Wednesday, 28 November 2012

New Christmas Design!

Hello everyone!
Now, as you can see V's Book Life has been given a lovely new design for winter! I had entered a Giveaway at Parajunkee Design because I absolutely love Rachel's work and lo and behold I won!! The winter template is so cool, and very me because winter is my favourite season...bring on the dark evenings and snow! I absolutely adore this new look and can't wait to hear what you guys think too!

I'd 100% recommend working with Rachel from Parajunkee, she was a huge help when I ran into problems (because I am completely computer illiterate) and she is such a nice person too :)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Interview with Suzanne Johnson + Giveaway


Hi everyone, hope you are all well this fine Tuesday morning! Today I've been a part of a tour for the amazing Suzanne Johnson and her new book RIVER ROAD! This post is something I've been looking forward to for a while now because I GOT TO INTERVIEW SUZANNE JOHNSON!! *does happy dance* Also at the end of this post is an awesome giveaway so make sure to check that out too! Alright, lets get started!

Vikki: First of all, thank you for being with us at V’s Book Life today! I am so excited because I absolutely loved ROYAL STREET, it has to be one of my top 10 favourite reads so far this year! I could not wait to read RIVER ROAD...to say this series has me gripped would be an understatement; I’m completely drawn in!
Suzanne: Thank you! That’s awesome to hear!

Vikki: First of all, I like to know a bit more about each author, so can you tell me 3 things about yourself that we couldn’t find on the internet?
Suzanne: Hmm…I like to use family names in my books: DJ is a mashup of my great-grandmothers Drusilla Jane Harris and Ida Jaco (they’d probably spin in their graves if they knew!). I was president of the “underground French club” in high school; my small school discontinued courses in French, so the club decided to stay together and meet in secret. And I grew up in a very small town in rural Alabama—my high school graduating class of 78 people was the largest in school history (the class behind us had 39 people)!

Vikki: As I said earlier I absolutely love the Sentinels of New Orleans series but how would you describe the series to those who have yet to read it?
Suzanne: It’s about what might happen if Hurricane Katrina had not only torn down the levees between Lake Pontchartrain and the city of New Orleans but had also torn down the barriers between our world and the world Beyond. So it’s heartbreaking from the Katrina angle, but once we get away from the devastation of the storm it’s also funny and chaotic and I like to think it takes some paranormal mythologies and turns them on their heads—especially in River Road. It’s about a young female wizard who’s not exactly the most kickass heroine on the block, but she’s smart and resourceful and creative…which makes her fun. (Or at least I hope so.)

Vikki: DJ is definitely fun :)! Your newest release is RIVER ROAD, which will be book 2 in the Sentinels of New Orleans series...could you tell us a bit more about it?
Suzanne: In River Road we’ve moved out of post-Katrina survival mode and the borders between worlds are dropping permanently. The wizards will still be monitoring the borders, so DJ and her partner Alex have their hands full. There are two feuding clans of merpeople living near New Orleans, and in the process of trying to broker a truce, DJ and Alex find a dead wizard and discover that someone—or something—is poisoning the water of the Mississippi River. And then the chaos ensues!

Vikki: Were there any surprises for you while writing RIVER ROAD, unforeseen challenges or did the book take a turn you didn’t quite expect?
Suzanne: There are always characters that take me by surprise. In Royal Street, it was the undead pirate Jean Lafitte, who was supposed to be in the book for one scene but then refused to leave. He’s become a major series character now. In River Road, I was most surprised by the merman Rene Delachaise. I’d planned for Rene and DJ to be enemies, or at least “frenemies,” but they ended up clicking. Not in a romantic way, but as friends. It changed the way the book developed, and he’ll factor into future books.

Vikki: One of the aspects of ROYAL STREET I loved is that everything from the historical undead pirate Jean Lafitte and the divisions of congress wizard to the description of New Orleans after Katrina is so detailed. Where does your inspiration for the Sentinels of New Orleans series come from?
Suzanne: Well, the Katrina stuff came from my own experiences as a Katrina survivor myself. I was living at the city at the time of the storm. It was an awful, awful experience, but I was able to use my own memories and observations to lend an accuracy and, I hope, a sensitivity to what my character DJ sees and experiences when she goes back to the city after the flooding. My Katrina experiences are what inspired the whole series.
As for the rest of the world-building, I’m a little OCD, so I worked out the way the magical world would function and the political structure from the very beginning. As for the rest, I do a lot of research. I’ve read every biography on Jean Lafitte I could get my hands on. I study maps. I read histories.

Vikki: So what can we expect from you next? More Sentinels of New Orleans or are you working on something else?
Suzanne: I am in revisions on the third Sentinels book, which is called Elysian Fields. It will be out in August. Before then, however, I will be doing some shorts, including at least one from the viewpoint of Jean Lafitte—which is totally fun. I also have a digital short that came out recently, “Christmas in Dogtown,” that’s a holiday story set in Louisiana but not tied to the Sentinels series.

