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Recommended Reads Saturday: Beloved Vampire by Joey W. Hill

Beloved Vampire by Joey W. Hill is recommended by Jennifer B. I’m @DataDiva and a diehard romance fan. Happy to see erotica get some love with 50 Shades in the news but I know there are better books out there.

I am recommending this book because some books you read and you’re done. Others become a part of you in such a way they feel like a memory. Beloved Vampire is a stunning, compelling novel that deserves to be a part of vampire lore as well as a staple of the required reading list for any fan of erotic fiction. The book was my first erotic novel and a breath if fresh air at a time when Bella/Edward were all the rage. Bad things happen to characters, sex is used as a weapon and to heal, and for every page of the novel, you believe. You believe vampires like this could exist, you believe a woman’s spirit could persevere beyond all seeming endurance, you believe a human body – with all it’s flaws and scars, could be capable of nearly poetic sensuality. Hill creates a world that is logical, well-ordered, and rich without being overly complex. And while the male Dom occasionally seems one-note in his speech and actions, Hill establish he deserves it as a result of his age and history.

 

Beloved Vampire

The following is an excerpt from Beloved Vampire posted with the approval of Joey W. Hill


Clarifications for this excerpt: After Lord Mason rescued Jessica from the tomb of his previous lover and servant, Farida, he brought her to his South American estate. This is one of her first nights there. Though Farida has been dead for centuries, Jessica has a special connection to her through a journal, such that at times her thoughts wander and merge with those of the woman he once loved. Jessica does that to cope with the terrible memories she has of her former vampire master, Raithe.

Mason has marked Jessica so he can speak in her mind.

 

When Jessica rose abruptly and nodded her goodnights to Amara and Enrique, she was conscious of their scrutiny as she left the room. What would they say about her after she left? Why would she care? She had to quell an urge to bolt into a run in the hallway, escape the shadows at her heels.

In the horror movies, it was always the one who left the campfire first who got attacked by the monster. She firmed her chin. The stairwell was lit, and she remembered her way well enough to take only one wrong turn before she reached the hallway with her room. When she slid into her room, the dim night lamp was on. Then she froze.

The French doors were open, letting in the sea breeze, as they’d been this morning to let in sunlight. Her rational mind told her that. Still, there was a big black hole of night yawning in the corner of her room like a vortex, and the darkness that had dogged her heels closed in. She pressed her back against the door and told her heart to calm its pounding. This was stupid. She could walk over there, close the doors, and the night would not reach in with grasping fingers. The shadows in the corners would not coalesce and grab her, blind her and hold her, come at her with pain and wicked whispers, sly laughter. Raithe was dead. He was gone.

She slid down the door, wrapping her arms around her knees. Had it come to this? Needing someone in her room with her like she was a child? She’d managed fine all those months when sick. Yes, because she’d had something worse to fear, and because she’d been careful to ensure she was in a well-lit room by the time night fell. She’d been here less than a few days and her guard was already slipping.

No, she was fine. She was going to get up, walk across the room and close those doors any minute now. Leaving them open wasn’t an option. She couldn’t possibly go to sleep with that dark eye staring, unblinking, at her. In the distance, there was a dotting of landscaping lights in the garden, a couple sconces on the verandah, but not nearly enough. She tried to listen to the ocean and be soothed by it, but instead all she heard were sibilant whispers.

Trying to get a grip, she looked over at the bed. It had been turned down, the sheet dusted with flower petals. Then she noticed the basket on the nightstand and, more importantly, the aroma that came from it. Keeping one eye fixed toward the opening to the night, she rose and sidled closer to the basket to fold back the cloth napkin.

Chocolate chip cookies. Warm from the oven, a full dozen of them. Of all the choices of comfort food, it ranked as king, particularly to an Ohio girl so far from home. It didn’t matter that she’d had three small meals today, that her shrunken stomach was still full from dinner. Pulling the blanket off the bed, she backed to the far side of the night table. Wrapping herself up, she slid back to the floor, wedging in the corner, putting the table as a block between her and the open doors.

She slid the basket over to her with a finger hooked inside the edge. Cradling it in her lap inside the nest of the blanket, she withdrew a cookie and took her first bite. As she did, she fixed her eyes on the darkness outside the French doors and tried to see past it to the moonlight, the clouds shifting in the sky. Tried to calm herself with the smell of tropical flowers and quiet rush of the ocean, devoid of whispers.

