Bec McMaster/
Sep 25
Giveaway Winners!

I’m glad so many of you had so much fun working out who your perfect match in the London Steampunk world would be! It feels a little like Blade might have rigged some of the quiz…

The winner of the $30 Amazon gift card is Jessica Ashbaugh – or comment number 64.

The winner of the second prize signed copies of Kiss of Steel and Heart of Iron is Stephanie Burgess – or number 14.*

Please contact me with your addresses by contact page. If I don’t receive any replies by 5th October, I’ll draw the prize again.

Thanks for playing!

*Both numbers chosen by random number generator.

Sep 3
It’s finally here!

Forged By Desire is out in the world!


There’s a couple of really good deals going at the moment. As we all know, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace is free on most ebook retailers, but Amazon has My Lady Quicksilver listed on kindle at $2.99, and Forged By Desire has dropped to $4.80 eBook and $5.05 for paperback. I really don’t know how long these two will last as I’m usually the last to know – so get it while it’s hot! – but TCCOCM is going to be free until the end of September if that helps.

Also, Book Depository has 30% off both Kiss of Steel and My Lady Quicksilver paperbacks at the moment – free shipping worldwide.

Here are a couple of reviews for Forged By Desire:

‘I cannot say enough praises for the London Steampunk series and specifically, Forged by Desire. The mystery and intrigue built into the superbly crafted plot kept me engrossed and excited throughout the entire book. Yet it is the love story of Garrett and Perry that provides immense satisfaction and emotional gratification. With its unusual mix of paranormal, steampunk, historical, and mystery elements, the author creates a unique setting and world with an honest to goodness romance at the core. You really should be reading this series!’ - Jen at That’s What I’m Talking About

‘Well, we know Garrett finally saw Perry as a desirable woman at the end of My Lady Quicksilver, and I was surprised to see that neither of them could act like it never happened.  Oh, they tried, but the non-stop sexual tension and banter between them was insanely sexy!!  This is one couple who isperfectly right for each other and I loved seeing the journey they took from partners to friends and that final step to lovers.’ – Heather C at The Blogger Girls


Don’t forget to take the Who’s Your London Steampunk Perfect Match quiz (previous blog post) to work out who your ideal London Steampunk hero is – and enter the giveaway! It’s open until 22nd September 2014!

Aug 22

With the release of Forged By Desire (2nd Sept 2014), I thought I’d post a fun little quiz. Want to know who your perfect-match London Steampunk hero is? At the end, let me know in the comments who your match is to go into the draw to win a $30 Gift Voucher from Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice)…

 To score, simply jot down your answers to the following questions, and check out the score at the end! (No peeking! LOL)

1. What’s the sexiest thing a man can wear?

A: Black leather from head-to-toe

B: Nothing but skin

C: A tuxedo, with bow tie

D: Leather coat and red velvet waistcoat

E: A sexy smile…


2. What’s the sexiest thing he could whisper in your ear?

A: “You look beautiful. Though I prefer you in red. And wet…”

B: “You’re mine, mo cridhe…”

C: “Keep the mask…”

D: “I have no plans to hurt you… Unless I plan on stealing your heart. Then you should be on your guard.”

E: “Can’t ‘elp meself, you were made to be stared at…”


3. What would be your perfect date (Victorian-era style)?

A: A bottle of blud-wein, a roaring fire, and a night in, with a sumptuous bed nearby covered in silks and furs

B: A midnight waltz in the Venetian gardens, with perhaps a swim… sans clothing

C: A dance at a ball, followed by a stolen kiss in a darkened corner

D: Dinner at an exclusive restaurant, then tickets to a bawdy play, and a slow seduction

E: A battle of wits over chess, with the winner taking all…

4. What gift would you prefer from your hero? 

A: Fully modified pistol with firebolt bullets that explode on impact

B: Himself, tied up in a big, red, bow

C: A chess set 

D: Something sexy, lacy… and easy to remove…

E: A knife; perfectly balanced and made to slip between a pair of ribs


5. What traits do you admire most in your hero?

A: Leadership qualities, a sense of suave, and a mind that is always several moves ahead

B: Honour, intelligence and complete trustworthiness 

C: Protective, cunningly intelligent and a sense of humour  

D: Complete comfort in his own skin, humour and charm

E: Protective, honest and loyal


6. What flaws can you overlook in your hero?

A: A guarded heart and emotional detachment

B: Gruffness and the type of manners that would see you thrown out of Court

C: Glibness and a stubborn streak a mile wide

D: Appalling taste in clothing and a slightly manipulative tendency

E: The urge to control all situations

7. What catches your eyes first when a sexy hero walks into a pub?

A: Wicked eyes and a dangerous stride that reminds you of a predator wondering just how delicious you’d be…

B: The kind of face that makes you think of a fallen angel, and a mouth made for sin…

C: Thighs like tree-trunks and the type of build that indicates some serious heavy-lifting.

