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The Demoness of Waking Dreams

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Overview

Ex-cop Brandon Clarkson is an angel with an edge. His tough exterior is the perfect camouflage for his job—hunting down the most dangerous criminals on earth. A self-reliant and demanding lone wolf, Brandon is the perfect angel to track and capture demoness Luciana Rossetti.

Beneath the surface of Luciana's cool, green-eyed beauty lurks the heart of a malevolent killer. In the winding streets of Venice, she lures Brandon into her dark world of ...

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Overview

Ex-cop Brandon Clarkson is an angel with an edge. His tough exterior is the perfect camouflage for his job—hunting down the most dangerous criminals on earth. A self-reliant and demanding lone wolf, Brandon is the perfect angel to track and capture demoness Luciana Rossetti.

Beneath the surface of Luciana's cool, green-eyed beauty lurks the heart of a malevolent killer. In the winding streets of Venice, she lures Brandon into her dark world of pleasure.

They are perfectly matched. Angel and demon. Man and woman. But only one can win the battle of wills, of strength and of desire.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Chong delivers a wicked tale of a sexy guardian angel battling for a not-so-lost demon's soul." -New York Times bestselling author Caridad Piñeiro

"Stephanie Chong knows the soul of romance, paranormal or otherwise. She's captured the elusive and powerful energy of the genre in a way few authors ever manage to do. Angel verses demon; redemption of the damned by the pure power of love—the heart of that story IS the heart of romance. In WHERE DEMONS FEAR TO TREAD, Ms. Chong taps into a delicious fantasy older than time, spinning it masterfully into a sexy, moving tale that feels fresh and new. I am sincerely her newest fan."
~NY Times Bestselling Author Maggie Shayne

"A delicious debut to a sizzling new series!" — New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778313144
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Series: Company of Angels Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 4.32 (w) x 6.46 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie worked as a lawyer at a top-tier Canadian firm and completed five university degrees before landing her dream job: romance novelist. Her degrees include a J.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and a Master’s in Creative Writing from Oxford University. When she’s not writing, Stephanie enjoys yoga, traveling and outdoor adventures. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and their pug, Dexter.

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Read an Excerpt

"Welcome home, baronessa."

Luciana Rossetti's private boat waited at the dock of the Marco Polo Airport, and her driver helped her descend from the dock into the polished mahogany vessel. The water shimmered, early morning sunlight glancing off the surface of the lagoon. "Thank you, Massimo. It's good to be home.'

"No luggage, signora?" the driver asked.

"I made an unexpected departure from America," she answered, settling into a seat at the rear of the boat. She leaned against the tan leather upholstery, relaxing at last. Inhaled deeply. And exhaled a sigh of pure relief.

Unexpected departure was an understatement. Narrow escape was more like it.

But at the moment, words escaped her. Mere language could not begin to relate what had happened in the past three months. She simply lacked the energy to explain it all to Massimo.

"Is everything all right?" Massimo asked as he steered the boat, navigating out into the lagoon. If anyone could sense when something was amiss with her, it was him. He was her maggiordomo, her steward, her right-hand man, and he had been for the past two centuries. He glanced backward now, brows drawn together as he scrutinized her. "You look tired."

"How many times have I told you not to say that, Massimo? No woman wants to hear it, even if it's true," she said, narrowing her eyes at him. "I'm finer

She was not fine.

She closed her eyes and leaned against the leather. Perhaps with a little bit of time, she would be fine. But right now, she was absolutely exhausted. Utterly depleted.

But still alive.

"Everything is perfectly fine, Massimo," she lied again, repeating the word for emphasis. "I had a brief run-in with some enemies, but suffered no permanent damage. There is only one thing of importance. I have made it home in time to attend this year's Redentore Festival."

"Yes, of course, baronessa." Massimo's handsome face lit with a smile. "You are a strong woman. And you have the support of your humble servants, we Gatekeepers. Do you think you will have enough strength for the hunt?" he asked, clearly worried. "If you don't, I can assemble the staff. We can take care of your responsibilities if you wish."

