Release Day Review: Mastered by Maya Banks

Mastered by Maya Banks

Mastered by Maya Banks
Series: The Enforcers #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 29th 2015
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

What he wants, he takes with no remorse or guilt.

She stood out in his club like a gem, unspoiled and untouched. A lamb among wolves, she clearly didn’t belong. Drawn to her innocence he watched as she was surrounded by men who saw what he did—but no one but him could touch her. He summoned her to his private quarters. He sensed her fear. He also recognized the desire in her eyes. And he knew she wouldn’t leave before he possessed her. She had no need to know his secrets. Not until he had her under his complete and utter control.

What he wants, she isn’t sure she can give him.

The moment he told her want he wanted, she couldn’t resist. Instinct told her to run, but her heart said stay and walk the fine line between pleasure and pain. Though she wasn’t sure she could ever completely surrender, the primal part of her wanted to try, even knowing this man could break her in ways she never imagined. Because once he possessed her, he owned her and it would be too late to turn back. She can only pray that he doesn’t destroy her in the end.

Mastered is the first book in Maya Banks’ The Enforcers series, and it tells the story of innocent and naive Evangeline being thrust into an erotic world that is completely out of her comfort zone. Drake Donovan is the lion to her lamb, and while Mastered should have been a cliché, I actually enjoyed it for the most part. It’s an exciting start to a new series that has a great potential to become even better.

Evangeline lost her virginity to a guy who only viewed her as a challenge, so her friends want her to get back at him by going to an exclusive club and showing him what he’s missing out on. Evangeline is shy and doesn’t have much confidence in herself, and even though she’s not a virgin anymore, she’s innocent in a lot of ways. But when she walks into Impulse, she has no idea that her entire life is going to change and that she’s going to be claimed by a rich, powerful man.

Drake Donovan is alpha to the max – he needs control in all things, and the one thing he can’t control is his need for Evangeline. Her innocence draws him, even when he knows he doesn’t deserve her, but he’s going to claim and dominate her anyway because what he wants, he gets.

What I liked most about Mastered was how Drake opens up Evangeline’s eyes toward herself and helps her develop her self-confidence and sexuality. Evangeline’s insecurity annoyed me in the beginning of the book, because she keeps repeating over and over how she never belongs anywhere, but with Drake’s help, the way she views herself starts to change and she becomes more endearing than anything to me by the end of the book. What was also sweet was the friendships that grew between Evangeline and Drake’s best friends. I adored the way all these hardened, alpha males became so smitten with her!

Mastered is book 1 of 2 in Drake and Evangeline’s story. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book, because I did not expect that cliffhanger ending in Mastered! If you’re a fan of steamy, kinky books with a dominating alpha billionaire and a heroine who is his complete opposite, then I’d recommend this book.

3.5 hearts
lacey


Reading Order: The Enforcers series

Mastered by Maya Banks Dominated by Maya Banks Kept by Maya Banks

#1 ~ Mastered: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Dominated: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads (May 3, 2016)
#3 ~ Kept: Paperback • Goodreads (Nov. 1, 2016)


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Release Day Review: Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks

Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks

Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks
Series: KGI #10 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…

The enigmatic Hancock has been both opponent and ally to the KGI teams for as long as they’ve known him. Always working a deep game, Hancock’s true allegiance has never been apparent, but one thing is for certain—he never lets anything get in the way of duty.

But now, his absolute belief in the primacy of his ultimate goal is challenged by a captive he’s been ordered to guard, no matter how much she suffers in her prison. She’s the only woman who’s ever managed to penetrate the rigid walls surrounding his icy heart, but will he allow his perplexing feelings for the beautiful victim to destroy a mission he’s spent years working to complete or will he be forced to sacrifice her for “the greater good.”

This is my first KGI book, though it’s not my first Maya Banks read. I was previously a big fan of the books I have read from her, so I was excited to read Darkest Before Dawn, and plus, I love a good romantic suspense. It wasn’t too difficult to get into this book, given that I haven’t read any of the other KGI books, but unfortunately, what prevented me from fully enjoying this was the insane amount of repetition. The premise of Darkest Before Dawn had great potential, but I would’ve enjoyed this book so much more if a ton of the narrative had been cut shorter.

Honor Cambridge is on the run from a terrorist organization out to kill her, trying to survive one day at a time in the Middle East. She’s a headstrong, fierce, honorable woman who’s been through so much yet still keeps her head held high. She’s close to freedom until Hancock intercepts her journey – she believes he’s there to save her, but little does she know that she’s a pawn on his chessboard.

Hancock is a mercenary – deadly, cold, unfeeling, and loyal to his duty to a fault. He and his men do things that no one else wants to do in order to help the ‘greater good’. Unfortunately, when that means sacrificing a sole person for the greater good, then that’s what he must do. Hancock’s objective is to take down Maksimov, an evil man who’s killed thousands of people, and the only way to get access to Maksimov is through Honor. So Hancock sets it up so that she believes he’s taking her to freedom, when in fact he’s leading her something worse than death. But what happens when he grows to care for his captive, and wants to make a life with her?

