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Redeeming the Villain

I don’t know about you but there are few things I find more boring than a villain who is just flat out evil. You know the kind I mean, the kind who would pull wings off butterflies just for the fun of it, the kind who would kill for no reason. Therein lies the problem. What makes a villain boring is when I have no idea why he’s such an evil bastard, when I can find, in the story no motivation for such despicable villainy, no driving force. I need motivation! I need to be able to identify on some level with what make him who he is.

 

The best villains are the ones you sort of have the hots for, the ones you can’t help but like. Even as you hate them, you still “get” them, you still understand that they, like everyone else, have baggage. They’re complicated. They have histories, they have quirks and neuroses that sometimes make them do horrific things and at other times make them surprise us with their humanity. They’re the ones you think of almost as much as you do the hero in a story. The best villains are the ones who, in spite of every horrible thing they do, you still want to see them redeemed.

 

What I hope I’ve created in Blindsided’s villain, Cyrus, is a character so twisted that he will at times make readers’ skin crawl, but a character so complex that he will, at other times make readers wonder how he might have turned out differently under different circumstances.

 

On the other hand, Blindsided has given me the chance to bring back the villain from In the Flesh — The Guardian,and toy with another fascinating story trope – what is it that makes us human, and how do we redeem ourselves and live in community? How do we care for one another when we’ve never been taught?

 

Can a villain be redeemed? Should a villain be redeemed? Let’s face it, what makes a villain interesting is that he is dangerous and unpredictable. Is the taming of a villain akin to de-fanging a vampire?

 

The one thing the Guardian will never be is tame or safe. The one thing Cyrus will never be is free of his history, the history he despises, free of the baggage that goes along with. Working with two such delicious villains in the same novel and pitting them against each other has been a real treat for me. I hope it will be for you too.

 

Here is a little excerpt of the Guardian’s observations about Susan and Reese’ first encounter with Cyrus. They have been kept in the dark, unable to get a good view of Cyrus’ face, but the Guardian is very observant. Enjoy.

 

 

Blindsided – Villainous Descriptions:

 

“He has one eye,” Reese said once they were tucked safely back into the limo and fighting the traffic out of Midtown. Neither of them had spoken before out of fear they might be overheard, but Desiree was deeply paranoid, so her limos were pretty much invasion-proof tanks.

“What?” Susan said. “How do you know?”

“I had my phone camera on selfie. Oh, I didn’t use it. I didn’t dare, but I had the angle just right that I got enough of a look at him to see that he wore an eye patch.”

“I love you, Reese Chambers,” she said, giving his hand a hard squeeze.

He forced a smile. “I couldn’t see much else. What about the Guardian? Did you enlist his help?”

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Not intentionally, but he felt we were under enough of a threat that he made his presence known.”

“And?”

“Mr. Chambers is right, Susan. This Cyrus wears an eye patch. He is very much not human.”

“What else?” Reese asked, scooting to the front of his seat as she conveyed the demon’s words.

The Guardian didn’t wait for her to ask. His voice felt like an intimate whisper in her ear. “While he was very well dressed in a bespoke suit, he smelled of something more earthy.”

“More earthy? What do you mean, more earthy?” she asked, raising her hand to silence Reese when he opened his mouth to speak.

“Like sheep? Seriously?” She responded to the words only she could hear.

“Sheep? Here in New York City?” Reese said. “What else?”

“Susan, if you would just let me speak through your voice, I could—”

“No,” she said out loud. “I don’t trust you.” Then she blushed at Reese’s raised eyebrow.

“You don’t have to speak out loud. I can hear your thoughts just fine, remember?”

“I know that! I fucking know that!” This time she only thought her words, but she still felt the heat of embarrassment rise to her cheeks.

“What’s he saying?” Reese asked.

Fighting back a flood of memories, she listened as the Guardian spoke in what felt way too much like a lover’s voice—way more sensual than a voice inside her head should have been, and God help her, it felt good, even as it terrified her. But he was her prisoner, she reminded herself, and she would not lose control again. She focused on his words, and her translation became almost simultaneous.

“Cyrus is big, the Guardian says. I sensed that too just in the space he occupied,” she added. Then she continued relaying the Guardian’s thoughts. “He’s Michael’s height, but heavier built, though not fat. His hair is very blond, and while he’s flawed—that’s what the Guardian says—he’d still be considered handsome if he were to walk the streets of Manhattan, though he doubts that he often does that. He says that Cyrus is not a cosmopolitan man. In fact, while his clothing is bespoke, it lacks subtlety, as though he isn’t quite familiar with the way a man in this day and age should dress.”

“In this day and age?” Reese asked.

“He has the distinct feel about him of a being out of time, of not knowing quite how to act here in this age and place. I got that too. And also it was in the way he spoke.”

