Review/Excerpt: Illumination (Penton Legacy Book 5), by Susannah Sandlin Reply

3 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Goodreads

Review:

This is an unusual telling of paranormal entities. This is also a little bit of a dystopian future. The vampire world is unable to feed off of humans, due to a special vaccination against a pandemic flu.  A group of vampires kidnap a few females and hope a “breeding” program can create a new generation of humans who can be fed from.
The story is very confusing and can be interpreted in different ways based on the reader’s views. This type of story is a very different view future and may take a while to get involved.

Reviewed by Angel

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

He came to Penton seeking peace. Nik Dimitrou joined the Army to escape his family legacy, only to have his psychic abilities exploited as a weapon. Now, as a civilian, he turns to the bottle to veil the images that haunt his mind whenever he touches anyone—except vampires. With them, he has finally found a home. But as Penton, Alabama, moves into open warfare with the Vampire Tribunal, Nik finds himself a linchpin in the deepening conflict, not to mention facing a transformation in his own body more frightening than anything he’s encountered before.

She wanted to change the world. Shay Underwood watched her Peace Corps parents move from one third world country to another—until both died following an outbreak of fever. Driven to her own career in tropical medicine, Shay works in New Orleans to cure the disease that killed her parents—until a careless weekend outing draws her into a world far more dangerous than the diseases she studies: a vampire society engaged in human trafficking and on the verge of all-out war.

Two cities, two strangers, one world. With Penton rebellion leader Aidan Murphy making risky choices and chief vampire lieutenant Mirren Kincaid forced to take a leadership role in Penton, it will fall to two outsiders, Nik and Shay, to find a way for the town—and themselves—to survive in this much-anticipated conclusion to the multiple award-winning Penton Legacy series.

Excerpt:

“Right then. We have an obscenely large vehicle on the other side of that brick wall,” Cage said. “Archer or Nik should be able to help you over. Once I’m sure you’re in the car and locked up tight, I’ll collect Robin and Glory from the cemetery entrance and we’ll all be on our way back to Penton.”

Shay bit her lip. She had absolutely no reason to go to Penton, wherever the hell it was. Her home and life and work were here in New Orleans. She knew she’d have to be careful, but now that the breeding house was broken up and Jonathan was dead, the vampires and their minions had no reason to come after her. Whatever feelings Shay had nursed for Nik Dimitrou in high school, they were long dead. Gorgeous only took a person so far. Besides, he was a vampire.

She’d wait until they got her out of this cemetery, though, to decline her visit to Vampire Central. Maybe the handsome cat boy would drop her off somewhere. But where? She had no money or identification with her. She didn’t even have the keys to her own apartment or lab.

Maybe a police station. They could come up with a plausible story for her disappearance. Maybe even name Simon as her kidnapper, and the warehouse location. Let the authorities make of it what they would.

Shay was distracted by the sight of Archer leaping to the top of the brick wall behind the Le Boeuf crypt, followed closely by Nik. Her old classmate might be injured and hungry, but that wall had given him no challenge. Shay wasn’t sure she could climb over it without a sturdy ladder on a good day. Today had not been a good day except that she hadn’t died.

Nik reached down and motioned to Shay. “C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

Shay looked at the wall, at Nik, and back at the wall. “I don’t think you can lift me. You’re hurt.”

“Trust me.” Nik grinned, giving Shay a glimpse of an older, even more handsome version of the boy she’d known so many years ago. She’d thought she loved that boy; this man, though….was a vampire. Don’t forget that, idiot.

She nodded, dried her hands on her jeans as much as she could, and reached up toward Nik. He leaned over, wrapped strong fingers around both of her wrists, and lifted her to the top of the wall with what seemed like little effort, setting her down beside him.

“Swing your legs over, and I’ll lower you down the other side. Or I can leap down with you in my arms.” His grin widened, and her heart beat double-time when their gazes locked. Vampire. He’s a freaking vampire. He’s a freaking vampire involved in a war with other freaking vampires. You cannot trust him. Lust, yes. Trust, no.

