Whatcha Reading? is a feature that spotlights currently released titles. Today we have Sara Reinke here to give us a closer look at her novel, Dark Passages.
The Brethren Series, Book 4
by Sara Reinke
Will a sadistic new enemy put vampire Tristan Morin's newfound love for Karen Pierce, a human, to the ultimate test? Book Four in The Brethren Series.
Word Count: approx. 41,588
(Long Novella/Short Novel)
What’s the basic premise of Dark Passages?
Tristan Morin is a vampire on a mission: to not fall in love with Karen Pierce. To do so would prove that humans and Brethren were meant to be physically and emotionally bound to each other -- something he, as a full-blooded Brethren, refuses to believe. It would be so much easier if Karen wasn't beautiful. And if there wasn't something about her that draws him like a moth to a flame, damn near impossible to resist.
Karen has always felt an inexplicable attraction to Tristan. More than just the fact he's strikingly handsome, it's as if being with him is something natural, comfortable and right. But soon a brash choice on his part leaves her heartbroken and confused, and a sadistic new enemy will put their newfound love -- and their lives -- to the ultimate test
What inspired the idea for this book?
Dark Passages is the fourth book in The Brethren Series, and the official title that relaunches the series after a two year hiatus. Tristan and Karen were both introduced in the previous installment, Dark Passion, and even though they played only secondary roles in that story, I found myself intrigued by them. I really wanted to explore their relationship, see what could happen between them. Thus, the idea for Dark Passages was born.
Who is the audience for this story?
I like to tell people if my books were movies, they’d be rated R, lol. There’s definitely adult content in them—strong sexual situations, violence, language. Nothing erotic, but it’s not for a young adult audience, either. And while my primary audience are those readers who have enjoyed The Brethren Series to date, as with most of my books, I try to make each one entertaining in its own right, as a stand-alone for anyone who isn’t familiar with the storyline.
What sets Dark Passages apart from other books in the genre?
In creating the Brethren, I tried to come up with a unique and creative take on the more tried-and-true vampire lore. I think they’re definitely different than anything else out there. They’re not bound by a lot of the familiar tropes. For example, they’re not “undead,” or immortal. They can walk in sunlight without harm. They’re very much intent on remaining sequestered from humans, not prowling among them, preying on them. I modeled the Brethren society on wolf pack cultures, as well as documented examples of polygamous religious sects.
It looks like Dark Passages is part of a series. Can you tell us more about it?
The Brethren are an ancient sect of vampires who have lived in secret within human societies for milennia. Their origins date to medieval France, and they migrated to America just prior to the outbreaks of both the French and American Revolutions. Over the centuries, they have amassed a sizable fortune in the bourbon distilling and Thoroughbred horseracing industries and live on enormous estates tucked among the rolling Bluegrass hills of Kentucky.
Patriarchal in leadership, Brethren clans are dominated by whichever family has the most male heirs. For more than three hundred years, that distinction has belonged to the Noble clan, led by Augustus Noble. But when Augustus's young grandson Brandon decides to defy the ritual of the bloodletting, the traditional first human kill among his kind, and flee the secluded Brethren farms, the empire a power-hungry and driven Augustus has worked so hard to build suddenly teeters on the brink of destruction.
Brandon has always felt like an outsider among the Brethren. Stricken deaf and mute as a child in the aftermath of a brutal assault, he's endured years of torment and abuse at the whim and will of his kin. When a desperate escape attempt reintroduces him to Angelina Jones, a human woman who was his first love, he only becomes more determined to break free from his birthright and forge his own path in life.
He's aided along the way by his twin sister, Tessa, and Rene Morin, Lina's one-time police partner, through whom they discover the Morins, a separate, heretofore hidden family of Brethren who have made their homes in eastern California, near the shores of Lake Tahoe. The Morins are considered outcasts, believed to be dead by the Kentucky-based Brethren, because of their conviction that Brethren were meant to feed from each other, not humans. By doing so, the Morins have been able to develop and hone telekinetic and telepathic skills beyond anything their counterparts in Kentucky have managed.
