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Kaitlyn Sherrad rolled down the window of her baby blue Porsche and stared up at the log cabin set alone in the midst of a cluster of tall pines. As usual, her father had outdone himself. Last month, when he had come to the States for her graduation from college, he had asked her what kind of gift she wanted and she had said, facetiously, Oh, nothing much, just a little summer place in the mountains.
After pulling into the driveway and cutting the engine, Kaitlyn grabbed her suitcases from the backseat. Smiling with anticipation, she hurried up the narrow, winding, red brick path that led to the front porch. She quickly skipped up the stairs and unlocked the door.
Knowing her father, she wasn't the least bit surprised to find the living room already furnished. An off-white sofa with a high, curved back and a matching love seat faced each other in front of a rough-hewn stone fireplace. A deep mauve carpet covered the floor, flowered curtains hung at the windows. The tables were walnut, as was the large bookcase—already filled with books by her favorite authors—that took up most of one wall.
Dropping her suitcases beside the sofa, Kaitlyn explored the rest of the house—two large bedrooms with a connecting bathroom; a den, complete with desk, computer and printer, sofa and big-screen TV; a small kitchen with new appliances and a refrigerator filled with her favorite foods; a service porch equipped with a new washer and dryer.
She shook her head, a sting of tears behind her eyes. Being an only child, she had always been spoiled rotten, but this went far beyond the ballet classes and piano lessons her parents had provided when she was in grade school, the new wardrobe they had given her every year, the Porsche her father had surprised her with for her twenty-first birthday last year.
She had hoped her folks would spend the summer with her, but trouble at the Fortress had drawn them home. It wasn't always easy, having a father who was the Master of the Carpathian Coven. Sometimes, as now, his duties could not be ignored. Usually, her uncle Andrei handled things at the Fortress, but whatever the emergency had been, it had required her father's attention, which meant that her mother had gone, as well. To her knowledge, her parents rarely spent more than a few hours apart.
Kaitlyn sighed as she removed her sweater and tossed it over the back of the sofa. Someday, she hoped to find a man who would adore her the way her father adored her mother. A man who would live and die for her. A man she couldn't live without.
Picking up her suitcases, she carried them into the first bedroom and tossed them on the bed. This room was done in varying shades of green, with billowy white lace curtains. The twin windows looked out over a sparkling blue lake.
Kaitlyn shook her head. How was she ever going to express her gratitude for the love and kindness her parents had showered upon her? She had thanked them on numerous occasions in the past, but words seemed woefully inadequate. She knew they hadn't been altogether pleased with her decision to remain in California after she graduated from college, but they had accepted it without argument.
Feeling a little homesick, she opened the larger suitcase and began to unpack. Her folks had always treated her like a princess, but then, maybe that was natural, since she had been raised in an old stone castle in the heart of Romania.
She smiled as she hung her clothes in the closet.
All she needed now was a prince.
Zack had built the casino ten years ago, simply because he was bored and thought it would be a nice distraction. It was one of the best decisions he had made in the last six hundred years. Not only did the casino provide a hefty income, but the constant change in customers assured a steady supply of women. And Zack loved women—all women. Old or young, ugly or pretty, smart or not so smart, black, white, red, brown, yellow—it made no difference. He loved them all. And they loved him in every way imaginable.
Leaving the gaming tables behind, he strolled up and down the aisles of slot machines. He stopped a moment to watch an elderly woman playing one of the old dollar slots. From her shabby appearance, she appeared to be down on her luck and most likely using the last of her money in a desperate hope of hitting it big. He had seen it all before. Usually, he had no sympathy for those who plunked down their last five bucks in hopes of winning a fortune on the turn of a card. Sure, it happened from time to time, but no matter what the game, the odds were always with the house.
The old lady was muttering under her breath.
It took Zack a minute to realize she wasn't cursing but praying.
