It’s been months since the earth opened up and unleashed hell on us. Months scouring the decimated Midwest in search of a way to stop the spreading plague and save what’s left humanity.
Instead, I discover something far more vital.
Whatever hell unleashed is following us. He has the body of a gladiator and the cunning mind of a general. He also has the power to stop the plague at its source. And all he wants in return is me–willing or not.
But, in order to save what remains of the world, he’ll need to risk the one thing he wants most. Me. Perfect for fans of dystopian romance, frightening dark fey, and heroines with fire, Demon Defeat will take you to the edge of humanity–literally.
I’ve loved every book in this series, but for some reason, this one just didn’t wow me like they usually do. I think I had a harder time connecting with the characters in this one. They weren’t quite as three-dimensional to me as the previous books. It just felt like it was lacking the usual intensity, and while all the right words were on the page, the passion behind them didn’t feel like it was there.
I did enjoy the interactions between Andie and Molev, even though I wanted to smack her a few times. The secondary characters I either loved or hated. There was no inbetween. I’m curious to see what happens next, so I’ll be picking up the next book in the series. This one just didn’t wow me like the past stories have. I didn’t have the same connection as I typically do with the characters in this series, but it was still a good story.
*Disclaimer: The author did not request a review of this title. I purchased the book from Amazon and the review above is only my opinion.
He stole her heart then left without a goodbye. A year later and he’s back, telling her she needs protection—but the only protection she wants is from him.
The pre-deployment fling Navy SEAL Matteo ‘Delta’ Valente couldn’t forget has tortured him for his entire tour. A year later, Delta thought he was over it. Finally, he gets home, but runs into Kendra Larose again. It has been so long—but not long enough. With one look, she stirs something inside him that he’d tried to lock up after all those nights thinking of her, sleeping in dirt with nothing but his helmet for a pillow.
The problem he quickly realizes is that she’s in real danger. Delta’s instincts prove too powerful to override.
Kendra isn’t so convinced. Delta has just shown up, out of nowhere, with big claims that she’s in danger and needs protection? Kendra wants to see the hard evidence. She’s hated him ever since he didn’t call. She’d fallen hard, and he’d broken her heart with no apparent remorse.
A forensic specialist working for LAPD, Kendra has blood samples to run in the lab to get to the bottom of her latest case. The thing that becomes apparent is that her case intersects a little too neatly with Delta. She can’t quite figure out whose side he is on, why he’s back in her life and whether she can trust him or not. So, she keeps one big secret close to her chest.
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, sexual harrassment and assault.
Matteo ‘Delta’ Valente ran out of his Californian bungalow a little too damn early in the morning. Hell, he’d only been home for a few hours. After jamming his aching arm through his hunter green utility shirt, he buttoned it, trying to multi-task as he unlocked the dark truck which awaited him in his driveway. He was running behind—again.
For fuck’s sake.
Damn, sleeping a couple of hours a night is bound to catch up with me sooner rather than later. He grumbled as he slipped on his dark sunglasses to protect his hurting eyes from the blistering sun. Even in January, the sun was still beating down on him stronger than a direct RPG blast. Or maybe it just seemed that way because he was so damn drained.
“Matteo!” An elderly lady’s voice called out quietly from behind him, her Italian accent pouring through.
He whipped around, checking to make sure she was okay. The tiny old Italian lady stood at the edge of her bungalow’s stoop, a worried look in her eye. Using his hand to flatten back his chaotic dark blond hair, he regrettably realized another thing. He was way past due for a shave.
“Mrs. Romano.” Delta attempted a polite smile at his neighbor, hoping she wouldn’t notice the gashes on his knuckles from the previous night.
Mrs. Romano fretted, wringing her yellow dotted handkerchief as she batted her eyelashes up at him. He gritted his teeth under her gaze, willfully rejecting any concern she had—or judgment.
“Lovely morning, Matteo.” Her voice fluttered, darting her eyes down her empty driveway to the street.
Every other neighbor on the street had bins out. It was garbage day. Immediately, Delta realized that she needed help—but she didn’t want to ask.
“Want me to take your bins to the street, Mrs. Romano?” He shot that same, self-assured smile, like he was the most relaxed man in the world. It was a mask he was used to wearing.
A wide, relieved smile crossed her lips. “Yes, son. Please.”
Wasting no time, Delta moved around to the back of her home and shuffled out her garbage and recycling bins. It was the least he could do to try to keep up the ruse. He wasn’t an idiot. People had been looking at him funny since he’d rotated back from Syria again, three weeks before. Maybe it was the bruises that didn’t seem to heal or the fact that he always looked like he’d been ridden hard and put away wet the night before. Whatever it was, home had stopped feeling like home. He didn’t belong there anymore.
As he finished, Mrs. Romano waited at the top of her bungalow stoop with a homemade pistachio biscotti for him. Her kind eyes and compassionate spirit reminded him of his late mother’s—the last memories he had.
“Thanks,” Delta grunted as he took the baked good from Mrs. Romano.
His stomach was rumbling from the lack of sustenance. He was used to pushing his body to extremes, neglecting his own needs for the sake of his platoon, but things were going too far now.
“You’re a good man, Matteo…a very good man.” Mrs. Romano’s voice cut into his thoughts, a knowing twinkle in her eyes. “When are you going to find a Mrs. Valente?”
Delta let out a loud, sarcastic laugh, sloughing off the question. Shrugging, he coyly took a bite of the biscotti and moved toward his truck, waving goodbye. All she saw was his façade, like everyone else. If she only knew.
Mrs. Romano’s gaze didn’t relent as he leaped into the cab. He was in a rush—but it wasn’t just because of where he had to be. It was because of what he needed to get away from. He was damn sure that Mrs. Romano wouldn’t think so much of him if she knew what lingered underneath the surface.
I’m not a good guy. Not even close.
Slamming the gears of his truck into reverse, he pulled out of the driveway of his place, saluting Mrs. Romano on his way out. The fun and games were over. Now, he really had to focus. He was on a mission that morning—and things could get ugly.
