Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: HIGHLAND DRAGON WARRIOR by Isabel Cooper

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HIGHLAND DRAGON WARRIOR (Dawn of the Highland Dragon, Book 1) by Isabel Cooper

Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Synopsis

9781492632030-PRLegend claims when Scotland fell to English rule the Highland dragons took a vow:
Freedom at any price.

The war may be over, but so long as English magic controls the Highlands, not even a dragon laird can keep his clan safe. What Cathal MacAlasdair needs is a warrior fierce enough to risk everything, yet gifted enough to outwit an enemy more monster than man.

What he needs is Sophia.

Alchemist Sophia Metzger traveled to Loch Arach in search of knowledge. She never dreamed she’d learn to do battle, ride through the stars on the back of a dragon, or catch the eye of a Highland laird. But as her quest turns to sizzling chemistry and inescapable danger, she’ll soon discover the thrill of being caught in a dragon’s claws..

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Highland Dragon Warrior

Excerpt

Carrying a passenger was a new experience for Cathal, made doubly tense by the urgency of their errand and triply so because it was Sophia astride his back. He climbed above the clouds as smoothly as he could, and as quickly, since hesitation wouldn’t be useful. When he leveled out and felt Sophia’s weight still securely in place, with her breathing steady next to him, relief ran through him like strong drink.
Navigating by the stars, he flew slowly toward the south and Valerius’s lands, avoiding when he could any winds that would make him rise or fall too steeply or angle too sharply. It was not the most exciting bit of flying he’d ever done, but he wasn’t eager for it to end. Having Sophia close, even when he wasn’t in human shape, with the stars arcing overhead and the whole wide sky spread out before him… He could have stayed for far longer.
In time, reluctantly and more gently than he’d ascended, he dove back under the clouds to look for landmarks. He noted the small flecks of light from manors and stayed as far away as he could. Cottages were only lumps in the darkness, far harder to avoid, but they mattered less. Any peasant could claim to have seen a dragon, but it would take far longer for the story to reach anyone who knew its significance, and by that time, God willing, they’d be gone and Valerius dead.
For a while he could hear owls and bats, the few among his fellow creatures of the air who went abroad at night. Like most animals, they stayed well away from him, but he knew their cries as part of a familiar chorus.
As they approached Valerius’s lands, that chorus faded. They didn’t travel in silence as they’d done above the clouds, but the night birds’ calls were few, and many sounded weaker. Odd: he’d have expected more bats and owls near the sorcerer’s domain. Most said they were creatures of the devil.
Granted, most said that about dragons too.
Near the same time, the air changed. Cathal didn’t think anyone human would have noticed the faint staleness to it, or the slight suggestion of rot, but both were there, and got stronger the closer he flew. The colors of the land below him were muted too, even for early spring, and about them there was a hint of grayish-red, like a wound gone bad.
The land is poisoned, Lady Bellecote had said.
No wonder the birds sounded unhealthy; no wonder the crops never did very well. Even the edge of Valerius’s domain was wrong, though wrong in a way few humans could have pinpointed or even spoken about. Cathal didn’t think he needed to view the place through magical sight. For certes, he desired no such thing.
With everything in him, he wished to turn back. The thought of setting foot on the corrupted land was repugnant, and the idea of sending Sophia alone into it was worse. He felt his lips pull back into a snarl, exposing his teeth as if he could threaten Valerius from this distance—or rip his throat out—and he knew both impulses to be futile.
Only one course of action stood a chance of helping.
Near the border was a small stand of trees, far enough from any cottages that Cathal doubted anyone would come here until high summer, if that. He circled slowly down to a landing, wincing at the first contact with the earth.
It didn’t hurt, precisely. But it felt more yielding and more clinging than snowmelt or rain would explain, and he thought of how Sophia had described the earth in her dreams.
He could have no doubts about whose land they’d found.
Holding still, he felt Sophia extracting herself from the harness, then watched as she slid to the ground. Their surroundings didn’t seem to disgust her. She smiled brilliantly up at him. “That was wonderful. Amazing. I-I would write a book, would anyone believe me, and did it not expose you and yours too greatly. I… Well, I thank you.”
On the last, she ducked her head, her dark lashes long against her cheeks, and then began to undo the harness until Cathal shook his head at her.
“Oh? Very well,” she said and stepped back.
He changed. The world became bigger and higher; as always, it took a moment or two before he felt as though he moved right. He was standing in the middle of the harness, within a loop quite large enough for his body. Sophia comprehended, and laughed quietly.
“I believe I can get it back on when I return,” she said. “I hope, at least.”
