Never Again (Wizards of Nevermore Series #1)

Never Again (Wizards of Nevermore Series #1)

by Michele Bardsley

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Welcome to Nevermore, Texas, population 503, where witches and wizards live side by side with humans, and where witch Lucy Rackmore is in trouble. Ever since her former lover snuffed out her magical abilities, everyone in town is looking to settle a score with her family. And Lucy's only hope for survival may be her ex-brother-in-law-whom her sister betrayed and nearly killed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451232755
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/01/2011
Series: Wizards of Nevermore Series , #1
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 408,687
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michele Bardsley lives with her husband, their two children, and Her Highnesses Isis and Cleopatra, two of the most spoiled Bengal cats on the planet.

Read an Excerpt


Ten years ago . . .

Gray Calhoun shut the front door behind him and paused in the foyer, his skin prickling. The entire house was dark and quiet. Typically, their housekeeper greeted him, standing as his wife’s sentry to make sure he took off his shoes and put away his Court robes. It was strange not to hear Cook’s usual dinner-preparation noises—pots banging and Swedish curse words flying.

The silence—and the sense of emptiness—unsettled him.

“Kerren?” he called out.

“Upstairs,” she answered.

He breathed a sigh of relief. This morning, after the shocking revelation about the Rackmores hit the Grand Court’s chambers, she’d called him before he’d even gotten their home number dialed. “Stay there, Gray. Do your job. I’m fine. I have you, remember?”

“Damn the Grand Court,” he’d said, and she’d laughed, then made him promise not to come home early. He wanted to hold his wife, and tell her he didn’t care that she was a Rackmore. He loved her—and love meant loyalty. His heart aching, he moved toward the staircase.

“Don’t you dare come up here with those shoes on!”

He looked down at the foot hovering over the first polished wood stair, and chuckled. The knots in his stomach unfurled. Feeling lighter in spirit, he returned to the foyer and toed off his shoes.

They’d been married for nearly two years, after a whirlwind six-month courtship. Kerren’s parents had welcomed their engagement announcement far more easily than his mother. Leticia Calhoun had thrown every excuse possible at him:You’re too young. You’re too new to the Grand Court. You’re a Dragon. She’s a Raven. And on and on. Eventually, though, she’d given her blessing.

Despite his mother’s worries, he was happily married, and his career was on the fast track. His mediation of several ongoing internal disputes within the House of Dragons led to unheard-of cooperation, and creative resolutions. The success of those negotiations gained him many friends, a very few enemies, and, just last week, the highest accolade offered by any House: Wizard of Honor.

He put his shoes in the foyer closet, and took off his robes, hanging them up. He probably shouldn’t have been surprised that his wife had given the staff the day off. When the world felt the reverberations of what some were calling the “great reckoning,” all hell had broken loose.

The wealth of every single Rackmore had disappeared.

All day, details had been plucked from speculation and rumors until an enterprising scholar had dug through the Great Library’s archives. He’d found a single diary entry from Pickwith Rackmore, Earl of Mersey—a well-known Raven who’d risen in that House’s ranks quickly in the sixteenth century. Pride radiated in the words the man wrote about a ritual in which his entire family had called forth a demon lord. They’d made a bargain for wealth—a whole “spin straw into gold” scenario that would last five hundred years. The most sickening part detailed the sacrifice of the earl’s youngest daughter and her husband.

They hadn’t cared that later generations would reap what they had sown. Death magic and collusion with demons were the two biggest sins a magical could commit. And not only had the Earl of Mersey and his family done both, but they’d also forever intertwined themselves with the House of Ravens.

The fallout would be tremendous.

But those were worries for later. Now he wanted to focus on the needs of his beautiful wife. Kerren was strong-willed and practical. If there was any Rackmore who could weather the storm, it would be her.

Besides, she had him—and he would never abandon her.

Gray took the stairs two at a time. It was dark upstairs, too, but he managed to find his way. Kerren stood in the middle of their richly appointed bedroom, which was cast in shadows, thanks to the single bedside lamp she’d left on.

Kerren was dressed in a diaphanous silver gown that clung to her curves, and offered him a feast. He knew well what lay underneath that simple dress, and he couldn’t wait to take it off her. She was so lovely. Her long blond hair hung in silky curls that draped her shoulders. One hand reached out for him, while the other stayed behind her back.

