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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Guest Post: Deborah Cooke Plays with Fire + excerpts + giveaway

Playing with Fire
By Deborah Cooke
I write romances featuring dragon shifter heroes called the Pyr. I think the Pyr are powerful, protective and sexy as hell, no matter which form they take. I love their confidence—even if they get a bit arrogant, it makes sense, since they can turn anyone or anything to toast with a fiery breath.

I do, though, like to mess with them. I like to challenge their preconceptions (from the safety of my office, which does not exist in the same realm as dragon shifter heroes) and defy their expectations. I like to piss them off. I like to evoke their passion and watch what happens next. There’s nothing so impressive to me as a Pyr determined to reshape his world—or that of the woman lucky enough to be his destined mate.

Firestorm Forever is the eleventh book in my Dragonfire series of paranormal romances, and it’s the big finish to this series. It’s not the last book I’ll ever write about dragon shifters, but it is the end of the Dragon’s Tail Wars, which were launched in book #1, Kiss of Fire. Only the Pyr or their evil counterparts the Slayers are prophesied to survive this war. The Pyr think they’ve pretty much won this battle, even though technically the war isn’t over. Even though the Slayer Jorge is a dangerous and evil dragon shifter who has consumed the Elixir (which makes him closer to immortal), Jorge is playing solo. The Pyr are pretty confident of their victory.

And so, I had to play with fire. 

In book #2, Kiss of Fury, there’s an exchange between Borix Vassily, the leader of the Slayers, and one of his minions, Sigmund Guthrie (who just happens to be the son of Erik Sorensson, leader of the Pyr, but who turned evil.) It goes like this:

Boris scowled at the car overhead. “If only I could clone myself a dozen times, we would be rid of the Pyr and their pesky humans.”

There was a pause, one that caught Boris’s attention. He turned to find Sigmund looking thoughtful, even as he rubbed the red mark on his throat.

“Maybe I can do something about that,” Sigmund said. “Would that count as competence?”

Boris snorted, even though the possibility made his pulse leap. Dozens of himself! Encouragement didn’t motivate as well as fear.

“It’s all so much idle speculation,” he said, using his bored tone. “Let me know if you can manage it.” He pointed at the car overhead. “Now, get to work before I really get annoyed.”

Sigmund did get to work on this, and was motivated by fear. Even though both he and Boris died in book #3, Kiss of Fate, Sigmund’s experiment quietly continued, coming to fruition in his absence. Remember that Erik Sorensson, leader of the Pyr, and Boris Vassily, leader of the Slayers were sworn adversaries - in fact, they exchanged challenge coins, which in the protocol of my dragon shifters means a duel to the death. Erik won the battle in Kiss of Fate, but maybe Boris’s clones aren’t inclined to let dead dragons lie. Here’s a snippet from the beginning of Firestorm Forever:

Erik had a moment to hope that the Pyr would triumph in this war with the Slayers, even without the assistance of a Wyvern and her abilities, before the glass in the living room window shattered.

Zoë awakened immediately. Eileen gasped and clutched their daughter close.

Erik was on his feet, already shifting shape to defend his family.

Because there was a large ruby red and brass dragon on the other side of the cracked window, and he was swinging his tail to finish what he had started. He was the spitting image of Boris Vassily, the Slayer Erik had killed, dismembered and incinerated seven years before.

But Boris didn’t look as if he were dead anymore.

How many clones are there? How many new Slayers? The Pyr don’t know, and Sigmund’s ghost isn’t telling. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Of course, dragons are clever and good at solving riddles as well as creating defensive strategies. If you’re really going to mess with them, you have to attack on multiple fronts. With Sigmund’s clones, I challenged the Pyr’s assumption that they were in a good position to win the Dragon’s Tail Wars. That wasn’t enough.

My Pyr are long-lived but not immortal. In the course of their long lives, they will have one destined mate, who is a human woman, and meeting her will give each one the chance to conceive a son. That opportunity is marked by a firestorm, in which sparks literally fly between the dragon shifter and his destined mate. The firestorm is persistent, and is extinguished only when the match is consummated and the son conceived. It burns hotter the longer it is denied. Over the course of the series, the spark of a firestorm has launched the story of each book, and it has always drawn the Pyr in question to a total stranger, a woman who has proven to be his match and his ideal partner.