D: A sexy smile that could melt the coldest heart, and have a lady’s stockings hit the floor.

E: Shoulders that were made to be stared at and hands that look like they could play the pianoforte – or over your naked skin…


Scoring :

1. a—1, b—0, c—2, d—3, e—4

2. a—2, b—0, c—1, d—4, e—3

3. a—3, b—4, c—0, d—2, e—1

4. a—0, b—3, c—1, d—4, e—2

5. a—4, b—1, c—3, d—2, e—0

6. a—4, b—0, c—2, d—3, e—1

7. a—3, b—4, c—0, d—2, e—1



22-28 Points

Congratulations! Dashing and daring, with the smooth charm of a duke, Leo Barrons is your man!

The urbane Leo Barrons guards a troubled heart – but if you let him, he’ll steal your own. An alpha to the core, he’s a dashing figure, smart and sophisticated, and quite content to guard his heroine’s back – and hold her reticule – if she needs to do her own manhandling. Dangerously seductive, he’ll require a fiery heroine with the smarts to match him on all levels…


Fantasy casting…

Pre-order Of Silk And Steam (March 2015) if you want to seduce Leo.


15-21 Points

Congratulations! Blade, the darkly flirtatious Devil of Whitechapel is for you!

A dangerous man, the Devil of Whitechapel isn’t afraid to back down to anyone, and has, on occasion, dabbled in slightly illegal affairs, but if you have his heart, then you’ll never want for anything. Charming, seductive and fiercely protective of those he considers ‘family’, he’s a force to be reckoned with. Only a brave woman could expect to handle him… Or let him handle her.


Fantasy casting…

Read Kiss of Steel to tempt the Devil.


11-14 Points

Congratulations! Reckless charmer, Garrett Reed, is your perfect hero!

The type of man who can gain a woman’s guilty confession with but a single devastating smile, Garrett Reed is a rake who’s just begging to be reformed. Loyal, protective and good fun to be with, Garrett would be perfect for a woman who doesn’t mind being pursued. Don’t think he’s a push-over however. This handsome beta has a stubborn streak a mile wide, and he knows women. Through-and through…


Fantasy casting…

Read Forged By Desire to fall prey to Garrett’s charm.


5-10 Points

Congratulations! Your perfect match is the cool and clinical Nighthawk, Lynch, who just demands some ruffling!

The type of alpha male who is always in control, Jasper Lynch is powerful, intelligent and coolly rational – except when it comes to his one weakness, the woman he loves. He’ll expect you to be his match in all ways – but he’ll support you when you need it and isn’t afraid to let his guard down first…


Fantasy casting…

Read My Lady Quicksilver to discover the force-of-nature that is Sir Jasper Lynch.


0-5 Points

Congratulations! Brutish Will Carver is yours for the taming!

Stubborn and protective, with a heart of gold, beta-hero Will Carver is a man who’ll never turn away from those he loves. While he might not be so trusting, and guards a heart he doesn’t understand, Will is the perfect match for a woman who wants to be cherished and supported in all ways.

41dce5e0b659c89f90f40f48bdff0bfbFantasy casting…

Read Heart of Iron to fall in love with Will.



For a chance to win a $30 Amazon Gift Voucher, tell me who your perfect hero is.

Second prize is a signed copy of Kiss of Steel and Heart of Iron … Open internationally.

The prizes will be drawn on September 22nd, 2014, by Rafflecopter!


Aug 18
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace is live!

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace is live on Amazon for $2.99.

PLEASE NOTE: that I am offering the book for FREE for a limited time, but I need it to go up at the other distributors (Nook, Ibooks, Kobo etc.) before Amazon will price match.

Want it now for FREE? Smashwords have it in MOBI versions, EPUB and .rtf. Or I expect it will be up at other retailers within the week. It’s not a HEA romance – after all that is coming in Forged By Desire – but expect to see come confrontations and a certain heroine coming to realise her feelings, at least. Enjoy!

EDITED TO ADD: It’s live at iTunes for free! Still waiting on Kobo and B&N.


