These excerpts contain sexually explicit material. If you are not at least 18 years of age, please leave.
If you are 18 or older and are not offended by such material, please stay and enjoy!
Night of the Tiger|
Book 1: Hades' Carnvial
by N.J. Walters
Aimee Horner lives and breathes her career as a graphic novel illustrator, but she never expected it would invade her dreams. In recent months, worsening nightmares have pulled her into the darkest corners of Hell.
On a rare night out with friends at a traveling carnival, she finds herself strangely drawn to an abandoned carousel adorned with vividly exotic animals. One steed, a massive white tiger, is a temptation she can’t resist. The moment she climbs upon him, her world changes forever.
More than five thousand years ago, Roric and his fellow shapeshifting warriors were imprisoned in their animal forms, a last-ditch effort by the goddess they served to save them from the horrors of Hell.
With one special woman’s touch, he has a chance at freedom and redemption—but the clock is ticking. If he is still alive in twenty-four hours, the spell will be broken, and Hell will have no claim on his soul. The only hitch is his blazing attraction to Aimee. If only he could trust that she isn’t merely a distraction sent by Hades—luscious bait to lure him from his mission.
"Night of the Tiger is the first of NJ Walters’ limited series, Hades’ Carnival. This is a darker world than most that Ms. Walters has built. The characters are deeper, edgier and more conflicted than her usual folks, but they are as expertly crafted as any she has done."
Best Book Rating-Foxglove, Long and Short Reviews
"Night of the Tiger is the first book in a new series for this wonderful author and what an incredible start it was...Overall, this author has once again proven what a great author she is. I recommend this book to fans of the genre..."
5 Hearts-Bec, The Romance Studio
"THE NIGHT OF THE TIGER is an amazingly different paranormal, with its mixture of Gods from Olympus, demons from hell, warrior shifters and a shy graphic artist. It is wildly exciting that the author, N.J. Walters, was able to take all these elements and carve out a well written, mysterious storyline that will keep you reading and looking for more."
—Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction
"You are definitely kept on the edge throughout this thrilling book with plenty of spice to set Hell on fire!...I have read several of Ms. Walters’ series and she has never disappointed in the paranormal department and the HOT sex department either and this book was no exception."
4 1/2 Stars-Shey, Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
"NIGHT OF THE TIGER is a unique, creepy tale that had me perched on the edge of my seat with utter excitement. The plot is filled with a super-hot romance and a shockingly, thrilling suspense that will simply curl your toes."
4 Blue Ribbons-Contessa, Romance Junkies
"I recommend this book to any shifter or mythology fan out there."
4 Stars-Lisa Jung, Night Owl Romance
Excerpt from Night of the Tiger
©2013 N.J. Walters
The mattress moved beneath her. Aimee froze. She splayed open her fingers and felt warmth and flesh instead of cool sheets. Lifting her eyelids, she stared at the wide expanse of male skin that greeted her. There was a man in bed with her.
There was a naked man in bed with her.
Aimee jerked upward until she could clearly see his face. Familiar blue eyes stared back at her. It hadn’t been a dream. It was real.
Shoving away from him, Aimee scrambled out of bed. She got tangled in the sheet and tumbled to the floor. Her butt barely had time to register a complaint before she jumped to her feet. Grabbing the edge of the sheet, she tugged it toward her and wrapped it around her trembling body. It left him totally naked, but she didn’t care. “Who the hell are you and how did you get into my bed?”
Seemingly unconcerned by her outburst, the man stacked his hands behind his head and relaxed against the pillows. She desperately tried not to notice the way his biceps bulged. She also had to work to ignore the sexy tufts of hair beneath his armpits and the bands of muscles delineating his wide chest.
She was losing her mind. There was a strange man in bed with her and she found his armpits sexy. What in the name of God had she done last night? She’d never brought a stranger home before. Where had she met him?
She desperately searched through her hazy memories for a clue. He didn’t seem like a maniac or a psycho. So far, he hadn’t moved except to put his hands behind his head in a non-threatening manner.
Slowly, almost lazily, he raked his gaze over her trembling body. He started at the top of her head and worked his way down. Aimee pulled the sheet tighter around her, desperately trying to ignore the way her nipples puckered against the thin fabric and the steady pulsing that began low in her belly.
She felt fully aroused, completely debauched and totally disheveled, her body a sweaty, aching reminder that she hadn’t been dreaming earlier. She’d had sex with a stranger. Unprotected sex with a stranger.
“Ohmygod, I can’t believe this is happening.” The phone. She had to get to the phone and call the cops. She inched her way around to the end of the bed. The stranger didn’t move, but his eyes tracked her every movement. He reminded her of someone.
Of course he reminded her of someone. She’d done the mattress dance with him last night. Her skin heated as memories of exactly what she’d done last night came flooding back. She might not know his name but her body was very familiar with his.
Her phone wasn’t on her nightstand, which meant it was in the charger downstairs. She’d have to make a break for the kitchen and pray she got there before he caught her.
Although, he didn’t seem to be in any hurry to stop her. With the sheet pulled away, he was totally naked and was obviously in no hurry to cover himself. Aimee swallowed hard as she noted he was also fully aroused.
The police. She shook herself from his sensual spell. She had to call the police. And tell them what? He hadn’t raped her. She’d been a willing participant in their earlier sexual escapades. Even though she’d thought it was just a dream, he’d given her a chance to say no.
