Out of the Light, Into the Shadow

August 4, 2009

Servant: The Acceptance


The darkest hour is before the dawn... headlines a sinful new anthology where the dark and light sides of desire collide...

Embrace the darkness and experience the light in this all-new anthology filled with touching stories of happily ever after alongside smoldering tales of irresistibly dangerous, otherworldly passion. From bewitching emotions and untamed desire to dazzling romance and tantalizing sensuality, these novellas explore the complex facets of the human heart—both the light side and the dark.

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Berkley anthology
ISBN: 978-0425230527
     

Urban Fantasy novella by L.L. Foster
For centuries, males in the Jardine family have been born with a gift: they can sense, capture and manipulate the emotions of others. Such a talent comes with grave responsibility, and the Jardine men, working with high-level government officials, have been given immunity to tame the more psychotic edges of society. Only a very special woman would be able to match such a powerful male. When Brax Jardine realizes that Cameo Smithson can somewhat withstand his influence on her emotions, he’s more than intrigued.

He’s in love.

Since meeting her, he’s wanted Cameo, but settling down into a monogamous relationship isn’t easy for the Jardine men. They “feed” off the ultimate, mind-numbing release of sexual activity, using it to counter the corrosive influence of darker animus. Without a woman to soften the edges, a Jardine male starts losing his sanity.

Only when the right woman is found can a Jardine male stop carousing and settle for true love.

Brax already knows that Cameo loves him, but will her love be enough for her to face his horrific battles with inhumanity, and the carnal demands he’ll put on her in the bedroom?

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Total Control

CHAPTER ONE

Out of the Light, Into the ShadowImpatience clawed through Brax, sparking a fire to his every nerve ending. After his last bloody assignment, he required her total surrender to his will. Only her heated touch, her screams of fulfillment, would salve his turmoil and save his sanity.

The cursed talent made it far too easy to get lost in eternal blackness. Lately it felt as though the depravity soaked into his pores, worming its way into his soul.

Only the most complete possession of Cameo Smithson, body and soul, would save him.

He needed her.

Desire battled with his conscience until he heard the quiet opening of his office door. His smile was one of anticipation, satisfaction.

But inside his heart the apology burned. For his benefit, he’d bring her into his private hell. If he were a stronger man, he’d do as his uncle Amos had done, and disappear from humanity.

He couldn’t. Knowing she was near proved an irresistible temptation.

Today he’d end the eternal wait.

For weeks he’s struggled with non-existent patience, determined to give her enough time to acclimate to the new shift in their relationship, her new life, her new sexuality.

What they’d share would be electric and sizzling hot. It would feed him, and drain her, and only together would they both survive.

He would give her more than she’d ever experienced before. More than most could tolerate.

Cameo didn’t yet realize she was his salvation, but he’d accepted the fact months ago. Now he had to coerce her into accepting it, too.

The door closed with barely a snick of sound. He felt her heavy pause as she surveyed him standing before the yawning hole in the wall.

“Brax?”

Her voice held that tentative, cautious tone that he’d expected, the tone she’d adopted since picking up on his sexual advances.

She was right to be wary; before long he’d strip her of even that small choice. Claiming her meant obliterating her reserve. She’d be totally vulnerable to him and his whims.

Forever.

Gathering his thoughts, he continued to stare out the gaping hole in the outside office wall. On the third floor of his expansive home, the giant cavity opened to his backyard, showcasing a decorative pool, fountain, and manicured landscaping carefully arranged to look as if nature had a hand in its design.

The upscale lifestyle helped him to forget what he was, what he did, and worked to conceal his atrocious proclivities.

No one would believe a wealthy, respected businessman would occupy his free time by demolishing brutish societal abnormalities.

Barefoot, he stood so near the edge that his toes hung over the broken bricks of the house’s exterior. A stirring breeze wafted in; he heard the trickle of the fountain, the songs of birds.

The steep drop was such that it sucked the air from his lungs.

Keeping his back to her, he commanded, “Come here, Cameo.”

