Author: Lori Sjoberg
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: January 19, 2015
Handsome and haunted, he’s a reaper who prefers to work alone. But Fate has other plans for him and the sassy secret agent who shot him in another life—if their pasts don’t catch up with them first.
Dmitri Stavitsky has never played well with others—a Soviet KGB spy in life turned reaper after death, his work of bringing souls to the other side is best done alone. But orders from the top soon place him alongside fellow reaper Gwen Peterson, the American counter intelligence agent who took his life so many years ago.
Now, as a ghost from Gwen’s past resurfaces with the power to steal reapers’ souls, the two have no choice but to set aside their differences and apprehend the rogue together. But their cross-country mission soon ignites feelings Dmitri thought he was no longer capable of—for the woman who helped destroy him. With an ancient force and a small army against them, he’ll have to let go of old grudges or risk his future with Gwen…as Fate hangs dangerously in the balance.
People this side of town had a nasty habit of killing each other. Dmitri Stavitsky leaned against the wall of the Gas ’N Grub and hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans. Stores around here closed before dark, with their doors double-bolted and metal gates rolled over the windows. The ice machine to his left made a continuous thunk-thunk-thunk sound that drowned out some of the traffic noise from the county road less than a hundred yards away. To his right, a group of teenage boys played basketball in front of a house no bigger than a two-car garage. The court was dirt and the hoop had no net, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.
The area was a familiar work site for reapers. Things had always leaned toward the dangerous side in the Midway district, but turf wars had claimed twelve lives in the past two weeks and even the police were keeping their distance after dusk. And with so many people dying in the streets, Dmitri had no choice but to rotate reapers into the area so no face would become too familiar with the locals.
Dmitri stuffed his hands in his pockets and turned away from the flashing blue lights. Without so much as a backward glance, he shuffled toward the main road. The police didn’t notice him and even if they did, they would assume he was just another vagrant passing through town. They’d never suspect his true nature, the predator lurking in plain sight. He reached the gas station about fifteen minutes later, the parking lot brightly lit and only one truck at the pumps.
Some sorry excuse for a human being had boosted his pride and joy. He’d left his classic Dodge Challenger coupe parked along the north side of the building by the pay phone, but now the spot sat empty.
Temper flaring, he kicked the nearby trash can. He’d put a lot of work into that fucking car. Last summer, he rebuilt the transmission and reupholstered the interior. It had taken him weeks to find the parts needed to fix the carburetor. Whoever stole it was in for a world of pain when he hunted them down. And he would. It was only a matter of time.
Dmitri retrieved his phone from his back pocket and scrolled through his list of contacts. All of the reapers in his unit were booked solid tonight, but a few were working in the general vicinity. Ruby had an eleven-fifteen down by Walt Disney World, but Adam wasn’t due to his appointment in Lake Mary for another ninety minutes.
Plenty of time to swing by and give him a lift.
He was waiting for Adam to pick up when a familiar rumble caught his attention. His head whipped toward the sound, his blood pressure spiking when he saw his own car swinging into the lot. The Challenger veered around the gas pumps and headed straight to where he stood. With the dark tint he couldn’t make out the driver right away, but as the car rolled closer, the person slowly came into view.
The driver’s side window rolled down, and an unwelcome blast from the past stared back at him. During their mortal lifetimes, she’d worked counterintelligence for the United States government. She’d updated her hairstyle since the last time they crossed paths, but other – wise she looked exactly the same. Same hazel eyes and angular face. Athletic build. Zero makeup. And judging by the condition of her fingernails, she still bit them regularly. Like most creatures of habit, Gwen Peterson abhorred change.
“That’s my car,” he bit out through gritted teeth.
“Yeah, I know. I got bored waiting around for you, so I decided to take it out for a little spin.” After all these years, she still hadn’t lost an ounce of that grating New England accent. The honey-blond nightmare flashed him a grin, and her eyes crinkled at the corners.
She drummed her fingers against the top of the steering wheel. “It’s a really sweet ride, Red. You must have put a lot of work into it. Hop in. We’re late.”
