Spring Giveaways and Gossip

 

Spring is upon us at last my Lovelies!

 

Er … well according to the calendar, at least, and the wind March is so notorious for seems to have played itself out at long last. That’s a great start! There are buds on the trees, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths are blooming themselves silly and best of all, the days are getting longer. That means more hours of reading time! Well, okay, maybe not technically, but who doesn’t like to read in the sunshine? That being the case, let’s get on with this month’s fab giveaways and gossip.

 

 

Heat Heart and Happily Ever After Paranormal Giveaway

 

If you’re a fan of the fabulous love lives of witches and vamps, shifters and demons, this is the giveaway for you. Or if you just want to check out how the preternatural half lives, here is your chance. Follow the link and enjoy a great spine tingling, goose bump raising, steamy HEA!

https://books.bookfunnel.com/heathearthappilyeverafter/ai496xm99o

 

 

Spring Steamy Romances

 

We’re talking contemporary romance … LOTS of contemporary romance! Nothing says spring like a good HEA, unless it’s a whole bunch of good HEAs. And when those fabulous steamy romances are FREE for the grabbing, how could spring not be in the air. Follow the link and get yourself some seriously sizzling spring romance.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/f9h832hfkk/9mqvbc3mgo

 

 

Listening to my Inner Demon

 

And did I mention demons? Well at least one demon anyway. The Guardian has
pulled a bit of a switch-up on me, and so have Circe and Richard Waters AKA Poseidon, so there has been some serious back tracking and rewriting going on in A Demon’s Tale,but hopefully at some point all my characters will be satisfied with the plot enough to leave me alone and let me write.

 

There’s an excerpt from A Demon’s Taleon my blog you’ll want to check out, and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the juicy interview with Elise North. Seems our Elise is full of surprises that even the Guardian is impressed by.

 

 

A New Excerpt from A Demon’s Tale

It’s rough and ready … well getting that way, but here is a new excerpt from my WIP
A Demon’s Tale to tease you and appease you for the long wait. Book Four of the Medusa Consortium Series, and the novel in which all the characters decided to take control away from the writer. Sigh! Negotiations are in progress.

 

The Demon Begs a Favour

It was the early hours when he came to her again. Susan had drank more wine than she could have ever tolerated before she became a vampire, and still it barely took the edge off. She was considering taking on Magda’ drink of choice to up the ante, but it didn’t really seem to be any more effective on her, so she figured the woman drank single malt for comfort more than effect. She understood that. Upstairs in their room Michael slept. She figured everyone else in the house slept. Magda had sent the jet to Manchester for both Annie and Alonso. Annie didn’t need to be alone and she reckoned Reese would need Alonso, and Susan. And she would need them both as well as Michael if the shit hit the fan, and when was the shit not hitting the fan these days. She slouched in front of the fireplace where the fire she did not need blazed. Her Mac cast a pale light across her desk behind her, open to a nearly blank document. It said only “Just because you dream it, doesn’t mean it’s not real.” It made no sense in terms of anything but her own suffering, and yet that single statement kept coming back to her. The fact that everything would take place in the Guardian’s dream construct, perhaps was playing on her and not allowing her to see more clearly.

She still would not allow herself to sleep even though she had been assured she was safe in the dream world at the moment. Talia had even offered to take her to the dream world succubus style. But she couldn’t sleep even if she wanted to, not when the Guardian was soon to strip aside all that he was becoming and face the witch with everything that had made him so terrifying and so irresistible and dangerous to everyone in the world, human and otherwise. This he was doing, in no small part, because of her, and he had left thinking she did not trust him. So lost was she in her thoughts that when he all but burst into that space inside her mind, she jumped.

“Susan, I have very little time. The witch is stronger that I remember her to be. Oh do not worry, I shall succeed in my mission,” he crowded in tight and gave her no room to speak, and the pressure in her chest from the weight of him was almost unbearable. “I cannot linger, but I must beg of you a favor before the witch is upon me and I must be other than I am with you and those we love.”

“Anything.”

She regretted her words instantly at his request. “You must not believe anything you glimpse in my dream world, for I will not be myself, but I hunger, Susan, I hunger knowing what she will give to me willingly. I do not wish it so but it must be if I am to complete my task.” Still he gave her no room to speak. “I ask that when I have done what I must, when I return, if I … if I can no longer remember what I am, what you and all our friends are to me, that you will, without the slightest delay, return me to the depths of isolation in the dungeon deep inside you, for I do not wish any of those I care about to suffer because of me, nor to see me as I was.”

