Today I have the absolute pleasure of having Loose-ID author, Jessica Lee, visit with me! *Applause* Okay I have to admit I’m a bit biased about Jessica. Not only is she an awesome author but she’s my critique partner as well. But since her debut novel, Desire to Die For, was released with Loose-ID in August 2009, it has been receiving rave reviews, including The Romance Studio’s CAPA nomination for Best Paranormal Erotic Romance of 2009! On the eve—okay a week before the eve—of the second book in the Warriors of the Enclave series, Dark Desires at Midnight, Jessica agreed to visit with me to talk about her books and career as erotic author extraordinaire (Psst! Jessica, did I get that right? Erotic author extraordinaire? That’s how you wanted me to say it, right?)
NS: Hi Jessica! Welcome to my humble abode! Of course I’m privy to your “Cinderella” story but for those who don’t know, how you got started in writing? ‘Cause I’m just saying, if I didn’t love you I could really resent you for your story…I love you though…
JL: You are too funny, Naima. LOL Well, let’s see… It all started when I decided to leave nursing and become a stay-at-home mom. I loved, and still love, reading paranormal romances, and one day my husband suggested that I should try and write one. I thought he was crazy. I’d always been a science nut, didn’t think I had a creative bone in my body. But then something happened when I sat down at the computer. I felt like I’d truly discovered a passion. I was hooked, and the rest is history. J
NS: Unhuh. First manuscript plus first sale equals dagger sharp glare. Oh right! I love you! Right...On to my next vital question…Acheron from the Dark Hunters or Zsadist from the Black Dagger Brotherhood? Which one does it for you like All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet-on-my-neck does it for you?
JL: I'd have to say Acheron. I admit, I even have a Sherrilyn Kenyon autographed Acheron coffee mug in my kitchen cabinet. LOL
NS: I didn’t know that! They sell that? I want one! We’ll talk later. I can see why Sherrilyn Kenyon is a favorite though. Like her, your books have hot, sex-on-a-stick Alpha warriors. Your heroes are vampires. So why the bloodsuckers and not, oh, werewolves? What about paranormal erotic romance called to you instead of another genre, like romantic suspense?
JL: Oh, man, it's the whole fang and biting the neck thing.
NS: Well, yeah, when you put it that way…
JL: I've always loved vampire movies and have forever rooted for Dracula to escape with his queen. LOL I'm a sucker for the dark, sexy, tortured soul of the alpha male. And vampires possess all of the above. Why paranormal romance? The freedom to world build excites my muse more than any other genre. I can just let my mind go and create sexy alpha males with superhuman strength and power. *sigh* It's too much fun!
NS: I for one thank your muse because your vamps are sexy and so Alpha I don’t know whether to punch ‘em or lick ‘em…who am I kidding? Definitely lick ‘em! Hee-hee-hee! That was a totally lascivious cackle, by the way. Jessica, I know that Sherrilyn Kenyon is one of your favorite authors. But if you could go on a writer’s retreat to suck up all the knowledge and advice with any author, who would it be and why?
JL: Omg! What a good question. There are so many fantastic authors out there. Ugh. It’s a tie: Karen Marie Moning and JR Ward. I just can’t choose between them. LOL
NS: True that. Highlander or Black Dagger…both are awesome writers and two of my favorites too. I guess that’s why your series is one of my new favorites. You have a warrior brotherhood even though it’s different from J. R. Ward’s. Your first book, Desire to Die For, introduced Kenric St. James and the Warriors of the Enclave. Tell us about them and their leader.
JL: Kenric is an over 300 year old vampire who has been stalked by an ancient female vampire for 200 years. He's put together a team of vampires he calls the Enclave to defend humanity against the blood thirsty murderers of their kind known as DEADs. Kenric is a master vampire, and only a few male vampires possess the mental abilities to become a master. He's more powerful, faster, and can take own multiple alternate forms, which is the exact reason our villainess from book one wants him all to herself.
