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by Katherine Irons

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Katherine Irons returns to a world so close yet so far away, where beauty, desire, danger and deception await. . .

A Force Of Nature

Ree O'Connor is more than she seems to be. Despite her delicate appearance and her broken heart, she sees what others don't. In fact, she is an agent of a clandestine world court, about to bring down a monster when a


Katherine Irons returns to a world so close yet so far away, where beauty, desire, danger and deception await. . .

A Force Of Nature

Ree O'Connor is more than she seems to be. Despite her delicate appearance and her broken heart, she sees what others don't. In fact, she is an agent of a clandestine world court, about to bring down a monster when a stranger springs her trap instead. The mistake nearly costs Ree not only her prey, but her life, too—until mysterious Alexandros spirits her to an underwater world she never suspected, even with all her secret knowledge.

As a prince of Atlantis, Alexandros has centuries of experience in love and battle. His magic draws from the power of the ocean itself, and he can be just as beguiling—and just as unfathomable. Could any man heal Ree enough to become more than a sometime lover? And can she trust her heart to a soldier-prince of the deep?

Praise for Seaborne

"An enchanting tale that's to be savored." —Romantic Times

"A page-turning tale of forbidden love and ocean magic. . .it swept me away! —Sarah Grey

"A wonderful under the sea tour." —Genre Go Round Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Building on her imaginative Atlantean paranormals Seaborne and Oceanborne, Irons creatively develops the complex undersea world of a humanlike race endowed with superpowers, extraordinary sexual prowess, and an uncanny knack for getting mixed up with human women in need of a hot Atlantean male. Prince Alexandros of Atlantis is an assassin stopped in his tracks when he catches sight of Ree O’Connor. Sexy Ree is chef to a ruthless Russian whose yacht steers under the legal radar. Alex saves Ree’s life when she’s caught in the crossfire on his mission to kill her boss, and they hit it off after a rocky start. As Ree becomes accustomed to undersea life, the attraction between her and Alex heats up, while courtly intrigue, assassin politics, and secret histories tightly weave through the plot. Distinct, interesting characters and subplots add depth to this rousing tale. (July)

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5.58(w) x 8.21(h) x 0.97(d)

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By Katherine Irons

Brava Books

Copyright © 2012 Katherine Irons
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-6144-1

Chapter One

Ranirao Atoll, Tahiti, the present ...

It was a night made for an assassin.

At three a.m., a thick layer of clouds hung low over the tropical island, swathing the thin crescent moon in ghostly shadows and wrapping the Anastasiya and her companion yacht, the Tsarina, in warm, hazy blackness. The heavy fog that rose from the surface of the ocean muffled the slap of waves against the vessels' hulls, dimmed the rotating searchlight from the Tsarina, and distorted the vision of the four guards stationed bow and stern on the Anastasiya. The all-encompassing mist provided a perfect cover for the figure that slipped soundlessly from the water and made his way onto the deck of the Anastasiya. Gregori Varenkov's luxury yacht showed not a single light burning, which suited the intruder perfectly. The Russian target had evaded retribution in Crete and barely escaped with his life in Rangoon. Grigori Varenkov had been judged and found guilty by a high court, from which there was no appeal. Tonight, the appointed executioner would carry out the death sentence.

Alex flattened himself against a lifeboat and assumed the color and pattern of the canvas covering as the thin beam from the Tsarina's searchlight scanned the deck, revealing lounge chairs and a table, a marble-lined hot tub, and an equally extravagant outdoor shower area. All was as it had been when Alex last scouted the yacht, except for one notable exception.

The shower was occupied.

Alex's gut tightened. He'd not expected anyone to be on deck but the two armed guards. Varenkov was fanatical about his routine and his security. Six nights a week, the Russian ate his evening meal in his stateroom, where he remained until twelve sharp, at which time a Zodiac arrived from the Tsarina with four guards to replace the ones on duty. Men stood six hour shifts around the clock, and walked the perimeter of the deck every two hours.

At twelve-fifteen, Varenkov showered for twenty minutes and retired, wearing only a towel around his thick waist, to his library where he conducted business by computer for three hours. At precisely three-thirty, regardless of the weather conditions, the Russian came up on deck to savor a large glass of Stolichnaya, his favorite brand of vodka. Varenkov remained for thirty minutes before returning to take phone calls from various associates around the world. This half hour on deck was when the target was most vulnerable.

