Blog Tour {Review, Q&A; & Giveaway}—Alyx Rayer Chronicles by S.J. Pierce

Stopping by The LUV’NV today is the Alyx Rayer  series blog tour, organized by Xpresso Book Tours.
We have a review of book one and an interview with S.J. Pierce to share with you, 
and you can enter to win an eBook copy!

Alyx Rayer’s existence in Atlanta, the eternally bustling capital of Georgia, is one of routine and blending in among the worker bees. But her ‘normal’ life is actually a façade for a higher calling; she’s a three hundred year old soul, encased in a human vessel and sent from the darkness between heaven and Earth to capture her Marked when summoned by her superiors.

During the initial, routine stake-out of her Marked, a dream prophet named Isaac Walsh, Alyx is thrown for an emotional loop when his allure captivates her heart from two rooftops away. The event marks the very instance when her sense of what’s right and what’s wrong is brutally challenged as her contact with him is strictly forbidden.

While already trapped between honor and desire, her emotional struggles are further challenged by a man in a black suit who continually pops up when she least expects it, his presence evoking a strange response from the scar she was branded with at birth. The scar tingles like a warning beacon, alerting her that something is amiss. Because her superiors never told her what this would mean, or much of anything except what to do when they summon, she can only conclude to try and keep her sanity, and her life, from completely shattering to pieces.

This engaging first book of the series is a Paranormal Romance novel interlaced with twists, turns, and thrilling suspense that is sure to satisfy readers of any genre.

“Where fate would take the both of them now, Isaac wasn’t sure, but either way their paths were irrevocably tethered.” 

Hurled into the midst of a holy war between the sinister fallen Angel of War and their beloved Creator, gifted humans, Angels, and Spirit Guides unite to create a formidable, ethereal army. With the imminent battle only days away, continue to follow the story that captivated your hearts as a Protector Angel named Alyx struggles with her own inner conflicts between right and wrong, love and honor.

Passionate, engaging, and filled with surprising twists and turns—see where fate will lead our beloved Angel next in this second installment of the Alyx Rayer Chronicles.

Review of book one, Marked for Vengeance:
With mounting mystery, characters who are not as they appear, and a dark, purposeful world cloaked in veils of the light and mundane, Marked for Vengeance  is a truly interesting read.

Alyx Rayer is an old soul walking among humans for the third and last time. Her purpose: Locate her mark and keep an eye on him, among other things. For appearance’s sake, she leads a normal life with a job she enjoys and a stable, if not monotonous, relationship with a dedicated doctor. But at night, she aches for more as she watches her mark from the rooftop across his building. 

Enter Isaac Walsh—a widower, single father, and painter who dreams of a beautiful female being with eyes that are entirely black. He’s had nightmares all his life, but the most recent ones are … different, inspiring and, somehow, profoundly telling. His thirteen-year-old son has them now too, though a lot more frightening than his father’s. 

After a chance meeting, Alyx struggles between her purpose and first-time desires while Issac once again finds both after the death of his wife. But the clock is ticking. As destinies are revealed and connections are made, they’ll have to fight for their lives, the world, and what could and could not be. 

Although the first half of Marked for Vengeance  is a lot of building up on the characters’ lives, there’s a good amount of intrigue interspersed throughout. I wasn’t quite sure who was good or bad, what their roles were, and how they played on each other. There was a lot of smoke and mirrors, and it had me turning the pages to find out where everything would lead. 

I would’ve liked more actual action, but the last third of the book was really suspenseful and blew my mind. The world that seemed normal with a few paranormal twists suddenly expanded into a fantasy universe full of chilling creatures and events. 

The overall romance, when it happened, was lovely. I adored the characters and their interaction, but I could’ve done with more of it too. While I appreciate a natural progression, the relationship was slow-going. There was too much “space” between each meeting due to all the personal struggles and internal ramblings. I enjoy romance that coincides and moves with the major conflict, but the pacing of the actual romance seemed unnecessarily dragged out to compensate the stacking mystery—the lack of answers—until the very last moment.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book when I get the chance, though. With a unique blend and twist of angels, demons, and magic, the world that’s revealed at the end is a fascinating. I’d love to read more of Alyx and Issac together. I want see their journey and where it’ll eventually lead not just them but also everyone who surrounds them. If book two’s summary and my interview with the author are any indication, I’ll get more of their forbidden love and a good vs. evil battle.

eARC provided by the author via Xpresso Books Tours. Thank you!

