With so many authors writing paranormal romances these
days, sometimes I feel like I've read one, so I've read
them all. Then I start a series that takes my breath away,
and I know that sometimes you have to read a lot of them
to find the gems. And Erin Quinn's Haunting series are
diamonds in the rough. With a talent for weaving a complex
plot and a beautifully lyrical prose to accompany her
story, Quinn's books stand head and shoulders above the
pack. HAUNTIN WARRIOR is the second in the series,
following Haunting Beauty (also reviewed here). The
is quite complicated so I'm going to just give a very high
level synopsis and leave readers to discover out the goods
At age 12, Rory, Dani's brother, almost disappeared along
with his father when the two fought over the Book of
Fennore in a cavern under a castle on an island near
mainland Ireland. Dani used her powder to bring him back,
but part of him got left behind. An unhappy troublemaker,
his mother sent him to California to live with his aunt
where he stayed until the ghost of his grandmother visited
him, telling him it was time to go home. At her funeral in
Ireland, a woman who had enticed him in his dreams calls
him to the cavern and back to the past where he reconnects
with his his missing self.
Okay, so that's only in the first 25 pages. The Book of
Fennore, an evil tome, plays an important role as does
time. Quinn works with time travel in a believable and
manageable way and never loses track of any thread of her
tale. Rory, and his dream woman, Saraid, who he meets in
the flesh when he arrives back in time, are 3-dimensional
characters with realistic flaws, feelings and emotions.
Rory's grandmother visited Saraid as well, letting her
know Rory would save her people which gives her enough
encouragement to start to trust him, but the rest he has
to do on his own if he can.
I'm a fan of the complex plot where I haven't a clue what
will happen, and Quinn delivers in spades. A story that
combines magic, evil, love and trust that takes place in
the present and the past and succeeds on all levels. While
HAUNTING WARRIOR can be read on its own, I recommend
reading Haunting Beauty first for background.
Desire, the third book in the series, is due out in early
Rory McGrath's life changed the night his father
mysteriously vanished after uncovering the secrets of the
ancient Book of Fennore. The trauma turned Rory from an
innocent boy into a troubled, cynical man. Leaving Ireland,
he shunned his family, his heritageâ€”and the very magic that
has defined his people for centuries.
A dream he couldnâ€™t ignore.
Then the dreams beginâ€¦dreams of an ethereal beauty whose
touch is more real that any heâ€™s known. And in these dreams,
she has a messageâ€”a calling for Rory to return home to a
destiny that will take him beyond the realm of anything he
A woman he couldnâ€™t resist.
Lured to the castle ruins where his father disappeared, Rory
is plunged back in time, and into the body of another manâ€”a
man betrothed to the very woman of Roryâ€™s dreams. In
possession of the secrets of his past, his family, and his
identity, her hold on Rory is inescapable. For she is his
doom. His salvation. And his destiny.
Haunting Warriorâ€śHurry, Ruairi. Hurry.â€ť
The whispered command tickled the inside of Rory MacGrathâ€™s
ear, feather-light and taunting. He brushed it away and
rolled over, trying to block out what he instantly knew. It
was the dream againâ€”the one that felt too real to be just a
dream. In a moment he would open his eyes and find the
woman standing beside him. He wouldnâ€™t know if she was
flesh or fantasy, wouldnâ€™t be able to distinguish imagined
from reality. Not even in the morning.
He acknowledged this, tried to convince himself that he
didnâ€™t believe her to be more than a projection of his own
mind. A fantasy heâ€™d conjured and spewed into this
semi-somnolence. He felt his heartbeat begin to race; his
breath slowing and deepeningâ€”combatant symptoms to the
He thought he opened his eyes, but couldnâ€™t be sure anymore.
Either way, he saw her waiting impatiently beside the couch
where heâ€™d fallen asleep watching ESPN. The apartment was
dark, lit only by the flickering screen of the TV behind
her. It cast her in gray and white, dreamscape shadows.
Then the flashing screen went blank and they were both
bathed in darkness.
Thisâ€”of all that was about to comeâ€”it was this that he hated
the most. The black on black void held him captive for
Sound came before the light was restored. It was rumbling,
indistinct, but a sensory input that his panicking mind
grasped gratefully. There was something out there.
