Phantom Pleasures – Prologue

Posted by at Mar 24, 2008 6:00 am

Hello, Plotmonkey readers! And to all the new readers linking here from the sites and blogs of my generous friends, WELCOME! It’s a party in the jungle!

This week starts something very exciting…every day, I will be posting a chapter from my book PHANTOM PLEASURES, which is officially released next week on April 1. That’s seven chapters! (Okay, six chapters and a prologue…but let’s not quibble.)

I wanted give everyone more than just a little excerpt…I want you to know, by the end of the week, if this is a book you will enjoy enough to buy–a book you’ll want to tell your friends about.

I’m also offering a chance for anyone who posts a comment or asks a question to win a $20 gift certificate from Amazon or Borders.com. I’ll pick a winner every day, but you’ll have to come back the next day to see if you’ve won. Regular jungle contest rules apply!

So today, I’m posting the Prologue. Don’t forget to click the “More” button to get the rest! Enjoy!

Austin, Texas
April 2008

His hand shaking, as much from age as from fear, Paschal Rousseau, noted Romani scholar, shut the door to his study and said a silent prayer for more time. He’d once thought he’d had more of that commodity than he could stand, but not any longer. His enemies were closing in on him. Of this, he was sure. He wouldn’t go without a fight, of course, but despite his best efforts to remain in good shape, ninety years did take its toll on a man. In the meantime, he had to bolster his arsenal with as much information as he could gather in the quickest, if most draining, way he knew how.

To that end, he had to act. He had to push through the final barrier of his mind and connect with the past.

Not his past. He knew his own history, his own wild tale that had led him here to the States to seek the objects he needed to counter the gypsy curse. No, tonight he had to attempt something more dangerous. He had to seek a path into the distant past–into memories that were not his.

Flicking on the lamp on his desk, he stared at the oil painting he’d propped onto the blotter, knowing it had been the artist’s last work. The purplish clouds scuttling across the top of the canvas raged with rain. The white-capped waves beneath the listing schooner sparked with anger and turmoil. Paschal had searched for this stormy seascape for years, learning more about the intricacies of art dealing than he’d ever intended. But he’d found the piece and now, it was time to use his so-called gift to take the final step.

He sat. Clutching the curved armrest of his chair with one hand, he reached out with the other and gingerly, traced the name of the artist, rendered in bold strokes across the bottom of the canvas. Damon. He concentrated on everything he knew about the man, closed his eyes and painted his own picture of the artist in his mind. The only other rendering of the man existed in a place Pascal could no longer reach. Luckily, though he’d lived a somewhat unnaturally long life, his memory remained strong and reliable.

Once he saw Damon’s dark hair, steely eyes and rigid jaw in his mind’s eye, Paschal spread his fingers and palm over the center of the painting. At first, he felt nothing but cool canvas and the stiff texture of dried enamels. But then, slowly, his hand seemed to meld into the painting. His flesh transparent. His mind transported.

The connection made, he pulled his mind’s eye out of the schooner in the gyrating ocean and concentrated on the night, over two hundred and sixty years ago, when the artist and his entire band of brothers disappeared forever.

1747, Valoren
Outside Germany

Tonight, the war began.

The war? No, the slaughter. And if Damon Forsyth and his brothers didn’t reach the town of Umgeben before morning, their cherished sister would die in the impending massacre.

Damon kicked his heels hard into his mount’s sweaty flank, pushing the animal onward despite the blinding rain and rocky terrain. Lightning flashed, briefly illuminating the distant cliffs. They were close to the cursed town. He could feel the vibrations beneath his horse’s hooves. The electricity spiking through the sky connected with the magic that pulsed beneath the ground and surged through his soaked clothes.

Valoren, land of the lost, prison to the gypsies exiled out of England by the first King George, was tucked into a mostly uninhabited corner of land between Germany and Bohemia. For nearly thirty years, Damon’s father, a British baron, governed over the land. But even he had been powerless against the magic–powerless against the enemy who had used sorcery to steal Sarina from her family.

Damon howled a curse and kicked the horse harder. A few lengths behind him, his brothers echoed his battle cry. The chorus of six pulsed with desperation, anger…fear. Fear for their sister. Fear for their exiled family. Fear for the very continuation of the Forsyth name.

At the sight of a rider charging toward them from the west, Damon yanked on the reins. He held up his hand and his brothers stopped alongside, their horses snorting heavily so that their hot breath created a gray mist in the frigid rain. The approaching horseman galloped above the crags and rocks in the road, the rider molded to the horse’s back like an extension of its spine.

Damon immediately recognized his half brother, Rafe, who slid into their circle and tossed back the hood on his cloak. His long, raven black hair merged with the darkness, but his clear, blue eyes–so much like Sarina’s since they shared the same mother–were bright with fury.

“The mercenary army advances at dawn,” he reported.

Damon nodded, though his mind reeled. How had the confrontation escalated so quickly? From his trips to court, he’d known that the second King George often grumbled about reclaiming his land from the wanderers. Over the years, rumors flew that troops comprised of British and German mercenaries were being gathered to cleanse the enclave of the Romani. But Damon had never believed troops would arrive. Or that the offensive would put his family–good British citizens save his gypsy stepmother, youngest brother and only sister–in such grave peril.

“Then we have time to find Sarina,” Damon declared.

His brother, Aiden, next in line to inherit, drew his sword. “Not if Rogan has spirited her away. He’s brought this danger on her. On us. He must pay for his betrayal!”

Rogan. Damon’s blood froze. He had brought Lord Rogan here to Valoren from London, introduced him to his family–and to his starry-eyed, trusting, barely seventeen-year-old sister–never guessing the wealthy traveler had designs on taking the gypsy land for his own. Rogan’s machinations had likely stirred the jealous king to action. Damon had unleashed the lion into the coliseum and now, everyone in the gypsy colony would pay with their lives.

Damon held his hand against Aiden’s weapon, which glittered white when another bolt of lightning streaked across the sky. “Remember, we must find Sarina before we kill Rogan. He cannot die until we know where she is.”

The brothers said nothing, but their faces darkened, their jaws tightened and their eyes burned with hatred.

“We must ride!” Damon declared.

Once again, their band took off toward the cliffs. Between the rocky jags they narrowed their line, entering through the pass one rider at a time. By the time all six of them emerged in the valley, a thud of icy cold dropped in Damon’s stomach.

The village of Umgeben appeared untouched. Still. Had the gypsies not received the warning sent a few hours before? Fires flickered in the windows. Smoke curled from the hearths of the common houses and music echoed from a faraway vardo, an elaborately decorated wagon the gypsies had been forbidden by English law to move. But John Forsyth, their governor, had rescinded the order hours ago to help the Romani escape the incoming hoard. Why weren’t they uprooted? Hitched to mules in advance of the exodus that could possibly spare their lives?

Colin, the third brother, rode up silently, his voice only slightly louder than his usual whisper. “Where is everyone?”

Damon urged his mount through the town’s open gates and from his saddle, tore open the curtains of the nearest cottage with his blade. He smelled meat stewing in the hearth, yet no one tended the fire. He rode around to the back and saw the animal pens unlocked and empty. He heard his brothers behind him as their horses’ hooves sucked into the slick clay, each one riding to nearby houses and announcing the same results.

The Romani had disappeared. The entire population of Umgeben was gone.

“What sort of magic spirits away an entire town?” the elder twin, Logan, shouted to Rafe, who’d dismounted. “They had but an hour’s warning. They could not have abandoned their homes without our meeting them on the road.”

Rafe, the only brother with gypsy blood, looked as confused as the others and shook his head wildly. Damon’s anger surged. If his youngest brother, so adept at maneuvering through the gypsy world was shocked by these events, what chance did they have at saving Sarina?

Aiden raised his sword, pointing east. “Colin, search the chapel in case the citizens have simply taken refuge. Rafe, find the Chovihano,” he ordered, directing their youngest brother to the gypsy elder. “See if he’s remained and if so, what he knows. You two,” he barked, indicating the twins, Logan and Paxton, “Check the storerooms. See if the tinker is about. He alone is allowed to travel. He might have known of this attack long before we heard the news and warned the others away before our message arrived.”

The brothers dispersed, leaving only Damon and Aiden behind. Aiden had just returned home from fighting with the King’s army, scarred but alive. Now, betrayal hardened his features. Damon reached out and placed a calming hand on his shoulder.

“We shall find her,” he said.

“I’ll seek out Rogan,” Aiden replied.

Damon shook his head. “I brought that viper into our midst. It is my right to slay him. But only after Sarina is back in our care.” Damon sat straighter on his mount. He’d allowed his brother to take the reins a moment ago, but now, he had to act. He was the eldest. He bore the responsibility of justice.

“Check the armory,” he ordered. “See if the gypsies armed themselves to fight before they left.”

Aiden opened his mouth to protest, but then quickly deferred. He sheathed his weapon and rode west.

Alone, Damon cantered through the village, his destination looming just beyond the ramshackle cottages and immobile vardos parked along the main path. Lightning ignited the flecks of glass embedded in the stone of Rogan’s castle and shimmered up the tall spires that rose into the sky like snakes about to strike. The stone structure was pretentious and intimidating, just as the architect had intended. But Damon wouldn’t hesitate to enter. Not when he guessed this castle would be the most likely place for Rogan to hide Sarina, if they’d stayed behind.

Which Damon suspected they had. He could smell the stench of Rogan’s power even through the falling rain. On missions of their own, his brothers would be safe from the battle to come. And when his combat with Rogan ended, they would reunite in victory.

At the entrance to the castle, Damon dismounted, unsheathed his sword and smacked his horse on its rump so it shot into the darkness, out of the storm. Out of danger. He climbed the steps boldly and kicked open the heavy door. Pain shot up his thigh. He cared not. He removed his cloak and balanced his blade in his hands. Rogan would die tonight.

With a grunt, Damon pushed away his guilt yet again and strode through the echoing great hall to the grand staircase.

Not a single servant peeked out from behind a tapestry or scurried to greet him. Damon heard no sound from Rogan’s normally vicious collection of dogs. Even the blackguard’s infernal, ever-present feline remained out of sight. Damon’s footfalls reverberated on the stone floors until the sound was muffled by one of the many rich carpets. The only light came from two torches ensconced at the top of the stairs.

From there, Rogan smiled down on him.

Damon smirked. Not the man, but the portrait, hung with conceit as the centerpiece of the grand staircase. The oil on canvas portrayed the villain with perfect accuracy.

“Rogan!” he shouted.

Damon stomped up the stairs.

“Rogan! Release my sister and face me.”

His voice shook the atmosphere, but there was no response.

Only silence. Deadly silence.

The absence of sound was ripe with magic. Damon could taste the metallic flavor on his tongue.

At the portrait, he stopped and stared into the eyes of the traitor, fighting off a chill spiking from the black irises. In the dancing light from the flickering torch flame, Damon spied the makings of a sneer on the man’s slim lips, even while he petted the beloved cat curled in his lap. Cursed beast. Black. Longhaired. Amber-eyed. Mean as a devil. A five-pointed star dangling from a gold collar. The perfect personification of dark and dangerous magic.

Why hadn’t Damon seen the evil in his so-called friend before? Damon had once prided himself on his ability to judge people. What kind of charm had Rogan employed to make Damon believe him to be a noble companion? To convince all the Romani exiled to Valoren that Rogan had their best interests at heart?

Pushed by a surge of wind, the manor door behind him banged closed. The torches faltered, then flamed, but in the seconds between light and dark, Damon glimpsed a figure move within the painting.

Not Rogan. In a doorway curved over Rogan’s left shoulder.

A woman?

Damon’s stomach dropped.

“Sarina?” he whispered.

He stepped closer, sheathed his sword and yanked the heavy portrait off the wall. Startled at the weight of the carved and gilded frame, he took care not to damage the canvas. Even the gypsy Chovihano, the shaman Damon’s father had consulted when Rogan’s dark intentions had started to manifest, feared that Rogan had mastered the blackest of magical arts. Could the sorcerer have tucked his sister away in a place from which no mortal man could release her–even someplace as inconceivable as inside a painting?

Damon dragged the portrait closer to the torch and stared hard into the shadowy doorway painted in the corner. Again, he caught sight of a woman. But her hair wasn’t dark like his sister’s. This woman’s tresses caught and reflected the light from the flames.

In a flash of thought, he remembered his wife back in England. Flame haired and filled with ice. If he died in the battle with Rogan tonight or with the King’s mercenaries at dawn, she’d care not. But his mistress…at least she’d weep for his loss, even if only for the absence of his generous purse. For his part, he’d miss her bold lovemaking, her insatiable, curvaceous body and the sound of her pleasured cries bursting in his eardrum. Suddenly, he could hear her laughter, raucous and loud, burbling from the painting. His body instantly responded with needs that had no place here, needs that made him forget–momentarily–his missing sister.

He shook his head until his brain cleared.

“Damn you, Rogan!”

Damon lifted his sword high, and then plunged the blade down into the canvas, precisely at Rogan’s black heart. He heard the rip and then pain shot through him. He screamed as a thousand shards of light stripped his body bare to the bone.

And then…

Nothing.

————————

Want to read Chapter One? Click here!

So, it’s a little bit contemporary, a little bit historical…a little bit paranormal. Okay, a LOT a bit paranormal. But you haven’t even met the heroine yet! But you will…if you come back tomorrow.

Don’t forget to comment…and come back tomorrow to see if you’ve won the $20 gift card!

140 Comments

140 thoughts on “Phantom Pleasures – Prologue

  1. 1
    Stacy ~ says:

    Wow Julie, this sounds really fascinating!

    I’m curious, how was it to write the historical portion, since you’ve mainly written contemporaries. Did you find it difficult, or was it an exciting challenge for you?

  2. 2
    Julie Leto says:

    Good morning, Stacy~!

    The first two books I ever wrote, but never published, were historicals, so in a way, writing this section was like returning to my roots. It was a challenge, but with a lot of research, I think I pulled it off (readers such as yourself will have to decide!) I definitely enjoyed writing it…but I only do one scene per book (in this series) that is actually set in the past. I don’t know that I could do a whole book…of course, all the scenes from my hero’s point of view have that historical feel.

  3. 3
    ev says:

    So now, along with picking up Sweeny Todd on the first, Heather will have to go buy this for me and bring it to me in the hospital! Although I can’t decide if I should bring any “hot” romance with me or something to keep my blood pressure down. :rotfl1:

    I am looking forward to the rest of the book Jules!!!

  4. 4
    Margay says:

    I find, lately, that I’m really liking stories that mix historical with contemporary timelines. This one looks pretty interesting.

  5. 5
    Cheryl S. says:

    Sounds fantastic. It’s not going to take till the end of the week for me to know I want to read more. But I’ll be back tomorrow for the next installment and I already know I’ll be buying the book.

  6. 6
    limecello says:

    Hi Julie,
    Wow – great excerpt, I can’t wait for all the other ones! Congratulations on the new release! Did you come up with the title?

  7. 7
    Anne Crowder says:

    A ripping yarn!!! There’s nothing gets ‘em like a ripping yarn, so I predict you’ll chalk up another huge success with Phantom Pleasures, Julie! And couldn’t happen to a more deserving author. Bon chance, mon amie! Anne

  8. 8
    Julie Leto says:

    ev–did I miss something? Hospital? I’ll keep you in my prayers. :pray:

    Margay, that’s awesome that you like the mix. I’ve been reading lots of historicals lately and it’s nice to get that different take on the world. Just finished LEOPARD PRINCE by Elizabeth Hoyt. Awesome book.

    Thanks, Cheryl S!

    limecello, no, I actually didn’t title this book…though I titled the next one. I originally called this one PHANTOM LOVER, but I wasn’t crazy about it and had no problem when my fabulous editor, Laura Cifelli, suggested PHANTOM PLEASURES. (The next book is called PHANTOM’S TOUCH, btw).

    Anne! Bon jour! Merci beaucoup! (Am I spelling that right?)

  9. 9
    Tasha says:

    Julie –
    I’m a hit and miss visitor on this site. Your prologue has guaranteed my visit for the next six days. I’m so intrigued!

  10. 10
    Marie says:

    I was referred to this blog by a fellow member of my writing group. I’m loving your excerpt and will refer this site to other groups, too. See you tomorrow!

