When writing Year of the Demon, I knew that new characters would have to be introduced to help the romantic leads Debbie and Jett (human host)/Shaker (demon) to expand their world, as well as a new threat for them to clash with. Initially, I added several more demons, a handful of humans, and even a formidable faerie sorceress to up the action/conflict ante. But as I wrote, something key felt missing; there was love and passion, but little heart and empathy. Being the animal lover that I am, I decided it was time that Debbie embraced the love of pets by getting a dog. But how to add an animal (and its realistically often messy needs) into Debbie’s world of chrome and glass when her biggest love was her film company Pandora Productions? Debbie had no experience with pets of any kind. She would never think to get a pet herself. Even if someone suggested it, she would respond that she didn’t have the extra time to care for an animal, which would be correct. She would have to understand that her dog was worth making time in her busy schedule for. So the dog would have to be a gift from someone for a compelling reason that she agreed with, and to fit within the story, the animal would have to be something more than a mortal dog.
Enter Guardian, the hellhound.
In celebration of Debbie’s pregnancy following her marriage to Shaker, Shaker’s brother Titus gifts Debbie a black lean mastiff with a beaten metal collar to be her guardian and protector. Able to come out of any nearby shadow at Debbie’s call, Guardian appears and intercedes several times to protect Debbie, holding everything from a murderous priest to a vengeful ghost at bay. Guardian also can nod to show he understands her words, though he cannot talk. But like a real dog, he requires food and water, even if he never has need of a walk.
In time, Debbie begins to rely on Guardian as more than a protector, and he becomes her confidante and companion that she lets sleep on her bed every night, especially after her miscarriage. He opens the way for other relationships and balance to come into her life, helping her to realize that while her career is fulfilling and worth sacrificing for, work is not the sum total of her life. She’s achieved acclaim and fortune with Pandora Productions, but there’s a world outside her computer screen that she’s missed out on, until now. Debbie finds not only the need to change her life priorities, but also the desire to want more out of life for herself.
CEO Debbie and demon Shaker’s first year of partnership was a smashing success for both Pandora Productions and their own new intimate relationship, ending with the announcement of their engagement last New Year’s Eve. Shaker now inhabits a human host, Pandora’s rising action star Jett Black, putting the possibility of a family within Debbie’s tentative grasp as the couple pledges their love at the altar. But as before, one crisis after another ensues, beginning with Titan’s push to assimilate Pandora and the death of Debbie’s father, bringing her back together with her estranged family, and into the sights of a demon-hunting priest, Father Matthew, who will stop at nothing to not only send Shaker back to the Hell he came from, but also ensure Debbie is free of sin…permanently. When Shaker is sent back to Hell, Debbie is left bereft, her team of allies decimated, her best friend in a coma, she must decide if she will succumb…or rise from the ashes and fight ruthlessly for everything she loves, no matter the cost.