Showing posts with label Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romance. Show all posts

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Thinking About Some Boys-Boys in Space #PRIDE Readings

This is going to be interesting. LGBTQ. Space Opera. Drama. Princes. Romance. And sinister, conniving villains. At least I think these two books have that much in common. Regardless, I’ve always kept my eye out on reading them both, in the hopes that I will enjoy them and proceed forward in each individual series. I got a good word for Bonds of Brass from the librarian who checked me out. She commented that I had “good taste in books”. She was remarking about how much she enjoyed Bonds of Brass herself. She and I were both unsure of Winter’s Orbit but were optimist that it would be a blast to read as well. I've made it my job to return to her with a good or bad word about the book.

Well, here goes…

I might skip reading Michael Nava's Rag and Bones from my TBR for now. To, of course, immediately get into these space operas.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Connections in Death - J. D. Robb & Eve Dallas TIME!

"Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads―and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering―whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Dust jacket/Flaps

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison―and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Inside flap.  A New York map marked with all the 1st murders from each book

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…"

A puzzle.  Can you solve where the next book's murder will take place?

Connections in Death by J. D. Robb (Amazon affiliate link)

Monday, December 10, 2018

CHOP IT UP: Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper

"What if you can enter a madman's cruel mind as he plans his vicious crimes? 
What if you can see the terrified face of his prey as he moves in for the kill -- but you can't stop his frenzy once he strikes? 
Psychic Cassie Neill helps the L.A. police catch killers -- until she makes a terrible mistake and an innocent child dies. Cassie flees to a small North Carolina town, hoping that a quiet life will silence the voices that invade her unwilling mind. But Cassie's abilities know few boundaries. And she's become certain -- as no one else can be -- that a murderer is stalking Ryan's Bluff. 
It's his fury that Cassie senses first, then his foul thoughts and perverse excitement. Yet she doesn't know who he is or where he will strike. The sheriff won't even listen to her -- until the first body is found exactly where and how she predicted. Now a suspect herself, she races desperately to unmask the killer in the only way she knows: by entering his twisted mind. Her every step is loaded with fear and uncertainty... because if he senses her within him, he'll trap her there, so deep she'll never find her way out."
Stealing Shadows is the first book in Kay Hooper's Noah Bishop series. And the hook to her Bishop series is he’s a psychic detective. Specifically, one who runs a division of psychic detectives thriving as FBI agents. Interesting and exciting stuff, right? Well, in Bishop's 2000 debut, he played a secondary role to a pretty stringent romance.

Which almost stuck an ice pick in my poor balloon of new series hope.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Aquarius View: The Next Always by Nora Roberts

"The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, the changing of hands, and even rumored hauntings. Now it's getting a major face-lift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect in the family, Beckett's social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there's another project he's got his eye on: the girl he's been waiting to kiss since he was sixteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town's bookstore. Though busy and with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett's transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer both the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett is happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time, in between blueprint meetings and kindergarten pickups. It's no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something that could arouse the secret yearning that resides in Clare's independent heart - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next..."

Headache Free Zone
Let’s get a little bit into this contemporary romance touched with paranormal and predictable-cheesy-stalker-antagonist love story.
I liked The Next Always, and look forward to catching the next two acts in the trilogy with stars and hope in my eyes.  You see, neither the heroine nor hero of The Next Always aggravated me–which is always a plus for an emotionally detached Aquarius such as myself.  But let me tell you why I found myself pleased with the characters, while extending my hope for the same consistency in the next entries.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lighting Nora Roberts

"Malory Price’s life plan has hit a snag. She’s in danger of losing her job managing an art gallery in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania. A welcome distraction comes in the form of an invitation to a cocktail party at Warrior’s Peak, an infamous estate overlooking the town. But no one else she knows has been invited…

There are only two other guests: Dana Steele, a librarian, and Zoe McCourt, a single mother. On the surface, it seems the women have nothing in common, until their mysterious hosts tell them a story—and offer them a challenge.

Legend has it that the souls of three demigoddesses—one an artist, one a bard, and one a warrior—have been locked in a box that has three keys. Now it’s up to Malory and the others to find the keys. Their reward: a million dollars each.

