Author Override is the place where authors take the reins and take you on a journey into their world. Some may allow you into their private writing dens. Others may take you along with them on research trips or interviews. Whatever the case may be, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride because here you’ll get an in-depth look into an author’s musings.
An Unlikely Hero
The second book in my Elementals paranormal/urban fantasy romance series, A Taste of Ice, released this week, and I cannot be more thrilled to share Xavier with the world. You see, Xavier is exactly the kind of hero I adore: intelligent, damaged, hot as sin … and he used to be a villain.
Xavier was a challenge to write, but the best kind of challenge. Born into slavery, he was made for breeding, created solely to pass along his magic. Cold, emotionless sex was his life, until he escaped. Now, the last of his kind in modern America, he wants nothing more than to disappear into human society.
Writing this book, I knew I had to make Xavier heroic without turning him alpha–that just isn’t in his nature. He’s simply too troubled and I had to remain true to his character. Over the course of the story, he had to learn to grow, how to channel his aggression and anger and sorrow, and how to heal … on his own, and with the help of Cat, perhaps the only woman able to understand him.
At the same time, I had to help him get over his horrible past but maintain his intense sexuality and insatiable desire. As it says in A Taste of Ice, he doesn’t want to want Cat, but he does. Every intimate scene had to be hot and romantic, but also show that Xavier was climbing out of a pit of angst. (I love me some angsty heroes.)
As for Cat … well, I knew she had to be Xavier’s perfect counterpart. A woman who would see herself in him, know that helping him would help herself, and at the same time challenge him. For this, I didn’t think a kick-ass, smart-mouthed woman would do. A woman like that would put Xavier on the defensive, rather than open him up. So I made Cat lonely and understanding, sensual and willing. Seems too easy, right? It’s not. Because she is unknowingly of the water elemental race who bred Xavier and once kept him captive.
Admittedly, I was a little scared going in to write this book because I knew Xavier and his situation would be polarizing. I struggled a bit with how far to take his angst. Then every time I wrote I would look at the piece of paper taped above my computer, which is a list of “tips” J.R. Ward (one of my favorite authors) put in her Black Dagger Brotherhood Insider’s Guide. The best one? The one that screams to me?
Write Out Loud.
So that’s what I did.
A little excerpt from A Taste of Ice:
Xavier walked several steps below her. He’d almost reached the very bottom, where the sidewalk that led to the square curved around the Margaret Hotel, when she stopped. The brick wall of a Mexican restaurant, painted with a giant green margarita, rose to her right. A cinder block wall for the Margaret’s parking garage on her left. They were closed in, a canyon in shadow. She couldn’t help but feel that if she let him walk away from her now, she’d never see him again.
He stopped, his back to her, the hang of his head heavy.
“Am I imagining this?” she asked.
He looked over his shoulder, giving her his hard, beautiful profile framed by the surfer hair that absorbed the sunlight. “Imagining what?”
“You and I.”
He briefly squeezed his eyes shut. “You’re not imagining it.”
“So is it the fact that I’m only here for a short time?”
“No.” The word came out strangled and bare.
“Do I remind you of another girl? Of her?”
He hissed. Closed his eyes. Slowly shook his head. “No. Not at all.”
She came down another step. No place to go but forward. She had nothing to lose, and the not knowing gnawed at her.
“Then why are you scared of me?”
He sighed. “I’m not scared of you.” Slowly he shuffled around to face her, and with her a step above, they stood eye to eye. “What you do to me . . .” He put a hand to his chest, curled it into a fist.
Such honesty. It was the first time he hadn’t weighed every one of his words before releasing them. The admission came from his heart. The hard lines that divided his golden eyebrows revealed the depth of his desire: it was severe, all encompassing, and it stoked her own.
“What do I do to you?” In the cold, away from the madness of the festival streets, her whisper carried.
He inhaled slowly, as though sucking her words deep inside him. His silver stare shot shivering arrows through her body. “You excite me.”
He was melting her in the middle of winter. “Isn’t . . . isn’t that a good thing?”
“No. Yes. Ah!” He stumbled back, fingers stabbing into his hair, eyes angled to the salted concrete.
Any other woman might have seen him as damaged goods, high maintenance. But Cat was not most women, and walking away would never satisfy.
“Xavier, I know that I don’t know you—”
“No,” he laughed shortly. “You don’t.”
“But I want to. And I think you want to know me, too. You and me, we’re alike. I can feel it, though I can’t explain it. I think we can help each other.”
“A pity fuck?” he snarled. “Is that what you want?”
“No!” She gasped, but the way he said fuck, all gritty and forceful . . . it ratcheted up her lust. Made her thong rub achingly against the damp part of her that screamed for him.
But where had that come from? A pity fuck? Who did he think she was? Dear God, what had happened to him to make him think that’s what she wanted?
“I don’t pity you,” she said. “I don’t want you to pity me. That’s not why I told you about my parents. I like you. I . . . I’m very attracted to you.”
He stood with his hands clenched tightly, his big body coiled up and ready to spring. Imagining the power behind his restrained passion made her body hum. From him she didn’t want a gentle kiss or a slow caress. She wanted the wildness that blazed behind those metallic eyes. And he was refusing to let it go.
They squared off, at a stalemate. “Xavier,” she whispered. “Kiss me.”
His chin lowered and his stare burned into her from behind the blond waves of his hair.
“You want me to kiss you?” His voice rumbled. The start of an avalanche, dangerous and uncontainable.
“God, yes. Do you want me to beg? Get on my knees?”
He lunged for her. Shouted. “You want me to kiss you?”
Here it came. She braced herself for his hands and his mouth, liquid desire surging in to replace every drop of her blood. But he pulled up at the last second and instead loomed over her, his chest pumping so hard she could see it through his coat.
All she said was, “Please.”
He fisted the front of her coat and pushed her back against the brick wall, enough to knock out her breath. She didn’t need oxygen, just him. He brought his mouth down on hers, hard as brick, hot as fire.
There is an untapped world of magic that any man would covet…
Five years ago, Xavier escaped from the Ofarian Plant. Today he calls a Colorado mountain town home. It’s there he buries himself in his work, swearing off magic and relationships—until a woman threatens every promise he’s made to himself.
Cat has always known she is different. Water speaks to her on an uncanny level, and she channels this gift into beautiful painted waterscapes. Now, a gallery is debuting her work in Colorado—and it’ll reveal far more about her than she imagined.
The spark between Cat and Xavier is enough to throw both of them off balance. Every tantalizing moment sends them dangerously close to a rising flood of desire. Dangerous because Xavier comes to suspect that Cat is an Ofarian—his people’s enemy. But they’re both about to discover a far greater, more malicious power at play…
ABOUT HANNA MARTINE
Hanna Martine left a decade of office work in order to show her daughter what it meant to go after one’s dream. She loves bar stools, books, travel and her friends. Though she and her family live outside Chicago, her heart resides in Australia.