Archive for the ‘Urban Fantasy’ Category

The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters


With the final Secret McQueen book, A Secret to Die For, coming out in December, I thought it would be fun to revisit all the books in chronological order and do a bit of behind the scenes trivia about the stories leading up to the big finale.


The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters was the second Secret story I wrote, but takes place first in the Secret Universe. It’s a quick, fun read about what happens to Secret when she tries to have a normal dating life, and gives us a good glimpse at what her life is like under the thumb of the Tribunal.


I decided to write the prequel novella because I wasn’t quite finished the second book, but part of the story of the first novel was nagging at me. The “subway platform incident” that gets mentioned several times in the first book was something I wanted to know more about. I knew Secret had gotten herself in some trouble, but I wanted to see what would lead a hardened bounty hunter into making that kind of big mistake.


The answer: a very, VERY bad vampire who just happens to be one of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood. I love the idea in these stories of bringing in elements of real life, and it doesn’t take a big stretch of the imagination to see what inspired the character of Charlie. Which leads to my list of trivia!


5 Facts About The Secret Guide to Dating Monster:


  1. Charlie was not-so-loosely based on Robert Pattinson. I got a real kick out of the idea that someone who plays a vampire in movies might actually be one in real life, and how he would use his fame to manipulate people.
  2. Detective Tyler is named for my friend Shawn, whose middle name is Tyler. And the bar McCarthy’s is named for Shawn and his wife Jessica who is one of my best friends. On that note, the fake name Secret gives Charlie is “Jessica.” This is a nod to the 4 of my good friends name Jessica, and Secret even takes a poke at the “unoriginality” of the name.
  3. Tyler was only every supposed to appear as a one-off character in this novella, but I liked him so much I brought him back in Secret Santa and he stuck around for the rest of the series.
  4. This was actually the first book I wrote in the series after visiting New York. I hadn’t yet seen the city in person when I wrote Something Secret This Way Comes, so a lot of the descriptions of places are much more detailed than they were in the first book.
  5. The Columbia Hotel, which re-appears in Keeping Secret, is a nod to both my Canadian heritage (it’s designed to reflect the British Columbia interior) and is also meant as a subtle way for Lucas to embrace his werewolf nature. Since he isn’t publicly “out” as a werewolf, he uses the design of the hotel to show his affinity for nature.
  6. Bonus fact: though we don’t learn what Desmond’s job is until much later in the series, and he isn’t even mentioned in this book, he was the lead architect who designed the hotel.


Overall, The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters remains one of my favorite books in the whole series. It’s a great introduction to the characters and the world. It can either be read chronologically first, or following Something Secret This Way Comes to give a little more of the nitty-gritty detail of the infamous “subway platform incident.”


What is your favorite tie-in novella for a series?



For more information on the Secret McQueen series, including excerpts, blurbs, and reading order, visit sierradean.com.

And for the chance to win a digital copy of The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters just leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn on Sunday. Good luck!

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Blade to the Keep, book 2 in the Rowan Summerwaite urban fantasy series, releases on December 9th and I was lucky enough to get an early peek at it. IT WAS AWESOME!! When I contacted Lauren Dane to ask if I could share one of my favorite scenes, not only did she say yes but she offered to give away a mass market copy of book 1, Goddess With a Blade. More awesomeness!!

This scene is from Clive’s (Rowan’s love interest) point of view when he comes upon her as she is being confronted by one of her coworkers who isn’t a fan of her association with the vampires.

“Stupid whore. You got a little taste of Vampire cock and you think you’re clever.” He grabbed her upper arm and before Clive could move to intervene, she’d spun, broken his hold and pushed him against the door face first, his arm bent high enough to pull the shoulder out of the socket if she pushed much more.

She pressed her mouth to his ear and the weight of her body kept him in place. “This little girl will fuck your shit up if you ever touch me again. Understand something, weakling. You have no ability to take me on. I am stronger than you. I am smarter than you. I have more power from places you could not begin to imagine. I will crush you before you register I was coming for you. My lot has been cast since my birth. I don’t have a side, I have a path. Do you understand what that means?”

His face grew redder as she continued to hold him there.

