Guest Post from Author Lindsey Piper on “So… Paranormal Romance?” + Giveaway

Blood Warrior Blog Tour Button

Today I’d like to welcome Lindsey Piper, who recently came out with the second book in her absolutely compelling dark, gritty paranormal romance Dragon Kings series, Blood Warrior (read my review here). Lindsay is here to talk about about:

So… Paranormal Romance? by Lindsey Piper

One of the most exciting things about promoting Blood Warrior is that since my real name has been revealed, I can talk about how different (and similar) it is to write various romance genres. See, I’m actually historical romance author Carrie Lofty, as well as one half of the erotica co-writing partnership known as Katie Porter!
It’s a juggling act! But then again, I’ve always loved circuses.

Caged Warrior by Lindsey PiperThe idea of taking a new pseudonym was because the Dragon Kings was my paranormal romance debut. We certainly didn’t want fans of my lush, sensual historicals or my kinky, boundary-pushing erotic romances to pick up the series opener, Caged Warrior, and wonder what the heck they’d bought!

Genre expectations in romance are strong. The extremes are obvious examples: erotica will contain a sexual arc, while inspirationals will contain various themes about God and the characters’ relationships to God. Taking a new name was a way to make sure I was completely free of preconceptions as I wrote, and as new fans found the series.

The experience was fantastic.

I have a graduate degree in history, so when writing historical romance, I was always able—in fact, obligated—to be as accurate as possible. The trick when starting the Dragon Kings was worldbuilding. “What do you mean there’s no history book for me to read??” My editor made me go read Kresley Cole and watch Game of Thrones to help improve what I’d already done for years in historicals, which was build a framework for a romance, but to do so on a completely fictitious level.

(Now I’m a massive fan of both. And I learned tons!)

Blood Warrior by Lindsey PiperA turning point came when I realized how little I actually knew about this place I’d invented. Where do they live? How long do they live? How do they interact with humans? What is their religious background and how do their powers work and what clans do they inhabit, etc, etc , etc…

I sat down at a Starbucks with my playlist of choice—I always have a new playlist for each book—and handwrote fifty pages of detail. I don’t think I’ve written that much by hand since I was in high school! By the end of that massive, amazing purge, I’d created my own history book, so to speak. The question changed from “What do you mean there’s no history book for me to read?” to “You mean I get to make everything up??” My excitement was off the charts.

From that point on, I was hooked. I love writing historicals. I love writing contemporaries. But Lindsey Piper wants to write about dragons, demons, cage fighting, really strong men and women, evil cartel leaders, and love that’s all the stronger for having been forced in a violent world. Enjoy! I know I did!

Lindsey Piper PicAbout Lindsey Piper
Lindsey Piper is the alter ego of award-winning historical and contemporary romance author Carrie Lofty. Her hotly anticipated Dragon Kings series is her first foray into paranormal fiction. She lives and writes in Chicago.You can find more info on Lindsey’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads pages.


Lindsey is giving away a number of prizes on her blog tour:

Silent Warrior by Lindsey PiperGrand prize: $25.00 Gift card to Amazon, an ebook of Silent Warrior, and paperbacks of Caged Warrior and Blood Warrior.

Second place: Five winners will each get a paperback of Caged Warrior or Blood Warrior (winner’s choice) and swag!

Third place: Five winner will each get an ebook of Silent Warrior.

This is open internationally; to enter, use the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Blood Warrior by Lindsey Piper

Blood Warrior by Lindsey PiperFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Dragon Kings, #2
Length: 401 pages
Publisher: July 30, 2013
Date Released: Pocket Books
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

As a young man, sarcastic, violent Tallis Pendray believed the Dragon Kings’ survival depended on a prophecy delivered in dreams by a woman named “the Sun.” His role has been to complete inexplicable, even reprehensible tasks. First, by murdering a priest, he united his fragmented clan in their hatred of him. Dubbed “the Heretic,” Tallis fled his family’s Highland estate. Now disillusioned, he seeks revenge on the woman he holds responsible for two decades of exile.

