Twenty-three-year-old Emma Jane Hellsbane just found out she's not human—or, at least, not only human. She's half angel, too, and now Heaven's got a job for her: round up all the Fallen angels and their red-skinned, horned devil-demon minions and boot their butts back into the abyss. Only problem? The demons and their Fallen masters fight back…and they don't fight fair.
Luckily for Emma, she can put a stop to the constant threat of having her head hacked off if she figures out which Fallen angel is her father—and then kill him before he kills her. Of course, in the meantime, she'll have to avoid accidentally seducing her angelic mentor, help an old friend conquer his own Fallen sperm donor, and basically save the world from a cataclysmic divine smack down.
No one said being Heaven's bounty hunter would be easy. But with a name like Hellsbane, Emma Jane was born for the job.
About the Author
Paige Cuccaro is a multi-published author and lives in Ohio, with her husband, three daughters, three dogs, and three cats in an ever shrinking house. Writing was never a foregone conclusion for her. She once had dreams of being a psychologist, a pediatrician, a school teacher, a photojournalist, a bartender, and/or an EMT. And then she met her husband and her world came into focus. Being wife and mother are her highest priorities and greatest joy.
But escaping to the fanciful worlds twirling through her mind is an absolute necessity. Putting those worlds and the cornucopia of characters that people them, on paper is just plain fun.
When she's not writing she can be found doing the mom thing with a book in one hand and a notepad and pen in the other. Witches, demons, vampires, werewolves and angels, if they can fall in love, Paige will tell you their story. You can find racier adult titles written by Paige under her pen name, Alison Paige.
Read an Excerpt
By Paige Cuccaro, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2011 Paige Cuccaro
All rights reserved.
I couldn't breathe. My heart slammed in my chest like a caged animal and sweat chilled down my back. Muscles all over my body tensed, and instinct screamed through my mind, telling me to run. Run. RUN!
I shook my head, unclenched my fists, and forced a slow, steadying breath. The instinct wasn't mine. It's not mine. I had to focus. I blinked at the older woman's smiling, pudgy face across the table from me and centered myself in reality again.
"Yes. Of course, Mrs. Bellmen. I'm ... I'm sorry. I'm just getting some ... outside psychic interference and it's, um, clouding my concentration."
Either that or my gift was finally giving me that aneurysm I always figured it would. Some gift.
God, I hated when other people's emotions swamped over me like that. It was like drowning on dry land — drowning in someone else's emotions with no life raft in sight. After twenty-three years of living with my gift, at least I'd gotten a handle on it. Gained control.
Feeling other people's emotions — happy, sad, angry, horny ... whatever — as though they were my own could seriously suck. If someone was close enough when the mood struck them, their emotions kind of splashed onto me, overwhelmed me until I couldn't tell which were mine and which weren't. My high school years, surrounded by raging hormones — mine and everyone else's — were all kinds of torture. Thanks to the control I'd worked hard to establish, it hardly ever happened anymore. And luckily, when it did, I'd learned how to push away the false emotions and keep my head above the surface.
I'd also figured out a way to parlay my annoying talent into a marketable skill. A girl's gotta eat.
I straightened, pushing the confusing clamor of angry, panicked emotions from my brain. I'd worry about where, and who, the emotions came from later.
"That's all right, sweetheart," Mrs. Bellmen said, nervously smoothing the giant gypsy-style scarf that doubled as my tablecloth. "You were saying something about my Dicky. That he wasn't ..."
Hope raised her brows, tugged at the corners of her age-thinned lips. I didn't need my gift to know the answer she wanted from her psychic.
I smiled. "He wasn't cheating before he died. Mr. Bellmen loved you very much. That's not to say he didn't notice his secretary, mind you, but you're the one he loved."
I was making it all up, of course. But I could feel by the rush of relief flooding through me — hers, not mine — that it's what she wanted to hear.
Mrs. Bellmen sighed, her smile going full wattage. She snagged her enormous purse from the floor and stood. "Forty-three years. They weren't all a walk in the park, but he was a good man. You're a wonder, Madame Hellsbane."
"Thank you, Mrs. Bellmen." I waited while she slung her purse over her shoulder, and then followed her through the pocket doors to the entry.