“Working at Hunter Corp is a job to you. You gather your petty little ducks and think that makes you powerful. This isn’t just a job. This is my fucking destiny and you have nothing, no amount of power or influence that can sway me from that. I pity you that you could ever entertain that you could threaten me.”

She pushed herself away from him, letting go, her face registering disgust as he sputtered and coughed, flexing his shoulder.

“I’ll report you for this!”

“You have fun with that.”

She turned her back and Clive held back a hiss. To turn your back in the middle of an altercation was the lowest insult. She didn’t fear anything this male could muster.

Her power shone around her body, golden. Magnificent in its brutality and darkness. He fisted his hands to keep from reaching for her. Desire so sharp and overwhelming it seemed to drown his senses filled him up to nearly overflow. She was perfection.


Rowan Summerwaite is no ordinary woman. She’s smart and strong and with the power of an ancient goddess in her belly, she’s the perfect candidate to re-negotiate the fragile Treaty keeping the peace between the Vampire Nation and the last line of defense for humanity, The Hunter Corporation. A meeting of the Joint Tribunal, and Rowan’s new status as Liaison sends her straight to the last place on earth she wants to be—The Keep.

Raised at the knee of The First, honed into a weapon by the Hunter Corporation, wielding ancient knowledge from the Goddess within, Rowan must navigate around bloodthirsty opposition among Vampires and Hunters alike to avoid an all out war that puts humanity in the crosshairs.

And she’s got to do it as she attempts to manage a politically awkward romantic relationship with Scion Clive Stewart during a trip back to a place she escaped nearly fifteen years before. No pressure.

Walking the path between her two lives has already made Rowan a pariah. If she leaves it to become something even more Other, she may lose even the shreds of home she has left.



For the chance to win a print copy of Goddess With a Blade, book 1 in this series, just leave a comment below. The winner will be drawn on Sunday.



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He wants her so badly he can taste it…

Ever since their tempestuous fling years ago, incubus Lukas Sebastiani has known that siren Scarlett Fontaine was meant to be his. But when you’re a sex demon with an insatiable desire, relationships are…complicated.

Her siren song brings men to their knees…

Rock star Scarlett Fontaine desperately needs a break after a grueling tour. But with murder and mayhem surrounding her band, and Lukas guarding her body, life is going to be anything but peaceful.

Every encounter between them creates more turmoil—and heat—until Scarlett pushes Lukas to the boiling point, and unleashes forces that go way beyond anything she can hope to control…

I struggled with this one. It started off with a lot of potential. Rock star heroine coming off a year-long world tour, exhausted and emotionally spent, determined to confront Lukas and get her life back on track. Unfortunately, it fell short of that potential over and over.

Scarlett has loved Lukas since she was a teen and after she grew up, he was her first lover. When he woke up the morning after, he saw he had left bruises on her and ran away with no explanation. This was the major conflict keeping them apart but when they had sex again for the first time, it was all off page. It picks back up with Scarlett alone in the shower afterward, thinking about how delicately he treated her.

“She felt inexplicably cheated”

Yeah, me too. If this is the major source of conflict, I want to be shown it, not told about it later.

There is also a subplot with a killer. When someone close to Scarlett is killed, she is told about it and the chapter ends. It picks back up 3 days later. I was so disappointed that the chance for some awesome angst was missed.

That was my issue with this book. Disappointment. Disappointment that all the sex scenes up to 75% of the book were fade-to-black, that all the emotional moments were skimmed over. Disappointed that the book is advertised as an urban fantasy but there is no world building. It is briefly mentioned that the supernatural population crash landed on Earth many years ago but doesn’t say where they are from or how they adjusted here. And disappointed that the killer was one dimensional. No idea why he did it or how he did it. He seemed to be just one more throw away plot line.

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Format: Print and Digital

Barnes & Noble

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A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782. Drawn to one another despite longstanding taboos, and in pursuit of Diana’s spellbound powers, the two embark upon a time-walking journey.

Book Two of the All Souls Trilogy plunges Diana and Matthew into  Elizabethan London, a world of spies and subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night.  The mission is to locate a witch to tutor  Diana and to find traces of Ashmole 782, but as the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different journey, one that takes them into heart of the 1,500 year old vampire’s shadowed history and secrets. For Matthew Clairmont, time travel is no simple matter; nor is Diana’s search for the key to understanding her legacy.

