by Tam DeRudder Jackson
Publication date: June 28th 2022
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Baz Cormac never intended to be a rogue, but fate had other ideas.
Being forced to pledge loyalty to the evil Morrigan is its own kind of hell. So when Baz discovers the lie she’s used to keep him and his band of rogues under her power, he concocts a plan to force the goddess’s hand, which drops him in the center of a cosmic tug-o-war. No matter which way he leans, someone is going to lose—and it looks like that someone may be Baz.
A talisman fights her fate…and her fatal attraction.
Delaney Ferrell has spent her life trying to live down her uncle’s choice to turn rogue. As a warrior-talisman hybrid, she’d done her best to serve the warrior community as a protector. But a cryptic letter sends her to an abandoned home where she encounters a lone rogue with fighting skills no rogue should possess. Instead of killing her, he kidnaps her and takes her to his lair. He presents a terrible danger to the community, one she must neutralize.
So why does he have to be so damn charming?
Discovering Delaney is his fated mate throws all of Baz’s plans into chaos. And when the goddesses come calling, Baz has to choose between a rogue’s freedom and a talisman’s love.
Will they have a chance at love, or will they be torn apart?
The low rumble of a pickup pulling into the house next door brought Baz out of the barn to investigate. He’d managed to convince Rory and Jaime to take a little vacation to Vegas, hit a couple of strip clubs and casinos he knew rogues liked to frequent, and see about adding some new recruits to their little band. They could consider their trip a working vacation.
In the month they’d been away, he’d put his construction skills to work with his supernatural speed and stamina. With the exception of leveling the gravel on the floor of the barn, he’d finished his project in record time. Or perhaps in the nick of time if someone was looking to move in next door. He’d kept a close eye on Ian McCloud’s place, but until today, he hadn’t seen any activity there. Not a family member, not a realtor, not a curious someone looking to take advantage of an empty house.
He made several forays over to McCloud’s in the dead of night, looking to see what it was about the man that had the goddess’s interest. As a fighter, Ian McCloud was unremarkable from other warriors Baz had met on the battlefield. He knew the man was a widower with a small child, and that wasn’t all that attention-grabbing either. So why had the goddess keyed on him? Nothing Baz found in or around McCloud’s house had given him a clue.
The truck’s engine revved once before the driver shut it off. Simultaneously with the slamming of the truck’s door, the hair all over his body stood at attention, like a shock of static electricity zinged over him. Whoever was visiting McCloud’s house on this soft twilight evening was a member of the warrior community. Baz summoned his claymore to his hand and soundlessly made his way around the back of the neighboring property to investigate.
Whoever was visiting knew the place well. A beauty of a three-quarter-ton crew-cab pickup with a gleaming forest green paint job was parked on the tarmac in front of the double door of the garage behind the house. Through the glass of the outer back door, he could see the heavy oak inner door was wide open. The visitor was someone who wasn’t worried about being caught inside.
He debated cornering the warrior inside the house, but decided to wait from his place of concealment in the trees bordering the backyard. Though he’d been inside the house himself on more than one occasion, chances were whoever was there knew the place better than he did. Safer to wait and see who and what the person was and determine the level of threat. That the visitor was a threat he had no doubt. The hairs on his forearms and the back of his neck had remained standing ever since he’d heard the man cut the engine to his truck.
The truck was a beauty. His eyes strayed to the back door, and he wondered how much time he had to check it out. Taking a chance, he sheathed his sword in its scabbard on his back and vaulted through time and space to land on the driver’s side. He ran his hand along the paint of the fender and appreciated the tread on the tires. Though the truck was immaculately clean, whoever owned it used it to work—or play. He squatted low and checked out the suspension, confirming his suspicions that the truck was someone’s toy.
A quick glance inside the cab had him doing a double-take. He chuckled to himself. As close as the driver’s seat was pulled to the steering wheel, it was obvious the warrior who owned this rig was trying to make up for something he lacked. Baz adjusted his own package, and grinned. At six feet three with a wingspan to match, he could easily outmaneuver a warrior who had some distance to make up to reach six feet.
A sound near the back door sobered him up quick. He scanned the area for cover, sighting no bushes or flower beds or other hiding places near the house. Before he could visualize himself back to his hiding place at the back of the yard, a woman stepped through the door and pushed a key into the lock. With a flick of her wrist, she tested the handle and nodded. And stilled.
Time moved in slow motion as Baz catalogued the woman’s features. Long waves of chestnut-colored hair flowed over her shoulders to the middle of her back. Her orange T-shirt showed off toned shoulders and arms and a nipped-in waist where it was tucked into her jeans. Her jeans covered the sweetest ass he’d ever seen, rounded and perfect. Athletic. His hands itched to touch her. The dark navy wash of her jeans made her legs appear endless, and he wondered how they would feel wrapped around him. Before he could appreciate more of her, he caught the flash of a claymore as she summoned it to her hand the second before she faced him.
“Who are you, and what are you doing here?”
He’d expected a scream. Instead, the woman’s soft alto washed over him, momentarily disarming him. That and the intensity of dark chocolate eyes in a perfect heart-shaped face. The last of the sun’s rays slanted off her sword, bringing him back to himself. This gorgeous woman was a warrior, a serious threat.
“I could ask you the same question.”
Tam DeRudder Jackson is the author of the paranormal romance Talisman Series and the contemporary romance Balefire Series. Her favorite “room” in her house is her back patio where she dreams up stories of romance and risk. When she’s not writing her latest paranormal or contemporary romance, you can usually find her driving around with the top down in her convertible or carving turns on the slopes of the local ski hill. The mom of two grown sons, Tam likes to travel, attend rock concerts, watch football and soccer, and visit old car shows with her husband. She lives in the mountains of northwest Wyoming where she spends most of her free time trying to read all the books. Her TBR piles are threatening to take over her office, and she’s fine with that.
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