Relapse: Prologue


As a special Halloween week treat, I’ve decided to release the prologue of Relapse!!! Please keep in mind that this is the version before the final copy-edit, although I don’t think there are any egregious errors.

You’ll quickly pick up on the fact that this isn’t written from Siobhan’s POV, but most of the book is from her POV, so don’t fret. ;-) You may remember Apate as one of Eric’s minions and the goddess of trickery. I posted a character profile for her awhile back. She’s kind of becoming a demanding character…I’m pretty sure she wants a bigger part in the next book, or maybe even her own book. (Oh, look, I’m starting to talk about my characters like they’re real people now.)

Anyway, without further ado, the prologue of Relapse:

*****

I throw open the door to The End, thunder crashing behind me as I duck inside. Closing my black umbrella sends a shower of water droplets onto the gunmetal gray tiles. I stride up to the bar through a haze of dim lighting and cigarette smoke.

As I perch on the black leather cushion of one of the bar stools, I catch a glimpse of myself in the horizontal mirror lining the back wall. A black mini dress clings to me like a second skin, its plunging neckline dipping even further as I sit down. Silky hair falls in an obsidian curtain around my pale face, cascading down my shoulders to brush the swells of my breasts. My green eyes shine as brilliant as emeralds even in this dull light.

I look hot.

“Apate.”

At the sound of my name, I abandon my reflection and look over at the pair of sunglasses glowering at me from behind the bar.

“Hey, Lou,” I say, curving my lips into a wicked smile. “That is what you’re going by these days?”

Lou raises an eyebrow. “I thought I told you and lover boy to stay out of my bar.” He furiously wipes out a shot glass with a white rag.

I let my grin fall into an exaggerated pout. “That hurts my fweelings.” As I cross my legs, the hem of my dress rides up, revealing a few more inches of fishnet stockings and thigh. “A Dark and Stormy, please.”

Lou slams the shot glass down so hard I’m surprised it doesn’t shatter. He makes a point of dropping the damp rag in front of me before turning to mix the drink. His thick, curly dark brown hair bristles as he shakes his head slowly back and forth, muttering to himself. The muscles of his arms twitch underneath his black t-shirt as he pours and stirs. Tight jeans hug his hips and taut buttocks. Light from a single naked bulb dangling from the ceiling glints off the silver, winged-shaped spurs on the backs of his black leather cowboy boots.

“Nice ass,” I call over to him.

He spins around, picks up the rag and plants my drink down in its place, ice cubes clinking against the glass. “You get one drink. Then I want you out. Eros, too—if he’s here.” Lou’s head scans the crowded room.

“He’s not. That’s why I’m here.” I scoot in closer to the bar and lower my voice. “He’s on the other side. I need you to send a message to him.”

Lou’s head had started shaking before I could even finish the sentence. “No can do.”

I suck up some of the cocktail through the stirrer, the ginger beer prickling my throat as it slides down. “You can, and you will. It’s only kind of your job.”

Lou chuckles. “I don’t work for you, honey. And even if I did, I can’t risk it. The membrane between the universes is thinning. All of the traffic back and forth over the last six years has made it unstable. Any more—even the slightest disturbance—and it may break down completely. All thanks to you and your…friends.”

“Anytime.” I finish the drink in two more gulps, and then shove the empty glass toward him, a stamp of wine red lipstick on the rim. “Thanks for the drink.” I set a one dollar bill on the counter.

“That drink is seven bucks.”

“Give me a break, Lou,” I plead. “You know I’m a poor grad student.”

Lou purses his lips, jaw trembling. He takes the bill and shoves it in his pocket.

“Oh, and thanks for your help,” I add as I pop off the stool.

There’s a hesitant pause before he says, “I didn’t help you.”

“You’ve helped me more than you know.” I wink, and Lou shudders as though I’ve just slapped him. “’Bye, Lou.”

“Good riddance,” he grumbles behind me.

My eyes dart from table to table as I search for a glimpse of bright red hair. I catch a few of the patrons considering me over their drinks, bloodshot eyes climbing up my body. Only one pair of wandering eyes actually makes me pause and look over. They belong to a boy leaning against the wall, balancing a guitar against his hip.

Once his hazel eyes reach my face, I catch his gaze and welcome him with a smile. His Adam’s apple bobs as he gulps, the defiant frown on his face deepening. Now I remember: He’s the lead singer of that band that always plays here—Psycho’s friend. Eros hates him. I think he’s kind of cute. He might be a fun new toy to play with, but I can’t let myself get distracted. I need to find Sam. Reluctantly, I break eye contact with him and continue to weave my way between tables.

