Etched in Bone (Maker's Song Series #4) [NOOK Book]




More beautiful and powerful than any creature the world has ever seen, Dante Baptiste has become the supreme target of the three worlds that spawned him. The mortal agents of the Shadow Branch have tried to control his ...
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Etched in Bone (Maker's Song Series #4)

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More beautiful and powerful than any creature the world has ever seen, Dante Baptiste has become the supreme target of the three worlds that spawned him. The mortal agents of the Shadow Branch have tried to control his mind through psychological torture. The vampire elders who guide nightkind society have plotted to use him in their bloodthirsty bid for power. And the Fallen have waited for millennia for Dante to claim his birthright as their Maker. But Dante belongs to no one—except the woman he loves. . . .


Determined to face the Fallen and the world on his own terms, Dante hopes to piece together his shattered past and claim his future, with FBI agent Heather Wallace at his side. But in Heather’s human family awaits an unexpected enemy. One who could rip Heather from Dante’s heart and fill the holes with bullets. One who could force Dante to choose his darkest destiny—as the Great Destroyer. . . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439198681
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Series: Maker's Song Series , #4
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 150,019
  • File size: 10 MB

Meet the Author

Adrian Phoenix lives in Oregon with three cats and travels to New Orleans whenever possible.
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Read an Excerpt


March 30


Just two simple words spoken into air fragrant with the homey scents of toast and cantaloupe, yet they fractured the club’s late-morning peace and iced Heather Wallace’s spine.

Never expected to see him in New Orleans, let alone Club Hell. Did he come on his own or did the Bureau send him?

Heather finished rinsing her plate in the sink behind the bar, turned off the water, then, pulse pounding, swiveled around to face her father. The weight of the Colt snugged into the back of her jeans did little to comfort her.

Special Agent James William Wallace stood in the entrance beneath the neon BURN sign, red light winking from the lenses of his glasses and gliding along the shoulders of his tan trench coat. Shadows cast by the dim overheads hollowed his cheeks, making him look older than his fifty-seven years.

The last time Heather had seen her father had been at the FBI field office in Seattle, where he’d tried to convince her to abandon the truth and sell her soul to the Bureau, and where Heather had also learned that the lying bastard had used Annie to spy on her, promising his long-ignored bipolar daughter that they’d be a family once more.

Of course, Annie hadn’t known he’d sell Heather’s secrets. Or that he’d lied.

But Alexander Lyons had known, and had shared the information with Heather before he’d held her at gunpoint, before he’d triggered Dante’s programming, before Dante had remade him into something . . . else.

Your dad contacted a member of the Shadow Branch and told this person that Dante Baptiste saved your life without using his blood. So the SB decided to bring you in for tests to determine what he did to you and how.

“Whose dirty business are you doing today?” Heather asked, wiping her hands dry against her jeans. “The Bureau’s or your own?”

“The traditional greeting is still ‘Hello, good to see you,’ I believe,” James Wallace replied. A sardonic smile slanted his lips. His gaze slid past Heather. “I admit, I’m disappointed in you, Annie,” he said.

The cold icing Heather’s spine deepened. She turned her head to look at her sister. Wearing a fuzzy purple bathrobe, her blue-black-purple-colored tresses bed-mussed and pointing in all directions, Annie sat perched on a stool at the polished counter, her blue eyes wide with shock. She lowered her cream cheese–slathered bagel from her mouth. “How the fuck did you get in?” she asked.

“Well, given that you didn’t leave the door unlocked like I asked, I had to find my own solution,” James Wallace chided, his tone a wagging naughty-naughty finger.

Heather stiffened. “You called him?”

Mingled guilt and defiance flashed across Annie’s face. “I didn’t think it’d be a big deal. Fuck.” She looked down at her bagel, then pushed the plate away. She seemed to find the bar’s surface suddenly fascinating.

“Jesus Christ! He asked you to unlock the door and you didn’t tell me?” Heather stared at her sister, her pulse pounding at her temples. “Didn’t tell any of us? What the hell were you thinking?” She slapped both palms down on the counter in front of Annie’s shoved-away plate. The abrupt, harsh sound echoed throughout the club. “Look at me, dammit!”