Barreling down Oceanside Drive, Delta flipped on the radio—local LA news—and listened to the newscasters talking about a body discovered in South Central in one of the roughest blocks. It had been on the news all morning—tragedy porn for LA’ers. Delta listened for any pertinent intel as he set his GPS for the crime scene. He had questions that needed answers.
Gripping the steering wheel, Delta rolled his shirt sleeves up to let a little heat off, revealing his winding tattoos. It was far too hot for long sleeves, even by LA standards. They were in the middle of a bizarre mid-winter heat wave. But he didn’t have a choice. He had to cover up. There were things he didn’t want anyone to see—like the fresh laceration on his arm that was only going to add another scar.
As he stopped his truck at a red light, he pulled off his sunglasses and absently traced his fingers over the long scar that ran from his cheekbone up to his temple and eyebrow. A little less than two years old, it was a reminder that he should have died in the Syrian mountains. Hell, he should have died in a lot of operations, but undeniably that one.
Now, he was on borrowed time. He could feel it. He was never wrong about those things. He was playing with fire and some sort of fucked up luck that was about to run out.
The light turned green, and he hit the gas hard, not wanting to think about how he was spending that second chance at life. It sure as hell would make a priest cry. His mother had always said that he didn’t need to be led into temptation because he already knew the way.
The drive from his bungalow up into South Central wasn’t fast, but he drove aggressively. He knew how to scare the piss out of LA’s richest, stalling out the fast lane in their luxury cars.
Revving his truck and nearly eating up some dinky coupe in front of him, he peeled off the highway. Rounding the streets in the impoverished neighborhood, he transitioned into a different type of vigilant and cautious. Those streets bled a type of desperation that he’d only seen in war.
Delta drove up to the vicinity of the taped-off scene and chose to park well off in the distance to keep a low profile. Before jumping out of his truck, he popped a black baseball hat on, pulling the brim down low for as much anonymity as possible. He adjusted his long sleeves across his muscled forearms so his unpolished appearance would help him not to stand out too much. He looked like any hungover blue-collar laborer who spent too much time at the gym. Then again, that pretty much described any SEAL.
He walked up to the periphery of a building that police were investigating—an abandoned commercial warehouse. Delta guessed that whoever owned the aging building had been hit hard in the economic crash, so they’d left it to rot. From the insecure doors and broken windows, he would bet that criminals and drifters had been trespassing for a long time.
Delta gripped the police tape surrounding the epicenter and glanced around to see if the cops off to the side had noticed him. They had their backs turned, just for a moment, so he took his chance. As he slipped past, he slunk around the building into the shadows, and he observed. He paused in an enclave, watching cops come and go from the building, listening to the broken conversations of the investigators.
In all his years in the special forces, he’d become skilled at going unseen when he needed to. He could be a goddamn ninja. A lot of it just had to do with confidence—and looking like he belonged. That had turned out to be damn useful the previous few weeks. He’d been on leave from work, but it hadn’t been a fucking vacation. He’d been working on something else—something serious. And, in true Delta fashion, he’d been going it alone.
Crouching low and moving slow, Delta approached a broken window near the back of the building. He checked inside, seeing the room was empty. A ton of blood was splashed across the concrete floor, but there was no body in sight. Fuck. Had the cops already moved the corpse out? He reached into his pocket, readying his cell phone to snap pictures of anything that could aid him. Delta scanned the room for pertinent info. The graying building interior had the feel of an unrealized horror film, and a chill ran up his back as he wondered what the fuck had happened there.
Voices echoed from the front hall of the building, and Delta ducked down outside the window. He could hear the voice of someone entering the room, calling back details of the scene to the front of the building. His first instinct hadn’t been wrong. The victim had been using. And, unfortunately, his second instinct had been right too. She was there.
His body stiffened and his skin prickled, awareness flushing over him. He’d never forget her voice, even though he hadn’t heard it for a while. He’d bumped into her at Carrick’s wedding, just weeks after they’d hooked up, but that hardly counted. Had it already been a year? Hearty, feminine, sincere—every word she said danced out of her mouth. As he tried to regain focus, he slowly looked up and into the open window, enough to fully take in her candid, clever words. Her voice alone ran a wave of sensation up his spine that surprised him, after all that time. But it was nothing in comparison to when he finally laid eyes on her.
Sergeant Kendra Larose’s natural blonde hair bobbed into view. Delta adjusted his position, getting eyes on the interior of the crime scene and a better view of her—a woman he hadn’t seen since he’d deployed, spending the year fighting enemies with half the resolve that she had. A woman who had grown to hate him—and rightfully so.
I can’t let her see me.
After she tucked a stray lock behind her ear, Kendra was focused on the warehouse floor. Delta’s cock twitched as he watched her shift on her feet, her hips swaying. Blood pumped through his shaft as he drank in her body—a form that drew him to arousal so quickly, without fail. Never had he met such a natural beauty as her. Some guys might find her ordinary or plain, but he found her simply intoxicating. There was always just something about her—something that really got to him.
Even at a distance, he admired the machinations of her clever mind. She was looking down at a cluster of blood where a body once had lain, her lips and nose twitching that certain way that showed when she was really deep in thought. She was on to something. How much did she already know? Delta tried to see what she was seeing. He flexed his jaw, wondering if maybe it wasn’t fate that they’d met again. On his own, tracing the source of the drugs had proven to be an impossible task.
And just as a familiar man’s voice echoed through the space, Delta realized he was biting the side of his cheek, breathing heavier than usual and gripping the edge of the window like he was going to snap.
“This city is falling to pieces.” The man scoffed, coming into view.
Delta recognized him immediately as Staff Sergeant Hunter Greenwood. Delta had met the guy a year ago, around the same time that he had met Kendra. The Navy had put on a one-week training course for partners in law enforcement, extending the invite to LAPD. At the time, Delta had shown Kendra the ropes—training her how to safely rappel, while realizing that he needed to train her on protecting herself from creeps. Something about the way that Hunter looked at Kendra…
“He’s another military vet.” Kendra shook her head and furiously scribbled in her notebook. “They’ve already identified him.”
Prickles ran up the back of Delta’s neck as he watched Hunter stalk Kendra in the middle of the crime scene. Everything in Delta’s body screamed for violence as Hunter licked his bottom lip, carefully examining her. The scowl on his face deepened as she furthered her point.
“What do you bet his blood has traces of doxycycline?” Kendra turned to her boss.
“Come on.” He shook his head dismissively, straightening his jacket. “It’s a common antibiotic. Stop.”
“This is real, Hunter. We’ve seen traces of it in the other two bodies.” Kendra glared at her staff sergeant, standing her ground. “There’s a pattern here. Are they being targeted?”
“For what purpose?” he asked, an underlying threat in his voice.
“I don’t know yet.”
Hunter stilled, clearly judging her. The man looked damn tired, like he hadn’t slept for weeks.
“Let’s not start jumping to conclusions,” Hunter snapped back, his eye twitching. “Anything is possible, Kendra. Let’s check with the gangs first.”
“Hunter, please. The first two have been soldiers, not gangbangers,” Kendra replied slowly, flipping through her notes. “But why? Who’s after them—?”
A flash of rage visibly taking over, he cut her off. “We don’t have any reason to believe there are links between cases. This is LA. Murders happen all the time.”
“But there must be a connection.” Kendra glanced between her notebook, the blood splatter and Hunter, apparently confused by his messaging. “It’s this doxycycline. Isn’t it known to be used by the military as an antimalaria drug?”
“You’re asking the wrong questions.” Hunter strode toward her, his face darkening.
“Yes, but doxycycline—”
“You don’t get it.”
“They were soldiers—” Kendra countered again but halted as Hunter’s hand whipped up into the air, matched by a growl escaping his lips.
For a split second, Delta’s protective instinct thrust him forward, ready to fuck the guy up. But Hunter had recovered, using his raised hand to smooth back his hair.
“Fuck,” Hunter grumbled, shaking as he regained control.
Delta stiffened, his eyes wide open. What the fuck is he going to do with that hand? Kendra stumbled back in surprise, audibly sucking in breath. But before Delta could jump to her side, the enraged staff sergeant spun and marched toward the front of the building. Whatever he was up to, Delta saw a man who was losing control—a man who posed a threat. He was a ticking time-bomb. Didn’t she realize it?
Stunned, Kendra stood there alone, tightly clutching her notebook. She bit her lip, trembling, as if trying to get back to work. Delta sat back, confused as fuck at what he’d just witnessed. Delta knew right then and there that he had little choice. Things had just gotten more complicated.
I have to protect her.
Pulling out black gloves from his pocket, he slipped them on, preparing to leave no trace of what he was about to do. The scene before him had validated everything he’d seen since he’d been back from deployment. The body count was climbing.
Moving around the building a little farther, he gained entry to the interior. As he stalked through the shadows, making note of everything he saw, he was careful not to disturb anything, not even caked-on grime from years of abandonment. In stealth-mode, he slid out of the hallway into the darkest corner of the large room, not too far from Kendra. For a split second, he found himself just staring at her, drinking her in—the way she poured over her notebook then sharply analyzed the room before her. He had no doubt that her cunning mind was finding every anomalous detail.
And, yet again, he was proven right.
“And why are you here?” Kendra’s exasperated tone echoed over to where he stood, though she didn’t flinch or glance up from scribbling in her notebook.
Delta sucked in his breath, wondering if she meant…
“Yes, you.” She turned her chin slightly and shot a warning into the darkness, seeming to slice into his core. “Do you think I’m daft?”
Releasing the air in his lungs, he stepped forward—confident and relaxed, offering her a sly look as he crossed his arms. His charming ruse was too goddamn easy for him to make people see his way.
“Sergeant.” Delta shrugged. He narrowed his focus on her, giving her that grin that women loved. “Here we are, crossing paths again.”
“Crossing paths?” She balked.
“That’s right.” He kept his gaze intense, his body squared.
Turning away, she scoffed, “You’re acting like we’ve stumbled across each other at the grocery store.”
She shook her head in deep discontent, seemingly impervious to his charm. A chill ran up the back of his neck, her rejection biting. He hated it—but deserved it. Still, he stood there, watching.
“I’m too busy for this right now.” She spun, crossing her arms tightly, as if shielding herself. Her body language screamed of a woman who would not be fooled again.
“Too busy for me?” Delta pushed.
“I’ll go back to my original question.” She raised her eyebrows accusingly. “Why are you here? This is a secure crime scene, so you don’t belong here. I don’t care what security clearances you say you have.”
All the air got sucked out of the room, and he found himself momentarily searching for a response. Her bright, intelligent eyes left no stone unturned and demanded answers. She anxiously chewed her lip, giving him a rare glimpse of her girlish vulnerability—the type of vulnerability that made him voracious.
“We have a mutual purpose.” Delta let his face become stone cold serious, imparting the intensity he felt.
I’m a mom with three sweet young daughters. I have three jobs – mom, author, and analyst. Years ago, I grew up in a military family, went to a military university, worked alongside the military as an intel analyst, and my husband is (surprise!) a veteran. I’ve tried to write for anyone who wants to feel what it’s like to be with someone from that world – with all the good and the bad.
My heroes are grounded in reality, and are inspired by guys I know in the special forces. Guys who’ve been in combat, tasted war, and fought for what they believed in. They are really heroes, but raw and rough and broken in their own ways.
My heroines similarly come from the best parts of the women I know, and the challenges we all face. The relationships that they fall into have familiar characteristics for many, myself included. These heroines represent all of us, with our good and our bad laid bare.
In my stories, I illustrate, romanticize, and celebrate the harsh realities of duty, service, and sacrifice.
Forever Kiss: Valerie is haunted by dreams of a man she knows only as Cowboy, her seductive lover. But Cowboy is real. And he’s a vampire. Cade is the only one who can protect Valerie from Ridgemont, his Sire, and he’s determined to do just that — even if he must kidnap her to keep her safe.
