Lure of the Wicked (Dark Mission Series)

Lure of the Wicked (Dark Mission Series)

4.5 4
by Karina Cooper

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“A brilliant new voice in paranormal romance.”
New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd

“Karina Cooper is a wickedly wonderful storyteller. Lure of the Wicked is an intriguing tale spun full of action, hard hits, and steamy scenes that will keep you up late into the night.”
New York

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“A brilliant new voice in paranormal romance.”
New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd

“Karina Cooper is a wickedly wonderful storyteller. Lure of the Wicked is an intriguing tale spun full of action, hard hits, and steamy scenes that will keep you up late into the night.”
New York Times bestselling author Jocelynn Drake

Karina Cooper is a brilliant new star in the firmament of paranormal romance, joining the ranks of J. R. Ward, Kresley Cole, Kim Harrison, and Charlaine Harris. With Lure of the Wicked, she returns to the dark and sensual world she created in her phenomenal debut, Blood of the Wicked—a world of witches and witch hunters, and hot, irresistible desires. Her second Dark Mission novel combines steaming passion with the thrilling pleasures of urban fantasy, as Cooper’s sets a beautiful agent of a repressive future Inquisition on the trail of a handsome, secretive ex-operative gone rogue, in a story that is sure to enthrall every True Blood fan.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A futuristic Seattle devastated by witchcraft and run by a tyrannical Christian church is the setting for this fast-paced but muddled follow-up to June's Blood of the Wicked. Hotheaded witch hunter Naomi Ishikawa West reluctantly poses as a spoiled heiress at a lavish spa to stake out a man who murdered two church officials. She soon connects with Phinneas Clarke, the son of the hotel's owners, who secretly runs an "underground railroad" to help accused witches. As the romance between the two heats up and a killer closes in, Naomi is forced to reckon with her painful past and a love that may destroy both her job and her life. While Cooper's writing is snappy and her characters likable and dynamic, the supposedly postapocalyptic setting is vague, and the details of Naomi's Japanese heritage are uncomfortably stereotypical. (July)
RT Book Reviews (4 stars)
“Cooper continues to do a wonderful job of building an alternate universe with interesting and unique characters. The romance is steamy and the story is full of fast-paced action. This series has everything a reader will love.”
(4 stars) - RT Book Reviews
"Cooper continues to do a wonderful job of building an alternate universe with interesting and unique characters. The romance is steamy and the story is full of fast-paced action. This series has everything a reader will love."
Cherry Adair
Karina Cooper has built a world on the ashes of the one we know. BLOOD OF THE WICKED scared me, thrilled me and made me fall in love with the characters. I want more and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!
New York Times Best-Selling Author - Christina Dodd
"A brilliant new voice in paranormal romance."
New York Times Best-Selling Author - Jocelynn Drake
"Karina Cooper is a wickedly wonderful storyteller. Lure of the Wicked is an intriguing tale spun full of action, hard hits, and steamy scenes that will keep you up late into the night."
New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd
“A brilliant new voice in paranormal romance.”
New York Times bestselling author Jocelynn Drake
“Karina Cooper is a wickedly wonderful storyteller. Lure of the Wicked is an intriguing tale spun full of action, hard hits, and steamy scenes that will keep you up late into the night.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Dark Mission Series
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Lure of the Wicked

A Dark Mission Novel
By Karina Cooper


Copyright © 2011 Karina Cooper
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780062046901

