The Hearts We Sold Blog Tour - Excerpt & Giveaway

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon - her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life - she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming "heartless" is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined. 
With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldly ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it's no longer hers to give?

In THE HEARTS WE SOLD, author Lloyd-Jones returns with a complex, thought-provoking Faustian tale for the modern age that will capture your heart. With horror elements and fantasy elements set in a recognizable, semirealistic world, THE HEARTS WE SOLD is a great fit for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Holly Black. The book also features a diverse breadth of topics, ranging from sexuality, transgender transitions, race, and familial abuse.

“Readers will devour this romantic, Faustian fable. A dark fantasy brimming with passion and peril.” -Kirkus Reviews


Chapter 1

A demon was knitting outside the hospital.

Dee Moreno froze. The smokers’ are was where she always took her lunch break; she didn’t smoke, but it made for a good place to eat - at least when it wasn’t already occupied.

If she returned indoors, she would have to eat her lunch with the other high school volunteers, and that thought made her stomach shrivel up. It was the kind of afternoon one could only find in Oregon - grass still doused with last night’s rain, lit up by what sunlight managed to escape the cloud cover. Dee considered her options.

Demons weren't supposed to be dangerous, or only as dangerous as your average used car salesman. This demon sat on one of the benches. Red yarn trailed around its fingers as it knit, and the sight made Dee feel brave.
Still, she sat on the farthest bench.
"It's a bit low," she said quietly.
"What?" the demon said. In a silky voice, because of course that's the only kind of a voice a demon would have. The demon didn't look at her; it kept steadily knitting, its fingers deftly sliding a stitch from one needle to the other.
"Lurking outside a hospital," said Dee. "Kind of going for the low-hanging fruit, aren't you?"

The demon's mouth twitched. "How do you know I'm working?" It finally looked at her. The look wasn't a once-over, or at least not the kind Dee was used to. The demon wasn't tallying up her bra size or even leering at her. It was simply staring, and Dee took a moment to do the same.

The demon had dark hair cut evenly down its neck. It wore a suit with more grace than most humans could manage, the light gray material untouched by wrinkles or dirt. Despite the sunny weather, an umbrella rested against its leg. The demon was beautiful, but something in its face was subtly off, the way ancient portraits or statues never looked quite true to life. The demon also looked decidely male, although Dee couldn't let herself think of it as a him. It was altogether too alien.

The demon's attention sharpened. "You're a little young to be working here."
"I'm a volunteer," said Dee. She'd learned from a young age to answer adults quickly and succinctly. It didn't matter if this things wasn't human; her old reactions still snapped into place. "It's required for all Brannigan students to do community service."
"And is it customary for such students to seek out demons on their lunch break?"
"I didn't," said Dee. "I came here to eat a sandwich."
Said sandwich was mangled form hours spent shoved in her backpack, but Dee fished it out. They sat in silence for a long minute or two, until the demon heaved a sigh.
It said, "All right. What do you want?"
Dee kept her attention on her sandwich. "I don't want anything."

The demon went back to its knitting; it frowned, and unraveled a stitch. "You must want something."
Dee tried to change the subject. "Are you really knitting?"
The demon's eyes never left its work. "Actually, I'm purling at the moment."
This startled a laugh out of Dee.
The demon looked taken aback. "I said something funny?"
"It's just...," said Dee. "I just had a mental image of demons getting together for knitting parties. I mean, is this a normal thing? Do demons pass the centuries doing arts and craft? Do you go yarn shopping?"
The demon echoed Dee's smile. Or at least, it tried to.
It was like watching an archer draw back a bowstring - the thing armed itself with its perfect white teeth and charming face.
“I got this yarn the way I get everything I want,” the
demon said, very softly. “I make deals.”

Looking into the demon’s eyes, Dee remembered all those stories she used to read as a kid—tales of ill-advised deal making where people gave teeth to fairies, queens trading firstborn children in exchange for gold-spun straw. Stories filled with magic and ambition, with dead stepmothers, wicked smiles, and cursed monkey paws. Dee found herself meeting the demon’s eyes, her defiance flaring to life.
Dee didn’t believe in magic.
“What do you want?” repeated the demon.
Dee refused to look away. “I don’t want anything.”
The demon’s smile widened. “Now, I know that’s not true.”

A loud clanging made her jump. She whirled around, grabbing at the back of the bench. One of the hospital doors had been slammed open, and two nurses walked out, talking animatedly. Heart still pounding, she turned back to face the demon. It watched the two nurses with a tolerant smile; they
barely gave Dee and the demon a glance before rounding a corner. They hadn’t recognized the demon. If they’d known what it was, they’d have reacted. Looked excited or afraid or—something. But their gazes had slid over the creature and moved on.