  11. 11
    Bunny B says:

    I love paranormal stories. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s post :)

  12. 12
    Pat L. says:

    I loooove the cover of this book! Thanks for the excerpt – it sounds very interesting. :partyman:

  13. 13

    Hi Julie,
    I can’t wait to get my hands on Phantom Pleasures! :)
    I adore the prologue and I’m glad I only have to wait until tomorrow to read a little more. Meanwhile I’m headed to Amazon to pre-order. :)
    Lara

  14. 14
    Cheryl says:

    First off. :hothot: Cover. Second I can’t wait to read more of this great book. Thanks for sharing :hug2:

  15. 15
    Jolene says:

    I was ever so lucky enough to win an arc of this book and i can tell you without a doubt you will not be sorry if you buy this book.. it is wonderful and i will be buying a copy as soon as its out. Trust me i have been telling people for a while in chats that this is a definite one to have on your buy list..
    :thumbsup:

  16. 16
    Liza says:

    I can’t wait for the next chapter! Love the cover too! I was so excited when I saw the release date was April 1. Now I only have to wait a week to read the entire book.

  17. 17
    ruth says:

    Congratulations on yor new release. I am fascinated with this novel and will definitely read the excerpts that are posted. Thanks for this special glimpse into your book.

  18. 18
    Phyllis Towzey says:

    Wow, Julie! I can’t wait to read the whole book — what an amazing opening to the story. I love it!

  19. 19
    Erica R says:

    Hi Julie! So excited about the excerpts this week. Can’t wait for the book to come out!!!

  20. 20
    katie says:

    Looks good! :flamer:

  21. 21
    Cher says:

    Good morning Plotmonkeys and Jungle Crawlers,

    Wow! Julie, that is a rip-roaring fantastic excerpt! I can’t wait to read the next installment and hey, the rest of the book! Superb writing, superb characterization and of course–superb plot. You are the plotting goddess!

    Hope you are all having a terrific Monday,

    Cher :banana:

  22. 22

    The prologue is intriguing! It lures you on to learn more.

  23. 23
    Julie Leto says:

    Thanks, Cher. I recently had a reviewer say this book is “too plot-ty.” I’m not even sure what that means. :writeblock: I happen to think that my readers are smart enough and adventurous enough to take on a plotty book!

    Wow…it’s early yet and look at all the people who have come over to read! I’m so excited!

    Tasha, you need to be more hit than miss! Welcome back!

    Marie, welcome! We run a special blog for writers on Saturdays here at Plotmonkeys, so we hope to see you back a lot!

    Bunny, I love paranormal stories, too, but I wonder if readers aren’t somehow in two camps–paranormal vs. non-paranormal. My book is such a mixture of paranormal with hot contemporary romance, I’m hoping it will appeal to all!

    Pat, yes, the cover goddess smiled on me. I’m very happy. Wait til you see Phantom’s Touch…it’s even HOTTER.

    Lara, bless you! Pre-orders are always much appreciated!

    Cheryl, thank you! I’m thrilled about the cover, I really am.

    JOLENE!!! Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the ARC and THANK YOU for saying so publically in so many places. I’m very humbled and appreciative!

    ruth, thank you. I hope you enjoy each day’s chapter.

    Phyllis…thanks so much. This opening was a little risky…not starting with the hero or heroine, technically and then jumping into the past. But I never play it safe. It’s not my thing.

    Erica R! Thanks so much for posting the links here from Manuscript Mavens. Very appreciated!

    Hey, katie! Thanks!

    Liza, I thought hard about when to do this promotion. The week before the book came out seemed perfect…that way people wouldn’t have to wait too long to get the rest after reading all the excerpts.

  24. 24
    Linda says:

    Definitely an exerpt that draws one into the story. Can’t wait to read the remaining chapters – and eventually the book. You are definitely one author that is on my “to buy” list.

  25. 25
    Rebekah says:

    Great excerpt, I can’t wait to read the rest. I really like the cover too.

  26. 26
    ev says:

    Julie- I am going in for a hysterectomy on Monday. Some people will do anything to get out of work for a couple of months. Maybe 3. Maybe permanently???

  27. 27
    Melissa says:

    Awesome can’t wait for more

  28. 28
    Leslie says:

    FABULOUS Julie!

    This is such a great book and the 2nd one is equally as wonderful. Can’t wait to see what Julie has in store for the rest!

    And Ev–big hugs! We’ll be thinking of you! Heather, please keep us posted! :flower4you:

  29. 29
    Carly says:

    This is an awesome book. Talented talented writer! Go out and buy! :whipbanana:

  30. 30
    Susan P. says:

    Can’t wait to meet the heroine tomorrow!

  31. 31
    Cher says:

    Plotty?? Obviously they don’t know good “plotting” when they read it! Just ignore their comment. One thing is for sure you can’t please everybody.

    When my first ebook was published–Wolf Island–an agent rejected it with this comment–“Slow and “talky” and does not inspire page turning” And it was an Eppie finalist! Guess she doesn’t like dialogue…

    Cher

  32. 32
    Bill Clark says:

    Am here at Erica’s behest (her post on MM today). Whatever Erica tells me to do, I do without delay or thought. Her velleity is my mandate.

    Look forward to the continuation of the Forsyth Saga!

  33. 33
    Janet says:

    Good morning Julie!

    I’m really looking forward to reading Phantom Pleasures. The excerpt just teases us to want more. Just one more week. Woo Hoo!

  34. 34
    Paula R. says:

    Jules, great beginning…I am going to love this week…this book hit all the right points of interest in me…1) the historical bent…love historical fiction, 2) the time period is one I love…close enough to medieval…castles, knights, rogues, “black arts,”…kinda LORish…loving it…and 3) mystery…can’t wait to meet the heroine as well as find out what happened to Damon. Lovely teaser here…

    What I would like to know is… why Paschal wants to go into Damon’s painting? The backstory of the brothers…who was Damon’s mistress, really? Was she an emissary for Rogan?

