The Shadow, by Sylvain Reynard – A Review

The Shadow (The Florentine, #2)The Shadow by Sylvain Reynard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Florentine Series, #2

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Erotic Romance, Romantic Suspense

 

I finished reading The Shadow, in one sitting, for the second time yesterday. It was even better the second time – and that’s saying something, since I thought it was perfect a month ago. Seeing the tears glistening in my eyes, my soulmate asked me how I felt. This is how the conversation went:

“Oh, my God, this book is so, so good.”
“What made it so good?”
“Everything.”
“Could you be a bit more specific?”
“I’m not sure. Nothing I could say would do it justice.”
“Why are you crying?”
“It’s what readers do when a story is so perfect it’s etched in your heart forever.”

So here I sit a day later, trying to write a decent review for my very favorite author. I’m not sure I’m worthy of paying adequate tribute to his work, except to say that when I read anything he writes, I am filled with a sense of being truly alive. Every sense is sharpened. I live and breathe the lives of his characters; absorb the mystery of their world; appreciate art I’ve never seen; hear music as if it were my first time. I fill my lungs with the air of the Italian countryside, hear the hushed conversations in the Uffizi Gallery, and feel the heat of every moment he so lyrically describes.

The Shadow, #2 in the amazing Florentine Series, has the remarkable characteristics of every great love story – be it Dante and Beatrice or Romeo and Juliet, the skillfully crafted tale of Raven and William, the Prince of Florence, has everything you could possibly want in a dark romance. Passion. Complexity. Engaging and powerful sub-plots. Treachery. Betrayal. Secrets. Mystery. Moments of perfect joy, when the shadows are at bay and the two lovers experience the intensity of overwhelming desire, the joy of sexual union, and the vulnerability of intimacy. An undercurrent of suspense is palpable, beating in the background, building steadily; intensifying their deep personal conflicts; highlighting the fragility of the lovers’ forbidden relationship; portending a sense doom, of ultimate sacrifice and agonizing grief. But there is so much more…in the midst of what may seem to be an inevitable tragedy, Sylvain manages to instill an abiding sense of hope. Hope that the forces converging to separate the two lovers and take William’s throne – his soulmate – and his life – will miraculously be defeated. That the lost soul – the dark, avenging angel – will be redeemed. That the heroine’s light will overcome his darkness and they will ultimately experience the happy ever after they deserve.

It is simply a perfect read. I could not have hoped for more from this author or this series. And as always, having read it, I feel fulfilled, if not satisfied — there is so much more to come to conclude this amazing story.

And for those who, like me, may never get enough of Gabriel and Julia Emerson, they appear again — in a scene that will shake you to your core. And, finally, Sylvain teases us with outtakes – otherworldly ‘what-ifs’ – flights of creative fantasy to make you crave the next story…and the next…and the next.

View all my reviews

A photo and quote depicting a scene from The Shadow, by Sylvain Reynard

Photo of David Gandy, with a quote from The Shadow, by Sylvain Reynard

The Shadow Giveaway! Celebrating the latest from Sylvain Reynard

Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of The Shadow, the latest installment of the Florentine Series by bestselling author Sylvain Reynard,

Passionate Reads & Reviews is hosting a GIVEAWAY!

PRIZES:

A Signed Copy of The Raven (US Shipping Addresses Only)

A Signed Bookplate (Open Internationally)

TO ENTER:

Visit Passionate Reads & Reviews on Facebook

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and

SHARE or TAG a friend!

(Facebook is NOT Responsible for this Giveaway)

Hurry! Offer Expires February 4, 2016

         

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…

Book Title:  The Shadow

Author:  Sylvain Reynard

Series: the Florentine Series

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance, Suspense

Synopsis 

Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart…

A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.

As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…

Excerpt

Book Cover of The Shadow, a contemporary paranormal romance novel by Sylvain ReynardRaven watched as William efficiently disrobed, neatly folding every article of black clothing (with the exception of underwear, which he never wore), and placing it on the vanity.

She brushed imaginary lint from her dress as he stood in front of her, naked.

He was under six feet in height, his body lean and strong. Raven took a moment to appreciate the definition of his muscled chest and abdomen, and the strong cast to his thighs.  Not even a statue carved by the most talented sculptor could create a being with so much perfection.

His face put her in mind of an angel with intense, gray eyes that now looked at her expectantly.

She hid her face.  “You said you loved me.”

“I did. What’s more, I meant it.”

