A ‘hot’ welcome to my fellow Coffee Talk author, Valerie Twombly. The first book in her Immortal series was digitally released last month. It will soon be available in print at Barnes and Noble. Settle back and enjoy the excerpt. If you like vampires with a twist, you are in for a treat.
A woman he cannot have, a man who is only a dream…
When guardian Marcus Dagotto, discovers the Gods have gifted him with a mate, he is pissed. He has no room for love and even less for a human who has no idea he exists.
Cassandra Jensen, has a shattered heart and has given up on men. Only one man can set her body on fire, but he is a fantasy that haunts her sleep.
Two worlds, one desire.
When the two collide, fate will rip them apart and test their resolve. Will darkness and evil prevail? Or, will love conquer all?
Resplendence Publishing: http://www.resplendencepublishing.com/m8/609-978-1-60735-700-1–eternal-flame-immortal-guardians-book-one-by-valerie-twombly.html
Barnes & Noble: Coming soon
Tears stung Marcus’s cheeks when he raised his sword. “I am so sorry, love. I have failed you. It should be I who dies this day.”
Eliza’s cocoa eyes looked at him but didn’t see him. Dead inside, her soul was lost. She would never again be the woman he loved.
He sucked in a breath and flexed his arms, the sword swung, slicing across her neck. The blade tore through sinew and bone and sent her head rolling across the stone floor. Reality nearly sent him to his knees, but there wasn’t time to mourn the death of his mate. The fighting outside echoed in his ears, the demons were strong and put up one hell of a fight.
Marcus advanced down the corridor of the abandoned castle. The scene played out the same in every direction. Blood bathed the floors, and his brethren’s heartsick screams echoed off the walls as they killed their mates.
A demon jumped out from behind a door. Its claws tearing the flesh on his arm. He wielded his sword and sent another head flying across the room. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a Draki dispatching another demon. The shifter, a friend who also searched for his mate. Not even the dragons were immune to Drayos and his fucking misery.
The dragon turned his head. “Be careful, my friend. My brethren will soon be setting this place on fire.” Caleb’s cerulean body shimmered as he shifted back to human form.
“Have you found your mate yet?” Marcus asked as he searched the adjoining room. Empty.
“Not yet, you?”
He stepped beside his friend. “I killed her.”
Caleb laid a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry, my friend. Drayos will die this day for what he has done.”
Marcus nodded and moved forward in his search for the demon Drayos. He opened up the psychic path leading to his prince. Aidyn.
Marcus, did you find my sister?
He closed his eyes, so many hearts broken today. She is dead, I am sorry, my lord.
I will kill Drayos with my bare hands.
Aidyn had already lost his brother and father in this battle. His pain ripped through Marcus. No doubt the other guardians felt it. It was a blessing and a curse to be connected to each other.
He tried to pinpoint the prince’s position, but something blocked him. Aidyn, where are you? Do not engage Drayos. The prince would die as well if he tried to kill the Demon Overlord. Aidyn was far too young; his two hundred years were no match against a thousand-year-old demon.
He took our women, used them to carry his spawn. He has killed everyone I love.
Tired muscles carried Marcus up a flight of stairs. He stormed from room to room, kicking in locked doors only to find them empty. I know my lord, and he will pay, but it is not wise for you to confront him. He knew Aidyn wouldn’t listen. Perhaps the gods would help.
“Zarek!” Marcus summoned the god, nothing. No surprise. After all, the gods could have stepped in and saved the women, but they had all been left to fate. Fuck fate, he was sick to death of it.
The sound of clashing swords filtered in from the hallway. He flashed into the room, not caring what he stumbled across. His vision filled with Aidyn and Drayos, they were face to face.
Drayos had morphed into a full demon and stood at least three feet taller than Aidyn. Blood seeped from the wounds that covered the demons blackened skin.
Marcus tried to run toward them but found himself behind an invisible barrier. “What the fuck?”
He balled his hands and banged on the wall. “Aidyn!” The prince ignored him. He was stuck, helpless as he watched the events unfold in front of him. Thoughts of telling Daria, his queen, she had lost her entire family in this battle sat like arsenic in his stomach. He pressed his palms against his prison. Aidyn, my friend, I can’t bear another loss today.
The air behind him shifted, a cool breeze lifted his hair. He moved his gaze over his shoulder and found Zarek towering over him in a Scottish kilt rather than his beloved Egyptian shendyt. His raven hair held a beaded braid on one side. So this is why he ignores us? He is busy playing dress-up with the goddess Quadira.
“Get me out of here!” he demanded.
“You will not interfere, my son.”
Marcus growled; his fangs elongated; he wanted blood. Yes, he would take the blood of his god if it ended the pain and suffering of his brethren. “You would let the prince die?” He tried to lunge toward Zarek but found his feet pinned to the floor. You are our creator, we your warriors. Why would you do this to us?
Zarek gave him a leveled gaze. “What makes you think the prince will die this day?”
He looked back toward the fight. Aidyn had lost his sword; a small dagger was clutched in his hand. Both the demon and the vampire bore bloody wounds.
He turned back to Zarek. “The prince is too young to fight one as strong as Drayos.” Marcus dropped to his knees, he would beg the god if he had to.
“Send me in his place…please.” He was three hundred years older than Aidyn and could defeat the demon. “We have lost so much today.” Death haunted him like a fucking plague. He was a healer, but today, he healed no one. The anguished cries of his brethren still echoed in his ears. They had slain their mates then turned on each other to end their misery. Marcus would like to end his suffering as well, but he would continue on; his skills were needed.
Zarek laid a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry, my son, for all the pain you will encounter this day. However, today must shape the future.” With those words, he vanished.
The future? Aidyn was their future, the line that tied them all together. They all hoped the prince would persuade the gods to find a cure for the curse Drayos had placed upon them.
The curse would devour them, creating an imbalance that would darken their souls. When Zarek created his vampires, he used light and dark, good and evil. The light fueled the guardian of humanity, the darkness the warrior. A perfect balance, but once Drayos’s curse took full effect, the light would fade, the darkness turning them into pure evil, destined to destroy everything in their path. Not even the humans they guarded would be safe.
He jumped to his feet but found the shield still erected around him. Aidyn’s body lie still on the floor, and Drayos stood over him, sword poised for the fatal blow.
He beat on the invisible wall. “Aidyn!” He sucked in a breath, his heart trapped in a vice that squeezed the life out of him. He could do nothing but watch his prince die. A tear slid down his cheek for the death of his mate, his brethren and now his prince, his best friend. I am no guardian. I am a failure. I have failed them all.
Drayos swung his sword. Everything moved in slow motion as Marcus waited for the blade to connect with Aidyn’s neck.
Lightning sizzled from the sky and sent debris flying in different directions. The room crumbled around them as the earth shook. Drayos’s head rolled across the floor. Marcus sensed the shield that encased him drop, and he rushed forward to where Aidyn stood.
“What the hell just happened? Are you alright?” Marcus asked.
“I am not exactly sure. I think I caused the lightning.”
“You?” He looked over the prince, his pants torn and his shirt missing. Dust from the debris covered his bleeding wounds. There was something different about the prince. He seemed stronger. Marcus noticed the dark marking on Aidyn’s chest and reached out to wipe away the gray dirt so he could get a better look. “Sweet deity!” He jumped back.
“What?” Aidyn looked at his chest. His jaw dropped. “I never felt it.”
Like many of the other guardians, Aidyn had been given his mark. An indication of his position and abilities. Marcus bore the Ankh, a pair of angel wings spread out over the top. The ancient symbol meant life or living. A healer, able to repair the sick or injured with his energy.
The naked skin over Aidyn’s left breast bore the mark chosen by the gods. The eye of Ra, the symbol of protection and power, sat atop a pyramid encased by a blazing sun. This could only mean…
His thoughts interrupted by the almost unrecognizable voice. Father?
Come to me, son.
Aidyn touched his shoulder. “I am fine, let us go help your father.”
Together they flashed to the position his father communicated. When Marcus arrived, his father was on his knees holding the bloody, headless body of his wife, Marcus’s mother. His sword lay beside him covered in blood. He knew what had happened. His mother’s belly heavy with child. Drayos’s demon spawn had been growing inside her, and like the other women, her soul had been darkened. There was no cure, Marcus had tried to heal Eliza, but it had proved fruitless. Like him, his father had taken the head of the woman he loved.
“Father.” He knelt next to the frail man and placed his arm around his shoulder, pulling him tight to his side. “I am so very sorry.” Tears welled in his eyes, he refused them escape. He would remain strong for the man beside him.
His father looked at him, his eyes rimmed red. “You will do the honorable thing.”
Marcus closed his eyes, again. He would have to mourn later. “Yes,” he whispered. How much more destruction could he take before he crumbled? Somewhere, he would find the strength needed to end his father’s misery and begin his own.
“Take care of your sister.” It was the last command his father would ever give him.
“I will. I love you.” He kissed the man on the cheek then stood, his sword flashed through the smoke-filled sky and sliced through his father’s neck.
Marcus dropped to his knees, the heartache so severe he nearly passed out. His lungs contracted as he screamed to the heavens. Another failure, so many broken hearts he was unable to heal. Why couldn’t he heal the broken hearts?
Strong arms circled him from behind and held him tight. “I have you, my friend,” Aidyn whispered.
About the Author
As a child, Valerie would often get into trouble for peeking at her mother’s favorite TV show, Dark Shadows. She can still hear her mother saying “It will give you nightmares.” She was right of course, but that did not stop Valerie from watching. As an adult, her love of the fanged creatures never waned. She would watch any vampire movie she could find.
Being a true romantic, Valerie was thrilled when she discovered the genre of paranormal romance. Her first read was one of Lara Adrian’s, Midnight Breed Series and from there she was hooked.
Today, Valerie has decided to take her darker, sensual side and put it to paper. When she is not busy creating a world full of steamy, hot men and strong, seductive women, she juggles her time between a full-time job, hubby and her two German shepherd dogs, in Northern IL.
Congratulations to Meghan Stith for participating in the Halloween Seduction Hop. She won a $15.00 Amazon gift card.
I hope all participants will join me again for my Christmas ebook release. Check in for details early next week. I’m hoping to give away some great books from my fellow Coffee Talk Writers.
In the meantime, I hope everyone had a great All Hallow’s Eve. Luckily, nothing followed me home this year.
Halloween Trivia to Die For
Halloween Legend: Count Dracula is a member of the Undead who may shapeshift into a bat. He ventures out only at night to hunt for victims but must return to his coffin before sunrise. Only a wooden stake driven through his heart can kill him.
Real life counterpart: Vlad Tepes was a son of the governor of Transylvania. Early in his career, he fought against the Turks in his father’s name and quickly earned a reputation of a cruel and unforgiving enemy. In 1462, when the Sultan reached his capital after a long campaign, dead subjects hanging from spikes welcomed him home. The scene was later nicknamed “The Forest of the Impaled”, and it established Vlad as a formidable adversary.
In his own principality, he maintained a “no tolerance” system of justice. Impalement became the most common form of justice for any crime from lying or stealing to murder. Confident in his intimidation tactics, he placed a golden cup in the town square of Targoviste for thirsty travelers. It was never stolen during Vlad’s reign. As crime and corruption dwindled, the people hailed Vlad Tepes as a hero for reinstating honesty and order.
Here is a quote on vampires from Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary written in 1746:
These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs, after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made this good cheer.
Have a safe and Happy Halloween.
Trick or Treat: Be sure to stop by one last time and enter to win. Click below for mine and click on the picture for bigger and better and better prizes.
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In honor of All Hallow’s Eve and my fellow Coffee Talk authors of Paranormal Romance, I will be posting eerie and bizarre tidbits throughout the next week. As a lover of history, we will look at a few of the better known Halloween legends that began with some basis in truth. Win some prizes while exploring fun holiday facts.
Let’s begin with my Romance Review below. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney carried on an infamous love affair at the turn of the century. But in the end, it went terribly wrong. Some say it was their ‘just desserts’ for their blatant immorality. You be the judge.
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Looking forward to your comments. And remember to keep a light on and the wooden stakes, salt and silver bullets by your bedstand.
In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A modern classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page. These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated. And ever so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.
By Nancy Horak
Published: 2007 Publisher: Ballantine Books POV: Third person
Setting: Oak Park, IL and Spring Green, WI 1907-1914
Spoiler alert! A true story with the ending discussed in graphic detail.
Loving Frank is an historical romance about the love affair between architect Frank Lloyd Wright and feminist Mamah (Mahmuh) Borthwick Cheney. In the beginning, we think: classic boy meets the right girl at the wrong time. Although both Frank and Mamah were married, the attraction proved too strong to resist.The affair became headline news and reporters followed their journey from a passionate escape to Europe, their cold welcome home to the ghastly, abrupt end of their relationship.
Even in childhood, Mamah Borthwick considered herself an outsider and chose books for her closest friends. The written page filled her mind with adventures and she longed to ‘do something’ with her life. As a young woman, she left her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois and attended the university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, she caught the freedom bug and a feminist flu. Hoping to become an author in support of the Woman Movement, she moved to Port Huron to teach high school and later ran the public library. After six years, her determination to maintain her independence waned as one by one, her friends married and family became their new focus.
Edwin Cheney lost his heart to Miss Borthwick on their first meeting and vowed to win her hand. She saw thirty drawing close and realized independence also meant loneliness. His persistence finally convinced Mamah to give up the ‘modern’ life and give in to conformity. Her life took on a comfortable routine. With the birth of a son, Mamah soon convinced herself that contentment and affection were a fair substitute for passion.
Frank Lloyd Wright, an eccentric, up-and-coming architect, had made a name for himself and his Prairie Houses outside of Chicago. The focus on nature in the construction of a home became a hot trend for those who could afford it. The simplicity and open concept of his design appealed to men; his charming manner and larger than life personality appealed to women.
Enter: the Cheneys. Edwin commissioned Wright to build a Prairie House in Oak Park. Since her husband worked long days, Mrs. Cheney handled most of the consultations throughout the project. The housewife and architect found they were kindred souls intellectually. Just as they considered becoming intimate, Mamah discovers she is pregnant and refuses to see Frank again.
Jump ahead several years later. Frank Lloyd Wright is speaking to a group of women in Oak Park. Mamah knows it is dangerous to attend the presentation but can’t help herself. The moment their eyes connect, the reader knows there can only be one conclusion.
This is a story of a woman who gave up everything for love. Yet with this sacrifice, she eventually finds her own self worth and makes a name as a literary translator. While she never regretted her decisions, the reader is left to wonder if she would have done it differently if given the choice.
It is the account of a man who considered his talent a gift to the world and only Mamah could keep him grounded. The reader learns not only the intricacies behind Frank’s genius but the flaws within the man as well. He left behind a legacy accompanied by a mountain of unpaid bills.
Nancy Horan accurately describes the time period with intellect, humor and grace. She plops the reader in the middle of Europe, sipping tea in a German or French cafe and introduces us to the social radicals of the time. We share the frustration of women at the turn of the century as they struggle to transform their roles in a changing society. The author also brings us step by step through the construction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s beloved home, Taliesin. We are transported into an extraordinary time when architecture began to alter not only the landscape but the world.
I thought this story appropriate for October and Halloween because of the brutal murders of Mamah and her children. John was twelve and Martha only nine years old. In August of 1914, a disgruntled household servant, Julian Carlton, dished up lunch as usual for the master’s family. He then went outside, locked all the doors except for one, poured gasoline around the perimeters of the house and lit a match. Back inside, he took an axe to the family, split their skulls and watched them burn. Other staff, eating in another part of the home, smelled smoke and ran for the only open door. An axe greeted them as they exited. Martha lived for several hours so severely burned she was unrecognizable. Mamah’s ex-husband dug through the ashes to find his son’s bones. Frank Lloyd Wright rebuilt Taliesin only to watch it burn again. He never fully recovered from the tragedy. I found this novel to be engaging and thought-provoking.
A few times in the middle of the novel, I skimmed a chapter or two. Yet, I also found myself hoping that the novel would end differently and my heroine would live happily ever after. A huge a happy-ever-after fan, I cannot give five mugs but highly recommend it with four to fans of historical romance, Frank Lloyd Wright or architecture.
In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.
These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, it is worn, earmarked and loved. And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.
By LaVyrle Spencer
POV: Third person
Setting: Georgia, 1941
Ellie had few social skills and little knowledge of human nature except malice and distrust. Born out of wedlock, she was raised in isolation, by an aggrieved mother and cynical grandmother (widow of a cheating minister.) She married the first man who showed her kindness. A beekeeper and hoarder of junk, he died after falling from a tree onto his beloved beehives. Crazy Widow Dinsmore is left with two young boys, a baby on the way, and a ramshackle property.
She needs a handyman but the townspeople would rather gossip about her past than come to her aid. So she gives them something to talk about with an ad in the newspaper. Wanted-A Husband. Need healthy man of any age to work a spread and share the place. See E. Dinsmore, top of Rock Creek Road.
Will Parker is a drifter and an ex-con. He can’t seem to escape his past. After three days, his boss discovers his conviction of first-degree murder and fires him. With no money and a growl in his belly, he is reduced to stealing a clean shirt and jeans from a backyard clothesline. The ad he previously saw in the newspaper no longer seems a joke but a possibility for his future.
The love story that evolves between Ellie and Will is slow, natural and sweet. Both complement one another in temperament and life skills. She longs for recognition as a woman and needs a partner and a friend. He dares to hope for love and craves validation as human being after a life of ridicule and abuse.
LaVyrle places two complicated characters into a simple, believable setting. She avoids the usual hero/heroine conflicts or misunderstandings and instead offers real life bumps in the romance. World War II, the Draft and narrow-minded people threaten the couple’s happiness. Their journey will make you laugh, cry and smile through your tears.
All of Ms. Spencer’s books have that one scene to make the reader pause with sadness, joy, desperation or wonder. In Morning Glory, Will enters Ellie’s home for a meal after working on her property and he points to the sink. The description of intense pleasure he feels as warm water flows over his hands makes the reader want to wrap her arms around this deprived and lonely man. Ellie begins to fall in love as she watches his reaction to this simple act, and knows she has found a kindred soul. We glimpse the beaten down boy and root for the man he becomes through her love. We watch as Ellie draws her strength from him and fights to keep the life they have built.
The sensual level is sweet. The sex scenes are the weakest part of the story. But the emotion pulls your heartstrings and does not disappoint. Plump up the pillow, grab the Kleenex box, sit back and enjoy.
Although LaVyrle Spencer retired in 1997, she remains one of my favorite authors and her books will never leave my shelf. She has won five RITA awards, been on the New York Times best seller list over a dozen times and consistently sold over 1.5 million copies with each new cover. I believe new readers who ‘discover’ Ms. Spencer will only be disappointed by the fact that no new titles will come our way.