'I love you' is just the beginning of the story.

“Blood and Rain” Contest and Cover Tease

Blood and Rain Part 1I have a new series coming very soon! Blood and Rain will be released this winter (December or January). It’s the first in the Blood Series from Dreamspinner Press. Yes, it’s about vampires (and vampire hunters). No, these vamps don’t sparkle, but they do have some unusual abilities you’ll discover as the series unfolds.  Yes, it’s definitely a romance! But it’s also an adventure with plenty of action, much like my Mermen of Ea Series.

Each week for the next 4 weeks, I’ll be teasing you with a bit more of the gorgeous cover from Dreamspinner Press cover artist Reese Dante, as well as a long excerpt from the book. I’m also running a cover reveal contest that will end at midnight on October 11th, midnight after the day the full cover is revealed. The Rafflecopter giveaway is here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba9496/  Or you can enter by clicking directly on the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Blood Series takes place in both the present day and in France in the late 1800s, and features three couples. The main focus is on Adrien Gilbert, the youngest son of a French vampire hunter family, and Nicolas Lambert, an ancient (born a vampire, not created) vampire.

So please join me in some fun in welcoming 3621890092_4175cd8c60_zmy sexy hunters and vampires! The first excerpt and unofficial blurb are below. Enjoy! -Shira

******

Blood Series: Book 1

Adrien Gilbert is a vampire hunter sworn to avenge the murder of his brother, Francois.  When the ancient vampire, Nicolas Lambert, offers to help Adrien locate his brother’s killer in exchange for Adrien’s protection, Adrien agrees.  Nicolas has pledged to marry the daughter of a rival vampire clan for the sake of peace between their warring clans. But when Adrien begins to fall for the gentle Nicolas, Adrien’s mission becomes one of both self-discovery and heartbreak.

What Adrien and Nicolas don’t know is that there is another force at work, intent on destroying the fragile peace between vampire clans.  That same force threatens to tear apart the world of the hunters.  Adrien must put aside his feelings for Nicolas and stop a full-blown war between Hunters and vampires. He’s just not sure he’s willing to let Nicolas go forever to do it.

Note:  This is the first in a series of three anticipated novels tentatively entitled Blood and Rain, Blood and Ghosts, Blood and Eternity. The series it set in France in 1895 and in the present, and features three MM pairings. Books in this series must be read in order.

Under contract to Dreamspinner Press. Tentative Publication Date: December 2014-January, 2015

******

Chapter One: On the Edge of Forever

Miami, Florida

Sunset wove fingers of purple and red through bands of clouds and vapor trails that crisscrossed the sky. The scent of exhaust from trucks and cars mingled with the tang of salt from the ocean. People scurried about as they returned from work, trying to finish last-minute errands before dinnertime, all oblivious to the lone figure perched atop the high-rise at the edge of the Miami River.

Adrien Gilbert gazed down at the tiny figures below, vaguely aware of their presence. For more than a century, he had seen generations of humans be born, reach adulthood, start families, grow old, and die as their loved ones watched, helpless to slow time. He had grown numb to the cycle of life—a cycle to which he was immune. He was an immortal, a hunter who had shared the soul of an ancient vampire. His beloved soul.

He closed his eyes, trying to picture that perfect face. It had grown strangely difficult to remember over the years, and yet he could still easily remember the face of his mother, who had been killed when he was just a child.

I won’t forget you… Nicolas.

It would have been far easier to give in, to erase Nicolas from his memory forever. Certainly far less painful than knowing Nicolas was out there somewhere, unable to find the way back to him. Less painful, too, than admitting he couldn’t find his way to Nicolas. He would suffer the pain of knowledge; it was a small price to pay to preserve the memory.

I’m sorry.

The irony that a hunter sworn to protect humankind would suffer the loss of a vampire so keenly was hardly lost on Adrien. He’d believed that in spite of the treaty between hunters and the hunted, vampires were not to be trusted. He’d believed his duty as a hunter was simple, straightforward: kill those who threatened humanity, tolerate those who did not. But that had been before he’d met Nicolas. Before he’d lost his heart. Before Nicolas had given him immortality.

Adrien had everything a human might wish for. The small transportation business he’d started when he moved to the United States over a hundred years ago had blossomed into an international empire with cargo ships, airplanes, trucks, and dozens of storage facilities around the globe. He owned homes in Europe, Thailand, Japan, the US, and a dozen other places he rarely visited. Despite his prosperity, the men with whom he shared his bed—human, vampire, hunter—rarely stayed long. He had seen to that, with his aloof manner and his cold heart. One man had ever touched his soul.

 

 

The evening had started, as it always did, on a far better note. Adrien had stopped by one of his favorite haunts, an upscale martini bar not far from the city center. He’d developed a penchant for gin over the past few decades, enjoying the quick work it made of his long-term memory. Three or four martinis and he could forget, even if only briefly.

The bar was small and full of people. A Sinatra song played in the background as he walked over to the stainless-steel bar, filled with men, some of whom he’d already discarded, others new faces. Eager, all of them. He sensed their eyes on him and felt the hunger they didn’t understand. He understood that hunger. The scent of his blood created it in them. The same irresistible scent that had lured many a human to fall prey to the vampires now drew them to him.

He sat down at an empty barstool and nodded to the bartender, who set to work making the driest martini possible with his most expensive gin, dropping in a tiny bit of lemon peel instead of an olive. He handed Adrien the drink without saying a word, and Adrien brought the glass to his lips.

“Nice,” a male voice said from behind him.

The man was beautiful, tall, with shoulder-length black hair and deep green eyes. He wore pair of tight-fitting jeans and a crisp button-down shirt that emphasized his muscled chest and narrow waist. Late twenties, perhaps. A new face, but a familiar presence.

“It’s not bad.” Adrien took a sip of his drink and pretended not to care. It was easy.

“I wasn’t talking about the drink.” The man lifted his drink to his full lips but watched him intently.

“I wasn’t either,” Adrien replied without missing a beat.

“I’m Cole.”

“So you are.”

They left the bar together for his apartment, where his housekeeper had already set a table for two. A bottle of Puligny-Montrachet chilled in a cooler by the table. Between them, they finished that bottle, although Adrien drank very little. Alcohol affected immortals far more than humans or vampires.

After dinner Cole stood and walked over to the railing, looking out over the river below. “You know what I am.” Cole’s voice was as smooth as the wine.

“Yes. I know what you are.” Adrien had sensed Cole was a vampire the moment he’d seen him. No self-respecting hunter would have missed the subtle electricity in the air or the scent of mingled blood. He lifted Cole’s hair off his neck, then trailed his lips over his silky skin. Cole smelled good—an earthy and primal scent that caused the bloodlust to rise in Adrien. Once, he had embraced his lust for blood.

When he’d first become an immortal, Nicolas’s blood had done far more than sustain him. They had shared their bodies, their blood, and their souls. The blood had been their bond, the bloodlust a welcome reminder of Adrien’s love for Nicolas. Now the lust for blood had nothing to do with Adrien’s heart. It was another bitter reminder that his body would not let him perish, even though he cared nothing for living.

It’s been too long.

Cole moaned. The deep, throaty sound made Adrien’s mouth water in spite of himself. Adrien despised his body’s response, but he’d long ago learned he couldn’t fight it. Once, he had gone nearly twenty years without giving in to the call. He’d been weak, pathetic, barely able to think. He’d prayed he would die. He’d lost consciousness, but he’d awoken to find himself drinking his fill. He’d come perilously close to killing the human whose blood he’d feasted on, but he’d managed to stop. However miserable his existence, Adrien would only feed on vampires—he’d not break the oath he’d taken to protect humans when he’d become a hunter.