It leaned closer to Dee, its voice lowering to an intimate tone. “You see, my dear, only a human that wants to make a deal can see a demon for what they are.”
Dee discovered she was shaking when the crust of her sandwich dropped into the damp grass.
The demon was still smiling at her. A cool, almost smug smile. Again, Dee felt that little flare of defiance. “I don’t want to make a deal with you,” she said firmly.
The demon returned its attention to the knitting, to the blood-red yarn trailing through its fingers.

“Well, if you do,” said the demon, “you know where to find me.”

Chapter 2

Dee was once an avid reader of fairy tales. 

Some of her earliest memories were of her grandmother’s house, of a place that smelled like cinnamon and old books. The house felt like a secret waiting to be discovered, as if she might open a cupboard door and find a whole new world. It was quiet and just a little too small—but in a way
that felt cozy, rather than stifling. At night, Grandma would read aloud from one of the many old books—and Dee always picked an old tome of Grimm’s fairy tales. She listened to tales of frog kings and magicians, of glass slippers and brave girls in red cloaks.
But as she grew older, as her awareness of the world changed, so did the stories.

She listened to tales of a man who murdered his brother and left the bones to sing to passersby, of talking dogs that were abandoned by their owners, and sorcerers who abducted unwary young women. Her own world had become a more frightening place, and the stories reflected that. 
And when her grandmother died, when the house was sold and the books were dumped into a dollar bin at her estate sale, Dee’s belief in magic waned. Her own world became a place of broken promises and whispered apologies. 
She learned to believe in tangible things instead: in kind words and filled seats at parent-teacher meetings. Magic was just another fantasy. It was something she created to comfort herself. There were no true fairy tales, no knights in shining armor. Just herself and her own wits. As the years went on, Dee learned how to microwave her own meals, to make excuses, to lie to everyone around her. She became her own knight; she collected those broken promises and whispered apologies and fashioned them into armor. 
By the time she was ten, Dee had put away her fairy-tale books and declared she only believed in real things. 
Then the demons declared themselves not two months later.

The demons first appeared in Los Angeles. 

There were rumors of strange occurrences - an actress getting up and walking off a three-story fall; an explosion in a college campus in Burbank; a sighting of a strange, glowing being that conspiracy theorists swore was an alien. 
Pictures fitted across the Internet. Dee hadn’t given them any attention; it was like sightings of Bigfoot or alien abduction stories. It was human nature—people blew things out of proportion. There were people on street corners shouting about the end of days while others bought holy water in bulk. On the whole, it reminded Dee of stories she’d heard about Y2K—a great deal of fuss over some imagined threat. 

To stave of worldwide panic, the so-called demons organized a press conference. 
We exist, they said. And we have a proposition for you. 
A person could trade away a piece of themselves for a wish come true. 

At ten years old, Dee accepted the demons the way she accepted everything else—she hadn’t. When she looked at pictures of supposed demons, all she saw were people. Very beautiful people, but people. 
Demons weren’t real, she said. This had to be an elaborate hoax. Like those doctored fairy pictures. Future generations were going to laugh at them for their stupidity. You couldn’t buy luck with a finger. You couldn’t trade beauty for a foot. Just like you couldn’t trade a life for a whole arm. 

Her father had agreed.
"Aren't demons supposed to go in for souls, anyway?" he complained. He sat on their old love seat, the yellow fabric stained so often that it appeared brown. "What would they want to do with body parts?"
Mrs. Moreno was fumbling in her pocket, pretending to look for her cell phone, but Dee knew she was looking for a lighter. “Maybe body parts are more useful?” 
Dee surprised herself by speaking up. “How is a foot more useful than a soul?” she asked, wondering if perhaps this was something an adult would know. 
“Maybe hell has an overpopulation problem,” said Mr. Moreno, his voice heavy with finality. 

Dee knew better than to push her parents for answers. So she went to the place where she always did when she needed to know something—the Internet. After all, it had taught her how to get wine stains out of the carpet, how to fix a clogged sink, and exactly what a period was. It seemed only natural to investigate the demons on her own, too. 
She went searching for info—and of course, she found plenty of that. In fact, the demons seemed to dominate the Internet very quickly. In a matter of months, some demons had fan clubs. Not quite cults, but close. There were whole blogs dedicated to tracking their movements, candid photos snapped by very daring paparazzi, lists trying to determine which body part what celebrity had sold for their success, even theories about which political leaders were consulting demonic entities.