“Whatever you do, would you please move your arses?” Cage stood beneath them. “I’m getting soaked and—”

A loud pop sounded from the Washington Avenue end of the cemetery, followed by a splintering noise and another pop pop. Shay had lived in New Orleans long enough to recognize the sound of gunfire.


About The Author:

Susannah Sandlin writes award-winning paranormal romance, including the popular Penton Legacy series for Montlake Romance, and romantic suspense and thrillers, including two series, The Collectors and Wilds of the Bayou, also for Montlake. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she writes the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series for Tor Books. Suzanne grew up in Alabama halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’s birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of college football and fried gator on a stick. She currently lives in Auburn, Alabama, where she is a full-time author who does copy editing on the side through Reedsy.com.

Web: www.suzannejohnsonauthor.com

Blog: www.suzannejohnsonauthor.com/blog

Twitter: @SusannahSandlin, @Suzanne_Johnson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSuzanneJohnson/

Tour Giveaway:

2$25 Amazon gift cards (or equivalent order from Book Depository for entrants outside the U.S.)

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Review/Excerpt: Pride of a Viking (The MacLomain Series Viking Ancestors’ Kin Book Five), by Sky Purington 1

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon      Kobo      iBooks      BN

Review:

No matter how many of Purington’s books I read I am always amazed how well she writes and how the stories flow. The characters are like old friends, made so from the first book in the series. I always feel like I am in the midst of the action and caught up in all the emotions of the characters. And this last book in the whole Viking/ MacLomain group of series has everything I have come to expect and love. IT is both exciting and very sad to read the last of such epic books. My heart will miss these characters. Purington has made me believe that one can travel through time and find love, that dragons are real and can soar through the sky and that when you believe,  anything is possible. Please get these books and start your journey. IF you love fantasy, time travel and romance then these books will be favorites.               VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

Reviewed by Wildcatnana

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Two men tore Erica’s world apart in another life. One was the man she loved and the other the enemy. Now both are back, and it’s up to her to make sure an ancient blood feud doesn’t destroy everyone she cares about. That means steering clear of her dragon mate. But sometimes memories are too strong and the past too powerful. Or so it seems when she slips back in time and ends up on an unexpected journey with a man she was determined to forget.

Having confronted who he once was and what he did in a previous life, Kodran Sigdir sets out to seek answers. He needs to better understand his part in an age old war and to keep his distance from Erica. They should remain apart. Yet destiny seems to be drawing him back to her. How he once felt. All he gave up. Could things go differently this time? Or will the risk to their people be too great? Find out as Erica, Kodran and their kin go up against the enemy one last time in Pride of a Viking, the epic conclusion of Viking Ancestors’ Kin.

Excerpt:

“Are you sure Hallstein was your mate in another life?” His eyes held hers as he spun her so that they were facing each other. “Do you have memories of your time with him?” He shook his head, spoke through clenched teeth and worked hard to keep rage from taking over as he caught glimpses of what she had endured. “He did things to you, Erica. Terrible things. Things that make no sense given you were Maeva…his mate.”

She leaned back, clenched her jaw and averted her eyes. “Yes, he was my mate. I’m sure of it.”

“Then why can’t you look at me when you say that?” He tilted her chin until she had no choice but to meet his eyes. “What aren’t you telling me? What’s the missing piece?” He frowned. “Because something’s not adding up.”

“It doesn’t…you just…” She frowned as well. “You need to let this go. You need to let me go. It’s the only way this is going to work. It’s the only hope we have.”

“And where am I supposed to let you go to?” He glanced around to remind her where they were before his eyes returned to hers. “Because it’s out of my control, yes?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Do I?” He stepped a bit closer and never removed his fingers from her chin. “Because as far as I can tell you want me to believe you desire Hallstein when that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I think you’re trying to push me away so that you can somehow save everyone all on your own.”

Because he was remembering his last life, he remembered what Maeva had looked like. While they shared the same tall, lithe build with curves in all the right places, he found Erica more stunning in this life. Her eyes were varying shades of striking green that seemed to shift with her mood, and her warm skin tone was luminous. He wanted to feel her soft skin against him. Touch every last inch of her.

