#MFRWHooks ~ “She’s Mine.” (@KA_Raines)

For this week’s book hook, I thought I’d share an excerpt from The Infiltrator. In this scene, Keira is evading Seekers, independent contractors working for a human trafficking ring in the wake of the apocalypse. When she’s awakened from her hiding spot in the dead of night, she discovers she’s no longer alone.

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On the fourth night at the cottage, she was jerked rudely awake by a scuffling from above. Her sleep-deprived mind struggled to push back the panic that crept in and settled around her like a dark cloud. One hand closed around the revolver—the one with which she’d first planned to murder her husband—on her stomach as she bolted upright. She trembled beneath her threadbare blanket, nerves frayed as she rose from her pallet, tiptoeing through the pitch black to the bottom of the staircase. She held the revolver with a steady grip while listening to the noises of the cottage above. She was exhausted from only sleeping in two-to-three-hour stretches, but her senses were now fully alert as she detected another distinct shuffling noise followed by the timbre of male voices. Three at least, possibly more.

Her eyes flashed to the single window above the crates stacked in the corner as she considered her possibilities. The frame was narrow, but Keira had been thin even before the world ended. She could simply kill the men in the house above. It was the first suitable shelter she had encountered for miles, and it was an unusually cold night for this early in the season. Even with a roof over her head, the threat of hypothermia was very real, especially since the rain had started again. The ground would be frozen over by morning. Not wasting any more time, she marched to the window and stuffed her meager belongings behind a crate. The men clearly hadn’t yet discovered the cellar door off the small kitchen, but it was only a matter of minutes. Keira would wait outside by the cover of darkness and observe them through the windows, gauge how many she was dealing. She would likely wait until they were sleeping, slit the watchman’s throat, and then slip back inside and silently kill the others. She had long ago learned to do what she had to, and she didn’t stop to think about it. If it was a cruel world before, it had become something unspeakable now.

Keira clamored through the window and pressed herself against the cold stone of the house, eyes darting frantically about. It was dark, the rain still coming down in icy sheets, shocking her system, and rendering objects in her line of vision little more than shapeless masses.

“Weapons on the ground, and hands where I can see ‘em.”

The voice came from in front of her and slightly to the left, little more than a low growl that caused an involuntary shiver down her spine.

Her eyes shot in the speaker’s direction and her hands instinctively tightened on the switchblade in her left hand and the gun in her right. Her heart stuttered as panic seized it in an icy grip. Yet outwardly she remained calm. She’d dealt with Seekers more than once, but she’d take the Ghosts any day.

“Easy there.” He was stalking toward her slowly, and the large blur grew distinct, shaping into a lean, powerful frame and broad shoulders. A weapon—a rifle—was aimed at her center mass. “Don’t wanna hurt ya.” He was mere feet away now. Keira couldn’t see his eyes beneath a mop of shaggy dark hair, plastered to his face by the downpour.

“Whatcha got there, Derrick? That a woman?”

Her pulse fluttered in genuine fear at the second voice; there was something in it that chilled her blood, something unmistakably hard—and well-suited for this world.

“Nah, man,” the first man snarled as the second jogged out of the tree line, aiming some sort of bow at her. The rifleman’s free hand came up, stopping his companion forcefully in his tracks as he attempted to move forward and get a better look at Keira. “She’s mine.”

Buy HERE ~ Only $2.99 and always FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

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A virus has rendered humanity mostly extinct. Keira Starr is alone, staying alive by staying on the run, sleeping in empty gas stations and the trunks of cars long abandoned on the highway. The world is overrun by “Ghosts,” the mindless, bloodthirsty dead, but they are the least of her problems. She is being hunted by ragtag groups of ruthless men, independent contractors working for a mysterious human trafficking ring. When she is finally captured, she discovers that Derrick Caine, despite his gruff demeanor and appearance, may just have a different agenda altogether.

M/F, erotic romance, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi/fantasy

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#MFRWHooks ~ Sweeter Than Peaches (@KA_Raines)

For this week’s book hook, I thought I’d share an excerpt from The Infiltrator.

