BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – Just One Night by Lauren Layne

Just One Night

By Lauren Layne

JON

  • Blog Stop: Penny Dreadful Books & Reviews
  • Post Date: 4.30.2014
  • Topic/Title: The Almost-Virgin Heroine

GUEST POST

One of the questions I get most often about Just One Night is why I made the decision to make Riley an “almost virgin.” (Note, that’s not a spoiler … it’s on the back of the book!) Despite her super-sexy reputation at Stiletto magazine, all of Riley’s sexual experiences are based on exceptionally good interview techniques, not personal experience. Readers want to know why … a couple have even claimed it’s unbelievable, and that’s where I’ll have to respectfully disagree. See, it’s not that Riley intended to have all sexual experience stop after her “first time” in college. But a few months passed after that first time, and then a year, and she didn’t meet the right guy, which is no big deal. But then Riley got a job at Stiletto and got assigned to a story about sexy-times. So to cover for her lack of experience, she did some research and made it really good. Too good. She got asked to write another. And then another. Before she knew it, Riley was a full on “sexpert“, and nobody seemed to notice that she never used “I” in her articles! Poor Riley … the longer she went without sex, the wider the gap between her magazine-advice and personal experience got. So she kept putting off making that admission, and alas … a vicious circle. It’s sort of like when you meet someone for the first time and get their name, only to promptly forget it. But then you run into them again … and then again, and again … now you REALLY should be asking their name, but you can’t because you waited too long, and they’ll know that you’ve been clueless this entire time! It’s like that for Riley, except it’s so much worse because instead of a name, it’s something sooo much more intimate on the line. BUT! Don’t worry about Riley … she’s about to make up for lost time 🙂

Author Info

Lauren LayneLauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Layne moved to New York City, where she now writes full-time. She lives with her husband and their plus-size Pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

Connect with Lauren: Facebook | Twitter | Website

Author links http://laurenlayne.com/  https://www.facebook.com/LaurenLayneAuthor  https://twitter.com/_LaurenLayne

Just-One-Night-Lauren-Layne2 JUST ONE NIGHT: Sex, Love and Stiletto Series | Written by Lauren Layne Published by Loveswept | ISBN: 978-0-34554727-9 | On sale: April 22nd, 2014

Blurb

New York’s hottest “sexpert” has been living a lie—and it’s up to one man to keep her honest . . . all night long. Riley McKenna knows sex – good sex, bad sex, kinky sex…Her articles in Stiletto magazine are consistently the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But Riley has a secret…all that sexy talk? Not an ounce of it comes from personal experience. Her own bedroom escapades are more limited than even her best friends know. When her editor requests that all columnists write something more personal for Stiletto’s anniversary issue, Riley turns to the one man she’s always been able to count on and calls in the favor of a lifetime. Sam Compton would do anything for Riley McKenna. Anything except be her experimental sex toy. He refuses her request. At least until she tells him that it’ll either be him or she’ll go to someone else. And that, Sam can’t accept. Reluctantly he agrees to her terms—one night of completely meaningless sex in the name of research. Riley thinks she’s prepared for what awaits her in Sam’s bed.  After ten years of writing about sex, actually doing it shouldn’t be that different, right? So wrong. What starts as “one time only” becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn first-hand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.

Buy Links

Link to Follow Tour: http://tastybooktours.blogspot.com/2013/10/now-booking-tasty-virtual-book-tour-for_29.html

Rafflecopter Giveaway

(Lauren Layne Prize Pack with: Review Copies of Stiletto Series, Loveswept Tote and Mug or $15.00 E-Retailer Gift Card of Winner’s Choosing )

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW

To anyone who has read any of Lauren Layne’s work it will be no surprise that Just One Night is just plain adorable. Her characters are likeable and with each installment of her series you are eager to see what she has in store for the next member of the Stiletto staff. For Stiletto’s anniversary issue the staff is tasked with an assignment to write a personal account related to their life. This is a significant problem for Riley McKenna, who despite popular opinion is sadly lacking in the personal experience required for this assignment. She decides that the answer lies with Sam Compton the object of her affection. Sam feels the same about Riley but has convinced himself that they can’t be together…or can they?

