The F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy/PNR/
Publisher: Devil on the Left Books
Date of Publication: 9/16/14
Number of pages: 296
Word Count: 90,000
Cover Artist: Jennifer Harlow
CLASSIFIED: A F.R.E.A.K.S. LOVE STORY
Telekinetic Special Agent Beatrice Alexander has fought a horde of zombies, psychotic vampires, even a troll. But now she faces her greatest challenge: love.
Fully recovered from her holiday from hell, Bea has returned to the F.R.E.A.K.S. with a mission, to gain the love of her werewolf team mate, Will Price.
Of course nothing is ever easy when it comes to love and war. And when the killing fields of a pack of murderous werewolves is discovered in the wilds of North Carolina, the situation goes from complicated to deadly.
Because though Bea always seems to get her man or beast in the end, this time she does not know if she will survive with her love intact. Or her life…
Available at Amazon
Watching the man you love suck face with a gorgeous woman is not the best way to start a birthday. Welcome to my world.
He sits at a back booth, lips and every other body part pressed against that succubus, appearing to love every second and caress, the rat bastard. And how can he not be? The evil slut queen of doom has everything I don’t. Long, straight hay-colored hair, big blue eyes, big breasts, long lean legs, tight body all encased in a skintight black dress clinging to her perfect curves that only a plastic surgeon could ever recreate on me. I’ve envied women like her all my life, and now that succubus has my future husband in her enticing clutches. Literally. An actual succubus is clutching his soft brown hair and kissing him as if her life depended on it. Which I guess it does—as she feeds off sexual energy to live—but still. Does he have to frigging enjoy the whole experience so much?
Howdy. The jealous, insecure, emotional wreck before you is Special Agent Beatrice Alexander of the covert branch of the FBI known to the underworld as the F.R.E.A.K.S. We fight the monsters under your bed: the vampires, the ghosts, and the soon to be decapitated succubi of the world. Those terrors in horror movies? Real. Trolls, zombies, even giant snakes. Killed them all so the citizens of America can go about their normal lives. Why am I so lucky? Because technically I’m one of them. I can move anything with my mind. It’s called tele or psychokinesis. I can carry in groceries or stop hearts without lifting a finger. And let me say doing the latter is mighty tempting right about now.
The man having his tonsils examined by the succubus is my teammate Special Agent Will Price. He’s technically a monster too, at least once a month. He’s a werewolf, not that I hold that against him. After all us freaks can’t help who or what we are. We’re actually a lot like everyone else. Though Will did literally eat my last boyfriend. The psycho was trying to kill me at the time, so I gave Will a pass on that. But this…
Will shifts in his seat to get closer to her. They haven’t broken apart in over forty-seven seconds. Forty-seven! He’s kissed her longer than he’s ever kissed me all three times combined. I don’t care that she’s more or less bewitched him. I don’t care that it’s all for a case. My hands ball into fists, fingers digging so deep in my own flesh it hurts. A cool hand touches mine. I look away from this nauseating PDA toward the hand’s owner. My friend, the delectable Oliver Montrose gazes at me, his gray eyes warning me not to put into action what I’ve been contemplating. Namely storming over there and cold cocking that female dog with the butt of my Glock. Though she so deserves it. In Virginia Beach alone she’s been linked to two deaths. Two young seamen were found naked and dead in their own beds of apparent heart attacks after going home from a club with a hot blonde. Who knows how many others she’s sucked dry over the years?
For those not in the monster killer business, a succubus is a woman who Hoovers up the life-force from her lovers, much like a vampire feeds off blood. Now, I don’t begrudge a life form getting whatever they need to live. I watch Animal Planet. Sometimes it’s kill or be killed. But a succubus doesn’t need to kill anymore than a vampire does. A little can go a long way. Some people are just evil. And right now evil has Will in a lip lock.
“Whatever course of action you are contemplating inside that beautiful head of yours, I suggest you forget it post haste,” my vampire friend warns. His hand remains heavy on mine, a reminder about restraint. We don’t want to blow our cover. While Will plays doctor, Oliver and I sit at the bar, just another couple enjoying the Virginia nightlife. A few stools down, Agents Rushmore and Wolfe, in their chic Ralph Lauren polo shirts and buzz cuts, nurse ginger ales, and keep their eyes locked on the same booth. Chandler is lucky enough to be out in the parking lot waiting for the signal to take her down. Darn you, innocent bystanders. Darn you.
Lord, I hate clubs. They’re loud, crowded, expensive, and filled with hormone crazed men and women with no sense of shame or decorum. I’ve lost count of how many strange crotches have rubbed up against my backside while “dancing.” I’d only been a handful of times before I joined the F.R.E.A.K.S., and now it seems as if I live in one. Why preternaturals feel so at home in these places is beyond me. I guess to them it’s nothing but a smorgasbord. Easy pickings. Everyone’s mind is so filled with sex and booze they forget basics like safety and common sense. And now Will has joined their ranks.
“I wasn’t contemplating anything,” I snap, downing my screwdriver. “I’m not bothered by them. Not a bit. It’s work. We’re working. Another drink, please! Now! Now!”
