Night Reigns (Immortal Guardians Series #2)by Dianne Duvall, Kirsten Potter
Ami isn't much for trusting strangers. She has a hard time trusting anyone. But she's no coward, and she's no pushover in the protection department either. So when she comes across a mysterious warrior taking on eight deranged vampires on his own, she doesn't hesitate to save his bacon. Of course, that was before she realized what one little rescue would get her
Ami isn't much for trusting strangers. She has a hard time trusting anyone. But she's no coward, and she's no pushover in the protection department either. So when she comes across a mysterious warrior taking on eight deranged vampires on his own, she doesn't hesitate to save his bacon. Of course, that was before she realized what one little rescue would get her into . . . Marcus Graden has been an Immortal protector of humanity for eight hundred years, and he's not interested in backup. From the moment Ami arrives in his life, he can't deny that she's strong, smart, and extremely skilled at watching his back. But she's also destroying his protective solitude and stirring desires he can't bear to awaken. After all, whatever her secrets—how can she defeat death itself?
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NIGHT REIGNSIMMORTAL GUARDIANS
By Dianne Duvall
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Leslie Duvall
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt was not the cool breeze that made the hairs on the back of Ami's neck rise, but the low bestial growl that accompanied it.
She froze, one arm extended in front of her, fingers tightening on the DVD case poised half-in half-out of the movie rental quick-drop slot. Gooseflesh broke out on her arms. Adrenaline surged through her veins and sped her pulse.
Swiveling to face the source of that disturbing warning, she surveyed the parking lot behind her and found it empty save for her shiny black Tesla Roadster. Orange and brown leaves swirled and tumbled across patched black asphalt that still glistened in places from a midnight shower. Whole Foods, Blockbuster, and the other businesses in the strip mall had long since closed for the night.
She glanced to her right. East Franklin Street was deserted ... as it should be. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was a college town. At roughly 3:20 on a Sunday night (or Monday morning), students and professors would be snug in their beds, catching Z's in preparation for an early start to the work or school week.
Ami relaxed her death grip on the DVD and let it thunk down atop the myriad of other movies and games that had been returned. She took a step toward her car. The growl sounded once more, seeming to buffet her and ruffle her bangs alongside the northerly wind. Deep and full of menace, it was not the complaint of some irritable house pet left too long in the elements. No dog produced this rumbling. Something larger did, bringing it closer in tone and texture to that of a lion or a tiger.
Another growl answered it, not as impressive as the first, but nevertheless disturbing. Then another. And another. And another. Frowning, Ami reached into her jacket, withdrew the Glock 9mm Seth insisted she always carry, and approached East Franklin Street with caution.
It definitely came from the north. Not from the darkened businesses across the street, but from the bike trail to their right that veered left into the trees behind them. A snarling infused with such violence and fury one might think a lion were battling a pack of wolves.
Just as she reached the edge of the parking lot, odd shick, ting, and clang noises joined the fray.
Ami darted across the street and raced down the bike path. Tall trees formed spires on her right. A small meadow with a radio tower lay on her left, but soon surrendered to forest. When it did, Ami slowed to a brisk walk and entered the denser shadows. Her heart pounded. The babbling of a brook she couldn't see teased her ears.
Ten or fifteen yards in, she left the path, headed into the trees, and began wading through the undergrowth. Fortunately, it had rained earlier. The autumn leaves beneath the canopy were still damp and muffled her footsteps.
Up ahead, small lights flickered like fireflies. Amber. Green. Blue. Silver. Sometimes individually. Sometimes in pairs. Moving and shifting. The length of time they remained visible varying.
Ami swallowed hard and questioned her sanity as she came to an area where the trees thinned. She paused, concealed by the denser foliage on the perimeter.
Ahead, too small to be called a clearing, lay a patch of land the size of a two-car garage that just happened to be treeless. In its center, a fantastical scene unfolded that— for many—would defy belief.
The flickering lights she had spied swam in and out of focus as the faces that housed them moved so quickly to and fro that they blurred. Men, who were clearly more than mortal men, engaged in a surreal battle that resurrected her first description: a lion facing down a wolf pack.