“It won’t matter so much then. We’ll likely not have to hide on our way out, so I’ll not need to go so high so fast.”
“Oh,” Sophia said, and smiled again, equally brilliantly. “It’s almost a disappointment, truly. But then, if it’s in the day, it might be just as interesting to see the world from on high—and I suppose I shouldn’t be anticipating anything just yet,” she added, the smile dying.
Cathal wished he had the words to bring her smile back, or that it would be just to do so. All he could do was nod. “Seven days?”
“I should think that time enough, or as much time as we can afford. It’s not a large place.” They’d planned all this at the castle. Now they confirmed it, as much because a plan was reassuring as to keep the details fresh in their minds. “Should I need to stay longer, I’ll do my best to come back here and give you that message. And if I’m not back in seven days, you will go back to the castle.”
It was not a request, nor even a recommendation. “You’ve been speaking with Douglas.”
“He told me nothing I couldn’t have reasoned out for myself. If I… If the worst happens,” she said, and smoothed her hands over her skirt, “you’ll need to get word back, and it’ll do no good to have you come in breathing fire from above, most likely. If you go back then, you and your family can perhaps send men in, or come yourselves, or…or try the sorts of magic you know.”
There was no gap in her reasoning, no hole that Cathal could find to justify any argument. He would’ve given years of his life for one, but there was nobody to take him up on that offer, and so he could only nod. Where Sophia was going, he’d be more hindrance than help. Again he had to wait, and hope, and know himself to be useless.
Just so, it came to him, how the women in the camps must have felt before battles. His mother too, mayhap. Real war had been more distant in Cathal’s youth; his mother had been a sorceress who could aid her husband from a distance; and even in age, Artair was harder to kill than the rocks around them, but there were always threats.
If they endured, so could he. It was no new thing, sending one’s—
Before Cathal’s mind could supply the word and shock him further, Sophia spoke again. “I believe I’m well supplied enough for the journey. If you think you’ll need food, waiting, I can leave some.”
Cathal shook his head. “I’ll hunt. Should I get desperate, I’ll take a sheep and leave the coin for it later. And I’ve gone a fair few days without food before.”
“If you’re in danger,” she said, “if we were wrong and he can track your presence even here, if you have to leave, you should. Leave me a sign if you can, but if I return and you’re not here, I’ll wait a night, then try to make my way back to your lands.”
“My father’s.”
Sophia waved a hand, not understanding why the distinction was important. In truth, Cathal wasn’t sure why he’d felt the need to make it just then, but it had been irresistible. “I’m only human, and there’s nothing exceptional about me. And I have coin and skills. I’ll be all right.”
“Don’t,” he said. It was almost a growl, but she didn’t flinch.
“Very well. I have as good a chance as anyone of being all right. Better than many people would have. It…” He saw the whites of her wide eyes, the swell of her breasts as she gulped air, and the swift motion with which she pushed back a stray lock of hair, as if she could tuck away fear as quickly and completely. “It shall suffice, yes?”
“It must,” said Cathal.
He wanted to tell her again that she didn’t need to do this. She could turn away from the path before her and the blighted place to which it led. She’d done enough. But that would be insulting, he knew, and besides, it was no longer the truth. The journey into Valerius’s domain was the best hope that any of them had. Sophia was the best person to make it now.
And so there was nothing more he could do.
“We will come for you,” he said. “If you’re captured. I’ll pluck Agnes out of her tower if I need to and get her to weave spells for us, or I’ll drag my father home from his treaties. Or I’ll manage what’s needed myself. I can, given time.”
Unexpectedly, she smiled again, and in her smile was an echo of those hours flying beneath the stars, with only the two of them and no need for words. Even Cathal didn’t see her move when she stepped forward. She flowed toward him, reached up, and cupped the side of his face in one hand. “I would never doubt it,” Sophia said.
“You’re wrong,” he said thickly, and clasped her shoulders in his hands. She looked up at him, startled, about to argue the point. “Not about rescue. Earlier.”
“Wha—”
Everything about you is exceptional,” he said, and kissed her before she could reply.
Rather, she didn’t reply in words. Her response was as desperate as his embrace. Sophia didn’t melt into his arms so much as throw hers around him, grasping him with the urgent strength he remembered from the flight, now colored and transformed by sensuality. As her mouth opened before his, her hands roamed his back, short nails almost scoring his skin even through his clothing.
He kissed her as if by sheer force he could make them both forget what waited, as though with his lips and tongue and his hands on her breasts he could himself cast a spell to banish Valerius to whatever hell would claim him in the end. He drank Sophia’s little gasps of desire like the strongest wine and wanted nothing more than to hear those sounds, to feel her fingers twined in his hair, to think of nothing else, to think nothing at all.

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Buy Links

Kindle: http://amzn.to/2iHf1cR
iBooks: http://apple.co/2xLmIBc
B&N: http://bit.ly/2x3Q7Hj
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2wHAQP9

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Giveaway

3 Copies of HIGHLAND DRAGON WARRIOR

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

During the day, ISABEL COOPER maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Spotlight, Quiz & Giveaway: I Kissed a Rogue by Shana Galen

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I Kissed a Rogue (Covent Garden Cubs, Book 3) by Shana Galen

Genre: Historical Romance

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Synopsis

imageOnce she spurned the man…

When the Duke of Lennox hires Sir Brook Derring, England’s best investigator, to find his daughter, Brook intends only to rescue the lady and return to his solitary life. He deals with London’s roughest criminals every day of the week; surely he should be able to endure seeing his first love again—the perfect girl who broke his heart…

Now her life depends on him

Lady Lillian-Anne Lennox has always done her best to live up to her father’s standards of perfection—at the cost of following her heart. When she’s kidnapped and her perfect life is shattered, Lila has another chance. Together, Lila and Brook navigate not only the dark and deadly side of London, but the chasm of pride and prejudice that divides them.

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Excerpt

She had to escape. She couldn’t die down here, in the rank dark, alone. She might deserve such a death, but she’d fight it with every last ounce of strength. She’d almost freed her hands by twisting and working the rope against her chafed wrists until it slackened. Her captors hadn’t tied it very tightly, but that was the only mistake they’d made.
Lila had no idea how long she’d been in the dank, cold cellar, but she knew the moment her life went completely astray. The carriage had raced along the dark streets of London, the familiar clip-clop of the horses’ hooves almost like music in her ears. She’d pulled her thick pelisse more tightly around her bare shoulders and rested her dancing slippers on the warm brick at her feet.
All she’d wanted was her cozy bed and a cup of tea. She hadn’t even cared that by leaving her cousin Rose’s betrothal ball early, she risked her father’s wrath in the morning. She’d attended the betrothal tea, the betrothal dinner, and now the betrothal ball. Would that Rose marry and be done with it. It was during that uncharitable line of thinking that she heard John Coachman call out and the carriage slowed.
Lila had parted the curtains in an effort to see what was the matter, but all she’d seen was the swirl of London fog and the amorphous shapes of the outriders moving to stand protectively in front of the carriage door. She’d sighed with impatient annoyance.
“Now wh—?” She’d clamped her mouth shut at the sound of a thump and an unfamiliar man’s voice. The carriage rocked as the horses danced with fear. She waited for John Coachman’s reassuring words and heard only a muffled shout and the pop of what sounded like her father’s rifle.
Her heart pounding in fear, she’d slid one lock into place and was reaching for the other when and a tall, lanky man yanked the door open.
He’d smiled, his thin lips and cheeks stretching over his facial bones. “Hello, Lady Lillian-Anne.”
From there, everything was a blur. She’d been dragged from the carriage, hooded, and pushed against the conveyance, her hands roughly bound. Lila had been so shocked at her mistreatment, she hadn’t even screamed, and then she’d been lifted and tossed over a man’s shoulders. She hadn’t been carried far before she’d heard the squeak and squeal of a door being pried open and the echo of boots on slatted wood floors. Another door and then another and her captor had carried her down a flight of stairs and dropped her on her bottom.
She’d screamed then and scurried backward, only to run up against a pair of hard boots. A voice, much like the one who’d greeted her, hissed in her ear. “Shut yer potato hole. Keep quiet or I stuff my drawers down yer throat. You hear me, Duchess?”
She’d nodded and closed her mouth. She’d pulled her legs in and hunched her shoulders, making herself small, waiting for what seemed an eternity for what was to happen next. Would they rob her? Rape her?
