Guest Post: Character Profile by Laura Kaye + Giveaway

Filed in featured , Giveaways , Guest Post , Laura Kaye , The Needy Lover Posted on January 30, 2012 @ 7:00 am 82 comments

Today at BLI, we’ve got the immense pleasure of welcoming back the ever-fabulous Laura Kaye, author of numerous romance novels that span across subgenres. She stops by to talk about a very special person: Shayla McKinnon, the main character in her latest release, In the Service of the King. Shayla is an intelligent, complex, beautiful badass with a hell of a story to tell. Read on to find out more about her and her world! Please give Laura—and Shayla!—a warm welcome.


Character Profile: Meet Shayla McKinnon


Author Laura Kaye

If you like heroines who go after what they want, you’re really going to enjoy meeting Shayla McKinnon, the heroine of my dark erotic vampire romance, In the Service of the King, which releases February 1 from Harlequin Nocturne.

Where is Shayla from?
Shayla’s family is Irish, but she currently attends university at Oxford and studies Celtic history and culture.

How old is Shayla?
Shayla is twenty years old, the year when human blood is most potent for maintaining the immortality and humanity of a vampire.

What is Shayla called?
Shayla McKinnon is her given name, though the feeding ritual that brings her to Dunluce Castle also makes her a “Proffered”—a human virgin specially trained to service elite vampires. The Proffered is one part of the alliance between the vampires and The Electorate, influential humans with whom the vampires have shared knowledge of their existence in a joint effort to fight the Soul Eaters, evil, addicted vampires who steal human souls by draining their victims of blood then eating their hearts.

What does Shayla look like?
Ooh! I’ll let Kael describe her! I love that first moment the hero sees the heroine!: “For the love of all that was holy, the creature before him was magnificent. Perfectly posed despite the thundering sprint of her heart, her long black-brown hair was braided and intertwined in the traditional way, ribbons and flowers threaded throughout. The sheerest of white silk robes did little to hide from his vision the sexy muscularity of her body. She was not thin, which pleased him. He had once turned away a Proffered for being too thin—he was 250 pounds and nearly feral once blooded, and he’d feared crushing her. Instead, this woman appeared strong, athletic. She was young, to be sure, but also womanly, with curves where women should have curves, with rounded flesh that would fill his exploring hands and strong grip.”

What kind of childhood did she have?
A normal one, totally oblivious to the knowledge that anything supernatural existed in the world, until one day when she was fourteen, and strange men showed up at her house and informed her parents that her older sister Dana had been killed by people known as “Soul Eaters.” That was the day Shayla determined that, somehow, she would find a way to aid the good vampires in destroying the monsters that had killed her big sister.

What does Shayla do for a living?
Having pursued an advanced track through high school and college, Shayla is pursuing a Masters degree at Oxford University in Celtic history and studies.

How does Shayla deal with conflict and change?
Shayla’s direct and assertive, interesting character traits for someone who also has submissive tendencies. And these seeming contradictions are part of what enthralls the vampire king so much.

What special powers does Shayla have?
Well, as a mortal, Shayla doesn’t have any preternatural powers. However, she clearly has some power over Kael. He says: “He would’ve been impressed with her responsiveness if he hadn’t been so completely enthralled by those eyes. Her left iris was a brilliant emerald, nearly rivaling his own in the intensity and clarity of green. Her right, however, was a bright turquoise, touched by green to be sure, but without question a deep, dazzling blue. The effect of her mismatched gaze, paired as it was with her fair, creamy skin and dark tresses, was arresting. His mouth gaped in rapture of her beauty. Powerless to resist, he leaned down and cupped her left cheek in his hand. He stroked his thumb across her cheekbone, his finger playing with the ends of her eyelashes. “You have been touched by magic.”

Does Shayla have a romantic interest in anyone?
Since her sister died, Shayla has dreamed of meeting a vampire warrior along whom she could fight and mete out vengeance. Of course, she recognizes the romantic nature of what is a teenage fantasy, but some part of her holds onto the hope, when she meets Kael, that he might be the answer to her prayers. And she is immediately intrigued and attracted, not just to the idea, or to his kingship, but to Kael, the man.

So, I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into In the Service of the King’s heroine, Shayla McKinnon. Please leave a question for Shayla or her author lady—we’d both be glad to tell you more!

