A Good Year
Unhallowed Love Book 1 by Tara Fox Hall Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Faced with losing Pandora Productions as well as her best friend Rebecca to the smarmy Paul, savvy film executive Debbie makes a pact with the demon Shaker, agreeing to bind herself to him as his human master in return for killing Paul and securing Pandora’s future. Yet even as Pandora gains accolades and renown, Debbie’s strong resolve begins to crumble under the weight of her actions. And the pleasure she finds in Shaker’s arms is becoming more than sex. Is Debbie doomed to lose her heart as well as her soul to a demon who has only been waiting for the chance to claim both?
“I never asked you to kill anyone,” Debbie said defensively. “I never asked you to—”
“You asked me to save your company, and I’ve done it,” Shaker shouted, the boom of his voice shaking the room like a small earthquake. He loomed over her. “What did you think was going to happen? I’m a demon out of Hell! What did you think I would do when you unleashed me on your enemies?”
“These are human beings—”
“Who matter as much as insects splattered on a windshield,” Shaker snarled. “Humans are just another species who think that they are superior to all others…a prevalent notion in all evolved creatures. They are not.” He stared down at her. “You are not superior to me, Mistress.”
Debbie looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. “But I am human. How do I know you won’t hurt me, too, Shaker?”
“Honestly?” he said gruffly, his expression softening. “You don’t. But the same could be said of any human man you know, Mistress.” He leaned in closer, tilting his head. “And I kiss better than most.”
Debbie didn’t know what to do when the demon’s lips met hers. She leaned back involuntarily, but Shaker just leaned forward farther, his lips pressing hers. His kiss was nothing like she’d expected it to be: not brutally strong, or too hot, or even too provocative. It began as a chaste kiss; gentle, languid, warm, with just a hint of passion to come if the merest sign was given. The longer it went on, the hotter Debbie got, the urge to open her mouth growing each moment. Just as she gave in and relaxed into Shaker’s embrace, he pulled back from her, ending the kiss, his red eyes staring into hers, his desire mirroring her desire.
Year of the Demon Unhallowed Love Book 2
CEO Debbie and demon Shaker’s first year of partnership was a smashing success for both Pandora Productions and their own new intimate relationship, ending with the announcement of their engagement last New Year’s Eve. Shaker now inhabits a human host, Pandora’s rising action star Jett Black, putting the possibility of a family within Debbie’s tentative grasp as the couple pledges their love at the altar. But as before, one crisis after another ensues, beginning with Titan’s push to assimilate Pandora and the death of Debbie’s father, bringing her back together with her estranged family, and into the sights of a demon-hunting priest, Father Matthew, who will stop at nothing to not only send Shaker back to the Hell he came from, but also ensure Debbie is free of sin…permanently. When Shaker is sent back to Hell, Debbie is left bereft, her team of allies decimated, her best friend in a coma, she must decide if she will succumb…or rise from the ashes and fight ruthlessly for everything she loves, no matter the cost.
Feeling another twinge of nerves, Debbie looked longingly at the full wine rack on the kitchen counter. Don’t do it. You’re expecting. And it’s too late for a drink anyway, you’ve got to go to bed. You have to get more sleep, for yourself and the baby.
Stifling another yawn, Debbie put aside her laptop and rubbed at her eyes. Two hours, and not much to show for it, girl, except tired eyes. And you have to face facts: you’re going to need some reading glasses pretty quick.
Debbie couldn’t even remember the last time she’d been to the eye doctor. But she’d always had 20/20 vision, no problems. And now...now the printed script pages and memos were slightly blurry. She could make out what they said, but how long would that last?
Debbie felt a sudden rush of panic and squashed it down. Grow up, you’re a big girl. You knew this would happen. All women go through this along with slowing metabolism, wrinkles, and grey hair. What did you think, that you’d be the one to somehow escape it?
