Ava Kalle's empty soul devours magic. And her hunger is deadly. She's sharp, quick and can live in shadow, making her work as a spy for the Mages a natural choice. She lives on the fringes of society and likes it that way.
When the man she loves takes another woman for his mate, the darkness in her heart unravels and she'll do anything to get him back. She makes a dangerous deal with a fire elemental, Heyerdar, who has a vested interest in agreeing: together they'll use forbidden magic, harnessing their sexual energy to drive the couple apart.
But soon their pact pushes them both into a dark sexual obsession. One that Ava may not be able to control...
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Sunlight gilded his muscled body.
Ava let her head drop into her open palms and leaned heavily on the balustrade. Marble dug into her bony elbows but she ignored the pain for her illicit moment of man-watching. The teken on her right handthe symbol of her magicburned against her cheek. In the silence, the cool air carried the turn of his bare feet over the sand of the arena, the soft huffs of his breath as his supple body flowed through the series of twisting, intricate moves.
Captain Nahum Heyerdar put on his naked show every morning, just as the sun crept over the curtain wall. Welcoming the fire of the sun as she touched the earth.
He was the only elemental in the Institute. Had grown up there and been guided into the Guard by nervous mages. Old magic surged up through his flesh, and that intrigued and terrified them. Every other elemental had vanished, disappearing into the mountains, into distant lands, far from the reach of the mages and their high magic.
Except him. Why he stayed was a mystery. Even to her.
"Do you think he really needs to do this every day?" Reist leaned on the wide stone lintel and placed a steaming mug of tea before her. "Or does he simply crave the attention?" He pointed to the dark dots on balconies, in windows, shadows under archways. Her fellow watchers. Servants, apprentices, the odd mage. There with her every morning.
It was a familiar remark her mentor had made down the years. Though he never questioned her satisfaction in watching the captain or tried to pull her away. Odd, but true. She didn't know what Reist thought about her watching a naked man move with absolute ease and perfection. And she couldn't ask him. Her relationship with Davin Reist was...complicated.
Reist's arm brushed hers, and a quick shiver ran under her skin. For a moment, she let the sure rhythm of Heyerdar's movements, the flow, the precision, calm the uneven beat of her heart. The weight of her dark center cleared the remaining flickers.
"Only these this morning." Reist dropped a muslin bag beside the cup and Ava opened it to find five thick chunks of barely cooked mutton within a thin flour wrap. "You can find more. You must."
Ava twitched a smile. There was an order there. Reist had brought her breakfast for as long as she could remember, knowing how the darkness of the thief gnawed at her. And how almost-raw meat pushed back its hunger. But even this simple ritual was changing. Reist was changing. Pulling away from what they had. He had a different woman in his life.
Her stomach growled and she ate the small parcels of meat. She remembered to chew. No one ever needed to see how she should eat. The taste of sheep blood only seemed to whet her appetite. The ache to feed, to feel blood and bone in her mouth, was increasing every day. Sometimes even the air around her seemed alive with hunger, itching against her skin...
Crazy. She was going crazy.
Ava licked her fingers. "This is from one of the emperor's own ewes."
"The head cook was dressing a carcass. A hunting dog got loose in their enclosure." He lifted an eyebrow. "I thought of you."
"Was I the sheep or the hunting dog?"
Reist shrugged. "I leave the choice to you. As always." His gaze moved over her, and her body tensed, a quick and anxious pulling of muscle. "You'd look good fluffy."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.5 Stars Favorite Quote: He died in a way that befitted his audacity. I have to give author Kim Knox credit for how different this book is. I cannot recall a book that is quite like “Dark Dealings.” Not just in terms of the fantastic world building. Knox uses sex and approaches characterization in a very unique way. Ava is the main character, the heroine and for most of the book I could not tell if she was the good or bad guy. Sure, I understood that she wasn’t responsible for the crimes she investigated, but her actions and desires make it impossible to really call her “good.” I have to say that I loved that aspect of the story. I didn’t know how to feel about anyone and I didn’t really know whom to root for until the last third of the book. This world is filled with brash, vicious and magical creatures. Mages, Thieves and Elementals are all savage in their own way. These magical creatures feed and use magic in different variations. Ava and Heyerdar are different beings of dark, old and forbidden magic and they are both the only of their kind within the Institute walls. Ava is a thief, a creature who consumes the flesh and magic of her victims. She is an outcast. The pet of a higher powered mage. She is feared, hated and distrusted by the people around her. Heyerdar is an elemental with power over the earth and gains his strength from the pull of the sun. He is also the Emperor’s left hand and one of the most powerful men in the Institute. Together they use their forbidden magic, harnessing their sexual energy to drive a couple apart. Ava wants her master and friend, Reist, to herself and Heyerdar wants Fallon back in his bed. Ava and Heyerdar have to work together to investigate strange deaths within the Institute walls. This is obviously a ploy by the author to get them next to each other and talk about sex. While investigating the murders, obviously committed by Thieves, Ava must fight her baser instincts. Ava’s main interest in this book is not finding the murderers. The problem that consumes her is how to get Fallon away from her beloved Reist. The issue with this is that Ava secretly views moments between Fallon and Reist that makes it clear that they probably love each other. After reading a tender moment between the couple, I rolled my eyes every time Ava talked about how Resit should be hers. I really wanted to slap some sense into her and tell her to move on! Knox then complicates my feelings, again. While Ava is selfish and closed minded about her relationship with Reist, it seemed to me that Reist knew how Ava felt about him. Who do you root for in this situation? Do you hope that the girl that is willing to use undermined means gets her man? Or, do you hope that the guy who enjoys her attention without the commitment, get his cake and eats it too? Then there is the domineering alpha male Heyerdar. I was never sure if I wanted Ava to run to him or from him. By the end of the book you will pick a side and know which characters to love and which characters to ignore.Up until that point, it is a bumpy ride. This book is really entertaining. It has great dialogue, a unique world, strong sensuality and a love story that takes you by surprise. It is a very satisfying read. I recommend this book for Paranormal Romance lovers, readers of fantasy and anyone who likes a good sex scene or ten.
When I first discovered this book, there was very little description but I took the chance. I am glad I did Kim Knox keeps you guessing. When I started the book I had already determined who the good guys were and who the bad guys was. But by the end of the book that all changes. Knox surprised me. The main character Ava at the beginning of the book I had labeled her in the bad guy category that she was selfish, as she was in love with her protector who was much older than her and jealous that he had a relationship with another. Then there was Heyerdar he was an elemental who was upset over his woman who abandoned him and becoming lovers with Ava’s protector. The Atmosphere was political, surrounding all the main characters. Knox lured me in to this story so deep and then flipped it over on me. Excellent book, this is not your typical book that you can see the outcome on, usually with most you can see what the ending will be, this is not one of them. I wish to read another Ava book to hear more of her story..