Thanks for reading!
Laura Kaye & Shayla McKinnon

About Laura Kaye
Voted Breakout Author of the Year in the 2011 GraveTells Readers’ Choice Awards, Laura is the bestselling and award-winning author of a half-dozen books. Hearts in Darkness is a finalist for the EPIC eBook Award for Best Novella, Forever Freed won the NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best Paranormal of 2011, and North of Need, the first book in the Hearts of the Anemoi series, was named GraveTells’ Best Book of 2011 and won their 5-STAR Gold Heart Award, and won Sizzling Hot Read of the Year at Sizzling Hot Books. Laura lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Buy Laura’s Books
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Psssst! Heads up, fabulous folks!
To celebrate her new release, Laura is giving away one e-copy of In the Service of the King at each stop on her New Release Tour, 1/30 – 2/15! (More on that at the end of this post!) In addition, all commenters from across the tour will be entered to win a prize bag filled with swag and various vampire items, perfect for the vampire lover! RULES: Must leave e-mail address & if from U.S. in comment. Ebook prizes open to international; prize bag to U.S. only.

Look at all the Grand Prize goodies!

In the Service of the King
Book 1 in the Vampire Warrior Kings Series

from Harlequin Nocturne Cravings
Kael, Warrior King of the Vampires, loathes the Night of the Proffering. He needs the blood of either his mate or a human virgin to maintain his strength, but hasn’t enjoyed the ritual since he lost his mate centuries ago. Kael doesn’t want a new companion, yet his resolve is tested when he lays eyes on his new offering, Shayla McKinnon. He is drawn to Shayla’s beauty and poise…and the submission she offers. She is eager to give him anything he wishes, including her innocence, to please him. Will Kael give in to their overwhelming desire–even if it means risking Shayla’s life? (Click here to read an excerpt of the book, on Laura’s website)



As mentioned above, Laura has very generously offered a digital copy of her latest release, In the Service of the King, to one lucky commenter!
All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment or question about Laura’s post; or if you have a general question for Laura, please ask!

(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please make sure to include a valid email address in the comment form.

This Giveaway is open Internationally!
Giveaway ends on Saturday, February 11, 2012; we will announce the winner on Sunday.
Good luck!

About Alisha

Alisha, the bespectacled and ever nerdy California girl, simply won't leave home without a book in hand. She loves language learnin' and is working toward becoming a bonafide grammar ninja. On any given day you'll find her haunting local libraries or baking scores of cupcakes and sweet treats.

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Join the Discussion
  • aurian January 30, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Hmm great blogpost, thank you. I do have a question though. Those Proffered, not being our heroine, are they given to the king for one night only, or to do with as he pleases for all time?

    auriansbooks at gmail dot com and I live in Holland.

  • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Thanks for kicking off the comments, Aurian. Usually, it’s one night only, unless that night identifies them as mates (you’ll have to read to find out how!). But Kael is intent never to find that out… 🙂

    Thanks so much for hosting me here today, Book Lovers Inc!!

    • aurian January 30, 2012 at 7:21 am

      Lol, every answer means more questions of course. I’ll just have to read the book to find out. Are they sold by their parents to be an Offering, do they volunteer because of a reward or status?

      • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

        *grins* Yes, I’m being evil, aren’t they? Certain humans known as The Electorate are in alliance with the vampires, and some of their children volunteer for the training that may lead to becoming a Proffered. I bet that raises even more questions! 🙂 Thanks for chatting!

        • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

          Aren’t *I* – ack typo!

  • Debi Salanitro January 30, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I love the way Kael describes her when he first sees her. You really feel the tension start to build. By being the proffered does Shayla now give up her studies? was it her studies that lead to her knowledge of the Soul Eaters and Vampires?

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

      Hmmm…how much to reveal? 🙂 A family tragedy is what led her to learn about vampires, and knowing about them fueled her academic interests. How’s that? They do discuss what to do about her degree…

    • Debi Salanitro January 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      sorry forgot to add my email

  • SharonS January 30, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I love the name Kael. How did you come up with that one?

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Thanks Sharon! I’m a big believer in trolling baby name meaning sites to find character names! Kael is a Celtic/Gaelic name that means “mighty warrior” – so it was perfect!

