Dance monkey says… paranormal romance

dance monkey

So I’ve been alluding to this for a few weeks, but I now have final confirmation and permission to share. The notice has been filed officially with Publishers Marketplace.

But first let me give you the backstory. A few months ago, I came up with an idea for a series of linked single-title paranormal romances. I discussed the project at length with my wonderful beta reader. She had some fantastic ideas, and we both got really excited.

I wrote the synopsis and a three chapter partial. Laura loved it, so after I made a few tweaks, she pitched to Penguin. Since we’ve both been so thrilled with our treatment there, we didn’t want to take the project anywhere else. After that, the waiting period began.

As is my custom, I kept busy and thought about the incipient project as little as possible. I didn’t want to get too attached to something that might not come to fruition. I wrote and revised books, did interviews, chatted with readers and generally worked on other things.

Then a couple of weeks ago, Laura told me she’d had a conversation with Cindy at Berkley, who liked the idea, but she wanted some things in the synopsis clarified. The backstory needed to be strengthened among other things. So I rewrote it. Laura sent the revised version along, and we waited some more.

Last night, I got a text message from Laura that just said: IM me.

So I did. Since we don’t belong to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, I had a good idea what she wanted, but I was nonetheless thrilled to get the news. I have a book deal. As of now, I’m also writing paranormal romances for Berkley Sensation. You can find these awesome books under the name AVA GRAY. I’ll soon have a website set up, but I’ll have links from Ava’s site to this one, and vice versa.

In case anyone is confused, Annie Dean is retired. You need not remember that name for any reason. When the domain expires, that site will go “poof” and no more books will be forthcoming. AVA GRAY suits the tone of these romances better, and any pure romances I write in the future will be published under AVA GRAY. Clear?

Here’s a sneak peek at Kyra and Reyes:

He was a hitman sent to kill her; she was a con artist who counted cards to the tune of two million from a casino in Vegas.

Before her dad bought into the idea he could work the system, they traveled together like Moses Pray and Addie Loggins in Paper Moon. Those were the happiest times for Kyra, even if they didn’t enjoy a conventional existence. But her dad found a “foolproof” system that would let him beat the house at any casino. She didn’t want him messing around; she’d heard they were made men, mob-connected, but her dad wouldn’t listen.

He promised Kyra life on easy street, but he got caught—and wound up with a punctured lung. With his dying breath, he told her who was responsible—and she set out to humiliate the bastard who had her father beaten and left for dead, Gerard Serrano, owner of The Silver Lady.

First, she staked out the place, learned his habits. Then she studied his sexual preferences and the kind of women he preferred—and turned herself into his ideal. That meant a new name, new identity. She even stored the only thing her father left her, his 1973 Grand Marquis. It took a good six months to work her way into his inner circle.

For Kyra, faking it came easy. She possessed the gift of absorption; it permitted her to steal someone else’s best skill for a limited time. She could be a gambler, a fighter, an athlete, a musician, an artist—anything she wanted…until the clock ran out. A lesser adjunct of this ability was called transference. If she wanted to, she could snatch a talent and pass it to somebody else.

Kyra made herself date Gerard, stringing him along, but she never gave him any satisfaction. She refused him anything more than kisses. The time in Vegas was the longest she ever spent in one place, the biggest con of her life, but it was so worth it when he proposed.

She took his ring and then gambled it at the tables, using a skill she’d stolen from a card counter nearby. When she won millions at 21, she held up a sign for the security camera, knowing Gerard would see it eventually. “Sorry, I was only in it for the money. Thanks for the stake, but I’d rather DIE than marry you.”

Like all good pros, she took the money and ran. Gerard became a laughingstock, the butt of all jokes. Furious and humiliated, Serrano began taking steps to make her preferences a reality. Nobody got away with screwing him over. Nobody.

That was where Reyes came in.

Before Reyes terminated her, he had to find out where she hid the cash. Gerard Serrano didn’t just want her dead; he wanted his money back, and then he wants to be there when she dies. For all Reyes knew, his employer might intend to record it as an object lesson to those who cross him. If Gerard Serrano was ever going to regain the status he once enjoyed, he had to prove to his peers that some little chick did not, in fact, get the best of him. He needed to put her down hard, or he’d never shake the stigma, never get the upper hand in Vegas again.

As he hunted her, Reyes didn’t realize what Kyra could do at first, but he sensed there was something unusual about her, and he never acted without having all the facts. He needed time to figure out what made her tick, and would receive a performance bonus if he recovered part of the two million before offing her.

That meant joining her on the run, and trying to unearth her secrets, including where she stashed the loot, since she hadn’t been flashing any of it around. Kyra wasn’t an easy nut to crack, but she was hungry for sex, starved for physical contact. She never touched unless she means to steal, denying herself pleasure, so she was ripe when he made a move. She found his dark, dangerous appeal all but irresistible.

