I know, I know, this is my first blog post in wayyyy too long. So apologies to all my followers, but if there is anything to drag me out of hiding, it's close friend and fellow author, Carla Susan Smith's launch day. I'm incredibly thrilled to have her here today to share in this long-awaited occasion – the launch of A Vampire's Honor, the third book in her paranormal romance series, A Vampire's Promise. The fourth, and final book, A Vampire's Hunger comes out on October 25th, so if you get hooked now (and I guarantee you will!), the series conclusion is right around the corner!
Full disclaimer: Although Carla and I are friends (this is us at Romantic Times Booklover's Convention this past April), I fell in love with Carla's writing with her first book before we ever met. I've read all of her books, including the last two in the series, which I had the pleasure of reading before their release dates. So, I can fully vouch for this series! I've loved and savored each one of her books, intrigued by the romance and her take on the vampire / angel / demon paradigm. Gabriel is swoon-worthy as the hero, and Rowan is as witty as she is lovable. Aleksei, Anasztaizia, Lacey, and are wonderful and engaging secondary characters that draw you into this hidden world set in the Low Country down south. I give it my highest recommendation. But don't just take my word for it:
USA Today Bestselling Author, Rebecca Zanetti calls it, “Wicked fun not to be missed!” Library Journal also gives the series a glowing review: “Rowan's wry commentary about her predicament is priceless, and this romance sizzles. The revelations about the complex nature of Gabriel's existence and his connection to Rowan are the backdrop in which their wild passion and love run rampant. By striking a “deal with the devil,” Rowan gains much but also loses her former humanity. This series is highly recommended.”
That should be more than enough to convince you! But before I get started, let me share the new look for the entire series. The first two books were originally released with different covers featuring Sam Bond, the same cover model as my book, Caught Up in RAINE. Ironically, it's because of our shared “guy” that we actually met…you can read about that HERE. We both agree that these covers do a great job of conveying the mood of the books.
Please join me now for an interview with one of my good friends followed by an excerpt from the latest book! You can purchase any or all of A Vampire's Promise series here: Amazon | Apple | Google Play | Kobo | Nook | Kensington
1) Favorite paranormal vampire author beside yourself and what hooked you?
Oooh, talk about putting me on the spot! There are a lot of really good authors who all have their own take about vampires, and I know I can't choose just one, but I do have a weakness for J. R. Ward's hard-drinking, hard-loving, cussing-up-a-storm Black Dagger Brotherhood. The fact they're all struggling with issues only makes them more human to me. Then we have Lynsay Sand's Argeneau vampires who always make me laugh, even when I don't think they're supposed to. I also love the unexpected twist on the genre, like Elizabeth Hunter's elemental vampires, as well as the great symbiotic relationship Susan Squire describes in ‘The Companion.' All great stuff.
2) Best book you read this summer and why?
I've always liked fantasy, and admire those who write it well (Grace Draven is one on my favorite authors) but I have to admit this summer I discovered Sarah J. Maas. Though I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses – one of the absolute best re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast fable I've read in a long time – I think her follow-up book, A Court of Mist and Fury, is better. Here we get to discover what happens after the spell is broken. Riveting story, compelling characters, and I can't wait for the third installment to come out next year. And I do owe you a big thank-you for urging me to also read the Throne of Glass series, which is now competing for space on my bookshelves.
3) In your opinion, what makes an unforgettable hero? What's your kind of fictitious guy?
I think it's that one moment of vulnerability when you're allowed to see that he's not quite who you thought he was. For me it's never been the knight in shining armor come to save the day, or Prince Charming putting the world to rights with a kiss. I've always been drawn to complicated men. Ones who are dark, and damaged, but still have the spark, somewhere deep inside them, that allows them to perform incredible acts of heroism when needed.
4) What's next for A Vampire' Promise series? Rumor has it there might a novella or two? Do tell!
