Saturday, August 2, 2014

Book Blast: Delilah Devlin Once in a Blue Moon

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
Beaux Rêve Coven, Book 1
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
eISBN: 978-1-61921-769-0
Format: Ebook
On Sale: July 15, 2014


When testing an enemy for weaknesses, prepare for things to get hard.
Bryn Cavanaugh and her coven like that the community they live in is isolated thanks to a storm that destroyed the bridge between them and the outside world. Now the state wants the bridge rebuilt. When the construction crew checks into the inn, Bryn begins to suspect something about the crew’s boss isn’t quite…human.

Bridges are Ethan Thorne’s thing—after all, he’s a troll—so building a simple span over a remote canal in backwater Louisiana shouldn't be this much of a problem. When he follows the pretty little innkeeper to a midnight rendezvous, he discovers why his crew keeps running in to trouble. Bryn and her coven are casting spells in the moonlight.

As a troll, Ethan feels the sting of his low place in demon hierarchy. But finding an unprotected coven of witches in the middle of the bayou could lead to all sorts of adventure. And it’s better to keep your enemies close…

Warning: Contains a handsome troll (Hey, it can happen!) who’s skilled at building sexual tension with his hands—and several other body parts, as well—and a witch who’s determined to protect her home, but forgets to shield her heart.


EXCERPT #1: Meet Bryn
Bryn Cavanaugh stirred the contents of a large black pot, breathing in the rich aromas scenting the air.

“With your blessings, come weal and bounty,
With our efforts, come fortunes plenty.”

The spell was short and to the point. She doubted the Powers That Be felt slighted. The Beaux Rêve women worked damn hard and never took their blessings for granted. She dipped a spoon into the broth and tasted it, closing her eyes as she sampled the spicy mix. “Delicious.”

She turned off the flame beneath the large pot of shrimp gumbo she’d begun the night before. For now, it could steep in its fragrant roux. When she returned, she’d light the burner again to let it simmer slowly until it was ready for tonight when her sisters gathered for the evening meal. Satisfied, Bryn left her large, airy kitchen and headed toward the front door of the inn.

Cooking the large stew had been time-consuming. A task that had taken her mind off the trouble that was brewing. Today, the sisters faced enemies, and she was determined to remain calm, study their adversaries and determine their weaknesses while smothering the interlopers with kindness. Her totem was the rabbit, a symbol of abundance and comfort, and her element was the Earth. She would need to channel both to remain steadfast and calm.

She paused to rifle through the stones in the bowl beside the door. Some were polished and some raw crystals. She found her two favorites—a polished amethyst carved into a worry stone with a soft indentation for her finger to rub against when she grew agitated and a piece of raw witch’s amber. One for cleansing her spirit of stress and the other for deflecting negativity. These she’d also need this morning.

She put both in the pocket of her long flowing skirt and stepped off the porch, barefoot today, because she wanted nothing between herself and the Earth. Freshly cut grass tickled her insoles. She smiled, her first in days since news had arrived that outsiders were descending on them.

“Mornin’, Bryn.”

Looking to her right, she caught sight of Father Guidry watering his small garden beside his tiny clapboard church. She gave him a wave, her silver and beaded bracelets jangling on her arms, but didn’t stop to discuss his plantings. No doubt he’d say this year’s success was due to prayer. Oh, and he’d be right.

She didn’t have the heart to tell him she’d snuck into his garden every night for weeks to pray to the Goddess for her favor. The elderly priest was a kind man, and he tolerated the sisters of the Beaux Rêve coven while continuing to hold out hope they’d see the error of their strange ways.

Tolerance was a blessing, and something the folks of Bonne Nuit, Louisiana, gave in abundance. Sure, they’d been suspicious of the women when they’d first arrived in their tiny hamlet. But the prosperity the women had brought—the jobs and self-sufficiency—had earned them, if not acceptance then at least a place in this isolated community. However, the isolation, something the coven considered their greatest blessing, was now threatened. Progress had arrived.

She stayed in the grass beside the sidewalk, skirting Main Street and walking toward the river where her sisters were gathered. But as she neared the canal, she found they’d been joined by gawkers. Nearly all of Bonne Nuit was there.

Radha and Darcy stood glaring at the gathering on the opposite bank while Aoife and Miren stared at the clouds above them.