She went very still as their eyes held. Or so one would think if they couldn’t detect the slight tremor that went through her. Shivers that only translated to another dragon. He also noticed that she had gone from momentarily vulnerable to completely closed off despite her physical reaction.

“You’re good at that,” he murmured, shifting even closer to see if he could bring out that tremor even more. “Trying to be strong for everyone else all the time. How long have you played that part?” While he should have remained compassionate and thankful, his inner dragon was flaring. The jealousy that reared whenever he thought about her in the enemy’s arms. “How long have you been playing the part of a woman trying to convince Hallstein that you’re his? How long have you been—”

“No,” she cut him off, yanked her chin away and narrowed her eyes. “What I’ve done to help our people is not because—”

“Because you’re meant to be together?” he cut her off just as readily, as he turned things around on her. “Because you’re not, are you?” He shook his head and narrowed his eyes as well. “You’re not supposed to be with him.” His voice dropped to a whisper as the truth hovered just out of reach. Like a memory he was right on the verge of remembering. “You never were, but something happened…”

Something he needed to understand, so he thought fast. If one thing had been proven true with his kin and their mates it was that intimacy seemed to speed up their mental connections. So why not get things moving in that direction?

It seemed Erica followed his line of thought because a moment later she started to move away but he caught her. With an arm around her lower back, he yanked her against him, cupped the back of her neck and kissed her.

The moment he did, everything changed.

About the Author:

Sky Purington is the bestselling author of over thirty novels and several novellas. A New Englander born and bred who recently moved to Virginia, Sky was raised hearing stories of folklore, myth and legend. When combined with a love for nature, romance and time-travel, elements from the stories of her youth found release in her books.

Purington loves to hear from readers and can be contacted at Sky@SkyPurington.com.

Interested in keeping up with Sky’s latest news and releases? Visit Sky’s website, http://www.skypurington.com to download her free App on iTunes and Android or sign up for her quarterly newsletter. Love social networking? Find Sky on Facebook and Twitter.

Website:   www.skypurington.com

Blog:   www.skypurington.blogspot.com

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Tour giveaway:

1 $25 gift card to winner’s choice of Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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Review/Excerpt: Not His Dragon (Not This Series Book One), by Annie Nicholas Reply

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon

Review:

This story was really good I was laughing out loud at multiple points. This story keeps you wondering what will happen and the ending was wow!! Angie’s character was great and really made the book.

Reviewed by Brave One

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Eoin Grant hasn’t encountered a female of his race in decades, and this crazy person’s scent declares her unmated. Fate set her in his path, and he won’t let this opportunity slip through his claws. No matter how wary she is of him. After all, how many chances does a dragon have at finding love? But fate can be a crueler mistress than his perfect mate. Of all things, she thinks she’s human.

Business is taking off for Angie Weldon. She put her freakishly sharp nails to good use when she opened her back-scratching spa in downtown New Port. The local shifter community pounced on her skills and she’s knee-deep in shed fur. By the end of the year, if lucky, she could afford to move out of her crappy apartment.

Dollar signs flash before Angie’s eyes when a dark, brooding stranger books her solid for a week but she notices the possessive fury in his glare. She’s been around enough shifters to know the look, and she won’t go down that road again. Angie is literally swept off her feet by the intense shifter and he wants more from her than she’s willing to give. She figures it’s best to avoid eye contact and back away slowly. Until he changes her life by insisting she’s a dragon.

Excerpt:

Only one block separated Angie from her workplace. Her lungs burned. No matter how much air she sucked in, there didn’t seem to be enough oxygen.

A tall, slim man smoking a cigarette watched her from half a block away.

How did she notice him in her state of asphyxiation? Because his pale, blue gaze cut across the distance and met hers with such intense fury that it scorched her retinas.

She slowed her pace, glancing over her shoulder, but saw no one. Why was she the focus of his death glare? Maybe he was friends with the jackass in the truck who’d cat-called her and didn’t appreciate her attempt at sign language? If so, he could take a number and get in line with all the other things wanting to destroy her life today.

As Angie jogged closer, she couldn’t help but notice the brightly colored tats peeking out from under his long-sleeved dress shirt. His business attire looked out of place with his shaved head and a cigarette hanging from his lips. He’d never be the poster boy for GQ Magazine, but he sure fit her bad boy fantasies.

