With haunting prose and deft psychological insight, Averil Dean spins a chilling story that explores the dark corners of obsession–love, pain and revenge.
Ten years ago, someone ruined Alice Croft's life. Now she has a chance to right that wrong–and she thinks she's found the perfect man to carry out her plan. After watching him for weeks, she breaks into Jack Calabrese's house to collect the evidence that will confirm her hopes. When Jack comes home unexpectedly, Alice hides in the closet, fearing for her life. But upon finding her, Jack is strangely calm, solicitous . . . and intrigued.
That night is the start of a dark and intense attraction, and soon Alice finds herself drawn into a labyrinth of terrifying surrender to a man who is more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. As their relationship spirals toward a breaking point, Alice begins to see just how deep Jack's secrets run–and how deadly they could be.
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
This book was dark! Much darker than I expected and I had to
put the book down because of the strong emotions I felt as I read it. The
author has an obvious talent for writing erotic thrillers that will hook you
from the very beginning.
There are no heroes and heroines in Alice Close Your
Eyes—the novel is made up of f*cked up individuals who are damaged and mentally
unstable. Alice may have been the worse of them all and readers are likely to
find her an unreliable narrative. I liked reading her chaotic thoughts; it made
me uncertain over what direction the book was heading.
Alice has major issues, including serious criminal
tendencies, but Jack was harder to read. He’s violent, possessive and at times,
a sadist. Although the author gives readers a deep psychological analysis on
Alice, I wanted to know more about Jack and his past to understand his
behaviors. The sex is violent and disturbing and I have to give the author
kudos for not shying away from the raw honesty of Alice’s emotions during the
The plot gripped me and although I’ve been in a bit of a
reading rut, I found myself eager to finish the book as swiftly as possible.
The mysteries surrounding Alice and her connection to Jack are revealed
gradually and I loved the slow build of the suspenseful elements.
The ending is a bit of a mind f*ck and I’m not sure how I
feel about it. However, the more I stew on it, I feel like the author did end
things in a satisfactory manner. I can’t imagine any other conclusion to
Alice’s revenge scheme.
If you’re a fan of books like Gone Girl and Consequences,
then you should add this to your TBR pile. I anticipate this to create a lot of
buzz when it’s released next month.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!
The following is a guest post from Nikolas Baron on behalf of Grammarly.
A few lines of a dust jacket impel you to read a novel or place it back on the shelf. Book reviews are even more powerful because many readers already have an interest in the featured book. Your review is the weight that tips the scales in favor of reading a book or moving on to the next possibility. Do not fight the power! A successful book review contains a titillating review and an honest critique. The following six tips demonstrate how to write a book review that is equal to its task.
Go for the Extreme!
The best selections for a book review are extreme in some feature. If the plot is pitifully slow or artfully crafted, one easily draws attention to its flaws and qualities. If the ending is predictable as a sunset or as unforeseeable as a flash flood, the readers want to know. The choice of an author is also important. A controversial author attracts more interest than an unknown scribe.
Read the Whole Shebang
Once you have selected a provocative publication, read it from cover to cover. The book jacket provides a synopsis that you can echo in your review. The introduction, or preface, contains valuable background information about the writing and the author. By reading the entire book and taking notes, you have an opportunity to note the principal themes and outstanding quotes. Your review will stand out as thorough and comprehensive.
Summarize, Don’t Plagiarize
Reading other critiques offers inspiration, but be careful not to plagiarize. The same caution applies to quoting from the work of literature. Use quotes judiciously. There is a useful plagiarism checker online. Using this device ensures that your work is viewed as original.
As a reviewer, your mission is to discuss the merits and the faults of the literature. To do this, briefly describe the plot. Rarely, however, does a book review contain more than 1500 words. Keep it short and simple! Also, be careful not to give away too many details of the plot. Do not reveal surprising plot twists. Read professional reviews of books to see how the experts accomplish this task.
