The Horseman is unending,
his presence shan’t lessen.
If you break the curse,
you become the legend.
Washington Irving and Rip Van Winkle had no choice but to cover up the deadly truth behind Ichabod Crane’s disappearance. Centuries later, a Crane returns to Sleepy Hollow awakening macabre secrets once believed to be buried deep.
What if the monster that spawned the legend lived within you?
Now, Ireland Crane, reeling from a break-up and seeking a fresh start, must rely on the newly awakened Rip Van Winkle to discover the key to channeling the darkness swirling within her. Bodies are piling high and Ireland is the only one that can save Sleepy Hollow by embracing her own damning curse.
But is anyone truly safe when the Horseman rides?
“Tonight was meant to be the Harvest Ball,” Katrina said as she slid between the folds of her crimson and taupe gown. “Now the town is meeting, trying to concoct a plan to stop a being that death itself couldn’t tame.”
Ichabod sat on the edge of the bed with his back, respectfully, to Katrina while she changed. His loaded musket lay across his lap. In the reflection of the window in front of him he could see the soft curve of her hips as they tapered into her narrow waist. He cleared his throat and shifted his gaze to the floor. His chin tipped to the side, ever so slightly, to ask, “Are you secure in our plan?”
“I am to attend the summit on the arm of Brom Van Brunt,” she reaffirmed as she pulled her long, blonde locks out from the back of her gown and began tightening the laces of her bodice. “Then speak with as many people as I can, searching for anyone that may have motives leading to the Horseman.”
Ichabod nodded. Mostly to himself, he muttered the remaining details they were depending upon, “Rip will be inside as well. That man can finesse a crowd with a skill that truly baffles. If there are secrets to be found, he will uncover them. Irv will be outside with me, primarily because the Horseman isn’t the only one in this town that would like to see his head on a spike. We will be on horseback, patrolling the grounds with a few other men that have volunteered. You will have nothing to fear.”
Her elegant gown in place, Katrina turned to Ichabod wearing an expression equal parts timidity and fear. “What of Brom?”
The bed squeaked as Ichabod shifted his weight to face her. “Boorish as his ways may be, he cares for you. If you adopt the guise that you have interest in him, he will do all he can to protect you inside the gathering, while I provide you the same service outside.”
“And,” her long lashes brushed the tops of her cheeks as she cast her gaze to the floor, “you aren’t bothered by me being on his arm?”
In the midst of the plotting and planning, Ichabod had slipped into the role he knew well of military strategist. He had detached himself from the emotional aspects—until that very moment. The reality of his request sank in like a heavy stone. He had asked her to take another man’s arm, asserting her place beside him. The implications of that dug into his gut like a dull blade, churning and twisting deep.
“The mere idea of that makes me ache,” he stated, forcing the words through his suddenly parched throat. “Yet I would endure this hardship, and countless others, to keep you safe.”
She moistened her lips with a flick of her tongue, seemingly wrestling with words that gave her pause. “Ichabod, when this is over … w-would you call yourself mine?”
Ichabod closed his eyes. The euphoria of that question washed over him, cleansing him of all his sins with the promise of tomorrow. Rising to his feet, he took her velvet soft hand in his. A love he hadn’t known possible illuminated her striking face. “From the moment I saw you, my heart belonged to you alone. If by some miracle you were to give me your love in return, I would need nothing else to sustain me the rest of my days.”
Katrina’s palm tenderly brushed his cheek. “You have already claimed that.”
Allowing no further hesitation, Ichabod gathered her in his arms. Katrina tipped her head back, the soft curves of her body molding to his. Full lips parted in an alluring invitation it would take a stronger man than him to resist.
I loved this story. Check out my review for CRANE here.
Cursed by the malevolent spirit of the Headless Horseman, Ireland Crane ventures to Manhattan in search of a way to break her soul crushing bond. Instead, she discovers the lines between fact and fiction are blurring once more. Croaking ravens. Telltale hearts. Could the works of Poe be coming to pass with handsome Wall Street Midas Ridley Peolte as their unwilling target?
She walks the Earth, a plague on mankind,
searching for he, her rotted heart doth pine.
Together, the two unknowingly release a dark force death itself could not tame. Surrounded by the unrelenting violence and mayhem they’ve unleashed, Ireland feels her control over the Horseman slipping. Before the beast within consumes her, she and her crew must follow the clues of the dead to right a centuries’ old wrong. Will it be enough to sate the Horseman’s appetite?
Hell hath no fury like a ghoul scorned.
Clamping her eyes on the wash of tears that threatened, Ireland ignored the wailing of her heart … and laid a palm to each of their cheeks. One lone tear snuck between her lashes at the cascade of tingles seeping up her arms.
“You can’t blame them for not understanding,” a familiar voice drawled behind her.
She spun as he neared, leaving Rip and Noah wheezing for breath—or, more likely, completion of her task.