I am continually awed and impressed at Ms Layne’s skill in depicting a story rife with emotion yet never straying into the maudlin soap operalike situations a less talented author might implement. Just One Night is just as fun as its predecessors and leaves the reader anxious to see what awaits Emma, the last man standing if you will and whether her ex-fiancé will be the one to complete her story.

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

GUEST REVIEWER – teachergirl73

The-Cuckoos-Caling

A friend gave me a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith ( a.k.a. J.K Rowling, for my birthday with the recommendation that it was an easy but enjoyable read which just happened to be what I was looking for. I might be one of the few elementary educators out there that did not enjoy the Harry Potter series. My lack-lustre reaction to the series was really more about the genre itself, rather than Rowling’s writing. I read the first book because I felt that I should to know what my students were reading but I never pursued the rest of the series. So, when it came to reading Rowling’s adult fiction, I was not opposed to it but I also wasn’t rushing to the bookstore to get one of the first copies either.

My friend was right, The Cuckoo’s Calling was an easy book to get hooked on. It doesn’t hurt that I am also a huge fan of police-procedural dramas, particularly if they are set in the U.K., which is the basis for The Cuckoo’s Calling. The story begins with the crime scene of what at first glance looks like the suicide of a super-model in the dead of winter. Then the story fast forwards three months and we meet Cormoran Strike, a private investigator and his brand-new secretary Robin Ellacott. Their initial meeting is quite comical, and it seems like Strike might just be a few steps away from both personal ruin having just left his fiancé, leaving him homeless and living in his office. Add that to the lack of any paying clients, Strike’s luck appears to only run bad, until an old childhood acquaintance walks through his door asking for Strike’s help in proving that the death of his super-model sister was not suicide, but murder.

What I think that I liked the most about this story was Rowling’s character development. She did a fantastic job of creating characters with depth and enough visual description that I found that I didn’t want the story to end because I was enjoying the interaction between the characters so much. The other part about the novel that I really liked was that it didn’t seem to need the introduction of the macabre or gruesome details to move the plot along. Instead, Rowling relied on creating well-developed characters (and some quite colourful!) who left you wondering who really did what, right until the end of the novel.

I am looking forward to reading more about Cormoran Strike and his trusty side-kick Robin Ellacott in their next adventure The Silkworm, which will be published by Mulholland Books this summer.

Grade: B+

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After several years with the Royal Military Police, Robert Galbraith was attached to the SIB (Special Investigative Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.

RELATED ARTICLES

 

 

The Lemon Grove – Helen Walsh

  • TLGTitle: The Lemon Grove
  • Author: Helen Walsh
  • ISBN 0345813960 (ISBN13: 9780345813961)
  • Series: Stand Alone
  • Published: February 25th 2014 by Random House Canada
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Genre/s: Literary Fiction
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Source: Publisher
  • Rating: B-

The Lemon Grove was a sultry, decadent read that immediately put me in mind of indulgence of all manner. Despite the excellent writing and exquisite descriptions I found I had trouble empathising with Jenn’s character.

Taking place over the course of one week, The Lemon Grove lands in the heat of Deia, a village on an island off the southeast coast of Spain. Jenn and Greg are on their annual holiday to enjoy languorous, close afternoons by the pool, and relaxed dinners overlooking the rocks. But the equilibrium is upset by the arrival of their teenage daughter, Emma, and her boyfriend, Nathan. Jenn, in her early forties, loves her (older) husband and her (step)daughter and is content with her life, she thinks. But when this beautiful, reckless young man comes into her world, she is caught by a sexual compulsion that she’s seldom felt before. As the lines hotly blur between attraction, desire and obsession, Jenn’s world is thrown into tumult-by Nathan’s side, she could be young and carefree once again, and at this stage in her life, the promise of youth is every bit as seductive as the promise of passion.

