Penton Legacy Series, Book 1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: June 12, 2012
Number of pages: 372
Following a worldwide pandemic whose vaccine left human blood deadly to vampires, the vampire community is on the verge of starvation and panic. Some have fanned into rural areas, where the vaccine was less prevalent, and are taking unsuspecting humans as blood slaves. Others are simply starving, which for a vampire is worse than death—a raging hunger in a creature too weak to feed.
Immune to these struggles—at first—is Penton, a tiny community in rural Chambers County, Alabama, an abandoned cotton mill town that has been repopulated by charismatic vampire Aidan Murphy, his scathe of 50 vampires, and their willingly bonded humans. Aidan has recruited his people carefully, believing in a peaceful community where the humans are respected and the vampires retain a bit of their humanity.
But an unresolved family feud and the paranoia of the Vampire Tribunal descend on Penton in the form of Aidan’s brother, Owen Murphy. Owen has been issued a death warrant that can only be commuted if he destroys Penton—and Aidan, against whom he’s held a grudge since both were turned vampire in 17th-century Ireland. Owen begins a systematic attack on the town, first killing its doctor, then attacking one of Aidan’s own human familiars.
To protect his people, Aidan is forced to go against his principles and kidnap an unvaccinated human doctor—and finds himself falling in love for the first time since the death of his wife in Ireland centuries ago.
Dr. Krystal Harris, forced into a world she never knew existed, must face up to her own abusive past to learn if the feelings she’s developing for her kidnapper are real—or just a warped, supernatural kind of Stockholm Syndrome in which she’s allowing herself to become a victim yet again.
Krystal Harris pulled to the shoulder of the two-lane road—highway was too grand a word—and punched the button to turn on the old green Corolla’s dome light. She counted to five before thwacking it with the heel of her palm, and a dim light blinked as if considering her demand. It stayed on—this time.
The car was a dinosaur, but it was a paid-for dinosaur.
She dug a folded Alabama road map from beneath her briefcase on the passenger seat, smoothing the creases to make sure she hadn’t driven past Penton, which she suspected was no more than a wide spot on a narrow road. She didn’t want to get lost out here in the boonies.
Yep, County Road 70. The highway to Penton just looked like the express lane to nowhere.
A gust of wind rocked the car, sending icy air around the loose door seals. Maybe the chill of this night was an omen that she should take this job if they offered it, just so she could buy a more respectable form of transportation. Still, doubts nagged at her. What kind of clinic conducted a job interview at nine p.m.? She should never have agreed to it, but the Penton Clinic administrator had waved big bucks in front of her huge college and med school debts, and she’d trotted after them like a donkey after a carrot.
“You had the goody-two-shoes idea of practicing rural medicine, plus you’re already here,” she chided herself, clicking off the overhead and pulling back onto the road. “And you’ve gotta admit, this is rural.”
Another omen, and not a good one: she was talking to herself. Out loud.
A couple of miles later, her headlights illuminated a battered wooden sign covered in peeling paint: Welcome to Penton, Alabama. Founded 1890. Population 3,275.
Twenty years ago, maybe. Krys had done her Penton homework, and that was the boomtown population, when the mammoth East Alabama Mill still churned out threads and batting. It had wheezed its final belch a decade ago, and the town had suffered a slow death by attrition even before the pandemic. The most recent listing Krys found online estimated a population of three hundred. She was surprised they could afford to hire a doctor, much less pay a more-than-competitive wage.
But this was what she wanted, right? A place to practice medicine and be her own boss, to find a community where she could belong? After growing up in Birmingham—the wrong side of Birmingham—she hated the grime and crowds and noise of the city.
Lost in thought as she approached the outskirts of town, she thought she saw an animal in the road—a deer or a bear, maybe—God only knew what wildlife lived out here. But it was a man. He wore a long coat that flapped in the wind and was backlit by a lone streetlight in front of an abandoned convenience store. She’d have blown past him if he hadn’t moved into the middle of the road when the glare of her headlights hit him like a spotlight.
He stood with his hands in his pockets, feet planted apart, watching calmly as she floored the brakes. The Corolla’s old tires squealed, stinking up the air with the smell of hot rubber and stressed brakes.
Good Lord. Was he nuts?
She got the car stopped and took a deep breath, hands frozen to the wheel, her muscles jittery from the aftershock. The man walked around and tapped on her driver’s side window, motioning for her to lower it.
Krys’s foot hovered over the accelerator, indecisive. Should she drive on and get the hell out of here?
