I'd like to thank Roxanne @ Bewitching Book Tours for giving me this opportunity to participate in the REDEMPTION Blog Tour. And I'd like to welcome Susannah Sandlin to ABTB! There is a TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY at the end of the post. Be sure to thank Susannah!
Book One Penton Legacy series
By Susannah Sandlin
Following a worldwide pandemic whose vaccine left human blood deadly to vampires, the vampire community is on the verge of starvation and panic. Some have fanned into rural areas, where the vaccine was less prevalent, and are taking unsuspecting humans as blood slaves. Others are simply starving, which for a vampire is worse than death—a raging hunger in a creature too weak to feed.
Immune to these struggles—at first—is Penton, a tiny community in rural Chambers County, Alabama, an abandoned cotton mill town that has been repopulated by charismatic vampire Aidan Murphy, his scathe of 50 vampires, and their willingly bonded humans. Aidan has recruited his people carefully, believing in a peaceful community where the humans are respected and the vampires retain a bit of their humanity.
But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan’s brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton—and Aidan, against whom he’s held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland. Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan’s own human familiars
To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor—and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago.
Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she’s developing for her kidnapper are real—or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she’s allowing herself to become a victim yet again.
Susannah Sandlin’s REDEMPTION is the first in the Penton Legacy series. Book two, ABSOLUTION, will be out September 18, and book three, OMEGA, on December 18.
About this Author:
Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night! A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch, and always fancied herself living in Cornwall (although she’s never actually been there). Details, details. She also is a fan of Stephen King. The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana. Her novel Redemption won the paranormal romance category in the 2011 Chicago North RWA Fire and Ice contest, and is the first of three in a series that debuts this year.
Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612183541
Krystal Harris pulled to the shoulder of the two-lane road—highway was too grand a word—and punched the button to turn on the old green Corolla’s dome light. She counted to five before thwacking it with the heel of her palm, and a dim light blinked as if considering her demand. It stayed on—this time.
The car was a dinosaur, but it was a paid-for dinosaur.
She dug a folded Alabama road map from beneath her briefcase on the passenger seat, smoothing the creases to make sure she hadn’t driven past Penton, which she suspected was no more than a wide spot on a narrow road. She didn’t want to get lost out here in the boonies.
Yep, County Road 70. The highway to Penton just looked like the express lane to nowhere.
A gust of wind rocked the car, sending icy air around the loose door seals. Maybe the chill of this night was an omen that she should take this job if they offered it, just so she could buy a more respectable form of transportation. Still, doubts nagged at her. What kind of clinic conducted a job interview at nine p.m.? She should never have agreed to it, but the Penton Clinic administrator had waved big bucks in front of her huge college and med school debts, and she’d trotted after them like a donkey after a carrot.
“You had the goody-two-shoes idea of practicing rural medicine, plus you’re already here,” she chided herself, clicking off the overhead and pulling back onto the road. “And you’ve gotta admit, this is rural.”
Another omen, and not a good one: she was talking to herself. Out loud.
A couple of miles later, her headlights illuminated a battered wooden sign covered in peeling paint: Welcome to Penton, Alabama. Founded 1890. Population 3,275.
Twenty years ago, maybe. Krys had done her Penton homework, and that was the boomtown population, when the mammoth East Alabama Mill still churned out threads and batting. It had wheezed its final belch a decade ago, and the town had suffered a slow death by attrition even before the pandemic. The most recent listing Krys found online estimated a population of three hundred. She was surprised they could afford to hire a doctor, much less pay a more-than-competitive wage.
But this was what she wanted, right? A place to practice medicine and be her own boss, to find a community where she could belong? After growing up in Birmingham—the wrong side of Birmingham—she hated the grime and crowds and noise of the city.
Lost in thought as she approached the outskirts of town, she thought she saw an animal in the road—a deer or a bear, maybe—God only knew what wildlife lived out here. But it was a man. He wore a long coat that flapped in the wind and was backlit by a lone streetlight in front of an abandoned convenience store. She’d have blown past him if he hadn’t moved into the middle of the road when the glare of her headlights hit
him like a spotlight.
He stood with his hands in his pockets, feet planted apart, watching calmly as she floored the brakes. The Corolla’s old tires squealed, stinking up the air with the smell of hot rubber and stressed brakes.
Good Lord. Was he nuts?
She got the car stopped and took a deep breath, hands frozen to the wheel, her muscles jittery from the aftershock. The man walked around and tapped on her driver’s side window, motioning for her to lower it.
