A Dark Guardian
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Title: A Dark Guardian
Series: The Shields #1
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Dear Reader –
Have you ever wanted to travel through time with weapons crafted by the Fae themselves? To experience adventure so thrilling and dangerous you don’t know if you will live to see tomorrow? Now my men and I are faced with fighting creatures only thought to live in legend but which have been brought to Earth by evil bent on annihilating all the realms. That is my life – and I love it.
At least I did until I found myself staring into the angelic, innocent face of Lady Mina of Stone Crest. In all the time I have led the Shields I have trusted my instinct to keep us alive, yet now I don’t know what to believe. Everything points to Mina as the evil summoning the creatures, but she proclaims her innocence.
I should be able to see through her lies, if she is indeed lying, but my attraction to her blinds me to even that. The last time I found myself so lured to a woman, it nearly cost me the lives of my men. I cannot allow that to happen again. I won’t allow that to happen again.
Yet every time she looks at me, begging me with those blue-green eyes to believe her, I find myself sinking further under her spell. Her mouth is a temptation mortal men will never know and her love will either bring me the peace I thought I’d never find – or the death I’ve managed, thus far, to avoid.
Hugh the Righteous
RECOMMENDED READ! “5 Angels Dark, dangerous, delicious…from the first words, A Dark Guardian will grab hold of readers and transport them to another place, a magical place where evil walks and screams in the night. There is something for everyone here – paranormal dealings with the Fae, time travel, battles, and good vs. evil, as well as passion. The attention given to detail and world-building here is excellent, and I was impressed and hooked from the opening scene.”
– Michelle, Fallen Angel Reviews
“Well-drawn with just enough detail to whet one’s appetite for the next volumes to this fully robust adventure. Donna Grant’s star should not only continue to rise but sky-rocket with this dynamite new series.”
– Marilyn, The Mystic Castle
5 Enchantements “[A Dark Guardian] is gripping, loving, suspenseful and totally addictive…”
– BrandyWine, Enchanting Reviews
4½ Clovers “The Shields…is off to a fantastic start with this first book.”
– Jennifer, ck2s
“Ms. Grant weaves a magical tale of love and understanding in A Dark Guardian. If you enjoy fantasy then you will surely enjoy A Dark Guardian.”
– Klarissa, Joyfully Reviewed
“A Dark Guardian has it all—a damsel in distress, a dragon-like creature, a tall handsome knight, magic, and romance. Donna Grant kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would happen next in this time travel adventure.”
– Jessica, Love Bites Reviews
4 Hearts! “The reader is transported along with the characters to see if good will triumph over evil and hearts will win out over better judgment. A page-turner from start to finish!”
– Samantha Ann, Night Owl Romance
Also in this series:
The darkness of night summoned Evil like a warm tavern to a weary traveler. The velvety thickness blanketed any who dared to oppose its will. And the Evil enfolding Stone Crest had one task in mind – the demise of all.
“Faster,” Mina whispered urgently into her mare’s ear. She bent low over the horse’s neck and chanced a look over her shoulder, her hair sticking to her face and neck as the ground raced beneath her.
The dark, menacing road was vacant, but she knew the creature was near. Stalking. Mina’s skin tingled with anticipation, and her heart pounded fiercely in her chest as her mare continued to run toward the trees.
A terrible, unearthly scream rent the air. Mina quickly covered her ears. Her mare slowed, then stopped and danced around in fright.
“Nay,” Mina hissed while she tried to gain control of her mount. “Run, Sasha, run. Our lives depend upon it.”
The mare sensed Mina’s anxiety because her long legs stretched out and the ground flew beneath them once more. Mina gripped the reins and Sasha’s mane tightly as her blood rushed wildly with fear and dread. The hair on the back of her neck rose, but she didn’t need to look behind her to know the creature followed very close.
Mina focused on reaching the clearing. Her mare was fleet of foot, the swiftest of her family’s horses. If anyone could outrun the creature, it was Sasha. At least, Mina had thought so. Now she wasn’t so sure.
A small smile formed on her face when she saw the clump of trees that signaled the clearing was just a short distance away. As she was about to reach the trees, the flap of wings overhead reached her.