She nibbled on her lower lip. Her reputation wasn’t the best in this town and they’d think she was totally nuts if she called them and told them her story. She could just imagine it. Officer, there’s a naked man in my bed. I thought I was dreaming but, hey, I just had to touch him. All over. And surprise, surprise, we ended up having the most amazing sex of my life. You have to come save me. Yeah, right. They’d lock her up instead of him.
She brought her attention back to the man still sprawled naked across her bed. “Look, I don’t know who you are or how you got here, but you have to leave.” There, that was forceful and decisive. She’d even managed to say it without drooling over his incredibly hot body.
What was wrong with her? It wasn’t like her to be ogling some guy. Of course, it wasn’t like her to wake up with some strange man in her bed. It hadn’t happened…well, ever.
He shifted slightly, muscles rippling down his arms and across his chest. The movement was small, but there was no mistaking the controlled power behind it. His lips turned down at the corners and she had the uncomfortable feeling that she’d just disappointed him somehow. Which was absolutely crazy. And seemingly right in line with the rest of this bizarre morning.
“You don’t remember.”
Aimee closed her eyes and said a prayer under her breath. His voice could seduce the coldest of women. Like dark, thick chocolate, it flowed through her veins, tempting her to just crawl back in bed and throw herself at him. She shook her head, refusing to look at him. She had to get him out of her house.
Fingers stroked her cheek. Aimee’s eyes popped open and she screamed and jumped back. She hadn’t heard him move. The bed hadn’t creaked. The sheet beneath him had made no sound. For such a large man, he was incredibly quiet when he moved. She wished she were half as graceful. Instead, she felt her left foot tangle in the sheet. Her knee began to buckle and she started to go down.
Before she could do more than gasp, the stranger scooped her into his arms, a frown marring his rugged face. “You truly don’t remember.”
He seemed more than a little upset by this. She ignored the heat emanating from his massive chest as he set her back on the bed. He loomed above her, large and naked, his erection heavy and thick. She should be afraid of him, shouldn’t she? He was a totally stranger and he was making himself at home in her house.
The problem was, he didn’t seem like a stranger. With each passing moment, he felt like someone she knew…well. Of course, she’d had sex with the man.
Couldn’t get much closer than that.
But it was more than a physical connection. There was some part of her, deep in her soul, that recognized him and yearned to help him. Shaking her head, she struggled to find her voice again. “No. No, I don’t remember.” That wasn’t exactly true. “I don’t remember much.” But the longer she was awake, the more she was remembering. Aimee rubbed her fingertips over her temples, trying to beat back the headache that was starting to brew.
“What do you remember?”
She ignored his demand. She had a few questions of her own. “First things first. Who the heck are you?”
He sat down on the mattress beside her, his hip brushing her thigh. The sheet separated them, but it might as well have not been there for all the protection it offered her. She could feel the heat from his body soaking into her chilled flesh.
“My name is Roric.” He paused, as if waiting for some kind of reaction from her.
Mark of the Bear|
Book 2: Hades' Carnvial
by N.J. Walters
At twenty-nine, Hollywood scream queen Kellsie Morris is acutely aware the clock is ticking on her career. Luckily, the one big role she needs to pad her retirement fund has just come through—the story of an immortal, shape-shifting warrior trapped in a carnival run by the Devil’s minions.
When Kellsie arrives on set, she can’t resist climbing aboard an amazingly realistic carousel bear—and finds herself flung into a world where the horror is real. As real as the heat radiating off the half-naked hunk in her arms.
Marko has waited an eternity for the chance to free his goddess, the Lady of the Beasts, and his fellow warriors from an ancient curse. But once he lays eyes on Kellsie, he knows to the bottom of his soul that his purpose is to protect her life.
But in this hellish game, it’s the Devil’s move. And there’s no predicting when and where the final, brutal stroke will fall—and which lover will pay the ultimate price.
"The author has created a fascinating world of wonder and excitement...I was totally engrossed in the story from the prologue and couldn’t put the book down until I read the very last word of the epilogue. "
5 Stars-Evampire, Night Owl Reviews
"I loved MARK OF THE BEAR. It is a fantastic continuation of Hade's Carnival series by author N.J. Walters. With its fast action and interesting dialogue readers will be glued to the pages."
—Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction
“This one kept me reading long past my bed time, and I look forward to the next installment. This one is for all those who like their shifters hot, their heroines feisty, and their romance with a side of danger.."
5 Stars—Foxglove, LASR
"Wow! MARK OF THE BEAR is just as good as its predecessor, NIGHT OF THE TIGER. I know that this is only book two in N.J. Walter’s Hades Carnival series. However, I am totally captivated by the thrillingly, chilling storyline carried across each installment. I was hooked from start to finish...Their sexual encounters are mega hot and wickedly intense. Whew! MARK OF THE BEAR is one tale not to be missed!"
4 Blue Ribbons—Contessa, Romance Junkies
“If you enjoy a fast paced romance with hunky shifters, kick ass heroines and creepy but entertaining villains, this series is for you…I’m looking forward to the next book in this series and pretty much anything else NJ decides to write because her books are always fantastic."
