Good morning, everyone!  Please welcome back Morgan O'Neill, friends of mine and a fantastic writing duo!  They let me sit down and talk with their hero and heroine from their newly released Roman series, Gigi and Magnus.  And from the little bit I discovered during this interview, I know I can't wait to dig into the books!

So with MUCH ado...

Love, Eternally
Book One of the Roman Time Travel Series

A witch's ancient curse propels talented flutist Gigi Perrin back to A.D. 408, to the court of the depraved Roman Emperor Honorius and his admirable sister, Princess Galla Placidia. There, Gigi grapples with her disbelief about what has happened, and with the strange, new world of violent politics, social upheaval and barbarians straining at the very gates of an empire. Through it all, she must struggle with her powerful attraction to a pagan senator and military commander, Quintus Magnus, a man exotically different from anyone she has ever known. On the brink of a dark and war-torn age, Gigi joins forces with Magnus, battling to save a princess and her people, and ultimately finding love amid the chaos, before the fall of Rome.  


After the Fall
Book Two of the Roman Time Travel Series

After the Fall ratchets up the tension as time traveler Gigi Perrin and her husband, the Roman warrior Quintus Magnus, join forces with the Visigoth King Alaric to march on Rome. There waits Princess Galla Placidia, the admirable sister of the despicable Emperor Honorius. About to be forced into an arranged marriage by her brother, Placidia fears a bleak future, trapped in a loveless union. 

In an attempt to save Rome from barbarian invasion, Placidia puts aside her troubles and meets with Alaric’s delegation, which includes Gigi and Magnus, and the king’s second-in-command, the Visigoth prince, Athaulf. The attraction between Placidia and Athaulf is instantaneous and overwhelming, but theirs is a forbidden love, destined to fail because of implacable politics and impending war. 

Bound by a friendship that transcends time, Gigi and Placidia must do whatever they can to protect the men they love, after the fall of Rome.


Return to Me
Book Three of the Roman Time Travel Series

Return to Me finds time traveler Gigi Perrin happily settled into twenty-first century life with her husband, the former Roman senator and military commander, Quintus Magnus. Gigi has resumed her successful musical career, playing the flute for her adoring fans, while making her first foray into Hollywood by creating the musical score for a feature film about the Roman emperor Nero. 

At the film’s wrap party, Gigi is presented with a gift to commemorate her work: an ancient Roman ring depicting the goddess Victoria. Stunned, she and Magnus recognize it as the very ring that brought them together, and the one subsequently stolen from her and lost in A.D. 410. How did it make its way back to them? Magnus believes the answer is clear; Victoria sent it as a warning about their dear friend, Princess Galla Placidia. They start researching what happened to Placidia after Gigi and Magnus time traveled from the barbarous fifth century. To their shock, they discover Placidia's life took a series of terrible turns, culminating with the murders of her children. 

Realizing they have no other choice, Gigi and Magnus prepare to embark on a perilous quest to go back in time and rescue them. But one ominous question remains – how can they save the children without altering the course of history? 


Let's turn this over to the two stars of the series, shall we?

So, Geneviève Perrin and Quintus Pontius Flavus Magnus, this is a great opportunity! Shall I call you Mr. and Mrs. Magnus?

Magnus: Magnus is not truly my first or last name. It is an agnomen – an honorific title awarded to me for deeds done in battle at the River Frigidus.

Gigi: Please call me Gigi. It comes from my dad’s favorite musical. As for our last name, we took mine when we first came here together. It was easier to go with that. But when we were in ancient times, I don’t think we really thought much about it. We were simply Gigi and Magnus.

Which time period do you prefer?

Gigi and Magnus together: Now!

Gigi: The modern era took some getting used to for Magnus, what with jet travel, TV, cars and noise, and traffic, but he just took it all in and got used to it pretty quickly. For my part, in his era it was tough to live life at one end or the other of a sword. To my horror, I was enslaved by Emperor Honorius and I lived in constant fear of death, until I escaped. I prefer modern law and order. And, of course, my whole family is here.

Magnus: I, too, prefer this time. Although it seems very crass and fast-paced here, there are laws, and justice is not the sole purview of the elite. I also find it quite amazing that even those of humble birth might yet become a person of consequence. In Rome, perhaps only a few lowborn rose to prominence, such as gladiators and the occasional war hero.

Magnus, now that you live here, what do you do to keep busy?

Magnus: I help manage Gigi’s career, I consult on historical movies of all sorts, and I have begun to write about Roman and Visigoth history. I’ve also been trying to get Gigi to make an album of ancient war ballads, but so far . . .

Gigi: Oh, my God! It’s all thump, thump, boom, thump, thump, boom. I don’t know how it would break into the Top 40 any time soon, plus I’m not sure how I’d incorporate it with my flute music.

 Weren’t you playing your flute the first time you laid eyes on Magnus? How was that?

Gigi: Terrifying! I had just traveled back through time, and I had no idea where I was, or what was going on. But I’d love to go back for just a moment, knowing what I know now, to relive seeing Magnus for the first time. His eyes. His concern. His wonder. Even in those first horrible seconds, I knew he was a man of honor. Even then, I think I loved him.

 Magnus? How was it for you?

Magnus: Something was obviously going on. The air was different, sparkling, although nobody but me paid much attention. I was riveted, compelled to watch. I sensed something of great import was happening. And then she appeared in a magical mist, troubled, afraid, and reaching out to me with her gaze as though I were her only refuge.

When did you know for sure you were meant for each other?

Gigi: Knew or wanted? I wanted him in my life from his first visit to me in the jail. I knew my heart was his when he visited me in the vegetable garden and took the drink I offered, cupping his hands around mine instead of simply taking the mug.

Magnus: I was lost from the very first moment. Something deep within made me certain she was my future, my life, that one day she would be my wife.

Gigi: Awww!

What about the first time? Good? Great? Awkward? Rushed? Perfect?

Magnus: Rushed? Never.

Gigi: True! It was perfect, although a bit too delayed. He was such a gentleman and refused take advantage of the fact that I was a slave. I was ready to get close long before we actually did, but we never had the opportunity until we were both free of Honorius. Yes, it was - is perfect.

What about those you left behind? Do you miss them? Do you have any regrets?

Magnus: No regrets. On the contrary, we had many triumphs and helped many people. However, we were forced to allow history to run its course, so we were aware from the start we would also have heartaches.

Gigi: We miss them terribly, every day. They are not just names in a dusty book. They were real, vibrant, wonderful people – I’m speaking of Athaulf and Placidia, of course, and many others – and we did what we could for them, what we had to do for them. Because of that, we are at peace with how everything worked out.

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?

