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A Novel

Written by Laurell K. HamiltonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Laurell K. Hamilton

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On Sale: February 03, 2004
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-345-47206-9
Published by : Ballantine Books Ballantine Group
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

I am Meredith Gentry, P.I. and Princess Merry, heir to the throne of Fairie.
Now there are those among me who whisper I am more.
They fear me even as they protect me. And who can blame them?
I’ve awakened the dazzling magic that’s slumbered in them for
thousands of years. But the thing is, I can’t figure out why.

My aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, is no longer distracted by her usual sadistic hobbies. Her obsession has turned unwaveringly to me. The mission to get me pregnant and beat my cousin Prince Cel to the crown is taking longer than expected. Even though I spend each night with the Queen’s Ravens, my immortal guards, no child has come of our decadent pleasures. But something else is happening. My magic courses through me uncontrollably. And as I lock my half-mortal body with their full-Sidhe blooded ones, the power surges like never before.

It all began with the chalice. I dreamed of it, and it appeared, cool and hard, beside me when I awoke. My guards know the ancient relic well—its disappearance ages ago stripped them of their vital powers. But it is here with us now. My touch resonates with its force, and they’re consumed with it, their Sidhe essences lit up by it. But even as they cherish me for this unexpected gift, there are those who loathe me for it. Me, a mongrel, only half fey and part mortal. The Unseelie court has suffered for so long, and there are some who would not have it weakened further by an impure queen. My enemies grow in number every day. But they do not know what I am capable of. Nor, for that matter, do I. . . .

In Seduced by Moonlight, Laurell K. Hamilton brings the dark, erotic reign of the immortal fey to a startling new depth. Full of sensuality and the consuming anticipation of latent powers unleashed, this world of gods, shapeshifters, and immortal souls is unveiled in all of its supreme magnificence and its treacherous deceits.



From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

A lot of people lounge by pools in l.a., but few of them are truly immortal, no matter how hard they pretend with plastic surgery and exercise. Doyle was truly immortal and had been for over a thousand years. A thousand years of wars, assassinations, and political intrigue, and he’d been reduced to being eye candy in a thong bathing suit by the pool of the rich and famous. He lay at the edge of the pool, wearing almost nothing. Sunlight glittered across the blue, blue water of the pool. The light broke in a jagged dance across his body, as if some invisible hand stirred the light, turning it into a dozen tiny spotlights that coaxed Doyle’s dark body into colors I’d never known his skin could hold.

He wasn’t black the way a human being is black, but more the way a dog is black. Watching the play of light on his skin, I realized I’d been wrong. His skin gleamed with blue highlights, a shine of midnight blue along the long muscular sweep of his calf, a flare of royal blue like a stroke of deep sky touched his back and shoulder. Purple to shame the darkest amethyst caressed his hip. How could I ever have thought his skin monochrome? He was a miracle of colors and light, strapped across a body that rippled and moved with muscles honed in wars fought centuries before I was born.

The braid of his black hair trailed across the edge of the lounge chair, fell over the side, and curled beside him on the concrete like some patient serpent. His hair was the only thing that seemed black on black. There was no play of colors, only a gleam like a black jewel. It seemed as if it should have been the other way around, that his hair should have held the highlights and his body been all one color, but it wasn’t.

He lay on his stomach, head turned away from me. He was pretend- ing to be asleep, but I knew he wasn’t. He was waiting. Waiting for the helicopter to fly over. The helicopter that would contain the press, people with cameras. We’d made a deal with the devil. If the press would just stay away enough for us to have some privacy, we’d make sure that at prearranged times they had something newsworthy to take pictures of. I was Princess Meredith NicEssus, heir to the throne of the Unseelie Court, and the fact that I’d surfaced in Los Angeles, California, after a three-year absence was big news. People thought I’d died. Now I was alive and well, and living in the middle of one of the biggest media empires on the planet. Then I’d gone and done something that was even better tabloid fodder.