Something long and sharp passed in front of her face and sliced across her arm. A frantic Sasha reared, and it was all Mina could do to hang on. Then suddenly, the world tilted and Mina jumped clear as her beloved mare collapsed and lay too still on her side.
Mina raised her eyes to the night sky and saw the creature that had come to their small village hovering above her, a sardonic smile on its grotesque face. Its small beady eyes flashed red in the gloom, and she knew her time was at an end.
Long, razor-sharp talons lengthened from its hands. She swallowed her failure like a lump of coal. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.
Fear immobilized her. She couldn’t even scream. The creature moved slowly in the air towards her, as if he wanted to torment her prior to killing her. Before the creature’s talons carved open her face, she saw a blur of movement out of the corner of her eye. In the next moment, she found herself thrown roughly to the ground and over the side of the hill. The weight of whoever had landed atop her knocked the wind from her lungs in a gush. As they rolled, she dimly heard the furious screams of the creature.
Just as she thought they might tumble for eternity, they finally came to an abrupt, bone-jarring halt. She was afraid to open her eyes and find that another evil had taken her. After all, it had been the worst kind of wickedness, which had plagued her village for a month now.
A deep, soft voice reached her ears through her panic. A man’s voice. “Are you all right?”
Slowly, she opened her eyes. Instead of a face, all she saw was the outline of his head. His tone held a hint of concern, but this was a stranger. She had come to mistrust anything that wasn’t part of her village.
“Aye,” she answered at last.
“I was beginning to think the fall had addled your brain.” There was no mistaking the trace of humor in his meaning as he swiftly rose to his feet.
He held out a hand to her. She hated to do it, but she accepted his help because she didn’t think she could gain her feet alone after the tumble she had just taken. As he pulled her to her feet, her arm burst into agonizing pain. She could barely move her hand, but she wasn’t about to let the stranger know she was hurt and give him an advantage. It was something she had learned early in life. One had to be strong to survive in this land.
“It’s not a safe night for a woman to be out alone.”
She sensed he wanted to say more but held back. They were mere inches from each other, so she took a step back to offer herself more room. “There are many things which should keep people safely inside at night. Including men.”
He bowed his head slightly. “I mean you no harm, lady.”
She didn’t believe that for an instant. Only a wandering idiot would take a stranger’s word.
A bizarre whistle-like noise sounded from atop the hill. The stranger whistled back and then the eerie silence reigned once more. Not even the sound of crickets could be heard.
With her good hand she dusted off her breeches, and looked around for the dagger she had swiped from the armory. She couldn’t believe she had dropped her only weapon.
“Is this what you seek?”
Mina grudgingly turned to the man and saw her dagger in his outstretched hand. She accepted the weapon. “Thank you. For everything.” She bit her lip and thought of Sasha. Without another word, she began to race up the hill.
The stranger was at her side in an instant, aiding her when she would have fallen. When they reached the top, she came to a halt as five men on horseback stared at her. They sat atop their steeds like kings, watching her every move. She dismissed them when Sasha’s soft cry of pain reached her.
She went to her mare and knelt beside her. She ran her hand lightly over the open gash across Sasha’s whither and closed her eyes. It was a mortal wound.
“The mare has lost a lot of blood,” the stranger said as he knelt beside Sasha. “I’m afraid she is lost to you.”
Tears came quickly to Mina’s eyes, and she tried to blink them away. Tears were for the weak. “I’m so sorry, Sasha,” she said and leaned down to kiss the mare’s head. “I should never have come.”
She knew there was no way to save her horse, and to leave her like this was to see her suffer needlessly. With trembling hands, she held the dagger to Sasha’s throat, but moments slowly drew on.
A large, warm hand encased hers. “Shall I?” the stranger offered.
Before she could change her mind she nodded. He took the dagger and she laid her head on Sasha’s. It was over in a heartbeat. Sasha never made a sound, but it cut through Mina’s soul like a silent scream of anguish.
She gave herself but a moment before she stood and looked around her as the moon broke through the dense clouds. Now she was alone with six men. Six heavily armed strangers.