While I really enjoyed Honor’s character, Hancock was a miss for me. I got annoyed when he kept going on and on about the ‘greater good’ and trying to reason with himself that what he was doing to Honor would be worth it. Honor was the main reason I was able to keep reading, though the repetition of everything got old fast. I found myself skimming chunks of the book to get to the dialogue, because all the unnecessary details were just too boring.

I really wish this book could’ve been shortened, because I did enjoy the action and suspense. I liked the way the romance played out, that it wasn’t too rushed or too fast. Darkest Before Dawn was mainly an okay read – I wish I could’ve loved it more, but it was just too wordy for my taste.

3 hearts
lacey


Reading Order: KGI series

  
  
  
 Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks

#1 ~ The Darkest Hour: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ No Place to Run: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Hidden Away: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Whispers in the Dark: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#5 ~  Echoes at Dawn: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#5.5 ~ Softly at Sunrise: Ebook • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Shades of Gray: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#7 ~ Forged in Steel: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#8 ~ After the Storm: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#9 ~ When Day Breaks: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#10 ~ Darkest Before Dawn: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Blog Tour + Excerpt & Giveaway: Safe At Last by Maya Banks

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Safe At Last by Maya Banks!

Safe At Last by Maya Banks

Safe At Last by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #3 (full reading order below)
Release Date: June 23rd 2015
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The third book in the beloved #1 bestselling author’s sexy, romantic suspense Slow Burn series…

They say young love doesn’t last, but a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with unique abilities and the hometown golden boy were determined to defy the odds. For Zack Covington, Anna-Grace-his “Gracie”–was the one.

But one night forever altered the course of their future; when a devastated Gracie disappeared without a trace, Zack was left to agonize over what happened to the girl he loved. As the years passed, his desperate efforts to find her uncovered nothing. Now working for Devereaux Security, he stumbles across a painting featuring a special place only he and Gracie would know. The image is too perfectly rendered for it to be coincidence. His Gracie must be alive. When he comes face to face with her, he is shocked-and heartbroken-to discover the wounded shell of the girl he once knew and still loves. Her psychic gifts are gone, and worse, she believes he betrayed her all those years ago.

Zack has enemies, and once his weakness is discovered, Gracie becomes a target for revenge. He’ll have to save her before he can earn her trust and her love. And he vows they’ll never be torn apart again.

Buy Links:
Amazon Ebook • Amazon Paperback • B&N • iTunes • Kobo • BAM

Now here’s Chapter One from Safe At Last! ❤

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Chapter 1

Zack Covington simmered with impatience as he waited for the go signal from his teammates. He didn’t exactly know what was going on in the basement of the McMansion—one not unlike he’d once dreamed of building for the girl he’d planned to spend forever with—but knew it wasn’t good. Sometimes bad lurked in seemingly benign locations. People existed in denial it could happen in their little corner of the earth. How very wrong they were.

It was a lesson he’d learned the learned the hard way. Coming from a small town nestled against the shores of Kentucky Lake, he’d thought—just as most of its citizens, likely—that they were impervious to bad. And Zack? He was more confident than most, because his father was the chief of police, and he’d grown up knowing his father’s job was to ensure the safety of the town, regardless of size.

But he’d damn sure failed when it came to Gracie. Everyone had failed her and Zack had lead the pack. His father’s refusal to use county resources on someone who didn’t belong anyway had caused a rift between him and his father that to this day hadn’t been mended.

It never would be.

Zack sighed as he contemplated the stately homes, the expensive cars, swimming pools behind high privacy fences and the immaculately landscaped yards. The white collar families who resided in the gated community that boasted top notch security would be horrified to know that evil lurked in their midst. The irony of it all, was that the affluent neighborhood had recently been voted the safest and most desirable communities to live in the greater Houston area. Hell, it had scored in the top five in the entire state of Texas and in the top twenty for the whole country. So yeah, these people were utterly convinced that they were safe.

But he knew better. Inside was a child. Just a baby. Well, not so much a baby as she was only two years younger than his Gracie. Goddamn it. Not here. Not now. It was no time for the past to intrude. Besides Gracie was hardly the beautiful, innocent sixteen year old girl he’d loved over a decade ago. She’d be twenty-eight now.

If she was even alive.

And she wasn’t “his” Gracie anymore. She wasn’t his anything.

Maybe he hadn’t been able to save Gracie. Maybe he’d failed her. But over his dead body was he going to fail this young girl whose dreams were as big as the sun. Not when the two most important people in her life—or at least should have been the most important—had failed her in every possible way.

Alyssa Delacroix had been a very promising ballerina at a very early age, a fact her mother had taken pride in when she’d participated in kindergarten recitals, received high praise and glowing local and state accolades. Later, when the demands of her training had encroached on both mother and father’s social lives, Alyssa had fallen far down the list of their priorities.

Until the father had received pointed threats, aimed at Alyssa.

