Lara Adrian‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:
Description of Kiss of Midnight:
Prepare for seduction as New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Lara Adrian unleashes a dark new breed of vampire. . .
Part human, part otherworldly, the Breed has lived among humankind for thousands of years, maintaining a tentative peace built on secrecy, power, and the dark justice carried out by the formidable warriors of the Order.
In KISS OF MIDNIGHT, the first book of the wildly popular Midnight Breed vampire romance series, a gifted young photographer gets caught in the crosshairs of a growing war within the Breed, thrusting her into the arms of the darkly sensual leader of the race’s warrior Order.
Special limited time offer — get KISS OF MIDNIGHT in ebook for just 99 cents! There’s never been a better time to dive into the Midnight Breed series or introduce Lucan and the Order to the vampire-loving readers on your holiday shopping lists.
“One of the consistently best paranormal series out there . . . Adrian writes compelling individual stories (with wonderful happily ever afters) within a larger story arc that is unfolding with a refreshing lack of predictability.” –Romance Novel News
Amazon Reader Reviews:
Kiss of Midnight currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 3.9 stars, with 314 reviews! Read the reviews here!
Excerpt from Kiss of Midnight:
“Remarkable. Just look at the use of light and shadow–”
“You see how this image hints at the sorrow of the place, yet manages to convey a promise of hope?”
“–one of the youngest photographers to be included in the museum’s new modern art collection.”
Gabrielle Maxwell stood back from the group of exhibit attendees, nursing a flute of warm champagne as yet another crowd of faceless, nameless, Very Important People enthused over the two dozen black-and-white photographs displayed on the gallery walls. An introvert by nature, it made her uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of this much praise and attention . . . but it did pay the bills. Quite nicely, at that. Tonight it was also paying the bills for her friend Jamie, the owner of the funky little art gallery on Newbury Street, which, at ten minutes to closing, was still packed with prospective buyers.
Numb with the whole process of meeting and greeting, of smiling politely as everyone from moneyed Back Bay wives to multi-pierced, tattooed Goths tried to impress one another–and her–with analyses of her work, Gabrielle couldn’t wait for the exhibit to end. She had been hiding in the shadows for the past hour, contemplating a stealth escape to the comfort of a warm shower and a soft pillow, both waiting at her apartment on the city’s East side.
But she had promised a few of her friends–Jamie, Kendra, and Megan–that she would join them for dinner and drinks after the showing. As the last couple of stragglers made their purchases and left the gallery, Gabrielle found herself being gathered up and swept into a cab before she had a chance to so much as think of begging off.
“What an awesome night!” Jamie’s androgynous blond hair swung around his face as he leaned across the other two women to clutch Gabrielle’s hand. “I’ve never had so much weekend traffic in the gallery–and tonight’s sales receipts were amazing! You weren’t too miserable in there, were you?”
“How could she be, with half of Boston falling at her feet?” gushed Kendra, before Gabrielle could answer for herself. “Was that the governor I saw you talking with over the canapés?”
“Yeah,” Gabrielle replied without much enthusiasm. She had a stack of business cards in her pocketbook–at least a year of steady work, if she wanted it–so why was she tempted to open the taxi window and scatter them all to the wind?
“Is anything wrong, Gab?” Megan asked from beside her on the taxi’s bench seat. “You seem quiet.”
Gabrielle shrugged. “I’m sorry. I’m just . . . I don’t know. Tired, I guess.”
“Somebody get this woman a drink–stat!” Kendra, the dark-haired nurse, joked.
“Nah,” Jamie countered, sly and catlike. “What our Gab really needs is a man. You’re too serious, sweetie. It’s not healthy to let your work consume you like you do. Have some fun! When’s the last time you got laid, anyway?”
Too long ago, but Gabrielle wasn’t really keeping track.
“Jamie is right, you know,” Kendra added. “You need to loosen up, get a little wild.”
“If you like dance clubs, there’s a new one just opened in the north end,” the cabbie interjected, his spearmint chewing gum cracking as he spoke. “I been takin’ fares over there all week. Fact, took two already tonight–fancy after-hours place called La Notte.”
