Because I’ve gotten so many questions about what will be happening with the series after Hunter by Night, I am cross-posting this from the group blog to which I contribute, Paranormal Unbound (with some minor modification). Yes, at one time it was thought that the series would be longer. No, that is not currently the plan. Yes, I think that’s okay. Everyone who has read Hunter by Night so far agrees that it’s the strongest of the trilogy, and I’m so happy to be resting on a high note. <3
(Quick mention: if you haven’t started the series yet and want to, King of Darkness is on Sale for $2.99 in ebook until June 1 at all ebook vendors)
So in talking about why I’m so chill about wrapping up this series, I’ll thought I’d go back to where the Chronicles of Yavn began for me:
When so many of us were children, it was no thing whatsoever for our parents to let us run off in the neighborhood with our friends, with the street lights as our reminder that it was time to come home. Or to drop us off at the mall–you know, that place we went to find cool stuff before the internet happened?–and they’d pick us up once we’d had our fill of cheap pizza and blingy accessories from Claire’s Boutique.
The “good old days,” right?
Me? I liked to hang out the library. I’d curl up in a chair with a stack of novels featuring a windblown hero on a horse, and read to my heart’s content. Sometimes, literally all day until my mother finished work and picked me up.
It worked out well, for a kid who loved romance novels being raised by a single mom… Until the day I was attacked at knifepoint at that very library I’d loved spending so much time in. I didn’t read another romance novel for almost twenty years. (I’m not going to go into more depth about this now, but I did so after the release of King of Darkness, over at Dear Teen Me. It’s not something I love discussing, and reading this letter still makes me cry. But with all the talk–especially lately–about violence against women, it feels important to share – I also recommend checking out the #YesAllWomen tag on Twitter, there’s some powerful and enlightening stuff on there)
How this relates to the series… It was a gifted Kindle during my final pregnancy, a free download of Lara Adrian’s Kiss of Midnight, and a remembered love of vampires that made me fall in love with romance again. Then came J.R. Ward, and then Suzanne Brockmann, and eventually the decision to write my own series before I bled our bank account dry. I remember feeling like I owed these women my life–hell, I still feel that way–because they gave me something I thought I’d lost forever, and in doing so irrevocably changed my world.
I got me back again.
So the thing is, I approached writing my first novel with a healthy dose of naivete and more determination than I’ve had in just about anything except perhaps raising my children. It was one of those things they tell you never to do: I was rocking my newborn son to sleep, and an idea for an opening scene popped into my head, so I figured I’d write it down. Once I got into my Chronicles of Yavn world, more scenes came and the world got bigger.
Eventually I had enough material for at least seven books, I figured, maybe more. But… but… buuut… (as my youngest child would say). But things change. Plans change. I am no longer under contract with my publisher, so my originally envisioned series has become a trilogy. Helooo, adaptation.
At first, this was a hard thing to reconcile and I spent a lot of months wringing my hands. You hear a lot of authors talk about knowing when to end a series, and making a decision to wrap things up after a certain number of books, but for me it didn’t work out in quite that way. Well, there are no guarantees in life. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. And sometimes the thing you were so afraid of turns out to be for the best.
Re-writing Hunter by Night so it could either read as a standalone or cap the Chronicles of Yavn series made it an infinitely stronger book, in my personal opinion. I’m more psyched than ever for it to be out in the world in next week. I’m so proud of Lee and Alexia’s story. Most of all, I’m proud having arrived at where I am, at having written these three books that are so close to my heart. I hear authors express sadness when they end a series and I can’t even find it in me to be disappointed. I’m so excited. This is the series that I wrote with a newly ignited passion for romance when I thought I’d never crack open another novel, and for that I think it will always be my favorite.
Once upon a time, I thought I wanted to be an investment banker. Christ on a cracker, I don’t think anybody can imagine me doing that now. 😉
So plans change, and series change, and characters change. The ones you think are throwaway secondary characters–like I thought Lee and Alexia of Hunter by Night were going to be–turn out to be so much more.
Anyway, I guess if you’ve gotta go out, go out on a bang. Lee and Alexia are fireworks all the way, and I can’t wait for you to meet them.
About Hunter by Night:
A supernatural war is about to ignite a scorching hot romance
Lee protects his vampire race, and hates humans as much as the enemies he kills. Just as he’s assessing new recruits to join the vampire king’s army, all hell breaks loose. The estate’s security system fails, evil is heading their way, and human-hating Lee is stuck protecting Alexia, the queen’s human best friend. But as dangerous obstacles force Alexia and Lee closer, an undeniable attraction is revealed, and the two must find a way to compromise.
