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.
What are YOU afraid of?
Hey! Happy Halloween! Irene and I are so excited to be here, and want to thank Crystal and her review team for having us as guests on such an auspicious occasion.
Irene and I were happy to score a Halloween post, because we’ve spent the last fifteen months or so working on a vampire romance. Vespers is the story of Thaddeus Dupont, a 115-year-old vampire who was studying to be a monk when he was turned, and Sarasija Mishra, a twenty-two-year-old college grad who takes a job as Dupont’s assistant.
The story is complicated by two things: both men are gay, and though Sara is out, Thaddeus has spent eighty-odd years fighting against his nature. (And yes, Sara is a boy in this one. I know it’s confusing, but it works in context. Promise!) The other complicating factor is the demons.
Demon attacks are generally scary, so to make the story stronger, we had to figure out what specific things Thaddeus and Sara are afraid of. I’m not talking “jump scare”—you know, the “I hate spiders and one drops from the ceiling onto my head and I lose my mind” kind. We had to figure out what each character wanted most, and what they would be most afraid to lose.
And then we knew where to aim the demons.
Thad was pretty easy. He’s afraid of the gay, because it could cost him his one chance at reclaiming his immortal soul. He also feels a great deal of responsibility for the people in his life whom he cares for, so he’s highly motivated to keep them safe.
Sara also cares a great deal for his family, but I think his primary fear is failure. He’s the youngest son in a family that puts a high priority on academic and professional success. He’s just graduated with a bachelor’s degree, but his older brother and sister are the doctor/lawyer/PhD types. Aside from helping his mother out financially, he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, so he takes a chance on a well-paying job at the other end of the country.
So: Sara’s less frightened of rolling the dice on a vampire than he is of disappointing his mother. And Thad’s never going to take a chance on another man.
Or is he?
Well, we did write a romance, so…
The fears we identified for both Sara and Thaddeus are pretty universal. By focusing on basic stuff, we created characters that readers can (I hope) relate to.
Let’s change gears a little bit. What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? For me it was Silence of the Lambs. That moment near the end, where Clarice is walking down into the evil guy’s basement, and you know what she’s going to find, but she doesn’t? I tell you what, I was so frightened you could have turned the TV off right then and I wouldn’t even have cared.
And yeah, the evil guy is evil, but the reason the scene terrified me was that I liked Clarice and I didn’t want her to get hurt. Because, like Thaddeus, I feel a sense of responsibility for the people I care for and that extra layer gives the scene more resonance.
Here’s another example. Buffy (the vampire slayer) stakes vamps pretty easily. In many episodes, Buffy’s patrolling the neighborhood, a vampire pops out of somewhere, and BAM. Buffy stakes him and goes back to pondering her trigonometry homework or talking with Willow about why Spike is such an a$$hole.
Then there are moments in that series that tear your heart out, like when Angelus attacks Buffy and she has to stake him, and for just a second he gets his soul back and she realizes she’s killed Angel. That fight scene destroyed me, because not only was I afraid Buffy would get hurt, but I KNEW she was afraid of losing Angel.
And when she did I cried like a baby.
I don’t at all mean to rank the storytelling in Vespers alongside Silence of the Lambs or Buffy the Vampire Slayer—though it’s important to aim high, no matter what you’re working on. Buffy and Silence are both great examples of how much more fear a reader/viewer feels when the storyteller involves the head and the heart, as well as the adrenal system. And that’s certainly what we were after in Vespers.
Thanks very much for hanging out with us today. Leave a comment with your favorite vampire story, and make sure you enter our giveaway for a $10 gift card. Most importantly, Happy Halloween!!
Wordlessly, Sara followed me out of the parlor and up the stairs. As we trod the groaning risers, his silence bore down on me. Sara was never quiet. I chanced a glance in his direction. He met my gaze for the briefest moment, then turned away.
Pausing several steps from the top, I made a more obvious effort to look at him. I did not yield when he tried to pass me. While he glared out over the banister, the color in his cheeks rising, I replayed the events of the evening.
“You brought down a demon.” One of many events weighing on him. “Where did you get the dagger?” Only one weapon in the house would separate a demon from the host, and he’d managed to find it.
“On my way out the door.” He paused, his lips pressed thin. “It burned, you know? The stuff you put on my mouth.”
The stuff. My blood. “I’m sorry.”
He shook his head as if nothing I said would make a difference.
“Whatever, Mr. Dupont.” He ran his tongue over his lower lip. The shock of desire forced me to join him in gazing over the banister. “Like I said, I was headed for the door, and I grabbed it out of the kitchen. Figured a weapon might come in handy.”
Sometimes this house surprised me. I kept the ritual dagger locked in a drawer in my room. By rights, I should have chided him for leaving the house, but the distress in his face kept me quiet.
I stepped aside so he could pass, and we progressed to the upper level. Sara went down the hall to the guest room, glancing at me before entering. “So, what Ms. Alves, um, Nohea was saying…”
Merde alors. “Oui?” Fists clenched, I vowed to answer whatever question he asked.
“So…” His tongue again, just the tip, pink and moist against his darker lip. Something in his face softened, and his sleepy eyes got heavier. “Why is my sex a problem?”
He gave the word sex an infinitesimal lift, as if even in saying it he’d guessed the reason and been surprised. His cheeks warmed, adding a hint of pleasure to his reaction.
I found I could not speak. He’d plunged us both straight into a caimon-infested swamp. Yes, I’d promised an answer, and yes, he had a right to know. The heat of his stare warmed me in a way I hadn’t felt in fifty years.
Though I honored my pledge of celibacy now, it hadn’t always been so. The monks held my lone chance at salvation. I could not bear to take the risk.
Without any apparent conscious decision-making on my part, I covered the distance between the two of us, stopped only by his sharp inhale. I pressed my hand to the wall, nails digging into the flocked paper. He stood still, breathing fast and shallow, his scent enticing me to go closer.
“Your s-sex”— I did not stutter—“is not the problem. My response to it, however, is.”
I could no more meet his eyes than I could have flown to the moon. His heartbeat should have chased me away. The brush of his breath against my throat should have driven me into my room.
“Not a problem to me,” he whispered, the words tickling my skin.
He had to be reacting to the events of the evening, pushed too far to have any sense of self-preservation. My heart, a long-neglected organ, throbbed in response to his closeness. Slowly, as if he might flee into the night, I raised my arm and rested my hand against his cheek.
Just as slowly, he turned and pressed a kiss into my palm.
Extending my arm would have taken no effort at all, wrapping my hand around his neck, pulling him into my body, taking his lips and then—when we were both breathless and flushed—plunging my teeth into the pulse at the base of his throat.
My body roared its desire.
I could not.
I backed away, as feeble as a revenant in a crypt. “Again, I must apologize. There are lines we must not cross.” Or risk a cost too high for either of us to pay.
The muffled thump of my door swinging shut punctuated my retreat. Alone in my room, I fell to my knees.
For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.
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.
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 Irene
Where to find Liv