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Naked Venom
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-376-X
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 192 Pages
Published: July 2006



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Total Readers: 6

From inside the flap

 Book One in the AEssyrian World Series, the saga continues...

This series centers around the turbulent but steamy love affair between an 800 year old alien general and a human doctor from Earth.  Book Two in the series is Carnal Ambition and is now available.

General Gavin Theron is a bastard.

Raised in a whorehouse by his human prostitute mother, he has had to struggle all his life to obtain power and position. His successes have brought him enemies thought, lots of them, and they are about to strike. When Gavin is falsely accused of the king’s murder, he has few allies willing to help him. That was until he met the visiting human from Earth, Doctor Harlan Ambrose. Now he must face the worse struggle of his life, thank the gods he won?t be doing it alone.

Harlan Ambrose is a contract doctor from Earth stationed on the harsh and dangerous planet of AEssyria. Although far from home and lonely, she has grown to enjoy her time here. That was until she met the half-breed alien general, Gavin Theron. Now the treacherous general has hijacked her life and threatened her livelihood, and nothing will ever be the same.

Book two, Carnal Ambition, also published by Double Dragon ebooks, will be out a little later this year.



Reviews and Awards

I really enjoyed Naked Venom! It’s the first book I’ve read by these authors and I was quite impressed! I’ll definitely be looking for more of their works. :)

My only negative comment would be that some of the chapters seemed to be rushed, with events moving along a bit too fast and the scenes sometimes ending rather abruptly. It would have been nice to have the pace slowed down a bit and certain parts more fleshed out. But despite that minor quibble, the story did flow rather nicely with not a single dull spot! I was hooked from the very beginning and found that I couldn’t stop until it was finished. I ended up reading the whole story in one sitting!

Naked Venom is categorized as Science Fiction, but it also has a dash of Fantasy elements, which I loved! The plot is ripe with palace intrigue revolving around the murder of the AEssiryan King, and at the heart of it all is a subtle romance/attraction between the two main characters, Harlan and Gavin. I liked Harlan very much! She was such a sensible woman with an admirable inner strength and an engaging personality. Gavin was quite the annoying bastard at times, but funnily enough, that’s part of what made him so intriguing! The sexual tension and verbal sparring between the two of them was just wonderful, and very humorous in parts!

The supporting characters were also very intriguing, Titan and Molitov in particular I really hope we get to see and learn more about them in future installments of this series! There were also several things left unanswered and/or unexplained in regards to both Harlan and Gavin’s past which I’m hoping will be revealed in the sequel. Even though things are wrapped up nicely at the end, there is still a definite sense that the story is not yet finished and there is more to come. Harlan and Gavin’s relationship seems to be just getting started and I can’t wait to see how things will play out between the two of them! Harlan will not be wooed easily (you go girl!) and if Gavin hopes to have any chance with her, he’ll need to change his dastardly ways! :D

Overall, a very enjoyable read, and one that I would definitely recommend! I rate it 4/5 stars. :)

Naked Venom (Excerpt)


CHAPTER ONE

"Excellency?"

General Gavin Theron growled and rolled away from the voice intruding into his sleep.

"Excellency, you asked me to wake you this morning so you wouldn?t be late for the wedding," the young corporal said, rushing to the other side of the bed and leaning down to peer at the general in earnest.

"What wedding?" Gavin mumbled. His voice was obscured by a pillow covering his face.

The corporal frowned and rested his hip on the edge of the mattress. "The Royal Wedding of the Princess Shatara and Grand Duke Savion, Excellency. The queen says if you?re late again for a Royal function, she?ll-"

"She?ll do what?"

The soldier shrugged. "She didn?t finish her thought."

Gavin squinted, shielding his eyes from the morning light spilling through his bedroom window. Oh yes, he thought, that wedding. He snarled and waved the young man away impatiently. "I?m up, Corporal. You?ve done your duty, now get out."

The young soldier bowed and quickly rushed from the room.

Alone now, Gavin dragged himself out of bed and into the shower. He stood motionless, letting the hot, rushing water scald away his fatigue. Closing his eyes, he gave himself over to this simple pleasure.

Running his hands down his body, he could feel how the centuries of battle had taken their toll on his chiseled, green physique. His old wounds whispered the mournful testament of combat in the collection of rough scars that marred his otherwise faultless flesh.

He was grateful though, despite his age and wear, he retained much of his youthful vitality. His long, black hair was thick with no sign of grey. Unfortunately, his face, with its fierce golden eyes and muscled jaw, had turned very hard. But that didn?t seem to put off the many women who came eagerly to his bed, most of whom said they adored him specifically for his rugged, savage beauty.

Standing naked before the mirror, he dressed slowly, taking extra care with the neatness of his attire. With meticulous attention, he attached an impressive class of service medals and the bronze collar insignia of his rank. The gold piping and buttons of his double-breasted tunic were a striking contrast to the black expanse of his uniform, and he ran his hands down the fabric to smooth away any creases.