Adrien licked the skin of Cole’s neck, feeling the blood pulse there, hearing it call to him. Cole tilted his head in anticipation, opening himself to Adrien.

Adrien buried his teeth in Cole’s skin. Blood flooded his mouth and danced on his tongue, sweet and salty. Too long. His body was far more vampire-like in its craving for blood than when he’d first been given the gift of an ancient vampire’s soul. He wondered if it was the same for other immortals.

Adrien tried to ignore the images that flashed through his mind—the sound of silvery laughter, a mother’s loving caress. Cole’s memories. Adrien despised this forced intimacy, but he’d come to see it as the price of blood. Something to be tolerated.

It hadn’t always been that way. When he’d shared Nicolas’s blood, Adrien had experienced great joy. He’d seen himself through Nicolas’s eyes and felt the depth of Nicolas’s love. Each drop of that precious liquid had opened new doors. Each taste offered insight into Nicolas’s heart and soul. A beloved memory. A mystery—the mystery of Nicolas—unfolding with every swallow.

Adrien drank his fill, then claimed Cole’s mouth. This kind of contact he could stomach. He didn’t need sex to survive, but he enjoyed the release. Cole unbuttoned Adrien’s black silk shirt and his cock swelled against Adrien’s thigh. Adrien moaned as Cole skated his fingertips over his chest.

“I have never known a hunter to crave blood,” Cole whispered in his ear. “I thought only we experienced the bloodlust.”

“You were wrong,” Adrien said as he pulled Cole’s shirt over his head and mouthed a pretty pink nipple. Sex was always better after he fed, and Adrien’s cock was already hard at the thought of fucking such a lovely ass. He drew Cole’s body against his, walked backward into the living room, and pulled Cole with him onto the rug. Soon they were naked and he was no longer a hunter or an immortal, he was simply a man, seeking release, seeking pleasure.

 

 

Adrien lay there afterward, only partially satisfied. Nothing new. Sex was like the bloodlust—it always left him wanting more. Cole brushed his fingers over Adrien’s chest, then his neck. He licked Adrien’s earlobe, then ran his tongue over Adrien’s Adam’s apple.

“May I?” he asked.

“No.” He would willingly share his blood with only one person.

“Too bad.” The vampire was clearly disappointed. “I would have liked to have known the secrets of your blood.”

Adrien watched Cole dress but said nothing.

“Perhaps another time, then.” Cole turned and smiled at him before he walked out the door.

For at least an hour after, Adrien lay on the floor and allowed the night air to caress his bare skin. He closed his eyes and dozed.

“Adrien.”

The voice awakened him. Nicolas’s voice again. Why sleep if it only served to reawaken the pain he sought to suppress?

He stood and pulled on his jeans. He walked onto the balcony in his bare feet, then climbed to the roof of the penthouse.

Pathetic.

Having reached the edge, he spread his arms. He leaned forward and fell unimpeded, riding the wind like a sigh. The glass of the building sailed by him, the breeze buffeting his face. He hit the water and sank into the cold blackness. He wished he could die.

 

 

 

 

Covers, Covers, Covers! Vote for Covers!

Dissonance-build-full-r2Happy September everyone! I just wrapped the Dissonance Blog Tour this past week. Congrats to the winners. You can see who won by clicking here. There were so many entries, I decided to throw in a second subway cuff. Thanks everyone for the great response!

Now that Dissonance has been published, I’m already looking forward to my next release. No, it’s not musicians this time. It’s not mermen, either. This time, it’s vampires. Blood and Rain is the first in a three book series (Blood Series) from Dreamspinner Press. The series takes place both in the present day and in the past (1890s, to be precise). Anticipated release of the first book is December or January, with the second book following soon after.

So to get the ball rolling on the new series, I’ll be sharing glimpses of the gorgeous cover ofIntoWind Blood and Rain with you, as well as excerpts. Each week, I’ll be posting a new bit of the cover, along with some more of the story, until the entire cover is revealed in week four. I’ll also be running a pre-release contest for a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate in the lead up to release day. So stay tuned!

In the meantime, Into the Wind, Dissonance, and Encore are all up for voting at the 2014 Rainbow Awards! The easiest way to vote is to first search all five pages of covers (the link to do so is at the top of the post) and make a list of your favorite covers by number and title. Of course, if you’d like to vote for my amazing covers from Catt Ford and Anne Cain, here’s the list:

#395 Into the Wind
#397 Dissonance
#412 Encore

Encore-BuildOnce you have compiled your list, go to the bottom of the post and hit REPLY. The post will refresh, and you’ll need to scroll to the bottom and fill out the reply form. Then click “anonymous” and enter your choices AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in the body of the reply. ALL REPLIES ARE HIDDEN so you won’t be disclosing your votes or email address. Then hit POST REPLY. And you’re done! Make sure you receive notice that your post was successfully made! Here’s the link to the voting: http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/4429374.html

More to come about GayRomLit in October, where I’ll be performing with my good friend and former accompanist. I can’t wait – it’s going to be a great fall! -Shira

Care and Feeding of Authors

CareAndFeedingOfAuthors_RLLWow! The last week has been a whirlwind, truly. Blue Notes was free on Amazon for 5 days, during which time it sat at #1 on the gay literature free books list. That totally blew me away. Then Dissonance was released to amazing reviews from Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words (Melanie named it one of her “Best of 2014″!), Rainbow Book Reviews, Smoocher’s Voice, and Love Bytes. But there was something even better than all that. Something that made me just want to sing! You. You the readers contacted me.

I have never had so many personal messages, emails, and posts about my books before. I heard from long-time readers and brand new readers about how they–you–loved my books and my characters. Particularly moving for me were the comments from survivors of child abuse who, like me, saw a lot of themselves in the character of Cam in Dissonance (who is based on a compilation of true stories). Those messages of love and support mean the world to me. More than you know!

I would never share a personal email or message without permission, of course. But those messages reminded me that readers can do a great deal to support their favorite authors. So I’m writing this post not just for myself, but for all of the authors you enjoy. I’m writing to ask that if you feel inclined to do so, please share that love with the world! The meme says it all: the care and feeding of authors depends on readers.

Please considering reviewing on Amazon, Goodreads, AllRomanceEbooks, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else you buy and discuss books. Reviews don’t need to be long, they just need to be honest and hearfelt. A few sentences about what a book made you feel may be the inspiration for another reader to read a book you loved. Word of mouth makes all the difference to authors. It helps sell books, and more books sold means more books written. A win-win.

Thanks again, everyone, for your support! And thanks for considering reviewing and sharing the love! -Shira

 

“Dissonance” Release Day and Blog Tour Contest!

Dissonance-build-full-r2I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be able to share Dissonance with you! Today, August 8, 2014, is release day for the newest addition to the Blue Notes Series from Dreamspinner Press. Like the other novels in the series, Dissonance is a standalone story, although it shares characters from some of the other Blue Notes books (including one of my all-time favorites, conductor David Somers). And, even better, it’s 25% off as part of Dreamspinner’s end of summer sale. You can pick up a paperback or ebook copy here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5291

Today also is the first day of a month-long blog tour featuring a giveaway with cool prizes (I love finding cool stuff to give away!). Here are the details of the tour:

8/8 -Prism Book Alliance

8/11 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsNYC-Metro-Cuff_40216-l

8/12 – Smoocher’s Voice

8/13 – Fallen Angel Reviews

8/14 – The Hat Party

8/15 – Amanda C. Stone

8/18 – Tara Lain

8/19 – The Novel Approach

8/20 – LeAnn’s Book Reviews

8/21 – Kimber Vale

8/22 – Full Moon Dreaming

8/25 – Love Bytes

8/26 – Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

8/27 – Hearts on Fire

8/28 – Wicked Wolves and Dreaming Dragons

8/29 – Velvet Panic

9/1 – Decadent Delights

9/2 – Rainbow Gold Reviews

9/3 – My Fiction Nook

9/4 – Emotion in Motion

9/5 – MM Good Book Reviews, Book Suburbia

Here’s the Rafflecopter giveaway information. Prizes include a really cool unisex NYC subway cuff, books, and gift certificates. So be sure to enter. Here’s the Rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba9495/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay tuned for excerpts, blog posts, and lots of other Dissonance chatter. Also, don’t forget that Blue Notes, the original book in the series, is free on Amazon until the 11th. So pick it up if you haven’t already. And if you have the 1st edition, you might want to replace your copy with this, the 2nd edition, which features a bit more of Jason’s background, and a brand-spanking new edit!

