Title: Screaming Spires
Series: The Cavaliers #2
Author: Georgiana Derwent
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Vampire
Format: Ebook, Paperback
Length: approx 100 000 words
Publication Date: April 12th 2013
A Tale of the Posh, the Privileged and the Paranormal...
The Cavaliers are the most elite society at Oxford University - rich, powerful, and beautiful. No one realises that they are no ordinary students, but a group of aristocratic vampires from the English Civil War. For four hundred years they have groomed the most promising students to run the government, police, and finance in the way the vampires wish, granting them eternal life in return for absolute obedience.
In her first year at Oxford University, Harriet French became inextricably tied to the Cavaliers. Now Harriet’s back at Oxford for her second year. Armed with a vampire boyfriend, some great friends and the truth, she’s expecting an easier time. She’s wrong. Her best friend is now a vampire and the Cavalier who turned her to save her life is facing death for the one good deed he’s ever done. Just when it seems that things can’t get any worse, the Cavaliers’ ancient enemies decide to strike at the heart of the society and they’ve got Harriet in their sights.
Screaming Spires continues the story of an ancient vampire conspiracy and the ordinary girl caught in its web begun in Oxford Blood.
Excerpt:“Dance with me,” someone said suddenly, taking hold of her hands in a way that left no room for argument.
With a sinking feeling, Harriet recognised George’s voice. She forced herself to stay calm as she looked up at him, pristine in his tailcoat and Cavalier bowtie.
“Dance with you? Are you insane? You killed my cousin. You kept my necklace hidden for weeks. You mesmerised me whilst they drained Caroline. If I had the strength, I’d kill you.”
George smiled and shook his head. “No you wouldn’t,” he said firmly, leading her onto the dancefloor.
Before Harriet had a chance to take stock of the situation, they were in the middle of the marquee. She moved to the music as though she had no control over her body, allowing herself to be alternately spun around by George and pulled into him.
“So don’t I get a thank you then?” he whispered after a particularly vigorous twirl.
“I don’t know how you have the nerve even to speak to me, never mind to ask for my thanks.”
“I gave you what you wanted,” he said, pulling her closer. “I gave you your best friend back. If I’d asked you beforehand, what would you have said? Let her die or change her?”
Harriet was finding it difficult to concentrate on the conversation. The marquee was hot and full of people; the music was loud; the dancing was too vigorous. She needed to sit somewhere cool by herself and get her thoughts in order. Instead, George’s deep green eyes were boring into her, his cool hands were gripping hers, and it was becoming harder by the minute to remember all the terrible things he’d done. Harder still to push him away.
Read additional excerpts and Georgiana's take on bad boys
Believe me, I’m not the sort to give into peer pressure, even coming from someone like you.”
With a smile, he ordered one double G+T, and mercifully, one plain tonic water. He passed her the latter with a flourish and gestured towards a relatively quiet corner of the heaving bar. Harriet finally managed to spot her group. Olamide and Josh raised their eyebrows but gestured for her to go.
“So, what exactly is, ‘someone like me?’” he asked, once they’d wedged themselves into a quiet part of the back bar. His voice was extremely posh, even by the standard of some of the people she’d met over the last few days.
“As if you don’t know. The sort who firmly believes no girl will say no. To a drink or to anything else.”
“Oh indeed. I’m a walking stereotype. Entitled. Arrogant. Think I’m God’s gift to women.”
“Your self-knowledge is outstanding,” she said sarcastically.
“Well, I find it easier to mock my faults than do anything about them,” he said with a grin.
Harriet felt once more that uncomfortable combination of revulsion and desire. She took a sip of her drink to try to keep calm.
Ah, bad boys. Show me anyone who likes romantic fiction of any sub-genre, and nine times out of ten, I’ll show you someone who has a soft spot for the arrogant, wild, womanising characters. Time after time, I’ve seen lists of people’s favourite romantic heroes, and it really does seem like the nice guy finishes last.
I was reading an amusing article on a book blog over the weekend, and it listed some spoof titles the blogger would like to see. The one that really made me laugh was “"A group of Debut Young Adult authors get trapped in their own books. Is that psychopathic boyfriend sexy now?"
I don’t write YA, but it still hit close to home. When you’re creating romantic leads out of nothing, you can make them look and act and be any way you want. If writing doesn’t actually allow you to bring your dream man to life, it’s definitely the next best thing. There are two main romantic interests in The Cavaliers: Tom and George. They are both extremely good looking, rich and intelligent. So far, so much like most people’s real life dream men.
However, both of them regularly seduce women for a combination of blood and meaningless sex. They are both fantastically arrogant, both about their own charms and about the likelihood of them getting what they want, whether that’s a woman, a sporting prize or a prestigious job. Tom, the nominal good guy has killed at least one innocent person whilst George has killed hundreds over the centuries. If you met them in real life, knowing all this, then forget the soft flowing hair, perfectly sculptured cheekbones and aristocratic British accents - the only sensible course of action would be to run.
Personally though, I love my characters, and I’ve had plenty of reviews from people who feel the same about one or both of them (with George, definitely the worst of the two, winning the battle for readers’ affection by some margin). So what is it that makes characters like this so attractive?
