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The Vampire Hunter (Harlequin Nocturne Series #175)

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Overview

A vampire hunter finds himself powerless to resist a bewitching stranger's dangerous magic in Michele Hauf's latest romance

In all his years of battling the undead, Kaz has never seen bloodlust like this. And as a Knight of the Stake, it's up to him to find out who's responsible for the mayhem sweeping the streets of Paris and put a stop to it. Kaz's task becomes infinitely more complicated when a very attractive witch wants to help.

With her ...

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The Vampire Hunter (Harlequin Nocturne Series #175)

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Overview

A vampire hunter finds himself powerless to resist a bewitching stranger's dangerous magic in Michele Hauf's latest romance

In all his years of battling the undead, Kaz has never seen bloodlust like this. And as a Knight of the Stake, it's up to him to find out who's responsible for the mayhem sweeping the streets of Paris and put a stop to it. Kaz's task becomes infinitely more complicated when a very attractive witch wants to help.

With her quirky charm and irresistibly kissable lips, Zoë just feels right to Kaz, the way no mortal woman ever has before. But as a sworn enemy of the supernatural, can he really trust a witch? Especially one with dangerous secrets of her own?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373885879
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Series: Harlequin Nocturne Series , #175
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michele Hauf lives in Minneapolis and has been writing since the 1990s. A variety of genres keep her happily busy at the keyboard, including historical romance, paranormal romance, action/adventure and fantasy.

Visit her website: michelehauf.com
Email Michele at: toastfaery@gmail.com

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Read an Excerpt

The vamps were fast, and he—well, he wasn't much faster, but he was skilled. A human matched against a vampire must wield some mean martial-arts skills or he had better be a track star. Kaspar Rothstein possessed the former, but right now he was contemplating the run. Yep, best to go for the run.

The sickening heat of a vampire's breath skimmed the back of his neck as he raced down an alleyway in the eighteenth arrondissement near Paris's shadowed Montmartre Cemetery. His goal: to lure the four vamps far away from humans and curious eyes. Rushing into an open cobbled courtyard behind closed businesses far from any tourists, Kaz stopped abruptly, planting his steel-toed boots.

With a confident grin teasing his mouth, he swung around, catching one of the vamps in the chest with a titanium stake. The vamp ashed before him, forming the shape of a person out of fried vampire flesh, bone and clothing.

"Happy birthday to me," he muttered his victory claim. Wasn't his birthday, but who needed cake to celebrate?

The three remaining vamps grinned at him. Kaz had expected the idiot longtooths to actually share a brain among them and run for their lives. But if they wanted to stick around for the party games…

"Come on," Kaz encouraged. He tucked away the stake and put up his fists. He hadn't gotten in a workout this morning. Time for some fun.

The first vampire charged him. Kaz managed to grab him by the scruff of the neck, and swung the gangly tormentor toward another of his rag-tag pack. Their skulls cracked, both swore, and they collapsed on the cobblestones.

The leader swung around with a punch that Kaz stopped with his open palm. "Nice to meet you. I'm Kaz. Vampire hunter. I'll be ashing you this evening."

"Wiseass," the vampire cracked.

Kaz gripped the miscreant's fist, twisted, and with a swing from the waist, rocketed up a high sidekick to his jaw. The heavy boots delivered damage by breaking jawbone. The attacker dropped, growling and spitting blood. The other two charged him with fists. Kaz immediately dropped the one on the left with a wince-inducing gut punch.

A female scream alerted him. A woman clung to the limestone wall not thirty feet from their little soiree.

"Get out of here!" he yelled at her, and caught a punch across the jaw. He tasted his own blood, and shook his head to chase away the bluebirds spinning about his skull. That one could have led to his death had it been a knockout.

Enough play. Best to stake them before they beat him to a pulp. But—hell, not in front of an innocent.