Debbie sighed, got up, and went to the bathroom, brushing her teeth before she surveyed her reflection in the mirror. Yes, that’s it exactly. I never thought it would happen to me. And now it is.
Debbie grabbed a brush, and began tearing it through her hair, looking angrily for grey hairs caught in the bristles and finding several. Swearing, she threw down the brush, cracking the plastic handle. Gritting her teeth, she set the brush aside and grabbed the mouthwash, taking a mouthful. She was just swishing it around her teeth when a sudden noise came from the living room.
Her eyes bulged, and she spat it as quietly as she could in the sink, listening, too worried to call out. Shaker! I need you!
“Debbie?” came Titus’s rumbling voice. “Are you here?” It’s okay, Shaker said in Debbie’s mind. Titus has brought Devlin to congratulate you. He couldn’t keep the news to himself. And Devlin isn’t a man accustomed to boundaries. Just be polite, please.
Debbie’s muscles went weak with relief, and she sat down on the toilet, suddenly near tears. With effort, she shook it off, wrapped a robe around herself, then went out. “I’m in here, Titus.”
“Enchante, Deborah,” Devlin said, stepping into view clad in jeans and a denim jacket. “How are you, lovely mom-to-be? I asked Titus to bring me by when he told me the news.” He leaned down close to her waist. “Little child, blessings be on you. I will be most pleased to make your acquaintance.”
His tone was odd, but so was him just coming to her home this time of night, no matter the reason. Why would Devlin care about a baby? Shaker, what’s this about?
“I wanted to see you, is the real reason,” Titus said kindly, taking her hands in his clawed ones. “Devlin just wanted to add his congratulations.” He looked her over carefully, being obvious in what he was doing.
“Is there something you’re looking for?” Debbie asked, glaring at him.
“Just to see if you’re healthy,” Titus said. “And you are. Please don’t be alarmed, I’m just excited for you and my brother. Rip will be also.”
“Well, thank you for the congrats,” Debbie said with a firm smile. “But it’s late, and I should get to bed.”
“Of course,” Devlin said with a nod. “You both need your sleep. Rest well.” He left a small white bag festooned with silver ribbons on a nearby end table. “With my blessings.”
“I have something else for you,” Titus said. He whistled.
There was a deep chuff, and then from the nearest shadow, a large mastiff-type dog appeared, as if he’d been sitting there the entire time. His eyes were black, and his coat was black, his upright ears pricked attentively. But he was thin, almost gaunt.
Titus handed Debbie a collar made of matte hammered metal, lined with cloth. “Put this on him.”
“What’s his name?” Debbie asked, as she buckled on the collar. “There are no tags.”
“Guardian,” Titus supplied.
“Where did you get him?” Debbie said, excited but also worried about taking on a pet when she already was overwhelmed. “What do I feed him? Has he had his shots?”
“This is not a mortal dog,” Titus replied. “He truly will be a guardian to you, able to come out of any shadow when he is needed. He won’t require dog food, just some meat now and again with water. He will not need any vet care. Shaker will show you what to do.” That sounds ominous. “Is he a demon?”
“A hellhound,” Shaker said, as he appeared nearby. “Brother, you shouldn’t have.”
“Debbie needs a guardian, one that can be with her at all times,” Titus said firmly. “Guardian will do that. Give him flesh and blood, the fresher the better.”
Shaker petted the hound, who allowed it but had eyes only for Debbie.
Year of the Incubus Unhallowed Love Book 3
With the Year of the Demon over, widow Deborah “Debbie” Black is more resolved than ever to put aside her losses: main actor (and human vessel) Jett Black to a murderer’s bomb, and her demon husband Shaker to a new Mistress.
Independent studio Pandora Productions has a new trio of paranormal movies to create, and a reputation for mayhem and bloodshed to live down. The year has a stellar beginning: Sheila awakens from her coma, dark witch Leri joins the Pandora team, Jett’s younger brother Brady arrives to finish the movie Jett was working on when he was killed, incubus Vassago Gray’s burgeoning series Incubus has a chance to be picked up by Netflix, and faerie sorceress Myrrh and her army of crowmen stand watch over all.
