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The Keepers: Christmas in Salem: Do You Fear What I Fear? / The Fright Before Christmas / Unholy Night / Stalking in a Winter Wonderland (Harlequin Nocturne Series #171)

The Keepers: Christmas in Salem: Do You Fear What I Fear? / The Fright Before Christmas / Unholy Night / Stalking in a Winter Wonderland (Harlequin Nocturne Series #171)

3.6 3
by Heather Graham

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This holiday season, armed with love and passion, can the Keepers stop the reign of Darkness?

Christmas is coming to Salem, but so is an evil force that threatens all mankind. In this memorable collection led by New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham, four powerful Keepers must save their community as a strange, eternal night creeps over the town.


This holiday season, armed with love and passion, can the Keepers stop the reign of Darkness?

Christmas is coming to Salem, but so is an evil force that threatens all mankind. In this memorable collection led by New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham, four powerful Keepers must save their community as a strange, eternal night creeps over the town. Forced to choose between their time-honored responsibilities or the lovers their hearts desire, these four extraordinary women must risk their own happiness to save the holiday. But Christmas is a time for miracles, and as each Keeper's greatest longing is met, the Season of Light returns. Don't miss this magical holiday collection from Heather Graham, Deborah LeBlanc, Kathleen Pickering and Beth Ciotta.

Product Details

Publication date:
Harlequin Nocturne Series , #171
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

The bulb Samantha Mycroft was trying to replace was just above her reach. She swore softly—and then felt guilty.

It was Christmas Eve. One was not supposed to swear on Christmas Eve. In the front yard, next to the tall and beautiful pine she was trying to decorate, the motion-activated Santa was singing in Bing Crosby's voice, cheerfully telling the story of the Little Drummer Boy.

She should not be cursing on Christmas Eve, she thought again.

But, she thought, pausing to look at the sky, this was a most unusual Christmas Eve.

It was dark. Darkness was to be expected at night, of course.

But the darkness had started coming earlier and earlier. At first it had been natural, as fall had come to Salem. But four in the afternoon had become two. And where at first the sun had come out at six in the morning, six had become seven. Then eight. Then nine.

Finally there had been just an hour of light at midafternoon, and today, Christmas Eve, she wondered if even that hour would come, because it had gone from being one hour to fifty minutes, then forty, then thirty….

They kept the Christmas lights on 24/7, which, Sa-mantha was convinced, was why her Never Burn Out! Christmas lights were burning out.

She managed to reach the offending bulb and change it, and then, from her perch atop the ladder, looked up at the sky again.

The news, of course, was filled with the phenomenon. It was centered on Salem, but it had begun spreading—though to a lesser degree—south toward Boston and north toward the Gloucester area. None of the rest of the country was any darker than it normally was at this time of year. Naturally, scientists and meteorologists were having a field day with the situation. They all had theories that explained what was going on, from the extremely esoteric to a strange type of sun flare. How a flare could cause such darkness, Sam didn't know.

It didn't matter.

Their theories were all wrong; she knew that much. Whatever was going on in Salem was being caused by a miscreant in the Otherworld.

"Hey! Pretty lights!"

She heard the deep voice and for a moment, she froze. She knew that voice, though she hadn't heard it in years. It was rich and fluid; it had made her laugh.

And its absence from her life had, once upon a time, made her cry.

She turned quickly, then remembered that she was on a ladder and grasped hold of it, absolutely determined that she wouldn't humiliate herself by falling off and landing at his feet.

With all the control she could muster, she turned regally to look down.

Maybe she was imagining that it was him…. He had disappeared on a Christmas Eve, exactly two years ago now.

She'd imagined nothing.

There he was. Daniel Riverton in the flesh.

As if on cue, the stupid Santa began singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

Daniel was tall and appeared lean, but she knew from experience that his shoulders were broad, his chest and arms muscled and honed, and he could move with incredible grace, speed and agility. He was the epitome of "tall, dark and handsome."


Because Daniel was a vampire. And an exceptional one.

