By Blood by Tracy E. Banghart
Series: By Blood #1
Publication date: February 18th 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.
Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby half-brother, and it’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can’t fix. Even worse, there’s (hot) live-in research assistant Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he’ll be witness to her family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.
But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom...and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.
Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.
By Blood is a novel about the ways that blood can bind us to others – or tear us apart.
PRAISE FOR BY BLOOD
“By Blood effortlessly transports you to the cobblestone streets and small pubs of Oxford, and Emma’s sassy voice pulls you right into the story with its hot British boys and touch of magic. A must read!” —Susanne Winnacker, author of Impostor and The Other Life
“A five star read from start to finish. Un-put-downable!” —Vanessa Garbin, author of the forthcoming Captivate
"Emma's sarcastic, biting narrative and the lure of Celtic myth and magic constructs a brilliant book to cosy up with...if you dare!" ~ 21st Century Once Upon a Times blog
"Love this book! It's a sweet little gem and I am glad that I got to read it! If you are looking for a story that is fun and quick, then I would recommend this book. You will want to know what happens to Emma in the matters of boys, family and adventure!" ~ Sarah, Me My Shelf And I blog
Probably it was just lack of sleep and not the consumption of cider that made my heels skitter dangerously against the cobblestones as I tottered my way back towards the house. As I walked, my mind flickered aimlessly from thoughts of Colin’s wolfish grin to wondering if the graceful swashes of graffiti on the concrete wall I passed were Arabic. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t make myself concentrate on anything useful. Like walking straight. Or where I’d put my purse.
I got halfway down the block before Josh caught up with me. “Hey, wait up,” he said and grabbed my arm when I stumbled a little.
“So did you punch him?” I giggled. If there had been a fight, I was glad Josh won. He kept his hand on my arm as we walked.
“What?” Josh asked.
For a second I couldn’t remember my question; I was too busy imagining Josh’s fist connecting with Colin’s too-pronounced jaw. Ha.
“You know, all that testosterone back there…” My hand reached over of its own accord and squeezed his bicep. “I thought we were going to have an international incident.” I’d never had a guy fight over me before. Not that Josh had fought over me. Not really. Though he’d had a protective vibe going on that was kind of hot. Not that I thought he was hot. Well, I did, but—
Suddenly my heel caught on the edge of a brick and my ankles wobbled. Josh tightened his grip on me and I tried not to lean on him too heavily as he led me forward.
“Jeez. You don’t hold your liquor very well. Are you okay?” He really did have beautiful eyes: clear cobalt blue with dark rings around the irises.
“It’s not like I’ve had a lot of practice,” I replied. “And yes, I’m fine. It’s just my shoes.”
“Not just. But I see your point. Those heels look lethal.”
There was something sexy about a guy who could appreciate my death-defying footwear. I flicked the boot’s stiletto heel in his direction, showing off a little. And teetered. My arms flailed and my elbow made contact with some portion of Josh’s anatomy. He grunted and I wobbled more. Oh crap. I was going down. Even worse, another of my ridiculous giggles spewed out. Just my luck I’d be the silly giggling girl with a broken ankle.
Before I could do real damage, though, Josh caught me, strong hands on my waist. He held me close, chest to breasts, until I was steady again on my feet, and then let his hands move to my wrists, a final reassurance that I wasn’t going to go toppling over.
My eyes trailed downward, drawn by the pressure of his hands on my arms, and widened when I saw a small sparkly box hanging from his wrist.
“My purse!” I exclaimed with relief.
He hastily handed it to me, as if he’d just remembered that he’d been carrying a lady’s purse around. “Oh yeah. I figured you’d be wanting that.”
I threw my arms around his neck, my exuberance knocking him back a step. “Thank you so much. You just saved my life. Seriously!”
Before my brain had a chance to catch up to my body, which was reveling in the feel of his warm, steadying hands on my waist, I stretched up to give him an enthusiastic kiss on the cheek. And somehow made contact with his lips.
I didn’t even have time to close my eyes and enjoy it.
