Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blood Rose Release Day Blitz with Danielle Rose

Title: BLOOD ROSE
Genre: NA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: OfTomes Publishing
Cover Art by Gwenn Danae
Cover Text by Eight Little Pages
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb:
There’s no wrath like that of a witch scorned.
As one of the only spirit users in her coven, Avah has been chosen to wield The Power, the ultimate weapon against the immortal vampire species witches have been at war with for centuries.
But on the night of her birth rite, Avah’s coven is attacked. Forced to seek refuge among the very beings she’s sworn to kill, Avah vows revenge on those who took her former life from her.
As Avah slowly transitions into a life of blood and war, she realizes everything she’s been told is a lie.
Danielle Rose holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. Currently residing in the Midwest, where she spends her days dreaming of warmer temperatures, when she’s not writing, she enjoys pretending she lives in California, spending an embarrassing amount of time at Hobby Lobby, and binge-watching Netflix. Visit Danielle on the Web: www.Danielle-Rose.com.
Author Links:
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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cheater’s Regret by Rachel Van Dyken

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Cheater’s Regret, an all-new sexy standalone from #1 New York Times Bestseller Rachel Van Dyken is available now on Amazon & Free in Kindle Unlimited!!

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Cheater’s Regret by Rachel Van Dyken Release Date: May 23rd

Genre: Contemporary Romance

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken returns with a smoking-hot story about the satisfaction of plotting revenge on your ex—until he turns your world upside down again.
Austin Rogers’s dreams of domestic bliss involved watching Netflix and eating hot dogs with the love of her life. But then he cheated on her. And dumped her—as if the whole thing was her fault. To maintain her pride and restore her sanity, she decides to get revenge. It feels immensely satisfying to plot her ex’s downfall—but so does kissing him.
Thatch Holloway, a plastic surgeon straight out of residency, knows he ruined the best thing that ever happened to him. But not all cheaters are created equal. He got himself into this messed-up situation—true—but he has his reasons for what happened, and he’d do it all again to protect Austin.
He’s not over her. And she’s not over him.
Austin wants closure, but since Thatch refuses to give it to her, she takes matters into her own hands. She needs to write a human-interest piece for her MBA, so she demands the full plastic-surgery experience. Sparks fly as they’re forced to work together. But Thatch isn’t afraid to play dirty in return. And he’s still hiding something—something that has the power to destroy not only Austin but their second chance at finding forever…

Excerpt:

