Monday, May 12, 2014

Kissed by Kimberly Loth

Genre: Paranormal
Kindle: 250 Pages
Published: April 21, 2014
Release Date: May 1, 2014
Series: The Thorn Chronicles 
         1. Kissed
         2. TBA

Goodreads Synopsis:

Trapped in a dark cult, sixteen-year-old Naomi Aren has lived a quiet, albeit unhappy, life nestled deep in the hills of the Ozarks. With uncut hair, denim skirts, and only roses for friends, Naomi seldom questions why her life is different from other kids at school. Until the day her abusive father, who is also the cult’s leader, announces her wedding. Naomi must marry Dwayne Yerdin, a bully who reeks of sweat and manure and is the only one person who scares her worse than her father.

Then she meets Kai, the mysterious boy who brings her exotic new roses and stolen midnight kisses. Kisses that bring her a supernatural strength she never knew she had. As the big day approaches, Naomi unearths more secrets of about her father’s cult. She learns she has power of her own and while Kai may have awakened that power, Naomi must find a way to use it to escape Dwayne and her father—without destroying herself.

Buy Links: (On sale for only $.99!)

About the Author:

Kimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina. She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. Currently, she lives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband and two kids. 

She is a high school math teacher by day (please don’t hold that against her) and YA author by night. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures. Kissed is her first novel.

Author Links:

Excerpt/Guest Post: 

Guest Post:

Thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m thrilled to be able to talk about Kissed. This journey has been so amazing.  Today I want to talk about something that readers have told me they’ve really enjoyed about the book. The roses.

I consider myself a lifelong learner. I love learning new things. And I love books that teach me about new things or places. One of the first things I often do when I finish a book is Google the setting, a hobby a character had or something else interesting I found in the book. My favorite books are ones that not only captured me up in the story but one that taught me something I never knew before. For example, in North of Beautiful by Justina Chen her main character loves maps and learns how to geocache. I’d never heard of the concept before that book. Now, it’s a hobby that I enjoy.

I wanted to capture that spirit in Kissed. My main character, Naomi, is obsessed with roses. From a young age she learned how to garden with her grandmother and by the time we meet her at sixteen, she has a greenhouse filled with exotic rose blends and a garden out back.

I start every chapter with something she knows about roses or how she applies those roses to her life. Here’s the one from chapter four.

Seven roses contain the name of the day of rest. My favorite is Sunday Lemonade. Its pale pink blooms give off a scent of lazy summer nights visiting with friends. Just the opposite of the many Sabbaths I spend with my father. His Sundays smell like famine and pestilence.

Many readers have asked how I know so much about roses. The truth is, I didn’t know much until I started writing Kissed. I’d always loved roses. My grandpa grew them and I loved watching him trim them when I was a child. He always picked a few roses for me and cut off all the thorns. But I’d never grown my own before.

When I knew Naomi needed this, I checked out every book on roses my small community library contained. (Five books, in case you were wondering). I began reading everything I could online. I found out there are literally thousands of different roses. It was so fun finding roses to fit each situation. But I needed more than that.

I drove out to my local Lowes and picked out a few plants. I only chose ones that smelled good and would bloom all season. A lot of rose bushes will only bloom once a year and while Naomi was content with that, I wasn’t.

I’ve always had a black thumb. I killed everything I grew.  Everything I read said that roses were hard to grow. To my surprise, not only did they live, but they flourished. I loved those roses. Honestly, I think that was the key. We’ve moved since then, but for a couple of years I had gorgeous smelly roses. Not only that, I was able to really get a feel for the roses and add an authenticity that research alone doesn’t give you.

If you are interested in trying to grow your own roses, I would recommend Oklahoma, Tiffany, or Granada roses. They seem to do well in most climates and have dreamy smells. Also, Miracle Grow Roses does wonders.

I hope you will enjoy Kissed. You can buy it on Amazon. Until the of the week it’s only 99 cents. 

Excerpt 1

My father and Mr. Yerdin talked of politics and religion, not once acknowledging that anyone else sat at the table. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised since more than one sermon had been preached about the place of women and children. We were inferior and didn’t deserve an opinion that differed from our husbands’ or fathers’, so it was best that we just didn’t say anything at all. As the conversation turned to the medical experiments Dad performed on the dog that had been dumped in our yard last week, I tuned out and tried to think of what I would get if I crossed an Iceberg rose with a Sunsprite. A nice pale yellow and only a few thorns. Could be interesting. If Grandma were still alive, she’d appreciate it.
A quick glance at the clock told me they’d only been here forty-five minutes, but it felt like days. After another excruciating hour, Mother presented the cake. The carrot cake (my father’s favorite) had sixteen candles on it. I had not had a cake with candles since my eighth birthday. On that day, the cake was chocolate, my favorite, but that was before Father went insane. I missed those days, the ones before he went crazy. When he would come home and take me canoeing and fishing. When we would wake up early on Saturdays and go to breakfast at Sheila’s Café. I blinked back tears thinking of the father he used to be.
After the cake, I moved to help my mother clean up, but Father put a hand on my wrist, a signal to stay seated. The skin burned where he touched it.

