MONSTER MONTH — REBECCA YORK Back to Blog

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When I heard about monster month, I thought, “Have I got a monster for you.”  It’s Vandar, a very nasty dragon-shifter who lives in my alternate universe.  He comes to life in DRAGON MOON, out October 6 from Berkley.  I was going to give the hero the first scene of the book.  But Vandar grabbed it.

Here’s the way the book begins.

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His name was Vandar, and he was a creature from an ancient nightmare.  A creature who had lived for centuries relying on his psychic powers, his cunning.
 
Now he lifted his massive head and roared for the pleasure of feeling his slaves cringe.

In his present incarnation, he was a huge, scaled being with glittering red eyes, a reptilian body, and wings shaped like those of a bat–only infinitely larger.  But he was just as likely to take human form.  Leaping into the air, he circled his lair, looking down with a feeling of satisfaction as he churned up the chemicals in his belly, then spewed out a blast of fire that singed the already blackened landscape.   
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His huge mouth stretched into a parody of a smile as he looked down on the circle of destruction.  It was a warning to any enemies who dared approach this blighted place.  And a warning to the slaves who lived in the huge cave he had blasted out of a mountainside.  If any tried to escape, he could turn them to ash as easily as he had charred the land.

In his long life, he had seen many changes.  The world of men had climbed from primitive existence to a rich civilization.  Then in the space of a few years, everything had spun out of control, when thousands of people had developed psychic powers, throwing society into chaos.  Governments toppled as the ordinary people fought the psychics.  During those terrible times, he almost lost his life when the fearful hoards turned against him.  But he had survived–and learned to use the new order to his advantage.

He had built up his own little kingdom, with his own army.  The warriors helped keep his slaves in line and also went on raiding parties to the cities where they captured and brought back more slaves to serve him–and supply his food.

With his territory secure, widening his circle of influence had become one of his chief goals.  Which was why he’d become excited by the news that virgin land existed for the taking, in a world parallel to this one.  A world where the old rules still held sway, and the people who lived there would be helpless to fight a powerful being who could dig his mental claws into their minds and bend them to his will.

But he hadn’t lived for close to a thousand years by leaping unprepared into the unknown.

As he flew over his territory, he thought of the tasks that must be accomplished before the big invasion.  He had already started his preparations for the assault by sending spies to the other universe.  They were all men who had stayed for a few days and come back to give him a sense of the place.  In the next phase, his agent would remain longer and provide a more detailed report.

But this time he would send an attractive woman because she would seem weak and vulnerable, yet her pretty face, sexy figure and psychic powers would give her an advantage over the men she met.

Satisfied with the plan, he circled back and landed in the ceremonial site fifty yards from the mouth of his cave.  Lifting his head to the skies, he roared out four notes.  Two long and two short.  A signal to the people who did his bidding.

Three hundred slaves instantly dropped what they were doing and hurried to answer his call.

One by one and in groups, they stepped outside the cave, blinking in the morning sunshine.

He watched their stiff posture, their wary eyes as they stood in their color-coded tunics.  White for adepts.  Gray for house servants.  Brown for those who did the dirtiest jobs like washing the floors and mucking out the toilets.  And burgundy for his troops.

They knew what was coming, and they cringed, even as they came toward him with hesitant steps. 

Standing before them, he began to change his form, his wings folding inward.  His claws and his great tail retracting back into his body.  The shape of his torso shrinking and transmuting to the incarnation he used when he walked among his minions. 

He was vulnerable when he changed, but they didn’t know that, and they trembled as he transformed from silver-scaled monster to a tall, dark-haired man.  He stood before them naked for several moments, letting them take in his well-muscled body with its impressive male equipment. 

Satisfied that they had enough time to contemplate his magnificence, he snapped his fingers.   Two blond-haired women clad in white came forward and walked to the carved wooden chest where he kept a set of clothing.  From its depths, one of them removed a long black tunic of fine linen, edged with gold braid.  As he held out his arms, one of them slipped the garment over his head and the other knelt and strapped a pair of supple leather sandals onto his feet.

When he was dressed and they stepped back into the crowd,  he turned and smiled at the waiting throng, feeling the waves of tension rolling toward him.

They knew he would feed now.  On one of them.  He could have done that in his dragon form, of course.  But this was so much more intimate, and it impressed upon them that even when he looked like a man, he was as far above them as an eagle was above an ant. 

Long moments passed as he let them sweat, let them wonder  which of them he would select.  And why. 

A man or a woman?

They didn’t know he had already made that decision.  In his mind, he kept a running assessment of his slaves’ deeds–of the times they pleased him and of their transgressions.  One man above all the others had earned the privilege of participating in this ceremony. 