Annie lifted her gaze. Defiance had won the war over guilt in her blue eyes. “But I didn’t unlock the door,” she protested, “so I thought that ended it. I only called him to let him know we were okay. In case he was worried or something.”

Dammit, Annie. Shit.” Anger Heather didn’t have time for—not now, but later, oh, hell yes, we’re going to have it out—burned a hole in her gut. She blew out a frustrated breath, then looked at their father. “Trust me, he wasn’t worried,” she said, voice grim.

James Wallace shoved his hands into the pockets of his trench. “That’s where you’re wrong,” he replied. “I’ve been worried since the moment I learned you’d disappeared. And before that—from the moment I realized you’ve been protecting a vampire. Lying for him. Covering up for him.”

“That’s pretty damned funny coming from a pathological liar,” Heather said.

“That’s not you talking, Pumpkin.”

“I’m pretty damned sure it is.”

“No. It’s not. It’s that bloodsucker, not you. And I plan to free you from Dante Prejean and his influence. Help you redeem yourself.”

“His name isn’t Prejean, it’s Baptiste. And you’re wasting your time,” Heather said, her voice tight, knife-edged. “I don’t need or want your so-called freedom or your goddamned redemption.”

“You don’t get it—of course you don’t,” her father said, stepping down from the entrance’s mouth and into the club proper. “That bloodsucker has messed with your mind and your loyalties. You no longer know what you want. You’re no longer in control of your own life. You’ve even destroyed your career because of him.”

“You’re so far from the truth, I don’t even know where to begin,” Heather said. “But I’m not going to bother, because you’ll never understand that every action I’ve taken has been my choice. So . . .” She reached back for her Colt and locked her fingers around the grip. “You need to leave. I have things to do.”

It was nearly noon, and Heather kept expecting to hear the thump of the streetside doors as Jack or Eli or Emmett Thibodaux arrived to add more warm bodies to their daytime security detail.

C’mon, guys. Now would be good. Before things escalate.

She’d be even happier if Lucien De Noir were present, but he’d gone to the fire-bombed plantation house to meet with the insurance adjuster. But some things could never be compensated for—not even in blood. When Guy Mauvais had orchestrated the house’s destruction, his henchmen burning it to a smoldering pile of rubble and ashes, Dante hadn’t just lost the home he’d shared with Von, De Noir, and the others, he’d also lost Simone, his chÈre amie, in the gasoline-fueled blaze.

“You’re right,” James Wallace said, voice strained, “I don’t believe any action you’ve taken since meeting Prejean has been your own. You’re lying to yourself, Pumpkin. You’ve chosen nothing.” He walked across the wood floor, headed for the bar. The clean scent of his Brut aftershave preceded him. “That’s just what Prejean or Baptiste or whatever name the bloodsucking bastard goes by wants you to think. But I’m going to put an end to that.”

“No, you’re not.” Heather slipped the Colt free and swung it around in a two-handed hold, leveling the muzzle with her father’s chest. Her aim was steady despite the hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach. “Hold it right there. Not another step.”

“Heather,” Annie breathed.

James Wallace halted and lifted his hands into the air, palms out. One eyebrow quirked up. “Is this necessary?” he asked.

“Sadly, yeah,” Heather replied. He might be her father, but he was also the man who’d sold her out to the SB.

“We’re blood, Heather. Family,” her father said, his words calm and matter-of-fact. “Human. That should count more than a roll in the sack with an inhuman, bloodsucking scumbag. He’s not human, and never will be.”

“Right now, that’s a point in his favor,” Heather replied. “And you’re wrong about what he is.”

Von’s words, spoken a lifetime ago, were etched into her mind: He is the never-ending Road.

And that never-ending Road Slept upstairs in the bed he and Heather shared, his hair a silky night-black spill across the pillow, with Eerie nestled beside him on the red velvet comforter in a fluffy orange kitty-ball.

Silver and Von Slept as well. All three nightkind lost to the narcotic embrace of Sleep. All vulnerable. And all beyond her ability to awaken.