5 Moons—Anna, Book Lovin’ Mamas
“What I really love about these books is the real emotion…"
B+—Liz, A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet
Excerpt from Mark of the Bear
©2013 N.J. Walters
She grabbed the flap and, at the last second, kept herself from flinging it back. There could be someone in there and she probably shouldn’t be wandering around here at night. Not that she’d get in trouble or anything, but she didn’t want to piss off the set designer.
Easing the flap aside, Kellsie peered inside. A bright spotlight shone on the center of the room. She stepped inside, no longer caring if there was someone already in there. The carousel stood in solitary splendor. It had to be a replica of an antique because it was like something from a bygone era. The base and the top were heavily carved with curlicues and spirals. It was fanciful and beautiful, exactly what a carousel should be.
She knew there would be space for seven animals on the ride, but four were missing, leaving gaps of several feet and the metal bolts that had once anchored them to the base. Only three animals remained.
Kellsie moved closer, studying the chipped white and red paint and gold gilding that was fading at the top and base. The animals themselves were in perfect condition and even more beautiful than she’d expected.
Whoever had carved the wolf had caught him in mid-stride. His muscles rippled beneath his fur, his jaws open on a snarl, revealing his sharp white teeth. He looked fierce and gorgeous.
She reached out her hand and ran it over his flanks. If she closed her eyes, she could easily imagine she was touching fur. “Wow. This is spectacular,” she breathed. “You’re one tough creature.” It was all too easy to picture the wolf racing through the woods in search of prey.
There was an empty space beside the wolf. A small metal label was bolted next to it and it read Serpent. Next to that was another space with a label that read Jaguar. Too bad the script called for them to be missing. She would have loved to have seen the artist’s rendition of both. She imagined the jaguar would be sleek and deadly with sharp teeth and a powerful jaw. The serpent, she wasn’t so certain about. Would it be snake-like or more of a dragon?
Her breath caught in her throat as she studied the next animal. A huge brown bear stared back at her through dark, expressive eyes. The effect was so real, Kellsie would almost swear the creature was actually alive and watching her.
“Amazing.” She stroked the fur covering his massive body, which had been painted a combination of varying shades of brown with a hint of black. Powerful and commanding, this was the king of the forest. The claw on her necklace seemed to pulse against her skin. She reached over her shoulder and absently rubbed her tattoo. There was no mistaking the sheer brute strength of this animal.
She tore herself away from the bear and forced herself to examine the rest of the carousel. There was another empty space. The label on this one seemed slightly scorched, which was a brilliant touch considering it was supposed to have housed a phoenix. She could picture a great beast painted in shades of red and gold, like fire.
Next came the lion. He was a formidable beast with a huge mane. Muscles rippled beneath his tawny skin and his jaws were open on a silent roar.
Beside him was another empty space. The plaque on this one read White Tiger. She didn’t think he’d have been totally white, but would have had dark stripes down his body.
She wished they were all here for her to see, but the movie was on a budget and the other animals weren’t necessary. They’d obviously hired a skilled craftsman to create the animals that were here. There was no way they were antique. They’d have cost a fortune. She also couldn’t imagine anyone owning one of these carousel animals and parting with them.
She rounded the carousel again and the bear drew her to him. He really was quite an incredible thing to look at. Massive. That was the best way to describe him. Even standing on all fours, he was almost as tall as she was. Thick muscles were covered with a heavy coat of fur. Long, lethal claws tipped his paws. His jaw was wide, his nose a velvety black.
Reaching out, Kellsie stroked his nose. She jerked her hand back and cradled it against her chest. It had felt cool and moist. Impossible. “Boy, this thing is real enough to play on the imagination.”
Chewing on her bottom lip, she studied his wide back. There were no painted-on saddles like on most carousel animals, just the creature’s broad body, which could easily hold her. Heck, her feet wouldn’t even come near the ground.
She put out her hand again and was surprised to see it was quivering. A combination of nerves and excitement, she supposed. She hoped she’d have to sit on him for the movie shoot for at least one of the scenes. The part of the script she’d read hadn’t specified which creature was supposed to come to life. Maybe she’d have to sit on all of them. Of course, there was always the off chance she wouldn’t have to actually ride any of them at all. Maybe her character released the mythical warrior in some other way.
If that was the case, she might never get another opportunity to be this close to the bear again. “You won’t hurt anything,” she promised herself. “Sitting on him won’t damage the paint job.”
Kellsie touched the bear’s flank. Damn, it really felt like fur. This was crazy. She should just go back to her trailer and get a good night’s sleep. The director would probably be back tomorrow, if he hadn’t already shown up while she was holed up in her trailer, and she’d have to get down to work.
And she really should hunt down Brittany and see about getting a complete script. There would be fourteen to eighteen-hour days of nonstop work for the next three to four weeks and she needed to be ready.
Pride of the Lion|
Book 3: Hades' Carnvial
by N.J. Walters
Araminta Davidson has arrived. After giving up her librarian job to be a full-time writer, all those lonely nights alone with her cat and her keyboard have paid off. She’s been invited to participate in one of the biggest reader appreciation weekends—as a professional author.
She can’t imagine her life getting any more exciting than that…until she accidentally releases a sexy, shapeshifting, immortal warrior from a five-thousand-year-old curse.
