Tag: Michele Hauf

Guest Review: The Witch’s Quest by Michele Hauf

Posted October 9, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Witch’s Quest by Michele HaufReviewer: Tracy
The Witch's Quest by Hauf Michele
Series: The Saint-Pierres #9
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: October 10th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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Series Rating: four-stars

The witch's redemption...

Kelyn Saint-Pierre always had a bit of a thing for Valor Hearst. But after he makes a harrowing sacrifice to save the tomboyish witch from a gruesome death, Kelyn's certain that any spark between them is gone forever.

Valor wishes she'd known about Kelyn's crush before she ruined everything. There may be a way she can repay her smoking-hot champion...but it won't be easy. Circling the globe on a dangerous mission that pits them against deadly magics and dark creatures, Kelyn and Valor are pushed scorchingly close together. But surrendering to passion may only further bind them in pain...

Valor is a witch and is trying to do a spell in an enchanted forest to make herself more lovable.  Unfortunately she’s caught by one of the enchanted trees and is slowly being sucked into the ground.  The only way to free her is to have someone in Faery push her out from the other side.  Too bad she doesn’t know anyone who can actually get into Faery.

Kelyn Saint-Pierre is part Faery but has never been able to get into Faery.   He would love nothing more but it’s not in the cards.  When he comes across Valor he wants to help her and the only way to do that is to sacrifice his wings to a demon who has agreed to help.

Once Valor is free she knows she has to get Kelyn’s wings back and goes about trying to find a spell that will open a portal to Faery for them.  Kelyn’s up for it and the two set off on a grand but scary adventure that brings to two closer together then either thought possible.

I really liked the premise of this book and it was set up nicely to start.  I instantly felt the connection between Valor and Kelyn and was rooting for them throughout the book.  The things they went through, for the most part, were pretty harrowing and I admired their determination.

There were a couple of parts in the book that I thought were superfluous but maybe that was just me.  I didn’t care for Kelyn’s attitude once they were in Faery and the fact that Valor forgave him so quickly once he apologized kind of bugged me.  I wanted him to grovel more because he’d been an ass.

Despite that I liked the book and thought it was a fun read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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Guest Review: The Werewolf’s Wife by Michele Hauf

Posted April 10, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Tracy’s review of The Werewolf’s Wife by Michele Hauf

Alpha wolf Ridge Addison left his wife in Las Vegas, vowing to put their one reckless night of passion behind him and return to his clan. Thirteen years later he needs a divorce so he can become pack leader. Yet he’s never forgotten the sensuous witch whose life he saved…or the knee-buckling kisses he still craves.

After they parted, Abigail tried banishing Ridge from her memory. Now her heart belongs only to her son. But when the boy is kidnapped, she knows she alone can’t save him. Though Abigail’s body still aches for Ridge, she’s willing to give him his freedom in exchange for his help. But who will shield her heart from the only man she’s ever let claim her, body and soul?

Thirteen years ago in Las Vegas Ridge Addison saved a witch from burning at the stake. That sounds like it means this book is a historical but it’s a contemporary paranormal. The witch is being burned by her lover – for reasons unknown at the time – and Ridge drives in and kicks some butt. Ridge and the saved witch, Abigail, then proceed to get rip roaring drunk, laugh their asses off and in a majorly stupid drunken move decide to get married…by Elvis. The couple consummate the marriage but things go a bit haywire and the two end up parting ways.

Now Ridge is the Principle (or Alpha) of his pack and family is a major issue. Ridge doesn’t have one and he needs one so he needs to find Abigail to get a divorce. When he finds her with divorce papers in hand he is met by a woman in a panic who wants nothing to do with him. He manages to talk his way into the house but finds that Abigail is beside herself because she just found out that her son has been kidnapped. She has 48 hours to find a specific vampire and bring him to the meeting place in order to get her son back.

Ridge is an honorable man and decides to help Abigail find the vamp to get her son back. While the couple is on their trek they realize that they not only have a great attraction for each other but that they just might love each other.

The story, I felt, was more a suspense story than a romance although the romance did play heavily in it. The finding of the vampire and all that entailed, the meeting with the kidnappers and then more suspense after that, Ridge finding out that the child may be his – there was a lot going on.

I’m not quite sure how to explain how I felt about the romance. I think that the romance itself was ok so I think maybe it was the characters that I just didn’t particularly care for. Ridge was a great guy – strong, honorable – just wonderful…but I didn’t feel like he had any self confidence. He had been pushed around and abused in many different ways in his life and it obviously affected his adult self but for all his accomplishments of getting himself to the alpha position I felt that he still didn’t think very highly of himself.