“You’re blind,” Miren said. “It’s a scimitar. A reminder we aren’t without weapons for this battle.”

Aoife shook her head, a frown bisecting her pale brows. “It’s the Reaper’s scythe. We’re doomed.”

Bryn rolled her eyes. She didn’t need to read portents in clouds. All she had to do was look straight across the divide at the big machinery and the crew of strangers there to operate the earthmovers, crane and dump trucks to know they were in real trouble.

“I take it the injunction was lifted?” she asked the group.

Radha nodded. “Last night. I’m sure they paid a judge to do it in the dark of night. Demons do their best work in the dark.”

Bryn took her gloomy response with a grain of salt. The witches were ever vigilant of demons, but the more likely culprit was simply the state’s schedule for recovery from the last hurricane. The bridge that had connected Bonne Nuit to the rest of the world had been swept away three years ago. Something the town had taken in stride since it was a cyclical occurrence. This part of Jefferson Parish was prone to flooding. And Gus Hearn, a local with a Duck Dynasty beard and an old ferry boat, provided transport across the water when needed.

Gus’s boat was already docked on the opposite bank, and he was loading two vehicles, a green construction-company pickup and a delivery truck bringing supplies to Darcy’s crafters’ cottage.

“We can’t take this lying down,” Darcy said, shaking back her long red hair. “Tonight’s a blue moon.”

Bryn stiffened. “The last time we asked for intervention didn’t turn out so well. Remember, we asked for rain for our summer planting? We got a deluge that nearly wiped out the entire crop. Perhaps we should let things be. They’ll build their bridge, and the Goddess will send another storm.”

Darcy’s frown was fierce. “But strangers will walk amongst us. What if we’re found?”

“So far we’ve been lucky. Blessed,” she said, her tone even and filled with conviction.

“But we knew this day would come. We’re stronger now. If demons find us, we’ll simply show them we’ve grown a backbone, and that we don’t need their counsel or their manly protection.”

Darcy shrugged, but her green eyes still flashed with fire. “I don’t think we’ll bring bad luck if we ask for intervention and cast a banishing spell. I vote we meet tonight.”

The others glanced around their circle and slowly raised their hands. Four to one.

Bryn sighed. They had no leader, no high priestess, so majority ruled—a policy they’d adopted the moment they’d fled upper Michigan.

Tonight, they’d meet under the blue moon.

And while she’d scoffed at Miren’s and Aoife’s attempts at aeromancy, she felt a little guilty withholding her own confusing portent that had invaded her dreams the night before. The cloud above them wasn’t shaped like a scimitar or a scythe. If her dream was right, it was a penis. The dream filtered through her mind again…

Moonlight gleamed through curtains. Large, callused hands stroked over her back and buttocks as the man in her bed waited while she sank slowly on his cock. She’d felt the pressure inside her, smelled his earthy musk. But while moonlight illuminated his brawny frame, his face had remained in shadow.

She’d interpreted the sex as meaning that her privacy was about to be invaded. That she’d be tempted to set aside her vow to remain celibate and autonomous while she constructed a self-sufficient life.

But the intimacy of the dream could also mean she’d been alone long enough. The company of her sisters couldn’t fulfill her innate need as one connected to the circle of life, to Gaia the mother—the need to bear children. Children would ensure their future as a coven.

Perhaps the fact she’d been unable to see his face meant that any man might serve her need. When they’d fled their previous life, they’d foresworn true love because a witch could only know love once in her lifetime. A human male could provide his seed, but only a demon could hold her heart. The danger of mating with a demon, of becoming enslaved to his desires, was too dangerous to her freedom.

Reaching into her pocket to rub the amethyst, she concentrated on her blessings—on her sisters and this quiet place, on all the bounty they had brought to the community with their works. Her finger warmed the stone, and it began to vibrate, sending warmth up her arm and through her shoulder before spreading down into chest.

Calm again, she squared her shoulders and stared across the water at the ferry bringing the first wave of strangers. Perhaps she’d been too quick to paint their arrival as something black and ominous. She’d wait and see. And tonight, when her small coven drew down the moon, she’d offer a small prayer to the Goddess for a sign.
#2: Meet Ethan
Ethan Thorne leaned his elbows on the rail as the rickety ferry boat made its way across a canal deep in a sleepy bayou. A place nearly out of time. Unchanged except for the slow drone of the boat’s engine. Trees draped in moss. Murky water. The sounds of insects buzzing and chirping and bird calls were an unending cacophony of sound.

They were headed across the expanse where he would build a bridge to the dock on the far side. A dock that wasn’t a dock. It was simply a road that had sunk into the swamp, the tarmac brittle and broken. The little community on the other side was in sore need of a bridge, so why had they protested for so long?

As the boat drew nearer, he noted a couple dozen people gathered on the sunken road. Most were dark-haired with dark complexions and appeared to be related by the similarities of their features. However, one group of five women standing in a half-circle to the side seemed out of place.

For one thing, their features weren’t large-nosed and their skin was pale. And each of the women was stunningly beautiful. How had a small backwoods place like Bonne Nuit produced so many delicately boned, beautiful women? Two were brunette, one was blonde and one red-haired. The one that drew his eye had hair the color of midnight with a slight bluish sheen.

And they dressed differently from the rest. Not a one wore a tee or tank or well-worn jeans and boots. These women wore long skirts, sandals or bare feet, rows and rows of stones around their wrists and long necklaces with pendants resting between their breasts.

At second glance, their skin wasn’t merely pale, it was luminous.

Realization of what they were hit him with the impact of a blow to his solar plexus. Witches. His gaze scanned the far bank. Where were their guardians?

He straightened and purposely dragged his gaze from them. He didn’t need to incite a war with whatever group of demons lurked out of sight.

“You see them?” Renner murmured, coming up beside him and smiling, his expression at odds with the intensity of his unearthly sea-blue gaze. In direct sunlight, his irises reflected the light, glinting like sunlight on a calm blue pond.

“I count five,” Ethan said. “And no sign of Others.”

“Perhaps they haven’t been claimed.”

“How is that even possible?”

“The isolation? The fact they’re banded together?” Renner raised a brow. “How interesting.” He pulled a pair of sunglasses from his pocket and slid them on. “No need to announce our presence just yet.”

It being daylight, Ethan had no worries his eyes would give him away. “Guess that means I’m staying in the town.”

“Until we find out what’s happening here, yes. Brother, we may have struck the mother lode.”

He flashed a grin and turned toward the bank.

Ethan crossed his arms over his chest, instinctively barring his heart to suppress the urge to pounce the moment the ramp dropped to the tarmac. Witches explained a lot. The string of bad luck that had plagued the company the moment the contract for the construction project had been awarded, although seized engines and workers’ accidents were behind them now. Witches also explained how this project had been placed so far down the list that the state’s budget had nearly excluded this last bridge.

Which might confirm his suspicion these witches were truly alone. If they’d been mated, there’d be no need to continue their isolation. Bound, they were protected. For a troll, a lesser demon on anyone’s hierarchy, the thought of five witches, the most exalted feminine prizes in the demon kingdom, the opportunity was too ripe with possibility to ignore.


#3: A Sexy Excerpt


He nuzzled his nose through her hair, skimmed his lips over her neck, and she couldn’t resist tilting her head to allow him a little more access to her bare skin.

“Come with me.”

Not a request. Not that she minded at all. She was eager to be alone with him. She let him take her hand and pull her toward the kitchen door. They slipped out onto the porch, and he let her lead him with their fingers intertwined past the raised-bed herb garden, past tall beanstalks and sweet corn. She led him to the trellised gate, overhung with hyacinth. “It’s not much farther,” she said, glancing back.

His expression was closed, his dark eyes shadowed. But she wasn’t afraid. He tightened his hand around her fingers. He was growing tense. Just like she was—from anticipation.

Excitement quivered through her. Every sense was alert. Just the air brushing her bare arms and legs felt erotic. The scent of honeysuckle and roses teased her nose. The sound of his heavy tread thudded like her heartbeat. Just ahead, the latticed sides of the gazebo were like silver interwoven bones in the moonlight.

Beautiful. Frightening as well, because there in the darkness they cloaked awaited the possibility of intimacies shared—with this man who had managed to consume her thoughts from the first moment his glance had landed on her. Just yesterday. How could that be?

Already, when they weren’t together, she was obsessed with thoughts of him. When he was near, her body awoke. Her breasts ached for his touch. Her sex throbbed with building heat. She was constantly wet. Constantly ready. If he wanted her this night, she wasn’t going to refuse. Her body was too painfully aroused to ignore.