“Love is a peculiar thing. I’ve seen it. I’ve even cheered for it. But I never believed it was for me.”

“Why shouldn’t a beautiful, fierce young woman hope for love?”

“Because, as you put it, human beings are shallow.”

“Love is deep.” His rich voice echoed in the bathroom.

“Love is having the power to destroy another person.”

William stepped closer.  “Are you afraid of being destroyed?”

“Destroyed, consumed, betrayed.” She fidgeted with the neckline of her gown.

William placed his hand over hers, stilling it.  “Love creates; it doesn’t destroy.”

His lips found the place where her neck met her shoulder. He kissed her leisurely, tracing the path of her bared collarbone with his mouth.

His fingers brushed her zipper.  “Let me.”

He undid her dress, dropping it to the marble tiles.

Her bra followed.  She was as naked as he.

His eyes roved her body appraisingly.  His pale fingers caressed her cheek, her mouth, and her neck. His strong hands cupped her breasts, her abdomen, and her hips.

His gray eyes met hers.

“The power you describe is the power you have here.” He touched her forehead before moving his hand to cover her heart.  “And here.  It’s the power you have over me. Power I haven’t yielded to another since I was human.”

He brought his lips to her ear. “Your fears are shared.”

With a slow kiss on her neck, he led her into the shower, standing behind her underneath a tropical rainfall showerhead.

Raven closed her eyes and lifted her face, like a flower following the sun.  The warm water soaked her hair and streamed down the generous curves of her body.

“I’ve never showered with another person.  What happens next?” William rested his hands on her shoulders.

She wiped the water from her face.

“Whatever you want. Just don’t let me fall.”

William’s gaze dropped to her right leg, which she was favoring.

“Is the pain terrible?”

“It’s worse after I’ve been lying down.  Sometimes I topple over.”

William spread his arm around her waist, drawing her back to his chest.  “Then I must be sure to catch you.”

She kissed him, reaching up to run her fingers through his wet hair as the water poured down their shoulders.

Her motions were fraught with an eagerness born of love and affection and the relief of remembering she hadn’t lost him.

He was hers.

Even now, naked, with a myriad of flaws few men overlooked, he embraced her. He embraced her imperfections.

He loved her.

His cool hands scorched her skin, splaying fingers wide over her abdomen and bringing her backside into contact with what rose between his hips.

She gave him her weight and he held firm, nipping and licking at her lips before enticing her to enter his mouth.

He entertained the intrusion for a moment or two then, with a growl, he spun her around, pressing their chests together.

Raven looked up into blazing gray eyes.

“Are you certain?”

She nodded.

“I need the words, Raven. I need to know you want this.”

“I want you.”

He took her mouth, his tongue alternately penetrating and retreating in a sensual rhythm.

She tilted her head, welcoming him, as the water continued to rain down.

Hands roamed over slick skin as their lower bodies came into alignment.  She touched his neck, his shoulders, his biceps, holding them tightly in an effort to remain upright.

William was not a tame lover.

In his arms, she sensed his control, his desire, and the war that waged between the two. But he’d never harmed her and had always focused his attention on giving pleasure before taking it. Usually more than once.

“You’re a dream,” she sighed.  “A dream of love I never thought I’d have.”

His eyes burned into hers.

Without warning, he lifted her, tugging her thighs around his hips.

He lowered his mouth to her breasts, tasting and teasing before sucking droplets of water from her eager flesh.

She wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling him eager between her legs.

He lifted her higher, hands beneath her backside, making sure he was correctly aligned.

“Breathe,” he commanded, his eyes boring into hers.

Here was the vampyre, proud and powerful, teetering on the edge of control. He bared his teeth as if on instinct and his chest rumbled.

“Just don’t break me,” she whispered, pushing a lock of blond hair from his forehead.

William’s expression grew even more fierce.

“I won’t break you.  Whatever harm I bring to you I vow to heal.”

He swallowed her reply with his kiss.  Then with a single thrust, he entered her.

His kisses were as fierce as his movements as he pushed inside and withdrew, over and over.  His grip on her backside tightened as he lifted and moved her in concert with his own motion.

Raven clung to him, her hand trailing to his lower back so she could urge him deeper.

Not that he needed the encouragement.

Her breasts brushed against his chest, the friction teasing and arousing.

She ignored the warm spray of the water, the scent of soap and William, and the nagging discomfort in her leg and ankle.  Her focus was on feeling as he brought her swiftly to the brink of orgasm.

