I happen to know you're a fascinating, incredibly busy lady that multitasks like nobody's business, but what should readers know about you? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
In my other life I’m a businesswoman. I manage operations and projects for a very large important company. That takes up a considerable amount of time and if it wasn’t for my extremely supportive husband, my two very young sons would surely make writing impossible.
Most find it hard to believe I never dreamed of being a writer, and only a few know that I dreamed of being a singer. Broadway was my dream until I went away to college for music and realized it wasn’t all I thought it would be. I can be very analytical so I find keeping the career in business satisfies that side of me and writing gives my artistic side the exercise it has been thirsting for.
Could you share a few books that have influenced your life. What about them resonated with you?
I have to give the Twilight Saga credit for pulling me back into reading. My career keeps me so busy that finding time to read seems an impossibility. But when there is a will there is a way, as the saying goes. Audiobooks became my savior. A long commute went from wasted time to a time I looked forward to.
My cousin introduced me to J.R. Ward shortly after finishing the Twilight series and when I discovered paranormal romance came in the adult variety, I was hooked. Ward, Frost, Kenyon, Sparks, Sands, Moning—I’ve devoured them all.
Oh, great picks! Kresley Cole is among my favorites too, and Ms. Frost's Bones is hubba, hubba dreamy.
Moving on, a million years ago I worked at a summer camp for teens. I learned there's one question you can ask people that really gives a glimpse of their soul-- no pressure. ;o) Could you share your most embarrassing moment EVER with us. Okay, that's mean. How about something that ranks in your top ten?
I have always been a terrible speller. A decent student but a horrid speller. For some ungodly reason, I was chosen to represent my junior-high class in the spelling bee.
I spent days preparing myself for failure. But renewed confidence grew when I was told that to alleviate any embarrassment, the judges would give us our first word in advance. In round three or four, I’d laugh it off, make a joke of it, or misspell the word so horribly with a stupid grin on my face that everyone would think I threw the competition on purpose. That was my plan—save face.
My palms were sweaty and a cavernous pit filled my stomach but I was focused on round two. I had round one in the bag. My bravado only had one sure round so I marched my manufactured confidence up to the microphone after my name was called.
“Your word is bakery,” the judge, my balding middle-aged English teacher annunciated.
I smiled. The audience returned my enthusiasm. All of the contestants knew the first word. And I got such an easy word.
Mr. Smith smiled back. The audience didn’t know our secret. No one was going down in round one.
I cleared my throat. “Bakery. B-A-K-R-E-Y. Bakery.” My smile grew brighter and I was about to return to my seat with a bounce in my step since completing round one meant I was all that much closer to ending the misery. But that’s when I noticed Mr. Smith’s face. He was no longer smiling. And it occurred that “Thank you, Renea. You may have a seat,” never left his mouth. Instead there was silence. Piercing silence.
I blinked several times then surveyed the audience. Fifty different expressions of astonishment filled their features.
“I’m sorry, Renea but that is incorrect. The correct spelling is B-A-K-E-R-Y. You are dismissed.”
I couldn’t move. How on earth did I mange to misspell a word I was given beforehand and a second grade word at that? It was too late for the stupid grin. I couldn’t pretend now that I threw it on purpose - they all were witnesses to the shame.
“Renea… Thank you but you are dismissed.”
After turning and walking off the stage that night I learned a valuable lesson—being in the moment sometimes beats the best strategy.
Blinks. Wow. Thank you for sharing that difficult memory with us, and I think it reveals a great deal about your resilience and fortitude that you were able to take away a life lesson from the experience. Brava, lady, brava. Spelling, schmelling, right? Luckily, spelling aptitude has very little to do with the ability to craft a thrilling new world for readers to explore. Speaking of which, I've read Symphony of Light and Winter and adored it. What inspired you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to create this sensual paranormal novel?