It all seems too bizarre to be true. But none of them can ignore the financial windfall they stand to gain. And now Malory—with her soul of an artist and eye for beauty—must find her key first. She soon discovers that whatever locked the souls away is dark, powerful, and greedy…and it doesn’t want the women to win."
~ Key of Light from Goodreads

Drawn by the blue cover, deckle edges, and French flaps; I had to grab this Nora Roberts read.  Oh, and the sudden impulse for a little romance did its job calling me.  Nonetheless, the premise seemed exciting as well.  Though I’d hoped the subject of mythical keys and demigoddess wasn’t so literally in its context.  That’s right, this is a supernaturally decorated romance novel.  And first in Roberts’s Key Trilogy
But like I said, I was hoping the supernatural aspect would curve toward something believably delivered.  Something tangible and constructed with the author’s sleight of hand using character and plot.  Otherwise, the supernatural element created these ambiguous setups and circumstances.  Many consisted of characters falling into lucid, foggy visions and stepping into mind portals.  That sort of thing–if you will.  Even so, the book didn’t necessarily slip in its romantic-driven direction.  That was sharp with or without the supernatural.  But however sharp and clear it appeared, it wasn't as inspiring as I’d hope.  Because frankly, I found the romantic partners weak as a unit but stronger as individuals.  Why?  The balance...

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Nora Roberts Takeover (NR Haul)

I may have slipped up somewhere–being somewhat of a promiscuous reader.  However, recently I’ve been buying Nora Roberts novels.  Part of this sudden burst of the Roberts stems from something as simple as the aesthetics of these new/re-released trade paperbacks I'm going to show you.  Call it marking, call it subliminal messages; either way they’re beautiful books with their wispy covers, deckled-edges, and French flaps.  They seem to demand for my cloudy belief in romance to try and try again not to float completely away.  Though Roberts hardly–I deeply stress "hardly"–write the kind of romance I can identify with.  I won't get into the differences and distinctions.  Otherwise, I'll lose focus of this post by moving into hotter topics.
Now it’s no question or wonder how I’m obsessed with Roberts’ J. D. Robb brand; the In Death series means the world to me if you don't know by now.  Yet, at one point during my trek through that 40+ book series, I decided I didn’t care for her Roberts writings.  You see, in the past I tried the first book in her Bride Quartet, Sign of Seven Trilogy, and Circle Trilogy series.  And neither of those three panned out beyond the first book.  In a matter-of-fact, I DNF’ed book one in the Bride Quartet series 50 pages in (the character had zero personality worth sticking around with).  At one point I also decided to pass on Roberts' romance thrillers, after a bored-out-of-my-mind tryst with Black Hills back in 2009.

So I suppose there are many variables asking me to attempt to gorge myself on Roberts.  One seems to be her aesthetically pleasing books.  Second, a need for a little romantic reading.  Third, familiarity/loyalty to Robb.  Finally, a general compulsion to provide innumerable chances for her to win me over.
Roberts does contemporary romance and romance with supernatural elements.  So I decided it was best I select books I felt had a touch of something I would find appealing in both areas.  Here's what I came up with!  (All synopsis are provided by Goodreads.)

"The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, the changing of hands, and even rumored hauntings. Now it's getting a major face-lift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect in the family, Beckett's social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there's another project he's got his eye on: the girl he's been waiting to kiss since he was sixteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town's bookstore. Though busy and with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett's transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer both the building and the man behind it."
"When Malory Price is issued with the above invitation she is naturally suspicious, especially as Warrior's Peak is a local mansion straight out of a Hollywood movie. But with her overdraft at crisis limit and on the verge of losing her job at a local art gallery, she has little to lose by attending the event.

Only Malory is about to get more than she bargained for. At Warrior's Peak she finds that she and two other women are the only guests of their mysterious hosts. They are told an amazing story of magic, gods and goddesses; and of three demi-goddesses who have been cast into an eternal sleep, their mortal souls placed under lock and key. And in every generation, three women are born who alone have the power to free them - if they are prepared to accept the challenge."
"With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.


County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits.

Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horseman, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package."
4.  Shadow Spell: Book Two of the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy
"With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…

A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.

Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle."

So that's what I got so far.  Personally, I can't wait to see how these books go.  And believe me when I say I'll be sure to post about my experience (my thoughts on Key of Light will be up soon).  Have you read any of these books?  If so, give me a ballpark view into what I'm getting myself in to.  Good.  Bad.  Indifferent.  I would like to hear it all!  Especially from the NR super readers.
Or do you have any Nora Roberts recommendations?  Actually, what's your first and favorite Nora Roberts book and why?  
Share in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

GUEST POST: Ink by Glenn Benest & Dale Pitman

Ink by Glenn Benest & Dale Pitman

His studio has become his refuge and his prison - a place of boundless imagination and lonely isolation. Brian Archer, creator of a series of successful graphic novels about a vengeful supernatural being called “The Highwayman,” 
has become a recluse after the adoration of a female fan turned to rage and violence.

