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Blog Tour: Elude: Rachel Van Dyken

ELUDE (Eagle Elite #6)
ADD TO GOODREADS
Buy: AMAZON/B&N/iTunes
Release Date July 9, 2015

Twenty-Four hours before we were to be married--I offered to shoot her.
Ten hours before our wedding--I made a mockery of her dying wish.
Five hours before we were going to say our vows--I promised I'd never love her.
One hour before I said I do--I vowed I'd never shed a tear over her death.
But the minute we were pronounced man and wife--I knew.
I'd only use my gun to protect her.
I'd give my life for hers.
I'd cry.
And I would, most definitely, lose my heart, to a dying girl---a girl who by all accounts should have never been mine in the first place.
I always believed the mafia would be my end game--where I'd lose my heart, while it claimed my soul. I could have never imagined. It would be my redemption.
Or the beginning of something beautiful.
The beginning of her.
The end of us.

Family Crests





Loneliness tasted like hell. It also, lucky for me, tasted like a fifth of whiskey and what would most likely be a throbbing headache come tomorrow morning.

I brought the bottle to my lips and tilted it back, my eyes trained on the fire in front of me, the flames licking higher and higher, reminding me that I wasn't exactly in any position to ask God for any favors…it may as well have been hell waving back at me and confirming my suspicions.

I'd killed too much.

I'd lied even more.

And I was officially out of favor within my family — within my world.

I hissed as a drip of whiskey landed on my blood-caked knuckles. Beating the shit out of the wall hadn't even stopped the anger.

Ah anger, that was something I could talk about, something I could tangibly feel as it pulsed through my body. It had been my mistress for so long that I knew if I actually let it go — I'd be even more lonely than I already was.

I tried to take a deep breath, to calm myself down, but air wouldn't go into my lungs, I felt paralyzed and on an adrenaline high all at once.

Maybe that was another part of my punishment. I had exactly twenty-four hours before I had to marry a Russian.

And not just any Russian.

An enemy, a double agent who had worked for both the FBI and, apparently, the Nicolasi family. She had sold out her own crime family, the Petrovs, and now… she was under the protection of the Italians.

How messed up was that?

I took another swig of whiskey and eyed the clock. Make that twenty-three hours and fifty-eight minutes.

I wasn't drunk enough.

I wasn't even close.

Marrying someone for protection I could do. Marrying someone and even killing them afterwards? Piece of cake. After all, that was my MO. I was a killer, a ghost, whatever the family wanted me to be.

But marrying someone, keeping them safe, only to watch them die within six months?

No. Hell no.

She had leukemia.

So why keep her alive this long?

I snorted and took another sip of whiskey. "I'd be doing her a favor by killing her."

"Ouch," a light airy voice said from somewhere in the room, causing all my hair to stand on end. "So as far as pep talks go, yours officially needs work."

I carefully set down the whiskey, not trusting myself not to throw it in her direction in an anger-filled rage. "I was talking to myself."

"Another sign you need to get laid." She laughed.

I didn't.

"Go away, Arabella."

"My name's Andi."

"Your legal name is Arabella Anderson Petrov. Care to know your social security number and credit score as well?"

"Romance is lost on you." I felt her move around the room. The air seized with electricity; she'd always had a presence about her, and right now I was five seconds away from losing my shit and ramming my head into the fireplace just so I could escape it all.

"Don't I know it," I huffed and reached for the bottle again.

Small warm hands clasped around mine before I could get there. I jerked away, causing her to stumble in front of me.

White-blond hair covered her soft features. Big brown eyes blinked back at me. I hissed in a breath and cursed.

"You should go."

"We need to talk."

"Oh goody. Is this the part where you tell me I have to give up my virginity on my wedding night?"

"What?" She blinked like a startled deer, then a weak smile pulled her lips upward.

I ignored the way my body reacted and rolled my eyes in irritation.

"Aw, he has jokes now. At least, I hope it's a joke. You're not, are you? A virgin, I mean."

I snorted and eyed the bottle, calculating my odds on reaching it before she stopped me, then gave up. "Fine." I huffed. "Hurry up and get to talking so I can get drunk."

Andi sat opposite me in the leather chair and tucked her feet under her body. She was small, around five-one, but she packed a punch, knew how to use every automatic weapon on the market, and I was pretty sure I had once overheard that she was well-versed in torture. Looking at her, you'd think she was just graduating high school and getting ready to go shopping for her favorite pair of shoes with Daddy's credit card.