He frowned as he listened to the urgency of her words, heard the unshed tears in her voice as she sent a desperate plea toward Heaven.
Zack grunted softly. Her husband was sick. He needed an operation, and medication they could no longer afford. She had lost her job. They couldn't pay the rent.
She needed a miracle.
Murmuring a breathless "Amen," she shoved her remaining three dollars into the machine, then clasped her hands to her breast.
With a bemused shake of his head, Zack concentrated on the wheels of the slot machine.
One gold bar.
Smiling, Zack moved on as the machine lit up and bells and whistles went off, signaling that a player had hit the ten-thousand-dollar jackpot. So, he had lost ten grand, he thought, but it wasn't much to pay for a miracle.
He was still smiling when he stepped outside. It was a beautiful night. Cool and crisp. A few scattered clouds drifted across the face of the full moon.
Feeling suddenly restless, he wandered away from the casino, crossed the parking lot, and headed for the wooded hillside that began just beyond the blacktop.
He moved soundlessly through the underbrush, his keen senses aware of the tiny night creatures that scented a predator and quickly scurried out of his way. He caught the scent of a skunk and farther on, that of a deer.
Nearing one of the cabins, he came across a black bear scavenging through a trash can. The bear reared up on its hind legs and sniffed the wind. Apparently recognizing Zack as a threat, the animal dropped back down on all fours and lumbered into the trees.
Grinning, Zack continued on until he came to the solitary cabin at the top of the hill. He paused, surprised to see there were lights on in the house. The cabin had been vacant for the last two years. He had, in fact, been thinking of buying the place for a rental.
Ah, well, too late now.
He was turning away when he caught the scent of prey. Glancing back, he saw a young woman looking out the front window. He whistled softly. He had seen a lot of beautiful women in his day, but this one—he shook his head. She was beyond beautiful. Her skin was smooth and unblemished, her eyes a deep dark blue. Hair the color of a raven's wing tumbled over her shoulders.
He frowned when her gaze found his, and then shook his head. She couldn't see him, of course. He was hidden by the darkness. And yet he couldn't shake the feeling that she knew he was there, that she was staring at him, as he was staring at her.
Curious to see her reaction, he stepped out of the darkness into a shaft of bright moonlight.
He had expected her to gasp in surprise, call 911, or hastily move away from the window and close the curtains. Instead, she tilted her head to the side, her gaze moving over him from head to heel, much the way he studied a woman he was considering as prey.
Zack was contemplating what to do next when she moved away from the window. Moments later, she was standing on the front porch, her arms folded under her breasts.
"What are you doing here?" she demanded.
Her voice was low, soft, and yet he detected a fine layer of steel underneath. He grunted softly. Most women would have been frightened if they looked out their window at midnight and found a stranger standing in the yard. But she wasn't the least bit afraid.
He had to admire that. Inclining his head, he murmured, "Good evening."
She lifted one delicate brow. "I repeat, what are you doing here?"
"Merely enjoying the night air," he replied with a smile. "And I repeat, good evening." He frowned, mystified by his inability to read her mind. It was a skill that had never failed him before and left him wondering if she was deliberately blocking him, and if so, how?
She huffed a sigh of exasperation. "Same to you."
"You're new in the area," he said.
Kaitlyn nodded. He must be a longtime resident, she thought, else he wouldn't be aware of that.
"It's a lovely house," he remarked. "I had intended to buy it myself."
"No need to be sorry. Our town can always use another pretty face." He took a step forward, extending his hand. "Zackary Ravenscroft," he said. "But my friends call me Zack."
She descended the stairs. "Do you think we're going to be friends?" she murmured, taking his hand.
"I hope so."
"I'm Kaitlyn Sherrad."
He gave her hand a slight squeeze. "Kaitlyn."
She didn't know if it was the sound of her name on his lips, or the touch of his hand on hers that sent a shiver of excitement racing down her spine. Startled, she jerked her hand from his and took a step backward. Who was this guy? She had never experienced a reaction like that with any other man. Stranger still was the bewildering fact that she couldn't divine his thoughts. She supposed there were bound to be a few people whose minds she couldn't read; still, it was disconcerting. Was there something wrong with him, she wondered, or was the problem hers? She would have to ask her father about it the next time he called.
Needing time to ponder her odd reaction to Zackary Ravenscroft and her failure to read his thoughts, Kaitlyn bid him a quick good night and hurried up the stairs and into the house. She closed and locked the door, then stood there, her back pressed against the wood. Who was that guy?
Zack stared after her for several moments before he turned and headed back down the trail toward the casino.
Kaitlyn Sherrad was a puzzle, he mused, and he hated puzzles.
Zack was still trying to unravel the mystery that was Kaitlyn when she strolled into the casino shortly after dusk the next evening. Clad in a simple pale pink dress that outlined a figure bordering on perfection and a pair of white heels that did wonderful things for her long, shapely legs, she quickly attracted the admiring gaze of every man in the place, and the envy of every woman.
"Miss Sherrad," Zack murmured, going forward to greet her. "Welcome to my establishment."
"Thank you, Mr. Ravenscroft."
He made a broad gesture with his hand, encompassing the gaming portion of the nightclub. "What's your pleasure?"
"What would you suggest? I've never been in a casino before."
"Well, the slots are the easiest. The craps table is a bit confusing but probably the most exciting. Poker is a game of skill. Roulette is a game of pure chance."
She looked thoughtful a moment. "Slot machines, I guess."
He followed her to a bank of slots, stayed her hand when she delved into her handbag. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a fifty-dollar bill.
"First time's on me," he said with a wink.
"Really? Is this something you do for all of your customers?"
"No, ma'am, just the pretty ones."
With a toss of her head, Kaitlyn took the fifty from his hand and slid the bill into the appropriate slot. A credit meter displayed the amount deposited.
"On this machine, you can play one credit or as many as five, or you can hit the button marked PLAY MAX CREDITS," Zack explained. "After you make your choice, hit the SPIN REELS button. That's all there is to it."
Kaitlyn followed his directions, then watched breathlessly as the colorful wheels turned, then slowly came to a stop, showing three cherries across.
"I won!" she exclaimed, her cheeks flushing with excitement, as credits were added to her original amount.
Zack smiled, amused by her excitement, content to stand at her shoulder as she continued to play. As with most games of chance, the odds were always in favor of the house. The payout on slots was about ninety-three percent.
A few minutes later, a hostess clad in a ruffled, off-the-shoulder white blouse and short, wine-red skirt came by offering drinks, which were free to players. Kaitlyn ordered orange juice.
"Not a big drinker, are you?" Zack remarked.
"Not really. Aren't you having anything?"
"Maybe later." He jerked his chin toward the machine. "You won again."
Amused by her enthusiasm at winning a few dollars, he was curious to see what her reaction would be if she hit the jackpot. It was easy to manipulate the machine. A single thought, and three sevens lined up on the pay line.
"Oh! Look at that!" she exclaimed as more credits were added to the meter.
He laughed, surprised that her enjoyment pleased him so much.
The waitress arrived with her orange juice only moments later. Kaitlyn couldn't help wondering if all drink orders were filled as quickly, or if the fact that she was with the boss had anything to do with the speedy service.
She continued to play while she sipped her drink, winning more than she lost, and decided to quit while she was ahead.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Then hit CASH OUT," he directed.
She frowned when the machine spit out a bar-coded ticket.
"Only the older machines pay out in cash," Zack explained. "You can cash that in later."
"Oh, okay." She slipped the coupon into her purse and glanced around.
"Are you game to try something else?" Zack asked.
"Maybe later. Right now, I think I'd like something to eat. Is there a restaurant in here?"
"This way." Curious to see if his touch elicited the same reaction as the night before, he took her hand in his. An odd look passed over her face, but she didn't pull away this time. Pleased, he led her out of the casino and down a long, carpeted hallway. Kaitlyn glanced at the shops that lined both sides of the corridor—gift shop, flower shop, hair salon. But it was the sexy black pants and top in the window of the dress shop next to the hair salon that caught her eye. She'd never worn anything like that in her whole life.
The restaurant was at the end of the corridor. Kaitlyn glanced around. The room was rectangular-shaped, with an open beam ceiling and parquet floors. Booths lined three of the walls; tables covered with deep green cloths were arranged in the center of the floor. The lighting was subdued; soft music filtered through the sound system.
They were seated immediately, but that was no surprise. After all, it was bad form to keep the boss waiting.
"Good evening, Mr. Ravenscroft," a waitress said, offering Kaitlyn a menu. "Your usual?"
"That'll be fine, Annie."
"I'll be right back," she said, smiling.
"So," Kaitlyn said, opening the menu, "what's good here?"
"Everything," Zack replied with a grin. "We've got the best chef in the state. I'm told the lobster is excellent."
"You're told?" Her eyebrows went up in surprise. "Haven't you ever tried it?"
"No. I'm ... allergic to seafood."
The waitress returned bearing a glass of dark red wine, which she placed on a coaster in front of Zack before turning her attention to Kaitlyn. "Do you need more time?"
"No. I'll have the lobster."
"Soup or salad?"
"Salad, with ranch."
"And to drink?"
"Just water, no lemon." Kaitlyn looked at Zack. "Aren't you having anything?"
"No. I dined earlier."
After jotting Kaitlyn's order down on her pad, the waitress picked up the menu and turned to go, but not before bestowing a dazzling smile on Zack.
"She seems quite smitten with you," Kaitlyn remarked as the waitress moved to the next table.
"Annie? Yeah, she's a good kid." He draped one arm along the back of the booth. "So, are you a working girl?"
"Not yet. I just graduated from college."
He grunted softly.
"I majored in Comparative Folklore."
"How's that workin' out for ya?" he asked, grinning.
"Not very well, actually," she admitted, her grin matching his. "Believe it or not, there isn't a lot of interest in ancient folklore these days, but"—she shrugged—"I receive a substantial allowance from my father."
Zack nodded. "Must be nice." He barely remembered his own father.
Excerpted from Bound by Blood by Amanda Ashley Copyright © 2011 by Madeline Baker. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 31, 2011
As her college graduation present, her dad gives Kaitlyn Sherrad a little place in the country that happens to overlook Lake Tahoe. Kaitlyn loves her father Drake the Master of the Carpathian Coven vampire and her once human mother Elena (see Bound by Night for their tale).
Her parents return to the Romanian Old Country on urgent clan business so she goes to her luxurious cabin alone. Kaitlyn meets and falls in love with casino owner Zackary Ravenscroft. However, she initially is unaware that he is a six century old vampire whose family loathes the East European clan as much as hers detests these upstarts over a two decade old incident. As the heir to the Carpathian Coven, Kaitlyn knows her beloved is forbidden fruit, but history apparently repeats the same mistakes especially with an unknown adversary plotting to take down the couple.
The second Bound romantic urban fantasy is a delightful tale of forbidden love starring fully developed protagonists and a well rounded support cast that deftly ties up threads from the first thriller. The fascinating star-crossed second generation romance is fun to follow though the plot follows the expected course as there are no major twists. Still sub-genre fans will appreciate Amanda Ashley's wonderful paranormal romance.
7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2011
Bound by Blood, Amanda Ashley's sequel to the soon to be released, Bound by Night reminds us that the saying "revenge is a dish best served cold" holds true! Twenty years later, a still unappeased grudge festering against Drake Sherrad, Master of the Carpathian Vampire Coven finds its way to the surface in the form of a threat against the most prized piece of his heart, his now grown daughter Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn, recently graduated from college finds herself wondering what to do now. A log cabin, a gift from her parents nestled in the forest of Northern California's Tahoe region, provides a quiet space in which to make up her mind. Gazing out of the cabin window that first night, movement brings a dark haired handsome man into view. Stepping outside to confront the mysterious stranger she tries to determine why she cannot get a sense of him or at least garner his thoughts, half-vampire as she is. Zackary Ravenscroft, a 600-year-old vampire and owner of the popular casino just down the hill also is asking himself the same question. Danger to Kaitlyn places Zack in a position to choose between the solitary life he has led thus far and the emotional ties he now feels and the protection he wants to provide. Which will be worse, the wrath of Kaitlyn's father when he learns the truth or the unknown enemy threatening her? Willing to take their chances together, Kaitlyn and Zack finds themselves preyed upon by both in an unbeknown repeat of the past which will test the love they have for each other.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2012
I am half way thur the book, still nothing going on. How can they fall in love and not do it already. Book is boring, if ur younger u like it.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2012
Posted August 6, 2011
Descended from a long line of Romanian vampires, Kaitlyn Sherrad is half-vampire and half-human. She can feel the sun on her face and eat real food, but she also possesses a thirst for blood and other preternatural abilities. Zack Ravenscroft is all vampire, one of the "Others," a natural enemy of the Romanian vampires. Over six-hundred years old, he was made not born. In all of his long life, he's never met a woman like Kaitlyn. They thirst for each other, feel incomplete when they're not with each other. Unfortunately, Kaitlyn's dad Drake wants to kill Zack. And Drake's enemies want to kill Kaitlyn. Both lovers have targets on their back, but they're willing to put their hearts on the line and fight for their happily-ever-after. Despite the blood and guts and hand-to-hand combat inherent in any vampire novel, BOUND BY BLOOD is a surprisingly sweet and innocent read. The obstacles keeping Zack and Kaitlyn apart are very real, and the well-paced conflict will keep readers turning pages to find out what happens.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2012
Posted October 24, 2011
Preternatural was used on almost every page of this book. I get it! We get it! You're vampires with powers that we mortals do not possess. Well this mortal has this one power-shut the book down! What a waste of money & brain cells. I've read much better vampire romance (Twlight is not one of them!) & will just chalk this up as a bad investment choice!
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 17, 2011
If you love Amanda Ashley and Vampires this is a must read. It keeps you on the edge of your seat with the mystery and drama watching as the family continues to over come the troubles of the past that ignite in the next generation.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 8, 2013
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Posted November 1, 2011
Kaitlyn Sherrad, heir to the Carpathian dynasty, is half human and half vampire. She has broken free of the Fortress and is living on her own in Nevada. A hopeless romantic at heart she is an easy target for Zack Ravenscroft. Zack is a ladies' man but when he meets Katy he knows that she is unlike anyone he has every meet. There is definitely insta-love but not insta-lust. Zack wants to do everything right with Katy and that includes wanting to be married first before falling into bed with her. One HUGE obstacle in the way is that fact that Katy's family is made up of natural born vampires and Zack is an "Other", a made vampire.
The Sherrad family thought they had destroyed these heathens long time ago. Let's just say Drake, Katy's father, is not too happy with this development. But he must first try to stop one of his father's wives, Nadiya, from killing Katy in retaliation for the death of her son. Nadiya sends some of her family after Katy and when they are killed, Nadiya goes off the deep end.
I loved the Romeo and Juliet style storyline. Katy and Zack's love is forbidden but nothing will come between them, not even the vengeful Nadiya. Adding the element of danger just creates the right amount of tension to keep your interest. I will admit at times Katy sounds like a spoiled child but her bravery in battle outweighs that one flaw. To me Bound by Blood was a classic vampire love story and I enjoyed reading it.
Posted October 20, 2011
Posted October 14, 2011
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Posted November 16, 2012
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