The clientele at Shore's clothing store includes some of L.A.'s sexiest bachelors. But none of them affects Megan DeLacey as deeply as the dark-eyed stranger who strides into her boutique one evening - and keeps returning, night after night. Megan is drawn to Rhys Costain even as she fears him. Because his reason for being there is clear -he wants Megan, with an intensity that's both tempting and terrifying...
For almost five centuries, Rhys has lived alone, using women as it pleased him and never wanting more. As Master of the West Coast vampires, it's his duty to eliminate the ancient vampire who's draining humans on his turf, putting all of their kind at risk. But Megan's lush beauty and vibrant warmth is blinding him to a danger that will soon engulf them both - and tear him from the only woman who can satisfy his darkest hunger.
Reclining on a chaise lounge on the balcony of his penthouse, a snifter of red wine in one hand, Rhys Costain stared out over the city of Los Angeles, and thought about the events of the last few months. The vampire who had betrayed him was dead, destroyed by his own hand. Erik Delacourt, the only creature, man or vampire, Rhys had ever called friend was at home with his new bride.
Rhys grunted softly. He would miss hunting with Delacourt, but he couldn’t blame the man for wanting to spend his nights with Daisy. She was a tasty little morsel.
But she was a woman, and as a species, they were not to be trusted. He rarely let himself think of Josette, but tonight, feeling maudlin, he opened the gates of the past and stepped inside.
He had met Josette in the summer of 1575 in Warwickshire. He remembered the year well because it was the year that Robert Dudley threw a party for Queen Elizabeth I at his castle in Kenilworth. The party lasted for three weeks, and it was all anyone talked about for days after.
Josette had been a young widow and a woman of means, with an estate in Warwickshire and a small flat in London. He had been a young vampire. One look at her porcelain skin and sparkling blue eyes and he had been hopelessly smitten. He could have mesmerized her and made her want him, but it hadn’t been necessary. The attraction between them had been mutual and impossible to ignore. He had met her on a Saturday, and taken her to his bed the following Sunday. Because he had been young and proud, he had refused to move into her lavish estate. Instead, he had insisted they meet at his place, humble as it was. Fearing that he might hurt her, or worse, turn her in a moment of weakness, he had been careful to feed each night before she came to him. Several months passed, and he was happier than he had ever been, either as a mortal man or a vampire; so in love that he no longer cared that she was wealthy, or that he was far beneath her socially. So in love that he had decided to put their differences aside and ask her to marry him. It was a bold move for a man whose mother had been a prostitute, a man who had once stolen from the rich to keep body and soul together.
He’d had marriage on his mind the night he had gone, unexpected and unannounced, to her estate late one night. A night he would never forget. Expecting to find her asleep, he had floated up to her second floor window, thinking how surprised she would be to see him.
The surprise had been his. He had found Josette in bed with a young duke and in that instant, he realized she had never loved him. She had merely been using him for her own amusement. Fueled by rage and a sense of betrayal beyond words, he had killed the young man. Deaf to her cries for mercy, her incoherent pleas for forgiveness, he had let her see him for what he was. And then he had buried his fangs in her throat and taken what he had denied himself for so long. Taken it all, then fled the house. In the four hundred and ninety-three years since that night, he had never let himself care for another woman. He seduced them. He made love to them. He drank from them, but he guarded his heart like a fortress.
Four hundred and ninety-three years had passed since Josette had been a part of his life. It was a long time to be alone and unloved. He thought of Delacourt and his Daisy. Despite the fact that Delacourt was a vampire and Daisy had been a blood thief, the two of them had fallen in love. Rhys ran a hand through his hair. If Delacourt and Daisy could overcome obstacles like that, maybe it was time for him to try again.
He snorted softly. What the hell was he thinking? If he had learned anything in the last five hundred and twelve years, it was to never make the same mistake twice.
