“I truly loved this book: the characters, the plot, the pace … once you start reading it you just cannot put it down. A first class performance from a writer at the very top of her game.” – SLH Reviews
Fantasy Rebel Limited announces the launch of Blood Shackles (Rebel Vampires: Volume 2) on 1st November. Blood Shackles is the second standalone installment of a compelling new fantasy series by the critically acclaimed author Rosemary A Johns.
The e-book is available now at the special pre-order price of $0.99 (£0.99). Click to pre-order today!
What happens when SPARTACUS meets VAMPIRES?
A hidden paranormal London. Light is the sexy rebel vampire of the Blood Lifer world. Since Victorian times he’s hidden in the shadows. But not now. Not since someone hunted him. Enslaved him. Ripped out his fangs. When he’s bought by his alluring Mistress, Light fights to escape. Even if he can’t escape their love. But if he doesn’t, he’ll never solve the conspiracy behind the secret Blood Club…
WELCOME TO THE BLOOD CLUB
Who are these ruthless humans? Who’s their brutal leader? And who betrayed the secret of the Blood Lifer world?
WHERE THE PREDATORS
London, Primrose Hill. Grayse is the commanding slaver’s daughter. The enemy. She buys Light, like he’s a pair of designer shoes. So why does Light feel so drawn to her? Ashamed, he battles with his desire, even as he burns for her. Can a slave truly love his Mistress? Especially when his family is still in chains. Will he risk everything – even his new love – to save them?
BECOME THE PREY
Does a chilling conspiracy lie behind it all? A stunning revelation leads Light to an inconceivable truth. To the dark heart of the Blood Club. If he can face his worst terrors, he can save his family and his whole species from slavery.
Maybe he can even save himself.
‘Yeah, it is rather parky, darlin’.’
You gaped at me, as if you’d been expecting me to speak some strange Blood Lifer tongue and not the Queen’s English. Like you hadn’t assumed I’d sound…human. Then you gathered yourself together. ‘Here,’ you led the way to a sheltered trio of arches. ‘Better?’
‘Almost like I wasn’t starkers.’
You gave a tight smile.
I leant against a column, as I had a gander back at the silhouette of the great house, its steep terrace, the wood encircling it beyond and the drive sweeping down to it, between the dark sentinels of oaks.
In some screwed up world, this was the worst Jane Austen scene ever.
Well, maybe not ever…
You were giving me these quick, surreptitious looks. ‘This is, like, fried.’
I shrugged. After the year I’d had, this new twist to my existence had some dead stiff competition in the fried department.
You edged closer. ‘You don’t have to look so scared; I’m not gonna scoop ya.’
I raised my eyebrow. ‘Good to know.’
That flummoxed you.
You ran your fingers nervously through your ash blonde hair, which hung in a bob to your shoulders. I had the sudden thought of how soft it’d feel on my lips…and then wanted to scrub my brains out.
I haven’t long been alone – utterly, truly alone – since my first death. Since I lost the only person, who mattered to me in this brutish world, I feel too easily.
Us Blood Lifers do that; every emotion is amplified.
‘I didn’t want…one of those broken things. Though you’ve gotta be soft making trouble for daddy. He’s the one, who’s insisting I buy one of you. He’s eager for me to learn about the business now I’m back. It’s not like I want…’ Embarrassed, you looked away.
‘Don’t worry, I wouldn’t want me either.’
‘Naw, it’s just…I’ve never even looked after a dog before.’
‘Lucky I’m not a mutt then.’
‘So I’m behind the times because I died a Victorian?’
Your cool gaze seemed to be sussing me out. ‘You don’t look Victorian.’
‘Didn’t exactly stay dead.’ I pushed away from the fireplace, jumping up to sit on the arm of the leather sofa. I scrutinized your serious features and those intent grey peepers. ‘You really don’t know anything about us Blood Lifers, do you? How we evolved or–’
‘I know enough.’
Surprised, I drew back. ‘As in, only good Blood Lifer’s a dead Blood Lifer?’
You shot me a sharp look. ‘You wouldn’t be here, if that’s what I thought.’
‘Alright then, as in, only good Blood Lifer’s one in shackles?’
