Hunter

Hunter

4.5 52
by Jacquelyn Frank
     
 

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This can't be happening to her. A random break down. . .an isolated mountain road, a seemingly chance meeting with a hotter-than-hot stranger. Tatyana is a modern gal who can handle any crisis, but before she knows what's hit her, she's sensing a hideous threat, not to her but to this man who draws her like a moth to flame. Hunter.

"I know things. . .I saw it."

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Overview

This can't be happening to her. A random break down. . .an isolated mountain road, a seemingly chance meeting with a hotter-than-hot stranger. Tatyana is a modern gal who can handle any crisis, but before she knows what's hit her, she's sensing a hideous threat, not to her but to this man who draws her like a moth to flame. Hunter.

"I know things. . .I saw it."

When the attack comes, she is his protection from a diabolical enemy, even as he initiates her into a startling world of magic, sorcery and sensuality. For in a moment of terrifying danger a spark has been struck, and neither can escape the erotic fire to come. . .

Praise for the novels of Jacquelyn Frank

"Richly imagined. . .intense. . .erotic." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Spicy. . .fascinating. . .fully charged." —Library Journal

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/16/2013
Jax (Jacquelyn Frank) piles on the erotic and magical encounters, but they can’t make up for a repetitive plot. Hunter Finn, the guilt-ridden Sentinel of Willow Coven, is recently returned from a decade’s absence. He feels instant lust for Tatyana Petrova, who makes an unannounced visit to her brother, a coven member. Hunter and Tatyana’s mutual attraction and a protective magical binding stand in for romantic development; their problems are resolved before a final battle, in which Tatyana and her magic play a dangerous but vital part. The plot conflict relies heavily on sexual violence (actual and threatened) against the powerful female witches, while the male witches mostly feel emotional pain over their failure to protect women. The heroes suffer from sameness and feel like caricatures, and the lack of variety in the characters and their problems results in a repetitive plot that is interrupted, rather than enhanced, by numerous sex scenes. (Feb.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781420134445
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
02/04/2014
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
607,246
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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HUNTER


By Jacquelyn Frank

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2013 Jacquelyn Frank
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4201-3444-5



CHAPTER 1

Tatyana Petrova bent her head forward and banged her forehead on the upper rim of her steering wheel.

"This isn't happening to me," she announced to the quickly chilling interior of her car. "This is the sort of thing that happens to stupid, unprepared women. You see," she explained, "I'm neither stupid nor unprepared. Therefore, logic dictates that this isn't happening to me."

She reached for her key, confident that her speech would make all the difference in the world. It turned in the ignition ... and a nifty little click echoed into the car. This was followed by immediate, deafening, highly discouraging silence. Tatyana growled with disgust and yanked the useless key from the ignition of what had always been the most incredibly reliable automotive companion she had ever owned. She loved her car. From its multi-disc CD player to its in-dash hands-free cell phone, and even its cup holder that fit perfectly around her favorite cup.

"I have triple A. I have a cell phone. I even know how to change a damn tire!" She made an exaggerated sound of frustration. "But of course I can't get a cell signal in the middle of nowhere because I'm surrounded by mountains, and I don't have a flat tire!"

Tatyana sighed, laying her head back on the headrest. She cast a mean look at the cell phone on the passenger seat, and then decided it was time to end her temper tantrum. She was a modern gal and she could handle any crisis. It was just that she needed about five minutes of woe-is-me, PMS-worthy despair before she took action. Scooping up the phone and shoving it in her bag, she swung herself out of the car and marched back to the trunk. After popping it open, she rummaged around in her gym bag until she found her sneakers. She traded her heels for them, sliding her stocking feet easily into the Nikes. Granted, it didn't make a fashion statement when she was wearing a designer silk dress in shocking red that sparkled with a light dusting of glitter, but she wasn't about to trek up and down mountain roads in spiky leather stilettos just because they looked good. It was bad enough she had chosen a fringed shawl for a wrap and was likely to freeze her butt off by the time she found a working phone.

And that wasn't even the worst of it.

No, the worst of it was that her best friend, her confidant, the man she adored and loved most in the world ... was going to kill her. Possibly even literally. She sighed as she slammed the trunk shut, then shivered.

"Happy freakin' New Year!" she cheered to herself, watching her breath cloud ominously in the air.

She was supposed to be in Manhattan at one of the swankiest New Year's parties in town. The firm she worked for was notorious for going all out, reserving the entire Panorama Grill, the restaurant at the top of the building she worked in. There was also the minor technicality that it was considered very bad form by your bosses if you didn't show up at the year-end party. Promotions could be gained or lost at this event based solely on appearances.

