Summer is the perfect season for reading. Whether it’s in the shade of your favorite tree or by the pool where splashes barely register in your ears as a hot romance takes you far, far away. In the middle of gathering bathing suits, towels and sunscreen, I’ve also filled my Kindle to bursting with goodness!
Would you like some help filling your own TBR pile?
Starting today, I’m going to be sharing an excerpt and giving away a .pdf copy of one of my books on each of my Wednesday blogs throughout the summer.
All you have to do is comment with your e-mail address by midnight for a chance to win and if I choose your name I’ll have your copy in your inbox the next day.
We’ll start with UNFORGIVEN, a vampire romance…
Dillon watched as the petite girl stalked around the edges of the vampire hive he’ddiscovered last night near the border of Arkansas. He’d lived long enough to know sizewasn’t everything. She was obviously young. She was obviously outnumbered. She wasobviously a killer of the highest caliber.He could see it in the steel-muscled glide of her movements. His vampire eyes hadno trouble zeroing in on that slide beneath her skin … particularly when she wore nothingbut a tank and low-slung jeans. For a brief second, he was distracted by whateverprovidence had allowed him to live long enough to see hip-hugger fashions again, by thatsweet curve of a female’s back just above her bottom and below her waist. When he’dbeen alive, it had taken all of fifteen or twenty minutes to get through petticoats, corset,bustle and bloomers to have a gander at that curve. Now, he could go to any mall atmidnight and see hundreds of versions of it from pale to tan to Nubian.The proliferation didn’t make this particular spot on this particular girl any lessalluring. Neither did her stalking.Dillon swallowed. Like calls to like, and he found his own predatory instincts rising.He tamped them down to a controllable burn. If he was right, this hive was a big one. Hisheart felt the call of a powerful queen, and though he found himself immune to any otherqueen’s thrall—thus far—her call did sing in his veins.This girl looked strong. She looked like she knew what she was doing. Still, if shecould have heard the queen as he did, she’d be looking around for back up.Dillon flicked away the useless butt of a burned out cigarette and rose from hisobservatory crouch. He wasn’t exactly the Lone Ranger. He’d never worn a white hat, noteven when he’d been alive. He was no hero, but, he figured, beggars couldn’t be choosers.This young woman would be begging for help before the night was done if he didn’t helpher … and maybe even if he did.*Jade’s first purchase after stepping foot on American soil had been an I-pod. Hermaster had allowed music, and she had grown to love it at a very early age. Now, shepared ancient fighting techniques with the rhythm of emo-punk blaring in her ears, and itwas good.Though her hands, face, arms and legs were soon coated with grimy, sticky ash, themusic was a buffer. It dulled their screams. It muffled their cries. Seeing the writhing,dissolving, disintegrating corpses was enough. Feeling their remains settle on her skin,threatening to soak into her pores, was enough. She didn’t need to hear their final calls.She didn’t want to.She cranked the volume louder as she spun to meet the next wave only to catchherself with an odd stutter-step that would have made a wading crane look graceful,knobby knees and all.He was a blur of black leather, worn jeans and hair so blond that it looked almostwhite in the moonlight. He took down the attacking vampires with a dance more fluid anddeadly than any she’d ever seen. She blinked and strained her eyes to catch glimpses ofhim between his blurs of movement. There, then there, it was as if he staged a dramaticpause here, then there, then there again, in order to introduce himself to her strainingsenses.And, it was dramatic.Like a matador striking a pose after a particularly violent pass of the bull, he wouldtake a vampire out in a blur, and then his body would pause faster than humanly possible.His coat swirled around his hips because the fabric couldn’t stop its momentum.Jade watched, stunned, as he took the rest of the hive in that way. Blur-stop-swirl,blur-stop-swirl… until, no creature was left standing save for him and her.Now, she had the benefit of a longer pause to examine her unasked for ally. He stoodin the moonlight, straight, tall and proud. She could see the pride in the way he squaredhis shoulders, in the way he planted his feet and