Abigail was a very old witch. She’d lived about 400 years or more and had seen a lot of stuff. She had also been an extremely bad witch from what we’re told but had tried to be good since her son was born. She was trying to turn over a new leaf but it was hard for her. I truly never got a sense of who Abigail was except a loving mother – which was good, but just didn’t go far as far as the romance was concerned. She was very stubborn and argumentative but that worked for the story line.

I really liked the premise of the story but in the end the characters themselves really didn’t capture me. I figured out who had kidnapped the son almost immediately and was shocked that the h/h were in the dark – they seemed like much smarter people than that.

Rating: 3 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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What I Read Last Week

Posted April 3, 2012 by Tracy in Features | 5 Comments

It’s April! Can you believe it? This year is going way too fast for my liking! lol
Thanks again for all the birthday wishes for my hubby. We had a couple of nice celebrations for him and rang in his new year rather well. 🙂
I won’t go in to the fridge and the water hook up because frankly it’s absolutely ridiculous. The end result – no…it’s not hooked up yet. They came but were unable to hook it up. Maybe by the time I’m 60 or so they’ll get it fixed. Of course by that time I’ll need a new fridge. lol
It was a good reading week…
I started off with All She Wrote by Josh Lanyon. The continuation of the Holmes and Moriarity series has Christopher heading off to Connecticut to help an old friend run a readers weekend at her house. The woman was once a mentor to Christopher so he’s happy to help. The woman actually thinks that there’s someone trying to kill her and wants Christopher to investigate. There’s much suspense and speculation about what’s really going on but it did drag a bit for my liking and I wanted to be on the edge of my seat. J.X. and Christopher also take their relationship to a new level and I’m curious to see what happens next to the couple as Christopher still seemed a bit ambivalent about the whole pairing. 4 out of 5
Next I read Just Down the Road by Jodi Thomas. This was a great installment in her Harmony Texas series. We got to meet new characters and see recurring ones and find out what’s happening there. You can read my review here. 4.5 out of 5
Rules of the Game by Sandy James was my next read. This was the story of a woman who feels that she needs a certain type of man to be her companion when he hits her high school reunion. She heads to a bar to pick him up and so our love story begins. Maybe this one spoke to me because I picked my hubby up in a bar as well lo those many years ago. lol You can read my review here. 4 out of 5
My Tracy’s TBR Challenge read for the week was Primal Bonds by Jennifer Ashley. I didn’t read the first book in this series but I liked what I read in this one. It had a wolf shifter heading to Texas to get away from a mate-claim that the son of her alpha was proposing. She then gets mate-claimed by a wildcat shifter and it’s all supposed to be on paper – not real. But the couple find their attraction is so much more. The story also revolves around a group of shifters that’s trying to take over the human part of the world but taking fellow shifters down at the same time. It was a good paranormal. 4 out of 5
Improper Relations by Juliana Ross is a novella that comes out later this month. It’s the story of a poor relation living with her deceased husband’s family and acting as companion. When she witnesses her cousin-by-marriage having sex with a maid she’s intrigued by the fact that the woman actually enjoyed it. Women enjoying sex? How odd! lol They start a sexual relationship that eventually turns into more. I’ll post my review later this month. 4 out of 5
Sleeping Angel by Greg Herren was the story of a youth who gets in a car accident and is in a coma for 2 weeks. When Eric wakes up he finds that he has amnesia and can’t remember a thing about who he is or who anyone is for that matter. He also has no idea why he had a guy in the back seat of his wrecked car that had been shot. Eric tries to put the pieces of his life back together little by little by asking questions. What he finds is that he really doesn’t care for the person that he’s hearing about, the things he did and said. He also starts making waves when he makes headway into finding out who shot his one time friend. I thought when I first started reading this that it was an m/m book. While the story does focus a bit on Eric’s one time friend who were gay and Eric’s bullying of said “friend” it’s more a book about a boy finding out who he really is. I didn’t care for Eric all that much when I found out about his gay bullying but he definitely grew on me. I also had some issues with his very good friend who was gay and wouldn’t stand up for his partner when Eric was verbally abusing him. In the end though I thought it was a really good book and I’m glad I read it. 4 out of 5
Next up was Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville. This was more of a “Holy shit I’ve been caught with my head up a ladies skirt and dammit it wasn’t the lady I thought it was – guess I shouldn’t have had so much to drink” kind of marriage. lol In order to avoid scandal a couple gets married. This is the story of them trying to deal with it all – especially since they don’t like each other at all. I’ll post my review of this one this week.
Last for the week was The Werewolf’s Wife by Michele Hauf. A werewolf saves a witch from burning at the stake (no, not a long time ago – in modern times) and they end up getting drunk and then married. They part ways and 13 years later he looks her up so that he can get a divorce. Interesting. She is in a panic when he comes to the door because she’s just found out that her 12 year old son has been kidnapped. She engages the werewolf to help her and he’s none too pleased when he finds out that the kid MAY be his. It was a good story but the characters just didn’t speak to me that much. I’ll post my review on The Book Binge next week. 3 out of 5
My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Happy Reading!