Happy reading! -Shira

#Freebie “Blue Notes” is Free on Amazon Right Now!

Dissonance-build-full-r2So after my little mixup on Tuesday, I’m happy to say that, for the next 5 days, the 2nd edition of Blue Notes is free in ebook format from Amazon.com. Even better? Tonight at midnight, Dissonance will be released by Dreamspinner Press! And with that release, the pre-release contest I’ve been running wraps, so be sure to enter below! You can’t win if you don’t enter!

Blue Notes was inspired by a trip I took about five years ago to Paris. I’d lived in France as a teenager and studied violin at a conservatory there. For me, the Paris trip was a bit of an escape, and that thought was with me when I imagined a disillusioned lawyer leaving his not so happy life behind, at least for a short time, and spending a few months in Paris. In the winter. Blue Notes is definitely one of the most romantic books of BlueNotes[2ndEd]LGthe series, and much of the main character’s background is based on my own experiences living and going to high school in Grenoble, France.

Here’s the blurb: Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.

Already have a copy of the 2nd edition of Blue Notes? You can pre-order Dissonance now at Dreamspinner Press and download it early Friday morning! Here’s the link to the Dreamspinner Press website: http://bit.ly/1qLEVHc

And don’t forget to enter the pre-release contest, because it wraps up Friday morning when the clock strikes 12:00 a.m.! You can enter more than once (in fact, you can enter every day!). You could win a cool Blue Notes Series swag bag filled with paperback books of the first 5 novels in the series (or ebook copies if you live outside the US). Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Y2YwYmE5NDkzMTY4MjgyZWNiMzcwNjVhODk2ZTBjOjQ=/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll leave you all with an excerpt from the first chapter of Blue Notes. Enjoy! -Shira

******

IN A dim alcove only a dozen or so feet from the musicians, Jason sat nursing his drink, transported by the sound of the violin. It wasn’t jazz in its purest form—it was more of a hybrid, combining the traditional jazz rhythms of the fifties with a modern yet classical approach. But whatever you might call the music, he found it transcendent. Between pieces, Jason glanced around the room to discover the group’s name but found no mention of it anywhere.

The set ended and the club erupted in applause. The musicians nodded, their manner casual, aloof, even a bit embarrassed. The violinist met Jason’s eyes and, for a brief instant, lingered there. Jason’s face heated. Breaking their eye contact to look down at his empty glass, he told himself that the heat in his cheeks was from the alcohol and the lack of sleep. He motioned to the lone waiter for a refill. When he turned back toward the stage, he found himself sitting face-to-face with the violinist.

“May I join you?” the violinist asked, a coy grin on his delicate lips. Jason figured that he might be nineteen, tops. As his companion brushed a stray lock of shoulder-length black hair from his eyes, Jason realized that he had one brown eye and one green. He was a waif of a kid, his face uniquely French, from the slightly pronounced nose to the sharper edge of his jaw. Even seated as he was, Jason could see that the kid’s body swam in a large pair of jeans that hung low on his hips, exposing blue plaid boxers. On top, he wore a body-hugging black T-shirt with the word “Quoi?” splashed across the front in bright red.

“Be my guest,” Jason replied in French, still unsure of what to think about the kid. “Seems as though you’ve already invited yourself.”

“You’re French-Canadian?” the newcomer inquired, grin widening.

“American.” Jason noted the rough edges of the uneven tattoo on the kid’s right forearm. Homemade, no doubt.

“Really? Your French is excellent.”

“And your music’s good,” Jason countered playfully. “What’s your trio called?”

“Dunno. We haven’t named it yet—we don’t play that much. Wouldn’t have played tonight except the group Maurice booked canceled and he couldn’t find a replacement. My roommate’s the dishwasher here.” He gestured at the drummer, who was watching them with interest from the edge of the small stage. “So, do you live in Paris?” he added after a moment’s pause.

“Visiting.”

The waiter deposited two drinks on the table and winked at the violinist.

“My name’s Jules. Jules Bardon.”

“Jason Greene.”

“Enchanté.” Jules took Jason’s hand across the table. The gesture was far too friendly. Flirtatious. Jason pulled his hand away and raised an eyebrow. Jules appeared unfazed. “Here on business?”

“No.”

“Pleasure, then?”

“No.”

Jules laughed—a soft, almost girlish laugh. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” He fixed his gaze on Jason.

“No,” lied Jason, finding Jules’s gaze a bit too intense.

“I could make this a pleasure visit for you.” Jules absentmindedly traced a long finger across his own lips.

“I don’t bat for that team.” Jason borrowed the American expression wholesale as his French failed him at last. It was not the first time he’d spoken the words, although it was the first time he’d spoken them in French. They were also not entirely true; it was simply that the right opportunity had never presented itself.

Jules looked at him for a moment, clearly uncomprehending, then laughed again.

“What’s so funny?” Jason demanded, noting a hint of licorice on the air as his companion replaced his drink on the table.

“Oh,” Jules said, “I understand.” He laughed again. “Sorry. I’ve just never heard it put that way before. At first I thought you were asking me about baseball.” He took a swig of his drink and shrugged. “Too bad. You looked like you could use a good—”

“Jules!”

“I have to go.” Jules sighed and appeared disappointed. “Time for the next set. It was nice to meet you, Jason.” He tripped over the name, and it came out sounding something like “Jah-sohn.” Jason chuckled in spite of himself, reminded of the various ways in which his name had been mangled by French speakers through the years.

Jules sucked down the rest of his drink in one swallow and stood up. “If you change your mind…,” he began, but the drummer grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back toward the stage.

Not likely, kid. Jason chuckled again. He had enough shit to deal with.

#Freebie Correction! Blue Notes Freebie Starts Thursday 8/7!!

BlueNotes[2ndEd]LGBig OOPS on my part! Ditzbrain diva here messed up the date for the Blue Notes 2nd Edition freebie over at Amazon.com. My apologies! The freebie starts on Thursday, August 7th, the day before Dissonance releases! So please bear with my major face-palm, and stop over at Amazon on Thursday. I promise I’ll remind everyone!

Thanks for your patience! Promise I’ll make it up to you on Thursday. In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the Dissonance pre-release contest, because it wraps up early Friday morning (midnight EST!) You can enter more than once (in fact, you can enter every day!). You could win a cool Blue Notes Series swag bag filled with paperback books of the first 5 novels in the series (or ebook copies if you live outside the US). Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Y2YwYmE5NDkzMTY4MjgyZWNiMzcwNjVhODk2ZTBjOjQ=/a Rafflecopter giveaway

-Shira

#Freebie! Counting Down to “Dissonance” – 3 days left!

Dissonance-build-full-r2All week, I’m counting down the days to the release of Dissonance by Dreamspinner Press! Today, to kick things off with the proverbial seventy-piece orchestra (okay, so I’m a music geek, what do you want?), I’m offering up the first book in the Blue Notes Series for free! For the next seven days, the 2nd edition of Blue Notes is free in ebook format from Amazon.com.