I was looking for a husband. The only faerie princess born on American soil was looking to wed. Being fey, especially a member of the sidhe, the highest of the high royals, I wasn’t allowed to marry unless I was pregnant. The fey don’t breed much, and the sidhe royals breed even less. My aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness, would not tolerate anything less than a fertile match. Since we seemed to be dying out, I guess I couldn’t blame her. But somehow the tabloids had gotten wind that I wasn’t just dating my bodyguards, I was fucking them. Whoever got me with child, got a wedding. Got to be king to my queen.

The tabloids even knew that the queen had made it a contest between me and her son, my cousin, Prince Cel. Whoever got a baby first, won the throne. The media had fallen on us like a cannibalistic orgy. Not pretty, not pretty at all.

What the tabloids didn’t know was that Cel had tried to have me as- sassinated more than once. They also didn’t know that he’d been imprisoned by the queen for six months as punishment. Imprisoned and tortured, for six months. Immortality and an ability to heal almost anything does have some downsides. Torture can last a very, very long time.

When Cel got out, he’d be allowed to continue the contest, unless I got pregnant first. So far, no luck, and it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Doyle was one of five bodyguards, the queen’s own bodyguards, who had volunteered, or been volunteered, to be my lover. Queen Andais had had a rule that her bodyguards gave their seed to her body, or nobody. Doyle had been celibate for centuries. Again, immortality, if it goes wrong, can have some downsides.

We’d chosen one of the most persistent of the tabloids and made our arrangements. Doyle thought it was rewarding bad behavior; the queen wanted us to show positive images to the media. The Unseelie Court of the sidhe has a reputation for being the bad guys. We can be, but I’d spent my fair share of time at the Seelie Court, the bright and shining court that the media think is so perfect, so joyous. Their King Taranis, the King of Light and Illusion, is my uncle. But I’m not in line to that throne. I had the bad taste to have a father who was full-blooded Unseelie sidhe, and that is a crime for which the glittering throng has no forgiveness. There was no prison that I could go to, no torture I could endure, that would cleanse me of this sin.

They can say that the Seelie Court is a beautiful place, but I learned that my blood is just as red on white marble as it is on black. The beautiful people made it very plain at a young age that I would never be one of them. I’m too short, too human looking, and, worse yet, too Unseelie looking.

My skin is as white as Doyle’s is black. Moonlight skin is what I have, a mark of beauty at either court, but I am barely five feet tall. No sidhe is that short. I have curves and am a little too voluptuous for the sidhe—that pesky human blood, I guess. My eyes are tricolored, two shades of green and a circle of gold. The eyes would be welcome in the Seelie Court, but not the hair. It’s blood auburn, sidhe scarlet, if you go to a good salon and get the dye job. It’s not auburn, and it’s not human red. It’s as if you took good red garnets and spun the jewels out into hair. It has one other nickname among the glittering throng—Unseelie red. The Seelie have red hair, but it’s closer to human red, orangey, golden, true auburn, or true red, but nothing as dark as mine.

My mother made sure that I knew I was less. Less beautiful, less welcome, just less. She and I don’t talk much. My father died when I was younger, and there is rarely a day that I don’t miss him. He taught me that I was enough, beautiful enough, tall enough, strong enough, just enough.

Doyle raised his head, showing the black wraparound sunglasses that hid his own black eyes. The light glittered off the silver earrings that graced almost every inch of his ears, from lobe to pointed tip. The ears were the only thing that gave away the fact that Doyle wasn’t pure Unseelie sidhe. Contrary to popular literature, and every wanna-be fey with ear implants, real sidhe do not have pointed ears. Doyle could have hidden the ears and passed for pure sidhe, but he almost always wore his hair back so that this one imperfection showed. I think the earrings were so you wouldn’t miss them.

“I hear the helicopter. Where is Rhys?”

I didn’t hear anything yet, but I’d learned not to question Doyle; if he said he’d heard something, he had. His hearing was better than a human’s, and better than most of the rest of the guards. Probably something to do with his mixed heritage.

