Monday, 3 September 2012

The Gentler Side of Ass-Kicking

For me, one of the most appealing things about a kick-ass heroine, is when we get a glimpse into her softer side, when compassion or love or some other gentler emotion wriggles through her hard-shell. It's exciting to see how or if this will change her behaviour, if it will endanger her or her mission, and how it might make her a stronger or a weaker person.

It's a little like loving the alpha male or bad-boy hero - we want to see what he's like with just a hint of vulnerability, to contrast his hard, often arrogant behaviour with his tenderness towards his heroine or his unwavering loyalty to his comrades or whatever.

And obviously, we need a strong man to match our butt-kicking heroine. Which is another thing to love about this kind of story - the conflict and excitement of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object :). And I love that these heroines are now a match for the strongest of heroes.

But how realistic do you think this is?  Personally, I don't care - it's escapism, and if an author can make me believe in it, I'm happy. And let's face it, women in real life as well as in fiction have always had ways of compensating for being the supposedly weaker sex.

Here's a glimpse of my latest heroine, Serafina (Sera) MacBride, who's just discovered she can't defeat a particular man by physical means or intimidate him into doing what she wants - namely clear off and let her act out her little scam without further interruption. Only it doesn't quite work out as planned...

Ebook Available Now 
$2.99 from Amazon, Amazon UK and B&N

Silence has never been so sinful…

Welcome to Edinburgh's unique psychic investigation agency, Serafina's.

Serafina MacBride is psychic - but not strictly honest. While staging a hilarious vampire attack at a client's party, Sera is stunned to encounter a real vampire - annoying, gorgeous and inaudible to everyone but her. When her client's son is found dead with puncture wounds in his neck, she tracks the silent vampire to his lair.

But the amoral and seductive  Blair is also on a mission - to find and kill a nest of young vampires who've invaded his territory. Soon Sera is drawn into the bizarre world of the undead, where danger lurks in the shadows along with forbidden sensual delights - and a murderous conspiracy to flood the world with financially astute vampires who talk.

Supported and hindered by Blair's eccentric, undead friends, and by her own motley crew from Serafina's, Sera and Blair uncover surprising truths about each other and about the mysterious Founder from whom all vampires are descended.

In the end, Sera draws on powers she never knew she had in a frantic fight to defeat the forces of evil and preserve the strange, complicated being  she's trying so hard not to love.


“He doesn’t say anything, in case you haven’t noticed,” Tam retorted.

Sera glanced at her henchman without affection as she picked up the dropped stick. “You know what, Tam? Your loyalty is becoming seriously suspect.”

Even in the darkness, Tam managed to look affronted. His acting had improved by leaps and bounds.

The other man said conversationally, “He can’t hear me.”

 “Why, what did you stick in his ears?”

“Nothing. I’m not speaking.”

“Ah. I’m hearing voices in my head,” Sera said with blatant mockery.

“Aye,” Tam replied at the same time as the other man said, “My voice, at least.”

“And that would be because…?”

“You hit your head when you fell,” Tam answered.

“Because I’m a vampire,” said the stranger in the kilt.

Didn’t this idiot know when to quit? Sera took it upon herself to inform him. She stepped nearer and glared right into his handsome face. “So bite me, arsehole.”

This close, his dark eyes seemed to smolder. Every one of her nerve endings fizzed in confused warning. She wasn’t afraid of him, though; it was a long time since she’d been afraid of anyone. But neither was she stupid, and she gripped the sharp stick, ready to use in a flash, if necessary. She was prepared for anything he had to throw at her.

Except what he did.

He whispered, “I’d love to.” His lips curved into a predatory, devastating smile; his voice curled around her stomach, spreading heat where it had no business to be in this situation.

“Give it a rest, and go away,” she said crossly.

“Not a chance. I want to know what you’re up to.”

“I’ll call for help. Have you arrested or thrown out.”

The smile widened. “No, you won’t.” He didn’t trouble to elaborate. They both knew it was the truth.

Sera actually stamped her foot. “Christ, you’re annoying!”

“What do you expect? My supper’s been interrupted.” His gaze flickered to Tam, who was frowning uncertainly in their direction, and then returned to devour Sera in a way that would have been flattering had she not known he was playing a part. As it was, her treacherous body responded with a surge of blatant lust—which at least gave her one last, desperate idea.

