Teasing all ya’ll again… I promise this is the last one, though! You can see Adrien’s hands now, and his beloved hunter sword, “Ianus.” Next week, I’ll reveal the entire cover. But for now, just so you don’t shoot me, here’s another excerpt. The excerpts follow in order, so you can backtrack to the first cover tease post and read forward if you’d like.
I’m just about done with book two in the Blood Series, Blood and Ghosts, which will be released in early 2015. It also features Nicolas Lambert, one of the main characters in Blood and Rain, and Adrien Gilbert, the vampire hunter who falls in love with him.
The vampires and hunters in the series share a common heritage, although both like to downplay that connection. 1896 sees the first in a series of moves on the part of a faction of hunters who believe the ancient Council of Hunters should sever its ties to the vampires who helped found the institution. Led by Verel Pelletier, the separatist hunters create havoc in the Council and ultimately take over its governance. Pelletier has a plan: to use vampires’ blood to create stronger hunters and ultimately eradicate vampires completely from the world. In the midst of this turmoil, Nicolas and Adrien fight to preserve the longstanding peace between their races. It’s a fight that continues into the present day.
Each week for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been teasing you with a bit more of the gorgeous cover from Dreamspinner Press cover artist Reese Dante, as well as a long excerpt from the book. Next week, I’ll reveal the entire cover. I’m also running a cover reveal contest that will end at midnight on October 11th, midnight after the day the full cover is revealed. The Rafflecopter giveaway is here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cf0ba9496/ Or you can enter by clicking directly on the Rafflecopter widget below.
Below is another excerpt from the story, the beginning of Chapter Two. This follows the excerpt I shared last week which you can read here. Release day is December 15th!!! Have a great weekend! -Shira
Blood Series: Book 1
Adrien Gilbert has spent several lifetimes searching for the love he lost. Born in the 1800s into a clan of fabled vampire hunters, Adrien once wanted nothing more than to tend his family’s vineyard in southern France or read a good book. But Adrien’s peaceful existence ends abruptly when his older brother, François, is murdered. Bound by his hunter’s oath, Adrien sets out on a path that will forever change his life when he agrees to execute his brother’s killer, the vampire Charles Duvalier.
After months chasing the elusive Charles, Adrien reluctantly makes a bargain with Nicolas Lambert, an ancient vampire. Adrien will escort Nicolas to Paris for his marriage to a rival clanswoman, and Nicolas will help Adrien find Charles. Nicolas’s quiet strength and gentle heart soon convince Adrien that Nicolas is nothing like the vampires he has sworn to destroy. As the wedding date draws nearer, a force intent on destroying the fragile peace between the vampire clans threatens to tear apart both the vampire realm and the world of the hunters. To secure both past and future for those he loves, Adrien must find a way to stop the looming war between hunters and vampires. But first he’ll have to let Nicolas go.
Note: This is the first in a series of three anticipated novels tentatively entitled Blood and Rain, Blood and Ghosts, Blood and Eternity. The series it set in France in 1895 and in the present, and features three MM pairings. Books in this series must be read in order.
Tentative Publication Date: December 2014-January, 2015
Chapter Two: Blood and Rain (continued)
Saint-Gervais, France, 1896
François Gilbert drew his cloak tighter around his body as the rain stung his face. The sound of the wind through the trees was like a plaintive cry, almost alive, as if the storm shared his heartbreak. His horse snorted in protest as he took off at a gallop. Time was short. It had taken him longer than expected to leave the house without being seen.
He hasn’t left yet. The thought did little to tamp down his growing despair. He urged the horse onward, pushing the animal near to its limits. He gritted his teeth against the wave of grief that wrapped its fingers around his heart as he left the vineyard behind. He imagined his sister’s sweet smile and his father’s embrace. Those things he would miss, but more than anything, he regretted the look of pain he’d seen on his brother’s face the last time they’d spoken.
“You intend to go with him, don’t you?” Adrien asked as he’d tended the vines. He didn’t look up to acknowledge François.
