Razielby Kristina Douglas
She was just an ordinary mortal . . .
“You’re dead” is so not what Allie Watson wants to hear./i>/b>/b>
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Kristina Douglas’s sexy new series introduces a realm of fallen angels and ruthless demons, where an eternal rebellion is brewing . . . and one unsuspecting woman can change the fate of the Fallen forever.
She was just an ordinary mortal . . .
“You’re dead” is so not what Allie Watson wants to hear. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like the dark, angelically handsome man who ferried her to this strange, hidden land. The last thing she remembers is stepping off a curb in front of a crosstown bus. Now she’s surrounded by gorgeous fallen angels with an unsettling taste for blood—and they really don’t want her around. Not exactly how she pictured heaven.
. . . until death catapulted her into a seductive world she never imagined.
Raziel is unsure why he rescued Allie from hellfire against Uriel’s orders, but she stirs in him a longing he hasn't felt in centuries. Now the Fallen are bracing for the divine wrath brought by his disobedience, and they blame Allie for the ferocious Nephilim clawing at the kingdom’s shrouded gates. Facing impossible odds at every turn, the two must work together to survive. Raziel will do anything to defend his spirited lover against the forces of darkness—because Allie may be the Fallen’s only salvation.
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I WAS RUNNING LATE, WHICH WAS NO surprise. I always seemed to be in a rush—there was a meeting with my editors halfway across Manhattan, I had a deposit to make before the end of the business day, my shoes were killing me, and I was so hungry I could have eaten the glass and metal desk I’d been allotted at my temp job at the Pitt Foundation.
I could handle most of those things—I was nothing if not adaptable. People were used to my tendency to show up late; the secretary over at MacSimmons Publishers was wise enough to schedule my appointments and then tell me they were half an hour earlier. It was a little game we played—unfortunately, since I now knew the rules, I’d arrive an hour late, ruining her careful arrangements.
Tant pis. They could work around me—I was reliable in all other matters. I’d never been late with a manuscript, and my work seldom needed more than minimal revision. They were lucky to have me, even if biblical murder mysteries weren’t a big moneymaker, particularly when written in a smart-ass tone. Solomon’s Poisoner had done even better than the previous books. Of course, you had to put that in perspective. Agatha Christie I was not. But if they weren’t making money they wouldn’t be buying me, and I wasn’t going to worry about it.
I had just enough time to make it to the bank, and I could even manage a small detour to grab a hot dog from a street vendor, but there wasn’t a damned thing I could do about my stupid shoes.
Vanity, my uptight mother would have said—not that she ever left the confines of her born-again Idaho fortress to see me. Hildegarde Watson trusted nothing and no one, and she’d retreated to a compound filled with other fundamentalist loonies where even her own sinful daughter wasn’t welcome. Thank God. I didn’t need my mother to tell me how shallow I was. I embraced it.
The four-inch heels made my legs look fantastic, which I considered worth any amount of pain. On top of that, they raised me to a more imposing height than my measly five foot three, an advantage with obstreperous middle-aged male editors who liked to treat me like a cute little girl.
However, the damned stilettos hurt like crazy, and I hadn’t been smart enough to leave a more comfortable pair at my temp job. I’d been hobbling around all day without even a Band-Aid to protect my poor wounded feet.
I’d feel sorry for myself if I hadn’t done it on purpose. I’d learned early on that the best way to accomplish anything was to grit your teeth and fight your way through it with the best grace you could muster, and wearing those damned shoes, which had cost me almost a hundred and eighty dollars, discounted, was the only way I’d ever get comfortable in them. Besides, it was Friday—I had every intention of spending the weekend with my feet up, working on my new book, Ruth’s Revenge. By Monday the blisters would have healed enough, and if I could just tough it out for two more days, I’d be used to them. Beauty was worth the pain, no matter what my mother said.
Maybe sometime I’d be able to support myself with my writing and not have to deal with temp jobs. Snarky mysteries set on debunking the Judeo-Christian Old Testament weren’t high on the public’s interest meter, the occasional blockbuster Vatican thriller aside. For now, I had no choice but to supplement my meager income, making my weekends even more precious.
“Shouldn’t you be heading out, Allie?” Elena, my overworked supervisor, glanced over at me. “You won’t have time to get to the bank if you don’t leave now.”
Crap. Two months and already Elena had pegged me as someone chronically late. “I won’t be back,” I called out as I hobbled toward the elevator. Elena waved absently good-bye, and moments later I was alone in the elevator, starting the sixty-three-floor descent.
I could risk taking off my shoes, just for a few moments of blessed relief, but with my luck someone would immediately join me and I’d have to shove them back on again. I leaned against the wall, trying to shift my weight from one foot to the other. Great legs, I reminded myself.
Out the sixty-third-floor windows, the sun had been shining brightly. The moment I moved through the lobby’s automatic door to the sidewalk, I heard a loud crash of thunder, and I looked up to see dark clouds churning overhead. The storm seemed to have come out of nowhere.
It was a cool October afternoon, with Halloween only a few days off. The sidewalks were busy as usual, and the bank was across the street. I could always walk and eat a hot dog at the same time, I thought, heading over to the luncheon cart. I’d done it often enough.
With my luck there had to be a line. I bounced nervously, shifting my weight, and the man in front of me turned around.
I’d lived in New York long enough to make it a habit not to look at people on the street. Here in mid-town, most of the women were taller, thinner, and better dressed than I was, and I didn’t like feeling inadequate. I never made eye contact with anyone, not even with Harvey the hot-dog man, who’d served me daily for the last two months.
So why was I looking up, way up, into a pair of eyes that were . . . God, what color were they? A strange shade between black and gray, shot with striations of light so that they almost looked silver. I was probably making a fool of myself, but I couldn’t help it. Never in my life had I seen eyes that color, though that shouldn’t surprise me since I avoided looking in the first place.
But even more astonishing, those eyes were watching me thoughtfully. Beautiful eyes in a beautiful face, I realized belatedly. I didn’t like men who were too attractive, and that term was mild when it came to the man looking down at me, despite my four-inch heels.
He was almost angelically handsome, with his high cheekbones, his aquiline nose, his streaked brown and golden hair. It was precisely the tawny shade I’d tried to get my colorist to replicate, and she’d always fallen woefully short.
“Who does your hair?” I blurted out, trying to startle him out of his abstraction.
“I am as God made me,” he said, and his voice was as beautiful as his face. Low-pitched and musical, the kind of voice to seduce a saint. “With a few modifications,” he added, with a twist of dark humor I couldn’t understand.
His gorgeous hair was too long—I hated long hair on men. On him it looked perfect, as did the dark leather jacket, the black jeans, the dark shirt.
Not proper city wear, I thought, trying to summon up disapproval and failing because he looked so damned good. “Since you don’t seem in any kind of hurry and I am, do you suppose you could let me go ahead of you?”
There was another crash of thunder, echoing through the cement and steel canyons around us, and I flinched. Thunderstorms in the city made me nervous—they seemed so there. It always seemed like the lightning snaking down between the high buildings would find me an easier target. The man didn’t even blink. He glanced across the street, as if calculating something.
“It’s almost three o’clock,” he said. “If you want your deposit to go in today, you’ll need to skip that hot dog.”
I froze. “What deposit?” I demanded, completely paranoid. God, what was I doing holding a conversation with a strange man? I should never have paid any attention to him. I could have lived without the hot dog.
“You’re holding a bank deposit bag,” he said mildly.
Oh. Yeah. I laughed nervously. I should have been ashamed of my paranoia, but for some reason it hadn’t even begun to dissipate. I allowed myself another furtive glance up at the stranger.
To hell with the hot dog—my best bet was to get away from this too-attractive stranger, drop off the deposit, and hope to God I could find a taxi to get me across town to my meeting. I was already ten minutes late.
He was still watching me. “You’re right,” I said. Another crash of thunder, and the clouds opened up.
And I was wearing a red silk suit that I couldn’t really afford, even on clearance from Saks. Vanity again. Without a backward glance, I stepped out into the street, which was momentarily free of traffic.
It happened in slow motion, it happened in the blink of an eye. One of my high heels snapped, my ankle twisted, and the sudden rain was turning the garbage on the street into a river of filth. I slipped, going down on one knee, and I could feel my stockings shred, my skirt rip, my carefully arranged hair plastered limp and wet around my ears.
I looked up, and there it was, a crosstown bus ready to smack into me. Another crack of thunder, the bright white sizzle of lightning, and everything went calm and still. Just for a moment.
And then it was a blur of noise and action. I could hear people screaming, and to my astonishment money was floating through the air like autumn leaves, swirling downward in the heavy rain. The bus had come to a stop, slanted across the street, and horns were honking, people were cursing, and in the distance I could hear the scream of sirens. Pretty damned fast response for New York, I thought absently.
The man was standing beside me, the beautiful one from the hot-dog stand. He was just finishing a chili dog, entirely at ease, and I remembered I was famished. If I was going to get held up by a bus accident, I might as well get a chili dog. But for some reason, I didn’t want to turn around.
“What happened?” I asked him. He was tall enough to see over the crowds of people clustered around the front of the bus. “Did someone get hurt?”
“Yes,” he said in that rich, luscious voice. “Someone was killed.”
I started toward the crowd, curious, but he caught my arm. “You don’t want to go there,” he said. “There’s no need to go through that.”
Go through what? I thought, annoyed, staring at the crowd. I glanced back up at the stranger, and I had the odd feeling that he’d gotten taller. I suddenly realized my feet didn’t hurt anymore, and I looked down. It was an odd, disorienting sensation. I was barefoot, and if I didn’t know it was impossible, I would have said there was thick green grass beneath my feet.
I glanced back up at the rain-drenched accident scene in front of me, and time seemed to have moved in an odd, erratic shift. The ambulance had arrived, as well as the police, and people were being herded out of the way. I thought I caught a glimpse of the victim—just the brief sight of my leg, wearing my shoe, the heel broken off.
“No,” said the man beside me, and he put a hand on my arm before I could move away.
The bright light was blinding, dazzling, and I was in a tunnel, light whizzing past me, the only sound the whoosh of space moving at a dizzying speed. Space Mountain, I thought, but this was no Disney ride.
It stopped as abruptly as it had begun, and I felt sick. I was disoriented and out of breath; I looked around me, trying to get my bearings.
The man still held my arm loosely, and I yanked it free, stumbling away from him. We were in the woods, in some sort of clearing at the base of a cliff, and it was already growing dark. The sick feeling in my stomach began to spread to the rest of my body.
I took a deep breath. Everything felt odd, as if this were a movie set. Things looked right, but everything seemed artificial, no smells, no sensation of touch. It was all illusion. It was wrong.
I wiggled my feet, then realized I was still barefoot. My hair hung down past my shoulders, which made no sense since I had short hair. I tugged at a strand, and saw that instead of its carefully streaked and striated color, it was brown again, the plain, ordinary brown I’d spent a fortune trying to disguise, the same plain, ordinary brown as my eyes. My clothes were different as well, and the change wasn’t for the better. Baggy, shapeless, colorless, they were as unprepossessing as a shroud.
I fought my way through the mists of confusion—my mind felt as if it were filled with cotton candy. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
“Don’t struggle,” the man beside me said in a remote voice. “It only makes it worse. If you’ve lived a good life, you have nothing to be afraid of.”
I looked at him in horror. Lightning split open the sky, followed by thunder that shook the earth. The solid rock face in front of us began to groan, a deep, rending sound that echoed to the heavens. It started to crack apart, and I remembered something from Christian theology about stones moving and Christ rising from the dead. The only problem was that I was Jewish, as my fundamentalist Christian mother had been for most of her life, and I was nonobservant at that. I didn’t think rising from the dead was what was going on here.
“The bus,” I said flatly. “I got hit by the bus. I’m dead, aren’t I?”
I controlled my instinctive flinch. Clearly he didn’t believe in cushioning blows. “And who does that make you? Mr. Jordan?”
He looked blank, and I stared at him. “You’re an angel,” I clarified. “One who’s made a mistake. You know, like in the movie? I shouldn’t be dead.”
“There is no mistake,” he said, and took my arm again.
I sure as hell wasn’t going quietly. “Are you an angel?” I demanded. He didn’t feel like one. He felt like a man, a distinctly real man, and why the hell was I suddenly feeling alert, alive, aroused, when according to him I was dead?
His eyes were oblique, half-closed. “Among other things.”
Kicking him in the shin and running like hell seemed an excellent plan, but I was barefoot and my body wasn’t feeling cooperative. As angry and desperate as I was, I still seemed to want him to touch me, even when I knew he had nothing good in mind. Angels didn’t have sex, did they? They didn’t even have sexual organs, according to the movie Dogma. I found myself glancing at his crotch, then quickly pulled my gaze away. What the hell was I doing checking out an angel’s package when I was about to die?
Oh, yeah, I’d forgotten—I was already dead. And all my will seemed to have vanished. He drew me toward the crack in the wall, and I knew with sudden clarity it would close behind me like something out of a cheesy movie, leaving no trace that I’d ever lived. Once I went through, it would all be over.
“This is as far as I go,” he said, his rich, warm voice like music. And with a gentle tug on my arm, he propelled me forward, pushing me into the chasm.
© 2011 Anne Kristine Stuart Ohlrogge
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Meet the Author
Kristina Douglas is the author of the Fallen series, including Raziel, Demon, and Warrior. She also writes as Anne Stuart, New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including Ruthless and Fire and Ice. She lives in Northern Vermont with her luscious husband, three cats, and one Springer Spaniel. And when she’s not working, she’s watching movies, listening to rock and roll (preferably Japanese), and spending far too much time quilting.