She smiled at the stranger and leaned into him, stretching up on tiptoe so that her lips could reach his ear. He smelled of some elusive spice and sweet earth, and suddenly it wasn’t so difficult to act.

“I can tell you’re a man who likes excitement,” she murmured, letting her breath stir his ear, the soft, tiny hairs on his skin. His breath didn’t hitch, but at least he bent nearer her, betraying that he wasn’t unmoved. She smiled again, knowing she was so close he’d feel her lips almost touching his ear. “Wait here for me. I’ll be back in five minutes and we can…talk.”

On the last word, she let her breast brush against his chest. Whatever it did to him, her own body screamed awareness. Her nipples hardened, egging her on, while some intense, wicked excitement threatened to overwhelm her. Because she could win now, make him wait while she and her henchmen did what they’d come here for. And later, she could find out what the hell was going on, and if Ferdy had employed this guy too.

She leaned back, returning her feet flat to the ground. The stranger’s odd, dark eyes flamed with what she hoped was arousal. He said, “Why don’t we ‘talk’ first?” And bent over her.

She stepped smartly backward. “Tam,” she whispered. “I have to get rid of Tam.”

“I don’t mind Tam.” His gaze lifted from the rapid rise and fall of her breasts to her throat. His lips, full and sensual, parted as they smiled, revealing a glimpse of pointed canine teeth.

“Oh Jesus H. Ch—” she began in frustration, and broke off in mid-word as he lifted his hand to her neck, brushing her skin with one soft, blatantly sexual caress.

“It’s you I want,” he whispered. She felt no breath on her skin, no warmth from him to excite her, and yet his words thrilled from her mind to every nerve in her body. And then cold sliced through her like a shard of ice.

It blasted her. Yet there was no vision, only a profound, red-tinged blackness she couldn’t bear to look into. She caught a little fun and pleasure and humor from the mix, bleeding from the darkness, but the overwhelming sensation was of death and pulsating, unreachable memory, cold and black and terrifyingly profound. Although Sera was used to picking up emotions, even visions, from touch, it took her several disoriented moments to realize that this dreadful flood had grown out of the sensual caress of his fingertips, of the smell and feel that was uniquely him. Him, God help her.

She threw herself backward out of his awful reach, stifling the cry of agony that tried to burst from her lips. Christ, who are you? What have you done…? 

Their eyes locked. Sera heard only her own panting breath. The smile still curving the stranger’s lips began to die. He took another step nearer her, and she raised one useless hand to ward him off.

And someone screamed, loud and insistent.


Contest: To enter the drawing for an e-copy of Blood Guilt - featuring another kick-ass heroine! - answer the question How realistic do you find today's kick-ass heroines, or comment on today's post in some other way. The contest will close at midnight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.


  1. Thanks for sharing the snippet about the book. Sounds interesting :)

  2. Great excerpt, Marie! As for realistic? I'm not sure honestly how realistic such strong heroines are, but in general, they skirt at least the realm of possibility, and well, I don't always read for realism ;) So if I'm in the mood, I just sit back and enjoy the ride! Also, it depends a bit on the author as well--is the character created in a way that pulls me into believing this strong, tough personality? Or does it feel fake? That makes a big difference too :) Serafina seems to come by her kick-ass-ness quite well ;)

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

    1. Thanks, Fedora! No, I read for escapism, not realism, and like you I enjoy being pulled into a story that can force me to suspend disbelief.

      Thanks again - she's a natural :)


  3. Alas, most kick-ass heroines have some sort of magic or superpower; that's how they can kick-ass so much without dying. With the basic premise out of the realm of reality, authors have to make it seem reasonable through their world-buidling. For example, some might have some sort of explanation for the abilities.
    I read for entertainment. I don't need reality but the story has to make sense.

  4. That's true, Carol, and a little magic would certainly help our real life confidence in dealing with whatever life throws at us :). Though I suppose we also have the "straight" heroines like Eve Dallas from "In Death" who do it without paranormal help.

    Anyway, I'm with you. Entertain me but make me believe it :).


  5. Thanks for your comments, everyone! And the winner of BLOOD GUILT is...


    Congrats, Beckey. Could you please drop me a line at Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com with your preferred format? I can do Mobi for Kindle, epub or a PDF ARC.