Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?
I’ve been impressed by some of the latest Harlequin Nocturne covers. They used to be so cheesy, but there’s been a lot of improvement across all the Harlequin lines. I love the vivid colors here, and while I love how dramatic that dress is, I pity any heroine who has to make a fast getaway wearing it!
The Lost Wolf’s Destiny by Karen Whiddon will be in stores September 2013
A desperate mother. A scarred man. A powerful bond… The moment he saw Blythe Daphne on the television news, Lucas Kenyon knew three things: she was a shapeshifter, like him. She was the most desirable creature he had ever seen. And she was in terrible danger.
Now, the wolf in Lucas is driving him to save Blythe and her young daughter from a man he knows is evil personified. A man who believes all shapeshifters are demons straight from hell. But Lucas knows he must never reveal the secret that threatens to tear him apart—not even to the one woman who could heal him
Please welcome debut author Kait Ballenger to the virtual offices today. She’s here to chat about her debut release Shadow Hunter, which is part of the After Dark anthology. Please take a second to say “Hi” after the interview!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Kait Ballenger] Wife. Author. Mother to 3 furry 4-leg babies. MFA student. Future professor. Bellydancer. World Traveler. Caregiver to elderly w/ dementia. Biggest love: my family
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Shadow Hunter?
[Kait Ballenger] Of course! I love to talk about the E.U boys and their series.
Shadow Hunter is a short prequel novel to my Execution Underground paranormal romance series. The Execution Underground is a covert international organization of supernatural hunters and the series focuses on the six hunters who make up the Rochester, New York division of the organization. Each major city has their own division and each hunter specializes in a type of supernatural creature. Though the story takes place before the full division is formed, Shadow Hunter focuses on the future leader of the Rochester division, Damon Brock, who specializes in hunting and slaying vampires. Damon arrives in Rochester gunning to destroy the vampire responsible for the death of his friend and hunting partner. But there is another vampire hunter in town, one who is not sanctioned by the Execution Underground: Tiffany Solow. When their paths initially cross, they butt heads initially, both unwilling to give in to the other. But it turns out that Damon and Tiffany have a lot more in common than they think, beyond just hunting vampires and their problems extend way beyond whose territory is whose.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Kait Ballenger] Shadow Hunter is Damon’s origin story (he and Tiffany have their own full length book later on in the series), so it’s kind of hard to explain since he walked into my head pretty much fully formed with a life background to match. Characters come to me fully fleshed out. So I guess I’ll defer to the series concept…
When I came up with the initial idea for the series, I took inspiration from other authors I admire and combined it with ideas I thought were fresh and hadn’t been done before to try and create something unique. I really enjoy the format of J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and how each book focuses on a specific brother with alternating third person points of view between the hero and heroine. As a result, when I decided to write a paranormal romance, I knew I wanted the series to be set up in a similar fashion since I enjoy that style and I wanted to focus on the male characters. Other authors I took inspiration from were Laurel K Hamilton and Charlainne Harris. I wanted to have strong, kickass heroines like Anita in Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and with the super hot sex to match. I also wanted to have a narrative voice as strong and unique as Charlainne Harris in her Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Series. With those aspects in mind, I had to come up with my own twist. The idea came really naturally. The unique thing about my series in the world of paranormal romance is that most of the characters are completely human. Though one or two of the Execution Underground members has a bit of supernatural DNA in them, in the majority they’re just humans who’ve been exceptionally trained to fight the supernatural. So rather than a paranormal romance where the hero is a vampire or some other type of supernatural hunk, my heroes are normal guys, who also just happen to be crazy weapon-wielding badasses.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Tiffany?
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Damon had a theme song, what would it be?
[Kait Ballenger] The first song that comes to mind is Passive by A Perfect Circle. That song always gets me in the mood to write and it’s what I imagine playing any time I write a scene set in a dark, shady night club (like inside Club Fantasy in the opening of Shadow Hunter). Aside from that, it also is just a pretty much perfect song for Damon.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Tiffany is never without.
[Kait Ballenger] Her stake. Tiffany is always prepped for fighting vamps. After both her parents and then later her brother are killed by vampires, Tiffany is always ready to battle the undead.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Damon’s bedroom?
[Kait Ballenger] The first thing you’d never find in Damon’s bedroom is Tiffany’s underwear—they’re in the living room, of course because they’d have been stripped off before they even reached the bed. The other two things you’d never find in Damon’s bedroom would be Viagra and lube. He’d never need them, especially when Tiff is around. 😉
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Tiffany’s greatest regret?
[Kait Ballenger] This won’t make sense for those who haven’t read the book yet, but Tiffany’s greatest regret is not having forgiven B sooner.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Kait Ballenger] Music really gets my creativity flowing, but I can only listen to it before I write, not while I’m writing. Reading a really good book or watching a really well-written T.V show or movie get me in the mood to write as well. I start thinking about how amazing the writing I just read/saw/heard is and I just want to create some of my own.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Kait Ballenger] Silence. A comfortable place to sit or lie down. And more silence haha. I’m not particular as long as I’m comfy and it’s quiet.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Kait Ballenger] I don’t get as much time to read as I like, but the last book I read that really knocked my socks off is Kate SeRine’s The Better to See You, the second novel in her Transplanted Tales series. I can’t get enough of those books. I’m dying to read Along Came a Spider soon.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Kait Ballenger] Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling hands down is what turned me on to reading. There’s no exaggeration there or second guessing there. Up until I was in fourth grade I was considered a “non-reader” in school. I really struggled with reading and was way below the normal level for my age, so as a result, I really hated it. I hadn’t found anything gripping enough that would hold my attention, because I was struggling to read through the words. Then I got my hands on the Harry Potter books and everything changed. I grew up in the greater Detroit metropolitan area, so in winter occasionally it would be so cold and icy we couldn’t go out for recess. My teacher at the time, Ms. McCartney, decided to start reading the first Harry Potter novel to the class when we had to stay inside. I was so intrigued by it I asked if I could borrow her copy to take home over Christmas break so I could keep reading. My mother, knowing how I struggled with reading, saw this and immediately bought me the first three books in the series for Christmas (those were the only ones out at the time) and I devoured them. I re-read them over and over until the next book came out, and then I did the same with the next book. Eventually, my mom and my aunt (both who have always been big readers) started passing me similar books—fantasy novels by other authors—and I started reading those too. That love of fantasy later branched out into a love of the paranormal genre. I honestly can’t express how grateful I am to Rowling for writing those books. Not only did her novels change my entire life by making me a better reader, and thus a more educated person in general (I actually started enjoying school not long after that), but she made me want to be a writer. I think if I met her I’d cry hysterically lol. Her writing changed my life, even though she has no clue who I am. That’s powerful and I hope I can do the same thing for someone one day.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Kait Ballenger] When I’m not writing I like to spend time with my husband and my family. We all love to play board games together. My husband and I also love to watch movies and TV together, specifically Supernatural and Law and Order SVU. I have two cats named Elliot and Olivia after the characters. I also love to read, of course, and I also love to dance. I’m an Egyptian cabaret bellydancer (I used to dance professionally at regular gigs, but not on a regular basis anymore).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Kait Ballenger] Readers can connect with me via my author Facebook page and Twitter, if they want to chat. If anyone just wants to send me fan mail though, they can send it to my email, which can be found on my webpage www.kaitballenger.com I’d seriously love to get some fan mail at some point. I can’t promise I’ll respond, but I’d love to try.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
Shadow Hunter, which is part of the After Dark anthology, from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:
About the book:
A timeless seduction A unique temptation And a whole world of dark desires…
From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter
The Darkest Angel
Winged warrior Lysander has been alive for centuries, and yet he’s never known desire-until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of his enemy, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the untouched Lysander into temptation. He may try to evade her attempts, but even the most iron-willed demon assassin can resist for only so long….
And from debut author Kait Ballenger
Vampire hunter Damon Brock’s first assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead. But he isn’t the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family-and she works solo. But being alone is no longer so desirable when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. As they work to massacre the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they are forced to decide between their lifelong beliefs… and their newfound hearts
Monica Witte has life the way she likes it. She comes home to be babied every few months and the rest of the time she has no strings holding her back. But after her horse is injured in a rodeo performance, Monica knows it’s time to come home and face her family – warts and all.
Trickett Samuels works best on his own. The large-animal vet likes his quiet life in the Texas countryside. When Monica Witte blows into town, demanding a quick fix to her horse’s big issues, his life is turned upside down. Trickett doesn’t understand Monica’s need to perform before perfect strangers or why she wants to keep the truth of their relationship from her family. And the more he gets to know her, the more he wonders if he can convince this Texas girl that having roots will only help her soar higher.
When I was approached by the author to review What a Texas Girl Dreams, I hesitated for about a millisecond. How could I turn down a book about a vet and a rodeo star with an injured horse? I couldn’t! I can’t resist books with horses, even though they are becoming the bane of my existence (yes, Elle, I am referring to you).
Monica Witte competes on the rodeo circuit, and she likes her life just the way it is. Living out of a suitcase, racing barrels with her trusted horse Jinx, hooking up with no commitments when the mood moves her. After she meets Trick, a large animal vet practicing in her small hometown in Texas, her mind is more on the man than on the barrels. After Jinx is injured at a rodeo, she sets aside her pride and heads back home, hoping the rehab her horse and then hit the road again. But when Trick examines Jinx, the prognosis isn’t good. He suggests that Jinx’s career might be over, but Monica won’t accept that. She thinks that Trick is trying to keep her in Lockhardt, close at hand. When therapy sessions don’t seem to be helping, Monica starts to worry that he might be right. Then she starts itching to be home in Austin, training her other horse, despite her feelings for Trick. She just wants to be on the road again, safe from her confusing feelings for him. She’s not cut out for a long term relationship, and being in Lockhardt has her so confused she doesn’t know what to do.
At first, I did not like Monica. She seemed so selfish to me. It’s obvious that her horse has a catastrophic injury, but she doesn’t want to accept it. Instead, she thinks that Trick is just trying to make her stick around so they can continue the affair that she started with him a few weeks ago. She thinks that if she just increases the rehab time, Jinx’s leg will get better and she will be able to compete with him again. Then I started see that most of Monica’s behavior is based on fear. Fear that Jinx won’t get better. Fear that she’ll fall in love with Trick and then make him hate her because the rodeo is in her blood. Fear of what she’ll do and who she’ll be if she can’t race barrels again. Once I understood that she’s just afraid of being hurt or of hurting Trick, I started to like her. A lot. It just took a few chapters to see where she was coming from.
Monica hasn’t had a happy childhood. Her father couldn’t commit to one woman, and he fathered three children with three different women. Then he remained a distant figure in her life. She barely knows her siblings, and she has allowed all of these factors to convince her that a committed relationship is impossible for her. She’s too much like her father and has too much drifter in her to settle down with one man and raise a family. From the moment she meets Trick, though, she is obsessed with him. He’s on her mind day and night, and she just can’t get him out of her head. What she thinks she wants with him is a no commitment fling; she makes him promise to keep their relationship a secret and to not let her family know anything about it.
What I liked about Trick is that he realized that Monica was skittish as newborn filly, and he gave her the space she asked for – at first. When he decides that things need to be a little more agreeable for him, he starts courting her. I thought he was sweet and thoughtful, and that he weighed his need to have Monica by his side with her fear of committing. He never pushed too hard, and he let her think she was calling the shots. He was willing to compromise to keep her, even if she wasn’t as willing to do the same.
What a Texas Girl Dreams is a fast, passionate beach read, perfect for an afternoon by the pool. I’m curious to read more by Kristina Knight, because this book pushed all the right buttons for me.