  • Melissa Landers January 30, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Congrats on your newest release, Laura! You’ve got some serious cover karma working in your favor. Gorgeous! And I love the premise. Can’t wait to read. 🙂

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Thanks Melissa! I totally agree! 🙂

  • Char Chaffin January 30, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Great interview, Laura, and fab insight into Shalya and Kael. I’m so looking forward to meeting them. Vampires are my very favorite paranormal read, and it takes a special imagination to bring them to life. You’ve definitely got the imagination! Best of luck with your newest release, and I can’t wait to add ‘In the Service of the King’ to my Laura Kaye library –


    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Vampires are my favorite, too, Char! 🙂 I hope you enjoy!

  • Gena Robertson January 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I love everything about this book, from the cover to the storyline!
    What sparked your interest in Celtic history, Laura? I think it’s fascinating and would love to go on a trip to Ireland myself!

    Thank you for the giveaway chance!

    Best wishes for an outstanding 2012 – I think you are already well on your way 🙂

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Aw, thanks, Gena! I can trace my family back to Ireland in the 18th century, though I’ve never been–so this book was a way to connect into a part of that! Thanks for commenting!

  • Tamara Hoffa January 30, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Interesting twist on the vampire myth. Can’t wait to find out the whole story

  • Diane January 30, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Authors have a way to spin a tale about vampires so much right now, can you tell us how you came up with your spin?

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

      Hmm…good question. Only, it just came to me. I was driving home late one night and Kael was all of a sudden in my head. And then I knew he was a warrior, and a king, and a vampire. And then I knew there was a domination/submission element to his relationship with the heroine. And it just sorta all unfolded from there. By the time I got home, I stayed up til 3 a.m. writing the first 20 pages. It happens that way sometimes!

  • Lillie January 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I’ve noticed that a couple of the characters in your stories have mismatched eyes. Where did the inspiration for that come from?

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Good catch! I knew Shayla had them from the beginning, because I had a very clear image of her right away. I didn’t know that Owen, my hero from North of Need, would have them until the heroine was building the snowman and used mismatched buttons for the eyes, and then it was like, yes, of course! 🙂 I just like the idea of it, though I’ve never known anyone with mismatched eyes… Thanks for the question!

  • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Thanks so much for all the great comments everyone! I’m enjoying reading them and answering your questions!

  • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Hey guys! Be sure you’re leaving your email address in your comments! 🙂

  • Viki S. January 30, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I love the way Kael describes her. My is he smitten ;). I love vampires and know that this will be a great read. I don’t know if I’m saying this right or not but I think you write with vivid clarity.
    Do you have an idea how many books this series will be? And do we get to meet all the future leads in this first book?
    When I first saw that your lead was Kael I thought of Superman ;). I like the Celtic origin.
    Thanks for the hop – I love going on them. We get so much more insight into the book this way.


    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      Hi Viki! Thank you so much for the writing compliment–that means a lot. Two in the series are finished, and I’m hoping there will be 2-3 more (should know shortly!). Because each of the seven reining kings are located in different exotic locations, you won’t meet the second king yet! 🙂

  • Khelsey January 30, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I’m looking forward to this book!! I just finish North of Need and and loved it! I need something good to read.

  • Gena Robertson January 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

    My whoopsie for forgetting to leave my email address! Bad, bad, bad – considering how much I want to read In The Service of the King, lol *facepalm*

    Gena Robertson

  • Filia Oktarina January 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Great interview, and congrats on your newest release, Laura! This interview make me want to read this book. I love story about vampire, especially when that vampire have word tall, dark, HOT and sexy. LOL!!
    Anyway, this book have many series, i hope i can have all series.
    Thanks for giveaway and make international.


  • Joanne B January 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Congrats on the new release. Great interview. Being a “Proffered”., is that a volunteer job or a promise from birth from the parents? I like that Kael doesn’t want someone too thin as he’s afraid he’ll crush her. It proves, he thinks of others. Can’t wait to read this book.


    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Joanne–In this world, certain influential humans know about and are in alliance with the vampires, and some of their children volunteer for an educational program that will prepare them to assume their parents’ essentially diplomatic duties and, if women, they can also volunteer for a training program that prepares them to serve the vampire elite. 🙂 Thanks for the question!

