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Thursday, January 5, 2023

Sci-fi Romance Author Melody Johnson: my top five favorite alien heartthrobs + giveaway

A Taste of Alien Tale

Extra-terrestrials might not seem drool-worthy if you’re thinking about the traditional portrayal of aliens in some of my favorite blockbusters—Aliens, Independence Day, and MIB—but as Katy Perry well knows, sci-fi and romance are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I argue that her lyrics in the song E.T., although descriptive of an alien romance, can be applied to any “forbidden love.”

“They don't understand you.

You're from a whole other world,
A different dimension.
You open my eyes.
And I'm ready to go, lead me into the light.”

That’s the beauty of romance. It’s relevant to every genre and fantasy, so whether you’re looking to fall in love with the boy next door or next galaxy, you can find something to satisfy your craving. Torek, the hero in my sci-fi romance, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, Book 1), is an alien from a galaxy far away. He lives on a different planet with a very different culture than Delaney, my human heroine, and sports body fur over his muscles, ram horns on his head, and claws instead of fingernails. But Torek exhibits an essential “humanity,” for lack of a better word, with fierce morals, tender empathy for Delaney, fears and flaws, deep loyalty to his planet and family, and passion for his career. Through his personality, I strove to bridge the distance his physical differences might create, developing a sexy alien readers would hopefully fall in love and lust with. Despite the body fur.

And I’m not the only person to realize that aliens don’t always need to be gray and dripping slime. As Marvel and DC comics consistently show us, aliens are often actually the heroes! Thank you to those comic book classics and the actors who bring them to life for our viewing pleasure. Below are my top five favorite alien heartthrobs:

1. Chris Hemsworth as Thor: Technically a god in Norse mythology, but from the perspective of non-believers… an alien. Rippling biceps, a Shakespearean accent, and a big hammer: what’s not to like? But in addition to his indisputable physical attributes, Thor has (and continues to have) a dramatic character arc. Falling in love matures him, joining the Avengers helps him become a team player (sort of), losing his love makes him vulnerable, and losing against Thanos breaks him. It’s wonderful to witness such increasing character depth throughout a series – and Hemsworth delivers it beautifully.

2. Henry Cavil as Superman: It’s a bullet! It’s a plane! No, it’s a 6’ 1” flying man in a red and blue unitard! Excuse me—not a man, a Kryptonian. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Superman isn’t just a super man; he’s an alien, and he’s captured our hearts for decades. There have been fantastic portrayals of him throughout the years, but my favorite is the most recent, darker, more conflicted version that Cavil embodies.

3. Zachary Quinto as Spock: In terms of general “sex appeal,” there wasn’t much contest back in the day between William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, but Zachary Quinto manages to depict a character we all know and love for his stoic, dry, near sterile personality in a way that somehow also emotes undeniable magnetism. He not only gives Captain Kirk a run for his money in the looks department, but combined with the delicious complexity of his brain and conflicted personality, I can’t help but love to love him.

4. Tom Hiddleston as Loki: If I love to love Spock then I certainly love to hate Loki. So much so that I don’t really hate him at all! Where Thor is everything light and forthright, his brother is everything dark and twisty—and Tom Hiddleston wears that look so, so well. His wit is razor, and combined with that mischievous grin, I can’t help but laugh along as he makes everyone around him play the fool, even at the expense of the lovely Thor.

5. Sam Worthington as Jake’s Avatar: This one is a stretch, I know, considering that Jake himself is human, but Sam Worthington is a beefcake and his Avatar is alien, so… I’m willing to turn a blind eye if you are. What is more moving than a hero’s heart within a body that can’t live up to his/her strength of will? And Jake’s character arc as he becomes more sensitive and ironically more self-aware during his out-of-body experiences makes him even more swoon-worthy.

