The Valkyrie’s Guardian by Moriah Densley
Publisher: Crimson Romance / F+W Media
Number of pages: 300
Word Count: 91K
Book Description:You might call them superheroes. “Extra-sentients” are one in 4.5 million with the extraordinary ability to unlock the full potential of the mind.
Cassiopeia Noyon is descended from the most powerful known extra-sentient, but she’s a dud – no impressive talents except a healing ability which lands her in trouble. She’s all wrong for Jack MacGunn, her dazzling immortal berserker bodyguard.
Cassiopeia Noyon has a medical degree at age twenty-one, which makes her a total loser … for an extra-sentient with merely superhuman strength and healing powers but not much else. Cassie may not even be immortal, which is a downer since the man she’s adored since age six, is.
Jack MacGunn is King of the Bad Pick-Up Line. A true blue kilt-wearing, pipe-playing Scot descended from a long line of berserker warriors; if he’s awake, he’s either hungry or itching for a fight. Lately Jack feels lost. His career as a Navy SEAL detachment agent is on a slow train to nowhere. He suspects it has something to do with his out-of-control superhuman rages.
The one task Jack has never failed at is guarding Cassie from their enemies, but now he fears he can’t protect her from himself. Even if they could go a single day without fighting, Jack knows he’ll never be good enough for her. The boss’ granddaughter is off-limits anyway.
A chance encounter with a villain long assumed dead sends Jack and Cassie on a race to save the children secreted away at Network One, the academy for genius extra-sentients. Jack discovers a new side of Cassie when in the heat of combat she invokes unheard-of powers. Has Jack finally met his match?
Read Chapter 1 free: http://moriahdensley.com/chapter-1-the-valkries-guardian/
Hi, Alisia. Thanks for hosting me today on Books and Other Spells. I see a lot of fantastic authors here – this is where it’s at!
1) Where did you get the idea for the novel?
The idea for The Valkyrie’s Guardian came to me while I was waterskiing at Lake Powell, my family’s perennial vacation spot in Arizona. The only thing I do impressively on a ski is wipe out, but I got a kick out of watching the pros. I saw some crazy stunts, and it made me think “What if?” I’d already been researching Celtic and Norse mythology, so it occurred to me a berserker would have a ball with water sports. The Barney Fife-inspired park ranger required little embellishment.
2) Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
*sigh* I’m so bad at inventing titles. This one is mine, and it’s so-so, but it took three tries to come up with it. Out of the five novels I’ve written, the worst working title so far was “Taming Bougainvillea.” (Yes, laugh away.) Fortunately, the book was better than the title – it finaled in the RWA Golden Heart contest this year and I sold it to a publisher. I’m jealous of authors who come up with catchy, marketing-savvy two-word titles. I rely on beta readers for that.
3) Which came first, the title or the novel?
Definitely the novel. I called it “Paranormal 2” even after the second or third draft.
4) Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Most exciting [nerve-wracking] moment? The seven seconds it took to open and load the email titled “Your cover is ready! Take a look.”
5) What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love’s “The Curse” from the Belador series.
6) What was your first book that you ever wrote (very first one you wrote, not published)?
A 140-k word behemoth – a historical - which thankfully never saw the light of day. I tried writing a Jane Austen-esque soap opera, and it was as bad as it sounds. I scrapped it and rewrote it – twice - and the third version is my Golden Heart story. I’m very fortunate to have superb critique group partners. They make me look good.
7) What is your writing process?
Pantser with an “artistic temperament” here. I get obsessed with an idea and crank out a first draft in a few weeks … and burn out. Reading a pile of books inspires me; I’ll spend the next three months editing every word a dozen times over, then every flaw seems insurmountable and I hate it. A few months later I edit again, and that’s when my beta readers talk me down from the ledge. I edit some more, then submit, then eat boatloads of chocolate and watch Jude Law movies until the next idea strikes. I once did this five times in one year. The keys fell off my laptop.
8) Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Charlotte Brontë was a mad genius. I also love Orson Scott Card, Diana Gabaldon, Meredith Duran, and Linda Howard. Nods to Judith Martin, a.k.a. “Miss Manners,” whom I consider my muse.
9) At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
Being published by a “digital-first” company, I’ve never done a book signing. Couldn’t guarantee I wouldn’t hide under the table if I did one anyway - I’m shy at social functions. Meeting readers does sound like fun, though. Send me a note, friends, and I’ll write back!
10) What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a soccer mom and neighborhood music teacher, so the CCW (concealed weapons permit) in my wallet usually surprises people - I love ordnance and marksmanship. I got a rifle for my 16th birthday. I can shoot 3-inch groupings at 25 feet. I own a thigh holster. Showing my redneck roots, I guess.
11) How do you react to a bad review?
I got my first bad review just last week, and it was sooo bad. My face burned. I stared at the screen in shock. I did NOT eat an entire bag of Reese’s. *ahem* Then I showed the other writers in my online group, who dutifully agreed the reviewer was PMSing and probably half-illiterate. Once I quit inventing snarky comebacks I wouldn’t dream of actually posting, I should probably take another look and try to glean points which might hold some truth and use it to improve my next book.