"No, Massimo," she said, rubbing her temples.

Her Gatekeepers, low-ranking demons in her service, all happened to be young, Italian, male and pretty to look at. They were competent enough in their roles as housekeeping staff and minions for errands. But she didn't—couldn't—trust them to carry out her work.

"Don't concern yourself," she said. "I need a few hours to rest. By tonight I'll be completely recovered. Tonight is an eternity away. There is no need for the staff to take over a job that I am perfectly capable of doing myself."

Massimo nodded, concentrating on steering the boat as they entered the Grand Canal.

"A job that I am obligated to do myself," she added.

Moments later, the boat passed into the shadow under the Rialto Bridge, and her head began to ache. The bridge invariably brought back agonizing reminiscences of the man who had just caused her impromptu departure from America. Because over two hundred years ago, she had met her ex-lover here. When she'd been barely seventeen years old, still innocent. Still fresh. Still human.

Before Julian Ascher had ruined everything.

Pain, white-hot and sharp, seared between her temples. Her fingers curled around the little glass vial hanging on a delicate gold chain around her neck. The single object she had managed to salvage during her rapid departure from America. The contents of that little vial would help her achieve her heart's most fervent desire.

Revenge.

She had gone to America to get revenge. And she had failed miserably.

Luciana's plan had been to make Julian Ascher pay for all the things he had done to her. For getting her into the insufferable business of being a Rogue demon in the first place. When that plan had failed, she had nearly managed to kill the fledgling angel he was screwing—a moronically innocent girl called Serena St. Clair. And after failing to finish that kill, too, Luciana had only narrowly escaped capture at the hands of the Company of Angels.

And then she had returned home.

Exhausted. Depleted. But still alive.

Julian Ascher will pay, she thought. The Company of Angels will pay.

Luciana would have vengeance on them all. Inside of her, a dark alchemy had transformed this longing into a substance so hard and so sharp, it might have cut diamond. Once she finished with her annual hunt, she would turn her mind to completing her revenge.

At the thought of it, she smiled.

The boat cruised out from under the bridge, back into the sunshine.

Luciana tilted her face upward in the humid air, gazing at the palazzos lining the waterway in their elegant decay. The day was still new. The possibilities, endless. The winding streets of Venice teemed with people, already beginning their preparations for tonight's festivities.

"You're looking better already, baronessa," Massimo said, smiling back at her.

"Thank you, Massimo. The city is a balm to my soul," she said. "And the Redentore Festival always brings me such joy."

The fireworks display and homage to the Virgin Mary marked the height of every summer. Boats decked with garlands would crowd St. Mark's Basin for the pyrotechnic spectacle. Restaurants and bars would overflow with drunken patrons. The canals would stream with locals and tourists alike, come to watch and to party.

Venetians were masters of celebration. They had been honing the art of revelry for centuries. Looking up from their preparations, a boatful of shirtless men whistled as they watched her boat speed past.

"Che bellissima!" one of them shouted. "Ciao, bella!"

Ah, si. The catcall. That was another thing Venetian men had mastered.

Normally, she simply ignored such men. Had been doing so since adolescence, when her womanhood had begun to flower. This time, she gave them an enigmatic little smile and called back, "Te lo puoi sognare!"

In your dreams…

Across an ocean, the full moon shone brightly on a night that was just beginning.

Brandon Clarkson was deep undercover in the seediest area of downtown Detroit. A greasy sheen covered his body from not having showered in days, a stale feeling of exhaustion hung in his lungs. His ripped jeans and leather jacket, unwashed and overripe.

To look at him, you would never guess he was what he was.

A cop.

Not one of the drug dealers he had been tracking for months.

He slid into the dark alley, following the criminals he was on the verge of catching. He was close, so close. Knew they were here. Sensed their heartbeats nearby, could feel their breath mingling with the cool night breeze. The scent of them hanging in the air, alongside the smell of urine and garbage rotting in the darkness. The skitter of unseen vermin, animal and human, hidden in the shadows, surrounded him.

