Monday, November 30, 2009

Snapshot Monday: Scenes from Ireland

More pictures from Ireland!

This first one is of the canal at Ross Castle.

The next two shots were taken around the Ring of Kerry. It was just amazing, stunning scenery.

And a shot of me standing on The Burren, an extraordinary landscape of rocks - when I went, it was very desolate, but in summer it apparently blooms with flowers. I could've spent hours wandering through the rocky terrain. If you ever have a chance to visit, don't miss this place.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Book Club

It's time to talk books, books, books!

I read a debut book this week - Marilyn Brant's According to Jane and loved it! I first heard about this story when I had coffee with Marilyn the year this book (then a manuscript) won the Golden Heart Award - so seeing it in print was really lovely.

According to Jane is the story of Ellie Barnett, who one day in English class, suddenly starts hearing Jane Austen's voice in her head, giving commentary/advice on her life. The book follows Ellie as she grows up, tries to find love, and perhaps even herself.

It's a warm, witty and emotional book and gets a definite thumbs up from me. If you want to check out an excerpt, click the link.

What are you reading and loving this week?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Bits & Pieces

If you've won a book from me, or if you're waiting for something else, everything is in the post as of this week.

I'd like to wish those of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving, a happy and wonderful day :-)

I'm working on Indigo's story today. Because I write out of sequence, sometimes, I need to put scenes together like jigsaw pieces. But, those pieces appear to be slotting into place, and I'm really looking forward to completing the overall "shape" of the story soon.

What're you up to today?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reader Videos: Psy/Changeling Series

Look what I found on YouTube! Two German reader-made videos on the Psy/Changeling series. I love them!

Hope you all enjoy - don't forget to switch the volume on.
(p.s. There are a couple of racy pics, so make sure your boss isn't looking over your shoulder *g*)

Video By MysticBastet

Video By TheMusicalbutterfly

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I just posted over at the Oddshots. Come on over :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Snapshot Monday: Ireland

Below is a shot of part of Blarney Castle (home of the famous Blarney Stone).

Murder Hole at Blarney Castle.

View from the top of the castle.

A shot of the lovely Irish countryside.

And I snapped this as we passed by on the road :)

Hope you enjoyed the photos :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Book Club

Spring is in the air and flowers are everywhere, so it's only right I'm currently reading (and loving!) Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts.

I also took a mental health break a few days back *g*, and had a chance to gobble up Kindred in Death by JD Robb (awesome as always), and one of Lisa Kleypas's older titles - Where Dreams Begin - loved it! Here's a link to the Book Binge review where I first heard about this gorgeous story.

Okay, your turn! What're you reading and loving this week?

p.s. I took the rose photos this morning - not my garden, but that of someone with considerably greener fingers :) (Click on the photo for a bigger image).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blaze of Memory Spoiler Thread Now Up!

If you want to discuss Blaze with spoilers, follow this link. The link is also available in the sidebar of the blog (just scroll down a little) -->

(I'm going to close comments on this post to avoid confusion).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

I've had a few questions about when I'll be holding another Q&A session - the answer is probably sometime next year. I'm still recovering from the last one *collapses* Just kidding. But they do take a bit of time, so I need to schedule them when I can devote a few hours to answering questions. I'll put up a note in advance when it happens.

Also, do you all want a Blaze of Memory Spoiler thread? Let me know and I'll set one up.

I'm working on Indigo's book today, and I've started sketching out parts of the next Guild Hunter book as well. More news to come as I get further into both stories.

And a heads-up. Paranormal author Shannon K Butcher is chatting at The Knight Agency chat-room Thurday, November 19th @9pm ET. Details here (oh, and it looks like TKA is giving away a copy of Shannon's book, so swing by and enter by Thurs).

Off to eat lunch and then finish the current scene (which features everyone's favorite wolf ;-))

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cover Goodness!

How gorgeous are these covers?!

These are for the UK/Aust/NZ editions being brought out by Gollancz. I had a chance to see this cover art in progress while I was in London and I'm so delighted to be able to share it with you all now!

Look, more gorgeousness!

And yes, I have more! Check out Lucas and Judd!

