- Hartwood Publishing
- Release Date
- January 2014
Jonathan Shea is a software engineer. When pressed, he admits to being a closet witch, but he's always been a shade ambivalent about his magic—until a dragon shows up in Inverness, and then all bets are off. Along with others in his coven, Jonathan is both charmed and captivated by the creature fresh out of legend.
Britta is a dragon shifter. Dragged from the Middle Ages by the Celtic gods, she and her dragon prepare for a battle to save Earth. The first human she lays eyes on in modern times is Jonathan. There's something about him. She can't quite pinpoint it, but he has way more magic than any witch she's ever come across before. Aside from magic, Jonathan is drop dead gorgeous. For the first time ever, Britta questions the wisdom of remaining a maid.
Surrounded by dragon shifters, Celtic gods, Selkies, and a heaping portion of magic, Jonathan comes into his own fast. Good thing, too, because fell creatures have targeted him, Britta, and the dragons. In the midst of chaos, he finds passion so poignant and love so heartbreakingly tender, it will change his life forever.
BOOK INTERVIEW on February 2014
Hi Ann, welcome once again to The Romance Reviews! Can't wait to hear all about DRAGON MAID!
Q: DRAGON MAID is the second in the Dragon Lore series. When you started this series, did you already have a clear vision of the books and characters you wanted to write about? Or did that evolve over time?
I had a clear vision of the key plot lines for the series, of Kheladin waking in his cave and his bonded mage, Lachlan. I also envisioned Maggie, Lachlan's mate. (Read more about To Love a Highland Dragon, Dragon Lore #1). I knew the series would have three books and roughly what would be in each, but that's where the advance planning ground to a halt. When I sat down to begin book two, I'd planned another male dragon shifter, but Britta popped up, along with her dragon, Tarika. They were pretty insistent, so I just ran with it. While I know how the series will end, I'm still fleshing out the details for that last book.
Q: How do you keep track of series details?
My publisher has a handy document called a series bible. In addition to that, I keep story boards where I note appearance, personality, and linguistic details for my characters as well as key aspects of their world. It also helps to write the books close together so I don't lose track of things.
Q: What's the inspiration for DRAGON MAID? Did this story flow from the events of the first book?
I was sitting staring at my computer screen considering which point in time would be best to begin DRAGON MAID and Britta popped up. She wanted to start the book where she showed up in Kheladin's cave beneath Inverness, but then Lachlan materialized and pointed out if we did that readers who hadn't read the first book would be truly lost. The two of them duked it out and Lachlan won. *Grin.* He's a pushy alpha, that man. Britta accused him of wanting more air time in "her" book.
To answer your question more directly, DRAGON MAID flows from the events in To Love a Highland Dragon, but it reads as a standalone, too. The Celtic gods strongly suggest Britta and Tarika make a trip to modern time to help Lachlan and Kheladin. The Morrigan is still on the loose, wreaking havoc, along with two dragon shifters she's coopted to do her bidding. The urgency of their situation escalates once the dragons are shanghaied into one of many possible futures.
Q: Britta sounds like an interesting heroine. As a dragon shifter, how does she view humans? What is it about Jonathan that draws her?
Britta has spent her life focused on developing her magic. She doesn't pay much attention to humans at all. Until Jonathan that is. She's not quite sure what draws her to him. Initially, she's as haughty and patronizing toward him as she'd be to most any human, with or without magic. Over time, as she gets to know him and recognizes his courage—and his potent magic—she fights burgeoning attraction. By the time she discovers his secret, she's already half in love.
Q: Please tell us about Jonathan Shea. What made him a closet witch? What part did his profession as a software engineer play in the story?
Jonathan has always been ambivalent about his magic because his father was so odd. There were rumours about his mother, but they were so fantastic, he never took them seriously. While he couldn't sidestep his magic entirely because it was such a big part of him, he closeted that side of himself and only let it run free at Coven gatherings. The rest of the time, he pretends to be "normal." He uses his software engineering background to work as a game developer and writes the code for war games for some of the large corporations like X-box. Turns out his training in war strategy comes in quite handy as the book progresses.
Q: Can't wait to see how that plays out! What was their first meeting like?
See for yourself! Enjoy this excerpt:
"Hmph." Tarika's gaze swept the cave. "Who are all these people?"
"Witches," Kheladin replied. "They like me."
"Pfft. Ye are so full of yourself." More fire, mixed with steam. "Let us take our human forms. I would lay eyes on Lachlan again."
"He is not here."
"What?" she screeched in a shower of sparks. "Ye broke the bond?"