Frozen in fear, the woman watched their antics with wide eyes. Chills scurried up Kaz's spine. He delivered another kick and landed a vamp at the hip, sending it stumbling backward. He had to keep the vampires busy and away from her until she grasped her senses and ran. Only then could he ash these idiots.

Out the corner of his eye, Kaz alternated his attention between fight and female. Was she scared—or interested?

She leaned forward from her position against the wall, her bright eyes following the action. A vampire charged him; he landed a kick to a particularly vulnerable part of its anatomy, bringing it down.

Licking her lips, the woman seemed to marvel over the show.

"Go!" Kaz shouted at her, but too late he realized the command had alerted one of the vampires to their audience.

He swung a fist at an attacking vamp and took him out cleanly. The other vampire raced toward the woman and pinned her to the wall by her wrists. She didn't scream. That was good and bad. A scream would call attention to this altercation and alert other innocents.

But why didn't she scream?

Must be scared voiceless.

Wishing he could stake the attacker from behind, Kaz left the stake clipped at his hip. He ran toward the vamp, grabbed him by the head and shoulder and peeled him away from the woman.

"Wow," he thought he heard her say, as he landed on his back on the cobbles, bringing the vamp down with him.

Twisting to straddle the vamp, Kaz punched him repeatedly until the longtooth's lights went out, his hand sprawling across the toe of the woman's lace-up boot.

Springing up to stand in the center of the fallen vamps, Kaz looked over his mayhem. Fists still coiled at his sides, brows drawn and serious, he was ready for another four, or even a whole gang.

But the vampires were only out, not dead. They wouldn't stay down long. He had to get rid of the girl.

Lifting her chin, the woman looked up at Kaz with wide and wondering eyes. He had rescued her from a bite, surely. But the less she knew, the better. And if he could contain this slaying then he wouldn't have to call in Tor to do spin.

"Impressive." She stepped over the sprawled vampire and slowly approached him. Strangely, she clapped, giving him due reward. "Like a knight who fights for his mistress's favor."

Kaz arched a brow. He was a knight. But he couldn't tell her that. Why hadn't she screamed and run? That was the normal MO for unknowing humans who stumbled onto a slaying.

Something wrong with this chick?

As he looked her over, he took a long stroll over her black hair, streaked on one side with white. Her heart-shaped face was shadowed by the night. A soft gray blouse rippled with her movements, hugging a narrow figure. Black, high-waisted slacks emphasized long legs that ended in heeled boots. Sexy, in a business kind of way. If her lips hadn't been thick and plush and so pink, Kaz would have marked her off as just another accountant or pencil pusher.

But that mouth. All pink and partly open and—he swallowed—kissable. That mouth distracted him.

"Generally," she said, unaware of his distraction, "when the knight defeats the bad guys, his mistress grants him a favor, such as a ribbon or piece of her clothing for him to proudly display."

He rubbed his jaw and chuckled softly. "I'm not much for ribbons." But the moment jumped on him like a blood-hungry vampire and he went with the next move. "Guess that means I'll have to take something more fitting."

Kaz wrapped his hand about her neck and curved his fingers against her silken hair as he bent to kiss her distracting mouth there, in the mysterious shadows of a city he would never feel comfortable calling home. About them, the vampires showed no sign of coming to, yet he remained aware.

Two magnets, he thought, as their lips crushed, compelled to one another. Soft and wanting. The burn of her mouth against his flamed his tongue with the sweetest fire. The connection gushed through his veins and swirled in and out of his being. Made him feel alive, more so than even battling vamps did.

As well, this kiss claimed a certain void within him that suddenly breathed in, wanting to capture it all. To experience it all.

Really? Why had he suddenly started thinking like some kind of romance hero? It was just a kiss. He'd kissed lots of women. He'd admired many a pretty mouth, had shared breath with— Hell.

He'd never kissed a woman who felt quite so…right.

She wobbled on her tiptoes, and Kaz gripped her shoulder to steady her. And when he pulled from the kiss to dart a look back and forth between her blue eyes, he suddenly knew. He had never sensed such immediate connection before. Destined? No, he wasn't tumbling completely over the edge. But there were no coincidences in this world. People didn't just stumble into another person's life randomly. He'd believed that since the night Tor had found him behind Madame du Monde's.

Everything happened for a reason.

She fluttered her lashes and looked aside. "Nice."

Nice? It had been more than nice. That kiss had been…transcendent. Yet maybe she was too shy to wax as poetically as his brain was right now. No, not shy, but flustered. Her cheeks had pinkened and her lashes fluttered as she tapped her mouth. Kaz liked that he'd disturbed her with a kiss.

"Once more?" he asked on an aching tone.

This time when she tilted up her face to meet him, he hooked his thumb along her jaw, his fingers spreading over her cheek. His calloused fingertips touched a raised line of skin. Felt like a scar. She didn't flinch. Perhaps it was merely makeup or his rough fingers.

She moaned into the kiss and wrapped both hands about his waist beneath the long leather coat he wore. A greedy touch that he felt honored to receive. She wasn't like any other woman who had selfishly clung and groped at him while seeking to satisfy her desires. Kaz pulled her tight against his body. This woman fit there as no other woman had fit before. She felt right. Felt different.

Felt dangerous.

Right, man. Don't forget: vampires surround you. Get rid of her now if you want her to live long enough for another kiss.

Kaz broke the kiss. She nodded and smiled sweetly. Stepping back, she deftly navigated through the fallen men over to the backpack she'd dropped by the wall. She picked it up and hooked it over a shoulder. Kaz watched her, his lips parted, his eyes following her every move.

"I…" she began. A sweet smile struggled with uncertainty. She raked her fingers through her loose sweep of hair. "Suddenly, I don't know how to walk away from you." Her brows pulled together as she wondered about that confession.

The statement reached in and clutched Kaz's gut. It was so intimate. She didn't want to walk away? He could get behind that sentiment. He'd like to wrap her in his arms and take her home with him and leave the world behind. Unfortunately, the real world had begun to groan near his feet.

"Just put one foot in front of the other," he said, regretting the dire need to send her off.

The woman chuckled and touched her lips, as if testing to see if his warmth was still there. "What's your name?" she asked.

"Kaspar Rothstein." He walked around the circle of vampires starting to come to. "Kaz to friends and those I tend to kiss. And you?"

"Zoe. Uh, Zoe to friends and those who tend to kiss me."

At that moment, he fell, right into her stunning blue eyes and lush pink smile. Once again, his life had changed.

"Where do you live, Zoe? In case I feel the calling to beat up a second pack of idiots in order to claim another kiss from you."

She smiled at the suggestion.

Kaz really did know about this one. Mine.

"Down the street." She pointed in the direction she was headed. "Cerulean door. Can't miss it. But don't follow me. You've already been granted spoils this night for your heroic act."

"As my lady wishes." He bowed grandly, sweeping out an arm as if a knight genuflecting before his mistress.

Yeah, so he had his goofy moments.

The broad grin curling her lips matched his own as Zoe turned and strolled away, casting a look back over her shoulder.

She walked with a sensuous sway to her hips that he could imagine shifting side to side between his roaming hands as he danced with her. Kaz learned a lot about a person when dancing with them. It was safe, too, when surrounded by others on the dance floor and not all alone. Alone was fine, but only after he got to know the girl. Which, unfortunately, happened rarely due to his job. Ash in his hair and bloody stakes littering his apartment tended to turn them off.

A few groans alerted Kaz. He tugged out a stake with his right hand, and reached for another with his left—missing. He patted his hip where the stake was holstered—

No stake? He swung his gaze about, sweeping the tarmac, even as the first vampire rose to his feet. Had it fallen out when he'd been fighting? Had one of the vamps grabbed if off him?

The only one who had been close enough.

"Is that so?"

He chuckled and swung toward the vampire, a direct hit dusting the air with a fog of dark vamp ash. Before the other two could even rise, Kaz jumped over each one, planted the stake over their heart and finished them in succession. Four kills.

"But no closer to the prize," he muttered. For he was on a specific mission that required he locate a one-fanged vampire who had murdered innocents.

A glance down the street didn't spy Zoe. Kaz patted his back pocket, ensuring his wallet was still there.

"Interesting."

She hadn't gone for the cash, but instead for the one thing he should never allow to fall into the hands of the uninitiated. She'd called him her rescuing knight? The woman had no idea she'd gotten his title correct.

And the distraction of that kiss wasn't putting him any closer to the vamp he needed to get his hands on. He hadn't much to go on, but how many one-fanged vampires could there be in Paris?

Once he found the culprit, he needed to go deeper, to the source behind the vampire's attack. Someone was trafficking in a dangerously addictive substance in the city of Paris. Similar to faery dust but more like faery dust times ten. Humans were not safe from the addicted vampires who went after them.

"I will put a stop to it," he muttered, and strode down the street in Zoe's wake. "First I need to get that stake back. But not until I figure out what cerulean is."

Sid sat on the marble worktable, his big green eyes intent on every move Zoe made beneath the glass cupola capping her little tower in the sky. Purrs filled the room; the cat's resonance harmonized with Zoe's work.

The seventeenth-century mansion she lived in was narrow, yet high, soaring three stories. The third-floor tower room had confirmed her decision to buy the place five years ago. Perfect for a spell room. The curved, paned-glass roof let in the moonlight and opened the room to receive from the elements of air, earth and water.

She practiced all elemental magic, save for fire, a witch's worst enemy. Though some witches were talented with fire magic, Zoe had decided to focus on a more powerful magic that could alter the molecules of any object, even living, breathing flesh. Such magic was her father's specialty, and he'd taught her the basics before he'd had to go into hiding a decade earlier.

Because of his chosen study, the witches of the Light had declared her father, Pierre Guillebeaux, warlock. The Light did not approve of molecular magic. Witches must not alter living beings in any way beyond using magic to speed up the body's natural healing process. Only shape-shifters and demons were sanctioned to physically alter their bodies. But Zoe's father believed in the healing capabilities of his magic—that someone could heal himself or herself or otherwise alter their very being—something no witch was able to do. Instead of sacrificing the study of it, he had willingly become warlock.

She missed him. Though she hadn't seen him in ten years, she knew, wherever he was, he was well, yet that didn't dispel the emptiness in her heart. Since her mother's death when she was thirteen, her father was her only family, and though she had many friends, she craved an intimate relationship.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 14, 2014

    Unique and Steamy This is a unique take on the 'all paranormal

    Unique and Steamy


    This is a unique take on the 'all paranormal creatures are real' sort of world. Told from the Hunter's perspective~and he is one yummy, tormented, sympathetic hunter~this tale of love in all the wrong places stole my heart. The characters are rich and deep, their connection~though instantaneous~felt organic and believable. Kaz hunts vampires that harm humans. Zoe concocts a magical substance to help vampires kick a horrible addiction that is running rampant through their race, turning them into mindless, murdering monsters. Their paths intertwine in more ways than one and the heat level between them is off the charts despite some tangles in their developing relationship.




    The world is highly developed with some very original ideas that kept me reading and guessing. I'll never look at vampires or fairies the same again, and that is a very good thing. I would recommend this for all fans of adult paranormal novels.

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  • Posted January 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Read from January 09 to 10, 2014 Book Info  Paperback, 304


    Read from January 09 to 10, 2014




    Book Info 
    Paperback, 304 pages
    Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by Harlequin
    ISBN 0373885873 (ISBN13: 9780373885879)
    other editions None found
    Source:Netgalley EARC




    Book Buy Links 
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    BOOK SYNOPSIS








    A vampire hunter finds himself powerless to resist a bewitching stranger's dangerous magic in Michele Hauf's latest romance.




    In all his years of battling the undead, Kaz has never seen bloodlust like this. And as a Knight of the Stake, it's up to him to find out who's responsible for the mayhem sweeping the streets of Paris and put a stop to it. Kaz's task becomes infinitely more complicated when a very attractive witch wants to help.




    With her quirky charm and irresistibly kissable lips, Zo just feels right to Kaz, the way no mortal woman ever has before. But as a sworn enemy of the supernatural, can he really trust a witch? Especially one with dangerous secrets of her own?




    My Thoughts








    My first thoughts on starting this was how easily and quickly the story drew me in. The beginning starts with 16 year-old Kaz fighting off his first vampire and soon segues into an action packed alley brawl with 4 more years later. 




    As action packed as the story began once Kaz connected with Zoe things seem to lose their momentum, which was funny because a lot happens between the two together and seperately throughout the book.




    After giving it much thought the main reason for the pacing seeming to feel off was the fact that the clues to what was going on did not gel for either Kaz or Zoe until way late in the game, it just took too long for the dots to connect that the particular case Kaz was working on and Zoe’s magical secret project had something in common.




    Have you ever watched a game show, maybe Wheel Of Fortune, and gotten the clues while the contestants just shook their heads. It is so frustrating because no matter what you cannot reach them with the answers, it felt the same way throughout the investigation into who, what, when, where and the why of the addictive substance which was wreaking havoc on the Vampire community of Paris and which caused the death of two of Kaz’s friends.




    I felt like the story kept circling around revealing the puzzle pieces to Kaz and Zoe until everything came together about three quarters of the way and fell into place like dominoes. It made room for the pairs romance to grow but it also felt like there could have been less going on and things would have gotten solved sooner.




    The book still was enjoyable, the relationship between Kaz and Zoe grew naturally, the secrets in their pasts were resolved allowing each of them to finally feel free of the conflicting emotions each had dealt with alone for years and the villain was brought to justice in an ironic twist of fate allowing the investigation to close.




    Not a bad way to escape reality just not something that felt totally cohesive from start to finish as would read in fits and starts because for some reason just could not find the rhythm needed to keep me from putting book down.




    [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2014

    The Vampire Hunter Michele Hauf Review from Jeannie Zelos Book r

    The Vampire Hunter Michele Hauf
    Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
    I was thinking how lucky I'd been recently in my selection of books for review, with several four and five star ones in a row, then like a kind of book karma I’ve had a run of ones that, while good books in themselves, just aren't ones I’ve enjoyed for various reasons :( This was one such, its a well written book, just not one that held my attention with either plot or characters.
    I've read and enjoyed Michele's work before so was expecting to like this novel. It didn't work as well as I expected for me though. Maybe because one of the lead characters is human? I'm not really sure exactly what the problem was, maybe its just a series of minor things rather than one major one that sticks out? It's just that usually when I’m engrossed in a book I want to stick with it til its finished, and can't put it down. With this one however I kept putting it down, switching to other books and coming back to it. At one point I even had to go back to the start as I’d forgotten so much of what was important, and that almost never happens...anyway, finally got through it. Its Michele's usual excellent writing of course but the actual plot felt a bit contrived for me, and though the love story between vampire hunter Kas and witch Zoe was sweet that was it – I didn't feel great passion, strong emotion – all the things I need. I felt for an intelligent witch Zoe was incredibly naïve about the dust she'd been making, and would have looked further into what effects it had, especially once the stories were circulating about the recent problems. Kas, experienced hunter that he was, should have picked up the source far sooner. Of course then we wouldn't have the book :) so the elements were necessary, but I felt they could have been handled differently and made the whole thing more believable. It was an OK read, fine to pass a few hours, but not one I’d re read. As always though this is purely my view, and if you want a simple, paranormal love story this could well be the read for you.
    Stars: 2.5 – it was well written and edited of course, but just didn't work for me.
    ARC supplied by Netgalley.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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