Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bitter Harvest Series by Ann Gimpel











Deceived
Bitter Harvest
Book One
Ann Gimpel

Magic shattered the world, but the worst is yet to come.

“Provocative and engaging. A fast-paced, supernatural ride.” Michelle Fox, NYT Bestselling Author

Book Description:

The sea may have been a harsh mistress, but Viktor longs for the challenges of wind and weather, for the sound of waves crashing over his hull. Turned by a Master Vampire, he hates what he’s become, but there’s no escape. Not from Ushuaia that’s turned into a city of bones, or from the Vampire who rules him.

Ketha and eleven other Shifters traveled to Ushuaia to harness the power of an eclipse and were trapped there when the world turned upside down. Ten years later, they’re staying one step ahead of Vampires who blame them for the cataclysm.

With her luck running low, Ketha turns her badly depleted magic on the Vampire assigned to lock her away and gets sucked in by her own spell. Maybe magic can’t save the world, but love might be able to salvage what’s left.

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Deceived Excerpt:


.....Ketha woke
in the middle of a dozen Vamps. Iron burned her skin where manacles circled her
ankles and wrists. If she’d thought the smell was bad before, it was an
absolute reeking horror now. Vampires smelled of blood and death and rot. How
could any Shifters worth their vows align themselves with these bastards?
Taking care to be stealthy, she glanced about an oval room, inlaid with wood.
It had a church-ish feel that was clinched when she spied a Christ figure
attached to one wall.
Close to a dozen
Vamps crowded into the space. All of them held an eerie beauty, but Ketha
wasn’t fooled. Their striking good looks ran less than skin deep. Skilled,
ruthless killers, they counted on blood to survive. Living blood. Blood tapped
from dead things ran a poor second.
The back of her
head throbbed painfully, and she shut her eyes to buy herself time to think.
Maybe no one had noticed she wasn’t unconscious. The Vamp standing nearest
kicked her, right before he ordered her to wake up.
She flinched
away from her attacker. Eyes flickering open, she regarded the one who’d struck
her. Long, dark hair fell around his perfect face, and he augured fog-colored
eyes her way. Ketha edged beyond easy reach of his booted feet into a sit,
awkward because of her bound limbs. She didn’t waste words telling him she was
already awake, or that no one could rest easy in their midst. She stared at a
newly dead rat clutched in his hand and beat back a knowing smile. If they were
using rats for blood, the Vampires were in as desperate a predicament as she’d
assumed.
“You’ve captured
me,” she sneered, opting for defiance. “Now what? Do I get to be everyone’s
dinner?” She swung her head from side to side, encompassing the room full of
Vamps. “At least remove my shackles. If I’m going to die, I’d rather face you
as a wolf.”
The rat-wielding
Vamp didn’t answer.
“I’m Ketha.” She
held onto her slender advantage and flowed to her feet. Once she got her
balance, she folded her arms as best she could beneath the swell of her
breasts. “Rat got your tongue?” She jerked her chin at the rodent still
clutched in the Vamp’s hand.
Before he could
answer, she kept right on rolling, taunting him. “If you’re going to kill me,
get on with it, but know this—” She summoned what magic she could, given the
iron circling her wrists and ankles. The air about her shimmered with the blues
and golds unique to her castings. “You will never escape Ushuaia without us.”
The Vamp faced
off against her. “What makes you think we want to escape, Shifter?”
Ketha shrugged,
favoring him with the full force of her gaze. “You like it here? Soon there
won’t be anything left to eat or drink, and then all of us will die. Even
Vamps. But if you’re good with that”—another shrug she hoped spoke for
itself—“I suppose there’s nothing to talk about. Go on.” She made shooing
motions with her bound hands. “Get on with it. I’m prepared to die. We don’t
have too many more months here at the ass end of the world before none of us
will be left. Take a chance, Vampire. Face my wolf.”
The Vamp smiled
coldly. “I’ll pass. I suppose you have the answer to all our problems.”
“I do.” Ketha
let a small, secretive smile play about her mouth. “But I’ll never tell you.
Funny thing about being captured. It quiets the tongue.”
The Vampire’s
chilly expression didn’t change. “Show some respect. No one addresses me that
way.”
“It appears I
just did.” Ketha tossed her shoulders back. She’d be damned if she’d let the
blood-sucking bastard intimidate her. “You need us. Unfortunately, we need you
as well, but what I had in mind was equal partners at a conference table, not
being knocked over the head and dragged here.”
Satisfaction
warmed her when a vein throbbed in the Vamp’s temple before he crushed the rat
to bits of bone and tissue, splattering her with blood. Apparently, she’d
gotten to him. What that meant remained to be seen. He summoned one of the
others, a Vamp named Viktor. Ketha watched with interest when the other
Vampire—clearly some minion—didn’t race to comply, but took his sweet time
making his way to where they stood.
Another gorgeous
man. This one had copper-colored hair that fell to his shoulders. A high
forehead, square jaw, and emerald eyes made him movie star dazzling. Ketha bit
down on her lower lip to force her thoughts away from his allure. Like the
other Vampires, he was dressed in a motley collection of rags. Either they
couldn’t sew—or they had no idea how to create garments that resisted decay.
As Viktor drew
near, she assessed him with magic and shielded her surprise. He didn’t feel anything
like the one with bloody rat remains on his hands, and the characteristic rot
smell was absent Moving with the unholy speed characteristic of his breed,
Rat-Vamp slapped cuffs atop her manacles and snapped, “Take her to the caves,”
all but shoving her into Viktor’s arms.
Viktor latched a
hand firmly around Ketha’s elbow, focused his attention on the other Vampire,
and asked, “What then?”
Rat-Vamp sent a
sharp look his way. “Lock her up and return. I’ll decide her fate once she
tells us whatever she knows about escaping Ushuaia.”
“I already
explained how that would happen.” Ketha made her tone pointed. No reason to be
subtle around these fuckers; they didn’t deal in nuance. “At a conference table
as an equal. So long as you hold me captive, my wolf and I will die before we
help you do anything.”
Rat-Vamp shifted
his gaze her way. “It appears we’re at a stalemate. Perhaps some cell time will
alter your perspective.”
“Don’t count on
it.”
She turned her
magic toward Viktor, wanting to know what was in his mind. The answer shocked
and thrilled her. This one was different, malleable. It wasn’t her imagination
that he’d dragged his heels reacting to Rat-Vamp’s command. Viktor might be her
ticket to freedom. He might actually let her go—if she played her cards right.
“Lead out.” She
hip-butted him to spur him into action. “This room stinks of Vampires, and it’s
giving me a headache.”
Rat-Vamp snarled
and lunged for her, wrapping his hands around her shoulders and shaking her
until her teeth rattled. “Never forget who runs things in Ushuaia. This is
blood’s dominion. My dominion.”
Ketha stood her
ground. “Funny, but I thought I and my Shifters were in charge. Besides, if you
were going to kill me, I’d already be dead.” Ketha could’ve said more. Could
have voiced her suspicion that he was intrigued by what she’d said, but she
opted to keep her mouth shut. The sooner the weak one left with her, the sooner
she’d be free.
Hopefully.
Rat-Vamp drew
back his lips and extended his fangs, bloody from his earlier skirmish with the
rat, but he didn’t say anything further before Viktor herded her from the room.
“Remain quiet,”
Viktor said sternly and shepherded her toward a stairwell. “Vampires have
excellent hearing.”
Ketha took a
chance. Easy enough since she had nothing to lose. Could he hear telepathy? Now
was as good a time as any to find out. “I’m sure they do, and you don’t want
them to know what’s in your mind. Lucky for you, Vamp magic can’t hold a candle
to mine, even bound as I am by iron.”


They’d started
down stairs dimly illuminated by long-unwashed windows. A startled look flashed
across his face, and it gave her hope. “Son of a bitch. You heard me.”

Twisted
Bitter Harvest
Book Two
Ann Gimpel

Book Description:

A small group of Shifters sails south from Ushuaia, determined to assess what’s left of the world. A Vampire attack, a possessed priest, and a gateway to Hell mean fallout from the spell gone bad that pinned them in Ushuaia for years is far from gone.

Back on a ship again, Juan reconstructs what’s always been a comfort zone. The sea is the only life he’s ever known—if you don’t count the ten years he spent as a Vampire. His new magic, fueled by a bond with a mountain cat, brings its own set of challenges, but they pale in comparison with the white-hot need knifing through him whenever Aura is anywhere close.

A historian by trade, Aura deals in prophecies for her Shifter pack. Attraction for Juan ignited when they fought the Cataclysm, but she figures he left a string of broken hearts during his years as chief navigator on cruise ships. They have to work together. A self-indulgent affair could ruin everything. She does her damnedest to keep distance between them, but the ship’s not big enough to escape yearning for a future together.

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Twisted Excerpt:

“Watch it!” Her
cat was near the surface, and a snarling hiss punctuated its words.
Aura ground to a
halt. She’d pulled well ahead of everyone else with her leggy stride. Viktor
and Ketha strolled with their arms wrapped around each other as lovers often
did. Karin and Rowana brought up the rear, chatting.
“Watch what?”
she asked her bond animal.
“I caught a
whiff of wrongness. Check for yourself.”
“What is it?”
Ketha pulled up next to her. “Why’d you stop?”
“My cat thinks
something’s not right.”
Viktor slipped
the rifle off his shoulder in a fast, fluid motion that spoke to his familiarity
with it.
Aura shut her
eyes, urging her senses to preternatural sharpness. Something unpleasant and
eerily familiar zapped her. She curled her hands into fists and dug deeper. She
had to be wrong.
Before she was
through dissecting what she sensed lay beyond, perhaps in the barracks a couple
hundred yards away, Ketha muttered, “Shit! It isn’t possible.”
Aura opened her
eyes and gripped the other Shifter’s arm. “You picked up on Vampire emanations,
right?”
Ketha nodded,
eyes wide with disbelief. “How? They’re all supposed to have transformed into
humans or Shifters.”
“Why are you
talking about Vampires, dearie?” Rowana asked. She and Karin had finally caught
up with them.
“I have no idea
how,” Aura gritted out the words, “but they’re here.”
Karin narrowed
her eyes to slits. “Vampires? Don’t be ridiculous. The Cataclysm altered them,
removed the Vampire mutation in their DNA.”
“Or not.” Rowana
twisted her face into a grimace.
“Check for
yourself,” Ketha told the other two women.
Aura scrubbed
the heels of her hands down her face, urging rational thought, and then scanned
the place that felt menacing one more time. “It’s not quite right for Vampire,
at least not the Ushuaia variety,” she muttered.
“Not exactly,”
Ketha agreed. “But there are at least two of whatever they are, and their
emanations are closer to Vamp than anything else.”
“The question of
the hour,” Viktor said, “is whether we move forward or retreat. It’s a group
decision.”
Aura thought
about it, and when she spoke, her words came hard. “We left Ushuaia to figure
out what was left in the rest of the world. If we turn tail and run the first
time we encounter anything, we may as well never have set sail.”
Viktor grinned
wryly. “Spoken like a true explorer. Shackleton would have been proud of you.”
“I remember
reading about him,” Aura muttered. “If this is Grytviken, isn’t he buried
here?”
“He is, indeed,”
Viktor said. “His grave is on the far side of the post office, but only because
his wife told the ship with his remains to bring him back here. I guess he was
quite the philanderer, and she wasn’t interested in footing the expense of
bringing his cheating ass home.”
“Interesting,”
Aura said, “but we’re stalling. My vote is to see what the hell feels like
Vampire.”
“Mine too,”
Rowana said.
“I’m in,” Karin
said. “If we could survive Armageddon against the Cataclysm, how hard could
this be?”
Viktor cocked
his head to one side. “Depends. If they’re Vamps, only beheading with iron will
do them in.”
“Maybe they’ll
be friendly.” Ketha screwed her face into what might have been a hopeful
expression, except it came off more like a grimace.
“Friendly and
Vampire in the same sentence is an oxymoron,” Viktor said in a flat, dead tone.
“It appears we’re all game, so all of you get behind me and stay close. Deploy
your magic. It’s still far more finely honed than mine.” He shouldered the
rifle. “If I have to, I’ll use this. It should at least slow them down.”

About the Author:

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

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