The Secret Door
by Stephanie Burkhart
It's 1927 and Lord Zoltan Kristos, Hungary's Minister of the Interior, takes great pains to hide the fact he's a werewolf from the world. Despite his efforts, he's recognized when he goes to the Austrian-Hungarian border to inspect the area for damage from a recent rare earthquake.
Zoltan is accused of stealing Kurt Meklau's witch, Inna, and is recklessly followed to Volturn Manor, a residence belonging to another werewolf family, the Vargas. After a fight with Meklau, Zoltan barely escapes and his adversary is found dead.
Sophia Varga and Tomas Martin find Zoltan. Sophia is determine to attend to Zoltan's injuries and protect her home, but when Kurt's father, Marcus, comes seeking revenge, Sophia is tested like never before. As Zoltan and Sophia work together, attraction and desire flame between them.
Will the secrets Volturn Manor harbors offer Zoltan and Sophia the clues they need to defeat Marcus and give them the opportunity to explore their feelings for one another?
Zoltan stepped into the middle of the area, surveying his surroundings. Sophia placed her candle next to the one on the table.
"Eat, Lord Kristos, the sunset is approaching," said Rita.
Zoltan glanced at Sophia, then Rita, accepting the inevitable, and sat at the table.
"We've got blankets, extra candles, tea, and some food. Rita will help me tonight."
Sophia sat on the cot next to the glass door.
Zoltan shoveled the meal into his mouth. "The room is small."
"It's also safe. Your arm isn't completely healed, and you won't be able to put much
weight on it as a wolf."
For a moment he stared at Sophia intently. "I suppose I'll suffer some discomfort
"Some -- I don't doubt you'll be restless, but trust us. I've got some ointment to help."
Zoltan pushed the empty plate away. "I'm not used to being with humans as a wolf -- only
Sophia left the cot and approached him. Stopping before Zoltan, she held out her hand.
"I'll keep you warm and safe."
He clasped her fingers tightly, looking up into her eyes. "Let me smell you."
She nodded. He sniffed her shoulder, then her wrist. Sophia found the gesture very
animalistic, yet pleasurable despite herself. Satisfied, he turned to Rita. "The wolf is instinctual. It is hard to focus on human thoughts. I must smell your scent as a human to know you mean no harm to me as a wolf."
Rita stepped forward, and despite the apprehension on her face, she held out her wrist. Zoltan drew in her scent, then released her hand. He walked over to the glass and placed his hands on the frame, staring out onto the growing shadows.
"What's wrong?" asked Sophia.
"The transformation is close. I feel the blood rushing through my veins."
Sophia steeled her resolve. He stepped away from her and pressed his back against the
wall. The candlelight fell across his face, creating stark shadows over his high cheekbones. He looked like the devil come to life. Sweat trickled over his brow.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
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Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. She served 11 years in the US Army and currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate and is addicted to coffee. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children's books published with 4RV Publishing.
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Secret Door by Stephanie Burkhart is a 2013 Desert Breeze Publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This fourth installment in the Budapest Moon series takes place in 1927 and tells Sophia's story. Sophia, as you will recall is half human while maintaining the unique eyes of her father, she has retained her humanity. Currently she is enjoying some success as an actress, despite her father's disapproval of her career choice.
Sophia finds herself in a rather awkward position when Zoltan Kristos arrives at her estate in a bad way and needing help for Inna, a witch who is fleeing the arranged marriage to a cruel and wild man/wolf.
The awkwardness is the result of Zoltan's role in what happened to Sophia's mother. However, with her parents absent from the estate she must protect her property from Zoltan's enemies and help keep Inna safe. However, an attraction soon surfaces between Sophia and Zoltan, making this an almost forbidden type of love. Zoltan isn't looking for a long term commitment, but he can't seem to keep from pursuing Sophia, convincing himself an affair is all he is after.
In the meantime old clue surface that could help Zoltan and Sophia uncover the mystery that could solve many riddles about the past and Volturn manor.
This shorter novel in the series is one of the most tense. Zoltan's enemies mean business and are very dangerous. Zolton has wanted to keep his feral nature a secret due to his position, but has also made mistakes and has many regrets. The situation he finds himself in will bring together Sophia's family and several threads from their past, which opens up the possibility of forgiveness and a chance for old wounds and sorrows to heal. Sophia's character is refreshing since she is no shrinking violet and so she keeps Zoltan on his toes. These two have a steamy and sexy chemistry, but they also grow to forge a real bond that goes much deeper than physical attraction.
Being such a short story there were some areas that felt rushed through and I would have liked some parts more fleshed out. Especially the coming together of Sophia's family with Zoltan and dealing with the past, and with Sophia's strained relationship with her parents especially is regards to her career.
What I have enjoyed most about this series is the author's ability to weave a sensual romance alongside an atmospheric Gothic tale, plus add rich historical details. These stories are romantic, but also they are a part of a long running family saga. It is fun to touch base with the characters from other books and see the family survive their challenges and remain strong going into the future. Sometimes I even forgot we were talking about paranormal and mythical creatures because I was so caught up in the drama. So, overall this was another interesting and enjoyable addition to the series.