How kind of you all to join me here today! I am so very proud to launch my week-long blog tour here at Bitten by Paranormal Romance with a Book Promo Giveaway. It is a splendid way to start a week of prizes across cyberspace. All week long, I will be on a different blog giving away different items, everything from author-signed books to fun things like handmade Voodoo Dolls and a Baby Cthulhu. I'm even giving away a Kindle, so do stop by each day and enter to win. Find out all the details and schedule on my blog Caught in the Cogs (http://omgrey.wordpress.com).
Also, do share on your social networks and tell all your friends.
Today, dear readers, you have your choice between the featured book, the young adult Steampunk paranormal romance The Zombies of Mesmer, or my Amazon Gothic Romance bestselling novel Avalon Revisited, if you like your romance a little steamier. My agent calls it 50 Shades of Grey in Steampunk London. Either way, the winner gets a choice not only of the book, but also the format: Print, PDF eBook, or Kindle version. Just leave a comment, ask a question, or tell me which vampire you would most like to be bitten by.
About The Zombies of Mesmer
Follow Nicole Knickerbocker Hawthorn (Nickie Nick) as she discovers her destiny as The Protector, a powerful vampire hunter. Ashe, a dark and mysterious stranger, helps Nickie and her friends solve the mystery behind several bizarre disappearances. Suitable for teens, enjoyed by adults, the story is full of interesting steampunk gadgets, mad scientists, bloodthirsty vampires, and mesmerized zombies. This paranormal adventure is sure to appeal to fans of Boneshaker, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Vampire Diaries.
When I reached the banks of the Thames, I could see the dome of St. Paul’s on the horizon over on north side. Mass likely had already started, and the dome glowed in the cold night. Directly across the river from where I stood, the Egyptian Obelisk reached skyward. It had only been erected a few years back. My father brought me down to this very spot, to watch from across the river. There had been two monstrous scaffolds built out of wood. I remember watching for what seemed like a very long time, but little happened. I must have been about Rufus’s age then. Father told me it took nearly a fortnight to raise it and set it in place properly.
I jumped off the side walls down onto the banks below. My heels sank in the soft mud, and I wondered how that would affect the staking mechanism within.
I would have to talk with Franklin about that.
“Conrad?” I whispered, but there was no answer. I walked, mostly on my toes, toward the underside of the bridge. “Conrad?” I said again, but I heard nothing but the water licking the shore. It smelled quite odious down here, and I was glad I did not have to scavenge around like Conrad and Rufus sometimes did for things to sell. What a horrible way to make a living.
“Conrad?” I tried one more time, raising my voice to just above a whisper.
“Well if it ain’t Nick.” A familiar voice came out of the darkness. “You are rather kitted up today, Nick.” Ashe moved out from beneath the bridge and looked at me with his head tilted slightly, as if he was trying to figure something out.
“Ashe.” I felt my face flush. Good thing we were in the mostly dark. “What are you doing here?”
“Conrad asked if I would wait for you and bring you to him and the others. Something’s happened today. Follow me,” he said, and I did. I walked directly behind him, literally in his footsteps, and he led me into one of the sewer's openings. I thought the banks of the Thames had smelled bad, but this, in the brick enclosed space, was even worse. Fortunately, the water was very low. It did not even reach the lower edge of my spats. The bottom rim of my coat skimmed the surface.
“So,” he began as we walked, slowing down and moving aside so that I would walk beside him. “What’s with the togs? Taking a trip on an airship, are we? Or are you joining the RAN?” He indicated the airship goggles perched on my head.
“For fighting.” My voice was a mixture of anger and embarrassment. “Fighting vampires.”
“Is that right? Are you a professional vampire hunter now?” There was laughter in his voice. I wanted to hide and slap him all at the same time.
“More or less,” I said indignantly. “What about you?”
“More or less,” he echoed. “I guess we will be working together then.”
The anger faded and a rush of joy quickly took its place, knowing I was going to see him again and often. A group of rats scuttled by and I could not contain a very girlie squeal as they ran over my shoes.
Ashe laughed. “Fearless, aren’t you?”
“I will have you know that I am more fit for this task than you are.” The anger had come back and brought a friend. He turned and pinned me against the wall faster than I could even see. He hovered over me, my back against the curved brick wall. His arm, next to my head, braced him and he bent in. His lips were just inches from mine. The excited nausea returned and I held my breath waiting for what I hoped would come next.
“Don’t be so sure of that, Nick,” he whispered. The nearness of his lips to mine heated my cheeks. His dark eyes bore into mine, and his scent, a mixture of musk and cinnamon, intoxicated me and drowned my reason. In that moment, I was completely his.
Then, without another word, he pushed himself away and continued walking.
As soon as I had caught my breath, I followed in his footsteps once more.
“You did not fool me last night, you understand.” He stayed ahead of me this time.
“What?” I eloquently responded.
“Dressed as a boy. I knew you were no lad.”
“Y–you did not,” I sputtered. “How?”
