Léopold’s Wicked Embrace
Immortals of New Orleans # 5
by Kym Grosso
a Erotic Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 412 print
Cover Artist: Cora Graphics
An erotic paranormal romance...Blurb
Seductive and lethal vampire, Léopold Devereoux, returns to the Big Easy to find a killer. His search leads him to a beautiful and mysterious woman, who awakens desires and emotions that he’s long fought to keep buried. After centuries of self-imposed solitude, the billionaire philanthropist struggles to restrain his growing thirst for the intriguing, lovely female who’s captured his attention.
Laryssa Theriot, an antiques proprietor in the Vieux Carré, agrees to help the commanding yet debonair stranger, who seeks her assistance. She withholds her secret abilities, afraid to trust the man who threatens to unleash her darkest fantasies. All the while, Léopold consumes her thoughts, testing her limits and bringing her to new levels of ecstasy. As the menacing force that has stalked Laryssa for years finally catches up to her, she submits, putting her life into the hands of the dominant vampire who offers his protection.
Deep in the heart of New Orleans, they embark on a perilous adventure, forced to search for an ancient sacrificial relic that they hope will save their lives. As they face formidable challenges, Léopold and Laryssa surrender to the passionate intimacy that possesses them. After hundreds of years of denying himself love, will Léopold bond to the woman who has begun to crack the impenetrable shell around his heart? As evil draws near, will Laryssa survive the demon that has come to take her soul?Warning: This book contains several erotic love scenes and is intended for adult readers only.
Review by pearls
4 stars: The Immortals of New Orleans is one of my favorite series, so while in New Orleans this week, I read the newest installment Leopold's Wicked Embrace. I must say this is a perfect title. On the surface it seems pretty straight forward, but it runs deeper than that. Why is it wicked? Is it because he is a hedonistic vampire? Is it because she is becoming addicted to him, knowing he will break her heart? Or, is it wicked because it is causing him to feel something he never felt before? Or is the keyword "embrace". Is this the noun, talking about how he holds her, or is it the verb, by which he is embracing certain things about himself?
As such, this is a novel about self-discovery as both Leopold and Laryssa are learning about themselves and one another. While the sexual tension between the two is hot, even more thrilling is watching this big, bad vampire sing a lullaby to a sleeping baby. And while he may call Laryssa his rabbit, she can roar like a lion when standing up for herself and her wants.
This is a great addition to the series, as we watch the previous characters interact and move on with their lives in the background. All the while watching the mysterious Leopold reveal the man inside.
Laryssa had heard the customer behind her, but the damn mirror wire wouldn’t seem to catch right. It kept slipping and she cursed under her breath, hoping she wouldn’t drop it. If she could just hold it up a minute longer, she could get it to hang squarely on the wall. She fingered the hook that she’d just renailed into the wall and then moved her thumb over to the thin metal string. With a final shove upward, she attempted to flick it into place. But as the wire caught, it sliced into her flesh. A sharp sting threw her off balance, and her pumps began to waver. Shit. Not again.“Oh my God!” Laryssa squeaked as she fell backwards, fully expecting to crack her head open on one of the many sharp-edged desks that sat adjacent to where she’d been working. As she felt strong male hands slide up under her ribcage, grazing her breasts, she gasped. She wasn’t sure whether to thank the stranger or call the police, but as she turned her face to try to see him, she immediately recognized her rescuer.
“It’s you,” she stammered, clutching his arms. Laryssa giggled nervously, realizing how once again she’d foolishly fallen in front of the sexy vampire. And like last night, he’d caught her. She couldn’t believe how clumsy she’d all of a sudden become. She tried to relax and find her footing, but her heart was beating so fast that she could barely think. What is he doing here in my shop? How did he find me?Like a story book flipping pages, her mind whirled until she remembered what she’d done last night at the club. She’d fought off the asshole who’d grabbed her at the bar. The feel of his hands around her throat had forced her fear into overdrive. The knife had only been a few inches away, but still too far. Desperation had taken over as her power surged, calling the blade to her fingertips. Jamming it into his neck was as instinctive as breathing. Kill or be killed, she’d always choose the former. She’d run into the alley, refusing to discuss it with management. The only one who knew her was Avery and there was no way her friend would have divulged her identity to the vampire. She’d be more likely to turn him into a three horned sheep before she’d squeal. The only way the vampire could have found her would have been if he’d followed her home.