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He entered the kitchen, finding it abandoned since dinner had technically wrapped up an hour ago. Food was left on the serving line for the returning groups and for people coming off their watch rotations. Only a single server and dishwasher remained, the latter of whom was currently out in the hall playing a rather boisterous game of poker. The remainder of the kitchen crew had already finished up and gone back to their respective rooms to enjoy the remainder of the evening or else to get ready for their watches.

He found her in the back by the freezer, standing on the tips of her toes and reaching for a bowl of peaches on a high shelf. He moved up behind her stealthily, barely brushing his body against her back as he reached up and plucked a peach from the bowl.

Keira jumped in alarm and wheeled around, one hand shooting to the base of her throat. “Jesus, you scared me.”

“Shouldn’t let your guard down—not even in here,” he admonished. “An’ I ain’t Jesus.” He took a bite from the peach, not bothering to put any distance between their bodies as he stared down at her wide eyes and parted lips. Lips that looked even sweeter than the peach. He wanted to take a bite, but he refrained. “Whatcha doin’ back here?”

“They were out of fresh fruit,” she said, swallowing noticeably. “I was making you a tray…and they only had the canned stuff left out there.”

He grunted. “Mighty thoughtful of ya.” He took another bite from the peach, the deliciousness exploding over his tongue as the juice drizzled down his chin.

They were staring at each other, the heated tension between them as thick as butter when Keira leaned up rather abruptly, her tongue darting out and tracing the trail of juice that had escaped his mouth. He growled at the raw, wet feeling of her tongue on his unshaven jaw, which elicited a jolt straight to his crotch. His hands going to her hips, he roughly hefted her up onto the countertop while squeezing her ass and stepping between her legs that instinctively splayed for him.

“You stayin’?” he growled, lips on her ear as he nipped her lobe—hard.

Keira gasped at the sweet pain, hands going around his back and working their way under his tee while her legs wrapped tightly around his waist. “Haven’t decided yet,” she whispered, a tremor in her voice, and it was obvious that it had taken her a moment to process what he was asking.

Her whole body trembled against his in clear anticipation, and Derrick growled again, overwhelmed by the idea that she was as desperate for him as he was for her, but he was conflicted. This couldn’t end well. He wanted her to stay, but he didn’t know why. He didn’t want to want her to stay, and if they did this it would fuck up his head even more. He couldn’t give her what she deserved; he simply didn’t have it in ‘im. And he wouldn’t use her to scratch an itch, either.

With a force of will he hadn’t realized he possessed, he took a half-step back, and her legs slid from around his waist, releasing him only reluctantly. She literally moaned in disappointment and bit her bottom lip.

Fuck. He had to leave. Now. ‘Cause if he didn’t, there was no going back. He was gonna fuck her right here on this countertop, and that would be that, consequences be damned.

Derrick picked up the abandoned tray of food on the counter next to her as she stared up at him with lust-clouded, confused eyes. Her chest was still heaving when she slid to the floor on noticeably shaky legs.

“Nah,” he growled, more certain of his words than he had been of anything in a long while. “Y’ain’t leavin’. Are ya?” He took another bite of the peach, turned around, and left her there staring after him with ill-disguised yearning. He didn’t know where this was going, and he didn’t know why he cared, but fuck if the woman hadn’t already fucked up his head. He was gonna eat, get himself off again, and then sleep for a goddamn week—and put off the inevitable for as long as he could.

Buy HERE ~ Only $2.99 and always FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

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A virus has rendered humanity mostly extinct. Keira Starr is alone, staying alive by staying on the run, sleeping in empty gas stations and the trunks of cars long abandoned on the highway. The world is overrun by “Ghosts,” the mindless, bloodthirsty dead, but they are the least of her problems. She is being hunted by ragtag groups of ruthless men, independent contractors working for a mysterious human trafficking ring. When she is finally captured, she discovers that Derrick Caine, despite his gruff demeanor and appearance, may just have a different agenda altogether.

M/F, erotic romance, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi/fantasy

Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you!

Kari

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#MFRWauthor ~ I Like Big Flaws (and I Cannot Lie)

MFRW blog prompt: “As a reader, what attracts you most to a character?”

