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Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Blog – Heather Anne Lambert

Hello everyone! Today we have a guest blog with Heather Anne Lambert author of Cassius: Blood Rights.

You can look for my review of Lambert's book on November 28th!

Book synopsis:  Hot... Intense... ACTION!
It's Toronto's night-time playground and Cassius, a two thousand year-old vampire, is on the hunt for dinner. His meals of choice are murderers, sex offenders, child abductors, and anyone who really pisses him off. In this burgeoning metropolis of almost 6 million people, Cassius is sure to find enough variety to satisfy his deadly palate.

What he doesn't count on is meeting Harmony, a beautiful female vampire who was turned against her will. When he takes her under his dark wing, Cassius finds himself embroiled in an all out war with Harmony's maker, Sebastian - and in a struggle to protect his heart. Meanwhile, Cass's meal-of-the-moment, the Valentine Killer, stays just beyond his reach.

From the steamy dissipation of downtown Toronto to the fiery hell of Hamilton's steel refineries, a chase with high collateral damage ensues. Will Harmony survive? Will Cassius finally risk his heart for love? Will Vic the Valentine Killer's rampage of death and terror ever be brought to an end?

Cassius: Blood Rights takes you on a dark and dangerous thrill ride that answers more questions than you dare to ask.

Cassius ~ Memoirs of a Vampire is a new series. Blood Rights is Book One. Look for Blood of Whitechapel in 2012! (excerpt from Amazon.com)




Some Characters and Their Stories


Harmony’s Story


I never asked to be a vampire. I didn’t even know that they existed – not in real life. I was an art student attending college, living off campus in a sorority house. Life was fun and simple. I know now that I should have paid more attention to it. Enjoyed it more, because I had no idea then how complicated my life – or undeath – would become.


It began with Sebastian in a dim bar in downtown Toronto, music booming, drinking beer with my friends. It was my first experience of freedom; with no one to force rules on me. Oh, how I wish now that I had someone to tell me to be careful…


That night… was it just ten months ago? My friend, Samantha, spotted him first. She cupped her hand around my ear and shouted. ‘Look at that tasty guy at the bar – the one in the crazy clothes.’ I turned around and looked, finding him right away. He was leaning on the bar, his long legs clothed in slim fitting black pants, and his shirt looking like something from another century. It was frilled at the collar and sleeves and close fitting, almost tight, its crisp whiteness curved around his muscles. His hair was chestnut brown and pulled back from his face into a long ponytail that was fastened with a neat, white cotton cloth. His face was handsome in a hungry way, strong jaw, high cheek bones, and when he turned his iridescent blue eyes on me I fell completely under his spell. 
 

He smiled and I smiled back, then he headed over to our table. Samantha dug her elbow into my ribs. ‘He’s coming over here!’ I held my breath, watched as his long, lean, masculine body moved across the crowded bar, towards me. He leaned down and breathed in my ear. ‘May I buy you a drink?’

That began a whirlwind affair that lasted only weeks. He wined and dined me, as the old saying goes. There was something very old fashioned in his attentiveness, the way he held my elbow firmly in his hand as we walked, the way he opened doors and watched me with those cool blue eyes. 
 

The night inevitably arrived when he invited me to his lakeshore condo, and I was too ‘in love’ to notice the tell-tale signs. How he ordered food, but only pushed it around on his plate. How I only ever saw him well after the sun had set. How his mouth seemed to fill with hard teeth whenever we kissed. But there was no going back for me. When he took me into his arms, and his bed, I went willingly, happily, eagerly. Sebastian pulled me close until his lips were mere centimeters from mine. I could feel his breath in sweet little puffs on my face and I leaned into him, but he held back.

Is this what you want Harmony?’

His eyes almost glowed; iridescent blue with little flecks of green. I felt my breath catch, hitch, shudder.

Yes’ I breathed, and his lips, full and bloody pink, finally pressed against mine. He tasted like mint, fresh and cool, and I opened my mouth to his. Then his teeth began pushing against my lips, bruising them, and he pulled away. He looked out at the full moon. When he turned to face me again, a few wisps of chestnut hair fell loose from his ponytail. His mouth seemed different, fuller. He took my hand and pulled me into the darkness of the bedroom trailing diamond kisses down my neck, stopping where the carotid artery pulsed in excitement. His tongue began to lick, languidly, savoring – what? I didn’t know. All I knew then was that my desire matched his. I felt his teeth graze the tender flesh of my throat and he groaned, and pulled back. 
 

The sex was exquisite. I lost track of time, of everything. The stings on my neck as he trailed his ragged kisses just added to the passion, to the blissful build and release of orgasm after orgasm. When it ended I was so weak that I could barely lift my head from the pillow. I wasn’t worried, too lost in the ecstasy of the moment, too happy and trusting to question. Sebastian brought me a healthy broth I drank without question. It was salty and thick, and I gulped it greedily until it was gone. My stomach rebelled, but Sebastian took me in his arms and comforted me. We curled together in the luxurious bed, arms and legs entangled as we slept.


