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Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Review & Excerpt of The Deepest Well by Juliette Cross, Plus Author Interview

The Deepest Well (Age of Gray #1) by Juliette Cross
Genre: Adult (Paranormal/Historical Romance)
Date Published: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Love can stand the test of time. Can it rise above the taint of Hell?

Lady Katherine Blakely is married to a monster. On the same night she witnesses how low her husband can sink, she meets a charming stranger, a gentleman from top to toe. Yet even her gallant rescuer is possessed of a dark side.

Lord George Draconis Thornton, commander of the Dominus Daemonum, is on a mission to expel the demon prince Damas back to the underworld. But a golden-haired beauty derails his plans and stirs an attraction he’s never felt before, not even for his centuries-dead wife.

Discovering Lord Blakely is in league with Damas, George sweeps Katherine away from the chaos and devilry threatening her life. With every touch, their love grows by joyful leaps and bounds. 

Sensing his enemy’s vulnerability, Damas kidnaps Katherine to his hellish lair, where he wages a sensual assault on her defenses. As George tears at heaven and earth to find her, he is painfully aware of only one way to save her soul. The cost will break her heart…and destroy his own.

Warning: Contains wolves in gentlemen’s clothing, a precipitous descent into Hell, and a frightening glimpse of a post-apocalyptic world where angels and demons wage war for dominion on earth.

The Deepest Well is the first book in the Age of Grey series by Juliette Cross. The blurb grabbed my attention immediately, however once I started reading the book I found myself disappointed more often than not. Mostly, the pacing was to blame. It was simply not fast enough making it hard for me to stay focused. I think the direction of the book is interesting, and the characters could have some depth as we get to know them, especially if we get more of their back stories in upcoming books. Each character had something to offer the story, and you could feel for them in their own way. The second half was much better than the first. I hope future books add to that momentum. This was a prequel story to the Vessel Trilogy. I feel like maybe I should have read that first to fully appreciate what was going on. With all that said, it definitely has me intrigued, and I'd love to read more in this series and The Vessel Trilogy.

The ARC of The Deepest Well by Juliette Cross was kindly provided to me by Bewitching Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.

“How do you know about the world of demons, George? How did you move as they did? I thought I had fainted by the pond and awakened beside the barn, but I didn’t, did I?”

Had she imagined being transported from the horses to the barn in a long blink?

“No, you didn’t faint. It’s called sifting. A power of the angels, to move from place to place at will.”

“But they weren’t angels.”

“They were once.”

Fallen angels. Could this be possible? What did that make the man standing before her? He inhaled a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Perhaps I should define the two realms for you.”

“That would be lovely.”

His mouth quirked at her sarcasm, though he chose not to comment. “There is the Flamma of Light and the Flamma of Dark.”


“Fire, in Latin, which is the common tongue between the heavenly and demonic hosts.”

She pulled her hand from his and stood, staring into the flames. “Why fire?”

He joined her and removed his wet coat. “I asked the same question once.” He winced as he peeled the coat off his right arm. A pool of red had soaked through his undershirt.

“Oh God, your arm, George. You’re bleeding.”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing.”

Just as he had unbuttoned her jacket, she swiftly unfastened his waistcoat, then his shirt and peeled them off him. Steering her gaze away from his finely sculpted chest and broad shoulders, she examined the cut more closely. She bent over and, with a quick rip, tore a long strip from her shift.

“You needn’t do that, Katherine.”

“Be still and let me mend you as best I can.”

He held his arm straight so that she could wrap the fabric around his arm.

“Why fire?” she asked again, busying herself with the makeshift bandage.

“Flamma are all touched by fire, an otherworldly power given to each of us.”