He was striking as only a vampire could be; his hair was coal dark and his eyes were that burning, intense hazel often seen among his kind. When he was passionate or angry, the hazel burned with a golden light that seemed more intense than the sun. He looked up at her now, those eyes of his enigmatic, a slight smile curving his lips.

Leave it to Daniel to come back smiling. She wanted to smack him—smack that smile from his face.

And she also wanted to touch him, feel his arms around her again, look up at him and smile and laugh because they were a duo, soul mates.

Yeah, so much for that.

"How are you, Sam?" he asked softly.

"Fine. What are you doing back in Salem?" she demanded curtly.

It would have been nice if he'd said something like I tried to survive without you but I couldn't. I had to come back to Salem. I don't care about rules or regulations or if we're damned for all time. I can't live without you.

He didn't.

"I was called back," he told her.

"Oh?" she demanded. She was the Salem Keeper of the Vampires. If anyone had been called back, she should have known about it.

"My father," he explained.

His father. Great. His father, who hadn't approved of a vampire dating a vampire Keeper. Her parents hadn't approved, either, of course. But they had kept their disapproval fairly quiet, telling her that she had to make her own decisions about life.

She shouldn't have had to take on the Keeper role for years, but the International Council had been formed and her parents—having managed the area exceptionally well since their arrival in response to the insanity of the witch trials—had been called to be part of that council. That left her generation, the younger generation, to take on their responsibilities far too soon.

Justin Riverton, Daniel's father, was a pillar of the community. Or had been. Like her parents, he was now serving on the International Council. Everything, all those departures, had happened at around the same time. Daniel, fresh out of law school, had been swept up in the whole council thing, and now, while he didn't sit on the council, he worked for it, going from place to place to settle vampire affairs whenever trouble arose and no local Keeper was at hand.

But the real issue was the age-old taboo against Keepers having relationships with their charges.

That was changing now in many places—newer places than Salem, where the old ways died very slowly.

She knew that everyone had considered what she and Daniel shared to be nothing but a fling—a silly school thing that would end. They were both excellent students, bright and responsible from an early age. When it was time for them to end it, they would end it.

Despite that prevailing belief, Sam was pretty sure that both her parents and Daniel's had conspired to keep them apart. And, she was forced to admit, her attitude might have had something to do with it. Maybe she'd pushed too hard in her desire for some kind of passionate declaration from him. She'd wanted him to tell her that what they had was too unique, too incredible…too passionate…for him to turn his back on her and leave.

Hadn't happened.

So the fact that he was here now was doubly galling. Not only was she embarrassed not to know he was on the way, his presence meant that the council believed she couldn't keep her affairs, her responsibilities as a Keeper—her charges—in order. That what was happening here was somehow her fault.

Which was ridiculous. Vampires might be exceptionally fond of darkness, but they were not known to have any special powers to create it.

"Well. Nice to see you," she said. There was no reason for her to remain on the ladder—she'd changed the bulb. If she didn't come down, she would look like a coward.

Sam was the oldest of the new generation of Keepers now in charge of Salem's Otherworld. It wasn't an actual title or position, but with all the changes that had taken place, she was more or less the "Keeper of the Keepers." She was supposed to be calm, cool, stoic—wise at all times. Looking like a coward—or appearing unable to handle Daniel's sudden reappearance in Salem on Christmas Eve—just wouldn't do.

She willed her hands not to shake as she started to descend. Maybe that wasn't such a great plan. She was tall, nearly six feet. But Daniel, though only about six-three, seemed to tower over her. And he was standing way too close to the foot of the ladder. He might have moved to give her a little more personal space, but he didn't.

"Uh, good to see you, but I have things to do, so…?" she said.

He smiled—well aware that he was blocking her path back to the house. "It's nice to see you, too. I wanted you to know that, and that I was back in town. I guess we both have things to do."

"Thanks. Now if you don't mind, you're blocking my way into my house," she told him.

Ignoring her, he asked, "Still the best tour guide in the city?"

"You know I love my heritage," she told him.

He grinned and said in a very proper tour guide voice, "In the winter of 1623, a fishing village was established by the Dorchester Company on the shores of Cape Ann. The settlers struggled with the windy, stormy, rock-strewn area, and then a man named Roger Conant led a group to this fertile spot at the mouth of the Naum-keag River. At first they called it Naumkeag, the native word for 'fishing place.' And then they chose Salem, for shalom, meaning 'peace.'" He shrugged. "Well, after so many years of peace—years of infamy, too—now we have…this. This darkness."

"Is it dark?" Sam asked, her voice dripping sarcasm. "I hadn't noticed."

He stared at her. "I know that you've noticed."

"Good. Then you don't need to be concerned."

"It's most likely not a vampire matter," he said.

"Which is great—you'll be even less necessary."

"I never wanted us to be hateful toward each other," he said quietly.

Good old Daniel. Always controlled. She wanted him to be hateful—to rage against the powers and circumstances that had separated them. Apparently she wasn't going to get her wish.

"I'm not being hateful," she said with a shrug. "That would require me to actually feel something about you. Please, don't be concerned on that account—I do not hate you. Frankly, and not to be rude, I really don't think about you at all."

What a lie! She missed him every day of her life. Every single day she hurt, trying to figure out exactly what happened, how it had happened.

"Actually," he said. "That was…a smidgen rude."

"I'm sorry. I'm just busy. Seriously, if you don't mind, I have things to do."

He stepped aside. "I'm staying down the street," he said.

The Riverton house had sat empty now for some time, ever since Daniel's parents had joined the council and he had followed, leaving her behind.

"How nice that you still have the house," she said.

He smiled, looking down at her. It was that slow, easy, somehow rakish smile that he had always given her. There was something in that smile that seemed to speak of a unique, sensual relationship, of things shared that were incredibly special and wonderful. She saw all that and more in the smile that he gave her….

Her—and probably dozens of others.

"Happy Christmas Eve," he told her.

"Thanks. You, too."

"I'll see you soon."


"At your party, of course. I got the invitation. I remember your family's Christmas parties—I've missed them."

How the hell had he gotten an invitation?

Because he was on the damned mailing list. The e-vites had gone out automatically.

Great—just great. He'd not only walked back in on her today—she would see him again tonight.

Oh, joy.

Sam managed to escape him and hurried along the path to the house, willing herself not to trip. It was a cold winter. Plenty of snow had fallen already, snow too easily turned to ice. She would not embarrass herself in front of him by slipping on the ice and landing flat on her backside.

As he walked away, the stupid Santa began singing again: "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas."

She somehow managed to refrain from yelling at it.

Forget Daniel Riverton, she told herself. She would do exactly that.

She had to.

Okay, just take a minute, she told herself. Take a minute; take a deep breath. Stop shaking. They had been so crazily, ridiculously in love. They'd spent all their time together. And once they'd gone away to college, they'd managed to slip away on regular "excursions," once just to Boston, once to New York City and one glorious time to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There was nothing she hadn't loved about them together, sleeping together, waking together, shivering through horror movies, traveling and meeting interesting people along the way.

Even then, though, there were Others who had lifted their brows in disapproval.

What did they know? Mixed marriages were springing up everywhere.

She gave herself a firm mental shake; she was doing just fine. She was respected—she knew that most in the Other community gave her a thumbs-up. People still kept a wary eye on her less experienced cousins, but she loved them and knew that they would be fine, too—even June, who tried hard to appear strong, though she still felt overwhelmed by her Keeper role.

Sam made a note in her mind to make sure that the walkway was free of ice by this evening. She couldn't have any eighty-year-olds—human or Other—crashing down and breaking a hip.

Tonight was traditionally a huge night for the Mycroft family and for the local Other community—and for those who knew about it and embraced it.

Salem was, in Sam's opinion, an exceptionally fine community, and she felt privileged to be a Keeper here. Yes, at one time the Puritans had persecuted and executed poor human beings who were no more witches than they were angels. But that dark past had ultimately enlightened future generations. Now the city was filled with people of every religion, including the Wiccans—popularly if inaccurately identified as witches—whose presence had done so much to enhance the commercial value of what was now a tourist mecca. Salem was also home to many different Others, from vampires and werewolves to leprechauns, gnomes, selkies and more.