“You want to do this right now?” He was still whispering as he slowly extended his large perfect surgeon’s hands out to the spider, and suddenly, I realized how this would end. The spider would bite him. Thatch’s bite would get infected. And he wouldn’t be able to do his job. Or pay off his student loans. Leaving him in debt. On the street. Naked. Dead. Thatch was going to die. “Wait!” I slowly lowered my body to the floor. Fear pounded in my ears as I held out my hands and Charlie lumbered onto my palms. It tickled. It would be nice if I weren’t so terrified of spiders. Shaking, I walked over to the bucket and gently set him inside, this time, right side up so Thatch could transport him later. Just as I pulled my hands away, something sharp dug into my skin. “Mother fu—” Thatch grabbed me just before I collapsed against the floor, hands shaking and pain searing through my right thumb. Before I knew what was happening, Thatch was carrying me over to the couch. Soft pillows met my back as he grabbed my thumb and held it close to his face. “Am I going to die?” I whimpered. “Because the Discovery Channel said tarantula bites feel like bee stings—they’re liars from the pit of hell!” Thatch narrowed his eyes at the puffy red mark and then slowly dropped my hand to my side. “You’ll live.” “Well, that’s encouraging. Don’t I at least get a sticker? A sucker? For saving your life?” “You?” He chuckled and joined me on the couch. “Saved my life by getting bit by a tarantula?” “Keep up!” Talking was at least distracting me from the throbbing pain. At least it had dulled a bit, though the fact that I had spider venom in my hand made me cringe. “If it bit you, you wouldn’t be able to do your job.” He seemed thoughtful. “You mean I’d finally get a vacation where I’m allowed to sleep for longer than three hours?” “Well, when you put it that way,” I grumbled, and tried to cross my arm, then hissed as pain exploded down my hand. He grabbed it again. “At least the venom is weak, it’s really just the puncture wound from the spider’s fangs that causes the swelling.” “Well, that’s disappointing on so many levels. I save your life and I don’t even get to turn into Spider-Man.” “Tough luck, maybe next time.” He winked. It was nice. Sitting with him on the couch. My legs on his lap. My eyes focused on his mouth. Abort! Abort! I quickly looked away but not fast enough—he caught me staring where I shouldn’t have been staring, and I felt like a complete loser for still lusting after him the way I was. What was it about Thatch? Other than everything? He was brilliant. Hardworking. Gorgeous. And he fought spiders on behalf of a girl he’d dumped. Damn it. “This leads nowhere,” he said in a hollow voice. “You understand that, right?” It was like he’d just handed me the world’s happiest balloon and then popped it with a giant needle. I was utterly defeated and deflated. Even though I knew going into this there was no hope of us getting back together, I’d officially turned into that sad, pathetic clinger. I’d always made fun of “those girls.” And now “that girl” stared back at me in my own stupid mirror. I let out a long sigh and nodded slowly. “This is strictly business, Thatch. You know how important this class is to me, how important getting my MBA is to me.” He looked away, his jaw clenched. “Parents still MIA for the most part?” I nodded. “And the reelection, I imagine your dad wants you to join his mayoral campaign again?” A sick feeling grew in the pit of my stomach. To my parents, I was a trophy. Something shiny and pretty they could trot out to gain votes from families who appreciated their having taken time out of their busy lives to sire a child. Granted, I knew my parents loved me. They just loved me in their own way—the only way they knew how. “I have to graduate,” I stressed again. “The job market’s fierce out there, and an MBA will help with that. The sooner I graduate, the sooner I can start my own life away from all of this.” I lifted my hands into the air. This just happened to be a mansion. A huge mansion. With three interconnected swimming pools. A tennis court. Two movie rooms. And a bowling alley. I think I’d prefer anything but this. If I could choose to live in a dump with my parents and we’d be a family or I could have a mansion and scarcely see them. I’d choose the dump every time. “I’ll do my best to help you.” He lifted my legs off his lap. “But first, we ride.” I blushed. I couldn’t help it. “You can’t do that anymore,” he whispered, his blue eyes piercing. “You can’t blush when I say things like that.” “Sorry.” He muttered a curse and walked away. I could have sworn he adjusted himself near the door, but I was too busy hiding behind the couch to fully commit to ogling him. “Where’s your bike?” he called over his shoulder before turning around. “In the garage. It’s kind of dark now, though, let’s ride tomorrow after work.” I totally said it without stuttering or blushing. “Fine.” He looked exhausted. “Don’t forget the spider.” I pointed at the bucket. “And don’t let it loose in nature. We can’t have that bastard procreating with another, smaller spider and creating zombie spider babies that take over the world.” He just stared at me like I’d lost my mind. And then shook his head as a smile played across his face. “You’re entertaining, I’ll give you that.” “I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you.” “It was meant to be one.” We froze, both of us smiling at each other. “Sleep,” I whispered. “You’ve got a busy day tomorrow.” “Yup.” He gripped the bucket in one hand; the muscles in his forearm flexed. “Take some ibuprofen and ice the spider bite. If you feel any muscle weakness or tightness in your chest, let me know and I’ll prescribe you something.” “Ah, the power of the pen.” He rolled his eyes and waved with his free hand. “See you tomorrow morning at eight, Austin.” He hesitated in the doorway. “Be sure to wear something work-appropriate.” “Oh, so you want me to wear a bike uniform?” He flipped me off and quietly shut the door against my laughter. CheatersRegret-AN

Now Available on Amazon & Free in Kindle Unlimited!

Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/6IjjiJ

Meet the Author:

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers! RVDAuthorPic

Connect with the Author:

Rachel's Rockin' Readers: http://bit.ly/RachelsRockinReaders

Review:
I have to say the subject of cheating is not my favorite to say the least, but after giving Cheater a try I knew the author would put a spin on it that would make me fall in love with the story and the characters. And bid did she! There were some twists and turns that took me by surprise but they were some oh so mind blowing make you want cry happy tears in those plot twists! There were also some be shocking secrets that I didn't see come til they smacked me in the face!
Thatch isn't your usual cheater but definitely a playboy like his best friend Lucas Thorn. Of course Austin isn't your usual push over female,oh no she knows how to get revenge and do it the right way. Yes,there's a right way...ok more like a legal way of hurting someone without actually hurting them.It was quit comical and I loved every minute of it. What's that saying..."hell hath no fury like a woman scorned".Yeah boys watch out for any women you scorn with the last name Rogers. And her bestie, Avery had no problem being her accessor. I totally loved this story,fell in love with the characters and my heart broke when theirs did.I laughed with them,cried with them, and rooted for them. I honestly didn't know if their relationship would survive with all the chaos that surrounded it. I don't want to give the ending away but I'll say I couldn't have came up with anything better!
Rachel Van Dyken is one of my favorite authors and I'm excited to see what she comes up with next! There isn't a book by her I wouldn't read and I'm sure that won't change any time soon because her books just keep getting better and better!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Blitz: Darkest Days

Darkest Days N W Harris (The Last Orphans, #4) Publication date: May 22nd 2017 Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult The ancient slave mongers who killed the adults and enslaved the children have angered a more advanced species of aliens. Composed of pure energy, this superior race has attacked the Anunnaki home world and is now setting a course for Earth. The energy-based aliens believe in a system of trial by battle. They seek to push Shane and his friends into the arena with the ones who killed their parents. The results will determine if humans deserve to live, or if they should be made extinct as well. It’s up to Shane to keep his friends—and an army of kids who look up to him—alive. They’ll be fighting not just for their own lives, but for the fate of the entire human race. Can the enemy of Shane’s enemy be his friend, or is this just another species determined to exploit and destroy them?  

GUEST POST BY N.W. HARRIS:

What would I tell a new author?
What to tell a new author, hmmm… There is so much to tell, though every writer’s journey is different. First off, I’d tell them to write for themselves. If one writes just to get published and make money, I think they’ll go mad and/or quit before they ever get close. Why? It takes years to polish one’s craft enough to be published by a creditable publisher. I think writing has to be looked at as a hobby that could become a career. A writer has to want to write because there is something that is inside them that needs to get out. Write for a creative outlet. Write like it doesn’t matter if anyone besides you ever reads it. Write almost everyday, but it is important to take days off too. Much of the education for the profession comes from practical experience. Sure, a writer draws from their experiences and traditional education. My educational background is mostly based in science, biology and anthropology, and it provides a volume of information to draw upon. But, I had to learn the craft of writing by trial and error. Every writer has to find his or her voice. That can take years, and it can only be discovered by hard work. I’d tell them to persist. It’s my favorite word. You have to write a novel. Destroy it. Rewrite it. Invest countless hours and sometimes even years. Then you have to be willing to let all that work go because it was just the classroom where you polished your craft. You have to swallow rejection after rejection and keep fighting. When you get criticism, you have to listen to it. I’m not saying a budding writer should try to oblige every critic, but growth is critical and growth comes from taking in criticism. Deal with any pain it might cause quickly, and then get into the game again by applying what you’ve learned.
 

Author Bio:

Born at the end of the Vietnam war and raised on a horse farm near small town north Georgia, his imagination evolved under the swaying pines surrounding his family’s log home. On summer days that were too hot, winter days that were too cold, and every night into the wee morning hours, he read books. He lives in sunny southern California with his beautiful wife and two perfect children.  
 
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cover Reveal: HUNTED FATE by Jennifer Derrick


COVER REVEAL TIME!

We are super excited about this third book in the Threads of the Moirae Series by Jennifer Derrick and even more thrilled now that we have a gorgeous cover. Check out the official cover reveal for Hunted Fate which is scheduled for release on July 24, 2017. After you marvel at its beauty, check out the pre-order deal and secure your copy today. If you haven't started this series, now is the time since Broken Fate is currently free!

HUNTED FATE by Jennifer Derrick

(Threads of the Moirae #3) Published by: Clean Teen Publishing Publication date: July 24, 2017 Genres: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult

PRE-ORDER FOR $3.99 on AMAZON! (More retailers coming soon.)
Alex and Atropos have taken refuge at an abandoned mountain resort. But the break won't last long. The humans and the gods are after her, and there's a war to prepare for—a war that could depose the gods once and for all. A heart-pounding romantic adventure where Greek mythology and modern-day life collide, Hunted Fate is the third book in the Threads of the Moirae series.
Grab book 1 – Broken Fate – for FREE! Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo bf

Author Bio:

Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents. Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official website:www.JenniferDerrick.com.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gideon's Promise Cover Reveal


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AMAZON | B&| iTUNES | SIGNED PAPERBACK Add on GOODREADS


Title: Gideon's PromiseSeries: Sons Of Judgment, #2Author: Airicka PhoenixGenre: Urban ParanormalRelease Date: NOW AVAILABLE!

