Title: A Scarlet Fury
Author: Bridget Blackwood
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours
It has been almost a year since mankind became aware of the world in shadows. It's been an adjustment, but life goes on and most have learned to adapt. There are some on both side that are not ready to let go of their plans. Madalaina Bonvillian believed nothing could harm her; she's the daughter of the former alpha and the sister of the current alpha, who would dare? After surviving a brutal attack, Madalaina must try to move forward, but where do you go when you feel like you've lost yourself? Cleary Neil has kept his feeling for Madalaina to himself. He's been her friend, and now that's what she needs more than anything. The only problem is he can't shut off the part of himself that wants to protect his mate from the pain and confusion he sees in her. Together they will go on an emotional journey to find out if love can heal all wounds. Time is of the essence, because enemies are gathering.
I'm a hopeless romantic and a sucker for love stories with a happy ending. I grew up in East Texas where I married my high school sweetheart. We've called Southern Illinois home for over a decade now.
Excerpt from book #1
I sat on the screened in back porch, and watched the wind send ripples across the lake. It was after midnight. The only light shining in the darkness was from the moon. A loon serenaded me from the water and occasionally I’d hear wolves calling to each other. All in all, it was peaceful. The trees around the back of Athan’s cabin were thicker, growing closer together. I smelled the fresh pine scent more out here than I did when I was out in the front yard.
The weather was turning cold. Soon it would be sweater weather. I’d have to go into town to buy one or remain inside. I wasn’t ready to deal with crowds or people yet.
Staying inside won’t be too terrible. Sure, keep tellin’ yourself that.
The door to the house opened and Athan padded over silently on bare feet to take a seat in the chair across the patio table from me.
“What’s up, M? Why aren’t you in bed asleep?” he asked.
I drew my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around my legs. “Nightmares. I don’t sleep much anymore.”
“Want to talk about it?”
Raising one eyebrow, I asked him dryly, “You wanna talk about why you never sleep either?”
Athan looked down at his feet and glared.
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
We had been quiet for several minutes before Athan broke the silence, “Tell me about Livia.”
One side of my mouth tipped up into a half-smile. “Livia is the most awesome kid I’ve ever met. I hated to learn at her age but she wants to know everything about everything. She shares Dad’s a voracious appetite for books. The two of them can sit in his library and read for hours. She’s really close to Mom which was surprising since Mom hasn’t been fond of people in a long time. Mom knows all Livia’s secrets and is her number one confidant. Remember Mom’s rose garden?”
He asked dryly, “The one none of us were allowed to step foot in?”
I laughed, remembering all the times we tried to sneak in and she caught us.
“Yep. Mom lets everyone sit in the rose garden now and enjoy the flowers. She’s teaching Livia how to care for them and it appears the kid inherited Mom’s green thumb.”
Athan grunted his response. I wondered if I was making him regret his decision to leave his daughter behind.
“We celebrated her 8th birthday on August 17th, two weeks before…before Rachel and me….” My heart was shuddering.
Athan cut through my near flashback. “Hey! Focus, M. We’re talking about Livia, remember? Let the other stuff go. It can’t touch you here.”
I wish that were true.
“You said Livia just turned eight. How’s that possible? She was five when I left a year ago.”
“Well, if you’d stuck around you’d know we learned Royal Reds tinkered with their mojo a long time ago to accelerate their children’s development. Seems kids are an inconvenience to them, but heirs are necessary. Things were a little wonky at first because Livia is part Lycan and that slowed it down somehow. But after she’d turned six, it shot into high gear. Livia ages an entire year every ninety days. Rachel’s determined she won’t be cheated out of childhood so on the seventeenth of February, May, August, and November there’s a birthday dinner. At first it was a bigger thing, but people got tired of coming every three months to celebrate the same kid’s birthday.” I shrugged.
Athan was bent at the waist, forearms resting on his knees. He stared at the floor with a troubled brow. “How does Livia handle the aging? Is it hard for her?”
I sighed deeply. “A little. Her body matures fast, sometimes she has pain but Dr. Keller treats her.”
