Gates of Rapture

GATES OF RAPTURE (12-24-12) is the sixth novel in my Guardians of Ascension series, featuring winged vampire warriors and the powerful women who love them.  These are super sexy stories set in a dimensional world of ascending earths, in which the warriors must constantly battle a host of evil death vampires in order to keep honest, hard-working citizens safe.  Excerpt from chapter one follows below…  (Note:  though St. Martin’s Press will not be publishing any future novels or novellas based on the Guardians of Ascension, I hope to publish the sequels beginning in the Spring of 2013…)

A BATTLE FOR THE AGES

As a vampire and a warrior, Leto Distra is deadly.  But after years of being forced to drink dying blood, he is now part beast — a wild savage thing lurking beneath the surface.  With war on the horizon, Leto is determined to help the Guardians of Ascension destroy the enemy who turned him into a monster.  And there’s only one woman who can help him…

A LOVE FOR ALL TIME

Grace Albion is certain that she’s meant to be with Leto, but their future may be cut short by the impending battle.  Now Grace must embrace her obsidian flame powers – and bind her power with Leto – if they’re ever going to survive.  With the fate of the world at stake, they must tap into powers they never knew they had…and unlock their deepest passions…

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE:

My beloved held me in his arms

He whispered tender words

He spun golden thoughts through my mind

He moved quickly, his weight a beautiful anchor

I approached the gates of rapture trembling

The world exploded in a flash of brilliant light

And I was changed forever

Grace of Albion, the Convent Years

Collected Poems – Beatrice of Fourth

Chapter One

Leto Distra, out of the eastern European tribes over three thousand years ago, was no longer just vampire, but something more, something he despised.

He was now part beast, a form that he couldn’t control and which made a mockery of his life, his philosophies, and his civilized mind.  At least he had a warning when the beast was about to emerge, a vibration that travelled down his left leg.

Sonofabitch, there it was.  Very faint, which meant he had time, but not a lot before he had to remove himself from everyone he knew.

He was dangerous in his beast-state, uncontrolled.

As he walked near the warrior contest grounds in the Seattle One hidden colony, he held a child in his arms.  The toddler had his arm hooked around Leto’s neck, a great comfort.  He kept his right hand free for his sword.  He’d been a warrior too many centuries not to sustain the basics and for days now he’d been on edge.  Something was in the wind, as though a decision had been made about the future of Second Earth and the war with Darian Greaves.

He glanced up at the blue sky.  Early September in the Cascade Mountains was a beautiful time of year and perfect for the games.

A cluster of children, mostly under the age of seven, dogged his heels as he took one last tour of the warrior games contest ground.  For some reason, kids liked him and the truth was he enjoyed their attention.  They eased him.  Not much did these days, not with Grace gone from his life these past five months.  He missed her and he needed her.  He was a beast clawing to break out of his cage.

Adjacent to the event grounds was a fair-like atmosphere that resembled something from medieval days, lots of colorful tents bearing hand-crafted objects ready for sale. Other booths would soon become aromatic with food grown, slaughtered, steamed, and barbequed by the locals.

His stomach growled at the thought.

Hundreds of feet overhead, an innovative mist created a protective veil over the land that only the most powerful could see and which always confused the human mind.  Anyone drawing near the dome of mist would experience disorientation and would turn to head in the opposite direction.  In this manner, all the hidden colonies of Mortal Earth had escaped detection for three millennia, from the time the first colony was created.

The leader of the Seattle colony, Diallo, had spent centuries perfecting his mossy-mist creation.  He also checked the viability of the veil several times a day especially since, only a few months ago, the colony had been breached by the enemy for the first time in its long history.

That breach, unfortunately, meant that a second attack wasn’t so much a probability as an eventuality.  One day, Greaves and his merry band of death vampires would find a way in and then what?

He glanced at Brynna.  She walked beside him, on his left, and just a little ahead of him.

How we doin’? he sent.  It was easy to contact her telepathically because over the past few months, they’d become good friends.

Brynna was also in constant telepathic contact with the colony’s Militia Warrior section leaders who were right now patrolling the external edges of the mist-dome, a thirty mile perimeter.

