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Darkness Unbound (Dark Angels) Mass Market Paperback – September 27, 2011

Book 1 of 7 in the Dark Angels Series

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"An Unwelcome Quest"
Ever since Martin Banks and his fellow computer geeks discovered reality is just software, they've been happily jaunting back and forth through time. Who knew that rotten Todd would escape, then conjure a game packed with wolves, wastelands and other harrowing hazards--and trap his hapless former hack-mates inside it? Find out more author Scott Meyer
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Product Details

  • Series: Dark Angels (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Original edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440245729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440245728
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Keri Arthur, author of the New York Times bestselling Riley Jenson Guardian series, has now written more than twenty-five books. She’s received several nominations in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and recently won RT’s Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy. She lives with her daughter in Melbourne, Australia.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

The house still smelled of death.

Two months had passed since Mom’s murder, but the air still echoed with her agony and I knew if I breathed deep enough, I’d catch the hint of old blood.

But at least there were no visible reminders. The Directorate’s cleanup team had done a good job of removing the evidence.

Bile rose up my throat, and I briefly closed my eyes. I’d seen her—­had seen what had been done to her—­and it haunted me every night in my dreams. But in many ways, those dreams were also responsible for me finally being able to walk through the front door today.

I’d done enough remembering, and shed enough tears. Now I wanted revenge, and that wasn’t going to happen if I waited for others to hunt down the killers. No, I needed to be a part of it. I needed to do something to help ease the ferocity of the dreams—­dreams that came from the guilty knowledge that I should have been there for her. That if I had, I might have been able to prevent this.

I drew in a deep breath that did little to steady the almost automatic wash of fury, and discovered something else. Her scent still lingered.

And not just her scent. Everything she’d been, and everything she’d done—­all her love and energy and compassion—­filled this place with a warmth that still radiated from the very walls.

For the first time since I’d scattered her ashes in the hills that she’d loved, I smiled.

She would never entirely be gone from this world. She’d done too much, and helped too many people, for her memory to be erased completely.

And that was one hell of a legacy.

Still, despite the echoes of the warmth and love that had once filled these rooms, I had no intention of keeping the house. Not when all I had to do was step into the kitchen to be reminded of everything that had happened.

I walked along the hallway, my boots echoing on the polished marble floor. Aside from the few items of furniture placed to give prospective buyers an idea of each room’s size and purpose, the house was empty. Mike—­who’d been Mom’s financial adviser and was still mine—­had made all the arrangements, talking to the real estate people on my behalf and shifting most of the furniture into storage so I could deal with it later. Only the items in the two safes remained untouched, and that was a task only I could handle—­although it was the one thing I’d been avoiding until now.

I drew in a shuddery breath, then slowly climbed the carpeted stairs. Once I reached the landing, I headed for Mom’s bedroom down at the far end of the hall. The air had a disused smell. Maybe the people employed to keep the house spotless until it sold hadn’t been as generous with the deodorizer up here.

But the soft hint of oranges and sunshine teased my nostrils as I walked into Mom’s bedroom, and just for a moment it felt like she was standing beside me.

Which was silly, because she’d long since moved on, but my fingers still twitched with the urge to reach for her.

I walked across the thick carpet and opened the double doors to her wardrobe. Her clothes had already been donated to charity, but somehow seeing this emptiness hit me in a way that the emptiness of the other rooms had not. I’d often played in here as a kid, dressing up in her silkiest gowns and smear- ing my face—­and no doubt said gowns—­with her makeup.

She’d never once been angry. She’d always laughed and joined the fun, even letting me do her face.

I swiped at the tear that appeared on my cheek and resolutely walked into the bathroom. Most people wouldn’t think of looking for a safe in an en suite, which is exactly why Mom had installed her second one here. This was where she’d stored her most precious jewelry.

I opened the double doors under the basin and ducked down. The safe was embedded in the wall and visible only because all of Mom’s makeup had been cleared away.

After typing in the code, I pressed my hand against the reader. Red light flickered across my fingertips; then there was a soft click as the safe opened.

I took a deep breath, then sat and pulled the door all the way open. Inside were all her favorite items, including the chunky jade bracelet she’d bought the last time she was in New Zealand, only a few weeks before her death. There was also a stack of microdrive photo disks and, finally, an envelope.

There was nothing written on the front of the envelope, but faint wisps of orange teased my nostrils as I flipped it over and slid a nail along the edge to open it. Inside was a folded piece of paper that smelled of Mom. I took another, somewhat shaky breath and opened it.

