Showing posts with label Annoying Heroine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Annoying Heroine. Show all posts

Review // White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

November 30, 2021

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

People with the purest souls are capable of the greatest evils. No one is perfect, no matter what they are or what side they fight for.

────── ♔ ──────


White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout


The Dark Elements #1
Release - February 25, 2014
Genre - Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Heroine POV - 1st person
Heat Level - 1 out of 5 / please save me from this
Format/Source - ebook borrowed through Kindle Unlimited
Length - 388 pages
Publisher - Harlequin Teen

Layla just wants to fit in at school and go on a date with Zayne, whom she's crushed on since forever. Trouble is, Zayne treats Layla like a sister--and Layla is a half demon, half gargoyle with abilities no one else possesses. And even though Zayne is a Warden, part of the race of gargoyles tasked with keeping humanity safe, Layla's kiss will kill anything with a soul--including him.

Then she meets Roth--a demon who claims to know her secrets. Though Layla knows she should stay away, it's tough when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue. Trusting Roth could ruin her chances with Zayne, but as Layla discovers she's the reason for a violent demon uprising, kissing the enemy suddenly pales in comparison to the looming end of the world.

Find your copy of White Hot Kiss here:

Goodreads * Amazon


My Two Cents

3 "Give. Me. A. Freaking. Break!!" stars

After being bombarded by so many five star reviews for this book, I expected to be blown away by how fantastic and irresistible and unputdownable it would be.

I wasn't.

I was less than thrilled by the heroine and found that the story suffered by being told solely from her point of view.

I know, I'm the worst. Heroines don't stand a chance with me. I'm so picky. Blah, blah-di-blah.

It's just that Layla was pretty much everything I don't like about teenagers. Whiney. Pathetic. Defiant (without cause). Ridiculous. Immature. I really could go on here.

And I swear, if she blushed one more time over a guy looking at her, asking her questions, casually touching her, or almost kissing her... I honestly don't know what I would do.

She was completely lackluster until the one scene at the end. Finally... finally she contributed something.

Why did everything center around her when she was absolutely no help to herself or others?

And why did she constantly do the one thing a heroine should never do? This chick was constantly calling out a man's name when he's trying to keep the demon's from killing her. Ummm... do you know anything about not distracting a hero when he's got his hands full?

All three stars go to Roth (who was utterly scrumptious), Zayne (who was magically delicious), and the plot and characters that filled up this story. They gave me enough to keep on going.

Yes, you read that right. I plan to read the next book.

We'll see how I feel about Layla then. I'm all for a redemption arc.

About the Author


# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Charles Town, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her Wicked Series has been optioned by PassionFlix. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. Her adult romantic suspense novel TILL DEATH was a Amazon Editor’s Pick and iBook Book of the Month. Her young adult contemporary THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER is a 2017 RITA Award Winner in Young Adult Fiction. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

She is the owner of ApollyCon and The Origin Event, the successful annual events that features over hundred bestselling authors in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult Fiction, panels, parties, and more.

Visit https://jenniferlarmentrout.com for more information

Review // Fated by Rebecca Zanetti

November 06, 2021

Fated by Rebecca Zanetti

Her mind, impressive as it might be, was no match for the combination of her heart and body and their willingness to give everything she had, everything she was, to another being. To Talen.

────── ♔ ──────


Fated by Rebecca Zanetti

Fated by Rebecca Zanetti


Standalone - Dark Protectors #1
Release - March 1, 2011
Genre - Paranormal Romance / Fated Mates
Multiple POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 out of 5 / several scenes
Format/Source - ebook borrowed from the library / I own the paperback
Page Count - 336
Publisher - Brava

Marry Me! Cara Paulsen does not give up easily. A scientist and a single mother, she's used to fighting for what she wants, keeping a cool head, and doing whatever it takes to protect her daughter Janie. But "whatever it takes" has never before included a shotgun wedding to a dangerous-looking stranger with an attitude problem.

Or Else! Sure, the mysterious Talen says that he's there to protect Cara and Janie. He also says that he's a three-hundred-year-old vampire. Of course, the way he touches her, Cara might actually believe he's had that long to practice. . .

Purchase Links


My Two Cents

Although I kind of dabbled before, I truly started my love affair with the Dark Protectors when I read Vampire's Faith. I read that story, fell in love with the world and characters this author created, and knew that I wanted more.