“You smelled of heather. No street urchin I have ever met smelled of heather.” There was that laughter in his voice again. He was enjoying this.
My father got our soap imported from Scotland, and it was scented with heather. How could he know that? How could he smell that?
“Have you been fighting vampires long?” I asked, trying to change the subject, but my mind stayed on how he knew. He had been at my party, too, albeit outside. Surely the two were no coincidence, but now was not the time to ask.
“About six months,” he responded. “Did not even know they existed before that. Now I kill as many as I can.” His voice had turned into a growl near the end. “So, what is your story? Why do you fight them.”
“I am not supposed to tell.” Pathetic. Why did everything I say to this man sound so very childish?
“Will daddy spank you?” He was mocking me.
“No,” I snapped. “If you must know”–and he might as well know if we would be hunting together. It would explain my attire anyway–“I am The Protector.”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth than he stopped short, causing me to run into the back of him. He turned, and he was once again but inches from me.
“The Protector?” He loomed over me, and I felt his eyes searching for the truth.
“Y–yes,” I choked.
“You. You’re The Protector?”
“Yes. I am The Protector.” Annoyed now. Why was that so hard for him to believe?
“You fulfilled the Hawthorn Legacy?” His eyes still searched my face for something. He took a step closer.
My metal, lace collar felt rather tight. I swallowed hard.
“How did you know about that?”
“Nevermind. Are you a Hawthorn?”
“Yes. My name is Nicole Knickerbocker Hawthorn,” I said proudly. “All this Legacy stuff just happened a few days ago on my seventeenth birthday. It was all rather sudden.”
“Nicole Knickerbocker.” He smiled, more relaxed now. “Nickie Nick.”
“Do not call me that,” I spat, gritting my teeth.
He laughed, then turned and began walking again. “I knew I had felt something that night,” he mumbled to himself.
About Avalon Revisited
Arthur Tudor has made his existence as a vampire bearable for over three hundred years by immersing himself in blood and debauchery. Aboard an airship gala, he meets Avalon, an aspiring vampire slayer who sparks fire into Arthur’s shriveled heart. Together they try to solve the mystery of several horrendous murders on the dark streets of London. Cultures clash and pressures rise in this sexy Steampunk Romance.
“I was to be the King of England.”
Before I died.
Of course, I didn’t say the latter aloud. Not yet. That would give too much away too soon. No need to cause alarm yet. After all, I did enjoy watching the looks on their faces when I told them I was to be king. It was true, of course, but they never believed it.
“King,” she said with a twinkle of humor in her eye. Her perfectly lined lips curled up slightly in one corner. She was taking the bait. She was amused, but more importantly, she was intrigued.
In a candlelit library we sat together on a white French Provincial sofa, a little too close for polite company, but then, I wasn’t polite company.
“You. Were to be king.” It wasn’t a question. It was merely a statement of complete disbelief. After all, I did look quite young, but the truth was much more complicated than that. Wasn’t it always?
I smiled and moved in closer, sliding slowly along the silk cushions towards her. She watched me close the distance between us and smiled a little wider, despite herself. I leaned in as if for a kiss, but instead brushed my nose softly along her jawline. “I was.” I breathed the words into her ear, letting my lips graze the pearl dangling from her earlobe. This one looked even more delicious than she smelled. That was a rarity. Especially for a woman her age. Normally, these middle-aged women had let their looks go. But not this one. She was still quite the beauty in her gown of deep scarlet, lined with black lace. The collar was wide, stretching from shoulder to shoulder, allowing me complete access to her neck, save for a choker: three strings of pearls clamped tight around her throat with a cameo adorning its center. She had a tiny hat embellished with an even tinier sailboat, pearls, and black lace, all perched purposefully crooked on top of her perfectly coiffed hair. Each copper curl shone in the candlelight, and I was entranced. She smelled of freshly picked heather on a warm Scottish evening. I wanted to roll and play in that heather. I wanted to pluck the blooms from its stems. I wanted to bury my nose in that heather and breathe in its luxurious scent.
I wanted her. But I kept my head and didn’t move too fast, lest I would’ve given myself away.
She didn’t recoil at my closeness, but rather seemed humored by it.
“You can’t be a day over twenty, lad, and you were to be king? Do tell, whatever happened to joust you from the royal line?” The dark lady turned her head cooly away from me and sipped the wine held by her black satin gloved hand. I softly traced my fingers along the hairline at the nape of her neck, and I saw her suppress a shiver. Good. She turned back and slightly leaned into me, playing my game.
The candlelight emphasized the smile lines around her eyes. She was forty if she was a day, and she felt flattered by the attentions of a younger man. Especially when said attention was offered by one as handsome and charming as I, at least, seemed. Her husband was nearly thirty years her senior, so she welcomed passion.
“I’m a little older than twenty,” I said as I brushed my lips up the curve of her delicate ear, exhaling warm air as I did so. I felt her shudder beneath my touch. She didn’t even try to conceal it. We both knew where this was heading.
I had her now. She was not only intrigued; she was open to being seduced. Obvious, really, since she thought I was joking about being king, as Victoria had been on the throne for well over sixty years, but she didn’t scoff at the game. She reveled in it. She likely hadn’t felt the thrill of seduction in well over a decade or two. However the kind of seduction she had in mind was quite different than what I had planned for her tonight.
The music played loudly in the adjoining room as the rest of the gala attendees danced or spoke to each other in raised voices, competing with the music. Still, it wasn’t so loud that they wouldn’t hear a scream, even back in this dimly lit library. No. Had to continue to move slowly.
The smell of musty books filled the air, and I was reminded of my father. Always reading. Always urging Henry and I to read and learn. We had had private tutors who taught us foreign languages and told stories of faraway lands. We learned about history and philosophy and theology and mathematics. It was all essential for our destiny. Me, future king, and Henry being groomed to be Archbishop. He had said we were the future of the kingdom. Well, he was half right. Henry had been the future, but now he was just the past.
“I died,” I sighed the answer to her question then nuzzled my cold nose in the nape of her warm, pulsing neck. Not yet.
She didn’t recoil at this dark disclosure, as she likely thought it was all part of this decadent game. Rather, she welcomed the soft kisses I placed on her neck. She shivered at the touch of my cold lips but moved in closer still. She was ready. Dare I say even earnest. She didn’t stop my hand exploring her thigh hidden beneath layers of satin. A soft moan escaped her lips, and I knew I had her. I continued teasing this dark lady, drawing out her desire. She caught her breath as I traced my tongue up the side of her throat to her white earlobe, circling around the pearl drop that hung delicately from it.
Then something across the room caught my eye. In the pale candlelight, an image on the far wall mocked me. A corpulent man stared back at me with black eyes. His gold doublet and fur-trimmed coat framed the fleshy jowls that held a smirking mouth. A replica of a painting, for even the sumptuous hosts of this opulent gala couldn’t afford the original Holbein. This painting I knew far too well. I had been forced to look at this likeness for centuries, and it always made me think about the road not taken, as if I had had a choice in the matter. Feelings similar to but not quite nostalgia filled my mind and ached in my chest. Perhaps it was more like sentimentality. If my heart still beat, it would be the rhythm to a sad song. But that’s part of my lament: my hollow chest. Every time I see that blasted painting of my fat, arrogant brother, I’d think, that should have been me.
But it wasn’t me. It was not my fate to be king. That was his fate. My little, immature brother.
My fate was to die, but I should’ve stayed dead. Over three-hundred years later, and I finally understood. I should have stayed dead.
“Why ever did you stop, dear boy?” The woman leaned into me, caressing my pale cheek with the back of her black satin hand. I hadn’t realized that I had pulled away from her while I had been caught up in my own remorse. She must have seen the sadness in my eyes, for she was becoming maternal. Mustn’t allow that. Time for a bolder move. Shaking off the past, I turned towards her and kissed her gently at first. But as she welcomed me with parted lips, I deepened the kiss. As my tongue swirled with hers, I drank in the warmth of her mouth, of her being. She didn’t seem put off by my coldness, but then few did when I had progressed this far. She ran her hand up my thigh, sending a spark through my core. My own roaming hand found her breast and cupped the soft flesh peeking out from beneath the hard corset.
I wanted to rip that corset off. Perhaps we had the same seduction in mind after all.
“Arthur,” she breathed. I couldn’t remember her name, but it didn’t matter. She was Catherine. They were all Catherine.
As I caressed her nipple over her evening gown, a small sound escaped from her pouty mouth. It was the sound of pure pleasure. No one had touched her like this in quite some time, and she was hungry for more. Then I slipped my thumb under the top ridge of her corset, grazing the nipple nestled beneath. Her hips moved involuntarily, and she arched her back in longing.
“Let us move to more private quarters,” she whispered, breathless.
Fine with me.
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you decide you'd like to read more! Do consider getting a copy of your very own in addition to entering the giveaway below. Buy The Zombies of Mesmer on Amazon in paperback (http://t.co/2EQG5UQy) or the Kindle (http://t.co/kHk2BsTt). Buy Avalon Revisited on Amazon in paperback (http://tinyurl.com/AvalonAMZ) or on the Kindle(http://amzn.to/cG4DBf), also available via Barnes & Noble (http://tinyurl.com/AvalonBN) and wherever books are sold.
Please find out more about me and my work, listen to free podcasts, read free short stories and poetry, and get author-signed books on my blog Caught in the Cogs (http://omgrey.wordpress.com). I would also simply love for you to connect with me on social networks like Facebook (http://facebook.com/OMGREY),
Twitter (http://twitter.com/omgrey), and GoodReads(http://www.goodreads.com/ author/show/3448455.O_M_Grey). Indeed!
A special thanks to Laurie for hosting this Steampunk Paranormal Romance giveaway and allowing me to begin my blog tour in style.