Monday, October 31, 2011

Unwrapping: HALLOWEEN PART 2

      It's still Halloween and the day is only half through yet strange things have already happened. 
      Last night, after posting the first part of this Halloween Treat, I climbed into bed about 3 AM - all was quiet in the house when suddenly, I heard what sounded like a rattle. It was loud and very clear. Marco didn't react right away and Kevin kept sleeping. Suddenly, about 5 seconds after I heard the rattle which sounded like a pills in a bottle by the way, Marco let out a terrifed bark and came scurring into the bedroom. This woke Kevin who promptly yelled at him to be quiet. I asked Kevin about the rattle but he had heard nothing. Marco and I knew different.  

      A lot of strange things happen where we live because there is a long dark history surrounding the woods here in Widewater. The strangest things surround the oldest church in the area, Aquia Church. It's said that the ghost of a woman whose remains were found in the belfry still haunts the church and the surrounding woods. One of my works in progress is based on this story so I thought I'd share the prologue with you since it's Halloween. I hope you enjoy it and let me know if you would like to read more someday.
Happy Halloween Everyone!!  BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

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     A WHISPER IN THE TREES

     Prologue


     The day was hot. David felt rivlets of sweat trail down his back as he approached the woods. As soon as he entered the thick swath of trees, the temperature seemed to drop at least thirty degrees. The cold air raised goose flesh on his bare arms and he could have sworn he saw his breath as he exhaled. He had never ventured this far into the quiet woods behind the old church and certainly never alone as he was now. Suddenly, he wished he had stayed closer to the road.
     "Jack, this isn’t funny." David Banks called out to his friend. His best friend, Jack Hunnicutt had run into the woods because he thought he saw something and now David couldn't see him anwhere.
     David and Jack had known each other nearly since diapers and normally, they did everything together. Mostly they were compatriots in trouble. This time was different. It wasn't like Jack to run off like he had, at least without knowing that David was close behind. Jack had hollered something at David as he ran into the trees but David hadn’t understood those last words. Quite some time had passed since then or at least it seemed that way for David. When Jack hadn't returned right away, David waited but now had begun to worry. At least thirty minutes or even forty-five minutes had passed and his friend still hadn't returned.
     "Jack!" David shouted at the unmoving trees. "Where are you? Come on, this isn’t funny and it’s getting late."
     David listened. He cocked his head slightly to the left and then to the right in an attempt to hear any sign of his friend’s movements in the woods. He heard nothing. Suddenly it dawned on him that he heard nothing, absolutely nothing. There was no sound at all. No birds, bugs, rustle of leaves, not even the sound of cars as they passed on the road located not even a quarter of a mile from where he stood.
     "Jack." David spoke cautiously, an anxious pleading in his voice. "Jack, please come out." David was beginning to get very nervous and wanted to leave but he couldn't leave without his friend. Or could he?
     Just then a loud snapping sound echoed from off toward the right. David spun around with the hope that his old friend was trying to sneak up on him to scare him. What he saw made the hair on his neck and arms stand straight up. His voice caught in his throat as he opened his mouth to scream. Later, he remembered screaming but there was no memory of any sound coming from his throat. He was too frightened to move but he felt as if things were rushing past him; the trees, the wind, even his own heart beat as it pounded in his ears.
     David Banks stared at the great white cloud of nothingness as it rose up in front of him and slowly took the form of a woman. She was dressed in a long pale dress and her golden hair hung loosely around her head and shoulders like a halo. There were bruises on her neck and arms. David wasn't sure but he thought he saw blood seeping from a wound on her head. The woman didn't speak. She stared at David with sad wet eyes, tears staining her cheeks. Her mouth opened in a silent plead as she slowly raised her hands toward David as if she was begging him to come forth to her. David actually found himself drawn to her even though he was terrified and his fear kept him planted firmly in place. The woman threw back her head and opened her mouth in a scream just as a crashing sound filled the air.
     Jack Hunnicutt came bounding through the woods. The sound drew David's attention away from the weeping woman just for a moment but in that moment, she disappeared. David stared at the spot in the leaves where the woman had stood only moments earlier. His mouth open awaiting the scream he had yet to utter. That was how Jack found his old friend.
     "Where have you been?" Jack exclaimed as he grabbed hold of David and spun him around to face him. His breath came in great puffs from the exertion of running up the hill. David stared at him with wide eyes. His mouth still open.
     Suddenly, David snapped out of his trance. He blinked his eyes rapidly and took a deep rasping breath. "Did you see her?" He asked in a raspy voice as he released a great exhale of breath. Had he been holding his breath? He couldn't remember.
     "See who?" Jack asked glancing around them. "No one here but you, silly. Why didn’t you answer me when I called to you? I’ve been waiting forever on the steps at the front of the church."
     "I’ve been calling you. You disappeared and I couldn’t find you."
     "Silly you. I was gone only a few minutes. I thought I saw a rabbit run around to the back of the church. I told you that." Jack reminded him. He crinkled his eyebrows as he stared at his friend curiously. "Why did you come up here to the cemetery when you saw me go around to the back of the church?"
     "The cemetery?" David asked him. He glanced around and for the first time noticed that he was standing amidst the ancient tombstones of the church cemetery. "Holy Crap! Let’s get out of here." He exclaimed loudly and pulled free of Jack’s hold. "Hurry up, I don’t want to be here if she comes back."
     "She, who?" Jack stared at his friend’s backside as David ran down the hill that led to the old church parking lot. If it hadn’t been for the sudden chill that rushed over his bare arms and legs, Jack might have laughed at his friend who suddenly stumbled and rolled partially down the hill. But just then, he decided that he didn’t want to be where he was standing any more than his friend had.
     As Jack followed his friend down the hill, he could have sworn he heard a woman’s voice whisper in his ear. She said, "If only I’d waited." Jack stopped briefly to glance over his shoulder but there was no one there to whisper, only the trees. His eyes widened in sudden fear. He increased the speed of his steps only to stumble and roll partially down the hill just as David had. Neither boy laughed as they ran from the parking lot, down the hill to the road and into the bright warm sunshine.