Before she could signal how close she was, she climaxed, her hand clutching his neck as she threw her head back.

William continued his pace until she’d finished, his mouth dropping to her breasts, drawing one of them into his mouth.

When she opened her eyes, she found him staring at her hungrily.

“I have only begun,” he rasped.  “Breathe.”

Treat Yourself! Pre-Order The Shadow Today…

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Don’t Miss the Rest of The Florentine Series

A Florentine Series/Gabriel’s Inferno Novella: The Prince

Book cover: The Prince, by Sylvain ReynardThe unveiling of a set of priceless illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence exposes Professor Gabriel Emerson and his beloved wife, Julianne, to a mysterious enemy.
Gabriel may have acquired the illustrations only a few years ago, but unbeknownst to him, they were stolen a century earlier from the ruler of Florence’s underworld.
Now one of the most dangerous beings in the city is determined to reclaim his prize and exact his revenge on the Emersons–but not before he uncovers something disturbing about Julianne…

http://amzn.to/1PCJ2jU

 

The Raven

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel series comes a dark, sensual tale of romance in a city shrouded in mystery . . .

Book cover - the Raven, by Sylvain Reynard, book 2 of the Florentine Series

Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi gallery restoring Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semiconscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attackers’ screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her . . .

Cassita vulneratus.

When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. Upon returning to the Uffizi, no one recognizes her. More disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of her disappearance, Raven learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history–the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the police identify her as their prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and most elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets . . .

http://amzn.to/1PCIPgk

New Year, New Favorite Reads – Coming in 2016 (Part 1) …

Photo of book covers-favorite new releases for 2016

 

Favorite Authors, Favorite Books on the Way 

I’m starting the year on Cloud Nine of Reader’s Heaven with some new favorites by a few of the best contemporary romance authors I know. Hyperbole? Maybe – but it’s sincere. Some of these I’ve read, some I’m currently reading, and the rest are sizzling on my Kindle waiting to be savored. And the best part? It’s not even a complete list – it’s only the beginning. Read along with me in 2016 and discover some new favorites of your own.

Authors & Bloggers – If you have some new releases coming that aren’t on my list yet — please call them out in the comments, or email me at passionatepromos@gmail.com, and I’ll feature them the next time around!

January & February Releases 

AbruptionJanuary 2nd:  ABRUPTION, by Riley Mackensie

I’m absolutely in love with this story, by favorite authors Riley Mackensie. I received the ARC and it’s my first “official” read of 2016. I’ll be posting a review tomorrow – but in the meantime, don’t wait — one-click it today. If you love sweet, sexy, highly emotional romance novels with unforgettable characters – but especially if you love medical heroes & heroines — these authors, and this book, will NEVER disappoint.

Synopsis:

Everyone has a plan. Dr. Guy Hunter secures his dream fellowship with a beautiful free spirit by his side. Two unexpected blue lines don’t even shake his resolve—he is on his way to having it all. Until he isn’t. Abruption: a sudden breaking off Jules Chiappetti loves her boisterous over-involved Italian family but is determined to pave her own way. An MBA and boardroom job is her ticket out. Until it isn’t. Abruption: an unexpected event Four years later, Guy is consumed by the challenges of being a single father, still struggling with the aftermath that derailed his life and left his son with special needs. He doesn’t realize his world went dark the same day his wife’s did, until Jules, his son’s new nurse, shows him the light.

Order it on Amazon  |  Add it to Goodreads

 

Favorite author Emma Chase is releasing the third and final installment of her Legal Briefs series, APPEALED, on January 19th. I’ve read the ARC and it’s a perfect Appealedending to a great collection of steamy, tender, often hilarious stories about a group of attorneys that practice in Washington, DC. In true Emma Chase style, each hero is a keeper, and Brent Mason is no exception…he meets his match in Appealed, and his journey from player to lover to partner is well worth experiencing. Each book in the series may be read as a standalone, so read them in any order you like, although I think the stories build especially well when read in order. Review to follow on release day.