“Whoa, whoa there.” His hands fell from my sides as if I’d burned him, and he took a big step back. “It was no problem. Really.” He reached out, without moving any closer, and gave me an awkward, brotherly pat on the arm. “I think we need to get you home. I didn’t realize one drink would be such a big deal for you.”
Oh no. What was I thinking? I stood frozen, mouth open.
Josh walked a few steps, but when he saw that I wasn’t following he paused.
“Come on, Emma.” His eyes were shadowed, hiding his expression.
I didn’t want to follow him. I wanted slink to the ground and slither away, find a hole somewhere, someplace where I could die of embarrassment.
SOUNDTRACK FOR BY BLOOD
To get in the mood to write By Blood, I listened to British pop music for the fun Oxford touristy bits and dreamy, atmospheric songs for the Druid rituals. Some of my favorites:
Follow Me Home, Sugababes
Sin Sin Sin, Robbie Williams
You Never Get What You Deserve, Starsailor
Goodbye My Lover, James Blunt
People Got a Lotta Nerve, Neko Case
On My Way Back Home, Band of Horses
Your Heart Is As Black As Night, Melody Gardot
First Love, Adele
Cannonball, Damien Rice
Criminal, Fiona Apple
If You Want Me, from the movie Once
Finding My Own Way, Charlotte Church
The Moon and Sky, Sade
~ THE BEAUTY OF A BADASS CHICK~
One of my biggest role models when I was in high school was Buffy Summers, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Growing up, I constantly felt like I had to prove I was just as strong/smart/brave as the boys. And here was Buffy, a short, dainty blond chick who was constantly underestimated…and then totally kicked people’s butts.
The truth is, being a girl can be awfully scary sometimes. It’s just a fact of nature that we’re often shorter or weaker than our male counterparts, and that can lead to moments where we feel powerless or out of control.
Emma, the main character in By Blood, is a short, curvaceous chick, but it was really important to me that she also be strong enough to take care of herself. Not with special powers, but with knowledge and a little skill. Her dad’s a cop and she helps him teach self-defense classes, so she has the tools to defend herself (which, yes, she has occasion to use in By Blood! ;-)). Here’s a little peek at one of these classes:
Dad moved to stand behind me, then simulated a slow-motion attack so I could demonstrate as I explained the best techniques to evade or incapacitate an assailant. I walked the girls through “SING” – solar plexus, instep, nose, groin – and they laughed at the funny face Dad made when I pretended to hit him in the crotch.
“Remember,” I said, “it doesn’t matter how tall or short you are, or whether you’re in shape.” I made a grand gesture that started at my black sneakers and swept up purple leg warmers, black leggings, to the loose gray tunic that clung to my curves. “I’m not exactly intimidating, right? I’m shorter than most of you for one thing. But that doesn’t mean I can’t protect myself.” I shifted my position, ready for the next move. “The more we practice, the more muscle memory we build, so our instincts when in danger will be the right instincts.”
Now came the best part—the part that got the oohs and aahs. Dad reached over my shoulders and before you could say “speeding ticket” I had him on the floor, belly up on the mat. The girls started clapping and a couple laughed in surprise. Dad grinned up at me. I loved that he let me lead the class, and that he was okay with me throwing him around in front of a bunch of girls. Not all cops were cool like that. Not all Dads either.
There are lots of places to take self-defense classes, and resources online and elsewhere that can give you tips on how to protect yourself. As Emma says, you don’t have to be in great shape or a black belt to save yourself in a scary moment. All you need is knowledge – and maybe a little practice!
Here’s an example of some good self-defense tips!
Tracy E. Banghart is a cheesy movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.
Giveaway Prize Pack #1 (US only)
Signed paperback copy of By Blood
Plus (all hardcover):
Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray
Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini
The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting
Jane, by April Lindner
By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead, by Julie Anne Peters
Sean Griswold’s Head, by Lindsey Leavitt
Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi
Slide, by Jill Hathaway
Wither, by Lauren DeStefano
Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma
Giveaway Prize Pack #2 (Intl)
Signed paperback copy of By Blood + $50 Amazon Gift Card