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?
He looked her over seductively. His heart skipped a beat with desire. She rubbed the lotion into her hands and placed them on his stomach. He groaned, reaching out with his left hand and threading his fingers into her hair, jerking her head back so they were eye-to-eye. She set her jaw. His pulse pounded. Something intense flared between them, yet she kept her hands on his abdomen. Encouraged, Zoltan tugged her toward him, pressing her chest against his. Her nostrils flared and her brow furrowed in confusion.
He stopped, reminding himself he needed to offer a choice. "Do you want me to kiss you?"
"No." The sound of her denial was weak. He held her close.
"Do you want me to release you?"
"How should I solve my predicament?"
"I don't know."
"I do." He leaned close, her sweet fruity scent sending his senses into overdrive. He placed his lips on her jaw and kissed her.
Posted by Melissa Snark on 4th Jun 2013
The Secret Door is an historical paranormal fantasy book set in Hungary during July 1927. The story kicks off with an immediate BANG, taking the reader on a high speed (for the times) car chase upon perilous roads and ending with a brutal fight between two werewolves. Stephanie Burkhart mixes action adventure with Gothic romance and sprinkles in a touch of mystery to create an entertaining tale. This is book four in the Budapest Moon series, but back story is skillfully integrated, and the story may be read as a standalone.
Zoltan Kristos is a dark hero with a checkered past. He is a nobleman and a werewolf, and has committed acts earlier in life, which he has come to regret. His fight with rival werewolf Meklau is over a personal witch, Inna, who possesses the knowledge to administer specific herbs to werewolves to aid in their transformation and healing. During the fight, Meklau is killed, although not directly at Zolton's hands, which brings the wrath of the story's primary antagonist, Marcus, down upon Zolton.
Sophia Varga is the daughter of a werewolf man and a human woman, and the mistress of Volturn Manor. She possesses some wolf traits but remains unable to shift her form to that of a wolf. She is a courageous and resourceful heroine, but untested as the story begins. However, the fast moving plot provides her with plenty of opportunities to prove her worth.
Zolton and Sophia share an immediate attraction. The characters have good chemistry, but I have to confess, the initial romantic scene as shown in the excerpt left me giggling.
She nipped at her lower lip, uncertainty in her eyes. "You're hard," she whispered.
"See what you've done to me."
She raised an eyebrow, her question unspoken.
"I assure you this has not happened before," he said.
What—never?! For a grown man, I'd have expected him to have experienced erections eight to ten times as a day from the onset of puberty and onward. That's one heck of a stoic hero...
All kidding aside, the romance between the hero and heroine is thoroughly enjoyable. The love scenes are sensual, imparting a pleasant sizzle, and nicely interwoven with the fast paced action sequences. The take on werewolves is original but also harkens to traditional horror, and the author does an excellent job of transporting the reader to the post-World War I setting. There were moments when the language choice threw me. The Secret Door is a solid choice for the reader looking for an exciting paranormal story containing both romance and adventure.
Posted by Desert Breeze Publishing for CoffeeTime Romance on 13th Apr 2013
"I like reading stories that take place in other countries and other times, which feels as though I am vacationing to these exotic locales. There is plenty of action and strife in this story as well as softer and tenderer emotions between the couples. It is not simply a love story between the main characters, but it also shows the deeper abiding love between others who have been through their own struggles and came out stronger."
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance &More
Posted by Joy Cagil on 3rd Feb 2013
The Secret Door is the fourth book in the Budapest Moon series. Although the story explores elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, it does probe into the romantic relationships with remarkable insight.
Unlike most Gothic novels, the story takes place in the beginning of the second quarter of the twentieth century. The story opens with an incredible fight when The main character Zoltan Kristos, a Hungarian Minister, is attacked by Meklau, the son of Marcus who is the prince of Ternitz. Meklau falls on broken glass and a shard cuts into his neck, killing him. The reason for the attack was Inna, the witch Zoltan took away from Marcus, with Inna’s consent.
Meklau’s death heightens Marcus’s animosity because, now, his only heir is dead and he is an aged werewolf. His only hope is to sire another son by a young witch, specifically Inna. But then Zoltan is also a werewolf and needs Inna to attend to him, as each werewolf needs a witch to tame his feral nature and take care of his medical needs, and Inna is afraid of Marcus’s clan because they treat their witches with violence.
The site of the attack is in front of Volturn Manor, home to Sophia Varga, Zoltan’s love interest.
Zoltan, however, is a troubled hero. His background is tainted and he feels bad about his past behavior. He also has difficulty with the trust issues, but what Sophia demands is Zoltan’s trust.
Yet, the real story begins here after the attack and Meklau’s death. Will Volturn Manor help the two lovers to settle their differences as it harbors secrets hidden in old books behind a locked door, and will Zoltan be able to defeat Marcus at the end?
The Secret Door’s plot is tightly woven, with referrals to earlier volumes, showing the expertise of this author with interlacing a new story with the older ones. The characters, too, are well drawn, especially the main characters. Even the secondary characters have traits that are believable, should they be placed in a more realistic story.
The romantic scenes are written along the rules of the romance genre, but in no way are they tasteless or overdone.
The story moves along with fast pace, which is somewhat due to its direct, clear language.
Secret Door can be read as a stand-alone or part of the Budapest Moon series. Its exciting action, paranormal elements, and romance will not disappoint a reader.