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by Odessa Gillespie Black
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
1879, Tennessee. A farmhand on the vast Rollins estate, handsome young Colby Kinsley makes the mistake of his life when he becomes briefly entangled with conniving Grace Rollins, the plantation owner’s beautiful but unstable daughter. Yet matters become even more complicated when he finds himself falling truly in love with Grace’s clever younger sister, Annabeth…
Intent on escaping her darkly troubled father and her melancholy home, Annabeth is also determined to avoid Colby. Yet she is still drawn to his quick wit and many talents. And when he performs an act of astounding courage, she can no longer deny her true feelings for him…just as her sister cannot hide her jealous rage. Grace will do anything to destroy the blossoming romance—even invoke dark, powerful supernatural forces. And as her dangerous machinations begin, the passions of all three are set on a tragic course—with a conclusion that will echo across lifetimes…
After Mama made a supper fit for kings and queens, I walked out the back door of our cottage full and happy. It wasn’t dark yet, so maybe I could get some fishing in. A small rut worn in the middle of a long path led down to a pond set far away from the main house.
“Colby? What’s your middle name?” a girl asked from behind me.
For three long years, since the day we arrived at the Rollins Plantation, I’d dealt with Grace Rollins’ tiresome advances. No matter how many times I rejected her, she became more insistent. I could never have a moment’s peace without her searching me out. Other than her sister, Annabeth, who was buried in her studies and the arts, we were the only young people. That left me with no one to become acquainted with. Which was just as well. Time to myself had become scarce, since lately, I could never find any.
“Well?” She eyed me with the gaze of an interested mountain lion.
“Kendall. Colby Kendall Kinsley.”
“Hmm. It’ll do.” She twirled a black tendril of hair about her finger as her gaze intensified. “Colby Kendall Kinsley, have you ever kissed a girl?”
I spit into the pond. “I beg your pardon?”
“Have you ever kissed a girl? It’s a simple question with a simple answer.” She examined her fingernails the way a cat would before she clawed your face. She tapped her chin, then pointed at me. “You’re scared of me.”
I put my pole and worms beside the water’s edge. There was no sense in bothering to fish. She’d scare them all off with her incessant rambling. But I would figure out a way to run her off before dark. Just before the sun set over the tall trees south of the property, they really started biting.
“You keep darting away from me when I try to kiss you. You haven’t kissed a girl before.”
“I kiss my mom all the time. She’s plenty enough female in my life.” I took out a medium-sized hook and ran the line through it. “I don’t think this is an appropriate subject.”
She giggled and stood. “You know by now that ‘proper’ isn’t exactly a concern of mine.”
“Don’t you have lessons to attend or some knitting to do?”
Pressing her dress down, she walked toward me. “I’m a big girl. I do what I want, when I want.”
“I’m going to have to insist you bring along a chaperone if we are to be in each other’s company.” I jabbed a hook right through the biggest, juiciest night crawler I had, hoping to send her retching.
“If you’re asking for a chaperone, that makes me believe you would like to call on me in the near future.” She slinked closer.
I almost tripped on my bowl of worms and took a tumble into the pond. “I used to wonder why you came out here with all the bugs and frogs and slimy creatures, but it’s quiet. I might accompany you while you fish more often. It would get me away from Annabeth and all her goody-goody college talk. I swear, she’ll never find a decent husband.”
Just as I gained my balance and looked up, Grace was nose to nose with me. I slid out of her clutches before she could lean in to put her lips on my face.
“Colby,” Mama called from the back of our house.
Relieved, I slipped around her and scooped up my fishing supplies. “I have to go.” “We’ll meet tomorrow night.” Her demand followed me as I fled.
Odessa Gillespie Black lives in the beautiful North Carolina foothills with her husband, four children, Chihuahuas Little Bit and Rico, and rescued Lab and Pit mix, Mo. When not chasing dogs around the backyard and tackling the daily duties of mother-and-wife-hood, she enjoys watching horror movies, and reading and writing paranormal romance.