The lion—a dark, menacing figure in the center of the storm—bore glowing amber eyes and long black hair that floated around his head like tendrils of smoke as he spun, fought, and slashed at his attackers with a speed that brought to mind the Tasmanian Devil in the Warner Brothers cartoons Darnell had shown her.
No other creature could move so swiftly.
The pack of wolves—growling and snapping like their namesakes—also bore glowing eyes, theirs green, blue, and silver. Though they all, like the immortal, were garbed in midnight hues, their hair varied. Blond. Brunette. Auburn. Long. Short. Shaved. Spiked. Pulled back in a ponytail. They, too, moved faster than humans ever could, darting in and striking at the immortal with indistinct motions, then leaping back and pausing to gauge the damage and let their comrades have a shot, their blades dripping crimson liquid.
Though they couldn't match their enemy's speed and strength, the vampires outnumbered the immortal ... eight to one as best she could count. Ami could only make out individual features when the vampires paused between strikes.
She discerned none of the immortal's features because he remained in continuous motion, his swords or sais or whatever blades he wielded defending him from assaults on all sides.
Ami reached into her left pocket, palm sweating, and pulled out a cylindrical aluminum silencer that was longer than the Glock itself. Keeping her gaze on the conflict before her, she screwed it onto the barrel. The top-of-the-line suppressor would reduce the explosive expulsion of each hollow-point bullet to a mere click that would not rouse residents slumbering in the houses and townhouses beyond the trees.
Raising the Glock with her right hand, she supported it with her left and waited.
A blur of movement solidified into a blond vampire who halted—aqua eyes gleaming, bowie knives dripping—on the fringes of the pack.
Ami fired twice.
Blood sprayed from his carotid and femoral arteries. Dropping his weapons, the vampire emitted a garbled croak and clamped his hands to his neck in an attempt to cease the gush of his life's blood.
A vampire with shaggy brown hair appeared next to him.
Ami fired thrice more, striking the new vamp in his carotid, brachial, and femoral arteries.
All six remaining vampires stilled and glanced at their injured colleagues, who sank to their knees as they bled out faster than the virus that infected them could heal their wounds.
The Immortal Guardian paused and unerringly met Ami's gaze.
For one split second, her heart stopped, and everything around her fell away, out of focus, a dark void. All but the immortal.
His hair settled on his shoulders and tumbled halfway down his back and chest in wild disarray, concealing much of his face. His eyes, viewed through the tangles, glowed a vibrant amber beneath raven brows. Dark stubble covered a strong jaw spattered with spots and streaks of scarlet. His full lips parted, emitting great gasping breaths interspersed with the rumblings of a lion, and displayed white, glinting fangs.
It was, perhaps, one of the oddest moments of Marcus's existence.
Well, odd might not be the correct word. Vampires still moving in packs larger than twos or threes was odd. Vampires remaining lucid enough to organize the ambush he had plunged into was odd. At least, it had been up until a year and a half ago.
This was surprising.
And very little surprised Marcus Grayden.
Panting, losing blood from dozens of cuts and gashes that had not had time to heal before more were inflicted, he stared at the instigator of this fortuitous pause.
He had expected to see a Second decked out in black vampire-hunting togs. Instead, his fascinated gaze landed upon a sweet, undeniably feminine face with a halo of bright orange curls. Wide green eyes as vivid as emeralds peered out of concealing foliage and met his.
She was pretty. And small. And seemed to radiate innocence. Were it not for the weapon extended before her, he would wonder if he weren't imagining her.
Who was she? What was she doing here?
The clothing she wore labeled her a civilian—snug jeans, loose sweater, dark jacket—so why wasn't she screaming? Why didn't she shoot him? Why was she helping him instead of fleeing or firing at them all?
Marcus lacked the time to speculate further. He sensed the instant the six remaining vampires located the petite assassin and drew back his arm.