I had to play with the Pyr’s assumptions about the firestorm in this book. There are three firestorms in this book instead of just one, so I was able to mess with their dragon minds in three different ways:

Drake stood, eyes narrowed slightly, watching her from the shadows surrounding the entrance to her townhouse. He studied her so closely that Ronnie wondered whether he could read her thoughts. He was completely motionless, still dressed in olive drab though these were casual clothes instead of a uniform. She surveyed him, hungry for details of how his life had changed these past four years.

He was still muscled and stern, still tanned and resolute. His hair had a little bit more salt than pepper now and was still cut short. His gaze was just as unwavering, his attention absolute. He still looked coiled to strike and ready for anything, and she again had no doubt that he could kill with his bare hands.

Ronnie’s heart was pounding and her mouth was dry. She told herself it was just that she’d had a start, but she knew better.

Drake was back.

And she was glad.


His focus upon her made Ronnie shiver. It was remarkably warm for this time in the early evening, and there seemed to be a golden radiance in the parking lot, one that hovered between her and Drake. She hugged her groceries, forgetting the carton of eggs. “But you’re here. After all this time. Why?”

“To give you a choice,” Drake said with soft heat. “I can stay or I can leave.”

She knew exactly what he meant, and the prospect made her mouth go dry. “But...”

Drake lifted a hand either to silence her or reach for her. Ronnie wasn’t sure which because a brilliant orange spark leapt from his fingertip. She stared at it, not believing her eyes, but the spark flew directly toward her. She flinched when it exploded against her shoulder and gasped at the wave of heat that rolled through her body from that point. She rubbed her shoulder reflexively but there wasn’t a burn mark on the fabric.

Just a simmering heat beneath her skin.

No, the heat was simmering lower than that, making Ronnie keenly aware of how long she’d been alone.

And wanting to do something about it.

Had she imagined the spark? There was no question that she felt she’d been touched by fire. She was hot, and she was shivery.

She was also more aroused than she’d been in years.

She stared at Drake, recalling all those fantasies and adding another few. She caught her breath and took a step closer, knowing with complete clarity what she wanted from him. His gaze sharpened and it seemed that there was a halo of flame around his body. She reached for him and he caught her hand in his, his touch sending a jolt of heat surging through her veins. There was brilliant orange light around their joined hands, so bright that she couldn’t see their fingers but she could feel the strength of his hand holding hers.

Ronnie sensed that Drake was tempering his strength, that he was being gentle with her by choice.

She looked up at him, mystified by the light, and was awed to see him smile again.

“You decide,” he whispered, and she heard the tremor in his voice.

He wanted her.

He’d returned to her.

Which meant there was no choice to be made. Ronnie didn’t understand the sparks and she didn’t care. The man she’d been waiting for, the man she’d been dreaming about, the man she’d yearned to see again was standing right in front of her.

Ronnie had learned that you could never count on having a second chance.

The first firestorm is the most traditional one, with the exception that (spoiler alert-highlight to read) the Slayers successfully capture the mate. This has always seemed to me to be a logical strategy—as is the rest of Jorge’s plan—although the Pyr in question is not happy with this development.

The second firestorm is the most unlikely match. Not only is the Pyr in question not expecting to have a destined mate, but the woman who sparks his flame is in league with Jorge and determined to wipe dragons from the face of the earth.

She couldn’t help thinking of the way Marco had touched her, the way his eyes glowed when he studied her, the slow and sensual way he kissed, as if they had all the time in the world to explore each other.

He’d said that once, that he had all the time in the world.

He’d said it in that dark-chocolate voice of his, the one that melted her knees and made her want to rub herself against his hard strength and caress him from head to toe.

Once with Marco had definitely not been enough.

At least not for Jac.

Jac knew she wouldn’t sleep that night. The strange heat simmered beneath her skin and awakened a tingle of desire where it counted. She could see the full moon rising behind Uluru and thought the sight was both primal and magical.