"You take cash, don't you, dear?" She crossed the hall into my dining room, which I'd converted into a waiting-room-slash-mystic-boutique.
"I love cash."
After picking up a smudge-stick bundle and some cleansing candles, Mrs. Bellmen settled her bill. With a happy wave, she left, and I closed the door behind her, my mood light and happy ... or maybe it was her mood. Either way ...
I liked using my oddity to help people. Made me feel like there was a reason I was the way I was, rather than just random bad luck.
"God, I'm hungry." I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast, and it was coming around dinnertime already. Business was good, which meant I found little time for pesky things like eating. A nice problem to have.
With a smile stretching my cheeks, I pattered down the hall, the flat leather soles of my sandals slapping against the hardwood floor. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had pictured in my head beckoned me toward the kitchen.
I hooked my thumbs on the elastic waistband of my peasant skirt and shimmied it down over my hips as I walked. Couldn't wait to get out of the thing. I absolutely hate skirts, or dresses of any kind, but the look played great for customers. I had shorts on underneath, so it felt a little less commando. The maroon, bell-sleeved top was actually kind of comfy.
I made it as far as the half-bath under the steps before someone started pounding on my front door. After a second or two debate as to whether I should pretend I wasn't home or hike the skirt back on and answer the door, I tugged my skirt up, turned, and headed for the front entry.
It might be a client. I don't take walk-ins, but some of my regulars drop by when they've got something big brewing. They pay extra for the convenience so ... that helps.
The knocks came again — harder — rattling the inlaid fan window in the top half of the door. I could see the crown of someone's head through the glass as I neared. I was still four steps away when the person pounded the door again. The sound was urgent. I hesitated.
"Hello?" I pushed up to my tiptoes, but at five feet, I'm just too short to see through the window. The instant I leaned my body against the door though, my gut sank.
It was like the sensation you get on a rollercoaster or when your car goes over a hill at just the right speed. I dropped flat on my feet again, head down, my hand on the knob for stability.
"Yeah. Hi. Uh, Emma Jane?" The voice was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place it. And no one called me Emma Jane anymore. I licked my lips, concentrating on slow even breaths, letting the sensation in my stomach pass.
"Can I help you?" I asked.
"It's me, Tommy. Tommy Saint James. From high school."
The sound of his voice above made me look up. He must've pushed onto his toes. Now, I could see the top of his face to his nose. He was trying his hardest to peer down at me with the same pretty blue eyes I remembered.
No way. Of all the people I knew in high school, Tommy Saint James was the last person I'd expect to show up on my doorstep. I hadn't seen him since he'd blown off the last half of our senior year. I unlocked the door and opened it. "Tommy? Hi. What are you doing here?"
"Hey, Emma Jane." He glanced over his shoulder, then back to me. "Long time no see. I was ... I was in the neighborhood. Thought I'd stop by, say hi."
He glanced over his shoulder again, fidgeting on his feet. He hadn't changed much in the eight years since I'd seen him. I took a second to do the mental math — I was twenty-three and, even though we'd been in the same grade, he was two years older than me in high school. How could he be twenty-five and look exactly the same? He still had curly light hair, the kind that goes sun-bleached blond in the summer and creamy butterscotch in the winter. It was early summer, so his hair was nearly the color of corn silk ... and it looked damn good.
He kept it short. The curls used to relax a little when he let it grow, but not much. He was tall, six foot three or four with a sinewy, athletic build. Tommy had the kind of body that at a glance might be considered thin, but he was all muscle.
He'd been our star pitcher in high school, the typical jock who'd made all the girls melt with his perfect smile, smoky DJ voice, and pretty pale blue eyes — a blue made more intense by a dark circle around the irises. Everyone had loved him or wanted to be loved by him, which had made his sudden withdrawal during senior year all the more strange.
"I can't believe it's you. How'd you know I was living here?" I was pretty sure he hadn't even known my name in high school — I wasn't exactly Miss Popularity. I was a couple of years younger than the other kids in my grade because I tested well, and Mom agreed with the school to let me skip ahead. No one had asked me. I know she'd only wanted what was best for me. But she just hadn't understood the social ramifications I'd had to deal with because of it. A mom who didn't understand teenage angst? Go figure.
