Blurb & Excerpt:
TAKING THE STAGE
Roseâtre takes one look at the white tigers that the stage manager has brought in to shake things up at the Midnight Mystery Lounge, and nearly has a heart attack. It doesn’t matter that the beautiful creatures’ handler raises her pulse and makes her want to purr. The tigers are sure to recognize her—and arouse her need for the hunt.
outcast Anthony diNapoli wasn’t expecting to encounter an Amazon princess when
he brought his white tigers to the lounge. The lucrative show will go a long
way toward securing his future, but not if he gives in to the urge to make her
submit to his dominance, and claim her as his mate.
matter how desperately her body aches for the sun-kissed stranger and his completely
lickable abs, Roseâtre is no man’s prize. Yet she finds herself hungering for
Anthony to defeat her and take her for his own.
show time in the Arcana Royale’s Midnight Mystery Lounge and all bets are off.
Warning: Contains sword fights, shackles,
sexy showgirls, and a game of dominance between a determined weretiger and an
Amazon who refuses to submit. Blades, bliss and battles, oh my!
Taking the Stage
Soulgirls #2Release Date: Aug 13, 2013
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Diesel
|Kobo | Samhain
About the Author:
national best selling author, Heather Long lives in Texas with her family and
their menagerie of animals. In addition to military romance, Heather writes a
wide variety of romance from paranormal historical western romance to
contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She loves characters and the
stories they have to tell. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and
enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her
grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life
as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are
very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.
the following excerpt for Taking the Stage:
the toes.” Roseâtre refused to squeal. As lead dancer for the Arcana Royale’s
Midnight Mystery Lounge, she would never squeal or scream, but her voice
pitched high enough that the syllable at the end of toes cracked.
great white tiger snuffling her feet through the five-inch strappy
black-and-sapphire Louboutins rolled his head away. Instead of obeying, he
stroked a whiskered cheek down her bare leg.
Voice booming, the show’s stage manager hustled out from the wings. Heidi was a
brisk woman with a quick temper and a stout body, dedicated to creating the
best shows. After Pandora’s escape from her contract, she relied on all of her
girls to have the same dedication to the performance, Roseâtre more than most.
Pandora. She’d always made the lead
look easy. She’d walked out on the stage and owned the audience. Roseâtre
believed Pandora could have shared the stage with twelve chimpanzees and it
wouldn’t have mattered. Gazes would have been riveted to the tawny nymph.
white tiger stretched out his neck and yawned, showing off a mouthful of
glistening teeth. He flexed his paws, claws scoring the stage. She wasn’t
fooled by the sleepy-eyed expression or house-cat similarities. Big cats
rest of the dancers relaxed from their poses, some even dropping down to coo
and stroke the cats whose arrival had elicited a long round of awws and aren’t they sweets. Roseâtre, however, shifted away from the cat
with his tickling whiskers and raspy tongue.
Heidi beckoned, a pen behind one ear and a notebook tucked under her arm. She
pursed her lips in a you’re-not-in-trouble-yet moue, but the wrinkles knitting
her brow told an entirely different story.
ma’am?” Roseâtre didn’t drag her feet. One certainly never dragged Louboutins,
but she couldn’t quite resist displaying her mutiny with an uplifted chin and
nose twitched. Her sinuses burned. Her eyes threatened tears. But she
maintained her composure.
Damn cats. “Look,
I know you’re not thrilled with this idea.” The opening gambit was classic
Heidi, softening her up for the too-damn-bad often attached to those
together at the far end of the stage, Roseâtre was glad to be out of earshot of
her shield-sister Cerveau, the other dancers and thankfully, the damn tigers.
Midnight Mystery Lounge was closed for an entire week so the dancers could
learn this new act. She’d woken to the bad news that the diNapoli Tigers—tigers—were joining the show for a
three-month trial to drum up business in the magical casino and resort.
you’re just going to have to get over it. The apothecary will provide you with
a tea for your allergies. We need this show and you’re the headliner. That
means you and the tiger will be all over each other on that stage and you’re
going to love it.”
there it was, the verbal slap demanding submission. The command chafed. But a
promise was a promise and she was as bound by her oath as her shield-sister
Cerveau was by her curse.
there any way we can do this without cats?”
really, no.” The sympathy was real, but from Heidi’s compressed expression, the
stage manager was plainly not on Roseâtre’s side. “I’m sorry, Rose. But the
diNapoli Tigers were an enormous success in Monaco and Paris. We need them for
resurgence of interest or the Overseers may very well break up the show.”
Panic drifted under the surface of her skin, sending her heart puttering. The
Overseers controlled the Arcana Royale, the sprawling complex where meta-humans
of all types were welcome and could be themselves. They controlled the shows,
the people and in the case of the dancers, their souls. Breaking up the show
meant the dancers with varying leases on their souls could be placed elsewhere
at the Overseers’ discretion.
Roseâtre and Cerveau could be separated. Roseâtre couldn’t allow that to
happen. She’d sworn an oath. Pride could be sacrificed. Honor could not.
shield-borne oath was an oath.
try. It’s not just the allergy,
simple answer existed. Roseâtre glanced over her shoulder to where the great
cats lounged. Some groomed themselves while yet another rolled over on its
back, presenting its belly to Peppermint for attention. Of all the dancers,
Peppermint was the most gracious, the most loving and the most likely to enjoy
gamboling with the tigers on the stage.
assure you, nothing is wrong with my cats.” The dark, deep masculine tones
teased up her spine. She jerked her attention back to discover a bare-chested,
bare-footed blond god had joined them.