Synopsis:

When Brent Mason looks at Kennedy Randolph, he doesn’t see the awkward, sweet girl who grew up next door. He sees a self-assured, stunning woman…who wants to crush the most intimate – and prized – parts of his anatomy beneath the heels of her Christian Louboutins.
Brent has never let the loss of his leg in a childhood accident affect his ability to lead a fulfilling life. He sets high goals–and then he reaches them.
And now he has his sights set on Kennedy.
**
When Kennedy looks at Brent Mason, all she sees is the selfish, Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue-worthy teenager who humiliated her in high school to join the popular crowd. A crowd that made those years a living hell.
She’s not a lovesick social outcast anymore – she’s a DC prosecutor with a long winning streak behind her. Brent is the opposing attorney in her next case and she thinks it’s time to put him through a little hell of his own.
But things aren’t exactly working out that way.
Because every fiery exchange has her wondering if he’s as passionate in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom. Each argument and objection only makes him want her more. In the end, Brent and Kennedy may just find themselves in love…or in contempt of court.
APPEALED is a sexy, humorous romance about first crushes, second chances and the final verdict of the heart.

Buy it on Amazon | Add it to Goodreads

 

Photo of the cover of Pucked Over, by Helena HuntingJanuary 24th:  PUCKED OVER, by Helena Hunting (Pucked, #3)

Grab a glass of wine, crawl between the sheets and warm up your winter nights with the latest installment of the PUCKED series, by Helena Hunting. This hockey-themed series of romantic comedies is at the top of everyone’s list, with some of the most outrageous – and drop-dead sexy, snarky characters you’ll ever meet. Again, you can read these out of order, but to really enjoy them, start at book one and don’t stop until you’re panting for the next in the series. Forever Pucked is coming later this spring!

Synopsis: 

Lily LeBlanc isn’t versed in the art of casual sex, but after seven years in an on-again, off-again relationship, she’s definitely willing to give it a shot. And who better to try it with than her best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend? What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all.

NHL player, Randy Ballistic, lives up to his last name on the ice and in the bedroom. His best friend and teammate has recently given up the puck bunnies and traded them in for a real girlfriend. And she just happens to have a seriously feisty, extra-hot best friend on the rebound. Randy’s more than happy to be Lily’s spring board back into the dating scene.

Casual sex is only casual until those pesky things called emotions get involved. Once that happens, someone’s bound to gets pucked over.    Buy it on Amazon |  Add it to Goodreads

February 11th:  THE SCORE, by Elle Kennedy (Off Campus, #3)The Score

The Off-Campus series continues with THE SCORE, another sexy, funny, sweet new adult sports romance featuring hot hockey players, by Elle Kennedy. Each may be read as a standalone, so start anywhere, but don’t miss a single one. If you love relatable characters, a little bit of angst, a lot of humor, and some steamy, sexy college boys … look no further. I’ve got the ARC, and am loving the story. Will be posting a review closer to its release date. Stay tuned.

Synopsis:

He knows how to score, on and off the ice …

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over …

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition,girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to befriends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

Buy it on Amazon | Add it to Goodreads

 

Photo of the cover of The Shadow, by Sylvain ReynardFebruary 2nd:  THE SHADOW (Florentine Series #2) by Sylvain Reynard

Sylvain Reynard is, hands-down, one of my top 3 favorite authors of all time. I can’t shorten the list to just one author, because all three of my favorites are so very different in their approach to storytelling that it seems unfair to say one is better than the others. The Florentine Series builds on the beauty of his infamous Gabriel series and takes it to an entirely new level, blending art, history, literature, music, poetry, mythology and romance exquisitely with the mystery and breath-taking suspense of the paranormal. Truly a unique and unforgettable combination. I have the ARC for The Shadow, and have read just enough to know that I won’t be able to put it down when I finally have the time to savor it. It’s not just a book, it’s an experience.  The final installment of the series is underway, and SR reports that he is already working on his next collection. I’d order it TODAY if I could.

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…

Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart…

A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.

As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…

Buy it on Amazon | Add it to Goodreads

 

Later in 2016 … a few to keep your eye on:

Us, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy 

The highly anticipated sequel to their best-selling M/M sports-themed romance, HIM.

Cover Photo -HIM, Sarina Bowen/Elle Kennedy

 

 

 

Marry Screw Kill, by Liv Morris

I have been an avid fan of Liv since I read her Touch of Tantra series. I’ve re-read it more times than I care to admit, lest I be labeled a certified Liv stalker. But if you love alpha billionaires and the kick-ass heroines that make them see the light of day … do not miss this explosively erotic and tenderly passionate story. Trust me on this.

