Curse the Dark (Retrievers Series #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Once more Wren Valere's game plan has taken an unexpected direction. She'd agreed to a bargain with one supersecret magic-watching outfit to protect her and her partner on their last job. But now the Silence is trying to wedge them apart.

On the one hand, ever since she and Sergei began to talk about their "relationship," things have been tricky. On the other, though… Well, no one better try to stand between Wren and Sergei when danger is near!...

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Curse the Dark (Retrievers Series #2)

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Overview

Once more Wren Valere's game plan has taken an unexpected direction. She'd agreed to a bargain with one supersecret magic-watching outfit to protect her and her partner on their last job. But now the Silence is trying to wedge them apart.

On the one hand, ever since she and Sergei began to talk about their "relationship," things have been tricky. On the other, though… Well, no one better try to stand between Wren and Sergei when danger is near!

So now they are off to Italy in search of a missing artifact, without any information other than the fact that it's very old, very dangerous and everyone who gets too close disappears. Still, when compared with what's going on at home (lonejacks banding together, a jealous demon, tracking bugs needing fumigation, etc.) maybe disappearing wouldn't be so bad.…

As if!

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Wren Valere and her partner Sergei Didier work for The Silence, an organization that employs mages, among others, for undercover and clandestine operations. As a magical "retriever," Wren uses thiefly abilities to locate and bring back obscure or magical artifacts. Sergei acts as bodyguard and facilitator, and, lately, as lover to Wren. When a hunt for a tenth-century Italian manuscript takes the pair to Rome, they find themselves in the midst of magical intrigue and physical mayhem. With an atmosphere reminiscent of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose by way of Sam Spade, Gilman's second Wren Valere adventure (after Staying Dead) features fast-paced action, wisecracking dialog, and a pair of strong, appealing heroes. For most dark fantasy collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426829475
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Series: Retrievers Series , #2
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 266,672
  • File size: 298 KB

Meet the Author

Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus books for Luna (the “Retrievers” and “Paranormal Scene Investigations” urban fantasy series), and the Nebula award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy from Pocket, as well as the YA trilogy GRAIL QUEST for Harper. Her first story collection is DRAGON VIRUS and she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres. Follow her at @LAGilman or www.lauraannegilman.net

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Read an Excerpt

Curse The Dark


By Laura Gilman

Luna

Copyright © 2005 Laura Gilman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0373802277

"Next time," Sergei muttered out of the corner of his mouth, not taking his eyes off the security guard leaning against a wall several paces ahead of them, "we're taking a boat."

"Sorry, okay?" Wren said, doing her best not to snap at him.

"I'm trying. I really am." And she was. It just wasn't helping.

Her partner's deep sigh was the only response she got. They'd had variations of this conversation ever since she threw her bag into the cab outside her apartment that morning, and things had only slid downhill since getting to the airport. If they could have gotten through all this quickly, and not given her so much time to think about it… But, well, that wasn't going to happen. And the weird feeling of being stared at, even though there wasn't anyone paying any attention to her, was just making things worse.

The line shuffled in place, people shifting bags and checking watches. Sergei took a small case out of his suit coat pocket, opened it and removed a slender brown cigarette, then put the case away. He rolled the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger, then started rotating it end to end, as though practicing for a coin trick he already knew how to do.

Another person made it through the metal detector and escaped into the depths of the airport. There was only one line feeding along roped-off lanes into seven different metal detect-ors, three of which were currently out of service, with technicians standing around them looking puzzled and not a little annoyed. One of the techs did something to a touch pad, and shrugged helplessly.

I hate airports, Wren thought. As though overhearing her thought, Sergei flicked a glance sideways at her, one dark brown eyebrow raised in inquiry over paler brown eyes. After ten years of working together, he didn't have to say anything; the message came through loud and clear. Get it done.

