Saturday, February 13, 2010

Darkness of the Wolf wins CataRomance Reviewers Choice

DARKNESS OF THE WOLF, my Nocturne Bite, has won a CataNetwork Reviewers' Choice Award for 2009.

This personally means a lot to me, as that story was set on a fictional island meant to resemble Haiti, and one of the hotels was modeled after the Hotel Montana, the hotel where I wrote part of the story while in Haiti.

The Montana was my "home" in Haiti for 16 years. That hotel collapsed during the earthquake and several people were killed.

I'll be back in Haiti next week, touring tent cities and areas where my organization is building about 300 houses a month. Another 100 homes will be built in northern Haiti to accomodate families with relatives who fled Port au Prince after the earthquake. We're also building pit latrines in camps.

In other news, Jennifer Ashley and I will be presenting a workshop at RWA National called "Putting on Your Shorts." Jennifer is the NY Times-best selling author of Pride Mates. WOOT! Congrats Jennifer! Pride Mates is one of the books I'm taking to Haiti to give to friends who asked me to bring them romance novels.

Here's an excerpt from Darkness of the Wolf.

They could kill him. Now. Or wait. He’d gone past caring.

No one would mourn his death. Guy Laurent was alone in the world. The thought made him ache. In his world of Draicon werewolves, anyone who used to know him thought he was already dead.

Huddled in a corner of his cage at the Savage Kingdom Zoo, he lay with his head between his paws. He stared at the steel bars prohibiting escape. Disguised as a real zoo, the facility was a prison for werecreatures who were forced into their animal forms during the day for unknowing human visitors.

A little girl licking an ice cream stopped before his exhibit as her mother sat on a bench feeding a toddler. The child looked upset. “Please don’t be sad, wolf.” She held out her cone. “You can have my ice cream.”

No one ever gave him anything without a price. But he still had a soft spot left for children. Guy loped toward the bars, wishing he could smile at her.

His keeper approached, knocked her hand away, sending her ice cream toppling.
“Hey, you stupid kid, don’t feed the animals!”

The girl started crying.

A low growl rumbled from Guy. He glared at the demon and charged the cage.
Electricity zapped his powerful body. Uncaring, he pawed through the bars, wanting to hurt the demon for upsetting the child.

The little girl screamed. “Mama, the wolf’s going to hurt me!” Guy watched in pained bewilderment as she ran off. I was only trying to help you.

When would he ever learn that nothing good came of helping others?

The demon pressed a box on his belt. The Ident chip buried beneath Guy’s skin sent painful pulses through him. He yipped, shaking his head, trying to get rid of the agony.

Later, they came for him. In human form now, he was naked. Using the Ident chips injected into each werecreature, their demon keepers restricted their magick and forced all the prisoners into their human forms long after the zoo had closed.

The garrote around his neck choked him as they paraded him off to the shed. The demons stretched him out as they tied him to the punishment posts. The leather whip cracked through the air. Guy tensed. Salt on the whip’s silver studs ensured his wounds would scar.

A cold night wind whistled over his body as they dumped him into the cage after his beating. The winter chill infiltrating central Florida felt like needles stinging his shivering flesh.

“Rough day?”

At the sound of that familiar, deep voice, Guy raised his head and snarled.

“Come to finish off what the demons didn’t, Phoenix?”

The tall, dark-haired man standing before him raised every hair on Guy’s nape. Tristan was a Phoenix, one of the immortal Justice Guardians who oversaw all werecreatures.

“If I were, I’d have given you to the Draicon executioner instead of confining you here.”

“Fine. Now get the hell out of here. You’re blocking my view,” Guy muttered.

“How would you like to be free?”

Agony flared on his back. “I’ve been tortured enough today. Save it for tomorrow, when the demons get bored.”

“I never torture. Not my style. This is legit,” Tristan sat cross-legged before him.

“They told me the only way I’m getting out of here is in a coffin.”

“I have final authority here. How does visiting Ile a Sanglier in the Caribbean sound?”

Wild boar island. “Why, they have a new zoo they want to display me?”

“You have a friend there. Bernard Belizaire. Bernard acts as sort of a resource coordinator for Draicon on the island and keeps tabs on everything that happens. He helped several Draicon packs settle on Ile a Sanglier years ago. Recently, the oldest pack vanished.” Tristan’s green gaze met his. “They were slaughtered by Morphs.”

Guy swore softly. Morphs, former Draicon who turned to evil for greater power by killing a close relative, were their race’s greatest threat.

“The Quartermaines left the States, but their alpha, Dell, kept tabs on them through Bernard. Dell wants Brianna, the youngest Draicon. She managed to escape, and make it to a Draicon safe house. Your job is to be bodyguard for Brianna and help Kayla Morris, the woman hired to find and bring Brianna back to Dell. We need a Draicon who is a good fighter and will keep Brianna safe until her return to the States.”

“Why can’t Bernard do it himself? Or this Kayla person?”

Tristan’s jaw tightened. “He admitted he can’t protect her from Morphs. He has a rare condition and his senses, especially hearing and smell, are failing. Kayla lacks Draicon powers. She’s been hired because Brianna only trusts females. If you do this, you can go free.”

“And you’re offering me this out the goodness of that black ice you call a heart?”

His windpipe compressed as Tristan squeezed a fist, clutching nothing more than air. “Watch it, wolf.”

Tristan released him. Guy rubbed his aching throat.

“And why should I trust you when you put me in here?” he demanded.

“You’re here because you killed your pack alpha.”

“I’m here because of Anne. I warned her Simon was turning evil and I was going to take him out. So she told Simon. He went after me, I killed him and then Carl, Simon’s beta, took over. Carl got leadership and I got prison.”

He’d foolishly warned Anne to keep her safe, failing to see her blind loyalty to their leader. He should have known better than to put a woman’s needs before his own.

Tristan stood, shadowing Guy with his tall body. “Because you saved the pack by killing Simon, you’re here instead of six feet under. You knew the rules. You should have told Carl, who would have alerted the Kallan to execute Simon. The Kallan is immortal and the pack would have respected his authority. Instead, you killed Simon and nearly involved your pack in a brutal war over who believed you and who didn’t. You’re a rogue who can’t follow orders.”

“And you think I can follow rules now?” he taunted. Damn, he still had freshly bleeding stripes on his back to prove otherwise.

“I’m giving you this chance to see if you can.” The Phoenix flashed him a dark smile.

Freedom. So close he could taste it. Guy squeezed his aching fists. “I’ll do it. What about the Ident?”

“It stays in until you deliver the girl to Dell. A little insurance in case you take a detour.” Tristan looked impassive. “I’m deactivating it, but in five days, starting it up again unless you deliver the girl.”

The thought of the chip still buried inside him rankled Guy. He took a deep breath.

“Just remember deliver Brianna to Dell or you’re back here. And you won’t leave until you’re in a coffin.” Tristan paused. “When she shows up tomorrow, go easy on Kayla. She usually avoids Draicon.”

“Sure, I’ll take it easy on the human.”

Tristan smiled. “I never said Kayla was human.”

“What the hell is she?”

“Your destiny.”

Fear and rage roared through Guy. “The hell with destiny, Phoenix. I’ve spent 30 years locked up because a woman betrayed me. You call that my destiny, too?”

“Kayla isn’t Trish, Guy. She has no pack loyalty.”

Guy shook his head. “Every wolf for himself.”

“We’ll see,” Tristan murmured as he vanished.


Patti O'Shea said...

Congratulations, Bonnie!


GladysMP said...

Bonnie, Happy Valentine's Day!

Bonnie Vanak said...

Thanks Patti and Gladys! Have a great week!