Grudgingly, she had to admit Mason was right about one thing. He could heal her body, but her mind needed a lot of work. Okay, one step at a time. Tonight, being here in the corner was as brave as she was going to get. She ate another cookie, positioned her head on the wall and kept silent watch, bolstered by chocolate. Maybe she’d fall asleep in this position and wake when safe, fierce sunlight was bathing the room.

Jessica, you’re not in your bed.

His voice, a soft murmur in her mind, didn’t frighten her as she might have expected it to do. “Amara didn’t tell me you imposed bedtimes. I’m not six.” Even if she was camped on the floor with chocolate chip cookies and a fear of the boogeyman.

Get in your bed, habiba. You will be more comfortable there. And I am here. Nothing will hurt you.

“After I finish my cookies.”

Now. Or I come tuck you in personally.

Muttering, she rose, holding the cover around her, but swayed, staring at the door. “I can’t.” God, I’m pathetic.

Here. I’ll fix it. Don’t be afraid. The doors slowly swung shut, and she heard a latch close. An automated shade rolled down, completely shutting off the outside view.

“How did you—” But of course it made sense for a vampire to have controls that could remotely seal off every door and window with the push of a button. In daylight, she might perversely find that frightening, because it kept her shut in. Now, it brought some comfort.

Into bed, habiba.

She slid under the covers, putting the cookie basket close to hand on the pillow beside her, re-covering it with the napkin. There were several pillows, and she drew one close to her body, holding on to it as she adjusted her head on the pillow above it. She lay facing the door, but brought the cover up so she could tuck her chin down and not see it. She was six, if she was pretending that hiding under the covers would keep her safe.

That might not keep you safe, but I will, Jessica. Anything that wishes you harm will have to come through me.

“Even your own kind? When will you tell them about me? Turn me over to them? I know that’s why you’re keeping me. You’ve probably already told them I’m here.”

I will not be turning you over to the Council, Jessica. We will talk more of it later, but the only reason I am keeping you here is to keep you safe, until I can figure out how to let you live your life without being a fugitive from my kind. You may leave when I’m certain you will be safe.

She dug her fingers into the pillowcase, and for some reason the crisp, white fabric reminded her again of the bloodstained front of his shirt. She’d touched it, she remembered, felt the warmth of his body beneath it. It was a myth, that vampires were cold. Raithe, her old master, had had an insidious heat that emanated from his pores. Like Satan. Heat and brimstone pouring from his skin, lips stretched back from fangs, a venomous hiss heralding fetid breath, even as he turned everything inside of her cold.

Jessica, stop that.

She snapped out of it, to find that she’d dug her nails into her arm, deep enough to draw blood.

“I can’t believe you, Mason. I know you want me to. But I can’t.”

All I ask you to do right now is believe one thing. That you will sleep tonight without fear. I will not let anything happen to you for the next eight hours. Can you do that? I am with you.

She felt it again, then, that warm touch on her mind that spread through her body and settled over her like a cloak. “How do you do that?”

Magic.

“Right.” She tried for a snort, got a yawn. Burrowing deeper into the blankets, she stretched out her fingertips to touch the basket. She should thank Amara for the cookies tomorrow. It was a nice touch, even for a vampire’s servant whose motives she mistrusted. “What are you doing, anyway?” she mumbled. “Other than being a Peeping Tom.”

If that was my intention, it appears you’re sleeping in your clothes. And your shoes. Very disappointing. I’m sorting through contractor invoices.

Her lips curved in a sleepy smile, but she worked her toes under her sandal straps, let them slide off and fall out from under the covers to the floor, then curled her feet back under the comforter. Her mind drifted. “You’re sitting at a desk somewhere in this opulent palace, doing paperwork?”

Unfortunately, my magic does not extend to having checks write themselves. Or handling contractors trying to take advantage of my abundant wealth.

“How did you get so rich?”

Strip dancing in Vegas.

She achieved the snort this time, then she sobered, her eyes drooping further. “Those gifts, the ones in Farida’s tomb. They were beautiful.”

