Thursday, November 7, 2013

Xpresso Presents A Book Blitz For Lessons Learned by Jillian Neal

Lessons Learned by Jillian Neal
(The Gifted Realm #2)
Publication date: October 30th 2013
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy


One, breathtakingly hot, passion-filled, night ignites a fire in his soul. Everything in his world should be nothing short of perfection…but he is Rainer Lawson.

His wild evening with Emily is the Realm’s front-page story. Could he have lost the respect of the man that has been like a father to him? Could his family’s hard-earned fortune really dissolve before his very eyes?

Evil rapidly cinches its chokehold, and everything his father fought and died for threatens to implode. Rainer attempts to protect those that he loves and satisfy the fiery passions between he and Emily, but everything in his world is spinning wildly out of control. His desire to prove himself could very well be his undoing.

Sometimes the best of intentions are not enough, but perhaps it is the trials by fire that make the man. Steel sharpens steel, and the passions burn white hot in “Lessons Learned.”


Characters Interview:

Jillian: “Welcome everyone! As promised today I will be bringing you my interview with the up and coming power couple in the Gifted Realm, Rainer Lawson, and Emily Haydenshire. Happy Birthday, Emily!” 

Emily: “Oh, thank you.” 

Emily is dressed in a darling hunter green sweater dress folks. She’s matched that with some adorable high heeled brown leather boots and an intricate, large canyon rock, necklace. It has to be one of a kind.

Jillian: “I love that necklace, Emily. Was that a birthday gift from Rainer?”

Emily: “Oh no, thank you though. It’s from Uncle Tad. Rainer hasn’t given me my present yet.” 

Rainer: “Tonight, Miss Haydenshire. Be patient.”

Rainer and Emily have naturally been holding hands since they arrived at the coffee house. She’s elbowing him for his comment. 

Jillian: “Well thank you both for being here with me today and for the interview.”

Rainer: “Well thanks for dreaming us up. We literally wouldn’t be here without you.”

Jillian: “Well, believe me the pleasure is all mine.” 

Emily: “You seem a little nervous, Jillian? Is everything ok?”

Jillian: “Uh...” ok how could I have forgotten that she’s a Receiver. I made her that way. “Oh, I’m ok. I guess I am a little nervous. You’re both such big players in the Realm.” 

Rainer: “Em, baby, I keep telling you, you freak people out when you do that.”

Emily: “Sorry. I just don’t want you to be nervous. We’re excited to be doing this.” 

Jillian: “No, it’s fine. Let’s start there actually. Can you give my readers some kind of idea what it’s like to feel the emotions of other people around you? How do you learn to filter that?”

Rainer chuckles and wraps his arm around Emily. They are just so adorable!

Emily: “Well it does take a little getting used to. I mean,” Emily glances around. “Ok you see that guy over there with the beard? He’s really, really depressed. Like something really bad has happened. He feels really hopeless. So, I’m worried about him, but I can only read his emotions so I rarely know what’s causing someone to feel the way they’re feeling. And then there’s the guy in the back corner that’s pretending to read a magazine. He’s uh been staring at my chest since we walked in, and I can feel his sort of lewd energies.” Emily’s nose wrinkles as Rainer leans forward and shoots an infuriated glare at the guy in the corner. “The lady paying for her coffee is really stressed out, and the barista is frustrated. The little boy over there is happy but he’s got a mischievous streak. That lady over there is reading “Within The Realm,” and she’s kind of getting all turned on. She hasn’t seen us over here thankfully. And that guy over there, I have no idea what he’s thinking about, but I can tell you he’s having very devious thoughts. He could be anything from a mugger, or a murderer, or he may just have given in to a few darker thoughts. I mean everyone has them occasionally. I don’t ever know, but I can feel all of that all the time. The only time I kind of get any reprieve is when I’m in Rainer’s shield. Well, I mean, Logan and Garrett’s shield work the same way, but obviously I prefer to be in Rainer’s.” 

Jillian: “Ok let’s talk about that. Rainer can you explain to us how an Ioses Shield is formed and what kind of protection it offers either you or Emily?”

