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All that Bleeds by Kimberly Frost

All That Bleeds (A Novel of the Etherlin)Within the elite community of the Etherlin, the descendants of the ancient muses are inspiration made flesh. But beyond the wall protecting their world wait the fallen, those who yearn to posses them…

As the last heiress of the House of North, Alissa has never been one to follow laws blindly. Striking up a secret friendship with a half-vampire enforcer is dangerous, but Merrick is a temptation she can’t resist.

Merrick’s desire for Alissa consumes him, though he knows better than to purse a muse. But when Alissa is kidnapped and brought outside the Etherlin walls, Merrick will do anything to protect the woman who tempts him with her very existence.

As enemies from both worlds threats, Alissa realizes that Merrick is the only one she can trust-even while the pull she feels toward him is the thing she fears most…

This book had me on the fence. Frost changes third person POV quite a bit which I don’t usually like, but in All that Bleeds it was, in a word, superb. The way she built Alissa and Merrick’s relationship was sweet and so entirely sexy that I was drooling through nearly the entire book. Here’s on of my favorite scenes:

Her brows shot up. “You rescued a kidnap victim. What charge could he possible make and who could he make it to?”

He returned to the bar. “Trespassing, for one.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she snapped.

He smiled. On the surface, Alissa North looked like an ice queen, but underneath she was pure fire. It was an irresistible combination. He poured scotch, then squeezed the juice from a line wedge into the glass.

“Scotch Lime. Mr. Hemingway invented that,” she said.

“How do you know?”

“I’ve seen memories of him in Key West.”

He glanced over his shoulder at her. “Seen memories? That’s some magice you people have.”

“Yes,” she said, smiling. “I’d rather not lose my place in Etherlin. Me being here, being bitten, getting an unscreend blood transfusion…” She shuddered. “Even though it wasn’t my fault, there would be unpleasant consequences for me.”

He’d heard rumors, has seen how cautious the muse-heiresses always were. The risk of being tossed out of their community was alwasys there. She took a sip of her drink. “This is very good, by the way.” She swallowed slowly. “You were able to get into the Etherlin once. Can you get me home without anyone knowing?”

He wanted to say no. The darkest part of his soul did not want to return her to where she belonged. It wanted to keep her. The vampire’s blood wanted to lock her in a tower with stone gargoyle sentries. Those rose-petal lips and crystalline eyes were a temptation that gnawed at his insides. He moved his hands behind his back so that he could clasp them into fists without her seeing.

“I can’t take you back the way I’d go in,” he said, and waited for her reaction. He wanted her to accept that she’d have to stay with him. Of course, that wouldn’t he her reaction, but he still held his tongue.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she murmured, tilting her head, soft blonde hair skimming her shoulder. “I do have a friend who I’m sure will help me conceal that I’ve been here when I tell him about the kidnapping. But he’ll be wary and watchful. For a while, he’ll probably insist on overseeing my work and my life. I won’t be able to risk sending you letters.” She studied his face. “For a while,” she added. “I could write again later. If you still want me to.”

He liked the way the statement implored him to respond in the affirmative. He would have anyway, but there was no denying that the lilt to her voice was pure muse. It had a pull, a sway, that spoke to the human half of him.

“There won’t be an interruption of the letters. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll wonder if you’re all right, and I’ll be inclined to come and check,” he said.

“It’s dangerous for me to have any connection to you. You know that. If anyone learns that I’ve been here-“

“No one from your side will know. I can’t take you the way I would use, but there’s a way for you to get back without calling your friends or family to help smuggle you in.” He thought of Lysander, who he’d already summoned. Merrick hoped it took all night for him to arrive.

The tip of Alissa’s tongue caressed he top lip, making his mouth go dry, his fangs descend, and his groin take notice. He clenched his fists tighter, fighting for control.

“Well? Are you going to tell me how? Or should I guess?” she asked with a smile. “I warn you, my lack of experience will probably get tedious after the first fifty unsuccessful guesses.”

“Hard to imagine anyone finding you tedious.”

“Mr. Merrick, I-” She paused, putting a hand to her throat.

Merrick wondered if she was unconsciously protecting herself with that move.

“It’s nice to find that I wasn’t wrong about you,” she said.

He arched an eyebrow in question.

“You’ve been charming to me, and sometimes I questioned whether it was a game to get me to trust you, so that I would be tempted to come here if you asked me to. And whether, once I was away from the protection of the Etherlin, you’d drain me dry and laugh at how gullible I’d been.”

It was such a reasonable suspicion, what could he possibly say?

“But I’m here, unprotected, and you’re still charming, still inviting me to trust you.” She lowered her fingers from her throat. “I do. Whatever else you are-despite what you are-I consider you my friend.”

She extended her hand. The hell of it was, he knew if he took it, there would be no power on Earth that would keep him from pulling her to him, and she’d learn how misplaced her trust in him could be. Then he’d be forced to see the disappointment in her eyes. God help him, despite what he was, he didn’t want that.

He swallowed against his dry throat and shook his head at her offered hand.

“Too much of a temptation?” She asked, drawing her hand back. The corner of his mouth quirked up into a rueful smile. “Yes. Every inch of you.”

“I’m sorry. . . but flattered.” sh said, as she took a step back. “Should I go into the bedroom? We could talk through the closed door.” Her voice had a slightly playful note to it.

He liked it when she flirted. Like it too much. Unfortunately, she was everything he’d built her up to be in his mind. How the hell could he go back to just the letters.

He unclenched his cramped fingers and went to the bar, where he poured himself another drink.

“Honestly, should I go into the room and close the door?”  she asked, all teasing gone.

He squeezed lime juice into the glass, watching it slither into the liquor. “It wouldn’t do any good. I’d come in after you.” And we’d be closer to a bed.

“Mr. Merrick, what’s your first name?”

“Just call me Merrick. Everyone does.”

“But isn’t that your last name? You can call me Alissa, and I thought I could call you by your first name. Just for this evening, since we’re the only ones here.”

He poured the scotch down his throat in two slow swallows, then looked over his shoulder to find her watching him. “Do you think it’s wise to invite that kind of intimacy?”

“Not normally, but I think this may be the only time we’ll ever be in a room together.”

Don’t count on it. He set the empty glass down and moved toward her casually, so he wouldn’t put her on her guard. He liked that she was relaxed around him.

“I’d like to talk to you as a friend would,” she said.

A friend? His intentions could hardly be considered friendly . He watched her mouth move. There was a very good chance that if he kissed her, he’d be able to let her go if she resisted. He took another step in her direction. She was only a few feet away. One swift lunge and the struggle with himself would be over.

She smiled, tantalizing him. Another step. She was within reach now. He glanced at the rug. Expensive, but not soft. The couch was nearer than the bedroom.

He’d seduce her. He could probably keep himself from biting her. At the moment, her blood was diluted from the transfusion. Plus, control was one of his strengths–normally. The danger was that he’d waited such a long time to taste her. Who’d have thought letters could be foreplay?

“I’m curious about your life and your past,” she said. “I’d love to ask-“

She didn’t see him reach for her because. . .

And that’s all of my favorite section your going to get! HaHaHaHa!!!! Want more? Get the book. It’s so unbelievably worth it. I give this book five stars because my lady parts were humming through the entire thing, there’s action, drama, romance, suspense, love and not just the hot sweaty kind. It’s a treat. The perfect story to make your FIRST New Year’s read. Great job Kimberly Frost. I love your work.

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