What a career he?d had in his time, he marveled. Last night had been his landmark eight hundredth birthday, a quiet, drunken event that was the official mark of middle age. For an AEssiryan man, it was the pinnacle of his virility; a brand of veneration for those lucky enough to attain it. For Gavin, there really was no secret to his longevity, only the random and fortuitous tumble of genetics that left him a colossus among his breed.


***


Gavin strode into the armory and was annoyed to see many of the men meandering about, laughing and talking as if they were enjoying a long overdue day of leave.

Obviously, no one was expecting a surprise inspection this morning and it took a few moments for anyone to notice he was there.

"Command, attention!" called the captain of the guard, finally spotting him standing in the doorway.

The room exploded with noise as the men hopped to their feet. Each took his place in line, standing ramrod straight with their eyes fixed forward.

"Carry on," Gavin said.

The men resumed their duties, a few slipping past him to get in place for the wedding.

He turned to the young captain of the guard. "Where’s the watch bill, Captain Derick?"

The captain lifted a worn clipboard off the wall and handed it to him. Gavin read it for a moment, then handed it back.

"Did you put Sergeant Logan on the king?"

"Yes, Excellency," the captain said. Then, rubbing the back of his neck, he added, "I understand the king is kind of ill."

Gavin moved deeper into the room, stepping over some discarded armor. He glanced briefly into two side rooms and noted some empty cups and plates pasted with grime.

"Are you a doctor, Captain?"

"No, Excellency."

"Then you shouldn?t concern yourself with the sovereign’s health," he said, turning to leave. Pausing at the door, he added, "Have some men clean these rooms, they?re a mess."

"At once, Excellency," Derick said, picking up a discarded cuirass from the floor.


***


Continuing his rounds, Gavin stalked through the sandstone halls of the royal temple, quickening his stride. He had just a few more postings left to check before the ceremony, and midmorning was rapidly approaching.

Neatly uniformed soldiers snapped to attention as he passed.

Rounding a corner, he descended the stone steps to the small courtyard below. He moved through the flowered path and spotted two figures huddling in a small alcove murmuring lover’s words. As he approached, he recognized them as the bride-to-be, Princess Shatara, and her groom, Razorback Grand Duke Savion.

"Are you not supposed to wait for your wedding night to indulge, Lord?" Gavin said, teasing the grand duke as he passed.

Savion only smiled, shielding his naked bride from Gavin’s view.

Gavin shook his head. He despised weddings and today’s was no exception. He liked women, of course, but the ceremonies that often accompanied them were another matter. Unfortunately, he seemed to be in the minority. Every noble and monarch he had ever known felt that marriage was the ultimate bonus for months and years of plotting. They used marriages to get rid of unwanted daughters, troublesome widows and, of course, to forge political and military alliances.

He, however, found wives an unnecessary burden. The marriage noose had been tied around his neck five times in as many centuries and that had been quite enough.

As he strolled toward the great hall, his thoughts turned to the king. The captain had been right. The aged sovereign had not been well and hadn?t made a public appearance in a long time. He was surprised the king had the will to attend such a lengthy affair.

The great hall of the Royal Temple yawned before him in dazzling splendor. Ten thousand years of art and architecture were housed here and he always found it inspiring. Huge, ornate pillars carried the burden of a smoky glass ceiling that weighed over a ton. The wedding decorations complimented the hall exquisitely, filling the room with vibrant hues of red and gold.

As the twin suns rose higher, bringing with them their relentless heat, Gavin took a break, stopping by a balcony to have a smoke. Reaching into his boot, he pulled out a fresh Cusano 18, clipped the end and lit it. He dragged hard, letting the smoke billow in the air above him. Far below, he watched the royal band rehearsing. They played a tune for a few moments, broke the rhythm for some adjustments, and began again. Everything sounded off-key.

He also spotted Doctor Harlan Ambrose, a young human from Earth, watching the band play. She looked lovely, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail from her gentle features. She wore snug-fitting jeans, a blue blouse, and a long white lab coat.

He estimated she had been here for about half of her four year contract. Those who had visited her said she was good, albeit too serious for such a young woman.

They were lucky to have her, most AEssyrian men avoided medicine, regarding it as a soft profession. Gavin himself had not been to see her yet, making it a habit to avoid doctors. Unless he was bleeding on a battlefield, he felt doctors were best left to tend to children, women and the elderly.

She was attractive though, despite her frail humanness. Chewing the cigar to the other side of his mouth, he lazily rolled sexual images of her around in his mind. Seizing the pictures, he pushed further, imagining her lusty whine in his ear and the sweet taste of her body on his tongue. Splendid, he thought, feeling his hunger purr and rub inside him.

As he watched, he sensed an innocence in her. Not a literal, virginal one, but rather, a pure lushness of her sexuality that tortured him with longing. Burning lust heated and quickened his Human-AEssyrian blood and he struggled to remember the last time he?d slept with a human woman. Too long, he thought. Much too long. He?d need to ask her out one night soon, if only to sample the pleasing seduction of her exotic sex.

Intent on completing his tour, he crushed out his smoke, tore off the end, and slipped it back into his boot.

He turned the corner of his last checkpoint and passed the restroom entrance, his mind touching on a hundred different things.

Looking up, he started.

There before him lay the body of the king. Cautiously, he approached the fallen monarch and knelt in the pool of blood surrounding the body. The blood saturated his trouser leg as he reached out to check the wrist for a pulse. The king’s eyes were open and vacant, small pools of blood had collected around the tear ducts. Gavin’s heart sank; they were certainly the eyes of a dead man.

He probed under the king’s clothes looking for a wound. His glove came away from the body crimson and sticky. Such a copious amount of blood must surely warrant some form of visible trauma.

Gavin pulled the high collar down and inspected the neck. Seeing nothing, he continued his examination. He unbuttoned the double-breasted jacket, rolling the king toward him, and searched the back for any elusive wounds. He found nothing. Damn, he thought. Then he noticed the smell. Acidic with a burnt citrus undertone. The scent was familiar but he couldn?t place it.

Rising, he wiped his glove on his tunic. As he struggled to arrange his thoughts, he heard running and screaming wash over the halls. The noise was high and shrill, so fitting the woman making it. He took a few steps back to allow her to approach the body.

As the scene unfolded before him, Gavin searched the hallway for the sergeant he had posted on the king.

The queen fell to her knees, clutching her husband to her breast, drenching the front of her cleft gown in blood. Tears streaked her face, smearing her makeup. Gavin impatiently watched her play her scene. What a performance. She reminded him of a novice stage actress. He knew she was only capable of one true emotion: voracity.

The kings? young royals rushed in next, followed by the grand duke. They slowed to a walk as they approached the corpse.

The princess looked rumpled and breathy. Her veil was missing and her long black locks hung loosely down her back. He noticed the healthy glow of her viridian skin, so beautiful next to the whiteness of her dress.

The soldiers moved in and awaited Gavin’s orders. Scanning them, he spotted the man he had assigned to the king before leaving to make his rounds. Gavin pushed through the crowd and tore the man from its ranks.

"Where were you?" he snarled at the sergeant.

"Prince Hector ordered me to-" he said, flustered.

"Where were you?" the prince interrupted, shouting at Gavin.

Gavin turned to face him. "I was making my rounds, my Prince."

"You should have known better than to leave such an inexperienced soldier guarding the king!"

"He’s a veteran sergeant, Highness. He’s guarded the king in the past."

Everyone moved back, allowing the infirmary staff to remove the body.

"Take care there!" Prince Hector yelled, stabbing his finger in the direction of his father as they lifted the monarch onto a stretcher. Specks of foam were coating the corners of his mouth.

Racing over, he placed the back of his hand on his father’s bloody face in a gesture of farewell. His mother handed him her handkerchief and he wiped his hand clean.

Turning again to Gavin, he said, "You should have been guarding him yourself!"

"Who would then oversee security, my liege?"

"Who cares? Nothing is more important then your king. And I?ll thank you to drop the sarcasm."

"By all means," Gavin said, making no effort to diffuse the prince’s anger. "I promise you, we?ll find out what happened and give you a complete report."

"You?ll find out?" the queen said. "I think we all know what happened here."

Gavin entertained the though of slapping her. He had so hoped she would stay out of this.

The prince looked at his mother, confused for a moment. Gavin watched his mouth open and close like a landed fish, and then a small light shone in his insipid eyes.

"Well, Lady, why don?t you enlighten everyone to what happened here?" Gavin said, trying to be agreeable.

"It’s obvious, isn?t it?" she said, turning to address everyone present. "He’s trying to stage a coup."

Gavin fought to keep his temper in check and addressed her in a measured tone. "I hardly feel this is an appropriate time to indulge us in your quick-witted sense of humor."

"Please don?t play the neophyte with me, General. Everyone here knows of your less than stellar past. You have the worst reputation of any officer in the service, son of a human whore and an insane magician, the ruin of any woman foolish enough to show you attention. This could easily be your handiwork."

Gavin seized her arm and pulled her close, talking to her through clenched teeth. "Keep your tongue, woman," he said.

"Unhand my mother, you savage. How dare you speak to your queen that way!"

The prince’s body was shaking as he sputtered to get the words out. "You will be detained and tried for the murder of your king. I prey the Gods take pity on you for your miserable life. I hereby relieve you of command and order you to submit to arrest!"