Baseball superstar Dante Lamonte is a broken man. Reeling from the horrific double murder that took the lives of his pregnant fiancée as well as his best friend, he drowns in alcohol and sex, but never finds relief.
Becca Hernandez is a sweet girl with terrible luck with men—and worse luck with sex. Her one-night stand with a man who is way out of her league was also totally out of her character. Dante took her out of her comfort zone… she loved everything he did to her, but she knows nothing can come of it.
When their paths cross again, they can’t resist each other. One night of passion turns into much more, but they struggle to get through the bases of this new relationship. Dante’s demons may destroy him, and when details of their less than vanilla night are leaked to the press, Becca stands to lose everything—her job, her reputation and Dante. Love may be their only salvation.
The cover for BOOK 2, Temptation’s Inferno is here! Check out this incredible sexiness and add it to your TBR now! >>> http://bit.ly/2mU5f77
Release Date: April 18th
Jamie Teller has had a rough year. After being blackmailed by a teammate, weathering a sex scandal, and being traded to a team on the other side of the continent, he’s overwhelmed and looking for a distraction. A sexy threesome with his burly roommate and his wife wasn’t expected–neither is his sudden attraction to a guy.
Viggo Sjoberg has been openly bisexual since he was 17, but always assumed he would settle down with a woman. When he’s surprised with news he has a child from a past fling, he jumps headfirst into marriage and fatherhood, but his new wife isn’t what she appeared to be. Adding to Viggo’s confusion are the feelings aroused by his seemingly straight roommate, Jamie.
When Jamie moves thousands of miles away, Viggo tells himself it’s over. Until a life-changing event puts the two men on a collision course. Suddenly, Jamie needs Viggo—badly—and Viggo is prepared to do whatever it takes to help. Even if it means he has to give up everything he always thought he wanted.
Kat Mizera is a South Florida native. Born in Miami Beach with a healthy dose of wanderlust, she’s called Los Angeles, Long Island, upstate New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Atlanta home. She’s never been able to pick which locale is her favorite, but if pressed, she’d probably choose the west coast.
Kat’s a typical PTA mom with a wonderful and supportive husband (Kevin) and two amazing boys (Nick and Max). When she’s not writing, she’s either scrapbooking or indulging in her second love (after writing) – traveling. Greece is one of her favorite places in the world. She loves that Athens is a big city with a small-town feel. The food, beaches and culture keep her going back as often as possible. She hopes to retire there one day so she can spend her days writing books on the beach.
Kat has been a working freelance writer for nearly 30 years. She sold her first article–a review of a rock concert–for $10 in 1985. Since then she’s been an entertainment journalist, waitress, bartender, legal assistant, food critic, magazine editor, substitute teacher, and sports writer. She also spent some time working at A & M Records in Los Angeles.
As you can guess from her series, the Las Vegas Sidewinders, Kat loves hockey. She is also a freelance hockey writer, covering her favorite team, the Florida Panthers, and any other teams that have an interesting story. The rest of the time, she writes novels: sexy, romantic fiction that she hopes makes you as happy as it makes her. There’s something enticing about hockey players and romance…
Looking for love, Moriel Reis finds it—in all the wrong places.
A professional teacher by day, Moriel learns that students can sometimes be the best teachers. Two of his students, Scott and Itsuma, share similar interests. Emotions flare as Itsuma challenges “Mr. Reis’s” authority.
After Moriel harshly disciplines him in front of the entire class, Itsuma wants a piece of his wounded pride back. Scott Cooper watches his homeroom teacher with dreamy eyes, but also feels loyalty for his smoldering friend and classmate, Itsuma Karter.
The heated conflict begins a fiery battle between the two. As this passion translation becomes a lustful tale, a surprising ‘hot for teacher’ story becomes a love affair, and a passionate adventure.
This venture out of the ordinary for the two students, allows them entrance into a world of erotic confessions, taking them on a journey into the velvet art of seduction that begins when the fighting ends. But as their skin privilege persuasions beckon for something more, in lies the question… do two wrongs make a right?
Slave to a 100 lbs. GSD (German Shepard) and a computer she calls “Dave”, you’ll often see her riding a 19 hand Shire nicknamed “Gunny” to the local coffee shop near the Santa Monica mountains. Stephanie reads for the love of words, and writes fiction about Dark Hearts and Heroes revolving around social taboos. When ever asked, she’ll reply her whole life can be seen through a comic—sometimes twisted, sometimes funny, but always beautiful and its title is adventure. Come play!
