Storm Force blog tour: Interview with Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force blog tour button

I’m thrilled to have Susannah Sandlin back on the blog because she’s the author of the Penton Legacy books, a paranormal romance series featuring a different kind of vampire, and the Sentinel of New Orleans books as her other self, Suzanne Johnson. Susannah’s here today to chat about her latest release, STORM FORCE. Originally released as a Kindle Serial, the full book is now available and, let me tell you, it’s a whole lot of fun. Keep reading to get to know Susannah and her newest book!

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1. Welcome back to Team Tynga’s Reviews, Susannah! It’s great to have you on the blog again. To start, could you please tell us what inspired STORM FORCE?

Omega by Susannah Sandlin (Penton Legacy #3)Thanks for having me back! When I was writing Omega, the third book in my Penton Legacy series, I got interested in the idea of a joint special ops force of Army Rangers and paranormal partners like vampires or shapeshifters—working in the U.S. instead of abroad. I liked the idea of how these highly trained human warriors would handle partnering with a shapeshifter, for example—not only learning they exist, but accepting that there are some things a shapeshifter’s going to be able to do better than a human. So in Storm Force, the human hero, Kell, is slowly (and grudgingly) coming to terms with it.

2. How would you entice readers to try STORM FORCE if they’re new to your work?

Take a sexy Army Ranger with a bad back, a take-no-prisoners eagle-shifter, a heroine who isn’t quite human, a psychic who looks like a Greek playboy, a case of ecoterrorism that doesn’t quite add up, and a hurricane—and shake it all up. I think readers new to my work can always expect suspense laced with humor and a high dose of sexy.

3. One of the neat things about STORM FORCE is that it’s related to your Penton Legacy novels but stands alone quite nicely. Could you talk about this a bit please?

It takes an element of the plot that occurs in the third Penton book, Omega—in that case an Army Ranger-vampire partnership—and expands it to cover different types of “Omega Force” teams. So while the Penton folks are off doing their thing in the Southeast, the team in Storm Force focuses on cases in Texas and Louisiana. There are no characters in common except a retired Army Colonel with mysterious ties to people in high places, who heads up the whole Omega Force program. So someone could easily pick up Storm Force and read it without having read any of the Penton Legacy series.

4. What made you choose to release STORM FORCE as a Kindle serial? Are you pleased with the response it received? Would you do it again?

It was my publisher’s idea—they were experimenting with serial releases and asked if I’d be interested. I thought my action-filled story would lend itself to the serial format, which is released in nine “episodes” over nine weeks. And I write well under deadline since I come from a journalism background. At the end of the nine weeks, it comes out as a full-length novel in print and digital. It was an exhausting schedule, turning around 10,000 words a week for nine weeks, but I really enjoyed the process and would definitely try it again. The response has been good, although a lot of readers (like me, with other serials), just waited until the whole thing downloaded to read it!

5. You’ve included so many different supernatural beings in your various series. Do you have a favourite? Are there any you’re avoiding?

Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin There aren’t any I’m avoiding, but before I write about a paranormal species, I want to make sure I can give it my own spin and not just trot out a vampire because I like vampires, for example. In the Penton series, my vampires are in an almost post-apocalyptic situation when a flu vaccine turns human blood poisonous to them. Each of my shape-shifters in Storm Force has a different twist, although it’s too spoilerific to talk about! In my urban fantasy series written as Suzanne Johnson, I love my historical undead like the pirate Jean Lafitte and my merpeople, who are Cajun aquatic shapeshifters.

6. Why do you think paranormal romance is so appealing to readers?

I think it appeals to readers on several levels. It’s a fascinating way to explore human issues, because our paranormal characters have the same problems, only amped up and complicated by their species. I also think, speaking for myself as a reader, I love getting in the heads and hearts of a dangerous, sexy bad boy. Or in the case of Storm Force, seeing how a sexy, dangerous human hero copes with a not-so-human heroine—not a combination we often see!

7. Can we expect more Omega Force novels in the near future? (Please say yes!) And will any Penton folks put in an appearance?

I’d love to eventually have some crossover betweeen the two series, but right now I’m working on the fourth Penton book. And in the Omega Force world, I’d definitely like to do the book for Robin, our eagle-shifter. She seems to have really resonated with readers because she’s such a strong, bluntly-spoken character. (Kell doesn’t call her “Razorblade Robin” for nothing!)

To wrap things up, I have some quick questions for you because there’s nothing I like more that random questions! What or who is your…

Biggest temptation? Ah….Haha. I’ve been eating low-carb for the past five months, so if anything that involved bread or sugar wafted past, I’d grab it! I’m also a sucker for tech toys. I just lost the iPhone 5 battle even though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my 4s.

