Today on my blog I have The Penton Legacy blog tour. On my stop there is a spotlight, excerpt, and review.
Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.
Following a worldwide pandemic whose vaccine left human blood deadly to vampires, the vampire community is on the verge of starvation and panic. Some have fanned into rural areas, where the vaccine was less prevalent, and are taking unsuspecting humans as blood slaves. Others are simply starving, which for a vampire is worse than death-a raging hunger in a creature too weak to feed.
Immune to these struggles-at first-is Penton, a tiny community in rural Chambers County, Alabama, an abandoned cotton mill town that has been repopulated by charismatic vampire Aidan Murphy, his scathe of 50 vampires, and their willingly bonded humans. Aidan has recruited his people carefully, believing in a peaceful community where the humans are respected and the vampires retain a bit of their humanity.
But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan's brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton-and Aidan, against whom he's held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland. Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan's own human familiars
To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor-and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago.
Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she's developing for her kidnapper are real-or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she's allowing herself to become a victim yet again.
Krystal Harris pulled to the shoulder of the two-lane road—highway was too grand a word—and punched the button to turn on the old green Corolla’s dome light. She counted to five before thwacking it with the heel of her palm, and a dim light blinked as if considering her demand. It stayed on—this time.
The car was a dinosaur, but it was a paid-for dinosaur.
She dug a folded Alabama road map from beneath her briefcase on the passenger seat, smoothing the creases to make sure she hadn’t driven past Penton, which she suspected was no more than a wide spot on a narrow road. She didn’t want to get lost out here in the boonies.
Yep, County Road 70. The highway to Penton just looked like the express lane to nowhere.
A gust of wind rocked the car, sending icy air around the loose door seals. Maybe the chill of this night was an omen that she should take this job if they offered it, just so she could buy a more respectable form of transportation. Still, doubts nagged at her. What kind of clinic conducted a job interview at nine p.m.? She should never have agreed to it, but the Penton Clinic administrator had waved big bucks in front of her huge college and med school debts, and she’d trotted after them like a donkey after a carrot.
“You had the goody-two-shoes idea of practicing rural medicine, plus you’re already here,” she chided herself, clicking off the overhead and pulling back onto the road. “And you’ve gotta admit, this is rural.”
Another omen, and not a good one: she was talking to herself. Out loud.
A couple of miles later, her headlights illuminated a battered wooden sign covered in peeling paint: Welcome to Penton, Alabama. Founded 1890. Population 3,275.
Twenty years ago, maybe. Krys had done her Penton homework, and that was the boomtown population, when the mammoth East Alabama Mill still churned out threads and batting. It had wheezed its final belch a decade ago, and the town had suffered a slow death by attrition even before the pandemic. The most recent listing Krys found online estimated a population of three hundred. She was surprised they could afford to hire a doctor, much less pay a more-than-competitive wage.
But this was what she wanted, right? A place to practice medicine and be her own boss, to find a community where she could belong? After growing up in Birmingham—the wrong side of Birmingham—she hated the grime and crowds and noise of the city.
Lost in thought as she approached the outskirts of town, she thought she saw an animal in the road—a deer or a bear, maybe—God only knew what wildlife lived out here. But it was a man. He wore a long coat that flapped in the wind and was backlit by a lone streetlight in front of an abandoned convenience store. She’d have blown past him if he hadn’t moved into the middle of the road when the glare of her headlights hit
him like a spotlight.
He stood with his hands in his pockets, feet planted apart, watching calmly as she floored the brakes. The Corolla’s old tires squealed, stinking up the air with the smell of hot rubber and stressed brakes.
Good Lord. Was he nuts?
She got the car stopped and took a deep breath, hands frozen to the wheel, her muscles jittery from the aftershock. The man walked around and tapped on her driver’s side window, motioning for her to lower it.
Krys’s foot hovered over the accelerator, indecisive. Should she drive on and get the hell out of here?
No, by God, she should not. She’d at least lower the window enough to tell the jerk how close he’d come to ending his life as a hood ornament on a green Toyota Dinosaur.
He held up his empty hands in a gesture of peace. Right. Like he was going to hold up a sign that said Beware of Murderous Backwoods Whack Job.
She snaked her right hand to her purse in the passenger seat, wrapped cold fingers around the handle of a small pistol, and slipped it into the pocket of her suede jacket—after she was sure the man had seen it. The .38 Smith & Wesson snub-nose was her security blanket, and she knew how to use it.