As the son of an Irish mobster, Connor O’Neil spent his boyhood hiding from the horrors of his own home. His one reprieve was a girl he knew only as Evelyn, but even she was taken away. As a man, Connor is determined to stay away from his father’s business. With Sean, participation is not a request, but a demand. The truth is, Connor might be more like the evil he’s trying to hide away from than he would like to admit.
And he’s already spent years trying to cover the scars left over from the pain.
A chance encounter puts the lost girl from his past back on his path, and he no longer has a choice but to face the darkness he’s been ignoring for years.
Evelyn. Sasha. Slave.
She doesn’t really know who she is anymore.
Or maybe she does, and she doesn’t want to tell.
She isn’t the same as she once was—now a thing to be kept and maintained, shuffled from owner to owner until it was her time to go. She only became Connor’s because he took her when he knew she wasn’t his to take.
Except she isn’t Connor’s at all …
And he can’t keep her hidden forever.
~Inflict is a Standalone Romance with graphic depictions of violence, sexual scenes, dark elements and a HEA. It is not recommended for those under the age of 18.
EXCERPT: INFLICT by Bethany-Kris
“You must think I’m stupid,” she whispered.
No, he certainly did not.
She was well spoken. She had a mind of her own and a questioning stare that told him there was a hell of a lot hidden beneath her exterior. He was not going to underestimate her in anything.
“I don’t,” Connor said.
“Then answer my question. You’re a man, so what do you want from me? They always want something; from the very start, each one has wanted something. I’ve filled a void, been used to enjoy, and even to be taught. I’ve been treated like a plaything to some, and like a sweetheart to others. What is your move?”
Connor damn near choked on his next question trying to get it out, “And how many has there been?”
She didn’t even think about it. “Seven, over the years.”
“The first one was not; he had a wife who liked me, and had three boys of her own, but no girls. He was just there to keep me, until I was passed on again. I was eleven when the wife left—I was passed on the next day.”
That spark of fire was back in her eyes. “What do you think?”
“I think you’ve misunderstood my intentions,” Connor murmured.
Evelyn tipped her head to the side, and her gaze dropped to his groin again. “Did I also misunderstand being in your bed, what you were doing in the shower, or the sounds you made at the end?”
She had spied on him.
“I have to call that friend,” Connor said, refusing to indulge her further. “You should find something to wear that covers you.”
“I don’t think you mind.”
“I don’t, but I won’t be held accountable for reacting in an unpleasant way to an arsehole move from my guest.”
Evelyn’s lips curved into a sly, sensual smile.
It was shocking.
Beautiful, but shocking.
Men may have used her for what they wanted, but he fully believed there was a part of Evelyn that was more dangerous than she let on.
“That’s a new one.”
Connor’s jaw clenched. “What is?”
“Jealousy. I’ve never had one that was jealous before.”
Perfect. Just feckin’ grand.
“I’m not … one—an owner, whatever—of those,” Connor said, more irritated than before. “You will do well to figure that out and fast, Evelyn. You will do well to stop trying to figure out what game you need to play to please me; you’re not here for that.”
“Then why am I here?”
Honesty was the best policy …
“I don’t know yet.”
He finished getting dressed, and the whole time, Evelyn never left him in private. As he passed her by to make that phone call and get something to eat for breakfast, her soft voice stopped him again.
“But why don’t you touch me?” she asked. “Even those who were not terrible, still wanted that from me.”
Connor looked down at her, and found she was watching him, curious and unashamed. “I told you why, love. It’s not for me to take, and if you want that, then you can ask for it.”
“I don’t understand, and I’m not sure what to do or how to act for you, if you want nothing from me. I’m not sure who to be here.”
“That’s a sad idea, isn’t it? That you have to be something at all, and not just a person, a woman.”
Her gaze dropped. “I don’t know anything different.”
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to three young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.
To keep up-to-date with new releases from Bethany-Kris, sign up to her New Release Newsletter here:http://eepurl.com/bf9lzD
It’s the start of nothing good.
I fired off a storm of raunchy text messages…to the wrong number.
And he replied.
Him: Show me a picture.
Him: Tell me your name.
Why does the lure of anonymity have me craving to indulge a stranger?
It’s the start of everything right.
I received a slew of text messages…when everything in my life was wrong.
And she made me laugh again.
Her: You’re probably a creeper.
Her: Possibly a stalker.
Why do I have the overwhelming need to find this stranger who saved me and make her mine?