A brush to her breast reminded her that she was still being held upright by him, and Laryssa felt her face grow red. Arousal licked over her skin. Cautiously, she rooted her shoes on the floor and turned around, steeling her nerves.“I’m so sorry,” she said.
“My pleasure, mademoiselle, but I suggest you avoid heights in the future.”
Surreptitiously, she stole a glance at him, which reminded her how incredibly handsome he was. His short dark hair was perfectly coiffed. His white dress shirt hung casually over the waistband of his jeans. Laryssa forced herself to look away, trying not to stare at the masculine features of his face. Straight nose, square jaw and perfectly kissable lips… lips that were smooth talking and way too articulate, teasing her with every word he spoke. Beads of sweat broke out across her forehead. It felt as if someone had turned up the heat, her skin was on fire. She noticed his eyes were no longer on hers and had dropped to her chest. They lingered only a second, and then he met her gaze and smiled. She looked downward and noticed that several buttons had come undone in her fall, revealing the edges of her white lace bra. Could this day get any more embarrassing? Laryssa’s fingers shook as she buttoned her sweater.“I’m so sorry. I just…you just…I just…” Great, first I’m a klutz and now I can’t speak. She bit her lip, paused and then took a deep breath before starting again. “Thank you for catching me.”
“Again.” Léopold watched her as she adjusted her clothes, wishing to rip the rest of the pearly buttons from their fragile seams. But he refused to let the beast within take what it wanted. No, he’d find out what the hell she was before showing her his true nature. “Yes, thank you…again.” She smoothed down her skirt, trying to pretend she hadn’t just fallen into his arms and let him feel her up in the process. Business, think business. Her pulse slowed and she willed herself to appear nonchalant.We met last night, remember?” he pressed. Léopold smiled and ran his hand over the colorful marquetry in rosewood that scrolled through a seventeenth century secretaire. Interesting that she could deliberately control the flow of her blood. It further piqued his concern about her species. What was she?
Laryssa’s eyes met his, widening at the confirmation that he knew exactly who she was.“Yes, yes I do. But I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name.” Vampire. Big bad vampire. Laryssa watched intently as he fingered the furniture, trailing his thumb over the symmetrical scenes as if he was caressing a lover.
“Lovely.” Léopold flashed his eyes to hers.“What?” Laryssa realized that he was toying with her, purposefully trying to make her nervous.
“I said, it’s lovely. The neoclassical architectural structures. The white marble top. Doré bronze mounts.”“Is there something specific I can help you with?”
“You get directly to the point?” Léopold had intended to play with her a bit, throw her off her game. Yet his little rabbit wasn’t frozen in the field like he’d anticipated. No, she rebounded nicely, and now stood confidently like a wildcat, poised to attack.“I don’t really have time to waste. So yeah, I’d like to know why you followed me from the club. And I really want to know what you are doing in my shop.”
Léopold merely laughed and crossed the room to admire a chair and matching settee.“Circa 1775?”
Laryssa walked over and placed her hand on the elegant Louis XVI chair. “Yes. How did you know? It’s a very special piece. It has the mark of Versailles Palace on it.”“Indeed.” Léopold sat in the chair, wrapping his fingers around its arms. “Nothing but the best. Fit for a king.”
“And I suspect you’d like being a king.” She put her hands on her hips, waiting for him to respond.Ah, a king I never was. But I’ve dined with kings, and I can assure you that while they enjoy the extravagances of the rich, they often lose their heads. Easy come, easy go.”
