Posted by Nancy Northcott Jun 21 2013, 12:27 am in contemporary romance, Jesse Hayworth, Jessica Andersen, Mustang Ridge, westerns
Today’s guest has a familiar face, a new name, and an RT Top Pick for the first book in her new Mustang Ridge contemporary western romances. Welcome, Jesse!
Thanks, Nancy! I’m psyched to be back, have my towel and my magical makes-twenty-pounds-disappear bikini (I wish!), and have an umbrella drink on its way. So hit me with some hunky cowboy questions!
For those who missed your last appearance, please tell us how Jessica Andersen became Jesse Hayworth.
Well, the short answer is that I’m writing a different sort of romance these days—about the cowboys, cowgirls and city slickers of a family-run Wyoming dude ranch. The Mustang Ridge books are so different from the running-and-screaming romances I write as Jessica Andersen, that it seemed best to use a pseudonym.
The long answer? I met the man of my dreams on Match.com, and I stopped wanting to blow up the world and started wanting to live in it, instead.
Huh. I guess that’s the short answer, after all. Go figure!
Either way, it’s a great answer. Horses play a big role, not surprisingly, in Summer at Mustang Ridge. How did you come by your knowledge about horses and riding?
Once upon a time, an unsuspecting Mom took little Jesse to a flea market, but it turned out it was the wrong day. Sensing an impending meltdown after the long car ride, she cast a look around, and said, “Hey, look. Pony rides!” The rest was history.
Over thirty-some years of scrimping and working my butt off to keep horses in my life, I’ve had some amazing experiences. I’ve ridden on the Saratoga racetrack, galloped bareback through the surf, stood in the warm-up ring beneath Madison Square Gardens, watched the sun come up over horse-dotted fields, and agonized through injuries, illnesses, losses, and bad hay crops.
These days, I don’t own a farm, a horse, or even a helmet anymore … but my version of “quitting” didn’t last long. A few months ago, I signed up to volunteer at a local rescue that not only rehabs horses and donkeys, they do community outreach and offer programs for at-risk kids. I’m loving every minute of this new phase of things!
That sounds like a fabulous way to enjoy horses and help kids.
Who are the hero and heroine of Summer at Mustang Ridge?
The hero, Foster, is the gruff, handsome head wrangler of Mustang Ridge Dude Ranch. He’s got a magic touch with the horses, a knack for keeping the greenhorns safe out on the trail, and a plan for the future that doesn’t involve getting tangled up with a fancy city girl who doesn’t belong in his world.
The heroine is single-mom Shelby, who takes a summer job as the assistant cook at Mustang Ridge, hoping the animals and ranch experience will help her troubled daughter, Lizzie. She never guesses how much a few months will change both of their lives.
What keeps Shelby and Foster apart?
Life, family, priorities, thousands of miles … This is a romance that builds between two grownups who know themselves well, but have been burned by love and still carry the scars.
You have an unusual character called Herman. Can you tell us a bit about him, including what inspired him?
I grew up with a Herman! Okay, my Herman hadn’t been with the family for ten generations (more like three or four years), and my mom didn’t dress him up with different color towels depending on her mood. But she definitely talked to him like the ranch cook, Gran, talks to her Herman, and it was a Sunday tradition to feed him.
Oops, that didn’t really answer the question, did I? Herman is a sourdough starter!
*G* Would you like to share an excerpt?
Well, since you mentioned Herman …
Shelby stepped into the kitchen. “Good morning, Mrs. Skye. I’m—”
“Shelby.” The older woman turned away from the big double oven and smiled. “But you’ll call me Gran. Everyone does.” She glanced toward the hallway, eyes twinkling. “You lose the little one again?”
Apparently, word traveled. “She’s still in bed. She might come find me when she’s up, if that’s okay?”
“Of course. Or you’re welcome to go fetch her.”
“I don’t want to take time away—”
“Poosh.” Gran waved that off. “Kids take the time they take, and everyone else works around it, right? We all pitch in for each other here, because that’s what family does.”
Shelby exhaled. “That’s not exactly how my family worked, but I get your point.” And she was grateful for it. “Where do you want me to start?”
“Are you hungry?”
“Starving, but I can nibble and work.”
That earned her an approving nod. “Then let’s introduce you to Herman Skye.”
Shelby looked around. “Is that your husband?” Yesterday she’d gotten the impression that it was just Krista and Gran running the ranch.
“Heavens, no. Arthur is off riding the fenceline, probably won’t be back until sundown.” Gran went to the counter beside one of the big stoves, retrieved a big blue-and-white earthenware bowl covered with a red checkerboard kitchen towel, and carried it across to set it on the main counter. She paused for a second like she was waiting for a fanfare, and then she whipped off the towel with a flourish. “Herman, I’d like you to meet Shelby. She’s going to be helping out in the kitchen while Bertie is off having her baby. Shelby, this is Herman Skye.”
The bowl contained an amorphous ball of beige dough that was about the size of Shelby’s head, and smelled faintly of beer.
Staring down at it, she thought, It is way too early for this.
She was being punked, right? There was a camera somewhere, watching to see how she handled it when her new boss formally introduced her to a blob of bread-to-be. “Um … hi, Herman. It’s, ah, nice to meet you?”
“He’s a valued member of the family.” Gran gave the bowl a fond pat that jiggled the dough a little, then grinned. “Let me guess. You’ve never met a sourdough starter before?”
Is that what it was? “I’ve made sourdough a few times. Flour, water, a couple of those yellow yeast packets—”
The older woman covered the dough with both hands, like she was blocking its nonexistent ears. “Herman, don’t listen to her. It’s not true!”
“No Cookie would ever be caught dead with freeze-dried yeast. A good sourdough starter is the hallmark of a great ranch. Why, back in the day, during roundups the Cookie would sleep with his starter right there in his bedroll, making sure it didn’t get too cold.”
“He slept with his dough,” Shelby repeated, resisting the urge to look for the hidden cameras.
“Not dough. Starter.” Gran scooped up the air and breathed it in. “It’s a living yeast culture. Every time I use part of Herman to bake with, I feed back the same amount of flour, water, and a few special ingredients to keep the culture alive.” She bustled into the pantry, returning a moment later with a fat biscuit in one palm and a manic gleam in her eyes. She held it out. “Here. Taste this.”
Shelby took the biscuit, which was admittedly a good-looking specimen, generously rounded on the bottom, rising up through dozens of flaky layers to a slightly lopsided top. It was browned top and bottom, and the buttery smell made her mouth water. So she took a bite.
