I am pleased, today, to introduce you to a fine urban fantasy author, a lady who writes characters with a Celtic flair. Y’all know how much we love that around here! 😉 (With ancient Celtic tribes involved? What’s not to love!) So without further ado, let me turn the floor over to Ms. Jan DeLima and let her tell you about one of our (mutual, it seems) favorite and inspiring Celtic collections, The Mabinogion. Rea on (and don’t miss the Giveaway details at the end of this post!)
Jan, the floor is yours.
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, and for participating in my first blog tour!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with my Celtic Wolves Series, just imagine a place where warriors are also wolves and reality isn’t always what it seems. Set in modern day, the stories are a mixture of both urban fantasy and romance. Written for adults, each installment has strong fantasy elements built around Celtic folklore, with a secondary romance between two new characters.
The idea for the supernatural elements of my series came to me while working in the cataloging department of my local library when a book on Celtic artifacts crossed my desk. It reviewed findings and theories of Celtic beliefs from Celtic art, with depictions of men shifting into wolves. Intrigued, I dove into researching Celtic mythology and found more material than I could possibly imagine on wolves and shape shifting. Let’s just say my paranormal writer’s radar was dinging loudly. Once the research started, my characters demanded a place in this magical world.
During my research, references from The Mabinogion frequently appeared. The Mabinogion, also translated as The Mabinogi, is a collection of Celtic folklore from medieval Welsh manuscripts, including The White Book of Rhydderch and The Red Book of Hergest. It is theorized that the manuscripts were written around the 1300-1400s, and they include stories of the Otherworld, along with the earlier versions of Arthurian legend. You can learn more about The Mabinogion on its Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mabinogion, but I recommend that you verify facts at your local library as well. Marriage, shape shifting and wolves are common themes in many of the tales. Wales is the home of fantasy, of dragons and King Arthur, and tales of the Otherworld. Their Celtic mythology mirrors many of the Irish versions, and it’s such a rich culture to draw inspiration from for my characters.
Nature was, and still is, an important influence for Celts. The magic of my world is based on their beliefs; therefore, nature is where my Celtic warriors derive their power to shift. Because of this, I make sure the wilderness setting of the books is real, even if what the characters do within it isn’t.
In Celtic Moon, the first book in the series, I pair an ancient Celt with a mortal human who is unaware of his heritage. This was a natural way to bring his history to readers through my heroine’s questions, and the dynamic between the two was magical to write. Dylan, the hero in this story, was born AD 329 in pre-Christian Europe. The Celtic Goddess Ceridwen is mentioned in The Mabinogion. She is also a character in the series, along with Taliesin. Because Ceridwen is associated with transformation, the balance between light and dark, and also with motherhood, I use these themes throughout the books.
Please know that I do have graphic elements in my books: battle scenes, love scenes, and some shocking scenes as well—memorable ones usually are. But I will leave you with one of the more a tender scenes from Celtic Moon, the first book of the Celtic Wolves Series.
Thank you again for inviting me to talk about my series, and for the wonderful topic suggestion!
All my best,
You’re most welcome, Jan. Thank you for coming by and we wish you the best with your series! Folks, do read on for a little bit more about the Celtic Wolves and you’ll find the links for her giveaway at the end.
Excerpt from Celtic Moon:
Dylan’s steps were almost silent as he approached, not that it mattered; Sophie sensed his presence more than she felt the racing of her own heart. He leaned down, his chin brushing the side of her cheek, smooth from a recent shave. “What are you thinking about?”
Cool air radiated off the window and she let her forehead rest against the glass. “That I never thought I’d be standing here again . . . in this room . . . with you.”
“You belong with me.” A soft statement filled with quiet conviction.
She sighed, not so sure. “Before I agree to stay, I feel I must be frank with you.”
“I have come to accept a few things about myself. My instinct to protect our son is not rational or reasonable, and sometimes . . . it’s even cowardly and selfish. But it will never change. I will always put Joshua’s welfare before all others, even my own, by any means necessary.”
“You should save your breath, if you’re trying to warn me away.” His hands lifted to her shoulders, warm and gentle as he turned her. The glare from the window reflected off his black gaze; a glint of hunger moved from within before he pushed it back. “I have begun to realize why the Goddess has chosen to favor you, my human wife, who not only accepts both the dark and light aspects of herself, but also embraces them—in order to protect our child.”
My human wife? “You’re not going to stop calling me that, are you?”
“No.” His hands tightened on her shoulders briefly before trailing down her arms.
“You act as if we can just forget the past.”
“Not forget.” He turned her wrist and pushed something cold and jagged into her palm. “But we can learn from it and move forward.”
Avoiding his hardened glare, she unfurled her fingers and stared down at a modern brass key. “What does it open?”
“Both doors to this room. It’s the only copy,” he added. “So don’t lose it.”
“You changed the locks?”
“You stole the master,” he reminded her.
Not trusting her voice, she closed her fingers around the key. One of the first skills she’d acquired after escaping was how to pick a lock. But Dylan wouldn’t have known that.
“I need to do a few things,” he said, turning toward the outer door. “You know where my office is. Meet me there when you’re ready. I’ll show you around the kitchen and larder.” His hand rested on the doorknob, and he watched her with hooded eyes, as if he expected her to renege on her offer to cook, or run for dear life.
She didn’t intend to do either. “Just give me fifteen minutes to wash up and change my clothes.”
It was time to stop running, as her mother had irritatingly, and rightly, suggested. And perhaps . . . her belly gave a little flip at the mere thought . . . perhaps she may even fight for what her heart wanted.
