Category: Paranormal Romance

King of Darkness

I have been so remiss in blogging it is downright embarrassing. I could make excuses and whatnot, but the bottom line is that I get pretty easily overwhelmed these days. But here to please you, I have cover art! And a blurb! And an excerpt! I SO hope it pings on your happy places. King of Darkness releases Feb 1 2012 from Sourcebooks Casablanca for your vampire romance pleasure. It is available NOW for preorder from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Oh, and don’t forget to put it on your TBR list on Goodreads. 😉



Scorned by the vampire community for her lack of power, Isabel Anthony lives a carefree existence masquerading as human—although, drifting among the debauched human nightlife, she prefers the patrons’ blood to other indulgences. But when she meets the king of vampires this party girl’s life turns dark and dangerous.


Dead-set on finding the prophesied mate who will unlock his fiery powers, Thad Morgan must find his queen before their race is destroyed. Their enemies are gaining ground, and Thad needs his powers to unite his subjects. But when his search leads him to the defiant Isabel, he wonders if fate has gotten it seriously wrong…


“Jesus, T. What is this place?”

Thad Morgan scanned the sparse industrial interior of the massive warehouse turned dance club. From just inside the doorway, he passed his preternatural vision over the writhing crowd of humans. Most of the populace bounced in time to bass-heavy techno music, stopping only to grope their nearest neighbor. Some gazed upward in awe at a raised platform of fire-eaters, and still more worshipped at a DJ stand opposite the entrance as if it were an altar. A scrolling sign overhead announced something called the Crystal Method. The humans partied with abandon and apparently little regard for their eardrums.

“I think they call it a rave,” Thad murmured to his friend.

And apparently at 3:00 a.m., the night was still young for the party kids in Orlando.

Thad’s hands clenched and released. How were they going to do this? The club was friggin’ huge and packed to the gills, from the crowded floor full of scantily clad dancers with glow sticks to the teeming balconies where couples and even groups were involved in more intimate acts such as massage and… whatnot. It was hard to fathom how in the hell they were going to find the female they were looking for in this place.

Already overheated, Thad pushed up the sleeves of his leather jacket and fingered the scar on his forearm, tracing slowly over the two intersecting lines that flaredinto a Y at each end, like a crude Armenian cross. The
small patch of skin was even hotter than the rest of him
and throbbed in time with the pounding electronic music
that was drilling a hole in his skull. He could almost
swear the scar was glowing, but the haze of laser lights
and cigarette smoke made it tough to be certain.

“She’s in here, Lee. I can feel it,” he said tightly.

Once again, King of Darkness releases 2/1/2012 from Sourcebooks. The paperback can be ordered now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (You can even preorder on Kindle and Nook and I THINK it will automatically download on the release date!!).  And to everyone who’s already contacted me to tell me how psyched they are about the book, thanks so much! Y’all rock my world.
And if  you would like to be kept in the loop on future goings on, I would love for you to join me on on Facebook and Twitter.

Guest Blog: The “Unwilling Man” in Erotic Romance

Note from Elisabeth: This is a controversial topic, and one that I don’t see discussed very often. As a writer and also as a survivor of sexual assault, I find the subject fascinating – thanks so much to Laura for guest blogging and sharing her opinions today.

The “Unwilling Man” in Erotic Romance

By Laura Kaye

What’s more erotic than a battle of wills between two characters whose every interaction drips with sexual tension?  I love a dynamic wherein characters are sexually attracted to one another despite strong animosities or real good common sense reasons to stay the hell away.  I devour pages for the moment when such a couple gives into those basic, primal urges in utter disregard of all the reasons why their having sex is just a bad idea.  The giving in is always so carnally delicious…

But what makes that moment so delicious, what makes me cheer and groan in satisfied fulfillment, is that they desire the sex—in whatever form it occurs—and give in to that desire.