“That won’t be necessary,” she managed, her blood roaring in her veins, every muscle in her body aching to stop him. “You’ll come back to us whole and more yourself than ever. I trust you.”

“I do not trust myself, Susan, so I beg you promise me.”

“Please don’t –”

“Please, Susan, I beg you!” his urgency bled through into the room, terrifying her in ways she would have never expected.

“If it comes to that, I will,” then she added quickly, “but it won’t. I know it won’t.”

“Thank you, Susan,” the relief bled through his voice in a way she had never heard before. “I must go. She will come soon.”

“G,” she was surprised at how easily the simple name he had allowed Elise North to give him came to her now, and she sensed him turning, pausing, taking in the sound of it coming from her lips. “Do what you have to and hurry back to us.”

And then he was gone, his absence aching along her nerve endings and exploding into her chest into the vast chasm his absence always left. And just like that, she understood. Just like that, the spell appeared in her head.

She grabbed her cell phone and called Talia. “Get up here now.” She didn’t wait for a response, but settled in front of the computer, where the words she had written now made perfect sense, and the spell became clear. Typing frantically, she called the Guardian back to her for the briefest of moments, feeling his anxiety snake across her skin like static electricity. “Can you hold Circe off for just a little longer? The spell has come to me,” she said without pausing from her efforts. Then she opened her mind to him so he could see exactly what the spell involved.

“Will the succubus agree?” He asked with quiet calm.

Just then Talia knocked, but burst into the room without waiting for a response. “What?” was all she said, but her breath caught with a little hitch the moment she saw Susan at her laptop. Without another word she moved to stand behind her and read over her shoulder. Susan felt the Guardian as though he stood looking over her other shoulder. For a long moment Talia said nothing, and then she let out a long, slow whistle. “You are one crazy bitch, Susan Innes.” Then she bent and kissed her cheek. “I’ve always liked that about you.”

 

 

 

The Side Effects of a Good Read

I’ve spent the last week dragging around with a brutal cold. I’m very seldom ill, and almost never ill enough to take to bed. But this time, without full brain function, it seemed the expedient thing to do — lousy timing or not. While I groused and grumbled between sniffles and sneezes, aches and pains, I also made a discovery. I did have enough brainpower to lose myself in a good read. Since I wasn’t sleeping well for the first couple of nights, I took full advantage, binge rereading Naomi Novik’s wonderful Temeraireseries, while snuffling and coughing and feeling sorry for myself. Who doesn’t feel better after quality time spent with a dragon?

 

I’m on the mend now. Though I’m still dragging, still dealing with the after effects. But here’s the thing. Being forced to take some down time and fully indulge in the pleasure of a good read was worth every sniffle and ache. It’s not that I don’t do my best to make sure there’s reading time in my schedule. It’s just that it’s often the first thing to go when that schedule gets tight. It’s sad that it takes a nasty bug to remind me that reading is far more than just my duty as a writer. It’s far more than just a frivolous pleasure; it’s a priming of the pump, a feeding of the creativity, a grounding for the storyteller in me.

 

Creativity cultivates creativity, and being inspired by the works of other people’s imaginations is one of the best ways I know of to be more productive and more creative myself. Sadly that fact is one of the easiest things for a busy writer to forget. I’m willing to bet it’s one of the easiest things for most of us to forget, whether we write or not.

 

I used to read every novel with the idea of learning how to be a better writer – whether the novel was a good one or not. Now I’m way less likely to even finish a poorly written novel. Time is too valuable. More often now I hold out for the really good novels, and I read them for the sheer pleasure of being drawn outside myself into another world, into another person, into an experience far different from my own. Coming off a good read, I’m reminded just exactly why the ancient storytellers in some cultures sat with kings and queens as their equals.

 

It’s far too easy to pick up all of our information in bits and pieces off social media

and the Internet. We’re connected in ways we could have never imagined even twenty years ago. But while all the information we could ever want and, in some cases WAY too much, is available at our fingertips, the magic, the real magic, only happens when we slow down, back away and let the storytellers enthrall us.

 

Buffy, Anita and Vampire Lurve

It all started with Frank Langella’s 1979 film version of Dracula and the scene of the
seduction of Lucy.  I was a university student at the time with libido through the roof and an imagination to match. Oh, the fantasies! I couldn’t keep from wondering, even back then, just why those vampire seductions, those “turnings,” which were quite often so outrageously sexy, had to end with the turnee becoming the turner’s mindless minion and hideous restaurant. I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the exchange was a little more equitable.

