First, a stellar review from Romantic Times Bookreviews Magazine!
4 1/2 Stars and Top Pick in their January, 2007 issue!
Big applause goes to Burton for succeeding in setting up a rousing & timely premise that is a real roller coaster ride. Not only does this book set the stage for further exciting adventures, it also delivers a great group of characters that have plenty of room for growth. Burton doesn’t skimp on the sizzling sex or romance either; this book has it all! Brava!
Reviewed by Jill Smith
EXCERPT – SURVIVING DEMON ISLAND
Releasing December 26, 2006
A few weeks later, Gina peered out the porthole of the ship, bound for some undisclosed island where filming of the reality show would take place. The producers had shrouded everything under a veil of secrecy, requiring her to sign a confidentiality agreement. She couldn’t bring anyone with her or tell a soul where she was headed. No cell phones and no contact with the outside world. As far as Gina knew the press wasn’t aware of what was going on or where, and she hadn’t seen anyone other than the production company’s limo driver who picked her up at the airport and the lone crewman who’d escorted her on board the ship. As soon as she arrived she’d been taken to a rather plain cabin and told to wait there until she was summoned.
All very dramatic, but then what did she expect? So typical for the industry. But her career fed her love of action and adventure and her chance to escape reality and become someone else. If she didn’t have her career, life would be dull, dull, dull.
She took the opportunity to shower away the grunge from the long flight and change into a sundress, grateful not to have a makeup, hair, and clothing assistant trailing behind her. Staring into the mirror, she applied minimal makeup and brushed her hair until the sable strands shimmered, braiding and securing it with a single band at the bottom. Then she slipped on a pair of flat sandals and checked her reflection, hoping she projected a casual image, like an average person on vacation. She didn’t want to look Hollywood, nor did she want to tip her hand and show up in full battle gear. Best to remain neutral until she had a chance to assess the competition.
Competition. Her blood damn near sizzled in her veins in anticipation of what was to come.
Finally satisfied, she pronounced herself ready, figuring if they were going to do actual filming today they would have given her a makeup and hair schedule. Or if she was really lucky and this was like some of the other reality shows, there’d be no beautifying of the contestants, which she’d much prefer over the glamour.
The funny thing was, she was actually nervous. Put her in a room with her peers, and she was fine. But these people were different. They weren’t actors or anyone else from the film industry. They were unknowns. Regular people. People who enjoyed the same things she did. Sports, weaponry, danger, and excitement. She couldn’t wait to meet them. But she was still anxious as hell about it.
She turned at a knock on the door, opening it to the tall, thin crewman who’d escorted her there earlier. He stared at her with a bland expression on his gaunt face.
“Morning, miss. They’ve asked for everyone to come up on deck now.”
Gina nodded and followed him up the stairs and onto the top deck. A group of about twenty people had already assembled at the other end of the wide stern, so she headed in their direction. Heads turned as she approached. She was used to being stared at, but their looks were more of curiosity rather than of fans who’d caught a glimpse of their favorite star. They were all probably wondering what an actress was doing on this adventure. Maybe they thought she was there to pull in ratings and nothing more. Most people didn’t bother to look beyond the surface of her press bio.
Good. Let them wonder. Wouldn’t be the first time people misjudged her.
An older gentleman approached her. Rather distinguished looking, he carried himself with an air of confidence. His thick, wavy, almost white hair was swept back off his well tanned face, his dark, penetrating eyes were almost black, and his gentle smile put her immediately at ease. “Gina, I’m Louis, your host.”
Noting the slight British accent, she shook his hand, recognizing his name from the public relations packet. “Good morning, Louis. Thank you for inviting me.”
“We’re delighted you agreed to participate. Let me introduce you to a few of the others.”
He tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and walked her over to a small group gathered near a table of coffee and breakfast foods. “Everyone, I’m sure Gina Bliss from Los Angeles needs no introduction, as her films are known worldwide. Gina, these are some of your competitors. Olivia is from San Francisco, Ryder hails from Texas, Jake is from New York, Shay is from Georgia and Trace is our Australian. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to get to know everyone more thoroughly on the two-day sail to the island. For starters, help yourself to something to eat and drink.”
