Thursday, May 27, 2010

Guest Blogger - Monica Burns

Lucy and I have been friends for a while now, and we're like soul sisters in so many ways. So when she asked me to come visit (thank you Luce), I wasn't going to refuse to come talk hot Italian guys! I mean Lucy does them so well. And while it's hard to compete with her alpha Italian heroes, it was kind of her to ask me to chat up my Sicari heroes. They're guys who are hot, wear black leather, can trace their lineage back to ancient Rome and their ancestors were soldiers who once defended the Caesars. On top of that, these alpha males have telekinetic powers and they wield swords in a way that would make their ancestors proud.

Seriously, is there anything sexier than a man with a sword? Ok, let’s pull our minds away from that naughty image shall we? I’m talking silver blades that flash in the moonlight before they take out the bad guy as hero protects his heroine. Hmm, well, that’s not always true because my heroines are pretty strong gals in this new paranormal series of mine. In some cases, they can even kick the butt of the heroes. So where did I get the idea for this series? A whole lot of places.

In early 2005, my agent wanted me to write a paranormal. Well, actually what she said was “big, bold, sweeping romance,” but paranormal was part of that conversation. I was stumped. I’d never written a paranormal let alone a series, although I’d written a historical romance where the heroine could talk and see ghosts. I confess I was stumped. Not sure what to write, I sat down at the computer and just wrote. I got five pages into this really hot, steaming love scene when I realize it wasn’t a paranormal. It was historical in an exotic setting, an ancient Rome setting with a Centurion and his wife. Something else that wouldn’t sell. *sigh* So, I kept thinking and thinking and thinking.

Two years later I was still thinking. I’d suggested Atlantis to my agent. Nope that’s been done. Try something else. What about _____ (fill in the blank), nope that’s been done too. I was fresh out of ideas and thinking about quitting the writing biz. Depressed, I ordered a hot fudge sundae (my personal assassin – aka the DH went to Friendly’s for me) and sat down to watch the HBO mini-series Rome.

It was at that point that I realized I’d been fixated on Rome since 2005. Everywhere I looked, I’d been seeing symbols. Symbols that kept pointing back to Rome. There was the mini-series ROME, a commercial I saw with a Roman soldier, the DaVinci Code movie set in Rome and a whole host of other little signs that kept pulling me back to ancient Rome. Now, I believe in signs. I pay attention to them, and when I finally woke up to look at these signs, I realized that they were telling me that I had something already in the oven when it came to a paranormal series, I just hadn’t fleshed it out.

I went back to that hot, steamy love scene, which went something like this…

Rome, Seat of the Roman Empire
310 A.D.
He watched her. From the open doorway of the small spa, he studied the voluptuous curves of her body as she stepped out of the marble bath. A slave tried to cloak her in a pristine white cloth, but with an elegant wave of her hand, she took the towel and sent the servant away. Tendrils of hair the color of a midnight sky escaped the makeshift knot on the top of her head to caress the nape of her neck.

Outside the final heat of the day had eased, leaving Rome cool. But in here, his body burned hotter than Apollo’s chariot blazing its way into the west. Marble cooled his shoulder as he leaned against the hard column of the bath’s entrance. The stone’s chilly smoothness did nothing to quench the fire in his blood or stop him from growing hard at the sight of her.

Arms folded across his chest, he drank in the beauty of her full curves. The olive bronze of her skin shimmered beneath the layer of water skimming down her back before it danced off her softly rounded buttocks. The lushness of her body shot a familiar ache through him. Cassiopeia, daughter of Manius Quinctilia Atellus, Roman senator, was his.

There had always been women in his life, but the idea of leaving a wife behind if he died in battle wasn’t a worry he’d been willing to accept. Of course, that was before she chose him. What had made her choose him over all others? He was a soldier. A plebian by birth. Far removed from the patrician clan she belonged too. It was doubtful he would ever know the reason why, he could only thank the gods that she had chosen him.

His gaze greedily swept over her, his body reacting as it always did whenever he was near her. He suppressed a sudden growl of desire as she bent over to pat her legs dry with the linen towel. The view from this angle was more than enticing—it was erotic. He remained where he was. He had no desire to rush tonight. If he did do so, she’d know he would be gone at dawn.

“Really, husband. Must I beg you to lay with me?”

Cassiopeia turned to face him, her sultry expression of amusement making his erection even harder. He folded his arms across the breastplate of his military uniform and shook his head as he smiled at her teasing.

“Never, mea amor. I simply wanted to watch you, and take pleasure in the knowledge that you’re mine and no other man’s.”