Ami watched the immortal swing a gleaming short sword at the vampire nearest him as all six vampires searched the trees for a glimpse of her. The head of a third vamp hit the ground at roughly the same moment Ami realized she had been spotted.
Sheer terror ripped through her, shocking her heart back into action and ramming it against her ribs in a panicked triple-tempo. Three of the five remaining vampires resumed their clash with the immortal. The other two turned their furious attention upon her.
Ami squeezed the trigger again and again and again, firing blindly into the blur their bodies became as they raced toward her. Or tried to race toward her. Hollow points did a lot of damage internally, bursting open like flower blossoms upon impact. And a semi-automatic could fire a lot of hollow points in a very short time.
Amy emptied the clip, filling the vamps' torsos with the ten remaining bullets. As the two vampires stumbled and hesitated, she ejected the clip and drew another from her pocket.
One vamp—head shaven—recovered faster than the other, leaping toward her with a feral sound as she slid the new clip into the grip.
An unfocused shape swept between them: the immortal, moving so fast the breeze created by his passing yanked the hair back from her face. The bald vampire, nearly upon her, bounced back as though he had hit a wall. Cuts seemed to open on his flesh spontaneously as the immortal's short swords flashed.
Shaken, Ami slammed the clip home, advanced a bullet into the chamber, and raised her weapon.
Two of the three vampires the immortal had been fighting had fallen. As the immortal halted, the two who had pursued her both fell, limp, to the ground. The sole surviving vampire took in the rapidly decomposing bodies of his companions and fled.
The Immortal Guardian turned to face her.
Ami swallowed hard and looked up at him. Way up at him. At six foot one or so, he towered over her own five feet. Her fear did not lessen, though she knew it should. Immortals were the good guys. Immortals had rescued her from the monsters who had locked her in a hell of their making. Immortals had taken her in, helped her regain her sanity, protected her, and given her a home.
But not before those monsters had done irreparable damage to her psyche.
Ami forced herself to lower her weapon, but could not lessen her grip on it or still her trembling.
The immortal studied her in silence. His clothing was torn in numerous places and wet with blood, both his and the vampires'. Though his hands still grasped short swords in loose, comfortable clasps, one arm hung at an odd angle.
"Are you injured?" he asked. His voice, soft and deep, carried a British accent.
Unable to find her own, she shook her head.
"You know what I am, what they are," he commented, motioning to the deceased vampires with a tilt of his head.
"Yes," she squeezed past her tight throat. "Are you . . . are you all right?"
He nodded and glanced in the direction of the fleeing vampire. "I've one more to take care of."
"Do you want me to call in reinforcements?"
A wicked smile curled his lips as he began walking backward in the direction of his prey. "And spoil my fun? No, thank you."
Something about that smile, the dark anticipation that filled his handsome features, produced a flutter of butterfly wings in her belly.
"Am I correct in assuming you're a Second?"
She opened her mouth to respond in the negative.
Seconds were humans who worked with immortals and protected them during the daylight hours when they had to scorn the sun. All were very carefully screened to ensure their loyalty and underwent extensive martial arts and weapons training. They were also a lot like Secret Service agents and wouldn't hesitate to give their lives to save that of their Immortal Guardian ... which was why Seconds were almost always male. Apparently most immortals tended to be old-fashioned and found the idea of a woman's sacrificing her life for them too unpalatable to bear.
The sudden bleating of her cell phone made Ami jump and snap her mouth shut.
She fumbled for the phone.
The immortal looked over his shoulder, his eagerness to begin the chase evident.
When she glimpsed the caller ID, Ami barely suppressed a groan. "Go ahead," she urged the immortal and waved to the bodies of the vampires, which were shriveling up as the parasitic virus that infected them devoured them from the inside out in a desperate bid to live. "I'll take care of this."
Ami brought the phone to her ear and answered in as normal a voice as she could produce after the past nerve-wracking few minutes. "Hi, Seth."
The immortal's eyebrows flew up. No doubt his preternaturally enhanced hearing had allowed him to listen to the bass-baritone greeting of the leader of the Immortal Guardians ... as well as the affection that laced it.
