Vampire in Paradise
Deadly Angels Series, Book 5
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Avon/Harper Collins
Date of Publication: 11/25/2014
Number of pages: 352
About Vampire in Paradise:
It’s been centuries since the Norseman Sigurd Sigurdsson was turned into a Vangel-a Viking Vampire Angel-as punishment for his sin of envy, but he’s still getting the hang of having fangs that get in the way when seducing women. Slaying demon vampires known as Lucipires and using his healing gifts as a cancer research doctor, Sigurd is sent to Florida’s Grand Keys Island as a resident physician where he encounters the most sinfully beautiful woman.
The only hope Marisa Lopez has of curing her five-year-old daughter of is a pricey experimental procedure. When she meets the good-looking doctor, Marisa is speechless. Then Sigurd tells her he believes he can help her daughter. Could this too-hot-to resist Viking doctor be an angel of some sort sent to bring a miracle for her daughter? Or is he just a vampire bent on breaking Marisa’s heart?
Read a Partial Excerpt from the Prologue:
The Norselands, A.D. 850…
Only the strongest survived in that harsh land…
Sigurd Sigurdsson sat near the high table of King Haakon’s yule feast sipping at the fine ale from his own jewel-encrusted, silver horn. (Many of those “above the salt,” held gold vessels, he noted.) Tuns of ale and rare Frisian wine flowed. (His mead tasted rather weak, but mayhap that was his imagination.)
Favored guests at the royal feast (He was mildly favored.) had their choice amongst spit-roasted wild boar, venison and mushroom stew, game birds stuffed with chestnuts, a swordfish the size of a small longboat, eels swimming in spiced cream sauce, and all the vegetable side dishes one could imagine, including the hated neeps. (Hated by Sigurd, leastways. He had a particular antipathy to turnips due to some youthling insanity to determine which lackwit could eat the most of the root vegetables without vomiting, or falling over dead as a stump. He lost.) Honey oak cakes and dried fruit trifles finished off the meal for those not filled to overflowing. (Peaches, on the other hand, were fruit of the gods, in Sigurd’s opinion.) Entertainment was provided by a quartet of lute players who could scarce be heard over the animated conversation and laughter. (Which was just as well; they harmonized like a herd of screech owls. Again, in Sigurd’s opinion.) Good cheer abounded. (Except for…)
In the midst of the loud, joyous celebration, Sigurd’s demeanor was quiet and sad.
But that was nothing new. Sigurd had been known as a dark, brooding Viking for many of his twenty and seven years. Darker and more brooding as the years marched on. And he wasn’t even drukkinn.
Some said the reason for Sigurd’s discontent was the conflict betwixt two warring sides of his nature. A fierce warrior in battle and, at the same time, a noted physician with innate healing skills inherited from and homed by his grandmother afore her passing to the Other World when he’d been a boyling.
Sigurd knew better. He had a secret sickness of the soul, and its name was Envy. Never truly happy, never satisfied, he always wanted what he didn’t have, whether it be a chest of gold, the latest, fastest longship, a prosperous estate, the finest sword. A woman. And he did whatever necessary to attain that new best thing. Whatever.
‘Twas like a gigantic worm he’d found years past in the bowels of a dying man. Egolf the Farrier had been a giant of a burly man in his prime, but at his death when he was only thirty he’d been little more than a skeleton with no fat and scant flesh to cover his bones. The malady had no doubt started years before innocently enough with a tiny worm in an apple or some spoiled meat, but over the years, attached to his innards like a ravenous babe, the slimy creature devoured the food Egolf ate, and Egolf had a huge appetite, in essence starving the man to death.
“Sig, my friend!” A giant hand clapped him on the shoulder and his close friend and hersir Bertim sat down on the bench beside him. Beneath his massive red beard, the Irish Viking’s face was florid with drink. “You are sitting upright,” Bertim accused him. “Is that still your first horn of ale that you nurse like a babe at teat?