Finally free of his carousel prison, lion shifter Leander is determined not to let Hades lure him to the dark side in a quest for world domination. Nor will he give the delectable Araminta up to the clutches of the dark one. If they can survive twenty-four hours—and somehow resist losing themselves completely in the sexual haze threatening to swallow them up—the curse will be permanently broken.
But the clock is ticking, the heat is rising…and only the ultimate sacrifice will save them both.
"I have to admit this book was so good I had to go back and buy the first two after I read it so I'm ready for the fourth installment...I read it in one sitting and could not get enough of Araminta and Leander."
4 1/2 Stars-Valerie, Night Owl Reviews
“There are some fantastic surprise twists in this book...Of course, there is lots of hot and heavy action as well between Leander and Araminta; it wouldn’t be N.J. Walters without it. I am looking forward to the final episode in this passionate tale of good versus evil."
5 Stars—Foxglove, LASR
"PRIDE OF THE LION is the fast paced, action packed third book of the Hades Carnival series. I read the first two and wondered what could author N.J. Walter possibly do to make this one different and I was amazed."
-Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction
Excerpt from Pride of the Lion
©2013 N.J. Walters
A brilliant spotlight flashed on and she shrank back, covering her eyes as she was momentarily blinded. She blinked and slowly lowered her hands, needing to see if there was anyone there with her.
She didn’t see a person, but she did see a broken-down carousel. The ride had seen better days and only two animals remained on it—a wolf and a lion. Drawn to it by a force she couldn’t deny, her feet moved until she was standing beside it. The paint was chipped and worn, but there was no denying the beauty of the carved animals. They were so realistic, so incredibly beautiful.
She ran her hand over the flanks of the wolf. His head was slightly turned toward her, his mouth opened to reveal several rows of sharp teeth. “You’re a dangerous one, aren’t you?” She wanted to stroke his head but was almost afraid to, he was so lifelike.
A dizzy spell caught her unawares and she thought she heard a wolf howling in the distance. She shook her head and reached out to catch herself against one of the posts of the carousel. “Wow, what was that all about?” This whole place was disorienting and it was making her feel slightly light-headed and nauseous.
She shuffled over to the lion and sucked in a breath. The creature was magnificent with his thick blond mane and golden eyes. She wasn’t even certain if lions had eyes the color of old gold, or if they would be brown. Not that it mattered. This was an artist’s representation of a lion, not a real one. Still, the animal was amazing with paws the size of dinner plates and thick muscles rippling beneath a layer of fur.
She reached out and touched his side and was startled to feel warmth beneath her hand. She stumbled back, clutching her hand to her chest. The lion slowly turned its head toward her, opened his large, powerful jaws and roared.
Araminta’s heart raced and pure terror enveloped her. The sharp fangs of the lion seemed to glint in the muted light. She jerked back, slipped and kept falling. She thought she might have screamed, but wasn’t certain. For a few brief moments, she couldn’t see or hear anything. It was terrifying to be plunging through a dark nothingness that wrapped around her and threatened to strangle her.
When she finally landed, it was with a thud on a soft padding. The breath had been knocked out of her so she sucked in air in big gulps. It was still poorly lit, but she could see the outline of furniture. She was in a room of some sort. She frowned as the objects came into better view. It looked like her bedroom at home.
A large male arm snaked around her, pulling her back against a massive male chest. Araminta opened her mouth to scream, but he spoke before she could manage to do more than squeak. “I’ve got you. You’re safe.”
She blinked once and then again. What was going on? Where was the carousel and how had she gotten home?
Warm lips nuzzled her nape, sending a blast of heat cascading through her entire body.
“You smell nice.” A large hand cupped her hip through the thin fabric of her nightgown, giving it a squeeze. “You feel even better.”
She knew she should do something, get out of bed, run away or at the very least, scream. Something. Instead, she lay there beside the strange man and absorbed his heat and quiet strength. Something about him calmed her fear and silenced her unease.
She turned onto her side so she was facing him, wanting to get a better look at him. She couldn’t see the color of his eyes or hair, but there was no hiding the hard planes of his face. His nose was broad and flat, his forehead wide. His jaw was strong and powerful, his neck muscular.
But it was his hair that made her gasp. It was gloriously thick and fell to just below his shoulders. She reached out and touched it, shocked when it felt soft and silky. She wanted to rub her face in it. Heck, she wanted to rub her entire body over it.
Which was crazy because she had no idea who this guy was. Still, she wasn’t alarmed or upset by that fact. She wanted to get closer to him, to snuggle against him.
A loud sound permeated the room, almost like something was purring. It took her a second to realize the sound was coming from him. She placed her hand on his chest and the vibration sank into the flesh of her palm. It radiated down her arm to her shoulder before moving lower to her breasts and still lower until she was squirming and her panties felt damp.
She pulled her hand back. “Who are you?”
“Yours.” The stark reply made her toes tingle even as her brain formed a dozen questions.
Howl of the Wolf|
Book 4: Hades' Carnvial
by N.J. Walters
When artist and tarot reader Sabrina Wolfe runs across an old carousel wolf in an antique shop, she can’t resist buying the compelling symbol of her totem animal, her protector. But she isn’t prepared when the wooden animal comes to fang-flashing life—and shifts into a darkly sexy man.
Arand is the last of seven immortal warriors sworn to protect the Lady of the Beasts. Freed by Sabrina’s touch, their instant physical attraction is hot, intense—yet neither is safe until twenty-four hours have passed and the curse is truly broken.
