I confess that after spending the last decade with my characters of the dramatic paranormal romance Promise Me Series, I didn’t want to say goodbye. My Lash Series, while letting me discover in detail the past of the title character, focuses more on fantasy adventure with real historical elements than on passionate relationships. Enter my new Unhallowed Love Series with the first book, A Good Year, which lets my alpha demon Shaker free to enjoy some time on earth with his new “Mistress,” Deborah, as he partners with her to smooth the path for her independent film company, Pandora Productions. Vampire Devlin Dalcon, weresnake assassin Lash, and Shaker’s brother Titus also have bit parts in A Good Year, and other Promise Me characters will also likely make appearances later in this series.
One of the hardest parts of writing a series is sequel continuity; that characters add onto their personal histories as they change and grow throughout new installments without any inconsistencies or errors. I have to say it was and is far harder to write intertwined series. The Lash Series takes place previous to the Promise Me Series, and my demon Shaker appears in both, giving me some history to draw on. Yet knowing the events of the last few Promise Me Series books, I have more than a few hurdles to cross as well to keep my continuity, a challenge that fills me with excitement. I really enjoy fitting together known character histories with new delectable morsels of personal information, discovering reasons previously unknown for climactic events, and creating layers of personality for undeveloped characters that I was not able to explore in previously published books.
While familiar characters are enjoyable as long lost friends, a too familiar plotline is not. Unlike the isolated, rural estate settings of the Promise Me Series, A Good Year is set primarily in
at the offices of Pandora Productions. In place of my former animal-loving,
long-haired tomboy widow Sarelle, my new heroine Deborah is a corporate savvy
professional with no pets, non-nonsense hair, and no time for romance…until
Shaker walks into her office one January evening. Even then, Deborah takes months to think of
Shaker as anything but a business partner. Still, like Sarelle with Danial,
Debbie puts her faith in Shaker, hoping their partnership will help her achieve
her dreams, unknowing of how much her relationship with a supernatural being
will alter her future…both in terrible loss, and purest, heartfelt joy.
A Good Year
by Tara Fox Hall
Faced with losing Pandora Productions as well as her best friend Rebecca to the smarmy Paul, savvy film executive Debbie makes a pact with the demon Shaker, agreeing to bind herself to him as his human master in return for killing Paul. When the intended coup goes amiss, resulting in the deaths of both Rebecca and Paul, Debbie finds herself alone at Pandora’s helm, facing a rising tide of corporate enemies lead by Paul’s duplicitous son Dante and the behemoth Titan Pictures. Shaker’s backing smoothes the way, solving some problems supernaturally, others through brutal bloodshed, even as he calls into play various preternatural and human allies to assist Debbie. As the months pass, Debbie’s strong resolve begins to crumble under the weight of her actions, even as she guiltily concedes the pleasure she finds in Shaker’s arms is becoming something more than just affection. Is there hope for a happy ending built on so much evil? Or is Debbie doomed to lose her heart as well as her soul to a demon who has only been waiting for the chance to claim both?
Debbie looked up from the haphazard pile of papers on the desk in front of her to the clock. Damn, it was already seven. She’d wanted to be home an hour ago.
She pushed the papers away, then rubbed her sore eyes. Where were the damn drops the doctor had prescribed? She couldn’t afford blurry vision now.
A clawed hand rested on her shoulder, the sheer heat of the reddish skin against hers instantly soothing. “You should go home, Mistress.”
Debbie leaned back her head, smiling tiredly at the demon looming over her. “I can’t, Shaker. I went through too much to get control of Pandora’s reins to let everything go to Hell.”
Shaker rubbed her shoulders. Debbie smiled and closed her eyes, the soothing hotness of his touch unknotting her aching muscles.
“So what is it tonight?” Shaker intoned. “Piracy issues, copyrights, or both?”
“That, some governmental red tape, distribution, international markets, and tack on increased fees,”
Debbie replied, stifling a yawn with her hand. “You name the problem, and I’ve got it. I feel like every enemy I’ve ever had has come out of the woodwork.”
“Including Paul’s son?”
Debbie grimaced. “If I’d known that bastard gave a damn about his father, I would have told you to kill him, too. Dante called me again today, yelling about how he knew I’d had his father abducted. He’s threatening to sue me.”
“He can prove nothing,” Shaker soothed, still kneading Debbie’s shoulders. “There is no evidence that anything happened to Paul.”
“But there is also no evidence that he’s alive and well someplace, either,” Debbie countered sourly. “I don’t suppose you can change your form and pretend to be him in some other country for a while?”
“I could arrange something,” Shaker said after a moment, pausing in his massaging. “But Paul’s son is not really interested in his father. He’s interested in the inheritance he thinks he’s missing out on. You said that Paul has been declared missing, but not dead. Dante cares less about punishing you than claiming his father’s share of the company.”
“Becky’s share,” Debbie said sadly. She blinked rapidly, her eyes already filling.
“It wasn’t your fault she took her own life,” Shaker whispered, resuming his kneading. “She was already unstable, because of Paul’s relentless machinations. He made her feel inadequate and insecure to the point she believed she couldn’t handle living without him. Then when he died, she broke.”
He said it as if Rebecca were a toy, not a person. “How can you know that?” Debbie murmured, wanting to be soothed.
“I don’t,” Shaker replied with a chuckle. “But after a thousand years, I’ve got a good handle on human motivations.”
Debbie’s eyes snapped open, and she half turned in her chair to look at Shaker. “You’re that old?”
He smiled, showing his shark-like teeth. “Technically older, but that’s all I’m admitting to.”
“Fair enough,” Debbie said. “Thanks for the massage. I should get back to work.”
“On the contrary,” Shaker said. “I’m taking you home.” He leaned over in a graceful motion, gathering up a protesting Debbie from her office chair. In a blink, Shaker was standing in Debbie’s living room.
“What the hell?” Debbie exclaimed.
“Teleportation, of course,” Shaker said, going to the liquor cabinet. He brought out a bottle of 10-year Ardbeg, and poured two shots. Taking up both glasses, he brought one to her. “Sit down and have a drink, Mistress.” Debbie was too tired to protest. She kicked off her heels, then sat back into her easy chair, sipping the alcohol. At first, she had been loath to try scotch. But at Shaker’s insistence, she had developed a taste for it.
Debbie looked over again at her demon. God, it was still odd to think of him that way, even if she was getting used to his horns and cloven feet. Maybe it was because he’d never asked for her soul, or acted like the demons in movies. Or it could have been his manner, which was always slightly teasing, yet polite and well spoken. Shaker had a good sense of humor, a quality Debbie had appreciated more and more in the opposite sex, as she grew older. If only more of the men her own age were like him...
“You’re staring at me,” Shaker said with a smile. “Ready to take our relationship to the next level?”
Tara Fox Hall's writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children's stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series.
divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories,
chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for
donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published
children's stories to date are free reads on www.childrens-stories.net.