His love will become her curse. For centuries, Gideon has kept his secret, knowing that it could mean the life of the woman whose very heartbeat was his reason for living. But when Veil Creatures are slaughtered in their homes by those sworn to protect them, it may be up to him to save those he loves from a fate worse than death. What he doesn’t expect is the betrayal and a choice that could leave his family devastated. Valkyrie Devereaux believes only in the power of justice, loyalty and obeying the laws of her people. Love was something to be feared and she had been taught long ago that anything that could make you weak, needed to be eliminated. But when she is assigned to join the Casters of the north in hunting the creatures slaughtering the innocent, even she can’t help the twang of longing for something that goes against everything she was raised to believe was wrong. Fire and gasoline, passions collide. Heat erupts as they fight against their desires and their very nature. But a fire like theirs can never be smothered. It can never be stopped. It can only burn to unimaginable heights, but what happens when it careens out of control and destroys everything around them? And who is waiting for that exact moment to destroy the brothers?  She will become his death.

AMAZON | B&N | iTUNES | SIGNED PAPERBACK Add on GOODREADS

     


BOOKS IN THE SERIES

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Airicka Phoenix is a multi-genre author of over twenty-five bestselling novels starring strong female leads and sexy alpha heroes. She started her journey after never finding the type of books she wanted to read. Her love of tortured souls and forbidden romance carried her into writing herown hard-earned happiness. Currently, she lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her babies and can be found hard at work on her next project.
For more about Airicka, visit her at airickaphoenix.com ___________ FOLLOW AIRICKA’S NEWSLETTER for updates, new releases, sneak peeks, and more.(no spamming. Promise) AIRICKA’S NEWSLETTER 
For more about Airicka and the realm she rules with an iron fist--and tons of chocolate--visit her at: AirickaPhoenix.com


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Adult Scavenger Hunt

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Hello Everyone! Hope you are excited as I am, because we have less than three weeks until the Spring 2017 New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins! Here are the Spring 2017 #NewASH teams:
TEAM BLUE
Team Blue S2017
TEAM PURPLE
Team Purple S2017 The New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins at Noon Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 26th and runs through Sunday, April 30th. For more information, visit newadultscavengerhunt.com.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bellamy and the Haunting

   




The intrigue and romance from BELLAMY AND THE BRUTE continue in a fast-paced novella that catches up with unlikely soul mates Bellamy and Tate as they embark on their new life together. BELLAMY AND THE HAUNTING by Alicia Michaels releases on April 15, 2017! Check out this cover reveal below, then go pre-order your copy today for only $2.99 at most retailers!
Pre-Order Today! AMAZON / NOOK / iBOOKS / KOBO / GOOGLE PLAY
Praise for Bellamy & the Brute
Bellamy and the Brute is no Disney fairy tale! Alicia Michaels has woven in murder, mystery, and ghosts in her haunting twist on Beauty and the Beast. – Amazon Reviewer Bellamy and the Brute puts a great new spin on an old fairy tale! I was unable to put the book down once I started reading, as I was pulled into a world of mystery and intrigue that kept me turning the pages! – Amazon Reviewer

READ BELLAMY AND THE BRUTE TODAY!

AMAZON / BARNES & NOBLE / iBOOKS / KOBO / GOOGLE PLAY

$4.99 (e-book) / As low as $7.18 (print)
A fresh twist on the classic story of Beauty and the Beast, Bellamy and the Brute proves true love really is blind. Rumors swirl about Baldwin House, the mysterious mansion on the hill. People say a monster lives there. But Bellamy needs the money, so she takes the job...

ABOUT ALICIA MICHAELS:


Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. With several Fantasy and Science Fiction titles under her belt, Alicia strives to write multicultural characters and stories that touch the heart. V-Card, the first book of the Sharing Spaces series, was her first Contemporary Romance.
The mother of three and wife to a soldier, she loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.