Favourite action star? I’ll say Daniel Craig. Then I’ll add that I rarely have time to go to movies or watch TV, so at least I know who Daniel Craig is. I’m woefully behind the times with celebrities. Occasionally, I’ll see a copy of a celebrity magazine and realize I have no idea who the majority of those people are! Oh wait, who’s that Wolverine guy…Hugh Jackman!

Least favourite word? Mewl. Seriously, unless you’re an honest-to-god kitten, and a young one at that, I want no mewling, especially during a sex scene.

Ideal vacation destination? I’d like to go into seclusion at Cedar Key, Florida, for a few months. Wait, that’s not very exotic….eh, that’s okay. It’s the “seclusion” part I want. Cedar Key is cool; has sort of a Jimmy Buffett vibe without having to go all the way to the Keys.

Most cherished keepsake? I lost most of my childhood stuff in Hurricane Katrina (books, dolls, etc.), which was also an experience that made me treasure “stuff” less. So … this monstrous treadle-powered sewing machine that belonged to my grandmother.

Thanks very much for visiting us, Susannah, and congrats on your latest release!

Thanks for having me today!

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More about STORM FORCE:

StormAs leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon

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Susannah Sandlin

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jenn

Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force by Susannah SandlinStorm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
e-book: 342 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: June 18, 2013

Series: n/a

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know i enjoy Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson’s work. Needless to say, when I heard she was writing a new paranormal romance that’s a loose offshoot of her Penton Legacy vampire novels, I was quite excited, especially since it was being released as a Kindle serial. But then I couldn’t get it because I lived in Canada so I had to wait until the full novel was written to get my hands on STORM FORCE. But I’m happy to report that STORM FORCE is a nice paranormal romance with a lot of suspense added in. It actually reads like a paranormal suspense novel that just happens to have supernatural characters in it, which is just my cup of tea.

One of the neatest things about STORM FORCE is that the lead couple have an unusual power dynamic. Mori is more than human and is consequently more physically powerful than Kell. It’s a pairing that’s less commonly seen in the genre and it was kind of refreshing to watch this alpha Ranger man deal with the fact that his romantic interest is being sparked by someone who could throw him out a window if she was in the mood. Thankfully, he knows that her strength doesn’t make him weak because I hate those characters who can only see others’ strengths as detractions. I adore strong women — in fiction and in real life — and I can’t stand it when people react badly to capable women.

Rant aside, I also like how much this novel stands alone. You don’t have to be familiar with the Penton Legacy books to read STORM FORCE so if the blurb appeals, you should pick it up. STORM FORCE reads very well as a stand-alone novel and you’ll quickly be sucked into the mystery of who set the bomb and why they’re framing Mori for it. The answer is unexpected — and revealed early enough in the novel that you’ll get to see the ramifications, which is great. Knowing the who and they why really up the stakes and it makes STORM FORCE a roller coaster of a novel.

There are also some nice humorous moments in STORM FORCE. One of my favourite characters is Robin, an eagle shifter with a lot of attitude. I really liked her boldness and also the fact that she was an eagle shifter since we don’t see a ton of avian shifters in the literature. I do hope she gets her own novel at some point because I’d love to spend more time with her.

If you’re looking for a suspenseful paranormal romance, look no further than STORM FORCE. Sandlin has created a great story with a compelling cast and you’ll be hooked from the first page!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

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Omega blog tour: Through a Vampire’s Eyes by Susannah Sandlin + two giveaways!

Omega blog tour

Today we have a guest blog from an author I adore: Susannah Sandlin! I love her Penton Legacy books, a series of paranormal romance novels based around vampires who are forced to deal with a dwindling food supply when a vaccine leaves humans unpalatable. The first two books in the series, REDEMPTION and ABSOLUTION, were fantastic, and events really come to head in OMEGA, the latest release.

Susannah has put together a great interview with Will, the male lead of OMEGA. I hope you’ll all enjoy it. It’s a little insight into what makes this particular vampire tick.

And make sure to check out the two — that’s right, TWO! — giveaways that we’re hosting as part of the blog tour.

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Through a Vampire’s Eyes
(c) Susannah Sandlin

Ever wonder what it would be like to view life as a vampire? We caught up with Will Ludlam of the Penton Legacy to find out. After all, the eyes of a vampire are a window to his soul (yes, vampires have souls). When all is good in the world, Will’s eyes are a rich golden brown—a nice match with his blond hair that’s still sun-streaked from when his human life ended at age twenty-two. (Never mind that that was sixty years ago.) But when Will is hungry, or agitated, or, um, aroused, they glow kind of gold. So that eye thing could be good news or bad news, depending on what side of the fangs you’re on.

But still, here are a few questions for Will:

Describe your hands.
(Looks down and flexes fingers.) Uh, they have opposing thumbs. I don’t wear nail polish. I have done a lot of wood-working as well as computer work, so my hands are strong but also very agile. (Gives interviewer a mischievous look, as if he’s considering showing how agile they are…but then thinks better of it.) I don’t have hair on the backs of my hands. Or my back. In my day, girls thought that was gross. Do they still?

