The Paladins (The Artisans #2) by Julie Reece
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
The Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives...or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?
Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.
The Paladins completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts.
When I unfist my hands, my knee bounces instead. I focus on Rosamond. I’m here to help her, and if I can, save myself as well. All I want is freedom, real freedom this time. Well, and maybe to leave with Raven.
And then she’s here. A chain on her boot jingles with each step. My eyes follow her long legs until they disappear under a leather miniskirt; linger over her red mouth and spooky gray eyes. Seeing her again blows the doubt from my mind and breathes fresh air into my lungs. I’m out of my seat before I know what I’m doing. Her hand is small inside mine. “Raven.” The name is healing, her gentle touch medicinal.
She throws her arms around my neck and hugs me tight. “I’m glad to see you.”
Whoa, me too. “Hello, duck.”
Our embrace is awkward, but the clumsiness is all on my end. I curse my rusty skills as I pat her back. The motion feels wrong, like something you’d do with your sister. Damn it.
She smells like flowers and rain. Clean, like a baptism, or a new beginning. I feel Gideon’s eyes boring into my back and resist the impulse to flip him off. Raven should have the choice of who she dates—more choice than Maddox, anyway. This girl isn’t another possession to flaunt. She’s smart, and kind, and generous. She deserves the moon, and I doubt Maddox cares.
I hug her a few seconds too long, mostly because I think it will piss him off. When I release her, instead of sitting near me, as I’d hoped, she inches her pretty derriere over the edge of Gideon’s desk.
“What brings you here, Cole?” The guy’s nostrils flare as though he’d like to break my face. I imagine he would, too, if not for Raven’s influence.
I retake my seat, rubbing my hands down the legs of my jeans. I assume it’s okay to talk in front of the others. If he’s got no objection to his friends hearing about our collective oddities, I shouldn’t either. “I’ve got a problem.” My gaze darts around the room. “Actually, I wonder if we don’t have a problem. And I need your help.”
“Something that couldn’t be handled with a phone call, I’m guessing?” Gideon takes a large, gold coin from his pocket and rolls the piece through his fingers. A habit I’ve seen him perform many times.
For the sake of the lost girl haunting me, I hold my ground. “Not a chance, mate.”
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.
To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.
Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.
But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.
Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.
Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.
But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.
I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.
Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.
Then I thought I’d write one down…
Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!
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