“Why are you here?” Laryssa brushed her hair back, attempting to regain her composure. “Are you looking for something specific?”“Oui, pet. But not an antique. While I do enjoy shopping, this is hardly the time.” Léopold lost the smile, allowing his eyes to pierce hers. “So I shall get to the point. What are you?”
Laryssa lost her ability to rein in her pulse and her heart began to fiercely pump hot blood through her veins. Her lips tightened, and she clenched her jaw. How dare he ask about her? What the hell did he want from her anyway? Dear God, she had enough issues with the darkness on her tail and now he was asking about her origins.“What do you mean, ‘what am I?’ I’m the owner of this store. Does that answer your question?” Laryssa asked, her voice growing louder. “Who are you?”
“Léopold Devereoux. That’s who I am. I can be your angel or nightmare, depending on the day. So listen up. What. Are. You?” Léopold didn’t make a move. He sat completely still, anticipating her answer.
Dimitri crossed the room and sat on the bed, taking in the listless state of the vampire. He observed that Léopold’s eyes were now closed, and the wound had started bubbling apart. Before he could stop himself, he’d made the suggestion.“I’ll feed you.”
Léopold’s eyes flew open, meeting Dimitri’s. “What?”
“You heard me. Come on, let’s do this thing. You can bite my arm, right?”
“I don’t know…I can’t ask this of you. The donors, they come to me freely.”“Yeah, well, so do I. Come on. You did this for Wynter. You had her back, I have yours. It’s no big deal, right? I mean, it’s not like you’re going to have some weird bond to me.”
“No.” Léopold gave him a small smile. “No bonds. No sires or anything. But still…”
“The faster you’re on your feet, the faster we can go try to find connections to Mariah’s past.”Léopold’s lips tightened and he looked away.
“Ya know I’m right. We can’t waste any more time. You didn’t fly me all the way out here to lie around, did ya?”“No, but I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Well let me put it this way…At some point, possibly very soon, whoever wanted that kid dead is going to realize that she’s still very much alive. Then they’re gonna go after her again. And since she’s staying with Logan, I don’t want them going after my Alpha and his mate. So let’s go. Come on, just take a little, enough to get you by until we find your donor.”
“I won’t need much. Your blood; it’s strong. You’re wolf,” Léopold admitted.“There ya go, then. Let’s get to…what do you need here?” Dimitri sat on the bed and considered how best to feed a vampire. What the fuck am I thinking? Too late now. He sat cross-legged, and then changed his mind, lying onto his back.
Léopold grew amused at his friend’s insistence. Not that he didn’t appreciate the offer, but he wasn’t accustomed to needing anyone. Dimitri’s blood, given in friendship, felt all too intimate, making him uncomfortable. Yet the lancing pain to his gut reminded him of his dire situation. He shifted onto his side, cradling Dimitri’s arm in his hands. Slowly he lowered his head to the wolf’s wrist. The aromatic scent of blood called to him as he found the strong beating pulse.You’re sure?” he asked, locking eyes on Dimitri’s.
“Yeah, I can take it. Do it now, before I change my mind.” Dimitri glanced away as if someone was about to give him a needle.Without hesitation, Léopold’s fangs extended, striking the wolf’s arm. He closed his eyes, allowing the pungent flavor to coat his tongue. Deliberately, he suctioned the life-sustaining fluid, releasing his own power into Dimitri’s body. Léopold, grateful for the gift, would cause the wolf no pain, only pleasure. He knew Dimitri would resist, confused by his reaction to the bite. Léopold clutched the wrist to his lips, watching as his friend’s body bowed off the bed.