Describe where you sleep.
(Groans.) Well, right now, my whole town is in hiding in an underground bunker while my psychotic biological father plays war games overhead, destroying everything and waiting for us to pop up like ground squirrels so he can kill us. So I’m sleeping in a freaking twin bed. Thank God vampires are unconscious during daylight hours so I don’t know how uncomfortable I am—until I wake up with kinks and cramps in places I didn’t realize I had. And do I have to tell you how hard it is to have…uh…activities in a twin bed? I actually FELL IN THE FLOOR on my assets last night. Ridiculous, I tell you.

Describe Randa.
Is she going to see this? You’re sure not? Okay, then I can be nice. Otherwise, it would go to her head. She has the most beautiful dark red hair and beautiful skin. She’s got really nice..uh…is this a PG13 website? Well, anyway, they’re totally hot. She was in the Army before she got turned vampire, so she has these great camo clothes that we can totally role play. I keep waiting to see her Army boots and…what do you mean TMI?

Describe yourself.
This is a trap, right? Because if I tell you I’m the best-looking vampire in, like, the universe, you can show this to Aidan and Mirren and they’ll pound the crap out of me. Or Randa will put me in the brig..no, wait, that’s the Navy…Okay, I’m six-feet even, weigh 175, have a nice set of abs, I’m told, and the best ass in town. Blonde hair, brown eyes. Dimples. Girls love dimples. Did you realize girls love dimples?

Describe yourself sitting in your favorite spot?
What makes you think I’d be sitting? Oh, fine. I’m probably at Mirren’s house—the one he had before I was forced to burn it down. He has this huge sectional sofa, and I’m hanging out with Mirren and Glory and Aidan and Krys and, yeah, I guess Randa can be there. We’re watching one of those ridiculous western movies Mirren likes, and drinking wine and relaxing. That’s what I hope to get back to when all this mess with my father is done. Assuming we live through it.

Describe your most treasured item.
I have a photo of me with my mom and sister Cathy when I was about 15, so Cathy was 10 or 11. We’d left dad in the city and had gone to Coney Island for the day. Yeah, sounds corny. But it was fun and we got someone to take our photo on the boardwalk. Seven years later, they were both dead, and things had changed so, so much. When things got bad in Penton, I buried an extra laptop in a metal case in the woods behind my house because I knew I’d have to burn down the house. I stuck that photo in the box with the computer so I didn’t lose it.

Describe the first thing you’ll do when the siege of Penton ends?
You mean if I’m not dead or locked up in my father’s silver-lined dungeon? I’ll take Randa somewhere to get away for a while. Maybe New Orleans. Maybe the mountains. Of course, we’d need to take a human familiar with us who hadn’t been vaccinated with the pandemic vaccine that turned blood poisonous and started this whole mess. (Eyes interviewer.) You’d do. Want to go on a trip?

Will Ludlam will be hanging around today, so if you have any questions about what else you might see through his eyes, just ask! A commenter will be chosen to win their choice of book from the Penton Legacy series in print, audio, or Kindle version. Open internationally. Also enter the Rafflecopter for the Omega Tour prizes!

Now, what would you like to ask Will?

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Thanks for visiting us, Susannah, and giving us a vampire’s perspective on life!

Want more Suzannah? You can find her online at her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also see the rest of her tour by clicking on the tour button below.

Omega blog tour

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More about OMEGA:

Omega by Susannah SandlinThe bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton’s humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal’s vicious leader, Will’s capture could doom the resistance. Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father—and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will’s polished charm—and Randa’s guarded heart—finally give way to the warrior within. Fans of Susannah Sandlin’s Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

You can see what I thought of the previous two Penton Legacy novels by clicking on the cover:

Redemption by Susannah Sandlin Absolution by Susannah Sandlin

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giveaway

Giveaway #1: One (1) lucky reader will get one of Susannah’s Penton Legacy books (e-book, audio book, or print)

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2: One (1) tour-wide winner will get his or her choice a Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Simple Touch (or US$100 gift card for Amazon, B&N, or Book Depository) and five (5) lucky people will win a $10 gift card for the online bookseller of their choice

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jenn

Omega by Susannah Sandlin

Omega by Susannah Sandlin Omega by Susannah Sandlin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 328 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: February 5, 2013

Series: Penton Legacy #3

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton’s humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal’s vicious leader, Will’s capture could doom the resistance. Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father—and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will’s polished charm—and Randa’s guarded heart—finally give way to the warrior within. Fans of Susannah Sandlin’s Penton Legacy are sure to devour this long-awaited third installment of the steamy paranormal series.

The third book in Susannah Sandlin’s Penton Legacy series, OMEGA continues the story of the vampires and humans who try to lead peaceful and cooperative lives in the face of ever-increasing danger and persecution. I really enjoyed the first two books in the series, especially ABSOLUTION. I also enjoyed OMEGA but it didn’t quite meet my expectations, perhaps because they were too high after the previous instalments. Don’t get me wrong — OMEGA is still a great book and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the series as a whole but it didn’t thrill me as much as REDEMPTION and ABSOLUTION did.

OMEGA is Will and Randa’s story. Their attraction has been on simmer since book one in the can’t-stand-each-other-but-are-totally-secretly-into-each-other kind of way. It’s a definite trope but one that works well here since Will and Randa are forced to work together on a regular basis and they both have some serious issues to work through. Will has a pile of daddy issues since his father forced him to become a vampire, is trying to destroy Penton, and had bad, bad things done to Will to get him to fall in line before Will defected to Penton. Randa is a reluctant vampire, also turned against her will only a handful of years before. She misses her human life and family and can’t stand basics of vampire life, like drinking blood. They’re both a mess but also both devoted to the cause, smart, and brave, so they’re a well matched pair. They both show a lot of growth over the course of OMEGA and it was fun to get into their heads but their romance didn’t resonate for me the way Kris and Aidan or Glory and Mirren’s did. I liked both characters individually and think they have some nice chemistry but they didn’t win me over in the same way.

I was, however, really thrilled with how Sandlin has structured the overall series arc for Penton and its citizens. There are some exciting developments in the series storyline and I really didn’t expect the plan they devised to deal with Matthias and win back the Tribunal’s favour. I’m not sure if there are more books planned for this series but they’re sure to be interesting if they come to pass thanks to this game-changing ending. It’s a great conclusion for the main big questions in the series, though the world is definitely open enough for more thrilling adventures.

If you’re looking for some great paranormal romance, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Penton Legacy books. They’ve got a great cast of characters, steamy romance, and fast-paced action, all wrapped up in a really original setting. OMEGA may not be my favourite instalment but it’s definitely a well-written story in an interesting world.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

River Road blog tour: Preternatural Noshes, New Orleans Style by Suzanne Johnson + giveaway!

River Road blog tour

Today we have a special visitor: Suzanne Johnson! I adored ROYAL STREET, the first book in her urban fantasy series, the Sentinel of New Orleans, and so I jumped on the opportunity to be a part of her latest blog tour. She’s here today to talk about a holiday gathering with characters from the series, New Orleans style. It’s a really fun post that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

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Preternatural Noshes, New Orleans Style
(c) Suzanne Johnson

It’s that time of the year—you know, when everyone gets together around a table of people with whom they might not normally fraternize. In New Orleans, we call it Reveillon. In the 19th century, New Orleans families would gather for a big meal after breaking their post-midnight mass holiday fast. Today, Reveillon lasts for most of December, with restaurants offering special holiday menus so theoretically you could have a Reveillon meal at a different restaurant every night of the holiday season.

Suzanne Johnson Royal StreetIn the spirit of Reveillon, and with much trepidation, I rented a banquet room in Jax Brewery on the New Orleans riverfront and invited some of the characters of River Road to join me for a holiday meal. It was with even more trepidation that I asked each one to bring a favorite dish.

The undead pirate Jean Lafitte arrived first, looking sexy as hell in a fine indigo-colored suit that was the height of fashion about 250 years ago. He only had to walk a few blocks from the Hotel Monteleone, where he has been ensconced in the swank Eudora Welty Suite ever since the borders between the modern world and the Beyond came down.

I had thought Jean would bring some brandy or some seafood grilled on a plank (you know…walk the plank?), or maybe sea biscuits, but no. He’d been totally lazy and stopped in Criollo, the hotel’s restaurant, and sauntered over trailed by one of his pirate flunkies from Old Orleans. Said flunky was laden down with what has become in recent years a New Orleans dining tradition—a soup trio. Three demitasse cups are filled with soups…well, except since this was take-out, Jean’s flunky arrived toting three fancy cardboard containers with a rich turtle soup swimming in sherry; a seafood gumbo swimming with crab; and an Andouille and sweet potato bisque.

While Jean busied himself pouring brandy and berating his flunky about how to arrange the soup on the banquet table, merman Rene Delachaise arrived with a boxful of dishes he finally admitted had been made by his stepmother Michelle. “She stays up in da parish, babe,” he told me (which in the local vernacular means she lives in St. Bernard Parish, east of New Orleans).

Michelle had made a feast of traditional South Louisiana dishes. We had stuffed merliton (a locally grown, mild winter squash, baked and then stuffed with the squash and shrimp and crab); oyster dressing (made with day-old French bread and seasoned with oysters, onions, celery, parsley); and, finally, a platter of gator bites (cut in meaty chunks, battered, and fried).