Vikki: One of the things that first drew me to the series was the cover for ROYAL STREET, I thought it was beautiful and caught my eye straight away and RIVER ROAD’S is the same. Who did the artwork and is it how you imagined the cover to be?
I love the covers too! The artist for both is Cliff Nielsen, and I think he nailed the covers. I especially love River Road. He always hides little details in his covers that are like “easter eggs.” On the Royal Street cover, if you look closely, it looks as if the cover is a photo that was water-damaged, like in the flooding, and the French Quarter street is ghosted behind the main image. In River Road, there are a couple of surprises. If you look closely, in the lower right corner there is an alligator lurking in the water (his head is kind of behind the letter D), and the cover is “spattered” with mud. When you read the book, the reason for that will become clear!

Vikki: *Runs off to closely examine my covers*...Woah, that's so cool. I love hidden aspects! So, do you have a writing ritual? Somewhere you have to be to write or something you have to do etc?
Suzanne: No, I have a full-time day job in addition to my writing, plus a daily book blog, so I’ve learned to write anywhere and anytime I can grab a few minutes. Ideally, I’m in my home office with my laptop, but I’ve written outlines for scenes on the back of an envelope while shopping for groceries. I don’t recommend that, however.

Vikki: What do you love about living in New Orleans? I’m planning a visit sometime in the next 2 years and would love to know what to expect since I haven’t been anywhere like it.
Suzanne: I adore New Orleans, and I’ve learned over the years that it’s one of those cities people aren’t ambivalent about. They either love it passionately or hate it passionately. It’s chaotic and messy and inefficient, but it has a beauty and culture and passion for life that’s like nowhere else. The people, the music, architecture, food, ambience: all of it’s amazing. I always urge people to get outside the French Quarter and see what the real city is like, from the Central Business District, or CBD, to Uptown, to the Irish Channel, to the Garden District. I could talk about it all day!

Vikki: It sounds amazing! Next question...what’s your average day like?
Suzanne: On weekdays, I have a day job from 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Over my lunch hour, I’ll usually read over what I’ve written the night before. I unwind until about 7:30 p.m., then I go and write until about 11. I put in more writing hours on weekends, especially on Sunday, when I’m usually at my computer for 10-12 hours. If I’m not on deadline, I’ll usually take Saturdays off or only work an hour or two. Man, how boring does that sound?

Vikki: If you could spend a day with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Suzanne: I’d like to spend the day with my great-great grandfather. I became fascinated with him while doing genealogy a few years back. He was a farmer in northwest Alabama at the time of the Civil War. He was too old to enlist himself, but he outfitted his three oldest sons, ages 19, 21, and 23, with horses and supplies, and sent them to fight for the Union. Yes, Southern boys, fighting for the Union—all three of them were killed. He was such a Unionist that he had to spend the last couple of years of the war hiding out in the hills because his neighbors in the Confederate Home Guard were trying to hang him. He was a stubborn old dude, and I’d like to talk to him. See what drove him, kept him going, gave him the courage to stand up for what he believed in.

Vikki: What is your favourite book/film/television programme right now?
Um…(shuffles feet)…I like these culture-immersion reality shows that are popular in the States right now. “Swamp People,” about alligator-hunters in Louisiana. “Ice Road Truckers” about long-haul truckers in Alaska and northern Canada who drive over frozen lakes and rivers. “Billy the Exterminator.” Don’t even ask about that one.

Vikki: And finally, what book are you reading right now?
I’m reading a paranormal romance, Cynthia Eden’s Angel in Chains, for which I’m doing a review.

Vikki: Thank you so much for stopping by, I’m a huge fan of the series and will be looking forward to reading more work from you!
Suzanne: Thank you!

You can get your hands on your very own copy of RIVER ROAD, book 2 in the amazing SENTINELS OF NEW ORLEANS series right now!! And now...it's time for the GIVEAWAY *cheers*!!

GIVEAWAY!

That's right folks, as part of the Bewitching Books Tour there is a huge TOUR WIDE Giveaway in action right now, and you can win some amazing prizes! All you have to do is fill out the form below and read the terms and conditions to be in with a chance of winning! GOOD LUCK!


V's Book Life is not the host of this giveaway and is not in any way responsible for the allocation or distribution of prizes!