"You're upset," she finally said.

"No." I licked my lips and leaned forward. "I'm enraged. There's a difference."

Her eyes narrowed. "You know you can talk to me — since you're stuck with me for the next…while. That is, unless you kill me first… like you did that FBI agent."

My blood ran cold. No one knew about what I'd done last week. When I'd gained intel from another agent. "Her cover was blown. I did her a favor."

"Did you?" Her eyebrows arched.

"Have you ever been shot, Andi?"

She sighed and leaned her head back against the lush cushion. "No, why? Are you going to educate me on what it feels like?"

I exhaled and popped my knuckles; the sound reverberated through the empty room. "It happens in three stages."

"What does?"

"Getting shot."

"You mean you don't just pull the trigger?" she joked.

Ignoring her, I continued. "Shock. It's always the first emotion because the human brain hasn't yet caught up with the fact that you've been wounded. So your body starts going into shock, and then the pain happens, but it's not the type of pain you'd think. It burns, but it's more of an empty, hollow pain, that starts to spread from the wound throughout the rest of your body until a slow chill starts to descend. When the chill descends, the shock wears off and confusion sets in. Why was I shot? Why me? What have I done? As humans, our brains aren't meant to understand violence, so we have to logically explain it away. I had to have done something wrong to get shot. Or maybe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The minute your brain finds something that makes sense you move onto the last stage."

Andi barely moved a muscle. "Death?"

"Worse." I reached for the bottle and took a long swig. "Denial."

"Why is denial worse?"

"You tell me."

Her eyes closed briefly before she offered a shrug. "Because it means you aren't ready."

"Look who just earned an A in class," I mocked. "And you're right. Denial happens when you realize it shouldn't be you, that even if your brain connected the dots, it isn't yet your time. The lovely little memories of your life start to play on repeat in your head — the moments you should have done something but didn't, the things you'll never say, the things you'll never do. And then… you either get lucky or, if I'm the one who pulled the trigger, your memories will click off after about one minute, and you'll be no more."

The fire crackled.

Andi refused to look at me.

"I'd make it fast, Andi."

"Are we seriously doing this?"

"What?" I shrugged.

"Having a conversation in what should be a nice cozy room, about you killing me?"

"It would be a kindness."

"Go to hell!"

"Already there, Andi. Already there. Don't you know? I belong nowhere. My family's punishing me, the FBI's investigating me for the murder of my superior, and now I have to marry a Russian whore."

"So…" She stood. "…you'd rather kill me than marry me?"

"Was I not clear? I thought I was… Allow me to say it slower, perhaps in Russian? If that's all you people understand." I stood, meeting her chest to chest. "I'd rather kill you than see you suffer… I'd offer a dog the same kindness."

"I'm not a dog."

"You're Russian."

"Stop saying that."

"What?" I sneered. "The truth? Well, sweetheart, it doesn't get any truer than your reality. Allow me to kill you before your family or cancer does, and at least you can own your own death rather than fearing it."

She reached for me, touched my shoulders, and then cupped my face. I hated it because I liked it; my body leaned without me telling it to. She was so warm. "And what makes you think I fear my own death?"

"Everyone is afraid of dying. The hardest part is never admitting we're mortal, but coming to terms with the fact that we have no control over how long we're given. You do."

"No… I don't… You're trying to take that control."

"Say the word." My hand moved to the Glock strapped to my thigh.

"I'm not afraid." Her lips trembled. "At least not of death… but I am afraid of something."

"Oh yeah?" I hissed. "What's that?"

"Yours."

Confused, I stepped back, immediately looking for a weapon. "I don't understand."

"You wouldn't." She shrugged. "Because you, Sergio Abandonato, are already dead." She moved gracefully across the room. "You're dead inside… and you don't even know it. Forget cancer — and take a long hard look in the mirror — that's what death looks like."

Sergio's story was set up in Ember. He is about to get married...against his will. But he has to do his penance and this is a family decision. His bride-to-be is Andi--a Russian Mafia Princess turned ally now under the Italian's protection. And her life span is projected to be short.

She is optimistic despite a death sentence and he is held down by darkness, guilt, and loneliness. She needs to feel safe and that is the one thing he can promise although he vows not to feel or care.

