Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest Author -- Monica Burns

An award-winning author of erotic romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough. Her latest release, Assassin's Honor, is the first in an exciting new series (check out Andrea's review here) and releases June 1st! Please welcome Monica back to The Romance Dish!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had reviewers comment on the fact that Assassin’s Honor is unusual in that its characters aren’t immortal. This observation has thrown me for a loop in some respects because it never occurred to me to make my characters immortal.

When I developed my Order of the Sicari series, I fell back on what I know, history, telekinesis, psychic abilities, past lives, my family heritage, and my love of different types of sci-fi, martial arts (read swords), and action adventure in films, TV and books. All of these different influences played a major role in my creation of the Sicari and their enemy the Praetorians. Interestingly enough all of these influences have mortal beings facing difficult situations that put them at risk in the overall scheme of things. Thus, when I was creating my heroes/heroines and villains, it just never occurred to me that they should be anything other than mortals with abilities that are firmly rooted in our psyches.

Truth be told, I just wanted to write a good story. I’m a story teller first and foremost. I like to make my books romantic, sexy, fun, exciting, and risky. Maybe that’s why reviewers have commented on Assassin’s Honor and the mortality risk of the characters. I’d not thought of it that way. In fact, I wanted the characters to be as realistic as possible with just the primary difference being they had a special ability, much in the way that everyone has a special ability.

Whether someone is a gifted musician, writer, artist, politician, teacher or whatever career you name, each individual has a talent that sets them apart from other people. That’s what I wanted for my Sicari. No one Sicari is the same, their level of ability varies from person to the next. Even the Sicari Lords who are introduced in the Sept release, Assassin’s Heart, have variances in their abilities and life span. I don’t know about other authors, but I often find myself stumbling my way through a book or now a series.

Essentially, I’m a fly by the seat of my pants writer. Like my readers, I discover new things about my characters and their world as I write. It’s not all planned out. I have a vision, but not a firm, cut and dried plan. It makes it scary and yet exciting in the same breath. Of course, the sex isn’t bad either. LOL

When I think about the mortality of my characters, I know something others will learn in the second book, Assassin’s Heart. Everyone is actually immortal. That’s a belief structure of mine that found its way into the books. In fact, there are a number of beliefs that are the underlying foundation of the series. It’s what I love the most about this series. It’s not just the universal theme of romance, empowerment, and love conquers all.

The series has a broader scope to it. It’s about men and women striving to overcome persecution, protecting the innocent and fighting for what’s good. It’s about good and evil, and the battle that accompanies those two polar opposites. And I’m not sure I could have shown that dynamic if I hadn’t made my characters mortal. Maybe people are right. Maybe the fact that the characters are mortals with special abilities raises the stakes more. That’s something I’ll have to think on a little more as I start the next book in the next few days.

So what do you think about mortals in a paranormal series? Does it raise the stakes? What if a secondary character you like gets killed off? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Assassin's Honor!

Drawing Rules: Drawing is open to residents in US and other countries. Void where prohibited. Shipping/handling fees for shipment of book outside the US is responsibility of winner. International winners may pay the required postage via PayPal. To ensure as many readers as possible have a chance to win a copy of the book, Monica awards only one book per reader, per household.


Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns

Archeologist Emma Zale sees the past when she touches ancient relics. It’s how she uncovered evidence of an ancient order of assassins—the Sicari. When a sinfully dark stranger shows up on her Chicago doorstep demanding an ancient artifact she doesn’t have, he drags her into a world where telekinesis and empaths are the norm. Now someone wants her dead, and her only hope of survival is an assassin who’s every bit as dangerous to her body as he is to her heart.

Ares DeLuca comes from an ancient Roman bloodline of telekinetic assassins. A Sicari, he’s honor bound to kill only in the name of justice. But when the woman he loved was murdered, Ares broke the Sicari code and used his sword for revenge. Love cost him dearly once before, and he’s not willing to pay the price again. At least not until hot, sweet, delectable Emma walked into his life. Not only does she hold the key to a valuable Sicari relic, she might just hold the key to his heart.


  1. Saying EARLY good morning, but I'll be back around 9-10am I'm off today, and have been goofy off, when I'm supposed to be working on stuff. *sigh*

  2. Hey, Monica, so happy to see you here with the great Dishy girls! New book sounds fantastic! Congratulations!

  3. Hey love! How's my fav down under author!! Congrats on YOUR new release, and a TOP PICK from RT no less!! WTG!! Your book is there, waiting for me. Just waiting for a few elusive moments of silence and undisturbed peace!

  4. Hey Monica!!! It is so great to have you with us today talking about Assassin's Honor. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book, and Andrea's review sealed the deal for me. Gotta get it!!

    Personally, I love mortals in paranormals. Somehow they make the entire paranormal story real to me.

    Wishing you lots of success with this series, though I'm sure you don't need it ;-)

  5. Hi Monica! Great to have you with us today! Congratulations on the release of Assassin's Honor. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    I don't mind mortals in a paranormal romance. In fact, I prefer it if they are mortal. It increases the intensity of the story for me when there's a possibility of death. Do I like it when a favorite secondary character dies? No! I want all my favorites to live happily ever after. Having said that, however, I do understand that keeping everyone alive isn't always feasible and if I'm aware of the possibility going into a story then I can deal.

  6. Good morning and welcome, Monica! We are so glad to have you dishing with us today. Congrats on your new release! As you know, I loved it and am looking forward to the next one. :)

    We will see Ares in the next book, right? *pretty please*

    I'm with Buffie and PJ....I love mortals in paranormals. It makes it easier for me to identify with them. And of course I don't like when a likable secondary character gets killed off, but I'm more understanding if it fits the story.

  7. Good morning, Anna, Buffie, and PJ! Did I mention how yummy Ares is?! Seriously.

  8. Hi Monica!!! To answer the question...even though they are paranormals, I think having the hero and heroine mortal adds a bit of reality to the story...and excitement that death might be a possibility.

    I think having a secondary character die would be traumatic, but understandable as they all can't be kept alive. I think it would add to the suspense of the story too.

    Anxious to read one of your books!!!

  9. Monica, this sounds really cool! In a hot kind of way. *g* I love stories involving archaeology.

    As for mortals in a paranormal, whether that raises the stakes, for me, is whether there also are IMmortals. If not, then everyone is equally at risk. If so, then the risk is greater for the mortal. I tend to like action in general, though, so the books I read often have lives on the line.

  10. Hey, Monica! I'm dying to read this book, and after reading Andrea's review, I'm even more anxious. :-)

    I'm so okay with having mortals in paranormals. It definitely ramps up the excitement and tension level--it's all good, baby!

    Not so crazy about a favorite secondary character being killed off, but sometimes it happens, like it or not.

  11. Hi Kara! Thanks for stopping by. Like you, I hate to see any character die (Except villains. I find I can be quite bloodthirsty when it comes to villains) but I understand that it's sometimes necessary to the story.

  12. Hi Nancy! I'm with you on the stories that have mortals and immortals. Probably one of the reasons I loved Highlander so much. Well...that and Adrian Paul. *grin*

  13. Probably one of the reasons I loved Highlander so much. Well...that and Adrian Paul. *grin*

    AMEN!!! :-D

  14. Hi, Monica. I don't usually read paranormals for the most part, but your book sounds really good. In the few paranormals that I've read, I do like mortals in the story.

    I love the last sentence of the book's blurb..."She might just hold the key to his heart." Ooh, an Alpha male who realizes true love. :)


    I just woke up a few minutes ago, winced as I strolled back into my office. It looks like a whirlwind hit it. I'm preparing for my trip to Lori Fosters Reader GetTogether, and ...well, let just say I must have been half asleep last night because I didn't finish anything, I just left everything in half stages of completion.Oy! But I'll be in and out all day to answer every post.

    Buffie, I'm glad the book captured your attention. I really don't think I could have written the book any differently. It just seemed the thing to do. And thank you for your well wishes. I'm certain I can use all the help I can get!

    PJ, I'm known for good secondary characters that lots of people want to see have their own story. But in a series like this, people do have to die. HOWEVER, I can't ever see me killing off a character who got a HEA in one book and ending up getting killed down the line. I just doesn't seem fair to the reader. But I don't make promises on secondary characters, and I always want to do what's best for the story.

    Andrea, thank you again for a lovely review. Secondary characters are always expendable in my mind because they're there to support the HEA of the main characters.Although there are some who show up and don't reappear for a couple of books. Every character serves a purpose.

    And yes, Ares and Emma appear in the next book, but in limited form. Assassin's Heart is ALL about Lysander and Phaedra. Their journey crosses centuries and then there's the sub plot of Atia and Marcus. But I think I've said enough on that. Don't want to give too much away. *grin*

    Kara, thanks for dropping in. Death is inevitable for all of us, but I think in the books, I'm able to show that death really isn't the end. Assassin's Heart shows that.

    Nancy, I love archaeology too, although I don't have the patience for it. Thirty years working on one site and discovering only bits and pieces that you have to put together over the years would drive me crazy. And if you're looking for action. Assassin's Honor has plenty of that. It's got an Indiana Jones flair to it, but with Indy and Marian being the bigger picture of the book, and Ares DOES NOT fall asleep. *grin*

    Gannon, You don't have to wait too long for the book. It's out next Tue and I think it might even be on shelves in the next couple of days. I just received my books, and the label said NEW RELEASE, OPEN IMMEDIATELY. *grin*

    Ohhh, I LOVE, ADORE Adrian Paul in the Highlander. That show was a minor influence on me. I'm a HUGE, DIE HARD fan of Xena warrior Princess. She's kickbutt heroine who can stand up to the guys. In fact, Kevin Smith who played Ares on the TV show was the visual inspiration for my Ares. I had Kevin's picture tacked to m y computer monitor the whole time.

    Deb, I think this paranormal will be a bit different from some of the others you may have read. Think Indiana Jones, National Treasure and DaVinci Code with a good romance and its HEA

    And Ares is a great character. I love the sacrifices he's willing to make for Emma.

  16. Oh, and I almost forgot!! If you're unsure of whether or not the book will appeal to you, you can read the first three chapters at my website.

  17. And for those interested in archeology, I subscribe an an Archeology Update that has lots of fun information in it. You can subscribe to it free at

  18. Monica, after your description of Indiana Jones and National Treasure, I'm really ready to get this book! Sounds great!

  19. I'm glad I might have persuaded you to give me a try, Deb. *grin*

  20. First I want to congratulate Monica on the release of Assassin's Honor- the cover is simply delish!

    As to the question about mortals in a paranormal series- I like it because it gives the reader a chance to imagine themselves in the story and also highlights how the paranormal and mortals can get along, if they choose. As to whether or not I get upset when a secondary character I like gets killed off- yes I do get upset but I also understand that sometimes it's really necessary for the story.

  21. I like having mortals mixed with immortals in paranormals. It sort of ups the stakes. I trust the author's vision for what happens to characters--live or die. Thanks for visiting, Monica. I look forward to reading "Assassin's Honor."

  22. Hi Monica!
    Congrats on your new release. ^^

    To me it's all about how mortals are written in the paranormals that depends on my opinion of them. If they're there to serve a purpose or to be the hero or heroine then i love them. (As long as they have a brain, not some clumsy idiot, and can take care of themselves). It makes the contrast of the paranormal abilities more interesting. Especially when they go head to head.

    {What if a secondary character you like gets killed off}
    It really depends on how much i liked the character and how they died. Like when J.K Rowling killed off Sirius Black by falling through a tapestry; i was pissed and mourned for a week. Sirius deserved a hero's death and he was one of my favorite HP characters. Or even worse "Remus Lupin dead on the ground". A character i loved till JK gave him a personality overhaul in the 6th and 7th book. Such a horrid horrid death. We never even knew how he died. He was just dead on the ground. That death really bothered me. Now when Fred Weasly died i didn't really mind it that much. He got a hero's death and it was beautifully written. Like i said earlier, it's all about how and why they died that makes me like a book or not.


  23. Hi Monica- I've been seeing a lot of things about your new book and I WANT it! :D I love the premise - and as for mortals in a paranormal? I think it raises the stakes, yes.
    If a secondary character I really like gets killed... wow difficult question. I think I'd be ok with it if it made sense, and was for a really good reason. (I mean, I do read romances because they're happy...)
    Congratulations on the new book!

  24. Maria, thanks for the congrats, and I think the cover is awesomer than awesome! LOL

    I don't like killing off characters unless they're villains, but even then I hate to do it because they're so deliciously evil. It's cathartic. I get to do things in a book I can't do in real life! LOL

    But killing off a character that's served a strong supporting role MUST serve a purpose to the overall story, not just a sacrifice.

    LSUReader, Mortals in paranormals does up the ante doesn't. It's readers that pointed it out to me with this series. I just went with instinct, and now I'm being enlightened. I love it!

