Tag Archives: Jane








Title: The Bachelor Auction
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Series: The Bachelors of Arizona #1
On Sale: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Formats: eBook
Price: $4.99 USD (eBook)
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Cinderella never had to deal with this crap.

Jane isn’t entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn’t she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes—or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire—maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn’t anyone’s dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk—even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it’s karmic retribution that he’s tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can’t have. But while they can’t have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy . . .


The Bachelor Auction #1

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“Jane.” It was a whisper, it was a question, and then his mouth was on hers—harsh, forceful, but so inviting she whimpered at the contact and leaned into him, begging him with her body to take what she couldn’t voice aloud.

It was a bad idea.

He was a bad idea.


Ready to be married off.

But here, in this moment, he was hers.

So she kissed him back with as much passion as she possessed, her hands digging into the front of his shirt while his teeth nipped at her bottom lip.

His hands slid beneath her shirt, unhooking her bra with ease as he nudged her thighs apart.

“You feel so soft,” he murmured against her mouth. “Perfect.” Another plundering kiss, his tongue flicking hers before his lips slid down her neck. “So damn good.”

With a moan, she pressed as close as she could against him, nearly riding his leg in an effort to get more of him.

“That’s it,” he encouraged while she clawed at him.

“Brock!” Bentley’s voice pierced the air. “Did you need help?”

Brock froze above her, his face filled with irritation. “Open that door, Bentley, and I’m selling every car you own and replacing it with a Honda!”


“You don’t mean it.” The knob turned.

Jane’s eyes widened in alarm as Brock quickly moved away from her and tossed the blanket…over her head. Right, like that was going to look normal. She pulled the blanket off her face and tried in vain to fix her bra while frantically pulling her hair back into a ponytail.

Bentley entered, took one look at both of them and smiled. “Clearly this room was dirtier than we thought?” He tilted his head at Jane. “Or maybe not dirty enough?”

“Out!” Brock barked.



“Fine,” Bentley grumbled. “I’m leaving. I just thought you should know that Grandfather called and wanted to know how the maid was working out. I told him that you’ve been helping her since she sprained her ankle. He was concerned about her finishing the job.”

“What did you say?” Brock grabbed Bentley by the shirt and gave a little shake.

Bentley held up his hands. “Chill. I told him that she would make a full recovery, that she refused to sue, and that you were taking care of the situation. Because that’s all you’re doing, right Brock? Taking care of the situation…” He peered around Brock at Jane.

Feeling suddenly more naked than she actually was, she covered herself up with the blanket.

What had she been thinking?

It was beyond unprofessional.

Tears burned the backs of her eyes.

“Thanks, Bent.” Brock sighed, running his hands through his already mussed hair.

Bentley saluted him then added quietly. “For the record, any girl that can get Boring Brock to bend the rules is a keeper.”

Brock bit back a curse as Bentley shut the door.

“Boring Brock?” Jane asked.

“It’s about as bad as it sounds.”

“Well, I’m Plain Jane, so…I understand.”

He turned. “You’ve never been plain a day in your life.”

“I think you’ve already learned that you don’t need to give me pretty compliments to get me to kiss you.”

“You have seven freckles. You press your lips together to keep yourself from saying things you shouldn’t. You hum when you clean, and though I’m not sure what the tune is, it’s familiar. When you eat, you watch people rather than your own food, and I’m just going to come out and say it: you eat like an animal, the most erotic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Jane covered her face with her hands. “It was flattering until you said that last part.”

Brock laughed. “Seeing a woman dig into her food like she hasn’t eaten in weeks? It’s one of the most erotic visions I’ve ever had.”

Emotion flashed across his face as he made his way over to her and kissed her again, pulling away with her name on his lips. “Jane, I want you.”

“Thought I was just the help.” The walls around her heart started to slip; she felt it in the way her body rose against him. He’d noticed things about her nobody ever had, he was helping her, and he was beautiful. Was it so wrong to want this? For herself? Once in her life?

“You’re more than that, and you know it.” His eyes locked on to hers as his deep voice washed over her.

“You’re getting auctioned off in two weeks and you know it.”

He paused, his expression going completely ice cold before he looked away and then back at her. “And if I wasn’t? What then?”

“Then…” She bit down on her bottom lip. “I’d ask you to kiss me again.”

Excerpted from THE BACHELOR AUCTION by Rachel Van Dyken. Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Van Dyken. Used with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.






Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor. She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!





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Sapient Book Cover



Chapter 1


A young research assistant poked his head through the laboratory door and said, “We’re heading out to grab some beers. Want to join us?”


Dr. Jane Dixon brushed aside a strand of dark hair that had fallen from her ponytail. She waved the offer off without turning to face him and gave a curt, “Too much work.” I need to get out of here at a decent time to see Robbie, or I’m going to need to find a new nanny.


“Come on, Dr. Dixon. One quick drink. It’s Friday.”


She sighed and faced him, removing her dark-rimmed glasses. “How about a rain check?” She gave the younger man her best smile, but Jane knew she sounded insincere.


“Sure, a rain check.” The research assistant gave a perfunctory nod and let the door swing shut. Jane wouldn’t receive another invitation anytime soon, which was fine with her.