Heather flicked the Colt’s safety off, her heart drumming against her ribs.

“You can’t shoot Dad,” Annie said in an incredulous near-whisper.

“His choice,” Heather said. “If he turns around and leaves, then I won’t have to.”

Resolve tightened her father’s jaw, deepened the lines bracketing his mouth. He touched a finger to the base of his ear. “I can’t leave without what I came for,” he said.

Com set. Lying bastard isn’t alone. The sound of heavy boots against wood echoed from the entrance hall. Tac team.

“Annie, get your ass upstairs,” Heather snapped. She kept her gaze locked on their father. Sweat trickled between her breasts. “You’re not taking Dante,” she told him.

“It’s not Dante I want,” James Wallace replied as black uniformed and masked figures armed with assault rifles dashed into the club, red neon from the BURN sign flickering over them as they passed beneath it and spread out. “I’ve come for you, Pumpkin.”

Heather stared at her father, her pulse pounding. “Don’t you know what they’ll do to me?”

Genuine pain flickered across James Wallace’s face. “Whatever’s necessary to save you,” he said, his voice husky.

Heather shook her head. Not according to the headline provided to the press by FBI ADIC Monica Rutgers: TRAGIC MENTAL ILLNESS CLAIMS FBI STAR PROFILER HEATHER WALLACE. Not unless “whatever’s necessary” meant involuntary commitment to a mental institution, followed by a convenient and tragic suicide.

“Trust me, neither the Bureau nor the Shadow Branch are interested in saving me,” Heather said. Adrenaline poured through her veins, made her aware of each breath she drew, aware of the position of each agent in the room. She was surrounded and outnumbered.

What would happen to Dante and the others once she’d been taken down?

She didn’t know if she could awaken Dante from Sleep through their bond, but she had to try. Tightening her grip on the Colt, she closed her eyes and funneled her adrenaline-fueled awareness into her link with Dante.

His scent of burning leaves and November frost permeated her, perfumed her senses, then she felt the razor edge of his nightmares scrape against her mind. Heard the drone of wasps. Her breath caught in her throat.

He’d been Sleeping easy—for a change—his beautiful, pale face relaxed, when she’d reluctantly slipped free of his heated embrace and risen from their bed. Before leaving the room, she’d placed a lingering Sleep-well kiss on his lips.

Dual pangs of apprehension and sorrow pierced Heather as she realized her wish hadn’t come true; once again, the past raged through Dante’s mind like a monster hurricane, a tidal surge of dark and dangerous debris running ahead of it, scouring away his hard-won quiet, his scraps of peace.

What Von had told her in their motel room in Damascus coiled through her memory.

You’re Dante’s life-line, doll. I’m sorry you had no say in getting bonded to him, but you quiet the storm inside a him. And that’s a damned good thing.

It looked like her father was intent on severing that life-line.

An echo of pain—Dante’s pain—bled in through their bond and whispered against Heather’s thoughts as she tried to wriggle her way past his shields and into the wasp-droning darkness he did his best to keep locked away from her.

DANGER! WAKE UP! she sent, banging mental fists against his shields. BAPTISTE! WAKE—

Something stung Heather’s left shoulder, hitting with all the force of a knuckled punch, shattering her concentration. Her eyes flew open. A dart protruded from the front of her snug cornflower-blue sweater. Cold oozed down her arm and into her chest. She looked at her father as he lowered the trank gun. She tasted the drugs, bitter and icy, at the back of her throat.

“Dad! What the fuck?” Annie cried. Leaning across the counter, she plucked the dart from Heather’s shoulder.

“Get out of here, Annie,” Heather said, her words already slurring. The room took a slow carousel spin around her. Her stomach lurched. “Find Jack . . .”

“You’re not going anywhere, Annie,” James Wallace said. “Stevenson, hold her, please.”

“Fuck you, you lying, motherfucking sonuvabitch!” Annie yelled.

A stool clattered to the floor. A wordless shriek of fury followed as someone—the unlucky Stevenson—grabbed Annie and attempted to hold on to her. Heather didn’t look, keeping her attention focused on James William Wallace instead. She blinked as his trench-coated figure blurred, then tripled.