Rainer: “Sure,” he pauses for a moment to shoot another glare at the guy that is still rather overtly staring at Emily’s cleavage. “Uh, my shield forms out of my cells just like everyone’s Gifted energies, and it comes out of the pores in my skin. It’s a combination of gravitational and kinetic energy along with electromagnetic energies that are constantly switching polarities. That’s how I block out things like bullets. The polarity reversal is actually what causes it to appear green. I can fill my shield with any kind of energy. So, if Em’s cold, I’ll fill it with warmed thermal energy. If she’s scared, I can fill it with my own soothing energies. That’s what I do when the emotions all around her just get to be more than she can take. I can block out all other energies from my shield. Other people’s emotional energies are what her body picks up on so if I block out the energy then she can’t feel them anymore. I form a vacuum that forces everything but me away from her. It’s kind of hard to explain if you’re not an Ioses. I just do it.” 

Jillian: “Interesting. So since we’re talking about your being a Shield tell us a little about working with Iodex. What’s working with Dan Vindico like?”

Rainer: “Uh well, I do love my work. It’s kind of exhausting since I’m just getting used to everything. The Academy really didn’t prepare me for Elite as well I would have liked. Vindico is...well... the fiercest Ioses shield ever. I think I would say he’s kind of like awe-inspiring and terrifying. But maybe don’t tell him I said that.” 

Jillian: “I will never mention that. Did you ever think maybe Dan’s not so bad? He’s had a lot of stuff to deal with. Maybe he has a soft side somewhere?”

Rainer: “ don’t really think so. You may have written him, but I have to work for him.” 

Jillian: “O...K, uh Emily why don’t you tell us a little bit about playing Summation professionally. What’s it like to be an Arlington Angel?”

Emily: “Being an Angel is just amazing. I mean, it’s an honor to be a part of such an outstanding organization. The Angels were the first Summation league for female players and they ultimately worked until we were able to challenge the male teams. Now, women are allowed to try-out for any Summation team. Summation is obviously the only Gifted sport, but since we only have six to ten challenges every year, the Angels focus more on our service projects. We work in orphanages, food pantries, inner-city Non-Gifted schools and daycares, and with the Auxiliary Department of the Senate doing volunteer work. 

Jillian: “Any upcoming service projects coming up that you’re particularly excited about, Emily?”

Emily: “Well, kind of, but that’s in the fourth book and you told us not to give away any spoilers.” 

Jillian: “Right, ok well how about “Lessons Learned” it comes out in two and a half weeks. I’m releasing the synopsis on the site tomorrow. How do you feel coming out the other side of our second novel.

Rainer: “We were morons.”

Emily: “Well, maybe let’s just say we had a lot of learning to do. I think you really see Rainer and I grow up in this novel.” 

Jillian: “I totally agree. What would each of you say was your favorite part of “Lessons Learned?”

Emily gives her signature giggle, and before I know it, her hair is pushed back behind her right ear and her bottom lip locates her teeth. Rainer’s shaking his head at her. 

Rainer: “You know, honestly, I really liked that drive we went on towards the end of the book. That was a great day. That night was horrible, but the day was good.” 

Emily: “I loved that, too! One of my favorite parts would probably be New York. It was crazy, but it was really good too! Very hot, but you already knew that. 

Jillian: “Let’s talk about some of the reviews of ‘Within the Realm,’ we had a few female reviewers that seemed to think you might be a little bit abrasive Emily. How would you respond to the slight criticism?” Rainer huffs audibly and rolls his eyes. I get the distinct impression that he doesn’t take kindly to anyone speaking ill of Emily.

Emily brushes a kiss on his cheek, and he seems to instantly calm. 

Emily: “Well, I suppose, I am me. I mean, I grew up with seven older brothers that were simultaneously terrorizing me and then terrorizing anyone that messed with me. I learned really quickly never to act afraid and not to put up with anyone’s crap. I’m just not the kind of girl that doesn’t really have opinions or thoughts of my own. And I probably do have kind of a temper, but like I said, that’s who I am. And you know, after “Lessons Learned,” I really think that I like who I’m becoming.”