Every Christmas Eve—for centuries now—the Mycroft family had hosted a party celebrating faith, life, belief and love. The guests were of many faiths and many species—the requirement for the human guests, of course, was that they were among the few who knew about the Other community and respected its code of silence.

The world had come a long way from the days of the Salem witch trials—but not far enough. Knowing that your next-door neighbor was a vampire wouldn't sit well with those who pictured vampires only as vicious bloodsuckers. They could never comprehend that the average, modern-day vampire was an upstanding member of the community—just one who had to survive on a great deal of slaughterhouse blood. Thankfully, due to the council and the widespread alliances that had been formed over the years, that commodity was readily available as long as you knew where to shop.

The minute she got inside, Sam leaned against the door and exhaled.

It was going to be a trying day and an even more difficult night, and she resented the hell out of that. Ever since she had been a small child, she had loved the Christmas season. But this year…

There was the darkness. And the suggestion that it might be caused by a vampire, and that she was failing in her duties as Keeper of the Vampires.

And now.

Daniel was back.

"Think of him as no more than a pesky fly that needs to be swatted," she said aloud.

But even so, there were other problems. Her cousins were distracted, the cousins who should have been helping her.

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites: TheOriginalHeatherGraham.com, eHeatherGraham.com, and HeatherGraham.tv. You can also find Heather on Facebook.

Award-winning and best-selling author, Deborah LeBlanc, is a business owner, a licensed death scene investigator, and an active paranormal investigator. She’s the President of the Horror Writers Association and Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest Chapter. Deborah is also the founder of the Literacy Challenge, a national campaign that encourages more people to read and Literacy Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight illiteracy in America's teens.

Kathleen Pickering is second oldest of eight siblings and a lover-of-life. She travels to research books and draws stories from life experience. If she meets you, beware. You may wind up in one of her novels!

Kathleen lives in south Florida, loves to swim with dolphins, dances to any music that moves her, sings karaoke and is a social media junkie. Most of all, Kathleen loves to write and hopes her stories bring you back to what matters over all: the power of love.

Storytelling comes naturally to award-winning author Beth Ciotta. Dubbed "fun and sexy" by Publisher's Weekly, Beth is published in contemporary, historical, steampunk and paranormal romantic fiction. "I can't think of anything more fulfilling than writing stories where everyone (except the villain, of course) gets a happy ending!" A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing.

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The Keepers: Christmas in Salem: Do You Fear What I Fear?\The Fright Before Christmas\Unholy Night\Stalking in a Winter Wonderland 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Flowergirlzmom1SW More than 1 year ago
The Keepers: Christmas in Salem Do you fear what I fear by Heather Graham Samantha is the keeper for the Vampires. Daniel is her soul mate, he is also a Vampire. The council had a problem with them being together. They felt that a Vampire Keeper should not be with a Vampire. So they parted ways. Now there is this darkness and Daniel is back. Samantha does not know how she can bear to be around him. Daniel knows that he messed up when he left two years ago. But two years is a long time to think. He knows that Sam is his Soul Mate and he hopes to get the chance to show her how sorry he is and that she might forgive him. I thought that this was a great read. I give it 4 Stars. I liked how Daniel loved it when she got her temper going. I loved how the singing Santa would bust out singing a song that always seemed to fit the situation. I like Daniels willingness to defy the council to go after what he wants. I definitely recommend reading. The Fright before Christmas by Deborah LeBlanc Rebekah is the keeper for the Elementals. She dosn’t think that any of her elementals are responsible for the darkness but she does want their help to find who they do think is responsible. One of her Elemental Elders is late to a meeting that she called and while they are waiting the love of her life and old Rival Vaughn shows up. She cannot even imagine what he is doing there. Then they find out that one of the elders elementals is missing and they start to wonder if just maybe one of them is actually responsible for the darkness. Vaughn has always been in love with Rebekah. He never meant to hurt him when he left but he wanted her to be able to grow and be the best Keeper that she could be without him there to distract her. He was never far away. He was always in the background watching her to make sure she was safe. Now he knows that he can’t be without her any longer and he is hoping that she can find it in her heart to forgive him. I enjoyed this story. I give it 4 Stars. I like that he was willing to step in and help. I loved that she kept him in his place and when it seemed like he was trying to take over she would make it clear that she was the Keeper. Not him. I thought it was great that he was there for her no matter what. I would highly recommend reading this one. Unholy Night by Kathleen Pickering Katie Sue is the Keeper of the Selkies. She has been in love with Jett since the moment she met him when they were seven years old. As she anxiously waits for him to return to land as it has been seven years she thinks about their future. She’s been doing this a lot lately. She feels in her heart that she will have to end things with him because she knows that he will not choose her over being a Selkie. But once she is face to face with him it is hard to remain in that state of mind. Jett is madly in love with Katie Sue and all seven years he is away from her all he can think about is returning to her. He is so consumed in her once he see’s her that he does not notice someone sneaking up on them and stealing his Seal Coat. He needs this to return to the Sea. Someone has very harmful intentions towards Jett and very unsavory intentions towards Katie Sue. While the men are off looking for Jett’s Coat Katie Sue makes an amazing discovery of her own. One that gives her and Jett a different option. If they find his skin in time will Jett give up life at Sea to be with Katie or will she be able to give him another gift? I loved this one. I give it 5 Stars. I liked that although it was very hard for her, Katie Sue was willing to give him up rather than try to make him choose. I didn’t like that he just expected her to wait for him for another seven years although he knew how unhappy she was. I loved the fact that they both realized that they could not live without each other no matter what and they were both willing to make sacrifices to see that happen. I highly recommend reading. Stalking In A Winter Wonderland by Beth Ciotta June is the Keeper of the Witches. She is not sure how she will do. She does not think that she is as strong as her cousins. Now that she knows that the person behind the darkness is one of her charges she knows it us up to her to fix it. Which means she will actually have to get in touch with the Witches and Warlocks in Salem. Which means she will have to talk to Baz. The one she thought she was in love with. But when she found out that they were under a love spell eight years ago and he kissed someone else right after they ended things made her not have any faith in what they might have had. Baz thought that he was over June. But seeing her again all those feelings rushed back and he knows that he is still in love with her. He wonders if he will get another chance with her. If she will look past what she thought she knew all those years ago. But when they figure out who is behind the darkness he wonders what lengths he will go to, to protect her. Will they be able to defeat the darkness? Will June put the past behind her and have faith in them? In herself? I enjoyed this one immensely. I give it 4 stars. June is very unsure of herself and about how people feel about her. Baz comes off as very sure of himself but her rejection made him doubt himself. I like that they seem to be total opposites but they are meant to be together. I like that they bring the whole community together to do something good. I would definitely recommend reading. The Keepers: Christmas in Salem I give the anthology as a whole 4 stars. I thought that each Keepers story was great. I think that each of thema and their men had something to learn and come to terms with. I think that they all handled whatever problems they came in contact with great and I love that they had the men there to back them up and they didn’t try to take over. I highly recommend reading this. It was a great read.
Emsy-VanWyck More than 1 year ago
The Keepers: Christmas in Salem should be your new holiday must-read! The Keepers: Christmas in Salem by Heather Graham, Deborah LeBlanc, Kathleen Pickering, and Beth Ciotta, is a holiday anthology that you will want to add to your collection - whether you're a fan of paranormal romance or not. In four novellas - Do You Fear What I Fear? by Heather Graham, The Fright Before Christmas by Deborah LeBlanc, Unholy Night by  Kathleen Pickering, and Stalking in a Winter Wonderland by Beth Ciotta - these remarkable authors explore whether the force of what is quite literal darkness can be repelled from the historic town of Salem, Massachusetts, in time for Christmas. While I've read a few of books in the Keeper multi-author series, it's not one I've kept up with to my regret. I will make sure to remedy that after reading this fabulous holiday anthology, which, while focusing on and exploring many paranormal elements, was really a paean to the Christmas spirit - and true love. Whether the heroine was a keeper of vampires, elementals, selkies, or witches - the love each felt for their respective mate (vampire, empath, selkie, and witch) was a transcendent magic. In each story, we met one of the four Keepers in Salem who also were cousins. Each story featured star-crossed love (whether due to perceived cheating, unacknowledged affection, a separation of years, or inadvertent love spells), which was as important to resolve as it was for them to find the "big bad" who was literally keeping the whole of Salem in the dark. At the time of Solstice, when day light should have begun to return, the Keepers found that instead there was barely any sunlight. Would they be able to solve this mystery of who and what was creating this phenomenon in time to prevent another Salem witch trial - with themselves in the stand? As this anthology is set at Christmas time you may rest assured that authors Graham, LeBlanc, Pickering, and Ciotta will find a way to make sure that faith in good triumphs over evil. You would be ill-served for me to pick a favorite story from among these four as each was quite special in its own way. I loved how the authors maintained their respective styles, while at the same time carrying through with plot lines that appeared in the prior story. Beth Ciotta's conclusion to the series was quite the page-turner and the resolution, well - just remarkable. So, please make sure to add The Keepers: Christmas in Salem to your holiday must-read shelf. It's a classic that you'll enjoy year after year. I can imagine reading it aloud at a "girl's night" as a new holiday tradition, while baking cookies, wrapping presents, or just sitting back with some Christmas treats and a glass of mulled wine or egg nog in front of the fire. I received an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley for use in this review.
JackieBCentralTexasJB More than 1 year ago
Read from December 14 to 15, 2013 Book Info  Paperback, 304 pages Expected publication: November 5th 2013 by Harlequin (first published November 1st 2013) ISBN 0373885814 (ISBN13: 9780373885817) series Harlequin Nocturne #171 other editions (2) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links  AMAZON  B&N  BOOK SYNOPSIS This holiday season, armed with love and passion, can the Keepers stop the reign of Darkness? Christmas is coming to Salem, but so is an evil force that threatens all mankind. In this memorable collection led by New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham, four powerful Keepers must save their community as a strange, eternal night creeps over the town. Forced to choose between their time-honored responsibilities or the lovers their hearts desire, these four extraordinary women must risk their own happiness to save the holiday. But Christmas is a time for miracles, and as each Keeper's greatest longing is met, the Season of Light returns. Don't miss this magical holiday collection from Heather Graham, Deborah LeBlanc, Kathleen Pickering and Beth Ciotta. My Thoughts Read from December 14 to 15, 2013 The stories included are: Do you fear what I fear by Heather Graham , The Fright Before Christmas by Deborah Leblance , Unholy Night by new to me author Kathleen Pickering and Stalking in a Winter Wonderland by also new to me author Beth Ciotta . As a fan of not only Heather Graham and Deborah LeBlanc am also a fan of Christmas holiday setting for stories. This particular anthology appealed to me because have long been fascinated by the Salem witch trials and anything to do with magic really. For me this was an entertaining read but not one that lived up to the potential that the first Keepers trilogy and Keepers LA books showed. The main reason for this in my opinion is that although the characters were developed well each of the novellas were too similar to each other and even though each story does blend with the next it just does not work as well as it should have for me. I did enjoy meeting the 4 new Keepers but the stories just melted together too much for my taste. While this 4 novella anthology had a nice Christmas message the fact is it is basically 1 plot with 4 different second chance romances that serve as the main story lines with the secondary plot of figuring out who or what is responsible for the darkness which has settled over Salem and shows no sign of leaving does not carry enough of a punch when the cause is finally revealed. However the HEA ending for The Keepers and their significant others was a beautiful way to wrap up the book and am glad to have had a chance to meet cousins Samantha, June, Katie Sue and Rebekah and hope they may be featured in further books in the future. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]