Being old buddies, Jean and Rene got rid of the flunky (they didn’t kill him but just sent him back to the Beyond clutching a fistful of gator bites), then huddled at the end of the table to talk business. I heard something about slot machines before I was distracted by Alex and Jake Warin, who arrived toting desserts and making bets on the chances of the New Orleans Saints making the playoffs.

Suzanne Johnson River RoadWhen I asked if they’d actually MADE the desserts, they both gave me blank shifter/loup-garou face. “Yeah, we used the same kitchen as the pirate,” Alex said, nodding at Rene and giving Jean a cool, scornful look. Jean grinned at him, and though I heard some muttering about “le petit chien,” I decided to ignore both of them and help Jake unpack the goods.

As soon as I saw the coconut cake, I knew one of the guys had made a trip to Mississippi. Jake’s mom does a mean coconut cake, and Alex’s mom, Norma, had contributed a rich bread pudding heavy with raisins and bourbon.

Alex and Jean spoke at the same time. “There’s DJ” and “There is my lovely Jolie!”

“Well, crap. I didn’t know they were ALL going to be here or I’d have gone to see Lincoln.” DJ’s voice beat her up the stairs from the Napoleon House courtyard a few seconds before she appeared, carrying her contribution to the dinner. I eyed the giant plastic bag from Popeye’s Fried Chicken in one hand and the box of Aunt Sally’s pralines under the other arm, and remembered why I like this snarky little wizard.

A crash from behind us drew our attention. The pan of oyster dressing lay on the floor, minus most of its contents, which now adorned the front of Alex’s sweater.

“Pardon, Monsieur Chien. My hand slipped.” Jean Lafitte tossed a linen napkin at Alex and was too busy smirking to notice Jake until he upended the bread pudding over the pirate’s head.

“I bet that bread pudding was great,” DJ said, stepping back as Rene launched himself at Jake and sent the platter of gator bites flying.

“Yeah.” I eyed the overturned soup dishes regretfully but shifted my gaze to the bag of spicy fried chicken. “Bet we could eat that in the car on the way to the theater. Where’s Lincoln playing?”

“Elmwood.” DJ handed me the Aunt Sally’s box. “They’ll never miss us. Who’s going to pay for the damages?”

A chair collapsed between the combined weight of Alex and Jean with a crack of splintering wood. One was choking the other, but I couldn’t quite tell which was which.
“Whoever has the most cash or gold on them.” I followed DJ down the stairs. “My money’s on the pirate.”

From the cast of River Road, happy Reveillon! What’s your favorite family holiday dish?

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Thanks for visiting us and giving us a peek at your characters over the holidays, Suzanne!

Want more Suzanne? You can find her online at her website or on Facebook, or Twitter.

You can also see the rest of her tour by clicking on the tour button below.

River Road blog tour

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More about RIVER ROAD:

River Road by Suzanne JohnsonHurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

You can see what I thought of ROYAL STREET by clicking on the cover:

Suzanne Johnson Royal Street

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giveaway

One (1) tour-wide winner will get his or her choice of Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Simple Touch (or $100 gift card for Amazon, B&N, or Book Depository)
and five (5) lucky people will win a $10 gift card for Amazon, B&N or Book Depository

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jenn

River Road by Suzanne Johnson

River Road by Suzanne Johnson River Road by Suzanne Johnson

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 360 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release date: November 13, 2012

Series: Sentinel of New Orleans #2

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

Three year have passed since the events in ROYAL STREET (which I talked about a little while ago) but some things remain the same. New Orleans hasn’t fully recovered from Katrina, though things are better than they were. DJ and Alex are still co-sentinels, policing the prete (as in “preternatural”) world. They’ve developed a good working relationship but their attraction simmers underneath it all, though they haven’t acted on it *too much* because of their friendship and work relationship. Jean Lafitte, the dead pirate who likes to visit from the Beyond, is still very interested in DJ and she often finds herself drawn to him despite her better judgment. Jake, Alex’s cousin who went loup garou in the last book, is also still around but he and DJ haven’t seen each other since the events in ROYAL STREET.

Something that has changed: the scope of the series. Suzanne Johnson really expands DJ’s world with RIVER ROAD, as we venture further afield from New Orleans and meet new species of pretes: merpeople and nymphs! It’s an exciting development because we’re seeing more of the physical world and because we’re seeing DJ grow as a person and a sentinel. In ROYAL STREET, she had a lot to adjust to but now, in RIVER ROAD, she’s a bit more confident, even when the problem goes from being just a dispute between two families of merpeople to something with a greater scope. DJ and Alex also have to solve the murder of two Green Congress wizards that are discovered early on in their work with the merpeople, so the investigative and problem-solving aspects of the book are on full display.