Magnus: I don’t have any idea what would have become of me, had Gigi not entered my life. I was empty and cornered, serving a man I despised. I thank my goddess Victoria for the miracle and good fortune she brought into my life on the day Gigi appeared in the mist.

Gigi: Before my great adventure, I had a wonderful family, a magnificent career, and more money than I’d ever imagined, and yet, I also felt empty. My fame was a pretty bauble, without substance. It wasn’t until I was forced to leave the glitter behind and fight for others, care for others, and stand up for others, that I felt fulfilled and truly alive. And it was Magnus who taught me all of that, and more. He taught me what honor means – to stand up for what is right in the face of hardship, regardless of personal safety or desire. He gave me my life, and in so doing, he got his back. Those are gifts that cannot be measured, and which will bind and define our lives together for all time.

About Morgan O'Neill:

A chance meeting at a writers' conference brought Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O'Neill Cordes together, two award-winning authors who connected because of a mutual love of time travel fiction. Collaboration ensued, the search for a pen name the first step in their working relationship. Their maiden names provided the solution - and "Morgan O'Neill" was born.

Cary and Deborah's backgrounds are uniquely suited to writing stories steeped in atmosphere and history: Deborah has a Master's Degree in history and is a dedicated genealogist; Cary is a talented linguist in French and is currently a student of Latin. They've traveled to Europe's ancient and medieval sites many times, with Cary living on the Continent for five years.

The Morgan O'Neill time travel novels have received a number of literary awards, including two semifinalist wins in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, first, second and third place wins for the Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category of the Golden Rose Contest, a top ten finalist award in the Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference Zola Awards Literary Contest, and a top ten finalist win in the Orange Rose Contest.

Keep in Touch via:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter


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Good morning, everyone!  Please give a warm welcome to Julieanne Reeves, who's here today to share her debut romantic suspense, Razing Kayne.  I had the privilege of handling developmental edits for this book via Finish The Story -- and wow, it's an emotion-packed read!  So, get comfy, and get cozy with Julieanne and Kayne.

Razing Kayne
Walking A Thin Blue Line, Book I
Romantic Suspense

For two years, State Trooper Kayne Dobrescu has wanted only one thing: to understand why his wife inexplicably killed their children and then herself. Memories haunt his days and lay siege to his nights, leaving him questioning his reasons for living. 

Jessica Hallstatt became a widow and single mother the night her firefighter husband died in a fiery explosion at an accident scene. While her husband may have died a hero, he left Jessica with deep emotional scars that haven't begun to heal. 

When Kayne accepted a transfer to the mountain town of Payson, Arizona, he never expected to meet anyone like Jessica. From the moment he pulled her over for speeding, he was drawn in by her whiskey-colored eyes and sassy dimple. He knows she and her children are a forever type package, and he's vowed never to give anyone the power to destroy him again. Yet fate has other ideas, throwing Kayne and Jessica together in a fight against an unknown enemy to save the life of a child—and hopefully one another.

Turning the blog over to Julieanne now!

Claire, thanks for having me. I'm thrilled to be here today sharing an exclusive excerpt of  RAZING KAYNE with your readers, and doing a giveaway. For those who don't know, Claire co-owns and operates Finish The Story  a full service editorial service. I was fortunate to have Claire and her team work with me to make RK shine prior to publication.

So, without further ado, and in honor of the fact that while the rest of the united states is freezing their collective keisters off  Phoenix enjoyed a beautiful 82*F today, here's a snowball fight for you. I'm evil, I know. * grin*  But I do have giveaways to make up for it.


“I don't know why you bothered coming up the hill; you know I'm going to win,” Kayne taunted.

“Uh, probably because you threw me over your shoulder and dragged me, kicking and screaming, like some Neanderthal.” She huffed. She still couldn't believe he'd done that. Acted as if she weighed nothing.

“Trust me, short-stuff, if I'd gone caveman, we wouldn't be standing on a hill talking. You'd be naked in my bed.”

Jess gasped as an illicit shiver snaked down her spine.

“And I've yet to make you scream,” he tacked on.

No, after he'd smacked her on the ass, she'd been too shocked to do anything other than be still, afraid she'd hurt both of them if she struggled. And then when his thumb had started caressing her inner thigh, she'd thought it was her imagination. Now, after that comment, she had to wonder.

“I'm still going to win.” He smirked

“Ha!” Jess scoffed. “I could stand up on this disc and still beat you to the bottom.”

“This I gotta see.”

Jess planted first one foot then the other, treating it like a snowboard. Kayne followed suit, though he made it look so much easier. He smiled smugly down at her. “Did I mention I grew up on a surf board?”

“I didn't know there were oceans in Belarus.”

He eyed her suspiciously. “What makes you think I'm from there?”

“The kids said you told them you were born in the city where the Werewolf King once ruled. I assumed you were referring to Vseslav of Polotsk.”

“Impressive. I was six when I moved to California, so Belarus was still part of the Soviet Union at that point.”

“Well that explains it. All that California sun bleached your brain.” She laughed.

“Ha, ha. Come on, let's see how good you are…unless you're chicken?” He challenged.

She hesitated until he started flapping his arms and clucking. The children cheered louder. They'd even garnered attention from several of the picnickers, specifically Rafe, Joe, and Trace. God only knew who those yahoos were rooting for.

Fine! She could do this. It was a nothing hill, but she was pretty sure this wasn't one of her brightest ideas. Best to just get it over and done with.

She shifted her weight forward, and down the hill she went, picking up quite a bit of speed. She heard Kayne yell something, but she was too focused on trying to stay vertical. He had been right, it was nothing like snowboarding. It was more like a log roll.

She only made it halfway down before she fell flat on her back. Hard. Knocking the wind out of her.
She was vaguely aware of Kayne dropping to his knees beside her. “Oh, Christ. Baby, are you okay?”

That was a very good question. If she could catch her breath, she might just be able to answer.

“Are you hurt?”

“I think...I'm okay,” she panted, and tried to sit up.

He gently pushed her back down. “Lay there for a minute,” he urged. “I can’t believe you did something that fucking stupid!”

Now he was shouting? He was the one that had dared her in the first place.

“Sorry, guess I'm just not the surfer type,” she said dryly.

“Jesus, I never meant for you to actually do it. I thought you'd have better sense than that.” He threw his arm in the direction of the hill.

Unbelievable! She flung a handful of snow at him.

“Hey! What was that for?” he demanded.

She lobbed more snow at him, too mad to respond. Stupid? Jackass! Jess picked up another handful of snow, but he caught her wrist.

“Everything okay here?” Jess heard Rafe ask from somewhere close behind.

Kayne made the fatal mistake of looking toward their audience, and Jess took advantage by dumping a handful of snow down the neck of his jacket with her free hand.

