In Joyce's second Masters of Time novel (after Dark Seduction), New York heiress Allie Monroe hides her secret life as a Healer, sworn to defend the innocent and fight a plague of demons as a member of the shadowy Center for Demonic Activities. When an ageless Highlands warrior, Black Royce, comes from the past to protect her, Allie's world is thrown into turmoil. Despite mutual attraction, overwhelming guilt over his first wife's death has left Black distant and afraid; when they finally do give in to passion, Black is murdered immediately after. Desperate for a way to change things, Allie goes back in time, to the year 1430, to find Royce, win his cold heart and save him from his fate. Though her world of Healers and Masters is rich and the plot well-handled, Joyce relies too often on the time travel mechanism (and its attendant vagaries) to do her heavy lifting. Still, the supporting characters are excellent, the sex scenes are plentiful (though at times illogical), and the plot thick, making this sophomore series entry a fine entertainment, sure to gratify fans of the bestselling kickoff. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Dark Rival (Masters of Time Series #2)by Brenda Joyce
Highland warriors sworn to protect Innocence throughout the AgesA golden man, he is called Black Roycea battle-hardened soldier of the gods. His vows are his lifeuntil he is sent to New York City to protect a Healer from those who would use her powers for themselves. The moment Royce sees beautiful, feisty Allie Monroe, he knows she will be his… See more details below
Highland warriors sworn to protect Innocence throughout the AgesA golden man, he is called Black Roycea battle-hardened soldier of the gods. His vows are his lifeuntil he is sent to New York City to protect a Healer from those who would use her powers for themselves. The moment Royce sees beautiful, feisty Allie Monroe, he knows she will be his only weaknessand he is right. Destiny is a dangerous thingAllie Monroe is more than an heiress. She is a Healer, willing to do anything to save victims of the evil that lurks in the city at night. But alone, she can do only so muchuntil destiny sends her the darkest Highlander of them all. Then evil strikes and Royce is destroyed before Allie's eyes. Now Allie will do anything to save Royceeven if it means going back in time to a dark, dangerous world. Confronting their enemies could cost not only their lives, but their lovefor all eternity.
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South Hampton, New York-September 4, 2007
She stood naked at the window, aware of her lover's deep, even breathing coming from the bed behind her. The Long Island night was blue-black and star-spangled, the moon full and bright, and she could hear the ocean's rhythmic roar. A sea breeze caused the upholstered shades to knock softly against the windows. As she stood there, clouds gathered. She tensed.
The sky darkened. Shadows crossed the moon's bright face, scarring it. The shutters began banging against the walls, almost frantically.
Allie stared at the moon, watching as it turned black. She strained. And she felt evil intent forming.
Her pulse accelerated. She hurried across the room, about to step into her walk-in closet, when Brian stirred. He murmured, "Hey," his tone drowsy
She smiled and swiftly returned to his side. "I'm starving. Want me to bring you some goodies from the kitchen?" She hated lying to him, but he would not understand.
He was snoring.
She waited a moment, impatience gnawing at her. One of her best friends was a whiz with spells, but Allie didn't have any powers like that. It was unfortunate at times like these, when a sleeping spell would have been great. Reassured that he was deeply asleep, she quickly stepped into a black tank top, black cargo pants, and black Nikes, picking up a black backpack. She didn't bother to open it; it was loaded and ready to go. As deftly as a cat burglar, the sleeping man now forgotten, she slipped out the window and climbed down the trellis, as if she'd done so a thousands times, which she had. Then she ran across the lawn to the driveway where she'd left her Mercedes SL560.
Allie jumped in, but didn't turn the car on. She sat very still, focusing her sixth sense.
A shadow of darkness and death was gathering in the north.
She felt malice; she felt lust.
Allie turned the ignition, adrenaline flooding her. Aware that she couldn't peel out of the driveway, because that would wake up the entire house, she focused on the gathering storm of violence, needing to pinpoint the location. She slowly cruised down the drive, the lust in the night intensifying. Allie felt its heart thudding, thick and strong, hot blood pulsing with evil carnal intent.
She turned onto the two-lane road and hit the gas. Rubber burned and screamed. She was going to save this vic. She drove by instinct, feeling the monster's evil energy. She ran two stop signs. The damned monster had found its prey. She could feel it watching, about to pounce, to take, to kill. She was guessing both the predator and his or her victim were outside of one of the bars or restaurants on Highway 27. It was the weekend, and the nightspots were hopping.
A wave of pleasure began.
