the change in his posture. “You can’t believe stories that are told second hand.”
She watched him with thoughtful eyes as he stretched his back muscles. “What if Airie is that goddess?”
“She’s not.”
“She healed your leg,” Ruby said.
“That doesn’t make her one of them.” He exhaled. “I grew up on stories of the goddesses. I remember their visits to the northern mountains from when I was a child. They were never what the world would have you believe. Call them goddesses and demons if you like, but in the end they are all immortals, one and the same.” He heard doors opening and closing upstairs and knew he had to hurry. “I have something I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time,” he began. He wouldn’t ask her now, not when privacy was no longer assured, but he’d give her an opportunity to think about it rather than spring it on her unannounced. “Perhaps tonight?”
Her smile became fixed and falsely bright. “We’ll see,” she said. “The last few days have been poor ones, moneywise. If business picks up, I may be working. If not, there’s a child in the house to consider.” She nodded at Scratch, who had been so silent he was next to invisible. Blade wondered that he had not stepped on him when taking the bread from the oven. “You should go back to bed for a few more hours,” she advised him. “There will be plenty of time for questions in the future.”
She did not want to talk. A sense of unease assailed him, but he let it go. “You’re probably right.”
He climbed the back stairs to her rooms. Instead of her private bedroom, he slipped into her working area.
She’d chosen red as a color scheme, an obvious play on her name. The room was decorated in satins and silks, with lush dressings hanging from the walls and varieties of intimate lace strategically spilling from open drawers. Beneath the king-sized bed she kept a box filled with what she referred to as the tools of the trade, but she had never offered to use them with him.
He sat gingerly on the edge of the bed, mentally comparing this room to the one he occasionally shared with her. He realized that he knew very little about either her or her background. In fact, she knew far more about him. He rubbed his leg out of long habit.
Ruby knew what he wanted to ask her. She was going to say no.
And he, fool that he was, was going to ask her anyway.

Final Scene
On the afternoon of the third day, Blade knocked on the door to Ruby’s private room.
“Come in.”
She sat in the chaise longue, surrounded by colorful cushions, a book upside down on her lap. She smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes in the way it once had when she looked at him. She didn’t offer him a seat either, or ask what he wanted, with that little lift to her voice that told him he could have anything. Their relationship had changed, and he didn’t know why.
He did know. He simply could not believe that it mattered.
“Marry me,” he blurted out, and felt like a fool. This wasn’t how he had intended to ask her.
She carefully lifted the book, marked the page, and set it aside. Then, she sat up straight and looked at him. “Why?”
A wagon rolled by outside in the street, its wheels clattering noisily over the slickened ruts. Her response was not what he’d expected. Yes and no were straightforward answers. He hadn’t anticipated having to explain himself. He wasn’t certain he could. “I should have asked you a long time ago.”
“Why didn’t you, then?”
“I felt like half a man.” Ruby deserved the truth even though he didn’t like going down this road. “You deserved better.”
She studied him. “Maybe now I think you deserve better.”
A fine-edged knife of pain slid into his chest. “I’m not perfect.”
“Neither one of us is.” She patted the seat beside her. He sat, careful not to crush her skirt, feeling clumsy and awkward on the feminine piece of furniture. Her eyes had gotten suspiciously shiny. “When I first met you, you worked very hard to walk again,” she said.
The pain eased. “We can be married inside of a week.”
She took his hand, linking their fingers, and spoke with a gentle grace. “You aren’t that man anymore. But even then, you never worked hard enough to turn a relationship between us into anything more than friendship. I’m not sure why you should want to, now.”
“Why do women always have to think things to death?” Blade asked.
She laughed. “If we didn’t do the thinking, nobody would.”
“Marry me,” he repeated, more desperately this time, but she was shaking her head.
“I would never have said yes, even if you’d tried harder.” She took a deep breath. “I’m a whore. It hasn’t been a bad life. I have more independence than most women. But if I ever change my mind about marriage, it will be for someone who’s never known me as one.” She held up a hand when he would have interrupted her. “I’ll tell him. I’m not ashamed of it. What’s important is that if the time ever comes, this life will be in my past and it will never have been a part of his.”
“My timing was bad,” Blade said.
Ruby squeezed his fingers. “Terrible. But there was never going to be a good time, so it doesn’t matter.”
He’d known all along she’d say no. That was probably the real reason he’d never asked her before. But he should have, if only to show her that he cared.
But by asking her now, he’d freed them both to move on with their lives. He touched her face with the fingertips of his free hand, then kissed her, somewhat ashamed of the relief he felt. He got to his feet. His heart wasn’t unscathed, but he would survive. He knew she would, too.
“I would have made a good husband,” he said.
She clasped her hands in her lap, looking lovely in the light filtering through the muslin curtains.
“You will,” she assured him. “But not for me.”
He left, closing the door behind him.

Paula Altenburg lives in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband and two sons. Once a manager in the aerospace industry, she now enjoys the freedom of working from home and writing full time. She currently writes demon westerns for Entangled Publishing.

Paula also co-authors paranormal romance under the pseudonym Taylor Keating.

Find Paula and her books

Black Widow Demon
Demon Outlaws #2
AmazonBNBook Depository

 Passionate and headstrong, half-demon Raven is nearly executed on the orders of her fundamentalist stepfather. She escapes from the burning stake using the gifts of her otherworldly heritage and the help of a mortal stranger named Blade. Now she’s set on revenge, and only quiet, intense Blade stands in her way.

A retired assassin weary of the weight of his past, Blade has crossed the desert to seek out a new life. His journey is interrupted when his conscience demands he help Raven find an old friend who can help her. Saving her from her need for revenge and delivering her into the hands of loved ones means he’s one step closer to redemption.

But as Blade’s sense of duty becomes something more and threats, both mortal and immortal, stalk the woman he can’t abandon, he could very well fall back into the life he’s trying so hard to escape.