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I promise I'll announce the release date for Blood Dark as soon as possible.

Win the First Four Blackthorn Books – Signed!

Earlier this month, I mentioned that Bookouture asked if my readers might like to be in with a chance of winning the first four Blackthorn books in a giveaway. My answer was easy, and you proved me right with a fantastic response to the prospect both here and on Facebook. Thank you!

Well, today’s the day!

Thanks to the uber-lovely Kim Nash, Bookouture’s Publicity Manager, we have a one-off-never-before-done giveaway of all four of the first Blackthorn books (in paperback) signed by me.

But, for the first time ever in a Blackthorn giveaway, the winner isn’t going to be picked out of a hat. This time, Kim is going to judge the entries and select the winner!

HOW TO ENTER

All you have to do to enter is give your response to:

WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO BLACKTHORN?

It’s a wide-open question that allows die-hard fans to enter as well as those wanting to try the series for the first time. You can comment on what first drew you to the series, or what compels you to keep reading it. Maybe it’s your favourite series and you’d like to share why, or you simply want to say what (or who!) you love about it. How you answer is up to you!

THE RULES

  • You will need to post your answer either in the comment section below OR, if you’d prefer, you can email me. Please include ‘competition’ in the subject line.
  • You can only enter once.

CLOSING DATE

The competition is open now and you have until midnight (UK time) on Tuesday 2nd June to post your entry. I hope that gives you plenty of time to mull it over. The winner will be announced on Friday 5th June.

Whereas I usually like to jump on and comment on entries, as this is as judged competition this time, I’ll be good and stay quiet. The very best of luck to everyone who chooses to enter, and have fun coming up with your answer!

Have a brilliant week! xxx

Blackthorn’s Most Heartless Anti-Hero?

Sometimes, conversations with my readers spark a blog post. This blog post was inspired by a collection of conversations about Caleb Dehain, the “hero” of Blood Roses.

*WARNING: Contains HUGE spoilers for Blood Roses*

Blackthorn’s most controversial book to date is Blood Roses. Its hero, Caleb Dehain, is the most polarizing of all. Why? Because when it comes to traits that romantic heroes (even anti-heroes) are supposed to have, Caleb could be deemed as falling short. This is exacerbated by the question as to whether he’d redeemed himself in any way by the end of Blood Roses. Some readers say yes, some say no. Some readers think he has every potential of redeeming himself by the end of the series, others think he’s already on the slippery slope from anti-hero to outright villain.

I think that’s why Caleb has been one of my favourite characters to write – not only because of his unpredictability, but because from writing his opening scene in Blood Roses to his final scene in… okay, no spoilers ;-)… I think he has the toughest character journey. And it’s hard to call what the outcome will be. A big part of that is because, like all of my heroes, Caleb is damaged. But when it comes to an injection of darkness, Caleb has a syringe-full – and it’s easy to think it’s gone straight to his heart.

I’ve written some detailed posts about Caleb before so I’m going to be wary of repeating myself, but it seems that one of the key things that has haunted Caleb’s character since Blood Roses is that question of redemption I mentioned above.

No one can deny that Caleb was hardline with Leila through most of the book. I know his treatment of her had some of you in tears, and plenty more screaming in frustration (and that’s not ignoring the heart flutters either). And I know many who endured the intense and relentless battle between these two characters wanted, pleaded even, that, by the end, Caleb would be on bended knee – either in a confession of true love for Leila, or because he’d received the pointy end of her shoe.

But there was neither.

A few readers have asked me why I chose to end the book that way.

Keeping it authentic 

Firstly, ultimately it’s down to retaining the authenticity of a character. Yes, Blood Roses is a romance because it is, first and foremost, about the developing love (and hate) relationship between Caleb Dehain and Leila McKay. But to have had Caleb professing his undying love for Leila by the end of the story meant that, in less than three days, Caleb would have had to have:

  • Overcome the psychological scarring caused by the serryn who had held him captive as a youngster, torturing and degrading him for days – and all for fun.
  • Pushed aside all the memories of the witnessing the same treatment of countless vampires, some children, at that same serryn’s hands.
  • Been guilty of dismissing how his older brother, who he worshipped, had been cruelly murdered by a serryn.
  • Accepted that the species renowned for seductive smiles and pretty faces fronting inhumane hearts were actually not all that bad.
  • Believed, after countless encounters with serryns, there was an exception to the rule, thus accepting that his entire belief system about them could be wrong.
  • Believed that a serryn fighting for her survival and the survival of her sister, wouldn’t put on a mask of innocence just to fool him – and stab him in the back when it was turned.
  • Had complete faith that Leila truly had no intention of fulfilling her destiny and prevent the vampire uprising – this bearing in mind she had turned up laden with her own prejudices against his kind.
  • Had the arrogance to believe that someone he had treated so badly was capable of falling for him – especially as she’d subsequently forsake her own destiny.
  • Overcome the sense of betrayal that still lingered from Feinith’s betrothal to Jarin (whose actions had led to Seth being found by a serryn in the first place).
  • Over-ridden his most basic instincts as the prophesied leader to kill serryns.
  • Allowed himself to be emotionally vulnerable in front of the one woman most likely to throw it all back in his face because of the very nature of what she is.
  • And, once he’d found out it was his role to be that leader and save his race from the iron fist oppression of the human, been willing to throw away any hope his own kind had for the sake of his own selfish love.

If Caleb was capable of all the above after just three days, not only do I think that would have reduced the authenticity of his character, I think it would have diminished just how fragile his heart really is – a heart that, by those very clues, is still very much beating.

Anticipation of the future 

Secondly, with the overarching plot of the Blackthorn series in mind, it was the most appropriate way to end Blood Roses bearing in mind the essential role Caleb is prophesied to play in the future of Blackthorn. After all, by the end of Blood Deep, the writing is literally on the wall: A war is coming. A stand-off is going to occur between the head of the Global Council, Sirius Throme, and the prophesied vampire leader, Caleb Dehain, with devastating consequences. Everyone else is going to be caught in the middle – the “good” guys intent on preventing the clash from happening.

That prospect is so much more interesting, I think, when not only do you know the extent of the potential of a character as dark as Caleb but, because of that darkness, you really can’t tell how it’s going to pan out. Basically, is Caleb mad, bad and dangerous enough to take on Sirius? Could the impact really be that devastating? Or could Leila potentially turn him around in time?

If the latter question was as easy to answer as the first two, where’s the tension in that?

At the end of Blood Roses, a heartless Caleb would have killed Leila and claimed his Tryan status. He didn’t. It would take a whole other blog post to summarise why – but it’s all there in the story itself. Even when Caleb realised that Leila had lost all hope in redeeming him, that she had finally decided to kill him, he couldn’t see it through. Instead, he chose to take Leila’s serrynity from her so that using her was no longer an option. More than that, Caleb took a massive leap of faith by trusting Leila when she claimed she could find an alternative to what seemed to be an inevitably catastrophic future for them all. She asked him to give her seven days. He accepted – but, of course, with reservations.

I don’t think this makes him heartless, I think it makes him astute. I think it’s an act indicative of what makes him a survivor in Blackthorn. And the fact he’s not shown all his cards yet, that he’s still holding back, shows the extent of just how guarded his heart is – a heart guarded because he’s more than aware of the scars that still linger there. At the same time, I also think, for Caleb, the ending to Blood Roses is the first glimmer of hope…

…if Leila is true to her word. The sight isn’t going to be pretty if not!

*This post is with special thanks to Suzanne, who has waited so patiently in the wings for its arrival. xxx

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Next time: I have news of that book giveaway coming soon!