Caught in a web of fear and passion, Valerie and Cade must learn to trust one another, even as Ridgemont stalks their every move. Their only hope of survival is the Forever Kiss.
Beth’s Kiss: Beth’s world comes crashing down when she’s kidnapped by Joaquin, a deadly immortal who means to use her in a plot to kill a pair of handsome vamps. Morgan and Garret are determined to avenge themselves against Joaquin, who murdered the woman they loved.
When they rescue Beth they must complete her transformation, saving her from the vampire virus raging through her system. But if Beth is to have a future with her two vampires, they must settle accounts with the ancient, powerful killer and his army of mercenaries.
Author’s Note: Forever Kiss was first published in 2004 and has been revised extensively, including added scenes and updated tech. I want to include a warning for those who might be triggered by the sexual assaults committed by the villains. I avoided going into detail and/or cut away from those scenes before they got truly horrific, but they’re certainly implied.
“I need you tonight.” His voice emerged from the darkness, a low male rumble of heat and hunger. “Will you give yourself to me?”
Valerie Chase sat up in her tumbled bed. The cowboy stood just outside the open French doors, watching her from the balcony as moonlight spilled around him. The brim of his white Stetson shadowed his face. It always had. She’d never seen his features clearly, not in all the years she’d dreamed of him.
His white cotton shirt stretched over broad shoulders and tucked into the worn jeans that hugged his long, muscled legs. Moonlight glinted on the star of a Texas Ranger pinned to his leather vest. He wore two gun belts crossed over lean hips, the holstered Colt revolvers forming a seductive frame for the thick, impressive ridge of his erection.
It was the way he’d always looked in her dreams, her cowboy fantasy, her dream lover. Her hero.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angela Knight’s romance writing career began in 1996, when she realized her dream of romance publication with Red Sage’s Secrets anthology. She is a New York Times best-selling author of more than fifty novels, novellas, and ebooks, including the Mageverse and Time Hunters series. Her career spans twenty plus years, earning her a Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine Career Achievement award in Paranormal Romance, as well as two Reviewers’ Choice awards for best erotic romance and best werewolf romance.
Angela is currently a writer, editor, and cover artist with Changeling Press LLC. She also teaches online writing courses with SavvyAuthors. In addition to her fiction work, Angela’s writing career includes a decade as an award-winning South Carolina newspaper reporter. She lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a thirty-year police veteran and detective with a local police department.
As a solitary witch, Maddy McKinley’s job is to ensure her community is safe from paranormal harm. When a routine neighborhood exorcism goes wrong, Maddy finds herself haunted by a poltergeist that has been hounding her family for generations.
With the help of the hunky godling across the street, Maddy must learn to set aside her family traditions and work with another before the poltergeist destroys her.
Maddy felt the cool air on her nostrils, and the rising and falling of her chest as she deliberately regulated her breath. In, two, three, four, out, two, three, four.
Her mind’s eye focused on a circle of light dancing on the backs of her eyelids. With practiced discipline, she kept her focus and her stomach settled as her spirit rushed dizzily up her astral cord and to the astral plane.
The park was quieter here, in this space. Gone were the sounds of barking dogs that should have been on a leash but weren’t. Gone were the children’s squeals and parents’ plaintive shouts to be careful. Instead, there was a sea of glowing green grass and grayish blobs she knew to be playground equipment. Her inner eye searched carefully for the telltale sign of the poltergeist. This one would be brown. Or maybe red, she thought to herself. Come out, come out, wherever you are.
In the end, she heard the sound before she saw it. It let out an ear-piercing screech and rushed at her from behind. The poltergeist stopped just short of the circle of salt she had drawn around her, its shrill voice hitting decibels her physical ears would never have been able to detect.
She winced. I bet every dog within two miles is howling now.
The thing clawed at the invisible barrier separating the pair of them. Maddy took in a deep breath and pulled on the iron bell she had clipped onto her belt. “Silence now, my wayward soul. Rest, I bequeath to thee. Silence now, my wayward soul. Rest now, so mote it be.”
She rang the bell three times. At each clear ring, the poltergeist screamed into the plane and raked at the salt barrier. She flinched at the ferocity of it. Unconsciously, she reached for the locket filled with protective dill she wore around her neck. She swallowed and firmed her jaw. “Silence now, my wayward soul. Calm, I bequeath to thee. Silence now, my wayward soul. Calm now, so mote it be.“
By the time she rang the bell twice, the poltergeist charged the barrier with such force that Maddy fell backward and out of her protective circle.
“Witch!” it accused, throwing itself at her.
She used the impossible physics of the astral plane to her advantage and pushed off the poltergeist with her feet, flying away from it. She managed to ring the bell for the third time before it was on her again. Its cold talons raked across her spirit form. Down in the grass, her physical body shuddered.
“Silence now, my wayward sou –” Maddy screamed as it slashed at her astral cord. An intense cold radiated through her. She held up her locket in front of her and the poltergeist hissed and backed away. “Silence now, my wayward soul. Quiet, I bequeath to thee. Silence now, my wayward soul. Quiet now, so mote it be!“
The spirit retreated farther away from her, sneering. “Witch! Witch!” it cried. She rang the iron bell three times, and with each melodious chime, the poltergeist shrank in size until it was nothing at all, its cacophonous wail fading with its form.
Maddy’s spirit slammed into her body as something bashed against her cheekbone. She blinked back stars and held her face in her hand, shocked more than anything. The poltergeist wasn’t supposed to be able to do that. In all her twenty-eight years of life, she had never been physically hurt by a poltergeist before. What happened? What was that?
“By the gods, are you all right?”
Maddy opened her eyes and saw a bright red Frisbee lying on the ground next to her. A Frisbee? She had been hit by a Frisbee? She touched her cheek and frowned at how puffy it felt. Of all the damn things that could happen while she was putting a damn poltergeist to rest, she was hit in the face by a Frisbee.