The Delacroix’s had five children with Alyssa being the middle child, with two older brothers and two younger sisters. When Howard Delacroix had called in DSS, it had disgusted Zack that the man seemed irritated, not that his daughter was being threatened, but that he wasn’t the subject of the threat. It was a blow to his ego that evidently he was not as important as his daughter.

Pompous, arrogant pig who had no business having children. His wife was no better.  Zack could only dream of the life they had—a life he once thought he would have—a houseful of children. Happy. And yet the couple was more concerned with their social standing than the care of their children.

They’d hired a nanny and it was the nanny who attended all sports events, dance recitals and provided the love and support the parents should have. And now she was dead, shot when trying to protect one of the younger Delacroix children when masked men had burst into the auditorium where the dance recital was being held, cut the lights, causing instant chaos when gunfire erupted.

The father? Had dropped like a fucking coward, hiding behind his wife, while the nanny had saved his son. Zack would like to put a bullet right between the asshole’s eyes for that alone.

The only reason Howard and Felicity Delacroix had even been there hadn’t been to see their daughter shine. They’d attended solely because the CEO of another oil company also had a daughter performing and Howard was in negotiations to merge the two companies because the competitor was looking to retire and Howard wanted to take over both companies and expand his “empire.” Hell, he and his wife hadn’t even sat with their children, leaving the nanny to tend to them while they sat a row back talking business while their daughters’ performed.

The target had been Alyssa. And Alyssa had been Zack’s responsibility. Hell, she was all of DSS’s responsibility, but Zack had been the closest, and in the clusterfuck that had ensued, a hysterical woman had blocked his pathway to Alyssa, a mere foot away, getting shot in the process and Alyssa had been abducted in a professionally executed hit.

This was no amateur operation, and Zack had to wonder why someone would go to such lengths to kidnap the child of a high profile oil mogul when the man took absolutely no security precautions, and if any research on Delacroix had been done at all and ransom had been the aim, he would have been the obvious choice.

He’d give up a hell of a lot of money for his own life. But for his children? Even Zack knew the answer to that, and he’d only briefly made the man’s acquaintance. He’d despised him on site because he grudgingly had to part with some of his precious money to protect his daughter for “appearance’s sake.” After all, it wouldn’t do for it to get out that a father had ignored threats to his child, and above all else, Howard Delacroix had an ego the size of the state he resided in.

When the silence through his earpiece continued—and he’d already waited an interminable amount of time—Zack lost what was left of his patience. Fuck it. He was going in. The Delacroix’s may not give two fucks about their daughter, but Zack did, and he wasn’t about to sit on his hands when each passing second could mean the difference between life and death.

Stealthily, he crept toward the window of the guest room. DSS had pulled the floor plans of the housing developments—they were cookie cutter houses after all—and quietly inserted his knife around the edges and bottom of the window to loosen the panes. Only when he was able to slide the window upward, did he whisper into the com, “I’m in.”

He ignored the curses of Dane, heard an “about time” muttered by Eliza, while Capshaw and Renfro said nothing at all.

Zack slid into the bedroom with ease and quickly drew his gun with silencer attached with one hand and reached for a flash bang grenade with the other. He knew the layout by heart having studied it until it was ingrained in his mind.

The house was eerily dark when he slipped from the bedroom, but in the distance, the sound of a television could be heard. His partners could cover the front. His aim was the lower level and he honed in on his target with absolute focus.

A shadow appeared in his periphery and he immediately flattened himself against the wall just as a man rounded the corner, heading directly toward Zack. A quick assessment told him this wasn’t a resident of the house. He was dressed in fatigues and a black shirt, a shoulder harness holding a pistol and several Kevlar knives secured to his waist. What the fuck did these jokers want with a fourteen-year-old girl? Were they running some sort of human trafficking ring? And if so, why the one girl? There had been over two dozen girls between the ages of eight and eighteen at the recital. In the utter chaos that had ensued, they could have grabbed several others.

Zack yanked his gun up just as the other man spotted him and did the same. But Zack had the element of surprise and only the thud of a dead body falling broke the quiet.

“One down,” Zack said quietly into the comm. “And these guys are trained. Watch your sixes.”

“Goddamn it, Zack,” Beau hissed. “Wait for back-up.”

“Alyssa may not have time for back-up,” Zack bit back, moving toward the stairway at the end of the hall.

He paused at the top and peered downward, his ears straining for any sound to indicate movement up the stairs. What he heard froze him to the core.

Soft weeping. The sound of pain and despair. And it broke his heart.

Resisting the urge to rush recklessly the rest of the way down the stairs, he forced himself to take it step by step, making sure he made no sound as he descended when his every instinct was to charge in and take out the fuckers who’d taken and hurt an innocent child.

He paused at the bottom because there was only a small area between the bottom of the stairwell and the wall. He would have to round the corner to enter the larger area of the room. Where Alyssa was being held. Where soft weeping could still be heard.

