Category Archives: Blurb
Posted by Book Loving Pixies
New York Times and USA Today bestseller Julie Ann Walker delivers red-hot romantic suspense in Fuel for Fire!
Dagan Zoelner has always had his eye on spunky CIA agent Chelsea Duvall. When a mission throws them together, this could be his only chance to win her heart for good.
Dagan Zoelner has made three huge mistakes
The first two left blood on his hands.
The third left him wondering…what if?
What if he had told the woman of his dreams how he felt before his world fell apart?
Spitfire CIA agent Chelsea Duvall has always had a thing for bossy, brooding Dagan. It’s just as well that he’s never given her a second look, since she carries a combustible secret about his past that threatens to torch their lives…
Tell us!” Surry demanded again, giving her head a hard shake. Her brain banged around inside her skull, making her see stars. Since she was tied with a length of electrical cord to one of the chairs in front of Morrison’s desk, her hands duct-taped behind her back, there was little she could do to defend herself.
Then again, she still had her smart mouth. “Screw you, buddy,” she snarled. Those three words were all she allowed herself before she clenched her teeth and sealed her lips shut.
The violence that clouded Surry’s face and glinted in his hell-black eyes made her want to curl into a protective ball. He leaned down so that his nose was an inch from hers. His hot breath smelled of coffee and buttered croissants, and the thought of him actually eating struck her as weird. She had assumed he sustained himself by devouring the souls of Morrison’s enemies.
“You will bloody well tell us what we want to know, Miss Duvall.” When he spoke all low and menacing in that thick English accent, she got the unsettling feeling that something dark moved in the shadows just out of sight. “Or I will jab this letter opener into your carotid.” He pulled back to wield the weapon he had taken from Morrison’s desktop. The sterling-silver letter opener glinted in the golden glow cast by the overhead chandelier.
Releasing her face, Surry cocked his head. “So, what shall it be? The truth? Or the knife? The choice is yours.” There was an emptiness in his voice when he asked the questions. Like he didn’t really care what the answers would be. Like he was tired or bored or maybe…resigned?
Oh, that doesn’t bode well.
Of course, the truth was out of the question. She would never rat on the Black Knights. No telling what Morrison, a.k.a Spider, with all his power and connections, could do with that information. So that left…the knife.
But there’s still so much I want to do!
She had never learned to make her mother’s she-crab soup. She had never tried her hand at writing fiction like that of Tolkien or Rowling or Martin. She had never married the love of her life and given him two bouncing, chubby-cheeked babies.
A cold finger of terror dragged up her spine, and for a second she considered spilling her guts and saving her hide. But then, from somewhere deep inside, a well of strength erupted, filling her with determination and the will to do what must be done.
Her mind briefly touched on her mother, and a great sadness weighed down her heart. Grace Duvall would be devastated by the death of her only child. But Chelsea took comfort—cold comfort, but comfort all the same—in knowing that her life insurance policy would be enough to pay her mother’s debts. That was something. Something to hold on to.
“Well?” Surry demanded. “What will it be?”
Chelsea licked her lips. Fear was a living thing inside her, crawling through her chest like a centipede on prickly legs. She squashed it and sealed her own fate. “Do your worst, you sorry, low-life sonofagun!”
Surry’s beard-stubbled chin jerked back as if he couldn’t believe the choice she’d made. Then his eyes narrowed, and grim determination transformed his face.
Closing her eyes, Chelsea waited on the inevitable. That centipede was going crazy inside her, making her chest ache and raising the hair on her head. She braced herself for the deathblow as a million regrets, a million joys, a million memories flittered through her brain.
Funny how many of those regrets and joys and memories feature Dagan.
She held her breath, savoring it, knowing it was her last and—
“Drop. The. Knife.”
With a cry, she blinked open her eyes and craned her head around to see three figures dressed from head to toe in black. Each of them wielded a weapon as if it were an extension of himself.
The Black Knights…
Even had Dagan not spoken the three most beautiful words she’d ever heard in that smooth moonshine voice, she would have known the trio anywhere. There was no mistaking those broad shoulders or those defiant, cocksure stances.
Her eyes homed in on Dagan. He was in the middle and slightly forward of the other two. It wasn’t his height or carriage that gave him away. It was his stillness. Ace and Christian seemed to vibrate with barely leashed power. But Dagan was a statue. Not a muscle quivered. Not a tendon or ligament cracked. Chelsea was reminded of a pair of tectonic plates under intense pressure. She knew what came next. The earth would rip open, and hell would spew forth.