As she chewed, Gran enthused, “Herman has been alive for more than two hundred years, ever since Jonah Skye won his first five hundred head in a poker game, cashed in his gold to buy Mustang Ridge, and settled here with his wife, Mary. She started Herman with some yeast, flour, water, and a few potatoes, and he’s been an important part of our kitchens ever since.”
Shelby wasn’t sure she wanted to know that any part of her breakfast predated the Civil War. As biscuits went, though, it was good—fluffy, flaky, melt-in-her-mouth good. Amazingly, delectably good. So good that she was on the verge of a jingle, or at least a good tagline. Starter Wars: a rebel alliance against little yellow packets!
Okay, maybe not. And maybe the slogans were a knee-jerk response whenever she was out of her comfort zone. But how could she take this seriously? “Um. Where do you want me to start?”
I loved that bit! What’s next for you?
More Mustang Ridge! The second and third books will be out in 2014 (I’m finishing up the third right now.) After that, I’ve got a couple of ideas that I’ve been toying with for some new Jessica Andersen books. We’ll have to see how it goes, but I would love to write under both names!
As a reader, I’d love that, too! Anything else you’d like to say or anything you’d like to ask everyone?
Thanks so much for having me at the Lair today, Nancy (and Banditas!), and helping me celebrate Mustang Ridge Dude Ranch finally being open to the public!
In honor of hunky cowboys and the women who love them, I’ll be giving away an autographed copy of Summer at Mustang Ridge to a randomly chosen commenter today. So, in honor of Herman, tell me … When you hit the buffet on your first morning at Mustang Ridge, what’s on your biscuit?
I’m going with a poached egg, a slice of prosciutto, and a touch of Hollandaise.
You can connect with Jesse via her website, www.jessehayworth.com. You can also find her on Twitter, where she’s @JesseHayworth, or on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/authorjessehayworth.
Thanks for joining us today, Jesse!
Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 26 2013, 12:40 am in contemporary romance, Jesse Hayworth, Jessica Andersen, Summer at Mustang Ridge, Sunset at Keyhole Canyon, Western romance
Today’s guest has a familiar face and a new name. As Jessica Andersen, she wrote the fabulous Nightkeepers paranormal romance series. Now she’s moving in a different direction, writing contemporary westerns as Jesse Hayworth. Summer at Mustang Ridge, her debut, is a Romantic Times Top Pick.
Welcome, Jesse! I guess the first question that comes to mind is “Why have you adopted this new identity?”
Hi, Nancy, and thanks so much for having me! I always look forward to stretching out beside the pool, drink in hand, and enjoying the cabana—er, scenery. To celebrate, the GR joined me and the gang at Mustang Ridge for a photo shoot yesterday. What do you think?
LOL! I think the rooster is jealous…
As for my alias … I feel like I should be twirling an imaginary mustache, but really, it’s not at all sinister. Exactly the opposite, in fact. Because the Jessica Andersen brand is all about dark, gritty paranormals and suspenses, we wanted to launch a fresh name for these lighter, funnier contemporary romances, so there wouldn’t be any confusion (for me or the readers, lol).
I went with “Jesse” because I didn’t trust my own ability to remember a new name, and “Hayworth” because it combines my married (and admittedly unpronounceable) name with that of my extremely cool grandfather.
How did you go from the Mayan apocalypse to the American west?
Honestly? I fell in love. Real, honest-to-goodness soulmate time, guaranteed-to-put-onlookers-into-a-diabetic-coma, ‘til-death-do-us-part love.
Before, when I was in a not-so-healthy relationship and then out on my own, my revision letters were always along the lines of “maybe you could ease up a bit on the conflict and show some softer moments.” But after getting myself into a better mental space and then meeting Arizona, they tended more towards “love the romance, but can you amp up the conflict?” In short, I lost my need to blow stuff up and started wanting to write happier, funnier books.
When I confessed this to my editor and agent, they loved the idea of me (a long-time horse trainer and barn owner) writing about a family-run Wyoming cattle ranch populated with hunky cowboys, disaster-prone dudes, and a ranch cook who treats her sourdough like a member of the family.
Please give us an overview of this new series. I was disappointed not to find either or the novella available this week–should’ve paid attention to release dates!
The Mustang Ridge books are coming soon (May and June), and I can’t wait! This has been a really natural evolution for me, and I think it really shows in the stories, which center on a ten-generation cattle ranch that twins Krista and Jenny Skye have turned into a dude ranch, much to their grandfather’s annoyance. But with their grandmother ruling the kitchen and the cabins booked to capacity, there’s no question that Mustang Ridge is a success. Too bad they can’t say the same for their love lives …
You’re launching with a novella, Sunset at Keyhole Canyon, in May and then have the first novel, Summer at Mustang Ridge, coming out in June. How did you come up with this approach?
Since this is a new name and a new genre for me, we wanted to give readers a chance to check out Jesse Hayworth ahead of time with an online novella before the first big book launches. Sunset at Keyhole Canyon is a stand-alone romance set at Mustang Ridge, so we’re hoping folks will check it out, love it, and want to read more about the Skye family and the two- and four-legged folk at Mustang Ridge!
Please tell us about Sunset at Keyhole Canyon.
Welcome to Mustang Ridge, a dude ranch where guests get a taste of life in the Wild West, and two cowpokes just might have a second chance at love…
When Nina books a week’s stay at Mustang Ridge, the vintage-inspired interior designer is looking forward to some time away from the city’s dating scene. She’s greeted by flower-studded hills and snow-capped mountains under a stunningly blue Wyoming sky, but her excitement goes south the moment she spots a man she never wanted to see again. Why is Ben there? And, dang it, why is her heart racing?
Ben’s sister Cheryl had set him up on a date with Nina months ago, and even though things didn’t work out, Cheryl still thinks they’re meant for each other. So she surprises her brother with a trip to the ranch for his birthday. Besides, a busy surgeon like Ben needs a break from working at the hospital. Now that his schedule is out of the way, can he make time for Nina? Or will one of the other hunky guests rustle her away?
An unexpected shiver went down the back of Nina’s neck as she and Traci turned to see the newcomer rounding the back of the bus. And then the hot-cold-hot shot straight to the pit of her stomach at the sight of brilliant blue eyes beneath dark, heavy brows, a slightly crooked aquiline nose and angular jaw, and a face that looked like something off an ancient Roman coin, rugged and beautiful at the same time.
The breath rushed out of her in a squeak, sounding like someone had just line-danced on a mouse. “Ben?”
He did a double take that would’ve been comical under any other circumstance. “Nina?”
“What are you doing here?” It came out sharper than maybe was necessary, but she hadn’t expected him. And she sure wasn’t prepared to feel an echo of the same “wheeee!” sort of roller-coaster dip she’d felt when she’d first met him.
“Cheryl booked me for a week—” He broke off, expression darkening. “Oh, nuts. She didn’t.”
A half-hysterical bubble of laughter locked itself in Nina’s throat. “Apparently, she did.” Oh, Cheryl, what have you done? Why?
“Who is Cheryl?” Traci demanded. “And what did she do?”
“She’s my sister,” Ben said flatly, “and she’s a dead woman.”
The ragged giggle broke through, because if Nina didn’t laugh, she didn’t know what she would do. “She’s a customer at my interior design store, a friend who got it in her head that I would be perfect for her brother, and vice versa. But we went out once, things didn’t click, end of story.” That was close enough, anyway. “She took it okay, but when I told her I wanted to get away by myself and do something I’d never done before, she, ah, recommended Mustang Ridge.”
“And then booked me a week’s vacation for my birthday, and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” he said in a tone that wasn’t quite sour, but wasn’t all that happy, either. “It looks like she set us up. Again.”
“You … oh, wow.” Traci looked from Nina to Ben and back again, her expression one of What are you, nuts? He’s gorgeous! Which he was, more even than Nina remembered. Or maybe it was seeing him out of the city, away from both of their natural habitats, that made him seem different. Not out of place, though … where her new Wranglers and shiny boots felt like a costume, his looked like old, battered friends, as if there was a whole other side of him that she hadn’t seen before.
Then again, it wasn’t like she’d gotten the chance.
“So …” He let it draw out. “What are we going to do about this?”
That was the question, wasn’t it? Logic said they should just roll with it and have their vacations. They were both grownups, and it wasn’t like they’d had some blazing affair that had crashed and burned. They had gone out once, that was all. There shouldn’t be any awkwardness.
And if she kept telling herself that, maybe the funny churn in her stomach would settle down.
This is No. Big. Deal. Learn it. Love it. Live it.
Pasting smile on her face, she said, “I can coexist if you can. No hard feelings, right?”
He studied her, expression unreadable, and nerves sparked in her belly at the thought that he was going to call her on the lie. After a moment, though, he said, “Are you sure? The way I see it, you’ve got dibs.”
“I … yeah. What the heck.” Trying to play it mega cool and recapture the excitement she’d felt as the bus turned into the long dirt road leading to Mustang Ridge, she settled her new Stetson low on her brow and shot him a wink. “Let’s ride, cowboy.”
Love it! You’ll be back in June to chat about Summer at Mustang Ridge, but can you give us a teaser?
I’d love to! Actually one of my favorite write-ups comes from the Romantic Times review:
(Hot) 4.5 stars and a TOP PICK
“Hayworth’s print debut, the second in her Mustang Ridge series, is a beautiful love story expressed in simple, elegant language about a vulnerable mother, her troubled child, and an enigmatic cowboy who has been scarred by love. With a solid plot and a host of sympathetic, genuine characters, Hayworth takes her time weaving a tale of love and healing, all set against the beautiful rural backdrop of the Wyoming mountains. This heartwarming story is a keeper.”
Congrats on the great review! What’s next for you?
At the moment, I’m all Mustang Ridge, all the time, baby! The second book, Winter at Mustang Ridge is in the can and slated for a February 2014 release, and I’m working on next summer’s Harvest at Mustang Ridge. I’ve also been doing some dating advice columns for an online horse magazine, which has been super fun, and I’m working on more joke book covers and a related book trailer right now! I’m doing whatever I can to get the word out about Jesse Hayworth, you know?
For more information on Jesse Hayworth, click the links above or friend her on Goodreads!
Jesse’s giving one commenter today a prize package containing ARC of Summer at Mustang Ridge, Made-in-Wyoming Cowboy Chocolates, and Buffalo Smooch lip balm, so tell us about your favorite western book, movie or TV program. Do you read other authors who have alternate identities? If so, who are they, and what do they write?
Posted by Nancy Northcott Apr 18 2013, 11:38 am in Boom, Dee Davis, favorite books, favorite videos, Georgette Heyer, historical romance, Jessica Andersen, Nancy's blogs, Nora Roberts, paranormal romance, Patricia Rice, small town romance
Sorry about the late blog, everybody! My head was wrapped around a different day, but I’m here now and ready to roll.
There are certain books or videos I go to when I need to kick back, relax and read or watch something I know I’ll enjoy. Anything by Georgette Heyer makes that list, and I’ve built up a good collection of her books. If I want to see a smart, brave guy with a wicked sense of humor turn the tables on his snooty, condescending relatives, I go for The Unknown Ajax.
Or I might reach for Frederica (love the way the Merrivilles upend Alverstoke’s neatly ordered and self-centered life) or, if I want something a little darker, Regency Buck (is the hero really a hero? Or is he a villain in disguise), or, if I’m the mood for clashing swords, The Conqueror (can an invading Norman knight win the heart of a Saxon maid while his liege tries to win the country?).
Those are my top four favorites of hers.
In the clashing swords video department, with a touch of mystical fantasy thrown in, is The Thirteenth Warrior, starring Antonio Banderas. Our frequent guest Gerri Russell recommended this movie to me. I love the Viking elements and the evolution of Banderas’ character from scholar to warrior. And, of course, the thirteen warriors risking themselves to protect a kingdom from bear cult marauders has a lot of appeal.
My all-time favorite ever book is To Kill A Mockingbird. I was so disappointed that the museum in Monroeville, AL, was closed when we were in that area last summer. But it’s not a comfortable choice. It’s a thought-provoking book, a beautifully written book, with justice served at the end, but it’s sad, too.
Books or movies with a heavy eew factor also don’t make the list. Eew moments are not relaxing. Sagas also don’t qualify for me. So the LOTR trilogy, book or film, doesn’t qualify as a comfort choice. Now, there are some eew moments in The Thirteenth Warrior, I have to admit. Sword fight are not, er, tidy. But the rest of the movie outweighs the eew factor, so maybe it’s better to say the eew has to be outweighed by the fun stuff
Boom, on the other hand, why, that’s very cathartic. Hence the presence of SWAT on my comfort list and my video shelf. It has lots and lots of boom and stars Colin Farrell as the sympathetic hero (Farrell’s character, Jim Street, played by the late Robert Urich, was my favorite of the TV SWAT guys).
Samuel L. Jackson is the tough mentor, Jeremy Renner is the sleazy bad guy, and Michelle Rodriguez is great as the kick-butt female cop. Maybe we should qualify this, though, by saying that the boom cannot be accompanied by the spurting blood and graphic depictions of injuries that some action films love to linger over.