Never Been Bitten
by Erica Ridley
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
Amid the lore of 19th century England, even a woman of science isn’t immune to the charms of a wickedly handsome, dangerously sexy vampire…
The devilishly seductive, irresistibly rakish Mr. Macane is ravishing all the ladies of the ton—despite the fact that he is penniless, untitled—and believed to be a vampire. Hired to disprove such an absurd claim, the skeptical Miss Elspeth Ramsay does not expect to tremble in his presence—until the graze of his teeth on her neck ignites an appetite of her own, and she finds herself biting him back! Surely this sudden bloodlust can only mean danger for her family and her heart—or a love for eternity…
A slow smile curved his lips, gapping just long enough to flash a sliver of white teeth. Not fangs, Ellie told herself. Just teeth. As normal as hers. She took a deep breath and shivered as she inhaled the scent of cologne and clean linen.
Everything had an explanation. Macane was an accomplished rake, not a vampire. He happened to be brilliant at the art of illusion. With his absent cravat and his close-lipped smiles, he lent just the right touch of mystery and illicit adventure to woo the golden flock. Genius, actually. If she’d thought of it first, perhaps she’d be the celebrated Original of the ton, rather than the spinster who investigated frivolous claims for the rich.
She glanced up at him again. His mouth was no longer curved in a smile, but it was still wide and firm. The swooning ladies could keep their macabre fantasies. She’d much rather have that sensual mouth kissing her than biting her. If there weren’t such a crush of people . . .
As if they shared one mind, his next artful spin took them from the sparkling dance floor to a spot behind a hand-painted Chinese folding screen—which hid the entrance to the gardens. Before she could object (presuming she would have objected) Ellie was out the door and beneath the moonlit sky, still cradled in Macane’s arms.
A frisson of trepidation caused her to catch her breath. She stared up at him in a panic. Might he actually kiss her? As far as she could remember, no one had ever tried. No gentleman had ever noticed her long enough to think of it. And now—what if she did it wrong? What if she did it right? What would be expected of her then?
“You’re beautiful,” he murmured. “You dazzled me even as you tried to hide.”
Well, that was laying it on a bit thick. Ellie wasn’t ugly, but nor were artists dueling for the honor of painting her portrait. She was plain. Worse than plain: She was nondescript. Wracking her brain for an appropriate setdown to such ridiculous flattery, she narrowed her eyes at him . . . and nearly swooned at his expression.
He was sincere. Or if not, he gave a bloody good impression of it.
His eyes were rapt on her face, as if he had been searching for her all his life. His gaze had softened, making his features less harsh and more open. His arms cradled her gently, his hands splayed at the curve between waist and hips. He was being far more familiar than anyone of her acquaintance—far more familiar than any right-minded young lady should allow—but Ellie was so enamored by the idea of having entranced him that she couldn’t bring herself to pull away.
His lips parted. Hers did too, mostly because she was having trouble remembering to breathe. Her lips suddenly felt too dry. She edged out the tip of her tongue to lick them and gasped when his hold tightened painfully. She felt strangely powerful, as if she truly were beautiful.
He lowered his face to hers. His eyes were no longer the crystal green of the sea, but rather a shimmering black. Rather than try to process the transformation, Ellie cleared her mind and let her own eyes flutter closed. She was going to be kissed for the first time. And she was going to enjoy it. Her brow creased when the delicious pressure of his parted lips brushed the base of her throat rather than her waiting mouth. The sharp edge of bared teeth grazed the tender skin at the curve of her neck. He wasn’t going to kiss her—he was going to bite her! Instinct forced her to react at lightning speed. But instead of shoving him away as she could’ve sworn she had instructed her limbs to do, Ellie returned the favor and sank her own teeth into his cravat-free neck.
Mutual shock held them immobile for an interminable moment. Realizing the ignominy of what she’d just done, Ellie pulled away in horror before he could thrust her from him bodily. To label him thunderstruck would be the understatement of the century.
He touched his neck with the tip of a finger. The pad of his white glove came away pink with blood.
“Good Lord,” he growled, his expression fierce. “Did you just bite me?”
New York Times bestselling author Erica Ridley learned to read when she was four, which was about the same time she decided to be a writer when she grew up. Now, Erica writes Regency-set historical romances. Since becoming active in the writing community, all of her manuscripts have finaled in or won various RWA chapter contests. Erica is also the webmistress of her local writing chapter. When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.
by Sonya Weiss
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
The Great Extinction, the prophesied war between the humans and the Supernaturals, has begun.