“That is not a wise idea, my dear.”
“Wise is so overrated,” I mutter.
I glance back at the couple. Still making out, still…oh, no she isn’t! Her graceful hand slides up Will’s thigh, resting on the bulge in his pants. At first she just traces the outline with her fingertip, and then rubs against him with her whole harlot hand. He doesn’t push it away.
Rage boils over. Involuntarily I leap up, every inch of me tense and ready to rip her shining hair out at the roots. Before I’m totally upright, a hand on my shoulder presses me back into my seat. “No.”
“No,” Oliver says as if I’m an ill-behaved dog.
Torture. This is nothing more than torture. This is worse than the time I was actually physically tortured. At least that ends. Bones heal. This will be seared into my brain for years to come. I could kill her, just pop a vein in her brain or squeeze her heart until it stops. But I reign in the homicidal part of my nature, instead gazing at my ridiculously handsome friend in an effort to calm me the frak down.
I don’t normally act like this. I’m a good, sane person. Or at least I was until I fell in love with a man who refuses to acknowledge he loves me back. He does. I mean, I’m eighty percent sure he does. The man all but said he did, and his kisses shouted it from the rooftops. He just won’t give in. Won’t let himself admit it because apparently I make him nuts. I cloud his judgment. Of course my worst offense is I give him hope. But to a control freak who watched his wife get eaten by a werewolf, these are apparently bad things. I’m in love with an idiot.
And absence did not make the heart grow fonder, at least in his case. Me, I was watching Beauty and the Beast with my goddaughter and burst into hysterical tears at the end when Belle saves the beast. Will has fared better in the past two months. I had to remain in San Diego longer than expected because of my elbow. I broke it while I ran from a crazed cop hopped up on troll blood. Long story. Ended with previously mentioned psycho ex-boyfriend being eaten by the current object of my affection. I needed surgery to repair the damage, then it healed wrong and I had a month and a half of physical therapy before I was cleared for duty. I got back two weeks ago. So I was stuck in San Diego with nothing to do but watch sappy movies and think about Will.
He returned only one of my ten phone calls, and then just asked after my health and family. I could tell he couldn’t wait to get off the phone. And since I’ve been back, well this is the longest he’s been in the same room with me. I walk in, he walks out. When we’re working, I’m either assigned to a different team or barely acknowledged. If he didn’t blush every time he looked at me, I’d be put off. But I’m no quitter. I love him, and per the songs, that can conquer all, including the neuroses of a bull-headed werewolf. I’m banking my heart on it.
“You must calm yourself,” Oliver orders. “You are acting as wretchedly as he usually does. If you recall, this was your plan.”
“Yeah, but you were supposed to be bait. Or one of the other guys. Not him.”
“A succubus feeds off living energy, which I am lacking and werewolves possess in abundance.”
“Yes, and thank you for pointing that out in the meeting. Why didn’t you just wrap him in a bow for her while you were at it? Whose side are you on, anyway?”
“The victims’,” he says. Fudge. Now I feel like a total jerk. “It is our job to keep predators off the street the quickest and safest way possible. And occasionally that requires sacrifice.” He glances back at Will, and Grin Number Two, with the tips of his fangs, forms. “Though I doubt William minds playing the martyr at this moment.”
I have to look again. Great, not only is she feeling him up, but he’s returning the favor, kneading her breast with his strong hand. Can she feel those rough calluses? Does she even care how he got them? Years of rowing on the Potomac River, that’s how. And yet she gets to second base with him before I do. “This is hell. I am in hell.”
“I do not know why you are distressing yourself over that man. I really do not. He has not showed you the slightest regard since your return. Or prior to that while you convalesced. He made his position abundantly clear.”
“You don’t understand,” I sigh. They pull apart for air, and she says something that makes him smile. He usually never smiles, except for me. She’s even stolen that from me.
“Understand what, Trixie?”
Will caresses her face and dives in for more. “Some things are worth fighting for. They make no rhyme or reason to anyone but you, but you just know. It’s outside logic, it’s outside reason, it’s just something you sense in your very core. And if you don’t listen to it, if you allow it to slip through your fingers, then you spend the rest of your life regretting it. You spend the rest of your life an empty shell. If that’s not worth a whole damn war, let alone a fight or two, I don’t know what is.”
Will moves his lips down the succubus’ neck, and I turn back to Oliver, who studies me with a mix of sadness and anger that takes away only a fraction of his exquisiteness. I can safely say he is the most physically handsome man I’ve ever seen. Pale skin, lush red lips, cleft chin, wavy shoulder length brown hair with blonde highlights, and straight nose all in perfect proportion. The impossible balance of masculine and feminine. The only other man who holds a candle to him in the looks department is the Lord of San Diego, and even Connor doesn’t come close to this level of perfection. Not outside and certainly not inside. No one does. “You are…” he touches my face with his ice cold fingertips, “such a fool.”
