Clinton and Stacy go to the Demons

posted by Nancy

Jessica Andersen, a bestselling RITA and RT nominee and the author of more than 20 Intrigues and Nightkeeper novels, returns to the Lair with her latest hot Nightkeepers installment, Demonkeepers! I particularly like this hero, Lucius. He started out as a somewhat fanatical grad student, a scholar with an archaeological bent, as Jessica will explain in more detail. In this book, he comes into his own as a man of action, someone capable of taking the lead, not just taking direction, and finds the love of his life. Welcome, Jessica! Tell us about Lucius.

The other day on Smart Bitches, an emailer asked for help finding the author and title of a certain book that included an ‘ugly duckling leaves town, grows into a swan, and comes back years later to win the team captain’ plotline.

The request spawned a debate in the comment trail, with some posters admitting to a deep and abiding love for makeover plots, while others gagged at the thought of trying to relive high school or argued that team captains tended to age badly (paraphrasing- lol).

I thought the debate was interesting, not the least because my new release, Demonkeepers, is in part a male makeover story, paranormal-style. So I figured I would bring the discussion over here to the Banditas. (Thanks for having me here today, Nancy and company!)

In the first three Nightkeeper books, we see Lucius as a too-tall, somewhat awkward guy who wants to be more than his human self, and regularly makes his Mayan-studies coworkers do eyerolls over his belief that the 2012 doomsday—and mankind’s mythical Nightkeeper protectors—are real.

In Nightkeepers, he falls under the influence of a Mayan demon that spurs him to betray his mentor and steal an ancient scroll. This demonic weakness plagues him, causing him to do Very Bad Things until the demon is finally exorcised in Skykeepers.

During this exorcism, Lucius gains magic and acquires most of the mass and strength of a Nightkeeper male (i.e. check out the drool-worthy cover at the bottom!), becoming the beefy hunk he’s always wanted to be. But when he’s paired with Jade, the magic-wielding one-night stand he never forgot, he quickly figures out that a paranormal makeover didn’t solve his problems … in fact, it created a few new ones.

While I’ll confess to having a certain weakness for Biggest Loser and What Not To Wear, I’m not usually all that big on makeover stories, and the whole ‘ugly duckling returns home a swan and wins the team captain she always had a crush on’ thing typically makes me twitch. Trust me, when most of the guys in my graduating class friended me on Facebook the day I posted my (heavily Photoshopped) author photo—after having ignored and/or tormented my awkward nerdling self throughout high school—my life didn’t change noticeably.

So when Lucius’s story started gelling on the page, I thought long and hard before I went in the direction he was taking me. But then I started writing and an interesting thing happened: The old, extremely brave yet occasionally awkward Lucius started coming through stronger and stronger as the story progressed. Eventually, I realized that Demonkeepers wasn’t really about his makeover, it was about him and Jade learning to trust each other again while coping with change, pressure, expectations … and the threat that the world will go dark if they don’t break the sun god out of the underworld.

So I guess that’s my take-home: I can get behind the makeover plotline if the character’s growth doesn’t happen simply because he or she looks better and is more confident. Which isn’t to say I have anything against looking good (whatever your definition of the term!) and being confident … it’s that I want the physical improvements to be the cherry on my romantic sundae, not the banana on the bottom.

Er … so to speak. LOL.

Here’s a prequel:

Last night

“It’s just not working. He can’t do it by himself.” Strike’s voice on the phone was digital-clear. Still, it took Jade a moment to pull her brain out of I’m-studying-hieroglyphs mode and put it into I’m-a-Nightkeeper mode.

Especially since, despite her ancestry, the whole magic-wielding-warrior thing had never fit her all that well.

As her brain processed Strike’s words, the walls of her borrowed office in the university’s Mayan Studies department got a little closer and the clay figurine she’d been working on seemed to stare at her a little harder, as if wondering what the hell she was going to do next.

Good question.

“I’ll do it.” For a second she thought Strike had said the words. Then she realized she had. Gulp.

The Nightkeepers’ leader seemed to catch her inner oh, crap. “You don’t have to.” But he didn’t say they would think of something else. The magi had already tried everything else, and they were running out of time.

If Lucius was going to connect to the magic, it needed to happen tomorrow. And since the magi had tried every spell, sacrifice, and uplink known to Nightkeeper-kind, they were down to their last real option: sex magic.

“Don’t worry about me. I can handle it.” The churn low in her stomach suggested otherwise, but she ignored it. “Been there, done him.”

Not that her and Lucius’s previous wham-bam was making this conversation any easier—exactly the opposite, in fact. But she wasn’t about to mention that part to Strike. The Nightkeepers needed what they needed … and so did she.

“If you’re sure …”

“I’m sure. Period, end of sentence.”

“Then I’ll pick you up tomorrow afternoon.”

“It’s a date.” Which was true, except that her date didn’t have a clue she was coming.
Jade disconnected and dropped the phone back down beside the clay figurine, which now seemed to be wearing a look of are you sure this is a good idea?

“It’ll be fine,” she said, not sure if she was talking to herself or the little clay person. “It’s just sex magic.” Or in this case, friends-with-benefits magic.
What could go wrong?

… To find out how much does go wrong, pick up Demonkeepers from Signet Eclipse!

So tell me … where do you stand on makeover books, particularly paranormals? Got one you’d like to recommend?

All comments are entered to win a signed copy of Demonkeepers today on Romance Bandits! I’ll be checking in throughout the day, so stop by and say ‘hey’!

For more information on Demonkeepers and the other Nightkeeper novels, please check out www.JessicaAndersen.com

Demonkeepers is in stores now! Woot ☺ (I’m never sure how to punctuate happy faces … should there be a period after that?)

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