“Iron born and iron bred.
Trust not iron, it will see you dead.”
Rowan Blake could really use a magic wand to keep her struggling art gallery afloat. But the faerie key she stumbles across is far from a lucky charm. It’s a magnet for danger, and by touching it she’s unwittingly put herself in the middle of a war between the forces of light and dark. And in the arms of its rightful owner, Prince Daire.
While searching for his brother, Daire finds himself trapped in the Iron World with a mere mortal woman who ignites his passion like no other. Each stolen kiss deepens their attraction and sends him spiraling closer and closer to the edge of his inherent dark desires. Desires that act as a homing beacon for the Dark Sidhe, who are intent on forcing him to fight on their side.
The longer he lingers in her arms—and in her bed—the closer his enemies get to her door. And the greater the risk that the gateway to the Faerie Realm will shift, destroying not only his power to protect her, but his very life.
Rowan batted at the bird, but it just kept attacking her, wheeling in the air above her head to dive on her again. She heard Daire shout her name and as he reached her side, the magpie flew away, leaving her dishevelled, flustered, but otherwise unharmed.
“Are you all right?” He caught her shoulders too tightly in his concern, holding her still so he could study her face.
“Yes!” She pulled back and he relinquished his hold on her. “I… I’ve never seen a bird do that before. I’ve heard magpies are nasty but…” She searched the skies warily.
Daire sighed and glanced back towards the woods. “One of Aynia’s creatures. An evil thing.”
Rowan’s mouth went dry. “The woman from last night.” He nodded and waited for the question she still had to ask. “It was watching me, upstairs. It was trying to get in the window. Why attack me?”
“Because I am here. You sheltered me. I would leave, Rowan Blake, but I have nowhere to go. I would not trouble you at all, but I must find that key. Without it, I am trapped here.”
Rowan tried to remember a key. To tell the truth, though the events of the previous night remained stark in her mind, they were frightening images, impossible scenes, jumbled together with nightmares. She recalled nothing resembling a key.
“I don’t remember,” she said. “Not a key.”
“And there is nothing in the garden.” He frowned as he spoke and looked away.
Had she dashed his hopes, she wondered? Had he thought she found it? “What about the woods?”
“Maybe.” He studied the sky.
Nervously, Rowan checked for signs of more magpies but saw nothing other than the thin puffs of white cloud high above them, like wisps of smoke. “What is it?” she asked.
“You are planning to go somewhere.” It was a statement of fact rather than a question. Given that she was wearing her jacket and carrying both her bag and car keys, it wasn’t much of a stretch.
“Yes. To the gallery. I have to sort out the mess the withdrawal has created.” He almost looked like he was following what she said, but how could he? This had to be alien to him, let alone the fact that he did not know anything about her. “I own a gallery,” she explained. “I had a famous artist lined up, but he pulled out at the last minute. I have to see what I can salvage.”
Daire frowned. “I should come with you.”
Rowan’s heart jerked up with relief. But then her eyes registered his peculiar clothing and his weapon and she heaved in a breath.
“No, really,” she replied, deciding that politeness was her best shield here. “You need to search for your key. I’ll be okay.”
Unless another maniacal bird sent by some pathological fairy woman decides to attack me, of course.
She left the thought unspoken. Daire didn’t look keen about accompanying her anyway, especially not when he looked at the car. His presence would only complicate matters.
“I think otherwise,” he replied and Rowan immediately bristled.
How dare he? Turn up here after her life had fallen apart and expect to take over? Typical man. He’d want to fix her mess for her yet.
“Really,” she insisted, making sure that her voice told him that this was no longer a negotiation. “I can manage. I’m a big girl now. Besides, you’d draw rather a lot of attention dressed like that.”
Satisfied that she had solved the problem and put him in his place, she turned her back on him and strode towards the car, humming a little victory theme to herself.
“Is this better?” Daire asked.
She glanced back, couldn’t help but do so, and the car keys slid from her abruptly numb fingers to crash onto the path.
Mr. Darcy stood in her driveway. Okay, not Mr. Darcy because Daire had red hair tied back neatly, but he wore the outfit with practiced ease and undeniable comfort. He carried a long cane where his sword had been and he could have walked straight out of a Jane Austen novel. If he walked back in again, no one would complain.
No one would complain in the slightest.
“It’s…um…” She struggled for words, then gave up and crouched down to scrabble for the keys.
Daire spread his arms wide and studied his clothing. “Is there something amiss?”
The bewilderment in his voice forced her to look up and before she knew what was happening, she smiled. “No. It’s wonderful, very accurate, but people don’t dress like that anymore.”
Understanding warmed his features. “Ah. They wear workman’s clothes. Like your brother.”
Rowan checked back a laugh at the thought of Matthew’s reaction if he heard his designer jeans and limited edition hand-printed T-shirt referred to as workman’s clothes.
Her fumbling hand found the keys and she got to her feet. “Yes,” she replied firmly. “Like Matt. But maybe a bit plainer…”
He nodded and the clothes shimmered around him, patches of light flickering off each leaf, the noise a faint rustling noise filling the air. For a moment, Rowan stared, catching brief glimpses of naked skin beneath them, just for instants, like looking at images between the pages of a flicker book. Her eyes met Daire’s and, embarrassed at the beauty she found, she looked away.
The sound stopped. “Like this?” he asked.
Dressed in jeans and a black T-shirt, he still caught and held her eyes. The clothes accentuated the lines of muscles underneath. The burnished red-gold of his hair was still tied back, but not so tightly. Loose curls softened the hard lines of his face, his high cheekbones, his jaw. It lightened his bronzed skin and made his green eyes glow with an inner light.
The clothes were plainer than Matthew’s, but that did nothing to lessen the impact of the man inside them.
Sidhe, Rowan’s mind whispered. He’s Sidhe, not human. And not mine.
Soul Fire releases on July 7th as an ebook and next year in print.
All the Excerpt Monday links can be found on the Excerpt Monday Site. Here is a small selection:-
Note: I have not personally screened these excerpts. Please heed the ratings and be aware that the links may contain material that is not typical of my site.
Christina DeLorenzo, YA (PG 13)
Bryn Donovan, Paranormal (PG)
Babette James, Fantasy Romance (PG 13)
Kaige, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Adelle Laundan, Contemporary Romance (PG 13)
Jeannie Lin, Historical Romance (PG 13)
Crista McHugh, Paranormal (PG 13)