Him: Take a chance with me.
Her: This is crazy.
Him: I need to see you.
Her: What are we doing?
Him: We’re about to find out.
Her: PHOTO ATTACHED
Him: PHOTO ATTACHED
About K. Webster
K Webster is the author of dozens romance books in many different genres including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. When not spending time with her husband of twelve years and two adorable children, she’s active on social media connecting with her readers.
Her other passions besides writing include reading and graphic design. K can always be found in front of her computer chasing her next idea and taking action. She looks forward to the day when she will see one of her titles on the big screen.
You can easily find K Webster on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads!
Creative designer, mother, wife, writer, part time superhero…
J.D. Hollyfield is a creative designer by day and superhero by night. When she is not trying to save the world one happy ending at a time, she enjoys the snuggles of her husband, son and three doxies. With her love for romance, and head full of book boyfriends, she was inspired to test her creative abilities and bring her own story to life.
Life in a Rut, Love not Included is her Debut Novel. J.D. Hollyfield lives in the Midwest, and is currently at work on blowing the minds of readers, with the additions of her new books and series, along with her charm, humor and HEA’s.
Do you have a love for romance stories? Included in this anthology are stories that will have you intrigued; make you swoon; all the while warming your heart.
Fifteen SBR Media authors present to you: A Love for Romance.
♡A preview of Trading Yesterday by USA Today Bestselling Author Kahlen Aymes
♡ The Break (Breaking Free, Part 1) by USA Today Bestselling Author Debra Presley
♡ Always Too Late by Micalea Smeltzer
♡ Until the Stars Forget to Shine by Amber Garza
♡ The Only Chance by Magan Vernon
♡ Awakened: A Leila Marx World Novella by Amber Garr
♡ Do You Mind? by Freya Barker
♡ Cock-Blocked by W. Ferraro
♡ What Happens on Spring Break by R.C. Stephens
♡ Always There by Elizabeth Hayes
♡ Falling for Lindy by Ashlee Taylor
♡ Burning the Midnight Oil by Elison Grace
♡ Babysitting for the Biker by Sammi Starlight
♡ Chasing Love by Misha Elliott ♡ Spellbound by Ashlee Sinn
*** NOTE *** After you pre-order A Love for Romance fill out this form to receive SEVEN books free! That’s 22 books for $0.99! *The seven free books are available for pre-orders only. Offer ends April 23, 2017. I pre-ordered → http://bit.ly/2mm0y5y
Nikki Jennings is dancing her way into the big time. She has gone from a shy, small town girl to a New York City Ballet star. She had everything to offer the world and she was taking it by storm.
Chase Harding is a cocky jock that has always gotten exactly what he’s wanted. Most recently, the rookie spot on his dream hockey team. He has everything he could ever want until he meets Nikki. She won’t give him the time of day. He won’t take no for an answer.
Will Chase be able to score the v-card of his latest prospect or is he going to shoot and miss for the first time in his life?
I saw her and my world stopped dead in an instant. Everything around me faded to black as I got lost in her from afar.
She was sitting alone in the corner of the coffee shop, biting her lower lip as she read from the yellowing pages of a book with a broken spine and a tattered cover. Her face was soft and full of anticipation as the pages flipped by, and I craved to know what part she was on as she read from my favorite book.
I was hooked.
I was mesmerized.
She was mine. Already.She just doesn’t know it yet.
And I didn’t even know her name.
A minor detail.
“Chase?” Hannah nudged my elbow from the opposite side of the table we occupied like we had every weekend for the last few weeks.
“Huh?” My eyes snapped to my sister as she stole me away from daydreaming about the gorgeous brunette I craved to know.
“Are you going to be able to go home for Thanksgiving?” she asked, frustration lacing her tone.
I shook my head. “Not with the schedule we have.” Our family was incredibly close and I knew it was going to break my mom’s and sister’s hearts that I wasn’t going to be able to make it home for the holidays this year, but that was part of the sacrifice I was going to have to make for my career.
My eyes continued to wander to the petite brunette. Her hair was long and it swept over her right shoulder. She was in black yoga pants and an oversized tank top cinched at her waste by a ridiculously adorable bright green fanny pack. I wondered if she had just gotten done at the gym or if she was just being comfortable on this lazy Sunday morning in the city.
My sister continued to steal my attention. “How has practice been?” Hannah was trying to keep the conversation moving and I was being a complete jerk, but I couldn’t pull away from the sheer beauty only paces away, which felt like a million miles.