Out of the Light, Into the ShadowHe could almost hear her searching for a reply. He waited, muscles knotted, hoping for the right answer.

“I’d rather we sit down, okay?”

Something dark and destructive loosened inside him. She worried for him. His smile teased; he braced his hands at the top of the hole and leaned out, letting gravity drag at him, feeling himself grow weightless.

“Damn it, Brax,” she snapped. “Move away from there right now.”

Ah, so she tried a different tact. That was so like Cameo, adaptable, always in charge, always intelligent, thinking through possibilities and consequences.

He looked down at the yard below, and saw a few discarded bricks lying broken amid plaster dust. “I told you to come to me.”

The seconds ticked by. When he heard no movement behind him, he turned. Staying close to the edge, he took in the tantalizing sight of her. Dressed in another of the proper but alluring business suits that he’d grown to associate with her unique style, she looked... exciting.

Like salvation.

In an effort to withstand him, she locked her hands on the back of the wing chair placed before his desk. It was where she’d normally sit to take dictation.

Her innocent, baby blue eyes closed, denying him a sight he adored, a sight that gentled him against the ugly corruptive influence of his life. The lips he’d so often dreamed of were now compressed.

Brax understood. She felt his compulsion – but she fought it. It was as much her ability to deny him, as her other attributes, that reeled him in.

Determined to test her, Brax centered his efforts, hardened his tone. “Cameo, you will come to me. Now.”

Tensing her entire body, she shook her head.

God, but she stirred him on the most elemental levels. Her refusal caused his voice to drop to a husky whisper. “You know you want to.”

A shiver ran over her. “I’m not an idiot.” She opened her eyes, showing him stark pain and gutsy defiance. “You move away from there.”

The display of rebellion perversely thrilled him; his pulse sped, his blood heated. “No, Cameo,” he agreed, “no one would ever accuse you of lacking smarts.”

When conquering others, he often got a frisson of excitement.

Out of the Light, Into the ShadowBut Cameo conquered him – without even knowing it.

Satisfied with her reaction, he eased back mentally, freeing her from the grip of his power. She immediately sucked in a deep breath.

Still edgy with predacious excitement, Brax watched the lush rise of her full breasts beneath a buttoned up blouse. The sheer material showed the lace, and the woman, beneath.

Lounging on the broken wall beside the yawning void, he studied her, taking in every nuance of her expression. “I need to locate a new contractor. As you can see -” He indicated the hole in his office wall. “-I fired the last one.”

She visibly struggled for composure. “But... I’d only just hired him.”

He shrugged, and waited for her to make a move.

Cameo took her time regaining her balance. Would she mention the compulsion to join him at the dangerous rupture of plaster and drywall? Would she acknowledge his attempt to utilize control over her?

Doubtful. Until Cameo understood and accepted his influence over her, she wouldn’t address the issue at all.

After today, she’d be forced to understand.

Drawing herself together in an efficient and practiced manner, she whisked aside fallen plastic sheeting and seated herself in the chair.

Adopting a de rigueur posture, she crossed long, very shapely legs and placed her hands in her lap. The turmoil vacated her expression, replaced with query. “Why?”

Smiling at her façade of serenity, Brax moved to sit at his desk across from her. Other than his desk, and now the chair she occupied, plastic adorned everything in the room to protect it from the demolition debris.

Studying her, Brax sat back at his leisure. The ensuing conversation would no doubt prove a fun interlude before the trials he’d impress on her. “He didn’t show up on time this morning.”

“Did he have a reason?”

“Not one that he called with in advance.” He loved how myriad emotions flashed through her expressive eyes. “Cameo, you of all people know that I won’t tolerate that type of unprofessional behavior.”

“You are strict,” she admitted before turning very businesslike. “I’ll compile a list of reputable and available contractors for you to peruse. I’ll have it ready within an hour.”

“That’s not necessary.” How long would it take her to catch on? How long would it take him to convince her?

“You intend to keep that... that...” She gestured toward the sign of demolition. “That?”

“Of course not.”

“Well... surely you want it repaired sooner rather than later.”

