New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Frank invites you to explore a strange and sensuous world of darkest desire ruled by an extraordinary being who is about to meet his earthly match...
Sandman. Angus. Morpheus. He is known by many names, except his true one, Adrian. When he departs his world, it is to enter the sacred space of sleep, and he is not there to sow sweet dreams. Adrian's mission is to reap the dark energy of nightmares, work that has twisted his soul as well as his once-handsome face. Now, he lives only to await the day darkness finally overcomes him...and to collect exquisite reminders of what he's lost...
But there is one treasure that stands apart. Having risked everything to obtain her, Adrian soon realizes his mistake. For Kathryn has a wholly unexpected power over him, not only for what she represents, but for what for she is: a soul with desires as strong as his own, tempered by compassion that could save Adrian from his self-made hell--or condemn them both...
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1 . Frank Does It Again
Posted June 05, 2010 by Carrie , SpokaneJacquelyn Frank is one of my top 3 favorite romance novelists. This was an enjoyable, quality read. My only complaint is that her storylines are becoming very similar. Still, it's steamy, well-written, and contains great characters.
April 27, 2010
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Excerpt from Stealing Kathryn by Jacquelyn Frank
The stifling blackness was cut almost rudely by the sound of a striking match. The torch made of rag and kerosene caught the puny flame, held it, and exploded in a flare of fire.
The light chased the darkness back into tighter packs of shadow, where it hesitated at the borders of its ragged, imperfectly constructed circle of illumination. It wavered wanly at its edges, as if it knew it was nowhere near powerful enough to obliterate the darkness and dared not push its limits.
"Light, Master," the torch holder announced needlessly. His eyes were gobbling up the sight of the magnificent twisting flames. His pupils had dwindled to tiny, brackish pinpoints at the sudden brightness. His eyes hurt, but still he stared at the delicious fire as it licked and devoured its fuel. He continued to gaze at it in utter fascination even after his eyes had burned dry from the near heat and his neglect in remembering to blink.
Cronos finally blinked, wincing at the painfully sudden lubrication. Then he obediently shuffled forward, his spindly legs working hard not to trip over themselves. The Master, he knew, would have no patience for his usual clumsiness this eve.
Something told him that this night was special, different from all the others. He could almost hear the complex, ominous machinations of the Master's thoughts.
He moved forward, the light progressing with him and creeping slowly along the floor before it began to hesitatingly encircle the Master, as if afraid of the darkness it battled back from around the enormous cloaked figure.
Cronos froze midstep.
Gingerly, without moving himself or the torch a millimeter closer, he put his raised foot down. He released an anxious, shaky breath as quietly as he could. Then, willing himself not to be entranced by the torch flames again, he looked with curious expectancy to the Master.
The Master's back was to him, so all he could really see was the expanse of the coal-black cloak stretching across his broad, bulky shoulders. From there it cascaded in massive, flowing folds to the bare stone floor, where it swept the dust-laden gray slab. Upward, the Master's head was covered, hidden completely within a deep-hooded cowl.
Cronos was glad of this. It was always easier to watch when he could not see the Master's chilling features. Yet he knew the Master was well aware that he was watching. Cronos kept his simple thoughts carefully neutral.
There was no movement for many heartbeats.
Then slowly, the Master extended a pale, long- fingered hand from the ebony abyss of himself. A large onyx ring glittered from the third finger of this hand, flames catching the facets until it looked as if the ring was burning as well. To Cronos it was a most fascinating effect. Almost too fascinating for his easily distracted mind.
The hand reached farther.
To the mirror.
The mirror was a breathtakingly eerie thing and it, too, never failed to earn Cronos's attention. It was the shape of an inverted triangle that spanned the entire height of the wall, nearly two feet taller than the Master's towering figure. The glass gleamed with dark foreboding, a wicked midnight blue and perfectly unflawed. There was an iron framework bordering its three edges. This brown-black ornate edge curled forward toward the glass in arching fingers of twisted metal, looking rather like the Venus flytrap plants up in the Master's study.
The Master's hand continued heading for the blue glass mirror, every inch of motion a proclamation of respectful reverence.
Cronos always held his breath at this point, waiting, wondering, almost hoping that this trap, too, would spring, closing upon the Master and gobbling him up like insignificant fly meat.
Fearfully, Cronos checked his thoughts, though the Master likely was not listening to them presently. It was safer not to take any chances, however. And no matter how anxious he was for his own safety, Cronos still could not look away.
There was no reflection of light where there should be in the inky, watery glass.
Only a ghostly reproduction of a pale hand reaching. . .
The Master's fingertips touched the glass gently, stroking downward in an almost loving caress. His hand turned palm side up, slowly, so slowly, as a lover might do when carefully cupping a woman's soft, full breast.
Then with precision and intensity, the fingertips trailed patiently upward.
The Master's head turned, just enough so that Cronos could see beyond the borders of the cowl.
Eyes of malachite and black widened slightly as they fixed on the progress of his own hand against the mirror. They were large, haunted eyes with pupils that flickered with swift-moving phantoms of death, suffering wraiths, and impending misfortunate fate. Set into deeply shadowed sockets, the eyes seemed to fairly glow with their wicked splendor.
This eerie illumination was fringed with lush, spiky lashes that curled upward in abundance. These lashes were deceptive, mockingly emulating those of an innocent, wide-eyed child whose lashes seemed to go on forever. These were not innocent. They were reaching.
Reaching. Reaching toward thick black brows. Brows that seemed to curl down in their centers, as if attracted toward the lashes. Both were waiting.
Waiting for the tiniest morsel of a fly.
Cronos's stomach turned sour and he shuddered as he looked quickly to the floor. He could never look long upon those eyes, even when they weren't trained piercingly upon him. Even when they weren't boring into him and sucking . . . sucking at his frantic, twisted soul.
Little fly that he was.
But he quickly drew his faint courage back around himself and looked eagerly back to the mirror and the thing he knew was about to happen.
Gently, without a ripple or a single smudge of a fingerprint, the Master's hand slipped into the blue waters of the glass.
The Master drew in an audible breath. It was almost a sound of pleasure, echoing in the vast room before disappearing in the refuge of the smothering shadows. He leaned forward slightly until his wrist had become enveloped by the mirror as well. An oppressive feeling of power began to bleed forbiddingly into the room. The torchlight quavered and dimmed, beaten back by this new, overwhelming darkness.
Suddenly, an electric blue and white finger of energy, like a small bolt of lightning, jumped from one of the curling tendrils of the mirror's iron frame. Cutting a quick, jagged path to the Master's wrist, it touched and ricocheted off. It rebounded in a precise V, heading directly to the framework on the opposite side of the mirror.
This one spark was the first of a cascade of similar bolts of static energy, each starting from and ending at a new claw of the reaching frame.
A charge built in the room, causing Cronos's hair to stand on end in long gray spikes. The mirror was alive with lightning now. The Master's eyes reflected the blue-white glow with unearthly intensity and a hunger for its power.
Then the mirror went abruptly dark and forbidding again. Yet the hot, nerve-tingling charge of power continued to fill the room until it created a whining hum.
The Master yanked back his hand, suddenly alive with movement as he shoved the cowl back from his head. A contorted growl erupted from him as he tore the entire cloak from himself, revealing his ghostly white, naked flesh.
He stepped up to the glass in such a way that one step might take him entirely through, his muscles flexing and twitching with potency and expectation.
The step was taken.
Cronos blinked once as the Master disappeared.
The torch guttered once before dying.