  • Rebecca January 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Laura, I love your books, and vampires in literature is one of my major obsessions. I am writing a paranormal romance right now that has an element of Celtic/Gallic history, and I kind of just fell into it when the story seemed to write itself. (no vampires though) How much background research do you do? And do you find yourself putting your own take into Celtic legends? Also did you read into any classic vampire novels for inspiration? (I love Bram Stoker’s Dracula and find every modern vampire book takes some part of his story an incorporates it in it’s own way.) Lots of questions I know! And thank you for what looks like a well rounded, assertive heroine. (Say hi to Owen!!)

    Rebecca Boucher

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Becca! I did research on names, symbolism (for Kael’s tattoos), the setting (Dunluce Castle and County Antrim in particular), and the medieval history of the area. I didn’t do any special vampire reading before writing this, but have read most of the classics and grew up on Anne Rice… Thanks for your question! Owen says “hi” back… 😉

  • Tonya January 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    So very excited about ITSOTK and very curious to know (sure I’ll have to read about it) How does Shayla and her family deal with finding out that Vampires exist? Did they have any idea before the strange men told her about the sad fate of her sister? Why did they go to the family and tell them? Is it normal to let the family know when someone is taken like that? I am now very intrigued and really looking forward to reading this series.

    Just one more quick question: Are there any previous books that hint to this series or is it completely set apart?

    I live in Georgia, US and email is anacksunamoun @ yahoo .com

    Congratulations and continued success!

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Hi Tonya–thanks for your question! Shayla’s parents knew about vampires because they are part of a group of influential humans (known as The Electorate) who know about and are in alliance with the good vampires. But they had shielded their daughters from this knowledge, until the night other members of The Electorate showed up to break the tragic news. This is the first in the series, I haven’t written anything else in this world before. Though there’s a second that will come out this summer! 🙂

  • StacieD January 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Hello Laura! I love that the heroine is just a regular woman without powers. I find it much easier to identify with a human character. I can experience the supernatural curveballs that are thrown at her through her eyes. I love the Nocturne line. In the Service of the King sounds like something I would enjoy.

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Awesome! Nocturne proves that Harlequin isn’t your mother’s Harlequin anymore! 🙂

  • lori January 30, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Awwww Laura,
    You never disappoint *winks* I love your posts and know I learn something different each time I read one 🙂
    I love the detailed description of the hero/heroine. I also love, love, love the fact that you used a luscious heroine instead of the half starved boney ones that are sometimes portrayed. I love a man who likes some junk in his ladies trunk 😉
    I can’t wait until this comes out!
    Thanks again,
    Lori (

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      LOL! Thanks so much, Lori! I’m with ya!

  • Valerie Long January 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    What a great post Laura! I love learning about the characters in books, makes them feel even more real. I haven’t had a chance to read your books yet but I’m very excited about getting the chance to. =) They sound so great! And this grand prize looks so awesome!! Good luck to everyone!!! =D

    Valerie Long – USA (Topeka, KS)

    • Alisha January 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Ooooh Valerie, yer in for a treat, then! (Couldn’t help but say it, but it’s true… especially if you’re a “characters” person!) ^_^

      • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm

        Yay, Valerie! I hope you enjoy it! And, Alisa, aw, you’re the best!!!

  • Barbara January 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Congrats on the new release, Laura! I’m excited to see a new vampire series! I LOVE character interviews…can’t wait to read/meet Kael and Shayla. Wish I could add more to my comments….but in reading the others, they’ve already asked the questions I would have and commented on the good stuff (luscious lady heroines vs boney maronys..LOL!) Still stalking…er, following. 🙂

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Love it! Thanks, Barbara! Tomorrow I’m posting a similar introduction to Kael – see my blog for the link!!! 🙂

  • Amanda Lawrence January 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Happy release tour!!! Looks like something im going to at to my TBR pile!!!

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Woot! Love that! Thanks, Amanda!

  • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Hey guys–if you have a minute, please consider voting for me for Favorite Author of the Month – it’s based on an In the Service of the King appearance, and it would be suh-weet to win! *grins* Thanks for considering! Go to this link:

  • Viki S. January 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I voted for you yesterday when I saw a link :).

  • bn100 January 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I enjoyed reading the interview. This book sounds very good. I especially liked the hero’s description of the heroine.


  • Kim Wright (Pinkim) January 30, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Hi There, I just love this post, it is so creative…I can’t wait to read the book!! I am so glad you let the King describe her for us!