“What are you hiding?” he asked, amused. It was a game they often played. Sometimes, she had a can of whipped cream or a jar of caramel, and other times, she presented him with trinkets she’d found on her shopping excursions.

“It’s a surprise,” she said coyly.

“Can’t wait,” he murmured, leaning down to brush his lips across hers. “How’s your family?”

“Oh, fine,” she said. “They’ve already made arrangements—but they did say thank you for offering them the spare rooms.”

“Our house is big enough for ten people.”

She sighed. “You’re not going to talk about having babies again, are you?”

“No,” said Gray, though he very much wanted to start a family. Kerren said she wanted children, but she always tabled the topic whenever he broached it. Instead of saying anything else, he lowered his head to give her a proper kiss.

“Gray,” she murmured, stalling his progress.

He looked up, brows raised. “Hmm?”

“You would do anything for me, wouldn’t you?”

“Of course,” he said instantly.

She stepped out of his embrace, but kept her hand on his forearm. Her eyes gleamed. “I had hoped to keep you,” she said with a regretful smile.

Before he could respond to such a strange declaration, she placed that pale, perfect hand against his chest and whispered, “Kahl.”

Pain radiated through him, clogging his throat, throbbing in his eyes, bubbling in his veins. He tried to scream, but no sound could escape through the agony crawling up his windpipe.

His vision grayed at the edges as he stared down at his wife.

“You said you’d do anything for me.” The arm she’d had tucked behind her swung up in a wide arc. In her hand, she clasped an obsidian cudgel. The smooth stone smacked him hard in the temple.

Stars exploded behind his eyes.

Then the world went black.

Gray awoke to the stench of sulfur, and the chill of stone beneath his bare skin. His wrists and ankles were manacled to the granite. He felt the dark magic pulsing in the metal, and the thick ugliness of it stifling the room. His right side burned, as though acid had been dribbled from his temple to his shoulder.

He tried to call his magic, but it was useless. The metal dampened his abilities. Besides, not only was there no living thing from which to borrow energy, but also the negative vibrations of this prison suffocated any hint of good.

Bile rose in his throat.

“The heart of a Dragon.” Kerren’s voice issued from the darkness, seconds ahead of the woman. As she walked toward him, looking coldly beautiful in that damned silver gown, torches flamed to life. He could see now that he was in a small cavern, the craggy walls a mixture of black and red. The rectangular rock on which he was pinned was the centerpiece. “All that my lord wanted was me—and the heart of a Dragon.”

“Your lord?” he rasped. Betrayal sat like an anvil on his chest. “What have you done, Kerren?”

“What I must.” She stopped near the edge of the altar and let her gaze rove his naked body. “Such a shameful waste.” She trailed a hand down his inner thigh, then encircled his hip with a sharp nail.

He hissed in pain.

She grinned, and he saw the madness glittering in those chocolate brown eyes, the hint of crazy proffered by that cruel mouth. Oh, Goddess. Not Kerren. Not his wife. “This is a nightmare,” he whispered.

“Not yet,” she said. “You know, Gray, you were very sweet to be so worried about me.” She patted the wound she’d caused on his hip. “The Rackmores weren’t all that interested in their own history—not until today. All our collective paperwork was tossed into our private archives at the Great Library. Piles and piles of moldering ledgers and diaries and personal letters. When I was seventeen, a small indiscretion of mine angered my father so much, he decided to punish me.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

She spread her fingers against his lips. “Shush. I’m telling a story. I’m not without compassion, you see. I thought you should know why you’re going to die.”

The blood drained from his face. Kerren wanted to kill him? Why?

“No more questions, Gray.” Her gaze was that of a stranger, as hard and cold as muddy ice. “If you interrupt me again, I’ll stab you through the heart, and you can go to the darkness not knowing a gods-be-damned thing.”

He pressed his lips together, mostly because he didn’t want to feel the soft reminders of comfort and pleasure the treacherous woman had once given to him. She feathered her fingertips down his cheek and let them rest on his aching shoulder as she leaned against the altar. He knew he should try to think of ways to free himself, or reason with her, but shock had numbed him. His thought processes felt sluggish, and his body clumsy, probably the result of the poisonous magic that surrounded him.