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Happy Reading Everyone!  Next up: REGENCY ROMANCE

Unwrapping: Happy Halloween - Things That Go Bump In The Night (or in broad daylight)

                          Happy Halloween Everyone!

Today is Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or A Day of Trick or Treat - whatever you call it, it might possibly be the scariest day of the year right behind April 15th. It's the day that spirits are said to be able to cross into our realm and walk the earth alongside us. [shiver]

Around 2,000 years ago, the Celts, who lived in what is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northern France, had a festival Samhain, pronounced sow-en, commemorating the end of the year. Since their New Year was November 1, the day before signaled the end of summer, the end of the harvest and the beginning of a long, hard winter. There were always losses of weaker animals and people over their winters so the end of the year represented death to the Celts. They believed that on this night the wall between the living and the dead was open allowing the spirits of the deceased, both good and evil to mingle among the living.

Samhain was considered a magical day. There are many stories of the Celts practices and beliefs regarding this day and some have carried over into modern times. Stories of leaving food or drink for the spirits to aid them or ward them off, tales of Celts dressing up in wild costumes and roaming the villages making noise to scare away the spirits are all attribituable to our modern celebration of All Hallow's Eve or Halloween. Great bonfires were said to have been built to ward off the spirits while others tell of all the home fires being extinguished during Samhain, either to make their homes less attractive to roaming spirits or possibly to allow their home fires to be lit from the sacred bonfire used to protect the village. Fortunes would be told and marked stones thrown into the fire. It was said that if a person's stone wasn't found after the bonfire went out, that person would die during the next year. (I would've thrown two stones in just to make sure.) There are tales of Faeries roaming the land during Samhain. They would dress as beggars asking for food door to door. (Sound familiar?) Those that gave food to the faeries were rewarded, while those that did not were punished by the faeries ... sounds like 'Trick or Treat' doesn't it?

By the 1st Century A.D., the Roman Empire had spread into the land of the Celts and made an attempt to banish these pagan rituals. All Saints Day or All Hallows was moved by Pope Gregory IV to November 1st in 835 A.D. with the hope of diminishing the celebration of Samhain which now became known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween. The pagan celebration didn't cease. So in 1000 A.D., the church designated November 2nd as All Souls Day, to honor the dead who were not Saints. Eventually, they were combined and celebrated as Hallowmas.

On All Souls Day in England, the poor would go a-souling. They would go door-to-door asking for food and in return they would pray for the souls of the family's dear departed. It was widely believed at the time that the souls of the recently departed couldn't enter Heaven until enough people prayed for their souls. The church encouraged this practice to replace the pagan tradition of leaving drink and food for the spirits. The poor were given soul cakes which were pastries made by the relatives of the dead in thanks for them praying for the souls of their recently departed family members. In some cases, soul cakes would be given in exchange for a song or dance as well. Soon children adopted this practice and were given food, ale, or money.

