Monday, July 24, 2017

SPOTLIGHT w/GUEST POST - Illumination (Penton Legacy, #5) by Susannah Sandlin

Penton Legacy, #5
by Susannah Sandlin
Date of Publication: July 11th 2017
Cover Artist: Kim Killion
Genre: PNR/UF
Tagline: Nik wants to escape his family curse. Shay wants to change the world. Together, they are the only hope to save the vampires of Penton.

He came to Penton seeking peace. Nik Dimitrou joined the Army to escape his family legacy, only to have his psychic abilities exploited as a weapon. Now, as a civilian, he turns to the bottle to veil the images that haunt his mind whenever he touches anyone—except vampires. With them, he has finally found a home. But as Penton, Alabama, moves into open warfare with the Vampire Tribunal, Nik finds himself a linchpin in the deepening conflict, not to mention facing a transformation in his own body more frightening than anything he’s encountered before.

She wanted to change the world. Shay Underwood watched her Peace Corps parents move from one third world country to another—until both died following an outbreak of fever. Driven to her own career in tropical medicine, Shay works in New Orleans to cure the disease that killed her parents—until a careless weekend outing draws her into a world far more dangerous than the diseases she studies: a vampire society engaged in human trafficking and on the verge of all-out war.

Two cities, two strangers, one world. With Penton rebellion leader Aidan Murphy making risky choices and chief vampire lieutenant Mirren Kincaid forced to take a leadership role in Penton, it will fall to two outsiders, Nik and Shay, to find a way for the town—and themselves—to survive in this much-anticipated conclusion to the multiple award-winning Penton Legacy series.

“Right then. We have an obscenely large vehicle on the other side of that brick wall,” Cage said. “Archer or Nik should be able to help you over. Once I’m sure you’re in the car and locked up tight, I’ll collect Robin and Glory from the cemetery entrance and we’ll all be on our way back to Penton.”
Shay bit her lip. She had absolutely no reason to go to Penton, wherever the hell it was. Her home and life and work were here in New Orleans. She knew she’d have to be careful, but now that the breeding house was broken up and Jonathan was dead, the vampires and their minions had no reason to come after her. Whatever feelings Shay had nursed for Nik Dimitrou in high school, they were long dead. Gorgeous only took a person so far. Besides, he was a vampire.
She’d wait until they got her out of this cemetery, though, to decline her visit to Vampire Central. Maybe the handsome cat boy would drop her off somewhere. But where? She had no money or identification with her. She didn’t even have the keys to her own apartment or lab.
Maybe a police station. They could come up with a plausible story for her disappearance. Maybe even name Simon as her kidnapper, and the warehouse location. Let the authorities make of it what they would.
Shay was distracted by the sight of Archer leaping to the top of the brick wall behind the Le Boeuf crypt, followed closely by Nik. Her old classmate might be injured and hungry, but that wall had given him no challenge. Shay wasn’t sure she could climb over it without a sturdy ladder on a good day. Today had not been a good day except that she hadn’t died.
Nik reached down and motioned to Shay. “C’mon, let’s get out of here.”
Shay looked at the wall, at Nik, and back at the wall. “I don’t think you can lift me. You’re hurt.”
“Trust me.” Nik grinned, giving Shay a glimpse of an older, even more handsome version of the boy she’d known so many years ago. She’d thought she loved that boy; this man, though….was a vampire. Don’t forget that, idiot.
She nodded, dried her hands on her jeans as much as she could, and reached up toward Nik. He leaned over, wrapped strong fingers around both of her wrists, and lifted her to the top of the wall with what seemed like little effort, setting her down beside him.
“Swing your legs over, and I’ll lower you down the other side. Or I can leap down with you in my arms.” His grin widened, and her heart beat double-time when their gazes locked. Vampire. He’s a freaking vampire. He’s a freaking vampire involved in a war with other freaking vampires. You cannot trust him. Lust, yes. Trust, no.
“Whatever you do, would you please move your arses?” Cage stood beneath them. “I’m getting soaked and—”
A loud pop sounded from the Washington Avenue end of the cemetery, followed by a splintering noise and another pop pop. Shay had lived in New Orleans long enough to recognize the sound of gunfire.

