Dark Stranger

( 28 )

Overview

New York Times bestselling author Susan Sizemore presents an exciting twist on her popular Primes series: the novel read by the one and only Vampire Book Club! Share the thrills as you discover a hidden world where passions and fear run high, and a vampire General and an Empire princess together find illicit, unquenchable desire....

A twist of fate made Zoe Pappas heir to the Byzant throne. Bound by duty and devotion to keep the Empire safe, Zoe is captured while on a secret ...

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Dark Stranger

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Susan Sizemore presents an exciting twist on her popular Primes series: the novel read by the one and only Vampire Book Club! Share the thrills as you discover a hidden world where passions and fear run high, and a vampire General and an Empire princess together find illicit, unquenchable desire....

A twist of fate made Zoe Pappas heir to the Byzant throne. Bound by duty and devotion to keep the Empire safe, Zoe is captured while on a secret diplomatic mission and sent to an underground prisoner-of-war camp. In this strange, shadowy place, residents are governed by fellow inmate General Matthias "Doc" Raven, whose powerful magnetism rouses an urgent desire in Zoe. But the intensity of her attraction is matched by her surprise at discovering that Doc has a secret of his own: he is a vampire.

Zoe's presence puts everyone in the camp in danger. Doc knows it, and knows too that Zoe's royal status makes it impossible for her to bond with a vampire. The only way to save her is to help her escape, and lose her forever. But some fires are impossible to quench, even when following your heart is the ultimate taboo....

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Sizemore launches the Vampire Book Club series with a far-future paranormal romance supposedly read by characters in her Primes novels (Primal Needs, etc.). Human diplomat Zoe Pappas is negotiating with the alien Asi when the enemy Hajim attack and seize her command ship. Taken to a prison planet where humans uneasily coexist with other species, Zoe finds that the human leader, the physically imposing Brig. Gen. Matthias Raven, refuses to allow any escape attempts. Disguised as a navy lieutenant, Zoe attempts to navigate the prison's unfamiliar system and her attraction to Matthias while hiding her powers and guarding a dangerous secret. When an unexpected threat closes in, they must join forces to save all the prisoners. Though technically a stand-alone, this tale will appeal most to Primes readers tickled by the idea of Sizemore writing her own fanfic. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416562139
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,104,827
  • Product dimensions: 4.14 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Sizemore is the bestselling author of Primal Needs, Primal Desires, and Primal Heat, the most recent novels in her vampire Primes series, and more than twenty other romances. Susan, who lives in the Midwest, loves vampires, basketball, and hearing from readers.

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Read an Excerpt

1

"Not again," Zoe muttered as the ship shook from another direct hit.

This had been going on far longer than usual, and it was getting worse. Though her quarters were deep within the center of the command ship's many hulls, she could still feel the energy blows against their heavy shielding, and how that shielding was fading. The communications stem in her ear let her know that the whole task force was in trouble and on the run. And not only their ships, but Asi ships were also scattering under the Hajim attack.

"Damn!"

She knew her exasperation was inappropriate, as good people were fighting and dying on the ships around her. She honored their sacrifice, but she wasn't supposed to be in battles, and this was the third time in five years.

She'd ended up piloting a fighter during the first battle, and a freighter full of refugees the second time. She was a good pilot, but she functioned best as a diplomat. At least she tried. She left her quarters to make her way to the bridge.

The corridors were almost empty; the well-trained crew were all at their battle stations in response to the general quarters alarm. She was probably the only person not where she was supposed to be, but the need to be useful drove her. She might not be assigned to this ship, but she knew she was the best pilot in the whole Byzant Empire. It had little to do with natural talent and much to do with the enhancement modules that took up almost microscopic space in her brain. She was simply wired better than anyone else on board.

Why did this have to happen just as the talks were beginning to make progress? She smiled grimly at the naïveté of her own question, knowing full well that the attack was likely happening because the negotiations were proceeding. No matter how tight security seemed to be, leaks were always possible.

That the war had gone on for five years told her that she and all the other diplomats were failing at their jobs.

