Love is a battlefield...
Superhero Vince “The Anvil” can take on knives, bullets, and bombs, but he’s not invincible. It was a hard hit when Kara, AKA “Snapdragon,” flew off after their explosive affair. And he’s especially vulnerable when she returns, looking for his help.
Kara is new to the superhero game, and villain TechHead is too much for her and her teammates to handle. He’s determined to use their combined power to fuel his ultimate weapon. Her only chance to take him on is with Vince’s brutal skill. But bringing Vince into the fight leaves her exposed to the white hot passion that had scared her away in the first place.
When TechHead captures Kara, Vince will stop at nothing to rescue her–even if it means sacrificing his heart.
Ironheart was previously released as part of the Holding Out for a Hero anthology.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
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By Nico Rosso, Kerri-Leigh Grady, Adrien-Luc Sanders
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Nico Rosso
All rights reserved.
Five shadowy figures blocked Vince's path. Five men he'd have to knock out before dinner. Another typical night.
He glared at the men on the street. "I've put my fist through an asteroid crashing toward our planet. I've fought swarms of giant ants. Once, I kept the claws of an inter-dimensional jellyfish from getting hold of Earth and destroying life as we know it."
The men didn't move.
Vince was hungry, but knew there would be a fight before food. "You punks really want to get between me, my chili burgers, and a six-pack of beer?"
Dense San Francisco fog stretched from the ground high into the night. Only a solitary yellow streetlamp struggled against the darkness. Vince couldn't see the men's faces, but they snickered like children with secrets.
The boldest one stepped forward into the weak light, revealing the acid green and grey jumpsuit of the GearHeads — the henchmen of the power-hungry TechHead. The man's mouth and nose were covered by a cowl, but his eyes were narrow and mean.
And he held a heavy crowbar.
"We're not looking for trouble, Anvil." The GearHead spat out the name. "We're just looking for your girlfriend."
Was this son of a bitch serious? Vince barked out a laugh. "You got bad intel from your boss. I ain't the Anvil anymore. And I ain't got a girlfriend." Not now. Not since SnapDragon killed that chance by flying off into the bright sky.
Another GearHead came into the light. He also held a crowbar. It swung in his hand and sparked against the cracked pavement with a rhythmic ping.
"That's not what TechHead's satellite photos sh-showed," the second man stuttered with excitement. "You and SnapDragon made a hell of a super p-porno."
Goddamnit, it was painful enough to have those memories rushing back, but knowing there were pictures of it was extra bad. Forget about the public seeing them. If Vince ever laid eyes on the shots, he might not ever forget her.
"Old news," he said.
Two more GearHeads revealed themselves. Both had twisted fireplace pokers and bad intentions. Behind Vince, the green fluorescent light of the burger joint flicked off. The restaurant knew a fight was on its way. The other small markets and shops on the street were already dark. Some were hollowed out, no glass in the windows.
One of the GearHeads puffed up his chest. "But you'll know where to find her, and you're going to tell us." He held out the iron fireplace poker. "We didn't bring any of TechHead's weapons to kill you. Just have these for ... persuasion."
"Doesn't take a genius to do an internet search." Vince scraped his boot over the crumbling asphalt, testing his footing. "But iron won't make me weak. I'll still kick your asses."
The GearHead shook his head. "You won't bluff your way out of this. Our boss needs the information."
Vince's powers might make him steel-hard, but he still had a heart for people in need. Though he felt less than generous when it came to these bastards. Based on his previous run-ins with TechHead, the only thing Vince wanted to give this GearHead's boss was a beat down. Vince wasn't going to give up one shred of information about SnapDragon to these punks. "I know this isn't the best neighborhood in San Francisco. But the people don't mind me being here, and I help out when I can. We don't need more trouble. So fuck off."
Big-time super-powered fights in populated areas were what got Vince in trouble in the first place. Most cities endured a super battle once or twice a month, but that didn't mean the people looked forward to them like a little spring rain.
The second henchman kept ringing his crow bar against the ground, a distant bell tolling someone's execution. "Fuck off. That's f-funny. If you'd kept it in your pants, we w-wouldn't be bothering you. But TechHead wants to consult with SnapDragon about s-some things, and he thinks you know how to find her."
"Consult, bullshit." When Vince had been part of the West Coast superhero group Omni Force, they'd tussled with TechHead's inventions a few times. The guy was on the short list of really bad guys, one who liked his toys to do his consultations for him. "No way he's got good intentions."
The first GearHead spoke up. "Not your concern. TechHead's satellite also showed us a lot of nights of you eating burgers alone. She left you. What do you owe her? If it's over between you, there's no reason to protect her. Just tell us where she is, and we'll leave you alone."