Friends, partners, and professionals. So just why is this case coming between them? 

In a Victorian London ruled by the blood-drinking elite, Perry Lowell is a logical and accomplished Nighthawk: a rogue blue blood who tracks murderers and thieves for the Guild. So when she and her charming-but-reckless partner, Garrett, are charged with finding a missing theatre starlet, it should be a simple solve.

But with an entire theatre of suspects, including a flirtatious understudy and whispers of a Clockwork Menace haunting the place, tension is brewing between the pair of them. Can they come together to solve the case – or will it be too late, when the murderer turns his gaze on Perry herself?

Warning: This is not a complete HEA. It’s a pre-romance novella featuring the couple who will find their HEA in Forged By Desire (available Sept 2014). Heads will butt, tempers will flare – and perhaps one of them might come to realise just what the other truly means to them?


Aug 12
A shot of inspiration…

I’ve just returned home from the Romance Writers of Australia conference, which was held in Sydney over the weekend. Picture 350+ avid romance writers. It’s a little like a flock of seagulls; noisy and circling the food tables, going ‘MINE! MINE! MINE!!’ before they pounce on the pastries. The keynote speaker was Cherry Adair – who is my new lady crush, with her fabulous shoes – and Marie Force was an international guest, plus a VERY savvy business lady. I want to be Marie Force when I grow up. Or maybe I just want to have her daily word output.

Highlights of the conference:

* Cherry Adair. Seriously, this lady is hilarious and such a ball of energy. If you ever need a keynote speaker, send her an invitation! She was still going strong in the bar on Sunday night I hear, regaling everyone with either words of inspiration or possibly tall tales…

*Cocktail Party. The costume theme this year was Leather and Lace. Kudos to the lady who pulled off Cher.


Yes, in that outfit. 

* Finally meeting Anne Gracie in person. She has been raving about my series online and spruiking it to everyone she meets, and is just such a lovely, gracious lady, as well as a top-notch writer. For a debut author (well, kind of debut), it’s kind of like being a newbie on the music scene, and having Beyonce rave about your work. I’m like, OMG, but you’re Anne Gracie!

* Getting to meet so many fabulous readers – and authors – at the Australian Romance Readers Association book signing.



*Watching the waitressing staff try not to piss themselves laughing during Cherry Adair’s Literacy High Tea speech. I could just see the poor girl near me repeating, ‘You must be professional. Be professional, be professional…’, in her head as she poured my tea while Cherry described a sex scene on horseback during a chase scene, along with accompanying gestures. I’m guessing that’s been the craziest – and most entertaining – conference the waitress has ever worked at…

* The ‘blood-splash’ curtains in the hotel rooms. Whoever thought that would be a good idea in decorating?

* Meeting all my writing buddies again, and making many more new friends!


Shenanigans were involved, as always, with my writing buddies (from left to right): Kylie Griffin (fantasy romance), Jennie Kew (erotic and contemporary), moi, and Dakota Harrison (contemporary). PS, this is the costume party, we don’t usually dress like that. 

* Turning up to the cocktail party and walking past my friend Kylie Griffin forty times, because I didn’t recognise her in her costume – and she doesn’t usually attend. (Also, I didn’t have my glasses on, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). I kept thinking, ‘Who is this woman that is grinning at me? Do I know her?’ Kudos to Dakota, who saw her name tag and demanded to know where she’d gotten Kylie Griffin’s name badge from, before the penny dropped!

*The amazing food! It’s been the best conference in terms of food – was devastated to get to the cocktail party after eating a burger, only to find heaps of delicious platters being circulated! Usually we are all starving and that one glass of champagne goes straight to your head! (Ha, ha, one glass…) We thought we’d be so wise this year and it totally backfired. Also, the awards dinner menu was superb! It’s alternating plates, and usually I always get the meal I don’t like, but everything on the menu was fantastic.

*Eating my body weight in passionfruit over the weekend. The fruit platters were OMG, Nom, nom….

In summing up, conference is always a shot of inspiration, and my mind is reeling with ideas I can’t wait to get to work on.

In other news, there was a Facebook Chat Party this morning (or yesterday’s evening if you’re American), and if you want to check out what went down, click here (in which we bribe you with pics of tattoos and hot, bearded men). Featuring Meljean Brook, Karina Cooper, Kristen Callihan and Delilah S. Dawson (and me), it was a blast.

Aug 5
Facebook Chat with Meljean Brook on August 11th

Love steampunk? Parnormal romance? Giveaways? Getting to join some of your favourite authors for a fun Facebook chat?