He couldn’t lob the flash bang grenade, because it would be devastating to Alyssa, and she could be executed in a split second once her kidnappers were aware they’d been found. As schooled as Zack believed them to be, they’d likely been exposed to them before—and trained to withstand the effects while adequately defending themselves. Or taking out the enemy.

Inhaling a quiet breath, he gripped his knife in his left hand and curled his fingers on his right hand around the stock of the pistol, just brushing the trigger. The sight that greeted him would live with him until his dying breath.

Alyssa, bloodied, bruised, pale with shock, eyes glazed with pain and the sheen of tears was manacled to the brick chimney base. It was like something out of a medieval horror movie.

But worse was seeing who her tormentor was.

Zack didn’t move. Didn’t so much as breathe, praying the girl holding a knife to Alyssa’s neck wouldn’t be alerted to his presence and slice through the delicate skin.

“Why are you doing this to me, Lana?” Alyssa whispered, choking on her tears as she stared dully at her tormentor. “I thought we were friends!”

“Because with you out of the picture, I’ll be the best. Not you,” the teenage girl hissed. “It’s always been about you. I’m sick of hearing about how great Alyssa is. How talented. How you’re destined for stardom. What does anyone say about me? Runner up. To you. Always second place. Now I’ll be the star and no one will even remember your name.”

Jesus. Zack recognized the girl. She’d performed just before Alyssa, and obviously displayed talent, but from the moment Alyssa had taken the stage, it had been equally evident that Alyssa had clearly outshone the other girl.

The sheer hatred for Alyssa was obvious in her rival’s voice. The malicious triumph in her voice sickened Zack. A thin rivulet of blood slipped down Alyssa’s neck and she gave a small cry, more of distress and fear than of pain.

What was more horrifying was that there was no way this girl could have pulled off a plan so flawlessly. Nor would she have knowledge of such men capable of executing a professional hit. Which meant her parents not only knew what was happening in the basement of their home but had likely masterminded the entire event.

Zack had to act fast. He was very good at reading people and he didn’t doubt for a second that the jealous teenage girl would kill Alyssa if he didn’t step in now. In no way did he want to kill a teenage girl, just a child—but no, this was no child. She was a cold-blooded psychopath who thought nothing of removing someone she perceived as competition.

And then the decision was ripped from him when Alyssa glanced past her captor and betrayed his presence by widening her eyes in alarm. Thankfully, the girl lowered the knife and turned, perhaps thinking he was one of the men who’d abducted Alyssa. But when her gaze settled on him, she raised the hand holding the knife, her expression so vicious it gave him chills. Then she turned, clearly directing the knife toward Alyssa’s chest.

It all happened in a split second, and yet it was as though everything was in slow motion.

Alyssa screamed, straining sideways to avoid the wicked edge of the knife. Zack fired, his aim precise, penetrating Lana’s arm just above the wrist, causing the knife to drop. Lana’s scream mimicked Alyssa’s own and yet the obvious pain the bullet wound must have caused didn’t deter her from her determined vendetta.

She lunged at Alyssa, scratching furiously at Alyssa’s face while her other hand hung uselessly at her side.

Goddamn it!

Zack hurled himself forward, grabbing a fistful of the hell cat’s hair and yanked her back. In his ear, two voices were demanding a status report. He ignored both, more worried about defending Alyssa from further harm if someone not on his team came down the stairs.

“I’ll kill you!” Lana screamed, turning her fury on Zack.

And just as suddenly, her anger turned to triumph as she turned a spiteful look in Alyssa’s direction.

“You’re too late anyway,” she said smugly.

Zack didn’t pause to consider what the crazy ass girl meant. He shoved her down into a nearby chair and handcuffed her uninjured wrist to the arm. This time it was she who gave away the presence of another. Relief flared in her eyes and Zack immediately dropped and rolled toward Alyssa, placing his body between her and any possible threat.

His gun was up and he didn’t hesitate when he saw a man who was similarly attired as the one Zack had already taken down on the upper level. He didn’t have time to go for the kill shot but put a bullet in the assailant’s upper leg. Judging by the blood pumping from the wound as the man went down, it was likely Zack had hit his femoral artery. If that was the case, the man was finished and would bleed out in a matter of seconds.

Still, not one to assume anything, he took aim and put a second bullet through the downed man’s neck.

“Goddamn it, where the fuck is everyone?” Zack demanded, addressing his teammates for the first time. “Alyssa’s in the basement and two of the kidnappers are dead. Anyone care to offer some back up here?”

“Well, if you’d been a little more patient, you’d have gotten your back up,” Dane said dryly.

“If I’d waited any longer, Alyssa would be dead right now,” Zack snapped.

“We’ve cleared the main level,” Eliza broke in. “On our way now. And Zack, this is some fucked up shit we’re dealing with.”

“You don’t even know the half of it,” Zack said grimly.

Satisfied that he’d encounter no further nasty surprises, Zack picked himself up and quickly freed Alyssa’s wrists, using the key lying on a table just a few feet away. As soon as she was free, she threw her arms around him and sobbed into his neck. He closed his eyes, cupping the back of her head as he gently stroked her hair.

