Showing posts with label Fated Mates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fated Mates. Show all posts

Review // No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

November 16, 2021

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

Sexy.
He has too much of a biological advantage.
What female could be expected to turn him away when he wanted to be inside her?

────── ♔ ──────


No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole


Standalone - Immortals After Dark #2
Release - October 31, 2006
Genre - Paranormal Romance / fated mates
Primarily Dual POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 / several scenes
Format/Source - borrowed from the library
Length - 384 pages
Publisher - Pocket Books

A vampire soldier weary of life...

Centuries ago, Sebastian Wroth was turned into a vampire—a nightmare in his mind—against his will. Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite, fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.

A valkyrie assassin dispatched to destroy him...

When Kaderin the Cold Hearted lost her two beloved sisters to a vampire attack long ago, a benevolent force deadened her sorrow—accidentally extinguishing all of her emotions. Yet whenever she encounters Sebastian, her feelings—particularly lust—emerge multiplied. For the first time, she's unable to complete a kill.

Competitors in a legendary hunt...

The prize of the month-long contest is powerful enough to change history, and Kaderin will do anything to win it for her sisters. Wanting only to win her, forever, Sebastian competes as well, taking every opportunity—as they travel to ancient tombs and through catacombs, seeking relics around the world—to use her new feelings to seduce her. But when forced to choose between the vampire she's falling for and reuniting her family, how can Kaderin live without either?

Find No Rest for the Wicked here: Goodreads * Amazon


My Two Cents

4.5 "He's ever so worthy" stars

Is it wrong that I wanted to slap every fictional woman in Sebastian's fictional past who ever made this ficitional male doubt himself?

I'm a sucker for a broken hero and Sebastian more than fit the bill. Once a fierce human warrior, when he was at death's door, he refused his brother's help. He didn't want to become a vampire. He didn't want to live that way. He didn't really have a choice and hundreds of years later, he wasn't really living. No wonder he was so ready for Kaderin to end him.

And yet she couldn't.

Kaderin the Coldhearted found her heart. It was beating outside of her. And no matter how hard she tried to fight it, to deny it, Sebastian was her destiny.

I loved the push and pull of their relationship. He knew that she was his 'Bride'. She knew that she could never be with a vampire. Wanting and needing aside, her family would never accept him. But who cares, right?! The heart wants what the heart wants and when she finally just gave in... so beautiful!

Even the adventure aspect of the Hie gave me some cheap thrills. Is Bowen okay? I felt so sorry for the wolf who was devastated by the loss of his life mate and was so desperate to find a way to be with her again.

I'm still as fascinated as always with all of these characters, especially the ones with stories to come. Regin and Nix crack me up! Once again, the writing was on point, the plot was entertaining, and the characters were amazing. This was my favorite one of the series so far! I loved seeing Wroth and Myst again and I'm looking forward to the next book.

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole

Excerpt

Chapter 1


Castle Gornyi, Russia

Present day


For the second time in her life, Kaderin the Coldhearted hesitated to kill a vampire.

In the last instant of a silent, lethal swing, she stayed her sword an inch above the neck of her prey -- because she'd found him holding his head in his hands.

She saw his big body tense. As a vampire, he could easily trace away, disappearing. Instead, he remained, raising his face to gaze up at her with dark gray eyes, the color of a storm about to be unleashed. Surprisingly, they were clear not red -- which meant the vampire had never drunk a being to death. Yet.

He pleaded with those eyes, and she realized he hungered for an end. He wanted the death blow she'd come to his decrepit castle to deliver.

She'd stalked him soundlessly, primed for battle with a vicious predator. Kaderin had been in Scotland with other Valkyrie when they'd received the call about a "vampire haunting a castle and terrorizing a village in Russia." She had gladly volunteered to destroy it. She was her Valkyrie coven's most prolific killer, her life given over to ridding the earth of leeches.

In Scotland, on that trip alone, she'd killed three.