Then clear the diary – on Monday 11th August, between 6:30 – 9:30pm (EDT), I’ll be joining Karina Cooper and Kristen Callihan over at Meljean Brook’s Facebook Page. Click here for more details!


MeljeanBrookChat copy

Jun 17
Cover Reveals

A couple of new covers to reveal today!

First up is the Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace (London Steampunk 3.5), due for eBook release in August.

Friends, partners, and professionals… So just why is this case coming between them?

BecMcMaster-ClockworkMenaceDraft2-2In a Victorian London ruled by the blood-drinking elite, Perry Lowell is a logical and accomplished Nighthawk: a rogue blue blood who tracks murderers and thieves for the Guild. So when she and her charming-but-reckless partner, Garrett, are charged with finding a missing theatre starlet, it should be a simple solve.

But with an entire theatre of suspects, including a flirtatious understudy and whispers of a Clockwork Menace haunting the place, tension is brewing between the pair of them. Can they come together to solve the case – or will it be too late, when the murderer turns his gaze on Perry herself?

Warning: This is not a traditional HEA. Set three years before Forged By Desire (available Sept 2014), it’s a pre-romance novella featuring Perry and Garrett. Heads will butt, tempers will flare – and perhaps one of them might come to realise just what the other truly means to them?


Then we have Of Silk And Steam (London Steampunk 5), due out in March 2015.

Of Silk and Steam

When her father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge against the Duke of Caine. Leo Barrons, the Duke’s heir, has long been her nemesis, and when she discovers he’s illegitimate, she finally has leverage against the one man who troubles her heart and tempts her body.

Sentenced to death for his duplicity, Leo escapes by holding Aramina captive. A woman of mystery, she’s long driven him crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she’s hiding something; he doesn’t know it’s the key to saving his life.

Jun 17
Goodreads Giveaway of Forged By Desire

There’s a giveaway of five (5) copies of Forged By Desire running over at Goodreads at the moment! The winners will be drawn on August 5th, 2014.


Click here to enter (US Only).

May 29
Newsletter Serial

As some of you may know, I’m running a serial story in my monthly (sometimes it’s less than monthly (: ) newsletter. One of the things I always wanted to go back and write about was the time when Will was rescued from the cage by Blade and first came to the Warren. Just how does a traumatised little boy go from life in a cage to learning to trust the people who’ve ‘adopted’ him? Can he believe their promises? And how do Blade and the gang at the Warren learn to deal with a verwulfen boy who has no socialisation skills?


It’s a lot of fun, and will be running in the newsletter over the next couple of months. Right now, only the first two chapters have been written and released. I don’t think I’m finished with what I want to do with the story yet. If anyone who has newly signed up to the newsletter wants to read the earlier chapters, I’m going to put them together in a single newsletter format.

Just email your interest to me using the Contact page and let me know that you’d like to see the story from the start. I’ll happily send you out the serial newsletter so you can catch up! (Edited to add: I think you might have to sign up to the newsletter for it to register on mail chimp, which is the newsletter service I use. I won’t claim to be a techno guru, so there could be other options of doing it, but I’m pretty sure I can just forward on the serial newsletter once you’re signed up. If you have a better option, please email me (: Like I said, techno-gumby).

The next newsletter will be going out on Monday the 9th June. Look out for a new cover reveal, the third chapter in Will’s serial, and maybe some news on where London Steampunk is going next.

May 24
Forged By Desire First Chapter

Here’s the first chapter of Forged By Desire. I’m hoping to have it up on the books page soon, but hopefully this will tide you over until then.

Warning: I wouldn’t consider them spoilers for My Lady Quicksilver (book three), but there is an event that occurs here that occurred in My Lady Quicksilver, only this time, it’s from Garrett’s POV. Read on at your own risk. 



He dreamed of red silk…

In his dream, Garrett Reed straightened the white bow tie he wore, glanced once at the crowd of elegantly dressed aristocrats, and then turned and opened the hackney door.

“About damned time.”

His gaze slid over the woman within, taking in the acres of tight red silk and the froth of lace framing high, creamy breasts. Perry cursed under her breath as she tried to gather up her skirts and the brass-plated fan she used as a weapon. “You could offer me your hand.”

As he should have. Garrett was still trying to gather his wits. He’d never before equated Perry with dresses; indeed, he’d never have thought that she could actually pull off this subterfuge. The entire time he’d known her, she’d worn the tight black leathers of the Guild of the Nighthawks, hunting murderers and thieves across the rooftops of London with him. At first glance most people mistook her for a lad, and Garrett himself rarely thought of her as a woman. At least until tonight.