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Publisher Spotlight Excerpt: Angel Slayer by Michele Hauf

Posted May 28, 2010 by Holly in Features, Promotions | 0 Comments

Angel Slayer (Silhouette Nocturne)Read an excerpt of Angel Slayer by Michele Hauf, available June 1, 2010 from Nocture.


Eden Campbell worked the small corner art gallery across the street from Chelsea Park like a pro. Though she cautioned herself not to break into song or shout, “Hey! This is my first gallery showing and it means the world to me, and it’s going well!”

No, that would be crass. Beyond the occasional eccentricity, she was known for her calm, collected demeanor–and her killer legs, which she’d decided to showcase as well as her artwork this afternoon.

She was happiest in sweats and a T-shirt when painting, but she could do the sexy businesswoman look, too. A black leather skirt skimmed her thighs. A white long-sleeved silk blouse boasted a deep V-neckline and ruffles at wrist and waist. Diamond chandelier earrings added a necessary touch of romance. She’d pulled her waist-length wavy hair into a loose ponytail to keep it from tangling in her earrings. Sexy violet suede stilettos finished the look with a promise of things Eden usually only whispered, and only to men.

She unbuttoned her left sleeve because her forearm tingled weirdly, much like getting hit in the funny bone. The thought to scratch it was put off when she caught the eye of a woman in black horn-rims who thrust her a discerning nod.

“Act professional,” she coached inwardly. “You want them to take your work seriously.”

As seriously as a woman with preternatural knowledge of the heavenly ranks could be taken. That was a detail she kept close to the cuff.

The people milling about were all like her–rich, stylish, entitled–but not like her. Eden wondered if they had heartbreaks, dreams and obsessions. Or did they simply exist on the surface, decorating themselves to catch an approving nod from the right kind and class of person?

Eden didn’t require approval. She wanted to exist in her world, even if it wasn’t like their world beneath the surface. She tried to fit in, and succeeded. Most saw her as a privileged society woman who attended charity balls and had once been a common fixture on Page Six.

But this artistic side of her was the real Eden, no fake smiles allowed. This showing was her attempt to show them she needed to breathe her own air, as different as that may be.

It was easier for her to walk behind people and listen in on conversations about her work than to boldly approach a visitor face-to-face. Control the urge to tell them what you know. It’s all there on the canvas; they can figure it out for themselves. Sure, a few friends were in the mix for support, but Todd, who worked part-time at the gallery, and Cammie, a friend since prep school, lingered somewhere off near the wine and cheese.

Eden caught the middle of a conversation and frowned.

“But angels are heavenly beings. Innately good,” the critic argued with a friend. “What the heck is that?”

That was one of her favorite pieces.

Eden painted only angels, but their variety was as vast as her imagination. Rarely did she paint a winged angel descending on a beam of light from the clouds. That image had been overdone.

And really, she knew fluffy wings and white robes were all wrong.

Hence, her titanium angel with steampunk-geared wings of binary code. Its face was hollow, exposing honeycomb bone, and silver filaments sprouted on the skull. A halo spun like the rings of Saturn at the back of its head. The angel’s grin was more seductive than some of the expressions Eden had seen on her lackluster dates of late.

“It’s blasphemous,” the critic decided.

Eden shrugged and walked on. Definitely not her sales base. Didn’t matter. She wasn’t showing her work to make a profit; she simply wanted to hear what others thought. And so far most of the feedback had been awesome.

A particular man caught her eye. He stood before The Fall, her depiction of an angel falling from the heavens. The angel wore a devious smile on its glass face and its redwood wings blazed with blue fire. Steel rain extinguished some of the flame. Its halo, detached, cut through the rain, spattering it like oil stains. A single crystal tear dripped from the angel’s eye and stained the ground it had yet to touch.