Shadow of Night brings us a rich and splendid tapestry of alchemy, magic, and history, taking us through the loop of time to deliver a deepening love story, a tale of blood, passion, and the knotted strands of the past.



For a chance to win a print copy of Shadow of Night, just leave a comment below. The winner will be chosen on Sunday. Good luck! 😀

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One last book giveaway. This one is sponsored by the publisher, so a huge THANK YOU to Penguin/Berkley! 🙂 ANGEL’S FLIGHT by Nalini Singh, part of her Guild Hunter series. Comes out February 28, 2012.

In Angel’s Wolf a vampire becomes fascinated with the seductive angel who rules Louisiana. But all is not what it appears to be in her court.

In Angels’ Judgment a hunter must track one of her own gone bad, while surviving the deadly tests placed in her way by the archangels themselves. Unexpected backup comes from a stranger who might just be the most lethal threat of all…


In Angels’ Pawn a vampire hunter faces off against two rival factions and the angel manipulating them both, and a vampire whose help is not entirely selfless…


In Angels’ Dance an angel trapped in the mountain stronghold of the Refuge finds herself under siege by a warrior angel from a martial court.

Giveaway is open to all and winner will be announced on Sunday, February 19th. Just leave a comment to be in the running to win it. Good Luck!!

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Although VISIONS OF MAGIC is the first book by Regan Hastings, it’s far from the author’s first book. Under another name, she has been nominated six times for the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. Her romance novels have appeared many times on the USA TODAY bestsellers list.

About a year ago, the idea for my new Awakening series flashed into myhead. This isn’t an isolated event. In fact, I’ve written more than 100 books under another name. Ideas are plentiful, but I knew immediately that this one was special. It started, as the best ideas do, with a simple question: What if witches were real?

I wanted to root my new world in reality. VISIONS OF MAGIC takes place today, in a world that’s instantly recognizable to the reader, but with some imaginative twists. When Shea and her Eternal (Torin, an immortal warrior) travel, they don’t always have to rely on our traditional modes of transportation. Torin can travel by fire. He is, quite literally, the hottest hero I’ve ever written.

At its emotional core, the book is very much based in how we humans feel and react. It’s human nature to be leery of “the other,” ie, anyone who thinks or behaves differently than we do. That leeriness turns to full-fledged fear when our lives are threatened. Think of the Japanese internment camps of World War II. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was a cataclysmic event that made Americans feel vulnerable and helpless to do anything about it, which led to rage and overreaction. I could imagine the same thing happening if we learned that a few chosen people can call fire to their fingertips.

In the world of VISIONS OF MAGIC, witches are not only real, they’re dangerous. When their powers first awaken, the witches don’t know how to control them, and people are hurt. Killed. This is a dark and dangerous world. Malevolence is assumed, and soon the world is at war. Shea, newly discovered as a witch, must run for her life even as she wrestles for control of her powers so she can save ungrateful humanity.

It’s also very human to turn to each other in times of fear, and that’s just what Shea and Torin do. On the run, their emotions are heightened, and that makes for some sizzling love scenes between these destined mates. Poor Torin is very crabby after all the time he has waited for Shea’s powers to awaken.

Before I began writing the Awakening books, I spent quite a bit of time building this new world. Nora Roberts does an exceptional job of this with her J.D. Robb books. As does Lara Adrian with the Midnight Breed series. Genius. Moody and evocative, dripping with atmosphere. So I asked myself, if witches were real and a threat to Americans, how would our society react?

What do you think would happen if witches were real and a threat to the lives of innocent people? How would people in your town react? How would the government react? How would you react if you suspected your best friend was a witch?

I’m holding a contest for readers to guess my true identity for a chance to win a Federal Bureau of Witchcraft fleece jacket. Enter at www.reganhastings.com. The contest ends February 1, the release date of VISIONS OF MAGIC, so enter right away!

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I have been a slacker in posting what I’m currently reading on the sidebar. Bad me. I’m just about to start NO PRINCE CHARMING by Shiloh Walker. What’re you all reading today?