“My punishment was to organize the archives. It took a whole summer. My stupid baby sister went to Paris while I toiled away in that tomb. But I found some very interesting things. For instance, the Earl of Mersey’s diary, his personal spellbook, and a little prophecy he’d written before his death. Imagine my surprise when I read all about the demon bargain and found out that in a few short years, I would be penniless.

“Me? Poor? I don’t think so. I used the same summoning spell, and called forth my own demon lord. He’s very handsome and virile—a real devil in bed.” She winked at him, and nausea churned in his guts. “In exchange for me keeping my wealth and accumulated pretties, all he wanted—other than me, of course—was the heart of a Dragon. Your heart, to be precise.”

“You don’t love me.” The realization slashed at him, and self-pity was the salt on those wounds. Everything he’d believed about the woman he’d married was wrong. He’d been fooled and cuckolded.

Kerren watched the play of emotions on his face with avid interest, and Gray realized he was giving his sociopathic wife quite the show. He did his best to blank his features, but she merely laughed. “You can’t hide from me. Or from destiny.”

Then she produced a wicked dagger and pressed it against his chest. Blood welled where it bit into his skin.

“I liked you. I enjoyed you. I fucked you.” She leaned close, her breath ghosting over his mouth. “But no, my darling, I never loved you.”

“Please,” he said as tears fell. He wasn’t sure what he was begging for—mercy or death—but he couldn’t stop the rejoinders. “Please, Kerren. Please.”

Disgust entered her gaze. She curled back her lips. “I never expected you to simper. You’re pathetic.” Then she raised the dagger and screamed, “For Kahl!”

Her aim was true, vicious, and supernaturally strong.

The double-bladed dagger slid through muscle, bone, heart, lung, flesh. He heard the tip of the blade scratch the stone; then he managed one hoarse scream before the sharp agony abruptly faded.

In the viscid dark of hell, Gray’s soul struggled.

Trapped, whispered a thousand voices, betrayed. You are nothing. No one. You are unloved. Unwelcome. Unheralded.

No, he screamed. I am Gray Calhoun. I am a Dragon. I will live.

Become one with us. You are the dark. You will always be the dark.

Pain ripped through him. Though he had no body now, the agony was just as real. He accepted every lightning bolt of anguish, every jagged strike of terror. I will not bow to you, he yelled. You will not break me!

Then the monster appeared. Its awful smile displayed razor-sharp rows of bloodstained teeth. Gray could discern no other form to go with its terrifying visage—just soulless black eyes, leathery skin, and that terrible grin.

The heart, it demanded, give me the heart.

I will not give you anything. Ever. Gray battled through the sludge, exerting his will. I belong to the Goddess. I call upon the blood of my ancestors, the righteousness of all good Dragons, to help me.

You are the dark, cried the voices, you are one of us.

Light burst through the blackness, and the voices screamed in frustration.

A huge claw reached through golden brightness and grabbed Gray. He was slammed back into his body. The knife was expelled, the horrific wound closed, the chains shattered, and then he was lifted from the altar, and shoved up, up, up through fire, through rock, through earth, until he came to rest on soft, dewy grass.

Gray took a shuddering breath and opened his eyes. Above him, he saw leafy tree branches reaching up as if trying to tickle the full moon. A glance around confirmed he was in some sort of wooded clearing—which could be located in California or France or anywhere in between. He had no idea where he was, only that he was free.

Within himself, he felt the slither of scales, the heat and shape of something foreign.

He had escaped hell.

But he had not come out alone.