I propped my head up with my hand so I could see my cute girl out of the corner of my eye while still kind of looking at Hannah. “We’ve only had a few practices but I am enjoying it and learning a lot.”
“That’s really exciting. I can’t believe my baby brother is a famous hockey star now.” She giggled a little as excitement perked the corners of her lips.
“I’m far from famous yet, sis. We’ll see what happens once the season actually starts.” I took the last sip of my black coffee, using the opportunity to catch my girl as she laughed to herself while she read. Her enjoyment was radiating sunshine as she devoured the novel.
“Whatever, you’re famous in my head. I brag about you all the time.” Hannah dramatically rolled her eyes at me before moving the conversation right along. “I had rounds with one of your teammates’ wives last night.”
I knew a lot about most of my teammates’ home lives, and none that I knew of had a wife that worked at Flushing. “Really? Who?” I asked, trying to sound more interested than I really was.
“This really sweet nurse named Karla. I obviously was bragging about you while we were in the breakroom grabbing coffee.”
I laughed. “That’s Brayden Cox’s girlfriend. They have a kid together, and they’re practically married.” I felt like a teenage girl gossiping about guys in Teen Bop, but if I could do it with anyone, it was Hannah.
Hannah shrugged. “So, yeah, his wifey. Wait, Cox? Isn’t that your all-time hero or something?”
My face got hot. “Yeah…yeah he really is. I used to wear his number in high school.”
“Well, isn’t that just the cutest thing ever.” Hannah’s pager started blaring and she shot up while checking the codes that were coming through. “Duty calls,” she huffed, throwing her purse over her shoulder.
I jumped up and pulled her in for a quick hug. “See you later, Hannah banana. Go save some lives.”
She squeezed my shoulder before turning to leave. “Bye Chase. Call me later so we can schedule another coffee date.”
My sister was great at making sure we spent time together when we could. I appreciated her wanting to hang out with me, but I was thankful in that moment to be able to focus on the adorable stranger—that was going to be rectified soon enough, soon she’d be so much more than a stranger.
Without overthinking it, I walked right over to the fading brown loveseat my girl was cuddled up on. “One of us in this very room is in fact the murderer,” I half-whispered, taking a seat in the armchair across from her. I damned the coffee table between us—just one more obstacle I was going to have to overcome to get to her.
Her round smoky eyes smoldered as they connected with mine. Without missing a beat, she retorted with, “Oh, yes. I’ve no doubt in my own mind that we have been invited here by a madman—probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic.”
The way she giggled as the words left her lips was intoxicating. It was like cupid’s arrow had struck my heart. “I’m Chase.” I reached out my hand and she took it, and the simple touch sent fire through my body.
“Nicolette, but everyone calls me Nikki. Nice to meet you, Chase.” Her smile ripped across her face and crashed into my heart. “You’re a Christie fan, I take it?”
I leaned back in the chair, trying to look relaxed even though I craved to scoop her up into my arms and never let her go ever again. “You are holding my favorite book.” I reached into the duffle bag I had packed, ready for practice later on that afternoon, and pulled out my very own copy, which was being held together with scotch tape.
Her eyes softened a bit. “Isn’t it nice when a book recommends a person?”
Susan’s Review: 4 stars
If you want insta-love with a happy ending doused in super sweetness, then this is it!
This was adorable! Chase and Nikki meet in a book store and they fall in love doing firsts in New York City. They were romantic and I loved it! I hadn’t read a book by Kristen Hope Mazzola before, but I’ll be going find her other stuff soon because her writing was easy and flowed well.
*Thanks to L. Wood PR for sharing a copy of this with me*
About the Author:
I am just an average twenty-something following my dreams. I have a full time “day job” and by night I am an author. I guess you could say that writing is like my super power (I always wanted one of those). I am the lover of wine, sushi, football and the ocean; that is when I am not wrapped up in the literary world.
Please feel free to contact me to chat about my writing, books you think I’d like or just to shoot the, well you know.
A portion of all my royalties are donated to The Marcie Mazzola Foundation.
Meet Shaw and swoon! Crenshaw Jacobson met the woman of his dreams…and he was determined to spend every night possible with her. But Waverlee Armstrong was leery of commitment, having been abandoned by her family at an early age. She knew that she loved Shaw, but can she learn to trust him and spend just one more night?
Written as part of Fiona Davenport’s Sex, Vows & Babies Kindle World.