“Ooh, La No-tay,” Jamie purred, tossing a playful look over his shoulder and arching an elegant brow. “Sounds perfectly wicked to me, girls. Let’s go!”
# # #
The club La Notte was housed in a High Victorian Gothic building that had long been known as St. John’s Trinity Parish Church, until recent Archdiocese of Boston payouts on priest sex scandals forced the closings of dozens of such places around the city. Now, as Gabrielle and her friends made their way inside the crowded club, synthesized trance and techno music rang in the rafters. On the dance floor–and in nearly every square foot of La Notte’s main floor and the gallery above–people moved against one another in writhing, mindless sensuality.
“Holy shit,” Kendra shouted over the music, raising her arms and dancing her way through the thick crowd. “What a place, huh? This is crazy!”
They hadn’t even cleared the first knot of clubbers before a tall, lean guy swooped in on the spunky brunette and bent to say something in her ear. Kendra gave a throaty laugh and nodded enthusiastically at him.
“Boy wants to dance,” she giggled, passing her handbag to Gabrielle. “Who am I to refuse!”
“This way,” Jamie said, pointing to a small empty table near the bar as their friend trotted off with her partner.
The three of them got seated and Jamie ordered a round of drinks. Gabrielle scanned the dance floor for Kendra, but she’d been devoured in the midst of the crowded space. Despite the crush of people all around, Gabrielle could not dismiss the sudden sensation that she and her friends were sitting in a spotlight. Like they were somehow under scrutiny simply for being there in the club. It was nuts to think it. Maybe she had been working too much, spending too much time alone at home, if being out in public could make her feel so self-conscious. So paranoid.
“Here’s to Gab!” Jamie exclaimed over the roar of the music, raising his martini glass in salute.
Megan lifted hers, too, and clinked it against Gabrielle’s. “Congratulations on a great exhibit tonight!”
“Thanks, you guys.”
As she sipped the neon yellow concoction, Gabrielle’s feeling of being observed returned. Or rather, increased. She felt a stare reach out to her from across the darkened distance. Over the rim of her martini glass, she glanced up and caught the glint of a strobe light nicking off a pair of dark sunglasses.
Sunglasses hiding a gaze that was unmistakably fixed on her through the crowd.
The quick flashes from the strobes cast his stark features in hard shadow, but Gabrielle’s eyes took him in at once. Spiky black hair falling loosely around a broad, intelligent brow and lean, angular cheeks. A strong, stern jaw. And his mouth . . . his mouth was generous and sensual, even when quirked in that cynical, almost cruel line.
Gabrielle looked away, unnerved, a rush of warmth skittering along her limbs. His face lingered in her head, burned there in an instant, like an image set to film. She put down her drink and braved another quick glance to where he stood. But he was gone.
A loud crash sounded at the other end of the bar, jerking Gabrielle’s attention over her shoulder. At one of the crowded tables, liquor seeped onto the floor, spilled from several broken glasses that littered the black lacquered surface. Five guys in dark leather and shades were having words with another guy, this one wearing a Dead Kennedys wife-beater tank and torn, faded blue jeans. One of the thugs in leather had his arm slung around a drunk-looking platinum blond, who seemed to know the punker. Boyfriend, apparently. He made a grab for the girl’s arm, but she slapped him away and bent her head to let one of the thugs put his mouth on her neck. She stared defiantly at her furious boyfriend, all the while playing with the long brown hair of the guy fastened to her throat.
“That’s messed up,” Megan said, turning back around as the situation escalated across the bar.
“Sure is,” Jamie added as he finished off his martini and flagged a server to bring another round. “Evidently that chick’s mama forgot to tell her it’s bad news not to leave with the guy who brought you.”
Gabrielle watched for another moment, long enough to see a second biker move in on the girl and descend on her slackened mouth. She accepted both of them together, her hands coming up to caress the dark head at her neck and the pale one that was sucking her face like he meant to eat her alive. The punker boyfriend shouted a string of obscenities at the girl, then turned around and shoved his way into the crowd.
Gabrielle’s skin prickled. “This place is creeping me out.”