It’s Okay to Hate When You Evaluate
Be honest. Do not be afraid to criticize. If you support your remarks with evidence from the writing, you demonstrate that your comments are not mere negativity. Some writers find this candid feedback useful to improve their next foray into writing. Your readers will respect a review that tells it like it is.
Proofread with the Shoe on the Other Foot
Think about the targeted reader base for the publication that you are evaluating. Ensure that your review appeals to the potential readers. An overly cerebral or simplistic review will turn off even the hardiest of bookworms. Remember to read the entire novel. Discern the genre and target demographic. Then, write with this reader in mind. Ask, what type of review would appeal to fiction readers? How should I present information to industry experts? Will teenagers want to read this review?
Why does a dull book deserve a grabbing review? It is your job to warn the readers! As for an amazing book, how will the readers find out its value unless your review reveals its worth? Choose among the extremes. Take time to read the entire novel to discern themes. However, leave some mystery in the plot and conclusion so that people desire to read the novels that you recommend. Be honest and speak with your heart. Write with the target demographic in mind. There is a solemn responsibility in writing book reviews. A great deal of power lies in your hands. Use your power for good and write a reliable and honest book review.
mysterious virus makes its way into the United States, the government demands
that states seal themselves off from one another and do their best to protect
their surviving residents. When the state of Florida is bordered off from the
surrounding states, Taylen Fincher, a seventeen-year-old girl with a yearning
for her former life finds herself wondering how much of what they’ve been told
When Troum took control of the state, he told the residents that the other
states had fallen to the virus and that he wouldn’t allow the same thing to
happen to them. But Taylen doesn’t believe it. She insists that there is still
life outside of the state, and she is going to do whatever it takes to prove
it… but her actions will cost her more than she ever expected.
Troum kidnaps Taylen’s sister, Penelope, in hopes of coaxing her into behaving
– into being a submissive resident, much like the others. But Taylen isn’t one
to give in that easily.
Eager to rescue her sister, Taylen will set out on an adventure that’ll force
her to open her heart to the unexpected and to uncover secrets that will change
SUBMERGED is the first book in a YA dystopian duology.
Available from: (only $.99!)
About the Author
Nicole Sobon is the
author of the Emile Reed Chronicles, Capture, No Place Like Home, and various
2 signed copies
of Submerged in paperback plus swag (Program 13 and Deprogrammed bookmarks) (INT)
wrong, princess? You couldn’t stand to be away from me?” He winked.
aware that I have a knife in my pocket, correct?” I reminded him. “I’d be more
than happy to use it if you’re going to continue being a jerk-face.”
into laughter, his body vibrating the mattress. “Anyway, back to what I was
saying.” He ran his fingers along my spine. Goosebumps developed over my body,
alerting me of just how close he was. “We have to locate Troum’s headquarters.
If we find his headquarters, we’ll find Penelope.”
easy enough, but nothing was ever that simple.
I lay down
beside Glate and closed my eyes. I thought that escaping the Family Sector
would bring me a sense of happiness, but it didn’t. It only brought me more
pain. Lex and his men were still searching for me, and I’d yet to rescue
Penelope. Nothing was going as planned. I should have had Penelope by now. I
should have been half way out of this state, not curled up on a mattress with a
boy that I hardly knew.
to say that I didn’t enjoy Glate’s presence because I did. He was the comfort
that I needed; the only thing keeping me sane throughout the chaos. It wouldn’t
be hard to fall for Glate, hell, it’d be easy, and that frightened me.
though I wouldn’t admit it, I was still heartbroken over Lex. He was the boy
that I had grown up with. He was my best friend. He was someone that I thought
would always be there, someone that I could start a life with, and then he
And it was
his betrayal that led me to Glate.
close to him, with his body pressed against mine, it felt wrong; wrong because
I barely knew him, wrong because he wasn’t Lex, and wrong because I didn’t want
him to leave.
What is wrong with me? I thought.