Something in the pit of his gut called to him, a little voice whispering urgently that something wasn't right here.

There's trouble.

His brain overrode it, with a message that was loud and clear.

You've been hunting these criminals for the past six months. This may be the only chance you'll ever get.

It was time to put these scumbags away. He knew their habits. Knew the sheer volume of their trade. Had seen a warehouse's worth of heroin and cocaine pass through their hands, enough to keep the entire city of Detroit high for a week.

He stepped forward, moving farther into the alley, holding his handgun at eye level, ready to shoot.

Tonight's the night, he told himself. This ends right here.

He heard a noise behind him. A few quick footsteps striking on the pavement. A pop so loud he thought his eardrum might have erupted. And then his spine exploded. He felt a burst of pain that seared and radiated, like magma surging in his vertebrae, more intense than any pain he had felt in his life. A burst that could only be a bullet.

He fell, the structure of his body ruptured, the sturdy architecture of flesh and bones shattered in a single instant.

Heard the footsteps nearing.

A pause.

He was dying. He knew it. Sprawled on his side, he could almost feel the life seeping out of him through the hole blown in his back. He shoved his hand in his pocket. Pulled out the old silver pocket watch he had carried every day of his job, ran his fingers over the raised engraving of Saint Michael on the back.

To the patron saint of cops and warriors, Brandon whispered a request for help.

"Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil."

He held the old watch against his heart, felt the wetness soaking his shirt. Realized it was because the bullet had blown clean through his body. He was bleeding out, left to die here on the filthy pavement of this alley.

Heard the scrape of a shoe near his ear, so close now.

A second explosion as another shot slammed into the back of Brandon's skull.

Death came instantly. But the last sliver of his human existence, less than a fraction of a breath, stretched into an eternity that seemed to encompass his entire life span.

The last thing he saw through his human eyes was his watch, its second hand clicking its last tick.

All of time seemed to hover in a single instant, packed into the space between those two black lines that demarcated one second from another.

And in that second, the summary of his human experience pouredforth in his mind.

Every image he had ever experienced, all flooding into his memory in a simultaneous rush. Emerging out of his mother's body, into the cold light of a hospital room…his infancy and childhood in a run-down suburb of Detroit…roughhousing with his brothers…frontyards full of rusted-out cars and tall weeds…his high school sweetheart, Tammy…the police academy…his wedding…their first home.lovemaking in the afternoons.

All rushing through him and past him, as if he were being sucked backward through a tunnel.

And now, this.

The moments of his death were literally the worst moments of his life. In them, he felt loss, sorrow, regret, fear. Swirling together like a black hole in the cosmos. Nothing that words could ever describe, the feeling was so much more intense than language, which failed utterly to scratch the surface of that experience.

The experience of intense suffering.

Enough for a lifetime, compacted into the last fleeting scrap of consciousness.

What a shitty way to die, he thought.

Those were the last words that ran through his human mind.

He spiraled upward, flying out of his human body.

Looking down, he saw his mortal form sprawled on the ground, bleeding out onto the dirty pavement in the dark of night. Over his now-lifeless body, the killer leaned.

Brandon could only see the killer's back as the man bent down to remove the object enclosed in the curled hand of the corpse. The final impression of Brandon's human experience was one of absolute injustice. Not only had the killer taken Brandon's life, but he had also stolen Brandon's goddamned watch.

Fortunately, Brandon no longer cared. Detached from his human body, he spun upward.

Into light, he had been born. And now in death, he returned to light again. But not the light of the human world. Not a cold light this time, but reaching toward the warmest and most joyful light he had ever known.

Reaching, reaching, upward, upward.

To hang in the cosmos for a single, shining, glorious instant. An instant as long as eternity and shorter than the blink of an eye. But he knew he could not stay there forever.

Not yet. There were things to be done.

And then falling, plunging downward at a dizzying velocity, traveling faster than matter.

Because he, Brandon, was constructed of pure light.