Though he was unusual in appearance, the man who studied her work didn’t shock Eden. All sorts crowded Manhattan; she loved the exercise in individuality. Silver-white hair punked about his head. He wore a black eye patch over his left eye, and a tight white T-shirt enhanced considerable abs. Gleaming silver hardware hung from his ears, nose, eyebrows and chin. Leather pants hugged his lanky legs like plastic wrap, rendering the belts buckled about his thighs and hips unnecessary. The entire look screamed anarchist raging for a fire to fan.

Paralleling him, Eden waited to see if he would make the first comment. She didn’t like to influence her viewers one way or another.

A familiar scent emanated from him. Sweet and subtle like fruit. He smelled enticing, which baffled her because she was not attracted to his type–it was Wall Street business suits all the way for her.

Her forearm tingled again, like the pins and needles sensation she got when her arm or leg fell asleep. What could it be from? She hadn’t challenged Cammie to a match of tennis for weeks. She shrugged up her sleeve to scratch, then reminded herself to be cool.

When finally the punk jerked a shoulder back and looked at her it was as if she had materialized beside him out of the blue.

“Sorry,” Eden offered politely. “Didn’t mean to surprise you.”

“My fault. I was lost in the painting. It’s interesting. You are very…” His one pale gold eye squinted as he studied her face. Rather, gold was the prominent color. Many colors glittered like a kaleidoscope in that single eye. A trace of blue curled out the bottom of the eye patch. Must be a tattoo.

“Unremarkable,” he finally announced. “Your voice is green,” he continued. “Square. And your scent…” He sniffed. “Smooth. But those shoes. Violet. Yes. Nice. Short leather skirt. Hair… chestnut.”

His weird inventory unsettled Eden. She didn’t judge people by their clothing choices, personal habits or even religion. Hell, she’d been judged far too many times.

Intuition, on the other hand, had a tendency to knock a little too late on her skull.

“Who are you?” He tilted his head and looked her up and down. It was the most uncomfortable dressing down Eden had ever experienced. She should politely dismiss herself.

Yet what was with her arm? Eden’s divided attention pestered her. Something strange was going on beneath the silk sleeve. That was the last time she took her shirts to the dry cleaners on Fifth. She suspected they weren’t as green as their ads claimed to be.

“I’m the artist,” she offered and thrust out her hand. The punk looked at it a few moments before shaking it. “Eden Campbell.”

“Eden. How…sardonic. Means nothing. What I want to know is how you know all… this.”


“That!” He gestured angrily toward the painting. “You’ve quite the talent. One could call it a preternatural talent.”

“You think?” Heartbeats skipping, Eden beamed at the painting. No one had ever labeled her work that way. She was the only one who believed she had–

Stop it, Eden. He hasn’t a clue. Do not make a fool of yourself .

“If I were of the mind to purchase I’d buy them all,” he remarked, “but unfortunately I’ve no permanent residence. Bit of a world traveler.”

“That must be exciting.”

“There is something about you, Eden.” He leaned in close and his fruity scent enticed her to remain in place, despite the creepy stranger signals he was sparking out at her. “Do you by chance,” he whispered, “wear a sigil on your body?”

“A sigil?” That was a weird question, but oddly intuitive.

Could he also know what she knew?

The man glanced about the crowded gallery, not appearing too interested in her response.

No. What Eden knew about her paintings was private, personal. He hadn’t a clue, and she didn’t dare discuss it because she had a healthy fear for mental wards.

Compelled to get away from the man, Eden slipped away while he studied the painting, insinuating herself behind a few tall men in business suits.

Todd appeared and slipped a goblet of pinot noir into her grasp. “I thought you were taking off before six, Eden? I can close up shop and handle the stragglers.” He tugged at his pink tie; it clashed brilliantly with his purple shirt and his soft emerald eyes.

“Thanks, Todd. Did you talk to the guy with the white hair and all the nose rings?”

“Not yet. He just wandered in. Creepy?”

“To the tenth degree. He makes me feel uncomfortable.” And yet, intrigued. Could a person be compelled and repelled at the same time?

“Want me to go punch him for you?”

She hugged Todd across the shoulders. “No. Save those valuable fingers for your IT work. I think I’m going to sneak out, though. I’ve been here six hours. Need to sit and put my feet up. See you tomorrow evening for part deux of Eden Campbell’s fabulous debut.”

“I’ll be here. But it’ll be a close call. I’ve a shift at Cloud Nine until five.” He kissed her check. “Talk to you later, sweetie.”

Eden tilted down the wine and claimed her purse from the office before deftly making her way toward the front door.