Blue Notes was inspired by a trip I took about five years ago to Paris. I’d lived in France as a teenager and studied violin at a conservatory there. For me, the Paris trip was a bit of an escape, and that thought was with me when I imagined a disillusioned lawyer leaving his not so happy life behind, at least for a short time, and spending a few months in Paris. In the winter. Blue Notes is definitely one of the most romantic books of BlueNotes[2ndEd]LGthe series, and much of the main character’s background is based on my own experiences living and going to high school in Grenoble, France.

Here’s the blurb: Blame it on jet lag. Jason Greene thought he had everything: a dream job as a partner in a large Philadelphia law firm, a beautiful fiancée, and more money than he could ever hope to spend. Then he finds his future wife in bed with another man, and he’s forced to rethink his life and his choices. On a moment’s notice, he runs away to Paris, hoping to make peace with his life.

But Jason’s leave of absence becomes a true journey of the heart when he meets Jules, a struggling jazz violinist with his own cross to bear. In the City of Love, it doesn’t take them long to fall into bed, but as they’re both about to learn, they can’t run from the past. Sooner or later, they’ll have to face the music.

Already have a copy of the 2nd edition of Blue Notes? You can pre-order Dissonance now at Dreamspinner Press and download it early Friday morning! Here’s the link to the Dreamspinner Press website: http://bit.ly/1qLEVHc

And don’t forget to enter the pre-release contest, because it wraps up Friday morning when the clock strikes 12:00 a.m.! You can enter more than once (in fact, you can enter every day!). You could win a cool Blue Notes Series swag bag filled with paperback books of the first 5 novels in the series (or ebook copies if you live outside the US). Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Y2YwYmE5NDkzMTY4MjgyZWNiMzcwNjVhODk2ZTBjOjQ=/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll leave you all with an excerpt from the first chapter of Blue Notes. Enjoy! -Shira

******

IN A dim alcove only a dozen or so feet from the musicians, Jason sat nursing his drink, transported by the sound of the violin. It wasn’t jazz in its purest form—it was more of a hybrid, combining the traditional jazz rhythms of the fifties with a modern yet classical approach. But whatever you might call the music, he found it transcendent. Between pieces, Jason glanced around the room to discover the group’s name but found no mention of it anywhere.

The set ended and the club erupted in applause. The musicians nodded, their manner casual, aloof, even a bit embarrassed. The violinist met Jason’s eyes and, for a brief instant, lingered there. Jason’s face heated. Breaking their eye contact to look down at his empty glass, he told himself that the heat in his cheeks was from the alcohol and the lack of sleep. He motioned to the lone waiter for a refill. When he turned back toward the stage, he found himself sitting face-to-face with the violinist.

“May I join you?” the violinist asked, a coy grin on his delicate lips. Jason figured that he might be nineteen, tops. As his companion brushed a stray lock of shoulder-length black hair from his eyes, Jason realized that he had one brown eye and one green. He was a waif of a kid, his face uniquely French, from the slightly pronounced nose to the sharper edge of his jaw. Even seated as he was, Jason could see that the kid’s body swam in a large pair of jeans that hung low on his hips, exposing blue plaid boxers. On top, he wore a body-hugging black T-shirt with the word “Quoi?” splashed across the front in bright red.

“Be my guest,” Jason replied in French, still unsure of what to think about the kid. “Seems as though you’ve already invited yourself.”

“You’re French-Canadian?” the newcomer inquired, grin widening.

“American.” Jason noted the rough edges of the uneven tattoo on the kid’s right forearm. Homemade, no doubt.

“Really? Your French is excellent.”

“And your music’s good,” Jason countered playfully. “What’s your trio called?”

“Dunno. We haven’t named it yet—we don’t play that much. Wouldn’t have played tonight except the group Maurice booked canceled and he couldn’t find a replacement. My roommate’s the dishwasher here.” He gestured at the drummer, who was watching them with interest from the edge of the small stage. “So, do you live in Paris?” he added after a moment’s pause.

“Visiting.”

The waiter deposited two drinks on the table and winked at the violinist.

“My name’s Jules. Jules Bardon.”

“Jason Greene.”

“Enchanté.” Jules took Jason’s hand across the table. The gesture was far too friendly. Flirtatious. Jason pulled his hand away and raised an eyebrow. Jules appeared unfazed. “Here on business?”

“No.”

“Pleasure, then?”

“No.”

Jules laughed—a soft, almost girlish laugh. “Do I make you uncomfortable?” He fixed his gaze on Jason.

“No,” lied Jason, finding Jules’s gaze a bit too intense.

“I could make this a pleasure visit for you.” Jules absentmindedly traced a long finger across his own lips.

“I don’t bat for that team.” Jason borrowed the American expression wholesale as his French failed him at last. It was not the first time he’d spoken the words, although it was the first time he’d spoken them in French. They were also not entirely true; it was simply that the right opportunity had never presented itself.

Jules looked at him for a moment, clearly uncomprehending, then laughed again.

“What’s so funny?” Jason demanded, noting a hint of licorice on the air as his companion replaced his drink on the table.

“Oh,” Jules said, “I understand.” He laughed again. “Sorry. I’ve just never heard it put that way before. At first I thought you were asking me about baseball.” He took a swig of his drink and shrugged. “Too bad. You looked like you could use a good—”

“Jules!”

“I have to go.” Jules sighed and appeared disappointed. “Time for the next set. It was nice to meet you, Jason.” He tripped over the name, and it came out sounding something like “Jah-sohn.” Jason chuckled in spite of himself, reminded of the various ways in which his name had been mangled by French speakers through the years.

Jules sucked down the rest of his drink in one swallow and stood up. “If you change your mind…,” he began, but the drummer grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back toward the stage.

Not likely, kid. Jason chuckled again. He had enough shit to deal with.

Giveaway and Countdown to “Dissonance” – Playlist

Dissonance-build-full-r2This Friday, August 8th, Dissonance will be released by Dreamspinner Press! And midnight if release day is also the last chance to enter the pre-release giveaway (enter below using Rafflecopter!). You can pre-order Dissonance in ebook and paperback at the Dreamspinner Press website! Just click on the book title or on the cover to find the pre-order link.

Today is Monday, and I usually do a “Music Monday” gig where I share music I love on social media. Today, I’m sharing the Dissonance playlist: http://www.shiraanthony.com/books/dissonance-blue-notes-6/#extras. These are all the songs and pieces that appear in the novel. I chose each of them to capture an emotion or a mood in the story. And if you listen to them, you’ll realize they are mostly introspective, melancholy pieces. Not a coincidence. For me, they mirrored Cam’s sense of loss and grief as he struggles to hang onto the shreds of his former existence. From trumpeter Galen Rusk’s lonely trumpet in the New York City subway, to Cam himself playing the piano, each piece echoes the emotions of the story.

So if you’d like, queue them up on YouTube, grab a glass of wine, and close your eyes, because this music is meant to be savored slowly, and it’s meant to linger even after it’s over. Just as I hope Cam’s story will linger with you as well.

Don’t forget to enter the pre-release contest, because it wraps up in a week! You can enter more than once (in fact, you can enter every day!). You could win a cool Blue Notes Series swag bag filled with paperback books of the first 5 novels in the series (or ebook copies if you live outside the US). Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Y2YwYmE5NDkzMTY4MjgyZWNiMzcwNjVhODk2ZTBjOjQ=/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from Dissonance. Enjoy! –Shira

******

Blurb: British lord Cameron Sherrington has hit rock bottom. The love of his life, opera sensation Aiden Lind, is marrying another man, and Cam knows it’s his own fault for pushing Aiden away. Then someone tries to set him up and take away his family business. Facing arrest by US authorities on charges of money laundering and with no money to return to London, Cam decides to run. But with no money and no place to stay, it’s not exactly the Hollywood thriller he’d imagined.