She glanced at him, gave a single nod, then continued the telepathic communication.  Three of the squads are inbound with more discovery.

Shit.

Exactly.  This ain’t good. 

He looked up, his gaze shifting across an intense blue sky above, searching for a sign of death vampires.  The Seattle colony was hidden deep in the Cascade Range well to the east of the large city.  All the hidden colonies were named for the largest cities or towns nearest them.

Greaves and his minions are getting closer, Leto sent.

Yep.  There’s no debating the situation anymore.  Gideon said his team picked up five more little black boxes. The techs are working on them as we speak, but everyone agrees that they’re probably transmitters of some kind.

The first black box had been discovered the day before.  It’s just a matter of time, then.  God help us.  And if Greaves can subdue the colonies world-wide, he’ll take all the refugee Seers and put them to work in his Second Earth facilities in South Africa, Columbia, and India.  He’ll finally have the advantage he’s been working toward for the past fifteen years. 

Hey.  A little perspective here, Leto.  You’ve brought the Militia Warriors up to speed in every hidden colony around the globe and we even have reinforcements from Second.  Jean-Pierre’s been bringing MW powers online that wouldn’t have happened for another millennium.  We’re stronger than you think  We can protect our Seers from anything he throws at us.

I’ve just been uneasy for the past few days.  Can’t explain it, like I can feel forces moving into position.

You  are so damn negative. 

Tell me I’m wrong.

I’ll do one better.  I’ll tell you what your real problem is:  you need to get laid.

Okay, Brynna had a point.  He chuckled.

That’s better, asshole.  Just remember, you built a strong force here on Mortal Earth and tied it to Thorne’s army on Second.  We’re not helpless anymore.  Trust in that, beast-man.

Beast-man.

He laughed.  Brynna always made him laugh.

She smiled as she swept her gaze forward in the direction of the event grounds.  Do you see this obstacle set?  I’m going to win it tonight.

He shifted the child in his arms getting a little more comfortable as he moved steadily forward.  A stack of logs fifteen feet long, bark still on and braced by huge steel girders, climbed a steep angle sixty feet in the air.  Creating the obstacle-set had been a feat all in itself but the Thunder God Warriors, the nickname for all Militia Warriors in any country, had outdone themselves.

The teamwork required to pull the games together had been an army-growing exercise.  And if Leto knew one thing, it was how to build an army.

He stopped and stared up at the precise stack of logs.  To win this set, a warrior would have to possess thighs of granite and speed, extraordinary speed, preternatural speed.

You haven’t got a chance in hell, he sent.  He loved poking the bear.

She turned and glared at him.  Like hell I don’t.

He merely smiled.

She rolled her eyes.  If all those brats weren’t hanging on you, like you were Christ or something, I’d flip you off.

Brynna learning restraint? He sent.  Impossible.

She sighed.  I’m trying.

Brynna had been one of the biggest surprises of his life, and a good one at that.  She was tall, six-two, and had a couple of tattoos and piercings, straight black hair just past her shoulders, and steel-gray eyes.  She was a refugee Seer, having escaped from a Seers Fortress a few centuries ago.  Through the future streams, Diallo had found her and brought her to the colony to escape Second Earth Seer oppression.

She liked men and more recently she’d discovered she liked making war.  She was now a Militia Warrior.

She’d suggested more than once that they take their friendship to a much more productive level, but he’d refused.  Sex with Brynna would have been wrong.  She was his friend.  No, she was more than that.  She was his best friend.  As much as he wanted to take a woman into his bed, he valued all that she was in his life way too much to dilute it with sex.

But there was another reason he’d refused.

His breh had shown up in the form of Warrior Thorne’s sister: Grace Albion.  Her surname was an ancient designation the family had all but dropped.  Grace and Thorne’s family originally came from the British Isles.  Everyone knew her simply as Grace.  But, oh, God, even thinking about her brought a flush rising to his skin.

He took a few deep breaths.  Thoughts of Grace tended to bring on his beast more quickly.  Sure enough, the vibration strengthened, so shit.

But Grace was gone.  She’d been gone all these months, having left with the Fourth ascender, Casimir, to who-the-hell knew where.  Because no one could find her in the future streams, not even Marguerite, Thorne’s powerful Seer breh, it was presumed Grace was off-dimension.  He wouldn’t be surprised if Casimir had taken her to his home world, Fourth Earth.  Casimir wasn’t a warrior, just some very powerful but worthless hedonist who had also caught Grace’s breh-scent and somehow enticed her to go with him.

But all of it was a nightmare starting with the bizarre fact that Grace had caught the scent of not one, but two brehs:  himself and Casimir. The breh-hedden alone was such a new concept on Second Earth that no one could explain, therefore, why Grace had actually ended up with two.

But Grace had taken the situation in stride, one of her many fine qualities, even if the situation had ruined something in Leto’s heart.  She seemed to have a strong intuition about the situation, that her bizarre connection to Casimir was necessary, even to Leto’s survival as well as her own.  So, instead of completing the bonding ritual of the breh-hedden with Leto, she’d taken off with Casimir, convinced she had to for all their sakes.

He was still pissed off as hell about Grace leaving, but he couldn’t exactly complain since she was better off with anyone other than his own sweet self.  He had issues, maybe a hundred of them.  But having served as a spy would do that to a man, split his soul deep, make him question everything.  He was still recovering from that mission. Though well out of it, a century of living apart from his warrior brothers and of joining forces with a hated enemy had done a number on his mind.

That he was still alive seemed like some kind of cosmic joke.  He deserved to die.  He knew it, and there were way too many nights when yeah, that was exactly what he wanted.  He’d betrayed his warrior brothers and he’d betrayed Endelle, the leader of Second Earth, by building an army of two million on behalf of that bastard, Darian Greaves.

Of course, he’d had no other choice.  To have refused would have cost him his mission and his life.  He’d agreed to become a spy on behalf of the Council of Sixth Earth because they needed a constant stream of data about Greaves, in order to know when and how legally they could act in the affairs of Second Earth.

Leto’s handler, James had assured him that despite the army Leto had built for Greaves, all the information he’d gathered would more than compensate for his work as a spy.  Leto wasn’t convinced, but he had to trust that James, and all his Sixth Earth wisdom, would be able to shape the future in a way that prevented an annihilation of the innocent.

Maybe one day he’d know whether or not the horrendous things he’d done would be justified by lives saved in the future.  He sure as hell hoped so because right now his conscience was killing him.

He glanced at Brynna once more.  She helped keep his head on straight.  He owed her a lot.  And when he went beast, which seemed to be happening more and more often, she made sure he got to the basement of his cabin so he couldn’t accidentally hurt anyone.

One of the kids walking beside him, said, “I’ll be the champion of the warrior games one day.”

Leto looked down at the boy who was maybe seven years old.  He held his shoulders back as though trying to measure up to warrior status.  His eyes had a certain glow, a familiar light.  Leto had been that age when he knew that what he wanted from life was to be the best warrior of his tribe.  He had been born in Eastern Europe several millennia ago and from the first, he longed to join the warriors on their hunts for food and in revenge assaults against their enemies.

The boy looked up at him and met his gaze.  “I’m going to be a warrior.”

Leto smiled and nodded.  “And so you will be.”

The boy smiled in return, then set his lips in a grim line and his face forward, into the future.  Yes, he’d be a warrior.

He felt another vibration, stronger this time, like a nerve going haywire down his left leg from hip to the sole of his foot.  He took a deep breath.  Tried not to panic.

A second tremor followed down his right leg.

So it had begun and now he had a little over six minutes to get some shit done before heading to his goddamn basement.  Worse, he’d gone beast, as he liked to call it, only two days ago which meant the frequency of the episodes had increased.  But ‘why’ was the question he couldn’t answer.

Nor did he understand why he went beast in the first place.

He’d been helping to train the colony’s Militia Warriors, when his first real beast episode had occurred. He’d been working out in his basement, thank the Creator, when the whole thing had begun: the tingling down his leg followed a few minutes later by a transformation that bulked up his muscles an impossible forty pounds and increased his height another two inches.  He’d been crazed during that time, unable to fold out of the basement, unable to leave because there were no doors.  He’d built the damn thing as a private space, something he could only fold in and out of, but it had become a prison.  In the end, he’d passed out.  And when he woke up, he was back to normal.

After that, he’d suffered about every two weeks with the same episode.  He had no clear idea what brought it on, but he was convinced that the beast he now endured was connected to his use of dying blood for the past century.

There had been an earlier hint that something was wrong during the time he’d tried to re-integrate back into the Warriors of the Blood five months ago.  He’d been at the Awatukee Borderland, battling death vampires, when he’d lost his mind and torn a death vampire to pieces with his bare hands, even breaking apart the ribcage to get to the heart.

Luken, now the leader of the Warriors of the Blood, had sent him here to the Seattle hidden colony to begin the long process of recovering from so many decades under Greaves’s control and from the results of his long addiction to dying blood.  For the most part, the assignment had worked.  He was more himself than he’d been in a long time despite his beast issue.

Brynna, he sent.

            She turned toward him.  I can feel it, Leto.  The change, I mean.  Basement time?

            He nodded.

Aloud, she said, “We’d better get to HQ.  Gideon will want to report in before you take off.”

“Absolutely.”  Once he went beast, he could be out for hours.

He set the toddler down.  The mothers and caregivers trailed at a distance.  He turned to them and nodded.

They hurried forward and took over.  Everyone knew of his disability and forgave him.  The fact that they valued him made it all one big acid-on-skin experience.

A few moments later, he and Brynna folded to the hidden colony’s military HQ.

* * *   * * *   * * *

To Order GATES OF RAPTURE   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   iTunes    

Caris Roane is the author of six paranormal novels for St. Martin’s Press and several indie pubbed novellas.  Writing as Valerie King, she has published fifty novels and Novellas in Regency Romance.  Caris lives in Phoenix, Arizona, really doesn’t like scorpions, and has two cats, Gizzy and Sebastien.

(Photographer/artist – please note:  If any of the above photos belong to you, I would be happy to include your credit here as well as a link to your website!  Thanks, Caris Roane)

48 thoughts on “Gates of Rapture

  1. Please tell me this is not going to be the last of the Guardian books???

    What about Luken, Santiago and Zacharius???

    I love, love, love this series and it would be a GRAVE sin to end it unfinished so to speak… I keep reading that this will be the last of the series, but I just can’t believe that Caris would do that.

    Please let me know either way???

    Thanks for everything you do… It truly means the world to me..

    Sincerely,

    Shelly O’Brien

    • Hi, Shelly! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! This will NOT be the last of the books, but it is the last that St. Martin’s Press will be doing with me. Luken’s story, and the remaining warriors, come next. I’m just not sure of the timing… Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Caris

      • I am so very happy to hear this. A friend of mine told me this was the last book and I was like, “WHAT?!?! NOOO!!!” Ithink I had a nervous break down lol. I love love love your stories and would be sad to see this as the end. Thank goodness Iits not :)
        Your #1 fan (lol)
        Ashlee ♥

        • Ashlee,
          I’m sooooo not done with this series! I’m releasing a novella, THE DARKENING, on Valentine’s Day, a LOOOOONG novella, to pick up one month after GATES OF RAPTURE…and…we’re going to Third Earth!

          Hugs,
          Caris

          • i am so glad to hear that gates of rapture is not the last book. i almost had a heart attack when i thought it was. lol. i love this series. and luken definitely deserves to have his story told. continue the great work, caris. looking forward to more of my vampire angels.

  2. Love, Love , Love the guardian series. When will this title be published. Cannot wait. Just read the first Blood rose book and am also hooked on that . Thanks and keep them coming

  3. I love this series! Do you have a release time frame for this book? I can not wait for all the other stories. I become so absorbed in the story I usually finish it in one day and the re read it again just to make sure I didnt miss anything.

  4. You are killing me! Do you know how long I have been waiting for this book? Aggggggggggg and you know me I will wait forever for Zach book lol

  5. You are killing me! Do you know how long I have waited for this book? Aggggggggggg! You know me I will wait forever for Zach book lol

  6. This absolutely is the best series I have ever read and I just cant get enough of it . I am thrilled to know you are going on to the rest of the Warriors and I hope to see one about Endelle and Braulio also it would be so awsome! Thank you for being who you are and for this wonderful series.