She put her hands in the small of her back and stretched, yielding a satisfying pop. Not for the first time, she congratulated herself on the regularity of her yoga workouts. They were one of the few distractions she permitted herself. With forty in the not-too- distant future, it was one distraction she couldn’t afford to forgo. She pulled her stool closer to her computer and checked her maze for the final time. She chuckled to herself. After all her years of education, she was reduced to playing video games with rodents. Using a virtual maze allowed her to create a level of complexity unrealistic with traditional animal intelligence testing.


Jane walked into an adjoining room with rows of cages where her subjects spent most of their day. She approached a cage adorned with a garish blue first-place ribbon. Her assistant had put it on the door as a joke. At first, it migrated back and forth as different rats outperformed others. For the past two months, it hadn’t moved.


She opened the cage and made a coaxing motion. “Come here, Einstein.” A fat, white rat dashed out the door onto her hand and scrambled up her right shoulder. His neon-blue eyes gave off an icy intelligence. The change in eye color was one of many side effects of her tests Jane still couldn’t explain. The rat whipped its tail into her hair for balance, hopping from paw to paw.


“Settle down, boy,” she said. She carried Einstein back into the lab with its virtual maze and extended her hand. He raced down her arm to the large trackball and made little jumps in anticipation of the race. As Jane clamped him gently into the metal rig that held him in place, he stopped jumping. Einstein differed from the other rats—he never struggled when Jane locked him in place. The other rats fought against the harness, making it difficult to complete the test preparations.


A two-dimensional overview of a simple maze flashed on the screen. Without hesitating, Einstein rolled through the maze on his trackball, completing the challenge in seconds.


“Too easy,” Jane said. “You don’t even deserve a prize.” Despite this, she stroked the rat’s head and gave him a small piece of cheese. Einstein snapped it up in his front paws. As soon as he devoured it, he pulled against his harness and chattered at Jane.


“Relax, big fella.” She tapped on her keyboard to reconfigure the course before bending down to eye level with Einstein. “Now the real challenge begins.” He stared into her sea- green eyes. The small rodent had the intense focus of a fighter about to get in the ring.


A second maze flashed on the screen. There was a straightforward solution that was long and twisting. A second solution existed, but so far, none of the rats had figured it out. The second path had two tiny virtual teleportation pads. If the rats stepped onto one of the pads, they were transported to a corresponding location in a different part of the maze. For this test, the pads would save precious seconds.


“Go,” Jane shouted, starting the timer. Einstein didn’t budge. Instead, he looked back and forth between the obvious path and the first teleportation pad.


“Clock’s ticking,” Jane said to herself in frustration.


Einstein shrieked as he noticed the decreasing progress bar. A tentative paw step forward cleared the maze overview and put him in a six-inch-high virtual hallway. He waddled straight to the teleportation pad but stopped short. He turned his gaze to Jane as his whiskers moved back and forth, up and down. Jane stared back, willing him to make the right move.


The rat rolled forward on his trackball across the pad. The screen flashed, and he teleported to within a few steps of the exit. With a final glance at Jane, he spun through the gate with twenty seconds left on the clock.


Jane clapped her hands. “You did it.” She reached toward him. He clambered up her arm, slower now that he was out of the virtual world. She gave him a piece of cheese and returned him to the steel table.


“Impressive,” she said to the empty room. At times like this she wished someone could appreciate her triumphs. Her coworkers were at the bar. And Robbie? Robbie is Robbie. The warm smile of a mother flitted across her face as she thought about her son.


Einstein broke her reverie as he scratched and clawed at an iPad on the table. “It’s like having a second child,” Jane sighed to herself. She obliged Einstein’s pestering by starting an old episode of Sesame Street. The classic show was his favorite. Most other children’s programming bored him. His second-favorite genre was as far from the Children’s Television Workshop gang as you could get. One of Jane’s more unsavory assistants had decided to play Rated R comedies on the screen in the evening when the animals were alone in their cages. The crass movies entertained Einstein for hours despite the fact he couldn’t understand any of them.


Jane’s mobile phone vibrated. A message from her nanny read, “WHERE R U!!!” She glanced at the time in the lower right of her screen and gave a sharp intake of breath. I did it again, she chided herself.


“Leaving now. Sorry.” She almost typed a sad face emoticon but caught herself. It wouldn’t be well received. She pushed Send and dropped the phone on the lab table. She pounded the results of today’s tests into her computer, not bothering to correct spelling errors as she raced to enter her observations while they were still fresh.


The phone buzzed again. Jane gritted her teeth at the unnecessary back-and-forth. These nastygrams would only delay her departure. She reached for the phone in frustration, but Einstein was perched over it, staring at the screen. She nudged the little rodent back and set her jaw as she read the text.


The screen read, “Who is Einstein?” As she struggled to make sense of the nanny’s text, her eyes scanned back to the previous outbound message. She juggled her phone, almost dropping it on the floor.


The screen read, “I am Einstein.”


Jerry Kaczmarowski 10


Jerry Kaczmarowski released his latest thriller Sapient in April 2015. It is available for sale on Amazon in eBook and paperback.




