The Devil's Playground [NOOK Book]

Overview

Morgan Kingsley, a kick-ass exorcist, can deal with Lugh, the supersexy demon living inside her, but does he have to moan softly during her intimate moments with her mortal lover? Understandably, Brian is reluctant to share the pleasures of Morgan’s flesh with a gorgeous rogue from the Demon Realm.

But personal matters will have to wait when the opportunistic owner of the Seven Deadlies demon club in Philadelphia enlists Morgan’s help in ...
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The Devil's Playground

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Overview

Morgan Kingsley, a kick-ass exorcist, can deal with Lugh, the supersexy demon living inside her, but does he have to moan softly during her intimate moments with her mortal lover? Understandably, Brian is reluctant to share the pleasures of Morgan’s flesh with a gorgeous rogue from the Demon Realm.

But personal matters will have to wait when the opportunistic owner of the Seven Deadlies demon club in Philadelphia enlists Morgan’s help in heading off a crisis: It seems that demons have started showing up at the hot spot in alarming numbers and in the unwilling bodies of rough trade club-goers. Morgan is sure that Dougal, Lugh’s sworn enemy, is behind this, but why? To find out, Morgan must summon every ounce of power at her command—or risk becoming just another casualty in an all-out demon war.


From the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440339212
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/23/2010
  • Series: Morgan Kingsley Series , #5
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 151,699
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Jenna Black
Jenna Black is a typical writer, which means she’s an “experience junkie.” She received B.A. degrees in physical anthropology and French from Duke University. She once dreamed of being the next Jane Goodall, until she realized that primates spend 80 percent of their time not really doing anything. She moved on to such pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation before creating the Morgan Kingsley series: The Devil Inside, The Devil You Know, The Devil’s Due, Speak of the Devil, and now The Devil’s Playground. Jenna Black lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina.


From the Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


No one would have called my life normal even before I became the human host of Lugh, the demon king, who was embroiled in a mostly covert war for the throne. So the fact that I was beginning to think of my life as “normal” now could have been a cause for alarm. But hey, it had been more than two months since anyone had tried to kill me, torture me, or frame me for murder. These days, that was about as normal as it got.

The truth is, my life had settled into something that resembled a routine, and I was beginning to get pretty comfortable with it. Since I was no longer under suspension by the U.S. Exorcism Board, I spent time at my office almost every day. I performed an exorcism maybe once or twice a month, and there was enough paperwork and general office management to keep me busy for a couple hours a day. Not exactly a nine-to-five, but routine enough to lull me into something like complacency. Before I’d become Lugh’s host, I’d routinely done one or two exorcisms a week, but that required me to travel all around the country—something I couldn’t afford to do anymore. Lugh and all the members of his royal council on the Mortal Plain agreed—possibly a first—that it would be “unwise” for me to venture too far from home when a crisis could pop up at the drop of a hat.

After the disastrous exorcism of Jordan Maguire Jr., which had almost cost me my career and my freedom, I’d been on a lucky streak, with more hosts than usual coming out of the exorcisms with their minds intact. My lucky streak had just ended, however. I’d had an early morning exorcism—a teenaged boy with a face only a mother could love. When I’d cast out the demon who’d possessed him, he’d been catatonic. There was no way of knowing if he would ever snap out of it. I could still hear the mother’s heartbroken sobs when the authorities gave her the news.

Naturally, I was a bit depressed afterward. I went to my office and tried to bury myself in paperwork, but I wasn’t exactly being productive. So when someone knocked on my office door, I was glad for the interruption. Until said interruption opened the door at my invitation.

I hadn’t seen Shae, owner of The Seven Deadlies— a demon sex club that made my stomach curdle just thinking about it—in over two months, and that was just fine by me. I’d have been happy never to see her again in my entire life. She was a mercenary and a predator. She was also an illegal demon—one who’d taken an unwilling human host—and a snitch for Special Forces, the Philly police department’s demon-crime unit. I’d have loved nothing more than to exorcize her ass, but her status as a police snitch protected her.

I’m not what you’d call a conservative dresser—I love low-rise jeans and low-cut tops—but I could never compete with Shae for sheer flamboyance. If her tight white pants dipped any lower, she’d need a bikini wax to wear them, and her sheer red lace top made no attempt to hide the black bra she wore beneath. On most people, that outfit would have looked silly at best, and slutty at worst. On Shae, it reminded me of the plumage on a tropical bird, showy and exotic.

