Never make a deal with a dragon.
Sandra’s sister is dying. All the doctors agree that nothing more can be done, but she can’t give up hope. After using all her resources searching for a cure, a little bird whispers in Sandra’s ear about secret worlds, Gates, and the Keepers who protect them. A dragon Gatekeeper, who hoards magical treasure within his volcano home in Japan, can possibly hold an item to cure her sister.
Gates choose their Keepers and Koishi thinks his did an excellent job in picking him. Not many dare to cross and none who try survive. However, one tiny human female with either the courage of an army or the intelligence of a gnat has arrived on the island asking for him. Curious and not wanting to disappoint, he waits for the locals to steer her to his human ‘servant’, which is him in his man form.
Let the games begin…
Gatekeepers Book One
Author: Annie Nicholas
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Date of Publication:
Feb. 4th 2013
Word Count: 40,000
Cover Artist: Renee Rocco
Purchase from: Amazon
Here's an excerpt:
“Thank you.” Sandra shifted the weight of the pack on her back and marched toward the street.
The stranger twisted as she passed him, his gaze weighing heavily on her. “It’s about a three hour walk to the nearest hotel. If you run, you might beat the storm.”
She spun around. “What?” she wanted to smack that stupid grin off his face. The trip across the strait had been harrowing enough. She wasn’t in any shape to hike in a storm. “Do you have cabs?”
“Yes.” He approached her. “During tourist season.”
“Then how do people move around the island? There have to be buses.” She peered at the storm clouds, which appeared closer than before. She hadn’t considered the consequences of rushing here. Time was running out and she’d jumped on the first flight out to Japan.
“They walk or bike. There are a few buses, but I don’t know their schedules.” His gaze lowered to the opening of her blouse. “Maybe we could come to some kind of arrangement.”
Gasping, she clutched the edges of her blouse shut. “I don’t think so.” She must look better than she felt or smelled. How could anyone be interested in her in this state?
He rolled his eyes. “I meant your necklace.”
“Oh.” The heat of her mortified blush almost blistered the skin off her cheeks. Of course, he wasn’t making a crude pass at her. He was only trying to swindle her. Nice.
He gave her a crooked smile as if he knew exactly what she’d been thinking. “The gold reflects the light very nicely.” Reaching for her jewelry, he bypassed her swatting hands until he held the small heart-shaped pendant in his palm.
She yanked it away. “It’s not up for trade. My mother gave it to me.” She’d died in her sleep a year earlier after a long, happy life. Out of all the things from her estate, Sandra had only wanted this necklace. Her father, who’d passed years ago, had given it to her mother when they’d first met.
“It has a nice weight to it and is well crafted.” His gaze lingered on her necklace for a second longer before meeting her stare. “I have a truck. I could drive you into town where you would have a pick of fine hotels.”
“That’s very kind of you.”
“For the necklace.”
She growled like a rabid dog. Yes, it had been that kind of day. “I said no. Nain!”
“What?” She threw up her arms and abandoned all hope of help.
“That’s what you said. Nine what? Rides? I usually don’t play taxi for tourists, but…” His gaze grew heavy with darker promises. “For you, I’d offer a ride on me.”
She blinked. Did he understand what he’d just said? “I think we lost something in translation.” In both their cases. “I’ll manage on my own.” Stalking to the road, she ignored his laughter and pulled out her phrase book. Lost and tired, all she wanted was a room. Maybe she could stay in someone’s home for the night. But how did she ask? These sentences were more tailored for people who had already arrived at their destination. Where is the bathroom? Where is the phone? She didn’t see a Can I spend the night? written anywhere. Then again, that could translate improperly and she’d end up in a worse situation.
Reaching the road, she turned right and kept searching for some kind of help. Another American tourist, an embassy, or even a flipping McDonald’s would be welcome.
A pick-up truck slowed next to her and the window rolled down. “Maybe you have something else to trade?”
The stranger had followed her and she gave him a what-the-hell look.
“I’d hate for you to walk all that way after such a harrowing boat ride.” He winked at her.
“That’s very kind of you.” She stopped walking, forcing him to slam on the brakes to maintain their conversation. Could she trust this stranger who exhibited a touch of stalker tendency? Flashes of serial killer music sang through her thoughts. She glanced around at the mostly empty road. What choice did she have? At least he spoke good English so when he murdered her she’d understand his evil monologue. “Maybe you could offer to drive me for free?”
