One of my favorite pnr authors is Larissa Ione. Her books aren’t the normal pnr books which is one of the reasons I like it so much I think. The final book in her Lords Of Deliverance Rogue Riders tells the story of Respeth and how he deals with what he did as Pestilence, and how he finds love and salvation in the arms of Jillian.
By the time Jillian got back inside the house, she was only a little freaked by what had happened outside. Just as she’d started to think that Reseph was the kind of guy who didn’t take much seriously, he’d morphed into what she could only describe as a predator. The scary thing was that the shift had been more than behavioral; it had been physical. From the set of his jaw and the flare of his nostrils to the baring of his teeth and what she swore was a glow in his eyes, he’d become something she’d never want to meet in a dark alley.
Hell, she’d avoid him in a sunlit alley.
And that growl. Dear God, the bloodcurdling sound he’d made had lifted every hair on the back of her neck.
And yet, when he’d sauntered into the barn just moments later, all traces of the man who had snarled like a beast, run into the forest, and come back with blood on his hands was gone.
She stared at Reseph’s broad back as he stood in front of the wood stove, head bowed. He’d stripped off the sweatshirt, leaving it in a messy pile in the corner. She could hardly be annoyed though, not when being shirtless meant she got a view of the most perfectly sculpted male upper body she’d ever seen. Before his amnesia episode, he must have spent a lot of time in the gym.
Like, a lot.
“Hey.” She hung up her coat and stepped out of her boots. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” For being okay, Reseph’s voice was off, permeated by an underlying scrape of gravel. “Did I scare you?”
“Maybe a little.” His shoulders slumped and his head sank lower. She felt like she’d just kicked a puppy. “Reseph, I wasn’t afraid you’d hurt me,” she said, realizing it was true. He’d frightened her, but not because she was afraid for herself. She was afraid for anyone who crossed him.
She didn’t plan to cross him.
She padded across the wood floor, stopping a few inches away. Without thinking, she placed her hand gently on his lower back. Beneath her palm, hard muscles twitched. “What’s wrong?”
The fire crackled for a long time before he finally said, “I scared myself.”
He turned around, catching her hand before she dropped it. His warm hand engulfed hers. He was so much bigger than she was, and she supposed that under normal circumstances she might feel intimidated, but this was not a normal situation, and Reseph was far from a normal man.
“Were you afraid you’d hurt me?” she asked.
Reseph stared down at her hand, his thumb making slow sweeps over her fingers. “Not…intentionally.” He raised his gaze, his eyes burning into hers. “And that’s what scares me. I acted without thinking. I don’t know myself. I don’t know anything and I think I might be crazy.”
Once, while Jillian had been getting ready to come on shift at the air traffic control tower, she’d watched a small private jet crash on the runway and burst into flames. In sickeningly slow motion, she’d seen movement inside the craft as the passengers tried frantically to get out. The helplessness Jillian had felt still haunted her today, and now a similar feeling was squeezing her heart. She had no idea what to say or do to make things right.
“I wish I could help more,” she said softly.
“Are you kidding?” Reseph reached up, stroking his warm fingertips over her cheek in a tender caress that startled the hell out of her. “You’ve done so much already. If I live a thousand years I won’t be able to repay you.” His thumb traveled along the line of her jaw as he held her with his gaze. She didn’t even consider stepping away from him. The hypnotic current running between them held her fast.
How could she be so attracted to a freaking stranger? Then again, she’d experienced instant attraction to her ex-fiance when she’d first met him, albeit nothing like what was going on with Reseph. And then Jason had proved that men could remain strangers even after you’d been in love with them for a year.
The memory was a much-needed splash of cold water, and she stepped back from Reseph.
“You don’t need to repay me. I haven’t done anything any decent person wouldn’t do.” She smiled, hoping to lighten the mood a little. Or to at least get her pulse back to normal. “Now, why don’t you get some sleep. You can take my bed.”
One blond eyebrow popped up. “Will you be in it too?”
“Ah, no. I’ll take the couch.”
He shook his head. “If I can’t be in the bed with you, I want the couch.”
The man was impossible. “You won’t fit on the couch. Trust me, I’ll be fine there.”
“Nope.” In a heartbeat, he leaped over the sofa’s armrest and sprawled out on the cushions, legs hanging over the edge, hands behind his head. “Mine. You can’t move me.”
So neener-neener. “You’re like a big child, you know that?”
His grin was so disarming that she had to bite back a smile of her own. “There is one thing that can get me to move.”
“No. We’re not sleeping together.”
“I wasn’t planning on sleeping.”
Not only was he impossible, he seemed to have no filter, no inhibitions, and no sense of societal boundaries. Maybe he was some sort of overindulged, spoiled prince or wealthy heir. But he hadn’t displayed any of the traits she’d expect to go with an indulged lifestyle. He wasn’t demanding, snobby, or entitled. He just seemed so unguarded and guileless. It was refreshing, really.
Not refreshing enough, however, to give in to his desire to get into her bed.
“I’ll get you some blankets,” she said crisply, and headed to the linen closet, the sound of his soft chuckle at her back.
But a chuckle was much better than a growl.
Jillian Cardiff came to this remote mountain town to forget the demon attack that almost killed her. Instead, she rescues – and falls for – a gorgeous stranger who has no memory of anything other than his name. Handsome, charming and protective, Reseph seems like the kind of man that Jillian can trust. But with hints of a troubling history of his own, he’s also the kind of man that can be very dangerous . . .
Reseph may not know his background, or why he mysteriously appeared in Jillian’s life, but he knows he wants to stay. Yet when Jillian’s neighbours are killed and demon hunters arrive on the scene, Reseph fears that he’s putting Jillian in danger. And once it’s revealed that Reseph is also Pestilence, the Horseman responsible for ravaging the world with death and destruction, he and Jillian must face the greatest challenge of all: can they forget the horrors of a chilling past to save the future they both desire?