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Keeper of the Shadows (Harlequin Nocturne Series #159)

Keeper of the Shadows (Harlequin Nocturne Series #159)

4.2 5
by Alexandra Sokoloff

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In their new Keeper roles, these extraordinary women must balance the fate of the world with their desires….

As a crime beat reporter, Barrie Gryffald's work is risky enough when she's investigating mortal homicides. But when a teenage shifter and an infamous Hollywood mogul are both found dead on the same night, her


In their new Keeper roles, these extraordinary women must balance the fate of the world with their desires….

As a crime beat reporter, Barrie Gryffald's work is risky enough when she's investigating mortal homicides. But when a teenage shifter and an infamous Hollywood mogul are both found dead on the same night, her Keeper intuition screams, Otherworldly.

Reluctantly, she enlists her secret crush, Mick Townsend, a journalist with movie-star appeal. Together, they dig up eerie parallels to a forgotten cult-film tragedy. But it may be too late. With a cast of suspects ranging from vampire junkies to the ghosts of Hollywood past, no one can be trusted. Least of all Mick, who may well prove to be as unpredictable as the Others Barrie is sworn to protect….

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Keepers: L.A. Series
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There is nothing more beautiful than the city at night, thought Rosalind Barrymore Gryffald as she hit the freeway toward downtown.

Being that the city was Los Angeles, it was easier to feel that way late at night, the later at night the better, because traffic did let up eventually, even if it was sometimes well after midnight. But then, oh, then, the city was all hers, in all its shimmering glory.

L.A. Lotus Land. The dream machine, the end of the rainbow. Was there anything in the world more romantic?

And Rosalind Barrymore Gryffald—Barrie for short, which unfortunately she was; pixieish, people tended to say, to her eternal exasperation…a copper-eyed, copper-haired sprite of a girl—loved her town.

Oh, she knew L.A. had its detractors, the ones who were always joking that there was no there there. But those people just didn't know where to look. She knew where to look. In fact it was her job to look.

Not only did she live in the most exciting city in the world, she also knew its most secret excitements: there was a world within the world, even more magical than the movies. And that world was her job.

Her day job…well, her day job was actually a night job, the night shift on the Los Angeles Courier where she worked as a crime beat reporter. But her secret job, her all-the-time job, her passion, her calling, was Canyon Keeper of the shape-shifters of Los Angeles.

She was startled out of her thoughts when the digital billboard on the Wilshire Grand Building suddenly loomed up in the dark, a twenty-story-high architectural lighting tour de force featuring car-size butterflies flitting across a rainbow landscape. She was at the downtown turnoffs already.

She steered her vintage Peugeot—which she'd wheedled out of her father when he'd left the country—to the right and took the Third Street exit into the island of glittering skyscrapers that was downtown. L.A. was made up of those dense clusters of tall buildings sticking up in the middle of the relatively flat residential neighborhoods around them, a landscape that was never so apparent as at night.

Downtown L.A. was the oldest and most decrepitly grand of those islands, and the Courier building was right in the middle of it.

It was always a thrill to drive up to the historic Art Deco building in the heart of downtown, lit up like a wedding cake at night, to drive under the building using her very own official parking card.

Barrie charged up the escalator from the garage and breezed past the huge decorative globe in the center of the domed lobby. Ten-foot-high murals towered above her—her cousins would say everything towered above her, but she had a long history of ignoring them.

She rode the decadent Deco elevator up to the sixth floor and felt her heart lurch a little as the ancient contraption jerked, then settled.

Something was up; she could tell from the second she stepped into the newsroom. The entire floor was buzzing.

Her reporter's mind scrolled through the possibilities.

Terrorist attack? Stock market crash? Assassination?

Or, seeing as this was L.A… .Celebrity death?

She grabbed the sleeve of the nearest scrambling reporter, tall, thin, redheaded Steve from Metro.

"What's going on?"

"Saul Mayo," Steve said breathlessly, and yanked his arm away.

Saul Mayo, head of World International Pictures, one of the town's six major movie studios.

"What about him?" Barrie demanded, turning to yell after him.

"Dead!" he called over his shoulder, and skittered away.

Barrie relaxed, at least as much as she ever relaxed. Not that it wasn't big news; in an industry town, a studio head in his relative prime dying was not just big news, it was huge.

But it wasn't the kind of news that she was in journalism to pursue. There was only one kind of story that interested her, and that was anything concerning the Others and the Otherworld.