My artistic side was begging to be let loose. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and am a sucker for a sexy story with a ton of sexual tension, angst and power struggles between the main characters. If you take into account that I grew up on Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe and the Phantom of the Opera, dark tales and supernatural are engrained. But I think it was Cyril from Symphony of Light and Winter who pushed me to give him life. I kept going over scenes in my mind featuring him and his overbearing ways. I had no other choice than to bend to his will.
Could you please share one of your favorite excerpts of Symphony of Light and Winter with us?
My amusement was interrupted by the absolute last thing I needed. Cyril. As if being in a room with a bunch of men who wanted me but didn’t know why and hated me for it wasn’t bad enough. In his black custom suit, he radiated power. He pulled at his cuff links as he stopped to survey the room.
Instead of trying to make my escape, I seized an opportunity to antagonize him. I was really starting to enjoy tormenting him.
“Good morning, Grim, it is nice of you to join us.”
“Grim. Ha! She called him Grim.” Rhys clapped his hands as he laughed.
Cyril didn’t acknowledge me or Rhys’s comment. He stood there for a very long time and looked around the room at each man. Nobody met his gaze but me. Cyril’s fists clenched at his side, jaw tight, and face furious.
“I warned all of you,” he addressed the room. He didn’t growl but rather wrapped his words with a subtle menace.
“Leave them alone. You know this is entirely your fault. If you would just think things through, you’d stop fucking everything up. I do have to say, of all your fuckups, this one is certainly the most impressive and entertaining from my perspective.” I winked at Overton, who managed to glare at me even with his head practically bowed. Why were they so fucking subservient to him?
The next thing I knew, I was yanked from my seat and hoisted onto the counter. Cyril grabbed my ass and pulled me to the edge, forced my legs open, and stepped between them. He wrapped his arms around me and placed his head against mine. It wasn’t his voice I heard but rather his mind. It felt like when I talked to myself but somehow I knew it was him. Strange, he had tone and inflection while communicating.
“You need to stop showing off in front of my men. Yes, I fucked up, but do you really want them to give in to their urges? Do you think you can fend them off? I could toss you to them and see how far you get. Is that what you want? Maybe I should let them have their way with you and pull up a chair to watch. I want you to think about something before you start to defy me. I’m the only one who can keep you safe. So it’s best you stop being a smart-ass for five seconds and listen to me. I’m going to do something that will piss you off. I’m warning you now it’s for your own good. You need to go along with it, no matter how angry you are at me. Don’t fight me. I’ll try to fix this but until then, I need to take a few precautions.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. If I thought something, could he hear me? Was this two-way communication? I tried to push him away.
He tightened his grip and his voice was in my head again.
“Stop it! Let me remind you that I have a special connection with these men. Not only can I read their thoughts but I can’t block them. I don’t have to try to receive them. I know exactly what each person in this room, besides you of course, is thinking right now.”
So that’s what Overton meant when he said Cyril had ways of finding out.
“The thoughts that assaulted me when I entered this room would make a porn star blush; every one of their little fantasies featured you.”
The voice growled. “Don’t laugh. I won’t pretend I’m not jealous and angry. I am. But if you knew the things they were thinking you’d better understand why I need to do what I’m about to do. Do you see Dominic over there? Let’s just say his tastes run a little dark. Ever spend considerable time naked with your hands bound behind your back and a ball gag in your mouth? He’s picturing you that way, this very instant.”
I stiffened. That didn’t at all appeal to me.
“Thor seems to think that you’d enjoy all of us taking you at the same time.”
And he seemed so quiet and sweet.
“Sinclair wants to shove his cock down your throat until you choke, all the while telling you how it’s your entire fault. Rhys is thinking of how you would look sprawled out on the hood of his new sports car, and Overton...”
“NO!” I yelled.
It seemed like a violation of privacy with Overton. Unlike the others, I considered him a friend. I respected him too much.
“See, like it or not, I’m going to tell you what he’s thinking since it pisses me off the most. He thinks I’m going to fuck you right here on this counter, to lay my claim. Once he gets past the fantasies of watching me fuck you, which he finds exceptionally arousing...”
