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

“Blood and Rain” Blog Tour & Giveaway

Blood and Rain 400x600Blood and Rain is here! Today, Monday December 15th, is release day! Didn’t preorder a copy? You can snag the book at Dreamspinner Press, AllromanceEbooks, and Amazon. But the book at Dreamspinner Press right now, and you’ll get a 25% discount in the ebook format! Buy it at Dreamspinner Press in paperback, and you could get one a copy with vellum sheets signed by me (first 10 copies only).

The Blood Series features three MM couples, and the story has three HEAs (not a surprise, since I won’t write a book without one). Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a long road to get to happiness! The series, three books in all, tells one long story with its main focus on Adrien Gilbert, the youngest son of a French vampire hunter family, and Nicolas Lambert, an ancient (born a vampire, not created) vampire. Adrien’s mother was killed by a vampire when Adrien was just a small child, and Adrien has grown to hate vampires because of it.  Born a vampire, Nicolas is both powerful and kind. The last thing Adrien expects is to fall for Nicolas Lambert.

10850559_972727042741775_1386310541_nBlood and Rain focuses on Adrien’s orders to execute the vampire who murdered his brother. In return for his pledge to escort Nicolas to be married–an arranged marriage meant to solidify a shaky peace between vampire clans–Nicolas agrees to help Adrien find his brother’s killer. Along the way, Nicolas gives Adrien the gift of immortality. But what good is eternal life if Adrien can’t be with Nicolas?

In the second book in the series, Blood and Ghosts, due out in Spring of 2015, Adrien realizes that Nicolas’s gift of immortality comes with certain new abilities, including the power to manipulate time.  When Nicolas is kidnapped, a pawn in a scheme to create a new world order where vampires are subservient to hunters, Adrien searches for Nicolas in the past and the present.

Release day also means the first day of the Blood and Rain Blog Tour and a very special giveaway. Artist Martin Brodour, the gifted man who made the amazing Ea pendant for the release of Into the Wind, has made another unisex pendant to offer up on the giveaway as the grand prize! Based on the Council of Hunters crest, it features a crescent moon cut in half by a vampire hunter’s sword. Second prize is a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate good for any purchase at the DSP store.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here’s the list of blog tour stops where you can comment and earn entries in the giveaway:

15-Dec Joyfully Jay
16-Dec Prism Book Alliance
17-Dec Rebecca Cohen Writes
17-Dec Rainbow Gold Reviews
18-Dec Love Bytes
19-Dec Smoocher’s Voice
19-Dec Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
22-Dec Amanda C. Stone
23-Dec Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
24-Dec Emotion in Motion
25-Dec Molly Lolly
26-Dec Book Suburbia

*****

 Blood Series: Book 1

Blood: Book One

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s 3621890092_4175cd8c60_zinto a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Note: Books in this series must be read in order.

******

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.

Preorder Blood and Rain now at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5805&cPath=1303

 

 

 

 

 

Counting Down to “Blood and Rain”

Blood and Rain 400x600Blood and Rain will be released in just over a week now, on Monday December 15th! You can preorder a copy at Dreamspinner Press, AllromanceEbooks, and Amazon (starting later today, 12/6/14). Preorder the paperback from Dreamspinner Press, and you’ll get 25% off the list price. The first 10 copies or so will include vellum sheets signed by me.

Set in the present day US and in the late 1800s in France, the Blood Series features three MM 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. Adrien’s mother was killed by a vampire when Adrien was just a small child, and Adrien has grown to hate vampires because of it. The last thing Adrien expects is to fall for Nicolas Lambert. Born a vampire, Nicolas is both powerful and kind.

10850559_972727042741775_1386310541_nWhat Adrien doesn’t realize is that the differences between hunters and vampires are far fewer than he’s been led to believe. Adrien’s travels take him to Paris and beyond. Far beyond, in fact, since hunters can become immortal with the help of the ancient vampires. In the second book in the series, Blood and Ghosts, due out in Spring of 2015, that travel becomes a “when” rather than a “where” when Adrien searches for a missing Nicolas in past and present.

Release day also means the first day of the Blood and Rain Blog Tour and a very special giveaway. Artist Martin Brodour, the gifted man who made the amazing Ea pendant for the release of Into the Wind, has made another unisex pendant to offer up on the giveaway as the grand prize! Based on the Council of Hunters crest, it features a crescent moon cut in half by a vampire hunter’s sword. Second prize is a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate good for any purchase at the DSP store. The giveaway link will be active on December 15th here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Blood series is a romance/adventure about vampires and vampire hunters with some pretty unusual abilities. It chronicles three MM couples and a looming war between the hunters and the hunted. An excerpt and official blurb are below. Stay tuned for more blog tour information with a list of stops where you can get entries and have a chance to win Martin’s pendant. Also, please join me on the Dreamspinner Press Facebook page on Sunday, December 14th, from 2-5 p.m. E.D.T. for an author chat. I’ll have excerpts and flash contests you can join in on. Enjoy! -Shira

******

 

Blood Series: Book 1

Blood: Book One

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s 3621890092_4175cd8c60_zinto a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Note: Books in this series must be read in order.