If I want romantic suspense, I reach for Dee Davis or Cindy Gerard. I love Dee’s A-Tac series and Cindy’s Black Ops, Inc. I’m so sorry to see A-Tac about to wind up. But one of the joys of owning a book is the ability to read it again. Pictured at right is Double Danger, the latest release in the A-Tac series.
Anything by Patricia Rice qualifies for the list. One of my favorites is Merely Magic, the book that introduced the Malcolm and Ives families. I loved the interplay of the siblings, the Georgian setting, and the mysterious man who threads his way through the series until he takes center stage in the final book.
Another favorite by Patricia Rice is an oldie, Denim and Lace. It’s a western and opens with the heroine shooting the hero. It has romance and boom! What’s not to love?
For superb writing, excellent performances, and a balance of comedy and drama, you can’t beat early Boston Legal. If I’m in the mood for something like that, I might watch an entire disc at a sitting. All three of us loved this show.
For paranormal romance with a fabulous arc, hot romance and plenty of boom, I’ll take Jessica Andersen’s Nightkeepers. Now that the series is complete, I can go from book 1 to book 7, secure in the knowledge that I’ll be happy when I get to the end.
It’s hard to pick a favorite book in that series. The first, Night Keepers, is a wonderful setup for the entire series. But I also love the fourth, Demon Keepers, for the geek-to-hero transformation of Lucius. Choices, choices.
As our regulars know, I grew up in a small town and have one in my Protectors mage series. So it probably isn’t surprising that I have a weakness for books set in small towns. One I’ve read many times is Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights. I love escaping to the little town of Lunacy, Alaska, and seeing the hero, Nate Burke, come back from personal tragedy in his new job as its top cop.
I don’t like the oversize paperback format (the picture at right is not distorted but proportioned for that format), but that’s not a problem on an e-reader, which is how I usually read it. Yet the book stays on my keeper shelf because, hey, never know when the power might go out.
I do like the Alaska setting. One of my guilty pleasures is Alaska State Troopers on NatGeo. I’m not sure why, except the setting. I don’t watch any other police reality shows. Except I did like Police, Camera, Action! out of the UK, which was shown on TLC for a while. And, hmm, also not set where I live.
Anyway, getting back to the topic, I also love Nora’s Chesapeake series and her Sign of Seven trilogy. And, of course, Chasing Fire, which is not set in a small town, as these others are, but features the small, close-knit community of the Missoula Smokejumpers.
These are some of my favorite go-to books and videos. What are yours? Do you go for pure romance or suspense? Do you want some magic or some book thrown in?
I’ll give one commenter today a choice of a Protector or Renegade ARC. The winner can also opt for a download instead of an ARC if downloads are available in the winner’s home area.
And tonight I’ll post my winner and Jennifer McQuiston’s from last month. I just realized I hadn’t done that. The announcement will be in the comments and will go up as a booty post.
If you haven’t already clicked “like” on my Facebook page and inclined to, you can find it here.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Nov 8 2012, 12:16 am in Bear Claw Crime Lab, Jessica Andersen, Nancy's blogs, Nightkeepers, paranormal romance, Spellfire
Today is an exciting day and also a sad one. Having Jessica Andersen in the Lair is always a pleasure, but she’s here to talk about Spellfire, the last book in the her wonderful Nightkeepers paranormal romance series. I love these books, as many of you know, and while I’ll be glad to see the Nightkeepers triumph (at least, I hope they will!), I’ll miss knowing there’s another book ahead. Spellfire is a Romantic Times Top Pick, with a 4.5-star rating, so the series is ending on a high note.
Welcome, Jessica! How did you feel when you turned in the manuscript for Spellfire, knowing it was the last Nightkeepers book?
Sad. Drained. Giddy. In dire need of a pool boy bearing a scorpion bowl … yet elated at the same time, because I’m really, proud of this series and how it came around to (in my opinion, anyway) a really satisfying conclusion.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing these books since 2006 (the launch book, Nightkeepers, came out in June of 2008). So much has happened, both in the world at large and in my own small corner of it, that it boggles the mind. Not the least that the first book acknowledged my fiancé, the last book is dedicated to my amazing husband, and they’re most definitely not the same guy!
I’m love how this last book of the series brings it home. And whenever I get sad, knowing I won’t be writing another Nightkeeper book, I look over at my shelf. It helps knowing that I can visit them any time, both on the page and in my head. That’s the awesome thing about books!
I know I’ll be visiting them on the page again. Please tell us a bit about Spellfire.
This is Rabbit and Myrinne’s story … It had to be, really, because even though Rabbit wasn’t in the original outline, the eight-book series wound up not just being about the Nightkeepers’ war to save mankind from the 2012 doomsday, but also about Rabbit growing up (and blowing stuff up).
He started out as a snotty teenager who just appeared out of nowhere in one of the first few scenes, and tried his darnedest to steal every book along the way. Now he’s all grown up (and then some, rwor!), and his love of self-destruction has the potential for some very big consequences.
As for Myrinne … well, I know lots of readers aren’t so sure about her as Rabbit’s heroine (I wasn’t either, until I got to know her better), but she’s come a long way, too, baby. She’s finally got the magic and power she’s always wanted, only to find that it comes with responsibilities she never even dreamed of. And where the Nightkeepers are almost always stronger together than apart, it seems impossible to believe that she and Rabbit can put the pieces of their relationship back together before the end date … or that they should even try.
What has writing the Nightkeepers you learned about writing a series?
Keep It Simple, Stupid!
Okay, not really, because there’s nothing simple or stupid about these books. However, I did learn the importance of focusing the camera lens on the moments that are most important to the main characters of the current book. Yes, everyone’s lives are marching forward as time passes, and yes, it’s important for me to know what’s going on in the other characters’ lives, but in books as long and complex as the Nightkeeper books, it can’t all fit on the page.
Also in terms of simplifying, I’m currently working on a trio of books that are set in the same story world as each other, but don’t really have overarching plot connections. Partly it’s because that’s the way these books are writing, and partly it’s because I want readers to pick up one of these new books having never read the prior ones, and be able to dive right in. Which isn’t necessarily true for the Nightkeepers.
While writing this series, you’ve also written the terrific Bear Claw Crime Lab books. How did you juggle these projects so successfully?
Aw, thanks for saying I’ve been successful at it! It was a struggle sometimes, I’ll admit, especially given that I alternated writing the two series.
Usually I would stop in the middle of writing a Nightkeeper book to write the outline and first three chapters of a Bear Claw book, submit that for approval to Harlequin, finish up the Nightkeeper first draft, submit that to NAL, write the rest of the Bear Claw book, and submit it just in time to do the first round of revisions on the Nightkeeper book. It was crazy!
