Dark Heat: The Dark Kings Storiesby Donna Grant, Antony Ferguson
The Dark Kings are sworn to defend an ancient legacy of dragon magic. But their fiercest challenge lies in the modern world, where a woman's love conquers all. These are their stories. Dark Heat gathers together these favorite stories of Donna Grant's Dark Kings. "Dark Craving": Fueled by ancient magic-and enflamed by human desire-the Dragon King known
The Dark Kings are sworn to defend an ancient legacy of dragon magic. But their fiercest challenge lies in the modern world, where a woman's love conquers all. These are their stories. Dark Heat gathers together these favorite stories of Donna Grant's Dark Kings. "Dark Craving": Fueled by ancient magic-and enflamed by human desire-the Dragon King known as Hal can transform himself at will into one of the legendary winged creatures he is sworn to protect. But one thing he can never do is fall in love . . . with a mortal woman. "Night's Awakening": The dark immortal warriors were never meant to experience human desire. But when Guy, a member of an ancient order of shapeshifting warriors, meets Elena-a mere mortal whose beauty and blind ambition shakes him to his core-all bets are off . . . "Dawn's Desire": For centuries, the Dragon Kings have hidden their shapeshifting powers from the world. But when a mortal enemy threatens to expose them, the warrior Banan must leave his secret lair in the Highlands to risk his life for the dragons within-and resist the temptations of human love. "Passion's Claim": Banan has been waiting for centuries for someone like Jane. Guy knew it was love at first sight with Elena. Can two Dragon Kings commit to two immortal women for eternity? Or does fate have something else in store?
Read an Excerpt
“My luggage is lost?” Cassie Hunter asked for the third time, hoping that maybe the airport staff might miraculously find it.
Her eyes were like sandpaper each time she blinked, and all she wanted to do was curl up somewhere and sleep. For at least a week. Instead, she had this to deal with.
“Aye, miss,” a middle-aged balding man repeated for the third time, his patience running thin if his tightened lips were any indication. “I am sorry, but it does happen. With all your connections out of—” He paused to look at her itinerary on the computer screen. “—Arizona, it’s no’ surprising.”
“Everything I have in the world is in those two suitcases.” She was still reeling from the cost of having had to pay for each piece of luggage as well.
The last few hundred dollars she had were all too quickly whittling away. And she hadn’t even exchanged them for pounds yet. How was her money going to last her for a few months at this rate?
“At least you have your carry-on.”
Cassie blinked at the man before issuing a quick thank you and turning away. There was nothing left for her to do but dig out the address for the house where she was staying to the employee, and pray that somehow her luggage found its way to her.
She glanced at her watch and inwardly winced. Dan was going to be furious. Her brother wasn’t known for his patience, and she’d already wasted almost two hours dealing with the luggage fiasco.
But he was going to have to wait some more, because she had to pee. With her bladder about to explode, Cassie found the bathroom and struggled to get into the tiny stalls with her carry-on, jacket, and purse.
It wasn’t until she was washing her hands that she dared to look into the mirror.
“Dear God,” she murmured in horror as she saw her reflection.
She raked her fingers through her stick-straight brown hair, which was poking up all over the place. There wasn’t time to brush it, but Cassie did take a second to wipe away the smudges of mascara under her eyes before she hurried out of the restroom and then left the airport to the passenger pickup to look for her brother.
She shivered against the cold as she scanned the vehicles for the small blue car he’d mentioned in his text, but found nothing. Worry ripped through her. It would be just like Dan to leave after having to wait so long. Renting a car wasn’t an option either, with what little money she had left.
She doubted she had enough to rent half a bicycle.
“Dammit, Dan,” she mumbled.
“Excuse me,” a female voice said to Cassie’s left.
She turned to find another airport employee standing beside her; the woman’s graying hair was pulled back in a severe bun. “Yes?”
“You’re American, aye?”
“Yes,” Cassie replied with a tired grin. She could only imagine what her voice sounded like to the Scots.
“Is your name Cassie Hunter, by chance?”
This was getting odd, but there had to be a reason the woman knew her name. “It is.”
“Then this is for you,” the woman said, and pulled out a small manila envelope from her jacket and handed it to Cassie. “A man named Dan gave this to me two days ago and said your flight would be landing this morning.”
