Friday, August 30, 2013

VBT - The Demon's Desire by Kendra Leigh Castle

The Demon's Desire
Hearts of the Fallen
Book Two
Kendra Leigh Castle

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Covet - Entangled Publishing
Date of Publication: 8/26/13
ISBN: 9781622662753
Number of pages: 225
Cover Artist: Fiona Jade

Book Description:

He’s as dark and dangerous as the storms he once commanded…and she can’t get him out of her heart.

Dru has spent two thousand years fighting to keep the people of Terra Noctem safe. In all that time, she's only opened her heart to one man, with disastrous results. But when her city takes in a group of renegade Fallen, she finds herself drawn to the brooding and tormented Meresin, despite the fact that he seems to be the least redeemable of them all. When his instability hits a breaking point, Meresin’s only chance at survival is a perilous journey into a place from which few ever return. What he never expected was that confronting his demons would mean risking not only his future, but Dru's as well...and that one stubborn vampire might give him back not just hope…but his heart.


Chapter One

 “He’s at it again.”

Dru raised her eyes from her work—or whatever you called it when you spent ten minutes decorating the letter “O” with a mustache and top hat—to fix her visitor with a baleful look.

“He who? My brother?”

Vivi offered her an apologetic half-smile from where she stood in the arched doorway to Dru’s office. Unfortunately, that was all the answer Dru needed. It was never Justin. The vampire king was as reliable in marriage as he was about everything else, and none of Justin’s annoying quirks or habits seemed to faze Vivi. Nice for them. In this case, though, not so much for her. She knew what Vivi wanted.

Dru propped her chin on her fist and sighed. “Meresin.”

“Meresin,” Vivi agreed. She lightly shifted her weight from foot to foot, full of restless energy. Dru didn’t doubt that Vivi would rather be fixing this herself instead of running for help. But Vivi had been a vampire hunter before falling for Justin, and her methods—which tended to involve lethal force and sharp objects—wouldn’t be a lot of use with an ornery fallen angel.

Vivi tucked a lock of ebony hair behind her ear. “There are a couple of things on fire. Again.”

“Damn it.” Dru sighed, letting her pen drop to the desk with an angry little snap. “By things you mean people, right?”

“No.” She chewed her lip. “Okay, maybe. Justin’s managed to keep it from turning into a riot—so far, anyway—but you know how Meresin gets when people start in on him. It’s like poking an angry tiger with a stick.”

“More like licking your finger and purposely sticking it into an electrical socket.” Dru stood with a groan, wishing she could be more grateful for the opportunity to stretch her legs. Her city had been through enough lately. It didn’t need to be filled with smoke on top of everything else.

She shook her head, a pale blond lock of hair falling into her face. “I’ve been alive for two thousand years, and I’m still amazed at how dumb people can get once they figure very little can kill them anymore.”

Vivi finally grinned, the smile lighting up her fair, heart-shaped face. “Death just gets a lot more creative when you’re a vampire.”

Dru snorted. “Being fried by an angry fallen angel is definitely creative. Come on. Bring me to Mr. Happy. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to see me.”

She fell into step beside Vivi as the two of them made their way through the stone halls of the palace that was the heart of Terra Noctem. The underground city of vampires and other night creatures, magically protected and carved from the walls and floor of a massive cave, had been forced to move from what had become a comfortable spot beneath Washington, DC, only a month ago, after nearly being overrun by demons. Relocation with the aid of ancient spells was complicated, but it had been periodically necessary since the beginning. There had been a time, centuries ago, when every move the city made had been an adventure to Dru. Now, the process was just annoying. More paperwork, more upheaval, dealing with vamps who found new ways to get into trouble aboveground…not to mention she was still handling the aftermath back in DC. They’d left a burned-out husk of a building where a luxe vampire/human nightclub had once been, and even vampire royalty had to deal with insurance companies.

She’d gotten comfortable in DC, the thing Dru had told herself over and over not to do. And here she was again, at loose ends and starting from scratch—literally—this time beneath the charming little beach town of Mirage, Florida. The beach club that would be their income and entertainment aboveground, her people’s way of contributing to and blending in with the human society that would be sustaining them in more ways than one, was still in the planning stages, though things were coming together nicely. She’d only been up there once this entire month, to check out the site she’d purchased. That was bad news. Of the two of them, Justin was the workaholic.

All work and no play made her bitchy.

“Where are the rest of them?” Dru asked. “I think it’s awfully suspicious that the mighty Fallen all vanish into thin air every time Meresin turns into a lightning rod. I’m the last person who should be trying to talk him down.”