    I am sure that a lot of these questions will be answered in the book as well as the excerpts you post here each day. I already pre-ordered this book and I can’t wait to get it…it reminds me of why I used to read historical fiction in the first place…magic and the possibilities…Thank you for doing this…

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  35. 35
    Laurie Cooper says:

    Julie – historicals are my first love, and the blend of time periods and paranormal make this one right up my alley. The opening is soooo intriguing. I haveta buy it asap.

    Thanks for sharing. I’ll be back tomorrow.

  36. 36
    Paula R. says:

    Ev, I will keep you in my prayers okay…

    Jules, “plotty”…I love it…I love the different layers of a book and to throw in the steamy contemporary sex scenes…wow…we all know that back then they were “freaks” in the bedroom/castle keep/castle grounds/towers/forest/etc too…you get my drift…lol…why do you think I loved historicals in the first place…not because I thought I was going to learn about history for sure…it was a good draw though…

    I can’t wait til you show that reviewer that they were wrong…was going to write something really, really mean, but decided not to…I am thinking it thought…have a great rest of the day…

    Peace and love,
    Paula R.

  37. 37

    Julie,

    Wow! What a compelling opening to your book! It sounds like a terrific read. Cant’ wait for tomorrow’s installment.

    Best,

    Catherine

  38. 38

    Julie – Gorgeous writing! Thank you for being so generous with the excerpts, although I’m hooked already. Can’t wait to read this one. And, OMG, that cover. Breathtaking!

  39. 39
    Janelle says:

    This is a NOT TO BE MISSED book! It’s unique and amazing!!! (as is the author, of course!) :grin1:

    Ev — I’m sending lots of positive healing thoughts your way! I hope you recover quickly!!! We’ll miss you while you’re gone! :hug2:

  40. 40

    Julie,

    It’s all been said! Beautiful cover, great title, exciting excerpt. I love the mix of historical/paranormal/contemporary. (I think Vriginia Henley got me hooked on the concept with Enslaved.)

    :hothot: I’ll check back for the rest of the excerpts. Off to preorder.

  41. 41
    Patricia W says:

    I’m wondering why he would destroy the canvas if he thought there might be magic in it, that his sister might somehow be caught up in it’s magical web.

    Since I’m wondering, guess that means I’m reading! Very nice beginning. Love the blend of cotemporary with the historical, and like that the paranoramal–at least up to this point–doesn’t involve witches or vampires.

  42. 42
    Samantha says:

    Wow! I can’t believe that you are posting 6/7 chapters! Talk about a treat… So amazing, Julie!

  43. 43
    Suzanne Laberge says:

    Horses, architecture and a bold sexy man–three of my favorite things! I will be back tomorrow. Suzanne LaBerge

  44. 44
    Vicki says:

    Julie, I love it! I can’t wait until tomorrow. :D

  45. 45
    Kristen says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I mentioned this on my blog today!

  46. 46
    Rosemary says:

    Hi Julie:

    I’m hooked. But of course I would be, you’re a fabulous writer! I loved this line:

    “Damon had unleashed the lion into the coliseum”. What a powerful sentence. Your descriptive writing is awesome- I could actually feel like I was riding along with the men (in my fantasies :flamer:).

    Can’t wait to read more!

    Rosemary

  47. 47
    Nathalie says:

    Thanks for the contest!

    What a hot cover… I will be coming back!

  48. 48
    Crystal B. says:

    Wow! Loved the excerpt. Your book sounds great. Looking forward to the next excerpt.

  49. 49
    Barb P says:

    This book sounds awsome! This was on my to be purchased list. Thanks for running the contest and have a great day!

  50. 50
    sue says:

    I usually only do the computer once or twice a week. I guess this week it will get a workout!

  51. 51
    mary beth says:

    WOW! What a way to end. I’ll definitely be back tomorrow for more.

  52. 52
    Ashley V says:

    I can’t wait to read this book, this week is going to make it so much worse lol

  53. 53
    Kathleen says:

    Great cover! for this book!! And an awesome excerpt! Can’t wait to read the rest :thumbsup:

  54. 54
    Amy Addison says:

    Wow! Thanks for posting. Great opening, risky or no, I’m hooked.

  55. 55
    Tina Martinesi says:

    Oooh Julie very intriguing…can’t wait for more!! :thumbsup: And I love the cover!

    Ev :hug2: Feel better soon!

  56. 56
    Cindy Miles says:

    Wow! Phantom Pleasures sounds fascinating, Julie!!! Congrats and I’m anxious for the release! :winking:

  57. 57
    Jane says:

    Hi Julie,
    How did you research the Romani, through internet or library? Did you visit the Balkans?

  58. 58
    ev says:

    Thanks guys and keep the healing wishes and prayers coming. I figure I always need all the help I can get. I am only supposed to be in hospital 2 days (god/goddess willing) and i will have everything set up upstairs so I can get online and lay in bed watching tv and reading!! I have everything up there but a microwave, and that is why I keep Heather around! :rotfl1:

  59. 59
    JoMarie says:

    Wow!! Julie, you just blew me away. The details brought me right into the action, the chill, the danger. I literally got goosebumps! The characters are so well-drawn even so early on, as well-drawn as the setting itself. I’ll be back to read more!

  60. 60
    Tina Martinesi says:

    LOL Ev, glad your keeping up your sense of humor…I think I’ll send the :hug2: to Heather…lol

  61. 61
    tami says:

    i really like the title , and the exceprt was way good!!!!!!! :whipbanana:

  62. 62
    Melissa says:

    Julie..Hopped over from Gena’s blog, and I’m SO glad I did. I usually pick up your books anyway, they’re always great…but this promises to be better than great. What an awesome idea. I love the idea of bringing elements of the past into the here and now…and shiver….I’m so into the paranormal anymore. YES!!!