“By the end of the week, I’ll have sliding doors and a railed balcony. The walls will be repaired, sanded and painted.” He was not a man without influence. Enough money could solve most problems. But it couldn’t put a dent in his nightmare.

“But then..?”

Out of the Light, Into the ShadowAnticipation heightened. “I’m taking care of it myself.”

Her slim eyebrows nudged closer together. “You don’t want me to handle it for you?”

Damn, but even her frowns brought about the start of a boner. Cameo’s gentle, uncorrupted, moralistic ways made the perfect foil for his life of destruction.

His voice dropped, went rough but gentle. “Henceforth, Cameo, you will no longer serve in the capacity of my personal assistant.”

She stared at him. “You’re firing me?”

“I’m relieving you of those duties. Effective immediately.”

Time stood still. For long moments, she said nothing, did nothing, didn’t break the contact of their locked gazes.

Then her head tilted and she affected a look of mere curiosity - but he saw the hurt.

He felt the hurt.

“I see.” A proud smile lifted the corners of her full lips. “I suppose I lasted longer than most.”

Brax didn’t move. If he did, he’d grab her, crush her close, absorb her into himself. “Understand Cameo, it’s because you’re different from anyone I’ve met that you’ve lasted longer.” The tension inside him tightened.

It was a craving like no other.

For her.

He put his hands on the desk top. “That’s also why you can’t remain my personal assistant.”

In a sudden burst of energy, she left the chair. She looked to be at a loss as she started for the door, but then turned back. “I guess I’m grateful you didn’t have me hire my own replacement.”

“I’ll choose someone myself. I start interviewing tomorrow.”

Anger and hurt showed before she cloaked herself behind a shield of indifference. “You have everything taken care of then.”

“No.” Slowly, his desire for her a live, demanding thing, he left his chair and circled the desk. “Come here, Cameo.”

Her mouth quirked. “Ah, but I don’t take orders from you anymore.”

“I’m afraid you do.”

She said, “Ha!” even though he detected the many ways she strained to deny his lure.

Brax advanced every so slowly. He hadn’t planned to, but now he needed her to understand the altruism of his motive. “I could make this easier for you, Cameo, but I’m not going to.”

“This?” Alarm took her back a step, then she stopped and straightened her shoulders. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He couldn’t look away from her beautiful eyes. “In the long run, it’ll make you better able to accept certain things.”

“What things?” She turned and moved closer to the door before again facing him. With her hands behind her on the doorknob, she cast a nervous glance at the perilous hole in the broken wall. “You didn’t... didn’t hurt the contractor, did you?”

Out of the Light, Into the ShadowBrax paused to study her. “You believe I’m capable of causing him harm?”

“Oh, most definitely.” She didn’t shy away from the disturbing eye contact. “You’re capable of a great many things, not all of them good.”

 

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Read the excerpt from the Lori Foster novella, Have Mercy

 

 

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Out of the Light, Into the Shadow

 

 

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Anthology
Out of the Light, Into the Shadows
Lori Foster, L.L. Foster & Erin McCarty
4 STARS

This spicy supernatural anthology delivers four fast-paced love stories about vampires, Russian royalty and darkly passionate men. With their signature heat and heart Foster and McCarty deliver smart heroines and heroes readers will fall in love with. Plot twists and fully developed supporting characters add to the fun.

SUMMARY: In Lori Foster’s “Have Mercy,” Mercedes Jardine loves Wyatt Reyes, but they come from wildly different backgrounds. Can he bridge their pasts, or he will he lose the woman he loves? Foster’s L.L. incarnation explores “Total Control.” Brax has powers, but when his mind turns to seduction, his assistant Cameo may just be his perfect match.

Reviewed by Whitney Kate Sullivan, Romantic Times BOOKReviews


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Listen in on an interview podcast with L.L., where she discusses various charity ventures such as her annual "Reader & Author" event, her fantasy alias, and her newest books and novellas to hit the shelves. posted August 5, 2009


Rating: 4

Have Mercy by Lori Foster is the first story in the Out of the Light, Into the Shadows anthology. In this story, Mercedes Jardine has it all, a loving brother who dotes on her, financial security, and a new beau. As a matter of fact, she was headed straight to his house to declare her feelings for him. But she had more to say than just the typical “I love you”, she also planned to propose. The only problem with that is that Wyatt has made it clear that he has no intentions of ever marrying and having children-no way. Mercy has big plans; she just has to get Wyatt on board.
 