So I'm working on a novella about how Aleksei and Anasztaizia first meet, and how he rescues her from working the streets of Budapest as a fifteen year-old runaway. There are, of course, unforeseen consequences to his good intentions, but it will all work out in the end. I've also outlined a story detailing how Rowan and Gabriel first met. I know in the other Vampire's Promise novels I've mentioned Gabriel still being an angel the first time he sees Rowan, and her vague recall of having hurt him somehow. I think it's time to give her memory a jolt, and see just how this all came about and why Gabriel chose her to be his Promise.
5) I understand you're writing an epic historical trilogy. Wow, tell us more!
This is a completely different story for me – not a single supernatural aspect anywhere! I've always loved reading historical romances, and always wanted to write one. A sweeping romance, Corsets & Carriages is told over the course of three novels, but they will be titled parts one, two and three so there's no confusion! We have a handsome hero with a tragedy in his past, a traumatized beautiful heroine, and a villainess who will stop at nothing to get what she wants! Parts one and two are scheduled for release in November 2017, with part three coming out a month later in December (yeahhh – doing my happy dance!)
6) Name a scene or two, or maybe a line or two, that had you either laughing or crying?
The scene where Gabriel replaces all of Rowan's underwear with high-end sexy lingerie I found an absolute hoot to write! Believing Rowan will be thrilled by his ‘thoughtfulness,' Gabriel is completely clueless when she doesn't react quite the way he imagined.
As for crying … well this book is actually Aleksei's story, and the circumstances that led to his becoming a vampire are quite harrowing.
7) Favorite cocktail?
I'm always willing to try anything new, so I don't think I have an absolute, all-time favorite, but I must confess I do like a chocolate martini.
8) Any appearances or conferences coming up where fans can find you?
I haven't decided yet what I'm doing in 2017. It's a toss-up between the RWA conference or the RT Booklovers Convention. Maybe, if I get a big enough royalty check, I can do both (almost falls off chair laughing so hard!)
9) Share an excerpt?
Love to …
Copyright @2016 Carla Susan Smith. Used with permission.
The real estate woman was flirting with Gabriel … and really starting to piss me off. Even though I knew women were going to come on to him, it wasn’t always easy to accept. Or watch. I’ve often wondered if they’d be just as enthusiastic if they knew he was a vampire. Honestly? I don’t think it would make the slightest difference. I’ve seen little old ladies throw out the most amazing innuendoes when he’s helped them to a seat, and little girls play peek-a-boo from behind their mother’s skirts because he smiled at them. I have no problem with old ladies and little girls. It’s the ages in between.
I realize that much sex appeal is going to arouse any healthy libido, so I do my best to ignore the suggestive glances, fluttering lashes, and breathy voices. Especially as I know the interest is never going to be reciprocated. I can even turn a blind eye to the occasional oops-I-didn’t-really-mean-to-press-my-boobs-against-you contact, because when that happens – and it has – Gabriel uses the moment to demonstrate that he’s with me. Usually with his tongue in my mouth. But every now and then there’s a woman who views his affection for me as some sort of unspoken challenge. And Claudia Benton – Exclusive Properties was such a woman.
I stood at one of the apartment’s large picture windows, pretending to be mesmerized by the view of nighttime Greenley Heights. The city’s neon splendor sparkled like a Christmas tree, but I was too busy surreptitiously observing my would-be antagonist to give it more than passing notice. Busy pointing out the features of the kitchen’s built-in wine cooler, Claudia Benton was hanging onto Gabriel’s every word. He said something I didn’t quite catch, but it made Ms. Benton laugh, and I watched as she put her hand on his muscular forearm, keeping it there far longer than a real estate agent should. Even if she did want to make her commission.
“Oh please, you must call me Claudia,” she said looking up at him, “I feel like we’re such good friends already.”