Dark Thirst is the first in the series, followed by Dark Hunger, Dark Passion and Dark Passages. At my website, readers can check out a free serialized comic short, Dark Interludes, which depicts events which occur just prior to the beginning of Dark Passages.
Who did the cover art for your book?
The amazing and talented Kimberley Killion at Hot Damn Designs!
What is your favorite scene or line from Dark Passages?
There’s a scene in which the story’s villain has called Tristan in his hotel room in Las Vegas, and made it clear that he’s somehow spying on Tristan from outside the building, through the suite’s windows. He calls Tristan over to the windows and when Tristan obeys, he flips the villain the bird. “Can you see me, mother****er?” he asks. That moment is so in Tristan’s nature, I just love it.
If you could be one of the characters in your book, who would it be, and why?
Karen—because she gets to be with Tristan, of course!
Where can readers find your book? Is it available in ebook, print, or both?
Bloodhorse Press: www.bloodhorsepress.com
Coming soon in paperback to Amazon.com for only $5.99!
Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Readers can find out more about The Brethren Series by visiting my website. Plus, subscribe to my enewsletter and receive a FREE ebook copy of Dark Thirst, Book 1 in the series, with a limited-edition cover artwork redesign. There’s no better way to discover the world of the Brethren vampires than with the book that started it all!
How can readers find you online?
Excerpt from Dark Passages
Copyright 2011 Sara Reinke
From the darkness, a muffled digital ring drew Tristan from the depths of sleep.
My phone, he thought dimly as his mind made the groggy, reluctant transition from unconsciousness to alert. Beside him, Karen still slept, her body lying in warm, nearly perfect complement against his own. When he sat up, the sheet drooped away, leaving them both exposed from the waist up, and he blinked stupidly around the dark room, trying to find his cell phone.
I had it in my pocket, he remembered, stumbling out of bed and limping around blindly until he found his pants in a rumpled heap halfway across the room.
He heard Karen murmur softly, incoherently; then the mattress creaked, the covers rustling as she sat up, drawing them modestly to cover her breasts. Squatting, he fished in the pocket of his slacks until he found his phone. When he pulled it out, he saw Mason’s number flashing on the caller I.D.
“Shit,” he said, because it occurred to him that they’d they’d forgotten completely about Mason’s promise to join them once he’d finished talking to Michel on the phone. He glanced over his shoulder at the bedside clock and winced. It was well after midnight; more than three hours had passed since they’d parted company at the restaurant. And we’ve been sleeping this whole time. He’s probably been and left, beating on the door, wondering where the hell we are.
“Shit,” he said again, thumbing the keypad to answer the call. Raking his fingers through his hair to push it out of his eyes, he tried his best to sound dutifully repentant. “I’m really sorry, Mason,” he began.
From the other end of the line, there was nothing but silence. At first. Then, just as he was about to say his uncle’s name again, he heard strange sounds, a dull, flat whap like a side of beef hitting a concrete floor, followed by the distinctive sound of someone groaning—quiet, choked, pained.
“Mason?” Tristan whispered.
“I’m sorry, poppet,” a voice purred in his ear—a voice he recognized from earlier that night. “Mason’s a bit…tied up at the moment.”
Tristan’s brows furrowed, his free hand closing into a sudden, strained fist. All the muscles bridging his shoulders and neck drew instantly taut. “Davenant,” he seethed. “You son of a bitch. Where is he? What have you done with him?”
Jean Luc Davenant chuckled gently into the phone. “I haven’t done anything with him,” he said, with feigned insult in his voice. “It’s what I’ve done to him that should worry you.”
He used to amuse himself by stringing cats upside down from the trees and partially eviscerating them to see how long they could survive, Mason had told Tristan of Jean Luc. And if they’d resort to eating their own guts to do it.
“Where is he?” Tristan snapped. For a moment, Jean Luc did nothing but laugh. Furious now, trembling with rage, Tristan screamed into the phone, “Goddamn you, where’s Mason?”
Jean Luc’s reply came flat, cold from the other end. Tristan blinked in surprise, turning to the nearest floor-to-ceiling window.
“That’s right,” Jean Luc said. “Walk to the window, poppet. Let me see that pretty face of yours.”