For all intents and purposes Jenn is happily married, she and her husband Greg have visited Deia many times. What sets this visit apart is the impending arrival of their fifteen year old daughter with her boyfriend. While this occurrence is not in and of itself so very unusual, doing so at the relatively young age of fifteen did give me pause particularly with a boy they have not met before. Emma pleaded and cajoled Jenn into encouraging Greg to allow her to bring her new older boyfriend along. As a parent I am familiar with the “playing both ends against the middle tactic”, what was more discordant was the depiction of this mother daughter relationship. Jenn married Emma’s widowed father when she was just a toddler making Jenn the only mother Emma would have ever known. However, Emma and Jenn’s actions throughout the novel were more characteristic of a more traditional antagonistic step-parent child relationship with that largely unspoken division of “you’re not my real parent”, where the biological parent is still living or at least has lived long enough to act as a parent to the child in question. Emma’s mother died when she was still in infancy and Jenn’s work as a care giver should have made her a natural adoptive mother to Emma. This not the case though, Jenn allows Emma and Greg both to exclude her from their relationship instead of demanding her parental rights.

Nathan’s arrival highlights Jenn’s largely unrecognized mid-life crisis and she is painfully susceptible to his machinations. Jenn seems to view Emma more as a rival rather than feeling guilt for her actions, if not in undermining her daughter then I would think out of loyalty toward her husband. Perhaps I am idealizing the relationship between parent and child and while I acknowledge that rivalry does exist between some mothers and daughters. Jenn’s almost complete disregard of Emma’s feelings seemed particularly out of keeping even considering they were not in fact blood relations. Nathan’s singular appeal also escaped me beyond his physical beauty, which seemed not to be compelling enough for Jenn’s to take the risks that she does.

Ultimately, while I question the veracity of Jenn’s actions particularly her lack of empathy or really even remorse The Lemon Grove is a quick, compelling read that made me heartily wish for a pitcher of Sangria, Mediterranean food and the opportunity to sunbathe.

HWHelen Walsh was born in Warrington in 1977 and moved to Barcelona at the age of sixteen. Working as a fixer in the red light district, she saved enough money to put herself through language school. Burnt out and broke, she returned to England a year later and now works with socially excluded teenagers in North Liverpool.

Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.

 

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – Protection by Elise de Sallier

GUEST POST – Elise de Sallier

How do you write a historical romance in modern times? How do you get into that past mind set, what is your writing process and what sort of research did you have to do?

I imagine it’s different for every writer, but for me it’s just a matter of picturing the setting, being aware of the customs and restrictions of the time, having a good understanding of my characters’ personalities, motivations, and how their upbringing and station would effect their actions, and then setting them loose! Plus I watch a lot of Sherlock (US and UK versions) to capture the awesome accents and layered dialogue. As for getting into the past mind set . . . I’ve read an enormous number of historical romances over the years, love Jane Austen, and have lost count of how many times I’ve watched Pride and Prejudice in all it’s forms. I spend a lot of time browsing Wikipedia and the multitude of blogs dedicated to the Regency, Victorian, and now Medieval eras, depending on which story I am working on.

While I enjoy learning about the fascinating customs and cultures of the various times, I’m not a fan of books that are so heavy on the history, or use such convoluted language, that they lose the ‘story’. The romance and relationships are the primary factor for me, regardless of the genre. While I don’t mind being a little challenged by the vocabulary, and I do enjoy picking up or including snippets of history along the way, I read—and write—to escape, to get caught up in the excitement and mystery of another time, to engage with the characters, and to journey with them through their highs and lows. I may write historical romances that contain their fair share of drama, action, steamy love scenes, and even a dose of angst, but I’m a lover of fairy-tales who guarantees my readers a happily ever after.

Author Bio:

Author Pic 1A great believer in living happily ever after, Elise began her lifelong obsession with the romance and paranormal genres when she was far too young to be reading either. After more than thirty years of marriage to her very own romantic hero, she now knows great relationships don’t just happen, they take work . . . which doesn’t mean writing about them can’t be a whole lot of fun!