I’m sorry that I had to leave you in the dark, my darling daughter, it said, and I could almost imagine her saying the words as I read them. Could almost feel her warm breath stirring the hair near my cheek. But I was given little other choice. Besides, I saw my death long ago and knew it was the price I had to pay for having you. I never regretted my choice—­not then, and most certainly not now, when that death is at my doorstep. Don’t ever think I accepted my fate placidly. I didn’t. But the cosmos could show me no way out that didn’t also involve your death or Riley’s. Or worse, both of you. In the end, it just had to be.

Live long, love well, and I will see you in the next life. I love you always. Mom.

I closed my eyes against the sting of tears. Damn it, I wouldn’t cry again. I wouldn’t.

But my tear ducts weren’t taking any notice.

I swiped at the moisture, then sat back on my heels. Oddly enough, I almost felt better. At least now I knew why she’d refused to tell me what was going on. She’d seen my death—­and Riley’s—­if we’d intervened. And I would have intervened. I mean, she was my mother.

And as a result, I’d have died.

Her death still hurt—­would always hurt—­but a tiny weight seemed to have lifted from my soul.

I glanced down at the letter in my hand, smiling slightly as her scent spun around me, then folded it up again and tucked it into my pocket. That one piece of paper was worth more than anything else in her safe.

I scooped up the remainder of the jewels, but as I rose, awareness washed over me. Someone—­or something—­was in the house.

I was half werewolf, and my senses were keen. Though I hadn’t actually locked the front door, I doubted any humans could have entered without me hearing. Humans tended to walk heavily, even when they were trying to sneak, and with the house almost empty the sound would have echoed. But this invader was as silent as a ghost. And it wasn’t nonhuman, either, because in the midst of awareness came a wash of heat—­not body heat, but rather the heat of a powerful presence.

An Aedh.

And he was in spirit form rather than physical.

My pulse skipped, then raced. The last time I’d felt something like this, I’d been in the presence of my father. Of course, that meeting had ended when two Aedh priests had gate-­crashed the party in an effort to capture my father—­who’d fled and left me to fight the priests off alone. Needless to say, the odds had been on their side, and I’d been taken and tortured for information. And while my father might not have led me into the trap, he still bore some responsibility for it. It was him they wanted, not me.

Hell, everyone wanted him. The Directorate of Other Races, the vampire council, and the reapers.

And they all were intent on using me to get to him.

Which pissed me off no end, but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. Especially given the deal I’d made with Madeline Hunter—­the woman who was not only in charge of the Directorate, but also one of the highest-­ranking members of the vampire council. Of course, she had managed to catch me at a vulnerable moment. She’d arrived uninvited as I said my final good-­bye to Mom, had heard my vow for vengeance, and had all but blackmailed me into becoming an adviser to the council. In exchange, they would throw their full resources behind finding Mom’s killer.

I hadn’t walked away from the deal yet—­not when finding Mom’s killer might well depend on the information the council could give me. They might be using me to get to my dad, but I sure as hell intended to return the favor.

Not that they’d given me a whole lot so far, but then I hadn’t done a whole lot for them, either.

Still, instinct said that would change quickly now that I’d set my sights on finding the killer.

Sometimes, having psychic skills like my mom totally sucked. Although I guess I had to be thankful that mine were nowhere near as strong as hers had been.

The sensation of power coming up from the floor below was growing stronger. Whoever it was, they were closing in fast. I needed help, and I needed it now. And the only person I could call on so quickly was the one person I was trying to avoid. Azriel—­the reaper who was linked to my Chi. I hadn’t heard or seen him since Mom’s death, and part of me had been hoping to keep it that way.

I should have known fate would have other ideas.

Of course, Azriel wasn’t just a reaper. He was a Mijai, a dark angel who hunted and killed the things that returned from the depths of hell—­or the dark path, as the reapers preferred to call it—­to steal from this world.

But what he hunted now wasn’t a soul-­stealer or even my soul.

He—­like everyone else—­was looking for my father.

And all because my fathe...

Customer Reviews

These characters are very well played!!!
Amazon Customer
There's plenty of action throughout the book as well as some rather interesting characters.
C. Thilmany
I am enjoying this Dark Angel series and look forward to what happens next.
K. Winkelman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. Thilmany TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Fans of the author's Riley Jensen series are going to be delighted to find that even though this series belongs to Risa, Riley and the gang are on hand to help out.