I think I’ve said it here before, but I’ll say it again: Fonts are my friend. I always wrote the Nightkeepers in Times New Roman and the Bear Claw books in Courier New. It was a visual cue that helped tell my brain whether I was writing a paranormal or a romantic suspense. That, as much as anything, helped me keep things straight!
That’s a cool idea! Does not having another Nightkeepers book ahead feel strange?
Everything feels strange right now, but in a good way. After years of writing four to six books a year while also running a small horse farm and freelancing as a science editor—and basically sleeping six hours a night and never taking a day off—I’ve dropped back to writing two books a year, doing a bit more editing, living in a great little house with my hubby and a couple of cats, and taking nights and weekends off to mountain bike and do family stuff. Which is just …weird. But good weird, you know?
As for writing-weird, yes and no. It’s strange not to be in the Nightkeepers’ world anymore, but at the same time, I’m in such a different mental space than I was when I started writing these books. The writing I’m doing now is better for who I am now, if that makes any sense.
Besides, if and when I feel the urge to cause some literary mayhem, Mayan-style, the new opportunities in e- and self-publishing might give me an outlet to write, say, the stories of Patience and Brandt’s twin boys, all grown up in a near-future storyline …
Is there anything in particular you would like readers to take away from this series?
This is definitely one of those ‘you can see the author in the stories’ deals, as each of the books deals, in one way or another, with the concepts of being an outsider and finding your place in your community, family, and/or relationship.
It’s something I’ve struggled with most of my life, and something I think lots of us can relate to. I can’t say that I’ve come up with any great take-home on the topic, but if my last few years are anything to go by, I can say this: huge, tremendous, die-for-you love—the kind that we write about and read about—exists, even for an outsider. And you don’t have to be a magic user to find it.
What are you working on now?
Ahh, that’s the question, isn’t it? Well, I guess I can ‘fess up now, because there’s an excerpt of the new book at the end of SPELLFIRE.
I am … wait for it … going West! Yep, writing as Jesse Hayworth, I’m going to be doing contemporary Western romances about a Wyoming cattle station-turned-dude ranch, the three-generation family that runs the place, and the guests that come through. The first book, SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE, is in production for a June release from Signet.
Although it’s a departure from the Nightkeepers and Intrigues, I think some of the same voice comes through in the strong heroes and heroines. In this case, though, they’re working on their own little corners of the world rather than trying to save the whole thing.
Thanks as always for the opportunity to celebrate the new release with the Banditas!
For more about Jessica and her work, visit her website.
Jessica is giving away a copy of Spellfire to one commenter today. So tell us, what series have you enjoyed, and what did you find satisfying about their conclusions? If you read westerns, either contemporary or historical, which ones do you like, and why?
Posted by Christina Brooke Nov 1 2012, 12:01 am in Addison Fox, Anna Campbell, Catherine Gayle, coming attractions, contests, Jessica Andersen, Miranda Neville, Nancy Robards, Tiffany Clare, vanessa kelly
While we Aussies are getting out our swimming cossies and slapping on the sunscreen, soon, all our American friends will be hauling out their winter woollies and gearing up for Thanksgiving.
(Perhaps some will be shivering sooner than others. There’s been some extreme weather up there. We hope our Bandita Buddies and their loved ones are all safe and sound!)
Whether you’re trying to beat the heat or getting warm by the fire, it’s a balmy day poolside in the lair.
Here’s what we have coming up for you this month:
On November 2, Catherine Gayle will chat to us about her book SEVEN MINUTES IN DEVON.
November 3 brings a very special guest–Lorna Doone from Suzanne Ferrell’s new small town contemporary romance, CLOSE TO HOME.
Lorna runs the Peaches ‘N Cream cafe, the local hangout where all the good stuff happens (you know the mayor tends to hold court there, most dates start or end there, and any good gossip can be found there), and Lorna has no problem sticking her foot into people’s private or not-so-private business. So if you’re in the mood for a gossip and a good dose of Lorna’s medicine, drop by on Saturday. You’re in for a treat!
What a very special event we have coming up on November 6! It’s Election Day in the US and party time in the Lair as Jeanne interviews Nancy to launch RENEGADE.
Join us as we celebrate the Bad Bandita’s highly anticipated debut!
All good things must come to an end, and SPELLFIRE, the book Nightkeepers fans have been waiting for, will close that series. On November 8, Jessica Anderson joins Nancy to chat about the finale.
On Friday, 9th November, Tiffany Clare is returning to the lair to tell us about her fabulous new series, the Dangerous Rogues, and to introduce her new release WICKED NIGHTS WITH A PROPER LADY.
November 12 brings Vanessa Kelly back to the lair with HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE:
“This holiday, seduction is the sweetest gift of all.”
On Friday, 16th November, Nancy Robards Thompson and Katherine Garbera visit the lair to tell us all about their latest releases TEXAS CHRISTMAS and CALLING ALL THE SHOTS.
This should be a lot of fun!
Addison Fox visits the lair on November 21st to chat with Suz about COME FLY WITH ME.
On Tuesday, 27th November, lair favorite Miranda Neville will visit to tell us all about her great new series and her latest release THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING WICKED
Anna Campbell is running a Women of Style Unite to Win Totes! contest on her website. This contest gives TWO lucky people the chance to win a matching SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED tote bag and signed book. All you need to do is tell Anna the name of book 2 in the Sons of Sin series. You might just find the answer in her November latest news. Just email Anna on annacampbellhistorical @hotmail.com (no spaces) with your answer to be in the draw.
The contest closes 31st December, 2012, and entry is open internationally. For more information, please check out Anna’s contest page.
To celebrate the launch of Renegade, Nancy Northcott is giving away an Everyday Magic prize package and a couple of smaller prizes. For details, visit Nancy’s website.
Nancy also is running a contest on Fresh Fiction for a dragon goblet, a Keeper Kase with a collection of cards, and a Kindle or Nook download of Renegade. to enter, visit her contest page at Fresh Fiction.
And of course, don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter which offers a treasure chest of prizes to be won each month!
Posted by Susan Sey Apr 1 2012, 12:44 am in Anna Campbell, coming attractions, contest winner, Donna MacMeans, Eloisa James, Grace Burrowes, guest blogger, interviews, JD Tyler, Jessica Andersen, Kate Walker, maggie robinson, Mari Mancusi, Miranda Neville, Susan Sey
Welcome to April, & we’re not fooling! There are tons of treats & hijinx to be had in the lair this month. Here’s a quick preview of what’s in store….
WE HAVE GUESTS!
On April 2nd, our own Anna Campbell hosts Lair favorite Miranda Neville! Miranda is coming back to us to cause general mayhem & talk about her wonderful new Burgundy Club book CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE. A lot of romance fans have been hanging out for Minerva’s story and it’s about to arrive. Huzzah!