Excerpted from "Never Again"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Michele Bardsley.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Never Again 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
House of Dragons wizard Gray Calhoun is the guardian of Nevermore, Texas with the Census Bureau proclaiming the population in triple digits. However, since his wife betrayed him to a demon, he has neglected his duties as he no longer cares about responsibility. His former impoverished sister-in-law House of Ravens witch Lucinda Rackmore arrives in Nevermore. She is cursed and needs Gray's help, as her former lover betrayed her by extinguishing her magical abilities. Now everyone loathes the Rackmore family so with her mundane she is a target of their frustrations. Since the betrayal, Gray sees everything black and white so wants nothing to do with anyone related to his former spouse. However, he also admits to his chagrin he is attracted to Lucinda and cannot prevent himself from protecting her and trying to assist her. The tone of Nevermore is totally opposite of the Broken Heart series as the new saga is very dark (fitting of Edgar Allen Poe) while the Oklahoma tales were lighthearted frolics in which bites were sexually bloodless. The world of the Wizards of Nevermore is refreshingly new and fully developed yet interwoven inside the fast-paced story line. Although the climax is somewhat a disappointment as the audience will have expected much more after such a strong plot, readers will appreciate this small town second chance romantic fantasy. Harriet Klausner
ReadingOverTV More than 1 year ago
This book was so much fun to read. Michelle Bardsley does a fantastic job of laying out this new town of wacky questionable residents. Are they human or something else? Characters are engaging, fun, and just overall entertaining. Loved it! A new series by Michelle that I'm looking forward to finding in the bookstore or online.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intriguing paranormal romance. Love the relationship between Gray and Lucy and Taylor and Gray.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was a great book. highly recommend. you will love it. first time ever reading michele bardsley and can't wait to read next book in the series.
firefoxaz More than 1 year ago
I have been reading historical romance for awhile & then changed to paranormal romance. While looking for another author I came across these books. I just couldn't put them down and certainly can't wait for more from Michele Bardsley. Her characters are very vivid and you get the feeling that you are part of the book. I also recommend the next book in the series "Now or Never" and can't wait for the next. Enjoy your trip
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down. Great start to a series, can't wait for more. Mystery,murder, love, and magic: potent combination.
Floranze_Quint More than 1 year ago
This is my first exposure to Michele Bardsley, but it won't be my last!!! I loved the characters and the new world she's created. What a wonderful new series (I hope)! I can't wait for Ms. Bardsley to take me back to Nevermore!
SuSuMa More than 1 year ago
Thank goodness Michele Bardsley has started another series. I pray that this is a nice, long series. She is an excellent writer. I try to read everything that I can of hers.
BEAD More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed all of Michele Bardsley's books and this one did not disappoint. I found the backstory to be compelling and loved the characters. The love story was good and I can't wait to read the next one. I found this to be a fresh and interesting take on magical/paranormal beings. I highly recommend this one!
thehistorychic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read from May 15 to 27, 2012Read for FunOverall Rating 4.25Story Rating 4.50Character Rating 4.00First Thought when finished: I would love to visit Nevermore but I am more interested in exactly how much more evil there is to unbury there!What I Loved: Oddly enough I really loved the mystery in Never Again. I have been on a mystery/thriller kick and while this is a romance--the mystery was intriguing and I didn't figure it out till about the time the characters did. I love when that happens while reading! It really pulls me in and keeps me interested. The story was brilliantly crafted and played out in a methodical way that kept you pulled in from beginning to end. I loved that there was a nice balance of paranormal and mundane. I never felt like I was an outsider to the story but could be part of it if I found Nevermore.What I Liked: The characters in Nevermore were really well done. While I didn't fall in love with the romance between Lucy and Gray, I did like them together. I would have liked a little more push/pull between them but since them getting together more quickly led to more focus on the story--I was pleased. I also liked the whole town of Nevermore and their quirky personas. I think everyone (good, bad, inbetween) added to the uniqueness and appeal of the novel!Final Thoughts: I recommend Never Again to both PNR readers and those that like a little Suspense and Mystery in their romance.