She was not a duchess, only the daughter of one. She had the wild thought that perhaps the men wanted her stepmother, the Duchess of Lennox. But, no. They’d called her Lady Lillian-Anne. They knew who she was. They’d planned the abduction and whatever was to come next.
Lila had shivered, her body shaking uncontrollably with fear and cold. Finally, the man moved away. At his word, the others followed, and she heard their boots on the stairs and then the thud as the door closed.
She’d sat on the hard floor, the small pebbles and rocks digging into her skin through her silk ballgown and the pelisse. She jumped at the creaks and pops of the building settling, fearing each minute sound was the men returning for her. Gradually, she grew accustomed to the sounds but not the smell, never the smell. Something had died down here—many somethings—and with the hood over her face, she could only imagine. Lila envisioned rat corpses responsible for the sharp, sickly fragrance that burned her nostrils. When she began to imagine human bodies, she bit her lip hard to stop the rising panic.
Strange that in the middle of London, all was silent but for her teeth chattering.
They’d stopped chattering now—after too many hours to count. Lila was too numb to feel the cold any longer. The rope around her wrists was all she cared about. She twisted and pulled until finally she managed to squeeze one hand free. She bit her raw lip against the pain of the rough rope sliding against her bare skin. The gloves she’d painstakingly inched off might have protected her bare skin, but they were one more layer between her and freedom.
With a wince, her wrists slid apart, and she exhaled softly, hugging her arms around her chest. Her shoulders throbbed, and the simple act of rotating them in the opposite direction was sheer bliss. She felt for the opening of the hood she wore and quickly tore it off. Charcoal gray replaced the blackness. If the cellar had openings of any kind, she couldn’t spot them in the dark of night. She prayed it was still night and that morning would show her some sort of escape.
And not a stack of rotting bodies.
She had to find a way out. By now her father must have realized she’d been abducted. He would be frantic with worry. Had her captors sent a ransom note? Was that what this was about? Colin would make the duke pay it. Colin and Lila had grown closer since their mother’s death. He wouldn’t allow their father to ignore a ransom note.
If there was a ransom note.
What if the Duchess of Lennox was behind this? Lila’s stepmother hated her, but even she would not stoop to hiring mercenaries to abduct her stepdaughter.
Lady Selina would. She and Lila had hated each other since their first Seasons, when Lord Hugh had asked Lila to dance before Selina. From then on, it had been war.
Selina was married now and certainly too busy to plan attacks on Lila. But Madeleine Stratham, her cousin Rose’s friend, was not too busy, and she had intentionally stepped on Lila’s gown at the ball tonight, hissing, “Watch out!”
Had that been a warning?
Lila’s head spun. If she tried to count all of her enemies, it would take hours. And who knew what her abductors would do to her when they returned. She pressed her hands against the cold, dirt floor beneath her, moving her fingers until she found her gloves. She pulled them on again, for warmth as much as protection, and moved cautiously forward, hands outstretched. Her knees trembled and wobbled.
“Please no bodies. Please no bodies,” she chanted under her breath.
The cellar was blissfully empty. She discovered a wall and followed it around to the base of the stairwell. Her hands traveled over that rough wood until she found the opening. The stairwell had no railing, so she carefully lifted her skirts and moved slowly and silently upward. Her fingertips touched the wood of the door at the top, and she stood listening.
She heard nothing but silence and the strains of music farther away. Perhaps a tavern or gin house was nearby. She couldn’t be certain a guard wasn’t on the other side of the door, but she tried the handle anyway. The handle moved, but the door did not budge when she pushed on it.
Some sort of lock to keep it closed and secure.
Lila waited, again listening for movement or an indication her efforts to escape had been noted. When she heard nothing, she rattled the door. The wood was flimsy and old. One serious push against it, and she could compromise the lock.
She took a jagged breath and said a quick prayer. She’d never prayed so much—no, she’d been her own god for too many years. Lila stepped back, careful not to go too far and tumble down the stairs, then rammed the door with her shoulder.

