Demon Within by Rebecca Royce
Dakota Daniels is an exorcist. Or at least she used to be, until a demon destroyed her life, killing her mother and sending her into hiding. She never knows what’s around the next corner or whether she’ll live through the night.
Brady Knox, billionaire tech guru and media darling, is a man used to getting what he wants. Except when it comes to his sister Sydney. She is the secret he never tells a soul. After all, how do you tell the world your sister has been possessed since she was ten years old without seeming like a lunatic?
When Brady seeks out Dakota’s assistance, he expects to get it. When she doesn’t comply, he’s willing to use every resource at his disposal—even if that means seducing her into doing his bidding.
Dakota’s body yearns for Brady but she isn’t easily fooled, and if she decides to help him it will be on her own terms—assuming they can both make it through the night with their souls intact.
Her mother would have said hot weather in February meant the devil had come out to play with the humans for a spell. But the newscasters said climate change was causing the balmy winter nights in Queens.
Maybe they were both right.
Dakota jumped an inch in the air and whirled around, the keys to the nursery school falling from her hand onto the sidewalk, clanking as they hit the ground. Her heart lodged in her stomach as she automatically reached to cover her throat. She didn’t like surprises and she liked being snuck up on even less.
Behind her stood a stranger, illuminated by the overhead light that came on at 6 p.m. every evening. She could see him quite well despite the dimming sunlight and the impending darkness. Tall and broad-shouldered, he filled out his gray suit as though it had been tailor-made for him, which she suspected it had been since it looked just like the ones she saw in advertisements with names like Versace and Armani on them. Hours spent reading fashion magazines coupled with her summer job in a department store had taught her to tell the difference between real and fake couture.
Not wanting to be surprised by a demon she knew she would be ill-prepared to deal with, she turned on her second sight and took a quick glance at his aura. It hurt to open her third eye—not surprising, since it had been eight years since she’d willingly engaged in the activity.
I liked that this novella had an element of horror to it. The premise is that Dakota Daniels is an exorcist who's gone into hiding. Content working at a nursery school, she's propositioned by Brady Knox, a man with more money than God who needs Dakota's help to free his sister from the claws of a demon. Of course, Dakota isn't ready to willingly dive back into her old profession after what happened to her mother. Her resistance leads to a steamy romp and the two of them tackle the monster together.
I enjoyed the author's style, and my only real complaint was that the story was so short. I feel like the adventures of Dakota and Brady could extend into a full novel, or maybe even a short series. Her imagery is vivid, and Miss Royce sticks to pretty standard creepy-crawlies when it comes to the horror element of the demons. The love scene was engaging, and passionate. I'd read more by this author.