Surry must have felt the doom behind Dagan’s stillness, because his voice sounded wheezy when he demanded, “And who the fuck are you?”
“Worry less about who we are,” Dagan snarled, “and more about what we’ll do if you don’t drop the knife.”
Proving he had more balls than brains, Surry spun Chelsea’s chair around and palmed her forehead to wrench her head back. The sharp tip of the letter opener nicked at the skin pulsing over the large vein in her neck. She hadn’t had time to scream, and now she didn’t dare breathe.
“Ring up the police, sir,” Surry said. From the corner of her eye, Chelsea saw Morrison/Spider make a move toward the desk.
“Take one step in the direction of that phone, and you’ll be eating a bullet for breakfast.” There was no mistaking Dagan’s words or his tone. He meant what he said.
Morrison must have come to the same realization. The old man stopped in his tracks.
“Good man,” Dagan acknowledged. “Now, there’s one thing you both need to understand. We’re leaving here with Chelsea. That can be over your dead bodies or your live ones.” Even though his words were calm and his body as motionless as a mountain, rage burned inside him. It was there in his eyes, glowing red like the fires of Mordor. “So what will it be? The choice is yours.”
It was the same option Surry had given her, spoken in the same words. How long had the three of them been outside listening?
“You have no bloody idea who you’re fucking with,” Morrison snarled, his chest heaving with every furious breath. “I have—”
That’s all he managed. In a flash, the statue, a.k.a. Dagan Zoelner, came to life. He moved faster than the human eye could follow, certainly faster than Chelsea could track with her head angled back in Surry’s grip. One second he was staring at her and Surry, and the next he aimed at Morrison and pulled his trigger.
The gunshot was oddly muffled and Morrison stumbled back, hitting his hip on the edge of the desk. Surry bellowed his outrage and released her head. Free from his brutal grip, she turned to Morrison and understood the strangeness of the weapon’s sound.
It wasn’t a bullet that had exploded from the end of Dagan’s gun. It was a dart. She had just enough time to catch a glimpse of the fuzzy yellow end protruding from the center of Morrison’s chest before Dagan fired again. This time the dart whizzed over her head. Surry made an awful gurgling noise. When she pulled her chin back, she saw the projectile sticking from his neck.
He reached for the dart, stumbling into her chair. His hand hit the back of her head, looking for leverage and forcing her chin into her chest as every vertebra in her neck threatened to crack under the pressure. She couldn’t see what happened next. But she heard it. Heard the boots that pounded against the tiles as the Black Knights raced into the room.
Surry released her head when Christian tackled him. From the corner of her eye, she watched Ace catch Morrison right before the old man toppled face-first onto the floor. And Dagan? Well, Dagan knelt in front of her.
She gasped when his big, warm hands cupped her cheeks, gently lifting her head. Her neck ached, but it wasn’t broken. All her fingers and toes still worked when she gave them an experimental wiggle.
“Chels… Christ. Are you okay?” His stormy eyes searched her face.
She nodded her head. That’s all she could manage because a giant lump was centered in her throat. She had put on a brave face throughout the entire ordeal, but now that it looked like she was saved, all her shock and terror rose to the surface, crumbling her mask of courage.
“Thank God.” He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close.
It was the first time he had hugged her. The first time she had been in his arms. Oh, how she wanted to hold him tight in return. But with her hands still trapped behind her back, the only thing she could do was turn her face into his warm neck and breathe him in.
She had always loved the way he smelled. A mixture of worn leather, dryer sheets, and shampoo. All clean and healthy and…male.
“I was afraid m-maybe I didn’t press the button long enough to send out the Mayday,” she said in a rush, her lips moving against the rough fabric of his ski mask. “And th-then they found the thumb drive. But they were so quick to stop questioning me and…and…” She had to stop. “Thank you. Thank you for coming for me.”
His wide palm cupped the back of her head, holding her close. Was it trembling? “Always, Chels. Never doubt it.”
Oh great. Now the lump in her throat had grown to the size of a Carolina pine.
She wanted the moment to last forever, to stay just like this, safe in his arms. But all too soon, he pulled back. “What were you thinking, telling them to do their worst? You were baiting them, egging them on. You stupid, stubborn, self-sacrificing fool.”