Chapter One

Naomi West was a damn good missionary. Her
Mission file lauded her as one of the best witch
hunters in New Seattle.
Nice to know that the Holy Order of St. Dominic
had faith in her. At the very least, her fellow Mission
operatives thought she was hot shit.
If they only knew what crawled under her skin and
sent her heart pounding hysterically within the cage of
her ribs, they'd yank her off the streets faster than a
bullet to the head.
The voice in her ear faded and she tucked a finger
against the tiny comm speaker. Alan Eckhart's voice
sharpened into crystal clarity as he continued to outline
the operation specs. The team briefing after the Mission
briefing. Blah, blah, fucking blah.
Naomi's muscles vibrated, taut with strain as she
listened to the team lead drone while studying the
panoramic view from the top floor of her lavish hotel suite.
She touched the surface of the floor-to-ceiling windows,
her fingers silhouetted to shadow by October's
dying sun. It turned the thick smog blanketing the lower
levels to burnished fire, seeped into the rat-infested shit hole
that was New Seattle's barely civilized foundation,
and vanished in the ever-present miasma. Most of the
metropolis was too far below her to see, but Naomi
didn't have to see it to recall the acrid stink of rotting
Anxiety, thick and vicious, curled in her throat as
she turned away.
"Look, I don't care what the Mission says," she said
into the tiny mic inset into her ear. "I am not going to
be stuck up here forever. This is bullshit."
"A week, tops." Eckhart's voice aimed for soothing.
It scraped over Naomi's raw nerves like a serrated
knife. "If I'm lucky," she muttered.
"You don't have to be lucky, Nai, you're good."
Good, nothing. She was trapped. Stripped of her
piercings, scrubbed and buffed, wrapped in designer
clothing, and locked behind the walls of a gilded
fucking cage.
"I'm better than good," she told him flatly. Not ego.
"Exactly. Which is why you were chosen."
Give me a fucking break. "Aside from the security
check coming in, I'm not seeing much by way of
surveillance. I told you, anyone could do this job."
Eckhart chuckled. Or choked, she wasn't sure.
"Of course there isn't major surveillance, Nai. It's
a spa," he replied dryly. In the background, she heard
the familiar white noise of the mid-low Mission offices.
Where she should be right now.
Where she desperately wanted to be. She took a deep
breath, held it for a long moment before easing it out on
a carefully modulated sigh. "I still don't see why Parker
couldn't get someone else to play dress-up."
"No one with your credentials." It came out a sigh.
No matter how many times they'd had this argument,
she wasn't going to eat it any easier. She grimaced,
opening her mouth, but he cut her off. Wheedling, for
fuck's sake. "Come on, Naomi. It's not exactly a
maximum security prison."
It might as well have been. She turned, saw
sumptuous furnishings and bold color, and closed her eyes
against the insistent pressure in her head.
It was as if she'd gone back in time. Only she wasn't
a child. And her name hadn't been Naomi Ishikawa for
almost twenty-five years.
Except now it was again. Because the Mission said so.
She flinched. "Shit fuck."
"You're so pretty when you go blue." Eckhart sighed
again. "All right, give me the rundown on the place."
Naomi's fist clenched over the hard metal of the
comm. "The city to grounds elevator takes eight minutes
to get to the top. Surveillance is minimal and discreet,
but hard to hide with all the glass. One camera at the
lobby doors, one camera in the main elevator inside the
resort, and that's it. The lobby's full of money and empty
of people. Eckhart, I need those goddamn blueprints."
The man whistled a distinctive three-note tune.
"Jonas is still working on it. Says the blueprints are
locked up tight."
"Dunno, but smells like money or politics to me.
Probably both."
"Great," she snarled. She shoved her free hand
through the glossy strands of her black hair, took the
three steps to the divan, and turned. "What you're
saying is that the Church doesn't have a legitimate in,
which is why they whored me up and sent me up here."
It lashed out, a vicious whip of anger too sharp even to
her own ears. She jammed a thumb and forefinger into
her eye sockets, squeezed them shut until the pressure
ate away at the light searing the inside of her skull.
Politics. Goddamn politics.
"What I'm saying is—" Eckhart began sharply, only
to cut himself off. She knew why. It was another old
argument, one that they circled like wary dogs. He
lowered his voice; his version of soothing. "Look, not
everything can be handled with a gun and an attitude."
Except Naomi knew he was wrong. Almost anything
could be handled by just that, and right now, she was
missing one half of the fucking equation.
Naomi paced to the window again, already knowing
what she'd see as the setting sun sank toward the
smudged horizon. A shimmering pool of polluted air
ate at the dark spaces long since gathered between the
towering skyscrapers. It hid the filth, the desperation,
the shoulder-to-shoulder chaos that lived—no, that
existed miles below her.
She was anonymous down there. Unknown, a damn
good witch hunter in a team of them.
But up here, she was just a tool of the Church who
had run the show since the earthquake had eaten the
old city. Fifty years of guidance, of planning, had raised
New Seattle from the ashes of the old ruins. Fifty years
of powerful Church support had installed the Mission
to a place of prominence; each operative was trained
from childhood to protect humanity from the murderous
practitioners of the witchcraft that had killed
hundreds of thousands of innocent people in one
devastating sweep.
Naomi had been a missionary for over twenty years,
and she still didn't play the political game. That was
why she was just an agent, and not a team lead. Or a
desk jockey, like the director.
She was an operative.
A killer.
And Naomi liked it better when she could pull out
her gun—which she didn't fucking have—and get to
work the way she worked best.
"Whatever," she said tautly as she whipped around
and stalked back to the fancy sofa, "can we just get to
the part where you get me a gun?"
He whistled again. The three-note tune that said he
was working it out. That it was complicated. "Nai," he
said slowly, "what's going on?"
"It's a rich-bitch haven—"
"No," he cut in. The sound of voices faded in the
background. His voice lowered. "I don't mean right this
second, I know you hate topside. I mean, what's going
on with you? You were in jail when we went looking
for you."
She snorted. Trading one jail cell for another didn't
warrant any kind of gratitude. Pitted cement walls or
sleek wallpapered hallways, it was all the same to her.
Naomi dropped her hand, stared at the sectioned,
gilt-framed mirror hanging over the polished snowy
marble fireplace and didn't recognize the naked face
staring back at her. Lavish mouth, high cheekbones
sharp enough to cut, straight black hair without a trace
of the electric blue streaks she'd worn until yesterday.
No piercings.
God, she missed her piercings.
Aside from the crusted scab slashing diagonally over
her nose, she looked rich. Pampered. Soft.
She looked like her mother.
It was enough to send her pacing again. Windows to
sofa, sliding bedroom door, and back to the sofa.
Damn the Mission. Damn the new Mission director
who'd decided that locking her up behind the polished
doors of New Seattle's premier resort and spa was the
only answer to a problem they'd all decided was going
to be hers.
And damn the panic riding her so hard, it hummed
like an electrical current inside her chest.
Abruptly Naomi sank to the arm of the sofa. "Alan,"
she said wearily, "why the fuck am I here? Joe Carson
isn't a witch, he's a missionary. Why do I have to
execute him?"
"Joe Carson isn't your average missionary, Nai. You
remember that mess with Smith? Imagine if he'd
survived long enough to go rogue."
Ice pooled at the base of her spine.
It had been only three months. Three goddamn
months since the missionary she'd first known as a boy
in a godforsaken orphanage had turned on them.
Turned on her.
Missionary Silas Smith and his witch lover had gone
up in smoke, caught in an inferno set by a coven of
witches deep in the ruins of Old Seattle. There hadn't
been anything more than rubble and charred,
unrecognizable flesh by the time the Mission had gotten
through the chaos.
The new Mission director had some serious questions
to answer, and another rogue agent on her turf
wasn't going to help her do it.
Naomi pressed her fingers to the front of her designer
jeans, to the spot low on her abdomen where the seal of
St. Andrew lay dormant. Protective.
An early warning signal that arced with blue flame
when witchcraft was used on her, calling on the holy
energies of St. Andrew to combat whatever malicious
intent a witch's magic would cause. Which came in
handy when she was on a mission to kill witches.
There were no witches here to kill.
She rose again, strode past the decorative awning
that separated the bedroom from the parlor, and
surveyed the too-large bed with its lavender and gold silk
bedspread. Her nose wrinkled. "The sooner I do this,
the sooner I'm out, right?"
Relief tinged his voice as he replied, "Right."
"And little Miss Parker isn't planning some sort of
bullshit extended operation?"
"Director Adams knows how much you don't like
this op, Nai," Eckhart said, correcting her with a sigh.
"You made that extremely clear. Just get the job done,
and you're out."
"Okay, lay it on me."
"Joe Carson is a murderer."
"So am I."
He hesitated, just a fraction of a second. It was
enough. Her mouth twisted in edged, cutting humor.
"It's different," he finally said. "Carson's wanted for
the murder of two Church officials and four civilians,
and he's a suspect in the disappearance of Mission
She frowned. "Wait a damn minute, this wasn't in
the briefing. Mission evidence? Was our vault
"No, thank God, not ours. We don't keep anything
really dangerous there, anyway," he said. "The director's
headquarters got hit sometime last week and they
only just found the breach. Be glad you weren't there
yesterday. Adams damn near froze the place out."
"Nothing pulling the stick out won't fix," Naomi
muttered. She rolled her eyes when he cleared his throat
in pointed reprimand.
She didn't have to like Director Parker Adams, but
she did have to work with her. For her.
"Sorry," she added. "What was taken?"
"Let's see. Some old newspaper clippings and a pot
full of odds and ends. Pre-quake junk, as far as we could
"Helpful. I still think instead of hunting him, we
should just bring him in for processing."
"Not our call."
"But if his team had done their job—"
"Again, Nai, his local missionaries tried. As soon as
the flag landed on his file, he vanished."
And they couldn't process what they couldn't find.
Naomi grimaced. No one knew what processing
really meant, but the rumors persisted. Everything from
chemical lobotomy to brainwashing; torture disguised
as cleansing to simple disposal.
Dangerous, heretical rumors. The Church didn't like
rumors. Or questions it couldn't answer.
"This has been going on awhile. A missionary doesn't
just wake up one day and decide to murder six people."
"Doesn't matter. Get your attitude together and do
what needs to be done. They're watching you, Nai."
"Fuck off."
"I'm serious." Eckhart hesitated. "Naomi, you've
been flagged by the Church for surveillance."
Flagged. Like Joe Carson.
Anger wrapped itself into a tangle, a knot of fury and
sudden fear. Naomi blew out a hard, laughing breath.
"Well, that's great. Guess I'll run off and murder for
them some more."
"Jesus, Nai, don't say that. That's the kind of stuff
you're always getting in trouble for. The only thing
saving your ass right now is your success record. You're
a damn good missionary, but you've been pushing it
and you know it."
Translated, if she didn't toe the line this time, she'd
be out on her ass, no matter how fucking good she was
at what she did.
Same old song and dance. "Whatever," she said
not bothering to try for sincere. She turned away from
the pile of luggage that stored a fortune in exclusive