Rainer: “And I love who she is, exactly the way she is. I wonder if people get that I need her to be her. In fact, she is the only thing I need.” 

Jillian: “Well said. All right, let’s talk a little about the upcoming novel. The third in “The Gifted Realm” series will be called “Every Action.” Without giving too much away, what are we going to see coming up for Rainer and Emily?”

Rainer gives me a smirk. He really is such a cutie. 

Rainer: “Well, we do quite a bit of traveling.” 

Emily: “Let’s just say that my family has a really rough time coming up.” 

Jillian: “Agreed. Ok, well your relationship is a little different in that you really grew up together. Rainer you moved to the farm permanently when you were just barely fourteen, and you spent a great deal of time there before that. What was that like growing up together and being so in love? Any stories you’d share with us that maybe we haven’t heard just yet?

Emily: “Well I mean, we never got away with much with all of my brothers there so much. Oh, there’s the you and Levi paintball story.” Rainer looks momentarily horrified. I’m intrigued. 

Jillian: “What paintball story?”

Rainer: “Em you are not gonna tell that story, please...”

Emily: “Oh it’s so sweet. It’ll be fine. Ok, so my brothers and Rainer used to play paintball all the time together. Even Will and Garrett have guns out in the barn and they actually still play, but anyway it was a few weeks after Rainer came to live with us. So he was just fourteen, and you know, when you first kind of finish puberty it’s a little hard to fully control all of the Gifted Energies...”

Rainer: “Em!” 

Emily: “This was so sweet. So, they’re all out there playing, and they’re playing teams. Well, Logan and Rainer kind of gang up and take out Levi and he was the last man on the opposing team. Well, I had just come out to the back fields, and when I saw Levi go down I started cheering. Well, Levi was furious, and he turned around and shot me with the paintball gun. He wasn’t that far away, and he left huge whelps on my thigh.”

At this point Rainer’s head is in his hands. 

Emily: “So, Rainer just gets really, really mad. And he’s an Ioses that had just kind of gotten all of his energies so his shield just sort of explodes from him, and somehow he threw Levi back like ten feet. He couldn’t control it, but he also couldn’t hold it very long. Levi got up and came after him. Will and Garrett had to pull them apart. Mom and Dad were really mad.”

Jillian: “Wow! Levi is quite a bit older than you two. That must’ve been some shield.”

Rainer who is now the color of a beet nods his head.

Rainer: “I saw the whelps, and she started crying. I just lost it. I threw him before I even felt my shield develop. I was just as shocked as everyone else. It’s like that for a few months after your energy is fully in place. It’s really powerful and really hard to control. It’s quite a change.”

Jillian: “Ok, well why don’t you tell us one about Emily?”

Rainer chuckles as he begins to consider my offer. Emily is already blushing. 

Rainer: “Oh, how about when you were five and decided we were all gonna play hair salon with you?” Rainer begins laughing hysterically. Emily’s eyes squeeze shut. 

Rainer: “Ok, so Em had just gone to the salon with her mom, and she comes home and somehow convinces me and Logan and Connor that she can cut hair.”

Emily: “No, I promised if you’d play with me that I’d give you all my Easter candy.” 

Rainer: “That’s right. Ok, so she starts like wetting our hair down and combing it and stuff, and I don’t think we knew that she was really gonna cut our hair. She brought out the Crayola scissors, and we all looked like deranged elves.” 

Jillian: “And the Governor said...?”

Rainer: “I think he just sat us all down and gave us buzz cuts. There wasn’t much that could be done but let it grow back out. Oh, and as I recall she did have to give us all of her candy and lost her scissor privileges.”

Emily: “I think that was very harsh.” She can’t really get her statement out without laughing. 

Jillian: “Well I really can’t thank you both enough for sharing with us today. I really appreciate it! You were both great!”

Rainer: “Well, I mean, can we ask you some stuff? Since you write us and all?”

I consider this for a moment. 

Jillian: “Uh, well, maybe a few. I guess...”

Rainer: “Ok, first, why do you feel it necessary to always tell everyone whenever my pants get tight. I mean, it’s a little embarrassing.” 