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Buy Links

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1VLTPe4
Amazon PBK: http://amzn.to/21BPj5F
B&N: http://bit.ly/1RkrxGz
Apple: http://apple.co/1L8K6hl
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1oI7JD6

Amazon Series Link: http://amzn.to/1TgrL58

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Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About the Author

imageShana Galen is the national bestselling author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of a daughter and a spoiled cat and lives in Houston, Texas.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour, Guest Post & Giveaway: Bite at First Sight (Scandals With Bite) by Brooklyn Ann

Bite at First Sight (Scandals With Bite)

by Brooklyn Ann

 

Paranormal Historical Romance

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

 

First of all, I want to thank Reading in Pajamas for having me on their blog today! To celebrate book 3 in my Scandals that Bite Series, I’ve invited the three heroes and Lord Vampires from by books, Ian Ashton (Bite Me, Your Grace), Vincent Tremayne (One Bite Per Night), and Rafael Villar (Bite at First Sight) to answer a question so you can catch up with the vampires responsible for the protection of their cities.

Best,
Brooklyn Ann



Now that you’ve found the love of your life, what are your hopes for your future?

Ian Ashton (BITE ME, YOUR GRACE): “That I can continue to survive her mischief.”

Vincent Tremayne (ONE BITE PER NIGHT): “That I can hold on to her.”

Rafael Villar (BITE AT FIRST SIGHT): “That I can take Cassandra to Spain to see my family.”

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SYNOPSIS

Her interest is purely scientific

Cassandra Burton wants to study medicine, surgery, healing, and everything related to the human body and its mysteries—and she’s willing to rob graves to do it! But a lady can meet dark and dangerous characters lurking around the cemetery. And who could be more fascinating than Rafael Villar, Lord Vampire of London? If she could study his physiology, she could learn so much that would help humans. After all, he’s immortal—and Cassandra is now his prisoner…

Until she gets close enough to touch

As if Rafael didn’t have enough to worry about, with a rebellion brewing and his allies out of reach, now he’s confronted by a beautiful, fearless lady who wants to heal the scars he’s borne for centuries. He can’t keep her, and he can’t let her go, and worst of all, he’s every bit as intrigued by her as she is by him.


EXCERPT from BITE AT FIRST SIGHT

28 September 1823

St. Pancras Cemetery, London

“If one desires a task accomplished correctly, one must do it herself.” Cassandra Burton, Dowager Countess of Rosslyn, repeated the litany as she pulled the rickety little wagon through the moonlit aisle of tombstones.

She shivered under her velvet cloak. Her fingers had long since gone numb with the effort of navigating the dratted conveyance over uneven ground and across slippery, damp grass. Shovels and pry bars clanked across the wagon’s worn pine boards. The winch rattled on its frame.

Something flickered across the corner of her vision.

Cassandra jumped. She stopped and rubbed her gloved hands together for warmth, surveying the graveyard. The area was still and silent as…well, a tomb. Yet the chill in her spine refused to abate. A scornful frown turned her lips at such irrational behavior. Ghosts were an illogical figment of uneducated imaginations, and no one could possibly have business out here at this hour…except herself.

“Worthless curs,” Cassandra whispered in as haughty a tone as she could manage.

If only the men to whom she’d offered a more-than-generous sum to perform this troublesome task had done their duty, rather than disappearing. She shook her head. If not for their unreasonable negligence, she would now be comfortably ensconced in her laboratory unraveling the secrets of the human body…not out in this cold, dreary place, jumping at shadows.

Surveying the newest graves, she read the dates to decide which would be the best specimen. The mysterious disappearance of her hired hands nagged at her. Could a murderer be on the loose? She shook her head and pulled the folds of her cloak tighter. No, by now the authorities would have found their bodies and the news would be sensationalized in The Times.

They were cowards, but she was not. To prove her lack of fear, Cassandra halted her wagon and fetched out a shovel. Her hands trembled nervously as she grasped the wooden handle.

Removing the dead from their graves was illegal. If a constable caught her, she’d be sent directly to Fleet Prison. A fresh surge of trepidation curled in her belly.

Exhuming a corpse was quite a different matter from having one ready on her operating table. As objective as she tried to be, the prospect of removing the body from its carefully arranged resting place by winching it out of the ground and loading it onto her cart was undeniably gruesome. However, gruesome or not, Cassandra needed a specimen to continue her work. And she would acquire it, no matter how much her nerves protested.

Despite being barred from official education as a physician because of her sex, Cassandra was determined to learn the skills required to become a doctor. That included studying human anatomy, and for that, she required cadavers.

Returning to the graves, she made her selection. Alfred Lumley, born September first, 1801; died September twenty-sixth, 1823. Two days ago Alfred had been a living twenty-two-year-old man, three years younger than herself. Whether or not he’d been healthy, she would soon determine. A pang of sorrow struck her heart. His soul is in heaven, she reminded herself. A mere shell remains. A shell that will help me to aid the living.