On April 3rd, Suzanne Ferrell brings JD Tyler to the lair to talk about SAVAGE AWAKENING, the second full book in her Alpha Pack series. She and Suzanne will discuss JD’s sexy wolf shifter, Arik Savage, and all the newest developments in the world of the Alpha Pack. Will Arik meet his mate or find himself a victim of secret experimentation claiming more than one shifter?
On April 4th, Anna Campbell’s back with Maggie Robinson who will tell us about her latest release MASTER OF SIN. Maggie writes a really hot historical so we’re expecting the windows of the lair to steam up when she starts talking about her latest hero Andrew Rossiter.
On April 5th, if she escapes from the chaos of having her house totally revamped–walls knocked down, kitchen replaced, etc.—Kate Walker will be talking about the publication of her latest Presents Extra title–THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES– and celebrating being 60. In book terms, that is.
On April 6th, Jessica Andersen returns with the penultimate Nightkeepers book, MAGIC UNCHAINED. Join us for a chat about the hunky hero, Sven (no relation to our equally hunky Sven, alas) and his magical familiar.
On April 9th, Eloisa James will be back in the Lair to chat about her fabulous memoir, PARIS IN LOVE, and the year she spent in Paris.
On April 18th, Trish will host Mari Mancusi, who will be celebrating the re-release of her zombie post-apocalyptic YA, Tomorrow Land. Can true love survive the apocalypse? How about the walking dead?
And finally, on the 27th, Grace Burrowes comes to the Lair to discuss the latest release in her delicious Windham series, LADY MAGGIE’S SECRET SCANDAL.
It’s sure to be an exciting month,so don’t miss a day!
WE HAVE CONTESTS!
First of all, a great big round of applause for our very own Anna Campbell & Donna MacMeans, both of whom are finalists in the Birmingham Southern Magic Chapter Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Anna’s finaled with MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION and Donna with REDEEMING THE ROGUE. Congrats, ladies!
Now, for your chance to win something wonderful, check out Anna Campbell’s CATCH UP ON A CAMPBELL contest! During the months of March and April, Anna is giving FIVE lucky people the chance to win a book of their choice from her backlist. That’s CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, UNTOUCHED, TEMPT THE DEVIL, CAPTIVE OF SIN, MY RECKLESS SURRENDER or MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION. Just email Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her which book you’d like and you go into the draw. The contest closes April 30th, 2012, and entry is open internationally. For more information, please check out Ann’s contest page: http://annacampbell.info/contest.html
And don’t forget our monthly prize bundle for one of our lucky Romance Bandits members! This month’s Members Only prize bundle will include:
*An Advance Reader Copy of Eloisa James’ PARIS IN LOVE!
*A copy of MAGIC UNCHAINED from Jessica Andersen
*Your choice of one book from Kate Walker’s backlist!
*A copy of COWBOY TO THE RESCUE from Trish Milburn!
*A copy of FRAIL BLOOD from Jo Robertson!
*Your choice of MONEY HONEY or MONEY SHOT from Susan Sey!
WE HAVE EVENTS AND APPEARANCES!
Ever want to see a bandita in person? Here’s your chance! Our own TRISH MILBURN is all over the map this month! Catch her at the following events:
April 10, at the Barbara Vey Readers Luncheon in Oak Creek, WI
April 11-15, at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Rosemont, IL
April 21, at the Southern Kentucky Bookfest in Bowling Green, KY
It’s going to be a wild ride this month, so buckle up and we’ll see you along the road!
What are YOU looking forward to this month?
Posted by Nancy Northcott Jun 7 2011, 4:47 am in Jessica Andersen, Nightkeepers, paranormal romance, Storm Kissed, weddings
posted by Nancy
Jessica Andersen joins us today the release of Storm Kissed, the sixth book in her wonderful, hot Nightkeepers paranormal romance series. For those of you who’re new to the Lair, Jessica’s debut Harlequin Intrigue was an RT Top Pick. Her Intrigues have made category bestseller lists and have been nominated for the RITA Award. Welcome back, Jessica!
Ahoy, Banditas! I’m thrilled to be visiting here today to talk about STORM KISSED, which hits shelves today—I couldn’t think of any other group I’d rather hang with for the launch of Dez and Reese’s story. In fact, this is one of only two blogs I’m doing for this book—I’ve kept the appearances trimmed way back because I’m otherwise deep in revisions and other chaos … and it’s that other chaos I’d like to talk about today.
But first, the blurb:
Dark forces stand poised to crush mankind beneath a vicious rule of terror and blood sacrifice. Our only hope rests with a group living in secret among us: modern magic wielders called the Nightkeepers.
Dez is no angel. The former gang leader spent years in jail and alienated the love of his life, Reese Montana. Now he has a second chance to join forces with the Nightkeepers and master the Triad magic. Even better, Reese is back—taken on as the Nightkeepers’ sexy bounty hunter. But this time the stakes are even higher for Dez and Reese.
The sexual electricity between them is still alive, but when Dez goes rogue on a hunt for a powerful artifact, Reese can’t help wondering if he’s been playing her again all this time … What will become of the Nightkeepers with a potential traitor on the run?
Dez and Reese’s book has some of my favorite storylines in it—the bad boy magic-wielding hero who comes back from the dead a changed man; the bounty-hunting heroine he once betrayed, who now kicks butt on her own terms; and stakes that are getting higher by the day as we get closer and closer to the 2012 end date predicted by the Mayan calendar.
Not only that, but STORM KISSED contains the first wedding in the Nightkeepers’ series. So I’d like to hear some of your thoughts on fictional weddings.
Personally, I like weddings that are true to the characters and maybe even continue to advance their story. Oddly, one of my favorite fictional weddings happened off-screen (unless I missed a story, which I don’t think I did): Eve and Roarke. For me the important part for these characters was the lead-up to the wedding, and the two of them working through their fears and getting the pieces in place. The ceremony was icing, and while I can imagine its fabulousness (it would have to be fabulous, of course … this is Roarke we’re talking about), I didn’t feel like I needed to be there.
Another fictional wedding that stands out for me, albeit a TV/movie one was Carrie and Big from Sex and the City. Now, disclaimer time, I’ve only seen probably twenty episodes plus the first movie, so I’m far from an expert. But I appreciated how we saw the way a wedding can take on a life of its own, until it turns into something very different from how the bride and/or groom envisioned … and I liked how in the end it was down to the two of them, their peeps, and a courtroom ceremony.
I’m not going to talk about what happens in STORM KISSED—hello, spoilers—but I hope you’ll check out Dez and Reese’s story, which includes a wedding that I think is exactly right for the characters involved.