Jillian: “Uh well... I suppose that I want to tell your story to the best of my ability, and I am a romance writer so that is part of your story. I don’t think you should be embarrassed. It’s a perfectly normal reaction.”

Rainer: “Right... uh you know all of the guys on Elite that Logan and I work with read your stuff. Do you know how many hard-on jokes we’ve heard lately?”

Jillian: “Sorry... I guess...?”

Emily: “Oh, what about the trial with Adeline’s mom? Is she going to have to go to jail because of that horrible woman?”

Jillian: “You know guys, I’m really sorry, but I have to get back to work. It’s been so great talking with you. Happy Birthday, Emily!” 

Excerpt 1:

“Logan please stop here. Just for a minute, please!” 

Logan nodded he studied Rainer speculatively, but without question he pulled into one of the parallel spots on the back side of the cemetery. 

“Do you want me to come with you?” Logan offered. 

Rainer knew that whatever he wanted is what Logan would do. Even if they never went to Coriolis and were fired for it, he would be there for Rainer. Certain that he’d never deserve a friend like Logan Haydenshire, Rainer wanted to be alone. He tried to give Logan a reassuring smile but wasn’t able. 

“I’ll just be a minute.” 

“Take as long as you need, man.” With that, Rainer threw open the door and took off in a heated sprint towards the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He rushed over the hallowed ground. Rainer ran faster not certain his feet were hitting the ground as he moved behind the largest of the monuments and headed west. 

He hated that he knew how to find the spot so readily. He halted and walked as a funeral was taking place and respect was clearly something Rainer needed to work on. He felt his throat close and tears threatened to burn his eyes. He nodded his head as he passed Cal Haydenshire’s cross grave marker. Keeping his head bowed he moved to the monument at the end of one of the endless rows and fell to the ground. He summoned instantly. He watched as his father’s name and birth and death dates appeared in the marble. His parents had been buried in Arlington because of the sheer number of Non-Gifted lives they’d saved in their quest to make certain that the Gifted didn’t abuse the Non-Gifted with their powers. 

Rainer moved slightly and turned his cupped hand outward. He watched his mother’s name appear. He sat there staring at the letters and numbers, lost for several minutes. He wasn’t certain why he’d needed to come so badly, not certain what to say, or how this was going to fix anything at all. He just sat staring at the marble headstone. The granite representation of all he’d lost and all he’d given up, of what had made him who he was, the devastation that had defined him. 

He knew his father would’ve been just as disappointed and horrified at what he’d done to Emily, as Governor Haydenshire. Rainer felt sick. 

“I’m sorry,” he blinked back tears. “I just don’t know how I screwed up so badly. I just…” Rainer wiped away the hot tears that flowed down his face. “I’ll never be as good as you.” He shouted the thought that had haunted him since he’d watched his father’s casket lowered into the ground at fourteen years old. He pled to the pitiless granite and the merciless air around him.

“I don’t think that’s true, man.” Rainer spun around. He gasped as his heart flew. Logan, worried about Rainer, had followed him. “And I don’t think he expected you to be perfect, Rainer.” Logan sank to the ground beside Rainer. “I mean, at least Em’s not going to end up in jail because of a belly shot.”

Logan turned back to the monument and bowed his head. 

“S’up, Governor Lawson?” He offered. Rainer felt a smile form on his face. “He’s a good guy, sir. Try not to be too hard on him. He was only doing what Emily asked him to, and you were married, you know women will always get you into trouble.” He vowed to the ether.

Rainer found it very odd to be sitting in front of his parents’ graves, with all that had happened, laughing. After another few minutes, Logan stood and offered Rainer his hand. 

“Come on. Let’s try and clean up the mess we’ve made.” Rainer accepted Logan’s help up. 

“Bye, Dad.” He choked and let his hands run along the cold granite. “I will fix this. I swear to you.” He turned to follow Logan back to the car with renewed fire burning inside of him. 


Excerpt 2:

“Could I maybe get a dance, Miss Haydenshire?” Rainer quizzed flirtatiously. 

Emily giggled. 