Review: River Road by Suzanne Johnson


Hello! Hope you are all fantastically well...I've been up since 4.30am in order to get to work so naturally my day could have started better ;) but anyway...today I'm part of a tour for Suzanne Johnson's newest release RIVER ROAD! Now, I don't know how many of you have read book 1 in the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street) but I did and I really enjoyed it...so when I was offered the opportunity to review book 2, I jumped at the chance! Later today there will also be an Interview + Giveaway with the marvellous lady herself, Suzanne Johnson, plus your chance to win some amazing goodies! Well then, what are we waiting for? Lets crack on!

Title: River Road
Author: Suzanne Johnson
Publisher: Headline (UK) | Tor Books (US)
Release Date: 22nd November 2012 (UK)* | 13th November 2012 (US)
Series: Sentinels of New Orleans Series, book 2
Source: I received an ARC of this book via Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
*kindle edition

Blurb:
Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.
Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.
It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Review:
First line: 'The minute hand of the ornate grandfather clock crept like a gator stuck in swamp mud. I’d been watching it for half an hour, nursing a fizzy cocktail from my perch inside the Hotel Monteleone.'
First of all, I have to have a little cover love right here! As much as I loved ROYAL STREET'S cover I think I may like this one more, if it's possible. I'm liking the fact that Charlie is featured (a.k.a. DJ's mysterious glowing elven staff) because that is the aspect of the series that intrigues me the most, what is Charlie, where did he come from...and why can DJ wield him? I'm glad to say that some of these questions are looking a little closer to being completely answered...but I won't spoil it so moving on...As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed the first book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, and I enjoyed RIVER ROAD even more! The few niggles I had with book 1 are straightened out and I got to watch the characters I loved so much grow even more...they're worming their way into my heart ;)

This chapter of the Sentinels of New Orleans series takes place 3 years after the events of ROYAL STREET, and thereby 3 years after Katrina. Drusilla Jaco (DJ) is the Sentinel Wizard for New Orleans, meaning her and her partner Alex keep the supernatural world in line and settle any disputes...disputes such as the war looming between two rival clans of Merpeople inhabiting the rivers of New Orleans. Someone has poisoned the river, causing members of both clans to become ill. Naturally, they blame each other. On the one side we have Rene Delachaise, the smooth talking, incredibly handsome leader of the Delachaise clan...and on the other Denis Villere, the grumpy old, shotgun toting leader of the Villere clan. This dispute allows the reader to really see how much DJ has obviously grown into her role as sentinel over the last three years though you can see that the events of Royal Street still way heavily on her. The death and betrayal of Gerry, her mentor and biological father still hits her hard. DJ is just waiting for everyone around her to leave, as they have done before..no-one has stayed around her for long. The longest was Gerry...and that didn't exactly end well. No, DJ still can give herself 100% to someone else because of that deep seated fear of abandonment. That being said, she's smart, funny and ready to kick butt if necessary ..but if that can be avoided by say, buying hundreds of dollars worth of seafood then that's what she'll do ;)

A dark braid flew above the fray before a hand grabbed it and used it for leverage to throw a punch. Denis Villere had indeed appeared from somewhere, and he and one of the twins— Rene, I thought— were beating the crap out of each other. Libby played the role of wanton cheerleader. Jean struggled to separate them, and ended up with a fist to his nose. Instead of stopping the fight, he shouted French epithets
I couldn't understand, and decked Denis with a powerful round house punch. Great. The three men separated briefly before Denis took another lunge at Jean, Rene tried to get between  them, and all three toppled over the side of the boat with a leviathan splash.
I briefly considered letting them kill each other. It would solve all kinds of problems— Rene and Denis would be out of my hair, and Jean would go back to the Beyond to lick his wounds a couple of weeks before coming back good as new. But then the war would just mutate to Robert and T-Jacques.

Not only do DJ and Alex have to deal with murderous Merpeople but wizards are dying along the banks of the river, Green Congress wizards, and it's up to the duo to tackle that as well. There is an almost perfect balance of magic and investigative work that compliment each other beautifully, Alex being the investigator and DJ being...well...the magic, even if it sometimes a tad destructive. We hear more from the Elders since they are not ready to let DJ handle sentinel without some supervision, especially with the newly relaxed border regulations between the Beyond and New Orleans. Plus Jean Laffite is still being a pain in DJ's backside...though admittedly a seriously sexy, French speaking, completely lickable pain ;)