I love them!!!

I'm fascinated by the differences in cover art across different countries - it's always such a thrill to see the final product. Thank you, Gollancz for these beautiful covers!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Want a smile? Check out my post at The Oddshots today :)

Snapshot Monday: Stratford Upon Avon & York

The photo below is of the house where Shakespeare was born.

And here's Hamlet - "Alas, poor Yorick!..."

A shot of the walls surrounding the city of York.

Plus one from the area called the Shambles in York.

And a bonus photo - the Chesterfield Parish Church, with it's very unusual spire (thanks for taking us by, Frank!). You can read more about why the spire is twisted here.

More photos next week!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Book Club

This week has gone by so fast. I can't believe it's Friday already!

I read The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens this week and loved it! It's the first book in her new Black Cobra Quartet, and I can't wait for the next book already.

So, what are you reading and loving this week?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NYT & USA Today

Blaze of Memory is to debut at #8 on the New York Times mass market bestseller list!! Thank you everyone!!

Edited to add: It's also hit the USA Today bestseller list!! :-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Interview: Tony Mauro, Cover Artist for Archangel's Kiss

I'm excited to share a very special interview - with cover artist Tony Mauro, who did the brilliant artwork for the Archangel's Kiss cover. Tony has also agreed to swing by and answer further questions, so please welcome him to the blog everyone!

(All the covers shown on this post feature art created by Tony - click through to his site to see more).

1. Could you give us an overview of the cover art process from the artist's perspectiv
e? (Perhaps with reference to how the Archangel's Kiss cover came about?)

Every project is a little different. Usually I'm given a relatively detailed character description and a loose scenario of what the publisher would like to see depicted on th
e cover.

For Archangel's Kiss the publisher already had a specific concept in mind and I was asked to depict the main character perched on a roof top overlooking the forbidden city.

At this point I start casting for a model, I have a bunch of local models that I work with on a semi-regular basis.

I'll roughly m
ap out the cover in my mind before I shoot to establish the best vantage point for the viewer so that you can see enough of the city to give it some scope without taking away from the main character. In this case I found the rooftop shot I wanted to use first and then photographed the girl at the proper angle and lighting so it would match up when I put the shots together. The city in the background would be dropped in later as well.

The best case scenario for me is always to read the book first. That really gives me a good feel for the characters and makes it a lot easier to bring them to life on the cover. Unfortunately, there isn't always time to do that so I'll work from a synopsis provided by the publisher which works too.

On the flip side, sometimes you get a project where the art director just sends you the book to read and says "run with it" and gives you the freedom to do just that. Ob
viously it takes some time to establish that kind of trust but the more you work with the same people they really know what to expect from you and are comfortable enough with your work to let you go off on your own once and a while.

2. How do you create your art? On the computer? Sketches?

I was a traditional airbrush illustrator for many years so all of my training is in drawing and painting. Now I do everything on the computer but my traditional background comes into play with everything I do.

The best way to describe my process is photo based illustration. It's about 50/50 between photos and hand painted layers in photoshop. I usually like to paint the blowing hair and fabrics so that I can design the shapes and really control where they fall so I'll often shoot the girl with her hair in a ponytail. The photos merely serve as a foundation for me to build off of.

3. How long do you usually spend on a piece of cover art?

Every cover is truly different but on average I spend anywhere from 10 to 15 hours painting up a concept. Of course the more elements you have going on the longer it can take.

Also if you have a very clear image in your mind of what the cover needs to look like before you even sit down at the computer you can usually get there pretty quick. Mo
re time is taken up looking for the right model, setting up the shoot and getting wardrobe and props together than actually painting. The more work you do in the beginning the less work you'll have to do later.

4. You have created some amazing book covers - do you have any personal favorites among your creations?

This is a tough one for me to answer. It's kind of funny because my favorite piece may be
my favorite just because of some minute little details that only I would ever notice.

I guess I have different favorites for different reasons. Unfortunately they often end up on the cutting room floor. This is tough for every artist but when you have a client you have to remember it's their art.