Glate whispered, wrapping his arm around my waist. “Are you okay?”
okay? No. I was a complete and utter wreck, but there was no way in hell I was
going to show him that. “I’m dandy.”
terrible liar.” He propped himself up on his elbow, and leaned in closer,
resting his chin on my shoulder. My body was well aware of how close he was,
and it took everything in me to fight the urge to turn and face him. Teenage
hormones were the absolute worst. “You know how I can tell?” he asked, running
a single finger down my arm.
word barely escaped my lips.
voice trembles,” he whispered.Glate moved his hand to my hips and pulled me back towards him.
“Whenever you lie, you get this slight tremble in your voice. It’s almost as if
you’re scared to admit the truth, so you try to conjure up a lie, but the fear
engulfs your words on the way out, calling your bluff.”
his lips against my neck, and my body quivered, welcoming the feel of his mouth
against my skin.
thing to do would have been to move away, to tell Glate that this wasn’t right
because it wasn’t right. I was
supposed to be rescuing my sister, not getting it on with the first cute guy I
met outside of our Sector. But every cell in my body was eager for his touch.
Blurb: At fifteen, Anaii is the most important member of her tribe—and the most mysterious. Ever since Anaii can remember, the spirits of the wind have whispered of fertile hunting grounds and imminent enemy attacks. But when her people are ambushed by a brother clan without any apparent cause, the spirits remain eerily silent.
As the village prepares to retaliate, Anaii is pressured by her best friend, Elan, to marry him. It’s an old plea—Elan has spent a lifetime loving her, but Anaii only sees a childhood playmate out of an imposing warrior. Stifled by Elan’s insistence, Anaii escapes into the forest where she meets Jayttin, the beautiful son of the enemy chief.
Enamored by Jayttin’s carefree spirit and hope for peace, she repeatedly sneaks away to be with him, but when her deception is discovered, Elan is devastated. Pledging his lifelong affection, Elan gives her a passionate kiss, and Anaii begins to see her friend in a new light.
While Anaii is tormented over which man she must choose, the wind whispers of a new threat that could destroy both tribes. Only a union will afford a chance at survival, but the reality of that union is based on one thing—which man Anaii chooses to die.
Krista Holle is an award winning author who stepped up her
writing after reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight
series.It occurred to Krista that
there is an insatiable audience of women and girls who want to read books
filled with stories about true love—not just vampires.When Krista is not writing, she loves
to collect seashells, watch movies, and eat obscene amounts of pizza.Krista currently resides in Montpelier,
Virginia with her husband, four daughters and an eccentric cat with a weird attachment
to the family’s socks.
I looked around cautiouslybefore freezing at the sketchy outline of a muscular man
partially hidden in the grass. A man! He was sprawled
on his back and golden pink from too many hours in the sun. My heart
pounded to see the unfamiliar pattern of a deer on his breechcloth. I had
marched myself directly into the reach of a Zennite warrior!
I gingerly took a step backwards, but to my horror, the
man’s black eyes fluttered open. I turned and hurled myself back across
the meadow, just as the man shot up and flew after me like a predatory
bird. My muscles burned and strained to lengthen the space between us,
but getting away was hopeless. I was not a challenge to even the young
boys in the foot races.
After a few powerful strides, the warrior tackled me to the
ground, painfully grazing the skin on my cheek. I wheezed a few times
before my lungs filled with air.
“A Chippoke?” he asked between breaths.
I feverishly punched and kicked to free myself.
“Stop! I’m not going to hurt you,” the warrior chuckled as
he struggled to pin my arms and legs. His voice was calm and pleasant,
but lying was no different than breathing to a Zennite.
“I cannot promise the same,” I wheezed as I fought.
“You’re a bobcat,” he said with a laugh. “A bobcat
with no teeth or claws.”
“Let me go!”
“I will when you’re calm.”
Strong hands held my wrists while his full weight pinned my
torso against the earth. Fighting him was as useless as running.
