Release Date: September 13, 2016
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.
Guest Post: Another New Orleans Vampire…
Thanks so much to Two Men Are Better Than One for having us as guests on the blog. Irene and I are very excited to be here and to tell you all about our upcoming release, Vespers.
Prior to Vespers, neither of us had any experience with co-writing. We started with a high-level premise, and worked out the details as a team. Basically our original idea was to rework Beauty and the Beast, except the Beast is a (male) vampire, and Beauty is a handsome Asian man named Sarasija Mishra (aka Sara).
His brother…was correct. Sara was too pretty for his own good. (Thaddeus Dupont, shortly after having been taken down a step.)
After we decided to work together on this project, I sketched out a few ideas and sent them to Irene. I had a college student with a science background, a house in the Pacific Northwest forest, and demons running amuck. She responded with something along the lines of, “that’s great, but I’m pretty sure the first scene takes place somewhere in the Bayou, so can we move to Louisiana, please?”
And thus, another New Orleans vampire was born. Well, she did say please….
For all that there have been a couple (hundred) other vampire novels set in New Orleans, I really can’t think of a better setting for the story we ended up writing. I wanted to give our vampire a twist, so instead of an uber-rich, decadent creature of the night, Thaddeus Dupont has a contract to serve the Catholic Church. He was studying to be a monk before being turned as a vampire in 1925, and that training – along with the structure provided by chanting the monastic hours – defines who he is.
There’s not many cities outside of Rome with a stronger Catholic flavor than New Orleans. Beyond the prominent festival of Mardi Gras, the Church provided a common bond for the multiple cultures who settled there. For example, Louisiana is the only state in the US divided up in parishes rather than counties – parishes formed by ecclesiastical communities rather than civic ones. Given that the Church is an intrinsic part of life there, what better place for a vampire monk to live?
He cowered against the wall of the crypt as the shadows settled around him. The twenty-first century ceased to exist, and Sara understood why the demons had lured Dupont here. The sounds of the city were strangely muted. With the thick row of wall vaults separating him from the rest of the Garden District even the cars a few yards away sounded muffled and far away. The spirits of New Orleans pressed around him. (Sara Mishra, right after breaking into the Lafayette No 1 cemetery.)
The other thing that really worked for our story was the architecture. Beyond the historic churches and the gorgeous, atmospheric cemeteries, there’s the Gothic kaleidoscope of the French Quarter and the stately elegance of the Garden District. The heat and humidity added atmosphere, and the vegetation – the cypress trees and magnolias and wisteria – added spice.
You know, there’s a reason so many vampire stories are set in this city.
In a nod to the heritage of New Orleans vampires, the street number for Thaddeus Dupont’s Garden District is right next door to Ann Rice’s – or it would be, if Mr. Dupont’s house actually existed. One of the most entertaining parts of the project was putting together the Pinterest board. Jump HERE if you want to see the images that both inspired and reflected our story. We sent the Pinterest link to Kanaxa, our cover artist, who absolutely nailed the vibe of the story with her art.
If my home had a name, it would be Dupont’s Folly. I’d acquired it in the late 1920s, the result of a game of Bourré gone awry—for my opponent, anyway. I appreciated the symmetry of the house’s structure, the simplicity of the double-gallery design. Deep porches faced the street, supported by Italianate ironwork and Doric columns. The front rooms never saw direct sunlight, allowing me to move about before nightfall. (Thaddeus Dupont, describing the house that really isn’t right next door to Ann Rice’s house.)
We could probably have come up with a decent story with a Northwest setting – and pinky-swear our vampire wouldn’t sparkle – but New Orleans just gave us so much more to work with. We hope you enjoy our addition to the lore! Keep reading for an excerpt and a link to our giveaway. Thanks again!
The loss of music settled over them with the next layer of twilight. The boat slid through the water as Bren navigated through tree stumps, low-hanging branches, and occasional knolls of land. Without the radio, the sounds of the swamp took over—crickets so loud, they should have drowned out the music, the lower thrum of frogs, and the occasional screech of a bird. Apparently, he needed a better soundtrack, because Dr. John tuned in to his head where there was no Off switch.
Bren flicked a switch, and lights at both ends of the boat came on, beating back some of the gloom. Sara forced his fingers to unclench from the seat. Jesus, he’d been admiring the same cypress trees and Spanish moss out the window all day. Except down in it, the scenery seemed less romantic and more…
“What the hell?” He scrambled across the seat. “Alligator! Bren, there’s an alligator over here!”
Bren peered over the side of the boat, where dark eyes glided above darker water. “Wow, he’s a big ’un. Don’t worry, they aren’t usually aggressive. I wouldn’t do any night swimming, though. You’ll have to get used to them out here. Might be more of them than there are us.”
Bren sounded so casual, he felt like an idiot. Except, alligator. No. Sorry, he refused to feel unmanned by his fear of a six-foot predator with very large teeth.
“Maybe we should have called Mr. Dupont to let him know we’re on the way.” He needed to talk. Anything to break the mood and make things seem more normal.
“Eh, wouldn’t have done any good. He works nights. Way I hear, even if he’s up, he won’t answer his phone half the time.”
Major distraction, because now curiosity was killing him. The Deal with Dupont—works nights. What the hell did he do all night in the middle of a swamp? Sara tried to figure out some way of pumping Bren for information without coming off like a gossip and couldn’t do it. The best he could come up with was “Your grandmother knows him?”