Because Barrie, along with her cousins Rhiannon and Sailor Ann Gryffald, was a very new member of a very old tradition. They were Keepers, from a long line of Keepers, charged with an ancestral duty to guard and keep peace among the communities of vampires, shape-shifters, werewolves, Elven and all non-human beings—the Others, who lived all over the world, hiding in plain sight among mortal populations.

As anyone who knows anything about paranormal beings might guess, there was a large population of Others in Los Angeles. Just as mortals were lured by the shining promises of the city, so, too, were Others drawn here, some hoping to exercise their talents and find the spotlight as actors, musicians and other artists, some seeking protective camouflage in this famously eccentric town. There was a saying that "Everyone in California is from somewhere else." So not true; Barrie herself was a proud native Californian. But in a community of outsiders, no one looked twice at someone different, and that made Others relatively safe in their conspicuousness.

And almost since the first appearance of an Other, there had also been families born with the mark of certain beings, indicating their potential as Keepers: mortals with some of the powers of the beings they were marked with who could communicate and facilitate between the worlds.

Keepers were sworn to uphold the Code of Silence: to keep the secret of the existence of the Otherworld. And to that end, if there was trouble or outright crime in the Otherworld that threatened to spill over into the human world and expose the existence of the Others, it was the Keepers' duty to keep the peace—quietly.

Barrie had been waiting to take on that duty all her life. Even so, it had been a shock when it happened so quickly, just months ago, when her father and his two brothers, Keepers of the shifters, vampires and Elven of the L.A. canyon districts, were called to the newly established international Council of Keepers in the Netherlands. Barrie, Rhiannon and Sailor had suddenly been thrust into the Keeping of the Canyon.

Now, instead of the endless waiting and training, it was all real. Rhiannon and Sailor had already been instrumental in solving two recent cases, a series of murders committed by a power-mad vampire and the mystery of a rare blood disease killing off Elven.

Every morning—well, some days more like afternoon—since Barrie had taken the oath in front of the local Keepers' Council, she'd woken up with a fluttery feeling of exhilaration, almost like that feeling you get when you know you're going to meet… someone. It wasn't that she wanted trouble, or crime, of course not, but trouble was inevitable, and when it came, she would be ready for it.

Until just recently she'd been struggling along doing "filler" stories on the Courier, and in the current journalistic climate, with newspapers shutting down all over the country, she'd felt lucky to get those. But a piece she'd done on the string of vampire murders that her cousin Rhiannon and Rhiannon's now-fiance, LAPD homicide detective Brodie McKay, had solved, had not just solidified her job but moved her up to the crime beat.

Barrie's job on the paper perfectly complemented her Keeper duties. As a crime beat reporter—well, actually, crime beat stringer, but she would get there eventually—she was able to get a first look at police reports to scan them for Other-related crimes that needed immediate attention or intervention, to ensure that: 1) humans were not harmed by out-of-control Others, and 2) the Others and the Otherworld remained a secret from the human population of the city.

So, Saul Mayo the movie mogul, being a human, or formerly human, didn't interest her.

Good riddance, anyway, she thought uncharitably. Mayo hadn't been known for his humanitarian efforts.

She steered away from the swarm of her colleagues and was headed for the local crime editor's desk when she saw the one person she didn't want to see coming toward her.

Mick Townsend.

A newbie on the paper, and a thorn in Barrie's side from the instant he'd shown up. For one thing, jobs were scarce enough without extra competition. But that was only the start of it.

Townsend was waaay too good-looking to be a journalist, and too stylish, too. In a city of surreally gorgeous people, he was truly heart-stopping, if you liked men who were a combination of all the best parts of young Leo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.

Only movie stars were supposed to look like that; there was something almost preternaturally beautiful about him. Dark gold hair and green eyes under perfectly arched eyebrows, cheekbones that could cut glass. The way he held himself, that casually aristocratic elegance that was the territory of actors and, well, aristocrats…. He moved like a cat, strong as a panther and just as lithe. He was tall, too, which made Barrie glad she was wearing some serious heels—tonight, Chanel pumps to go with the little Balenciaga number she'd found in her favorite thrift store in Echo Park. Vintage was a particularly good look for her. People were smaller then, too.

Mick Townsend stopped right in her path, blocking her way and towering over her in an alarmingly commanding way. "Gryffald."

She put up all her defenses as she coolly replied, "Townsend," and was proud that she didn't blush.