"Aye and resurrected it in a superior form that allows us each the pleasure of our own bodies." Kheladin blew out a breath, aware the witches were fascinated and listening intently. "'Tis a verra long tale. I would start it at the beginning."
"Do ye have food here?"
"Nay. For sustenance, ye must leave my cave in human form. This era doesna recognize those like us."
"Fine." The air turned molten gold, glistening and shimmery. When it cleared, Britta stood before him, naked as the day she was born. Red-blonde hair shrouded her nearly to her waist. Golden eyes glinted a challenge. "Which direction might I find food? Tarika and I searched long for you, and I am famished."
Jonathan stepped forward, eyes averted, color high on his cheeks. "Hello. I'm Jonathan." He bowed slightly. "I'd be glad to help any way I can. If you're interested, I brought a couple of sandwiches with me, and I'm sure some of the other witches didn't come empty-handed. We planned to be here for a while. Until Kheladin kicked us out, actually."
Britta eyed him speculatively. "A witch who knows his place. I prefer them that way. My name is Britta Kilkerran, Countess of Cumbria. Lead out." She made shooing motions with both hands. "If ye have mead to go with the food, I would take drink as well."
Q: What was the most romantic thing Jonathan did for Britta?
Here's an excerpt:
"Can we travel from here?" she asked.
He'd been so taken by her beauty, he hadn't noticed her voice before. It was rich and low with musical under notes. Jonathan felt her spell take shape. People were passing them, so he answered her telepathically. "No. We can't just disappear. Come on. We'll go back to the park where we started." He wanted to take her arm, but his hands were full of packages.
She looked about. "Which way? I canna remember."
Illuminated by a nearby streetlight, her face was so beautiful and so vulnerable, it touched his heart—and drew him like a magnet. He stopped thinking, bent his head, closed his mouth over hers, and waited for the fireworks.
She didn't slap him, though. Didn't even draw away. Instead, she opened her mouth to his kiss and, unbelievably, kissed him back. Her mouth tasted sweet like the Irish whiskey. Her tongue sparred with his. Jonathan wanted to drop the shopping bags crushed between them so he could wrap his arms around her and feel her body pressed against his. His breathing quickened; so did hers.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most romantic scene in the book?
I think the most romantic scene is toward the end where Jonathan and Britta have fully committed to one another They're making love, but taking their time exploring one another as the wonder of their love sinks in.
Q: What was your favourite scene? Why?
"Open your mind. Add your power to mine," Tarika commanded.
It took a bit of maneuvering, but Jonathan experimented with frequencies until he felt the dragon slam into him. The linkage was a two-way street; memories from thousands of years boiled furiously in Tarika's head. So did her hatred for the Morrigan. Her current strategy was as clear as if she'd told him with words. Tarika wanted to open a time portal, sequester them inside, and bar the Morrigan. From there they could escape to anywhere.
Sounds at least possible. "We need to divert her."
Dragon laughter nearly deafened his already-battered hearing. "How?"
A particularly rocky aerial manoeuver unseated him, and he bounced a half a meter off her back. "Ooph." Jonathan landed hard and gripped Tarika's neck spines tighter, determined not to create more problems for them. His next thought nearly flattened him. It was so obvious, he felt like an idiot for not realizing it sooner. By the goddess! This is just like the games I design.
But they're not real.
So? They depend on strategy. Besides, it's not as if there are dozens of choices here. He turned his attention to Tarika. "Can the Morrigan hear us if we use telepathic speech?"
"I doona believe so."
Tarika coiled magic more tightly around them and burrowed even deeper into his head. Jonathan's muscles tensed. He expected the dragon to argue, so he couched his words as a statement, not open for discussion. "I'm going to sever my link with you, draw magic, and transport myself back to Inverness. If this works, the Morrigan will see me as easy pickings and follow me, figuring she can always track you down later."
Tarika spewed fire at the Morrigan and banked hard right. "Hmm… Might work if we—"
"I doona want you to sacrifice yourself." Britta's voice rose over Tarika's.
"Be reasonable," Jonathan retorted, touched she cared what happened to him yet knowing now wasn't the time for that discussion. "So long as we remain together, we'll just keep taking pot shots at the Morrigan until one of us falls out of the sky, exhausted. Even if that abomination of a Celtic god doesn't follow me, I can find my way back to Kheladin's and raise the alarm."
Power jolted Tarika; she screamed her outrage—and her pain. Jonathan didn't wait for further dialogue. He slammed his mind shut, drenched himself in power, and imagined the hawthorn grove in the park. The sensation of falling created vertigo. He'd never engaged traveling magic while airborne.
Holy shit! What if it doesn't work?
It has to.