But Kyra surprised Reyes by giving him the slip in the morning. She was perfectly capable of taking what she wants from a man and moving on. Getting into Kyra’s world wouldn’t be as easy as he thought…

These will be strong, kick-ass action romances with more sexxoring than you’ll find my urban fantasy or SFR, but I do expect to have quite a few crossover readers. They will explore “Talented” individuals finding their perfect mates — not in the sense that they’re predestined to be together, but in finding that one person who isn’t affected by the supernatural things the hero or heroine can do. I definitely won’t shortchange you on heat or the falling-in-love thrill. I’ll just combine it with high octane action.

I hope you’re as excited as I am. Now is zee time on zee blog ven ve dance!

Posted in about me, announcements, books, the squee heard round the world, writing

36 Responses to Dance monkey says… paranormal romance

  1. katiebabs says:

    I am so doing the snoopy dance at this moment for you!!
    You are taking over the book world!!

  2. I KNEW it’d sell! I knew it! Woo hoo! Rock on with your bad self! HUGE CONGRATS!

  3. JaimeK says:

    Squee heard round the world is totally right on the mark!!!! Right on! I am very happy for you and I am very happy for me – more books by you to read!!!

    Keep movin’ and a groovin’!!!


  4. Ann Aguirre says:

    Thanks, you guys.

    I’m thrilled to bits to be writing sexy paranormals for Berkley Sensation.

  5. katiebabs says:

    Hey I am a self proclaimed perv, so bring on the sexy paranormals!

  6. Ann Aguirre says:

    What do you think of the sneak peek, Katiebabs? Kyra and Reyes are kinda awesome, I think. Should I post a brief excerpt?

  7. katiebabs says:

    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  8. Ann Aguirre says:

    White lights sparkled ahead, dazzling proof of city and civilization, and he studied them instead of looking at her profile. Because he wanted to, he couldn’t allow himself to take pleasure in her features. Business, not pleasure, had drawn him here. Kyra had led him a merry chase, but now he had her, and he couldn’t let himself become distracted.

    “No problem.” She paused, and then went on reluctantly, “But I can’t just dump you off on the side of the road.”

    “Why not?” Reyes thought it was a reasonable question. “You didn’t want me along in the first place, and if you hadn’t gotten mixed up in trouble at the service station, you would’ve left me there.”

    Aha, flash of guilt in the quick glance she cut his way. He’d use it.

    “So…” He drew the word out and shrugged. “What does it matter? I had dinner and I got out of Eunice. I don’t feel like scuffling over the rest.”

    That was a big, bold lie. Despite the hour, he felt energized. Reyes wanted to run his hand along the seat between them and curl it around her thigh, just to see how she’d react. He loved her mouth, and it felt like he’d been listening to her voice for days instead of hours. In a good way.

    His muscles twitched like he’d been working out. It ran directly counter to his impression before that he wouldn’t know how to fight if he had to. Whatever she’d done to him—however little sense that made—had worn off. Christ, this woman would drive him crazy before he got the job done.

    “I’m sorry about that,” she said finally. “I didn’t realize I was so transparent.”

    “Only to somebody who’s used to being left behind.” Reyes wished the words didn’t contain so much raw honesty, candor used to cloak deception.

    “Oh.” She exhaled in a little sorrowful sound that made his hands curl up into fists on his knees. “Look, I’ll get you a room tonight,” she added. “I can afford it.”

    He wore this persona like a second skin, but he’d never before permitted glimpses of himself to show through. Reyes refused to let her disconcert him further. He had a job to do.

    So he forced a smile. “I don’t want one, unless you’re sharing it with me.”

    “That’s not going to happen.” She tried to sound firm, but he caught the faintly breathless way she pronounced the “h”.


    That was when he decided to indulge himself. He wouldn’t cut loose, but he could play with her a little. Reyes finally slid his hand along the seat as he’d envisioned over the past hours.

    His palm settled near her knee, just above the ripped fabric of her jeans. It wasn’t a threatening touch, more of a promise. And that same chain reaction shuddered through him, like an orgasm, only smaller, quieter. He felt drained again, but this time he was ready for the feeling, and he tried to capture its nuances for later study.

    Her reaction betrayed her utterly. Instead of taking one hand off the wheel to slap him away, her fingers tightened at ten and two. Her thigh went rigid and then, ever so slightly, her knees splayed outward, as if willing him to go further. Wanting him to slide his hand higher.

    Was that what got her off? Risk? Danger? He didn’t move. Heat spilled from his skin to hers. Then he began to draw delicate patterns along her nerves, etching with his blunt nails.

    “You didn’t answer me,” he said then.

    “About what?” She didn’t look at him. Didn’t ask him to stop. A shiver coursed through her, and he didn’t think it was from the wind blowing between their cracked windows.

    “Your name.” He slid his hand a little higher.

    Her top clung to her breasts, damped by perspiration. No more than a scrap of lace and thin layer of cotton covered them. In the tunnels of light cast by passing cars, he saw her nipples perk. Reyes thumbed her inner thigh, caressing as if he touched bare skin.

    “Mmm. Kyra. I’m Kyra.”

    “Pretty.” Inwardly he exulted that she hadn’t lied. “I should know it if I’m going to keep doing this. Am I, Kyra? But understand—if I take my hand away, I won’t put it back. So be sure of what you want before you give your answer.”

  9. katiebabs says:

    *pant pant* :mrgreen:
    You are too kind.

  10. Phyl says:

    Congrats Ann/Ava! :wink:

    I really look forward to reading these. It’s nice to hear of something a little different in the paranormal genre. The description and excerpt really whet my appetite. Any vague idea on a release date for the first one?

  11. Ann, that rocks. HUGE congratulations!!

  12. Stacy ~ says:

    Sounds wonderfully sexy and I’m completely onboard. Congrats on your exciting news!!

  13. Julia says:

    Sounds very exciting and fun! And I’m crashing the dance party – :cool: can’t wait to see more – and congrats!

  14. Ann Aguirre says:

    Thanks, everyone! That’s one of my favorite parts — and you should read the heat of what follows. :grin:

    Oh wait, you will!

    Phyl, right now it looks like you can expect the first Ava Gray title (to be announced after it has been determined by marketing) in fall or winter of 2009. I thought they were kind of different too.

    I’m super excited about these books and I’m delighted y’all are too.

  15. Lori T says:

    Congrats Ann!! That is so exciting and I am definitely looking forward to these. How exciting is that. I am thrilled for you.

  16. Alexandra says:

    congratulations Ann

  17. azteclady says:



    Now, to wait…

    Here’s me, waiting.

  18. katiebabs says:

    *Pass a bottle of wine to AL as we both wait… anxiously…*

  19. azteclady says:

    *passing dark chocolate to katiebabs*

    *drumming fingers on desk*

    *looking at calendar*


  20. Has says:


    Congrats!!!! Ann :grin:

    I cannot wait to read this, and I love the fact there will be MORE books to look forward to!
    Thanks for the snippets and I hope you will have a fantastic holiday!

  21. katiebabs says:

    *munches on dark chocolate*
    *Ponders if a time machine is possible*

  22. Katie says:

    Congrats! Can’t wait to read these new books!!!

  23. MaryKate says:

    Woohoo! Awesome news, Ann!

    Congratulations! Can’t wait to read the new book.

  24. Angie Fox says:

    Yay! Doing the happy dance for you. I can’t wait to read it.

  25. Lorelie says:

    Dude I am in awe of your busy-ness! Congrats!

  26. Pamk says:

    big congrats and I for one cannot wait this sounds great.

  27. JaimeK says:

    Azteclady: pass me some o’that chocoohhlat….I am busy waiting too…
    (please know that was spelled incorrectly for emphasis. =]_)

  28. Chris in New Mexico says:

    :grin: Soooooo happy for you and me and all of us and doing the “Makarena”.

    You know Ann, I just finished Grimspace and what I especially loved (besides the cool action …. it will take some months until my toe nails grow back from being in such suspence) is that you really fit in the love scenes, erotic and sex scenes so naturally and smooth. I hate some books, who are really solid and good, but the sex scenes seem to be an afterthought, as if the author said, oops, got to have those, so just crunch them in, if they fit or not.

    I love your idea of your new paranormal series. Again Congrats!!! I can’t wait to get to your next book. Yesterday I was in Hastings here in Roswell and found your “Grimspace” book way in the back and upper shelf. I took it in the front to the “new books” isle, I hope a lot of people will be able to enjoy your world as I did.

    In case you want to put in some crazy German scientist or evil guy or really cute German girl, let me know, I’ll help you with the language, as I am German ;)

  29. Bonnie Dee says:

    I don’t know how you find time to do it all or how you keep all these different story worlds straight.

    I probably missed something, but what happened to the Touch series? (which I realize you’ve renamed). Is that still ongoing too?

    So you have the Jac stories and the Touch series and now these paranormal romances? Three different series, is that right? Wow!

  30. Cynthia Eden says:

    Great news, Ann!! Congrats!! (Sorry this is a bit late, I’ve been in a copy-edit cave.)

  31. Ann Aguirre says:

    Thanks for all the kind words and congratulations. I’m answering briefly from Acapulco (just about to head to the beach).

    Bonnie, yes, I’m writing the Jax series, the Corine series (formerly Touch) first book which comes out in April ’09, and then the paranormal romances. They are three different worlds, but the parnormal romances are not a series per se.

    Each book will be self-contained and take place in the same pervasive world, basically a new couple getting their HEA along the lines of Sherrilyn Kenyon or Nalini Singh.

    As to how I keep it all straight, well, ask me in a year after I’ve been juggling for a while. :grin:

  32. Jeri says:

    Woo-hooooo!!! I can’t wait to read these. *bows to your productivity* I’m not worthy…

  33. Pingback: Ava Gray – New Romance Heroine on the Rise « Lurv à la Mode

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