The strange thing was that insistent desire, which wasn’t her usual reaction to the sight of a full moon or a large rock in the desert. Her fingers slid down her belly in an echo of the way Marco had touched her. As much as she liked the sensation of her own fingers trailing over her skin, she’d liked the warmth of Marco’s hand on her much better. It was funny that months of his absence hadn’t allowed his memory to fade.

Much less the recollection of what they’d done, and how awesome it had been. She just had time to think that she might as well try to solve it herself, since it wasn’t likely any other volunteers would show up, when someone knocked on the door.

Jac sat bolt upright in bed. The cottages were individual and set apart from each other. She hadn’t ordered room service, although she supposed that someone could have the wrong cottage. She was still dressed, so she swung off the bed and padded to the door in her bare feet. She looked through the peep hole and nearly had a heart attack.

Marco was standing on the other side of the door. His hair was a bit longer than it had been, which just made him look more sleepy and disheveled. Sexy. Her heart squeezed. He appeared to be tired and a bit frustrated, his expression prompting her to open the door even though she knew she shouldn’t.

They stared at each other, and Jac found herself swallowing. She glanced over his small bag of gear and realized a little late that she should have expected to meet him here.

If this was where the dragons were going to be, he’d be hunting here, too.

The third firestorm is the one that I love best: I wondered what would happen if a Pyr fell in love with a woman, before his firestorm. He’d be torn, knowing that when his firestorm did spark (which could happen at any time) his duty would be to his destined mate, not his beloved. How would he feel about having to deny love, and would he be able to turn his back on temptation to do what he knew was right? If the dragon shifter in question were Sloane Forbes, the Apothecary of the Pyr and the dragon destined to save the world, I knew he would be determined to do the right thing. Would his challenge be worse if the woman who stole his heart was the one person who could help him to save the world? I really enjoyed Sloane’s journey in this book and it’s probably not a spoiler to tell you that I gave him a reward for saving the world. 

Sloane was beginning to feel as if he were being punished for his failure to solve the riddle of the plague.

In addition to that, the presence of his new neighbor made him resent the fact that he couldn’t choose his own mate. He turned underwater and roared through another pair of laps. Samantha was exactly the kind of woman he’d have chosen for himself. She was blond and delicately built, but clever and sensitive. He suspected that she was stronger than even she knew. She was feminine but pragmatic, too, which had to be the most enticing combination.

He’d met her when she’d moved in and talked to her again when she’d come to buy herbs from his greenhouse. She was a tarot card reader who said she sometimes cast spells with herbs for her clients. She had a secret, though—Sloane could smell it on her—and a vulnerability that got him right where he lived. Something had hurt her badly and she’d made a big change in order to deal with that injury. Sloane wanted to help more than he knew was sensible.

The thing was that until he had his firestorm, he couldn’t promise anything more than a short fling to any woman. He sensed that Sam needed more than that and plowed through another half dozen laps disliking that he didn’t have more to offer.

The moon moved, the first shadow of the eclipse touching its radiant glow.

Sloane swam harder.

He closed his eyes as a firestorm sparked, his heart sinking with the realization that it wasn’t his. He reached the end of the pool with a growl, pulled himself out of the water, then caught a whiff of jasmine and musk.

Sam’s perfume.

She was standing at the gate, watching him in silence.

Sloane froze, braced on the side of the pool, and stared, transfixed. It was as if he had conjured her out of nothing, willing her to appear. He halfway thought she was a vision, but he could sense her uncertainty. He saw her swallow and wanted to reassure her.

No, he wanted to protect her forever from whatever she feared.

And he wanted to spend the night making love to her first.

Sam evidently took his silence as an invitation, because she opened the gate and stepped into the paved yard. She slipped out of her flip-flops and eased the linen shirt from her shoulders. She was wearing a bikini so small that Sloane’s mouth went dry. She flicked a glance at him, then smiled as she unfastened the clasp in the middle of the top. She bared her breasts to the moonlight, then slipped out of the bikini bottom. Sloane could have been turned to stone.