“Two days ago?” Cassie repeated as she took the envelope and felt the unmistakable heft and shape of keys inside it. What the hell was going on? “Did he say anything else?”
“Nay.” The woman smiled and walked away.
Cassie sighed as she looked at the envelope. It was amazing what a person could get another to do when money was involved, and Dan had a lot of money. She opened the envelope and found a letter inside telling her where Dan had parked the car and also the address where she was to pick up Duke, his dog.
“I’m going to kill you, Dan,” Cassie ground out with a sniff as she dumped the keys into her icy hand.
She had been nervous about leaving behind everything she knew to live in Scotland, but the prospect of seeing her brother was too good to pass up. Now he couldn’t even be here to pick her up?
No explanation other than it was an emergency. Dan could be thoughtless, but even he had seemed excited at her coming to Scotland. She couldn’t help but wonder if the emergency had something to do with Dan’s wife. They had been having some marital issues.
Cassie squared her shoulders. She could do this. Or so she thought. Finding the car was another obstacle.
Between the cold, her coat—which was hardly enough to brace against the wind—and her carry-on with wheels so old they didn’t roll properly on the pavement, she never thought she’d find the car. And when she was finally standing in front of it, all she could do was laugh.
It was either that or cry.
Cassie was bent over laughing so hard, tears threatened as she stared at what her brother thought was a vehicle but surely had to be a Hot Wheels car.
She fumbled with the keys to open the door and started laughing again at what constituted the backseat. “I guess it’s a good thing my luggage was lost, because there’s no way I’d fit it and myself inside.”
Getting in the opposite side and realizing the car was a standard put another black mark in her brother’s column. Not that she’d say anything to him about it. He was giving her a place to stay when she had nowhere else to go.
At least the car had a GPS. Cassie hurried as fast as her numb fingers would allow her to input the address to pick up Duke—another surprise, since she’d no idea Dan owned a dog.
It took no time to get out of the airport, but she couldn’t say the same for driving. Cassie had never been very good at driving stick shifts, and using her dumb hand was only making things worse. The sound of her grinding the gears could be heard all over Scotland.
Remembering to shift as well as staying on the correct side of the road had her already exhausted brain on overload by the time she reached the kennel.
And then she saw Duke.
“He’s not a dog,” Cassie told the kennel worker in a strangled voice. “He’s a freaking horse.”
The teenager leading the black and white harlequin Great Dane out of the back room smiled. “Duke is a big lad, but he’s got himself a sweet disposition.”
“A good thing too, considering his size.”
Cassie had never seen a Great Dane up close. She really hoped their reputation for “gentle giant” personas was true. Another catastrophe she couldn’t take today.
“Oh, shit,” she said as she remembered the car.
Somehow the teenager got Duke in the front seat with the window down so the dog could poke his head out.
“Dogs get carsick,” he told Cassie, as if that explained everything.
“I had no idea,” she mumbled, and bent to look how Duke would have put his head had the window not been lowered.
She signed and climbed back into the car to input the address for Dan’s house into the GPS. When she saw it would take her nearly four hours to reach the house, Cassie almost let the tears loose.
Instead, she gripped the wheel and looked at Duke, who regarded her with dark, solemn eyes while he panted. Even with the heater set on full blast, the cold still came in through the window.
“I’m not sure if I’m ready for this,” she said to Duke. “I haven’t slept in thirty-six hours, I’m freezing, and I’m driving a stick. On the wrong side of the road. This is a really shitty day, Duke.”
In answer, he nudged his large head against her shoulder. She smiled and scratched him behind the ear.
Her morale fortified—by a dog—Cassie started the car and headed out on the M90 north toward Perth. For several hours the drive was fine, but then they left the road with shoulders for a narrower one that wound into the mountains.
Duke kept his head out the window and wore what Cassie was sure was a smile while she kept the car in the correct lanes. It was difficult not to look at the magnificent scenery, even in the dead of winter.
With the new year just beginning, Cassie viewed this not as a hiccup in her life, but as a new journey. It was a fresh start, and she intended to grasp it with both hands.
Suddenly there was a loud pop, and the car lurched on the road. Cassie sucked in a startled breath and tried to keep the wheel straight so as not to skid off the road and over the side of the mountain.
She slowed the car to a stop, shut it off, and sat with her eyes closed and her heart pounding like a drum. When she opened her eyes again, a glance showed her that even Duke had been wise and pulled his head back inside.
“It’s okay, boy,” she said, and rubbed his giant head, her hands shaking from the adrenaline dump. “Stay here while I go see what happened.”
Cassie reached to open the door only to find it took her two tries before she could grasp the handle. She climbed out of the car and looked over the side of the mountain to the snow hundreds of yards below.
A walk around the car revealed that one of the tires was flat. She rubbed her hands together and blew on them for warmth. She was already trembling from the cold, and she’d been outside for only a few seconds.
But she had faced far more daunting things in her life than a flat tire, and she wasn’t about to fall apart now. Cassie lifted the back hatch of the Vauxhall Corsa and managed to find the spare tire.
Thank goodness she knew how to change a tire, or it would have been even longer. As it was, everything was taking twice as long because her fingers were so numb.
Just as she was fitting the spare on the car, it began to snow. Cassie gritted her teeth and kept working. An eternity later, the flat was replaced and she was back in the car.
“Sorry, Duke, but I need to feel my hands again.”
Cassie rolled up his window and turned the heater on full blast, with all the vents pointed to her. The car roared to life, and she hesitantly pulled back onto the road.
Dan had warned her about driving in the Highlands during winter. He needn’t have bothered. Since Cassie had never driven in snow she was already apprehensive, and with the steep inclines, descents, and one-lane bridges, she was moving at a snail’s pace.
And by the line of cars behind her, she was apparently the only one who felt the need to go slow.
As soon as Cassie was able, she pulled into a layby, which was Scots for “passing lane,” and allowed the cars to go by. She might not understand the way the British built their roadways, but she was very thankful for the laybys so others could go around her.
Another thing she never counted on was the sun setting so early. It was only four, and the sun was sinking faster than any sunset she’d ever seen. Which meant she was not only driving in snow, in the mountains looking for a place she’d never been, but she would also be doing it in the dark.
“Lost luggage, Dan bailing on me, having to drive this toy car, getting Duke, a flat, and now snow and dark. Please, God, get me to the house in one piece,” she prayed as she narrowed her eyes to see through the snow.
Duke whined softly, as if offering her comfort.
The roads became more winding and the curves tighter the farther north and deeper into the Highlands she drove. Her fingers ached from gripping the wheel so tightly.
Cars zoomed by her while she struggled to read the signs as the snow fell faster and faster. Twice she missed her turns only to have to double back and find them again.
The GPS was taking her farther and farther off what the Scots called main roadways to small two-lane roads with no stripes and what anyone in the States would call one-way roads.
“Shit!” she cried as she swerved to miss an oncoming car.
Cassie had to jerk the passenger-side wheels off the road to miss another car. It jostled Duke so badly, his head hit the roof of the car.
“Sorry, Duke,” she muttered when the dog gave a bark.
She’d never felt so relieved as when she found the driveway to Dan’s house. At least she didn’t have to worry about oncoming cars anymore. As she drove down the long winding drive, she expected to see lights on in the house welcoming her.
But there was only darkness and stillness.
“Dan, where are you?” she asked.
She knew Dan and his wife were having some issues in their marriage, and it was just like Dan to be forgetful about things. But he had never forgotten her before.
“There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.”
Duke’s whine only confirmed her suspicions.
She put the car in park and turned off the engine. Duke pawed at the door, letting her know he needed out.
“Wait,” she said. “Let me unlock the front door first.”
Cassie unbuckled her seat belt and rushed for the door to the cottage. Dan had told her the key was in a black box near the door. What he hadn’t told her was that she’d need a code.
“I’m so going to hurt you, Dan. Badly. Very, very badly.”
By this time, rain was beginning to mix with the snow. Duke’s barking grew louder, and her only choice was to head back to the car and look through everything she had received from Dan to see if he’d given her a code that she somehow missed.
As soon as she opened the car door, Duke jumped out and ran into the darkness.
“Duke!” she called, and tried to go after him.
Her foot hit a piece of ice and slipped out from underneath her. Cassie landed hard on her butt. She sat, the snow and rain seeping into her jeans, immobilized by the pain.
She had no idea how long she stayed there before she crawled back to the car, wincing at the agony of each movement. Her gloveless hands were now so frozen, she couldn’t move them. It took her five attempts before she was able to unzip her purse and pull out her cell phone.
Getting any kind of Internet service was laughable, so she couldn’t look through old e-mails. However, she was able to sift through the texts, but found nothing.
Cassie dialed her brother and listened to the call ring over and over again before finally going to voice mail.
The tears she’d held back all day clogged her throat. She swallowed and laid her head on the steering wheel. She couldn’t get the keys to let herself into the house, she’d lost Duke, and she was most likely going to freeze to death in a toy car that offered no more than a sliver of warmth.
“A fitting day for the beginning of my new life,” she said as the first tear fell down her cheek.
Copyright © 2014 by Donna Grant
Meet the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her "totally addictive" and "unique and sensual" stories. She has written more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance. She lives with her husband, two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas. Visit donnagrant.com.
AudioFile Earphones Award winner Antony Ferguson is a native of London, England. He is a classically trained actor and has appeared in numerous productions in London, Off-Broadway, and regional theater. As a voice actor, he has over fifty audiobooks to his credit. Antony lives in Los Angeles.
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A great series with sexy dragons! Dark Heat is a collection of previously released Novellas of the Dragon Kings plus an exclusive new short story. This is a great way of getting to know the characters and read the stories in the correct order. I’m a huge fan of Donna Grant and I love this series. Ms. Grant's stories are always filled with steamy romance, suspense and action - everything that I love in a story. The dragon kings are men that are half human and half dragon, sworn to protect the human world. After a devastating war between the humans and dragons, the dragon kings were put under a magic spell to protect them from having any human emotions (especially love). But as hundreds of years have passed some of the dragon kings feel the loneliness their isolation has left, so these novellas are their journey to finding their soul mate. I can’t decide which story is my favorite since they were all filled with passion and swoon-worthy scenes. This is a great series for all shifter and paranormal fans. And I also recommend this to anyone looking for something new to read!
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 REVIEW: Dark Heat is a set of novella’s from Donna Grant’s new Dragon King series. Each story follows one of the Dragon Kings and how a simple twist of fate will change everything for these Kings that are older than time. Dark Craving: Characters: Dragon King Haldor Wilson & Cassandra Hunter This was a good story, short and sweet and to the point. Not a whole lot of drama per se. But a great beginning to Donna’s Dragon King series. Night Awakening: Characters: Dragon King Guy & Elena Griffin Another Dragon King falls. :) But in a good way. Guy and Elena’s story is a bit of a whirlwind story starting with a death and end with one of them going under cover. Night Awakening sets up perfectly for the next novella Dawn’s Desire. Dawn’s Desire: Dragon King Brana & Jane Brana & Jane are just too sweet together. How can you not love a story where the Plain Jane girl is the ultimate prize for the very handsome, yet dangerous King of the blues? In Dawn’s Desire we finally get to meet up the the Dragon Kings enemy and get a little insight into the why. Passion’s Claim: This was a bonus story about two Dragon Kings who don’t have any clue on how to woo their women. These to very short stories made me laugh, cry and want to slap some Dragon Kings around. I loved that Donna put all these stories together into one book so that there was no waiting to read the next story. I am very much looking forward to the first full length book in the Dragon King series. Darkest Flame will be out in April 2014. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley & St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
Dark Heat is a compiled version of the first three Dark Kings prequel novellas plus a BONUS STORY that you can ONLY get in this version… So even if you’re read Dark Craving, Night’s Awakening, and Dawn’s Desire separately, you should still buy this book for the awesome bonus story! Hehe… Dark Craving: In this book, things with Cassie started slow but quickly came to light. I loved the raw passion in the characters. Occasionally the story went a bit fast, but not too bad. There were times I felt as if I were right there with Cassie experiencing everything. Amazing story. Looking forward to seeing if Constantine gets his own story as that would be a very strong woman indeed. Night’s Awakening: This book was very fast paced and very well written. The tension raised between Guy and Elena. I enjoyed how in tune to each other the two were from the get go. I am interested to see where the next book takes us! I wish this book was a little longer but loved how even though the novella was short.... there were no details spared. Only deepening my Donnaddiction!! Dawn’s Desire: OK, So after reading