“Heather, listen to me,” her father said, his voice low but firm. “Put your gun down before you—”

Heather squeezed the trigger. The Colt’s retort cracked through the air like thick ice breaking apart on a lake, the sound rippling from one end of the club to the other. James Wallace, all three blurred copies of him, dove to the floor.

“Christ!” her father cried.

Heather concentrated on keeping the Colt upright and in both hands, concentrated on steadying her aim. But she found herself going up, then down, as if riding one of the spinning carousel’s horses. A loud clunk drew her gaze to the floor. Her Colt rested on the hardwood, its muzzle pointing at a plastic bucket full of bar rags.

The room whirled, a runaway carousel, and Heather stumbled, then fell. Stars supernovaed in blue and green through her vision as her head bounced against the floor. She heard Annie scream her name. She stretched her fingers toward the Colt, darkness nibbling at the edges of her vision.

Baptiste . . . Dante . . . wake . . . But Heather’s desperate thought bounced back from a wall of drug-charged static, unreceived.

The carousel spun her into a starless night.

© 2011 Adrian Phoenix

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 54 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    SOOOO FREAKING GOOD!!!! What a ride!

    WOW... I did not see that coming at all. None of it! I'm speechless!!!

    This book is so good that I don't think I can wait a year for the next book. A whole year whithout knowing what happens next is complete torture. That cliffhanger at the end is killing me.

    My hat is off to Ms. Phoenix. Any author who can take me on a roller coaster ride like the Maker's Song series did deserves my support and upmost respect.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    One Hot Read

    hree days after Beneath the Skin, Etched in Bone returns us to the world of Dante and Heather in one smashing fourth book. Adrian Phoenix is a master in world building in her series. As the emotional roller coaster in the book continues we are given enough action to satisfy anyone as the book continues into its story hard and fast. Poor Dante just wants a quiet life with his hot FBI girlfriend Heather but it just does not go that easy for them. Phoenix builds an amazing story into her books that really grip the reader and you feel like you are experience the landmarks and the action from your own seat in detail and feeling. If you could ever burn calories while reading this author and series would be able to keep you on the edge of your seat, since your mind is spinning keeping up with the possibilities of the plot.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. May Dante kick it to the fallen time and time again on his quest for happy times with Heather. The romance was hot and heavy and it was blended well with the action in the book.

    Etched in Bone, you were great. I cannot wait now for Book Five.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    6 Stars (******) because 5 is not enough!

    This book starts 3 days after Beneath the Skin ends. The opening scene is an attention grabber! As soon as your heart starts thundering in your chest, that is when the focus changes and you learn of all the details that lead up to the opening scene. Once again, the reader is sucked into Dante and Heather's world. Don't even try to figure out what may happen as you're reading because your imagination is no where near as creative as the authors. Just sit back and let the story unfold. I give this 6 stars! Wow!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    fans of Adrian Phoenix will enjoy stepping into the author's dark world

    He has his feet in three worlds though he wants none of them. Vampire Dante Baptiste is the Fallen maker and the Great Destroyer who wants neither role. However, he wants a future with his beloved FBI agent Heather Wallace who shares his love and anguished tortured soul (if he has one that is) that often teeters towards insanity.

    The vampires of nightkind want him as a means to take control of the planet. At the same time, the human Shadow Branch agents seek to control him by using enhanced psychological persuasion of him and if needed his love Heather. Finally the Fallen followers are growing impatient with their leader's refusal to lead them to the Promised Land as expected by his "offspring for over a thousand years. These three diverse groups hone in on Dante and Heather.

    The fourth Maker's Song (see In the Blood, Rush of Wings and Beneath the Skin) is a taut thriller in which the reader continues to empathize with the beleaguered hero and his beloved Fed. Although there are too many subplot start-ups with a horde of new mostly antagonists that make it difficult to follow the Dante (and by association Heather) assaults and where they will lead as Etched in Bone completes the transition of the overarching theme from a paranormal police procedural into a grim urban fantasy.. Still fans of Adrian Phoenix will enjoy stepping into the author's dark world.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2013

    Kick ass book!