"You're late. Where are you?" Seth continued.
"I, ah ..." Ami surveyed the bloody clearing, considered how assiduously Seth guarded her safety, and thought it best not to worry him. "I ... just stopped to return the movies Darnell and I rented last night."
A grin split the immortal's face, evoking such an appealing transformation that Ami could only stare, speechless.
Apparently reassured by her acquaintance with Seth and Darnell (the Second of one of the most powerful immortals) and titillated by her evasion of Seth's question, he winked, offered her a cocky salute with the sword in his uninjured arm, then seemed to vanish into thin air as he took off after the vampire who had gotten away.
The tension that she hadn't realized had tightened nearly every muscle in her body disappeared with him, leaving her with an almost light-headed, giddy feeling.
"Everything all right, Ami?"
"Everything's fine," she said and meant it.
Not only had she managed to confront a stranger—a strange man—without giving in to the panic that usually consumed her in such instances and either fleeing in terror or dissolving into a pathetic, quivering lump; she had actually helped said stranger defeat the group of vampires who had attacked him.
Jubilation laced with tremendous relief flooded her. Seth was right. She really was getting better. Those monsters hadn't broken her.
"I'm fine," she repeated, so happy now she could've danced. "Sorry I'm running late. I'll be there as soon as I can."
"All right. Be careful."
"I will," she chirped and returned the phone to her pocket with a grin. Unscrewing the silencer, she dropped it in her pocket and slipped the Glock into its holster.
As she left the trees and approached the decomposing vampires, her grin turned into a grimace. Blech. She had never before witnessed what happened to vampires when they were destroyed. The scent resembled that of an overflowing city Dumpster on a hot summer day. The vampires she had shot had disintegrated completely, leaving only empty bloody clothing and weapons. The others were rapidly decaying, shriveling up like mummies, then collapsing in on themselves like balloons having the air sucked out of them.
A slight shudder shook her.
Did this happen to immortals, too, when they were destroyed?
Vampires and immortals were both infected with the same rare virus that first conquered, then replaced their immune system. It leant them greater strength, speed, and longevity, healed their wounds at an accelerated rate, and kept them from aging. All good things. But infection with the virus also left them with an unfortunate photosensitivity and a sort of severe anemia.
Immortals and vampires, however, differed in one very significant way: immortals had been something more than human even before the virus had transformed them.
Born with far more advanced and complex DNA than ordinary humans, they called themselves gifted ones ... at least before their transformation. They didn't know why they differed genetically from humans. They knew only that the thousands of extra DNA memo groups they possessed bestowed upon them wondrous gifts and talents others lacked and enabled their bodies to mutate the virus that infected them, eliminating the more corrosive aspects.
Excerpted from NIGHT REIGNS by Dianne Duvall Copyright © 2011 by Leslie Duvall. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA 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.
Meet the Author
Kirsten Potter has won AudioFile Earphones Awards for her reading of The Snowball by Alice Schroeder and her performance as Barbara in George Bernard Shaw's Major Barbara. Her reading of Madapple by Christina Meldrum was a Booklist Editors' Choice for Best Audiobook 2008.