But was she making a fabulous impression on her bosses like she was supposed to? Nooo. Of course not. Here she was, her car broken down in the back of beyond with her unhappily freezing her cha-chas off, all for the sake of a be loved brother who was going to murder her for the effort.

"Dimitre, I love you very much and I know you are worth this, but why in hell did you have to move to this scene straight out of Deliverance? God, I can't see a single light anywhere." She turned herself in a complete circle, to no avail. If the skyline around her was any indication, she was currently in a valley and the Catskills surrounded her with their sparsely populated mountain faces. "Well, at least the roads are paved and I don't hear any banjos in the distance," she quipped to herself as she shouldered her purse and began to trek off in the direction she'd been headed.

It was really her only choice. Tatyana was closer to where her brother lived than the nearest town, so it just made sense to keep going.

"And someone should have warned me about the sucky cell phone reception out here. I can't believe that, with what I pay for this phone, I can't even get a signal in an emergency. Now, here I am, a stranded woman marching down a spooky, remote road with no one to hear me scream. I'm in a damned plot for a B horror flick!"

Tatyana kept marching down said remote road at full steam, promising an ignorant Dimitre that he would be very sorry if his sister met a gruesome death by chainsaw. Of course, at the rate she was talking to herself, and considering her pres ent frame of mind, maybe she'd be picking up her own chainsaw.

If she could only find a hardware store.


"Annali, love, what are you doing?"

Annali waved off the taunting query with a graceful hand, the filmy material of her blouse fluttering like the petals of a lavender orchid around her wrist. The romantic cuffs at the ends of the snug sleeves made for an incongruous picture as she leaned over a massive worktable, one that was cluttered to the very edges with a hundred or more labeled bottles and pouches filled with all manner of curiosities. Adjoining tables held burners, sinks, a heavy mortar and pestle of marble, and a network of beakers, flasks, and distillery equipment. She toiled over all of these while dressed in an outfit spun of the finest silk, yet she hadn't even bothered to don an apron to protect her blouse or skirt.

She was clearly in the middle of something complex. Her right hand was toying with a strand of pearls at her throat in a rapid, absent gesture, while the notebook she was scrawling in was filled nearly corner to corner with notations by her left hand.

Only half of her hair, a myriad sandy blond tones, remained swept up into its original coiffure; the other half was a tumble of wayward curls that bounced happily on her shoulders at their parole from the severe upsweep. She was missing one of her shoes, her bare foot swinging in tempo to some internal beat only she could hear. She had a smudge of ink on her cheek that had an eerie Rorschach effect when stared at too long.

"Stop hovering, Ryce," she scolded as she continued to write furious notes without even bothering to look up.

"How long have you been closeted away here, Annali?" Ryce persisted, looking for clues. There was a half-drunk cup of tea on the table behind her, but he knew it was long cold. There were no indications as to whether or not she'd eaten. It was par for the course when she worked in a fever like this that she'd always forget to eat.

"What day is it?" she countered.

"Friday."

"I've been here since Thursday."

Ryce was not misled.

"Of what bloody week?" he shot back.

She made a little moue with her pretty lips and finally looked up at him so she could give him a full-on pout. "Please stop pestering me. I'm a grown woman and I'm quite capable of caring for myself."

"That remains to be seen," Ryce said dryly, reaching out to sweep one of her slender hands in his, drawing it to his lips in a flutter of soft, lavender ruffles. He kissed the back of her wrist. "You know, Dimitre would never forgive me if I allowed you to starve to death. Come on, let me take you to dinner. Once I've fed you, I promise to leave you be."

"In the middle of all this?" she demanded, clearly aghast at the suggestion as she swept her free hand over the large work area, the pen in her fingers almost being flung away in her enthusiasm. "Ryce, you know very well I can't just get up and abandon things mid-experiment."

"It's nice to know that some things never change."

Annali gasped even as Ryce pivoted around sharply on the ball of his foot to face the new voice. The familiar newcomer had entered via the exterior conservatory doors, by way of the outlying gardens, and held the knobs, one in each hand, as he grinned at their gaping expressions.

"Hunter!"

