Trial By Fire
by Anne Ireland
cover by Shirley Burnett
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Ally has been ill and needs time to recover. But almost as soon as she arrives at the cottage where she intends to take respite, she finds herself in the midst of a haunting. The sudden scent of flowers, singing, and strange voices seem to follow her at every turn. Is this some strange hallucination related to her illness, or is Ally being haunted by a tragedy that happened in another time?
It was almost time. Isolde could smell the fear on her own flesh. That was one of the worst things they had done to her so far: refusing her water for washing and clean linen. She hated the smell of her own body now, the stench of dried excrement, sweat and fear.
She had spent the night in prayer, beseeching God to rescue her from this foul prison cell and the cruel men who tormented her in His name. At first she had been bold, certain of her place in the world, and the rightness of her cause. She had laughed at the charge levied against her. She had believed in the justice of both God and man. Now, after days of torture, abuse and unbearable pain she no longer believed in anything. Yet still she had prayed to her god. That he was not the god of these men who called upon her to repent of her sins lest her soul be damned for all eternity, she knew beyond doubting. Her god was a gentle god, the god of nature and all things beautiful; of goodness and light, and love.
Perhaps her god was the devil as these men claimed? Mayhap she was a disciple of Satan: a witch who used her powers to destroy life. They had questioned her over and over again, starving her, beating her, never letting her rest so that she no longer knew what was truth or what was false.
Isolde lifted her tear-stained face towards the tiny grill in the roof of her cell, which was the only source of light or air in the filthy dungeon. Why not offer her soul to the Lord of Darkness? She had never sought to do other than good, and for that she had been condemned to torture and the fire; for it would soon be daylight, and then they would come for her.
“If I am the vile creature they have named me, take my soul,” she muttered fiercely. For all their cruelty, they had not yet broken her spirit. “If God has deserted me then let Satan come to my aid. Where are you, Beelzebub? Oh, horned creature, demon of darkness, whatever be Thy name. Guardian of Hell, I call on thee to save me!”
The sound of a heavy key in the lock of her cell made her start. She looked round as the man came into her cell, the sour, unclean smell of him turning her stomach sick. She knew him for her enemy. He had been determined to drag her down, bringing all his power and influence to work against her. A terrible fear gripped her, causing her to pass water. She felt the hot sting of urine against her inner thighs and was shamed.
The priest carried an incense burner. He made the sign of the cross before her, wafting the pungent fumes into her face as though warding off evil. His harsh features were devoid of feeling or pity.
“Are you ready to confess your sins, witch?”
Isolde gathered the last shreds of her dignity. It was difficult to stand because they had placed hot irons to the soles of her feet in an attempt to force a confession of guilt from her.
“I am innocent of all the crimes of which I am accused,” she replied. She had been beautiful when they brought her to this place. Even now, with her hair shorn and her lovely white skin blistered and festering with sores, her face retained enough of its former beauty to infuriate her tormentor. “I have always loved God and sought to do good to others. Of this alone am I guilty. I am here because the jealousy of others has caused my downfall.”
“So, still you dwell in vain pride.” The priest stared at her with his dull, cold eyes. “You have broken the laws of God and man, witch. You shall pay the price for your wickedness in the fire.”
Isolde raised her head, gazing into his eyes with proud defiance. Gathering all her strength, she spat into his face. “Curse you!” she cried. “You are the evil one, not I. I curse you, priest, and your seed for all eternity! May you feel the pain I feel as I die. May your soul wither and die in the pit of Hell! May your soul never find peace.”
The priest recoiled in horror as her spittle touched his skin, then hastily made the sign of the cross over his breast. Isolde laughed to see real terror in his eyes. He actually believed in her curse!
In a moment the fear was replaced by hatred. He lifted his arm, summoning the others who had waited at the door, giving her a chance to make her confessions in private.
“The witch does not repent,” he said in a voice of loathing. “Take her! Take her to the fire!”
by Rhonda Lee
cover by Dawne’ Domininque
Heat Rating: 5 flames
With the Duke always away on business, what is a Duchess to do? How about entertain herself by teaching some of her loyal subjects a few new tricks? What starts out as a passing fancy to keep amused, soon becomes an all-encompassing obsession that takes on a life of its own. As more and more people become playthings in the Duchess’ voyeuristic and sadistic game, it becomes clear that even the Duke himself isn’t safe from her machinations!
