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Wages of Sin

Wages of Sin

4.3 22
by Jenna Maclaine

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Dulcinea Craven descends from a long line of witches, and she has just inherited wild, untrained magical powers that she has no idea how to control. Now a ruthless vampire and an age-old demon are determined to enslave Cin and steal her power for their own. Her only hope is The Righteous, a band of warrior vampires who slay the rogue undead. Among them is Michael,


Dulcinea Craven descends from a long line of witches, and she has just inherited wild, untrained magical powers that she has no idea how to control. Now a ruthless vampire and an age-old demon are determined to enslave Cin and steal her power for their own. Her only hope is The Righteous, a band of warrior vampires who slay the rogue undead. Among them is Michael, a fierce swordsman who inflames Cin's most primal hungers. Showing her a sensual pleasure beyond anything in the mortal realm, she must choose between the human existence she has always known, and immortality as a vampire—a new life filled with forbidden urges, dark yearning, and unearthly passions…

Jenna Maclaine's Wages of Sin is "A wonderful blend of fantasy, romance, and intoxicating adventure, wickedly spiced with danger" (Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author).

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St. Martin's Press
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A Cin Craven Novel , #1
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  Chapter OneMy name is Cin. It’s an unusual nickname, one that always incites speculation about how I received it. Some say it’s because of the color of my hair, blood red and sinful. Others, the ones who whisper behind their hands, or cross the street rather than pass me on the sidewalk, say that it’s because of who I am, of what I am. Ah, what is that, you ask? I am a witch … among other things.They are all wrong, of course. I remember well how I got the name, who gave it to me, and why. So long ago, and yet sometimes it seems like only yesterday. I have been Cin for a great many years but I was not always her. Once I was young and sweet and innocent, just a girl with her whole life ahead of her.I was born Dulcinea Macgregor Craven. My mother called me Dulcie … .

Ravenworth Hall
Surrey, England 1815

“Dulcie, my dear, are you sure you won’t come tonight?” my mother asked, looking lovely as ever in an emerald satin ball gown, her copper red hair piled atop her head in a glorious mass of curls.“The Anworthys always throw a magnificent party,” my father said. “The punch is actually drinkable and there will be no end of eligible young men there,” he added with a wink.I laughed. “No, truly, my head aches. Besides, we’ve just returned from the Little Season and I’ve had quite enough of dancing and eligible young men for the moment. I think I’ll have some hot chocolate and retire early tonight. Do give my best to the Anworthys though.”“Darling, are you sure you aren’t staying home just to avoid Lord Montford? I hear he’s returned home.”“No, Mama, I just don’t feel up to going tonight. Lord Montford is a pest but he’s harmless.”“Can’t like the man by half, Dulcie,” Papa humphed, straightening his already impeccable cravat in the hall mirror. “If you know what I mean.”I did. My mother was a Macgregor witch and my father came from a long line of men who married Macgregor witches. Sometimes he could, well, sense things. My mother was always trying to get him to develop his skills but he always waved a hand and said it was nothing. Two witches in the family were quite enough, he’d say.Sebastian, Lord Montford, was a handsome, if somewhat overzealous, suitor of mine but he’d never been anything but a perfect gentleman with me. Heavens, we’d played together as children, though our friendship had taken a header later, as childhood friendships often do. I’d loved him as a child, hated him as an adolescent, and was surprisingly entirely indifferent to him as an adult. However, if Papa said he didn’t like him, then I had to respect that. I’d never known his intuition to be wrong. To tell the truth, there was something about Sebastian, something in his eyes, that made me uneasy also.“I know, Papa. I’m trying to dissuade him politely but he doesn’t seem to take the hint. Perhaps I should be more forceful, though I do hate to hurt his feelings.”“His feelings will mend,” Mama said. “It’s you I don’t want to see hurt.”“Posh,” I scoffed.“I want you to watch yourself around him, my dear,” Papa said. “Even the Devil can be kind when he goes courting.”“I can take care of myself. I am not a child,” I mumbled.“You are my child,” Papa said and wrapped his arms around me. I put my arms around him and rested my cheek against his frock coat. He kissed the top of my head and then ruffled my hair. “Now, any more of that and I’ll have to go up and have Sanders tie another cravat.”“Oh, we couldn’t have that,”I laughed, thinking of Papa’s starchy valet, Sanders.“My lord, my lady,” our butler, Masterson, said from the doorway. “The carriage is waiting whenever you are ready.”I hugged my mother. “I love you, Mama.”“And I love you too, Dulcie darling. Rest well and we’ll see you in the morning,” she said as she hugged me.I watched them walk through the door, my mother’s arm entwined with my father’s. She laughed up at something he said and he looked down at her with a smile filled with love.

I awoke suddenly, my neck and the back of my hair slick with sweat, a stray drop running down between my breasts. What had woken me? A nightmare? No, no. I looked at the ormolu clock on my mantel. Three o’clock in the morning. My parents should have been home from the Anworthys’ by now. My stomach clenched at the thought. Dear Lord, something was wrong.I threw my thick velvet dressing gown over my night-rail and bolted out my bedroom door and down the hallway. Stopping in front of the massive double doors of my parents’ suite of rooms, I suddenly felt ridiculous. Slowly easing one door open, I looked inside. No lamps burned in the sitting room but there was a small fire laid in the grate in anticipation of their arrival. I passed by it and slowly pushed open the door to their bedchamber. My parents had married for love and had never seen the sense in keeping separate beds, as many of the aristocracy did. They always slept together, curled in each other’s arms, but tonight the carved mahogany four-poster bed with its dark green velvet hangings was empty.I turned and hurried down the hall, my feet flying lightly down the great staircase. Masterson was asleep in a chair by the front door. Gracious, I thought with a smile, the man even slept like there was a steel rod running up his back, just his head lolling to one side. No matter how many times my parents told him he ought not wait up, he always did. Masterson took his duties very seriously. I touched his shoulder and softly called his name. He snorted and then looked up at me, not a wiry gray hair or a whisker out of place.“My lady?” he asked, and then blinked a couple times. “Ah, no. Miss Dulcie. Whatever is wrong?”I must have woken the dear man from a dead sleep because he hadn’t called me Dulcie since I had outgrown short dresses and pigtails. He creaked a bit as he got to his feet and straightened his waistcoat and jacket.“Masterson, I—” Good Lord, how did I say what I was feeling without sounding like a complete lunatic? I decided to lie just a bit. “I had a nightmare. Please, would you send someone down to the stable and have one of the grooms saddle a horse and ride to the Anworthys’?”He looked at me quizzically.“I know I sound mad and I hate to wake anyone up at this hour and send them on what is probably a fool’s errand but—”“Never fear, Miss Craven,” he said. “It shall be done.”“Thank you, Masterson. I’ll wait in the green drawing room.”“Very good, miss. Shall I bring you a nice pot of tea?”“No, thank you.”I walked into the green drawing room, poured myself a spot of my father’s finest contraband whiskey from George Smith’s distillery at Glenlivet, and walked to the terrace doors. Swirling the fiery liquid in the glass, I smiled. Masterson had not even blinked an eye at my request, but then he was well aware that ours was not exactly a normal household. Having been with the family since my father was a boy, Masterson was accustomed to the eccentricities of the ladies of the house.I looked up at the two portraits hanging on either side of the fireplace. They were my family’s two greatest ancestors. Ever since I was a little girl, looking at them had always given me a sense of calm and strength. I needed it tonight.The portrait to the left was of a beautiful woman in the first blush of her youth, all raven hair and dark blue eyes. Her name was Lorraina Macgregor and she had lived during the mid-seventeenth century. Now, some women become witches and some are born with an innate magical ability. The Macgregor women of my mother’s line are all natural, or hereditary, witches and Lorraina was the first to be born with the magic inside her.As is usually the case with the women of my family, her magical powers didn’t fully manifest until she was nearly twenty years old. Our magic is a patient thing, lying below the surface, waiting for the right moment to break free. I am a late bloomer. At twenty-two I still haven’t experienced The Awakening, but I can feel the magic inside me, waiting.Lorraina’s magic hadn’t come to her until after the birth of her daughter. Her husband had taken his men and gone to England to fight for Charles Stuart’s restoration, hoping that the support of the clan would be rewarded with the lifting of the Act of Proscription against the Macgregor name. The husband disappeared during a skirmish and was presumed dead. Knowing how much of their hopes the clan had invested in her husband’s plan, Lorraina left her baby daughter in her sister’s care and went to London to the new court of Charles II.Most people believe that Charles II lifted the proscription on our family name because of the Macgregors’ service to his father; but the Macgregor women know that it was truly because Rainy Macgregor seduced a king. She sent one letter home from court and was never seen or heard from again. To honor her memory the MacGregors name the firstborn female in every generation after her. My mother is named Lorraina and in my generation my cousin Lori has that honor.I walked to stand in front of the second portrait. She always made me smile. As is the case with many aristocratic families, we intermarry at an astonishing rate. My cousin Seamus’s sheepdogs have a cleaner pedigree than at least four of my very closest friends and, by the sound of the Craven family tree. you’d think we were not much better. For the last three generations, and not without a vast amount of eyebrow-raising from the ton, Craven men have been particularly taken with Macgregor women. Thankfully, the Macgregors are a large enough clan that I can claim only the most distant kinship on my mother’s side to any of my Craven ancestors.Painted when she was in her early forties, the portrait to the right is of a brown-eyed redhead, much like myself, though I fancy I’m more classically pretty than Charlotte Macgregor Craven. Her beauty lay in her strength; you could see it in every stroke of the brush. She was an iron lady, my great-grandmother.The letter that had come from Lorraina to her sister and infant daughter before she disappeared had been filled with prophesy. It was said that among her magics, Rainy Macgregor possessed the Sight. She warned of a great war between Scotland and England that would tear the countryside apart before another century had passed. Death would come to each and every door and the clans would be trampled under a butcher’s heel. She knew the men would fight for Scotland and as always it would be the women who were left to pick up the pieces. For nearly eighty years the women of our family had kept the letter secret and planned for the day when they alone would take destiny by the throat and bend it to their will. And destiny had handed them Charlotte Macgregor on a silver platter.A great heiress, Charlotte inherited fifty thousand acres of Macgregor land upon the death of her father. In 1740 the women of the clan fitted her out like a prize mare and her mother and aunt trotted her off to London to secure an English husband and ensure the survival of their family. Five short years later Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Scotland and the fields ran red with blood at Culloden as the Scots, Macgregor men among them, died for his cause. The clans were destroyed, their tartans and bagpipes outlawed, innocents murdered at the whim of the occupying English, but thanks to Lorraina Macgregor and the women of her line, a sanctuary awaited those family members who survived: fifty thousand acres of untouchable land belonging to the English Viscount Ravenworth and his beloved viscountess, Charlotte.I refilled my glass from the decanter and glanced at the clock on the mantel. Surely they were safe. I had watched Mama put a protection spell on the new town coach not three days ago. I may have been able to accomplish only the simplest of glamours, or float a book or the tea tray, but my mother was a powerful witch, a direct descendant of Lorraina Macgregor’s only daughter through the female line. Surely they were safe, surely.I set the whiskey on a table and pushed open the terrace doors, which led out to the small Winter Garden. I had to do something or the waiting would drive me mad.The high stone walls kept the garden marginally warmer in the winter months but the chill of the October night still made me shiver and wrap my robe closer around me. I walked into the center of the garden, stood there silently gathering my energy, and then closed my eyes and raised my hands, palms up. Breathing in, I opened my mind to the world around me, to the smells and sounds of nature. I willed myself to be still, to empty my mind as I’d been taught from childhood and let the Goddess flow into me. I felt the wind, heard the crinkle of fall leaves, smelled the crisp autumn air. I was searching for peace. I didn’t find it.One moment the world was calm and the next it seemed to spin around me. Maybe it was the whiskey. I tried to open my eyes, to take a step and steady myself, but I couldn’t. Not even my fingers would move. It was as if I were frozen, standing there in supplication, in darkness, the world whirling crazily around me, colors flowing and sparkling behind my eyelids.I heard horses scream and I began to panic, trying in vain to turn my head and look around, to find out where the sound had come from. A man’s shout and then the cracking of wood, loud as a gunshot. My eyes flew open. Whatever had gripped me was gone.I was breathing heavily but I stood still, so very still, as if by not moving I could pretend it hadn’t happened. The night around me was quiet, peaceful. The sounds had not come from outside the walls; they had come from inside my head.And then I smelled it. Roses and violets, my mother’s perfume, and in that single horrifying moment I knew she wasn’t coming home. Her soul had flown free and it surrounded me now like an almost tangible thing. I could feel her with me. Spinning around I half expected to see her standing behind me. There was no one there, no physical body at least, but something was there.Magic, her magic. I don’t know how I knew it but I did. It moved against me, tingling like warm champagne on my skin. I held my hands out and my skin glowed, golden and iridescent in the moonlight. What was happening? I threw back my head as the magic pushed into me, filling me, and as it did her magic Awakened my own.I should have experienced The Awakening, the gradual process of coming into my power, years ago but it had never come. It was as if it had been there inside me, patiently waiting for … something. The Awakening should have been slow, spread out over months or even years, but it burst forth within me like fireworks at Covent Garden. I could feel it mixing with my mother’s magic and spreading through me. It was like water cresting the rim of a glass, one more drop, one false move, and it would spill over. The initial warmth was beginning to burn. The magic so filled me that there seemed to be no room for anything else, no room for me inside my own body.I put my hands to my head as if I could somehow hold it all inside, but there was no way. It needed an outlet; it had to go somewhere or I would go insane. Screaming, I fell to the ground and the minute my hands hit the grass I felt all that power flow out of me.A wave of iridescent gold left my hands and spread out over the grass, the flowerbeds, the trees—and the earth absorbed it like rain after a drought. I watched in horror as all the carefully tended plants in the garden were sucked into the earth as if jerked from underneath by some unseen hand and then just as quickly pushed out again, like watching several months’ worth of growth spring forth in a matter of seconds.The pattern of the garden remained the same but the flowers were all different: evening primrose, moonflowers, jasmine, honeysuckle, night-blooming lilies and gladioluses, and a whole host of others, all in full bloom as they would never be in mid-October. Bloody hell. How was I ever going to explain this to the gardener?The wave of magic, that sparkling gold, hit the walls of the garden and moved back in my direction. I was too tired to move so I sat there and watched it come, as if I were sitting on a beach as the tide rolled in. As the magic surrounded me and seemed to absorb back into me, I waited for the pain to come again, that unbearable fullness, but it never did. The magic resided in me now, comfortable as it should be, as I had always known it would be, but there was so much more there than I had ever expected, not only my power but my mother’s as well.Mama. She was still here; I could smell her perfume.“Mama, don’t go. Please don’t go,” I cried, the tears finally coming, streaming down my cheeks in torrents. “I love you so much, you and Papa.”I heard a carriage, the jingling of many horses’ harnesses, but this time it wasn’t in my head. It was out in the park, beyond the garden wall where no carriage should be. The wheels and hooves sounded as if they were traveling over packed earth, not the soft rolling grass I knew was out there. Mama’s perfume grew stronger, as it always did when she hugged me.“I’m so afraid,” I whispered. “Don’t leave me alone.”I shouldn’t have felt warm out there in the crisp fall night, but as I smelled her scent so strong around me, I felt a peace and warmth that I hadn’t felt since waking. She was saying good-bye. So many people never get that chance and I was humbled by it.“I love you both,” I said to the night sky.I heard the ghostly sounds of the disembodied carriage moving again beyond the shadows of the garden wall, and then the night was silent.I had no idea how long I sat there in the cold, damp grass, crying, thinking, remembering, but mostly waiting. Waiting for someone to come and tell me what I already knew. I would have to be strong, my family would expect it, my parents would have expected it. Arrangements had to be made, the funeral services planned, the paperwork handled. I would be strong and wait. When it was over I could fall apart. I could curl into a ball in the middle of their bed and stay there for a month. But not yet, not now. My grief would have to wait while I accomplished what was required of me.And so I waited. It must have been several hours. I was numb all the way through, both physically and emotionally, when our housekeeper, Mrs. Mackenzie, found me. Her face was red and streaked with tears.“Dulcie,” she choked and swallowed hard, “there’s been an accident. The magistrate’s come.”I nodded once, stood with some difficulty, straightened my robe, and, running a hand through my hair as if I were always found sitting in the dew-covered grass in the middle of the night, held my head high and walked through the door.Copyright © 2008 by Jenna Maclaine.
Excerpt from Grave Sins copyright © 2008 by Jenna Maclaine.

Meet the Author

Jenna Maclaine has a degree history from North Georgia College&State University. When she isn't writing she spends her time caring for the eighty-plus animals that share her family farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Jenna Maclaine is the author of Wages of Sin, Grave Sins and Bound by Sin (available from St. Martin’s Paperbacks). She has a degree in history from North Georgia College&State University. When she isn’t writing she spends her time caring for the eighty-plus animals that share her family farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Wages of Sin 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the book so much bought hole series I wish there were more then three.
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FanOfSF More than 1 year ago
If you like paranormal love stories, buy it!
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Ms_DualListenality More than 1 year ago
Sometime it's wonderful when you find a book or series by chance. This was the case when I stumbled across Jenna Maclaine's Cin Craven series. I offered to read and judge some books for the upcoming RomCon and actually received Book 3 in this very series. Well that wouldn't do, I cannot read them out of order! I would have to get books 1 & 2. So I started the journey with Wages of Sin and dove into the world of Cin Craven and 18th century England. Her name wasn't always Cin; in fact she was named Dulcinea Cravin at birth as well as handed down a very rare talent. Dulcinea is a witch, descended from a long and powerful lineage of MacGregor witches. She, like her mother before her, was born with the magic inside her, not merely taught the art of witchcraft. In this first novel and through a series of events Dulcinea will come into her full power, lose the ones she holds dearest, find the man of her dreams and conquer unimaginable evil. This novel is filled with wicked lust, true love, intoxicating adventure, unbelievable fantasy and of course a werewolf, a demon and vampires, Oh my! It was a pleasure to take this journey back in time with the author and a delight to know there's more to come. Please add this to your To-Read list as well as her other 2 novels; Grave Sins & Bound in Sin. They do not disappoint.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1815 England, witch Dulcinea ¿Cin¿ Macgregor Craven loves her parents. So when they are murdered she is distraught with grief. However, she has no time to mourn her loss as an evil unwanted vampire stalks her ultimately biting her.------------ Cin knows she cannot fight off her adversary alone. She has heard myths about The Righteous Vampires a trio who resolved to do the honorable thing righting wrongs if they can when their species does harm. Cin conjures up a spell that brings them to her. They agree to help her, but quickly realize they are not dealing with just a vampire her monster is in servitude to a powerful demon. One of her three protectors, Michael, who is attracted to the witch, vows his undead life to keep her safe.--------------- This is the first act of the Cin Craven romantic fantasy saga and if it is any indication of the series, sub-genre fans are in for quite a treat. The story line is filled with action from the moment ¿Dulcie¿ as her beloved mom called her realizes her parents are dead and she is under supernatural attack. Cin is terrific as she tells her story in a first person account that brings to life the undead, the witches, and the undead witches. Jenna Maclaine provides an entertaining opening entry that will thrill readers who wonder what GRAVE SINS is coming next to Cin.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading through this, it's clear the author was inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but this is a pale copy in a historical setting that freely borrows from the cliches in that genre. The heroine's the only child of a English viscount and the latest in a long line of Scottish witches with a Spanish name (Dulcinea or 'Dulcie') who invokes 'the Goddess' from time to time. It's a mish-mash that could have been made much better with a firm editing hand to clear away half the underbrush.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful first novel. Looking forward to the next one.
joievie23 More than 1 year ago
Ok, so here's a new take on the classic vampire tale. We meet Dulcinea Craven in 1815 England when she's in her early 20's. She's a witch who's just about to come into her powers and her parents are recently deceased. She's then stalked by a vampire and a goddess. She calls on three other vampires for help. Devlin, Justine and the yummy Michael are known as The Righteous, and they defend humanity against evil vamps. So, Dulcinea now Cin becomes a vampire to defeat said goddess and be with Michael. The story's different because eventually we'll follow Cin and her friends up to modern times. We get to feel eternity with her which is kinda cool. And things were going fine until the vamps showed up. On the front cover of the book it says "she's a witch a vampire and evil's worst nightmare" or something, so we already know she's going to become a vamp. Why then, all the indecision? About half of the book was dedicated to Cin waffling about becoming a vampire. Come on! We know what she's gonna pick, let's move on. Anyway why would a bunch of vampires care about her plight anyway? She summons them and then throws a pity party because this guy won't leave her alone? I'm surprised they took the job. I would've been like, good luck out there girl! And her relationship with Michael seemed to take hold for both of them very fast. She even thinks he's be-spelling her when she's the witch. Plus he's been around the proverbial block. Shouldn't he be jaded by now? Maybe it's just me. The next book flashes forward 13 years and maybe that'll be better. I'll give the series one more chance, then I'm out.
kitkat3ny More than 1 year ago
This book was set in the 1800s and really surprised me at how much I enjoyed it. The night Dulcie¿s parents were suddenly claimed by death, she comes into her magic. Her magic is strong but also wild/uncontrolled. Soon she is pursued relentlessly by Kali the Destroyer a/k/a Demon Queen, who wants to possess Dulcie¿s magic for her own. She needs Dulcie to open a portal to hell. To help save her life, Dulcie summons Michael, a vampire who is a part of the The Devil's Justice (Michael), to help assist her in fighting off Kali. It is during this time that Dulcie sees that Kali will stop at nothing to steal Dulcie¿s magic; including hurting the people Dulcie cares about the most. Dulcie makes one of the hardest decisions of her life. She has Micheal turn her into a vampire to save the ones she loves and also stop Kali from acquiring greater strength. Rising as a vampire Dulcie changes her name to Cin. Cin has to go toe to toe w/ Kali and the steaks are high. This book has a little action, some sex and the chemistry between Cin and Kali is deadly. This book also has a mixture of paranormal romance and fantasy. I highly recommend it to paranormal romance readers. Urban fantasy readers (like myself) will find it a quick read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great! Action packed from start to beginning. Cant wait until the next one comes out. I believe that she is a fantastic writer.