"You're looking very Audrey Hepburn tonight," he said lazily, and looked her over, a direct examination that managed to be slow and sexy and aloof all at the same time, which didn't help her state of mind at all.

She sidestepped him and kept walking toward the crime editor's desk. Unfortunately, he turned and walked with her.

"A lady on the scent of a story, if I ever saw one."

"Looks like there's only one story tonight," she said, glancing at their huddled coworkers.

"Ah, yes. The Prince of Darkness. Requiescat in pace," Townsend added. Rest in peace.

But there was a bitter quality to his voice that belied his words, and made Barrie stop and look at him for a moment; it seemed more than mere journalistic cynicism, but some deeper feeling.

Interesting, she thought. I wonder what that's about?

"But that's not a story you're interested in," he said.

"No point. Even if he was murdered, they're not going to give it to a rookie like me," she answered innocently. "Enjoy your night."

She sidestepped him and continued to her boss's desk where she snagged the police blotter while he paced and talked on the phone a few desks down. She caught his eye and held up the blotter, and he nodded at her distractedly. Now that she'd checked in, her time was hers for the rest of the night.

She had a desk of her own in an anonymous row of desks, and she settled down at it with the blotter while her coworkers swarmed on the Mayo story.

Unfortunately, her hormones didn't settle down with her; her pulse was racing out of control from that brief encounter with Townsend.

What kind of name is Mick Townsend for a journalist, anyway? she thought irritably. It sounded more like a rock star. And she had a rule: no musicians, no actors. In L.A., that was simple survival.

But she didn't really think Townsend was an actor. She had darker suspicions: he was a spy from corporate, skulking around to find more people to give the ax. The newspaper would be all of three pages long by the time the suits were through with the bloodbath; it seemed neverending these days, the worst time in the world to be a journalist. She'd had to fight tooth and nail for the tiny bit of turf she had on the paper.

Fortunately, as a Keeper, she had more than a passing acquaintance with tooth and nail, or fang and claw, or just about any variation on the above. And bloodbaths, come to that. When a person dealt daily—or at least weekly—with the loves, lives, deaths and turf wars of vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, Elven and whatever supernatural creatures happened to present themselves, a little backbiting among journalists was small potatoes.

Well, okay, it wasn't the backbiting that was the problem this time, it was Townsend's charm.

Barrie really hated the fact that he made her uncomfortably aware that she hadn't had sex in…she didn't even want to think about it. Except that she was being forced to think of it—constantly. With Rhiannon engaged to Brodie McKay and Sailor newly engaged to nightclub owner Declan Wainwright, the House of the Rising Sun was a literal hotbed, licit though it might be. Barrie frowned and thought darkly, Might as well rename it House of the Rising—

All right, enough of that, she told herself, and forced herself to stare down at the police blotter.

The list of the night's crimes was already long: Burglary/Theft from Motor Vehicle. Grand Theft. Vandalism. Battery. And the usual collection of oddities: the owner of a La Brea Avenue business reported that someone tipped over a Porta Potty and attempted to break into a storage barn; a Vista Street woman reported a female who had delivered pizza to the address the night before had shown up at 2:00 a.m. with blood dripping from her nose and asking for money; a resident of Orange Grove Avenue reported an unknown person stole four solar lights and a garden gnome from his yard.

Barrie knew how to scan for potentially Other-related crimes; you developed a kind of sixth sense about it. But tonight it didn't take any special skill to find the case that she would need to look into; it jumped out at her from the reports as if it were lit up in neon:

Dead body in alley off Hollywood and Gower. Mixed race, late teens, street name Tiger. Suspected OD.

Barrie felt as if she'd been punched in the stomach.

She knew Tiger. Had known him. He was a street kid, a runaway, one of the eternal hopefuls who left their small towns and got on buses to Hollywood with big dreams of fame, fortune, love—and ended up turning tricks on the Boulevard instead.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams, they called it. You got that right, she thought, feeling a flare of anger and grief.

The Boulevard was part of her Keeper jurisdiction, so she spent a lot of time with the street kids. She was drawn to them, she ached for them, most of them running away from exploitation at home only to fall into the hands of the same kind of predator on the streets.