No, by God, she should not. She’d at least lower the window enough to tell the jerk how close he’d come to ending his life as a hood ornament on a green Toyota Dinosaur.
He held up his empty hands in a gesture of peace. Right. Like he was going to hold up a sign that said Beware of Murderous Backwoods Whack Job.
She snaked her right hand to her purse in the passenger seat, wrapped cold fingers around the handle of a small pistol, and slipped it into the pocket of her suede jacket—after she was sure the man had seen it. The .38 Smith & Wesson snub-nose was her security blanket, and she knew how to use it.
His only reaction to the gun was a raised eyebrow. “I have a man injured here.” His voice was deep and melodic, and he had a trace of an accent, as if he’d grown up not speaking English but had been around a few too many Southerners. “You the doctor coming to Penton for the interview?”
She lowered her window an inch and stared as he knelt next to the driver’s side door, putting his face at eye level. And damned if it wasn’t one of the most beautiful faces she’d seen since…maybe ever.
He’d pulled his dark hair into a short ponytail except for one wavy strand that had pulled loose and blew against his cheek. The streetlight cast enough illumination for her to see the dark lashes fringing blue eyes that reminded her not so much of summer skies or robin’s eggs but of the richness of an arctic sea flowing over darker depths. They appeared to lighten as he studied her with an intensity that almost robbed her lungs of air. He had a strong jaw, full lips, and a slight cleft in his chin.
If he was a serial killer, he was at least a pretty one.
He cleared his throat. “Are you Dr. Harris?”
Krys caught her breath. Good Lord, what was wrong with her? She’d been practically drooling through a half-open window as though he were Adonis personified. He could be Charles Manson’s separated-at-birth, unidentical twin.
Except he knew her name.
This is the first book in the Penton Legacy Series by Susannah Sandlin. This series was on my radar for a while, especially after I read an interview with the author on another blog, but I hadn't yet read it until the tour from Bewitching Book Tours came along.
As far as I can tell, the story happens in what is either the slight future or an alternate earth. A global pandemic has caused most of the population to receive a vaccine that makes their blood lethal to vampires. The vampires hope that if they can wait out this generation, the next's blood will once again be healthy. Unfortunately, because of the loss of their food supply, vampires are literally starving and taking more risks than they once were about how and where they fed.
The story opens with a Prologue in the POV of Matthias Ludlam, master vampire and Tribunal member. Matthias is getting an update from a private investigator he has hired to locate his son, William. Matthias is less than pleased to find out that William has pledged himself to Aidan Murphy in the small backwoods town of Penton, Alabama. Matthias finds out that Aidan has built up quite a number of followers into his scathe and has a large population of unvaccinated human blood donors that are bonded to the vampires in Aidan's scathe. Matthias feels that Aidan is amassing an army and wants it broken up. First, to get his son William back, and secondly, to get his hands on some of the unvaccinated humans.
In chapter one, we get to meet Aidan Murphy as he heads back to Penton after meeting with potential new scathe members. Aidan's idea is that human familiars are vampire equals, and he wanted a safe place for the two to live in peace and harmony. He thought they were flying below the Tribunal's radar until his brother Owen shows up and starts killing Penton residents. Aidan suspects someone from the Tribunal is backing Owen, but without certainty it limits his options. He is actually on his way to interview a replacement for their murdered doctor, when he gets the news that his business manager has been attacked.
Krystal Harris is a new doctor and very suspicious of how such a small town can afford the amount of salary they are promising her to come and work for them. But the student loans need to be repaid, so she is headed for a night time job interview. Once she gets into town, she is flagged down to help an man who has been brutally attacked, Aidan's business manager. And just that quickly, Krystal finds herself immersed into the vampire's hidden world.
I found this to be a very interesting book and enjoyed it a lot. I thought that a vaccine that changed the blood chemistry in such as way as to make it lethal to vampire's was a very unique idea. The author did a fantastic job of using characters and dialogue to really move the story along. She wasn't afraid to take some risk with the storyline, and I think that it gave the book a nice shiny edge to it. I am giving this one 4 stars on Goodreads.
Penton Legacy Series, Book 2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: October 9, 2012
Number of pages: 327
With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal.
A Scottish gallowglass warrior turned vampire in the early 17th century, Mirren Kincaid once served the Tribunal as its most creative and ruthless executioner—a time when he was known as the Slayer. But when assigned a killing he found questionable, Mirren abandoned the Tribunal’s political machinations and disappeared—only to resurface two centuries later as the protector and second-in-command of Penton. Now the Tribunal wants him back on their side—or dead.
