Sunday, December 7, 2014

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Warlord by Lana Grayson

Warlord by Lana Grayson
(Anathema #1)
Publication date: November 28th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense


The only thing more dangerous than the Anathema MC is the club’s president.


For twenty-one years, Rose Darnell’s family dedicated their lives to the Anathema MC. For twenty-one years, she’s searched for a way out.

Bound to a world of bloodied knuckles and drug money, Rose believes her musical talent will rescue her from an abusive father and overbearing brothers. A chance audition and promising gig would free Rose from the outlaw 1%, but her brothers won’t let her escape the club’s shadow.
A rival chapter threatens Rose, and only Anathema’s president, Thorne Radek, can protect her.


A traitor lurks within Anathema’s brotherhood, and Thorne will burn the world to scorch the rat. When an innocent diva with baby-bunny eyes and dark secrets needs his help, Thorne offers his protection and is rewarded with the ultimate bait. He may be the only man to distract Rose from her music, but helping him find the traitor will damn more than the club.
It will tear her family apart.

Excerpt #1

“Why are you protecting me?”  I hadn’t moved from the door. Thorne didn’t care. We both knew I didn’t have the courage to bolt. “Am I really in that much danger?”
He studied me. My freckles. The curls of my hair. My frantic breathing that wavered my chest and pushed it high as I savored a greedy breath of his scent. The masculine, leather and wind tease of his body suffocated me in heavy promise. The muscles of his arms tensed around me. What might have terrified me before now thrilled me with a freeing shiver.
No one would ever challenge this man and win.
He pushed away from the door with a scowl. He grabbed the gun from the table and tucked it in the holster around his waist.
“You better hope you’re not in as much trouble as I think you are.”
“What aren’t you telling me?”
He frowned. “Things are going to get real fucking messy, real quick.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Be glad you’re here. Believe it or not, I’m not fucking with you. I’d rather grab you now when I only have to wade through shit instead of saving your ass when we’re knee deep in blood.”
“And you think I’m going to be...what?  Some sort of target?”
Thorne laughed. He grinned, the coldness of his smile binding me with lacey rime against the door.
“Target?  Sweetheart, you’re the bait.”

Excerpt #2

“I might be able to keep you alive long enough to get some use out of you.”
He backed away, and I sucked in a relieved breath. The air caught in my lungs and I lost myself within Thorne’s wild scent.
He was serious. Absolutely serious. Not only did he think I was in danger, he thought he would protect me from it. He offered to save me from the demons lurking in the shadows.
And I believed him.
He trapped me within the heart of Pixie. In the very lair of the beast, tucked inside the darkest corners and under the gaze of the dangerous man balancing loyalty, anarchy, and violence. No one dared challenge Pixie, not even during the worst battles with Exorcist.
His gaze seared through me, trailing heat everywhere it looked. I couldn’t speak. My throat burned over my questions. He liked that. Reducing me to silence. Stealing my song. Proving him right and me wrong and savoring all the confusion in its wake.
The victorious smile suited him. Predatory. An amused crack in the mask of hardened rage. He didn’t offer it with kindness. He transformed a vulnerable quirk into a hostile threat, and, despite the darkness hardening his expression, even the cruelest of smiles only enhanced his features. It was a look that fractured pavement and ricocheted a bullet, and the unwanted heat burning low in my belly had no defense.
My pulse quickened. The halo of understanding cracked, and what should have blessed me in sweet offering instead tormented me with profane truth.
I feared Thorne.
But so did everyone else.
And that made him my greatest ally.

Excerpt #3

Thorne rose before I made it to the door. I reached for the knob. His hand slammed against the frame above my head.
“I didn’t say you could leave.”
No strumming of a guitar, beating of a drum, or raging of a thrash metal line matched the rawness of his voice, a baritone of authority that rumbled over my skin and tempted me into trembles. The banded ink coiling from his middle finger and up his arm streaked his skin with a rage of darkness. As if the thick muscles hadn’t stolen enough of my breath, the threat of the ink, just the power radiating from the black, eroded my resistance. Many men were tattooed, but the designs meant nothing beyond their imagined sentimentalities.
Thorne’s tattoos marked him. Claimed him. Blackened his blood until the branding of Anathema raced through his veins.
I didn’t turn to face him. I doubted he wanted me to move. His heat framed my body, layering me in his presence, his very scent. Leather. Salt. Shadows and pain. I slowed my breathing, as if he sensed the fluttering of air pitched within my throat. I debated staying silent. I braced to call for help.
“You want to go to your little performance?” His words rocked me with each syllable, and I fought the urge to collapse under the weight of his intention. “Then start obeying me.”
“And if I don’t?”
The answer came suddenly. Harshly. The slap to my backside cracked the silence of the room.
I spun around, protecting my bottom more than my crimson face. Thorne captured me, his palms flat against the door on either side of my arms.
“Let’s settle this now.”  His eyes glistened with the cool gray of an aiming pistol. “You have nothing you can offer, nothing I want, and nothing I need. You whine, complain, or bitch, and you’ll get smacked again. And harder. You understand?”