Standalone *** Instalove *** It’s a Fun Little Novella!!
Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.
A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST
Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.
A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE
Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…
Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.
Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.
Disclaimer: This is an edgy retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
🎬 Book Trailer 🎬
~ Isabelle bravely takes her papa’s place ~
Quite a while later, as Isabelle relaxed and soaked in the hearth’s warmth, she found herself nodding off to sleep.
Her mind detached from the stress of the past few days and receded to another time and place. She recalled her journeys with Papa when she’d been little more than a girl. All the villages they’d passed through; all the faces they’d seen. She thought of reading fairy tales beneath a bejeweled sky, of leaning against a mountain of crates as Papa pointed out the constellations and their eternal stories—
Rattling seized her attention and ruptured her thoughts. She peered at Papa, who was carefully examining his teacup. Not with his sightless eyes, of course—but with wandering fingertips. The same impressive coat of arms engraved the fine proclaim; Papa ran his weathered fingers over its surface, clearly in awe of the raised gold decorations and studded gems. The thing must have cost a small fortune. Indeed, she’d never beheld such finery. Even the wares Papa had once sold paled in comparison. The faded brim of his top hat hung low and covered his glassy eyes.
Then her mouth went dry as he slipped the teacup inside his coat.
Has he gone mad—or simply grown that desperate? It was completely unlike Papa to steal. How could he—and after being shown hospitality?
Her outcry startled him.He half leapt from the chair—and Isabelle watched in horror as the teacup tumbled out from the coat. It rattled and rolled onto the stone ground, shattering into a million pieces.
A gloved hand broke through the darkness, quicker than a lightning strike. The hooded figure emerged from the shadows and seized Papa by his cravat. His other hand clasped a branch of flickering candles. The illumination flashed across the dark folds of his cloak, soaking him in a pool of light.
“Stealing from me, are you? Breaking my family’s keepsakes?” A sharp jerk forced Papa to his feet. The rough movement sent the top hat tumbling from his head and onto the stone floor. Papa’s waxen features melted into an expression of horror and confusion.
Her heart pounding, Isabelle lunged forward and frantically cried out, “Let him alone! It was an accident. Don’t you see that you’re frightening him?”
“Good.” The simple declaration threw Isabelle into stunned silence. Papa called out for her as the man strode from the sitting room, his solid legs eating up the ground in swift, decisive strides. Mon Dieu, he was physically dragging Papa through the castle.
This isn’t happening. It cannot be…
“Stop it! Stop it now—you monster!” Isabelle picked up her skirts and frantically chased after them. Parts of the castle were dark and unkempt, causing her to trip several times over wayward pieces of furniture. Her heart violently pounded in her ears. The man moved impressively fast; between his agile stride and sweeping cloak, he almost appeared to float through the corridors. Plopping onto the stone floor, his dog gave up trying to keep pace. Dust motes rose and fell in midair like ashes, obscuring her vision. She followed the branch’s illumination, watching as the candlelight threw prisms along the walls and floor.
“Please, monsieur. Have mercy, I beg you! He didn’t know any better. He’s not in his right mind. He would never—”
“No one steals from me.” His low voice echoed in the darkness, steady as a war drum.
Isabelle felt herself descending. She ducked as she crossed a low archway, where she was met with a steep flight of stairs. A mouth into Hell. The ceiling lurked unusually low and was strung with cobwebs. Isabelle hiked up her skirts, which were now a filthy mess, and raced down the decayed steps. The hooded figure kept a swift pace while she desperately pursued Papa’s frightened cries.
Plagued by the darkness, Isabelle tripped and crashed down the stone steps. Pain cascaded through her body, knocking the breath from her lungs. Her skinned knees and elbows throbbed, her heart pounded, her head burned. She spared a moment to catch her breath as she struggled to her feet and resumed her vain quest. Papa’s muffled pleas and the sound of slamming bars ripped at her very soul.
The dank dungeon was nearly black. She slowed her pace, moving toward a beam of light at the far end. Rats the size of kittens scurried across the stone floor and filled the darkness with their terrible squeaking. Her heart thudding, Isabelle rushed through the maze of cells, following Papa’s voice and that flickering light. Chains and crude-looking objects littered the ground—torture devices from a past age, she realized with a shudder.
She found them.
Papa was grasping the rusted bars; disoriented and frightened, he was murmuring incoherent pleas. Tears fell from his sightless eyes, though Isabelle knew he fought to restrain them. The branch of candles sat in front of the cell, its wavering light illuminating his terrified expression.