Your mouth tightened into a thin line. ‘And what about humans? Do we come in small, medium or large?’
‘In America you can supersize.’ I grinned, but you didn’t return it: some birds have no sense of humour. Of course, Ruby would’ve clocked me for that comment. ‘Look, that’s not who I am now. I’ve been on blood abstention for fifty years.’
Your voice was so cold it could’ve given frost bite. ‘Good for you.’
‘Not asking for a medal, sweetheart. I just wanted you to know I don’t… Not First Lifers. Not for a long time.’
‘Makes no difference to me.’
‘It does to me. You’ve no idea how much.’
‘OK.’ You turned back to your laptop, opening it with an air of indifference. Then there was that blasted clack clacking.
I listened for a moment in silence. Then I couldn’t hack it any longer. ‘What does?’
‘What?’ You didn’t stop typing or look away from the screen.
‘Make a difference to you?’
You didn’t even pause. ‘The profit margin.’
You grabbed my hand, dragging me after you down the warren of side streets behind the shops.
It was pelting down now. Even though I was soaked, I was still buzzing from the barney.
At last you stopped, shoving me up against a brick wall at the back entrance to a butcher’s.
‘Look,’ I said hurriedly, ‘I’m sorry about–‘
Questioningly, I tilted my nut. Your lips were close to mine. All I’d need to do was…
You pulled back (of course you bloody did), even if you were still clutching onto me, as if my body was yours.
Because no matter what other nasties you might do with it, you’d never kiss your slave, would you?
Then you suddenly hauled me closer, and we were snogging.
At that moment, none of it meant anything.
Slave or Mistress. First Lifer or Blood.
It never does when skin meets skin. It was just Light and Grayse.
So it was a good kiss. To me, it changed everything. But to you?
‘If you would be so kind, some of us are trying to feed in peace.’ A nasal but polite Turkish Blood Lifer popped his nut up from further down the alley.
He licked down the neck of a twitching First Lifer bird, who was propped up against a skip.
When you shrieked and tried to jerk away, I held you still by the wrist.
I shrugged. ‘Yeah, my mistake.’
Your peepers were now flint.
I started edging you backwards out of the shadows. Now wasn’t the time to give you a crash course on Blood Lifer dinner etiquette.
It seems, however, that our Turkish friend was determined to educate me. ‘You know, young one, it is most inconsiderate to interrupt a fellow’s kill. I had no intention to do so with yours.’
‘London’s not yours.’
I stiffened. ‘The Lost have walked these streets as long as you humans,’ I whispered, low and intense, ‘which makes them ours, as much as yours.’
I might as well have clouted you. You drew back, with a shiver. ‘You hunt here – parasitically. But England? The world? It belongs to us. You’re just…’
‘Parasites?’ I offered. You didn’t even have the decency to look away.
‘These are my streets,’ you tapped the sticky table for emphasis, in a boozer, street, postcode you’d never have ventured into, if it hadn’t been for me.
I took a drag of my e-cig. ‘Over hundred and fifty years says different, sweetheart.’
You wore that narked expression, which I’d hoped we’d left behind for the night. ‘My home. Not yours.’
‘Any reason it can’t be both?’
‘On account of you’re…’ You stopped yourself, pushing your Guinness away with a jerky shove. Your shoulders slumped. You finished softly, ‘…not human.’
‘Right. Because I’d missed that.’ I took a mouthful of nuts, munching thoughtfully. You’d withdrawn hermit-crab like, your hair falling in two curtains over your mug. ‘There were humans once, who thought like you, the last time a Blood Lifer had the courage to reveal himself to a First Lifer. It was one of my ancestors. A man of reason, in an age of superstition. He reckoned our two species could live out in the open – side by side – so I was told. These First Lifers? They thought he was the devil.’ You’d raised your nut. I could see your peepers – dark grey now – through the veil of your hair.
‘They burnt him.’