It was his own damned fault. He was the one who’d told her he didn’t think she could do it. A dare—fool the aristocratic Echelon into thinking she was one of their own.

Belatedly he offered her his arm. Perry stepped down, her gloved hand resting lightly on his forearm and her eyes raking the crowd for any signs of their targets. As he should have been doing. Garrett was still moving a step behind, unable to concentrate on more than one thing. And that one thing smelled like French vanilla perfume.

“Can you see Lynch? Or Rosalind?” Perry asked.

Garrett slid his hand over the small of her back. He couldn’t stop looking at her, as if a part of him still couldn’t believe that this elegant, beautiful woman beside him was the same partner he’d worked with for the last nine years.

As if sensing his gaze, she glanced up at him, a slow smile creeping over her lips. “I’ve never seen you struck dumb before.”

“I’m not without words,” he countered, guiding her toward the marble stairs that led to the opera house.

“You’ve barely managed a conversation since we embarked in the carriage. I do hope I haven’t stolen all your wits.”

Garrett leaned close enough to murmur in her ear. “If you keep going, you could steal something else as well.”

Those eyes were watchful, as if she wasn’t quite used to flirtation, especially not from him. “If I wanted your heart,” she whispered, “I’d cut it out of your chest with my knife.”

“I prefer something subtler.”

Perry’s painted red lips curved up in a genuine smile, though her eyes still searched the crowd. “Concentrate.”

“I am.” He glanced again at the faint swelling of her breasts—breasts he’d never noticed before. A tight fist of need clenched in his gut.

“On the reason we’re here.”

Garrett plucked the opera tickets from the inner pocket of his coat as they approached the main doors. This was the true test. Neither of them was of the Echelon, the aristocratic blue bloods that ruled London. If they were turned away here, the Nighthawk Guild’s Master, Sir Jasper Lynch, and his secretary, Rosalind, would be alone inside.

With dozens of humanists who were plotting another terrorist attack on the Echelon. They wouldn’t discriminate between the blue blood lords they despised and a blue blood rogue like Lynch.

This wasn’t the first time the humanists had struck. But the attacks so far had been small, merely tests. Several lords had been driven into a blood frenzy by small mysterious devices the terrorists called Doeppler Orbs. If they set enough of these orbs into action in a theater full of blue bloods, it would be a bloodbath.

Perry’s hand tightened on his sleeve as he handed the tickets over to the liveried servant. The man scrutinized the pair of them through a monocle, then nodded and let them through.

Shadows flickered through Garrett’s vision, the darkness in him bubbling up. It was far too easy to summon these days, and much more difficult to dispel.

Garrett forced a smile to his lips and swept a pair of champagne glasses from the tray of a passing servant drone. The automaton rolled away through the crowd with a faint teakettle hiss, the sound itching along Garrett’s skin. He forced himself to continue, to ignore it. It hadn’t always been this way. His craving virus levels had been sitting at a reasonably healthy thirty-two percent for the past three years.

But a week ago, a blue blood lord in the grip of a blood frenzy had tried to rip Garrett’s heart out of his chest and very nearly succeeded. It was one of the few ways to truly kill a blue blood, and in the effort to heal itself, his body had relaxed the fight against the virus. Garrett’s virus level had more than doubled, leaving him struggling to fight a hunger he hadn’t had a chance to acclimatize to.

He was barely managing to rein himself in these days. He couldn’t let anyone see how close to the edge he was. Especially not Perry.

The noise swelled to a dull roar. Brightly colored silk filled the room, and feathered headdresses bobbed like a menagerie of birds. Garrett grimaced as he directed Perry to a small, out-of-the-way place beside a marble column. He usually liked these events, but since the attack, the presence of too many people only seemed to crowd in on him.

“There’s Rosa.” Perry tilted her head toward the stairs as she sipped her champagne.

Indeed, when he looked, he saw the coppery curls of Rosalind’s coif beneath the candelabra’s light. A dark shadow almost obliterated her as a man swept her out of the way of the crowd. Lynch.

Garrett turned his back on them. Lynch was a recognizable figure. If any of the humanists saw him here, they’d know what he was about. However, Garrett and Perry were unknowns and needed to keep it that way.