Finally, he raised his voice.  “Bendel, come forward.”

The man gasped.  Everyone else breathed out a sigh of relief.

For long moments, nothing happened.  Then Bendel broke and ran.
Vandar was ready for the man’s futile bid for freedom.  His tongue flicked out, lengthening like a whip, catching the man and pulling him back.
Bendel’s face turned white. His eyes were wide and pleading.

“Were you foolish enough to think you could outrun me?” Vandar murmured, his voice silky.  “And foolish enough to steal food from the larder?”

The slave’s jaw worked, but no words came out of his mouth. 
Vandar spread his lips, baring his teeth as he sent out his fangs, his gaze never leaving the man’s terrified eyes, as he grabbed his hair and arched his neck before sinking his fangs into the pale flesh.

The first draft of blood sent a burst of warmth through him.  He felt the life-giving liquid flow into his mouth, down his throat and into his stomach.

The nourishment brought him a satisfying glow of energy.  In his childhood, he hadn’t known what kind of creature he really was, and he had subsisted on a human diet.  He could still eat small amounts of food and drink if he wanted.  He had tried wine made from grapes and other fruit, and to his taste buds, the wine had a tang that was similar to blood.   

He could have spared his victim’s life.  Draining the lifeblood from any one individual wasn’t necessary to quench his thirst.  He didn’t even need to drink human blood.  An animal would do.  But an animal could not fear him with the intellect of a man, and that was part of the pleasure for him.  He loved feeling a victim’s terror swelling, then the inevitable acceptance as his life force slipped away.   
          
When he had drained the last drop of sweet-tasting nectar, he cast the husk of the body onto the ground and wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his tunic before raising his head to stare at the other slaves.  As he searched their faces, he let the moment stretch, prolonging the little ceremony and impressing the gravity of the occasion on the group of terrified watchers.  Then he snapped his fingers, calling out the two men who would take out the garbage.

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This guy loves to create terror.  He loves his power.  And I loved setting him up as a worthy opponent for the hero and heroine of DRAGON MOON.

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New York Times, USA Today best-selling novelist, Ruth Glick (aka Rebecca York) is the author of 125 books. She writes paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue.  Her many awards include a PRISM Award for “Second Chance” in MIDNIGHT MAGIC (Tor, May 2006).  She has received two Career Achievement Awards from RT BOOK REVIEW magazine.  Her KILLING MOON was a launch book for Berkley’s Sensation Imprint.  Her Berkley Moon series continues with DRAGON MOON (October 2009)   Her latest Harlequin Intrigue, MORE THAN A MAN, was out in August.  Also the author of 15 cookbooks, Ruth loves cooking, craft projects and watching defunct TV series on DVD.  Her garden contains rocks she’s collected from around the world.

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37 responses to “MONSTER MONTH — REBECCA YORK”

  1. Dena says:

    Hello Rebecca, I’ve never read a book with Dragon shifter. Your book sounds really great thanks for the excerpt it will be interesting to see how the hero vanquishes the nasty dragon. I enjoyed your Peru pics. too, you must have had so much fun.

  2. Edie says:

    Wow! That was fascinating. I couldn’t stop reading. I’m so glad no one is watching me sneak snacks from my kitchen.

  3. Valerie says:

    Oooooh, great opening, this is going on my wishlist for sure.

    My, Christmas is soon….right? Hehe!!!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Valerie
    in Germany

  4. Minna says:

    Sounds like a great book!

  5. I have read one book with a dragon shifter but wow! this one really got my attention I can’t wait to read it.

  6. Susan says:

    What an excerpt! Enjoyed reading it.

  7. Nancy Gilliland says:

    Hi Rebecca. I was fortunate enough to be a lucky ARc reader of this, and I really enjoyed the world you created. Vandar is not the first dragon shifter I’ve encountered, but he is the first EVIL one I’ve “met”. I found the story quite hard to put down. I do love the cover art: the book I had was not that pretty. Thank you for a terrific opportunity.

  8. Rebecca York says:

    Glad you liked Vandar! Yeah, I loved writing him.

    There’s also a “good” dragon shifter in DRAGON MOON. He’s Ramsey Gallagher, and I fell in love with him while I was writing the book. I’m deep into his story now. So far, it’s called DAY OF THE DRAGON.

    Vandar was so powerful, and Ramsey had the same powers. I had to figure out how to take some of the away from him so he wouldn’t be “superman!”

    Rebecca

  9. CrystalGB says:

    Sounds great. :)

  10. Judy Cox says:

    Really enjoyed this fantastic excerpt. Your book and Vandar sounds like something I would enjoy!!