He landed with a jolt, the light of his soul crashing back into his physical body.

Lying in bed. Howling a keening cry of mourning for the life he had just lost.

Just as he did every time he woke from this nightmare.

Every single fucking night for the past ten years, he awoke shivering in terror.

Thanking God that it was only a dream.

Because the first time it happened, it hadn't been a dream.

That time, it had been real.

Three o'clock in the morning.

That's what time his bedroom clock read.

The clock that existed in real time. Not dream time.

He shut his eyes against the memory of his death. Brought himself back to the here and now. Dragged in one long breath, and then another. Beneath him, he felt the damp of the sheets. Soaked through with sweat. The throb of adrenaline still coursing through his body.

In the darkness of his room he lay, recounting the facts to himself.

He, Brandon Clarkson, was no longer human.

But he had been, once.

It had been ten years since his human death. Why he revisited the scene of his own death every night, he wasn't entirely sure. He would have taken it for a curse if he had not been reborn as something other.

Angel.

Immortal, but sent back in a human body. With all the same problems bound up with physical incarnation. Fatigue. Stress. Insomnia.

Nightmares.

Reaching for the lamp beside his bed, he switched on the light. Blinking a few times, he squinted in the brightness. He got up and wandered around his apartment. The sleek modern loft in a historic Art Nouveau building was a world away from the alley where he'd died. He stood at the window, looking down at the river thirty stories below, shimmering gold in the hot July night, downtown city lights aglow on the surface of the water.

Not the Detroit River, but the Chicago River.

Not Detroit, he reminded himself.

Not Detroit, where he had been born. Where he had lived. Where he had died.

I'm in Chicago. Where he now worked as a Guardian in the Company of Angels. Where he had been promoted to supervisor, overseeing his own unit, after his preliminary training in the Los Angeles unit.

Chicago was a world away from his human existence. A lifetime away.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jen Book provided by NetGalley for review Review ori

    Reviewed by Jen
    Book provided by NetGalley for review
    Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

    I have some really mixed feelings about this book. In some ways I really liked it… but in others I was just do disappointed. After having read book one, I was excited to tackle this one. But my disappointment is making this a very hard review to write.

    So, on one hand we have Brandon. He was a Chicago cop who was murdered while undercover and then he became an angel. He’s never gotten over his murder and every night he relives the event in his dreams… until he meets Luciana. She on the other hand is a demon. She’s got this affinity for poisons and is creating one that will kill demons and angels alike.

    Fair warning, there may be some spoilers ahead, although I’m going to try very hard to not do it.

    I actually liked both Brandon and Luciana, but I’m not sure I liked them together. I guess this whole idea of angels and demons hooking up just seems wrong. In this book, Luciana doesn’t really repent and yet Brandon doesn’t “fall” either. But at the same time, I knew these two loved each other, but the ending just ticked me off… and I can’t say any more than that without completely giving away the book. When I got to the last page, I asked “that’s it?”. I was not a happy camper.

    Yes, the journey to get there was well done. Brandon is supposed to capture the elusive, bad demon, Luciana. But he finds that he’s more intrigued with her than he probably should be. Which then takes the reader on a wild ride as they play cat and mouse and then make love and then war. And then throw in the supporting characters that don’t make things any easier for anyone… well, as I said, it was a wild ride.

    I guess I’m just going to have to keep reading the series to see if there is some resolution that didn’t happen here. That said, the book will stand alone, but as always, reading them in order does help enhance the reading experience.

    And last, a word of warning. There is a fair amount of violence and a rape scene of sorts.

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  • Posted November 26, 2012

    Loved this book. It was dark and sensual, and the writing is be

    Loved this book. It was dark and sensual, and the writing is beautiful. Great story, hot characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2012

    I loved the first book in this series and couldn't wait for this

    I loved the first book in this series and couldn't wait for this book to come out. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. I ended up skimming most of the book. Luciana is unredeemable to me. The things she has done are unforgivable. I get she had it hard but the choices she willingly made, and the things she did, killed it for me. And I didn't see the attraction between the two main characters. I am done with this series as far as the current cast of characters goes.