Rolling up her left sleeve as she gained the door, she spied the top of the strange man’s white hair. He still stood before The Fall. His attention was rapt, so she was able to slip out without his notice.

After hobnobbing in the stuffy gallery for hours, Eden welcomed the refreshing summer rain. She lifted her face to catch the light mist. She should have utilized her father’s limo, always at her disposal, but the driver’s son turned twelve today, so she’d given him the day off. She wasn’t one of those trust-fund babies who thought they were entitled to everything. At least, she tried not to be.

The July sun peeked through the clouds and glinted high on the windows of another trendy little gallery across the street. She examined her forearm. It had stopped tingling and the skin wasn’t red so it couldn’t be a rash.

Tapping the birthmark below her inner elbow, she wondered at what the punk had asked her.

Do you wear a sigil on your body?

“How could he know?” Was it possible he knew things like she did?

“No.” He must have seen her tug up her sleeve. Talk about a cheap pickup line at its strangest.

Waving her arm, she sought a cab. The sidewalk was cluttered with people en route to the subway for the supper rush. Toeing the curb, Eden was distracted by the sudden appearance of the white-haired man charging toward her.

A cab pulled up with a squeal.

Startled by the man’s intent path toward her, Eden rushed for the cab’s back door and managed to open it just as the punk grabbed her by the wrist.

“You were holding out on me, Eden.”

The wild look in his eye cautioned her. His crooked grin freaked her. “Let go of me!”

He stroked his fingers over her forearm. “A number. That’s an interesting one. Six,” he pronounced with a hiss.

She struggled, but his grip pinched her skin.

Then he did something so bizarre Eden could but stand, frozen like a scared alley cat, and watch. He licked her forearm, right below the weird birthmark that looked like a Roman numeral six. As if from a cat’s tongue, the contact abraded her skin.

His exposed eye now glowed a brilliant blue as he drew his gaze up to hers.

Survival impulse kicked in. Eden leaned against the cab and kicked high. The spike of her heel sunk into his gut. The man staggered backward with a yowl of pain.

Eden bent and landed in the backseat of the cab butt-first. “Go!” she yelled. “There’s a creep after me.” She slammed the door shut as the cab spun away from the curb.

“Fight with the boyfriend?” the cabbie asked in a Texan accent.

“What?” She was so flustered, she sat sprawled across the backseat, arms groping for hold and one leg still poised for another kick against the door. “Boyfriend? No, he dumped me after the–No! I’ve never seen the guy before.”

“They’re all a bunch of crazies. Where to?”

“Just drive!”

She shuffled upright on the seat and looked out the rear window. The punk’s arms pumped vigorously.

“He’s running after us!” He couldn’t possibly catch a car on foot, could he? “Take the next left turn. Don’t slow down or let him catch up.”

“Yes, ma’am. A car chase. Haven’t done one of those in a while.”

“Yeah? There’s a big tip in it for you if you lose the guy.”

“He’s on foot.” The cabbie gunned the engine. “No problem.”

Shaking the rain from her hair and tugging up her sleeve, Eden stroked her forearm. It was pink.

“He licked me,” she said in horror.

“What did you say?”

“That man, he licked me. Why do you think he’d do that? Oh my God, I wonder if he has AIDS? No, I couldn’t get it that way. What are you doing? I said don’t stop!”

“Sorry, ma’am, red light.”

Eden twisted up onto her knees and scanned the sidewalk. No sight of the punk. He was thin and she hadn’t nailed him for being overly strong. That she’d been able to kick him away impressed her inner kick-ass chick. He must have given up. Though it was likely a man on foot could catch a cab in this rush-hour traffic–


The man landed on the trunk of the car on all fours, as if an animal had dropped from above.

“Holy crap,” the cabbie said, and rolled through the green light. “That is a mite dangerous.”

“Shake him off,” Eden warbled nervously. She slid her hand along her thigh, feeling for the small blade she kept strapped there. “He’s climbing onto the top of the cab.”

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” the cabbie protested.

A sudden right turn resulted in a clatter across the top of the vehicle. Eden saw the punk land on the asphalt–on two feet. Not like he’d been whipped off the car and couldn’t catch his bearings. He was agile and determined. One glowing blue eye remained focused on the cab.

“Unbelievable,” the cabbie said. “There’s a short tunnel ahead. We’ll lose him in there.”

“Go for it!”

The punk stood in the middle of the road, right on the yellow no-pass center line. Arms curved out in a fierce stance, he stomped one booted foot and snarled.

