Title: Blood Bathory: Be Not Proud (The Guardians of Gaia #3)
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: August 6th 2018
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 360 pages
Cover Design: Lou Harper
Reviewed By: Jia
Death, be not proud…
The conclusion of the war between Elizabeth Bathory and the Guardians of Gaia draws closer, but the theriomorphs and their allies are caught between vampires loyal to Elizabeth Bathory’s daughter, Anna, and humans controlled by Elizabeth and her sire, Thrace. With the forces of evil now pressing on them from two sides, the theriomorphs need help, and they need it fast!
And soonest our best men with thee do go…
It has been five hundred years since Antonio de Barajas, one of the oldest surviving theriomorphs, lost his mate at the hands of his worst enemy. But Gaia never revealed the whole truth about Raphael’s fate, and Antonio is shocked when Raphael arrives to train Evan St. John and Adam Carson as true Dark Guardians. Yet the man who returns after so long is not the same man Antonio once loved. The hard and lonely life as Gaia’s hunter has changed Raphael almost as much as his lost memories of Antonio and the love they once shared.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men…
Antonio must work with the stranger who wears his lover’s face, and while Raphael is welcomed by most of the team, one member sees his return as a threat to his own place in Antonio’s life. But Thrace has allied himself with terrorists who possess a weapon of mass destruction. Now the theriomorphs and Dark Guardians must work together in a race against time to discover Thrace’s plan. Even as Antonio and Raphael are irresistibly drawn to one another, Antonio risks losing far more than his heart this time. If he and his team fail in their mission, millions will die, for Thrace will stop at nothing to destroy Gaia once and for all.
Guardians of Gaia
Hello, everyone! I’m the McKay half of Ari McKay, and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to share some behind the scenes details about our new release, Blood Bathory: Be Not Proud.
Be Not Proud is the third and final book in the Blood Bathory trilogy. It’s a second edition, but the original edition wasn’t available long, so we hope our readers who missed it the first time will be pleased that it’s available again!
I’d like to share an exclusive excerpt from the book. Enjoy!
Antonio was standing in the hallway, a large wooden chest at his feet. He looked more businesslike today in trousers, a dress shirt open at the throat, and a sports coat, and his expression was pensive.
“I hope I am not intruding,” he said. “I have some things I thought you might like to have.”
Raphael opened the door wider and made a sweeping gesture with one arm. “Nay, ’tis no intrusion. Enter, you are most welcome here.”
“Thank you.” Antonio picked up the chest and carried it over to the table in front of the large leather sofa. “I have been accused of being a pack rat before. Perhaps it is true, or perhaps my age makes me realize how quickly memories fade without reminders.” He opened the chest, which was battered and worn with age. “I have your things from Queen Mary’s court, except your clothing, which did not survive the ravages of time.”
“Queen Mary?” Raphael shook his head in bemusement as he moved toward the sofa. “I have scant memories of a princess. A slip of a girl clinging to her mother’s hand.”
“She became queen following the death of her brother. I do not know if you’ve read much to fill in the gaps in your memory, but she married Philip of Spain. I came to England as part of King Philip’s retinue.” Antonio’s voice grew softer and deeper. “That is when we met.”
“Is’t so?” Raphael ran his fingertips along the smooth lid of the antique trunk, marveling at having a piece of his past returned to him. “This trunk is familiar to me. ’Twas the only luggage I took to court. I had little then. I required more trunks later,” he added wryly, remembering how his wardrobe had grown the longer he stayed at court.
“Which is why I kept it.” Antonio reached into the chest and pulled out a pair of sheathed knives. “I recovered your daggers. When our bond was severed, I left court, desperate to find your body. I found these where you must have fallen, along with a great deal of blood. I assumed Thrace took your body so I might never have the consolation of laying you to rest.”
Raphael’s breath caught in his throat when he saw the matched set of knives. They had been custom-made for him when he became a Dark Guardian, and even now, he remembered how they felt in his palms, so perfect that they became extensions of his hands.
“My old friends,” he murmured, reaching out to take one from Antonio’s hand. He curled his fingers around the hilt, and it felt familiar and right. When he drew it from its sheath, the blade gleamed in the light as fine and sharp as ever. “I thank you for their care.”
Antonio did not speak; instead he passed over the other blade and looked down into the chest.
“I have your books and a few things you told me were of value to you.” Antonio’s voice strained when he spoke at last. “There are also letters and poems we wrote to one another. Other than that…” He removed the ring from his left hand and held it out. “This is all you had of your family. I have no right to it any longer.”
Raphael sheathed the dagger and put it aside before accepting the heavy gold ring, cradling its weight in his palm. It was the one remembrance he had of his father. That he had cared enough for Antonio to gift it to him said much about the depths of his feelings. He might not remember them, but the evidence of them was here in his hand.
Oddly enough, he felt hesitant about taking back the ring. After his father’s death, the ring had served as a reminder of his father’s affection. After Raphael’s “death”, the ring had served as a reminder of love again, and he didn’t feel right about taking that away from Antonio.
“Nay, I did give it to you. I’ll not ask for it back,” he said at last, offering the ring to Antonio. “The man I was did love you. Of that, I have no doubt. Keep this in remembrance of him.”
There was no mistaking the anguish in Antonio’s eyes, and he stood still for several long moments. Then he accepted the ring and slid it back on his finger. “Thank you,” he said, looking at the ring rather than meeting Raphael’s eyes. “It has been my greatest treasure for centuries. Until now, it has never left my hand.”
Raphael studied Antonio, amazed and even humbled to realize he had been loved so deeply. He didn’t remember their bond, so he didn’t remember the loss of it—and that, he realized, was a loss in and of itself. They had both been cheated by Thrace, but Antonio bore the brunt of it, burdened by the weight of memory.
“An you wish to continue wearing it, it need never leave your hand again,” Raphael said quietly. “You have lost enough. I would not take that too.”
Antonio looked up finally, meeting Raphael’s gaze with green eyes that were dark with pain. “Again, thank you. I do not know which of us has lost more. Thrace may have taken the man I loved from me, but at least I have the memory of what it was to be loved beyond measure. As much as I ache for the loss of that bond, I would not trade the memories of it for all the treasure in the world.”
Raphael wondered what loving Antonio had been like. How had it happened? Were they happy? Did they ever quarrel? Given his strong response to their kiss, Raphael suspected chemistry had played a strong part in it, and Antonio was one of the handsomest men he’d ever seen, which likely had something to do with it as well. But had they begun as friends or lovers? He refrained from asking, not wanting to give Antonio more pain by dredging up the past.
“I did not mourn what I did not know I had lost, but now do I understand how much Thrace stole from us both,” he said at last.
“It is one more debt upon his account,” Antonio replied. “But I beg you not to concern yourself with me. You were sent here for an important reason that goes beyond any personal feelings. I’m certain Gaia would have me look forward, not back. Do not feel as though you must tiptoe around me to spare my feelings. I have dealt with my pain for five centuries, and I will continue to deal with it.”
Raphael nodded, gaining respect for Antonio’s strength and leadership. A good leader understood when to put aside personal considerations in order to focus on the bigger, more important picture, and it seemed Antonio was such a leader.
“Now, if you will excuse me, Marielle will be arriving shortly,” Antonio continued. “I simply wanted to give you what is yours by rights, since it may serve you better to find your past than for me to cling to the fragments of mine.”
“I thank you,” Raphael replied, letting the conversation end. “An it please you, tell Marielle I await our meeting with pleasure.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.
Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.
McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.
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