Order of the Blade, #9
by Stephanie Rowe
A fatal mistake stripped Zach Roderick of the powers that define him, leaving him a tormented shadow of the warrior he once was. Now, his teammate's life depends on Zach resurrecting the fire that once burned within him. As he undertakes a battle he has no way to win, he is derailed by a tempestuous beauty that awakens in him the dark desires that destroyed him once before.
The scars etched on Rhiannon Diaz's soul are so deep that she will never again be free. The once-powerful guardian is facing her last and greatest battle, and failure means a return to a sexual enslavement that is far worse than death. Her intense and passionate need for the powerful warrior who has vowed to protect her threatens the very foundation of her survival, but his refusal to abandon her drags them both into a world where wild, untamed passion rages, and surrender is their only chance.
All books in the Order of the Blade series are intended to be standalones that can be read in any order. The chronological reading order, however, is as follows: DARKNESS AWAKENED, DARKNESS SEDUCED, DARKNESS SURRENDERED, FOREVER IN DARKNESS, DARKNESS REBORN, DARKNESS ARISEN, DARKNESS UNLEASHED, INFERNO OF DARKNESS, DARKNESS POSSESSED
Four-time RITA® Award nominee and Golden Heart® Award winner Stephanie Rowe is the nationally bestselling author of more than forty published novels. Stephanie has received starred reviews from Booklist and high praise from Publisher's Weekly. Stephanie is the author of the bestselling Order of the Blade paranormal romance series, and she will be launching a new vampire series in Sept/Oct 2014. She also writes the intensely passionate Ever After series, and the gripping Alaska Heat romantic suspense series. She also published in teen fiction, middle grade fiction, and motivational nonfiction.
Excerpt:In an incredible miracle that required the alignment of all the stars in the universe, I am thrilled to announce that I have managed to wrangle together the main players in Darkness Possessed . I'm joined byCalydon Warrior Zach Roderick, his teammate Thano Savakis, and Rhiannon Diaz for a brief interview. It wasn't easy to track them down in the South American jungle, but I managed to catch up with them for a brief moment. "Welcome everyone. Thanks for coming. Let's start with Zach. Zach? What's up with the outfit? Where are your jeans? The Order of the Blade is all about the denim, but you've gone outside the box. "
Zach is wearing black and gray camo pants, a microfiber black shirt, a gray baseball hat, and a pair of lightweight waterproof hiking books. Sweat is gleaming on the back of his neck, and fresh dirt streaks his arms. Strapped to his hip is a machete that is almost as big as Ryland's. His body is relaxed, but it's easy to see his restlessness. He doesn't want to be standing still, talking. He wants to be moving, protecting, guarding. "It's hot down here in the jungle. Jeans limit my movement. It's not that easy to keep up with the natives, you know. I adapt."
Rhiannon grins, a red amulet glistening around her throat. She's wearing camouflage pants similar to Zach's, set low on her hips. Her tank top is black and fitted, showcasing muscles that she didn't use to have. "He's just a big, slow oaf compared to me." She flashes a ruby-hilted dagger with a dangerous blade. "He's lucky I let him stay."
Thano leans back, his arms clasped behind his head as he uses his massive black stallion for backrest. Apollo is lying down, his head over Thano's shoulder. As always, Apollo's brown eyes are constantly moving, always searching for threats to his master. "Don't listen to them," Thano injects. "They're perfect for each other." He leans forward. "They're different, you know. Not like the other Order of the Blade couples. It's better, what they have. Takes grit and hell to get where they are, but it's good shit."
Zach looks over at him and slams his hand on Thano's shoulder. Something passes between the two men, something private that seems loaded with danger and secrets. In that moment, it's easy to see why they are Order of the Blade. Both men are lethal predators, rippling with muscle and a deeper, darker strength that very few possess. What they have been through together has created a tighter bond between them, a bond shared only by those who have been to hell and back together, barely surviving.
Rhiannon turns suddenly, her hand going to the dagger on her hip. Zach spins around at the same moment, moving to stand beside her as they face the jungle toward the east. Their shoulders are touching, a silent camaraderie while they scan the thick foliage. "Do you hear it?" Rhiannon asks.
Zach nods, moving closer to her. The shift in position is subtle, but there's no doubt that he's putting himself in a position to protect her. His need to safeguard her is instinctive, and it says much about the strength of what lies between them. A warrior woman like Rhiannon would not let many men that close to her. "Yeah. What is it?"
She tilts her head, listening. I do the same, but all I hear is the rustling of the jungle, the scrape of small claws on tree trunks, and the melody of birds. That's not what they're listening to, I am sure of it.
She looks at him, and they both nod. "We have to go." Zach says, while Rhiannon takes off in a dead sprint into the jungle. Zach slaps Thano on the shoulder. "Later." Then he, too, is gone, sliding into the darkness of the jungle like a wraith as it swallows them up.
Thano grabs Apollo's mane and swings himself aboard. The sleek, black stallion surges to his feet, his hooves planted in the damp earth. Thano is wearing jeans and hiking boots as he always does, but there is something different about him. A darkness hovering around him, haunting him. He gives me a small salute. "You know where I need to go," he says.
I nod. I do know where he needs to go. "Good luck."
He winks at me. "A real man makes his own luck, and I'm much more of a real man than those old dudes I hang around with, so I'm good." He swings Apollo around, in the opposite direction of Zach and Rhiannon and the horse leaps forward. For a moment, Apollo and his rider are silhouetted against the setting sun as they gallop away, and then they, too,vanish into a world of secrets, darkness, and danger, as is the life of a Calydon.
(please be patient it takes the rafflecopter a minute to load)