Reading about the next gen made me want to get to know the original heroes better. I went out, bought the paperbacks, and here we are!

And how could I not fall in love with Talen!

Alpha to the extreme, all he wanted to do was keep Cara and her daughter safe. Seriously, what guy puts his life on the line, dedicates his life to protecting someone he doesn't know... when it's not his job? And not only did he take on this duty, but he treated and cared for these two females as if they always belonged to his life. Janie was Cara's daughter, but now she was his. And nothing and no one was going to hurt them on his watch.

I really liked how this story evolved. Now that I know so much, it was fun to see these characters floundering. It's the start of the new war against the Kurjans and I had a blast seeing the Karys brothers unmated and fancy-free.

My only hangup was Cara. She drove me nuts! She was constantly fighting Talen for dominance and supremacy. Babe, you are not stronger or more capable than an immortal. Especially not an immortal who has been dealing with these enemies for centuries!!

"I can keep my daughter safe." Her eyes widened as he laughed. He actually laughed.


Just shut up dummy.

Overall, Fated gave me just what I was looking for — more depth, more plot, more action, more characters, more love.

Fated by Rebecca Zanetti

Excerpt

Cara shook her head, dread pooling in her stomach as Janie left with the director. A slow anger began to burn away the dread. She glared at Talen. “So talk.”
He took a deep breath. “The discovery of your daughter has ended nearly four centuries of peace between my people and the Kurjus.”
“Janie? What people? The Kurjus?”
Talen pursed his lips, a frown settling between his eyes. Shrugging, he yanked a brown contact out of one eye, then the other.
“What the—” she gasped. Luminescent gold eyes glowed like molten lava. She pushed away from the table only to have Talen grasp her wrist, flattening her hand under his.
“Stay. There’s a lot more.” He smirked and rolled her chair closer.
“This is a trick.” She glared at the impossible golden hue, the heat of his hand overpowering the coolness of the table beneath her own.
“No trick, Cara. I am a protector of the Sanguisuga race.”
“Sanguisuga? Isn’t that Latin?” She’d only taken two semesters of the language.
“Yes.”
“For what?”
His grip tightened on her wrist. “Vampire.”
Cara coughed out a laugh. “You’re a vampire?” Her gaze swung to the door. Where was Janie?
Issuing another deep sigh she started to equate with him, he smiled. Two sharp canines instantly emerged.
“Oh God.” Cara struggled to yank back her hand.
“Do I need to bite you for you to believe me?” Interest and something darker wove through him, into her. She fought to block herself from his emotions.
“No. No biting.” Her mind reeled while reality spun away. “This can’t be true.” She shook her head. “But you were out in the sun. It was early, but the sun was out.” This wasn’t happening.
“The sun only bothers the Kurjans, Cara. We’re fine with a day at the beach.”
“They’re vampires, too?”
Talen shrugged. “No. They’re monsters.” His canines retracted.
“But they have fangs and drink blood?”
“Yes.”
“And you drink blood?”
“Only in extreme situations.”
“Extreme?” This couldn’t be happening.
“During a fight or sex.” He voice lowered to the growl he’d uttered just before deepening their earlier kiss. Something skittered through her belly in response.
“Oh.” Her mind flashed, unbidden, to his fangs. And sex. Her heart thumped once. Hard. “Why?” She stopped fighting. For the moment.
“Why what?” His thumb traced heated circles on the pulse point of her wrist, his golden gaze dropping to her neck.
“Why Janie? Why do they want women with odd abilities?”
Talen ran a hand over his jaw, his eyes returning to her face. “Janie’s special. You know that. Her psychic abilities are the strongest we’ve ever seen.”
Cara straightened her spine. As fear cascaded down it. “But how do you know? How did they find her?”
Talen scowled. “Both races can sense such abilities in humans, but we need to be in close proximity to do so. We don’t know how they found Janie. It could’ve been a fluke, but I doubt it.”
“How did you find us?”
“We have sources in the Meridoze gang, we heard about the extraction plan just in time.”
Cara stamped down on the panic fighting to rise. “Your peace has ended?”
“Yes. We were at war for hundreds of years until we both suffered too many losses. A treaty was signed prohibiting any contact with humans.” Talen shrugged. “Peace lasted much longer than anyone predicted.”
Cara narrowed her eyes. “You don’t sound sorry peace is over.”
Deceptively normal canines flashed in a grin. “We were made to fight. Plus, living amongst you, yet having no contact has been difficult. We need humans.” Golden heat ran over her face.
“For blood.” Nausea rose within her.
“That too.” His voice lowered.
Everything in her stilled, and even her heart may have stopped for a second. She lacked the focus to block the feelings coming from him now. “What else?” Her voice cracked.
“Both races are born male. Only. Our mates are human. And Cara,” his voice dropped to a rumble, “you’re mine.”