“Keep an eye on them,” he instructed quietly, pressing close enough to Perry that her skirts brushed against his polished shoes. “But don’t stare. And act like you’ve seen all of this a thousand times before. You’re my thrall, remember?” The thought sent a flash of darkness through his vision. The idea of Perry as his personal blood slave was heady.

For a moment he almost envied the blue blood lords parading their thralls—young ladies who exchanged their blood rights in exchange for protection, gifts, and an honorable thrall contract—through the room. Garrett’s gaze drifted to Perry’s throat and the fierce, flickering beat of her pulse.

Idly fanning herself, Perry glanced around the room with a slightly bored expression. “I do know what I’m doing.”

“So do I.”

“Yes, but playing a cad is already within your repertoire.” The fan stirred cool air over his lips as he reached out and leaned his hand against the column behind her. Perry’s expression lashed pure heat through him. “That was never in any doubt.”

“If I doubt you, it’s only because you’ve never played the lady before.”

“Perhaps you simply never noticed.”

He looked down. There was a slightly challenging note beneath the words.

“You do play the role well.” His eyes narrowed. It was an unspoken rule that when a blue blood showed up on the guild’s doorstep, nobody ever asked about their past.

Most blue bloods were created during the blood rites, a rite of passage offered to certain privileged sons among the aristocracy and strictly controlled. Accidents occurred, however, when the merest scratch could transmit to others the virus that made the blue bloods what they were. Those accidents were declared rogues, forced to join either the Nighthawks or the Coldrush Guards that guarded the Echelon. Kept alive only for their usefulness.

He’d never asked about Perry’s past, though he’d often wondered. Women were strictly forbidden the blood rites for fear their gentle natures would succumb to hysteria at the fierce hunger of the craving. He wasn’t certain if any of the men who’d decreed such a law had actually met Perry, or the only other female blue blood, the Duchess of Casavian.

“Indeed, you play the part almost too well,” he continued, to see how Perry would react.

The fan fluttered, stirring the black curls of her wig and the lace trim of her dress. It drew his attention to the faint pulse in her bare throat, to the fine tracery of blue veins beneath her creamy skin. Hunger burned within him. Again his vision flickered to black-and-white tones. The world became a little distant, as if something was drawing him away from it.

“I wasn’t born in breeches, Garrett.”

She’d said something. He yanked his gaze up, trying to focus. “I hope not. I’d have thought you’d have been naked.” It was what he would have said a month ago. An idle flirtation that didn’t require much thinking to mouth. Reaching out, he caught the top of the fan, feeling the razor-sharp edge against the pads of his fingers. It was irritating him, making the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

She rapped his knuckles with it. “Behave.”

“Just playing a role, my love.”

“So am I. La femme fatale.” She sliced the fan in the air just in front of his nose, forcing him to take a step back. With a slow, wicked smile, Perry strolled out from under his arm, catching up her skirts with one hand as she deposited the empty champagne glass on a drone’s tray. He followed her lead as she stalked away.

Dangerous woman.

“That way,” Perry said, pointing along the corridor with her fan. “Rosa and Lynch are heading for the stairs. Which means we need to disappear until the crowd has thinned.”

Then it was their task to search the foyer and backstage for either the humanists or the Doeppler Orbs.

“I am your humble servant,” he replied, following in the wake of her swishing bustle.

“Servant, perhaps,” she murmured under her breath. “Humble? Never.”

The bell rang, signaling that the patrons ought to be seated. Suddenly Garrett and Perry were fighting against the tide of the crowd. A young lord’s shoulder hit Garrett’s, throwing him off balance, and he bared his teeth in a silent snarl. He could smell blood in the air, his gut clenching. It was probably in the champagne.

Bloody hell. He needed to get this over with and get out of here.

“Perhaps you’d care to use the powder room?” His hand slid to the small of Perry’s back, helping her keep her balance against skirts that had to be somewhat unfamiliar. Fingers flexing against the supple muscle along her spine, he let out the breath he’d been holding. Touching her felt like holding on to an anchor. In the darkness that was slowly becoming his world, Perry was a reliable, solid light that slowly drew him back to safer shores.

“We’re alone.” Garrett pushed ahead of her and pressed his fingertips to the door to the powder room, listening for a moment. Nothing.

He shoved the door open and stalked inside, shrugging out of his evening coat. A white silk waistcoat strained over his chest, gleaming back at him from the floor-length mirrors. A pair of white leather holsters rode over his shoulders, with two small pistols that would each fit in the palm of his hand. There was a knife in his boot, but the main weapon was his body.