“That’s funny, because Justin thinks you’re the only person who ought to be trying to talk him down,” Vivi replied. The enormous wooden doors at the end of the hall swung open as they approached, revealing the dark and glittering gem of a city just beyond.

Dru smirked ruefully at Vivi. “That’s because my brother likes to torment me.”

“True. But he also thinks Meresin listens to you.” Vivi was nearly running to keep up with Dru’s long stride.

Dru rolled her eyes. “He listens to the sound of my voice, at least. Then he runs. But all things considered, I guess that’s close enough.”

She forced herself to slow down so that Vivi didn’t have to sprint. At 5’10”, Dru stood more than a head taller than her sister-in-law, and that was without the heels she favored. Even with the obvious height difference, though, she was prone to forgetting just how much longer her stride was. Probably because she was normally too busy being entertained by Vivi’s quick wit to notice. Her brother had gotten a good one.

Together, they walked down the steps that radiated outward from the palace doors in a semicircle, descending to the wide cobblestone street. The palace sat at the head of High Street, the main thoroughfare of Terra Noctem. The tall, gothic structure was carved into the pale and glittering stone wall of the cave that protected them, set slightly higher than the rest of the buildings so that from any of the windows, one could look out and see the city spread before them. It was a place of power, both for Justin and for the Necromancium, the council of night races that governed them all. It was also home when Dru wanted it to be. She had rooms there and used them often enough. But she had a cozier place out in the city that she preferred, a place that was hers alone.

The alone part of the equation had begun to wear on her lately. It was probably time to take a lover again. She just couldn’t quite bring herself to begin the process of looking. She also doubted there was anyone out there right now who would appeal. Not when she was uncomfortably fixated on someone already. Someone completely unsuitable, who she should really get over and forget about…though that would be a lot easier if she didn’t keep getting called in to talk him down.


“Hmm?” She realized that Vivi was looking uncharacteristically embarrassed. Dru knew that look. And really, she’d been waiting for the question.

“You might as well ask. It’s not like the whole city hasn’t heard about it.”

“Oh,” Vivi said. She hesitated for a few seconds, then continued, “You and Meresin…is that really true?”

Dru sighed. Only a few people had actually seen what happened, but the story just wouldn’t die. “It was a kiss. One kiss. Once.” In public. That’ll teach me, she thought.

Vivi looked both amused and impressed. “Wow. Kissing. That…doesn’t sound like Meresin.”

Dru smirked despite herself, remembering the look on his face in the split-second before he’d realized what she was up to. “Trust me, it wasn’t his idea. He was in charge of making sure Ember didn’t go anywhere one night, back before she and Raum officially got together, and she asked me if I’d work up a distraction so she could get out of here,” Dru said, referring to her beautiful half-demon friend who was now mated to Raum of the Fallen—which, she thought smugly, might not have happened half so fast if she hadn’t given Ember a hand. “The distraction worked really, really well. Which is probably why he’s never forgiven me.”

Vivi’s soft laugh was full of sympathy. “I don’t think he forgives anyone for anything, if that makes you feel any better.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Who says I feel bad about it? He’s the one with the problem.”

That wasn’t exactly true, but it sounded good. A single, meaningless kiss shouldn’t still matter to anyone. It wouldn’t still matter, if she could forget the feel of him, or the taste of him. The quiet, forbidding fallen angel who hated everyone and everything had yielded to her, just for a moment, and she’d been able to feel just how much passion and need he had walled up inside himself. The hunger in him had seemed violent, fathomless.

She couldn’t let it go. And Meresin didn’t seem to be able to, either…though she suspected his reasons were nothing like hers. Still, Dru found herself looking for him more often than she ought to, eyes seeking the only renegade Fallen who shunned even the most basic interactions, instead skulking in the shadows of the city, angry at the world.

Yeah, it was time to find a lover, she thought as her cheeks heated. Because this fixation was going nowhere fast.

It only took minutes to reach the crowd that had gathered in the circular plaza at the center of High Street. Rising above the mass of shouting vampires was an ornate fountain, a white marble relic from ancient Rome, featuring a winged goddess, her arms stretching to the heavens, the ripples in her draped gown created by such a skilled hand that she seemed ready to rise against the wind. At the moment, she looked like she wanted very much to get the hell away from what was quickly becoming an angry mob. Beneath her, water flashed and danced as it flowed into a pool currently hidden from view. But Dru could hear splashing. And ear-splitting wailing.

