Friday, August 14, 2015

Madison's Song by Christine Amsden (VBT, guest post, excerpt and GIVEAWAY)

The Greatest Love of All
by Christine Amsden

I spent a lot of time listening to the song “The Greatest Love of All” as I wrote my newest novel, Madison's Song. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the tune – on the one hand, learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all. But I disagree that it is “easy to achieve,” at least not for all of us.

Neither the title character, Madison, nor the romantic hero, Scott, love themselves at the start of this book. Madison is an unlikely heroine – shy and plump, with low self-esteem, she's been betrayed left and right but still comes back fighting when someone she loves is threatened. Scott, meanwhile, fights an inner demon (a literal one – a werewolf) and doesn't believe he deserves the woman he loves.

A lot stands in the way of a relationship between Madison and Scott, but most of all, I think, is the fact that neither one of them believes they are fundamentally lovable.

I've often thought that to really be able to love someone else, you need to love yourself first. Oh, there are degrees – narcissism is just as big a problem as self-loathing – but you need to see that there is something inside you worth loving before you can accept the love of someone else. Otherwise, how can you believe “I love you” when he says it? They are only words, after all.

I don't go searching for themes in my books, but they always find me. Feel free to simply enjoy Madison's Song, without looking for deeper meaning. Or think about the importance of learning to love yourself – even if it's difficult to achieve. 


Madison's Song

Blurb:  Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black...

Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison's nightmares are not.

Despite her fears, when Madison's brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.

Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton's home only to discover that he's vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she's not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott's are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.

*Stand-alone companion to the Cassie Scot series


Chapter 3

“You do realize that I'm a werewolf, not a vampire,” Scott said after a time. He sounded agitated.

Madison glanced down. Her fingers, she realized, had been toying with the crucifix she wore tucked beneath her shirt. She had bought the necklace after a series of local vampire attacks and had been wearing it ever since. Now, toying with the pendant was just another in a long line of nervous habits she couldn't seem to break. Or if she did, another bad habit would take its place. She had spent a year learning not to bite her nails, only to discover she had nearly chewed her bottom lip off in the process. She stopped doing that, and started twisting her hair, breaking the once beautiful strands. She'd cut her hair short and now she was back to chewing her nails, figuring they were at least a less prominent feature than her hair and lips.

“Sorry.” Madison dropped the pendant, then had to talk herself down from chewing on a nail. This was going to be a long trip.

“It wasn't an accusation. I was trying to start a conversation.”

“Oh,” Madison said. Well, she'd wanted to start a conversation, too. She should follow his lead, but all she could think to say was, “Sorry.”

“Stop apologizing for everything. It's annoying.”

“Sorry.” Oh God, had she really just said that? If she were Cassie, she would have played it off like a joke. That sounded like a good idea, so she forced a small smile.

Scott smiled back. “Cheeky.”

It had worked. Madison's smile grew wider. “Sorry.”

This time, he laughed. He looked so much more human when he laughed. Had she ever seen him do that before?

“It is made of silver,” Madison said. “Doesn't that count for something?”

“Only if you melt it into a bullet.”

“Telling me your weaknesses? Isn't that risky?”

“No. Because first of all, it isn't true, and second of all, you won't tell anyone it isn't.”

“What makes you so sure I won't tell anyone?”

His smile disappeared, replaced by his usual brooding expression. His green eyes grew dark and impenetrable, reminding her of how little she knew about this man. “You wouldn't do anything to hurt Clinton, would you?”

“No. Of course not.” Madison looked away. So much for her attempt at levity. She shivered, and returned her gaze to the window.

“You know, I'm actually trying to help you. I didn't have to take you along. Do you think you could try not to be afraid of me, at least until moon-rise?”

Madison's head snapped back around. “It bothers you that I'm afraid of you?”

“Yes, it bothers me. I-it bothers me.”

Madison stared at Scott's profile for a long minute, trying to figure out what to make of him. She had tried to see things from his point of view before. Countless times, as a matter of fact. Intellectually she knew he had done nothing to her that hadn't directly led to his saving her life and even her soul. Emotionally, on the other hand...

There remained so many unanswered questions about that night. She couldn't bring herself to ask them, but they floated through her mind nonetheless: How had he even known she needed help? Why was he so far from his usual forest so close to the full moon? And why had he stayed away from her afterward? She wanted to understand that most of all, because there were moments when she swore she thought he wanted her. She could be wrong – she had little experience with men and she wasn't exactly a leggy bombshell like that woman he'd been with earlier in the night – but the way he often looked at her... She didn't want him to look at her like that; it terrified her, but he had saved her life. And sometimes, she was almost afraid to admit to herself, she liked the way he looked at her.

“Why does it bother you that I'm afraid?” Madison asked instead.

“Why does it-?” Scott turned his head slightly, scowling at her. “What kind of question is that?”

Madison pushed away her instinctive reaction to his scowl. He wasn't going to hurt her. The wolf inside him wasn't Scott, he'd said so himself minutes before she'd seen the truth for herself in the beast's eyes. And Evan had assured her that wolves could only shift at the full moon. It was the only assurance he had ever given her about Scott; mostly, Evan liked to unnecessarily reinforce her fears.

“You're scowling,” Madison said.

Scott's lips straightened and he turned back to the road. “I was?”

“You do that a lot.”

“I didn't realize that.” He frowned. “Maybe I've gotten hard. I didn't used to be that way, but dealing with a pack of werewolves all the time... I guess it's my turn to apologize.”

“It's okay.”

“No, it's not.” Scott sighed. “And no, I never wanted you afraid. I just didn't think there was any other choice.” He paused before adding, “Is there?”

