Raven Grace was a college senior with ambitions of a career in law enforcement when she met the demon Aega, whose bite turned her from mortal to Shapeshifter. Now a member of the Recovery Organization, Raven keeps the peace between humans and errant Hellhounds, trolls, wizards and the like while trying to track down Aega and bring him to justice. After a particularly dicey encounter one night with a Hellhound, she goes to the aid of a girl who’s been attacked and near death—and is amazed to find Aega’s bite mark on the girl’s arm. Determined to get to the bottom of this, she revisits the victim’s apartment and there discovers her closet is a portal to a parallel universe, where people she knows lead vastly different lives. She also gets a glimpse of the Recovery Captain there—a six foot, redheaded Scotsman named Finn McPhee, whose sexy accent and even sexier bod sets her senses aflame. Seeking answers, Finn takes Raven to the magickal underworld, where an ancient fae informs them the demon’s quest is rooted in Scottish mythology and magick. As they delve deeper into legend, the truthcomes to light—Aega is only a pawn, subservient to another, darker demon…a being who knows the truth about Raven’s heritage, and who orchestrated her return to this parallel universe for the ultimate showdown. Now, Finn and Raven find their passion for one another must take a backseat to Raven’s battle with a dark force who won’t be satisfied until he’s claimed her soul for his very own…
Excerpt: Raven’s Kiss – Paranormal Romance
by Toni LoTempio
The Hellhound took a menacing step towards me. “We all have our crosses to bear,” he leered. With a snarl, he snapped a hand on my shoulder, the other on my hip and pulled me close to him. I caught a whiff of his fetid breath and almost gagged. I felt his sharp claws rip my blouse as he lifted me off the ground. Damn. My new Leslie Fay, too. The one that’d cost me almost a week’s salary. Damn. And I was still paying it off on my Visa, too. Now that really bit.
Headache gone, I let out a low growl and twisted around in his grasp. He wasn’t expecting that, and loosened his grip, enough for me to jab the heel of my boot straight into his leering mouth. Startled, he staggered back and dropped me. I rolled over to the far wall of the building and stood up shakily, brushing the alley dust and grime from myself as I did so.
Before I had a chance to think, the Hound advanced on me again. “You’re a spunky one,” he hissed. “Maybe I won’t eat your flesh—no, maybe I won’t. You’d be a good addition to our number.” He shot me another leering, black grin. “All it takes is one bite, you know. How’d you like to look like me?”
The words one bite served to rile me. I jerked myself upright and glared at the monster. “Hey, pal, the one bite thingy? Been there, done that, by something far worse than you, incidentally.”
His chest puffed out and he tapped one long, sharp fingernail against his breastbone. “Hah. What’s worse than a Hellhound?”
“This,” I hissed, and closed my eyes. I felt my body go all tingly, and parts of my anatomy start to stretch. A moment later, I heard the Hounds’ agonized cry.
“What the San Blazes is this?”
In my changed state, I slithered closer to the beast. “I’m sure you’ve seen a Hydra before,” I hissed. “The famed many-headed serpent, whose bite is deadly to most anyone, mortal or Other—and while it won’t kill you, it will induce a coma, which is all I need for now.”
Two of my seven heads shot out. One nipped the Hellhound on the neck, the other on its ankle. The creature swayed, stared at me through slitted golden eyes.
“Shifter—you’re a Shifter,” he muttered, as he slid to the pavement. “That means…”
“Yeah,” I hissed out, “you’re two years too late to turn me, my friend. It’s already been done.”
The Hellhound dropped like a stone, his head hitting the pavement with a sharp cracking sound. I drew back all seven heads, shimmered, and a moment later stood, albeit a tad wobbly, over the fallen creature.
“Coma’ll make you a bit more cooperative, too.” I reached into my pocket for my cell phone. “George owes me big time for you, friend.” I felt around in my pocket. Damn. My phone was gone. I remembered taking it out in the bar—I must have left it there. Friggin’ great. I glanced at the apartment building. Now all the lights were out. Well, maybe someone wouldn’t mind being woken up. After all, it was for a good cause.
At that precise moment, the back door of the building was flung open, and a girl with frizzy red curls, wearing tight jeans and a cutoff top, ran onto the stoop.
“Help! I think my roommate’s been murdered!” Her head swiveled in my direction, and her arms started to pump like a windmill. “Please help! She—she’s not breathing.”
I gave Houndy a sharp kick to make sure he was still unconscious. Then I took off my belt, bound it securely around his wrist. I retrieved my badge and hurried over to the stoop where the girl stood, hugging herself.