“You are not a boy,” I spat angrily, fully taking in my attacker. It was
little comfort that he didn’t look like a bloodthirsty
killer. He was admittedly handsome with an angular face and sleek
black hair that hung well past his shoulders. He was not as
tall as Elan, but his muscles were narrow and built for speed. There was
something different about his eyes too. They were as black as soot—very
unlike the brown woodsy colors from our tribe.
The warrior smirked down at me. “My mother will be
very surprised to hear that. All this time she’s assumed…”
My face heated, but I fiercely met his gaze. The
Zenni were like wild dogs and pumas—they could smell emotions. “What I meant
was, you are a man, not a boy.”
“Oh, I see, but you must understand, I’m not a man
“You must understand I’m a squirrel!Get off!You’re hurting me!” I ordered with a useless heave.
“No,” he said with a smirk.
It was then I realized I might die—right after I was
lulled into a false sense of security. My chest pounded as I searched for
the killer’s weapon. “Are you going to kill me?”
“I do not feel like killing you just yet,” he said
as his long hair swirled in my face. Were we to play a
game before he killed me?
“I am glad the mood doesn’t strike you,” I snarled.
The warrior studied me with a drawn brow. Was he guessing that I was the
forest witch? I didn’t think I looked like a witch, but I wasn’t certain
what one should look like—evil at least.
“I don’t understand something,” the warrior said.
“Your eyes are blue—the blue of an angry sky. Are you the daughter of a
“Yes,” I said, heaving against his weight again. “Now
get off me, or my father Achak will strike you dead with lightening.”
Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O'Connor, popular NFL running back.
On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she's not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine…Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.
Publication Date: October 21, 2013
I liked Running Back and was glad to see some of my favorite
characters back from Rush Me, but overall I didn’t love the story as much as
the first book. It wasn’t a bad read, but the lack of football and lackluster
male lead didn’t leave me eager for more.
The one thing I liked much better in this novel than the
previous book was the main character. Natalie was very likable, albeit
insecure, but I found she had a lot of depth. I liked her attempts at stepping
out of her parents’ shadows and her passion for archaeology. I wanted her to
stand up more for herself, but she was very compassionate and loyal.
Mike was just an okay character for me. His mood swings were
ridiculous and I didn’t like how he treated Natalie for most of the book. When
his reasons for blocking her excavation are revealed, he still didn’t win me
over. The secondary characters, especially his family, were intriguing and the
family dynamics added a lot of tension to the book.
The writing is good and I did love the author’s descriptions
of Ireland. After reading the novel I was researching Ireland vacations online.
She really brought the country alive and I liked the local folklore aspect. The
pacing was well done as well. I didn’t feel like any parts dragged and the
romance developed naturally. I like this series because each book can be enjoyed
as a standalone novel.
I’d definitely recommend the series to fans of contemporary
novels. Running Back had less of a sports angle, but it was still a romantic
book and I will pick up future novels from the author.
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!
They weigh you down. I’ve kept a secret all my life. It’s my mother’s secret, too. I inherited it from her along with a unique ability that only we possess. She’s gone now, another victim of addiction. If her death isn’t enough to bring me to my knees, her betrayal flays me to the bone. Because the secret my mother and I have been keeping is just one of many she’d kept. She never told me I have an older brother. And now he’s here, eager to be my guardian.
There is no one else. So I move across the country to live with this stranger, my brother. But experience has taught me that most situations are temporary and forming attachments only leads to hurt in the end. That’s why I’m determined to keep to myself in this new place, struggling to seem aloof while I’m quietly breaking apart.
