Happy Sunday everyone! Not sure exactly where the weekend went but at least we have one more day of rest before the week kicks off!
For today's snippet reading I've kicked out a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading for review a few months back. I ran across Rhyannon Byrd's Dead Is The Kiss while searching NetGalley for upcoming releases and couldn't resist discovering a new-to-me author. I'd heard many nice compliments on her writing, unique plots filled with exciting twits and characters that I finally took the chance and picked up a book.
I wasn't disappointed either. In fact, this book earned a 4.5 star Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews with my review. I quote from my review, "Deadly is the Kiss is a spine tingling paranormal romance that will pull at your heart strings and leave you with a need for more Rhyannon Byrd! I can't believe I waited so long to try this author." End quote.
You can read the entire review HERE after reading today's snippet. :)
Deadly Is The Kiss
Amazon | B&N
Back of the Book:
Tasked with protecting humanity from harm, the last thing Ashe Granger was searching for on his mission was his destined mate. Then, a mysterious dark-eyed beauty reluctantly offered him shelter. A spark of danger—and a soul-deep recognition—ignited a burning, carnal need .Since her family's exile, Juliana Sabin had borne full responsibility for their safety. So when evil struck, she had no choice but to ally herself with the sexy guardian vampire. Now, months later, Ashe is back and tempting Juliana to reveal her darkest secrets and desires. For the killer stalking the shadows isn't acting alone—and he won't rest until his deadly cravings are fulfilled.
EXTENDED SNIPPET READING
Juliana stared at the blacked-out windows lining the bar’s front, the neon sign hanging above the closed door flickering too rapidly for her to read what it said. All she could make out was the shape of a topless blonde with fangs and a tail straddling what appeared to be some sort of motorcycle. “Um, wow.”
Ashe pushed his hands into his pockets. “I know it’s not much to look at,” he said, “but a friend of mine owns it.” His tone was wry, as if he knew just how horrified she was by the thought of going inside, half-expecting there to be strippers dancing on the tables. “I need his help to start our search,” he went on, “and he’ll be willing to give us a room for the night. Plus, the security is better than anything else we’ll find.”
“Are you sure Raphe won’t think to send assassins here?” She scrunched her nose as she looked up at him. “I mean, this is a criminal underground network, and he’s one of the biggest vampire criminals in existence.”
His chest shook with a grim laugh. “Trust me, Delacourt has no connection to the P.D. At least, not to any of the places we’ll be staying.”
“How do you know?”
He popped his jaw, the look of fury suddenly glittering in his eyes sending a shiver down her spine. “Because these people are friends of mine. Which means they despise the Delacourts as much as—” he broke off and ran his tongue over his teeth “—as much as most of the Förmyndares do.”
She knew he’d been about to say as much as he did, but had stopped. For some reason, he didn’t want her to know what his connection was to Raphe Delacourt, or even that he had one. But she had no doubt there was something between them. At this point, she was starting to think Ashe might hate the crime lord almost as much as she did.
“Not that it’s any of my business,” she murmured, arching one of her brows. “But isn’t it a little strange…I mean a Förmyndare being friends with known criminals?”
Though his eyes still glinted with that hot, visceral glow, his expression softened, a cocky smile twitching on his lips. “I wouldn’t call my friends criminals, per se. Gideon and I think of them more as law manipulators.”
She gave a quiet snort.
“Seriously,” he said with an easy shrug, “I’m not friendly with murderers or rapists or terrorists. These are good people. They just aren’t happy with the current status quo, and they have their own ideas about how to bring about change.”
“I’m surprised at you, Granger.” Her tone was teasing. “From the sound of it, you’re cronies with a bunch of revolutionaries!”
“Revolutionaries, huh?” His smile flashed as he reached for the door. “I’ll have to pass that on to Knox. He’ll get a kick out of it.”
“Who’s Knox?” she asked, following him inside the smoky interior, her eyes burning from the heavy veil of cigarette smoke lingering in the air.
“Knox is the guy who owns this place.”
Only a few tables near the front were still occupied at this hour, the rest of the customers having already headed home. Ashe said something to the flirty blonde counting the money in the cash register, and a moment later a tall, auburn-haired man stalked through the doorway at the far end of the bar, a scowl twisting his sensual mouth as he looked toward Ashe. He was wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt, his arms covered in intricate tattoos, another one climbing up the right side of his throat. Despite being big and mean and somewhat scary-looking, the male was undeniably attractive, an unmistakable air of wicked sexuality wrapping around his tall, muscular body as he paced toward them.
Juliana kept her voice low, knowing from the man’s scent that he was some sort of shape-shifter, which meant his hearing would be exceptional. “Is it just me, or does he not look too happy to see you?”
“Ignore the scowl. It’s his usual expression. Only time I’ve ever seen him smile is when he’s got two women on him and he’s in the middle of co—” He suddenly broke off, coughing into his fist, but she could see the smile he was trying to hide.
“Lovely,” she drawled, lifting her brows. “You’ve brought me to one of your whoring buddies.”
Instead of gloating, which she’d expected, Ashe slid her a considering gaze, his dark head cocked just a little to the side as he stared down at her. Quietly, he said, “You really don’t have a very high opinion of me, do you?”
Looking away, she exhaled an unsteady breath. “Let’s just say I learned early on not to trust a beautiful face.”
“Hmm,” he said in a low tone. “You’re not the only one who’s learned that lesson.”
Before she could ask him to elaborate on that telling statement, the tattooed shifter reached them. He kept the ferocious-looking scowl in place until he stood nearly nose to nose with Ashe. Then a huge grin split his face and he threw a long arm around Ashe’s shoulders, whacking him on the back so hard it would have flattened a lesser man.
“It’s been too long, you son of a bitch!” the shifter growled with genuine affection, giving Ashe another spine-cracking whack before pulling back and crossing his massive arms over his chest, his biceps straining the sleeves of his T-shirt in the same way she’d seen Ashe’s do. She thought she’d caught a bit of an Irish accent in his craggy voice, but couldn’t be sure.
“I wish this was just a friendly visit,” Ashe said, “but I’ve got a problem I’m hoping you can help with.”
The shifter slid an interested look toward Juliana, a wicked smile spreading over his handsome face. “No problem, boyo. I’ll be happy to help out with the little filly any way I can.”
Juliana blinked, while Ashe gave a husky laugh. “She’s not the problem, you ass. And you’re sure as hell not getting your sleazy hands on her.”
“Damn,” the giant drawled, giving her a playful wink before shifting his curious gaze back to Ashe, waiting for him to explain.
Placing his hand on her lower back in a strangely possessive gesture, Ashe first made the introductions, his voice dry. “Knox, this is Juliana, and you can stop leering at her anytime now. Juliana, this is Knox, criminal mastermind and unparalleled thief.” At her wary expression, he added, “Don’t worry. If anything, he’s more of a modern-day Robin Hood, only without the tights. And the charm, for that matter.”
Knox gave her a slow smile as he snatched her hand, placing a lingering kiss on her knuckles. “Aren’t I just?” he drawled, before arching a dark brow at Ashe. “And I have more charm than you, you witless clod.”
“God, don’t start,” he said with a heartfelt groan, jerking Juliana’s hand out of Knox’s grip…and keeping it in his own. “I can’t take your shit tonight.”
Knox narrowed his dark blue eyes. “Yeah, now that you mention it, you do look like shit. There’s something grim around your eyes.”
Lowering his voice, Ashe said, “You’re going to have that same grim look when I tell you we’re searching for information on the Delacourts.”
Knox whistled softly, then suggested they take the conversation to one of the tables in the back of the room, away from the staff, who were now cleaning up after what appeared to have been a rough, bacchanalian kind of night, several pieces of broken bar stools still littering the floor, as well as some racy lingerie hanging from the overhead light fixtures. At a signal from Knox, the blonde behind the bar brought them each a tall, icy bottle of beer. Knox took a long drink of the dark brew, then looked at Ashe. “What’s your interest in the Delacourts?”
Ashe briefly explained the situation, relaying what Juliana had told him, and Knox listened with keen interest, his dark eyes sharp with intelligence. He didn’t come right out and call her a liar, but she had the uncomfortable feeling that he thought there was more to the story than what she had shared, the same as Ashe did.
As he wrapped up his explanation, Ashe’s deep voice took on a raw edge. “So we have reason to believe the Delacourts have taken out assassination orders against Juliana and her family in order to…keep the whole thing quiet.”
Knox gave another soft whistle as he leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers behind his head. “If anyone has the kind of money to fund an operation like that, especially when the targets are inside the Wasteland, it would be the Delacourts.”
Sprawling sideways in his chair, Ashe thumped his knuckles against the scarred surface of the table. “That’s what I was thinking. Raphe’s drug money has given the family a substantial bankroll for the past decade.”
A stunned sound slipped past her lips. “That long?”
“Easily,” Knox replied, locking his dark gaze with hers. “Ashe could tell you more about it than I could, but Raphe got started when he was little more than a pup. You can guarantee that if it’s illegal and it makes money, then he’s got one of his sticky fingers in the pie.”
“Wow.” From the corner of her eye, she caught the intense way Ashe was looking at her, and quickly said, “I’m just surprised. I mean, I knew he was considered a criminal back then, but I’d always thought that until recently he was into more…um, gentlemanly crimes.” Whatever those were.
“Gentlemanly crimes?” Knox gave a low laugh, flashing Ashe a smile. “I like this girl, Granger.”
“If we can get back on topic,” he muttered. “Have you heard anything that could be useful to us?”
Knox lowered his arms, scrubbing one huge hand across the auburn stubble on his jaw. “Actually, there’s a lot of talk going on about Raphe at the moment.”
Ashe leaned forward, crossing his arms on the table. “What kind of talk?”
“His mama’s always been powerful. You know that as well as I. But the rumor going around is that her son is forcing her to make some kind of monumental power play within the Council. One that will shake the foundations of clan society.”
“You know ol’ Selingham?” Knox asked, reaching for his beer again.
Juliana was familiar with the name, recalling an old, decrepit vampire who had served on the Deschanel Council for centuries.
“I know him,” Ashe replied with a nod, his voice getting rougher. “What happened?”
Knox tilted his bottle to his lips, taking a long swallow, then wiped the back of his wrist over his mouth. “He turned up dead a little over a week ago.”
Setting his bottle back down on the table, Knox snorted. “Hardly. He was supposedly mauled to death by a rogue Lycanthrope while at the Deschanel Court in Rome.” The Deschanel courts were where all the high-ranking officials within the Deschanel clan lived and worked, as well as the Council. There were several official court compounds scattered across Europe, the court itself moving from one location to the next as the mood struck them.
Ashe’s breath hissed through his teeth in response to Knox’s news. “Like hell that would have happened. The courts have some of the most stringent security there is. No way could a rogue have gotten inside without it being a setup. Is there an investigation?”
“That’s the thing,” Knox murmured, shaking his head. “The whole case was apparently wrapped up within a few hours and judged a freak accident. One of those momentary lapses in security, if you can believe that bullshit.”
“Christ,” Ashe muttered, leaning back in his chair, his expression as dark as the look in his eyes. He had his hands fisted at his sides. “The Delacourts must have them by the balls.”
“I’d say they’re holding on tight, and any second now, they’re going to just rip the damn things off,” Knox drawled.
Flinching from the gruesome image his words put in her mind, Juliana looked at Ashe. “What does he mean?”
“He means they’re going to destroy the Council,” he grated, the lines of strain around his eyes and mouth getting deeper. “Then dissolve the Court…and put themselves in power.”
This book is filled with vampires and werewolves-two of my favorite paranormal creatures. I love how the author portrays her creatures of the night and gives them so much grit and passion!
Your Turn! What's your favorite paranormal creature and why? Favorite paranormal romance author or authors? Let's talk!