Welome, Robyn! And congrats on the publication of Blood, Smoke and Mirrors! How does it feel?
I'm still happy dancing about getting Blood, Smoke and Mirrors published. When I received the email from my editor offering me a contract, I was at my previous day job, and it was about 5 minutes before closing time. I stared at the email in shock, and then walked over to my best friend, Diana's, cubicle. Our office had a no-talking policy, so I very quietly demanded that she hug me because I'd sold the book. We did a silent victory dance. Diana and I had already made plans to meet my husband Jeff and go out for dinner that evening, so I drove home to pick him up. Jeff was waiting for me in the parking lot, and I leaped out of the car and threw my arms around him and started babbling about how I'd been offered a contract. He had no idea what I was talking about, but he was very proud once I calmed down enough to speak clearly.
I love talking about Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, but promoting it is scary. It's hard to sum it up in a few words, and when I'm put on the spot I usually blurt something about how it's got action, romance, and vampires and it's awesome. Marketing is not my strong point. But I am learning, and I'll be attending the Lori Foster Reader & Author Get Together in June. I'm really looking forward to it.
I'm a signed book addict, and I've met many of my favorite authors on tour. Sherrilyn Kenyon hugged me (and I still smile at the memory, she's so cool!). I sat in the front row of a Jim Butcher book signing, and that was really fun. He's a great guy. I'd love to meet Nora Roberts, because she is my absolute favorite author. I hope to attend the RWA national conference one day and stalk her...er, I mean meet her. Oh, and there is an epic story on my blog about how I lost my fangirl mind while meeting Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books at a conference. I also hope to meet her again, and this time try not to loom over her and babble like a romance writing Wookiee.
Haha, we've all had those moments when we meet a favorite author. It's one of those Oh, wow! moments you gotta love!
Even a bad witch deserves a second chance.
Wrongly accused of using her magic to harm, the closest Catherine Baker comes to helping others is serving their coffee. Life as an outcast is nothing new, thanks to her father’s reputation, but the injustice stings. Especially since the man she loved turned her in.
Now the man has the gall to show up and suggest she become the next Titania? She’d rather wipe that charming grin off his face with a pot of hot java to the groin.
Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian—until now. The lingering guilt over Cat’s exile and the recent death of his best friend have shaken his dedication. With the murder of the old Titania, the faerie realm teeters on the brink of chaos. His new orders: keep Cat alive at all costs.
Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.
Warning: This book contains one tough and snarky witch, one gorgeous guardian, explicit blood drinking, magician sex, gratuitous violence against vampires and troublemaking Shakespearean faeries.
“Now, Merrideth, I just told you that this young lady is under my protection, so if you and your people don’t turn around and walk away, we’re going to have a problem.” Lex slipped his hands into his duster, reaching for whatever weapons he had concealed beneath it and sending a clear message to the crowd that he meant business.
“Maybe I should kill one, Duquesne, just to set an example,” Tybalt suggested.
“Don’t even think about it, Silverleaf. Just cut ’em off at the knees, that’s always fun.”
Apparently they took offense to that idea, and without another word they attacked, moving in a dark blur that was hard to see. As the vampires swarmed him Lex drew his weapons in a quick flash of bright metal, swinging a short sword in each hand. Guess that answered the question of why wear a long black coat in June, because swords were a tad hard to conceal without it. The guardian moved with inhuman speed as the fight boiled into the street. I couldn’t spot how he was wounding them, but I smelled the stale scent of vampire blood in the humid night air.
Tybalt’s rapier appeared in his hand and his clever human disguise vanished as he abandoned all pretense of hiding his true nature. The vampires around him hissed in surprise, and he launched himself at them, moving in a dark blue blur I couldn’t follow. I felt pretty useless inside of my safe little bubble, but there wasn’t anything I could do to help. I wasn’t trained as a fighter, and thanks to my witch upbringing I didn’t know any offensive spells. Best I could do was hurl harsh language.
A vampire fell away from the fray in the street, stumbling and then scrambling about searching for something on the ground. After a moment I realized it was looking for the rest of the severed arm that had rolled under a parked car. My stomach heaved and I swallowed hard, looking down at my feet and trying to shove that image out of my brain.
“C’mon now, that had to hurt,” Lex teased the armless vamp. “Why don’t you just take your hand and go home?”
“Only a flesh wound,” the vampire growled as it stretched to reach beneath the car.
Like the worst part of a horror film, it was morbidly fascinating, and I couldn’t help but watch. They were stronger, faster and outnumbered him, but somehow Lex held his own. While the vampires were slashed and bleeding, the guardian didn’t have a scratch on him. Yet.
