***Please note, provided by the author, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review***
A dark angel, with blood on his hands and fire in his eyes
So, three things...
1. Keri Lake is one of my absolute favorite authors.
2. I really, REALLY wanted to love this book.
3. I don't expect mine to be one of 'popular opinion'.
(OTHERWISE I CAN'T FULLY EXPLAIN MY RATING)
What I liked-
Ms. Lake is a master at 'painting the picture'. Her stories always hit the ground running and continue to build throughout. The reader is given a very clear picture of the world she created and the characters that lived there. Also, I have always loved her character dynamics, the ones aside from the H/h. In this case, Nick's relationship with Lauren was very tender and sweet. It added a much needed layer to his dark character. She's very detailed with her characters which gives her readers an in-depth look inside these characters to see what drives them. Overall, Ricochet is a fast paced, action packed, sexy, dark emotional roller coaster that many will absolutely devour.
What I didn't like-
I felt this story went on a bit too long. There were parts, throughout, that in my opinion could have been trimmed. I found myself skimming more often than I should have. I became a fan of Ms. Lake via her paranormal romance and while Ricochet is not, I almost feel like it should have been. That way, there is more room for it to be a little 'out there' when it comes what would actually be considered realistic. It had a bit of a marvel comic turned movie feel to it which was a turn off for me. The things Nick got away with, what all the characters (for the most part) got away with, seemed way over the top.
Little things that didn't work for me such as, Aubree's wrist tattoo. It wasn't like a small little symbol or anything. It was like a four line passage yet, never noticed it before? Where did all the cartoon references come from? She didn't have any children. Safe sex was nonexistent, despite him doing god knows what during his blackouts, and what was so 'dark' exactly? The darkest part of their sex life was 'fade to black'. I never noticed an explanation for the bloody sheets. Also, given HIS situation, the fact that she has a background in anything even remotely associated with therapy...it left a bad taste in my mouth.
I figured out the twist early on and I immediately grew concerned on how it would be handled in the end. I'm all for fantasy. I'm all for the stories and the characters being larger than life. Hell, I'm even all for love conquers all! However, I feel that when an author chooses to add something very real, an actual diagnosis, it changes things entirely. I think that, at that point, the author has an obligation to handle that aspect of the story properly and that any glossing over it or romanticizing it can be dangerous and therefore irresponsible. This is not to preach or to lecture anyone, only my opinion on the subject matter. I know many will disagree and that's okay, difference in opinions is what makes the world go 'round. For me, however, it took away any chance of me fully loving this story or feeling at all satisfied with the ending.
There will be a huge audience for Ricochet and I expect it to be greatly successful. I am still a huge fan of this very talented author and look forward to what she has up her sleeve next!
***Please note, this book was gifted by the author in exchange for an honest review***
"Just promise me you will lean on me when you hurt, I need to know that I can be that person for you."~Jagger
Love/Hate. That was my ride from beginning to end. I haven't been this torn about a book in a very, very long time and so forgive me if this review is shit cause I really don't know how I'm going to properly form an explanation here. I think the best I can do is break it down, the 'good' vs the 'bad'. First, let me say, I am no prude. I personally think a great deal of our society take themselves way too seriously, I don't care what is 'politically correct' and what isn't. Nor do I have a problem with graphic language, as a myself curse...a lot. Having gotten that out of the way, let's start with the good.
*Chapter 2. Chapter 2 was a saving grace because chapter 1 had me thisclose to DNF. Chapter 2 was well written, emotional and riveting. My tears were free flowing. I was nervous going into chapter 3 but I enjoyed that one as well. I loved the feel of the story and journey I thought I was about to be taken on. Chapter 2 was about tragedy and loss and I loved how the author used entertainment headlines to carry the reader through that time in our heroine's (Henley) life and how she began to find her way back.
* The band mates. I loved how each of the guys have their own very distinguishable personality and that said personality was allowed to shine through as the story unfolded. Kip was my absolute favorite, even though his antics wore a little thin at times. I especially appreciated the sneak peak towards the end that gave a little insight to why Kip uses humor as a deflection. Koi, the adorably protective older brother gave me some laugh out loud moments. He's a great character that I hope is explored more as this series continues.
*Emotional. Between the playground kickball flashbacks and the lyrics to "Hands Down", Guitar Face holds some beautifully written, tear jerking moments.
*Chapter 1 and the immature, extremely outdated terms throughout. Chapter one was so incredibly bad. I honestly didn't know if I could go any further. It read like desperate fan fic written by a horny 14 year old. Maybe I'm just getting old but fuck if I know anyone beyond legal driving age who says things like "pork me", "fun hole" or "baloney pony". Henley didn't always say such drivel out loud. No, it was mostly saved for me, the reader, who had to suffer through her mindless, childish inner monologue. It was like she was a bitch in heat and I so desperately wanted to hose her down.
*The word rape. Using it to describe anything other than the violent crime it is, is not cute. It is not flirtatious, nor is it witty. And on that note, the whole 'teaching Kip a lesson' scene didn't set well with me at all. Had that been a female character, shit would have hit the fan.
*Repetition. Pantie dropping. Focus Grasshopper. If she looked to her feet one more time to make sure 'her panties hadn't dropped around her ankles', my kindle would have hit the wall.
*Lack of emotion between the lead couple. I struggled to connect to our couple here. I felt it was more physical than emotional so when the ups and downs hit, I wasn't emotionally invested enough to care either way. I did, however, love how Henley laid down the law on her front porch but two seconds later I was pissed again. The only time I felt an emotional pull was the parking lot scene when Jagger carried her guitar case for her to put in her trunk.