intently for time frames that caused me missed sleep and meals (couldn't put it down) Here goes... This book starts off exactly where the last one left off. (Which is a good thing to me because then I don't feel like I missed anything. Jane is a simple plain girl that feels nobody notices her until.... Banan. OK, so some parts of the story are corny as some have mentioned... But I am that girl that went unnoticed and still does, or used to until my hubby ^_^ hehe ... It was nice to find a story about a sexy librarian type plain simple girl that found her Mr. right... The scenes in this book were same as the first two... Very descriptive and enthralling. Donna has a way to where when you are reading these stories, it is not simple titillation. There is passion read and felt. I liked that it wasn't exactly easy as pie to get the girl this time. It wasn't exactly an enormous challenge, but it wasn't a walk in the park. I was a bit sad at the end that... well, you'll see what I wanted that had to be put off... ;) I will continue to re-read this series and impatiently await the 2014 release of the next Dragon King book. Passion’s Claim: With both Guy and Banan wanting to make sure their women are fully ready and understand their choice that is to be made about the binding ceremony and all of the stipulations that come with it, they begin giving their women all the wrong signals. In part one Banan and Jane continue a bit further. It's been a few months since the two met and fell madly in love, yet the pair still haven't been mated. There were a couple of times when I wanted to shake them... both, Banan AND Jane, for one reason or another. Jane not bringing up the mating ceremony she wanted so badly, and thinking Banan lost interest in her... Banan for not asking her hoe she felt about the ceremony. You just want to hand cuff them together and feed them truth serum and say "now talk!" haha. I loved that Banan had the big elaborate thing planned and enjoyed the excitement of the other ladies with the news. In part two, Guy and Elena are at a stalemate as well. Again, I wanted to knock their heads together. I understand the reasons they both had but my gods man! If you want something, go get it! Don't wait around for it to decide... Guy, although he thought he was doing the right thing in this, should have not been such a coward and when his fellow dragon kings tell him this, I was right there with them. I cried in this part and was so upset with Guy that he was being such an arse... This short bonus story will have your emotions all over the place so have kleenex handy and be ready to control your anger and "aww" factor. I give this awesome start to an amazing series 5 out of 5 shields!
Dark Heat: The Dark Kings Stories contains novellas written by Donna Grant all preceding the Dark Kings series. Grant writes steamy, passionate characters with action intense plots. I enjoyed her stories but found that the development of the storylines were rushed. I do realize this is meant more for a teaser of what is to come in the series, whetting your imagination for what might happen next...and you know me, I'm always up for more dragon shifting alpha males with awesome powers and prowess. Kilts, I'm sure they can wear kilts too. I found Dark Heat: The Dark Kings Stories is an enjoyable introduction to Donna Grants work and look forward to more Dragon Kings falling for their mates.
Spoiler alerts ahead... I started reading the dragon king series in the middle, so I went back to read these novellas to start from the beginning. I enjoyed all but passions claim part 2. Filled with hypocritical arguments and a completely immature lack of communication from both parties, it just wasn't pleasurable to read. I don't read romance novels to read about someone's problems in relationship that are the simplest to fix. The other 3 novellas were enjoyable however, and I still plan to read the rest of this series.
I've read all of the stories in this series and all of Ms. Grants other series. I am a big fan. Dark Heat has three of the stories that I already own. I would love to read Passion's Claim. I can't find Passion's Claim. It would be nice if it was separate from like the others.
Would love to read... however, I've ordered 3 times and still getting wrong book... right cover... still Donna Grant just wrong content... will be glad when publishers get digital content right... luckily B&N as courteously refunded me each time...
I was really excited to start reading this book because I have read the first novella that is in this book in the past. I am not usually a fan of dragon paranormal books, but this author has written them in a way that I completely loved! Once I started this book, I really couldn’t put it down. The different characters in this book were all written extremely well in my opinion. It was amazingly easy to follow along with the stories and who was who throughout the whole book. I really do enjoy the fact that this book has such a wide variety of characters that all play very important roles throughout the whole book. My only real complaint about the stories would be how predictable they were. I did enjoy them still even with an idea where they were going, but I just hoped that there would be some big surprise that would happen. Overall, I can’t recommend it enough to people who enjoy paranormal books, especially ones about dragons. Reviewed by Crystal for Crystal’s Many Reviewers *Copy provided for honest review*