printed copy

His Dark Embrace

Amanda Ashley

ISBN 9781420121339
Publish Date 5/29/2012
Format Paperback
Categories Zebra, Paranormal

A Vampire’s Kiss. A Woman’s Surrender.

Tall, dark, mysterious—and with a faint scar on his cheek that only makes him more gorgeous—Kaiden Thorne is one schoolgirl obsession Skylynn never forgot. Now, returning to her childhood home after eight years, she can’t believe her reclusive neighbor is still living across the street—and hotter than ever. Skylynn doesn’t know how Kaiden manages to stay so young, virile, and impossibly attractive. But she knows she wants him…even if he harbors a fearful secret he refuses to tell her.

When Kaiden sees the beautiful young woman Skylynn has become, he can no longer control the bloodlust that is his true nature. Once he pulls Skylynn into his arms, presses his lips against hers—and accidentally draws blood—he longs for more. Only she possesses what he wants and what he needs. Only she can save him or destroy him. But once Skylynn agrees to help Kaiden battle his darkest desires, there is no turning back…

“Ashley is a master storyteller.” —Romantic Times

“A classic vampire tale of sensual, spine-tingling suspense.” —Christine Feehan on Desire After Dark

“A master of her craft.” —Maggie Shayne

Prologue

When Skylynn McNamara O’Brien came home to bury her grandfather and settle his estate, she was surprised to see that the house across the street was still vacant. The big, old, three­story house, surrounded by a high wrought­iron fence, sat on a half­acre lot. A covered porch spanned the front of the house. The place put her in mind of a giant among midgets, surrounded as it was by newer, smaller, more modern homes.

Granda had once told her that Kaiden Thorne’s grandfather had refused to sell the place to real estate developers, and so they had built around him.

Kaiden Thorne had moved away shortly after Skylynn left for college. She thought it odd that he hadn’t sold the house when he moved. As far as she knew, the house had been vacant ever since.

He had been a strange one, Mr. Thorne. For years, he had collected his mail and his newspaper after dark and always mowed his front yard after the sun went down. He had gone to the high school football games, but only the ones held at night.

Sky had been five or six the first time she had seen Kaiden Thorne. She remembered it as if it had happened yesterday. She had been sitting on the front porch that summer evening, playing with her favorite Barbie dolls, when a moving van pulled into the driveway of the house across the street. Curious, she had watched two men in gray overalls jump out of the cab and begin unloading the truck. There hadn’t been much in the way of furniture, just a black leather sofa and a matching chair, a couple of glass­topped end tables, a dresser and chest of drawers, an an­tique sideboard, and a big­screen TV. The last thing the movers had unloaded had been a large oblong box.

Skylynn had frowned when she saw it. What on earth was in there? Her interest in the new neighbor soon waned when she realized there would be no playmates her age moving into the house, only a tall man with thick black hair. At five, she had thought of Kaiden Thorne as an old man. Looking back, she realized he had probably been no more than in his thirties.

Her second distinct memory of Kaiden Thorne occurred on Halloween, Sky’s favorite holiday, except for Christmas, of course. Back then, everyone in the neighborhood deco­rated their houses, each family trying to outdo the other, but none of them could hold a candle to Mr. Thorne. His yard looked like something out of a Hammer horror movie. There had been a coffin that looked as if it was a hundred years old, a skeleton that looked so real, it had given Sky the creeps. Ancient torture devices had lined his driveway. A scary­looking clock that would have looked at home in a Vincent Price movie chimed the hours as assorted ghouls and monsters popped up out of old pirate chests and from behind weathered headstones. Sky had been seven when her brother, Sam, took her trick­or­treating at the Thorne house. Sam had been ten at the time, and even though her brother could be a major pain, she had idolized him. He had told her, straight­faced, that Mr. Thorne was a vampire, but Skylynn hadn’t be­lieved him because Granda had told her there were no such things as vampires, witches, ghosts, ghouls, or skeletons that walked and talked. But when Mr. Thorne opened the door, Sky had taken one look at his bloodred eyes, his gleaming fangs and long black cape, and screamed bloody murder. Her brother had teased her for months about the way she had turned tail and run back home just as fast as her legs would carry her. She’d had nightmares for weeks afterward, even though her grandfather had persuaded Mr. Thorne to come over and explain that he had been wear­ing an elaborate costume.

As time passed, Granda and Mr. Thorne spent more and more time together. They made an odd couple—her short, gray­haired grandfather and the tall, dark­haired Mr. Thorne. As far as Sky could tell, they’d had nothing in common. Granda was a retired doctor who dabbled in chemistry in his lab down in the basement. He had often kidded her that he was looking for the secret of eternal life. As for Mr. Thorne, she didn’t know what he did for a living. For all she knew, he, too, had been retired. The two men had spent many a night locked up in Granda’s lab.

More than once, she had snuck down to the basement. With her ear pressed to the door, she had caught snatches of conversation, but Granda’s talk of plasma and platelets and transfusions meant nothing to her.

Occasionally, a strange man came to visit Granda. Sky never saw his face, never heard his name, but there was something about him that, even back then, had made her skin crawl.

The summer Sky turned twelve, she started spying on Mr. Thorne. She wasn’t sure why. Curiosity? Boredom? Who could say? She bought a notebook and made co ­pious notes about his habits, the cars he drove, the clothes he wore. He rarely had visitors, but when he did, she wrote down the color and make of the car and the license plate number and descriptions of the people who came and went so infrequently. Sam thought he was a drug dealer or a hit man.