Hades plans to use every one of those hours to unleash his last effort to control the world—or see both the warrior and his woman dead. Though help comes from unexpected quarters, Arand and Sabrina alone risk paying the ultimate price for victory. Their lives…and their very souls.
"Ms. Walters made me laugh, she made me cry, and she made me want to return to this world of myth and magic and romance. I highly recommend the Hades Carnival series to anyone who likes magic and myth with their romance..."
Best Book Rating-Foxglove, Long and Short Reviews
"HOWL OF THE WOLF is in a word ... spectacular. This is the fourth of the author's [N.J. Walter] Hade's Carnival series and it is just as fresh and wicked as the first one."
-Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction
" I am really enjoying this series..."
4 Stars-CYD, Night Owl Reviews
Excerpt from Howl of the Wolf
©2013 N.J. Walters
Jules cleared his throat, drawing her attention away from the sign. She knew what that meant and it wasn’t going to be good for her wallet. Still, she had to ask. “What else have you got?”
He rubbed his large hands together and motioned her inside. “Got something I set aside for you to see before I put it out on display. Knew you’d be interested.”
Sabrina could feel her bank account shrinking even as she gathered her belongings and trudged into the shop behind Jules. Whenever he said those words it cost her money. Of course, he knew what she liked. She had a respectable collection of framed vintage postcards and prints and some really nice antique tarot decks that Jules had found for her.
The inside of the store was much darker than the outside and she blinked to adjust to the dimmer light. “Just leave your things behind the counter and follow me,” Jules instructed.
Anticipation made her blood hum. Not something small if he wasn’t keeping it tucked behind the counter for her. She dumped her belongings as instructed and wound her way through the warren of items, sidestepping a slightly battered leather trunk that had great potential as a coffee table, swerving around a chair that had to be at least one hundred years old, and squeezing past a rather large mahogany hutch that would take up half her dining area.
“This way,” Jules called. He was already through the door that led to his backroom.
Butterflies lurched in her stomach. The backroom was like the doorway to a magical kingdom, the wardrobe into Narnia, the rabbit hole to Wonderland. She’d only been allowed back here a few times in her life and each time had been an adventure. There was stuff piled everywhere, and only Jules knew what it all was and where it was located. Nothing was listed on a computer. Everything was organized in Jules’ brain. He could put his hands on anything at a moment’s notice and tell you the provenance of the item.
She halted in the doorway, a sudden fear descending on her. Her blood hummed and she knew, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that whatever Jules was about to show her would change her life forever. She tried to shake off the sensation but couldn’t. Her intuition was screaming at her, louder than it ever had.
Sabrina gripped the doorframe. “Well, what is it?”
Jules flicked on a light that illuminated a dark corner of the storage room. The gasp caught in her throat. She blinked, unable to believe her eyes. Her hand fell away from the doorjamb and her feet moved forward. Hand extended, she reached for the wolf.
He was massive, much larger than any real wolf. And she knew in her heart the wolf had to be male. He was much too large to be a female.
The wolf was magnificent. Primal. Elemental. There weren’t any other words that could describe him. His flanks seemed to ripple, as though he was caught in mid-stride. His mouth was open in a silent snarl, exposing razor-sharp fangs. This was no softened version of the wolf, but a depiction of him at his most primitive and powerful.
“Where did you get him?” Sabrina was almost afraid to touch him. Afraid he wouldn’t be real.
“This incredible creature was part of a carousel ride that belonged to the carnival. Guess the ride fell into disrepair over the years and they sold off the rest of the animals. All that was left was this guy.”
Her fingers grazed the wolf’s flanks. She yanked her hand away, surprised at how the tips of her fingers tingled. For a brief second, he’d felt as though he was more flesh and bone than wood and paint.
“Can you turn on another light?” She really wanted to have a better look at him. The dim light and the layer of dust covering him prevented her from seeing him very well.
“This is as good as it gets. Almost all the lights blew this morning. It was the damndest thing.” Jules shrugged. “One of my cousin’s boys is an electrician and he’s coming in tomorrow to check things out.” He shrugged. “Old wiring probably needs replacing.”
Oh well, it didn’t matter how well she could see the wolf, she knew she wanted him. “How much?” Not that it mattered. She had to have him, supposing she lived off rice and beans for the next five years.
Heart of the Serpent|
Book 5: Hades' Carnvial
by N.J. Walters
Now that the five-thousand-year curse that kept him and his fellow shapeshifting warriors trapped in animal form has been lifted, Mordecai doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. He is free—in theory.
Hell left its stain on his soul, and his relationship with the warriors who once trusted him is uneasy. The only bright spot in his life is Jessica, whose shining innocence he dare not taint with his inner darkness. But it’s getting harder and harder to stay away from her.
Jessica longs for the days she and Mordecai shared an easy friendship. Now he seems as distant as the stars. He denies there’s a problem, but she’s determined to penetrate his shields.
Hades has been plotting his revenge from his prison. He can’t harm Mordecai without harming himself. But there’s nothing to stop him from wreaking havoc by hurting the one woman Mordecai would give his life to protect—Jessica.
"This is a hot romance, perfect for anyone looking for some fantasy, hot romance and demon fighting expertise. But be warned, there may be tears mixed in with the passion and laughter."
