Dakotah’s Reading

Three cards.
The past. The present. The future.
The Emperor.

She’s running from the past and an enemy who won’t stop hunting her until she’s dead. He’s determined to avoid a future that includes taking a bride and adapting her to become a vampire’s mate. But the wolves that are an integral part of them both have a different idea—and the tarot cards don’t lie.

Death. Strength. The Emperor. Dakotah and Domino are destined to be together.

Please note: A previous version of this story was published by Ellora’s Cave. It has been extensively revised for this edition.

Connected Books: Carnival Tarot

Book 1

Book 2

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Read an Excerpt

“Where is she?” Domino growled, whirling as his grandmother entered the travel trailer.


“I can see that.” He flashed his fangs. “The Believers are hunting her.”

Helki laughed. “What kind of a mate would she be for you if she couldn’t take care of herself against mere humans?”

Obsidian eyes gleamed with menace. “I have no mate.”

“The cards say otherwise.”

Helki nodded toward the bed, to what remained of Dakotah’s possessions, left there when the dresser and desk had been emptied. A tarot deck was set apart from the rest. Three cards were laid out on the blood-red comforter.

The past, the present, the future.

Death. Strength. The Emperor.

A fourth and fifth card lay on the trailer floor.

The Empress. The World.

They’d tumbled there when he’d handled Dakotah’s things, wishing he had the ability to pick up images from them, or some hint of her whereabouts. He scooped the two cards up and dropped them onto the comforter. “I don’t have time for this foolishness.”

His grandmother shrugged and stepped away from the door, putting herself closer to him and also leaving the exit clear. “Then go.”

Domino snarled. She knew how close he was to turning. He could read it in her eyes, but she tested him anyway.

“I could force you to tell me what I want to know,” he said, obsidian eyes meeting equally dark ones.

She reached up and smoothed calloused fingertips over his cheek. “So like your grandfather. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved you best. Accept my words. Accept your destiny. Both lead to Dakotah. The wolves have already made their choice.”

Domino scowled, bested by his mother’s mother. A woman who had managed to raise Sarael, a stolen kadine, without discovery. A woman who’d seen through the veil of his kind and peered into their world when her daughter, his mother, had been claimed and converted by his father.

“I don’t want a mate.”

Helki cackled. “Neither did your father that night he came to the carnival hunting enemies and was ensnared by my Giselle. What a chase she gave him! What a chase she still gives him!”

Domino grimaced, preferring not to be reminded of The Heat that surrounded his parents. His mother would probably get pregnant soon with another generation of sons, followed by more, two or three sons every quarter of a century for as long as she and his father were reproductively fertile.

“Have your say then,” Domino grumbled.

Helki stroked her calloused fingertips over his cheek again. Her expression turned serious. “I wouldn’t have you spend the future alone, Domino, dependent on the herbs to control The Hunger.” She grimaced with distaste. “Nor would I see you go to the padralls and have them create a kadine for you. You know I abhor the practice of raising a female who is given no freedom to choose her mate, who is allowed no sense of who she really is, and whose very existence is centered around becoming the perfect mate. Accept what the cards say, what the wolf has already told you.”

She stepped closer to the bed. He jammed his hands into his jacket pockets when she separated the third card of those lined up on the comforter and added it to the two he’d brushed against earlier and knocked to the floor. She positioned them in the shape of a V—The Emperor and The Empress connected to each other by The World.

“You see it?” Helki asked him, but he refused to be drawn into her game.

“I see nothing but deepening dusk and growing darkness.”

Helki cackled and tapped The Emperor. “Oh, he is a stubborn one! Forceful and dominating. But what a protector he can be, and a provider for those he cares about.”

Her finger moved to the corner of The Empress. “An interesting card for your mate. She wouldn’t see herself in it, but it contains her. Her life has been one of famine and drought instead of abundance. It’s been marked by harsh choices and betrayal, but her soul hasn’t been tarnished and her secret heart yearns for a man to prove that all men aren’t like those who have come before him.”

Her fingertips touched the comforter, underscoring The World. “The circle is complete. Two separate journeys now become one. The path will lead to pleasure and fulfillment, and produce the next generation of sons, soldiers to follow in their father’s footsteps.” She cackled. “And to be as challenging for their father as he was to his own! You’ll find your mate and those chasing her in the woods between here and the campground.”

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Read the Reviews

“This intense story is consistent with the first two books in Strong’s CARNIVAL TAROT series. She writes so sharply that she pulls the reader into each scene.”

— Leigh Rowling, RT Book Reviews

“With DAKOTAH’S READING, once again Jory Strong has written a perfectly wonderful novel that kept me spellbound from beginning to end. I find myself going back and re-reading this and her other CARNIVAL TAROT books often. I can only hope that there are more characters for her to write about. DAKOTAH’S READING is erotic, fast moving, and just delightful. When I read the last word, I was so satisfied.”

— Talia Ricci, Joyfully Reviewed

“DAKOTAH’S READING is the third book in the CARNIVAL TAROT series and Jory Strong certainly knows how to keep the plot lively. Dakotah is strong and a real fighter where it counts. Domino is sensual and intriguing with an inner beast that longs to be unleashed. Combined, you get a pair that is perfect for each other in every way. Love scenes are wonderfully passionate and full of sensuality. Jory Strong is a talented author who creates tales of paranormal excitement that are sure to be remembered.”

— Angel, Romance Junkies

“DAKOTAH’S READING is the third in the CARNIVAL TAROT, and I hope not the last. We were able to revisit the lives of Kiziah, Fane, Cable, Sarael and Matteo. This time we got to read about Dakotah and her lurking beast. Jory Strong has done a phenomenal job of taking a strong woman and allowing her to start to lean on a strong man without losing any of her strength. It was a lot of fun watching Domino make his opinions known and then find out that what he wanted wasn’t exactly what he needed. Even though this is a part of a series, it can be read alone. I am glad I read them in order, as the past character intervention really added to the story. I am waiting impatiently for more books based in this world.”

— Serena, Fallen Angel Reviews

“Jory Strong once again moves me with her latest release, DAKOTAH’S READING. Filled with emotion, torrid sex, danger, and fascinating characters, this book is a must read for all you paranormal romance fans. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Strong has up her sleeve next.”

— Sinclair Reid, Romance Reviews Today

“DAKOTAH’S READING is the final installment in Jory Strong’s CARNIVAL TAROT series. Readers who have been awaiting the story of the dominant and mysterious Domino will definitely be satisfied with his characterization. He’s an aggressive figure but Dakotah, a warrior in her own right, is more than a match for him. Not only do they create some intense heat together, but they find out that their pasts, and how they have been shaped by those pasts, help to bond them in a way they didn’t think possible. Dakotah and Domino’s allegiance of love and lust provides a strong denouement to this dynamic trilogy. The combination of the wolf and the vampire leads to some very interesting plot points that make DAKOTAH’S READING definitely one of Ms. Strong’s most adventurous works to date.”

— Sarah, A Romance Review

“Jory Strong brings us Book 3 in the CARNIVAL TAROT series. This book has plots within plots that will keep the reader guessing. The book has action, adventure and really hot sex. This is a great follow-up to the previous two books.”

— Candy, eCata Romance Reviews

“Overall, I am just as enthralled by the third book in the CARNIVAL TAROT series as I was by the first and second. If you enjoy strong characters, dominant men, and wildly passionate sex, DAKOTAH’S READING is an inspired read.”

— Francesca Hayne, Just Erotic Romance Reviews

“I enjoyed Dakotah’s and Domino’s story and meeting up with old friends from the previous two books. This was a diverting excursion through a dark and dangerous world where safety can only be found by moving toward your destiny as seen in the tarot cards.”

— Louisa Christina, Erotic-Escapades

“I think this is a marvelous series, and it’s only getting better with each book. DAKOTAH’S READING is a captivating story from the start and continues the tradition of this great series.”

— Julia, The Romance Studio

“This is a gripping paranormal tale that draws you headfirst into a world filled with vampires, dhampires, and werewolves. Ms. Strong unravels a layer at a time taking you deeper inside this carnal world filled with blood and lust. But underneath it all is a story of human emotion, of fear and courage. Simply put it is a story of a man and a woman and falling in love against all odds.”

— Debbie Helton, GottaWriteNetwork.com

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