Barking laughter coming from a corner booth pricks my ears. Sam and five of his Sigma Iota brothers are crammed into it, guffawing over mugs of beer and slapping each other hi-fives across the table. The one called Alec sees me first, his laughter dying in his throat with a choking noise. He rakes his black hair out of his dark, almond-shaped eyes and sits up a little straighter.

“Pat,” Alec says loudly. The others stop laughing and turn to watch me pull up a chair on the end, next to Sam.

“Hello, boys.” I give them a sheepish, toothless smile and a small wave. “Please, don’t mind lil’ old me—Sam and I just have some business to discuss.”

They hesitate for a moment, exchanging uncertain glances. Alec blinks rapidly a few times and shakes his head before continuing with whatever conversation I interrupted. “So, anyway, Carly and I are in the basement, right—”

“Did you guys do it yet?” one of the brothers cuts him off.

“No, this isn’t—”

“Of course they didn’t,” another puts in. He’s stuffed in the booth between Alec and the wall, his belly peeking out from beneath his polo shirt, straining against the button of his jeans. “She’s a frigid bitch.”

Alec’s mouth falls open in disgust. “Bro, that’s my girl you’re talking about. Have some respect.”

“I thought the Gammas were supposed to be sluts. Their social chair is fucking, like, three guys right now—” The last word dies on the fat one’s lips. He opens his mouth to say more, but no words come out. The brothers look on in panic as he clutches his throat, his lips flapping futilely.

“What the hell, Pat!” Alec cries.

I roll my eyes. “Relax, bro.”

“Fix him! Give him his voice back!”

“He’s fine,” I insist. “He just thinks he’s lost his voice.”

“Well, whatever it is you’re doing—stop!” Alec pleads.

“Just a second,” I promise. Keeping the noose of my illusion slung tightly around the boy’s throat, I lean into Sam. “I found a way to get Eros back,” I whisper, letting my lips brush against Sam’s ear. He shivers as my fingers graze the back of his carrot red hair.

“You did?” His breath hitches in his throat.

I put two fingers under his chin and lift his freckled face up to meet mine. “I’m up here, sweetie.” Without looking away, I reach into my black sequined purse and pull out a folded up piece of yellowed paper. “A ritual. An ancient ritual that will allow us to open up a portal from this side to wherever Eros is.”  Sam’s hand clutches the edge of the table. I pry it off and gently place the note in his palm, closing his fingers around it. “There’s just one, tiny caveat.”

Sam’s blue eyes glance down at his fist, then back up at me. “What’s that?”

“The ritual will require…a sacrifice.”

*****

Relapse releases December 2, 2014!!!

reborncoverbig

Relapse Cover Reveal and Blog Hop!


reborncoverbigReveal day is finally here!!! I get to show you the GORGEOUS cover art for Relapse, designed by the magnificent Heidi Sieverding!!! And yes, that’s Siobhan on the cover…of course! Relapse (Book 2 in the Reborn series) releases Tuesday, December 2, 2014!!!!!!

Summary:

Jasper might be gone for good, but Siobhan can’t escape the memory of him.

Or, rather, Psyche’s memories of him—memories of a kinder, gentler man, not the one who lied and manipulated her. She should have tried harder to reach him—to save Jasper from the darkness consuming him. Guilt—maybe that’s the reason why she still sees his face everywhere she turns. That, or she’s going crazy.

And Siobhan really doesn’t have time to lose her mind. Her best friend is in love with their enemy and is addicted to an alien drug. The Alpha Rhos blame her sorority for their sister’s death and take their quest for vengeance too far. Desperate, the Gamma Lambda Phis call on the help of the most deceitful Olympian of all, making her a promise they’re not even sure they can keep.

Once again, Siobhan finds herself not knowing who she can turn to or who she can trust. She comes to realize that her greatest enemy is the darkness within herself.

Fun Fact #1: One of the major themes in Relapse is addiction, especially addiction to love (hence the title).

Stop by all of these amazing blogs to read all of the fun facts about Relapse!

Inside the Mind of a Fantasy Writer

What a Nerd Girl Says

Shehanne Moore–Smexy Historical Romance

The Light-Bearer Series by Emily Guido

Book Junky Girls

Moonlight Reader

Shayna Varadeaux Books

Beckstar Reviews

Echoes of the Pen

Book Worm Brandy

Updates, Cover Reveal and More!


I haven’t done an update post in a while, so I decided to make a short vlog about the cover reveal for Relapse, scheduled for next Tuesday, October 14!

