Sorella Corvino lost her brother to The Cursed years ago. Sorella is so determined to find him, she'll make any deal, rescue the outcasts and those like him, and risk flying into any port to rescue him. When her latest pirate efforts partner her with a bounty hunter who's too charming, sexy, and handsome for his own good, she knows she's in trouble.
Ian Marshall no longer believes in fairy tales…
Disowned and a marked criminal in the United States, this merchant turned bounty hunter, is one bounty away from freedom; and freedom's price is handing over one person to the most cutthroat gang in the world, The Cursed. Yet, he can't get to them without Sorella's help. Too bad she's gorgeous, aggravating, and a little trigger happy.
As the attraction mounts, the danger grows and the pair find themselves invading a skin trader den, the ballrooms of dictator-ruled Germany, and fighting battles in the sky in the hopes of getting everything they want. Only thing they didn't plan on... falling in love.
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Excerpt Option 1: “I already paid off the police, at least for the moment. Until your cousin offers them more.” The words rolled off her tongue matter-of-factly as if this sort of situation occurred every day. His pants tightened at her words. A woman who feared nothing, who didn’t believe in danger.
“Very generous of you.”
“Hmm?” She stopped playing with her balisong knife and looked at him.
He came toward her, arms open, expecting her to move away from the door and put distance between them. She didn’t. “You protected me at your own expense.”
“I thought you might take my generosity as replacement for me losing the bet.”
Less than six inches separated their bodies. The pulse point at her neck fluttered, her breath shallow. Her knife stilled in her hand, closed, but ready to deploy. She waited for him to make a move.
The distinct possibility existed he’d be dead in the next minute, but her lips were deep red, like cherries he’d eaten in late summer. To leave them untouched would be a crime. “You thought wrong.”
He leaned in. She gasped, and then he kissed her.
She’d been kissed before, but it had merely been her parents’ chaste touches to her cheeks or forehead, and, once, her fiancé had brushed her lips with his. Otherwise, she had remained untouched until now. As he touched the tip of his tongue to her closed mouth, a sinful sensation swamped her body. Gooseflesh broke out underneath her clothes, and little hairs stood up on the back of her neck.
Sorella grabbed the lapels of his coat and opened her mouth. Something carnal took over, an instinct to engage his tongue in some primitive dance. If this was considered uncivilized, she’d gladly abandon society and all its norms.
As fast as the moment began, it ended, and Ian pulled back a few inches. “You taste amazing.”
He did, too; like peppermint, and…. “You taste familiar.” Not as if she’d tasted him before, but somehow the aromatic tang of his mouth and the scent of his breath on an exhale resonated within her. She’d bottle it if she knew how. “Kiss me again.”
“As my captain commands.”
Excerpt Option 2: “Merci, mon petites.” The albino’s voice sounded like gravel in the cylinder-shaped microphone. “I’ll be breaking for a short time. Youse keep yourselves amused and stay out of trouble.”
“Remember…let me do most of the talking,” Ian said as soon as the crooner stood and started making his way to the edge of the stage.
The captain merely nodded, taking in the other members of the band, who didn’t leave their spots on the stage.
Instead, they started playing again, a perky jazz tune with a good measure of saxophone. A few of the couples positioned around the room came out to the dancing square positioned in the middle of the room and began swaying or grinding to the beat. Ian kept his expression neutral although his gut churned at the visual.
Their host grunted as he pulled back a chair, and, as a guest, Ian stood as manners dictated. The captain didn’t.
“Standing on ceremony as if you were still a gentleman?” Janken chuckled.
Ian sat and smiled. “Mama’s rules ne’er do disappear.”
“Mine did, thank God.” The albino tapped his long fingernails on the table top in perfect rhythm with the beat from the stage. “Who’s your friend? She smells like a garden.”
“Captain Castoa of the Liberté.” She’d cut him off and extended a hand in peace.
For a blind man, Janken saw remarkable things, and he grabbed her, leaning forward over the small table. He flipped her palm between both of his and sniffed at her wrist. Without rebuke, she submitted to his eccentricities while Ian experienced a sudden desire to throw the skin trader from his seat and put the captain’s fancy knife through him.
“Divine. Absolutely delicious.” Then he let her go. “Such a pretty scent for a woman around filth and dirt all the time.”
They all fell silent. Ian couldn’t find his words at the moment, a red haze of jealousy winding its course through him. Being jealous of a blind man seemed a bit ridiculous, but at the same time he wanted permission to touch her, to smell her—liberties denied him that Janken had taken without even bothering to ask..
Luckily, he didn’t have to produce the next piece of conversation; the albino did the work for him. “Now what does a marked want so bad he’s willing to darken my establishment with his sinful presence?”
Time for business. “I need to find Luther.”
“You’re not the only one.”
“I’ve got merchandise he’s requested, but a delay had me late to our meeting point. I know you can tell me where he’s hiding.” He’d bet his life on it.
The two illegal-dealing men weren’t friends, but information about anything and everything black market or top secret seemed to be in the albino’s possession. The Cursed were always in need of intelligence. Information allowed them to stay one step ahead of the authorities and determine who’d want their services.
“I may know something, but the rules still apply.”
Ian nodded. “Yes, and she’s got something good to share.”
A white eyebrow rose. “Eh? What could this marvelous woman who captains an airship full of foul-smelling, disgusting men have to tell me that would equal such a trade?”
Excerpt Option 3: Sorella Corvino only made promises she kept. So when she told the crumb in the next cell, “Once I get out of here, I’m going to kill you,” those were words of truth, not fiction.
The evil bastard leaned forward, mere inches from the bars, and grinned. “I prefer my bits handled by a gorgeous dish, but in a pinch, you’ll do.” His six yellowed teeth stabbing up through pinkish-white gums were a stark contracts to his soot colored skin and graying eyes, the gray no doubt a product of the drugs and rotgut sold on every corner in Pontevedre. No one escaped the filth and poison festering in the streets of every European city unscathed.
“In your dreams.” She stepped towards him, eyes narrowed. Maybe she wouldn’t wait until she got out.
“That’s what your girl is dreaming of tonight. Me and my co—“
She slid her hand between the bars and grasped the part of his anatomy he wanted to talk about in every other sentence, effectively cutting him off.
Author Bio: Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day, and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.