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Kell tipped his ale back, his dark gaze remaining steady on the tavern door. "She's coming."
That she was. The air thickened as if in anticipation of a lightning strike—or a witch's temper. Conn relaxed in his chair, stretching his long legs to cross at the ankles. His boots caught on worn grooves in the wood. "You might want to make yourself scarce."
Kell tied his dark hair back at the nape, his shoulders tensing. "You may need backup." He glanced at the row of patrons lining the bar on hand-carved wooden stools centuries old. Mostly witches, maybe a couple humans. People who lived on the northern coast of Ireland, happy in the knowledge most of the world didn't know they existed. "Though we should clear everyone else out."
Conn fought a grin. His friend sounded almost ... concerned.
As a fierce witch and a dangerous warrior, the enforcer for the council was trained in witchcraft and traditional war. Kellach's main job was to protect the leading council, the Coven Nine. He feared no man. But a woman? Well now, that was another story.
"Your cousin isn't that dangerous, Kell." Though what did Conn know? Moira had been training for a century. Her skill set might be deadly. If so, they needed to get a couple things straight.
Several folks lining the bar cast wary glances over their shoulders. Even in this day and age, vampires were a scarcity in the north, so Conn kept his fangs hidden. He didn't want to spook them—although his metallic eyes probably gave him away.
Watching carefully, he wondered if anyone would challenge him. He'd never battled a witch. They'd been allies of the Realm for centuries, though he often wondered about that. Witches kept their powers shrouded in secrecy. Not even his king knew the full extent of what magic allowed them to create.
Kell's lips tightened in his rugged face. "Moira is the seventh sister of the seventh sister. All power. You have no idea what you're doing, my friend. She told you not to come to Ireland, and you should've listened. You shouldn't be—"
The door swept open on a gust of wind. Electricity crackled through the room. Moira stepped inside, her green gaze hard on Conn. His heart seized. How had he forgotten her beauty? Her power? Her tiny size?
Conn scraped back his chair and stood. "Hello, mate."
Her focus remained on him. "Get out."
Stools toppled, chairs clattered, and patrons stumbled in a mass exodus. He couldn't help his grin as the door slammed shut behind her. Even from across the room her scent of lilacs whispered toward him. Tempted him. "Feeling dramatic, Dailtín?"
"I believe I've asked you not to call me a brat." She stepped into the empty tavern, all grace, all intent. "Kellach, please leave."
"Yes, Kell. Get the hell out," Conn said cheerfully, his gaze on his mate. He'd missed those rioting red curls and that translucent skin—almost as much as he'd missed the fire in her eyes and the spirit in her tiny form. Almost. her lilting voice grabbed him around the throat and squeezed.
With a muttered, "It's your funeral," Kellach stalked outside. The air relaxed as his power dissipated.
Silence. Alone in the bar, Moira and Conn stared at each other for a moment.
Finally, she sighed and tugged a hand through her wild curls. "You need to go home, Connlan."
He ran his gaze to her toes and back up, truly appreciating the faded jeans and tight white shirt decorated with Celtic knots. The sight of the dainty witch in modern clothing reached deep in his gut and twisted. The need to take her to the floor nearly had him lunging. "Or what?"
Fire flashed in her emerald eyes. "Or I'll destroy you." Power all but danced on her skin with the threat.
Damn. That voice, that spirit. His heart leaped to life and his cock jumped to attention. "Think so?"
She sucked in air, her hands fisting and then relaxing at her sides.
That's right, sweetheart. Center yourself. He gesture toward Kell's vacated chair. "Have a seat."
"No. You need to leave, Conn. Please." Determination and a hint of desperation broke through her calm façade.
He cocked his head to the side, unease tickling his nape. "Did you just say please?" Every instinct he owned flared to life. "What the hell's going on, Moira?"
Her eyes widened just enough for him to doubt her intent. "I need time, Conn."
"I've given you a hundred years." Why the hell was she trying the innocent approach with him? He knew her better. "I told you eight months ago I was coming." He'd meant to fly across the ocean the next day, but war had intruded. Being commander of the Realm's soldiers often took a heavy toll.