  • Linda January 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Absolutely love Kael’s description of Shayla; augurs well for the rest of the book :p
    Love your books Laura! I’m still in love with Owen 2 mths after reading NoN & so looking forward to this book. Just voted for you.U have my vote everytime!

    • Laura Kaye January 30, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      Aw, thank you so much, Linda! Your words were a wonderful boost on a blah kinda day! (being here aside, you guys have been a bright spot in my day! 🙂 )

  • June M. January 31, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Oh, this book sounds great! The Proffered is something unique and sounds great. I am definitely adding this book to my wish list. 🙂
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

    • Laura Kaye January 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Awesome! Thanks June!

    • June M. February 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      US Resident

  • Jen B. January 31, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Wow, this sounds like a really neat story idea. I love the idea of the good vamp vs. the bad vamp. I am intrigued by the idea that human blood at age 20 is the best. I am also intrigued by human who would give themselves willingly to keep the good vamps strong. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Laura Kaye January 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

      Hi Jen–I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try! 🙂

  • Victoria Zumbrum January 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I love the sound of this story.I love reading about vampires and different paranormal creatures. Please enter me in contest.

    • Laura Kaye January 31, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Me too Victoria! Thanks for commenting and good luck!

  • Yadira A. January 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I have experience with Laura’s work and I cannot wait to read In the Service of the King!!! It sounds like a fantastic story and I really liking the cover too:) Great Character Profile… it was great getting to know more about the heroine Shayla. I have a feeling I’m really going to like her in the story. Congrats on your upcoming release Laura!!! How many books are you planning for the series?

    • Laura Kaye January 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Thanks so much for the shoutout, Yadira! I have two books written for the Vampire Warrior Kings series and I believe there will be at least two more! Book 2 releases this summer!

  • Tracey D January 31, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I liked this post and learning about Shayla. I look forward in reading In the Service of the King; it’s on my must have list.

    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  • elaing8 January 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Great post.In the Service of the King sounds really good. Love the cover too 🙂

  • Vanessa N. January 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Great cover. I love Kael and Shayla. They sound like cool characters. Thanks for the chance.

  • Laura Kaye January 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    @Tracey, elaing8, Vanessa–thanks so much! Glad you guys are liking what you see so far! 😀

  • Sophia Rose January 31, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Shayla sounds like a beautiful and talented woman. I am intrigued by the mismatched eyes. Looking forward to the story.

    Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!
    US resident

  • ML February 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Many congrats to Laura on the release! This book looks amazing. Shayla seems like a wonderful heroine-strong but vulnerable. I can’t wait to read this book.

    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com

  • Laura Kaye February 2, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Sophia Rose and ML!

  • Pamk February 2, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    congrats on the new release and must say sounds like an interesting take on vamp. i am adding this one to my wish list.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  • Heather February 5, 2012 at 12:53 am

    I love a good vamp story! And I love when the heroine is smart! Ooooh…Oxford! :))

  • Jennifer Bielman February 5, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Every time I see that cover I get excited. I love that Shayla is a strong but submissive character. An interesting combination.


  • Laura Kaye February 5, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Woohoo, guys! Loving your comments and really glad you’re liking Shayla! 😀

  • Rachel Vessar February 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Wow! This is a new author for me but the books sound really good. I have always liked Vampires the best ever since I was a little girl.

    Rachel V

  • Samantha @ParaRomParty February 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Thank you so much for the giveaway!!!
    Do you know how many books will be in this series?? and will they all be about Vamp kings?

    Samantha USA

    • Laura Kaye February 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

      Hi Samantha! There will be at least four (I’m hoping it’ll be 5…) in the series, and each will feature a different vampire warrior king. Book 2, Seduced by the Vampire King, releases this summer and is set in Moscow, Russia! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • Julianne February 9, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Laura, Did you do a lot of research for this series? I love the cover for In Service of the King. 🙂
    I’m in the US.
    luvfuzzzeeefaces at yahoo dot com

    • Laura Kaye February 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Hey Julianne – I did a lot of research into the locations for this series, because I wanted exotic settings to be a part of the experience of reading the Vampire Warrior Kings series… Nice question!

  • Elvina Hanson February 10, 2012 at 2:18 am

    This book sounds very interesting. Can’t wait to read it. I’m always looking for new authors/books to get my paws on. LOL

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