Then I meet Lucas…
His magnetism is hard to resist, and most girls at school aren’t resisting. I don’t fall so easily though, especially not for guys who use their good looks as a weapon. From the start, our interactions are tense and volatile. I know it’s because I’m denying the unwelcome desire that grips me when he’s near. I think he feels it, too. He looks at me with an intensity that threatens to unhinge my resolve. Soon he’s trying to break through the walls that past hurts have built. But I’m not what I appear to be, and it wouldn’t be fair to get involved with him. At least that’s what I tell myself. Until a terrible act of violence reveals that Lucas has a secret, too. It’s a secret that links us together and ties us to an evil history I could never have imagined. Publication Date: September 25, 2013
Keep You From Harm had a very good beginning and end, but
hit a bit of a lull in the middle. Overall, I liked the story and with the
cliffhanger ending, readers will be eager for more.
Keep You From Harm blends several different elements and I
felt like the mesh of genres kept the story interesting. It’s part mystery,
part paranormal romance and part YA contemporary romance. The book hooks you
from the beginning with the murder of Raielle’s mother.
I didn’t fully connect with Raielle at first, but she grew
on me as I sympathized with her uncertainty living with a brother she never
knew she had. I did roll my eyes several times when every guy within a couple
of seconds of meeting her falls for her. However, I liked her individualism and
Lucas was a good romantic lead: he’s handsome, intriguing
and has secrets of his own. I liked his relationship with Raielle and he says
some very sweet things to her that will have readers swooning. The secondary
characters were fully developed too and I liked the new friendships Raielle
made as a result of switching schools.
The pacing was a mixed bag and I think the main reason was
the beginning was so good. I skimmed portions of the middle as Raielle deals
with high school and boy drama. I was happy to see the book get back on track by
the final third of the novel. I’d be curious to see what will happen next for
Raielle in the sequels.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Thanks to the author for a copy of this novel for review!
For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.
When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.
Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you? Red Hill grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go until its stunning conclusion. This is #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire at her unforgettable best. Publication Date: October 1, 2013
As far as zombie novels, I’ve read a few clunkers lately and
I was glad Red Hill didn’t fall into that category. There were some very creepy
scenes and I loved that the author chose to focus on the human element and the
changes in people, both good and bad, when faced with the end of the world.
Red Hill had a weaker beginning and end with a super strong
middle. The zombie outbreak happened way too fast for believability and wasn’t
fully fleshed out. I also would’ve liked more characterization with Scarlet.
Since the driving force behind her storyline is finding her daughters, I
would’ve preferred to see more of their relationship to fully invest in her
Once the main characters headed towards Red Hill, the story
really took off. It was told in three POVS (more than two I normally find
unnecessary) but it worked for this book, especially when the lives of the
characters intersected. There were a few scenes where I almost wanted to put
the book down because the tension was almost too much to take. I became
invested in the characters fully and my heart broke when some of them lost
their lives. The author’s descriptive writing was able to draw me into the
story and I squirmed as I read the portions about the zombie attacks.
The ending wasn’t my favorite and I actually started to
dislike many of the characters once the storylines merged. Between a love
triangle and a case of insta-love, I was a little put off. I wished the
epilogue were cut out altogether. Without posting spoilers, I just felt like it was too
far-fetched and cheesy. I’m actually wondering if I’m beginning to dislike
epilogues altogether since I felt the same way at the end of Walking Disaster.
Despite a few issues with the storyline, I still enjoyed the
book. It was the perfect Halloween read and it was cool to see the author try
her hand at a completely new genre.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novel for review!
The entire Second Sight collection is coming soon to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all eBook stores as a boxed set! Buy all four books in the series for one low price: $6.99! Available online on November 26.
The Second Sight
series is now available as a boxed set! Read the entire collection featuring
quirky psychic Kate Edwards and the devastatingly handsome Detective Jared
Second Sight: The
Complete Collection includes the four books in the Amazon bestselling
The Final Omen
Praise for the Second
"The pacing of this book was phenomenal. This is
just a fantastic read. I can't wait for more. I honestly can't praise this
enough." -Read Between the Lines
"I really loved this story! I've been waiting for a
book like this to read, and this was just wonderful." -For the Love of
Film and Novels
"A total must read for all suspense and supernatural romance
fans." -My Cozie Corner
"This is a great choice if you are looking for a quick
fun read that can and will also get your heart pounding with suspense. Wood did
another amazing job at writing a novel with the perfect amount of a little bit
of everything, including romance, suspense, psychic powers, and great
characters." -It's a Book's Life
Two years ago, 21-year-old Kate Edwards became deathly ill
and slipped into a coma. While unconscious, she crept into the mind of a
missing boy and awoke with the knowledge of his location.
