Kinky Vanilla Romance is pleased to share Redeemed Love, book five in the Sulfur Heights series by M.S. Brannon. In this post, you'll find an extended excerpt and interview. I hope that you'll find Brannon's author Q&A as interesting as I did.
Outwardly, Jeremy Evans is a typical guy, the calmest of the Evans brothers. He’s obsessed with cars, enjoys the company of beautiful women, and is devoted to his family. Inwardly, however, Jeremy is a ticking time bomb. Torn between what’s right versus what’s wrong. When the attempted rape on Darcie occurs, Jeremy finally loses the battle within himself. The pure hatred for Sulfur Heights consumes him and escape is all he thinks about.
One year later, he is secretly engrossed by the drug-infested underworld. Jeremy’s double life leads him on dark and sinister paths of drugs, violence, and rage. The Evans family is destroyed after Presley’s murder and consequently, Jeremy’s arrest. He’s sent to prison where he’s forced to survive with the mistakes he’s made on his conscience. However, only one thought lingers. It consumes the years he spends locked in a cell. Retribution.
Cami Ryker used to have a picture perfect life. She was loved by her family and happy with her life until her brother’s sudden death tore her family apart. Cami is forced to care for her ailing mother and assume the responsibilities of a normal adult. However, when the bills are paid and her mother is tucked away for the night, Cami likes to cloud her mind in order to escape her daily struggles. Late one night, a stranger trolling the streets rescues her in a dark alley. The mysterious stranger will become one of the most important people in her life until the day he’s sent to prison.
Four years later, Jeremy is released and seeking redemption for his mistakes, but the betrayal is still thriving amongst the Evans family. Will Jeremy finally find the solace within to gain the forgiveness from his family that he desperately craves? And is it possible for Jeremy to save those he loves and exonerate himself in the process?
**Mature Content Warning** 17+ for language and sexual content**
“Really?” Jake screams and steps closer. “You’re not sorry for getting Presley killed? All of that had to do with you. You know that, right?”
“I was trying to protect her!” My belly is touching Jake’s and we are going to blow up on one another. I can sense it.
“How were you protecting her? She’s fucking dead, Jeremy! Take some goddamn responsibility for what you’ve done!” Jake pushes on my chest, but I don’t waver.
I stand my ground and wait for him to hit me. Once he hits me, then my switch will be fully turned over. The beast is pacing like a rabid animal inside of me. He’s screaming and clawing, trying to get out of me, but I can’t allow that to happen. Jake will be dead if it does. The red is seeping into my line of sight, and soon, it will consume me. Soon, there will be no stopping it. I need to assess what’s really happening right now. I am on the verge of killing my brother, my twin. I will never be able to live with myself if I allow that.
I take a step back and expel deep gasps of air. I turn my back and thread my fingers behind my head. I need to walk. I have to get as far as I can away from this situation before it moves from bad to worse. I slowly walk away from Jake, hoping he doesn’t pursue. Yet the more I move away, the more my inner beast beckons me to attack. I am fighting to keep him inside, but it’s impossible when I’ve been that horrible person for so long.
My skin is lit on fire, and I feel like I’m boiling from the inside. Sweat is generating and makes my skin slick. I grab ahold of the back of my shirt and rip it over my head. My bleeding arm is aching, but I ignore it. I toss my shirt to the ground and walk to the garage. I stalk back and forth, trying to keep myself from losing it when suddenly the anger is too much to bear. I pull my fist back and slam it into the wall. My knuckles crack loudly. Instant pain shoots through my hand and up my arm.
I want to feel the pain, though. I need to feel the pain. I deserve to feel pain. I torture myself some more and start laying blow after blow into the wood. I smash my fist into the unforgiving building until I cannot stand another second of it. Then, I release a loud, guttural scream. It’s a scream in anger and agony.
When I turn to face my brother, I’m looking at two of them. Reggie is standing beside Jake, arms crossed and indifferent. Jake, on the other hand, is staring at me in disbelief. He is studying me and trying to see if I’m the brother he used to know. However, the look in his eyes is telling me I’m a stranger. They’ve never seen this side of me before, and it’s the part of me I’ve been living for years. I’m familiar with and comfortable in this mind’s state.
My breathing is labored and the pain in my arm is growing to great heights. I can no longer stand the intensity as it burns my entire arm. I fall to my knees and hold my wounded hand against my sweaty chest.
As Reggie looks to me, his indifference finally fading, he sees me for the brother he once loved and falls to my side. I hold my head up and connect my eyes to his. They are filled with worry and concern. I’ve done an amazing job destroying my family, but the little part of me that’s left hopes my family can see I really do want to be with them. It will just take me time to shed my past.
“What happened to the brother I used to know?” Reggie’s voice is quiet and scared. Not since Darcie’s situation with Robert have I ever seen Reggie this frightened.
I glance down at the ground and try to think of what happened to his brother. I rack my brain, digging in the depths of my memory to find out what the hell happened to him—to me. Nothing comes to mind other than my execution. The Jeremy Evans they knew and once loved is dead.
I look back to Reggie and answer as honestly as I can. “He died a long time ago.”
Get the other books in the Sulfur Heights series
~ Scarred Love ~ Only 99 cents!
~ Tragic Love ~ Only 99 cents!