So why was she hesitating now? Why was she even now easing her sword back to raise it before her? He would be merely one among thousands of her kills, his fangs collected and strung together with the others she'd taken.

The last time she'd stayed her hand had resulted in a tragedy so great her heart had been broken forever by it.

In a deep, gravelly voice, the vampire asked, "Why do you wait?" He seemed startled by the sound of his own words.

I don't know why. Unfamiliar physical sensations wracked her. Her stomach knotted. As though a band had tightened around her chest, her lungs were desperate for breath. I can't comprehend why.

The wind blew outside, sliding over the mountain, making this high room in the vampire's darkened lair groan. Unseen gaps in the walls allowed the chill morning breeze in. As he stood, rising to his full, towering height, her blade caught the wavering light from a cluster of candles and reflected on him.

His grave face was lean with harsh planes, and other females would consider it handsome. His black shirt was threadbare and unbuttoned, displaying much of his chest and sculpted torso, and his worn jeans were slung low at his narrow waist. The wind tugged at the tail of his shirt and stirred his thick black hair. Very handsome. But then, the vampires I kill often are.

His gaze focused on the tip of her sword. Then, as if the threat of her weapon were forgotten, he studied her face, his eyes lingering on each of her features. His blatant appreciation unsettled her, and she clutched the hilt tightly, something she never did.

Honed to masterly sharpness with her diamond file, her sword cut through bone and muscle with little effort. It swung perfectly from her loose wrist as though it were an extension of her arm. She'd never needed to hold it tightly.

Take his head. One less vampire. The species checked in the tiniest way.

"What is your name?" His speech was clipped like an aristocrat's, but held a familiar accent. Estonian. Though Estonia bordered Russia to the west and its inhabitants were considered a Nordic breed of Russian, she recognized the difference and wondered what he was doing away from his own country.

She tilted her head. "Why do you want to know?"

"I would like to know the name of the woman who will deliver me from this."

He wanted to die. After all she'd suffered from his kind, the last thing she wanted to do was oblige the vampire in any way. "You assume I'll deliver your death blow?"

"Will you not?" His lips curled at the corners, but it was a sad smile.

Another tightening on the sword. She would. Of course, she would. Killing was her only purpose in life. She didn't care if his eyes were clear of the red that marked a vampire's bloodlust. Ultimately, he would drink to kill, and he would turn.

They always did.

He stepped around a stack of hard-bound books -- some of the hundreds of texts throughout the room with titles imprinted in Russian and, yes, Estonian -- and leaned his massive frame against the crumbling wall. He truly wasn't going to raise a hand in defense.

"Before you do, speak again. Your voice is beautiful. As beautiful as your stunning face."

She swallowed, startled to feel her cheeks heating. "Who do you align with . . . ?" She trailed off when he closed his eyes as though listening to her were bliss. "The Forbearers?"

That got him to open his eyes. They were full of anger. "I align with no one. Especially not them."

"But you were once human, weren't you?" The Forbearers were an army, or order, of turned humans. They eschewed taking blood straight from the flesh because they believed that act caused bloodlust. By forbearing, they hoped to avoid becoming like crazed Horde vampires. The Valkyrie remained unoptimistic about their chances.

"Yes, but I've no interest in that order. And you? You're no human either, are you?"

She ignored his question. "Why do you linger here in this castle?" she asked. "The villagers live in terror of you."

"I won this holding on the battlefield and rightly own it, so I stay. And I've never harmed them." He turned away and murmured, "I wish that I did not frighten them."

Kaderin needed to get this killing over with. In just three days, she was to compete in the Talisman's Hie, which was basically a deadly, immortal version of The Amazing Race. Besides hunting vampires, the Hie was the only thing she lived for, and she needed to confirm transportation and secure supplies. And yet she found herself saying, "They told me you live here alone."

He faced her and gave a sharp nod. She sensed that he was embarrassed by this fact, as if he felt lacking that he didn't have a family here.

"How long?"

