Blood and Rain will be released in just over a week now, on Monday December 15th! You can preorder a copy at Dreamspinner Press, AllromanceEbooks, and Amazon (starting later today, 12/6/14). Preorder the paperback from Dreamspinner Press, and you’ll get 25% off the list price. The first 10 copies or so will include vellum sheets signed by me.
Set in the present day US and in the late 1800s in France, the Blood Series features three MM couples. The main focus is on Adrien Gilbert, the youngest son of a French vampire hunter family, and Nicolas Lambert, an ancient (born a vampire, not created) vampire. Adrien’s mother was killed by a vampire when Adrien was just a small child, and Adrien has grown to hate vampires because of it. The last thing Adrien expects is to fall for Nicolas Lambert. Born a vampire, Nicolas is both powerful and kind.
What Adrien doesn’t realize is that the differences between hunters and vampires are far fewer than he’s been led to believe. Adrien’s travels take him to Paris and beyond. Far beyond, in fact, since hunters can become immortal with the help of the ancient vampires. In the second book in the series, Blood and Ghosts, due out in Spring of 2015, that travel becomes a “when” rather than a “where” when Adrien searches for a missing Nicolas in past and present.
Release day also means the first day of the Blood and Rain Blog Tour and a very special giveaway. Artist Martin Brodour, the gifted man who made the amazing Ea pendant for the release of Into the Wind, has made another unisex pendant to offer up on the giveaway as the grand prize! Based on the Council of Hunters crest, it features a crescent moon cut in half by a vampire hunter’s sword. Second prize is a $10 Dreamspinner Press gift certificate good for any purchase at the DSP store. The giveaway link will be active on December 15th here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Blood series is a romance/adventure about vampires and vampire hunters with some pretty unusual abilities. It chronicles three MM couples and a looming war between the hunters and the hunted. An excerpt and official blurb are below. Stay tuned for more blog tour information with a list of stops where you can get entries and have a chance to win Martin’s pendant. Also, please join me on the Dreamspinner Press Facebook page on Sunday, December 14th, from 2-5 p.m. E.D.T. for an author chat. I’ll have excerpts and flash contests you can join in on. Enjoy! -Shira
Blood Series: Book 1
Blood: Book One
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: Books in this series must be read in order.
Coming December 15, 2014
Chapter One: On the Edge of Forever
Sunset wove fingers of purple and red through bands of clouds and vapor trails that crisscrossed the sky. The scent of exhaust from trucks and cars mingled with the tang of salt from the ocean. People scurried about as they returned from work, trying to finish last-minute errands before dinnertime, all oblivious to the lone figure perched atop the high-rise at the edge of the Miami River.
Adrien Gilbert gazed down at the tiny figures below, vaguely aware of their presence. For more than a century, he had seen generations of humans be born, reach adulthood, start families, grow old, and die as their loved ones watched, helpless to slow time. He had grown numb to the cycle of life—a cycle to which he was immune. He was an immortal, a hunter who had shared the soul of an ancient vampire. His beloved soul.
He closed his eyes, trying to picture that perfect face. It had grown strangely difficult to remember over the years, and yet he could still easily remember the face of his mother, who had been killed when he was just a child.
I won’t forget you… Nicolas.
It would have been far easier to give in, to erase Nicolas from his memory forever. Certainly far less painful than knowing Nicolas was out there somewhere, unable to find the way back to him. Less painful, too, than admitting he couldn’t find his way to Nicolas. He would suffer the pain of knowledge; it was a small price to pay to preserve the memory.
The irony that a hunter sworn to protect humankind would suffer the loss of a vampire so keenly was hardly lost on Adrien. He’d believed that in spite of the treaty between hunters and the hunted, vampires were not to be trusted. He’d believed his duty as a hunter was simple, straightforward: kill those who threatened humanity, tolerate those who did not. But that had been before he’d met Nicolas. Before he’d lost his heart. Before Nicolas had given him immortality.
Adrien had everything a human might wish for. The small transportation business he’d started when he moved to the United States over a hundred years ago had blossomed into an international empire with cargo ships, airplanes, trucks, and dozens of storage facilities around the globe. He owned homes in Europe, Thailand, Japan, the US, and a dozen other places he rarely visited. Despite his prosperity, the men with whom he shared his bed—human, vampire, hunter—rarely stayed long. He had seen to that, with his aloof manner and his cold heart. One man had ever touched his soul.
The evening had started, as it always did, on a far better note. Adrien had stopped by one of his favorite haunts, an upscale martini bar not far from the city center. He’d developed a penchant for gin over the past few decades, enjoying the quick work it made of his long-term memory. Three or four martinis and he could forget, even if only briefly.
The bar was small and full of people. A Sinatra song played in the background as he walked over to the stainless-steel bar, filled with men, some of whom he’d already discarded, others new faces. Eager, all of them. He sensed their eyes on him and felt the hunger they didn’t understand. He understood that hunger. The scent of his blood created it in them. The same irresistible scent that had lured many a human to fall prey to the vampires now drew them to him.
He sat down at an empty barstool and nodded to the bartender, who set to work making the driest martini possible with his most expensive gin, dropping in a tiny bit of lemon peel instead of an olive. He handed Adrien the drink without saying a word, and Adrien brought the glass to his lips.