Leave it to Annali to recover herself the quickest, Ryce thought with humor as she whipped her hand out of his grasp and flew at the fresh arrival like a beautiful lavender flamingo, all slim, delicate-looking arms and legs. She coiled her wrists behind Hunter's neck and drew him down for an enthusiastic welcome home kiss as he caught her around the ribs. Hunter flushed as her kisses moved to his cheeks with repeated enthusiasm. He flicked up brilliant blue eyes to see Ryce smirking at him, enjoying this display of Annali's affections. Hunter grinned and gave him a rude hand gesture behind her back as he bent to kiss her supple cheek affectionately.

"Blessed be. It's good to see you, Annali," he said warmly when she finally settled back onto her heels.

"Well it's not good to see you," she declared in contradiction, her Southern accent exaggerated by pique as she reached out to slap him smartly on his shoulder in true Scarlett O'Hara style. All she was missing was a hoopskirt and a fan. "You are such a fiend, staying away so long!"

"Anna," Ryce scolded her from the worktables.

"Well, it's true," Annali said, whipping out one of her infamous pouts. There was a collective sigh from the men. It was very hard to resist Annali's adorably perfect little pouts.

"I had my reasons, Annie," Hunter said simply, putting her a little farther away from himself, trying to ease the discomfort of her little guilt trip.

"I know. But, in the name of the Lady, Hunter, this is the information age! You could have written. A few lousy e-mails here and there to let us know you were still alive wouldn't have killed you."

Hunter glanced up at Ryce in a silent plea. Ryce gave him a meaningful look and shook his head. Both men knew Annali had never, and would never, fully understand the reasons behind Hunter's departure so long ago. Neither would she understand why Hunter had cut himself off from all contact with his friends. It had been difficult for Ryce to comprehend as well; but though he didn't agree with all of Hunter's reasons, he respected them. For ten years he'd left Hunter to his own devices, never contacting him, as per his wishes.

Until now.

It was painfully good to see him, Ryce thought as he clasped his arms behind his back in a casual movement that belied the emotions he was feeling, taking the opportunity to look over Hunter. His old friend had changed in many ways. He was as vigorous and sturdy a man as he'd ever been, in a physical sense, but time had matured his body, making him seem far more at ease within the roped musculature of his build. It took discipline to maintain such a physique. Ryce wondered if it was still Hunter's passions for Thoroughbreds and martial arts that kept him fit and motivated. A person could change a great deal in one decade, but Ryce doubted that those essentials had altered. Hunter was born to ride and fight. His seat on a horse was a phenomenal thing to behold, poetry between man and beast. His hand-to-hand reactions, the ease of his uncanny reflexes, and his succinct choices in the heat of a fight made him unbelievably valuable at one's back.

Hunter had also cut his hair. That was a sharp difference. He'd previously kept the pitch-colored locks long enough to touch his shoulders, sweeping them into a tail as Ryce himself did. Now his hair was severely shortened, cropped to a perfectly manicured line over the back of his neck, with only the front and top showing a slightly rakish length that hung in curving spears over his forehead. His eyes, the remarkable cerulean blue that leapt out at anyone he glanced at, were notably less shadowed by pain and grief, and Ryce was glad to see it. As for the rest, he could only guess at this juncture. Who knew how time had treated Hunter? It had treated them all so differently. In fact, it was time that had compelled Ryce to draw Hunter home at last, back into their fold where he truly belonged.

Time and danger.

"Well, anyway," Annali said breezily, "I forgive you. But only because I have so much to tell you and I need to hear absolutely everything about you as well."

"Since Ryce is intent on feeding you, pet, why don't we all go out to eat?" Hunter suggested. "I'm starved, as well as jet-lagged, and I think dinner and a fresh bed would make all the difference."

"I don't doubt it," Ryce said at last. "Annali, go and change for dinner. Hunter and I will be waiting for you in the front parlor when you're ready."

"Ryce," Annali used his name as a gentle scold, her fair lavender blue eyes holding a world of admonishment. "Hunter's only just come through the door. I don't want you harping on him already, okay?" She spoke with lightness, but knowing her so well, Ryce knew there was a little bit of an irrational fear that if he upset the apple cart, Hunter would just walk off again and this time he wouldn't come back for good.

"I'm curious over her definition of harping," Hunter chuckled, an ungentlemanly reminder that she'd just been harassing him herself.

Annali turned a speaking glance on Hunter that announced her pique that he should make fun at her expense. "I mean it," she sniffed, her tone like a mother scolding young boys. "Both of you behave and be nice."

"Go change, Anna," Ryce persisted, giving her a gentle shove in the direction of the conservatory exit.