Enclosed is one of my favorites that didn't make the cut as you see it here. Originally this image was done for a vampire book called First Blood. The publisher chose one of the other concepts I did for this one but later on I was asked to remove the blood from this one and it ended up getting used for a different book. I like this image because is it's bold and simple. I always try and think of as if I were in the store walking down the isle with thousands of books staring at me would I stop and pick this one up.

My other favorite was another that didn't make the cut as you see it here. This one was for another vampire book that takes place in London. Ultimately they ended up removing the umbrella and the rain and cropping in tighter on the girl. The end result was very nice but I always liked this version.

5. You've worked with illustrations and movie posters as well as book covers - do you find big differences between the different types of work?

Absolutely, with movies you're selling the stars. Unfortunately the story will always end up taking a back seat to whoever is starring in the film. The nice thing about books is we truly get to sell the story without getting all caught up in some over paid celebrities ego....but I'm not bitter LOL. I absolutely LOVE doing book covers and have been shifting my focus exclusively to books. I still work on film projects here and there but the process is very different.

When working on a book I'll usually do 2 or 3 different concepts and 9 out of 10 times one of those concepts is chosen. When working on a movie you can easily do 20-30 different posters and none will get chosen because of the number of people involved in making the final decision.

The stu
dio will look at over 300 posters from several different sources before picking one. You are always competing with other designers and agencies. Even after you have the job you don't really have it. Luckily everyone gets paid for their work regardless of whether or not it's used for the final poster.

6. Could
you tell us a little about your personal, non-commercial projects?

I've a
lways been a big fan of pin-up/fantasy art and learned a long time ago how important it is as an artist to have your own personal means of expression. No client, no product just art for art's sake. When I was in Los Angeles working at an agency that did video game packaging I was working crazy hours and just cranking out a huge amount of work.

It should have been fun because I was working on really fun projects but I was just getting burned out and decided then that I needed something for myself to keep me inspired. My boss agreed a
nd encouraged me to explore a form of personal expression that I could really be proud of. That's when I started

I first did a vampire series called When Darkness Falls which was a collection of all beautiful female vampires. Now I do calendars every year with a calendar publisher in the US and I had a book published out of Germany called the Dark Art of Tony Mauro which again featured all of my pin-up/fantasy art. It's been a really fun venture and has served its purpose well to keep me inspired and trying new things.

7. You've been working as an artist since the age of 23 - can you see yourself doing any other job?

I've actually been working as an artist since I was 19. I made my big move to Los Angeles at 23 which was when things really started to happen for me. But to answer your question, NO WAY.

This is what I've wanted to do since I was in first grade and my teacher used to hang up my drawings on th
e chalk board. My father is an artist as well so I grew up in a very creative household and I couldn't imagine doing anything else than what I'm doing right now.

8. Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I just want to say thanks for the opportunity and I'm looking forward to working on more of your books! Here comes the shameless plug...My 2010 calendars are available on my site as well as prints of any image in my book cover or fantasy art section.

Thanks for the interview, Tony, and for agreeing to answer further questions!

Oddshots Post

I posted last night about heroes and tousled manes at Oddshots last night. Swing by and add your vote :)

Monday, November 09, 2009

NZ/Aus Authors: Anna Campbell - Captive of Sin

WINNER: Thanks for a fantastic discussion everyone. Anna has picked her winner, and it's Bronwyn! Bronwyn, please email me your address (nalinisinghwrites AT gmail DOT com), so I can send it through to Anna. Congratulations!

Today, we continue the series of monthly guest posts by authors from my part of the world with the talented Anna Campbell.

She's talking tortured heroes (ooooh) and giving away a copy of her latest release Captive of Sin, which was just named as one of the best mass market releases of 2009 by Publishers Weekly! Please welcome Anna to the blog everyone.


Torture Me Some More!

Hi Nalini! Thanks so much for inviting me to be your guest today to talk about my new historical romance CAPTIVE OF SIN which Avon released on 27th October.

But first, how good is LORD OF SCOUNDRELS? It’s one of my top two or three romances EVAH! I think the Marquess of Dain is one of the best heroes ever written – and we all know how much competition he’s got in that category! If anyone hasn’t read it, run to your nearest bookstore and grab it. You won’t be sorry.