He strode into her path, blocking her way. “What are you doing here?”

She tried to brake, but flip-flops weren’t made to stop on a dime. The front ends folded under and she scraped the tips of her toes along the concrete sidewalk. “Mother fucker, son of a bitch…” She hopped on one foot to rub her bloody toes, then repeated the process on the other foot. “What’s wrong with you?” She planted her hands on his chest and shoved, propelling herself backward.

Pinwheeling her arms, she caught her balance. Great, a supernatural. She had a better chance of pushing the Hanover Tower.

He grabbed her upper arm and yanked her kissing-close. “Don’t do that again.”

Her blood smeared across his white shirt where she’d laid her dirty hands. She couldn’t help but notice a small blue symbol tattooed by his left eye. From this angle, she couldn’t see the design completely.

Try as she might, she couldn’t jerk her arms free. Her heart hammered. “Let go.” She glanced around for help, but no one seemed to want to meet her desperate stare. They crossed the street, gazes glued to the ground. The pedestrian population thinned out quickly as many of them found stores they just had to enter. The scent of fear filled the air and only some of it was hers.

“What are you doing in my city?” His whispered question sent chills down her spine.

“Your city? No one owns New Port.” Oh God, she couldn’t stop her mouth. All she had to do was apologize profusely for whatever imagined transgressions and he’d most likely let her go. Angie stared at the shaved dark stubble on his head, since she couldn’t take his penetrating glare. He kept his hair cropped real close. Almost like velvet. She caught her hand before she reached to touch him. Her senses said he was some sort of shifter, but she couldn’t tell what. She suspected she had a little supernatural blood in her lineage, so her skills were limited. Definitely not werewolf. Her ties to the pack were close enough that she knew them at least by sight.

Unfortunately, humans didn’t hold the monopoly on criminals. Supernaturals had them too and Ryota had shown her how to best defend herself. She slid her free hand into her front pocket. “I said, let me go.” She gave her arm another jerk.

He gave her a condescending smile that would have frozen the Eastern Ocean. “Or what?”

She withdrew her hand, aimed at his face, and pulled the trigger on her pepper spray, remembering at the last moment to close her own eyes and mouth.

He let go and roared an inhuman sound. The noise rattled the windows. She thanked God that she’d emptied her bladder before setting the kitchen on fire.

Shit, shit, shit.

She geared her ass to holy-shit-it’s-going-to-eat-me speed and didn’t think the soles of her flip-flops hit the ground until she reached the door to her own little business.

About the Author:

Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romance with bite. She has courted vampires, hunted with shifters, and slain a dragon’s ego all with the might of her pen. Riding the wind of her imagination, she travels beyond the restraints of reality and shares them with anyone wanting to read her stories. Mother, daughter, and wife are some of the other hats she wears while hiking through the hills and dales of her adopted state of Vermont.

Website: www.annienicholas.com

Blog:  www.annienicholas.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorannienicholas

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annienicholas

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Spotlight/Excerpt: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Sting (Nava Katz Book Two), by Deborah Wilde 1

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon

Description:

50% boobs. 50% sarcasm. 100% new breed of hunter.

After a bumpy start as the only female demon hunter in the top secret Brotherhood of David, Nava Katz heads to Prague for her first undercover mission: unmasking a demon movie star. She’d be all kinds of thrilled if it weren’t for the fact that her fellow hunter-with-benefits, Rohan Mitra, has reclaimed his rock star status and assigned Nava the role of groupie.

Rejecting her “be a good girl and follow orders” directive, Nava unleashes an alter ego guaranteed to hook their celebrity target and drive Rohan crazy. No downside-until she finds herself up against Rohan’s past, the Brotherhood’s antiquated thinking, and her own identity issues, turning her personal life into a bomb that could blow up the entire operation.

Sparkly and deadly; it’s a plan.

Excerpt:

Looping my fingers into his belt, I jerked his hips to mine. Rohan’s breath caught and when I brushed my lips over the shell curves of his ear, his whole body went tense. “Prove you’re worth it, baby.” Then I pushed him away, stalking off without a look back, mostly sure that he followed.