Meet the Author

ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF's debut ghost story, The Harrowing, was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. She also works as a screenwriter, and splits her time between Los Angeles, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina. She welcomes questions and comments at her website: http://alexandrasokoloff.com

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Keeper of the Shadows 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Kayaditi More than 1 year ago
Keeper of the Shadows is my 1st Nocturne book, as well as my first win on Goodreads. Read it in 24 hours. Yep, it was that fun. Even with it being the 3rd in L.A. Keepers series, I had no trouble following the story. Barrie is a journalist, but more importantly a Keeper. She helps keep the peace and the secrets of the Others; those who are vampire, shapeshifter, or elven, among other things. Herein lies the one confusion I had that may have been answered in the previous two stories: How does she do her job exactly? I like the idea that the Keepers have only a shadow of the power that the true Others have, but how do they keep from being offed by the first Other they oppose? Now, this is a romance genre story, and that is certainly in there, but it reads more like a suspenseful mystery. The focus is on solving the mysterious murder of a movie mogul and a street urchin. You're kept guessing right up to the very end, and I imagine many will find some surprising twists along the way. Our lead guy, Mick, starts out as a competing journalist. He's another mystery to solve. REST OF PARAGRAPH SPOILER ALERT. SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVEN'T READ!!! Who doesn't love the thought of a shape-shifting lover who can become damn near anybody. I mean, it's enough to make you put your book down and ponder... (clears throat-refocuses) I enjoyed the way the characters from the other books were involved just enough to interest me in their stories, but not so much that I felt I missed something. Also, there's good setup for a long-running epic-scale storyline if the series decides to go that route. A well-done balancing act. Overall, it was a dark Hollywood roller coaster ride where you're never sure whether to keep your eyes on the track or the hottie that sits beside you for the entire ride.
PhoenixSummer More than 1 year ago
A fun read by Alexandra Sokoloff, set amidst the movie industry in LA. I loved the characters, the story, the "other" worldliness of it. Very well done. Can't wait for the next book!
MadHatterReads More than 1 year ago
The Keepers: LA series is a terrific collaboration between authors Heather Graham, Harley Jane Kozak and Alexandra Sokoloff. Each author takes a turn writing about the Gryffald cousins, Rhiannon, Sailor, and Barrie as they settle into their new duties as Keepers of various Others in LA. Barrie uses her job as a crime beat reporter to keep an eye out for anything that might reveal the existence of the Otherworld. When a young shifter is found dead, she quickly realizes that there's more to his death than a tragic overdose. The more she digs, the more convinced she becomes that the death has something to do with a movie, Otherworld, and the tragedies that followed the movie fifteen years ago. Fellow journalist, Mick Townsend, agrees with Barrie's theory and suggests they team up to solve the case...only Mick seems to know more about the events, past and present, than he should. Keeper of the Shadows is fast paced page turner that keeps you guessing with all the twists and turns that it takes over the course of the book. I guessed correctly on how some of those twists would turn out, but others threw me for a loop...including who the ultimate identity of the killer was...I did not see that one coming! The chemistry between Barrie and Mick is hot but with Mick's secrets you just never know what's going to happen next in their relationship. I've enjoyed all of The Keepers: LA series, but Keeper of the Shadows is my favorite of the series to date and finishes the Gryffald cousins story. However, there is one more book in the series, Keeper of the Dawn by Heather Graham that comes out July 1, 2013 and is the story of Keeper Alessande Salisbrooke. I can't wait! I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Sailon More than 1 year ago
Warning: This book has some mind blowing twists, turns and unexpected revelations.  Barrymore (Barrie) Gryffald is the Keeper for Shapeshifters in LA. When one of her teenage charges, a street kid named Tiger, is found murdered Barry pulls out all the stops to find his killer. The same night Tiger is killed by an OD, another famous movie mogul is killed by the same drug found in Tiger system. The connection, the tragic murder of Tiger is surprisingly similar to a 15 yr old death of an famous teen movie star and Tiger just so happens to be able to shift into a dead ringer of this star...The movie was called Otherworld. Barrie keeps running into the gorgeous Mike Townsend, a fellow reporter, during her investigations. The physical connection is immediate, but his ability to discover detailed information about her investigation is worrisome.  As more people connected to the Otherworld movie begin to die, Barrie must decide who she can trust in a world where lies and face changes are the norm. This is a fantastic addition to The Keepers: LA series. Fast paced, action packed with more twist and turns than a rollercoaster, Keeper of The Shadows really was a spectacular read. Did I mention a hot but secretive Mick... Never knowing what might happen next, this story will keep you on the edge of your seat. This ARC copy of Kepper of the Shadows was given to me by Harlequin Nocturne in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication May 7, 2013.