The Jack o'lantern is another traditional fixture connected to Halloween and it might have come from an old Irish tale about a man known as Stingy Jack, who was a swindler and a drunk. It's said he asked the devil to have a drink with him and then convinced the devil to change himself into a coin so that he could pay for the drink. Jack put the coin into his pocket instead right next to a silver cross which trapped the devil. The devil was unable to change himself back. Jack agreed to free the devil only on the condition that he would not bother Jack for a year. The next year, the devil returns and this time, Jack tricks the devil into climbing a tree to fetch a piece of fruit. While the devil is in the tree, Jack carves a cross into the trunk thus trapping the devil in the tree. In order to get down, the devil agrees not to seek out Jack's soul anymore. When Jack died, he wasn't allowed into Heaven because of his drunken thieving ways but he also wasn't allowed into hell either because the devil had kept his word and refused his soul. Taking pity on Jack (surprising for the devil), the devil gave him an ember to light his way in the darkness. He put the ember into a hollowed out turnip for Jack to carry on his lonely everlasting journey around the Earth. The people of Ireland and Scotland would make Jack o'lanterns during this season to scare away Stingy Jack and other spirits that might wander about in the night.

So enough with the History of Halloween, let's have some fun!!
Instead of referring to novels this posting, I'd like to share some real life experiences involving spirits. The idea of spirits roaming the Earth alongside the living is paramount to the celebration of Halloween.
GHOST is a delightfully romantic movie about love and how it can transcend death but what about the real life ghost experience? Do you believe in ghosts or spirits visiting from the other side? Well, I do because I've experienced strange things that could only be explained by believing that ghosts do exist. Let me share a few experiences of mine and some of the members of my family.

     My husband and I moved to our home in an area of Virginia that abounds with both history and strange occurrences just over ten years ago. The area where we live has a history which encompasses Indian tribes, Revolutionary encampments and battles as well as Civil War battles and encampments. There are families that settled the area whose family members still live here. Many of these families have family cemeteries that date back to the first family members. Consequently, the area seems to be a hotspot for strange activity.

     Soon after we moved in, Kevin and I were on our front porch enjoying the cool evening air with our dog at our side. The night was illuminated by one of the brightest full moons either of us had ever seen. The road below looked like a river of moonlight. As we commented on the beauty of the moonlight, we heard a whistling. Someone was whistling a tune that seemed familiar yet neither of us could name it. As we stood there, a dark figured strolled down the center of the road. Our dog reacted only with a low slow growl to which, if the figure heard it, there was no reaction from the person. The whistling never stopped. We watched the figure which was indistinguishable even in the bright light of the full moon move along the road. The figure disappeared into the shadow of some trees only to re-emerge on the other side of the shadows, take a few more steps and promptly disappear. Kevin and I were both surprised at this but have never forgotten it.

     Another time, Kevin and my stepson Sean, were driving up the winding road that leads to where we live. It was night and the only illumination on the road was the headlights of the car. As Kevin turned a curve, he saw another car emerging from the other direction and so dimmed his headlights. Just as the other car came around the curve, Kevin and Sean both spotted a man standing in the road. Kevin hit the brakes as did the car coming in the opposite direction but as they did, the man disappeared. Sean immediately exclaimed, "Did you see that?" Kevin told him that he had. Consequently, both of them were slightly rattled when they got home and told me about it with great excitement.

     On another occasion, Kevin and I were sitting in the living room. I was on the loveseat reading a magazine, he and our dog Marco were sitting on the couch. Kevin was watching TV, Marco was doing whatever he does when he isn't sleeping while on the couch. All of a sudden, Marco let out a quick bark and leaped from the couch. He ran straight to the recliner that sits on the opposite side of the room.
     Kevin exclaimed, "Did you see that?"
     I glanced up from my magazine and asked, "See what?"
     Marco was sniffing around the base of the chair as if looking for something.
     "A gray cat just appeared on the chair but jumped down and disappeared when Marco barked." Kevin told me in an excited voice. 
     I believed him even though I hadn't seen it myself. I just don't know what cat ghost it could've been since we didn't have one and none has ever lived in our house. However, that doesn't mean that such a cat didn't live or die on the land where our house is built at an earlier date.

     Our first dog, Tika - the same dog that saw the figure on the road that moonlit night - did die on our property. She died suddenly, unexpected and to our great distress. We miss her every day and even though we have Marco to keep us company, she's never really far from our thoughts. Since her death in 2006, we've felt her presence, heard her movements and even Marco reacts sometimes as if he sees or hears her. A couple of months ago, I was in the bedroom putting away some freshly laundered clothes. It was early evening, Kevin was cooking something on the stove and so I had a light on in the bedroom. I was hanging up some shirts in the closet when I suddenly heard a loud panting sound behind me. It sounded just like a dog panting. I assumed it was Marco waiting not so patiently while I finished so that I could take him out when I was through.
     "Just a minute, Bubby (I call him Bubby)." I told him over my shoulder. In that moment, I glimpsed an empty room behind me. I couldn't believe that he was there one moment and gone from the room the next so I looked around. I left the bedroom, walked to the living room assuming he was waiting for me there but he wasn't there either. I returned to kitchen where I asked Kevin, "Where's Marco?"