To break their rogue agent, they capture Glory Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, and send her to restore Mirren’s bloodthirsty nature. But instead of a monster, Glory sees a man burdened by the weight of his past. Could her magic touch—meant by the tribunal to bring out a violent killer—actually help Mirren break his bonds and discover the love he doesn’t believe he deserves?
It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.
What was Matthias thinking, throwing a human woman in the cell with a vampire who’d been locked up and starved for over a month?
Mirren waited on the bench, his back against the wall, his head down. Waited until Matthias climbed the steps, slammed the door, clicked the dead bolt home. Waited until he could get control of the hunger that had begun raging the second the woman stumbled down the stairway. She was unvaccinated, and he wanted nothing more than to take her, blood and body, until there was nothing left.
If he did that, he’d be no better than the version of Mirren Kincaid he’d tried so hard to leave behind. He’d be the Slayer again. His hands could too easily remember the mindless sweep of the sword, the heavy fall of the battle-ax, the controlled back-thrust of a heavy firearm. If the cold darkness ever fell over him again, he feared he’d embrace it.
“Mister, you awake?”
Shit. She would have to be a talker. Mirren hated a talky woman. They always expected you to talk back.
He raised his head slowly and caught his breath. She was young, maybe mid-twenties, and pretty in a rode-hard kind of way.
“Your eyes are silver—I’ve seen enough vampires since I was kidnapped to know when your eyes get lighter, it means you’re hungry. But I’ve never seen any like yours. How long has it been since you ate? Umm…Make that how long since you drank?”
If the stupid woman kept walking toward him, he wouldn’t be held responsible. “Stay where you are.” He narrowed his eyes at her, thinking. How could she help him without sending his need so far over the edge he lost control of it?
She eeked when he shifted on the bench and turned his back toward her. “Untie me.”
She stumbled a little when she reached the bench and sat hard. The woman was stoned out of her gourd. He could smell the drugs on her. “Your wrists are all torn up. That has to hurt.” She sat on the bench behind him, and Mirren breathed in her scent with his eyes closed. Damn, but he wanted to feed so badly his muscles ached.
She muttered as she worked, her drug-addled fingers slipping off the rope. “You’re so big that I’m surprised this rope could hold you. I should be able to…Let’s see here, it’s too dark. Man, this is funky rope.”
“Stop yapping, start untying.” She had that broad, soft Southern accent he found sexy, but she used it way too much.
“Yeah, yeah, okay.” She tugged harder on the ropes, burning his sensitive wrists with each pull. “Sorry, sorry. Why is it burning your skin like that?”
Mirren growled and spoke through gritted teeth. “It’s laced with silver, and I’m a freaking vampire. Just untie me.” Damn, he had to get himself under control, or he’d scare the woman to death and she wouldn’t finish freeing his arms or feed him either one.
“Well, you’ve got the funny eyes, but I don’t see any fangs.”
God help him, he’d show her some fangs. “I said I was a vampire. Now finish untying me.”
Mirren twisted his wrists and felt the rope give way—the woman had gotten it loose enough that he didn’t need her help.
“But wait, how do I know you—”
She gasped as Mirren pulled his wrists apart, popped the rope onto the cell floor, and shifted around to face her.
“Can you…?” She paused and swallowed hard, edging away from him on the bench. Mirren’s gaze dropped to her mouth. “Can you feed without killing me?”
Mirren nodded slowly. Maybe. Maybe not.
This is the second book in the Penton Legacy Series by Susannah Sandlin. I read it immediately following the first book, Redemption. This time the main character is Merrin, Aidan's second in command and the former Slayer of the Tribunal.
This story opens as the last did, with Matthias Ludlam, this time in Georgia. He is kidnapping a young woman who has some kind of psychic powers that he plans to figure out and exploit. That she is unvaccinated is a pleasant bonus. He has plans to take her back to New York with him, but that changes when he gets a call that his people have managed to take Mirren from a daysleep safehouse. Matthias wants to break Mirren and bring him back under the Tribunal's aegis.
The first chapter bring us into Mirren's POV as he awakens in the cell Matthias' people have placed him. Matthias tries to get Mirren to tell him about Aidan's scathe, but Mirren lies to him and refuses to betray Aidan. With the geographic limitations of his and Aidan's bond, all Mirren can do is wait for the right opportunity.