“Keep him away from me! Keep that freak away! He belongs back in Hell!”

Dru snorted. Vampires could be such babies.

Heads turned at Dru and Vivi’s approach, and Dru could hear her brother’s deep, commanding voice as he tried to keep order.

“Meresin, enough! If you were trying to teach him a lesson, he’s learned it! And if you’re trying to kill him, you’re going to have to go through me, so I suggest you calm down!”

There was a flash of violet light and another screech. It seemed that someone had really set Meresin off today.

Dru kept her head high as she strode through the crowd, which parted without a word from her. She could feel the energy rippling through the gathered vampires, though, and it was bad. Fangs were bared, and there was a lot of hissing. When the renegade Fallen had come to Terra Noctem nearly two years ago looking for sanctuary, most had found uneasy acceptance and even a degree of celebrity. They were beautiful, powerful, if not universally personable, and had proven useful enough that there was no real appetite for protesting their presence. Even their leader, Leviathan, who was not truly a fallen angel and was possibly the biggest enigma of the group, engendered no protest. But Meresin…Meresin was a different story.

Dru worried that her people had finally reached their breaking point with him.

When she emerged into the area that had cleared around the fountain, she immediately saw the source of the wailing—a soaked vampire trying to haul himself out of the red-tinted water. Something had sliced through his shirt, leaving a long red gash across his chest. The water had stained much of his white button-down shirt pink. His brown hair stood completely on end, still smoking. Nearby, another vamp was sprawled on the cobblestones, smoke rising lazily from his pale skin. He twitched weakly and moaned.

The vamp in the fountain caught sight of her and flopped around like a hooked fish, unable to regain his footing. Dru recognized him and cringed inwardly. She’d had to personally haul him out of human bars more than once for causing trouble. He wasn’t worth an angry mob, but it figured that he’d be the person to finally cause one.

“Dru!” he cried, flailing. “Dru, help me! He’s going to kill me! That crazy freak finally lost it!”

She made no move to help him out of the water. “With no help from you, I’m sure, Bob.”

“My name is Razer,” Bob shouted, throwing himself over the edge of the pool. “And I didn’t say anything! You can’t prove it! But even if I did,” he panted, hanging half in and half out of the fountain before sliding slowly onto the ground, “it’s no reason to try to kill me!”

“If I’d been trying to kill you, you’d already be dead.”

The silky voice was soft and deadly. Dru would have known it anywhere. She heard it even in her sleep. Steeling herself, she faced the man who had become the bane of her existence.

He waited a few feet away. Seeing him, being this close, sent a punch of heat through her system the way it always did, and she struggled to keep her expression neutral. With his ebony wings outstretched, his tall, lithe form clad all in black, he looked more like some vengeful Roman god than any kind of angel. His coal black hair was short, spiky, a marked contrast to his ivory skin. There was nothing soft about him. Meresin was all sharp edges and angles, beautiful and forbidding. His eyes tilted up at the corners, lending him a hint of the exotic among his brothers, and the irises were a shade of violet Dru had never seen before, and thought she never would again. Unlike his brothers, he carried no weapon. He was the weapon. Lightning, the same color as his eyes, crackled and flickered in his cupped palms, coiling up his arms.

His eyes locked with hers. A muscle in his cheek twitched, and he jerked his head to the side before she could even try to decipher his expression.

“Drusilla,” he said. Always so formal when forced to interact. She sighed.

“Meresin. I think this is about enough, don’t you?”

She took a step toward him. Immediately his body tensed, shoulders hunching the way they always did when she got near him, as though he were preparing for an attack. It was as frustrating and infuriating as ever.

“Damn it, Meresin. I’m not going to bite you,” she snapped. “Just stop, take a deep breath, and tell me what’s going on before these people try to tear you into tiny pieces.”

It was apparently the wrong thing to say…but then, she hadn’t quite figured out what the right thing to say to him was, whatever the circumstances. His eyes narrowed, glowing menacingly.

“They could try.”

“Oh, they’re going to,” she replied. “See, you may not have noticed, but vampires don’t really enjoy being electrocuted. Yet, strangely, you keep doing it anyway.”

“If some of them learned to keep their opinions to themselves, they wouldn’t need to worry.”

Dru raised her eyebrows. “Oh, I see. What are you, the psychotic Miss Manners of Terra Noctem? People say stupid, insulting things all the time. Ignore it, and you’ll feel better.” Justin helped the vampire who’d been face down get back on his feet. When the unfortunate vamp smiled weakly, smoke coiled from his mouth. Her brother shot Meresin a glare that promised doom.