Oh my. Who did he kill to get
those abs? She
snapped her jaw shut with a flicker of irritation, and forced her gaze up from
the hard six-pack of clear-cut muscle to roam over the ripped planes of his
chest and shoulders.
Dear gods, does it end?
cool dislike in his blue eyes slapped her back to the present. Everything about
the man seemed larger than life, from his thick thighs, easily three times the
size of hers, to his wide hands and square, chiseled jaw.
Anthony diNapoli.” Heidi’s snapped introduction rebuked her. “Anthony, this is
our headliner, Roseâtre.”
Be professional. She extended her hand and
kept her gaze focused above his chin. Despite the five additional inches her
designer shoes added to her considerable height, topping at around six foot,
the man towered over her.
he inspected her with an air of detached amusement, his gaze clearly dipping
below her chin to where her breasts strained against the confinement of the
pleasure, I’m sure.” The bastard smiled and ignored her hand.
cats are in high demand, and he’s graciously consented to this trial contract
so we’re going to do the best we can to make the most of this situation.” Heidi
turned to Anthony as though unaware of the icy drop in Roseâtre’s regard.
“We’ll add extra rehearsal time so Roseâtre and her cat can get used to each other.”
We will? Incredulous, Roseâtre could
barely pull her eyes away from Anthony to look at the stage manager. “More
rehearsals?” Tired of holding her hand out to the air, she let it drop.
Heidi nodded briskly, clapping her hands and striding away to gather the
dancers, completely ignoring the cats with the poise of one who was likely more
dangerous than the wild animals. “Ladies!”
stood next to Kiki, Peppermint and Amber, the question in her expression
obvious, but Roseâtre shook her head, waving her off with one short hand
gesture. She didn’t need backup.
what’s your problem with cats, princess?” The words shivered up her spine.
Anthony’s voice prowled behind her, his body heat brushing against her in
challenge and invitation.
didn’t have to play nice. The bastard couldn’t be bothered to shake her hand.
might. You’re going to be riding my
tiger every night for the next three months.” The words dripped with mockery
and some other indefinable emotion.
shifted away, sparing him a dismissive look. She’d practiced the art of cool
disdain for years under her mother’s tutelage. He might call her princess in
his low, rolling sexy voice as a jest, but it didn’t make it any less true.
the problem now, princess?”
getting sarcasm on my shoes.” She lifted one, taking great care to inspect it.
threw his head back and laughed, a deep belly-trembling shout of amusement.
noise drew the dancers’ attention like children to free chocolate. Cerveau’s
face twisted comically, a mixture of censure and curiosity reddening her
cheeks. She wouldn’t approve the tone, but she would appreciate the cause.
still haven’t told me why you don’t like my cats.”
canted to the right, he studied her. The deep blue of his eyes was enhanced by
a circle of darker blue along the iris. His pupils seemed to blink on their
own, but that wasn’t possible. Roseâtre forced her gaze back to his dimples,
just barely disguised by the thick rush of blond beard coating his cheeks.
are magnificent, bold and affectionate creatures. They are slow to trust, but
have unshakable loyalty.”
you’re dead and then they just eat your corpse.” She shuddered.
laughed again. “You don’t need your body when you’re dead.”
was missing everything Heidi was saying to the other dancers. Clearly, the
stage manager didn’t care because she wasn’t even looking in Roseâtre’s
direction, much less shooting her with her optic laser beams of impatience.
rather my body was undisturbed, thank you very much. The idea of anything
feasting after I’m dead is unappealing.” Not to mention sacrilegious. A
warrior’s death should be honored with blades and flame, never teeth.
Or, the gods forbid, a hairball. Roseâtre grimaced.
you prefer they do it while you’re alive?” The silken whisper brushed against
her ear. Tingles raced over her skin from the sweep of his beard on her cheek.
leaping, Roseâtre barely managed to suppress her startled scream and settled
for smacking his chest. The hard muscles didn’t even budge as her hand made
contact, leaving a vivid, white mark against the golden tan.
really need to stop doing that.” Enough
is enough. The man might be here at Heidi’s request or the Overseers’, but his
job was to deal with the damn cats.
what?” The mock innocence coating his teasing grin reminded her more of the
tiger yawning than it did a conciliatory gesture.
my bubble.” She rolled her hand in the air between them. “You haven’t been
invited into my bubble.”
coolness in his gaze warmed considerably, his grin widened. He was obviously
enjoying the hell out of her irritation.
does one get invited into your bubble?” He batted the air in front of her, a downright
playful gesture that sank its claws into her belly.
Nope. Not going to be turned
I liked this installment a whole lot more than the first. Probably because all the world building had been done. I think it might also be that I liked Roseatre and Anthony a little better as well. This is a terrific new series in a unique environment. This isn't every other paranormal romance you've read and that alone makes it worth reading add in laugh out loud moments of humor and break out the ice cubes sex scenes and you have a book you can’t put down.
I’d like to thank the author for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.