That seems to me to be altogether different from what I’ve seen in some recent works in progress and published stories, both m/f and m/m.  What I’m talking about is what I’ll call the “Unwilling Man” phenomenon.

The story often goes something like this:  Powerful alpha male warrior is captured by rival tribe/alien race/immortal enemies.  As a captive, he becomes a sexual slave or concubine.  Said slave needs to be trained or prepped to fulfill his new function.  The proud warrior/slave fights and resists, warranting humiliating punishments.  Then, a new trainer takes over and wears him down with an erotic array of sexual acts, words, threats, punishments, perhaps even favors, until he “gives in,” often developing affection or even love for that person in return.

I understand others might not agree, but I consider this type of characterization to be the definition of non-consensual.  For me, the non-consensual elements include:

1)      His status as a captive and a slave clearly deprive him of the full ability to non-consent and to enforce his non-consent

2)      His resistance constitutes an expression of non-consent, even if it isn’t verbalized

3)      The use of humiliation, punishment, favors, or other means of cajoling or forcing acquiescence prevent that acquiescence from equaling consent

4)      The captive having an erection is not evidence of consent; fear is also a powerful stimulant

5)      The possible outcome of the captive orgasming is also not evidence of consent or desire for the sex act to have occurred, nor does it prove the person enjoyed the act.

Nonetheless, these stories often receive a positive response.  Bringing the big strong alpha male to his knees has a certain appeal.  The idea of having our way with him does too.  Flipping it around, with a male aggressor and a female “victim,” rape fantasies or “make-‘em-like-it” fantasies are common—the journal Psychology Today released a study in May of 2008 indicating 37-51% of women have rape fantasies—a likely lowball figure.  But these fantasies are usually imagined within an existing relationship, where some expectation of safety exists within the fantasy, or with a stranger who helps the woman act out “wanton” behavior or indulge in repressed desires, making her sexuality “okay” because someone “forced” her to do it.

But if we go back to our newly enslaved alpha male, that’s not the framework being used with the Unwilling Male.  The Unwilling Male is not playing hard to get and not in an established relationship—and any relationship formed while the man is unfree hardly counts as safe.

An Ellora’s Cave story I read not too long ago had a different non-consensual set-up.  It was a m/m “gay for you” construct within the science fiction romance genre.  The two male characters had enormous sexual chemistry, despite the fact that one struggled with the realization that he had, for the first time in his life, sexual desire for another man.  His slow process of giving in was erotic as hell.  But then the author jumped the gun, as it were, and created a situation where the outwardly gay character (OGC) “had” to have sex with the GFY character in order to survive a crisis moment within the scifi worldbuilding (I realize this is probably making you scratch your head, but I hesitate to call out a specific author with clarifying details… Wuss?  Maybe. 😉 ).  The GFY character was telling OGC not to do it, that he didn’t want it like this or in this way, and then, in protest, the GFY character demanded—if OGC was going to do it against his will, GFY didn’t want him to use lubrication.  So, he didn’t.  And, of course, it hurt like hell, because, as well all know, our bodies don’t produce any natural lubrication back there.  [NOTE: Every time a romance author writes an anal sex scene without lubrication, a kitten dies.  Jus’ sayin’.] Now, at least the author gave the GFY character the dignity of breaking off the relationship and ending their former friendship…for a while.  Because, of course, they reconcile and live happily ever after in the end.


For me, some of these premises border on rape as titillation.  And leave me wondering, how would we react if the “victim” was female?  If it was a female who was turned into a submissive against her will?  If it was a female who was captured and torn away from everything she’d ever know, and then “trained” to be a sexual slave?  If it was a female who had to be fucked against her will to save the universe?  If it was a female whose family had sold her to someone to use as they pleased?  These are all premises I’ve seen in recent months—as contest entries I’ve judged, works in progress authors have blogged about, or published books I’ve read.