"I need more. Just a bit, to prepare to, uh—"
"Prepare for what?"
The morning after he'd marked her, when her father wanted his head on a spike, he'd tried to make peace. One moonlit night he'd taken her virginity and she'd taken his heart. Fate had made an appearance, forming the Kayrs marking on his palm that he'd transferred to her hip during sex. Even so, he'd signed the treaty promising to leave her be for a century—to train as the Seventh. Time was up.
"We had a one-night stand and ended up mated. That's all." She sighed. "You want to solidify our alliance. But I'm not ready to, um, concentrate on us."
She clasped her hands together. "I'm asking for more time. Just a little."
"Do you trust me?"
"No." Not in a million years. "Try to play me and you'll regret it, céadsearc." Sweetheart. He'd learned the endearment the night she sighed it in his ear, her body wrapped around his, her darkening eyes stealing his heart forever.
"I'm asking you. Go home."
Studying her guileless expression, he stepped out from behind the table so nothing separated them but highly charged air. He'd trained as a soldier, the best in the world, and his instincts were finely honed. Drawing on those, drawing on his gut, he lowered his chin. "No."
Fiery temper swirled in her belly and it took every ounce of Moira's control to keep from lighting the jackass on fire. She'd tried to be reasonable with him. A soldier, the best, the only thing he understood was battle strategy and bullets. Fine. "I've asked you nicely."
He smiled. Slow. Dangerous—a warning from a true predator. "Don't get me wrong, Dailtín. I like you soft and pleading."
His rumbling voice heated the fire already burning in her. Memories of her pleading for his touch, for his claim, escaped the box she usually shut them in. One night. One long, delicious night with him so many years ago. Her nipples peaked along with her anger. Her gaze swept him. Well over six feet, eyes the color of the deepest riverbed—dark and green and too knowing. Thick shoulders, powerful thighs, and his handsome face proved the Creator was a woman. A goddess. Only a goddess would've spent time ensuring each sharp hollow and rugged peak somehow combined into lethal masculine beauty.
She avoided looking at his broad hands. Too many memories of those clever fingers that had brought pleasure ... while his leaving had brought pain. He hadn't wanted to keep her a century ago. An emotional shove down took care of the ding in her heart. He sure as hell wasn't going to claim her now just because of Realm politics. "I don't want to hurt you, Connlan." Her voice softened as she spoke the absolute truth. "But I will."
He reached for a band from his pocket and tied back the thick mass of dark hair whispering for her touch. When had he grown it to his shoulders? "Let's get to it then." His stance widened, his gaze narrowed. "Show me what you've got, baby."
She centered all thoughts, her hands opening palms up at her sides. "I hoped you'd be reasonable." Bollocks. She'd hoped he'd come to get her before now ... before he had to. Because he wanted her. Air began to stir, tempting her nostrils with the scent of gunpowder and sage. Connlan.
He raised an eyebrow, peering down at her. "Why don't you tell me what's going on?" While he phrased it as a question, command tinged each word. "You're scared ... and I find I don't like that. At all." He measured her, his gaze roaming her body and leaving tingles in its wake. "Are you frightened of me?" His brows furrowed.
"Not even a little bit." She allowed her voice to quiet to keep from cracking.
His face smoothed out, a dark eyebrow rising. "There's someone more dangerous than me?" His full lips quirked and a dimple winked in his left cheek.
That damn dimple.
"No." Not a being existed on earth more dangerous than Connlan Kayrs. She saw no reason to lie to him. He even dressed as a soldier in black cargo pants and a dark long-sleeved shirt, no doubt hiding weapons. "I'm busy right now, Conn. Events are taking place and I need to be involved. I have work to do."
"Let me help."
Moira shut her eyes. Such an offer—the temptation to accept warred with common sense. With reality. She opened them. "I wish you could." Regret flushed through her. "We mated a century ago. Another decade won't matter." Bitterness tinged her words.
Conn's eyes darkened. "It takes a century for a witch to come into power, to study and learn. So I gave you the time. Because you asked nicely." He took a step forward. "I'm done."