In response, his features stilled, darkened, as if he sensed her thoughts. The effect was disquieting, reminding her—and maybe him as well—that not all their memories in this room were unhappy ones. Her gaze lingered on his mouth, feeling as if the pine wood floors had just given way under her feet.
“Sophie . . .” His knuckles turned white around the doorknob, and the wooden door gave a groan as if too much pressure had been applied. He released his hand and stepped into the hallway. “This room is yours,” he said through the open doorway, putting space between them. “I want you to feel safe here. I’ll not disturb you, or come to you at night. But you need to remember that I’ve been sixteen years without my mate. I’ll do my best to keep my distance until you’re ready to accept your future here . . . until you’re ready to accept me.” His voice took on a sensual timbre, full of dark promise. “However, the next time you stare at my mouth as you’ve just done . . . I will use it upon you.”
The Celtic Wolves Series
Sophie and Dylan’s Story
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: September 24, 2013
Number of pages: 304
Word Count: 84,000 approx
Like father, like son…
Sophie Thibodeau has been on the run from the father of her son for more than fifteen years. Now her son, Joshua, is changing, and her greatest fears are about to be realized. He’s going to end up being just like his father—-a man who can change into a wolf.
Dylan Black has been hunting for Sophie since the night she ran from him—-an obsession he cannot afford in the midst of an impending war. Dylan controls Rhuddin Village, an isolated town in Maine where he lives with an ancient Celtic tribe. One of the few of his clan who can still shift into a wolf, he must protect his people from the Guardians, vicious warriors who seek to destroy them.
When Sophie and Dylan come together for the sake of their son, their reunion reignites the fierce passion they once shared. For the first time in years, Dylan’s lost family is within his grasp. But will he lose them all over again? Are Joshua and Sophie strong enough to fight alongside Dylan in battle? Nothing less than the fate of his tribe depends on it…
Teaser Excerpt from Celtic Moon:
“I’m going for a run,” Dylan said dryly, taking off toward the woods. His people had wronged Sophie. He was convinced of that now. And still she had come home to him, of her own free will—for their son.
His wolf clawed at his spine for release. Its fury, its need—its desire for the woman who’d had the courage to return for their child was no longer controllable.
The wolf wanted out.
Having her near and within reach was akin to pain.
Perhaps it was a good thing Sophie hadn’t invited him to stay, Dylan thought as he entered the forest, ripping off clothes as he walked. For if she had, he wasn’t sure if he could have controlled his hunger.
It had been too long.
Celtic Moon’s first chapter:
The Celtic Wolves Series
Rosa and Luc’s story
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: September 30, 2014
Number of pages: 305
Word Count: 84,000
She won’t be ruled again…
Rosa Alban has been obedient her entire life. But when her alpha husband dies, she seizes the opportunity to flee the oppressive Guardians—the rulers of the secret shapeshifter world. Her flight instantly brands her as a pack traitor, and she has no choice but to seek protection from a neighboring tribe by marrying one of their sons.
Known as the Beast of Merin, Luc Black loyally plays the part of unwanted son and devoted brother. He realizes marrying Rosa will strengthen his tribe’s territory, but he has no intention of loving ever again. Still, he’s unprepared for the intense physical need the wild she-wolf awakens in him.
When the Guardians hone in on Rosa, Luc must fight to protect his new bride. And as war descends, the unlikely allies discover their destinies are irrevocably entwined…
Excerpt from Summer Moon:
Luc wrapped the knitted blanket around Rosa and draped it like a shawl. Fisting his hands around the corners, he pulled her forward, like a fish caught in a weir. Before she could guess his intent, she found herself on his lap, cocooned in heat and hot male skin, with her legs dangled over his knees.
“Now, is this so bad?” he taunted while tucking her head under his chin.
“I suppose not.” Pondering where to place her hands, she ended up curling them in her lap, while her shoulder rested in the crook between his arm and chest.
In truth, it was hypnotic setting on him like this—dangerously so, like the hush before a storm. The rise and fall of his torso as he breathed lulled like a male siren, along with the weight of his arms and the lure of his skin against her cheek. The most exquisite scent of forest and man wove around her senses. More tempting, underneath it all lay the hint of musk, of potent wolf waiting in the shadows to protect her if the human failed.
All her tension ebbed like a babe in caring arms. Away from Guardians and wrapped in strength; she’d not felt this safe since childhood. How sad that she’d found peace with a virtual stranger. And how easily she could become addicted.
Oh, yes . . . this was dangerous. “How long do we have to stay like this?”
“Shhhh . . .” His throat moved as he swallowed while his hands trailed up her thighs and under her sweater, but only to knead the muscles of her lower back.
As if she weren’t becoming a puddle of goo already.
Before long, her eyes grew heavy, drifted closed. Had he been waiting for this moment of surrender, she wondered drowsily, when her guard had dissolved enough to welcome his gentle game? And did she care? For this was far more pleasant than any others she’d been forced to play.
He shifted to the side and moved his shoulder, leaned a bit, and her head rolled back, only to be caught by the soft pressure of his mouth on hers. So tender she didn’t even open her eyes. Were a man’s lips supposed to be this soft? Like with other carnal acts, she had little experience with kissing, sadly enough.
Having known only violence or indifference, her perceptions reeled. Indeed, if this was passion, then she didn’t know how to respond. But she was curious enough to try. She would admit that to herself, and even to him if he asked . . . She was so hungry to know what others whispered about in giggly tones. How many stories had she heard, from Tesni and others, of their forbidden trysts and naughty secrets, only to feel like a bystander to their private joy?
“Open your mouth, Rosa.” The order came on a husky whisper against her lips.
Summer Moon’s first chapter: