News on the VERONA BLOOD / VIOLENT KINGDOM series rebrand

HUGE news!

The California Blood series got a major rebrand in the lead up to book #2 releasing. Though I absolutely LOVE the original covers and titles, I feel like the new covers and titles more accurately portray the dizzying wealth, the corrupted family dynasties, and the dark romance genre that Avery and Rome’s story sits in.

VICIOUS PRINCE (formerly titled “Verona Blood”) is released and FREE on ALL retailers for a very limited time!

VENGEFUL QUEEN (Formerly titled “Burn in Your Blood”) will release October 22nd.

and finally, VIOLENT REIGN (Formerly titled “In Cold Blood”) will finish off the series November 26th.

NEW TITLES

Here are those new titles again for you:

BOOK 1: VICIOUS PRINCE

BOOK 2: VENGEFUL QUEEN

BOOK 3: VIOLENT REIGN

WHY I DECIDED TO REBRAND THE SERIES

For those who are curious, a lot of elements go into planning the look and feel of a series. I originally planned this series back in 2016 - a lot has changed in book world since then!

And while I LOVE the covers and original titles, there were some issues I hadn’t anticipated - for example, readers mistakenly assuming that VERONA BLOOD was a paranormal / vampire book!

It happened so many times that I knew I had to do something drastic to change perception. As authors, we can sometimes get too emotionally attached to our covers and titles - our books are our pride and joy. But for this series, largely because the word BLOOD was in the titles, and/or because the covers were that gorgeous bright red wash, readers were getting confused.

Which told me a rebrand was in order! And I’ll be totally honest, I’m a cover whore, and any chance to design more covers with my beloved designers is a good thing. : )

Check out the gorgeous new covers below…

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IT'S COVER REVEAL TIME! :)

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I’m not a girl who expects to be saved. I gave up on fairytales a long time ago. So when my knight in shining Armani stalks into town and delivers me from my tragic fate, I’m grateful.

Darius Prince shouldn’t be in the seedy strip club where I’m paying off my mother’s debts, one piece of my soul at a time. And he definitely shouldn’t be the one who claims me in exchange for a suitcase full of trust fund cash and a deal inked in blood.

His dark eyes shine with a hatred so deadly, I wonder why he wants me at all. Especially when I find out he thinks I’m somehow connected to his twin sister’s disappearance.

I’ve never stepped foot on the private island my mother grew up on. Never spoken to the Aunt who takes custody of me and whisks me away from everything I’ve ever known. I could never afford a place at the most exclusive prep school on the West Coast, but my mother’s death ensures I get one.

Darius doesn’t rescue me. Instead, he drags me into his web of tragic secrets and forbidden desire. He binds me so tight, I can’t find my way out of his grasp. Not that it would make a difference. Escaping my fate isn’t an option.

They say every ending is a new beginning. I just didn’t expect my beginning to be so cruel.

 

WARNING: This isn’t just an enemies-to-lovers romance, guys. This is ABOUT high school students, but it is not FOR high school students to read. 18+ for mature content.


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My unintentional sabbatical

Where have the last ten months gone?

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I’ve been on an unintentional sabbatical of sorts since I stepped onto a plane to fly halfway across the world and watch my brother get married in England.

You won’t be able to get any work done on this trip, my (very wise) husband said to me. You should just take the month off.

Of course I didn’t listen. Of course I can get work done, I replied. I’ll have you with me!

HAHAHAHAHA.

Cramped long-haul flights, jetlag, a nasty virus that kept the three of us coughing half the trip - yeah, my husband was right. I successfully managed about ten hours of work over the month we were away, in two Starbucks visits to steal their wifi. It took me maybe two weeks to stop fighting against this and just accept the fact that I was not meant to spend my month in Europe hunched over a laptop - not easy for a workaholic like me!

But then I did relax into having some time off - probably the longest stretch of time away from the writing biz since I published Seven Sons.

And I started to enjoy not being chained to the computer for what felt like most of my days.

And I ended up taking almost TEN MONTHS OFF. Yup, I’m always one for extremes. Stop or Go. All or nothing.

To be clear: I never stopped writing. I couldn’t stop writing, even if I wanted to! It’s a part of who I am, the way I understand the world.

I just stopped with deadlines. With having to meet insane word count goals. I closed my office door in the afternoon and didn’t go back in until the next morning (mostly).

I’ve written a TON in the meantime, probably because without constant pressure, creativity can thrive.

And now, for the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling it. The urge to be BACK. As in, be releasing books, and reconnecting with readers, and posting on my social media channels again.

I’m so glad that England trip forced me off my hamster wheel - and I’m so excited to be stepping back into book world!

Keep your eyes peeled for a new series, an overhauled series, and some exciting publishing news that I’ve been sitting on for FAR too long :)

Lots of Love,

Lili

xxx

Juliette & Dornan: BONUS SCENE

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A Gypsy Brothers alternate ending

(Just to explain, before you read the scene below and get SUPER confused… I decided to have a little fun and write a DARK and MESSED UP reimagining of Juliette and Dornan’s endgame, to celebrate the five year publishing anniversary (publiversary?) of Seven Sons!

And since I started the series with a WHAT IF question, I figured, why not start this scene with one? So….

What if…

Juliette never escaped from the dungeon below Emilio’s mansion in Three Years?

What if Jase, Elliot and Luis fucked up in their quest to save her?

And … faaark …. years later … what if Juliette is STILL BLOODY DOWN THERE!?

Confucius said, “Before embarking upon a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Confucius said, “Before embarking upon a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

It’s been a long time since I had to dig two graves, for the two men I loved.

One for Jase.

One for Elliot.

They came for me in the night, to rescue me from the depths of hell I’d been stuck in for months with Dornan Ross, but it didn’t matter. Dornan had figured them out before they’d even stepped foot inside Emilio’s compound, and I cried as first Elliot, then Jase, bled to death in front of me, ripped apart by bullets and bitter vengeance. The cycle of retribution had finally been completed, but instead of it being a happy end, it was a conclusion filled with utter devastation.

I screamed when he shot them.

I begged him to stop.

But Dornan didn’t hesitate for a moment as he lifted his gun and blew Elliot away, pumped him full of lead and kept shooting even after it was clear Elliot’s lifeblood had drained away.

Jase he took his time with, taunted, as only a father who has been betrayed could taunt his youngest son.

We nearly got away.

But we didn’t.

And it’s all my fault.

***

Six months later, I give birth in that same dank, airless room, no pain relief and no support.

It happens like this: After I scream and cry and finally push my daughter into the world – the daughter I know with all my heart belongs to Jase, not Dornan – a midwife who speaks only Spanish catches her and cuts her umbilical cord, severing her from me.

We’ve been one for so long, but as I stare at the bloody, screaming newborn in the midwife’s hands, something crucial withers inside of me.

Hope.

I die a thousand harrowing deaths as the midwife hands my daughter to Dornan Ross, and a thousand more when I see the look of adoration in his eyes. The look of satisfaction.

“I always wanted a daughter,” he says to me. As I scream and shake and begin to understand the ferocity of a mother’s love. As I finally become Dornan’s equal. I am a mother, and he was a father, before I took his six sons from him. Only in this moment, as I watch him hold my baby, as I bleed too much blood to put up any kind of fight, do I understand the viciousness of a parent’s love for their child.

Only in this moment do I understand how it could feel to lose the thing you love the most.

As it dawns on me I won’t even be able to feed my baby the colostrum that drips from my breasts.

He has won this war of ours. I have lost.

It was all for nothing.

Once the midwife confirms the baby is healthy, weighs her and wraps her and hands her back to Dornan, he cradles my daughter in one arm, takes his gun from his waistband and shoots the midwife point blank in the face.

That was almost four years ago.

***

It’s Sunday today, and if I’m good, Dornan will let me see my little girl. He called her Emily, after his father, Emilio. I wasn’t allowed to choose. I wasn’t even allowed to hold her. I expressed milk into bottles with a gun to my head and a Polaroid photo of my daughter pinned to the wall beside me, a human cow who existed only to nourish my young.

But I have to be very good, and do exactly as I’m told, or he’ll take my visit away. I’ll spend another week in here, with him, without seeing my baby. She looks like Jase, big brown eyes and lashes so lush and long, they look almost fake. Tiny rosebud lips – those she got from me – and her father’s forehead and olive skin.

I’m jolted out of my endless waiting by the door swinging open suddenly. Dornan enters my nine-by-nine cell, slamming the door behind him with a resolute thud. He smiles at me, his eyes cold, his manner that of a hunter bearing down on prey.

“Good morning, Juliette,” he says, his voice as if he’s got a throat full of gravel.

I don’t answer. I can barely talk anymore. Sometimes, I must go weeks without uttering a single word.

“It’s a good day, baby. You know why?”

I shake my head, cringing as he presses his hand to my swollen stomach. My third pregnancy down here. The first was baby Emily. The second ended in a miscarriage after Dornan kicked me too hard, too many times. Now, he’s learned his lesson. He sticks to my extremities when he’s beating me unconscious. I feel like my brain is starting to atrophy, like a fighter who’s taken one too many hits to the face.

“The blood test results came back. It’s a boy,” he says proudly. “A son to replace one of the sons you stole from me.”

My chest constricts painfully. All of a sudden, it’s really fucking hard to breathe, and not because of the fetus currently kickboxing my insides. I know, and have always known beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my daughter was fathered by Jase. I wanted her to stay in my womb forever, where she was safe, where she was away from this madness.

But the reality of carrying a baby fathered by Dornan – a son, no less – makes me want to throw myself off the roof. I’m not this child’s mother. I’m nothing but a host, a live incubator, a flesh and bone surrogate of doom.

Dornan sees my reaction, and it makes him chuckle. “You look old, Julie. Old and worn down. I’ll make you a deal. After this one’s born, I’ll put a bullet in your head and end all this. What do you say?”

I’d say yes, only I know it’s a trick. A cruel lie. The debt’s too high for him to just let me go like that.

“Kidding,” he says. “You know I can’t do that.”

He taps the end of my nose playfully. “You’ll have this one, and another, and another. And one day, the balance will be even.  Am I right, baby girl?”

Tears form in my eyes and I have to blink them away, or they’ll fall, and that will only excite him.

He grins, baring those teeth that he bites into my flesh when he wants to hear me scream.

“We’re almost even. The question is, how many more do you think you’ve got in you, Julz?”

I remember the moments after Emily was born, perfect and healthy. How I’d almost died from blood loss. How I’d woken up to find a red-filled tube running from Dornan’s arm to mine. “What do you know,” he’d said wryly. “We’ve got the same blood type, you and me.”

I didn’t want his blood inside me, but it didn’t matter. He got inside me then, and he’s inside me now, and that’s all it’ll ever be until he decides to turn out the lights in my world.

“Baby girl,” he says, backing me up until he’s pressing me against hard limestone wall, cupping my chin almost tenderly. “I’ve missed you this week.”

He kisses me hungrily, and I reciprocate. What choice do I have? The pleasures I get in this world are fleeting, brief. He tastes like cigarettes and coffee and a brief reprieve from my fate. I pull him into me, kissing him back feverishly, my eternal hope that he’ll love me enough to let me out of this room one day.

He picks me up easily, my frame waifish despite my twenty-something week pregnancy, dropping me on the single bed and crawling on top of me.

I don’t fight as he unbuttons my blouse, button by agonizing button.

I don’t fight as he rips my panties from me and pushes my skirt up around my waist.

I don’t fight as he wrenches my legs apart and pushes inside me.

I don’t fight as he wraps his hands around my throat and squeezes until the room spins around me and white spots appear in my vision.

I don’t fight at all.

***

When it’s over, he takes me upstairs and lets me see her.

“Mama!” Emily yells, her brown curls flying out behind her as she runs across the living room to me.

“Baby!” I exclaim, kneeling on one knee and extending my arms out. I catch her in a bear hug, burying my face in her tiny neck; breathing in the sweet baby smell that’s still there, the one that I don’t think ever goes away for a mother. I smother her in kisses. I think of Jase. I swallow back a tidal wave of grief.

“Mama!” she says excitedly. “Daddy says I’m getting a baby brother!”

I look up at Dornan, who’s standing behind my little girl, watching our scene unfold with great satisfaction.

I feel my lips quiver as I try to answer her. “Yeah, sweetie,” I say, brushing away a tear. “He’s going to love you so much.”

I look up at Dornan again, at his smirk, at the dark promises in his eyes for me, all for me.

Dornan Ross once promised me things worse than death.

Now, I know all of them.

He’s going to give me my children and then take them all away.

And there’s not a damned thing I can do to stop him.

 ***

It ends too quickly, it always does. In the end, he has to drag me away from her, and I can tell how much he loves doing it, each and every time.

Back in my airless little hell, Dornan pushes me face-first against the wall and just stands there, trapping me with his large body, his breath hot on my neck as his arms cage me in.

I have tried so hard to find an escape from this room. A sharp edge, a long enough sheet, something poisonous to swallow. But the only poison I get to taste is the kiss of the man who has utterly destroyed me.

God, what I would give to get out of here. I would give him anything.

I would give him everything. My soul. My limbs. This baby boy inside my womb. I would give him my life, tear my skin open like paper and watch it spill away, if he would just give me the chance.

But Dornan Ross is not the kind of man who desires things that come easily. Dornan Ross is a man who lives to see the torment his retribution causes. Dornan Ross is a man who exists to twist the knife deeper in the gut of his enemy, and I am his worst enemy. He twists and twists but he never gets the knife deep enough to actually kill me.

Dornan Ross is not a merciful monster.

“Aren’t you tired of this?” I say wearily, my fingers raw against the rough limestone wall, salty tears stinging my cheeks. “Aren’t you tired of me?”

Dornan laughs, and I feel the way his chest rattles against my back. “Are you kidding me?” he replies, fisting his hand in my hair and yanking forcefully so my neck is exposed. “I could never get tired of this, baby girl. You and me? We were always going to end up here.”

He leans in, sinking his teeth into my neck like some kind of pseudo-vampire. At the same time, he brings his free hand around to my front, finding the place at the juncture of my thighs where if he presses just a little, in just the right spot, he pain fades away.

Pleasure and pain. Blood and betrayal.

A vengeful girl and a villainous man.

Dornan and Juliette. 

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Whichever way this ends, there’s going to be blood.

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(Warning: I write DARK ROMANCE. DAAAAARK. Messed-up shit happens.)

He sizes me up like I’m a piece of steak he’s about to cut into. His eyes drift from my face, down my torso, all the way to my feet and back again, and when he’s done I feel like he’s painted an oil slick from my head to my toes. 

“Please,” I say listlessly. 

Ca-ssan-dra,” he mocks, the grin on his face a mile wide. He stands, the shotgun casually slung over one shoulder as he approaches me. I put my hand on the doorknob and twist, pulling it open an inch, but he is faster. He’s in front of me, using his free hand to slam the door shut again, leaving it there so I’m caged in by his thick arm.

I swallow thickly. Fuck.

He wrinkles his nose up, the grin still cemented to his face. “You. Stink. Like. Sex.”

My stomach drops. I want to throw up.

I’m so terrified, I can’t even speak.

Smirking, he takes his hand away and pulls a cell phone from his jeans. He dials and holds it to his ear, pulling a face as he studies mine. He’s entertained by my fear. He’s… what’s the word? He’s triumphant. He thinks he’s won, but I don’t even know what game we’re playing. I hear a voice on the other end of the phone, and really, who else would it be?

“I found your girl,” he says into the phone. “I think she’s got some things she’d like to tell you about who’s been sticking their dick inside her.”

Something distracts him. I see it in the way his eyes glaze over, the way he turns away from me ever so slightly. I’m trapped against the door, but if I can just get past him, I’ll be able to run for the kitchen. 

There are sharp things in the kitchen. Knives. 

Fuck. Whichever way this ends, there’s going to be blood.

I bring my knee up as hard as I can, hitting him in the groin. He’s got an erection. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. All that excitement from trapping me in my own home. He doubles over, groaning. “You fucking cunt!” he roars, dropping the phone. He reaches out to grab me, but I twist out of his grip, elbowing him in the side as hard as I can.

I run to the kitchen, my arm throbbing, my brain screaming. Knife! Knife?

Knife. I find the sharpest blade in the block, the one I accidentally cut myself with the other day, and brandish it in front of me. He charges at me, the shotgun still in his hand, aimed at the floor. 

If I can just get the gun away from him. 

If I can just get the gun. 

If I can just.

Fuck.

“Give me that,” he says, holding out his hand like I’m a petulant child who grabbed a second helping of chocolate ice cream after dinner. I feign surrender, letting my wrist go limp as I hand the knife to him. He chuckles, his wide palm in striking distance. 

I don’t hand him the knife. I slash the knife as hard as I can across his palm. Fuck you, you psycho. As if I’d hand you the only weapon I have.

He growls, his face beet red. “Ffffuuuuck!” he rages, spittle landing on my cheek. I step back, but not fast enough. He is biggerstrongerfaster than me, and his bloodied hand closes around my knife-wielding wrist so hard, I feel like the bone might snap. I gasp in a breath, fighting his vise-like grip as my wrist screams in agony. The pain is sharp, it’s warm, it’s coated in the blood that pours from his deep laceration all down my arm.

“You fucking cut me?!” he rages. 