Alex stared at the woman. In the six months that he'd stalked Varenkov, he never saw the Russian bring a visitor or an associate aboard the Anastasiya. And the crew and captain never came on deck after ten p.m. unless the vessel was underway or encountering bad weather.

This redhead, with her high, perfect breasts, neat waist, and long shapely legs that seemed to go on forever, shouldn't have been here on deck in the middle of the night. She wasn't the captain of the Anastasiya or one of the dozen or more regular crew members, and she wasn't one of the guards. That left only the chef who'd boarded the vessel in San Diego three months ago to replace the Ukrainian torturer who'd cooked for Varenkov for the past two and a half years.

Whoever she was, she was here, naked as the day she was born, and—to borrow a distinctly American expression— throwing a wrench into Alex's perfectly choreographed plan to assassinate Varenkov. Alex should have been angry. By Zeus's stones, he had every right to be. But the sight of such a delightfully formed female in a complete state of innocent seduction was almost more than he could be expected to endure.

Alex took advantage of the permeating darkness to move closer to the woman, and then held his breath as the searchlight illuminated her alluring figure once again. Had she been a figment of his over-active imagination? Or, had his imagination lent her attributes she didn't possess? He wasn't disappointed. She was real enough, he concluded as beads of excitement prickled the nape of his neck and trickled down his spine. Magnificent. She stood there as motionless as a Greek statue, back arched, head tilted back, letting the warm spray darken her red-gold hair and run in rivulets over her soapy body.

Though he usually had rigid self-control when conducting a mission, Alex's body responded. Heat welled in his loins, his pulse quickened, and his throat tightened. Human or not, she was a rare vision. And the males of his kind were not known for their disdain of sexual pleasures.

The woman's skin was unusually fair, almost alabaster in tone, and so silken in appearance that Alex could imagine what it would feel like to stroke and caress the curves of her ripe body. But regardless of the delight he might take in admiring such lush perfection on an ordinary evening, her presence tonight might ruin the best opportunity he'd had in months to take out the Russian.

The safest thing to do would be to eliminate her before Varenkov appeared on deck for his nightly vodka. In seconds, Alex could subdue her and dump her body over the side, where the sharks would quickly dispose of it. Predators prowled beneath Varenkov's vessels wherever they were anchored because Varenkov insisted that his employees chum the waters with bloody meat to attract them. Tonight, Alex had seen more than a dozen large tiger sharks feeding not only on the scraps from Varenkov's galleys, but on each other.

The sharks served a well-thought-out purpose. An Israeli swat team had nearly succeeded in ending Varenkov's career two years ago off Hong Kong. Three divers, who'd trained with America's Navy Seals, had actually made it on deck before the Russian's private army cut them down with a rain of armor-piercing bullets. Soon after, Alex noticed that Varenkov had added sharks to his yachts' safety net.

It was a clever scheme and worked well against human adversaries, but Atlanteans were not human. Alex had been trained to defend himself against sharks since he was a young child. While he had a healthy respect for the big ones, and for the danger of being present during any feeding frenzy, he didn't consider individual tiger sharks to be much of a threat to him. They could be merciless eating machines, but they were highly intelligent, and rarely took on an adult Atlantean who wasn't sick, feeble, or wounded. And he was none of those things; he was a warrior in his prime, with a lethal instinct every bit as developed as that of a tiger shark.

This unexpected civilian presented a huge problem in the middle of his killing zone. For more than a moment, Alex hesitated as duty warred with conscience. She was so close ... only a knife's throw away. He could be on her and do what had to be done before she could even cry out.

If only she weren't so beautiful ...

Humans and Atlanteans were natural enemies, and if Varenkov survived, many more lives would be lost. Yet, this female was a noncombatant. He could kill Varenkov or any of his guards without hesitation, and he'd never lose sleep over his actions, but murdering an innocent woman was different. Why hadn't she simply remained below deck where she would have been safe?

He cursed himself for his own weakness. An assassin had no room in his heart for pity, and less for allowing lust to interfere with his intent. Not to mention that he had out-distanced his team. Bleddyn and Dewi would be here before dawn. Attempting the kill without their backup went against his own code. Yet ... Varenkov had slipped through their net so many times before. Waiting for backup might mean that Alex would lose the best chance he'd had of ending the Russian's long reign of terror.

