I'm excited to share a Paranormal Romance author with you today. Please welcome Asha King. She writes with a little bit of heat in her stories. Today she's sharing about her newest release, Stray Cat Strut. If you need to get caught up, the first two books - Cats in Heat and Cat Scratch Fever - are on sale for 99c!
After her post is a great excerpt of Stray Cat Strut. At the end of the post is a GIVEAWAY!
Though Lovers Be Lost
Although I have a true Beauty and the Beast retelling coming out in December, my paranormal romance series Cats & Conjure actually owes quite a bit to the B&tB TV show.
No, not that new “remake” (dear God, please stop everyone from remaking everything), but this Catherine and Vincent:
I only managed to write one standalone romance years ago before I quickly found myself leaning toward series books. It’s my favourite to read and quickly became my favourite to write. And I wrote it as I often saw: different couples in each book, all connected either as friends, or fellow townspeople, etc, the heroes and heroines of future books being glimpsed in earlier ones.
But I also love urban fantasy and paranormal romance, following the same couple from book to book, and when I started the Cats & Conjure series, it seemed a logical way to explore that. A heroine discovering her powers, the dark brooding hero determined to keep her safe, a horrific villain hunting them, and a host of side characters. There was a detailed world waiting to be uncovered, one that could span several novellas.
Also? I might be in the minority, but I love cliffhangers. I love when I’m frantically flipping the pages on my Kobo reader looking for more, I love when I gasp and scream at my screen at the end of a TV season. As long as I know there are more stories to come, cliffhangers thrill me, and the Cats & Conjure novellas ended up taking that structure. Although an arc is complete in each book, there are threads right into the next.
At the core of that had to be the couple: Adelaide and Erik, a conjurer/healer and a tiger-shifter raised to kill.
Now, I’m not a fan of a lot of the keeping-lovers-apart tropes. I’m not into love triangles. Although I’ve employed the Big Misunderstanding before, I try not to anymore.
What I do love? The slow burn romance. The all-consuming ache and yearning for someone. The world of danger threatening their lives at every turn, leaving two people willing to die for one another. The “bond greater than love” that keeps them together even when they remain apart.
Addie and Erik owe a lot to Catherine and Vincent in that regard, not just because he happens to turn into a big cat sometimes. They might not get together quickly (the first novella, despite being called Cats in Heat, is not a sex-fest), they might struggle to resist, they might be torn apart, but they always, always find their way back to one another even when lost. It presents many challenges to keep their story fresh and interesting with each book rather than give them a happily ever after and move on to another couple, but it makes it that much more rewarding to see them succeed.
Stray Cat Strut Excerpt
(The scene: Addie, Erik, and company are on the run, and were led to a fortune teller’s house, who they ask for help.)
Lady Octavia’s cabin was likely warm in winter—there was an empty fireplace in the center of the large living room that would easily heat the whole space. In summer, however, the place was probably an oven, so fans whirled in two of the windows and one hung from the ceiling humming dully with every revolution.
The two dogs settled on either side of Octavia’s chair as she sat, resting the shotgun loosely across her lap.
At this point, Addie would’ve preferred the crystal ball.
Octavia gestured for them to sit. Adelaide took the end of one couch, the nameless cat still sitting annoyingly on her shoulder. Naliah took a straight-back chair from next to a writing desk in the corner and promptly sat. Murphy and Erik waited near the door, standing warily and not taking their eyes from Octavia.
The room was simply adorned, more on the rustic side, and given the lack of fortune teller look, Addie figured she must conduct business elsewhere in the house.
“Your kind is supposed to be dead,” Octavia said.
Addie shifted under the woman’s steady stare. “My grandmother was one, but she’s been dead several years.”
Octavia nodded, no look of surprise passing her eyes. “I didn’t know her but knew of her. Good woman. I’m sorry she’s passed.”
“Her home—my home—burned down and right now...right now we’re in trouble and need somewhere to go. I can work with an existing Sanctuary, I just can’t build one from the ground up yet.”