“It’s all right now, sweetheart. You’re safe now.”

“No it’s not,” she said with gulping sobs. “It’ll never be all right again.”

She clung tightly to him her grief causing a knot to form in Zack’s throat. The world was filled with all kinds of sick, twisted fucks, but even this had the power to surprise him. That someone so young was so evil and…sick. He didn’t have words.”

“Can you get up or do you need me to carry you?” Zack said, using a soothing, calming voice. “How badly are you hurt?”

At his question, she completely fell apart, her cries so hopeless that it enraged him that such innocence had been destroyed. But even then, he wasn’t prepared for her answer.

“She broke my knees,” Alyssa sobbed. “She made it so I’ll never dance again. Dancing was all I had and now it’sgone. She was supposed to be my friend. We were going to room together, go to the same performing arts academy. Oh God. What if I never walk again?”

Zack went utterly still with shock. As gently as he could, considering he was shaking with rage, he pulled her away, just enough that he could evaluate her legs. He hadn’t seen them before. He’d been too focused on Lana and the knife she’d held and the fear in Alyssa’s eyes.

And what he saw horrified him.

The leotards she’d worn in her recital were torn and bloodied, impossibly stretched by massive swelling caused by trauma to the kneecaps. He’d never felt so sick in his life. Not since the day…

He shook his head, refusing to go back to that time in his life. There was a young girl who needed him right now. He was all that had stood between her and death. And to her, such a devastating injury was tantamount to death.

He very carefully slid one arm underneath her thighs, above the backs of her knees and below her behind and the secured his other arm around her upper body, hooking it underneath her armpit.

“This will hurt, honey, but I have to get you out of here and to a hospital where it’s safe. Perhaps your injuries aren’t as severe as you fear.”

Devastation and doubt were clear in her tear-swollen eyes, but she clamped her lips shut and leaned into him, not uttering a single sound as he lifted her and carried her past Lana who was still handcuffed to the chair.

“What about me?” Lana shrieked. “You shot me!”

Zack turned his cold gaze on her, ensuring Alyssa’s head was tucked firmly beneath his chin, her face buried against his neck so she would no longer have to lay eyes on her torturer.

“Sue me,” he growled.

Reading Order: Slow Burn series

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks In His Keeping by Maya Banks Safe At Last by Maya Banks

#1 ~ Keep Me Safe: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ In His Keeping: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Safe At Last: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (June 23, 2015)

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Maya BanksMaya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.

She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

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Paperback of Keep me Safe and In His Keeping by Maya Banks (US residents only)

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Blog Tour + Excerpt & Giveaway: In His Keeping by Maya Banks

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for In His Keeping by Maya Banks! Check out an excerpt of the book below and enter the fantastic giveaway!

In His Keeping by Maya Banks

In His Keeping by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #2 (full reading order below)
Release Date: January 27th 2015
Publisher: Avon
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#1 bestselling author Maya Banks continues her suspenseful and steamy Slow Burn trilogy with this second book-a twisting tale featuring a strong yet vulnerable heroine in danger and the sexy alpha hero who must save her.

Abandoned as a baby to a young wealthy couple and raised in a world of privilege, Arial has no hint of her past or who she belonged to. Her only link lies in the one thing that sets her apart from everyone else—telekinetic powers. Protected by her adoptive parents and hidden from the public to keep her gift secret, Ari is raised in the lap of luxury, and isolation. That is, until someone begins threatening her life.

Beau Devereaux is no stranger to the strange. As the head of Deveraux Security, he’s more than familiar with the realities of physic powers. So when a family friend approaches him about protecting his daughter, he’s more than ready to jump on board. What Beau isn’t prepared for is the extent of his attraction to his beautiful and powerful client. What began as a simple assignment, just another job, quickly turns personal as Beau discovers he’ll do anything at all to protect Ari. Even if it costs him his life.

Buy Links:
Amazon Ebook • Amazon Paperback • Barnes • iTunes • Kobo

Now here’s an excerpt from In His Keeping! ❤

excerpt

She’d gotten pregnant right away, to both their delight. Only for her to miscarry a few short weeks later. And so had begun their nightmare of endless hope and then dismay. The final straw had come when she’d  become pregnant again earlier this year, after four miscarriages. She’d made it beyond the stage where her previous pregnancies had ended. They’d begun to become excited and hope bloomed that they’d finally, finally managed to make it happen.

At five months pregnant, after having learned that she was having what he wanted most—a little girl—and they’d bonded with the  child, felt her first movements and had even begun to decorate the nursery, something they’d never allowed them- selves to do before, tragedy had struck and she’d miscarried. The worst part was that she’d had to deliver the baby, a tiny, perfectly formed baby girl.

Ginger  had been devastated. For months  she’d  been list- less and adrift, and he’d never felt more helpless in his life. He loved her so much and he would have taken any amount of pain he could from her, but it had been hell for her, and after she’d healed physically, she’d never mentioned trying to have another child again.

