It is my utmost pleasure to host my best writer friend, the wonderfully talented, Naima Simone, whose new paranormal romance, Under His Wings, releases today.
I first met Naima when I was asked to speak at the Southern Magic Chapter of Romance Writers of America. After she and I talked, I invited her to send a partial of one of her works in progress and told her I’d see if I thought my publisher might be interested.
Needless to say, I was impressed by Naima’s emotionally charged, beautiful writing. Her characters reach off the page to grab you by the heart. A word of warning: They never let go.
This past year, she announced to me that she was stepping out on a limb and trying her hand at paranormal romance. I’ll just say this. I loved Naima’s contemporary suspense romances. I REALLY REALLY LOVE her paranormals, featuring a clutch of sexy hippogryph (yes, like Buckbeak!) shifting bad asses known as Dimios. Think Navy Seals who can sprout wings and talons and fly.
I got to proof and critique this novel as she wrote it and it’s one of the best – scratch that – THE BEST – paranormal romance I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s safe to say it’s the best shifter romance I’ve ever read. Under His Wings is charged with gripping characters, emotion, a villain to rival Loki, sexy love scenes, and imagery that will stick with you long after you read the last word. Lucky us, because she’s got another in this series slated to release sometime later this year!
Oh, and guess what? One lucky commenter is going to get a digital copy of this fantastic book! So be sure to let Ms. Simone know how much you loved the interview.
So without further adieu, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Ms. Naima Simone as she treats you to a character interview with her head hippogryph, Nicolai Abioud ~
At the behest of her king, Zora Leandros has travelled to Grace Crossings, Massachusetts to interview hippogryph Dimios, Nicolai Abioud. She waits for the warrior at a local pub he “suggested”.
Check. Check mic one. Check mic two.
This recorder better work.
I’m sitting in a pub located in some unknown point on the globe called Grace Crossings at the order, er, request of King Janus to meet with his son, Nicolai Abioud. Yes, that Nicolai. The Dimios, Nicolai. The judge, jury, executioner of our race, Nicolai. The “I am the laaaw” Nicolai.
So let this mandated interview also serve as my last will and testament. If I’m not back home in Patros within the next twenty-four hours, I have not decided to take a sudden vacation in Bermuda. I haven’t met a ripped, delicious male who has whisked me away to a secret hide-away for days filled with lust and debauchery. Sigh. As much as I wish a hot, able-bodied slice of—cough! Anyway, as I was saying. Don’t be fooled! Come look for me! I’m most likely scattered across the eastern starboard in itty-bitty mini-me pieces because the Dimios disapproved of a question I asked and now I’m swimming with the fishes!
Oh damn, let me make it outta here alive—
Deep, Rumbling Voice: Are you the interviewer my father sent?
My head jerks up. Holy shikeys! Where’s the freakin’ beer? My fingers graze the cold glass, and I snatch it up, gulp down the bitter alcohol. Zeus-on-a-crapper, he is HUGE. Feet encased in the largest black boots I’ve ever seen. Thighs that rival the columns of the Parthenon. Hands like the paws of a lion. A chest and shoulders that blocks out the entire stinkin’ bar and hot damn! That face. Adonis in the flesh with angles and planes like the mountains we both hail from. And that hair. I downed another mouthful of beer. If he was a woman I’d snark about him behind his back even as I hunted down his hairstylist with the ferocity of a PMS-ing harpy!
He arches a golden eyebrow.
Me: (clearing my throat) Uh, yes. I’m sorry. That’s me. Zora Leandros.
My knees slam against the underside of the table as I start to rise without sliding out of the booth first. Fire races up my neck and flares in my cheeks. Hell.
Nicolai: (waving a hand at me as he slips into the booth into the booth across from me) Please. Sit. The sooner we get started the sooner this fluff piece is over with.
Me: I wouldn’t call it a fluff piece…
Nicolai: (snorts) Oh really? Then tell me, Ms. Leandros, what is the purpose of this interview?
I try not to squirm in my chair but damn, with him leaning forward, looming like a cat about to pounce…screw it. I’m squirming.
Me: King Janus thought it would be beneficial to allow our people a glimpse into the Dimios, the man, the protector. He wanted to show a, um, more human side of you…so to speak.
Nicolai: (snorting again) A fluff piece.
Me: (a little peeved now) Not at—
Nicolai: Let’s get to it. What’s your first question?
Offended and a tad bit flustered, I flip my notepad open to the list of questions King Janus’ publicist provided me with—Hera’s Girdle! His hands are gi-normous! I mean, if the size of a man’s hands determines the length of his…manly bits, he must make a centaur look like a eunuch… And his eyes. Sweet Zeus, he has the most amazing lavender eyes…
Nicolai: (a low growl) Excuse me? What did you say?
