BOOK BLITZ: Prisoner (Criminals & Captives #1) by Annika Martin, Skye Warren

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He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.

But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.

And you might crave him more than your next breath.

“Sexy, dark, and thrilling. I loved every second of it!” ~ New York Times bestselling author Katie Reus

“Dark, sexy, and intense, Prisoner is an emotional ride that does not let go until the end. I loved it!” ~ USA Today bestselling author Kristen Callihan

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I back up until the truck stops me. I’m sweating, but the hot metal is almost a relief. Warmer and more human than the flesh-and-blood beast that looms in front of me.

But I have something to say too. Something true. And I want him to listen. “You might hurt me. You might touch me. But I will never, ever touch you. Not of my own free will.”

I’m shaking by the time I’m finished talking. Tears are threatening again, but I don’t care about them. They don’t make me weak. I know what real weakness is. I saw it inject itself with drugs and hook up with abusive men just to get its fix. I watched it die. That will never be me. Never.

He reaches up to cup my cheek—the side without the scrape. On purpose? I don’t know. He trails his thumb over my eyebrow and down my temple. Places he couldn’t touch when I had my glasses. Like he’s learning me, mapping my face. The inside of my chest feels bright and quivery, but I keep my frown.

“So I can touch you?” he asks gently. “But you won’t touch me back.”

My voice trembles. “I didn’t say that.”

“Didn’t you?” His hand trails lower, down my neck. Goose bumps rise all across my chest and over my arms despite the heat.

He caresses my skin right where my collarbone is, softly, with the back of his knuckles. I clench my fists at my sides, dreading what comes next. He’s going to keep moving lower, until he’s touching my breasts. And then what will I do? Cry? Scream? There’s no one to hear me. The guy from the truck has disappeared over the ridge.

I let my eyes close. “Stop.”

“You don’t want this.” His tone is conversational.

“I hate you.”

“What do you want, then?”

“I want you to die. I want to hurt you. I want you to let me go.”

He laughs softly, a puff of breath against my forehead. “In that order?”

My teeth clench together. “Take your pick.”

“You know what I think, Abby? I can call you that, right? It’s cute. Like you.” His hand curves to the side, feathering light touches along the cashmere of my sweater. He grips my hip as if we’re dancing. And we are dancing. It’s a sick song he plays.

“I think you want to fix me. That’s what you were doing at the prison. That’s what you’re doing now. But the thing is, Abby, it’s not going to work.”

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Annika Martin

Four reasons why I will never stop sending my characters to hotels.

 I just had this crazy realization today: almost all of my heroes and heroines in books by both my pen names have really intense scenes in hotels or motels. (Except my urban fantasy, but hey, the hero is trapped in a Mongolian Restaurant a lot of the time.)

 Sometimes when I realize I’m doing something a ton (like…er using the term “ragged breath”) I try to stop it. I don’t want to be a repetitive writer. But I don’t want to stop setting scenes in hotels and motels. I Love Them!!

 Why are hotel/motel scenes awesome in books?

 Hotels and motels rooms are blank slates.

Think about it—when you take a date to your home, all your stuff is there: books, chairs, pets. That picture of Aunt Mildred. The cookies you baked last week. A home is full of baggage, but a hotel is blank, and in a way, the whole world is shut out. The mood can be anything, and the focus is totally on the characters and how they are with each other.

 A hotel room: characters confined with each other and a bed.

I love a hotel scene because it’s usually just the hero, heroine kind of trapped together with a bed. It creates instant tension and excitement. Even when one goes off to take a shower, the other hears it (and is usually thinking about them naked in there—did you ever notice that?)

 A hotel room bed is almost like another character that you can’t ignore. In a car, there’s never the issue of sex in the air like there is in a hotel room. Because…hero, heroine, bed. (Unless you’re reading my kinky bank robbers books, then it’s three heroes and the heroine drinking champagne closed up in a luxury suite with a hot tub and a bed, but…same idea.)

 Hotels: a time out where the characters have to face each other.

My characters are usually in danger or up to something, but when they get to a hotel or motel, it’s downtime, and the attention goes off everything in the world but each other. I think PRISONER has the most intense motel scene; Skye and I really got into it—it’s where Grayson, our dark and troubled escaped convict, takes Abby, his college girl hostage, to this motel after a long, tense day of being on the run. It’s the first time they’ve been alone and not on the move. Grayson has these dark plans for Abby, but there is this powerful psychological back and forth between them, and they each give something up and get closer in a sort of twisted way.

 Hotels and motels: the edge of the forbidden.

Of course, hotels and especially motels have a kind of seedy, dirty edge. There’s the fact that people go to them to have sex a lot, but it’s not just about sex, but it is where people go to be anonymous or escape something. Also, the sort of everyday demands of life aren’t there—there are no dishes or bills or anything.  Dirty no demands of usual life.

Its where people go to not be known, or to be somebody else.

 How about you? Do you like seeing characters wind up in hotels? Or would you rather see them sent home?

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Carolyn Crane

How did you come up with the idea for this story?

In a lot of ways, this tale began with these two characters super-vivid that Skye and I created: this hot, dangerous felon with a dark past and this buttoned-up college girl who teaches a class at the prison.

 In a lot of ways, this story felt like it wrote itself from those characters as we breathlessly batted it back and forth, imagining this prison break and the way they’d get entangled.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

A lot of writers hate revising and love first drafts, but I’m the opposite – I am crazy about revising–I like to mold and change things in big ways once the words are there. But I write a sloooooow and grueling first draft, and I daydream a lot and change my mind a lot. It’s a total challenge! That was one really nice thing about writing in a team—knowing Skye was at the other end, expecting me to come up with something new and exciting every day was kind of nice. But getting those first words down is hard and slow for me.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

There are themes that writers return to over and over. One of my themes I return to, even when I’m not trying, is two super messed-up people finding love with each other, and being messed up together, and loving each other for their flaws (and not getting rid of them, because to me, flaws are what make people who they are!) So I guess my message is, even if you feel like you’re really screwed up, being really and truly yourself is beautiful and you deserve love.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?

This book is not based on real life or people I know, but in other books, I have actually based characters on people I know in real life. Usually by the time the book is finished, they have grown into their own personality and are completely different. Nobody ever recognizes themselves in my books, but there have been family members who have thought they were in one of my books when they totally weren’t. lol.

Why did you choose to write dark romance/dark NA romantic suspense stories?

An author friend of mine commented recently that she thinks the most interesting stuff happens in the gray areas, in the dark moments, and I agree. Dark subjects and especially issues of dubious consent and serious criminal behavior are things I would kind of run up to and run back from, or just avoid in previous books, but I have been loving just writing into them, like riding a ship into the storm and seeing what happens. It’s really exhilarating, and also, partnering with Skye on it has been great.

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One (1) ebook copy of On the Way Home by Skye Warren AN one (1) ebook copy of The Kinky Bank Robbers boxed set by Annika Martin (both to the same winner).

Open internationally.

Giveaway

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Annika: I’m a NYT bestselling author living a stone’s throw away from the Mississippi with my awesome husband and two cats in a home full of plants, sunshine and books. I’m heavy into writing love stories about criminals–some of them are dirty and fun (my Kinky bank robbers!) others are dark and intense (Prisoner!)
I also write gritty romantic suspense as the RITA-award winning author Carolyn Crane.
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Skye: Skye Warren is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of dark romantic fiction. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely tender. For those new to her work, consider the bestseller Wanderlust or Don’t Let Go.
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