Title of Book: DANCING IN THE FLAME
Genre: Spicy Paranormal Romance
Author: Ann Gimpel
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Life in a were bordello is all Keira has ever known. Because of her mixed blood, none of the magicians’ guilds want her, or protested when the Weres bound her as an indentured hooker. Mired in the hopelessness of her dreams, Keira longs for more.
Barrett, one of the Daoine Sidhe, runs a magician supply shop in what’s left of Seattle. No one is more surprised than he when the Sidhe leader commands him to extricate Keira from the weres.
Magic and intrigue throw Keira and Barrett into one another’s arms. Convinced they have a job to do, they struggle against the heat of the passion between them. Until it gets way too hot to handle.
Eleven Years Later
Keira opened a door in the were bordello where she lived and worked and peeked out into the long hallway spanning the first floor of the building. Empty. Good. It was the middle of the afternoon, always a slow time. Her last customer had just left. Maybe, if she snuck out the rear door, she could claim a few hours of freedom. She ducked back into the room she shared with one of the other indentured hookers, donned a cloak and boots, and walked down the hall, making as little noise as possible.
The air was crisper than she’d expected as she eased the door shut behind her. Keira wrapped her arms around herself, wishing she’d brought a warmer coat. Most of her working clothes were wispy and suggestive. At least she’d been smart enough to put on tattered jeans, a moth-eaten sweater, and her favorite black cloak. For once it wasn’t raining. A pallid sun hung midway to the western horizon, bathing what were once busy urban streets with sallow light.
Keira emptied her mind, trying not to feel she was playing hooky. It wasn’t as if the weres kept her prisoner… She glanced at her left arm. Under the sweater and cape, she could have sworn the indenture bracelet spanning her upper arm tightened. Who am I trying to kid? They can find me anytime they want.
She walked briskly through Seattle’s Queen Anne district. Keira had the streets to herself today, but then she usually did. Good thing, too. Those like her, mixed-blood magic wielders with minimal power, were at pretty much everyone else’s mercy. Bottom of the New World totem pole.
Her gaze swept over urban rot. Keira grimaced. Buildings still stood, some of them, anyway. But most of the glass had been rocked out. Piles of trash blocked the roadways. Cars were a thing of the past. Out-of-control garbage had obliterated the sidewalks long ago. Paths wound through it, carved by varieties of magic wielders and prowling beasts. She made a point of ignoring what was underfoot. Most of it was too gross to even consider. It was a damned shame so many humans had been wiped out during the war. They’d taken care of things like that.
She pretended to consider what to do with her freedom, knowing her deliberations were a sham. She’d do the same thing she always did: head for Barrett’s magician’s shop. Housed in a cavernous Victorian on lower Capitol Hill, it was only about an hour’s walk from the were bordello. With its dark wood furniture, Oriental carpets, and overflowing shelves, the shop exuded a homey atmosphere which was irresistible.
Face it. The thing which makes it so enticing is Barrett. Keira smiled to herself as she pictured the tall, broad-shouldered Daoine Sidhe with his thick, coppery hair and pale blue eyes. Beyond his obvious beauty, though, he seemed kind. Not that she’d ever exchanged more than a few words with him, but he had laugh lines in the corners of his eyes and she’d watched him interact with other customers. He was always helpful, doing that little bit extra to assist someone find something. There was still bad blood among magic wielders, but not in Barrett’s shop. Everyone was granted equal status there. Never mind Daoine Sidhe magic was far more powerful than were, fae, or witch. Druid magic barely counted; it was nearly as feeble as hers.
The first time she’d stumbled into Barrett’s shop, it was by accident. She’d gotten into a big blow up with Simon, one of the staff at Were Calls, for refusing to service a customer in his animal form. Simon slapped her, which was a big no-no; punishment was supposed to be delivered through her bracelet per the terms of her indenture.
Keira had never seen Simon quite so angry. She didn’t wait around to see what he would do next. Despite being in her hooker garb, including high heels, she’d raced out the door and ran until her arches ached. It hadn’t helped when the skies opened and it began to pour. Not knowing what else to do—because she was not going back to Were Calls until things cooled down or they zapped her through the bracelet—she’d opened her magic senses. They’d led her straight to Barrett’s shop. It was only a couple of blocks from where she’d stopped.
Keira had pushed the heavy, carved wooden door open, ready to bolt if anyone so much as looked cross-eyed at her. No one did. The shop smelled heavenly. Herbs. Lots of them. They hung in bundles from a raised walkway, ten feet off the ground, which accessed a partial second story. Feeling a bit braver, she let her gaze roam the large room, crowded with shelves. No one paid her the slightest attention, which was amazing since all the other patrons were garbed in cloaks and coats. She glanced at her low-cut top, barely-there micro mini, and high heeled boots and winced. Her top didn’t leave much to the imagination since it was half-soaked through. Because she was cold, her nipples had pebbled into suggestive peaks.
— Excerpted from Dancing in the Flame by Ann Gimpel