I sat up and looked back toward the wall of glass that led into the house. Rhys appeared in the sliding glass doors before I could call for him. His skin was the paleness of mine, but there the sameness ended. His waist-length hair was a mass of tight white curls framing a face that was boyishly handsome and would be forever. His one eye was tricolored blue, cornflower, and winter sky. His other eye was gone, lost long ago. Sometimes he wore a patch to cover the scars, but once he realized that I didn’t mind, he seldom bothered. The scars trailed down his face but stopped short of his kissable, pouting lips. For sheer shape of the mouth, his was the prettiest. He was five foot six, the shortest full-blooded sidhe I’d ever met. But every inch of him that showed was muscled. He seemed to try to make up for the lack of height by being in better shape than the rest of the guards. They were all muscular, but he was one of the few who really took the weight lifting seriously. He was also the only one with washboard abs. He had the towels he’d gone for, in front of those abs, and lower, and it wasn’t until he dropped the towels beside my chair that I realized he’d left his bathing suit in the house.

“Rhys! What are you doing?”

He grinned at me. “Bathing suits this small are like lies. It’s a way for humans to be nude without being naked. I’d rather just be naked.”

“They won’t be able to print the pictures if one of us is nude,” Doyle said.

“They’ll print my ass, just not my front.”

I looked up at him, suddenly suspicious. “And just why won’t they be able to see the front of your body?”

He laughed, head back, mouth wide, a sound so joyous it seemed to make the day brighter. “I’ll be hiding myself against your gorgeous body.”

“No,” Doyle said.

“And are you going to do anything picture-worthy?” Rhys asked, hands on his hips. He was totally comfortable nude. His body language never changed no matter what he was, or wasn’t, wearing. It had taken two days worth of arguing to get Doyle into the thong bikini bottom he had on. He’d never participated in the court’s casual nudity.

Doyle stood, and the front of the suit was tiny enough, and close enough in color, that I could see Rhys’s point. If you didn’t know how magnificent Doyle looked nude, you might think this was it, at a glance. From the back he looked almost as nude as Rhys.

“I am wearing this, and I am in public view.”

“You’re cute,” Rhys said, “but if we want the tabloids to stop trying to snap pictures through the bedroom windows, we need to play fair with them. We need to give them a show.” He spread his arms wide when he said the last, turning his back to me so I got the full view of the back of his body. The view was better without the bathing suit to break up the clean, muscled lines of him. He still had a wonderful ass, unlike some bodybuilders, who’ve taken the lack of body fat to a point where there is nothing soft on their bodies. You need a little softness to hide the lines of muscles, or it just looks wrong.

I could hear the helicopter now. “We’re running out of time, gentlemen. I do not want to go back to having the photographers camped out in the trees outside the wall.”

Rhys glanced back at me. “If we don’t give the first tabloid a good show, they’ll tell the rest that we lied, and we’ll have them climbing all over us again.” He sighed, and not as if he was happy. “I’d rather flash my ass to the entire country than have another photographer break his arm falling off the roof.”

“Agreed,” I said.

Doyle took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out slowly through his mouth. “Agreed.” How little he liked it showed in the lines of his body, the way he stood. If he couldn’t act better than this, Doyle would have to be excused from future photo opportunities.

Rhys came to the foot of my lounge chair and knelt on all fours, with his hands on the chair arms. He was grinning at me, and I knew he’d find a way of enjoying this. It might be duty, and he might prefer to just shoot the helicopter out of the sky, but he’d play fair, and he’d find a way to make it fun, if he could.

I gazed down his body, because I couldn’t help it. I couldn’t not look at him dangling there, close enough to fondle, close enough for so much. My voice was a little less than steady when I asked, “Do you have a plan?”

“I thought we’d make out.”

“And what am I supposed to be doing?” Doyle asked. He sounded disgusted with the entire situation. He loved being my lover, loved the possibility of being king; he hated the publicity and everything that went with it.

“You can take one end, I’ll take the other.”