They failed not only the human worlds of Byzant, but the aliens of Kril, Denthera, and Asi. Only the Hajim did not know failure, for they refused to negotiate. They simply fought. Sometimes they forced others to fight for them, if not with them, but they made no true alliances. This war went on and on, the battle lines swinging back and forth across system after system.

Now the Hajim fleet had appeared to break up yet another attempt at negotiation.

The deck shook beneath her with another hit, knocking Zoe to her knees.

As she got to her feet, a side door cycled open. Jazoan, Zoe's bodyguard and the head of security detail, stepped to Zoe's side and steadied her as the strongest shock so far rumbled through the ship, then stepped back quickly.

She could tell by his grim expression that things were not going well at all. "Status?"

"That last explosion was a direct hit to the shuttle bay. The Denthera ambassador was boarding her shuttle at the time."

Zoe shook her head sadly at the loss of the enigmatic alien woman she'd sat across the table from a few hours before. "So now we'll never know if the Denthera betrayed the conference to the Hajim. What about the Asi ambassador?"

"The Asi have vowed not to be taken alive."

Zoe knew all too well what that meant, and she had to fight down nausea.

Jazoan took her by the wrist as the ship shook again. "It's time for you to go."

She wanted to say that she would not abandon the ship as long as her people fought on, but by a new law passed since those other battles the decision at such a time of crisis was not for her to make. Jazoan was head of the security detail.

"Our shuttle was parked next to the Dentherans."

"It's time," was all he said.

Silence stretched tautly between them while he waited. While the decision was his, he wasn't going to force her. Not yet. Zoe longed to do something, but she knew it was too late when the "abandon ship" alarm began to sound.

Jazoan hustled her back to her quarters, where she changed into the blue uniform of a navy lieutenant and made other necessary preparations as quickly as possible. The decks rattled and shook constantly while she was occupied; he stood with his arms crossed, his back braced against the door. Alarms blared, and by the time she was ready, the "abandon ship" warning had changed to a siren that sounded a harsh, doomed-sounding tone in her ears. Finally, she inserted a fresh ID chip into her right wrist.

While the pain of the insertion still stung, Jazoan took her by the elbow and led her into the controlled chaos in the corridor. There were people everywhere now, in navy, marine, and civil service uniforms. The pair of them blended into the crowd heading for the escape pods, and Jazoan guided her quickly to the front of the line. By now, the shaking from enemy fire had turned into the constant fatal shuddering of a ship about to disintegrate. The ship would self-destruct into its component atoms once everyone was off, leaving no evidence of the secret conference for the Hajim. She and Jazoan would be the only ones left with any information at all.

Zoe noted the fear on every face, but people calmly responded to the safety routines that had been drilled into them. It was well known that the Hajim took prisoners, but no one knew where the captives were sent. The important thing right now was to reach an escape pod and get off the dying ship.

To stay alive.

Escape would be better, but Zoe knew that she'd have to wait and watch and be patient until an opportunity presented itself.

Jazoan, with years of experience at dealing with crowds, got them to the pod deck quickly. Then the unexpected happened at the entrance of the vast hangar.

The young officer directing the loading looked at her in surprise, and stammered, "Porphyrgia! What are you doing — "

"Lieutenant Alynn Ryan," she said, accessing information on the young man from the vast database implant in her brain. He was one of hundreds of service people she'd spoken to on a hospital visit a year before. She managed a smile for the brave young man now. "I see your wound has healed well."

His eyes shone. "You remember me? What are you doing here?"

He was flattered and flustered, but there was no time for it. Besides, she could see that Jazoan was not at all pleased at this unexpected turn. He considered anonymity crucial for her security. She didn't like the way he looked at the young officer. She gave a faint shake of her head, hoping this was enough to keep her protector on his leash.

"We have our duties, Alynn," she reminded the lieutenant, and touched him on the hand reassuringly.

"Of course," he answered. "This way."

He led her forward into the hangar bay, with many others crowding behind and then surrounding her. The ship gave the most violent shake yet, and the emergency lights went from yellow to red. Sirens howled, barely audible above a scream of crunching metal.