Nalini, am I wrong? LOL!

I read widely across all the romance genres. Basically if the characters draw me in and it’s a good story, I’m there. I don’t care if it’s set on Upsilon Minor, in an alternate reality with vampires, in small-town America (or elsewhere!) or Regency London. But the truth of the matter is I write historicals and here I am hanging out with paranormal gals!

So I started to think about what paranormals and historicals have in common. And something that immediately sprang to mind is a subject dear to my twisted heart – the tortured hero!

The tortured hero has been a staple of the romance genre at least since WUTHERING HEIGHTS and JANE EYRE. And he shows no signs of stopping!

So far, I’ve had four books released and guess what? They all featured a hero who was tortured to a greater or lesser extent – although when I say ‘lesser’, that would probably be the Earl of Erith from TEMPT THE DEVIL and he has an awful lot of emotional baggage, so ‘lesser’ is relative!

Sir Gideon Trevithick in CAPTIVE OF SIN would probably be close to my most tortured guy yet. He returns from a year’s horrific imprisonment in India as a national hero and as
the inheritor (against all expectations) of his family’s estate in Cornwall. But he is haunted by the ghosts of his past and he’s convinced he’ll never lead a normal life. In modern parlance, you’d say he suffered both PTSD and survivor guilt.

When he stumbles across a runaway heiress in a stable, he rashly pledges to help her, unaware that this reckless promise will lead him into a marriage of convenience. But his young bride, Charis, is unwilling to settle for the barren bargain he offers her and she sets out to rescue him from his torment.

Does she succeed? Well, I guess you have to read the book! But believe me, she has a hard road ahead of her and her journey involves tragic secrets and emotional turmoil and sacrifices greater than she ever imagined.

You can read an excerpt here:

And here’s the really cool trailer a friend of mine put together for me as a surprise present:

Anyway, let’s talk tortured heroes! Why do you think readers love them so much? Do you have a favorite tortured hero? My favorite comment wins a signed copy of CAPTIVE OF SIN. Good luck!

Giveaway closes Wednesday 9 a.m. NZ time, so comment away! And please make sure we have some way to contact you if you win.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Good News & Friday Book Club

Some exciting news - Angels' Blood is #1 on the Amazon Editor's Picks for Romance in 2009!! Go Elena and Raphael :-)

I was interviewed by the fabulous Jennifer Ashley and the interview is now live at The Chatelaines.

Oh, and I've threatened Jill Myles with revenge over here.

Today's Friday Book Club comes courtesy of a very sleepy Nalini. I stayed up wayyyyyyyyy past my bedtime reading Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

The book was literally put into my hands when I admitted I hadn't read it - by parties who shall remain nameless (you know who you are), and I was ordered to rectify my mistake at once. At once!

I still wasn't convinced as I'm not a huge historical reader. Then I read the first page and knew I was a goner.

This book was so good, I feel compelled to find people with whom to discuss it. Dain was a perfect Beast of a hero, and Jessica was completely awesome - smart, funny, determined, and with enough grit that you know she's never ever going to crumble against Dain's personality. For those of you who've read it, one of my favorite parts was the "emptying of the bag" scene.

The best part about coming late to the party? I now have lots and lots of Loretta Chase books to catch up on. You can read an excerpt and the back cover blurb of Lord of Scoundrels on Ms. Chase's website.

What are you reading and loving this week? Thoughts to share? (p.s. If you've read LOS, what's your favorite part?)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Excerpt - Bonds of Justice

As promised, here is the first chapter excerpt of BONDS OF JUSTICE. This is very much the unedited version, so please keep in mind that there may be changes. Hope you enjoy!

by Nalini Singh

It was as she was sitting staring into the face of a sociopath that Sophia Russo realized three irrefutable truths.

One: In all likelihood, she had less than a year left before she was sentenced to comprehensive rehabilitation. Unlike normal rehabilitation, the process wouldn’t only wipe out her personality, leave her a drooling vegetable. Comprehensives had ninety-nine percent of their psychic senses fried as well. All for their own good of course.

