Lady of the Dead
Night World Series, Book 1
by Gretchen S. B.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 262
Word Count: ~93, 000
Cover Artist: Gretchen S. B.
A Lady of the Dead only comes along once in a century. Gwen knows this makes her valuable but she hates the constant supervision of her Warrior guards. Her increasing power has gifted her some independence until rumors of war spook her guards enough to report to the King.
Cesar has been King of North America through several wars and rebellions. When one of his generals informs him these new rumors involve the Lady of the Dead he flies to Seattle himself it investigate, posing as his second-in-command. The instant attraction he feels to Gwen becomes increasingly hard to ignore.
Will Cesar be able to protect Gwen while battling his lust? Will Gwen stay with her warrior guards or will Cesar’s dominating nature push her to switch sides? Hidden alliances begin to surface in Lady of the Dead.
“The Night World stole me from reality. No, a better way to put it is that the Night World weaned me from the normalcy of what most people would consider the real world,” Gwen began by way of explanation.
“That’s an interesting and very selective memory of events you have there,” Viking said, raising a blond eyebrow at her. “In fact, that is not how I remember it at all.”
Gwen glared. “Storebror, are you going to let me tell my story or are you going to be a nuisance?”
Viking smiled but before he could say anything he was interrupted by Raider, his second-in-command.
“Viking, the boy asked her about her past, let her tell it her own way so we can get on with the game. You know how the new guards become so enamored with our Lady of the Dead. Let the boy get it out of his system.” He laid his cards on the table, folded his arms and nodded at Gwen to continue.
Gwen rolled her eyes. She hated that title and Raider knew it. She had tried desperately over the years to convince the Warriors sent to guard her to call her by her name instead of the title, that really creeped her out. Gwen did not just talk to the dead, but to the entire Spirit World. She wanted to meet who ever had come up with that title and kick him in the balls.
Sighing, Gwen turned to Kegan, one of the new men sent to guard her. The fact that he still used his birth name told Gwen that he was less than two centuries old. When Warriors became older, they tended to make up their own names, like Viking and Raider.
“Anyway, I was seven and once again helped out of the house by my Fairy friends…”
Kegan waved a hand. “Fairy friends? There’s no such thing as Fairies.”
Gwen glared at him until he looked away. Yeah, he was definitely young. Older Warriors would not give in that easily. Gwen looked at Raider.
“What is it with you men and interrupting?”
Raider grinned at her. She had known him since she was seventeen, ten years now. Gwen had harbored a minor crush on him when they first met, but had found out what he was in his first life and the feelings had faded. A first life is what Warriors called their first century; everything after that is considered their second life. Raider’s first life consisted of raiding tombs in the 1700s. The young Gwen had been crushed that the gorgeous man before her was not only far too old for her, but a professional thief as well.
Raider kept his light brown hair a little shaggy and his sharp jaw clean-shaven. His broad nose showed signs of a bad break. The break must have occurred very young because at thirty a Warrior’s body became too strong for scarring like that.
When Raider did not respond to her, Gwen continued. “A small child is not going to understand that a being from the Spirit World is not a Fairy. My Fairy friends and I went to play down by Green River; they knew the paths to take to get all the way down to the bank. I was playing in the water when some of the Fairies picked me up and started dunking me.” Gwen did not like the next part. She still had nightmares. “At first it was fun, but then I was under too long and I needed air. The Fairies would not let me up to breathe. They were trying to drown me.”
She knew her voice was emotionless. Though it had been the first traumatic experience in her life, it was not the last. The attacks only grew worse as she aged. When Viking’s hand slid onto her left arm, Gwen knew he was thinking of those later attacks as well. His one little gesture calmed her down. She was safe now. Viking always made feel her safe, even when the odds were against them.
Shaking her head to clear it, Gwen continued her story. “Suddenly I was up in the air and huddling against this huge chest. He was yelling at the Fairies, speaking in a language I didn’t know. Nevertheless, I knew he was there to help me. I could feel that he was a good guy. He made the Fairies leave and has protected me ever since.”
When Gwen finished eating, she closed her eyes, and leaned back in her chair. She felt every person at that table go on guard. Gwen almost laughed; they were so protective of her, even when it wasn’t something they could protect against. Taking deep breaths, Gwen lowered her head and slowly rolled out her power into the Spirit World around her. She was trying a technique Oracle showed her, exiting her physical body to reach farther away. Since it was a new skill, Gwen struggled with it. It had taken four tries this morning to finally get it right. This time she headed north. She didn’t know the area too well so Gwen concentrated on the directions she took. The last thing she needed was to get lost outside her own body, where she couldn’t defend herself.
