A Taste of Darkness

A Taste of Darkness

by Nina Bangs

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780843956344
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/28/2006
Series: Mackenzie Vampires Series
Pages: 337
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 4.22(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

The author of more than 12 novels to date, Nina Bangs has published with Dorchester and NAL. Nominated for four Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Awards, she finally won in 2009 for Best Shapeshifter Romance (Eternal Craving).

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A Taste of Darkness



By Nina Bangs


Dorchester Publishing


Copyright © 2006

Nina Bangs

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8439-5634-8



Chapter One


Werewolves-furry pains in the butt.

Werecats-sneaky whisker-twitching manipulators.

Werejerks-every freakin' loser with a "were" in front of its
name.

Reinn hated them all. But most of all, Reinn hated his job.
Guardian of the Blood. What a crock.

He'd been a warrior in some form or another for most of his
thousand years of existence. When he'd finally decided to walk
away from that life, he'd bought a house and property in the
Colorado Rockies, and then settled down to be alone. That was
it. He. Wanted. To. Be. Alone. No friends, no emotional
chains, no vulnerabilities.

Yeah, he was a cold bastard. But he was one cold bastard who
was still alive. So how had the clan's governing council
rewarded him for surviving longer than any other Mackenzie?
They'd made him the official clan exterminator. In other
words, he was a glorified weed-whacker. He lopped off the head
of any member of the almighty Mackenzie clan who was crazy
enough to mate with a shape-shifter or demon. Dumbasses. Who'd
want to do that?

He climbed off his bike-the classic Harley was the only
possession he'd allowed himself to care for-and grabbed his
pack. Reinn left the back scabbard that held his sword right
where it was, strapped to his back. He didn't give a damn what
anyonethought about him toting a weapon into the inn. Not
that he needed a weapon. He was the oldest and most powerful
of the Mackenzie vampires. But the sword was a symbolic thing,
a nod to the condemned allowing him to fight for his life.
Stupid clan law. If you were going to kill, just do it and get
out. He stared at the Woo Woo Inn.

The old Victorian mansion surrounded by forest looked spooky
enough beneath a summer full moon, but Reinn knew from last
year's visit that what was inside was a lot weirder than what
was outside.

The only ones who stayed at the inn were nonhuman entities,
idiots who liked to pretend they were nonhuman entities, or
humans who were paranormal junkies, the ones who hung on every
UFO report or ghost sighting. Together they turned happenings
at the inn into supernatural suckfests. Wouldn't catch him
dead here if he didn't have a vampire to off.

He tried to push aside his distaste for the inn's
Amityville-wannabe commercialism and climbed the wooden steps
of the old-fashioned wrap-around porch. Yanking the door open,
he stepped inside.

Okay, if he had to stay here for a few days, he may as well
find something good to say about the place. He thought about
that as he headed for the small registration desk. The inn was
air-conditioned. It felt great after the humid New Jersey
night. And he'd have a chance to get caught up on things when
he talked to Thrain and Cindy. Not that they were friends,
because he didn't have friends.

When he reached the desk, though, all positive thoughts
vanished. The woman seated at the desk crossed her long legs,
making her short tight black skirt ride high on her smooth
thighs, and leaned toward him, assuring that he got an
eye-popping visual where her black top gaped open. She ran her
fingers through her long red hair as she smiled at him, a
predatory smile mirrored in the gleam of her strange amber
eyes. Sparkle Stardust, in the flesh. Bare flesh. Hell.

"Well, hello, gorgeous." She slid her gaze the length of his
body. "You have no idea how I've looked forward to seeing you
again." Emphasis on the word "seeing." Sparkle was the kind of
woman who could make a compliment sound threatening.
"Ganymede, Trouble, and I have so many things planned for
you."

Ganymede. That would be the fat gray cat sitting on the desk
staring at him with avid interest. So Trouble must be the
brown dog wagging its tail as it watched from beside the desk.
Woman, dog, and cat all had the same amber eyes, and they were
all going to be tacks on his road to the quick completion of
his job.

He'd seen first hand what kind of havoc the woman and cat
could cause between them. What had Thrain called them? Cosmic
troublemakers. If they were here, then bad things were going
to happen. Great. Just great.

Reinn didn't know anything about the dog, but if he was with
the other two, then Trouble was probably a good name. "So you
guys are using your real names this time?"

Sparkle blinked at him. "Of course. Sparkle Stardust is who I
am."