Eden couldn’t comprehend this.

He must be on drugs to have survived being thrown from the top of the car, and then to stand as if nothing had happened. Now he ran after the cab like some indestructible robot from a sci-fi movie.

“Drive faster!”

The cab interior went dark. The red lights lining the inner walls of the tunnel flashed intermittently. The cab slowed.

“What are you doing? Traffic is going faster than this. Keep up!”

“It’s… an… angel…” the cabbie said in a wondrous tone.

This book is available from Harlequin Nocturne. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Publisher Spotlight Excerpt: Her Vampire Husband by Michele Hauf

Posted May 21, 2010 by Holly in Features, Promotions | 2 Comments

Her Vampire Husband (Hqn)Read an excerpt of Her Vampire Husband by Michele Hauf, available now from HQN.


“I would rather be home dyeing my hair.”

Blu Masterson peeked between the heavy red curtains that stretched two stories high. She searched for her groom, but no particular man stood out amongst the huge crowd on the first-floor atrium of the Landmark Center. The room was ninety-percent male. The few females were vampires.

She saw that the room’s inhabitants had divided, as if magnetic filings to opposite poles—vampires to the right, werewolves to the left.

The dais toward the back of the ballroom had been decorated with a ridiculous white pergola tucked with red roses, and a string quartet played an adagio entirely too upbeat for her heavy heart at this, her wedding.

“But your hair is such a pretty color tonight.” Blu’s best friend, Sabrina Kriss, smooshed her friend’s thick bob with both hands and delivered her a glitter-frosted wink. “You’re just nervous.”

“Nervous? Is that what you call it? I’m marrying a freaking vampire, Bree. A vampire I’ve never met. A vampire I’ve been told is nine hundred years old. And in case you still missed the point—he’s a vampire.”

Bree rolled her violet eyes. She was sidhe, so did not relate to Blu’s ingrained disgust for vampires.

Faeries got along with pretty much all the various paranormal nations. Werewolves did not.

As far as Blu was concerned, vampires were vile, blood-hungry creatures. They flaunted aristocratic snobbery that manifested as entitlement, and were possessed of an inhumane fixation on mortal man. They needed mortals for survival, while the species wasn’t worth her time.

Bree asked gaily, “What do you think Ryan—”

“Don’t say his name. Please, Bree. It’ll only make the night more difficult to get through.”

Blu bowed her head and wandered to the window. Tugging aside the curtain, she looked over the dark street outside.

She’d agreed to this idiotic farce of an arranged marriage to appease her father and pack leader, Amandus Masterson. “To show the werewolf nation we are capable of putting aside our differences and embracing the vampire nation,” Amandus had proclaimed, but not without a wink.

Yeah, but he wasn’t the one being forced to marry a vampire.

And it was force.

When presented with the marriage proposal, Blu had staunchly refused. For weeks. She was a princess; no one told her what to do. That argument held little weight within her father’s pack. Blu hated all the Northern pack members. The only one she could tolerate was Ridge, her father’s right-hand man.

And Ryan.

Don’t think of him.

After the engagement had been inflicted, Blu had pleaded and pouted and even went on a hunger strike for two days, but she did love to eat, and self-denial was not her strong suit.

How she wished her mother was still around. Someone to stand on her side. Someone Blu could tuck her head against and sniffle out a few tears to. At the very least, someone who would nod encouragingly as Blu walked down the aisle tonight.

The door opened and a man poked his head inside the room. Blu stiffened and clasped her fingers together.

“There you are.” Amandus Masterson crossed the room to her. The standard proud-father smile was absent from his long, drawn face. Blu would have been surprised had he shown her any sign of pride. He inspected her hair. “What is that ghastly color?”

She looked down, eyeing Bree surreptitiously. The faery had retreated to the wall, arms across her chest and eyes seeking anything but Amandus.

“I should have expected nothing better,” he said grumpily. “Why must you always challenge me, daughter?”

“Challenge? I haven’t said a word since you stepped in.”

Blu had tried every trick in the book to convince Amandus she wasn’t marriage material, until her father had threatened to have Ryan removed from her life. She should have protested more. But she never could find her strength in Amandus’s presence.

And she knew what removed meant. Blu didn’t want her lover harmed because she was too stubborn to play along with Daddy’s game.

No doubt about it, this fiasco was a game.

She had her orders. And now the dread night had arrived.

“Here.” He dropped a heavy ring onto her palm. “The jeweler delivered it moments ago. Don’t lose it. And don’t give me your disdain. Tonight you will not act as your mother so frequently did. You will do as you’ve been told.”