Born a Supernatural, Juliet Sawyer has the ability to save the world from disaster. But after barely escaping the underground, power-sucking prison known as the Void, she finds herself on the brink of death and in the middle of a vengeful war. To survive, she’ll have to make a deal with her human captors. But the stakes are raised when she learns the government is holding her sister hostage. To rescue her, Juliet must become a weapon for humanity, fighting against her own kind—including Riley West, the boy she fell deeply in love with—and by whom she was abandoned.
Forced to desert Juliet, Riley is on a mission to capture the human’s president and bring her to the Supernatural’s king. But if he fails, there will be no stopping the Night of Grief, which will unleash horrors capable of destroying humans and Supernaturals alike. With battle lines drawn, amid a flurry of secrets and betrayals, can Juliet and Riley rescue their love as well as all life on Earth? Or will someone get caught in the crossfire?
I’d forgotten the execution of revenge always brings a reckoning. Revenge was the reason for my predicament. I’d told myself I was following my destiny to save the humans, but that was a lie. In truth, I’d wanted to get even with the leaders of our world for murdering my father.
I choked back a sob as I fought the despair threatening to overwhelm me. I needed to save my little sister, Maisy, but I was trapped, unable to get to her. She and the other mixed-blood children with her depended on me to protect them from the humans and the Supernaturals and instead I was deep in the bowels of the Void. It was a triple D place to be. Dark. Dank. Dangerous.
The cold, dark, stone walls of this Supernatural prison were designed to absorb our power. Robbed of our abilities, we were as weak as the humans.
Careful to avoid the loose rocks dotting the ground all around me, I struggled to my feet, worry over my sister’s safety driving me to move my aching body. Shut down the fear. Shut down the pain. Do whatever it takes to get out.
A noise to the left caught my ear.
Riley moved haltingly toward me. Even in blue jeans and a T-shirt, his royal bearing was unmistakable. He drew his arm tight against his body as he favored his ribs. Failure and guilt struck again, smacking me in the face. He’d had to save me and I hated that. Hated leaning on him when I knew what I would be called on to do to him. Falling in love with Riley wasn’t logical, but when does the heart ever listen to logic? It simply looks into the eyes of the other person, into their soul, and falls. The idea that once he knew my secret he might not ever forgive me, much less love me back, chilled me to the bone. Could I handle seeing the love disappear from his eyes?
The tip of his black Converse caught on a rock and he pitched forward, throwing his hands out to catch himself. The muscles in his arms flexed and he rested his forehead against the wall for a second, shaking his head as if dazed, which I didn’t doubt he was. The fall into the opening from the castle above us was a neck breaker. We’d been lucky to live through it.
Riley had risked his life and given up his freedom for me. By jumping into the Void with me in his arms, he’d found a way to stop my own power from killing me.
I made a sound that was half laugh, half sob as a conversation with my late father popped into my thoughts. Use your power for good. Remember your purpose, Juliet.
Sure, Dad, but what good is having power when it comes with a nasty side effect like death? I didn’t have an autonomic fail-safe to govern the temperature of my power like all the other Supernaturals did. Every time I used my power, I risked being barbecued from the inside out. When my last manmade fail-safe blew, I’d almost died and Riley had saved me then too.
I blinked back tears and smiled when Riley reached me. Putting my hand on his side, I checked the area he’d favored, and my hand trembled as I remembered the intimacies we’d shared.
“I’m okay,” he said. I knew the words for the lie they were. He was far from okay physically and emotionally. His handsome face was covered in bruises, his skin scraped raw in places. Wounds caused when his own father had tried to kill him. Riley reached for my hand, faking a smile. Even in his battered state, he was still incredibly hold-my-breath hot, making me forget everything I wanted to say at that moment.
Sonya Weiss is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and author, including the Stealing the Heart series with Entangled Publishing. She’s addicted to great books, good movies, and Italian chocolates. She’s passionate about causes that support abused animals and children. Her parents always supported her bringing stray animals home, although the Great Dane rescue was a surprise.
by Rebecca Zanetti
GENRE: Paranormal Romance
Simone Brightston knows she can beat the rap her enemies are pinning on her. An Irish witch is nobody’s fool, and she didn’t get to her position on the high council without serious power. But her cousins want her to hide out—and they somehow convinced her arch nemesis to play getaway driver.
