A familiar face joins us today as Jessica Andersen celebrates the release of the fifth book in her wonderful, hot Nightkeepers paranormal romance series. For those of you who're new to the Lair, Jessica's debut Harlequin Intrigue was an RT Top Pick. Her Intrigues have made category bestseller lists and have been nominated for the RITA Award. Welcome, Jessica!
Hi Banditas! It’s great to be back—thanks to Nancy for setting this up, and to you for joining me to celebrate the release week of the fifth Nightkeeper novel, BLOOD SPELLS ☺.
First, the blurb:
Mayan lore and modern science warn that 12/21/2012 will bring a global cataclysm, and dark forces stand poised to crush mankind. Our only hope rests with a secret group of modern magic-wielders called Nightkeepers, who gain their full powers by finding and winning their destined mates. But what happens when the mated bond unravels?
Patience and Brandt were both living in the human world when they met, married, and had twin sons … but when the Nightkeepers are recalled to duty, cracks appear in a marriage founded on secrecy and lies. Now, with their sons sent into hiding and the demonic threat kicking into high gear, they’re living separate lives, unable to reconnect … and not sure they want to.
They’re forced to team up once more when an ancient Aztec god-king arises, threatening the very fabric of the earth. But as they race to prevent their powerful enemy from enacting a terrible ritual, the danger turns personal, becoming a deadly test of their powers … and the love they once shared.
Yep, the romance centers on a married couple who have lost the spark in a big way. More, it’s the story of them trying to build a second happily ever after when the first one stops working because of how much they have grown and changed.
For the record, when I first outlined the Nightkeeper novels, I thought Brandt would die rather horribly at the end of the first book, with the guilt split between Patience and the man who would become her hero (and no, I’m not telling who, because the stories sooo didn’t write that way).
But when I wrote scenes in Patience’s and Brandt’s POVs in the first book (NIGHTKEEPERS), both characters really gelled for me … and I realized there was a far more interesting story there to tell, about a marriage that was based on lies, and two people who go from being normal parents to superheroes, and lose track of each other in the process.
I’m not always a fan of revisiting characters who are already paired off, especially if that revisitation (Hm. Spell check tells me that’s not a word … but it really ought to be) involves breaking them up and putting them back together. I think the author needs to be very cautious, or else I’m going to question whether this second HEA is the one that’s going to stick.
Suz Brockmann’s Tom and Kelly are together at the end of their book, but it takes several more books (and a fairly black moment) for them to get married. Similarly, JR Ward put us back in Wrath’s POV to look at how his failing sight tests his and Beth’s bond, but their love triumphs in the end.
For me, these stories worked because I never felt like the hero and heroine stopped loving each other despite their challenges, and the second happy ending for each couple felt like a continuation of their original romance.
In a very few other cases, however, I’ve watched favorite relationships decompress so thoroughly in a later book that it sours the original happy ending and leaves me worried that they’re not going to be okay after “The End.”
Thus, because the entirety of BLOOD SPELLS is technically Patience and Brandt’s ‘after the happily ever after,’ I wanted to make very sure that their conflict didn’t devalue the six years they’ve already been married. Their first happily ever after was perfect for the people they were back then. Now, though, they need to figure out whether their Nightkeepers selves can be together for real, and how to renegotiate some things that they—okay, mostly Brandt—thought were set in stone.
So tell me … do you like revisiting prior h/h couples, not just as a flyby at a garden party (Ooh, look! They’re so perfect together! And what a cute baby!), but as subplots with conflict and a black moment? Can you recommend some stories where this works? Are there situations where you wouldn’t want to see a couple again? Do you like seeing couples who have a history before the story opens, even if it happened off-page? Let’s talk about what happens after the HEA!