Since Halloween is just days away I thought I’d share a picture of me and my daughter on her first Halloween. She was a little mummy for her mummy! LOL. My daughter was just three months old in this photo.
It’s FRIDAY! Doing the Happy Dance here! Today I have some fun for you at my friend’s blog so please come join Sia and me as we chat about the inspiration for THE CLAIMED!
Have your coffee (or tea) ready for our chat about Romeo & Juliet and Happily-Ever-Afters.
Boy, do we have a lot going on today on the blog! First up I have my friend and fellow author Laura Kaye here to talk about her February Nocturne Cravings release, IN THE SERVICE OF THE KING.
Then it’s the start of the NAUGHTY AFTER DARK BLOG HOP! Look to the bottom of this post for info on my giveaway and where to visit.
Next, visit with me at the Harlequin Paranormal Romance blog as I chat about my February Nocturne Cravings release. NOCTURNAL WHISPERS and have a little giveaway. Also, don’t forget about the NOCTURNAL WHISPERS Release Party – Feb 1 to Feb 29! Many thanks to those of you who have already downloaded NOCTURNAL WHISPERS and those who have agreed to review it! To celebrate the release, we’re going to be having a month long release contest. To be eligible to win a $25 Gift card, copies of AZTEC GOLD and THE FIFTH KINGDOM plus a LOST T-shirt and an awesome tote bag, just click here!
Whew, that was a mouthful! But now, without further ado, here is my friend and fellow author, Laura Kaye!
About In the Service of the King
Book 1 in the Vampire Warrior Kings Series
Harlequin Nocturne Cravings
Kael, Warrior King of the Vampires, loathes the Night of the Proffering. He needs the blood of either his mate or a human virgin to maintain his strength, but hasn’t enjoyed the ritual since he lost his mate centuries ago. Kael doesn’t want a new companion, yet his resolve is tested when he lays eyes on his new offering, Shayla McKinnon. He is drawn to Shayla’s beauty and poise…and the submission she offers. She is eager to give him anything he wishes, including her innocence, to please him. Will Kael give in to their overwhelming desire–even if it means risking Shayla’s life?
Standing before Kael again, Shayla’s neck and shoulders tightened as her apprehension increased.
“Shayla, look at me.”
As much as she’d been waiting for his voice, it still startled her. His use of her name. His tender, regretful tone.
She knew she must obey, but was afraid if she did, she’d lose control of her emotions—and she wasn’t sure whether hurt or anger would win out. Neither was appropriate to show, and both were likely to result in tears.
The king stepped toward her until he was easily within arm’s reach. “Young Shayla,” he whispered, coaxing her. A long moment passed. And then he fell to his knees before her, his face tilted upward so their eyes could finally meet.
She gasped and her mouth dropped open. He was more fascinating, more gorgeous, than she had even fully recalled. Fire danced behind his eyes, and flashes of gold shined out through the emerald. He was smiling, and it highlighted the strong masculine angles of his jaw and cheeks so vividly it stole her breath. A reaction amplified by the appearance of the sharp tips of his fangs. Shayla licked her lips.
Despite being on his knees, he radiated such palpable power she could feel it jangling in the air between them.
Oh, God. He’s on his knees. A throaty sigh escaped her as she dropped to her own. She was always to be below him.
“Now I can’t see you again.” The warm, amused tone was back. “Please look at me.”
Taking a deep breath, Shayla finally obeyed. Her gaze raked over his intricate tartan robes before finally settling on his handsome face. When their eyes met, the smile he let loose dazzled her, and she smiled back. His playfulness, the incredible sense of ease now possessing him, made it harder to hold on to her anger.
“Thank you,” he said. She nodded. “I have some things I’d like to say to you. Are you willing to hear them?”
“Of course, Your Highness.”
Kael frowned for a moment, and Shayla didn’t have time to figure out why before he spoke again. “I hurt you, and I owe you an apology.”
She inhaled to speak, but he cocked his eyebrow and she fell silent. She nodded again instead.