“Forgive me. I have wronged you when you showed my daughter and me hospitality and mercy. Please, monsieur!”
The man towered before him, silent and still. His long arms remaining crossed, he stood with his lean torso straighter than a broadsword. His hood was drawn back, though Isabelle couldn’t see his face from her angle.
“Papa, I’m here,” she said beneath the weight of a strained breath.
Not sparing a moment, she dashed over to the cell—and the man slowly rotated into sight.
Except he resembled more of a beast than any man she’d ever seen.
Isabelle clamped both hands over her mouth and forced her eyes away. The sight burned—and the inferno in his gaze only kindled that fire.
Half of his face looked monstrously twisted; charred mounds of puckered flesh distorted the features beyond any recognition, draining him of all traces of humanity. Those heaps of burned, leather-like skin gleamed and glistened in the candlelight. His hairline receded on the left side of his face and slanted high above a shriveled ear.
Under the severe scarring, his age was more or less indistinguishable—though Isabelle guessed he wasn’t a day under thirty-five.
But his eyes were breathtaking. Two brilliant sapphires. There was also a great sadness and anger in those eyes, as if he’d suffered more than his share of original sin. Alas, as she gazed into his eyes, all she saw was blue ice—an endless, arctic landscape of cold desolation.
The man turned away, appearing greatly affected by her stare, and hastily rearranged the hood. His scarred hands trembled as he smoothed down the cloak’s thick folds.
“Release him,” she demanded. “He didn’t mean any harm. I—”
“No one meddles with my family’s possessions. He can rot down here as my prisoner. He ought to count himself fortunate that I haven’t taken his hand.”
“Your prisoner? This… this is a mistake! You must believe me. He’d never—”
A deep, husky chuckle cut through her plea. “Even so.”
“Please. Just let him out.”
“It’s too late for that.” Those words seemed to speak volumes. He exhaled a long breath, and Isabelle watched as it unfurled against the darkness in a cloud.
“Why… why are you so angry? Why must you be so hateful? So cruel?”
“If I let him go,” he said at length, “what can you offer in return?” Isabelle couldn’t find her tongue. She wandered directly in front of the cell, almost in a lucid trance, and clasped the cold bars. Papa was huddled in the corner now, coughing and shivering. Guilt, unlike anything she’d known before, pulsated through her.
I’m to blame for this. And if Papa stays here, he’ll die well within a fortnight, likely much sooner…
“Get out of my sight.” The man’s voice jarred Isabelle from her inward stupor. She turned to him and stepped forward, raising her chin at a defiant angle.
I am not so easily broken or frightened.
I am a survivor.
She scanned her empty, dank surroundings: the cold stone walls, sweeping cobwebs, and blazing branch of candles. Despair encased her. Stark emptiness. She dared to step closer while a faint trace of pity bloomed inside her heart.
They stood centimeters apart. Heat radiated from the man’s body, surrounding her, immersing her. Isabelle vainly searched for softness him, but only a dark, embittered spirit reached her. She stared up at his towering frame and gestured for him to bow forward. He hesitated, then did as she commanded. Her hands shook, damn her, as she peeled back his hood and met that piercing gaze again.
Half of his face was handsome—devastatingly so. In her twenty-two years of life, she’d never beheld such haunting beauty.
Jet‑black waves, rich and flowing, framed the chiseled lines of his startling features. Stubble peppered the strong curve of his jawline and shadowed a smooth, sculpted cheekbone. The right side of his face was striking, beautiful—a stark contrast to its wrecked counterpart. And within those patrician angles and intense eyes, she encountered his humanity.
His was a face of inconsistencies. Complex. Damaged. Predatory. And more than a bit intriguing.
“I will stay with you,” she heard herself whisper. “In my father’s place.”
“Isabelle—no! I forbid it!”
The man folded long, strong arms across his broad chest. His gaze crawled down her face and settled on the rise of her breasts—planting directly on her silver cross.
“I demand he’s seen by the finest of physicians.”
“Isabelle! Listen to me! I’m an old man. I’m dying. I—”
The man’s dark, strangely erotic voice cut through the cellar, and his eyes whipped back to her own with a startling force. “As my mistress.”
“You must stay here as my mistress. For as long as I demand. Perhaps forever.”
The word rang with a note of finality.
“Please, Isabelle! I beg you. Don’t do this!”
How could I endure it?