Coming December 15, 2014

******

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.

Preorder Blood and Rain now at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5805&cPath=1303

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal: Anne Barwell’s “On Wings of Song”

OnWingsofSongMy guest today is the lovely Anne Barwell, my fellow Dreamspinner Press author. She’s here to reveal the cover to her upcoming release, On Wings of Song, which is now available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press! And what a gorgeous cover it is, by cover artist T.L. Bland (Dreamspinner’s cover artists are the best, truly!). Be sure to read down for an excerpt from Anne’s book.

Welcome, Anne! -Shira

******

 

Thanks, Shira, for hosting me today J

One of the most exciting parts of having a story published is the cover. I’d decided before I wrote On Wings of Song that I wanted TL Bland to do the cover for it, as she’d done such a great job for Shades of Sepia.

I often start thinking about what I want on a cover while I’m still writing the story. I know it’s kind of horse before cart—out of order—but it’s part of my writing process, although what I want sometimes changes with the story.

Music plays an important part in On Wings of Song, so it needed to be represented somehow. It’s very much a part of who Aiden is until the war rips it away from him. I’m on a music bent this year, but that’s part of who I am and what I tend to write. In some stories it’s more of a background thing with characters being musicians, but with this one, it literally needed to be centre stage.

Jochen and Aiden swap uniform buttons during the Christmas Truce, as they have nothing else to exchange as gifts. Many soldiers on that day gave each other buttons. When I read about it while I was researching the Truce, I knew it was something I wanted to include in the story. Those buttons become much more than a memento for both men, and therefore needed to be represented on the cover too. Finding decent photographs for them was more of a problem than I thought it would be, given the rarity and age of them now. There are plenty of descriptions out there, but not many photographs.

The first part of On Wings of Song takes place during WWI, and six years pass before Aiden and Jochen see each other again. That feeling of a mix of past and present is captured perfectly with the sepia tones of the cover and it being two scenes rather than one. The characters are spot on—I usually cast my characters before I write. That way when I’m asked to provide descriptions, I have something visual as well as text.

I’m thrilled with the cover. I showed it to someone at work—I work in a library so we’re all about books—and was told that it looks like one of mine. I hadn’t thought of that before, of covers representing the kind of books I write, but it makes a lot of sense. The books I write are in part a reflection of who I am, and the covers are very much a part of that too.

TL Bland has done a great job in capturing the story and essence of On Wings of Song. It’s not only a great cover, but fits perfectly as part my growing collecting of covers I have framed on my wall.

You can see more of TL Bland’s work at her website: http://www.thruterryseyes.com/

******

On Wings of Song

Buy link:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5869

Blurb:

Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.

The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.

******

Excerpt:

“I’ve seen it,” Aiden said quietly. “I wish to God I hadn’t.” He looked directly at Jochen.

Jochen met Aiden’s gaze. He’d seen an echo of Conrad’s fire in Aiden when he’d talked about his music earlier that afternoon.

 

“Don’t die on the wire, Aiden.”

 

“I’ll try not to.” Aiden’s words were an empty promise. They both knew it, but what else was he going to say?

 

The red-haired man Aiden had spoken to about arranging the burials walked over to him. He too held a shovel, and he wiped perspiration from his brow despite the cold. “There’s going to be a combined service for the dead,” he told them. “In about ten minutes in no man’s land in front of the French trenches.”

 

As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognized him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?

 

Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.”

 

The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”

 

They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.

 

Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.

 

Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?

 

“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.

 

Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.

 

His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.

 

 

Bio:
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.

 

Links:

Blog: http://anne-barwell.livejournal.com/

Website: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/

Coffee Unicorns: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1

Dreamspinner Press Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_426

Pre-order “Blood and Rain” at 25% Off!

Blood and Rain 400x600Have you been waiting to pre-order Blood and Rain? Now’s the time to snag it for 25% off the list price during Dreamspinner Press‘s Thanksgiving Sale!

Set in the present day US and in the late 1800s in France, the Blood Series features three MM 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.

The Blood series is a romance/adventure about vampires and vampire hunters with some unusual abilities. It chronicles three MM couples and a looming war between the hunters and the hunted. An excerpt and official blurb are below. Enjoy! -Shira

******

 

Blood Series: Book 1

Blood: Book One

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s 3621890092_4175cd8c60_zinto a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Note: Books in this series must be read in order.

Coming December 15, 2014

******

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.

Preorder Blood and Rain now at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5805&cPath=1303

 

 

 

 

 

NanoWrimo 2015 Update: “Running with the Wind” (Mermen of Ea #3)

I just reached 35K on Running with the Wind (Mermen of Ea #3), my NanoWrimo 2015 project! I’m definitely not a through-writer. More like I’ve got my crayons laid out in front of me, I’ve outlined the entire picture, and now I’m “coloring in” random pieces throughout. Eventually, I’ll fill all the gaps between the colors and step back to see the big picture with no white spots left.

conceptart,sailships,art,dragon,fantasy,painting-86fec8008a5e27b29edbffff238c8e73_h

 

“Blood and Rain” Now Available for Pre-Order!

Blood and Rain 400x600Blood and Rain, the first book in the Blood Series from Dreamspinner Press is now available for preorder!  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.

Set in the present day US and in the late 1800s in France, the Blood Series features three MM 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 my sexy hunters and vampires! An excerpt and official blurb are below. Enjoy! -Shira

******

 Blood Series: Book 1

Blood: Book One

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s 3621890092_4175cd8c60_zinto a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

Note:  Books in this series must be read in order.

Coming December 15, 2014

******

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.

Preorder Blood and Rain now at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5805&cPath=1303

 

 

 

You Want to Write… Vampires????

Blood and Rain 400x600I still have readers come up to me and say, “Seriously, you write mermen?” And I guess for a former opera singer who likes to write contemporary romances about classical musicians, it’s a fair question.  Since I contracted Blood and Rain, the first book in my Blood vampire trilogy, I’ve heard similar comments. And I’ve also heard, “I’m not really into vampires, but I guess if you wrote it, I’ll give it a try.”

I love hearing that. Frankly, I love hearing anyone question a trope (vamps, in this case). Because there are so many different vampire tropes out there, it’s easy to make the trope your own. And I can’t wait to hear what readers think of the universe my vampires live in, and how it does, or even doesn’t stack up to other vampire stories.

I’ll admit it up front: I’m not a huge “Twilight” fan. I did go to the movies with my daughter, and I enjoyed them. But my love of vampires doesn’t come from those books, it comes from the darker universe of Anne Rice’s vampires and supernatural beings. I recently read Rice’s The Wolf’s Gift, a book about werewolves, and I loved it. Dark and angsty, it’s more a book about exploring the meaning of life and happiness than it is about werewolves. So when I started writing the Blood series, I was thinking about those concepts. And Blood and Rain took on dimensions I hadn’t initially considered.

So why vampires? Because writing a series that brings into play not only the superhuman powers of vampires, but also the issues surrounding love and life in the context of immortality, was just too much fun to ignore! Sure, there’s adventure and cool powers at the center of the series, but there’s also what I love to write most: intriguing characters dealing with real, human, emotions.

Although the Blood series features 3 male/male pairings, at its center is the love between Nicolas Lambert, an ancient (born a vampire) vampire, and Adrien Gilbert, the youngest son of the Gilbert vampire hunter clan. Adrien never wanted to travel the world–he was happy reading his books and tending to his family’s vineyard. But when his older brother, a powerful hunter, is killed by Charles Duvalier, the Council of Hunters calls upon Adrien to execute Charles. And so begins Adrien’s adventure that will span more than a hundred years.

Adrien soon learns that things are not as he’d imagined, and he has a difficult time accepting the reality of the relationship between hunters and vampires. We follow Adrien as he becomes a man (in the spiritual sense, since he’s already come of age at the beginning of the story) in the late 1900s. We see how his eyes are opened and how he comes to terms with his feelings about the creatures who killed his mother when he was a young boy. And when Adrien is tossed into the center of a political firestorm that pits hunters against vampires and hunters against hunters, Adrien steps up to the plate and fights for what is right.

Next time, I’ll tell you a bit more about the second book in the series, Blood and Ghosts, which takes up where the first book left off in true sequel form. In it, Adrien faces a bleak future without the man (vampire?) he loves. And, since Adrien is now an immortal, that future looms an eternity before him.

I’ll leave you all with a little taste of the first book. I hope you enjoy the excerpt! -Shira

******

Blood Series: Book 1

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

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.

Tentative Publication Date: December 15, 2014

******

Excerpt from Chapter Five:

The setup: Vampire hunter Adrien Lambert kills his first vampire after having been given his orders (the “carte”) from the Council of Hunters. It’s what he’s trained most of his life to do, but the reality of the work isn’t exactly what he expected….

His first few weeks away from the vineyard, he’d kept to himself except when making inquiries into Charles’s location. He’d spent his evenings reading the books he’d brought with him from home, and later, those he’d purchased with the earnings he hadn’t sent home to his father and sister. The third week he’d received his second carte—orders to execute a vampire who’d been discovered lingering over the body of a young woman in a confessional of a church in Bellevue-la-Montagne.

He’d met with the town’s mayor to discuss the circumstances surrounding the murder. The mayor, a balding man whose gaze flitted nervously around as he shook Adrien’s hand, ushered him quickly inside his office, as if he were uncomfortable to be seen with Adrien. Adrien had expected this—François had often told of his own experiences.

“They don’t hate us,” François had said. “Not exactly. But they fear us.” Adrien guessed this was as much a result of the secrecy surrounding the Council as it was because the Council wished to instill fear in humans as well as vampires.

“Please, monsieur,” Michel Albin said as he motioned Adrien to have a seat, “make yourself comfortable. May I get you something to drink? Something to eat?”

Adrien politely refused the mayor’s offer. The Council disapproved of any form of remuneration for its work except for monies collected in the form of annual tithes. He’d asked the mayor for details surrounding the woman’s murder and the vampire, Yves Deniel, whom Adrien learned had lived in the small town for nearly a year before the incident at the church.

“We didn’t know Deniel was… one of them,” Albin said in an undertone with a nervous glance at Adrien’s sheathed sword. “If we’d known, we’d never have permitted him to remain here.”

And whereas François might have protested and reminded the man that vampires were not forbidden from living amongst humans, Adrien remained silent. He would make no excuses for the creatures who’d taken both his mother and brother from him.

Adrien was surprised to find Yves Deniel at his home, a tumbledown farmhouse on the outskirts of town. Deniel had clearly been expecting him—another surprise.

“I know why you’re here,” Deniel said as he opened the door to let Adrien in.

Adrien rested his hand on the hilt of his sword, unsure if Deniel would attack him. He’d been taught to be vigilant, to act quickly to dispatch his target, but he hesitated, unwilling to attack without provocation even though it was his right.

“You admit you killed Mademoiselle Faucher?” Adrien asked.

Deniel would not meet his gaze, his eyes focused firmly on the floor. “I tried…,” he began after a long pause. “I thought sheep’s blood would satisfy my thirst. I hoped… I tried to stop before she….” His shoulders slumped in obvious resignation.

Adrien swallowed hard. He’d spent hours learning to fight. He knew the angle needed to dislocate a skull from a neck, the spot where his blade would meet the least resistance. He knew how to kill, but he’d never taken a life. He reached into his jacket, retrieved the carte, and tossed it at the vampire’s feet. What life? The life of a creature who kills to survive?

“Yves Deniel, you are sentenced to die by the authority of the Council of Hunters. Will you respect the Council’s will, or will you challenge me?”

“I was a farmer,” Deniel said in a soft voice that quavered slightly as he spoke. “We lived a good life here, my wife and I… before I became what I am.” He paused, glanced up at Adrien, then looked away again. “I went to the city…. We’d had a good harvest that year, and I had a few more francs to show for it. I only meant to buy a few tools… I stopped for a drink.” He shook his head. “I’m ashamed. The woman at the bar… She was so beautiful … She spoke kindly to me and told me I was handsome. But when I awoke, she had changed me. God has punished me for my infidelity. I am what I am—a beast—because of my own selfish desires.

“Kill me,” Deniel whispered. “I’m pathetic. I deserve to die for what I’ve done. I can’t stop myself. I won’t challenge you.”

Tears streamed down Deniel’s face. He gripped his sword tighter, but he didn’t draw his weapon. He’s right. He deserves to die.

“She wasn’t the first,” Deniel continued. He began to shake in earnest now, sniffling and sobbing like a child. “My wife… I thought I could transform her as I’d been transformed. I didn’t know… I didn’t realize I was too young, too weak….” He dropped to his knees and buried his head in his hands. “Please,” he begged. “End this before I kill again. You must… you’re a hunter… you must end this!”

Adrien drew his sword with a trembling hand. He would do this. Do his duty. He touched the blade to Deniel’s neck.

“Please. End it for me.”

Adrien’s eyes burned. He should feel nothing but hatred. Pity at best for having fallen prey to the female vampire who’d lured him from the bar. Why did he hesitate? Why should he care that in his weakness, this pathetic man had given in to his baser urges? And yet few humans could resist a vampire’s alluring scent.

It isn’t for you to judge. Your duty is absolute.

He gritted his teeth and inhaled long and deep. He must do this. He set his left hand over his right to steady the blade, then drew it back and swung. He did not miss.

He stood, numb and unmoving, after it was done. Something on the ground caught his eye: the carte, splattered with blood. The smell of copper permeated the air and wound its way to his nostrils, sweet and slightly nauseating. He picked up the carte. He held it between his thumb and forefinger, smearing the blood. He stared at it for a moment, then allowed it to fall from his hand. It fluttered onto the vampire’s lifeless body.

Two hours later Adrien sat in a small restaurant in the center of town, drinking absinthe and staring at the array of bottles against the mirrored backdrop of the bar. He allowed his focus to drift, and the colors of the glass blurred into an abstract rainbow.

He still smelled the blood, even though he’d washed his hands several times and changed his clothes. The mayor had praised Adrien to the point that Adrien had felt both unworthy and uncomfortable. He’d left with the man with little more than a grunted de rien, sickened that he should be praised for what he’d done.