Zoe made it into an overloaded pod, one of the last on board before the hatch cycled shut. But by the time she was in the escape vehicle, Jazoan was no longer at her side. She hoped that he hadn't turned back to deal with the hapless young man, for her guard could be dauntingly ruthless in the name of the empire.

There was nothing Zoe could do but struggle to a free seat, strap herself in, and hope for rescue as the lifepod was ejected from the dying ship.

"Bad news, Doc," Corporal Arco said as he came up to Matthias in the middle of the wide dirt floor at the bottom of the central shaft. Arco pointed upward, where faint, filtered light flowed down through a haze of dust motes. "They've got another eighty in the processing camp up top."

Dr. Matthias Raven took the news with a fatalistic shrug. He was the highest-ranking Byzant officer in Camp Five, a brigadier general in the Space Marines, which put him in charge of the human POWs. He was also the only medical officer for humans in the prison camp. He had to deal with the prisoners, the Kril who ran the camp, and occasionally, the Hajim who forced the Kril to do their dirty work for them.

This wasn't what he'd signed on for when he joined the marines, but duty took many forms. He'd been in the vast underground dungeon of Camp Five for sixteen months now. At least he wasn't afraid of the dark, like so many others. There was a part of him that just wanted to take his chances and walk out. But — duty...

"I assume you mean eighty humans, Corporal?" he questioned.

Arco nodded. "Word is that the Hajim came across a CC alone out on the Fringe and took most of the crew alive."

Doc eyed Arco suspiciously. "What would a Conquest Class ship be doing that far out? Alone?"

"The crew's reporting it as a simple FUBAR navigational malfunction to their debriefers."

"Bad luck. For all of us," Doc added.

"The Asi and Denthera aren't going to like this," Arco agreed. "We'll outnumber the alien prisoners now. Remember the snorting and snapping from the Asi when they brought in those two new humans a couple of days ago?"

"The rise in population isn't good for anybody," Matthias repeated. "You don't think the rations are going to increase just because we have more people, do you?"

Arco clearly hadn't considered this. Until now, he'd seemed rather pleased that there were more human prisoners being processed into the camp.

"Are you homesick, Corporal Arco? Or just forgetting why we're here?"

Arco gave a bitter laugh. "Come on, Doc — sir. You know I was put into Five with the very first batch of human prisoners. And yeah," he added, "I'm damned homesick."

"Me, too. You did say eighty newbies?" Matthias asked.

"Yes, sir."

Matthias shook his head. "I wonder what sort of fight the CC crew put up before they became prisoners." Some were bound to need medical attention. "I'd better get the infirmary set up for them."

His medical staff consisted of himself, one nurse, a couple of volunteers, and a very old biobot. They didn't have much to work with to keep the human inmates healthy; now they had more people to call on their already-stretched-thin resources.

"Prison commandant will want to see you first, Doc. They'll want you to give your speech, too."

Bureaucracy before compassion. It wasn't necessarily the Kril way, but the Hajim had forced the Kril to work for them, running all of their prison camps. Doc sighed. Before Arco's news, he'd been planning on finding a quiet spot to enjoy a smoke of recently smuggled in arja tobacco, but he'd have to forgo that pleasure until later.

"Go get word to the medical team about the new prisoners. I'll be there as soon as I can."

Copyright © 2009 by Susan Sizemore

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 28 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Prime fans especially with relish Susan Sizemore's refreshing "futuristic" entry in her terrific series.

    Heir to the Byzant Empire, human diplomat wearing the uniform of a naval lieutenant Zoe Pappas negotiates with the Asi. However, the enemy Hajim attacks her space ship and takes her to a prison planet in which human POWs mingle uneasily with other species dangerous to her kind.

    Brigadier General Matthias "Doc" Raven leads the human POWs, demanding loyalty and no escape attempts. Zoe struggles with adjusting to captivity and her attraction to the BG. She conceals from Doc who she is and what her aborted mission was. Someone seems to know who she is and where she is; that person is willing to kill all the prisoners to get at Zoe; only Doc stands in their way.

