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Guest Post and Review – Duty and Desire by Elise de Sallier


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Duty and Desire

Book 2 of The Hearts of Honour Series

by Elise de Sallier


Release Date: June 18 , 2015

Genre: FICTION / Romance / Historical / Regency / Erotica

ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-383-6

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH


Where do you find your inspiration for writing period dramas such as these? Have you ever considered the possibility of turning your books (which are tremendous) into a tv series?

 Thank you Lily! Your suggestion my books are worth turning into TV dramas made my day, though I’m afraid I can’t see it every happening. I was would need way more readers than I currently have to garner that sort of attention.

 My inspiration comes mostly from having read thousands of historical romances over the years, as well as watching multiple repeats of every version of Jane Austen’s books that have been made into TV series or movies! I love the language and the restrained passions of the times, though the more I research what life was like for women in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, regardless of their place in society, the more grateful I am to have been born in the second half of the twentieth century.


Grace Daniels, the village of Hartley’s resident midwife and herbalist, would like nothing more than to ease the suffering of Jonathan Loring’s young son, Peter. But the widowed Blackthorn estate manager is as prejudiced againstDuty&Desire-3D-Paperback-eReader her illegitimacy as he is her “witchy” profession. When Peter’s physicians say they can do no more for the boy, Jonathan finds himself in the unenviable position of having to turn to the woman whose skills he has scorned.

Drawn together out of duty, Jonathan and Grace’s relationship soon becomes characterised by a not-so-hidden desire. Having found a degree of independence unheard of for a lady, Grace has no intention of submitting to the bonds of matrimony. Not that Jonathan, who has lost his inheritance and has to work for a living, is in any position to propose.

With marriage out of the question, their only option is both shocking and dangerous . . . to become lovers.


Our Rating – 5 Stars

A story showing just how closely love and hate are entwined, we follow Grace and Jonathon as they move from adversaries to something much more amicable. Following on almost directly from the prequel, Duty and Desire is a schooling in how things were done in a bygone era.

If you read my review of the first book in this series, you’ll know just how much I adore Elise de Sallier’s writing and how much I fell in love with the residents of Hartley on my first visit there. I’m delighted to say, my feelings were much stronger when I revisited this time. Like stepping into a favourite pair of jeans, the setting, characters and style felt completely familiar, and it was so easy to drop back into life at Hartley. So much so, I devoured this little gem in just 2 sittings.

The characters were superb. Hannah and William provided a good background cast, but Grace and Jonathon were the star attraction. If I’m honest, I didn’t like them all that much at the end of the last book, finding them over prickly and rude at times, but I adored them both in this book. Grace showed a much more approachable and human side to her, whereas Jonathon redeemed himself spectacularly. Peter was a superb character who captures my heart, much like he did Grace’s, and left me rooting for his happiness.

Pacing and plot were spot on, the slow burn of their relationship was pitched with great skill and was a pleasure to read. As I said, I got thoroughly hooked into this story and found it incredibly difficult to put it down. That, to me at least, is the sign of an excellent piece of story telling, so hats off to our author for capturing my attention so completely. Although at times it is predictable, or at least you think you know where it is going, our author throws in the little twists and turns which keep you on your toes.

To conclude, I adored this book and couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Although able to be read as a stand alone, I’d strongly recommend you read the first in this series. Full of romance, charm and like stepping into the past, this book is a must read for any fans of historical romance, or those who are looking to start reading this genre. I am sincerely hoping there will be more instalments about the Hartley residents soon!



Grace Daniels pulled her cloak tightly around her shoulders. The blustery wind tugged strands of her long, black hair free from her bun, intent on using them to whip her face. To add insult to injury, the misty rain—which she could have borne quite easily—was now falling in heavy splats. Several icy drips had worked their way through her worn, woollen wrap, sending shivers down her spine.

What joy.