Vince stepped to one side of the street and put his dinner on a busted bus bench. A couple of dark shapes scurried deeper into a cluttered alley. The homeless guys were clearing out ahead of the inevitable battle. There was a parked car someone should probably move, but by the way it sagged low into the potholes, it couldn't have been driven in thirty years.
Vince tried to keep his growing anger under control. No sense throwing down with these assholes if he wasn't going to enjoy it. The fact that the GearHead was right about Vince spending his nights alone made him more than ready to smash his fist into something. But the last thing this neighborhood needed was super-powered holes in the derelict buildings. This was supposed to be another quiet night without any thoughts of SnapDragon.
Like every other night he didn't spend thinking about her.
Too late for that. At least this fight might distract him. "Try and make me talk."
The last of the five henchmen came forward, a length of iron chain wrapped around his fist and forearm. He was so excited he nearly jumped out of his heavy boots. "Omni Force isn't here to back you up this time."
No, they weren't. "Got tired of doing their dirty work."
Fighting by their side, he'd saved the world enough times to get some decent press, or at least a pat on the back. But it was always the same headline: Superhero Nearly as Bad as the Bad Guys. It didn't matter that he only hurt the villains. So what if he wrecked a couple of buildings doing it? He didn't have swirling energy beams like Solarus or the invisible mental powers of Dr. Doctor. Vince used his fists, and didn't always shave before a fight.
In the eyes of the public he was brutal, just a fine line away from the villains he battled. Omni Force was only interested in keeping West Coast safe while preserving their do-gooder reputations. They'd let the Anvil take the heat, allowing them to stay clean.
So he'd walked.
Vince growled at the GearHeads. Enough with the past. Omni Force. SnapDragon. He itched for action now. Fighting these five goons, even with their iron weapons, could be a lot of fun. "People say I fight dirty. Some of you jackholes might have the scars. Just imagine what I'm going to do to you now that I don't have to worry about what the rest of my team thinks."
The first GearHead narrowed his twitchy eyes. "You have no reason to smile."
Genuine smiles were hard to come by since SnapDragon left. "Gonna feel good breaking all your bones."
The second GearHead tightened his grip on his crow bar. "W-we can hurt you, too. Tell us what we want to know, and you can go back to your d- dinner alone."
"Tired of talking." He bared his teeth in a wider grin. "Let's fight."
Vince stalked forward, tightening his hands into fists. Even before Vince's powers had manifested themselves when he was a teenager in Pennsylvania, he'd been in plenty of scrapes. He could handle himself now.
Despite the iron in their pokers, the henchmen hesitated to jump into the fight. Vince didn't wait. He lunged at the closest GearHead.
The man swung defensively with the crow bar. Vince dove beneath it and came up with a hard punch to the ribs. The henchman groaned, coating Vince in stale cigarette breath. Before the man could launch into another attack, Vince struck again with a crushing left hook to his jaw. The GearHead collapsed to the ground.
Vince's knuckles throbbed from the impact. It'd been a while since a simple punch like that had hurt, but it'd also been a while since he'd fought with iron negating the innate titanium-like hardness of his body. The pain felt good.
No time to revel in it, though. Two more GearHeads came fast, swinging their weapons. The edge of a crowbar slammed into Vince's shoulder and back. The pain washed over him like a cold rain, waking up every nerve. This was so much easier than sitting around all night not thinking about SnapDragon. He grabbed the crowbar and twisted to deflect the sharpened tip of the fireplace poker another henchman tried to shove through his throat.
A GearHead struggled to wrench the crow bar free from Vince's grip, and they stumbled to one side of the fight. The last henchman swung his chain, swiping across the backs of Vince's legs.
The pain flashed from cold to blazing hot, driving him toward rage.
Before the GearHead could attack again, Vince shoved hard into the henchman holding the crowbar. The man staggered back, and Vince drove a knee into his side twice. Ribs cracked with a satisfying crunch. Wheezing, the GearHead doubled over and let go of the crowbar. Vince could've crushed his skull with it. Instead, he swung an elbow into the side of the man's head, knocking him unconscious.
Fury burned bright in Vince.
The GearHead lashed the chain out, striking Vince across the shoulder. Before the henchman could pull the chain back, Vince wrapped his arm around it and tugged the man toward him.
Right into his fist.
The man struggled to keep his balance. Then his eyes rolled back and his body went limp. His fists still clutched the other side of the chain.
Another GearHead attacked with a poker. Vince swung the chain, the unconscious villain still attached to it, into his path. It was a messy tangle, and when Vince let go of the chain, the two thugs crashed to the ground. Pinned under his unconscious friend, the GearHead with the poker was out of the fight for a moment.