The threat and determination in his gaze washed sadness through her. This was about duty and power, not love or passion. "We shagged once, Conn. One night isn't going to determine my fate, marking or not." She'd never forget the heated pain of him marking the front of her left hip bone as her orgasm exploded—right before his did. He'd left her the next day to deal with the aftermath, with the anger of her people that their Seventh had mated for all time with a vampire.
He held his right palm toward her, showcasing the intricate design with the raised K in the middle. "You're not the only one with a brand, darlin'. I wear the mark, too."
The Kayrs marking. Legend declared the brand appeared when a Kayrs met his mate, transferring during sex. "I've read of your family, Conn. Some matings were arranged."
"So?" His voice rumbled lower with anger and warning.
The wind outside increased in power, beating against the high row of windows to get in. A storm threatened. Moira lifted her chin, meeting his gaze. "Did you mark me on purpose?"
Conn took another step toward her, his jaw firming. "Are you asking if I forced the mark on my hand and then on your flesh?"
She fought the urge to retreat. "Yes." Enough with fate and destiny. She was sick of the pressure. "You know what I am—the line I hold."
"I do. You have the potential to be the most powerful ruler the Council of the Coven Nine has ever claimed."
"Yes." Fire ripped through her. His family ruled the vampire world and thus the Realm, a coalition of powerful allies including shifters and witches. "Quite the allegiance our mating might make for the Realm."
"But our mating didn't cement anything, now did it?" Tension spiraled from him. "Because you needed space—because you haven't declared your intention to be mine." Something in his tone promised she'd be making such a declaration soon.
He didn't know her or what she could do. She'd disappear before allowing herself to be used as a political pawn in his war. "You'd do anything for the Realm."
"Ah, Moira," his voice softened to a deadly tone, "you're miscalculating here."
She suppressed a shiver. "Why's that?"
"The second I marked you, the second you became mine ..." Something flashed in his eyes. Regret? Anger? She doubted being forced to wait a century had been difficult for him, and wishing for such a thing was just silly. A century ago he'd agreed to leave way too easily. And now he showed up when the Realm was at war with the Kurjans? The Realm needed the Coven Nine to continue the alliance—especially since the demons had declared war as well. "Your family, the Realm is everything to you. You would've mated for political reasons." He probably had. Duty was all but stamped on his handsome face.
Not by one twitch of an eyelash did his expression alter. "Possibly."
"Did you?" Her voice dropped to a hush. Her body steeled for the emotional blow.
"No." Silver began to thread through the green of his eyes—true proof of a vampire's anger. "I didn't consciously mark you, Moira." Conn blew out a breath. "But I felt the rightness of it. The belonging when the marking appeared." His stance settled again. "You were meant to be mine, and I'm taking you home."
The certainty of his vow convinced her as nothing else could have. He'd told her once he didn't lie or threaten. A vampire like him didn't need to do either. He wouldn't leave easily.
She sighed. "I'm staying here." She drew her fingers in, allowing molecules to reshape from her energy. Quantum physics at its finest. "You're leaving."
He flashed his teeth. "Get to it."
With a nod, she concentrated on the invisible molecules in the air, throwing subatomic particles through them to alter the matter into pure, dangerous burning energy. She'd been coming to Shea's for decades and had taken her first drink at the bar. Damaging the tavern would not only bother her, it would totally tick off Danny Shea, and the old witch would tell her parents. As well as charge her triple for any repairs. She needed to be careful and aim just for Conn.
Electric blue plasma wavered and then formed into the size of a cantaloupe in her right hand, which she pulled back and threw at his torso.
The mass flashed through the air. She felt a quick moment of regret. The energy wouldn't kill him, but oh man would it hurt. The ball would singe his skin like a very bad sunburn. Of course, vampires had no more problem with the sun than did humans. Legends were bunk. This strike was merely the beginning.
She expected him to evade the energy weapon. Order her to stop its movement. Instead, his lips tipped ever so slightly. He held out a hand. The plasma ball halted mid- flight, then swept forward until it hovered above his palm. Captured.