As the midwife and herbalist for the village of Hartley, Grace traipsed around the countryside in all sorts of weather, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a trial. She really should have taken up William, the viscount Blackthorn, on his offer to supply her with a horse-drawn chaise. How she would find time to care for a horse was beyond her. There were so few hours left in her day already, certainly not enough for a decent night’s sleep on the rare occasion she wasn’t called out to assist with a birth or an emergency. If the viscount knew the reason for her reluctance, he would probably offer to pay for a stable boy to assist her. But Grace didn’t like to feel beholden—not even to her best friend’s husband—although it was somewhat unavoidable, considering he now funded her work.

Startled by a horse’s whinny, she looked over her shoulder to see—as if conjured from her imagination—just the sort of hooded chaise William had suggested would be suitable for her needs. Unfortunately, the driver was more likely to appear in her nightmares than her daydreams.

Duty-&-Desire-3D-Paperback-1 Jonathan Loring, retired military officer and the Blackthorn Viscountcy’s new estate manager.

“Get in. You can ride with me the rest of the way up to the manor.”

Grace bristled at her unwelcome rescuer’s tone even as the wind tugged at the ribbons of her bonnet. Personable in appearance, with golden hair and a close-trimmed beard, Mr Loring was already well-respected by the local populace, though he had a knack for rubbing Grace the wrong way. If she were a cat, she would have hissed.

“Don’t dawdle, Miss Daniels,” he added in his typically autocratic manner. “There’s no point getting any wetter than you already are, unless you enjoy impersonating a drowned rat?”

Grace narrowed her eyes. She would have given a great deal to be able to turn her back on the obnoxious man and keep walking, but a not-so-distant clap of thunder heralded a strengthening in the storm. If only she hadn’t misread the weather.

“Oh, very well,” she muttered, clambering aboard with little of the attribute for which she was named evident in either movement or demeanour. To make matters worse, the bench seat was barely wide enough to accommodate them both. Leaving a respectable distance between them simply wasn’t possible, as she was forced to squeeze into the narrow space between the sidewall and Mr Loring’s immovable thigh. Thankfully, he made no comment about her damp skirt pressing against him, merely jerked his chin towards the prancing bay gelding.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t climb down to assist you, but Ned’s hard to handle in this weather.”

After placing her bag next to her feet, Grace gave him a withering glance. “That would have been unnecessary, as I am quite capable of getting into a vehicle unaided. It also would have been unwise, as it’s plain to see you need to keep both hands on the reins lest your horse bolt. I’ve no desire to be bowled over and left facedown in the mud.”

“Neither do I, which is why I wasn’t fool enough to attempt the manoeuvre.” Mr Loring huffed a breath while urging his horse to trot up the steep, muddy road that led to Blackthorn Manor. “I was merely trying to explain my less-than-gentlemanly behaviour.”

“Since we both know I’m not a lady, the gesture would have been wasted. Unless you’re trying to convince me you would show the same courtesy to your average, run-of-the-mill servant?”

“If a woman needed my help, then I would render assistance regardless of her station,” he replied, biting off each word as if displaying the early signs of lockjaw.

While the man was as irritating as a prickle in one’s shoe, Grace couldn’t deny she received an inordinate amount of pleasure from goading him.

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A great believer in living happily ever after, Elise began her lifelong obsession with the romance and paranormal genres when she was far too young to be reading either. After more than thirty years of marriage to her very own romantic hero, she now knows great relationships don’t just happen, they take work . . . which doesn’t mean writing about them can’t be a whole lot of fun!Elise

While raising a family, Elise established a career as a counsellor and family therapist. Seeking an escape from the stresses of her work, she discovered the world of fan fiction, and her timid writer’s muse made its voice heard. After 2.3 million hits, 20,000 reviews, and an e-mail from an acquisitions editor at The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, her life found a new and fascinating direction.

Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love . . . eventually.