Startled, Blu shook her head minutely. So rarely did he mention her mother. She wanted to grab him by the shoulders, shake him and ask him for more information. Her mother never did as she was told? Had she irritated Amandus, as well? Why had she left?

Persia Masterson had disappeared when Blu was eleven. No trace left behind, no trail to follow, completely vanished. And with the father/daughter relationship as impersonal as it was, Blu would never have the chance to learn the answers to her aching questions.

“The wedding march begins in five minutes,” Amandus stated. “You’ve your instructions, Blu. Don’t let me down.”

“Yes, Father.”

Jiggling the ring in her cupped palm, she waited until Amandus exited and closed the door before she exhaled and caught her shoulders against the wall behind her. Her heart raced and she winced to realize how quickly her anxiety had shot through the roof.

“Remember,” Bree offered as she approached. “It may seem the most awful thing to marry a vampire, but with your vows tonight, you will be leaving your father’s house.”

“Thanks, Bree. I knew you’d be the one to point out the good in this disaster. Tuck this somewhere for me, will you?”

The faery took the ring and sought Blu’s bouquet among the tissue paper crumpled in the florist’s box.

Clasping a palm about her neck, Blu couldn’t decide which was worse—marriage to a vampire or remaining at the pack compound. Neither offered the freedom she desired.

So she would seek a third option, when the time was right.

With a brush of her fingers, she confirmed the three-inch-wide choker was still in place at her neck. Though the gemstones resembled diamonds, they were cheap cubic zirconia. Blu had bought it as a treat for succumbing to her father’s demands—and for protection. She didn’t want any vampires getting ideas at the sight of her neck. It was a futile defense, but it did provide reassurance.

Tonight she needed all the support she could muster.

She wasn’t afraid of vampires. Not that she’d been around many, or had held a conversation with one.

And she wasn’t afraid of a creature because he or she was different. She’d accepted Bree; the faery was her best friend. Years ago she’d had a few witch friends. And her father had once dated a chaos demon; she’d liked her.

Moving in and playing wifey to a vampire? Bring it on. Just because she would sign the marriage contract did not mean she had to like him or go to bed with him.

She would go through the motions. Until her father determined those motions proved successful. But would compliance then see her back at the compound? That was not her ultimate goal.

“It’s time,” Bree said.

The faery hugged her from behind, snuggling her cheek on Blu’s bare shoulder. Her violet-and-blue wings tickled along Blu’s arm, warm with tenderness.

“You look gorgeous, honey. There’s not a wolf in the house who won’t shed tears over losing you.”

“You think?”

Female werewolves were rare. Which was why this whole arranged-marriage thing was expected to mean so much and be the catalyst to bringing the two nations together. If the wolves could sacrifice one of their females to marry a vampire, then they could surely stand back and allow peace to reign.

Peace was a long time coming, she had to admit. For decades, probably centuries, the two nations had been at odds. The vampires were the cruelest; they’d hunted and slaughtered her breed without mercy.

And what were the vampires sacrificing? Nothing, as far as Blu was concerned.

Sure, this man she was to marry was some revered vampire lord who belonged to Nava, one of the oldest tribes around. He was called an elder, and there were supposedly but a handful of his ilk walking the earth. That meant little. Only that he was old. Old, old, old.

“Chin up,” Bree whispered.

“It is.” Blu lifted her chin and turned to her friend. “How do I look? I may attract all the male wolves but do you think I can bring a longtooth to his knees?”

“You’re going to have to quit using that word. I don’t think it’ll go over so well with the new hubby.”

“Whatever. Longtooth, bloodsucker, flesh-pricker.” It felt good to rattle off the epithets one last time. “So do I pass muster?”

Bree shimmied her gaze over the tight black sheath Blu wore.

Her bridal shroud, Blu had named it. She’d had it specially designed. It plunged low in the front, clinging and only covering half her high, full breasts. The black silk was slit high on both thighs, clasped at her hips with tiny rhinestone chains. The back…well, there was no back. It plunged to her derriere, and revealed the intricate tattoo her lover—former lover, she amended—had etched into her flesh along her spine.

Ryan had claimed her as his own after her father had grudgingly agreed to consider their engagement. As the pack’s scion, Ryan was the next in line as principal should Blu’s father die. But Amandus thought himself immortal. No whelp was going to wrench away his command.

That had been a year ago. Amandus had reneged on their engagement when presented with a grander, more delicious proposal.

