Book 5 in the Mystic Valley series but may be read as a standalone story.
When naked Bishop Llewellyn is kidnapped from his bed in the middle of the night by his angry best friend Trav, he has no idea of the enormous ways his life is about to change. After they are trapped in a cave, Bishop's search for help for his seriously injured friend leads him to a mysterious valley where he discovers his long-lost brother among the blue-skinned inhabitants.
His stubborn search for an escape from the valley is sidetracked when he meets Samara, a woman who is more interested in finding out what's hidden under his sharda than seeking out a mate. Soon he's blithely showing Samara all the sensual possibilities without understanding the consequences of his actions. Their no-strings-attached affair derails when Bishop unintentionally embarrasses Samara. Then an assassin's attack on Bishop nearly succeeds...
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Love Never-Ending by Anny Cook
The next day the Midsummer Gathering began. It was a bright sunny morning that glittered with the promise of heat to come. Bishop walked hurriedly toward Samara's dome through the cool woods. She had agreed to be his guide. Neither of them thought that the polite fiction would last long but Bishop suspected that it would deflect the first few questions. He still didn't understand why it was such a big deal for Samara to have a lover, though he was more than willing to take whatever steps would protect her reputation--short of bonding.
When he reached her yard, she was waiting on the porch with two neatly packed baskets. For the first time since he'd met her, she had a filmy embroidered and beaded cap covering her beautiful golden brown hair. The dark brown and gold embroidery on her beige festival dress matched the cap's embroidery. She wore dainty dark brown sandals with bits of gold leather peeking through the cutouts.
For a long moment, he stood staring at her with a small smile on his face, thinking that all the makeup and sexy clothes in the world wouldn't make her more beautiful than she was right at that moment.
"You're beautiful, Samara."
"Me?" She stepped down into the yard and touched his pale green shera. "I am merely pretty. But you are most handsome. I like this shera and sharda."
"A festival gift from Llyon and Tyger." He bent his head to kiss her, taking his time, tasting and savoring her mouth. "You are beautiful to me. What the other idiots in the valley think isn't important. Now I suggest that we get moving or I'll carry you into the dome and remove that gorgeous dress and cap."
He tapped her rear. "Get the baskets. Now."
"Oh, all right." She flounced over to the porch, retrieved the baskets and handed them to him before picking up her festival shawl and beaded bag.
"Something smells delicious," he observed, sniffing at one of the baskets.
"That's my contribution for the feast. Everyone brings something to share." They set off for the village, walking the path with the visitors streaming up from Broken Pine and Goodspeed's Delight.
"Where is everyone coming from?" Bishop muttered just loud enough for Samara to hear.
She giggled. "You've only seen the people that live in Lost Market. Wait until you get to the practice field. There will be people from all over the valley. This is the annual market gathering so people will bring their wares to trade. And the valley council will meet and enact the new laws for the valley. Papa even prints extra copies of the paper to hand out at the gathering."
"What are you taking for trade?" he asked.
"Beaded bags." She held up her own bag so he could see. "I make them in my spare time."
"You made that? All those tiny beads? That's incredible!"
"How many credits do you charge for one of them?" he asked curiously.
Samara smiled at the way Bishop cut right to the heart of the matter. "Fifty credits if it's one of my standard designs. One hundred credits if they want something special like a name glyph."
"What?" Bishop yelped in shock. "Who has that kind of credits?"
"Young men buy them as a bonding gift."
"Oh? And what do the young women give them in return?"
"Usually? Many of them gift their men with a slith."
Bishop stopped walking and sent her a hard stare. "You made that up. I know I'm an easy target but I'm not that stupid."