Is He Her Mortal Enemy—
Lady Shay is the last of her kind. Half human, half Shalott, her blood is a precious aphrodisiac to vampires, who consider it more precious than gold. Though Shalotts are renowned assassins, a curse held over Shay lands her on the slave auction block, where her fate is uncertain. . .
Or The Man Who Will Risk All. . .
Viper, the beguiling chief of a deadly vampire clan, can't explain his longing to possess the beautiful Shalott who once saved his life, but now he is free to do anything he wants with her. Strangely, while he desires both Shay's blood and body, he wants her to surrender willingly.
To Save Her Life?
A hidden evil has been stalking Shay since she left the slave market with Viper. It is an evil that endangers the very existence of Viper's kind, and there's no reason he should court such danger just to protect a Shalott. But the love he feels for Shay is enough to make him willing to go to hell and back if it means spending an eternity with her in his arms.. . .
Praise for Alexandra Ivy and When Darkness Comes. . .
"Not to be missed. . .Ivy is definitely an author with huge potential in the paranormal genre."
—Romantic Times (Top Pick!)
"Alexandra Ivy is already in a league of her own."
—Lynn Viehl, author of Night Lost
About the Author
Alexandra Ivy is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance. She has also written Regency historicals under the name Deborah Raleigh. A five-time RT Book Award Finalist, Ivy has received much acclaim for her Guardians of Eternity, ARES Security, Immortal Rogues and Sentinels series. She lives with her family in Missouri and can be found online at www.AlexandraIvy.com.
Read an Excerpt
Embrace the Darkness
By Alexandra Ivy
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Debbie Raleigh
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe auction house on the outskirts of Chicago didn't look like a cesspit.
Behind the iron fences the elegant brick structure sprawled over the landscape with a visible arrogance. The rooms were large with vaulted ceilings that boasted beautiful murals and elegant chandeliers. And on the advice of a professional, they had been decorated with thick ivory carpets, glossy dark paneling, and hand-carved furniture.
The overall atmosphere was the sort of quiet hush that only money could buy. Lots and lots of money.
It was the sort of swanky place that should be peddling rare paintings, priceless jewels, and museum artifacts.
Instead it was no more than a flesh market. A sewer where demons were sold like so much meat.
There was nothing pleasant about the slave trade. Not even when the trade was demons rather than humans. It was a sordid business that attracted every decadent, demented slime ball in the country.
They came for all sorts of pathetic reasons.
Those who bought demons for mercenaries or body guards. Those who lusted after the more exotic sex slaves. Those who believed the blood of demons could bring them magic or eternal life. And those who purchased demons to be released into their private lands and hunted like wild animals.
The bidders were men and women without conscience or morals. Only enough money to sate their twisted pleasures.
And at the top of the dung heap was the owner of the auction house, Evor. He was one of the lesser trolls who made his living upon the misery of others with a smile on his face.
Someday Shay intended to kill Evor.
Unfortunately it would not be today.
Or rather tonight.
Attired in ridiculous harem pants and a tiny sequined top that revealed far more than it concealed, she paced the cramped cell behind the auction rooms. Her long raven black hair had been pulled to a braid that hung nearly to her waist. Better to reveal her slanted golden eyes, the delicate cast to her features, and the bronzed skin that marked her as something other than human.
Less than two months before she had been a slave to a coven of witches who intended to bring Armageddon to all demons. At the time she had thought anything was preferable to being their toady as she helplessly watched their evil plotting.
Hell, it's tough to top genocide.
It was only when she had been forced back to the power of Evor that she understood that death was not always the worst fate.
The grave was really nothing compared to what waited for her beyond the door.
Without thought Shay struck out with her foot, sending the lone table sailing through the air to crash against the iron bars with astonishing force.
From behind her came a heavy sigh that had her spinning to regard the small gargoyle hiding behind a chair in the far corner.
Levet wasn't much of a gargoyle.
Oh, he possessed the traditional grotesque features. Thick gray skin, reptilian eyes, horns, and cloven hoofs. He even possessed a long tail he polished and pampered with great pride. Unfortunately, despite his frightening appearance, he was barely three feet tall and worse, as far as he was concerned, he possessed a pair of delicate, gossamer wings that would have been more fitting on a sprite or a fairy than a lethal creature of the dark.
As if to add to his humiliation his powers were unpredictable under the best of circumstances, and his courage more often than not missing in action.
It was little wonder he had been voted out of the Gargoyle Guild and forced to fend for himself. They claimed he was an embarrassment to the entire community, and not one had stepped forward when he had been captured and made a slave by Evor.
