Last year I discovered a new-to-me author with an amazing new series. Waking the Dragon by Juliette Cross got a very enthusiastic 5-star review from me. The half-human, half-dragon, all-sexy Morgans I discovered in the first Vale of Stars book became my favorite paranormal creatures. Cue the promo……
Now Dragon in the Blood, book 2 in the Vale of Stars series is out and I am truly excited!!! I’ll be reading it in the near future, but in the mean time, we can all get a sneak peak. There is an excerpt later in this feature as well as a giveaway.
But first, I have a very special guest. Juliette Cross is here today! She has kindly consented to answer a few of my questions. So without further ado….
Interview with Juliette Cross
Riley: Hi Juliette! Thanks for joining me at Whiskey With My Book. I am excited about your new release Dragon in the Blood because I loved Waking the Dragon so much! When I read it, I decided that Morgons were my new favorite paranormal beings. What was your inspiration for the Morgon race?
Juliette: Oh, wow! What a fantastic compliment. Thank you so much. Okay, interestingly enough. I’ve always been fascinated by dragons, and I wanted an idea for a new paranormal romance series but I also wanted to find an original concept. So I Googled dragons for inspiration (the ultimate research tool, Google) and scrolled through the artwork when BAM. A painting of a beautiful, dark-haired woman warrior who had black wings stood next to a fierce dragon. It captured me. From there I thought, what would it be like if there was a race of half-dragons, hybrids, who lived alongside humans? This also led me to the overall theme of the world—the destruction of prejudice and hatred and how some people can find love in a violent world.
Riley: Assuming that you are not Morgon yourself, given the opportunity would you like to fly with one? (I would!)
Juliette: Um, hell yeah I would! Lol. That is of course why I often describe each human heroine’s first flight with a bit of detail. It is how I imagine it would feel to be held in the strong arms of a Morgon man. 😉
Riley: In your books that I have read, there are some very dark aspects that give them a Gothic feel – mystery mixed with horror. I’m glad you mix in romance and characters with a sense of humor to lighten things up a bit! Don’t get me wrong. I truly appreciate the overall feeling! Is this a general theme in all your writing?
Juliette: That is so cool you noticed that. And yes, I am highly influenced by the original Gothic writers. Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE is my all-time favorite book. There is always a touch of darkness in my stories. My favorite theme is the idea that good and light can always conquer the dark, no matter how far one seems to fall. And as you mentioned, I always include snarky characters or a bit of humor to add some levity to the stories. After all, life is a bit of both.
Riley: I appreciated that Waking the Dragon told a complete story, yet left some unanswered questions. Will Dragon in the Blood follow the same formula? And if so, how many books do you have planned for the Vale of Stars series?
Juliette: Yes, this story will be a complete story, and yes it will leave more unanswered questions. This will be a long series. And honestly, I don’t have a finite number yet as new ideas come to me with every book I write. There will be at least eight more. I always envisioned this being a 10-book series. And I know the characters and plot of the final book, but we still have a ways to go to get there. I hope you’ll stay tuned.
Riley: What would you like to tell us about Dragon in the Blood – or the Vale of Stars series – that readers won’t learn in the book blurb or excerpt?
Juliette: There is a third POV from the villain’s perspective. And yes, she is a villain. Even while you might sympathize with her at times, her motives are not for good. All the same, her story is of great importance to the Vale of Stars. And her story isn’t yet over in DRAGON IN THE BLOOD.
Riley: What are some of your favorite books and how do they influence you as an author?
Juliette: It’s no secret to those who know me that JANE EYRE is my favorite book. While written in classic style, Bronte is masterful at crafting the perfect dark romance where an unlikely heroine finds love and defeats the evil in her life with a happily ever after. I’m highly influenced by the great classics. But I also adore Nalini Singh who is an amazing storyteller and Juliet Marillier for her beautifully crafted worlds.
Riley: What have you read recently?
Juliette: I’m currently reading Shelley Laurenston’s THE UNLEASHING, which is a very original concept with captivating, unique characters.
Riley: Other than writing, what else to you like to do. (Feel free to gush over family and pets.)
Juliette: Well, I have four kids, one at college. But we enjoy family movie nights and game nights. And on the regular, my husband and I binge watch our latest obsession on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Right now, I’m addicted to Orphan Black. Amazing storytelling and acting!
Riley: What is next for you?
Juliette: I’m currently writing DRAGON HEARTSTRING, a novella that is actually a prequel to the Vale of Stars series. It tells the love story of the stern businessman Demetrius Cade and the demure healer Shakara Icewing. I realize I’m writing it out of order, but the shifting around of publishers with this series put it on hold for a while. This is my first story with the couple of a human man and Morgon woman. And I’m excited to see it finally added to the list.
Riley: Juliette, feel free to add anything else you would like people to know about you or your books.
Juliette: I absolutely adored this Q&A! Thank you so much for letting me share a little bit about my myself with your readers. I’d also like to let them know that I will be including a free short with every monthly newsletter where they can meet some of the secondary characters a little more up close and personal. I also plan to include special shorts of MCs we’ve met in past books. I hope you’ll join me.
When desire bites, there’s no patience for a slow burn.
While all seems quiet in Gladium Province, the Morgon Guard—the global justice force for the dragon hybrid race—knows their enemy is rebuilding its forces in the underground.
Valla Moonring, an assassin for the Order of the Morgon Guard, is ordered on a mission into the Wastelands of Aria—a formidable, icy wilderness fraught with all manner of dangers, including outlaws, deadly weather, and big-game predators.