 

The first vampire stories I ever read were Anne Rice’s Lestat novels. I always found it disappointing that, in her books, while those turnings, those makings of fledgling vampires, were often little more than a disturbingly sexy rape, the vampires themselves, once turned, were very sensual but specifically not sexual. I wanted it all. I wanted the turnees fucked, turned and then fucked some more. But finally! halleluiah! Buffy and Anita happened.

 

“Seriously? Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” That was my initial response when I first saw the film at my sister-in-law’s house a hundred years ago. But I her teenage girls were watching it on cable, so what could I do but watch along … with bated breath.

 

“Really? They actually made a television series out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” That was my first reaction when I was bored-channel-surfing one evening a year of so later and came across an early episode. “Are they that hard up for subject matter,” I groused. And then I watched it … all seven seasons of it … some more than once.

 

“Oh you have got to be kidding? Derivative much?” That was what I thought the first time I saw one of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels. “Another vampire slayer? Haven’t vampires been done to death?” No pun intended. But I read them… well not all, but a good eight or ten or so…

 

With Buffy and Anita, at last we had arrived! The vampire slayers were now seducing the vampires, and making them tow the line. While the sex in Buffy had to be soft enough for evening television, not so the sex in the Anita Blake stories. Though in the early novels, the main character is celibate with a tendency toward heavy petting and heavier still neurotic angsting over it. But in both cases, seduction was always only a breath away. That sexy pull of the dark is what we live for, right? The cost for Buffy was devastating. For Anita the sexy vampire was just the beginning of a kinky, steamy and very neurotic paranormal journey. I felt like I had come home.

 

I never thought I’d write vampires. In fact, I balked at writing paranormal in general
until I realized that it was the perfect place to explore the darker side of the erotic without all the rules and regulations that restrict contemporary erotic fiction. But even so it was witches, demons and ghosts for me. I wasn’t brave enough to tackle vampires. And then Alonso Darlington burst on to the scene in Landscapes, which
was not only my first M/M story written for the Brit Boys on Boysboxed set, but Alonso was my first vampire. Back then I never dreamed he’d become so dear to my heart, and that he’d worm his way into being a key player in my Medusa’s Consortium series.

 

I’ve learned a great deal from vampires. Paranormal in general is a great way to explore the dark side of human nature. But I think vampires are the best way of all because they once were human, and they either tend to despise that which they used to be or yearn for what they’ve lost. Both responses are so utterly human and both
are equally fascinating. Vampires provide the perfect place to contemplate that age-old question: Who are the realmonsters? Quite often, they’re not who I think. Quite often the worst of them live down deep inside me. Oh Freud, where are you when we need you?

 

Once I started writing paranormal stories, I found them particularly freeing. No one insists on vampires and shifters and other scary dudes wearing condoms. It’s pretty much a given that there is nothing safe about fucking a vampire or a demon, and if the whole idea doesn’t scare the reader as much as it turns her on, then what’s the point?

 

From long before Frank Langella to Buffy to Anita and to everything since, there has always been a very close relationship between fear and arousal, which in my humble opinion makes the arousal even more arousing. The iconic sex scenes between the young and beautiful couple in a horror movie is always followed by the ghoul, serial killer or other baddie murdering the lovers in a horrible way. A part of what is so arousing about paranormal sex is the breaking of so many taboos, the attraction to something that the world says should horrify us. Oh we’re no less horrified for our attraction, if anything we’re more so. That combination of attraction and repulsion makes us doubt ourselves for feeling things we shouldn’t. Sound familiar?

 

In paranormal stories that boundary between what arouses us and what terrifies us is so deliciously permeable that crossing it can get us into all kinds of trouble and then some. But crossing that boundary also brings with it the possibility of gifts and powers and abilities as well as a tumble into sex raised to something both divine and diabolical.

 

What is forbidden in erotica by most publishers doesn’t apply to paranormal. Some of the most erotic scenes I’ve ever read are of vampires taking blood from or giving blood to their lovers. In fact in some novels the sharing of blood enhances the pleasure exponentially. Blood holds within it life and identity. It contains the magic of who we are as individuals. We don’t have to lose a whole lot if it before we die. It also is the transport for horrific diseases, a river of both life and contagion that terrifies us as much as it fascinates us. That it’s all contained in such a fragile sensitive vessel as the human body only amplifies its preciousness and its power.