Allie cried out, because she could actually feel their sexual pleasure. It quickly began to escalate. Murder was always the outcome of these crimes of pleasure. The car ahead of her was obeying the speed limit and doing forty-five. Allie stomped on the gas and veered dangerously past the car ahead of her-and narrowly by an oncoming truck. The truck driver blared his horn at her.
The pleasure became ecstasy, rapture. It flowed over Allie in waves-both victim and criminal were having orgasmic sex. It didn't turn her on-it couldn't. Her rage knew no bounds. It was going to be too late....
Allie sped into a parking lot adjacent a popular bar and restaurant overlooking the bay. Although the lot was full, she knew exactly where to drive.
In the back, far from the restaurant's entrance, she saw them. A couple was in the throes of sex on the ground. And it wasn't rape....
As she stared, the man turned his head in her direction, sensing her white power.
Allie jammed on the brakes and leapt from the car. As she did, she felt dark power exploding in the night. It was too damned late!
For it was blinding and briefly, her senses were diminished. It was hard to see and she could not feel the victim; all she could feel was the triumph of evil and death.
She stumbled as she reached for her backpack, pulling out a gun with a silencer. Then she turned, bracing herself as she aimed.
The man stood, smiling, blond and beautiful, his features perfect, like a movie star's. In fact, for all she knew, he was a movie star. Dressed like a model in expensive trousers and a beautiful shirt, he hurled his black power at her.
Allie cocooned herself in her white light, but it was a healing light, so it didn't do a lot. Instead she was slammed against the car so hard it felt as if he'd broken her back. She somehow lifted the gun and fired.
She was a good shot, but not after that kind of blow; still, she got him in the shoulder. Bad news was, he had so much power after taking the life from a victim that a shot wasn't going to do much except cause a bit of inhuman bloodshed. He laughed at her and vanished into the stars.
She hoped his shoulder hurt like hell!
Allie reeled, still in pain from the blow. Then she flung the gun into the convertible's backseat and staggered to the prone victim.
Her senses began to work. The night was still and dead-lifeless.
Allie knelt, knowing it was too late. Had the woman still been alive, she would feel a flicker of her life.
The vic lay unmoving on her back, clad in a pretty halter top and skirt, eyes sightless. Allie cried out, because she couldn't be more than fifteen years old. It was not fair.
She was so tired of the malicious murders. For every human being she healed, there were hundreds of victims like this one, their lives stolen by the monsters who stalked the innocent in the night and then used that power to cause even more mayhem and death.
But there was no end in sight. Social commentators kept talking about the breakdown of modern society, how the murder rate was sky high-and ninety percent of all murders now were pleasure crimes. That is, the victims did not struggle. Somehow, they were seduced by complete strangers, and bodily fluids showed numerous orgasms. But the victims all died. As if old and feeble, their hearts simply stopped during intercourse.
But the victims were always young and beautiful and in perfect health. There was no reasonable medical explanation for heart failure.
Of course there wasn't.
Because science could not explain evil and it never would.
The far right wanted the death penalty for these perverts. The far right blamed law enforcement and the state and federal governments for the failure to apprehend these perps and for the rising crime rate. The far left wanted more studies and more research; they wanted better inner-city education, health care, hospitals, dear God, as if the inner cities bred the perps. They did not.
The left and the right and the general public thought the criminals rapists, even though there wasn't rape. They thought the perpetrators were human. But they were wrong.
It was a huge government cover-up. These sexual criminals did not have human DNA and Allie knew it for a fact. Not only did she know it because her mother had taught her to sense, feel and understand evil the moment she was toddling, but Brianna worked in CDA-the Center for Demonic Activities.
CDA was secret, too.
The perps looked human, but they were a race of evil, preying on mankind, sent by Satan himself centuries ago. Crimes of pleasure existed in every century; what was new was the growing numbers of the demonic hordes. Their population was expanding at a terrifying rate. Something was wrong.
And she, Brie, Tabby and Sam couldn't do this alone, nor could the handfuls of healers and slayers around the world. Why, why didn't the good guys have extraordinary powers, too?
There were some in the Center who believed that a race of men existed who did fight the demons with superpowers, some of the agents swearing they had seen these warriors. The stories all varied-they were pagans, they were Christian knights, they were modern soldiers-but one thread ran through every rumor: they could travel through time and they had sworn before God to fight evil. Allie grimaced. If such a race of überheroes existed, why didn't one of these pagan or medieval or modern warriors appear to help her out?
She needed someone to hold the line while she healed victims like this one.
As badly as she wanted to fight, it was hard to do so when a simple energy blow could send her across half of a football field.