NS: In case someone hasn’t read Desire to Die For I won’t spoil the exact nature of Marguerite, the villainess, but what a psycho piece of work she is! Whew! And the lengths she goes to bind Kenric to her…nuts! With her, the world building, characters and love story, it’s no wonder Desire to Die For is wildly popular and was nominated for a CAPA award. Are you surprised at how well it’s been received?
JL: Most definitely. Your biggest wish is for the readers to love your characters, but it’s very surreal when your dream actually comes to fruition.
NS: Ahem...I always knew it would be a hit. But I’m not one for I-told-you-so’s. Alright, yeah I am! Jessica, I told you people would love Desire to Die For! Hee-hee! Okay, detouring totally off the subject for a minute. Name one thing you splurged on with your first royalty check. I’m being nosey and don’t care!
JL: LOL Hmmm…? Well, I’d have to say my HP mini. Love that little computer. It makes writing so portable and easy.
NS: Oooh yeah! They are the best! So…Book 2 in the Warriors of the Enclave: Dark Desires at Midnight, is set for release from Loose-ID on March 30th. Which warrior is the hero in this book and the woman ready to rock his world?
JL: Dark Desires brings you Arran and Gabrielle's story. Here is their blurb:
Arran MacLain is a vampire on a suicide mission, driven to kill his former partner who betrayed him and the Enclave they served. But two things stand in his way: Gabrielle, the human female who holds his heart, and the past that won’t let him go. If only death was enough to cleanse his soul.
Gabrielle Steven’s sister is missing. Her hunt for clues brings her face to face with the one vampire she can’t forget. Their missions combine and thrust them into the heart of evil. Will their passion be enough to overcome the pain from their past, or will their dark desires destroy them both?
NS: Now…ahem…I heard a rumor—nasty things those are—that you did a little, uh, special research for this book. Something about black leather, BDSM club…Tell me, Jessica, are the rumors true? And if so, do we have pictures?
JL: Well, you know what they say about rumors… You've almost got it right. LOL I did make a trip to a fetish event for a little research around New Year's Eve, but it wasn't for Dark Desires. That research project was for book three. But that's all I can say right now. Anymore would be a bit of a spoiler for book two. As JR Ward would say…keep reading. J
NS: Whoo-hoo!! Book three! We have a Book three, ladies and gentlemen! Did you find this book easier or harder to write?
JL: Difficult to say, because book one was more of a growing process as I developed the characters, the story, and my craft all at the same time. Book two was difficult, because it was the first time I'd written a story knowing someone was waiting on the completed product. Quite a different mental process.
NS: You shouldn’t be so damn popular! LOL! Which is your favorite? Desire to Die For or Dark Desires at Midnight?
JL: Oh, man! How am I supposed to choose between them? I love them both in different ways. DTDF was my first, and I love Kenric, but Dark Desires takes you deeper and darker. How about this, you tell me. Hee-hee!
NS: No way! I definitely can’t choose! That’s like asking me to pick between Red Velvet cake and Prestige Strawberry ice cream! I want both! LOL! What is one of your favorite quotes in the book? Ooh! And use the bad words! *another lascivious cackle combined with greedy palm rubbing*
JL: LOL “She was ready to fight. He was ready to fuck.” *G*
NS: You’re so bad! I luvs it!! Okay, I’m excited! Can we get an excerpt??
Arran rolled his Ninja into the parking lot beside Gabrielle’s car and killed the engine. She’d taken the newsflash about Markus and Marguerite pretty much like he’d expected. She’d mumbled an oath of determination right before she’d kicked him out of the car. Gabrielle wasn’t a member of the Enclave in name only. It didn’t matter that she didn’t work patrol. Gabrielle was as much a warrior as any of the males. Life hadn’t dealt her any favors. And she wasn’t one to lie down and let it bulldoze over her. She stood and fought for every inch of ground gained.
He waited for her to get out of the car, then removed his helmet.
“You didn’t need to follow me home,” she said over her shoulder, heading for the front door of her sister’s townhouse. He was surprised when she’d led him here instead of a hotel. The place must have belonged to her sister. He palmed his keys, slid off his bike, and shoved the keys in his pocket.
