Rule Breakers, Soul Takers Book Cover Rule Breakers, Soul Takers
Hell Runners Book 1
Jacqueline Jayne
Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Hartwood Publishing
September 12, 2017
311

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Rule Breakers, Soul Takers by Jacqueline Jayne

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Book Blurb:

For more than a hundred years, gifted humans of the uber-elite, ultra-secret Hell Runners Society have sworn to rescue lost souls from the First Ring of Hell. Thousands of misguided spirits have been saved and sent onto Heaven without one Soul Saver ever questioning the Society’s authority.

Until now.

Prudence Luckett trained almost her entire life to earn the prestigious position of Soul Saver. Just like her father. But once Jack Luckett became Chancellor, he wielded his power to prevent his daughter entering Hell’s First Ring. Her career stunted. Without explanation. Bent on circumventing her father’s orders, Pru swallows her pride and approaches Hell Runner’s only-ever demoted Soul Saver with a proposition. Though as arrogant and stubborn as he is sexy, she’s certain he’s like her—desperate to regain his good reputation as she is to create one.

Jesse Thorne rescued more souls than anyone else in the Society’s history, but lost everyone’s respect the day his former partner decided to punt the rules. Though forbidden by the boss, his partner chose to remain behind the Gate and search for the Legendary Door connecting Heaven to Hell. Jesse didn’t agree with his decision, but he kept his friend’s secret. The backlash resulted in accusations of negligence for leaving his partner behind. Worse still, he suffered a total shunning by all the other Soul Savers.

All, except one. The Chancellor’s irrepressible and smokin’ hot daughter, offering him a chance at redemption.

He accepts Prudence as his new partner and together they storm Hell, saving more souls than ever. Their bond is immediate and charged with delicious sexual tension. But at the instruction of a council elder, she drinks holy water. The result is a new and powerful weapon—she burns demons with her sweat.

And Jesse.

Possessed by a demon as a teenager, a stain remains that marks him as one of Hell’s own. The stain enables him to see hidden demons, but Prudence must keep her distance if he wants to maintain his secret. And his skin. No kissing. No touching. No future.

Complications arise when his old partner returns, swearing he can find Heaven’s Door, but the ancient prophecy requires use of all their unique gifts, including the love growing between Jesse and Prudence. Against the rules, they help search for Heaven’s Door and navigate the dangers of Hell’s deeper rings. The deeper they go, the more secrets are revealed and the deeper they fall into love.

In a showdown that locks horns with the Chancellor and the demon from Jesse’s past, they find the key that will open Heaven’s Door. And the chance to free Jesse from his eternal curse.

But will the pull of Heaven pull them apart, separating them forever?

Excerpt:

“Do you know why I snuck over to Dad’s office?” Prudence didn’t wait for a reply. “To fight for my right to be in the field, like youshould’ve been doing. Once I overheard you resigned, everything changed. It’s criminal for you to leave the Hell Runners. And…” She hesitated, pursing her plump lips. “I care about what happens to you.”

“Really?” Jesse released her arm and cocked one eyebrow.

“Yeah, even if we’re not friends.” The rims of her ears pinked up. “Friends or not, Hell Runners are family.” She sighed. “And we’re a lot alike, not that you’d admit it.”

No, they weren’t. She wasn’t cursed. “Take some good advice. Don’t bother to care. About anyone.” He balled up a handful of briefs. “I’m getting out of here.”

“Come on—you don’t believe that, now.”

“Stop reading me.” Jesse aimed his most threatening glare at her.

“I’m not reading you. I don’t break the rules.”

His blood raced. He’d slipped, and she caught him. “Get out.” He pulled his duffel bag across the bed and ripped two shirts from their hangers at one time.

“Seriously? You can’t turn this down.” She whipped the bag off the bed, her eyes blazing. “What are you going to do for a living? You’re twenty-eight years old, and your only job has been as a Hell Runner. Not exactly prime résumé material.”

“Not your worry.”

“But I do.”

He moved to reach around her, and she back-kicked the bag all the way to the nightstand. The restraints on his anger stretched thin enough to snap.

“That’s it.” He marched out of the bedroom, knowing she would dog his every step.

“Running away is not the answer.”