And just like that, happiness and relief morphed into incredulity that slid quick as a whistle into anger. Seriously? He was going to stand there—er, squat there—and call her names?
He may be hotter than the door handles of hell, but when he gets all Me Tarzan, You Jane, I want to dump his limp body in the River Thames and feed him to the fishes. After she’d killed him with mind-blowing sex and multiple orgasms, natch. And she could probably cop to his last two accusations. She was stubborn, and in that instant she had been willing to sacrifice herself. But the first one?
“S-stupid?” she sputtered. And good news! The lump in her throat vanished. “Screw you, Dagan! In case you’ve forgotten, I pulled off this op w-with…”
She stumbled to a stop because he’d ripped off his mask. And there it was. The Beard.
Looking at him dressed all in black, shoulders as broad as the Lowcountry, she couldn’t help but think he resembled a god. One of the mythical beings she read about in her fantasy novels. Formidable. Powerful. Gorgeous.
And here I am, a mere mortal.
The look he pinned on her was one she recognized. She liked to call it his Clint Eastwood gunfighter squint. He tended to whip it out right before he laid into her for something. She braced herself, mentally running through her standard list of comebacks. But he didn’t give her a tongue-lashing. At least not a verbal one. Instead, he took her face in his hands and sealed his lips to hers.
She was so surprised that her mouth formed a startled O. Dagan took advantage, his tongue surging between her teeth. His lips were firm yet amazingly soft, and his beard abraded the tender flesh of her cheeks.
Holy mother! Dagan Zoelner was…kissing her!
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Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of award-winning romantic suspense. She has won the Book Buyers Best Award, been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award. Her latest release was named a Top Ten Romance of 2014 by Booklist. Her books have been described as “alpha, edgy, and downright hot.” Most days you can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.
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Posted by Book Loving Pixies
A Warrior’s Claiming
The Instinct Book #3
Two barbarians, one stubborn assassin, and a strange connection that they’ll need to use if they have any hope of saving the planet from an offworlder threat.
A WARRIOR’S CLAIMING, the third in The Instinct series, is now available! It’s a stand-alone novella, but it also builds on what’s occurred in the other Instinct books.
Arghet doesn’t know what to make of the new addition to the clan. Skehl is huge, an indomitable warrior with a berserker’s power.
Once part of a hated enemy clan, he’s watched carefully. Somehow Arghet finds himself having to look after the beast. He has more important things to do than care for a troubled male. He’s doing his best to track down the strange female who stole his kill not long ago.
But when he finally finds her, Arghet learns he’s no longer the hunter, but the hunted. And that Skehl is much more than the quiet, subdued warrior he once seemed…
Then what Talzec said penetrated.
“Since when is Skehl my warrior?” Arghet asked.
Talzec shrugged. “He seems most comfortable with you and Lore. But with Mandy breeding and unable to attend, Lore and Zhen will remain here, in the village.”
Arghet swore. “What am I to do with him?” They both turned to see Skehl sitting by one of the females, holding a skein of wool while she manipulated it. “He’s a lump. He barely speaks. And when he does, he makes little sense. The only thing he’s good for is training, and that’s only when he feels like it.” Only when Arghet tasked him to battle. Skehl had a tendency to ignore the other warriors, which didn’t put him in their high esteem.
Then there was the matter of the male’s eye mark, the one so like the female who’d stolen Arghet’s kill.
The damned female refused to leave his mind’s eye. Long black hair, purple eyes, and full lips complemented a face many would consider beautiful. Hell, he considered her striking. That she’d moved liked a warrior and wielded a blade had both captivated and angered him. She’d moved with grace and skill, then stolen his victory. Yet for all her barbarian airs, she hadn’t worn a loincloth or breast sash. She’d had on offworlder gear—black trousers and a black shirt and boots.
And that marker on under her left eye had blazed red while she’d stared at him, the same way Skehl’s had a tendency to glow when the big bastard watched Arghet.
It meant something. He knew it. But he was hesitant to mention it to Talzec, and he didn’t understand his reticence.
“Help our new brother, Arghet. From what I’ve gathered, Skehl was raised as a part of their clan, though he’s clearly not Nasuhl-born. His life cannot have been an easy one.” Talzec knew that of which he spoke. His first mate had been Nasuhl, an abused female who should have been treasured by her alpha—her own brother. Instead, he’d killed her. And Talzec had avenged her in a brutally efficient way.