Moira stepped back. Her breath caught in her throat. "That's impossible." She'd focused her own energy into the matter to create the force. No one else could control her creation. Fear slithered down her spine.
He shrugged, shifted, and threw the orb at her with an impressive push-off.
She leaped to the side, the ball rushing past her to collide with a bar stool, sending the worn seat into the air to land back with a crash. The scent of ozone whipped through the space. Her knees gave, and she clutched the edge of the bar, digging her nails into the wood, her eyes wide on Conn.
"How?" Her voice trembled, but she was beyond caring. Straightening, she unclenched her fingers and pivoted to face him. How could anyone not only take her energy but use it against her? Impossible.
He shrugged. "What exactly do you think I've been doing this last century?"
Adrenaline flowed down her back through tissue and muscle, causing her to feel a bit light-headed. "Training the Realm's soldiers for the war we all knew was coming." The war with the Kurjans, the pasty-white bloodsucking monsters who were afraid of the sun since it fried them.
Conn nearly grinned. "Yes. The vampires and shifters are prepared. But I multitasked."
"Multitasked?" Her voice wavered while dread ripped through her. The deadliest soldier ever born to the vampires multitasked? He was shagging kidding her. "Meaning what?" Only force of will kept her knees from buckling. Again.
Excerpted from Hunted by REBECCA ZANETTI Copyright © 2012 by Rebecca Zanetti . Excerpted by permission of BRAVA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 24, 2012
I have been looking forward to this story from the very first time I found out about Conn and Moira. Ms. Zanetti didn’t disappoint either! Book three in the Dark Protector series is just as riveting as the first. Over 100 years ago, their one night stand changed their destinies; they are mates. Conn believed that he was doing what was best for her and their future by signing a treaty that would give her time to come into her powers. What he doesn’t know is that that one act may have just closed her heart to him forever. Moira knows that her body craves Conn and has done so since the very beginning. What she can’t accept is his choice to walk away from her and leaving their love behind. How can she trust his feelings if it took him this long to return to her? Conn has spent the last 100 years in constant torment. He walked away from his mate, but she was such a young woman and still had not experienced life. Even though every breath he took, he was drawn to her, he had to hold strong to give her time. He used his time wisely, honing his powers and learning all he could about his woman. The time has come. Now he wants what is rightfully his and he will do anything to have her. War has erupted in the realm and allegiances are being tested. There is also a new enemy so strong that they seem to be able to steal witches away without any trace. Now may not be the best time to claim his mate, but Conn is not going to risk losing Moira to politics and petty bickering. She is his main concern and he is determined to figure out what is happening. The problem is, Moira has many secrets Conn didn’t know about, but he also has a few tricks up his sleeve. These two are in for some shocking revelations. Ms. Zanetti has done it again. Her writing is strong and consistent and the plot is new and exciting. I enjoyed seeing old friends and having the plotline move along and not be stagnant. She has continued to write a solid story with engaging characters you what to know, enemies you fear but are captivated by and a universe that is fascinating and appealing. She never gave any clues to who the bad guy or gal was and kept me planted in my seat until the very last page. Bravo on keeping this series action packed, sexy hot and original. I am looking forward to the continued adventures of the realm. Rebecca Zanetti’s Dark Protectors series is a must read for me. She has forever placed herself on my “Authors to Read” list.
9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 6, 2012
A GraveTells Fave & Book of the Month: Hunted is powerful, steamy, and addicting!!
The first chapter of Hunted hits the ground running. Strong personalities, high tempers, steamy chemistry, powerful longing, and unexpected consequences fairly fly off the pages.
Moira is a powerful witch, and we're not talking Sabrina nose-twitching magic. This is smart magic, requiring decades of study in quantum physics and string theory. When it comes to kick-butt heroines, Moira Dunne is the gold standard. Innately magically gifted, fiercely physically trained, and determined to do her duty to both her people and her mate, Moira is a firebrand of crackling, spunky, red-headed temper and focused power. With the combined lethality of her and Connlan, this is one duo you never want to cross.
