Look what happens on Tuesday, November 18! The second book in the urban fantasy Living Ink series comes out.
After being kidnapped and forcibly Inked with a Living Tattoo named Murmur, Isa thought she’d survived the worst her enemies could throw at her. She was wrong. Murmur is walking around her world in someone else’s body, and without him, Isa is losing control of her magic.
Then, in the middle of rush hour, a Live Tattoo comes off its host, killing over a hundred people. Isa discovers that Murmur’s nemesis, Uriel – a demon she believed defeated – is responsible. He’s seeking the power to force his way back into Isa’s world. If he succeeds, everyone Isa loves will be destroyed. There may be a way to stop him, but it will mean sacrificing Murmur – or herself.
A brief excerpt:
A bus lay overturned across the westbound traffic lanes, surrounded by victims who would never rise again. Half of the back section of the double long, reticulated bus dangled over the water. Cars and trucks had been tossed like the blocks of a two-year-old in the midst of a tantrum. One was a fire truck, lights still flashing amid the crumpled, shredded wreck of red and chrome.
News helicopters hung high above the bridge, tottering back and forth in the air.
Dark fluid wet the concrete bridge deck.
Isa’s breath rose high in her chest as her shoulders tightened.
The visual shimmer of here-be-magic resolved into a huge, scaly, five-headed monster of Ink and magic. A hydra. An enormous myth with gleaming, rainbow-hued scales stood splay-legged across the decks of both the east- and westbound lanes. Claws, dripping unspeakable meaty globs of human remains, grasped an SUV. One of the heads bent and ripped the roof from the vehicle as if it were a pop-top soup can. The other heads darted in, picking the struggling driver and passengers out of their seatbelts.
The book is set in Seattle. The scene above is on the 520 floating bridge (if ever there was reason to find an alternate route…) In fact, the tea shop I like to write in got turned into Isa’s tattoo shop. The people who work seem to find the switch amusing – no word yet on what the owner thinks – if she knows. 😀
y turn at two truths and a lie. In my day job, I claim to save cities. Below are three ways that I claim to have done so. Which are true, which is not?
- I worked as a city manager for a small town in the northeast.
- I once was a university professor teaching courses on urban development and economic development, while providing expertise to the various city agencies and nonprofits through research and consulting work.
- I have lived in many edgy neighborhoods, leading the way to new possibilities.
What do you think? Which is a lie? What do you think are the best ways to save cities? Yes, I do have an urban fantasy in my future. 🙂
In the meantime, I’m offering a free sexy read, A Flicker of Power, to celebrate the release of newest book, Life Reignited. You can access all the links here.
You may have noticed that we’re undergoing some renovations here at Darker Temptations. Posts may be a little sparse – but we are still here. And we are working on bringing you more authors and more content. Stay tuned.
On another note, everyone dreads April 15 in the US. It’s Tax Day. It’s almost a national holiday. The post office is open until midnight so you can get that all important post mark that’s dated April 15 – even if you waited until 10pm that night to start your taxes. (Though there’s a small contingent of us who look forward to it if only because it means that all of the tax hoop-jumping is finally over.)
This year, I have another reason to look forward to the date. My third novel comes out from Intermix. This one is Urban Fantasy, set in my neighborhood in Seattle (Ballard). I’ve turned the tea shop where I like to write into my heroine’s tattoo shop. (The tea shop staff are amused rather than annoyed, thankfully.)
Just got the cover last week. So here you go. I hope it means I can give a few other people something to look forward to on April 15. Besides taxes.
With the needle of a tattoo gun, Isa Romanchzyk has the power to create and destroy. In her shop Nightmare Ink, Isa helps those in need by binding the powers embedded in their Live Ink—the magical tattoos that can enhance the life of the wearer, or end it. But binding tattoos has earned Isa the contempt of her fellow artists—including her former lover Daniel.
When a friend comes to the shop with a tattoo on the verge of killing him, Isa can’t turn him away. For the first time in years, she works Live Ink into someone’s skin—something she swore she’d never do again. But breaking her vow soon becomes the least of her problems. Isa is horrified to discover her friend’s body in the shop, but the real nightmare begins when she’s abducted and inked against her will.
Now, as she seeks retribution from the man who betrayed her, Isa must figure out how to bind her Living Tattoo before it consumes her completely…
Nightmare Ink — Coming April 15, 2014 from Intermix – Urban Fantasy
The topic for today’s post came in and I panicked. I’m not talking a little “oh no, what will I write about” panic. I’m talking “holy crap, there is no way to do this in less than a doctoral thesis” panic. The topic? Discussing our favorite book. I know, I know — I see the panic on your face. I felt the same way. How can I choose just one book? Impossible. This isn’t a remake of Highlander and there are no swords and beheadings and stuff. But I’m still talking books. Just a little off center.
Reading is a huge part of my life. I’ve been a compulsive reader ever since I was a kid. Some of my favorite memories center on the mailman delivering my Disney reader books every month. Remember those little square, cardboard-cover books? Yeah, those. I still have all of mine, even the ones my evil little brother defaced with crayons. He almost had his eyebrows shaved for that one. If only Mom hadn’t caught me with the straight razor… There’s still time, though.
When I entered elementary school, I was exposed to the Serendipity books. They were a huge turning point for me. It was like this creative switch was turned on in my brain and I fell in love with reading. It was then that I knew I wanted to write. I wanted to create stories that made people think and feel and get lost in the words. I was six.
As I got older, I continued to read. As a child, my absolute favorite book was Watership Down. I didn’t understand all of the social implications of the book, but the story was incredibly engaging and it made me think. I was nine when I first read it.
I also loved anything by Shel Silverstein, particularly A Light in the Attic. The man was a brilliant voice for children. One of the favorite things I have ever written is a silly poem. It won awards. It made me realize humor had to be part of my literary voice.
In college, I read romance. Lots and lots of romance. Anything I could get my hands on — historical, contemporary, paranormal. I realized that romance gave me an outlet to get lost in a world where the outcome was much more predictable than anything I was facing at the time. And, though predictable happy endings occurred, I never knew which path the author would take to get me there. Of course, my favorite book then was Outlander, though I know the author isn’t keen on having her book categorized as straight romance. That book taught me the value of complex world building and reader engagement.
In my thirties, I glommed onto paranormal romance like it was an illicit $5.99 drug. Yes, paperbacks were still $5.99. I read Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione, JR Ward and a few Sherrylin Kenyon. I found Nora Roberts’s different trilogies and ate up anything with recurring characters. I discovered I’m madly passionate about stories where I get to experience characters over and over. A main character in one book who cameos in the series? My favorite setup ever.
It wasn’t until my mid- to late-thirties that I discovered “good” erotica — stories with an actual plot that were sexy as hell. Thank you, Denise Rossetti and Robin Rotham. I discovered that closed-door sex scenes annoy the crap out of me and, therefore, have no place in my writing.
I entered my forties last January. I’ve discovered Gena Showalter. Why it took so long is beyond me, but it did. I’ve devoured everything of hers this summer. Her paranormal romances have indulged my love of world-building in a contemporary setting.
So many authors have had so much influence on my love of reading that it seems horribly unfair of me to limit myself to one favorite. In forty years, I’ve collected favorite books and favorite authors and favorite themes and favorite… You get the idea.
What about you? Are you able to identify one book that is, above all others, The One?
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!
This blog cycle, we’re talking about the author we’ve always wanted to be. This is a hard one for me because there are a so many authors I I seriously admire. Picking one would be like trying to pick my favorite MANhandler pic. Can’t I just love them all? Okay, okay. Let me think…
It’s no secret that I love Diana Gabaldon with a crazy passion that probably alarmed her a little the first time I met her. I’m 6’1″ and a naturally exuberant person. She’s probably 5’3″ and incredibly soft-spoken and even a bit reserved. It’s impossible to be as tall as I am and not feel like I’m looming over such petite people. And then, when the conference coordinators have her seated to meet her fans, I have to either bend over to shake her hand or kneel in front of her. Of course I knelt. What did security think would happen? Yeesh. Anyway, Diana’s literary voice is rich and varied, and I’ve coveted the almost melodic “sound” of her storytelling since I read the first page of Outlander. I’d love to create the passion in readers that she’s cultivated over the last twenty years. I’d also like to find myself still writing after that long. Above all, I’d like to look back over the stories that will create my legacy and know I touched readers, gave them respite from the world’s demands if only for a while and helped them fall in love with my characters the way I have.
Another un-secret is my passion for absolutely anything written by Larissa Ione. When we started chatting on social media and privately, there was some very private Muppet-flailing and a few total fangirl moments. When she first emailed me? I may or may not have screamed, depending on your definition of “scream.” She’s been amazing to me, and I want to do the same for other authors who are finding their way through the difficult world of publishing. But back to the point of this paragraph — I’ve found that, the more I write, the harder it is for me to read. I can’t turn off my internal editor. It seems like I’m always rearranging scenes, catching typos, counting the “to be” verbs — all the things we authors aren’t supposed to do if we want to find success. With Larissa’s books, I get sucked into the vibrant world, the relationships, the (hawt) sex, the storylines. I admire her ability to write such clean, crisp stories. Her creativity is off the charts. The way she crafts her worlds and scenes engage every one of the readers senses. That, that, is what I want to look back and know I’ve done.
Finally? I have to be very frank and admit that I want to be me. What I spend my days doing is a total dream come true. There’s no way to describe the feeling of getting that first contract, landing a superstar agent, having your editor call you (insert your definition of “spastic” here), or finding out your book received an awesome review from Romantic Times magazine. All of these things and more have come to mean more to me than I can explain. I love what I do. I’m passionate about it. It’s everything I ever dreamed it would be. It’s also infinitely more difficult, unbelievably frustrating, guaranteed tear-inducing at times and worth every damn minute.