A silence this time, but it was almost as if she could hear him breathing. With her eyes closed, she imagined him beside Farida. Beside her. His breath stirring her brow, his hand stroking. He’d worn a heavy signet ring then, something amber, she remembered. The cool metal of it had touched her sometimes when he’d caressed her.

Sleep, my love. I’m here. His arms wrapped around her body, her head tucked under his. She’d never been happier than when he did this, held her so close, their legs tangled so one of his was between her thighs, one of hers wrapped around his hip as they slumbered, as if even then they tried to be as closely connected as possible. Sometimes her last prayer of the day was to the old gods and goddesses, the ones she still believed moved in the shifting sandstorms or hid in the cool waters of the oasis, living under Allah’s indulgence.

Great Beings, thank you for this perfect moment, which shall make all other moments bearable. Let me always do your Will, in gratitude for this great happiness you give me. To be his. To have his love.

She drifted to sleep, imagining herself with long dark hair that spilled over his arms as he held her. The sound of the desert wind rose outside, fluttering against the tent sides.

On the other side of his estate, Mason had his eyes closed as well, elbows braced on the desk as he drifted in that dream with her, felt the touch of long, black tresses mixed with the image of short, brown curls. Trusting dark eyes against wary gray ones, a lush curved body giving way to a lean, small-breasted torso. It had been difficult not to go to her, especially when she’d started to hurt herself, her mind floundering. But she’d managed it—by immersing herself in her fantasy. It had been so powerful, she’d taken him right with her.

Amara was right. Jessica Tyson wasn’t like the others. He just wasn’t sure what that made her to him yet.

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Guest Reviewer

13 Comments

  1. Mireya
    May 05, 2012 @ 12:37:15

    I have enjoyed Joey W. Hill’s work for years now (since I first read her books way back when she was published at Ellora’s Cave). Her stories were always emotionally compelling. I definitely give a thumbs up (in plural) to this recommendation.

    Mireya

  2. Jane
    May 05, 2012 @ 18:57:26

    This is my favorite romance of Joey Hill as well. Even though I recommend Natural Law more for its ground breaking BDSM femdom text, Beloved Vampire is a beautifully crafted romance. Wish more people would read it.

  3. Jennifer M (OR)
    May 05, 2012 @ 20:02:32

    My library has this one, so I’m excited to give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Merrian
    May 06, 2012 @ 01:35:36

    ‘Rough Canvas’ is I think, my favourite Joey Hill but I do have a deep love for this series as well, even the book set in 1950’s Australia. I think Joey’s protagonists have an essential purity of intention. Even when they are broken or mess up in the normal way of human beings/fallen angels/sea witches/vampires/etc., they are not lost to hope and they are trying to own who they are – that is live intentionally. Not all an author’s books always work well but I always admire Joey’s characters even when a story doesn’t quite do it for me. I also think she has blazed a path and set standards for romantic BDSM writing.

  5. LeeF
    May 06, 2012 @ 08:43:42

    I have wanted to read this one but haven’t yet wrapped my head around the price.

  6. les
    May 06, 2012 @ 15:46:10

    This is a gorgeous story. I love the whole series as well as her other books. Hill’s ability to push characters’ emotions to the limit without them becoming scenery-chewing one-notes is amazing.

  7. Miss_Thing
    May 06, 2012 @ 22:45:36

    Oddly enough, I just finished reading Beloved Vampire this morning, and then saw this post. Perfect timing! I’ve been on a Joey Hill book binge the past week or so. This is the first of her Vampire series that I’ve read, and I found it to be very moving – she has a real knack for getting to the heart of her characters. A lot of BDSM erotica is very Insert Tab A into Slot B, then add flogging, but Hill’s books manage to be both erotic and emotional at the same time. I highly recommend Branded Sanctuary and Something About Witches; I’m notoriously crusty, but the SAW has a couple of heart-wrenching scenes that brought a tear or two to my withered tear ducts.

  8. LeeF
    May 06, 2012 @ 23:28:51

    RE: Miss_Thing- “A lot of BDSM erotica is very Insert Tab A into Slot B, then add flogging…” LOVE this description!

  9. kamluen
    May 06, 2012 @ 23:51:45

    This was the first book I read as an introduction to ms hill’s world of erotica.its a very good tale.recommend this book and vampire instinct.
    However I love her latest witches series.in the company of witches n something abt witches.more mainstream.Derek and mikhael are fabulous heroes……

  10. Miss_Thing
    May 07, 2012 @ 11:02:47

    @LeeF: Thanks! I’ve been reading a fair amount of BDSM romance/erotica lately (but not The Book That Shall Not Be Named) and have come to the conclusion that it’s a challenge to do it well if you’re not writing straight out porn. (Not that there’s anything wrong with porn, but if that’s what I want, then that’s what I’ll buy.) I like the fact that Joey Hill explores the psychological/emotional aspects of D/s without resorting to cliches or stereotypes. I tend to prefer the books focusing on her Mistress protagonists, not only because they’re hot :-), but because you don’t see a lot of Domme heroines in romanceland.

  11. Anne
    May 08, 2012 @ 03:29:35

    @Miss_Thing:

    Curious, I recently read two of her books (Natural Law one of them) and found myself incapable of finishing either because they both were stereotypal, unsexy and representing BDSM in such a twisted wrong manner I found them to be downright revulsive. I agree however that there are very, very few books out there that are well-written.

  12. LeeF
    May 08, 2012 @ 12:02:14

    I enjoyed both Natural Law and the entire “Book That Shall Not Be Named” trilogy (read it three times so far) ;-) Am now starting Floor Time (Liz Crowe) and Bared to You (Sylvia Day). Just finished listening to Wicked Intentions (Elizabeth Hoyt) and loved that as well. I am appreciating the wide variety of options that are currently available and have found the recommendations/reviews/blogs on this website quite helpful. Thanks everyone!

  13. Joey W Hill
    May 12, 2012 @ 14:57:31

    Jennifer B, thank you so much for recommending Beloved Vampire! I love all my vampires, but was particularly drawn into Mason and Jessica’s characters when I wrote this book. I apologize for not commenting sooner. Had a family visit last weekend that threw a wrench in my time/space dynamics and so mistakenly thought the RR was today! Those kind of issues seem to be happening more often since I’ve passed 40 (hmmmm…). Anyhow, that’s neither here nor there. Just wanted to send you great thanks for offering this story as a Saturday Recommended Read.

    Thanks to all other commenters for your lovely words and discussion points about my work. Mireya, I’m so glad to have had you as a reader all these years and hope I’ll always deserve that honor. Jane, I’m deeply flattered by that endorsement of Natural Law (and LeeF, glad you liked it as well!). Mac and Violet really launched my career, so they hold a special place in my heart of course. Thanks for mentioning them, and Beloved Vampire.

    Jennifer and LeeF, when you get a chance to read it, I hope you enjoy BV as much as the others here. :>

    Merrian, wow – that was an incredible compliment. I appreciate it greatly. And of course you know I love my boys, Marcus and Thomas, from Rough Canvas. Love to write male/male, such that even when I write a menage, sometimes I have to remember there’s a girl in the mix (laughter) – that’s okay; I think the heroine gets a little mesmerized by her men’s interactions as well. There’s a deleted scene from Rough Canvas on the fan forum if you ever want to check that out (wink – you can find the link and access info on my website, http://www.storywitch.com).

    For those who loved Mason and Jess’s story, there’s also a FREE novella download on the forum as well, revisiting them. It’s called Taking the Gloves Off and a lot of the readers have enjoyed that. Oh, and there’s a free short story featuring Mac and Violet of Natural Law – a baby shower of all things (grin).

    Les/Miss Thing, you guys are doing great things for my ego this afternoon (lol), so thank you for that. And like LeeF, I love the descriptions “scenery chewing” and “Insert Tabs”…yep, as a reader, I’ve been there, and am always glad when I hear my books managed to avoid those sand traps.

    Anne, I’m so sorry you didn’t have a good experience reading my books. I always want folks to enjoy the journey they take with my characters, even when I know they’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

    Kamluen/Miss Thing, on a final note, I’m also delighted to hear you enjoyed Something About Witches, the new Arcane Shot series. Since this is my “lighter fare”, I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground to hear what the readers think, and so far I’ve been relieved to find my existing erotic readers as well as new, more sensual-preference readers are finding it a good read.

    Thank you again for the RR, Jennifer – I appreciate it greatly, and thanks to Dear Author for featuring the book. My apologies again for the delay in participating in the comments!

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