Next we meet Glorianna, the young psychic that Matthias kidnapped from Atlanta. She has been passed around as a blood donor and kept drugged with heroin to keep her zoned and complacent. But with all that, they still can't get her to tell them how she is psychic. Matthias finally decides that she isn't going to be much more use to him and puts her down in the cell with a half starved Mirren. He figures Mirren will kill her, snap from the guilt and then he can be taken back in the Tribunal fold. Too bad William finally figured out where Mirren was and shows up to rescue him.
What can I say about this book? Let's just say that Susannah Sandlin and Joss Whedon have a few things in common. ***spoiler alert*** Namely the killing of characters! I was shocked when it happened. Never saw it coming. Figured that some how it would all work out. Yeah, didn't happen. I can say one thing, with this new information about the author, it will definitely keep me in suspense in future books. Anytime things get dicey, I will start worrying about "will she or won't she". Great book, 4 stars on Goodreads.
Penton Legacy Series, Book 3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date of Publication: February 5, 2013
Number of pages: 328
The bloody war between the Vampire Tribunal and the defiant scathe of Penton, Alabama, rages on, forcing its residents and their bonded humans to retreat into the underground fortress of last resort: Omega. There, Will Ludlam is charged with the care of Penton's humans, though he longs to fight alongside his vampire brethren. He knows the risks: as the renegade son of the Tribunal's vicious leader, Will's capture could doom the resistance.Excerpt:
Yet he is determined to prove his worth to his adopted scathe, to his vengeful father and to former US Army officer Randa Thomas, his beautiful, reluctant partner. Randa has little faith that a former member of the vampire elite has what it takes to fight a war. But as their enemies descend upon Omega, Will's polished charm and Randa's guarded heart finally give way to the warrior within.
Will stopped and scented the air again. There were two vampires nearby; one belonged to the Penton scathe, and one didn’t.
He ignored both vampires and skirted to the back of the street where the burned shell of his house still smelled of smoke and ash after three days. Aligning his position with the oak tree twenty feet behind what was left of his chimney, he paced forty steps into the woods.
A thorny bramble that had been draped over a small, scrubby bush pricked his fingers when he pulled it back. Grasping the trunk of the bush, he eased it from its loose grasp in the soil, exposing the top of a metal box.
The loud click of a cocked pistol preceded the cold press of steel against the back of his head by less than a second.
He inhaled, annoyed. A rookie mistake. He’d gotten so engrossed in his task he’d let someone slip up on him.
* * *
Randa grinned, enjoying the disgusted look on Will’s face. “If I were your father, I’d already have the silver spoon back in your mouth, Willy. He’d have you trussed up like a rodeo calf by now, hauling you back to wherever it is he lives when he’s not terrorizing innocent people.”
Will Ludlam was the kind of guy Randa Thomas had hated as a human, and she didn’t like him a bit more as a vampire. Less, in fact. Not only was he a spoiled rich boy, he was now a virtually immortal spoiled rich boy. He had probably been a blue-chip jock in school with a 4.0 GPA and a string of girls trailing his every step.
Plus, he annoyed the hell out of her. The consummate smartass.
“No, if you were my father, you’d have slit my throat—not enough to kill me, but enough to make sure I couldn’t fight back.” His voice was soft, calm. “Then you’d hand me over to your sadistic, freakshow of a second-in-command Shelton, who would play with me until I couldn’t take it anymore. Only when I was good and broken would you return the silver spoon to my mouth.”
Good God, would any father really do that? Will didn’t sound as if he were joking. Randa relaxed her stance for only a split second before the world tilted and she hit the ground, landing on her back with Will stretched out on top of her in a full body press. And he had her gun.
“Damn it.” She pushed against him but it was like pressing on bedrock.
He propped on his elbows and grinned down at her. His hat had fallen off in the scuffle and the moonlight glinted off his hair, making it look silver instead of a naturally streaked blond. And he had dimples, as if God hadn’t already rewarded him with enough in the looks department.
“And if I were my father, you would be dead. Or worse. Believe me, with Matthias, there’s always much worse. Give up?”
She squirmed again, but froze when she realized he was getting turned on by her movements. There was definitely more of him pressing on her than there had been a few seconds earlier.
He laughed, a white glint of teeth in the moonlight. “Oh, don’t stop moving, sweetheart. This is getting more and more interesting.”
Yeah, she could feel exactly how interested he was getting. She felt a very un-vampirelike flush of heat as he wedged a knee between her legs. Damn it. She clenched her teeth at her body’s betrayal—which he’d be able to sense. She hated being a vampire; there was no sense of privacy. “Get. Off. Me. Now.”
