by Teal Ceagh, guest blogger and author of Mia’s Return.
People tend to look at me oddly when I tell them I write erotic urban fantasy.
Paranormal romances are everywhere these days. Even erotic paranormals are almost commonplace. But when you say you write erotic urban fantasies, readers’ eyes narrow as they try to fit that into their mental landscape of the fiction genre world. I’m not an easy fit.
Try writing it.
Especially try writing a novella.
Erotic romance, as we all know, is very much about developing the romance via the sexual side of the relationship. Authors spend pages and pages…well, most of the damn book, actually, focused on the two (or three or more) lovers falling in love in flagrante delicto. Delicious….
Okay, so now consider urban fantasy. You have all the hallmarks of traditional high fantasy – look at The Lord of the Rings, with its thousands of years of history, five distinct languages, four major species, and three hundred thousand words in the main volume alone. Wonderful stuff. I read the book once every year or so. But that stuff takes a lot of time and space to tell the story properly. Pages and pages, one might say, especially with all that backstory.
Urban Fantasy is no different. You’ve got a modern-day setting, but the fantasy species populating the malls and city streets still have histories, backstories that need explaining, wars that have origins that need developing, and pages and pages of development that need to be squeezed into the narrative without boring the reader or slowing down the action.
Urban Fantasy authors long ago learned the trick of not sending the reader to sleep with endless backstory that halted the action. They instead feed it into the story in small dribbles while the main action is moving on, and the reader shouldn’t really notice that he’s getting a thousand year history lesson along with a sword fight and a romance.
But add an erotic romance to an urban fantasy and you add all sorts of headaches to the author’s lot.
For a start, the author is supposed to spend a great deal of time focusing on the sexual subplot. Even dribbling in the tiniest amount of history lesson is going to look downright weird when the hero is nibbling on the heroine’s toes. See the problem?
For most authors, erotic romance + urban fantasy seem like an oxymoron, and they shy away from the challenge.
But I kept reading all these otherwise superb urban fantasies, except for one glaring exception. The “hero” and the “heroine” would dance around each other coyly for three books, then maybe kiss and cuddle for the tail end of the third.
And that was it for the “romantic interest” for three freaking books!
I like my urban fantasy, sure, but I like my romances at industrial strength, thank you. And that didn’t do it for me. Not even close.
So I thought I’d write an urban fantasy that actually had an industrial strength romance in it, the sort of romance I like. As I like the sort of romances you get from Ellora’s Cave, that meant erotic. Spicy erotic.
The series I ended up writing were a series of three novellas (just to add to the challenge, I was limited to 30,000 words per book), called Destiny’s Trinities. The first of them, Beth’s Acceptance, came out last month. The one I’m talking about today is the second in the series, Mia’s Return. It will be released on November 28th, a mere thirteen days before the third in the series will be released, Sera’s Gift.
I had a blast writing these books. There’s something very liberating about building your own fantasy universe, and I really got to know and love these characters.
I’ve since written two more stories that are set in the same universe, but are unrelated to the Trinity books. Ellora’s Cave have bought both of them, and they will be appearing in 2010.
Mia’s Return was the hardest to fit into the novella length. There was a huge amount of backstory involved and the editing involved to bring it down to length was painful. But I got there!
Ten years ago, Alexander hungered for Mia Menendez and for a single day they had indulged that passion before tragedy struck. Now Mia is back, but she thinks Alexander died ten years ago and no man has been able to stir her heart since. The truth could kill her.
Wyatt Whitacker, demon hunter, hates Alexander and all his kind. But one look at Mia and her pulse-stopping curves and his scarred, angry heart begins to melt and his body to rouse in ways he’s long forgotten.
The bonding has begun…
He considered running down the fire escape stairs to the foyer and avoiding the congestion in the elevators. At this time of day it would take forever. The stairs wouldn’t tax him in the slightest. But it might draw attention to him. So he patiently waited for the elevator and stepped on with a dozen others and moved to the side to give them room.
The elevator stopped on the next floor, with more people getting on but by then his animal instinct was crowding him, making the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He was being watched. His heart thundered.
He made no sudden moves. Instead, as people pushed onto the elevator, he turned so his back was to the side wall of the car, giving him an excuse to look at everyone if he brought his head up.
He lifted his head and looked around.
She was standing on the other side of the car, almost completely obscured by the other riders because she was only just over five foot.