Tommy shifted his weight, and suddenly, he was the suave jock-star all over again. One hand against the doorjamb, the other curiously hidden behind his back, he smiled. My awkward high school years swamped over me — Tommy had always had a sort of embarrassing effect on me. I'd lost IQ points when he was near and my stomach had rolled and flopped like I'd hatched a flock of butterflies in my belly. Not that he'd ever noticed.
He raised a brow. "I remembered your gram lived here. Can I, uh, come in?"
The house was my gram's. She'd left it all to me two years ago when she died. Still didn't feel like any of it was mine. But it was free and fully furnished, so I called it home.
He'd used the hey-there-sexy voice I'd heard him employ a hundred times in high school. Not with me, of course, but the effect was just as potent, eight years later.
"Sure, come in." I stepped back, opening the door wider, and he slipped through. His hand dropped to his left ribs, clutching himself over a tear in his T-shirt. I hadn't even noticed his shirt was ripped until then.
I glanced behind him as I went to close the door, my thoughts ping-ponging with questions when something caught my eye. I stopped the door. It looked like a bag of garbage was smoldering in the street. Smoke twined up from the melted black plastic, but there was no flame, just bubbling black goo.
"What is that?" Before I could open the door wider, Tommy reached over my head and shoved it closed.
"Lock it," he said, then reached past me to throw the lock himself.
"Hey! Rude much?"
Something changed behind his pretty blue eyes. He switched back to charming Tommy, flashed his smile. "Sorry. I just ... didn't want to let out the air-conditioning."
"Right. I always lock the door to help seal in the cool air." Sure, he was cute, and he still made my body feel like a bowl of Jell-O in an earthquake, but I wasn't sixteen anymore. I'd learned a long time ago how to keep my head around cute guys. "What's going on, Tommy?"
He shrugged and took a few steps down the hall. "Nothing. Just stopped by to see what my old friend Emma Jane was up to."
He couldn't hide his other hand anymore, or he didn't bother to — he must've figured the sword he held was too big to go unnoticed. He held it at his side, hand fisted around the hilt, the point of the blade almost nicking my hardwood floor.
"It's just Emma now, and we were never really friends. What's with the sword?" Years of dirty limericks incorporating Emma Jane Hellsbane had long ago made me drop the middle name.
He glanced at me as he walked into the waiting room. "Sorry. I had a lot of issues in high school."
He smiled, but it was just a smile, not the heart-melting one he'd always used. This was his natural smile, warm and easy. It lit his eyes and just barely dimpled his cheeks. He was all the more attractive for it.
"Forget it," I said. It was ancient history. "What about the sword?"
His free hand holding his side, Tommy grimaced as he eased himself onto one of my gram's old Victorian sofas, using his sword — hand on the hilt, point stabbing my floor — to steady himself. He settled back, sighing, and propped the long weapon against the front of the couch. Something thick and black edged the blade and covered the lower half to the tip. When he finally pulled his hand from his side, it was covered in blood and more of the black goo.
"Ohmygod, what happened?" I rushed over to him. I couldn't believe I'd been so caught up in the surprise of seeing him, in my own girly brain-freeze, that I hadn't even noticed the blood on his T-shirt and jeans.
"I, uh, had an accident." He laughed, clearly weak. "Mom always told me not to play with knives."
But when I knelt beside him and lifted his torn shirt, I doubted any sort of knife would do that kind of damage. "You look like you've been clawed."
"Yeah?" he said, tipping his head, trying to see the wound better. "Weird. Hey, you wouldn't happen to have any holy water lying around, would you?"
"Right. Dumb question. Peroxide, then?"
I looked closer. Three long, jagged wounds tore through skin and muscle and wrapped from his belly to his back. Like something big had tried to grab him and he'd slipped away. There wasn't as much blood as I would have expected. It'd already begun to clot, but the black goo was bubbling along the edges and there were meaty parts bulging out.
"God, Tommy, these are deep. You need stitches. We have to get you to a hospital." I pushed to my feet — I had some peroxide in the kitchen. I'm not real graceful with knives myself, so I'd learned it was best to keep the stuff handy.
