For a beautiful mix of romance and science fiction, look no further than Roxanne Bland’s The Moreva of Asteroth. It follows the tale of Moreva Tehi, the granddaughter of Devi goddess Asteroth. Told through her own perspective, this story tells us of Tehi’s bigotry and open disdain for those she perceives to be of a lesser race. However, as we read from chapter to chapter, we see a change in her disposition. Things especially start to change when she is banished and forced to live in a far-away land among the common laborers she so despises; the hakoi. In the process, she finds love; an unexpected twist in the storyline.
While this book has a lot of details about Tehi’s supernatural powers and scientific exploits, it doesn’t overwhelm us with information. The author has a unique way of bringing to life Tehi’s experiences, making it seem like we are living through her, discovering things with her, one step at a time. Moreover, we get a front-row seat into her complicated love life; her constant struggle between her growing romantic desires and trying to keep her vow of loyalty to Astoreth. But as much as love is a major theme in this story, there are also other themes running concurrently. For one, there is a major emphasis on the need for belonging, especially in the main character’s life. Throughout the narrative, she feels like she doesn’t quite fit anywhere and is constantly plagued by a feeling of loneliness. Fortunately, this is resolved with the onset of genuine love. Another major theme is obviously prejudice and bias. Over and over again, we see how Tehi looks down on the hakoi and how some of the hakoi are biased against her. Ultimately, it becomes clear that a lot of the rules and assigned ways of life of the people of Asteroth are based purely on prejudice.
But if there is one thing that I really love about this book, it has to be the fact that its prose is light and very easy to read. Additionally, its plot is solid and its dialogue gripping. If you’re looking for something with witty comebacks and strong-willed characters, this is it. I also have to applaud the author’s creativity in creating an alternate world that’s imaginative and has its own languages. The Moreva of Astoreth possess an emotional depth that few science fiction adventure stories do, and this is why I highly recommend this book.
Pages: 455 | ASIN: B08D1XKTLC
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The Underground follows a wolf pack alpha male in an alternate Seattle who seeks the downfall of his overlord. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
The Underground was inspired by a single question I asked myself while in a half-fainted state on an uptown city bus with no air conditioning on one oppressively hot and humid afternoon: What would it take for a werewolf to survive in today’s world?
It gave me a lot to think about. Assuming humans are just as hostile to paranormals as they are in the literature, our werewolf’s primary concern would be keeping his true nature secret. Still, he can’t just wall himself away from humans—he needs a job, a place to live, and what have you. Would he have friends, knowing that everyone who crosses your path is a potential enemy? What lies would he have to tell to keep humans from finding out what he is? When the change comes, what does he do? He can’t go hunting humans in the city—that would be suicide. So…what? Those questions are just the tip of the iceberg, as they say.
Parker and Kurt were both well developed and interesting characters. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I really don’t have a favorite between the two. I love all my children equally! What was most interesting about writing the two is how they developed into such different characters. Yes, Parker’s from a rural-esqe part of the southern U.S. and Kurt’s a German aristocrat but it’s not just that. For example, their speech patterns are so different, aside from Parker being a potty-mouth! There’s a formality to Kurt’s speech that’s absent from Parker’s and everyone else. It’s almost as if I don’t have to use dialogue tags or other indicators as to who’s speaking. You can tell when Kurt’s speaking just from his language.
I loved the idea of exotics and the whole world of paranormal creatures you’ve built. What were some themes you wanted to explore in your world?
While mentally building the world for The Underground, I realized that world is our own. Human bigotry against paranormals abounds. Paranormals are hunted by humans and marked for execution. That’s no different than anyone who’s persecuted because of skin color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or identity, or any other difference the majority perceives as dangerous and undesirable. That leads to the question of what would happen if the downtrodden decide they’re not going to take their lot anymore? History tells us the answer. Oppress a people long and hard enough, they will rise up. And the results won’t be pretty. There’s so much more to these themes, too. I’ve even written an essay about it.
Are you still working on the Sequel to the The Moreva of Astoreth? How is that coming along?
