Damaged Heroes…and Heroines
By Laurie London
One of my favorite romance tropes is the damaged hero, the guy who, through the love of one special woman, learns to overcome something horrible in his past and becomes a better version of himself. Unlike everyone else, only the heroine can see the real man underneath, not just the mask he’s created to protect himself. Given the wild popularity of Fifty Shades, I’m not alone in my love of this trope!
But what if the one with a horrible past is not just the hero, but the heroine too? Can he save her as well?
In Seduced By Blood, the fourth book in the Sweetblood series, Santiago, the Guardian’s region commander, is bold, brash and quick tempered. A pain in the ass kind of boss who expects everyone to jump when he gives them an order, he demands nothing less than excellence from those around him but is fiercely loyal to them as well. Never, ever has he let a woman in emotionally. He’s a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy.
He has a reason for this mask he’s built around himself, and it stems from a dark family legacy that he’s determined will end with him.
Roxy fell in love with a bad boy once and it almost destroyed her life. In fact, she’s still dealing with the fallout. As a result, she avoids men like that with a passion, opting instead for a few casual relationships with the brilliant professor-types who work with her at Tracker Academy.
Safe. Vanilla. Uncomplicated. But is she really happy?
Excerpt from SEDUCED BY BLOOD
By Laurie London
“Hola” Santiago said as he approached. “Roxanne, I presume?”
She straightened her spine at the sound of his voice and turned to face him. And for just a moment, he forgot entirely why he was here.
Since joining the Agency over a century ago, he’d been stationed in various parts of the world that most people only experienced by reading books and magazines, seeing pictures online or news clips on television. And he’d witnessed many astounding things. Tattooed pleasure workers in Thailand, secret Incan mating rituals, French courtesans well versed in the sexual arts. In short, he’d seen a lot, experienced a lot. There wasn’t much that could take his breath away.
“And you must be Santiago.”
God, he even liked the sound of her voice.
She picked at a twig nestled in her dark blond hair, which fell past her shoulders in messy, tangled curls, but she wasn’t having much luck.
“Here, let me get that.” Without thinking, he reached over and had to use two hands to keep from pulling her hair too much. “There, got it.”
It was only after he was done that he realized how intimate an action it had been. He stepped away and folded his arms over his chest as he studied her.
Despite the frigid night air, she wore a cream-colored tank top with a surf shop logo that sported a few blood stains, dark brown yoga pants—the kind that felt different depending on whether you ran your hand up or down the fabric, and slip-on, once-turquoise tennis shoes that were now covered in mud. The juxtaposition between feminine perfection and scrappy street fighter was so utterly arresting that the world fell away for one brief moment.
Although none of her individual features stood out on their own—straight nose, golden eyes framed by dark lashes, and lips that were neither thin nor generous—when they were put together, she was striking. Her face was oval, her skin smooth and unblemished except for a smudge on one cheek. He had the sudden urge to brush his fingertips against her skin to see if it was dirt or blood. She wasn’t old, but the confidence reflected in her eyes indicated that her Time of Change, when a vampire youthling’s blood cravings began, was decades behind her.
“So what do we have here?” he asked, glancing at the charred remains. His tone was purposely sharp and businesslike as he attempted to shake off his lingering reaction to her. He didn’t like losing control of his thoughts like this.
She fingered her necklace. “Turned out I was able to handle the situation on my own.”
“And the human witnesses?”
“They’ll need to be dealt with. I didn’t have the energy to wipe their minds, only to insert a sleep suggestion.”
Very clever, he thought, noticing for the first time the weariness in her eyes. “What about the other Darkblood? You said there were two.”
“I took care of them both. Here—” she toed her sneaker against the pile of ash at her feet, “—and over there about twelve to fifteen feet beyond that downed tree.”
“I don’t understand. You said on the phone you didn’t have any weapons.”
“I used theirs,” she said matter-of-factly, as if disarming two Darkbloods who were probably high on Sweet was something a teacher dealt with every day.
It still didn’t make sense. His confusion must’ve been apparent because she continued. “I pretended I was trying to get away from the sweetblood human, that I was concerned I might kill him, and needed their help.”
“So they knew you were a fellow vampire.”
“Yes, but they had no idea I knew they were Darkbloods. As soon as they didn’t consider me a threat and dropped their guard, it was a simple matter to strip their weapons and use them to my advantage.”
This woman performed under pressure as well as any Guardian he’d worked with, and yet she was just a teacher at Tracker Academy. What happened to the adage, ‘those who can’t do, teach’?
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Deep within the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the battle for supremacy rages on between two vampire coalitions: Guardian enforcers sworn to protect humanity, and Darkbloods, rogues who kill like their ancient ancestors... Hot-blooded and hard-edged, Tristan Santiago has an uncanny ability to see beneath the surface-a power that serves him well as the Guardians' region commander. But when a deadly plot against his fellow vampires is uncovered, he must turn to the one woman he can't read: the beautiful yet mysterious Roxanne Reynolds, whose sensual presence soothes his tormented memories. Roxy had put love before duty once before, with devastating results. But to root out a dangerous traitor in their midst, she must put her faith in Santiago, the one man skilled enough to break through her defenses. Posing as lovers, Santiago and Roxy work side by side-and discover a powerful craving that threatens to consume them both..