Excerpt #4

I stilled. My chest weighed heavy with silenced songs and muted fear. I stared at Thorne, but I imagined more than just the man before me.
In Thorne, I saw the rushing pavement barreling toward my head.
The trail of smoke coiling from a recoiling gun.
A prince donning leathers and denim instead of a cape, searching for the princess who left her helmet at the patch-over gala.
A monster.
A devil.
A man who made my heart pound in terror and crash against my chest with the secrets I sang only in songs.
It wasn’t a request. He didn’t stand or pull the chair out. He didn’t wave a friendly hand. Didn’t smile.
My refusal tasted so good on my tongue I decided to keep it clenched between my teeth. Better to let Thorne think he intimidated me than reveal the desperation simmering in my silence.
I slid across from him. Close enough to study the worn scratches on his vest, to sense the strength resting within his stretched-taut shirt, and to savor the baritone of his voice harmonizing in my thoughts.
The quiet broke me. I didn’t have the courage to stare him down, but I had more pride than to lower my head and allow his appraisal. The breathy whisper was not the pitch I wanted, but, cast upon his altar, it was fortunate I didn’t simply scream.
“What do you expect from me?”
Thorne’s gaze shifted over my body. “What are you offering?”
I swallowed. “Nothing.”
“What a bargain.”
“You wanted me here. I’m here.”
“Your brothers were very prompt.”
I savored a particularly harsh remark and tucked it deep within my chest. “They kicked my door in, packed my bags, and dragged me here.”
The twitching of his lip was a remnant of a smile that might have once been attractive—before the prison term and the violence, the responsibilities of the club and the retaliation that consumed his every desecrated breath.
“They always were loyal.”
“Right. After today, I’m not sure I would consider them my brothers.”
“We’ll see.”
The weight binding my chest only constricted my words in a hush of panic. I ignored his gaze.
“I’m not a whore,” I said.
Thorne leaned away, resting his arm on the edge of his chair. His chest tensed, and the shirt stretched taut over his strength. The leather cut rode stiff over his muscles.
“I didn’t call you a whore.”
“And forcing my brothers to deliver me to you?  In the middle of the night? Bringing me to your bedroom?”
“You can take your clothes off if you like. It’d make this conversation more interesting.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Then you stay dressed.”  His eyes narrowed, a threat of chilled indifference. “I’m not going to fuck you.”
I flinched at the word, but I leapt at the sincerity in his voice.
“You aren’t?”

Excerpt #5

“You’re lying if you say you want out of this life,” he said.
I wished I hadn’t stared at his lips. Or concentrated on the baritone threat of his words. Or willed the twisted beat of my heart to slam against my chest.
“I’m not part of Anathema,” I said.
“No, but it’s part of you. And all the concerts and college loans and temper tantrums won’t get you out of the club. So what is it?  Why are you so desperate to leave?”
His fingers teased along the too-pink lace of my panties. My cheeks flushed with the same innocence, but I didn’t let him scare me.
“Why are you so desperate to keep me here?”
He liked that challenge. “If you knew what was good for you, you’d go running back to your big brothers.”
“We’re not talking at the moment.”
“Maybe you should be a good little girl and apologize.”
“And if I don’t?”
I stilled as his hand brushed my cheek. But Thorne wasn’t gentle. His calloused touch claimed when it should have caressed, and his forearm flexed with the rigid strength of a man barely containing the demon of lust corrupting his intentions. I gasped as his hand tangled in my wet hair and yanked.
“I don’t play nice, sweetheart.”
For the first time in my life, a raw, untainted, pure heat rushed within me. His hand gripped hard on my hair, and he pulled my head to expose the delicate hollow of my neck. To kiss. To bite. To slit. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. His hands rough, his touch unashamed, and his need completely, absolutely, unequivocally natural.
“I don’t want nice,” I whispered.
He tightened his hold. “What do you want?”
“To feel safe.”
He laughed. His hand jammed against my throat. He squeezed, just enough to frighten, just enough to threaten where I was most vulnerable, just enough to clear my mind of the lingering memories of the last time I was touched.
“Now do you feel safe?”
I’d rather fear one man than live the rest of my life afraid of the world. I shook my head as much as his grip would allow.
“You won’t hurt me.”


Dark Romance

Occasionally, I like to bounce ideas off my husband while I’m writing.  He’s a good sport, and he has a lot of decent suggestions.  Then…I started to write Motorcycle Club romances.

“Hey honey, how many bullets are in a clip?”

“Bub, if you get shot, do you think you could still drive a bike?”

“Sweetie, how long do you think someone could hide a Meth addiction?”

Before my husband had me committed, he finally asked, “What the hell kind of romance are you writing?”

The best kind, I suppose?

I’ve never been a romantic person.  No candlelight dinners or sonnets at my window; I prefer passion and excitement—any way I can get it.  And dark Romances offer that tingly, dangerous excitement.