Now, I can't quite work out if this next part is something I like, or if it just frustrates me. I STILL AM NOT 100% SURE WHO DJ IS DATING...IF ANYONE! It's like a love quadrangle...with more people possibly being added to it as I kept reading. The three main contenders as far as I can tell are:
1) Alex - DJ's partner and friend. The shapeshifter who helped her through what must have been the toughest year of her life...the time Gerry was missing and subsequently all the revelations and consequences. I don't know what Alex feels exactly, I think he feels something for DJ but isn't sure what to do about it. Though he does seem to become very jealous whenever DJ spends time with Jean Laffite, or Jake...or Rene...come to think of it, any male presence makes him jealous, that's got to mean something...right?
2) Jean Laffite - Now, I think Jean and Alex are the two main contenders for DJ's heart. Where Alex walks the straight and narrow, Jean...is well...Jean. He's a pirate. A 200 year old French speaking pirate, who doesn't know anything about modern technology and can't drive for shit...oh, and also has views on a woman's place that have no business being in the 21st centuary. That being said, daymn that man is hot! What I wouldn't give to have a gorgeous man whispering French in my ear...come on DJ!
3) Jake - Alex's cousin, the ex-marine and now Loup-Garou. After being bitten at the end of Royal Street, Jake's introduction to the preternatural was anything but smooth. As a werewolf, he blamed DJ for the events that lead to his turning...or at least, lying to him about what was really out there. Jake hadn't spoken to DJ since that night but he's back. I didn't know quite what to make of his return but he could still be one to watch in the race to woo the lovely DJ.

I'm not the biggest fan of love triangles, but I have to admit, this one is done pretty well...you don't get that cheesy feeling you do with some and you know what, I actually do like not knowing who DJ will end up with...keeps me guessing, and if we have to put up with hot men stripping off while we figure things out then I guess we'll just have to suffer ;)

Oh and one last thing to leave you with...this made me giggle so I thought I'd share :)

Alex stopped, sweeping his eyes from my face to where my feet balanced on the coffee table in their fuzzy blue socks. “What the hell are you wearing?”
I looked down at my black sleepshirt featuring the movie cast on the front and the pants emblazoned with Gryffindor logos. “Well, crap. Now the matching Harry Potter PJs I bought you for Christmas won’t be a surprise.”
Chuckling, he flopped on the sofa next to me. “I thought you hated Harry Potter.”
“I don’t hate Harry Potter. I am jealous of Harry Potter,” I said. “He can do too many cool things I can’t.”
I enjoyed RIVER ROAD, Suzanne Johnson has made it so that you become so invested in her world and characters that you want to jump straight into the book and save them all from harm! The series still has some aspects yet to be explored and I look forward to book 3 where hopefully all shall be revealed!

My Rating: 4/5  


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Look Out For... A Trace of Moonlight by Allison Pang + Giveaway


Hi guys, now today I'm part of the tour for A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT by Allison Pang, and boy does it sound great. I was about halfway through book one in the Abby Sinclair series when the opportunity to take part in this tour was offered, so naturally I jumped at the chance! I'll have some more information for you on the book, a brilliant excerpt as well as a tour wide giveaway for a chance to win your very own copy :) Lets get started!!


Title: A Trace of Moonlight
Author: Allison Pang
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: 30th October 2012
Series: Abby Sinclair Series, Book 3

Blurb:
Drinking from the waters of lethe and offering herself up as Faerie’s sacrificial Tithe …these just might be the least of Abby Sinclair’s problems.
Abby’s pact with a demon—whether or not she remembers making it—is binding, so she’d better count herself lucky that (in the words of a daemon who knows better) there’s nearly always a loophole. But her friends’ reckless attempts to free her, well intentioned though they may be, set off a disastrous chain of events. In no time at all, Abby turns her incubus lover mortal and gets herself killed, cursed, and married to an elven prince whose mother wants her dead. She might have even been able to recover from all that had she not lost the Key to the CrossRoads to her mortal enemy, who promptly uses his restored power to wreak havoc on the OtherWorld and put its very existence in jeopardy.
Only one person can make things right again, but to find her, Abby must place her trust in allies of mixed loyalties, and conquer her nightmares once and for all.

It sounds amazing doesn't it!! I can't wait to jump back into Abby's world :) Even reading the excerpt got me salivating for my copy to be delivered! Speaking of which...here is the excerpt Pocket Books have so kindly provided for the tour! WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR BOOKS 1&2 IN THE SERIES IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THEM YET!

Excerpt. WARNING: This excerpt is steamy on the romance level and may contain spoilers for previous books in the series!
The fog eddied from the darkness to cocoon me in a soft haze. Something niggled at the back of my mind as I glanced down at my bare feet. They were swallowed below my calves by the mist, but the crunch of sand under my toes felt familiar. The hiss of waves slapped against the edge of a nearby shore.

The rolling scent of brine slipped past on a tattered breeze. Drawn toward the sound of water, I pressed forward, an uneasy chill sending clammy fingers skittering over my skin.

Wrapping my arms around my shoulders, I realized I was naked.

And yet a moment later, a silk dress draped over my limbs, falling to midcalf. It should have felt strange, to know the merest of thoughts took shape here . . . but it didn’t. My feet brushed the edges of the wet sand and I paused. I could see nothing beyond the darkness, but the warmth of the water lured me, beckoning with a soft whisper.