Megan DeLacey sighed when she glanced at her watch and saw that it was only a few minutes after midnight. Two hours until closing and except for the owner, Shore’s was empty. She didn’t really like working nights and if the pay and the perks hadn’t been so good, she would have gone looking for a new job long ago.
Shore’s was an exclusive men’s store that catered to wealthy clients – mostly eccentric rock stars and movie people who preferred to shop late at night and avoid rubbing elbows with those less rich and famous. Robert Parker had parleyed that knowledge into a tidy little business. Shore’s opened at ten a.m. and closed at four p.m., then opened again from eight at night until two in the morning. Megan and Mr. Parker worked the late shift.
Parker stocked only the best men’s apparel – their most inexpensive shirt sold for three hundred and seventy-five dollars. Megan thought it was an outrageous price to pay for a cotton shirt, but then, she had been raised by a frugal mother and a father who was frequently out of work.
Parker also kept a varied assortment of spirits and black caviar on hand, as well as imported chocolates. The chocolates were one of the perks Megan enjoyed the most, as Mr. Parker let her take home whatever was left at the end of the week.
Megan had worked at Shore’s for just over a year and in that time, she had become a favorite of several of their clients, including a well-known Hollywood producer, an Oscar-winning actor, and a famous country singer, all of whom had become regulars and insisted that she cater to their needs. In return, they showered her with expensive gifts, tickets to gala movie premieres and concerts She had felt guilty at first, accepting such expensive gifts, but Mr. Parker had laughed at her reluctance.
“Honey, to guys like these, a hundred bucks, heck, even a thousand, doesn’t mean a thing.”
Looking at it like that soothed her conscience. To an actor making fifteen or twenty million a picture, a few hundred dollars was just chump change.
A handful of her regular customers wanted more from her than her fashion expertise, but she refused to mix business with pleasure. One of her customers, an up-and-coming rock star, proposed to her every time he came into the store. He was rich and handsome and very appealing, and she might have at least dated him except for one thing – he was thirteen and she was old enough to be his mother.
Of course, there were nights like tonight when the store was empty. Hopefully, Parker would decide to close early since his last appointment had left an hour ago and her midnight appointment had called to say he had missed his flight from San Francisco and had to cancel.
Megan was rearranging a display of imported French silk ties when a young man entered the store, bringing a blast of cold air in with him. One look, and she knew he had never been in the store before, just as she knew she would never forget him.
A quick glance showed that his tan slacks were Armani, his boots were Gucci, and his dark brown leather jacket was top of the line Hugo Boss. It was said that clothes made the man, but this man didn’t need any help. He looked young, in his early twenties, but he exuded the confidence and power of a much older man. His dark blond hair was short, though it had a slightly shaggy look, as if he were letting it grow out.
He moved toward her on silent feet, every movement somehow sensual yet dangerous, as if he was a predator and she was his prey.
Where on earth had that thought come from?
Thrusting the foolish notion from her mind, she forced a smile. “May I help you?” As he drew closer, she saw that his eyes were a deep dark brown; world-
weary eyes that should have belonged to a much older man. She shivered when he turned the full force of his gaze on her.
“I was just passing by.” His voice, low and innately sensual, seemed to resonate within every fiber of her being.
“It’s kind of late for an evening stroll, isn’t it?” She couldn’t stop staring at him. He was incredibly handsome, but it was more than that. She was used to being in the company of handsome men, but there was something about this man that had every nerve and cell in her body on edge. A part of her wanted to throw herself in his arms, to beg him to stay with her always, a part of her wanted to run and hide while she still had the chance.
“Not if one enjoys the quiet of a cool winter night.”
Something in his tone had her shivering again. “I prefer warm summer days myself.” She made a broad gesture with her hand. “Please, look around. Let me know if I can be of any help.”
She was keenly aware of his gaze on her back as she walked toward the rear of the store. Suddenly nervous without knowing why, she began to set up a new display of cologne and after shave. Even with her back to him, she sensed his presence as he moved up and down the aisles. There was something almost otherworldly about him, she thought, though she had no idea where that thought came from. He dressed as well, if not better, than most of her clients. He exuded an aura of power, but so did most of the men
who frequented Shore’s. After all, money was power. But it was more than that.