The helicopter was close now, perhaps hidden only by the line of tall eucalyptus trees that bordered the estate. Doyle flashed a smile, white and sudden as lightning in the darkness of his face. He moved with that liquid grace and speed that I could never match, and was suddenly kneeling beside my shoulder. “If I must, then I would have the sweet taste of your mouth.”

Rhys darted a quick lick across my bare stomach that made me writhe and giggle. He raised his face enough to say, “There are other tastes just as sweet.” The look in his eye, his face, held a heat and knowledge that stole the laughter from my throat and sent my pulse racing.

Doyle brushed his lips across my shoulder. The movement brought my gaze to his, and there was that same dark knowledge. A knowledge born of nights and days of skin and sweat and bodies, of tangled sheets and pleasure.

My voice came a little shaky. “You’ve decided to play. What made you change your mind?”

He whispered against my cheek, and just his breath hot against my skin made me shudder. “This is a necessary evil, and if you must parade yourself for the media, then I will not abandon you.” That flash of a smile came again, like a surprise across his face. It made him look younger, almost like someone else entirely. It had only been in the last month or so that I’d known Doyle had a smile like that inside him. “Besides, I cannot leave you to Rhys. Goddess knows what he would do out here on his own.”

Rhys ran a finger along the edge of my bikini bottom. “Such a tiny piece of cloth. They’ll never see it if we’re careful.”

I frowned at him. “What do you mean?”

He dropped lower on the lounge chair so that his face was above that tiny piece of cloth, his hands sliding under my slightly raised thighs until those hands came up over my hips and hid the bright red cloth of the bikini bottom. He lowered his face just over my groin, and his hair spread across my thighs like a curtain.

I didn’t have time to protest, or even decide if I was going to. The helicopter cleared the trees, and that was how they found us. Rhys with his face buried in my groin, his legs bent at the knees, feet kicking slightly over his bare ass, like a child with a piece of good candy.

I thought Doyle would protest, until he pressed his face into my neck and I realized he was laughing. Silently, shoulders shaking. He eased me back onto the lounge chair so that I was lying down again, still laughing, but hiding it from the cameras.

I started to smile and was glad my sunglasses were back in place. The smile started to turn into a laugh as the helicopter circled overhead, close enough to chop the water of the pool and send Rhys’s hair tickling along my skin. My hair flared in the artificial wind like bloody flames.

I was laughing full out now, which made things besides my shoulders shake.

Rhys licked across the front of my groin, and even through the cloth it slowed the laughter, brought a catch to my breath. He rolled his eye up the line of my body, and the look was enough; he didn’t want me laughing. He set his teeth into the cloth and grazed me delicately with his teeth. The sensation made me shudder, spine bowing enough to spill my head backward and open my mouth in a throaty gasp.

Doyle squeezed my shoulder, brought me back into my head a little. I was still shaky and had trouble focusing on his face. “I think we have had enough of a show for one day.” He laid one of the towels across my stomach. He handed the other one to Rhys.

Rhys looked up at him, and I saw the thought to argue cross his face, but in the end he simply began to get up, spreading the towel as he moved so that the cameras didn’t get a glimpse of the bikini bottoms. I’d half expected him to flash the camera, show the joke, but he didn’t. He very carefully covered me with the towel, while the helicopter swirled overhead and the wind beat our hair around us. On his knees, he was fully exposed, and I wondered if there’d be photos with him politely fuzzed out, or whether they’d sell them to the European papers and not worry about it.

When I was covered completely, from thighs to just under the red bikini top, he scooped me up in his arms.

I had to shout to be heard above the sound of wind and machinery. “I can walk.”

“I want to carry you.” He seemed so serious when he said it, and it cost me nothing to let him do it.

I nodded.

Rhys carried me toward the house with Doyle walking a little behind and to one side of us. Doyle was being a good bodyguard, bringing up the rear, but he was also walking to one side, instead of directly behind us, so that he didn’t ruin the photo opportunity.