The second we got inside the empty elevator, Rohan shoved me up against the wall. I groped for the third floor button, leaning into him. He ran his hands feverishly over my body, hot tingles shivering through my breasts like a sexed-up call and answer. The focused hunger in his expression had me craving more, except my rapid breathing wasn’t all from arousal.

Given the barely banked rage evident in the tense bunch of Rohan’s shoulders, the feeling was mutual. Hopefully, he’d show no mercy in orgasm form and not body count, though I couldn’t promise the same right now.

I bit his earlobe, wanting to hurt him.

Rohan shot me a cavalier smile in response. Holy crap. My knees buckled.

The sprint to my room was a blur.

The second the door slammed shut behind us, Rohan edged his face in close to mine, his palm ghosting my cheek in the barest caress that sent slivery shimmers tumbling through me.

I raised my fingers to my mouth, not realizing what I’d done or that I ran them over my lips until Rohan tracked the movement, his eyes glittering dangerously.

His tongue flicked out, wetting his lower lip. He swayed in toward me and–

“No.” Taking his hands in mine, I forced them behind me. Forced him to hold me there, his rings biting into my skin. Forced him to make a decision; play by my rules or go.

Check Out The Unlikeable Demon Hunter Book One:

On Sale Today for .99

About the Author:

A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. She is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”

Website: http://www.deborahwilde.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wildeauthor

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Review/Excerpt: REACH FOR YOU (Dark Heart Series Book Three), by Pat Esden 1

5 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon     BN       Kobo      Indie Bound

Target      Book Depository      BAM

Review:

This series keeps getting better. The way it has grown and developed into a complex yet simple to follow story keeps your interest. Lotli becomes a character I want to tear apart with my bare hands. Chase is at a breaking point and it is all up in the air which direction things will go. Things are deeply dark again here in this third book. Yet Annie has family to help and support her this time. The drama is ongoing and keeps you hanging on until the end. A very intense read.

Reviewed by Fawnzy

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Her passion is her greatest weakness.

His legacy is his prison.

To reunite, both must fight the demons within.

A world of deception and danger separates Annie Freemont from her mother—and from Chase, the enigmatic half-ifrit with whom Annie’s fallen in love. But she vows to find her way back to them, before Chase succumbs to the madness that threatens his freedom. The only person who can help is the magical seductress, Lotli, a beautiful, manipulative woman . . . a woman who has disappeared.

Annie must stay strong, even as the future she imagined is slipping away. With the help of family and friends, she discovers that Lotli is being held against her will, by those who want to exploit her powers. But though weakened, Lotli remains a powerful alley and adversary. A bargain is struck. And now Annie’s only chance to rescue Chase could also tear them apart . . .

Loyalties will be tested, walls will be breached, and enemies will be fought, yet Annie’s greatest battle lies within her own heart—to trust her love for Chase to overcome its greatest enemy, and to save those she holds most dear from the terrifying realm of the djinn . . .

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

We journey. Ceaseless and hungry.

Carved into stone tablet. Tenerife, Spain

The campsite was ominously silent. Then a breeze lifted and my ear caught the faint clank and rattle of the bones and knives hanging in the pine trees behind us.

“You don’t think they’re both dead, do you?” Selena whispered.

I scanned the dilapidated camper ahead of us, a do-it-yourself RV created out of an old bread truck. Despite the midafternoon warmth, the doors were shut tight. The tent behind it, barely visible from our angle, bowed under the weight of rain that had pooled in its canopy. There was no campfire smoke. No trampled grass. In comparison to when we’d come here last week, the place looked deserted.

Goose bumps pebbled my skin. I gave the camper another once-over. “Zea was really old and sickly. He could have died—or if the kidnappers came here first looking for Lotli, they could have found him. They might have—”

Selena cut me off with a glower. “You mean, supposed kidnappers.”

My jaw clenched. Yeah, that was exactly what I meant. I understood why my cousin didn’t like that everything we’d discovered pointed to her boyfriend, Newt, being involved in Lotli’s disappearance, and perhaps Zea’s as well. But I thought we’d gotten past that, like a bunch of times already.