“Yeah,” she said without looking at the speaker. She picked up the Frisbee and shoved it in their direction. “Watch where you’re throwing the damn thin –” She stopped short when she looked up. A shirtless man — a shirtless muscular man — crouched next to her. He wore blue Serenity State joggers, silver aviators, and one hell of a smile. His dimples were —
“Ouch,” he said, interrupting her thoughts. “I really got you there. I’m so sorry. I’ve got a first aid kit in the car, if you just wait here, I can run over and grab it.”
Maddy stared at his plump bottom lip. “Uh… What?” she shook her head. Get a hold of yourself, Maddy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Victoria Rogers is an award-winning podcaster, game designer, and storyteller known for their immersive worlds and strong female characters.
Witches, warlocks, gods, and spirits fill their dreams and stories. Consent and healthy communication are two major aspects of their work – after all, you can’t have what you want unless you ask for it.
Victoria can be found in the garden and in the kitchen making fruit wines, brewing beers, and infusing spirits. When not feeding friends, they attend tabletop gaming conventions and sit on storytelling and world-building panels, teach about online marketing, and produce live events.
In the uncivilized out-country known as Aridzone, Arness is the best at what she does. The wildlings she captures and domesticates worship her. In return she always matches her pets with doting, wealthy mistresses who reward hard work.
Arness loves her job… until the uncontrollable Adan enters her life. He insists he is a man, not a pet. Will Adan fall under her spell, or will Arness learn that submission can work both ways?
“Come along, my wildlings.” Since the words alone wouldn’t be enough for all of them, Arness whistled. Those who hesitated before, now moved forward at the sound. Even the newest captures had learned the meaning of her whistle.
“Not a bad lot.” Arness turned to Primary with a smile on her face. “A good thing, too, since they’ll be my year’s earnings, more or less. Would you like a nice new collar when we go into town?”
Primary touched the rather worn leather collar at his neck.
“Whatever you wish, Mistress.” Primary shot a sideways glance at her. “I’m partial to a deeper shade of blue.”
Before she could answer, he ran forward to yank at the chain of one of the faster wildlings.
“Slow there!” He snapped the command in his deepest voice. He spoke harshly, with none of the deference he paid to his mistress. “Keep in line.”
Arness mentally shook her head. She always had to remember the latent violence that existed in all these creatures — even in her wise Primary.
“Gentle! You’re yanking the chain too hard. The beast won’t be able to breathe!” Arness called. “Remember, he doesn’t understand all the word commands yet.”
“He’ll learn fast enough,” Primary growled, then lowered his gaze. “I know he’s capable of following orders. You’re too soft with them. They’ll take advantage.”
Arness actually shook her head this time. Primary had been trained to speak quite fluently, but sometimes he forgot not all wildlings had his abilities. Arness thought his conversation was quite a testament to her training, as well as his own intelligence. She might be partial, but she was also sure he was much further advanced than most pets. “Don’t remind me of who takes advantage of my generosity.” Arness kept her tone cold. “I gave you an order.”
Primary was perhaps a foot or more above her in height, but he looked stricken as he bowed his head. “Mistress.”
Arness wanted to sigh. Not even Primary agreed with her methods of dealing with wildlings. But how could she help it? All her wildlings were such beautiful, sleek creatures. They were a delight to look at, a pleasure to train. Perhaps Primary was right that she was over-gentle with them. But when you were camping in the out-country for months on end with nothing but half-wild beasts for company, you forgot they were chattel to be sold for a profit… unless you kept a few for your own entertainment.
Speaking of which –”Sec! Secondary!” Arness called.
Primary was hulking. Over the years his brown hair had developed a few strands of gray at the temples. She kept him for his endless strength, vast experience, and complete loyalty.
Secondary was just the opposite. He bounded to her side, all but wiggling with excitement. Arness laughed, just looking at his hopeful air. He was all youthful eagerness and expectation. She kept Secondary to amuse her.
“I suppose you are expecting a treat whenever I call, eh, my little pleasure glutton?” She hooked her little finger into the nipple ring he’d insisted upon during their last town visit and twisted slightly. “Have you been watching your half of my wildlings?”
Sec’s eyes half shut with delight at her touch. “Yesss,” he breathed out.
She swatted him on his rear. “Then keep watching,” she advised. “I don’t want to see you off seeking your own pleasure instead of doing your duty.”
Sec grinned at her before ducking his head obediently. “Of course, Mistress.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Treva Harte has always been an overachiever. She also collects things. First it was degrees. First a B.A. in English, then she decided to go back for a Master’s degree. Not content with that, she added a J.D. Since then she’s added a husband, also an attorney, and two children to her collection. She’s continuing her ways as an overachiever, writing her wonderfully offbeat tales of passion and possibilities — in her spare time.
Raven — I learned the hard way not to trust anyone. First the men who’d hurt me, and then my mother when she’d turned her back on me. I had no one. Was it any wonder I didn’t think I had a reason to keep living? A good Samaritan had other ideas, landing me in a psychiatric hospital. Too bad the guards were every bit as evil as those men I’d trusted.
I thought I’d die alone. Unwanted. Unloved. Forgotten. Until the Hades Abyss MC came to take me away. They claim my father sent them, except I’ve never met him. Don’t even know his name. I’d try to run, but what’s the point? Besides, there’s one man who makes me feel safe. Fox. It doesn’t matter that he’s older than me. When he holds me, I know nothing will ever hurt me again. I just didn’t count on losing my heart to him.
Fox — Breaker brought Hatchet’s daughter to the clubhouse, and the moment I looked into those vacant eyes, I knew she’d been badly broken. Some part of me wanted to fix her. Put the pieces back together. Watch her eyes light up and see her smile. She thinks she’s dirty, that no one will ever want her. She’s wrong. I want her. I even want the baby growing inside her.
Never thought I’d find the woman meant to be mine. Now that I’ve had Raven in my arms, chased away her nightmares, kissed her tears away, I know I can’t let her go. I’ll make her mine — the baby too — and I won’t let anyone stand in my way.
WARNING: Fox is part of the Hades Abyss MC series. Be warned there are adult situations and language, violence, darker themes that may trigger some readers like suicide and assault. Guaranteed Happily-Ever-After, no cheating, and no cliffhanger!
