I am so excited to be a part of this LGBT event on Scorching Reviews. It’s a great idea, and I am honored to be included.
In my paranormal romance Blood Vine, the primary conflict is between vampires and the Hunters sworn to exterminate them. So of course, I couldn’t resist turning it into a star-crossed lovers scenario. Still, the chemistry between human Pedro Torres and the Hunter, Lucas Bennett, surprised me from the start. And it gets turned on its head when Pedro becomes a vampire because the blood suckers repulse Lucas, and yet he can’t help but care for Pedro. There’s a lot more to their relationship, and I don’t want to give away its complexity, which gets even more hot and thorny in the upcoming sequel Blood Entangled.
But I did invite Pedro to join me for this LGBT event, and he insisted on turning the tables to interview me.
Pedro: So, why exactly did you include me in your story? With all Andre and Zoey’s drama, you had plenty to write about. You didn’t have to give me such a major role.
Amber: What do you mean? You stomped your feet until I included you.
Pedro: So now I’m like your token gay boy. *Sexy wink* Did you write me in so you could be cool, like J.R. Ward?
Amber: Not quite, smart ass. And since when do you know about J.R. Ward—have you been reading paranormal romance behind my back?
Pedro: *Grinning* You might say Blood Vine gave me a taste for happy endings.
Amber: Oh no, you did not just say that!?! *Covers Eyes* Can we at least pretend not to be raunchy?
Pedro: Okay, fine. But seriously, why did you give me and Lucas so much airtime in Blood Vine?
Amber: Besides the uber-obvious Romeo and Julio thing, you mean?
Amber: Two reasons, I guess. One is that among my acquaintances here in San Francisco, my LGBT friends have some of the best love stories, and plenty of them are stranger than fiction. So straight isn’t the only normal in my world, and the variety of loving lifestyles I’ve encountered is fascinating. I wanted the Blood Vine world to reflect that real-life diversity.
But it probably wasn’t until I started reading erotica and m/m fiction that I admitted my interest wasn’t purely intellectual. It turns out I find all kinds of stories sexy—it doesn’t so much matter what anatomy a character has and which slot they put Tab A into—as long as they are testing their limits; facing up to their pasts, their fears and desires; defying boundaries; and risking love. If their sexual orientation adds conflict in the story, that can be fun, as long as it’s not cliche.
Pedro: Mierda—you always make things so brainy. You could have just said gay sex is hot.
Amber: Fine. What he said. And more.
Pedro: That’s a long list of motivations. You really think Lucas and I qualify for all that?
Amber: Oh yeah. With his family issues, and your vampire issues, and that thing that happens with his brother that I am not going to spoil—you guys have plenty of courageous, sexy stuff to face up to. And, you always make me laugh, even when you aren’t trying to be funny.
Amber: See, you’re cute when you glower.
Pedro: Nice try mamacita, you’re not my type. But thanks anyway for letting me interrogate you. *Opens arms for hug*
Amber: *Accepts hug from hunky vampire* Anytime, handsome. And say hi to Lucas for me.
Pedro: You know we aren’t talking right now.
Amber: I do, and I also know what’s going to happen in Blood Entangled. *My turn for a sexy wink*
Bites are an inconvenient bliss, exiled vampires are wasting away, and the fate of their kind depends on the perfect PR campaign.
When public relations pro Zoey Porter arrives at an enchanting California winery, she discovers her sexy new client is the almost one-night stand she can’t forget. After her husband’s suicide, Zoey has vowed never to risk her heart again. But can she walk away from the intriguing winemaker a second time?
Driven from Croatia by his ancient foes, vampire Andre Maras has finally made a blood-like wine to cure his fellow refugees. Now he needs Zoey’s PR expertise to reach them. After his wife’s death, Andre has a vow of his own—never to risk another painful blood bond. And one taste of the tempting Zoey would bind him to her eternally.
An excerpt from Pedro and Lucas’s first meeting:
Pedro had only seen the yellow-eyed hottie that one time—strolling into the tasting room while he manned the counter. Lucas’s whisky-colored eyes were intriguing, so Pedro made a show of scanning his lean, powerful body.
Lucas returned the look, and the flirtation began. “How long have you worked here?”
“Oh, I don’t. Just helping today. I’m the assistant winemaker.”
Dark brows arched over golden eyes. “Really? Well, you make amazing wine. It’s a favorite of mine.”
A sincere compliment or a come on? Pedro didn’t care. It made him warm all over. “Thanks. What do you do?”
“I work in public relations. My brother has a firm.”
That was good luck—Andre had a sudden need for P.R. help. “Have any wineries as clients?”
“A few. Why?”
He slid a legal pad across the bar, and tapped it with a pencil. “We need some P.R. Give me the details, and I’ll pass them along to the winemaker.” With Lucas standing nearby, Pedro called Andre. “Hey, boss. I’ve got a lead for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Call Ethan Bennett at Bennett Public Relations. They might be a good fit for your branding project.”
“Really?” The old guy sounded almost hopeful. “Give me the number. I’ll call right now.”
Pedro read it off.
When he ended the call, he found Lucas watching him.
Lucas tipped the last taste of his wine down his throat, his Adam’s apple bobbing before he said, “Did you study winemaking in California?”
“No, in Argentina. I went to university there.”
Lucas winked. “Me encanta Buenos Aires.”
This guy made Pedro’s head spin and his knees weak, like he’d downed a whole bottle of wine himself. “Si? Yo tambien. Verdad, es un ciudad muy spectacular.” He poured a little more wine into the man’s glass, brushing his fingers where they held the stem.
Amber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.
Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that longing. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.
Her debut paranormal romance Blood Vine is now available from Omnific Publishing, and its sequel Blood Entangled will be available in July. She lives, works and writes in San Francisco.