Book Review: Clockwork Angel


Clockwork Angel is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy. I love Ms. Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series (City of Heavenly Fire is sitting on my bookcase, waiting patiently for me to read it…but it looks sort of daunting…), and it took me awhile to get around to starting The Infernal Devices…but I am oh so glad I did. For me, it was a five-star read. In my opinion, the back cover book summary does not do this book justice. It makes it sound like it’s only about a love triangle–which, for better or for worse, there is a love triangle in this book. That device has sort of exploded along with YA lit in recent years. But anyway, there is so much more going on in this book than that, and I fell in love with all of the characters.

Our heroine, Teresa (Tessa) Gray, comes over to London from the States when she gets a note from her brother, Nathaniel, who moved there for work. Unfortunately, in London she falls into the clutches of the Dark Sisters. They force her to practice her unique ability–with the touch of a personal item, Tessa can shape shift into the person it belongs to–a power she didn’t even know she had until now. If she doesn’t do as the Dark Sisters say, they threaten to hurt Nate. Things are looking pretty grim when they inform Tessa that she is ready to marry the mysterious, powerful Magister. Thankfully, a group of Shadowhunters break into the Dark House and rescue Tessa on what would probably have been her wedding day.

Tessa becomes a guest at the London Institute, run by Charlotte and Henry Branwell and home to three orphans: Jessamine Lovelace, James (Jem) Carstairs, and Will Herondale. She learns about the Nephilim, the world of the Shadowhunters, and the Downworld of vampires, werewolves, faeries and warlocks–the world she herself is a part of. Much of the book is Tessa learning to accept this knowledge, and to accept herself and her ability. There’s also a lot of great action, suspense, and yes, romantic tension, as well as an unexpected twist toward the end.

I loved all of the characters in this book. Cassandra Clare does a magnificent job of weaving together the world of the Shadowhunters with Victorian England. Charlotte, who is truly in charge at the Institute, struggles to make her voice and opinion heard at the Enclave meetings mostly dominated by men. Henry, on the other hand, is too busy tinkering with inventions to run much of anything. I loved Henry–he was the eccentric scientist/inventor whose inventions never quite worked the way they were supposed to. These two worlds also conflict in the character of Jessamine. She’s an aspiring proper Victorian lady who claims to reject her calling as a Shadowhunter, but she’s kind of a bad ass when duty calls. Her parasol turns into a weapon (that was a nice touch).

And then there’s Will and Jem–parabatai, like Jace and Alec are in TMI. There’s a bit of mystery surrounding each of them; both seem to harbor dark secrets, especially Will. Tessa finds herself drawn to each of them, of course. Jem is kind and brave, but unfortunately suffers from a mystery illness that makes it difficult for him to fight. And Will…..well, Will is the gorgeous, dark-haired, arrogant, sarcastic, broody one who lashes out at people because he’s compensating for his inner turmoil/vulnerability–so, naturally, he’s my favorite. Sorry not sorry. You get to find out Jem’s secret in Clockwork Angel, but Will’s past and why he’s so broody and angry is still shrouded in mystery at the end of the book, which was REALLY frustrating, and made  me want to read the next two immediately, except I don’t have them yet. I mean…Will’s not the only reason I want to keep reading, but I won’t pretend like he’s not one of the reasons. Oh, Cassandra Clare, why must you do this to me?

Clockwork Angel also had an awesome ending. Besides the twist, Tessa learns to at least partly accept her unique ability and uses it in a really incredible way. I much prefer when the main character outwits his or her opponent rather than killing them or something. I mean, if the villain was dead after the first book, it probably wouldn’t have been a trilogy, but I just think it makes for a more creative resolution. Tessa is a strong female lead, and I’m excited to see how she grows in the series.

Last but not least, I’m so glad Magnus Bane is immortal, so that he can be in ALL of Cassandra Clare’s books. He was only around a little bit in this book, but the ending hints that he might have a bigger presence in Clockwork Prince. I hope. He better.

 

 

Book Review: The Hush, Hush Series


I haven’t done a book review on here for a while, and I have quite a few to get caught up on. I read the first two books in Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series back in May, and finally got around to reading the third and fourth book this August. I decided to just review all of them briefly in one post. Overall, I really enjoyed them, although unfortunately the last installment didn’t quite pull me in like the others did.