About the Author

Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over forty romantic suspense, dark paranormals, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks bestseller lists. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own Alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out. Upcoming series are: The Blood Brothers, The Realm Enforcers and The Scorpius Syndrome.

Visit https://rebeccazanetti.com/ for more information!

Review // A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

October 22, 2021

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

For more than a thousand years, he'd searched for her.
And he'd found her in what he despised with a hatred so virulent he couldn't control it.
A vampire. The way she existed disgusted him. Her weakness disgusted him. Her pale body was too small, too thin, and looked like she'd break with her first stiff f--cking.
He'd waited a millennium for a helpless parasite.

────── ♔ ──────


A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole


Standalone - Immortals After Dark #1
Genre - Paranormal Romance / vamp + shifter
Multiple POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 / a few scenes
Format/Source - ebook purchase from Amazon
Page Count - 384
Publisher - Pocket Books

A mythic warrior who'll stop at nothing to possess her...

After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.

A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy...

Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.

An all-consuming desire...

Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?

Find A Hunger Like No Other here: Goodreads / Amazon


My Two Cents

As much as Emma was running away from her destiny, especially the one she shared with Lachlain, I was feeling like she needed to pass her duties right on to me!

I would not and will not deny Mr. Lachlain MacRieve a dang thing! He's so delicious!!


You wanna kiss? Here are my lips.
You wanna touch? What should I use? Hands, toes, mouth, other...
You wanna bang? Tell me when and where.
Mated forever? Where the frick do I sign up???

Seriously.

I want to say that I enjoyed the tension that existed between Lachlain and Emma. Whenever there's miscommunication (or no communication), it can be quite good, amping up the heat, or it can be bad, making it an ordeal to get through. I'm still not sure which side I'm on. I do think it dragged on for far too long and I was begging for the romance to begin.

It was slow building, but there was plenty of foreplay, although it was kinda dubiously consented to. I don't know what to even think about it.


And don't even get me started on the Valkyries and their utter nonsense. Fun, but crazy. Wild, but insane. Gorgeous, but deadly. And utterly ridiculous!

Emma was like a lost girl. Half Valkyrie and half vampire, she didn't really belong anywhere. But she was raised by the Valkyries and they were the best of the best. All she wanted was to deserve their love. To be as honorable, as courageous, as fierce as they were. And yet, for most of the book, she was just rude, disrespectful, inconsiderate, and trifling.

Honestly, I couldn't stand Emma for most of this story. Lachlain... dude could do no wrong. He was away from society for over a century. He was tortured for over a century. What was Emma's excuse?

But then we got close to the end... and Emma became magnificent! Her perceived fragility and weakness gave way to a female who grew her own version of strength. And let's be honest... it was Lachlain who got her to see and reveal her best self.


My favorite moments came when these characters found clarity. When they were able to get past their preconceived notions and assumptions and get to the heart of each other. Lachlain was able to see the warrior within Emma and she was able to constantly challenge his bias against "leeches". And he just stayed being awesome, steadily working away and obliterating her walls.

So what did I think? I loved this story. I'm loving this series and I will be continuing to enjoy all of these characters!

“My ideal man? He’d have to be considerate, easygoing, and well-mannered.
Above all, he’d need to treat me like a queen.”

—Emmaline Troy, aka Emma the Timid, half vampire half Valkyrie

“Never run from one such as me, female.
You will no’ get away—and we like it.”

—Lachlain MacRieve, King of the Lykae

You should definitely check out the first book of the series:



Myst and Wroth were a blast!!


Excerpt

Sometimes the fire that licks the skin from his bones dies down.

