Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Winner Takes All by Marie Harte
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marie Harte is an avid reader who loves all things paranormal and futuristic. Reading romances since she was twelve, she fell in love with the warmth of first passion and knew writing was her calling. Twenty-three years later, the Marine Corps, a foray through Information Technology, a husband and four kids, and her dream has finally come true. Marie lives in Georgia with her family and loves hearing from readers.
To read more about Marie, visit her website at: www.marieharte.com
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Temis Freya constantly works to be taken seriously in a man's world, battling her beauty and a stubborn male mindset. Now a peacemaker close to promotion, she finds herself unfortunately assigned to an undercover mission with a man known only as Gren, an infamous mercenary with a reputation as a murderer and thief.
Gren, a secret protector of the Thesha, wants nothing more than his first vacation in years, but he's unable to let the plight of kidnapped young women go unanswered. Drafted into helping the peacemakers, he is further drawn into the game by the magnificent though stubborn woman fighting herself and him at every turn.
The sparks fly when Gren and Temis discover a passion sizzling all too close to the surface. And soon they realize that only by working together can they accomplish their mission, and reach the wonders of true love.
(WARNING: May contain explicit sex, graphic language, and some situations which could be offensive to sensitive readers.)
Temis felt refreshed after her workout, so much so that she joined Rafe for dinner and a drink before returning to her quarters for some much-needed rest.
Because of the visitors on board, talk of the mission remained unsaid. Rafe had whispered to meet him first thing in the morning in his room, where Sernal would be waiting with new plans. Until that time, however, Temis planned to rest both her mind and body.
She undressed and slid beneath the sheets of her narrow bed, and just as easily slid into sleep.
Comforted by her earlier physical training, her mind readily grasped the familiar dream of her homeworld.
Zephyr’s lavender skies faded into dark black, stars shining like beacons around the planet’s brightly glowing moon. The sound of grunts and thuds mingled with the scents of clean sweat and tangy blood, and she smiled at the memories of her upbringing.
Chula, Zephyr’s most famous training ground, had given birth to the warrior within her. In sleep, Chula continued to reward her, giving her the peace she needed to combat the fatigue of her day.
Controlling the dream, Temis nodded to her father and master trainer who suddenly appeared, then accepted the hack-staff that materialized at her feet. A faceless opponent shimmered into existence, and for the next few hours she managed her dream, fighting with passion and the determination to succeed.
Reliving her training refreshed her, as it always did. The sweat slid down her body, washing away the mental grime and exhaustion from the day.
Garbed in a slim loincloth and protective breastplate made of rak-hide, Chula’s heat comforted rather than oppressed as she fought man after man.
Only one other woman had ever been trained on Zephyr, and she had no desire to fight her daughter. Temis’s mother gladly left her daughter’s training to her husband, content to raise her children and manage the family estate.
So Temis fought man after man, eventually relinquishing her hold on the dream as true slumber began to overtake her.
She was dimly aware of the dark settling over Chula. Her father and the others disappeared and her world shimmered, until only a thin light illuminated a new, foreign area.
Temis blinked sleepily at an unfamiliar world. Three moons sat suspended in an indigo sky, lighting a perfectly round dirt ring surrounded by tropical forests and to her immediate left, an inviting pool of water.
Interest in her new surroundings revived her, and her awareness returned as she found herself holding her hack-staff again, her training clothes fresh but much too thin for the cool temperatures of this strange world.
“Where am I?” she asked aloud.
“You’ve come to fight, have you not?” a familiar voice called from the darkness in the forest.
She waited curiously, knowing yet not aware how she knew, that Gren approached.
He appeared uninjured, as if his fight earlier with the peacemakers had not occurred. Wearing only the swimming trousers she’d first seen him in, he walked lazily, like a cat stalking its prey, toward her.
He stopped in front of her, smiling, his eyes lingering over her breasts and thighs before returning to meet her confused gaze.
“You like to fight.”
She nodded. “But where am I?”
“In a dream.”
“But I command my dreams, and this is not Zephyr.”