As a reviewer and an avid reader there are 5 stars for review. One star is incredibly horrid, boring or just thoughtless writing. We’ve all read, or at least tried to give a shot to these books and tried not to blow our brains out in the process. For me, two stars maybe had the potential of a decent storyline but they didn’t do it justice or the beginning held potential and then the writer skips all the important parts and you’re lost as to what you’re reading. Three stars is decent writing but you just couldn’t get into it. Someone else with different tastes may love it though. Four stars is a good storyline and decent plotting, even a strong voice from the author and good characters. Five stars is when you wait on bated breath to find out what will happen next; you have trouble putting it down knowing you’re going to be a zombie the next day. Where you fall in love with the characters, laugh and cry with them, rage and smile with them. Five Stars means that you’re pulled in, a part of the action going on. It becomes your reality. The authors voice so strong, you feel every tear they shed and every laugh they belted out.
Blood Shackles: Rebel Vampires Volume 2 by Rosemary A Johns is my five star read. This novel was gut twistingly intense. Telling his story with a notebook entry, Light is a rebel Blood Lifer who has abstained from drinking human blood for 50 years. He’s captured and turned slave, or so they think. Grayse is the youngest daughter of the Cain family who is doing the capturing, slaving, torturing and killing of Blood Lifers. She picks Light, renamed Shadow by his captors, because he’s not broken. Grayse has no clue what really goes on in the dark cells, the humiliation and degradation, the horror and the pain, as she starts to work for the family business. There’s so many secrets and the suspense will drive you wild. The twists and turns to this incredible story will give you whiplash. I just couldn’t put it down. This Standalone novel left me drooling for more Light!
You have to read this series folks or you will miss out on the authors strong voice that just pulls you in, her emotion tangible. You will miss the love that Light has to give. You will miss the powerful, heart-rending rollercoaster that jumbles all of your thoughts and feelings and then puts them back together again piece by bloody piece. Yes, I give this second installment a five-star rating and cannot wait for the next book to come out!
*Voluntary review of Advance Reader Copy. I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher*
Interview With Rosemary A Johns!
‘Sqwee! Fan Girl Moment’
Q. What books have most influenced your life?
A. I’m a fantasy fanatic. Seriously. Combine the fantasy with our world in particular – the paranormal beneath the surface – and I’m sold. There’s something about the thin line between humanity and the monsters. Or what being human even means. This is at the heart of the Rebel Vampires series. When I was eight I injured my leg. Badly enough to be on crutches for six months. This forced me into an already vivid inward world. At that time my parents had a large collection of fantasy and science fiction books by British authors. I devoured them. They transported me to different worlds. But most importantly taught me how those worlds could challenge our own. That’s a lesson which has never left me. When I was fourteen, I submitted my first short story – a comedy science fiction. The magazine didn’t know I was a kid. It was accepted. That was the start of my writing career. So although I’ve written in a host of genres – fantasy and science fiction returns me to where it all began.
Q. How do you develop your plots and characters?
A. Me? I’m a plotter. I plot very carefully. And far in advance. I know the end of a book (exclusive here – the end of the series), before I even start writing. My books are rich, deep and – I hope – more satisfying for it. My characters scream to be born. They’re only chosen when they’re ready. I know their favorite music, clothes and pasts – even if those elements are never used in the books themselves. If they’re real to the writer, they’ll be real to the reader too. I fall in love with certain characters. I put them deliberately through the very worst life can throw because that’s what makes for a thrilling read. And redemption? Doesn’t come cheap. But I live it alongside my own characters. I guess it’s like method acting. Only method writing.
Q. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the storyline within your book?
A. Blood Shackles is the second book in the Rebel Vampire series. The first book in the series – Blood Dragons – was released in August.
Rebel Vampires is set in the supernatural world of Blood Life, where vampires are both predator and prey. In a secret paranormal London, society is divided between First Lifers (humans) and Blood Lifers (vampires). I love vampires. But I wanted to write a vampire book for adults. Where they were not simply the hunters but also the hunted. They’ve always hidden in the shadows. But their whole species – and even the world – is threatened when at last they’re dragged into the light.
The idea for Blood Dragons was sparked by my autistic son. He has a photographic memory. Light (the Blood Lifer in both books) has a talent for remembering things too. I wondered what it would be like to live through the centuries witnessing glorious wonders and devastating horrors. And remembering everything with the clarity of a photograph.