Yes, The Moreva of Astoreth’s sequel, When Gods Die, is still in the works. Since Moreva was released, I’ve been assaulted by major real-life issues that necessitated putting Gods on the back-burner. Moreva is getting a major overhaul—new cover and a deep edit—and once that’s finished, I can go back to Gods. Of course, I can’t say for certain when it’ll be finished. Deadlines and me really don’t mix. But the plan is to have Gods published by the end of summer 2020. One reason for taking so long is I have to write a novella, The Final Victim, which I’ve promised to people who sign up for my newsletter. Victim is set in The Underground’s world and bears a strong relation to it but it’s not a part of The Underground’s story. Call it a companion book.
In an alternate Seattle, communities of “exotics”—shapeshifters, witches, elves and vampires—live among the murderous human population and are ruled over by the cruel vampire Master, Kurt. The powerful alpha male of the werewolf pack, Parker Berenson, is one of the Master’s enslaved servants and he would like nothing more than to hasten the downfall of the vampire overlord who stole his love, the beautiful mage Garrett Larkin. But in a night city already on the razor’s edge—in the midst of a spate of bloody murders—Parker’s passionate encounter with a stunning interstellar assassin could upset the very delicate balance and ignite a war neither exotics nor humans can survive.
Parker and Kurt are in a constant struggle for power. They, together with other types of ‘exotics’, live in Seattle together with human beings. Human are afraid of them and are repelled by the very idea of these creatures. The exotics only want peace. There is a plan, but there is a woman who might prove problematic to the success of said plan. As a means of displaying his superiority, Kurt takes Parker’s woman. Not because he wants her but because he wants to make a statement. Will peace ever be achieved? Can Parker reclaim his woman?
Roxanne Bland has crafted an intriguing plot that takes the reader deep into a literary forest. This book is eventful, lively and is filled with action and brilliant dialogue. This book will appeal to the deepest most sentimental parts of you but still arouse your intrigue and sense of adventure. The author leaves you disturbed not just by the sequence of events but by the frequent twists that the story takes.
One thing is necessitated though, an open mind. The book is written with blatant eroticism. It is a thrilling book even with such a strong romantic undertone to it.
I am consistently impressed with Roxanne’s ability to craft deep characters that change as the story progresses. The characters also display a myriad of traits. Parker is the alpha of his pack. He is expected to be authoritative and firm. His interaction with his pack is actually quite revealing of his true nature. The reader gets a feel of who he truly is away from the role that has been foisted on him. His indecision and doubt shine a light on a different side of him. A side that even the best leaders in the world have. Kurt on the other hand is a textbook dictator. He favors power plays and will exercise his arrogance at the slightest opportunity. His sexual deviance is no surprise, though shocking.
The author is not afraid to display some uncharacteristic traits in her quest to paint wholesome and realistic characters. She goes out of her way to help the reader recognize said traits and even endear themselves to the characters. The smart use of dialogue and action keep this novel moving quickly. With an open mind and a thirst for excitement, you will enjoy this book.
Pages: 377 | ASIN: B07X6RRL5B
Invasion follows a vampire, mage and a werewolf as they try to prevent an alien invasion. How did you come up with this unique and thrilling idea?
For that, we have to go back to The Underground, to which Invasion is the standalone sequel. I wanted to tell more of Melera’s story (the interstellar assassin) than what was depicted in that first book. So, I have an alien on the run from her nemesis, who is determined to recapture her and possess her battlefleet. When she returns to Earth, what are the high stakes? Does she just resume her existence on her hidden base, doing what she’s fated to do? No, because there’s no urgency. There has to be a clear and present danger from without. And what could be more of a clear and present danger than a potential alien invasion of Earth?
I really enjoyed that each character was unique and well developed, which led to some very interesting relationships. Did you plan these relationships or did they grow organically?
Again, we have to go back to The Underground. The Underground is where those relationships developed. I didn’t exactly plan them; they more or less grew organically. I mean, I had an idea about these relationships, but I didn’t map them out—I simply wrote and watched them unfold. That’s the way I write—I don’t plot anything out. I have an idea where to start—point A, if you will—and I know I have to get to point B and then to point C. How I get to these points is completely unknown to me. That, for me, is the joy of writing, that act of creation.
This novel was fun to read. What was the most fun scene for you to write?
That would have to be the BDSM scene. I had to do research for that one. I read books on the roles of the dominant and the submissive. I learned that to be a good dom is hard work. I also learned the rules of etiquette in group settings, and things like that. I visited a couple of clubs on open house night, where we were treated to a tour of the facilities, mini-lectures and demonstrations. One night, I won a gorgeous, hand-tooled leather spiked collar at a silent auction. Anyway, I met some fabulous people who were more than willing to talk to me about how to write the scene so that it rang true. I even ran it by a couple who gave me pointers. A great group of people, really. Their lifestyle isn’t mine, but it was a wonderful experience that really opened my eyes.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a sequel to a book I wrote a few years ago, entitled The Moreva of Astoreth. It’s funny—I never intended to write a sequel to The Moreva, but so many of my readers strongly suggested that I do so, well, how can I disappoint? I hope to have it finished within a year, maybe by the spring of 2019. My day job takes up a lot of my time, and I’m still working on how to balance the marketing and writing thing. I mean, I’m either all in, or not. I know there’s got to be a better way, a smarter way—I just haven’t figured it out yet.
Kurt, vampire Master of Seattle, Garrett Larkin, mage of Balthus Coven and Parker Berenson, alpha of the city’s werewolf pack, are in a world of trouble. Already divided by love and jealousy, the three discover their auras are inextricably bound, the result of a spellcasting gone terribly wrong. Each one’s aura has been invaded by the auras of the others, and the consequences are both frightening and deadly. Worse yet, Shen’zae Melera, interstellar assassin and Parker’s love, has returned to Earth with dire news: she didn’t return alone. She’d been followed by her nemesis, Mag Beloc, and his fleet of warships. Even if Beloc recaptures her, Melera knows that Earth will suit his purposes, and that his presence may well become permanent. Drawn together by choice and fate while doing what they had to do, can Kurt, Garrett, and Parker now find a way to undo the magick that binds them, and with Melera, stop an alien invasion before it begins?
Posted in Interviews
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Invasion, by Roxanne Bland is a blend of werewolf, vampire, fantasy and sci-fi genres, set in the modern world. We follow Kurt, a vampire, Garrett, a mage, and Parker Berenson, the alpha of Seattle’s werewolf pack. They become bound together, despite their struggles and differences in the face of an alien invasion that brings Melera, an old flame of Parker’s, back into the mix. Mag Beloc bursts onto the scene as the real cause of the invasion, who commands a fleet of warships in pursuit of the intergalactic assassin, Melera. And so all the pieces fall into place that make for an interesting narrative as the comrades deal with the magic that binds them and the insurmountable odds of an alien invasion force on Earth.
Roxanne Bland’s novel blends many genres but, overall, follows similar beats that are pretty familiar to science fiction adventure novels. This story stays colorful with it’s interesting use of vampires and werewolves, but at the core of the story, you still have a tale of heroes struggling against one another and the external forces lining up against them.
The novels strengths lie with it’s well developed characters and their relationships rather than the premise. Kurt, Garrett, and Parker are all fun and dynamic characters. Whether it’s spicy dialogue or intriguing interactions, the well rounded characters are the most appealing aspect of this novel. Although the plot left me wanting more, these character can be anywhere and still be interesting.
The novel has a lot of telling rather than showing as well as descriptions that tend to weigh the action down, making the overall pacing slow. This is something that many readers revel in, but with a plot that involves vampires and werewolves battling aliens! I thought it would faster. I will say there are some really great action scenes as well as a steamy sex scene, so if you consider yourself mature, then this novel is for you.
All in all, if such a wild blend of genres is your thing then this is the book for you. Science fiction fans may find themselves most at home in this world, but fantasy fans will want in as well. Either way, Invasion is sure to please pulp readers of all stripes.
Pages: 305 | ASIN: B0774LYZT9
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The Moreva of Astoreth is an intriguing fantasy novel. Why was it important for you to write this book?
It wasn’t so much that the novel was important for me to write as it was the book demanded to be written. That may not make much sense, but it is so. I was working on another project when the idea for this book came to me. I filed it away in my mind for the future. But I kept coming back to it until it was interfering with my work-in-progress. So I lay that project aside and wrote The Moreva of Astoreth.
Moreva Tehi despised the hakoi, even the parts of herself that were hakoi. How did this idea develop in The Morevea of Astoreth and why is it important to the characters development?
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I have always believed that some forms of bigotry—in this case, hatred for another people—is but a reflection of what one hates within oneself. This is precisely the problem Moreva Tehi must overcome. As she realizes, if she does not find a way to resolve her interior division, her hate will eventually destroy her. By overcoming her hatred of herself, by finding her self-love, she is saved from her own destruction. So, a large part of the story is about her journey to wholeness.