Passion comes in all forms.  Fear, rage, injustice, desire.  It’s a beautiful, powerful expression, and the best dark romance will recreate that passion in all forms.  From capture fantasies to thrilling romantic suspense to even the darkest erotic romances—anything that challenges a reader to explore a side of the world, their personality, or their sexuality is an amazing expression of the romance genre.

Love is the most powerful motivator and healer.  Even the worst abuses, betrayals, and situations are tempered through the passion between the hero and heroine.  That is why I love the genre.  Call it a silver lining or the reluctant romantic in me, but the darker the romance, the greater the danger, the more powerful the book.

So, what are your favorite dark romances?  What makes them so exciting?

Criminals As Heroes?

Romance seems to be getting darker and darker, and the male protagonists? Harder, arrogant, and more dangerous than ever before. 

And I love it!

Let’s be honest.  I work an eight-to-four job during the day, and park my butt on the couch at night to write.  That doesn’t leave a lot of time to get into trouble…unless you count forgetting to switch over the laundry.  My most recent brush with the law? The time I drove around for a day without the new registration sticker on my license plate. 

Hard. Core.

So, I’m not the wildest girl out there. But when I’m reading?  Give me the 1% bikers and made men, the criminal masterminds and the MMA fighters, and don’t forget the sinister and devilish billionaires with dungeons in their basement and helipads on their roof.

These are men who live outside the norms of society.  The alpha males who not only seize life—they conquer it with a flash of a blade or the curl of their fist.  They’re ruthless and brutal, pulsing with masculine energy, and they want nothing more than to dominate, punish, and reveal their desires to those wide-eyed heroines trapped in their web.

These “heroes” are the men our mothers warned us about, the stereotypes Tumblr posts about, and the featured criminals on the FBI Most Wanted list. 

So why do we love them so much?

I think it’s just a combination of the danger and the unknown.  Growing up, we yearned for Prince Charming to kiss us awake.  Gallant and brave and perfect.

But where’s the passion in perfection?  It’s the flaws, the danger, the darkness that offer the most excitement and danger and hope.  Redeeming the unredeemable, and loving the unlovable.  Whether it’s Christian Grey or Jethro Hawk, the criminals, bad boys, and dangerous men are the ones who make a book fun, thrilling, and super sexy.

Who is your favorite bad boy?

Strong Female Protagonists

A romance just isn’t a romance without a strong heroine.

Sure, we swoon over the bad boys, crush on the charismatic charmers, and love the wounded alphas, but the heroine makes the story worth reading.  The days of the bodice rippers with timid and weak heroines are just about over.

Nowadays, it seems everyone wants the kick-butt heroine: the determined worker, the intelligent rival, and the challenging and passionate partner.  I couldn’t agree more.  The heroine/hero relationship dynamic is only successful if both characters prove their worth to each other.

But… lately, does it seem like the only way a female character can demonstrate her strength is through physical feats?  A woman isn’t strong unless she knows martial arts, can shoot a gun, and charges into the vanguard with the hero at her side.

I like to cheer for that woman, but I’m missing the gentle heroine.  The woman who would never grab a weapon but can lash the hero with her quick wit.  The sweetheart who abhors violence but is desperate and determined to defend her ideas, projects, and body from any who would challenge her.  The woman who has no special training in marital arts but can dominate without intimidating through physical strength. 

A woman can be tough without becoming a clone of the hero, and a heroine can be sympathetic even if she’s unable to defend herself from violence.  Just being defiant, being undefeatable even when all hope is lost and unconquerable even when overpowered, establishes an independence that is stronger than any bullet or blade.

So what do you think?  Do you have a favorite kick-butt heroine?

Romance in Dark Stories

I love a good dark romance.  A novel that’s twisty and achy that leaves me falling for the hero, cheering for the heroine, and experiencing something that might make me a little uncomfortable, confused, and tingly.  Not many genres offer that many emotions in a single read.

But sometimes the story can get too dark, and the themes a bit too uncomfortable. The romance might be overshadowed by crime, violence, abuse, or psychological issues. Authors tread a very thin line between drama and taboo, and the successful ones can balance a tale of horror with redemption.

But does the darkness ever hinder the romance? How far can we teeter over that line before we tumble past taboo and into revulsion? Lots of novels deal with very difficult issues—physical and sexual abuse, addiction, abduction, death, murder. Does the line shift from acceptable to uncomfortable, or do authors keep pushing the boundaries?

For me, I look for that redemption, the penance, the understanding a character has when their actions have turned too dark and their desires shift from selfish pleasure to experiencing a moment with their partner.  No matter how dark the story, a good romance—a love that endures beyond even nightmare—is what shields the characters from their torment and me from those uncomfortable feelings.

Do you have a favorite dark romance? What glimmer of hope did you find in the pages that kept you reading?


Lana Grayson was born to write anything and everything to do with romance. Her favorite genres range from the dark and twisty to the lighthearted and sentimental—as long as the characters are memorable, the story is fun, and the romance is steamy. Lana lives in Pittsburgh with her husband, and, when she isn’t bundled in her writing chair, she’s most likely cheering on the Steelers or searching for the ‘Burgh’s best Italian restaurants.

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