Praise for Passion and Propriety, Hearts of Honour, Book 1

“I cannot recommend this author, or her book, highly enough to anyone who is a fan of Regency romance or who would like to dabble in the genre to see if it’s for them, because believe me, after reading this you would definitely be a convert!” Lily Loves Indie

“This is probably one of my favorite historical romances I have read this year.” Jen, Red Hot Books

“I’ll definitely be picking up more books by this author and can’t wait for the next instalment of this series which stars Hannah’s friend, Grace.”Amy Alvis, Historical Romance Lover

“I loved it. That could be my entire review, right there. But I need to gush a bit more. A wounded hero. A woman with a backbone and caring heart. A bit of angst as I wonder if they will overcome the obstacles that stand in their way of true love…. The flow of the story was natural, not rushed, and I enjoyed every page. I’m very happy to hear that there will be more in Ms. de Sallier’s Hearts of Honour series. I want the next one now!” Kathie, First Page to the Last Book Reviews

“This is the third book I’ve read by this author and I couldn’t help falling in love with de Sallier’s characters once again. I was completely taken into the story not just by Hannah and William, but by the secondary characters at the same time… If you enjoy Regency Romance, you will love Passion & Propriety.” Lindsey Gray, Author on Author Book Reviews


Review – Eire’s Devil King by Sandi Layne


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Éire’s Devil King

Book 3 of Eire’s Viking Trilogy

by Sandi Layne


Release Date: April 2 , 2015

Genre: FICTION / Historical Fiction Time Periods/ Medieval / Viking

ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-376-8

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH


A man of ability and ambition, Tuirgeis Erlingrson has nurtured the desire to carve a place of leadership for himself on the Green Island, Eire, that he has raided multiple times. After the death of his wife in Nordweg, he takes his surviving son to Eire. Having connections with his adopted brother, Cowan, and Agnarr, his former countryman, Tuirgeis feels he has the support he needs to make his claims strong.

Agnarr is torn. His promise to Aislinn to remain with her on Eire is still in force, and he resists Tuirgeis’s requests to join the conquering forces from Nordweg. He desires above all things to maintain a safe home for his wife and children in Dal Fíatach. Charis encourages Cowan to do the same, though this makes for tense moments between them.EDK-3D-Open-Book-2

After initial disastrous attempts to achieve his ambition, Tuirgeis comes to learn that there is more to claiming a kingship than merely overpowering the locals. Tuirgeis finds himself at odds with the very people he had hoped would reinforce him. In addition, he wants to establish his father-line. He has one son; he wants another to be born of Éire. Will the woman of his choice accept and support him?

At length, Agnarr and Aislinn—though she is heavy with child—sail with Cowan and Charis to join Tuirgeis as he battles over one final summer to attain the High Kingship of the island.

Tuirgeis knows he doesn’t have long to make his claims; the Danes are coming in greater numbers than before. As he wins men of Eire to his cause, he has to maintain the relationships he has already fostered with Agnarr and Cowan. Charis finds that her Otherworldly gifts are needed by a man she considers her enemy.



Our Rating – 4 Stars

The familiar figures of Charis, Cowan, Agnarr, Aislinn and Tuirgeis are back for the final installment of the Eire’s Viking Trilogy. Looking to emulate Agnarr’s success in settling in Ireland, Tuirgeis wants to go one step further and fully conquer the Emerald Isle for his own. Of course, things never go smoothly, and with the Danes and other problems to deal with, is a happy ending in store for our friends, or will they fall foul of forces greater even than Charis’ skills?

As always, there is a superb continuation from the first two books in the series. As already mentioned in my previous review, I’d recommend any newcomers to the series read the first two books in this series before this one. The first half of the story is a little slower in pace than the previous books, but the pace definitely picked up greatly towards the end.

Layne wrapped up the story very well, tidying up the loose ends and leaving the reader feeling satisfied with the way things ended. The different perspective of Tuirgeis was a very interesting read, and the changes of perspective between all the key characters was well written, adding extra dimension to the tale.

This installment was full of poignant moments which really tugged at the heartstrings and left me feeling quite emotional at times. I won’t spoil them, but it might be prudent to have a tissue or two to hand occasionally.

As I’ve said throughout this series, the history is superb. I adore this time period and I must really give credit to Layne for the wonderful way she has told this story, using the history to constantly enhance it. it has been a thoroughly enjoyable series, and one I will be recommending to anyone who enjoys a well told, developed piece of historical fiction. Congratulations on the completion of a fabulous series.


It was dark in the langhús, save for the glowing of the coals banked in the fire ring. Agnarr enjoyed his wife’s responsiveness to him, and when they made love, he never forgot to thank his new God for letting her live through the births of the children their bodies made together. Before the sun crept under the door and through the shutters over the new windows, they were smiling and silent and relishing the moments—he knew there would only be moments—before the children stirred in the bench-bed they shared.

Later, as their son and daughter began shifting restlessly prior to awakening, Agnarr sat up and blew out a breath. “Wife.”

“Yes, husband?” She joined him, finding his hand with hers in the shadowy enclosure of their private area.

EDK-3D-Paperback-1“We need to be ready. You need to be ready. You and the children.”

She sighed and shifted on the blankets so that she was looking directly at him. As was her habit, she continued to touch him with her fingers as she spoke. “I can fight. And you gave Dow a real knife at the Christ Mass.”

Discomfort tightened his stomach as he shook his head. “You need to be able to escape, just in case.” He knew far too well what would happen if someone found his attractive wife. Someone whom he didn’t know. Someone who would find her dark hair appealing and the tatú on her cheek mysterious and alluring. Someone who would want to take her as their leman, as he had once taken Charis.

Someone who might take his son as a slave.

Jaw tightening in anger, he shook his head again. Hard. “You know what can happen to you.” Her eyes were on his face, and he met their steady gaze. “And the children. You need to be able to get away. We should find a way to make you safe.”

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Award winning author of short Celtic fiction, Sandi Layne is the creator of the Éire’s Viking Trilogy, as well as works of contemporary Christian romance.

She began by self-publishing her novels in 2000, garnering a loyal group of readers whom she continues to appreciate to this day.

Married for more than twenty years to a fantastic man, she has two sons, no pets, and a plethora of imaginary friends. Her interests range from ancient civilizations to science fiction. With degrees in English and Ministry, she also claims Theology’s crimson Masters collar which she has been known to don on rare occasions.

If you drive by her window before dawn, it is likely she’ll have a light on for you. Or at the very least, she’ll be alert on twitter. She invites you to visit her online space at


Praise for Éire’s Viking Trilogy


“If you are looking for a read that makes history read real, this is the series for you.” – Kathie on Goodreads
“This is how historical fiction should be done. … love was a deep and abiding theme, as was loyalty to family and leaders. Bonds will be tested and hearts will be broken.” – Lissa Bryan




Review – Eire’s Viking by Sandi Layne


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Eire’s Viking
Book 2 of Eire’s Viking Trilogy
by Sandi Layne
His destiny drew him to Éire–but his heart would keep him there.
Release Date: January 23rd , 2014
Genre: FICTION / Historical Fiction Time Periods/ Medieval / Viking

ISBN e-book:


Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH


Ten years after Charis marries Cowan at the end of Éire’s Captive Moon, Agnarr Halvardson returns to the Green Island—this time, to stay. He wants what any man wants: To make a life for himself, wed, and have sons.

Before he can express these goals, he is injured and taken to Bangor Monastery. There, Aislinn—adopted daughter of Cowan and Charis—treats him as a patient while she ignores the immediate attraction he holds for her.

Agnarr decides Aislinn would be a good wife for him as she teaches him her language and customs. She commands his respect and wins his affection. The past is just one barrier of many between them, however.

There are new invaders to Éire. Pledging his loyalty to the new king of Dál Fiatach, Agnarr prepares to defend his new home while persuading Aislinn to be his wife.

Success or failure will affect the lives of many.



Our Rating – 4 Stars

In this, the second in the Eire’s Viking Trilogy, Agnarr has returned to the Emerald Isle with his heart set on finding himself a wife and making a life amongst the people he had pillaged long ago. Cared for by Charis’ adoptive daughter, the relationship quickly spirals into more than that of just a patient and his healer.

This story has a great continuation from the first book, flowing smoothly and sucking you straight back in to the trilogy. That said, I would advise against reading this if you have not already read the first in the series. I was sucked instantly into the series, my attention thoroughly grabbed and it kept me wanting to read more and more. It felt like I was actually there in Ireland, the history was so splendid and totally immersed me in the tale being told. It’s just enough history, but it never detracts from the story, rather it enhances it as it makes it so much more real and believable.

The romance in this story is well written, as you’d expect having already seen how Layne developed the relationship between Cowan and Charis. Agnarr and Aislinn seem well suited to each other and their initial resistance is balanced, rather than overplayed. The development of their feelings for each other, and their realisation of that fact, is written with skill.

Charis and Cowan remain wonderful characters to read, and their development, both of their relationship and their characterisation in general, is well continued from the first book. The revisiting of other characters like Tuirgeis was a great addition as, not only is it great to see them again, but it helps build a greater degree of reality to the story.

All in all, this was a very pleasant read, a story I enjoyed and one that developed the trilogy well. If I had to, i’d have a little niggle over the pace, as it did slow slightly, but, nevertheless, it was still a very good read. I am, as with the last book, very excited to see how this trilogy will end.

“You’re not well enough to be up on your own. Come back.”
He exhaled roughly and pointed in the direction he had been walking. With a near-desperate air, he looked about him, his focus sharpening on a broken branch. He smiled, his triumph evident as he beckoned to her.
The light in his eyes took her by surprise, making her skin feel taut over her body and her heart beat faster in her breast. Still, she shook that off as he brushed twigs and other wild bits and pieces out of the way, leaving a flat space of dark, moist earth. Then, on one knee, he caught her eye and tapped the branch on the ground. He drew a boat—a boat with the large, angular, striped sail that Aislinn had heard about—and tapped his chest.
“You are one of them,” she said, staggering a step back.

Again, I feel Ms. Layne did an incredible job of conveying life in the early 800’s. She is a gifted storyteller and I appreciate her research and the historical accuracy of her story. Éire’s Viking was every bit as captivating as the first installment and I’m eager to see how this story will end. – Brandee Price, Goodreads


…The other thing I felt was improved since the first book was the fact that we get to see some of the greater politics at work. We bring in the Danish as well as the Vikings and the Irish and I liked the subtle political maneuverings that accompanied the changing worldviews within all three countries. I can’t explain this really but I also felt much more immersed in Aislinn’s world than I did in the first book. Maybe it was the added detail, maybe it was just the change of setting but I really felt like I was there alongside the characters– Carrie Slager, Goodreads.




Review – Eire’s Captive Moon by Sandi Layne


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Eire’s Captive Moon
Book 1 of Eire’s Viking Trilogy
by Sandi Layne
Release Date: January 10th , 2013
Genre: FICTION / Historical Fiction Time Periods/ Medieval / Viking

ISBN e-book:


Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH


Éire’s Captive Moon, the first book of Sandi Layne’s Éire’s Viking Trilogy, brings you to the unsettled era of the early Viking raids along the coast of Éire – today’s Ireland.
A wounded refugee from the violent Viking raids on Éire’s coast is healed so well by Charis of Ragor that Agnarr captures the moon-pale woman for his own and takes her home to Nordweg to be his slave.
Also captured is Cowan, a warrior gifted with languages. He is drawn to the Healer of Ragor and finds himself helpless before her. In more ways than one!
Through the winter, Charis plans a fitting vengeance upon her captor for the men he killed. She also prepares to return to Éire and the children she left behind.


But will her changing feelings interfere with these plans? When two men vie for her heart, will she give way before either – or both?


Our Rating – 5 Stars

A tale of invaders, escape and survival, Eire’s Captive Moon is a lesson in history encased within a superb novel. As a history aficionado, this was right up my street and left me squealing with delight that not only was so much history included, but also that Layne had so obviously researched and made sure the history was write before writing.

The story has a great hook which catches your attentions and carries you away with the skill of the story telling. It felt well paced throughout and never felt like there were any repeats or waffle, everything in this book built on the story and moved it forward, which is something I very rarely see. Throughout this, the foundations are laid for a superb series, interspersed with key history, and an almost time warp effect in pulling you back to the era our tale takes place in.

Characterisastion was superb throughout. Charis is a very passionate and enigmatic character, I spent many hours trying to figure her out and get into her head, only to be left severely wanting! Cowan is equally wonderful to read, he truly does come alive form the pages and endear himself to the reader. Magda and Bran however are just so annoying, I wanted to pull them through the pages and give them a smack!

The emotional scenes were superb, the dramatic action was very engaging and hooked you in and this book was a super start to the beginning of a series. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in historical fiction, and I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of this series.


With Éire’s Captive Moon, Sandi Layne has created an unforgettable tale of love, loss, intrigue, bravery, and suspense. From the first pages, you’ll be held captive by Ms. Layne’s incredible storytelling and her ability to paint a picture with words that pulls you so deeply into her world you forget your surroundings. – Sarah Aisling, Goodreads


I was pulled deeply into the past from the first page of this story set in Old Ireland and north into Nordweg. This is a historical, not a romance, although there is love and devotion. I loved feeling like I was in Eire and then right there in the Norse village. There was enough detail, but not so much that it pulled me from the characters. A truly wonderful balancing act by Ms. Layne. – Kathie Spitz, Goodreads.



Review – Koven by Vanessa Skye


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Paranormal Romance


by Vanessa Skye


Release Date: June 11 , 2015

Genre: FICTION / Romance / Paranormal

ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-385-0

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH


When Celeste was kidnapped a century ago and turned against her will by a cruel vampire fighter, she expected to spend her doomed eternity as his slave, chained in the darkness, and she questioned her ability to survive. But things don’t always go as expected.

Just ask her kidnapper.

He never expected Celeste to learn how to fight.

He never expected Celeste to become the best warrior he had ever seen.

He never expected the secret hidden away in her blood,

And he certainly never expected to become a victim of his own sword.

Tormented by her past and the dreams she can’t explain, Celeste now roams the earth slaying the creatures she loathes—other vampires like herself—and seeking revenge against those who would harm innocents in the name of bloodlust.Kove-3D-Paperback-eReader

Until she crosses paths with Striker, the handsome vampire leader weighed down by his own tortured story.

In his quest for answers about the stunning Celeste, Striker finds out more than he ever thought possible—about himself, his true origins, and his destiny. But the secret Celeste is keeping from him might be the one thing that keeps them apart for good—a secret even more dangerous than a new, powerful enemy they never saw coming.

As ancient mysteries, forgotten prophecies, and cruel eras collide, Celeste must confront her past as well as her future. Fighting her inner demons and letting Striker beyond the wall she built around her heart haunts her, even more than her captive past.

Enter a supernatural world of passion, lust, sexual obsession, and power that the unsuspecting humans never knew existed, until now . . .



Our Rating – 5 Stars

Celeste, a vampire with a very painful past, is determined to locate a mysterious organisation responsible for her pain. Striker is the leader of a protective band of vampires, Koven, charged with her capture and execution. It all sounds so simple, but when intrigue and powerful forces come into play, it changes the game they’re both playing.

Before I go any further – I bloody loved this book! Anyone who’s read my reviews knows just how much just love vampires, they’re my Achilles heel, but so often they’re overdone and full of cliches, but Koven blows most other vampire novels I’ve read completely out of the ball park. The creation of the Kouncil, Koven and then the added mystery of the Queens and konsorts all weaved together in a totally believable, yet very refreshing view on typical vampire lore.

The plot was full of twists and turns, I never knew exactly where Skye was going to take this novel. This, combined with a fast paced plot, had me hooked from the start and totally absorbed in Celeste and Striker’s story. I found myself ignoring things that needed doing so I could spend the extra time reading.

Celeste and Striker, as leading characters were superb. They were developed, a pleasure to read, and their conflict over their feelings for each other was well written and very easy to get lost in. The support characters of Bradford, Rodham and the other Koven guys were just as entertaining to read, but Celeste really stole the show. Her back story, the pain, her recovery, it was just shine to read and she is such a powerful, strong lead character.

And so, before I keep you any longer, I can only say – buy this, find a quiet room and read it, preferably in one sitting. It’s awesome, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Gripping, exciting and just fabulous from start to finish, this is a must read for anyone interested in the vampire genre. I mean this when I say I honestly cannot wait for another installment in what promises to be an excellent saga.


The vampire silently watched from a balcony near the top of a shiny glass-covered skyscraper, enthralled, as the assassin neatly dispatched three Lore with brutal efficiency.

Two of the three had been beheaded before they’d even known what was happening.

Impressive, really—hard as it is to sneak up on a vampire, let alone deprive one of its head.

Granted, the three Lore rogues had looked young and inebriated—no doubt fresh from snacking on some of the drug-addled humans wandering around the club district in the very early hours of the morning. The chemical-or alcohol-laced blood of high humans was a favorite pastime of the younger generations of vampires, many of whom were reticent to leave human vices behind after their turning.

The third vampire looked shocked and tried to run as his friends met their absolute death, but the assassin was faster—considerably so. The Lore was killed quickly, neatly, and efficiently, without undue blood or relish.

He narrowed his dark brown eyes as he surveyed the assassin’s graceful movements.

The vampire didn’t kill for the thrill, which often happened because psychopaths were common within their species. No, given the calm efficiency, the assassin killed for some other reason that he couldn’t yet fathom.

He had hidden far enough away that the low clicking of his compact digital camera couldn’t be heard.

He zoomed in and refocused, the shutter softly snapping open and closed as the assassin wiped a bloody sword on one of the unfortunate vampire’s clothing before sheathing it.

He stuck around long enough to ensure all Lore—vampires turned by another vampire—had disintegrated into dust. The cold, late-winter wind whistling through the city would eventually scatter their remains across several gray city blocks. He was grateful they hadn’t been hybrids. They left a mess when killed, and a cleaning crew would have been necessary to dispose of the remains before any humans stumbled across them.

Koven-3D-Paperback-1Pressing a few buttons, he examined the camera’s small screen critically. The leathers covering the assassin from head to toe made any facial features unidentifiable in each of the shots, but they were tight enough to leave no doubt.

A female assassin?

He was surprised and a little excited. Female vampires were increasingly rare, let alone one who fought as well as she did.

The wind moaning between the high-rise and its tall neighbor wasn’t enough to muffle the soft thud of footfalls from his sharp ears. He didn’t turn, however, because the intruder’s scent was familiar.

“Striker, are you following her again?” Bradford, Striker’s second-in-command, asked.

Striker reluctantly pulled his gaze away from the camera’s screen and turned slowly. “Yes. What of it?”

Bradford raised an eyebrow. “Surely you’ve got enough evidence against her to report to Kouncil by now. Why the extra surveillance?”

Striker folded his arms and remained silent.

Bradford ran his hands through his wavy red hair before shrugging his heavily muscled shoulders. “I’m aware it’s not my job to question—”

“You got that right.”

“Just wondering if you can afford the extra time. Kovens don’t run themselves, you know.”

Striker shrugged, slipping the camera into the pocket of his leather jacket. “I find her . . . fascinating.”

Bradford snorted. “Don’t let your never-ending drive for pussy cloud your judgment. The executioner’s noose is over her head, and you know it. Kouncil wants blood. She risks exposing us all with her activities.”

“You should see how she fights. She’s quick, effective . . . deadly,” Striker said, waving toward the female, who was scooping up empty clothes and placing them in a nearby dumpster. “And she’s cleaning up after herself, as you can plainly see. She poses no threat to us. On the contrary, she could be useful.”

Bradford stared at the woman, wrinkling his fair, white brow. “How old do you think she is?”

“She is too fast to be a hybrid. She doesn’t appear to be able to fly yet, so Lore less than a century old is my guess.”

“Less than a century?” Bradford narrowed his ruddy-colored eyes. “Good. She should be easy to capture and destroy, then.”

Striker clenched his fists. “Do not be so quick to destroy that which you don’t understand, brother. She could be a valuable asset.”

Bradford scoffed. “There is no way Kouncil will ever allow a female to join Koven. Nor will they forgive her for such . . . unseemly pursuits.”

“As much as they might like to think otherwise, it’s not up to Kouncil. It’s up to me who joins my Koven. Besides, fifty years ago they said the same thing about the hybrids, and now they are becoming members of our ranks as fast as they mature.”

Bradford let out a single bark of laughter. “Yes, you went against their wishes and allowed hybrids into Koven, and Kouncil is still pissed off about it! Because of you, they were forced to relax the ban on human and vampire relations, as well as the half-breeds sometimes resulting from them. All to boost our ranks. Vampire numbers are dwindling lower than ever before, and you know from personal experience that the turnings don’t always take, particularly for wome—” Bradford glanced at Striker and winced but pushed past the awkward moment quickly. “Don’t mistake their tolerance of hybrids after centuries of culling them with acceptance. They cannot stand the mongrels. They still call them Tiks, for fuck’s sake! They move about the sunlight without any discernable loss of strength, unlike Kouncil themselves.” Bradford shook his head. “It would be unwise to anger them so soon after a significant loss of face. They’ll never join the rest of us in the twenty-first century. They’re marred too deep in the old ways and prejudices. I often wonder why we sacrifice our strongest vampires to protect them. Would we be so much worse off if we let nature take its course?”

Striker shrugged. “My maker used to ask me the same thing, and I honestly have no good answer. Tradition, maybe? Koven has been the right hand of Kouncil for millennia. But they’ll join us in modern society if I have to drag them kicking and screaming myself. You’ll see.”

Bradford huffed and cut his gaze sideways at Striker, clearly irritated. “Sadly, brother, I think you will see, and when you do, you won’t like it.” Running for the edge of the high-rise, he jumped, disappearing into the dark sky.

Striker turned back to his contemplation of the female.

He noticed she had returned everything to it pre-slaughter state, and resolving to follow her, he launched himself into the sky and flew above as she darted on foot through city alleys and quiet streets. He tracked her easily and hoped she would lead him to her keeper. It would allow his men to find her much easier later, should he wish to arrest her.

His mind raced.

Kouncil had sent him specifically to identify and gather evidence against the lone assassin killing rogue vampires—Lore and hybrid alike—indiscriminately and without permission. His instructions had not included rescue or engagement.

But something about her . . .





Vanessa Skye has always had a love of words and spent her school years writing poetry, speeches, and fictional essays.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism and studying psychology at Charles Sturt University, Vanessa got a job at Rural Press—Australia’s largest publisher of regional and agricultural news and information—where she worked as a journalist in the Central West of New South Wales for four years.

Thousands of stories later, Vanessa decided to move back to Sydney and try her hand at public relations while studying for her master’s in communication.

Skip forward a few years, and Vanessa once again found herself joyfully studying various psychology subjects while managing a Sydney public relations firm. Enthralled with examining the motivations behind people’s actions, Vanessa realized what she really wanted to do in life was combine her love of words with her fascination for human behavior. So Ms. Skye quit public relations to begin the significantly more impoverished life of a professional writer.

Inspired by a recurring dream, Vanessa wrote her crime fiction debut, The Enemy Inside, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if the need for vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from childhood abuse. The second book in this series, Broken, was released in February 2014, and the third, Bloodlines, was released in January of 2015. The first book in a paranormal series, Koven, will be released in June 2015. In her spare time, Vanessa wrote a short story, The Piece, which was published in February 2012 by Dark Prints Press as a part of the One That Got Away dark fiction anthology.

Vanessa now works as a freelance writer, lives on Sydney’s northern beaches, and tries to immerse herself in salt water at least once a day.