May 24, 2014
I’m back with the essentials on Because of Jade, but first, to invite you to ask me anything about Vasquez and James. While out and out spoilers won’t be posted here, I’ll endeavor to answer every question as best I can. Reader questions often prompt me to sort out something I hadn’t quite figured out yet, in a clear way, and I enjoy that! So, is there anything you would like to know about Luki and Sonny or any person, event, or thing in their world? (And remember, your comment is good for an entry in the rafflecopter—see previous post!)
Some more things planned for this party, another giveaway (only for party attendees!), some excerpts (one with heat, the other, something else), some different posts about V&J and me and my cat employees (or maybe I’m their employee), and lots of lively discussion, I hope (but of course that depends on you).
And here’s the blurb!
Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade—a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.
Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.
Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.
I’m checking for comments and questions, and I’ll be back soon with an excerpt
May 24, 2014
Hello! I’m Lou Sylvre, author of the Vasquez and James books, and I’m having a party! I’m celebrating the release (yesterday) of Because of Jade. Although in some places you’ll find the book billed as #5, it truthfully caps the whole series, including (possible especially) the novella Yes, which is definitely romance, but a bit apart from the suspense theme of the other books. Yes has previously only been available as an ebook, but it’s included in the paperback version of the new release.
Let’s go for a wild ride through Sonny and Luki’s history.
In previous episodes…
In the early pages of Loving Luki Vasquez</strong, Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James spotted each other on the streets of Port Clifton, and met for coffee at Margie’s Cup O’ Gold Café the next day. Luki had his I’m-a-chilly-badass black coffee with sugar, while Sonny had an oh-my-God-did-I-just-say-that raspberry latte, which got the whole romance off to a limping start. Their lips finally meet in kiss on the beach a few days later, but almost immediately the bad guy shows up. Luki is sure Sonny is the target but, seasoned detective that he is, he can’t put a finger on who is behind the string of ugly crimes. Luki’s badassery and Sonny’s calm common sense and courage pull them through and they seem also to have fallen in love by the time it’s over.
But is it ever really over? In Delsyn’s Blues,, Sonny’s nephew Delsyn, whom he raised, dies as a result of horrible things that happened in book one. Sonny grieves and blames himself for Delsyn’s death, and has sent Luki packing back to Chicago. Delsyn’s murder, it’s later discovered was really an early result of a new and nasty crime.. Things go from bad to worse, but Luki refuses to let Sonny deal with threats on his own. He knows fighting crime requires a badass, and he’s certain he’s well qualified. Once Sonny is back in Luki’s arms and his head begins to clear, he know he doesn’t want to be alone,—so he proposes marriage. While bleeding out from a “flesh wound,” Luki accepts. In the end they must beat impossible odds to survive and hope to see their wedding day.
In book three, Finding Jackie , Chapter One opens with a sunny Hawaiian wedding on a breezy hilltop. The honeymoon starts sweet, but it can’t last, and soon a strange message is delivered to Luki by an informant. It’s cryptic, but it’s a threat—from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is tricked into delivering himself into the hands of a sadistic killer, finding Jackie and rescuing him takes Luki and Sonny on a hunt through leather bars, homeless meal lines, and dusty desert back roads that lead to terror.
Then there’s Saving Sonny James. The first part of this book is about how a couple decades of being a badass can come back to slap a man in the face—and about how a really strong man and his equally strong husband deal with that. The second part of the book is what Luki does to save Sonny’s life when things go all wrong in Paris, France.
Next post in a few minutes: about Yes, and the blurb and essentials on the new release.
May 23, 2014
Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by today. I’ve loved chatting with you and I hope you enjoy the novella if you check it out. I had so much fun, I decided to give away two copies. AndreaM and Trix are the winners. Congrats. Contact me with the email you use for DSP so we can get you your copy. You can find me at janadenardo at yahoo dot com.
May 23, 2014
May 23 Dreamspinner Press Seventh Anniversary Giveaway Contest is City of Jade by L.J. LaBarthe.
For today’s Dreamspinner Press Seventh Anniversary e-book contest, share your favorite Ancient-themed DsP book or series.
All comments, likes, shares, re-tweets on this blog, the DsP Facebook page and Twitter will be entries to win one of ten e-book copies of City of Jade by L.J. LaBarthe. You have until 8:00 pm tomorrow, May 24th for eligible interactions.
May 23, 2014
This will be the last one for the night, I think but the giveaway will run for a few more hours to let the people who were at work a chance to drop in and join us.
As I’ve said before, I enjoy detective fiction, so I was thrilled when Victor stood up in the formation process of the story and said that’s what he was. The framework of the mystery went up fairly quickly, though weaving in the red herrings and the suspects took a lot more work. I inadvertently set up a very classist setting with Abraham and Permelia, the victim, being in the upper echelons and Victor representing the every man.
Victor is very aware of the barrier. It stands not only between him and Abraham, but also between him and doing his job. Victor finds door after door closed in his face as he tries to investigate Permelia’s murder. In the course of the investigation, Victor is ignored, belittled, and needs help from higher ups to put pressure on a class that feels no obligation to talk to him.
As much as they irritate him, Victor could handle the work issues, but he has no idea how to deal with a friendship, let alone relationship, with Abraham. As far as people in Abraham’s circle are concerned, Victor is the help. They wouldn’t approve of a friendship and Victor knows it. He can’t even imagine Abraham’s brother approving of their friendship. Victor isn’t even imagining a world in which he and Abraham are lovers, not at first, because he can’t see past the gulf in their social status. It causes Victor no end of heartache.
I’ve already asked about your favorites in mystery. While I can’t give away the villain here, we should give them their due. Who is your favorite villain? I’m partial to the complex villain, one who got pushed to the edge and made the wrong choice (Darth Vader, Khan Noonien Singh) though there is something to be said about the terrifying sociopath (Hannibal).
Thanks for everyone who stopped in. I appreciate it.
May 23, 2014
Abraham Westbrook is a millionaire who both inherited his money and made his own millions. Growing up, he was well indoctrinated with the idea that he would be the head of the family and the business one day. He needed heirs, and his father had no compunction about selecting Abraham a bride from a good family. Abraham had no desire to be married, but had accepted it was inevitable for a man of his status.
When he met Minerva, Abraham knew he had found a perfect compromise between his true desires and his duty. Minerva was bright and inventive and his best friend even though he didn’t greatly desire her. They had three children, Abe, his first born son and namesake and then the twins, Harrison and Vivian. Minerva died in childbirth along with their second daughter. He mourned the loss of his friend, but felt absolutely no need to remarry. Abraham ignored the demands of society to take another wife for the sake of his children. He considered his duty done.
Abraham is naturally aware of the fact Victor takes the children as a sign that Abraham would have no interest in him. Victor isn’t tremendously surprised, however, when he learns the truth. It’s hardly an isolated case. Abraham loves and nurtures his children. He would do anything for them.
While not everyone likes stories with children in them, I think it can add another dimension to the relationship. Anyone have a good dealing with kids story they want to share? Or how about a story where the kids stole the show?
May 23, 2014
Here’s another excerpt from early on just a few hours after their first meeting. Enjoy.
Unsurprisingly, wealthy men like Abraham Westbrook thought they were in charge of everything. Victor had expected it, but that didn’t make it any less aggravating when Abraham insisted on meeting his brother at the airstrip. When Victor couldn’t dissuade him, he allowed Westbrook to accompany him in his police-issued horseless carriage to the small strip out on the edge of town, where it wouldn’t bother the well-heeled Hyde Park residents.
From the red, black, and yellow bladder on the airship, Victor knew it was from the Dunn line. There probably wasn’t an airship he couldn’t name after a quick glance. A frisson of grief over his injury-ended career as an airman peeked out of a dark corner of Victor’s mind as it so often did whenever he was at an airstrip. Next to him, Abraham shifted his weight back and forth as they waited for the Dunn ship to dock.
“You don’t have to be here, sir. If you need time to yourself after what’s happened, you could wait in the station.” Victor pointed back over his shoulder at the small but well-appointed building. “Or the automobile.”
Abraham offered a weary smile. “Thank you for the concern, Detective. I need to be here for my brother.”
Victor nodded. He doubted he would be any different. In retrospect, it might be good Abraham had insisted on coming, because Victor didn’t know what Benjamin looked like. He followed Abraham’s lead once the passengers began to disembark. He probably could have picked Benjamin Westbrook out of the crowd based on the stiffness of his posture and the anguish etched into his face.
Benjamin Westbrook was quite different from his brother. He wore a suit—that probably cost half-a-year’s pay for Victor—impeccable in every sense and traditional, stolid deep blue with a white shirt. While Abraham’s hair was longer than was usual and a deep brown, Benjamin’s hair might even be more conservative than Victor’s, a more muddy and unattractive shade of brown. He lacked his brother’s tall, lanky form. Victor knew he had nothing to base it on, but Benjamin’s face didn’t look like he smiled often.
Abraham briefly embraced his brother, and Victor overheard his mumbled “I’m sorry, Ben.”
Benjamin caught his brother’s wrist. “Is it true? Is Permelia dead? What are they doing about it?”
“It’s true. I truly am sorry, Ben.” Abraham beckoned Victor forward. “This is Detective Victor Van Voorhis. He’s going to get to the bottom of this for us, and he has some questions for you.”
Victor certainly hoped Abraham was right. Benjamin looked less convinced. His pinched face was as cold as Abraham’s had been warm.
May 23, 2014
I settled on Hyde Park, NY as the backdrop for If Two of Them Are Dead. I used to live close to that and it was a great setting for story set in the 1880s (and I was sure I wanted a setting other than London). Once I had selected the setting, I knew the victim and her family had to come from money. This small rural town doubled as the home for some of the country’s most wealthy families. The Roosevelts have a home there, and the Vanderbilt mansion would have been a common sight to Abraham Westbrook and in fact, I shameless stole the facade of this house for my novella. It’s an amazing Beaux Art building. Have a look. Isn’t it magnificent?
Victor, however, is not that impressed by the house. He thinks it looks cold and like a mausoleum. Of course, once he’s inside Abraham’s home, he’s quite blown away and more than a little intimidated. Victor’s entire dwelling could probably fit in Abraham’s ballroom.
Wealth and classism do play a prominent role in the story. It stands between Victor and doing his job, not to mention between him and Abraham. I placed Abraham and his brother, Benjamin firmly among the legendary 400, who are mentioned in the story. For those unfamiliar with the term, it came from Mrs. Caroline Astor. It was said her ballroom could hold four hundred people.
Abraham and Benjamin belong to this group. They were born into their family’s astonishing wealth and both have taken it to even higher levels, Ben continuing in the fur and textile business their father left them, while Abraham went off on his own making airship engines and other fantastical steam-driven inventions. However, being richer than Croesus hasn’t always made Abraham happy. He inherited a ton of responsibilities. He has no respect for people in his class who just sit about doing nothing but spending their inheritance. He’s a man who prizes intellect and ingenuity more than money.
Abraham is already something of an outcast for his love of inventing and working with metal. He’d rather be talking to and funding Nikolai Tesla than attending one of Lady Astor’s parties. Playing up the eccentric millionaire gives Abraham the perfect out when it comes to befriending Victor. His determination to pursue the relationship makes all the difference.
Since Steampunk does seem to love London, what do you think of a completely different setting? What setting would you love to see a Steampunk use?
May 23, 2014
How about an excerpt from the novella? I hope you enjoy.
“I’m Detective Victor Van Voorhis. I need to speak to the master of the house.”
“He’s expecting you. You can give your coat to Justin.” She waved her hand to indicate what looked like a tree stand with hands. She pressed the brass dogwood flower-shaped button in its center and the thing rumbled.
It wheezed and hissed little puffs of steam, and the arms extended as the contraption lurched forward on its wheeled base, startling Victor. He studied the machine, having never seen anything like it. He wondered how the mechanical butler worked, but it didn’t seem to work without someone there to turn it on. Was it more than a mechanized coat rack? Victor would have to ask.
“Do you like Justin?”
The male voice dragged Victor’s attention away. A tall, almost overly thin man stood in an interior doorway that led deeper into the home. He was surprisingly clean-shaven, though his walnut hair was mussed. Grief pinched his otherwise fine features.
“You named a machine?”
The man offered a wan smile. “It’s a quirk of mine, one of many. I name all my inventions. I’m Abraham Westbrook.”
To Victor’s surprise, this wealthy man stuck out his hand to shake. Victor felt nicks and calluses he hadn’t expected to find on a rich man’s hands. “I’m Detective Victor Van Voorhis. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Abraham nodded. “Thank you. Her children are upstairs with mine and their nannies. They weren’t here when it happened. Will you need to speak to them? They’re naturally very upset.”
“Later,” Victor said, handing his coat to Justin, who rolled away back to its corner. “Just briefly about the morning, before they left. You can be present, of course. However, I have questions for you, sir, about your sister-in-law. I understand your brother is in the city. Were you and your wife at home this morning and afternoon?” Victor had no real idea how the rich spent their days. Why wasn’t this man at work? Did he even work?
“I was here in my workshop.” Abraham gestured toward a hallway. “My wife passed over five years ago.”
“I’m sorry.” The generic words of sympathy tumbled out of him. Victor was used to saying them several times a day when working a case.
“It’s fine, Detective. Come with me. We can talk in my library. It will be more comfortable.”
Victor followed him through a living room roughly the size of Victor’s house, then down a hall with carpeting that ate all the sounds of their passage and felt like walking on a cloud. The scent of old books, slightly musty and even dustier, hit Victor’s nose as they entered the library. A large marble fireplace dominated one wall, with comfortable-looking chairs and a table with a whiskey decanter and glasses set out in front of it. Rows of books lined every other surface, along with more knickknacks and other memorabilia than Victor could easily take in.
May 23, 2014
For all its steampunk trappings, If Two of Them Are Dead, is a mystery at its heart. It has been my go-to genre since I started reading novels from Nancy Drew on. I started the story knowing who would die: Permelia Westbrook, wife and sister-in-law of two wealthy brothers, Benjamin and Abraham respectively. However, that was all I knew about these characters. I didn’t even know who had killed her and why.
Poor Permelia had to die so that her brother-in-law, Abraham could cross paths with Victor, the detective trying to solve her murder. At first I thought, the easiest way to work up a motive would be to have a love triangle and that would suffice. It’s a common motive, after all, but I wanted something more.
There isn’t much more I can say about that without giving away the plot. Of course, Abraham becomes an instant suspect. As a rather eccentric millionaire, he was in his nearby home working on his inventions while his brother, Benjamin, was down in New York City dealing with the family business. Abraham had access to the victim, and Permelia and he didn’t particularly like each other.
Victor is instantly attracted to Abraham but fights to put him out of mind. He can’t possibly get involved with a suspect. Victor quickly learns there is no shortage of suspects and motives. However, finding a way to clear Abraham and his brother will prove harder. Victor’s attraction to Abraham distracts him from his job. Soon, it becomes a race to the find the killer before someone else dies.
As I said above, mysteries is my all-time favorite genre. I love the classics from Agatha Christie to Ngaio Marsh to Arthur Conan Doyle. I love too many new ones to even name but C.S. Harris, Jaqueline Winspear, Tess Gerritsen, Preston & Child all top that list. Who is your favorite mystery writer or your favorite detective? It really is hard to top Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.