*Some random things that grated my nerves were 1. Everyone one is hot. It was like every single person was oh so very hot. It drove me nuts. 2. Our 115lb heroine drank 4 bottles of wine...OK. 3. Token lesbian and token African American seemed to be exactly that...tokens. It felt out of place, instead of integrating them into the story, they felt like decoration instead. 4. Insta-love. Each band member should have his own book so why, were 2 seemingly thrown into a relationship in book 1? Why rush it? Why not let these relationships develop in their individual books. That of course is a creative decision for the author but it seemed odd to me.
The mystery of other worlds is not one Hannah Winters ever thought she’d solve. However, the day she spots a brown-robed stranger with a magical staff in a neighbor’s field is the day she also discovers Aerisia, a magical land beyond Earth’s sunset.
Here in Aerisia, Hannah is believed to be the Artan, a legendary heroine prophesied to deliver Aerisia from the Dark Powers. Plenty of people, including the Simathe, a race of immortal warriors, and the Moonkind, people of the Moon, are willing to help her discover her true identity, but Hannah’s just an ordinary girl from Earth. She doesn't have any latent magical abilities and she’s not the Artan. However, her allies aren't seeing it that way. Neither are her enemies. In fact, Hannah’s life is in jeopardy nearly from the moment she arrives in Aerisia. And becoming the Artan may be the only way to survive… Buy links...
***Please note, copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.***
"Little wolf," he rasped. "Never run from one such as me." ~Ethan
Surrender to the Chase was a nice little 'happy dance' kind of read for me. Too often, it feels authors get fixated on a specific word count and as a result, the story itself gets buried in all the padding. Trim. the. fat. as Ms. Greene has done so well. I can only speak for myself but I have a hectic schedule, (on a good day!) and so my reading time is precious.
This is a quick start type of story, it hits the ground running. It's been a year since Ethan's friend, fellow assassin, was killed. His first job since the tragedy is a bit of a head scratcher. He's an assassin, not a babysitter. He doesn't have the time nor the patience to chase after some shifter princess runaway. I was sold on Ethan right out the gate. The vampire has a chip on his shoulder but harbors a lot of pain. Ms. Greene provides just enough inner monologue to allow you to get to know him without it going on and on to where you feel like he's always in his head and never shuts up. On a shallow note, a vamp named Ethan, for whatever reason, totally and completely works for me.
Speaking of character names, I can't say that I love the name Fraya. It didn't work for me at all. But...I really liked the character. She made for a great heroine and the chemistry between she and Ethan was spot on. Another character name that didn't work for me was 'Lynn'. Not so much that I just don't like the name. It's because considering the type of character, it just didn't fit. I couldn't get the image of this character in my head. I know that for some readers, it's not a big deal. For me, names are HUGE. I need their names to make sense to me. If they don't, it can stunt the enjoyment factor for me.
This brings me to two other characters that I can't wait to learn more about. Jaxon and Lance appear just briefly but I cannot wait for each of their books. PLEASE let them both have their own book! The Under Realm Assassins series is definitely one I'll keep an eye on, can't wait for book 3!
So here's the thing, I've been reviewing for a couple of years now and while I do, absolutely, LOVE it, it does have it's downside. Each and every time I get an review request from an author, I am thrilled. I feel honored to be offered the opportunity to read a project that said author put their blood, sweat and tears into. Do I accept all requests? No, I do not. It may be for various reasons such as genre, length, my current schedule, etc., etc.
It's when I do accept, that's when it can get sticky. For the longest time, I would finish a book, come hell or high water, even if it became painful to continue page after page. I felt like I owed it to that author to see it to the end. I don't really believe there is a truly right OR wrong way to handle such situations and I think each reviewer has the right to set their own personal policy. Mine, however, has since changed and I have to say, since making the change, my respect for authors has grown, ten fold.
I am all Kindle so I speak in percentage, lol, and I have a 25% policy. Is it set in stone? No but it's a general standard of mine. If I can't connect by 25%, I stop reading. I personally feel that is best for both me and the author because if I "force" myself to finish, you can pretty much bet on a harsher review. It's only human nature to get pissy when forced to do something you don't really want to do, is it not? That isn't fair to the author. I don't want to inadvertently unleash my "wrath" because I'm pissed off about hours of mind numbing reading that I'll never get back. For me, the best approach is to stop and give said author my reasoning.
On the other hand, I can see why some authors would feel slighted by that logic. They gifted their book to me for review, the least I can do is finish it right? And because I can see that side too, I give authors a choice. I can simply mark it "dnf" and call it a day, OR, I will honor the review request and finish the book as well as post an HONEST review.
I may not fall in love with every book that I read but when an author can take it as the constructive criticism that it's meant to be, imo, everyone wins. It shows this author is a professional and understands this world and has the balls to play in it anyway. It can't be easy receiving an email from a blogger/reviewer that basically says "Yeah...no." I feel that it all comes down to mutual respect.
A year after the tragic death of his close friend and fellow assassin, Ethan Halstead is ready to take up his sniper rifle once more. But his first assignment is nothing he ever expected. Ethan must hunt and retrieve a beautiful, spirited, alluring werewolf.
Knowing no other way to escape an arranged marriage, Fraya flees from her pack. As she contemplates slipping across the border and heading to South America, she is captured by a dangerously seductive vampire who plans on escorting her back to her family. Even as Fraya vows to make Ethan’s mission as difficult as possible, she can’t resist the riotous desire he sparks within her.