Two: Not a single individual on this earth would remember her name after she disappeared from active duty.

Three: If she wasn’t careful, she would soon end up as empty and as inhuman as the man on the other side of the table…because the otherness in her wanted to squeeze his mind until he whimpered, until he bled, until he begged for mercy.

“Evil is hard to define, but it’s sitting in that room.”

The echo of Detective Max Shannon’s words pulled her back from the whispering temptation of the abyss. For some reason, the idea of being labeled evil by him was…not acceptable. He had looked at her in a different way from other human males, his eyes noting her scars, but only as part of the package that was her body. The response had been extraordinary enough to make her pause, meet his gaze, attempt to divine what he was thinking.

That had proved impossible. But she knew what Max Shannon wanted.

“Bonner alone knows where he buried the bodies—we need that information.”

Shutting the door on the darkness inside of her, she opened her psychic eye and, reaching out with her telepathic senses, began to walk the twisted pathways of Gerard Bonner’s mind. She had touched many, many depraved minds over the course of her career, but this one was utterly and absolutely unique. Many who committed crimes of this caliber had a mental illnesses of some kind. She understood how to work with their sometimes disjointed and fragmented memories.

Bonner’s mind, in contrast, was neat, organized, each memory in its proper place. Except those places and the memories they contained made no sense, having been filtered through the cold lens of his sociopathic desires. He saw things as he wished to see them, the reality distorted until it was impossible to pinpoint the truth among the spiderweb of lies.

Ending the telepathic sweep, she took three discreet seconds to center herself before opening her physical eyes to stare into the rich blue irises of the man the media found so compelling. According to them, he was handsome, intelligent, magnetic. What she knew for a fact was that he held an MBA from a highly regarded institution and came from one of the premier human families in Boston—there was a prevailing sense of disbelief that he was also the Butcher of Newark, the moniker coined after the discovery of Carissa White’s body, the only one of his victims to have ever been found.

“I got much more careful after that,” Bonner said, wearing the faint smile that made people think they were being invited to share a secret joke. “Everyone’s a little clumsy the first time.”

Sophia betrayed no reaction to the fact that the human across from her had just “read her mind,” having expected the trick. According to his file, Gerard Bonner was a master manipulator, able to read body language cues and minute facial expressions to genius-level accuracy. Even Silence, it seemed, was not protection enough against his abilities—having reviewed the visual transcripts of his trial, she’d seen him do the same thing to other Psy.

“That’s why we’re here, Mr. Bonner,” she said with a calm that was growing ever colder, ever more remote—a survival mechanism that would soon chill the few remaining splinters of her soul. “You agreed to give up the locations of your later victims’ bodies in return for more privileges during your incarceration.” Bonner’s sentence meant he’d be spending the rest of his natural life in D2, a maximum security facility located deep in the mountainous interior of Wyoming.

“I like your eyes,” Bonner said, his smile widening as he traced the network of fine lines on her face with a gaze the media had labeled “murderously sensual.” “They remind me of pansies.”

Sophia simply waited, letting him speak, knowing his words would be of interest to the profilers who stood in the room on the other side of the wall at her back—observing her meeting with Bonner on a large comm screen. Unusually for a human criminal, there were Psy observers in that group, Bonner’s mental patterns so aberrant as to incite their interest.

But no matter the credentials of those Psy profilers, Max Shannon’s conclusions were the ones that interested Sophia. The Enforcement detective had no Psy abilities, and unlike the butcher sitting across from her, his body was whipcord lean. Sleek, she thought, akin to a lithely muscled puma. Yet, when it came down to it, it was the puma who’d won—both over the bulging strength that strained at Bonner’s prison overalls, and over the mental abilities of the Psy detectives who’d been enlisted into the task force once Bonner’s perversions began to have a serious economic impact.

“They were my pansies, you know.” A small sigh. “So pretty, so sweet. So easily bruised. Like you.” His eyes lingered on a scar that ran a ragged line over her cheekbone.

Ignoring the blatant attempt at provocation, she said, “What did you do to bruise them?” Bonner had ultimately been convicted on the basis of the evidence he’d left on the battered and broken body of his first victim. He hadn’t left a trace at the scenes of the other abductions, been connected to them only by the most circumstantial of evidence—and Max Shannon’s relentless persistence.