     Kevin shrugged his shoulders. "He's around here somewhere," he answered.
I was about to go back into the bedroom when I thought of one place he might be since Kevin was cooking - the bathtub. Marco tends to get in the bathtub when Kevin is cooking because he's afraid of the smoke alarm (don't ask). I walked back to the living room, went to the hall bath and sure enough, Marco was peering at me from behind the shower curtain. Now the question filled my head. If that wasn't Marco panting behind me, who or what was it?
     As I returned to the kitchen, I must have looked very puzzled for Kevin suddenly asked me, "What's wrong?"
     "I just heard a dog panting behind me in the bedroom and thought it was Marco but Marco was half way across the house. It must have been Tika." I told Kevin happily. It always pleases me when she visits. Suddenly, Kevin smiled, too.
     "Just before you came up from downstairs, I thought I heard something moving around in the bedroom. I was just coming out from looking around for Marco in there when you came along." He told me.
     "Why didn't you tell me that before I went in there?" I asked him.
     "I didn't want you to think I was crazy." Kevin answered still not sure what he heard.

     That happened just Labor Day weekend and since then, I have heard more strange things. We have bells that hang from our front door that Marco will ring if he wants to go outside. One evening, I was doing something in the bedroom when suddenly I heard the jingle of those bells. I knew it wasn't Marco because he was standing next to me so I thought Kevin had knocked them as he started to open the door. I waited for the sound of the door to open but nothing else came. Curious, I walked into the living room. There was Kevin, sitting on the couch reading his e-reader.
     "Did you just open the door?" I asked him curiously.
     Kevin looked up at me. Puzzled, he looked at me strangely. "No. Why?"
     I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. He asked me again. "Why? What did you hear?"
     "I heard the bells on the door sound and I was going to ask what you were looking for on the porch?" I told him.
     "I haven't moved." Kevin told me. "I didn't hear the bells either."
     Go figure! I've heard bells sound on two other occasions since. I figure it's either the tremors left from the earthquake in August or Tika's learned a new trick.  : )

     My mother told me of an extremely eerie experience she's had twice in the past few weeks. The first time, she was asleep in bed when she felt someone lift the covers on the other side of the bed and climb in beside her. Now, my mother and father sleep in separate rooms because they are elderly and have developed different sleep patterns so her first thought was that it was her husband. She sat up in bed and was about to ask him if he was okay when she realized that no one was there. Worried, she got out of bed and went to my father's room to make sure he hadn't died in his sleep. He was fine, snoring as usual. Slightly rattled, she went back to bed but didn't sleep well the rest of the night.
     The other day, she told me it happened to her again. She was awake and reading in bed as she has a habit of doing to help her fall asleep. She had just turned out the light and settled into bed when she felt the covers lift, the mattress sag and someone lie down next to her. She immediately threw both her arms over the place where this person would be but found nothing. She turned on the light but there was no evidence of anyone having been in bed with her. Very strange indeed for we cannot figure out who it might be. By the way, once more she climbed out of bed and checked on my father who is still alive and well.

     Have you any strange experiences to share? Strange sounds in the night or in broad daylight? Strange figures seen where there shouldn't be any? Love to hear them so please do share, Marco's waiting to hear some real life scary stories ... he wants to know he's not alone. 
    
    

    In the meantime, if you're looking for a great story about spirits, please check out Merrie Destefano's AFTERLIFE - THE RESURRECTION CHRONICLES.

     Chaz Dominguez is a professional Babysitter in New Orleans, helping to integrate the recently deceased into their new and improved lives. Though Fresh Start has always been the only game in town, resurrection isn't all it's cracked up to be. Nine lives are all a person can get—and a powerful group of desperate, high-level Nine-Timers will stop at nothing to possess the keys to true immortality.




            Now, for one last treat!
           After all it's Halloween -  
     a house display to set the mood!            
                               Enjoy and Happy Halloween!!



Next time at UNWRAPPING ROMANCE ... well, let's see what the spirits have to say later.
Happy Reading Everyone!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Unwrapping: Paranormal Romance featuring Angels and Fallen Angels aka Devils

We're getting closer and closer to that bewitching night, Halloween, so it's only appropriate that we explore the stories of angels and fallen angels or as some refer to them, devils and demons. I like to think of them as fallen angels for once upon a time they were in the good graces of the Creator. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all biblical on you but I will have to point out the stories behind fallen angels in order for you to understand how our Romance authors took myths and legends and created their own stories.  Raised as a good Catholic girl, I was taught to trust angels and fear fallen angels but I can't help but be drawn to stories and movies featuring angels of all kinds. One of my favorite movies is DEVIL'S ADVOCATE starring Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. If you haven't seen it, check it out ... it's a good one!

    

     Another fabulous one, CONSTANTINE, that also stars Keanu Reeves is based on DC Comics/Vertigo Hellblazer graphic novels, - some great images and demons in this one.