To her great distaste, she’s partnered with a Nightwing Security operative, Conn Rowanflame, a Morgon with the aggravating ability to get under her skin. While she takes her mission seriously, Conn’s confident charm throws her off balance, a dangerous place to be in conditions like these. Especially when cold nights require close contact.
Sensual attraction binds them ever closer, igniting a passion of unexpected force—the soulfire. But when the hunters become the hunted, their bond could prove perilous. Even fatal…
Excerpt from Dragon in the Blood
Conn slowed his descent as treetops came into view beyond the fading mist, which had thinned to nearly nothing in the past hour. Whipping open my wings, I landed softly on the hard ground among a grove of evergolds. Even in this frozen tundra, the giants famous for their flora of fire-gold leaves grew tall and thick-branched in abundance. I lifted my visor to a brilliant burst of color that contrasted against the brown earth and snow-swept embankments.
Bowen landed quietly behind me. “How about some lunch before we set out on foot?”
He removed and tucked away his visor and unpacked his crossbow from its sheath on his back for the first time on this journey.
“Let’s get into the cover of trees,” said Conn, moving along the natural path. “And lunch sounds perfect.”
“Benta’s breakfast wasn’t enough for you?” I asked, meeting his long stride.
“I always have an appetite, sweetheart.”
“While you two continue flirting, I’ll find some small game nearby. Set up the hotpad over near that big evergold.”
Without a sound, Bowen disappeared into the trees.
“Flirting?” I scoffed. “I wasn’t flirting.”
“I was.” Conn grinned.
“I haven’t even gotten started yet.”
“So you’ve said before.”
“Listen—” I put up both gloved hands to stop his snarky banter for just one second. “I’m glad we’re finally alone.”
“Me, too.” His lopsided grin made my heart flutter.
Exhaling a frustrated sigh, I stopped under a thick oak with ample coverage from above and unhooked my chest pack before dropping it to the ground. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about…about last night.”
“Mmm. Last night.”
He removed his own pack and gloves, then pulled out the small, electronic hotpad. After opening the tripod that kept it off the ground, he turned it on. Gisa ordered us to use the hotpad instead of fire when we were in the open to avoid alerting predators or criminals to our presence.
Conn stood and propped his hands low on his hips. “Would you like a second round?”
“No…no.” I cleared my throat and shook my head, my ponytail sliding on the smooth leather of my jacket. “Actually, that should never have happened. I shouldn’t have let that happen. But I—”
“Couldn’t resist,” he finished, a devilish smile brimming his beautiful face. “It’s okay. It happens a lot.”
“You’re such an ass.” I rolled my eyes. “I could’ve resisted.”
He broke his rigid stance and sauntered closer, a feral glimmer in his gaze. By instinct, I backed up a step, my wings scraping the rough bark of the evergold behind me. He moved into my personal space.
“What are you doing?” I asked, heart hammering.
He flattened one hand against the tree above my head, his finger grazing the arch of my wing. I shivered.
“Are you sure you could resist?”
I cleared my throat. “Of course,” I said, trying to sound confident, but my voice betrayed me and broke.
“Well…I couldn’t.” He brushed the back of his knuckles along my jaw. I held still, caught.
“Actually, I want to taste you again. Right now.”
Even stone-cold sober, I felt drunk from a single touch, longing to fall back into his arms and let him show me what his hazel-gold eyes promised without a word.
He leaned close, his warm breath grazing my ear. “Let me taste you again, Valla.”
I planted my hands on his chest, wishing there weren’t the layers of thermal suit and leather between my palms and his rock-hard chest.
He nuzzled the shell of my ear with his nose, then his lips. “Let me.”
His darkened voice pleaded and demanded at the same time, spreading warmth between my legs. What had gotten into me? I pushed him out of my way and stormed toward a densely wooded area.
“Where are you going?” he laughed. “Running away?”
“I’ve gotta go to the bathroom,” I yelled over my shoulder.
“Not by yourself, you’re not.” His footsteps crunched across the thin blanket of snow and leaves behind me.
I whirled, heat burning up my neck, now from anger not lust. “Whoa, there, big boy.” I threw up a hand, halting him several feet away. “Look. You’re not my keeper. And just because we shared one kiss doesn’t mean anything. I’m going to relieve myself by myself. Do you understand?”
His wings twitched at his back. Agitated. Whatever.
“And stop scowling at me,” I called back as I spun and trekked off the path into the brush.
Just so you don’t get the wrong idea about Dragon in the Blood. The promo graphics and the excerpt provided by Bewitching Book Tours show only one side of the story – the sensual romantic side. Which will be great, I am sure. But based on Waking the Dragon, I’m going to predict that there is much more to it. There will be some mystery and suspense. And an evil protagonist doing dark deeds. Okay, that is not a prediction. Juliette did tell us that! I do love a really good bad guy/gal. Intrigue and action are sure to be mixed in. Maybe some interesting Dragon/Human lore to add to the story. So, a romance to be sure, but so much more. I’ll get back to you on that ‘so much more’ in a few weeks!
Purchase Links for the Vale of Stars series:
About the Author
Juliette lives in lush, moss-laden Louisiana where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab, Kona. Multi-published author of paranormal and urban fantasy romance, she loves reading and writing brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.
You can discover more of Juliette and her books on her website.
You’ve made it to the end! Almost. Just one more thing to do. Enter the giveaway. If you signed up for the newsletter using Juliette’s link, you are one step ahead. Now – follow the Rafflecopter link….