A dark and chilling gothic romance

As the youngest daughter born to the Marquis of Whitney, Isabella knew all too well the tempers of men. She dreamed of nothing more than escaping her gilded cage. Spoke her prayers in the dark, to whatever God or Devil may listen.

Lucien heard his name, not from above, from within. Inside his own mind, deep in his soul, her voice was a whisper. A prayer, a calling, a summoning he could no longer deny.

Was he an angel sent from the heavens to save her? Or a demon cast from the darkness to tempt her?

Don’t miss this first story in the Night Bound trilogy!

2017 Finalist Favorite Short Story, Uncaged Book Reviews!

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A Good Night by Danielle Devon (dark gothic romance)

READ AN EXCERPT

A Good Night

It was a good night for blood.

The cool winds swept through Devonshire, the taste of bitter winter tinged on her current like spoiled wine on the tongue.

A whistle, haunting as a banshee’s cry, rustled the leaves on the trees lining the cobblestone path.

A form, dark as midnight appeared upon the path.

A swirl of wispy vapors lapped about him like a silvery cloak. He lifted his gaze; his head tipped heavenward, his face bathed in the glow of the moon.

He heard his ancient name whispered on the winds, spoken by the stars in the heavens above. “Lucien.”

His eyes were closed, his chest expanding beneath his tailored coat as he drew in the perfume of night. A blend of scents washed over him. The arctic breath of winter, the green mossy aroma of unspoiled earth, the distant heavy musk of sweat-slicken horses. The scents converged within him, flowing through him as he drew in deeply, filling his lungs, his body, with the earth.

His eyes opened and the darkness retreated, revealing form and substance to him as though it were daylight. Yet, he could not remember the day. Nor the feel of the sun on his skin. It was more notion than reminiscence, for the memories had long since faded with time.

The Snow Child

In the stark winter of her seventeenth year, Isabella had put to rest her fanciful dreams of knights in glimmering armor and princes turned from toads to entertain a much darker notion of happily-ever-after.

As the youngest of five daughters born to the Marquis of Whitney, Isabella was the thorn in her father’s side. He had successfully married off three of his daughters, her sister, Jacqueline, most recently engaged to a young Duke. A marriage proposal for, Jacqueline, had come quickly as expected. She possessed an angelic beauty and men forsook their wives, even their God, for one of her well-turned smiles. Isabella had not been so fairly blessed. Where her sister was the sleeping beauty, with hair spun of gold and skin kissed by the sun, Isabella was the snow child. Her skin as white as a lily, lips red as blood, hair as black as midnight. Horribly unfashionable, ghastly in her strange beauty, no man should want such a creature for his bride.

The dim light from the oil lamp flickered over the pages of her book yet Isabella had lost interest in its story. Her thoughts wandered to her sisters, to the marriage proposals liberating them from their family home. Would she ever know such freedom? Would she ever be released from the bonds of a child to know the pleasures of a woman?

Isabella shifted uncomfortably in her chair, an ache from an earlier lashing flamed across her reddened backside. She did not know what she had done to warrant his wrath. Despite his lofty title and lavish riches, her father was a bitter old drunk who enjoyed seeing the blossom of bruises on his daughter’s skin. With only one daughter left of five, Isabella had endured the full sting of his fury.

She heard the clock in the foyer chime two. She closed the book and rested it in her lap. Her hands lay motionless atop the leather cover. She did not feel the supple hide beneath her fingers or the ridge of veins marring the binding. Her hands were ice, fingertips numb as though frozen. She knew the book lay beneath her unfeeling hands but the sensation was lost. All the simple pleasures of life, the sunshine and the poetry, were bland. Cast in a dozen shades of gray, lackluster and detached. She recalled her father’s words just before the lashing. Lord Merrick inquired of your status. You shall make yourself available to him at the mask.

Even now, she could not recall her reply. Yet, her query had so enraged him he had turned her over his knee and spanked her as though she were still a child in pigtailed braids. She had taken her licks as she took everything in life, with a hard line on her lips and a silent scream in her throat. Even as he had pulled her skirts over her head and bared her pale buttocks, his hand smacking painfully against naked flesh, Isabella remained rigid.

When his breath came in great ragged breaths and his arm grew heavy with its own weight, he laid his hand to rest on her throbbing flesh. She had dared not to move, waited for him to discard her like a broken plaything and take his leave silently from the room.

Soon it would all be a distant memory. If Lord Merrick wanted her, then Lord Merrick should have her. Isabella would have married the devil himself for the chance to escape her gilded cage.

Beyond the parted curtains covering her windows she could see the moon peeking out between darkened clouds. The winds whipped the branches of the old oaks near the manor, sending long shadows of gnarled fingers across the foot of her bed. The branches clawed at the glass while the winds howled in the distance. She went to the window and lifted her gaze to the heavens. “Pray to the night, to the stars above. In darkness he keeps, the secrets of sleep and the unspoken want in my heart.”

She huffed a laugh at her own childishness and pulled the curtains over the window, shutting out the stars. She slipped under the covers, drawing them to her chin and drifted to sleep.

From beyond the dark veil of her dream, she murmured his name unknowingly, as she had done so many nights before. “Lucien.”

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REVIEWS

5stars

“This book was mesmerizing. The youngest daughter of five, Isabella had a different beauty than her sisters. Her father, was a brutal man, who blamed her for her looks, and never to be able to fetch a good husband. Beaten by her father and dreaming of escape, Isabella sends her prayers into the night and even within her dream.

Lucien hears her within his soul, and comes to her. But is he a dream, a devil, or an angel?

I’m really hoping this short story is the jump off of a new series, and this story continues. I was taken aback at the dark, gothic touches and I want to know more! And I won’t be able to draw any good conclusions about Lucien, without reading more. Hint, hint to Ms. Devon.”Uncaged Book Reviews

5stars“A dark tale of mystery, told with beautifully descriptive words. Isabella is a girl with hidden anger against her abusive father. She calls on some unknown force to help her and someone answers. Is he an avenging angel? A demon? I wasn’t sure but Lucien was an intriguing character; in spite of his name, I don’t believe he was the devil. He was interested in Isabella not damning her soul by vengeful actions.

There was the hint of possible romance in the future. Certainly, the characters were attracted to each other. I hope to follow this story further with future episodes of the story.”Myra Nour, Award-Winning, Best-Selling Author

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Don’t miss this first story in the Night Bound trilogy!

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