“Well, they’ve been doing business for a while. I guess she knows him as well as anyone. He mostly keeps to himself.”
“You’ve never met him?”
“I’ve seen him over at his dock a few times.” She frowned. “You know, I could swear I’ve talked to him, but I can’t remember when or what we talked about. Or maybe I’m remembering his father. The land’s been in the same family for generations.”
“No offense, but are you sure you know where we’re going?”
She scoffed at him. “’Fraid I’ll feed your Yankee ass to the gators?”
“Crossed my mind.”
She laughed. “I’ve done plenty of deliveries out to his place. Don’t worry, I’ll get you there in one piece.”
A few minutes later, she made good on her promise as the swamp gave way to actual land. Bren guided the boat up to a long, skinny pier jutting out from a sloping lawn. In the fading light, Sara could barely make out a large structure set back among the trees. Bren steadied the boat while he clambered out onto the pier with his duffel, then peered up toward the house. “I don’t see any lights. You want me to come up with you?”
Yes. Except she had promised her grandmother she would come straight home, and he was a big boy. He didn’t need someone to hold his hand while he walked a hundred feet to meet his boss.
“He’s probably in the back.”
“I guess. You sure you don’t want me to hang out for bit, just in case?”
“I’ll be fine. He’s expecting me, and I’ll be living here. I mean, his other assistants survived, right? It’s not like he’s an axe murder.” That came out as a joke, right?
“Yeah, no. You’re right. They all seem to love the job. I just, what if he’s not home?”
“No, she said he expected me by six, so he must be in there. Get home to your grandmother.”
“Have it your way.” She pushed off from the dock. “Good luck with the new job.”
Sara watched the boat disappear into the swamp, then picked up his duffel and started across the lawn. The house wasn’t as far as he had thought. The distance was an optical illusion, because a structure that big should have seemed a lot more obvious. Instead, the trees, the wispy Spanish moss, and the hint of fog along the ground combined to deflect the eye until the house seemed to waver insubstantially in mist. Sara got an impression of a steep roof and aged wood, then he was on the long porch running the length of the house without knowing quite how he had traveled the last few yards.
God, it had been a long day.
Tall windows lined the porch, but they were shuttered, so he couldn’t see anything inside. The door was heavy wood behind a screen. There was no bell. Why was knocking so much harder?
Sara stood outside, his heart pounding in his chest, and called himself every kind of idiot. Mr. Dupont expected him. This would be his home for the next year. If it hadn’t been for a fender bender on an endless bridge, he would be inside right now. He wiped sweaty palms down his pants. Took a deep breath and tapped on the doorframe.
The long wait should have given him a chance to calm down. Instead, his reluctance to disturb the silent house grew. He counted to a hundred, slowly, and then rapped harder.
The third time, he pounded.
After that, he cursed. Quietly, under his breath, in case the door suddenly opened.
He left his bag and walked the length of the porch and through spongy earth down both sides of the house, looking for any hint of light. Nothing. No light. No sound. The utter inanimateness of the building mocked him. He went around to the front. Feeling like a total douche, he opened the screen door and tried the knob. Locked.
Well, that was just…super swell.
A cast-iron patio set occupied one end of the porch. He sank down into one of the chairs, stared out at the water, and took stock of his situation. He was in the middle of a swamp at a house that looked deserted. He had no phone. It was almost full dark. He slicked his hand through sweat-soaked hair. At least he wouldn’t freeze.
Down by the water, some of the shadows began to move, followed a second later by the sound of bodies sliding into the water. Probably more of them than us. The sounds of the crickets and bullfrogs faded behind a high-pitched whine next to his right ear. A second later, he slapped at a sharp sting against his arm, then another. He looked down to find a visible smear of blood and another mosquito settling in for lunch.
Freakin’ perfect. He mostly keeps to himself. Bren’s words from earlier snuck into the forefront of his brain. Only how the neighbors described every axe murderer ever. What kind of person advertises for a personal assistant in a town 3,000 miles away? He propped his feet up on the table and settled back in the chair, too tired to come up with any new explanations for Dupont. I don’t know, Ma.
The final bit of twilight faded, and living in the city hadn’t prepared him for the reality of night. Even straining his eyes, he couldn’t see a damn thing. He could hear plenty, though, most of it scary as shit. Yeah, man had invented fire first thing, because this kind of dark ate your soul and left your body for whatever crawled up out of the swamp.
He sat in the dark, cursing his own stupidity for not stopping earlier to buy a fifteen-dollar car charger and trying not to jump at every crackle and splash. He was so focused on the noises in front of him, he completely missed the first signs of life from the house.
He didn’t hear the door open or movement on the porch, but suddenly, every instinct screamed to high alert. Danger. Way more danger than anything the swamp had served up.
He froze and tried to focus past the sound of blood rushing behind his ears as his heart rate kicked into high gear.
Something was on the porch behind him.
Giveaway – Win a $25 Gift Card
The giveaway will open be thru 09/24/2016.
Prize pack includes $25 Gift Card to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or AllRomanceEbooks.com plus seven free books from top LGBT paranormal romance authors (Alexis Hall, Claire Cray, Jax Garren, Jordan Castillo Price, Kelly Jensen, Santino Hassell, Tal Bauer)
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About the Authors
About 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.
Where to find Irene
About 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.
Where to find Liv