    


     It is said that there was a War in Heaven. Certain angels, some say led by Lucifer who was the highest ranking angel in Heaven, having misused the free will given them by the Creator rebelled against Him and His remaining heavenly angels. After losing the battle, these rebelling angels were banished from Heaven and fell from His Grace thus they became Fallen Angels.

     Now banished to a plane far beneath the glory of Heaven, these fallen angels became even more jealous of the Creator's special pets, Mortals, and set out to demean Mortals in the Creator's eyes.  Labeled as soulless and heartless, these fallen angels, like any bad child, act out in response. Good angel or bad angel, they are still angels and so some Romance writers have created incredible stories that bring forth that hidden heart and soul endearing them to us. 

     Authors such as Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook, Sharon Shinn, and Terri Garey have created characters that intrigue and capture our attention.

     ANGELS OF DARKNESS is a wonderful collection of tales of alpha angels...from four alpha authors - Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Mejean Brook and Sharon Shinn.


They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil.  


This is a good one for that Christmas list you're making or just for yourself ... a great introduction to four wonderful authors if you're not already acquainted.



But my personal favorite Fallen Angel is Samael from the new Devil's Bargain series by Terri Garey. We first met Sammy in the Nicki Styx series when he tried to win dear Nicki for himself but now he's truly where he wants to be - the center of attention - even if things don't always go his way.



DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE is the first book in the Devil's Bargain series by Terri Garey and it's everything you want in a book about a fallen angel. We visit Sammy's domain. We feel his frustration and heartbreak over Nicki. Then watch as he fights back that little bit of humanity that Nicki brought forth as he works his deals with the Mortals. Love that devil, Sammy. Am eagerly looking forward to the next one.


If you haven't met Sammy then let me share an excerpt from DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE to help you get to know him.

Dressed and ready, Samael paused before the full-length mirror that stood beside his be, and smiled. No mortals observing him now would realize who they were facing. They would see only what he wanted them to see, a virile, good-looking male in the prime of his life. The ability to blend was a talent he'd mastered long ago, and if he wanted someone's attention, he knew full well how to get it. Running a careless hand through his short blond hair and smiling a grim smile, he left his chamber behind and strode down hallways made of stone toward the cavernous room known as the outer temple.

It was a long walk, but he was in no hurry, despite what he'd said to Nyx. He could've willed himself there in an instant if he'd cared to, but instead he walked, and as he walked, he remembered.

Wind, cool and invigorating, and the glorious sense of weightlessness that accompanied flight. The pinpricks of distant stars against the night sky, the brilliant smear of a million galaxies, like glitter tossed carelessly across the heavens. Innocence, laughter, and joy as he and his brother angels darted in and out among the cosmos, their wings outspread, naked and unashamed as they played, secure in the knowledge that they were loved and protected by the One who created them.

He remembered, too, the shame and fear of that day in the Garden, when he had lost his innocence and angered his Creator. Oh, how he'd wept, how he'd begged to be forgiven - to no avail. He'd been cast down from the lofty heights, stripped of his wings; sometimes, in the night, he felt a faint tingle between his shoulder blades and felt anew the pain of his loss. He'd been blamed for defiling mankind, and bringing an end to Paradise, when it was mankind, and their emphasis on the flesh, who'd defiled him.

Jaw set, Samael kept walking, not noticing or caring that Nyx followed several feet behind, a silent and shadowy figure at his back. After the Fall, he'd made sure mankind suffered, just as he had suffered. Abandoned by the One, shunned by his angelic brothers, he tempted, as he had been tempted. He lied, as he had been lied to. And when they succumbed to lies and temptation - just as he had - he punished them as he had been punished, by everlasting damnation in the pit of despair.

The hallways rang with his footsteps, but he didn't hear them. Another memory surfaced: a young woman with laughing eyes and a kind heart, streaks of pink in her dark hair. He'd lost her, too - lost her to the Light that had already cost him so much. There'd been other women through the centuries, of course, long dead now, but she still lived. She lived, and she laughed, and she'd clutched her pink tulips during her wedding to the man she'd chosen over him, and try as he might, he couldn't bring himself to hate her for it. For she had been the one who'd known him for what he was, and forgiven him anyway - the only one in all these eons who'd shown him an ounce of genuine compassion, despite the blackness that stained his soul.

Light gleamed at the end of the corridor, as unwelcome as the one who brought it. A few steps more and he was in a chamber, huge and vaulted, full of echoes and dust and silence. A man stood waiting at the far end, his features obscured by the brilliance that seemed to emanate from his very pores.

"What's the matter, Gabriel?" Samael asked coldly. "Afraid of the dark?"

"Samael," said the figure, in a voice filled with sorrow. "My long-lost-brother." The light dimmed, fading to reveal a tall man with brown hair, worn long and free, dressed in a white robe and sandals. "My eyes delight in the sight of you, yet my soul will forever grieve over what you've become."