He hiked his broad shoulders, pretending nonchalance. "A few centuries."

To live solitary for all that time? "The people in the valley sent for me," she said, as if she had to explain herself. The inhabitants of the remote village belonged to the Lore -- a population of immortals and "mythical" creatures kept secret from humans. Many of them still worshipped the Valkyrie and provided tributes, but that wasn't what made Kaderin travel to such an isolated place.

The chance to kill even a single vampire had drawn her. "They beseeched me to destroy you."

"Then I await your leisure."

"Why not kill yourself, if that's what you want?" she asked.

"It's . . . complicated. But you save me from that end. I know you're a skilled warrior -- "

"How do you know what I am?"

He gave a nod at her sword. "I used to be a warrior, too, and your remarkable weapon speaks much."

The one thing she felt pride in -- the one thing in her life that she had left and couldn't bear to lose -- and he'd noted its excellence.

He strode closer to her and lowered his voice. "Strike your blow, creature. Know that no misfortune could come to you for killing one such as me. There is no reason to wait."

As if this were a matter of conscience! It wasn't. It couldn't be. She had no conscience. No real feelings, no raw emotions. She was coldhearted. After the tragedy, she'd prayed for oblivion, prayed for the sorrow and guilt to be numbed.

Some mysterious entity had answered her and made her heart like ash. Kaderin didn't suffer from sorrow, from lust, from anger, or from joy. Nothing got in the way of her killing.

She was a perfect killer. She had been for one thousand years, half of her interminable life.

"Did you hear that?" he asked. The eyes that had been pleading for an end now narrowed. "Are you alone?"

She quirked an eyebrow. "I do not require help from others. Especially not for a single vampire," she added, her tone growing absent. Oddly, her attention had dipped to his body once more -- to low on his torso, past his navel to the dusky trail of hair leading down. She had a flash imagining of grazing the back of one of her sharp claws along it while his massive body clenched and shuddered in reaction.

Her thoughts were making her uneasy, making her want to wind her hair up into a knot and let the chill air cool her neck --

He cleared his throat. When she jerked her gaze to his face, he raised his eyebrows.

Caught ogling the prey! The indignity! What is wrong with me? She had no more sexual urges than the walking dead vampire before her. She shook herself, forcing herself to remember the last time she'd hesitated.

On a battlefield, an age ago, she had spared and released another of this ilk, a young vampire soldier who had begged for his life.

Yet he had seemed to scorn her for her very mercy. Without delay, the soldier had found her two full-blood sisters fighting in the flatlands below them. Alerted by a shriek from another Valkyrie, Kaderin had sprinted, stumbling down a hill draped with bodies, living and dead. Just as she'd reached them, he'd cut her sisters down.

The younger, Rika, had been taken off guard, because of Kaderin's panicked approach. The vampire had smiled when Kaderin dropped to her knees.

He'd dispatched her sisters with a brutal efficiency Kaderin had since emulated. She'd like to say she started with him, but she'd kept him alive for a time.

So, why would she repeat the same mistake? She wouldn't. She would not ignore a lesson she had paid so dearly to learn.

The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can begin preparing for the Hie.

Squaring her shoulders, she steeled herself. It's all in the follow-through. Kaderin could see the swing, knew the angle she would take so that his head would remain on his neck until he fell. It was cleaner that way. Which was important.

She'd packed her suitcase lightly.

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 // 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 // Immortal Angel by Lynsay Sands

November 03, 2021

Immortal Angel by Lynsay Sands

Her pleasure was his
and his was hers
and then his again.

────── ♔ ──────


Immortal Angel by Lynsay Sands

Immortal Angel by Lynsay Sands


Standalone - Argeneau #31
Release - September 29, 2020
Genre - Paranormal Romance / fated mates
Dual POV - 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 out of 5 / a few scenes
Format/Source - ebook borrowed from the library
Page Count - 384
Publisher - Avon

For almost two centuries, Ildaria Garcia has been on the run, a trouble magnet with a knack for taking down bad guys. Lately, her vigilante tendencies have drawn unwelcome attention to her fellow Immortals. Forced to relocate, Ildaria is supposed to lay low in a new town. Instead, she quickly entangles herself with six and a half feet of muscular, tattooed trouble.

Joshua James Simpson Guiscard, aka G.G., knows a lot about Immortals—enough to make him wary. Yet from the moment Ildaria walks into his club, he feels desire stronger than anything he’s known. Accepting the fact that they might be life mates is disconcerting. But when her past catches up to them, G.G. faces a choice—confront his demons at last, or lose a passion that’s hot as hell.

Purchase Links


My Two Cents

I've found a new passion for PNR and because of this, I've got recommendations coming at me from pretty much everywhere. And I'm loving it!!

Lynsay Sands is an author that comes up quite a lot on my what-to-read next list so I thought I'd give her a try. Not only did I borrow this book from the library, I also bought a copy of Immortal Nights from Book Outlet. I'm determined to get through what I'm told are some amazing books!

I found Immortal Angel to be a surprising read. I went in with some expectations and some were met... others were not. I figured based on the cover that there would be tons of action, but aside from the very beginning, when Ildaria was going all vigilante, there was no action to be found. It was over and done with pretty quickly, which was a disappointment, however, I enjoyed the romance build and finding out some bits about the Immortal world these characters live in.

Was the concept of these people being vampire supposed to be so vague? They drink blood, they have enhancements, but the word vampire seemed to be something to be avoided. I'm not sure whether I liked that or not.

I thought that the relationship that grew between Ildaria and G.G. was cute, sweet, sexy and ridiculous (at times). I loved meeting all of the characters, I loved the romance, and only wished for something more. The author put a lot of effort into creating Ildaria's back story, which was truly tragic, and I was entertained by G.G.'s reluctance to be turned into an Immortal. I'm not sure what I wanted to be different aside from some action. It just ended up being an okay read for me.

Part of me hopes that Juan finds his true life mate. I felt bad for the guy and I want him to be caught up in happiness too.

I'm looking forward to getting through this author's backlist and falling in love with her characters!

Immortal Angel by Lynsay Sands

Excerpt

Chapter One


“Professor Straithe is late.”
“Si , but he’s always late,” Ildaria pointed out as she pulled her notebook and a pen from her knapsack and then set the bag on the floor next to her seat.
“Yeah, but he’s really late tonight,” Lydia responded and then added eagerly, “Five more minutes and he’ll be fifteen minutes late. Then we can leave. Class will be canceled and we can hit a bar or something.”
Ildaria shrugged as she opened her notebook to a clean page and predicted, “He’ll walk in one minute before the fifteen-minute point and we’ll be stuck here. He’s done it several times this semester.”
“Yes, he has,” Lydia agreed, sounding deflated now, and then her tone turning irritated she added, “It’s a night class for cripes sake, not a morning class he has to drag his butt out of bed for, yet the man is always late.” She scowled and then muttered bitterly, “And then he’s a boring lecturer when he finally does get here. I swear if he weren’t such a hunk, I’d hate him.”
Ildaria chuckled at the claim. She doubted Lydia had it in her to hate anyone. The woman was just too kind. It was one of the things she liked about her.
“Oh myyyy. What have we here?”
Eyebrows rising, Ildaria glanced around and followed Lydia’s gaze to the top of the tiered lecture hall where two men now stood just inside the door. Both were tall and muscular, dressed in black T-shirts, black jeans, and black leather boots. They were carbon copies of each other . . . from the neck down. Only their faces and hair coloring differed. The Nordic blond had sharp features and an aquiline nose, while the dark-haired man had blunter features. Both were gorgeous. Both also looked lean, mean, and dangerous as they surveyed the class, obviously looking for someone.
“No books, no bags . . . They can’t be students,” Lydia commented, ogling the pair, and then she suggested, “Ooooh, maybe they’re new TAs.”
She was probably already planning on requesting after hours help, Ildaria thought on a sigh and muttered, “Or bloodsucking putas here to execute someone.”
“What?” Lydia turned on her with amusement, but Ildaria just shook her head and stared at the two men, her thoughts racing. She knew exactly who they were—Valerian and Tybo were Enforcers—or rogue hunters as her kind liked to call them. The immortal version of police, sent out by the Immortal Council to hunt down rogue immortals who had been misbehaving. Normal people, or mortals, like Lydia, would have called them vampire hunters if she had any idea that immortals existed. But Lydia didn’t know that.
“What are you doing?” Lydia asked with amazement as she watched her snatch up her bag from the floor and unzip it. “You don’t know those guys, do you?”
Mouth tightening, Ildaria didn’t respond. Instead, she quickly shoved her notebook and pen inside.
“You do know them,” Lydia gasped with mounting excitement. “Oh. You have to introduce me to them.”
“Trust me. You don’t want to meet them. They’re trouble,” Ildaria said bitterly, wondering if she’d be executed at once, or have to wait around for a Council trial before the deed was done.
“The most interesting men are always trouble,” Lydia assured her, gathering her own books with the obvious intention of joining her to meet the men.
Ildaria didn’t waste her breath trying to dissuade her again. Instead, she simply said, “Stay here,” and slipped into the girl’s mind to make her stay. When Lydia immediately relaxed back in her seat and turned to face the front of the class, Ildaria stood, slung her bag over her shoulder and scooted sideways along the row of occupied seats until she reached the stairs. She ascended them quickly, keeping her expression blank now that she was facing the men. She wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of showing her worry and fear.
Tybo and Valerian didn’t say a word when she joined them. They merely took up position on either side of her to escort her from the lecture hall and then the building.
It wasn’t until they were outside, walking the dark path toward the parking lot that Tybo spoke.
“You couldn’t resist, could you?”
Ildaria’s shoulders hunched instinctively in a protective move, but she forced them straight again and said firmly, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“You’ve been playing vigilante again,” he accused.
“I haven’t,” Ildaria assured him.
“You were caught on video tossing around some big bastard twice your size,” Valerian informed her, joining the conversation as they reached the parking lot. “It was uploaded onto Twitter or Instagram or something where Mortimer found it. He showed it to Lucian.”
Ildaria sucked in an alarmed breath at that, but insisted, “I wasn’t playing vigilante.” Unsure which incident had been caught on film, she added, “I was walking to my car after class, heard a girl scream and tried to help. What was I supposed to do? Just ignore it?”
“Yes,” Tybo said with exasperation.
Stopping, Ildaria turned on him with disbelief. “So you would have just ignored a woman screaming for help?”
Tybo’s eyes shifted away, telling her that he wouldn’t, but then his gaze returned to her, and he said, “Well, maybe I couldn’t have ignored it, but I sure as hell would have made sure I didn’t get caught on video if I did.”
Ildaria opened her mouth to respond, but paused and glanced to the side instead, when a woman’s scream sounded. Her eyes widened with dismay when she saw a struggling, young female being dragged toward the open door of a van at the far end of the parking lot. Ildaria had barely recognized that she was witnessing an abduction when Tybo and Valerian charged past her, racing for the other end of the parking lot at speed. Immortal speed. Inhuman speed.
Instinct almost had Ildaria charging after them, but Tybo’s words were still ringing in her head: Well, maybe I couldn’t have ignored it, but I sure as hell would have made sure I didn’t get caught on video if I did.
Her gaze slid around the parking lot, noting a few other university students around. There were still more nearer the buildings. Some of them were alone, some in pairs, some in clusters. Several had started forward as if to help, but were now slowing as they saw Tybo and Valerian charging in. The rest were raising their cell phones. Some were probably just taking pictures, but others were undoubtedly videotaping and there were probably still others that she couldn’t see who were doing both. Such was the world today. Camera phones had changed everything, she thought with a shake of the head, and then Tybo’s words slid through her mind again.
I sure as hell would have made sure I didn’t get caught on video if I did.
Snorting under her breath, Ildaria stayed where she was, pulled out her cell phone, and began to record too.
By the time the excitement was over, and Tybo and Valerian had handed the culprit over to the campus police and the young woman to the care of the EMTs, Ildaria’s phone was back in her pocket and she was leaning against their black SUV, waiting. She knew it was theirs because the license plate was RogueH4.
When they reached her, she commented mildly, “So, you can’t ignore a woman in trouble any more than I can.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Tybo muttered, exchanging a chagrined glance with Valerian as he pulled out his key fob and hit the button to unlock the SUV doors.
“Did you notice all the people videotaping?” she asked next.
Both men stopped dead at her words and turned to look around the parking lot. Many of the witnesses who had been filming were gone now, most leaving when the campus police had arrived. But there were still a few watching them with phones out, still recording.
“Damn,” Tybo growled.
Valerian sighed and said, “You take the two on the right side of the parking lot, and I’ll—”
“Don’t bother,” Ildaria interrupted as the pair started to move. “It’s already been uploaded to the net at least once.”
When both of their heads swiveled toward her with alarm, she smiled sweetly. “I tagged Lucian Argeneau on mine. He’s probably looking at it right now.”
“Ah, crap,” Tybo muttered.
“Now you know how I feel,” she said grimly and turned to get into the SUV, leaving them to follow at their leisure. When she finished doing up her seat belt and glanced out, she saw that the two men were still standing beside the vehicle, but with their phones out now. Looking for the video, she supposed with amusement and guessed they’d found at least one version of it when they both began to curse.
Releasing a satisfied little sigh, she leaned back in her seat to wait for them to get over their upset and take her to Lucian. Oddly enough, they didn’t seem as eager to get her there as they had been when they’d pulled her from class. It was a very quiet ride to the Enforcer house, with a lot of angry and accusing glares cast her way.

About the Author

LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author who is known for her hysterical historicals as well as the popular Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series. With her witty and charming personality, Sands describes books as, “Waking dreams or stories, tales to amuse, entertain and distract us from everyday life.” She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there are occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus.

Visit http://www.lynsaysands.net/ for more information

Review // Nightshade by Keri Lake

October 29, 2021

Nightshade by Keri Lake

You belong to me, Farryn. Should another man dare to lay so much as a finger on you, I will flay his hand and shine my boots with his skin.

────── ♔ ──────


Nightshade by Keri Lake

Nightshade by Keri Lake


Hopefully book 1
Release - October 29, 2021
Genre - Dark Paranormal Gothic romance / fated mates
Multiple POV - 1st and 3rd person
Heat Level - 3.5 / slow slow slow burn and a few scenes
Format/Source - eARC provided by the author (Thank you @ Give Me Books PR)
Page Count - 664
Publisher - Indie

A love so forbidden, it would shake the heavens ...

My father called them messengers.
He once told me they walked among us, and that somewhere in this dark and godless city, there shined a faint sliver of hope. I had only to look for the signs.

Well, I’ve spent my whole life investigating the inexplicable, and all I've found are the unsettling vestiges of iniquity - the evidence of another world shrouded by the obscure. Purgatory to some, where depravity hides in shadows, and girls like me are little more than delicious bites of temptation.

Others call it Nightshade.

This peculiar place is where I first met the cold and callous recluse living in a decaying cliffside cathedral. Jericho Van Croix is the epitome of everything I’ve been told to fear. A raven-winged harbinger who wears intrigue like a warm black cloak. An enigma that I’m determined to unravel – even if it means getting closer than I should.

One touch is forbidden. Even so much as a kiss would be my demise. But the sin on his lips burns me up like a wild flame, and his growing infatuation weakens my resolve.