Sight Beyond the Sun (Love Beyond Book Two)
by Melody Johnson
January 24, 2023
Genre: Sci-fi Romance
Publisher: Incendi Press, LLC
ISBN:978-1-7351499-5-0
ASIN: B0BG8P1596
Number of pages: 602
Word Count: 147,970
Cover Artist: Trif Book Designs
Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies...especially the lies you tell yourself.

A prison break.

Adrenaline junkie and explosives specialist Kinsley “Switch” Morales had a chip on her shoulder long before being caught in what she suspects is some sort of intergalactic human-trafficking ring. Aliens not only exist, their reptilian bodies are stronger, their honed reflexes faster, and their shiny scales nearly impenetrable. But nothing will curb Kinsley’s resolve to commandeer their spaceship and return home to Earth—even if that means crawling behind enemy lines and cozying up to their uncompromising captain.

An undercover mission.

When Raveno Hoviir catches Kinsley outside her cell, wreaking havoc in his control room, he sees more than just her strength, resolve, and courage. He sees a golden opportunity to finally root out the traitor under his command and prove his brother’s loyalty before the coming revolution. After so many years undercover, Raveno is finally one mission away from saving his planet from its tyrannical ruler. He’s sacrificed everything to protect his people—his love life, his anonymity, his left leg—but in his efforts to right his father’s wrongs, has he inadvertently become the very monster he plans to overthrow?

An unlikely alliance.

As Kinsley and Raveno each attempt to exploit the other, they find more than just leverage for their separate missions. Inexplicably, they find common ground in their mutual devotion to family and service. Kinsley knows all too well the grief and guilt of making the wrong decision in the field, but will Raveno keep his word to send her home if she flips loyalties? Is Raveno’s softening heart compromising his judgment, or is Kinsley’s intelligence accurate? Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies. Seeing beyond their surface differences and trusting in love again may be the only way to save both their people—and each other.



Excerpt:
Raveno Hoviir didn’t suffer incompetence. He didn’t suffer anything without consequence, a policy his crew was testing time and again lately and without any perceivable sign of becoming more competent. His reputation, carefully cultivated over a long and brutal career, was usually incentive enough to inspire obedience. He couldn’t let that reputation crack, not for anything: not for his morals as he punished decent soldiers for mistakes that didn’t warrant such severity; not for his soul as he led abominable missions to maintain alliances with Bazail, Iroan, and Fray; not for his body as he’d gone to unmatched extremes to prove his loyalty to Cilvril s’Hvri Josairo.
He played the villain in service to his people, a role as necessary as it was revolting.

During Josairo’s early reign as Cilvril s’Hvri, the killing hand of Havar, he’d been the strength and armor their planet had needed to survive what historians now referred to as the War of Wrath’s Will. After bolstering their military forces and gaining the autonomy to wield them as he deemed necessary, Josairo achieved what four previous Cilvrili s’Hvri had died failing to accomplish: He’d secured Havar’s independence from her sister planet, Haven, and ended years of oppression and tyranny.

Or so the historians claimed and the schools taught. Based on Raveno’s first-hand experience, he often wondered if Josairo hadn’t simply murdered historians until he’d found one willing rewrite the war to his liking.

Nevertheless, however he’d managed to wrest unilateral control of their military and judicial systems, Josairo’s unmatched combat skills ensured he kept it, even as he modified their fleet of luxury destination ships into prison transport vessels. Even as he ordered the abduction and trafficking of innocent, sentient people. Even as the peace and prosperity he’d supposedly achieved following their victory against Haven soured into fear-filled obedience. In earning their independence, the havari had traded a foreign tyrant for a domestic one, and every warrior brave enough to challenge Josairo to a frisaes and legally end his rule had thus far lost.

When Raveno ended his rule, it wouldn’t be legal. But he would win.

Until then, the weight of Raveno’s sins were his to bear or be crushed by. Which made confronting the horrific results of his own undercover operation insufferable, knowing his reputation would demand he deliver swift and harsh punishment when faced with his crew’s greatest incompetence to date: a human outside her room and tampering with the equipment in their control room, of all places.