“Thank you,” she breathed as I approached. “I—I don’t know what to do. She—she—“
I flashed my Recovery badge and slipped my arm around her shoulders. She was shaking like a leaf. “It’ll be okay,” I said. “Show me where she is.”
I followed the girl into the building, up two flights of stairs and into a corner apartment that was sparsely furnished. There was a threadbare sofa flanked by two scarred end tables, a floor lamp, a rolling bar cart with two bottles of wine on top of it. One wall was covered with bookcases, filled to the brim with what appeared to be a combination of school textbooks and paperback novels. I took all this in at a cursory glance as I followed the girl into the bedroom. She stopped on the threshold, jammed her fist into her mouth.
“She—she’s in there.”
I stepped across the threshold and the breath hitched in my throat. The bed was big, definitely a king, and took up almost the entire room. It was slicked with what looked like genuine satin sheets, the color of delicate pink roses, a match for the skin of the girl who lay sideways across it.
She was pretty, a face like a cameo, hair that cascaded like a fiery red waterfall down one shoulder. I leaned over, put my fingers against her throat.
“She’s still alive,” I said. “Call 911.” As the other girl continued to stand there, mewling with her hand still in her mouth, I barked louder, “Did you hear me? Call 911, or she might well die yet.”
That seemed to rouse the girl, who turned on her heel and left. I started to turn and follow, when something caught my eye. I leaned over the body, and very gently turned it to get a better look at the right shoulder. I sucked in my breath. I wasn’t wrong.
Two fang marks, inside an upside down triangle. The same mark I had on my right shoulder.
The mark of Aega, the damn demon who’d turned me into a Shapeshifter.
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All About….TONI LOTEMPIO
Hello! I’m Toni LoTempio, author of Paranormal Romance/Romantic Suspense/YA Fantasy! I’ve been writing ever since I was old enough to read, when I didn’t like the endings of the stories my mother read me I simply rewrote them J Even though I write mainly in the paranormal genre, I have also written straight horror, as well as contemporary romance/suspense.
In 1995, I joined the staff of SUSABELLA PASSENGERS AND FRIENDS, a pulp magazine for collectors of antique children’s literature (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, etc.) Currently I’ve written over 300 articles for that magazine, and I was the first recipient of their Margaret Sutton Award for Distinguished Writing in 1998. I joined the staff of NIGHT OWL REVIEWS IN January 2011 as the suspense reviewer/columnist. My column, DARK STREETS, which features articles on suspense authors and their novels, is featured on a monthly basis. I love to spotlight new talent, so if you’re a suspense author, please contact me!
In 2007, Whiskey Creek Press published BOUND BY BLOOD, a tale of possession, and EBONY, which deals with zombies and the dark side of man. EBONY was #2 on the Fictionwise bestseller list for e-books for the month of July 2007, beating out Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story. (and no one was more shocked than I, LOL) In 2010, after countless attempts to land another agent, I took the advice of a fellow author HP Mallory, and self published NO REST FOR THE WICCA, which has been on Amazon’s list of top one hundred in Occult since March 2011. My short story, THE SACRIFICE, appears in the e-published anthology KISS ME KILL ME, and I also have a YA fantasy, MY SUPERHERO SISTER on B&N and Amazon. A complete listing of my books appears at the end of this bio.
Currently single, I work full time and live in Clifton, NJ, with my muses: Rocco, Maxx, Gata and Trixie. (Rocco is also known as Rocco the SciFi Blogging Cat and has appeared on the SciFi Saturday Night website and radio show, and also on the Kids Need To Read website where he holds the distinction of being the first (and possibly only!) blogging cat to support this charity!)
Toni LoTempio Books:
Bound by Blood – Whiskey Creek Press, trade paperback & e-book, Feb. 2007 (paranormal suspense)
Ebony – Whiskey Creek Press, trade paperback & e-book, July 2007 (paranormal suspense)
Witch’s Pawn – Echelon Press, trade paperback & e-book, December 2008 (horror)
Nom de Plume – Whiskey Creek Press, trade paperback & e-book, November 2008 (contemporary romance)
It’s in the Cards – Whiskey Creek Press, e-book, February 2010 – (paranormal romance)
Out of the Ashes – Whiskey Creek Press, e-book, May 2010 – Fantasy
No Rest for the Wicca – Amazon & B&N Pub-It, e-book, September 2010 – paranormal suspense
My Superhero Sister – Amazon & B&N Pub-It, e-book, Trade Paperback – January 2011 – YA Fantasy
Kiss Me, Kill Me – Amazon & B&N Pub-It, e-book anthology –February 2011 – Short Story, “The Sacrifice”
Raven’s Kiss – Amazon & B&N Pub-It, e-book, & Trade Paperback April, 2011 – Paranormal Romance
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