When Cam hears Galen Rusk play in a lonely subway station, he’s intrigued. But his assumptions about Galen are all wrong, and their unusual relationship isn’t exactly what Cam bargained for. Add to that the nightmares that dog him nightly, and Cam’s world is shaken to its core. Cam figures he had it coming to him, that it’s all penance due on a life lived without honesty. He just never figured he might not be able to survive it.

Buy Blue Notes Series books on Dreamspinner Press, Amazon,Barnes & Noble, and AllRomanceEbooks

******

EXCERPT:

Late September

New York, New York

“NOT HAVING breakfast this morning, my lord?” Luisa asked as she turned from the mirror she was diligently cleaning.

Cameron Sherrington cringed inwardly as he breezed into the foyer. He’d come to abhor the title with a passion. And although he could hardly deny that the money that came with the title paid for his life in New York, he felt a bit removed from all it represented. He loved spending time in the penthouse towering high above East 57th Street. It was his escape from days spent in long meetings arguing with board members over transactions they shouldn’t even bat an eye over.

He knew Luisa liked using his title. She liked to brag to her friends that she worked for royalty, which suited him just fine. Though he did have noble blood, it wasn’t worth shit. He’d met the queen once when his father had dragged him to some gala fundraiser, but it wasn’t as if he could simply ring her up on a whim and ask her to join him for tea. But Luisa didn’t need to know that.

“Not today. I need my cashmere scarf,” he snapped.

She immediately dropped what she was doing, opened the coat closet door, and reached for a scarf.

“Not that one, the beige one,” he snapped again as he snagged it from the shelf above her head.

She closed the door softly and stepped back as Cam checked his reflection in the mirror. He worked his fingers through a particularly stubborn curl that insisted on flopping into his eyes. He frowned at his reflection. He was meeting friends for lunch at a restaurant downtown and needed to look his best. He’d chosen a pair of D&G jeans, a button-down Armani shirt, a light blue hand-knitted Burberry sweater that matched the startling blue of his eyes, and a tweedy Fendi jacket he’d picked up in Italy a few months before.

“Very nice, Lord Sherrington,” she said politely.

Cam shot her an irritated look. What the bloody hell would she know? “Where are my Oliver Peoples?”

She opened the drawer in the small cherrywood table that stood sentry in the foyer and handed the sunglasses to him. “Will you be dining in tonight, sir?”

“No. But make some of that leek and potato soup before you leave for the weekend. I’ll have it for lunch tomorrow.”

She nodded timidly as she waited to return to cleaning the mirror. “Of course, Lord Sherrington. I’ll see you on Monday.”

He finished fiddling with his hair, donned the sunglasses, and pressed the call button for the private lift. “You will. And make some of that greek salad.”

He paid her well—Sherrington Holdings paid her well, more accurately—even paid her when he wasn’t staying at the penthouse, just to keep it up and water the plants. The least she could do was make enough food for the weekend.

“Certainly, Lord Sherrington.”

He stepped onto the lift without a word, exiting into the lobby a minute later as his mobile buzzed. He pulled the phone from his breast pocket, glanced at it, and tapped the screen.

“Uncle. So good to hear from—”

“I’m late to a meeting,” Duncan Sherrington said with obvious irritation. “You asked for an update.”

The clipped response stung. Since Cam’s father’s death, Duncan had been like a father to him, and Cam had tried to make the man happy. Make him proud. But no matter what he did, he never met Duncan’s expectations. He was never good enough, never smart enough, never dedicated enough. He was yet another annoying gnat his uncle was forced to deal with, and lately it seemed an entire swarm of gnats dogged Duncan’s every move.

“Calling with good news, then?” Cam said.

“If nothing new is good news.” In many respects, Cam appreciated Duncan’s forthrightness. Blunt was always better than bullshit. Still, the only interactions he had with Duncan were in the form of verbal swats. Cam stifled his disappointment and bucked up.

“Might be.” Cam waved at the doorman and strode into the bright sunlight.

“I’ve had Henry contact his friend. Nothing more about rumors of an investigation here. Seems Revenue and Customs has better things to do with its time.”

Cam figured as much. He could handle rumors, or ignore them, if he chose to. “Glad to hear it.”

“Are you staying in New York until the end of the month?” Duncan asked.

Cam got the distinct impression that Duncan would be pleased if he stayed. One less irritation. He’d originally planned on staying a week, maybe two. He’d used the excuse that he’d pay a visit to their US subsidiary, Raice Corp., headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, when he’d actually come for Aiden’s Metropolitan Opera debut. He supposed he’d need to make an appearance at Raice’s offices before he headed home. Not that he was in a hurry to return to England—Duncan was more than capable of running Sherrington Holdings. Best damn decision his father had ever made, to appoint Duncan CEO of the company should anything happen to him. And there was no better time to be in New York City than late September. The days were warm and the evenings cool and breezy. Cam had been for a run in Central Park that morning, and the trees were a riot of color. Perfect.

“Possibly,” he answered at last. “Next board meeting isn’t until October. Unless you think you might need me to—”

“We have things under control here. Take your time.”

“Thank you. I will.” Fine. If that was how Duncan felt, he’d stay. Duncan clearly didn’t need him. He tried to brush off the deepening insecurity. What did it matter if Duncan or anyone else at Sherrington Holdings didn’t need him? He liked the idea of staying in New York a few more weeks. Maybe by the time he got back to London, his mother would have fled to warmer climes and he’d spend a peaceful few weeks at his family’s estate in Surrey before the board meeting. Time spent with Lady Vanessa Baines Sherrington anywhere, especially at the estate, which his ex, Aiden, had affectionately referred to as “the castle,” was downright grueling.

Cam heard the sound of rustling paper through the phone and a woman’s voice in the background.

“Good. We’ll speak later, then,” Duncan said curtly.

Duncan disconnected the call before Cam could respond.

Happy bloody birthday to me. Had he really thought Duncan would remember? Fuck him. When had his life become a fucking cliché? Poor little rich boy—no one remembers his birthday. No doubt his mother would forget as well. She usually did. He’d enjoy himself more without a lecture about what he should be doing with his life, anyhow. Maybe turning thirty wouldn’t be so bad. He would rather have celebrated with Aiden, of course, but he’d spend the evening at an impromptu party at a friend’s instead, and he hoped he wouldn’t be going home alone. Aiden would be spending time with Sam. As it should be. After cheating on Aiden—on several occasions—Cam couldn’t expect Aiden to stick around, could he?

A quick glance at his watch told him he had time to take the subway to the restaurant. He loved the subway. He’d ridden it for the first time when he’d visited New York City with his mother twenty years ago, on a school holiday. Not that his mother had known about it. He’d managed to escape his mother’s grasp (which wasn’t all that tight since she preferred to spend as little time with him as possible) and he’d slipped under a turnstile and ridden the Lexington Avenue subway for hours by himself. Before then, he’d ridden the London Tube with his father a few times. His father had preferred it to negotiating London traffic when he stayed in the city. He’d enjoyed that, but riding alone had been far more exciting.

As it always was this time of day, the 42nd Street subway station was filled with people headed in a dozen different directions. Cam had always thought of this station as the heart of New York. The first time he’d come here, he’d gotten lost in one of the underground passages and ended up on a train to Brooklyn. Since then, he’d learned his way around the twisting tunnels so well he could navigate them in his sleep.