She walked toward him, and he told himself he had to be dreaming. The moonlight made her skin look silver and her eyes luminous. She sat down on the lip of the pool beside him and put her feet into the water. She smiled, licked her lips, then touched his shoulder.

“I was so hot,” she whispered, her gaze clinging to his. He didn’t dare survey her again, because he didn’t want to spook her, but he could see the patina of perspiration on her upper lip. He wanted to kiss it off. “It made me think of you,” she admitted, and her words astonished him.

She wasn’t lying.

So, he wasn’t going to.

“I was just thinking of you,” Sloane admitted, and she smiled with pleasure.

“But you’re too much of a gentleman to have done anything about it,” she charged, then shook her head.

Sloane might have defended himself, but she was right. He wouldn’t have gone knocking at her door on a moonlit night, no matter how much he wanted to do so.

“Is that why you were swimming laps so hard?”

Sloane dipped his head and grinned that she’d guessed at least part of the reason for his frustration. “Caught,” he murmured, daring to look into her eyes once more.

She was pleased by that and her eyes started to sparkle. She looked good enough to eat, but whatever happened had to be her choice. Sloane was keenly aware of her vulnerability, an indication of an emotional wound, and instinctively wanted to help her to heal. He sensed she was trying to make a change, to move past something, and it was in his nature to facilitate that.

Which meant he had to wait.

He wasn’t sure how long they stared into each other’s eyes before Sam reached out and touched his mouth with her fingertip. “I’m hoping you’re not too much of a gentleman to do something about this,” she whispered, then bent closer and replaced her fingertip with her mouth.

Her lips were soft and sweet, her kiss gentle, her scent beguiling him as little else could have done. Her mix of boldness and vulnerability kicked all of Sloane’s desires into overdrive. Before he could think twice—much less be cautious and responsible—she was in his arms and he was slanting his mouth over hers, deepening his kiss.

That distant firestorm burned hotter, sending fire through Sloane’s veins.

It wasn’t his firestorm.

It might have been a thousand miles away.

But the funny thing was, Sloane no longer cared.

The Pyr assume that winning this war and eliminating the Slayers will leave them with no adversaries. Ha. In reality, eliminating the Slayers will just clear the field for another kind of dragon hunter—which of course, sets us up perfectly for a new series featuring dragon shifters.

He’d looked for a sanctuary and found a slice of heaven.

Seeking haven with Maeve had been a brilliant choice on his part. Jorge couldn’t sense any Pyr in his vicinity at all. His body was healing with its usual speed. Maeve’s home was secure and luxurious, and the sex was phenomenal. She was insatiable, which he liked enough to have been distracted by her powerful influence on his senses. She wore a lot of perfume and it muddied his thinking in a way that was unusual.

Was he just unaccustomed to perfume?

Or was there something more in the mix?

His eyes opened suddenly. Why exactly couldn’t he smell her mortality? She was human, after all. There should have been a whiff of decay about her, one perceptible with careful study. Jorge inhaled slowly, filling his lungs with Maeve’s scent, but could identify only perfume, the scent of her desire, and something that made him dizzy.

“All rested up?” she asked from the doorway to the bathroom. Her dark hair was coiled up this time, revealing the pale soft length of her neck and shoulders. She was wearing a sheer red nightgown that swirled around her knees in a froth of lace. The fabric cupped her breasts, as if displaying them for his pleasure, and the light from the room behind shone through the sheer fabric to silhouette her figure.

Jorge sat up, more than ready for another interval with Maeve. Her lips were painted a glossy red this time, as were her nails, and she strolled into the room in lacquer red heels. Jorge thought of blood and death, which was an unexpected association with an alluring temptress.

Maeve smiled, as if she’d read his thoughts.

“What are you?” he asked and her smile broadened.

“A hunter, just like you.” She crooked a finger, beckoning to him then strolled across the bedroom, leaving him behind. Her hips swayed in invitation, and Jorge realized he would have followed her anywhere.

He should have been concerned about that.