    Michelle Poe

  7. Is Endelle and Braulio’s story unfinished in Gates of Rapture? I hoped to read their story in Gates of Rapture or atleast the one after. Please tell me me that their story will be told in detail.

    • Frankie, you will see part of their story in GATES OF RAPTURE but my hope is to continue the series and tell their story fully later on. That’s been my goal from the beginning.

      Hugs,
      Caris

  8. OH MY GOODNESS !

    I adore this series – I fell in love with all the characters and the world you created

    I really hope this is not the end of the series and I really hope their will be a book on it’s own telling the story of Endelle and Braulio because I am super excited for that one !

  9. Caris,
    Long time no see/speak/write! Lol! I’ve got Gates ordered! Anyway, has another publisher picked you up for the other books?

    • Hi, Noelle,
      I haven’t yet decided exactly what to do, but I can’t do anything until July of next year for contract reasons. However, I’m still not sure whether to go with another publisher or to self-publish. These are tricky times and it’s often hard to gauge what the best route will be. In the meantime, I’ll be releasing a series of Ascension novellas early next year, because I LOVE living in this world! Have a Happy New Year!!!

      Hugs,
      Caris

  10. Love the series Caris. I just finished reading Gates of Rapture and it was enthralling. I can’t wait to read about the bachelor warriors finding their Brehns especially Endelle’s romance. Will you be posting a notice on this website when you release the next book in the series?

  11. I have just finished reading the Gates of Rapture and like the others would love to read a story about Endelle and Braulio. Also Luken as his heart is broken by Havily. Can’t wait for further installments so I will keep watching this site for further news. This series is one of the better ones in the paranormal stories. I have also been hooked on The Grey Wolf series and the Undercover attraction series which has now taken a turn to the mythical and paranormal.

  12. Hi Caris,
    When I was in Miami earlier this year, I blindly purchased Obsidian Flame in Walmart, without ever reading any of the Ascension books previously. Upon returning to Trinidad , I quickly read the book and accessed the other books in the series. They are fantastic and so different to the other paranormal books that I have read. I love love love this series. I shared this series with friends and we are anxiously awaiting the other books in this series.

    Please keep up the great work!!!
    Cindy

  13. Hi Caris,
    I have never posted an email, not really sure why, but when I read that St Martins will no longer publish any Ascension books, all I could say was omgomgomgomg!!! I can’t stop telling people to read this series!!! It’s one of the best i’ve read in a looooong time, THE BEST!!!! When I first saw the cover for Ascension I was hooked! I’ve been in love with your books ever since. What an honest shame it would be for the rest of those men to not have their entire stories told as well. I’m happy to know there are novellas on the way but I really do hope with all my heart we get to read the rest of their stories, especially Endelle’s!!! Best of luck to you!!! Please, please, pleeeeease keep writing. Your stories bring such excitement to the pages.

    • Jaqueline,
      I ABSOLUTELY MUST WRITE ENDELLE’S BOOK! How could I not? As well as Luken, Zach, and Santiago’s! They all deserve an HEA!

      So glad you’re along for the ride!

      Hugs,
      Caris

  14. I have been TOTALLY engrossed in the Ascension series. Each warrior has his own secret issues that he has to deal with. I get so immersed in these books that I get absolutely NOTHING else done. I got on this website for the simple reason I couldn’t believe that it was all over. Zach, Santiago and especially Luken deserve to have their stories told. I do hope that when the series ends, you start on another so we don’t have to go through withdrawal.

  15. Caris
    I am so sorry to hear that they will not be publishing anymore of the ascension series. I have so loved every one of your books of this. I have looked forward to the next as soon as I put down the last one. I am looking forward to the next ones no matter how you have to publish them. Yourself or another publisher. You do have some loyal fans out there. I would be one of them. I just bought the Gates of Rapture tonight and will have it read by tomorrow night. I will not stop reading till I am done. That is how I have done with the rest of the your books. I have never read a book that I feel I know each and everyone of the characters. I keep asking my friends that I would like one of your Warriors of the Blood for my birthday and Christmas. I still haven’t gotten one. LOL!!! I will keep looking for more of your books.

    • May a warrior show up on your doorstep one magical night! THE DARKENING, featuring Militia Warrior Samuel and his soon-to-be breh releases on Valentine’s Day as a self-pub VERY LONG novella! I hope you love it!
      Hugs,
      Caris

  16. Can’t wait for the next book. I’m just glad you are still going to tell the stories of the warriors and their women. I’m so hook on them. Please don’t keep us waiting for the next book. Again thanks. You have become my favorite writer and 2nd is Anne Rice. U r the top. Nancy

  17. Hi Caris,

    I’m sooo glad that you’ve stuck up for your Ascension books and decided to keep on writing them! I’m in the middle of reading GoR and what I have read so far has been AMAZING!!! Though I’m super excited to read Luken’s story…For some reason he’s the one i’m super excited about lol….I know you’ve been asked this a lot, but would you have an idea exactly when Luken’s story will come out?? I know its not fair to ask but I’m really really curious to know! Thanks again for your wonderful stories :D

    • Molly,
      I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been enjoying the series. I have LOVED writing it, more than I will ever be able to express. These books come straight from the heart! I wish I could give you a date for Luken’s book. So many things, out of my control, hang on this, but I’ve already sketched out a large part of his story but I know there’s more to come. IN THE MEANTIME, and for contract reasons, I’ll be publishing LONG novellas this spring based on the Ascension series, beginning on Valentine’s Day with THE DARKENING, which takes place 1 month after GATES OF RAPTURE. And BTW, we start our adventure with Third Earth! Can’t wait for you to read all that happens next!

      Hugs,
      Caris

  18. Hi Caris! I am so sad to hear about your publishing problems. I have written to you before because I worked in a Waldenbooks before they closed. I got to see a lot of reviews before publication. So when the first book came out, it was on my list. I got a lot of my readers hooked also. I love my print books and never turn loose of a good one. I will get things on ebook if I have to but please don’t give up on getting things in print. Keep writing, we are all behind you! Take care.

  19. Ms. Caris….I found your books by accident while browsing in my local library. It happened to be the first in the series, and I immediately went back looking for the rest. My little library had all of them but Gates of Rapture. Can’t wait to get my hands on it. I will be haunting the book stores to find your novellas beginning in February. You have taken a very “far-out” concept, and made it very real and alive for us. It takes an extraordinary author to do that, and it is so appreciated. The characters are sooooo alive and we feel as if we are intimately acquainted with them. Of course, every woman wishes for a warrior of her very own. LOL!!!

    I wish you continued success, and thank you for the great pleasure of reading tour books.

    Nanci.

  20. PS….What’s the matter with St. Martins Press? Don’t they realize that you have legions of fans, and that they are privileged to publish your work? You are a money machine for them, and it doesn’t make sense.

  21. Caris…

    I discovered your books when I was searching my local library and I have to say I am hooked…It takes alot for me to become enthralled by series but that is exactly what I am..It has been a long time when I cannot wait to get back to my book to see what happens next. Thank you for making reading exciting again!
    P.S. I would take any of the warriors for a birthday gift ……just saying…
    anita

  22. I had just finished reading Lords of The Underworld and was wondering what i was doing to do now that it was over. Then I happen to be on amazon discussion looking for good paranormal romance novels similar to the LORD’s and your name came up. You have captivated me and I love them. Your story building and the world you have created is great..I cannot wait to get the next one and sitting on the edge of my seat for Endelle’s story. Please continue .

  23. I can’t wait until the next book comes out :D I hope its not too much further away though. I just bought Born in Chains to read while we wait.

  24. Hi there. I’m a huge fan of this series. Is there any new news or upcoming books for the ascension series? Thanks for the wonderful books!

    • I’m hoping like crazy to be able to reenter the World of Ascension this coming fall! Think good thoughts for me! I’ve had a huge project to get through first – MEN IN CHAINS – then I’m hoping I’ll be able to tell Luken’s story next, along with Duncan and Rachel’s!

      Hugs,
      Caris

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