Abandoned by her husband after the birth of their child, Jane Dixon’s world is defined by her autistic son and the research she does to find a cure for his condition. She knows her work on animal intelligence may hold the key. She also knows that the research will take decades to complete. None of it will ultimately benefit her son.


All that changes when a lab rat named Einstein demonstrates that he can read and write. Just as her research yields results, the U.S. government discovers her program. The army wants to harness her research for its military potential.  The CDC wants to shut her down completely.  The implications of animal intelligence are too dangerous, particularly when the previously inert virus proves to be highly contagious.


She steals the virus to cure her son, but the government discovers the theft. She must now escape to Canada before the authorities can replace her son’s mental prison with a physical one.


Praise for Sapient:


“A timely, winning adventure that brings up serious questions about technology and medical research.” – Reviewed by Kirkus


“The plot is fast-paced, thought provoking, funny at times, and kept me reading to find out what would happen next. I think that the YA audience will love it.” – Reviewed by Dana Bjornstad


“Sapient by Jerry Kaczmarowski is an intense, action-packed, suspenseful and thrilling read! The storyline is definitely unique and pulls readers in right away… The book was fast-paced, flowed nicely and provided a thought provoking message. I believe Sapient will really make readers wonder just how far and to what lengths they would go to save someone they love.” – Reviewed by Charity Tober for Readers’ Favorite


“I loved this story and I especially liked its animal characters – Einstein the lab rat with the keen sense of humor and Bear, the one-eyed German Shepherd dog who seems to always be the butt of Einstein’s jokes. And the human characters aren’t half bad either.” – Reviewed by Cheryl Stout


“A timeless, engrossing and perfectly-paced techno thriller about the promise – and fear – of modern medical science.” – Reviewed by Best Thrillers


About Jerry Kaczmarowski:


Jerry Kaczmarowski lives in Seattle with his family. He writes techno-thrillers that explore the benefits and dangers of mankind’s scientific advancement. His first book, Moon Rising, was released in June 2014.  His second book, Sapient, was published in April 2015.


Jerry spent the first twenty years of his professional life in the consulting industry on the West Coast. His fascination with technology is matched only by his love of stories. His books intertwine action with a keen insight into how technology will shape our lives in the coming years.


To learn more, go to http://www.jerrykaczmarowski.com/


Connect with Jerry on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.



Filed under BOOKS


Book Description
Publication Date: February 21, 2013
Jane Colt is just another recent college grad working as an Interstellar Confederation office drone—until the day she witnesses her best friend, Adam, kidnapped by a mysterious criminal. An extensive cover-up thwarts her efforts to report the crime, shaking her trust in the authorities. Only her older brother, Devin, believes her account.

Devin hopes to leave behind his violent past and find peace in a marriage to the woman he loves. That hope shatters when he discovers a shocking secret that causes him to be framed for murder.

With little more than a cocky attitude, Jane leaves everything she knows to flee with Devin, racing through the most lawless corners of the galaxy as she searches for Adam and proof of her brother’s innocence. Her journey uncovers truths about both of them, leading her to wonder just how much she doesn’t know about the people she loves.


I was given a copy of this book by the author for an honest review.

ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES is a great story. It has well-developed story line and characters. The action is a page turner and you don’t know what could happen. The story starts off with Devin and getting ready to propose to his girlfriend, when he surprises her at home and he sees that she pauses as if she is trying to find the right response like a robot. He then knows something is wrong with her and tries to find out what is going on. The story then goes to Jane, Devin’s sister, and her relationship with Adam. When she goes to his room at the temple, she sees that Adam is unconscious and being carried away by a robot. Things spiral out of control after that and Jane and Devin are fleeing for their lives and trying to find what has happened to Devin’s girlfriend and Jane’s friend Adam. I really loved this book and I give ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES 5/5 STARS. This is one author I will keep my eye on.





I thought that I would remind everyone that tomorrow is the BROKEN SOUL BLOG TOUR WITH AUTHOR FAITH HUNTER.  Stop on by and talk with Author Faith Hunter about her new book BROKEN SOUL- A JANE YELLOWROCK BOOK. Drop by join in on the fun.




BROKEN SOUL (Jane Yellowrock #8)
Publication: Oct. 7, 2014
ISBN: 9780451465955

Broken Soul blurb:
Jane Yellowrock is a vampire killer for hire—but other creatures of the night still need to watch their backs….
When the Master of the city of New Orleans asks Jane to improve security for a future visit from a delegation of European vampires, she names an exorbitant price—and Leo is willing to pay. That’s because the European vamps want Leo’s territory, and he knows that he needs Jane to prevent a total bloodbath. Leo, however, doesn’t mention how this new job will change Jane’s life or the danger it will bring her and her team.
Jane has more to worry about than some greedy vampires. There’s a vicious creature stalking the streets of New Orleans, and its agenda seems to be ripping Leo and her to pieces. Now Jane just has to figure out how to kill something she can’t even see….