Flickers of memory flared up and slid away, the barest hint of scales and a cradle of blue luminescence taking form, but I shook my head and the thought swirled out of reach. Ridiculous idea, anyway. I’d never even seen a mermaid.

Another step and the foam crested past my ankles.

I hesitated.

Abby. A name, whispered upon the breeze. The waves rushed forward, the sudden undertow sucking me into the sand as though it might drag me into its depths. I stumbled, only to be pulled back by a hand upon my wrist.

I glanced over my shoulder, frowning as I made out the features of a man. Ebony hair whipped about his pale face; he gazed down at me, eyes haunted and aching and terrible. I didn’t recognize him, and yet his presence radiated like a beacon of comfort in the darkness.

Immediately the waves receded, leaving us in guarded silence. He stared at me a moment longer. When I said nothing, something like grief creased the corners of his mouth.

“If you enter the sea you will be devoured,” he said finally.

“Devoured?” I could only watch as the fog lifted at the slight motion of his hand. I saw fins cutting through the surf; the moonlight shattered the darkness to reveal the sharks, shining like living blades in the murk.

I swallowed hard at my own folly. “Thank you,” I murmured, my fingers finding his in the shadows to squeeze them. Abruptly he pulled away, his breath hissing as though I’d burned him.

“Who are you? Do you know where we are?”

“You’re dreaming, Abby.” His lips pursed mockingly. “And I am but a shadow.” At my puzzled look, he sighed. “It will be safer for you away from here. Follow me.”

Before us lay tall cliffs and a worn path of sand and sea grass, a series of rocky switchbacks leading to somewhere.

“Do you have a name?” The words slipped out before I meant them to, but I dutifully trailed in his wake, bunching the dress at my hips to climb up the bluff.

“If you do not know it, I cannot tell you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know,” he muttered, a hint of irritation in his voice. “Believe me when I tell you this is not the way things were supposed to have been, but we have no other choice.” He glanced over his shoulder at me.

“And we have very little time left.” As though to emphasize the point, he reached to take my hand, helping me over a piece of driftwood. Now his fingers entwined with mine. A wash of heat swept through me.

“I don’t ever remember having such a lucid dream before,” I said.

His grip tightened, but he said nothing in return, leading us up the cliff and down a winding path until we came to an iron gate. It was overgrown by high weeds, shut tightly with a lock.

My inner voice was strangely silent. If it knew something, it clearly wasn’t planning on saying anything. I frowned at the gate, reaching out to stroke the rusted flakes with a curious finger. The metal chilled my hands to the bone and I got a sense of unhappiness
from it.

Which was ridiculous. This was a dream, wasn’t it? Inanimate objects didn’t have feelings.

“Knock it off,” I told it, blinking when the gate snapped open, letting out a long-suffering creak.

“One problem solved.” The man’s eyes slid sideways toward me as I gazed up at the dilapidated house.

A once-stately Victorian construct, the place had seen better days. The shutters hung haphazardly and the paint peeled from the siding like strips of tattered paper. The rotting steps made a dubious whimper as we mounted them and headed for the outer porch.

“What a dump,” I said.

The stranger flinched, releasing my arm, and an unexplainable sorrow lanced through me.

“I just meant as far as dreams go,” I amended hastily, somehow wanting his approval despite myself. “I mean, I live in a friggin’ tree palace right now . . . you’d think I’d be dreaming with slightly higher standards.”

“You’d think,” he retorted. Abruptly he turned toward me. “Who are you?”

“You already know my name. You said it back there. Which reminds me, how do you know who I am?” It seemed like a fair enough question for a dream.

“Name tag.” He pointed to my chest. Sure enough, I glanced down to see it—a simple little plastic rectangle, the letters spelling out ABBY SINCLAIR in lopsided relief.

I frowned. “That wasn’t there before.”

He gestured about us. “Dreaming, remember? Shall we go inside?”

I shrugged, intrigued. “I guess.” I doubted there would be anything of interest in this rundown piece of crap, but I couldn’t remember another dream taking hold of my mind so vividly. Might as well let it play out.

The door opened beneath my touch and I crossed the threshold with a slight twitch of nervousness. For all my brave thoughts, it was still a creepy old house, not counting the stranger, who shadowed my steps with an aura of expectancy.

Inside was nothing special—hardwood floors and dusty shelves, lights flickering as though they might go out at any moment. “I wonder if there’s a fuse box somewhere.”

“I doubt it.” He glanced at me with a ripple of amusement and I flushed.

“Yeah, yeah,” I muttered. Ignoring him, I continued walking until I stood in what looked  like a family room. The fireplace was choked with old ashes, the dying embers banked into dull sparks. A record player perched on a narrow table in the corner, a stack of records before it. Something about them seemed so familiar, but I dismissed the albums when I read the titles. Who the hell still listened to Tom Jones anyway?