Telepath Kavya Indranan is a charismatic, seductive cult leader born to a prominent family. However, she grew up terrorized by the ominous threat of her powerful, insane twin brother. On the run and hiding among the poor, she witnessed the destruction wrought by her clan’s centuries-old civil war. Maturity nurtures Kavya’s determination to end the cycle of bloodshed. Those who follow her call for peace have nicknamed her “the Sun.”

Bent on revenge, and without knowledge of Kavya’s noble intentions, Tallis kidnaps her on the eve of her groundbreaking announcement. The two watch in horror as her twin brutally smashes the tentative truce…and hunts the sister whose death would make him invincible.

Kavya is the Sun—revered, untouched, and bound by a lonely destiny that promises a deadly showdown against the last of her family. Tallis is the Heretic—despised and exiled because of actions that seem random, heartless, and contrary to the safety of the clans he protects. She’s not a goddess, and he’s not a natural born killer. A desperate trek from the Himalayan foothills to the Scottish Highlands reveals two secluded souls hidden by bloody reputations. Will their trust be strong enough to avert an all-out war that could destroy them, and their kind, forever?

My Review:

The worldbuilding of the Dragon Kings finally un-murks. On the other hand, the sheer dark, gritty gloom and doominess of Silent Warrior and Caged Warrior definitely dials down a couple of notches. As to which you prefer, the mileage certainly varies.

We’ve met the hero, Tallis of Pendray, in Caged Warrior. We discover that he not only wrapped up the action in that cage-match, he kicked it off by leading the Asters to Audrey’s house at the start of it all. (See my review for more details.)

Tallis was misled. He believed that the Asters only wanted to question Audrey. Why he let himself believe a criminal “family” would stop at civilized questions is beyond this reader. But the reason he allowed himself to be misled at all, that’s a whole other issue.

Tallis has been following the mental seduction of “The Sun” for 20 years. This female cult leader has promised him that she was leading their people towards reunification and peace, by having him murder key leaders blocking her path. Oh, and she promised him dream sex and a meeting with their totem Dragon god along the way.

But the kidnapping and torture of Audrey broke the spell she had over him, because she lied. Because the Asters murdered Audrey’s husband in cold blood. And because Audrey was his niece.

Tallis set out in search of the physical location of “The Sun” and the members of her cult, and found Kavye — an Indraman woman of the Dragon Kings, the real, true leader of the Sun cult, and not the woman who had driven him to execute Dragon Kings in her name. Instead, Kavye was the least powerful of an Indraman telepathic triplet, hiding from the mad brother who had murdered their sister and sought her life in order to merge her power with his.

That’s the curse of the Indraman clan.

Kavye’s brother found her disciples while Tallis was still figuring out the best way to disgrace her. Pashkah’s massacre of her followers ground any attempt at unification into the dust.

Tallis and Kavye ran from the madman. The irony that the Dragon’s gift to the Pendray is the berserker rage, and that the two of them are running from a Dragon King who has gone completely insane, is intended.

The Indraman are telepaths, and the only way that Tallis can fight off Kavye’s people is to give in to the insane side of his own nature. Losing his rationality is his best protection.

But Tallis still needs to think. If Kavye was not the woman who enthralled him, who is that temptress? Whose nefarious purpose has he been serving for 20 years? Whoever she is, she is not just his enemy, but the enemy of all the remaining Dragon Kings. She is especially the enemy of the woman he first wanted to disgrace, but now needs to protect at all costs, even against the beast that is part of his own nature.

Escape Rating B+: I liked Blood Warrior better than Caged Warrior because Kavye and Tallis start the story in positions of relative equality. They have different sets of powers, but Kavye doesn’t start out the story beaten down to nearly nothing, the way that Audrey/Nynn does in Caged Warrior. I also liked Silent Warrior (see review) a lot for the same reasons.

Caged Warrior by Lindsey PiperKavye is a bit naive about a few of the facts of life, and I don’t mean because she starts the story as a virgin. I mean that she believes that unification will be a whole lot easier than it could possibly be under the circumstances. Us regular humans have more trouble than she thinks her people will have, and we don’t have some of the more interesting curses they do, like the divided power of the Indraman twins and triplets.