“Do as I say and your father shall safely return home.” He waved his cloaked arms with a magician’s delicate grace. “Your father—whatever family you may have—shall want for nothing. A house, clothing, anything they require. You only need to say the word. Your father will be under my protection—under the care of nurses and physicians—until his last breath.”
Isabelle briefly recalled what—and who—was waiting for her back in Ruillé. This fate wouldn’t be much worse. This desolate castle could serve as the perfect hideout. Papa would live in France, free from Raphael’s clutches and in the hands of the world’s greatest physicians…
“How… how can I trust you?” And does he even have the wealth to uphold such a promise?
She had faith Papa would send help once his health recovered. Or she’d find a way out, means of escape. In the interim, she would survive this grim castle and whatever horrors it concealed.
Papa would not. The castle would crush him beneath its dark heel in a matter of days.
Isabelle glanced at Papa again, then stared into the man’s brilliant eyes. There, lurking within those expressive depths, she found the softness she’d pursued minutes before.
She sucked in her breath and nodded her agreement.
“It is done.” The man swept backward. “He’s to remain down here till first light. Then our agreement shall be carried out. In the meantime, I will bring blankets and food—”
“But it’s so cold! He—”
“Stole from me while he was a guest in my castle.”
He would not compromise. That much was certain.
“I demand to stay with him.”
“As you please.” He unlocked the cell. “Beyond the dungeon lies a labyrinth. Try to escape, and you’ll be lost forever.”
He tapped the wall with his booted heel. It swiveled, spun, and rotated, sweeping her captor to the other side…
~ Adam gives Isabelle his library ~
“Close your eyes, ma belle.”
Strong hands cupped either side of her face. She felt as Adam’s thumbs tentatively brushed back and forth, stroking her cheeks in reverent caresses. Isabelle shut her eyes and slipped beneath his spell… leaned closer in the darkness until they stood heartbeat to heartbeat. The warmth of his breaths teased her hairline, bringing with them a minty scent. His thumbs descended to just below her chin. She lowered her face… felt a featherlight kiss land on her brow. It happened so subtly and gently—Isabelle wasn’t sure whether she’d imagined it.
She was allowing herself to feel too much. A stab of guilt penetrated her chest as her thoughts crept inward. Yet instincts told her to trust in her gut—to allow her heart to speak over her tumultuous thoughts. So she shoved away her guilt and allowed herself to simply feel.
Pounding footfalls echoed in the room, attesting to its sheer size. Isabelle waited in anticipation under the veil of darkness, her small hands knotted in Stranger’s wiry coat. The steady beat of Adam’s boots floated away from her. A loud whipping noise and a burst of light illuminated the room as he tugged a heavy damask curtain aside.
“Open your eyes, Isabelle.”
She did as he commanded. Shafts of sunlight tore inside, dancing across the marble floor in blaring prisms—though the darkness still obstructed the room’s contents. Isabelle’s imagination soared as she fantasized about what lay in those clotted shadows. Pale light fringed Adam’s formidable shape, contrasting his silhouette against the dim atmosphere.
He paused in front of the opened window and folded both arms behind his ramrod-straight back. Isabelle gazed at the line of his body, unable to tear her eyes away. Indeed, light from the window set him aglow, shrouding him in a cloak of gold. He wore black trousers and a white silk shirt, which fluttered lightly when he moved. Over the past several days, he’d made a habit of abandoning the cloak and hood. Isabelle had become accustomed to the mismatched sides of his face; where she once felt horror and revulsion, she now tingled with curiosity and budding admiration. Alas, the only true revulsion that remained was the memory of that night…
Adam was an undeniably prideful man, and she knew he’d only scorn her pity. Even his stance exuded a sense of importance and authority. Strange, how he was so often shy and almost childlike; then, as if by a flip of a coin, he’d turn regal, confident. It was as though he was battling two separate halves… as if an intricate part of himself kept fighting to emerge.
Not unlike the two contrasting sides of his face, Isabelle mused.
For a suspended moment, he stood in front of the conservatory window, his scarred hands planted on his lean hips as he surveyed the distant gardens. Then he crossed the room, his footfalls amplified by the medallion flooring, and thrust open another curtain.
Whoosh. Light flooded the space and chased away the shadows, and the room’s contents were ushered into view.
Isabelle nearly lost her breath at the sight.