He opened the door, an obvious invitation for her to leave.
Unintimidated, she poked him in the chest. “Un-quit, Jess. Step up and demand what belongs to you.”

“I always demand what belongs to me.” He nabbed her jacket from the sofa. “Right now, I demand my privacy.” Shoving her coat into her middle, he turned Prudence and guided her out of the door.

She strained to speak over her shoulder. “Fine. If you won’t be my partner, I’ll sneak into Hell and find Swift alone. Then everyone will want to be on Team Prudence.”

“Don’t be a fool. You’ve never even run a real mission.”

Like he trained her during demon-ditching, she wiggled out of his grip. “So what? I’m wily, and I’ve got backbone. You used to have one, too.”

“I was a boy. I didn’t know any better.”

“I respect that boy, more than the man you’ve become.”

With her biting remark, he slammed the door in her face. Her audacity riled him more than her father’s pigheaded silence. He scrubbed his cheeks and brow with his hands, smearing a layer of perspiration into his dry eyes. The salt burned, and he stomped into the utilitarian bathroom to splash his face with cold water.

Jesse braced his hands on the sides of the white porcelain sink and gazed into the chisel-edged mirror. Droplets of water dripped off his nose. The down-turned mouth and squinty eyes of a defeated man stared back him. He jerked the towel off the chrome rack and rubbed his face briskly enough to hurt.

Judas Priest. He should have called the cops on her for disturbing the peace. He should have turned a deaf ear to her selfish rationale. He should have been tough and not let Princess get under his skin.

Too late.

Jesse marched into the living room, kicking the wadded mission paper like a soccer ball. Could he trust she’d eventually give up?

Greater than the sum of all of Prudence’s God-given gifts was her bulldog tenacity. He’d no doubt she’d sneak into Hell and hunt for Swift on her own. Between Swift and Prudence, he couldn’t have culled an ounce of common sense.

If by chance she succeeded and Swift conned her into joining his hunt for Heaven’s Door, the pretty rookie might succumb to a life in Hell. Worse still, if the demons captured her, he’d never forgive himself. Even the most gifted Runner wasn’t immune to death.

Prudence needed to be stopped. But how?

He scooped up the wadded paper and took it into the small kitchen. He could at least close one part of his past. Flicking a stove burner to high, the blue flames licked past the wrought iron pot grates. He flattened the wrinkled sheet, prepared to torch the corner and drop it in the sink.

Turning it to ash wouldn’t complete the mission.

But taking a new partner into Hell would.

If he ran this one mission with Prudence, she would realize chasing after Swift by herself was too dangerous. Then he could leave. Leave with a clear conscience.

With a flick of his wrist, he killed the burner and then grabbed his motorcycle keys from the counter and his leather jacket from the back of a kitchen chair. She’d be at her apartment by now, curled up in her pajamas, unless she was more headstrong than he imagined.

It was entirely feasible she could be halfway to the Gate already. Then he’d never find her. In a panic, he flung back the door.

Prudence pushed off the sand-colored brick wall outside his apartment and greeted him with a wide smile. Her arms were wrapped around her middle, and her cheeks were rosy from the chilly air. “Fifteen minutes. Not such a tough sell after all.”

“You didn’t sell me anything.” He closed the door hard behind him. “Here.” He wadded the paper in a loose ball and pitched it to her. “Read it.”

She straightened it under the porch light, the paper crinkling like kindling catching flame.

“What is it?”

“Your first mission.” And your last.

“Does this mean we’re partners?” Her genuine smile would have broken a softer heart.

“It means hang onto your tiara, Princess. Tonight you might lose it.”


About the author:

Jacqueline Jayne is a multi-award winning author of paranormal romance who writes what she loves to read—adventure laced with deep insights on the human condition, and a hard-won happily-ever-after.

Her Hell Runners Series features fearless heroes and clever heroines determined to overthrow Hell’s demons while navigating the emotional ups and downs of falling in love.

Jacqueline enjoys everything sci-fi and paranormal, especially those Winchester Boys, Jon Snow and all things Star Trek. She loves spending time with her sports-crazy husband (even though she doesn’t get football or the infield fly rule) and their two sweet rescue cats.


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