Jun 6 2017 12:00pm

Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry & J.A. Rock Excerpt: Sight Unseen

Emma Barry, Meredith Duran, J.A. Rock, Erin Satie and Sherry Thomas

Sight Unseen: A Collection of Five Anonymous Novellas, Volume I by Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry, J.A. Rock

What stories would you tell if you could? Where would your mind take you, if you let it? Five of the top voices in romance dare you to explore the most distant corners of their imaginations as they test the limits of storytelling and break the boundaries of what even they thought possible, teasing and tormenting you shamelessly as they go.

But there’s a twist—the author of each story is a secret at the time of release. They’re each plumbing the depths of the human heart and mind in ways they’ve never attempted before. Taking you high, bringing you low, until you will be hardpressed to guess who wrote what. Can you tell? Want us to?

Too bad our lips are sealed . . . for now.

Get a sneak peek at Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry, J.A. Rock's Sight Unseen (available June 6, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Favorite excerpts from the anonymous authors of each story:

Lost that Feeling

Magic only worked on the living—and, in a limited fashion, the remains of the living—and it depended on two things. The word and the wish.

First the caster put her desires into words. The target of the spell had to hear those words. What they heard—more precisely: what they understood—determined how the spell would manifest.

You know how it goes, Gadi used to say. We hear what we want to hear. And with magic, that mattered. It mattered a lot.

Cast a spell to levitate and the target might find her mood lifted with her body. The problems compounded from there. How to reverse the euphoria? Cast another spell to make the target sad? Even-tempered? Reasonable? Each additional spell further distanced the target from her original self, her original personality.

Everyone knew the story of Shirin the Tyrant. She’d started out as a spy for Tenem. One day, tasked with a dangerous mission, she’d asked a magician to make her invisible. All had gone as planned and her mission had been a success. But the spell to make her visible again had touched something inside of her. The desire to be seen had blurred into a desire for attention. She’d developed a charisma so intense that anyone who came near her was overwhelmed by a powerful urge to please her. Shirin had reveled in her new power and used it to assume control of the country for nearly two decades.

Alma had always followed Gadi’s rule. She’d learned from those examples. And yet, a year ago, she’d cast on herself. She had apparently intended to erase her memories. But some part of her—some deep, hidden part—had seized the opportunity. Some part of her had wanted to go back in time. To erase herself, to undo what she’d made, to start over.

Some part of herself, hidden but powerful, had been full of regret.


A Clear View of You

The crystal ball fell off the pedestal and started steamrolling for the edge of the table.

With a gasp, Kate lunged—missed—

The new client shot out a hand, then brought up the globe balanced on the tips of his fingers. “Nice ball,” he murmured, and rotated his wrist, examining it.

She’d never seen anyone move so fast. “Right.” She took it from him with two suddenly sweaty palms. “Let me just . . . tuck it away.”

She sensed the client’s eyes on her as she reunited crystal ball with pedestal. Turning back, she shot him a nervous smile. GQ jaw, coverboy lips, night-dark eyes, and cheekbones of Himalayan precision … If this guy wasn’t an actor, he was wasting his talent. The room was dark by design, but the man’s hair and skin seemed to glow like he was sitting in a spotlight.

“You don’t use a scrying glass?” he asked.

Scrying glass? Kate felt her nerves abruptly subside. He was for real, then—a bona fide New Ager. With a sigh that sounded a little too disappointed to be polite, she retook her seat. “I’m the old-fashioned sort. No bells, no whistles; just a straight-up reading.” The only time she’d tried to use the crystal ball, she’d gotten distracted poking at a zit she’d seen in her reflection.

She took a moment to regain her composure by smoothing out the velvet tablecloth. When she looked up, he was still staring. It was pretty normal to get awed looks from believers, but his regard held a measuring quality that made her want to consult the mirror for mascara smudges. Maybe he disapproved of her MO. “I do like to look at the client’s palm,” she offered. “I find that touch aids the connection.”

He smiled like she’d said something dirty. “Indeed it does.”



I fiddled with my keys. The lock was a piece of shit. The casing was flecking off and the metal underneath was rusting. One good kick and the entire door would cave in, except no one in Fallow, Montana, was going to kick this particular door.

The lock shouldn’t have bugged me except for the stupid little pieces of fake brass on the carpet. Oh, and I couldn’t get my keys out of it.

“Need some help?” Brad’s smile was in his voice.

“Darlin’, I haven’t needed help since I was twelve.”

I did that around him—dropped the g’s off my words—because he’d wince, and it was funny. I also pronounced creek crik, picture pitcher, and sometimes even threw in the occasional ain’t. It made him twitchy. Brad never had fit in in Fallow.

That didn’t stop him from being a smart-ass. “Yeah, you’re right. You have the situation firmly in hand.”

“Thanks for noticing.” I tried my keys again, this time tugging as hard as I could. Nothing. They didn’t move a millimeter. “It’s not me,” I whined. “This lock is crap.”

“You need to twerk it a bit.”

You need to twerk a bit.”

“Frankly I don’t have the ass for it.”

He didn’t. The guy was rangy. Not short, just wiry. I could see all the bones in his wrist. The skin seemed to pull too hard over the round bump at the bottom of his hand. Sometimes I wanted to run my teeth over it to see how taut it was. It wasn’t a sexual thing; I only wanted to gnaw on him.