When we awoke I was ravenous. Sebastian laughed and said that we would soon feed. I didn’t know that his food was served hot from the veins of a young woman whom he gave to me to drink from. God help me – I was too famished and exhausted to fight. I drained her almost to the last drop. Sebastian laughed softly and took her from me, using the same puncture wounds to drink what was left. My stomach heaved at the sight of the dead girl. Hot blood climbed up my throat and I vomited into the filthy alley, clutching my stomach and retching until finally it was over. Sebastian just smiled, holding that dead girl casually in one arm.


I see that you are a natural’ he said, blood smeared across his perfect mouth and chin. That’s when it hit me. As impossible as it was, Sebastian was a vampire and… now so was I! He said something about disposing of the body, but I was already on the move. Running into the night, incredibly fast, darting through streets and alleys at an impossible speed until I came to a tall condo on Bloor St. Then I climbed to the top and looked out over the dark city, sick and so very, very lost.


I didn’t know how to be a vampire. I did my best to try to exist without drinking human blood. Each evening I awoke at sunset, famished and knowing that only one thing could quench that burning need. I hunted animals instead, cats, squirrels, raccoons and a few dogs. I hated killing, but better animals then humans. But I soon discovered that was not enough. Hunger still gnawed at my gut, deathly fatigue pulled on my limbs. I needed something else, and the memory of human blood came to me unbidden, haunting every second of my new life. 
 

That is how Cassius found me, early one morning. Too thin, too hungry, too alone in a world I knew nothing about. I remember finding him outside my college residence, standing on the lawn gazing up at my window. He was handsome; standing there in the pink light of daybreak. His soft, blond curls picked up the colors of the sunrise and he turned slightly to reveal classic Roman features: aquiline nose, cheeks high, lips full and red. He was about six-foot-two, a nicely muscled body visible under his dark clothing. A look of yearning touched his face. That’s what made me decide to speak to him.

Exactly what is it you’re looking for?’


Our relationship began that morning, though I resisted, and so did he. I soon discovered that we had both been hurt. Love’s a bitch and then you die – and love is still a bitch. But he took me under his dark wing and taught me how to live this complicated new life of a vampire. I even overlooked the fact that he killed humans for his food. We fell in love, learning to trust each other… until that night! I could forgive him almost anything, but not that.



Cass’s Story


Vampirism came to me as a gift from a general in Caesar’s army in 50 BC Rome. General Gaius Dmitri Lupus bestowed it upon me for saving his life during the war in Gaul. It was a gift that I did not understand then; a gift that caused me unending pangs of guilt; a gift I had to learn to live with in order to survive. You see, I was cursed with a conscience. It seemed to crystallize during my transition, develop and grow in the early years of my undead existence. Did I truly want to be a vampire? Would I choose differently if I could choose once more? I can’t answer those questions, for being a vampire also brings me much pleasure.


I have learned over the centuries, the millennia, to tolerate what I have become; to work with it; to mold it, become friends with it. I have killed the innocent, oh yes! I drank from them joyfully, seeking only to quench the thirst that burned within me upon waking every night. But life, even undeath, teaches us things that we don’t want to know. My damnable conscience began to pain me early in my vampire life. It caused me to starve myself until I was little more than dry flesh and bone. It caused me to drink from the dead to seek relief. It caused me to look to my victims for a solution, and it eventually made me strong. Very, very strong. 
 

Now I kill the guilty, passionately, joyfully. I drink their blood until I am ready to burst, and I feel good about it. I know that I am helping the innocent with each guilty life that I take. Are my methods self justification? A lie I tell myself so that I can go on existing as a vampire in a world packed full with humans? Perhaps, but I don’t care. It works for me. 
 

Truth be known, I have become addicted to ‘the hunt.’ I love the chase, the capture, and the inevitable punishment. I am judge, jury and executioner all in one tidy package. My life is clear, as is my self-imposed mandate. No grey; just simple black and white. I kill the bad guys, drink their blood and have my assistant, Liz, dispose of the bodies. Well… it was clear-cut until Harmony came along…

One would expect me to be more cautious after my previous experiences in the love department. What happened with Grace, and then Kate, sent me into hiding. I lived the life of a hermit for a long time after, starving my body, trying to kill the unkillable. When I finally awakened from that nightmare, cautiously approaching life once more, I made sure I stayed free of emotional entanglements. They always ended badly for me. You see, I cannot live the life of a typical vampire, selfish, unfeeling, and hunting with no thought of who I kill. I am different. I don’t know why, but it is so and that makes everything much harder for me. Of course I have always craved someone to share my life with, but after Kate I could no longer take a risk with love. The cost was far too high.


So how did Harmony wiggle her soft, warm way into my heart? My mind still holds the vision of her on that first morning. She wore a clinging sweater and a micro skirt that made her legs long and coltish. Her hair fell in slinky brunette waves to her waist and she was about a foot shorter than me and of delicate bone structure. She looked almost fragile – as if she had not fed in a long time. But I detected the strength of steel that lived in the body and heart of this female vampire. But it was her eyes that commanded my attention – impossibly wide-spaced blue; blue like a turquoise Caribbean ocean, but sharp with intelligence. When she spoke her voice touched a part of me that I thought was long dead. I suddenly felt alive – truly alive for the first time in centuries. 
 