My first impulse was to tell her to get the hell out of my office, but I was getting better at this whole impulse-control thing. There was no way Shae was here on a social call, and I probably needed to hear what she had to say, whether I wanted to or not. I flashed her my best imitation of a welcoming smile.

“Well, this ought to be interesting,” I said. “Have a seat.” I gestured toward one of the chairs in front of my desk, then frowned theatrically. “If you’re capable of sitting down in those pants, that is. I wouldn’t want you mooning passersby.” Never mind that Shae and I were alone in my office with the door closed.

Shae’s smile always reminded me of a shark. Or the Big Bad Wolf. I don’t think her teeth are really any sharper than a normal person’s, but they always looked it. Plus, they were movie-star white against her Heart of Africa skin. She made a big production out of sitting gingerly on the edge of the chair and craning her neck for any signs of visible butt cheek.

I rolled my eyes and refrained from comment. “So, what brings you to my neck of the woods?”

Shae’s smile turned sly and calculating. “I have some information you might be interested in hearing.”

“Okay, lay it on me.” But I knew it wouldn’t be that simple. Shae did nothing out of the goodness of her heart. If she was offering information, then it would be for a price.

“What’s it worth to you?” she asked, right on cue.

I laughed. “How should I know? You haven’t told me what ‘it’ is yet.”

She pursed her lips, and a hint of annoyance flared in her eyes. “I’m doing you a favor by coming to you. I can just as easily walk right back out that door.”

If she thought I’d find that option unappealing, she was very much mistaken. “You don’t get to call it a favor when you’re offering it for a price.”

“Fine.” She stood up and made to leave. I let her get as far as the door before I caved.

“All right, I’ll quit being a smart-ass,” I said. “Come and sit down.”

She didn’t leave, but she didn’t come sit down, either. Instead, she just stared at me, her head cocked to one side. It was hard not to squirm under that intense regard. I’m not at my best when I’m uncomfortable, so I did what I usually do at such times—I lashed out.

“I wonder what Raphael would do if I told him you were trying to sell me information,” I mused, and was gratified to see a momentary break in Shae’s composure.

Raphael, Lugh’s youngest brother and member of the royal council, had a reputation for cruelty that was, as far as I could tell, unparalleled. The fact that I knew he deserved it didn’t make our alliance an easy one. But he was one hell of a bogeyman to threaten Shae with. She was the only person outside the royal council who knew who was hosting Raphael on the Mortal Plain, and she was scared enough of him to keep the secret.

Unfortunately, Shae regained her legendary composure almost before I had a chance to see the flash of terror in her eyes. Her spine straightened, and she bared her teeth in something that bore little resemblance to a smile.

“I know more about the demons of this city—both legal and illegal—than anyone. I can be a valuable asset. But if you sic Raphael on me, I swear to you I will never volunteer another scrap of information again, no matter how important it might be.”

I pondered that for a moment, but she continued before I came to any conclusions.

“Raphael can’t intimidate information out of me if he doesn’t know I have it. I’m much more useful to you in the long run as a willing business partner.”

Her logic was impeccable, though I didn’t like it. Sure, Raphael could probably “coax” her into spitting out whatever it was she had now, but I knew her threat wasn’t an empty one. I might not much want her as a friend, but I wanted her as an enemy even less.

“Okay, fine. I’ll leave Raphael out of this. But until you give me some hint what it is you have, I can’t even begin to figure out what it’s worth to me.”

The last time I’d had to negotiate with Shae, we’d determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that I didn’t have the kind of money I’d need to pay for her . . . services. Hell, I barely had any money at all! My insurance company had finally come through with the money they owed me after my house burned down, but since I wasn’t exactly raking in the bucks with my one to two exorcisms a month, I knew I’d have to make that money last. Though I yearned for my quaint little cottage in the suburbs, I couldn’t afford to rebuild it and was still living in a cookie-cutter apartment in Center City.

“What if I told you my information pertained to Dougal’s ambition to take the demon throne?”

I really hated the fact that Shae knew I had any involvement in Lugh’s struggle with Dougal, but since information was her currency of choice when cash wasn’t available, and since I’d been forced to negotiate with her before, she knew far more than I was comfortable with. I suspect that the moment those words left her lips, my face froze in some kind of ridiculously transparent expression of interest mingled with alarm. I’m finally starting to accept the reality that I will never have what you’d call a poker face.

“Okay, you’ve got my full attention,” I told Shae, since she could see that already.

“Glad to hear it. Now let’s talk payment.”

I’m a sucky negotiator, and I wasn’t in the mood to spar with Shae. “Why don’t you just tell me what you want?”

Shae blinked, like the idea that I might not want to spend half an hour playing cat and mouse came as a complete surprise to her. Maybe those tight pants were giving her the wedgie from hell, or maybe my bluntness genuinely made her uncomfortable, but I swear Shae actually squirmed.

Then she rallied her mental troops and tossed out what she had to know would be an impossibly outrageous demand. “I want to know exactly what your involvement is with Lugh and his . . . family troubles.”

I snorted. “Not going to happen. Nice doing business with you. Bye-bye.” I crossed my arms over my chest and waited for her next offer.

Shae clucked her tongue. “Perhaps you don’t understand how this game is played. I make an offer, then you make a counteroffer, and we go back and forth until we find a mutually agreeable middle ground.”

“Do I look like someone who plays by the rules?” I asked with an arched eyebrow. Sitting there in my office wearing jeans and a crop-top, with a total of seven earrings in my ears and a tattoo on my lower back that would be on prominent display if I stood up, I looked about as far removed from your typical, businesslike exorcist as it was possible to look. Not that there’s any kind of official dress code for exorcists; it’s just that most of them tend to dress somberly, in respect for the gravity of their jobs. Don’t get me wrong: I take my job as seriously as anyone. I just don’t feel that I have to dress like a business-school clone to show it.

Apparently refusal to negotiate was a pretty good negotiation tactic, at least for me. Shae was tapping one bloodred fingernail against the arm of her chair, the gesture no doubt an unconscious one, as she regarded me through narrowed eyes.

“You hang out with Adam, one of Lugh’s chief lieutenants, and with Raphael, one of his brothers. And yet you’re a human exorcist.” I think despite her usual mercenary sangfroid, Shae was actually dying of curiosity, above and beyond whatever advantage she could take out of figuring out my relationship with Lugh. “Your involvement makes no sense. Explain to me exactly what your role is, and I’ll tell you what I know.”

Since my role was as host to the demon king, and since Dougal would burn me at the stake—thus killing his brother so the throne could pass to him—if he found out, this wasn’t information I could divulge. I shook my head.

“I could have sworn I’d already said no to that,” I said with a false smile. “I hear the third time’s the charm.”

Shae stopped tapping her nail, and I think that signaled an end to her uncertainty. “I have information that is important to anyone who supports Lugh and some of his more radical plans for change. I don’t plan to share that information with you unless you tell me what your involvement is with Lugh. That’s my price. Take it or leave it.”

So much for the give-and-take of negotiations. I gritted my teeth as I leaned back in my chair and wondered what to do. On the one hand, the bait Shae was dangling in front of my nose was pretty tempting. On the other hand, the price she was demanding was pretty steep. Too steep. Shae already knew that Tommy Brewster was Raphael’s host, which, considering Raphael had betrayed Dougal and was on his hit list, was a terrible risk. Raphael was confident his fearsome reputation would keep Shae from telling anyone who was hosting him, but I couldn’t see taking the same risk with Lugh.

Any ideas, Lugh?

Once upon a time, I’d only been able to communicate with Lugh through dreams, but the barriers between my mind and his were considerably thinner now than they had once been, and I could converse with him silently while I was awake.

You can tell her the truth without telling her the whole truth, he suggested. It’s common knowledge amongst Dougal’s henchmen that you were once my host, but it’ll be news to Shae.

That was true. For a while, Raphael had been something of a double agent, pretending to support Dougal in his attempted coup while remaining loyal to Lugh. During that time, he’d fed Dougal the story that I had been coerced into summoning Lugh, but that Lugh had taken a new host in an attempt to escape the assassins Dougal had sent after him.

I’m a really shitty liar, but I hoped Shae would attribute any awkwardness in my delivery to my discomfort over revealing delicate information. Bracing myself as if for battle, I sat up straight and looked Shae in the eye.

“I was Lugh’s host when he first came to the Mortal Plain.”

Shae’s eyes dilated with an almost sexual excitement at that news. “Well, well,” she said, licking her lips, “that explains a lot. Fascinating.”

From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 81 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(31)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 24, 2010

    Great Read

    This was a fantastic ending to the series. There was resolution and drama, intrigue. Morgan feeling the effects without her resident demon in her body is a nice way to show her how much he means to her. The relationships she has gained since this all started show very well. That everyone is a part of her new crazy life she leads. The only torn i got is that it is the end. And i just wanted a bit more. Like there is more to tell in the future. But its a must read if you have already gone thru the first couple of books. You'll love it as much as I did couldn't put it down till I finished.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I wish there was more!

    I wish there was more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Mediocre

    This book was ok not really blown away by the ending. Morgan has personal hang ups like anybody else so why did ms. Black try to make more out of really nothing important, sorry i have heard worse. And why was she so emotional all the time pms much. Also why were all descriptions of brutality so vague when talking about demons but bdsm description of beating someone for the soul purpose of getting off sexual were described to the T. People write about bdsm quite abit these days, i guess i am a prude but whippings and sex don t mix, but give me a good bloody gorey mystery i am hooked. Demons and gore go hand and hand. Stacia kane is way better writer of adult paranormal novels.

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  • Posted July 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Paperback/Epub/urban fantasy: Book 5, and the final book, of the

    Paperback/Epub/urban fantasy: Book 5, and the final book, of the Morgan Kelsey series. While the book lacked a true plot, it was pretty good. There was too much Brian and not enough Adam. I did expect more of a resolution in the end and there was no consequence to Adam's "big reveal" to humans. I like Morgan's character a lot. While she is tough, her character has grown through the five books. I glad Jenna Black ended the series before I had the urge to throw the book against the wall, like so many other series.

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  • Posted November 13, 2011

    Loved It

    I am excited for more but this book looks like it could end here.

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  • Posted April 28, 2010

    A Must!!

    This series is amazing and The Devils Playground is no exception. Jenna Black has created this complex world that totally sucks you into the mayhem of the story. With such descriptive writing it's easy to visualize all of the characters and all the craziness is happening around them. This is a definite MUST READ! Can't wait for the next one!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2010

    Loved It!

    Jenna Black does it again. Since I purchased that first book to this series, I still can't put them down. As soon as I start, I continue to be glued to the pages w/ anticapation of what is going to happen next. Morgan's sense of humor keeps me laughing to myself, so that my family thinks that I am nuts when reading her books. Her strange relationship w/ Adam is always a page turner. I'm waiting w/ much excitement for the next book to see what lies in store for Morgan & Lugh.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Really a 4.25 Rating

    I strongly recommend you read the previous books in this series (Devil Inside, The Devil You Know, The Devil's Due and Speak of the Devil) prior to reading this book.

    The basis for my review is pure entertainment factor alone. At last the Morgan Kingsley's journey has come to an end. IMO this was the best of book in the series. Morgan had such a huge transformation in this installment. She's gone from pig headed and irritating to only marginally annoying. I'm really going to miss Lou, he was a class act unlike Brian who was just as annoying as Morgan. I've always loved the creativity and originality of this series and overall, I am very pleased that the series ended on a high-note, instead of going on forever. If Jenna black were to release more Morgan Kingsley books in the future, I would definitely read them.

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Trust is the key to the latest superb Kingsley urban fantasy

    Exorcist Morgan Kingsley knows not to be complacent as no one has tried to killer in several months. However, because no one has made an attempt does not mean she should ignore her paranoia. Besides her boyfriend, Brian has issues with her sharing her human body with demon king Lugh.

    Meanwhile Lugh ironically may be inside an exorcist, but has not sat back idly. Instead on the Mortal Plain, Lugh has established a royal council. They have evidence that Lugh's traitorous brother Dougal has set in motion in Philadelphia at the Seven Deadlies demonic nightclub the openings salvo of another fratricide assassination attempt in order to take over as the ruler of all demons. Lugh knows he has no choice but to kill his brother or be killed while his hostess body jumps head first into the fray.

    Trust is the key to the latest superb Kingsley urban fantasy as the heroine distrusts everyone except to e a degree Brian and she has no choice with Lugh. The monarch has to rely on the obstinate Morgan to do the right thing for both of them. With betrayal everywhere, Kingsley and Lugh know no one has their back to the delight of fans of this excellent saga as the overarching devilish theme moves forward (except when the heroine pukes in a toilet due to control shifts) to the anticipated war of the brothers.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted July 13, 2010

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    Posted May 27, 2010

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    Posted November 22, 2011

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    Posted January 31, 2010

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    Posted August 12, 2010

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    Posted April 29, 2011

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    Posted July 2, 2010

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    Posted June 9, 2010

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    Posted May 18, 2011

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