“I wasn’t going to let you leave alone after the info I just dumped on you,” he said as he came up behind her while she unlocked the door. “I wanted to make sure you got home safe. And I wanted to be sure you actually went home.”
“Oh my God, you can be such an ass sometimes.” Her back was to him, but Arran could almost hear her eyes roll with that statement. She was right. He was an ass. But while he was here, he would be taking care of hers.
Gabrielle flipped on the lights, and he followed her inside. The heels of her boots clicked on the hardwood floor of the foyer, echoing in the open stairwell of the two-story apartment. She couldn’t have been in town long, but the air in the place already carried her scent. He pulled in another slow, deep breath through his nostrils. His heart rate quickened. Honeysuckle. Arran wanted to smile but repressed the grin. Ironic that such a delicate and sweet fragrance emanated from the hellcat with whom he’d just been reacquainted.
Her keys clinked as she dropped them in a bowl on a table near the staircase. Arran’s gaze devoured her provocative profile. He’d never seen her dressed like she was tonight. Living with five male vampires within the Enclave walls, she usually dressed a bit more conservatively. Not matronly, but definitely not this revealing. A short black leather skirt barely covered the lush curves of her ass, and a shirt that couldn’t have been more than a decked-out bra did its best to contain her full breasts. Shiny black leather boots wrapped her legs, highlighting the toned sweep of her calves. This couldn’t happen again. Arran slowly shook his head. He would end up killing someone if she dressed like this again.
She turned her head to the side, facing him. “I don’t need a babysitter. I’m more than capable of taking care of myself.” She shifted and faced him head-on. “You’ve been gone a long time, Arran. Things have changed. I’ve changed.”
“Maybe so. But you’re not taking on that colony alone. I can’t believe Logan let you come here without him.” Gabrielle turned her back, rearranging her purse on the table. Shit. He recognized the body language. “You didn’t tell him, did you?” Arran closed the distance between them.
“No. I didn’t need him here.” Gabrielle looked up, fierce determination written on her face. “I can handle this. Alex needed me. And I’m going to be there for her.” She shifted to face him again, leaning her hip against the table. “I’m smart enough to know if -- and when -- I need help.”
Arran closed in, crowding her personal space, wanting a reaction. Aching for it, actually. Gabrielle straightened and took one step back but stopped and lifted her chin, refusing to cower and give him the reaction he itched for. She caught on quick.
“You think you have it all handled, lass?”
“Yeah, I do.”
"You got it all under control?”
The amber color of her irises had grown near molten. He allowed a small smile to pull at the corner of his mouth, loving the way she got all hot and bothered when he pushed her.
“Yes. I do.” The words had barely left her lips when she attacked, one leg coming out to catch the back of his ankle. Caught off guard, he stumbled.
Before he could regain his balance, she had his wrist locked in her grip. Swinging his arm up, she spun underneath, twisted, and wrenched his arm up the middle of his back, then shoved him face-first into the dank-smelling wall.
Well, damn. Not bad. “You’ve been training,” he mumbled against the Sheetrock.
“A little.” She sounded quite proud of herself. She was good. He’d give her that. But her heavy breathing told him it was all she could do to contain him, and he hadn’t even come close to tapping into his full abilities. She’d caught him by surprise, but she was human, a woman, and no match for a mature vampire. Especially in a multiple attack.
With a burst of speed, Arran pushed back, forcing Gabrielle to release him instead of falling on her rear. He whirled, catching her before she hit the floor. In less than a second, their positions reversed. Except this time, he’d pinned her back against the wall, her hands imprisoned by his, over her head.
The position pushed her full breasts up, almost spilling them from her top. Nice. He lifted his gaze, prepared for a hard glare. If her eyes were molten earlier, they were near boiling now. He couldn’t have stopped the next words that spilled from his lips if he’d tried.
“You ass!” She squirmed and bucked against him like a feral cat. Instead of gaining her freedom, though, each maneuver jammed her tighter into his hold. Her every inhale shoved her breasts into his chest. Heat radiated off her body, threatening to scramble his brain. Before he knew he’d even moved, his lips hovered over hers. What made him stop, God only knew. Maybe it was the way she’d suddenly grown still? Or maybe it was the moment she’d parted her lips, releasing warm, peppermint-scented bursts of air that seduced his mind. So damn enticing. All he had to do was lean in one more inch, and he’d --
Fire shot up his arm. “Son of a…” Releasing her, he jumped back and flung his gaze to the offending limb. Blood.