But Ethan isn’t the only predator that peruses Fraya. A powerful rival pack’s alpha wants to make her his mate. Will Ethan be able to keep Fraya safe and return her to her pack? Or will he surrender to temptation and claim Fraya as his own?
~ Novella ~
Read the first 3 chapters of Surrender to the Chase (Under Realm Assassins #2)
To be release May 12th, 2015
Lightning splintered the sky. Thunder shook the earth beneath his feet. Damp heat thickened the air. Any moment the winds would kick up and the red hued clouds would release a torrent of rain.
Ethan loved summer storms and treasured Arizona for its monsoon season. It was only during the madness of the storm that he found peace. In those rare, precious moments, the world reflected the chaos that roiled inside him and he felt…as if he belonged.
Closing his eyes, he took in a deep breath and savored the soothing scent of the dessert. To his disappointment, he would not be able to appreciate the beauty of nature’s fury. Clearing his mind, Ethan unleashed his senses. His mark was close. He could feel her. Crossing the street, he headed for the quaint coffee shop he frequently sped past. She was here, which meant he could call an end to this pointless job.
Ethan was an assassin, not a damn babysitter. He was an expert tracker and sniper, yet the Under Realm Syndicate had him chasing after a spoiled little she-wolf. He had been tasked with fetching the runaway and returning her to her pack – a complete waste of his time and talents. He couldn’t believe he had let Cole talk him into this. The fact was, this case should’ve never made the list. Why the Syndicate decided to get involved was beyond his understanding. This wasn’t a kidnapping or a hostage situation. The female wasn’t a criminal. She wasn’t a threat to the human world or Under Realm society.
His annoyed growled blended with the booming thunder. Cole had insisted Ethan accept this assignment, “You should be grateful the Syndicate is willing to give you a second chance. You’ve been out of practice.”
Who could argue with that logic? Ethan had been off the map for a year. Most within the Syndicate believed he had been killed on his last mission.
I should have been. Shaking his head, he dispelled the thought. He refused to take sober trips down memory lane. He needed to focus on his task.
The aroma of freshly ground coffee was overwhelming. Ethan reigned in his supernatural senses as he stepped inside the shop. The door closed and the torrential rain began to fall. He did a quick, nonchalant sweep of the café with his eyes, careful not to meet anyone’s gaze. Eye contact encouraged conversation and he was here on business not pleasure. He would grab the werewolf, take her back to his home and detain her until he could make arrangements with her father. Simple.
Ethan walked to the counter. After the blonde and brunette baristas finished arguing over who would help him, he order and received a black coffee. The cup had both girl’s names and numbers written on it. He thanked them with a smile. They batted their lashes and insisted he stop by a college party later that night.
Ethan’s shoulders shook with a light laugh. Naïve mortals.
Turning, he headed up the winding iron staircase that led to the second floor loft area. The walls were made nearly entirely of glass, providing a glorious view of the storm. Students sat at the tables working on their laptops while groups lounged on the sofas discussing the world of social media.
The delicate scent of wildflowers drifted through the air drawing his sharp gaze to the far corner. There was nothing remarkable about her presence. She appeared to fit in perfectly with the scene, as if she were just another co-ed. She wore a pair of skinny jeans and a crimson sweatshirt. She sat with her feet tucked under her Indian style. Leaning over the table, her long dark brown hair tumbled forward, blocking her face from his view. Ethan noted the worn, tattered condition of the book she read. Her frame was small. She seemed fragile, but he knew better. She was strong, fast, and intelligent. His mark appeared to be ‘normal’ by human standards, but she was the wolf he was looking for.
Hoping everything would go smoothly, he advance. This was a delicate situation. The female could freak out on him. She could cause a scene and he loathed drama just as much as he loathed this particular job. It was not a search and rescue mission. No, it was a track-down-a-spoiled-brat-and-bring-her-home mission. A simpleton could do it. Why it had to be done was beyond him. She was an adult at twenty-four. She had a degree in biology and, as a werewolf, she was more than capable of taking care of herself.
Who cares? Grab the girl and go.
Ethan quickly reminded himself of the two basic rules: never become personally involved with your mark and strike first, ask questions later – if you cared about asking question at all.
As he approached the woman he felt a slight tremor in the air. A warning? A threat? Someone was watching them. He set loose his senses once more, scanning the café for the source of the violent energy, but it had vanished just as quickly as it had come.
The girl must have felt the glimmer of danger. Her gaze snapped up and met his. Her warm, honey colored eyes were round with surprise. Her tempting red lips parted with a silent gasp. Ethan froze. She was…more than beautiful.
She blinked up at him. Her gaze innocently seductive, her mouth violently tempting, and her wild flower scent was overwhelming. His body reacted instantly. It had been years since he felt such a strong, instant attraction.
He watched her lick her lips, lust shot through him like a lightning strike. Oh, yes. The wolf was alluring and, to his surprise, he was disappointed she was his mark.
“Hi,” she said with a nervous lilt to her voice.
Ethan shook himself mentally and crossed over to the chair opposite her. “Hi,” he replied.
Thunder rumbled, the force shook the glass walls. The girl flinched and her gaze fell from his. For a soundless moment, she sat with her hands clasped in her lap, her head tilted down. The mortals gasped and laughed as another boom shook the windows.
“You may sit,” she said, her voice low, barely audible.
Ethan could smell the fear that sparked within her. Was she frightened of the storm or what possibly lurked outside? An overwhelming sense of protectiveness settled over him and he frowned. He didn’t like it. He wasn’t the protective type. He was a killer not a savior.
Focus and get this over with.
“Not a fan of thunderstorms?” he asked as he claimed the chair.