"Spare me your pit," Sammy said, planting his booted feet and crossing his arms over his chest. "The time I could've used it is long past." He raked a scornful gaze over his visitor. "You look like a wandering prophet. This is the twenty-first century, you know; camels and cave markings have been replaced with cars and computers."

Gabriel shook his head, a slight smile lifting one corner of his lips. His garb changed, morphing into plain khaki pants and a blue chambray shirt, long hair clubbed into a ponytail. "Better?" he asked his host.

"No," Sammy growled. Despite his open hostility, a small part of him was pleased to see his old friend and erstwhile brother. He clamped down viciously on the feeling, and trampled it into dust. "What do you want?"

Gabriel was silent for a moment, merely looking into his eyes.

Uncomfortable to find he could not easily meet them, Sammy felt his anger rise.

"Speak and be done with it, damn you," he ground out. "My patience grows short."

"Your patience was ever short," said Gabriel, "as was your humility. Even now you taunt the heavens with your pride and your hubris, establishing yourself within these once hallowed wall" -- he gestured toward the vaulted ceiling -- "built to proclaim the glory of the One."

Samael made a noise of disgust. "Solomon built this temple to proclaim his own glory." He smiled grimly. "His spells and incantations are what keep this temple hidden in plain sight, invisible to the eyes of mortals. He used that same magic to force my demons to build it, so why shouldn't I use it now that he's dead?" He shook his head, smiling wryly. "The mighty King Solomon, keeper of all the world's mysteries, save one - that of death itself. All the treasures he collected in the name of the One now belong to me, including this dusty monument to greed and glory."

Gabriel frowned, looking troubled. "You take such joy in profaning what was intended as [a] house of worship."

"Is that why you're here? An avenging angel, come to smite me with your flaming sword of righteousness?" Sammy spread his arms wide, as if baring himself to a blow. "Go ahead. Oblivion would be a welcome change after all these years in Hell."

Want more? You'll have to get your own copy of DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE by Terri Garey.

So - do you believe in angels, good or bad?

Next posting is on Halloween! It will be a little different and I hope you'll find it titillatingly spoooooooky!

Happy Reading Everyone!
 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Unwrapping: Paranormal Romance with Shape-Shifters

I know it's supposed to be Wacky Wednesday but since I took a day with 'My Not So Little Rant' last week, I thought we should proceed with our exploration of Paranormal Romance instead. Don't worry, there will be an excerpt or maybe two to enjoy.  ; )

SHAPE-SHIFTERS

     Throughout the world, there are stories, legends, myths, superstitions - whatever you want to call them - about animals that are able to shift into Human form and vice versa. Real or imaginary?

     The authors of Paranormal Romance have taken that question and developed exciting worlds in which Shape-Shifters and Humans not only collide but fall in love with each other such as in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series.

     There are as many Shape-Shifters as there are animals, or at least there seems to be as many legends of Shape-Shifters as there are animals.

     North American Indians tell tales of skinwalkers and windigos - creatures that once were man but now turn into animals.  Skinwalkers generally turn into wolves but can become mountain lions and bears as well. Windigos, it's said were created from an evil Human who turned cannibal and now must transform into a great tall beast akin to Bigfoot in order to hunt for Human flesh on which to dine. There are also tales of great birds called Thunderbirds transforming into Human form.
     European countries abound with tales of Humans that transform into creatures to roam the night in search of victims mostly in the forms of wolves and bats. In ancient Greece, the king of the gods, Zeus, was said to shift into animal forms in order to seduce women without Hera knowing about it. It seems she found out anyway.
     In Asia, there are tales of Humans who shift into various animals. Some can shift at will to which ever animal they wish at the time. There are tales of Humans shifting into great snakes from which we might have developed the tales of dragons. There are tales of werefox and transformations into badgers, racoons and dogs.
     In South America, Humans are believed to transform themselves into coyotes, wolves, and jaguars. In Chile, there is a tale of a chonchon shape-shifter who is a witch that transform into a vulture. Not very inviting but certainly scary!