“Don’t you want to touch me Ferrin?” she purred, extending one curved fingernail and letting it trail across his shoulder. It caught upon the rough homespun fabric of his shirt and stuttered its way across his back. Each tiny jolt resonated throughout his entire being.
The Duchess paused, stopping directly in front of him and looking at him with that now familiar quirked eyebrow. “Yes what?”
“Yes I want to touch you.”
A feral smile spread across her lips and he dropped his gaze to the ground, ashamed of himself, of his lack of willpower, but unwilling to take back the words he’d just spoken.
At that precise moment she knew she had him; he was hers to do with as she wanted—whatever she wanted. Whatever she dared. The possibilities made butterflies erupt in her stomach and her pussy tingle. It straightened her back, added steel to her voice. The purr vanished and her words became sharp, crisp commands. Ferrin had given up any chance of wielding even the slightest bit of control in this situation.
“Then touch me peasant.”
Stages of Love Book Two
by Ginger Simpson
cover by Dawne’ Dominique
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Faith Oliver suffers from a weight problem and has no real beaus in her life. In fact, she’s never been with a man. Maybe that’s why she’s surprised when a delectably handsome male begins to invade her dreams and command her body. Driven to diet to find a boyfriend to replace her hunky dream lover, Faith undergoes hypnotherapy to determine the meaning of her night visions. Her sessions draw her back to another life, to an era far removed…and a strange name she’s heard before.
Faith woke with lips feeling bruised from passionate kisses. Her breathing came in quick gasps as if she’d just finished a bout of voracious sex.
Until last night, her dream lover had only touched and kissed her. She hadn’t really gotten a good look at his penis before. She was still awed by the size of it. If that was a weapon, the man was heavily armed.
Faith pushed herself up into a sitting position and rested against the headboard until she composed herself. If she smoked, this would be the perfect time for a cigarette. This dream had been the most fantastic yet!
Her nameless beau had actually made love to her, really penetrated her this time, gone all the way! She had no idea what she’d been missing. She exhaled through pursed lips and reveled in the moment.
Her nipples were still pebbled beneath her nightshirt, and from something other than cold air for a change. Warm and moist, her vagina still contracted from the thickness of his penis, while her whole body quivered in delight. She pinched herself to make sure she was awake.
Is this what the afterglow of intercourse feels like?
Book Two of The Eleven Hour Fall Series
by Robert Appleton
cover by Shirley Burnett
Heat Rating: 1 flame
‘The Elemental Crossing’ is the exciting sequel to Robert Appleton’s ‘The Eleven-Hour Fall’.
After their hard-won escape from the mountain peaks and many perils of the desert, Kate and Jason are faced with their most difficult challenge yet on Kratos: crossing a vast ocean on nothing but an improvised raft. Their relationship grows as hope dwindles. Procuring food, water and a safe course across stretches their survival expertise to its limits. Despite help from an unexpected ally, what else lurks beneath the surface of this alien sea?
Intimate character reflections weave through the epic scale of this second installment in the thrilling romantic survival series.
She screamed at the top of her voice, but no sound escaped. Oh, Christ, this is it!
The veil of no return. A film of cool moisture covered her hair, face and neck. Visibility was now that of a white, backward balaclava. She felt the boat move quicker and quicker through the water, and the dread welled up like hot oil in her gut. Her eardrums rang. She fought giant, panic breaths with all of her pride.
The Elemental now hurtled faster than it had ever surfed as a sand yacht. Kate’s hair flapped wildly, and the spray drenched her eyes shut. Still louder, still faster, then suddenly…
Her stomach vaulted. The boat took flight for a second, and a raking wind lifted her bodily from the deck. On landing it spun and skidded at a sixty degree angle, sending a shock right through Kate. She spread-eagled her legs and lay back as the current swept her down the steep gradient. All she could do was grip the ropes and hang on. Saltwater flooded over the raw, peeling skin on her palms and fingers.
Hang on, damn it! Just hang on!
by Wendy Stone
cover by Dawne’ Dominique
Heat Rating: 3 flames
When a young and beautiful doctor is kidnapped from her hospital parking lot, she finds herself fighting for more than just her own life. There is a gorgeous specimen of a male who also needs her expert, healing touch. Can this Angel of Mercy find a way out for the two of them?
