Friday, November 29, 2019

The Underground by Roxanne Bland


Genre: Paranormal Urban Fantasy/
Romance/Science Fiction Hybrid

Publisher: Blackrose Press

Date of Publication: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 9780996731621 (print)
ISBN: 9780996731638 (electronic)

Number of pages: 376
Word Count: 100,261

Cover Artist: Zelena

Tagline: There’s no room for morals when survival is at stake.

Book Description:

In an alternate Seattle,
communities of “exotics”—shapeshifters, witches, elves and vampires—live among
the murderous human population and are ruled over by the cruel vampire Master,

The powerful alpha male of the
werewolf pack, Parker Berenson, is one of the Master’s enslaved servants and he
would like nothing more than to hasten the downfall of the vampire overlord who
stole his love, the beautiful mage Garrett Larkin.

But in a night city already on
the razor’s edge—in the midst of a spate of bloody murders—Parker’s passionate
encounter with a stunning interstellar assassin could upset the very delicate
balance and ignite a war neither exotics nor humans can survive

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human. Stay human. Stay human.”
Berenson, alpha of Seattle’s werewolf pack, slammed the door to his aging brown
Chevrolet Caprice. “Stay human. Stay human.” Hands clenched into fists, his
feet pounded the icy pavement leading from the driveway to his blue-gray stucco
house. Though the February fourth night was unusually bitter and he wore
neither overcoat nor jacket, he didn’t feel cold. Sweat streamed down his face
and neck. His white dress shirt was soaked, as were his trousers. Tiny tendrils
of steam rising from his muscular shoulders made him look as if he were
wolf’s hard push against the mental bonds that held him inside their shared
body and mind made Parker stumble. Fuck staying human. I want out! he roared.
his balance, he ignored his beast as best he could and kept walking. “Stay
human. Just stay human.”
least wait until we get inside,” he said through his teeth.
porch light was out again, but Parker could see by the streetlamps’ ambient
glow. He shoved his key into the front door lock and gave it a savage twist.
The bolt didn’t move. Using more pressure, he tried again and nearly snapped
the key in two. “Open, you sonofa…” he muttered, jiggling the key in its slot.
it, his wolf snarled and gave another hard mental shove. Tear the sucker off—
key finally turned. Parker threw the door open, stormed over the threshold,
then banged the door shut.
day, I swear-to-God, I’m gonna kill that—
and me both.” He leaned against the door, panting. “Now calm down, will you?
down? After what he did to us tonight? Again? Calm down my—
up. We need a drink.”
don’t need a drink. I need—
up, I said.”
wolf didn’t reply. That was a good sign.
strode away from the small patch of faux-slate tiles that served as a tiny
foyer. The room he marched across comprised nearly all of the main level. White
walls supported glass and metal sculptures with jagged edges sharp enough to
carve a holiday roast. These stood in stark contrast to the rest of the sparse
furnishings—the clean, straight lines and ninety-degree angles formed by industrial-grade
steel pipe. The black leather cushions on the sofa and chairs did little to
soften the interior’s threatening appearance.
decor wasn’t pretty but it had its uses. The lack of furniture allowed enough
space for all of his wolves to sit when the pack met at his place. And in case
his neighbors discovered what he was and decided to do something about it, the
wall hangings and furniture could be broken into makeshift but lethal weapons.
headed for the freestanding bar about twenty feet away. He grabbed the
jumbo-sized Jack Daniel’s bottle from the counter and then snatched a double
shot glass from a nearby rack. Pouring the glass full, he drank it in one gulp,
ignoring the liquid fire searing his throat. He tossed down two more shots.
his fourth drink, he felt at least some of the tension leave his shoulders.
Holding the glass in two large, strong, and trembling—but very human—hands, he
set it down on the upper counter. Leaning against the marble, he closed his
eyes. “Okay. We’re okay now. Right?”
wolf remained silent. Another good sign. The last thing he wanted was to morph
into his other, a gargantuan man-wolf eight feet tall. A forced morph was
triggered in werewolves by the full moon and sometimes, like now, by powerful
emotions. And the greater the size differences between the human and were
selves, the more agonizing the change. Parker-the-human stood six feet, six
inches tall in his stocking feet. Morphing into his eight-foot were hurt like a
knife-wielding bitch.
had been just about to let out a sigh of relief when he caught a whiff of
cologne clinging to his shirt. It wasn’t his. He ripped the still-wet shirt off
and threw it across the room. His broad, hairy chest heaving with anger, he
watched the discarded garment land in a crumpled heap about ten feet away.
we’re not okay, his wolf growled. Human, when are you going to wake up and
smell the blood? That bastard is driving us insane.
bastard” was Kurt, the vampire Master. Old and extremely formidable, Kurt
extended preternatural protection from Seattle’s human horde to just about
every exotic—zot—that lived there. The smell Parker had picked up was the
vampire’s favorite scent.
poured a fifth shot of whiskey into the glass. “Quit calling me ‘human.’ Besides,
what do you suggest we do about it? We’re Kurt’s servant. Bound to him by
blood. Day or night, he calls, we come, and then we do whatever he wants.” He
downed his drink and grimaced. “Like we’re his damned dog or something.”
wolf’s anger surged. Guess you like it, huh? Like this, maybe? A mental picture
flashed in their shared mind’s eye, one Parker would rather not have seen.
Kurt’s grinning face was poised above him. He heard the seductive whispering in
his ear and felt the sweet ecstasy of fangs piercing his flesh.
face reddened. “You think I wanted to go down to Kurt’s nightclub tonight?” he
shouted. “You think I wanted his hands on me? No. You know what he does. Takes
over my mind and twists my head around until I’m practically begging for it.”
He tossed down a sixth shot. “And while he’s doing it I sure don’t feel you
trying to stop him.”
bull and you know it.
up.” He poured himself an seventh shot and drained it, which was followed by an
eighth. But Jack wasn’t doing the job. The humiliating images of what had
happened to him and his wolf in Kurt’s office beneath the vampire’s Last Chance
nightclub refused to fade.
gripped the shot glass harder. His blood pressure skyrocketed. Rivers of sweat
burst from his pores and ran down his face and chest. His wolf’s snarling
inside their shared mind swelled into a howl. He started grinding his teeth, a
sure sign he was going into a forced morph.

