The author of the “wonderful” (Tamora Pierce) Baba Yaga novels and Dangerously Charming is back with a magically mesmerizing new tale about the dashing and daring Broken Riders...
The Riders: Three immortal brothers who kept the Baba Yagas safe, now stripped of their summons to protect. But fate is not finished with them—and their new callings are even more powerful...
Though his physical wounds have healed, Gregori Sun, the eldest of the Riders, remains in spiritual turmoil. His search for his mother, the one person able to heal his soul and save his life, is failing—until he crosses paths with a beautiful and fascinating librarian who might be the key to his salvation...
Ciera Evans’s bookish ways are just a guise. The product of a difficult past, she has dedicated her life to saving lost teens—by any means necessary. She works alone, but when a dark, brooding stranger proposes they team up to solve both their problems, she is tempted—in more ways than one...
After Ciera and Sun’s plans are derailed by dangerous enemies, they find themselves entangled in an ungodly affair—one that will force them to either find new strength together or be forever haunted by their pasts alone.
About the Author
Deborah Blake is the author of the Baba Yaga novels, the Veiled Magic series, and the Broken Rider novels. She has published numerous books on modern witchcraft with Llewellyn Worldwide and has an ongoing column in Witches & Pagans magazine. When not writing, Deborah runs the Artisans’ Guild, a cooperative shop she founded with a friend in 1999, and also works as a jewelry maker, tarot reader, and energy healer. She lives in a 130-year-old farmhouse in rural upstate New York with various cats who supervise all her activities, both magical and mundane.
Read an Excerpt
Gregori Sun stared at his reflection in the spotty bathroom mirror of a cheap motel: waist-length straight dark hair pulled back in a tail, black eyes set at a slight slant over the flat cheekbones of his Mongolian ancestors, and the Fu Manchu mustache he'd worn since he'd become a man, longer ago than anyone who met him might imagine. The harsh glare of the light fixture glinted off the straight razor in his right hand. It trembled almost imperceptibly, a leftover echo of the debilitating damage he'd taken a year ago at the hands of the deranged and powerful witch who had once been his ally and trusted friend.
A deep breath and a moment's focused attention banished the tremor and steadied his hand for the task ahead. Sun entertained the wistful thought that it would be nice if all his other remaining issues could be dealt with as easily. But he was not a man who would have taken the easy way, even if there had been one available, which there was not. Hence this next step.
Before he could change his mind, the razor flashed-once, twice, three times. Black hair fell into the sink, its darkness a stark contrast against the pitted white porcelain, just as his former life was a stark contrast to his present existence and his future path. The acrid smell of the motel's antiseptic cleaner echoed his mood.
Now the face staring back at him seemed to belong to a stranger. Clean-shaven, with hair barely long enough to be held back by the leather thong he wore, the man in the mirror seemed somehow younger and more vulnerable, although he still wore Sun's habitual aura of impenetrable calm. As with much else in Sun's life these days, it was more semblance than reality.
The Buddhist monastery he was entering didn't require first-year novices to shave their heads, any more than it mandated specific formal clothing. Students were only expected to obey the basic rules and follow the regimen of study, practice, and service. Sun had laid aside his traditional red leathers and silks anyway, as another way of putting aside the past, and now wore loose black wool pants and a black cotton turtleneck more suited to the frigid Minnesota winters.
The commitment he was making felt worthy of a symbolic sacrifice, even if no one was aware of it but him.
This was a new beginning in search of a new man; he couldn't go into it looking the same as he had for more than a thousand years. Sun was so changed on the inside, he barely knew who he was anymore. His outside might as well reflect that.
The alley reeked of rancid garbage, burning grease from the Chinese restaurant at the far end, and other pungent odors best not examined too closely, the smell so strong it almost seemed like a solid presence. An abandoned collection of ramshackle cardboard, once the temporary shelter for a homeless person, continued its slow, decaying crumble down the side of the brick building to her left, and rats scrabbled over some half-frozen garbage in an overturned can to her right.
