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Death, Sin, and Vengeance walk into a bar…
They all want something from Karmen.
Bish wants to get even with Karmen for her interference in taking Dahlia away from him. Cipher wants to punish her for abandoning his arms and his bed. Váli has wanted her for centuries but she never seemed to see him.
When Bish and Cipher conspire to teach Karmen a lesson, Váli seizes the opportunity and offers his services—after all, Vengeance is his grace. Too bad for them, he’ll extract a little for his girl and eliminate them as competition at the same time. These bad boys are no angels.
Karma has no deadline…
I’m not afraid of them. I’m not afraid of anyone.
Sin betrayed me, Death wants me to pay, and Vengeance? He’s all right, but we work together too much. Our methods are very different. When those three Keepers put their heads together, my spine tingles in warning. They’re up to something and it’s hard to miss. I’ve played this game for far too long. Are they really sure they want to mess with me?
Bring it on, boys. I’m patient and it’s hardly the first time I got my hands dirty.
This is a reverse harem and the authors suggests you always read the forward in their books. Warning, this is a standalone tale with a fierce and feisty heroine, three anti-heroes who are forces of nature, and a tale as old as time, with elements of revenge, humor, and a little bit of karmic justice thrown in.
Welcome to Sinner’s a bar where keepers and humans alike can indulge in an evening of fun, camaraderie, drink, and yes, sometimes some violence. Okay so more than just some violence, since the book opens with Hattie literally pounding Sunny before they makeup. Before Karmen could even get to the bar, Váli wraps his arms around her until things settle with Sunny and Hattie.
Things interesting to note here, Váli and Karmen are good friends. Their Graces of Vengeance and Karma blend well into many circumstances and they have worked together often. It appears Váli wants to take this further but there is hesitancy from Karmen. She doesn’t want to lose his friendship if the relationship goes up in flames.
Then we have Quetta our feisty bartender and keeper of excess. She’s mad at Váli for some reason and it shows in every action. The owner of Sinner’s is Cipher (Sin), and he and Karmen have history, a long one with a painful ending. His friend Bish (Death) wants some vengeance for Karmen taking Dahlia from him or so he thinks. Dahlia is the new keeper of fate and mated to Seth (Judgement), Zhan (Justice) and Tarus (Punishment), we learned their story in ‘Kiss of Fate’. They fit each other and are fated to be together so Bish, is just deluding himself.
Cipher enlists Váli to aid him in said vengeance, that being his specialty and all, but Váli has his own ideas as to how this should play out.
From an ‘accidental’ meeting in Paris, back to the bar when Karmen is summoned by Quetta for an intervention, this tale begins with many twists, many involving Cipher.
This is a favorite scene when Karmen and Váli join Dahlia and her mates for a drink or two.
There was something really satisfying about orchestrating a genius plan to get exactly what you want. Váli had been planning this particular one for centuries, just waiting for the right opportunity to lay out all his cards. That he got to jerk on Cipher’s chain while he was at it?
Bish was an extra that he hadn’t anticipated. Who would have thought he’d have such a hate on for Karmen? Seriously, so what? She’d played matchmaker and didn’t pick him as the knight in shining armor?
He just needed to get laid.
Scowling at Cipher, who happened to bring over an unsolicited pitcher of Nectar, Váli made his feelings known in an icy glare. As if any of the Keepers, save the newbie, wouldn’t know this was out of the ordinary. Cipher might be the owner and namesake of Sinner’s, but he never actually worked. That wasn’t one of his attributes, after all.
Oh, he was going to be a problem that Váli was really going to enjoy fixing.
Karmen poured him a glass of Nectar, completely ignoring Cipher. It was petty, but he winked at Sin, who ground his teeth and stalked off toward the bar.
Váli should have known the Keeper was behind Karmen’s mysterious call to Sinner’s. And Quetta hated Váli, so she definitely wouldn’t do him any favors. Crazy bitch. And not Karmen’s feisty and sexy as hell type of bitch, either.