Often, when I read or hear of these stories, I can’t help thinking of one of my all-time favorite alpha male warrior characters:  Zsadist, from J.R. Ward’s Lover Awakened (Signet, 2006, Book 3 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series).  ZOMG.  Total, epic, don’t-you-even-think-of-wanting-him-for-yourself LOVE for Zsadist, the bad-ass vampire warrior literally and emotionally scarred from a century of being imprisoned as a sex slave to a female vampire and being forced to sate her sexual and nutritional needs with his body.  He hates that his body reacted to her against his will (often, literally—they used a herbal salve on the skin of his penis to force him to become erect).  He grew to hate “the thing” / “the it” between his legs.  He bears the humiliation of the thick tattooed slave bands on his neck and wrists.  Once freed by his brother, he is totally dysfunctional in almost every relationship in his life, but especially with women, whom he can only fuck from behind so he can be in control, dominant, and not have to see them.  He’s plagued by nightmares, sleeplessness, severe weight loss, and considered sociopathic even by those who love him.  The story of how he finally gives in and falls in love is thus incredibly compelling and sweet because he finally gets to choose.  To me, it’s all the difference in the world.

Clearly, because rape fantasies exist, the line is not as hard and fast in fiction as it might be in the courts (of course, even there it’s not as black and white as you’d think it would be).  But, at the least, authors writing on the edge of consent should make an effort to get other eyes on their work before considering it ready for public consumption.

How do others weigh in on this? Am I in the ballpark or totally being too sensitive?

Is It Wrong To Want A Happily Ever After?

Many thanks to Elizabeth Daniels for guest blogging! Today she is taking on the subject of society’s recent instance that the characters in fairy tales make for poor role models. For those of us who love romance, it takes a shot at the very heart of that whole Happily Ever After thing we love so much. Is it still okay to enjoy a good Cinderella story? Read on…

Like most lovers of paranormal romance, I grew up loving fairy tales, both in books and on the big screen.  Fairy tales were my first exposure to fantasy.  The thought of magic and the otherworldly, of mystical kingdoms and strange worlds fired my imagination as a child, and it’s a fire that never dimmed.  It’s why I write.  More importantly, it’s why I write what I write.

So imagine how I felt when I read that fairy tale princesses – and fairy tale heroines in general – are getting some bad press these days.

At the heart of the controversy, past the objections to crowns and pink and girly spangles, is a claim that strikes my heart as a livelong lover of fantasy:  that fairy tale heroines, Disney or otherwise, are poor role models for girls.  According to these people, we should not only discourage our daughters from reading any but the most PC and revised fairy tales, but also shun the classic fairy tales altogether.

As a paranormal writer and as a mother, I was hit with both barrels of this argument, as it were.  I’ve learned to shrug off criticisms of romance and erotica, but this disturbed me.  As a writer, I wondered if I was feeding a problem if I chose to use a fairy tale as inspiration for a story.  As a reader (and a mother), these claims made me worry I was inadvertently harming my daughter by sharing these much-loved tales and movies with her.

I decided I’d take an objective look at some of these claims and see if they really did have merit.

The good news was that my researches set my mind at ease.  The bad news was that a lot of the claims were based upon people who apparently believed that all fairy tales stopped and ended with Disney.  Very few seem to have also read the tales upon which the movies were based, or at least, if they did, they failed to mention it.

But hey.  I’ll give them a pass; not everyone cherished their copy of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales (blood, guts, murdered mothers, cut off horse heads and all) as I did.  The language can be archaic.  And some fairy tales (Hans Christian Andersen’s in particular) are just downright depressing.

Yet even in the most mass-marketed Disney-ized fairy tales, the situation isn’t as dire as the naysayers would have us believe.  Just to prove the point, let’s analyze two of the most reviled Disney princesses and see what positive lessons we can draw from the stories.

