The TBR List
This Saturday I’m here to discuss something we all love, but most of us probably fear… the TBR LIST! To Be Read… those books that we really, really want to read, but haven’t yet found the time. We buy them, borrow them, put them on shelves, download them onto ereaders, stack them in piles… or create detailed spreadsheets (okay yes, I AM talking about me on that last one!) Bottom line – we all have TBR books.
One series that is near the top of my TBR list is the H&W Investigations series by Jess Haines. I have heard so many wonderful things about this urban fantasy series that tells the tales of Shiarra Waynest, a human detective surviving in a world full of Others: the vampires, mages, and werewolves once thought to exist only in our imaginations. I own several of the books – including the first story, Hunted by the Others. I NEED to read this series!!
Today I am bringing to you the author of the H&W Investigations series, Jess Haines. Jess, like most of us, also has a huge TBR pile, and on the top of her list is the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs (crap, that’s on mine, too!). Jess says “I have like… all the books on my bookshelves, and I LOVE her other books (I cut my teeth on her STEAL THE DRAGON long before she was ‘famous’ and quickly fell in love) but somehow never seem to get started on that one.”
While I have Jess here, she’s going to tell us a little about her upcoming release, Forsaken by the Others, the fifth title in her H&W Investigations series. Also, stick around and enter to win some great prizes…
Forsaken by the Others
July 2, 2013
paperback, 352 pages
Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head…and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town–namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy.
On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten–literally–in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them–and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge…
“You two are insane. First the Goliaths, now that ridiculous pretender? Do you have any idea how crazy that guy is?”
Sara huffed, folding her arms. “Do you have any idea how crazy it is that we’re being asked to find where this necromancer is hiding without the help of police or other authorities to track him down? Stop judging our methods and let us do our job. You have a better idea of where we should be looking? We’re all ears.”
Trinity shook her head and started driving, not saying a thing.
Even if she was of the opinion that Thrane was nuttier than a fruitcake, it didn’t deter me. I had been dealing with more than enough weirdoes since I had arrived in Los Angeles. The addition of a few more didn’t seem like such a big deal.
Clyde might have thought he was the Master of All He Sees and Then Some, but the reality was that he couldn’t be everywhere at once, and to have a slice of land in the middle of what was supposed to be his Valley—territory—whatever—belonging to another vampire meant that he didn’t have as tight a grip on his holdings as he would have liked us to believe. Plus, three of the attacks had taken place on the borders between Thrane’s and Clyde’s territories, which meant that Thrane might know which way the necromancer went, might have seen something useful, or maybe would be willing to help us if he was also losing people.
Granted, now that we’d stopped in front of what—according to Trinity’s sarcastic explanation—was supposed to be Thrane’s base of operation, I could see why Clyde had appeared more annoyed than worried when he mentioned the “Master” of this borderline slice of land between Burbank and Glendale. The neighborhood, though not as nice as the one where Gavin lived, or as nasty as that armpit in Sun Valley we’d stopped in, wasn’t real impressive, mainly small businesses sandwiched between apartments and old houses.
At first I thought Trinity must have been kidding. The place was nothing more than a run-down sports bar with dirty windows that obscured a dimly seen television mounted in the corner. There was a sign above the nearly deserted bar proclaiming they had a weeknight special on Budweiser and hot wings. Tucked away in a dark alcove on the side of the building was the door Trinity said led to Thrane’s hideout. It was so narrow that I would have mistaken it for the location of the building’s circuit breakers.
Sara and I approached the place together, wrinkling our noses at the padlocked dumpster only a few yards away from the entrance to the vampire’s hideout. This was nothing like the splendor I had seen vampires use to sequester themselves from humanity’s prying eyes. If I hadn’t gotten a nod in the affirmative when I gave Trinity a dubious look over my shoulder, I never would have guessed that Thrane lived here. It was either a terrifically clever front, or terribly sad.
Sara stepped aside, and I knocked lightly on the door. A muffled voice came from the other side. “Password?”
Nonplussed, I looked at Trinity, who shrugged. Confused, I said, “I . . . don’t know?”
The door—was that piled-on insulation held on with duct tape?—opened, revealing a guy wearing track pants and a T-shirt slung over his shoulder. His skin was frightfully pale, and his hairy stomach protruded a bit over the top of his pants. He grinned broadly at Sara and me, flashing fangs. “Ladies, ladies, ladies! Call me Mac-daddy.” He paused, then added thoughtfully, “Actually, if you’re here to see me, you can call me anything you want.”