Also she’s never explored the rest of the world outside her native India. Tallis has traveled the world, unfortunately mostly on murder missions for her evil mental twin. But he’s still led a much less sheltered life than she has.

On the other hand, she has a belief that things can get better, for them as individuals, and for their people. He doesn’t believe in much of anything. She gives him redemption, and he gives her, not just the right, but also the ability, to be her authentic self and feel real feelings and have an actual real life.

The other part that I enjoyed was that the backstory of the world of the Dragon Kings finally began to be revealed. Hallelujah! I needed this to get clearer for the overall story arc to make sense, and it’s getting there. We even met the Dragon.

Blood Warrior Blog Tour Button

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper

Caged Warrior by Lindsey PiperFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Dragon Kings, #1
Length: 404 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date Released: June 25, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.

Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning.

My Review:

Silent Warrior by Lindsey PiperI think it probably helps to read Silent Warrior (reviewed here) first. Not just because the same characters show up later in Caged Warrior, but because you get a fuller picture of the way the world works.

The Dragon Kings are not dragons or dragon shifters. They do have demonic or paranormal powers, but exactly what kind of powers varies from clan to clan, and from person to person.

They also have a terrible infertility problem. Their race is dying out. Human science claims to have a solution, and many of the Dragon Kings have sold themselves into slavery for the right to have access to that science. Some just sell themselves for stupider reasons, and some criminals end up as slaves.

Slaves become cage fighters. Think of the Roman gladiatorial combats run by something like the Russian mafia, but with the gladiators’ willing consent. I think it’s more complicated, but the backstory is still murky.

In the front of this story we have two of the cage fighters one very willing, and one a kidnapped prisoner. That’s where we begin.

Leto of Garnis has been Champion for years. He thinks being a cage fighter is the best deal he can get, not just for himself, but also for his family. He doesn’t even think of himself as a slave. He truly believes that the Aster crime family values his service and has dealt honestly with him.

Then Audrey MacLaren is literally dropped into his world. She was born Nynn of Tigony, but was exiled and married a human. That should have been the end, but instead, something marvelous happened. She gave birth to a Dragon King without any of the special treatments that the Aster family laboratories had created. So they murdered her human husband and captured her and her son.

Then they tortured and experimented on her. (If you ever watched the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, think of the labs where the Cylons experimented on human women and you’ll get the idea, with the added bonus that the Doctor in charge of the lab in this case was a sadist with a special interest in Audrey/Nynn. Serious squick.)

Leto is tasked with training Nynn to become a cage warrior, and he has three weeks. If she survives three matches, his reward will be the long-term care of his sister, who is in a permanent coma. Audrey’s reward for surviving a year will be to see her son.

In order to train Audrey in this compressed time frame, Leto has to break her down, and then build her up. But he can’t break her so far that she can’t be built up again. (This is the concept behind the way drill sergeants treat recruits at boot camp.) She fights back from the very first second and some of what Leto does seems quite cruel.

This is a very dark, cruel, world. In order to survive and get her son back, Audrey has to go back to being Nynn, and learn what she needs to learn so she can fight back. Leto is her best choice, and she calculates that decision. She isn’t sure she likes herself when she does.

Leto isn’t sure what he’s been forced into. He’s never fought with a partner. Training Nynn, working with her, has also made him spend time with someone who has had a whole different experience from his own. The more he learns, the more he realizes that what he’s always believed might not be the whole truth.

And when the Asters send someone to remove her memories of her son, he knows that he’s been deceived all along.

Escape Rating B: For a romance, this is extremely dark. Not just because the world that Lindsey Piper has created is literally underground, but because truly awful things have happened to every character. Even at the end it’s not HEA or HFN, but together and still fighting for the light as the best outcome. Evil is still out there.

In fact, I think we’re still wondering who the big evil is. I bet we’ve only seen the little faces of evil, not that they weren’t sick enough.

I want to know how things came to this pass. The Dragon Kings are more powerful than humans. They used to be gods. How did they become enslaved? I can guess, there are multiple historic parallels. But which one (if any) is this one?