He’d been more than pleased when one of the whores who looked for business at the bar approached him. He’d never paid to fuck before, but the woman was attractive enough. They spent several hours in his room, but even the smell of sex did nothing to erase the blood that stubbornly remained in his thoughts.

Yves Deniel was the first executions Adrien carried out, and although he never again hesitated to follow the Council’s orders, he never could forget Deniel’s pleas. And what if Charles doesn’t deserve to die? The question burned in his thoughts.

“Blood and Rain” Cover Reveal and Contest!

Blood and Rain 400x600No more teasing!!!! Here’s the gorgeous cover for my upcoming release, Blood and Rain from Dreamspinner Press cover artist Reese Dante. I absolutely love the it! Vampire hunter Adrien Gilbert in the foreground in modern dress, ancient vampire Nicolas Lambert in the background in period (1896) dress. The clock that hints at the sweeping timeframe of the story and the time travel element you’ll learn more about in the second book.

Adrien seems to have everything a man could want: money, power, sex, and immortality. The only thing Adrien really wants, though, is to find Nicolas, the vampire who stole his heart. But Nicolas is the pawn in a power play by a faction of vampire hunters who believe it’s time for a new world order. They want to get rid of the treaty between hunters and the ancient vampires who oversee the world of vampires, and their leader, Verel Pelletier, isn’t above using the vampires’ powerful blood against them.

There are three MM pairings in the Blood Series, but the main focus of the series is on Nicolas and Adrien. Adrien will chase through time to reclaim Nicolas’s freedom, and he will quite literally have to face a very personal demon. Given immortality by the vampire he loves, Adrien must learn to believe in his own strength, and he must discover the gifts of Nicolas’s blood.

December 15, 2014 is release day for Blood and Rain, the first book in the series. The second book, Blood and Ghosts will follow relatively soon afterward, so you won’t have to wait long for the continuation of the story. The Blood Series is a supernatural romance with both contemporary and historical romance elements. If you’ve enjoyed the Mermen of Ea Series, I think you’ll enjoy this sweeping romantic adventure. And speaking of mermen and book 3, Running with the Wind, I’m hoping for a Spring 2015 release, so stay tuned for more information about that.

The cover reveal contest ends tomorrow at midnight (October 11th). 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

Below is another excerpt from the story, the end of Chapter Two. This follows the excerpt I shared last week which you can read here. Have a great weekend! -Shira

******

Blood Series: Book 1

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

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.

Tentative Publication Date: December 15, 2014

******

Excerpt from Chapter Two:

Saint-Gervais, France – 1896

 

Now, as the driving rain slowed his progress, François prayed he was not too late. He knew what Charles Duvalier was, but he found Charles intriguing, captivating. Every day since they had read Tennyson beneath the tree had been spent at Charles’s side. And with each day, each sidelong glance, each accidental touch, François’s desire for Charles had grown. He wanted to give his body to such a man, to feel the strength of Charles’s spirit. The Council looked down upon vampires’ preference for their own sex, but François had never thought it particularly strange—he’d always preferred the company of men.

But he isn’t a man.

He urged his horse onward and rounded the corner past the small church on the outskirts of town. He saw Charles, cloaked and leading his horse toward the road, his face obscured beneath his hood. He drew closer, until Charles could no longer ignore him.

Charles stopped and turned to meet François, then drew his horse next to his. “Why do you follow me?”

François heard desperation in Charles’s voice and sensed his growing hunger. How long could a vampire survive without blood? How long could the bloodlust fester before its call became too powerful to resist?

“Take me with you.” François feared Charles’s response, but he was compelled to speak the words.

“Go home. You’ll find nothing but heartache at my side.”

“Then stay here. I sense your longing. You can make this your home.” François moved his horse closer, so that his thigh brushed Charles’s. His fear warred with his desire. He felt suddenly vulnerable. Afraid.

“I don’t want to hurt you, François,” Charles warned. This time, however, his voice sounded softer, less confident.

François shivered to hear his name on Charles’s lips—the first time Charles had ever called him by his given name. A strong gust of wind blew the hood of his cloak off of François’s head, but he ignored it. “I’m not afraid,” he lied.

 

 

Charles stared at François, unable to comprehend what it was about this human—this hunter—that drew him so. He took the reins of François’s horse and put his hand to François’s cheek. He touched François’s honeyed skin, then traced his lips with his fingers and thumb. François gasped but didn’t pull away. This close, Charles caught the scent of François’s blood, full of youth and enthusiasm. Sweeter than any he’d ever encountered. Others spoke of the lure of the blood of the hunters, but he’d never experienced is as acutely as he did now. It called to him, urging him onward. How ironic, that the blood of the only humans capable of destroying him was irresistible.

“Go home!” he shouted as he pulled his hands away.

“Take me with you.” François moved closer, pushed Charles’s hood from his head, then grasped his face with his warm, graceful hands and touched his lips to Charles’s. Barely a kiss.