He stared at her with mock surprise. “There’s such a thing?”
“Yes.” She dropped her pack to the ground, her shoulders already aching, and tried her best to not smile back at the jerk.
Leaning forward, he tilted his head to the side. “Why?”
She shook her head. “It must be a cultural thing.” Kneeling, she rummaged inside her bag and pulled out her wallet. She was on a tight budget. All her savings had gone to purchasing information. “How much?”
“Money?” He grimaced. “I don’t like paper. Don’t you carry anything valuable?”
“Most people would consider money valuable.” She mumbled under her breath as she shoved her wallet back into her pack. With a little more digging, she found her small carrying case and held out two silver earrings. “That’s all I’ve got. Take it or bug off.” She laid them on his outstretched hand.
He sniffed at the metal. “There’s not much silver in this.”
“How can you tell?” Her shout echoed over the water.
“I just can. Get in. I’ll give generosity a try.”
She climbed inside the old cab with peeling leather seats before he could change his mind. “It’s only charitable if you don’t keep the earrings.”
He dropped them in his breast pocket. “Believe me, this is charity.”
About the author:
Annie Nicholas hibernates in the rural, green mountains of Vermont where she dreams of different worlds, heroes, and heroines. When spring arrives the stories pour from her, in hopes to share them with the masses one day.
Mother, daughter, wife are some of the hats she happily wears while trudging after her cubs through the hills and dales. The four seasons an inspiration and muse.
Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter
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Annie Nicholas was kind enough to let me interview her!
Out of all the books you've written, if you could live in one of them which would it be and why? The Vanguards’ world is the one I’d choose. Vampires and shifters live out in the open, not secretly. A human could, technically, ask the local wolf shifter pack if they could join. LOL
In what scenario do you do your best work? At a coffee shop. I’m not tempted by dirty dishes or laundry. I can sit and focus on my story. I usually get a lot of words done that way.
What are you working on and when can we expect it to be out? I’m working on a few things. I just turned in Prima, sixth book of The Vanguards, for editing. (Yes, Sugar and Daedalus’ story is finally told once more.) I’m awaiting first round edits for book one in a new wolf shifter series, Scent of Salvation, releasing this summer. Last but not least, I’ve started writing Release, book 3 of the Angler series. (Connie, Rurik, and Tane are back.)
Which books have been on your tbr shelf the longest? The last three books of the Wheel of Time! I have them on my shelf staring at me, but for some reason I haven’t been able to open them because I know Robert Jordan didn’t write them. *sniff* My goal this year is to finish reading that series.
Paper or plastic? Plastic!
What food can't you live without? Cake. It’s my nemesis. I could eat cake every meal. I wish I loved something like carrots. lol!
Inside or outside? Ha! I’m a fair weather person. If it is not raining or below 20 degrees, I would chose outside.
Ice cream in a cone or dish? In a cone.
What is your favorite sport? Swimming, to watch and play. I spend my whole summer trailing our local swim team. (My boys are on it. I’m not a stalker.)
What is your favorite or least favorite veggie and fruit?
Favorites are raspberries and onions.
Least favorites are pears and eggplant.
What is your favorite animal? Cat
What is your biggest pet peeve?
People eating with their mouths open.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
Thanks for letting me visit. Come back anytime! :D
I really liked this charming tale of dragons, goblins, dwarfs and humans. It was pretty fast paced with action galore.
The plot had gate needing to be guarded, a sick sister, a human set on making a deal with a dragon, a dragon in disguise, a hoard of hidden treasure, yummy dwarf stew, a human eating dragon mama, romance, action, and some hot and steamy goings ons.
Okay, any human who takes on a nasty dwarf with a cast iron skillet instead of running for the hills is considered bad a** in my book. Sandra can definitely handle herself and Koishi too. lol!
I felt bad for Koishi because he was lonely even if he didn't realize it. Guarding the gate made it nearly impossible to have much of a life.
I loved the banter between Sandra and Koishi. They were perfect for each other! ;-)
I urge every one who likes paranormal romance to give this book a try. I am glad that I did! I discovered another talented author that I hadn't tried before. Here goes the wishlist getting even longer. lol!
I received a copy of this book from Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for my honest opinion. Just in case it hasn't sunk in already, I really liked Koishi. It was a fantastically original book. I enjoyed every minute of every page. I am looking forward to reading more books in this series. :-)
How do you feel about dragons? Are they sexy or scary?
I'd love to know what you're thinking. Please leave a comment!