Something more than his fear. More than his sleep-deadened
A flicker heralded the flame of a candle. An instant later
others sparked to life until boundaries of a room could be
determined in the glow. He was no longer in his apartment.
He scanned his surroundings quickly before fixating on the
woman again. It was impossible not to. She looked the same
as she had last night and the night before and the night
before that. She had dark hairâ€”too burnished for black, too
velvety rich for brown. It was full and silken and glossy
as mink. It hung to her waist in a wave of body and bounce,
gleaming with the flicker of the candlelight. Her eyes were
brown, as dark as her glorious hair. They burned like the
tiny flickering flames around her. Even his dream-self
couldnâ€™t believe their luminescence. Her lips were full and
soft, one corner caught between her teeth. She looked
exotic, her skin dusky and her features fine.
She wore a blue dress with white sleevesâ€”something that
laced in places where there should have been seams or
zippers. It bloused and flowed over her round shoulders,
past hips that made him think of sex in a deep, drowning
way. The hem brushed a scattering of twigs and straw on the
floor. Not even her feet peeped out.
She stood in the center of a room with three stone walls.
Behind him hung a thick woven curtain that served as the
fourth. He knew it without turning to look. There was a
table with a pitcher on it in the corner beside a lumpy bed
covered by a scarlet blanket. The room was damp and drafty,
making the tapestries on the walls billow, but the woman
seemed oblivious to the cold.
As he watched, she began to untie the dress, letting it
fall, revealing a white shift beneath it. The thin material
silhouetted her body for a moment before she began to remove
that too. Even as some part of him shouted again that she
wasnâ€™t real, Rory succumbed to the seduction. She was every
fantasy heâ€™d ever had, ever wanted.
Her skin was so smooth and hued it might have been carved
from the waxed light that made it gleam. Her breasts were
full and heavy and he felt the air leave his lungs as she
bared them. She glanced up thenâ€”every time, every night, at
just that moment. Almost as if sheâ€™d heard him. Her cheeks
were flushed. Her eyes defiant. Anger, bordering rage
filled their depths. So much of the dream made no sense,
but that partâ€”that look of fury mixed with consentâ€”it
bewildered him the most.
When she was stripped bare, she stood in the flickering
light and stared at something just over his shoulder.
He turnedâ€”every time he turned even though by now a part of
him knew what heâ€™d see. A tall man with overlong hair stood
just behind him. A man dressed in a weird get-up that
looked like it had come from a movie set. Archaic, like the
dress the woman had stripped.
His cloak was made of some animal furâ€”not politically
correct faux fur, but the real thing, with paws stretched
flat at four points and the stub of tail nearly dragging the
floor. It was flung back from his massive shoulders,
revealing a heavy circle of gold round his throat. An
obscure word floated to the top of Roryâ€™s thoughts. A
torque. Thatâ€™s what it was called. It was as thick as
Roryâ€™s fingers and engraved with Celtic spirals covering its
surface. It looked heavy. The manâ€™s shirt had a wide slit
for his head, boxy sleeves that fell to his forearms, and a
front embroidered with more spirals and symbols in purple
and gold at the hem and seams. It hung to his thighs, like
a dress. Beneath it were short pants that gathered below
his knees and leather sandals wrapped midway up powerful
calves, Roman style.
But even his bizarre attire was not the strangest part.
What made Rory gasp was more tangible, more figurative. It
shook him no matter how many times he faced it.
The man looked exactly like Rory. He didnâ€™t resemble; he
wasnâ€™t similar. Literally, he could have been Roryâ€™s
As Rory stared he became aware of the ebb and flow of noises
coming from beyond the curtained wall, a rumble that now
distinguished itself into laughter and conversations he
hadnâ€™t noticed while heâ€™d watched the woman strip. Heâ€™d
heard only the beat of his heart pounding in his ears then.
Now sounds surged into the candlelit room, the drone of
speaking men mingling with raucous hoots and jeering, an
occasional giggle or shriek of mirth from the women. One
manâ€™s words rose above the rest as the speaker threatened to
come in and show Rory where everything went. The man used
Roryâ€™s name, but pronounced it with the same Gaelic
inflection that his dream woman had used when sheâ€™d urged
him to hurry. Ruairi.
Rory frowned, realizing he recognized the manâ€™s voice. He
knew heâ€™d heard it before. From their expressions, it was
familiar to the naked woman and his identical twin too.
A surge of lewd cheers followed the manâ€™s threat.
Volunteers offered to help with the endeavor.
The taunts galvanized Roryâ€™s twin into action and he began
stripping away the strange costume with nimble, frantic
fingers. He unfastened a gold chain holding the fur cloak
at his throat and tossed the heavy garment onto the bed
before bending to untie the sandals. Frowning, Rory went
back to watching the woman as she watched his double. She
stood straight and proud, neither hunching to cover her
nudity or posing to flaunt it. She wore no expression, but
her eyes sparked and flared with something Rory couldnâ€™t
quite identify. It couldnâ€™t be longing. There was too much
anger for that. Her fingers curled in on each other in a
tight fist. Then they eased, then they contracted again.
But it was the way her gaze swept over his twin, the way her
breasts lifted with a soft breath and her tongue moistened
her lips that enthralled him.
He couldnâ€™t look away though that distant awareness inside
him was shouting again, warning him not to relax, not to be
mesmerized by the rise and fall of those lovely breasts.
But he couldnâ€™t stop himself as he stared at her, longing to
He knew the end of this fantasy dream was coming, as it
always did just at this point when he felt he might explode
with the want and need rising inside him. He braced himself
for it, for what came after when he finally awoke alone and
aching, still feeling that somehow it had been more than a
dream, though he knew that was crazy. She would torment him
during the wakeful hours afterwards. The sight of her,
close enough to touch . . . to smell . . . to taste . . . .
He would imagine she was everywhere, just out of reach.
But this time the dream took another turn, veering
unexpectedly. Shocking him.
Rory tensed, suddenly uncertain in unknown waters. What
next? Would his body double do what the real Rory longed
for? Would he take her in his arms and bury himself deep
between the womanâ€™s warm thighs? Would watching them be
better or worse than always wondering what came after that
heated look in her eyes?
Her gaze flitted over his twinâ€™s body, lingering on the
bunched muscles in his shoulders, the tight ridge of his
abs, sliding lower, to the hard-on that stood tight against
his belly. She flushed and turned away, moving to the table
where she filled a cup with wine and gulped it down. Rory
found himself entranced by the play of candlelight on the
slope of her spine, on the curve of her ass, the long length
of leg. His body double watched with equal fascination.
She took another drink before facing his twin again, but
whatever Dutch courage sheâ€™d gained vanished when she
turned. She looked so vulnerable standing before the
massive size and barely restrained power of his muscled
twin. Rory wanted to intercede, not trusting his double
with his dream woman. Even now, a part of him caught the
irony in that. Rory was no more trustworthy than this
stranger who looked like him.
He watched with growing frustration as the two met in the
center of the room. As his twin reached out and touched her
skin, slid his hands from shoulders to buttocks, pulling her
tight against his body. It enraged him, watching.
Confounded him, because he also felt some strange sense of
participation. The old phrase, taking a shower in a
raincoat came to him. It fit exactly. He experienced some
of what his twin must be feeling, and yet only through the
thick layer of distance.
His twin and woman backed up until they reached the crude
bed and then fell on it. Roryâ€™s gut tightened as they came
together in a tangle of limbs and passion. There was little
love, that was apparent, but there was heat and need that
perfumed the air and sizzled in the silence. The two seemed
to clash in a battle for control, yet neither relinquished
it and neither retained it. Rory could only ride the wave,
dry and isolated while his mind and his body yearned to take
his twinâ€™s place, be one with the complex and fervent
When it was over, he was twisted tight and hard as a rock.
He cursed under his breath, damning this dream world that
had dominated him. Wishing to awaken but unable to bring
his consciousness back to his sleeping body.
He heard a sound to his right. Confused, he looked at the
stone wall and saw the woven banner with a crest at its
center billow and then move. A man appearedâ€”dressed like
Roryâ€™s twin had been only not so fine, not so resplendent.
This manâ€™s clothing lacked the adornment and embellishment
but it had the same ancient look to it. He was armed with a
bladed weaponâ€”too short to be called sword, too long to be a
knife. His manner said he knew how to use it.
What happened next came in a jerky blurâ€”a film strip that
jumped and dragged then sped forward without pause. His
twin leaping off the bed, the woman sucking in a harsh
breath that seemed to clog the scream she wanted to release.
There was recognition on all their faces and Rory
understood that this intruder was no stranger.
Unfettered by the vulnerability of his nudity, his twin
crouched in a fighting stance as the new man circled him
with that long and wicked blade clenched tight in his hand.
Then they charged one another, one naked, one garbed. The
fight was quick, silent and violent. Roryâ€™s twin
overpowered the other but not without a struggle. He
unarmed the attacker quickly, slamming him against the
unrelenting stone and crushing the intruderâ€™s throat with
his bare hands.
Stunned, Rory looked from the dead man now sprawled on the
floor to his naked twin to the woman who watched from
between spread fingers. She rushed toward his twin with a
look of horror on her face. Rory spun and saw that his
double was on his knees now. His hands clutched his gut and
something dark and viscous ran through his fingers. Blood.
Rory crouched beside the woman as she stared at the gaping
wound across his twinâ€™s abdomen. Blood gushed from it,
splashing her bare skin, seeping into the straw and twigs
covering the floor. There was so much of it. Too much.
â€śWhy?â€ť she breathed the question, those eyes scanning his
Yes, why? Rory wanted to know as well. Why had the
intruder attacked them without provocation?
His twin was bent with agony and didnâ€™t answer. As his twin
reached out a bloody hand to the woman, Rory knew the life
was draining from him. It was like watching his own death,
unbearable and inescapable. The look in his twinâ€™s eyes cut
him as deeply as the gash in the other manâ€™s flesh. There
was rage and there was pain. Desolation. Realization. And
something deeper, more agonizing. A wound more painful than
the one emptying his life onto the floor.
â€śItâ€™s the both of us heâ€™s betrayed, isnâ€™t it?â€ť the woman
said, her words so soft Rory thought they were imagined.
His twin closed his eyes and nodded once. Then he looked up
and for a cold instant, it seemed he stared right at Rory.
There was comprehension in the lookâ€”comprehension and shock.
Then, relief. Rory felt the how forming on his lips but he
had no voice here, in this nightmare that had morphed into
something no longer symbolic but terrifyingly real.
His twin stumbled to his feet and now he clutched an object
in his hands. Rory gaped at it, reeling again from the
shift this dream-world took.
It was the Book of Fennore. Rory would recognize it
anywhere, even here, in this warped fantasy he couldnâ€™t escape.
The Book had a black cover made of leather, beveled with
concentric spirals, and crusted with jewels, gold and
hammered silver that twisted and twined around the edges and
corners. Three cords of silver connected in a mystifying
lock fixed over the jagged edges of thick creamy paper. As
old as the earth and sky, the Book was more than a bound
text, it was an entity with its own consuming desires and
twisted needs. Just touching it gave it access to the
heart, mind, and very soul. Its call was irresistible. Its
promises, unimaginable. Rory knew better than anyone.
A low humming had swelled around the three of them, a
sickening buzz that lodged in the pit of his stomach and
blocked out the sounds on the other side of the curtain. He
felt hot and cold . . . and scared. The dream breached what
little barrier remained between nightmare and terror.
The humming whine throbbed and pulsatedâ€”too low to be heard,
too insistent to be ignored. With it came a blistering heat
that burned like a coal in his head. A reasonable, alien
part of him began to cite calming wordsâ€”It will be all
right. Itâ€™s just a dream. Just your imagination. And once
again, dream-Rory recognized that the input was coming from
his wakeful self. Dream-Rory found that even more
terrifying because that implied a plurality that went beyond
the symbolic twin.
This canâ€™t be a fucking dream if Iâ€™m thinking all of that . . .
Everything began to shimmer, became the stuff dreams are
supposed to beâ€”translucent, then transparent, then
transcendental. . . . Before he could wrap his thoughts
around it, the woman turned her head to where he knelt
beside her. The cold fear on her face struck an answering
chord within him. She saw him.
She saw him.
She lifted a hand that shook and set it against his chest,
as if to test his solidity. Her eyes widened; her mouth
rounded and into an â€śohâ€ť of disbelief.
And the shock of her icy fingers against his hot skin jerked