Her lover had been shattered, but that hadn’t kept them apart. They had been together 24/7 until two days ago when Amandus had sent Ridge to retrieve Blu from Ryan’s home.

“Do you think Ryan will ever have me again?” she asked Bree.

“Of course he will.”

“But I’ll be tainted. I’ll smell like nasty longtooth.”

“I thought you weren’t going to let the vampire touch you?”

Blu lowered her lashes and looked aside. Her reflection in the night-dark window pouted.

The marriage contract the Council had drawn up stipulated that the alliance was not considered consummated until she had accepted the vampire’s bite. It was supposed to be the ultimate bonding in the vampire nation.

If a werewolf wore a vampire’s bite, the stigma would be unbearable. Not to mention the wolf would develop a blood hunger it had never known before.

Blu smirked. “Hell, no. It’s all for show, Bree. Don’t forget that.”

“You won’t let me. Hey, will you let me bless you?”

“I’d love it.”

Blu closed her eyes as her friend drew her fingers lightly down her cheeks and traced over her shoulders and to her hips. Calm and a tingle of joy infused Blu’s pulse. In the wake of Bree’s motions, a fine sheen of faery dust glittered onto Blu’s flesh.

“Blessed be,” Bree said, and kissed Blu on the cheek. “May the stars guide your nights and the sun your days.”

“Thanks.” For a moment she almost dropped a tear. But it passed quickly. “Now, where’s that bouquet? If I’m going to do the bride thing, I intend to be the best damn bride out there.”

She grabbed the posy of black roses tied with a long red velvet ribbon. She sniffed, but the flowers offered no perfume. Pity. She had wished for a distraction from the vampire’s scent, which she dreaded taking into her senses.

“You find out which one she is? Shouldn’t be too difficult to spot a female werewolf in this crowd,” Alexandre said.

“I think they’ve got her secreted away until the ceremony starts.”

Creed Saint-Pierre tugged at his shirtsleeves and traced one diamond cuff link with a finger. He looked over the crowd from his position on the dais. His best friend and best man, Alexandre Renard, stood at his side.

A female wolf should stand out amongst the female vampires, who all, he’d noticed, had decided black was the color for the event. Interesting how the two nations had divided, keeping to their respective halves of the ballroom as if the aisle of red carpeting were the proverbial line drawn in the sand.

While he had led the Nava tribe since the late eighteenth century, and had endured pomp and ceremony of all sorts, Creed did not care for fussy events. Strategy and the hunt were his mien. And when not serving his tribe members, he was a private man, and chose his pleasures carefully.

The very fact he stood upon this dais now represented a three-sixty-degree shift in his thinking. Whether or not he was actually being true to his nature remained to be seen.

That half the crowd milling here in the Landmark Center were werewolves put up his guard. They smelled wild and earthy, and were easily roused with the most innocent of glances. Creed was impressed a fight had not broken out yet. But then, only the trusted few had been invited to the ceremony.

The Landmark Center had been marked a neutral zone for the evening, but he didn’t trust the dogs not to start something. It was so like them. Though he should be more relaxed knowing half the security force were vampires.

Because so many wolves were present, the room was overwhelmingly male. With lots of testosterone floating about, anything could happen. Which was why it was necessary for posted sentries outside and along the inner hallways hugging the ballroom.

Creed never let down his defenses.

“All the dogs in the room,” Alexandre said over his shoulder, as he scanned the crowd, “gives me that aching hunger feeling, you know?”

His second in command never turned his back on a werewolf, for painful reasons. It had been less than a year since Creed had rescued Alexandre from the blood sport.

“I feel like Henri of Navarre on the night of his wedding to the de Médicis bitch,” Creed commented uneasily. He’d been in Paris in the sixteenth century during that event. Nasty memories.

“The Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre? So what does that make us?” Alexandre asked. “Catholics or the Huguenots?”

“Catholics, most definitely.” Creed had never sided with the losing team.

“You’re actually doing it.” Alexandre’s tone held a smirk. “Never thought you’d go through with it, old man.”

Creed shoved a hand in his trouser pocket, ensuring the ring ordered specially by the Council was at hand.

“I did not believe the wolves would actually put up something so valuable as a female. But they have, and so I am no man to back from a commitment.”

He prayed she was not hairy. Male wolves had hair in abundance on their head, arms, legs and chests. In all his centuries, Creed had never seen a female werewolf, but he could guess she would be hirsute, as well.

Gods, what had he gotten himself into?

For nine centuries he’d walked through this thing called life without once getting involved with any particular female for more than a few months.

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