"Right." It wasn't that he wasn't sympathetic. He was. She knew that. But it was her problem and she was the one who had to deal with it. And sympathy didn't actually help. Adjusting her sweaty grip on her brand-new carry-on (finest you could buy on sale on two days' notice), Wren closed her eyes and refocused her attention inward, to where the tendrils of current coiled and flickered within her like snakes in a pit.

She wasn't a good flyer even under the best of circumstances. No, call a spade a spade and admit that she was a terrible flyer. She avoided traveling by air whenever possible. Sometimes, though, it wasn't possible. Sometimes, you just had to suck up the phobia and get on with it.

Unfortunately, the only thing worse than a phobic Talent under stress was a phobic Talent under stress near a lot of electronics. Such as, oh, the one found when going through departure security at a major airport just outside of New York City.

We shouldn't be here. We shouldn't have taken this job. Don't think about it, Valere. Focus. Stay calm. Or everything's going to get ugly.

"The usual mess," a man behind her grumbled to his companion. "And what do you want to bet once we get on the plane we'll be stuck on the tarmac for another hour anyway?"

Oh, God. So much for calm and serenity. Just the thought of that was enough to make her nerves — and the current inside her — roil. The "snakes" hissed sparks of current, seething in her own agitation. Damn, damn and —

There was another snap-ping! noise, and the lights on one of the still-working metal detectors went out, then came back on. The security guard swore under his breath and said something into his walkie-talkie. The seven people in front of Wren and Sergei on the security check line groaned. Wren felt a twinge of helpless guilt, opening her eyes and looking at the chaos she was, however unwillingly, creating. Admittedly, one of the machines had been out of commission by the time they got on line. She was pretty sure she wasn't to blame for that one. But the other two had died in a rather spectacular array of sparks not thirty seconds after they arrived. That was in addition to the meter of the cab that dropped them off, the check-in desk computer that decided to crash in the middle of confirming their seats, and the cell phone of the guy next to them on the escalator.

All those old stories about magic being wiped out by technology so had it wrong. Magic didn't hate tech. It loved it. So much so that a Talent instinctively wanted to reach out and drag all the lovely bits of power floating through the wires and tubes and chips of modern society into his or herself. Especially if she was, even subconsciously, preparing for a worst-case scenario in which she might need all the power she could grab.

Sergei had suggested a sedative when she started to hyper-ventilate in traffic this morning, but Wren was terrified of what she might do if she were too relaxed when the inevitable panic hit.

"Last time I got stuck in security I missed my connection and had to wait three hours for another flight," Wren heard the woman ahead of them say to her companion, more resigned than annoyed.

Oh, God. A muffled whimper escaped her, and sparks danced on the backs of her hands until she shoved them into the pocket of her pale blue linen jacket, bought new for this trip and already stained under the arms with sweat. "I hate airports," Wren muttered. "They're full of planes." She could hear the panic in her voice and hated herself for it.

"Hang in there." Sergei shoved the cigarette back into its case and shuffled in line, moving bags and his laptop case until he stood just behind her, a little closer than the crush of people demanded. At six-two he was almost a foot taller than she, and broad-shouldered into the bargain, creating a comfortable bar-rier at her back. The defense might have been mostly psychological, but it worked. She welcomed the closeness, breathing deeply of the scent of warm spice and musk that was so perfectly and only her partner. She could almost ground herself into it the way she would into rock or soil; emotionally, anyway, if not magically. Not that she thought she was going to do anything stupid, but…

Well, they called them phobias because they were irrational, after all.

"I'm here, Zhenchenka," he said. "I'm here, and everything's okay. Just focus. Keep it under control…" It was equal amounts order and a gentle reminder. Sergei might have finally given up that "senior partner" thing he'd been carrying for the past decade, but old habits died hard.

Fortunately, this was one directive she was willing to follow.

She took a deep breath, released it, nodded, and then closed her eyes again, shutting out everything around her: the white noise of the busy airport, the palpable irritation of the people around her, the smell of her own nervous sweat. Last to go was her physical awareness of Sergei, standing guard over her. Narrowing down further, shutting the mental chute, until all that existed was her awareness of her own awareness, and the enticing, invigorating current. Black silk covered with static electricity, jumbled fireworks of a thousand colors. It was beautiful, and tempting, and only with a severe force of will did she keep herself from falling into those fireworks, narrowing even further until all that existed was the current within herself, the natural core that was inside every human Talent.



Continues...

Excerpted from Curse The Dark by Laura Gilman Copyright © 2005 by Laura Gilman. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

    South

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  • Posted March 25, 2011

    great new twist

    if you like paranormal or even arent sure if you do this series is a gereat place to start. Wren and sergei are an interesting and down to earth team. so if you want a break from the usual vampires and shifters this is welcomed and fun bit of fresh air

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  • Posted September 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Still Hooked

    A particularly -- and unusually -- good 2nd book for a series. I judge second books by how well they tie up or build up strings from the last book and how well they lead into the third. I also judge by what obstacles the main character(s) have to overcome and what they do to accomplish the goals of the story.

    In this next entry in the Retriever series, Gilman did the things I really wanted -- expanded the characters' world, played with the characters' strengths and weaknesses, and put them up against an obstacle that was hard, but not so incredibly hard that they had to become all-godlike-powerful to overcome it (although there is a step up in ability). Also, we had losses to balance gains.

    Most of all, the deeper book-spanning plot -- one of the best things about good series is an over-arcing plot, as opposed to unrelated or barely related episodes -- is getting murkier and more interesting.

    This book breaks the usual paranormal/urban fantasy models with which I'm most familiar -- it's not in first person, the reader gets tantalizing bits of information from all different sides of the plot, and I'm not absolutely certain who or what is really the "bad guy". This keeps me intrigued. It probably helps that I really like the author's voice and style, too, and that it is similar but not ripping off other authors in the genre I really enjoy.

    Now for the next book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    Wonderful world of magic

    This is a great book with the larger than life characters and the feel of the real world placed in it so well that you can easily slip into the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2005

    Curse the Dark

    Just when Wren Valere's relationship with Sergei is definable as such, it looks like they might be parted by a secret order called the Silence, who at one time protected them. No matter what the Silence wants, Wren and Sergei need each other to complete their mission to Italy. Moreover, they have demons, trackers, and assorted other problems to deal with in addition to finding a dangerousd artifact and handling the Silence. ................................... If you want an action packed, hyper paced read, then this is what you are in the market for; however, the light character development will fail to engage readers for whom that is important.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fabulous urban fantasy

    In a world where most people don¿t believe in magic, there is a group of practitioners, humans who have talent to use the current from electricity to perform magic. Wren is a Retriever, a lonejack (a Talent not affiliated with the Mage Council); a person who finds and returns missing objects to the client. Her partner Sergei convinces her to take a contract from the Silence an organization who keeps the world from imploding.............. Their first assignment is to retrieve a manuscript that was stolen from the House of Legend a church in Sienna, Italy. When they arrive there, they learn that the church is not wired for electricity because the monks, unknowingly are guarding the library which contains malevolent manuscripts, texts and books. These guardians know that whoever reads the manuscript disappeared. Information sends them back to New York where the book is now in the hands of a private library that they are unable to gain access to due to spells. If they don¿t find a way to return the book to the Silence, the tome will wreck havoc on the city and then the country and if not unchecked, the world.................... CURSE THE DARK is a great romantic fantasy that will appeal to readers of Laurell K. Hamilton. The heroine is blacklisted by the Mage Council, is trying to keep the lonejacks from battling the council and is trying to adjust to the consummation of her relationship with Sergei. She also wants the fatae (the non-human magical creatures) protected by Talents who see them as an unfavorable species. Laura Anne Gilman is a master at characterizations, a great world builder and a gifted storyteller.................. Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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