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Hunter by Night Excerpt:
“I told you to fight.” Lee Goram threw two sweaty, young vampires to the dirt.
Next to the pit of grappling bodies, he glared down at the two recruits who had been circling carefully around each other, conserving their strength when they were supposed to be battling aggressively. Nearby, mud flew. The red clay pelted them all with stinging chunks. In the large clearing at the back of the king’s estate, what would hopefully be their newest batch of fighters worked over and over to take each other to the ground.
These guys were all sturdy. Powerful. Determined. Brimming to the tops of their chunky skulls with potential. Yet in the sticky August evening, a chill of unease slithered through Lee’s body.
In his pocket, the presence of the knotted black leather that had tripped Alexia weighed heavily.
No clue. She had no fucking clue what she’d stumbled upon. For the remainder of that previous day and night Lee had only avoided wringing the pretty little human’s neck due to the number of other priorities on his plate. Priorities like kicking off their new round of training.
Even now, Lee’s hands burned with the urge to grab hold of her and shake. Fuck priorities.
Alexia had carelessly ignored his requests that she stay indoors, convinced the daylight held no risk of evil. Now they all faced a severe threat. The knot work on that cord held meaning she couldn’t know. A very old, very simple pagan magic turned wicked by its user.
Upon inspection, he’d found traces of blood on the cord. Old and dried, but familiar to Lee’s sense memory nonetheless: belonging to a man Lee had believed he’d killed centuries ago.
An ancient evil had somehow been resurrected.Lee growled down at one of the two males he’d pulled aside, the one who gasped for air as a cut leaked into his eye. “Are you too hurt to continue?”
“Then what are you doing? Get up, and fight. Until you can’t, or until you’re told to stop.” As the young vampire struggled, Lee turned to the guy’s opponent. “And you. Beyond this training ring, beyond the protection of the king’s estate, do you think an opponent will back off and wait for you to recover if you get tired?”
The young male, marked with a number “four” on his shirt, stammered and went pale. Numbers were easier than names when you dealt with guys who might not last long enough to be worth the bother of getting to know them better. Things weren’t looking too good for number four. Or his opponent. Given
what Lee suspected, they had days at most to whip the guys into shape, and from there on out, the “training” would be trial by fire. The ones who raised doubts would go home.
To take on what lay ahead, they needed to beef up their ranks. More foot soldiers, more elite fighters. Lee couldn’t be sure how many guardian helpers his old enemy Haig had brought along or when he might strike, but they needed to be prepared for any possibility. Fuck knew the humans wouldn’t be ready for the plague Haig had the power to rain upon them, wandering around out there like clueless bovine with their fragile immune systems.
In the midst of the chaos, Lee’s mind went to Alexia. He pictured her wide, brown eyes and her blonde hair with hints of caramel the way he’d seen it dusting her bare shoulders the previous morning. That smooth, glowing olive skin of hers. He tried not to imagine her already diminutive body affected by the rapid onset of disease, but the visions came fast and unrelenting. His gut soured.
“Forgot what a dickhead you could be during training.” King Thad spoke up from where he stood behind Lee, observing the trainees.
On the far side of the pit, trainee twelve fired sparks from his hands. The instructions had been to fight without mercy, and there were no rules against using powers. An attack could happen that way in the field. But Twelve’s opponent had slow reflexes.
Lee rose onto the balls of his feet, nodding. “Have to be. Most of them figure out how to deal with it eventually.” Or they didn’t, and those were the ones who didn’t make the cut.
“Hell, if my whiny, entitled ass made it through, anyone could, right?”
Lee swallowed the shards of emotion in his throat. Thad had nearly been a brother to Lee before taking the throne. The closest thing he had to family. He was immensely proud of the changes he’d seen in the young leader in such a short time. “You were always going to succeed.”
For a second they both turned. Lee caught the shrewdness of his king’s stare. “I’m glad one of us had faith.”
The burn in Lee’s chest intensified. “I don’t have faith in anything. Some things you just know.” He pointed through the mess of bodies. “Like Twelve’s partner over there is about to get his ass handed to him.”