5 Stars-Foxglove, Long and Short Reviews
"HEART OF THE SERPENT is the amazing, thrilling addition to the Hades Carnival series!...All the past characters are back and they now realize that though the worst might be over, they must still be prepared for whatever hell sends their way. Can't wait for the next installation of Hades Carnival!"
-Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction
"Heart wrenching, sweet, action packed and schmexy as all get out. I just can't even recommend this book enough! Seriously people... Please, please, please, check out this series if you haven't already."
5 Stars—Angel's Addiction Book Blog
"Expectation and excitement catch the reader in a web of suspense and refuse to let go..."
5 Stars—Eva Millien, Literary Addicts Book Reviews
"Heart of the Serpent is bound to be a must read for those who have followed the series but it's also a great little piece of pure escapism. This is clearly an author with immense imagination and talent and as a fan of paranormal romance I'm certainly going to seek out more of her work."
—Marta, Just Talking Books
Excerpt from Heart of the Serpent
©2015 N.J. Walters
“Have I done something wrong?” she asked. Maybe she’d offended him with all her questions. Maybe she was assuming a friendship when all he felt was an obligation. And didn’t that just make her feel lower than a snake’s belly.
He seemed taken aback by her question and shook his head. “No. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
She wasn’t so sure about that. Mordecai looked like he always did. Translation—he looked good enough to eat. All the immortal warriors were easy on the eyes, but there was something about Mordecai that drew her. Maybe it was because of the stories her grandmother had told her about him. Maybe it was because she’d always been drawn to bad boys.
Whatever the reason, being around him was exhilarating and overwhelming all at once. He was darkness personified, but not evil.
His hair fell to his shoulders in a dark curtain. His eyes were midnight black and could be as cold as winter or as hot as the Sahara depending on his mood. The seams of the T-shirt he wore strained beneath the muscles of his shoulders and arms. Power clung to him like a second skin, surrounding him.
But it was his face that fascinated her. It could have been carved from stone. He showed little emotion, his dark eyes always moving, always cataloguing his surroundings, searching for an enemy in every corner. His cheekbones were sharp, his forehead high. His skin was deeply tanned.
And his mouth. Dear God, his lips were firm and full and she longed to kiss them. But he didn’t seem the least bit interested in her in that way. He was always friendly and polite, always willing to lend a hand if she needed one. There was no denying he was incredibly generous. She was living in a gorgeous two-bedroom apartment she’d never in a million years have been able to afford if she’d been paying the going rent. But Mordecai had offered it to her for dirt cheap. Heck, he’d wanted her to stay rent free, but she didn’t want to take advantage of him.
She knew he hated taking money from her. But she had her pride.
It was time to clear the air. “Things have been different between us since I moved in upstairs.” It had been a huge decision to leave her tiny apartment and make the move. But she’d wanted to be closer to her friend Sabrina and, if she were being truthful, she’d wanted to be closer to Mordecai.
His entire body stilled beside her. “Nothing has changed.” His voice was as cold as an iceberg and as distant as the Arctic Circle.
She’d had enough. “That’s not true.” Better to air things out between them then to go on like this. “I thought we were friends. We used to talk. You used to hang out with me.” And she’d longed for those evenings when he’d come by her little hole-in-the-wall apartment and she’d cook for him. They’d talk about current events and watch movies. “But since I moved in here, you treat me as if I have the plague.”
While Jessica liked all the warriors and had become friendlier with Stavros and Phoenix, Mordecai had become more distant with each passing day.
“You’re imagining things,” he began, but she cut him off.
“No, I’m not.” She fisted her hands in the skirt of her dress to keep from reaching for him. “When was the last time we ate dinner together, or had a coffee or hung out?”
“We’re hanging out now,” he pointed out. She hated his low, reasonable tone.
“Only because I came looking for you,” she challenged. “If I didn’t seek you out, I’d never lay eyes on you.” Her heart ached, but she pushed onward. “If you’ve changed your mind about me living here, I can find a new place. No hard feelings.” It would break her heart to leave him, but she’d do it if she had to.
He sat forward and raked his hands through his long hair. Her fingers itched to touch his hair, to discover if it was as soft as she thought. “I don’t want you to move.”
“Then what is it?” she pressed. “Am I being presumptuous? I thought we were friends.”
A low growl escaped him. An actual growl. It was a reminder he was more than just a human. He was an immortal warrior. A shapeshifter. She’d seen him shift into the mighty serpent, more dragon really, and he was a sight to behold. Deadly and dangerous.
“We cannot be friends.”
His words dug into her heart like sharp talons, shredding it. The pain took her breath away. It was quickly followed by a flood of embarrassment. She could feel her cheeks heating. She’d thought they were friends, but obviously she was no more than an obligation.
“I see,” she began, doing her best to keep from crying. “I’ll start looking for a new place tomorrow.” She couldn’t stay here. Not now.
“No, you don’t see.” Mordecai gritted out from between clenched teeth. “You don’t see at all.” His hands were clasped behind his head and the muscles in his arms bunched and tensed.
She stood, legs trembling, heart pounding. She needed to get out of here before she totally disgraced herself. The last thing she wanted to do was cry in front of him and add to the mountain of guilt he already shouldered over his past. She should have known better than to move into the same building with him. One he owned.