Gren’s left eyebrow rose, an arrogant gesture that irritated her. “We stand in a fighting ring.” He crossed his arms, his biceps bulging. “What now, sura?”
She wasn’t sure what sura meant, but on Gren’s lips it sounded suspiciously like an endearment. Did he dare dismiss her as some piece of fluff on fighting grounds?
“Now we fight.”
He grinned, and the curl of his lips caused her heart to flutter. A curious heat pooled in her loins and to her horror she found herself fixated on the fullness of his mouth.
“If it’s a fight you want, sura, I’ll be happy to oblige,” he murmured sensuously. “Hand to hand?”
Imagining Gren’s hands all over her made her flush, and she shook her head. “Blunt weaponry.”
She didn’t understand why Gren had appeared in her dream at all, but decided to accept his presence. Since meeting him she’d been unable to strike the imposing man from her thoughts and unruly imagination. Perhaps her subconscious sensed this and chose to confront the source of her recent confusion head-on.
He flexed his arms and she stared at his muscular perfection. “I like risks, but if it’s practice you want, I accept. The winner chooses the prize.”
She frowned. “But you could demand anything.”
“And I will when I win,” he said with a wink.
In his wink she saw condescension and her irritation stirred to anger. Anticipating the heady blow to his ego, she clearly imagined him drawn and defeated by her hand. She taunted him with a superior sneer and was rewarded by a fire in his eyes.
A long, gnarled staff suddenly appeared in his hands. He bowed, then waited for her to attack.
Her blood pumping with excitement, a feeling that owed as much to anticipation of the fight as it did to Gren’s presence, she feigned a thrust and struck at his left knee.
Gren nimbly dodged her attack and stepped back. Waiting.
She lunged again and again, each time narrowly missing her aim. Gren continued to dodge and wait, as if toying with her.
“Engage, damn it.” She glared at him, wanting him to do more than parry and evade.
“As you wish, sura,” he answered with a throaty chuckle. “But do not be too angry when you lay flat beneath the victor.”
His arrogance chafed and had the effect he’d intended. Caught in frustrated anger, Temis nearly missed the signs preceding his attack. Like a whirlwind of fury, he lashed at her, catching her knee. Off balance, she rolled quickly to her left and managed to avoid a paralyzing blow to the shoulder.
Returning the attack, she swept at his feet. Her staff took his ankle out from under him. While he recovered from her blow, she regained her footing and regarded him warily.
He gave every appearance of a defensive opponent, but he’d clearly just shown his true nature, a deadly predator with unusually sharp reflexes.
She crouched low with her staff held perpendicular to her body, shielding her chest. He faced her, his staff in one hand, a large grin on his face.
“Sura, I like the way you fight. But my patience is wearing. Come, let’s end this.”
Before Temis could blink, she found herself flat on her back, breathless from the speed of his attack. He straddled her, his staff positioned just under her chin. Had he wished, he could easily have snapped her neck.
What in blazes had just happened? She stared in astonishment at Gren. He wasn’t even breathing hard. His chest rose and fell evenly, and his powerful thighs held her tightly within his grasp.
“My victory, sura,” he purred and tossed his staff to the side. “Now my prize.”
“Get off me you oaf.” She pounded legs as hard as steel, mortified at having been beaten so easily. Never before had Temis lost so quickly.
His legs tightened around her body in warning and he stared down at her with an unreadable gaze. Much as she wanted to deny it, his victory secretly thrilled her. Temis had never been drawn to the weak. And a man like Gren, handsome, aloof and powerful, made her heart hammer despite her mind’s protests. That he had beaten her with ease only added to his appeal.
The sheer strength he possessed stoked the embers of her desire. She could feel the force in his thighs, could see the restrained power in the corded muscles of his arms and chest. Her gaze traveled again to his thighs, to the juncture between them. His erection strained at his trousers, the heat of his arousal burning against her waist.
