I stumbled across a blog post a few weeks ago where several readers were discussing the first two covers in my new Sisters of Darkness Series. They seemed very excited to read the series (which always is a good thing!), but one of their comments made me stop and think.
They said they loved both covers, but liked dark-haired heroes better, and hoped the heroes for Book 3 & 4 were also dark-haired.
Both my covers are wonderful (thank you cover gods!) and the characters on the covers actually do look like the characters in the books, which doesn’t always happen. The hero in Seducing the Succubus, Noah, has sandy-blond hair, and the hero in The Demon & The Succubus, Levi, has dark brown hair, and both men are very hunky and hot as the covers clearly show.
And just so everyone knows, the hero for Book 3 has blond hair and for Book 4 is dark-haired…lol!
But the readers’ comments made me wonder—do readers really prefer dark-haired heroes?
In my personal life I’ve always preferred darker haired guys, although in my pre-married days I dated blondes and even a ginger-brown haired guy. To be honest, I haven’t read that many books out there that stray too far from the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ hero. However, I like to vary the appearance of my heroes, and usually base each hero on the looks of someone I can picture while I’m writing—so an actor or someone I know personally. But I’ll admit I do play with the details like hair color and eye color so things aren’t always the same with each book. They do have to be someone who I find attractive—after all, I’m going to be in their heads during sex scenes, and looking at them through the eyes of my heroine throughout the book! Which probably brings up the question of who Noah and Levi are based on, right? 🙂 Noah is based John Cusack, who I have always thought was a very sexy guy—even though I gave the character sandy-blond hair instead of John’s black hair. Then when Levi came along, I needed someone who was not only sexy, but also a little larger than life – so who fit that bill but the amazing David Tennant.
I love all shapes and sizes of heroes and think that a little imperfection makes them interesting, but I’m just wondering if readers feel the same.
So now’s your chance to chime in. Is it a big deal to you if your hero is tall, dark and handsome, or can he vary from that mold and still find a place in your heart? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
(Leah here: to thank Cassie for being my guest today, I’m giving away a paperback copy of her Seducing the Succubus. Just leave a comment below answering Cassie’s question above. Contest will close next Monday night at 10 p.m. and I’ll announce the winner the next morning. I’ll be sending the book through Book Depository.com so it’s open to anywhere they deliver.)
And in the meantime, I’d like to share an excerpt from the first book in the Sisters of Darkness Series: Seducing the Succubus which released October 5th and can be found at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore as well as in electronic format for your favorite eReader.
Thanks for stopping by!
Cassie Ryan has always had a passion for romance and anything paranormal. And even in school was encouraged to put her writing skills to good use, but always with the admonishment to ‘stop writing the weird stuff and tone down the sarcasm.’ But what fun is that. So, in 2003, she finally decided to try her hand at writing a novel, but still firmly embracing the ‘weird stuff and the sarcasm.’
Cassie has had several different series published under different names, including the popular Maiden series as Tina Gerow, the Seduction Series for Kensington’s Aphrodisia line as Cassie Ryan, and has an upcoming series with Berkley called The Sisters of Darkness, also as Cassie Ryan.
An Arizona State University alumnus, Cassie belongs to the Romance Writers of America, and is a past president of the local Valley of the Sun Romance Writers Chapter and an active member of the local Desert Rose chapter. She’s an active speaker on several subjects including promotions, character creation,goals & motivation and more. She has spoken at several RWA chapters as well as the Romantic Times Booklovers convention paranormal and erotic panels.
Cassie lives in Arizona with her husband Jon, her son Darian, an orange tabby cat, and one spazzy black kitten. When Cassie isn’t spending time with her family, she’s usually writing, or at some various and sundry writer’s conference, workshop or meeting.
First in a sexy new series featuring four succubus sisters fighting demons and desires.
Jezebeth is living out the centuries as any succubus must-seducing men to survive and corrupting souls to make her quota with her queen, Lilith. But, when she’s attacked by a bounty hunter demon, it’s a handsome human who saves her.
Noah Halston is a horror writer who owes his life to Lilith. Now he must pay up by eluding the fearsome beasts of hell while escorting a very attractive and tempting succubus safely to Lilith’s lair-or else he will forfeit his soul to an eternity of torture.