They entered the structure and he tugged her to a halt. She stood facing away, trying to catch her breath. But her breathing was so shallow she was nearly panting.

He let go of her hand and settled both of his at her waist. His grip was light but insistent, and he pressed against her back. His chest was a brick wall. And below, she felt the nudge of a long, hard column against her buttocks.

Silently, he was warning her. This was what he wanted. She could refuse, ease away from the pressure, and he would accede, perhaps giving her kisses and caresses through her clothing. Nothing more than she was willing to accept at this moment.

But she was greedy. She wanted everything he had to give, and she wanted it now. Lifting her hand, she shifted her hair from her neck. “The zipper’s right there.”

#4:  Smuttier Excerpt

“Let me do this my way.”

His way meant she would be on hands and knees. His callused palms urged her downward, arranging her knees, sinking the center of her back to tilt her bottom upward.

She didn’t mind that he treated her like a doll, that he took charge, his body blanketing her as he set the width of her hands just so. He was warm and hard and surrounding her. His cock glided on the backs of her thighs, nudged her buttocks and slid along her wet folds.

And his cock was huge. A blunt instrument. Rock solid as the rest of him.

When he was satisfied, he moved away. Her head bowed toward the floor. She hoped he’d take her. Sink his many inches inside her. However, the first flick of his tongue against her folds sent an electrical charge through her.

She must have been wound too tight. Nearly on the verge of orgasm for it to affect her so. She steeled herself against the pleasure, not wanting to disappoint him by leaving him in the dust. He teased her with more flicks to her outer folds. Then he suckled there, drawing her inside his mouth for gentle nibbles. His whiskers raked her sex and inner thighs.

Not that she minded the abrasion. He could scour her skin off so long as he found her center.  Which he did, dipping his tongue inside her and swirling. A deep groan vibrated against her sex.
When he pulled away again, she whimpered. She didn’t need foreplay, she needed the main event. But the nips he gave her fleshy ass made her jerk, escalating her sensitivity to his every touch.

Fingers parted her then swirled around her entrance. They eased her open, stretched her, one finger added at a time until she was beyond full. He spent so much time preparing her for his girth, she began to wonder if she’d underestimated just as how large he was.

The moment he prodded her with the blunt knob of his cock, she knew. He spread her folds and pressed against her, apparently gripping himself to circle her entrance and ease himself inside with precision and insistent pressure.

She’d dreamed about the way it would feel. Now pleasure was edged with worry that he wouldn’t fit. But she was wet, and more liquid seeped from inside her to coat his heavy cock. At last, he breached her entrance.

She sagged, her arms already shaking. Her body was too tight, too excited for her to slow her heart or reactions. “Ethan,” she whimpered.

The pressure relented. He held still. “Am I hurting you?” His voice sounded as though he were grinding rocks between his teeth.

“Yes,” she hissed, but she didn’t want him to stop. She wanted the pressure and the pain. “More, please.”

His laugh was choked. He gripped the notches of her hips to hold her immobile and worked himself inside in shallow, pulsing waves, in and out, deeper and deeper—until Goddess, he was touching her womb.

She felt a pinch deep inside her. A quiver of core-deep delight. This could be the moment. If only he didn’t realize he’d taken her unprotected and pulled free at the last.

Bryn sank her chest against the cushions and reached far beneath her, past his cock, to his balls. She gripped them, massaging them, sending out a flash of witch’s heat.

“Fuck, Bryn. Don’t…” He dug his fingers hard into her fleshy hips, pulled back and then slammed forward.

She released his balls, certain he wouldn’t stop until she’d achieved her goal. She’d unleashed his passion.

His hips moved faster, his cock cramming deeply, whipping back and shoving forward again. The sheer fullness made her want to shout. Her back arched and she pushed backward, trying to break his hold, but he began to move her, bringing her back as he thrust, pushing her away as he withdrew. He hammered her. Jostled her. Roughly, so deliciously, she was on the verge of exploding.

And then he began to move his hands on her skin. He reached up one hand to grab her hair and force her back to arch more, gliding another on her skin, raising gooseflesh. Her hair was lifting and prickling on the back of her neck. Static charged the air, and her eyes widened. She knew at last why he’d been so attractive, why she’d been inexorably drawn to him. Why she’d craved this union.

Demon!