Preorder Coming Soon!
About the Author
Harley Wylde is the International Bestselling Author of the Dixie Reapers MC, Devil’s Boneyard MC, and Hades Abyss MC series.
When Harley’s writing, her motto is the hotter the better — off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place. She doesn’t shy away from the dangers and nastiness in the world, bringing those realities to the pages of her books, but always gives her characters a happily-ever-after and makes sure the bad guys get what they deserve.
The times Harley isn’t writing, she’s thinking up naughty things to do to her husband, drinking copious amounts of Starbucks, and reading. She loves to read and devours a book a day, sometimes more. She’s also fond of TV shows and movies from the 1980’s, as well as paranormal shows from the 1990’s to today, even though she’d much rather be reading or writing.
You can find out more about Harley or enter her monthly giveaway on her website. Be sure to join her newsletter while you’re there to learn more about discounts, signing events, and other goodies!
My corner of the universe is slowly emerging from pandemic-induced isolation and…well…I’m not at all fit for public interactions. (laughs) I am a mess socially.
A friend wanted to give me a hug a few days ago and I, an avid hugger in the Before Times, backed away, held up my hands to block the hug and gave her what she said was a comically horrified look.
I saw a neighbor without her mask and told her “Nice face.” She laughed but I was mortified. Who says that to someone?
It turns out I do.
And small talk? I’ve forgotten how to do that. Completely.
With challenges of masks and the need for reduced social contact, I would hurl short, blunt requests at grocery store clerks, thank them and run away.
Now, I have to think of things to say. I had a discussion about bananas with a grocery store clerk yesterday. I responded to “How are you?” with “Yes” this morning. Regular interactions confuse me and I’m now the champion of inappropriate topics.
Kamyelle, the heroine of Under Strain, struggles with the same issues. She has been the only human on her home planet for what seems like forever. She has forgotten how to interact with other beings.
When the cyborgs arrive on her planet, she forgets to introduce herself. Multiple times. She blurts out what she wants them to do.
While she was in isolation, she also gained the often humiliating habit of speaking out loud every thought flowing through her very active brain. And I mean EVERY thought – the good, the bad, the embarrassing.
That habit was gained as a means of coping with the solitude. The lack of chatter was too heavy emotionally for her. It was too eerie and depressing and strange. Kamyelle would talk to herself simply to hear someone, anyone speak.
But then other beings land on the planets—cyborgs with enhanced hearing. She tries to cope with her thinking out loud habit by whispering. The warriors can hear her and not everything they hear is complimentary or appropriate.
It IS honest, however. And cyborgs value honesty. They trust it. That bodes well for Kamyelle.
Did you have any challenges returning to ‘civilization’? (grins) Were you as socially awkward as I was and still am?
A damaged cyborg warrior is hunted by a peace-loving human female.
Strain is severely malfunctioning. The D Model cyborg was the sole survivor after a horrific decision was made by his cruel manufacturers. He hates all humans, and when he attacks one who is under his cyborg leader’s protection, he is reprimanded, stripped of his weapons, and told to watch and not actively participate in the next mission.
That mission takes place on a small remote planet. Its lush terrain should only be inhabited by the cyborgs they were sent to rescue, but Strain senses another presence on the surface. She is watching him, tracking him, hunting him.
A fully operational cyborg would end her lifespan.
Strain wants to claim her. Forever.
Kamyelle is the only one left of her kind. Warriors have killed the other nonviolent human inhabitants of her planet. She survived…barely…by hiding in the trees, observing her enemies, and covering herself with lifeform scan-concealing mud.
When a handsome, gray-skinned, brilliant-blue-eyed male arrives, surrounded by weapon-carrying warriors, she has to save him. Warriors harm and they kill. That is what they do.
She won’t allow them to hurt Strain.
Under Strain is a STANDALONE Cyborg SciFi Romance set in a dark, gritty, sometimes-violent universe.
It features a broken warrior, a human female who thinks he’s perfect, and velociraptor-like dinosaurs who view them both as light, tasty snacks.
Tierra, Where men are men, women are women, and the two never, ever mingle — until Earthling Tory shakes things up.
The Deviants: “I wish men lived on another planet!” Tory wasn’t thinking when she blurted out those words to a strange woman at a bar. Now she’s in Femmeland, a planet where all the inhabitants are female and where heterosexuals are considered deviants. Tory wouldn’t mind indulging in a little deviancy if she could just find herself a male of the same mind…
Changing the Odds: Dag’s made some powerful enemies in Androvia. He’s determined to keep his incredibly sexy body to himself. You can’t do that too often in Androvia, or you end up battered and left for dead in Femmeland. Right now, Femmeland doesn’t sound as bad as going home, especially since he’s met Rhoanna.
World Enough: Treason is the worst crime known to either Femmeland or Androvia, and both countries think Faye Blaise has committed that crime. Edmond Jarvish relishes a good challenge. No other solicitor will defend Faye. He prays he’s as good as his reputation because the punishment for treason is death.
Welcome to the hilarious and erotic world of The Deviants.
“Cheryl, I swear I’d be really happy if men were just swept up and sent to another planet.” Tory stared down at her glass of beer. Two other women at the bar overheard her and giggled. Tory lowered her voice. “I mean, this is the final humiliation. Can you believe that Jeff was lying to me? Jeff!”
“Well, we always said he was too good to be true.” Cheryl signaled the waitress for another tonic water.
“Yeah, but I didn’t mean it that way. I believed he was in love with me and that he was going to get around to asking me to marry him in a few weeks or so and… Stop laughing, Cheryl.” Tory put her chin in her hands. “I really did. Then I find out he’s been hot for some little clerk in his own office the entire time. He used me! He used me to make her jealous.”
“I don’t hear you saying you’re brokenhearted about the whole thing, though.” Cheryl didn’t sound too concerned. Of course, they’d known each other a long time.
“Well, I ought to be.”
“Jeff may be the last heterosexual single male on the planet who seriously wanted me. I mean, who I thought seriously wanted me. I was working up an interest in him.” Tory tried not to sound defensive.