LIFT 2017 Launch Blitz

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LIFT 4 Autism Online Auction: Monday, April 24 - Friday, April 28
Autism. A mystery to some. A way of life for others. A cause for all since it is now the fastest growing and most common disability in the US. 1 in every 68 children are diagnosed with Autism. Many of these kids will rely on their parents to some degree, depending on severity, all their lives, with estimated costs between 5 to 7 million dollars in services and care over their lifetime. Many of the services those living with Autism require are not covered by insurance. It is an expensive and difficult lifelong diagnosis to navigate. Authors Ginger Scott and Kennedy Ryan started LIFT 4 Autism a few years ago as a charitable initiative rallying the romance reading community in April, which is Autism Awareness/Acceptance month. All proceeds go to this year’s charitable partner Kulture City, who is doing amazing things for Autism families. Discover more about them at kulturecity.org. Specifically, LIFT will benefit Kulture City’s lifeBOKS program, which provides families with free kits to curtail wandering, a common and potentially life threatening challenge. Proceeds will also benefit Kulture City’s tablet program, which provides iPads to improve communication for non and limited verbal children on the spectrum to families who cannot afford them. HOW WILL WE RAISE FUNDS?
  1. Online Auction, featuring many of your favorite romance authors!
Find the full list here: http://lift4autism.com/contact. If you are an author and want to donate, sign up here. Browse all the amazing items up for bid here: charityauction.bid/lift4autism The auction will be LIVE and open for bidding Monday, April 24 - Friday, April 28.  
  1. 1-Click the YA Fantasy Anthology Ever In the After for 99¢
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Amazon: http://buff.ly/2kM0D2j
Nook: http://buff.ly/2kM83SX
iBooks: http://buff.ly/2kLTS0j
Kobo: http://buff.ly/2kM2J2f
*All proceeds go to LIFT 4 Autism!  
  1. Buy LIFT Wear! (t-shirts, mugs, totes, etc...)
https://teespring.com/Lift2017 LFIT 2017 t-shirt
  1. Make a financial donation through the LIFT Campaign.
DONATE here: https://www.kulturecity.org/lovewithoutwords/lift-4-autism/#lwow-donate  

Don’t miss a thing this month!

*Subscribe to the LIFT mailing list at lift4autism.com.
*Follow us on Instagram:
*Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LIFT4Autism

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beauty of the Beast


Beauty of the Beast

by Rachel L. Demeter Fairy Tale Retellings, #1 Publication Date: March 15, 2017 Genres: Historical Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling, Gothic Romance, Adult

🌹 Special $2.99 sale price through March 19th 🌹


🌹 Buy 🌹

🌹 Book Blurb 🌹

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist. A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago. A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more… Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice. Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist. Disclaimer: This is an edgy retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

🎬 Book Trailer 🎬

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Isabelle bravely takes her papa’s place ~