Even now when he offered his gentle encouragement that they’d  try again, she refused. He  couldn’t blame her, but  he hated the idea of him not being able to fix this for her. In his world, nothing was impossible. Money, while not  a cure-all, certainly made lots of things happen, but all the money in the world, all the power in the world didn’t help his beautiful wife achieve her heart’s desire.

As if sensing the dark direction of his thoughts, she reached up to cup the hard line of his jaw, her smile achingly sweet and eyes full of understanding.

“You’re all I need. All I want,” she said simply. “Swear you’ll never leave me for someone who can give you children. Swear that to me and I’ll never ask you for more.”

He was genuinely shocked to his bones. He stared at her in absolute befuddlement, growing angrier by the second. Not  at her. But at himself. Because if he’d made her feel as secure as she needed then she’d never question such a thing. That thought— fear—would never have entered her mind.

He framed her beautiful face in his hands and simply held her there, staring into the hypnotic brown of her soulful eyes.

“I only care that we can’t have children because I know how much it hurts you,” he said hoarsely. “I’d  do anything at all to spare you this, Ginger. I’m so damn sorry I’ve failed you.”

She put a finger to his lips. “Shhh. Gavin, you haven’t failed me. You’ve given me child after child. It’s me who’s failed you, because I can’t carry them. My body rejects them.”

Her eyes closed as she said the last, and tears leaked silently down her cheeks.

“I couldn’t bear it if you ever grew to resent me for that,” she continued in a broken voice. “I never want you to look at me and see what I can’t give you. Something another woman could.”

He  pulled  her  tightly  into  his  arms,  wrapping  himself around her until she relaxed and melted against his body.

“There will never be another woman for me,” he said gruffly.

“I’ll  never want for more than you can give me. I swear it on my very life, Ginger. My heart and soul belong to you. You own them—and me. And I hope to hell I own yours as well.”

“I love you,” she whispered. “Now do me a favor and put the angel up for me, and our tree will be complete.”

But it wouldn’t  be and they both knew it. A simple ornament lay nestled in a box where the other ornaments were stored. Baby’s First Christmas and the year engraved on the commemorative sterling silver baby spoon.

If all had gone as it should, she’d be delivering in a matter of days. A Christmas baby, she’d exclaimed in delight, when the doctor had given them the due date. Even now she would be swollen and heavy with his child, and he’d be rubbing her feet for her and holding her in his arms feeling their daughter kick and roll between them.

Ginger pulled away and carefully unwound the bubble wrap from the delicate porcelain angel tree topper. Using the step stool, Gavin reached up and carefully put the last decoration in place.

“It’s perfect,” she whispered, eyes bright with tears.

Reading Order: Slow Burn series

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks In His Keeping by Maya Banks Safe At Last by Maya Banks

#1 ~ Keep Me Safe: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ In His Keeping: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Safe At Last: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (June 23, 2015)

about the author

Maya BanksMaya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.

She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

giveaway

Three Print Bundles of KEEP ME SAFE and IN HIS KEEPING

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour + Excerpt & Giveaway: Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for KEEP ME SAFE by Maya Banks! Check out the entire first chapter of the book below and enter the fantastic giveaway!

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks
Series: Slow Burn #1 (full reading order below)
Release Date: October 7th 2014
Publisher: Avon
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A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks

When Caleb Devereaux’s younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.

While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.

Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie’s vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will do risk everything to protect her—including his heart. . . .

Buy Links:
Amazon Ebook • Amazon Paperback • Barnes & Noble • iTunes • Kobo

Now here’s chapter one of Slow Burn! ❤

excerpt

Chapter 1

Caleb Devereaux turned out of the sharp switchback and onto the driveway leading up to the tiny mountain cabin, swearing when he hit pothole after pothole. Fury and impatience simmered in his blood but the anticipation of having finally found Ramie St. Claire after an exhaustive search kept his mood from being completely black.

Ramie was his sister, Tori’s, only hope.

The moment Tori was kidnapped, Caleb had begun his search for Ramie St. Claire. She certainly wasn’t the first person on most people’s go-to list when looking for a loved one. Ramie was psychic and had been helpful in locating victims in the past. While many would be skeptical, Caleb absolutely believed in Ramie’s abilities.

His own sister had psychic abilities.

He and his brothers, Beau and Quinn, had always been extremely overprotective of their baby sister. With good reason. Caleb was the head of a veritable empire. Security was always top priority. They’d always feared kidnapping for ransom, but in their worst nightmares they’d never imagined that Tori would simply disappear and be at the mercy of a madman.

There’d been no ransom demand. Simply a video of Tori bound hand and foot and the maniacal laughter of her captor as he told Caleb to kiss his sister goodbye.

He just prayed he wasn’t too late. God, don’t let it be too late for Tori.

It infuriated him that Ramie St. Claire had simply dropped off the map three months ago. No trace of her, no forwarding address. No evidence that she even existed. How could she simply disappear when she was such an invaluable aid in finding kidnap victims and missing persons? How selfish of her to simply refuse, by her actions, to help anyone?