Now another child has been abducted. Police detective Jared
Corbett seeks out Kate for her help in solving the case. With visions she can't
control and an uncontrollable attraction to the detective, she wonders if she
can leave the past behind and finally stop hiding from the world.
Life should’ve been perfect. Kate Edwards had won the heart
of police detective Jared Corbett and was coming to terms with her psychic
ability. Things were blissful—until the day she met bad boy psychic
extraordinaire Declan Brayden.
Psychic Kate Edwards had her first premonition—a vision of
her own murder by a faceless attacker. With very few clues to go on, she has to
use her psychic gifts to uncover who wants her dead. Paranoia sets in and Kate
wonders if there’s anybody she can trust.
The Final Omen:
Kate Edwards had seen her death in a premonition. She was
given the opportunity to stop her murder from happening and finally reconnect
with her love Detective Jared Corbett. However, fate had different ideas…
TAUT: The Ford Book (A Rook and Ronin Spin-off) by J.A. Huss
Publication date: January 2014
Genres: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Ford Aston is getting the f*ck out of Denver. He does not give a shit about blizzards, getting his old ass Bronco over the Rocky Mountains in one piece, or a girl knocking on his hotel door looking to be saved.
Ford Aston is known for many things. Being an emotionless, messed up bastard, a freakishly smart social outcast, and a cold, domineering master who keeps “pets” instead of girlfriends.
And after Rook broke his heart, he plans to keep it that way.
Ashleigh is getting the f*ck out of somewhere, but she’s not quite sure where she’s coming from, let alone where she’s going.
Ashleigh is known for nothing, and that’s exactly what she’s got going for her. She’s broke, stranded in the mountains with a three month old baby, and Ford Aston is f*cking with her head.
And she plans to f*ck with his right back.
It’s a coy game at first, filled with flirting, and innuendo—but Ford soon realizes something is not quite right with Ashleigh. In fact, something is seriously, seriously wrong and the closer they get to their final destination, the closer Ford gets to the truth.
One night of devastation, self-loathing, and emptiness turns into the best thing that ever happened to Ford Aston. But one day of in-your-face reality threatens Ashleigh's whole existence. Can Ford allow another woman into his heart and risk the possibility of being hurt, or will he walk away from Ashleigh just when she needs him most?
J. A. Huss likes to write new adult books that make you think and keep you guessing. Her favorite genre to read is space opera, but since practically no one reads those books, she writes new adult science fiction, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and books about Junco (who refuses to be saddled with a label).
She has an undergraduate degree in horses, (yes, really–Thank you, Colorado State University) and a master’s degree in forensic toxicology from the University of Florida. She used to have a job driving around Colorado doing pretty much nothing but shooting the breeze with farmers, but now she just writes, runs the New Adult Addiction and Clean Teen Reads Book Blogs, and runs an online science classroom for homeschoolers.
Tori L. Ridgewood’s new book Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy, published by Melange Books, was released on June 20, 2013.
After a series of misadventures including being accused of attempted murder in high school, Rayvin Woods, a photographer and natural witch, left her hometown of Talbot in Northeastern Ontario, hoping to start her life over and never return. Ten years later, circumstances force her back to face her past and her former crush Grant Michaels.
Malcolm de Sade, a cunning vampire, escapes from an underground prison looking for vengeance. His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town. Rayvin’s power is all that stands between de Sade and his domination of Talbot, and beyond.