“Son of a bitch!” He reared back, giving her enough room to scramble free.

Kayne stood up slowly, shaking the snow off of him. He was all lithe predator, and she'd just become his prey.

She scooped up more snow and took aim.

Kayne stood his ground. “You're asking for it,” he warned.

She lobbed the snow at him and took off running.

“Oh no you don't!” He chased after her, and she felt a snowball hit her in the ass....

Grab it on Amazon Today!


Sorry, you're going to have to read the rest of RAZING KAYNE to know how the snowball fight ends. However, I have a question for you. I want to hear what your favorite winter sport is. Leave a message below and I'll pick one random—US only—winner to received a signed copy of RAZING KAYNE along with a custom book mark. Additionally I'm giving away two e-copies of RAZING KAYNE worldwide.

About the Author:

Julieanne Reeves is a third generation Arizonan with a background in Police-Fire-911 Communications. When she's not spending time spoiling her two wonderful children, she enjoys reading and writing steamy romantic suspense. Having had the privilege of working with some of the finest Law Enforcement Officers in the nation, it's little wonder her heroes carry a firearm and badge. Julieanne currently lives in the Phoenix-Metro area, but hopes to one day return to the mountain town that inspired her Walking A Thin Blue Line series. 

Keep in Touch via:  Her Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter @JulieanneReeves


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Good morning everyone!  I'm very pleased to bring a friend to the blog today.  Megan has her book, Anchor Me out today.  I was lucky enough to be a part of this book's development, and Megan has a natural gift with writing.

Anchor Me
Contemporary Romance

Jillian Banner is adrift.

Her brother, Gabe, had been her anchor since she was 13. But now he’s dead, leaving behind a pregnant fiancée and a business under investigation by the IRS. She is alone, having left the only man she ever loved under a haze of betrayal.

Mark Chambers spent the summer trying to get over the loss of Jillian. Now that he also lost his best friend, Gabe, he’s barely keeping it together. He never betrayed Jillian, but he can’t tell her the truth, even if it was all for her. He made promises, and those promises go beyond the grave.

In mourning, Mark and Jillian tentatively restart a relationship, throwing their support behind the mother of Gabe’s child. As the owner of an aquatic store, Jillian takes on her hardest challenge yet, helping a business partner sell captive-bred seahorses.

But just when Jillian begins to trust Mark again, she finds the men in her life built walls of lies to protect her. To stay afloat, Jillian has to learn what she wants, what she needs and how to be her own anchor.

I asked Megan to put together a blog post for today.  Here's a bit about her inspiration.

I read Tiffany Reisz's The Siren this year, and one of the characters, a ruthless book editor, says, Don't write what you know, write what you want to know."

As a writer, I'm so fascinated by that line. Because in all my creative writing courses in high school and college, I've always been told to "write what I know." But when I really think about it, isn't that kind of boring? I don't want to sit down and write a bunch of words that are already in my head, words that I already know. I want to create. I want to let my characters do their thing and decide my plot for me.

The idea for Anchor Me came years ago when my brother and his wife announced she was pregnant with their first child. At the time, I had no children myself and I was so stoked for a niece or nephew. But, my mind trailed in the next couple months, and I began to think of the "What ifs." What if something happened to his wife, or his child, or HIM? The thing is, I didn't know. I had no idea what would happen. But I thought it'd be interesting to explore it, and that was the seed from which Anchor Me grew. 

Of course, I drew from my own experiences. The main theme of the novel is that we all have an "inner seahorse," which is the hippocampus in our brain. The hippocampus is named after seahorses, because of its shape, and is responsible for our sense of direction. The main character, Jillian Banner, owns an aquatic store. I worked for years in a pet store and have maintained my own home aquariums. So, while I definitely drew on "what I knew," I never raised seahorses. I had to research them extensively, which I found really rewarding and fun.

As for the relationships in the book, I drew from my own experiences, as a wife, sister, friend. But it took a lot of soul-searching to explore how those relationships would alter if tragedies that occurred in my book happened in real life.

Overall, I learned a lot from writing this book. Of course, I learned about the writing craft itself, but I also learned a lot about myself. And as a writer, that was one of the most rewarding things to me. 

I'm currently working on a New Adult series now, and that Tiffany Reisz quote is constantly in the back of my mind, whispering, making me push myself not to fall back on what I know, but instead, to write what I want to know.

Let's take a peek at Anchor Me!


Jillian muttered a farewell. Mark exhaled, and she finally raised her eyes. He looked at her steadily, and she quickly darted her gaze away, searching for something to do to keep her mind busy. Ah yes, algae scraping the 220. Clearing her throat, she eased out from behind the counter and grabbed the algae magnets. She plunged one into the water on the inside of the tank and caught it with its match on the outside. Slowly, she moved her hand across the glass, taking the magnets with her.

“Hey,” he said quietly to her back. “Sorry to just show up. Didn’t think you’d take my calls…” Mark’s deep voice trailed off. That voice. His voice.

She closed her eyes, and when she opened them, she looked at him. His dark brown eyes looked almost black, reflecting the dark shapes in the water. He wore the expressionless mask he was so good at donning.

“You could have just sent a card. Or flowers,” Jillian said quietly. The fog in her head became thicker, and she felt light-headed. She struggled to think when she’d last eaten. She faltered and put her other hand on the tank to brace herself.

He moved toward her with his hand out. It was probably just a gut reaction on his part, but she instinctively took a step away, and he stopped abruptly. Hurt flashed in his eyes. He glanced at his hand—stretched out to touch her? Catch her? He pulled it back and scratched the side of his head over his ear, ruffling thick, dark brown hair out of place.

That hair. His hair.

He steeled himself and hardened his face. The muscles in his jaw twitched with restrained irritation. “I wanted you to know I am really sorry about Gabe. I honestly can’t believe it happened and…I’m really torn up about it.”

Jillian’s ears burned with heat, and she knew her forked tongue was next. “Well, I’m so sorry to hear you are taking this so hard,” she snarled through clenched teeth. The sting of tears threatened as they always did when her anger rose, but she knew none would fall.

He sucked in a breath, and then he spoke slowly, his voice thick. “That’s not fair.”

She remained silent.

He took a deep breath. “This isn’t…I didn’t know…You know what, sorry. I thought coming here and offering my condolences was the right thing to do. But apparently not. Fuck it.” He held up his hands and began to walk toward the front door.

His words slashed at her. He only swore when he was angry, and any extreme emotion was rare for him. Her heart ached, and she knew she should say something. She wanted to, but her voice caught in her throat. She pulled away the magnet. The one inside the tank plunked down into the gravel. Grit swirled up from where it landed.

She turned to face the front door and opened her mouth in the same instant Mark whirled around and opened his.