“I thought you’d never ask.” Rainer led her onto the dance floor and spun her into his arms. The slow sultry tones of the island band, the lanai lit by Tiki torches, and strung orbed lights, that Nathan had set to glow different colors, gave the entire evening a warm island feel. 

Rainer twirled Emily around the dance floor and whispered how much he loved her as he slid his hand further down her back. 

“Watch your hands there, Mr. Lawson.” Governor Haydenshire teased as he danced Mrs. Haydenshire beside Rainer and Emily. 

“Yes sir,” Rainer moved his hand back up instantly which made everyone laugh. Logan cut in, and Rainer danced with Adeline. He took a break and got he and Emily some punch, while Governor Haydenshire danced with Emily. He set the punch back at their table as the song neared its end. Rainer edged back onto the dance floor towards Emily and her father. 

“Can I cut in?”

“No,” Governor Haydenshire quipped. Emily laughed heartily. 

“Aww, please Daddy. He’s really cute.” Governor Haydenshire shook his head with a wistful grin.

“I never have been very good at telling you ‘no.’” He kissed Emily’s cheek and handed her back to Rainer. 

A slight breeze picked up as the night wore on, and Rainer felt a chill as the hair on the back of his neck stood. He took in the guests as they laughed, danced, and all enjoyed the party,

Suddenly everything shifted. Emily froze on the dance floor. She shivered and clung to Rainer. 

“Em, what’s wrong?” Rainer panicked. He searched the area frantically as Emily’s hands flew to her head. She shook her head. The black energy was too close. She could hardly breathe. One of the wait staff was handing Mrs. Haydenshire a cup of punch. 

Then as Emily hushed, “Rainer there’s someone here that’s not supposed to be. I feel them.” Rainer watched as Vindico’s eyes goggled and he shoved two men out of his way. He knocked the glass from Mrs. Haydenshire’s hand just as she’d taken a small sip. It shattered on the tiled floor.

“That’s, Vasquez!” He shouted to Rainer and Logan. He threw his arm out to the member of the wait staff that was fleeing the scene. They hadn’t recognized him in the catering disguise complete with hat and glasses. 


Jillian Neal is a New Adult author with a passion for passion. She tells strong character driven novels told from the male perspective. Her guys aren’t afraid to let us inside their minds or inside their bedrooms. Young love comes to life inside the author’s Realm along with sinister crime fighting, mixed in with a hearty dose of family. The engaging adventures will stretch your mind and keep you coming back for more.

Jillian lives outside of Atlanta with her husband, and children.





Twenty Questions With The Author

Author Jillian Neal has agreed to play “20 Questions” with us today. She will answer yes or no to the questions we come up with about her “Realm.” We’re going to let Jillian have 4 skips because we don’t want to give too much away. Ok, here we go…

1. Will we ever get to find out the identity of Adeline’s father? – Yes

2. Is it Dominic Wretchkinsides? – Skip

3. Chief of Iodex Dan Vindico seems to be such a hard, driven character. Will we get to find out why he is the way he is? –Yes

4. Will we ever get to see Vindico not so angry? – Yes

5. So far the series has focused primarily on Rainer and Emily. Will all eight books of the series be about them/told from Rainer’s POV? - No

6. We love Sam. Will we see more of him and hear more of his words of wisdom? – Yes, of course!

7. All of the Haydenshire brothers seem to be fairly straight laced. Do we ever find out why Garrett is such a wild playboy? – Yes, but not in this series

8. Will Garrett and Chloe Sawyer ever end up together? – Skip

9. Will we get to know any of the other Arlington Angels better? – Yes

10. After the events in “Lessons Learned” are we finally done with “Uncle Stan?” – No

11. Will we ever see Adeline gain confidence in herself and her abilities? – Yes

12. Is Adeline going to be incarcerated because of her mother, Candy Parker? – Skip

13. Will the “Press” ever leave Rainer and Emily alone? – No

14. In “Lessons Learned” there are a few real people that you’ve identified as Gifted. Will there be other cameo appearances throughout the novels? – Yes

15. Will we ever hear the circumstances of Rainer’s father’s assassination? – No

16. You’ve mentioned that the Summation teams do a lot of charity work. Will we get to see this and be a part of it? – Yes!