After several minutes, Gwen passed over a school playground in a residential area. A huge shadow creature hunkered down on all fours watched a group of teenagers who stood on the opposite side of the fence. Gwen could feel the malice vibrating from the creature. He was strong but bound to the schoolyard. He seemed to be weaker in the waning sunlight that still illuminated his surroundings.
Gwen landed on the far end of the fence, away from the teens but careful to keep the fence between her and the creature. Once she began hovering near the fence, the thing slowly turned its head to look at her. Gwen gasped and fear flooded her system.
Its head was twice the size of hers and round. Its jaw protruded slightly and when it smiled evilly at her, she could see every single one of his teeth were razor sharp. His eyes were narrow and the irises black. The body was bulky and almost disproportioned. Gwen knew if this thing stood on its hind legs it would be somewhere around eleven feet tall. She couldn’t stop the fear coursing through her.
It moved much faster than Gwen expected it to, crossing the yard in under ten seconds. He moved like a gorilla, putting weight on his knuckles and swinging his back legs forward. He didn’t stop until his face was up against the fence. He straightened slightly so his face and Gwen’s were only feet apart. His breathing was ragged with excitement. Gwen knew her fear rolled off her and this creature could feel it, but she stood her ground. She could feel the spells put on him and the playground. He couldn’t get to her as long as she was on this side of the fence. But he was still damn scary.
“What brings the Lady of the Dead to my corner of the world?” His voice was inhumanly low and high at the same time.
Gwen’s fear spiked, he knew who she was.
That voice laughed at her.
It was one of the scariest things Gwen ever heard, and she automatically shuddered. “I’m looking for information about some men.”
It gave her an unblinking stare. “You are not yet strong enough to force answers from me. I can smell your fear and weakness.” It sat down on its haunches. “I also smell your determination, and that interests me. I may or may not answer your questions.”
Gwen wasn’t quite sure how to take that. This thing was clearly evil, but it might help her. She knew she needed to tread lightly because without a doubt he had an ulterior motive.
“There are three rogue Warriors that may be in the area. They may be trying to start a war.”
The thing’s pointed ears twitched and he interrupted her. “What kind of war?”
Gwen fought to keep her voice steady. She knew the effort was pointless since he knew she was terrified, but she needed to try for her own sake. “We believe an all out one in this kingdom.”
Its breathing slowed and he closed his mouth, staring at her for several beats. “No, they will fail.”
The answer was so abrupt Gwen actually blinked. “What?”
It smiled at her again and Gwen’s fear rose. “The Warriors you speak of, I know of them. Though they are not stupid enough to try recruiting me, they may have recruited Basilix, an enemy of mine. He is too strong for them to handle. Eventually he will eat them, or use them. It is hard to tell with Basilix. These Warriors you seek have been making alliances will all manner of Night Worlders. Now run along back to your body, little girl.”
One giant clawed paw contorted through the chain link fence and slashed across Gwen’s stomach. She screamed as pain shot through her and the shock from it broke her concentration, sending her shooting through the Spirit World back to her body.
The crash back in was jarring and made her feel like she had been hit by a bus. Her stomach burned so bad she screamed. She was only dimly aware of a hand over her mouth. The pain was stealing her consciousness. She barely heard Sivia’s muffled voice from far away.
“Lucia, quick, mask her and clean the blood. We need to get her out of here.”
Pain consumed her and the world appeared to go a dull red. Gwen swore she could hear that creature’s voice laughing. Then there was silence.
My Mini Review:
I LOVED this book. It was well written and very entertaining. The characters were interesting and "characters"! Gwen was a fabulously fun and smart woman while Cesar was serious and determined to have Gwen as his woman. They make an unique yet fascinating couple who definitely have issues to overcome to make a relationship work for them. This story has everything that I look for in a book: entertainment, humor, thrills and sexual chemistry. I highly recommend this book to lovers of paranormal romances who love a strong minded woman and an powerful man. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this series to find out how Gwen's an Cesar's story continues.
Gretchen happily lives in Seattle, Washington where she spends her time creating new characters and situations to put them in. She also enjoys cheering on her local sports teams, even though it sometimes seems they are allergic to winning.
She has loved reading and telling stories as far back as she, or anyone else, can remember. Currently, she loves to read the same genres she writes. She also loves exploring her home state. At the end of her adventures she unwinds by curling up on the couch, knitting while catching up TV shows.