She raised the shovel, ready to plunge it into the soft soil. “I am not afraid. I am not.”

“You should be.” A sinister, accented voice pierced her consciousness.

The shovel fell from her nerveless fingers, thudding onto the cold ground.

Cassandra knew that voice; it had the rich, dark cadence that had haunted her dreams since the night she’d first met him. She spun around, the hood of her cloak falling to her shoulders.

Rafael Villar stepped out from behind a mausoleum. The shadows embraced his bronze skin, obscuring the scars on the left side of his face while moonlight highlighted his exotic features on the right.

Known as “the Spaniard,” Villar had been an infamous pugilist in Cheapside despite having only one functioning arm. The eccentric and wealthy Duke of Burnrath was his sponsor. Cassandra had often encountered Villar at Burnrath House when attending the duchess’s literary circles. Right away she’d suspected that there was more to the relationship between Rafael and Their Graces. And she’d been utterly and completely fascinated by him.

When the duke and duchess departed for the Continent to travel, Villar had leased Burnrath House. By all accounts he was rich as a nabob. For the remainder of the Season, Don Villar was all the ton could gossip about. But when months passed without the Spaniard making the slightest attempt to join Society, he was forgotten. Cassandra would have forgotten him as well, if it weren’t for those damned dreams. Now he stood before her in the most unexpected place and at the most inconvenient time.

Good Lord, will he turn me in to the authorities?

She opened her mouth to ask the reason for his presence, but the words caught in her throat when she saw that his amber eyes were glowing like a funeral pyre. His sensuous lips—lips she’d unreasonably dreamed of kissing—drew back to reveal white, even teeth…with two gleaming fangs for incisors.

Before she could scream or flee, Don Villar’s fiery gaze widened, then narrowed in recognition. “You! You’ve been the one disturbing my people?”

“Y-your people?” Cassandra stammered, staring raptly at those sharp fangs. She’d certainly never seen those during their previous encounters. Her heart leaped into her throat in dawning horror. This man was not human.

His lips curled back in a sneer, puckering the scars on the left side of his face. “Don’t play coy with me, Countess.” The word was filled with disdain. “Some of my subordinates reported hunters disturbing their lairs.” He gestured at the mausoleum behind him. “It is hard to fathom that you’re behind this, though I should have guessed. Is that why you befriended the Duchess of Burnrath?”

“I haven’t the slightest idea what you are going on about. I came here to… Well, it is no concern of yours.” A wave of indignation bolstered her courage. How dare he speak of her most treasured friendship in such a manner? How dare he accuse her of duplicity when he stood before her sporting unnatural teeth and luminescent eyes? And of what exactly was he accusing her? “What does Her Grace have to do with this?” Cassandra took a shaky step back. “And, in the name of heaven, what are you?”

In a blink of an eye, Rafael stood inches from her. With the same impossible speed, he grasped her shoulder, pulling her close against him. Dizziness swarmed her mind at the feel of his firm heat and his intoxicating scent of forbidden spices. His crippled left arm moved lightly around her waist, his fingers delicately brushing across her lower back. The heady combination of rough and gentle made her tremble.

His eyes locked on hers. “I will show you, Countess.”

Then his mouth was on her neck, firm lips caressing the sensitive flesh, somehow more intimate than anything she’d experienced during her ill-fated marriage. Cassandra melted against him, tangling her fingers in his silken hair.

Sharp pain exploded in her throat as his fangs broke her skin. Cassandra cried out and tried to push him away, but his iron-like right arm mercilessly held her immobile. The pain took flight, and drugging pleasure fluttered within her belly. A low moan escaped her throat as she pulled him closer. Liquid desire pulsed between her thighs. Whatever this was, she needed more, craved it with mindless longing.

Rafael pulled away, muttering a foreign curse. “You’re a grave robber?” Lifting his finger to his mouth, he pierced his flesh with one pearly fang and then gently touched the wound on her throat. The soft touch was juxtaposed by his blazing eyes and furious snarl.

She barely heard his words as her eyes locked on those deadly fangs. Cassandra froze as realization shook her to the core. He wiped her neck with a handkerchief. In confirmation of her suspicions, blood spotted the snowy cloth like an accusation.