“So delicate and so damaged you are, Sophia,” he murmured, moving his gaze across her cheek, down to her lips. “I’ve always been drawn to damaged women.”

“A lie, Mr. Bonner.” It was extraordinary to her that people found him handsome—when she could all but smell the rot. “Every one of your victims was remarkably beautiful.”

Alleged victims,” he said, eyes sparkling. “I was only convicted of poor Carissa’s murder. Though I’m innocent, of course.”

“You agreed to cooperate,” she reminded him. And she needed that cooperation to do her job. Because—“It’s obvious you’ve learned to control your thought patterns to a certain degree.” It was something the telepaths in the J-Corps had noted in a number of human sociopaths—they seemed to develop an almost Psy ability to consciously manipulate their own memories. Bonner had learned to do it well enough that she couldn’t get what she needed from a surface scan—to go deeper, dig harder might cause permanent damage, erasing the very impressions she needed to access.

But, the otherness in her murmured, he only had to remain alive until they located his victims. After that…

“I’m human.” Exaggerated surprise. “I’m sure they told you—my memory’s not what it used to be. That’s why I need a J to go in and dig up my pansies.”

It was a game. She was certain he knew the exact position of each discarded body down to the last centimeter of dirt on a shallow grave. But he’d played the game well enough that the authorities had pulled her in, giving Bonner the chance to sate his urges once again. By making her go into his mind, he was attempting to violate her—the solitary way he had to hurt a woman now.

“Since it’s obvious I’m ineffective,” she said, rising to her feet, “I’ll get Justice to send in my colleague, Bryan Ames. He’s an—”

“No.” The first trace of a crack in his polished veneer, covered over almost as soon as it appeared. “I’m sure you’ll get what you need.”

She tugged at the thin black leather-synth of her left glove, smoothing it over her wrist so it sat neatly below the cuff of her crisp white shirt. “I’m too expensive a resource to waste. My skills will be better utilized in other cases.” Then she walked out, ignoring his order—and it was an order—that she stay.

Once out in the observation chamber, she turned to Max Shannon. “Make sure any replacements you send him are male.”

A professional nod, but his hand clenched on the top of the chairback beside him, his skin having the warm golden-brown tone of someone whose ancestry appeared to be a mix of Asian and Caucasian. While the Asian side of his genetic structure had made itself known in the shape of his eyes, the Caucasian side had won in the height department—he was six feet one according to her visual estimate.

All that was fact.

But the impact was more than the sum of its parts. He had, she realized, that strange something the humans called charisma. Psy professed not to accept that such a thing existed, but they all knew it did. Even among their Silent race, there were those who could walk into a room and hold it with nothing but their presence.

As she watched, Max’s tendons turned white against his skin from the force of his grip. “He got his rocks off making you trawl through his memories.” He didn’t say anything about her scars, but Sophia knew as well as he did that they played a large part in what made her so very attractive to Bonner.

Those scars had long ago become a part of her, a thin tracery of lines that spoke of a history, a past. Without them, she’d have no past at all. Max Shannon, she thought, had a past as well. But he didn’t wear it on that beautiful—not handsome, beautiful—face. “I have shields.” However, those shields were beginning to fail, an inevitable side-effect of her occupation. If she’d had the option, she wouldn’t have become a J. But at eight years of age, she’d been given a single choice—become a J or die.

“I heard a lot of J-Psy have eidetic memories,” Max said, his eyes intent.

“Yes—but only when it comes to the images we take during the course of our work.” She’d forgotten parts of her “real life,” but she’d never forget even an instant of the things she’d seen over the years she’d spent in the Justice Corps.

Max had opened his mouth to reply when Bartholomew Reuben, the prosecutor who’d worked side by side with him to capture Gerard Bonner, finished his conversation with two of the profilers and walked over. “That’s a good idea about male Js. It’ll give Bonner time to stew—we can bring you in again when he’s in a more cooperative frame of mind.”

