Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mistress Jaye Hijacks A Tasty Read…

 Today I’m taking you into A Tasty Read’s darker side, the side that loves a good paranormal with dark themes, adventure, and of course, hot, hot sex. Are you ready? Well if you are, read on…

Assassin's Honor
Order of the Sicari #1
Monica Burns
Released June 1st, 2010
342 Pages
Source: Reviewer Purchased
Reviewed by: Jaye Shields

Confession #1: I’m a suck for a paranormal or an urban fantasy, so when the title has the word Assassin, the book grabs me by the bra strap and doesn’t let go.

Assassin’s Honor, an Order of the Sicari novel, by Monica Burns, had me at hello. Or should I say, Burns had me at a woman running for her life in the first couple pages of the novel. And not the kind of frantic chase that the heroine eventually realizes was nothing, we’re talking full-on drama. Enter dark hero, is he a sexy villain with a wicked sword, or is he her smoldering knight in shining armor? Well, let’s just say you find out how smoldering in the first couple chapters.

Confession #2: Since I’m a sucker for archaeology, she pretty much had me at “ancient tomb” in the second sentence.

I couldn’t get enough of the ancient conspiracies embedded in the archaeology in the beginning of the book. Our heroine, Emma Zale, is a master archaeologist, but she soon realizes, that the ancient myths are very real. Real enough that she finds herself in the middle of a war between two brands of ancient warriors. Pepper in the fact that Emma gets visions when she touched artifacts, and we’ve got an incredible adventure with danger and historical intrigue.

Evidence #1: Our hero, Ares DeLuca is descended from a group of ancient warriors known as the Sicari. Their mission is justice, divvied out on their own violent terms. Ares is brutal in his quest for justice and vengeance, but he’s equally devoted to keeping Emma safe…and pleasured. *sigh* I heart Ares.

I’m not going to say anything else, because Burns does a great job keeping readers in suspense throughout the novel. I read all 342 pages in one day. That’s how “unputdownable” it is.

Parting words: Readers will love both Emma and Ares, and love them even more together!

Caution!!! Love scenes will have you squealing, so make sure you read them alone. Burns mixes both hot and heartfelt with ease.

I’m already dying for the next book in the Sicari series. As a matter of fact, I’m ordering it the minute I finish typing. After you read Assassin’s Honor, you too will be sucked in by the courageous, endearing characters featured in the follow up novel.

And now…drum roll please…Monica Burns in her own words!

Jaye Shields: Okay, so I'll keep it short and sweet since your a busy woman. P.S. I am sooo excited for Lysander's book! *excitedly claps hands together for Assassin’s Heart*

Monica Burns: I'm glad you're excited about Lysander. He's got to be my favorite heroes of all I've ever written.

Jaye: From what I know of the Sicari historically, their work as assassins went hand-in-hand with religion. You took the Sicari Assassins in a whole new direction, which I loved!

Monica: The interesting thing about the Sicari is that it's a Latin word that means assassin. The info on the web makes it sound like they were a particular sect or group of people. They weren't really; they just did work for anyone willing to pay them. :lol: I used that feature as a way to make my heroes have a "race." They took on the name Sicari because the Praetorian's (originally from the Praetorian Guard that protected the Caesars) forced them into become assassins.

Jaye: I’d love to know what inspired you to create this new brand of smoldering, psychically-gifted Sicari.

Monica: I got the idea for the series when I was watching Ciaran Hinds playing Caesar in ROME the HBO mini-series. While watching, the DH hollered at me from downstairs. I looked for the remote to pause the DVD. It was on my desk, which meant I had to get up. I'm lazy and thought if only I was telekinetic. I looked at the screen and James Purefoy as Marc Antony and I had the series.

Jaye: You’re love scenes are absolutely steamy in the best way. So I have to ask, when you’re writing love scenes, do you often listen to a particular type of music? Do you write in the dark? I’d love to know what kind of ambiance helps give birth to such sinfully beautiful sexy-time.

Monica: I don't have any particular modus operandi for when I write sex scenes. Sometimes I listen to music. Other times, I write in silence. The truth is I HATE writing sex/love scenes. They're exhausting to write. They have so much emotion in them so that they don't go stale and read like a been there, read that type of scene. Sometimes their easy. What I find easy to write is the foreplay. That's the easiest, sexiest thing to me.