     The imagination can take any one of these tales and expand them to become good, evil, or both. Combine these stories with magic and you've created a whole new world just as some Paranormal Romance writers have so delightfully and successfully done.
      One of my favorites is Pamela Palmer and her creation of the world of the Feral Warriors. Therian warriors who can transform themselves into the animal spirit that shares their soul. They work exhaustedly battling the Mage to keep them from freeing Satanan from the Daemon Blade. Confused, start with DESIRE UNTAMED and keep reading - soon you'll begin to understand and be irretrievably hooked. Her latest release is ECSTASY UNTAMED which tells Hawke's story and how he's recuperating from his ordeal of having been trapped in the Daemon Spirit Trap.
      Here's a small taste of ECSTASY UNTAMED:

      "Hawke!" Lyon tried to hold his friend, but it was too late. Reason had fled Hawke's eyes, replaced with a snarling, spitting anger. "Hold him down!" he ordered even as Hawke lashed out with his claws.
      But as the three men tried to contain the thrashing, violent warrior, Hawke shifted into his animal in a spray of colored lights. As one, they pulled back. "Kkkeeeeer." The red-tailed hawk took off on a wild flight through the dining room, flying at the windows, crashing through the glass.
      Kougar ran for the window. Lyon followed, certain the bird had shredded his wings. But if Hawke had done himself damage, Lyon couldn't tell. The hawk soared above the treetops and disappeared. When the Ferals shifted, they retained their human minds, able to control the animal bodies as they did the human.
      Hawke wouldn't have taken off like that if he'd been in control. Lyon feared his friend was lost to the wildness inside him.
     "I thought he'd be okay once he came to." Tighe took a step toward the window, glass crunching beneath his boot.
      Lyon shook his head, his expression grave. "He's damaged." The question was, just how damaged? He prayed the answer wasn't beyond repair.

     Want more? Get your own copy of ECSTASY UNTAMED by Pamela Palmer!

     Another favorite Paranormal Romance writer who takes us into the world of shape-shifters is Juliana Stone. She is the author of the Jaquar Warrior Series and if you love big cats, then these books are for you.  Her latest release, HIS DARKEST SALVATION tells the story of a world where two people are on the brink of chaos, passion and where vengeance collides …

    
     After six months in hell, Julian Castille has returned to the world a changed man. No longer the calm, powerful CEO, but a shifter fully embraced by the blood of his clan. Julian has one goal: find the key to the portal that stands between the human realm and unprecedented darkness—and win back the pieces of his soul. The last thing he needs is a distraction like the beautiful, enigmatic Jaden DaCosta.
     Three years ago, a forbidden night of passion left Jaden forever altered: mated to Julian Castille–bound to a man who despises her. But the temptation to trust this darker, more savage—and more captivating—Julian is overwhelming. And as they fight for their immortal souls, their insatiable desire for each other may prove their fatal undoing…

     Double treat today, first you got a taste of Hawke's story and now, I'm going to give you an extra treat and present you with a taste of HIS DARKEST SALVATION:

     Julian bared his teeth. He was on edge, the strange darkness that clung to him rising to the fore. It agitated her cat something fierce and she trembled slightly at the force of it.
     “I mean it,” she said forcefully. “Back off.”
     His hand reached out and inside everything stilled. She heard her heart beating heavily against her chest, felt the pace quicken as warning bells began to explode.
     Her breath hitched and her mouth went dry as his fingers settled over her clan tattoos. She felt them, burning beneath his touch. Another chunk of humiliation to add to her armour of shame.
     “So beautiful,” he whispered harshly.
     Jaden flinched at his tone.
     “So deceptive.”
     She wanted to rip his hand from her flesh but refused to let him know how affected she was by his touch. Instead, she smiled up at him and let her tongue run along her lips.
     “I’m also the best piece of ass you’ll never have again.”
     His breathing changed, slowed, and the air around them stilled. Jaden’s heart leapt crazily and a wave of dizziness circled her brain. She was dancing with the devil and that was always a dangerous game.
     His hand moved up from her neck to grip her jaw. She refused to look away, though the cold glint in his eye left her stomach tight, nauseous. He looked like he wanted to strangle her.
     “You do not want to mess with me.” He smiled, a cold slash of white. “I’m not anything like what you remember.”

     Come on, I know you want more but you're going to have to get your own copy of HIS DARKEST SALVATION by Juliana Stone to finish reading what happens between Julian and Jaden. Purrrrrrr!

     Question: If you could shape-shift into any animal at will, which animal would it be and why?
     
     Next time - Fallen Angels ... oh don't worry, these are sexy little devils.  : )
     Happy Reading Everyone!

                                                                   
                                                              

 Juliana asked if I could plug KC Klein's new release here and I am most happy to do so ... always interested in something new and different! To read what she posted about her new book, click here.

Awakened in the middle of the night by a future version of herself, Kris Davenport is given a mission: go forward in time to save the world—and His life. Of course, her future self doesn't tell her who he is, just sends her into an abyss and straight into an alien invasion.
He turns out to be ConRad Smith, the callous, untrusting Commander of Earth's army and the world's last defense. There's only one way to know for sure if this strange woman is an alien spy—slice her throat. Except, he didn't anticipate the heat he would feel as he interrogates the hot-tempered, warm-blooded woman. For a man whose sole focus has been survival, she's more temptation than he can handle. But a world on the brink of destruction leaves no room for love…and time is running out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Unwrapping: New Release Tuesday

Let's take a moment to congratulate the authors of new releases now available for our reading pleasure. Don't you just love a New Release Tuesday?!

We've got a wonderful variety of new releases to choose from and the Holidays are fast approaching so you might want to start making those lists, yours and theirs.


ECSTASY UNTAMED by Pamela Palmer

[I've been personally waiting anxiously for this one to be released.]

Shattered by recent nightmarish events, Hawke feels his bond with his animal spirit weakening—and once it breaks, he’s finished. The arrival of Faith sends his life spinning even further out of control, for although she delights him and enflames his deepest primal passions, she’s promised to Maxim, the newest Feral Warrior.



THE BITE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (an Anthology) by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost
In Lynsay Sands' "The Gift," Katricia Argeneau knows grey-eyed cop Teddy Brunswick is her life mate. She just needs to convince him they belong together, and being snowbound in a secluded cabin will make this a Christmas neither will forget.


It's "Home for the Holidays" in Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. Cat and Bones may long to wrap presents and set up a tree, but this Christmas, an evil vampire and long-buried family secrets will threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer.


AGAINST THE STORM by Kat Martin

Some women find trouble wherever they go.
And some men are their only protection against it.

Redheads like her are nothing but trouble. But Trace Rawlins, a former army-ranger-turned-private-investigator, takes the case anyway. After all, he knows how to deal with women.

Trace can sense that something’s wrong—Maggie O’Connell isn’t telling him everything. If these menacing calls and messages are real, why won’t the police help her? And if they aren’t real, what is she hiding?

 
NEVER LOVE A HIGHLANDER by Maya Banks

In a tale of strong ties and true love, Maya Banks’s trilogy comes to its stunning conclusion, as the youngest McCabe brother uses sword and seduction to save his clan—and seal his heart.

Caelen McCabe’s young, reckless heart nearly destroyed his clan. Now, putting family loyalty above all else, he steps up to marry his older brother’s jilted bride and salvage the uneasy alliance between two clans. While beautiful Rionna McDonald is a fit wife for any man, Caelen trusts no woman, especially not this sweet temptress who torments him with white-hot longing.

BRING ME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by Robyn Carr

This year, Becca Timm knows the number one item on her Christmas wish list—getting over Denny Cutler. Three years ago, Denny broke her heart before heading off to war. It's time she got over her silly high-school relationship and moved on.

So she takes matters into her own hands and heads up to Virgin River, the rugged little mountain town that Denny calls home, as an uninvited guest on her brother's men-only hunting weekend. But when an accident turns her impromptu visit into an extended stay, Becca finds herself stranded in Virgin River. With Denny. In very close quarters.

As the power of Christmas envelops the little town, Becca discovers that the boy she once loved has become a strong and confident man. And the most delicious Christmas present she can imagine.

NIGHT HAWK by Beverly Jenkins

Outlaw.Preacher. Night Hawk. He’s had many names, but he can’t escape the past.

Since Ian Vance’s beloved wife was murdered years ago, the hardened bounty hunter knows he’ll never feel love or tenderness again, so he’s made it his mission to ensure others get their justice. But when he’s charged with delivering a sharp-eyed beauty to the law, Ian can’t help but feel he may still have something left to lose.

Orphaned at twelve, Maggie Freeman has always found her way out of trouble. But now there’s a vigilante mob at her back who would like nothing more than to see her hang for a crime she didn’t commit. Maggie may have to accept help for the first time in her life . . . even if it’s from the one man standing between her and freedom.

As the past closes in, the sassy prisoner and toughened lawman may just find a passion between them that could bring blinding happiness . . . if they’ll let it.

SCANDALOUS LORD DERE, a novella from the anthology Secrets of a Perfect Night by Stephanie Laurens is being released today as a stand-alone-ebook and at a great price!

Once upon a time, a young woman attended a New Year’s Eve ball...The moon shone brightly, music filled the air. Kisses were stolen and promises made. But what happens when morning comes? A new year brings new scandal when a rake awakens in the bed of the flame-haired temptress who had seduced him years before. All of society has them bedded, but can he convince her to become wedded?

  
BECAUSE OF YOU by Cathy Maxwell
A re-issue of her wonderful 1999 story:

Is a reckless rogue worthy of the love of an innocent enchantress?
Pretty Samantha Northrup knows it is her duty to marry—but the chaste English vicar’s daughter secretly desires to be swept off her feet by a man whose kisses leave her breathless. And when a seductive stranger arrives at her door one stormy night, Samantha’s neat and orderly life is turned upside down—especially when she finds herself in a most compromising position . . . and is forced to marry a man she barely knows!


Hope you find something wonderful to read among these newly released and re-released novels.  Perhaps you'll let me know which you read any how you liked it. 

Happy Reading Everyone!

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