She straightened and fixed her gaze on him once more. Her expression was bland, her cute stubborn chin titled up, her shoulders back. She looked regal and refined. Every bit the aristocrat she was.
“I’m accustom to snow storms.”
“Really? Where are you from?”
“Minnesota,” she answered with a hint of hesitation.
He smiled and was shocked he didn’t have to fake it. “You’re a long way from home.”
She shrugged and returned her attention to her book.
Ethan took a sip of the surprisingly good coffee and relaxed back in his seat. He took up a golf magazine, which rested on the table beside them, and began flipping through the pages. He wasn’t at all interested in golf. Being a vampire, he preferred keeping out of the sun. Although, contrary to popular lore, he wouldn’t burst into flame or turn to ash. He could work on his tan, he just preferred not to.
He casually glanced over at the werewolf and inwardly groaned. She was reading a list of the top ten hot-spots in Chile. It appeared she was interested in sunbathing and he couldn’t stop the image of her in a bikini from cropping up in his mind even if he had wanted to. Which he certainly did not.
She sighed, closed the book, and tucked it away in her back pack, which hung off the back of her chair. She took up her latte and settled her gaze on him. Her lips turned up with a sweet smile.
“You don’t strike me as the golfing type.”
He raised a brow and tossed the magazine down on the table between them. “No?”
She shook her head, her long dark curls waving around her shoulders. “Not at all. You look like you’d rather go to a shooting range than work on your golf swing.”
Ethan couldn’t argue with that. He’d had his basement converted into an indoor gun range.
“Very observant,” he said. “What about you? What’s your hobby?”
She bit her bottom lip as she contemplated. Ethan wanted to bite it for her. “Traveling. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. You know, see the world. Experience different cultures.”
“Is that what your trip to Arizona is all about?” he asked.
“More or less,” she answered with a shrug.
“Well, South America is beautiful.”
Her eyes grew wide. She leaned forward, placing her hands on the table.Excitement laced her voice, “You’ve been?”
Ethan shifted closer and reached for her hand. The air trembled with another flicker of danger just before the lights went out. Darkness flooded the café.
His mark shoved away from the table, snatched her back pack and darted towards the stairs. Ethan was right behind her. The mortals grumbled complaints, some laughed, while others stumbled through the dark.
She was about to reach the exit when the door flew open, crashing against the wall. Humans screamed and shouted in alarm. The girl froze and Ethan cursed. Clearly, he hadn’t been the only one searching for her. He could sense the alpha’s presence and, judging by his target’s reaction, so could she.
Ethan grabbed her wrist. She swung around. Her fist raised, her honey colored eyes glowed, and her fangs bared. Shadows of a wolf’s fierce visage flickered over the fine features of her face. Her fierce growl vibrated her entire body. Ethan ignored the warning and tugged on her arm, pulling her towards the emergency exit at the back of the coffee shop.
He pushed the door open. His mark tried to twist free of his hold, but he held her firm.
“Let go of me,” she demanded, her voice roughened by her partial transformation.
“Not a chance, sweetheart.”
She growled and fought harder. He wasn’t surprised by her strength and knew she was still holding back. So was he.
Pushing her now soaked and tangled hair from her face, she snarled, “What’s going on?”
“I thought it was obvious,” he said.
“That you’re attempting to kidnap me?”
Ethan shook his head. “No. That you have an alpha hunting your ass.”
Her stare was one of confusion, awe, and horror. She stopped and he paused. Literally dragging her across the street would draw unwanted attention. He reluctantly released her wrist. She was soft and warm, while he was hard and cold. A frown creased his brow when the sharp sense of loss pricked his long dead heart. On some level, he’d enjoyed the feel of her.
She blinked up at him. Her large, honey eyes sparkled with fear. “W-what did you say?”
His chest rose and fell with a heavy sigh. “I’ll explain. For now, come with me.”
She shook her head.
Ethan glanced over his shoulder, scanning the parking lot for any sign of the alpha. He could sense the wolf was close.
“We don’t have much time. We need to go.”
The woman fell back a step and Ethan’s body tensed. His instincts flared. She retreated another step. Would she run? A part of him wished she would. He loved the chase. The hunt. His heart began to pound, his pupils dilated and his fangs began to sharpen, all in anticipation.
“Don’t,” he warned.
Fraya dodged cars, their horns blaring. She sped through the abandoned strip mall. Puddles splashed beneath her feet, rain stung her cheeks and blurred her vision. Three…four…five blocks. Terror fueled her. She had to get away. Far away. Now.
God, she had been stupid. She had sensed an ominous, dangerous presence lurking in the shadows for days. Yeah. Stupid. An alpha. Shit. If the werewolf caught her…if he were of a rival pack…She couldn’t think about that. She had to escape the alpha and the smoking hot stranger who insisted she go with him to lord knew where.
Turning a corner, she sprinted across an empty parking lot to a vacant park. She slipped past empty swaying swings. Lighting cracked and thunder shook the ground beneath her feet.
Fraya heard a vicious growl behind her. Her heart painfully pounded against her ribs as she ran faster. She had just reached a clear soccer field when she heard him lunge for her. Fraya swallowed a scream as they crashed to the ground.
He rolled her to her back. Bracing his hands on either side of her head, he held his chest away from her, but trapped her legs with his thighs. He overwhelmed her with his size and power. Strength emanated from him. His once playful green gaze was now cold and sharp. Shadows contorted his handsome face and his fangs…Her breath stilled in her lungs. Her heart stuttered. Pure terror struck her. Vampire!
“Little wolf,” he rasped. “Never run from one such as me.”