Megan’s hand flew to her throat at the sound of his voice so close behind her. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. “Yes?”
“I’ll take these.”
Pasting a smile on her face, Megan turned and found herself gazing up into his eyes. He was close. Too close. She couldn’t think, could scarcely breathe. She glanced around the store, relieved to see Mr. Parker emerge from the back room.
“Miss?” The stranger was watching her, a faint smile curving his lips, as if he knew just how much his nearness flustered her.
He liked Armani, she mused as he held out a pair of black slacks, a black silk shirt, along with a black coat that cost more than she made in a month.
“Will this be all?” she asked, striving to keep her voice steady.
She quickly rang up the sale, noting, as she swiped his credit card, that his name was Rhys Costain. His signature was a bold scrawl across the bottom of the receipt.
Willing her hands not to shake, she slipped his purchases into one of the dark blue garment bags inscribed with the silver Shore logo.
When she handed him the bag, she was careful not to touch him. “Thank you, Mr. Costain. Please come again.”
His gaze, as potent as a shot of straight bourbon, bored into hers. “Count on it,” he said, and whistling softly, he headed for the door.
Taking a deep breath, Megan held on to the edge of the counter as she watched him walk away. Lordy, she didn’t know who Rhys Costain was, but that voice, those eyes…She fanned herself with her hand as she willed her heartbeat to slow down, and fervently hoped never to see him again.
Standing in the shadows outside the store, Rhys watched the woman as she straightened a shelf here, rearranged a display of silk ties there, answered the phone. She was a remarkably pretty young woman, with hair as red as flame and warm brown eyes.
Was it luck, coincidence, or fate that had sent him into the store that night? Most likely it had been fate, he decided, now having a good laugh at his expense due to the fact that not more than twenty-four hours ago he had renewed his vow never to get involved with a mortal woman again, but, like it or not, he had become involved the minute he laid eyes on her.
Whistling softly, he headed for home. Time to clean out his closet, he mused, since he suspected he would be buying a whole new wardrobe in the next few weeks.
Crystal at Crystal's Book Reviews said:
Everlasting Desire by Amanda Ashley is a little different from her usual style of writing, the characters fall in love and between the sheets faster than normal. Usually the women in her stories are pure, untouched, but Megan has been intimate with men before. Mrs. Ashley has really ramped up the heat between Rhys and Megan, and I'm here to tell you the scene's were scorching!! Everlasting Desire is a more in depth story of the love that could or could not be. It's really up in the air for a while; will Megan go willingly to Rhys knowing what he is, or stay repulsed by a monster? Everything from emotions, action, and desire are strongly described, and you can't help but be pulled into the story, it was almost impossible to put down. Everlasting Desire was a great read, and Mrs. Ashley continues to write better with each book she pens. Addictive love stories (vampire included) are what I expect from her, and she always delivers.
* * *
Amy at My Overstuffed Bookshelf said:
I loved this book. I have loved almost every single book by this author and automatically buy anything that comes out by her! I love how she is true to the original Vampire tales. They are not sparkly and they are not always happy. They have the darkness that you would expect from a Vampire. Rhys is mysterious, only comes out at night, rich, and of course sexy as hell. I loved every single thing about Rhys. What was not to love about him? He showered Megan with attention, roses almost every hour of the day while he courted her, and was very protective of her.
I can't wait for the next installment that this author brings to the table. She has me captivated with each story and keeps my pulse racing with the romance! Move over sparkle, hello dark and mysterious!
For the full review, go here
* * *
Romantic Times Bookclub said:
"Ashley once again provides an entertaining story that will please readers who prefer the more traditional vampires tales. The hero must come to termss with what he is and his own limitations, and the heroine is not a pushover, making them a perfect match."