“See,” my father said, “she’s obedient.”

Mr. Yerdin grinned. “Yes, of course she is. I wouldn’t expect anything less from you, Dr. Aren. Dwayne, what do you think?”

Dwayne shrugged and shifted his eyes. Me, I kept my mouth shut and listened for the words that weren’t being said.

Mr. Yerdin eyed me up and down. “Well she certainly has the required blond hair and blue eyes.”

“And she’s a virgin.” My father spoke this a little too loudly and I flinched. My mother paused before picking up Mr. Yerdin’s plate. She met my father’s eyes and nodded. Then the corners of her mouth turned up ever so slightly.

My stomach sank at the thought of what my birthday surprise would be. Although part of me did not want to hear the rest of the conversation, but to escape back into the quiet world of flowers and dirt, another part of me needed to know what my future held, where being a virgin was important.

I cleared my throat. Dwayne smiled a wide toothy smile and my father glowered like I’d done something wrong. Which, of course I had, but it would be worth the punishment if I got the answers I needed.

“Could someone please explain?” There. I asked the question. So out of character for me and yet satisfying in a strange way, like the way I felt when a teacher praised me for a good job. I bit my bottom lip and tasted butterscotch, which was weird because the cake we had, contained nothing of the sort. While I knew asking questions was not an act of disobedience, I also recognized the power in the asking. As if I was taking control, even if that control was small. I took a sip of my water. Father hesitated for a moment and then frowned. He looked up and saw my mother standing in the kitchen, her eyes boring into his. He didn’t look away from her when he answered me.

“You’ll be marrying Dwayne.”

Excerpt 2:

Seven roses contain the name of the day of rest. My favorite is Sunday Lemonade. Its pale pink blooms give off a scent of lazy summer nights visiting with friends. Just the opposite of the many Sabbaths I spend with my father. His Sundays smell like famine and pestilence.

Birds sang to announce the new day. Perhaps I could stay in bed a little longer. My eyelids fluttered and I rolled to my side, the crisp sheets scratching my skin. The cheap alarm clock glowed red in the darkness. 8:30. I had an hour until the apocalypse began. For a minute I debated staying in bed, replaying various kisses from my mystery savior, but I still needed to shower and plant myself on the couch before Father was ready to go. My stomach growled and I sighed. No food today. Sundays were days of fasting. My ankle-length nightgown twisted around my knees and I struggled to free my legs. My breath came in rapid bursts, the claustrophobia setting in. Consciously, I slowed my breath and untwisted my nightgown. If I ever escaped, I promised myself the first thing I would do is sleep naked.

I sat up and flicked on the cracked floral lamp that sat on my nightstand. My gaze settled on my dresser. Last night I left deep red Oklahoma Roses. Next to them sat a monster blueberry muffin and a banana. I was grateful, but flabbergasted that today of all days he knew to leave food with the flowers. Today, I wouldn’t be allowed to eat.

I scrambled to the dresser and inhaled the muffin and banana. Only when I was half way through did the thought occur to me that Father might notice the smell on my breath. I would have to take extra care brushing my teeth. Full and feeling that today might not be so awful after all, I set to the task of getting ready for church.
After my shower, I scrubbed my teeth and braided my hair. Guilt swam across my insides. This week, I disobeyed my parents, flipped off Dwayne, ate breakfast on the Sabbath and I was kissing a boy every night. If I confessed before the Master I would have a fingernail ripped out, my middle finger would be burned, I would have to drink a glass of scalding water, and I didn’t know what my punishment would be for kissing the boy. No one had ever committed that sin before or at least confessed to it.

Perhaps it was cowardly, but I didn’t want to bear the punishment. Perhaps given enough time, I’d just forget about it. As long as the Master never asked me, I wouldn’t have to confess. I tried once, to not confess, but one look into those evil red eyes and the words tumbled off my lips. I couldn’t help it.

Excerpt 3

Most roses run the color wheel from yellow to red. Occasionally a white one pops up. Some of my favorite roses are flowers that have an unusual color. Like purple. The American Rose Society doesn’t even consider purple to be a rose color. They call it mauve. But purple roses do exist. And the most beautiful purple rose is the Vol de Nuit, or the Night Flight.