Sky had always had a flare for art and she drew numer­ous pictures and portraits of the elusive Mr. Thorne. A faint white scar bisected his right cheek. He had another scar on his back near his left shoulder blade. She had seen it one night during a scavenger hunt. The last item on her list had been to find an old newspaper and she had gone knocking on Mr. Thorne’s door in the hope that he could help. He had answered the door wearing a pair of swim trunks and noth­ing else. He had invited her to step inside while he went to fetch the paper, and she had glimpsed the scar when he turned away. As she grew older, she began to wonder how he had gotten those scars.

By the time she was thirteen, she had a full­blown crush on the mysterious Mr. Thorne. And then, when she was fif­teen or sixteen, an odd thing happened. For no apparent reason, he stopped staying inside during the day.

She would never forget the Friday afternoon she had come home from school and seen him outside, mowing his lawn. Wearing only a pair of cut­off blue jeans and sunglasses, he looked sexier than any man his age had a right to.

But that had been eight years ago, and she was no longer the wide­eyed innocent child she had once been.

About Amanda Ashley:

Amanda Ashley is one of those rare birds - a California native. She’s lived in Southern California her whole life and loves it (except for the earthquakes). She and her husband share a home with a fluffy Pomeranian named Lady, a tortoise named Buddy, and a wild sparrow named Tweety.

Amanda and her alter ego, Madeline Baker, have written over 50 books, many of which have appeared on various bestseller lists, including the New York Times List, the Waldenbooks Bestseller list, and the USA Today list. Not bad for someone who started writing just for the fun of it.


Average Customer Review

Based on 2 reviews


Customer Review

3.5 Stars - Lovely vampire love story! (Monday, May 28, 2012)
Reviewer: Toni S

Skylynn knows pain and she is living it again right now.

She lost her parents at a very young age, but she had the love of her grandparents to comfort her. Then she lost her grandmother, but her grandfather was there for her, her touchstone. Life has been good up until a few months ago. Now her beloved brother is missing in action in Iraq and she just buried her grandfather. Her life is at a crossroads. Does she go back to her life in Chicago or stay at her grandfather’s home and start a new life? Well for the time being she has a bit of time.

Kaiden Thorne has lived on the outside of his neighbor’s life for years. Watching Paddy’s grandchildren grow up has been a calming and an amazing experience. Through the years he grew very close to Paddy and they have had a very beneficial relationship. Kaiden may have left Vista Verde years ago, but he never lost contact with Paddy and he secretly watched over his granddaughter. Now Skylynn is all grown up and his feelings for her have grown all the more personal. But that isn’t the only thing he needs from her. She is now the keeper of Paddy’s secret; a secret that very well could ruin Kaiden and Skylynn’s forever.

Skylynn has always had a secret crush on Kaiden and Kaiden has developed a burning lust for her. Circumstances have propelled these two together and things are about to get steamy. There is nothing in the way for them now, except Kaiden’s hunger; a hunger so primal that it could killer her. But there may be something else in their way…an old enemy that has been lurking around the O’Brien house unbeknown to Kaiden. This is a man that will do anything to get his revenge on Kaiden, even turn his back on all he has ever known.

His Dark Embrace is a lovely sweet story. It is well balanced and I truly enjoyed it. The vampire lore in the story is pretty standard, but with a very nice twist. Intimate relations are very much behind closed doors. So if you like your romances with a little more love action, this book is not for you. But if you are familiar with Ms. Ashley’s writing you will already know that she writes sweet sensual romances not steamy hot burn your fingers type.

His Dark Embrace has a good plot with emotion, sensuality and intensity. Her character development is on the light side, but getting into their mind set is not hard. This is a very enjoyable read that kept me engaged but not gripped. I would recommend His Dark Embrace for a quiet evening when you just want to relax, lose yourself in a book and get away from the overly sexed novels out there. While this might not be a bodice ripper, it is still a lovely escape.

A charming potion (Saturday, May 26, 2012)
Reviewer: Kathy Jund

Skylynn O’Brien McNamara had a fascination with the mysterious, tall, dark neighbor who lived in the big old house across the street ever since she was a child. As a young girl the house sat empty, but Skylynn remembered the day Kaiden Thorne moved in, although she was only five, she was optimistic the new neighbors would have children with whom she could play. Unfortunately no children arrived with the moving truck carrying furniture and Skylynn found her attention caught by the man who would only leave the house and do his chores once the sun set. Skylynn and her older brother Sam had been living with their grandfather after her parents died in a tragic traffic accident sadly, she was only three at the time and Sam was six. Skylynn grandfather was a retired doctor who loved to dabble in chemistry and actually kept a laboratory in his basement. As time passed, Dr. McNamara and Kaiden had become friends oftentimes held their visits in the laboratory behind locked doors, leaving Skylynn and her wild imagination as to the reason why. One summer after Skylynn turned fifteen or sixteen, Kaiden was suddenly out in the day and with being constantly surrounded by him, as girls growing up tended to do; Skylynn found she had developed a crush on him that she not soon forget. Now years later, after coming back home to settle affairs, looking wistfully across the street Skylynn wondered what had become of Kaiden after all this time. Skylynn would soon find that even with her creative mind, the answers would soon get were beyond anything she could ever imagine.


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