As a laggardly second thought, he diverted some of the magic surrounding him into as impenetrable a ward as he could create. The darkness around him grayed at the edges. Soon, he'd either come out where he'd planned or come face-to-face with an ugly surprise he could only guess at.
"No more desultory playing at witchcraft," he muttered. "If the goddess gets me out of this one, I swear I'll read every fucking grimoire I can get my hands on."
Q: What issue did you encounter in writing this book that gave you a hard time? How did you resolve it?
Only two issues, really. The first was where to begin the book and the second was switching gears to accommodate a female dragon shifter. Once I accepted Britta—because neither she nor Tarkia were budging—Jonathan showed up and I knew I'd made the correct decision.
Q: Which character in the series (so far) was the hardest to write? Why?
The toughest character continues to be Mary Elma, Maggie's uber-powerful witch grandmother. She has to retain her abrasive edges, but still have enough warmth readers don't tune her out entirely. She gets taken down a peg or two in this book, but survives admirably. Sometimes characters surprise me and Mary Elma found more flexibility than I suspected she would.
Q: Which usually came first for you? Plot or character? Please give us an example.
Oh my but I wish I could answer that. It's different every single time. Sometimes plot elements, or worlds since I write urban fantasy and paranormal romance, come to me first and the characters come later. A bit more frequently, the characters show up first and tell me what sort of world they come from. It's a living process, not something I've developed much control over. When my writing is going well, I'm almost like a medium where the words flow through me. It's a very odd experience, but an amazing one.
Q: What's up next in the series? Please give us a sneak peek.
The final book may not introduce any new characters. There are enough already in place to finish the series. That being said, there are new romantic possibilities among the existing cast. How's that for a teaser? Because I haven't begun writing this one yet, so far it's only a series of ideas floating around in my head. They'll get to a point where my brain feels crowded and then I'll start writing.
Q: LOL Okay, we'll wait. In the meantime, what's up next for you?
I'm glad you asked. I have two books releasing soon. Earth's Blood, Book 2 in the Earth Reclaimed Series releases 2/7 from Musa. It's a full length urban fantasy novel. Here's its blurb:
In a post-apocalyptic world where most people have been slaughtered, the Celtic gods and a few humans with magic are all that stands between survival and Earth falling into alien hands. The combination of dark sorcery leveraged by the enemy is daunting. Destruction is all but certain if the small enclaves of humans who are left can't get past their distrust of the Celts.
Captured by the enemy, Aislinn Lenear wonders if she'll ever see her bond wolf or Fionn, a Celtic god, again. She's had nothing but her wits to rely on for years. They haven't failed her yet, but escape from her current predicament seems remote.
An enticing blend of urban fantasy and romance, this second volume of the Earth Reclaimed Series provides fertile ground for Aislinn and Fionn's relationship to deepen. Headstrong and independent, the pair runs up against each other's demands time and time again. Fireworks spark. In the end, they learn to savor every moment in a bittersweet world where each day may well be the last.
And then on March 6th, I have a brand new series releasing from Taliesin. Witch's Bounty is the first book in The Witch Chronicles. It's a dark paranormal romance. Here's its blurb:
One of only three remaining demon-stalking witches, Colleen is almost the last of her kind. Along with her familiar, a changeling spirit, she was hoping for a few months of quiet, running a small magicians' supply store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peace isn't in the cards, though. Demons are raising hell in Seattle. She's on her way out the door to help, when a Sidhe shows up and demands she accompany him to northern England to quell a demon uprising there.
Duncan swallowed uneasy feelings when the Sidhe foisted demon containment off onto the witches two hundred years before. He's annoyed when the Sidhe leader sends him to haul a witch across the Atlantic to bail them out. Until he sees the witch in question. Colleen is unquestionably the most beautiful woman he's ever laid eyes on. Strong and gutsy, too. When she refuses to come with him, because she's needed in Seattle, he immediately offers his assistance. Anything to remain in her presence.
Colleen can't believe how gorgeous the Sidhe is, but she doesn't have time for such nonsense. She, Jenna, and Roz are the only hedge Earth has against being overrun by Hell's minions. Even with help from a powerful magic wielder like Duncan, the odds aren't good and the demons know it. Sensing victory is within their grasp, they close in for the kill.
Wow, you've been a busy bee! Thanks a lot, Ann, for joining us and giving us a peek into your latest book.
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She's published 19 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.
Ann is giving away a $15 Amazon GC. Thanks, Ann!
TRR is also sponsoring a prize! For each comment on the following interviews,
Rebel Love by Scarlett Scott
Dragon Maid by Ann Gimpel
Tearing Down Walls by Deanndra Hall
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THE TROUBLE WITH HONOR by Julia London (paperback or ebook). Read the review here!. International winner!
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