placed his hands on his hips. He hadtaken down twenty vampires in less than five minutes. He should be proud.Except, he was a vampire himself.She knew it even though she saw sparkling sanity in his eyes. No human could movethat fast. No human had such perfect porcelain skin. For that matter, she’d never seen ahuman male stalk toward her with such a predatory stride.Jade didn’t have time to act on the revelation because more vampires began to flowfrom the loading docks of the abandoned factory. As if she had stirred a giant anthill witha stick, more and more deathly pale monsters poured forth. Tens turned to hundreds, andeven though her uninvited assistant began dusting them right and left with more speedand less panache, she knew the tide had turned.Her stakes, all her hard-earned skills, couldn’t possibly take out so many.Just then, a flicker of light caught her attention. The factory was on fire. She had toturn away too quickly to see more. In a blur, she took down several vampires using herstakes to pierce three long-dead hearts. As she whirled to face more fiends, she saw theflames had grown but not enough. An inferno would be necessary to annihilate the armyof vampires that still flowed from the building in a steady stream.She didn’t know how the fire had started. Surely, the vampire helping her hadn’t…She didn’t know how it had started, but she did know they needed it to be much,much hotter. They would need a firestorm to cleanse this cursed ground, an explosion.Several hundred yards away, her jeep sat with two large canisters of gasolinestrapped to its luggage rack. She had intended to use them later, for clean up after thekilling.Jade didn’t stop to think. She simply ran. Feet light, knees high, arms pumping—thevampires would have been faster, but they were becoming crazed and disoriented by theflames, by the sight of their refuge burning down.She only had to kill two on her way to the jeep. Then, she was behind the wheel. Shecranked the engine, hard and fast, and released the brake. She slammed her entire weighton the gas as if one hundred and ten pounds of muscle and sinew would help the vehiclego faster.Her ear buds had long since fallen around her neck. She doubted if even heavy metalwould have drowned out the screams, thuds and cracking glass as she drove throughdozens of vampires to get the gas within reach of the hungry flames.Using an old loading ramp, she drove … no, she flew up and into the factory as allfour tires left the ground. She only knew she’d been air born when the jeep came backdown, painfully jarring every bone in her body with the impact.She didn’t have time for pain.Before the jeep rolled to a stop, she was out the door, running for the only break shecould see in the wall of fire surrounding her.The “whump” came much sooner than she’d expected. She hadn’t run far when theexplosion knocked her off her feet. The heat of it caused her skin to feel tingling andtight. She got back to her feet and ran further, putting more distance between herself andthe conflagration.Very few vampires remained, and they didn’t stand a chance.He took them out as she caught her breath. Easy, quick, graceful, he became a staronce more. Jade breathed in and out, steadying breaths, as the last vampire fell, or almostthe last one.One still stood.In the nights to come, she would look back on this moment and wonder why shedidn’t stake him. She would wonder even though secret whispers in her heart of heartsalready knew the answer. Those whispers would murmur “moonlight,” “handsome devil”and “spellbound” in private moments, in hidden dreams when she couldn’t guard againstthem.For now, she only knew that, when his lips moved, she didn’t place her stake in hisheart. Instead, she placed her hand on the volume control of her Mp3 player to mute thefaint buzz of music rising from the fallen buds.”I could ask ‘What’s a girl like you doing in a hell hole like this’, but I already knowthe answer to that.” His gaze went from hers to her stakes and back again, quick, coy andflirtatious. Did he want to be staked? Did he flirt with her or her killing wood?Jade dropped back and crouched down, bringing two stakes up at the ready preparedfor his attack, but he didn’t.He didn’t attack, but he didn’t pause again either. He continued to stalk toward her,and the moonlight was his spotlight. Its pale glow caressed the shadows and planes of hisperfectly angular face, and it illuminated his eyes. His eyes were predatory and hungry,but they weren’t mad. She saw the glitter of reason in their pale