His only reaction to the gun was a raised eyebrow. “I have a man injured here.” His voice was deep and melodic, and he had a trace of an accent, as if he’d grown up not speaking English but had been around a few too many Southerners. “You the doctor coming to Penton for the interview?”
She lowered her window an inch and stared as he knelt next to the driver’s side door, putting his face at eye level. And damned if it wasn’t one of the most beautiful faces she’d seen since…maybe ever.
He’d pulled his dark hair into a short ponytail except for one wavy strand that had pulled loose and blew against his cheek. The streetlight cast enough illumination for her to see the dark lashes fringing blue eyes that reminded her not so much of summer skies or robin’s eggs but of the richness of an arctic sea flowing
over darker depths. They appeared to lighten as he studied her with an intensity that almost robbed her lungs of air. He had a strong jaw, full lips, and a slight cleft in his chin.
If he was a serial killer, he was at least a pretty one.
He cleared his throat. “Are you Dr. Harris?”
Krys caught her breath. Good Lord, what was wrong with her? She’d been practically drooling through a half-open window as though he were Adonis personified. He could be Charles Manson’s separated-at-birth, unidentical twin.
Except he knew her name.
With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal.
A Scottish gallowglass warrior turned vampire in the early 17th century, Mirren Kincaid once served the Tribunal as its most creative and ruthless executioner-a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the Tribunal's political machinations and disappeared-only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the Tribunal wants him back on their side-or dead.
To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren's bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch-meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer-actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn't believe he deserves?
It's a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and one woman who can make the earth move-literally-as the Penton Legacy continues.
What was Matthias thinking, throwing a human woman in the cell with a vampire who’d been locked up and starved for over a month?
Mirren waited on the bench, his back against the wall, his head down. Waited until Matthias climbed the steps, slammed the door, clicked the dead bolt home. Waited until he could get control of the hunger that had begun raging the second the woman stumbled down the stairway. She was unvaccinated, and he wanted nothing more than to take her, blood and body, until there was nothing left.
If he did that, he’d be no better than the version of Mirren Kincaid he’d tried so hard to leave behind. He’d be the Slayer again. His hands could too easily remember the mindless sweep of the sword, the heavy fall of the battle-ax, the controlled back-thrust of a heavy firearm. If the cold darkness ever fell over him again, he feared he’d embrace it.
“Mister, you awake?”
Shit. She would have to be a talker. Mirren hated a talky woman. They always expected you to talk back.
He raised his head slowly and caught his breath. She was young, maybe mid-twenties, and pretty in a rode-hard kind of way.
“Your eyes are silver—I’ve seen enough vampires since I was kidnapped to know when your eyes get lighter, it means you’re hungry. But I’ve never seen any like yours. How long has it been since you ate? Umm…Make that how long since you drank?”
If the stupid woman kept walking toward him, he wouldn’t be held responsible. “Stay where you are.” He narrowed his eyes at her, thinking. How could she help him without sending his need so far over the edge he lost control of it?
She eeked when he shifted on the bench and turned his back toward her. “Untie me.”
She stumbled a little when she reached the bench and sat hard. The woman was stoned out of her gourd. He could smell the drugs on her.
“Your wrists are all torn up. That has to hurt.” She sat on the bench behind him, and Mirren breathed in her scent with his eyes closed. Damn, but he wanted to feed so badly his muscles ached.
She muttered as she worked, her drug-addled fingers slipping off the rope. “You’re so big that I’m surprised this rope could hold you. I should be able to…Let’s see here, it’s too dark. Man, this is funky rope.”
“Stop yapping, start untying.” She had that broad, soft Southern accent he found sexy, but she used it way too much.
“Yeah, yeah, okay.” She tugged harder on the ropes, burning his sensitive wrists with each pull. “Sorry, sorry. Why is it burning your skin like that?”
Mirren growled and spoke through gritted teeth. “It’s laced with silver, and I’m a freaking vampire. Just untie me.” Damn, he had to get himself under control, or he’d scare the woman to death and she wouldn’t finish freeing his arms or feed him either one.
“Well, you’ve got the funny eyes, but I don’t see any fangs.”
God help him, he’d show her some fangs. “I said I was a vampire. Now finish untying me.”
Mirren twisted his wrists and felt the rope give way—the woman had gotten it loose enough that he didn’t need her help.
“But wait, how do I know you—”
She gasped as Mirren pulled his wrists apart, popped the rope onto the cell floor, and shifted around to face her.