From literature to film, I am most intrigued by male characters who are psychologically damaged – yet not beyond redemption. I like the outcast or scoundrel who might be concealing a softer side (Han Solo, anyone?). I like complicated antiheroes capable of redemption (How about Anne Rice’s Lestat?). These men come in many different packages. They might be handsome and charming in the conventional way. Or they may hide behind snark to conceal their insecurities (Severus Snape?). No matter the genre or medium – novel, film, or TV – I want to see men who are imperfect and flawed, their facades concealing more than meets the eye.

As for women, make them strong, assertive, and confident. I want to see (or read about) The Walking Dead‘s Michonne kicking ass and getting the hero – even if the ass-kicking itself is metaphorical rather than literal – or Katniss Everdeen with with her bow. This desire is why I wrote so many strong female characters into my debut novel, The Infiltrator – probably the only female-dominated zombie novel ever written – while I portrayed male characters as more prone to emoting than the women. I wanted it to bend gender stereotypes (as well as bend genres). Also, I simply enjoy writing about broken, fucked-up men.

My character preferences for damaged men and strong women can be seen in my current WIP as well, which is also a dystopian romance featuring two empaths whose mental battles are sexually charged. For this novel I chose to use several tropes including fated mates and enemies to lovers – and even a couple I might have made up (is fuck or die a thing?).

Excerpt from my as-yet-untitled WIP:

She closed her eyes. Centered the surging energy. Felt the pressure behind her eyes once more, imagined it flowing outward. She could almost see it. See where she needed to center it. She focused on his mind. Felt his resistance, as solid as a steel wall. All she needed was a crack, a small way in, then all she had to do was squeeze

She screamed at the effort, and for an instant—just an instant—she felt his barrier bow beneath her assault. With a heave, she pushed once more, felt the fissure form. And then she was in. Just as she concentrated the energy and began to squeeze, she was bombarded by images: A small boy with dark hair crouched in a corner. And a woman crying—

Jahnna was yanked up suddenly by her wrists. Her eyes snapped open as she was shoved violently out of his mind once more, the connection severed. He was angry, but he was also…she didn’t know what he was. She knew he could hurt her if he wanted to, but he was just staring at her, breathing heavily through his nose. Oddly, she thought he might kiss her. If he did, she would bite him—hard enough to make him bleed.

Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts? What kind of characters do you like to read about?

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Bio

Hi, I’m Kari. I live in Longview, Texas with my children and cat. I have a passion for many things, including but not limited to red wine, horror movies, roller coasters, traveling, long walks on the beach, and pina colada. Oh, and getting caught in the rain. Naturally.

I realize that I’m a newcomer to the world of published fiction, but I’ve been a writer and avid reader since I first discovered my love of science fiction and all things Star Wars at the age of 11 or 12, a passion that evolved to encompass paranormal and horror in my teens when I found Stephen King and Anne Rice. Eventually, my tastes further grew to incorporate romance and erotica, and now my own writing is a strange hodgepodge of all the above-mentioned genres.

Despite having harbored a love of writing for so long, it took me a  long time to stop listening to the voice in my ear telling me to pursue something “practical” and do what I genuinely love. And then, of course, life happened. I joined the Navy shortly out of high school, and during that period, I did a lot of reading—I fell absolutely in love with the Harry Potter novels—but one thing I didn’t do a lot of was writing. After separating from active duty and getting married in 2006, I promptly began having children. I started writing again but didn’t attempt to publish anything. I experienced quite a bit of “success”—as embarrassing as it is to say now—as a Twilight fanfiction author, and that’s when I discovered J.R. Ward and the paranormal romance genre. Around the same time, I entered a writing contest judged by New York Times bestselling novelist Cassandra Clare, who chose my entry as a finalist.

I had just begun an original paranormal romance novel when, once again, life got in the way. I ended up divorced rather suddenly with two small children in tow, and I had to figure out how to start over. Since then, I’ve had other major life hurdles. I’ve gone back to school. Twice. First, I went to one of those vocational schools to obtain my medical assisting certification (I needed something fast). Then I pursued my BA in English from the University of Texas, almost a full twenty years after most people obtain their bachelor’s degrees. In the meantime, I’ve opted to remain single, worked to support my children as a medical assistant, and finally, years after my divorce, managed to complete a publishable novel. More often than not, I feel like Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party, but that’s okay. I I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve pushed through on sheer determination.