It is his fire. In a recess of his mind still capable of rational thought, he believes this. His fire because he’s fed it for centuries with his destroyed body and decaying mind.

Long ago—and who knows how much time has toiled past—the Vampire Horde trapped him in these catacombs deep beneath Paris. He stands chained against a rock, pinned at two places on each limb and once around his neck. Before him—an opening into hell that spews fire.

Here he waits and suffers, offered to a column of fire that may weaken but is never-ending—never-ending, just like his life. His existence is to burn to death repeatedly, only to have his dogged immortality revive him again.

Detailed fantasies of retribution have gotten him this far; nursing the rage in his heart is all he has.

Until her.

Over the centuries, he has sometimes heard uncanny new things in the streets above, occasionally smelled Paris changing seasons. But now he has scented her, his mate, the one woman made for him alone.

The one woman he’d searched for without cease for a thousand years—up until the day of his capture.

The flames have ebbed. At this moment, she lingers somewhere above. It is enough. One arm strains against its bonds until the thick metal cuts into his skin. Blood drips, then pours. Every muscle in his weakened body works in concert, striving to do what he’s never been able to for an eternity before. For her, he can do this. He must … . His yell turns to a choking cough as he rips two bonds free.

He doesn’t have time to disbelieve what he’s accomplished. She is so close, he can almost feel her. Need her. Another arm wrenches free.

With both hands he clenches the metal biting into his neck, vaguely remembering the day the thick, long pin was hammered into place. He knows its two ends are embedded at least three feet down. His strength is waning, but nothing will stop him when she’s so close. In a rush of rock and dust, the metal comes loose, the recoil making him fling it across the cavernous space.

He yanks at the bond wrapped tight around his thigh. He wrests it and the one at his ankle free, then begins on the last two holding his other leg. Already envisioning his escape, not even glancing down, he pulls. Nothing. Brows drawn in confusion, he tries again. Straining, groaning with desperation. Nothing.

Her scent is fading—there is no time. He pitilessly regards his trapped leg. Imagining how he can bury himself in her and forget the pain, he reaches above his knee with shaking hands. Yearning for that oblivion within her, he attempts to crack the bone. His weakness ensures that this takes half a dozen tries.

His claws slice his skin and muscle, but the nerve running the length of his femur is taut as a piano wire. When he even nears it, unimaginable pain stabs up its length and explodes in his upper body, making his vision go black.

Too weak. Bleeding too freely. The fire will build again soon. The vampires return periodically. Will he lose her just when he’s found her?

“Never,” he grates. He surrenders himself to the beast inside him, the beast that will take its freedom with its teeth, drink water from the gutters and scavenge refuse to survive. He sees the frenzied amputation as though watching a misery from a distance.

Crawling from his torture, abandoning his leg, he pulls himself through the shadows of the dank catacombs until he spies a passageway. Ever watchful for his enemies, he creeps through the bones littering the floor to reach it. He has no idea how far it is to escape, but he finds his way—and the strength—by following her scent. He regrets the pain he will give her. She will be so connected to him, she’ll feel his suffering and horror as her own.

It can’t be helped. He is escaping. Doing his part. Can she save him from his memories when his skin still burns?

He finally inches his way to the surface, then into a darkened alley. But her scent has faltered.

Fate has given her to him when he needs her most, and God help him—and this city—if he can’t find her. His brutality had been legendary, and he will unleash it without measure for her.

He fights to sit up against a wall. Clawing tracks into the brick street, he struggles to calm his ragged breaths so he can scent her once more.

Need her. Bury myself in her. Waited so long … .

Her scent is gone.

His eyes go wet and he shudders violently at the loss. An anguished roar makes the city tremble.

About the Author

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series, the young adult Arcana Chronicles series, the erotic Gamemakers series, and five award-winning historical romances.

A master’s grad and former athlete, she has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings.

Her books have been translated into 23 foreign languages, garnered 3 RITA awards, a Hall of Fame induction, and consistently appear on the bestseller lists, in the U.S. and abroad.

Cole lives in Florida with her family.

Visit http://www.kresleycole.com/ for more information

Review // Darkness Awakened by Stephanie Rowe

October 17, 2021

Darkness Awakened by Stephanie Rowe

Mine to you. Yours to me. Bonded by blood, by spirit and by soul, we are one. No distance too far, no enemy too powerful, no sacrifice too great. I'll always find you. I'll always protect you. No matter what the cost. I am yours as you are mine.

