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Friday, 22 April 2016

☀ Improbables - Jonathan Charles Bruce

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Improbables, a Paranormal Romance by (, BookTrope Editions, 351 pages).

Don't miss our interview with author Jonathan Charles Bruce.

PREVIEW: Check out the book's synopsis and excerpt below. Read the first three chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).


Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

Synopsis

Abigail Wren’s new life fresh out of college is dull, even with her (almost) dream job at the local newspaper. The only real excitement she can get is found between the pages of an endless stream of paranormal romance novels she can’t help but love.

Then, on a snowy night in December, Abigail catches a glimpse of what could only be described as a werewolf. Enamored with the possibility, her investigation leads her to discover a paranormal population—improbables—harmoniously living in the midst of humanity. Between making eyes at a perpetually grumpy werewolf and hanging out with a vampire with a lust for life (and liquor), Abigail’s life takes a shaky step out of the ordinary and into the fantastic.

Just outside of the sleepy town of Whitewater, however, a force of rage is building. Born of hate and delusion, a living cataclysm threatens to devour everyone in its path—human or improbable.

Teaser: Excerpt

PROLOGUE


SHE LAY IN HER BED, the pain and weakness conspiring to lock her in place. The sensations were more aggressive than they had ever been in the past, but not wholly unanticipated. Before these fatalistic symptoms began, she had lost the limp blonde hair on her head in ragged chunks. Her legs, never the strongest, now buckled more and more frequently beneath her. When even assisting her mother in the kitchen had become impossible, she had sat at the window in her family’s hovel, alternating between her books and watching the world unfold throughout the day. And finally, the sickness had claimed her ability to hold herself upright, and she’d found herself wasting away in her bed.
      She had been ill for as long as she could remember, and secretly resentful of it for the same duration.
      The door’s creak barely registered— no doubt it was father or mother, bringing food she couldn’t eat. Had she the energy, she would have cried. When no one spoke or came to her side, she mustered her strength and raised her head.
      A figure in a black overcoat stood by the door. Hiding his features was a mask— ornately designed with jewels and vibrant streaks of red, with a long beak pointed toward her as black eyes regarded her with interest. She knew who this was; at the very least, she knew what it was.
      Her head hit the bed. “You are wasting your time,” she croaked. “There is no plague here.”
      “I didn’t suspect there was,” the figure responded, his masculine and intriguingly accented voice filling the room. The sound was reassuring somehow— calm, yet assertive. Even his footfalls betrayed a regard for others. When he appeared in her field of vision, he took off the mask. Despite a jagged scar on his lip that was visible through his trimmed beard, he was handsome. His skin was a rich brown, unlike the familiar sunburnt hues of pinks and reds of those working the fields. Atop his head and covering his hair was a wrap of off-white cloth. His brown eyes shone with compassion as he studied her features.
      “A Moor?” she asked quietly.
      “Yes, mademoiselle,” he said kindly.
      She inhaled as her eyes rolled back from exertion. “Who are you?”
      He sat on her bed and proceeded to ignore her question. He gestured to the books around the room. “For a peasant girl, you have a lot of books.”
      “There were many days I did not leave this room.” She swallowed, nearly choking on the painful dryness of her throat. “They offered me a life I could never have.”
      “And the gift of literacy?”
      “I taught myself,” she said curtly. “I had to.”
      He bobbed his head, considering the answer. “What is your favorite?”
      “I have neither the time nor the patience to tell you the title,” she said coolly.
      Instead of the anticipated tutting of her assertiveness, the man gave a sad smile. He cleared his throat. “How long have you been sick?”
      “Always.”
      “That is a long time,” he said. “Are you not resentful?”
      “Father says that …” she took a breath, “when I was created, God saw my purity and wanted me to come back as soon as possible.” She smiled weakly at the statement. “How could I possibly be resentful?”
      “If God had been so eager to see you, why did He not merely ask you to stay?” he asked.
      The woman sighed, the closest she could offer to a laugh. “If you came here to blaspheme, I think you’d find a better audience with the heretic Lutherans to the east.”
      “A theologian?” Her eye twitched, trying to convey humility. “Could you find a better role for one such as me?”
      “I suppose I could not.” He smiled softly. “I meant no disrespect, only understanding.”
      She coughed. “You know the answer to your question. Do not make me say it.” He stroked thoughtfully at his beard. “Have you thought of what you would do if your situation was different?”
      “Is your job to merely draw out my suffering through inane questions?” she asked petulantly. If she could have turned her back on the man, she would have.
      “Your parents are desperate, do you know that?” She did not answer. “They sought out the assistance of anyone who could possibly aid their daughter. I, as I always am, was their last choice.” He waited for a response that did not come. “I have been known to work miracles.”
      The woman blinked. “You are the Cold Man, are you not?” she guessed. “The children sing of your butchery.” She strained her eyes to see his reaction. He nodded. Her heart sank. “My parents are fools to trust one like you.”
      “I understand your anger. But know that, when I ask these questions, it is not to mock.” He turned to look at the wall. “It is to see if you are deserving.”
      She inhaled deeply. “I would first go to church.”
      “Expected.”
      She continued. “There’s a hill where I used to play with the neighbor boy … before sickness took him. I would like to see it again.”
      He did not remark immediately. “Is that all?”
      “I was waiting for your commentary,” she said flatly. The Cold Man warmly chuckled. When he stopped, she continued. “And then … I would spend the day helping my parents.” A tear collected and dropped out of the corner of her eye. “The next day, I would set out and see what I could.” Her lip trembled. “Perhaps find love on some far-off shore.” She started coughing, each spasm sending spikes of pain needling into her skin. When it stopped, she shut her eyes and concentrated on the question. “I would actually live.”
      The Cold Man was silent for several moments, ascertaining her response. Finally, he stood up, prompting the woman to open her eyes. He was unbuttoning his overcoat. “I can offer you something.”
      She swallowed. “And that would be?”
      “A gamble. A roll of the dice.” The overcoat was slipped out of and placed gently on the bed, spread wide to reveal its contents. The Cold Man turned to face her and rolled up the sleeve of his ruffled shirt, revealing his bare forearm. “There are only two outcomes: one is a quick death.”
      She twitched a smile. “A slight improvement.”
      “The other,” he said carefully, modulating his tone so that it bore no uncertain foreboding, “is life. You will be granted the vigor denied to you, returned twentyfold. A place in the sun. The capability to do all you want.” He reached for an item from the coat and held it up for inspection: a long, thick needle baring a multitude of barbs at the end.
      She blinked, slowly. “What you say comes at a price, does it not?”
      He nodded, sitting again on the bed. “It does. You will forever walk the realm between life and death. You can observe and partake in life only in a half-measure. And you must know that you will be condemned to watch all you love, and will ever love, grow old and die.”
      She considered the statement. “Are you the Devil?” she rasped.
      The Cold Man seemed amused. “You give me too much credit.”
      “What of my immortal soul?”
      He seemed genuinely intrigued by her question. “If it is true what your father says, and you are a pure soul, do you think that you would do more good here or in Heaven alongside countless others just like you?” A pause. “You will still be you until you wish to change.”
      Her mouth trembled. “And … I could be loved?” “You already are,” the Cold Man said, sweeping a stray strand of hair off her forehead. His hand was dry and cool— not the deathly cold she had heard whispered about. “But yes.” She stared at him intently. “Will it hurt?” The Cold Man smiled softly. “You have suffered so much already. What’s one more night?”

Improbables
Available NOW!

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About the Author

Jonathan Charles Bruce began writing what amounted to terrible Star Trek: The Next Generation fan fiction when he was four… provided that you accept that “forcing other people to write what he said” is the same thing as “writing”.  Although the original manuscripts are lost (or perhaps destroyed), we can rest assured that his prose has improved significantly since then.

After high school, he began writing and directing plays which gradually improved depending on whom you ask.  He discovered his love of a good fight scene after writing a Dracula knock-off which took a 19th century classic and made it less about Victorian yearning and 300% more about stabbing things in the jugular.

He has a Master’s Degree in History, thanks largely to his thesis focusing on MUSIC, a Milwaukee-based school desegregation campaign during the 1960’s.  He also enjoys discussing/making fun of pop culture of the 20th century and reading books of a non-historical nature.

In his off moments, you can catch him writing for fun or making inane movies about nothing in particular.

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