“What an image!” Sigurd shook his head with amusement. “I must needs stay sober. The queen may yet produce a new son for Haakon this night.”
“Her timing is inconvenient, but then a yule child brings good luck.” Bertim raised his bushy eyebrows as a sudden thought struck him. “Dost act as midwife now?”
“When it is the king’s whelp, I do.”
Bertim laughed heartily.
“In truth, Elfrida has been laboring for a day and night so far with no result. The delivery promises to be difficult.”
Bertim nodded. ‘Twas the way of nature. “What has the king promised you for your assistance?”
“Naught much,” Sigurd replied with a shrug. “Friendship. Lot of good that friendship does me, though. Dost notice I am not sitting at the high table?”
“And yet that arse licker Svein One-Ear sits near the king,” Bertim commiserated.
I should be up there. Ah, well. Mayhap if I do the king this one new favor... He shrugged. The seating was a small slight, actually.
A serving maid interrupted them, leaning over the table to replenish their beverages. The way her breasts brushed against each of their shoulders gave clear signal that she would be a willing bed partner to either or both of them. Bertim was too far gone in the drink and too fearful of the wrath of his new Norse wife, and Sigurd lacked interest in services offered so easily. The maid shrugged and made her way to the next hopefully-willing male.
Picking up on their conversation, Bertim said, “The friendship of a king is naught to minimize. It can be priceless.”
Sigurd had reason to recall Bertim’s ale-wise words later that night, rather in the wee hours of the morning, when Queen Elfrida, despite Sigurd’s best efforts, delivered a deformed, puny babe, a girl, and Sigurd was asked by the king, in the name of friendship, to take the infant away and cut off its whispery breath.
It was not an unusual request. In this harsh land, only the strongest survived, and the practice of infanticide was ofttimes an act of kindness. Or so the beleaguered parents believed.
But Sigurd did not fulfill the king’s wishes. Leastways, not right away. Visions of another night and another life and death decision plagued Sigurd as he carried the swaddled babe in his arms, its cries little more than the mewls of a weakling kitten.
Despite his full-length, hooded fur cloak, the wind and cold air combined to chill him to the bone. He tucked the babe closer to his chest and imagined he felt her heart beat steady and true. Approaching the cliff that hung over the angry sea, where he would drop the child after pinching its tiny nose, Sigurd kept murmuring, “’Tis for the best, ‘tis for the best.” His eyes misted over, but that was probably due to the snow flakes that began to flutter heavily in front of him.
He would do as the king asked. Of course he would. But betimes it was not such a gift having royal friends.
Just then, he heard a loud voice bellow, “SIGURD! Halt! At once!”
He turned to see the strangest thing. Despite the blistering cold, a dark-haired man wearing naught but a long, white, rope-belted gown in the Arab style approached with hands extended.
Without words, Sigurd knew that the man wanted the child. To his surprise, Sigurd handed over the bundle that carried his body heat to the stranger.
“Take her, Caleb,” the man said to yet another man in a white robe who appeared at his side.
“Yes, Michael.” Caleb bowed as if the first man were a king or some important personage.
More kings! That is all I need!
The Michael person passed the no-longer crying infant to Caleb, who enfolded the babe in what appeared to be wings, but was probably a white fur cloak, and walked off, disappearing into the now heavy snowfall.
“Will you kill the child?” Sigurd asked, realizing for the first time that he might not have been able to do it himself. Not this time.
“Viking, will you never learn?” Michael asked.
He said “Viking” as if it were a bad word. Sigurd was too stunned by this tableau to be affronted.
“Who are you? What are you?” Sigurd asked as he noticed the massive white wings spreading out behind the man.
“Michael. An archangel.”
Sigurd had heard of angels before and seen images on wall paintings in a Byzantium church. “Did you say arse angel?”
“You know I did not. Thou art a fool.”
No sense of humor at all. Sigurd assumed that an archangel was a special angel. “Am I dead?”
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About the Author:
Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.
She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.
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