Dellao and Tironan were asleep in their seats, and the woman, cry mercy, the woman was fierce as only a mother could be, all snapping eyes and straining muscles. Some people withered from the poison of oppression, but not her. She seemed fueled by it. She gritted her square teeth with determination. Her soft cheeks flushed a deep crimson from her efforts, and her scent—Raveno sealed shut his nostrils, cutting short that disturbing thought before it could fully form.

“Who do you work for?” Thev sa shek, a traitor on board Sa Vivsheth was the last thing he needed.

Her jaw fell slack. “Y-y-you speak English?”

“Obviously.” His English was rusty and not quite as good as his Mandarin, but still good enough for interrogation. “Who sent you?”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” She licked her lips, and deep indents on the corners of her mouth dipped into her cheeks. “My name is Kinsley Morales, but my friends call me Switch.”

He stared at her a moment. Had she just introduced herself? Didn’t she realize she was being interrogated? To death, if she didn’t cooperate.

Please, just cooperate.

“My mother named me after my paternal grandmother. An ‘apology’ name, I always said, because she’d named my sister in honor of her mother, which caused quite a stir on my father’s side of the family. But everyone’s ruffled feathers settled after she named me. The only time my presence had settled anyone’s feathers.” She ran out of air and inhaled a deep, trembling breath.

“What’s your name?”

Ah, he might have believed her composure if not for that tremble. She knew her predicament precisely and was attempting to save herself by appealing to his compassion.

The man he’d become to overthrow Josairo couldn’t afford compassion. “Did my brother recruit you with the promise of freedom? What are your orders?”

The woman flinched. A pained whine escaped her clenched teeth.

Svik, was he hurting her? Raveno loosened his hold, just in case. It might come to that, but not now and certainly not by mistake.

Yet, even beaten down, in pain, and defeated, the gleam of calculation sharpened the woman’s gaze.

Strong in mind if not in body, he thought warily, knowing the terrible efforts it took to break the strong of will. His own physical wound had long since healed, but the muscles of his residual limb often pained him as if his left calf still remained, twisted foot and all.

“Must I repeat the question?” he asked. If not Tironan, someone on board had released her.

The furry tuft above her right eye lifted. “How should I know if I know your brother if I don’t even know you?”

Ha! Fine. He spoke his full name and rank for her in traditional Hvrsil, just for the pleasure of matching her obstinacy with his.

“I…I’m not sure I can pronounce that,” she admitted.

“Considering the deficiencies in the form and function of your tongue, I expect not.”

She narrowed her eyes, clearly unsure if she should be insulted. “Do you have a nickname too? Something less, er, taxing on the vocal cords?”

“No.”

“What do your friends call you?” she tried.

“I have no friends.”

“Something I can call you while I beg for mercy, then,” she snapped.

A laugh overtook him at that, as swift, unwanted, and jarring as a seizure. Oh, this woman was a little firework: all sparks and fierce light wedging lethally beneath his scales.

“When you beg for mercy, you may call me by the modern Haveo version of my name,” he relented. “Raveno Hoviir.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Raveno Hoviir.”

He was certain it wasn’t.

About the Author:

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 Melody Johnson is the award-winning author of the “out of this world” Love Beyond series and the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series published by Kensington Publishing/ Lyrical Press. She graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology.

Earning the 2021 Maggie Award of Excellence, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, book 1) is an exciting branch from Melody's paranormal romance roots, keeping the dark grit from her Night Blood Series and taking it to new worlds. Her first published novel, The City Beneath (Night Blood, book 1), was a finalist in the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests.

When she isn’t writing, Melody enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia.

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He abducts her from Earth while undercover to save his planet. She pretends to know the traitor under his command to commandeer his ship. But as they each attempt to save their own people, nothing is as it seems… least of all their feelings for each other. https://amzn.to/3S5MycN
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