Firestorm Forever (Dragonfire #11)
by Deborah Cooke

ebook, 320 pages
May 13th 2015
This flame will burn for all time…

Three key firestorms mark the culmination of the Dragon’s Tail Wars, pitting the dragon shifters known as the Pyr against the evil Slayers. The Slayers have struck a blow against mankind, in bringing a pestilence from the ancient world, which is spreading like wildfire through the human world. Sloane Forbes, the Apothecary of the Pyr, knows it is his duty to find the cure, but the solution is elusive, his beautiful neighbor is distracting, and time is running out.

In moving to a remote farm in the California hills, Samantha Wilcox has left her demanding career behind by choice and on principle. It’s too painful to remember her own failures as both mother and physician, and not a point of pride that she fell short of the measure, so she’s determined to start fresh. She’s going to live differently, following her instincts and savoring life’s pleasures—like the hot sex with no commitment offered by her mysterious, sexy neighbor. He’s no more of an herb farmer than she is a tarot card reader, but Samantha is determined to keep their illusions intact—at least until she discovers not that Sloane’s one of the Pyr, the dragon shifters are responsible for the epidemic that stole her son’s life. When the firestorm sparks between these estranged lovers, can Samantha resist its dangerous attraction on principle alone? As Slayers and Pyr gather for the final battle, can Samantha and Sloane work together to save the world and build themselves—and their respective kinds—a future?
Read an excerpt from Firestorm Forever here

About the Author:
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Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance called The Romance of the Rose published under her pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Since then, she has published over fifty novels in a wide variety of sub-genres, including historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, time-travel romance, women’s fiction, paranormal young adult, and fantasy with romantic elements. She has published under the names Claire Delacroix, Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. The Beauty, part of her successful Bride Quest series of historical romances, was her first title to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books. Her books routinely appear on other bestseller lists and have won numerous awards. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, the first time the library has hosted a residency focused on the romance genre. In 2012, she was honored to receive the Romance Writers of America’s Mentor of the Year Award.

Do you like to play with fire? If you were going to mess with a dragon shifter’s mind, how would you do it? I’ll give away a digital copy of Firestorm Forever to one person who comments here - from Amazon, Kobo, or iBooks, in MOBI or EPUB. This contest is open to readers in US, UK, Canada and Australia. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm pretty cautious so I don't like to play with fire...literally or figuratively.

  2. Thanks for putting together the guest post, Sharon. It looks great! And thanks for having me visit again. I'm so excited that Sloane's book is out in the world today and this is a perfect place to celebrate. Good luck everyone!

  3. lol... nope... I don't play with fire at all so that's why I like reading about heroines who will! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Play with fire and I would to think about to mess with his mind.

  5. No I don't like playing with fire & why would I want to mess w/a dragonshifter's mind? (see answer to 1st question!)

  6. Mess with a dragonshifter's mind? I'd rather embrace it! A fascinating question. :-)

  7. Fire would only be cool to play with if you had power over it , and the only way I would mess with a dragon shifters mind would be in his dreams to tempt and tease him ;)

  8. I've never been into playing with fire. I'm not sure I'd want to mess with his mind. Sounds like a dangerous proposition!

  9. By always carrying a watering can!

  10. I would lure the dragon into a large warehouse where I've set up a series of mirrors. My many reflections would have him confused on which one was truly me. He stalks from one reflection to the next. The sound of my footsteps confuses him further. Finally he decides upon a target and takes a fiery shot. I step up from behind him with a syringe of elixir which I shoot down his throat. A few seconds later, he is mine. I own his mind. He responds to my telepathic commands without question while I explore his world to find the secret to immortality.

  11. I'm behind on reading this series - not sure why I fell behind but i clearly need to get caught up - good guest post

  12. not much on dealing with fire. thanks for the giveaway! shelley s.

  13. I think you would mess with a dragon's mind very carefully, just not too sure specifically how, flirty maybe. I like to play with fire. lisagk(at)yahoo

  14. I would wear something bright & shiny, but very fireproof - and maybe introduce the drogons to some smokin' hot phoenix women...? I love this series and I'm sad to see it end.

  15. I prefer not to play with fire.