Her friends didn’t seem to hear her over the driving pound of the music. They also didn’t seem to share Gabrielle’s unease. Something wasn’t quite right here, and Gabrielle could not shake the feeling that eventually the night was going to get ugly.
She found her gaze drifting over the sea of bobbing heads and swaying bodies, surreptitiously searching for the sunglass-shaded eyes that had been watching her before. Was he with the other thugs–one of that gang of bikers still stirring up trouble on the other side of the bar? He was dressed like them, certainly carried the same dark air of danger about him.
Whoever he was, Gabrielle saw no trace of him now.
She leaned back in her chair, then nearly jumped out of her skin when a pair of hands came to rest on her shoulders from behind.
“Here you are! I’ve been looking all over for you guys!” Kendra, sounding breathless and animated at the same time, leaned over the table. “Come on. I’ve got a table for us on the other side of the club. Brent and some of his friends want to party with us!”
Gabrielle stood up and looped the strap of her handbag over her shoulder. “You guys go on, have fun. I’m beat. I think I’m just going to catch a cab and head back home.”
Kendra gave her a little girl pout. “You’re sure you won’t stay? Just one more drink?”
“Nah. I really need to take off, and get some air. Enjoy yourselves, but be careful, right?”
“Suit yourself.” Kendra stepped in and planted a quick peck on her cheek. As she withdrew, Gabrielle caught a whiff of vodka, and, beneath that, something less obvious. Something musky, queerly metallic. “You’re a buzzkill, Gab, but I still love you.”
With a wink, Kendra looped her arms with Jamie and Megan’s, then playfully tugged them toward the churning mass of people.
Gabrielle immediately started her trek for the door, anxious to be out of the club. The longer she had stayed there, the louder the music seemed to get, drumming in her head, making it hard to think. People pushed at her from all sides as she tried to pass through them, squeezing her into the press of dancing, flailing, gyrating bodies. She was jostled and nudged, pawed at and groped by unseen hands in the dark, until, finally, she stumbled into the vestibule near the club’s entrance, then out the heavy double doors.
The night was cool outside, and dark. She drew in a deep breath, clearing her head of the noise and smoke and the unsettling atmosphere of La Notte. The music still throbbed out here, the strobe lights still flashed like small explosions behind the tall stained glass windows above, but Gabrielle relaxed a bit now that she was free.
She spotted a yellow cab coming her way, and thrust out her hand to call it over. “Taxi!”
As the empty cab navigated across the lanes of nighttime traffic and roared up beside her, the doors of the nightclub burst open with the force of a hurricane.
“Hey, man! What the–” Behind Gabrielle on the steps, a male voice rose to an octave just north of fear. “Touch me again, and I’ll–”
“You’ll what?” taunted another voice, this one low and deadly, and flanked by several others that were chuckling in amusement.
It was the gang from the bar, the bikers or whatever they were, in black leather and shades. The six of them circled the punker like a pack of wolves, taking turns swiping at him, toying with him like prey.
The kid threw a swing at one of them–missed–and the situation went from bad to worse.
All at once, the scuffle came crashing toward Gabrielle at the curb. The gang of thugs threw the punker up against the hood of the cab, slamming their fists into the kid’s face. Blood splattered like raindrops from his nose and mouth, some of it hitting Gabrielle. She took a step back, stunned and horrified. The kid scrabbled to get away, but his attackers stayed on him, beating him with a fury Gabrielle could hardly fathom.
“Get off my car!” the cabbie shouted out his open window. “Jesus Christ! Take it somewhere else, you hear me!”
One of the assailants turned his head toward the cabbie, smiled a terrible smile, then brought his large fist down on the windshield, shattering the glass into a spiderweb of cracks. Gabrielle saw the cabbie cross himself, his mouth working soundlessly within the car. There was a grinding of gears, then a piercing screech of tires as the taxi jerked into reverse, dislodging the burden from its hood.
“Wait!” Gabrielle screamed, too late.
Her ride home–her escape from this brutal scene–was gone.
With a cold lump of fear lodged in her throat, she watched the cab speed off, careening into the street and its red tail lights disappearing into the dark.
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