But all that changes when he meets a renowned and beautiful illustrator, A.J. Hart, who carries emotional scars of her own. Their work together is fueled by the unrequited passion they share, and a mysterious bottle of black ink that arrives one day at Brian’s doorstep.

The impossibly dark liquid has mystical properties, making their characters appear so real they eventually come to life, reigning terror on those who mean them harm and if not stoppedthreatens to unleash an apocalypse on all mankind. Brian must break free of his self-imposed exile and solve the mystery that allowed these terrible creatures into the world.


Here I am again on earth, this time in a frigid and desolate land. The ice on the ground is broken like glass, and the air . . . the air is so cold a man’s blood will have frozen like ice crystals after his last breath.

If I feel anything at all, it is for this animal, my warhorse, the black nightmare, Devlin. We have been together for so long now, and the beast has never let me down, not once. Neither Devlin nor I feel the bitter cold as we cross these haunted skies through the black, whirling vapors on currents of air. We can only imagine the bitter chill, like two actors pretending, because he, like me, is spirit.

I used to feel as mortals feel, but it was so long ago. Memories impose upon me such emptiness. What is the point of more sadness and regret? Hasn’t the world had enough? To bear my burden, with the curse I’ve been given, would crush it completely. So I must control these . . . memories. I must push them down, each fragment like the shattered ice below.

I have a job to do. I seek a human, and not just any human, but one who has just been killedmurdered, through no fault of his own. My services are required. So I continue.

I’ve been around for a very long time. Too long to even considermillions, billions or maybe even trillions of years. That is the nature of curses. You lose time, which is another thing I dont really like to think about, for it weighs heavily upon me.

Charnel winds accost us as Devlin and I cross a burial ground down below. I will surely plant another body here (or maybe three) before the night is through. The thought brings a sly smile.

I have seen it all. Things that would make humans shudder. The inhumanity of the Pharaohs, who put the youngest of their kind to deathstill, to this day, their innocent cries echo in my ears. Ive seen Roman emperors crucifying Christians for sport, and here, now, in the New World of America, I see the slaughter of native people and other terrible injustices at the hands of those who wield power. My task is to level the playing field. To bring order out of chaos. To exact justice. Though I take comfort in my purpose, I grow weary of man’s appetite for violence.

Devlin and I arrive on the shoreline at Boston Harbor. The dead man’s disembodied spirit rises from the deep water, confused at his predicament. I wait in the shadows. I don’t want to frighten the poor creature unnecessarily, as I am not pleasant to look upon.

Finally, he spots me and howls. It is a lot to take in. He sees, under the blackness of my cloak, my purplish skin. He sees my nose, skeletal and fleshless, my mouth, misshapen and my eyes, pupil-less and unearthly; not to mention the three fingers protruding from each claw-like fist. I howled, too, the first time I saw myself as I am now. Not a welcome dinner guest, I can assure you. But once . . . long ago . . . I somehow recall that I was rather nice-looking. A strong nose, with heavy eyebrows that rested above pale blue, unsettled eyes.

I struggle to push the memory down but find myself wondering if I had ever loved a woman like that of the man I have come to bury. Devlin snorts, tearing me away from my thoughts. We stand by and linger patiently in the shadows. I stroke Devlin’s withers. When you have been doing this as long as I have, you know when the time is right.

“Lord Jesus Christ,” the soul weeps. “Holy Mary, Mother of all Salvation.” He realizes now that his body had died and his soul is in its unfinished state.

“Where am I?” he screams. “What has become of me? Surely I am in Hell, to look upon a demon such as you!”

Not all had cried out for their gods, but all had said the same regarding my appearance. I cannot hold it against them. I must wait until he is ready. He cannot feel his physical body, only the unbearable pain of loss and anguish. Like a drowning man, he grasps to hold on to a life that is no longer there. He struggles to hold on to memories of all that he shared with those he loved.

“Do not fear,” I assure him, “I am no demon.” His eyes search me for trickery. “It seems to me a soul in your predicament might requirejustice. I know the word is sweet music, and so the spectral form before me draws closer.

“Yes,” the dead man cries. “Retribution against those who killed my beloved wife and child.”

“Justice requires sacrifice. Come, be with me and you shall have it. I assure you, no demon would make that promise.” And I would know, as there was One that was sure to come for him if he did not accept my offer.