Abruptly, a movement to the woman's left caught Alex's attention. As he watched, one of Varenkov's camouflage-clad guards lunged out of the shadows and grabbed the female's arm. She cried out and tried to pull free, but he yanked her against him, pinning her with one hand and running his other over her naked breasts and down between her legs.

Instinct won over reason. Alex dove at the struggling pair, locked an arm around the guard's throat and dragged him toward the railing. The man fought back with all of his strength, but Alex easily overpowered him. He went over the side with only a single strangled groan. And when the searchlight again scanned across the deck, the woman had retreated to the shadows.

Alex's element of surprise was lost. The only sensible action would be for him to follow the would-be-rapist over the gunnel before he was seen by the woman or illuminated in the searchlight. But, by now the tiger sharks would be making the area beneath the boat a bloody mess, and he didn't need to compound a series of errors with a bigger one. Instead, he cast an illusion, assuming the likeness of Varenkov, complete with an oversized bath towel— which would have been a brilliant disguise if the real Varenkov hadn't chosen that moment to come through the hatchway.

For a heartbeat, the Russian froze and stared, his eyes bulging with shock. And then the towel dropped, and Varenkov raised his right hand, revealing a Makarov PMM semi-automatic pistol. Dropping to a kneeling position, Varenkov sprayed the deck with a hail of nine-millimeter bullets. Shouts came from the Tsarina, followed by the pounding of boots as the reinforcements came from the bow at a dead run.

A bullet tore into Alex's thigh, and a second one plowed a furrow along his neck. He dashed into the shadows and changed his appearance from a balding Russian gangster to a buff oriental soldier-of-fortune, complete with an automatic rifle and full gear. When the next rotating beam lit up the deck, Varenkov stopped shooting at him and turned his firepower on the woman. The bullet hit her midsection, knocking her backward, and Varenkov followed with a killing shot to her heart.

Alex had counted nine shots. The regulation Makarov PMM fired eight shots, but special models were often refitted for ten or twelve, meaning that Varenkov had either one or three bullets left. Alex decided he didn't like the odds. It was time to leave.

His mistake was to cast one final glance at the dying female. She lay stretched on the deck, eyes open, hand out-stretched in a plea for mercy. Blood seeped from under her body and ran in rivulets into the hot tub, turning the salt water an ominous scarlet.

"Mother of Ares!" Alex swore. He couldn't leave her. He scooped up the woman in his arms and leaped over the side as the Russian emptied the chamber of his pistol in their direction.

Out of fire and into the caldron! Now, men were shooting at him from the deck of the Tsarina as well. Hungry sharks and armor-piercing bullets. Perfect. Alex hated guns. The use of guns proved just how depraved humans were—they weren't content to destroy each other with natural means; they had to resort to all sorts of flesh-destroying inventions.

A ten-foot tiger shark came at him, and Alex used a burst of imagination to conceal both himself and the female with the illusion of a thirty-eight-foot squid. As an additional incentive for the shark to turn its attentions elsewhere, Alex included a good measure of ink and one spiked tentacle. The tiger shark backed water, rolled his eyes until the whites showed, and turned his attack on two of his comrades who were fighting over a tattered fragment of what had been the unlucky guard's right leg.

Alex couldn't hold the disguise for more than a few seconds. Sharks weren't nearly as easy to fool as humans. He used the respite to dive deep and put distance between him and the two yachts. Two sharks followed, and he had to dispatch one and wound the other before it broke off the encounter.

Watercraft erupted from the Tsarina overhead. Any moment, Alexander expected Varenkov's private army to begin strafing the water and dropping depth charges that would shred him, the human female, and the sharks indiscriminately. Dismissing the finned predators as the lesser of evils, Alex swam for his life. He would have made an easy target if the sharks pursued him, but when the first explosions sent shocks through the water, the sea wolves scattered as well.

By the time Alex reached the underwater cave at the edge of the atoll, the woman had been deprived of air for a lethal amount of time. Noble try, he told himself. She's gone, drowned, shot to death, or both. She was human, after all. Not his worry, not his fault.

Except it was his fault. He'd screwed up. If he'd abandoned the mission when he'd first caught sight of the female, she'd be alive. He'd been too cocksure, impatient, and certain that he could improvise and still take out Varenkov. He should have waited for Bleddyn and Dewi. He could just picture himself attempting to explain how things had gone so wrong so quickly.

Poseidon and the high court would have none of it. Alex's mission. His responsibility. He was supposed to be a professional. How many kills? He'd lost count of the enemies he'd eliminated in the past several hundred years. All clean hits with no loose ends. And now this ...

Already the damage done by the bullets to his flesh was healing. The sea had marvelous healing powers—if you were an Atlantean. Humans were much frailer creatures. Their bodies tended to break easily, and they had only elementary regeneration powers. Their life spans were minute, barely a hundred years, and they died of diseases that Atlanteans had conquered eons ago. The kindest thing he could do would be to let the woman's body drift away on the tide, to give her to the sea. Her body was only a physical shell, and it was not as if her spirit would be lost for eternity. Even humans were reborn in new bodies.

But he kept remembering how vulnerable she'd been— first to the guard who'd tried to assault her and then to Varenkov, who had ruthlessly turned on her. She'd been unarmed and helpless, and the Russian had shot her down without hesitation.

Still, it had been Varenkov who'd killed her, not him. His responsibility was to his own people and finishing the job he'd been given. Let her go and forget she ever existed, Alex told himself. Make at least one logical decision today.

Instead, cursing himself for being all kinds of a fool, he bent over her and covered her mouth with his. He summoned the blue force and breathed healing energy into the woman's lungs. Live!, he commanded her silently. Live!

Nothing. Her head hung back, her red-gold hair streamed out behind her in the rushing surf, and her limbs and torso dangled limply in his arms. Her blue eyes were lifeless, as flat as glass, without a spark of illumination.

"Damn you!" he cursed. "Obstinate woman." He cradled her against his chest, pressed his lips to the hollow of her throat, and willed her to fight. The effort was tremendously draining. He could feel his own strength ebbing.

Stubbornly, he refused to surrender her. He forced himself to swim deeper into the cave, threading through narrow passageways until, at last, he surfaced on a starlit strip of sand. They were deep beneath the landmass. The light here came from the shells of a giant clam, the urrou, that had become extinct in his grandfather's time. Long ago, the warlike inhabitants of this part of the world, distant relations of the Atlanteans, had used the shells as sources of light.

Arching cave walls and ceiling rimmed the narrow beach, but the sand was soft and dry. Alex carried the woman out of the water and laid her on the warm shoal. Was it his imagination, or had her color improved? He pressed his fingertips against her lips, but he could feel no breath of life. With a sigh, he gathered her in his arms once more and again breathed into her mouth.

She stirred and gave a weak moan.

Alex ground his teeth together. "I'll be sorry I did this. I'm sorry already." The sound of running water caught his attention, and he glanced toward the source. A spring bubbled from one wall of the cavern. Humans need fresh water, he reminded himself. When they'd left the sea, salt water had become poisonous to them. How crazy was that?

He put the woman down again, carried a broken conch shell to the spring, and filled it with fresh water. Returning to her side, he cradled her head and began to drip the liquid between her lips, one drop at a time.


Excerpted from Waterborne by Katherine Irons Copyright © 2012 by Katherine Irons. Excerpted by permission of Brava Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Waterborne 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by: Robin Book provided by: Publisher Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Mermen, an Atlantian Prince, giant seahorses, dolphin spies…yes I said dolphin spies. This all included in a refreshing book that belongs to the series Seaborne by Ms. Irons. Taking us to the deep depths of the sea where we find the city of Atlantis. The story takes us between beautifully depicted world underwater and the human/civilian world. Alex an Atlantian Prince is on a mission to kill a civilian when he comes across beautiful Ree, an assassin out to kill a very bad Russian. Ree’s is injured in the process of her job. Alex not wanting to just leave Ree’s to die he takes her back to his home in Atlantis where he helps her to heal. Ree’s has given up on relationships. Her fiancé/partner was killed and she is still dealing with the loss. But, as she heals she finds herself falling for headstrong Alex. She loves his family and all that comes with life under the sea. Later as there is an attempt on Alex’s life Ree’s they find themselves working together for the same common goal. Hot Merman sex…hmmm… I found out after choosing this book that it is a part of a series of which I didn’t read the first two. I do want to say that although this book can defiantly stand on its own I think that some questions could be cleared up a little with the reading of the first two books. Sometimes there is just a need for a little background info and I found this to be one of those times. I liked the whole way that Ms. Irons had of bringing to life a whole new world but…yes there is a but…I didn’t feel that strong connection between Alex and Ree’s that you usually find in books where romance and sex is involved. They are perfectly matched for each other but the build-up just didn’t happen. I kind of missed that chemistry. I think it may have been that they were both so strong and independent that the connection just didn’t seem real. I did enjoy the feel for Atlantis with the whimsical Seahorses and the Dolphin spies. It brought the thought to mind that perhaps dolphins are spies and we just don’t realize it. Ms. Iron’s touched on the fact that Ree’s has an ability; but didn’t explore it further (which I feel would have been fun). The story seems a little unfinished making me think that 1. I should have read the other two or 2. Ms. Irons may have another story in store to tie it all together. Whichever it is, this story holds allot of action, mystery and hot mermen that will keep you engaged even without that spark of chemistry. Taking you to another realm that opens up the possibilities of more stories of roads or should I say waters not traveled. For those who enjoy something different.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You know a book is good when you look for more. I can't wait to see what she writes next. I will be waiting...patiently.
TSteiner More than 1 year ago
I have wanted to read this series for a while now. So I jumped at the chance to read the third book in the series, Waterborne. Alexandros has watched both his brothers recently fall for human women. Humans have never done much for him, but for some reason Ree stirs something in him. At first glance she seems like an unassuming woman. She also seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Only Ree is not what she appears. From early childhood, Ree’s life has been shaped and controlled by a secret agency. She was never a normal child and upon the death of her parents she has been in training to be more, much more. She is a proficient killer. Even though she knows there’s a different side to the world, she never expected to find a new dangerous world underwater. Now she must trust a man to save her life, but the last time she trusted and loved a man, he died. She will not allow that to happen again. Alexandros is an assassin. He has protected his family and Atlantis for countless years. His current assignment is no different; kill a man found guilty of crimes against nature. But when things go horrible wrong, he is forced to save a human. Intrigue, deception and danger are around every corner. Alexandros is now in a race to save Ree and the kingdom. I think what helped this novel was Ms. Irons’ choice to spread the story amongst more than just the main couple. There is a lot going on in this series and it was nice to see how some of the plots from prior books played out. While all three brothers have found their mates, I am actually unsure if this series is complete. It does have a finished feel to it, but the window for more is there. The story in general was fine. Nothing fantastic, but it was still engaging. I had that feeling with most of the series. There was just a little spark that was missing to make it great for me. For instance, Ree never lived up to her title. She was supposed to be an unparalleled assassin. I just couldn’t see it. She had a strong presence, but her skills were never really highlighted. Yes, a majority of the book she was trying to survive, but when push came to shove, I expected more. Alex was very heroic, but he took a bit to warm up to. It even took Ree awhile too. I enjoyed him, but he was just ok. Morgan is probably still my favorite of the brothers. I will say, without giving anything away, Morgan made the right choice in my book. Alex is perfect for the job! While their love story was pleasing to read about, their adventures were more enjoyable. I was actually hoping they would be more involved with some of the other background battles that were going on, but it was not meant to be. Ms. Irons has written a unique underwater world. If you crave a new paranormal world, this series might be for you. The creatures are diverse and she has developed a fascinating universe that is right under our noses. I do have to give her credit for her colorful and amazing abilities to world build. Personally, I think Waterborne does not stand alone. There are too many details that are enhanced by having the back story. I feel it is necessary to read the prior books to fully appreciate this novel. Ms. Irons has taken the tale of Atlantis into a remarkable new direction. It is distinctively hers and for anyone who enjoys oceanic tales, Waterborne and this series might be for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked Waterborne best of the trilogy. I thought Alex was a complex and fantastic character, and I loved the heroine, Ree. The ocean floor scenes carried me away. As for the reader who didn't know what happened to Alex's father, see the ending chapters of Oceanborne. This is an exceptional paranormal that held me spellbound to the last page and wanting more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the third book, and though it was good like the others, the author left you guessing as to the demise of the previous Poseidon. I kept reading and wondering, and was disappointed. Otherwise, it was still good.