Posted by Christine Wells
It's my very great pleasure today to welcome back one of our favourite authors to the lair, the fabulous Denise Rossetti! Denise also happens to be my critique partner, so I'm doubly excited to kidnap--ahem--host her in the lair today.
The latest instalment of Denise's Four-Sided Pentacle series is out now, so make sure you rush to the bookstore (or let your fingers do the ordering*G*) and buy it. Isn't that a fabulous cover? And I can vouch for the fact that the amazing hero, Walker, fulfills the cover's promise.
Walker the Earth Shaman is big, beautiful, utterly deadly and so self-contained that everyone is too afraid of him to get close. Of course, his forbidding aspect hides great pain, and it takes the rather clueless but endearing Mehcredi the hapless assassin to penetrate that profound reserve. This is a hero to die for and a heroine to love. A sexy, romantic fantasy full of adventure and heart.
Now, over to Denise!
Hey there, Banditas and BBs! Thanks for having me over to the lair to talk about The Lone Warrior. Looking forward to a classic Bandits chat, plus I get to play Lady Bountiful and give away a copy to a lucky commenter.
Totally love what you've done to the place, BTW. *blinks* Wow, look at the high gloss on those cabana boys. Tough job, but I guess someone's gotta keep 'em well buffed. *snork* Shame about the pesky chicken. [Christine: He's useful as a duster, though sometimes he makes the cabana boys sneeze]
A recent academic study shows that reading fiction improves social skills. Why is this asked the experts? Well duh, it’s something romance readers have known forever. Reading fiction allows us to experience life as it’s lived in someone else’s head – and the direct immersion increases our empathy and understanding of others. (They measured it.)
And what are romance novels all about, pray tell? Emotions, of course!
I still recall how enthralled I was with Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, even though it’s not a romance. The narrator is a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy and the book is an amazing insight into the interior world of autism. University lecturers make it required reading for education and psychology students. By any standard, it’s a terrific read!
I think this is where the Muse first started mumbling at me about the amazing character who grew up to be Mehcredi in The Lone Warrior (released 3rd May). She may well be the most unusual, and probably the most engaging, heroine I’ve ever written. For a start, she’s an apprentice assassin, though she’s hopeless at it. She’s not actually autistic - I felt I could never understand enough about the reality of the condition to do it justice – but she was abandoned at birth and grew up as a kind of ‘wild child’, bereft of any kind of affection. As a result, she has no concept of relationships, no empathy and therefore no tact! She has tremendous difficulty reading faces, let alone understanding the inflections of speech that allow humans to communicate subtle emotional changes. But despite these handicaps, she retains an essential shining innocence.
Poor Mehcredi, she really should watch Tell Me Lies! Those of you who do will understand my fascination with the science of facial expression. It’s underpinned by a solid body of research and it really works. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies use it.
So who better for Mehcredi’s hero than a man who is so self-contained, so cold and deadly, that everyone holds their breath when he enters the room? Walker, the earth shaman, first appeared in Thief of Light and Mehcredi is the unknown assassin he’s hunting.
Prue shivered. In all the years she’d known Walker, she’d never seen him smile, though he was unfailingly patient with the courtesans he trained in The Garden’s fighting salle. His reserve was so deep a pool of silence surrounded him, his step so quiet it seemed he had no footfall. She had no idea how old he was. Though silver threaded the sable of his hair, he moved with the supple grace of a man in his prime.
If she hadn’t been so wild with rage and terror, she might have pitied the unknown assassin. As it was… Breathing hard, she watched Walker turn without another word and glide through the press of bodies to the door. People made way for him without seeming to realize they did so.
Unfortunately for Walker, Mehcredi has no reserve, no fears, and she boldly walks through his barriers as if they were mist. Poor man! Add in Walker’s pain, his grim desire for vengeance and the machinations of an evil necromancer and there’s enough angst and adventure to stop the heart of an empathizing romance reader. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the rascally dog!
Needless to say, Walker catches up with our hapless assassin…
She opened her mouth to shriek, to plead, but long-fingered hands fastened around her throat. As he slowly increased the pressure, digging painfully into the soft flesh under her jaw, the man smiled, lips pulling back from white teeth. The expression gave him an eerie, chilling beauty. He could have been an avenging angel or a handsome demon. Either way, those elegant brutal hands were the sure instruments of her death.
Her fists flailed, punching. When that failed, she raked at his forearms with her nails, but he didn’t even flinch. Mehcredi knew she was strong, stronger than any woman she’d ever met, but it made no difference. Black spots formed in her vision, her lungs labored and cramped.
“No,” she tried to rasp. “No, please.”
From far off, as if down a long tunnel, came the sound of hysterical barking.
The man thrust his face into hers. “Now you pay,” he snarled as he sent her down into the dark. “Assassin.”
After a start like that, things can only get better surely? *evil cackle*
You can read the whole of the first chapter here -Subscribe to my monthly newsletter for more chances to win, excerpts and sneak peeks.
I’d love to hear about a book that had you really empathizing with the characters. Have you shed tears, laughed with joy, had butterflies in the stomach for them? What was the book and who were the characters whose reality you shared? There’s a signed copy of The Lone Warrior up for grabs!