Chapter One
Half-Dressed Vamp Gave a Come-Hither, Toothy Smile
Visiting the Master of the City of New Orleans was always challenging, but it was worse when he was in a mood. Leo Pellissier’s and personal residence had burned to the ground not so very long ago and the rebuilding was taking longer than he thought he should have to wait. Combined with the accidental media release of the upcoming arrival of a delegation of the European Mithrans—fangheads of state to the rest of us—and making the arrangements to house and feed his unwanted guests according to their usual kingly standards, his patience was wearing thin. Any equanimity he might have pretended to was long gone.
His Regal Grumpiness had demanded my presence. Yeah. I had called him that. From a safe distance, on my official, military-grade, bullet-resistant cell phone. I’m brave and all, but I’m not stupid.
I parked the SUV I had been driving lately—one of the MOC’s, a heavily armored gas-guzzler, fitted with laminated polycarbonate glass, the stuff often called bulletproof glass—in front of the Mithran Council Chambers and ascended the stairs, checking over the changes in the building’s security arrangements. The razor wire on the brick fence around the property in the French Quarter had caused quite a stir, various injunctions, and political posturing, but the New Orleans’ Vieux Carré Commission had caved when it was pointed out to them that Leo was currently, technically, something like a head of state, or maybe a Mithran ambassador, and the property was, therefore, currently, technically, not quite U.S. territory. The political relationships between the Secret Service, the Treasury Department, the United States legal system, and vamps were murky. Congress was still debating fanghead status and whether to declare them citizens or something else. I was betting on something else as the most likely outcome. It would be cheaper than rewriting the laws to include penalties for human blood-drinking; nearly immortal vampires, who were deathly allergic to sunlight, were strong enough to tear out iron bars, fast enough to be difficult to spot on standard security cameras, and had the ability to use their stalking compulsion and their blood to enslave humans and make them want to do stuff. Like let them walk free one night from any high-security prison. It was cheaper to consider them some form of noncitizen and therefore not subject to all U.S. laws.
I was in the middle of upgrading the security of the council house from an embassy-security precaution level to White House–security precaution level, to provide super-duper protection during the EVs’ upcoming shindig. Hence the razor wire; the increased number of dynamic cameras all over, with lowlight and infrared capability; the new, top-of-the-line automatic backup generators in case of power failure; the new automatic muted lighting that was being installed along all the hallways inside; the replacement of the decorative iron-barred gate in the brick fence with an ugly, layered-iron gate that weighed a ton and could resist a dump truck filled with explosives. Just for starters. The measures I had instituted were not Draconian but they were more stringent than the historical society liked on the outside and that the vamps themselves liked on the inside. All this for the visitation that no one wanted but no one could refuse. Not even the American vamps themselves.
A lot of ordinary humans in the U.S. were unhappy about the planned—but as yet unscheduled—visit by European vampires too, and there had been death threats made against the undead, mostly by extreme right-wing religious hate groups, neo-Nazis, fascist groups, one ultraliberal group, and several homegrown jihadist groups. No one was surprised at the reactions, but security preps had to include explosive, bacterial, and chemical attacks—as in weapons of mass destruction—and electronic attack. Even the State Department was getting in on it all.
But maybe odder than anything was the question that my team at Yellowrock were all asking. Why did the European vamps want to come here anyway?
As the head of YS and one of Leo’s current part-time Enforcers, it was my job to see that the Mithran Council Chambers—aka vamp HQ, aka vamp central—was secure. Go me. His Enforcer-in-training, Derek Lee, was helping and learning the ropes, even as he was trying to adjust to being an occasional dinner for Leo. Submitting didn’t come easy to any former active-duty marine, but several things had persuaded Derek: money; he’d get to kill vamps; he’d get to play with all the toys Uncle Sam and Sam’s R & D department came up with; his men would have constant employment. But there was something bigger too. Derek’s mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, and Leo had agreed to feed her his blood to help her heal. Family was more important than pride to Derek. More important than anything else.
It was an uneasy alliance just yet, made worse when Derek’s men had razzed him about the new job as Enforcer requiring him to provide blood-meals for Leo. But the men were settling in as semipermanent security, and most of them had found a vamp to feed. Vamps were hard to resist when they turned on the charm and the compulsion, and even marines had their limits when a gorgeous, half-dressed vamp gave a come-hither, toothy smile.
I went through the security precautions at the council house door, relinquished my weapons, and was led through the building by Wrassler, to Leo, who was clearly not in his office, since we went down the elevator, not up the stairs. I’d known Wrassler long enough to expect an honest answer when I asked, “How’s Leo?”
Wrassler—nicknamed so because he would make a professional wrestler look puny—rubbed a hand over his pate. It needed a shave and his palm made a rasping sound on the bristles. “He broke a lamp after you hung up on him.” I laughed and Wrassler added, his tone mild, “An original Tiffany worth over thirty thousand dollars.”
I stopped laughing. “Ouch.”
“Mmmm. His Mercy Blade was out of touch for an hour, and Leo needed to blow off some steam without killing anybody, so I invited Brian and Brandon to spar with him. Thanks to them, you’ll get to sit this one out and watch, rather than fight him when he’s annoyed.” Wrassler looked down at me from his several inches of height and said, “It ain’t pretty.”
And it wasn’t. The hot smell of sweat and blood hit me when I entered the small gymnasium and fighting rings, and my Beast perked up at the scent, interested. Brian and Brandon were Onorios, two of three in the entire U.S. They were faster than humans, had better healing abilities than humans, and probably had other mad skills and abilities that I didn’t know about yet. The rarity meant that few people knew what they were truly capable of or what their full abilities were. But it sure wasn’t besting a ticked-off master vamp in full-on kill mode.
Leo was barefooted, wearing black gi pants of a style I’d see him fight in before, his upper body bare and smeared with blood that hid most of his white scars, his black hair plaited flat to his head, except for loose strands flying as he moved. He was vamped out, his three-inch-long fangs clicked down and his pupils black in scarlet sclera. Despite the vampy-ness, he looked in control. Barely. Drawing on my skinwalker abilities, I took a sniff to determine the pheromone level of his anger and aggression.
One of the twins was out, facedown, lying off the fighting mat, his chest rising and falling, so, still alive. The other twin was in play, but his face looked like he’d been used as a punching bag. Which he had been. There was blood all over his white gi, the cloth hiding bruises and torn flesh between the fang rents. The sounds of thuds and slaps and grunts resounded on the air, echoing brightly through the open space. The standing twin spun away and hit the wall. I felt the impact through the floor and my Lucchese boot soles. He slid down the wall, leaving a bloody smear on the painted cement block.
“This isn’t good,” Wrassler murmured to me. “The two of them should have been able to hold their own against him.”
“Hmmm. Who else did you call?” I asked softly, as Leo screamed his triumph into the room, fists raised to the ceiling. My Beast peeked out and purred, and I shoved her down. This not the time, I thought at her.
“Grégoire. He’s on the way.” Wrassler checked his cell. “And Gee DiMercy should be here any minute.”
On his words, Gee DiMercy, Clan Pellissier’s Mercy Blade, walked through the door on the far side of the room. “Hallelujah, Holy Moses,” Wrassler murmured beneath his breath. It was a Southern Bible Belt phrase uttered by people in a certain age group, and though Wrassler looked too young to use it, he drank vamp blood, so he didn’t look his age, whatever it was.
“Your gramma say that?” I asked, as I watched Girrard DiMercy from a safe distance. The Mercy Blade was dressed in tight black pants and a billowing royal blue shirt, and he carried twin flat blades, both long swords with hand-and-a-half hilts for one- or two-hand fighting. His hair was back in a queue, tied with a narrow black band. The first time I’d seen him fight, he’d been saving my butt, and I hadn’t had time to admire his technique. Leo was focused on the approaching man, arms out, hands and talons ready, shoulders tensed, motionless as a crouching predator. Unbreathing, in that statute-still way of the vamps. Funnn, Beast murmured.
“Used to,” Wrassler murmured. “My mama. My daddy.” He added, his tone mesmerized, “Me.”
When he was twelve feet away, the Mercy Blade tossed Leo a blade, the overhead lights glittering on the steel edge. The vamp leaped high and whipped it out of the air, but the small swordsman was already moving. His blade left a long cut on Leo’s side. The Master of the City landed on the balls of his feet and slid away before the blade could bite deep, but his blood flowed fast from the slice.
Beside me, Wrassler tapped the mouthpiece of his headset and called for blood-servants to join him in the gym, his voice soft but demanding. Yeah. No matter what was going on, Leo was gonna be hungry; it would be wise to have donors on hand.
On the mat, the men danced with the swords, their bodies moving with deadly grace. Scarlet droplets flew on the air, the clang of steel so bright and sharp it hurt my eardrums. It was probably stupid, but I walked closer to get a better view.
The stench of pheromones increased and I rubbed a wrist on my nose to keep from sneezing. It was potent and heady, with the reek of violence and an underlying hint of wet feathers from the Mercy Blade and of raw power from Leo. But I’d smelled Leo fighting both ways: out of control and using his anger to power his vamp gifts. The difference was negligible, but it was there. Out-of-control Leo stank, an acrid taint on the air, tart as a rotten lemon. This was the other fighting scent. A show, controlled and planned, no matter how out of control and bloody it looked, no matter how bloody it was.
The fighters pirouetted away and back, the swords so fast they were a blur of light on steel and the clash of menace. Inside, Beast chuffed with delight. Down, girl, I thought at her. We’re not here to get sliced and diced. She huffed and turned her head away from me—a pointed insult.
The men on the mat locked blades and Gee grabbed Leo’s wrist, sticking out a leg and shoving his master across it. Leo landed with a thump. The point of Gee’s blade nicked Leo’s throat. The others in the room went silent, not even the sound of breathing echoing off the bare, white walls.
I lifted my hands and clapped, the sound slow enough to pass for bored. “Onorios heal fast. So do Mercy Blades. But it was a pretty show, boys.”
Leo kipped to his feet, actually breathing now, from the exertion. Off the mat, the twins rolled over, groaning, gasping, and smelling of pain. One of them cursed under his breath about the need for realism being “effing painful.” Gee DiMercy chuckled softly. “Indeed, you are a bruised mess, dear boy.” To me he asked, “And how did you know this was all a play, little goddess?”
Studying Leo, I tapped my nose and then tucked my fingers in my jeans pockets. “You smell different.”
Leo blew off his irritation and looked up at a blast of air from the door. He said something in French, and Grégoire, standing there, said something back. There was a time when I’d wanted to learn Chinese. Now I’d give a bundle to be able to speak French, even though I was betting Leo and his best boy-pal, sparring partner, combat comrade, and probably lover, were rattling off in some archaic form of the language that no human alive today could understand. Leo and Grégoire had both learned the language centuries ago, and languages evolve faster than most people think.
The two vamps helped each of the twins rise, and gave them sips of their own blood to drink to speed the healing. It was a little too much PDA for me, all the lips and teeth and tongues and bare skin, but then, I’m a prude by most standards, even by the cultural criterion of the Cherokee of the eighteen hundreds. I know that for certain because I was alive back then. Cherokee skinwalkers live a long time. And then we go insane and eat people. Go figure. I guess everything has a price.
“Will others discern that we do not fight in a rage?” Grégoire asked.
“I did warn you she would not be easy to dupe,” Gee DiMercy said. He was cleaning his blade as he walked, head down, a soft cloth that looked like silk on one side and chamois on the other stroking the blade in a hypnotic rhythm.
Answering Grégoire, I said, “Probably.” And then asked, “What others?” as I followed the vamps to the door where I had entered.