Her grin widened to a smile. “You’ll see.”
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I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. Ever since his first appearance, Dmitri both intrigued and seduced me with his no nonsense character and dark and silent demeanor. Over the years I’ve come to realize, if done right, these are the characters that are most explosive in their own books. Dmitri? Wait, is there more explosive than most explosive? Because he was that. I skimmed through the first half of the book without even realizing, and stopped only when my eyes wouldn’t open any more or I found myself reading the same sentences over and over. I simply didn’t want to lose one moment of Dmitri and Gwen’s experience.
Those who are familiar with this series will know that these guys and gals are reapers. Working for Fate, they capture the souls of the departed and lead them on to the next leg of their journey. Those who haven’t read though, please do so starting from the first book so you don’t miss the great previous reading experience. When summarizing like this, it all sounds like drama unfolding between reapers and their human charges, but it’s far from that. They have to battle some supernatural creatures and other miscreants as well. And let’s not forget about the romance. They have to battle evil, reap souls, try to stay in one piece and find and keep their one and only after all.
There aren’t enough words to describe how I felt for Dmitri. So far, he was tough, cold, completely immersed in the work he had to do in order to redeem his soul, and working alone while doing it. There isn’t much to tell about who he was as a reaper, since it was all pretty straightforward. But who he used to be, and who he became when he was around Gwen is another matter, and most definitely worth the read. When he was with Gwen, he was surly only a little, but mostly he let us see the man he pushed back inside. And what a man. Not only was he passionate and caring, but the hurt he bottled up inside really tore at my heart. The way he loved Gwen and warred with the shadow of both their pasts played a good long melody with my heartstrings I tell you.
And Gwen. A tortured soul through and through, she was more open than Dmitri. We discovered more about her before Dmitri could finally open up, and seeing the emotional woman inside the kickass heroine really made me love her all the more. When it came to no nonsense, she was the same as Dmitri, and coming from the opposite sides of the same past made their connection even stronger. Plus, the way they became reapers, call me weird but, I thought was romantic as hell. Yeah, I have a twisted idea of romance. There are a lot more I want to talk about these two but there’s no way I can do that without spoiling this story and I can’t be that cruel to you guys.
But I can talk a bit more about the plot. As much as I love a good romance-and Dmitri and Gwen give us that- there’s a good amount of action in there too. This book was also a turning point for the plotline, one I can’t wait to see resolve. I’m just glad to know there are more reapers to go around whose stories I can still anxiously await, and believe me when I say I do. I so do.
A top notch addition to Lori Sjoberg’s Grave series that I recommend to everyone who wishes for a fresh look at the concept of death, and who would love to try something new in paranormal romance. I know I’m not supposed to be shallow, but I can’t help but point out the covers too. Would you look at them? Aren’t they so pretty sexy that you wish you were the model?
I’m adding five huge spoonfuls of this story into my hodgepodge, and though I can’t give up on my life just yet, I wouldn’t mind one of these reapers to pay me a visit sometime. You know, to build a bridge between our world and their own. To act as mediator. And while helping them out, if one of them falls for me, would that be too much to ask?
Lori was a born a coal miner’s daughter. No wait, that’s not right. Actually, she was born a carpenter’s daughter. Her mother was a housewife/homemaker/stay-at-home mom – whatever the politically correct term is these days. Basically, she made sure Lori didn’t get into too much trouble, a task easier said than done.
Growing up the youngest of three girls, Lori never had control of the remote. (Not that she’s bitter about that. Really. Okay, maybe a little, but it’s not like she’s scarred for life or anything.) That meant a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits – you name it, she watched it. It fed her imagination, and that came in handy when the hormones kicked in and she needed a creative excuse for being out past curfew.
After completing her first manuscript, she joined the Romance Writers of America and Central Florida Romance Writers. Now she exercises the analytical half of her brain at work, and the creative half writing paranormal romance. When she’s not doing either one of those, she’s usually spending time with her husband and children of the four-legged variety.
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