  11. Shari C says:

    I have had the pleasure of reading ‘Dragon Moon’ and it was fabulous…love those dragon shifters! Vandar is so evil that you just have to hate him…I sure did. Thank you for the hours of enjoyment reading the Moon series and looking forward to many more of your terrific stories.

  12. Jacqueline L. says:

    Oooh, monster!!!

    Just out of curiosity, do you know where each specific collected rock is or are they just spread around the garden? :)

  13. Mel K. says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    Why, I just read your newsletter. *g*
    What a great beginning! I’m looking forward to reading DRAGON MOON. I enjoy your books immensely.

  14. Karin says:

    Wow. That is a great scene. Vandar is definitely the type of monster that it seems easy to hate. He sounds like a great villain and I look forward to reading how the hero and heroine deal with him.

  15. Jane says:

    I also have never read a book with a dragon shifter before.

  16. Sarah Ulfers says:

    Thank for the excerpt. I love you Moon books and can not wait to get my hands on this one.

  17. Rebecca York says:

    Again. Thanks for the cudos.

    My rocks? I know where a few of them came from. But most just blend into the rock pile (g) I was watching the sparrows in the bird bath and wishing I had a stream in my dry creek. They’d love it, but it would be SO MUCH work to keep it clean.
    Rebecca

  18. Terri W. says:

    Hi Rebecca!

    I love your Moon series and Dragon Moon sounds like an awesome read! Cool a dragon and he seems such a bad-ass. LOL!

    Wow I loved the opening and keep up the good work!

  19. Rebecca York says:

    Well, I hope you all are surprised when you find out the relationship between the evil dragon and the good one.

    More on my rocks. I’ve traveled around the world, and you might be surprised that you can find similar looking rocks on a beach in Ireland or Italy or along a river in Costa Rica. That’s why I can’t tell them apart once I put them into my dry creek.

    Rebecca

  20. Michele says:

    WOW!!!! What an excerpt! You have caught my interest and I have now added DRAGON MOON to my TBR list. In fact I was heading over to Borders tonight to grab something new, looks like I have my something new :)

    Thanks Rebecca for stopping by 😀 Have a great weekend!

  21. Lindsey Ekland says:

    I feel sorry for Vandar just from this excerpt. I can’t wait until he is thwarted. I look forward to finding out how the dragons are connected.

  22. Raonaid Luckwell says:

    Just by saying “Dragon-Shifter” You have me so sold on getting this book! Dragons are a fondness and weakness. I have not read your books before but I have a couple in my tbr pile

  23. Deidre says:

    I can definitely see advantages to having a dragon man for your very own. lol

    Deidre

  24. Barb P says:

    Hi Rebecca! I absolutely love the series. I haven’t had a chance to pick up Dragon Moon yet but I loved the excert. I’m looking forward to reading it.

  25. Darkreader says:

    Hi Rebecca!
    I love the Moon Series and have all the books! The Marshall men are HOT!!! This book is already in my TBR pile and will be read next!

  26. stacey smith says:

    Came by to tell you I got it in the mail a few days ago.can’t wait to get to read it.
    sasluvbooks@yahoo.com

  27. Chelsea B. says:

    Great excerpt! Sounds like a really good book!

  28. CatsMeow says:

    This book sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing the except.

  29. Alexia561 says:

    Grabbed me from the first sentence! Will definitely be going on my wishlist! :)

  30. Jacqueline L. says:

    Rebecca, I think that it’s pretty neat that your collected rocks blend into your dry creek! I love picking up rocks from different places but I haven’t a garden to put them in so most just get packed away. :)

  31. Rebecca York says:

    Again, thanks. I really got into writing Vandar, but I got more into Ramsey. In the book I’m writing now, he’s just gotten into big trouble. An explosion raining rocks down on him. The heroine’s going to have to put him to bed and take care of him. And you know where that will eventually lead. I’m looking forward to getting a little farther into the scene.

    Rebecca

  32. Rebecca York says:

    I should say–I always outline my books, but I never know all the details until I get there.
    Rebecca

  33. Donna S says:

    Sounds great. I have read the beginnings of the series and its great. Guess I need to read faster to get to this one!

  34. Pamk says:

    sounds like a great series. Looks like I need to find me the first book. Are they out on ebooks. I am trying to save space on my keeper shelves. It hard to to do though.

  35. Teresa W. says:

    Sounds like my kind of series and the new release sounds good!

  36. Danny says:

    Sounds like a great story and it has a great cover

  37. The most popular will be Justin Bieber, he is so adorable!