He stopped at his chair and scooped up a third towel, then moved smoothly toward the house. I caught a glimpse of the gun wrapped in that towel. The helicopter circling overhead never knew that any of us was armed. They also couldn’t see Frost standing just inside the sliding glass doors, hidden by a spill of drapes. He was fully dressed, and very fully armed. I think the reason I didn’t mind the media games so much was that if no one tried to kill me, it was a good day. When that’s your criterion for a good day, what’s a few helicopters and some racy photos? Not much.


From the Hardcover edition.
Laurell K. Hamilton|Author Q&A

About Laurell K. Hamilton

Laurell K. Hamilton - Seduced By Moonlight
 
Laurell K. Hamilton is the New York Times bestselling author of the Meredith Gentry novels: A Kiss of Shadows, A Caress of Twilight, Seduced by Moonlight, A Stroke of Midnight, Mistral's Kiss, A Lick of Frost, and Divine Misdemeanors, as well as seventeen acclaimed Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, novels. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Author Q&A

Inteview with Laurell K. Hamilton


Q:Can you give readers a foretaste of what to expect in Seduced by Moonlight?

Laurell K. Hamilton:
I don't give hints about what is in a book. I have had to stop answering these kinds of questions, because I always give away something major without intending to!

Q:This book plunges more deeply than ever into the sexuality of your characters and their culture, to the extent that there is scarcely a page that doesn’t feature some variety of sexual transaction between two or more characters, some of it quite dark and violent. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of sex to the fey?

LH:
I take exception to the term "sexual transaction." That implies prostitution or something else equally tawdry, and there is nothing tawdry about any of the sex in Seduced By Moonlight.

It is not that sex is so integral to fey culture, but more that they do not have the same cultural bias against it that American culture seems to have. Sex isn't sinful or bad to the fey. The second reason for the apparent obsession with sex is that whoever can produce an heir for the throne, gets the throne. I would think that would be incentive enough for anyone!

Q: I’m intrigued by the various hands of power manifested by the sidhe. Is there a mythical basis for powers like Merry’s hand of blood, or did you invent them? How do the hands of power differ from the “ordinary” magical abilities of the sidhe, such as glamour, and what awakens them? Finally, are these abilities possessed, at least potentially, by all the fey, from sidhe on down, or only some of them?

LH:The hands of power differ from ordinary magic in that you have to have at least some Sidhe blood in order to manifest them. They are really the beginning of the power that sets the Sidhe apart from the rest of the fey. So no, all fey do not have them. But the fey can do other things that the Sidhe cannot. Many of the lesser fey are better at what we would call telekinesis but used to be described as Brownies moving things around the house.

The Sidhe were supposed to have all kinds of amazing abilities, if you go back and read the mythic cycles for Ireland. Some of them were supposed to be giants who could walk from one land mass to another in a single stride or be able to tow boats. I have actually toned down the magical abilities they were supposed to possess. I couldn't figure out how to work it with actual biology.

Q:So many of the Seelie and Unseelie sidhe were once gods, yet they all, apparently, had gods of their own: Danue and her nameless Consort. Who or what are these powerful beings? Are they sidhe themselves, or something beyond the sidhe?

LH:
Danue is the ancestral goddess of many Celtic peoples. She may by the same as Anu in Ireland or Don in Wales. What most people don't understand is that the Celts were tribal, which means almost every 20 miles you might have a different pantheon with similar jobs but different names or different spellings. Why Danue then?

First, because I though it would confuse the reader if I kept switching names. Second, because the Tuatha De Danaan are what the Daoine Sidhe originally were before they were forced underground and became the fey. Tuatha De Danaan means Children of the Danue. It is traditional, especially with Irish and Welsh myth and folklore, that the gods and heroes acknowledge a power, or powers, greater than themselves. They pray to the Great Goddess or God depending on the tribe and how cleaned up the monks who came later made it.

This idea that there is always something greater than yourself I think is central to understanding the myths and mindset of the Celts. It makes sure that you never get too full of yourself, because there is a greater power.