“The European Mithrans,” Brandon said. He balled up the hem of his torn gi top and wiped his chest. Grégoire’s eyes followed the action with a look that spoke of hunger, and not just blood-hunger. I was pretty sure Grégoire was poly-sexual. Or maybe pansexual. I wasn’t sure whether they were different and didn’t really want to know. That whole prude thing again.
“And you want them to think you’re fighting mad for what reason?” I asked as we pushed into the hallway.
“For les demonstrations,” Grégoire said. “So as to lull them into thinking they can defeat us, of course.” Which made no sense until he added, “They will challenge us to les Duels Sang, no?” His tone was excessively patient, the way an adult sounds explaining something to a three-year-old who’s been asking “Why?” all day long.
Duels Sang. Sang meant “blood” in French. They were training for Blood Challenges, the totally legal duels that established place and importance and right to rule. And were sometimes fights to the death. “Oh,” I said. Then I realized that likely meant me too. “Oh. Well, dang.”
Grégoire laughed again, the sound not unkind. “You will fight wonderfully, little cat. I have seen you.”
“Take Jane to my office,” Leo said to Wrassler. “See that a small repast is prepared and brought up maintenant. We will see to our toilette and join you.”
“Twa-let?” I asked when the males had entered the locker room set aside for bigwigs, and we were alone, heading to the elevator. “Like a French potty? One of those bidets?”
“He meant hot showers,” Wrassler said, “changing clothes. Healing wounds,” he finished, with a particular emphasis.
I nodded, pursing my lips. Hanky-panky. Gotcha. Well, at least they’d let me have food while I waited. Though I had to wonder how long the healing wounds would take. I only had all night, and mant’non could mean anything.
The elevator doors closed behind Wrassler and me. In the past, to reach most of the lower floors, a passenger had to swipe a security card. Now Wrassler rested his palm flat on an open plastic boxlike thing for his handprint to be read. I had implemented the security upgrades, but I’d wanted either retinal-scan devices or units that required a body-temp handprint, displaying adequate blood flow for life, to prevent anyone from cutting off the hand of an employee and using it to get around. Unfortunately, vamps didn’t have remotely human retinas, nor did they show signs of life as measured by a biometric screen, so I’d had to take the chance that no one would try an amputation. The system I had settled for recognized and stored all human employee and vamp handprints and gave the passenger the rights to access only specific floors. There were restrictions for most humans, and—because Leo couldn’t bind me like he wanted—that included me.
I had right of entry via the usual button control panel, to all the normal floors, but none of my measures had gotten me onto any of the mystery floors. Until now. The elevator started going down. “Uh, Wrassler? I thought we were supposed to be going up to Leo’s office. Why are we going down?”
A small explosion of breath escaped Wrassler and he looked up at the display in shock, his face going paper-white. “I don’t know, Janie. Something ain’t right.”
“How many subbasements are there?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said again, which was a surprise. “I think five. But I’ve never been down all the way before.” His face looked pale in the bluish light, and his sweat suddenly smelled of worry, which was odd. Wrassler topped my six feet and probably weighed in at 350, all of it hard muscle. He could take being rammed by a rhino and not even look ruffled. Something about his stance and expression made me pull my weapons. A silver stake from my bun and a small throwing knife from my boot. They weren’t much, but they were all I’d been able to conceal past the new security guys. The last crew woulda caught me out in an instant, but the new rotation was not quite up to their level of awareness. Yet.
Beside me, Wrassler also pulled a weapon. It was a handgun—or a small canon; take your pick—the five-round Taurus Judge model .45/.410. It was capable of chambering both Colt .45 ammo and .410, two-and-a-half-inch shotshell ammo. The ammo would punch a hole through a pine tree. Wrassler’s gun had been fitted with a fiber-optic sight, and he held it steady as the doors opened to a storage room. His shoulders relaxed and he holstered his weapon as he repalmed his print, and hit the floor button. The doors closed.
I put away my weapons, analyzing the floor I’d seen. The room had been full of cardboard boxes and old, metal-covered, hump-backed steamer chests, the kind that actually went on steamships and were full of rich people’s clothes. Or maybe on sailing ships, long before steam. It also contained lots of old books on shelves. And paintings. One or two had been in Leo’s home before it burned to the ground. Or maybe in Grégoire’s home. I couldn’t remember, but they were familiar. In one painting, I recognized the spotted fur on the lapel of a man wearing tights and poufy drawers and buckled shoes. Sitting at his feet were three beautiful vamps. One was Grégoire; the other boy and girl were unfamiliar, though all three wore period clothing like the vamp who stood over them. They also wore jewelry, Grégoire a red-stoned ring, the girl a delicate bracelet, and the dark-haired boy a necklace of a bird in flight, set with blue stones.
In another painting was Leo and another vamp, Leo’s predecessor, his uncle Amaury Pellissier. And then there had been the painting of Adrianna and a female vamp in clothing from the eighteen hundreds. Adrianna had tried to kill me on several occasions. Next time I saw her, her head was mine.
“Wrassler? Why’d we draw our weapons on a storeroom?”
Wrassler didn’t look at me when he answered. “Elevator’s been acting up all week. Taking us to the wrong floors. And there’ve been stories. Tales. For years. About a dark floor. Boo stuff.” Which I translated as stuff that went boo and made you jump in fear.
“Okaaay.” The elevator was rising again, and his scent now smelled of relief and the breakdown products of adrenaline. “So we’re good?”
Wrassler nodded, still not meeting my eyes.
“You know . . . Really. I need to see all the lower levels and all the access stairwells to determine the security needs. And I need admittance to them in advance of the Euro vamps’ visit.”
Wrassler pursed his lips as if holding in a comment. We’d discussed this before, and Wrassler had orders from Leo to keep me on the upper floors and the gym level. Leo was being stubborn, which meant that Leo had things to hide. I shook my head and looked from the conflicted blood-servant to the doors with proper elevator etiquette.