Of course, DJ also has to grapple with the three men in her life. Jake is no longer human so dating him comes with a new set of rules, Jean Lafitte is interested and has some redeeming qualities, to DJ’s dismay, and Alex is, well, Alex. He’s attractive and capable and off-limits, which makes some of his behaviour confusing. It just breaks my heart, her being desired by these three interesting characters. 😉

Also in play in RIVER ROAD is DJ’s elven heritage. She learned about it in ROYAL STREET and she’s still learning how to use her abilities, particularly the wooden staff she’s named Charlie. There are some very interesting developments, including a character who enters later in the book that will remain nameless in this post (and of whom I am very suspicious). I hope this is something that Suzanne Johnson will explore in future books in the series because I’m very curious about elves and the Elven Synod.

RIVER ROAD is a strong sequel to ROYAL STREET sure to please existing fans and win new ones. Suzanne Johnson takes us on quite an adventure and has me eagerly anticipating ELYSIAN FIELDS, due out in August.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

"When I’m not writing…" with Susannah Sandlin + giveaway!

Thea Harrison

I’m a big fan of this week’s guest: Susannah Sandlin (a.k.a Suzanne Johnson). She’s the mind behind a great new dark paranormal romance series called the Penton Legacy, in which vampires are forced to cope with a dwindling food supply thanks to a vaccine that has one small side effect: it taints users’ blood and leaves them unpalatable for vampires. One vampire, Aidan Murphy, comes up with a unique solution: to build a community when vampires and unvaccinated humans co-exist and help each other. The first book in the series, REDEMPTION, came out earlier this year and Susannah is here to help celebrate the release of the second book, ABSOLUTION, by telling what she does when she’s not writing as one stop on her blog tour.

Keep reading to find out what Susannah does to pass the time AFK and then enter the tour-wide giveaway! There are some awesome prizes to be had! 😀

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Thanks to Tynga’s Reviews for having me here today! “What do you do when you’re not writing?” is a hard question to answer. Before I do, an explanation.

First, I can tell you what I used to do before I started writing fiction. I loved to quilt, particularly paper-pieced quilting. It always amazed me how sewing together hundreds of teeny-tiny scraps of fabric could become something much more than the sum of its parts. Here are a couple of my quilts. Until August of 2005, I had a little cottage industry going, making quilt tops and selling them on eBay to people who liked to quilt but not to piece the tops. I also worked full-time at a local university, and liked to run around on weekends to festivals and antiques shows and art events.

Susannah Sandlin QuiltSusannah Sandlin Quilt

Then came Hurricane Katrina. Oh, did I mention I lived in New Orleans?

Katrina blew a lot of us in different directions. I evacuated at the last minute, and when I was finally allowed to return home after eight long weeks, I began quilting again but my heart wasn’t in it. I started a daily blog where I bitched about recovery and anger and loss every day. Then I tired of navel-gazing and turned my angst to fiction instead. After more than twenty years as a journalist I wrote my first novel in 2009, building on my Katrina experiences. It was called Royal Street, and it became the first in an urban fantasy series, Sentinels of New Orleans, being published under the name Suzanne Johnson.

By then, I had the writing bug, big-time. While waiting for Royal Street to go through the publishing cycle, I turned my hand to paranormal romance and indulged my love of sexy alphas, urban fantasy, and vampires. The result, Redemption, became the first in the Penton Legacy series—book two, Absolution, just came out (the third, Omega, comes out in February). For my romance writing, I chose to use my great-great-great grandmother’s name, Susannah Sandlin. She’s probably spinning in her grave!

So…what do I do when I’m not writing? With two series going simultaneously, I’m writing a lot. I also write a daily book blog called Preternatura and hold down a full-time day job that involves, yes, writing nonfiction.

But lest I come across like a workaholic dullard, I have a few guilty pleasures:

*MUSIC. I’m a complete music junkie—at last count, my iTunes song count was near five figures, and I have more than a thousand vinyl LPs I have no idea what to do with. I have really eclectic taste, leaning toward alternative singer/songwriters. Slaid Cleaves, Chris Knight, and Gurf Morlix are favorites. I also get on obsessive tears where I listen to the same artist for, like, MONTHS without break. It’s kind of like auditory stalking! I spent nine of the last twelve months listening exclusively to Cajun artist Zachary Richard, and the last three months I’ve been obsessed with a French-Canadian artist named David Jalbert. Love him! I have earbuds in all day at the office, then crank up the tunes when I’m writing everything except first drafts, which require quiet for me. I only sing in the car—alone—since I sound alarmingly donkey-like.

*shuffles feet* I allow myself about an hour and a half of TV per day, and use my DVR to record…well, yeah…my favorite reality TV shows. Total brain mush. I somehow manage to squeeze in the biggies like Survivor and The Amazing Race, but really love culture-immersion shows like Swamp People and Ice Road Truckers. When I say I’m looking for my soul mate, a long-haul trucker who hunts gators in his spare time, people think I’m joking. Um….not really.

