Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Spotlight: Hidden Deep (Hidden Trilogy #1) by Amy Patrick

Hidden Deep (Hidden Trilogy, #1)
Hidden Deep (Hidden Trilogy #1) by Amy Patrick
Publication Date: March 23rd, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Give in to the Glamour…

Sixteen-year-old Ryann Carroll has just run into the guy who saved her life ten years ago. You might think she'd be happy to see him again. Not exactly. She's a bit underdressed (as in skinny-dipping) and he's not supposed to exist.

After her father's affair, all Ryann wants is to escape the family implosion fallout and find a little peace. She also wouldn't mind a first date that didn't suck, but she's determined not to end up like her mom: vulnerable, betrayed, destroyed. Ryann's recently moved back to her childhood home in rural Mississippi, the same place where ten years earlier she became lost in the woods overnight and nearly died.

She's still irresistibly drawn to those woods. There she encounters the boy who kept her from freezing to death that long ago winter night and was nowhere to be seen when rescuers arrived. He's still mysterious, but now all grown-up and gorgeous, too. And the more she's with him, the greater the threat he poses to Ryann's strict policy-- never want someone more than he wants you.

Seventeen-year-old Lad knows the law of his people all too well: Don't get careless and Don't get caught. It's allowed his race to live undetected in this world for thousands of years, mentioned only in flawed and fading folklore…

Lad's never been able to forget about Ryann since that night ten years ago. When he sees her again, his fascination re-ignites and becomes a growing desire that tempts him to break all the rules. He's not even supposed to talk to a human, much less fall in love with one.

And the timing is atrocious. The Assemblage is coming, the rift between the Light and Dark is widening, and mysterious celebrity fan pods are becoming more and more widespread and influential. Lad may have to trade his own chance at happiness to keep the humans, especially Ryann, blissfully unaware and safe.
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The first time I saw him, everyone convinced me he was a hallucination caused by hypothermia. It was the second time that really messed me up.
It was only noon, but I couldn’t wait anymore. The need to get out there had been growing stronger every day. With everything my mom had going on, maybe she wouldn’t give me an argument this time. The screen door slammed behind me with a loud creak and double-bouncing bang.

            “Ryann? You going out?”

            I exhaled loudly then turned and faced my mother as she followed me out onto the back porch. She was dressed in her new red interview suit, a face full of going-somewhere makeup, and her hair up in clips where she’d been straightening it in sections. She’d rushed to the door in her stocking feet, causing a fresh run to start near her big toe.

            “I left a note on the counter. Just going for a walk—you know.” I shrugged. No big deal. Glancing down, I nodded toward her foot. “You’d better change those.”
            “Shoot!” She hiked up her skirt and started ripping off the pantyhose. “What the heck am I doing? I haven’t worked in sixteen years. They’re going to laugh me out the door.”

            She wobbled to one side, off balance. I reached out to steady her. “They’ll love you.”

            Mom wrinkled her nose, brushing off my reassurance. “You’re right. How could they not want such a strong job candidate? Thirty-six, living with my mother again, and did I mention the part about no work experience? Don’t ever get yourself in this situation, Ryann. Depend on you—no one else—”
“Mom.” I interrupted before she could launch into the full mantra. “They’re going to love you.”

            She balled up the ruined stockings and gave me a doubtful smile, the shallow lines on her forehead deepening. Her eyes closed for a long moment, and she let out a resigned sigh. “Why do you want to go tromping around in those buggy, thorny woods every day, Ryann? You know I hate it.” 

            “I won’t go far. I’ll probably be back before you even get home.”

            I knew exactly what this was about. In my mother’s mind, I was still six years old, likely to wander off and get lost, and this time, never return. There was a pause, and I could see the surrender forming behind her eyes.

             “Well… spray yourself so you don’t get eaten alive.” She picked up a can of insect repellant from the porch railing, thrusting it at me. “And stay on the trails. And don’t be late.”

            “You don’t be late.” I took the can and smiled at her, already backing down the porch stairs. “And good luck.”

            Stepping out into the pine-scented heat was a relief. We’d moved way out into the sticks, but we hadn’t left the tension behind in town. A giddy sense of freedom swept me up, and I practically ran to get to the trees bordering my grandma’s house. My home now, too, as of three days earlier.

I’d come here for visits my whole life. Now it was a little more permanent, which was fine with me. I’d always loved this place. The hot clinging air, the rambling log house, and especially the deep, dense woodland surrounding it. The locals would probably think that was kind of strange, since most of them remembered when I nearly died out here.

            Sticks snapped under my sneakers as I walked, listening to birdsong and whining insects. All familiar and welcoming. And a familiar feeling wrapped around me as well. Of hoping for… something. I wasn’t sure what.

I’d promised not to go far, and I didn’t intend to, but once I got going, it was too tempting to keep on walking, exploring deeper into the woods. The further I went, the lighter I felt. The sensation was like exhaling after holding your breath for way too long. Anyway, if I’d kept my promise and stayed on the trail, I never would’ve found this place.

            The spring-fed pool was so clear I could see the large flat rocks and green plants lining the bottom. Leaves pirouetted from the surrounding trees, landing and floating on the glassy surface. Sunlight streamed through the treetops in little pockets, making a kaleidoscope pattern on the moss and springy wild ferns growing along the water’s edge. It felt like my own magical discovery.

            My t-shirt and shorts were plastered to me at this point, and my skin actually felt thirsty. Late May in Mississippi is not for wusses. Looking at the clear water, the idea of an outdoor bath started to seem too delicious to resist. It was kind of crazy—I mean, I hadn’t exactly packed a swimsuit for my little nature walk. Whatever. I could use a minute or two of crazy in my life right about now.

            I shucked my sweaty clothes, leaving my bra and panties on. There might have been six hundred acres of my grandma’s posted forest land between me and the nearest person, but I wasn’t that brave. 

            I stepped into the cool water. It felt unbelievably good, and I slipped under, blowing out all the stuffy humid air in my body. After a minute my lungs burned. I resurfaced, stood up in the waist-deep pool, and waited for the water to stop running down my face. Then I opened my eyes.

There in front of me, kneeling on the mossy bank and staring right at me, was a guy. A big blond guy, about my age.

I know him. No—wait—I don’t know.

It didn’t really matter because he shouldn’t have been there. No one should’ve been there, but he was. I’m basically naked and alone in the woods with a stranger. Not good.

             My chest was on fire. I wasn’t breathing, and then I was breathing too much, too quickly. My mind spun and scrambled for anything like a rational thought. If I’d been watching myself in one of those stupid screamer movies, I’d have been shouting at the screen, “Move! Run! Do something.” But it was like that time when I was home alone and thought I heard an intruder. I just froze.

            The guy looked almost as shocked as I felt, seeming unable to tear his wide-eyed stare away. Like me, he was frozen in place. 

            Then his face relaxed. And he smiled.

            Sure. Alligators can smile, too. At least the sight ripped me out of my temporary paralysis. I finally moved, lunging toward the bank, intending to climb out and run, or at least get my clothes.

Oh. My clothes. I plunged myself back into the water up to my chin. I had no idea what to do. I was basically at this guy’s mercy—miles from anyone who could hear me scream, ridiculously outsized and overpowered. He still hadn’t said anything. No “I’m sorry,” or “Hello there,” or “Why no, I’m not a rapey stalker.”

            “Get out of here. You’re trespassing.” My attempt to be threatening came out sounding kind of pathetic, breathy and high-pitched.

The guy jerked back, lost his balance, and ended up on his rear. For a minute I was hopeful—maybe he was actually buying my bluff—but he got back up slowly to his haunches, and the corner of his mouth eased up along with one eyebrow.

            “Trespassing? Well. There must be some law against public indecency, too. You shouldn’t be out here like…” He gestured toward me. “…that.”

His voice was deep, mature-sounding, though he wasn’t more than eighteen, and his amused grin said he couldn’t have been more pleased I was out here like this.

            Who does he think he is? “No, you stupid ass—you shouldn’t be out here. I own these woods, and You. Are. Trespassing. Now leave.” That was it—I’d used the only cuss word I could pull off convincingly, and I sure did hope it worked, because if it didn’t, I had nothin’.

            My tough talk made me feel slightly less afraid. But I was still stuck in the shamefully clear pool, and he was still there grinning and looking at me like the kid who’d found the Halloween candy stash.

He stood, and I had to squint up at him. His dark blond hair was haloed by the rays of sun slipping through the leafy canopy above. Strands of lighter gold glinted through the loose curls. I was cornered by possibly the world’s most angelic-looking peeping Tom. Or serial killer. Neither thought was comforting.
~About The Author~
Amy Patrick
Amy is a two-time Golden Heart finalist (2013 and 2014) who writes Young Adult fiction as Amy DeLuca and New Adult romance as Amy Patrick.  She lives in Rhode Island with her husband and two sons and actually craves the heat and humidity of Mississippi, where she grew up. She's been a professional singer and news anchor and currently narrates audio books as well as working as a station host for a Boston TV station.
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