“You know—”

They both stopped and stared.

Available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback.  BUY HERE!

About the Author:

Megan began writing stories as soon as she learned how, and her first tales were of her childhood pet -- a deaf cat with dandruff. She thinks it's safe to say her writing and subject matter have come a long way since then. After covering real-life dramas as a journalist in college and her early 20s, she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son and two cats. When she's not tapping away on her laptop, she's probably listening to the characters in her head who just.won't.shut.up.

For more, visit her website or follow her on twitter @_meganerickson


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Good morning, authors!  Hope 2013 is treating you well.  Today's editorial little tidbit is about tagging dialogue and the 'invisible' said.

To start this off, I'm going to share a piece of one of my books that I've edited to fit the example, and I've highlighted what I want to address:

“Never ring my home this late again,” she instructed.
            “Wait!”  she exclaimed, before Isolde could terminate the call.  “Isolde, I swear, it is me.  You came to Paris with Fintan in the spring of 1890, after Belen informed you that I had taken up residence with your brother.  The four of us dined at Maxim’s,”  she insisted as she gripped the edge of the table top, squeezed her eyes shut and said a silent prayer Isolde would believe.  She had to.  She must.
            “This is…impossible,” Isolde said.
            “No.  No, it isn’t,”  she insisted, shaking her head, adamant.  “When I excused myself to the ladies’ room, you followed.  You begged me to leave Taran,” she begged her.
            And from that moment on, they had become the dearest of friends.
            In the silence that followed Solène’s words, she opened her eyes and moved away from the table.  Her heart thumped against her ribs, her mind churned frantic circles.  No one else knew of their conversation that evening.  Isolde must believe.  Please, please, remember.
            “Solène?” Isolde whispered.

Okay, so, anyone who's been edited by me with this stuff happening knows where this conversation is going. What's wrong with this passage?  It has action, dialogue, and it's pretty descriptive...

It's the dialogue tagging.  While this particular little cut of text might not grate on the nerves, imagine page after page, every dialogue tagged in some fashion.  This is not something you want to present.  It is redundant, among all the other reasons it should be avoided.

Dialogue tagging is a tricky little devil.  We need it for clarity--without any tags at all, we wouldn't know which two women said what, above.  But there are more effective ways to show it.

Invisible Said

Use said, because it's invisible -- right?

Well, said is invisible to a degree, yes.  But presented above -- swap out said for every thing else in bold -- it is still redundant.  And it occurs so frequently it's obvious, and therefore the invisible effect said has is moot.  Invisible said only applies when you use it as a scattered dialogue tag.  (tagged in between other ways of showing who's speaking.)

Action Tags

The better way of handling dialogue is to connect the dialogue to an action tag.  An action tag is when the 'speaker' does something.  Something other than said, yelled, screeched, whispered, intoned, or any other verbal action.

For instance:  "You can light that in here!"  She snatched his cigarette from between his lips and snapped it in half.

As opposed to:  "You can't light that in here!" she exclaimed, grabbing his cigarette from between his lips and snapping it in half.

Action keeps the story moving along and pretty much eliminates all redundancy -- unless, of course, it's the same action over and over.

So, going back to that original example, this is how it was originally done:


“Never ring my home this late again.”

“Wait!”  She bit out the exclamation before Isolde could terminate the call.  “Isolde, I swear, it is me.  You came to Paris with Fintan in the spring of 1890, after Belen informed you that I had taken up residence with your brother.  The four of us dined at Maxim’s.”  Solène gripped the edge of the table top, squeezed her eyes shut and said a silent prayer Isolde would believe.  She had to.  She must.

“This is…impossible,” Isolde murmured.

“No.  No, it isn’t.”  She shook her head adamant.  “When I excused myself to the ladies’ room, you followed.  You begged me to leave Taran.”

And from that moment on, they had become the dearest of friends.

In the silence that followed Solène’s words, she opened her eyes and moved away from the table.  Her heart thumped against her ribs, her mind churned frantic circles.  No one else knew of their conversation that evening.  Isolde must believe.  Please, please, remember.

“Solène?” Isolde whispered.


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Good morning, everyone!  It's Tuesday again, and we're peeking at Marked for Death.  It will be available tomorrow!!

So let's get back to where we were -- chapter 2, I do believe.


Taran McLaine knows the agony of his incubus father's curse more intimately than his siblings. A century ago he murdered the only woman he ever loved. When he finds her alive, he's faced with the ultimate heartbreak. They have no chance at a future--he's done all he can to insure that on his day of judgment the ancestors will deny him a mortal life.

Years ago, Solene Larouche embraced Taran and the dark curse that cloaked him. She knew the risk she faced, but when Drandar pulls her back to life, she agrees to aid the demon and damn Taran to eternal suffering. One look at the man who held her heart so long ago, however, changes her mind. She must find a way to free him, even if it means condemning herself to eternity as Drandar's slave.

As Samhain approaches, Solene and Taran conspire to destroy Drandar. But will their combined effort enable them to kill the incubus or will they be cast into Drandar's own special Hell and all hope of their renewed love marked for death?


Chapter Two

Twenty steps away from the hauntingly beautiful woman, her words registered in Taran’s mind.  He came to an abrupt halt beneath the light of a streetlamp.  She knew his name…

Beneath his feet, the world fell away.  He curled a hand around the iron post to keep from stumbling to his knees.  Solène—it couldn’t be.  He had felt her blood on his hands, watched as she gasped her last breath.  He had put her broken body in the ground, along with all that was good and decent in his soul.

Yet how else could she know his name?  She was identical.  She even wore the same perfume—jasmine with the faintest hint of cinnamon.  Solène Larouche was the only woman who could pull off such mismatched aromas.


Something deep inside Taran began to tremble.

Her laughter rang through his head.  A vision of her as she raced into the grand music room and spun a circle on the parquet wood floor, her arms outstretched, her glorious long hair spilling out behind her.  It’s ours.  It’s really ours, Taran.  We’ll call it Serenity.  Come and dance with me.

He had taken her in his arms, laughing with her as he held her body close and spun her across the waxed floor.  The music was their own.  A sensual rhythm that held notes of whimsy and an undertone of danger.  They danced until standing so close became intolerable, and the fire that burned between them drew them to the floor, where she had cried out his name in ecstasy, and he had stared into her eyes, lost to the love that shone there.



Now, when he had done all he could to insure he would never know mortality.

He ground his teeth together and released the light post.  She could not possibly be alive.  This was some cruel trick of his mother’s, meant to somehow divert him from his intentions.  He was sick and tired of Nyamah’s interference.