  63. 63
    Georganna says:

    Fabulous opening to pull readers into the story. Can’t wait to read more.
    :applause:

  64. 64
    Tammie P. says:

    Awesome excerpt! Can’t wait for the next chapter…

  65. 65
    Karen B says:

    :hothot:Love the cover – love the prologue. :applause:

  66. 66
    Georganna says:

    :fourturkeys: :xmastree: :xmastree: :xmastree: :yikes: :yikes: :writeblock: :snoopy: :cold: :menorah: :cold: :cold: :xmastree: :xmastree: :xmastree: :darth: :darth: :darth: :darth: :darth:gfdsssssssteeeeeb dsb

  67. 67
    Georganna says:

    OOPS!!!! Sorry about the previous comment! My 3-year old was “typing” while I was getting a drink of water! Have a great day!

  68. 68
    Kimmy L says:

    Congrats!!!!! I loved the excerpt. Can’t wait to read more.

  69. 69
    Taryn S says:

    Great start!

  70. 70
    Marlayne says:

    thats wonderfull, i am going to check this site more often!

  71. 71
    Priscilla says:

    Wonderful prologue – very unique in how it sets the tone and style of the story, and entices the reader (as does the cover!) to keep turning the pages! I’m looking forward to MORE – as I’m sure the other STAR chapter members are going to tell you, Julie!
    Priscilla

  72. 72
    Colleen says:

    :cooldance: Sounds great… can not wait to read more!!!

  73. 73
    Susan says:

    I love the cover and the excerpt is outstanding! :bowdown: I’m looking forward to the rest! :readdabook:

  74. 74
    Janet H says:

    Can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post. Sounds like everyone is ready, too. What’s with the “plotty” thing? I think the prologue is fab!

    The cover has to be one of the best I have seen so far this year. Congrats…on a winner.

  75. 75
    ALICE says:

    LOVED WHAT I HAVE READ SO FAR, LOOKING FORWARD TO READING
    MORE AND THE COMPLETE BOOK LATER ON.
    MY, THERE ARE A LOT OF NEW PLOTMONKEY PEOPLE ON THAT
    HAVE NEVER VISITED IT BEFORE.
    ALICE IN TEXAS

  76. 76
    Donna M says:

    Okay, you have me hooked! What a teaser & you are going to do this all week??!! :lol:
    Wow, look at all the visitor’s today! Way more than we usually see! Welcome everyone to the Jungle!
    :present1: Great gift Julie. Thanks for giving us a week to look forward to!! :thankyou:

  77. 77
    Donna M says:

    P.S. Ev, good luck with your surgery & a speedy recovery back to good health. Read lots and enjoy your down time. :pray:

  78. 78
    Wendy says:

    Phantom Pleasures sounds so good! I want more!! *grins*

  79. 79
    Caffey says:

    Julie, I’ve been so looking forward to this out and so can’t believe it will finally be here net week! Gosh, I could sense that darkness around Damon and the anger. It was so rich, so realistic in the setting..on the horseback, etc…Too you captivated the picture and how it was for the artist so realistic. And so neat how tha picture by touch became real.

    Julie, I’m assume this really took alot of research for you, the art, the war then. Do you feel like this took alot of time with doing research for this book? Will there be others of the brothers and their stories? I hope this was not something that was asked. There’s so many posts to shuffle through and its only the afternoon, smile.

    The cover gods were with you! I know all that stuff about not to judge a book by its cover, I don’t do no judging, I love to admire them, pet them, LOL. Really it already feels like it fits. Its one that I’d think others who haven’t read you would pick this up and check out the blurb for even more.

  80. 80
    Nichole L says:

    I’m really intrigued and can’t wait to read more. Paranormal’s aren’t really my kind of reading but I think I’m going to have to make an exception.

  81. 81
    Caffey says:

    Julie, I read that you had previously written a couple of historical romances but never published them. Any reason why? Do you think in the future you will or plans to write other historical romances? From what I read so far, you do so have the gift of capturing that feel within the time period.

    That leads me to another question, so sorry on having so many, its just that this was, its hard to find the word to explain how I feel with what I’ve read besides being captivated… you came up with some great names so far that I saw, Damon, Colin :) Are there any special reason for the names you picked out?

    I sense a time travel as he goes into the story through the picture (i’m still awed at this, that was so great!). I wanted to ask if this story goes back and forth in time. I figured you’d say ‘read it and find out’ but I will be as soon as it comes out! I can’t believe you’ll tease us for a week, LOL.

  82. 82
    Robin says:

    Hi Julie! I so enjoyed reading this and absolutely can’t wait for more!! Love the cover too!

  83. 83
    JOYE says:

    Enjoyed the comments and the excerpt. Now you have my attention and i can’t wait to read the rest of the story. I’ve read alot of your other stories so i know this one will be equally as good

  84. 84
    cathy m says:

    This story has all my favorite things, and the excerpt definitely has me hooked. Even took a peek at the excerpt on your website, and I will be sure to add this title to my wish list.

  85. 85
    Cherie J says:

    Wow! I am certainly intrigued and want to learn more. I love a book with a mix of genres and paranormal is one of my favorite genres of all. Love that cover too!

  86. 86
    Nicole Price says:

    That’s a great excerpt! I can’t wait to read more!

  87. 87
    Estella says:

    This story has all of the elements I enjoy reading.

  88. 88
    Allison says:

    Julie, thanks for the excerpt. Looking forward to tomorrow’s. Love the cover!