With a suddenness that startled a shriek out of her, he turned, pressing her against the wall, his hand grabbing her other wrist and holding them pinned beside her shoulders. His body leaned against hers, his lips holding her mouth captive while he feasted on her flavor.
She tasted of coffee and mint, and dark passion that enticed him to explore further, his tongue rubbing against her own with an intimacy that had her heart pounding and her head swimming. Her breath came in harsh pants against his skin, her hands fighting his grip, wanting to touch him, to stroke all that male flesh that had been driving her mad this past week. But he wouldn’t release her hands, instead, rubbing against her, spreading her jean clad thighs with his leg until he could push against her sex with his knee. He found the seam of her jeans, using it to stimulate her until she moaned under his lips.
He tore his mouth from hers, staring down into her half open, sleepy green eyes. “I want you,” he growled, pressing his groin against her to emphasize the statement.
“Yes,” she managed to whisper before his lips were on hers again, but this time, he released her wrists, his hands going to her waist, holding her against him, pulling at the long sleeved T-shirt that she had tucked into her jeans. He pulled it out slowly, seeming to tease her with his movements, causing her stomach to flutter in delight.
Sword of Anubis
By Brittany Kingston
Cover Artist Dan Skinner
Heat rating: 1 flame
“Please, India, tell me what you know.”
She raised her chin and looked into his eyes. “I know nothing.”
Morgan shook his head. She was lying. Frustration welled up inside him. He wanted to scream. He wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake the information out of her. He ran a hand through his disheveled hair. Most of it pulled free from the tie at the back to fall across his face.
Violence would not get him what he wanted. He made a placating gesture with his hands and took a deep breath. When he spoke again, his voice was ragged with the strain of the long, hard road he’d taken to find the vampire.
“Nicolai was once my father’s friend. He murdered him the same way he killed your grandfather. For months I have tracked him and tried to get close enough to kill him. I almost had him in London. He must not escape again.” He stared at her, willing her to see the pain and the need in his eyes. “Tell me what you know, please. I will avenge your family as well as my own.”
India shook her head. “I don’t know that I can trust you, Morgan. It could mean the end of my life. Or worse. Nicolai Kesslanski might get his hands on the one thing that has the power to make him invincible. That same power is the only thing capable of destroying him. If he gets his hands on it…” She shuddered. “No. I have to protect it.”
“Please, India.” Morgan’s eyes beseeched her.
India hesitated. “I am sorry. I cannot tell you what you want to know.”
Red Rosas: Lovers of Mesilla
By Stacey Coverstone
Cover by Dawné Dominique
Heat Rating: 1 flame
New Mexico Territory, 1850.
Wealthy rancher heir Quentin Romero and Mestizo servant Teresa De La Garza hold a passion for one another that cannot be contained. But as matriarch of the Romero family, Quentin’s mother, Carlotta, will only allow her son to marry within his own class. Stealing kisses in the barn and sneaking away at night to meet his lover, only serves to strengthen Quentin’s vow to make the lovely Teresa his wife. It also sends Carlotta into a rage when she discovers the tryst has continued despite her orders. Can Quentin and Teresa find a way to share their love together forever, or will Carlotta’s rage become a catalyst for tragedy?
Standing in the courtyard, Carlotta saw candlelight flickering in her son’s room. A tiny smile cracked her stoic face. He’s heeded my warning and come home. Now we can plan a wedding.
Something, however, didn’t feel right. The hairs on her arm prickled. Still as a stone, Carlotta waited and saw two shadows pass by the window. She clutched at her stomach—it felt like a horse had just kicked her.
Carlotta quietly entered through the kitchen and crept down the hallway to Quentin’s bedroom, where she stood with her ear pressed to the door. Her trembling hand gripped the knob. Hearing soft laughter and tender voices coming from inside, she flung open the door and discovered Quentin and the peasant girl locked in a passionate embrace. When their surprised faces turned to her, she glimpsed a red rose stuck in Teresa’s hair.
Insane with rage, Carlotta stumbled from the room and back to the kitchen, where her hand fell upon a glimmering pair of scissors. On a rampage, she flew back into the room, slashing with the weapon.
“No, mama!” yelled Quentin.
She whirled and stabbed…