Now, though, I’d like to hear what you guys think about fictional weddings. Love them? Hate them? Have a favorite you’d like to give a shout-out to, or something you wish authors would avoid? Let’s hear it!
One random poster will be selected to receive a signed copy of STORM KISSED. So let’s talk!
For more about Jessica and her books, check out her website.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Feb 2 2011, 6:00 am in American Heart Association, Jessica Andersen, Nightkeepers, On the Hunt
posted by Nancy
I’m happy to have bestselling author Jessica Andersen back in the Lair. Jessica is the author of the hot, enthralling paranormal romance Nightkeeper series. She has also written more than twenty category romantic suspense novels, which have been nominated for the RITA award and RT Reviewers Choice award.
Today she’ll tell us about her Nightkeepers-related novella, CRYSTAL SKULL, in the new On the Hunt anthology.
Hey, Banditas, and thanks for having me out again to talk about running, screaming, sex, the end of the world, Mayan archaeology, and more sex This week I’m celebrating the release of CRYSTAL SKULL, the first (and only) novella in the Nightkeepers’ series, which is part of ON THE HUNT, a fabulous anthology with stories also from Gena Showalter, Shannon K Butcher and Deidre Knight.
Without further ado, on to the questions!
Who are the Nightkeepers, and how does this story fit within their continuity?
The Nightkeepers are the last survivors of an ancient race of magi sworn to protect us from the doomsday foretold for 12/21/2012. But as we get closer and closer to the end date and the danger ramps up, the Nightkeepers are desperate for reinforcements.
CRYSTAL SKULL falls outside the main storylines of the Nightkeeper books, but it feeds into the next big book, STORM KISSED, which will be out in June 2011. So if you’ve never read a Nightkeeper book before, you can totally pick up CRYSTAL SKULL without missing anything … but if you’re a Nightkeeper fan, you’ll get a couple of the inside jokes.
What’s your personal grounding in Mayan culture?
When I was an annoyingly bright little kid (you know, the kind who finished the year’s work in the first few weeks, got bored, and started disrupting class), the school was more than happy for my parents to take me away for a few weeks every spring, down to the Yucatan. I kept a journal and did a presentation when I got back, and each year I got to talk about a different set of ruins we’d been to. Those experiences have always stuck with me, and I try to bring the sense of wonder I felt back then to the books as I write them now.
Who are the hero and heroine?
The hero, JT, is both a protector and a loner. He’s been down in the rainforests of the former Mayan Empire for years, fighting vampire demons who are coming through one specific ruin. When gorgeous lady archaeologist named Natalie rolls into town, JT convinces the locals to let her team excavate, hoping to find the hellmouth the vamps are coming through. He never expects to fall for her, though … or to discover that they’re connected by far more than scorching chemistry.
Can we see an excerpt?
Sure thing!! Here goes …
The instincts Natalie had been ignoring suddenly lashed at her, through her, bringing images of jaguars and the recent livestock kills in the area. She was a woman alone, unarmed. Stupid move, Nat. Her heart lurched into her throat as she lunged for the Jeep, and the weapon within it.
She was a few paces short of the vehicle when a dark blur erupted from the greenery and slammed into her, sending her crashing into the side of the Jeep and then down. High-pitched squeals battered her eardrums, making her head ring, and she screamed as a dark-furred, red-eyed creature leaned over her, its batlike face splitting into a three-cornered leer of moist, inhuman hunger that she had seen before, carved in stone.
Instead of arms, it had elongated wings with tattered sails and wickedly barbed claws at the ends of the bony struts. Its dark brown, almost black skin was covered with patches of mismatching fur, and it smelled terrible, like a rotting animal carcass. The miasma brought tears, though not before she saw up close and personal that it was male.
Panicked, she tried to worm her way under the Jeep, screaming, “Help me!”
A pair of claws hooked her arm, dragged her out. Pain slashed through her. Terror. Sobbing, she kicked at the creature, but caught only air as it hauled her upright, screeching almost above the level of her hearing.
Its mouth split wide, revealing a black cavern of a throat framed by long, curved teeth.
“Help!” Natalie thrashed against the creature’s hold. She was all alone, in the middle of nowhere, JT wasn’t home, and—
Automatic gunfire slammed out of the nearby forest and into the bat creature.
The bullets ripped into the thing’s upper body, blowing back a spray of blackish blood and chunks. The creature reeled and dropped her. But incredibly, horribly, it spun toward the new threat as black ichor rained down from its wounds.
Seeing the flash of a weapon and the curve of a man’s shoulder in the forest, Natalie scrambled up and screamed, “Kill it!”
She flung herself flat as a heavy thump split the air and a fist-size missile caught the creature in the midsection and then detonated. Hot, oily black sprayed and the thing flew backward and went down in a limp mass.
“Oh, God. Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God.” Natalie lurched to her feet as her rescuer emerged from the rain forest, cradling a big double-barrel across his body.
On one level she recognized JT; she knew his voice, knew the way he moved. On another level, though, the man who stepped out of the shadows and into the fading sunlight was a stranger.
The JT she knew was clean shaven, well dressed, a strangely urbane oasis in the middle of the tropical wilderness. The JT who faced her now shared the same powerful five-ten frame, skull trim, and cool gray eyes. But he wore several days’ worth of scruff and hard-used bush clothes, and his body was strung bandolier-style with an arsenal of weapons and ammo. He carried himself with the tough purpose of a soldier, moving on the soundless feet of a hunter. And he had just saved her butt.
He once told her the guns in his foyer were for hunting the occasional man-eater among the big cats in the area. Now she knew different.
“Chan camazotz,” she whispered the nickname the villagers used for him. Death-bat killer. She had thought it was a metaphor.
His eyes were hard and hot, almost feral. “Did he get you?”
A harsh, ugly sob ripped itself from her chest. “That was . . . It was . . . Oh, JT!” She flung herself at him.
He caught her, his arms banding around her with crushing force. Relief poured through her as she burrowed into him, feeling the solid strength of his muscles and the way her body fit against his. His warmth surrounded her, and his voice rasped as he said her name, over and over again, into her hair. At first she thought she was shaking with fear and shock. Then she realized she wasn’t the one shaking.
“JT?” She pulled away a little so she could look up at him. “What—”
He interrupted her with a kiss.
There was nothing soft or urbane about his lips on hers this time, nothing civilized about the way he crushed her mouth with his, the way he gripped her. But she was suddenly hanging onto him just as hard.
What’s up next for the Nightkeepers?