“Well, I don’t know,” I said slowly. “How about you demonstrate for me and I can give you some pointers?”


His eyes moved from the lock—my key was never coming out of it—to me. First to my hips, then up my middle before landing on my breasts. And landing was the right word, because I felt his gaze.


Men looked at me. They did. I didn’t understand why. I was totally ordinary looking. I’d always suspected my mother must have been able to sense my ordinariness and that’s why she’d named me Wren, except she’d died of breast cancer when I was twelve, and I hadn’t thought to ask her before then. Nothing was more usual than a wren. Little, brown, abundant: that was me.



Chariot of Desire

Charlene sat back a little, the corners of her mouth quirking up. “Ms. Crespo, I think our viewers are very curious about your relationship with Donny Times. He was such an iconic figure through most of the seventies. And even now, he remains close to our hearts.”

Even now. Slamming back every shot of bullshit this cult pours him.

“He’s a good friend,” CJ said, her throat growing dry. “I admire him tremendously.”

“You’ve been with Donjon since the start. Ten years, is that right?”

“Yeah.” Twenty-three-year-old surly punk, smoking on a couch someone had left by a dumpster in back of McNeil’s. Inside the bar, on a bare plywood stage, a man who shouldn’t have been even remotely charismatic. Who looked like the sweaty, brooding lovechild of a porn director and a poodle, but who was so fucking talented he could make blue eyeliner and maudlin Minnie Riperton covers work for him. His band was called Don Johnson and the Storm Boys. Dumbass name. His guitarist was fine, but his drummer was terrible. CJ had gone outside to escape that assault on the very concept of rhythm. Had brought her beer with her and was balancing it on the sofa cushion beside her.

Don Johnson came out eventually, wiping his forehead on his balled up T-shirt. She’d learn later that he loved being shirtless the way some people loved being outdoors. That he was oddly proud of his pale, skinny chest with its black curls.

They’d hey-ed each other, and she’d wordlessly offered him a cigarette. He’d smoked against the alley wall for a moment, then she moved her beer so he could sit on the couch. She remembered being fascinated by the smell of his overworked body mixing with the autumn air. Remembered how starkly terrified she’d been of the desire that had ripped through her when he’d sat down—because she’d been warned about lust, and years of rebellious dreaming were no match for her very significant, very Catholic fear of hell. 

For those first five minutes he sat beside her, she didn’t speak. She kept her legs pressed tightly together, like she was in danger of imminent violation from the very idea of fucking him. But inside, she was pure rock and roll. She sweated and she screamed, and she deafened herself with her own rhythm.


The Heart is a Universe

“Your bedroom has more furniture than mine,” she said.

“I am a major god.”

She laughed. For a moment, she was only a splendid young woman, in a playfully elegant dress, on the cusp of seduction.

“O god divine, joyous be thy name, grant me thy glorious wisdom, lend me thy eternal hope, rain down upon me thy rapturous blessings,” she recited, the most ancient and succinct prayer to Metaran. “And permit me access to thy untouched body.”

“That is blasphemy.”

She chortled, sat down at the edge of the bed, and beckoned him with a finger. He took one last look at his lifesaving equipment and went to her.

To his surprise, as he sat down, he draped an arm over her shoulders. With his other hand he took hers. “O goddess sublime, invincible be thy name, give me thy abiding courage, will me thy shining rectitude, lift me with thy unassailable faith,” he murmured, the prayer to Mikelan. Then he looked sideways at her. “In reverence I offer myself to thee, o goddess great and exalted.”

Her jaw dropped. “Now that is true blasphemy, to address your prayer to a mere mortal.”

“He touched his lips to the corner of her mouth. Her skin was heart-poundingly soft. Suddenly he wanted to devour her, this woman who was resolutely no saint, but a goddess indeed.

“You’re very beautiful,” she whispered, touching a hand to his cheek. “Like an idea, almost. Not quite real.”


Copyright © 2017 by Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry, J.A. Rock.
Learn more about or order a copy of Sight Unseen by Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran, Erin Satie, Emma Barry, J.A. Rock, available June 6, 2017:

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Emma Barry is a novelist, full-time mama, and recovering academic. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves hugs from her twins, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, her dog’s tail, and Earl Grey tea. You can find her on the web at www.authoremmabarry.com.

Meredith Duran is the author of eleven novels, all published by Pocket Books. Her debut, The Duke of Shadows, has been translated into thirteen languages and together with her sophomore book, Bound by Your Touch, was ranked among the top 100 romances of all time in the 2010 All About Romance poll. Her other books include RITA award winner Fool Me Twice; Wicked Becomes You, which was included on Woman's World list of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010; and her February 2017 release, A Lady's Code of Misconduct, which both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly called “flawlessly executed” in their starred reviews.

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. J.A. has received Lambda Literary and INDIEFAB Award nominations for Minotaur, and The Subs Club received the 2016 National Leather Association-International Pauline Reage Novel Award. J.A. lives in Chicago with an extremely judgmental dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.

Erin Satie is the author of the dark and elegant No Better Angels series, historical romances set in the early Victorian period. She’s currently hard at work on her upcoming series, Sweetness & Light, which should be just as elegant but not quite so dark.

Sherry Thomas loves intricate plots, explosive action, and combustible love stories. She has written romance, fantasy, mystery, and a wuxia-inspired duology. Her books regularly receive starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications, including such outlets as the New York Times and National Public Radio. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

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