Brie.Clementine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book because the synopsis sounded interesting, but it was an impulsive buy because I didn¿t know anything about the author or the book. I was pleasantly surprised because it turned out to be quite an interesting book.Grey is a powerful wizard that has been betrayed by his wife, and I¿m not talking about cheating, I¿m talking about sacrificing him to a demon (and also cheating on him with said demon¿). Fast forward ten years later and Grey is now living like a recluse who wants to be left alone. On the other hand we have Lucinda, she is the little sister of Grey¿s wife, and is in real trouble. Her last hope is Grey, but when she asks him for help he adamantly refuses. Obviously Grey feels guilty and decides to help her but this might prove to be very difficult since Lucinda¿s problems are bigger than they seem.This book is an urban fantasy with a small town setting. It has the interesting premise of wizards and witches live among humans in a peaceful and harmonic way. The magic world has a slightly different set of rules and laws, but it doesn¿t get in the way of regular humans. Now, to me the book lacked a bit on the epic-feel that I usually get from urban fantasy. The world-building was very interesting and fairly complex, but it wasn¿t big on the action and the dark evil threat was missing. The book read more like a small-town romance with a suspenseful plot but with a magic twist. I liked it, but it wasn¿t what I¿m used to and it might throw you a bit if you are an urban fantasy fan.I liked Lucy a lot. She was very spoiled when she was younger but due to a series of unfortunate events, and a curse that runs through her family, she had to mature a lot. She doesn't dwell on her misery and is just trying to survive. She was likeable, but was more like a regular contemporary romance heroine than an urban fantasy kick-ass one. Since I don¿t particularly like kick-ass heroines I was perfectly fine with it.Grey was also likeable. He had his heart broken and it took him some time to get over the betrayal. He was bitter and cranky. When Lucy asks for his help he realizes that he was being a selfish bastard. He was neglecting the town and his responsibilities towards it, as well as alienating his friends. It was nice to see how his character developed. What I didn't like was that he goes from hating Lucy to loving her in a matter of days. Overall the romantic aspect of the book was disappointing. There wasn¿t really any conflict or any emotional struggle. Grey goes from grumpy wizard to protective alpha-male in the blink of an eye, and Lucy goes from independent witch to damsel in distress and perfect housewife even faster.The secondary characters were as interesting as the main couple. Because this is a book set in a small town you know that we are going to get a lot of quirky characters. There is the sheriff who is obviously going to be the hero of the next book. There is the crazy evil woman who runs the dinner. There are farmers, a lot of gossipers, and everything else you might expect from a small town.I liked the book. I think this series has a lot of potential, and judging by the little sneak peek that we get of the second book I think it will just get better and better. As I said is not your regular urban fantasy, but it was appealing. And I¿m curious to see what¿s coming next. If you are in the mood for a quick read, if you like books set in small towns and if you like wizards, witches and magic spells, then you should definitely check it out.
blodeuedd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My thoughts:What a light and easy read. I read it in no time at all, and I do like books like that. Sometimes you just need them.Lucy was a woman who had made some bad choices. But she didn't know better and she is pretty damaged cos of that creep Bernard. But she was nice and tough. Then there is Gray who is messed up too because of the whole sacrifice thing. Still he slowly becomes himself again and he is one great guy. Now these two together, sure they fell in lust and love pretty fast, but I liked that. It's magic, and the magic wanted them together. Passion is promised in this one.Then there is the danger. Someone is doing something for some reason in Nevermore. Who, oh I had no idea. That mystery was a good part of the plot since it does include Gray in it.The world building was nice. Magic and normal people side by side. Houses that rule those with powers, demons that are wicked and all those nice things. Nevermore was a good town, pretty beaten down but I am sure it will get back on its feet after this. The world felt real, and not too much.Best thing, more to come, wicked older sister has plans, and something is going to happen.Conclusion:Did I mention light, yes I did, if you want a passionate fast read with magic and some danger thrown in then this might be the book for you. An interesting book, and I would like to read more about Nevermore.
Tamye More than 1 year ago
I saw this book at the library and picked it up because I love everything else I've read by this author. Which is why I was looking to see what they had of hers. I hadn't read this series yet, so needless-to-say, I was beyond pleased to find the first book of the series sitting on the shelf waiting for me to take it home. I must warn you this is not a book to pick up and read here and there. This is a pick it up, start reading and forget the rest of the world. Yep, this baby sucked me in and held me captive until the very last page. I was entranced with the town of Nevermore and its diverse townsfolk. I foresee many books in this series. I fell in love with Lucy and Gray. They have made mistakes in the past, but are trying to rectify them and to be better people. Well Lucy is mainly trying to survive without bringing harm to others, because of the nasty baggage of her past. Lucy opens Grays eyes to the fact that he has has been a neglectful guardian due to his pain and inability to get past the betrayals of his past. The characters that support the story are varied, unique, and interesting. The villains ran from pathetic to truly nasty. I really liked the how some of them received their just demise. But we have some left for a long back-story. I liked this book so much I logged onto Barnes & Noble as soon as I finished reading the first book to find the next book in the series.
happyendingamust More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable. I won't rush right out to buy the rest of the series, but I will pick them up eventually.
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