Blood Dragons is out now (e-book and paperback).
There are three people in this affair…and two of them aren’t human. A rebel, a red-haired devil and a Moon Girl battle to save the world – or tear it apart.
In my latest book – Blood Shackles – the idea was sparked by freedom. Or the loss of it. Human trafficking and slavery. Here in England the increase in human slavery (of both women and men), has been startling. But I wanted to twist it. What would happen if it was the Blood Lifers, who could be trafficked? Like Taken with vampires. Light is forced to write a slave journal for his new Mistress: but can a slave truly love his Mistress? Or a Mistress their slave? What different types of freedom are there? And can Light free his family, his whole species – even himself – from their chains?
WELCOME TO THE BLOOD CLUB – WHERE THE PREDATORS… BECOME THE PREY.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A. I said above that I method write. In Blood Shackles I needed to get into the mind of a slave. But also how that slave could be broken. And then put back together again… That was the hardest thing.
I was Sir. I was Master. And I was Light – defiant and then broken. Although writing Light unleashed was glorious…
I want my readers to experience every second with their breath held… these are dark romances with a thriller edge. I wrote it as a slave journal because it needed to be immediate and direct. And for Light to be able to play games… Reliable narrator? Yeah, as Light would say, ‘I should cocoa.’
‘So, dear Reader (because I know you’re reading this, there’s no use pretending otherwise), did you reckon giving me this poncey journal – all softness and stink of leather – would make me spill my Soul? You already have my body. You think you have my mind.
My thoughts, however..? They’re my own.
Write in it every day, you’d ordered, with that little smile.
What do you think this is: Bridget Jones’s Diary?’
Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
A. Light is chosen by the slaver’s daughter, Grayse, like a mutt picked up in a pet shop. She keeps him in her apartment in Primrose Hill. He persuades her to allow him one night only of freedom. One night to show her the other face of London: ‘the dark and the glory’.
My dad is a Londoner. I love London. All sides of it. In Rebel Vampires I was excited to write about London as a character in itself. And I wanted to explore it, as Light does. So there’s a scene where Grayse is introduced to Peckham and for the first time, they draw closer together. As man and woman, rather than Mistress and slave.
‘We jumped out on a random street, which turned out to be Rye Lane. It didn’t matter where we were: it simply needed to be different. New to you. Fizzing with the night-time Blood Lifer energy.
If I was only getting one shot, then I needed to make sure it was high dose.
I had a plan (half-arsed but it was all I had), to drag you into the real world of the twenty-first century.
Only when you connected with your humanity and the truth of the dirty, dark but beautiful world on your doorstep, would you understand us Blood Lifers – or be fagged about what was happening to us on a global stage.
I’ve spent, however, my First and Blood Life copping it – once quite literally – because I try to play the hero.
I know you can’t figure it: seeing a Blood Lifer in that role. But I have business to sort. I’ve made promises. And I’m enough…recovered to know I will find a way to keep them.
So the plan was to open your peepers. And yeah, I definitely managed that.
You turned round on the spot, bewildered.
I grabbed you by the waist and spun you, as I scented the bus fumes, fresh fish, chicken and vegetables in a kaleidoscope of aromas. A police car – all blues and twos – blared past. A streak of flashing neon in the black. Music boomed from behind shuttered shops. Songs in so many different languages and styles, they melded into one: a babble of noise. Rubbish spilled in stinking piles in the shops’ doorways: the ugliness and the grime, which we all dirty ourselves in when we step out into the world.
Blokes in white shirts swaggered down the street, as if they personally owned it. They catcalled to birds, who wore such an array of vibrant costumes, it reminded me of Carnaby Street in the 1960s.
My heart soared, and I let it – just for that second.’
Q. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
A. I learned how far people will go to save their family. And that family can be made – it’s our choice. In fact Blood Shackles made me question every aspect of our lives, which we take for granted. Freedom ‘means so little, until you lose it’. But also what courage is – to be terrified but to be able to face those fears. Your very worst demons. And overcome them for the sake of others. Light has always been a loner and a rebel but in this book he realizes what family can mean. And what he’ll sacrifice to save it.I also learned that there are already things lurking in the shadows of our world, which vampires would rightly fear. What is true darkness? In Blood Shackles it lies not with the vampires but within the humans. And not with obvious cruelty but with a drive for profit. Cold numbers on a page. Surely we can all see that around us? And fear it.