While raising a family, Elise established a career as a counsellor and family therapist. Seeking an escape from the stresses of her work, she discovered the world of fan fiction, and her timid writer’s muse made its voice heard. Two point three million hits, twenty thousand reviews, and an e-mail from an acquisitions editor at The Writer’s Coffee Shop later, and her life found a new and fascinating direction.

Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love . . . eventually. 

Connect with Elise de Sallier on: 

Protection A Forbidden Love: Book Two

By Elise de Sallier

Protection_Low-Res_Cover

Genre: Romance/ Historical

ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-231-0

Published by: The Writers Coffee Shop

Available from: AmazonKoboBarnes and Noble, and TWCS PH

In the much awaited conclusion to Innocence, A Forbidden Love – Book One, Nathaniel, the Marquis of Marsden, is left reeling at the revelation of Lisa’s royal heritage. Keeping her safe has always been his priority, and he is determined to protect her . . . from the King’s machinations, their enemies, and her own overly generous nature if necessary.

Although overjoyed to be reunited with Nathaniel, Lisa fears she made a better mistress than she will a marchioness. Longing for a return to the freedom they shared when he thought her a commoner, she does her best to live up to his—and society’s—expectations, but she’s only willing to compromise so far. Being kept in the dark is no longer an option. Despite the unexpected pleasure she discovered in Nathaniel’s arms, if there is one thing Lisa has learned  . . .  ignorance is far from bliss.

Praise for Protection:

After the ending of Innocence, which was by far one of the best historical romances I’ve read, I wanted to scream. What was going to happen? How would it end? Would Lisa and Nathaniel finally be together, or had everything been for naught… Rarely, in the romance world, do we get the story from both the hero and the heroine, but Elise does an amazing job of pulling you in and letting you see the world far beyond the innocent maid we encountered in the first book.” –Amazon Review

This book is filled with suspense, intrigue, secrets, romance and the kind of sizzling desire between Nathaniel and Anneliese that leaves you wanting more… I loved this story and was so extremely excited to read it and I will cherish it alongside my Jane Austin Collection… Elise de Sallier is an amazing romance writer bringing true romance back into our lives.” –CrazyDaisy Amazon Review

 Also by Elise de Sallier:

Innocence

A Forbidden Love: Book One

Innocence_Low-Res_Cover-2

AmazonKoboB&N and TWCS PH

Praise for Innocence:

“A well written book, I look forward to reading more by this author.” –Karen Hogan

“I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical romance.” -Jo-Anne

“The knowledge of the time period and customs is breathtakingly accurate.” –Lindsey Gray

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Paperback Innocence A Forbidden Love: Book One & Protection A Forbidden Love: Book Two by Elise de Sallier
Paperback  Protection A Forbidden Love: Book Two by Elise de Sallier
 e-book  Protection A Forbidden Love: Book Two by Elise de Sallier

COVER REVEAL & TEASER – Broken by Lauren Layne

BROKEN by Lauren Layne

Teaser Reveal and Cover Spotlight

Lauren Layne, the author of the hit New Adult romance Isn’t She Lovely, and Random House’s Flirt imprint, are thrilled to share a first look at BROKEN, Lauren’s upcoming New Adult romance, and spotlight her gorgeous new cover!

Broken

BROKEN by Lauren Layne

Flirt New Adult Romance

On sale: September 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-553-39035-3

About the book:

Lauren Layne’s heart-wrenching novel tells the story of a girl with secrets, a guy with scars, and a love that could save them both . . . or destroy them.

When Olivia Middleton abandons the glamour of Park Avenue for a remote, coastal town in Maine, everyone assumes she’s being the kind do-gooder she’s always been. But Olivia has a secret: helping an injured war veteran reenter society isn’t about charity—it’s about penance. Only, Olivia’s client isn’t the grateful elderly man she’s expecting. Instead, he’s a brooding twenty-four-year-old who has no intention of being Olivia’s path to redemption . . . and whose smoldering gaze and forbidden touch might be her undoing.

Paul Langdon doesn’t need a mirror to show him he’s no longer the hotshot quarterback he was before the war. He knows he’s ugly—inside and out. He’ll do anything to stay in self-imposed exile, even accept his father’s ultimatum that Paul tolerate the newest caretaker for three months or lose his inheritance. But Paul doesn’t count on the beautiful twenty-two-year-old who makes him long for things that he can never have. And the more she slips past his defenses, the more keeping his distance is impossible.

Now Paul and Olivia have to decide: Will they help each other heal? Or are they forever broken?

** Teaser Reveal!**

Olivia squirms. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I’ve never known a female to acquiesce that easily without a

catch. How about you hit me with it now and get it over with?”

Olivia shrugs. “Fine. I was going to say that I won’t run alone, if you promise to go with me.”

“No,” I say, almost before she’s finished her sentence.

“Why not?”

I rap my cane once against the ground. “Well, for starters, despite the fact that there are tortoises that could surpass your sorry excuse for a jog, I’m in no shape to accompany even the most pathetic of runners.”

“What a handy skill you have of overloading a sentence with insults,” she says as she reaches up to adjust her ponytail. “That must be helpful what with your thriving social life and all.”

I thump my cane against the ground again, studying her. “Must be nice, picking on the cripple.”

Olivia rolls her eyes. “Please. Your soul’s more crippled than your leg.”

She has no idea how right she is, and I have no intention of letting her anywhere close enough to find out. I’ve gotten good at shutting people out by pushing them away . . . being as nasty as possible until they reach their breaking point. But with her? It’s different.

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of BROKEN by Lauren Layne! Love everything Lauren Layne? Her newest adult contemporary romance in the Sex, Love and Stiletto series, JUST ONE NIGHT, is on sale now!

JON

Connect with Lauren Facebook  | Twitter  | Website

Still Waters – Spring Preview

shining“He would write it for the reason he felt that all great literature, fiction and nonfiction, was written: truth comes out, in the end it always comes out. He would write it because he felt he had to.”
Stephen King, The Shining    

 

Perhaps I am dating myself, but is there anyone who doesn’t recognize that iconic image of Jack Nicholson playing the part of Jack Torrance from Stephen King’s classic novel The Shining? I felt that it was particularly fitting given my excitement about upcoming posts. Despite the relative quiet recently, due to some unfortunate personal scheduling conflicts, there is a great deal to look forward to in the coming weeks. For a sampling read on!

Book Talk & Interview – Alena Graedon

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I recently had the great pleasure of speaking with Alena Graedon, author of The Word Exchange. A truly disturbing dystopian thriller featuring a daughter’s search for her father, which may or may not be tied to an insidious virus attacking technology and persons alike.

Author Feature & Retrospective  Simone St. James

SSJ

Having just finished her most recent work Silence for the Dead, I can state unequivocally that Simone St. James never disappoints. In fact, she just gets better and better, if you haven’t read her yet, don’t hesitate, just buy them all…but be prepared to sleep with the lights on afterward!

GUEST POSTElise de Sallier, author of Innocence will be writing about her follow up Protection.

IP

PROTECTION (A Forbidden Love, Book Two) – In the much awaited conclusion to Innocence, (A Forbidden Love, Book One) Nathaniel, the Marquis of Marsden, is left reeling at the revelation of Lisa’s royal heritage. Keeping her safe has always been his priority, and he is determined to protect her . . . from the King’s machinations, their enemies, and her own overly generous nature if necessary.

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – Just One Night by Lauren Layne

Just-One-Night-Lauren-Layne2

UPCOMING REVIEWS

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley – Eve Lattimore’s family is like every other on their suburban street, with one exception. Her son Tyler has a rare medical condition that makes him fatally sensitive to light, which means heavy curtains and deadlocked doors protect him during the day and he can never leave the house except at night. For Eve, only constant vigilance stands between an increasingly restless teenage son and the dangers of the outside world.

Until the night the unthinkable happens. When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that this family is not the only one on the quiet cul-de-sac that is more complicated than it appears. And as Eve is forced to shield her family from harm, there are some crises she cannot control—and some secrets that not even love can conceal.

