Today we’ve got the awesome duo who make up MOIRA ROGERS with a fabulous sneaky peek at ARCHER’S LADY
Blurby Bit: She’s looking for redemption. He doesn’t believe in it.
Accused of betraying the Bloodhound Guild, Archer’s only chance to regain the trust of his fellow hounds is to earn it–one dangerous job at a time. Crystal Springs may be the worst yet. The town has been deserted by all but the poor and the desperate, yet the vampires stalking the edges of the settlement haven’t closed in for the kill. Question is, why?
Grace Linwood, professional liar, has been hiding under the guise of a border schoolteacher for so long, she’s almost fallen for her own con. The frontier was supposed to be her chance at a respectable life, but now the cowardly part of her wants to flee. When Archer catches her considering a run for safety, she knows it’s only a matter of time before he sees through her charade.
They become reluctant allies in the quest to uncover the mysteries of Crystal Springs, but every unraveled knot ties them closer together. They both know their pasts are too shattered to hope for a future–until their investigation uncovers a secret. One that could make betraying the Guild their only path to redemption.
Warning: Contains a partly reformed con-artist heroine with a bruised heart and a mostly retired bank-robbing hero with a weary soul. Also included: vampire schemes, mad scientist plots, an alarming amount of dirty talk and some borderline-criminal bedroom antics in an alternate Wild West.
He opened the door and immediately turned his face from the bright beam of her twist-torch. “Grace?”
For one stupid moment she simply stared at him, at his broad shoulders and bare chest, at muscles and bare skin and scars. He was massive and impressive, a virile man when she hadn’t touched one in years.
Oh, she wanted.
Belatedly, she jerked the light away, pointing it toward the floor. “I—I’m sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have woken you, but I remembered something.”
He reached for a shirt and shoved his arms into it. “What is it?”
“About interesting people in town.” She should have thought to pull a robe around her body. “I remembered something Doc said to me once. It made me wonder, at the time, if he’d ever been associated with the Bloodhound Guild.”
Archer frowned. “That would explain how he managed to help Diana. What did he say?”
It was foolish to feel exposed in a dark hallway when everyone else in the building slept, but caution was too deeply ingrained. “It’s a delicate subject. Could we step inside?”
His shirt was still hanging open, and he started to button it as he stepped back. “How delicate can it be?”
She slipped past him, then took the few necessary steps to put space between them. “It was about the new moon.”
He drew up short, still, his gaze intense. “Grace, tell me.”
She did. “I sat with Doc during the new moon, especially toward the end when his… Well, when his mind started to go. He fretted about Diana. About what it did to her, having such unforgiving needs.” A polite, careful way to describe the sexual madness that claimed a bloodhound when the moon went dark. “He told me the Guild leaders had brought it on themselves, being so impatient to get their hands on a weapon that they accepted reckless side-effects. I thought he was simply a confused, tired old man…”
Archer let out a ragged breath. “What was his name, again?”
No one had used it. Sometimes Grace wondered if most people remembered it. “Thomas Beale.”
Archer repeated it softly and frowned as he shook his head. “I don’t know that name, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have worked for the Guild at some point. Do you think Diana knows for certain?”
“Perhaps.” Leaving the torch lit had been a mistake. Darkness might have been more intimate, but the shadows played across his face in the most intriguing ways. “Diana doesn’t betray confidences. She wouldn’t have told anyone unless she had good reason.”
His brows drew together even more, shadowing his eyes. “Grace.”
Had he caught her admiring him? His voice seemed caught between warning and something lower. Warmer. Her heart thudded too fast. “I’m sorry if I woke you over something trivial.”
He took the torch from her and set it on its end on the low table by the door. The light bounced off the ceiling, reflecting down around them in deep shadows. “You are not sorry.”
Grace curled her fingers toward her palms, desperate not to reach for him. But holding back her body couldn’t stop the words, raw and stripped of even the pretense of respectability. “Celibacy is more easily endured by virgins, I imagine. Three years of it has made me foolish.”
“I could take you.” He brushed a lock of hair back from her forehead. “But I don’t think you really want me to.”
Laughter fought its way past the knot in her throat. “You’re not terribly perceptive when it comes to women, are you?”
“You want me to now,” he clarified. “Tomorrow morning, you’ll feel differently.”
It was her turn to frown. “What happens tomorrow morning?”
“You’ll wake up in bed with a broken-down hound and the sun shining through the curtains,” he said simply.
So simple. So sad. She reached out to touch the scar on his cheek, the one barely visible in the shadows, the one she’d memorized already with too many furtive glances. “Undoubtedly the finest sort of man I’ve ever woken up in bed with.”
He cupped the back of her head. “You say that because you don’t know me.” He bent his head as he spoke, until he almost cut off his own words by slanting his mouth over hers.
How long since she’d been kissed? Years, to be sure. Longer still since she’d been kissed by a man who saw her, not the role she happened to be playing. Too long since her lips had been claimed with intent and hunger and skill, all firm pressure and warmth and wildness, so overwhelming she barely had the wit to kiss him back.
Archer hitched her up on the table with a growl, knocking over the handtorch. She clutched at his shirt as he leaned over her, deepening the kiss, and only his hand at the back of her head kept it from bumping against the wall.
She’d bedded men. Bad men, criminal men, but never a bloodhound. Exhilaration flooded her, edged with the tiniest thread of fear. He surrounded her, covered her, a beast in the shape of a man, and as careful as he was, there was no mistaking the proprietary command in the grip of his hands.
She was meant to melt. To yield. And even as her body obediently did the former, sheer madness drove her to deny him surrender. She closed her teeth on his lower lip instead, licked it and loved the taste of coffee for the first time.
He groaned and nudged her chin with his thumb, demanding access. Entrance. Grace gave it to him, parting her lips as she slid her hands up to tangle in his shaggy blond hair.
He settled between her thighs, and his erection pressed against her belly through their clothes. A moment later, he dragged his mouth to her cheek. “Yes or no, Grace? All you have to do is pick one.”
Today Moira Rogers is giving away a digital ARC of ARCHER’S LADY to one lucky winner, chosen from the comments to this post. Winner will be announced on the next prize announcement day, June 4. All winners are responsible for checking back to see if they’ve won.