 

Vampire stories are the perfect place to explore dubious consent and loss of control. When dealing with vampires, demons, witches and magic, is consent ever less than dubious? Is there any better place to explore safely that total loss of control that comes from giving oneself over to the forbidden? Isn’t that really what the archetypal stories of seduction by the gods is all about? In the arms of a monster, with all our human frailties, there’s no guarantee of survival. And then there’s the terrifying thought of what we will become if we survive. How can we not be forever changed – for good or for ill. How can the resulting story not be intriguing?

 

The truth is that while we might be happy to dabble in the darker side of our sexuality, on a fundamental level, the very act of sex is frightening. It is the losing of self in the other, the opening to the unknown. It is the allowing ourselves to be more
vulnerable than we are in any other act. It is the giving up of control. All of these elements are, by nature, a part of sex — sex that carries at its core both the possibility of conception and of death. The vampire’s tale is an augmentation of all of those elements, a sharpening of their edges to take us into unexplored territory beyond la petit mort.

 

That all we fear and all we desire in sex can be raise to the nth degree when placed in a paranormal setting and examined from the intimately terrifying safety of a book or a film or a television series allows us to vicariously experience the darker side of our desires. I would suggest that there are few better ways to explore our humanity than taking an erotic journey with the monsters in the dark who are more like us, and far closer to us, than we can easily admit.

 

What Does it Take to Get You There?

Today is a red letter day for me. Three years ago I reached my goal of losing 35 pounds. Three years on, I’ve maintained my new weight and am still enjoying the healthy lifestyle and enjoying the benefits.

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve  come to love working out, and that for me it’s always been a creative process. That’s why I joined a pole dance class twenty months ago, and I’m still loving it. Next weekend will be my second pole shoot. I shared the  journey of getting to that first pole shoot with all of you lovelies last year.

 

For me, the fitness journey began as a way to combat depression. I hadn’t expected it to be such a life-changing experience. One of the reasons I do enjoy it is because I consider a workout a creative process. I know how to put together a routine for myself with any equipment or with none at all. And now that I have my own pole at home, I am beginning to make up my own workouts for pole as well. What does it take to get you there? I suppose that’s the big question I asked myself every day along the journey, whether it’s fitness, maintaining my weight, or writing, and I still do. It’s also the big question of my novella In Training. What do you want? How badly do you want it? And what does it take to get you there?  What inspires you enough to make you pull out all the stops and totally go for … well for anything that really matters?

 

My own journey being what it has been, it’s not surprising that my heroine, PR guru Lauren Michaels, has to find her own reason for pushing herself. A gym is the last place she wants to be, but her boss has just made her the ‘get fit’ star in a reality fitness TV show with bad boy personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, who will get her there even if he has to drag her kicking and screaming. At least that’s his plan. But it’s only when she finds her reason to push that Lauren decides she really wants to “get there,” and she wants to do it with Wolf Jennings. Here’s a little excerpt.

 

In Training Blurb:

Getting fit on reality TV is PR guru, Lauren Michael’s, brainchild for gym equipment and fitness company Physicality, Inc. The brilliant PR stunt involves one brave volunteer who wants to be fit badly enough to submit to the not so tender training techniques of personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, whose successful, but non-conventional, methods would make a drill sergeant look like a fluff ball. But when CEO and owner of Physicality, Inc, Claire Amos, decides her PR ace in the hole needs to walk the talk , Lauren finds herself between a kettle bell and a hard place … er a hard trainer. That’s nightmare enough, but for six weeks, 24/7 the explosive chemistry between the two will be sweated out live on camera for the whole world to see. What could possibly go wrong?

 

Wanna Bet? In Training Excerpt:

“On your knees, Michaels! Do it on your knees. You can’t do a full press-up until we strengthen those spaghetti arms. Do it like this.” He demonstrated the modified press-up. “Now I want you to do as many as you can in thirty seconds.” While thirty seconds lasted forever, as many press-ups as Lauren could do didn’t take long at all before she fell to the mat with her arms trembling. “Damn it Michaels, you gotta be willing to push yourself. I can’t do it for you.” He reset his timer. “Do it again.”