UF and PNR: Twin Brothers from a Different Mother
Guest Post from Susannah Sandliln

About six years ago, I finished a book called REDEMPTION that I pitched as straddling the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. “It’ll never fly,” said my agent, who then proved it by send it to some editors. “Not enough romance,” said the romance editor. “Too much romance,” said the urban fantasy editor.

So I increased the romance to fit the standard genre mould, and REDEMPTION—which I still call “paranormal romance with strong urban fantasy elements”—was unleashed on the public. It was the first book in the Penton Legacy series.

As I continued writing the Penton series, I also was writing the Sentinels of New Orleans series (written as Suzanne Johnson), which I described as “urban fantasy with romantic elements.”

As both series have progressed, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what differentiates the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres, which I think share about 95 percent of their DNA. I’ve hashed this out with other authors who weren’t sure if what they were writing was PNR or UF. I think there are three key differences:

1 ) WHAT GETS RESOLVED. Most UF and PNR novels have an external plot that’s bubbling along as the romantic relationship develops, but how does the book end? If the romantic couple has at least a “happily for now” resolution to their relationship but the external plot is either unresolved or, at best, is in a holding pattern, you have a paranormal romance. If the romantic relationship is unresolved but the external plot has at least reached a temporary reprieve, it’s urban fantasy. In my Penton Legacy series, each book has a central romance and the couple resolves that romance in some way by the end of the book; the external plot of the starving vampire population on the brink of civil war, however, carries on from book to book (well, until the new book, which ends this plot arc). In my Sentinels of New Orleans series, however, the heroine has an ongoing, up-and-down, will-they-won’t-they relationship that, after five books, is not resolved. (Spoiler: We’re going to fix that in book six next spring!)

2) WHO CAN DIE. That’s another difference in the UF/PNR genres. In a paranormal romance, if either the hero or heroine dies, well, that’s the end of the book, even if it happens on page five. Well, okay, there are vampires and undead but they aren’t fully and truly dead, after all. So in ILLUMINATION, the new book, hero Nik and heroine Shay can’t get killed or the book falls apart. They might come close, because I do love to torture my characters, but realistically, the reader knows the h/h of a romance will survive the book. In the Sentinels urban fantasy series, however, heroine DJ can’t die because she’s the only point-of-view character. Her “significant something-or-other” Alex, however, is fair game. Alex could die and the series could continue.

3) WHAT GETS THE PAGE TIME. This one gets iffy for me because, really, both the Penton Legacy series and the Sentinels of New Orleans series have strong elements of both UF and PNR. But in Sentinels, more page time is given to the looming preternatural world war between the wizards, shifters, faeries, elves, and other assorted beings, while less page time is given to DJ and Alex’s volcanic relationship. In the Penton Legacy series, I make sure both the heroine and hero get enough page time for their relationship to develop enough to reach a satisfactory resolution by the end of the book.

(4. EXCEPT WHEN IT’S THE LAST BOOK IN A SERIES.) When I was plotting ILLUMINATION, knowing it was the last book in the Penton Legacy Series, I decided to hell with genre. I wanted Nik and Shay to have time to develop their relationship, but I also wanted to let the readers who’ve come to love the couples in the other books know what those characters were doing. I wanted a resolution to the vampire starvation/civil war problems that made sense for the town of Penton, Alabama, to rebuild and have a future. So the book is truly an urban fantasy/paranormal romance hybrid. If and when I bring some of these characters back for a spinoff series, well, who knows….I might or might not go back to weighting either the romance or the action a bit more heavily to better fit into a genre.

How about you? As a reader, do you hate to see too much “plot” in  your romance or too much romance in your “plot”?

Author Info
Susannah Sandlin writes award-winning paranormal romance, including the popular Penton Legacy series for Montlake Romance, and romantic suspense and thrillers, including two series, The Collectors and Wilds of the Bayou, also for Montlake. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for Tor Books. Suzanne grew up in Alabama halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’s birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of college football and fried gator on a stick. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, where she is a full-time author who does copy editing on the side through
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