“Yesterday, I'd have said no.”

“And today?”

Madison hesitated. “Today, there's a werewolf out there who I love and need to find a way to support no matter what.”

“Okay,” Scott said slowly. Then again, “Okay.”

“Maybe we could get to know each other a little better.”

“Okay,” he said again. “Why are you wearing the cross?”

Madison looked down at the cross, which she was once again twisting between her fingers. “I bought it after the vampire attacks a while back, but I like wearing it anyway. I am Catholic.”

“You are?”

“Go to mass every Sunday. Sing in the choir.”

“Huh. I wouldn't have expected that from Evan's sister.”

“Half sister,” Madison corrected. “As in long lost and not raised together. My parents were both Catholic. I mean, my mom and my adoptive dad.”

“I'd just think being Catholic would make you think magic was evil or something.”

Madison shuddered. It wasn't the religion at all, it was entirely Phillip Carter. Father Owen had even said that her voice was a gift from God. Of course her gift wasn't exactly magic, but Father Owen didn't know that. Madison still had trouble grasping the difference some days.

“You do have a problem with it,” Scott said. “Is that why you and Evan have been having problems?”

“We're not having problems, exactly, and no, it's not the reason.” Madison had never thought of magic as being evil in other people, only in herself. When she thought about the logic there – or lack thereof – it made her head hurt, but didn't change her feelings.

“Interesting,” Scott said, as if she'd just told him a lot more than she had.

“This is getting awfully personal,” Madison said. “If you're going to ask me about all this, you should tell me something personal about yourself.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, I don't know.” Madison cast about for a subject that wasn't related to his monthly transformations. She wasn't ready for that yet, though she knew she would have to be soon. Unfortunately, the only other subject she could think of was almost as difficult to bring up. “Tell me about that woman who was with you tonight. Jessica?”

Scott's jaw tightened, but he kept his eyes on the road ahead of him. “She's a bitch.”

“A werewolf, you mean?”

“That too.”

Madison almost laughed. Almost. But she saw from the fixed expression on his face that he was absolutely serious. “You really don't like her?”

“She's one of the most selfish women I've ever known. She's not attracted to me, she's attracted to power. She's constantly asking me to work magic for her, and she's in love with my position as alpha. In the few months we've been together, she's already lorded it over the other females in the pack. I've had to intercede a couple of times.”

Madison looked straight ahead into the sunrise, trying to figure out why someone like Scott would be with a woman like that if he hated her. It must be the legs. Men went crazy for long, thin legs.

“She's pretty,” Madison said after a long pause.

Scott snorted. “Not my type.”

“What's your type?”

He glanced at her, his eyes raking her face and torso, settling for a few extra seconds on her chest before returning to the road. “I like curves.”

Madison's cheeks went red. Before she could stop herself, she had glanced down at her own chest, which she'd always thought was too big, much like the rest of her body. But Scott couldn't mean it. He'd only said that to unsettle her. And it was working.

“Anything else you want to know?” Scott asked.

“Why are you with her if she's not a nice person?”

“I'm not a nice person.” He paused then added, quietly. “I'm not even a person.”

“Oh, Scott.” And for the first time in his presence, Madison didn't feel afraid. She felt something else entirely.

Buy Links

·Barnes and Noble
Paperback Release: October 15
Audiobook Release: TBA

The Cassie Scot Series




About the Author

 Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

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My review:

4.25 out of 5 stars

Madison's Song by Christine Amsden is a paranormal story that is connected to the ‘Cassie Scot’ series and centers on Madison Carter, who has had to deal with multiple issues related to werewolves, but none so challenging as the news that her beloved brother Clinton has been bitten by a werewolf.  Scott Lee has never found a way to get past the life-changing experience he shared with Madison two years prior, with discouraging results for both of them.  Unfortunately, there are even more dangers to them and those they care about than ever imagined and they will have to find a way to utilize all of the powers they can muster to fight the evil that threatens to destroy them.

This intense paranormal story has both magic urban fantasy blended in an exciting tale.  There are several aspects that I found uncomfortable to contemplate but the twists and turns of the story and the rising action makes this a fascinating and compelling read.  Despite the fact that this book is tangentially connected to the ‘Cassie Scot’ series, it can be read as a stand-alone, although it provides some interesting insights about some of the characters from that series.  This story differs from many other paranormal tales by focusing on the feral nature of werewolves and emphasizing the danger of dealing with an animal that loses its humanity when the beast is dominant.  It is wonderful to watch Madison’s maturation and the strength of character that develops and the overarching theme is perfectly reflected in the words from the story, “How can you know love until you can learn to love yourself?”  A few issues were not resolved to my satisfaction and I found some of the scenarios a little awkward but I was captured by the action and anxious to find out how things were going to be resolved.

This is an exciting story that will appeal to those who love paranormal tales with a twist of magic, but be forewarned that it is not for the squeamish.  There are a few threads left dangling to tantalize, so hopefully there will be more stories to give additional glimpses of these complex and compelling characters.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review.


  1. Thanks so much for being part of my tour, and for the review!

    1. Thank you for the opportunity to read your lovely book, it is an excellent addition to the collection of works set in this world. Good luck on the tour and congrats on the release!

  2. Replies
    1. Glad you liked it, Mary, it gives a good sample of their dynamics. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  3. I have a terrible fear of heights and flying and I had to fly on company business and didn't have a choice. I managed to do it but I'm still not a fan of flying.

    1. Sorry to hear that, Linda. I love flying because I find it to be such a marvelous accomplishment...but I an understand, especially given the events that have been occurring lately. I am glad that you were able to control your fears long enough to get where you were going and back again! Thank you for visiting!