Max’s jaw set at a brutal angle as he responded. “He’ll draw this out as long as possible—those girls are nothing but pawns to him.”

Reuben was pulled away by another profiler before he could reply, leaving Sophia alone with Max again. She found herself staying in place though she should’ve joined those of her race, her task complete. But being perfect hadn’t kept her safe—she’d be dead within the year, one way or another—so why not indulge her desire for further conversation with this human detective whose mind worked in a fashion that fascinated her? “His ego won’t let him hide his secrets forever,” she said, having dealt with that kind of a narcissistic personality before. “He wants to share his cleverness.”

“And will you continue to listen if the first body he gives up is that of Daria Xiu?” His tone was abrasive, gritty with lack of sleep.

Daria Xiu, Sophia knew, was the reason a J had been pulled into this situation. The daughter of a powerful human businessman, she was theorized to have been Bonner’s final victim. “Yes,” she said, telling him one truth. “Bonner is deviant enough that our psychologists find him a worthwhile study subject.” Perhaps because the kind of deviancy exhibited by the Butcher of Newark had once been exhibited by Psy in statistically high numbers…and was no longer being fully contained by Silence.

The Council thought the populace didn’t know, and perhaps they didn’t. But to Sophia, a J who’d spent her life steeped in the miasma of evil, the new shadows in the PsyNet had a texture she could almost feel—thick, oily, and beginning to riddle the fabric of the sprawling neural network with insidious efficiency.

“And you?” Max asked, watching her with a piercing focus made her feel as if that quicksilver mind might penetrate secrets she’d kept concealed for over two decades. “What about you?”

The otherness in her stirred, wanting to give him the unvarnished, deadly truth, but that was something she could never ever share with a man who’d made Justice his life. “I’ll do my job.” Then she said something a perfect Psy never would have said. “We’ll bring them home. No one should have to spend eternity in the cold dark.”


Max watched Sophia Russo walk away with the civilian observers, unable to take his attention off her. It had been the eyes that had first slammed into him. River’s eyes, he’d thought as she walked in, she had River’s eyes. But he’d been wrong. Sophia’s eyes were darker, more dramatically blue-violet, so vivid he’d almost missed the lush softness of her mouth. Except he hadn’t.

And that was one hell of a kick to the teeth.

Because for all her curves and the tracery of scars that spoke of a violent past, she was Psy. Ice-cold and tied to a Council that had far more blood on its hands than Gerard Bonner ever would. Except… Her final words circled in his mind.

“We’ll bring them home.”

It had held the weight of a vow. Or maybe that’s what he’d wanted to hear.

Wrenching back his attention when she disappeared from view, he turned to Bart Reuben, the only other person who remained. “She wear the gloves all the time?” Thin black leather-synth, they’d covered everything below the cuffs of her shirt and suit jacket. It might have been because she had more serious scars on the backs of her hands—but Sophia Russo didn’t strike him as the kind of woman who’d hide behind such a shield.

“Yes. Every time I’ve seen her.” Frown lines marred the prosecutor’s forehead for a second, before he seemed to shake off whatever was bothering him. “She’s got an excellent record—never fumbled a retraction yet.”

“We saw at the trial that Bonner’s smart enough to fuck with his own memories,” Max said, watching as the prisoner was led from the interrogation room. The blue-eyed Butcher, the media’s murderous darling, stared out at the cameras until the door closed, his smile a silent taunt. “Even if his mind wasn’t twisted at the core, he knows his pharmaceuticals—could’ve got his hands on something, deliberately dosed himself.”

“Wouldn’t put it past the bastard,” Bart said, the grooves around his mouth carved deep. “I’ll line up a couple of male Js for Bonner’s next little show.”

“Xiu have that much clout?” The case of Gerard Bonner, scion of a blue-blooded Boston family and the most sadistic killer the state had seen in decades, would’ve qualified for a J at the trial stage, but for the fact that his memories were close to impenetrable.

“Sociopaths,” one J had said to Max after testifying that he couldn’t retrieve anything usable from the accused’s mind, “don’t see the truth as others see it.”

“Give me an example,” Max had asked, frustrated that the killer who’d snuffed out so many young lives had managed to slither through another net.