Of all the men she’s known, Nikolaj Veis is the hardest to intimidate. With his demon-dark eyes and his inscrutable beauty, he’s as desirable as he is dangerous. And he knows better than to underestimate Simone. So when he pulls up on a roaring bike and tells her to climb on or fight it out, she grabs a handful of jacket and holds on tight. Running from the law may not be the smartest plan. But when it comes to Nick, hot pursuit and a blazing fast ride are exactly what Simone’s looking for.
The helicopter maneuvered gracefully through the buildings, keeping above him, tracking easily.
Honking cars and screeching brakes pierced the day behind him as the SUVs kept pace.
“Pull over,” Simone hissed into his ear. “We can’t outrun them.” No, but perhaps they could get to safety of a sort. Even the Guard wouldn’t risk a full immortal fight with human witnesses. So he kept driving, avoiding a wreck, knowing full well the risk he took. The skyscrapers turned to three-story buildings. Then homes. Finally, trees began lining both sides of the road and filling the air with the scent of pine.
“Where are you going?” Simone whispered against his ear, her breath hot.
A shiver wound through his body to his groin. Jesus. He was about to take on a cadre of witches, and his cock wanted to play? Simone Brightston had always destroyed his system. It was a relief to know that she still could. In his darkest moments, he’d wondered whether he’d ever find his way back to warmth. “I have a cabin prepared for you.” At least then, they’d have a chance. The roar of pipes echoed through the trees, and within seconds, men on careening Harleys and dirt bikes surrounded them. Nick hunched over the bike. “Hold on,” he yelled.
Her thighs tightened on his, and she slipped both arms around his waist to hug tight.
Two men moved in on either side of them, and he smelled shifter. What the hell? Turning, he eyed the closest threat. Lucas Bryant? A grizzly bear lieutenant? What the fuck?
Lucas narrowed his dark eyes and jerked his head toward the rider on the other side.
Nick glanced the other way to see another man draw a gun from his jeans. The shifter smiled.
Nick shook his head.
The shifter lowered the gun toward Nick’s front tire. Damn it. Nick leaned to the left and kicked out with his right leg, hitting the guy in the ribs. The male’s eyes widened, and he flew off his bike with an animalistic bellow, his bike dropping and spinning around in his wake.
Nick yanked to the side, swerved to avoid the shifter’s head, and drove straight into the forest.
Simone screamed and tucked her face against his neck, her hold tightening until his ribs protested.
Branches whipped into them, and the bike skidded on wet pine needles. Instinct guided him as much as his enhanced senses, but he didn’t know these woods. The bear shifters careening through the trees in his wake certainly did.
His only hope was to outrun them and find shelter. The Guard’s helicopter was visible through the treetops, but at least he’d lost the SUVs.
The bike hit a patch of tree roots and shot up in the air. He held tight and corrected when they came down, jerking the handlebars before opening the throttle again. The trees thickened, providing cover but less visibility.
“Where are you going?” Simone yelled into his neck.
There were more weapons at his cabin, if he could just outrun the shifters. He turned right, barely missing a sapling, and then snapped around another tree. Branches scraped his cheek, and his left eye watered, so he used his right.
Lucas Bryant flew out of a bunch of cottonwoods, his bike in the air and his gun already firing.
Nick tried to jerk away, but a bullet sliced into his front tire. The explosion was deafening.
Panic swept him. They pitched into the air. He turned, enfolded Simone, and wrapped himself around her as much as possible, protecting her head with his arms. They flew through the forest, hitting trees and branches.
Pain exploded through his back.
His head impacted with a tree, and stars flashed behind his closed lids.
Something shattered in his shoulder a second before agony ripped through his neck. Simone’s screams echoed in his head, gravity took over, and his skull cracked.
Unconsciousness took him before he felt the ground.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti has worked as an art curator, Senate aide, lawyer, college professor, and a hearing examiner – only to culminate it all in stories about Alpha males and the women who claim them. She writes contemporary romances, dark paranormal romances, and romantic suspense novels.
Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides in the wild north with her husband, children, and extended family who inspire her every day—or at the very least give her plenty of characters to write about.
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