Thanks so much, Lauren, for giving me time at your blog!
I’ve never thought of myself as someone who specifically does things because it’s a challenge. I’m an easy-peasy kind of girl. But it seems that with my writing, I’ve always gravitated toward genres that haven’t been an easy sell and sometimes, haven’t been easy to write. My paranormal series is a perfect example. When everyone was writing big, muscular, sexy vampires, I decided to write big, muscular, sexy phantoms. Ghosts, except they aren’t dead.
Because really…what fun would that be?
Since I’m not into necrophilia, my phantoms are cursed. They are 18th century men trapped in time by dark magic and freed by strong, sassy 21st century women. I wrote three books, PHANTOM PLEASURE, PHANTOM’S TOUCH and KISS OF THE PHANTOM, in 2008 and 2009 for Penguin, then in 2011, I was able to get the rights back and republish them as indies.
I put the books in a collection and decided I wanted to write another one. But since so much time had passed between the original publication, I wanted a way for readers to reconnect (or connect, for the first time) to the books.
So I wrote a prequel that is also a sequel.
See what I mean? Challenge.
The prologue and epilogue are set in the “present,” featuring three popular secondary characters who were key in all three of the previous books. The meat of the story, however, goes back in time not to where it all started, but to a very important turning point—the first brother becoming free from the curse. Just to make it extra challenging, the book is set in unoccupied France during World War II, because you know…what the hell.
I finished writing it a couple of weeks ago and it’s now being edited. PHANTOM PROMISE will be released on July 29th…and I’m really excited (if you want to know when the book is out, please pop over to my website www.julieleto.com and sign up for my newsletter!) In the meantime, I’m re-reading the first three books in the collection and making a couple of alterations so that all the stories gibe. So I’ll be re-releasing the collection, too!
If you’re interested in a book that stretched this writer to yet another level she never thought she’d reach for…here you go!
You are not alone, he whispered, though without a mouth to speak, his words curled directly into her brain.
“Who are you?”
He wanted to answer. He wanted to reassure her. But speaking drained his tenuous energy.
The most he could manage was, Reach out. Touch me.
“You’re not here! No one is here! Mon Dieu!”
You are safe, he assured her.
The malevolent forces that had barged into the chateau had dragged the man named Rolf away. He sensed their absence. Reveled in it. But she had no way of knowing that the danger she faced now was that of starvation or suffocation if she did not leave the crawlspace while she still had the strength and clarity of mind.
Being trapped, with no means of escape, could chip away at a person’s sanity. He knew this first-hand.
Please. Jeannette. Free yourself.
She began to scream. The sound rotated, as if she was twirling where she stood, spinning in tight circles, her hands pressed like vices against her temples. Faster and faster she spun until she stumbled, fell and then shrieked with shock and pain.
At the same instant of her agony, Paxton exploded. As if he were a cannonball shot with powder and fire, he burst from his containment. He endured the burning. The scorching fire. He knew this feeling! It had happened once before—long ago, when she’d touched him with innocence rather than with a woman’s heart.
This time, when he inhaled, air flooded his lungs.
Instantly, he was aware of her flush against him, her body warm, but shaking. Her breasts were pillow soft against his hardened chest, even as she pounded on him with her fists.
“Leave me alone! Let me go!”
He had been set free from one tiny prison into another. He was stuck in the wall with her, with no room to move.
“Stop fighting me,” he insisted.
“Release me! You cannot hold me here! Fils de salope!”
It took some maneuvering, but Paxton captured her hands in his, which forced her to alter her assault so that she attacked with her feet and knees, putting his family jewels within crushing distance. To protect himself, he pressed her flat against the wall.
“Jeannette, I am as much a prisoner as you. I will not harm you.”
He repeated the sentiment in several different ways, alternating between his very rudimentary French and his mother tongue of English.
Finally, she stopped fighting. “How…how do you know my name?”
He swallowed deeply, marveling at the feel of his throat undulating with moisture. “I heard him call you.”
“Rolf? You know Rolf?”
Paxton was glad she couldn’t see his disgusted expression. He had not had the displeasure of meeting the man in solid form, but he’d watched him through phantom eyes since he’d first stumbled into the abandoned house searching for a treasure Paxton suspected had been closer than the dolt could ever have conceived.
“In a manner of speaking,” he replied.
“Did he hide you, too, or are you what he has been looking for?”
Paxton grinned. She’d stopped shaking. Unsurprisingly, her curiosity had pushed her fear aside. Now, he had steady contact with her lithe body, from the slimness of her legs to the heat of her breath on his cheek.
“He did not hide me here,” he replied. “You did.”
I also write romantic suspense and wanted to share a GREAT deal with you…The first book in my Dirty series, DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS, is currently part of a 9 book boxed set that is selling for only .99! It’s called THE NAUGHTY 9: WHERE PASSION AND DANGER COLLIDE. If you’ve got a minute, check it out!