Guest Author: Annette McCleave

I’m excited to welcome author Annette McCleave to LE as we celebrate the release of her new novel Drawn into Darkness – book one in her Soul Gatherers series, which releases today.

For centuries Lachlan MacGregor has battled demon thieves for the souls of the dead, carrying out his pledge to deliver them into Heaven or Hell. But his greatest challenge as a Soul Gatherer is now among the living.

Struggling to connect with her troubled teenage daughter Emily, artist Rachel Lewis turns to her enigmatic yet strangely compelling neighbor Lachlan for advice. As Lachlan soon discovers, the young girl has fallen victim to a seductive demon—a specter from the past using the unsuspecting women to fulfill an ancient prophesy and settle a hellish score with Lachlan himself.

In the race to save Emily and avert a disastrous power shift among the deities, Rachel and Lachlan forge an uncommon bond. But how can Lachlan tell the mortal woman he’s falling in love with that the next soul he’s been enlisted to gather—and deliver beyond—is her daughter’s?

Make sure you stick around. We’re giving away a copy of Drawn into Darkness to one lucky commentators
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Thanks for inviting me to guest blog here on Literary Escapism! My debut novel, Drawn into Darkness, hits store shelves today, so I’m crazy excited. Actually, I’m hyper-ventilating, but give me a day or so—I’ll get over it. J

Heroines with Drawing Power

Being a heroine in today’s paranormal romance is a tough gig. Not only do you need to be able handle surprise visits by vampires, ghosts, zombies, and demons from hell, but you’ve got to rise above the hardship and develop into the well-rounded (pun intended) woman the hunky hero deserves.

The job often requires skill with a sword, gun, or crossbow. Occasionally, all three. Squeamishness, especially over tattoos or demon-forged stigmata is frowned upon, but can be tolerated as long as it never interferes with saving the world.

But not all heroines are cut from the same cloth. Not all of them are born with super powers or the pressing urge to slay demons. Some of them initially rebel against the whole concept of a paranormal world. Does that make them any less heroic? Not necessarily. It depends on what they do when they discover the demons are real, what inner strength they bring to the table when it’s needed.

Rachel, the heroine of Drawn into Darkness, has no super power. Not unless you count her badass graphic design skills. She’s a single mom struggling with a career, a deadbeat ex-husband, and a troubled teen. She’s sacrificed her own personal needs in order to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. When trouble first starts, she does ordinary things—calls the police, asks for help from the priest upstairs. But as her life turns upside down, she reaches for and finds new strengths.

Excerpt:

Leaning over the napkins spread across her lap, she bit into her meal. A big blob of chili plopped onto the paper.

“I love those things,” a low, male voice said.

She glanced left . . . and almost choked on her hot dog.

Sprawled on the bench next to her was Em’s guy friend from the fairgrounds, smiling as if they were best buds. His short haircut created a disarming cap of blond curls upon his head, and his clothing bore the casual stamp of American Eagle, but all Rachel saw was the hard, polished look in his green eyes.

She swallowed a lump of food.

“Unfortunately,” he added, wrinkling his nose, “they don’t love me. I get heartburn every time.”

Doing her damnedest not to let on how much his sudden appearance disturbed her, Rachel placed her chili dog carefully in her lap. “Do I know you?”

His smile deepened. “Yes, of course you do, Rachel. I’m Drew, Em’s boyfriend.”

What was she supposed to say to that?

“I know you followed us out to the fairgrounds the other night. I saw you in the trees.”

She glanced away.

“I confess you intrigue me, Rachel. I don’t remember my own mother, so this notion of going to great lengths to protect a child is fascinating. And when I look at you”—his eyes briefly dropped to her chest—“I don’t think mother.”

Rachel decided to ignore the sexual undertones. “How did you find out where I worked?”

“Em told me.” His eyes lit with humor. “She tells me everything.”

“I’ll bet,” Rachel muttered. “Since you’re here, let’s be frank. I don’t like my daughter hanging out with you. You’re way too . . . old . . . for her. I want you to stay away from her.”

“I can’t.” Drew sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees. His expression took on a serious air, and his eyes met hers with steady strength. No hint of subterfuge or lie. “I know this is hard to believe, but I truly love her. She’s the brightest, sweetest girl I’ve ever met, and she accepts me for who I am. You have no idea how liberating that can be.”

“What a crock.” Rachel glared. That genial air came naturally to him, and it was easy to see how Em had been charmed. But she was not Em. Her experience with Grant had soured her on boyish charmers. “She’s still a child, while you’re—what—twenty?”

“Twenty-two.”

“Twenty-two and taking advantage of a girl eight years younger than you . . . Are you crazy, or just criminally stupid?”

He sat back, smiling. “I see where Em gets her vibrant personality. I like you, Rachel.”

“Well, the feeling’s not mutual. I want you to stop seeing Em and get out of our lives. Go find a girl your own age.”

“Not too many of those around, I’m afraid. And none as fascinating as Em.”

When the situation gets ugly, Rachel doesn’t run and hide—she confronts her fears and her weaknesses … and she conquers them. She stands tall for her daughter and the hero. And for herself. She uses the powers she has, ordinary as they might be, to do what she needs to do. That makes her a hero in my book. Literally! J

What characteristics or qualities do you expect in your paranormal romance heroines? Do you have a preference for kick-butt chicks like Buffy, or do you prefer to see ordinary women rise up and do extraordinary things? Think about the books you’ve enjoyed lately—what was it that made the heroine work—or not work—for you?

Contest Time: This is one of the stops on my Cross into Darkness blog tour. In celebration of my release, I’m offering one commenter here today a copy of Drawn into Darkness. In addition, over at my personal blog, I’m running a grand prize contest. I’ve posted a mystery photo, and at each stop on my tour, I’m giving a clue about the identity of that photo. If you guess correctly and submit an entry over at my site, you could win a silver Celtic cross not unlike the one my hero Lachlan MacGregor wears. Contest details, including the stops on my tour are listed on my blog.

Literary Escapism Clue: In the Highlands

Good luck!

The second book in the Soul Gatherer series, BOUND BY DARKNESS, releases in May 2010.
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Thank you Annette for visiting Literary Escapism.

Contest Time!  You heard Annette…we’re giving away a copy of Drawn into Darkness a lucky commentators and it’s very easy to enter. All you have to do is answer this one simple question: What characteristics or qualities do you expect in your paranormal romance heroines? Remember, you do have to answer the question in order for your comment to count. The contest is open to everyone, so everyone overseas can join in the fun as well.

As always, if you want more chances to win, you can post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it (#litesc), share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer (all in the same post please). The more places you share it, the more entries you get.

For more entries, purchase any novel through LE’s Amazon store sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: myjaxon AT gmail DOT com. Each purchase is one entry and it has to be through the LE Link.

Join the Literary Escapism Facebook page and you’ll get an additional entry. Make sure you leave a comment here so I know that’s why you’re joining. Only new readers to the group will be considered.

For an additional entry, subscribe to Literary Escapism’s newsletter in the sidebar. All current subscribers will also have an additional entry.

I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer. All entries must be in by midnight on September 8th.

About Jackie 3273 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.

6 Comments

  1. For me, all heroines must have a spine but not overtly independent that they snarl each time a man offers some help!

  2. I really like heroines who aren’t necessarily the megapowerful, can do it all type. I am fond of the heroine that knows her strengths and her weaknesses (Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre is a good example). I like characters who don’t keep getting more and more powerful so that they can handle everything that comes there way. I want a little realism. Smart mouthed is always good but sarcastic and self depricating is good too. I basically can’t stand TSTL and am open to just about anything else.

    Thanks for the great post!

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