  89. 89
    Michelle J. says:

    Wow – can’t wait to continue reading on every day!

  90. 90
    Jennifer says:

    Can’t wait to read more!

  91. 91
    catslady says:

    I really enjoyed the excerpt!

  92. 92
    Wendi Darlin says:

    Thanks for the excerpt, Julie! :lol: I can’t wait to read more!!!

  93. 93
    Art says:

    :snoopy: What made you decide to become a writer? Art :topsecret:

  94. 94
    Anne-Marie says:

    Julie, absolutely awesome like always. The cover is steaming.

    The prologue has done the trick. I’m chomping at the bit waiting to read more of Phantom. :onfire:

    You are so talented to be able to write so wonderfully in different genres. My hat’s off to you. I’ll be one of the first to buy another great Julie Leto book. Ooops, did you notice something missing, Julie? lol

  95. 95
    Dina says:

    Hi Julie,

    I just love your title, I don’t doubt I’ll love the rest of the book too. :banana:

  96. 96
    Leslie Thompson says:

    This souns really good. Can’t wait for more

  97. 97
    Rhonda Barnes says:

    :snoopy: :flamer: A very intriguing prologe! I can’t wait to read more!

    Blessingds,
    Rhonda

  98. 98
    Ardie says:

    Julie, do you have any reading suggestions to help those of us we dig history but are not big fans of historial novels? :scratch3:

  99. 99
    Melis L. says:

    This is an awesome excerpt Julie! It is a great start to your book PHANTOM PLEASURES. I am waiting in anticipation to read what happens next in the story!

    Love the cover by the way! Very eyecatching!

    :cooldance:

  100. 100
    Lynette says:

    Julie! The book cover is so mesmerizing, it draws me right into your book. And then…your story sounds so …Dangerous? … and Risky? … and Exciting!!!!!? Of course it does..what more could we expect from a Julie Leto Klapko book? Julie…I have to tell you…I’m hooked! Can’t wait until tomorrow for the next excerpt! I have a feeling your “phantom” will be talking to me in my dreams tonight! Julie! Julie! Julie! Stay at your computer! Lynette

  101. 101

    Awesome prologue! Julie, I must have this book!

  102. 102
    Patricia Cochran says:

    Looking forward to the next excerpt! And I love the blue cover…..it enhances the mood of the
    prologue! See you all tomorrow!!

    Pat Cochran

  103. 103
    Terri Wagner says:

    I can’t wait to read more!

  104. 104
    Tricia says:

    Julie,
    I need a glass of ice water!! that was so HOT!!!!! I hope you’re going to be able to do a book signing for this series!!!!!!

    I can’t wait until tomorrow!

    :hothot: :hothot: :hothot:

  105. 105
    Beth says:

    I’ll be back tomorrow for sure! :applause:

  106. 106
    Maureen says:

    I like it!

  107. 107
    Julie Leto says:

    WOW! We hit 100 comments! I’m floored.

    THANK YOU TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO POSTED THIS PROMOTION ON THEIR BLOGS, WEBSITES AND LISTS!

    And a second welcome to all the new faces. I hope you spend some time reading the archives and getting to know the Plotmonkeys and bookmarking our site for future visits…starting with, of course, tomorrow. :giggle:

    Some great questions in here:

    Ardie, I’m a huge fan of historical romance and honestly, used romance novels as my jumping point for my research. Jo Beverly writes amazing Georgian romances and she helped me quite a bit with tracking down the right sources. I highly recommend any of her books, but I particularly enjoyed her Malloren books…My Lady Notorious and Something Wicked and Devilish. Jo is a master of blending her history with her romance. I also recommend Virginia Henley (who posted on the blog today! Squee!) and Betina Krahn (fabulous Victorian books) and Nicole Jordan, who writes some of the hottest books out there. I could go on and on. I also just finished Elizabeth Hoyt, who also writes Georgian Romances. I just finished Leopard Prince last night and it was amazing!

  108. 108
    Julie Leto says:

    Art asked what made me decide to become a writer…great question, Art! But I think the answer is that I’ve always been a writer. Just took me a while to figure it out. Honestly, I was always telling stories to myself and thought maybe I had some sort of mental problem because none of my friends seemed to have this same affliction. Around 6th grade, I started writing things down and finally decided I wasn’t losing my mind, I was just a writer.

  109. 109
    Julie Leto says:

    Caffey, honestly…I never published those books because they weren’t good enough. I had great characters, decent plots and painstaking research, but my writing skill just wasn’t up to par. Gotta call a spade a spade! As to whether I’d write historical romance in the future…I never say never. I love reading historicals and adored writing the historical portions of the books, but right this minute, I have my hands full with contemporaries.

    The books aren’t time travel. I’ll give that away! The hero comes to the present and stays, though it has a time travel-ish feel because of…oh, wait, you’ll have to come back on Wednesday… :devil:

    As to the hero names…and hopefully, each brother gets either his own story or part of a story…I used my favorite baby book and looked up British names that I liked! Damon, Aiden, Colin, Paxton, Logan. Rafe is the gypsy half brother and Sarina the gypsy half sister.

  110. 110
    Julie Leto says:

    Georganna, that’s hilarious! Three year olds are soooo cute. I have a niece who is two and twin nieces who are four. What a great age! Even if they do get into everything. :giggle:

  111. 111
    Fedora says:

    Oh wow, Julie! That’s a lovely cover! And thanks for the excerpt today–can’t wait for more! Thank goodness we can get the whole thing next week!! And I don’t usually read paranormals (too easily spooked–just call me chicken), but I think I need to make an exception for this series! BTW, forgive my ignorance but are the places you mention real, or are they ones you created for the books’ world?