There were also a great many articles trying to either prove or debunk the demons’ existence. Half of the writers were convinced, saying they just knew the demons weren’t human. Te other half said that these were simply people who were using stage magic to trick the world. For every believer, there was someone trying to prove them wrong. And then there were those who believed but disapproved. 

These were the people who tried to ward the demons of with signs and shouted words. Websites sold supposed relics and holy water. Some people took up swords and guns, and went hunting. There were literal crusades going on until the US government declared such endeavors illegal. Rumors about Homeland Security setting up their own occult branch few across the Internet, made all the more plausible by the fact that the feds didn’t comment on it. 
Dee found the footage of the original press conference on a blog. She hadn’t watched it when it first aired; her father told her that watching too much television was a sure way to end up a loser—and while she wasn’t sure she believed him, she also didn’t want to risk his annoyance by turning it on. 

Dee glanced about the computer room—empty and safe—before she hit the play button on the video. “We don’t hire out to criminals or governments,” said a woman with cool gray eyes and a polished smile. “We won’t even work for minor officials.” She turned that smile on the conference host, and he withered beneath it. "We don't get involved in politics. And above all, we do not harm humans."
“Why not?” the man managed to say. 
“Because we live here, too,” said the woman. “And you humans have a frightening tendency to wreck things when you get scared. We will not involve ourselves in your wars, in your petty conflicts. You have nothing to fear from us. We only offer covenants to individuals. Also,” she added, turning her eyes on the camera, “we don’t work for corporations, either.” 
“How do we know you’re real?” said one audience member, echoing Dee’s own thoughts. 
The woman smiled, gesturing of camera. “I don’t expect you to believe me. So I’ll direct that question to one of my colleagues.” The screen flickered, and then changed to the scene of a hospital room. The conference host’s voice boomed out, saying that they were now broadcasting a live feed of a nearby hospital. 
A beautiful man stood next to a bed. The camera slowly panned over the image of a child—unconscious, breathing through a tube, and utterly still. 
The man gave the camera a steady look. 
“Doctor?” A doctor stepped into the spotlight; his face shone with sweat. “This girl was in a car accident a week ago. She's on life support-"
“Her mother,” said the man, interrupting, “has agreed to a covenant.” 
The camera spun around, came to focus on a middle-aged woman. She was sitting in a chair and looked oddly lopsided. It had taken Dee a second to realize it was because the woman’s left sleeve was hollow. 
“Now,” said the man, and touched a hand to the girl’s chest. 
Later, people would claim it was bad special effects or the camera guy panicking. Because the screen went fuzzy, jerking away, and seconds later, when the scene was finally visible again, there was a ten-year-old girl choking on a tube and doctors rushing around her, and the desperate, horribly relieved sobbing of the mother. 
Everyone had wondered at the demon who had made such a miracle happen. But the thing Dee fixated on was that empty sleeve, the arm traded away. On the person who would do that for another. 

To her, that was the most unbelievable thing.

Excerpted from The Hearts We Sold © Emily Lloyd-Jones, 2017

Emily Lloyd-Jones grew up on a vineyard in rural Oregon, where she played in evergreen forests and learned to fear sheep. After graduating from Western Oregon University with an English degree, she enrolled in the publishing program at Rosemont College just outside of Philadelphia. She currently resides in Northern California, working in a bookstore by day and writing by night. Illusive is her debut novel. 

Blog Tour Schedule:

Week One:
8/7/2017- Owl Always Be Reading- Excerpt
8/8/2017- When Books Defy Gravity- Review
8/9/2017- YA Books Central- Interview
8/10/2017- Take Me Away To A Great Read- Review
8/11/2017- Angelic Book Reviews- Interview

Week Two:
8/14/2017- The Layaway Dragon- Review
8/15/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post
8/16/2017- Book Briefs- Review
8/17/2017- Adventures of a Book Junkie- Interview
8/18/2017- Stories & Sweeties- Review

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  1. Looks like fun! I plan to NOT sell my heart to a demon!

  2. The book sounds fantastic, and I really like the cover. Thanks for this chance.

  3. This book sounds exciting and I have to find the answer to the question in the synopsis--can she give her heart when she sold it? I have this on my TBR!

  4. oh wow...that sounds very interesting here. I haven't read too many books that deal with a "faustian" deal.

  5. I've been really curious about this one since I saw it on Goodreads a few months ago. So far I've seen nothing but positive reviews. I can't wait to check it out. I love the cover.

  6. Thanks for the excerpt--makes me want to read on!

  7. Thanks for the giveaway.


  8. I guess I would sell your heart for the right circumstances. I would love this book!

  9. I haven't heard this many good reviews in awhile, so I'm super excited about this one.

  10. I would love this book so much. Thanks for the chance to win it.


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