12) How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I went out to lunch with my friend Pauline and chattered incessantly about my book until her eyes glazed over. Then we ordered dessert and gossiped the rest of the time. It was lovely.
Without much effort she summoned static in the air. It gathered in her hands as she wrestled to equalize the tension between ground and sky. The shift in atmospheric energy sucked down a dull pressure she could feel in her skull and chest. The charge crackling in her fingers burned ice hot.
Cassie walked calmly to the men locked in struggle and set a hand on each of their shoulders, transferring a mild dose of purple electricity into their bodies. They jerked back and screamed. She exploited their surprise and shoved them both apart, hurling them several feet.
She heaved slow breaths to calm her anger, resisting the temptation to fry their idiotic brains. They rolled slowly and strained to sit up, mist steaming out of their collars.
“Jack. Ben. That’s enough. Look around, you morons. Is this what you want your family to see?” They glanced around and saw the somber faces watching from inside the great house, all the small ones who had just been taught a bad lesson.
“Bloody hell. What is she?” Ben muttered, wiping his split lip.
“The voice of reason.” She stood between them. “You two have to work together while we’re here. This is your clan, and you are the leaders. Now start acting like it.”
She waited while they sucked in deep breaths, trying to calm themselves from the rage.
“Do you think your family should see you shake hands, or did you mean to start a war today?”
Ben breathed an oath in Gaelic under his breath, and Jack made something pop in Ben’s hand as he squeezed. She closed her eyes in forbearance.
* * *
At that moment, three pagers went off. Jack, Chief, and Pops all retrieved their phones and checked the display with identical motions.
Jack said, “CO called in the whole team. It’s probably nothing, but we have to go.”
“Run like the wind,” Cassie replied flatly, as though she had no curiosity at all about his urgent summons to headquarters. “Nice meeting you, Chief, and ah, Papa Smurf. I’ll find my own way to the barracks.”
Damned if she didn’t show them her back and strut away like a tabby cat. Of course he stared, mesmerized by the dual motion of her hips and swaying hair. A draft of her honey-anise scent lingered. Catnip. “Eighteen-hundred hours, baby,” he called, a last ditch effort to claim her with the officers observing.
She spun 180 degrees and walked backward. “Sorry, I have to polish my pistol.” Chief and Pops sucked in a breath at her suggestive tone—with that purring sound in her voice, anything sounded like innuendo.
Jack couldn’t help it. He winked. “Sure thing, darlin.’ After you polish mine.”
* * *
Cassie could always count on Jack for two things: he would come from near or far at the sound of food cooking in the morning, and he went ga-ga over women in workout clothes. Forget lingerie–Jack wanted yoga pants and a racerback top. This morning Cassie brought out the heavy artillery with both his vices: smoothies and spandex.
Revenge, torture–either would do.
Ice clunked around in the blender as she added peach slices, raw almonds, yogurt, and lemon rind. Perfect timing—Jack jogged down the stairs and nearly tripped over Cat, dropped his duffel, and made a beeline straight for the kitchen. He rocked back on his heels, apparently expecting Anne the housekeeper, not Cassie. She made a point of opening the fridge as he entered, as though she hadn’t seen him.
When she turned around, his eyes widened and he visibly swallowed hard.
Unapologetically his eyes roamed from her long swinging pony tail down over her shoulders exposed above a skin-tight cropped tank. His eyes lingered on her navel, watching it contract as she breathed, before scanning up and down her legs once, twice, and again. He wore the expression of a tiger watching a platter of meat through the bars of his cage.
“All the subtlety of an anvil, Jack.”
“I might say the same to you, sweetheart.”
* * *
“Bait?” Cassie coughed, then half-shrieked, “Bait? You think it’s funny? Jack—you promised!”
Jack tried to tuck her behind his shoulder and interrupt, but Cassie leaned around him and jabbed an accusing finger at Memphis.
“No more bait, no more turkey shoots! You tell him no, Memphis, or answer to me. Find another way, whatever. He comes home in a body bag, and I come after you.”
She glared, the silence stretched, and she wanted Jack’s buddy to know she meant it, every word. Bad enough that they went willingly into danger, no reason they should play high-stakes games with their lives. No operation was worth that.
Memphis raised his eyebrows and Jack seemed stunned.
Cassie exhaled in a gust and muttered, “I think I just grew a few gray hairs.”
Memphis surprised her with his softened, sympathetic expression. “It takes a strong woman to love a soldier. You’ll get used to it, honey.” He nodded his head, “We always come home. Don’t worry.”
Jack sputtered then argued, “Oh, we’re not—It’s not–”
“You’re gone, bro. I give it two months, max, and we’ll all be in our dress whites.”
Cassie looked between them, confused, then hacked into Memphis’ thoughts to discern he meant their formal Navy uniforms, for the occasion of her and Jack’s supposed wedding. Wow.
Memphis winked at their twin shell-shocked expressions.
Website + blog: http://moriahdensley.com
Goodreads book page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15853313-the-valkyrie-s-guardian
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5829287.Moriah_Densley