Trouble is, if he spends too much time with the all too tempting Jezebeth, he may just lose his heart-or, even worse, his life.
“Dinner time, gentlemen,” Jezebeth said to herself as she raked her gaze over the many men crowding into the darkened club.
The heavy beat of hip-hop music thumped through the soles of her knee-high lace-up boots and made her heart beat faster as anticipation curled deep inside her belly.
A long mahogany bar ran the length of the back wall, and dozens of men crowded around jostling for their turn to order a drink. In the middle of the room scantily clad women gyrated on four raised platforms while colored laser lights panned over the audience in regular intervals, briefly illuminating the smoky atmosphere. Not that Jez needed the light. One of the perks of being a succubus was being able to see in the dark–not to mention sense and smell the sustenance-giving potential of those beings around her.
Her searching gaze fell on a large human male sitting at a back table with broad shoulders and just the right amount of muscle. A glowing aura of nearly white energy surrounded him like a pulsing mist, and Jez’s skin ached with longing¾the succubus equivalent of a stomach growl. The size and general health of the man’s aura told her not only that he’d feed her well but that taking his energy and tempting him toward good or evil would also give her great brownie points with her boss, Lilith, the succubus queen. Especially since Jez was behind quota this month–again.
Jez concentrated on the man and a slow warm tingling flowed through her as her body shifted to become whatever form the man most desired.
She glanced down to see her now-overgenerous breasts nearly spilling out over a tight-laced bloodred corset, her skin milk-pale and her body fully curved. She wore a tight black miniskirt and short black ankle boots that displayed a winding rose tattoo snaking up her right leg to disappear under her skirt.
This body was shorter than she was used to, and she had to crane her neck and stand on her tiptoes to keep the man in her line of sight over the tightly packed crowd.
Jez reached up and tried to fluff out her hair, surprised to find it short and spiky instead of long and flowing. She shrugged as amusement spilled through her. The preferences of men were wide and varied, and as long as they provided her with what she needed, she didn’t care what form she had to take to get it.
Well–that was almost true.
There had been forms she’d outright refused to remain in.
She shuddered in memory of some of the more bizarre bodies men had desired her to take and wrangled her thoughts back to the situation at hand–dinner.
Jez started forward, weaving her way through the crowd, her gaze fixed on her target where he sipped his drink and watched the dancer on the nearest platform as she spun expertly around the golden pole using only her muscular thighs.
As Jez neared, the man turned his head, and she could tell the exact moment he became aware of her. His movements stilled and his gaze did a slow and very thorough exploration of her from head to toe and then back again. When he was finished, his lips parted in surprise and the bulge just behind the fly of his jeans grew larger in response.
Jez smiled at him from under her lashes and wet her bottom lip with her tongue, suppressing a small giggle as she tasted strawberry-flavored lip gloss.
His blue gaze burned into hers for a long moment before Jez stepped close and straddled him, making her already short skirt ride up high around her thighs. She sat on his lap and pressed close against his erection. The sensation of rough denim against the sensitive skin of her bare pussy was exquisite. She rubbed herself against him and laid her hand over his chest, noting how his heartbeat thumped a strong pulse under her palm and the energy surrounding him surged higher, tingling against her skin in tiny static electric shocks.
To her surprise, he didn’t push her away or show any signs of protest. For someone with such a clean aura, she’d expected a bit of a challenge, but she definitely wasn’t going to complain.
She leaned in close to his ear and whispered, “Buy me a drink?”
His strong hand settled against her lower back, the heat from his skin burning through the corset and making her pussy throb in anticipation of what was to come. She pulled back slowly, allowing her breath to feather against the side of his neck until she could look into his eyes.
“Only a drink?” he asked with mischief and lust dancing in the blue depths of his eyes.
Jez smiled and leaned forward again so her breasts pressed against his chest as she brushed her lips over his.
His lips were warm, and he growled deep in his throat and then deepened the kiss, exploring her mouth long and slow.
The tangy taste of Jack Daniel’s made her smile. That explained his lack of restraint. A few more drinks would probably make her job all that much easier.