Snorting, I circled the rest of the room, noting the tattered quilt on the faded sofa and the bowl of strawberry potpourri. The man leaned in the doorway, his arms crossed as he watched me.

“This is all very lovely,” I said finally. “But there’s nothing here for me. It’s so . . . empty.”

He didn’t speak, but his gaze strayed toward the mantel of the fireplace. “Who are you?”

“I thought we already established that.”

“I told you what your name was,” he countered. “I never heard it from you.”

“Abby . . . Abby Sinclair.” I tugged on the name tag. “For all that this is apparently some sort of Alice in Wonderland moment.” A smile drifted over my face. “I’m a princess, you know.”

His voice darkened. “A princess? Surely that seems like a lofty achievement.”

He brushed past me to the mantel, taking something from the top and tossing it to me. I caught it without a second thought, staring down at the bundled pair of pointe shoes bemusedly.

“Ballet slippers?” My brow furrowed. “What am I supposed to do with these? I’ve never danced a day in my life. Hell, even my betrothed admits I have two left feet.”

He halted as though I’d slapped him. “Betrothed is it?”

“Of course. To be handfasted, anyway.” I stroked the satin of the slippers. They were no mere decoration. The well-worn toes were proof enough of that. “I’m not really a princess, though. Not yet. But I will be. A Faery princess, in fact.”

“Oh, a fine thing, I’m sure,” he said sarcastically. “It seems your fiancĂ© neglected to mention that particular detail when he asked me to come here. Typical elf.” He fixed me with a thin-lipped smile. “I suppose you truly have forgotten, though the Dreamer in you
has not.”

“Forgotten what? You talk in riddles.”

“It doesn’t matter.” He sighed. “I had hoped things might be different here. This complicates things immensely, but I will make the best of it.”

I threw the slippers onto the couch. “You can try, you mean. I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but I think it’s time I left or woke up or whatever.” I glanced up at the ceiling as though I might will it to happen.

“Stop,” he whispered, taking my hand. “Don’t leave yet.”

Slowly, I turned toward him, a flare of heat sliding up my arm like a welcome friend. I knew this touch. This feeling. His finger brushed my cheek, tipping my chin toward him. A dull thrum beat in my ears, the blood pulsing hot with sudden desire. A hint of gold encircled his pupils, flaring into a brilliant nimbus.

“I . . . know you,” I said hoarsely, my knees going weak.

“Yes.” And then his mouth was upon mine, and I knew I wanted him. Dream or not, stranger or not, the wanting of him burned the edges of my skin, flooding my limbs like liquid fire.

“What is this?” I gasped, letting him wrap his arms around me, his hand snaking down my hips to cup my ass.

“A gift. The last I can give you.” He kissed me again and my eyes shut against the intensity, even as his tongue swept deep. He captured my soft groan. “Look at me, Abby.”

I blinked in surprise. We were no longer in a house at all . . . but a ballroom? I gaped as a cluster of masked dancers twirled by us in a rush of spirited laughter and hazy silks. Beneath my feet gleamed a black-and-white marble floor, tiled in a dizzying pattern. Soft light shone above us from a great crystal chandelier.

“I don’t understand.”

“I owe you a wooing of sorts, I suspect. Consider it a parting memory.” He flicked his fingers, and the soft strains of a violin echoed from the far corner of the hall before I could ask him what he meant. I caught a dim glimpse of a cloaked player, but my would-be
suitor had other plans than allowing me to discover who it was, for he turned me neatly, his hand upon my waist.

A moment later and I was dressed the same as the other dancers, but in pastel blues and silver threads.

“A corset?”

He shrugged. “You might as well get used to it, Princess. Besides, I’ll enjoy trying to get you out of it.”

“Easy for you to say,” I grumbled. “You’re wearing pants.” Which he was. Tight, low-slung leathers and a scarlet lawn shirt. “You look like some sort of ridiculous vampire.”

A genuine laugh rolled from his chest. “Can’t have that, can we?” He dipped me low and I realized he was now dressed in shimmering blue to match my dress. “Better?”

“Still clichĂ©, but I’ll manage.”

“That’s my girl.” He pulled me close again as the music took on a sultry tone, something slower and seductive. “There’s only time for one dance, I’m afraid.”

“Well, then, I guess we’d better make the most of it.” His lips curled into something predatory, but he clung to me harder in a desperate motion that didn’t quite touch his eyes. Unaware of anything but the delicious way he swiveled his waist, I let my feet go where they would. Strangely, the steps flowed into each other as though I’d been doing them forever, graceful and unhesitating.

Odd things, dreams.

And my partner was no slouch either.

Our skillful movements soon turned the dance into something else entirely. Fingers stroked over my neck, my shoulders, tracing down my spine. His hips ground into my mine, his mouth upon my jaw. And all of it was subtle enough to seem as though it were part of the dance itself.

We’d done this before.

Halfway through the piece, I realized my stays were coming undone. Struggling to keep the corset from sliding off my chest, I paused, catching a smirk upon his face.

“Charming.” I snorted, wondering if he’d been undoing them by hand or by other means. Not that it mattered, really. Dreams were dreams and I was enjoying the hell out of this one. Immediately I stopped squirming and lowered my hands, leaving the corset to slip off as it would.

Spinning away from him, I swayed my hips enticingly. The other dancers faded away, and even the music became nothing more than a distant echo. My bare feet touched the softest of carpets, the lights retreating to only a dim glow.

The dream had changed again.

I glanced demurely over my shoulder at him, one brow arched in challenge. My heart hammered in my chest at the thought of what I was about to do. Whatever was happening here felt terribly right, even if my head couldn’t quite wrap itself around the concept.

My dance partner stood several paces behind me, the rise and fall of his chest suggesting a severe lack of oxygen. “When you look at me like that, I forget why I’m here,” he said hoarsely.

My breasts were about to slip free of the corset— the barest of motions would send it tumbling past my waist.

“And why are you here exactly? Assuming you aren’t a manifestation of prewedding jitters?”

“Hush.” His mouth compressed at my words and I arched my back in apology. His hand casually stretched up to push my hair behind my ear. His gaze became half-lidded and hot, drawn to the taut nipple that had escaped its confines.

“Now how did that happen, I wonder?”

“The mind boggles,” he purred. “I suppose the only thing to do is to make a matched pair.” He found the other breast, his thumb rolling it behind the corset with the faintest of pressure. “It might get lonely.”

“Can’t have that . . .” I tipped my head as though to expose more of myself to him. Soft heat pooled at the base of my throat and I realized he was kissing me there, his tongue tracing hot circles at the pulse. Something about the gesture niggled at me, its familiarity ringing true, and I said as much.

He grunted in reply, too caught up in my squirming reaction to care, but a moment later he had pulled away. “Change in plans, Abby.”

My body shuddered with disappointment. “I wasn’t aware there was supposed to be an agenda. This is my dream, right?”

He let out a humorless chuckle, shaking his head. “As much as it ever was, I suppose. Don’t worry about it yet. I’m going to ask something of you shortly. There isn’t any time to explain, but I need your word that you will do it.”

“Is it going to hurt?”

“Not exactly. Not you, anyway,” he admitted. “Promise me you will do what I ask? I’m not  going to get another shot at it if it doesn’t work.” The intensity of his expression became despairing and I could only nod in answer.

“And until then?” There was nothing glib about my words, but my body continued to thrum with thwarted desire.

He leaned forward to kiss me, even as he gently laid me upon the bed that had mysteriously appeared behind us. “I’d think that would be obvious,” he murmured. “I take what is mine.”

As though this last interchange had freed him from whatever thoughts had been tormenting him, he tugged at the top of my corset, growling with approval
at the newly revealed flesh. “Gods, but I’ve missed this.” He went silent, suckling at the nipples until I jerked toward him, an electric pulse of pleasure shooting to my groin. I rolled my hips at him, but he was already there, one hand rucking the skirt up to
my waist.

If I’d been wearing underwear, it was gone a moment later, his hand sliding between my thighs. I scissored them wide and bucked up to meet his fingers, letting out a gasp of relief when he slipped one inside.

I tore at his shoulders, pulling the shirt away from him like paper. My palms stroked his naked chest and down the muscled ridge of his abdomen. With a groan he laid claim to my mouth. The motion of his fingers grew bold. I rocked in time to the movements, feeling them echoed in the way he slid against me. He chuckled at my whimper.

“Too easy.” His eyes glowed brighter still. I caught the flicker of what might have been antlers sprouting from his brow, but he turned—and they were gone.

“You talk too much.” I brushed my lips over his jawline, grinding harder against him. Small ripples of pleasure radiated with each clever stroke. “And what’s too easy?”

One dark brow arched in amusement, his fingers crooking up as his thumb pressed down. “This.”

Rational thought fled as I tumbled over the edge, the orgasm hitting me fast and hard, leaving me almost sobbing with its intensity. A satisfied croon rumbled from his chest. Was he laughing? My body continued to vibrate happily along, not caring.

“Delicious,” he sighed, his lips parted as though he was . . . drinking? His face lowered, gaze burning at me. “Whatever happens, Abby, I have no regrets. About any of it.” Confused, I frowned at him. “The mechanics are going to be too difficult to explain right now . . . just do as I ask. You have the power, Dreamer. Please.”