17. Dan Vindico seems to love to push the boundaries of his job. Will he ever go too far to catch a bad guy? – Skip

18. You’ve discussed the Gifted Realm of the United States. Will we ever see Realms outside of the U.S.? – Yes, in the next book actually

19. Will Vera Wang design Emily’s wedding gown? – No

20. You’ve told us repeatedly that the eight books of this series are already written. After those are published, is the story over and done or do we get more of your “Realm?” – No it isn’t over and done. I’m working on the third series involving the Gifted people. 

If you’d like to check out Jillian’s “Gifted Realm,” visit her site

The Power of Words

Well, my eldest DS has a math project that is due this Friday. The basic premise of the project is to prove that the world is driven my math. We have to gather things like graphs, store receipts, bar codes, business cards, coupons, and the like to show all of the many ways that we use math each and everyday. Now, mind you, I have no real issue with mathematics, other than I hated every single math class I was ever forced to endure. DH essentially guided me through high school math. Each day when we weren’t involved in some other vastly more important detail of our relationship like staring longingly into one another’s eyes, or discussing how disillusioning it was that our parents were so misguided in their thoughts and how little they knew about the “real world,” or making out, and then kissing, and then making out, oh and there was the kissing... sorry got distracted there for a sex.... no, I mean a sec, like a second... never mind. 

Anyway, when we weren’t doing all of that, he was helping me pass everything from Algebra to Trigonometry. So, when DS said the words “math project,” I discreetly rolled my eyes. He handed me the rubric, and I scowled. “Math Drives The World” was the title. Now sure, I obviously do use math everyday. You know to calculate things like “50% off of summer sandals, or Buy One Sweater get another half off, or 5 pairs of panties for $26.” And these are all very important things, but to me, my world revolves around... Words! 

I love words of all kinds. They fascinate me. I want to know their meanings and their origins. I want to say them and let them swim around on my tongue and feel them as they exit my lips. I am a writer after all. I tell stories by trade. My characters are alive in the words I type. They live in my heart and my soul, and words are the only means I have to tell their stories.

I looked up the definition of “bookish.” The second definition makes me grin. “More acquainted with books than real life.” I’ve been debating a tattoo for sometime. Something that would define me in picture format on my skin. Someone should probably simply artfully write the word “bookish” on me in indelible ink. More acquainted with books than real life... Yes! That’s me in a nutshell!

I’ve always loved to read. The fact that I became a writer seems to have surprised no one but me. Today, here on the site, you can check out my new “Bookshelf” page under the Books heading. Find out what I’m reading, or have been reading, or read over and over again. There’s a shelf of things I read for my writing. Want a clue as to what might be coming up in “The Gifted Realm,” check out what I’m reading for research. 

Yesterday, Rick Riordan’s newest book, “House of Hades,” was released. Children and adults alike joined me in Barnes and Noble to acquire the next part of Percy Jackson’s fantastic tale. I had promised my sons that I would be there when the bookstore opened to make certain that they had their copy. After school, my youngest son raced through the front door, flung his backpack somewhere in the vicinity of my dining room, and clung to the book like he’d been handed a gold brick. The words became his life's breath. He absorbed them until they became a part of him. He read all afternoon, paused just long enough to rapidly consume his dinner, and then right up until the moment that he was forced to put the book down and get some sleep. 

You see, it’s words that can weave an astonishing tale, words that help us defeat formidable foes, words that slay dragons, and words that build castles in the sky. Words got Rapunzel out of that tower. Words defeated Voldemort. Words carried Frodo to Mt. Doom. How many times has someone shouted numbers at you that wounded your soul and brought you to tears? How many times has someone you loved embraced you and whispered numbers in your ear to tell you how much you mean to them? How many times have you shared an integral moment in your life and spoke only in numbers? 

“Math Drives The World?” I think not... but then I am woefully obsessed, forever absorbed, and endlessly fascinated with - words! After all, I'm nothing if not "bookish!"

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