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  • Posted August 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Ok this one DIDNT FLIRT with anyone but with itself! It was soo

    Ok this one DIDNT FLIRT with anyone but with itself! It was soooo good I flew through it and didnt stop until I was done! Make sure you read the first book first. Although this one makes sure you know what is going on. You will have a better understanding on the Demoness Luciana. I really cant wait to see what happens next in this wonderful sexy series.



    "*I received a copy of this book for free to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own."

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  • Posted August 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    C- rating....based on story line only, not the gorgeous writing.

    My Review:

    C-
    I adored the first book in this series because it showed the fine line that exists between good and evil. I hated this book for the same reason. In this book, the hope that existed from the first book was vanquished. Everything was just slightly more tipped towards the evil side and there were no happy outcomes...NONE. As a romance reader, that isn't something that I can accept. I need something positive to walk away with...that's why I read romance. This book didn't give it to me.

    What this book did give to me was a yummy hero in the Angel Brandon. I loved his tattoos and his internal analysis of his actions. It also gave me the Demoness Luciana. While I didn't like her very much I could definitely feel compassion for all that she's gone through in life and the place where she finds herself stuck. I liked the story line with Mossimo, Luciana's gatekeeper. I hated Ariel's (another angel...albeit a jealous, vengeful one) part in the story and thought she just made the story more hopeless.

    The writing in the book is beautiful. The scenes of Venice and the symbolism throughout the story were both gorgeous. But my rating isn't based on that. My rating is based upon my enjoyment of the book...and that was bad. I don't feel better for having read this book...in fact, it's quite the opposite. There may be an over-arching series goal here that I can't see, but I don't think I will ever get to see it if that is the case. This book ruined this series for me and I won't read any more from it.

    I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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  • Posted July 31, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    AWESOME! Loved this book.

    I received this ARC from Netgalley for my honest opinion.

    I will start off saying I actually really enjoyed this book, it’s well written, and has a plot that was original, and I loved it. I did NOT read the first book, and was thinking I would be quite lost, but found I was not. Stephanie did a great job of putting in important things from the first book, as dreams, or memories and such, in a very creative way. So it did not have a whole rundown of the first book, it felt more as a stand alone book, but just put in those parts needed to understand the story.

    In a way, I am glad I did not read the first. I was able to come into this book, without already hating or liking anyone. Luciana is the one in this book that the Company of Angels is after, they always try to change the demons to good if possible, and I know many people have hated Luciana from the first book. I didn’t really care for her at first, but I could see there is remorse in her. Yes, I understand all the horrible things she has done, and did not like her for that, but the point of the Company of Angels is earning redemption, and I believe she is capable of it. I wont spoil the ending, but I have hope for Luciana.

    I really, really liked Brandon, who wouldn’t, gorgeous muscled angel. Who wouldn’t? He is a truly good man, to be able to see the sliver of remorse and possible good in Luciana, when no one else would even try. The whole book sure kept you guessing on what would happen next. I think its unique how after each assignment that Brandon gets a new tattoo. (he doesn’t get it, it just appears) We get some new revelations about Brandon’s human death, on his murderer, but I will not tell you who. Leave that for you to find out.

    So, regardless if you have read the first book or not, I recommend this book if you like the paranormal, with some passion in there, some action and suspense. If you read the first book, then I am sure you will like this one. I do plan to go read the first one now. I am curious, as I found Arielle to be very unlikable in this book, on the verge of evil herself, wonder if she changes sides in the future. From angel to demon? Guess they can.

    I will leave you with this quote from the book.
    ebook Location (ARC will change) 2970

    Leave. Just get up and leave, said his brain. This is no longer an assignment. Let Arielle deal with Luciana. The demoness is not your problem anymore.
    What kept him there was the knowledge that beneath it all was a terrorized young women whose life had gone badly off the rails at the age of seventeen.
    He closed his eyes and slipped into sleep.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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