Molly Reviews, Guest Post and Giveaway: Vespers by Irene Preston and Liv Rancourt (Hours of the Night Book 1)

Thaddeus Dupont has had over eighty years to forget…

The vampire spends his nights chanting the Liturgy of the Hours and ruthlessly disciplines those unnatural urges he’s vowed never again to indulge. He is at the command of the White Monks, who summon him at will to destroy demons. In return, the monks provide for his sustenance and promise the return of his immortal soul.

Sarasija Mishra’s most compelling job qualification might be his type O blood…

The 22-year-old college grad just moved across the country to work for some recluse he can’t even find on the internet. Sounds sketchy, but the salary is awesome and he can’t afford to be picky.  On arrival he discovers a few details his contract neglected to mention, like the alligator-infested swamp, the demon attacks, and the nature of his employer’s “special diet”. A smart guy would leave, but after one look into Dupont’s mesmerizing eyes, Sarasija can’t seem to walk away. Too bad his boss expected “Sara” to be a girl.

Falling in love is hard at any age…

The vampire can’t fight his hungers forever, especially since Sara’s brought him light, laughter and a very masculine heat. After yielding to temptation, Thaddeus must make a choice.  Killing demons may save his soul, but keeping the faith will cost him his heart.

Vespers is a complete novel with no cliffhanger. It can be enjoyed as a standalone or read as the first book in the Hours of the Night series.

Where To Buy:
Amazon || ARe || Barnes & Noble || iBooks || Kobo

This was a fascinating story that I truly enjoyed. I was completely pulled in to the story and wanting to know what’s going on, who’s behind everything and if Thaddeus and Sara will get together and stay together. Nohea was a great character and I loved her part in the story. All three working together to fight the demons were a force to be reckoned with.
Sara was so sweet and I loved how he stuck up for himself. He wouldn’t let Thaddeus treat him bad or use his “whammy”. Sara was so open emotionally it was such a joy to read him. It hurt my heart to see him despair while navigating the ups and downs, ins and outs of his relationship with Thaddeus. But his strength shone through.
Thaddeus was so completely broken in some ways at the beginning of the book. He has his faith but he despairs the ramifications of things that are beyond his control. I enjoyed seeing how he grew and his faith evolved in the story. He is very much still a faithful man and is firm in his beliefs. But he came to realize he doesn’t have to stop living to keep his core values sacred.
The whole book I was amazing at how all of the clues were laid out and teased at about the who and why behind the attacks and demon possessions. But it was still shocking to see the reveal at the end and I loved how I could be both right on my hunches and wrong about everything at the same time. It was quality mystery/suspense writing.
The ending is a wonderful happy for now for these two guys and I hope we get to see more of them, Nohea and maybe a teeny bit with the monks of the Order. I would love to see how Sara handles telling his family about his new boyfriend. Plus how he and Thaddeus handle the topic of life spans. I can see some fabulous Death Stares and blending of feelings in those scenes and I can’t wait to read them.

Guest Post:
I’m so excited to have Ms. Rancourt stop by today. She talks a bit about what it’s like writing with someone else, and how they upped the sexy factor between Thaddeus and Sara throughout the story. If you haven’t checked out the book yet, these two writing together is wonderful and I hope they continue to write together more. Read and enjoy!
First I’d like to thank Molly for having us as guests on her blog. Vespers is the first novel Irene and I have co-written, and we’re awfully excited to be able to tell everyone about it!

Now, any romance writer worth her similes has to have at least a passing acquaintance with writing naughty. Even if a French kiss is as racy as the story gets, there’s a lot of work that goes into the build-up to make that kiss really explode.

Okay, maybe explode wasn’t quite the right word, but you get what I mean. For a sex scene to work on a romantic level, the characters need to be more than a sum of their body parts. Now, how does that work when there are two people involved?

Two authors, I mean. Ha! I know what you were thinking, you randy scamp. (lol!) But like I said at the beginning of the post, Vespers is the first story Irene and I have co-written, and I’ll tell you what, writing a sex scene when someone else has a proprietary interest in the characters is a different experience.

Irene talks about how she fell in love with Thaddeus Dupont from the first time he walked across the page. That may be true, but I’ve been pretty infatuated with Sara Mishra, too. We went in knowing our two heroes were going to get romantic, though we did have to make a few key decisions, like how often, and how hot, and who takes the lead.

Since we had an idea for a vampire story where battling demons would be a frequent event, we knew Vespers was going to be more like a sexy urban fantasy than an erotic romance. We took inspiration from series like the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, the Whyborne and Griffin stories by Jordan L. Hawk, or the Night Huntress books by Jeaniene Frost. Like those authors, we wanted a balance between the relationship story and the mystery.

(Fwiw, both the Whyborne and Griffin books and the Night Huntress books show how the relationship between a single couple evolves over multiple adventures, and that aspect was also a source of inspiration for us.)

Because the story is more than a string of sex scenes – although sometimes a string of sex scenes is just what you want to read so I’m not slamming that style – we had ample opportunity to work in our old friend UST. (That’s Unresolved Sexual Tension, and it’s an author’s friend when it comes to torturing a reader.) You can almost do more with UST than with and then his hand went over there, and he licked all over here. Let me give you an example. This is Thaddeus, explaining things to Sara…

Without any apparent conscious decision-making on my part, I covered the distance between the two of us, stopped only by his sharp inhale. I pressed my hand to the wall, nails digging into the flocked paper. He stood still, breathing fast and shallow, his scent enticing me to go closer.

“Your s-sex”— I did not stutter—“is not the problem. My response to it, however, is.”

I could no more meet his eyes than I could have flown to the moon. His heartbeat should have chased me away. The brush of his breath against my throat should have driven me into my room.

“Not a problem to me,” he whispered, the words tickling my skin.

So yeah, we went for a balance of romance and mystery, and we relied more on UST than on graphic descriptions. We also had to work out which character’s point of view we’d be in when the sex scenes happened. Our characters are so very different. I mean, one’s a 115-year-old vampire monk, and the other’s an out n’ proud college grad. On the one hand, giving Sara the sex scenes might seem a little more natural, but getting Thaddeus’s thoughts and impressions, especially as he ended his decades-long celibacy, was key to the story.

In the end, we basically traded back and forth, sharing the wealth – or the pain, depending on your take on writing sex scenes. Regardless, we had fun, and I loved stalking my in-box to see what Irene added to the story. I hope readers like it, too – in fact, Vespers is 25% off for the first week of our release, so grab a copy before the price goes up! Thanks very much!!

Nohea snickered. “Want to know if I turn into a bat?”

“It was a legitimate question.”

“Are you high? How would that work?”

“How do vampires work?” Sara countered.

“Huh. You got me there.”

“So, you ever see him suck anyone dry?”

“No! God, you’re bloodthirsty. He’s careful. He wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“I’ve seen him drain two demons, which is almost the same.”

“No, it isn’t. I’ve never even seen him make a living person woozy. You see how he is. You think he’s not in complete control when he eats?” The words were confident, but she stopped abruptly after the last sentence and made a show of turning her tablet on.

Sara watched her poke at it while he considered her words. “How do you know? I mean, maybe he’s whammied you to forget.”

“Doubtful. He doesn’t mess with my memory. It was one of the things Gran insisted on. She said if we were going to look after him year after year, we had to know what was going on, and we had to trust each other. She said sometimes there would be things we didn’t want to remember, but those would be the memories we needed the most.”

“Yeah, but if he did whammy you, you wouldn’t know, would you?” He had somehow gotten stuck on this line of reasoning. And he had started keeping a log of what he was doing every hour. Mostly nothing, an entirely different problem than why he was keeping track. So far, he hadn’t found any missing time.

“Well, he said he wouldn’t, so I guess I trust him.” She gave him a sharp look. “If he told you he won’t, he won’t. He’s… I give him a hard time, but he’s not bad. He didn’t ask for this either. He’s doing the best he can.”

“Feels like he’s always in my head.”

