"She may sacrifice more than her life for him ... it might be her heart."
Reviewed by Annetta Sweetko
Posted April 8, 2015
Romance | Fantasy
Ivy Black is a slave who is offered as a sacrifice to the
terrifying race known as the Ajax. She is found by a cast
out of his tribe, Dredd, a lonely warrior, who longs for
redemption. Unbelievable he has found the answer to his
prayers: his fated mate. If only she would understand
Ivy is drawn to this warrior, but she is not about to be
the one his DARKNESS EMBRACED. She wants to be free.
When she escapes with cunning a maddened Dredd begins a
journey to find her. He travels the realm fighting in
arenas and in each village searches for Ivy. She found a
new life but can't forget that strong warrior. Then one
the tournament fighters come to her village and the elite
gladiators called the Beasts are among them. Dredd is one
DARKNESS EMBRACED is in a word fascinating. The characters
are all varied and alive with personalities that you would
find in any modern world. The emotions of the storyline
flowed well and the reader will be unable to look away.
was a slave girl for a noble people when she had been
chosen to be sacrificed to the Ajax. The Ajax are fanged
giants that Ivy's owners (they were called ShadowBorn)
fear. It turned out to be lucky that Ivy was chosen and
Dredd found her, or things would have been bad for the
lovely maiden. Ivy is a strong woman, tough yet tender, a
bit naĂŻve but also worldly and wise. I guess she is a
captivating combination of girl and woman. She felt bad
about how she left Dredd but she wanted to be free. Dredd
has no choice but to search the world and find her, she is
after all his mate. When he does find her she still has to
choose what she wants to do ... go with her heart or be
Those who seek a happily ever after storyline will be
pleased with her choice but the twists and turns author
Trish Arcangelo puts her lovers through might have you
worried. DARKNESS EMBRACED is Ms. Arcangelo's first novel
certainly hope she has more up her sleeve.
Sold into slavery as a child, Ivy Black has known little
pain in her life. Offered as a sacrifice to the
race known as the Ajax, sheâ€™s found by the fiercest one
them all. Betrayed and cast out by his tribe, Dredd is a
lonely warrior longing for redemption. Now heâ€™s found the
answer to his prayers: his fated mate. If only she
Though Ivy is drawn to the feral warrior, she resists
the need for freedom stronger than her desire. When she
escapes, a maddened Dredd begins a brutal journey to find
her. He becomes one of an elite group of gladiators
Beasts. Dredd travels the realm, fighting in the arenas
searching for Ivy. Sheâ€™s found a new life but canâ€™t
the strong warrior and his sensual touch.
Then one day Dredd arrives in her village for a
Excerptâ€śMy Lord, I think it comes!â€ť
The whispered words, laced with fear, came from one of the half-
dozen ShadowBorn soldiers flanking the tree Ivy Black was tied to,
bound by thick heavy rope.
A soldier who is scared senseless, Ivy thought with contempt. These
men couldnâ€™t handle the world beyond their precious walls. And what
was about to happen to her tonight only provided further proof of
her point. The Maiden Sacrifice was the pathetic ShadowBorn answer
to handling conflict.
â€śSilence, Alec!â€ť Lord Bader, First Noble of the ShadowBorn,
responded to the soldierâ€™s whispered outburst from his position in
front of Ivy.
She studied him, his alabaster skin stretched taut over a tall and
lanky frame, soft hands and stick-like arms proclaiming a life of a
spoiled man who had never done an honest dayâ€™s work.
So many slaves, including her late father, toiled on the excavation
crews below ground, risking life and limb so the ShadowBorn nobles
could build lavish underground palaces where they would be safe from
the perceived dangers above. Meanwhile this so-called Lord had never
had so much as a speck of dirt beneath his manicured fingernails.
â€śWe always wait until sunset before we leave the Sacrifice alone at
the altar,â€ť Bader addressed the soldiers, his tone implying that he
spoke to small children, â€śso I wonâ€™t hear another word from any of
you or you will be tied to the tree next to our fair maiden here.â€ť
The fidgeting amongst the soldiers came to an abrupt halt.
â€śHand, you may see to the Maiden for a final time,â€ť Bader directed
the order to Seraphine, the freckled servant chosen to prepare Ivy
for the sacrifice.
The girl had come to Ivyâ€™s small shared underground chamber a few
hours earlier, to bathe and dress her. They were sending Ivy to
almost certain death, not a ball, but the ShadowBorn loved nothing
more than pomp and circumstance.
So here Ivy stood, in a white off-the-shoulder gown more beautiful
than she could ever have imagined, a wreath of white roses upon her
head. Her blonde hair was brushed and styled until it lay in a
cascade of curls and waves down her back. The dress was of the
softest material, and felt luxurious against her skin compared to
the scratchy dresses a kitchen slave like herself was forced to
wear. She let herself enjoy the caress of it for a brief moment,
until the rough tree bark against her back brought her back to
Seraphine approached meekly and fussed, smoothing hair and pinching
color into Ivyâ€™s cheeks. She then tightened the strings on the
corset-like bodice of the dress, and plumped the flowing skirt.
Dressing up a corpse.