“Vampire,” she gasped, struggling to breathe. The foundations of her scientific beliefs quaked within her consciousness. Fairy tales were not true, and magic was not real. Yet here he stood, ready to devour her blood and perhaps her soul. Terror gripped her heart like ice.

The creature that should not exist outside of myth nodded. “Yes, but you will not remember the fact.”

His eyes glowed brighter, capturing her gaze. The intensity caused a fresh wave of dizziness, but Cassandra fought it off. The vampire stood like a statue, continuing to stare at her in a most unnerving manner.

After an endless moment, she shook her head and took another wary step back. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Villar blinked and the fire dimmed from his gaze. An explosion of Spanish expletives came out in a growl as he seized her arm. “I apologize, Countess. You’ll have to come with me.”

“C-come with you where?” Cassandra stammered in confusion, trying to pull away. He’d already bitten her and drunk her blood. What more could he want? “Why? And f-for how long?”

“I am taking you to Burnrath House,” Rafael snarled through clenched teeth. “I have no choice but to place you under arrest until I can determine what to do with you.”

***

Rafe bit back another growl. Madre de Dios, why did the mysterious intruder have to be her? The Countess of Rosslyn was the only mortal in over three centuries to have gotten under his skin, and he still did not know why. And why did she have to be one of the rare individuals immune to mesmerism?

He’d wanted a brief moment to punish her for being a nuisance to him yet again. He’d wanted to punish her, to show her the folly in seeking out a monster, before banishing her memory. It was the worst of luck that the first mortal he’d deliberately revealed himself to was impervious to his power.

“Arrest?” Lady Rosslyn struggled in his grip, her warm flesh slipping beneath his grasp on the sleeve of her cloak, drawing his attention back to the vexing situation at hand. “Are you a constable?”

“Constable? Hardly. I am Lord of this city.” He held her fast.

“Lord? Of all of London? Whatever do you mean?” The countess tried once more to pull away. “And what of my wagon?”

Rafe tugged her closer before she could trip over a gravestone. “Damn it, woman. Devil take your wagon! You fail to grasp the severity of this situation.”

Truly, it would have been a simple matter had he succeeded in clearing the woman’s mind of the memory. Hell, it still would have been simple if the woman hadn’t been her. Not when her sweet, rich taste lay thick on his tongue. Not when her intoxicating scent of rose petals and woman engulfed his senses.

“Well, of course I do not grasp the situation!” Lady Rosslyn exclaimed, maddeningly oblivious to the tentative hold he had on his temper. “You have failed to explain it! First, I had no idea that vampires existed outside fiction. Furthermore, I have no notion why one would arrest me for exhuming a corpse for my studies. I am fully aware that my actions are illegal, but the logic eludes me as to how that should mean anything to you.”

Rafe sucked in a hissing breath through his teeth, biting back a stream of curses. Conversing with humans had never been his strong suit, but talking with Lady Rosslyn was always especially trying. “Your morbid hobby is of no concern to me. I had mistakenly believed you were hunting my people. You’re fortunate that my people didn’t take action themselves. That you weren’t beaten bloody by a mob, your house set aflame!”

Rafe closed his eyes, remembering how Ian’s third-in-command and a gang of other vengeful vampires had done exactly that to a prominent surgeon only three years ago. Ian had been apoplectic with rage. If the man’s wife hadn’t been in the country, she would surely have perished. Ian had punished the mob and issued a law that all suspicious mortals were to be handled only by the Lord of London from then on.

“Morbid?” Cassandra repeated, oblivious to the rest of his words. “You drank my blood only moments ago and you call me morbid?” Her sea-green eyes glared up at him from beneath impossibly long lashes. The captivating contact was broken too soon when she shook her head. “Well, if it is a mistake, then why are you arresting me?”

Ah and what a sweet drink it was. Yet somehow her life and memories had been more potent. Rafe usually closed his mind to his victims’ lives when he fed, but in the case of Lady Rosslyn, he had needed to discover what she was up to.

Lady Rosslyn seemed to have been a very busy woman during the last year. She’d had the daring to apply to Oxford, Cambridge, and Saint Bartholomew’s to master the healing arts. All those establishments had turned her away because of her sex. But she did not give up. Instead, she’d set forth with her studies alone, even robbing graves to learn the secrets of the human body.

Rafe sighed. This evening’s events had all been a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, one that could not be rectified. The Elders would not permit her to leave his presence alive.