I have two furkids who were both rescues. Shane is a 25-pound Irish terrier mix and Tanker is a 90-pound behemoth of black chow-golden retriever. They’re both getting old (13 and 12), but are still the funniest dogs in the world.

Susannah Sandlin Dogs Shane and Tanker

And…that’s about it! When I’m not writing books…usually, I’m writing something else!

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Thanks for visiting us, Susannah, on the last day of your blog tour!

For more information about Susannah and her books, check out her website or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

To see Susannah’s other stops, click on the tour button below.

Susannah Sandlin blog tour

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Here’s the scoop on ABSOLUTION:

Absolution by Susannah SandlinWith the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side. To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

You should also check out REDEMPTION, the first book in the series:

Redemption by Susannah SandlinFor vampire Aidan Murphy, life has never been so desperate. The vaccine used to treat a global pandemic has rendered human blood deadly to his kind, leaving them on the brink of starvation and civil war. In tiny Penton, Alabama, Aidan establishes a peaceful community of vampires and unvaccinated human donors. He dares to hope they can survive — until his estranged brother descends upon Penton and begins killing the humans. Determined to save his town, Aidan kidnaps an unsuspecting human doctor…and finds himself falling in love for the first time in nearly four centuries.

Dr. Krystal Harris thought she was coming to Penton for a job interview, but Aidan Murphy has other plans. Infuriated by his high-handed scheme to imprison her in the small town, Krys can’t ignore the attraction between them. But is it love? Or does her dangerous, charismatic captor want only to bend her to his will?

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

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giveaway

TOUR-WIDE GIVEAWAY

Kindle Paper White (or $100 U.S. gift card to Amazon, B&N, or Book Depository winner’s choice)
5 signed print or audio copies of Absolution (winner’s choice of print or audio)

To enter the giveaway, obey the Rafflecopter!

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Do you guys have suggestions for who you’d like to see featured on the blog? If so, you can make your suggestions on this page. No guarantees that your favorite authors will be able to participate but we’ll try!

Authors, would you like to visit and share with us? Please email me at jennblogs (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll set it up!

Jenn

Absolution by Susannah Sandlin

Absolution by Susannah Sandlin Absolution by Susannah Sandlin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 327 pages
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: August 7, 2012

Series: Penton Legacy #2

Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. Mirren Kincaid once served the tribunal as their most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the tribunal wants him back on their side. To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?

As you may remember from my post last month, I really enjoyed REDEMPTION, the first book in the Penton Legacy series. ABSOLUTION, the second book, may just be better!

A quick reminder about the basic concept of the series: Vampires exist but most of the world doesn’t know about them. They’re in crisis because there was a vaccine that went out all over the world and one of its side-effects is that it keeps vampires from feeding on humans because they taste like ick. Penton is a small community founded by Aidan Murphy in which vampires and humans are aware of each other and live peacefully and rather symbiotically. It’s a really interesting setting: the vampires are living in this sort of post-apocalyptic world but everything’s business as usual for most of the planet.

In ABSOLUTION, Susannah Sandlin (a.k.a. Suzanne Johnson) puts one of Aidan’s lieutenants in the romantic hot seat: Mirren, formerly the Slayer for the Vampire Tribunal, who faked his own death to try to find a new life in Penton. Needless to say, he’s a complicated guy and it was a real treat getting to know him better. I really liked Mirren in his supporting role in REDEMPTION and he’s even more enjoyable as the main focus!

The leading lady of the story is also a delight. I adored Glory. She and Mirren meet under terrible circumstances but she’s not afraid of him, even knowing he’s a vampire and knowing just how terrible vampires can be. In fact, she forces Mirren to lower his shields and accept him in her life when she’s forced to stay in Penton for her own safety. Her interactions with Merrick, particularly those that take place shortly after she arrives in Penton, are delightful and I just couldn’t put the book down. We learn so much about the inner workings on Mirren’s mind! In fact, I was so hooked on their budding and sexy romance that I stayed up super late getting it finished because I needed to know just how they were going to get their Happily Ever After.

There are also some major developments in terms of the series story arc, with Penton’s battle with Matthias and some parts of the Vampire Tribunal being brought to the fore. Susannah Sandlin’s not messing around, folks, with the action or the steamy romance! The pace is quick and there are some amazing and unexpected scenes in ABSOLUTION. And the book ends in a way that has me dying to see what’s going to happen next so I’m going to be on pins and needles until OMEGA, the third book in the Penton Legacy series, comes out! If you haven’t given this series a try, I strongly urge you to head to the bookstore or jump online and order it because you definitely won’t be sorry!