~ Blind Love ~
~ Surviving Love ~
M.S. Brannon was born and raised in the Midwest. She still resides there today with her wonderful husband and son. When she is not writing or reading, M.S. Brannon spends time with her family, watching movies, and discovering new music. She writes romance because she believes love and heartache is the rawest emotion one can experience.
What about your characters surprised you while writing Redeemed Love?
I was very surprised the way Jeremy’s character morphed into an angry, malicious man. I always knew he was darker, but it really took me by surprise how dark he truly was. It was amazing experiencing it, and then helping him slowly dissolve the hate.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Oh, man. This is such a hard question. But, if I have to choose one it would be the end of part one. He has accepted his fate, the punishment for the life he’s lead thus far. It’s a powerful part when he has to tell Cami goodbye and finally own up to his crimes with his family. The long walk to the police cruiser he transforms himself into the only person who will keep him alive while he’s in prison—the beast.
What scene was the hardest to write? Why?
The ending was the big climax of the entire series and I wanted it to be just right. Drake finally gets to see his brother face to face and the emotions are high, I submerged myself even more into the final chapters. I was nervous writing it, because I knew it would be filled with every single emotion humanly possible.
Redeemed Love is the fifth book in the Sulfur Heights series. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I will write where the story takes me. I rarely outline and when I do it’s only to organize my thoughts. It’s uncommon if I follow it completely. So I am very proud with how the story turned out. On a side note, I wanted to write not only Jeremy and Cami’s future several years down the road, but I wanted to do it for all of the main characters. Plus, my fans are craving the epilogue for the Evans Family. And that’s how Everlasting Love came to be. However, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about the villains of Sulfur Heights. Their angry and tragic stories fascinate me.
Who would you cast in the roles of Jeremy Evans and Cami Ryker, if your book were to be optioned for a movie?
I am never any good at this because I don’t really know popular actors. When I was writing I saw a young, buff Tom Hardy sans tattoos for Jeremy Evans and for Cami, a young Roselyn Sanchez.
Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write? If so, please describe that reader.
I don’t really have a particular type of reader in mind when I write. I have a variety of readers and most of them enjoy the unexpected stories I write. As long as the reader can handle the darker side of love and life then I believe my stories are for them. Some readers preferred not to finish my series because it’s not filled with sunshine and rainbows, and you know what…that’s okay with me. As long as the reader understands I will probably not be the fluffy HEA type of writer.
What’s your biggest challenge as a writer?
Time, is always a huge struggle of mine. I work a full time job and have a very busy family life, so I write in my spare time, which is from 3AM to 6AM. And I do this because I love writing so much and I want this to be a full time career for me someday. However, it's a grueling schedule and keeps me very busy.
How did you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?
After three years of maintaining this schedule, I finally took a break. I gave myself time to recharge my battery, so to speak, and now I’m ready to rock again.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
After a fan read Scarred Love, she reached out to me and thanked me for writing such a deeply emotional survival story. She related to the subject matter and experienced many of the same types of abuse from her own father. I was very sadden, yet overwhelmed with her bravery to be a survivor and not a victim. Her words touched me deeply, and I will never forget it.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I wrote my first book in secret. There were only a few people who knew I was writing it. When I hit published, I finally told my friends and family I wrote a book and where to buy it. Their reaction was awesome.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you, in any way, either growing up or as an adult?
I love so many authors and my favorites change as often as time, but I cannot list them all. However, I will always reread the classics, such as, Gone with the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird.
What project are you working on now?
Last Call—romantic comedy, yet will pull on your heart strings
Everlasting Love—the final installment of the Sulfur Heights Series
Forbidden From You, Forbidden From Me—romance/suspense
Believing In Brave—YA novella
Summer is a great time to start a new book series. With longer warmers days on hand, I love to binge read an entire series. My first binge of the summer is the Sulfur Heights series by M.S. Brannon. It is a five-book new adult contemporary romance series surrounding the Evans brothers, a tight-knit but troubled family.
The synopsis of Redeemed Love above really gives you a good summary without revealing too much so I'll won't add much to it.
Can I just say that I read Redeemed Love like I was watching a horror movie? You know, you start with your hands covering your eyes. Curiosity gets the best of you and you peek through the gaps in your fingers. Then you just can't look away...
The book's main character, Jeremy Evans, silently lurked through the other books in the series. You never knew quite what to make of him. He was the consummate man of mystery. SMH. You should always beware of the quiet ones.
Redeemed Love is broken into two sections.
Part One: The Underworld drops you into the belly of the beast, so to speak. Jeremy is involved with the seedy underworld of drugs and violence - in an attempt to make a lot of money fast so that he can move his family out of Sulfur Heights toward a better life. Brannon really lowers the boom.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Part Two: Aftermath is about Jeremy's road back from Hell. It is bumpy and heart-breaking. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train. It's love for Cami. It's love for his family.
Redeemed Love is a story about the ties that bind - romantic and familial. It's a dark romance filled with secrets. While it can be read as a standalone book, I highly recommend that you start at the beginning of the series. It is a gritty complex family saga. While it ain't all rainbows and sunshine, I think that you'll really enjoy Sulfur Heights.
I am looking forward to the upcoming release of Everlasting Love, the final installment of the series. I have hosted giveaways for Scarred Love (#1), Tragic Love (#2), Blind Love (#3) here on the blog this summer. You can check out the links to get a synopsis of each one.
NOTE: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.