Monday, November 10, 2014

PRISONER by Annika Martin and Skye Warren - #BLOGTOUR, #REVIEW, @Annika_Martin @skye_warren

Prisoner-SkyeWarren-AnnikaMartin 96
 Prisoner-SkyeWarren-AnnikaMartin 96

Title: Prisoner  
Series: Criminals and Captives #1
Authors: Annika Martin, Skye Warren  
Date of publication: October 23, 2014
He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell.

But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think.

And you might crave him more than your next breath.

"Sexy, dark and thrilling. I loved every second of it!" ~ New York Times bestselling author Katie Reus

“Dark, sexy, and intense, Prisoner is an emotional ride that does not let go until the end. I loved it!” ~ USA Today bestselling author Kristen Callihan  

Where do you find your inspiration?  

Annika: You know those juicy, thrilling scenes in books or movies that you just love to pieces? And you think about them long after? Those sorts of scenes, and the huge emotions around them really inspire me. I love to feel that high-point thrill, and to create books around those moments. A lot of times I start with imagining an exciting scene I want to write and the book goes somewhere else completely, but the kernel, the inspiration still remains buried deep down.  

How did you come up with the idea for this story? 

Skye: Prisoner was my first collaboration with author Annika Martin. She and I first met because I’d read her books (love them!) and she read mine. We were both in a boxed set together, MAKE ME. We were chatting over email and came up with the idea to write a book together. We knew it would be edgy, and dark, and also fun! And so, Prisoner was born.  

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?  

Annika: A lot of writers hate revising and love first drafts, but I’m the opposite – I am crazy about revising--I like to mold and change things in big ways once the words are there. But I write a sloooooow and grueling first draft, and I daydream a lot and change my mind a lot. It’s a total challenge! That was one really nice thing about writing in a team—knowing Skye was at the other end, expecting me to come up with something new and exciting every day was kind of nice. But getting those first words down is hard and slow for me.  

What is for you the perfect book hero?  

Skye: I like them intimidating. Competent. Vaguely sinister and smug. Possessive. Harsh. Cold. Hot. I like them everything that is mean and cruel, even with the heroine. And then… when he stops, when sex and intimacy and love force him to stop, the clouds part. The sun rises on grass still sticky with dew. It paints the world in orange light and long shadows, hinting at what is to come. And that’s the end of the book. Not a wedding. Not a happily ever after. The ending is hope.

 Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?  

Annika: There are themes that writers return to over and over. One of my themes I return to, even when I’m not trying, is two super messed-up people finding love with each other, and being messed up together, and loving each other for their flaws (and not getting rid of them, because to me, flaws are what make people who they are!) So I guess my message is, even if you feel like you’re really screwed up, being really and truly yourself is beautiful and you deserve love.  

Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?  

Skye: My first dark book was Keep Me Safe… and god, I hope readers see that I’ve grown as a writer. But at the same time, I hope I’ve kept the core of what people liked about Keep Me Safe, the dark atmospheric setting and deep character exploration. Both of those are hopes—but I’d love to hear from the readers who have kept with me and hear what they think!

 Does music play any type of role in your writing?  

Annika: Definitely. I write now and then at coffee shops and if there are people talking around me, I need to put in earbuds and crank the music. I have specific songs I just loop over and over, usually dark and melodic. Also, I love to run after a hard day at the writing desk, and I crank the tunes and just zone out to the music and that’s when I get my best ideas.  

What books have influenced your life most?

Skye: The books that influence me the most have a super strong voice—and perspective. Broken by Megan Hart, Comfort Food by Kitty Thomas, and anything by my cowriter Annika Martin, who also writes as Carolyn Crane.  

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  

Annika: And even though he’s broad and heavy, especially because of that, it feels like a caress. His whole body embraces me, his mouth on mine, his hands on mine, his legs straddling my thighs. I’m wrapped in a cocoon made only of Grayson, where it smells like musk and tastes like man and wipes away every thought I should have. Like getting away. Like fighting him. Or longer pasted at end….  

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Both: Thank you!!!  

I’m coughing, wheezing. I had asthma as a kid, and that’s what it feels like now as the pepper spray stings me all the way down. “Get off!” I gasp. “You’re too heavy—I can’t—get air.”

“It’s the spray you hit me with,” he says. “Breathe normal.”

I gasp for air, panicking. “I can’t!” Is this how I die? Suffocation?

“Pretend,” he says, letting up his knee. He shifts so that he’s straddling my back. He grips my wrists now, pressing them above my head, and I feel his boots locked over my thighs. His weight is off my back. “It’s something every thug like me knows, how to not breathe in the fucking Mace.”

I choke and cough. I still can’t breathe. He’s going to let me die. He’s going to sit on me and watch me die.

“Relax,” he says softly. “You’re making it worse by panicking.”

Hoarsely, I try to get air. The sounds scare me. I really can’t breathe. I suck faster as the panic rises.

“Hey,” he whispers. “Shhh.” He brings his head near mine, breath tickling the back of my neck. “Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent, okay? It swells your throat and sinuses, but it doesn’t shut them.”

I gasp.

He continues to speak in his calm, strangely soothing voice. Why is he soothing me? I can feel him rattling against my defenses with every word. “You’re still getting air, okay? Focus on that, Ms. Winslow. That little passage of air you can still breathe through. Slow it down now, got it?”
I can’t slow it down. It’s like I don’t know how to breathe anymore, and I’m shaking.

And suddenly he’s stretching his big body over me, on top of me. His weight isn’t entirely on me, or else I’d be squished; it’s more of a dull weight, as though he’s holding himself against me, warming me, pressing me to the forest floor. Into my ear he whispers, “Breathe with me.”

I suck in a faint breath. “Get off me, you caveman!” Why is he even trying to help me?

“You’re okay, baby,” he says. “Match my breath.”

I feel his chest expand against my shoulder blades. He’s like a big, warm animal on me. I twist, but there’s no moving. He presses down harder, and something about his weight soothes me. I hate that he’s actually calming me, helping me. I don’t want him to make me feel good—he’s my enemy.

I wheeze lightly.

He breathes on, hot and slow against me. A bird calls in the distance. I can hear the hum of the highway, the drone of a helicopter. My eyes tear, and my limbs feel floppy and warm, and suddenly I’m doing it—I’m breathing. I take an almost regular breath.

“There you go,” he whispers.

“Fuck you. I don’t want your help.” I gasp in another breath.

His whisper caresses my cheek. “Nice and slow, Ms. Winslow.” There’s something sensual in the way he says it. “Nice and slow.”

He breathes again, as if to demonstrate. On the next breath I match him. Soon we’re breathing together. It’s strangely intimate, like we’re two wounded creatures under the forest canopy. It’s almost like dancing.

Almost like having sex.

I crane my head around just enough to see that he still has his eyes shut tight, dark eyelashes wet with tears from the irritation of the spray. Did I hurt him? Did I burn his eyes?

“Stop moving around,” he growls. “Lie still.”

Like I have any choice with him pinning me. My heart pounds under his weight.

Breathe in, breathe out.

It’s as if we’re in some kind of time-out, a no-man’s-land with the two of us fucked up and lying on the forest floor on a bed of pine needles that actually feels sort of soft and nice. The moments stretch on and on. I wonder how long it will take him to recover.

Maybe I really injured his eyes. Could I have hurt his eyes permanently?

He shifts, and I think maybe he’s getting up. But he doesn’t.

In a weird way I’m glad. If he got off me, that would end this strange, relaxing time out. It would bring back the harsh reality of who we are to each other.

For now, there’s nothing I can do with him lying on my back, and I let my limbs go soft, let my breathing calm, giving myself permission to relax. I feel like jelly suddenly, spread underneath him, spine flattened out. Us breathing together.