Jaye: Foreplay! Yes, gotta love it! Thank you so much, Monica, for stopping by and giving this fan some insight into a really, really great book. I’m already stoked about Assassin’s Heart and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Jaye: Monica, you mentioned that Assassin’s Heart is your favorite in the series. I’m already dying to get my hands on that one because Lysander and Ares’ sister Phae stole my heart! What aspects of Assassin’s Heart make it your favorite. Besides sexy tormented Lysander I mean…

Monica: The action and the past life story intertwined with the present day story. I loved Cassiopeia and Maximus so much, and seeing them live again in Lysander and Phae was wonderful. Below is my favorite scene in the entire book in everything I've ever written. It's an action scene from ancient Rome where Cassiopeia and Maximus 's story takes place. The battle really happened, but the villian and heroes in the book are fictional. However, when I wrote this, I was there. I think it's why I love it so...I feel like I'm really with Maximus

October 28th, 312 A.D.
Tiber River, Italy
The screams of dying men filled his ears as Maximus wheeled his horse about on its haunches and raced along the rear line of the Praetorians he commanded. His men were being slaughtered, and with their backs to the Tiber River, there were few options to choose from when it came to saving them.          
Damn Maxentius to Tartarus for destroying the Pontis Milvian. He’d told the bastardo they’d need the bridge if something went wrong. But the incompetent fool had been so confident of a victory he’d refused to listen. The Emperor had ordered the stone bridge destroyed and next to the remains, he’d built a flimsy wooden structure that was unlikely to hold up under the weight of the men, let along the ration wagons.
As Maximus raced toward the nearest cohort, an image of Cass filled his head. Jupiter’s Stone, she was going to be a widow despite his promises to her. No. He wasn’t ready to give up that easily. He wasn’t going to leave Cass or Demetri to the likes of that treacherous fuck, Octavian. He tugged on the reins and the animal carrying him slid to a halt at the rear of the first company in the cohort.
“Retreat,” he shouted as his Prefect turned toward him. A split-second later, the man sank to his knees with an arrow jutting out of his throat. The soft whistle accompanying the deadly shaft said there was more on the way. Cak.
“Testudo. Now.”
The minute he roared the command, the men threw up their shields and moved quickly into formation, their armor creating a tortoise-like shell to protect them. The whistling sound grew louder, and Maximus growled with anger at the arrows flying towards his men. Just before the projectiles reached him, he threw up an invisible shield to block the arrows from touching him or his horse. In front of him, several missiles found targets through cracks in turtle-like formation, filling the air with more screams of pain, but most of the men had survived.
“Where’s the Centurion?” The din of the ongoing battle was so loud Maximus wasn’t sure any of the men had heard his shout. A soldier pushed his way out of the small company to slam a fist against his chest before flinging his arm outward in a salute.
“The Centurion is dead, Legatus.”
“Not any more he’s not. You’re promoted to the rank of Centurion,” Maximus roared. “Now get these men down to the riverbank and get across the Tiber the best way you can. Regroup at the Porta Flaminia.”
Maximus didn’t wait for the man to answer as he urged his horse forward to the next small company. At each group of soldiers, he ordered retreat. The air was thick with dust and smoke the closer he got to the bridge. Constantine had closed the gap between his army and Maxentius’s Second Legion, positioning catapults within striking distance of the front line.
Flaming missiles from the massive weapons sent men scattering like roaches exposed to light as the deadly balls of fire fell from the sky. With the line broken, it was impossible to hold off the advancing army. The fighting had not yet reached the river, and Maximus saw two of his Tribunes directing the retreat across the makeshift structure that barely passed for a bridge.
Men staggered their way across the less than sturdy planks, while horses, some with riders, swam against the strong current in their effort to reach the opposite shore. Carefully, Maximus negotiated his way through the carnage to where his Tribunes were shouting orders in first one direction and then another. Quinton was the first to see him.
“Fuck, what are you still doing here! You said you were going to cross more than an hour ago.”
“I was detained. How many have crossed?”Maximus snarled.
“Two cohorts.”
“Two,” he exclaimed as his gut twisted. Less than a thousand men out of almost fifty.
“Maximus , you must cross the river now. The Praetorian Guard won’t follow anyone but you. And you need to ensure the Tyet of Isis doesn’t fall into Octavian’s traitorous hands.”
“The Emperor is dead,” Quinton shouted, his horse rearing up as a ball of fire hit the ground near the bridge. “The battle is lost. You must go now. Crispian and I shall meet you at the Porta Flaminia as planned.”
He hesitated and looked over his shoulder at the chaos behind him. The cohorts he’d ordered to fall back and cross the river were doing just as he’d instructed. But in all the chaos that reigned, Maximus doubted many of them would survive the crossing. With a sharp nod at the Tribune, he steered his horse down the riverbank and into the water. The Tyet of Isis was the last thing he was worried about at the moment. Praise the gods he’d convinced Maxentius to let him hide the precious box. At least it was safe for the moment.
Another fireball shot through the air to land directly on the rickety bridge. The sickly smell of burning flesh and death clung to him like sweat. Steeling himself to look back in Quinton’s direction, he saw his young Tribune’s horse without its rider. He started to go back, when another fireball landed directly on top of the animal.
Too late to help his friend. The only thing Maximus could do was reach the south bank and retreat to the Porta Flaminia. From there he’d be able to take stock of what was left of Maxentius’s army and what sort of terms he could secure for the men. Shrieks of agony and terror filled the air as he urged his stallion into deeper water. All around him, men struggled to swim their way to the opposite shore amidst a growing number of bodies in the water.
Although tired, Maximus's large horse carried him safely to the south bank of the river. Here the chaos was muted. Whether out of years of habit or orders, the men who’d survived the crossing had fallen into rows of four men across as they trudged their way along the Via Flaminia back to Rome.
The road that led to Cass and Demetri. They were his sanctuary from all this death and destruction. Vesta help him if anything happened to either of them. A shout off to his left made him turn his head, and he saw Crispian riding toward him. The man saluted as he pulled his horse to a halt then grasped his arm in greeting.
“Praise the gods you’re still alive. When I saw Quinton fall, I was certain you had joined him in the Elysium Fields.”
“I am apparently harder to kill than most.” They were words he’d repeated to Cass time and again, but this would be the last time he intended to say them to her.
This was his last battle. He was through. It wasn’t just the defeat they’d suffered here, it was the unnecessary carnage.