Turning again, this time to Karen, Tristan cupped his hand over the phone, pinning her with his stare. Don’t move, he mouthed. Pointing to the windows to redirect her gaze momentarily, he then mouthed, He’s watching us.
Her hand darted to her mouth, her face drained of color, the sheet drooping lankly to expose her left breast as she turned it loose.
“Are you there, poppet?” Jean Luc asked.
“Yeah,” Tristan growled, stepping into his pants, pulling them up around his hips and buttoning the fly. He went to the window, standing bare chested, vulnerable in front of the tempered glass, staring at his reflection as it floated, ghostlike, against the colorful backdrop of the Las Vegas cityscape below. Facing him was the second Trésor resort tower, an exact mirror image of the building in which he stood. Tristan panned his gaze, struggling to find any hint of Jean Luc’s position—a wink of light off the lens of a telescope from a window in the far tower, maybe.
Balling his fist again but leaving his middle finger stiffly extended, he raised his hand, shoving it against the window. “Can you see me, motherfucker?”
Jean Luc laughed. “I want you to listen to me carefully, poppet. You and I are going to play a little game.”
“I don’t like games.”
“That’s a shame, because I do. And I’m afraid you’re in no position to turn me down.”
Another pause; then Tristan heard the muffled whaps again, like someone punching a damp sandbag—only it wasn’t a sandbag and he knew it. Mason was the one suffering what sounded like a brutal beating and he remained semilucid, enough in any case, to cry out softly, croaking in feeble protest.
“Stop it!” Tristan slapped his hand against the glass, feeling the thick, heavy panel shudder beneath his palm. “Leave him alone! I’ll kill you!”
When Jean Luc returned to the phone, he was chuckling again like a macabre sort of Mrs. Butterworth, filled with grim good humor.
“I’ll kill you,” Tristan promised. “Do you hear me, you sick bastard?”
“Are you ready to play?” Jean Luc asked, unfazed.
“Go fuck yourself.”
This time, there were no sounds of landing blows, but from the other end of the line, Mason began to shriek, his voice ripping up shrill, agonized octaves loud enough for Karen to hear, even from the bed. Tristan could see her reflected horror through the glass, heard the sharp, aghast intake of her breath.
“Stop,” Tristan cried. “Stop it, stop it, you son of a bitch! Mason!”
The screams cut abruptly short, and somehow that silence was even more terrifying to Tristan. He heard a soft rustle, then an audible click as Jean Luc picked up the phone.
“Did you catch all of that, poppet? I can do some more if you need me to.”
“You touch him again, and I’ll rip your arms out of your goddamn sockets, cram them hand-first up your—”
“Are you ready to play?” Jean Luc interjected mildly.
Tristan blinked at Karen, then turned around again. “Yes,” he whispered, nodding once. “Whatever you want. Just leave Mason alone. All right?” His voice grew strained, and he closed his eyes. “Please. Don’t hurt him anymore.”
“Splendid,” Jean Luc purred, the tone of his voice lending itself to a malicious sort of smile. “Listen closely, then, because I’ll only do this once. You get it right—you be a good little poppet and do exactly as you’re told—and your dear uncle walks out of here with little more than a limp to show for his trouble. Get it wrong—if you even think about fucking with me—then I will remove each of his vital organs forcibly and in turn, using only the crudest of surgical methods and foregoing any benefit of anesthesia. Do you understand?”
Through the glass, Tristan looked at Karen, frozen with fear on the bed. She may not have been privy to the entire conversation, but she’d gleaned enough—primarily from his own reactions—to get the gist of it.
“Yes,” he said, because the son of a bitch hadn’t mentioned her, and Tristan meant to keep it that way; keep Davenant distracted from her for however long it took to make sure she remained safe, out of harm’s way. “Tell me what to do.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Definitely an author to watch." That's how Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine describes Sara Reinke. New York Times best-selling author Karen Robards calls Reinke "a new paranormal star" and Love Romances and More hails her as "a fresh new voice to a genre that has grown stale." Her Brethren Series has been hailed as "a vampire mythos as dark and disturbing as it is unique." (One Good Book Deserves Another). Find out more at www.sarareinke.com.