Giving him what he wants, though, will mean no chance for redemption, or escape. What's worse is, the signs I’ve followed yet failed to see all these years begin to unmask a terrifying reality:

That falling may be my only saving grace.

Purchase Links

Amazon CA * Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon AU
Free to read with Kindle Unlimited

Nightshade by Keri Lake

My Two Cents

This read exactly as advertised! Just hearing about this story in the Vigilante Vixens group had me hungry... and I'm still ravenous because I want more Jericho Van Croix!!

Standing across from me, with the bolts of lightning at his back, the storm that still raged around us never once ruffling the feathers of his wings, he was sublime. Chaotic. Dissonance in the flesh. Both terrifying and incredible at the same time.


Nightshade was dark and depraved. Gothic and gruesome. Dirty and a bit disgusting. Nightshade was utterly delicious!!

Who knew reading over 600 pages of gothic PNR would be just what I needed?

I can't even give you anything about the plot or characters without giving some vital piece of this story away. Know that Jericho is an immortal who would make any woman want to be deserving of him. I love my soul, but... And Farryn was as annoying as any almost virginal, somewhat pure female would be, but she had a knack for hitting all of the right notes with me. So while she frustrated me, she made me cheer her on. While she had me rolling my eyes hard, she also made me smile and hope and dream.

I could have done without the extremely slow build, but then again, this story probably wouldn't have worked as well as it did if it were any faster. The world building was seriously on point!

Guessing the truth is easy, but knowing the truth, living the truth, understanding the truth... I'm still unsure what the truth really is. I'm kinda loving this opaque bubble I'm living in right now.

I want more.
I need more.
GIVE ME MORE!!
The end?

Nightshade by Keri Lake
Nightshade by Keri Lake

Excerpt

“It’s supposed to storm tonight. I’ve been told it’s dangerous up here when there’s lightning.” Hand in his, I let him guide me up the tower’s narrow, stone stairwell, lit only by the few flickering lamps that hung from the brackets on the wall.
Grip tightening as if I might try to get away, he glanced over his shoulder at me. “You’ve nothing to worry about.”
The stairwell opened up to beams and scaffolds, moving gears and the tired sounds they made. We hit a magnificent landing en route toward the bell at the tower's pinnacle, where the back end of the clock’s enormous hands ticked off the seconds in mocking. Counting down the end of innocence. I’d heard the vague rumors of the things that happened to girls in the bell tower. The utter depravity held mostly secret by its ancient walls.
“How can you be so sure?” I asked, stalling at a window, through which a cloud of lightning gave an ominous flicker over the black sea below.
His firm hand gripped me possessively, and before I even realized he’d changed direction, he backed me into the wall. Capricious as the wind that rapped against the window, he fixed his attentions on me, the chilled stones at my back a reminder that there was no escaping him.
The gentle brush of his knuckles down my cheek belied the shadow of malice that slipped behind his otherwise cold, inscrutable eye. “Because I’m so unreasonably rapacious when it comes to you, Miss Ravenshaw, that not even a bolt of lightning should dare touch your skin without consequence.”
In that moment, the thunder seemed more distant, somehow, or perhaps it was the incessant thump of my heart drowning it out.
“You’re jealous of lightning?”
He leaned in closer, the delicious scent of bergamot and licorice as intoxicating as the warm absinthe still pulsing through my veins. His lips traced a featherlight path along my jaw. Teeth grazed my earlobe, breath hot against my neck, as he whispered, “I’m jealous of anything that occupies your mind so unremittingly when you’re with me.”

About the Author

Keri Lake is a dark romance writer who specializes in demon wrangling, vengeance dealing and wicked twists. Her stories are gritty, with antiheroes that walk the line of good and bad, and feisty heroines who bring them to their knees. When not penning books, she enjoys spending time with her husband, daughters, and their rebellious Labrador (who doesn’t retrieve a damn thing). She runs on strong coffee and alternative music, loves a good red wine, and has a slight addiction to dark chocolate.

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