“A Vampire?” Athan spat.
“Yes, a vampire.” I held up my hands like claws and hissed to show him my imaginary fangs. “Would you rather she be in pain?”
“No,” he said contritely. “But did you have to call a vampire?”
“Yes. Get over it.” I shot back. “Livia’s manifested some Fae abilities, mostly over fire. Right now they’re minor but I expect they’ll grow stronger as she does. It’s frightening for her, I’m sure. I wish Winter were still alive to help her, to answer her questions about being Fae.”
Talking about Winter brought back the ache of her loss.
“I have a deck of cards in the house, want to play?”
I saw a glimpse of the old Athan in his eyes, the one I knew when I was a kid. We played cards until the sun came up. In the daytime, dreams don’t seem as frightening. If I woke up and the sun was shining I remembered I was safe, no longer being raped and beaten. In the dark, the demons that haunted my sleep seemed more powerful.
Excerpt from book #2
The gym looked dingy to the untrained eye with its unpainted concrete walls and floors. Very little decoration adorned the building and the dominant color was grey. The equipment was where the money had been spent. The boxing ring was brand new, top of the line weight sets lined one side of the gym, and all the machines were cutting edge.
Nikolai was beating the life out of a punching bag when I found him. He wore a black tank top and black army type pants tucked into black boots. A sheen of perspiration glowed on his dark complexion. He’d tied a black bandana over his skull cropped hair to keep the sweat out of his eyes.
Does he own any color other than black?
He wasn’t winded at all by the vigorous activity. Without stopping his exercise, Nikolai said, “Tsura tells me you want to learn how to fight as a Wraith.”
“I can’t shift. The drugs that prevented me from doing it are gone, but my wolf is repressed or something.” I hated admitting it to him, but I was defenseless without the ability to change.
Nikolai stopped the swinging bag and nodded at me, “I appreciate your honesty. I can do more to prepare you if you’re honest. Let’s move to the mats and begin.”
Fluttering butterflies in my stomach had me on edge. Nikolai was confident in his ability to disarm and disable attackers. I was confident in my ability to get my ass kicked. We spent an hour of him showing me moves and me executing them all wrong. I was frustrating him and felt like a failure.
“Enough, Madalaina!” He shouted. “I will not allow you to quit. Find your center and calm yourself. No one can protect themselves wound tight like a coil. Remember two things, you will defeat your adversary or you will die after leaving him with a lasting injury to remember you forever. Both are victories. There is no defeat for you.”
Wow, he could make a killing as a motivational speaker.
We started anew. I couldn’t call my wolf to the surface, but I could connect with her. She provided me the Zen Nikolai wanted me to adopt, reminded me I was stronger and faster than the average person without needing to be in my Lycan form. I wasn’t alone in the fight. We were a team, she and I. My newfound confidence saw me picking up the moves Nikolai showed me with ease.
“Very good, Madalaina. You’re a fast learner once you get over the roadblocks in your mind,” he playfully tapped my forehead.
I wiped fly away hairs from my face, “I appreciate your help. It means a lot, you teaching me.”
I embarrassed him. He blushed and cleared his throat. “Yes, well, we have a ways to go before I feel good about you running loose on the streets. We should meet four times a week, does that work with your schedule?”
“I’ll make it work,” I said.
Nikolai put his hands on his hips and rolled his neck. I’d gotten him trapped in a pretty gnarly headlock right at the end of training. “Good. Much easier than Tsura. She waits and calls me at the last minute for our training sessions. If she weren't such a worthy opponent, I’d hand her off to someone else.”
My eyes bugged out in disbelief, “Tsura’s a worthy opponent? My Tsura?”
Nikolai scoffed, “You’re Tsura is a pampered princess. My Tsura, the one I see in here, she’s fierce and can take a seasoned warrior to the mat.” Pride shone in his eyes.
“That’s amazing.” Puzzled, I furrowed my brow, “I never knew that about her. I wonder what else I don’t know.”
Grimly Nikolai patted my shoulder. “Let her have her secrets. She’s allowed so few.”