Last seen using her ability to go to the gray world in between the physical and passing over when Riley was dying over twenty years ago, Risa is asked by her mother to check out a client's young daughter who is in a coma. Risa is horrified to discover the child's soul had been torn out of her body and destroyed. If that doesn't qualify for a bad day, add finding that a reaper is following you and that a number of individuals are trying to kidnap Risa in the hopes of finding out where the father-she's-never-met might be.

Risa is half Helki wolf and half Aedh (a non-physical being that can take on a physical form). She's unable to shift into a wolf but carries all other wolf and Helki traits, including totally changing her features. And let's not forget the wolf's horny/free-spirited nature. "Uncle" Quinn had taught her how to use her Aedh abilities which include seeing reapers and shifting into energy. "Aunt" Riley taught her how to fight, although Risa readily admits she's not qualified to handle situations she ends up in between dealing with the soul stealer and the kidnappers. But honestly, she can't just leave things to Rhoan and the guardians to handle; Risa needs to be involved.

Everyone seems to have a different agenda when it comes to why they want to find her father and this dangerous aspect of the story carries forward into the next book. Instead of dealing with Jack at the Directorate, Risa is being forced to deal directly with Madeline Hunter, the woman who created it; although she'd prefer to avoid them all together.

Risa's best friends and roommates help her along the way.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Bielman @ Bad Bird Reads on December 10, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Summary
Being half werewolf and half Aedh, Risa Jones can enter the twilight realms between life and death and see the reapers, supernatural beings that collect the souls of the dead. But she soon makes a terrifying discovery: Some sinister force is stealing souls, preventing the dead from ever knowing the afterlife.

Reapers escort souls--not snatch them--but Risa is still unnerved when a reaper shadows her in search of someone Risa has never met: her own father, an Aedh priest, who is rumored to be tampering with the gates of hell for a dark purpose. With the help of her "aunt"--half-werewolf, half-vampire Riley Jenson--and an Aedh named Lucian who may have lost his wings but none of his sex appeal, Risa must pursue whatever shadowy practitioner of blood magic is seizing souls, and somehow stop her father . . . before all hell breaks loose.

The Good
Maybe something is wrong with me because I just couldn't get into this book but many seem to have liked it. But this is the good part of my review, so let's start with that.

We meet Risa as a baby and then child in the Riley Jenson series. I was super excited for Risa to have her own series because her character always interested me. She was a little freaky and adorable at the same time. And anyone who has read the Riley Jenson series knows that Arthur can write an amazing book. So suffice it to say, I had high hopes.

Risa is a one of a kind character when it comes to abilities. She is half werewolf and half Aedh. Though she can't change into a wolf, she has a whole other bag of tricks, like changing her facial features to resemble other people and becoming one with the air (having no physical form so no one can see, hear, or feel her).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Book Obsession.. on October 1, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There isn't anyone quite like Risa. Her mother, a lab created clone, is an extremely strong clairvoyant and also a very special kind of werewolf, able to shift facial structure. Her father is an Adeh, capable of becoming only mist, as well as several other perks. This mixed heritage has made Risa incredibly unique and powerful. Yet all she wants is to live a normal life. Yet, when her mother asks her to help out with a little girl whose soul has been stolen, Risa finds herself in the middle of a very dangerous plot. While she has trained with her guardian "aunt and uncle" nothing could have prepared her for what happens next.

If you are a fan of Keri Arthur's Riley Jenson books, then you won't want to miss this new spin off series. Favorites return, but the real focus is on Risa. However, don't be expecting her to be a Riley 2.0, as she is very much her own person. Yes, Risa is part wolf, but unlike Riley, she isn't chained as much by the sexual nature of her wolf side. In fact Risa is more Adeh than anything, making for a fresh new set of skills. She also is her mother's daughter, in that she has plenty of physic abilities. It would have been so easy to follow down the same path her "Aunt" Riley had with the directorate, but for the moment, Risa seems happier to live a normal life. Or, well that was the case until certain events were set into motion in this book. Now it looks like that normal life will be thing of the past, which is bad for Risa, but very entertaining for the reader.

There are two very sexy men that show up in Risa's life in Darkness Unbound. A sexually frustrated werewolf is an incredibly dangerous thing, so their arrival was just in time, since Risa's wolf side, while much milder than most, was starting to show the signs of neglect.
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More About the Author

Keri Arthur has been nominated in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, and recently won RT's Career Achievement Award for Urban Fantasy. She lives with her daughter in Melbourne, Australia.

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