He headed for the Uptown platform, mixing in with the stream of people coming from Grand Central and managing not to get jostled. The woman ahead of him wasn’t as fortunate. She pivoted to avoid a couple of schoolchildren and fell, dropping her shopping bags on the dirty concrete floor right in front of him.

Cam didn’t have time for this. He looked around, hoping someone would come to her aid. No one did. Bloody hell. “Are you all right?” He offered the woman his hand.

She smiled at him with blue eyes and a face full of wrinkles, took his hand, and got to her feet. “Thank you,” she said with a self-deprecating laugh. Cam helped her straighten her coat, which was open and had fallen off one shoulder. “I’m not much of a ballerina.”

“Not a problem.” He gathered up a few stray grocery items that had fallen out of the bag when she’d taken her tumble, waited until she dusted herself off, and handed the bags back to her. “It’s a bit like entering a race course,” he said as he reciprocated her smile.

“You’re English, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Indeed, I am.” He glanced at his watch. He’d be late for lunch at this rate.

“I visited London a few years ago with my husband.” Her expression grew wistful. “Before he died. We always said we’d make the trip.”

Cam stifled his rising impatience with the woman. “Did you enjoy it?”

“Very much so. We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and spent a few afternoons at the British Museum. We took a train to—” She stopped herself. “I do babble on sometimes.”

He offered her a false smile. “It’s quite all right.”

“Thank you, young man,” she said. “My son says I should take the bus, but I like the subway. There’s music too.”

“Music?”

She nodded. “Listen.” She inhaled, pressed her lips together, and began to hum “Ain’t No Sunshine.” For the first time, Cam heard the sound of a trumpet through the noise of the passengers and squealing brakes of an incoming train. He vaguely remembered seeing someone playing for loose change not far from the passage to the S train.

“Oh, but I shouldn’t keep you,” the woman was saying as Cam came back to himself. “I’m sure you have somewhere you need to be.” She patted him on the arm. “You’ve been very kind to an old woman.”

“It was my pleasure.” He wanted to make his escape. He’d wasted enough time with the woman, but she’d piqued his curiosity. Instead of rushing to catch his train, he walked over to where the musician was playing and stopped to listen.

Giveaway and Countdown to “Dissonance” on August 8th!

DissonanceBanner300x250One week from midnight tonight, on August 8th, Dissonance will be released by Dreamspinner Press! And midnight also wraps up the pre-release giveaway (enter below using Rafflecopter!). You can pre-order Dissonance in ebook and paperback at the Dreamspinner Press website! Just click on the book title or on the cover to find the pre-order link.

The Dissonance Blog Tour also starts a week from today over at Prism Book Alliance! I’ll be running a blog tour giveaway (of course!) featuring a cool unisex bracelet with the New York City subway map on it, books, gift NYC-Metro-Cuff_40216-lcertificates, and other cool swag.

Dissonance may be my favorite Blue Notes Series book yet. It’s got the musical connection readers have come to expect from the series, but it also has a bit of action and some serious angst. Cam Sherrington’s a complicated man. Maybe even more complicated that he realizes at the beginning of Dissonance-build-full-r2Dissonance. His story is loosely based on a true story. And although Dissonance has some dark themes, the focus of the story is on hope and healing. For me, Cam was a difficult character to get to know, but once I did, I fell in love with him. I hope you will too!

Don’t forget to enter the pre-release contest, because it wraps up in a week! You can enter more than once (in fact, you can enter every day!). You could win a cool Blue Notes Series swag bag filled with paperback books of the first 5 novels in the series (or ebook copies if you live outside the US). Here’s the link to the Rafflecopter giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Y2YwYmE5NDkzMTY4MjgyZWNiMzcwNjVhODk2ZTBjOjQ=/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from Dissonance. Enjoy! –Shira

******

Blurb: British lord Cameron Sherrington has hit rock bottom. The love of his life, opera sensation Aiden Lind, is marrying another man, and Cam knows it’s his own fault for pushing Aiden away. Then someone tries to set him up and take away his family business. Facing arrest by US authorities on charges of money laundering and with no money to return to London, Cam decides to run. But with no money and no place to stay, it’s not exactly the Hollywood thriller he’d imagined.

When Cam hears Galen Rusk play in a lonely subway station, he’s intrigued. But his assumptions about Galen are all wrong, and their unusual relationship isn’t exactly what Cam bargained for. Add to that the nightmares that dog him nightly, and Cam’s world is shaken to its core. Cam figures he had it coming to him, that it’s all penance due on a life lived without honesty. He just never figured he might not be able to survive it.

Buy Blue Notes Series books on Dreamspinner Press, Amazon,Barnes & Noble, and AllRomanceEbooks

******

EXCERPT:

Late September

New York, New York

“NOT HAVING breakfast this morning, my lord?” Luisa asked as she turned from the mirror she was diligently cleaning.

Cameron Sherrington cringed inwardly as he breezed into the foyer. He’d come to abhor the title with a passion. And although he could hardly deny that the money that came with the title paid for his life in New York, he felt a bit removed from all it represented. He loved spending time in the penthouse towering high above East 57th Street. It was his escape from days spent in long meetings arguing with board members over transactions they shouldn’t even bat an eye over.

He knew Luisa liked using his title. She liked to brag to her friends that she worked for royalty, which suited him just fine. Though he did have noble blood, it wasn’t worth shit. He’d met the queen once when his father had dragged him to some gala fundraiser, but it wasn’t as if he could simply ring her up on a whim and ask her to join him for tea. But Luisa didn’t need to know that.

“Not today. I need my cashmere scarf,” he snapped.

She immediately dropped what she was doing, opened the coat closet door, and reached for a scarf.

“Not that one, the beige one,” he snapped again as he snagged it from the shelf above her head.

She closed the door softly and stepped back as Cam checked his reflection in the mirror. He worked his fingers through a particularly stubborn curl that insisted on flopping into his eyes. He frowned at his reflection. He was meeting friends for lunch at a restaurant downtown and needed to look his best. He’d chosen a pair of D&G jeans, a button-down Armani shirt, a light blue hand-knitted Burberry sweater that matched the startling blue of his eyes, and a tweedy Fendi jacket he’d picked up in Italy a few months before.

“Very nice, Lord Sherrington,” she said politely.

Cam shot her an irritated look. What the bloody hell would she know? “Where are my Oliver Peoples?”

She opened the drawer in the small cherrywood table that stood sentry in the foyer and handed the sunglasses to him. “Will you be dining in tonight, sir?”

“No. But make some of that leek and potato soup before you leave for the weekend. I’ll have it for lunch tomorrow.”

She nodded timidly as she waited to return to cleaning the mirror. “Of course, Lord Sherrington. I’ll see you on Monday.”

He finished fiddling with his hair, donned the sunglasses, and pressed the call button for the private lift. “You will. And make some of that greek salad.”

He paid her well—Sherrington Holdings paid her well, more accurately—even paid her when he wasn’t staying at the penthouse, just to keep it up and water the plants. The least she could do was make enough food for the weekend.

“Certainly, Lord Sherrington.”

He stepped onto the lift without a word, exiting into the lobby a minute later as his mobile buzzed. He pulled the phone from his breast pocket, glanced at it, and tapped the screen.

“Uncle. So good to hear from—”

“I’m late to a meeting,” Duncan Sherrington said with obvious irritation. “You asked for an update.”

The clipped response stung. Since Cam’s father’s death, Duncan had been like a father to him, and Cam had tried to make the man happy. Make him proud. But no matter what he did, he never met Duncan’s expectations. He was never good enough, never smart enough, never dedicated enough. He was yet another annoying gnat his uncle was forced to deal with, and lately it seemed an entire swarm of gnats dogged Duncan’s every move.

“Calling with good news, then?” Cam said.