She remembered the way he moved, the way the demons moved, with supernatural speed and agility. A drop of rain dripped from his tousled hair, landing on his shoulder before rolling forward. She followed its path as it slid down and over his pectoral. Trying to regain her composure, she inhaled a deep breath, which was a mistake. She breathed in the heady scent of rain and beautiful man, her agitation amplified by his proximity and the undeniable power surging through his body. She longed to touch him, to know what all that strength would feel like under her fingertips, but she was paralyzed by her own desire and wavered on a dangerous precipice. When she’d cinched the bandage into a neat knot and finally chanced a glance at him, his smile nearly buckled her knees.

“There,” she whispered. “That will stop the bleeding.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“What do you mean?”

His shoulders went rigid as if he were holding himself in tight control. Katherine knew his thoughts had wandered away from the wound in his arm. She asked again, “What do you mean, George?”

His eyes slid closed. “I love to hear my name on your lips.” He opened his eyes again, his jaw set in grave lines. “What I mean, my lady, is that I am bleeding inwardly, and I know of only one way to stop it.”

Katherine was well aware of the tension filling the room, of the rise of her heart rate, of the longing in his gaze, which surely matched her own. She realized she was tumbling over that cliff. And she didn’t care, quite content to drown in his aquamarine gaze.

“How can I stop it, George? Tell me.”

“I’d rather show you.”

How long have you been writing? 
Since high school really. I went on to major in Creative Writing at LSU. But after I married, started my family and my teaching career, my writing slowed for awhile. I picked it back up seriously about eight years ago. I wrote a few books that will remain in their never-to-be-seen vaults for eternity, but I learned a lot about craft and the publishing world with my first efforts at novel writing.

What inspired you to write The Deepest Well? 
Honestly? The fans of The Vessel Trilogy. I left several hints throughout those three books that Kat and George had a past together, and I found myself becoming interested in telling their story later on. I also wanted to show who Katherine was before she became “Kat,” the kickass demon hunter. After readers asked more than once about George and Kat’s love story, I knew I needed to write The Deepest Well. And I also knew from the beginning that their story was a tragic one before they found their HEA. 

When you first started writing The Deepest Well, did you plan for it to be a series? 
Yes. This book serves more like a prequel to the rest of the series which will be set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Great War between angels and demons is taking place on earth. While some of the novels may have flashbacks into the past, The Deepest Well is the only one set primarily in the past.

Which of your characters do you relate to most and why? 
I’d say George. He keeps problems and heartache close to the chest. But he also says what he feels and isn’t ashamed of it. I think I’m that way most the time.

What is a secret about you that nobody else knows? 
Not really a secret, but here’s something not many people know. I almost drowned to death on my honeymoon. I insisted that my new husband and I go snorkeling around this reef to see a family of sea turtles that locals of Maui had told us about. I forgot about afternoon tide that day and we were nearly swept out to sea. I remember praying so hard a shark didn’t attack us before we made it back to shore. We made it! Lol. 

What book have you read too many times to count? 
Jane Eyre. Granted, I chose to teach it to my senior classes when I taught high school, but I’d read it several times even before then. And I’ve read it at least once since I left the classroom a few years ago. 

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received? 
Never give up.

If you could hop into the life of any fictional character, who would it be and why? 
Mac from KMM’s Fever series. I always loved her character—strong-willed and bad ass, but still feminine when she wants to be. Oh, and there’s Barrons, so yeah. It would be fun to be Rose for a while, to say the least.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? 
That oftentimes my heroes have serious flaws and my villains have redeeming qualities. I tend to write some characters who could tip over the line into the dark or the light with one right or wrong decision. I find it fascinating when I’m starting to sympathize with one of my “bad guys.”

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
Netflix, baby! My husband and I are serious movie and Netflix series addicts. Just finished “Jessica Jones.” Damn, that was good!

Are any of the things in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? 

There’s a mixture of both, but I’d say 99% of the time, my characters come from people I know. And yes, some characters are somewhat autobiographical. But I’ll never tell you which ones. ;) But the real fun for me is creating entirely new and alternate worlds with paranormal elements. It feeds my creative need.

Juliette is a multi-published author of paranormal and urban fantasy romance. She calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home, where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance--brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more books set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

To learn more about Juliette Cross and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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