“According to the memories in Bonner’s surface mind, Carissa White orgasmed as he stabbed her.”

Shaking off that sickening evidence of Bonner’s warped reality, he glanced at Bart, who’d paused to check an email on his cell phone. “Xiu?” he prompted.

“Yeah, looks like he has some ‘friends’ in high level Psy ranks. His company does a lot of business with them.” Putting away the phone, Bart began to gather up his papers. “But in this, he’s just a shattered father. Daria was his only child.”

“I know.” The face of each and every victim was imprinted on Max’s mind. Twenty-one-year old Daria’s was a gap-toothed smile, masses of curly black hair and skin the color of polished mahogany. She didn’t look anything like the other victims—unlike most killers of his pathology, Bonner hadn’t differentiated between white, black, Hispanic, Asian. It had only been age, and a certain kind of beauty that drew him.

Which turned his thoughts back to the woman who’d stared unblinking into the face of a killer while Max forced himself to stand back, to watch. “She fits his victim profile—Ms. Russo.” Sophia’s Russo’s eyes, her scars, made her strikingly unique—a critical aspect of Bonner’s pathology. He’d targeted women who would never blend into a crowd—the violence spoken of by Sophia’s scars would, for him, be the icing on the cake. “Did you arrange that?” His hand tightened on a pen as he helped Bart clear the table.

“Stroke of luck.” The prosecutor put the files in his briefcase. “When Bonner said he’d cooperate to a scan, we requested the closest J. Russo had just completed a job here. She’s on her way to the airport now—heading to our neck of the woods as a matter of fact.”

“Liberty?” Max asked, mentioning the maximum-security penitentiary located on an artificial island off the New York coast.

Bart nodded as they walked out and toward the first security door. “She’s scheduled to meet a prisoner who claims another prisoner confessed to the currently unsolved mutilation murder of a high profile victim.”

Max thought of what Bonner had done to the only one of his victims they’d ever found, the bloody ruin that had been the once-gamine beauty of Carissa White. And he wondered what Sophia Russo saw when she closed her eyes at night.

(c) 2009 by Nalini Singh

Guest Blogs

I've also got guest blogs up at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs & at the lovely Maria Geraci's blog today. Come and say hi!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Snapshot Monday on Wednesday - London

I just realized I didn't do Snapshot Monday, so here are some photos from my recent travels! Above - one of the gates that surround the parks around Buckingham Palace.

And below - the actual palace itself.

This one's of Tower Bridge taken from a ferry coming from Greenwich.

The fabulously busy and bustling Trafalgar Square - where they had a platform set up that anyone could book for an hour, and do whatever they liked on!

And last, a picture where I managed to get Big Ben, the Millennium Wheel and a red bus all in one shot. (I was so proud!)

Hope you enjoyed the pics!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Release Day!

Ok, so it's not officially Nov 3rd in the U.S. yet, but it will be in a few hours, and Blaze of Memory will be out! I hope you all enjoy Dev and Katya's story :) And don't forget that the mass market edition of An Enchanted Season will also be hitting the shelves at the same time.

Today, I have some linkage for you.

I have a very fun interview posted at Rip My Bodice - it's unlike any interview I've ever done *g*

I was also interviewed by author Carolyn Jewel on her blog - we're talking Eric, Bill, and elves, so swing by and say hi!

I'm chatting about Blaze at the Barnes and Noble Romantic Reads Board till Friday. Eloisa James is also featuring Dev in her column titled "In Praise of Decent Men" <-- go read - it's all about the heroes we love to love.

Plus Blaze is book-touring over at these fabulous blogs:

Jasmine Hayne's Blog
Yasmine Galenorn's blog.

Oh, and don't forget to drop by the Oddshots, where we're discussing what we'd do if someone else dared grab the last copy of the new release we'd been waiting for, forever!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Website Updates: Archangel's Kiss Excerpt

The website's been updated - including with an excerpt of Archangel's Kiss! If you go to the home page, you'll see a list of all the changes we've made. Enjoy! :)

Edited to Add: Blaze of Memory book tour up at Lauren Dane's blog!