Alrighty folks, that’s it. Go forth and grab Assassin’s Honor by Monica Burns. You won’t be disappointed. And if you don’t have time to read it just yet, buy it, display it on your bookshelf, and drool at the handsome half-naked man on the front.
Until Next Time,
Jaye Shields

About Jaye
Jaye holds a degree in Anthropology from San Fransisco State University with an emphasis in archaeology. Her previous accolades include being a bass player for grunge band, the Hymens, being mistaken for Britney Spears while in Tokyo, and commercial model for Volkswagen and Hyundai. By the way, she insists the commercial still counts even though her lines were cut. Now days she spends her time writing sensual paranormal romance and urban fantasy.


D'Ann said...

Have you read Pleasure Me? It's my fave of Monica's books.

Tina B said...

I love this series! It is definitely one of my favorite! Great interview! I hope that maybe someday we can have some more Sicari books. ;)

Angelia Almos/Angie Derek said...

Great review, Jen. Makes me want to go and read it right now.

Jen Shields said...

D'Ann, I haven't read Pleasure Me yet. That's on my list after the Order of the Sicari series. Gotta get me some Lysander first!

Tina, fingers crossed!

Angie, you must order, get your hands on it ASAP!

A Tasty Read said...

Thank You Mistress Jaye for the Kick-butt Review and Interview with Monica.

You can be a Guest Blogger ANYTIME!!

Monica Burns said...

Jaye, I'm so happy you enjoyed the book, and thanks for doing the mini-interview. Lots of fun.

And I know I will write another Sicari book in the future, it's just a matter of finding the time! Oy

jen shields said...

Thanks again, Monica!