clothing and stalked back out of the bedroom. "What
I meant was, I should go tend to this mission that the
Holy Order of St. Dominic has found to be necessary
and just."
Eckhart paused. She could practically hear him
grinding his teeth. "Naomi. You're cracking at the
seams. Get it together, or you're going to get us all
"I'll be in touch as soon as I've got something
worthwhile to report."
"Understand this." Naomi tucked her index finger
against the tiny black mic at her ear, pushed it in closer
so that he couldn't possibly miss a single note. "One
way or another, I'm going to put a bullet in this
shitfucker's brain. When I get out of here, I'm going to get
my piercings back and get laid." She smiled at his snort.
"You are welcome to come along for either."
"You need help, West."
"Yeah. Get me a Beretta."
"I'll see what we can arrange," he said, and didn't
waste his time saying good-bye.
As the line clicked off in her ear, she gave in to the
fury licking at her every breath. She tossed the palm
sized unit savagely across the room. It rebounded off
the brocade settee, thudded to the carpet.
It didn't make her feel better.
Watched. She was being watched by her own fucking
Smoothing her hair back over her shoulders, she
yanked her crumbling concentration firmly back into
focus. It didn't matter what Carson was. Missionary,
witch, or other.
The Church said kill.
She'd get right on it.
She took one step toward the bedroom and froze as
the oiled metal doors of the suite elevator hissed