“I don’t just mean for hurting you with the knife, although I am…beyond sorry you had to endure that.” He grasped one of her hands in both of his and her lips fell open. His touch was so warm, so encompassing. “I lost control and it compromised your safety, your well-being, and that is my first responsibility to the Proffered.”
Shayla’s shoulders and gaze dropped as he referred to her title again. She internally reprimanded herself for expecting anything else.
The fingers on his free hand nudged her chin up and beckoned her to look at him.
“Shayla, I lost control because I…I felt something, with you. Something I don’t feel…ever. I…”
She should’ve been focusing, listening, but… Did he just say he felt something for me? With me? Lost control because he felt something…as in, he has feelings? For me?
He chuckled. “Where did you go, young one?”
Shayla shook her head. “I’m sorry, Your Highness.”
He squeezed her hand and dipped his head to look up into her once again diverted eyes. “Shayla, could you please call me Kael?”
Her gaze flew to his and she gaped. “Yes?”
His grin brightened his whole face. “Was that a question?”
“No, Sir—er, Kael.” A blush bloomed hot on her face.
“Mmm, that is lovely. And so fragrant.” He fingered her cheek. “I would like to taste you, Shayla.”
She gulped and shuddered as her heart took off at a mad gallop. “O-okay.”
“Okay,” he whispered as he leaned in.
This wasn’t the wild kiss he’d claimed her with earlier. His lips found hers gently, reverently, as if he was savoring small tastes of a rare gourmet meal. One large hand grasped her shoulder and the other cupped her cheek—both brought her closer to him. He pulled and sucked at her lips, his hair falling around their faces as he rose up over her. She opened herself before he even demanded it of her—her body remembered his exquisite taste and begged for its return.
Their tongues stroked and explored, but she needed more. She pushed forward just enough to suck his whole tongue deep into her mouth.
Sweet fulfillment exploded against her taste buds, dragging whimpers and moans from her. He groaned and her hands flew to his hair. Her left hand found masses of thick silky bronze she gripped and tugged as she held him to her, but her right hand fell on his jeweled braid.
Knowing the significance of it, she yanked her hand back, afraid she’d offended him.
But then his big hand grasped hers where it rested against his chest and pulled it back up to his head. “Hold me,” he whispered against her lips. “Touch me.”
To celebrate her new release, Laura is giving away one e-copy of In the Service of the King at each stop on her New Release Tour, 1/30 – 2/15! In addition, all commenters from across the tour will be entered to win a prize bag filled with swag and various vampire items, perfect for the vampire lover! RULES: Must leave a comment on this blog with your e-mail address & if you are from the U.S. in the comment. Ebook prizes open to international; prize bag to U.S. only.
About Laura: Voted Breakout Author of the Year in the 2011 GraveTells Readers’ Choice Awards, Laura is the bestselling and award-winning author of a half-dozen books. Hearts in Darkness is a finalist for the EPIC eBook Award for Best Novella, Forever Freed won the NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best Paranormal of 2011, and North of Need, the first book in the Hearts of the Anemoi series, was named GraveTells’ Best Book of 2011 and won their 5-STAR Gold Heart Award, and won Sizzling Hot Read of the Year at Sizzling Hot Books. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.
NAUGHTY AFTER DARK BLOG HOP
I’ll be giving away an ARC of THE CLAIMED and a LOST T-shirt to one lucky winner! Just tweet or share this comment on Twitter or Facebook.
The Jersey Shore like you can’t imagine-THE CLAIMED #paranormal #romance May 2012 PLZ RT http://awe.sm/5fSef
I know we’ve had a fun time chatting about the real science in SINS OF THE FLESH — okay so maybe it’s just me whose had fun with that — but without passion, the science is meaningless isn’t it?
For me, the greater enjoyment in SINS OF THE FLESH came from taking two people who had externalized their passion – Caterina with her music and Mick with his family – and placing them in a situation where they had to acknowledge a different kind of desire. Both Caterina and Mick had been avoiding their own needs for love for a variety of reasons, but when brought together by Fate, they can only deny what they both need for only so long.
Today’s Wicked Wednesday is an excerpt from SINS where Mick and Caterina are finally admitting that there is something growing between them. Something neither of them has experienced before.