STORM KISSED is next up—it’s the story of the strongest and toughest of the magi to date: big, bad Snake Mendez, who prefers to be called Dez and may or may be a new man since his release from prison and selection as a super-powerful Triad mage. He’s got one soft spot, though, in the form of former bounty hunter Reese Montana, who was his first and only love … and was responsible for his incarceration. These two have some serious chemistry going for them, along with some major issues. And can you say hot? Wheee….
Anyway, thanks so much for having me on today, Banditas! Best of luck rooster hunting, and I’ll see you in the comments!
We love having you! Wow, that looks hot! And the cover is red, in keeping with our theme this month. How handy . *g*
Jessica is giving away one copy of ON THE HUNT, signed by her but not the other authors, and a copy of: 2012 End of the World Calendar. This is the description she sent me of the calendar:
The Last Calendar You Will Ever Own
A 23.97 month calendar packed with digital artwork from all over the world. Features a countdown to the End of the World, prophecies, and information regarding December 21, 2012. Any theories or predictions you may have heard are explained here: Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Time Wave Zero, Webbot, Pole Shift, World War III, The Bible, Solar Flares, Gamma Ray Bursts, Global Warming, Cataclysm, Planet X, Hopi Prophecy, Dead Sea Scrolls, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Rapture, and much more.
This calendar is HUGE! There are 52 pages total and it measures 12×12 which opens up to 12×24. Ironically printed on Eco Friendly paper, and coated with Matte Aqueous (AQ) Coating for protection. There is no other calendar out there quite like this. It’s the perfect holiday gift for any 2012 enthusiast.
So tell us, would you go searching the jungle for a rare artifact, or would you rather search via Google? Who’s your favorite fictional archaeologist? Who’s your favorite Nightkeeper or winnikin? Feel free to ask Jessica any questions that come to mind, too.
Don’t forget to check out the Healthy Heart tip and free book opportunity below.
The healthy heart tip for February 2 is: Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts. Bundle up and plan an active outing such as sledding, ice skating, gathering wood for a fire, or if you’re feeling adventurous, visit an indoor rock wall.
Go Red for Women on February 4
Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease in women and encourage you to join us in wearing red on February 4, National Wear Red Day®. Visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/ to learn how to fight heart disease.
And just in case you missed it….
Sign Up for the Go Red BetterU Program and Receive Two Free Romance Novel E-Books
From Feb. 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance novel e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association’s BetterU Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited-edition magazine (that features this offer) on newsstands and in a grocery store near you.
To sign up for the BetterU program, visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/betteru/index.aspx.
(Go Red For Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.)
Posted by Nancy Northcott Nov 4 2010, 3:45 am in Bandit Booty, Jessica Andersen, Nightkeepers
Jessica is giving away one signed copy of Blood Spells today, and it goes to . . . Cath’s Chatter!
Cath, please send your snail mail info to me (by November 10) via the link on the blog, with “for Nancy” in the subject line. Congratulations!
Thank you to everyone who stopped by today.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Nov 3 2010, 6:45 am in Blood Spells, Jessica Andersen, Nightkeepers, paranormal romance
A familiar face joins us today as Jessica Andersen celebrates the release of the fifth book in her wonderful, hot Nightkeepers paranormal romance series. For those of you who’re new to the Lair, Jessica’s debut Harlequin Intrigue was an RT Top Pick. Her Intrigues have made category bestseller lists and have been nominated for the RITA Award. Welcome, Jessica!
Hi Banditas! It’s great to be back—thanks to Nancy for setting this up, and to you for joining me to celebrate the release week of the fifth Nightkeeper novel, BLOOD SPELLS ☺.
First, the blurb:
Mayan lore and modern science warn that 12/21/2012 will bring a global cataclysm, and dark forces stand poised to crush mankind. Our only hope rests with a secret group of modern magic-wielders called Nightkeepers, who gain their full powers by finding and winning their destined mates. But what happens when the mated bond unravels?
Patience and Brandt were both living in the human world when they met, married, and had twin sons … but when the Nightkeepers are recalled to duty, cracks appear in a marriage founded on secrecy and lies. Now, with their sons sent into hiding and the demonic threat kicking into high gear, they’re living separate lives, unable to reconnect … and not sure they want to.
They’re forced to team up once more when an ancient Aztec god-king arises, threatening the very fabric of the earth. But as they race to prevent their powerful enemy from enacting a terrible ritual, the danger turns personal, becoming a deadly test of their powers … and the love they once shared.
Yep, the romance centers on a married couple who have lost the spark in a big way. More, it’s the story of them trying to build a second happily ever after when the first one stops working because of how much they have grown and changed.
For the record, when I first outlined the Nightkeeper novels, I thought Brandt would die rather horribly at the end of the first book, with the guilt split between Patience and the man who would become her hero (and no, I’m not telling who, because the stories sooo didn’t write that way).
But when I wrote scenes in Patience’s and Brandt’s POVs in the first book (NIGHTKEEPERS), both characters really gelled for me … and I realized there was a far more interesting story there to tell, about a marriage that was based on lies, and two people who go from being normal parents to superheroes, and lose track of each other in the process.
I’m not always a fan of revisiting characters who are already paired off, especially if that revisitation (Hm. Spell check tells me that’s not a word … but it really ought to be) involves breaking them up and putting them back together. I think the author needs to be very cautious, or else I’m going to question whether this second HEA is the one that’s going to stick.
Suz Brockmann’s Tom and Kelly are together at the end of their book, but it takes several more books (and a fairly black moment) for them to get married. Similarly, JR Ward put us back in Wrath’s POV to look at how his failing sight tests his and Beth’s bond, but their love triumphs in the end.
For me, these stories worked because I never felt like the hero and heroine stopped loving each other despite their challenges, and the second happy ending for each couple felt like a continuation of their original romance.
In a very few other cases, however, I’ve watched favorite relationships decompress so thoroughly in a later book that it sours the original happy ending and leaves me worried that they’re not going to be okay after “The End.”
Thus, because the entirety of BLOOD SPELLS is technically Patience and Brandt’s ‘after the happily ever after,’ I wanted to make very sure that their conflict didn’t devalue the six years they’ve already been married. Their first happily ever after was perfect for the people they were back then. Now, though, they need to figure out whether their Nightkeepers selves can be together for real, and how to renegotiate some things that they—okay, mostly Brandt—thought were set in stone.
So tell me … do you like revisiting prior h/h couples, not just as a flyby at a garden party (Ooh, look! They’re so perfect together! And what a cute baby!), but as subplots with conflict and a black moment? Can you recommend some stories where this works? Are there situations where you wouldn’t want to see a couple again? Do you like seeing couples who have a history before the story opens, even if it happened off-page? Let’s talk about what happens after the HEA!