“It’s hardly the first time I’ll be away, Addie. You’ll take care of Isabelle while I’m gone, won’t you?”
“Of course I’ll take care of her.” Adrien frowned, still focused on the plant he held between his thumb and forefinger. “But this isn’t the same. You’re not coming back this time, are you?”
“Of course I’ll—”
“The Council won’t forgive this. All that you’ve done… all you’ve accomplished…. Is he worth the sacrifice?”
François offered Adrien what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “He doesn’t believe he is. But my heart says otherwise.”
“And what of the vineyard? Father can barely afford to pay our accounts. If you leave—”
“I’ll work,” François said, feeling the sting of guilt. “I won’t be a kept man. I can do more to help our family if I leave this town.”
“Please don’t leave.” Adrien gazed up at him, eyes brimming with tears.
“You’re strong, Adrien. Stronger than you know.” Even now, Adrien saw him as the stronger brother. How ironic, that Adrien was more powerful. More cunning. Able to see the broader picture. More introspective, but François understood this gave Adrien the advantage when it came to understanding people.
Adrien, I wish you could see yourself as I see you.
Adrien shook his head and turned back to his work.
“Be well, Adrien.”
François first met the man with silver hair and eyes the color of the ocean while running an errand for his father. He’d just returned from a trip to a nearby village, where farmers had discovered several dead animals. The Council had suspected wolves were to blame, but as with all such reports, they’d dispatched a hunter to investigate. With each such foray beyond the confines of the small village where he lived, François yearned to travel farther.
François had been immediately and inexplicably drawn to Charles Duvalier, the brooding nobleman who shunned the trappings of Parisian society and traveled without manservant or carriage through the French countryside. Never fearful of strangers, François had introduced himself to Charles.
“François Gilbert.” Charles’s eyes sparkled with obvious amusement as he repeated the name. “Would the Council approve of your speaking to me?”
François laughed. “I do not need the Council’s permission to speak to anyone. And should you offend my delicate sensibilities, I am more than capable of killing you.”
“You chose to speak to me, knowing what I am?” Charles asked.
“You don’t frighten me.” It wasn’t quite the truth. François was afraid. He just wasn’t sure why.
“I should frighten you.” The humor François had sensed in Charles fled in the wake of something darker. Pain. Guilt. François knew these feelings well, though he’d tried to hide them from his family and especially his brother.
Undeterred, François had approached Charles again the next day, this time as Charles sat on a stone bench under the shade of an ancient oak. The rain, which had fallen steadily for nearly a fortnight, had broken the evening before. It would rain again soon, but for now the early spring breeze was cool and the sun shone brightly through the breaks in the clouds. François didn’t wait for an invitation. Instead, he sat down next to Charles as he read a book of English poetry.
“Alfred Lord Tennyson,” François said when Charles didn’t acknowledge his presence. “And in English, no less.”
“You’ve read him?”
François did his best to hide his pleasure at Charles’s look of surprise. “Yes. Also in the original English.” When Charles raised an eyebrow, François added, “No doubt you think me uneducated because I live in such a small village.”
A smile danced on Charles’s lips. “I’m pleased your father taught you as well as he did.”
“Do you know my father?” His father had never spoken of Charles. Then again, his father rarely spoke of his life before he’d married their mother.
François had hoped for more explanation, but he wouldn’t press Charles. Instead he smiled and asked, “Which poem is your favorite?”
“Ulysses,” Charles replied, clearly waiting for his reaction.
“An interesting choice.” François smiled and recited, “My purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: it may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, and see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
“Is that you, monsieur? Are you Ulysses? Always wandering, always yearning for new horizons?”
“Perhaps.” In that moment François sensed Charles’s loneliness so acutely, it made his chest ache. He cursed his gift of empathy, for it made him long to free Charles from the pain. He gently touched Charles on the shoulder. Did he imagine Charles’s sigh in response?
“I would like to wander with you sometime, monsieur.”