Gina smiled and greeted the group. There were others, too, so many names she knew she’d never remember them all. As Lou walked away, her gaze caught a man who stood back from the crowd. Someone Louis hadn’t introduced her to.
Dressed in a black sleeveless shirt, black fatigue pants, and lace-up military-style boots, he leaned against the railing and surveyed the group, a lazy, bored expression on his face. A gray wisp of smoke from a fat cigar trailed circles into the pristine air above his dark head.
He was gorgeous. Not that Gina usually noticed that kind of thing. She was surrounded by men more beautiful than she on a daily basis. But this guy had a rugged, ugly beauty. Manly. A stubble of beard covered his square jaw and his nose looked a bit crooked. His eyes were a stormy gray, his brows a little too thick. If she had to cast him in a role in a movie he’d probably be the bad guy.
She always loved the bad guys.
It was his lack of absolute perfection that made him look so damn…perfect. Maybe she’d been surrounded by the pretty boys too long and craved a real man for a change.
“Hot, isn’t he?”
Gina turned to the petite blonde who had moved next to her, her face all big blue eyes, full lips and white teeth. When she spoke, it was pure southern accent.
“I’m Shay,” the woman said, sliding her hand into Gina’s.
Gina shook Shay’s hand. “Great to meet you. And yes, he is.” She turned away from Mr. Dark and Gorgeous and focused on Shay so she wouldn’t look like she was obviously drooling over the man. “So who is he?”
Shay shrugged. “Don’t know. He’s been watching all of us but hasn’t come by and introduced himself yet.”
“Very,” another female voice said. A beautiful woman with golden eyes and raven hair spoke to them in a quiet, gravelly voice. “I’m Olivia.”
Gina grinned. “Nice to meet you, Olivia. So, not much has changed in the world of women over the centuries, has it?”
“Hell, no,” Shay said. “This ship is filled with some seriously good-looking men. We can’t help it if we look.”
“I’m just sizing up the competition,” Olivia said with a shrug.
“Uh-huh,” Gina replied with a smirk. She suddenly felt like a teenager ogling the cute boys at the school dance. Of course when she was a teenager she hadn’t gone to the school dances, so she’d never had a chance to check out the boys. When other girls were busy primping for proms, she was already in front of the camera, her acting career taking off.
Never too late to make up for lost time, right? She slanted a glance at the man in black, then mentally cursed when his lips curled in a slight smile. He’d caught her looking.
She had the ridiculous urge to smooth back her hair, stick out her chest and lick her lips. How old was she, anyway? Thirteen? Instead, she tried to affect a casual, noncommittal pose.
Honestly. She wasn’t here to hunt down a guy. She was after a prize.
And that was all she was here for.
But then the man in black pushed off the railing and started toward them with all the predatory grace of a tiger on the prowl. Her heart lodged in her throat and her pulse kicked up a few more notches.
What was wrong with her, anyway?
“He’s coming over here, and he’s looking right at you,” Shay said.
“He is not,” she whispered.
“Shay’s right,” Olivia said. “He’s zeroed in on you like radar, Gina.”
Gina looked at Shay and Olivia and shook her head, suddenly speechless.
He chewed on the cigar like he had some kind of oral fixation. She would not keep looking at his mouth, even if he did have lips too full for a man. Lips made to do wicked things to a woman’s body. Soft lips, despite the scratchy stubble surrounding them.
“Let me introduce you to Derek Marks,” Louis said, coming up behind them. “Derek works for me. He’ll be helping me run the competition.”
“Mornin’ ladies,” Derek said, pulling the cigar out of his mouth. “I’ll be training you, running the competition, and making sure you follow the rules. Think of the island as boot camp and I’m your drill sergeant. I’ll watch you sunrise to sundown, teach you how to defeat the demons, make sure you’re in prime physical shape for battle, and kick your butts every time you fall. But the rewards if you succeed will be great. In short, I’ll be both your heaven and your hell.”
When his gaze shot to her, Gina felt a spark of heat sizzle from her belly and straight south. An achy, uncomfortable feeling of awareness.
A girly, feminine feeling.
And she didn’t like it one damn bit.