"That leaves you." Vince pointed the crowbar at the last GearHead.
The man's hands shook. He glanced up a side street. Would he bolt or fight?
Vince threw down the crowbar. It rang on the street. Throbbing pain blazed through his back and shoulder. His knuckles ached, and the chain had left deep bruises across his legs. He extended his hand and curled his index finger in like a hook. "Come on, make me talk."
The answer came, but in a voice he never expected to hear again. A woman spoke from the fog at the top of the buildings.
"Is there enough for two?"
For a second, Vince thought he'd imagined the voice. Did he want SnapDragon so badly he had to hallucinate her? But the last GearHead standing also looked to the rooftop.
There she was, crouching at the edge of a run-down apartment building. She wore her costume, deep pink with yellow highlights that accented the length of her arms and legs. Boots and gloves for fighting. No mask. Her blond hair was pulled back, but the night obscured her eyes. Vince couldn't read her expression.
Was she here for him, or to battle the GearHeads who were looking for her?
He'd find out later. Right now, there was one remaining bastard to put down.
"I can handle him," Vince said.
The goon rallied himself and swung the fireplace poker. It was a sloppy attack. Vince easily dodged it. He chopped the edge of his hand into the man's wrist. The man grunted, hand spasming, and the weapon skittered away.
As the last iron weapon fell to a safe distance, a cold wave of power washed over Vince's body. His strength and hard-as-steel skin were back.
He would need them now that SnapDragon had returned.
Vince grabbed the GearHead's jumpsuit, not bothering to avoid the man's punches and kicks. They had no effect. He turned them both. In the street, the other thugs were still unconscious.
Pulling the man closer, Vince whispered, "Still think I'm going to talk?"
The struggling GearHead managed a weak smile. "You don't have to now."
Vince let go of the man's jumpsuit and punched him in the ribs. It was barely a hundredth of his strength, but Vince's blow knocked the GearHead a dozen feet sideways. The goon hit the sidewalk hard and lay there wheezing.
SnapDragon's voice turned Vince back toward the roof.
"I know you can handle them." She stood up, revealing the sweet curves of her body. A deep red glow emanated from her as she spread her arms. It lit up the fog like a blazing halo. Shapes formed around her. Large, translucent energy cells collected into wide dragon wings. She stepped off the edge of the building and caught the air in her wings, drifting to the street.
Her luminous energy persisted, transforming the dingy neighborhood into a dazzling landscape. He had spent too many nights trying not to think about her long, lean shape, and now she was here, walking toward him. She held her chin high, bold. "I was wondering if there were enough burgers for the both of us."
Sure, her words were brave, but Vince saw caution in her blue eyes. She hadn't stood this close to him in months. Not since she had turned her back on him, spread her wings and soared off.
"Gone cold by now." But he hadn't, damn it. Seeing her again lit him like a chemical fire.
"Let's get some more."
She talked like she had in the past — like a woman who knew what she wanted, sought it out, and used every power in her arsenal to take it. But that was the same reason she'd cut off their white-hot fling. That power had seemed to scare her.
Goddamnit, he didn't want to make this bullshit talk. He just wanted to grab her, to kiss her and wreck this town with their bodies.
"How hungry are you?" he asked.
"I'm ... I'm ..."
She lunged past Vince; the red cells appeared over her arm and shoulder like armor. A GearHead had disentangled himself from his unconscious teammate and now lurched forward with a fireplace poker. The sharpened point glanced harmlessly off SnapDragon's power cells. She slammed an armored fist into the goon's face. He was unconscious before he hit the ground.
SnapDragon turned back to Vince, the thrill of the fight in her eyes. "Good thing I'm back to save your hide, tough guy."
The tough guy image did have its advantages. That was what had attracted SnapDragon in the first place. Good girls like that get excited on the wrong side of the tracks. Dangerous territory. He was her guide, and she surprised Vince with how quickly she embraced her rough side. During a long weekend of rocking sex, the two of them had nearly leveled a desolate island off the coast of Alaska.
She must've surprised herself, too. Vince had seen it in her bright blue eyes. Fear. She hadn't been afraid of him — but of her own power, her own darkness.
His steel-hard grip could stop a jumbo jet from taking off, but he couldn't hold SnapDragon. Just after that time in Alaska, she had slipped away with hardly a word, disappearing into the Rocky Mountain stronghold of her four-woman team, the WildFlowers. Vince had felt as if he'd been wrapped in an iron coffin. No powers. No strength. His flesh vulnerable.
And now here she was.
It was too fast. She'd just shown up after months of silence. Vince wouldn't tell her how sexy she looked after decking that guy. He cleared his throat. "I could've taken care of him."
"Even without your powers?"
"Been fighting longer than I had powers." He made a fist, staring at skin that could stop bullets. "No one made it through my high school without learning to talk or punch their way out of a fight. I ain't much for words."
The power cells briefly shimmered over her. "This is all still new to me. Not even a year."
"Learned more by fighting at your side than I did from the Changali who trains us. He's just a glowing specter from another dimension — what does he know about street brawls?" She smirked, but her eyes still held a world of caution and promise.
"You and I did more than fight."
A hint of blush crept into her cheeks, but she shook it off, standing taller. "I couldn't forget. That's why I'm here." She stepped closer.
"You just take a wrong turn and wind up in my bad neighborhood, or did you really fly down from your mountain hideaway for me?"
She licked her lips and fixed her gaze to his. "For you."
"And it's just a coincidence you show up the same night these GearHeads are looking for you?"
SnapDragon took another step forward. Heat radiated from her body. He remembered her against him, around him. Their first kiss had been in the wake of the biggest battle either had ever faced. They'd saved the world, and nothing had felt better than her lips on his. Both of them had known that a celebratory kiss wasn't enough.
He didn't back away. But he didn't give her an opening either, keeping his shoulders turned, ready to walk away. "I can stop a bullet, but I ain't actually metal. You can't just heat me up and bend me any way you want."
Excerpted from Ironheart by Nico Rosso, Kerri-Leigh Grady, Adrien-Luc Sanders. Copyright © 2013 Nico Rosso. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Interesting Superhero Romance Vince aka “The Anvil” is trying to adjust to living in the normal world after working as a superhero for a long time. Also he is trying to recover from his heartbreak from the “Snapdragon” after she left him. When word gets to out that arch villain TechHead is after him to find Snapdragon and is sending his people after Vince to get him and do some damage to get information on Snapdragon’s whereabouts, suddenly Snapdragon is back in Vince’s life in a big way. Will these star-crossed lovers have a chance to reconnect and let love in or will the villain win? This is a novella length book and it is good in the sense it is great that we are about to get the hero and heroine’s viewpoints. There is action and adventure and defiantly villains in this story. Oh and there is romance between the MC – love the supporting characters –hopefully they will get their own stories down the line. I wish it was longer and that there could be more of a backstory as to how the MCs’ love came to be. I also wish there was an epilogue on how they are doing. My rating: 4.0stars **** *A gifted copy was provided by the publisher for my honest review*
Action packed superhero romance! Fear can affect everyone, even super heroes – and that’s certainly true in this super hero romance. Neither of the main characters fear physical combat but both fear exposing themselves to possible heartbreak by allowing themselves to care and love. The story contrasts the emotional vulnerability of the superheroes with their roles confronting and defeating those with evil intent in this fast paced, action packed adventure story. It is a modern take on comic book adventures where the super heroes take on aliens, robots, evil masterminds and try to protect considerably less heroic humans, with some steamy scenes to make it definitely not a children’s story! With less than a hundred pages, this is a relatively quick, dramatic read, easy to get lost in when you’ve no time or concentration for longer novels. It is an intrepid endeavour, with bold, heroic, daring deeds needed to save the day, with developing super powers being harassed to defeat evil and give love a chance. Thanks again to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too, for gifting me an ecopy of this book in exchange for this, my honest review.
This one was a different read for me and you could definitely tell that it had more of a masculine tone to the story line. I was sort of apprehensive with this one when I found it was a superhero novel, but I am glad that I gave it a shot. It is a great short read. Vince and Kara are very complex characters that make you wonder what is going to happen in the story next and keep you on the edge of your seat. Vince thought that he was over Kara, but once he sees her again, all bets are off. Kara needs him to help her out so she goes back in her time of weakness. How will things ends for these two? You need to read this short story to find out. You will not be sad that you did.
This is an interesting and fun read. Superheroes are super-hot and it's quite intriguing to read about their explosive chemistry. Apart from that book is also well written and characters are all very interesting. Vince and Kara won't let you get bored at all. Vince is on a break from all the superhero stuff. He is tired of being blamed for everything that goes wrong during crime-fighting. Right now he is alone and that's exactly how he wants it to stay. But things don't go his way. TechHead is after Kara and now Vince needs to play hero once again. For her he is willing to do anything. It doesn't matter that she broke his heart in the past. She is the only one he wants to be with. But will he be able to save her and keep his heart intact. He might be invincible but she is able to penetrate all his defences. This is a must read for superhero & science fiction fans. I'm not much of a fan but even I loved this book.