DS

Exactly Where They’d Fall by Laura Rae Amos – With vivid characters, generous doses of humor, and palpable emotion, Exactly Where They’d Fall is a story about three friends forced to explore the complicated and fragile bonds of friendship and love. Fans of heartfelt, witty literary fiction, and smart women’s fiction will enjoy this charming and honest debut.

GSGolden State by Michelle Richmond – Doctor Julie Walker has just signed her divorce papers when she receives news that her younger sister, Heather, has gone into labor. Though theirs is a strained relationship, Julie sets out for the hospital to be at her sister’s side—no easy task since the streets of San Francisco are filled with commotion. Today is also the day that Julie will find herself at the epicenter of a violent standoff in which she is forced to examine both the promising and painful parts of her past—her Southern childhood; her romance with her husband, Tom; her estrangement from Heather; and the shattering incident that led to her greatest heartbreak.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

 

The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn – Sarah Pleinsworth can’t forgive Hugh Prentice for the duel he fought three years ago that nearly destroyed her family, sent her cousin fleeing, and left Hugh himself with a badly injured leg. That’s fine with Hugh, who can’t tolerate Sarah’s dramatic ways. But when the two are forced to spend a week together, they find that unexpected kisses, and mutual passion, may have the power to change both of their minds.

Written with Julia Quinn’s trademark style, The Sum of All Kisses is a witty and lighthearted Regency romance.

Sea of Shadows

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong –  In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court–one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh – Set on the rugged, mountainous west coast of Mallorca, this taut, sultry, brilliantly paced novel is an urgent meditation on female desire, the vicissitudes of marriage and the allure of youth.

TheHereandNow

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Last but not least

Im-Back

BLOG TOUR & GIVEAWAY – Shadows of Fate (Shadow Born #1) by Angela Dennis

Shadows of Fate Banner 450 x 169

BLOG TOUR

  • Cover-Shadows-of-FateTitle: Shadows of Fate
  • Author: Angela Dennis
  • ISBN1619219271 (ISBN13: 9781619219274)
  • Series: Shadow Born #1
  • Published: April 8th 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
  • Format: E-Book
  • Genre/s: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Source: Publisher

After witnessing her husband’s brutal murder, Brenna Baudouin lost control of her Shadow Bearer powers and wreaked havoc on her home world. Her penance: one hundred years policing hordes of supernatural misfits that spilled onto the Earthly plane after a cataclysmic war.

She’s on a routine exorcism run when she learns she’s been assigned a new partner. But there’s something about this Shadow Bearer that sparks her suspicions. Particularly when people closest to her start turning up as piles of ash.

Gray Warlow holds tight to the glamour that allows him to get close to the woman on whom he plans to wreak vengeance for betraying his people. Yet as he skillfully manipulates his way past her distrust, he begins to see her not as the heartless monster he was led to believe, but a strong, vulnerable woman.

As they work to put together the pieces of a killer’s macabre puzzle, an attraction deeper than blood and bone flares between them. And they must reveal their deepest secrets to avoid becoming the final targets.

EXCERPT

Copyright © 2014 Angela Dennis All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

Her gaze stretched to the bar. Beneath the glittering liquor bottles and burnt oak, a bottle of Jack in one hand and Grey Goose in the other, stood her target. Dirty blond hair brushed past his eyebrows, the rest tied back in a rubber band. He seemed innocent enough. As he flipped a glass bottle behind his back, muscles rippling on his shirtless body, magic seeped from his skin. It flowed around the women stretched across the bar, their assets on display as well as their lust.

Thankfully, he didn’t get much bang for his buck. This one was weak. Newly possessed, the demon hadn’t had time to gain a strong enough lock on the victim’s body. This shouldn’t take long. The piles of paperwork she had left on her desk might even get done tonight.

She pushed through the crowd, stripping her leather duster off her shoulders as she went. The black corset underneath, paired with tight leather pants, flattered her figure. She turned heads, especially the demon’s. She released the hair tie at the back of her neck. With a quick shake, her burnt copper curls slid down to her waist. She stopped at one of the tiny tables and threw her coat across the barstool.

Eyes closed, she pretended the music was something more aesthetically pleasing as she stepped onto the dance floor, keeping her mark at the forefront of her mind. She felt his eyes on her body as she swayed to the music. Hips gyrating to the heavy beat, she pulled on her glamour to blend in with the other dancers as she let her magic wrap his body. Losing herself in the music, she let him watch her move, feeling his desire amp. His energy vibrated as he made his way through the crowd, his power wild.

His hands draped her hips and he pulled her to him, his magic sliding over her body. Darkness tinged her aura, but she shrugged it off. Dealing with demon magic never got easier, but his wasn’t powerful. Grinning, she wrapped her hand around his neck, pulling him close until her lips brushed his ear. His burning skin jumped against her touch.

They stilled for a moment as the DJ switched tracks. “Think you could get me a drink?” she breathed, brushing a hand down his bare back. “I’m thirsty.” She grinned as he nodded, eager, the demon jumping beneath his skin.

“Anything for you, darlin’.” He wrapped a possessive arm around her waist, moving her toward the bar. “What’s your poison?”

“Whiskey. Straight.”

A grin played on his lips. “My kinda woman.”

Pushing past the other bartender, he grabbed a bottle of Jack and poured her shot. She caught it as it slid across the splintered wooden bar. Tossing it back, she reveled in the slow burn of the liquor. It was an old favorite. Just cause she was working didn’t mean she couldn’t treat herself.

She tossed back a second shot, thankful she didn’t have the ability to get drunk. Giving the demon her best longing look, she leaned forward. “Thanks. I needed that,” she murmured. “What’s your name?”

“Zed.”

Leaning forward, she traced a finger down her cleavage. “Do you think you could give me a ride home, Zed?” she asked. She bit one finger in a nervous gesture, knowing he was buying it. “My friend went home with some guy and left me here. I can wait.”

His eyes flashed, and she knew she had him.

“Sure.” He glanced at the other bartender. “Give me a second. I got off an hour ago.”

Sure you did, she thought.

A few seconds later he was back, pulling on a t-shirt as he walked. The gesture was surprisingly human. With the demon hiding inside, the brimstone dancing in his blood would keep his body uncomfortably hot, eventually burning him alive from the inside out. It may be the middle of winter, but he would never feel the cold.

He held up his keys as she rose to meet him. “My truck’s out back.”

She moved closer, letting him drape an arm over her shoulder. “Let me grab my coat.” The duster was where she had left it. She draped it over her arms as she turned on her psychic link with Xavier. The mage accepted, and Brenna turned to the demon, knowing Xavier was watching through her eyes. At this point, the mark’s lust was so inflamed he wouldn’t notice the slight change of color in her irises.

Wrapping her free arm around Zed’s waist, she led him through the mass of patrons to the exit. As they stepped into the wintry air, she noticed the bikers again. They stood beside their Harleys, watching her warily as she passed. She worried the tension might give her away, but Zed was oblivious.

She led him over the cobblestone to where Xavier waited. As they closed in on the shadows, she could feel Zed’s eagerness spike.

The darkness moved over them, hiding them from prying eyes. Xavier’s power sang in the night, a compass pointing her to the van. Leaving Zed to follow behind, she moved to the gray van and pressed her back against its side. Zed moved toward her, all pretense of humanity stripped away. The graceless stride betrayed his hunger as green scales peeled away his skin and his eyes turned to blood red slits.

Zed spit at her. The saliva sizzled across the corset, burning a hole in the leather.

Damn. That had been one of her favorites.

“Stuff something in its mouth. I need to concentrate.”

“Deal with it. Even in the harness this thing is a bitch to restrain.” White lines creased Xavier’s eyes, and Brenna worried his injuries were more severe than he let on.

Zed’s fingers began to work the trappings of the harness, but Xavier pulled him back, one arm around his scaly neck. In an explosion of power, Zed pulled free, knocking Xavier into the side of the van. Saliva dripping from his fangs, Zed growled at Brenna, and snapped the other wrist free. Jumping across the van, he pinned Brenna beneath him. Spittle fell from his lips, scorching its way across her skin. She pressed her palm against his face and pushed with all her strength, ignoring her burning flesh. Then, suddenly, he was gone.

Getting to her feet, she saw Xavier had strapped the beast back into the restraints.

“You got it?” Once she started, she wouldn’t be able to help him anymore. All of her energy would go into the exorcism.

“Yeah. Hurry.”

A sharp giggle jarred Brenna’s attention. Looking up, she caught Hilda peering through the glass from the front seat. “If he passes out, I can help.”

“This isn’t a game.”

Zed slammed against his restraints. “I like ghosts. They burn like whiskey going down.”

“Shut up,” Xavier growled.

Tuning them out, Brenna let the words of the exorcism spell spill from her lips. Her hand pressed against the rune on the demon’s hip. The carving glowed and the green light grew until it filled the van.

Zed fought against the restraints. Obscenities, the kind only a demon would know or understand, ricocheted throughout the vehicle.

Xavier stuck a thick leather strap in the demon’s mouth, cutting off his tirade.

Brenna gathered her magic. It pooled through her and into the athame as she sliced the silver blade into the center of the rune. Blood seeped from the wound, spilling over the green light. It exploded with power, slamming Brenna against the van. Xavier fared better, still wrapped around the demon. He was surrounded by a musty green steam that reeked of brimstone.

Continuing the chant, Brenna pulled a pouch of blessed sand from the crevice between her breasts. Throwing a pinch onto the rune, she banished the demon back behind the Veil. Golden steam rose from the wound. It twined around Brenna thick and dense, but she continued to chant even as its foulness tried to seep inside her mouth.

Darkness teased the edges of her vision for a few moments, then the warmth of Xavier’s power wrapped around her body like a shield, pushing out the demonic essence. Time stood still as the final words filled the air. Then, in a flash, the beast was gone.

Brenna waited until he was on her, scales chaffing the sensitive skin of her face, then she dropped her glamour. The demon jerked back as her magic wrapped around his body, but it was too late. In one swift movement, she pulled the blade strapped to her back free and ripped the already tattered t-shirt away from his chest. Shifting her body weight, she slammed him against the vehicle even as his body mass grew, the demon pushing its way to the surface. One hand held Zed steady, the other slipped beneath his jeans to feel the skin of his hip.

“A little to the left,” the demon growled, body shaking, titillated despite itself.

He shifted his weight and slammed her against the brick wall behind her. His body pressed hard against hers, he ran a scaly tongue across her cheek. “You don’t have to get hostile, darlin’. I don’t mind if you like it rough.”

She let her power surge and kneed him in the crotch. Sparks flew as her spell sent him flying against the van. Keeping him in place with a holding spell, her fingers found the rune carved on his hip. She ripped away the denim as she tried to control the squirming demon.

“A little help?” she called out. She had pulled back the spell. Her full body weight was pressed against the demon, but he was starting to get free. Her magic had to be focused on breaking the possession; she couldn’t waste it restraining Casanova.

She released the demon as Xavier stepped from the shadows and slammed it against the van again. Subdued, the creature glared at them, its red eyes filled with hatred. Another hard slam dazed the creature, but only for a moment.

A flick of her hand and the back of the van opened. Xavier shoved Zed inside. As soon as he was strapped into the harness, Brenna ripped off his jeans. His hips now bare, she was able to see the rune carving, fresh as she had hoped.

Her ceremonial blade pulsed in her hand as she charged it with her energy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ADAngela Dennis lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, son and a Sheltie with a hero complex. When she is not at her computer crafting stories, she can be found feeding her coffee addiction, playing peek-a-boo, or teaching her son about the great adventures found only in books.

You can visit Angela at her blog www.angeladennisauthor.blogspot.com or at her website www.angeladennisauthor.com . She loves to hear from her readers, so find her on Twitter for a chat @angeladennis