"Yo, Reinn, what brings you to Jersey?" Behind the
good-old-boy fat-cat persona, something powerful and dangerous
shone in the cat's eyes. "Bet you didn't know that all the
shifters and demons in North America went on high alert as
soon as word came down that the Guardian of the Blood was back
from Australia. You scare them shitless." Ganymede paused as
if savoring the thought of scaring someone shitless. "And they
don't have a clue what your name is or what you look like
because of that can't-take-a-vampire's-picture thing. All they
know is you're a ruthless killing machine. You're the man!"

"Mmm. Powerful vampires are soooo sexy." Sparkle's sensual
drawl hinted at where she'd like to direct all that power.
"And you're the biggest and baddest of all the Mackenzies. It
makes me all tingly just thinking about you."

"Every man makes you tingly." Ganymede sent Reinn a
belligerent stare. "Just remember, hotshot, that you might
make her tingly, but I'm the only one who lights her fire." He
stood, stretched, and then sat down again. "Have to keep the
old body limber. Oh, since the place is overrun with humans, I
decided I'd better do the telepathy crap again. I thought
about taking a different form this time, but cats are best for
sneaking and spying. I live to sneak and spy."

Ganymede yawned. He was probably ready for a nap after that
tough stretching exercise.

Reinn searched for a believable reason for his presence here.
"I had a few free weeks, so I decided to get some R&R." Yeah,
like he'd choose the Woo Woo Inn for a relaxing vacation. "So
where's Thrain and Cindy? And why are you here?"

Sparkle studied her nails. "Cindy and Thrain are in Scotland.
They're celebrating their first wedding anniversary by
visiting Cindy's dad and stepmom."

Uh-oh. This didn't sound good. "And?"

Sparkle didn't answer. She seemed enthralled by the light
shining off her nails.

"We told Cindy we'd run the place until she got back. Sparkle
got someone to take care of her candy store in Texas while
she's here."
Ganymede watched a woman walk by eating a
doughnut. "I could get down with a doughnut right now. When's
breakfast?"
He stared at Sparkle until she looked away from
her nails.

"What?" She looked from Reinn to Ganymede. "Oh, breakfast.
I'll check to see if Katie's done once we get Reinn settled."

Reinn glanced at his watch-9:00pm. He'd forgotten that
everyone at the Woo Woo Inn slept during the day and played
their supernatural games at night. So breakfast was after
sunset and dinner was sometime in the early hours of the
morning. Not that he cared. All Reinn wanted to do was go to
his room, drop off his stuff, and then do some mingling.

"Look, no one knows my name, but just to be safe, call me
Daniel ..." He glanced at the painting of the Woo Woo Inn on
the wall behind Sparkle. Wrapped in night shadows, it was one
creepy house. "Night."

"Oh, yesss." Only Sparkle could make approval sound like an
orgasm. "I like it. Daniel is a strong masculine name, and
strong masculine men are incredibly arousing. What can I say
about Night? It makes me think of hot sex in dark erotic
places."

"Oh brother." Ganymede looked long-suffering.

Trouble just looked confused.

Sparkle stood and then stretched much like Ganymede had.
"You're in the Werecat room, second floor, turn left. You'll
find a brochure on your night table listing meals and
activities. Right after breakfast everyone gathers in the
parlor to talk about what happened the night before. Any
questions?"

Reinn was suspicious. "Any particular reason you put me in the
Werecat room?" He didn't believe in coincidences.

Sparkle gazed at him from wide innocent eyes. Uh-huh. And he
was supposed to believe a being whose sole purpose in life was
to mess with people's sex lives ever had an innocent moment?
No chance.

"I always try to match guests with rooms that are symbolically
significant to them. If I remember correctly, your job as the
Guardian of the Blood is to keep members of your clan from
getting it on with werecreatures and demons." She shrugged.
"The Demon, Werewolf, and Vampire rooms were taken."

Made sense, but Reinn still didn't trust her. But then, he
didn't trust anyone. "Right. Give me my key, and I'll head on
up to my room."

Sparkle handed him a big old-fashioned key. He turned toward
the stairs.

"Whoa there, bloodsucker."

Reinn paused to look back at Ganymede.

"We're having a big wedding in a week. A vampire and a
werecat. Now I'm not saying you're here to take off the
groom's head." That's exactly what he was saying. "But since
we have lots of guests here who're looking forward to that
wedding, I'll keep your sword nice and safe. You can pick it
up when you leave. Oh, and if you try to do the job without
your sword, you'll have to answer to me."

"And if I don't give up my sword?"

Ganymede offered his version of a cat shrug. "You don't stay
at the inn."

Reinn narrowed his gaze on Ganymede. The gloves were off. He
didn't for a minute underestimate the cat's power. But he'd do
what he had to do, and to hell with Ganymede, Sparkle, and
Trouble. Without comment, he took off his back scabbard and
handed it to Sparkle.

Tail wagging, and mouth open in a happy doggy grin, Trouble
stood and trotted over to Reinn. He looked up and woofed.

"What's with the dog?" Anything with sharp teeth that looked
that happy made him suspicious.

Sparkle had returned to a contemplation of her nails. "Trouble
doesn't say much. We gave him to Thrain and Cindy as a wedding
gift, and they're the only ones he's warmed up to. But he
seems to like you. Strange." She seemed to realize how that
had come out, because she looked away from her nails to smile
at him. A smile filled with wicked intent. "Not that you
aren't supremely lovable."

"Sure." He'd never been lovable. Never wanted to be lovable.
And he'd bet Ganymede had ordered the dog to stick with him so
he couldn't take the head of the dumb vampire groom when no
one was looking. The dog was a snitch, but no drooling pooch
would stop him when he decided to make his move. "Will he keep
quiet about who I am?"

Sparkle did her pouty act. "Cosmic troublemakers know how to
keep their mouths shut."

Yeah. Right. Rein climbed the stairs with Trouble beside him.

"When you were a baby vampire, did you-"

"I was never a baby vampire. I was born human." Trouble's
voice in Reinn's head was the voice of a little kid. Okay, a
young cosmic troublemaker. He'd have to simplify his
explanations. "Listen up, because I'm only going to say this
once. I was human until I was twenty-eight years old and then
I became vampire. Don't ask me why, because I don't know.
That's just the way things work in the Mackenzie clan. Got it
so far?"

"No." Trouble looked up at him from wide puzzled eyes.

"Good. I was a Viking until the clan decided to settle in
Scotland. Then I became a Highlander. We took the clan name
Mackenzie so we'd sort of fit in."

"Did you?"

"Sometimes. Okay, not so much. But hey, we were vampires.
Anyone gave us a hard time, we invited them to dinner. We just
didn't tell them they were bringing the drinks. Everything
clear now?"

"Uh-uh."

Reinn patted him on the head. "Give it a few years, kid, and
it'll all make sense." Turning left, he searched for the
Werecat room.

"Why do you want to kill Alan? He's a vampire, but he's nice
to me. Julie feeds me under the table, and she's going to
marry him. She's a shape-shifter. Don't you like
shape-shifters?"

"I don't have anything against shape-shifters." Besides
wishing the earth would open and swallow them all. "But my
clan has a law that shape-shifters and vampires can't ... marry
each other. So I'm like a cop enforcing the law." He didn't
want to confuse the kid, so he didn't explain the blood thing.

"Wow, a cop. I'd like to be a cop when I grow up." Trouble
looked at him with hero-worship shining in his brown doggy
eyes.

"Sure, kid." Reinn was an anti-hero, but he wouldn't tell
Trouble that. Let the kid keep his illusions for a few more
years. He knew what it was like to have those illusions
stripped away too soon.

Reinn stopped in front of the Werecat room. He put the key in
the lock and turned. Nothing happened. Putting down his pack,
he fiddled with the key. He was just getting ready to use his
power to open the damned door, when the sounds of voices
stopped him. He'd have to wait until they went past.

As the voices drew nearer, he wrapped his mental shields
around him. No being could touch his mind or even identify him
as a vampire now. A thousand years of building his defenses,
both psychic and physical, had made him untouchable when he
chose to be.

In the Woo Woo Inn, you never knew who or what you'd meet.
Reinn glanced at the three people who'd stopped to look at
him-two women and a man. All werecats. He scowled at them.

"Need some help there? The guy who had that room before you
always had trouble with the key." One of the women smiled and
moved to his side.

Warm. That was his first impression. Warm brown hair falling
almost to her waist, large warm brown eyes, and a warm
friendly smile. He'd bet that in her cat form she was a cute
cuddly tabby.

"That's okay, I'll get it." He didn't trust warm and friendly
from werecats. They were sly and untrustworthy in both human
and cat form.

Her smile widened. "No you won't, not for a while at least.
Come on, let me try. I know exactly how to wiggle it." She
glanced at the man and woman who'd paused to watch. "Oh, and
these two are Wendy and Jake, my sister and brother. We're
here for our sister's wedding next Saturday."

Wendy and Jake offered a friendly hi. Reinn smiled at them. No
fangs this time. He shifted his attention back to Ms. Warm and
Cuddly. "And you are?"

"I'm Kisa Evans." She reached for the key, and he let her have
it.

"Kisa? A little more exotic than Wendy and Jake." So far so
good. He got to meet the bride's family right away.

Now all he had to do was meet the groom and separate his
stupid head from his body if he didn't agree to walk away from
his werecat honey.

Reinn had only been Guardian of the Blood for about a year,
and this was his first job. He'd thought he had a job in
Australia, but when the groom heard that the Guardian of the
Blood was in the country, he'd left his werebunny bride at the
altar.

Reinn thought the council needed to get a life if they were
all bent out of shape over a werebunny. He hadn't seen any
fanged bunnies lately, so he didn't think the lop-eared bride
was going to chomp down on a Mackenzie neck and suck his
powers from him.

He didn't expect to have any dealings with demons. Demons
weren't into loving relationships. Which was all good as far
as he was concerned. A few random sexual encounters wouldn't
do a lot of damage. It was when the Mackenzie decided to get
into a long-term relationship that the Guardian had to step
in.

Luckily the previous Guardian was a vicious bastard, so Reinn
didn't have to build a scary rep. His predecessor had gotten
his jollies by not only offing the guilty Mackenzie but also
every shifter within a five-mile radius. He'd claimed the
carnage was necessary so no shifters were left alive to ID
him. He'd also believed in practice, practice,
practice-whacking werecreatures wherever he found them. But
that was okay, because the more the weres feared Reinn, the
less whacking he'd have to do.

Kisa wiggled the key, and the door slid open with a muted
click. "Mom was probably feeling exotic when she named me.
Kisa means kitty in Russian. Mom loves cats." She offered him
a triumphant smile as she gestured toward the open door.

I just bet she does. "Sounds like you have a large ... family."
He'd almost said litter.

"No kidding. Three sisters and four brothers. So what brought
you to the Woo Woo Inn?" There was no suspicion in her eyes,
just friendly curiosity.

(Continues...)





Excerpted from A Taste of Darkness
by Nina Bangs
Copyright © 2006 by Nina Bangs .
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.

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Taste of Darkness 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
The_Book_Queen on LibraryThing 10 months ago
As with all of Nina Bang's romance novels, A Taste of Darkness is filled with the right amount of everything: touching romance, hot steamy love scenes, paranormal themes left and right, some action/suspense, and a truck load of laughs! It is a great ride, from beginning to end, and it will have you coming back for more! If you've read any of Nina's books before, either from the Mackenzie Vampire Series or her Castle of Dreams Trilogy, then you are already well acquainted with our two favorite Cosmic Troublemakers, Sparkle and Graymede. If you do not know them, then you are in for one hell of a laugh! They're always making trouble *duh, it's their 'job'* but they always manage to turn it around to something positive, giving the reader PLENTY of laughs along the way. The storyline is great, not too deep, but not so fluffy light that you're left wondering where the plot was lost between editing and publishing. Bang's stories, this book included, are always charming and captivating, and they will keep up until dawn trying to finish it! And the romance is scorching, a perfect combination of passion and true love. And as if all of that wasn't enough to make you run out and grab this book, the story's world is filled with every paranormal creature you can imagine-- harpies, vampires *More than one kind, actually.*, werewolves, all kinds of shapeshifters, demons...the list is almost endless! The hero in A Taste of Darkness is not only a vampire, but also a sexy one that still carries his medieval sword with him and he's Scottish.. well, kind of. He and his 'family', the Mackenzies, kind of 'adopted' the name and heritage hundreds of years ago, but still, I can easily image the rough Scottish burr. :) What more can you possibly ask for? 5/5 STARS! One of the best paranormal authors out there, Nina Bangs delivers in this amazing, rollicking romance. A definite must read for any one, and don't forget to grab her other books--once you are introduced to one sexy vampire hero, you won't be able to resist the need to find out what is in store for the other ones!
Badass_Book_Reviews on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Fun and fluffy reading. Humor, a little romance, a little sex, makes for a fun few hours of reading. Reinn is the executioner for his vampire clan, but when he meets the offending vampire's future in laws, he starts re-thinking the clan's motto of pure blood marriages, as he falls for a werecat named Kisa. Kisa has a few secrets of her own, she is a rare type of cat.Complete with Catnip bandit, Nina Bangs strikes again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is interesting. It is based on the fact that things that go bump in the night vacation in locations where humans go to be and discuss things that go bump in the night. It makes for an interesting plot and just fun, relaxing reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely sizzling hot! Lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DChaching More than 1 year ago
I love to read a clever and funny paranormal romance and this series is it!! Lots of great mischief entertaining charachters. I tore through this book couldn't put it down laughing all the way to the end. The vampirus toesucksus is so funny I laugh just thinking about it. This story is about a vampire that fall in love with a shifter and this is not allowed by vampire law. Well just try and stop them. Especially when he is the one they call to kill any law breakers.
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rose666 More than 1 year ago
very funny and kept you going would recommend it to any one
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I Loved this book. It was Exciting and it kept me in it. I never wanted to put it down and I was hoping that it wouldn't end it was so good. Well to tell you a little bit about this book, it's about vampires and werecats which are like werewolves but they come in all kinds of cat forms and there are other imortals in this book but there are also humans. It's also about a forbidden romace between 2 speices. So I would recommend this book to people who are into fiction and romance stories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a long time fan of Nina Bangs¿ writing, so I am always surprised by the few who don¿t ¿get¿ her. She has a style that is all her own. A sexy, campy, cheeky, irreverent style (might be the cause of those few naysayers) that delights in taking the vampire genre and redefining it, making it all her own. Many vampire fans want utter reverence of the night creature. Bangs goes beyond the accepted level to drag in humor, and I think maybe a few resent that. Their loss. She is an imaginative, incisive author who skillfully weaves sensuality, hot sex and belly laughs, which leaves me howling and wanting more. I have enjoyed all her works, but I think Taste of Darkness is Dead Bang Bangs - her best novel yet. From the opening lines, she had me laughing out loud - not an easy task, but how can you not with an opening so wonderfully brilliant, so Naughty Nina as this: ¿Werewolves - furry pains in the butt. Werecats - sneaky whisker-twitching manipulators. Werejerks ¿ every freakin¿ loser with a ¿were¿ in front of his name.¿ What a delightful opening! She grabs the reader from that point and takes them into the mind of one of her most brilliantly conceived heroes ¿ Reinn Mackenzie. He is the oldest vamp in the Mackenzie Clan, over a thousand years old and that age has made him one grumpy vamp. He bought a home in the Colorado Rockies and shunned everyone. So what did Clan Mackenzie do to reward their elder? They made him Guardian of the Blood. Reinn has a few choice opinions on that job as well as his outlook on the Woo Woo Inn, where he finds himself at the opener the book. He thinks being protector of the blood, keeping the lines pure, a total crock. How does a vampire keep the blood ¿pure¿ when by nature they are running around having ¿suckfests¿ as the Woo Woo Inn? Our delight Reinn, Harley-loving, sword-toting avenger of the Mackenzie clan, evokes a touch of Ash from Army of Darkness. I could just hear some of these lines Bangs penned being uttered by the droll Bruce Campbell! It would be a perfect vehicle for the talented actor. Only our sourpuss lad is about to run into one sexy puss, Kisa Evans, one of those aggravating werefelines. She is one of the werecats the vamps feel pollute their pure bloodline and they want her removed. Only grouchy Reinn finds this particular werekitty is driving him wild with desire. This has to be Bangs¿ best. The book is just so dead on target. I absolutely laughed from start to finish from the witty writing that just shows why Bangs keeps hitting the bestsellers list time-after-time. This is one gem of a tale. I don¿t reread my books these days because I just don¿t have the time. This one I will reread it¿s one of those books that nests in the imagination and won¿t let you go. Kudos for the writer having the vision and craft to deliver this knock out book. Keep `em coming, lass. Very highly recommended for the non-humor impaired!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Vampire Reinn Mackenzie wants nothing to do with his peers or for that matter any creature, supernatural or human. However, the Clan Council informs him he has no choice as he the Guardian of the Blood. Instead of peaceful solitude, Reinn must hunt down vampires who mate with shapeshifters, a major taboo forbidden by the clan. --- Reinn knows he must kill Alan Mackenzie who is engaged to marry a were-cat Woo Woo Inn. However, going undercover, Reinn learns that the trio of Sparkle, Stardust, and Ganymede are stirring up their usual cosmic relational troubles. He also finds himself attracted to were-cat Krisa, but wonders if the three troublemakers are behind his desire. However, when Reinn realizes that someone is trying to force Krisa to change into her alter ego, a saber tooth tiger, he becomes too involved as he falls in love, but killing himself for breaking the taboo seems extreme. --- This entertaining star-crossed supernatural romance grips the audience from the moment a disgruntled Reinn goes undercover and never slows down through a series of capers until the final confrontation. Readers will believe in vampires and were-creatures as the Nina Bangs' mythos seem genuine. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the WICKED NIGHTS of this fun humorous and sexy paranormal romantic suspense thriller. --- Harriet Klausner