A Sneak Peek at M-S-K:

There are two men in my life.
I’m marrying one, want to screw the brains out of another, and by the time this love story is complete, you may want to kill me.
Marry Screw Kill
The choices are still pending…

Roman Crazy, by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci

Roman CrazyYou’ll have to wait a while, but it will be totally worth it. Releases on my birthday – September 13, 2016!

A delicious, sexy, laugh-out-loud modern romance about a newly single woman and her journey to find love again, from New York Times bestselling author Alice Clayton and debut author Nina Bocci.

Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.

Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…

Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new againromance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?

A celebration of great friendship, passionate romance, and wonderful food, Roman Crazy is a lighthearted story of second chances and living life to the fullest.

Add it to Goodreads | Order it on Amazon

 

And last but not least … MY most anticipated release of 2016 … this time it’s personal.

Photo of images from Where Angels Sleep, by Paula Radell

Yes, my own first novel, Where Angels Sleep – a dark but inspirational romance about a young doctor who had, and lost, it all – and finds himself left with a choice between life and death.

Cover Design by the amazingly talented Fiona Jayde, of  Fiona Jayde Media (cover reveal pending later in the year)

Banner photo by my amazingly talented daughter, Sarah Nicole Thomas, owner of Modern Scribe Photography, Virginia Beach, VA.

Stay tuned … Goodreads and Author Website pending with exclusive sneak peeks & more.

 

An Excerpt from The Shadow: A Breath-taking Prelude from Sylvain Reynard

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel trilogy comes the hotly anticipated follow-up to The Raven, a sensual novel set in Florence featuring the dangerously intoxicating coupling of Raven and William…

Book Title:  The Shadow

Author:  Sylvain Reynard

Series: the Florentine Series

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance, Suspense

Synopsis 

Raven Wood’s vampyre prince has returned, pledging his love and promising justice for every wrong done to her. In the wake of their reunion, Raven is faced with a terrible decision—allow the Prince to wreak vengeance against the demons of her past, or persuade him to stay his hand. But there is far more at stake than Raven’s heart…

A shadow has fallen over the city of Florence. Ispettor Batelli will not rest until he uncovers Raven’s connection to the theft of the priceless art from the Uffizi Gallery. And while the Prince hunts a traitor who sabotages him at every turn, he finds himself the target of the vampyres’ mortal enemy.

As he wages a war on two fronts, he will need to keep his love for Raven secret, or risk exposing his greatest weakness…

Excerpt

Book Cover of The Shadow, a contemporary paranormal romance novel by Sylvain ReynardRaven watched as William efficiently disrobed, neatly folding every article of black clothing (with the exception of underwear, which he never wore), and placing it on the vanity.

She brushed imaginary lint from her dress as he stood in front of her, naked.

He was under six feet in height, his body lean and strong. Raven took a moment to appreciate the definition of his muscled chest and abdomen, and the strong cast to his thighs.  Not even a statue carved by the most talented sculptor could create a being with so much perfection.

His face put her in mind of an angel with intense, gray eyes that now looked at her expectantly.

She hid her face.  “You said you loved me.”

“I did. What’s more, I meant it.”

“Love is a peculiar thing. I’ve seen it. I’ve even cheered for it. But I never believed it was for me.”

“Why shouldn’t a beautiful, fierce young woman hope for love?”

“Because, as you put it, human beings are shallow.”

“Love is deep.” His rich voice echoed in the bathroom.

“Love is having the power to destroy another person.”

William stepped closer.  “Are you afraid of being destroyed?”

“Destroyed, consumed, betrayed.” She fidgeted with the neckline of her gown.

William placed his hand over hers, stilling it.  “Love creates; it doesn’t destroy.”

His lips found the place where her neck met her shoulder. He kissed her leisurely, tracing the path of her bared collarbone with his mouth.

His fingers brushed her zipper.  “Let me.”

He undid her dress, dropping it to the marble tiles.

Her bra followed.  She was as naked as he.

His eyes roved her body appraisingly.  His pale fingers caressed her cheek, her mouth, and her neck. His strong hands cupped her breasts, her abdomen, and her hips.

His gray eyes met hers.

“The power you describe is the power you have here.” He touched her forehead before moving his hand to cover her heart.  “And here.  It’s the power you have over me. Power I haven’t yielded to another since I was human.”

He brought his lips to her ear. “Your fears are shared.”

With a slow kiss on her neck, he led her into the shower, standing behind her underneath a tropical rainfall showerhead.

Raven closed her eyes and lifted her face, like a flower following the sun.  The warm water soaked her hair and streamed down the generous curves of her body.

“I’ve never showered with another person.  What happens next?” William rested his hands on her shoulders.

She wiped the water from her face.

“Whatever you want. Just don’t let me fall.”

William’s gaze dropped to her right leg, which she was favoring.

“Is the pain terrible?”

“It’s worse after I’ve been lying down.  Sometimes I topple over.”

William spread his arm around her waist, drawing her back to his chest.  “Then I must be sure to catch you.”

She kissed him, reaching up to run her fingers through his wet hair as the water poured down their shoulders.

Her motions were fraught with an eagerness born of love and affection and the relief of remembering she hadn’t lost him.

He was hers.

Even now, naked, with a myriad of flaws few men overlooked, he embraced her. He embraced her imperfections.

He loved her.

His cool hands scorched her skin, splaying fingers wide over her abdomen and bringing her backside into contact with what rose between his hips.

She gave him her weight and he held firm, nipping and licking at her lips before enticing her to enter his mouth.

He entertained the intrusion for a moment or two then, with a growl, he spun her around, pressing their chests together.

Raven looked up into blazing gray eyes.

“Are you certain?”

She nodded.

“I need the words, Raven. I need to know you want this.”

“I want you.”

He took her mouth, his tongue alternately penetrating and retreating in a sensual rhythm.

She tilted her head, welcoming him, as the water continued to rain down.

Hands roamed over slick skin as their lower bodies came into alignment.  She touched his neck, his shoulders, his biceps, holding them tightly in an effort to remain upright.

William was not a tame lover.

In his arms, she sensed his control, his desire, and the war that waged between the two. But he’d never harmed her and had always focused his attention on giving pleasure before taking it. Usually more than once.

“You’re a dream,” she sighed.  “A dream of love I never thought I’d have.”

His eyes burned into hers.

Without warning, he lifted her, tugging her thighs around his hips.

He lowered his mouth to her breasts, tasting and teasing before sucking droplets of water from her eager flesh.

She wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling him eager between her legs.

He lifted her higher, hands beneath her backside, making sure he was correctly aligned.

“Breathe,” he commanded, his eyes boring into hers.

Here was the vampyre, proud and powerful, teetering on the edge of control. He bared his teeth as if on instinct and his chest rumbled.

“Just don’t break me,” she whispered, pushing a lock of blond hair from his forehead.

William’s expression grew even more fierce.

“I won’t break you.  Whatever harm I bring to you I vow to heal.”

He swallowed her reply with his kiss.  Then with a single thrust, he entered her.

His kisses were as fierce as his movements as he pushed inside and withdrew, over and over.  His grip on her backside tightened as he lifted and moved her in concert with his own motion.

Raven clung to him, her hand trailing to his lower back so she could urge him deeper.

Not that he needed the encouragement.

Her breasts brushed against his chest, the friction teasing and arousing.

She ignored the warm spray of the water, the scent of soap and William, and the nagging discomfort in her leg and ankle.  Her focus was on feeling as he brought her swiftly to the brink of orgasm.

Before she could signal how close she was, she climaxed, her hand clutching his neck as she threw her head back.

William continued his pace until she’d finished, his mouth dropping to her breasts, drawing one of them into his mouth.

When she opened her eyes, she found him staring at her hungrily.

“I have only begun,” he rasped.  “Breathe.”

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Don’t Miss the Rest of The Florentine Series

A Florentine Series/Gabriel’s Inferno Novella: The Prince

Book cover: The Prince, by Sylvain ReynardThe unveiling of a set of priceless illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence exposes Professor Gabriel Emerson and his beloved wife, Julianne, to a mysterious enemy.
Gabriel may have acquired the illustrations only a few years ago, but unbeknownst to him, they were stolen a century earlier from the ruler of Florence’s underworld.
Now one of the most dangerous beings in the city is determined to reclaim his prize and exact his revenge on the Emersons–but not before he uncovers something disturbing about Julianne…

http://amzn.to/1PCJ2jU

 

The Raven

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel series comes a dark, sensual tale of romance in a city shrouded in mystery . . .

Book cover - the Raven, by Sylvain Reynard, book 2 of the Florentine Series

Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi gallery restoring Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semiconscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attackers’ screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her . . .

Cassita vulneratus.

When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. Upon returning to the Uffizi, no one recognizes her. More disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of her disappearance, Raven learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history–the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the police identify her as their prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and most elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets . . .

http://amzn.to/1PCIPgk