As soon as Dimitri felt the pinpricks, his body flooded with unexpected warmth. The tug of Léopold’s lips sent a rush of blood to his cock. What the fuck is happening? He wanted to rip his arm away from the vampire, but he felt paralyzed to fight. Desire washed over him from head to toe and before he knew what he was doing, his own hand had reached to grip his shaft through the fine cotton shorts. Stiff as a board, he stroked himself, attempting to relieve the pressure. Goddess, this feels wrong on so many levels. His mind screamed at him to move, to struggle, yet his lips parted, releasing only a moan.
Léopold licked the wounds he’d caused, and released Dimitri’s arm. Thoroughly energized, he sat up, and stared down at Dimitri, whose face had grown tight in both arousal and anger. Léopold laughed, and rolled off the bed. He watched in amusement as the wolf attempted to launch himself off the mattress but fell backwards, clutching himself.
“Fuck me.” Dimitri shook his head at the realization of what he’d just said. He quickly took his hand off his groin and glared at Léopold. “No. I didn’t mean that. Don’t touch me.”
“You’re fine,” Léopold assured him. He glanced in the mirror and finger-combed his hair back into place.
“This,” Dimitri gestured to his erection, “is not funny. Goddammit, I need to get laid. Not that you aren’t pretty, Leo, but you’re not my type. Shit, look what you did.”“You may recall that I told you that feeding from you was not a good idea. But I must admit, your blood is fine. Very tasty.” A broad smile broke across his face.
“Really, Leo? What the hell, man?”“Sorry, but there aren’t many choices when it comes to a bite, you know. Would you have rather had pain? I’m not a sadist by nature, but if you’d preferred it…”
“No.” Dimitri pushed himself up so that he was sitting on the edge of the bed. His painful erection was finally starting to subside.
“Well, then, you have to admit that it didn’t hurt. Go get a shower, see to your need. I’d love to help you but I’m afraid you’re not my preference either, wolf.”“Really, so you give hard-ons but no blow jobs? Lucky me. For the record, if I ever am dumb enough to suggest this again, would you please just say no?” Dimitri hobbled over to the bathroom door.
“Hey wolf,” Léopold called from the doorway.
Dimitri lifted his gaze to him. “Yeah?”
“Seriously, Dimitri. I appreciate you helping me. I should’ve paid more attention. I let myself get run down. It won’t happen again.”“No problem.”
“You need to know that it has been a very long time for me…this friendship thing. This isn’t something someone like me does.” Or deserves. Léopold’s eyes darkened and his tone grew serious. “These few days have been quite the adventure, and I suspect there is more to come. I must ask, however, that you keep what you experienced tonight to yourself. Not the bite but the travel. Logan knows as I couldn’t hide it from him when I showed up in his house last night. But no one else. It’s a special ability…one I’d prefer others not know about. Understood?”“My lips are zipped.” Dimitri sensed sadness in Léopold. As wolf, with his pack, he was never truly alone. Perhaps he underestimated the loneliness that plagued the vampire.
“Well, then…see you downstairs in a few. I’ve got someone I want you to meet,” Léopold commented as he left the room.
“Did you just say it clawed at her? Is she hurt?” Dimitri approached Léopold so that they stood shoulder to shoulder, taking in the landscape. It was the first time he’d been to Léopold’s lake house.“No, she’s fine, but…” Léopold didn’t finish his sentence.
“But what? Exactly how does someone get swiped by a demon and be fine?”“She’s healed.” While she was sleeping, he’d inspected the wound and not a trace of a scar was evident.
“I take it this has something to do with what she does?”“Indeed, mon ami. But I promised her that I wouldn’t tell anyone what she is, so don’t bother asking. It’s her story to tell. You can ask her when she comes out. My guess is that after that demon showed up, she’ll tell you. But I cannot break my oath to her. I’ve already done enough to hurt her on my own without digging the hole any deeper,” Léopold confessed. Turning to Dimitri, he raked his hand through his tousled hair.