“Oh yeah. I could tell.”
“Don’t strain yourself.” Cheryl looked at her knowingly.
Tory began to laugh. “I do love you, Cheryl. It’s too bad I can’t change my sexual preference. You’d be a great partner. You’ve got it all — you’re good-looking, you and I can talk together about anything…”
Her best friend grinned. “I’m six months’ pregnant with my husband’s child,” Cheryl reminded her. “My hormones may be out of whack, but this really wouldn’t be the time to adopt an alternative lifestyle.”
The two of them laughed. Cheryl patted Victoria on the shoulder. “You’re gorgeous. I’d kill to have that strawberry-blonde hair of yours. You’re smart, you’re funny, and you’re great to be around. Don’t worry. You’ll meet the perfect guy for you.”
Tory smiled but wondered how often Cheryl had repeated that mantra to her over the years. They used to say things like that to each other when they were single and temporarily manless. But Cheryl had made it happen for herself years ago. Tory was twenty-eight and figured things were definitely not going according to plan.
“Listen, I already kept you and the baby up late enough. Why don’t we call it a night?” Tory put some money on the bar for a tip and Cheryl carefully got down from the barstool.
“My back is killing me, I must admit.” Cheryl rubbed it as they walked to the door.
They got to the little parking lot outside and Cheryl carefully eased into her Camry. Tory sighed. Cheryl even had a married woman’s car. She waved to her friend as she left the parking lot and then took her car keys and walked over to her Cabrio.
Tory looked at the car. She’d bought the Cabrio to make a statement. It stated she was single. Single women bought cute little convertible cars. Was that the right statement to make? She didn’t know anymore. It didn’t seem to be getting her much in the way of action.
The two giggling women from the bar walked out into the parking lot behind her. Victoria put her key in the door lock and decided there was something wrong in the world when all these women couldn’t find dates for a Friday night.
“And we’re not the ones that are wrong. It’s men.” Tory hastily looked around, hoping no one had heard her talking to herself. Oh oh. The two women were looking at her now.
One of the pair walked over to her and smiled, hesitantly.
“I’m sorry.” The woman spoke English perfectly — maybe just a little too perfectly. She didn’t sound American. “We seem to be lost. Could you point us in the right direction on our map?”
The other woman held up her map, looking confused.
They were nice-looking women. She’d noticed them at the bar the minute they sat next to Cheryl. One was tall and blonde, the other petite and brown-haired. Tory decided to feel sorry for them as well. After all, they were as alone as she was on a date night. Any man ought to want them, she thought with a glower. In fact, he ought to want all three of them.
Her eyes narrowed. Or at least there should be one man for each woman.
Yeah. That was it.
“Sure, I can probably help.” Tory walked toward them. “Where do you need to go?”
She felt a sharp prick in her arm and looked down. Was that a needle? Before she could figure it out, she saw nothing but blackness and could feel herself pitching forward…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Treva Harte has always been an overachiever. She also collects things. First it was degrees. First a B.A. in English, then she decided to go back for a Master’s degree. Not content with that, she added a J.D. Since then she’s added a husband, also an attorney, and two children to her collection. She’s continuing her ways as an overachiever, writing her wonderfully offbeat tales of passion and possibilities — in her spare time.
For the past few decades, vampiress Erin Morana has mourned the death of her sire, Jon. She’s done her best to move forward, and now she’s renovating the mansion once used by a psychopathic vampire. Between her magic lessons with the mage Lazarus and the anticipation of the birth of her best friend’s baby, Erin has her hands full.
An attack on a dark street, however, changes everything. Now she’s caught in the middle of a fight she has little hope of winning, but she isn’t alone.
Erin Morana grinned and let her best friend, Dana Reid, into the newly renovated mansion. “Like it?”
Dana wandered from room to room on the ground floor, stopped before Erin, and gave her a tight hug. “Oh, my God. It’s gorgeous. I can’t feel even the slightest hint of Harlan Yates here.”
“You can thank Lazarus and Jessie for that,” Erin said. The mage and his lover had been instrumental in fixing the atmosphere of Yates’ house of horrors.
Dana bumped Erin’s shoulder. “From what I’ve heard, you’re no slouch in the magic department.”
Erin shrugged. “I’m still learning. It’ll take years before I even come close to Jessie or Lazarus, but I love it.”
Dana nodded. She walked up the stairs, exploring more of the house. After their little group of vampires, demons, and mages had destroyed the last of Yates’ followers, Erin set about changing the house into an actual home for donors and vampires alike. She hated the word “coven” and chose to just call the place a safehouse instead. It was the kind of refuge she’d hoped Yates offered, only to find things under his rule vastly different and far from safe.
“Have you claimed a room yet?” Dana called from the railing above.
“Not yet.” Erin headed upstairs and met her friend. “I’ve been sleeping in the library downstairs. Feels too… weird when I’m here alone.”
Dana nodded. “I get that. If Saul hadn’t left his loft to me, I’d join you. Maybe I still will, though. I don’t know.”
“You think Haez will care?”
Dana snorted. “As long as we have our privacy, I don’t think he gives a damn. Of course, we’d need a second room for the baby when he gets here.” Dana rested a hand on her belly. The child was the result of Dana’s previous boyfriend, not the demon she now dated. But after one of Yates’ offspring bit Dana, there was no telling how the child would turn out. Up to that point, Dana had solely been a psivamp, but now she and her baby were hybrids, though, thankfully, he would only need energy. As far as she knew, anyway.
“I’m sure we can arrange that,” Erin said.
The front door downstairs opened, and they both looked down.
“You should keep your door locked, my dear,” Lazarus said by way of greeting. Many thought the mage to be a bit snobbish and coarse, but Erin liked him. He glanced up and waved. “Good evening, ladies.”
Erin smiled and hurried down the stairs. If anyone else had seen the hug they shared, they wouldn’t believe it. Lazarus felt like a father, not the magical mentor he’d become to her. “I’m sorry. Dana just got here, so I didn’t even think about it.”