Techno-colored flowers bloomed in a colorless world each time the sole of Ridley’s shoes met the earth. The crisp cut of his white, tailored suit was accented by a burst of color from the button-down shirt beneath that changed in hue to match the species of flowers that sprung to life. Hydrangeas blue. Orchid purple. Lily fuchsia. Rose coral. As he neared, Ireland noticed his eyes morphed to match as well. The result hypnotic.
His haggard and troubled façade was a thing of the past. The man before her exuded confidence and a zest for life from every pore. The draw of which was so magnetic Ireland had to fight to keep her feet planted while her body insisted she close the distance between them.
“To them this is a thrill, a game of chicken against the Reaper himself.” Ridley paused beside her, his shoulder skimming hers. Even then he didn’t grace her with a glance, his attention fixed on Rip and Noah. Tipping his head toward her, the warmth of his breath teased over her breast bone. “For us, it’s destiny.”
The moment he stepped away from her, the chill of solitude lashed at Ireland’s soul and cut deep. Bending eye-level with her withering subjects, Ridley pursed his rose petal lips to blow a soft, healing breath over both of them. Wan complexions of the dying were ripened to plump apricot. Both men blinked away their disappointment before dipping in a low bow—foreheads to the ground in a show of respect.
“No need for that, boys.” Ridley smoothed the front of his suit coat, a self-depreciating chuckle playing over his lips.
Neither humbled servant budged.
“You’re like me?” Pacing in a slow circle around him, Ireland’s eye narrowed.
He matched her steps, leading them in an intimate waltz normally reserved for predators—or lovers.
“Like you?” He tsked. “Oh no, my darling flower. There is no other like you. Our only similarity is being pawns in a game that began centuries before either of our fathers got an amorous gleam in their eyes.”
Ireland’s gaze lingered over the soft curve of his mouth, wondering if his lips could possibly taste as delectable as they looked. “How do we play?”
Curling one finger into a ruffled tuft of her skirt, Ridley pulled her to him. Bowing his head, he brushed his cheek over the delicate curve of her collarbone. “The game is already in motion,” he murmured. “The rule sheet not meant for our eyes. All we can do now is stay alive.”
Ireland weaved her fingers into his hair, yanking his head back with a passion driven force that bordered on violent. “I’ve taken lives. I’m a monster,” she snarled against his lips, tormenting them both with the agonizing veil of energy that denied their touch.
His hand snaked up her arm to find her fingers and loosen her grasp. Palm to palm. Fingers entwined with fingers. “Does granting it make me any better?”
Ridley didn’t give her time to answer. With one hand pressed to the small of her back he crushed her to him. Their lips met with a desperate urgency that caused Heaven and Earth to quake in nervous anticipation of what was coming …
Young Edgar Allen Poe had an auspicious beginning: cut from his mother’s womb by his (literal) witch of a grandmother, he was cursed with the power to raise the dead. But, at what cost? His soul? And, when they rise, are they the same? He is hounded by angry ghosts, furious that he refused to use his power to avert death, which drives him to madness and alcoholism–until he meets beautiful Lenore. Shame that Edgar was not destined for a happily ever after. No, death crouches on his shoulders and waits for the chance to destroy anyone he loves.
Ireland Crane is on the hunt to decipher who cursed her to channel the Hessian–the Headless Horseman. With her boyfriend, Noah van Tassel, and Rip van Winkle at her side, she’s, well, she’s in trouble. The Horseman wants out to cause murder and mayhem–only Noah’s love and a playlist filled with country music can keep that murderous spirit at bay. Rip gets a pang of narcolepsy whenever he’s frightened, and Noah can only handle so much, especially when it seems Ireland’s affections might be shifting.
Ireland crosses paths with Ridley Peolte in the course of her investigation. This suave King of Wall Street had a seemingly Midas touch–until he touches Ireland. Moments later he’s attacked by an unkindness of ravens. Does Poe’s spirit now inhabit Ridley, as the Hessian does Ireland? His mind is plagued by the same visions Poe’s had been, and he frees the final monster Poe created–one who has the power to kill Ireland and free the Hessian’s spirit into the world. The only peace Ridley feels is when he has direct contact with Ireland’s skin. With Noah around this is a fairly awkward arrangement.
Oh, and we get a good look at the puppet master who set all this in motion when he injects Ireland with a serum that assists the Hessian to possess her. Will the Hessian’s power and Ridley’s reincarnation abilities be enough to take out Poe’s beast rampaging through modern NYC?
I truly enjoy the mix of story lines, from Poe’s life through Ireland and Ridley’s experiences. The pace is brisk, with sharp turns and ghastly spins. Lots of ghosts, a few monsters and, well, a creative romp of a tale.
The Gryphon Series is written by Stacey Rourke. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant, drooly dogs. Stacey loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. She is currently hard at work on the continuations of this series as well as other literary projects. The Gryphon Series is available wherever fine books are sold.
Contact Info: Visit the author at www.staceyrourke.com
Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/staceyrourkeauthor