“This is essential, Wrassler. You know it is.”
When the elevator stopped again, it opened to the correct floor and we stepped out. I flipped open my fancy cell phone in its upmarket, Kevlar-topped carrying case and hit the number for home. The Kid answered, “YS,” pronouncing it Wise Ass, which he could do without a head slap because of the distance between us.
“Funny. Can you dial in to the elevator system at vamp HQ?”
“It’s not on the communal system, but Eli wired it during the upgrades. Why?”
No one had mentioned wiring the elevator to me, but we could deal with that later. In private. “The main elevator’s been taking people to the wrong floor. Get in and take a look-see, digitally and any other way you can figure out. If you can’t find anything, we need to get the Otis people in here, pronto.”
“The elevator repair company.”
“Will do.”
I closed the cell. If Eli’s unauthorized wiring had caused these problems, I might be in a world of hurt. Literally. But until I had proof that YS had caused the problems, I’d keep my worries to myself.
The small repast in Leo’s office was not small. By the time the waiters—wearing new liveries of black tuxedoes and white gloves—were done delivering food, setting it up to look pretty, and telling us what everything was, I was starving. There was a ten-pound bison roast on the center of the tea table, a copper tray of roasted, stuffed quail, a tray of cheeses, and one of fruit. There were also several bottles of wine—the dusty kind, with dry, curling labels that practically screamed expensive. Things were changing at vamp central and—with the exception of the varieties of meat—I wasn’t sure I liked all the hoity-toity alterations. Something about it set my dander up, as one of my housemothers used to say. “Why all the new duds?”
Wrassler explained while I loaded up a plate. “Leo will be moving into his new clan home, and with the Europeans coming, he wants the serving staff trained to present food and drink in the Continental manner, both here and there, for as long as the Mithran guests stay. Everything is to be perfect.”
He sounded worried and I had a feeling that the last line was a direct quote from Leo. Thinking, I plopped down in an upholstered chair and put my Lucchese-booted feet up on the coffee table. The boots, a gift from Leo, had been damaged the first time I wore them, and Leo had handled the repairs or replacement. I never asked which. They were gorgeous, and having them on the table was perfect for what I wanted to say. “Leo never read The Taming of the Shrew, did he?” I propped my plate on my flat belly and took a long slurp of wine. It tasted like, well, like wine. I grimaced and set the elegant crystal goblet aside. “Got any beer? That stuff is vile. It dries out my mouth.”
Wrassler pressed a button on the oversized desk. “Ask Quesnel for an assortment of beer, please,” he said. When he stood straight, he studied my posture. “Taming of the Shrew? You read Shakespeare?”
I lifted a leg, holding up a boot—black leather with green leaves and gold mountain lions embossed on the shafts. They were hand-constructed, hand-tooled, hand-stitched, hand-everything Lucchese Classics that sold for around three thousand bucks a pair. But they did not belong on a table. I crossed my ankles and set them back on the table.
“Past tense.” I chewed a bite of quail that simply exploded in my mouth with spicy, bacony, wild-bird flavor. “Holy crap,” I said around the mouthful of quail and bacon and some tiny little grain. “This is good.” It was also greasy and bony. I pulled a small bone from my mouth and dropped it on the plate with a piercing, crystal tinkle before licking my fingers. “In high school. For a while I thought I might like to go college. Turned out there wasn’t money in the children’s home budget for a kid whose grades were only a little above average. Anyway, before I figured that out, I took some courses. The story’s based on the concept that if you try to please someone, they’ll only turn on you and look down on you. But if you act like a barbarian—”
“Like the one licking her fingers right now?”
“—then the fancy schmancy folk won’t know how to act and you’ll win by default of not doing the expected thing.”
“I don’t think Leo will go for that, Janie.”
Behind him, the door opened and one of the penguins entered, carrying a tray of cool bottles. Not cold the way we serve them here in the U.S., but cool, the way they serve beer in Europe, the temp of a root cellar. Ick. But I popped the top and drank half of an Einbecker Ur-Bock. “He’ll never impress the EuroVamps. He’ll have to kill them all or prove he’s something different—more modern and newer than they are. Whatever. But not better at being what they are. Won’t happen no matter how hard he tries.”
Wrassler said a low “Hmmm” as I finished off the quail and started on the bison, picking the meat up with my fingers. I had noted the number of chairs in the small but opulent office, and figured that if I didn’t get my fill now, I might not get anything. It looked like a much bigger meeting than usual, and I had to wonder why we weren’t in the security conference room.
By the time my plate was empty, the men entered, smelling of various colognes and scented soaps and aftershaves. And endorphins. Yeah, they’d gotten happy.
They stopped in the foyer of the office proper, clustered in a fanghead/blood-meal group, and stared at me in what smelled like shock. I grinned up at them and licked my fingers again.
“Little Janie has suggested that we act the Petruchio to the Europeans’ Kate Minola,” Wrassler said, his voice toneless but his eyes dancing as he took in their reactions to my lazy sprawl. “American barbarians.”
Leo tilted his head, studying me, and he did that single-eyebrow-quirk thing that was so classy and that I totally could not do. I’d tried. In that moment he looked completely human, if a bit like he’d stepped out of the pages of a historical novel. He was wearing a shirt with draping sleeves and a round collar that tied at the throat, the ties hanging open. High-heeled leather boots went to his knees, with a pair of nubby silky pants tucked into them. Except for the boots, I’d seen him wear this outfit before. Either he had a dozen of them or he was wearing this pair out. I saluted the group with my beer and slurped, watching them.
Leo chuckled, his eyes crinkling up at the corners. When he laughed, he looked so normal, so human. It was uncanny and kinda scary that one of the most dangerous nonhumans I knew could appear so ordinary. He crossed the office proper and took up my deserted glass of wine. He drank deeply, his eyes still on me over the rim. “Barbarians, eh?”
“And tech experts. Modern people. Just a suggestion,” I said, and sucked the rest of the beer out of the bottle with one long, low-class glug. “So. Wha’s up, dudes?”