The linen cloth she held slip out of her hand and pooled at her feet. With the grace of a one of the gazelle’s he’d seen in Africa, she walked toward him. The moment she reached him, she pressed her hand into his forearm. The touch sent a pulse of gut-wrenching emotion racing through him straight to his heart. How he loved this woman.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t as hot and steamy as I remember. *sigh* Anyway, I realized I was looking at the birth of a series. I was looking at my back-story. Back-story is all that history a character(s) has before the start of the actual book. And the love scene above (abbreviated and censored *smile*) was part of my back-story for my Sicari and their origins. All the what if questions I’d been asking started giving me answers. What if I had several hot Italian guys in black leather who were descendants of an ancient Roman bloodline, what would they be like? Got my answer to that really quick. HAWT! Alpha! Italian love words in a gal’s ears. Okay, so I had hot, alpha, Italians, where was the paranormal. I reached for the TV remote, damn I left it on my desk. Now I have to get up, if only…BINGO! Paranormal ability—check.

Now my Sicari didn’t come together quite this easily. I worked on my proposal (five chapters) for six months, sent it to my agent, and she said put more romance in it and less world-building. Back to the drawing table. I worked for another five months on developing the five-chapter proposal and sent it back to my agent one more time in 2008. She loved it, and was convinced we could sell it. One by one, publishers passed then it happened. Berkley loved the premise and my writing. They offered a three-book contract, and here I am with book one of the Order of the Sicari about to hit the shelves next week.

It’s such an exciting thing to see a book you’ve put so much into on the shelf, even more so when you know there are at least two more of the books to come from the same series. I’ve a lot more Sicari heroes begging for their stories to be told. As I said, book one hits the shelves next week, and book two in the series hits stores the first week of September. If you’d like to get a feel for the books, check out the first three chapters on my website here.

~ ~ ~ ~

Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns
Book 1 in The Order of the Sicari series
Berkley Sensation
ISBN - 978-0-425-23416-7
List Price: $15.00

Coming June 2010

Archeologist Emma Zale sees the past when she touches ancient relics. It’s how she uncovered evidence of an ancient order of assassins—the Sicari. When a sinfully dark stranger shows up on her Chicago doorstep demanding an ancient artifact she doesn’t have, he drags her into a world where telekinesis and empaths are the norm. Now someone wants her dead, and her only hope of survival is an assassin who’s every bit as dangerous to her body as he is to her heart.

Ares DeLuca comes from an ancient Roman bloodline of telekinetic assassins. A Sicari, he’s honor bound to kill only in the name of justice. But when the woman he loved was murdered, Ares broke the Sicari code and used his sword for revenge. Love cost him dearly once before, and he’s not willing to pay the price again. At least not until hot, sweet, delectable Emma walked into his life. Not only does she hold the key to a valuable Sicari relic, she might just hold the key to his heart.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for giving us a little excerpt of the back story that you had written for our Sicari heroes, Monica! The premise is truly interesting and I hope that your series will go beyond the three books that has been asked by Berkeley.

Wish you the best of luck and hope that your series will prosper!

BTW, the excerpt was titillating! ;)

Monica Burns said...

erahime, I'm glad you enjoyed that small excerpt. I promise I write hotter than that. LOL And I hope the series goes beyond the three books too.

Monica Burns said...

Rats forgot to click the followup button. Blogger needs to learn how to let you subscribe without posting!!! LOL

Lucy Monroe said...

Welcome, dear friend! Thanks so much for sharing some time with us this week as your new book hits the shelves! ~ Smooches!

Amanda said...

great post! I have been seeing a lot about this book and I can't wait to read it!

Monica Burns said...

Finally, MAN! I cannot believe the day I've had!! Too long a story for here. I need another novel!

Thanks for having me Lucy. You know how crazy I am about ya!! Mmmwwwaahh!

Amanda, it's nice to know that the book is on readers radar!

Becke Davis said...

Two of my favorite people in one place - sorry I'm late!!

flchen1 said...

WOW, Monica! I'm so glad to learn about your new series! I've loved many of your earlier books--I'll be looking forward to picking these up, too!

Sherry said...

I've seen this book on other blogs and thought it sounded really good. I can't wait to read this book.

Monica Burns said...

Becke, you're not late! I am. Life is a whirlwind right now, and all I want to do is veg. LOL So glad you came over to say hi.

Fichen1 - It's always a lovely thing to hear a reader say they love my books. I hope you enjoy Assassin's Honor too!

Monica Burns said...

Hi Sherry, Glad you like the sound of the book. I hope you check it out.

Andrea I said...

The book looks interesting. I'll definitely check it out.

s7anna said...

This book is already on my TBB list. It looks awesome!


Valerie said...

Good luck with the series, it sounds really fun. I'm adding it to my TBB list. :)

Monica Burns said...

Ok, I'm SURE I posted responses here, but clearly I've losing it. *banging head on desk*

Andrea, I hope you will definitely check out the Order of the Sicari, and I think the heroes are awesomely hot.

s7anna - So glad to hear it's on your TBB list.

Valerie, Thanks for putting me on your TBB list. I hope readers find it as much fun as I do.