Will lowered his head and, damn him, inhaled deeply, with his face pressed against the side of her neck. Her carotid artery also thumped in a very unvampire-like cadence. She waited for the smartass comments to start.
Instead, he lifted his head and looked her in the eye. She could swear his heartbeat sped up, although it was hard to tell over the pounding of her own. Well, this was awkward.
He blinked and opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again.
Well, that was one good thing. Will had been stricken dumb, at least for a moment. It wouldn’t last.
Today, we welcome Susannah Sandlin to Musings and Ramblings. Let's all give her a big Geeky welcome!
I have some questions for you that are writer specific as well as some fun stuff so that we can really get to know the real you. *grin* Plus we will finish things off with round of Think Fast. Ready to begin?
1. Tell us something about yourself that's not in your bio.
I’m a horrible insomniac. Once I fall asleep I sleep, but it can take me forever to fall asleep. Too many thoughts (and crazy characters) running around in my head!2. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I have a full-time day job and then write in the evenings, so I don’t have a lot of free time. Lately, I’ve gotten interested in digital scrapbooking. Such geeky fun, and I can dawdle away hours without realizing it! (This is not a good thing.)3. How did you choose the genres you write in?
I’m not sure if I chose it, or it chose me! I read across all genres, but my favorites as a kid were Stephen King and Anne Rice, and then Laurell K. Hamilton…plus, I lived in New Orleans for a long time. So paranormal was probably inevitable. I write both urban fantasy and paranormal romantic thrillers.4. Is there any particular author or book that has influenced you or your writing?
I’ve always been a voracious reader, so there have probably been a lot of influences. Stephen King is the first author I remember rushing out to find everything he’d written. I still try to keep up with his work, although I’m a few books behind. But his work gave me an appreciation of storytelling and character development…and a big dose of gross-out!5. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism was probably from a bookstore manager where I’d gone for a book signing after my first novel was released. He asked when people were going to finally get tired of the “junk” that people like me were writing. Needless to say, I won’t be going back to that bookstore. Ever. If that happened now, I’d tell him to take a flying leap off a tall building, but that was my first book, it had only been out a couple of weeks, and my little feelings got hurt.
The best compliment was from my alpha reader, who’s a tough reader—she’s the only one who gets to read the early drafts and is unflinchingly honest. So when she said Omega was the best thing I’d written, it meant a lot!Fun Stuff
6. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, fictional or real, who would it be and why?
Oh well, it has to be the early 19th-century pirate Jean Lafitte, who plied the waters off Louisiana. He was apparently quite handsome and polished…when he wanted to be. He’s a character in my urban fantasy series (in undead form), and I’ve gotten quite obsessed with him!7. You are going to be stranded on a deserted island and bring 3 luxury items. What would they be?
I guess this island doesn’t have electricity, so I couldn’t say an air conditioner, a loaded eReader with a charger, and a lifetime supply of pizza, right? So I’ll bring three luxurious guys: a construction worker to build a shelter, a survivalist to catch food, and a sexy songwriter with a guitar. I’m good with that.8. Pick two celebrities to be your parents. Who are they and why?
OMG. You are evil! I’ll say Prince Charles and Camilla, because then even though I’d inherit beaver teeth and look kind of horsey, I’d be filthy rich and could laze around castles in the countryside all the time when I wasn’t causing royal scandals.9. What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Ha! Some Coffee Mate Sugar Free Caramel Macchiato. Two boxes of Quest Nutrition protein bars. Strawberries. Baby spinach. Dog food. A leftover steak. And that’s about it.10. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Probably something like “The Magnificent Obsession” because I’m a tad obsessive…a former critique partner calls me “Rain Man.” I don’t think it’s a compliment. It makes me pretty productive as an author, but drives my friends up the wall.Think Fast
Summer or Winter? Winter. Which in the Deep South lasts a month, max.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee! Love coffee.
Cake or Pie? I have to choose? Cake.
Car or Truck? Doglovers need trucks!
Print or Electronic? Both, but I’ll give a slight edge to print.
Thanks for coming by and spending some time with us. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?
Check me out online! I’m on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SusannahSandlin); Twitter (@SusannahSandlin) and on the web at www.susannahsandlin.com. My daily book blog Preternatura is at Suzanne-johnson.blogspot.com.
Thanks for having me here today!
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Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.
To connect with the author online:
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