Maybe Sabrina and Arand would let her temporarily move into one of the apartments next door. Just until she found a new place away from Mordecai. Away from all of them. She wasn’t a part of their lives. Not really. They were all immortal and she was a simple woman, a human, who wanted to offer her heart.
How silly to think a man like Mordecai would be the slightest bit interested. Talk about fantasy. She’d fulfilled her family’s obligation to him, done her duty. It was time to move on with her life.
She took one step away but got no farther. His strong arms banded around her waist and pulled her back. She stumbled and fell onto his lap. He tilted her until her head fell back and she was staring into his black eyes.
“You don’t see at all,” he repeated.
Then he kissed her.
Flame of the Phoenix|
Book 6: Hades' Carnvial
by N.J. Walters
Tilly Ledet has long been a friend of the immortal, shape-shifting warriors who follow the Lady of the Beasts, a willing helper in their battle against Hades. But now that Hades is free and unable to touch the warriors, Tilly is fair game.
When Phoenix shows up insisting she drop everything to go into hiding, Tilly balks. Phoenix is strong and courageous, but when she imagines being in his arms, the protective barriers guarding her heart slam down.
For the first time in his immortal life, Phoenix feels fear. Not for himself, but for the woman whose beauty and forthright nature heat both his mind and body. While one kiss easily ignites her passion, claiming her as his own will take more than heat.
It may require a sacrifice that could send them both up in flames.
"I found Flame of the Phoenix to be an amazing novella, and it was fast paced. The story was well-written, and I could not put the book down."
5 Stars-DebA, Night Owl Reviews
"I recommend this for all those who enjoy fantasy and immortal warriors with their romance."
5 Stars-Foxglove, Long and Short Reviews
"N.J. Walters can write some seriously sexy PNR! For a fast paced read full of passion, action and engaging characters, I highly recommend Flame of the Phoenix!"
5 Stars-Angel's Addiction Book Blog
"FLAME OF THE PHOENIX is scorching hot!...I have enjoyed all the books in this series and cannot wait to get my hands of the next one!"
-Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction
"The fast paced and smooth flowing plot ensnares readers with suspense, excitement, passion and strong compelling characters."
4 1/2 Stars-Eva Millien, Literary Addicts Book Community
"The chemistry this couple share is off the charts and this is definitely a very steamy story. Ms Walters writes excellent paranormal stories and always delivers a very hot read."
-Marta, Just Talking Books
Excerpt from Flame of the Phoenix
©2015 N.J. Walters
Phoenix hurried down the cracked sidewalk, moving as fast as he could without actually running. Most people would think it was a hot day, but if there was one thing he didn’t mind it was the heat. Even wearing jeans and a T-shirt, he felt quite comfortable. It would have to get a lot hotter than this for him to even notice.
He could raise his arms and shoot fire from his fingertips, all without breaking a sweat. He was the mythical phoenix, after all.
He could feel many eyes on him as he headed down the street, but he was becoming used to attracting attention. His great height and distinctive red-and-gold hair always garnered unwanted notice from both men and women alike. It made him uncomfortable, but he was learning to ignore it.
As one of seven immortal warriors who followed the Lady of the Beasts, goddess of all the animals, he was capable of great feats of strength and courage. But right now, he was afraid. Not for himself. All his fear was for one particular human woman—Tilly Ledet.
Tilly was the most beautiful woman he’d ever set his eyes on, and he’d seen many in his long immortal life. She was tall and slender, her smooth skin the color of light toffee. He wanted to lick her entire body to see if she tasted as sweet as she looked.
He groaned as his cock stirred to life. He ignored the unruly appendage and quickened his pace. He was a shapeshifting warrior, one honed by the fires of war. He would not allow his sexual attraction for Tilly to distract from his mission.
A bloody battle with the Greek gods centuries ago had resulted in the Lady of the Beasts being trapped in Hell and her warriors cursed to remain in their animal forms for thousands of years. Now they were all free and the curse was broken. Hades had been defeated and stripped of most of his power. They thought he’d been imprisoned.
But now the god was back.
He’d targeted Jessica Miller, the woman that Mordecai had feelings for. A shiver raced down Phoenix’s spine as he pictured the round burn on Jessica’s arm—a death mark. Unless they found a way to get rid of it, Jessica would die.
Both Jessica and Tilly had gotten dragged into their war with Hades. The god could no longer harm the warriors or the women who’d freed them from the curse. To do so would bring about his own demise. Even the gods had rules, and Hades had agreed to the terms, never once believing he’d lose the war and have to abide by them.
That left two human women for Hades to vent his anger on. Phoenix could do nothing for Jessica, but he could protect Tilly.
The café was in sight and the constriction in his chest area eased when he saw her sitting outside her shop at one of the tables sipping a cold drink. She was wearing a long, flowing skirt in a flaming-red color. The fabric had slid up her crossed legs, giving him a wonderful view of smooth, supple calves. She’d topped the skirt with a bright yellow sleeveless tunic. No, it wasn’t called a tunic. A tank top. That’s what it was. The garment clung to her full rounded breasts and exposed her strong arms.
He growled low in his throat when he noted he wasn’t the only man in the area noticing how good Tilly looked. Unfamiliar feelings of possessiveness welled up within him. The great bird inside him fanned the flames of jealousy, but he ruthlessly quenched them. He couldn’t afford to be distracted. Not now. Not with Hades causing trouble.
