Night's Honor (Elder Races #7)
Penguin / September 2, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital
From the author of Kinked and Oracle's Moon...In the USA Today bestselling author's latest Novel of the Elder Races, a woman finds herself in need of protection—and seduced by honor
On the run from her former employer, Tess knows that she’s vulnerable on her own amongst the Elder Races. That’s why she decides to audition to become the human attendant of a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind demesne. But while her position affords her the safety she seeks, her protector turns out to be more than she bargained for.
The right-hand man of the Nightkind King, Xavier del Torro is both terrifying and alluring. While his true nature frightens Tess, she can’t ignore the appeal of his innate sense of integrity and self-restraint. Thrown into Xavier’s world, Tess must quickly learn to navigate the dangers—both to her life and to her heart. But the biggest threat comes from her own past .
In this latest Elder Races story, Thea Harrison gives us our first close look at the Nightkind. At the annual New Year’s Eve Vampyre Ball, candidates wishing to become attendants in a vampyre household can get in line and make an appeal for a patron. If accepted, they provide whatever services their vampyre master needs, along with a blood donation of course. In exchange, the vampyre’s bite will give the humans a longer life and a faster healing ability. Since vampyre transformations are meticulously regulated, most human attendants hope that their services will put them on the fast track to becoming a vampyre.
With effort she tried to rein in her careening emotions, while more truth spilled out of her mouth. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I’m so angry.” She tried to smile but her facial muscles felt so stiff, she gave it up almost immediately. “Believe me, I’m quite aware that this is an odd and counterproductive way to start an interview.”
“You’re frightened,” he said. “For some people, fear quite naturally turns into anger.”
His voice gentled, and that might have been the most shocking thing that had happened all evening. Embarrassment burned in her cheeks. Nothing was going like she imagined it might. She thought about denying that he had said, but of course that would be stupid. He could hear her accelerated heartbeat and no doubt smell her fear. Sitting here fully clothed, she still felt as naked as if she had stripped just as Haley had.
“I’m curious.” Del Torro cocked his head, his all too discerning gaze dissecting her. “Why are you here tonight, when it clearly distresses you so? You do not carry the scent of illness, nor do you appear to have any interest in Vampyre kink. What do you hope to gain from an attendant-patron liaison?”
She hadn’t expected him to be so blunt, and her cheeks burned hotter.
“I need a job. The Ball was this weekend, so I got in line along with all the others candidates.” She paused. Technically, all of that was true.
No, Tess Graham isn’t at the Ball looking for eternal youth or beauty. In fact, she knows that unlike most of the other candidates looking for the attention of a vampyre patron, she isn’t glamorous or beautiful. Tess is hoping there is something she can get from becoming a vampyre’s attendant. She is looking for protection. Tess has made a powerful preternatural enemy, and she is hoping that getting revenge on a lowly human like herself wouldn’t be worth an inter-demesne war with a vampire protector.
Tess is surprised and a little more than concerned to have caught the attention of Xavier del Torro, who is the right-hand man of the Nightkind King, Julian Regillus. From everything Tess has heard, Xavier is a very powerful and dangerous vampyre in his own right and not someone she would want to disappoint.
As she grew closer, he could hear the sound of her heart pounding, and taste the scent of her fear.
Abruptly his disquiet turned to disappointment and anger. He snapped, “Have I gave you any reason to believe you are in danger from me? Have I not done the exact opposite, and tried my very best to make you feel at ease here, in my own home?”
The look in her large, dark eyes turned wry. She didn’t hesitate but approached him at the same, steady pace as she had entered the room, even though her heart rate sped up even further.
When she reached the empty armchair, she sat and folded her hands together in a deliberate mimicry of his position. “What does reason have to do with fear?”
That drew him up short. He stared at her, eyes narrowed, while a muscle bunched in his jaw.
Tess can’t imagine what she can offer as an attendant to someone like Xavier. But Xavier is creating his own covert spy ring to keep an eye on some of Julian’s more dangerous enemies and Tess’s intelligence and quick thinking, matched with her average looks, will be of great use to him. She will be able to infiltrate wherever he sends her and will go almost unnoticed among the more flashy and flamboyant attendants. They only have one major hurdle to overcome: Tess’s innate fear of vampyres.
“And I’m sorry that circumstances have forced you into being here, when you are clearly so uncomfortable. I will be blunt with you—you are of no use to me if you are forced into doing something you cannot come to terms with. We will not be able to maintain a liaison if you cannot banish your fear, or at the very least control it.”
It is certainly inconvenient to say the least, but Xavier has no use for an operative who cannot act naturally around vampyes. Tess’s unremarkable looks might not catch anyone’s attention, but the reek of fear won’t go unnoticed. Tess needs Xavier’s protection but there are many predators who would enjoy her fear too much for her own safety. She may end up trading one dangerous enemy for a hungrier one.
Learn more or order a copy of Night's Honor by Thea Harrison, out September 2, 2014:
Lucy Dosch writes book reviews for her blog http://ebookobsessed.com. Her e-reader has turned her love of reading into an obsession. When she is not reading, she likes to spend time with her husband and two daughters.