He’d worked himself into a rage by the time he finally pulled up to the small cabin that looked as though it wouldn’t weather the upcoming winter at all. He wasn’t even certain there would be electricity. Only a person determined not to be found would live in a place like this.

He got out and strode to the ramshackle front door, his fist up and pounding. The door shook and rattled under the force of his knock. Only silence greeted him and it sent his blood pressure soaring.

“Miss St. Claire!” he roared. “Answer the goddamn door!”

He beat on the door again, shouting again for her to answer. He likely looked and sounded like the madman holding his sister, but at this point he didn’t care. He was beyond desperation. It had taken every resource available to him to finally track Ramie down. No way in hell he was leaving until he’d gotten the information he’d come for.

Then the door swung open and he was greeted by the sight of a petite woman with wary, gray eyes. He was momentarily taken aback, going silent as he stared at Ramie St. Claire for the first time in person.

The photos he’d seen of her didn’t do her justice. There was a delicate air to her as though she were recovering from an illness, but it in no way detracted from her beauty. She looked…fragile. He felt a brief moment of guilt for what he was about to ask her to do, but he brushed it away. There was no price too high to pay for his sister’s life.

“I can’t help you.”

Her softly spoken words slid like velvet over his ears, a direct contrast from the anger her refusal caused. He hadn’t even made his request yet and she was already giving him the brush-off.

“You don’t even know what it is I want,” he said in an icy tone that would wither most people.

“It’s rather obvious,” she said wearily, fatigue drooping her eyelids. “Why else would you come all this way? I don’t even want to know how you found me. It’s obvious I did a piss poor job of covering my tracks if you managed to find me here.”

Caleb frowned. Had she been ill? Was that why she’d dropped out of sight so she could recover? It didn’t matter why now that he’d found her. He didn’t care what her reasons were.

“With your abilities why would you purposely make yourself difficult to find?” he demanded. “My sister’s life is at stake here, Miss St. Claire. I’m not merely asking you to help me. I’m not leaving until you do.”

She shook her head adamantly, fear chasing the lethargy from her eyes. “I can’t.”

There was quiet desperation to her words that told him there was more to her refusal than what appeared on the surface. Something was wrong and yet he couldn’t summon any regret for forcing her compliance. Not when Tori’s life hung in the balance.

He reached inside his jacket and pulled out Tori’s scarf. The one item they’d found at the sight where she must have been taken. In the parking lot of a grocery store beside the open door of her car. He should have never let her go alone. He’d failed her. Failed to protect her. Failed to ensure proper security.

Ramie immediately backed away, a desperate cry on her lips. He shoved forward, forcing the scarf into her hands and holding her and the scarf so there was no escape. She emitted a broken sob and she looked up at him, stricken, her face going unnaturally pale. Her pupils flared and then clouded, pain and devastation clearly outlined on her features.

“No,” she whispered. “Not again. Oh God, not again. I won’t survive it.”

Her knees buckled and she would have gone down, but he caught her, ensuring the scarf never lost contact with her hands. He watched in horror as Ramie’s body sagged, slipping from his grasp despite his best effort to support her weight. She was simply lifeless, as limp as a rag doll. He quickly followed her down to the floor, determined that she not lose her grip on Tori’s scarf. But it didn’t seem to matter now. Ramie was somewhere else.

Her eyes glazed over and her body began to twitch spasmodically. She curled into a fetal position, the fragility of such a self-protective measure gutting him. She moaned softly and then began to weep.

“Please don’t hurt me again. Please, I’m begging you. I can’t take any more. If you’re going to kill me, just do it. Quit torturing me.”

Chill bumps spread rapidly up Caleb’s nape as Ramie’s voice, which sounded nearly identical to Tori’s, filled his ears. Dear God, was he witnessing what was happening to his sister through Ramie?

The scene Ramie was painting was horrifying. Not only for the fact that his sister was even now enduring the absolute worse. But from all appearances, Ramie was suffering with her.

He’d certainly done his research on Ramie St. Claire’s abilities but there was little information beyond her astonishing success record. No mention of how she managed to help victims or what it did to her. God help them all. What had he done?

Her body jerked and it took only a moment for Caleb to realize what was happening. It was too unmistakable. Bile rose in his throat and he had to suck in steadying breaths to keep from heaving the contents of his stomach on the floor. Tears burned his eyelids as he helplessly watched his sister being raped through the window of Ramie’s awareness.

Ramie’s weeping tore at his heart and he gathered her into his arms, not knowing what else to do but rock her gently. “Tori?” He whispered his sister’s name experimentally, not knowing if a link had been established through Ramie. “Can you hear me? It’s Caleb. Tell me where you are, honey. I’ll come for you. Hold on please. Don’t give up, no matter how bad it is.”

Ramie’s head jerked sideways and the imprint of a hand immediately appeared on her cheek. Caleb was horrified, unsure of what to do now that he’d crossed a line he couldn’t come back from. He tried to push back his guilt, telling himself that anything that helped him recover his sister was worth it. But was torturing an innocent woman worth it?