Her Happy-Ever-After has been a long time coming… 

Elle spent years trying to get over her so-called Prince Charming, and she’s finally getting the hang of it. A Grimm—a guardian angel with unique gifts—she spends her nights trolling for demons and kicking ass, and lately, her days have been spent with her on-and-off-again lover, Ren, a fellow Grimm. But fate has other plans in store for Elle, plans that include Michael, the prince from her youth who broke her heart. 

“What do you choose…live for her? Or would you rather die?” That was the choice Michael was given all those years ago. Although he knew she’d never forgive him, when Michael was given the chance to become a Grimm, he took it. Still, he isn’t so sure Elle needs him in her life. With a lover at her side and a mission before her, Elle looks like she’s doing just fine without him. 

But the not-so-charming prince isn’t going to back off that easily…not if there’s a chance she might need him again. He’d do anything to save her. Kill for her, live for her, die for her… 

This dark, twisted version of Cinderella involves demons, deceit, desire, and debauchery between a princess and two sexy guardian angels, both determined to win the fair Cinderella. 

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Amazon recommended SEDUCED BY SHADOWS by Jessa Slade to me when I was updating my wishlist. New to me author and I love the cover. Comes out October 6, 2009.


The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, but now evil is winning, and The Marked Souls are caught in the middle…

After an accident left her near death, Sera Littlejohn is struggling to piece her life together again.  But when a violet-eyed stranger reveals a supernatural battle veiled in the shadows, Sera is tempted to the edge of madness by a dangerous desire.

Ferris Archer takes Sera under his wing now that she is talyan, possessed by a repentant demon with hellish powers.  Archer and his league of warriors have long risked their demon-shattered souls to stop darker spirits from wreaking havoc.  But they’ve never fought beside a female talya before, and never in all his centuries has Archer found a woman who captivates him like Sera.

With the balance shifting between good and evil, passion and possession, Sera and Archer must defy the darkness‹and dare to embrace a love that will mark them forever…

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In a post-Apocalyptic world where supernaturals have emerged from hiding, wealthy humans delight in decadence while the religious gain power through temptation. For the masses, fear reigns from birth to death, and the afterlife holds beings that only the bravest can summon—or dare to desire…

Taken from her home and family, shamaness Aisling McConaughey has no choice except to enter the “ghostlands” in order to learn the fate of a wealthy man’s mistress. But there is always a price to pay for the use of her power. To save the woman’s life she must summon the Djinn prince Zurael en Caym—and yield to his savage, sensual rage.

Zurael fears nothing except being called and bound to a human’s will. He intends to kill Aisling after she’s served as bait to find an enemy in possession of an ancient tablet. But the more he tastes of her innocent spirit, the more he’ll use his fiery touch and seductive whispers to keep her hungry for his mercy—even as they weave an erotic spell that he cannot escape…

Powerful forces threaten both their worlds, leaving Aisling and Zurael with an unbearable choice. Follow their hearts…or stay true to their honor and risk losing an eternity of pleasure.

Thanks Fatin for inviting me to Novel Thoughts. This has been a thrilling week for me as it marks my debut release with Berkley.

Ghostland is a book I loved writing. It’s an urban fantasy romance, a departure from the erotic romance stories I write for Ellora’s Cave, but there are still plenty of erotic moments in it.

Authors are often asked where they get their ideas from. For me, Ghostland was born from my desire to explore a post-apocalyptic fantasy world by asking: What would it be like if humans no longer ruled as a result of their sheer numbers, their weapons and their technology? What kinds of societies would they form? And what would happen if the supernaturals no longer needed to hide their existence?

I answered by imagining that San Francisco is claimed by vampire families while across the bay, Oakland is ruled by powerful non-gifted humans. And beyond those cities, smaller human settlements are carved out and defended in vast territories controlled by Were and Fey.

There are worlds within worlds, with everyday life and reality for humans defined by location and who rules. It’s a place of opposites and extremes. Of horror alongside beauty. Extravagant wealth juxtaposed to hard-scrabble poverty.

And what if, unseen by those who live on Earth, there is war brewing between ancient, unseen enemies for who will control it—and the heroes and heroines who find love and want their own “happy ever after” play a part in preparing for that war?