I actually became curious about the series because of a few bad reviews I saw about it. Well, “bad” is probably putting it lightly…”scathing” is more like it. And they had less to do with Ms. Fitzpatrick’s writing style/plot/characters and more to do with her main male character, Patch, her quintessential reformed (or is he?) bad boy character, because, you know, it’s impossible to enjoy a character in a book/TV show/movie while recognizing their less desirable qualities wouldn’t make for a good partner in real life. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.) And, although they’re in the minority, she’s also gotten some bad reviews on Goodreads…and this time, by “bad,” I mean actually just pretty horrible and inappropriate. Basically just bullying. I mean, it’s the Internet, so they could be trolls…but if they’re not, there’s really no good excuse for bullying anyone, ever, no matter how justified you think your cause is. (I know by now you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, so go on Goodreads and take a look for yourself.)

A little more about this at the end of the post. For now, let’s take a quick look at each of the books:

1. Hush, Hush

I thought this was a great debut novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Fitzpatrick’s writing style. She sets the story in the slightly dreary Coldwater, Maine, and creates this perfectly sinister, creepy, Halloween-ish atmosphere. It was reminiscent of L.J. Smith’s earlier work (although, in my mind, few people–if anyone–can trump L.J.). Yes, at this point the plot-line is somewhat overdone and predictable, but I gobbled it up just the same: Nora Grey, a smart, cute-if-something-of-a-misfit high school student, encounters Patch, dark, mysterious boy who seems like bad news, and yet Nora can’t resist his magnetic pull (obviously). I know I sound snarky, but I honestly devoured it. The book is mostly centered around unraveling the mystery that is Patch and his relationship with Nora.

Some have criticized the book as being a Twilight ripoff. There are some parallels, but nothing that jumped out at me as obvious plagiarism. I mean, to give credit where credit’s due, Twilight did open up the market for teen paranormal romance, so there are going to be some similarities. But it is also quite possible for two or more people to come up with fairly similar ideas without being influenced directly by each other’s work.

The books are told from Nora’s point-of-view, and I really liked her character. She’s a smart, motivated high school student. Her best friend, Vee, adds some comic relief to the series and is my favorite character. Nora is also the victim of some pretty vicious pranks by Coldwater’s resident mean rich girl, Marcie Millar. I enjoyed most of the characters, even though secondary ones like Vee and Marcie never seem to break out of their stereotypes. (Marcie starts to, a little, later in the series.)

In fact, I have to say the only character I found to be a little underwhelming was…Patch. For being the dark, mysterious, sexy bad boy, he didn’t really pop off the page for me as much as he should. Also, I never could quite get past his nickname. Patch is just not a sexy nickname, in my opinion. It makes me think of an old pirate with missing teeth or a little kid who gets into a lot of mischief and ends up hurting himself.

But, overall, an entertaining read. I gave it four/five stars on Goodreads because it built up a lot to a twist at the end that wasn’t that earth-shattering. (There is, however, a perfectly creepy seen at Delphic amusement park and a particular ride called the Archangel…I LOVE creepy amusement parks in horror/paranormal books!!!)

If you haven’t read Hush, Hush yet and plan to, I’d stop reading now…spoilers ahead…

2. Crescendo

In Crescendo, we delve a little further into Ms. Fitzpatrick’s dark world of sexy fallen angels and the cursed Nephilim–the children of fallen angels and humans, languishing in between these two worlds and destined to swear fealty to fallen angels. We know that Patch was a fallen angel in Hush, Hush, but, due to the events at the end, now has his wings back and is a guardian angel. But his relationship with Nora isn’t picture perfect, and she catches him doing some pretty suspicious things…like hanging around her arch-nemesis Marcie an awful lot. It doesn’t help that Vee is dating Rixon, Patch’s bff, so Nora can’t quite avoid Patch/people-that-know-Patch completely. Meanwhile, her mother forces her to reconnect with a childhood friend, Scott, who turns out to have some dark secrets of his own. Rixon, though, was my favorite character in this book until…..oh, Rixon…..

From what I recall, this book ended with a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

Four/Five Stars

3. Silence

I enjoyed Silence a lot more than I expected I would considering what happens in the first few pages. Which, thankfully, I can tell you about, since it’s in the book’s synopsis and not a spoiler! Nora can’t remember the past five months of her life…including, of course, Patch. So, yes, part of the book ends up being a series of revelations that the reader already knows. This could have ended up super annoying, but I think Fitzpatrick did an excellent job with it…at least for me, I could see where it might bug some readers. I also enjoyed Patch’s character a lot more in this book, and there were some pretty sexy scenes.