“I wondered about that,” Reese commented. “Though I forget sometimes because I’m used to it around Alonso. Magda and Talia seem to have adapted to the modern use of language a little better, but then they’ve not made the effort to isolate themselves that Alonso has.”

The Guardian chuckled softly, and Susan felt the sensation inside her chest. “Having experience of such isolation myself, perhaps I am quicker to pick up on his discomfort.”

Susan didn’t translate that. It was meant for her ears only, and it was meant conversationally, as though he spoke to a friend. But she wasn’t his friend. She fucking wasn’t his friend! As though he’d read her thoughts, which no doubt, he
had, he withdrew slightly. This time he spoke more formally, and Susan resumed the translation. “He’s not working for himself.”

“Then who?” both she and Reese asked at the same time.

“I do not know,” came the Guardian’s response. “But whoever it is, this Cyrus fears him a great deal.”

Susan translated this to Reese and the Guardian’s voice became close and personal again.

“His fear of whomever he serves makes him both dangerous and unpredictable, Susan. You must be very careful.”

 

Sultry Nights Romance Collection Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

 

Sultry Nights

A Limited Edition Romance Collection

Containing Stories from: Nicole Morgan, Jocelyn Dex, Alison Foster,

Kate Richards, Linda O’Connor, Samantha Holt, Jerrie Alexander,

Whitley Cox, Krista Ames, Ursula Sinclair, Measha Stone, Tuesday Embers,

Siera London, Rachel Shane, Bonnie Phelps, Misha Elliott,

Alyson Reynolds, Jenna Bayley-Burke, Madison Michael,

Pepper Goodrich, Marcia James, Destiny Blaine

 

 

 

The authors are giving away lots of goodies with this tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Don’t forget you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 

 

 

 

 

Sultry Nights Blurb:

Love, passion, romance and desire… No matter what your preference, this set of 22 hot and sexy reads has just what you need. From surprise love affairs to bad boys that we can’t help but fall for, and couples that were meant to be, this compilation from Romance Collections is sure to please your every single need.

 

 

 

 

 

Sultry Nights Buy Links:

Amazon

 

Featuring:

Love Unleashed, novella

By Marcia James

 

 

Love Unleashed BLURB:

 

His best laid plans…

 

DJ “Rabid Ron” Hart has a grand scheme to win back the woman he loves. It involves an animal adoption fair, a goofy hairless dog named Charlie and an offer she can’t refuse.

 

Her hidden desires…

 

Cara Wilson has fantasies she’s never admitted, and her ex-boyfriend still features in her erotic dreams. If only he didn’t keep his bad-boy urges so tightly leashed.

 

Tonight they’ll learn that winning sometimes takes losing control.

 

 

 

 

Love Unleashed Excerpt:

Cara knew this wasn’t fair to Ron. Even if he hated her afterward, he had a right to know why she’d left him. “We got
along great everywhere but in the bedroom. You’re just too…nice for me.”

“What the–? Too nice!” He gritted his teeth. “I was so careful with you–”

“Did I ask you to be careful?” Dammit, she wasn’t a bad person. Men didn’t apologize for liking kinky sex. Why should she? “You treated me like a porcelain doll, like I’d break if you looked at me cross-eyed.”

He leaned closer, his arms folded over his muscular chest. “I’m over a foot taller and a hundred pounds heavier than you. Was I supposed to body slam you to the floor and screw you senseless?”

“Yes!” God, it would have been wonderful if he’d been more sexually aggressive. “I loved you, Ron, but I can’t commit to a man whose lovemaking is so…”

“What? Boring?” He was being sarcastic, but his mouth dropped open as something in her eyes must have confirmed his comment. “This is crazy. I put you first every time. You want a selfish bastard who just cares about his own needs?”

He was crowding her personal space, and Cara’s anger spiked. “You can be generous in bed and still open to new things. Selfish and daring aren’t synonymous.”

“So, Cara, you want spice or kink?” His lips twisted. “Should I get a copy of the Kama Sutra?”

“I’m not ashamed of my desires.” She was tired of men scorning her for having a strong sex drive. “You’re the one who’s repressed. Ron Hart, Mr. Perfect Gentleman. Why keep such a tight leash on yourself? I’m not going to faint if you give into your urges.”

His pupils dilated and his jaw clenched, but she wasn’t afraid. Ron would never hurt her, but he might finally let his inner-caveman out. And if he threw off his good-boy manners and didn’t despise her for her fantasies, there might be a chance for them after all.

Ron’s gaze dropped to her mouth. His voice deep and sensual, he asked, “You want me to give in to my urges, Cara?”

Yes. God, yes. She’d had fantasies like this since she’d met him–Ron taking what he wanted from her, giving in to his wild side. Licking her lips in anticipation, she nodded.

 

 

 

About Marcia James:

 

Marcia James finaled in eleven Romance Writers of America contests before selling her first contemporary romance. Her releases include Sex & the Single Therapist (the first in a comic romantic mystery series) and the “Klein’s K-9s Service Dogs” contemporary romance series. A national and international ebook bestseller, she writes hot, humorous romances featuring heroines you can root for, heroes to die for, and funny dogs.

 

In her eclectic career, Marcia has shot submarine training videos, organized celebrity-filled nonprofit events, and had her wedding covered by People Magazine. After years of dealing with such sexy topics as how to safely install traffic lights, she is enjoying “researching” and plotting her novels’ steamy love scenes with her husband and hero of many years.

 

 

Find Marcia Here:

 

Website: www.MarciaJames.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Marcia_James

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/marciajames/

Amazon Author Central page: www.amazon.com/author/marciajames

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee and Ritual

As most of you know, I recently spent a week in Croatia, in Zagreb. I used to live there a hundred years ago. It was there that I learned to love coffee, strong, thick Turkish coffee with the grounds at the bottom of the cup. It’s still my favorite. I can’t go to Croatia and not think of coffee, and not take every opportunity to partake. Since that time, coffee has always been much more to me than just a caffeine fix. Coffee is a ritual, a symbol of hospitality, friendship, creativity, laughter and all that makes our connection with each other such an important part of our lives. For in introvert, that’s sometimes a difficult connection to make. Coffee definitely makes it easier.

 

 

When I was in Zagreb this time, I was reminded once again of just how much of a ritual sharing coffee still is. Croats can linger over coffee for ages. It’s an art form. It’s a national treasure. It’s a way of making time for what matters in a world that doesn’t do that nearly often enough. That ritual was one of the first things I learned when I came to Zagreb all those years ago, long before I learned my way around, long before I learned the language. A part of being welcomed into anyone’s home was always the serving of coffee poured from a jezma into demitasse cups. To this day it just feels wrong to drink coffee from a paper cup.

 

 

Sitting in the sun on the terrace of a coffee shop near St. Catherine Square taking in the city below, I found myself listening to people chatting over coffee. I felt a sense of continuity, something unbroken that connects me to the girl I was, the girl who came here so many years ago. When I met friends and made new friends it was over coffee, coffee that we lingered over, coffee made all the better for the laughter and the good company.

 

 

There are many things that connect me to those years in Zagreb. There are some memories that hurt bone deep even now. But there are so many more that make me smile, make me so glad for my time there. That coffee tradition is one that I took with me, a ritual that evolved and changed became my own wherever I’ve lived since.

 

I dated my husband over coffee in Croatia – long lingering cups of strong coffee with whipped cream. We still have quality time over coffee – cold brew now, or Italian mocha. My early mornings are always best with coffee in hand before I set down to write. I equate coffee with opening the creative gateways inside me. I equate coffee with preparation for amazing things.

 

 

On the long cross-country walks Raymond and I have done, no matter the weather, we always carried a flask of coffee. I equate coffee with sitting on the top of a high fell admiring the breathtaking view below with a biscuit and a shared cuppa.

 

I equate coffee with quality time spent with my sister, who has always loved coffee. Even when we Skype, I make sure to have coffee at the ready so we can share that experience, even if we are half a world apart. Come to think of it, I equate coffee with quality time spent with many of my good friends. The two seem to go hand in hand.

 

 

I equate coffee with quality reading time stolen in quiet coffee shops. In those times I make it a point to embrace the Croatian practice of lingering, making my Americano last as long as possible so I can steal just a few more minutes lost in a good book.

 

Friends, laughter, conversation, creativity, love, adventure – coffee has come to be associated with all of those things in my life. For me there are no coffees to go, no coffees gulped mindlessly. There are other drinks for that, but never coffee. It’s not a drink to be rushed. It’s an experience to be savored, an experience rooted in memory at the heart of me. A week in Zagreb brought it all home to me again – something that is so much a part of my life, something that is one of the best gift I took away from those years in Croatia – not the coffee itself, but the depth and the vibrancy of what it represents to an entire culture and what it has come to represent in my every day life.

 

 

Magda Agrees to Cover Shots: New Covers for Medusa’s Consortium

 

The Medusa’s Consortium series is getting a new look! AND the lady herself finally consented to do a cover shot. Not sure how she managed it without her glasses, or without turning the photographer into stone, but the Queen of Scary has her secrets, and I’m happy to say that both photographer and cover designer are safe and still in the flesh. Though it was touch and go for the novelist there for a little while.

 

 

And what did it take to convince Magda Gardener/AKA Medusa to appear on the new covers of the stories of her Consortium, you may ask. Well I’m still flesh and blood, so she got over her huff with little damage done. However, she did say it would cost me majorly, something along the line that my arse is now hers. As if it wasn’t already. It didn’t hurt that she got on well with Emmy Ellis and the lovely folks at Studeoenp. I think I actually heard that she and Emmy are having coffee together sometime next week.

 

 

I have no idea what the cost will be in the long run. Magda Gardener has a way of calling in debts when you least expect it. She always gets her pound of flesh with interest. Still, I think it was worth it, don’t you? I’m willing to pay.

 

 

Regulating our Fantasies

(From the archives)

This little post about safe sex in fiction is one that I’ve shared several times because it’s always relevant. A big part of my switch to more and more paranormal and urban fantasy fiction is because no on questions whether sex is safe with a vampire or a demon. Unsafe sex goes without saying. PNR and Urban fantasy are wonderful ways to explore our more dangerous desires in story. Plus I love writing it. Enjoy the post and whatever you’re reading at the moment, enjoy it with abandon.  — KD xx

 

The topic of safe sex in erotic fiction comes up all the time amongst writers and readers. I recently had a run-in with
someone who was disturbed by the fact that the characters in my novels, and most of my short stories, don’t wear condoms. It’s true. They don’t. They don’t because they live in the fictional world I’ve created, an erotic world designed to play out my fantasies and, I hope, those of other people as well. The truth is that never once have I had an erotic fantasy that involved the use of a condom. I have written a couple of stories in which condoms are used, but in those stories, I didn’t use condoms to make a statement nor to assume that my readers needed reminding that in the real world, safe sex is a must. Rather, condoms played a role in the development of the story.

 

My stories are my fantasies, entirely and completely the product of my imagination. I’m a firm believer that my readers are intelligent and savvy and very aware of the world around them. I also understand that some people prefer their fiction and their fantasies more realistic. Fair enough. Fortunately for them, there are writers who prefer to write that way. I don’t happen to be one of them.

 

It’s ironic that the stringent rules and regulations that apply to erotic fiction do not apply to other kinds of fiction. I understand that some of those guidelines in erotica have to do with the publisher knowing the target audience. But In other types of fiction, subjects are covered all the time that are completely forbidden in most standard erotic guidelines for submission, and yet no one expects that readers of non-erotic fiction should need to be reminded that guns are dangerous and murder and rape are wrong.

 

I have written stories for which the submission guidelines demanded the use of condoms in all scenes involving penetrative sex. I gritted my teeth and wrote what the guidelines dictated. But it seems to me that the message such guidelines send is two-fold. First of all that because erotica is about sex, it’s automatically more dangerous than other types of fiction, and secondly that readers of erotica are just not as smart as readers of other types of fiction and they must have extra instruction and guidance to equip them for the reading of such dangerous material.

 

Do we really believe that people are more ignorant where erotic literature is concerned, and more likely to cause themselves and others harm than they are if they read any other kind of literature? Do we really believe that if the character in a story has a gang bang without the use of condoms that the reader will automatically think this must be what sex is all about, and go out and try it for her or himself?

 

Erotica is, by its very nature, the place where the reader can experience for him or herself what would never be considered safe in the real world, what, given the opportunity to do in the real world, given the opportunity to participate in, her or his response would be an unequivocal ‘No thanks.’ Is it any different than a thriller or a horror story, or an adventure novel?

 

The whole point of a novel is to live vicariously a life that one wouldn’t have the opportunity, and more than likely wouldn’t even want to live, if one did have the opportunity. Commercial fiction is all about vicarious thrills and vicarious experiences from the safety of our own home. That’s why reading is so much fun.

 

I believe readers should be given credit for discernment, credit for being as savvy about the differences between erotic fiction and reality as they are about the differences between other kinds of fiction and reality. I’m not saying that fiction can’t be didactic. And indeed part of the beauty of fiction is that it offers the inadvertent opportunity to learn something new. What I am saying is that I tell stories. I tell stories for fun in a world that, I think, could use more fun. If there are lessons taught, they come about inadvertently while I’m having fun telling a story. But I don’t feel a deep burning need
to tell my readers to do what they already know to do, what they’ve been aware of every moment of their lives from the
time their old enough to understand that the world is a dangerous place. And sometimes the world adults must live and function in can be a boring place as well. If they’re like me, and I assume at least some of them are, that dangerous world, that boring world, is a very large part of the reason they enjoy fiction so much.

 

And they enjoy it while they continue to stop for red lights and level crossings, while they continue to treat their fellow person with respect, and while they continue to practice safe sex, all without having to be reminded that these things are for their own good.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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