I’m excited to welcome Veronica Scott to the blog today with a “why I wrote” AND an exclusive cover reveal! I’m so excited and honored and I LOVE this cover! Okay, I’ll go squee in a corner and let Veronica share her story!
The original plan was to have my latest book released and available for people to rush out and buy (I’m ever hopeful LOL) well before this guest post ran. But real life intervenes and my editor got tangled up in various things beyond her control and so here I sit, with no book to sell yet.
But Pauline kindly said we could do the cover reveal and talk about the book a bit today anyway. Important to note I will get Danger in the Stars released by the end of March!
So here’s my beautiful cover, courtesy of Fiona Jayde, who does all my scifi romance covers.
The blurb for the book:
Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a group of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others.
Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.
The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?
Why I Wrote This Book: When Pauline and I were putting together the Pets In Space anthology last year, I wrote a story for the volume about Miriell’s sister, who was found as a stowaway on my interstellar cruise ship, the Nebula Zephyr, and her adventures fighting her way free of the Combine. She escaped the villains almost by accident, because she had help from my spaceship crew (and the pets).
I realized after I finished that novella that I wasn’t done with the subject of these beautiful, empathic women and their predicament with the Sectors’ organized crime syndicate. I decided to tell a much longer story for Miriell, putting her in the heart of the operation, at the mercy of her violent ‘controller’, and when I asked myself who would be her hero, Conor Stewart appeared.
She sees good in him, well hidden under the façade of the dangerous hitman and crime boss. He goes out of his way to help her when he can and cautious attraction blossoms between them. Not to give spoilers but there’s much more to Conor than meets the eye. He is a hero!
It’s not my usual Sectors spaceships and blasters scifi story (although there certainly are some of both elements in the action scenes) but I was really intrigued with telling this tale and exploring a few things about both the empathic priestess (which brings in my element of mysticism that I always like to incorporate) and the stone cold mob hitman, who has to fight his deepest instincts to preserve and protect. When it comes to Miriell, he can’t stand by and let her remain a pawn of the Combine. This is a romance, so the Happily Ever After ending is guaranteed, even if perilous for my couple to attain.
The Excerpt: Here are the first 1000 words of the novel:
The nausea was always the worst part of emerging from cryo sleep. Miriell fought her confused thoughts and the incipient headache, trying not to throw up. She curled into a ball on her side, hands fisted on her unhappy stomach and bit her lip to avoid moaning.
A rough hand on her shoulder, shaking her. “Come on, you know we don’t have time for this sick act of yours. Snap out of it, the client’s waiting so see what you can do.” Jarek’s voice changed, became more congenial, placating almost. Clearly he was no longer speaking to her. “These exotics don’t do well with cryo sleep, but she’ll be on her feet in a minute or two, I promise. Then we can be on our way.”
“Good. The boss is getting impatient, waiting in the limo. She doesn’t spend much time in cargo warehouses.”
The new voice was deep and although the tone was rough and the words clipped, Miriell felt as if a warm blanket had been placed over her shoulders. Intrigued by her own reaction, she forced herself to sit up on the floor, bracing herself against the cargo container that had been her prison. Blinking to focus, she turned her head, searching for the owner of the new voice.
Jareck grabbed her elbow in a bruising grip and yanked her to her feet. He must have removed the shackles while she was still unconscious. Giving her a shake, he said, “I swear, every time we travel for a job, you act as if your sweet time asleep in the cryo unit was torture.”
Maybe because for me it is. Swaying, balance still off, she couldn’t resist Jareck as he tugged her close to him, the smell of his cheap cologne another assault on her overloaded senses. Her stomach heaved and she had to make a conscious effort not to throw up all over him, slapping her free hand over her mouth.
“Do I have to carry you?” His voice was low and she knew it was a threat. He’d make her pay later.
With painful effort, she straightened her spine and stepped away, brushing one hand down her plain gray tunic in a vain attempt to smooth out the wrinkles. “I can walk.”