Returning her focus to Meresin, she was startled by the bleak, wounded expression in his eyes. It vanished as quickly as it came, replaced by a snarl as he whirled on the vamps who had slowly, tentatively begun to close in on him. His wings flared, and his hands flexed into claws that shimmered with beautiful impending death.

“You don’t understand,” he hissed, and it took Dru a moment to realize that he was still talking to her. “You have no idea what it’s like for me.”

It shouldn’t have tugged at her heart the way it did. She shouldn’t try to hear anything but his anger—what good would that do? He wasn’t interested in letting anyone in, least of all her. But it didn’t matter how many ways she tried to tell herself that he was a bad idea. Possibly the worst idea in a long life that had seen its fair share. To her, what he said sounded like a plea. He really thought that no one gave a damn about him. And it was true.


Dru closed the distance between them with the kind of speed no human was capable of, laying a hand on his arm. She could feel the muscles quivering with tension beneath her palm, the startling warmth of his skin such a contrast to the coolness of her own. He sucked in a breath and tried to jerk away, but she clamped her fingers around his wrist. There was a choked sound in the back of his throat, so soft it was barely audible. His violet eyes were wild as they stared into hers.

“Get a handle on it,” she said softly. “I know you can. Whatever those two idiots said, they can’t hurt you. They’re not worth this. Lock it down.”

He seemed to hold his breath for a long time, though in reality it was likely only a few seconds. Dru refused to break eye contact, silently willing him to put all that anger wherever he usually kept it. They’d done this little dance before, the two of them…but this was the first time she’d actually had to touch him. And, she had to admit, this was the worst she’d seen him. It gave her a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Whatever was wrong with him, it was worse.

When he pulled at his hand again, she let it go, very conscious of the way he rubbed at the spot where her hand had been, as though she’d burned him.

“As you wish, my lady,” Meresin’s silken voice mocked. “Happy?”

She tried to will an equally snide comment to her lips, but none would come. Her palm tingled. Her breathing was shallow. Damn it, he wasn’t the only one who needed to lock it down!

“It’s over, people. Break it up, and go find something else to do!” Justin’s narrowed eyes swept the crowd. Familiar pride flooded her as he flexed his power. He might be one man facing an angry crowd of twenty-five or thirty vamps, but he was the vampire king for a reason. At times like this, her little brother was intimidating as hell.

Justin’s eyes burned a dusky shade of red that glowed like embers. When the vamps in the crowd didn’t immediately disperse, instead either glaring at him or shuffling uneasily in place, he bared his fangs and roared in a voice that echoed throughout the city.


That did it. Some ran, some only stalked, but in seconds the plaza was all but empty. The two vampires who’d incurred Meresin’s wrath straggled along behind the rest, the wet one casting furious backward glances at the still-seething fallen angel.

Justin surveyed the plaza with obvious satisfaction, then spun and advanced on Meresin. Her brother’s expression was one Dru hadn’t seen in a while. Thankfully, it had been even longer since she had personally inspired it.

She moved to intercept him before her common sense had a chance to kick in. Positioning herself directly in front of Meresin, she held out a hand.

“Hold up, Justin. He’s not the only one who needs to cool off for a minute.”

“I don’t need your help!” Meresin snapped. “If he wants to fight me, he can go ahead. He’ll lose.”

That was something she was afraid of, actually, and had been ever since this small group of Fallen had shown up on Terra Noctem’s doorstep. Justin could take on just about anything. But immortal though he was, he had been born a man. These fallen angels had never been human. They were bigger, stronger, and infinitely more dangerous. Especially Meresin. The others cared about saving their own skins, at least, and had shown they could actually get attached to other people, to some small degree. She still wasn’t sure why Meresin had accepted the serpent-shifting Leviathan’s strange offer to escape Hell and do mercenary work for the archangels, though. He didn’t seem to care about anything, least of all himself.

“Dru—” Justin said, but she cut him off neatly as he came to a halt in front of her.

“Uh-uh. You dragged me down here. I did what you wanted. Now you get my invaluable input—let this go.”

Meresin stepped around her, and he was careful about it as ever. Not even the tip of a feather touched her.

“Why do you always send for her?” he asked. Much of the raw fury was gone from his voice, replaced by weary irritation. For him, that was about as good as it got. He sounded tired. But then, being mad at the world had to get pretty tiring.

“I do it because you actually seem to hear her when she tells you to stop,” Justin growled. “You’re deaf to everyone else.”