I guess the first thing to say is that most people are able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Yes, you get some people who write love letters to serial killers or stay in horribly abusive relationships, but most of us are able to get a little thrill from reading about a dangerous lover, then have the sense to get together with someone decent. It’s much like reading a spy story - yes, it’s exciting, and yes we might like to daydream about having such an exciting career, but in practise, few of us would actually want a job where the risk of death and torture was a daily problem.
As far as the thrill goes, reading about a dangerous, unsuitable man is a bit like taking a ride on a rollercoaster or watching a horror film- your body gets all the adrenaline of being in a scary situation without being in any real danger. Or perhaps it’s not so much danger as intensity without emotional risk - think about some of the situations in romantic novels, where either the love interest is veering between love and hate, or he’s utterly infatuated with the heroine, won’t leave her alone, would kill for her. It’s exhilarating to read, but in real life would be quite exhausting.
I write vampire fiction, and one of the things I love about that genre is that I can forgive fictional vampires a much longer list of sins than fictional humans. Partly, it’s because I think there’s nothing worse than a vampire who’s basically exactly like a human. For me, they have to be a bit amoral, or there’s very little point. Partly though, I think it’s because they are so detached from real life. If a vampire has a string of murders in his past or gives in to his instincts and attacks you the first time he meets you, that’s just his vampiric nature. He’s lovely really. When it’s a human character, I can’t help but think how I’d react if a potential boyfriend mentioned all the people he’s attacked or a date told me how he seduces a different girl each night. Oh yes, I know - extremely negatively!
I think there’s a sliding scale here, with my tolerance dropping the closer the setting of a book gets to my own life. I love paranormal bad boy characters and can cope with them in historical, fantasy or futuristic novels, but give me the same sort of character in a contemporary novel and I’ll usually end up throwing the book across the room in disgust.
I think this is part of the reason that most contemporary romance novels that play with the bad boy trope tend to have the character in question be rich and/or powerful and/or famous. I think it helps to create that gap between fantasy and reality in much the same way as having them be a vampire. I’m not sure i’ve ever come across a story with a charming bad boy office worker - for most people, that would be too close to home.
So what traits to bad boys need to make them work? My number one criteria is that there has to be something to love about them below the surface trappings. For me, the test of a character is whether they’d still be interesting to read about and a good match for the heroine if they were average looking with an average income - if they are charming/funny/skilled/intelligent/share lots of interests etc etc then they pass this test.
I think they also have to have some redeeming qualities and that there’s probably a line they can’t cross - although different people would probably have very different opinions on where that line should be drawn, and my own views on it shift back an forth. Actually, I’d love to know people’s view on where the romantic bad boy/ irredeemably evil villain line lies.
For me, though, the most important quality of all - even though they may not show it all the time and they may go off with other people - is that they have to really and truly love the heroine. I think that’s actually one of the things that attracts readers to this sort of character - the idea that whilst they see everyone else in the world as someone to either be attacked or cynically seduced, they actually have real feelings for the heroine and see her as a person in their own right. And really, whilst no one should want their lovers to take such a sociopathic view of the rest of the world, I think everyone likes the idea of being the most important person in their partner’s life.
“You’re not that desperate for my blood. You could have brought any girl and drank as much as you wanted whilst she was neatly hypnotised.” Harriet spoke quietly so as not to draw any further attention to them, but her voice was full of anger. “You just want to impress him, don’t you? Show him how his stepdaughter has fallen for your charms. Well I’m not playing your stupid games.”
“Please Harriet. You know it’s not like that. I’d be lying if I said that sort of thing wasn’t spurring me on a little. But I was attracted to you that night at the club when I didn’t know who you were.”
Harriet glared at him. “Yes, to the extent of wanting to use me as a snack and one night stand.”
“That’s unfair. You’ve been letting Tom give this awful impression of me. Besides, I’ve loved tonight. Since that night on the Steele Walk, I’ve thought endlessly about the taste of your blood and the feel of you. You’re great to talk to, you stand up to me, and you seem more real than most of these pampered princesses.
“I’m standing here now, and I can smell you and feel your pulse and the softness of your neck. Believe me, the last thing I’m thinking about is politics.”
So, how do you feel about bad boys in general? And if you’ve read any of The Cavaliers Series, what do you think about mine? Do you like them better in some genres or setting than in others? And where do you draw the line - are there any acts that would make you unable to crush on a fictional character however sexy and charming then were?
“This is a beautiful spot,” George said dreamily. “I’m tempted to say something cheesy like ‘nearly as beautiful as you’”
Harriet laughed. “Go ahead. I’m all for cheesy romance. When it’s coming from the right person at least.”
“The right people being arrogant, entitled toffs, clearly.” With that, he drew her even closer and kissed her.
About the Author:
Georgiana Derwent read History at Oxford University. Aside from the vampires, The Cavaliers Series is an exaggerated but fairly accurate portrayal of her time there. She now works in London and lives with her fiancé. He’s been very supportive throughout the writing of her books, mainly because he likes to claim that all the most attractive characters are based on him.
Georgiana fell in love with vampire novels after reading The Vampire Diaries back in 2000. At the time it was a struggle to find any similar paranormal romances, a situation that it’s fair to say seems to have been rectified in the last few years. She now loves paranormal series, fantasy novels, and modern literary works in roughly equal measure.
Ever since her teens, she wanted to write a vampire series. Ever since going to Oxford she wanted to write a book about her experiences there. During a dull few months between finishing university and starting her graduate job, she had the idea of combining the two and The Cavaliers Series was born.