He let his shirt fall back over the wounds, hissing when the cloth brushed his body. "No hospital. It's not that bad. Trust me, I heal fast."
"Whatever. Just sit still." I ran to the kitchen, grabbed the brand new bottle of peroxide, a bowl, and some gauze, and came back as fast as I could.
"Those aren't cat scratches, Tommy," I said, snagging a pair of scissors from Gram's china cabinet. "You might need surgery. At the very least, you should be worried about infection. What's that black stuff?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"It's ... it's brimstone."
"Brimstone? Brimstone's black and gooey?" I dumped the medical supplies on the coffee table and sat beside him on the couch, reaching for the sword to move it out of the way.
Tommy lunged, moving so fast he'd grabbed it before I could blink. "Don't touch that."
He laid the sword, still dripping goo, across the coffee table I'd personally refinished. But I gritted my teeth and kept my mouth shut. He was a guest and he was oozing guts, or something, so I could let it slide.
"It's not just brimstone," he said. "But that's what's making it bubble and burn."
"Lean over." I pushed up his shirt. "Lift your arm."
He did, and for a guilty half-second I let my gaze drift to the hard ridges of his abs. The man was still solid muscle. I shifted my attention to his wounds. "Whoa. You're healing."
"No, seriously. The skin is closing up." It still had a way to go, but whatever had been bulging out was back beneath the surface, and the edges of the wound were already shrinking closed, the very corners turning the wrinkled pink of new scars.
I wet the pad of gauze over the bowl with the peroxide then dabbed the wound. Blood turned the gauze pale red, but the black ooze wasn't affected. I could see the raw muscle and meat was still coated as the skin healed over it.
"How are you healing so fast?"
Tommy flicked his gaze to me. "It's a long story. But I didn't have anywhere else to go and I knew you were ... Shit, I shouldn't have come."
Instinct chased a chill down my spine. "You knew I was what? What did this to you, Tommy?"
He shook his head and took the wet gauze from my hand, dabbing his wounds. "Nothing. Don't worry about it. I'll get out of here as soon as I can stand without feeling lightheaded."
He hissed again, gingerly touching the ends that were already healed. "Dammit. I have to get this crap out of me." He looked up. "You have a cross, a Bible ... anything like that?"
"Are you kidding? You've obviously never met my family." Religion to my family was like medals to a soldier. It was something you worked at, suffered for, and used as an all-purpose excuse, reward, or threat, depending on the situation. Religion was like this great club they'd joined, and no one else would ever be as worthy as they were.
I left Tommy where he was and headed for the stairs. I'd kept Gram's bedroom suite. It was way better than anything I could afford. She'd always had a Bible in the bedside table, and since I don't clean where people can't see ...
I would've gotten my own Bible for him if I had one. I don't. I'm waiting for the sequel to come out.
I'm not an atheist. Actually, I'm not sure what I believe. I just need more to base an opinion on than a bunch of old stories.
I was halfway up the stairs when my doorbell rang. I crouched to see through the window on the door. It was the mailman. If he had something for me to sign and I didn't answer, it could be days before he tried again. I turned and jogged back downstairs, glancing in at Tommy as I passed. He was struggling to stand.
Excerpted from Hellsbane by Paige Cuccaro, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2011 Paige Cuccaro. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
From the very first page Hellsbane had my attention! With an amazing plot that keeps you turning the pages and non-stop action; this is a book that I could see as a movie. If you're looking for a book that you won't be able to put down, Hellsbane is the book to read!
4.5 Off to a great start *Book source ~ Many thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Emma Jane Hellsbane has always known she was different from other people. She can sense and experience their emotions as if they were her own and it took some serious practice to block them out. Though there are times she doesn’t always succeed. When former schoolmate, Tommy Saint James, shows up unexpectedly on her doorstep and he’s wielding a sword, wounded and jumpy she wonders what the heck is going on. Tommy had disappeared his Senior year, eight years ago and yet here he is not looking a day over 18. With a big ass sword. I mentioned that, right? And when Emma lets in the mailman who’s not a mailman, but a demon Tommy uses the sword to defend himself, but when he’s disarmed by the demon, Emma picks up the sword to protect him and in that very moment her life is changed. Emma thought her life was weird before. She ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Emma is a nephilim, part human, part angel and when she picks up Tommy’s sword against a demon she becomes an illorum, or warrior for God. Her mission now is to kill demons and the Fallen, but if she can kill her own Fallen father then her life can go back to normal. Easy, right? Um, not so much. In addition to Tommy we’re introduced to Tommy’s and now Emma’s magister, Elizal (or Eli), another illorum named Liam and Officer Dan. Mihir, Emma’s friend from Commencement is not in this book and I was disappointed by that fact. For a first full book in the series it does a good job of bringing everyone up to speed about Seraphim, Fallen, angels and other things that Emma needs to know in order to survive her new life. All-in-all a great book with lots of action involving swords. I love swords.
I got this book to review from NetGalley- YAY FOR NETGALLEY!!! :) ok let me say I am NOT really an angel fan. I dunno why, but I rarely like that part, I like the demons lol BUT I WILL make an exception! This book had me wanting to learn how to fight and get a sword and hack things and totally made me wanna be a half angel! Fantastic! I prefer fantasy over romance anyway, and boy oh boy, the action in the book made me wanna blow something up LOL ok enough crazy talk :) and there is a little romantic side and it's a fun little twist :) This book was so well written that I didn't care if it was an angel, demon, cat, dog or tree :) I loved it!! It's got so much action and intrigue that you can't help but become involved! Emma takes character self-talk to a whole new level, and by this I mean she has the best inner monologue of thought!! I love her! I also will say that by the end I was very sad for her- no I won't tell you, go read it :) At first, I felt bad for her and wanted things to be normal for her, just like she wished. & even before she finds out about crazy beings, she has a power that she has accepted, but boy, she has no idea how much that could mean for the future! I cannot wait to get my hands on book 2! Heaven and Hellsbane will release in August of 2012... Well done!! 4.5 big paws from me!
In the process of helping an old friend fight off a demon, Emma Jane becomes marked as a soldier in the fight against the Fallen, Angels who’ve been cast out of heaven for sinning (seducing/raping women, who then bear their children, but don’t remember it at all). The only way she can get out of it is to kill her Fallen father, but she has no idea who he is. So, Emma comes out swinging. She has these new superpowers that help her heal quickly, move faster, and generally kick butt. Emma’s friend and fellow nepilim, Tommy, is working right along side of her and he helps her to assimilate into the lifestyle. Their mentor, Eli, is an angel on Earth, meant to be a guide, but he cannot interfere. As an angel, he is unbelievably hot and there’s a simmering chemistry between them, but he cannot act on that attraction or he will become fallen himself. But, Emma has chemistry with almost all the men in the book, I think she just needs a little loving and then maybe she won’t be trying to jump every nearby man. Angel stories have been told before. Like vampire stories, each one is tweaked slightly to fit the author’s world. In fact, I’m in the middle of rereading the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, which also centers around Nephilim warriors, and it could not be more different than this story. This book is far more lighthearted and, though I love the MI books, doesn’t take itself quite as seriously. There are a lot of fights between Emma and the demons and peeks into possible romances, plus all the supernaturl elements, which combine to make a very entertaining book. It’s the first in a series and I will be reading the next one. 3.5/5
Emma Jane has always had the ability to know what a person feels or thinks, an ability that has allowed her to make use of it as source of income. While maintaining the facade is sometimes grueling, Emma is content with the way her life is going. Granted, her family and some of her friends don't quite understand why she insists on 'pretending' to be a psychic, but she's content on letting them believe whatever they like of her as long as they let her do what she wants to do. Her entire world is thrown into limbo when an old high school friend suddenly shows up on her very doorstep. Suspicion sets in as he tumbles inside, never once letting on as to what his true purpose for being there is. A lurking troublesome situation looms on the horizon, acting as a catalyst against the pair in hopes of doing away with them. When Tommy becomes injured, Emma's only thought is to come to his aid, never once imagining what happens next. Becoming an Illorum is not what she had in mind when she accidentally picked up his sword. New powers and a new understanding are awakened within her, something she tries hard to deny. It doesn't help that she also finds herself drawn to Tommy's protector who further enlightens her to the task at hand. In order to be absolved of the sins their fathers, the Fallen angels, have commited, they must do all they can to bring them, and their own malignant spirits, down. Emma soon learns that the task at hand isn't as easy as it sounds. Anything, and everything, is intent on taking her very life, yet she refuses to give them what they want. She loves the fact that she's still alive. Even better is the fact that Tommy is by her side. As time continues to dwindle, she knows they must do everything in their power to cull the opposing forces and restore the balance between good and evil while trying to stay alive long enough to do it. A truly unique and quite intriguing story. I enjoyed it immensely. Set on such a historical theme, the idea of an Illorum, or the offspring of a Nephilim and a human, trying to take down the Fallen angels was quite thought-provoking. Ironically, if you try to do a little research on what they are, you'll never find anything on them. But there's plenty on the Nephilim and all angels in general. All in all, this was quite an awesome read. The pace throughout the book was fast and consistent. The theme of the story certainly keeps the reader glued to every page. Looking forward to more of this series soon.
Emma Jane has always had the ability to know what a person feels or thinks, an ability that has allowed her to make use of it as source of income. While maintaining the facade is sometimes grueling, Emma is content with the way her life is going. Granted, her family and some of her friends don't quite understand why she insists on 'pretending' to be a psychic, but she's content on letting them believe whatever they like of her as long as they let her do what she wants to do.Her entire world is thrown into limbo when an old high school friend suddenly shows up on her very doorstep. Suspicion sets in as he tumbles inside, never once letting on as to what his true purpose for being there is. A lurking danger soon rears its ugly head, goading the pair in hopes of making a meal of them. When Tommy becomes injured, Emma's only thought is to come to his aid, never once imagining what happens next. Becoming an Illorum is not what she had in mind when she accidentally picked up his sword.New powers and a new understanding are awakened within her, something she tries hard to deny. It doesn't help that she also finds herself attracted to Tommy's protector who further enlightens her to the task at hand. In order to be absolved of the sins their fathers, the Fallen angels, have commited, they must do all they can to bring them, and their own demons, down.Emma soon learns that the task at hand isn't as easy as it sounds. Anything, and everything, is intent on killing her, yet she refuses to give them what they want. She loves the fact that she's still alive. Even better is the fact that Tommy is by her side. As time continues to dwindle, she knows they must do everything in their power to cull the opposing forces and restore the balance between good and evil while trying to stay alive long enough to do it.A truly unique and quite intriguing story. I enjoyed it immensely. Set on such a historical theme, the idea of an Illorum, or the offspring of a Nephilim and a human, trying to take down the Fallen angels was quite thought-provoking.Ironically, if you try to do a little research on what they are, you'll never find anything on them. But there's plenty on the Nephilim and all angels in general. All in all, this was quite an awesome read. The pace throughout the book was fast and consistent. The theme of the story certainly keeps the reader glued to every page. Looking forward to more of this series soon.
Fast paced, will definitely read next book.
Charming bad witty
This book caught me right away. I could hardly put it down. Adult, paranormal fiction, without getting too risque. A great read.
What a novel idea!! Lol. Great plot. A bit dragged out at times. Bingaux
You people should just read this novel yourselves and write your own review on this novel. I really enjoyed reading this novel very much. ShelleyMA
So this is the story of Emma Jane and how she came to find out she's half angel and what that means. You follow her through dicovering what being nephilm means and training to stay ahead of those who want her dead. There were a few gaps in the story but overall it was an enjoyable read that prompted me to get the next book in the series and find out how the battle between good and evil and Emma Janes roll in that plays out.
I really tried to read this but it was too weird. The plot made no sense. I actually read about half of this book, hoping it would get better, but it didn't and just got worse. The premise of a half human/half angel was interesting and could have been good -- but this wasn't. Basically, don't bother with this book. Thank goodness it was free!
Wow. This book was so good! Its been awhile since I read a good fallen angel book and I loved the twist in this one of the nephilim having to kill their angelic father in order to get entrance to heaven. Of course thats not hard for any of these nephilim since the fallen angels are basically totally evil and keep sending demons after their children. I really liked this book and everything in it was very interesting. There wasn't really a lull in the story or a boring bit for me at all.
I really loved this book. Then they killed Tommy =(