Dimitri leaned toward his friend and sniffed. He shook his head, knowing the answer to the next question he was about to ask Léopold. “You fucked her didn’t you? I can smell it.”“Must you be so uncouth?” Léopold replied, blowing out a breath.
“You did,” Dimitri exclaimed. “Jesus Christ, Leo. Seriously, man. You can have any woman you want. Why her? You ever hear that expression, ‘don’t dip your pen in the company ink’?”
“Yes, I’ve fucking heard it, asshole. But she’s just so…I don’t know, she’s just special. Goddammit, I know, okay? I know I fucked up.”
“I don’t see what the issue is here. I mean have you two idiots ever heard the term ‘consenting adults’. What’s the big deal?” Jake asked.
“The big deal is that he just fucking met her. And we need her to help us to keep Ava safe. If she’s in danger, so is our Alpha. Laryssa was just starting to trust us, trust him, and lover boy here just can’t keep it in his pants,” Dimitri huffed, taking a seat at the table.
“He’s right. There’s no excuse,” Léopold agreed. “It’s not sleeping with a woman that’s a problem, it’s the fact that I can’t…I won’t have a relationship. It’s not happening. And now that we’ve made love, well, it adds complications to our situation. Ones we didn’t need.”
“It would be one thing if you actually cared about anything besides yourself, Devereoux. But you don’t. That’s the thing. If you fucking hurt her…” Dimitri began.
“Why do you care about her anyway, wolf?” Léopold’s eyes narrowed on Dimitri.
“Because, Leo,” Dimitri stared at his friend. “She seemed kind of nice. And she stood up to that asshole, Luca. And for some reason, unbeknownst to me, she seems like she might actually care about you. Why is beyond me. And she cares about Ava too, and she has no reason to. We are the ones who sought her out. Now, not only have we upturned her life, we’ve brought a demon to her…right here to your goddamn house.”
“I think we’ve established that I fucked up. I just said so. Can we just move on?”
“She’s okay with one night? Because I know that you never have women sleepover. You’ve told me as much.”
“I told her that I don’t do relationships. I can’t become involved with her. But you’re correct in that we do need her. We need to find that knife.”
“This isn’t going to go well, you know that, right? I mean, I don’t know Laryssa, but I saw the way she looked at you yesterday, and I have a hard time believing she’s a one night stand kinda girl. Could be wrong? But damn, it was as if she had ‘innocence’ stamped on her forehead,” Dimitri said.
“Please stop already. Okay?” Léopold tilted his head backwards, closed his eyes and wiped them with both of his hands out of frustration. “I get it. I’m a dick. I shouldn’t have slept with her but I did. I can’t take it back. I promise you that I’ll do my best to repair this…‘relationship’ I’ve irresponsibly put at risk.”
He choked on the word. Relationship. No, no, no. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he was developing feelings for Laryssa, now Dimitri had him filled with guilt for what he’d done. Damn wolves. Damn humans. For a moment, he wished he could go back to not caring about his new friend. But no matter how he tried, what was done was done. Merde. I’m truly fucked.
About the Author:Kym Grosso is the author of the bestselling erotic paranormal romance series, The Immortals of New Orleans. The series currently includes Kade's Dark Embrace (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 1), Luca's Magic Embrace (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 2), Tristan's Lyceum Wolves (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 3), Logan’s Acadian Wolves (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 4) and Léopold’s Wicked Embrace (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 5).
In addition to romance, Kym has written and published several articles about autism, and is passionate about autism advocacy. She also is a contributing essay author in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum.
Kym lives with her husband, two children, dog and cat. Her hobbies include autism advocacy, reading, tennis, zumba, traveling and spending time with her husband and children. New Orleans, with its rich culture, history and unique cuisine, is one of her favorite places to visit. Also, she loves traveling just about anywhere that has a beach or snow-covered mountains. On any given night, when not writing her own books, Kym can be found reading her Kindle, which is filled with hundreds of romances.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KymGrossoGoodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5785692.Kym_Grosso
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