Today is the release day for Rogue’s Paradise!
This is particularly exciting for me because it’s the third book in my Covenant of Thorns series and completes this trilogy. A lot of readers have been impatiently awaiting this installment and – not incidentally – the culmination of Rogue and Gwynn’s twisty, fraught love affair.
It’s a bit of a cheat to have this at the Cafe, as it’s Fantasy Romance, not Contemporary Romance. But Gwynn is a thoroughly contemporary heroine – she just happens to be stuck in Faerie.
Pregnant, possessed, and in love with a man I don’t dare to trust-those are the consequences of the risks I took to save my life. But Faerie, the land of blood and magic, is filled with bitter ironies, and the bargains I made now threaten me and my unborn child.
The darkly sensual fae noble Rogue still tempts me to danger and desire. As we await the birth of our child, I’ve been forced to question whether our offspring is part of a bargain Rogue once made to save himself. He can’t tell me the truth due to a spell the vicious Queen Titania has him under. Would he betray our family against his will? Could I ever forgive him if he does?
Rogue insists on an eternal commitment from me, even as Titania’s forces close in on us. I don’t know if Rogue and I can withstand her onslaught, or that of the beast within me. But I will not stop looking for answers-even if it brings the walls of Faerie crashing down.
And here’s the excerpt!!
The flying monkeys attacked just before sunset.
Swear to God, that’s exactly what they looked like. I even looked for a smoke trail warning “Surrender Dorothy!”
“I have no idea what that means.” Rogue, as usual, had read my thoughts as clearly as if I’d shouted them. “But now would be an excellent time for you to focus and possibly assist.”
I struggled to clear my fatigued brain and sit straighter on his lap—not easy on horseback, with our steed Felicity breaking into a panicked run over the glassy black rocks as the sky overhead darkened with throngs of winged primates.
“I thought you said we’d have some time before the Queen Bitch would be strong enough to come after us.” I gasped as the mare whipped around a narrow curve.
Fortunately Rogue needed no reins, guiding her with the grip of his muscular thighs and likely his mind, leaving his hands free to hold me tight against him. As a fae noble, Rogue possessed many skills, and apparently superb horsemanship ranked high among them.
“What makes you think it’s her?” He sounded arrogant—something that once would have grated on me—but I felt his anxiety beneath. Rogue had suffered far more at Queen Titania’s hands than I. We hadn’t discussed yet what had happened to him as her puppet and slave, largely because he’d been letting me sleep off the exhaustion from battling her.
Also, Rogue was far from the type to confide. He might never tell me.
His gorgeous face was tense, creased with the torment of his captivity, the winding black lines that covered the left side of his face and body stark against his skin. Apparently even immortals could look the worse for wear.
I wasn’t in much better shape, perilously drained of my magic reserves, my hands a crippled mess—and unfortunately pregnant, just to top it all off.
Neither of us was fit to fight. Nor could we afford to be recaptured by Titania.
We barreled into a narrower canyon that forced Felicity to slow her headlong rush and fortunately limited the angles the monkeys could come at us.
“Whether or not this is Titania’s doing,” Rogue said, “these creatures are more like guard dogs. It wouldn’t require much of someone to send them. However, it may require much for us to deal with them.”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked.
“How much power do you have?”
I wished I knew how to answer that. Rogue had been teaching me more about my abilities to work magic and how to draw energy from outside myself, but we hadn’t gotten far before Titania snatched him. It was a bad sign that he, the ever-and-all-powerful—far more magical than I, though I hated to admit it—had to ask me for help.
“Some. I don’t suppose you have my crystal staff tied to the saddle?”
Rogue looked grimly amused. Then ducked when a flying monkey, clawed fingers outstretched, dive-bombed his head. Monkeys shouldn’t have curved talons, but pretty much anything goes in Faerie. A burst of magic from Rogue, his signature feral black and blue, whooshed past me, and the monster chimp dissolved in a puff of sparks.
“Your girl, Athena, took it. She seemed to think you couldn’t be trusted with it.”
And Athena had ridden ahead with the others, since Rogue had been burdened with unconscious me. Annoying of her as the thing would augment my abilities, even if it was dangerously addictive. Compared to my current alternate fate, that sounded like giving up caffeine when starving to death.
“You can’t nuke them all, like with that one?”
“No. Not enough power for so many.” He hated admitting it too. Quite the pair we were.
“Tell me what you want and I’ll do my best.” How little power was “not enough”? No delicate way to pose the question so it wouldn’t impugn his male ego. Asking Rogue if he had no magic left and no access to those outside resources he’d bragged of seemed akin to asking a guy whether he thought he could get it up or if he was done for the night.