The male pinning her down was a vampire. Amongst the Under Realm Society, vampires were believed to by creatures of lore. Her mother had told her stories of the blood drinkers – secret assassins created by and for the Under Realm Syndicate. They were thought to be unimaginably strong, fast, lethal, cold blooded, indestructible killing machines.
Did the Fates hate her? Had she done something terribly wrong in a previous life? Fraya had thought her world was falling apart, now she realized it was burning and crashing down around her.
The vampire dipped his head down, burying his face in the hollow of her neck. She could feel his cool breath on her throat and, God help her, excitement rushed through her. Closing her eyes, she held her breath waiting for him to strike. Her heart skipped as she thought of his fangs penetrating her jugular, his lips pressed tightly against her neck as he greedily drained her.
Seconds turned into minutes. His large frame shielding her from the rain. He didn’t touch her. He held his body a fraction of an inch above her, his elbows bent in perfect ninety-degree angles, supporting him. He effortlessly held the position as he took in her scent.
Fraya opened her eyes. Building her courage to speak, she nervously licked her lips. The urge to wrap her legs around his hips, grip his shoulders, and pull him to her was maddening. Her body grew hot and her shirt felt tight across her breasts. God, the anticipation was devastating. No! The fear was devastating. She was overcome by terror not lust.
“A−are you going to bite me?” she asked, her voice trembled.
The mysterious vampire brushed his lips over her pulse. The caress was so light she almost doubted he’d kissed her at all. Need flooded her, drowning any sense of self-preservation. Dangerous. He was dangerous and so was the alpha. She shook her head, trying to clear her mind of the thick haze of lust.
She felt his lips brush her ear as he said, “Run from me again and I will sink my fangs into your pretty little neck.”
Would his bite bring agonizing pain or blissful euphoria?
He took in one last deep breath, inhaling her scent before he pushed himself back. He remained on his knees, keeping her trapped beneath him. Their gazes met as lightning splintered the heavens. Fraya was struck speechless as a blistering curse fell from his lips. His piercing green eyes burned with ravenous desire. She knew his gaze mirrored her own. She wanted him. The animal inside her howled, demanding she surrender to this male. She shifted beneath him, barely resisting the urge to arch her back and roll her hips in invitation.
What was happening to her? She was losing her mind. Yes, that must be it. She had been on the run. The constant stress, lack of sleep, and ever present hunger must be getting to her.
“Why did you chase me?”
“Why did you run from me?” he countered.
Fraya tried to sit up, but he gently pushed her back down. With an irritated sigh she answered, “I wasn’t running from you in particular. I was running from the alpha.”
“Stick with me and you needn’t worry about the alpha.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Really?”
She was skeptical. “Why should I trust you?”
“You can run as far and as fast as you like, but the alpha will eventually track you down. An unmated pureblood female werewolf without her pack,” he shook his head, “sweetheart, you’re fare game.”
Fraya couldn’t argue against that, but she wasn’t in the market for a body guard. She needed to travel light and fast. She needed to get to Chile like yesterday and he would just slow her down.
“Thanks for the offer, but I’ll take my chances.”
With a shrug of his large shoulders, he stood. He held out his hand, offering to help her to her feet. She hesitated, staring at his out stretched hand for a moment before she took it. The chilled bite of metal locked around her wrist.
Rage swept through like an inferno. Her lips pulled back, baring her own set of fangs. Her wolf rising.
“Stay calm,” he said, his voice smooth and way too even.
“What the hell are you doing?” she snarled.
“I politely offered you my protection, but you didn’t want it. Now, I really must insist.”
Fraya’s vision began to turn red. How dare this stranger restrain her? She should rip his throat with her teeth. “Who are you?”
He shook his head. “My name isn’t important, but I’ll be the vampire escorting you home.”
Dread twisted her stomach, forcing bile to rise in her throat. “No. You can’t. I won’t go back!” She fought against the cuff, using all of her strength, but unlike normal steel, the bracelet held true. “Are you working for my father?”
He clasped the other band around his own wrist, binding them together. “I work for no individual man.”
She grabbed his arm. Panic heighted her voice, “I’ll double whatever my father is paying you. I can’t go back. You don’t understand−”
The wind whipped around them, yet he could still smell her fear. With a frown he asked, “You would rather test your luck against the alpha than return home?”
“Please, I can’t go back,” she begged. “I will triple your pay.”
He raised a brow. “Triple?”
He captured her cuffed wrist and pulled her hard against him. Desire crashed over her, robbing her of breath. “Money doesn’t interest me.”
Oh, God. Her pulse kicked up, her heart pounded so fast she could hear it. “What does interest you?”
His alluring lips slowly lifted into a charming smile, which was made sexy by his long lethal fangs. “You’re coming with me, little wolf.”
The roaring engine of the 1970 Camaro filled the silence within the car. Fraya nervously glanced his way. He was soaked through, just like her. Droplets of rain water fell from his black hair and slowly slipped down his cheek, over his hard jaw, and fell to his shirt. She had the insane desire to follow the trail with her lips, her tongue…His wet clothes revealed every harsh line of his solid body.
Fraya’s gaze fluttered to his hand on the stick shift. He wore an interesting looking ring. Gold, silver, and black strands twisted together, creating a cathedral setting for the sapphire stone, which was overlaid with a strange coat of arms. Leaning toward him, she studied the symbol intently. The ring was familiar…The tiny hairs on the back of her neck rose. Her gaze snapped up. The vampire was watching her. She felt her cheeks burn with a blush. He gave her a wink. Fraya abruptly turned away trying to hide her embarrassment.
