Thanks to Simon & Schuster, we have an exclusive excerpt from Molly Harper’s newest novel, The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires, which is the second installment from her paranormal romance series Half Moon Hallow. The novel officially releases on July 31st.
Want to know more about the series? Here is a little blurb from Simon & Schuster:
Set in the world of Half Moon Hollow, made famous in Molly’s Nice Girls Don’t… series, this stand-alone comedic novel features a daytime vampire concierge who helps the undead take care of errands and appointments during sunlight hours. Iris Scanlon’s only rule: relationships are for business, not pleasure. But when she finds newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, her quiet life gets turned upside down. Could it be that what she really needs is some intrigue and romance—and her very own stray vampire?
Thanks to Simon & Schuster, one lucky commenter will have a chance to win a copy of The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires. As always, details are listed at the end of the post.
When Molly Harper was eight years old, she set up a “writing office” in her parents’ living room, complete with an old manual typewriter and a toy phone. And she (very slowly) pecked out the story of her third-grade class taking a trip around the world and losing a kid in each city. She had a dark sense of humor even then.
When Molly was considerably older, she headed for Western Kentucky University, where she majored in print journalism. After graduation, she landed a job with the Paducah Sun and married her high school sweetheart, David, a local police officer. After six years at the newspaper, Molly took a more family-friendly secretarial position at a local church office.
Her husband worked nights and Molly was alone with their small child in the “The Apartment of Lost Souls.” A big fan of vampire movies and TV shows, she decided to write a vampire romance novel. “I wondered what would be the most humiliating way possible to be turned into a vampire—a story that a vampire would be embarrassed to share with their vampire buddies over a nice glass of Type O,” said Molly.
Molly created Jane Jameson, a bit of an accidental loser. Jane is single, almost 30, and a librarian working in Half-Moon Hollow, Ky. She has become a permanent fixture on her Mama’s prayer list. And despite the fact that she’s pretty good at her job, she just got canned so her boss could replace her with someone who occasionally starts workplace fires. Jane drowns her sorrows at the local faux nostalgia-themed sports bar. On her way home, she’s mistaken for a deer and shot by a drunk hunter. And then she wakes up as a vampire. The three-book Jane Jameson series–which includes Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs, Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men and Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever—was released in 2009. The series is fresh and funny, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. Where else would you find a vampire named Dick Cheney, excerpts from The Guide for the Newly Undead, and information on the support group, Friends and Family of the Undead? Molly’s first non-paranormal trade paperback, And One Last Thing, a very funny, wife-gets-revenge-on-cheating-hubby novel, was released in July 2010.
Her books are published by Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. They are available in print, as e-books and audio books at major book stores and on Amazon.
Molly is a native of Kentucky. She lives in Paducah with her husband and children.
Want to read more from Molly Harper?
(In this scene, the vampire council comes to interrogate Iris.)
Ophelia cleared her throat again. “We’ve come to ask you about one of your clients, a Mr. Calix. Have you met him?”
“No, not face-to-face. I usually don’t meet my clients in person. It’s more comfortable for both sides. Is Mr. Calix in some sort of trouble?”
Mr. Crown lifted an elegant black brow and sneered at me. “He’s missing.”
“Oh, no!” I exclaimed, hoping that my distress came through as concern for a client. “That’s awful.”
“It’s nothing to worry about, dear,” Mr. Marchand said, taking me by the elbow and leading me to the grouping of cedar benches that my dad had installed around a stone fire pit near the rosebushes. Ophelia was watching me carefully as I sat down, hoping to catch some nervous twinge or tic. But I was the picture of clueless composure. If anything, the complexities of my job taught me to keep my poker face even when faced with the bizarre, the alarming, the odd naked human who can’t seem to remember why he woke up in a vampire’s living room with a splitting headache and a new tattoo. The only exception was Cal, who seemed to make my equilibrium all wonky just by looking at me.
“When was the last time you were in his home?” Sophie asked, her eyes drilling tiny holes into my forehead, as if she expected all of my secrets to come spilling out from her sheer concentration. Sadly, most of my secrets were pretty lame, with the exception of the one currently cowering under a window seat upstairs.
“Friday,” I said, looking to Ophelia. “Didn’t you ask me this on the phone the other night?”
“It’s not your place to question the Council; it’s the Council’s place to question you,” Mr. Crown spat crossly.
I lifted the corners of my mouth, smiling mirthlessly.
“I think you’ll find that my place is being polite to the Council for the sake of friendly cooperation. I don’t actually have to answer any of the Council’s questions, since I’m not governed by vampire laws. I’m a living, breathing United States citizen. I have all kinds of annoying civil rights.”
Mr. Crown huffed. “Just have Sophie examine her. An adjustment of attitude is certainly in order.”
I fought to keep a straight face as a ripple of fear zipped up my spine. Sophie would drag the truth from my mouth. And then Cal would be dragged from my house. And then my business would fail, I’d lose the house, and Gigi and I would be dragged onto the streets. There would be an exhausting amount of dragging.
As quick and lethal as a cobra, Sophie slithered toward me. I closed my eyes, concentrating on the scents around me: the spiced tang of geranium, the heady sweetness of honeysuckle and roses. Because passing out under scrutiny would not scream “guileless, innocent bystander” to the vampires clustered around me.
“Are you sure that’s necessary, Ophelia?” Mr. Marchand asked, frowning as I let Sophie step well within the acceptable social-space bubble.
Ophelia was staring at me, considering. I was afraid to show any fear, any hesitation, because I didn’t want to tip my hand. Innocent people didn’t protest telling the truth, even if compelled through abusive psychic means.
After some consideration, Ophelia nodded at Sophie, who didn’t do me the courtesy of looking me in the eye as she wrapped her long, cold fingers around my hands. I winced, knowing that the burning pain of her talent would start singing through my skin at any moment. But other than mild discomfort in the areas where she was touching me, I didn’t feel much. Sophie and I shared a moment of perplexed hesitation. Her hands seemed to slip uselessly over mine, unable to get the grip she wanted. She frowned, grasping my hands so tightly that I whimpered under the pressure.
Was it the geranium oil? Did it have some unknown properties beyond being a stinky natural bug repellent?
Nope. Wait. Blinding, disorienting pain. Sophie’s filtercrippling powers are a go.
“Ow!” I shrieked as Sophie’s handprint seemed to sear into my skin. I sank to my knees on the grass, limply wrenching my hand away from her.
“Look into my eyes,” Sophie commanded, her voice stripped of all pretense of charm. Breathing through the pain, I met her gaze. Her irises flared to black, and I was plunging through bottomless space. My head seemed so heavy, too heavy to lift. Images of the vampires standing around me, the house, swirled around my head like jetsam in a tornado.
The sting from Sophie’s grip was venom spreading through my system, scorching from my arm to my chest. Hot iron claws dug into my throat. At any moment, they would begin scraping words from my tongue . . . Or would they? Unlike in previous “interviews” with Sophie, I felt a strange sort of detachment from the proceedings. Don’t get me wrong, it burned like the dickens, but I was able to think around it, like a strange little detour in my brain that gave me time to think before I spoke. I blew through the pain like it was a labor contraction, forcing myself to concentrate on Sophie’s questions, on the words coming out of my mouth. I could think clearly with some distance between my brain and the throbbing heat of my skin. I couldn’t prevent myself from telling the truth, but I could keep myself from sharing unnecessary details. I could work around the compulsion to spill my guts.
I heard myself repeat the barest possible account of my visit to Cal’s house, how I’d arrived a little before sunset, how nothing had been out of the ordinary when I’d arrived. And nothing had been, really. My visit hadn’t gotten weird until I’d walked into the kitchen. It turned out I was quite the agile liar. That could be considered a skill set, right?
“Had you had any previous interactions with Mr. Calix?”
“It was my first day with him. I was dropping off the contracts. He hadn’t even called for any supplies yet,” I said.
“So you didn’t see anything amiss at the house?”
“Other than the moving boxes, not much,” I said.
“Do you know where Mr. Calix is now?”
Although I’d expected the question, the urge to respond honestly surprised me. The words were like an air bubble trapped in my throat. I could feel them stretching the tissue of my larynx, forcing their way out. Don’t tell them he’s upstairs, I commanded my brain. Tell them he moved to Pacoima to start a commune for vegetarian vampires. Tell them he’s looking into getting a sex-change operation and renaming himself Lulu Pleshette. I glanced up at the window, but I couldn’t see Cal. “I—I don’t know where he is.” I said.
I blew out a wheezing breath as Sophie relinquished her grip on my hand. It was the truth. I didn’t know exactly where he was. He could have been in the alcove. He could have been in the bathroom. He could have been in the basement. It was all about semantics . . . maybe I needed to look into law school once this was all over.
This giveaway is provided by Simon & Schuster
One winner will receive a copy of The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires by Molly Harper
Available July 31, 2012 from Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster
About this Book:
Iris Scanlon, Half-Moon Hollow’s only daytime vampire concierge, knows more about the undead than she’d like. Running all their daylight errands—from letting in the plumber to picking up some chilled O neg—gives her a look at the not-so-glamorous side of vampire life. Her rules are strict; relationships with vamps are strictly business, not friendship—and certainly not anything else. But then she finds her newest client, Cal, poisoned on his kitchen floor, and only Iris can help.
Cal – who would be devastatingly sexy, if Iris allowed herself to think that way – offers Iris a hefty fee for hiding him at her place until he figures out who wants him permanently dead. Even though he’s imperious, unfriendly and doesn’t seem to understand the difference between “employee” and “servant,” Iris agrees, and finds herself breaking more and more of her own rules to help him – particularly those concerning nudity.
Turns out what her quiet little life needed was some intrigue & romance—in the form of her very own stray vampire.
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