Excerpted from Lure of the Wicked by Karina Cooper Copyright © 2011 by Karina Cooper. Excerpted by permission of Avon. 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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What People are saying about this

Jocelynn Drake
“Karina Cooper is a wickedly wonderful storyteller. Lure of the Wicked is an intriguing tale spun full of action, hard hits, and steamy scenes that will keep you up late into the night.”
Cherry Adair
Karina Cooper has built a world on the ashes of the one we know. BLOOD OF THE WICKED scared me, thrilled me and made me fall in love with the characters. I want more and I can’t wait to see what she writes next!
Christina Dodd
“A brilliant new voice in paranormal romance.”

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Lure of the Wicked 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Most people would be thrilled to be a part of a fancy spa. Especially when the spa is not coming out of their own pocket money-wise. But not Naomi. In fact, she'd almost have to say that's a worse fate than prison itself. It's part of her job, though, and she can't really refuse. So this not so ladylike woman gets all dolled up and enters the world of luxury and rich people. Totally not her thing! Naomi is the kind of woman you don't want to anger, or confront in a dark alley at night. She's a "kick butt and take names" kind of gal. She's sassy, snarky, and tough. But really, underneath the rough exterior she wears, there's a hurt woman deep inside....not that she's going to tell that to anyone, but as the book goes on, I noticed that. There's a bit of a soft spot underneath her sarcasm and sharp tongue, especially when it comes to Phinneas Clarke, the man whose family owns and runs Timeless. Phin is a phenomenal hero, one that matches Naomi's wits. There is so much he doesn't know about Naomi, yet he's completely smitten with her, despite the way she pushes him away and denies attraction to him. He also knows that she doesn't seem very comfortable or fit in at the spa. Talk about a woman that's all wound up! In this dazzling book from Karina Cooper, I found an absolute gem. This books has twists and turns that kept me reading late at night when I really should have been catching up on sleep. The world this author creates, blending the paranormal into a contemporary setting has me begging for more. It's hot, wit, and just full of fun. Keep your eye on this author, I have a feeling with books like this, she's going to be around for a long time! If you enjoy a paranormal romance with a heroine who won't soon be forgotten, a plot that's fresh and fun, and a thrill ride that may have you feeling just the way I did when I finished this book, then rush to get your own copy of Lure of the Wicked. Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
harstan More than 1 year ago
In New Seattle Holy Order of St. Dominic witch hunter Naomi Ishikawa West reluctantly agrees to pretend to be an heiress at the luxurious Timeless spa. She hates her mission of surveillance of a man who murdered two church officials because to Naomi this assignment feels like the missionary prison the Church took her out of. At Timeless, Naomi rushes from the elevator into spa owner Phinneas Clarke's arms; where she almost ruined his family jewels with a knee lift. He conceals his family secrets and his witch rescuing underground activity behind the respectability of Timeless. However, naïve nice Naomi has him wondering if there is more to life under the church's tyranny. The latest Dark Mission futuristic romantic urban fantasy (see Blood of the Wicked) is an exciting thriller with a strong cast anchored by the lead couple. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Naomi knees Phinneas and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although the post apocalyptic world of Cooper is not further enhanced from the setting of Blood of the Wicked even with a stop in Old Seattle, sub-genre fans will appreciate this exhilarating tale. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago