Read an Excerpt
The Red Lily
A Vampire Blood Novel
By Juliette Cross
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Juliette Cross
All rights reserved.
Sienna glanced over her shoulder for the second time since she'd entered the market of Hiddleston, the sense of being watched sending a tingle up her spine. Patrons bargained with farmers for their fall harvest — pomegranates, squash, and sweet potatoes. She'd passed the stalls of produce and cheese, her basket of pears, persimmons, and a fresh loaf of bread under her arm, and wandered along the lane of fineries. Pausing at a table of linens and fine quilts, she admired the patterns of interlacing rings and stars.
"Good day, miss."
"Hello, Alice." Sienna nodded a greeting to the quilt-maker she'd traded with on many occasions. Today, she needed no linens or fabrics. She strolled on, a sparkle catching her eye at the next stall. The jeweler was here today. He only ventured into the open market twice a year as he was the only jeweler from here to Dale's Peak. She couldn't help but meander toward his stall where a table was beset with all manner of intricate silverwork — combs, brushes, brooches, pendants.
"Hello, fair lady. Would you care for a new set of combs or pins for your lovely red hair?"
His speech was not as coarse as the local farmers, probably because his customers were of a more genteel breeding. He had kind, wide eyes, made wider by the round spectacles perched on his nose.
"These are quite beautiful." She lifted a brush, the silver handle and back molded into an exquisite design of the Glass Tower. The last thing she wanted was a reminder of where the vampire monarchy ruled on high and where her dear friend Arabelle nearly lost her life. As leader of the Black Lily resistance, Arabelle had fallen into one of the queen's traps. Fortunately, Prince Marius had saved her, and then they fled across the Cimmaron Sea to Cutters Cove, where they'd been building and training their army ever since. Sienna longed to see her friend again, but for now, she was happy knowing she was safely away from the wicked Queen Morgrid of the Glass Tower.
She set the brush down. "But I'm in no need of a new set."
The hairs on the back of her neck raised on end. She glanced over her shoulder. No one was even looking in her direction, the townsfolk bartering their wares like any other market day. Peculiar.
"Oh, I have something that would suit you superbly." The jeweler pulled her attention back to the table as he ducked beneath the skirt, riffled around, then popped back up with a square, red velvet box. "Now this," he said, opening it. "This is something to match your beauty."
Sienna sucked in a breath and touched two fingertips to the necklace pendant on a thin silver chain. "Oh."
Inlaid in the finest silver she'd ever seen was a running wolf, the body made entirely of tiny diamonds except for a ruby eye. The craftsmanship was beyond compare.
"So unique." She angled it toward the setting sun, the jewels winking like fairy lights. "So beautiful."
"Thank you, my lady. Much like you."
She smiled, having grown accustomed to such flattery over the years. But his compliment seemed genuine. She knew she could neither afford such a jewel nor did she need an adornment like this. She was no longer the fine lady of Dale's Peak, milling amongst the aristocracy and courting the gentlemen to find a good match. Still, she wondered at the cost.
"How much is this necklace?"
"For you, I could let it go for fifty sovereigns."
She nearly choked. That was higher than she could have imagined, and he was giving her a bargain. "Thank you. But not today." Not ever, actually. "You are a fine craftsman, sir."
He bowed. "It pleases me to hear you say so."
The sun slipped lower. The sudden need to be safe in her cottage urged her on. "Good day, sir."
"Good day, my lady."
Pulling up the hood of her cloak, she made her way back down the road toward Silvane Forest. Once more, she had the distinct feeling she was being watched. And, once more, she saw no one who seemed suspicious when she glanced over her shoulder. It was a brisk walk to the woods. Once there, her guardians would be waiting for her, and she would be safe.
Rounding the bend, she turned off the lane abruptly and quickened her pace. While she couldn't spot anyone behind her, a shiver raised gooseflesh on her skin, a foreboding she could not shake. The line of trees was just ahead, whispering of safety. Unable to control her growing panic, she tucked her basket closely and ran. The old, gnarled oak stood just ahead, the marker that she was only feet away from stepping into the shade of the forest. A shower of red-orange and gold leaves drifted down, creating a harvest gown around roots protruding across the grassy lane.
Sienna fled into a full sprint and tripped over a particularly knotty root, catching her fall with her hands. Her basket fell open, pears rolling away.
A familiar masculine voice sounded on her left. "Am I that frightening that you must run at my nearness?"
Adrenaline shot like lightning through her frame. Leaning back against the old oak was the man of her dreams. Quite literally. For the past few months, she would wake in the morning, sweating and breathless from the sensual pleasures he'd given her. She'd swear by heaven to never think of him again, and certainly not about the wicked things he was doing to her each night. Until the next night, of course.
And there he was, arms and ankles casually crossed, soft black leather pants fitting him all too well, blond hair falling partly over one eye, devilish smile in place. He looked like a mutinous pirate, taking a jaunt on land for a bit of pillaging.
"Lieutenant Nikolai. Have you been following me?" She sat back on her rump, gathering her runaway pears.
"Of course I was."
"Not very gentlemanly of you."
"I needed to speak with you."
"Well, the normal course of action is to walk up to a lady and say, 'Good afternoon. Might I have a word, my lady?' Not skulk about and frighten her to death." She slapped the top of her basket shut.
Vampire-swift, he was there, lifting her to her feet. She wobbled for it was too fast for her human senses, but his hands banded her waist underneath her red cloak, keeping her steady.
"I apologize, sweetheart," he said, voice low and intimate and entirely too close. "I did not mean to frighten you."
"I am not your sweetheart." She stepped out of his arms, quite sure he could hear the rapid beat of her heart. She hoped he presumed it was the fright he gave her and not the uncomfortable nearness of him. She bent to pick up the basket, but he was there, lifting it before she could. "Thank you."
"It's the least I could do after giving you such a fright."
She ignored the way his mouth ticked up in amusement and continued on the path. "Why were you hiding?"
He followed alongside her. "Because I'm a wanted man, as you know. And the Glass Tower has spies everywhere."
She laughed. "Even in Hiddleston? I don't see the likes of squash farmers and quilt-makers spying for the queen."
"You'd be surprised who Queen Morgrid would employ. Or seduce."
Sienna shivered at the thought of the queen. She'd only seen her from afar once, when she waved to the peasants of Sylus from the castle's terrace one harvest. Her black hair glistened like a raven's wing, her porcelain skin pale like winter's snow, and her regal beauty beamed like night's brightest star. She was a beautiful yet dangerous force. Even from a distance, the queen's evil seeped into her bones.
"I suppose you're right." She exhaled a deep breath, finally feeling at ease. Well, as much at ease as one could be in the presence of a man who'd seduced her nightly in her dreams. Not a man. A vampire. "So, lieutenant. What brings you here?"
They crossed into the shade of Silvane Forest. At once, a soothing tranquility washed over Sienna. A white flash zipped between the trees.
"I see your companions never stray too far," he said, noting the black hart wolf stalking on his right.
"No. They don't like it when I go to market. They grow anxious until I return."
"I don't think the black one likes me."
"His name is Luca." Sienna tossed a smile into the vicinity of the woods where the bear-sized wolf loped. "But don't feel bad. Luca doesn't like much of anyone. Except Duchess, of course. He worships her."
When she said her name, the snow-white mate of Luca appeared on the path up ahead. She glanced at the two walking side by side, then trotted farther on.
"Oh, and Arabelle," added Sienna. "Luca and Duchess both adore her."
"Where are the other two?" He sauntered along, one hand holding the basket, the other casually in his pocket, but he studied his surroundings keenly. One thing she'd noticed on her few encounters with the lieutenant, he never missed anything.
"The brothers? Kai and Hugo are off with the other hart wolves most likely."
"There are others?" This brought his attention back to her.
"Oh yes. Though I rarely see them. And when I do, they never come too close."
"Haven't you lived in these woods for many years?"
"I'm surprised you wouldn't run into the larger pack more often."
"Silvane Forest is wide and deep. I only live on this little part." Though Nikolai was certainly older than her, she knew he wouldn't know much about these woods. Vampires steered clear of them, not caring for the enchantment here. "The rest of the pack avoids my side of the woods. They're much more wild."
Nikolai laughed. A pleasant sound that drew a smile from Sienna. "What is so funny?"
"They're all wild, sweetheart. Quite so."
He was determined to use that endearment for her. Each time he did, her stomach fluttered, even though she knew it meant nothing at all. Ever since the first night she met Nikolai, he'd had this effect on her. She'd tracked him down in the pouring rain to bring help to Prince Marius, who'd been injured. She could remember the way Nikolai had looked sitting atop his gray horse in the downpour, capturing her with his supernatural gaze. Throughout the following few weeks, before he left with Arabelle and Marius to their training camp, she'd caught him watching her, sending a scintillating thrill through her body. Finally, at the midnight ceremony where she stood as maid of honor to Arabelle as she wed Marius in the small candlelit chapel, Sienna couldn't deny the sizzling heat of Nikolai's gaze. Many men had looked on her with lust, but none had looked on her with possessive need like the former lieutenant of the Crown's Royal Legionnaires.
"I suppose you are right," she finally answered. "They just don't seem wild to me."
"That's because they are so fond of you. But I can't blame them." A fallen branch crossed the path. He took her hand and guided her over it, shifting his body closer. "If I were a wolf in these woods, I'd gravitate to your cabin nightly."
His casual admission conjured the image of her dreams, Nikolai on top of her, kissing, caressing, stroking. While her attraction to him was undeniable, she kept hearing her grandmother's warnings in her head. Never fall for a vampire, dear one. There can be no future with the cursed.
She drew her hand away and quickly changed the subject.
"So tell me, do you bring news of Arabelle?"
His mouth twitched on one side as if he knew why she quickly changed the subject. "Actually, I do." He pulled a folded letter from within his vest pocket. "She was going to send it by post, but since I was heading here anyway, I am happy to be your courier."
"Oh!" Sienna snatched the letter from him, noting the black wax seal embossed with a blooming lily.
She ran a finger over the official seal of their resistance against the vampire monarchy, the Black Lily. The symbol of their cause to fight against the Varis Crown and their way of life that oppressed the poor and working class as little more than slaves to the human and vampire aristocracy. Arabelle had seen that only a revolution would break through the shackles of injustice, and so the Black Lily had been born. But they were a long way off from victory.
The shocking reality was that the vampire walking next to her had joined their cause alongside Prince Marius, now Arabelle's husband. He had once been a high-ranking lieutenant in the Royal Legionnaires but had given it up to fight alongside his best friend.
Sienna broke the seal and unfolded the letter, scanned the first few lines, then hurriedly refolded and stuffed it in the pocket of her mantle.
"The letter was longer than that," said Nikolai.
"Aye. But I want to savor it. I'll wait till after dinner." She glanced sideways, finding the very tall lieutenant studying her. "So if you're still a wanted man by the Legionnaires at the Glass Tower, pray tell, what are you doing here?"
"I'm on a mission to speak with my cousin who is still within the ranks of the Royal Legionnaires."
They crossed into the grove of black oaks, their sable trunks and silvery leaves looking like ghosts in the growing darkness. Thankfully, her cabin was not far off.
"How do you plan to get word to him?"
"Actually, you might want to read that letter sooner rather than later. I believe Arabelle has put a request in there for you as well. For the Black Lily."
Winding into the clearing surrounding her cabin and small barn, she tucked her hand into her pocket and drew out the letter again. "I see."
Her old goat with one broken horn baaed at their approach, craning her neck through the paddock fence.
"Quiet, Mildred," said Sienna. "Well, sir. Would you like to stay for dinner before you move on?"
Her heart tripped double when she realized what vampires preferred to eat for dinner. The lieutenant's blue eyes glowed with an unnatural luster. He said not a word at her invitation, his keen eyes assessing, dropping to her throat.
"What I meant to say was that you may rest here while I have dinner. Give me a moment to read the letter. If you don't mind." She opened her door, then turned back to him in the doorway.
His smile nearly buckled her knees. "I would love nothing more." Then he sauntered into her home.CHAPTER 2
She was the most exquisite creature Nikolai had ever seen. More so than he remembered. Since their all-too-brief meeting a few months ago before he was swept away to Cutters Cove with Marius, his new wife and leader of the Black Lily, Arabelle, and the rest of the resistance, he had been haunted by the image of this woman now moving about the room. When Marius had mentioned they needed more soldiers to stand against Queen Morgrid's Legionnaires, Nikolai had swiftly pointed out that they needed someone to recruit on the mainland, someone the Legionnaires would never suspect. Arabelle finally came around to the idea of Sienna, giving Nikolai the perfect reason to return to her. Just as he'd hoped.
And so here he was, examining her with a subtle eye while she pulled the stew off the fire and served herself a bowl. Yes, he was there to serve as her protector and to recruit for the Black Lily, but his primary quest was of a more personal nature. Her alluring scent had gotten under his skin, and he wouldn't be satisfied until he'd gotten under hers. His fangs ached at the thought. He shifted his cock in his pants where it strained against his trousers. He'd planned to tread carefully and slowly, but that idea fled the second he saw her.
What had he been thinking? The lie he'd told himself was that he'd serve as her guardian and keep her safe on this mission. For the Black Lily, of course. And if they happened to fall into bed together, then so be it. Fool that he was. What he'd completely forgotten was the maddening pull this woman had on him. She drew out his fangs too quickly. If he was anything in life, it was calm and controlled. Especially when feeding. Therein lie danger.
A flicker of memory — dark hair, a foul room, too much blood, distant laughter.
No. He mustn't lose control. Never with her.
He had refused dinner but accepted the hot tea she'd offered. She ate quickly, hopping up repeatedly for a glass of water, a napkin, or to refill his tea. Finally, she settled down in a chair opposite him to read the letter.
While many vampires ate and drank human food as a pleasure rather than sustenance, Nikolai had long since given up the practice. He was a vampire of efficiency. But he could see in her wary gaze and hear in her fluttering heartrate that he made her nervous. So he sipped the tea to assuage her fears. The truth was, she had every reason to beware of him.
She flipped the letter over to read the back. A thin line along her smooth brow showed concern. Her milk-pale skin and slender throat called to him like a siren song. Moss-green eyes darted up from the parchment as she flipped to the second page. Firelight danced on the auburn waves she left loose about her shoulders.
Excerpted from The Red Lily by Juliette Cross. Copyright © 2017 Juliette Cross. 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
The Red Lily' by Juliette Cross is book Two in the "Vampire Blood" series. This is the story of Nikolai and Sienna. I have read the previous book (It was also great!!) but you can read this as a standalone if you choose to do so. But I do feel that you would enjoy this book more if you read the previous book. Nikolai and Sienna meet in that book and they both have parts in helping the previous main characters survive. Nikolai is back and in need of Sienna help with a mission for the Black Lilly cause. Sienna has helped the Black Lilly before and also is a close friend of the Black Lilly. So when Nikolai comes with a letter from her and asking to help him secure information she agrees. Sienna lives in the woods with her wolves and does not interact to much with people because of the label they have given her as a witch. So she does feel somewhat worried about leaving the area but does what she must to help save people from the evil crown. Nikolai has been attracted to Sienna from the first moment he seen her but feels that she is all things good...where he feels tainted. But this journey has open them both up to letting go of their doubts an start to accept what is to become. This is the second book I have read from Ms. Cross and I have feel in love with her writing! I am hooked on this series also. I just want more books from Ms. Cross ASAP! Vampire Blood series: Book 1: The Black Lily Book 2: The Red Lily "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
The Red Lily by Juliette Cross is the 2nd book in her Vampire Blood series. I loved the first book in this series, and I must say that this was equally as good or even better. Juliette Cross once again wows us with another fantastic story; which is no surprise, as she has wowed us in each and everyone one of her series. In The Red Lily, Sienna and Nikolai, are our heroes, whom we met in The Black Lily, and I could not wait for their story. In The Black Lily, the themed fairy tale background was Cinderella; in The Red Lilly it is Red Riding Hood and in the next book, The White Lilly, it will be Snow White. Sienna lives in the Silvane Forest, protected by hart wolves, whom she loves with all her heart. Many think of Sienna as the Red Witch, but she insists she is not a witch. When she knows she must leave her beloved enchanted forest to visit other towns to alert them of the terrible Queen Morgrid, who has her blood lust vampire army killing locals. Sienna must make the local folks leave and join Arrabelle (the Black Lily) & Prince Marius, who are training and building their own army to fight the Queen. To protect Sienna, Nikolai will arrive in the forest, and be her guide and protector during their journey. Both Nikolai and Sienna have been having their own sexual dreams since they met previously during the saving of Arrabelle. The chemistry between them was sizzling hot, and they were so awesome together. I loved them both. I also loved Dutchess and her hart wolves. When they embark on their journey, the danger will escalate leaving us holding our breath so many times, with Nikolai managing to save Sienna. But the worse is yet to come that will bring them both close to the end. We learn the depths that the evil Queen Morgrid will go to and her evil vampire army. Just when you think it’s hopeless, a tiny shiver of light will open the way for hope. Nikolai becomes the Big Bad Wolf as he unleashes his monster to find a way to save Sienna, and to destroy all those despicable enemies. Sienna will need to let out her unknown magic to help save them all. This was a heart stopping last half of the book, that kept you reading until you reached the end. The Red Lily was an emotional, heart wrenching, intense, exciting, suspenseful and action-packed thriller. The romance between Sienna and Nikolai was beautiful and Cross manages to make their scenes sexy & hot has hell, and at the same time keeping the sensational story in the forefront. As I have said before, if you have not read Juliette Cross, you are seriously missing a fantastic author. She always captivates us with great stories, wonderful couples, great secondary characters and a romance that is sizzling. You need to read this series, and start with The Black Lily
“Be true to who you are and who you are meant to be.” The Red Lily is the second installment in Juliette Cross, Vampire Blood series. I had goosebumps while reading and am in awe. The first book was a creative marvel and then comes The Red Lily. Sienna and Nikolai will having you falling in love all over again. I loved both Sienna and Nikolai. These two have thought of nothing but each other, though they don’t know it, not until they come together for the cause of The Black Lily. The chemistry is strong and they can’t fight their feelings for long even with danger around every turn. The Red Lily builds you up, pulls you in and then, hits you with heart stopping events. Just when you think you have your emotions under control and nothing more can surprise you, BAM the author hits you again. This book will not let you put it down. The love story is beautiful, the authors storytelling is skillful, the pictures described where vivid, and the emotions just come off the pages. I was taken on an action-packed, emotional journey, with some gut wrenching moments that had me in tears, along with some sweet and heartfelt moments, and several surprises along the way… Add it all up and you have a mind-blowing, unforgettable, and extraordinary romantic adventure. Don’t wait to pick up this amazing series. Book one was the retelling of Cinderella and this one was the retelling of Red Riding Hood. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Rated: 5 Stars *Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy provided by Entangled Publishing, LLC via NetGalley with the sole purpose of an honest review. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.
Remember a few years ago and that angst-ridden vampire who everyone fell in love with? Well forget him, because now there's Nikolai. “I was fearless when it was only my life at stake. Now I have so much more to lose.” Continuing the story from where The Black Lily left off, Juliette Cross takes her reader on a magical, heart-stopping and passionate rollercoaster ride as Nikolai and lady of the forest, Sienna begin their crusade to rally the locals in preparation for the stand against Queen Morgrid. "She was sheltered and protected within the wood. But if she ever dared to stray too far, danger and death would surely follow." From the moment I picked up the The Red Lily it consumed me, transporting me into Sienna and Nikolai's world. There's so much more to both their characters than you would imagine and, with them driving the storyline forward throughout, there is never a dull moment to be had: you experience every emotion they feel. "Never fall for a vampire, dear one. There can be no future with the cursed." There's no question of not falling for this vampire and I fell head-over-heels completely and unashamedly in love with Nikolai—if ever there were an example of the undead having a heart, he is it. And Sienna is the type of heroine who I develop a lady-crush over because whilst she may live alone in the depths of the forest with the wolves as her companions, she's no shy wallflower. "It would cut me too deep if anything should happen to you." This story unfolds beautifully and brings every element that makes for the perfect read, leaving you cheering Sienna and Nikolai on, fanning yourself at the electric chemistry zipping between them, cherishing the tender moments and holding your breath as the story travels an unexpected path. And whilst there's no cliffhanger, there's just enough left open to carry us into the next book which I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on. The Vampire Blood series is shaping up to be a real keeper.
The Red Lily (Vampire Blood, #2) by Juliette Cross I enjoyed reading The Red Lily. I didn't realize this was the second book in the series when I began reading it, but it didn't matter this book can be read as a standalone. This story is about a war being raised by an evil Queen, Queen Morgrid of The Glass Tower. A Vampire army in the making and a woman named Sienna dubbed The red Witch of the Wood. My favorite character is Lieutenant Nikolai, a very dashing Vampire. The story was exciting and the characters enjoyable. I would love to learn more about Arabelle and Prince Marius so I will have to go back and read book #1. The ending implies more, so I would also like to continue on to book #3. I give The Red Lily 4 stars for its interesting plot and enjoyable characters. I would recommend this book to fans of Paranormal Romance.
This is the 2nd book in the series & you really need to read the 1st one as this is very much a continuation of a pretty fabulous story. I was worried that the 2nd book would not be able to live up to the 1st which totally blew me away. This was just as good; a little less action though just as fast paced. Sienna & Nikolai’s story does focus more on romance rather than the action (50/50 in The Black Lily). Nikolai is a pure alpha hero (totally swoonworthy); & does have a rather brutal side when it comes to protecting Sienna. I liked Sienna’s character just as much – who can’t but love a character who has 4 wolves as guardians & friends. This story expands on the hart wolves & hopefully they will feature even more in successive books (I wonder how many there will be?!) plus more on magic compared to the 1st. The books does contain quite a bit of violence as well as several sex scenes I thought unnecessary in its detail and length. I don’t typically read vampire stories but this one is more a fantasy romance & I’d recommend it to anyone who likes that genre, heck to anyone who is looking for a great romance read. ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Did someone say, "The Big Bad Wolf?" Lordy, Nikolai had me the second he prowled onto the scene. I loved THE BLACK LILY, but Nik took that love and ratcheted it up about 1,000 degrees. All alpha and deliciously sexy, I found myself flipping the pages and ignoring reality until the very end. (Which came all too quickly.) And Sienna--she's the type of heroine I love to read. Strong, yet comfortable in her femininity. And while their overall journey, championing The Black Lilly's agenda, was rich and full of suspense, one of my favorite parts of the book was the slow unveiling of her history and how she came to live in the forest. (Extra double bonus points for the wolves. Fingers crossed they get a series of their own.) But the best part was the romance. One thing I can always count on from Juliette are smoldering interludes ripe with amazing chemistry and emotion, and THE RED LILY was no exception. Seriously, the ante in this series has been raised exponentially. So much so I'm practically begging for the next installment--THE WHITE LILY.
***5 ‘Show Me Life’ Stars*** I knew I’d be in for one h*ll of a ride when I started The Red Lily. I expected my heart to start racing with anticipation over what would happen next, but I didn’t expect to get all teary eyed...not once, but TWICE (which wasn’t cool since my makeup was all nice and pretty) but that’s what happened. Ms. Cross pulled out all the stops and then some with this book. It’s got it all: Hot, smexy alpha male vamps, evil batshit crazy vamps, strong willed women and a slew of secondary characters that you want to know more about even if you’ve only met them for a hot second (even the evil ones) and it’s all set in a world that is so vibrant that it’s easy to get lost in for a few hours and never want to leave. I loved Nikolai and Sienna. Nikolai is all kinds of smexy, charismatic alpha male who can be all kinds of beastly one second and yet unconsciously kind and compassionate the next. He may have turned ‘traitor’, but that was because his strong sense of honor wouldn’t allow him to do any less. Sienna is a strong and independant woman, which is proven by where she lives and the circumstances that got her there as well as her decision to join The Black Lily, but she also has a kind and compassionate heart. What I found amusing about Sienna was how unaware she could be about her effect on people and the little, or sometimes big things, that made her stand out. I loved how their journey to their HEA unfolded..well most of it. While the sexual tension between them was high, the angst was minimal. Both had their misgivings about being together, but it was more about how they perceived themselves and what they believed the future held for them, not how they viewed each other. They were fun, flirty and the mutual respect they had for the other made it easy to see that they could have a future together. While most of the drama going on was due to their mission, they had their bumps in the road. One had me giving the author the evil eye, but I loved how it all worked out in the end. I’m really enjoying how the whole working at overthrowing the evil crazy b*tch queen story arc is unfolding and the pacing of it all as well as getting glimpses of who may or may not be getting a book of their own in the future. Friedrich I already liked after meeting him in The Black Lily, but now I want to dig around in his head a little more. I loved the hart wolves and I hope we see more of them as the series progresses. But the two that stand out the most are Riker and Dane. I had a bit of a gut reaction to Riker and I’m happy what I thought didn’t happen, and Dane, well, you’ll have to meet him to find out. So, bring on the next book! ~ Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed ~
Lady Sienna’s grandmother had warned her against falling for a vampire, yet when Sienna had met Nikolai, she couldn’t help being attracted to him. She had first met him when her friend Arabelle – the Black Lily – had needed help, and now the renegade Royal Legionnaire will help her recruiting for the army needed to vanquish the evil Morgrid, queen of the vampires. Sienna has lived for five years in the Selvane Forest, the enchanted forest where no one dares venture, where the hart stone is rumoured to transform any creature. Wolves, who are Sienna’s allies, also inhabit the forest. Sienna is not supposed to stay out of the forest for long, but times have changed, but the irresistible vampire Nikolai will protect her, but will she be able to protect her heart? I was so excited that Nikolai’s story would be the second book in the Vampire Blood series, he is such a charismatic and enigmatic character, and he proved to be even better than I would have wished; what a magnificent character! Nikolai and Sienna, along with the rebels from the Black Lily must stop the scourge that is the blood madness, the sanguine furorem – what a great term! Ms. Cross’ writing is a beautiful as ever, and even more evocative if possible, and the characters just as enticing. However, it takes a long time for anything to happen, whether regarding the rebellion or for Sienna and Nikolai to succumb to their sizzling attraction. After a bit of sensual plodding – and I must admit I would have preferred more story and a tad less mooning - the story explodes and plot twist succeeds plot twist, and what an ending! Ms. Cross’s worldbuilding is fabulous, and there is so much more to look forward to, the mind boggles! “If rage had a name, it was Nikolai.” What a line, and what extraordinary prelude to amazing action sequences! And the sex scenes are brilliant, tender and so very sensual. The love story is heartwrenching, convincing, and well, Nikolai is just the hero I hoped he would be, and then some! And I will repeat myself, but the writing is simply dazzling! Bring on book three of this innovative series! I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.
“Be true to who you are and who you are meant to be.” The Red Lily is book two in the series, Tales of the Black Lily by Juliette Cross. Have you ever experienced that moment in time when you read the final word in a book and you just sit there, stunned, not knowing what to think or do after what you just read? Well, that happened! This book…if you thought you loved the first book in this series, just wait until this one, until you get to know Sienna and Nikolai, and fall in love all over again. Sienna lives in the Silvane Forest guarded by the hart wolves who are also her friends and companions. As much as she loves the solitude of the forest, ever since she met Arabelle and Marius, she is committed to the cause of The Black Lily. To do all she can to help to free the peasants from the oppression of Queen Morgrid. Her task is to travel to several cities to try to rally recruits to help in the fight. To do this she will need to leave her beloved forest. She will also need a guardian. Who better to volunteer for this position than Nicolai, the former Lieutenant for the queens army, now active fighter for the Black Lily alongside his friend, Prince Marius. The same Nicolai that has filled her dreams every night since she first laid eyes on him. Nikolai didn’t hesitate a moment to volunteer to escort the beautiful Sienna on her journey. He would allow no other to be so close to her. He has thought of nothing else since he first met her, the woman in the red cape with the fiery red hair. “Was it his infatuation with this woman that colored his senses, washing him with desire and electric power? Or was it the woman herself who lit him on fire?” “This woman was certainly a witch, for she beguiled him every step of the way.” The chemistry is so strong between these two. But Nikolai doesn’t feel he deserves such a pure and beautiful sole. He is a monster, a monster with a dark past that he keeps hidden. A dark secret that surely if Sienna knew, she would cower and run from him as she should. But even with that, they can’t fight their feelings for very long before they give in to the pull that binds them together. “Is this…feeling because you’ve tasted my blood?” “No, sweetheart. It is not. This is pure, burning desire.” Danger lurks as their journey progresses and evil finds them. Nikolai will do anything to keep Sienna, the woman he knows now that he loves, safe. He tries to convince her to abort the remainder of the trip but she is committed to seeing this through. There is more to Sienna than even she realizes. A spark of magic deep within her, a spark only she can unleash once she learns not to fear it. This is one of those books that build slowly, pulling you in deeper and deeper and then, WHAM, the author hits you with a heart stopping turn of events. Then, just when you think your heart rate has recovered, she hits you again! Believe me when I say that this book won’t let you out of it’s clutches until the very final page. The love story between Nikolai and Sienna is so beautiful. I couldn’t stop thinking about them throughout the time I was reading this book. But there is also so much more going on. We meet new characters, and find out so much more about the atrocities and motives behind the actions of the evil Queen Morgrid. There was one particular scene that was just devastating it was so horrible. Juliette Cross’s storytelling was truly masterful throughout this book.
Loved it! This is the sixth book that I have read by Juliette Cross, so I knew that The Red Lily would be another riveting, delicious and imaginative read that would have my heart pounding and my pulse racing. And I was right. Based very loosely on Little Red Riding Hood, it is set in a fantasy world where vampires rule and humans live in fear. Ms Cross is an extremely talented writer and knows how to bring her characters to life. Sienna and Nikolai were both appealing characters, and I became completely invested in their adventure. The plot was perfectly paced and the romance was suspenseful, hot and sweet. This is the second book in the Vampire Blood series though it can be read as a standalone. However, it is set in the same world as The Red Lily and some the secondary characters are also in the first book. So escape into the supernatural world of The Red Lily. It is an irresistible blend of steamy romance and adrenaline filled action that will pull you in and have you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.
I am breathless and utterly speechless. The remarkable author, Juliette Cross, has simply consumed me with so many feels and many varying emotions, while reading this incredible retelling of Red and the Big Bad Wolf. I really don't think what I'm about to write is really going to do this beautiful and visually stunning story justice. But, I will try my best. Can you imagine feasting your eyes on an Apple?! Now, this isn't just any Apple. In fact, it's deep and dark, ruby red skin reflects the moonlight while it hangs upon a lowly branch, deep in the heart of a forest. You're probably wondering what this Apple has to do with this story but please bare with me, I'm getting there. Now, back to the Apple. You reach up a delicately wrap your hand around this deliciously looking Apple and proceed to gently pick it off its branch and take a bite. You savour that first crunch and revel in the sweet nector, as you gloriously succumb to the feel of how light and crisp each bite is until you devour the whole thing. Salivating at every turn and sating the hunger you didn't think you had. Well, that my friends is how I felt reading this vividly rich and colourful second instalment of the Tales of the Black Lily. I know this imagery might seem a bit much, but trust me, this is the only way I know how to express the way I feel about The Red Lily. I couldn't get enough of this book. Every word I read, evoked such feeling in which took over my body in many ways. It really was an experience like no other, as I literally inhalled this story that forever has indented its soul on mine. Everything about The Red Lily is divine. From the imaginative and seductive world full of the supernatural and the well-developed characters who set fire to your soul, to the fantastical imagery and depth to the very thorough plot and storyline, this book will have you roaring with all your might and leaving you ravenous, wanting and needing. This, my dear fellow readers, is what you call storytelling at its best.
If you thought you loved the first book in this series, wait until you dive into The Red Lily! The Red Lily is the second fantastic installment in Juliette Cross’ Vampire Blood series. I’ve read this series out of order having started with the third book and am going back now to catch up before the series concludes with The Emerald Lily at the end of this month. I’m soooo glad I have as each book has been phenomenal making me hunger for more, more, more. Each of the books is a sensual paranormal fractured retelling of a popular fairy tale. The resulting new versions are no longer tales for children. The first book retold Cinderella. This book, The Red Lily, is the author’s parody of Little Red Riding Hood complete with wolves with the delicious addition of vampires! The third book recounted Snow White and the final book will feature a revised Sleeping Beauty. I would be remiss if I did not mention the covers, which drew me to the series in the first place. I could salivate on the covers alone. The Red Lily is the story of the beautiful woman of the mystical Silvane Forest, Lady Sienna, and Nikolai, Price Marius’ best friend who has joined him in fighting the evil that is the Varis’ monarchy. These characters were both first introduced in The Black Lily, but you do not need to have read it to fully enjoy this entry. As the tale opens, the forces of good vs evil are massing their armies. The Black Lily resistance needs a much larger force to stand a chance against the wicked Queen and her venomous minions. Arabelle, the leader of the Resistance and Sienna’s friend, has asked Sienna to travel village-to-village within Varis to rally for their cause. Sienna is determined to help the resistance any way she can no matter the cost to her own well being. The need to take down the cruel Vampire Queen Morgrid and her blood mad army once and for all is paramount. Nikolai has volunteered to accompany her as her guide and guardian in this perilous mission. Unknown to Nikolai, Sienna has been erotically dreaming of Nikolai every night. Nikolai holds close his own secrets regarding Sienna. He’s hard pressed to resist her charms and the scent of her sweet blood. Will he be her protector or will she need protection from him? Wow. Little Red Riding has grown up and the story has been reforged into a fiery hot tale of two individuals whose passions cannot be denied. Still my beating heart… Nikolai is a dark, brooding hero, alpha to the core, who knows what he wants and determined to prevail. He possesses a strong strength of will, but he cannot resist Sienna when she doesn’t hold back and lays her feelings bare. Seriously, the chemistry between these two is combustible. That said, I loved everything about this story: the steam, the heart-stopping action and their story! This series is are masterfully-written with vivid imagery. If you thought you loved the first book in this series, wait until you dive into The Red Lily! Nikolai’s and Sienna’s story is stunning. Just a warning, there’s a few scenes that are devastatingly horrible to envision. I gasped, sobbed and swooned. But, all is righted in the end… just keep turning the pages. If you are a fan of paranormal fantasies featuring exciting supernatural figures and quests, I’d highly recommend that you check out Juliette Cross’ Vampire Blood series. My full review is published at Reading Between the Wines Book Club. Please check it out there!