Yet new exceptional scripts are still appearing authored with false names. The perfect setting for haunted isle picture Origin of Fear is available nearby for next to nothing. Vassago may be entering Debbie’s dreams, bent on incubus seduction. When Brady is exposed as an addict fleeing from justice, his days outside a prison cell numbered, Shaker returns in force to possess Brady, tipping the odds in Debbie’s favor.
Will the duo’s ruthless resolve be enough to combat the evil demonic shadow preparing to engulf them?
I'm an OSHA-certified safety and health inspector at a metal fabrication shop in upstate New York. I have a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a double minor in chemistry and biology from Binghamton University. My writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. I am the author of the demon romantic suspense Unhallowed Love series, the paranormal action-adventure fantasy Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. I also coauthored (with Eric Dietrich) the nonfiction book Forbidden Conversations. I divide my free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, and sewing catbeds, catnip mats, & cat toys for donation to animal shelters.
Q: What inspired you to write the Unhallowed Love Series?
A: The Unhallowed Love Series (so far, A Good Year, Year of the Demon, and Year of the Incubus) was born out of the Promise Me Series, after it ended. My heroine of Promise Me, Sar, had been on an emotional rollercoaster of five years of alternate Hell and Heaven throughout the eighteen books, and I thought she needed a break. I also needed a break from writing as Sarelle; I both admired her and was horrified by some of her rationalized missteps. There was an inert self-destruction in her that made me want to give her a happy ending, or as happy as the consequences of her choices made possible. Yet I missed the surviving sub characters of the series end—Devlin Dalcon’s danger and seductiveness, Danial Racklan’s loyalty and cunning, Lash’s impolitically-correct nastiness and brutality and most especially Shaker’s perfect charm and hilarious sense of humor—and wanted them to go on. The Unhallowed Love Series came into being to tell more about Shaker’s view on life and give him a chance for more than just a supporting player. Instead of a Northeast farm or rural setting, I decided that a demon would be more comfortable in a large city where victims were faceless and plentiful, involved with a woman who was the opposite of Sarelle: Debbie Deal, a ruthless, plotting corporate CEO who viewed her film company, Pandora Productions, as the most important thing in her life, and wouldn’t know how to bake cookies any more than she would know how to take care of a pet.
Q: What can we expect in the future?
A: The series will continue in a 4th book, tentatively titled Year of the Siren. I’m also at work making a sequel inspirational book, Deep Breaths II: Tales of Inspiration, and a third short horror story anthology called Under a Setting Sun.
Q: How do you come up with the names of books?
A: A book’s name needs to be intriguing, fit the genre(s) it inhabits, and be as original as possible, to avoid confusion with other stories. Choosing a few words that needs to sum up your entire work is incredibly hard, and so I often operate with a working title, then change it at least once before the book is published…unless I already know the entire plot and have a brilliant stroke of inspiration for a title, which does happen once in a very great while, lol.
Q: Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you have the reins of the story?
