Archive for July 24th, 2008

Falling for a demon can be hazardous to your heart.

Riana Dumain is a fully trained Sibyl, a warrior priestess battling
evil whose practical magic keeps her grounded in earthly
science–and desires. She knows that gorgeous NYPD detective Creed Lowell is dangerous, and possibly a foot soldier for the evil Legion cult, using his badge and drop-dead looks to consolidate demonic power.

Creed’s low profile Occult Crimes Unit pulls Riana and her two sister Sibyl into the case of a politician’s son, murdered in a ritualistic sacrifice. Soon, Riana’s instincts prove true. Creed, the hottest half-human she’s ever known, a demon in bed and out, is guarding a trapdoor to hell. And unless Riana can find a way to tame her mystery man’s treacherous inner self (and her heart), all of Manhattan may be enveloped by darkness.

Gorgeous flame-haired Cynda Flynn knows fire—its heat, its power, its magic. A fully trained Sybil warrior priestess, Cynda’s weapon is flame. But she’s unprepared for the passion ignited by Nick Lowell, an undercover cop in the NYPD’s Occult Crime Unit. He’s half human, half demon, and hotter than hell, with fathomless black eyes that ignite something buried deep inside Cynda, making her melt in all the right places.

Luckily, Nick has found a way to control his dark side, but he’s done it old-school—through steel-willed self-control. And after five years working secretly within the deadly Legion cult, he’s unbreakable. Or he was, until Cynda came along. Now it’s personal—and even his big bad love may not be enough to halt a terrible new evil snuffing out fire Sybils like Cynda. It’s nasty. And if it can’t be stopped, they’re all going to fry.

As the broom end of her Sibyl triad, Merilee Alexander has the sacred duty as a warrior of taking out the trash. Lately, though, she’s been a little overwhelmed: Manhattan is a mess. And her prophetic end-of-the-world nightmares aren’t helped by the waking fantasies of love. Or the fact that the object of her affections, gorgeous Jake Lowell of NYPD’s Occult Crimes Unit, is playing it so cool.

Actually, Jake wants Merilee desperately, every luscious inch of her. Still, he’s holding back. He’s got secrets. Dark, dangerous, demonic secrets. But as Jake and Merilee trawl the city’s supernatural underbelly to out a demonic kingpin who, disguised as a charismatic leader, is amassing dark power, it’s make-or-break time. For their lives, their love, and the world are about to be sucked into the undertow of the tides of an unstoppable evil.

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In the day job, I work as a shrink. Well, sort of shrink, depending on your definition–I’m a psychologist. So the reality and science of things interests me as much as the creative part of life. I tend to be highly nerd-ly and research new topics before I plunge into them, even when I’m writing fiction and not a deliciously dry and mind-numbingly boring psych report.

When I started writing romance, I had a fairly good grasp of what I liked to read (and oh, yes, what I HATED), but I still went to the journals and knocked around through the topic of what, exactly, makes people fall in love. Different researchers have different opinions, but when I distilled those opinions, several factors kept coming up:

Eye contact, scent, looks, and personality — not necessarily in that order.

Catch My Eye, Baby.

Ah, eyes. They can be crystalline and sharp, dark and sensuous, closed or open or hooded or even batting coquettishly at a chocolate dessert on some glossy menu. Different shapes, color, and spacing.

Eyes can communicate nationality, lust, love, anger–just about anything. Most people swear they can read intent, intelligence, interest, and even the depth of a soul by staring into someone’s eyes long enough. Research backs that up, to some extent. The longer people stare into each other’s eyes, the more connection they seem to feel. Me, I like big eyes, and I like them dark and mysterious, with a wicked little fire burning deep in the depths. What kind of eyes do you like? When was the last time you looked into someone’s eyes for a minute or more? What did you feel?

Vanilla and Musk and Cedar, Oh My!

Most of the hullabaloo about smell and love centers on pheromones, or chemicals supposed to trigger a sexual response from the opposite sex. Despite all the interest in this area, no hard-science studies have ever backed it up. Other aspects of scent can have major impact, though. Women spend tons of time selecting the right combination of shampoos and lotions and perfumes and dozens of other products.

Men…usually not so much. Yet just the right male scent can drive a female straight up a tree. I like a woodsy-outdoorsy smell, notable but not overpowering. What makes you want to lean in close, grab that man’s lapels, and take a big, long whiff?

Mirror, Mirror. . .

Appearance is such a huge category, but yes, we all know looks do make a difference. I tend to write tall, muscular dark-headed heros with longer hair…because…well, I *like* tall, muscular heros with longer, darker hair. One of my readers adamantly prefers blonds, and do redheaded guys ever get to sweep the girl off her feet? What’s your pick on looks? Are big Terminator muscles a must? Do bookish-looking physicists make you swoon?

I’m Nobody. Who Are You?

Then we come to personality. Even though I write alpha heros, I might kill them on sight in real life. In real life, give me a literature professor any day, or maybe a hard-working doctor or police officer.
Some brains and level-headed insight to go with those dark eyes and that sexy little ponytail . . . <faints>. Wha? Oh, yeah. So, what would be the finishing touches for your ideal guy? What kind of personality would keep you coming back for more dates?

If you could design your perfect romance hero, supernatural powers (or fangs) or not, what would his character sketch look like? How would he smell? Would we be scrubbing palms against the stubble of his short hair, or tugging knuckles through his shoulder-length locks? Take it from me, the shrink–fantasy can be very, very good for you. Indulge for a few moments.

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