4.5 “I would totally wear a red cape for Nikolai” Stars If Nikolai is the Big Bad Wolf… It’s very hard not to follow that line with something that doesn’t sound downright filthy… but let’s just say, he can do whatever he wants with those big teeth he has. I became acquainted with Ms. Cross’ writing with the previous story in this series The Black Lily which totally blew me away, so I tried to calm my excitement when I got my hands on The Red Lily. I’m happy to say that it was as epic, just in a different way than I was expecting. We met both Nikolai and Sienna during the start of the revolution against the Vampire Crown. Now that the Queen’s crazy plan is no longer top-secret, the revolutionaries need as much support as they can get if they have any chance of winning against the Queen’s blood-lust-crazy vampires. For that, Nikolai being a vampire himself needs Sienna’s help to convince the oppressed humans to risk their lives for the cause. That’s how they set out on a journey across the land, going from town to town seeking supporters and new members for the movement. Among danger and intrigue, Nikolai and Sienna’s passion for each other grows too much to fight it… and things get really, really hot. Sienna was a fantastic leading lady. She was selfless, nurturing, passionate and caring. There are some rough things that happen to her during the journey, and I really wanted her to be more kickbutt… but she makes up for that later on with flying colors. Nikolai was a total alpha male with exceptional bossiness in the bedroom (sofa, table, wall-against, middle of the woods…you get my meaning) that totally worked for me. He had a tight control on his impulses, but luckily for all of us, Sienna made him lose it completely. Now let me tell you, this story didn’t go near anything I was anticipating. Some parts were hard to read, but everything works out in the end. You can rest assured, there’s a HEA. With lots of suspense and intrigue, more action than you’d know what to do with and generous amounts of the big bad fanged-hunk giving it to little red riding hood, The Red Lily surpassed all my expectations and was an incredible read I couldn’t put down. I can’t wait to see what comes next in this incredible take on fairy tales turned paranormal awesomeness. *I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book*
Loved this story, I felt like a voyeur on a really long sexy date. Sienna took a while to grow on me, but Nikolai just love. The story was written perfectly and as it progressed I found myself wanting more. Then bam, Mrs. Cross gave more and I read through the last 25% at breakneck speed. Now I'm left waiting for more until the next book.
Ms Cross does it again! I absolutely fell in love with these characters. Storyline takes up right where Black Lily left off. H/H were both strongly developed. Thank you Ms Cross for providing a strong female heroine and a wonderful reading experience. Look forward to more.
Juliette Cross’ THE RED LILY is an excellent follow-up to the first book in the Vampire Blood series, THE BLACK LILY. Lieutenant Nikolai is now a known traitor to the vampire crown, supporting the Black Lily. He sets out on a dangerous task with the red-hooded Sienna to gain followers for the cause. This fairy tale PNR is suitable for adult audiences. I love how this series is a different take on traditional fairy tales. The plot is clever and exciting. Arabelle and Prince Marius are building an army to fight against the vampire monarchy. Sienna leaves her beloved wolves and woods behind her as she helps Nikolai recruit supporters. There is romance, danger, conspiracy, and adventure at every turn. I love the wolves and their part in the story. We learn the history behind the wolves and vampires. The characters are well-developed and complex. I like Sienna. We discover some interesting things about her and her past. Nikolai is brave, honorable, and just. They both grow throughout the story. They have fantastic chemistry. THE RED LILY was skillfully-written. The novel was thrilling from beginning to end. I like how the story ended, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
4.75 stars-- THE RED LILY is the second installment in Juliette Cross’s adult VAMPIRE BLOOD paranormal/fantasy series (formerly known as The Tales of the Black Lily series). This is vampire and former lieutenant Nikolai, and Woman of the Wood Sienna. Sienna and Nikolai were first introduced in book one The Black Lily. Nikolai is Prince Marius’s best friend, and Sienna is the mysterious woman Arabelle befriended in the woods Told from dual third person perspectives (Sienna and Nikolai) THE RED LILY continues the search for supporters of The Black Lily. The Black Lily is an underground movement that is attempting to take down the royal vampire family, and their army of Legionnaires who are obliterating village after village in a frenzied blood madness known as the sanguine furorem. A one-time member of the royal Legionnaires, Nikolai now sides with the Black Lily resistance, and is the current guardian of the Woman of the Wood. When a missive comes from the Black Lily herself, Sienna and Nikolai set off on a cross country trek to gather an army to fight against evil Queen Morgrid of the vampires, and her royal Legionnaires. THE RED LILY takes the tale of Little Red Riding Hood to the next level-a fantasy of myth, magic, vampires and love. Not only has Sienna befriended a pack of magical hart-wolves in the Silvane Forest but our heroine has been imbued with magical powers of her own. Nikolai is the Big Bad Wolf who has fallen for the red-haired beauty and it is his love that will guide the couple on their journey towards a happily ever after. THE RED LILY focuses on the trials and tribulations of amassing a system of support in the face of encroaching war. Queen Morgrid’s blood infused Legionnaires have outnumbered and overpowered every form of resistance, and the Black Lily supporters have yet to gain enough power or numbers to be of any threat against the vampire army. Juliette Cross’s THE RED LILY is a story of romance and love; magic and evil; power and the supernatural world of the vampire lore. The premise is intriguing, imaginative and enchanting; the romance is spirited, emotional and intense; the characters are passionate and inspiring. THE RED LILY is an energetic tale with a vibrant cast of characters who will captivate your imagination when the fairy tale from your childhood takes on an aura of romance and breathless imagination.