────── ♔ ──────


Darkness Awakened by Stephanie Rowe

Darkness Awakened by Stephanie Rowe


Standalone - Order of the Blade #1
Release - November 12, 2013
Genre - Paranormal Romance / fated mates
Multiple POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3 out of 5 / a couple of scenes
Format and Source - ebook purchase from Amazon
Page Count - 406
Publisher - Authenticity Playground, LLC

Can two sworn enemies overcome dangerous attraction to save those they love? A grumpy immortal warrior and a sassy, modern-minded witch team up in a steamy, irresistible romance.

Grace isn't about to let a grumpy warrior keep her from saving her sister. She'll do whatever it takes to get his help, including a bit of rule-breaking and blackmail. As for the addictive attraction between them? She's ignoring it completely.

Quinn is a little too busy and a lot too antisocial to help an interfering witch find her sister. But when he realizes the distractingly sexy siren might be the key to everything he wants, he's all in.

Grace and Quinn are determined to stay single, but a centuries-old, match-making curse has other plans for the pair. Can an immortal warrior burned by love win the heart of the sexy witch meant to save his ever-lovin' soul?

Purchase Links

Amazon CA ­čí¬ https://amzn.to/3j71hVA
Amazon US ­čí¬ https://amzn.to/3FSSQqj
Amazon UK ­čí¬ https://amzn.to/3DKxiKF
Amazon AU ­čí¬ https://amzn.to/3lJMu4M

My Two Cents

So I literally had just finished To Kiss a Demon and high off the win that story, I had to get my hands on another Stephanie Rowe book. I just needed more! And I got it. Meeting Quinn... and boy was he delicious... I can safely say that the streak is still hot!!

I began falling in love with The Order of the Blade in this book and I'm excited to fall more in the books to come. Quinn was a fierce immortal warrior who was tasked with taking out all threats to humanity — even his own kin. Grace was a woman who had the power of illusions, a power that scared her, but nothing scared her more than the destiny she faced with Quinn.

The suspenseful plot was enjoyable, if a bit drawn out, but I really liked getting to know all of the players. Friend or foe, the author didn't shirk her responsibility of giving us characters that had a ton of depth. Characters I want to get to know better.

I do wish that tension between Grace and Quinn wasn't so endless. I get that it was initially necessary to drive the story, but it went on for too long. For too long was Grace allowed to treat Quinn like dirt. For too long was Quinn doing the whole 'push-and-pull' with Grace. And for too long did it seem like their destiny didn't make sense.

However, I loved enough about this story to continue reading. I will be (hopefully) devouring the next book, Darkness Seduced, and the books to come. I need to know how the dead warriors were resurrected. Seriously, why did these men with potential to be great leading characters keep on dying?

So Gideon is next (and he's a hottie too) and he's supposed to be rescuing Lily, who was held prisoner for two years. I can't wait to see how that goes! I can only hope to get more glimpses of all of these amazing people (Elijah and Dante included) and enough to love to keep on pushing.

────── ♔ ──────



And it didn't get 5 stars because...

One of my biggest pet peeves... The heroine being utterly ridiculous. Grace did the one thing that aggravates me to no end. Quinn is helping her find and rescue her sister. They've literally just met, but Quinn is determined to protect her at all times. You know... because he's immortal and SHE'S NOT!! I get her not trusting him right away. I get her trying to keep her secrets close, even though those secrets could help them in their quest. I get it. What I don't get is why she thought she could do bad all by herself. There was this one instance, when they're at the bar that started all the bad stuff, and she tells Quinn that she can take care of herself while he investigates. He insists on protecting her because there are tons of bad guys after them and they have no allies here, but she demands that he respect her independence. Okay. Yet, when trouble finds her... as we all knew it would... what does she do? Does she take care of herself? No? The chick screams the place down for Quinn to save her.


Excerpt

Quinn Masters raced soundlessly through the thick woods, his injuries long forgotten, urgency coursing through him as he neared his house. He covered the last thirty yards, leapt over a fallen tree, then reached the edge of the clearing by his cabin.

There she was.

He stopped dead, fading back into the trees as he stared at the woman he’d scented when he was still two hours away, a lure that had eviscerated all weakness from his body and fueled him into a dead sprint back to his house.