Q. What are your future project(s)?
A. Next year I have Blood Renegades coming out in spring. It’s the third book in the Rebel Vampires series.
Light has only two weeks to give his witness to a Blood Life inquiry, on trial for his life, before he’s burnt at the stake – because who wants to hear the truth? There will be ancient Long-liveds, conspiracies and of course dark romance. There may even be revolution…
I will also start work on another fantasy series. That’s as far as I can say just now…but it will, of course, have a dark romance and rebel at its heart. And a thriller edge.
Q. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
A. If I couldn’t be an author, I’d still be writing… But just for me. Career wise? Currently, I care for my son. But…if this is a magical fairy tale land we’re in anyway… I love kids and teaching. I’ve tutored before and my dad was a teacher. In fact I grew up in the grounds of an all-boys boarding school in Oxford where he taught. So I’d like to teach history. I have a BA and Mst from Oxford in history. It’s one of the reasons I love vampires so much – I can play with any time period I like. Light was elected into Blood Life as a Victorian, so that gives me 150 years… Ruby (Light’s Blood Lifer lover in Blood Dragons), was elected as an Elizabethan, which is my specialist period – and my favorite. Another bonus? I love researching my books.
‘Ruby and I swaggered through the shadowed streets, towards the promenade and Palace Pier – her in crimson silk, me in military Great Coat – two creatures from another world and time, unnoticed by these petty First Lifers because we weren’t painted in the colours of their tribe. We twirled each other round, dancing in the carnage and the flames.’
Q. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
A. I love connecting with readers. I love reading their reviews and knowing what’s moved or thrilled them. Sometimes readers Facebook their favorite lines – the ones, which made them laugh or cry. I also have free Questions For Book Clubs. Please do share these with your physical or virtual book clubs; I do like a good discussion!
You can follow my blog and see my website.
I hold contests for readers each month and you’ll find plenty of other free stuff, reviews and features.
Subscribe to my VIP Newsletter with news of releases, promotions and my free short story “All the Tin Soldiers”.
I’m also a Goodreads Author:
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to the Fantasy Rebel Fans?
A. I appreciate all my readers! I don’t write for myself. Although I’d always write – the worlds in my head are too raucous not to – once it’s down on the page it belongs to the readers. I love to know readers’ views in their reviews – which is why I always say reviews are better than chocolate (and I really love chocolate!). Let the world know your thoughts on Amazon and Goodreads. Fantasy Rebel also have a VIP Advanced Reader List for their digital books. If you’d like to be considered just email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blood Shackles is available for pre-order and is out on the 1st November. Blood Renegades is out spring 2017. Next year I’ll be working on a new fantasy series and possibly another work in the Rebel Vampires world as well. I live in England – but for writing or book groups I may be able to join you via Skype. Just drop me an email. In fact the same goes for questions…or random thoughts. Thanks and enjoy your escape into Blood Life!
About The Author:
ROSEMARY A JOHNS is a traditionally published author of short stories under the name R. A. Johns. She is the author of Blood Dragons the compelling first installment of the Rebel Vampires series.
Rosemary A Johns wrote her first fantasy novel at the age of ten, when she discovered the weird worlds inside her head were more exciting than double swimming. Since then she’s studied history at Oxford University, run a theatre company (her critically acclaimed plays have been described as “uncomfortable, unsettling and uneasily true to life”), and worked with disability charities.
When Rosemary’s not falling in love with the rebels fighting their way onto the page, she heads the Oxford writing group Dreaming Spires.
Blood Dragons is her debut novel as Rosemary A Johns. Amazon
Blood Shackles is the second book in the Rebel Vampires series. It’s released on the 1st November 2016 and is available now on pre-order: Amazon
Sign up to Rosemary A Johns’ VIP Email Newsletter with news of hot releases, promotions and the free short story “All the Tin Soldiers”.
Photo Credit: Neil Hanson Photography