“Nice,” a male voice said from behind him.
The man was beautiful, tall, with shoulder-length black hair and deep green eyes. He wore pair of tight-fitting jeans and a crisp button-down shirt that emphasized his muscled chest and narrow waist. Late twenties, perhaps. A new face, but a familiar presence.
“It’s not bad.” Adrien took a sip of his drink and pretended not to care. It was easy.
“I wasn’t talking about the drink.” The man lifted his drink to his full lips but watched him intently.
“I wasn’t either,” Adrien replied without missing a beat.
“So you are.”
They left the bar together for his apartment, where his housekeeper had already set a table for two. A bottle of Puligny-Montrachet chilled in a cooler by the table. Between them, they finished that bottle, although Adrien drank very little. Alcohol affected immortals far more than humans or vampires.
After dinner Cole stood and walked over to the railing, looking out over the river below. “You know what I am.” Cole’s voice was as smooth as the wine.
“Yes. I know what you are.” Adrien had sensed Cole was a vampire the moment he’d seen him. No self-respecting hunter would have missed the subtle electricity in the air or the scent of mingled blood. He lifted Cole’s hair off his neck, then trailed his lips over his silky skin. Cole smelled good—an earthy and primal scent that caused the bloodlust to rise in Adrien. Once, he had embraced his lust for blood.
When he’d first become an immortal, Nicolas’s blood had done far more than sustain him. They had shared their bodies, their blood, and their souls. The blood had been their bond, the bloodlust a welcome reminder of Adrien’s love for Nicolas. Now the lust for blood had nothing to do with Adrien’s heart. It was another bitter reminder that his body would not let him perish, even though he cared nothing for living.
It’s been too long.
Cole moaned. The deep, throaty sound made Adrien’s mouth water in spite of himself. Adrien despised his body’s response, but he’d long ago learned he couldn’t fight it. Once, he had gone nearly twenty years without giving in to the call. He’d been weak, pathetic, barely able to think. He’d prayed he would die. He’d lost consciousness, but he’d awoken to find himself drinking his fill. He’d come perilously close to killing the human whose blood he’d feasted on, but he’d managed to stop. However miserable his existence, Adrien would only feed on vampires—he’d not break the oath he’d taken to protect humans when he’d become a hunter.
Adrien licked the skin of Cole’s neck, feeling the blood pulse there, hearing it call to him. Cole tilted his head in anticipation, opening himself to Adrien.
Adrien buried his teeth in Cole’s skin. Blood flooded his mouth and danced on his tongue, sweet and salty. Too long. His body was far more vampire-like in its craving for blood than when he’d first been given the gift of an ancient vampire’s soul. He wondered if it was the same for other immortals.
Adrien tried to ignore the images that flashed through his mind—the sound of silvery laughter, a mother’s loving caress. Cole’s memories. Adrien despised this forced intimacy, but he’d come to see it as the price of blood. Something to be tolerated.
It hadn’t always been that way. When he’d shared Nicolas’s blood, Adrien had experienced great joy. He’d seen himself through Nicolas’s eyes and felt the depth of Nicolas’s love. Each drop of that precious liquid had opened new doors. Each taste offered insight into Nicolas’s heart and soul. A beloved memory. A mystery—the mystery of Nicolas—unfolding with every swallow.
Adrien drank his fill, then claimed Cole’s mouth. This kind of contact he could stomach. He didn’t need sex to survive, but he enjoyed the release. Cole unbuttoned Adrien’s black silk shirt and his cock swelled against Adrien’s thigh. Adrien moaned as Cole skated his fingertips over his chest.
“I have never known a hunter to crave blood,” Cole whispered in his ear. “I thought only we experienced the bloodlust.”
“You were wrong,” Adrien said as he pulled Cole’s shirt over his head and mouthed a pretty pink nipple. Sex was always better after he fed, and Adrien’s cock was already hard at the thought of fucking such a lovely ass. He drew Cole’s body against his, walked backward into the living room, and pulled Cole with him onto the rug. Soon they were naked and he was no longer a hunter or an immortal, he was simply a man, seeking release, seeking pleasure.
Adrien lay there afterward, only partially satisfied. Nothing new. Sex was like the bloodlust—it always left him wanting more. Cole brushed his fingers over Adrien’s chest, then his neck. He licked Adrien’s earlobe, then ran his tongue over Adrien’s Adam’s apple.
“May I?” he asked.
“No.” He would willingly share his blood with only one person.
“Too bad.” The vampire was clearly disappointed. “I would have liked to have known the secrets of your blood.”
Adrien watched Cole dress but said nothing.
“Perhaps another time, then.” Cole turned and smiled at him before he walked out the door.
For at least an hour after, Adrien lay on the floor and allowed the night air to caress his bare skin. He closed his eyes and dozed.
The voice awakened him. Nicolas’s voice again. Why sleep if it only served to reawaken the pain he sought to suppress?
He stood and pulled on his jeans. He walked onto the balcony in his bare feet, then climbed to the roof of the penthouse.
Having reached the edge, he spread his arms. He leaned forward and fell unimpeded, riding the wind like a sigh. The glass of the building sailed by him, the breeze buffeting his face. He hit the water and sank into the cold blackness. He wished he could die.
Preorder Blood and Rain now at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5805&cPath=1303