His lungs heaving with the effort of pushing his severely damaged body so hard, Quinn stood rigidly as he studied the woman whose scent had called to him through the dark night. She’d yanked him out of his thoughts about Elijah and galvanized him with energy he hadn’t been able to summon on his own.

And now he’d found her.

She’d wedged herself up against the back corner of his porch, barely protected from the cold rain and wet wind. Her knees were pulled up against her chest, her delicate arms wrapped tightly around them as if she could hold onto her body heat by sheer force of will. Her shoulders were hunched, her forehead pressed against her knees while damp tangles of dark brown hair tumbled over her arms.

Her chest moved once. Twice. A trembling, aching breath into lungs that were too cold and too exhausted to work as well as they should.

He took a step toward her, and another, then three more before he realized what he was doing. He froze, suddenly aware of his urgent need to get to her. To help her. To fill her with heat and breathe safety into her trembling body. To whisk her off his porch and into his cabin.

Into his bed.

Quinn stiffened at the thought. Into his bed? Since when? He didn’t engage when it came to women. Not anymore. The risk was too high, for him, and for all Calydons. Any woman he met could be his mate, his fate, his doom. His sheva.

He was never tempted.

Until now.

Until this cold, vulnerable stranger had appeared inexplicably on his doorstep. He should be pulling out his sword, not thinking that the fastest way to get her warm would be to run his hands over her bare skin and infuse her whole body with the heat from his.

But his sword remained quiet. His instincts warned him of nothing.

What the hell was going on? She had to be a threat. Nothing else made sense. Women didn’t stumble onto his home, and he didn’t get a hard-on from simply catching a whiff of one from miles away.

His aching quads braced against the cold air, he inhaled her scent again, searching for answers to a thousand questions. She smelled delicate, with a hint of something sweet, and a flavoring of the bitterness of true desperation. He could practically taste her anguish, a cold, acrid weight in the air, and he knew she was in trouble.

His hands flexed with the need to close the distance between them, to crouch by her side, to give her his protection. But he didn’t move. He didn’t dare. He had to figure out why he was so compelled by her, why he was responding like this, especially at a time when he couldn’t afford any distraction.

She moaned softly and curled into an even tighter ball. His muscles tightened, his entire soul burning with the need to help her. Quinn narrowed his eyes and pried his gaze off her to search the woods.

With the life of his blood brother in his hands, an Order posse soon to be after him, and his own body still half in the grave, he should be so focused on business that a woman could dance naked on his chest and he still wouldn’t notice. It shouldn’t be possible for a woman he didn’t even know, hadn’t met and barely even seen to rock him on his ass like this simply because he’d caught a whiff of her scent.

He was disciplined, dammit, and disciplined warriors didn’t fall for that shit. It made no sense.

His intense need for her felt too similar to the compulsion that had sent him to the river three nights ago. Another trap? He’d suspected it from the moment he’d first reacted to her scent, but he’d been unable to resist the temptation, and he’d hauled ass to get back to his house. Yeah, true, he’d also needed to get back to his cabin to retrieve his supplies to go after Elijah. The fact she’d imbued him with new strength had been a bonus he wasn’t going to deny.

But now he had to be sure. A trap or not? Quinn laughed softly. Shit. He hoped it was. If it wasn’t, there was only one other reason he could think that could explain his reaction to her, and that would be if she was his mate. His sheva. His ticket to certain destruction.

No chance.

He wouldn’t allow it.

He had no time for dealing with that destiny right now. It was time to get in, get out, and go after Elijah. His amusement faded as he took a final survey of the woods. There was no lurking threat he could detect. Maybe he’d made it back before he’d been expected, or maybe an ambush had been aborted.

Either way, he had to get into his house, get his stuff, and move on. His gaze returned to the woman, and he noticed a drop of water sliding down the side of her neck, trickling over her skin like the most seductive of caresses. He swore, realizing she wasn’t going to leave. She’d freeze to death before she’d abandon her perch.

He cursed again and knew he had to go to her. He couldn’t let her die on his front step. Not this woman. Not her.

He would make it fast, he would make it efficient, he would stay on target for his mission, but he would get her safe.

