Laurel Richards. In Her Element.

Hi, Rosanna. Thank you for having me here today!


I originally drafted In Her Element years ago. At the time, I hadn’t seen much paranormal romance featuring Elementals, and I was eager to explore a new group of supernaturals. As so often happens, other projects and the rest of life kept pulling me in different directions, so I was only able to work on the book here and there. Recently, I’ve noticed that Elementals have become more popular in PNR. I stopped and said to myself, “Well, when are you going to publish your Elemental books?” That was the impetus I needed to finally finish editing and polishing In Her Element, along with its sequels, Dragon Tears and Passion Fire. These three books work as a trilogy (though you can read them separately) and follow the Drake family. Darya Drake is a Water Elemental with a touch of something else (I won’t spoil the surprise), and she raises her younger brother, Matthew. There’s a whole lot of fun to be had with characters who can control water, fire, earth, and air, and I think these supernaturals promise lots of great storylines in the years ahead.


Blurb: Darya Drake is a Water Elemental who has lived a difficult life. She’s raising her younger brother, Matthew, who is mentally ill, and she has had to fight off Phages—Elementals who kill and cannibalize other Elementals to steal their powers. It isn’t until she meets Ethan Zale, a Water Elemental with stormy blue eyes and a body to die for, that she dares to hope for a better future. Ethan is everything she has ever wanted, but trouble looms when a Phage begins stalking her. Can Ethan find out who is after her and keep her safe? Will her brother accept another man in her life? Darya discovers true love in the midst of strife, but for a girl who has lost almost everyone she has ever cared about, it’s hard to believe in happy endings.





“It’s all right,” he said. “I’m not a Phage. There’s no need to be scared. My name is Ethan Zale, and I’m one of the Water Elementals.” When she didn’t return the introduction, he added, “You must be new to the city. I’ve never seen you before.”


She shot a quick glance behind her and took another step back. “Look, I don’t know who you are or what you want, but you need to get away from me right now. I don’t like being chased, and I really don’t like being cornered by strange men.” In this case, a very attractive man, but a stranger nonetheless.


He seemed unperturbed. “I already told you who I am. I’m Ethan Zale. And I’m like you.


His last remark came to her telepathically, and the sudden intimacy caught her off guard. Only her family had ever talked to her mind to mind before, and it was oddly thrilling to have an outsider do so.


Sister, are you all right?” Her brother must have picked up on the disturbance. “Do you need me?


Matthew was protective of her even though he was younger and still a teenager. Despite his mental and emotional problems, her brother’s thoughts were lucid—further proof, if she needed any, that Matthew was unstable but not truly insane. Sane or not, though, her brother would try to kill Ethan if he thought the guy was a threat. Ethan was an unknown.


It’s all right,” she told Matthew. “Just stay linked with me. There’s another Elemental here.


“Do you have somebody with you?” Ethan asked.


She figured this would be a good time to lie and tell him she had a big, burly husband waiting around the corner. Unfortunately, she was a terrible liar.


“My brother,” she answered instead, sticking with the truth as much as possible. He didn’t need to know how physically far away her sibling was. “What about you? Are there more of you? More Elementals?” Although he didn’t look like he was going to pounce, she needed to know if he was the only one she needed to worry about.


His brow furrowed. “There are Elementals all over the world, in this city and many others. Our people may not be very populous anymore, but we’re certainly not the only ones here.”


He was looking at her as if she were crazy. Now she knew how her brother must feel.


“That’s not what I meant,” she snapped as her temper got the better of her. “Did you bring others with you tonight? Are you the only one near the plaza?”


He returned a smile that seemed to push back the darkness. “I’m supposed to be meeting my friend, but I spotted you first and couldn’t resist. I know I shouldn’t have chased after you like this, but it’s rare to find an Elemental by herself. You really shouldn’t wander around alone. It’s not safe.”


“Believe me,” she said. “I can see that.”


“I told you I’m not a Phage. There’s no need to be scared.”


Phage? Darya frowned at the strange term he had now used twice. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m certainly not going to take your word for it that I’m safe with you.” No matter how much her instincts—or was that her hormones?—made her want to believe him.


Her words didn’t seem to affect him in the least. “Did you just move to the city? Is that why you’re not part of the community?”




“Why don’t we go someplace to talk?” Ethan suggested. “You seem a little confused, or else you don’t know much about our people. We could get something to eat, play some Q&A, and maybe figure this out.”


“I thought you were meeting your friend,” she said, certain his “friend” was another woman.


His lips twitched. “I can catch up with him later. At the moment, I’m more interested in you. What do you say, Miss…”


Darya met his gaze squarely and shook her head.


Impatience flashed across his face, but he nodded. “Okay. I know you don’t know me, so you have to be cautious. I’m sure we can work something out. How can I put you at ease and prove that I’m not a threat?”


“You could start by walking away. That would help.” She hated to see him go, but a man like him presented more than one threat to a woman.


A trace of a smile caught at his lips, though he hid it as he reached into his pocket to pull out a business card. “Very well. Do you have a pen?”


Was he kidding? She almost laughed, but then she dug into her purse to find one. Anything to get rid of him sooner, right? Or was she desperate for his number?


“Here.” She tossed him a cheap ballpoint.


He scribbled something on the back of the card and then tossed her pen back to her. The heat of his hand had warmed the plastic.


“My work cell is on the front, and my home phone is on the back,” he explained, holding the card out between two fingers. “You can call and talk to me anytime. Hopefully we can set up a meeting place where you’ll feel comfortable, and then we can get to know each other better.”


He said it so calmly, so reasonably, that she found herself agreeing. Then again, maybe he was mesmerizing her with those pretty eyes of his.


“All right.” She deliberated whether or not to walk forward and take the card from him directly.


He was holding it out like bait for a wild animal, and she got the feeling he was daring her to get close to him. She decided to play it safe. When she was sure no one else was looking, she focused her telekinetic energy on the little slip of paper and brought it sailing toward her through the air. She snatched it as soon as it was close enough and flipped it over between her fingers. Sure enough, the name Ethan Zale was embossed on the front, and his phone number was printed on the back.


“Please call,” he said as he started to retreat. “I think you’ll find it’s worth the risk. Some opportunities shouldn’t be ignored.”


He fixed her with his deep, storm-tossed gaze until she nodded. Her breath left her in a rush as he walked away, but then he hesitated as he was about to disappear around the corner.


“By the way, your vanishing act in the plaza was impressive. Not too many Elementals can do that. I look forward to learning more about you, Mystery Woman.” He flashed her a grin and stepped out of sight.





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