Behind him, Perry locked the door. She lifted her heel onto a champagne-colored divan, then slowly dragged a fistful of her skirts up, revealing her flesh-colored stockings. He caught a glimpse of her gray eyes, watching him in the reflection. Watching his reaction.

She might not have owned an abundance of curves, but she had legs as long and lean as a dancer’s. “Perry,” Garrett warned. This was no longer fun. She was pushing him toward the edge, and he was far too close to it as it was.

Her gloved hands slowed, dragging her skirt a fraction higher until her garter ribbons were revealed. This time Perry watched him openly, her gaze locking on his in the reflection as she slowly dragged her pistol from the holster strapped to her thigh.

Garrett tugged at the gleaming white silk of his bow tie. “Bloody hell. That’s enough, Perry. You win. You look entirely fetching in a gown. And partially out of it.”

“I’m nowhere near finished, Garrett.”

This was a side to Perry that he’d never seen, never even dreamed existed. As a Nighthawk, she’d been forced to expel the myth that her gender made her vulnerable in any way. She generally preferred her own company and rarely jested, let alone flirted. It was as if putting on the dress had relaxed her inhibitions, and his dare had only served to throw down the gauntlet between them.

The predator inside him noted that they were all alone, locked inside by her own devices. It stirred restlessly.

She snapped open the barrel of the pistol and checked the ammunition. When she looked up, the heeled slippers brought her face almost to his. His cock hardened, each muscle in his abdomen tightening as if for a blow. Don’t.

Their eyes met. “Do you remember when you laughed at me and said I wouldn’t know one end of a dress from the other?”

“So this is revenge?” His lashes lowered. “Don’t play games you can’t afford to lose. I’ll only offer my surrender this once.” He gave in. Let his eyes bleed to black for her. To show her just how close the line was for him.

Perry sucked in a sharp breath but she didn’t back away. And that was the mistake they both made.

His hand slid up her cheek, the silk of his gloves cupping her face in his. He knew what her blood tasted like. She’d cut her wrist for him when he lay gasping on the floor a week ago, with his heart ripped half out of his chest. Perry’s blood had healed him, but the desire for it had never quite gone away.

And this time he wasn’t injured.

Perry caught her breath and wrenched away from him. Her eyes glittered darkly in the mirror as they met his. “You’re right. I accept your surrender.”

Garrett stepped closer, sliding his hands over her shoulders. “I’m no longer offering it,” he murmured and pressed his lips against the smooth silk of her neck.

“This isn’t… We shouldn’t—”

He could feel her trembling. God, he wanted her. One hand slid around her waist, drawing her back into his arms. Perry’s hand caught his, holding it against her abdomen as if uncertain whether to draw it away or tug it closer, but the softening of her stance betrayed her. She melted back against him with a low moan. “Garrett…”

The thought skittered away, drowning in a flood of darkness as the hunger washed over him. His lips trailed against her nape, the edge of his teeth riding over that flawless white skin. The hunger in him burned hot, until he could barely see or hear anything that didn’t have to do with her.

All he wanted was her. All he needed… And damn her, he was going to take it.

Hand fisting in the pearls at her throat, Garrett yanked her head to the side. He couldn’t remember triggering the concealed knife in his sleeve, but the hilt of it was warm in his hand. Their eyes met in the mirror, and his irises were black flame. Shouldn’t do this. Control yourself. Then the moment was gone and he slashed the small blade across her throat.

Warm blood splashed against his mouth as Perry gasped. He lapped at it, suckling hard. Not enough. Never enough.

Soft cries cut the air as her body jerked in release. Then she was melting against him, her weight falling into his arms and her blood wetting his lips.

He caught a glimpse of those amazing gray eyes, wide and alarmed, but couldn’t stop himself from drinking more, feeling her weaken, hearing her heart shudder in her chest, her breath catch in her lungs. Blackness swept through his vision, turning the world dark. Prey. His prey. And she was all his. He’d drink her dry, steal the last shuddering breaths of ecstasy from her body as he—

“Garrett, stop!” she whispered, and he realized she’d been saying it for a while now. “Please, stop…”

The dream shattered.


Garrett sucked in a huge breath and bolted upright, breathing hard. His fingers clenched in the blankets as they fell into his naked lap.

The world was dark and silent, the steel shutters drawn across his window to keep the sunlight out so he could sleep. Yet everything in the room was clearly visible, his blue-blood senses so superior he could make out each piece of furniture and article of clothing. Holding his head in his hands, he rocked back and forth, trying to fight the raging desire that burned through him.