As if she could sense him staring, Tilly glanced in his direction. The moment their eyes met, she smiled. Her lush pink lips parted to expose straight white teeth. Tilly had the kind of smile that invited others to join her. She held out her hand to him as he approached. “Phoenix, I wasn’t expecting to see you today.”
He took her hand but didn’t sit, forcing her to tilt her head back in order to see him. Her long black hair was pulled away from her face and wound into a thick braid. Her dark brown eyes went from welcome to worry in a heartbeat. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
The woman was extremely perceptive. Uncannily so. Phoenix wondered if she was a bit psychic or just incredibly attuned to the world around her. “We need to talk.”
Lure of the Jaguar|
Book 7: Hades' Carnvial
by N.J. Walters
The curse that imprisoned the Lady of the Beasts’ warriors is broken. Their mates are safe from Hades, but not their human friends. As the only unmated warrior, Stavros retreats to the Louisiana bayou. Better to be alone than put anyone else in danger.
Then he senses a presence in his woods. It’s a woman stalking wildlife with her camera, a woman who has unwittingly put herself on Hades’ radar—for she is Stavros’ mate.
Wildlife photographer Toni Richards doesn’t need any man to be her hero. But when three suspicious men try to kidnap her, she’s shocked when the rare jaguar she’s been tracking leaps to her rescue—then morphs into a man. An incredibly sexy man with a jaguar tattoo snarling across his back.
Despite his better judgment, Stavros can’t keep his distance, even though he knows that when the time comes, much will have to be sacrificed to foil Hades’ plans. Stavros prays Toni will forgive him for what he must do to protect her soul.
"I like this world, slightly dark but always optimistic that good will triumph over evil in the end. The characters are well defined and well matched, and I like that there is a gathering of all the previous characters to put some closure to this series. Now that Ms. Walters has given each of the immortal warriors their own HEA, I look forward to settling back and enjoying these in order again and again."
5 Stars-Foxglove, Long and Short Reviews
"LURE OF THE JAGUAR is truly hypnotic!...I hate to see the end of the Hades Carnival series, and was thrilled when author N.J. Walters took pity on her readers and gave us all seven of the warriors' stories.... LURE OF THE JAGUAR is the perfect end to a really great series."
-Annetta Sweetko, Fresh Fiction
"This story has a lot going for it: two great protagonists, a villain who might yet be redeemed despite his evil nature, and an exciting plot."
3 Cups—Maura, Coffee Time Romance Reviews
Excerpt from Lure of the Jaguar
©2015 N.J. Walters
Toni swallowed heavily and stared at the half-naked man, grateful that he’d put on a pair of jeans. Although the way the worn denim clung to his legs and butt left nothing up to her imagination.
She fanned her hand in front of her face. She was hot and sweaty and not just due to the early morning heat. No, it was the man standing on the back porch of the tidy little house that was making her skin tingle and her clothing feel too tight.
Toni had had no idea she had a neighbor this close by. This was the first time she’d walked in this direction. She’d planned on ignoring whoever lived there if possible, but then she’d seen him standing there, wearing nothing more than the morning sunshine, and she’d been frozen in place.
The man was a god. He was tall and broad shouldered, with a thick chest and lean hips. His body was sculpted with muscle, without a hint of body fat to soften his appearance. Hair as black as midnight hung in a silky curtain to his shoulders. His features were rugged and she’d automatically brought her camera up and clicked off a few pictures. She knew she’d never show the shots to another person. These were for her personal collection.
When he spoke, his voice was a deep rumble that made her nipples pucker and her
pussy clench. What was wrong with her? She never had this kind of reaction to a man. Yes, he was handsome. Okay, so he was drop-dead gorgeous. But he was still just a man.
“Don’t make me come out there.” There was enough of a threat in those words to make her bristle. She thought about running but had no doubt he’d catch her. Not only were his legs longer than hers, there was something about him, something primal and fierce, that told her he would find her no matter where she hid.
Taking the bull by the horns, Toni stepped out of the woods and into the small yard. She had her cell phone in her pocket and her gun tucked into the outside pocket of her camera bag. She was safe enough.
He came down the two steps until he stood in the yard, his bare feet planted on the warm ground. Hands on his hips, he studied her. And she stared right back. Up close, he was even more devastating to her senses.
And his eyes. Dear Lord, his eyes were dark, fathomless depths. She could get lost in them. There was such sorrow residing there. She found herself wondering what he’d been through in his life.
Realizing she was staring, she straightened her shoulders and introduced herself. “I’m Antoinette Richards. Toni. I’m staying at the house about a half mile that way.” She pointed back the way she’d come.
The stranger took a step closer. “Toni.” The way he said her name made her shiver. She bit her bottom lip to keep from moaning aloud. What was wrong with her? She’d never had such a visceral reaction to a man before.
“I’m taking pictures.” She held up her camera and then wanted to groan. Of course she was taking pictures. Any idiot could see the camera hung around her neck and the bag slung over her shoulder.
“And you are?” she asked.
“Stavros.” He took another step forward, his feet not making any sound. There was an alertness about him that reminded her of a wild animal. And the way he moved—so fluid and with clear intent—was so much like a wild cat, a leopard or tiger.