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First off I would have liked to give this book four and a half stars but obviously couldn't. I was pleasantly surprised to have found this debut author because this book and the others in this series are super good. I love the world Douglas has weaved together in this story and it just gets better in the following books of the series. I love it when an author creates something so unique as the world in which Allie, Raziel, and the rest of the Fallen live in. To me it is a breath of fresh air to NOT be reading a book that you've felt you have read before based on the same endless story lines. The reason I didn't give it a five star rating is because the story does start off a bit slow in the first few chapters, and at first I felt that I'd end up putting it down and never picking it back up. But don't fret because soon you'll be completely taken away into a fantastic world ripe with mysteries, evil enemies, different and otherworldly realms to explore, and of course some great love and sex.
This was a nice change from the standard vampire/werewolf stories. It had a lot of character and kept me guessing. I really enjoyed the fallen angel slant. Definitely a good read, I couldn't put it down once I started it.
Just picked it up cause I was looking for a new series to read and it was near the dark-hunter (kenyon) books. I loved this one and can't wait for May for the next one. easy to read and you really start to care for everyone in the book.
Allegra "Allie" Watson wrote sassy biblical murder mysteries. However her career as a novelist ends when she dies in a bus accident. Because of her saucy biblical tales, Allegra is slated for hellfire. However, Raziel, one of the twenty-Fallen that Enoch with bias mentioned, violates the afterlife operating procedures. Instead of guiding her soul to her final destination, although unsure why he reacted like he did as he has ferried countless lost souls, Raziel changes her destination saving her from eternal damnation. He is injured in the process. Sparks fly between this blood drinking Fallen and the damned he temporarily rescued. His peers take the pair to safety in Sheol. However by doing what he did and what the other Fallen did for the condemned duet, they enable God's last remaining archangel Uriel the "unfallen" to break the millennia old armistice sending the flesh eating Nephilim swarm to attack Raziel and the other Fallen. Although the opening acts take a bit of adjustment to understand who's who and what is going on in the Kristina Douglas pantheon, fans will believe it is worth the time as the story line turns into a fast-paced angelic war with an intelligent obvious jab at the hypocrisy of organized religions. Cleverly designed so that heavenly decree is deigned by bureaucrats, fans will enjoy Raziel's (and Allie) tale as the Nephilim led by one who takes pride that he never fell attacks the Fallen using the rescue of a condemned as the excuse for open war. Harriet Klausner
I loved this book, I just wish there was more to the future of Raziel and Allies relationship, either way it was a great book.
Not what I expected but a great story! Once I started I could not put down! Can't wait to read all the books in this series!
I loved this book the begining was a little slow but once you get through the first 15 pages or so you cant put it down and the series just keeps getting better and better i just finished the third one and can not wait for the next one to come out!!!!!
4.5stars actually. These were such entertaining characters, I was engaged from the outset. Allie was so layered she practically jumped of the page and Raziel was perfectly luscious for want of a better description. Their steamy interaction had you grabbing a fan or a partner of your own. Although unseen, the main villain’s presence and threatening posture was palpable. One of the strong, vibrant characters was so ingrained into the story that the sudden loss of that character – although necessary, resonated throughout the remainder of story and the other characters. All of the standard story mechanics fired on all cylinders. The special conceit of this vampire series provides a firm and broad foundation for what could be a successful and long running series if this origin story has anything to say about it. This was my first Kristina Douglas but it will definitely not be my last.
Ok, I really wish you could give a half star. I wanted to give the bood a 3.5 because it took way too long at the beginning with Allie trying to figure out that she was dead. Then, if you're looking for a lot of romance or sexy love scenes, this book is definitely not for you. I don't think there was any sex until more than halfway into the book. Just the cover made that a little deceiving. I mean, seriously, look at Raziel on the cover! Anyway, I went ahead and went for the higher rating because it did hold my attention once the plot was revealed. There was also some good suspense but again, a lot of that was close to the end of the book. Another reason I gave it a 4 instead of a 3 is because I did like this take on the whole 'angel/demon' thing. It was pretty interesting to read the take on free will and what that really means (as far as the story is concerned).
So far this series rocks
This was a nice escape from the everyday.
Great book! I love this series and look forward to reading more.
After reading through almost half of this book, I was ready to jump into the fires of hell to get away from the 2 main characters! It's not that Ms. Douglas does not write well develped characters, she does. However, they're just not very likeable. The female lead was whiny, confused and a bit neurotic through out most of the book. I just didn't get a sense of any real connection between her and Raziel other than the sex, which btw had pretty much no foreplay. Something I find odd considering this was written by a woman. Also, the sexist pig fallen angels were pretty difficult to stomach. This attitude really didn't change by the end of the book, and their home in Sheoul had an almost David Koresh compound like feel it. If you like this particular genre your time and money are much better spent reading JR Ward, Caris Roane, Gena Showalter or Lara Adrian. All good reads!
I was truly drawn in at first page and stayed glued until the very last word!!!! She takes through a river of emotons and feeling from Exotic to Tender, Anger to Amazed...You will be happy that you allowed this read into your library and your heart....