The knife clatters to the floor and he lets go of my twisted wrist. I turn to run as he lifts the butt of the shotgun above my head. There’s a sharp crack at the back of my skull, and a syrupy warmth that begins to ooze into my hair. It’s almost a relief, the way the world blurs and fizzes. I sink down to my hands and knees, like I’m praying to this murderous God above me. My vision tunnels as I begin to crawl, black haze eating at the edges of my sight. He kicks me in the ribs, hard enough that I land on my back. He steps over me, the leather of his boots warm through my jeans as he holds me in place, and he’s all I can see in the pinpricks of my sight. He’s not smiling anymore. What will he do to me?

“So that’s where you’ve been,” He marvels, holding a matchbox car up and spinning the wheels with his fingertip. “On a field trip. Looks like you got yourself some souvenirs.” I stare at the little car, a child’s toy, swallowed up in his big hand. The crude letters scratched into its underside are too far away for me to read, but I already know what they spell. 

* * *

When I open my eyes, the pain in my head is so sharp I vomit a little. But I’m on my back, nowhere for the bile to go. I swallow it back down. It burns.

I’m cold. My arms are stretched above me, bound together and aching, and when I try to move them nothing happens. I tug again, harder. Fuck. I’m tied to the table, but worse than that, there’s a length of rope or something equally strong running underneath the table, reaching from my wrists to each of my ankles. When I pull my wrists, the rope around my ankles tightens. If I try to kick my feet away from the table legs, it only drags the rope tighter around my wrists.

I tug at the ropes, twisting this way and that, but it’s useless. Every tug makes the rope a little tighter. I am bound, trussed up like a roast turkey ready to be carved for Thanksgiving. Above the refrigerator, the random collection of bobble-head toys and collectibles mock me with their unnaturally large eyes, their plastic grins, their ridiculous irony.

He appears at the edge of my vision. I turn my head just as he sits down on a dining chair and scoots toward me.

“You got me good,” he murmurs, staring down at his palm. “You’re a fucking bitch, you know that?” He laughs, but then his laughter turns to rage. He reaches his hand over and presses his bleeding palm to my mouth. Before I can clamp my lips together, warm blood breaches my mouth. It tastes like I just licked an ashtray full of pennies and dirt. I retch, trying to twist my head away as he digs his fingernails into my cheeks.

“You taste that?” he growls, standing as his chair falls away behind him with a crash. “You crazy bitch. That’s on you. That’s on you.

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Want to read GUN SHY?

Just head over to Amazon.com and grab your copy  - FREE to read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers for a very limited time!

 

BURN IN YOUR BLOOD excerpt!

Warning: Don't read this in public ;)

ROME

I reach for the nightstand, for the condoms in the top drawer. 

“Harder,” Avery whispers. My dick gets even harder, almost to the point of pain, as I watch her tits bounce. Condom, I think, as I let my fingers rest loosely around her throat and use every ounce of my self-control to stop myself from squeezing the thin column of her elegant throat until she chokes. We need a condom. 

“I don’t want to hurt you,” I grind out. 

It’s a lie. I do want to hurt her, just a little bit. Bite her nipples until that moment before the skin breaks, bruise her with my tongue. I want to impale her on my cock so she’s still thinking of me with every step she takes, every aching throb that pulses through her womb for days after we leave here. I want to fill her up with my cum so it’s still leaking from her tomorrow when she sits at a boardroom table with her fiancee and talks about the quarterly reports.

I don’t want to wear a fucking rubber when I’m inside Avery Capulet. I want to mark her. I want to put my baby in her and watch her stomach swell and kill anyone who ever comes near her again that she doesn’t want around.

Oh my fucking God. My mind is reeling, my senses on overdrive. This is dangerous. 

Too fucking dangerous.

Neither of us should be doing this. Fucking her like this is one thing, but fucking her without protection? Part of me loves it , the animal within that wants to mark every part of her, inside and out, make her mine. But the voice of reason inside me is clear, concise. 

Be careful.

“Harder,” she moans, an edge of irritation on the word. 

I’m tired of being careful. 

GUN SHY IS LIVE!

I am THRILLED to let you know that GUN SHY is finally here!

CLICK HERE FOR ALL BUY LINKS

About Gun Shy:

  • Psychological Thriller
  • TOTAL standalone (NOOOO cliffhanger!)
  • 90,000 words (my longest novel yet)

What reviewers are saying so far...

"A HUGE 5 star read. I have read so many novels in my time of blogging, but Gun Shy is one of the best novels I have ever read. I cannot express to you how much this novel twisted my very core. You simply need to read this." - Bloggers from Down Under

"The story is utterly gripping. It will have you hook, line, and sinker.

"This thriller is so dark and twisted there is no way you can predict what's about to happen."

"I am literally lost for words. Mind manipulation at it’s finest."

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