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Redemption by Susannah Sandlin

Redemption by Susannah Sandlin Redemption by Susannah Sandlin

Book stats:
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 320 pages
Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release date: June 19, 2012

Series: Penton Legacy #1

Source: Review copy from author

Reviewed by: Jenn

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

For vampire Aidan Murphy, life has never been so desperate. The vaccine used to treat a global pandemic has rendered human blood deadly to his kind, leaving them on the brink of starvation and civil war. In tiny Penton, Alabama, Aidan establishes a peaceful community of vampires and unvaccinated human donors. He dares to hope they can survive — until his estranged brother descends upon Penton and begins killing the humans. Determined to save his town, Aidan kidnaps an unsuspecting human doctor…and finds himself falling in love for the first time in nearly four centuries.

Dr. Krystal Harris thought she was coming to Penton for a job interview, but Aidan Murphy has other plans. Infuriated by his high-handed scheme to imprison her in the small town, Krys can’t ignore the attraction between them. But is it love? Or does her dangerous, charismatic captor want only to bend her to his will?

Susannah Sandlin is a pen name for Suzanne Johnson, which had me all kinds of excited because I loved her urban fantasy debut, ROYAL STREET. In REDEMPTION, she offers readers something a little different, as she shifts gears to paranormal romance with a focus on vampires, which keeps all of the positives of her other writing while upping the sexy.

First and foremost, I love the setting of REDEMPTION. Vampires are still underground and their very existence is threatened by a vaccination that caused minute changes in people who received it, making their blood poisonous to vampires. Aidan Murphy has started a small colony in Penton, Alabama, where vampires and unvaccinated humans live in harmony, a completely new idea in this world. The humans are all bonded to vampires, who are all bonded to Aidan, and everyone is carefully screened, creating a very Eden-like atmosphere, except for the dangers from the outside. This sort of post-apocalyptic setting (even though it’s not an apocalypse for the human population) reminds me a lot of the town in I Am Legend (the movie) or the Epitaph episodes of Dollhouse (or any number of doomed-society-looking-for-a-haven movies/shows/ books), which I always enjoy. Of course, not everyone supports this endeavour, and some fear Aidan because of his revolutionary ideas and the number of vampires in his scathe, which is what brings Aidan’s brother Owen into the picture, as he menaces residents trying to undo Aidan’s work. As part of his attack, he’s killed the town’s doctor, which is why Krystal Harris enters the picture.

Of the two main characters, Krys is definitely my favourite. She’s got such a dynamic personality! She comes from an abusive family but that wasn’t the main focus of her character, which was refreshing. Instead, she finds humour where others might not, is excellent at her job, and actually considers the idea of Stockholm Syndrome when she starts falling for Aidan, which was great because it’s something I wonder about — after all, how many heroines start falling for their captors without questioning it? In contrast, I wasn’t all that into Aidan, though he did grow on me over the course of the novel as we learned more about his motivations and back story. Despite being quite old, he’s still rather human. He fidgets, he’s fallible, and he broods. In fact, the same can be said for a lot of the vampires in this book — many of them retain a lot of human characteristics and aren’t the sort of super still, inhuman vampires you see in other stories. (There are a couple like that but all of the main folks are much more relatable.) My favourite characters in the novel are probably Hannah, one of the members of Aidan’s scathe, and Melissa, Aidan’s human familiar.

The writing in REDEMPTION is also top-notch. The action is well choreographed and each of the main characters has a very clear voice when the story’s being told from their point of view. There’s also some nice humour in the story, like the quotation below, which really made me chuckle. I love a bit of dry wit. =)

He [Aidan] took a quick shower and dressed in a pair of black wool pants and a pale blue cashmere sweater he’d never have picked for himself―he didn’t much care what he wore, so he let Melissa shop for him. He wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by calling him a “vampire Ken doll,” but it had to be bad because it amused her so much.

REDEMPTION is the first book in the Penton Legacy series and I’m excited to see what happens for the other characters in this world. The author has done a marvellous job of setting up the series arc and creating characters you’ll root for and I can’t wait to see what will happen next to/for Penton’s residents. REDEMPTION is a wonderful paranormal romance that is sure to delight fans of the genre.

Read an excerpt

Jenn

Giveaway: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

giveaway

I have an exciting treat for you today: a giveaway of ROYAL STREET by Suzanne Johnson, thanks to the lovely folks at Tor Books!

ROYAL STREET is the first book in a new urban fantasy series set in post-Katrina New Orleans. It’s a wonderful debut, filled with great characters and a meaty story. It hit shelves on Tuesday and I’d encourage you all to run out and get your hands on a copy of your own as soon as possible!

Here’s the scoop on ROYAL STREET:

Suzanne Johnson Royal StreetAs the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco’s job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ’s boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans’ fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards’ Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ’s new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

Jenn’s thoughts

Read an excerpt

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Tor is graciously offering one (1) copy of ROYAL STREET to a lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

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Ends Sunday, April 29, 2012

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Jenn