“You know Cipher?” Dahlia asked with too much naïveté.
Everyone in the Keeper world knew of Cipher and Karmen once upon a time. And it was Váli’s goal to make sure every time Karmen’s name was uttered in the next eternity, it would be tied to his.
“Oh, darling. Let’s just say he was the one I should have dropped at the curb centuries and centuries ago.” Karmen waved a hand as she sipped her drink. “I should have known the Keeper of Sin wasn’t good boyfriend material.”
“Sin? Oh my god, he didn’t cheat on you, did he?”
Dahlia looked downright sick at the thought.
Váli slipped a hand under Karmen’s hair to stroke her nape as he listened to her conversation. The small shiver that racked her body encouraged him to press a little closer to her side. She wasn’t as unaffected as she had made him believe all those years ago. Cipher glared daggers at him as he slung dish rags behind the bar, and Váli smirked like the asshole he was.
When he turned around, Seth was still giving him the death stare. Come on, any idiot with two brain cells to rub together would see he was all about Karmen. Who cared what might have happened in the past? Only in this case, nothing had.
“Please. Do you still see him breathing?” Karmen’s husky laugh was the stuff sex was made of. He had to adjust his pants before it got a little too uncomfortable.
“If he had cheated on Karmen, I would have helped her deliver the best form of revenge possible. I would have pulled out all the stops,” Váli growled out as he pushed her hair to the side and pressed a wet, hot kiss to her neck.
Jerking in her chair, Karmen shot him a look so full of surprise and confusion, he couldn’t stop the heated grin that slid over his face. His hand still rested on the back of her neck, so he took advantage to slide his thumb over her pulse point. His little Keeper’s heart was fluttering so hard, it was damn near visible to the eye. His grin morphed into a full-blown smile packed with male satisfaction.
“Sorry, I was walking by and thought I heard you wrong. What type of revenge do you think you could have delivered?” Cipher popped into existence behind Karmen as if he used his grace to move across the bar.
Váli didn’t bother to look at Cipher, his gaze fixed on Karmen and the soft violet of her eyes which had locked on him. The fact she didn’t look at the Keeper of Sin at all pleased something deeply primitive inside of Váli.
The rapid rate of her pulse spiking played a soft tattoo under his fingertips. Cipher glared daggers at him, but Váli continued to ignore him. As long as Karmen had her eyes on his, he wouldn’t look away. The ripple of shock might have been insulting to a lesser man, but Váli knew his worth. More, he knew how much she valued him. Why else would she cast him in the role of best friend to keep him firmly planted at her side?
Even when Cipher captured her interest the first time, she’d never turned her back on Váli. And it had been Váli who had helped her collect the jagged bits of herself when she’d finally thrown off the jesses of the other Keeper.
Heather Long; Blake Blessing. Taste of Karma (Kindle Locations 636-671).
With all that history there’s even more going on as Bish comes up with his own idea since he didn’t like the one Váli came up with. This of course twists this tale in yet another direction with a sweet human named Sanibel.
We see Time again in this one and a couple of new folks, Kong the Keeper of Mischief and Morrie the Keeper of War, now there’s an interesting relationship for sure. While Karmen tends to get in trouble with Kong, Morrie really hates her.
Now an interesting thing is some unique occurrences with Karmen flashing to other books in both author’s books. Gives a bit of pause if you’ve read them.
I love Bish’s dogs and the way they love and protect Karmen when they are with her.
Lots of fun, fights, intrigue, surprises and OMG I swear my kindle was smoking from the flames of the relationship between Karmen, Váli, Bish and Cipher.
I think I’d like Quetta to have her story next, after all she’s been through a lot in these two books.
5 Contented Purrs for Heather and Blake!
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USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.
When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
She attended ten different schools growing up, so books became her constant friend. Escaping into books of all different genres made life fun and exciting. Blake was also raised on music and still blasts it through the house and car at every opportunity.
She has a weird sense of humor and a penchant for chocolate milk. It only makes sense she would one day go on to write her own stories.