The silence remained constant as they continued to drive into the darkness of the night. Fraya couldn’t keep still. Anxiety made her hands tremble causing the cuff around their wrists to rattle. With an exasperated sigh, the vampire took her hand, placed it on the eight ball shifter and covered her fingers with his own. She tried to pull away, but he had her trapped.
“Can you try to relax?” he asked.
“I might if you tell me where we’re going?”
“And spoil the surprise?”
Her eyes went wide with alarm and he chuckled. She tried to ignore the warmth of his teasing smile. This man could be a killer and she could very likely be his next victim. She shouldn’t find him sexy as hell. She should find him terrifying.
“Does my fear assume you?” she demanded.
“Not in the least, but you’ve no reason to fear me.”
“Oh, really?” she scoffed. “One, I don’t know you. Two, you’re a vampire.”
Her captor gave a nonchalant shrug. Fraya growled low and turned her attention back out the window. She was done conversing with him. It was pointless. He wasn’t going to tell her who he was, where he was taking her, or how/when he would be shipping her off to her father, effectively ending her life as she knew it.
She closed her eyes and shivered. She didn’t know who she feared more at the moment. Her father or the vampire. Her capture was dangerous. Lethal. Vampires were mysterious creatures, rumored to have been created by the Under Realm Syndicate to eliminate threats to the Under Realm Society. Fear’s icy grip chocked her. Was he an assassin? Did they actually exist? The vampire claimed he would return her to her pack, but there was a chance he could be driving her out to the middle of the dessert to put a bullet in her brain.
He couldn’t be trusted, but that didn’t stop hope from fluttering in her chest. Could she convince him not to take her back? The vampire had refused her money but he seemed…interested in her.
Fraya had little experience with men. She’d had a crush on a boy for a while when she was seventeen. Their love affair hadn’t lasted long. Her father had learned of their amour and severd ties with his pack. A chill shook her. She couldn’t stand her father, but she would always be grateful that he had stepped in when he had. Lynn had become extremely possessive and controlling toward the end of their relationship.
Don’t think about him. There could be another alpha. Father has many enemies.
Fraya blinked in disbelief when they pulled up to very modern home with sleek lines and large, darkly tinted windows. The vampire hit a button on the visor. The driveway was a steep decline into an underground garage. Fraya’s heart rate spiked as they came to a stop and the ignition shut off.
Without a word or even a glance, the vampire unlocked the cuff then exited the car. Fraya bit into her bottom lip and silently chanted: stay calm. But her nerves weren’t listening to her rational mind. Was her father here? Or was he on his way here? If not, when would the vampire be sending her back?
Her soul nearly jumped from her body when he opened her door. For a second he stood, staring down at her. Concern flickered like a shadow over his face. He leaned in and unfastened her seatbelt.
“Will you do me a favor?” His rough voice banished her anxiety, immediately replacing the debilitating emotion with another – desire. He held out his hand. “Please, relax.”
Fraya bit even harder into her bottom lip as she gazed at his out stretched hand. Why was he being nice? And caring? She didn’t like it. She couldn’t like it. The secretive vampire wasn’t to be trusted.
She brushed aside his hand and stood, closing the car door behind her. It slammed harder than she intended, but she wouldn’t apologize.
“You’re working for my father and plan on returning me to his pack. Since you’re screwing me over, I won’t do you any favors.”
Did his lips twitch with a smile? “How about doing it for yourself?”
“Sadly ‘relax’ was deleted from my personal dictionary a long time along.”
A gasp slammed from her lungs as he pressed her back against the car. Taking her wrist, he brought her hand up and pressed her palm against her chest. She could feel her heart pounding.
He leaned in, caging her. His head dipped down to the hollow of her throat. She swallowed hard and suppressed a longing moan when his breath caressed her sensitive ear lobe.
“You really ought to do yourself the favor and Google the definition. Your pulse. It’s wild. And it makes me crave a taste.”
Against her will, her body arched into him. Her hips pressed forward, her breasts thrust against his chest. Heat rushed through her as she shivered from the contact. Damn it. What was wrong with her?
The vampire released her and stepped away. His expression unreadable as he studied her. Fraya felt her blush burn her cheeks and spread down her neck. God, she must be glowing red.
He turned and headed into the house. Fraya slowly followed, mortified by her actions and nervousness.
“He’s not here,” he called over his shoulder as he led the way down a windowless hallway.
Fraya paused. Could the vampire read her mind? No. He couldn’t…Shaking her head, she continued on down the hall, which lead to an enormous open concept living area. The kitchen was a chef’s dream complete with industrial grade steel appliances and a large island. The dining area was elegant and simple, while the living room screamed bachelor pad. A huge black leather sectional faced a T.V that was the size of the wall. But what captured her interest was the picturesque windows. The pool created an oasis, a tranquil scene. Angry storm clouds were rolling in, lightning struck in the distance, the wind bellowed.She stepped toward the windows, drawn in by the majestic desert.
The vampire came to stand beside her and, in that moment, her fears dissolved. Her anxiety melted away. She wanted him to wrap an arm around her shoulders and pull her close. She wanted him to hold her as the summer storm passed. She wanted this moment of peace to last forever.
Stop acting stupid, she chided herself. She was in trouble and needed to get out. Quick.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
She nonchalantly shrugged. She was starving, but only a fool admitted weakness to their enemy.
“You’ve been on the road, I doubt you’ve had a decent meal lately.”
“I get by,” she replied.
“A candy bar from a vending machine at a bus depot does not a meal make,” he said with a chuckle.
Fraya bit her lip to stop from smiling. “Hey, some have peanuts, which makes them a good source of protein.”
