No kidding this time, I have a winner—but you have to wait to see who until the end of this post!
So, I think you know quite a bit about the book by now. You know it’s sexy as HELL. You know the hero is a powerful gargoyle come to life at the touch of my gifted (or cursed, depending on your point of view) heroine.
Maybe you don’t know the kind of research I did for this story. Or that I have a love of mythology and folklore that feeds my imagination. In this case, I decided to visit old friends.
When I was a third grader and very bored with the pace of my schooling, I had a teacher whose bookshelf wasn’t limited to children’s books. Every day when I’d dashed through the reading lesson, she allowed me to take down her copy of Bullfinch’s Mythology, and I’d get lost inside fantastic tales about Pandora and her endless curiosity, proud Achilles and his fatal flaw, but especially, the original bad boy, Hades.
Even then, I’d read the story of his abduction of Persephone and wonder why the girl didn’t grow up and let go of her mother’s apron strings to appreciate her man’s single-minded devotion.
Yeah, I know. Can’t you just see a skinny, straggly-haired little blonde with her nose forever in that book? I hated moving up in grade because I had to leave my own special dog-earred copy of Bullfinch, but by then, I’d discovered the joys of the library and continued to feed my addiction.
So keep in mind when you read Stone’s Embrace that I had fun re-envisioning Hades and his Underworld.This won’t be the last you’ll see of him.
Here’s a little peek at mighty Hades…
Petra followed Octavius’s footsteps, through a long stone tunnel in unrelieved darkness, only the crunch of his feet on the uneven floor to guide her.
A reddish glow grew brighter at the end of the tunnel, welcoming them into a room that seemed crudely fashioned for a creature that was viewed as a god, perhaps even the Satan of Christian lore.
A large fire pit dominated the center of the room. Small boulders formed a ring around it with metal fittings in the ceiling above and sunk into rocks ringing the pit. It was a crude smelter of sorts, she guessed, from the number of implements resting in the hot fire.
Toward the back of the cave, a nearly naked, black-haired man labored, his back as broad as her gargoyle’s, his arms even more impressive, his ass completely bared. As he turned, she admired the rest of him. Everywhere she looked was bronze skin, stretched tightly over thick, bulging muscle. An apron fashioned from squares of thin, hammered metal hung from his waist, no doubt to protect his sex from flying embers and held up by a thick leather cord.
The man drew a sword from the fire. The metal glowed a deep orange-red. He raised the tip, pointed it at Octavius and traced a path from his breast bone down his belly, an inch from his skin.
Petra held her breath at his expression—narrowed eyes, flared nostrils, lips pressed together in a thin line.
Octavius didn’t flinch.
Black, frightening eyes glared. “I should open you here,” Hades said softly. “Spill your guts on the floor. You’ve disappointed me. Disappointed all of us.”
Octavius’s jaw worked, a muscle flexing along the side. He bowed his head.
Petra stepped beside him, drawing the large man’s gaze.
A thick dark brow rose in a wing-like arc. “Are you trying to protect him?”
She opened her mouth, but his fierce expression halted the words. “I don’t want him harmed,” she said at last, her voice barely a whisper.
“You’re brave.” His gaze flickered over her body. “And gifted, or so Charon claims.”
She lifted her chin. “Charon’s an ass.”
Those dark eyes bored steadily into her now.
Then she noted the shape of the pupils, barely distinguishable against the inky irises—they were slitted—like her one misshapen pupil.
“Are you angry because he told? We’re all gossips. How else would humans know our history or our version of it anyway? We tend to embellish.”
His words might have sounded charming, ingratiating coming from anyone else, but spoken in his uninflected tone, his deep bass rumbling and causing dust to filter from the ceiling, she could only quiver.
“Milord, she doesn’t belong here,” Octavius said quietly.
The man’s gaze flickered over her. “No, she doesn’t. But she did commit a transgression. An amusing one, but she earned punishment just the same.”
“She should be returned.”
“And she will. In time. But we have other matters to attend. More important than the disposition of this woman.” Hades’ gaze swept her from head to toe, then turned to Octavius—a hint of challenge in the tilt of his chin. “Leave her in my hands.”
The winner of the signed copy of Darkness Burning is (by random number generator)…Roberta Harwell!