In this scene, Mick has just returned home from a visit to the laboratories where Caterina had been genetically engineered against her will. He has gone there to try and get more information on what was done to Caterina. While heading to the building, he runs into an old adversary – Mad Dog Donnelly. Mad Dog has been hired by the scientists to eliminate any loose ends, namely Mick and Caterina.
Mick arrives at home, bloodied and injured and Caterina takes charge, determined to help Mick with the injuries he has suffered on her behalf. Along the way, passion builds . . .
Carefully she tended to the cuts and scrapes on his face, the look on her face intense as she worked. Concerned and guilt-ridden.
He tried to reassure her as she cleaned a scrape on his chin with light strokes. “Like I said, the other guy looks worse. Besides, the fight had little to do with you.”
“I don’t understand,” she said and leaned one hip against the edge of the table as she worked.
“The guy I fought has a problem with me. We used to work together.”
“In the Army?” she questioned as she started to pick up the dirty swabs and remnants of gauze and tape, shooting him a half-glance as she waited for his answer.
“They’d never take a psycho like him into the Army.”
He rose from the chair and the motion brought him close to her. Too close. Her shoulder brushed against the wall of his chest, creating that skitter of reaction once more.
Her head snapped up. Her eyes were that intense ocean blue once more, the pupils wide. The blush even stronger across the high slashes of her cheekbones. She licked her lips in a nervous gesture and the moisture glistened on her lips.
Very luscious womanly lips.
He dipped his head down, hesitating when he was about an inch away. Warning himself that if he took a taste . . .
He did, barely brushing his lips against hers. Experiencing the hitch in her breath that spoke of surprise. Shocked at the moment where surprise became acceptance.
Caterina joined her lips to his, the need for human contact overwhelming any caution about the logic of what she was doing.
His lips were warm and surprisingly soft beneath hers. Mobile as they gently explored hers, pizzicato plucks playing at her heart strings.
She laid her hand against his chest to steady herself. That rock hard chest. Too warm beneath her hand. The skin smooth.
So smooth, she thought as she skimmed her fingers down the length of his body.
He ripped away, toppling the kitchen chair behind him in his haste to be away from her.
Raising his hands, he said, “That should not have happened. I’m sorry.”
She hated that he was right. It shouldn’t have happened. “I’m sorry as well, it was just . . .”
“The satisfaction of surviving. I’ve been through it before. It’s a natural reaction after a battle,” he said and she imagined that he had experienced this same feeling before. The conquering hero coming home to whatever woman awaited him in that place. Celebrating the victory over an opponent. Thumbing his nose at Death.
She understood. Her father had been a warrior in a suit, vanquishing opponents in the marketplace. He would come home, drunk with victory and liquor. Beating his chest and belittling her mother’s accomplishments and joys. Diminishing them to aggrandize himself until her mother had stopped believing in herself.
Until her mother had ceased to exit.
“I understand,” she said, not that she approved. But she couldn’t control herself from reaching up and running her fingers across her lips to savor the lingering feel of him.
His gaze tracked that motion too intently, but then he shuttered that gaze. His face turned stony and his lips thinned into a tight line as he reined himself in.
“I’m going to go get changed,” he said and left the room.
She watched his retreating back, wondering about the kind of man he really was. If there was anything to him other than the warrior who lived only for his own gain and success.
A gain that had to be substantial, she assumed, thinking that Edwards would be willing to pay a great deal to get her back. Would Mick tire of the challenge she seemed to be presenting and turn her over to Edwards for that bounty?
Or was he a man of honor beneath the dangerous and hard persona he insisted on displaying to others?
As she stood there, considering it, she realized either scenario was risky for her. And she realized that just like she had refused to let her father determine where her life would go, she couldn’t just rely on him to get her life back for her.
She had to find a way to take care of it herself.
I hope you enjoyed that little teaser! If you’d like to read more, check out the chapters with this cool widget from Grand Central Publishing. For those of you who cannot see the widget, you can click on this link for some more free reads of SINS OF THE FLESH.