In the novel there is a second language that is used. Can you explain it’s creation and how you decided to us it in the story?
The language is Swedish. I used it for two reasons. One, I like Swedes. Second, the book describes two distinctly different people. Just as the peoples of Earth speak in different tongues, it would not be realistic to expect the two peoples in my book to speak the same language. While it is true I could have used a “universal translator” or some kind of translating implant, I wanted to emphasize to the reader—make them feel—Moreva Tehi’s sense of isolation while in the Syrenese Perritory. Hence the constant need for translation in the dialogue, which I provide. I am aware some readers might feel alienated by my linguistic gambit, or might even put the book down because of it, but I think it was necessary to the believability and credibility of the story.
What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Moreva? Did any of the characters development occur organically through the story?
The point at which Moreva Tehi realizes her bigotry is killing all that is good within her, and immediately takes action to heal herself. We see this kind of behavior throughout the book—her taking action in the face of a particular situation. As for Laerd Teger, I knew he could be cold and harsh as well as warm and loving, but what I did not know was his “I know best” attitude. Perhaps it stems from his being Laerd of the village. In any event, it almost cost him Moreva Tehi’s love. We can only hope he learned his lesson.
In the world-building spirit of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of priestess, scientist and healer Moreva Tehi, the headstrong granddaughter of a powerful deity who is banished for a year from her beloved desert home to a volatile far northern corner of Peris for neglecting to perform her sacred duties, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.
Roxanne Bland’s, The Moreva of Astoreth, is a twenty-seven chapter long book about life as a morev for Moreva Tehi. Tehi is a healer that works in the Temple for the Goddess of Love, Astoreth; The Most Holy One, who is also her grandmother. Less than interested in attending the Goddess’ religious service of Ohra and desperate to find the cure for Red Fever; a disease that plagued the Hakoi of their lands, she finds herself in great trouble with Astoreth, after missing the service. The defiance in character that lands Moreva Tehi in trouble, however, would not soon leave her and she would find herself in the Syren Perritory breaking every rule she had come to know. She is be lead to many revelations, some wonderful, some unsettling, but all unexpected.
The story began in Kherah, “a sunny desert south of the planet’s equator, where the fauna were kept in special habitats for learning and entertainment.” Moreva Tehi had seemingly spent too much of her privilege as granddaughter of a Goddess and was going to be sent away as punishment. In Kherah there were Devi, morevs and hakoi, most to least powerful respectively. Moreva Tehi was all three, but she despised the hakoi, even the parts of herself that was. After being sent away, hakoi like Kepten Yose of Mjor, would be a reminder to Tehi of why she hated hakoi, while others like Hyme; the healer and Teger; the Laerd, would conflict her understanding of that hatred.
Told from a first person perspective, the book became monotonous, as Moreva’s daily routine is described almost word for word for several chapters. The cycle contained, scrambling to get to breakfast, run ins with Teger, lab work with Hyme, morning service, clean up, rest, putting on makeup and getting dressed for the Ohra, evening service, rest, repeat. This made the book harder to read until about chapter thirteen. All the chapters before laid a boring and repetitive path for the reader to just happen upon a climax, literally. A severely unlikely love interest creates a hallmark of a plot twist and begins to really unfold the story.
The use of a second language that the narrator did not understand and that was not translated, successfully excluded both the narrator and myself.
Thematically, the language and attitudes to Tehi showed the struggle for her to be welcomed by the very people with whom she would share her body in the rite of Ohra, very similar to behavior of real world cultures. It was her bravery, breaking Protocol, and saving some miners from dying, that began a change in behavior towards her. There was a strong sense that she struggled with accepting herself, her religious obligations and how she felt about performing them starkly contrasted. Even though she hated the sexually invasive Ohra rite, her religious persuasions forced her to believe her feelings were the problem and not the rite. In the midst of themes such as love and power, Moreva learned reality was relative; she made a discovery about the Gods of her temple that threw her into a struggle with her own identity. Even so, Tehi dared not be bound by a dictated life. It was her determination and willingness to sacrifice that got her into trouble and she would use them to get out. Burning old bridges and creating new ones, with minimal harm to the people who she loved with all her hearts.
Pages: 452 | ISBN: 0996731660