Octavia said nothing for several long moments, her gaze traveling over everyone in the room before returning to Addie. “Come. Let’s make tea.” She rose without waiting for a response, walking—with shotgun in hand—around the farthest archway and disappearing from sight. Her dogs remained where they were, both staring at Murphy and Erik.
Apparently Addie was the only one invited. She exchanged a glance with Erik, who barely nodded in response, and then she rose and followed Octavia.
She found the other woman in the kitchen, running water into a kettle. The shotgun rested across the kitchen table and Addie breathed considerably easier knowing no one was pointing it at her now. The cat leapt off her shoulder at last, landing on the kitchen counter. Octavia gave the feline a look but didn’t shoo her away.
“Something very bad is happening to you,” Octavia said in a low voice.
Addie nodded. “Someone figured out what I am. He’ll keep killing to get to me—that’s why we need a Sanctuary.”
Though Octavia pulled the kettle from the tap and set it on the stove, she left the water running in the sink—maybe she knew some of her guests had heightened hearing. “There is more than one monster after you. And even if you find this new Sanctuary and make it your own, you have a lot to overcome. Enemies from all side, Adelaide, and you don’t know yet what you truly are.”
A shiver traced Addie’s spine. “What am I?”
“That’s not a question I can answer.” The woman’s eyes seemed to flicker toward the black cat grooming itself on the counter, but maybe Addie was just seeing things.
“Do you know where I’m supposed to go?”
The kettle whistled and Octavia busied herself pouring two cups of tea. She made no move to make some for the others and Addie didn’t speak up. At last she turned off the faucet, passed a mug to Addie, and then gestured over her shoulder. “Let’s ask the cards, shall we?”
Octavia led Addie to the opposite end of the kitchen, away from the large doorway that led to the living room where the others waited. Erik would hear her retreating steps and be on high alert, but Addie tried to send reassuring energy his way so he knew all was well. The other kitchen exit took her to a dark narrow hall and down a handful of steps into another room.
This was more like Addie had expected of a fortune teller. Fabrics in blue, purple, and gold, both brocade and sheer, draped from the ceiling to hide the walls, making a cozy spot in the center of the room. Plus cushions were splayed over a Persian rug around a low table, atop which sat candles and a fabric-wrapped package. The room’s light came from behind the draped fabric which made it subdued and warm. No chairs, but when Octavia took a seat on the pillows on one side of the table, Addie took the other and cradled her tea in her lap. It smelled like chamomile, nothing particularly forbidding among the scents, and so she took a sip.
Octavia settled, her silk robe falling open to reveal yoga pants and a T-shirt. If she had on the entire fortune teller getup, she’d likely look quite striking, but for now it was an odd mix with her dramatically lined eyes and casual clothes. She set her mug on the table and pulled the fabric back from the little square package to reveal tarot cards.
Addie knew a girl, once, who claimed to read tarot, so she was at least familiar with what the cards should look like. These ones, however, were nothing like the Rider-Waite deck she was familiar with. The illustrations were completely different and characters were Japanese rather than English.
Octavia immediately began shuffling while Addie sipped her tea, then she set the deck in the center of the table. “Cut the deck thrice.”
Addie reached forward with one hand and did so until there were three piles of cards.
The fortune teller picked the first and then tucked the other two to the side. She closed her eyes, hand hovering over the chosen deck for a moment, and then began turning the cards one by one face-up on the table before her.
Addie watched in silence, feeling energy in the room snapping and crackling. The cat—both in her vision and at the park pavilion—hadn’t steered her wrong, it seemed; this woman truly did have power.
Soon Octavia had a spread of ten cards but she’d laid them out in a spiral-like pattern. She tapped one long fingernail on the card in the center. “You are amidst many influences and your final path isn’t clear. You were told to go north?”
She nodded slowly. “North. To the water. The Sanctuary that used to be there is hidden now—quite literally.” She tapped a different card, one at the top that was nothing but a blur of pastel colors. “The woman who created it was powerful and the magic that remains is enough to hide it from both sight and touch.”
“How will I—”
“You’ll see it.” Octavia lifted her gaze to meet Addie’s eyes. “One descended from the Protector will see through the glamour, do not worry on that.”