His kisses were a bit sloppy and clumsy, but he made up for that with enthusiasm and the promise of a great energy payoff in the end. With one large hand he cupped her breast roughly, the hot possession making her gasp against his mouth.
She kissed him again, hard, and the familiar tingling and liquid warmth sensation of his life-energy siphoning into her hummed through her veins, ripping a long moan from her throat. Jez sighed against his lips as her clit hardened and slick moisture formed between her labia.
This was only an appetizer, but already her gnawing hunger receded and her skin tingled with vigor. She threaded her fingers into the man’s soft hair, capturing him close as she continued to kiss him.
Two sharp taps on her shoulder surprised her and she turned, ready to deal with a bouncer or an angry girlfriend.
Instead, she found a four-foot imp.
It was shamrock green with two tiny yellow horns poking out the top of his knotty head. His glowing red eyes reminded her of twin laser pointers, and he smiled revealing jagged yellow teeth. “Mind if I cut in for official business, Jezebeth?”
“What the hell is that?” The man stood abruptly, dumping her off his lap so she landed hard on her bare ass against the cold concrete floor.
A high-pitched squeak escaped her just before sharp pain radiated up her back from the hard landing. She turned to glare at the imp, who only smirked and shrugged.
Jez pushed to her feet, pulling the short skirt down around the tops of her thighs as she straightened and smiled up at her now-spooked dinner. “It’s okay.” She gestured toward the imp. “It’s leaving.” She took a step toward the man, but he held up a hand stop-sign fashion between them.
He shook his head and backed away from her, rubbing his eyes as if he thought he might be hallucinating. “I think I’ve had a little too much to drink if I’m seeing things already.” He took one last longing look at Jez before turning and melting into the crowd.
Jez sighed as the hip-hop song ended and a slow bluesy number started up in its place.
Since no one else in the bar was running away in horror, the imp was probably shielding his true form from all the human eyes¾except the man she’d targeted. “Couldn’t this have waited another hour or so?” she said loud enough to be heard over the music.
“Lilith sent me to tell you Semiazas has escaped his prison and seeks revenge on you and your sisters.”
An icy chill of fear danced down Jez’s spine and bile threatened to inch its way up the back of her throat. She swallowed hard before she risked speaking. “How long do I have?”
The imp cocked its head to one side as if considering. “It took me several days to find you. Unknown.”
She swallowed back the fear that tried to smother her. “And my sisters?”
“Other messengers have been sent to warn each of them in turn.”
The sound of wrenching metal accompanied by an animalistic growl that prickled every hair on Jezebeth’s body grated through the air, sending patrons screaming and running in all directions. Sharp, hot anger churned inside her stomach, and she trained her narrowed gaze on the imp.
“You bastard, you led him right to me!” She reached out and grabbed the imp around the neck with both hands, lifting him off his stubby feet.
The imp kicked Jez in the stomach. Pain curled through her as the air was knocked out of her, causing her to loosen her grip on the imp as she doubled over. She rested her hands on her knees as she tried to suck in a new breath.
The imp’s smug laughter sounded from nearby. “I fulfilled my promise to Lilith, I delivered the message. And now I’ve paid a debt I owed to one of the bounty demons as well. It’s a good day all the way around.”
When Jez could finally draw a breath, the stench of fresh sewage crossed with rotting flesh filled her lungs and stung her eyes. She stumbled backward, trying to put distance between her and the demon, but by the intensity of the stink she knew it was already too late.
The sweeping laser lights showed the crowd of humans still streamed toward the exits. The bluesy music continued to play like a macabre accompaniment to the human screams, sounds of breaking wood and screeching metal.
Jez dodged around overturned tables and chairs, trying to lose herself in the crowd of stampeding humans.
As she neared the exit door, her survival instincts screamed and her gut clenched, surging adrenaline through her body as she whirled to look behind her.
A flicker of movement was all the warning she had before red-hot pain sliced through her shoulder and left arm and she found herself flying backward. Her back smacked against something hard, and her breath whooshed out for the second time in a few minutes.
She gasped against the pain, even as her brain belatedly told her she’d been slammed against the wall. A few long seconds later, she glanced up into the glowing red eyes of the bounty demon.