The two males in question wrestled on the ground. Twelve’s knee dug into his partner’s chest, his hands grabbed his opponent’s throat. A crackle and pop fired from Twelve’s hands, and then blood flew. Screams.
“There it is,” Thad said quietly.
“Yep.” Lee’s gums throbbed as he pushed through the group. Happened at least once a session. Good teachable-moment shit. He handed a knife to Twelve. “Give him your blood.”
Twelve went pale. “What?” The young vampire took a step back from his bleeding partner, pointing to the nearby training building. “There’s a doctor and a whore from Blood Service who can provide for him right over there.” In fact, the doctor and an unmated female from Blood Service approached quickly.
“Now. Or you are done. And speak with respect.”
Twelve’s jaw hardened.
“Do you refuse?”
When the kid took one uncertain step back, Lee drew the knife blade across his own wrist and held it above Twenty- Three’s open gash, drizzling blood directly into the wound. Truthfully, Lee despised giving his blood to anyone. But this was an injured trainee and they all had to learn.
“First of all…” He boomed loud enough that his voice echoed in the clearing, but kept his stare fixed on Twelve, broadcasting his disapproval. “Those of us who are unmated rely on help from our friends in Blood Service to stay strong. Every one of their providers is someone’s mother or daughter, brother or sister, son or father. Show fucking decency.”
When the doctor signaled Lee had given enough, he licked closed the cut on his wrist and gave the doctor space. The injured kid might have to go with the female from Blood Service to get a full feeding, but they had her present for such a purpose.
“Second,” Lee said, “there’s always the chance you get stuck. With a severe injury, even a few miles back to home can be life or death. Your patrol partner is your lifeline.
“What I just did there was not a blood exchange as it would be between mates. That’s like comparing CPR to kissing. Know the difference.” He motioned to Twelve. “Turn in your gear. Thanks for playing.”
The young vampire schooled his wide eyes and slack mouth. He spun away, muttering about unfairness through clenched teeth.
“I’m surprised he didn’t argue more,” Thad said. “I thought for certain he’d give you trouble.”
“He still might.” Lee checked his watch, then glanced up at the sky. Heavy clouds rolled across the half moon. He nodded across the way to his other lieutenants, signaling them to finish. “You and I should head to the mansion,” he said to Thad. “Check on Isabel. Review strategy.” The tension of the first royal birth in a century needled everyone’s nerves these days, and now of all times.
Thad nodded. “You’re certain about this threat?” He shook his head. “I just can’t imagine so many deaths being caused by one asshole.”
“That cord came peppered with Haig’s blood. I’m certain.” Centuries later, Lee still remembered the smell of the blood that had originated one of their planet’s greatest plagues. After all, he’d had the vile stuff slicked all over his skin. Splattered in his nostrils. “I’m surprised your father never told you about him.”
Thad tightened his jaw and said nothing. The late king had tried to leave many secrets buried in the past. The past did not like to stay buried.
How had Haig survived? Lee had cut the righteous piece of shit open and set him on fire, for Christ’s sake. Had seen the motherfucker burn alive with his own preternaturally enhanced eyes. He’d spent the past twentyfour hours asking himself whether or not he could have been mistaken, but in his gut he knew the answer. This meant a fight the likes of which their kind had forgotten to fear could come at any time. The likes of which humankind would never expect.
Jesus… Alexia.She could easily wind up one of the casualties if Lee didn’t stop Haig in his tracks. If he didn’t keep her sheltered and inside the fucking estate. Lee insisted to himself that this only mattered because she was Queen Isabel’s best friend. He pushed away the dread that tried to settle in his gut.
His chest and arms ached. As he and Thad traversed the estate grounds in the direction of the mansion, he flexed his fingers and rubbed the back of his neck, putting on a show as if the tension of training caused him discomfort. Thad walked a few steps ahead and seemed not to notice. Good.
The heartburn- like soreness had been a dull constant
for many months. Lee hadn’t bothered with seeing a doctor. No point. His last mission… He’d made it out alive, but nobody knew how close he’d come to death. How much his body had resisted. A vampire his age should have centuries remaining on earth, but in his core he knew what lay ahead. His body no longer functioned as it should.
Lee would fix this once and for all. Find Haig, kill him, and tear that sanctimonious monk into fucking confetti. Make sure the slaughterer stayed dead this time. See Thad and Isabel’s heir into the world safely. With hope, the stupid human cattle would never be the wiser.
Then, he could die in peace.