Addie nodded, rolling the words around her head for a moment. Why couldn’t this woman just draw a damn map or give GPS coordinates? “Okay, so north to the water? How far?”
“It’s an island. You’ll need a boat. Fifteen miles down the road from my house is a marina—start there. You’re the one who can sense the Sanctuary, you’ll have to show them.”
Naliah’s gonna love that. “Is there anything else? Can you tell me why there are so many cats around me?”
“Guardians will be drawn to you, just as they were in the times of old. It is not my place to tell you who you are, Adelaide.” Then Octavia’s hand snapped out and grasped Addie’s wrist, squeezing tight.
Addie’s heart pounded hard and she struggled to calm her breath, tried not to jerk her arm back and flee.
Darkness passed over the fortune teller’s eyes, something ancient in their depths. “You do not escape the monsters pursuing you unscathed. Greatness requires great sacrifice. Not everyone will survive this onslaught, Adelaide.” Octavia released Addie’s wrist and leaned back again. “Make your peace with their deaths now.”
The Books So Far...
Book #1: Cats in Heat
Adelaide Deveraux lives a quiet life in the country, never quite fitting in with other people and preferring her spare time spent caring for the various stray cats in the area. But late one Friday night, a feline of a much larger persuasion shows up at her door, shifting into a very injured—and very naked—human man in need of help.
Erik Wells has been on the run his whole life: from the people who killed his parents when he was a boy, from a group determined to exterminate his own kind, and now from the underground gladiator ring who abduct shifters and have them fight to the death for entertainment. And he needs to keep running, but something about Addie draws him to her home and her care.
The tiger in him senses it: there’s more to Addie than apparent at first glance—more to her knack for working with roots and herbs; more to her prophetic dreams; more to the secrets buried in her family history. But if she is who he thinks she is, the danger’s just beginning, as the powerful man responsible for keeping Erik captive for so long will stop at nothing to obtain her for his own.
Just 99c until September 30! Kindle – ARe – Nook – Kobo – iBookstore – Smashwords
Book #2: Cat Scratch Fever
Tiger shifter Erik Wells has reluctantly left the woman he loves in the hopes of protecting her from the people out to get him. But his retreat has come too late: Erik’s enemies have not only found her but know exactly who she is and what she’s capable of.
Adelaide Deveraux is only beginning to discover the power of conjure passed down to her from her late witchdoctor grandmother. But those powers might not be enough to save her when she’s taken from the sanctuary of her house and brought to the man intent on owning her and her magic...even if he has to break her to do it.
Just 99c until September 30! Kindle – ARe – Nook – Kobo – iBookstore – Smashwords
Book #3: Stray Cat Strut
Adelaide Deveraux has escaped her enemy’s compound along with her tiger-shifter lover, Erik Wells, but the home that had once been her sanctuary is now gone, burned to the ground and leaving them with no choice but to go on the run.
At least Erik knows a thing or two about running; he’s been doing it for most of his life, and he’s determined to keep Addie safe. Between their handful of allies and Addie’s growing magic, he thinks they just might have enough resources to survive, and, for the first time in his life, sees a future for himself and the woman he loves.
But the powerful sorcerer on their tail has more than owning Addie in his sights. Now he’s also out for revenge and not everyone will make it out alive…
Kindle – ARe – Nook – Kobo – iBookstore – Smashwords
Coming in 2016: Alley Cat
All three are bundled into one print volume if that’s your thing: Cats & Conjure Volume One is now available in paperback.
About the Author:
Asha King likes good-looking men and hot books, and often strives to combine the two in contemporary, paranormal, and suspenseful romantic stories. She hails from the exotic land of Canada, where she doesn’t ride a polar bear to work but does drink vast amounts of locally brewed beer and watches hockey.
She loves connecting with readers and you can keep up to date with her online at www.AshaKing.com, where you’ll find a list of her books as well as what she’s working on.
Find more of Asha at...
This is for any book on Asha King's backlist of books.
Ends September 27, 2015