She didn’t bother to look at Meresin’s face. He’d either be angry or just disgusted. There would be no breakthroughs tonight where he was concerned. When he spoke again, though, the uncertainty in his voice surprised her.

“That’s…not true.” But there was no force behind the denial.

Dru raised her eyes—even now, she hated herself a little for enjoying the fact that she had to really look up to talk to him—and frowned as Meresin very pointedly avoided her gaze. He was as aware of their odd connection as she was, but he’d never acknowledge it. Or her, unless he absolutely had to.

One of these days, she’d figure out how to quit caring. Unfortunately, today was not that day.

Justin scrubbed a hand through his short crop of dark hair and sighed. Dru shot him a beseeching glance, and he shook his head at no one in particular before addressing Meresin again in a slightly calmer tone.

“This isn’t going to happen again,” he said.

“You sound awfully sure of that.” Meresin had traded anger for contempt, which Dru didn’t find to be a wise decision. Predictable, but not wise.

Justin was unfazed. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had been a warrior himself in the days of Caesar’s Rome, and while he might not stand tall enough to look the Fallen in the eye, he never backed down when they pushed him like this.

“I am sure of that. This is my city. A city you swore a blood oath to protect, not to destroy.”

“Nothing seems destroyed to me,” Meresin said flatly. “Your people are unruly, and so stupid that it’s a wonder any survive at all. I commanded all the aerial powers of Hell, and yet they hurl insults at me in the street. You should hope they learned something: not to threaten me.”

“And you should learn not to engage every asshole who calls you a name!” Justin snapped. “I can’t keep letting it go, Meresin. Your temper is worse, and my people are the ones who pay the price. Something’s got to give.” He tensed his jaw, glared at him, and then shook his head. “Uriel’s going to hear about this.”

Meresin stiffened, his pupils dilating strangely in the flickering lamplight. His tone, however, was as smooth as could be.

“Tattling to the angelic host? That’s your right, of course. But I expect Uriel will tell you the same thing they’ve said about me for centuries.”

“What’s that?” Justin asked.

His smile was as sharp as a blade, his eyes an abyss.

“I’m far too useful to kill.”

He took two steps back, then rocketed upward with a single flap of his massive wings. Dru moved to stand beside her brother as the two of them gazed upward into the blackness, where Meresin had quickly vanished.

“He sounds like he wishes someone would disagree,” she said softly, the bleak hopelessness in Meresin’s words echoing in her ears. It hadn’t been a threat. It had simply been a statement, and an unhappy one at that.

“I got that,” Justin said, and then blew out a breath. “I meant what I said. I’m going to talk to the other Fallen, and Uriel, if I can reach him.” He focused his deep red eyes on her, and he was no longer the vampire king—just her brother, loving and worried. “I know you have a thing for him, but he’s getting worse. He can’t go on like this. And neither can we.”

“I know,” she said, looking back up at the darkness that concealed the dome of the cavern far above. “I know.”

About the Author:

Kendra Leigh Castle was born and raised in the far and frozen reaches of Northern New York, where there was plenty of time to cultivate her love of reading thanks to the six-month-long winters.  Sneaking off with selections from her mother’s vast collection of romance novels came naturally and fairly early, and a lifelong love of the Happily Ever After was born.  After graduating from SUNY Oswego (where it also snowed a lot) with a teaching degree, Kendra ran off with a handsome young Navy fighter pilot and has somehow accumulated three children, three dogs, and one enormous cat during their many moves.

While stationed in a remote corner of the Nevada desert, Kendra penned her first romance, and a career often spent working in fuzzy slippers and pajamas was born.  Her work has garnered both critical praise and award nominations, but the best part has been connecting with readers who share her love of dark romance (not to mention heroes with sharp, pointed teeth).  Kendra currently lives in Maryland, and can usually be found curled up with her laptop and yet another cup of coffee working on her next book.  She loves to hear from her readers, and can be contacted via email or her Facebook page.

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Schedule The Demon's Desire by Kendra Leigh Castle

August 26 Guest blog and review
Guest post about the plot, the characters, and the world

August 27 Interview

August 27 spotlight

August 28 Spotlight

August 28 Spotlight

August 29 Guest blog
Guest post: 5 Fun Facts about The Demon's Desire

August 29 Spotlight and review

August 30 Guest blog

August 30 Interview

September 2 Guest blog

September 3 Guest Post

September 4 Spotlight

September 5 Guest blog

September 6 Spotlight

September 6 Spotlight and review

September 9 Guest blog

September 9 Spotlight

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