1.  Cinderella.  Cindy is tops on the hit parade for the anti-fairy tale crowd – hit parade, as in, they’d like to put a hit out on her.  The chief objection is that Cinderella really does nothing more than sing sugary songs while she passively waits for her prince to come and give her the glass Manolo Blahnik slipper she lost.  Of course, he does and la-la, things are solved.

That’s their view.  Here’s mine.

Cinderella’s stuck in a bad family situation with stepsibs and a stepmother she doesn’t like who hate her in return.  She really hasn’t the resources to get out of that situation, either.

There’s few of us who can’t sympathize with some aspect of her predicament.  Even if we haven’t been cursed with the Stepfamily From Hell, we’ve probably been stuck in a job we couldn’t afford to quit with a boss and/or co-workers we hated.  So Cinderella’s situation is realistic and relevant.  Given the age of the original fairy tale, that’s pretty impressive.

How does Cinderella handle her situation?  She sticks it out.  She never quits, she never stops hoping, and she never stops believing in love.  The lesson?  That sometimes in life, you’re going to be stuck in a place you don’t want to be, a place you can’t change to suit yourself, no matter how much you might like to do so.  The trick is to stay true to yourself, keep going, and believe that good things still exist in the world – even if at the moment, you’re sure not getting any of them.

I’d call that a good lesson.

2.  Ariel.    The Little Mermaid star comes under fire because she has everything, yet she’s willing to throw away all she has and even change what she is for the chance to win the love of a prince she barely knows.  Her detractors claim it sends little girls the message that only the love of a man is worth having, and that winning one is more important than maintaining who they are.

At least nobody can claim Ariel’s passive!

My counterpoint:

As with Cinderella, most of us can relate to some aspect of Ariel’s situation.  How many of us have had to move to a strange place to take a job offer?  How about spouses of military personnel who choose to follow their spouses to obscure corners of the world?  How many of us have been attracted to someone with a completely different lifestyle than our own and wondered how to find common ground with them?

Ariel wants the prince, but what’s conveniently forgotten is that her curiosity about worlds outside her own existed before she met him.  He was just the impetus to get her to take action.  She has to take a giant leap of faith and do some things which are painful and even frightening in order to get what she wants.  In the end, however, her belief in her ability to accomplish her goal pays off.

The lessons learned?  That we should not be afraid to try something different.  We may have to leave behind those we love.  We may have to change in unexpected or even painful ways.  Yet with no risk, there is no reward.

While I disagree with the fairy tale detractors, I am glad their claims caused me to go back and re-examine the roots of my love for the paranormal.  Our fairy tale heroines give us life lessons, entertainment and a happily ever after.  And there’s nothing at all wrong about that.

— Elizabeth Daniels

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I can’t be the only freak…can I?

So I made my first agent pitch, and though knew to expect it I am still majorly bummed about the response i received. In a nutshell, she felt that the vampire thing is old and tired, and no agent or editor wants to hear it anymore.

So I get it, vampires are hot these days and everyone is writing them and as an agent she sees all of it. That must get old. But here is the thing: as an avid reader myself, I came to writing my own series by way of wanting more reading material. Not to mention, i belong to plenty of email lists (devoted to lovers of vampire romance I might add) where readers constantly ask what series they can read now that they have finished series x, y, and z and what can they read next? There are a lot of voracious readers out there who LOVE to plow through series after series of hot, vampire love. I don’t know that there is such a thing as too many. And I’m sorry but I am just not into writing steampunk. I love vampire novels, and I can’t get enough of them. I know I’m not the only one…am I?

My favorite bit so far…

When he closed the door behind both of them, he noticed the humor hadn’t left Lee’s face. “OK, what?”
“Nothing, ” Lee replied as he dropped into a chair. His conversational tone feigned innocence. “It’s just that usually when I smell blood and sex wafting towards me, the individual on the other end is in a much better mood than you are right now.”
Thad pointed an irate finger at him. “Don’t start with me.”

From King of Darkness by Elisabeth Staab