Did you always wanted to be a writer? When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I’ve always been a writer. I’ve been telling stories in some shape or form since I was a child, either through dolls or pen on paper. I never considered being an author until I was in high school and began writing screenplays. I was convinced I was the next Tarantino. When I couldn’t sell any (they were kind of crap) I moved onto books, really just to see if I could pull it off. I finished my first novel at age 21, then sent it out to agents and publishers half-heartedly. I couldn’t admit it needed a lot of work so of course they all rejected it. Still I kept on writing because darn it I just couldn’t help myself. Still can’t. Finally after about seven, eight years of editing and attending pitch sessions and sending out query letters, I got an agent. About a year after that I got a book deal. A writing career is like running a marathon up Mt. Everest: treacherous, painful, rocky, but worth it when you reach the top.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Feels like a million, billion years. I started my first book at nineteen, finished by twenty-one and that’s when I began looking for agents. I didn’t get one until age twenty-six, got a publishing deal at twenty-seven, and the book didn’t come out until twenty-eight. Almost ten years. Ten years of rejection, and going to conferences to pitch agents, and query letters. Natural stubbornness and tenacity spurned me along. It is not for the faint of heart. But at least now there’s self-publishing.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
It’s called, HIGH MOON. Let me try the 20 words thing…uh…telekinetic loves werewolf. Werewolf is afraid of love. Both investigate werewolf murders. Is happily ever after possible for F.R.E.A.K.S? Bacon. (I had one word left.)
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I do both. The F.R.E.A.K.S. series was originally published through a traditional publisher but when they dropped the series I just thank the gods self-publishing is around now. Both ways have their virtues and problems though.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Anywhere from ten years to one year. The majority of my books are all planned in my head, it’s just finding the time to put pen to paper.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Right now I’m working on the final installment of The Galilee Falls Trilogy, which should be out next year. I also have the third in the F.R.E.A.K.S. companion Midnight Magic series out in March.
What genre would you place your books into?
I would call the F.R.E.A.K.S. urban fantasy, but for this one I would definitely add the word “romance” to that. This one’s all about love, love, love.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I don’t know where it comes from but I’ve always been drawn to horror and the paranormal. My grandmother was worried I’d go over to the “dark side” but they’ve always fascinated me. I like horror because it’s so dramatic like riding a roller coaster. You get to touch that darkness, that danger, but it can’t touch you back or hurt you. The paranormal is the unexplained, and we fear what we don’t understand. Plus with the paranormal you get to have a little magic in your life, even if it’s only in a book. Lord knows we can all use that sometimes.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I have to say I adore writing Oliver, who can be found in this series. He’s just so easy to write not to mention fun.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I grew up amid chaos. Even at night there was always some noise in the house so I don’t do silence. I always listen to music when I write, so at my website www.jenniferharlowbooks.com I include the playlist of every book. They’re either songs I listened to when I was putting pen to paper or a song that just fits in with the theme. Music really does add more to the writing experience, much like a movie score. So check out the website, you may just find your new favorite song. But I can write anywhere, I do need music though. It’s the only requirement.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I was kind of a fraidy-cat, scaredy before. I avoided reading them because these are my babies. I put a lot into them. But one night I got bored and decided to grow a pair, and I read all the ones on Amazon and all I can say is…You like me! You really like me!
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
The title comes when writing the book. I start by calling it the main character’s name then usually a phrase will jump out and poof! There’s the title. You have to be flexible.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I have a general idea of what I want a character to be when I’m conceiving them but that can change in a heartbeat. I once began having the heroine in my steampunk series Lady Verity Hart an It girl, but when that proved dull I changed her to an outcast. Vivian from Werewolf Sings the Blues was an art major from a good home but once again I grew bored with that and changed her to a drug using mess. You have to be flexible.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I didn’t mean it to. I didn’t even realize it until I had finished my third FREAKS book that my main character Bea’s life trajectory was following my own, though mine is minus zombies and vampire. I wrote the first FREAKS book Mind Over Monsters while I was in college. Deep down I was scared to death to have to go out into the world and get a full time job, to grow up. So my subconscious, who is far smarter than my conscious that’s for sure, forced me to subject my main character to the worst job I could think of. Nothing Jennifer Harlow could face would ever measure up to being attacked by hordes of zombies. This trend continued, still unknown to me, into the second To Catch a Vampire. When I was writing it I was in the process of moving cross country. Alone. So poor Bea had to leave the safety of her new home with an unknown element, Oliver, to face new challenges and meet new people, vampires in this case. The third Death Takes A Holiday was about me coming back to my close family after I’d changed so much being on my own. Even High Moon is about a life lesson I’ve learned (can’t tell you what without giving too many spoilers though). I think maybe this is why so many people can identify with Bea and her adventures.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I still like the feel of a book in my hands. Since I’m a starving artist I get the majority of my books from the library but do on occasion try out a new author on my Kindle.
Your favorite food is?
Your favorite singer/group is?
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
Right now, Stan Lee.
Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator.
Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills.
She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, Midnight Magic Mystery series, The Galilee Falls Trilogy, and the steampunk romance Verity Hart Vs The Vampyres. For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at www.jenniferharlowbooks.com