That’s how Zurael and Aisling in Ghostland, and Tir and Araña in Spider-Touched came about, and I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I did.

For a chance to win a copy of Ghostland (or one of my EC titles if you prefer), post a comment. It can be spontaneous, or an answer to the question: Which do you prefer, stories told in the 1st person as most of the straight urban fantasy stories seem to be told in, or in 3rd person, as most romances are? I’ll go first in saying that while I really enjoy 1st person when it comes to some urban fantasies, I can only take so much of it before I find myself craving 3rd person.

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Cursed by God, hunted by demons, desired by Cain and Abel… All in a day’s work.

For Evangeline Hollis, a long-ago fling with a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks just became a disaster of biblical proportions. One night with a leather-clad man of mystery has led to a divine punishment: the Mark of Cain.

Thrust into a world where sinners are drafted to kill demons, Eve knows her learning curve must be short. A longtime agnostic, she begrudgingly maneuvers through a celestial bureaucracy where she is a valuable but ill-treated pawn. She’s also become the latest point of contention in the oldest case of sibling rivalry in history…

But she’ll worry about all that later. Right now she’s more concerned with learning to kill while staying alive. And saving the soul she’d never quite believed she had.

A Day in the Life

Here it is, five o’clock in the evening. My kids are asking about dinner and for the most part, the day is done. I’ve been a full-time writer for going on five years now. I love it. I think it’s the best job in the world… for me. (your mileage may vary *g*) Some days are leisurely. I can wake up late, hang out in my pjs, take a nap if I want, take as long a lunch as I want, watch a movie. Some days are just insane. If I’m under deadline, sometimes I’ll go a week or more with only a few hours of sleep at night and non-stop writing all day. Today was a middle of the road day. Busy, but not completely nuts.

7:30 am — get out of bed

7:40-8:25 — herd young children around the house to get them dressed, fed, hair brushed, and backpacks ready.

8:30 — drop them off at school

8:40-2:45 — house is quiet without kids and I get to work on 5K+ email inbox:

· Romantic Times Convention bookseller having trouble getting EVE OF DARKNESS in for the Sat. book signing, because it doesn’t release until the following Tuesday (route to editor)

· Email web designer about trouble with newsletter program not culling bounce emails

· Email with former agent about books/subsidiary rights

· Send last minute information for group newsletter going out today

· update a group site I maintain with fellow writer’s new cover art

· Assist new BravaAuthors.com webmistress with taking over the website duties from former webmistress

· Finally eat something at noon when stomach growls about not having breakfast

· Write and send requested cover quote (due by tomorrow – book was awesome!)

· Try and help a friend with an issue she’s having with her latest cover art

· Write new scene in latest book

· Put away new coverflats that arrived last night, but leave one out to drool over

· Write copy for spring newsletter

· Edit newly written scene in latest book and set up next one

· Laugh over email from another writer friend asking if I’ve cloned myself since she’s seeing Marked series promo everywhere and can’t figure out how I have time to do it.

2:45-3:15 — harness up the dog and take her out for a walk to the school to pick up the kids (must have exercise)

3:15 — make a protein shake with banana (yummy)

3:25-5:00 — see new pressing emails that arrived while I was walking kids/dog

· RWA chapter I was once president of has tax questions

· Another request for group newsletter info

· Receive notice that one of my web domains is expiring (go and pay for another 5 years)

· Receive erroneous bill (emailed and cleared up)

· Still trying to vet newsletter copy

5-5:30 — write this blog post

5:30 — new email comes in about upcoming blog interview (has many questions, will answer tomorrow)

5:45 — going to pick up Taco Bell, since kids have been asking for days and I want to write instead of cook J

7:30-9 pm — herd kids through homework, bathing/showering, and getting to bed on time

9 pm-2 am — write new scenes in latest book

I’m sitting here now wondering where the day went. Didn’t I just roll out of bed a couple of hours ago? Yikes.

But I’m smiling anyway. Because I love my job (even though I did have to lose the pjs to walk the dog…)

— SJ Day


*****Leave a comment for the chance to win an ARC of EVE OF DARKNESS. Good Luck! 🙂

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