With a hand clenched at his side, he turned back to the shop and the woman within.  He’d allowed her to  catch him off guard and sidetrack him from his purpose.  No more.  He had one final step to take to secure his end. Nyamah would not deter him from that plan.

He crossed to the door in half the time it had taken him to leave and jerked on the handle.  It didn’t budge.  She’d locked it.

Damn it.  Damn her.

To stop the rush of nonsensical rage, he inhaled deeply, closed his eyes, and counted to thirty.  One more reason why he needed to finish this vile act—the darkness raging in his soul made control damn near impossible.  Every little impulse wanted to take life.  Like kicking in this door.  He could try—venting the fury would bring an enormous rush of relief.  But all he would succeed in was breaking his toe.  He had helped drive the stake-like nails that held the wooden bar in place on the other side.  No one would get through this door without mechanical help.

And if the woman was Solène, she had further barred entry with her own powerful magic.  When a witch did not want interruptions, she did not have them.

Instead of following the rash urge, he hiked himself onto the short retaining wall and took a seat.  Someone else would come before she turned out her light.  Someone who wouldn’t be content with a locked door.  When the woman opened it to send the visitor away, he would let himself inside.

If not, she still had her late night coffee appointment to attend.  When she came out, as she always did shortly after the midnight hour, he would grab her then.


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Today's Sunday Six is from Marked for Death.

“I’ve missed you,” she whispered.

Taran stood stock still for an indefinable passing of time.  She watched the full affect of his own yearning shift through his expression.  Surprise morphed into harsh angles as he combated something fierce that she’d never fully understood but accepted as part of him.  Then, those sharp planes and shadowed crevices smoothed with the hidden tenderness that lived in his heart.  That softness, that brief glimpse of the love he felt for her, stole Solène’s breath away.


Marked For Death
Inherited Damnation, Book VIII
Available 1-16-13

Taran McLaine knows the agony of his incubus father's curse more intimately than his siblings. A century ago he murdered the only woman he ever loved. When he finds her alive, he's faced with the ultimate heartbreak. They have no chance at a future--he's done all he can to insure that on his day of judgment the ancestors will deny him a mortal life.

Years ago, Solene Larouche embraced Taran and the dark curse that cloaked him. She knew the risk she faced, but when Drandar pulls her back to life, she agrees to aid the demon and damn Taran to eternal suffering. One look at the man who held her heart so long ago, however, changes her mind. She must find a way to free him, even if it means condemning herself to eternity as Drandar's slave.

As Samhain approaches, Solene and Taran conspire to destroy Drandar. But will their combined effort enable them to kill the incubus or will they be cast into Drandar's own special Hell and all hope of their renewed love marked for death?


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Good morning, everyone!  Today's writerly perspective isn't about craft, or the technique of writing, but about how to handle an editor's remarks...appropriately.

Let's look a little at the process:  For one reason or another, you've entrusted an editor with your manuscript.  On the surface, particularly for traditional print, it may seem as if you have no choice in who is editing you.  Alas--wrong.  As an author, it's your responsibility to research the houses you are shopping your book with.  If you don't trust the editing staff of one house or another, you have no business shopping your manuscript there.  Read what the house is publishing, check out each individual line that corresponds with your work.  If you like what you read, there's a good editor behind the scenes.

With self publishing, options are broader.  The same research applies: look at some of their titles, ask them for references, analyze what comes back both in your initial correspondence and the 'test-edit' -- the remarks you receive from your sample.

So, all that accomplished, you have an editor, and now you must extend faith.  Just as an editor extends faith that you're willing to improve.

What happens then, when you get a manuscript back filled with red marks in the columns and comments all over the place?

In short form, particularly in self publishing, you can reject every darn thing he or she says.  But if you do so, why did you decide to hire the editor?

Your Editor Is Your Friend

An editor isn't out to cut-down your work.  That's the most important thing to understand.  An editor also doesn't want 'bad product' reflecting on his or her name.  And last, the editor wants your book to succeed.  Otherwise, she/he wouldn't be editing.

Editorial remarks come from a perspective that isn't tied to the story.  An educated perspective from someone who understands technical, market, and overall plot needs.  It's not just about fixing sentence structure or incorrect punctuation.  It's about looking at everything as a whole and crafting the best possible product for readers (and, in turn, for the author's bottom line.)

Editorial remarks can point out small things that, on the surface, may seem unimportant -- who cares if there are intruders, or commas in series?  Or if a specific car can really reach a claimed speed. Or what sort of helmet existed in the specific year.

Editorial remarks can also cover larger issues: characters who come off as psychotic when they aren't supposed to; gaping plot holes, and structure issues.

All of them are designed to draw your attention to a noted issue.  Most often, the editor is correct.  But it doesn't mean he/she is right.  If she's changed the entire plot by altering a poorly structured sentence, that's not particularly right.  The grammar change is correct, however.

So what do you do?

Thoughtfully Review

Well, review everything for starters.  Is there an overall theme?  Is she continually hitting the same 'issue' -- passive voice cropping up all over?  Or is it all about small details that could possibly be excused?

Your job as an author is to use that faith you entrusted to the editor you hired and evaluate whether the remarks damage or incorrectly change your story.  If they don't, I pose the question: What harm comes from spending the time to improve?  If you've been called out for passive writing, does it harm your story to nix it and put in active passages?

Editorial remarks should adhere to their purpose -- to improve what's already written.  If they don't, by all means, raise the objection with your editor.  Open a conversation to see if you can understand why they might have been made.

If they do offer a means of making your work more competitive, or can improve what you've already put forth, think solutions through.

Determine The Real Issue

Another thing I've learned is that the remark may not relate to what is specifically stated.  Nine times out of ten, if an editor has called out something and you object with the editor, you've failed to ground something you thought you did.  Often you can solve the issue by addressing that, as opposed to making a sweeping change.

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

Discover what means the most to you.  What remarks can you shrug off with a "eh, if it makes her happy, fine."  What remarks have you saying, "No way ever."  Pick the battles accordingly.  There's no sense in starting an argument over a remark like, "I don't really see why she'd say this, please reword."

For instance, one of the remarks one of my editors made was "I don't really know anything about her family, at all.  Are they still living? Are they dead? I'd like to see more."  It didn't hurt me, or the manuscript to add in a sentence or two.  I made her happy.  I still don't see that as a detrimental remark, but it took all of five seconds to address something that bugged her enough to make a mention of it.  And chances are, if it bugged her, it will bug someone else.

Don't Make Excuses

Use your wisdom, your judgement, and really think things through.  An editor didn't spend 18 hours editing a manuscript just to drive you nuts or tear your baby apart.  She did so with thought and consideration for the likely success of your work.  Do what you can to really decide whether it's an improvement.  And don't just wave off the remarks with, "She doesn't understand my genre.  She doesn't know what she's doing.  I did it deliberately.  Other books in my genre are written like this."  (And so forth.)  Doing so only wastes the editor's time, as well as your money.  Rely on that trust you extended, and consider thoroughly if making the change will give you a better book.