    Jedisakora I think you make some wonderful points. As a lover of all things paranormals or sci-fi or mythological. I love the risk factor in it all.

    Limecello I think most readers would agree that killing off a 2ndary character HAS to make sense and be worth something. Thanks on the congrats, glad you're excited about the book.

  25. Hey, thanks, Monica! The RT review was wonderful to get! I've been quoting madly, as one does ;-)

  26. Welcome to the blog, Kara! If you're anxious to read one of Monica's books, this is a good one to start with!

    *waving* Hi, Nancy! I enjoy reading about archeology, too. And watching the History Channel!

    Gannon, you would LOVE this book. ;-)

  27. Deb said: I love the last sentence of the book's blurb..."She might just hold the key to his heart." Ooh, an Alpha male who realizes true love. :)

    Deb, I'm telling you...Ares is to die for! Love him.

  28. Monica Burns said: I love the last sentence of the book's blurb..."She might just hold the key to his heart." Ooh, an Alpha male who realizes true love. :)

    Woohoo!!! Can't wait! Thanks, Monica!

  29. Maria said: ...the cover is simply delish!

    I will second that! BOTH covers are yummy! Kudos to the art department. *g* Thanks for stopping by, Maria!

  30. Hey Monica, hey everyone! So excited for Assassin's Honor!

    To answer the question: sometimes I'm wary of mortals in paranormal series. For some of the paranormals I've read, their personalities usually are a lot more dull and timid. While I agree that mortals do in fact raise the stakes, I want the mortals--if they're playing an integral role in the storyline--to be a bit more spunky. I'm tired of reading about them cowering in fear, even if I do understand where that fear emanates from. So basically, it really just depends on the personality of the mortal. I'm 50/50 when it comes to them being part of the "cast" of characters.

    Likewise, I'm 50/50 in regards to secondary characters dying. If I've grown attached to them, I'll be upset and, if the scene is moving enough, the author can probably get me to cry. However, if the character was kind of dull and boring and didn't affect me in any way, I won't usually care. In some cases, I'll even be happy he/she got killed off.

    I'm such an evil reader.

  31. Enjoy it, LSUReader and limecello!

    Melissa, I was so sad when Sirius, Remus, and Fred died...though, like you, I felt better about how Fred died.

  32. Hey, Tori! Welcome to the blog! LOL, about you being an evil reader. I like your way of thinking about dull vs. spunky characters. Very well said!

  33. Tori, glad Assassin's Honor has caught your attention. Well, I don't think my characters are wimps, but that's for readers to judge. I'm about telling a good story. Depending on the character it will affect readers differently.

    Thanks for posting!

  34. Andrea- I was bawling when Sirius Black died. Oh my goodness, that was a depressing day.

    Also, I know that the dull/spunky applies to paranormal characters also, but I just feel like a lot of the mortals in these sorts of books have a bigger potential of being on the dull side of the spectrum... in comparison, I suppose, to their undead/furry/witchy counterparts.

    Monica- Oh I wasn't talking about YOUR novel. I just meant a lot paranormal romances I've reviewed on my blog have mortal heroines who are wimpy/a huge let down in some ways. Mortals or not, I'm super excited for Assassin's Honor :)

  35. Tori, the inet is a wonderful thing, but it does have limited communication issues doesn't it. LOL

    I didn't think you suggesting anything. *smile* No sweat.

  36. Thanks for visiting with us today, Monica. Good luck with Assassin's Honor!

  37. Having mortals in a paranormal series raises the stakes and makes things more interesting. The mortal is usually at a disadvantage and needs to be protected or taught to survive.
    Killing off a well liked secondary character isn't something I like, but sometimes it is right for the story. We have an emotional investment in that character and if you kill them off, you'd better have a really good reason.

  38. I love paranormal books that aren't all about vamps. So, having mortal heros and heroines are fine by me!
    As far as secondary characters are concerned, having them die sometimes brings realism into the story, so I don't mind.

  39. How did I miss this? Monica, you're everywhere!

  40. librarypat - the interesting thing about my mortals in the Order of the Sicari series is that I gave the villains similar powers so it balances out the odds between the two enemies.

    LilMiss Molly - having mortals is something that just happened. It didn't occur to me to write them as immortal.

    Becke - I'm still spinning not sure where I am. I won't slow down until Thu when I head for Cincy