I know that I hurt her that night. I shattered the trust that had grown between us. More than that, I put her life in danger, and for that I will never forgive myself.



Ulrico’s Story


Cassius is my friend. We were comrades long ago when we discovered each other in Greece. The Roman Empire was dying out then… it was the 4th century AD. Cassius was a marvel; the first vampire I had ever met who had a conscience, like me. We spent many nights hunting together, sharing our secrets, delighting in the company of women who gave themselves freely to us. Oh yes, the women… that is when I began to love truly them, and it is a love affair that has never ended, though women have come and gone. Cassius and I decided that we would take no innocent lives and make no other vampires. We were too aware, even in our vampire youth, of the dangers inherent in creating others of our kind.


After spending a few centuries together we went our own ways, all on good terms. We searched for different things to bring meaning to our existence. From time to time we would meet, as friends often do. It was after the dark ages, in 1493, that we reunited. It was my desire then to devote my time to bringing organization to the vampire community world-wide. I saw that we could not continue to kill without regard, as we always had. We needed to have rules to conduct our existence or the world would surely find out us. That was the year that the International Guild of Vampires was created. I called on Cassius to help me establish a new world order. Our numbers were still fairly small then, most vampires being far too selfish to share their gift with mere humans. But we were growing, and laws and a policing system, the Sentinels, were established with the help of a board of members chosen for their wisdom and sentience. We were small in those early days, but our ideas were grandiose. We soon developed the Guild Court of Law, Guild Tribunals, a Guild Treasury and established ourselves in every major country of the world. So we remain today, larger and stronger than ever. 
 

My work took all of my time and effort and Cassius and I lost touch when he decided to leave the governance of the Guild in the 18th century. We had seen each other only once or twice in the preceding centuries, until that night he came to me for help. I lived in a large farmhouse on the outskirts of a small town, north of Toronto. I was happy, living in a home filled with my most favorite creatures – women. I believe we were ninety-eight at that time, both vampire and human… Of course I loved them all, but my favorite, and the one I would choose above all others if forced, was my African Queen, Peaceful. She and I had been together since the late 19th century, when we discovered each other in England. Peaceful is truly my queen, my companion, my confidant, best friend and lover. She returns my love and accepts me precisely as I am, with my thirst for other women, and my undying devotion to my harem. They complete me as I have never been, in life or undeath. All of my women bring me such joy and wonder! That is why I wished my friend Cassius to know something of domestic bliss.


Cassius has a good heart. He is a principled vampire, intelligent, exact and efficient. His one failing is his inability to give himself to love. He and Harmony were such a good match… I was shocked when he did what he did, knowing how much he loves her! Love requires a leap of faith, but Cassius is too guarded to leap without knowing what is coming next, especially in matters of the heart. That is what caused all the trouble.



Sebastian’s Story

I fought the fiend that night in New Orleans – fought him with all that I had as he sucked the blood from my neck and changed me into this – this monster! Such hatred filled my heart that night, and it has never left me. Even the vampire women I collect like perfect little dolls do nothing to assuage the rage that boils within me every waking hour of the night. 
 

Do they think that I don’t know? Do they think me so stupid! The Guild in all their wisdom does not know of my intelligence. I never expected my little collection of vampire females to bring me hope or peace. That night, in the steamy fecund air of a Louisiana summer, my ‘business partner’ stole everything from me. Most importantly, he stole my sweet Melanie. We were to be married in a few months and I was forced into this miserable existence AGAINST MY WILL! How could I go back to Melanie? I could not trust myself around my sweet darling once I was changed into this vile creature, and a year later I was forced to watch in secret as she married my best friend instead of me. 
 

Since then I have collected my little harlots, all facsimiles of my sweet Melanie, but none with the innocence or love she possessed. The only time I am removed from the pain and rage is when I am pursuing another human woman to add to my demented, soulless menagerie. For those few short hours I am transported to another time, a time of simplicity and hope. It all evaporates quickly once I change them, these interchangeable changelings of my beautiful Melanie. None can touch her. They are devoted to me, of course. I am their maker, and though we do not touch – either in affection or passion – after I change them, they would gladly lay down their measly little lives for me. I suppose that provides me a sense of power; and that is a comfort… a small, tedious comfort. One that was stolen from me by Cassius! 
 

Now even blood does not bring me relief. I feed because I must. Who cares if I broke the rules of the Vampire Book of Law! I no longer care about being here, a part of this lousy planet, this embittered existence. There is power in not caring. That’s what Cassius never understood, not really. If you just don’t give a fuck, you’ll do anything and damn the consequences. 

Want to know more about the author? 
Visit here: Heather Anne Lambert 


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My reviews are my honest opinion. I am in no way paid for my thoughts. Each book I review is either a review copy (ARC) given to me by the publisher or author or a copy I've purchased on my own.




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