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Monday, November 15, 2021

Exclusive Excerpt: Guild Boss (A Harmony Novel Book 15) by Jayne Castle

Jayne Castle Returns
To Her Beloved Harmony Series
For the First Time in Five Years with
Jayne’s devoted readers and speculative romance fans alike will be eager to get their hands on the fifteenth installment in the series after a five-year hiatus following the publication of Illusion Town in 2016. A starred Booklist review praised Illusion Town, writing, “Readers will have a blast with this fast-paced futuristic romantic thriller that delivers the author’s irresistible brand of dry wit and sexy suspense.”

by Jayne Castle 
November 16, 2021
Welcome to Illusion Town on the colony world of Harmony—like Las Vegas on Earth, but way more weird.

Living in this new, alien world doesn’t stop the settlers from trying to re-create what they’ve left behind. Case in point—weddings are still the highlight of any social calendar. But it’s the after-party that turns disastrous for Lucy Bell. Kidnapped and drugged as she leaves the party, she manages to escape—only to find herself lost in the mysterious, alien underground maze of glowing green tunnels beneath Illusion Town. She’s been surviving on determination and cold pizza, scavenged for her by a special dust bunny, when help finally shows up. 
Gabriel Jones is the Ghost Hunter sent to rescue her, but escaping the underground ruins isn’t the end of her troubles—it’s only the beginning. With no rational reason for her abduction, and her sole witness gone on another assignment for the Guild, whispers start circulating that Lucy made it all up. Soon her life unravels until she has nothing left but her pride. The last thing she expects is for Gabriel Jones to come back to town for her.
The Lucy that Gabriel finds is not the same woman he rescued, the one who looked at him as if he were her hero. This Lucy is sharp, angry, and more than a little cynical—instead of awe, she treats him with extreme caution. But a killer is still hunting her, and there aren’t a lot of options when it comes to heroes. Despite her wariness, Gabriel is also the one person who believes Lucy—after all, he was there. He’s determined to help clear her reputation, no matter what it takes. And as the new Guild Boss, his word is law, even in the lawlessness of Illusion Town.

Excerpt from GUILD BOSS by Jayne Castle

Gabriel walked through the last of the fog—and straight into a blaze of blinding camera lights. A hoard of journalists and a crowd of onlookers were waiting just outside the Zone.

Lucy groaned. “This is so embarrassing.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Gabriel said. He strode through the crowd with Lucy in his arms. “It’ll blow over within twenty-four hours. A one-day story.”

“You can put me down now.”

“You’re sure?”


Gabriel set her down carefully on her stilettos.

“Lucy, Lucy, are you okay?”

Lucy looked at the young man running toward her. He was dressed in a leather jacket, jeans, and sneakers. He had a rez-bike helmet under one arm.

“Hey, Runner,” she said. “I’m okay.”

“Me and my crew looked everywhere for you in the Dark Zone. Thought you might have gotten disoriented on the way home.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I ended up in the tunnels. Mr. Jones found me, as you can see.”

Runner switched his attention to Gabriel. “Name’s Runner, Mr. Jones. I operate a delivery service over in the Dark Zone. Lucy’s from the neighborhood. She’s a regular customer. Thanks for saving her.”

Gabriel smiled at Lucy. “Any time.”

A woman called out from the group of onlookers. “Lucy, it’s me, Veronica. Are you all right? We’ve been so worried.”

“I’m okay,” Lucy said. “See you when I get home.”

“Lucy,” a man shouted. “Lucy, darling, your mother and I have been very worried.”

Lucy watched her father make his way through the cluster of journalists and flashing cameras. Heywood Bell was the distinguished and successful CEO of a high-flying corporation. He moved in upper-class circles that were as close to aristocratic as things could get in an officially classless society. Power and authority radiated from him. When he moved through the crowd, everyone automatically stepped aside.

He reached her and pulled her close for a quick hug. “Do you have any idea how scared Deborah and I have been?”

As usual, he implied that his wife had been equally concerned, and as usual, Lucy did not bother to correct him. They both knew the truth. If Deborah Bell cared that her stepdaughter had disappeared, it was only because she was furious about the publicity. Having a member of the Bell family go into the weather channeling business, a career that was only a couple of steps up from the ghost hunter profession, was bad enough. Having that same family member get drunk and lost in the tunnels was downright embarrassing. It certainly did not reflect well on the Bell dynasty.

Theoretically, the inheritance laws protected children born out of wedlock financially, but they could not erase the social stigma of illegitimacy. Lucy knew she had been lucky. When her mother had died, her father had insisted on bringing his thirteen-year-old daughter into his home. A lot of kids in her situation ended up in orphanages or foster care.

In fairness, Deborah had not been a wicked fairy-tale stepmother, but it had been obvious from the start that she would never get past the humiliation of being forced to allow her husband’s illegitimate daughter to live under the same roof as her own legitimate sons.

The solution had turned out to be boarding school. It had worked for both of them, Lucy thought. She had been dreadfully lonely at the fancy academy she had attended, but she and Deborah did not have to sit across from each other at breakfast and dinner and pretend to have a relationship. Deborah did not have to attend school functions or help her stepdaughter deal with the problems involved in surviving the teens and learning to be a woman.

“I’m okay, Dad,” Lucy said.

“What a relief.” Heywood released her and immediately turned to Gabriel. “We can’t thank you enough, Mr. Jones.”

“She was holding her own down there,” Gabriel said.

A journalist thrust a microphone at Gabriel. “I’m with the Curtain, Mr. Jones. Tell us about the rescue operation.”

“It was pretty straightforward,” Gabriel said.

A couple of medics with a gurney made their way through the crowd.

Lucy panicked. “I don’t need an ambulance. Really. I just want to rest.”

“The doctors and your mother insist,” Heywood said. “I agree that it would be best for you to go to a para-psych clinic for observation. You’ve been through a lot. After all, you were down there for three days without food or water.”

“The water wasn’t so hot, but the pizza delivery was great,” Lucy said. “I’m okay. I just want to go home.”

One of the medics came up on her left side. She ignored him.

“I refuse to go to a clinic,” she said. “I know my rights.”

She felt a sharp sting and realized that someone had given her an injection. She turned quickly and saw the medic slipping away into the crowd.

Another medic took his place. “It’s all right, Ms. Bell. We’ll take good care of you.”

“No, damn it,” she said.

She started to struggle, but her words were slurring and she was fading into a dark place. The last thing she saw was Gabriel Jones. He leaned down and touched her hand.

“It’s all right,” he said. “You’re going to be okay. I’ve got another assignment. High priority. But I’ll see you when I finish. Goodbye, Lucy.”

From GUILD BOSS published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Jayne Castle.

About the Author:
Jayne Castle is a pseudonym for Jayne Ann Krentz, the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers. She writes contemporary romance novels under the Krentz name, as well as historical novels under the pseudonym Amanda Quick.

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