“If nothing new is good news.” In many respects, Cam appreciated Duncan’s forthrightness. Blunt was always better than bullshit. Still, the only interactions he had with Duncan were in the form of verbal swats. Cam stifled his disappointment and bucked up.

“Might be.” Cam waved at the doorman and strode into the bright sunlight.

“I’ve had Henry contact his friend. Nothing more about rumors of an investigation here. Seems Revenue and Customs has better things to do with its time.”

Cam figured as much. He could handle rumors, or ignore them, if he chose to. “Glad to hear it.”

“Are you staying in New York until the end of the month?” Duncan asked.

Cam got the distinct impression that Duncan would be pleased if he stayed. One less irritation. He’d originally planned on staying a week, maybe two. He’d used the excuse that he’d pay a visit to their US subsidiary, Raice Corp., headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, when he’d actually come for Aiden’s Metropolitan Opera debut. He supposed he’d need to make an appearance at Raice’s offices before he headed home. Not that he was in a hurry to return to England—Duncan was more than capable of running Sherrington Holdings. Best damn decision his father had ever made, to appoint Duncan CEO of the company should anything happen to him. And there was no better time to be in New York City than late September. The days were warm and the evenings cool and breezy. Cam had been for a run in Central Park that morning, and the trees were a riot of color. Perfect.

“Possibly,” he answered at last. “Next board meeting isn’t until October. Unless you think you might need me to—”

“We have things under control here. Take your time.”

“Thank you. I will.” Fine. If that was how Duncan felt, he’d stay. Duncan clearly didn’t need him. He tried to brush off the deepening insecurity. What did it matter if Duncan or anyone else at Sherrington Holdings didn’t need him? He liked the idea of staying in New York a few more weeks. Maybe by the time he got back to London, his mother would have fled to warmer climes and he’d spend a peaceful few weeks at his family’s estate in Surrey before the board meeting. Time spent with Lady Vanessa Baines Sherrington anywhere, especially at the estate, which his ex, Aiden, had affectionately referred to as “the castle,” was downright grueling.

Cam heard the sound of rustling paper through the phone and a woman’s voice in the background.

“Good. We’ll speak later, then,” Duncan said curtly.

Duncan disconnected the call before Cam could respond.

Happy bloody birthday to me. Had he really thought Duncan would remember? Fuck him. When had his life become a fucking cliché? Poor little rich boy—no one remembers his birthday. No doubt his mother would forget as well. She usually did. He’d enjoy himself more without a lecture about what he should be doing with his life, anyhow. Maybe turning thirty wouldn’t be so bad. He would rather have celebrated with Aiden, of course, but he’d spend the evening at an impromptu party at a friend’s instead, and he hoped he wouldn’t be going home alone. Aiden would be spending time with Sam. As it should be. After cheating on Aiden—on several occasions—Cam couldn’t expect Aiden to stick around, could he?

A quick glance at his watch told him he had time to take the subway to the restaurant. He loved the subway. He’d ridden it for the first time when he’d visited New York City with his mother twenty years ago, on a school holiday. Not that his mother had known about it. He’d managed to escape his mother’s grasp (which wasn’t all that tight since she preferred to spend as little time with him as possible) and he’d slipped under a turnstile and ridden the Lexington Avenue subway for hours by himself. Before then, he’d ridden the London Tube with his father a few times. His father had preferred it to negotiating London traffic when he stayed in the city. He’d enjoyed that, but riding alone had been far more exciting.

As it always was this time of day, the 42nd Street subway station was filled with people headed in a dozen different directions. Cam had always thought of this station as the heart of New York. The first time he’d come here, he’d gotten lost in one of the underground passages and ended up on a train to Brooklyn. Since then, he’d learned his way around the twisting tunnels so well he could navigate them in his sleep.

He headed for the Uptown platform, mixing in with the stream of people coming from Grand Central and managing not to get jostled. The woman ahead of him wasn’t as fortunate. She pivoted to avoid a couple of schoolchildren and fell, dropping her shopping bags on the dirty concrete floor right in front of him.

Cam didn’t have time for this. He looked around, hoping someone would come to her aid. No one did. Bloody hell. “Are you all right?” He offered the woman his hand.

She smiled at him with blue eyes and a face full of wrinkles, took his hand, and got to her feet. “Thank you,” she said with a self-deprecating laugh. Cam helped her straighten her coat, which was open and had fallen off one shoulder. “I’m not much of a ballerina.”

“Not a problem.” He gathered up a few stray grocery items that had fallen out of the bag when she’d taken her tumble, waited until she dusted herself off, and handed the bags back to her. “It’s a bit like entering a race course,” he said as he reciprocated her smile.

“You’re English, aren’t you?” she asked.

“Indeed, I am.” He glanced at his watch. He’d be late for lunch at this rate.

“I visited London a few years ago with my husband.” Her expression grew wistful. “Before he died. We always said we’d make the trip.”

Cam stifled his rising impatience with the woman. “Did you enjoy it?”

“Very much so. We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and spent a few afternoons at the British Museum. We took a train to—” She stopped herself. “I do babble on sometimes.”

He offered her a false smile. “It’s quite all right.”

“Thank you, young man,” she said. “My son says I should take the bus, but I like the subway. There’s music too.”

“Music?”

She nodded. “Listen.” She inhaled, pressed her lips together, and began to hum “Ain’t No Sunshine.” For the first time, Cam heard the sound of a trumpet through the noise of the passengers and squealing brakes of an incoming train. He vaguely remembered seeing someone playing for loose change not far from the passage to the S train.

“Oh, but I shouldn’t keep you,” the woman was saying as Cam came back to himself. “I’m sure you have somewhere you need to be.” She patted him on the arm. “You’ve been very kind to an old woman.”

“It was my pleasure.” He wanted to make his escape. He’d wasted enough time with the woman, but she’d piqued his curiosity. Instead of rushing to catch his train, he walked over to where the musician was playing and stopped to listen.

Giveaway and Chasing Sunrise Blog Tour

 

ChasingSunrise_BlogTour_SHello, hello! I’m Lex Chase and I want to give a big thank you to Shira for hosting me today on the Chasing Sunrise Blog Tour!

Chasing Sunrise paranormal urban fantasy featuring people eating vampires that definitely don’t sparkle, Ancient Roman shifters, torture, war, genocide, and a love story that causes irrevocable consequences. It’s definitely not your standard fluffy paranormal. It’s dark, and leads readers to places that they never thought capable. There are characters you pray they will make it out, hopefully not mangled too badly, there are ones that will make you wish swift and immediate death upon them. And then there are characters you can only run from, and if you can’t, you call on all that is holy you will survive when you likely won’t.

IreneThat character? She isn’t a character at all in a sentient humanoid sense, but she is the wind itself. In the prologue, the kingdom of Darkmore is forever changed when Category 5 Hurricane Gert makes landfall just off the coast. Darkmore is not only all but leveled in the storm, but it sets into motion our plot of betrayal and revenge.

It is a writing sin to open on descriptions of weather. Why? Because it typically is interesting as toast is tasty.

“It was a bright, sunny day…”

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

Blech!

How about: “And the wind was raging.” Oh hey, that’s cool. And there’s something insanely intriguing on using a conjunction right at the start.

I’ve lived on the Florida Gulf Coast since I was a small child, I’ve seen my share of nasty storms, floods, and hurricanes. Upon the first week of moving here all those years ago, I discovered lightning. And I said I wanted to go home back to California. Lightning in the distance is interesting to watch. But when it strikes right in your yard and fries your cable modem? That’s not so interesting. It’s terrifying. The crackle, the white-violet flash, the scent of ozone, your skin tingling with static. Now, talking about it? That’s interesting.katrina_aftermath

I’ve been through Hurricane Ivan. My town “dodged a bullet” as we say with Hurricane Katrina when she turned at the last possible second. We would have survived Katrina. It’s a tragedy what became of New Orleans, and years later much of it still isn’t rebuilt, and some homes haven’t even been entered since.