It was a beautiful library—the most stunning sight she’d ever beheld. Ornate, intricately carved shelves towered against the painted walls and reached for a gilded ceiling. A baroque chandelier hung in the heart of the room; its crystals sparkled like diamonds as they drank in morning’s light. Isabelle fought to temper her racing heart as she gaped at the sweeping shelves. An intimate reading nook lined a curved window; lush pillows decorated the chaise, and a brass candelabra towered beside it.
In all her life, she’d never seen so many books. There were far too many to count. Too many books to read in one lifetime. Isabelle couldn’t help but think of the little storekeeper from Ruillé’s bookshop; she imagined his astonishment, how his bushy white brows would rise at the sight of Adam’s vast library. He’d run his wrinkled fingertips over the bindings and spines, reverently caressing each one. Her heart twisted with nostalgia at the thought of her former home. Once Raphael had entered her life, however, Ruillé had transformed into a prison.
This castle should have been just that. A jail cell. Yet she’d never felt more free than in that moment.
The library was larger than her whole cottage; several book-filled rooms connected to it, each one built with floor-to-ceiling shelves. Three sliding ladders were nestled against the circular walls, soaring to the very top of the domed ceiling.
She spun on her heels, twirling in place—watching as the immense collection flurried by in a fantastic mosaic of colorful spines and intricate woodwork.
Her eyes planted on Adam, who stood in front of the large row of glowing, arched windows. His arms were still folded behind his body, his sleek back straighter than an arrow. She couldn’t find her voice, couldn’t move forward, although she ached to reach out and embrace his solid body.
How would it feel to be enveloped inside that commanding strength?
A devastating smile spread across his misshapen features and cut her thought short. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, which was highlighted by the sun’s rays, and then hesitantly strode toward her. His boots rapped against the floor, and the sound swelled through the library. Stranger barked as he approached, the loud noise echoing in the room and jarring Isabelle from her trance.
“Do… do you like it?”
Finally he stood before her, silent and still. Isabelle inhaled a long breath, then laid her palm on the left side of his face. Her fingertips danced over the raised ridges and welts, the reddish scars and shriveled ear. His eyes shuttered closed, and she felt a shudder rake through his tense body.
“Yes. I love it.” And I’m starting to fall in love with you, too…
🌹Meet the Author🌹
Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of fourteen years. She enjoys writing poignant romances that challenge the reader’s emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.
Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel’s passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.
Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.
Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.
Don’t be a stranger! Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers:
Falling in love with a man half my age changed my life.
Chase makes everything easier, brighter, better.
Together, we can conquer anything.
Until Daniel comes back.
At first it seems seamless.
But nothing is easy when you love two men.
Two incredible men.
I would die for him,
Will love him until my final breath.
After all, he is my son, my one and only,
Even if I want to wring his neck.
Where I see perfection, he only sees complications,
Of loving Chase.
He doesn’t understand – can’t understand.
It drives a wedge between us and into my heart.
How can I create harmony among two grown men,
When one of them is acting like a baby?
Head over to Bree Dahlia’s Facebook page to enter the Release Day Giveaway!
Bree Dahlia is an unconventional romance junkie. She loves reading it but adores writing it even more. Her stories range from lighthearted to sizzling with that satisfying Happily Ever After ending and a touch of the unexpected. She favors themes of friendship, forgiveness, and unconditional love with alpha characters and eccentric tastes.
She holds degrees that she does nothing with and has experienced a long string of jobs that have left her unfulfilled. Only as an author, has she truly found her passion. When not crafting stories in her small Wisconsin town, she hikes unbeaten trails, watches hockey games, and wishes she didn’t detest cooking so much.
Dahlia is her middle name. Her last name is more suitable for a horror writer.
Hiring my brother’s best friend was not on my to-do list.
Neither was he.
Expanding my dirty cocktail bar into food was supposed to be easy, except finding a chef in my little town of Whiskey Key is anything but.
Until Parker Hamilton comes home—bringing his Michelin starred chef’s hat with him.
He has no work. I need someone like him in my new kitchen.
There’s just one problem: I hate his cocky, filthy-mouthed, sexy-as-hell guts.
Even if I might want him. Just a little…
Working for my best friend’s sister? Not on my to-do list.
She’s another story.
Whiskey Key was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, except I haven’t reached the heights I have by lying in a hammock drinking cocktails. So when Raven Archer is desperate for a chef, I offer up my skills.
I’m bored. She needs what I can give her.
Except there’s a problem: I’ve always hated her.
Her and her big, blue eyes, sassy mouth, and killer curves.
By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies—usually wine—and writes books.
Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.
She likes to be busy—unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.