Quite a while later, as Isabelle relaxed and soaked in the hearth’s warmth, she found herself nodding off to sleep. Her mind detached from the stress of the past few days and receded to another time and place. She recalled her journeys with Papa when she’d been little more than a girl. All the villages they’d passed through; all the faces they’d seen. She thought of reading fairy tales beneath a bejeweled sky, of leaning against a mountain of crates as Papa pointed out the constellations and their eternal stories— Rattling seized her attention and ruptured her thoughts. She peered at Papa, who was carefully examining his teacup. Not with his sightless eyes, of course—but with wandering fingertips. The same impressive coat of arms engraved the fine proclaim; Papa ran his weathered fingers over its surface, clearly in awe of the raised gold decorations and studded gems. The thing must have cost a small fortune. Indeed, she’d never beheld such finery. Even the wares Papa had once sold paled in comparison. The faded brim of his top hat hung low and covered his glassy eyes. Then her mouth went dry as he slipped the teacup inside his coat. Has he gone mad—or simply grown that desperate? It was completely unlike Papa to steal. How could he—and after being shown hospitality? Her outcry startled him. He half leapt from the chair—and Isabelle watched in horror as the teacup tumbled out from the coat. It rattled and rolled onto the stone ground, shattering into a million pieces. A gloved hand broke through the darkness, quicker than a lightning strike. The hooded figure emerged from the shadows and seized Papa by his cravat. His other hand clasped a branch of flickering candles. The illumination flashed across the dark folds of his cloak, soaking him in a pool of light. “Stealing from me, are you? Breaking my family’s keepsakes?” A sharp jerk forced Papa to his feet. The rough movement sent the top hat tumbling from his head and onto the stone floor. Papa’s waxen features melted into an expression of horror and confusion. Her heart pounding, Isabelle lunged forward and frantically cried out, “Let him alone! It was an accident. Don’t you see that you’re frightening him?” “Good.” The simple declaration threw Isabelle into stunned silence. Papa called out for her as the man strode from the sitting room, his solid legs eating up the ground in swift, decisive strides. Mon Dieu, he was physically dragging Papa through the castle. This isn’t happening. It cannot be… “Stop it! Stop it now—you monster!” Isabelle picked up her skirts and frantically chased after them. Parts of the castle were dark and unkempt, causing her to trip several times over wayward pieces of furniture. Her heart violently pounded in her ears. The man moved impressively fast; between his agile stride and sweeping cloak, he almost appeared to float through the corridors. Plopping onto the stone floor, his dog gave up trying to keep pace. Dust motes rose and fell in midair like ashes, obscuring her vision. She followed the branch’s illumination, watching as the candlelight threw prisms along the walls and floor. “Please, monsieur. Have mercy, I beg you! He didn’t know any better. He's not in his right mind. He would never—” “No one steals from me.” His low voice echoed in the darkness, steady as a war drum. Isabelle felt herself descending. She ducked as she crossed a low archway, where she was met with a steep flight of stairs. A mouth into Hell. The ceiling lurked unusually low and was strung with cobwebs. Isabelle hiked up her skirts, which were now a filthy mess, and raced down the decayed steps. The hooded figure kept a swift pace while she desperately pursued Papa’s frightened cries. Plagued by the darkness, Isabelle tripped and crashed down the stone steps. Pain cascaded through her body, knocking the breath from her lungs. Her skinned knees and elbows throbbed, her heart pounded, her head burned. She spared a moment to catch her breath as she struggled to her feet and resumed her vain quest. Papa’s muffled pleas and the sound of slamming bars ripped at her very soul. The dank dungeon was nearly black. She slowed her pace, moving toward a beam of light at the far end. Rats the size of kittens scurried across the stone floor and filled the darkness with their terrible squeaking. Her heart thudding, Isabelle rushed through the maze of cells, following Papa’s voice and that flickering light. Chains and crude-looking objects littered the ground—torture devices from a past age, she realized with a shudder. She found them. Papa was grasping the rusted bars; disoriented and frightened, he was murmuring incoherent pleas. Tears fell from his sightless eyes, though Isabelle knew he fought to restrain them. The branch of candles sat in front of the cell, its wavering light illuminating his terrified expression. “Forgive me. I have wronged you when you showed my daughter and me hospitality and mercy. Please, monsieur!” The man towered before him, silent and still. His long arms remaining crossed, he stood with his lean torso straighter than a broadsword. His hood was drawn back, though Isabelle couldn’t see his face from her angle. “Papa, I’m here,” she said beneath the weight of a strained breath. “I-Isabelle?” Not sparing a moment, she dashed over to the cell—and the man slowly rotated into sight. Except he resembled more of a beast than any man she’d ever seen. Isabelle clamped both hands over her mouth and forced her eyes away. The sight burned—and the inferno in his gaze only kindled that fire. Half of his face looked monstrously twisted; charred mounds of puckered flesh distorted the features beyond any recognition, draining him of all traces of humanity. Those