As she left, Hunter turned to close the exterior doors against the winter cold before it destroyed the hothouse atmosphere and endangered some of Annali's precious plants. By the time he turned around, Ryce had done the same with the hallway doors. The two men crossed the room, meeting in the middle with an enthusiastic handshake and hug.

"It's good to see you, my friend. Blessed be to you," Ryce greeted with an eagerness no less keen than Annali's before he stepped back.

"And you as well," Hunter said with a grin. "Ryce, Annali is beautiful. And happy. It's hard to reconcile the woman I just saw with the haunted seventeen-year-old she was when I left. Well done, my friend."

"Annali deserves all the credit," Ryce said dismissively. "I see you've picked up a fair bit of Romany in your inflections." He noted this as a first clue to Hunter's whereabouts all these years.

"No doubt," Hunter chuckled. "Among others. Whereas the Queen's English is sounding surprisingly bastardized from your tongue. Too much time in New York, I'm thinking." Hunter released Ryce's hand and clasped his shoulder briefly. "You look very well. I hope the others are all in good health, too?"

"As well as ever. As you can see"—he gestured to the workstations sprawled in the center of the conservatory—"Annali is a thriving biochemist and is still the obsessive botanist. With much success, I might add."

"I'm not surprised at Annali succeeding at anything," Hunter remarked, with a visibly strong streak of pride.

"Agreed," Ryce said, taking great comfort in the signs he saw in Hunter that told him he'd made the right choice by summoning him home. The only thing he would ever regret was that he hadn't done so much sooner. "Kaia is buried knee deep in work at the local hospital, as well as a free clinic. She's presently on a short lecture circuit. Dimitre, the new witch I told you about, is with her."

"You mean Annali's new love?"

"New and only. Besides you, there was never anyone else."

Hunter smiled at that, a whimsical tilting of his lips. "She had a young girl's crush back then. Hero-worship. It lasted only as long as those things do. She's thought of me as a big brother ever since, just as she does you." He raised a brow of inquisition. "I assume you're going to tell me why Annali's mate is off with Kaia?"

"In time," Ryce agreed. He watched as Hunter turned to inspect some of Annali's potion bottles. "Lennox is well, but Gracelynne is recovering from a riding accident," he said casually.

That brought Hunter's attention fully back to Ryce, his handsome face folding into concern and consternation. "A riding accident?" Ryce knew there was no getting around the sharp questions in those intuitive eyes. "Forgive me, Ryce, but I am trying to wrap my mind around the concept of Gracie having a riding accident. She's nearly as good as I am on horseback."

"Of course she is. You can just imagine her embarrassment. A spirited horse and a low branch was all it took," the Englishman said dismissively. "She landed on her rear good and hard, but she's got nothing worse than a bruised coccyx and a broken wrist to show for it. After dinner we will discuss it in more detail. Annali was unusually disturbed seeing Gracelynne brought down like that, and I'd prefer we not thrash it out in front of her. You know how she can be when someone she loves is hurt. Brings up bad memories."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from HUNTER by Jacquelyn Frank. Copyright © 2013 Jacquelyn Frank. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.

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Meet the Author

Hi there. It's me! Again. Time to update some more. Trying to keep up with this and realizing I haven't updated this since 2012. (It's 2015 right now) I've expanded my online presence to include Facebook and Twitter, a website a blog and every other bleeping thing there is out there in the cyber world. Was finding it hard to manage all that exposure and get work done at the same time. I am writing under two names (JAX is for my steamier stuff...and yes, it does get steamier!) And I am in over half a dozen languages now! INCUDING a full line of NIGHTWALKERS audio books with the glorious narration of the superb Xe Sands. I'm thrilled with the job she did!

NIGHTWALKER, the final book in the NIGHTWALKER series has just debuted and my fingers are crossed that it will do well.

I'm still living in Asheville, NC. My kitty family has dwindled to a mere eight cats. I was fostering and...I found it so hard to trust anyone would give them a better home than me! Is that ego or arrogance or just trust issues?

Email will always be welcomed. I am a tech queen and my laptop has grown roots into my thighs. (And my bottom has grown them into my recliner). I am so thrilled about all of my books and I want to know what everyone thinks of them! I think it would be fascinating to hear what my readers would like to see happen in the Nightwalker world as the series ends. I receive emails at jackifrankwrites@gmail.com these days. Feel free to say hi! 

If you haven't tried me, please do. I always recommend starting with JACOB. Or if you don't want to invest in a series, go for DRINK OF ME. It's a stand alone. 

Enjoy,
Hugs and Kitties,
Jacquelyn Frank

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