“What are you going to do?” I shifted as though to roll out from under him, but his hands tightened around me. A tremor ran through him, but it wasn’t desire.

It was fear.

Clasping me to him, he pulled me onto his lap. His erection remained beneath me, but it  seemed to be an afterthought for him at this point. One hand stroked my cheek, the other cradled my head. “I’m going to kiss you now, Abby.”

“All right,” I said slowly. He hesitated for the briefest of moments, a bitter smile crossing his face as he lowered his mouth to mine. It was strangely chaste, hovering and light as though he couldn’t quite find the right rhythm.

What the hell. I’d make it easy for him.

My fingers twined through the dark locks of his hair. He stiffened slightly, but I tugged him closer, opening myself to him as well as I could. He nipped at my lower lip, our breath mingling hotly.

“All of me I give to you,” he whispered, the words slipping away into the darkness, and his eyes flared painfully bright like golden waves in an infinite sea. He shuddered, his exhalation filling my lungs until they burned. “Now drink my dreams.”

I struggled, but his hands held me firmly in place. I heard the distant chimes of bells as visions darkened my sight, wrapping me in the memories of an . . .

. . . Incubus . . .

. . . I was crouched in the darkness outside a white picket fence with thorny edges, my hands bleeding from my failed attempts to scale it. Anything to get back to the place of my birth, the warmth of the Dreaming womb, and the inadvertent love of a mother who never knew me . . .

. . . I was learning to feed, gleaning off the dreams of others, taking all that I could and leaving only a hollowed longing for an unobtainable sexual perfection . . .

. . . I was singing on a stage, holding the attention of everyone. So easy to let my power roll out, lust and desire curling through the room like the flicking tongue of a snake. I could taste the scant edges of their dreams, the weight and the measure as I decided who I would visit tonight, what Contract I would make . . .

. . . I was wrapped in her arms and the darkness, her Dreaming Heart welcomes me like a beacon of light in the shadows. I would never belong there, but for a moment I could pretend . . .

“Ion.” The name fell from my tongue with an easy roll. He uttered a low cry, his form seeming to waver, his body vibrating in my arms. A rush of energy pulsed through my limbs once. Twice. And then he faded, a ghostly shadow slipping away.

Remember me . . .

His voice echoed in my mind, even as the white bed seemed to open up, swallowing me into darkness. The scent of rose petals and earth and decaying leaves assaulted my senses. I was falling, my fingers scrabbling at nothing as I hurtled into oblivion.

OOO

I’d been crying in my sleep. The damp trace of tears still clung to my lashes. Dimly, I rubbed at them with my hand as I sat up in my bed, trying to remember what had happened. My body thrummed uncomfortably and I knew it had been an arousing dream of sorts, but more than that I couldn’t say. I would have to ask Talivar about it in the morning.

The elven prince had a way of being able to see to the heart of my thoughts, even when I couldn’t quite understand them myself. Not that he was here now. For propriety’s sake we had separate bedrooms. I’d never slept with him before. At least, I didn’t think I had.

There’d been some sort of accident in my recent past, one that had apparently taken my long-term memory. No one seemed to want to elaborate on the details. Considering I was supposed to get married to the man, it was a bitch of a thing not to remember the actual proposal.

Perhaps my dream was just a manifestation of wedding jitters like I’d guessed, or even pent-up hormones. But tears? Flopping down in frustration, I stared out the carved  window at the moonless night, a rustling of branches the only sound. Usually I found it comforting, but right then it mocked me with its secrets, as though it knew more of me than it cared to tell.

I shifted onto my side in irritation, something hard digging into my hip. Puzzled, I reached beneath me to find several small, round somethings. They jingled, a lost and lonely chime that made my heart ache. I lit the bedside candle and held the objects up to the flickering
glow, swallowing hard when I realized I was holding a set of bells, tangled in red thread.

***

That was from chapter one of A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT, and if that's the beginning I can't wait to see the rest of it! I also love the artwork that was provided for the tour! It's amazing! If you are like me and can't wait for this book, you can buy A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT at the links below!

About the Author
A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang turned to a life of crime to finance her wild spending habits and need to collect Faberge eggs. A cat thief of notable repute, she spends her days sleeping and nights scaling walls and wooing dancing boys….Well, at least the marine biology part is true. But she was taloned by a hawk once.  She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.
She spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes.

GIVEAWAY!
As part of the Bewitching Books tour, there is a tour wide giveaway going on! I love giveaways and I'm sure you do too, and this one is awesome! You have the chance to win one of 10 copies of A TRACE OF MOONLIGHT if you follow the simple instructions below! And remember folks, always read the terms and conditions :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

V's Book Life is not the host for this giveaway and is not responsible for the allocation or distribution of prizes. 

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