Perry. At the opera.

The dream struck him every time he closed his eyes, though events had not played out that way in life. Perry had stopped him before he took her blood, slamming him back against the wall with her own eyes bleeding to black and their breath mingling. They were so close to kissing that if the screams hadn’t started echoing down the hallways outside, he didn’t know what would have happened.

“Bloody hell.” Swallowing hard, he brought his shaking hands down from his face. The dream always ended that way. The hunger overwhelming him until all he cared for was her blood. Sometimes he woke before the end. Those were the better nightmares.

Sometimes he had to witness the whole damned thing.

A month since that incident at the opera, and he couldn’t forget it. He’d never thought of Perry as a woman, as a beautiful woman, until that night. Now the thought haunted him.

His hands were still shaking. Garrett sucked in a steady breath and lowered them. Movement fractured off the small mirror attached to the vanity. Himself, still in shades of gray instead of color, his eyes as black as the demon inside him. The hunger.

Shoving the blankets aside, Garrett made his way to the vanity and stared at himself in the mirror, taking slow, steady breaths until he could see the blackness washing out of his eyes. Come on. The muscle in his jaw tightened. He could control this. He would.

But it was growing harder and harder each day. No matter how much blood he drank, the hunger kept growing until it was a gnawing pit within him, eating away at bits of his soul until he was afraid one day he wouldn’t wake up from the dream. One day, the dream would be real.

“Damn it,” he muttered, grinding the heels of his palms against his eyes. Anything to force it down.

The intensity was ebbing slowly, his heart returning to its normal rhythm. Garrett slowly lowered his hands, staring at the blue of his eyes in the mirror. Almost normal. Only a shadow existed, a warning that the demon of his hunger haunted him still.

Pouring water into his shaving jug, he splashed it across his face. The heavy brass spectrometer in the corner caught his eye. There was no point avoiding it. Ignoring the truth didn’t make it go away.

Taking up his razor, he slashed a small cut across his finger and squeezed it to make blood well. It oozed slowly through the cut, the dark bluish-red that gave blue bloods their name. Slowly the drop quivered on the tip of his finger, then fell into the glass vial at the end of the spectrometer. Garrett squeezed another two drops out, but the cut was almost healed. With a grimace, he turned the dials on the spectrometer to start the acidic reaction.

The device spat out a small roll of paper with several numbers printed on it. He ignored the first three and went straight to the craving virus percentage.


Garrett stared at the piece of paper for a long time, then scrunched it up in his fist. The numbers were still burned across his retinas. They’d increased since his last reading, which had been yesterday morning.

Suddenly it wasn’t enough to clench the paper in his fist. He tore it into fine shreds, discarding them among the ashes in his cold hearth. He had a duty to report this. Any blue blood that reached CV levels of nearly seventy percent was staring the Fade in the eye. It was something every blue blood feared, the final, unstoppable progression of the disease.

Soon his skin would start paling, the color bleaching out of his hair and eyes as he evolved—or devolved—into something inhuman, something utterly vampiric. A blood-thirsty monster incapable of rational thought, driven only by its hungers. The albinism probably would have started already if his levels had climbed slowly, but the swiftness of his increase had saved him from that at least. He had time to hide this.

A rash of vampires a century ago had made it compulsory to deliver reports of high craving levels to the authorities. Nearing seventy percent was cause for increased surveillance. Any higher and they’d consider executing him.

Panic burned through his chest. He couldn’t let anyone know. He had to find a way to deal with this. He wasn’t ready, hadn’t done everything he wanted to… Garrett turned and scraped the spectrometer off the bench as incoherent fear roared through him. Kept going. Smashed the mirror, the shaving bowl, ripped the linens from the bed.

None of it made him feel better. None of it made the truth go away. He froze in the middle of the room, quivering as the rage left him. The carnage was catastrophic. The type of thing the authorities would expect to find if they discovered out how high his CV levels were.

Water spilled across the floor, mingling with the small patch of blood from the spectrometer. Instantly the puddle diluted, but all he could see was blood. Could smell it, feel the need for it bubbling up within him.

And suddenly Perry flashed into his mind, an image from his dream, smiling up at him from behind her fan as she flirted with him. Blood welled from her throat and the smile died as she clapped a hand to her throat, blood pouring through her white satin gloves and running down her arm and décolletage.

Garrett collapsed to his knees on the floor, sinking his head into his hands again.

If he didn’t report this, then the consequences could be catastrophic.

For he knew who his first victim would be.