  112. 112
    Julie Leto says:

    I did spend a great deal of time doing research about things that never actually showed up in the book, as well as things that did. I had to do a lot of research about King George the first and second, about clothing, food, manner of speech, lineage, peerage, gypsies (which I’d done quite a bit of when I’d done the gypsy books for Harlequin, so I already knew quite a bit) and geography. Little things popped up like, “Okay, was it called Czechoslovakia in 1747″ or “would Damon know the word machine?” (He would, btw). I have a very high amount of respect for historical writers, that’s for sure!

  113. 113
    Pabast says:

    I can’t wait to find out what happens to Damon and his brothers and his sister. I will be back tommorrow to see what happens.

  114. 114
    Julie Leto says:

    Fedora, that’s a great question! (Trust me, my book isn’t scary. I’m a big wimp when it comes to that as well. It might be spooky in some places, but not scary.)

    Valoren and Umgeben are made-up places. So is Isla de Fantasmas, an island you’ll learn about tomorrow. Otherwise, all settings are real. The book actually takes place in Florida and Texas.

  115. 115
    Stacy S says:

    It definitely sounds like a great book! Looking forward to getting it.

  116. 116
    Tammy says:

    What a fun week ! I want more !!!! Cant waitl till tomorrow!!!

  117. 117
    Kristi says:

    Hi Julie,

    The prologue was fantastic!! :cheer: I loved the ending, what a great hook :applause:. Can’t wait to read more tomorrow.

    ~Kristi

    P.S. I know this isn’t Rafe’s story, but something about him just made my heart go pitter-patter (something about “long, raven black hair) :wub:! Hey, he’s the youngest brother, does that mean I have to wait for Book #6 to read his story??? :wallbash:

  118. 118
    Ann M. says:

    Thanks to Alyssa Day’s (aka Alesia Holliday) I found out about your new venture. I’m trying to catch upon over 1000 blog posts on all my subscriptions. :)

  119. 119
    Julie Leto says:

    Kristi, I wouldn’t do that to you. Rafe’s story is the one I’m writing now. His book will be third. The plan is Damon, Aiden, Rafe. For now. Hopefully, if the series sells well, then I’ll write the remaining three stories.

    Ann, Alyssa Day is one of my favorite people in the world. And she just made the New York Times with her anthology, Shifter (with Angela Knight, Lora Leigh and Virginia Kantra)!!! Talk about hot covers…her Warriors of Poseidon men make me melt!

    Thanks for popping over from her site!

  120. 120
    RobynL says:

    beautiful cover!!! can’t wait for some more….. give it to us.

  121. 121
    jaimie says:

    I love the name Sarina is so pretty, I love it. I always go after different name for girls, my daughter name was Jossette. I does sound like this will be a great book.

  122. 122
    Angie-la says:

    Very nice excerpt! I am looking forward to the rest of the week. :cheers:

  123. 123
    Teresa W. says:

    Enjoyed the excerpt, I’m looking forward to this one!

  124. 124
    kim h says:

    very nice. please count me in. :elf: :cheer: :party: :hothot: :cooldance: :banana: :tinitime:

  125. 125
    Elisa V says:

    :applause: Love the prologue Julie… Cant wait to read the next excerpt of your book… Bravo job

  126. 126
    abby says:

    I love it! It’s so different from the usual romance stories I read. You definitely got me hooked! :)

  127. 127
    Minna says:

    I’m looking farward to reading that book! :snoopy:

  128. 128

    […] Plot Monkeys Testing the Plot Monkey Blog « Phantom Pleasures – Prologue […]

  129. 129
    Laurie G says:

    The series sounds fantastic! Prologue- with mind travel unique to my reading experiences!! The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Sarina…WOW! Great stuff!!

  130. 130
    catslady says:

    I’m so glad that we’re going to get to read more :party:

  131. 131

    […] if you’re just joining us, taking a moment to catch up by clicking the Prologue and then Chapter One. Then come back here to enjoy Chapter […]

  132. 132
    Gwyn says:

    :flower4you:

    Hey, the prologue is fantastic. Now to read Chapters 1 and 2. Good going. The story is exciting and held my interest. Great job.

  133. 133

    […] you’re just joining us…welcome! The excerpts started on Monday, so if you click here, you’ll be able to start from the beginning and work your way back here for the latest […]

  134. 134
    Sandee says:

    :wave: Thanks for the excerpts of your book. I enjoyed it very much and want to definately read the book. Interesting characters and a great storyline. Keep up the good work!

  135. 135

    […] Welcome back! to anyone who is here for the first time, welcome! Normally, on Jungle Madness Friday, one of the Plotmonkeys posts a fabulous contest. This week, however, I’m continuing my series of excerpts from my upcoming paranormal romance, Phantom Pleasures and today, we’re on Chapter Four! If you’d like to start from the beginning, click here! […]

  136. 136
    Amelia says:

    Great prologue!

  137. 137

    […] everyone for following the excerpts all week (Did you miss them? Start here) AND for showering me with reports of PHANTOM PLEASURES sightings and purchases! Keep ‘em […]

  138. 138

    […] can read all that leads up to this scene by following this link. And do check out Julie’s site. The book is out now in print or […]

  139. 139
    Donna says:

    :lol: :love:Is there going to be MORE??????

  140. 140

    […] Now it’s time for my excerpt…and although you may be entirely SICK of this book, I’m posting the very next scene of PHANTOM PLEASURES, because hey, it’s still in the stores and for some crazy reason, some of you might not have bought your copy yet! This scene comes right after the one that is posted at my website (which comes right after the seven excerpts I posted here at Plotmonkeys two weeks ago.) […]

Comments are closed.

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