“You don’t look like it.”
Their new companion was no one she’d ever met before, tall, broad shoulders, heavily muscled, with black hair and gray eyes that were almost silver. She was mesmerized by his eyes. Miriell wished she dared to engage her gifts, get a sense of this person, maybe figure out why he made her feel safe, when clearly she was anything but. Jareck stopped to pick up his kit bag, never releasing his hold on her.
“Conor’s right, we’ve got to be going. You’re ready to behave, right?”
Submissively she nodded, bottling up her anger and hatred. Someday I’ll get my chance and you will die. The implacable secret vow was the only thing keeping her going. There would be revenge, not only for herself but for all the others. Hands at her sides, head bowed, she said, “As you wish, sir.”
“How do you ensure she won’t make a break for it when we walk outside, won’t scream for help?”
Jareck pulled a slim black AI case from his pocket and waved the device under her nose. Miriell fought not to flinch. He grabbed the necklace at her throat, a thick collar of golden substance, set with a few random faux gems. “We taught them to behave right from the start. See this? It’s explosive.”
The other man moved so fast Miriell could only blink. He snatched the AI from Jareck’s hand and shoved the skinny man against the wall. “You’re planning to blow this woman up? And us with her?”
Pulling at Conor’s arm to no avail, Jareck choked. “No, it’s a directed charge, sophisticated, kills her and localizes the effects. A bit messy but not like you’re thinking. I swear.”
Conor frowned at the device in his hand and then at Miriell, who struggled to remain calm, to push away the memories of when the Amarotu thugs who kept her and her people captive demonstrated the way the collar worked, selecting a man at random from their group and ruthlessly killing him as Jareck was describing.
Conor released Jareck, stepped away and tossed the AI back to him. “A bit overly dramatic and barbaric, don’t you think?”
“Nah, these people are savages. Didn’t even know they lived on a planet going around a sun when the Shemdylann slavers captured them. The Tulavarrans understand brute force, for all they’ve got a touch of psy power.” Coughing, Jareck came back to her. “And she knows damn well if she misbehaves, we’ll kill a few of her friends too. The deadly consequences in store keep them in line.”
Conor stared at her. She felt his gaze as if it was a physical force. “I’ll take your word for it. All I care about is you and your exotic getting the job done for us the way the boss wants.” Brushing his hands as if to say he was done with them and their problems, he walked to the door.
Jareck rushed to grab her, towing her after the other man. “Oh she’ll get the job done all right. These people are amazingly effective.”
The sunlight was blinding to Miriell after recently awakening from cryo sleep. She took a deep breath of the fresh air and felt a flicker of energy from the planet’s living things. Much less than she usually picked up after emerging from the cryo pod but the power was restorative, although she tried to hide the fact she was feeling better. The men led her toward a large, sleek groundcar, where a driver waited. The windows in the back were opaque. The driver opened the door for Conor, who climbed in without a second glance at his companions. Jareck shoved Miriell into the vehicle and she fell awkwardly onto a plush seat, with no time to scoot over before her minder was pressing against her as he entered the car. He gave her a violent shove she knew would leave bruises where his hands connected with her body.
Biting her lip she moved against the far door, which she could see was locked. No escape. Never any chance to escape. These people were too thorough.
And be sure to read Star Cruise: Stowaway, my novella in the Pets In Space anthology, featuring Tyrelle, the sister of the heroine in the forthcoming full length novel before the anthology goes off sale May 1st!
Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.” Find out more about Veronica:
So very thrilled to have you on the blog today and can’t wait to read this! So, dear readers, what will you do while you wait for this book to release?
I love comments so much that I pick a favorite to receive my monthly AnaBanana gift basket ($25 value). (And don’t forget that once a quarter I’ll be tossing in something fun from the Perilously Fun Shop!) Recipient is announced the first blog post of the new month.