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Review by Shannon: If you read Darkness Dawn, the first book in the Immortal Guardians series, you will remember Marcus. He helped Roland and Sarah by letting them stay in one of his houses, but was always very morose. We had learned then that he was mourning the leaving of the woman he loved, Bethany, six years prior. When this book begins, it¿s 18 months later and Marcus is still mourning. Mourning and missing his best friend, knowing that she¿s with the people she loved. But Marcus is not in a good place. So when Seth assigns him a Second and it¿s the small red-haired woman who helped him during a fight with eight vampires, he¿s irritated and suddenly having feelings he didn¿t know he was still capable of feeling. We were also introduced to Ami in Darkness Dawns. She was rescued by Seth, David and Darnell when they broke her out of a research facility where she was being tortured. They were able to find her because she was telepathically screaming out in pain and terror. They saved her, but you had to wonder if the small, quiet woman would ever be able to recover. Fast forward two years and this is where Night Reign picks up. Ami is now out and about, living a somewhat normal life. She¿s still terrified to be in a room with people she doesn¿t know and she absolutely do not trust doctors or labs, but she¿s moving forward. When she senses a fight happening not far from the video rental machine she was at, she investigates and immediately senses and Immortal Guardian in need of help. She assists with her guns and then leaves when she¿s able to. What Ami doesn¿t realize is that Immortal Guardian is soon going to be her assignment. Seth, the leader of the Immortal Guardians, brings Ami to Guardian Marcus Greydon¿s house. No one is more surprised than Marcus when Seth announces that Ami is going to be his Second. He¿s done giving Marcus any leeway with his grieving for Bethany, so he¿s instituting the rule that every Guardian has a second, which includes Marcus. Marcus tries to fight having Ami in his house, because having her there stirs up feelings he didn¿t think he could feel anymore. But when Ami shows up to save him twice during a fight, he realizes that having her at his back feels right. But soon those feelings grow to something more than friendship and appreciation and Marcus begins to question if he can follow those feelings with a woman he knows he¿ll only have for a short period of time. Marcus, Ami and the rest of the Immortal Guardians are soon in fight with vampires as someone new, the Vampire King, has taken over and is attempting to organize an army. But what that army wants comes into question when Ami realizes that drugs that are being used on Guardians during fights are the same as what was used on her when she was captured. Soon the Guardians are closing ranks to protect their own and determine who exactly is involved.
Ami witnesses an Immortal Guardian being attacked by vampires. Since I haven¿t read the first book in this series I was wondering why Ami knows about these supernaturals and also why she is carrying a Glock with a silencer. We are given a brief history lesson about the supes and it is given in a way as not to detract for the storyline and the reader is not bombarded with information but given enough to make the story flow. The second installment introduces us to Marcus¿s story and brings back Ami from book one. Marcus has noticed that there is rise in the vampire attacks and that they have been organized which is highly unusually. Seth, the leader of the Guardians, sends Ami to be Marcus¿ Second much to the dismay of Marcus. Ami too is not too happy with this arrangement. Both have been betrayed before and are not trusting of many people. As they help each other they find that maybe they can trust again but first Ami must share the secret that only she and Seth know. There are many characters that the reader becomes involved with and to review them all would take pages. Trust me when I say that if you enjoy anything my J.R. Ward or Laurell K. Hamilton, you will not be disappointed in Dianne Duvall¿s series. A lot of twists and turns make this a fantastic thriller that will leave you panting for more. There is never a lull in the story and the reader is instantly transported into the supernatural world that Duvall has created. The reader wants to know and experience everything that the characters do. I have officially found a series that I love as much as I love J.R. Ward¿s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
I loved this book.. honestly I believe that I loved this book more than the first one Darkness Dawns! This one is about Marcus who is as close a best friend as possible to Roland (from DD). Ami who we learn is the mystery girls name from DD is the heorine in this book! We find out so much that was left hanging from the first book. We know what Ami is, what SETH is!!!!! You have got to read this book if you like Darkness Dawns! It was so good! I just finished it about an hour ago. Some of the plot reminded me of Stargate SG1! which is the best sci-fi show ever! and I couldn't read it fast enough. Funny, suspenseful, on the edge of your seat action! and the "romance" scenes... hello!?! absolutely fabulous! I will def read this book again and again.. I have to say it is one of my top 5 paranormal romance reads.. now I'm hoping that we get another book maybe w/ some more on Seth? Bastien? and David???? totally love Seth! Hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!!!