And that's my long-winded two cents!

Looking for an editor?  Check out Finish The Story!


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For those of you just tuning in, this week we're discovering what happens to Taran when he walks across the street, intent on killing the woman who reminds him of the one woman he can't forget.  It's the second half of chapter one from Marked for Death, the last book in the Inherited Damnation series, which releases January 16th.


Marked for Death
Inherited Damnation, Book VIII

Taran McLaine knows the agony of his incubus father's curse more intimately than his siblings. A century ago he murdered the only woman he ever loved. When he finds her alive, he's faced with the ultimate heartbreak. They have no chance at a future--he's done all he can to insure that on his day of judgment the ancestors will deny him a mortal life.

Years ago, Solene Larouche embraced Taran and the dark curse that cloaked him. She knew the risk she faced, but when Drandar pulls her back to life, she agrees to aid the demon and damn Taran to eternal suffering. One look at the man who held her heart so long ago, however, changes her mind. She must find a way to free him, even if it means condemning herself to eternity as Drandar's slave.

As Samhain approaches, Solene and Taran conspire to destroy Drandar. But will their combined effort enable them to kill the incubus or will they be cast into Drandar's own special Hell and all hope of their renewed love marked for death?


As the back door creaked open, Solène took a deep breath to steady the trembling in her hands.  She faced the long row of shelves behind the well-worn counter, unwilling to reveal herself in entirety to Taran.  The one encounter they’d had, had been close enough.  But time was at a premium.  Samhain occurred in two nights.  She couldn’t ignore her obligations any longer.

And she couldn’t deny a small part of her relished the knowledge that Taran would suffer for taking her life so long ago.

A very small part.

The rest of her was too busy wanting to throw herself into his arms and tumble back into the bed they had shared.  The life they had created.  The love they had known, despite the curse he suffered that damned her to an early grave.

Still, the reality of death had a way of tarnishing emotion.

Footsteps crossed the uneven marbled floor, bringing him closer.  She ordered her fingers not to shake as she reached for a green glass jar on the shelf above her head.  Pretending she couldn’t feel the threatening presence that clung to him, and ignoring the intoxicating scent of old world spice that drifted off his clothes, Solène removed the glass stopper and picked up a bowl of fresh ground sage.  She poured as Taran moved toward the counter.

At the fringes of her awareness another presence stirred.  Her spirit wards closed in, hovering just beyond the barrier of recognition, ready to thwart Taran’s murderous hand.

Oh, she knew why he had come.  Had expected it from the moment the demon Drandar reunited her with the mortal plane.  It had only been a matter of time.

“I’ll be with you in a moment,” she called.

Without a word, he moved to the north wall, where silver talismans nestled between thin tomes designed for Paris’s true masters of witchcraft.  Solène turned her head a fraction, watching the way he ran a reverent hand over the cover of one old spell.  Her breath hitched at the sight of his sharp profile, his long dark hair, the mouth that could curve so sensually, and so wickedly as well.  Over one hundred years, and he was still every bit as mesmerizing as the night they’d met at the opening of the Moulin Rouge.

His posture belied discomfort.  The lines on his forehead spoke of pain.  Her heart shuddered in sympathy.  Taran hadn’t come near this place they had once called home since he laid a single red rose on her freshly dug grave.  He passed down the street, lingered at a distance, but not once had he entered, not even when it had been opened for display the three times it had been on the market.

If his reaction was anything like hers when she’d set foot inside the dusty shop they had established together, he bled inside.  Looking on the things they had crafted together, the magic they had drawn and channeled during the quiet hours of night, had nearly broken her.

Taran jerked his hand away from a silver-handled dagger and his mouth formed a harsh line.  He turned toward the counter, his onyx eyes glittering.

Solène restored the jar to the shelf above her head, smoothed her hands down the front of her black shirt, and summoned courage.  She pulled a smile from deep within before turning to face him.  In the calmest voice she could craft, she asked, “How may I help you?”

Shock washed across Taran’s features.  He opened his mouth, snapped it shut, then gave a slight shake of his head.  “I was told…”  His voice vibrated with a lack of confidence that didn’t fit his character. 

She moved to the edge of the counter, keeping her gaze locked with his.  “You were told I knew the arts, yes?”

A short nod of his head confirmed.

He was lying, but then she hadn’t expected anything less.  He’d need some sort of excuse to come into the store.  She didn’t cater to the general public, only to those who passed quiet referrals.

“Was there something in specific you needed?”  Solène took care to keep her voice light.  It wasn’t yet time to reveal her hand.  Spirits above, he looked delicious.  She could still feel the weight of his strong arms folding around her.  The warmth of his breath as he feathered a kiss across her lips.

Old longing stirred in the depths of her soul, and Solène had to grip the edge of the counter to ward off a dizzy spell.

Taran approached the counter warily.  His eyes raked down the length of her body, slowly flicked up to rest on her face.  Curiosity flashed in his dark stare, then morphed into pained disbelief.

Yes, it’s me, Taran.  Her smile faltered.

He looked so wounded.  So anguished.  How could she have ever believed she could damn him to an eternity of suffering?  She could no more carry out Drandar’s dark wishes, than she could hand Taran the knife he needed to kill her.

And yet… she’d give a thousand lifetimes to ease his pain.

Focus.  She swallowed down the cobwebs that gathered in her throat.  “If you’re looking for a rite for Samhain, I have a few hand-crafted rituals on the counter where you were just looking.”

“No.” he answered brusquely.  “I’ve forgotten now.”

Fine excuse.  Did that mean he’d changed his mind?  No, knowing him, he’d simply become so off-center that he needed time to reorganize his thoughts.

Taran tapped a fist on the scarred countertop.  His long black hair whipped over his shoulder as he pivoted on his heel.  He pushed it aside with a muffled oath and stalked to the door.

Solène stepped behind the false safety of the countertop.  When he set his palm on the door and pushed it open, she dug her nails into the wood.  He was halfway outside before she managed to force out words.  “Come back when you know what you’re looking for, Taran McLaine.”


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Happy New Year for those of you who haven't visited the blog since last week.

Here's another six from Marked for Death, my release coming January 16th, the last in the Inherited Damnation series.


When he lifted his lashes again, sorrow reflected in his dark eyes.  “I’m…afraid…Solène.”

His rough whisper shot daggers into her heart.  In all their time together, he had never confessed fear, never let down his prideful walls and admitted something so honest.  She arched her back and rose off the mattress to press her lips to his.  “There’s nothing to fear.”