Speaking of which, I sincerely hope there was a reason the doctor needed to be sadistic on top of being the paranormal equivalent of Dr. Mengele. The bwahaha sexual sadism seemed over the top.

About Leto and Nynn. He starts out the story having big holes in his personality. She starts out the story having huge gaps in her memory. I did like the parallel that they both got their blank spots filled in during the course of the story. In effect, they each got un-brainwashed.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Silent Warrior by Lindsey Piper

Silent Warrior by Lindsey PiperFormat read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: The Dragon Kings, #0.5
Length: 112 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star
Date Released: April 22, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

A silent woman ashamed of her criminal background becomes a Cage warrior to seek redemption. An unrepentant fortune hunter will do anything to escape his mounting debts. Although rivals on the streets of Hong Kong, they find common ground when seeking their clan’s stolen idol, but for vastly different reasons. Neither one suspects that love will begin when he becomes the first man in five years to hear her speak.

My Review:

Once they were worshipped as gods. Now they huddle in remote clan strongholds, clinging to the remnants of demonic power as their race slowly withers into extinction. Or they sell themselves into life-long slavery for access to the human science that has figured out a way around whatever has caused the rising infertility rate. Or just to pay off gambling debts.

The Dragon Kings are not actually dragons. They’re not shapeshifters either. What they are is descendants of the beings who inspired the great myths: the Norse Gods, the Egyptian and Greek pantheons, the Celtic fae, and I suspect, the Chinese Dragons. Not that those have been named so far.

Each of the five clans has a power.  One can bring the lightning, like Zeus. One can read minds. One clan has the power to take the powers of another Dragon King, for a brief time.

Of course, they aren’t all Kings. Some are Queens, but they’re not called that. Even the females are kings. I’m not quite sure whether or not to be annoyed about that.

And it’s important to remember that in a lot of mythology, the gods behaved very badly.

In Silent Warrior, the warrior is a woman who goes by the name of “Silence”, because she doesn’t speak. Not that can’t, but she won’t. Big difference. She spends her life in slavery to what is, in effect, a crime syndicate, for two reasons.

One is that she seeks redemption for the crimes that her family committed. They stole from the head of their clan, Clan Sath. Interestingly, the Sath are the thieves of the Dragon Kings. They can steal the power from another. It does have the unfortunate tendency to make them thieves of trinkets and treasures as well. Her family stole too much, and they paid the ultimate price.

But her second reason is a prophecy. She is working for the day that all the Dragon Kings can be freed from the crime syndicates, and that day is coming. Silence is biding her time, and searching for half of an idol that her family stole.

While she is out on assignment, she finds the other half of the stolen idol, in the hands of the only man who talks enough for both of them. He drives her crazy enough to make her finally talk back, after five years of silence.

If she trusts him enough to finally talk, he might be the one she can trust at her back as she fights for her life. Every single day. If he’s willing to trust her enough to go down into the dark with her.

Caged Warrior by Lindsey PiperEscape Rating B: In spite of the length, this story is pretty complete. In some ways, it is better than the novel that comes after it (Caged Warrior, reviewed later today) because Silence and Hark are equals.

The world of the Dragon Kings is harsh and brutal, and the people in it lead a bloody life filled with death and destruction. This is a story of unexpected love in a very dark place. They start out expecting a night of sweaty sex and nothing more, because that’s all their life holds.

Silence and Hark are flawed, fascinating people. They’re both terribly damaged, and yet they manage to find just enough faith in each other to make a giant leap together. I can’t even call the ending a “Happy For Now” because happy isn’t a word that applies in this world. Facing the future together, definitely and awesomely.

And Silence as a character is doubly awesome because she is unapologetically a woman warrior from the very beginning. She’s not following anyone. She’s not less. She’s not bait. She is ferocious.

I am annoyed that the book is named for her, but the cover picture is of him.

But I wish I had a few more clues about how things got to be the way they are. I’m saying this from a perspective at the end of Caged Warrior, and I’m still not sure. I’m making guesses based on other paranormals, fantasies, and real-life history, but I’m still not sure I have enough clues. And dragon? When dragon? Who dragon?

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.