There’s no one author I want to be, but the two listed above are people whose talent, compassion and magic I admire and aspire to. If I could mash their skill together and mix it in a potion, I’d drink it right down. At the very least, I’d end up with a restraining order. At best? I’d be everything I want to be. Instead of scaring these two lovely ladies, I think I’ll just bust my ass and do my best to follow in their footsteps. It might take longer, but it’s the only way I want to get there. Plus I don’t have bail money. 😀
Who are the authors that inspire you? If you could be any author in the world for a day and experience what it’s like to have their skill, who would it be?
This week’s post is on why we love our genres so much. It’s something I’ve never really put into words, so writing this has been a challenge. I’ve been mulling it over in the hopes I’d get it right. Here you go–my best effort:
I freaking love romance. Period. I want a good story that gives me a sense of who these characters are and why they’re right for each other, even if it’s only right now. Sure, HEA’s (happily-ever-afters) are brilliant, but I’m just as satisfied with a good HFN (happy-for-now) if it means the book is part of a series. Because I looooove series. But under that broad category of romance, there are sub-genres that really flip my switch. Primarily those genres are paranormal, urban fantasy with romantic elements and (some) historicals. Yes, my likes are wide and varied, but they all have one primary thing in common: kickass women who are not content to let life come to them. They seize the day, whether by choice or circumstance, and show the men around them exactly what a strong woman is capable of accomplishing.
“Fine,” you say. “But this isn’t news. What makes your genre preferences stand out?”
I’m glad you asked.
There’s something about the otherworldly that absolutely thrills me. The idea that there are vampires and shifters and fey (oh my!) in our midst? Wow. It makes me look at the grocery store clerk differently. It makes me wonder if the hot pale guy at the doctor’s office was giving blood or getting it. And what about the gym teacher who can climb a rope, hand over hand, and never break a sweat? (I’m talking about you, Mr. Carson.) Not. Natural. And that’s the thrill.
There’s also the matter of these men being incredibly sexy. You never read a book with an average-looking ocelot shifter. You never find a mediocre fey lover between any set of covers. And you certainly never read about ugly vampires. These men are always out-of-control sexy and, without fail, they’re packing both the goods and the skills to use them. Who doesn’t love that?
Give me a kickass woman with a gun in her hand and her battered heart on her sleeve and I’m your slave. I want fierce women who dont’ shrink away from violence, whether they’re dealing with it or the cause of it. Doesn’t matter. I love reading about women who meet challenges by charging into the fray. “Kicking ass and taking names” is a way of life, and they don’t complain about it. Instead, they learn to manage it, deal with the fallout of bad decisions in battle and in bed, and always find a way to defeat the Big Bad with smarts, tenacity and serious weaponry.
Romance is often secondary to the plot, and that’s fine with me. I do love (smoking, scorching) hot love scenes, and urban fantasy typically delivers.
Also, the world-building fascinates me. I love being able to make up my own rules and fit my characters into those parameters. So. Much. Fun!
This one’s a little different. I don’t like all historical romance. I’m all about the stories where women buck convention and find a way to defy societal expectations. Those are the stories that make me want to read about days gone by. I’m not interested in women who faint and heroes who think they’re superior. Give me Alpha males and spirited women. Those are the characters I love to play around with. I really enjoy researching eras long past and then figuring out how to successfully bend–okay, break–the rules in order to find happiness.
So there you have it–my love of, well, love. The one thing these genres have in common is that, at some point, the girl gets the right boy and, at least in my worlds, love prevails.
What are your favorites? Why? I’m dying to hear from you. Maybe I’ll find a new favorite author. 🙂
When we decided on the theme “Dark Heroines” the first one that came to my mind was Kate Daniels. She is a creation of writer team Ilona Andrews and her husband.
Kate lives in Atlanta, but not the Atlanta we know, but one in a world after a magical apocalypse. One moment the world is normal, electricity works and cars drive, the next magic flares up and everything stops. If you want to get somewhere you have to get a horse or a mule. Kate always carries a sword and likes her crossbow. They don’t stop working when magic comes;). Vampires, controlled by navigators, roam the streets. As do shifters, ruled by the Beast Master.
Kate has a rather interesting heritage, which results in some very interesting visitors (and battles, but I don’t want to spoil these amazing stories). Her world is filled with danger. Her upbringing was by no means puppies and cookies. She had to fight for her life from a very early age and her guardian told her all her formative years to never have friends. To never trust. To never love. If she did she would grow weak.
She has morals, but they are tested and tried at every turn. Kate constantly has to fight, either to protect or to find a way to overcome the bad that comes at her every five minutes. Then she has to deal with her emotions. Having kept them frozen most of her life, meeting people who could be friends or even mean more than that result in her having to face her past, in her having to think further than the next battle.
Kate Daniels is an amazing, multi-dimensional character with the strength to do the unimaginable and the same weaknesses of a woman falling in love. She makes mistakes and has to deal with the consequences.
I love the series and have re-read them multiple times. Ilona Andrews has created an unforgettable world with phenomenal inhabitants. If you’re looking a sexy strong heroine with a very, very dark side check out the Kate Daniels series.
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