Krys’s foot hovered over the accelerator, indecisive. Should she drive on and get the hell out of here?
No, by God, she should not. She’d at least lower the window enough to tell the jerk how close he’d come to ending his life as a hood ornament on a green Toyota Dinosaur.
He held up his empty hands in a gesture of peace. Right. Like he was going to hold up a sign that said Beware of Murderous Backwoods Whack Job.
She snaked her right hand to her purse in the passenger seat, wrapped cold fingers around the handle of a small pistol, and slipped it into the pocket of her suede jacket—after she was sure the man had seen it. The .38 Smith & Wesson snub-nose was her security blanket, and she knew how to use it.
His only reaction to the gun was a raised eyebrow. “I have a man injured here.” His voice was deep and melodic, and he had a trace of an accent, as if he’d grown up not speaking English but had been around a few too many Southerners. “You the doctor coming to Penton for the interview?”
She lowered her window an inch and stared as he knelt next to the driver’s side door, putting his face at eye level. And damned if it wasn’t one of the most beautiful faces she’d seen since…maybe ever.
He’d pulled his dark hair into a short ponytail except for one wavy strand that had pulled loose and blew against his cheek. The streetlight cast enough illumination for her to see the dark lashes fringing blue eyes that reminded her not so much of summer skies or robin’s eggs but of the richness of an arctic sea flowing
over darker depths. They appeared to lighten as he studied her with an intensity that almost robbed her lungs of air. He had a strong jaw, full lips, and a slight cleft in his chin.
If he was a serial killer, he was at least a pretty one.
He cleared his throat. “Are you Dr. Harris?”
Krys caught her breath. Good Lord, what was wrong with her? She’d been practically drooling through a half-open window as though he were Adonis personified. He could be Charles Manson’s separated-at-birth, unidentical twin.
Except he knew her name.
Guest Post by Susannah Sandlin:
Alpha Males, Beta Males, and Vampires
Women love bad boys. Romance books, from contemporary to paranormal, are full of alpha males being brought to their knees by finding the one woman who turns those knees (and hopefully nothing north of there) to jelly.
(Now, in real life, most of these dudes would either be some woman’s worst nightmare or a semi-permanent resident of a prison or anger-management class, but that’s another blog for another day.)
In creating the vampires for my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, I wanted a mixture of alphas and betas—and just to be ornery (which I am sometimes), I wanted a beta male to be the leader of my vampire scathe, or community. Meet Aidan Murphy, vampire beta male. He’s faster, stronger, bigger, and has some fierce fighting skills than your average bear, but he won’t eat your mama for lunch.
Well, unless it’s in self-defense or she’s begging for it. Which she might. She might have to get in line.
In creating Aidan, I wanted a leader who could command other vampires’ respect by example, not by fear. Who could attract followers because he had a reputation for strength and fairness, not because he could kick butt better than anyone else. Who could defend himself with all the aggression and even brutality when it was called for, but who’d always choose violence as the last resort.
What better type of guy to put in a death-struggle against his own brother, with more than a hundred people depending on his willingness to play dirty. Redemption pits Aidan against his alpha-male brother Owen. It’s brother against brother, vampire against vampire, with one human woman stuck in the middle.
Aidan’s not a pushover, though, and he’s smart enough to surround himself with lieutenants who complement his strengths. That’s where Mirren Kincaid, the hero of the second book, Absolution, comes in. Mirren and Aidan are best buddies, in a vampire kind of way, but they’re very, very different.
Mirren snarls at people. Aidan listens.
Mirren’s nickname is The Slayer, and he earned it. Aidan kills when he has to.
Mirren doesn’t much like people. Aidan actually has decent social skills.
Mirren acts. Aidan thinks first, then acts. (Okay, sometimes he thinks too much.)
Mirren’s hobby: taking machines apart and putting them back together. Aidan’s? He grows night-blooming exotic plants.
Aidan is a very good leader. So is Mirren—they just take different routes. (Oh, and did I mention they’re both 400-year-old master vampires from Ireland and Scotland, now living in a small town in Alabama?)
Aidan is his own worst enemy, his own fiercest critic. He’s ready to fall on his sword to save those he’s taken an oath to protect.
So imagine his horror when, in order to save the people who look to him for protection, he’s forced to kidnap a young human doctor? Imagine his horror when it becomes clear he has to send humans in to do some of his fighting for him? Imagine his horror when young human woman forces him to face lies and secrets he’s been running from for four centuries?
It ain’t easy being beta.