Q:One of the main plot lines running through this series is the gradual loss of power and vitality in the Seelie and Unseelie courts. This stems from long before they came to America, but seems to have accelerated since then. Magical abilities have lessened or been lost altogether, magical artifacts have vanished, and fertility has sharply declined. How much of this dwindling is the fault of the Queen of Air and Darkness and her Seelie counterpart, the King of Light and Illusion? What keeps the members of the two courts from banding together to overthrow their leaders in hopes of restoring the former glory of the sidhe?

LH:
I cannot really answer this without giving away parts of the book or early books if someone hasn't read them yet. But I am going with the idea that the King or Queen is tied to the land, and the fertility of the ruler and the land are combined. If the ruler is not doing well, then the land doesn't do well, nor the people do well. I am taking what is supposed to be metaphoric in the feudal system and making it absolutely true.

As to throwing over their leaders, I think, one, they are afraid of their leaders, and two, they argue amongst themselves quite a bit. It is hard to get together and keep a secret long enough. Conspiracies are a great deal harder on a mass scale to put together if you read about actual palace coup attempts in feudal societies. Trying to do this for real is a lot harder than it sounds. You would need some of the people in power to actually help you. You don't really end up overthrowing the leadership; you just replace it with another one that is very similar.

Q:Why can’t the sidhe use magic to heal their infertility? Isn’t there a hand of power that heals?

LH:
They can heal, but they cannot heal their infertility. I cannot really answer this question in more detail without giving away something that will occur later in the series. Sorry about that!

Q:Merry’s cousin and enemy, Prince Cel, is physically offstage for this book—presumably being tortured for his actions in A Caress of Twilight. At the risk of another question you can’t or won’t answer, will he be back for the next book?

LH:
This one I’m happy to answer, and the answer is: I don't know. Whether or not Prince Cel appears in the next book will depend on the time frame and how much longer he has to be punished.

Q:Do you have favorites among Merry’s ever-expanding group of fey guardians and bedmates? Are they the same as Merry’s?

LH:
I have my favorites, and Merry does as well. I think she makes her choice very clear as to whom she loves, whom she cares about, but she's also royal enough to know that just because you love someone doesn't mean that that is going to be the best person to be King. Merry has been raised to rule. As romantic and wonderful as it might seem to let who you love get in the way of who would be the best ruler, if you knew that your people might die and the person you love might be condemned to a death sentence if you let him rule and he was bad at it, that might be incentive enough not to let your heart answer the question for you.

Q:Will Christianity or any other human religion—or the deities and supernatural beings of those religions—play a more overt part in future books?

LH:
I don't see us getting into the religious issue very much. Many of the deities for the Celts already have followers among human religion. Many of the people who are Wiccan or follow the path of Wicca are Celtic-tradition witches.

Religion is the basis for many forms of culture and mythos. I don't see the clash of particular religions as being a major issue in these books. I think what you’ll see in future books is going to be more politics, literal politics, than politics of faith.

Q:What’s next for Laurell K. Hamilton? Are there any projects going on that you’re particularly excited about?

LH:
I am always excited about whatever I am doing. Seduced By Moonlight comes out in February, and I am perilously close to the end of the next Anita Blake book: Incubus Dreams, book number twelve! I am very excited about that, and it will be out in October 2004. We are working on the Anita Encyclopedia, which will have a different title: right now, the working title is Anitapedia. That is a group effort here. It is an interesting project to look at, kind of a retrospective kind of thing. Other than that, it would be nice to have time to write some more short stories, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise

Praise

“SEXY . . . MERRY’S ADVENTURES ARE ENGAGING AND KEEP THE READER TURNING THE PAGES.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“STUNNING . . . STEAMY . . . AN EXCITING AND ORIGINAL WORLD.”
—San Jose Mercury News

“A sizzling new series that blends supernatural fantasy with detective adventure . . . Memorable characters and wicked wit make it all delicious, ribald fun.”
—Publishers Weekly



From the Hardcover edition.

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