heaps of burned, leather-like skin gleamed and glistened in the candlelight. His hairline receded on the left side of his face and slanted high above a shriveled ear. Under the severe scarring, his age was more or less indistinguishable—though Isabelle guessed he wasn’t a day under thirty-five. But his eyes were breathtaking. Two brilliant sapphires. There was also a great sadness and anger in those eyes, as if he’d suffered more than his share of original sin. Alas, as she gazed into his eyes, all she saw was blue ice—an endless, arctic landscape of cold desolation. The man turned away, appearing greatly affected by her stare, and hastily rearranged the hood. His scarred hands trembled as he smoothed down the cloak’s thick folds. “Release him,” she demanded. “He didn’t mean any harm. I—” “No one meddles with my family’s possessions. He can rot down here as my prisoner. He ought to count himself fortunate that I haven’t taken his hand.” “Your prisoner? This... this is a mistake! You must believe me. He’d never—” A deep, husky chuckle cut through her plea. “Even so.” “Please. Just let him out.” “It’s too late for that.” Those words seemed to speak volumes. He exhaled a long breath, and Isabelle watched as it unfurled against the darkness in a cloud. Silence. “Why... why are you so angry? Why must you be so hateful? So cruel?” “If I let him go,” he said at length, “what can you offer in return?” Isabelle couldn’t find her tongue. She wandered directly in front of the cell, almost in a lucid trance, and clasped the cold bars. Papa was huddled in the corner now, coughing and shivering. Guilt, unlike anything she’d known before, pulsated through her. I’m to blame for this. And if Papa stays here, he’ll die well within a fortnight, likely much sooner… “Get out of my sight.” The man’s voice jarred Isabelle from her inward stupor. She turned to him and stepped forward, raising her chin at a defiant angle. I am not so easily broken or frightened. I am a survivor. She scanned her empty, dank surroundings: the cold stone walls, sweeping cobwebs, and blazing branch of candles. Despair encased her. Stark emptiness. She dared to step closer while a faint trace of pity bloomed inside her heart. They stood centimeters apart. Heat radiated from the man’s body, surrounding her, immersing her. Isabelle vainly searched for softness him, but only a dark, embittered spirit reached her. She stared up at his towering frame and gestured for him to bow forward. He hesitated, then did as she commanded. Her hands shook, damn her, as she peeled back his hood and met that piercing gaze again. Half of his face was handsome—devastatingly so. In her twenty-two years of life, she’d never beheld such haunting beauty. Jet‑black waves, rich and flowing, framed the chiseled lines of his startling features. Stubble peppered the strong curve of his jawline and shadowed a smooth, sculpted cheekbone. The right side of his face was striking, beautiful—a stark contrast to its wrecked counterpart. And within those patrician angles and intense eyes, she encountered his humanity. His was a face of inconsistencies. Complex. Damaged. Predatory. And more than a bit intriguing. “I will stay with you,” she heard herself whisper. “In my father’s place.” “Isabelle—no! I forbid it!” The man folded long, strong arms across his broad chest. His gaze crawled down her face and settled on the rise of her breasts—planting directly on her silver cross. “I demand he’s seen by the finest of physicians.” “Isabelle! Listen to me! I’m an old man. I’m dying. I—” The man’s dark, strangely erotic voice cut through the cellar, and his eyes whipped back to her own with a startling force. “As my mistress.” “What?” “You must stay here as my mistress. For as long as I demand. Perhaps forever.” Forever. The word rang with a note of finality. “Please, Isabelle! I beg you. Don’t do this!” How could I endure it? “Do as I say and your father shall safely return home.” He waved his cloaked arms with a magician’s delicate grace. “Your father—whatever family you may have—shall want for nothing. A house, clothing, anything they require. You only need to say the word. Your father will be under my protection—under the care of nurses and physicians—until his last breath.” Isabelle briefly recalled what—and who—was waiting for her back in Ruillé. This fate wouldn’t be much worse. This desolate castle could serve as the perfect hideout. Papa would live in France, free from Raphael’s clutches and in the hands of the world’s greatest physicians… “How... how can I trust you?” And does he even have the wealth to uphold such a promise? “You cannot.” She had faith Papa would send help once his health recovered. Or she’d find a way out, means of escape. In the interim, she would survive this grim castle and whatever horrors it concealed. Papa would not. The castle would crush him beneath its dark heel in a matter of days. Isabelle glanced at Papa again, then stared into the man’s brilliant eyes. There, lurking within those expressive depths, she found the softness she’d pursued minutes before. She sucked in her breath and nodded her agreement. “It is done.” The man swept backward. “He’s to remain down here till first light. Then our agreement shall be carried out. In the meantime, I will bring blankets and food—” “But it’s so cold! He—” “Stole from me while he was a guest in my castle.” He would not compromise. That much was certain. “I demand to stay with him.” “As you please.” He unlocked the cell. “Beyond the dungeon lies a labyrinth. Try to escape, and you’ll be lost forever.” He tapped the wall with his booted heel. It swiveled, spun, and rotated, sweeping her captor to the other side...