A: I definitely do not have the reins, I’m along for the ride. When I try to rein in characters, my writing feels forced, like a dressed-up child going to a family event who can’t move well because their fancy outfit coupled with the decree “do not get dirty!” puts on so much restraint that the result is a fake version of the real thing. It’s not interesting for me to write, and it’s not interesting for readers, either. You’ll find no cookie-cutter stories here.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes A Movie inside a Book becomes its own Novel
Originally in Year of the Demon, I had to come up with several movies for the fictional Pandora Productions to be shooting. This wasn’t very hard, as first series books are easy to write, because there’s no prehistory to have to go through in order to make dates and characters line up regarding to events that happened before the book. I loosely based Smoke Storm on an action hero and added demons to a couple ideas to make the movie ideas Smoke and Ashes, Hell’s Gate, and Tinderbox. For Year of the Demon, I did the same to make Smoke and Ashes II: Out of the Ashes, and Absolution, but to have some fun, I also added in Immortal Confessions, writing the story of my origin of Devlin Dalcon, a vampire who also appears in this series, into the plot. Immortal Confessions was published as a stand-alone full length novel in 2013, so I had plentiful details and it was wickedly enjoyable fun to include Devlin’s manipulation and plotting to make his origin movie a smashing success in Year of the Demon, even as I used a few referenced scenes from his life to show his own acute vulnerability and broken heart. I also brought forth the horror movie Origin of Fear, based on a favorite story of mine of the same title from the Latham’s Landing Anthology, also weaving that into the plot and leading into the next Unhallowed Love sequel.
For Year of the Incubus, I found myself choosing potential movies that were almost all based on previous works. To Smoke and Ashes III: Destiny in the Ashes as the final movie of the trilogy, I added in Hell to Pay based on my short story Spiritwalker plus the aforementioned Origin of Fear. But events in Year of the Incubus called for at least one more movie. So I created a premise under a title I’d liked but had no existing plot for, Dare to Tell. That premise was so compelling for me that I debated making a short story out of it. That plan fell by the wayside until a horrifying nightmare this spring gave me the opening chapter. Yes, chapter, not whole story: what began as a simple idea within an unrelated book has become its own novel. Dare to Tell is close to sixty-thousand words as of today, and only lacks an ending, of which I have an outline. I have a cover picked out and hope to release it by Christmas 2020 as an e-book.
Q: Do you see writing as a career? Any advice for new authors?
A: I chose this question because I get inquiries at least once a year from someone who wants to be a writer and hopes for me to give them a plan to get their work published. I almost always crush their hopes when I tell them of my years and $$$$ trying to find an agent, of spending a year and a half writing short story after short story from my nightmares just to build up a “publishing cred” so that publishers would take me seriously…and they still didn’t. To finally placing an excerpt from my stories and then getting my first novels published. Of going from small press to small press getting anthologies and other novels published only to see those presses go out of business, and then making my own foray into self-publishing, including making covers. Most authors don’t get a lot of money for their work, and it’s not a career, it’s a labor of love, unless you’re a non-fiction author writing technical work. Writing can be a career if you’re an editor with a guaranteed supply of material from a publisher that will ensure you get a reliable paycheck. But I wouldn’t encourage anyone to become a writer.
Q: A day in the life of an author?
A: Wake up. Do morning rituals like have breakfast, dress, and brush teeth. Go to day job, or errands if it’s the weekend. Look for time to write and don’t find any. Have lunch, do more work or more chores, and then dinner. Consider writing but decide instead to watch TV, or sleep, or spend time with family. Sleep. Wake from nightmare about 3:45 am, and fight to both remember it and go to the laptop and write down a synopsis. Finally get out of bed about 4:10 am, get laptop, write synopsis until 6am, then go back to sleep until alarm goes off and it’s time to get up. Think about nightmare in the back of your mind for the day, then try to go home and write a bit more on it later in the evening.
Q: Do you write one project at a time or several? Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
A: I put these two questions together because they intertwine. I usually have going anywhere from 4 projects to 10. This is because of “getting stuck,” which happens easily when you’re writing a series. No one wants to revisit old territory and write something that’s a copy of what went before. If what I’m writing isn’t making me excited enough to want to continue, then I need to stop and work on something else, because I’m not writing anything worthwhile, and I’m going to disappoint readers.
Q: Pen or Type Writer of Computer?”
A: Pen and paper for ideas (remember above, with the nightmares=inspiration?), and always a computer. I need to be able to go back and edit previous parts of the work, or sometimes even shift whole sections around within the book to make the action flow correctly.
Q: As a writer, what is your spirit animal or avatar or mascot?”
A: A fox, of course!