“Can you…?” She paused and swallowed hard, edging away from him on the bench. Mirren’s gaze dropped to her mouth. “Can you feed without killing me?”
Mirren nodded slowly. Maybe. Maybe not.
The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton's humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal's vicious leader, Will's capture could doom the resistance.
Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will's polished charm and Randa's guarded heart finally give way to the warrior within.
Will stopped and scented the air again. There were two vampires nearby; one belonged to the Penton scathe, and one didn’t.
He ignored both vampires and skirted to the back of the street where the burned shell of his house still smelled of smoke and ash after three days. Aligning his position with the oak tree twenty feet behind what was left of his chimney, he paced forty steps into the woods.
A thorny bramble that had been draped over a small, scrubby bush pricked his fingers when he pulled it back. Grasping the trunk of the bush, he eased it from its loose grasp in the soil, exposing the top of a metal box.
The loud click of a cocked pistol preceded the cold press of steel against the back of his head by less than a second.
He inhaled, annoyed. A rookie mistake. He’d gotten so engrossed in his task he’d let someone slip up on him.
* * *
Randa grinned, enjoying the disgusted look on Will’s face. “If I were your father, I’d already have the silver spoon back in your mouth, Willy. He’d have you trussed up like a rodeo calf by now, hauling you back to wherever it is he lives when he’s not terrorizing innocent people.”
Will Ludlam was the kind of guy Randa Thomas had hated as a human, and she didn’t like him a bit more as a vampire. Less, in fact. Not only was he a spoiled rich boy, he was now a virtually immortal spoiled rich boy. He had probably been a blue-chip jock in school with a 4.0 GPA and a string of girls trailing his every step.
Plus, he annoyed the hell out of her. The consummate smartass.
“No, if you were my father, you’d have slit my throat—not enough to kill me, but enough to make sure I couldn’t fight back.” His voice was soft, calm. “Then you’d hand me over to your sadistic, freakshow of a second-in-command Shelton, who would play with me until I couldn’t take it anymore. Only when I was good and broken would you return the silver spoon to my mouth.”
Good God, would any father really do that? Will didn’t sound as if he were joking. Randa relaxed her stance for only a split second before the world tilted and she hit the ground, landing on her back with Will stretched out on top of her in a full body press. And he had her gun.
“Damn it.” She pushed against him but it was like pressing on bedrock.
He propped on his elbows and grinned down at her. His hat had fallen off in the scuffle and the moonlight glinted off his hair, making it look silver instead of a naturally streaked blond. And he had dimples, as if God hadn’t already rewarded him with enough in the looks department.
“And if I were my father, you would be dead. Or worse. Believe me, with Matthias, there’s always much worse. Give up?”
She squirmed again, but froze when she realized he was getting turned on by her movements. There was definitely more of him pressing on her than there had been a few seconds earlier.
He laughed, a white glint of teeth in the moonlight. “Oh, don’t stop moving, sweetheart. This is getting more and more interesting.”
Yeah, she could feel exactly how interested he was getting. She felt a very un-vampirelike flush of heat as he wedged a knee between her legs. Damn it. She clenched her teeth at her body’s betrayal—which he’d be able to sense. She hated being a vampire; there was no sense of privacy. “Get. Off. Me. Now.”
Will lowered his head and, damn him, inhaled deeply, with his face pressed against the side of her neck. Her carotid artery also thumped in a very unvampire-like cadence. She waited for the smartass comments to start.
Instead, he lifted his head and looked her in the eye. She could swear his heartbeat sped up, although it was hard to tell over the pounding of her own. Well, this was awkward.
He blinked and opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again.
Well, that was one good thing. Will had been stricken dumb, at least for a moment. It wouldn’t last.
I am a huge fan of vampire books and read them all the time. And this series did not disappoint me at all.
I thought that I had read every kind of vampire book but Susannah changed that for me. She puts such a unique spin on her vampires that it had me devour all three books back to back. I could not put them down. Oh and the males are so swoon worthy! They are the sexy alpha males we all love. But don’t ask me to pick a favorite male cause I just can’t.
I loved this series and can’t wait for the next book coming from Susannah. If your looking for a new spin on the vampire tale than pick up The Penton Legacy series.
5/5 Bloody Fangs
Thank you for stopping by my blog today. I would also like to say Thank You to Susannah for letting me review your books and I would also like to say Thank You to Bewitching Tours for letting me participate in this tour.