Friday, July 31, 2015

Good Intentions by Pembroke Sinclair

Title: Good Intentions
Author: Pembroke Sinclair
Series: Road to Salvation #3
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Katie has been through Hell—literally—and discovered that it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. In fact, she kind of enjoyed it. She got to be with Josh, found out about her past, and discovered who she wanted to be as a person. Katie didn’t care that her actions went against social norms. She was happy.

But things are changing—again. Wes has come back into her life, and that can only mean trouble. His presence threatens to unravel her new-found happiness. She can’t allow that. She won’t let him back in. Yet, Katie can’t push him away.

Thrown back into a state of confusion and uncertainty, Katie is once again forced to pick sides, and in the process, she may lose herself.

     As Katie stared at Wes, her mind drifted back to an incident that occurred when they were sophomores. He’d had the same sad, disappointed look on his face. It had been during class, and Katie had to get a book she’d forgot out of her locker. The halls were empty, and she was walking quickly so she could get back in a reasonable amount of time. He was down the hall, sitting on the floor with his knees pulled up to his chest, his forehead resting against his knees, and his arms wrapped around his head. She hadn’t noticed him at first; she was focused on her mission. She noticed him only after she’d closed her locker and turned to head back to class. She hesitated. She really needed to get back to class, but she couldn’t leave him in a time of need. Her heart instantly went out to him, a frown covering her face. Class could wait. This was important. She knelt in front of him and touched his elbow lightly.
     “You okay?” she whispered.
     He lifted his head, and it became readily apparent that he’d been crying. Katie moved to embrace him. It was what he would have done to comfort her. He rolled away from her, springing to his feet.
     “I’m fine,” he snapped as he stomped down the hall.
     She plopped on the floor, staring after him and wondering what she had done wrong. Katie’s heart shattered into a million pieces. Tears stung her eyes, disbelief threatened to drop her jaw open. All she had wanted to do was help. Why hadn’t he let her?
     That incident pretty much summed up their entire relationship through the years. Wes was there only when it benefitted him, and it always seemed to be when Katie was at her weakest. She wasn’t going to let him do that again. She wasn’t weak anymore. She wasn’t surviving on his fleeting moments of attention. She didn’t need his pity. She didn’t need his judgment either. What it all boiled down to was she didn’t need him. The fear she’d felt being in his presence morphed into anger. She clenched her fists at her sides.
     “Whatever you’re going to do, get it over with,” she growled.
     Anger flashed through Wes’s red-rimmed eyes and he balled his fists. Katie stiffened. The last time they’d been on this mountain, they’d stopped being friends. There had been yelling, and she’d said things that she knew cut him to the bone—things about his mom—but she hadn’t been sorry then, and she definitely wasn’t sorry now. She was ready for what was going to happen next. If his behavior from the dinner her mom had decided to host without her consent was any indication, he would just yell at her and storm off. That was hardly any threat at all—except she needed him to get her home. Still, she wasn’t going to stand there and take his verbal abuse. He’d had plenty of opportunities to help her out and hadn’t. Besides, she’d made peace with her decisions. Who did Wes think he was coming back and trying to make her feel guilty? She wasn’t going to let him. What else could she say to anger him so he would send her home?
     In a heartbeat, the anger that had surged through him vanished. Tears formed in his eyes, his hands relaxed. He shook his head. Wow. That was new. How did he get over that so quickly? It wasn’t necessarily a good reaction. If he wasn’t angry, he wouldn’t send her home.
     “I don’t want to fight anymore, Katie.” His voice broke as he spoke. “It’s not getting us anywhere.”
     Katie stepped back and eyed him suspiciously. What was this? Was he trying to use reverse psychology on her? There was no way after she tried to kill him that he would be this nice. It was a trap. He was trying to get her to drop her defenses. But why? What was his plan? It didn’t matter. It wasn’t going to work. She was already vulnerable enough. She didn’t need to make things easier for him. But at the same time, she was curious. Why wasn’t he trying to kill her? That thought really bothered her. Why did she care? She hated Wes and all that he’d put her through. He’d abandoned her, broke her heart on numerous occasions, and brought demons into her life. Why didn’t she turn her back on him? She could stick her fingers in her ears and hum to drown out his voice. She should. He was the enemy now.
     “What do you want?” Her voice was low and laced with distrust.
     The words came out before she had a chance to decide if she actually wanted them to. But the old familiarity and comfort she felt in his presence drifted over her. The inexplicable draw she felt toward him overtook her. God! Not being able to control that impulse drove her crazy. She cursed herself mentally. Maybe she wasn’t as strong as she thought.
     Wes held his hands out to his sides to show he wasn’t a threat. “I just want to talk. That’s it.”