Shay had taken the pathetic creature under her protection the moment she had been forced back to the auction house. Not only because she possessed a regrettable tendency to leap to the defense of anyone weaker than herself, but because she knew that it aggravated Evor to have his favorite whipping boy taken away.
The troll might hold the curse that bound her, but if he pressed her far enough she would be willing to kill him, even if it meant an end to her own life.
"Cherie, did the table do something I did not see or were you just attempting to teach it a lesson?" Levet demanded, his voice low and laced with a lilting French accent.
Not at all the sort of thing to improve his status among the gargoyles.
Shay smiled wryly. "I was imagining it was Evor."
"Strange, they do not greatly resemble one another."
"I have a good imagination."
"Ah." He gave a ridiculous wiggle of his thick brow. "In that case, I do not suppose you are imagining I'm Brad Pitt?"
Shay smiled wryly. "I'm good, but not that good, gargoyle."
Her brief amusement faded. "No, the pity is that it was a table and not Evor smashed to pieces."
"A delightful notion, but a mere dream." The gray eyes slowly narrowed. "Unless you intend to be stupid?"
Shay deliberately widened her eyes. "Who me?"
"Mon dieu," the demon growled. "You intend to fight him."
"I can't fight him. Not as long as I remain held by the curse."
"As if that has ever halted you." Levet tossed aside the pillow to reveal his tail furiously twitching about his hoofs. A sure sign of distress. "You can't kill him, but that never keeps you from trying to kick his fat troll ass."
"It passes the time."
"And leaves you screaming in agony for hours." He abruptly shuddered. "Cherie, I can't bear seeing you like that. Not again. It's insane to battle against fate."
Shay grimaced. As part of the curse, she was punished for any attempt to harm her master. The searing pain that gripped her body could leave her gasping on the ground or even passed out for hours. Lately, however, the punishment had become so brutal she feared that each time she pressed her luck it might be the last time.
She gave a tug on her braid. A gesture that revealed the frustration that smoldered just below the surface.
"You think I should just give in? Accept defeat?"
"What choice do you have? What choice do any of us have? Not all the fighting in the world can change the fact we belong-" Levet rubbed one of his stunted horns. "How do you say ... lock, stock, and jug ..."
"Ah, yes, barrel to Evor. And that he can do whatever he wants with us."
Shay gritted her teeth as she turned to glare at the iron bars that held her captive. "Shit. I hate this. I hate Evor. I hate this cell. I hate those pathetic demons up there waiting to bid on me. I almost wish I had let those witches bring an end to all of us."
"You will get no arguments from me, my sweet Shay," Levet agreed with a sigh.
Shay closed her eyes. Dammit. She hadn't meant the words. She was tired and frustrated, but she was no coward. Just the fact she had survived the past century proved that.
"No," she muttered. "No."
Levet gave a flap of his wings. "And why not? We are trapped here like rats in a maze until we can be sold to the highest bidder. What could be worse?"
Shay smiled without humor. "Allowing fate to win."
"So far fate or destiny or fortune or whatever the hell you want to call it has done nothing but crap on us," Shay growled. "I'm not going to just give in and allow it to thumb its nose at me as I slink into my grave. One of these days I'm going to have an opportunity to spit fate in its face. That's what keeps me fighting."
There was a long silence before the gargoyle moved to stand near enough so that he could rub his head on her leg. It was an unconscious gesture. A quest for reassurance that he would rather die than admit.
"I am uncertain I have ever heard such an inelegant speech, but I believe you. If anyone can get away from Evor, it's you."
Absently, Shay shifted the horn poking into her thigh. "I'll come back for you, Levet, that much I promise."
"Well, well, isn't this touching?" Abruptly appearing before the iron bars of the cell Evor smiled to reveal his pointed teeth. "Beauty and the Beast."
With a smooth motion, Shay had pressed Levet behind her and turned to regard her captor.
A sneer touched her face as the troll stepped into the cell and locked the door behind him. Evor easily passed for human. An incredibly ugly human.
He was a short, pudgy man with a round, squishy face and heavy jowls. His hair was little more than tufts of stray strands that he carefully combed over his head. And his small black eyes had a tendency to flash red when he was annoyed.
The eyes he hid behind black-framed glasses.
The thickly fleshed body he hid behind an obscenely expensive tailored suit.
Only the teeth marked him for the troll he was.
That and his utter lack of morals.
"Screw you, Evor," Shay muttered.
The nasty smile widened. "You wish."
Shay narrowed her gaze. The troll had been trying to get into her bed since gaining control of her curse. The only thing that had halted him from forcing her had been the knowledge she was quite willing to kill the both of them to prevent such a horror.