Marked for Death
Inherited Damnation, Book VIII

Taran McLaine knows the agony of his incubus father's curse more intimately than his siblings. A century ago he murdered the only woman he ever loved. When he finds her alive, he's faced with the ultimate heartbreak. They have no chance at a future--he's done all he can to insure that on his day of judgment the ancestors will deny him a mortal life.

Years ago, Solene Larouche embraced Taran and the dark curse that cloaked him. She knew the risk she faced, but when Drandar pulls her back to life, she agrees to aid the demon and damn Taran to eternal suffering. One look at the man who held her heart so long ago, however, changes her mind. She must find a way to free him, even if it means condemning herself to eternity as Drandar's slave.

As Samhain approaches, Solene and Taran conspire to destroy Drandar. But will their combined effort enable them to kill the incubus or will they be cast into Drandar's own special Hell and all hope of their renewed love marked for death?


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**Oh my gosh, folks.  I'm so embarrassed.  I got so totally involved in sharing the BOOK with you, that I completely and utterly neglected to put in Shannyn's guest blog.  I'm horribly embarrassed.  But I guess, if a good book gets me that excited, worse things can happen.  Post has been modified now.**

Happy New Year, everyone!

I'm really pleased to bring you Shannyn Schroeder today, and her debut book, More Than This.  I read what was sent over to me as a tour host, and must confess, it sucked me in very quickly.  Enough that I went to Shannyn's website and read a really long excerpt she has posted there.  You should check it out.  It's published by Kensington, and I downloaded my own copy a few minutes ago.

I'll say this again:  You should seriously check out this book! The characters pop, and Ryan has already melted my heart. Those of you who follow my guest author Thursdays know I don't often publicly recommend a book-take me seriously, please.

So, the details:

More Than This
Shannyn Schroeder

When a lonely teacher teams up with a handsome bartender for some outrageous acts, they both get more than they bargained for…

Learning her ex-husband is going to be a father, Quinn Adams is determined to have a baby of her own—without the partnership of a man. But her sister and friends believe she needs to focus on herself first, and step out of her comfort zone by completing a list of adventures. Challenge number one is to go on five dates within two weeks. After a few disastrous attempts, Quinn’s ready to give up—until sexy bartender Ryan O’Leary offers his assistance.

Ryan has always been the dependable one in his family, often at his expense. But lately, he’s been longing for a life—and a woman—of his own. The woman he has in mind is Quinn. Though it seems all she wants is friendship, Ryan can’t ignore the explosive chemistry he feels between them. In the hopes of becoming closer, Ryan offers to help out with Quinn’s list. But when she asks him for a serious favor, he’s afraid it will jeopardize his chance to become more than friends.

The First Meeting

When I was first asked to write about my hero and heroine’s first meeting, I had a bit of panic. Although I had an image of their first meeting, it doesn’t appear in the book. I would have to write the scene and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to jump back into the world I’d left when I sent in my final revisions. So I sat on this blog post for a long time. Then finally, I let my mind wander back to imagine the first time Ryan laid eyes on Quinn…

Ryan O’Leary left his office with the intent of checking in with Mary before heading to his other bar, Twilight. What he hadn’t expected was to see a crowd of people standing at the bar at four-thirty in the afternoon. Where the hell did all these people come from?
            He made his way behind the bar to help Mary pour drinks. As if reading his mind, his manager shrugged at him and pulled another beer. About twenty people, more than half of which wore red shirts, lined up waiting for drinks. There must’ve been some conference or something nearby. He served drinks one by one and people filtered away to nearby tables and into the back to play darts.
            Mary could handle the rest, and Ryan was about to leave when a pretty brunette took a stool across from him. One more customer wouldn’t make him late. She sat stiff and uncomfortable, but she wore the same red shirt as everyone else, so she obviously belonged to the group.
He slapped a napkin on the bar in front of her. “Hi, what can I get for you?”
She started and looked over her shoulder. He waited patiently with a smile for her to return her attention to him.
When she did, her cheeks were slightly pink and she tucked a lock of her chin-length hair behind her left ear. Her voice was almost as weak as her smile as she spoke. “Um…a frozen strawberry margarita?”
“Is that a question or an order?”
“Can you make me one?”
“Sure can.” He turned to fulfill the order and watched the woman from the corner of his eye. She interlocked her fingers and braced them against the edge of the bar.
Ryan placed the drink in front of her and extended his hand. “Ryan O’Leary. Nice to meet you.”
She glanced at his hand like it was a foreign object and reluctantly shook it. “Quinn Adams.”
“So, Ms. Adams, what’s with all the red shirts?” He leaned forward on the bar and hoped she’d do the same, but she kept her distance.
She tugged at her short sleeve as she crossed her arms. “Oh, school spirit day. We all work at Jones High School. We go out for a drink every Friday after work and someone suggested we try a new bar.”
Lucky him.
“What do I owe you for the drink?”
“It’s on the house. Welcome to O’Leary’s. Hopefully, you’ll become a regular.” He smiled again, with the grin that worked on every woman, and watched the pink rise in her cheeks. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually witnessed a woman blushing.
He wiped down the bar and carried on small talk with other teachers, while keeping an eye on Quinn. She drank quickly and didn’t talk to anyone.
At one point, a tall blond man spoke to her. She shook her head and then slid from her stool. She hadn’t finished the drink, but tossed a dollar on the bar. He hurried back to her spot.
“Something wrong with the margarita?”
“Not at all. It was very good. I’m just heading out.”
“Will you be back next Friday?”
She glanced at the group around her. “Probably.”
Then she treated him to a smile that was as quiet as she was, but brightened her face. For a brief moment, she relaxed as she looked into his eyes.
“I look forward to it.” 


“What’s up? Haven’t seen you in a while.”

“It’s only been a week.”

“I’ve gotten used to you stopping by more often.”

“I’ve been working. The end of the year is a busy time.” This was the third time she’d seen him since the kiss, and he’d said nothing.

“What’s this?” He tapped her calendar.

I guess we’re still ignoring the kiss. “I’m trying to choose the best day to play hooky.”

Ryan’s laughter rose above the noise of the milling crowd. “You need more help than I thought. Sweetheart, a hooky day isn’t something you plan. You just do it. You don’t think about work. The day is supposed to be fun.”

Quinn groaned and thumped her head on the table. “I can’t do that.”

“Didn’t you ever cut class?”

Quinn raised her head. “No. Perfect attendance all four years. Eight if you count college.”

His crinkly-eyed smile returned. “Oddly, I’m not surprised by that fact. If you’re not comfortable with it, why are you doing it?”

“Remember the list Indy and Kate created for me last week?” You know, the night you kissed me senseless one minute and moved on to a bimbo the next?