    Re reading this great series book 5 comes out sept. 24th cant wait. Everything u want in paranormal romance! Page turner for sure gets its hooks into you an wont let u put book down an beggin for next story in series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Highly Recommended - Can't wait for the next one!

    This book was great! I can't wait until the next book in the series comes out.

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    Get It!!!

    Okay, so I've followed this series of Adrian Phoenix's for a few years and she didn't disappoint in this one. There were a few places that I was confused on for the time and place, but it never lasted for long. Can't wait for the next one to hit shelves.

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  • Posted April 17, 2012

    Love this series - can't wait to start the next one. I live in N

    Love this series - can't wait to start the next one. I live in New Orleans and I felt like Ms. Phoenix got the flavor of my city right on. Dante's tragic young life sets the stage for increasing volatility as each of the books in the series progresses.
    I can only home that good endings ultimately come from this series as I hope the characters continue to appear in Ms. Phoenix's books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012


    Love the whole series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2011

    Skip this one

    Read the sample and save your money. The whole of this story is told in the first chapter and it ruins the book. The rest of it is 300 pages of stuff you didn't need to know for the story to progress. Get the next book and move on.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011


    Started off good but I struggled to finish it. Bounced all over the place, was not an enjoyable read. Will get the next one just because of the cliff hanger ending but if it is anything like this book it will be the last.

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  • Posted May 13, 2011

    Absolutely Awesome Read!!!

    This installment of the Maker's Song Series is an absolute winner. This time around we spent most of our time with Dante and Heather and they were wonderful. I love both of these characters, I love their strength, their commitment to each other and their passion.
    The secondary characters are just as wonderful as Dante and Heather.
    There's so much betrayal and deceit and I can't wait for Dante and the gang to start handing out justice to the bastards.
    A must read...highly recommended.

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  • Posted May 5, 2011

    Highly Not Recommended for Purchase-Check it out from the library!

    This book was awful. Plot does not move. You can easily skip this book in the series. This book is purely filler to fill the authors book quota for the year. Do not waste money on this book, borrow it from the library if you have to read it.

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  • Posted March 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Etched in Bone

    I strongly recommend you read the previous books in the series (Rush of Wings, In the Blood and Beneath the Skin) prior to reading this installment. I am not a huge fan of books that have a lot of internal dialog and that start at in "present" and then once it hooks you, instantly reverses and starts the next scenes in the past; I have been known to chuck a series simply because of those issues. Fortunately this author usually does a very successful job of having internal dialog scenes and chilling & twisted flashbacks that are so intense, it completely takes your breath away. Unfortunately for this installment there was just TOO MANY flashbacks and internal dialog; despite the fact that most of the flashbacks were mostly interesting. This book started off with a bang! It was suspenseful and exciting and I didn't want it to end. However, it did end, simply in the next scene the story rewinds to the past and works its way back to the "present". That format is usually ok but most of the scenes thereafter take place in the distant past and pretty much 75% of this book were secondary characters scenes. The author didn't return to the exciting scenes from the first part, until practically the end of the book. The ratio scenes between Dante and Heather were unbalanced and few and far between, when compared to how many scenes the supporting characters received. In addition, there were so many supporting characters and each of them contributed an important part to the story; however, with so many names and sub-stories, it was a bit confusing keeping track of everyone. How unfortunate that installment took more patience to get through than previous books in the series. This definitely isn't the best book in the series; especially since the author included and spent time on so many secondary characters and subplots. This installment had a watered down feel to it. Nonetheless, this installment was still spellbinding. When the author finally did catch-up with Heather and Dante again, the scenes were so unbelievably electrifying, I was completely riveted to the story. The ending alone was so explosive, I am salivating for the next installment. Can't believe we have to wait till 2012 for it. I highly recommend this book to fellow dark urban fantasy readers and look forward to the next book On Midnight Wings due out in 2012. Hopefully in the next installment, this author would've cut back on most of the supporting characters, and just focus on Heather, Dante and the rest of the Club Hell gang.

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Etched In Bone was Awesome! I read the book in a day! Plenty of action/romance .An ending that leaves you wanting the next book right now!! I tell everyone I know to buy these books.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    highly recommended


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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    A MUST READ NOW, not only for your tbr pile!!!!!

    And she did it again!
    She exceeded my expectations once more!

    This is NOT a book for your TBR pile, this is a book you need to read right away, (right after you read the first three - if you haven't done so yet)!
    And if read the first three of the series, you will know that it just can't go on your TBR pile!

    In book four, she pushes you right back into the action, and then allows you to take one step back, lets you catch your breath, but only for a second, just to offer you a hand to explore moments and times past! That gives you the rare chance to get to know the characters and events that led them to where they now are even better!
    It was such a great surprise, that needs so much intelligence and skill to even think about that possibility.

    And it covers so much more than "just" Urban Fantasy. It is Romance, Political Thriller, Science-Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, and Supernatural.

    This book has everything, again!! It made me cry and then, still with tears in my eyes, laugh out loud!

    I have never ever read any other author that describes things so well that it speaks to ALL your senses. There is nothing she describes that does not make you experience it for yourself, you seem to see it with you own eyes, feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it. And you want more!!
    You literally go through the emotions with the characters!
    The chacters turn into your friends, enemies, people you know, it is so real!

    I never cared so little how the book ends, because I know there will be more to come! That being said, the book ends with a cliffhanger that will make the wait until the next book excruciating, but good things really are worth waiting for, and I'm sure "On Midnight Wings" will be well worth it.

    Her stories keep you thrilled from beginning to end and beyond, so that you count the hours till you get to read more! I love her work more every day!

    The beauty, suspense, and richness of her stories do not only feed your soul but capture your heart - FOREVER!!

    I cannot express enough how lucky and happy I am that I stumbled across Adrian's books one day and I loved her ever since!

    It is not enough but all I can say: Thank you, Adrian!!

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    Very Highly Recommended!

    This author is extremely talented. Her characters come alive, you can't help but get emotionally involved. The books are hard to put down. I was hooked from the very first book and this book is no different. I love this series. The world that Adrian Phoenix has created is complex and has a lot of twists and turns. Keeps you on the edge of your seat and gripping the book with white knuckles. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Can't wait for the next book! Just keep em coming Adrian!

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    Highly Recommended Series....

    Etched in Bone is the 4th installment of this series, and a series that I look forward to reading with every new release, and Etched in Bone delivers yet again. Steeped in back story about Dante (main character, part Fallen, part True Blood and all sex appeal), the book had me falling in love with the characters all over again. If you haven't checked out this series, I highly recommend it. It's a very intelligently written series with plot twists that keep you turning the pages. I would recommend you start from the first book, A Rush of Wings and read them in order. Great book, can't wait for more.

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  • Posted March 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sharp And Dynamic

    I love this paranormal thriller series. Each book is composed of multiple, interwoven story lines which form a suspenseful story of the mentally fractured but irresistible Dante, a hybrid born vampire/fallen angel.

    This latest installment begins with a jaw dropping series of events, then goes back in time to two days before to cover the intervening events. Eventually, the book goes beyond that shocker beginning only to end in cliffhanger. It's a thriller in every sense of the word, and delivers an unbelievably sharp and complex story.

    The plot lines recount the experiences of Dante and his capable human lover, Heather, as well as the actions and thoughts of myriad adversaries and other players. While reading I desperately wanted to know what happened after that shocker beginning, but the suspense and action of the intervening events captured my attention.

    This series is masterfully written, exciting and addictive. If you like the thriller style and love supernatural fantasy, then this series is tailor made for you. Likewise, if you love to read a story a story about a completely fascinating vampire protagonist, then you will love this ongoing tale about goth rock Dante. Not only is he a born vampire, he's a fallen angel who can make and unmake living things. He's fighting to stay sane despite being programmed as a serial killer from birth, and he's fighting to stay free despite numerous adversarial forces who seek to use him and/or destroy him.

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