“Come out and play, little Cat,” a new voice crooned. Turning my attention away from the fight, I found four strangers pacing around the edge of my shields. Necromancers, from the awful smell of them. They circled me like hungry sharks, searching for a weak spot in my shields. Yeah, good luck there. It’d take a lot more than four necromancers to get through my shields, as long as I stood still and concentrated. Unfortunately I couldn’t stand there all night, and it’d be a real long walk to my apartment with them trying to sabotage me the entire way. Not a happy thought.
“No thanks, I like it here.”
“What’s wrong? Afraid?”
Oh, please. Like that was going to tempt me into throwing a temper tantrum and let them jump me. I wasn’t falling for that lame trick. I put my hands on my hips and smiled again, more confident this time as I glanced over the speaker. Another sad fashion disaster dressed in black from head to toe, the necromancer reminded me of one of the many reasons why I hate the goth trend: it was created and nurtured by vampires. The woman wore a ridiculous getup of black lace and vinyl complete with spider-web hose and a corset top, doing her best to look dark and mysterious. She’d make a fabulous vampire stereotype when they killed her.
“I’m real scared of that outfit. Was there a sale at Hot Topic?”
Apparently I hit a nerve and she snarled at me. I opened my mouth to toss another witty insult at her, but was interrupted by a distinctly male sound of pain cutting through the tumultuous noise of the fight, too deep to be a faerie’s voice. My panic level rose as I smelled the scent of strong magical blood. Lex had fallen to one knee.
Charging into the fray, I rushed to Lex’s side. My shields bent perilously inward for a heartbeat before rebounding and hurling vampires out of the way like undead bowling pins. When I reached him my shield stretched and enveloped Lex. My brain paused for a heartbeat to wonder about that bizarre detail, because really it should’ve bounced him out of the way as well since I hadn’t had the good sense to drop them before reaching his side. Deciding to ponder that later, I focused on the set of claw marks slashed across his midsection as I hauled him to his feet.
“This qualifies as distracting me,” he growled in annoyance.
“What? You’re hurt, you need help.”
“Barely a scratch. Ol’ no thumbs there, now he needs a medic.” He nodded at a nearby vampire who was indeed missing his thumbs and most of his fingers, which were scattered around his feet like fat, pale worms.
My stomach bolted up near the back of my throat and I realized we were in trouble, because I was sure I couldn’t shield and retch at the same time. “I think we should let him set an example.” I nodded at the faerie-sized blur darting in and out of the mob.
“No, we’re not, and I was doin’ fine on my own.”
“We need a new plan.” Poking at his wound, I tried to gauge how severe the damage was, accidentally coating my fingers with his blood in the process.
“Had to call a guardian and your pixie buddy, eh witch? Not strong enough to defend yourself,” another new voice commented. I spun around to watch in morbid fascination as the limb-impaired vamp reattached his severed arm.
“And you? Needed a hand?” Lex drawled. “Now you, stay here,” he ordered as he glared at me. He lunged toward the vampire, and the two circled each other in a frenzied dance. “You tired yet? You’ll run outta blood ’fore I even break a sweat,” he taunted the vampire.
“Kitty!” Tybalt called out to me as a vamp landed with a thud at the faerie’s feet.
“Better idea. Conjure sunlight!”
“Just do it. Invoke Apollo, trust me,” the faerie ordered.
I shrugged, not sure where Tybalt was going with his request, considering sunlight doesn’t hurt vampires like it does in movies. Instead of burning them into a pile of ash it gives them severe sunburn, but hey, I didn’t have much else to do while inside my shields, so I decided to run with it. Grabbing my lighter, I held it tight in my right hand, and after sorting through the collection of symbols hung around my neck, I found my sun medallion and clutched it in my left. Holding the button down on my lighter, I turned the flame up to its highest level and held it aloft.
“Great Apollo, drive your chariot hence,
Burning bright for our defense.
Life from light, push back the night,
Chase the darkness from our sight.”
Honestly, I wasn’t quite expecting the result I got. I figured the spell would give me a little bit of sun like the one that had illuminated the room beneath the faerie mound. Instead a small supernova formed from the fire in my hand, a bright white light that blinded me for a moment with its pure intensity. I squeezed my eyes shut as piercing inhuman howls split the summer night. The awful scent of burnt flesh and toasted vinyl filled my nostrils, and I flinched at the heat building up in my grasp. My brain warned me that it would be a smart idea to drop the lighter a split second before it exploded.