I swiveled toward where we’d parked our Land Rover. The Professor stood rooted next to it, a mixture of disgust and apprehension crinkling his face. From his scholarly glasses and sandy brown hair all the way down to his polished loafers, he looked anything but ready for our reconnaissance trip out here on the back roads of Down East Maine. An afternoon of research at Oxford University would have been more appropriate. “You want to check inside the tent while we look in the camper?”

His gaze flicked to the soggy tarps. He cleared his throat, then—as posh as ever—said, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally against the idea. But the thought of discovering a rotting corpse is a teensy bit abhorrent.”

“Would you rather discover one in a closed-up camper?” I snapped. It was lucky we’d driven into the campsite from the main road instead of walking like we’d done the last time.  I’d assumed the Professor had an adventuresome spirit to go with his young Indiana Jones good looks. Especially since he was an archaeologist, though this summer he was tutoring Selena’s eleven-year-old brother as a favor. Still, and despite how eager he’d seemed to come with us, the Professor had freaked the second we started past the creepy stuff Zea and Lotli hung in the trees to scare people off: the knives and bones, pieces of copper pipe, broken mirrors, and doll parts. Frankly, I was surprised he’d even gotten out of the Land Rover at all.

I pasted on a smile. “Sorry. I don’t much care for the idea myself. Let’s just hope he’s napping or something.”

The Professor wiped his hands down the sides of his chinos. “I truly hope you’re right.”

As he headed for the tent, I tramped toward the camper with Selena close behind. If only Chase were here now. The creepy stuff hadn’t bothered him at all, and the fear of Zea being dead would have only driven him forward faster.

My chest tightened, my longing for Chase aching inside me, raw and unrelenting. If it weren’t for me, he would be here now. Instead, both he and my mother were trapped in the djinn realm, prisoners of his father, Malphic. If it weren’t for me, Lotli wouldn’t be missing either.

“Well?” Selena jerked her head at the camper door. “Are you going to just stand there?”

I raised my hand and knocked. One second passed. Two seconds. I rapped harder. Nothing. I tried the doorknob. It turned beneath my grip. I opened the door a crack, hesitated, and took a deep breath before pushing it open all the way.

A wave of hot, musty air rushed past me as if the camper had been closed up for days.

“Hello?” I said, sticking my head inside. I gave the air a cautious sniff. No dangerous odors, like a leaky gas stove, permeated the air.  No rotting-trash smell—or decomp.

Selena nudged my shoulder. “What are you waiting for?”

I swallowed hard and stepped forward.

The place was cramped, a gypsy wagon on steroids. Tassels and prisms curtained the windows, letting only faint streaks of light inside. Miles of fuchsia and turquoise fabric draped the ceiling and walls. Animal skulls, feathers, and nubby candles clustered inside miniature altars. The fridge, table, and chairs, every surface that wasn’t fabric covered, was painted purple or black. Stars decorated the ceiling. An antique bed piled with crimson quilts and an avalanche of pillows took up the camper’s entire backend. It was cozy enough, I supposed. But I couldn’t begin to imagine what life had been like for Lotli, apprenticed to Zea as a child because of her magic abilities, essentially indentured. Not that I thought a devout shaman like Zea would have been cruel to her. It was just so different from anything I’d experienced.

“Zea, are you here?” I called out. “We need to talk to you about Lotli.”

I minced my way deeper into the cramped space, working my way toward the back of the camper. Cold sweat carved a trail down my spine. I crept past a tiny kitchen and dining nook, then the bathroom—one toothbrush in the holder, a washcloth draped over the edge of a yellowed sink.

I returned to the front of the camper and pulled aside the curtain that divided the living area from the bread truck’s cab. Seats for the driver and a passenger, seashells glued to the dash, insulated coffee cups in the holders—

Something brushed the back of my neck.

I yelped and jumped sideways, whipping around to see what it was and smacking my elbow against the wall. Pain zinged up my arm. I glared at Selena, standing barely an inch behind me.