Charles closed his eyes at the touch. It surprised him to realize the moan was his own. What did François know of the world outside this quiet village? Had he ever known a lover’s lips? He felt François’s passion burn, knew his hunger for more.

“François.” Charles meant it as a warning, but it sounded more like a lover’s moan.

François hesitated only a moment before kissing Charles again, this time with more conviction. A tender kiss. Innocent but full of promise.

His hunger now overpowering his reason, Charles pulled François roughly against him and the last bit of his self-control evaporated. He combed his fingers through François’s wet hair, kissed his lips, his cheek, and then his neck. François’s pulse pounded against the softest part of the skin beneath his ear—the place where Charles would satisfy his hunger, where he could drink deeply. He thought of nothing but François, of tasting him, devouring him. When he could hold back no longer, he sank his teeth into the sweet flesh of his neck, the taste of blood sweet upon his lips. God, but that blood tasted sweeter than he’d imagined!

“Charles.”

For a moment time stopped. Charles no longer heard the sound of the rain. He heard only the roar of blood coursing through François’s veins.

You must stop this.

François’s heart skipped a beat, then another as Charles struggled for control. Each time he tried to withdraw, the pleasure overwhelmed him and he drank deeper. The heat of François’s blood coursed through Charles’s body like fire. He wanted François. He wanted to possess him, to feel the last drop of his life as it flowed out of his body. He had never tasted blood as sweet, as fulfilling.

Nothing existed but the two of them, their souls intermingled. Charles experienced François’s passion, his hunger, his physical need. His thoughts filled with François’s memories. He leaned over a bed and put a cool cloth to his brother’s feverish brow. He cried at his father’s side as his mother was laid to rest. He sparred against his father, their swords ringing as they touched. He saw Adrien as a boy, weak and confined to a bed. He felt François’s guilt in the knowledge that he hadn’t been there to help when his mother and Adrien were attacked. He felt François’s joy as he sat under the shade of the vines and the stories he read unfolded. He saw himself beneath the oak tree, handsome and mysterious, as François saw him.

François grew weaker. His arms dropped to his sides and his body slumped against Charles’s. Forced to release his purchase on François’s neck or risk him falling to the ground, Charles pulled him off his horse and gathered him into his arms. How light François felt, how fragile he seemed in that moment. For all its strength, François’s hunter heart weakened, its erratic beat slowing.

Do you want him to die?

“François,” he said, although his words were for himself alone, “please forgive me.”

Guest Blogger Brynn Stein: Through the Years

TTYPlease welcome fellow Dreamspinner author Brynn Stein today! Brynn is here talking about her brand new release, Through the Years. Congrats on the release, Brynn! -Shira

Thanks Shira, for hosting me today. This is the fourth stop on blog tour for Through the Years.

On my last stop, I talked about Edward. I’d like to talk about my other main character, Gene.

The story is told in first person, through Gene’s eyes. He gets a full scholarship to an Art Institute in 1967 and piles everything he owes in a beat up Chevy and heads to Maryland. He meets Edward on his first day they and they become fast friends. We follow them through their college years and are just as befuddled as Gene when Edward leaves unexpectedly, not only the area, but the entire state. Gene goes through his senior year basically on autopilot, not understanding why Edward will correspond with their mutual friend, Robbie, but not with him.

When Edward comes back to Maryland years later, he has a wife and little girl in tow. Gene knows he’s back because he sees him from time to time, but they have little else in the way of contact until tragedy strikes and Edward finally reaches out to Gene again.

Immediately Gene is back in his life. He loves Edward’s wife and becomes “Uncle Gene” to their little girl and another one when she comes along.

Gene has always had little to no sex drive. He even thinks he might be completely asexual until he meets Edward. But even with him, it’s not an all-consuming desire. He’s content to just be friends and be included in his life.

Gene is there through all the celebrations and hardships that comes along with life. He unconsciously waits for Edward for years, but finally finds another man who peaks his sexual interest. Nick is good to Gene and more importantly, doesn’t think a relationship with him is wrong, like Edward did.

Lots of other things happen, but I’ll leave it vague for now.

Have you ever been attracted to someone you can’t have? Is there a friend who has stuck by you through the years, no matter what life has thrown at you? Comment below to be entered into the raffle.

Here’s how the raffle works:

I’ve listed the tour stops below and have given either the link to the blog in general or to my post specifically. Feel free to stop by as many as you want. For each stop that you comment on, you will receive one entry to the giveaway. I’ll check all the stops numerous times throughout the tour and will draw five winners on Thanksgiving Day, so even if you come in late to the tour, you can go back through the list and comment on past stops.