Lazarus tsked but smiled. “Noted, but please, lock the door at all times.”
“I will,” Erin said. “I promise.”
“Very good.” Lazarus nodded at Dana as she came down the steps. “I believe Haez is returning this evening.”
Dana’s eyes lit up, and she smiled. “I know.” She practically bounced. “I need to go back to the loft before our gig. Then it’s showtime!”
Erin laughed as her friend left. Then she made a point of locking the front door. She turned to find Lazarus watching her. “What?”
“Are you certain you’re okay here alone?”
“I am.” Erin looked around at the place, unable to hide the pride she felt at the work she’d accomplished. “It feels more like a home now, and I’m hoping to find some new people to move in soon. I sleep in the library, but once I get a few tenants in, I’ll claim a room upstairs.”
“Very well,” Lazarus said. “For now, let us return to the kitchen. It’s the best place for practice, more open.”
“What are we going to work on today?” Erin asked as they entered the newly renovated kitchen and dining room.
Lazarus moved the dining table with no effort at all. For such a petite man, the mage possessed an inordinate amount of strength. He set the six chairs aside and nodded. “Much better. Your barriers are strong, but I feel they could be improved. Defense is paramount. Always remember that, my dear.”
For a moment, Erin lost herself in a memory. Jon had told her that very same thing, so long ago. If she’d learned then…
She shook her head and found Lazarus studying her, concern in his eyes. “Sorry.”
“Are you all right?”
She’d never gone into detail with anyone about Jon, not even Dana. She needed Lazarus’ lessons, but her heart and mind were elsewhere. “I…”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carys Seraphine is an alter ego of gay romance author Mychael Black. She lives on the Eastern Shore of the US with her family and their dog.
Could the handsome Peter Smythe be the one? Elizabeth is mightily attracted to the dedicated and brave journalist and faces the struggle of balancing her duty to save the empire with nurturing a budding relationship.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is on the brink of finally bringing her arch nemesis Vladimir, the Russian agent responsible for her husband’s death, to justice. But the past has a habit of nipping at her heels and with it the risk of bringing everything she has achieved crashing down.
Set against the backdrop of a steam-driven world, our story begins with an airship-led commando raid and takes Elizabeth along a twisted path of betrayal and villainy.
The general and I were standing on a raised platform by the East London Water Works, a half mile north of Grove Hall with the railway between. I gasped in wonder as the airship restarted its engines to combat the wind and maintain its position over the asylum. Tiny shadows emerged from the airship’s grey hull like ants hurrying from their nest. The dozen members of Her Majesty’s Royal Aerial Marines took to the ropes and descended with consummate skill toward the sleeping asylum. It took them no time at all to reach the sloping roof, and a dozen heartbeats later the uppermost windows of the institution’s main building.
While the airborne assault had been making its indefatigable progress, elements of the Queen’s Light Infantry, with silent efficiency, barricaded the surrounding streets and encircled the asylum, while specialised ground forces made their way across the darkened grounds ready to breach the doors at zero hour.
The general checked his watch. “Only a minute now.”
The enterprise had taken the general an amazingly short time to arrange. Of course, the military had been in a state of readiness for months given the threatening situation across the channel. Russia was ever threatening after the humiliation the Czar had suffered in the Crimea, Napoleon the Third of France was in an expansive mood after his success in the same conflict, and the Austrian Empire was mobilising, watching our global trading empire with envious eyes and dreaming of world domination. The prospect of all-out war had been building like a storm cloud, and the expected deluge would be heavy indeed.
Such was the backdrop of our world in 1860. It was only the scientific and technological advances such as the airship Prince Albert that we had made over the last decade which kept our homeland and empire safe. Our ambitious competitors were catching up. However, their endeavours had taken a darker turn, as evidenced by the horror of the patchwork man, and the use of soporific gas that could confuse and render harmless a whole city.
Vladimir was just one of our malevolent foes. The question this morning was how violently would he and his murderous minions resist capture? I said a silent prayer for the Queen’s men risking their lives tonight. I had brought them here, and I would bear responsibility for whatever happened. That was a heavy thought indeed.
Butterflies, the flighty children of fear, skittled about in my belly causing me to doubt the success of our enterprise. For reassurance I glanced over my shoulder. Standing behind the general and I were men on whom I placed the greatest of trust. Felix, who helped Archie at my Investigations Bureau, but was much, much more, and my fellow Agents of the Queen, Bisby and Oxley.
Missing this momentous morning was Archie, my husband’s batman, and the son we never had. He was at home caring for Marianne, his fiancé of only a day. Brave Marianne had been instrumental in bringing us to Vladimir’s den, risking her life and had, for her impetuousness, been held hostage by a patchwork man. Not surprisingly she was having trouble dealing with the horror that had so nearly cost her life, her exhausted sleep racked by night terrors. Archie chose, and rightfully so, to remain at her side.
Felix, his handsome face hidden by the upturned collar of his coat and scarf, noticed my gaze, for I saw his gleaming teeth as he offered me a supportive smile. My body responded instinctively. How often had he given me that smile as he lifted my body to the heights of sensuality with gentle and expert caresses I could not tell. His natural allure, together with the skills gained from his experience as a prostitute, had attracted me like a flower lures a bee.
My first sight of him had ignited the dormant woman within, as if my true self had fallen into a sort of death with Jonathan’s passing. For five years I had been a walking corpse, cold and withered, but with hot blood still bubbling deep within, demanding expression. Felix possessed the key to its release. Meeting him had been a striking revelation. I immediately longed to have his arms about me, desired his lips upon mine, needed his fingers stroking my flesh, and demanded his hardness within. Though I felt guilty, as if I were betraying Jonathan with this almost uncontrollable craving, I hired Felix as my tutor in bedroom diversions. With tender care he resurrected my carnal nature. Though my desire was strong, he coaxed me out of my initial timidness and skilfully guided me, transforming me from cold widow into a true wanton, where I became the uninhibited leader taking us both to exquisite release. Though it had been months since our last intimacy I still longed for his sultry gaze…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.
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