A thin line of crimson blossomed along the outside of his bicep. She’d played him. Purposefully distracted him, so she could pull her hand free and reach for a blade that must have been hidden under her skirt and against her thigh. The little minx.
He swiveled his head back in Gabrielle’s direction. Air punched from his lungs. Christ. Blood surged to his cock. The overwhelming urge to stroke the rock-hard length at the sight of her was short-circuiting his brain. Gabrielle stood, one boot in front of the other, palming a short dagger. She was ready to fight.
He was ready to fuck.
Arran rocked from one foot to the other, searching within for the strength not to take what was his. Mentally, he shook his head. No. She’s not yours, asshole. But damn if his cock had the sense to listen.
“I know you weren’t about to kiss me, warrior. Were you?” She raised a delicate brow and tilted her head. “Because last I heard, my kiss was ‘forgettable.’”
Ouch. He’d had a feeling if he ever saw her again, that asinine comment would come back to bite him in the ass.
“Give me the blade, Gabrielle.”
“This?” She twirled the dagger, then palmed the hilt and held it up for display. “You want it?” A devious smile lit her face. With her other hand, she beckoned him with her fingers. “Come and take it.”
Bad, bad challenge, kitten. A tremor started in his gut and worked its way up, until it was a buzz inside his brain. Every cell in his body wanted to take.
A gasp of air in his ear was the only indicator that he’d grabbed her. He didn’t remember the trip. Arran lifted her feet from the floor, whirled, and gently laid her on the stairs, pressing his hips, his chest into hers. He had to get his body next to hers. Everywhere. The dagger fell from her hand, rolling and thumping its way down the steps, each tumble a hollow thud.
The loud percussions bypassed the noise inside his head and brought him to a dead halt. He lay with his hips between her legs, his groin pressed to hers. His mouth suspended above her lips. He dropped his gaze to her mouth. God, how he loved the delicate line of her lips, a perfect bow. So full and pink. Her tongue darted out and moistened the lower one. He couldn’t stifle the groan that rolled from the back of his throat.
He dragged his gaze back to her eyes. Passion mixed with doubt and fear stared back at him. “I’m sorry.” The whispered words tumbled from his heart.
She blinked, then swallowed. “Why?”
“For hurting you.”
Her eyelids shuttered, and her breath hitched. Did she believe him? Was an apology enough for what he’d done? He’d walked away, leaving her to think he’d never wanted her, when the truth was, he wanted her more than his next breath. Sorry sounded so insignificant, compared to how much damage he’d done to her heart.
“Gabrielle.” Long, dark eyelashes lifted. Beautiful, near gold eyes shimmered with unshed tears. Please don’t cry. If only he had the power to bring her tears of joy. Instead of the pain he was so damn good at. He wanted to kiss the hurt away. “Remind me.”
Her lips parted first in silence before she asked, “Of what?”
Arran released her arms and cupped her face with his palms. He caressed her lips with his gaze before lifting it back to hers. “What I walked away from.”
NS: And we have to wait a whole week!! #$*$#&@Y^#^!!!!! *Sigh* Alright. I know you’re hard at word on the third book (Hint! Hint! Nudge! Shove!). But before I let you go, you have a surprise for one lucky person?
JL: I do have a surprise. One lucky commenter will be randomly selected to receive, not only a copy of Dark Desires at Midnight, but book one, Desire to Die For as well.
NS: Now that’s a prize!! We’ll send the winner Desire to Die For tomorrow and Dark Desires at Midnight on the 30th. That’ll give the winner a week to read, or re-read, book one before tearing up book two. Thanks so much, Jessica, for stopping by my blog! I’ve had a ball! And congratulations on the new release!
JL: Thank you, girlfriend! Love you. You're the best CP a girl could ever have. J