Mia. Shamira Menendez of San Diego, California.
His first aching thought was, You’re so fucking beautiful, Mia.
Then reality caught him in the chest. Mia was staring at him because she thought he was dead. She thought he died ten years ago, in San Diego.
And now she was watching him with tears in her eyes and all he could think about was his swelling cock and his exploding heart and how much he wanted to take up where he had left off…bending her over the counter, sliding his cock into her pussy and making her scream his name.
“Are you all right, sir?”
He tore his gaze away from Mia. “Excuse me?” he said hoarsely. He looked down at the gray-haired lady next to him.
“Your breathing is all funny,” she said. “Are you claustrophobic?”
Others were looking at him now. Becoming the center of attention was never a good thing for a vampire. Zack had drilled that into him. Seaveth was even more of a sergeant about it, now vampires were assimilating into human society. He swallowed. “I’m fine,” he said.
But he wasn’t. He looked at Mia. She was still watching. She knew it was him. There was no way to deny it. No escape. No bluff he could use to fool her. The knowledge gleamed in her eyes.
“Give him room, please,” she said. “Everyone, stand back a bit.” She was stepping closer, taking charge.
They all shuffled back, clearing eighteen inches. Mia squeezed between them and stepped into the space. “Take a deep breath,” she told him, her voice low.
He couldn’t tear his gaze from her face. The tears in her eyes pooled and one fell down her cheek. Just one. But she didn’t wipe it, or show any sign of emotion. Cool, calm, controlled. “We’re nearly there,” she added, speaking for the others in the car, maintaining the illusion of a claustrophobe in full panic mode. She knew as well as he did it was nothing of the sort.
As the doors opened, the others stood back, letting them exit first. She grabbed his lapels and hauled him from the car. He let her, for he stood a foot higher than her and outweighed her by nearly a hundred pounds. But her scent alone was wreathing his head and making his senses reel. Something with vanilla and…grapefruit? He could feel his incisors trying to descend and his mouth filling with vampire saliva to deaden her flesh so she wouldn’t feel the first piercing of his teeth. His cock was pounding with the agonizing need to slam her against the walls of the foyer and fuck her senseless.
He was almost hyperventilating with the dilemma.
Her hand rested on his chest. God, he could feel her heat through her hand. He swallowed.
“You’re supposed to be dead,” she whispered. No hello. No attempt to confirm who he was. She was that sure of him despite ten years.
He couldn’t afford to answer her, to even start the conversation. Instead, he stared at her, soaking up details. She had been eighteen when he left and even at that age, infinitely dangerous to his pulse. Now she was a mature woman and beyond dangerous. He could feel it in his heart, his mind, his cock. His whole body was responding to her like a nuclear magnet. She wore her dark hair down to her shoulder blades but styled in some mysterious fashion that just brushed over one eye and framed her high cheekbones and pointed chin. Her black eyes, still gleaming with tears, with their arched strong brows, were staring at him, giving him no quarter. They never had. And her lips…full, the top one like a cupid’s bow. He had dreamed about kissing those lips and woken sweating in his lonely bed all those years ago when he could sweat. Those lips still looked sweet, the teeth behind them white and beckoning.
Mia was wearing a dress. He had no way to describe it, except to say it wrapped her in roses and made the most of her figure. And she had a figure. Even at eighteen she’d had a figure. He had lusted after it. And in ten years, it had changed very little. Her breasts had not sagged. Her hips had not spread. And her waist was still as tiny as ever. It was that tiny waist he had grabbed as he bent her over the counter…
He realized his heart was thundering in his ears. With her hand on his chest, she must surely feel it too.
She was frowning, staring at him. “You haven’t changed,” she said. “Not at all.” And she stepped back, her hand falling away.
Alexander realized she had seen, then, he had not aged. This was one of the reasons that Zachariah and Diego had insisted he move to New York once Zack had made him.
Mia took another step backward and he could see her doing the mental math.
“Mia,” he began and stopped, mentally cursing. He’d just confirmed he was who she thought he was. Until that moment there had remained the possibility of pretending she’d made an embarrassing mistake. It would have killed him to do it but it would have been a way out. That chance was gone now. He closed his eyes. What a fucking disaster. He opened them again and took a last look at her. Beautiful Mia. She was starting to realize there was something dreadfully wrong. Horror was creeping into her expression. He needed to leave before she began to look at him like the monster he was.
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