Next is Deal or No Deal by Erin McCarthy. Katie Stolin is a princess turned vampire who thought the love of her life had betrayed her and her family. Forced to watch them die, she and her brother were then turned and ninety years later are living in Vegas. When an old heirloom comes to light, she wears it to feel closer to her mom. Unfortunately, the necklace brings a betrayer to surface as well. It is also responsible for bringing Michael, her former love back. Michael will have to make Katie understand the past before they can move on.
 
Total Control by L. L. Foster is the next story. It picks up where HAVE MERCY left off with Brax’s story. Braxton Jardine is a man of many talents. He’s entirely too rich, seems to love lots of women and now has a new goal in the form of his personal assistant, Cameo Smithson. But there are some personal truths that he will have to share with Cameo before he can establish a more permanent relationship with her. He’s waited a long time to find the perfect woman, but she might not be able to accept what he really is.
 
It’s Erin McCarthy’s turn again with Undead Man's Hands. In this story, Nick Stolin is a vamp bodyguard. He is also the caretaker for a younger vamp that he turned approximately 100 years ago in order to save the young man’s life. The young man in question is 13 years old with the mind of an old man. Nick treats him like a son, even though he is a full-grown man in years. When women start turning up dead with their bodies drained of blood, Detective Jordan Waters becomes involved. She and Nick meet and an instant attraction leads to a relationship. Meanwhile, evidence starts pointing at Nick and he will have to explain a lot of things to Jordan, but will she be able to believe them?
 
Together, these authors have combined their talents to create four very interesting and enjoyable stories. Fans of Foster and McCarthy will enjoy these short stories that are perfect for a quick summer get-away.

Reviewed by Lori Sears, The Romance Readers Connection

Two pairs of linked novellas explore the boundaries of love and passion in this anthology by two of the genre's best-known writers. In Foster's "Have Mercy," Mercedes Jardine falls for a man with a tragic past and an unwillingness to wed until pregnancy intervenes. Mercy's brother Brax, a man with the ability to sense and control the emotions of others, finds a love he thought he could never trust enough to have in "Total Control" by Foster's darker alter ego, L.L. Foster. Erin McCarthy treats readers to the witty "Deal or No Deal" and "Undead Man's Hand," a lively pair of "Vegas Vampire" tales with a Czarist link that will appeal to series fans and new readers alike. VERDICT Sweet and touching or dark and dangerous, this sexy quartet has happy endings for all-dead or alive.

Reviewed by Library Journal

I loved how Lori Foster's (and her alter ego L.L. Foster's) and Erin McCarthy's stories connected. Lori's two tell the tales of siblings Mercy and Brax Jardine, and Erin's pair illustrate what could have happened to the missing Romanov heirs and their rescuer. After reading these four tantalizing tales, you're sure to understand why going Out of the Light, Into the Shadow could be the best choice you'll ever make. Don't miss this thoroughly entertaining read; these are authors who can always be counted on to make you laugh, make you sigh, and who always leave you feeling satisfied that you picked their books off the shelf.

Reviewed by Lori Ann, Romance Reviews Today

A fan of Lori Foster who moonlights in the paranormal world as L.L. Foster and Erin McCarthy with her feisty and funny tales of vampire love, it was certainly great to see these two (2) phenomenal authors pool their talents for such an awesome and delightfully decadent read. If you enjoy sensual romance that heats up your heart, you can't go wrong with the anthology  Out of the Light, Into the Shadows.

Reviewed by Lori Ann, Romance Reviews Today
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A video interview with Lori on Out of the Light, Into the Shadow and Back in Black.

 

Indulge in a free online read, Christmas Candi, in which Brax's uncle Amos Jardine gets his story.