My eyes drift closed. The warm patch on my neck feels lit up every time he breathes out, and I imagine his lips hovering just over my skin.

I imagine him kissing me there, and a wave of forbidden feeling swells through my core.

My eyes fly open. There is no way I’m turned on.

Except I am.

My heart races. My breath gets fitful again.

“Hey,” he says. And then more softly. “You’re okay.”

I become aware of a hardness against my thigh. An erection. A melty sensation pulses through my pelvis. I’m trembling deep down, and it’s not just fear; it’s excitement.

Horrified, I try to shake him off, and he tightens his legs and arms around me. I feel his weight and warmth keenly now. “You don’t want to give me any more trouble, do you?”

“No,” I whisper huskily.

The energy of sex runs wild between us, and I don’t know how to stop it. Does he know? I flash back on him in the prison waiting room, the way he looked at me, and all that power and beauty barely contained in shackles. How stupid I was to think he was beautiful.

“No, you don’t want to give me trouble,” he affirms. “So we’re going to stay just like this until my eyes can recover.”

“So you can kill me?”

“If I was going to kill you,” he says, warm and tickly beneath my earlobe, “don’t you think you’d be dead?” There’s something about the way he says this that makes my belly quiver, and I can’t stop focusing on his erection. His big, strong heart beats against my back, beating my heart like we’re conjoined in some primitive way.

His breath feels soft on the side of my neck, and heaven help me, I want to feel more of him. I imagine his skin on my skin. Dimly I’m aware that my breath is changing, speeding, shallowing.

I stiffen as he presses his lips to the warm spot; it’s a kind of kiss. Or is it? And then he whispers, “Penny for your thoughts, Ms. Winslow.”

Oh God, he knows. This man who’s going to kill me, this man I’ve been breathing with, he knows.

Annika Martin 
 I'm a pet wrangler, bookworm, mediocre tennis player and hairstyle failure. And yes, an author, but I promise not to spam you if you friend me! I live just a stone's throw from the Mississippi with my husband and two beloved cats in a home full of plants, sunshine, books and cookie crumbs. By day, I'm a freelancer in the business world. In addition to being smutty Annika, I write urban fantasy under the pen name Carolyn Crane.
Skye Warren 
 Skye Warren writes unapologetic erotica, including power play or erotic pain and sometimes dubious consent. There's struggle in the sex. There's pain in the relationships. Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.
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I've read every one of Skye Warren's books and loved them.  I've read a few of Annika Martin's books too and loved them as well.  My favorite genre is dark romance and Prisoner is definitely that.  In some ways it's not as dark as some of Skye Warren's other books (think Keep Me Safe), but in other ways (mind games, etc.) it's even darker.  I haven't read as many Annika Martin books, but this definitely seems darker than those I have read and it's right up my alley.  

What can I say about Grayson?  
He's badass, sexy as hell, and more intense than pretty much any character I've ever read.

Grayson is serving a life sentence for murder.  Abby is a college student who agrees to teach a class at the prison as part of her classwork.  But she has secrets of her own.  She is not completely the good girl she seems to be.  From the moment that Abby first sees Grayson in the prison she knows he's bad news for her.  He seems to lock right onto her and fixate. 

Abby is unwillingly brought into Grayson's prison escape and then she becomes the prisoner.   Grayson becomes the captor.  Then things change again.  Abby, although very unwilling at first, gets to know Grayson, and his sad childhood story.  She falls for him and becomes less and less of an unwilling captive and more of an accomplice.  

Grayson and Abby both had traumatic experiences while young (although Grayson's was by far worse).  They're both messed up and neither could have a "normal" relationship.  Their dynamic together, however, works.  Abby understands Grayson in a way that no one else seems to.  He calls to her.  He's not a nice man and doesn't claim to be one.  She accepts this.

I loved, loved, loved, Grayson and Abby.  I am definitely looking forward to more by Annika Martin and Skye Warren, both alone and together.  I give Prisoner 4 stars!


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