He hadn’t given her a choice. She’d told him no and yet he’d forced this on her not knowing the heavy toll it would take. He had no idea how her powers worked and now that he did he was sick to his soul. No wonder she’d been so resistant. No wonder she’d told him she couldn’t do it anymore.

“Ramie. Ramie!” he said in a more forceful voice. “Come back to me, Ramie. Come back so you can tell me how to find her.”

Ramie’s eyes were opened but so distant that he knew she wasn’t here. The imprint of the hand on her face was bright and vivid, red against deathly white skin. There was a look of such defeat and despair in her eyes that once again he found himself battling tears.

Suddenly she hunched inward, her entire body jolting as though absorbing a blow. She wrapped her arms around her stomach and he realized that she’d been kicked. Or rather Tori had been kicked. It was a horrific, helpless feeling to know that two women were being victimized, one because of him.

Then she simply rolled away, her cheek lying against the cold floor, her eyes fixed and vacant. She was completely still and terror gripped him. Was Tori dead? Oh dear God! Had he just witnessed his sister’s murder?

“Ramie! Wake up! God, please wake up. Tell me how to find her. Tell me that she’s still alive!”

He picked Ramie’s slight weight up, swearing because she was so thin and fragile, weighing nothing in his arms. He carried her to the worn sofa and carefully laid her down, not wanting to hurt her any more than she’d already been hurt.

He sat on the edge, gathering her icy hands in his, rubbing, trying to infuse warmth. He had no idea what to do. Should he take her to a hospital?

Then after several long moments, she blinked and seemed to come out of her trance. Pain immediately swamped her features and she began to silently weep again, each tear cutting him to ribbons.

“Is she still alive?” he asked anxiously. “Do you know how to find her?”

“Yes,” Ramie said dully.

Hope surged in his heart and he found himself nearly crushing her hands in his.

“Tell me where,” he urged.

Slowly and painfully she whispered the location down to the minutest detail. Chills once again slithered up his spine at the precision in which she described not only the location but the kidnapper. She even provided a license plate number.

He picked up his phone and immediately called his brother, relaying the information that Ramie had provided. When he was done, he stared helplessly down at Ramie, grateful and yet deeply regretful for what he’d just subjected her to.

“What do I need to do to help you?” he asked softly.

Resignation dulled her eyes even further. “There’s nothing you can do,” she said in a flat voice. “Just go.”

“The hell I’ll just leave you here!”

He was already calculating in his head that he could simply bring her with him. He could get her the care she so obviously needed at the same time Tori was receiving what she needed.

“Your sister needs you. Just go. I’ll be fine.”

The lie was so obvious, but it seemed to be all she could muster. He was torn between rushing to be with Tori and staying to ensure Ramie would be all right. But how could she be? Two women would live with this for the rest of their lives. His precious sister and the woman he’d forced to help him never knowing the price she’d pay.

“Please,” she begged, her voice breaking. “Just go and leave me be. I gave you what you wanted. I helped you, now go. It’s the least you can do.”

Caleb stood, wiping a hand over his hair and down the back of his neck in agitation. “I’ll go, but I’m coming back, Ramie. I’m going to make this up to you.”

“You can never take this back,” she whispered. “There’s no making up for what’s been done. Just go and take care of your sister. She needs you.”

She closed her eyes, tears seeping from her eyelids. How could he just leave her like she asked? And yet how could he not go and ensure that his sister was safely recovered? He’d never felt so torn in his life.

“If you have any humanity whatsoever, you’ll leave and never tell anyone where you found me,” Ramie said hoarsely. “Please, I’m begging you. Just go. He plans to kill her tomorrow. At dawn. You don’t have much time.”

Her words proved to be the impetus, driving him to action. But goddamn it, he would make this up to her. Somehow, someway.

Regret swamped him. Worse was the fact that even knowing now what he hadn’t known before, he couldn’t say he would have done anything differently. Not when it meant the difference between Tori’s life and death. But at least now he better understood Ramie’s resistance. No longer did he look at her and think she was selfish and cruel. Now he realized her disappearance had been self-preservation. He didn’t know she’d survived this in the past. He just prayed he wasn’t the tipping point in pushing her so far over the edge she’d never recover.

Caleb closed his eyes and then gently touched her cheek. “I’m so sorry. You’ll never know how much. My family and I owe you more than I can ever repay. I’ll go for now and pray to God I’m not too late. But I’m coming back, Ramie. Count on it. I’ll make this up to you if it’s the very last thing I do.”

Reading Order: Slow Burn series

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks In His Keeping by Maya Banks Safe At Last by Maya Banks

#1 ~ Keep Me Safe: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (Oct. 7, 2014)
#2 ~ In His Keeping: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (Jan. 6, 2015)
#3 ~ Safe At Last: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads (March 10, 2015)

about the author

Maya BanksMaya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.

She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

giveaway

Five (5) Print Copies of KEEP ME SAFE

a Rafflecopter giveaway