“It is forbidden for mortals to know of our kind. I attempted to banish your memory of the encounter, but it appears you are immune to my powers. So now you must come with me until…” He trailed off, strangely reluctant to voice the rest aloud.

“Until when?” Her voice emerged in a frightened whimper.

Rafe closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Unexpected sorrow churned in his gut at the consequence this encounter would bear.

“Until it is decided whether I kill you or Change you into a vampire.”

 

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SCANDALS WITH BITE SERIES BY BROOKLYN ANN

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About the Author

A lover of witty Regencies and dark paranormal romance, Brooklyn Ann combines the two in her new vampire series. The former mechanic turned author lives with her family in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.

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Praise for Brooklyn Ann

“Solid writing, a tasty dash of originality, and realistic relationships that zing with sexual energy.” —Publishers Weekly

“Clutch the pearls, ladies. It’s wonderful.” —Lit Bites


 

   

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Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Highland Dragon’s Lady by Isabel Cooper

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The Highland Dragon’s Lady by Isabel Cooper
Series: Highland Dragons
Genre: Paranormal Romance/ Historical Romance
Publication Date: December 2, 2014

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He’s Out of the Highlands and on the Prowl…

Regina Talbot-Jones has always known her rambling family home was haunted. She’s also aware her brother has invited one of his friends to attend an ill-conceived séance. She didn’t count on that friend being so handsome…and she certainly didn’t expect him to be a dragon.

Younger son of a family of shapeshifting dragons, Highlander Colin MacAlasdair has lived a life free of both family duty and mortal cares. Moving in and out of human society as he wishes, he takes very little seriously—until Regina drops onto his balcony one midnight, catching his attention and his interest. She’s like no mortal he’s ever met, and no matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to get her out of his head.

Bound by circumstance, drawn by the fire awakening inside of them, Colin and Regina must work together to defeat a vengeful spirit—and discover whether their growing love is powerful enough to defy convention.

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Over the course of his life, Colin had been alone with young ladies in a variety of places: featherbeds, haystacks, and even the occasional riverbank in pleasant weather. Dusty attics had never featured. Yet these places also had never featured Reggie, with her dancing eyes and her hair falling down around her shoulders.
“You’ve got a bit of cobweb,” he said, noticing the strands at her temple. He knelt down and reached out. “Hold still. And, er, brace yourself.”
She closed her eyes and waited, patient for once in their brief acquaintance. Colin brushed his fingers over her temple, lifting the spider’s web away. Beneath it, the edge of her face was warm and soft, and her hair was like heavy silk. He swallowed, brushed his hand off on his trousers, and noticed that Reggie hadn’t yet moved.
Mostly, at least. Her breasts were rising and falling rapidly, and he could see the quick pulse in the hollow of her neck.
Colin touched his fingers to that spot, lightly, and felt the speed of her heartbeat. Desire was coursing through his own veins, collecting warm and heavy in his groin, but he kept his voice quiet. He could be playful for the moment. He could be human, as she was.
If she let him, at least.
“‘Exciting people,’ is it?” he asked. “You certainly don’t seem calm.”
Without opening her eyes, Reggie shook her head slightly. “No,” she said, drawing the word out.
Colin traced a finger along her collarbone, just above the neckline of her dress. “Are you afraid of me, then?”
Her eyes snapped open at the question. “No,” said Reggie, very definitely. Then she gave him an impish smile, one that went straight to his swelling cock. “Should I be?”
“That depends verra much on who you ask,” he said, and leaned forward to kiss her.

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Kindle: http://geni.us/1YvS
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The Highland Dragons Series:
http://www.isabelcooper.org/books.html
Legend of the Highland Dragon
The Highland Dragon’s Lady
Night of the Highland Dragon

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I’m a geeky Boston girl, who started writing when I was 12—mostly so that I would have something to do in math class other than math. Didn’t work out well for either the story or the long division skills. Over the years, my writing’s improved in ways beyond “not being in four-color pen”, to the point where Sourcebooks published No Proper Lady, my first romance novel, in September 2011. Two sequels are coming soon!

The long division, on the other hand, still eludes me.

I like exploring weird combinations of history, fantasy, romance, and (very very soft) science fiction. I have often been known to say that I come up with plots the way some people come up with cocktails: hopefully the next morning is better, though.

Oh, two of the four colors in that pen? Hot pink and turquoise. We were living in California at the time, and it was the early nineties, so I can’t entirely hold myself responsible for that one.

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