She glanced up at his face wondering at his thoughts. His eyes darkened to a deep lake green, swirls of energy empowering his gaze so that she felt she looked into the eyes of a sorcerer. He licked his lips and she stared hungrily, any regret at losing gone under a wave of lust so powerful she felt helpless to resist.
Just as suddenly, the voracious need faded. Gren’s eyes still looked impossibly dark, but not as intense.
“This is much better,” he murmured, and placed a large, callused palm over her naked breast.
Temis gasped. “Where--” Her breath left her when his fingers rolled her nipple. Helpless to look away from his face, she saw her desire mirrored in his gaze. “Where are my clothes?”
He grinned and leaned forward, grinding his erection between them as his mouth touched her ear. “In my dreams you wear nothing.” His tongue flicked along the shell of her ear before plunging deep.
She tensed, her loins tingling with need. She could feel moisture pooling between her thighs and chafed at his legs that kept her still. By Narok’s breast, she needed to move, to ease the ache building within her sex.
“Soon, love. I’m going to give you what you’ve been begging for since I first saw you.”
His arrogance knew no bounds, and despite her desire, Temis rebelled. “When I get free you’re going to pay for this.” She struggled against his hold and soon found her wrists pinned by an unseen force.
Gren rose to his feet, giving her the perfect opportunity for a well-placed kick. But her legs too were bound by something she could not see.
“Wider,” Gren said, and that unseen force spread her legs wide before securing them to the ground. “Beautiful,” Gren whispered as he knelt between her legs.
Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I've always loved writing, and used to create stories for my own enjoyment when younger. It's a need inside of me. And even if I never sold another book, I'd still write for myself.
What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I love being able to create new worlds and interesting characters. Personally, I'd love to be able to shoot fireballs at people who piss me off. But since I can't, I can create characters who can, and bingo...therapy. Sometimes I dislike how isolating writing can be, but a good writing convention can cure that.
How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I have little ones at home, so I write during their brief nap time during the day, or I can't get any time in then, I write late at night. It's a pain, but it's the only time I can find to write. I've given up on getting up early to write. I'm SO not a morning person.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
Normally my idea comes first, a bit of character and plot together. From that I build a world around my idea, and then work on the characters conflicts and natures before I start. The plot normally evolves as my story progresses.
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I typically write futuristics and paranormals. But I've also delved into contemporaries to shake things up. I love futuristics because I can create the worlds, the people and the rules by which everyone lives. Yeah, I'm a control freak in real life as well.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Some of my characters have similar attributes to the people I've met in real life, but none come close to being exact duplicates.
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
I love all my characters, but I have to say I'm very taken with Ethan Reaper from my upcoming Reaper's Reward. He's big, hot, and very alpha male, and he's got control issues of his own.
What would you want readers to take away from your books?
I want readers to get away from the drudgeries of reality for a while, to sink inside my story and revel in the fantasy I've written. Happily-ever-afters are there to entertain us, and that's what I want people to get most from my books.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Yes. To be a writer you have to write. Period. And rejection is part of this business, to if you don't have thick skin, grow some. That said, never let anyone tell you you're not good enough. You have to believe in yourself or no one else will.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Christeen Feehan's Safe Harbor. AWESOME book. And I'm looking forward to JR Ward's next Blackdagger Brotherhood book coming later this summer ( I believe.)
If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
Scarily enough, me. A writer.
5 stars: "Winner Takes All is a fantastic tale that combines love and passion with danger and suspense to produce a tale worthy of your keeper shelf. Marie Harte pulls us in from the very beginning and keeps our interest until the very end...Gren and Temis are delightful as the main characters. Gren is a man of legend and he certainly lives up to that legend. Temis is his match in every way. Gren’s inner personality is carefully unfolded using Temis as the catalyst, revealing him to be much more than a mercenary. The love scenes are as beautifully written as the fight scenes. The reader will not want this one to end. Kudos to Ms Harte for giving us such fantastic story."
- Elise Lyn, eCataromance Reviews
Winner Takes All by Marie Harte
$4.99 from New Concepts Publishing
Purchase Winner Takes All by Marie Harte HERE!!