Andi has a unique, funny, uplifting, sarcastic personality that Sergio finds hard to resist---though he tries so hard. Her zest for life pisses him off. It makes him realize even that that he has not been living...only existing.

I loved their banter. Andi was such a breath of fresh air. She was so outgoing and full of mischief. She was dangerous in her own right.  The brooding, angry, isolated Sergio did not know what hit him. And Andi was relentless about trying to tear down the walls around his heart and unleash the real man he has hidden so long. 

Sergio and Andi's story was moving, heartbreaking, and inspiring. I felt their connection, hoped with them, and even cried with them. I loved how they came to understand each other and support each other in the only ways they knew how. I was full of anxiety and tension waiting to see how their story would play out. I was torn with wanting to read faster and not wanting it to end. I was praying for miracles, divine intervention, or some Italian mafia magic.
Along with the love story there was also of course danger, drama, and suspense with the mafia families. So Sergio has his hands full with trying to keep his promise to keep her safe...as well as himself.
I was thrilled to have all of families back and surround Sergio and Andi...Nixon and Trace, Chase and Mil, Phoenix and Bee, Ax and Amy, Tex and Mo, and Frank. Even Luca's presence is still felt. They all provided much needed comedic relief while also bringing in the full family and Italian mafia experience. I love these characters and spending time with them feels like being with a familiar, dysfunctional family.

I was not sure how this story would end. But it was obvious that Andi was special and was a catalyst for change not only with Sergio but for the family as well. She was such a beautiful, positive presence that was inspiring and encouraged all of them to live life to the fullest, love hard, and appreciate their gifts. I was not sure Rachel Van Dyken could outdo Phoenix's story Ember, but this one might have done it. Sergio is definitely another unlikely hero that I came to really love. And I have to say that Phoenix impressed me in this one again.

This book had me feeling so many emotions. One minute I would be laughing, then holding my breath, and then crying, and then it would shift all over again. I loved getting both points of view and understanding the character's' motivations and growth. I was completely enthralled from the prologue to the end and could not put it down. I am still thinking about this moving story and these characters today. It also had some interesting surprises and twists that we should see play out in the next book Empire and a spin off Rip. I am already intrigued by the story lines and characters.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Sergio has been in a bit of limbo, but even when he knew what he was doing with his life he never truly felt anything. Avoiding intimacy, friendships, and relationships with his family, he had isolated himself to the point that he was dead inside. 

He has promised to marry Andi in order to give her the protection of the family. But he also promises he will never love her, and never be anything more than her husband on paper.

Andi is so optimistic. Facing leukemia and a struggle for health, she challenges Sergio to really live.

This series just keeps getting better. While each book takes these mafia families in a different direction, at the heart is the family. But the storytelling within has grown and developed in such a way that each new book feels like a continuation of both the story and the author’s craft. I remember reading Elite thinking the story was great, but some of the situations just felt a little too dramatic to be real. To me, this series has lost that over dramatic feel. Yes, there are still crazy mafia wars, guns brandished during family arguments, and plans that seem to defy all logic, but it has settled into a realm that works and feels a little closer to reality.

I have so many passages highlighted. More than I typically would mark. But there were so many places where the story spoke to me, the characters uttered hard truths, and the words were absolutely perfect. 

This was such a ride. I was amazed at the way it had me crying and laughing nearly simultaneously but for such varied reasons. This was tragic, and funny, in a way that felt natural and real within this fictional world. I would say Elude challenged me the most of all the Eagle Elite books, especially as there is so much sadness. But it was so beautiful. I love Andi and Sergio’s story and can’t wait for Empire (expected this Fall). 
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.


Eagle Elite Series:


ELITE (#1):

ELECT (#2):

ENTICE(#3):

ELICIT(#4):

BANG BANG(novella):
ENFORCE (#1.5--Male POV):

EMBER(#5): 
AMAZON/B&N / iTunes

ENCHANT (series prequel):
AMAZON/B&N/iTunes



Rachel Van Dyken WEBSITENEWSLETTERFACEBOOK /TWITTER /AMAZON 

Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!

You can connect with her on Facebook www.facebook.com/rachelvandyken  or join her fan group Rachel's New Rockin Readers. Her website is www.rachelvandykenauthor.com 





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