He nodded and she continued, “The first item on the list is to play hooky.”

“Playing hooky should not be stressful. Everyone does it. Lighten up. Pick a day and have fun. Your students will survive without you. Most of them have played hooky and can appreciate it.”

She slammed her calendar shut. “Okay. Monday it is, then.”

He shook his head again. “Not quite spur of the moment.”

“Hey, I’m a work in progress.”


GIVEAWAY!  So, more than a good book, Shannyn has a super give-away with her release.  Shannyn will be awarding a 15" x 12" Pampered Chef flat baking stone (similar to the one her heroine uses) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US only).  She'll be awarding a Keeper Kase (to keep your autographed book cover flats in) with an autographed cover flat from "More Than This" to one commenter at every stop (US only).  Follow the tour, the more you comment, the better your chances of winning!  Complete tour dates can be found here.

About the Author:

Shannyn Schroeder is a former English teacher, who now works as a part-time editor while raising her three kids.

Even though she wrote from high school through college (mostly poetry), she’d never considered a career as an author. Writing fell by the wayside as she focused her energy on creating lesson plans and new and fabulous ways to torment her teen students. One group in particular dubbed her “The Torture Master,” a title she carried into motherhood.

After the birth of baby number two, Shannyn resigned from teaching and fell in love with reading romance novels. She read so many books so quickly that her husband teased, “If you’re going to read so many damn books, why don’t you just write one?”

So she did.

That first book is safely buried on her hard drive, but the process set Shannyn on the path to professional author. She came to reading romance later than many, but lives for the happy ending because real life can be depressing. She writes contemporary romance because she enjoys the adventure of new love.

In her spare time, she loves to bake cookies and watches far too much TV, especially cop shows. She is recovering from her Diet Coke addiction, fears putting her foot in her mouth on social media, and has a renewed appreciation for the bad girls of the world.

Web site:

Twitter: @SSchroeder_

A GoddessFish Promotions Guest


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Well, it's that time...a bittersweet time for me.  My Inherited Damnation series comes to a close on January 16th with the release of Marked for Death.  I've had a wonderful time with these characters, and more so with the darkest sibling, Taran.  I hope you enjoy his story as much as I did writing it.  It's really a very emotional journey.  Very emotional.

Here's the first part of Chapter One, to whet your appetite!

Marked for Death
Inherited Damnation, Book VIII

Taran McLaine knows the agony of his incubus father's curse more intimately than his siblings. A century ago he murdered the only woman he ever loved. When he finds her alive, he's faced with the ultimate heartbreak. They have no chance at a future--he's done all he can to insure that on his day of judgment the ancestors will deny him a mortal life.

Years ago, Solene Larouche embraced Taran and the dark curse that cloaked him. She knew the risk she faced, but when Drandar pulls her back to life, she agrees to aid the demon and damn Taran to eternal suffering. One look at the man who held her heart so long ago, however, changes her mind. She must find a way to free him, even if it means condemning herself to eternity as Drandar's slave.

As Samhain approaches, Solene and Taran conspire to destroy Drandar. But will their combined effort enable them to kill the incubus or will they be cast into Drandar's own special Hell and all hope of their renewed love marked for death?


Chapter One

Like sapphires hidden in earth’s inky depths, the subtle cobalt sheen of her hair called Taran McLaine by name.  Within the cover of deep shadow, he tracked the glossy sway as the woman crossed the Rue de Rennes and strode past a small café that bustled with late night activity.  She stopped before an ornate iron gate that enclosed a recessed door on the ground level of a five-story, grey, stone building.    

To anyone else, the building looked just like its neighbors.  Astute, touched by time, and weathered with charm.  To Taran, the building was Notre Sérénité, and the memories that came with the house haunted him.
Much like the woman who he had literally stumbled into months ago, when he was hurrying through a downpour to feed the mangy tomcat that watched him from a nearby trash container now.  She’d been running for the gate, he for the corner of the antiquated block, when they’d collided into one another.  He’d taken one look at her fair features, her vivid green eyes, and forgot how to function.

In 125 years, he had never encountered a woman who bore such a striking resemblance to Solène Larouche, the woman who had captured his heart and died at his hands.

Keys jangled as the woman unlocked the iron gate.  Hinges squeaked.  She slipped inside, shut the heavy iron behind her, and locked it once more.  Taran shifted his stare to the window on the left.  A light switched on within.  A few moments later, another illuminated the second story window atop the first.

She had even chosen the same bedroom Taran had spent too many nights in, for her own.  She was the only person to do so in over a century.  The other owners—tenants when one owner converted it into flats in the early 20th century—had somehow always chosen another room in the vast five stories as their personal sleeping quarters.

Taran fought a grimace as icy fingers gripped his heart.  A memory flashed, the same long dark hair spilling across white linens, her flawless skin flushed with unspent passion.  He squeezed his eyes shut against the unwanted recollection and shifted his weight.

When he had tamed the yearning, he opened his eyes to find the window dark once again.  If he stole around the block, behind to the terraced patio, the pavestones would be aglow with soft yellow light.  The rear entry would be unlocked, braced partially open to allow the October breeze in and the diverse aromas of incense out.

Whoever she was, she had opened the store once more.  The same shop that Solène and he had opened together, to service the desires of a spiritualistic community that dared not show their faces in the light of day.  He’d only had to make a few discreet inquiries to discover she sold the same wares.
Who was she?

Dáire encountered her briefly, back before their mother’s scrolls had been discovered.  After recognizing the same similarities Taran did, he duped the woman the niece.  Taran couldn’t bring himself to ask.  She was too much like Solène.  Too much like the memory he couldn’t escape.

The woman held the power to drag him into the abyss of feeling, to provoke emotions he hadn’t experienced since the night he murdered the woman he loved.  

For that alone, she must die.

Taran breathed in the river’s wet scent and straightened his shoulders.  He didn’t hold a knife this time, as he had so long ago.  No, anymore, he didn’t need manmade tools to suffocate life.  His hands would work just fine.  Quicker too, as he snapped her neck.  She wouldn’t suffer, and he would solidify his own eternal demise. For by killing her, he would guarantee the ancestors would never return him to life.

He pushed away from the shadowed wall he leaned against and struck off down the street, winding beneath the streetlamps that painted Paris’ Left Bank with serenity.  For months he had put this off, waiting until he had done all he could to insure he would never draw another breath.  He’d even left Paris for a few months at a time to avoid the fierce urge that unwanted memories sparked.

In a few minutes, all he would need was his mother’s last scroll to secure the only peace he would ever know.

Taran crossed the street in swift, determined strides.

Come back next week for the continuation of chapter one!


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"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
(History Channel International)



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