I’m giving away five prizes. 1) a signed paperback copy of Through the Years; 2 and 3) electronic copies of Through the Years, 4) your choice of either a signed paperback copy or an audiobook of Living Again (the audiobook won’t be available until December), and 5) an electronic copy of Haunted.TTY2

Blog Tour Stops for Through the Years

Blog Stop Date Blog Owner Blog Address
1 October 6 Anne Barwell http://annebarwell.wordpress.com
2 October 7 Grace Duncan http://www.grace-duncan.com/
3 October 8 Jessica Skye Davies http://jessicaskyedavies.blogspot.com
4 October 9 Shira Anthony www.shiraanthony.com
5 October 10 Emma Tett http://emmy-j.blogspot.co.uk
6 October 11 Kim Fielding
7 October 12 Bike Books Reviews bikebookreviews.blogspot.com
8 October 13 Tempest O’Riley http://tempesteoriley.com
9 October 14 Sean Michael http://seanmichaelwrites.blogspot.ca/
10 October 15 Allison Cassatta Allisoncassatta.blogspot.com
11 October 16 Jana Denardo http://jana-denardo.livejournal.com/
12 October 17 Louise Lyons http://louiselyonsauthor.wordpress.com
13 October 18 PD Singer http://pdsinger.com
14 October 20 Shae Connor http://shaeconnorwrites.com
15 October 21 Suki Fleet http://sukifleet.wordpress.com
16 October 27 Charlie Cochet http://purpleroseteahouse.charliecochet.com
17 October 28 Elizabeth Noble http://www.elizabeth-noble.com/my-blog
18 October 29 Tara Lain http://taralain.com
19 October 31 Sophie Bonaste http://sophiebonaste.blogspot.com
20 November 4 Kit Moss http://kitmossreviews.blogspot.com
21 November 10 Lane Hayes lanehayes.wordpress.com
22 November 13 Mike Rupured http://rupured.com

 

Thanks again Shira, for letting me stop by today.

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5539

Blurb for Through the Years

Edward and Gene were instantly drawn to each other when they met at college in Maryland. Fast friends, they developed a “closer than brothers” relationship. But then Edward began to feel more for Gene. In 1967, those kind of feelings would not be tolerated. Not even by Edward himself.

Gene always thought he was asexual. He had never been attracted to anyone… until he met Edward. He dreamed of Edward as more than a friend throughout college, but he knew Edward would not welcome that kind of attention. So Gene wasn’t surprised when Edward reacted badly to a drunken kiss just before Edward’s graduation. He was surprised when Edward moved to Florida and had little to do with him for years afterward.

When fate finally brings them back together, Edward is married and has a little girl. Gene gladly accepts the role of “Uncle Gene,” happy to have Edward in his life in any capacity. Together, they face all the trials and tribulations life throws at them, including the death of Edward’s wife, and as each grows and matures, their life views change. The relationship they’ve secretly wanted all along is closer than ever, and if Edward can break free from his homophobic upbringing and admit his feelings for Gene, there might still be a chance for them to share their lives in the way they both desire.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

 TTY3

Brynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres – everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural – she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered ‘slash’, male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.

Brynn lives in Virginia with one of her two two-legged children, and two four-legged ones. Her supportive family encourages her writing and provides a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.

Please feel free to contact Brynn at any of the following:

https://twitter.com/BrynnStein

http://brynnstein2.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/

or

brynnstein2@gmail.com

 

“Blood and Rain” Contest and Cover Tease!

Blood and Rain Part 3Teasing all ya’ll again… I promise this is the last one, though! You can see Adrien’s hands now, and his beloved hunter sword, “Ianus.” Next week, I’ll reveal the entire cover. But for now, just so you don’t shoot me, here’s another excerpt. The excerpts follow in order, so you can backtrack to the first cover tease post and read forward if you’d like.

I’m just about done with book two in the Blood Series, Blood and Ghosts, which will be released in early 2015. It also features Nicolas Lambert, one of the main characters in Blood and Rain, and Adrien Gilbert, the vampire hunter who falls in love with him.

The Blood Series features three MM pairings and is both a contemporary and an historical supernatural romance, spanning more than a century from 1895 to the present day.3621890092_4175cd8c60_z

The vampires and hunters in the series share a common heritage, although both like to downplay that connection. 1896 sees the first in a series of moves on the part of a faction of hunters who believe the ancient Council of Hunters should sever its ties to the vampires who helped found the institution. Led by Verel Pelletier, the separatist hunters create havoc in the Council and ultimately take over its governance. Pelletier has a plan: to use vampires’ blood to create stronger hunters and ultimately eradicate vampires completely from the world. In the midst of this turmoil, Nicolas and Adrien fight to preserve the longstanding peace between their races. It’s a fight that continues into the present day.

Each week for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been 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. Next week, I’ll reveal the entire cover. 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

Below is another excerpt from the story, the beginning of Chapter Two. This follows the excerpt I shared last week which you can read here. Release day is December 15th!!! Have a great weekend! -Shira

******

Blood Series: Book 1

Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.

After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.

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.