She pronounced her name Cloud-ia, which struck me as somewhat pretentious, but she could call herself Ophelia, Queen of the Outhouse, for all I cared. I knew the first-name invitation didn’t include me. Narrowing my eyes, I took her in from head to toe. If I had to guess, I’d put her in her early thirties. Her dark suit was tailored and looked expensive, as did her high heels. The blonde hair may or may not have come from a bottle. Unless I could see roots, I couldn’t tell for sure. And she wore no wedding ring.
Having exhausted the finer points of the wine cooler, Cloud-ia was extolling the virtues of the kitchen’s other appliances when she suddenly stumbled, managing to save herself from kissing the hardwood floor only by grabbing the arm she’d just been caressing. Apparently flustered by her clumsiness, she apologized and thanked Gabriel for his gallantry.
I was fully prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes a stumble is just that, and she did seem embarrassed by her clumsiness. But then she glanced over at me, and the smile on her face told a different story. It was a sly, malicious smile. One that said if she tried a little harder she could make Gabriel look her way, and once she had him looking, who knows what else he might want to do?
It was absolute crap of course. She stood no chance of persuading him to sample what she was offering, but she didn’t know that. Vampires, once they make a commitment, don’t cheat. At least not while the object of their affection is still able to draw breath. And, as one of the most possessive creatures ever created, a vampire’s focus only becomes a problem if those feelings aren’t reciprocated. Gabriel and I had no worries in that regard. The proof of our devotion to each other had sent a tremor through the Dark Realm that blew the lid off the Richter scale.
But even if all of this was known to my wanna-be rival, I suspect it would have simply made her more determined. Some women think they’re irresistible. My inner bitch, who hadn’t had much to harangue me about recently, now tapped my mental shoulder. You gonna let her get away with that? No way.
“Ms. Benton.” I’d stab myself in the eye with a pencil before I called her by her first name, no matter how she pronounced it. “Would you mind showing me the bathroom?” I asked.
“But you’ve already seen it, dear,” she replied in a condescending tone.
“Yes, I know, but if it’s not too much trouble I’d like to see it again. There’s something I need to check out.”
“Oh?” The lift of her brow was as condescending as her smile. “And what might that be?”
“Counter height.” If my smile was any sweeter I’d give myself a cavity, but as I passed Gabriel I made sure my fingers brushed the back of his hand, causing a spark to flash in his neon blue eyes.
There was a pleasing warmth about the bathroom, even if the décor reflected the taste of a strong male presence. Tile that looked like bricks covered the walls and floor in a color palette ranging from beach sand to a dark, coppery red. An old-fashioned claw-foot tub with curved sides took up a good amount of space, but there was enough left over for a spacious, modern shower with a glass door. The toilet was hidden behind a discreet half wall, and a double sink vanity completed the necessary appointments. I stared at the space between the two sinks. It certainly looked like it would be adequate.
“I never thought of the shower as being small … until now,” Ms. Benton murmured, her eyes glazing over as she gave Gabriel’s wide shoulders a lingering look. I could just imagine what was going on inside her head and decided I’d had enough. Standing next to the open bathroom door, I put one hand on my hip and gripped the door knob with the other. “Ms. Benton, would you give us a moment, please?” I really wish I could have seen her expression when she heard the lock engage.
I turned and reached for Gabriel, my fingers slipping inside the waistband of his jeans as I pulled him to me. I saw a glimpse of white as his mouth covered mine. He’d dropped his fangs, and a tremor of anticipated pleasure ran down my spine as my tongue slid between them.
Carla owes her love of literature to her mother, who, after catching her pre-teen daughter reading by flashlight beneath the bed covers, calmly replaced the romance book she had “borrowed” with one that was far less risqué, and much more age-appropriate! Encouraged to include different genres in her reading tastes, romance – paranormal romance in particular – has always been her first love.
Born and raised in England, she now calls South Carolina home where she lives with her wonderfully supportive husband, awesome son, and a canine critique group (if tails aren't wagging then the story isn't working!) When not writing she can usually be found in the kitchen trying out any recipe that calls for rhubarb, working on her latest tapestry project or playing catch-up with her reading list. www.carlasmithauthor.com