“Shit,” I said, rubbing the sting from my arm. “You scared the hell out of me.”

She gave me a sheepish pout. “Sorry. I thought you knew I was there.”

“I didn’t think you were that close.” It wouldn’t have hurt half as bad, except I was already sore and bruised from being thrown out of the djinn realm earlier in the day.

Her pout transformed into a smug smile and she flipped her blond hair over one shoulder.  “Looks to me like Zea and Lotli might have pulled a vanishing act after all. Huh?”

I stopped rubbing. “Or the Professor’s about to find something disgusting in the tent.”

“Want to bet?”

I closed my eyes, struggling to regain my composure. We couldn’t afford to waste time discussing the same thing over and over again, any more than I could have afforded the luxury of staying home to nurse my aches and pains. Chase and Mother were in danger. And I couldn’t go back to the realm and rescue them until we found Lotli. Without her and her flute-magic, it would be too risky, perhaps even impossible to enter or escape from the realm.

I shoved past Selena and strode to the tiny bathroom. “While we’re here, we should find something personal of Lotli’s that you can use to scry and see where they’re holding her.”

Glancing around, I spotted a scruffy hairbrush. You couldn’t get much more personal than that. I grabbed it and brandished it toward Selena.

She stood just inside the bathroom doorway, hands on her hips, eyes narrowed. “Cut it out, Annie, I’ve had enough of you talking like Newt kidnapped Lotli, the innuendos and little jabs. Maybe his family’s hiding something, but Newt doesn’t have anything to do with it. So quit acting like he’s evil, okay?”

I mirrored her stance. “He told you his dad was a stockbroker, that they owned their summer home. Those were lies. His brother is a registered creep. No matter what you want to think: Newt’s not innocent.”

She turned her back on me, her voice bordering on hysteria. “I don’t know why I bothered coming. You’re so, so . . . You always have to be right—” Her voice died and she slowly faced me. Angry red blotches mottled her face. But tears rimmed her eyes.

My anger drained. She didn’t look pissed. She was trembling like she was about to fall apart. Earlier today, when we’d first heard about the lies Newt and his family had been telling, I’d seen something in Selena’s eyes, something beneath her disbelief.

“What is it? Tell me,” I asked gently.

She raked her hands over her face. “Nothing. You just need to trust me. I know Newt couldn’t be involved. And he wouldn’t have let his brother do it either.”

I leveled my gaze with hers and toughened my voice. “What makes you so certain? Tell me the truth, Selena.”

Her chin quivered. “I just know.”

Tucking the hairbrush handle first into my hip pocket, I stepped closer. I pushed her hair back from her face. “You’re my cousin. Please. Tell me.”

“Nothing. He just wouldn’t do it. He loves me.”

“I get that. But—”

She shoved my hand away. “No, you don’t get it. I know he loves me. Like forever.”  Her eyes pleaded for me to understand what she couldn’t bring herself to say.

A possibility seeped into my head.  My hands went to my mouth, covering a horrified gasp. She couldn’t mean. She couldn’t have.  “What did you do?”

“I kind of—I put a . . .” Her voice faded and she looked down at the floor.

“A spell?” A month ago, the idea of witchcraft being involved would never have occurred to me. Now it seemed more than likely.

“You can’t tell anyone. Mom, Dad, Grandfather—they’d kill me.” She curled her arms over her head, her shoulders shaking as she crumpled down against the wall.

I crouched and put my arms around her. “Whatever it is, it’ll be fine. It can’t be that bad.”

“It is,” she sobbed.

Other Books In This Series:

Book 1- A Hold On Me – On Sale for $2.99

Book 2 – Beyond Your Touch- On Sale for $3.99

About the Author:

Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts.  

An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle, and George Sciter’s Cat Tales Anthology.

The first two novels in her Dark Heart series, A HOLD ON ME and BEYOND YOUR TOUCH are available from Kensington Books.  REACH FOR YOU (book #3 Dark Heart series) will be released June 27th. Her short story, Black as a Dark Moon, Scarlet as Sumac, will come out this September in the Fragments of Darkness anthology.

Website: http://patesden.com

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Tour Giveaway:

paperback set of the entire series

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