I also gave this book four/five stars, and I did have a few issues with it. First off, what happens to Vee in this book, and especially in the last book? Isn’t she Nora’s bff? Where did she go? It’s like she just disappears for large chunks of books three and four. Since I liked her so much, this was really upsetting. Also, Fitzpatrick seems like she’s setting up a whole Scott-Nora-Patch love triangle…not that I necessarily wanted that to happen, because that’s overdone, too, but it definitely seemed headed in that direction, and then it just…doesn’t. (And then you find out in book four that Scott thinks of Nora like a sister? Um, his affection for her in Silence definitely does not seem brotherly.) There’s also a lot of to-do about Nora and Scott going “as friends” to her homecoming dance–Marcie drags Nora out shopping for a dress, and they make a really big deal about finding a dress, and then–the dance doesn’t happen. The book ends before the dance happens. I found this to just be really strange and kind of sloppy. But I’m still giving it four stars for having a nice blend of sinister, romantic, steamy and funny moments. And Scott, who was kind of a jerk in Crescendo, really redeems himself in this book.

4. Finale

I gave this book three out of five stars because I finished it, but honestly, it was a really disappointing end to the series for me. It had its moments, including some surprising twists at the end with both new and old characters. But all in all, my least favorite in the series. I guess I prefer the off-and-on again of fictional relationships because, when Patch and Nora finally end up together, it’s just…annoying, haha. Their romantic dialogue was a little too contrived or something. It doesn’t all come easy for them in this book–they still have some barriers to overcome, including Nora’s attraction to her own dark side. That could have been a really good, gritty plotline (and something I’m exploring with one of my own characters right now), but it fell short for me. I think because Nora feels too guilty about it, haha. Fitzgerald should have pushed her just a teensy bit more.

I will say, though, that Nora turns into a pretty bad ass character. She has to accept a new leadership role in this book and embrace her Nephilim side, so I liked seeing her character develop in these ways.

***

In summary, it’s a series I would recommend to fans of YA horror/paranormal romance (except for maybe Finale).

And now, to wrap up this review, I’m going to put in my two-cents about the scathing reviews I alluded to above. There are some people who think that the popularity of YA paranormal romance is a reflection of our current culture…and not the nice parts. Now, I get that the books/TV shows/movies of a time period can say a lot about a culture, although I also think part of it is just paranormal romance happens to be one of the “hot” trends right now in book publishing. Its popularity will wax and wane just like everything else, until something new replaces it. That doesn’t mean authors will stop writing in the genre, or that readers will stop reading…just that it won’t be quite the sensation it is now.

That being said, there have always been books that have sought to appeal to our darker side…books that mix elements of the horror genre with elements of romance. I really think that the current YA horror/paranormal romance genre is inspired by (not saying they’re on the same level as) the gothic and dark romanticism movements of long ago–writers like Poe, Hawthorne, Shelley, Lord Byron, the Bronte sisters, Stoker. Writers that explored fringe/outcast characters, antiheroes, and darker themes like the origin of sin, temptation, lust, forbidden love etc. Work that sometimes had a romantic twist to it, albeit a dark one. The idea of darkness being attracted to light, of sin to innocence (like Patch to Nora), is nothing new, and the mere exploring of this theme in writing or some other media is not the same thing as endorsement. So you really don’t have to read the series that way. It’s a forbidden love story…it’s dark and twisted. It’s supposed to be.

 

Help Me Pick a Tagline!


I’ve been struggling with picking a tagline for the front cover of Relapse, so I created a short poll to get your input! My graphic designer is already hard at work on the cover, and I want to give her something to work with.

The first option in the poll was my original idea, but I think Siobhan’s going to be solo on the cover, so it wouldn’t make as much sense anymore.

If you don’t like any of them (which is perfectly ok), you can pick none, or write in your own in the poll or the comments. Or, let me know in the comments if you like one of them but have a suggested reword.

Thanks for your help! :-)

Relapse Playlist


Just for fun, here’s a playlist of the songs I was listening to while I was writing Relapse. Links take you to YouTube.

I guess I really like Placebo…

1. “My Sweet Prince” by Placebo

2. “G.U.Y.” by Lady Gaga

3. “Oh! You Pretty Things” by David Bowie

4. “Cars” by Gary Numan

5. “Bad” by U2

6. “Shout” by Tears for Fears

7. “In the Cold Light of Morning” by Placebo

8. “Shady” by Adam Lambert

9. “Meds” by Placebo

10. “Goodness Gracious” by Ellie Goulding

11. “Blind” by Placebo

12. “Pretty When You Cry” by VAST

13. “Devil Inside” by INXS