blue depths, and it wasmore frightening to face than madness.He was a monster, and he knew it.Yet, he approached her with a smile beginning to tilt his lips.She was so struck by the look in his eyes and by the smoky, rich tones in his voicethat she didn’t realize he had continued to move forward until one of her stakes waspressed between his chest and hers.Never let them get this close, the Angel of Death had said.As she tilted her chin to meet the vampire’s gaze, she understood Death’s warning.This was too close. He was too close, and he knew she thought so. One pale, blond browcrooked over one wicked eye as if he enjoyed the suspense of wondering what she woulddo about it. Was he courting her or her stakes?For the first time, Jade thought her master might have been right. Perhaps she wastoo young and too inexperienced to leave Haven. This vampire’s game was making herskin flush, her heart beat faster, and her breath come quicker across her slightly partedlips.Just as she moistened them, his gaze dropped, and he tilted his head as if the pinkflash of her tongue fascinated him.”It’s obvious you know your business,” he continued, looking from her lips to hereyes to her cheeks to her hair as if he took in everything about her with his perusal as hespoke. “I watched you ash ten or twelve before I joined in.””Why?” Jade asked, though she should have been fighting him not having aconversation with a monster lit by moonlight.His laughter rang out, filling the stillness around them and keeping the shadows atbay. It was as rich as his voice, and the vibrato of it sent tremors to her toes.”Why did I watch you, or why did I join in? Darlin’, I’ve not met a man in my entireexistence who wouldn’t want to watch you. You move as if life was a dance, all rollinghips and graceful curves. I could watch you ’til the sun came up and then risk the burn towatch you some more.”He was smiling again, and only a hint of white fang kept her focused on what hewas. The singsong drawl of his compliment soaked easily into ears unused to any sort ofcompliments at all.”As for my joining in, I know my business as well. This is what I do.” He motionedto the disintegrating forms around their feet.Jade struggled to regain her equilibrium. She was practically standing in a vampire’sarms, and parts of her were actually enjoying it. He wasn’t just sentient. He was a silvertongueddevil, and she knew his charm was as much of a threat as his fangs, if not more.She didn’t understand this game he played or why he chose to play it with her.Fangs she could fight and had many times. The glitter in his eyes, the wicked smileon his lips, the charm, she’d never been trained to face those weapons.”Why are you different—rational,” she punctuated her question with the tip of herstake between them. It pierced his flesh easily, an inch or maybe two, slipping betweenthe ribs just over his heart. It wasn’t fatal, not yet.He tensed and caught his breath. His eyes closed, and his head tilted back. His bodywent rigid against hers. Then he brought his chin back down and opened his eyes oncemore. Her movement had brought her closer to his face. Their lips were a breath apartwith only the piercing stake keeping their embrace from being a lovers’ hug. As it was,even with the stake piercing his chest, their embrace was intimate.They stood so close, so very close. He was in pain. She could tell from his tenseness,from the way he held his breath. Yet, he smiled with those lips so close to hers. Hesmiled, and he didn’t pull away.”Don’t be fooled. I’m not rational. Haven’t been for two hundred years. I’m just moreaware of the madness than those damned souls.”His voice was more gravely than before. She looked from his lips to his eyes. Therewas pain in them, but suddenly she wasn’t sure if the darker midnight within the sky blueof his irises came from her stake or from somewhere else, maybe thousands ofsomewheres. Past sins? Past hurts? Past despair?”All vampires are mad. Some of us are just cursed to fight the madness.”It was she who moved. She pulled the stake out of his chest. He gasped as it slid free,but this time he didn’t close his eyes. He watched her face. She didn’t know what he sawthere, but he watched as if fascinated.”There are no sentient vampires,” she insisted, finally backing up to stand away fromhim.He quirked one brow even higher in response, but he let her move away. He let herclaim the space she needed between them before tapping his finger to his forehead as ifhe tipped an imaginary hat.
“Welcome to America, Darlin’.”