Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Chat With Stephanie Draven || MIDNIGHT MEDUSA || Book Review

What if monsters of ancient myth are made, not born? And what if you find out that you’re one of them…

RENATA RUKAVINA is a budding new artist and a survivor of the Bosnian War. Is it her fault that when she sculpts war criminals, they die mysteriously in their jail cells? The coincidence attracts gallery visitors, but before Renata can enjoy her burgeoning fame, she is kidnapped.

When her abductor tries to convince her that he’s an immortal who inspires and feeds upon fear, Renata thinks he’s a madman. Even so, she soon finds that he’s powerfully attractive and the only man who understands her rage. But is it out of love that he forces Renata to face the fears of her past, or is he secretly the source of all her pain?

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Hi Stephanie, please tell us about yourself and your writing.

It’s my mission to write very smart books for very bad girls. So even though I write in several different romance sub-genres (paranormal, erotic, historical, and contemporary), I think everything I write has this in common!

What does your writing space look like?

My library/office is still undergoing a bit of a renovation, but recently my niece visited my house and said, “Aunt Stephanie, you have a lot of books.” And it’s true. When I sit down to write, I have an entire wall of bookshelves behind me!

Please tell us about your current work in progress.

I’m taking a little break from the paranormal and erotic romance to return to a lighter, contemporary story about two people who are totally unsuited to marriage, but who are pretending to be engaged. I love playing with the idea of people falling in love against their will--cynics turning into romantics.

Do you write with music going in the background? What are some of your favorite types/bands?

When I was writing the Mythica series, I was listening to a lot of Evanescence and Lifehouse. I even made a playlist!

What is your favorite book genre? Who are your favorite authors?

I’m very fond of erotic romance because I think it pushes the boundaries of the genre and often asks more daring questions about the nature of love than standard romances do. I’m a huge fan of Megan Hart’s. But I’m also sucked in to really good books of any genre. For example, I generally shy away from vampires, but I really enjoy Jeaniene Frost’s series!

Has anyone in particular been an influence on your writing?

I would have to say that my chaptermates in the Maryland Romance Writers have had a huge influence on me. I have made so many close friends in that group, and sometimes I think I would be lost without friends like Laura Kaye, Christi Barth, and Lea Nolan.


Damon stroked her curls as she slept, twining his fingers in her magnificent tangle of dark locks. It’d been a long time since he’d seen Renata last, longer still since he’d touched a mortal woman, even chastely, and now he couldn’t resist the silken sensation of her hair.
She was so beautiful; he couldn’t help but want her. From the elegant arch of her eyebrows to the Slavic plains of her face, she was perfect in every way. He hadn’t expected that. He’d been sure her powers would have made her ugly--at the very least, he’d been sure the explosion would have left her with hideous scars.
After all, he’d been there that day alongside the war gods, goading the warriors to fight. But war had changed greatly since the old days; modern warfare had surprised him. It was just as brutal, but colder, more efficient, and utterly inglorious. There were no more challenges between brave Hector and fierce Achilles. It was all war machines now.
The dishonor of modern warfare changed him--changed his very nature--perhaps even before that fateful chariot ride in Bosnia. He hadn’t known the soldiers would launch grenades at civilian homes. He hadn’t known that the terror he inspired would give excuse to explode the little girl’s house. He hadn’t known how these weapons could tear at the flesh and spray body parts across neatly tended gardens.
That day years ago, Renata had been playing in front of the house with a jump rope, and had turned away from the blast just in time. Still, the flames had lashed at her back, melting the dress from her body and throwing her to the ground. A hand landed beside her, severed and slimy with gore. It had been a child’s hand--her little brother’s hand--and seeing it, she’d screamed that terrible scream. Her scream had been so bottomless, he couldn’t even have gorged upon it if he’d wanted to.
He’d known then what she would become.

Review by Melissa Snark:

 MIDNIGHT MEDUSA is an exciting paranormal fantasy novella set in a contemporary world full of ancient gods. I really appreciated the author's attention to world building, especially how she managed to combine details of a modern armed conflict with elements of the Greek pantheon. The intersection between old and new is really interesting. I didn't entirely agree with the hero's nostalgic assessment of war in the past somehow being less heinous and more romantic than war of today. I believe that war has always been horrible and civilians have always become victims. That said, I could appreciate how a character with Damon's background and abilities would feel the way he does.

The heroine, Renata is a compelling character and I emphasized with all of the pain and horror she'd suffered as a child. She's a sympathetic figure and well portrayed as a victim of PTSD. I wanted to learn more about Renata and her special abilities, which were not thoroughly explored, probably due to the constraints of word count. Her character arc is definitely a positive and forward one. In contrast, I felt Damon was heavy handed and failed to respect the heroine's right to make her own decisions. The hero does come to see the error of his ways but I initially had a lot of trouble warming up to him. 

The charisma between the hero and heroine was good. I really wanted to see their bond developed to greater complexity. The emotional and psychological issues addressed were compelling and had the potential to carry the story much further than the novella format allowed. I'm sorry the story didn't go on for longer, exploring greater character and romantic development. 

MIDNIGHT MEDUSA is a great read for anyone looking for a paranormal novella with an original take on ancient Greek mythology. 

I won MIDNIGHT MEDUSA in a drawing and offered to review it.

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STEPHANIE DRAVEN is a national bestselling and award-winning author of historical, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Stephanie is currently a denizen of Baltimore, that city of ravens and purple night skies. She lives there with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you for visiting with me today. Your current WiP sounds like a lot of fun. Unwilling falling in love stories are some of my favorites, especially when they're RomCom. :-)