Me: Lies. A cadaver can’t tell lies. That’s what I said. *cough* And since most people who encounter you end up y’know, a cadaver, your father wants someone…alive to report back…
He crosses his arms and cocks his head to the side, studying me.
Me: Right, right. Let’s see. That first question. What do you like to do on a...uh…relaxing…evening. Oh hell.
Nicolai falls back against the booth, a smirk riding the sensual, slightly cruel curve of his mouth.
Nicolai: Zora, you think I don’t know what my father is up to? I’m the Dimios. I hunt and kill those of our people who go rogue. I may be the justice of the hippogryph but I’m also the one mothers warn their young about when they misbehave. I’m the thing that goes bump in the night. So I really don’t believe a cute article about how I prefer to kick back on a night off is going to change anything. You think I didn’t smell your fear? That it doesn’t reach me now?
The bald, ugly truth of his words slam into my chest, snatching the breath from my lungs. Shame slinks into my stomach to curl and curdle like spoiled milk. He’s right. We depend on him. Yet…we fear him.
Me: Does that bother you?
His eyebrows slam down in a dark scowl and I know he’s caught my whispered question.
Nicolai: Does what bother me?
Me: Being the boogey man of our race.
Nicolai: (loosening his arms and splaying his long fingers across the table top) I do what needs to be done. I have no illusions about my role in the hippogryph’s existence.
Me: (swallowing hard) But it sounds so…lonely. Don’t you get tired of being alone?
His fingers curl into the scarred wood the slightest bit but immediately straighten. Something flashes in his violet eyes but that imperceptible thing is gone behind a flinty amethyst gaze.
Nicolai: Like I said, I have no illusions about my role. Sacrifices must be made. And besides, the costs… (He pauses and his jaw hardens until I’m almost afraid it will crack under the pressure) The costs are high.
Oh sweet Zeus. How could I forget? Pria…
Me: Nicolai, I’m sor—
He thrusts up a hand, halting the inadequate and feeble apology waiting to spill from my lips
Nicolai: Hold on. (His wheat-colored brows arrow down into a deep frown.) I have to go.
The Dimios leaps from the booth and strides from the bar. I stare after him, my mouth hanging open like a gaping fish. As I’m gawking at his rigid spine it hits me he must’ve received a telepathic message from someone…and I’m being ditched. Finally, my brain slams into “Get a grip!” mode, and I tumble from the booth hot on Nicolai’s heels.
Me: Wait! Nicolai!
He wheels around and in that moment I’m staring up into the formidable mask of the Dimios—the judge and executioner of our people. I stumble back a step.
Nicolai: Interview is over, Ms. Leandros. While this has been…entertaining, I have a job to do. A rogue to eliminate. It’s been a pleasure.
He shoves out of the pub, leaving me to stare blankly after him. In a matter of seconds he’s gone. My heart pounds in my chest even as his wild heather-and-wind scent teases my nose before it, too, disappears. Funny. My entire existence I’ve feared the dark, menacing shadow of the Dimios, our people’s dark judgment. But in the ten minutes I’ve spent in his presence, I know there’s much more to Nicolai Abioud…much, much more…
Read Nicolai’s story in Under His Wings, Book One of the Dark Judgment series available from Ellora’s Cave Publishing today! I’m giving away a copy of Under His Wings! Just leave a comment to enter!
Warrior, lover…savior. A winged avenger with chocolate feathers and lavender eyes haunts Tamar Ridgeway’s dreams—her erotic escape after surviving a horrible plane crash and enduring years of painful physical therapy. But fantasy becomes terrifying reality when she’s attacked by a mythical creature from her darkest nightmares. Now her sexy warrior is vowing to save her, whether she wants his protection or not.
Nicolai Abioud, judge and executioner of the hippogryph, is stunned when the woman he rescues is the same who submits to him nightly in his dreams…and a replica of his dead wife. He’s fascinated by her beauty and spirit, consumed by the craving to touch…to take. Yet he lost his one true bondmate five-hundred years ago. And falling for a human—no matter how beautiful—is a foolish risk. But the choice to love may be snatched away. Danger is closing in. They must conquer their enemy and fears. Or be doomed to lose the love of a millennium.
Read an Excerpt here.
Naima Simone is a multi-published author in contemporary and erotic romance. She’s a member of RWA’s Southern Magic chapter, mother of the Dynamic Duo, lover of everything Vin Diesel and wife to the fabulous husband who tolerates this affair. Come visit Naima at www.naimasimone.com.