Keeping alert for any indication that this was a setup, Quinn stepped out of the woods and into the clearing. He’d made no sound, not even a whisper of his clothing, and yet she sensed him.

She sat up, her gaze finding him instantly in the dim light, despite his stealthy approach. They made eye contact, and the world seemed to stop for a split second. The moment he saw those silvery eyes, something thumped in his chest. Something visceral and male howled inside him, raging to be set free.

As he strode up, she unfolded herself from her cramped position and pulled herself to her feet, her gaze never leaving his. Her face was wary, her body tense, but she lifted her chin ever so slightly and set her hands on her hips, telling him that she wasn’t leaving.

Her courage and determination, held together by that tiny, shivering frame, made satisfaction thud through him. There was a warrior in that slim, exhausted body.

She said nothing as he approached, and neither of them spoke as he came to a stop in front of her.

Up close, he was riveted. Her dark eyelashes were clumped from the rain. Her skin was pale, too pale. Her face was carrying the burden of a thousand weights. But beneath that pain, those nightmares, that hell, lay delicate femininity that called to him. The luminescent glow of her skin, the sensual curve of her mouth, the sheen of rain on her cheekbones, the simple silver hoops in her ears. It awoke in him something so male, so carnal, so primal he wanted to throw her up against the wall and consume her until their bodies were melted together in a single, scorching fire.

She searched his face with the same intensity raging through him, and he felt like she was tearing through his shields, cataloguing everything about him, all the way down to his soul.

He studied her carefully, and she let him, not flinching when his gaze traveled down her body. His blood pulsed as he noted the curve of her breasts under her rain-slicked jacket, the sensuous curve of her hips, and even the mud on her jeans and boots. He almost groaned at his need to palm her hips, drag her over to him, and mark her with his kiss. Loose strands of thick dark hair curled around her neck and shoulders like it was clinging to her for safety.

Protectiveness surged from deep inside him and he clenched his fists against the urge to sweep her into his arms and carry her inside, away from whatever hardships had brought her to his doorstep.

Double hell. He’d hoped his reaction would lessen when he got close to her, but it had intensified. He’d never felt like this before. Never had this response to a woman.

What the hell was going on? Sheva. The word was like a demon, whispering through his mind. He shut it out. He would never allow himself to bond with his mate. If that was what was going on, she was out of there immediately, before they were both destroyed forever.

Intent on sending her away, he looked again at her face, and then realized he was irrevocably ensnared. Her beautiful silver eyes were aching with a soul-deep pain that shattered what little defenses he had against her. He simply couldn’t abandon her.

It didn’t matter what she wanted. It didn’t matter why she was there. She was coming inside. He would make sure it didn’t interfere with his mission. He would make dead sure it turned out right. No matter what.

Without a word, he grabbed her backpack off the floor, surprised at how heavy it was. Either she had tossed her free weights in it, or she had packed her life into it.

He had a bad feeling it wasn’t a set of dumbbells.

Quinn walked past her and unlocked his front door. He shoved it open, then stood back. Letting her decide. Hoping she would walk away and spare them both.

She took a deep breath, glanced at his face one more time, then walked into the cabin.

Hell.

He paused to take one more survey of his woods, found nothing amiss, and then he followed her into his home and shut the door behind them.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Rowe is the author of more than forty-five novels, and she’s a four-time nominee for the RITA® award, the highest award in romance fiction. As an award-winning author, Stephanie has been touching readers’ hearts and keeping them spellbound for more than a decade with her contemporary romances, romantic suspense, paranormal romances, and YA contemporary romances.

A life-long reader, she began crafting stories at age ten, but didn’t realize it was her dream until she was an adult.

Once the light dawned, she immediately left behind “work” as the world defines it and went to “work” as she defines it, which means getting up every morning with a smile in her heart so she can spend the day doing that which makes her spirit sing.

Stephanie believes in learning to listen to your heart in order to figure out what your dreams are, and then opening yourself to the inspiration that will direct you there. She believes we all deserve the right to enjoy life, and for the ride to be as easy as we want it to be, and that we all should accept nothing less than making our dreams come true.

Stephanie currently lives in New England, and spends every day doing her best to fill it with people, observations and activities that uplift her soul, which include writing, tennis, dancing, friends, her dogs, and her amazing family.

Visit https://www.stephanierowe.com/ for more information