He laughed and the sound warmed her heart and eased the worry in her soul.
The vampire isn’t charming and he doesn’t have a sexy laugh. Oh, yeah, she would keep telling herself that. She’d also tell herself he wasn’t hot, his eyes aren’t gorgeous, and that she didn’t secretly crave to taste his smile.
He grabbed her wrist and gently tugged her towards another hall. “The bathroom is the first door on the right and you may use this bedroom.” He opened the door to the left and stepped aside.
Fraya hugged her backpack to her chest and stepped past him. The guest room was nicely furnished with a queen size bed topped with a white comforter. A single dresser and a small desk with a comfy looking armchair she could curl up and read in. This certainly beat the train stations and bus stops she had been camping out in. Fraya never stayed at a hotel. She feared hanging out at one place for too long.
One night here will be fine. Besides, I need some time to device a new exit strategy. She would need to ditch the vamp and somehow make it across multiple boarders if she were ever going to reach Chile. This wasn’t going to be easy.
She dropped her bag on the floor beside the bed and followed him back out into the main living area.
“You’re welcome to use the shower. You’ll find everything you need in there. You can also wash your clothes, if you like.”
She glanced down at herself. “If you hadn’t tackled me, I wouldn’t be caked in mud.”
“If you hadn’t run, I wouldn’t have had to tackle you,” he countered.
“I ran because of the alpha.”
He shook his head. “I’m not big on sharing, but I’ll let you in on a little secret about me. I’ve fought my share of renegade alphas.”
When he didn’t continued, she prompted, “And?”
He closed the distanced between them. His eyes locked on hers. Instantly, Fraya’s heart began to pound. Caressing her cheek he whispered, “They’re all dead.”
Amanda J. Greene is a paranormal romance author. When she is not writing, she can be found playing the role of a university student who also works full time. She lives in Southern California with her very supportive husband and their two dogs. Doing all the above and being a military wife is not easy, but rewarding! Of course, she accomplishes everything with a strong cup of coffee in her hand.
My review: 4 out of 5 stars
***Please note, this book was gifted by the author in exchange for an honest review.***
"Isn't this a bit too Disney?"~Maya
Earth djinn Akshay, aka 'Shay' has the weight of his world and his people on his shoulders and in claiming the throne, there are great sacrifices. He needs an escape from his own skin, even if only for a moment. He finds himself, along with his brothers in arms at a familiar Texas watering hole named Lonesome Cowboy and from that point on, all hell broke loose and by hell, I mean a water djinn beauty by the name of Maya.
A Tale of Two Djinns is the second book I've read by author Mina Khan and she is steadily making her way to my 'go to' list of authors and series for when I'm in a reading rut. The Texas tone that she has laced within is a definite PLUS for me, for obvious reasons. ;-) This story packs a good punch, even though it's much shorter in length than I prefer. I do enjoy a novella from time to time but I'm greedy and always have 'MORE' on the brain.
I enjoyed all of the supporting characters and can't wait to learn more about the brother, who seems to be the epitome of 'grey character', which is my favorite kind! The leads have great chemistry and I really enjoyed the slight role reversal here. Not to say that Shay was any kind of damsel in distress but Maya, well...she's got a couple would be 'dude' qualities about her that made for some laugh out loud moments!
I will say, the prologue did seem a bit slow for me but once I hit chapter one, the pace picked up and I was able to simply enjoy the story itself. I'm very much looking forward to more from this author and this series!
When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to heaven, or maybe hell. Instead, when she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex, she went to Alabama. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up dead in Alabama?
I died, I expected to go to heaven.
Maybe hell. It’s not like I was perfect or anything. But I was sort of hoping
I went to Alabama.
I know. It’s weird.
died in Dallas, my hometown. I was killed, actually. Murdered. I’ll spare you
the gruesome details. I don’t like to remember them myself. Some jerk with a
knife--and probably a Bad-Mommy complex. Believe me, if I knew where he was,
I’d go haunt his ass.
any rate, by the time death came, I was ready for it--ready to stop hurting,
ready to let go. I didn’t even fight it.
then I woke up dead in Alabama. Talk about pissed off.
know, even reincarnation would have been fine with me--I could have started
over, clean slate and all that. Human, cow, bug. Whatever. But no. I ended up
haunting someplace I’d never even been.
not the way it’s supposed to work, right? Ghosts are supposed to be the
tortured spirits of those who cannot let go of their earthly existence. If they
could be convinced to follow the light, they’d leave behind said earthly
existence and quit scaring the bejesus out of the poor folks who run across
them. That’s what all those “ghost hunter” shows on television tell us.
me tell you something. The living don’t know jack about the dead.
this dead chick, anyway.
Buy Waking Up Dead for 99 cents in ebook through April 21:
Margo Bond Collins is the author of a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Waking Up Dead, Taming the Country Star, Bound by Blood, Legally Undead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her daughter and several spoiled pets. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.
I remember nothing of my abduction two years ago. Sounds and scents trigger horrific flashes, but it’s all a blur except for one man with brilliant green eyes. When the tatted six foot two Adonis shows up at my door, my knowledge of the world is shattered.
Bound to the immortal Scar by an ancient spell, we are on the run. Because Balen is the hunted.
And if he dies, so do I.
Balen: Scar Tracker
My code of honor was respected without question … until I consumed the blood of a vampire in exchange for a mortal woman’s freedom.
The Scars want me imprisoned. The Wraiths want me dead.
But the woman I can’t forget needs me. And I’ll risk everything to protect her.
Even if it means killing her.
Because in order for her to live—first she must die.
Full-length novel. Come meet the Scars.
Scars: Immortal warriors with capabilities derived from the senses: Trackers, Sounders, Healers, Tasters, Visionaries, and the rare Reflectors. They each have what is known as an Ink, a tattoo that can be called to life.
There are three full-length prequels to TAKE (scars of the wraiths). This is book One.
All three prequels were previously published and have been re-written entirely and are now in multiple first person POVs.
*Stygian was originally entitled JUMP.
The terror of dying had vanished—now I prayed for it.
His dagger-like nails tapped slow and precise up my neck until he reached the underside of my chin. He caressed the sensitive area with the pad of his finger then shoved his thumb upward between the curves of my jaw bone. It forced my mouth shut and I bit down hard on my tongue. Blood began to pool in my mouth and I couldn’t swallow with the pressure.
I breathed in and out frantically through my nose. I was going to choke on my own blood. I was going to die.
“Tilt your head,” he ordered.
The pressure increased and I turned my head, exposing the side of my neck. He moved his thumb away and I quickly spit out the blood. Remnants dribbled from the corners of my mouth and down my chin.
“Beautiful,” he purred, then curled his hand around the back of my neck and lifted slightly. I clenched my hands into fists, waiting for the familiar pain. I refused to scream—it made no difference anyway—no one was rescuing me from this monster.
I squeezed my eyes shut as he leaned over me, the odor of black licorice flooding my nostrils. He hissed and it sounded like the slow drag of a zipper being undone. I tensed and stopped breathing just before his fangs pierced my neck.
I silently cried as I lay unmoving, powerless to refuse him, frozen in the nightmare that had become reality. His lips were cold against my skin as he sucked the warmth of my blood. Each pull draining my strength until my hands unclenched and my nails embedded in my palms, released.
His tongue flicked over my neck and he lifted his head. “My sugary, Danielle.”
His voice was a calm melody, as if a paintbrush across a fresh white canvas, sweeping, rhythmic and subtle. I hated how it was captivating, how I compared it to something I loved, but I had no control over it.
I lay limp as the shackles released and cold, fish-like hands grabbed my arms and dragged me across the damp, dirt floor to the cage. My haven. Away from him. Away from the torture.
The monster threw me inside and I landed hard on my knees then collapsed to my side. The door slammed and locked.
The cage lifted off the ground, rocking back and forth as it was cranked upward until it settled next to two other cages.
I was so cold. Endless shivering that made my muscles ache from constantly trying to provide my body with warmth. My throat was dry and hoarse from screaming, as if a razor blade had scraped the flesh.
“Jesus.” A few feet away I heard the familiar graveled voice—Balen, my only comfort here. The rusted pipes overhead groaned as the continuous spray of water sprinkled inside his cage. “Christ, I’m sorry.”
It took too much energy to move, but I opened my eyes to look at him. My neighboring prisoner gripped the bars, knuckles white. His tense body a spring wound up so tight that it looked ready to fracture. His leg hung at an odd angle, mangled from the sledge hammer they tortured him with.
Despite his ravaged body, he was beautiful. Tattoos contoured to the hills and valleys of his muscular arms and chest. I’d caught a glimpse of a tiger on his lower back that was so intricate it looked alive. But it was his eyes that captivated me. Brilliant green, piercing and hard, filled with a haunting torment. When he was angry, the green darkened and looked almost black.
“Don’t you dare give up.”
I had already. I never thought I would in the beginning, but now…
“Look at me!” I heard what sounded like his fist pounding into the metal bars. “Look. At. Me.”
His tone was furious, and yet, I wasn’t scared of him. How could I be? He was all I had in this place.
Our eyes locked and the tension in his jaw eased. “You need to drink, Danni. Move closer.”
Water. I closed my eyes and imagined holding a cool glass of water and chugging it back; the liquid sliding down my throat, coating the harsh dryness. I’d never thought about the daily bottles of water I’d consumed, but now … now it was all I thought about. “I’m not letting you die, damn it.” His voice was harsh and abrupt and yet to me it was soothing.
Fearless. That’s what he was. He never screamed when they tortured him, never broke. I wanted that. To be brave again. But he had sucked it out of me.
I crawled across the metal floor and put my hands through the bars, cupping them together. I closed my eyes, afraid he wouldn’t be able to reach me this time.
But when the cool saturation hit my skin, tears pooled in my eyes. Water trickled through the crevices between my fingers and I quickly jolted back, afraid to lose a single drop of what he offered.
I licked my palms, the wetness adhering to my throat—velvet.
I reached out again and this time opened my eyes. He collected the water from the shower head attached to the top of his cage. It was a light spray and it took agonizing minutes just to gather a small handful.
We repeated the process five times, until my arms resisted rising any longer. “Thank you,” I whispered.
He sat and leaned up against the bars, leg bent and his arm resting on it; casual and indifferent and yet everything in his expression contradicted it. “Damn it Danni, you need to lock your mind from your body. Shut it down like I told you.” He sounded angry, but I knew it was because he was worried. “Separate the two. Don’t let him win.”
It was too late for that. He’d won the battle already.
I curled up on my side in a ball, my knees to my chin and my arms wrapped around them, trying to provide myself with some sort of warmth.
Then I closed my eyes and prayed for the darkness to take me.
I thought I heard him say something else, but I was already slipping into the void. It didn’t matter anyway. Nothing did.
Nashoda Rose is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Toronto with her assortment of pets. She writes contemporary romance with a splash of darkness, or maybe it’s a tidal wave.
When she isn't writing, she can be found sitting in a field reading with her dogs at her side while her horses graze nearby. She loves interacting with her readers and chatting about her addiction—books.