Ciera Evans ignored them all as she concentrated on her silent pursuit of the man she'd followed for the last six nights. He vanished into the back of a dimly lit building, the door gaping open long enough to reveal a smoky interior and a circle of men sitting around a faded green table playing poker. Drunken laughter spilled out into the night and then cut off with a slam that even the rats ignored. It was that kind of neighborhood.
Not what she was looking for, she thought. Not tonight. But soon.
She backed away, careful not to trip over anything in the alley as she tucked a stray lock of dark curly hair under the hoodie that kept her reasonably warm on this cold Minnesota night while also masking her distinctive features. The worn brown leather jacket she wore on top of the hoodie fit right into the usual local attire, so she wasn't too worried about being noticed on her way back to the car.
A couple of blocks away, though, Ciera realized she was being stalked in turn. Ironic, really. And a little inconvenient, but she could feel the pulse speed up in her throat and admitted to herself that on some level she was almost eager to be forced into action after long nights of watching and waiting and doing nothing.
The two men who followed her no doubt thought she was easy prey. They were about to find out just how wrong they were.
"Hand over your money and your phone and nobody needs to get hurt," said the bigger of the two toughs as they closed in on her. His heavy boots clattered on the icy sidewalk, the same sound that had alerted Ciera to her unwanted escort.
"That's what you think," Ciera said, using a low, raspy voice to disguise her sex. A twist of her wrists sent her fighting sticks sliding out of her sleeves and into her hands, and she set her feet in a stance that was both rooted and flexible. "Last chance to walk away, boys."
The shorter man, underdressed for the weather in ripped pants and holey sneakers, shook his shaved head. "Not a chance, dude. In case you haven't noticed, there are two of us and only one of you, and you're kind of scrawny. A couple of pieces of wood aren't going to save you." He nodded to his friend and they both moved in closer, scruffy faces wearing matching expressions of stubble-adorned menace.
"Too true," Ciera whispered, lower than they were likely to hear. "But a couple of pieces of wood and years of self-defense classes will go a long way."
She didn't bother to show off-showing off was a rookie mistake-attacking instead in a flurry of kicks and hits aimed at vulnerable knees, elbows, and collarbones that left the men lying groaning on the ground behind her. She shoved the fighting sticks back up her sleeves and kept on walking without a backward glance.
A few twists and turns later she was back at the car she always used for her evening forays. It couldn't be traced to her since it was registered in the name of a woman long dead. A practical vehicle, it also served to remind her of why she did what she did. The dead woman had been her friend. More than her friend-her savior. Now Ciera carried on her friend's mission, because it was the only way she could repay the debt she owed. And because she'd made a promise to the only person in her life who had ever kept their word to her.
Back in her apartment, she stripped off the anonymous hoodie and stared at herself in the bathroom mirror. She wasn't sure she recognized the woman staring back at her. It was hard to say which one was real-the face she showed the world during the day or the one she hid at night. Maybe neither. But if there was another Ciera beyond those two, she wasn't sure what that woman would look like. Or if she'd even like her if she ever had a chance to find out.
Sun unpacked his few belongings into the plain pine dresser that was one of only three pieces of furniture in his narrow room at the Shira-in Shashin Monastery, the other two being a twin bed covered with a wool blanket and a wooden meditation bench. Once he'd been forced to admit that he was unable to regain his spiritual balance in the solitude of the Otherworld, Gregori had crossed through one of the few doorways between that enchanted place and the more mundane world of Humans, and searched for a likely alternative.
After much thought, he'd decided to become a Buddhist monk, hoping that the peaceful, introspective path would finally enable him to find the connection to the spiritual world he'd lost when the crazy Baba Yaga Brenna had tortured him and his half brothers until they were nearly mad and on the brink of death.
In the end, the true Baba Yagas, Barbara, Beka, and Bella, had rescued them, with the help of Bella's dragon-cat, Koshka, and a hefty dose of the magical elixir known as the Water of Life and Death. But even the powerful witches hadn't been able to get to them in time to save their immortality, and now he, Mikhail Day, and Alexei Knight were as mortal as the Humans they had chosen to live among. Mortal and more than a little bit broken.
It was a new experience for Gregori, who had spent most of his very long life in a state of poised, calm control, at one with the natural world and in harmony with the universal energy that surrounded him. He had always supposed that this was in his nature, although nurture had certainly played a part, since his mother had been a powerful Mongolian shamaness. Now that he had lost that connection and balance, he questioned everything he'd ever been. And had no idea of what he would become.
Gregori hoped that embracing the monastic lifestyle would give him back the equilibrium he had always taken for granted. At the very least, it should be quiet; quite the change from the years he and his brothers had spent as the Riders, companions and warriors for the Baba Yagas, who traveled together in between assignments, brawling and drinking and generally enjoying one another's company.
Those days were behind him now, for better or for worse, and the sooner he accepted it, the better off he'd be.
Broken bones eventually mended. Broken spirits were a much more difficult and lengthy matter.
Sun had chosen the Shira-in Shashin Monastery for a number of reasons, including its somewhat nontraditional approach; its roots in Yellow Shamanism, which sprang from the same Mongolian soil that he had; and its location in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Admittedly, the location wouldn't have been a selling point for most people, with its bitterly cold winters and abundant snowfall. But Sun enjoyed the stark beauty of the landscape, which reminded him of the Siberian steppes where he and his long-lost mother had taken yearly treks with her disciples when he was a child. Its proximity to the Wilson Library, part of the University of Minnesota, was the other basis for his choice, since he thought it was his best chance of actually tracking her down. If she was still alive, which even he realized was unlikely in the extreme, given the many centuries that had passed since he'd last seen her.
Still, as someone who had spent his life in the company of Russian fairy-tale witches and their Chudo-Yudo dragon companions, traversing the boundaries between the Human world and an enchanted land filled with faeries, ogres, and other mystical creatures, Gregori Sun knew better than most that unlikely was not the same thing as impossible.
He had already made the decision to enter a monastery; it was possible that a rare moment of sentimentality had influenced his choice as to which one. Either way, the Shira-in Shashin program offered him both discipline and freedom, a vital combination.
The expectations for a layperson living at the monastery were simple: hours spent in meditation and study, following the general rules of the residence (no alcohol, drugs, sex, or violence), and performing some form of community service. Other than that, his time was his own, which would allow him to pursue the knowledge he sought.
It was assumed that most who entered would eventually find the constraints of the spiritual life to be unappealing and leave. Those who did not would be allowed to continue the long path that would lead to becoming a monk.
Sun hoped to find some kind of peace and perhaps a place to live out the rest of his life. Giving up the temptations of the outside world was no hardship at all. If anything, it would be a relief. There was nothing out there for him anymore.
Ciera was doing some research on the computer at her desk when someone cleared his throat gently. She started, dropping the pen she was holding so that it hit the desk's cluttered surface with a muffled thud, rolling from there onto the white tile floor. She prided herself on her ability to be aware of her surroundings at all times; she couldn't remember the last time someone had approached her without her sensing their presence. And yet a man stood in front of her desk, and she hadn't even known he was there.
Of course, now that she saw him, he was impossible to miss.
The dark hair and sharp Asian planes of his face were attractive-maybe even striking-but there was something more than mere handsomeness about him. Some might have thought his expression stern, but Ciera thought he had a kind of poised, self-contained air that made him stand out from most of the people she met, and yet there was a sadness in his black eyes that made her instinctively want to reach out to soothe whatever it was that had caused such pain.
The strength of her reaction caught her by surprise. Men weren't a part of her life, not outside of professional interactions, anyway. She'd made that choice a long time ago and never for one moment regretted it. Until now. She ducked under the desk and scooped up her fallen pen, using the action to get a grip on herself. It's pheromones or something like that, she told herself sternly. A chemical reaction at the back of your brain. Ignore it and it will go away. At least as soon as he does.
She sat up, back straight as she put the writing implement down with a decisive click, and put one hand up reflexively to make sure that her unruly kinky-curly hair was still firmly tucked into the neat bun she always wore it in at work.
"Good afternoon," she said in a pleasant voice. "Can I help you with something?" There, see? Nothing but business.
"I hope so," the man said, his voice smooth and deep and touched with the hint of an accent. Russian, she thought, although from his looks she would have expected maybe Japanese or Chinese.
There were plenty of foreigners who did research at the Wilson Library, with its special collections covering such esoteric branches as the Ames Library of South Asia and the East Asian Library, both of which contained parts of her areas of expertise, as did the Bell Library, located on the fourth floor, which housed noncirculating rare books, maps, and manuscripts that documented trade and cross-cultural interaction throughout the world prior to around 1800. Maybe he was a professor she hadn't met yet, or some kind of visiting expert. He certainly didn't seem like a student, although these days, you never could tell. She thought he might be in his thirties, or possibly a youthful forty.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
An ingeniously amazing installment Deborah's Broken Riders series! “A witch, a Rider, a dragon, and a god walk into a monastery…” Dangerously Divine by Deborah Blake is the second ingeniously amazing installment in Deborah’s Broken Riders series. This series is a spin-off from and set in the same world as the author’s Baba Yaga series, a highly imaginative fractured retelling of the Russian Baba Yaga folk tales. This tale features Gregori Sun, the eldest Rider, who is struggling to control new powers gained when he lost his immortality. Fans of Deborah’s Baba Yaga series will be delighted to find characters from that series appear and play strong supporting roles in her Broken Riders series. Sharing the spotlight with Gregori in this story is a new character, Ciera Evans, a university librarian by day and a vigilante by night. While you could enjoy Dangerously Divine as a stand alone, my recommendation is to start at the beginning with the Baba Yaga series and then the Riders. They work best that way and, truly, you won’t want to miss one spellbinding moment! Gregori’s always been the unflappable Rider, but since losing his immortality, he’s lost his way. He used to be able to effortlessly connect to the universe’s energy with a single thought. Now, he’s beset by disturbing visions, precognition that he doesn’t trust nor know what to do with, and a healing gift that he can’t control. Seeking elusive inner peace, he enters a Buddhist monastery to pursue becoming a monk while using his free time to search for his mother, a female Mongolian shaman, who may be able to help him. With limited options, he doggedly continues his search for her even though his mother has probably been dead for hundreds of years. Still, driven to follow every possibility, he enlists the aid of Ciera, the librarian at the university to assist his research as to where his mother may be found. Ciera is curious as to why this sexy monk-in-training is interested in a Mongolian shamaness, but Ciera holds close her own secrets. She is not who she appears to be - intent on a clandestine mission of her own. I loved both of these characters! My heart went out to both of them as they’d both suffered such terrible trauma and sorrow. Would they ever learn to trust and follow their hearts? Their story kept me riveted from the first to the last… I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Baba Yaga book and the first Rider book, but Dangerously Divine is my favorite of them all with wonderful characters, steamy times, action and danger galore, laugh-out loud moments and unexpected twists at every turn. I can’t wait to return to Barbara’s Baba Yaga/Rider world with Alexei’s story. It will be Deborah’s final Rider book. I fervently hope that that it won’t be the final book written in Deborah’s Baba Yagas' universe! My full review is published at Reading Between the Wines Book Club. Please check it out there!
This book has it all; An Asian looking dude with a Russian accent, who's lost his inner cool leaves Otherworld to rejoin the land of the Humans to become a Buddhist monk at a monastery in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He's also searching for his mom, who was a powerful Mongolian shamaness, and who might or might not be alive. So, of course, he goes to the library to conduct research where he meets librarian, Ciera Evans. Ciera might look like the stereotypical librarian by day, but that is only one aspect of her nature. She trades her uptight bun, and understated clothing, for jeans, a hoodie, a braid and volunteer work at a local soup kitchen. Where Sun just started working. Boy, is he in for a surprise. Both have secrets, both have no time for the opposite sex. Monk, remember? But the universe and others have their own agenda, and things quickly heat up. This is a slightly twisted story that I loved to pieces. Keira and Sun are just friends (so they keep saying), helping one another while lusting after, and falling in love with each other. Not that either will admit it. Just to keep things jumping, we have teenage runaways, a Baba Yaga or two and their companion dragons (luckily disguised as earthly pets), a god, a goddess, a couple of villains, and lots of monks. That's when things cool down, way down. Lots of action, twist, turns, hilarity, and an intriguing cast of characters that are so real, and fantastical, that I can't get enough of them. Thankfully there are more books in this wonderful world which the author has done a fantastic job of creating. The only thing which kept me from giving the book a higher rating was the fact that Keira suddenly knew things towards the end, that she couldn't have known. Oops! But thankfully, it wasn't enough of a distraction to prevent me from enjoying the story and eagerly awaiting the next. I will be reading lots more books by this author.
This is the second book in the Broken Riders series, which follows the adventure of each of the three brothers after their loss of their immortality. Gregori Sun is having issues beyond the loss of his immortality as visions of impending wintry doom seem to almost overwhelm him. Being unable to find his calming center, he seeks to change his life by joining a monastery and pursuing his remaining time in calm meditation and reflection. He also is looking to find information on his mother's whereabouts, because she may be able to help him with his visions, but this quest leads him to a unique librarian, Ciera, who not only works in the library but also at the local soup kitchen working with the homeless. As his path crosses with Ciera more than once, Gregori cannot help but admire her strength and daring, and wonders what it is about her that draws him to her. As with the other stories in this and the Baba Yaga series, the story is filled with sometimes complex characters, as well as action, romance and magic. I can't wait to finish this series with Alexei's story in volume #3.
Review written by Marie for Ever After Book Reviews! Ms. Blake has always been a talented author. I typically enjoy everything that I read by her, so I wasn’t expecting Dangerously Divine to be any different. And… it wasn’t From the get-go, I knew this book was going to be awesome. The strong hero, Gregori, is everything you want in a leading man. He’s strong, dark, handsome, and vulnerable. Ciera, the heroine, is equally as strong. She’s beautiful, head-strong, and a perfect match for Gregori. Their chemistry is almost instantaneous, and I loved their interaction with one another. The storyline itself was interesting, fun, and exciting. Once this book takes off, you’d better be prepared to hold on tight for this ride! ***I voluntarily read a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own***
I enjoyed reading this book. Glad he found love.
Dangerously Divine by Deborah Blake is the 2nd book in her Broken Riders spinoff (Baba Yaga) series. Having enjoyed the first book in this series (Dangerously Charming), I looked forward to reading this book, and I am happy to say I enjoyed it as much or even better. Gregori Sun, our hero, is a broken rider, who due his torture by the hands of insane Baba Yaga witch, has lost his immortality. Gregori feels lost, unable to feel his spirit, and enters a monastery, where he feels he is now best suited to be. Gregori, at the same time, spends his spare time at the local library, trying to research clues to finding his spiritual mother, who can help heal him; and teach him how to use his new found healing powers. Ciera Evans, our heroine, is the librarian, who helps Gregori find the books he needs. Ciera, leads a secret life outside of the library. She is hiding from Victor, a dangerous man who imprisoned her and had her on drugs. She was saved by a friend, who was murdered, and now Ciera is a vigilante, helping abused teens, fighting the dangerous men who hurt them, and revenging the man who murdered her friend. Gregori is intrigued by Ciera, who he keeps running into, whether at the library, soup kitchen (where she works), or on the streets. He finds himself becoming attracted to her, as she is to him. But both know there can be no future. When Gregori starts getting closer to finding his mother, someone is out to stop him and a god of winter brings down havoc of ice and snow that threatens the town. Bella (one of the Baba Yaga’s) and her dragon/cat Koshki , come to help Gregori. Together they will ask Gregori’s father (God of Spring ) to help stop the horrific storm At the same time, Ciera finds herself in terrible danger, as the person she has been hunting has found her, and now she is at his mercy. Will Gregori be able to find her and save her? What follows is an exciting adventure, which kept us glued to the book during the last half. I loved Gregori and Ciera together, as they were different, but similar in both being effected by tragedies; but I rooted for them to find their way to each other. To tell too much more would be spoilers, which I do not want to give, as you need to read both books in this series. Dangerously Divine was an enjoyable read that was exciting, intense, a sweet romance, great couple, and fun spending time with a Baba Yaga and Koshki (very funny) . Dangerously Divine was another fun story. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.
What an amazing ride Deborah Blake has taken us on! The three immortal brothers, protectors of the Baba Yagas, have lost their immortality to a power hungry individual and now the always confident, Gregori, is struggling to find his way. Dangerously Divine is Gregori’s story. Gregori has decided to become a monk, following a spiritual path that his mother had instilled in him since an early age. As he goes down the path toward monkhood, he also wishes to discover whether his mother is still alive. Gregori goes where anyone would go to do research, to the library, where he meets a librarian he just can’t get out of his mind, Ciera Evans. Ciera is on the run from someone in her past and is weary of anyone new. When Gregori turns up at the library she doesn’t think much of it but then he also keeps showing up in other places in her life she suspects him of being an agent of her ex, the one she is running from. Gregori’s explorations into the elusive spiritual group that his mother started kicks off a goddess’ wrath, endangering Ciera, Gregori and everyone living the city. Together they must protect those they've come to care for and work together before its too late. Dangerously Divine was a gripping and completely riveting paranormal romance. I have loved the Baba Yaga series from the first installment I read and am now devouring Blake’s storytelling with the Broken Riders series. What else could a fan ask for…crossover characters, same Baba Yaga world, an explosive, action intense plot AND a swoon worth romance! I received this ARC copy of Dangerously Divine from Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review.
This is book two in the Broken Riders series. That series is a spin off from the Baba Yaga series. I have not read any of the previous books and at times I did feel like I was missing some background. Even so I had no trouble keep up with the characters and the story line. I liked the two main characters. Gregory Sun is the ultimate strong and silent type. In his case that is not a strength. Ciera Evans has a very big secret in her past and she keeps to herself to protect that secret. The two keep trying to protect themselves by keeping apart. Does not work that well. I enjoyed the world building, backstory and plot. A very interesting romance mixed with a lot of danger and tension. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
I really enjoyed being back in this world full of magic, the fae and of course the Baba Yagas . What makes this book so special though is the previously unflappable Gregori Sun. Gregori has always seemed the one most in tune with the universe and his place within it but recent events have left him in inner turmoil. No longer immortal, no longer a Rider and now discovering latent powers that he has no idea how to control! Ok time to take action and Gregori feels his place is in meditation readying himself for life as a Monk but it turns out that perhaps the universe has other ideas ! Ciera has reinvented herself. No longer a runaway, no longer dependent on drugs but now a model citizen working as a librarian and helping those less fortunate. Oh who am I kidding? It would be a boring story if nothing untoward was happening and the truth is Ciera has a secret of her own ! Their initial meeting might be coincidental but there's a connection between them that confuses Gregori. Still he hasn't time for romance and really needs help discovering his roots but not everyone wants Gregori to retrace his past ! Most paranormal stories have good versus evil but this book offers us more than one villain and it's really a twisting tale that had me gripped. These Riders are so very different to each other and I would definitely recommend starting with the Baba Yaga books but right now it's all about Gregori getting his mojo back and he manages that with some very unexpected intervention! What can I say? With families you never quite know what to expect! This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair