Welcome to another book blitz organized by Xpresso Book Tours for a first book in new spin-off duet of Gifted Academy Series – Reckless Times by Michelle Hercules. This blitz includes some details about the book and author, couple of excerpts, and a giveaway hosted on author’s IG account. If you’d like a chance to win, enter via link at the bottom of this post. So, here is the book of the day 😊 (P.S. Just wanted to let you know that I looove that gorgeous cover in my favourite colours 😍)
Title: Reckless Times
Author: Michelle Hercules
Series: Paragon Society #1
Publication date: February 20th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
A GIFTED ACADEMY DUET
Those are the words used to describe me. I’m an Idol who can’t see, and in this savage world where power is everything, being born with a disability makes me an aberration. Idols are the direct descendants of the gods. We’re supposed to be perfect.
My parents kept me protected behind walls most of my life. They fear I won’t survive in the real world. They have no idea what kind of power runs through my veins.
Stephan Silverstone—the most perfect Idol I’ve ever met—does. He’s cocky, annoying, and pushes my buttons like no other. But he sees me, the real person behind all the preconceived notions. Without effort, he’s breaking all my barriers; he’s claiming my heart.
When I’m with him, sparks fly. I want to be reckless and forget everything. If only things were that simple. We’re both keeping dangerous secrets that could tear us apart. War is coming, and I’m not sure if what we have will survive.
*This is a spin-off of Gifted Academy Series. This is not an RH romance.
Someone is following me. Whoever it is, they’re making sure to stay far away enough that I can’t pick up their scent. I know it’s not Patrick; he’s not intelligent enough to be that careful.
I turn a corner and hide behind a potted plant. Sure as shit, the person enters the same corridor as I did.
Son of a bitch. It’s Stephan Silverstone. Why is he following me?
Only one way to find out.
I wait until he’s closer to send one of my chains forward, keeping it invisible. The spear pierces the opposite wall, and the chain becomes a tightrope at ankle level. This little trick takes no more than a couple of seconds, not giving Stephan enough time to investigate the noise. He trips over, but instead of hearing the sound of him hitting the floor, all I get is a groan from him.
“What the—” I jump from my hiding spot.
“Nice try, Andy.”
Whirling around, I try to find him. I can smell his heady cologne, but I can’t pinpoint his exact location. It’s like he evaporated.
“Where are you?”
“I’m right here,” he whispers in my ear.
Faster than lightning, I strike, but my knuckles collide with nothing but air.
“How are you doing this?”
“I don’t know what you mean.” He chuckles.
“Why are you invisible to me?”
I finally hear the sound of his feet landing softly on the marble floor. Before he disappears again, I throw my chains in his direction, not bothering to keep them concealed now. My core warms up, infusing me with energy. Stephan doesn’t try to move out of the way, and my chains wrap around him completely. Their glow covers him from head to toe, allowing me to see more of him than before. He’s tall, a little over six feet, with broad shoulders and a trim waist. The details of his face are murky, but I can make out the upturn of his lips.
“What’s so funny?” I ask.
“You can sense my amusement?”
“And these chains?” He drops his chin for a moment, and the brightness of my weapon intensifies, letting me see his face more clearly.
I gasp. This has never happened before.
“What about them?” I try to hide my surprise.
“Do you make it a habit of attacking your father’s guests?”
“You were following me.”
“Was I? How do you know?”
I retract my chains, not because I regret attacking him but because I’m freaked out. Of all the people to get a proper glimpse, Stephan was most definitely the worst choice. I liked what I saw, which is a problem. He’s a feast for at least three out of the five senses: toe-curling voice, intoxicating scent, and panty-dropping face. I’m betting that he tastes like he sounds, and that his touch is incendiary.
Whoa. Where the hell did those thoughts come from?
“Actually, you caught me. I was following you.”
It takes a moment for my lust-infused brain to process his words. “Why?”
“Because you looked distressed, and I wanted to see if you were okay.”
He sounds sincere, but his words raise alarm bells in my head. In an instant, thoughts of tasting and touching him vanish. My entire life, every time someone tried to get closer to me or become my friend, has been because they were after something. It was never about me. I was always the means to an end.
“How kind of you.” My voice drips sarcasm. “Please don’t tell me you’re also one of the contenders for my hand.”
Damn it. His surprise is genuine. I can tell by the slight pitch in his tone. Heat rushes to my cheeks. What if I jumped the gun and Stephan knows nothing about my parents’ scheme to find me a husband?
“Nothing. Never mind.”
“So, you’re good?”
“Yeah, I’m good. You can return to your dinner. I’m sure your date misses you.”
He snickers. “Thanks for assuming I have a date. See you later, Andy.”
What’s that supposed to mean? Is he implying he can’t get a date? Or did his comment have something to do with my inability to see? Shit. Why am I obsessing about his words now? I sound like a typical teenage girl suffering from a crush.
I continue toward the ladies’ room, which was not my original destination, but it’s now a necessity. My face is still on fire thanks to my exchange with Stephan. I splash cold water on my cheeks as I attempt to forget what he looks like and the effect he had on me.
Not in the mood to return to the ballroom yet, I take a detour through the gardens. The beautifully manicured landscape is designed in a maze-like layout, which would make them forbidden territory for me if it weren’t for my chains. No one expects to find me there, so the gardens are my go-to stop when I want to be left alone.
It’s the beginning of August, so even at night, the heat is intense. That’s Hawk City for you. The evening gown Fatima selected is sleeveless, but thanks to its tight bodice, sweat begins to pool between my breasts. Yuck.
Two minutes into my stroll, I hear male voices coming from ahead and recognize one immediately. It’s Patrick. The other two guys I can’t place, but by the tone of their conversation, I can guess they’re friends.
“How fast does the new Ferrari go?” one of the guys asks.
“Two hundred and twenty miles an hour. I got here in like two minutes. It’s the sweetest ride I’ve ever had.”
“Sweeter than Lola Gutierrez?” the other friend asks.
“Bitch, please. No pussy can compare to a Ferrari.”
I roll my eyes. Boys and their toys. I bet his dick is the size of my baby finger.
“Now, give it up, Patrick. What are you doing sniffing around that blind chick? She’s not even hot.”
My spine goes rigid in an instant.
“And she’s a bitch,” the other friend adds.
Patrick lets out a heavy sigh, but I pick up the fakeness in it. “You know the drill in my family. Sacrifices have to be made for the good of the business. My father wants a merger with Belfor Industries, and the quickest way to achieve that is through marriage.”
“Better you than me, buddy.”
“Well, at least she’s blind. You can probably bring hookers to the house and fuck them in broad daylight and the freak won’t even notice.”
I curl my hands into fists as I try my best to control my rage. I don’t give a fuck if they find me ugly, but calling me stupid is another matter.
“True that.” Patrick laughs.
“But aren’t you worried your kids will be blind too?”
“If they’re defective, they won’t live long enough to embarrass me.”
My chains rattle around me loudly, a display of my fury. Keeping them from showing is an effort.
“What’s that noise?” one of the assholes asks.
“I don’t know. I heard it earlier in the ballroom too,” Patrick replies.
“Let’s get back inside. This place is giving me the creeps,” his friend says.
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of ghosts, Rocky.” Patrick and the other douche chuckle.
“Fuck off. I’m not afraid of anything.”
Their steps retreat, but not my anger. I’m fuming and could literally raze this garden to the ground. But once I can’t hear their hateful voices anymore, I have a better idea where to direct my rage. With large steps, I veer toward the street where the guests’ cars are parked.
I don’t sense anyone around, so I search for Patrick’s beloved Ferrari without fear of being spotted. Finding the sports car through its shape only would have been impossible since I don’t know what it looks like, so I let my nose guide me until I pick up Patrick’s scent.
My lips curl into a wicked smile. “There you are.”
With a grand gesture of my arms, I let my chains loose, and then all I hear is the supreme sound of destruction.
The crowd is clamoring, calling my name. I can feel the vibration of their loud voices and violent energy from the locker room. I’m alone here. After so many victories in the pit, I’ve earned the right to privacy. Little butterflies flutter savagely in my belly. I’m not nervous; these are just the jitters before a performance. I curl my hands into fists, letting the power of my invisible chains run freely through my veins like a surge of electricity.
For a fleeting moment, I wonder what my parents would do if they found out their precious disabled daughter is fighting against the meanest and strongest Idols in the biggest underground tournament in Hawk City. They’d probably have a heart attack. For starters, my family is one of the most prominent and wealthiest in the country. We don’t mingle with the lower classes.
Yes, they’d be appalled, but mostly they’d be worried sick. Despite me being a high-level Idol, they think I’m defenseless thanks to my blindness. They know nothing about me, but they never made the effort either.
I push thoughts of my parents to the side and focus on the here and now. I’m the current champion in the pit, and as such, I’ll only step foot in the small arena when all fights are done. This is something new that management implemented. I’m facing whoever wins the rounds.
A smile blossoms on my lips as I remember my first time here. They thought I was an easy target. My disability was all they could see, never mind that I didn’t try to conceal my powers then. Strategy was not in my mind that first night. It didn’t matter. The fight was over before I could break a sweat.
Heavy steps approach from outside my locker room. It’s Dick Santos, the arena’s manager.
He knocks once before he opens the door. “It’s time.”
I jump to my feet, shaking my arms to loosen up. “Who am I fighting tonight?”
“The Boulder. Mean fella. Level fourteen. He can con—”
“Let me guess. Rocks?” I raise an eyebrow.
“Yeah, and he’s faster than most despite his size.”
“What are the odds?” I stretch my arms.
“Six to one.”
“Six to one? That’s it?”
“In his favor,” Dick continues.
My jaw drops, and it’s not an act. I’m genuinely offended. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope. Our little performance last night worked. You’re the underdog again. But don’t worry, kid. He’s got nothing on you.” Dick puts his hand on my shoulder, which I promptly push off.
“I’m not worried. I’m pissed.”
He laughs from deep in his belly, grating on my nerves. “I’m not. Tonight, I’m making bank.”
Yeah, you and the guys.
I stride out of the room, focusing on the fire burning in the pit of my stomach. What did The Boulder do to make people think he can beat me? I only received a couple of hits yesterday from Stone Man, and that was because Dick told me to.
It doesn’t matter. I’ll show them.
The two security guys at the end of the corridor tense when they see me approach. It’s funny how I can pick up subtle changes in people more easily than those who aren’t visually impaired. Without missing a beat, they open the double doors for me. I usually take a deep breath to get rid of the jitters. Not tonight though. I’m more than ready to do some damage.
When I step out, the crowd roars, “Blind Fury! Blind Fury!”
I don’t bask in the glory. Only one out of six think I have a chance to win. I’m surrounded by traitors everywhere.
There’s only one person I can trust.
Dick announces my name as the defending champion, and once again, people go wild. But when he mentions the name of my opponent, the cheers are louder. I search for Leroy and Ezekiel in the crowd, my fan club. It’s easy to locate them as I’m already familiar with their auras. At least they aren’t rooting for the other guy.
I let my chains loose so I can get a sense of The Boulder but keep them invisible for now. That’s how I see the world, through my chains. They pick up on the vibrations of everything around me: people, objects, obstacles. It’s not a perfect view, but it’s better than being completely in the dark. Quickly, I understand why the majority of those present think I’m going to lose. My opponent is massive, almost seven feet tall, and packing muscles. Now I know where his stage name comes from.
“This is the famous Blind Fury?” He laughs. “I don’t know how I feel about fighting a helple—”
I shoot my right chain out, wrapping it around his throat and cutting his tirade off. He chokes, clutching at the links in a vain attempt to break free.
“You were saying?” I yank the chain hard, bringing the cocky idiot to his knees.
Dick remains outside the ring. The first thing he told me when I stepped into the pit for the first time was that there were no rules. Losers can either forfeit, pass out, or die, and the choice always relies on the victor. The Boulder’s grunts tell me he must be getting purple by now. I could easily kill him, and no one would think less of me. On the contrary, the crowd would love me more. I’m tempted, and my chains are as bloodthirsty as I am.
This is not who you are, Andy.
At the last moment, I retract them. There’s a collective gasp of disappointment.
The Boulder is still coughing as he staggers back to his feet. But instead of leaving the pit, he pulls all his energy to his core. He’s going to attack again, even though the fight’s pretty much over. Son of a bitch. Some people just don’t know when to give up.
Strong vibrations concentrate around the man just before the floor cracks right under my feet. A huge mass forms in front of him. The fucker created a rock, which he launches in my direction. I have ample time to move out of the way, but I hold my ground. My chains form a protective circle around me, and in the next second comes the sound of rock shattering.
“What the fuck is that?” he asks, shocked.
I can’t tell exactly what he’s seeing, but when my chains are in full display, awe is the most common reaction I get. They must look badass.
He doesn’t get another chance to attack before I send both chains in his direction. One pierces his right thigh, and the other wraps around his body, squeezing him in a bone-crushing hold.
“Aargh! My leg. What did you do to me, bitch?”
Slowly, I walk in his direction, stopping when I’m in front of his collapsed form. “You should have forfeited when you had the chance.”
“Never. I’d rather die.”
It’s the first time I’ve faced someone with a death wish. I’d never truly considered killing anyone for sport, but today, the temptation is huge.
“Careful, buddy. I’m feeling quite murderous tonight.”
My chains squeeze him until the first crack of bone breaking echoes in the pit. The Boulder screams and curses, but he won’t relent. I won’t have a choice. If I don’t kill him, I’ll never be allowed back. The crowd will boo me out of the pit, if they don’t do something worse like ask for my head.
Suddenly, there’s no more resistance coming from him. Ah fuck. Did I kill him? I listen closely, something hard to do when everyone around is talking and cheering. Then I hear it, the faint sound of his breathing. He’s not dead, simply passed out. Relief washes over me, but I can’t let anyone see. Maintaining the cold mask, I pull away and walk over to my side of the pit.
Dick tsks as he joins me in the ring. When his attention diverts to me, I sense the difference in his demeanor. He’s beaming, probably counting his profits already.
“What an evening, am I right, folks?” he addresses the crowd.
They respond with cheers and hollers.
“How about we make it even more exciting?”
The yelling goes up a notch, making me wince. Sometimes having enhanced hearing is a curse.
“Blind Fury has remained undefeated for five weeks straight. I’m doubling tonight’s grand prize. If there’s anyone here brave enough to challenge her, come forward now.”
Immediately, the noise lowers until only murmurs can be heard. I frown, glowering in Dick’s general direction. I didn’t agree to a final challenge. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s the fucking principle. I’m not his bitch to do as he pleases. I’d storm out of the pit if that wouldn’t brand me a coward.
Minutes go by without anyone stepping forward. Dick keeps egging on the crowd. I don’t know why he wants another fight so badly, but my patience is wearing thin. I stretch my arms and fake a yawn, ready to get the fuck out of here, when I sense a familiar presence nearby. My blood runs cold. I came here to forget he exists, to unleash my wrath on strangers, wishing it was him.
“I’ll do it. I challenge Blind Fury,” Stephan declares.
A myriad of emotions washes over me. Rage, longing, shame.
Damn everything to hell. What is he doing here?
USA Today bestselling author Michelle Hercules always knew creative arts were her calling but not in a million years did she think she would write a novel. With a background in fashion design she thought she would follow that path. But one day, out of the blue, she had an idea for a book. One page turned into ten pages, ten pages turned into a hundred, and before she knew, her first book, The Prophecy of Arcadia, was born.
Michelle Hercules resides in The Netherlands with her husband and daughter. She is currently working on the Legends of Gattica series.
GIVEAWAY (INTERNATIONAL) – 2 signed copies of Reckless Times (ends February 25th) >>> enter HERE
This sounds something very much up my alley. At the beginning I was just interested in this book because of the cover, then the synopsis really caught my attention, but after reading these two excerpts I got curious and very much intrigued. I guess I’ll be checking it out soon. So what are your thoughts on this story and cover? Have you read Gifted Academy Series by Michelle Hercules? Are you interested in reading Reckless Times?
Lady of Bookland