🌹 Excerpt 🌹

~ Adam gives Isabelle his library ~

“Close your eyes, ma belle.” Strong hands cupped either side of her face. She felt as Adam’s thumbs tentatively brushed back and forth, stroking her cheeks in reverent caresses. Isabelle shut her eyes and slipped beneath his spell... leaned closer in the darkness until they stood heartbeat to heartbeat. The warmth of his breaths teased her hairline, bringing with them a minty scent. His thumbs descended to just below her chin. She lowered her face... felt a featherlight kiss land on her brow. It happened so subtly and gently—Isabelle wasn’t sure whether she’d imagined it. She was allowing herself to feel too much. A stab of guilt penetrated her chest as her thoughts crept inward. Yet instincts told her to trust in her gut—to allow her heart to speak over her tumultuous thoughts. So she shoved away her guilt and allowed herself to simply feel. Pounding footfalls echoed in the room, attesting to its sheer size. Isabelle waited in anticipation under the veil of darkness, her small hands knotted in Stranger’s wiry coat. The steady beat of Adam’s boots floated away from her. A loud whipping noise and a burst of light illuminated the room as he tugged a heavy damask curtain aside. “Open your eyes, Isabelle.” She did as he commanded. Shafts of sunlight tore inside, dancing across the marble floor in blaring prisms—though the darkness still obstructed the room’s contents. Isabelle’s imagination soared as she fantasized about what lay in those clotted shadows. Pale light fringed Adam’s formidable shape, contrasting his silhouette against the dim atmosphere. He paused in front of the opened window and folded both arms behind his ramrod-straight back. Isabelle gazed at the line of his body, unable to tear her eyes away. Indeed, light from the window set him aglow, shrouding him in a cloak of gold. He wore black trousers and a white silk shirt, which fluttered lightly when he moved. Over the past several days, he’d made a habit of abandoning the cloak and hood. Isabelle had become accustomed to the mismatched sides of his face; where she once felt horror and revulsion, she now tingled with curiosity and budding admiration. Alas, the only true revulsion that remained was the memory of that night… Adam was an undeniably prideful man, and she knew he’d only scorn her pity. Even his stance exuded a sense of importance and authority. Strange, how he was so often shy and almost childlike; then, as if by a flip of a coin, he’d turn regal, confident. It was as though he was battling two separate halves... as if an intricate part of himself kept fighting to emerge. Not unlike the two contrasting sides of his face, Isabelle mused. For a suspended moment, he stood in front of the conservatory window, his scarred hands planted on his lean hips as he surveyed the distant gardens. Then he crossed the room, his footfalls amplified by the medallion flooring, and thrust open another curtain. Whoosh. Light flooded the space and chased away the shadows, and the room’s contents were ushered into view. Isabelle nearly lost her breath at the sight. It was a beautiful library—the most stunning sight she’d ever beheld. Ornate, intricately carved shelves towered against the painted walls and reached for a gilded ceiling. A baroque chandelier hung in the heart of the room; its crystals sparkled like diamonds as they drank in morning’s light. Isabelle fought to temper her racing heart as she gaped at the sweeping shelves. An intimate reading nook lined a curved window; lush pillows decorated the chaise, and a brass candelabra towered beside it. In all her life, she’d never seen so many books. There were far too many to count. Too many books to read in one lifetime. Isabelle couldn’t help but think of the little storekeeper from Ruillé’s bookshop; she imagined his astonishment, how his bushy white brows would rise at the sight of Adam’s vast library. He’d run his wrinkled fingertips over the bindings and spines, reverently caressing each one. Her heart twisted with nostalgia at the thought of her former home. Once Raphael had entered her life, however, Ruillé had transformed into a prison. This castle should have been just that. A jail cell. Yet she’d never felt more free than in that moment. The library was larger than her whole cottage; several book-filled rooms connected to it, each one built with floor-to-ceiling shelves. Three sliding ladders were nestled against the circular walls, soaring to the very top of the domed ceiling. She spun on her heels, twirling in place—watching as the immense collection flurried by in a fantastic mosaic of colorful spines and intricate woodwork. Her eyes planted on Adam, who stood in front of the large row of glowing, arched windows. His arms were still folded behind his body, his sleek back straighter than an arrow. She couldn’t find her voice, couldn’t move forward, although she ached to reach out and embrace his solid body. How would it feel to be enveloped inside that commanding strength? A devastating smile spread across his misshapen features and cut her thought short. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, which was highlighted by the sun’s rays, and then hesitantly strode toward her. His boots rapped against the floor, and the sound swelled through the library. Stranger barked as he approached, the loud noise echoing in the room and jarring Isabelle from her trance. “Do... do you like it?” Finally he stood before her, silent and still. Isabelle inhaled a long breath, then laid her palm on the left side of his face. Her fingertips danced over the raised ridges and welts, the reddish scars and shriveled ear. His eyes shuttered closed, and she felt a shudder rake through his tense body. “Yes. I love it.” And I'm starting to fall in love with you, too...  

🌹 Meet the Author 🌹

Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of fourteen years. She enjoys writing poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love. Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul. Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness. Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words. Don’t be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers:

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