    This clever fantasy science fiction thriller is actually not part of the prime Primes saga, but a brilliant off shoot as a so-called work of fiction or perhaps a future history as the first tale in the Vampire Book Club read by several Prime characters. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action from the onset, but really takes off when Zoe and Doc meet as prisoners of war. Prime fans especially with relish Susan Sizemore's refreshing "futuristic" entry in her terrific series.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2013

    great book!

    great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    Highly Recommened

    i enjoy reading Susan Sizemore books when start to read her books you just can't put it down you want to find out whats going to happen next

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2010

    One of her best - but "Vampire Book Club"???

    I thought this book was one of Ms. Sizemore's best so far. In fact, I thought the existing series was sort of dying on the vine, but it gets a huge infusion of interest and excitement from the addition of the "far future" concept. Sizemore takes her existing paranormal world and explodes it out into a combination sci-fi paranormal universe. The concept was great and the execution wonderful; she succeeds in building a believeable and fascinating future world based on her existing series. However, I think the "Vampire Book Club" idea is just silly. Why do we need this as a premise for the new series? There's absolutely no reason that I can see except as some sort of gimmicky way of connecting the two series together. It just doesn't work for me at all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    good paranormal

    This is a very well written paranormal story. I look forward to more in this series.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Intrigue, intergalactic travel, adventure and romance

    Dark Stranger (Primes, #8)Summary:
    Dark Stranger: Book One of the Vampire Book Club is set in a future world populated by a variety of intelligent species that originate from and inhabit different planets at a time when interplanetary travel is a reality. Descendants of man from planet Terra co-exist with various "suprahumans" that include werewolves and vampires. There are many other species as well and the different life forms trade, forge alliances and compete with each other. On the one side is the Byzant Empire (the "Empire") which has a royal family that originated from Terra. The most powerful enemy of the Byzant Empire are the Hajim.

    In the course of a diplomatic mission on behalf of the Byzant Empire, Zoe Pappas and her bodyguard are caught in the middle of a surprise attack. Aside from being highly skilled and with expensive and rare technological implants, Zoe Pappas is somehow of great significance. While she is able to escape the attack, Zoe is among the prisoners brought to a Hajim underground outpost.

    Zoe spars with the head of the human delegation, General Raven, but they quickly read each others' strengths and work together. General Raven's main goal is to protect the humans and help them survive captivity. Zoe wants to form alliances with the other captive species and nations and arrange an escape. While they work together to smooth volatile relations with the other captives and deal with Hajim, their mutual attraction spills over. Both Zoe and General Raven hold deep secrets. Will they trust each other and combat the increasing demands of the Hajim?

    Review:
    Dark Stranger: Book One of the Vampire Book Club is my first exposure to Susan Sizemore and her Prime novels. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The world that she created with the peaceful coexistence of the different intergalactic species reminded me of Star Trek in a good way. The Byzant Empire with its commitment to equality and fairness was not too different from the Federation. The main characters of Zoe Pappas and General Raven, the suprahumans (vampires and werewolves), and the romance took this book away from the Star Trek model.

    In Zoe Pappas, Susan Sizemore created a strong, sympathetic and interesting action lead. I was engrossed in the book and very much look forward to the next in the series.

    I highly recommend Dark Stranger to anyone looking for fun escapist fiction with fantasy, science fiction and romance.
    Publisher: Pocket Star (October 27, 2009), 384 pages.
    Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  • Posted November 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bridget's Review

    Zoe has found herself the heir to the throne. She is determined to protect her people and ends up in a POW camp. Her status in the world makes her a threat to the rest of the inmates.

    She meets Doc who runs the camp from the inside. Doc is a vampire and he wants nothing more than to make Zoe his own. Does he care enough to break her out of this prison hell and in turn save her life or will his powerful feelings keep him from letting her go?

    Hot, hot, hot! This is a spicy romance with unforgettable characters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted January 9, 2010

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