Living Nightmare

Shannon K. Butcher
Living Nightmare
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Release Date
November 2010
Book 4 of The Sentinel Wars
Paranormal Romance

For nine years, the Sentinel Nika has had one goal-to save her younger sister from the Synestryn who hold her captive. Now, the psychic bond Nika forged with her sibling on that terrible night is fading, and time is running out. But the one man who can unlock the power inside her may be the greatest danger to her.

Book Review by Belinda Boring (author,reviewer)
Dec 09, 2010   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
271 people found the following review helpful
I remember when I first found out about this series I was so excited because it contained one of my favorite things when it comes to romance - the alpha male. The author does such a wonderful job in creating stories about these strong and powerful warriors and pairing them with women who are by far their equals. When I saw LIVING NIGHTMARE was due to be released, it was a no-brainer that I would buy it the second it hit the shelves and devour it. I'm glad I did because not only was this edition to the series exciting and filled with action but it was the best by far when it came to the Alpha male and his leading lady - Madoc and Nika.

There are so many variations out there where the male struggles with the battle within himself and needs to find the one female in the entire world that can quiet that torment and restore peace to his soul. I love the author's version where she gives her warriors life marks in the form of trees on their chests that over time begin to lose its leaves. With the falling of that final leaf, the warrior is lost and his life is forfeit. The only way to save him, the only way to restore his life mark is finding the woman who helps make him whole. As a hopeless romantic who thrives on those kinds of sentiments, this book had me in total heaven and there were many points throughout the story where the only sounds you could hear were of me sighing heavily (in a happy way).

I loved the two main characters of the story, Madoc and Nika, and it was incredibly easy to feel a connection with them and the struggles they were going through. Madoc simply blew my mind with just how far gone he was and straight away, I wanted to reach out and find a way to help restore his gentler side. He was a tortured soul who had come to the point where he just didn't care and knew sooner or later, he would cross a line and hurt those around him. The author wrote him in such a way that my first thought was there wasn't enough good qualities about him to redeem him, but occasionally I would see a small glimpse of decency and the more exposure he had with Nika, the more she was able to influence him. The more time they spent together, the easier it was to see that Madoc was in fact an incredibly passionate man who still had a lot to offer the world. When it came to Nika, he never thought he was good enough for her and worried that if he made any room in his life for her, he would ultimately destroy her.

As Madoc developed throughout the story, I loved seeing him rein in all his aggression and instead use it to protect and love Nika. For me, Madoc is my favorite kind of hero because despite the odds, he was able to rise above everything that would destroy him and became an amazing character. He was still a little rough around the edges but that's who he was and I couldn't stop smiling.

It's so important when creating characters that play love interests, to make sure that regardless of how different they are, they balance and complement each other. Nothing makes me sadder than reading a book where there is a very obvious inequality to the couple and I'm left wondering why the author thought they should ever be together. Madoc was an extremely strong character and so it was important that Nika would have her own way to match that and she did it perfectly. Nika had gone through so much in her life and overcame the torture of being mentally connected with the monsters of the story.

Through the help of Madoc and loved ones, she had slowly regained her mind and transformed from a weak, frail woman to one who was able to speak her mind and go after what she wanted. I loved that she set her mind and heart on Madoc and regardless of how gruff he could be, she showed courage and great patience in letting him know that she loved him and that she would do everything she could to protect and save him. For all the stubbornness of Madoc, Nika brought her own to the relationship and all throughout the book I cheered for her. Where past experiences would have broken anyone else, they only made her stronger and more capable to defend herself. I loved that she didn't allow herself to be weak and that she fought for everything that was important to her.

One thing I found interesting as I read this book, and also from the other books in the series, is the author doesn't solely stick to the main characters' story but weaves in other subplots. You're able to gain insight into the other characters within the Sentinel world and there were quite a few side stories in LIVING NIGHTMARE that I wish more time was given to explore them because they had me incredibly curious to see what would happen next. A few times, I felt there was a little too much going on and I would definitely suggest readers start at the beginning of the series and read the books in order because without prior knowledge of the characters, it would get a little confusing. But even after saying that, the author writes her characters in a way where a connection is easy to make and you're pulled into the story.

Reading this book was a great experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I had no trouble being able to imagine what was happening and my emotions were almost immediately involved. For those who love their romance with a tortured bad boy, this is definitely the book and series to read. I can't wait for the next installment. Happy reading!
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BOOK INTERVIEW on December 2010
Q: For those new to The Sentinel Wars series, how would you describe your books and the importance of each Sentinel finding the woman who can save his soul?

I usually describe the books as being filled with hot, tattooed, sword-wielding warriors and the women who make their lives interesting. Basically, the concept for the Theronai—one of the three Sentinel races—is that the men house huge reserves of power that grow over time because they can't access it—they can only store it. After a few centuries, that power grows to the point that it begins to kill them. If they don't find a woman who can wield the magic inside of them and funnel some of that energy away, they are destined to either take their own lives or become like the monsters they fight.

Q: Where did you find the inspiration behind the series?

I'm a big ol' nerd, so years of tabletop role-playing games and bad sci-fi movies have given me tons of inspiration. I also find that music with a heavy emotional component does a lot to fuel my creativity.

Q: Please tell us about LIVING NIGHTMARE.

LIVING NIGHTMARE is a story I've been waiting a long time to tell. Rough, foul-mouthed Madoc has been trying to protect Nika from himself since the moment he met her. He wants her, but knows that she's too fragile and innocent, and the two of them can never be together. Nika believes differently, and is determined to make him see the truth. She's also determined to rescue her baby sister from the hands of the evil Synestryn demons, and she's going to see to it that Madoc helps her—whether or not he wants to.

Q: Madoc and Nika are the central couple of the story. When you created the characters, what made you decide that they would be perfect for one another?

I loved the dichotomy of their characters. Rough vs. fragile, harsh vs. gentle, stone-cold realist vs. tenuous hold on reality. The idea of putting them together was solidified in my head from the very moment they were on the page together for the first time in book two, FINDING THE LOST. They needed each other so desperately, and I knew that no one else in the Sentinels world would ever work for either of them as well as they would work for each other.

Q: What can you tell us about Madoc and Nika that would make us understand them better and sympathize with them?

Madoc's soul is nearly dead and he knows that if he doesn't go to his death while he still retains some small sliver of humanity, he'll end up hurting the people he cares about. Nika was attacked when she was a child and nearly killed. The psychic powers that allowed her to retain a mental connection with her baby sister also forged a connection with the demons. She's been fighting their hold on her mind for years, and because of that, everyone believes she's crazy.

Q: There were so many things about Nika and Madoc that make them unique, both having their own challenges to overcome. How did you develop their personalities and was there anything you did to help get you inside their heads?

I guess I developed their personalities the way I do all the other characters in my books. I have a series of tags and traits I assign to them, as well as a past (usually filled with plenty of ugly things), goals and secrets they don't want anyone to know. I did this long before I started writing the first book of the series. I find that makes it easier to develop character-driven stories, which I prefer.

Q: You have a lot of other storylines woven throughout the book. What made you decide to include them instead of the story solely belonging to Madoc and Nika?

I designed this world to be a big place with a lot going on. While I always focus on one couple per book, I also like to keep the other storylines going by revisiting what those characters are doing. For me, it's all about the characters. If they're busy doing something interesting, then they'll make the cut and get in the story. If not, then they don't. Also, I have an overarching story that's bigger than any one of the books. In order to tell that story, I have to keep the threads weaving through multiple books.

Q: If you could share anything with the reader any kind of insight about the story, what would it be?

While I try to make each book a stand-alone unit that can be read and enjoyed without the others, I feel that this series—unlike my suspense series—is something that will be more fun and have deeper meaning for the reader if the books are read in order.

Q: What does the future look like for your Sentinels?

Heartbreaking, bleak and beautiful. What? You really thought I'd spoil the surprise? :)

Q: What's in the works for you in 2011?

In February 2011, I have a Sentinels novella that comes out in the anthology ON THE HUNT. It's Neal's story, which takes place between books three and four, but is designed to be read by itself, out of order. There are also stories from Gena Showalter, Jessica Anderson and Deidre Knight in that book. It's so cool to be included with these fabulous ladies!

In March 2011, the first book in my new suspense series comes out. LIVING ON THE EDGE is the first book of the Edge series, which is centered around a mercenary company run by a woman.

In August 2011, the fifth book of the Sentinel Wars comes out. BLOODHUNT is the first book that focuses on the Sanguinar, and features Logan's story. It was so neat to get to play in a different part of the Sentinels' world.

In November 2011, the second book of the Edge series, RAZOR'S EDGE, comes out. I hope you enjoy the stories!

Shannon Butcher is giving away a print copy of the following books (signed and personalized!):

The first three books in the series (Burning Alive, Finding the Lost and Running Scared) as a set
Love You to Death
No Escape

All prizes include a handmade glass bookmark that Shannon personally made in her glass kiln!

Mechanics of the contest:

You can do either or both of the following to enter the drawing:

1. Post a comment or question to Shannon in the comment box below (2 chances to win) from now to December 31, 2010; AND/OR
2. Check out our contest page for the following books to enter your email address (1 chance each to win)

BURNING ALIVE – from December 6 to 8, 2010
NO ESCAPE – from December 13 to 15, 2010
LOVE YOU TO DEATH – from December 21 to 23, 2010

The winners will be announced in the comment box below on January 2.
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