Saturday, December 19, 2009
Welcome to Anne Marsh's guest blog!
The temples of Tulum dominate their slice of the Mexican coast. Tulum is a Yucatecan word for wall and Tulum was indeed defensive, surrounded by massive walls and cliffs intended to defend the Mayans against invaders. Although you’re not allowed inside the structures nor can you climb these pyramids any longer, you can touch the stones, step into the cool shadows and out of the oppressive heat. What kind of people lived here? What did they see? It’s a world of heat and strength and stark beauty. You can’t escape the raw stone that wages war against the encroaching jungle and flowers beneath the sensual heat of the sun.
For me, Tulum was the perfect starting point for imagining the fantasy world of THE HUNT (Dorchester Love Spell, October 2009). Since I (cough) didn’t have to be historically accurate in my what-ifs, I began envisioning a race of shape shifters. And added in a few Egyptian elements because one of the most glorious aspects of writing fantasy is that you can let your imagination run wild. Why would my shapeshifters inhabit an ancient temple? And what would happen to humans who entered that temple?
Bam. I had my idea for the temple the Guardians protect. HUNT is a sensual paranormal romance set in a fantasy world with Egyptian and Mayan overtones. The virgins who enter the twisting tunnels of the Guardians have little hope— or wish— to escape. But Miu has her own reason for participating in the Hunt, and she has no intention of being caught… until she meets the darkly sensual predator who’s on her trail. HUNT opens with an image of the pyramid-inspired temple where the Guardians live and dedicate their lives to protecting hidden treasure.
Miu’s knees were shaking so badly that she thought she’d have to drop on all fours and crawl up the broad limestone ramp that disappeared into the dark, cool depths of the temple. Heqet help her, she’d been sun-crazed to think she could pull off this job. The red rays of the late-afternoon sun blazed a heavy path across her shoulders.
She straightened and walked faster. She would do this. She had to do it.
Two massive pylons marked the temple entrance. A stonecutter had carved an elaborate depiction of two Cats shifting from Cat form to warrior form, their massive claws morphing into steel daggers that bit mercilessly into the thief the two beings had just run to ground. The thief looked backward in horror, his mouth frozen open in a soundless shriek. You can do this, Miu told herself. You won’t end up like him. Ninety-nine successes and you think this will be your first failure? No, Heqet willing, she’d be in and out of the temple long before those lethal claws scored her shoulders. Before its feline guardians realized they’d let a thief wander loose in their midst.
The row of white-clad virgins in front of her stepped over the threshold and disappeared into the dark shadows of the interior. The woman next to her sobbed audibly, the small mounds of her breast heaving wildly beneath her silk robe—she was barely more than a girl, Miu realized with disgust. It figured that the Cat warriors would prefer children for mates. Of course, the woman on her other side was of a more calculating bent—she was rubbing the silk of her robe between a thumb and forefinger, assessing the quality of the weave while she ogled the statues of Cats that filled the room they had just entered.
The Cats were well over seven feet tall and carved from what looked like pure gold. Dark obsidian glittered from the slashes of their eyes. One of those, melted down and refashioned into a series of less memorable ornaments, would have kept Miu and her sister sheltered for months. A pity it wasn’t possible. She took a second look—professional curiosity only, she assured herself—and forced herself to move away.
She wasn’t here to steal seven-foot statuary.
She was here to steal something much smaller.
The tunnels beneath the temple are even more perfect for a chase. And there’s nothing sexier than a good chase with an enraged alpha hero—who is about to fall for the heroine. Hard.
A feral roar shook the tunnel. And, Oh damn, she thought. Perhaps there was more to the Cat legend than she had thought. The next moment, a shimmer of gold light spiked through the sudden darkness and hard male hands seized her about the waist.
She was pulled ruthlessly back through the hole, onto her feet and up against a hard chest. A hard, naked chest. Stomping down with her foot, she sought for her attacker’s vulnerable arch. There was a satisfying grunt of pain. Take that. Snapping her head backward, she tried to aim for his nose. This time, the results were less satisfying. The man pinioning her shifted smoothly, making her head ring as it struck the muscled shoulder he twisted into her attack. Stars exploded behind her eyelids. A hand twisted hers up behind her back until moving meant a painful gasp for breath. His other hand wound around her long ponytail, rendering her immobile.
“Pax,” a rough voice growled in her ear.
She wasn’t that crazy. Or that trusting.
Instead, she kicked harder, trying to buck her attacker off. Her breath sounded harsh even to her own ears, but she hadn’t heard a sound from him after his initial protest at having his foot crushed. So not good. If only she could get her head around to see her attacker, she’d have a better idea of what she was up against.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
The warrior restraining her was hard bodied and harder eyed. Tilting her head back against his chest, she looked up into a face that was almost alien in its handsomeness. Gold eyes glowing at her in the darkness. Dark hair woven into hundreds of braids, each fastened with a small topaz. Tawny-colored skin that was eminently lickable. A firm mouth. No. There was nothing soft about this male at all.
Is there something about deserts and jungles, heat and shadowy interiors, that make for the perfect romance? What do you think? I didn’t meet Miu’s Guardian in the Mayan pyramids, but I wish I had. That would have been one heck of a tour.
Dorchester Love Spell