Allie felt tears rising. She took the girl's hands and showered her with a healing light. "I'm sorry," she whispered, wanting to soothe her soul before it went to the next world.
And as she looked at the beautiful girl's face, her outrage knew no bounds. She showered her with more light, because she foolishly wanted to bring her back to life.
Of course, she couldn't do so. She could not resurrect the dead. She had begun healing insects and fish as a toddler, with her mother's encouragement. Every year her abilities had become stronger. By the time Elizabeth Monroe had suddenly died, when Allie was ten, she'd been easily healing the flu and the common cold. At fifteen, she could heal broken bones. At sixteen, she could heal an older person with severe pneumonia. At eighteen, she had given a boy run over by a car the use of his legs back. At twenty, she had healed a case of critical skin cancer.
She had to be careful-she had to be anonymous or she'd wind up being studied like a lab rat. Her mother often warned her to keep her powers secret.
There was so much she couldn't do-she couldn't give the blind their sight back, and she couldn't raise the dead. But Allie wanted to try.
She threw all the white power she had into the girl. She sat with her, tears streaking her face, straining to give her more and more white healing light. The girl remained still; her eyes remained sightless. Her heart did not beat. Allie screwed her eyes shut, refusing to quit. If only she could resurrect this girl, and save one of the demon's innocent victims! But it was hard to grasp her power now and bring it forth and send it to the girl. Still, Allie somehow sent another shower of healing power through the girl. It hurt to do so and she moaned. Allie realized she was at her limits; she felt depleted, drained, exhausted, and she knew she had no more power to give.
She hadn't realized she was lying down, on her belly, until she clawed the dirt, seeking her healing power. But it was finally gone...
The ground began to spin.
Allie closed her eyes, dizzy and faint. She heard voices coming from the bar but she was too weak to even tense. They were coming her way and she couldn't move-she was utterly defenseless. She strained her senses-there was no evil. Allie moaned and collapsed.
Her last conscious thought was that she had tried, but she hadn't resurrected the dead.
Allie awoke, feeling heavy and drugged.
She opened her eyes, feeling as if they'd been glued shut, and tested her fingers and toes, her hands and feet, relieved that, although weak, everything was in working order. She'd been asleep, but not in her own bed, and she felt nauseous, too. She started, suddenly realizing that she was in a hospital room, hooked up to various monitors and an IV. What the hell?
And instantly, she remembered trying to bring the dead girl back to life and finally passing out. Someone must have found her and called 911.
She sat up. She was seriously exhausted from the effort she'd made, but not so much that she couldn't get up and leave. She grimaced, imagining the questions she'd be asked when she summoned a nurse. Questions were to be avoided.
Allie tore the tape off the IV and was removing the needle as gently as possible when she felt warmth filling the room. She tensed, recognizing the white power, and looked up.
Her mother appeared by her bedside. Allie gasped in shock. Although her mother had died fifteen years ago, Allie had never forgotten her. Her legacy-and her compassion- had been far too great. There was no question that her mother had come to visit her from the dead, for the first time. She was as fair and blond as Allie was dark, with an oddly ageless appearance. Now she smiled at her, but her eyes shimmered with urgency.
It is time now, darling. Embrace your destiny. Stunned, Allie reached out-but her mother was already fading. "Don't go!" she cried, sliding from the bed to stand.
But her mother kept fading, becoming a vague shadow. Golden.
Her mother was speaking again! Allie could hear her, but her voice was weaker, nearly inaudible, as she drifted away.
But of course she was fading-it would be almost impossible for her to come back to this realm after being dead for so many years. "Mom! Don't go! What is it?" She was shocked, thrilled, but she was also alarmed. If her mother was trying to communicate with her from the dead, after so many years of absence, something had to be terribly wrong.
Her mother's image was gone, and she was alone in the small, curtained cubicle. "Who do you want me to trust? I trust you!" she cried.
The golden Master.
Allie stiffened, confused and doubtful she had heard correctly-until a stunningly clear image formed in her mind.
One of the most gorgeous and masculine men she had ever seen took over her mind. Allie saw a bronzed hunk with disheveled, dark gold, sun-streaked hair-and he was stark naked. Her interest escalated. He was a mass of bulging muscles, interesting slabs and amazingly defined planes. The man was built like the mythological Hercules-and he was packed. He was drop-dead gorgeous, with nearly perfect but oh-so-masculine features set in a very strong face. His expression was terse and hard, with stunning silver eyes that were piercing.
His body belonged on a knight from another time. In fact, she could envision him with a sword in hand. At the same time, he looked ready to rock and roll.
She swallowed, terribly breathless.
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