♥ Without giving too much away, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open the Alyx Rayer Chronicles?
Romance, of course, but especially in the first book there is a whole lot of mystery. Mystery surrounding who and what Alyx is, what her purpose is, and how Isaac fits into the picture. I also want to mention that you will discover the answers to these questions by the end, although there are some bigger questions that remain.
♥ I thought the series was Fantasy when I first saw the covers and read the blurbs for the books, but it’s actually Paranormal Romance. What makes it so, and what are the major differences between the two genres? 
Originally I marketed the books as Paranormal Romance, but now I see it more as a blending of the two. There are definitely some strong elements of PNR – paranormal being falling in love with a human – but there is also some Urban Fantasy woven in – a touch of supernatural in a contemporary setting – that is even more evident in the second book. I will say that I was worried about the covers not accurately portraying the content at first, but each one is so perfect for each book, I don’t think I could bring myself to change them!

♥ What are some key concepts that inspired the world of the Alyx Rayer Chronicles?
Angels and demons mostly, but on a higher scale it’s about loving someone who others say isn’t right for you. Sometimes you have to follow your heart. 🙂
♥ Describe the romance. 
There’s more than one thread of romance in the novel, but the main thread could be described as forbidden. And once it comes to fruition, a blending of sweet and steamy. 🙂

♥ Summarize your characters in the form of a motto for each.

Alyx Rayer, the scarred from birth, three-hundred-year-old soul: She was sent by her superiors to blend into society and capture her Marked, Isaac Walsh, when they summoned, although, she doesn’t know why, only that it’s for a matter of grave importance.
Isaac Walsh, the alluring dream prophet: Alyx’s Marked and the object of her obsession. He’s a great father and an all around good guy.
Micah Walsh: Isaac’s son who is his spitting image.
Cindra Jacobs: Alyx’s human best friend, who has a secret of her own to hide. 🙂
Samuel: A Warrior Angel in Book Two who is assigned to Alyx to help with the looming battle. They are also intended to be mates … so how does Isaac fit into the picture now?

♥ Does your main character, Alyx—or any of your characters, for that matter—reflect you in any way? 
I think there is a little piece of me in all of them. I pour all of myself into my writing, so it only stands to reason that they do reflect me in one way or another!
♥ What quality or characteristic do you think all heroes and heroines should have?
Courage and grace under pressure, but most importantly, they have to be flawed to be relatable. Sometimes judgement gets clouded and poor decisions are made, and sometimes we wrestle with our inner demons. Nobody is completely good, or completely bad for that matter.
♥ Here’s a tough one: What do you think makes the Alyx Rayer Chronicles  new and exciting, standing out from other books in the same genre? 
You’re right, that is a tough one! lol To describe “new” I’ll start by inserting a quote from a review (not by a book blogger):

“S.J. Pierce has delivered a story that is perfect for those starving for something different, something bold, something deep and beautiful. For those who are happy with the current crop of books, you may not be ready for this series.” – Mitsy, Goodreads

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard that my books broke away from the standard of others in the PNR genre. And I have to admit, I’m not an avid reader of the genre so I wasn’t entirely aware at first that it was different. For all I knew, I could have spit out the exact same formula as to what was already out there. I do read some PNR, but I also love and read mysteries/ thrillers. I think it helped that I simply love to tell stories, no matter what genre. That way, my brain wasn’t already hardwired for the typical.

As for the “exciting”, who doesn’t love mystery and intrigue? Even though it’s not necessarily “action packed” the entire time, you want to know what will happen. Anything  can happen in my books, and you never know who is up to what. 😉

♥ Five books that influenced or are comparable to the Alyx Rayer Chronicles
‘Comparable’ would be a hard one considering the series is so different, so I suppose I’ll go with ‘influenced’! And I’ll have to throw in some movies too since I’m just as big a movie buff as I am a lover of books. Each has their influences!

One – Kill Bill. This seems an odd choice at first, seeing as to how the heroine, Beatrix, isn’t a supernatural being and Alyx doesn’t carry around a samurai sword! lol But the influence is in the form of her unbreakable will to right the wrongs. She’s been through a lot, and yet, carries on. PS – I’m a HUGE Quentin Tarantino fan!

Two – Twilight Saga. These books introduced me to the PNR genre so I have to acknowledge them in some form.

Three – The Chronicles of Narnia. My first love has always been Fantasy and this was the first series of books I’d read as a child. I read them again and again! The way C.S. Lewis injected insight and meaning into his stories have definitely shaped who I am as a writer. Not every entertaining story has to have a moral, but I would like my readers to walk away feeling like they were better for reading it.

Four – The Host. I know, another Stephanie Meyer novel. But in this one I connected with the characters and found myself crying for several of them, including Jaime, her brother. I wanted readers to connect with mine the same way, so I really focused on developing meaningful relationships and characters my readers would care about.

Five – City of Angels. This was one of the first movies with angels I’d ever watched, and it’s about an angel falling in love with a human and risking everything to be with her. I didn’t base the idea for my series off of the movie, but I can’t deny that it had influenced it in some form, even if I wasn’t entirely aware of it.

♥ How long did it take you to write Marked for Vengeance and Tethered by Fate, the first two books of the series?

It takes about 5 to 6 months for every full length novel I write!
♥ What is the most challenging aspect to writing a series? Did you learn anything while writing book two that you wish you knew while writing book one, creatively or technically?

The most challenging aspect was to make sure that if the reader were to pick up the next book months to a year later, they wouldn’t be completely lost. I didn’t want to “info dump” or repeat things already said, but weave in subtle reminders throughout the story via dialogue or thought. Although, hopefully, they will read the next book as soon as they can get their hands on it. 🙂

My writing is ever-evolving, as it should be. Sometimes while writing Book Two I would go back and read Book One and be like, “ugh … too wordy!” I would then go into clean up mode. And I pick up technical things all the time as I read and research that I didn’t know about before and will, again, go back and clean house if I feel like it’s necessary, but I mostly just try to apply things I learn to future writings or I’d never move forward. Writing is a process, to say the least! lol

♥ What’s the most fun part to writing a series? 
In a series I become so emotionally invested in the characters. I’ve been through every trial and tribulation with them and really want to see their stories come to fruition in a way that suits the overall story. I still get invested in my characters, no matter what length novel I write, but have found that a series gives them a more prominent place in my heart.

♥ Best advice to aspiring authors who want to self-publish? 
Assuming you love writing and want to make a career out of it, you have to stay with it. Don’t expect your first book to be an instant best-seller. Dedicate time each week to write, research and market. And I’ll emphasize the word research. As an Indie, you are everything – the publisher, the marketer, and sometimes even the editor if you don’t hire one – so make sure you are investing your time and money wisely. Most of it will be trial and error, though. Unfortunately!

Also, negative reviews are imminent. Don’t let them get you down! Take what you can from them to better your writing and move on.

♥ Current Obsession:
I’m a huge folk rock fan, and I’m wearing the new Mumford and Sons CD out! Love them!♥ Last thing you Googled:
“Quentin Tarantino” to make sure I’d spelled his name right! lol♥ Guilty pleasure:
Nutella!!! If you’re a chocolate lover and haven’t already discovered this heaven in a jar, you need to run right out to the store and pick up a bag of animal crackers and a jar of Nutella! We have a competition in my office to see who can find the best thing to dip in it … that I started, of course!♥ Character you wish was real so you could meet:
II would want to meet Isaac Walsh from my series. ;)♥ People, whether author or not, who influence your writing the most: 
I think I’ve already mentioned C.S. Lewis, but I also have to mention my fans. They keep me going and are the reason I strive to produce the best novels I can so I don’t let them down!♥ One morning, you woke up in your favorite fantasy world. Where (or whose) is it?
J.R.R Tolkien. I would love to visit Rivendell in Lord of the Rings!♥ Currently reading:
Mad Dog House  by Mark Rubenstein. It’s a great thriller!♥ Book you’re most eagerly anticipating:
It’s already out, but I have a huge TBR pile! The next I hope to start is Hyde  by Lauren Stewart!
Thanks for joining us on The LUV’NV today, S.J.!
Thank you for having me! It was a blast!!!

The author is running a promo of her books during the tour!
The first week of the tour, starting June 17th, the first book will be FREE and the second book will be 99 cents. 
The second week of the tour, they’ll both be 99 cents.

Visit the Alyx Rayer Chronicles  Tour Schedule for guest posts, excerpts, and more interviews and reviews.

S.J. Pierce

Her Website | Facebook | GoodreadsSusan James Pierce has a degree in Marketing Management, works for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, Georgia, and devotes her precious, spare time to writing Fantasy and Sci-fi novels. Even though her full-time career has nothing to do with books at all, she has always enjoyed complex storytelling with fascinating characters and has had a penchant for the written word since grade school. As a matter of fact, her first publishing credit was a poem she wrote at the age of twelve. Why her love for writing never translated into a career, she can only attribute to ‘life happens’, but her wish is that she can redirect her career path into something that satisfies her creative inner-self.

Terms & Conditions:♥ By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 17 years old.
♥ One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive an eBook copy of Marked for Vengeance  OR Tethered by Fate  by S.J. Pierce. Winner’s choice of .mobi, ePub, or PDF format.
♥ Winner will be contacted via email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST July 1st and has 48 hours to reply before a different winner will be chosen.
♥ Prize will be sent the week of July 14th.
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