As my soul-traveler and I unite, the transformation takes placeevery cell of my body explodesevery one of my nerve endings impaled by tiny burning blades of fire. No man could endure such torture, but I am no man. I hesitate to share the agony, and those of you of delicate constitutions should probably skip this part, but how else could you understand my story?

To make it brief, my eyes feel as though they are being wrenched from their sockets; my blood, though not like yours, boils; my heart, though not of human composition, feels as if a giant hand of molten lava has torn it from my chest and incinerates it to ashes in its fist.

This is the curse my Creator imposes: He who made me what I am. And now you understand my predicament as the pain of this man's life consumes me, and I finally feel truly alive once again.

At last it is over, and the innocent one I’ve joined with is fully a part of me now and under my control. I breathe a huge sigh of relief, and become aware of my surroundings once again.

I take another look around, breathing in the briny air of the sea. Strangely enough my senses are quite acute, though I have no sense of taste. It’s unusual, as taste has so much to do with smell; but I am, if nothing else, a bundle of contradictions.

Finally, we are now fully joined. I experience each of his thoughts and emotions as if they were my own: the rage of betrayal, the horror of losing a loved one. He is furiousas they all are. As you would be. It is quite exciting what they feel. I am not being mordant. I am merely stating a fact.

When death comes, as it will for you and all whom you love, you will, at that moment, hunger more for life than you have in your entire existence. Perhaps the telling of my story will help you humans grab life, as death will mercilessly grab youwith fearless wonder. As for me, the experience of your death is as close to being alive as inhumanly possible.

As I envelope him in the shell of my being, I let the grieving soul know that loneliness and anguish are no longer his concern. At least for a whileno more sorrow. I offer him the one thing he desires more than all elsejustice. He glows and pulses within me and we understand each other as only true confidants can.


As I take flight on Devlin, I see Will’s life flash before me. It happens in an instant, in the time it takes to snuff out a candle. I can see Will and his wife Liza celebrating her pregnancy, when three men burst into their humble dwelling and murder them in cold blood. I feel Will’s pain, loss and torment just as he does, and yet something else stirs within. Long forgotten images flood my mind and infuse my senses, like ink bleeding into coarse paper.

I sense a connection to Will, that somehow his story parallels mine. Could that be? For once I don’t suppress memories, but struggle to resurrect them. I see an ancient city of titan blocks and monoliths of dripping stone. I see faces that are so familiar to me. Did I once live there as a human? Were these my friends? I cannot tell you how this moves me, when a voice interrupts from within.

 “It was Robert,” my fellow traveler says. “I do not call him brother, but executioner. His murderous plan proved a success.”

“Or so it seems,” I reply.

I know of course of whom he speaksbecause every memory Will possesses is a part of me as wellRobert, his wifes brother, who had pledged Liza to another to pay off gambling debts. Thats why the couple fled to the colonies. When their father died unexpectedly, his only son squandered his inheritance. So Robert murdered his sister and Will for her half of the family fortune.

As I continue my flight, the haunting of my hidden past fades away. The winds die down and the bloated moon disappears from sight. Overhead, the new-risen sun shines bright onto glistening fields. As Devlin carries me across the sky, I feel Will’s wrath as well.

“Patience,” I counsel my passenger. “It won’t be long now."


That evening, three men emerge from a tavern: Robert, his lawyer and the magistrate, who has just bequeathed Robert the titles and monies for which he murdered. Robert’s mood is buoyant. He gives each man a bag of coins and slaps them on the back. Numbed by grog, the lawyer and the magistrate stumble off in one direction, Robert in another.

We watch them from a factory roof, satisfied with the knowledge that Will’s soul will soon find release. I’m unseen by humans, as we blaze across the night sky on my warhorse, a flood of energy surging through me, a force so powerful, the very elements join in.

Thunder crashes, lightning illuminates the sky. I am in my element all right, as the inhabitants of Boston recognize at once that a dark, powerful presence is at hand. Everyone looks up and runs toward home. Do they sense some dark magic in the air? Certainly they would not be too far off, for it is a kind of witchcraft that my Creator employs to draw me and my kind into existence.

Nearby, Robert’s two hired assassins share a pint of rum in the abandoned town square. A frigid, ferocious gale blows so fiercely, it tears the flask from their hands and throws both men to the ground.

“Guess who?” I settle gently to earth.

Did I mention Devlin and I can materialize in physical form as well? Yes, it’s true, and not that hard to do. As I matured over countless millennia, my Creator allowed my powers to grow, and thus I appear before their eyes.