"I'll walk through the fires of hell before I let you touch me."
Fury rippled over the pudgy features before the oily smile returned. "Someday, my beauty, you'll be happy to be spread beneath me. We all have our breaking point. Eventually you'll reach yours."
"Not in this lifetime."
His tongue flicked out in an obscene motion. "So proud. So powerful. I shall enjoy pouring my seed into you. But not yet. There is still money to be made from you. And money always comes first." Lifting his hand he revealed the heavy iron shackles that he had hid behind his body. "Will you put these on or do I need to call for the boys?"
Shay crossed her arms over her chest. She might only be half Shalott, but she possessed all of the strength and agility of her ancestors. They were not the favorite assassins of the demon world without cause.
"After all these years you still think those goons can hurt me?"
"Oh, I have no intention of having them hurt you. I should hate to have you damaged before the bidding." Very deliberately his gaze shifted to where Levet was cowering behind her legs. "I merely wish them to encourage your good behavior."
The gargoyle gave a low moan. "Shay?"
She battled back the instinctive urge to punch the pointed teeth down Evor's throat. It would only put her on the ground in agony. Worse, it would leave Levet at the mercy of the hulking mountain trolls Evor used as protection.
They would take great delight in torturing the poor gargoyle.
As far as she knew their only pleasure was giving pain to others.
"Fine." She held out her arms with a furious scowl.
"A wise choice." Keeping a wary eye on her, Evor pressed the shackles over her wrists and locked them shut. "I knew you would understand the situation once it was properly explained."
Shay hissed as the iron bit into her skin. She could feel her power draining and her flesh chaffing beneath the iron. It was her one certain Achilles' heel.
"All I understand is that someday I'm going to kill you."
He gave a jerk on the chain that draped between the shackles. "Behave yourself, bitch, or your little friend pays the consequences. Got it?"
Shay battled back the sickness that clutched at her stomach.
Once again she was going to be placed on the stage and sold to the highest bidder. She would be utterly at the mercy of some stranger who could do whatever he pleased with her.
And there wasn't a damn thing she could do to stop it.
"Yeah, I got it. Let's just get this over with."
Evor opened his mouth as if to make a smart-ass comment only to snap the fish lips shut when he caught sight of her expression. Obviously he could sense she was close to the edge.
Which only proved that he wasn't quite as stupid as he looked.
In silence they left the cell and climbed the narrow stairs to the back of the stage. Evor paused only long enough to lock her shackles to a pole anchored in the floor before moving toward the closed curtains and slipping through them to face the crowd.
Alone in the darkness Shay sucked in a deep breath and tried to ignore the rumblings of the crowd just beyond the curtain.
Even without being able to see the potential bidders she could feel the presence of the gathering demons and humans. She could smell the stench of their sweat. Feel the smoldering impatience. Taste the depraved lust in the air.
She abruptly frowned. There was something else. Something that was subtly laced through it all.
A sense of decaying evil that sent a chill of horror over her skin.
It was vague. As if the being was not truly in the room in full form. More like a looming, intangible presence. An echo of foulness that made her stomach clench in fear.
Swallowing back her instinctive scream she closed her eyes and forced herself to take a deep, steadying breath. In the distance she heard Evor loudly clear his throat to command attention.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, demons and fairies, dead and undead ... it is time for our main attraction. Our pièce de résistance. An item so rare, so extraordinary that only those who possess a golden token may remain," he dramatically announced. "The rest may retire to our reception rooms where you will be offered your choice of refreshment."
Despite the lingering certainty she had just been brushed by some malignant gaze Shay managed a disgusted grimace. Evor was always a pompous blowhard. Tonight, however, he put even the cheesiest ringmaster to shame.
"Gather close, my friends," Evor commanded as the dregs of bidders were forced to leave the room. To be granted a golden ticket a person or demon had to carry at least $50,000 in cash on them. The slave trade rarely accepted checks or credit cards. Go figure. "You will not wish to miss your first glimpse of my precious treasure. Do not fear, I have ensured that she is properly chained. She will offer no danger. No danger beyond her perilous charm. She will not rip your heart from your chest, but I do not promise she will not steal it with her beauty."
"Shut your mouth and open the curtain," a voice growled.
"You are impatient?" Evor demanded, his tone edged with anger. He didn't like his well-practiced act interrupted.
"I don't have all night. Get on with it."
"Ah, a premature ... bidder, a pity. Let us hope for your sake that it is not an affliction that taints your performance in other areas," Evor sneered, pausing to allow the roar of coarse laughter to fade. "Now where was I? Oh, yes. My prize. My most beloved slave. Demons and ghouls, allow me to introduce you to Lady Shay ... the last Shalott to walk our world."
With a dramatic motion the curtain disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving Shay exposed to the near two dozen men and demons.
Deliberately she lowered her gaze as she heard the gasps echo through the room. It was humiliating enough to smell their rabid hunger. She didn't need to see it written on their faces.
"Is this a trick?" a dark voice demanded in disbelief. Hardly surprising. As far as Shay knew she truly was the last Shalott remaining in the world.
"No trick, no illusion."
"As if I'd take your word for it, troll. I want proof."
"Proof? Very well." There was a moment's pause as Evor searched the crowd. "You there, come forward," he commanded.
Shay tensed as she felt the cold chill that warned her it was a vampire approaching. Her blood was more precious than gold to the undead. An aphrodisiac that they would kill to procure.
With her attention focused on the tall, gaunt vampire, Shay barely noticed when Evor grabbed her arm and used a knife to slice through the skin of her forearm. Hissing softly the vamp leaned downward to lick the welling blood. His entire body shivered as he lifted his head to regard her with stark hunger.
"There is human blood, but she is genuine Shalott," he rasped.
With a smooth motion Evor had placed his pudgy form between the vamp and Shay, shooing the predator away with a wave of his hand. Reluctantly the undead creature left the stage, no doubt sensing the impending riot if he gave in to his impulse to sink his teeth into her and drain her dry.
Evor waited until the stage was cleared before moving to stand behind his podium. He grasped his gavel and lifted it over his head. Ridiculous twit.
"Satisfied? Good." Evor smacked the gavel onto the podium. "The bidding starts at fifty thousand dollars. Remember, gentlemen, cash only."
Shay's gaze once again dropped to her feet as the voices called out their bids. Soon enough she would be forced to confront her new master. She didn't want as they wrangled over her like a pack of dogs slavering over a juicy bone.
Excerpted from Embrace the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy Copyright © 2007 by Debbie Raleigh. Excerpted by permission.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This story is truely captivating! What more could you hope for: A gorgeous hunk of a Vampire who falls in love with a half Shallott-half human lady, and the adventure of a life time. Viper (Vampire) goes to an auction house to bid on the most enticing item (a half shallott-half human woman- Shay). What is unique is that fact that Shay's blood is an aphrodisiac to vampires and it is considered priceless. Unbenounced to Viper, someone deadly is after Shay and is bound and determined to have her. Viper must keep Shay close at all times, but finds it difficult because Shay does not trust anyone especially since she is considered a slave. The characters are so well written. I definately would recommend this series to anyone who loves a good vampire romance! Alexandra is truely a gifted writer. You have to read this series!!! I am on to the next book as we speak.
A while back I picked up When Darkness Comes The first in the series of The Guardians of Eternity. I didn't take a liking to the book. I said there was a character in the book that grabbed my attention even though he wasn't a big part in it. Viper. What a name, almost cliche. I later found out he was the protagonist in the second in the series. Every time I wanted to pick up a romance book I thought about his character, which is so not like me. After all it's a character in a book. Viper. Which was in a book I didn't even care for. His name called to me. Viper. I did say in that review I would try the series another time. I gave in...Viper ....I picked it up ....Viper..... and decided since his character wouldn't let me go, I might as well give in and satiate my need for this character. VIPER! Embrace the Darkness was a dash of smooth and a pinch of sexy. Viper seemed unsure how to get Shay to step out of her shell and drop the shields. Shay had to battle her entire life just to survive. Embrace the Darkness was quick and never slowed pace. Some of the time I couldn't help but compare this to Twilight. ERRR a More ADULT version of it. Shay however was not as wimpy as Bella. The story bases are different but one that can be appreciated. I did enjoy the jazzing between all that characters. I even felt as if I knew the secondary characters. There were a few points I didn't care for again with the catch phrases. Instead of "Bloody Hell" it was "Devil's Balls". Though I believe there was a bloody hell in there some where. I am learning to look past that. The book was only slightly predictable. Also the names were very 80's. Not much to gripe about with this one. Over all a great read. I have already picked up the next in the series..Dark Everlasting! Viper may have pulled me into this series I am hoping Styx can keep me holding on.
Why is it not on the nook
Embrace The Darkness is the second novel in Alexandra Ivy's Guardians of Eternity paranormal romance series. This novel focuses on Shay's and Viper's relationship, whom were both introduced in the first book of the series, When Darkness Comes. Viper, is the vampire clan chief who is extremely sexy, in love of luxury, and used to getting his own way. He is not prepared for it when he gets more than he bargained for when he purchases Shay from a slave auction. Shay and Viper spend most of the story either running from, or fighting with, the various demons, hellhounds and vampires that have been sent to capture Shay. Reason for the threat? Well apparently Shay has this special blood that not only heals immortals when they are hurt but also is an aphrodisiac to vampires. Go figure. Viper is a vampire, Shay's father was hunted and killed by vampires and Shay herself has spent her life hiding from vampires, this is an obstacle that might stand in the way of their relationship. Viper purchased Shay at a slave auction and no matter how nice he is to her - he still owns her and she is still a slave - but this is no barrier to Shay and Viper instantly falling into lust for each other. My problem with the development of the relationship was that it seemed more on the basis of lust and physical matters rather than including the emotional attachment. When the I Love You bomb was dropped I was actually surprised and wondered where it came from. Embrace The Darkness is an enjoyable read, even if the relationship aspect seemed a little rushed. The action and adventure, not to mention my favorite little gargoyle will grab any reader by the "horns" and not let go. I was looking forward to the next book, Darkness Everlasting, however it is not yet out on the nook yet and so unfortunately until I can get to the store, I will be skipping over that one.
This is book two of the Guardian of Eternity series. First off - I loved Viper! What a vampire! Shay is a mixture of intelligence and stubborness. She doesn't blindly follow whatever Viper asks. I liked that. The story is a good one - good plot and the characters were interesting. I enjoyed this paranormal read very much.
a great read..very strong storyline; heroine was incredibly strong and hero was protective...great and entertaining monor characters
I ended picking this up and reading it simply because I didn't have much to choose from. I had read the first book, and honestly it was terrible. This book although very, very predictible is an improvment. More action and some interesting characters. Less sex/necking scenes, but still the writter tends to put some of them in the worest places. If you are being chased by an evil that want's to kill you, stopping in the bad guys lair to caress and makeout is never a good idea. Escape, run far away and once you are safely away from the bad guys..then you can make out. Not in the middle of a fight.
Another really great read in this series. I loved Viper and Shay and the way the story came together.
Plot and Story Line Embrace The Darkness is the second installment in the series, and it continues off from where the last one ended. This is Vipers story, and what a character he was. What was most fascinating about this story, was seeing Shay and Viper come together. It wasn’t how I expected it to be, so I loved not being able to predict what will happen next (tends to happen in a few paranormals), but what was most fun was the fun and silly bantering between these two. It was quite engaging and will give you giggle and laughs, because these two are a great pair…whether they are fighting enemies or making love…they have a certain connection that is almost harmonious. They equal each other out, and it was very satisfying seeing the balance of their relationship form and become cemented. The supporting cast was quite fun, we get the mini gargoyle, who is three feet tall and loves goading Viper. Then of course we get Dante and Abby and see a bit more of them, which was fun seeing them together after the previous book. The villain of the story isn’t what he appears to be, and I really liked the twist at the end, and seeing a character that appears to be bad who is really more misguided through loyalty….love the way the story climaxes and ends because it leaves you wanting to read the next book right away. The Cover Even though this isn’t my favorite cover of the series…I do love the red tints in the cover, and those eyes!! Love em’ Overall View Embrace The Darkness is a stunning installment from this author…a story to entice, an edgy vampire romance to give you thrills and chills…a story that gives you a perfect blend of spicy romance, engaging characters, and dangerous villains right around the corner!! MAGNIFICENT
Viper is a vampire who has thought of nothing but Shay since he met her. Shay is half human and half Shalott. Her blood can cure any vampire. But she has had a curse on her for many years. Whoever holds the curse, holds her life in their hands. Viper purchases her from a troll but he wants more than her blood, he wants her love too. A very strong vampire wants her and Viper will do anything to keep her safe. Vampires, trolls, gargoyles, and demons.
I love reading books by Ivy--keeps my toes curled in suspense and my body at the end of my seat. Truly a well written book. I can not wait to see what else comes out in the Guardian Series.
She walks in.
I've read romance and I've read vampire; never read the two combined. The first of the series got me hooked, this one kept me wanting more, I'm currently starting the 9th installment. I like this series.
This is really turning into a great series. If you do not fall in love with Levet, then I fear you have no sense of humor. The only concern I have is she uses the same sayings too often.
Any fan of the paranormal will love this series!! Vampires, werewolves, imps, fairies, Sylvermists, other assorted demons.they're all there! The plots are believable. A lot of sex..maybe a little too much for some people, but excellent other than that. I'm on the last book and hate to see it end!!