     Katie folded her arms across her chest. She didn’t want to hear what he had to say. More than likely, it would be the same speech about how Josh was evil and she needed to stay away from him. Katie huffed. It was the last thing she needed to hear from him. His argument would be hollow.
     “So talk,” she snarled.
     Crap! That wasn’t what she wanted to say. She gripped her biceps and squeezed to keep from lashing out. She wanted to tell him to stay gone and let her live her life, but that obviously wasn’t happening. She had to figure out a way to control and override the impulse that was drawn to the Divine.
     Wes took a step toward her, and she recoiled in fear and disgust. He sighed and dropped his hands to his sides. “I’m not going to hurt you, Katie.”
     “What guarantee do I have of that?”
     A pained look crossed his face. “Because it’s me.”
     Katie snorted. “That doesn’t fill me with confidence.”
     But in reality, it did. She’d known him for a long time. He was good at destroying her mentally and emotionally, but he’d never hurt her physically. Still, she wasn’t sure that was necessarily better. And she knew this interaction wasn’t going to leave her unscarred in some way.
     He pressed his lips together and stared at her hard. “No, I’m sure it doesn’t. Our past has been a bit rocky and troubled, hasn’t it?”
     Katie smirked. “You could say that.”
     “I’ve had some time to think and reflect on the choices I’ve made. I’ve been a terrible person in certain aspects of my life. I get that. No one is perfect. You don’t have to like me, and you don’t have to trust me, but at least hear what I have to say.”
     She didn’t want to. She wanted to scream at him to send her back, but the words lodged in her throat and she stood there waiting for him to continue. After several moments of silence, she snapped at him, “Well? It’s not like I’m going anywhere.” She stared at him intently. “You’ve made sure of that.” For crying out loud why was this happening like this?
     His eyes grew wide. “I had to, Katie. They have you under constant supervision. It was pure luck and a momentary lapse on their part that allowed me to grab you out of the bathroom.”
     She shuddered. It distressed her to think Wes had to kidnap her to talk to her. And that he was willing to do it. No doubt he thought what he had to say was important, but Katie didn’t care. She just wanted to be left alone. It didn’t surprise her that she was being watched. She’d seen the Hounds patrolling her neighborhood. Josh kept her in sight when he could. Obviously for a good reason: Wes had been biding his time and waiting to grab her. At first, Katie had assumed it was so he could kill her. And, technically, he still could. He could just be looking for his chance to gloat before ending her life. He had all the time in the world. He could toy with her for as long as he wanted. But she highly doubted that was his desire. Wes wasn’t threatening.
     What bothered her was the insinuation in his words that there were more things watching her than Josh and the Hounds. If this was his only chance to get to her, did that mean something was around when she slept and showered? And dear Lord, went to the bathroom? Did she have any privacy at all? That didn’t make her comfortable. It actually distressed her more than she could say.
     Fear entered her system again. She desperately wished she wasn’t in her current situation. Despite her unease at her apparent lack of privacy, she mentally cursed Josh and Hell for letting their guard down. Katie knew she wouldn’t have been in this situation if they had been successful in getting rid of Randy and Wes.      But it was unfair to blame the demons. She was the one who’d been tasked with getting rid of them, and she hadn’t. And, in reality, she wasn’t convinced she actually wanted them dead. But it would have alleviated a lot of problems. Most notably, her current state of affairs.
     “They’re probably hoping you’ll show back up,” Katie said softly. And that assumption was apparently correct because here he was.
     “Oh, without a doubt. We definitely have unfinished business, and that will be taken care of in due time.”
     Katie smirked. How long was that going to take? How many more people had to lose their souls? She’d taken several and the Praesuls hadn’t done anything. Weren’t they supposed to protect the world from evil? It was their mission to rid the world of demons to protect the innocent, but they hadn’t been around. That didn’t surprise Katie. They would only act when more worthy people were threatened. Randy and Wes had already made it clear that Katie was expendable. They wouldn’t tell the truth when Katie was in the hospital, making her appear crazy in front of her mom. Then later that night in the hospital when she came back from being in Hell, Randy waited for her in the room. He’d told her that withholding the truth was a sacrifice for the greater good. It irritated her, and she’d asked him if he would lead her to slaughter if her death would hypothetically save millions, and he had said he would do what he had to. Did that mean he would let Katie die if it would save others? She was convinced that was what he meant. And none of the others were apparently worth saving. The people she and Josh took souls from were just sinners. They were definitely not worthy of Randy and Wes’s attention.
     Wes’s face became serious. “I know what the demons told you. And it’s a lie.”
     Katie furrowed her brow and stared at him. Could Wes possibly make a more general statement? And she’d been expecting him to say it. It wouldn’t be a complete conversation without it.
     “I know what they told you about Lilith.”
     Whoa. Okay, that was just a bit too specific. And as much as the statement surprised her, she wasn’t going to let him know that it affected her.      But wait. Maybe it wasn’t as surprising as it initially seemed. Wes could see her soul. He knew she was part Lilith, and more than likely, Wes knew how important she was to the demons.      He was probably just making an assumption. She’d been in Hell when Lucifer had revealed the story. There would be no way Wes could know what had been said. What else had Braden told her? Something about Wes trying to protect her from herself. That was why he treated her the way he did. Wes had never wanted her to discover her true power. She set her jaw. She knew where this conversation was going. She held up her hand to silence him.
     “Just stop right there. Don’t waste your breath telling me that the story they told wasn’t true.” She pointed at him. “You had your chance to tell me your side.”
     Wes took a deep breath. “I have a feeling that not all of what they told you was a lie. And that’s what scares me. But I can tell you this: they used it to manipulate you.” He placed his hands on his hips and stared at the ground for a moment. He looked up at her with determination in his eyes. “I’m going to fix my mistakes. I’m going to make this right.”
     Katie shook her head. No. He didn’t have that right. His chance had passed. He couldn’t come back and save her now. She didn’t want him to. She opened her mouth to tell him that, but she never got the chance. In the corner of her eye, she saw a shadow materialize, and when she turned to look at it, it became a solid black mass. It looked exactly like the shadow Braden had summoned in the warehouse. How was it here? They were on holy ground!
     With a speed that was almost too fast to see, the shadow rushed toward Wes. Arms extended from the darkness and shoved him backward. Katie heard the thump when the shadow connected with him. Wes stumbled and was pushed back several feet on the grass, but he didn’t go down. Regaining his footing, he readied himself to fight. His hands balled into fists. He glared at the shadow, which hovered in from of him, unmoving.
     Wes took a quick step forward and pulled his fist back to strike. As it came forward, the shadow pooled on the ground and disappeared. Wes barely caught himself before falling forward. He glanced around, his eyes scanning the ground for his opponent. The shadow reappeared behind him and shoved him in the back. Wes went down on his knees. Pain pinched his face as the impact jolted his body. He attempted to pop back up to his feet, but the shadow moved around him and caught him under the chin with what looked like a knee. Wes’s head flew backward, his eyes rolled in his head, and he landed on his back. Surprisingly, he wasn’t out. She wanted him to be. She didn’t want him to endure any more. It made her flinch and cringe every time the shadow hit him. Had it been anyone but Wes, she would have rushed to stop the attack and comfort them. Even when it was Wes she had to use all of her self-control to stay away. That feeling was not sitting well with her.
     With a quickness that surprised Katie, he rolled onto his side and jumped to his feet. It still wasn’t fast enough. The shadow anticipated his move. It was ready with a fist to the side of Wes’s head. And that was enough to take him out. His body crumpled into the wildflowers and lay still. Katie stared at him, her mouth agape. Stay down, she said in her mind. And it appeared this time Wes would comply.
     Her breathing became rapid. Her muscles tensed as she waited for what was going to happen next.      She had watched the entire fight unfold before her eyes and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.      If that shadow was the same one Braden had summoned, there was no way it should have been there. They were on holy ground. It was a creature from Hell. Or was it?
     It definitely had a human shape. There was a distinctive head and shoulders, but the rest of the body flowed together as if it were wearing a cape. That was the only thing that made it sort of human.      It didn’t have any other features such as a face.
     Katie was frozen in place as she stared at it. It hovered over Wes. What was it going to do? Should she intervene? Wes was unconscious, and he couldn’t defend himself. He would be easy to kill. Conflict raged inside Katie’s mind. It was a feeling she despised. There shouldn’t be an issue. She chose darkness, why was she even contemplating helping Wes? After several tense moments, it turned to Katie. Her heart leapt into her throat, and her breath caught. She felt the weight slam into her. The thing hit her with such force that the air left her lungs. Fear tightened all the muscles in her body. Both she and the shadow fell backward.
     She braced herself for the impact with the grass and ground. Instead, her spine made contact with something hard and unforgiving. Needles of pain pricked her back and ribs. She would have much preferred the grass. Pain radiated through her entire body. A groan inadvertently escaped her lips, followed by a gasp as her lungs tried to refill with air. Her head hit next, and blackness clouded her vision.
     She lay still for a moment, attempting to let her body adjust to what had just happened. She was chilled from the cold surface against her back and skin, but she still managed to slow and regulate her breathing. Pain radiated through her limbs. The darkness cleared from her vision, and she realized she was on the floor of the bathroom in the hospital. She blinked slowly. What the hell just happened?