The killers gape at my face and tremble. In my bottomless orbs they both see what they have donethe murder of innocent Liza, Wills pregnant wife, and the death by torture of her husband, Will. They witness the crime in all its gory detail and shudder at its consequences.

“WhaWhat are you?one of the men gasps.

“Your escort to the beyond.”

“‘Tis a terrible thing, it tis,” the other killer manages to say. “But it weren’t us.”

I want to laugh out loud at that moment but restrain myself, turning to the one who resides within. For it is he who must decide their fatenot I.

“So what shall it be?” I ask Will in silence. “Which will bring you justice? Vengeance or mercy?”

Of course, I know his answer before he does.

“Vengeance,” he answers.

“Well said,” I reply, as Devlin rears up at my command, then rains down. His formidable hooves bash the thugs’ skulls to mush.

I can feel Will’s terrible joy as he gazes at his killers’ broken bodies, their blood nourishing the frosty soil.

That finished, we have yet just begun. We spot Robert as he turns toward a Gothic cathedral. Devlin takes flight again, climbs high at my behest. Barely a blur, we plummet toward our target. I sweep Lord Robert off his feet and carry him away.

The newly titled nobleman kicks and claws as I hold him, vice-like, then dangle him a hundred feet above St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

He screams with unholy dread: “God’s blood, let me go, I beseech thee!”

I turn his face toward my hideous semblance of one and make him gaze into the inky blackness of my eyes. It is there that he finally sees what he has done.

“Oh, Jesus, God, forgive my sins, I pray thee, please!”

I scan his innermost being to find what humans call a soul, only to discover it was lost long ago. I allow Robert to see Will’s face in my eyes, for only Will can choose between vengeance and mercy.

“This was not supposed to be, Will,” Robert pleads. “No real harm was intended, but now, because those murderers couldn’t be trusted, you and my beloved sister are dead. And for that, I deserve to die as well.”

 He is bluffing and lying. I sense with growing alarm something even more malevolent lurking within. It is the Other. My nemesis. With this realization, I almost drop my prize.

I can feel Will’s rage building. He wants nothing more than to take his revenge and quell the terrible pain of loss.

But then she appears, hovering above. It is Liza, not her body, of course, but it is she nevertheless, as plain as any mortal who ever walked the earth. I sense her, feel the bright light she emanates, beauty and goodness glowing in the air all around us as she
manifests. I am suddenly paralyzed by her appearance, as if struck by a bolt of lightning.

She calls out to her beloved: “Let it be, Will,” she says to him. “Come with me now. Join me forever.”

I sense Will hesitating, fighting himself from within. I can feel his heart break as he turns to her, their love dragging him away from the task at hand.

I want to tell him to finish thisfor there are greater stakes involved than just one man’s death. I want to tell him that this murderer dangling from my fist has been corrupted, and there is nothing for Will left to forgive. I want to tell him that the balance of good and evil can only be restored if he finishes this one last act.

But I cannot speak. Not while this shining creature hovers above our heads.

Liza fills Will’s heart with the passion they shared, destroying any rancor lurking there. And because we are joined, I experience it, toothe sacrifice and the rapture of true love. To feel as humans do makes me shudder with pain, a terrible heartache I have tried to bury since my birth.

Before me, Will finally surrenders his hatred to join her one last time.

“Let him be,” says Will inside me. “It is, at last, what Liza desires. He is her flesh and blood, after all. My lust for vengeance is fulfilled.”

He turns and speaks to the reprobate before us. “I forgive you, Robert.”

 “But Will,” I finally manage to say, “he is not worthy.”

And then I sense Liza’s eyes turn towards mine and it is I to whom she speaks.

“Will you let him go?” she entreats me, softly.

Her words are much sweeter than mine, and I only feel shame as she speaks to me. All my dark deeds rise up in my throat like bile and I feel nothing but self-reproach and regret. No one in my endless existence has ever asked what she has. I cannot speak for what seems like an eternity, but finally I am unable to deny her.

“He is yours now.”

I give up my prize like a doting father bidding farewell to his dearest son, knowing full well he will never see him again.

“Go,” I tell Will. “She is waiting for you.”

I watch with envy as he joins his beloved. And then, how can I describe the terrible loss I feel as he departs from my form and this world? It is worse than any parting in my endless past, for this being and his loved one have touched me in a way I cannot fathom.