Grant Michaels, a police officer, thought Rayvin was a murderer. He will do whatever it takes to protect the community he loves from danger... but will he learn to trust his heart, and the word of a witch, before it's too late?
Rayvin didn't count on rekindling a lost love or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life when she came home to Talbot. Facing the past can be a nightmare… It’s worse when a vampire is stalking you.
After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.
At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.
Tori L. Ridgewood’s new book Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy, published by Melange Books, was released on June 20, 2013. For more information, visit http://torilridgewood.wordpress.com/.
Excerpt from Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy, by Tori L. Ridgewood
The pain in her eyes was tearing him apart. “You want to make amends?” She laughed, and looked away.
“You could put it that way . . . Rayvin. Look at me. We connected once, remember? When we were kids? I’ve missed that in my life. I didn’t realize, before you were gone, how much I needed you in my world.” He leaned forward and reached for her. “How can I make you believe me?”
“Why?” She jumped up, staring down at him. “What’s changed since yesterday that could possibly have reversed an opinion you’ve had of me for years? I don’t understand! You’re not making any sense.”
Grant’s face burned. “You don’t know what I think of you. You’re not a mind-reader, Rayvin.”
“I don’t have to be. I’ve seen how you look at me. Yesterday, you wanted to run me out of town, and now look around you.” She gestured wildly. “Candles, blankets. You don’t want to ‘start fresh’, you just want to get laid.”
Grant got to his feet. “Really? Is that what you think?”
“What else have men ever wanted from me?” she responded, wearily. “You know what, it was a noble gesture for you to drive me home, and help me with Andrea. But now I’d really like you to leave.”
“No. We need to talk; we have to figure this out.” Grant moved closer to her. Rayvin’s teeth were bared, but she held her ground as he approached. She infuriated him, she insulted him, but she didn’t back down, and by God he admired her for it. “I know you’ve been hurt, but I’m not him. Not all men are like that. I’m not like that.”
“I’ve felt your desire, Michaels. I know that you want me. Maybe we should just get it out of the way, so we can move on with our lives.” Her eyes glittering, she closed the distance between them and ran one finger down his chest. Behind her, in the fireplace, the flames on the candles flared and elongated. Grant’s body responded immediately to her touch; his breath quickened as his manhood swelled. Her laugh sounded like a sob. “But I have better things, more important things to do with my time. I’d rather not fulfill your adolescent fantasies tonight. I’m telling you again to please leave.”
Looking into her eyes, a breath apart, dozens of possibilities flashed through his mind, most of them involving the shedding of clothing and the quilt on the floor. Maybe they should fulfill their physical needs, and move on. But that wouldn’t leave him satisfied. Grant needed more from her, and he strongly suspected that she needed him, no matter how much she denied it. He saw the plea in her gaze, the sorrow and the anger. Taking a deep breath, he raised his chin and stepped back.
“Point taken. But there are a few things you should know.” He picked up his jacket from the edge of the couch. “Yes, I want you. I’ve fantasized about you for years, ever since we were in the tenth grade and you walked past me in your parka. It wasn’t your body that really caught me, though, Rayvin. It was the way you smiled when you pulled the furry hood up around your face. God, I wanted you to smile at me like that. I wanted to give you pleasure like that. So I guess the past does matter, in a way. I can’t let go of how I felt about you, and how I still feel. I don’t want to, because I have never felt for anyone the way I do for you.”
Grant put on his jacket. “That was the first thing. The second is this: I believe there is a reason for everything. You chose to come back here, no matter what you decide to tell people. You weren’t driven here, you could have gone anywhere. I think you might be punishing yourself for some reason. You want people to hate you, because that will justify rejecting them. So don’t blame the citizens of this town for making your life miserable. That’s all on you.”
He walked to the front door.
“Is that it, Michaels?” Rayvin called out. He turned around, his hand on the doorknob. She hadn’t moved, but the candles in the fireplace had almost completely burned to their stands. Her face was cast into shadow by their brilliance.
“No, there’s one more.”