I really like the idea that mated pairs share their supernatural skills. It makes them a united front, a team that backs each other up and builds on each other's strengths... very much like a marriage. It also means Connlan is far above average intelligence, and is there anything sexier than a man who is built, strong, confident, a natural leader, downright deadly with his body and with his energy, AND smart enough to bend spacetime with his mind?
Conn is the most lethal vampire alive, the ultimate soldier. His personality reminds me a little of Christian Grey from the Fifty Shades Trilogy: alpha and authoritative, determined like a freight train, a powerhouse in the bedroom, and incredibly good at his job. He's not quite as micromanaging as Fifty, but he certainly believes in trying to keep his mate under constant lockdown for her safety, regardless of her 30+ years of serving as an Enforcer for the witch's council. Their attraction both smolders and scorches. Intense, and as powerful as an atomic bomb, the energy between these two is off the charts.
If this couple had their own series, Connlan could be the new Bones. Yes, I know that's saying a lot and, no, I'm not kidding! This guy is everything I like.. no, LOVE... in a PNR hero and I want to stash him away for myself!! It's a darn shame he and Moira only have one book!
This book has it all... action, danger, passion, political intrigue. Ms. Zanetti has created a rich world of supernatural creatures hiding in plain sight of Earth's human population; demons who can trick your mind, witches who manipulate atomic energy, and vampires both good and bad who have a myriad of talents, from teleportation to controlling nature. This is not some cheap imitation quickie story universe. Alluring in its plausibility, the world of the Dark Protectors is thought-provoking and well-planned. The author doesn't devalue her audience's intelligence and the characters hold nothing back, and make no apologies for it!
Even if you haven't read the previous books in the series, Hunted is absolutely a MUST-READ! It is powerful, original, explosive, addicting, and stands on its own story arc. And Connlan is to DIE for. Seriously, he should be illegal.
If you liked Hunted, check out Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost and Blood of the Demon by Rosalie Lario.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 18, 2012
This book was amazing! I love how this author keeps you up to date with the brothers and their mates from the previous books. Conn and Morias story was my fav so far but I change my fav pick after each book. Im looking forward to reading Jordan and Katies story next.
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Posted May 20, 2012
I just "happened" onto this series, but I am glad I did. I was not as excited but the possible story-line of the witch, but I was go glad to be wrong. Conn continues the trend of being more powerful, more sexy and more dangerous that the previous brother. And in Moira we find a heroine deserving of being his mate. Her will not allow her own power and strength to be denied. A wonderful companion to the other books in the series, but could also be read alone (though it will drive you to read the first two, I promise).
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Posted March 30, 2013
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Posted July 28, 2012
I would def suggest reading this series in order. Read the first 3 books before reading this one if you want to get the best from the series.
I really enjoyed this book and Ive been dying to read about Conn and Moira sense book #1
Conn the fiercest soldier in all the realm found himself mated after one hot intense night of sex. He gives Moira time to come into her own before going to claim her.
Moira is a witch, a very powerful witch. Shes been training for years now. The war has finally forced these 2 together.
They are forced to take a journey to help save the realm.
For me this book was more about the the series in a whole than it was about Conn and Moira. I felt this book brought the questions you didnt get answers to in the first 3 books together. This book focused more on the series plot than Conn and Moira's relationship. But thats what I think makes this book amazing.
Rebecca does a great job giving the enemies point of view. In other books I sometimes find myself skimming through when its the bad guys turn to reek havoc on the world but not in this series. I enjoyed seeing Kalins struggles with his fate/destiny. Rebecca does an amazing job with the secondary characters in each book. The story plot blends together and flows perfectly.
Again I have to say this series gets better and better as each book arrives. I love it and I am very very addicted to Rebecca's books.
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Posted May 16, 2012
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Hunted is book 3 in the series. It is Conn and Moira's story and finally introduces the witches, whom are very secretive allies(?) in this series - so it is interesting to learn more about their place in this well thought out series. Besure to read the Books in order if you can so you can follow the story behind each of the Mates stories. Can't wait to read next one .... Consumed!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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