Unlikeable Characters By Pembroke Sinclair
Characters, like real people, have their quirks.  There are parts of them readers may like, and others readers may find loathsome.  Katie, my main character from the Road to Salvation series, isn’t always liked.  In fact, some readers have even gone so far as to say they hate her.

My first reaction to that was that I needed to come to Katie’s defense.  I felt like I needed to protect her like I would protect my own children.  I would explain that she acts the way she acts because she’s a 17-year-old girl or give some other excuse, like she’s naive.  I was upset that they would attack her like that.

Then, I stopped.  I was talking to an author friend of mine about how not all main characters have to be likable.  The point of stories is to put characters in challenging situations and see how they react to them.  Not all of them come out fighting.  Some are more passive and maybe a lot more self-centered.  Some are unreliable.  You can’t trust anything they have to say, and they often twist the truth to their own benefit.  Some are sneaky.  Like the real world, characters in fiction display a wide range of personality traits--not all of which are desirable.

Katie is young, naive, self-centered, needy, and whiny.  She has moments of being strong, but they are fleeting and quickly devolve into self-doubt and insecurity.  Katie is who she is, and she shouldn’t have to apologize for that or explain it to anyone.  And neither do I.  If she was any other way, it wouldn’t be the same story.

I understand that readers don’t like her, but some do.  And both of those feelings are correct.  Katie isn’t always my favorite either, and I know her really well.  I don’t cringe anymore when reviewers write about how much they despise her.  In fact, I laugh.  To me, that’s an awesome compliment.  I love to see that my character evokes such a strong emotional response.  It means I’m doing something right.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
The basis of the Road to Salvation series is looking at what could happen when a teenage girl with no experience in love falls for the bad boy.  We have this notion in society that it is expected and accepted for women to fall for bad boys and be the catalyst to change them, but that’s a dangerous place for women to be.  What if the person doesn’t want to change?  Where does that leave her?  This book looks at what could happen in this type of relationship.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 
I learned that main characters don’t always have to be likable, but that doesn’t mean their story is any less important.

What books were your favorite as a youth and why?
My favorite books as a young adult were anything by Christopher Pike.  I read everything he wrote.  He was a huge inspiration in how I write my YA books now.

What’s your favorite sweet treat?
Oh, man!  I love anything that doesn’t have nuts in it.  But my favorite are cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies with ice cream and caramel sauce.  Mmmmmm.

What superpower would you love to have? Why?
I would love to be able to multiply myself.  There’s always so much to get done in a day, and I’m only one person, so having some help would be awesome!

You’ve just won a million dollars and you’re not allowed to save any of it. What do you spend it on?
I’m pretty boring, but I would pay off my cars and loans, then go on a vacation.  I’m not sure where I’d go, but Alaska and Iceland are high on my list to visit.

Favorite class in high school. Why?
I had two.  One was biology and the other was English.  They were my favorites because the teachers were awesome.  They were both incredibly encouraging and inspired me to love science and English.

How did you get involved with Booktrope?
A couple years ago, I used to do book tours on my blog.  One of the books happened to be a Booktrope book, and the book manager contacted me on Facebook to thank me for having the author on my blog.  We became friends.  At the time, I was working on the first book in the Road to Salvation series, The Appeal of Evil, and I asked the book manager to read it and give me her opinion.  She loved it and wanted to take it on.

Unfortunately, Booktrope was closed to submissions at the time.  However, because this book manager enjoyed it and wanted to represent it, Booktrope signed me, and the rest is history.

Tell us a little bit about your pseudonyms. How do you decide when to use it?
I use my pen name for my fiction and my real name for my nonfiction.  It’s actually quite a long story about why that happened, but I talk about it in a blog post, which you can find here.

Author Bio:
Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming--the home of 56 nationalities--it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.


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