“The calling and stuff? I think he forgets he’s doing it half the time. The accidental pushes, too. He’s not wiping memories, though. I mean, think about it. If he were wiping, you wouldn’t know he had done any of that shit.”

“I guess.” He wasn’t just worried about the calling. Dupont had become a nightly costar in his dreams, and they were the type of dreams that made his dreams and shared with Dupont an important distinction. “I’m tired of not knowing if I’m hungry or he is.”

“Wait? Say what now?” Nohea put the tablet down.

“Ever since he did the thing with the blood, it’s like we’ve got an open connection. Sometimes I can’t figure out what’s me and what’s him.”

“You’re telling me you can read Thaddeus?” He had Nohea’s full attention, and she looked pissed. “How much blood has he been giving you?”

“None. Well, only the once. Just a tiny bit the night we went to get you at the cemetery. He said it would let him know if I was in trouble. Shouldn’t it have worn off or something? It’s not permanent, is it?”

Nohea stared at him until he started to get worried.

“What? What did he do to me? Am I stuck like this?”

“Hell if I know. The better question might be what did you do to him? I’m pretty much an expert on the effects of vampire blood, and I’ve never heard of what you’re describing. What he has with me is a one-way street for the most part. Unless he’s pushing, I don’t get more than maybe knowing what direction to look for him. I sure as fuck don’t get our emotions confused. Are you sure it isn’t your imagination?”

“No,” he whispered. Because he wasn’t completely sure. Except he mostly was.

“Maybe don’t take any more blood until you figure it out,” Nohea advised.

No shit.

He could feel Dupont upstairs right now. And he almost always knew when he woke up in the afternoon. First there would be the barest spark of awareness buried somewhere deeper than his physical senses. It would grow almost imperceptibly, surfacing until it became a concrete buzz. By the time Dupont came truly awake, Sara would be so accustomed to the extra sensation, he could almost forget about it.

Which reminded him… “It’s still light when he wakes up. Shouldn’t he sleep until sunset?”

“He’s always up before Vespers, and don’t ask me why. It’s just the way he’s programmed. It’ll take more than death to keep him from chanting Lauds, Vespers, and Compline every night.”

More Catholic words. Sara made a mental note to look them up. Catholic rituals would be a concrete line of inquiry—better than this random-questions method. He figured he should get as many answers as possible, though. If self-Renfield training was what it took to be a full member of this team, he intended to ace the course.

Nohea didn’t seem enthusiastic, but kept answering as he went down his list.

Yes, he could cross running water. No, he didn’t have to sleep with dirt from his grave. No, he didn’t have a grave. Garlic, surprisingly, was a real thing and made him break out in hives.

He was getting to more and more obscure vampire lore when he realized he hadn’t followed up on something more pressing.

“You never explained why it’s a problem I’m a guy.”

“Gay vampire,” Nohea said, as though she had explained something.

“Yeah. So?”

Nohea started laughing. “Honey, it’s the one damn question you haven’t asked. That part is true.”

“I still don’t get it. Girls taste better? If he’s gay, he wasn’t screwing them or anything, so what’s the deal?”

“Sara, he’s a monk, right? A Catholic monk. And, let’s just say, eating is…a very physical experience.”

It seemed as though he was still missing something. “Did the girls mind? Before he, you know, made them forget?”

“No. No, they did not mind. Jeez, haven’t you watched any vampire movies?” Nohea threw her head back and moaned. “Oh, oh¸Thaddeus.”

“Nohea.” The voice from behind him didn’t sound pleased.

Shit. How had he missed Dupont coming down again? You’d think whatever connection they shared would kick in a few times when it was useful instead of just when it was annoying and embarrassing.

He turned around to face Dupont, who stood in the doorway, looking about as comfortable as you might expect for a hundred-year-old monk who had just watched his coworker fake an orgasm.

About The Authors:
Irene Preston
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one.  As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe.  Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses. 

Liv Rancourt
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.

Author Contact:
Irene Preston || Facebook || Twitter || Pinterest || Mailing List || Goodreads

Liv Rancourt || Facebook || Twitter || Mailing List || Goodreads

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