What is it about the dark? You know the shill about how our brains are still living in caves, cringing in fear during the hours of darkness when humans switched from being the hunters into being the hunted. (A notion recently disproven via some genome comparison wizardry – though how our brains have changed and the effect on specific psychological traits has yet to be laid out precisely.) Sure, here at Darker Temptations, when we say ‘dark’, we mean metaphorical dark – you, our beloved readers rushing in where angels fear to tread, allowing our heroes and heroines to risk their lives, their sanity and possibly their souls by walking face first into whatever scares them. Werewolves. Vampires. Demons. All of the things that could possibly go bump in the night and sure, some us DO mean that in the filthiest way possible. Authors have, in effect, turned a flashlight on in cemetery and have domesticated the creatures that once terrorized people. Our heroines routinely cuddle up with their vampires and some days I wonder what makes that romantically attractive. Then I buy more vampire porn (as one of my friends calls PNR) and just enjoy reading the stories.
But our topic this week is Even *Darker* Temptations. Humanity is rife with some horrific, fetid darkness. We’ve watched terrible things happen this past week in a pair of wars that have turned humans in two different parts of the world into utterly inhuman monsters. Throughout the past two decades, we’ve seen multiple instances of one person reducing another set of humans (usually women and children) into nonhuman possessions. Our identity as humans has been built upon the basis of human sacrifice – the blood, bones and suffering of countless men, women and children throughout prehistory. We, as a species, are a damned scary bunch. The fascinating piece (to me) is the slide from rational homo sapiens in the modern, civilized world into the twisted, inky jungles of the mind. What do you suppose has to happen to a person to make ripping the beating hearts from peoples’ chests in an effort to stave off the end of the world sound like a good idea?
What does darker mean to you? Are there shadowy corners of human fear and/or experience you wish an author would address?
I love demons. Well, Gena Showalter’s demons. Not her personal demons… Maybe I should start over.
Today I’m going to blab about the best sidekicks EVAH. Having been a fan of paranormal romance (PNR) and urban fantasy (UF) for years — though I won’t disclose how many years — means I’m always looking for good books, preferably long-running series. I’m sort of picky about voice. It’s my pet peeve to get a flat voice or a voice I don’t connect with. It’s not the author’s fault, typically, but just my little quirk. Anyhoo, it often seems as if I’ve read everything I could possibly read. Then I find something new. Gena’s Lords of the Underworld series is the freaking best thing I’ve read in ages. No, it’s not new. Yes, I’m ashamed I hadn’t read it sooner. The point here is that I found it and have fallen in love with every…single…alpha hero. I’m talking almost-leave-my-lover-for-a-fictional-character love.
One of the best parts of the series, though, is that each warrior is paired with a demon high lord (i.e. Paris = Promiscuity, Toren = Disease, Amun = Secrets). These demons serve as a type of sidekick, influencing the hero and driving their behavior. It’s a great pairing because it gives each warrior such a distinct motivation because his will isn’t always his own. Every demon has a unique personality as well, and it’s interesting to see the interplay between man and monster. While the monster influences man, so does man influence monster. The author gives you the distinct impression that each demon might be just a little better than he was simply by being affiliated with his warrior. The warrior has ethics the demon lacks. It doesn’t always matter, but as each warrior battles his own story arc, you see how the two must work together to conquer whatever challenge has been set before him.
The other thing I truly love in this series is that the characters carry forward in every book, demons included. I have no idea how Gena manages as well as she does, but you never lose sight of any single character. It’s a remarkable talent she has to keep every character in every book while still allowing the hero/heroine to have their story. I’ve never felt cheated out of the hero’s/heroine’s story, even as I celebrate the recurring roles of the men I’ve fallen in love with.
Who are your favorite sidekicks in literature, movies or TV? I’m always interested to find out what people like about characters!
I’m not much of a cook – just ask anyone in my family, and they would agree! So instead of food, I’m going to post two cocktails that I’m considering for my New Year’s Day party. Both of these drinks were inspired by one of my scenes in Sins of Lust – my paranormal m/m romance.
Now angels can’t hold Earth liquor too well, and Uri-el is no exception. And, I’m giving away a scene here so if you don’t want to read further… There’s a scene where Uri is at a bar and of course, being an otherworldly creature, the bartender is enamored with him. He insist on making him a drink called Angel Face. Yes, it’s really a cocktail I found on the Internet. Now Izar is irritated that the bartender can’t seem to take his eyes off of Uri and mutters that the appropriate drink for Uri is really a Devilish Daiquiri!
Here are the recipes for both of these wonderful concoctions!
(drink recipe from Diffords Guide: http://www.diffordsguide.com/cocktails/recipe/521/angel-face)
1 shot of dry gin
1 shot of calvados
1 shot of apricot brandy liqueur
Best glass to use: Martini glass and garnish with a very thin apples slice.
Hot Devilish Daquiri
(recipe from Drinks Mixer: http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink4333.html)
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar 2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
6 oz frozen lemonade concentrate
6 oz frozen limeade concentrate
1/2 cup light rum
In 2 qt. microproof casserole, combine hot water, sugar, spices, and concentrated juices. Stir, then cook on HI 5-6 minutes or until mixture boils. Heat rum in microproof container on HI for 30 seconds. Ignite and pour over hot beverage. Ladle into punch cups for serving.
It’d be pretty cool to light the punch bowl on fire but be careful!
Thou shall not kill.
For archangel Razi-el, he had no choice. He would break God’s commandment again if it were to save Uri-el from a demon’s talons. Yet even God’s most trusted archangel cannot avoid punishment. No longer Razi-el, he is now Izar, a Protector sworn to kill for the angels.
When a Protector kills an angel, Izar is summoned to work alongside Uri-el to capture the killer. Izar is shocked when his bloodlust spikes hot for the archangel. He knows better than to go after forbidden fruit. Refusing to give in to temptation, he ignores his body’s tempestuous arousal for Uri-el until a heated argument turns his blood into molten lust.
As they rush to find the killer, their passion plays into the demon’s plan. Izar will have to make a choice between life and death if he is to save Uri-el again.
There are a bunch of kick-ass, dark heroines around now, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Mejean Brook’s Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth from The Iron Duke, or Marjorie M. Liu’s Dirk and Steele series heroines come to mind when I think of dark, tortured women. I love them—their trials and backstories, the internal hurdles they face while fighting the external battles. There’s something so evocative about a woman with a past, with scars and fears she has to overcome, who often is resistant to love, usually with damn good reason. These are heroines we can root for, who reassure us that with strength and pride and a healthy dose of self-possession every obstacle can be overcome. A really great weapon doesn’t hurt either!
But here’s the thing. Of all the dark, tortured heroines I’ve read, I have a flat out favorite. She’s the heroine of a book I fell in love with even before it was published and went to bat for because I believed in it so much. Her name is Cia, an ice-road trucker and portal guard, and her story is told in A. C. Ruttan’s Incarnate. Full disclosure: A.C. is a friend and critique partner, but I know I’d have loved this book even if I didn’t know her from Eve.
Imagine being born an incarnate, having two souls, both of whom speak to you, one of which is normal, the other having once belonged to Boudicca. Yeah, I said Boudicca, warrior queen, all-round bad-ass. Worse, not only is Boudicca little changed from she was in life, but she has flashbacks to the events leading up to her death, and actually to that death itself. She also has little patience for any weakness and a wicked, abiding grudge against the Roman who caused all the ruckus in her life back in AD 60.
Not only does Cia have to contend with the duality of her nature and her constant battle to keep Boudicca from taking over every aspect of her personality, but someone’s killing other incarnates. And everyone thinks it’s Cia’s ex, Arthur. Then suddenly it seems Boudicca’s arch nemesis has risen from the mists of history, and Cia has to race across the frozen north to clear Arthur’s name and, oh, yeah, stop Armageddon too.
Can you say ‘shit-storm’?
Bring it on demon lords and other assorted bad guys. Cia’s ready to kick your ever-loving asses.
This isn’t a romance, but urban fantasy, complete with demons, unexpected resurrections and some of the best fight scenes you’ll read. And you’ll feel for Cia—so much. What she’s already gone through, what she’s now facing is more than any woman should be able to handle. She has fears, uncertainties and a real terror of allowing Boudicca to take the reins. Fighting through all that, while trying to save not just the love of her life and friends but the entire world is some powerful stuff, and I loved every minute of it. There’s the sensation of life on steroids. Every nightmare you’ve ever had of losing your temper, endangering your family, or being forced to pay far too much for past sins is blown up to untenable proportions. Cia kicks ass and takes names but always with a price. We want her to win, but often fear she won’t…and I want to be like her.
What more could I ask for in a heroine?
Enjoy the blurb below!
For an innocent man, she’ll go to her grave. Again.
The Portal Keepers, Book 1
Cia is serving her sentence in the Canadian Arctic, guarding one of the many portals that seal off Earth from Heaven and Hell. She doesn’t mind the cold. What she does mind? Someone’s bumping off other Incarnates, the dual-souled beings who hold the Apocalypse at bay. And she’s next on the list.
Worse, she learns the prime suspect is Arthur, her ex. Arthur is many things, but despite their history, he’s no murderer. Cia has only thirty days to find him and prove it before the Wrath is unleashed to mete out justice.
It’s no relief when he shows up in her truck’s headlights on the side of the ice road. He stirs turmoil between her volatile old soul and the younger one that keeps it in line. Worse, he shows all the signs of turning into a demon.
The closer they get to Yellowknife, the more rogue demons pour out of Hell, dragging with them a past she thought would never haunt her again. Another murder, and the elders prepare to summon the Wrath ahead of schedule. A move that will, literally, let all Hell break loose. Unless Cia makes a soul-tearing choice.
Ice, frigid temperatures, lots of Poutine consuming and a mention of blubber. Many demons were harmed in the writing of this book, but the polar bear really is okay.
Journeys Through Seduction
Hello everyone! Yeah, you read the title right. Forget all those scary, bump in the night things. I wanna talk about chickens today. No, not the ones that cluck or crow. Well, I mean, some do but not the ones I have in mind. I’m talking about us humans who are “Fright-Night Challenged”. That’s right, the ones of us with good sense who would run the hell out of the room instead of checking who was in the closest or behind door number one.
On more than one occasion I have been picked on for being the kid who threw the other kids in front of her as she turned tail and ran. For as long as I can remember I have loved scary stories yet been terrified of them. When I began writing a few years ago I had the strongest urge to write paranormal stories, yet how was I going to write about creatures that terrified me? Three years later I still have no idea how I manage to hold off the heebie geebies long enough to write. And on top of that, I’ve made friends with people who adore horror stories, ghosts, and all things scary.
I am a member of my local Romance Writers of America group and a group of the ladies are heading to New Orleans next weekend. There has been talk(Cynthia!) of heading to a haunted tour. Now, every Wednesday I watch episode after episode of Ghosts Hunters and Paranormal Witness. This is as close to a haunted tour I will get. I might tell you, “Yeah, I’ll be there. NO, I’m not going to chicken out this time.” Yet, I will.
So while this month most people are proclaiming their love of all things terrifying I am proclaiming my love for all things fuzzy and cuddly. If you’re a chicken like me, stand up, yell it from the roof tops (not really, please don’t do this 🙂 ) and don’t be scared to say, “Go ahead with your bad self, open that door. I’ll be alive in the sequel while your dumbass is six feet under cause you just had to open that door!”
Have a great day everyone and remember, do what’s right because it’s right!
Hello everyone! I closed the contest during the wee hours of the morning. I am so excited to announce the winners which I will later in this post. I’ll post winners in two groups, check back later for the second group! Yes, I am being difficult! It’s just the way I roll 🙂 And you will learn I am totally full of bull and love picking around! You’ll either love me or hate me 🙂
The first order of business though is for me to introduce myself. After the scavenger hunt I am guessing you all realize that I also write a lot of stories about cowboys. Its true. I love writing stories about the west and handsome strong cowboys. But my first love as a reader came in the way of a demon. Being from the south, the Bible Belt, I was beyond shocked to find I loved reading about demons struggling to be good. I mean demons are bad!! Really bad, we aren’t supposed to cheer for them! On top of that, I was even more confused when I read my first novel where the evil vampire loved being the evil bad guy and I loved him for it. That is not supposed to happen right? Wrong, the guy was just such a good bad guy that I had to admire him!
After a few years of reading everything I could get my hands on(well romance wise) I began writing my own stories. The first ones sucked and I still struggle to keep the new stories from sucking, but I’ve managed somehow to become a published author. During the process I’ve found I’m a blender, no you can’t stick ice in my mouth and tap me on the head to grind it up. What I mean is that while some authors tend to write in one genre I write all over the place. I love blending my cowboys with demons or making my shifters vampires too! Creating new and exciting characters, settings, and worlds are just a few things I love about being a writer.
I enjoy writing paranormal stories because you can create so many different scenarios for your characters. In my latest series, Gabriel’s Army, a select group of angels and demons are led by the Angel Gabriel to harvest souls of the earths most wanted, good or evil beings. The angels and demons in this army must transport souls to the Haven where the souls are judged and sent to heaven or hell. It’s all very dramatic at the Haven, because both want as many souls as they can get to tip the balance of the age old fight between good and evil.
To become a soldier in the elite army the angels and demons must first live as humans, born into the world with a soul until Gabriel comes for them. Oh the complications of being a human! Gabriel must take their humanity and soul when the time comes and take them from their life as humans. Each member loses the ability to feel human emotion so they can harvest souls without prejudice or remorse. But what happens when one soulless soldier is reminded of what it was to have a human life and be loved? What happens when he comes face to face with the woman he left behind and the child he never knew he had?
Being a blender, I made sure to bring my demon Kipling a little western flair. He’s an ex bull rider 🙂 and currently a soulless demon! His is the first in my series and I’m looking forward to bringing you many, many more sexy complicated stories.
But we all know what you want, the list of who won what!! I know, I’ve rambled on long enough about my new series, but I’m really excited dang it!! And I will post the answers along with the second group in the next few hours. I believe I have a picture coming from a pizza place and one of our authors. Ok, enough. Here you go:
Group A winners are:
Nicki who wins Kristin Miller’s Intervamption!
Danny who wins Sayde Grace’s Voodoo, I Do
Renee Bennett who won her choice of Erin Kellison’s Shadow series books.
Susan Nystoriak who won a signed copy of Rebecca Zanetti’s Fated.
Diane who won Marcella Burnard’s Enemy Gates.
Winners, if you didn’t post your email addy in the comment you left please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in this thread so that we can get you those prizes!