 

“Well this isn’t an auspicious beginning, Misty,” Del Allan said as they observed the training session going on in the gym below. “As much as I admire Claire Amos for believing her people should walk the talk, it’s clear to me that Lauren Michaels’ heart just isn’t in it. One has to wonder why the waste of time, energy and money for someone who doesn’t want to be here when there are so many who really do. I’ve said it before, I hope Physicality has a back-up plan because I’m betting Lauren Michaels won’t make it to the end of the week.”

“The real question, Del, is not whether Wolf Jennings can ‘get someone there,’ but whether he can motivate someone to wanthim to. Certainly this is a world away from what Lauren is used to, and apparently she didn’t know she’d be participating until twenty-four hours before.”

 

It was near the end of the fourth day when Lauren finally broke. “I can’t do any more,” she gasped after what seemed like miles of lunge walking back and forth across the gym with a dumb bell in each hand — dumb bells that got heavier with each step. “I need the hot tub. When do I get to use the hot tub?”

“When you’ve earned it,” Jennings growled. “Now do it again.”

“I hate you,” she forced the words out, no longer caring if the ever-present cameras picked up her remark or not. She reckoned that would be one more reason for the ‘sack Lauren and hire me’ faction to tweet nasty things about her. It’s not as if she wouldn’t trade places with them in a heartbeat.

“I’m not here for you to like,” came the reply. “Keep your back straight, shoulders back. Head up!”

She was halfway across the gym when one of the dumb bells slipped from her sweaty fingers, hit the floor with a loud crash, and she tripped over it doing into a belly flop in the middle of the gym.

“Get up. Keep going,” Wolf yelled, jogging effortlessly to her side. “Don’t be a wimp, Michaels. Finish it. I don’t train babies. Stop whinging and keep going.”

“I hate you.” This time she all but yelled it as she hefted the sweaty dumb bell and forced her way forward a couple more steps before she dropped the weight again — this time on her foot. It was only a glancing blow. She jerked away just in time, but it was enough. It was fucking enough! She dropped the other weight next to its fallen compadre and stormed back across the gym.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” He said, “You’re not done yet.”

“Oh yes I am.” She grabbed up her sports drink and her towel.

“What? Are you a quitter, Michaels?” Jennings stepped in front of her effectively blocking her way, “Is that it?”

“What I am is sick of you yelling at me, sick of you treating me like a sub-human.” She hadn’t planned it, but when he didn’t move, it just happened. A quick twist of the lid on her sports drink and she let it fly. Her aim was true, hitting Jennings in the face with a shower of bright orange Lukozade. Then she stomped off toward her room. She hadn’t expected him to follow her, but then there were a lot of things she hadn’t expected about the man she’d met at the pub less than a week ago.

Legs still screaming from the workout, she took the stairs two at a time with him gaining on her fast. At the top, he called after her. “They’re taking bets on how soon you’ll quit. Did you know that, Michaels?”

She stopped, dead in her tracks, as though she were suddenly frozen to the spot. For a second she squeezed her eyes shut, fighting back tears. Then she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and headed back toward the stairs, stopping in front of him to meet his cold glare. “Then they’ll lose.”

Fucking hell! Did she just say that? Surely she didn’t mean it. She would do almost anything to get out of this chamber of horrors, and yet here she was marching back downstairs, picking up the goddamned dumb bells, taking a deep breath and willing her legs to move forward. When she got to the end, instead of stopping, she gave Jennings a defiant glare, from where he now stood at the foot of the stairs, then she turned and headed back across. Somewhere a long way off, she could hear gasps and chatter from Wolf’s mezzanine fan club, but it didn’t matter. The world around her narrowed to the in and out drag of her breath, the pain in her quads and the slow step and lunge, step and lunge, that pulled her forward.

At the end, she dropped the dumb bells and bent over gasping, eyes clenched shut, hands on her knees. When at last she had the strength to stand up, she was surprised to find him next to, hair still dewed in orange. He handed her a bottle of water and a towel. While she drank, he wiped his face on his shirt.

She didn’t look at him, she was still battling the urge to cry. She knew all eyes were on her. After the drama she was now embarrassed to have caused, that was a given. But it was only Wolf Jenning’s eyes she felt in ways that were somehow even more intimate than his kiss at the pub. At last she handed him back the bottle and struggled to meet his gaze.

“That’s better,” he said. “Now drop and give me ten. Pull a stunt like that again and I’ll shove you on the treadmill till your Reeboks wear out.”

She did as he ordered, counting each press-up out loud and hardly feeling the effort, dazed as she was by what had just happened.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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