There was a momentary pause to the voice and when he started again, he was angry.
“He then knocks on your bedroom door after you run crying from the room. You invite him in and he holds you in his arms while you cry about how I violated and humiliated you. He wants to comfort you. He wants to be your savior. He wants to save you from me. But he knows he can’t.”
I felt the moment he left my head, because a sudden wave of dizziness came over me.
With no more words, he tilted his head and placed his lips against mine. I fought the rigidity that tried to seize my body. I knew it was best to give in. I wouldn’t fight him, but I knew every time he got close, I ran the risk of losing myself. I was still way too angry to just give up.
His lips danced with mine as he nestled himself between my open thighs.
Was Overton right? How far would he take it? If it did go too far, would I be able to stop him? He was such a fucking weakness for me I honestly didn’t think I would.
He was gentle and softly stroked my back as his tongue made love to my mouth. With one hand he cupped my ass and pulled me flush against him, and with the other he reached up, cupped my breast, and squeezed hard. His kiss grew frantic and I became caught up in the sensation, forgot where I was, and that I had an audience. He pushed me hard against his erection as he rubbed himself rhythmically against my core. “You are mine. You belong to me. Now say it! Let them all know who you belong to.”
Was he kidding? I hesitated.
He ran his fangs up the side of my neck in warning. He whispered in my ear, “Say it. You need to say it. Let them hear it come from your lips.” His hand drifted from my breast to the hem of my nightgown and pulled up one side so it rested in the crease where my leg met my hip.
Somehow the part of me that knew he was right surfaced, and the stubborn part of me took a momentary vacation. If I was his, they wouldn’t dare defy him. It would keep me safe.
His fingers toyed with the edge of my panties before tugging the fabric to the side to allow him to stroke my moist skin. He positioned himself at the juncture between my legs, allowing my naked flesh to gather friction from his cloth-covered cock.
“Yes, Cyril, I’m yours.”
With that, he struck. His fangs pierced my neck. The second of pain from his bite passed and the pleasure grew, igniting my veins with liquid desire. One arm tightened around me, pulling me harder against his cock. The other held my head while he sucked harder. Each pull he took was linked to the sensitive place between my legs. He ground his hips into mine and I moaned. The first wave of climax hit, tensing muscles and pushing my breath out in a rush. This was new. He could do this just by biting me?
I shook in his arms as he drank. Tremor after tremor seized me as he took his fill. I was so caught up in the sensation I only vaguely noticed the moans and growls that escaped from behind his teeth. With one final pull, and a thrust of his hips, he finished with a crushing embrace as he removed his teeth from my neck.
“Mine!” he roared. He enveloped me in his arms and held me close. He dipped his head to lick closed the small punctures on my throat.
I threw my head back. My breathing slowed as the cloud that had invaded my head receded.
Son of a bitch! I just came in front of everyone while sitting on the kitchen counter!
I was afraid to open my eyes but when I did, he stared back.
He nuzzled my cheek. “I’m sorry. I only want to protect you. If you’re mine, no one will dare touch you. I needed to lay my claim but I didn’t want to take anything you hadn’t already offered. Since you’ve replenished me before I thought this might be more acceptable.”
I was angrier with myself than him.
He caressed my arms and back. When I mustered enough courage to look around, we were the only
people in the kitchen, with the exception of Overton, who stood in the doorway holding the keys to my car.
Cyril softly lifted my chin so that my eyes would meet his. “Again, I’m sorry. I know I end up saying that far too often. But I need you to know, hearing those words from your lips...ah, hell. I can’t even explain it. Perhaps someday, you’ll utter them in truth.”
He placed his forehead against mine, took a deep breath. “Fuck. Maybe Overton is right. Maybe someone should save you from me.”
Fans self. Yowzers! Thank you for that yummy excerpt, and thank you for being with us today and sharing such thoughtful responses.
Dear readers, you can purchase Renea's Symphony of Light and Winter from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Allromancebooks.com. To learn more about Renea, visit her author website at Reneamason.com.