As for a flood? Well! We just went though this one very recently!

Part what I jokingly call my “Hollywood Blockbuster” writing style, is I want to engage the reader’s senses. Three of the senses that I really work on punching up is smell, taste, and sound. You can’t hear a book.

When I set out writing about Hurricane Gert, I wanted readers to hear her grinding roars of churning clouds. I want readers to hear her clawed fingers scratch and scrabble against the Darkmore palace walls. Hear the shiver in the limestone as the palace trembles. The groaning creak as roof timbers bend and then the sharp snap of breaking.

I wanted readers to cower in the facKatrinae of Gert’s monstrous ways. They should understand, like any storm, people often underestimate how bad it will be, only to be caught off guard that they had tragically underestimated themselves. That by claiming we can conquer even nature we find ourselves victims of hubris. Trying to cast the image that while tragic plot based things are going on and we learn the bad guys from the good guys, it’s the true evil that is bearing down on them.

So when people tell you, “Oh, for the love of god don’t open on weather!” Screw that! Just skip the clichés. Dig deeper. Make it a plot element.

“I will always remember my charred blisters when the second sun ignited the sky in Hiroshima.”

“The snowflakes refused to fall, frozen in time. He wouldn’t dare show his soldiers his deep purple fingers of frostbite. They had a new world to conquer.”

How will your characters survive the elements? As James Taylor croons, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain…” What can you bend that into? An elementary school burning to the ground? A tsunami swallowing an unsuspecting village?

And there…. There is where the story begins.


 

Chasing Sunrise400x600
Genre: Vampires, Werewolves/Shapeshifters, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Fantasy
Series: The Darkmore Saga: Book One
Length: Novel
Published: July 25, 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-62798-776-9
Buy: Paperback or eBook

Blurb:
Chasing Sunrise
The Darkmore Saga: Book One
On the Coastal Bend of Texas, a hidden kingdom called Darkmore lies in ruins, and King Sevon Maraté is trapped. Using Sevon as a mouthpiece and a scapegoat, Lord Dominic rules from the shadows. Sevon copes with the unrelenting abuse by dressing in women’s finery and casting an image of graceful nobility. Born of royal verkolai blood and as beautiful as he is lethal, he possesses the ability to part the Veil separating his world from hundreds of others. His gift is his chance to escape, but Dominic refuses to relinquish his tool for power. Dominic forges an ambitious plan to invade the prosperous land of Priagust. Only a select few know the mythic kingdom of shifters exists. Sevon is out of options for his people’s survival, and cooperating with Dominic is his only chance.

On their foray into Priagust, Dominic’s men kidnap and interrogate a shifter named Jack. Even under torture, Jack’s loyalty to his kind never wavers. But as Jack’s knowledge about Darkmore’s king and its history unsettles Sevon, a curious bond begins to form. Despite Sevon’s mistrust, Jack is determined to tame Sevon’s wild heart and perhaps earn his freedom. As invasion looms, Sevon wonders if trusting Jack will lead him into another trap or if he should forget about chasing the sunrise and remain Dominic’s compliant prisoner.


Chasing Sunrise Excerpt

The United States of America called Hurricane Gert an act of a cruel and terrible God.

The Kingdom of Darkmore called the storm divine retribution for the sins of their ancestors.

The subjects of Darkmore had consulted the broadcasts of American humans.

The humans made preparations against the angry hurricane aiming for the Texas coast. They muttered to themselves in their common tongue that it was a shame about Port Isabel—the coastal city wouldn’t stand a chance.

A shame about Port Isabel? The declaration angered the Darkmore citizens. The furious wind and rain crippled their own capital city.

At least the storm would hit in the daylight, the humans explained in their grating voices.

Daylight was the worst possible time for Darkmore. When the citizens hunkered in their cellars and basements, any shaft of light that stabbed through the cracks would destroy them. The wind, hail, or rain wouldn’t eradicate them, but the sun waited behind the churning clouds for its moment to bleach Darkmore’s subjects from existence and out of America’s shadows. Deep in their bones, the citizens of Darkmore feared the sun from the moment they awakened into their new lives as aisa.

“A shame about Port Isabel,” the humans croaked like bullfrogs.

Anna Maria seethed. What about us, she wanted to snarl into the sweating fleshbag’s face. What about us!

The answer crushed her. Humans didn’t know they existed.

A shame about Port Isabel.

A travesty about Darkmore. The capital city would be gutted like a rabbit and the entrails plucked by her enemies.


Buy Now From:

Dreamspinner Press in Paperback or eBook!


Gold Sunset

Click to enter Lex’s Bundle O’ Books Rafflecopter Here!

You can win one personally signed copy of the Chasing Sunrise Paperback!

Or an eBook copy of Chasing Sunrise!

Ooooor hey, hey, I did write a series about superheroes before! Yes! You too can win the entire Checkmate Trilogy!


LXC_FlamesAbout the Author:

Lex Chase once heard Stephen King say in a commercial, “We’re all going to die, I’m just trying to make it a little more interesting.” She knew then she wanted to make the world a little more interesting.

Weaving tales of cinematic, sweeping adventure, epic love—and depending on how she feels that day—Lex sprinkles in high-speed chases, shower scenes, and more explosions than a Hollywood blockbuster. She loves tales of men who kiss as much as they kick ass. She believes if you’re going to going to march into the depths of hell, it better be beside the one you love.

Lex is a pop culture diva and her DVR is constantly backlogged. She wouldn’t last five minutes without technology in the event of the apocalypse and has nightmares about refusing to leave her cats behind. She is incredibly sentimental, to the point that she gets choked up at holiday commercials. But like the lovers driven to extreme measures to get home for the holidays, Lex believes everyone deserves a happy ending.

Lex also has a knack for sarcasm, never takes herself seriously, and has been nicknamed “The Next Alan Moore” by her friends for all the pain and suffering she inflicts on her characters. She is a Damned Yankee hailing from the frozen backwoods of Maine residing in the ’burbs of Northwest Florida where it could be 80F and she’d be a popsicle.

She is grateful and humbled for all the readers. She knows very well she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and welcomes feedback.

You can find her on those social media things at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LXChase
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lex_Chase
Tumblr: http://lexiconofkittens.tumblr.com

Find her blog at http://lexchase.com or drop her an e-mail at lex.a.chase@gmail.com.


Chasing Sunrise Tour Stops:

7/13 – Chris T. Kat – The Power of Androgyny

7/17 – Michael Rupured – Whispering for Help: Chasing Sunrise Goes Viral

7/19 – Lily Velden – Don’t Lose Your Way

7/20 – Jaime Samms – Screw Sparklepires! Meet the Aisa

7/22 – Aidee Ladnier – Were…what? Meet the Shifters!

7/24 – Grace Duncan – Walking the Runway with Sevon

7/25 – Chasing Sunrise Release Day!

7/26 – Shira Anthony – When Disaster Strikes: Natural Disasters in Fiction

7/29 – Dreamspinner Twitter Takeover with Charlie Cochet

7/30 – It’s About The Book – “I loved you before Nazareth.” Meet Bianca and Chaney

8/2 – Chat at the Dreamspinner Press Facebook Page

8/8 – Charlie Cochet – The Catharsis of Lovers Shirts

8/13 – Gay List Book Reviews – The Necessity of Brutality

8/16 – Tali Spencer – The Shape of Things to Come: Glass Moon

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