It's Tuesday, so you know what that means. A bit of shameless promotion for you all. This week I'm bringing you the sequel to Don't Spank the Vamp. Don't Tempt the Phoenix is honestly one of my favorite books I've written. It's also a reader favorite. I've gotten more fan letters about this one than any book I've written, other than The Mylari Chronicles: Eyes of Fire.
Anyway, let me share a little about this book. A little bit of legend, a little bit of heat and a whole lot of romance.
A perfect love sought through the centuries…an ancient evil sworn to prevent it at all costs.
Aithne has spent her life living for her brother. Now that he’s found his twin flame, she’s free from her duty as his familiar. She plans to relish every moment—and search for a soulmate of her own who will match the longing that burns in her heart. For now, a traveling carnival looks like the perfect vehicle to find the adventure she craves. Starting with the carnival’s handsome and enigmatic owner.
Milcham Phoenix hides a secret behind the carnival’s dazzling distractions. As the only creature in Paradise who didn’t fall into sin, he is unique…and lonely. For centuries he has searched for the one woman whose beauty, spirit and passion tempt him to open his heart. No one has come close—until Aithne.
The fire within them burns out of control. But before they have the courage to share their true feelings with each other, evil attacks, and painful secrets are exposed. Truth is the one thing that will overcome an ancient enemy…and the one thing their love may not survive.
Simply sizzling. A wild emotional ride. Steamy and delightful, this one is a scorcher.
~~~Ck2s Kwips and Kritiques
Prosaic, almost poetic, and never dull, DON'T TEMPT THE PHOENIX reads like an old legend. I give it the highest recommendation possible, La Grande Mort.
A wild, passionate story full of multi-faceted characters, a compelling storyline and tight writing.
~~~Love Romances & More
An erotic joyride of monumental proportions. Masterful storytelling with characters that grip you and don't let go.
Wholeheartedly recommended. A fantastic reading experience with richly detailed and believable characters.
~~~Long and Short Reviews
“Do you have a question to ask?”
He frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“You may ask a question of the cards and they will answer. Or, you may just allow the cards to speak to you. Either way will work fine.”
His brow furrowed in thought. “I will ask a question.”
She nodded, and fanned the cards out on the table. “Speak it out loud.”
Milcham stared at her. It couldn’t be just anything. It had to be something he alone would know the answer to. After a moment of thought, he smiled. “I wish you to tell me where I came from.”
Aithne tipped her head in thought. “You mean where you were born?”
He folded his arms across his muscular chest and grinned. “Exactly what I said. Where did I come from?”
There was a trick to it somewhere. Aithne knew it immediately. He was trying to trip her up. She took a slow breath to calm her nerves and steady her thrumming heart. She held her hands out over the cards and prayed for guidance. Then, lifting the cards in her hands, she began to deal.
“Since you don’t know anything about Tarot cards…” she glanced up at the silent man. “You don’t, do you?”
“No,” he grunted.
“Then I will make it easy. First off, the cards can’t tell you the exact place you came from. They aren’t created to do that. What they will do is tell you about where and how you came. Do you understand?”
“I thought you could tell me my past and future.”
Aithne shook her head and the tent filled with the sound of jingling bells. “I can tell you only what the cards tell me. But they will speak about your past, and where you came from, this I promise.”
She cut the cards into three piles. “With your left hand, choose a single card and lay it before you.”
She nodded. “We will start with a simple single card spread. If you want to continue after that, we can do another.”
He smirked and leaning forward, picked up a card. “There will be no need.” Tossing it down in front of him, he frowned. “So…what is it?”
Aithne stared at the card before him. A tiny shiver went up her back and she took a deep breath. Closing her eyes, she tried to listen to the voice inside her that helped her read the cards. “It is The Judgment card. It symbolizes many things.”
Her eyes opened and they were very green in the low candlelight. “You have placed the card in an upright position so they represent awakening, renewal, a well lived life, better health, or a quickened mind.”
She touched the card gently. “In your case I see long life and renewal. A rebirth if you like.”
Milcham was shaken by her words. To cover, he cleared his throat. “What does that have to do with where I came from?”
She licked her lips, causing his body to tighten again. “I believe…where you came from has to do with the journey you are on. You look for renewal…for your body and your…heart. Where you came from is tied up in this.” Her eyes met his. “I am correct, am I not?”
“I don’t believe any single card,” he bluffed, uncomfortable with how accurate she was about him. “Do another.”
He could tell she was suppressing a smile, but he was very curious now. He leaned forward and waited while she shuffled the deck. At her nod he reached out and picked another card, setting it gingerly in front of him. His neck prickled as he looked at the picture. “What is this one?”
Looking up at him, her face was a study in amazement. “It is The Six of Swords. It represents a journey, a passage away from sorrow where harmony will prevail.” She caressed the card with one long fingertip. “Basically, it is saying the same thing to me. You are on a journey to find yourself. Where there once was sadness, soon you will find joy.”
Milcham’s throat closed up. Could this be true? Was this witch speaking the truth? How else could she know this?
Aithne gathered up the cards quietly. “I will do one more reading for you. Then you will tell me if you think I’m still evil.” Without waiting for his answer, she shuffled the cards again and with her left hand, she laid them out in the same three piles.
“Use your left hand and choose three cards, from any pile. Lay them in front of you left to right, one at a time.”
Silently, he obeyed until three cards stared up at him. “Tell me what it means.”
“This spread represents your past, your present and your future,” she said tightly. Looking at the cards made her somehow frightened. “I can tell you the meaning of each card, or I can tell you what I see in them.”
She sighed. Her heart was beating very fast. She tapped the first one with her finger. “This is your past. You have chosen The Sun card, but it is upside down. It can mean loneliness and unhappiness, lack of friends or loved ones. What I see is you…on your own. Not just once…” she frowned at the card. “But over and over again. As if you lived many lifetimes, yet always alone.”
“The next one?” His voice was hoarse.
Aithne swallowed. She smoothed her thumb over the next card. “This next card is your present. This is The Eight of Cups, and it is also reversed. It is another card that signifies journeys. More specifically, it speaks of a search for pleasure, seeking joy or success, a new love interest.”
She glanced up at the big man and blushed. “You seek a woman. But, not just any woman. She is special. And you will search until you find her.”
Milcham’s body was so tight, it hurt. He stared at the small woman before him, not knowing whether he should curse her or kiss her. He stared at the last card and a tingle went up his spine. “And this card?”
She bit her lip again, but this time he was concentrating on the cards too much to notice. “This is your future, and this card is The World. It is a good card to get, Mr. Phoenix.”
She nodded, pleasure in her voice. “It means completion, perfection, recognition, success, fulfillment, triumph, and eternal life.” She closed her eyes and sighed. “I see…” her voice became very low, yet it kept its husky musical tone. “I see you are from a far away place. I don’t understand why, but, this place is your home, and you love it, yet you feel trapped. I see you there again and again. It’s like looking at the same picture superimposed on top of itself.”
She tipped her head, as if waiting for something. “You are sad and alone, and then you are allowed to leave to travel the world on a quest for…for love.” Her eyes popped open and met his. “You seek your soulmate,” she said in an amazed whisper. “Your twin-flame.”
Milcham jumped to his feet. “How do you know this?” He leaned over and grabbed her by the arms, jostling the table as he did so.
She stood very still, her eyes wide in her exotic face. “You’re hurting me!”
Immediately, he let go of her. In all his life, he’d never used force with a woman. “I’m sorry, I…” he trailed off when he saw her look down at the table and the color in her face drain away. Without thinking, he grabbed her again, this time to steady her.
“Aithne,” he urged, his hands running up and down in an unconscious effort to steady her. “What is wrong?”
Freeing herself, she pointed to his cards. The jostling of the table revealed a second card beneath the card marking his future. Milcham frowned. “They must have stuck together. So what?”
Aithne sat down hard in her chair. Shakily, she touched the card. “A second card means your future is unsure. Your destiny is still to be written. The first card in this pile speaks of success, of triumph and eternal life.” She hesitated.
Milcham felt another shiver go up his back. “And the second?”
She didn’t speak for several long moments. Then she sighed. “The second card…is The Death card.”
That chill went straight up his back and shot deep into his chest. “The Death card? What does it mean?”
She lifted worried eyes to him. “Just what you think. In the way it is positioned, and partnered with this other card, it means loss, failure, illness, bad luck or even…death. You have two possible futures Mr. Phoenix. You will either succeed in what you have been doing, and find the soulmate you seek, or…you will die.”
For a long time he didn’t move, his mind and body stilled by her words. Then his temper rolled up and out of him.
“You think you can frighten me into allowing you to stay,” he roared, his voice making the crystals that hung from the ceiling shiver at his wrath. “You dare such a thing? Is this the type of help you plan on giving the locals? This witch’s carnival trick?”
Aithne gaped at him, totally shocked at his twisted reasoning. “I gave you a reading. One you know very well was accurate,” she shouted back, her own temper flaring. “I’ve been doing this long enough to see the truth on someone’s face.”
“You know nothing,” he snarled.
“I know you’re a coward. You know I spoke the truth to you, and you’re afraid to admit it. I honored our agreement! Will you?”
He swore aloud. “We made no agreement! You wanted to do a reading, and I said yes. That was all.”
She thought her head would blow off in her fury. Never had she been so angry before. “You…you bastard! You liar! You have no honor!”
Milcham swept the cards off the table. “You challenge my integrity? How dare you?”
Flinging her long hair back, Aithne stood her ground. “I dare because it’s the truth!”
“I want you gone by sun-up!”
“I have a contract,” she spat at him. “And I’m not going anywhere!”
He took a step forward, his jaw clenching and unclenching, but still for some reason, she wasn’t afraid. Instead, there was an excitement in her that didn’t make any sense. She watched with luminous eyes as he brought himself under control, and then turning on his heel, marched out of her tent.
Suddenly, all the fight went out of Aithne, and she sank to the ground. She stared after the man who had sent her senses racing. Part of her still seethed at his attitude towards her, hating him, yet another part…a gentler one, knew there was something more.
Slowly, she gathered the cards that had fallen around the table. She methodically shuffled them, and held them to her breast as she prayed. Then, setting the stack of precious cards on her flowing skirt, she blew out her breath in a sigh.
“Who…” she whispered. “Who will this man be to me?”
Taking a deep breath, she reached out and turned over the top card. The breath rushed out of her in one long woosh.
The card was The Lovers.
~~~End of Excerpt~~~
Well, I hope that whetted your appetite. Want to read more? Buy either the ebook or the hard copy at Samhain Publishing. https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/1975/dont-tempt-the-phoenix . And please let me know what you think! Enjoy!!!!
Follow Your Dreams