Ok two days and two books and on the third day, let there be reviews. Yes, I have done nothing but devour these two novels. I have been captured by this amazing new universe and I am officially in love with the characters. They feel like friends that I could cherish forever. Yes, I will admit I love my fictional characters. I know I¿m not the only one out there that would love some Hunters or Brothers. If you are like me, you know EXACTLY who I am talking about, so no mocking. Marcus has lived a long time, over eight hundred years. In that time, he has loved only one woman, Bethany, a woman that was destined to never be his, but to eternally break his heart. In his whole existence there has only been her. Having her in his life platonically, not once but twice, was all he could ever have. Now he has lost her for the last time, eight years ago. His chance to ever find love has disappeared forever. All that changed the moment he set his eyes on a fiery red head that had talent with a gun and the ability to set his pulse racing. Not unfamiliar with the world of vampires and Guardians, Amitiska, ¿Ami¿, isn¿t surprised when she comes upon a scene of chaos, an Immortal Guardian taking on eight vampires. What does surprise her is the awestruck brilliance of the man himself; long dark hair, vibrant amber eyes, and full sensual lips. She is left speechless. Too bad it won¿t be the first or the last time in one night for her. She is shocked again later that night when she is assigned to be his Second, a human personal assistant and guard for an individual immortal. Wow, she didn¿t see that coming! Attack after attack, Marcus and Ami begin to work together in synchronicity and harmony. Too bad their inner feelings are getting in the way. Both are falling for each other and are unable to control the new urges that are burning within them. Ami is constantly surprising Marcus with her abilities and courage. She is more than she appears, but she is terrified to lose him to the truth. Can they build a relationship that will last forever if she is not able to trust him with who and what she is? Ms. Duvall has actually improved from the first story, and I gave Darkness Dawns a 5 star rating. So what does that make this one, a 5++ star story? She is keeping it exciting by revealing some secrets but not all of them. Truthfully I am not sure if I love that or not. The ¿long story¿ still has not been exposed, but a bit more is known. Seth, the leader of the Immortal Guardians, is a mystery that will likely not be uncovered anytime soon too, but we did get a glimpse of his background. Ms. Duvall you are such a tease, but a very good one! This woman can¿t write fast enough for me. We need to form a posse and catch her and tie her to her desk and make her get busy. You hear that Ms. Duvall ¿ chop, chop. From online posts it doesn¿t look like we will get another novel until October 2012, *sob*. But please don¿t let that stop you from reading this awesome series. Just think of how many times you can reread and enjoy the boys by next fall. I mean seriously, this will be a repeat read for me. A keeper all the way!
Her first book, Darkness Dawns, was so great that I didn't think she could top it. I was wrong, this book not only meets but exceeds her first book. I couldn't wait to find out who Ami was and Marcus was such a sad hero in book one that it was wonderful seeing his code of honor being rewarded in this book. I read Night Reigns straight through and then re-read it ensuring I didn't miss anything the first time thru. It was even better on the second read. Don't miss this series and author, Dianne Duvall will be liked for her books as Christine Feehan and others of this ilk are loved. She has adopted everything we have ever read about vampires and shook the bag and her Immortal Guardians fell out giving us a new author and series to cherish.
This was a wonderful read I couldn't put down.i would totally recommend it
I read the first book of the immortal gurdians and fell in love with Roland & Sarah. I was glad to read that this next book would feature Marcus & Ami who were both introduced in the first book. I would highly reccomend these books.
I've read the 1st book 3 times and i loved it.
Wow! This is really turning out to be an interesting story. I didn’t see the new plot twists coming at all. I really enjoyed Marcus in the first book, DARKNESS DAWNS, so I’m glad he got top billing in NIGHT REIGNS. Ami is an intriguing heroine who I’ve rooted for from the very beginning. So glad they got their happily ever after. What I find so fascinating about this series is the overall story that is developing throughout all the books. Ms. Duvall gives the reader just enough hints to tantalize, but not enough to solve the puzzles. I’m so curious to see where she takes this series as a whole and the surprises she has in store for the reader. What a great different take on the vampire/immortal genre. Focused. Strong. True.
This is one if the best books I've read in a long time
Fantastic Series!! A must read!
Good read, yet a bit heavy on the author's environmental views. Towards the last few chapters there were some holes or plot jumps that made me feel like I skipped a few pages when I didn't. Overall I would still recommend the book with those warnings attached. I liked the unique twist surrounding Ami's character.
Gorgeous Guardians! Left me wanting more!