Now that Will and Liza are gone, I am just a
hollow vessel once again, facing nothing but loneliness and exile for as long as time stretches out into the vast sea of eternity.

Just as I’m about to be swallowed whole by this emptiness, another sensation fills my mind with sudden dread. From the corners of my consciousness, I feel her power grow, even before I see her.

A midnight blue, reptilian tongue snakes forth from Robert’s mouth, and his entire body grows larger before me, hovering in the air, until it bursts apart at last like an over-ripe melon.

It is my nemesis, the Ancient One, who wants nothing more than to destroy humankind. I glimpse a massive head with large, liquid eyes. Instead of hair, eels curl and hiss around a leering face and slither down her monstrous, curvaceous body.

She enjoys my revulsion as the blood of Robert’s dead body drips down her face. It is the nauseating, orange-scaled creature with the murderous, lascivious nature and yellow eyes. Morrigan.

Queen of demons and all that is unholy.

She is responsible for Robert’s murderous bent. She gained access to his soul when Robert first turned to darkness. Robert’s evil nature allowed her to fester there, and then like the tapeworm she mimics, she slowly devoured her host’s last vestige of human decency.

“Hello, old friend,” she calls to me, licking the gore from her face. “If you like, keep the carcass, I have the soul!”

She loves that line and can’t help taunting me every chance she gets. She clutches the noisome appendage, Robert’s spirit, a dying orb, pulsating in the darkness.

I shake with rage. If only Will had allowed me to kill Robert, then I could have delivered him to the in-between world and freed him from Morrigan’s clutches. Every being the monster imprisons increases her might. If the scales tipped in her favor, she would unleash her forces to destroy every life form known on earth. I am the only power in the universe that can stop her.

But today I must accept another setback. The last thing I see as I fade away is my enemy, grinning triumphantly. Above, the sky cracks apart, revealing a Stygian legion of the damned. In her grasp, the once luminescent soul glows like hot lava, then turns to a flat, flaming disc in her clutches. Robert’s tortured face appears on the disc as she flings it skyward to join her evil army waiting there, welcoming yet another soldier to their ranks.

Sometimes, at moments like this, I am ashamed to confess, I long for one thing and one thing onlydeathan end to my ordeal. But then, who would take up this burden and who would care for Devlin, my one dear friend in the entire cosmos?

As my consciousness fades and I’m relegated to the netherworld, where not even light exists, I hold onto the joy I experienced for that one golden moment: the love shared between Will and Liza. It wells up in my cold, empty heart and somehow allows me a glimpse into the darkness that is my past. I, who have existed since man’s very beginning (in that land of monolithic stone, perhaps?), I know now, for I feel it, toothat once I loved and was loved in return.

I keep that one cherished thought safe and protected in the innermost recesses of my mind, as I sink back into oblivion and wait for another voice to summon me. It won’t be longbut it will seem an eternityuntil I am called upon once again to host another soul’s quest for its release; but for now I wait in silence. In darkness as black as ink. Such is my curse.

I am The Highwayman.


           Ink began as a screenplay I wrote with my writing partner, Dale Pitman.  We won some awards for this script, but never got over the hurdle of getting it sold or optioned.
So a good friend of ours–who later became our manager–Mary Louise Gemmill of Artists Ascending, recommended we write it as a novel.  I had never written one–so I was a bit hesitant.  Finally, I saw the value of Gemmill's suggestion.  I could see the story becoming quite effective in its intended genre.
So we started and, four years later, here we are.  We had many beta readers give us feedback, and there were many re-writes to follow.  We never considered things like what P.O.V. should we write this novel in; should it be first, third person, or omniscient?  And we had to find the voice of the narrative, which is something you don't really think about much in a screenplay.  Questions such as "who is telling the story" and "is this voice compelling" also came to mind.  
It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually we discovered our protagonist.  The protagonist is a graphic novelist, who has a series of successful books called The Highwayman.  The Highwayman himself is a cursed, supernatural entity who's been around for thousands of years.  When a person is wantonly murdered, The Highwayman appears to that person's soul and asks:  "Do you want justice?"  Should the soul answer yes, The Highwayman orders the soul to come with him.  That soul then enters the host of The Highwayman to take his or her vengeance.
So there are really two stories taking place.  The first story follows the protagonist, Brian Archer, and his love affair with his illustrator, A.J. Hart.  Both have been damaged, but together they find love.  Then there's the chapters featuring the perspective of The Highwayman.  When we finally decided to write The Highwayman chapters in the first person, and the protagonist's story in the third, that became our breakthrough.


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