the Author:

Award-winning author Roxanne
Bland was born in the shadows of the rubber factory smokestacks in Akron, Ohio
but grew up in Washington, D.C. As a child, she spent an inordinate amount of
time prowling the museums of the Smithsonian Institution and also spent an
inordinate amount of time reading whatever books she could get her hands on,
including the dictionary. A self-described “fugitive from reality,” she has
always colored outside the lines and in her early years of writing, saw no
reason why a story couldn’t be written combining the genres she loved and did
so despite being told it wasn’t possible. Today, she writes stories that are
hybrids of paranormal urban fantasy, romance, and science fiction. Enamored of
Great Danes, she has been owned by several and lives in Maryland with her
current owner, Daisy Mae.


Interview with Roxanne Bland
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?
Yes, sometimes they do. I wrote a science fiction/romance that was supposed to end at the close of the planet’s spring season. The characters had other ideas, and the book went all the way through the entire planetary year. Other times, the characters don’t so much hijack the story as they nudge me into a different direction. Not necessarily anything major, but when I edit, I realize they were right. Like putting a scene together so it’s more coherent, or having me rewrite the character’s reaction to an event. It’s like they whisper “c’mon—you know me. Do you really think I’d do or say something like that?”
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
First, The Underground, a hybrid of paranormal urban fantasy, romance, and science fiction is different from the usual fare and that alone makes it worth checking out. It’s also a world of moral ambiguity, where morally ambiguous characters engage in what one might think are evil behavior to bring about a greater good—their survival in a human society that wants to eradicate them. The book doesn’t justify any of these actions; that is left for the reader to think about and judge. In short, I’ve taken the real world and substituted paranormals for persecuted peoples and provided the paranormals with tools that better their chances of staying alive. I guess I’m not doing a very good job of convincing anyone read my book but honestly, The Underground isn’t for everyone. There is a level of violence in words and deeds that will deter some readers. But if you approach The Underground with an open mind, I can guarantee you’ll have an enjoyable—and memorable—experience.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
I have two works in progress. The Final Victim is set in The Underground’s world and though it’s related to the main saga, it stands apart. I should mention The Final Victim is exclusive to me and my gift to the reader who signs up for my email list on my website—you’ll never see it on Amazon or anywhere else. My website is The other work is titled When Gods Die, and is the sequel to a book I wrote about 4 years ago. The plan is to have both books finished by summer 2020. That’s the plan, anyway.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Oh, my—computer! I’m so used to typing now, I can’t even recognize my own handwriting. As for typewriters, well, in my youth I had many traumatic experiences with them so forget it.
Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
The book world isn’t just about the big publishers anymore, like Tor or DAW. I think the stories independents are releasing to the market—authors and presses—are just as good, and sometimes better, than anything the “established” publishers are doing. Indies have changed the publishing industry in so many ways. Readers have access to a much larger pool of writers. Indies are free to experiment with genres (maybe even creating new ones), writing styles and more that big publishers won’t touch because it’s too risky to their bottom line. Because an indie’s margin is so much less, we have much more freedom in our writing—resulting in stories than are wilder and more fantastic than anything you’ve ever read. Readers, step off the path and take a walk on the wild side. You won’t regret it. 

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