Andrea didn’t hang out long. She didn’t even come inside the house. When her car disappeared down the road, I fought back tears. I was as good as dead. At least to the outside world.

I followed Mr. Yerdin inside, tugging my suitcase behind me. The stench reached me before I crossed the threshold. A mixture of rotting garbage and feces. I gagged but moved inside anyway.
Boxes piled upon boxes filled the main room. A path through them was visible, but the floor was covered with papers and food. A cockroach scurried across my toe.
“Your room is this way. Don’t knock anything over with your suitcase.” I squeezed down the path, careful not to touch the towers on either side of me. The hallway contained no boxes, but the floor was still not visible. In places, I literally had to climb over trash bags filled with who knows what.
He opened the door to a small room. “We cleared the bed off for you. It will only be for tonight. Tomorrow you’ll be married so you’ll share a room with Dwayne.”
“Will that be after we go to Fayetteville?”
He snorted. “Honey, you’ve seen the last of those social workers. In fact the only people you’ll see from now on are Dwayne and me. He won’t be home until late. His buddies took him out for a bachelor party. If he comes to you though, don’t upset him, he’s a mean drunk and I don’t want that pretty face ruined for the wedding.”
I nodded and waited for him to leave. Then I shoved the door closed and sat on the bed. No way would I stay here. I crawled across the bed to the wide window. I tried to open it. It budged only a little bit. Silently, I pulled up on it. Eventually, it slid open with a loud screech. I froze, but no one came to check on me. In the dark it would be much easier to escape. If Dwayne wasn’t to come home until late, I figured I had four or five hours after it turned dark to make my break. I wanted to wait until Mr. Yerdin went to bed.
I checked out my suitcase. It would only hinder me. I’d have to run with nothing. The only things in my suitcase were clothes. I’d do with what I had. If only my parents had allowed me to wear pants. All of my clothes were impractical for running. They would not be missed.

If my mind served me right, I could take Oak Valley down to Martinville where I could find the Wal-Mart and a bus stop. With any luck I’d be on my way to Vegas by midday.
Darkness fell, but Mr. Yerdin still tromped around the house. I watched under my door for the lights to go out. Just as I decided that perhaps I’d better make a run for it anyway before Dwayne got home, all the lights in the house went out.
I shimmied out the window and landed hard on the ground, jarring my teeth and nearly twisting my ankle. The moonless night made it hard to see anything. I started for the road, figuring that would be the safest route. Before I walked more than a few feet, a car roared down the driveway, its headlights lighting the whole yard. I froze.
Dwayne tumbled out of the passenger door, howling. Then he saw me.
“Naomi, you waited outside for me like a good little bitch.” He lurched toward me.
He grabbed me around the waist and pulled me close to him. The alcohol had improved his breath. His buddies hooted from the car then spun in a tight circle and disappeared down the driveway. Dwayne swayed next to me and leaned heavily on my shoulder.
“Come on,” he slurred. “Let’s go have a honeymoon.”
“We won’t be married until tomorrow.”
“Techni--” He paused, appearing to think. “Technimal....”
I took advantage of his lapse in thought and moved away from him. He stumbled and fell over, landing hard on his butt. “Come here,” he commanded.
I stayed where I was and then edged further away. Hopefully from his position he wouldn’t be able to tell. He propped himself up on all fours and made it back to his feet. He took a winding path toward me and grabbed me by the arm. The flies buzzed in my ears again and I felt like I needed to vomit.
His nostrils flared, his face contorting with anger. My arm began to ache. His eyes closed and he shook his head. After a moment he fell over, unconscious. Without thinking I ran. Down the driveway and out onto the dirt road. Onto the main road I continued to run, for once grateful for the ugly tennis shoes.

Once I hit the highway I had to slow down. I didn’t feel comfortable running on the pavement. It felt too exposed so I kept to the ditch and made slow progress. Every once in a while a car would come through and I would duck to avoid friendly strangers. Eventually, the road leveled out where there was no shelter. On either side of the road hay fields stretched on for miles. My feet ached, but I kept moving.
A slow moving car came up behind me. It stopped, illuminating me with its lights. I didn’t hesitate, I ran.
“Naomi, wait,” a voice called. It wasn’t Dwayne or Mr. Yerdin, but I wasn’t waiting around to see who it was. There was no place to hide. Freshly mowed, the fields left no protection. Sharp stalks of hay scratched at my legs. I ran, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to outrun the stranger.
It didn’t take long before footsteps overcame me. Strong arms wrapped around me and pinned my arms to my side. I thrashed, trying to get away. “Naomi, stop.” My nose twitched. A familiar smell, like clove. He spun me around. “Look at me.”
I looked.

And then kissed Kai full on the lips.



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