New York Times bestselling author Faith Hunter writes dark urban fantasy and paranormal thrillers, including the Skinwalker series, featuring rogue-vampire hunter Jane Yellowrock, and the Rogue Mage series, a post-apocalyptic, alternate reality series, featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. She has a new series under wraps.FaithHunter5Small


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Book Description
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Jane Yellowrock is a vampire killer for hire—but other creatures of the night still need to watch their backs….

When the Master of the city of New Orleans asks Jane to improve security for a future visit from a delegation of European vampires, she names an exorbitant price—and Leo is willing to pay. That’s because the European vamps want Leo’s territory, and he knows that he needs Jane to prevent a total bloodbath. Leo, however, doesn’t mention how this new job will change Jane’s life or the danger it will bring her and her team.

Jane has more to worry about than some greedy vampires. There’s a vicious creature stalking the streets of New Orleans, and its agenda seems to be ripping Leo and her to pieces. Now Jane just has to figure out how to kill something she can’t even see….


I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley for an honest review.

BROKEN SOUL will leave you on the edge of your seat. Jane is in deep with vampire politics and somebody wanting to kill her, she also has to get everything ready for the European Mithrans coming to town. While taking lessons on swordsmanship, Vamp HQ is attacked by a creature of myth, L’arcenciels, a creature of light. Also the Devil‘s Three show up and this is when the shit really hits the fan. During practice with swords, Jane ends up paralyzing Grégoire. This is a great fighting match between these two characters. She has a bomb left on her doorstep, and then she also has a sniper trying to kill her. The characters and storyline are well-developed.  I love the inner monologue she has with Beast. It always puts a smile on my face . If you have followed the series and you are rooting for something to happen between Jane and Bruiser, you better read the book. 🙂 BROKEN SOUL will not disappoint, and I give it 5/5 stars. If you have not started this series, I urge you to do so.