A trio of monkeys swarmed us, a talon raking Felicity’s hide. The horse screeched and put her head down, bucking with terror, which Rogue barely managed to control, his steely strength keeping me from being thrown. My cat Familiar, Darling Hercules, riding behind Rogue on his special saddle pad, sent me a startled image of him digging in claws and holding on for dear life.
Whatever we were going to do, we needed to do it fast. The trio of monkeys wheeled back on us. One went up in sparks, but the other two seemed only singed around the edges and one managed to sink talons into Rogue’s shoulder before he got it on the second try. Not a good sign.
Darling Hercules let out a yowling wail and swiped at one of the monkeys that tried to grab him. To all appearances a humble tabby cat, he had grandiose ideas about his size and battle readiness.
“Goliath,” he nudged into my head, insistent on his new battle name.
“Later,” I answered. “I suppose wishing them away won’t work?”
Grimly, Rogue shook his head. “Too many. They’ll just keep coming.”
Already the evening sky looked dark as night with their bat-winged bodies blocking the last of the light. Only the narrowness of the canyon we were tearing down kept them from simply dropping on us like an immense cloud of hairy locusts. As it was, they came at us singly or in small groups, scratching a cheek here or slicing an arm there, before Rogue could blast them.
“However, if—” Rogue’s words came in puffed bursts of effort. “If I can pull power from you…I have an idea. So I need to know how much you have.”
I couldn’t answer that—not as if I had a little gauge warning me I was at less than 20 percent battery—but I did know how to charge myself up pretty fast. Just lucky that my favorite catalyst happened to be holding me in his arms.
“Ow—dammit!” I screeched as a talon tangled in my hair, taking some of my scalp with it. “Can you keep them off of me? And slow Felicity down, if at all possible.”
“For a time, yes. Be sure to hold on.” He freed one arm and his gleaming blue-platinum sword appeared in his hand. A major magic for me, a parlor trick for him. Apparently easier than frying monkeys, however. The monkeys came thicker as Felicity slowed, but they stayed farther back, wary of that sharp edge.
Turning myself around in the saddle wasn’t easy by any stretch, but I trusted Rogue, even one-armed, and his uncanny long-limbed strength to keep me from tumbling off. I maneuvered to straddle Rogue’s lean hips, while Darling Hercules complained bitterly in my head that I’d better not kick him. I told him to make himself useful and deaden the agony flaring up from my fingers as I clumsily slid my bandaged hands behind Rogue’s neck. Thankfully the cat did, removing the pain with his oh-so-useful gift of magical anesthesia.
“Gwynn, what in Titania’s name are you doing?” Rogue flicked his sword and a monkey fell in two pieces, spraying white blood on the black rocks.
“Kiss me.” I pressed my groin against his, the sure rise of his cock making me giddy with a flood of strength and the hope that this might work.
With a grunt, Rogue split another diving monkey and glared at me. “After all this time of dreaming that you’d finally ask me for that, this is the moment you choose, contrary Gwynn?”
“You want power from me. You’re the one who pointed out that sex energy is my shortcut. So shut up, pucker up and keep an eye on those monkeys.”
He barked out a laugh, but wasted no more time. That seductive mouth of his fastened on mine with a ferocity that belied his weariness. His deep blue eyes stayed open and I felt the contractions of his chest as he swung the sword. Holding me pressed against him, he kissed me with all the fierce desire I could wish for. My own longing for him welled up, hot and needy—all the more so for our long separation—so ready for him. A monkey raked claws down my arm, and I flinched but focused on the kiss.
Not sure how to do it, I tried linking with him as we’d done once before, mentally putting myself in his hands and pouring the energy into him. Rogue hummed deep in his throat and pushed the hard ridge of his erection against me, sending a bolt of electricity through me that ricocheted between us. The sexual heat built between us, the magic wild and potent, overwhelming in its intensity. He ran his hands over my back, cupping my bottom and pulling me even closer to the lean length of his body while he stroked his hips, driving me into frenzy.
I became aware that Felicity had stopped and stood head down, breathing in great gusts. Starting to pull back, I gasped when Rogue nipped my lower lip. “No, don’t stop, lovely Gwynn.”
I managed to tear my mouth away. The skies were clear, if rapidly deepening into an ultraviolet dusk. A luminous silver behind the edge of one canyon wall hinted at moonrise. A few early stars, spinning with kaleidoscopic color, pierced through, like wormholes to other worlds. For all I knew, they were.
“What happened to the flying monkeys?”
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