Arghet respected his alpha, comfortable to serve a leader with so much power. Phelthar—the energy that connected a warrior to the life all around him, to the planet itself, was strong in Talzec. There could be no mistaking the Maker’s pleasure with such a great leader. Because of this, Arghet would handle his misgivings about Skehl and the female. And he’d watch the giant closely.
At that moment, Skehl shifted his attention to Arghet and simply stared.
You do anything to harm my clan, and I’ll take your head from your neck, then carve you into pieces.
The marker on Skehl’s face glowed red. He gave no sign of interest before looking back at the maffet wool in his hands.
“Yes,” Talzec murmured, looking from Skehl to Arghet. “I think you’re exactly the warrior I need to keep our newest clanmate in line.”
BLP REVIEW ~ Tracy
The third book in The Instinct series was as hot, sexy and action packed as I’ve come to expect with this series from Marie Harte.
I loved the sweetness and honesty of the relationship between Arghet and Skehl but also the connection and intensity of the relationship between the triad – wouldn’t I love to be the snarky ninja filling to that big warrior sandwich!
A Warrior’s Claiming was fun and sexy, with a touch of mystery, a lot of suspense, action and adventure.
Normally I can enjoy a read like this for what’s written on the page but, whether it was MS’s intention or not, this book left me thinking about more than the storyline for a while after. There’s an element of the book that I think ties the fiction to reality and makes you think about the actions of men here in the real work on earth… You’ll hopefully understand when you hit that section of the book – maybe then this will make sense?
We caught up with previous characters and met some who I hope we learn more of in future books in the series.
4.5* warrior worthy stars!
About the Series
In the future, Earth isn’t the only inhabitable planet anymore. The resort on planet Ussed is a tourist attraction known far and wide throughout the galaxies. It’s a pleasure haven, home of beautiful people, flora, fauna, and fascinating vistas–the most intriguing being the barbarians who work as security for the resort. There’s a treaty keeping the tourists and the natives separate. Until the barbarians realize the women of Earth might just be worth breaking a few treaties for.
Other books in the series
A Civilized Mating (book #1)
If one barbarian is lethal, two are even more dangerous…in bed
Earther Skye Jones arrives to rescue her friend from a kidnapping, knowing she’ll be throwing away her chances of a dream job on planet Ussed. But with her skills, she doesn’t anticipate being captured by a group of the lethal barbarians. Or that she’ll fall for the sexy squad leader. If that weren’t bad enough, she’s brought back to their encampment, where she meets their clan leader, yet another hulking warrior that sets her blood afire.
When the mating instinct takes over, Skye finds herself with not just one, but two bed partners. Her life isn’t meant to be lived among the uncivilized. Or is it? Before she can decide what she wants, the choice is taken out of her hands by an enemy clan. And if she’s not careful, she’ll lose a lot more than a stubborn heart.
A M/M/F bisexual, menage romance.
Zhen and Lore have bonded, but they’re in need of female to complete them. When they see Mandy, they know. She’s the one. But the stubborn human female needs some persuading. And some saving, since she’s got humans and a rival clan after her. With time not on their side, Zhen and Lore must convince Mandy that she belongs with them. And that if she’ll let herself, she’ll find acceptance in the arms of not just one, but two barbarians who have nothing but love to give.
A M/M/F bisexual, menage romance.
About the Author:
Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after.
Award-winning author Marie has been writing professionally since 2005. She’s both a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author and has written over 100 books and counting. Marie writes books with heat, humor, and character. She writes independently and for several publishers, to include Sourcebooks and Samhain. Though currently writing contemporary romance, she also writes paranormal and romantic suspense. Before turning to writing full-time, she earned a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and spent several years in the United States Marine Corps as a communications officer.
The Facts According to Marie:
- I’m a mood reader. If I read a book with a bad ending, it throws me into a funk for days.
- If it’s paranormal, I’m digging it.
- I majored in English and have yet to read Jane Austen. Seriously. *I hang my head in shame*
- I’m naturally lazy but perform best under deadlines.
- I’ve fired a 9mm pistol, a Squad Automatic Weapon, an M16A2 rifle, an M203 grenade launcher, and have thrown live grenades. And I loved it!
- Grammar is my rock. I respect those who know when to use their, there, and they’re correctly.
- I’m definitely a night owl.
- Long live the Oxford comma.
- I love books. I’ll read until they bury me, and then I’ll haunt libraries.
- I can’t write to music or television. I need perfect quiet.