Ivy couldnâ€™t stop the words from running through her mind. She tried
to keep a brave face throughout her ordeal, refusing to let the
ShadowBorn see her fear, but she was beginning to sweat despite the
chilly fall air. And her trembling was getting harder and harder to
hide because tonight she would be sacrificed to the Ajax.
The Ajax were a thing of ShadowBorn legend, waiting around every
dark corner and under the bed of every child. The stories told
around the fires at night were those of ravenous beasts who raped
and killed without mercy, preying upon any unfortunate creature
stupid enough to find themselves alone at night in the Dark Woods.
The ShadowBorn were so fearful of the Ajax, that whenever the Sage
Council foresaw impending doom during the ritual reading-of-the-
leaves, they sacrificed a virgin slave to them, claiming to buy
peace with the bodies of innocents. Ivy had been so young, and new
to the Stronghold, the last time a Maiden Sacrifice occurred. She
had nightmares for weeks after finding out what it entailed. This
time, it was her name pulled from the basket during the harvest
feast, the basket which held the names of all the female slaves
between sixteen and twenty-two.
The one positive of this entire heinous tradition was that the
female ShadowBorn slaves were to be kept maidens until they reached
twenty-three. Under the â€śUntouchable Rule,â€ť any male who even so
much as groped such a slave was sentenced to immediate death. This
provided a brief reprieve from the unwanted advances of the Nobles,
or really any freemen, who treated the older female slaves like
sexual chattel. The Ajax might be barbarians, but they werenâ€™t the
â€śYou are so beautiful, Ivy,â€ť Seraphine croaked, continuing to fluff
and tweak her dress.
Ivy was determined to keep her voice steady and calm. â€śThank you,
Sera. You were a wonderful Maidenâ€™s Hand. Take care of yourself.â€ť
â€śI will,â€ť the girl choked. â€śMay the Gods be with you.â€ť
Ivy simply nodded, unable to speak. The Gods had nothing to do with
â€śThe sun is in its descent,â€ť Bader announced as Seraphine quickly
scrambled back to her place for the ceremony.
Ivy watched as Bader walked toward her, stopping but a few steps in
front of her. She raised her eyes to the sky and began gazing at the
stars. She took a deep breath in, enjoying the smells of the forest
around her, all of it exhilarating. Maybe this was all worth it,
just to get a glimpse of the world outside those hated Stronghold
walls again and feel the crisp breeze. The sky went on forever, so
much more than she glimpsed from her occasional limited views in the
All Ivy ever wanted was to be free. She did not expect a life of
leisure; in fact she found satisfaction in hard work. She simply
wanted the work to be on her own terms. Ivy despised working sixteen
hour, back breaking days in the underground kitchens, the stifling
heat and dim lighting making her feel suffocated. The idea of having
a little cottage of her own, maybe in one of the villages along the
River Byrne, with a small garden and a big window, sounded like
heaven to Ivy. She would have a simple life, marry a man of her own
choosing, and raise a familyâ€¦
â€śWe, the ShadowBorn of Dominion,â€ť Bader began with dramatic flair,
cutting off Ivyâ€™s thoughts. Immediately angered, she spat in his
â€śYou little bitch!â€ť Bader raised his arm to strike her, but stopped
short. After all, it wouldnâ€™t do for the Maiden to look anything
less than perfect; The Ajax might find the sacrifice unworthy.
Ivy sneered at him. â€śYou are no man. The thing between your legs
shrivels at the thought of the Ajax. I gladly hand my fate over to
them, ravening beasts that they are, rather than spend one more day
in that Godsforsaken cave with the ShadowBorn. Surely even the Ajax
have more honor.â€ť
Bader glared at her for several moments, the awkward silence
stretching until a few of the soldiers coughed in discomfort. â€śYou
have never seen the corpse of an Ajax victim.â€ť
Ivy met his gaze but refused to respond to his words.
â€śBelieve me when I say that before this night is over you will be
begging for the safety of the Stronghold walls. And you shall not
There was no sound as Baderâ€™s ominous words rang through the woods,
as if even the animals needed a moment to soak in the horror. Ivy
swallowed the lump in her throat.
Then Bader raised his arms and began again.
â€śWe the ShadowBorn of Dominion, giveth of this fair Maiden, in
tribute and sacrifice to the creatures known as Ajax, both in the
Dark Woods and beyond. We ask that in return for this vessel, of
virgin flesh and blood, that you grant us peace. We will not
encroach upon your grounds, and ask that you not encroach upon ours.
May this Maiden be bestowed unto you as the highest of offerings.
Ivy thought for a moment that she would vomit, his words disgusted
her so. She could only hope the Ajax were a figment of the
ShadowBorn fear-induced imagination, and she could slowly work free
of her bonds. Worst case scenario, she would be murdered by
unimaginable creatures. Either way, she was no longer a ShadowBorn
slave, and that brought a shred of comfort.
She gulped in the fresh air, fragrant and soothing, and did not
spare the ShadowBorn another glance. Not when they extinguished the
torch beside her, not even when she heard the party turn and scurry
away, back toward the security of the Stronghold, leaving her
entirely alone and at the mercy of the things that go bump in the
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