Grant strode forward, crossing the room in three long steps to take her in his arms. Rayvin’s eyes burned into his for a moment, before he leaned down and tucked her into his chest. He held her close, feeling the beats of their hearts together, inhaling the scent of her hair, just breathing. Slowly, her hands moved to his back. They pressed gently. He sighed, moving a ticklish lock away from his face.
Behind them, the flames dwindled into tiny points of light, before they extinguished themselves.
“Whatever else you tell yourself, Rayvin Woods,” he whispered, kissing just above her ear. “You have to believe that everything will be okay.”
“I tell myself that all the time.” Her voice was muffled by his shoulder. “I’m just so tired of being alone. And now . . . there’s no other way. There just isn’t.”
He released her, letting his hands move down to clasp her fingers. “You’re wrong, Ray. There’s always a choice.”
Grant pressed his lips to her forehead, and went back to the front door.
He opened it, not expecting to step into madness.
Hands with sharp claws grabbed him by the neck and shoulder, hauling him forward and up; it was so sudden he couldn’t react. By chance, his right hand caught the doorframe as he was being pulled out. Impossibly, his assailant was on the roof. He gagged on a stench that invaded his nose and mouth, taking his breath away. Whoever had grabbed him had impressive gymnastic skill: he jumped down, flipping in the air, double-jointed arms maintaining their hold on him, and dug his heels into the lawn to gain purchase. Grant tried to call out, but his shirt collar was tightening around his throat, cutting off his air supply.
Rayvin’s mouth had opened in warning, too late. She watched, horrified, as filthy claw-like hands reached down and yanked Michaels nearly off his feet. A rage she did not know she possessed boiled up in her blood. She flew across the room in a heartbeat, grabbing Grant and holding on with all of her strength. She pressed the hand he’d wrapped around the jamb so hard that her nails scraped against the painted wall, and winced against the pain of ragged paint chips digging into the quick.
From her vantage point at the doorframe, the vampire’s bared fangs seemed only a few inches from Michaels’ face. He grunted, straining his neck to keep away from the snapping jaws. The creature had both arms around the policeman’s upper body in a tight grip. Rayvin reached out with her other hand and hauled back on Michaels’ shoulder, heaving with as much power as she could muster. The thing hissed at her, digging in with his heels. Michaels’ hand slipped under hers.
“Hold on!” she cried, bracing herself against the wall.
Time seemed to stop in her desperate tug of war. Sweat broke out on her body with the effort it took, helping Michaels resist the unnatural strength of the bloodsucker. Anger fuelled her reserves as it occurred to her that he was toying with them. Amid the grunts, Rayvin heard the distinctive rip of clothing being torn. Michaels’ hand slipped a little more; now, she was only anchoring his fingers. She’d lost hold of his shoulder when his jacket gave way under the vampire’s claws. She lunged forward to get another grip and felt her own sweater tear under an elongated canine as she found a handful of shirt. Michaels’ feet were leaving marks on the concrete step as he was dragged forward. The monster laughed at them, sneering, his black eyes narrowed and dirty, demonic face twisted in a maniacal grin.
Rayvin felt the fabric of Michaels’ shirt starting to give. In another moment, his fingers would slip out, lubricated by their combined sweat. Her heart broke as he ground out a command to her, between his teeth. “Let go, Rayvin! It’s okay, just get inside!”
“Yes, let go, Rayvin,” the creature mocked, using Michaels’ body to creep closer to her. He leaned over the big man’s back like a sinister gargoyle. She smelled his disgusting breath, the odours of dead things and rotting flesh making her gag. Michaels fell to one knee under the weight, which the vampire used to his advantage, moving towards Rayvin until only inches separated her panting lips from his malevolent grin. She couldn’t look away from the fathomless black eyes. In the back of her mind, she heard Michaels crying out for her again, ordering her to save herself, but she was losing herself in the chasm of the vampire’s gaze. She blinked, and the reality of the present disappeared . . .