Welcome to our second week of celebrations for the fabulous
In today's post, we'll look at Cronin's Key, a paranormal series about NYPD officer Alec and vampire Cronin, and The Weight Of It All, a standalone title. We also have five little-known facts about Nic, plus another chance to win one of her books.
First up, Cronin's Key #1
NYPD Detective Alec MacAidan has always been good with weird. After all, his life has been a string of the unexplainable. But when an injured man gives him cryptic clues, then turns to dust in front of him, Alec's view on weird is changed forever.
Cronin, a vampire Elder, has spent the last thousand years waiting for Alec. He'd been told his fated one would be a man wielding a shield, but he didn't expect him to be human, and he certainly didn't expect that shield to be a police badge.
Both men, strong-willed and stubborn, are still learning how to cope with the push and pull of being fated, when fate throws them another curveball.
Rumors have spread quickly of turmoil in Egypt. Covens are fleeing with news of a vampire who has a talent like no other, hell-bent on unleashing the wrath of Death.
Alec and Cronin are thrown into a world of weird Alec cannot imagine. What he learned in school of ancient pharaohs and Egyptian gods was far from the truth. Instead, he finds out firsthand that history isn't always what it seems.
Despite the burn in his lungs and legs, Alec pushed himself harder, faster. As he rounded the corner of a building, the guy he was chasing approached the eight-foot brick wall that fenced the back of the alley.
The assailant didn’t stop; he didn’t even balk. He simply used the alley wall to his right to launch himself up onto the top of the brick fence, where he paused for just a second, long enough to stop, turn, and look at Alec. And he smiled before disappearing onto the other side.
Two things flashed through Alec’s mind: speed and teeth.
Neither of them human.
Alec did as the assailant had done. He ran to the dead end, then stepped onto the alley wall and used it to propel himself up enough to get his arms up on top of the brick fence, pulling himself over it.
He swung his legs over and jumped down into another shorter alley that met a main road just a hundred yards away. Cars passed and Alec thought for sure he’d lost the chase, but a lone figure stood in the alley. Alec thought for a moment that the man had simply given up running, but something flashed near the street—a coat, Alec realized—before disappearing around the corner.
The lone man just stood there. All Alec could see was a silhouette, lit only from a streetlight behind him at the end of the alley, the man was completely shrouded in shadow. Alec pulled his gun and aimed it at him. “NYPD,” he huffed, out of breath. “Hands where I can see ’em.”
The man fell to his knees, then slumped to his side on the wet pavement. Alec ran to him, and when he was close enough, he could see a dark pool of blood seeping through the man’s shirt. Alec hadn’t heard any shots fired, nor any confrontation. Was he shot? Stabbed?
Alec pressed his hand against the man’s chest with one hand and radioed for backup with his other. “This is MacAidan. I need a paramedic.”
It was only now that he was close enough that Alec could see the man’s face. He was pale with dark eyes, but he was smiling. He was oddly beautiful and serene despite having what looked like a bullet wound in his chest.
“What’s your name?” Alec asked him.
The man laughed. “He missed my heart.”
“We’ll get you to the hospital,” Alec said. “Just hang on.”
“No.” He shook his head slowly, still smiling. “It’s you. It really is you.”
Alec was sure the man was seeing someone that wasn’t there, as most people taking their last breaths often did. “What’s your name?”
“He will come for you. Tell him it’s started, they’re coming.” His voice was wispy, fading. “It’s not one, it’s both.”
The man was making no sense. “Tell who?”
The man on the ground reached up and put his hand to Alec’s chest. He smiled again, his eyes glazed over with something akin to wonder. “I touched the key.”
“Detective MacAidan.” Alec’s radio cracked to life, startling him. He didn’t know how long the operator had been calling his name. “State your location.”
“The key to what?”
The dying man laughed. “You must tell Cronin what I said. He’ll find you, Ailig.”Alec’s blood ran cold. Ailig? How the hell did he know…? Then the man on the ground took his last breath and crumbled to dust.
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The 2nd book, Cronin's Key II
History isn’t always what it seems.
With the battle of Egypt behind them, Alec and Cronin are enjoying the thrill of new love. Though fate doesn’t wait long before throwing them back into the world of weird.
They know Alec’s blood is special, though its true purpose still eludes them. And given Alec’s inability to be changed into a vampire, Cronin is free to drink from him at will. But the ramifications of drinking such powerful blood starts a ripple effect.
With the help of Jorge, a disturbing vampire-child with the gift of foresight, Alec and Cronin face a new kind of war. This time their investigations lead them to the borders of China and Mongolia—but it’s not what lies in the pits beneath that worries Alec.
It’s the creator behind it all.
In the underground depths of China, amidst a war with the Terracotta Army, they will find out just what the Key is, and what Alec means to the vampire world.
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And third in the series, Cronin's Key III
History isn’t always what it seems…
Twelve months after his change, Alec MacAidan is still getting used to his many vampire talents. While most vampires would give anything to have more than one supernatural power, Alec craves nothing more than peace and time alone with Cronin. But when Alec meets entities from outside this realm, he’s left powerless in their presence.
Zoan are half-lycan, half-dragon creatures that have slipped through time and reality, seemingly undetected by man and vampire. Or have they? They bear an uncanny resemblance to gargoyles, leaving Alec’s view on all things weird to get a whole lot weirder.
This new quest leads Alec, Cronin, and their band of friends to Paris, Rome, and Moscow, where they learn that gargoyles aren’t simply statues on walls. In the underground pits beneath churches all over the world, Alec discovers the Key’s true destiny. Facing the Zoan might take every talent he has. And he may need help from the dead to get them all out alive.
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The Weight Of It All
After being dumped by his long-term boyfriend for being overweight, Henry Beckett decides to make some drastic changes. In a vain attempt at getting his boyfriend back, Henry does the most absurdly frightening thing he can think of.
He joins a gym.
Reed Henske is a personal trainer who isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to date again. He’s sick of guys who are only interested in the perfect body image, never seeing him for who he really is.
As Reed tortures Henry with things like diet and exercise, Henry enamours Reed with recipes and laughter. As the friendship lines start to blur, Henry is convinced there’s no way Thor-like Reed could ever be interested in a guy like him.
Reed just has to convince Henry that life isn’t about reaching your ideal bodyweight. It’s about finding your perfect counterweight.
Reed clapped his huge hand on my back. “How was that?”
I held my hand up, still too out of breath to speak. So I nodded instead and managed a few one-syllable words. “Not. Good. Exer. Cise. Bad.”
He laughed again. “You pushed through it. You did really well.”
I nodded and wiped my face down with my towel. “Yeah. That was great,” I managed to say. “Thanks. See you tomorrow?”
Reed fought a smile. “Uh, that was just your warm up.”
God help me. “Well,” I panted. “Consider me sufficiently warmed up. Overly warmed, actually. Hot, if I’m being honest. I think I’m going to expire. As in, drop dead.” I walked, somewhat shakily, over to the closest weight bench and sat on it. My heart was still trying to kill me. My lungs felt like they were fighting for room in my chest.
Reed clapped his huge hand on my shoulder. He was really rather touchy-feely. “Come on, on your feet. You’ve got more in you yet.”
I put my hand up, still trying to catch my breath. “One sec. My lungs are broken.”
He snorted out a laugh. “Come on, get up.”
Somehow, I stood. Reed took me over to a StairMaster machine. “Oh, I’ve seen these in action before,” I said. “In Hugo’s House of Pain, except the guy was strapped on and he was naked and―” Reed’s eyes went wide. “―and that was a long time ago. I’m not into leather; it was just one night. Sorry, what were you saying?”
Reed slow-blinked then started to laugh. It took him a moment to stop laughing, not that I minded because the longer he laughed at me, the less time I was gonna be on that exercise machine.
Still smiling, he shook his head. “Okay, step up on it for me.”
I did that.
“Hold onto the handles,” he said. I did that, and he continued to explain, “The elliptical is a cross-trainer. You will use lower body and upper body. It’s great for cardio, similar to the treadmill but with no impact.” He rattled off the physical benefits, to which I simply nodded and smiled―in a slightly horrified kind of way―then he went through the settings on screen and set it for two minutes. “Just a short one today. I just want you to get a feel for it. You ready?”
“Not at all.”He chuckled and hit start. Fuck. It was like climbing stairs while holding ski stocks or two Gandalf staffs. Thou shall not pass was too bloody right. I’d never make it in Middle Earth because two minutes on this frickin’ machine almost killed me. Fuck going to Mordor. I couldn’t even go around the block.
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Five little-known facts about N.R. Walker
- I love all things sci-fi! I’m a huge sci-fi geek.
- I was a bar manager in a nightclub for two years, then a publican for eight years – at 21 years old, I was one of the youngest females to hold a hotelier licence in Australia.
- I have a phobia of frogs.
- I have only ever broken two bones. My right patella and second littlest toe on my left foot.
- I grew up in regional Australia, and have had all kinds of pets from kangaroos, rabbits, ducks, pigs, horses, sheep. We had echidnas in our back gully and platypus in the river at the back of the property. No koalas though.
Note for non-Australians: A Publican is the owner or manager of a pub, per the Oxford English Dictionary. Info about an Echidna can be found here.
More about N.R. Walker:
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn't have it any other way.
She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don't let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.
She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things...but likes it even more when they fall in love.
She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.
She's been writing ever since...
Thanks for joining us this week. Come back next Thursday for more of Nic's books, how she started writing, and another chance to win one of her books.
Until then, happy reading!