Sara and I both hastily stepped back—probably a bit too quickly, considering the tragic look of disappointment that crossed his features—before a pleasant, feminine voice called out from the shadows behind him. “Mac, who is it? Get out of the damn door and let them in.”
He got out of the way, disappearing into the dark. This was no more reassuring. Particularly as a third voice called out to us, this time another woman. “Are you just going to stand there all night?”
Terrifying as the thought of walking into that dark pit was, we weren’t going to accomplish anything by standing in the alley. Sara fell into step behind me as I marched with what I hoped was a brave and dangerous expression into the vampire den.
If I’d thought the outside was bad, the inside was . . . bad.
A set of narrow, rickety wooden stairs sans railing led down about four feet into a cramped, narrow basement with a high ceiling. Fluorescent track lighting made everything take on a sickly, dim color. Someone had salvaged a large strip of puke-orange shag carpeting and laid it down on the bare concrete in the center of the room. The walls were beige and covered with posters, and there was a bulletin board that, at a glance, contained charming announcements like “Jason is a fag” scrawled in heavy permanent marker on scraps of paper between the job postings and concert flyers.
Though my own furniture in my apartment—cripes, did I still have anything of my own anymore? My landlord had probably dumped all of my crap out on the street by now. Ahem, back on track—though my own furniture was or had been of Ikea-level quality, it looked like the mismatched couches and chairs in this sprawling basement lair had gone a few rounds with their local Salvation Army store.
The vampires didn’t look much better.
Some wore jeans and T-shirts. Some wore stuff straight out of a goth fashion magazine. One wore a pizza delivery shirt and cap, obviously either just coming from or leaving for a job.
Now I understood why Clyde was so obviously disgusted when he mentioned this Jimmy guy.
“Mr. Thrane?” I asked the room in general, not sure which one of the vampires to address. There wasn’t much of a structure to this pack of misfits that I could pick up. The stuffy, musty scent and strangely echoic quality of the space, added to the cold due to the lack of body heat from the vampires, gave the impression of being at the bottom of a grave.
A frat boy’s grave, maybe, but a grave, nonetheless.
The vampire lounging on the couch in the back nodded, touching the brim of his top hat. It was the only article of clothing he had on that was in good repair. Once he moved his hand, I could see a tattoo or something under one of his eyes.
“Ma’am. Might I ask why you’re calling on us this fine evening?”
Well, at least he was polite. Sara, who had the look of rigid, forced politeness she often assumed when dealing with a client who made her uncomfortable, introduced us.
“Mr. Thrane, my name is Sara Halloway, and this is Shiarra Waynest, my business partner. We’re private investigators. We wanted to ask for your help and see if you might have any information that might lead us to a resolution of some difficulties for a client.”
“Wow, right on. Real private investigators?”
I glanced at the guy who had earlier been identified as Mac, giving him a look. He shrugged and grinned.
Thrane was not as impressed. “Fascinating. Really. But I would very much like to know how you two have heard of me and what you think I can do for you.”
My turn to field the questions. “We heard that you’re the ruler of some territory outside of Clyde Seabreeze’s control. If that’s the case, you may have information about who has been behind the murders and disappearances of Clyde’s people.”
Thrane’s reaction was not what I had expected. At all. His fangs extended, and his eyes blazed red as he shot to his feet, pointing an accusatory finger at me. “You’re working for that… that… usurper?”
Sara grabbed my arm so tightly, it went numb. The other vampires didn’t seem very impressed, watching us with bored expressions. Once my heart crawled out of my throat and closer to the region it belonged, I squeaked out a few words.
As suddenly as the anger had risen, it was gone. He blinked, and his eyes were normal again, the fangs retracting as he airily waved a hand at us. “Poofty von Metrofaggen can go find someone else to play his games. I’m not interested.”
“Jimmy,” one of the girls stage-whispered, her eyes comically huge in her heart-shaped face framed by inky black curls, “Jimmy, those are humans.”
I have never seen so many vampires so intensely interested in me at the same time. Talk about unnerving. Every one of them went deathly still—and I mean deathly—as their unblinking eyes locked onto us. It was like being stared at by a room full of china dolls. Hungry china dolls that are thinking about eating your face.
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Jess, thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us about your TBR pile and the H&W Investigations series!
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