Tentative Publication Date: December 2014-January, 2015

******

Chapter Two: Blood and Rain (continued)

Saint-Gervais, France, 1896

François Gilbert drew his cloak tighter around his body as the rain stung his face. The sound of the wind through the trees was like a plaintive cry, almost alive, as if the storm shared his heartbreak. His horse snorted in protest as he took off at a gallop. Time was short. It had taken him longer than expected to leave the house without being seen.

He hasn’t left yet. The thought did little to tamp down his growing despair. He urged the horse onward, pushing the animal near to its limits. He gritted his teeth against the wave of grief that wrapped its fingers around his heart as he left the vineyard behind. He imagined his sister’s sweet smile and his father’s embrace. Those things he would miss, but more than anything, he regretted the look of pain he’d seen on his brother’s face the last time they’d spoken.

“You intend to go with him, don’t you?” Adrien asked as he’d tended the vines. He didn’t look up to acknowledge François.

“It’s hardly the first time I’ll be away, Addie. You’ll take care of Isabelle while I’m gone, won’t you?”

“Of course I’ll take care of her.” Adrien frowned, still focused on the plant he held between his thumb and forefinger. “But this isn’t the same. You’re not coming back this time, are you?”

“Of course I’ll—”

“The Council won’t forgive this. All that you’ve done… all you’ve accomplished…. Is he worth the sacrifice?”

François offered Adrien what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “He doesn’t believe he is. But my heart says otherwise.”

“And what of the vineyard? Father can barely afford to pay our accounts. If you leave—”

“I’ll work,” François said, feeling the sting of guilt. “I won’t be a kept man. I can do more to help our family if I leave this town.”

“Please don’t leave.” Adrien gazed up at him, eyes brimming with tears.

“You’re strong, Adrien. Stronger than you know.” Even now, Adrien saw him as the stronger brother. How ironic, that Adrien was more powerful. More cunning. Able to see the broader picture. More introspective, but François understood this gave Adrien the advantage when it came to understanding people.

Adrien, I wish you could see yourself as I see you.

Adrien shook his head and turned back to his work.

“Be well, Adrien.”

 

François first met the man with silver hair and eyes the color of the ocean while running an errand for his father. He’d just returned from a trip to a nearby village, where farmers had discovered several dead animals. The Council had suspected wolves were to blame, but as with all such reports, they’d dispatched a hunter to investigate. With each such foray beyond the confines of the small village where he lived, François yearned to travel farther.

François had been immediately and inexplicably drawn to Charles Duvalier, the brooding nobleman who shunned the trappings of Parisian society and traveled without manservant or carriage through the French countryside. Never fearful of strangers, François had introduced himself to Charles.

“François Gilbert.” Charles’s eyes sparkled with obvious amusement as he repeated the name. “Would the Council approve of your speaking to me?”

François laughed. “I do not need the Council’s permission to speak to anyone. And should you offend my delicate sensibilities, I am more than capable of killing you.”

“You chose to speak to me, knowing what I am?” Charles asked.

“You don’t frighten me.” It wasn’t quite the truth. François was afraid. He just wasn’t sure why.

“I should frighten you.” The humor François had sensed in Charles fled in the wake of something darker. Pain. Guilt. François knew these feelings well, though he’d tried to hide them from his family and especially his brother.

Undeterred, François had approached Charles again the next day, this time as Charles sat on a stone bench under the shade of an ancient oak. The rain, which had fallen steadily for nearly a fortnight, had broken the evening before. It would rain again soon, but for now the early spring breeze was cool and the sun shone brightly through the breaks in the clouds. François didn’t wait for an invitation. Instead, he sat down next to Charles as he read a book of English poetry.

“Alfred Lord Tennyson,” François said when Charles didn’t acknowledge his presence. “And in English, no less.”

“You’ve read him?”

François did his best to hide his pleasure at Charles’s look of surprise. “Yes. Also in the original English.” When Charles raised an eyebrow, François added, “No doubt you think me uneducated because I live in such a small village.”

A smile danced on Charles’s lips. “I’m pleased your father taught you as well as he did.”

“Do you know my father?” His father had never spoken of Charles. Then again, his father rarely spoke of his life before he’d married their mother.

“We’ve met.”

François had hoped for more explanation, but he wouldn’t press Charles. Instead he smiled and asked, “Which poem is your favorite?”

“Ulysses,” Charles replied, clearly waiting for his reaction.

“An interesting choice.” François smiled and recited, “My purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: it may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, and see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

“Impressive.”

“Is that you, monsieur? Are you Ulysses? Always wandering, always yearning for new horizons?”

“Perhaps.” In that moment François sensed Charles’s loneliness so acutely, it made his chest ache. He cursed his gift of empathy, for it made him long to free Charles from the pain. He gently touched Charles on the shoulder. Did he imagine Charles’s sigh in response?

“I would like to wander with you sometime, monsieur.”

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