Sugar & Gold
by Emma Scott
Amazon US | Amazon Universal
Nikolai Alexei Young was born with a special gift…one he’d do anything to lose. The heart and soul of every person he comes into contact with is an open book to his heightened senses. Colorful emotions, whispers of thoughts, the sour tastes of old memories…He feels them all. The sci-fi books would call him an empath. For Nikolai, his ability has made him an exile. He roams the U.S. alone, avoiding the glut of life in big cities, and using his innate talents to win money in underground poker games. Just enough to keep going, one town to the next. He has no hope that his life can be anything else, until he meets her…
At nineteen, Fiona Starling was trapped in an ugly, desperate situation until she freed herself the only way she knew how. Now three years later, living outside Savannah, Georgia, she is rebuilding her life on her own terms; seizing every moment and saving every penny so that she might fulfill her dream of moving to the raw wilderness of Costa Rica. But behind her carefree smile beats the heart of a lonely young woman haunted by her past, until a chance encounter with a tattooed stranger changes everything…
Fiona takes Nikolai under her roof for three sultry nights, waiting out the rain of a summer storm. She grows more and more fascinated by this brooding stranger with whom she shares an intense physical connection—a connection so strong, she wonders if there is something between them beyond lust and passion. Nikolai is shocked to discover that Fiona calms the raging turmoil in his heart. She alone silences the din of other people’s lives, and envelops him in the sweet beauty of her inner self. Every moment he’s with her—every touch of her skin—brings him closer to the peace that’s been eluding him his entire life.
But Fiona harbors secrets that she is too terrified to reveal. After Nikolai confesses his unique ability, she is caught between wanting to believe him and fearing he’ll eventually unearth her own dark past. When the unthinkable happens, Fiona’s plans come crashing down, and Nikolai discovers his hated ability might be the only thing that can save the woman he loves.
Sugar & Gold is a STANDALONE new adult romance with shades of the paranormal. Intended for readers 18 and up.
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5 “pink and gold” stars
“I want to walk in the sunshine with you.”
One word – LOVE! Love the story, love the characters, love the emotion, love the supernatural element!! I love it all. This gorgeously written story is raw, real, and beautifully poignant. It will fill your heart completely, show you true love, and make you believe in magic.
Nikolai is a wanderer with a unique ability to read people and situations by seeing and tasting the emotion people experience. He doesn’t understand why he has this ability nor does he want it. He calls it the ken and would do anything for peace and quiet. Fiona has a past that haunts her. She is hiding something and doesn’t fully open up to anyone. All she wants freedom and happiness and feels her only chance is to leave her past behind to find something more.
When reading an Emma Scott book, you can’t help but be moved by her words. Her rich imagination will take your breath away and leave you misty eyed with her spellbinding tales. Fascinating from the start, you quickly find yourself immersed in this story. It captures your heart and doesn’t let it go. And you won’t want it to. You will want to live inside this story long after you’ve turned the last page.
The storyline is unique and everything is intricately woven together. I love how we are given only tidbits of information as we desperately try to understand the ken and figure out what will happen. Emma Scott eludes to things but the unknown remains and it keeps you guessing until the end. Even the tiniest of detail has a place and significance in the story, and I was in awe as the pieces came together. This stunning story gives you everything yet still renders you speechless. It’s painful, devastating, and heartbreaking but it’s full of acceptance, revelations, and love. So much love.
The characters were amazing! Beautifully broken, I couldn’t help but fall for them as they fell for each other. Nik was fantastic and his compassionate, caring, and selfless nature was pure. He doesn’t abuse or misuse his ability and his innate goodness shines bright. I love that he didn’t even want the ken to tell him about Fiona but rather he wanted her to open up to him first. He believed in her and I loved seeing things through his eyes.
“The colors around her glowed brighter and God, I loved her. I had never loved anything so much in my life as I loved Fiona the moment she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun. ”
His mysterious abilities seem like a curse and you can’t help but feel the pain, fear, frustration, and loneliness that comes with having a gift such as his. His emotions poured from the pages and I hurt for him as he desperately searched for his purpose.
Fiona was beautiful inside and out. Her strength to change her life was remarkable. She didn’t give up even when her past plagues her daily. I knew Fiona deserved freedom and I wanted nothing more than for her to find it. I loved that she didn’t shy away from her feelings and she was honest to herself about what she wanted and how she felt about Nik.
She laid her hand on my chest, over my heart. “Don’t hold back. What you are…this,” she pressed her hand harder. “I want this. You. The power of you…I want all of it.”
These characters touched my heart and I couldn’t help but be fully invested in their lives. Together, they were perfect. I loved that they weren’t judgmental and found comfort within the each other’s arms. They wholly affect each other. The peace she brings to him is the very thing he desires most. He knows exactly what she needs and is willing to do anything thing for her even if it breaks his heart.
The fantastic dialogue and easy interactions made Nik and Fiona’s relationship realistic. It progressed naturally and I felt the pull they had on each other. Watching their feelings and trust grow was beautiful. Their connection is fierce and palpable and I felt the raw desire between them. The sizzling chemistry lights up the page and the sexy time was simply beautiful and still full of intensity, need, and fire. Their love is all-consuming and in being together, they truly found themselves. They could just be and it was beautiful.
We slept in perfect silence that was just us. Him and me. I was his shield, guarding his peace, and he was my foundation, unwavering beneath me.
This story is full of feels and I enjoyed experiencing everything alongside the characters. Memories rip Nik and Fiona from the present to the pain of their pasts and I felt it all. They have overbearing demons that weigh them down and I rejoiced to see them fight. To live. To love.
“I love you just as you are.”
As Fiona and Nik recite these words, I can’t help but feel the same about this story. It was perfect in every way. Bravo, Emma Scott. Bravo.
Sugar & Gold is phenomenal and I am still filled with wonder days after finishing it.
“Gold is the color of love…The kind of love that…transcends.”
*ARC generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*
(These books are inter-connected but can standalone.)
She breathed a genuine laugh and held my gaze. Everything about her was pink; her drink, her hair, the bright halo of glimmering dust that surrounded her.
Kindness, compassion, charity. Those were the feelings I associated with pink.
I hadn’t seen it this strong in anyone in a long time.
Fiona clinked her glass to my bottle. “Thanks for taking care of my over-eager dance partner, Nik. And for the drink.”
She sipped her Cosmo. “Not much of a talker, are you?” Her eyes were impossibly bright, her smile showing a broad mouth and full lips.
“Club’s not a great place for talk,” I said.
“True,” she said, “but here we are.”
Here we are…
A short silence fell.
“Nik,” Fiona mused. “Nik, Nik,” she said again, in a light, sing-song manner. “Short for Nicholas?”
“Nikolai,” I said.
“Oh, I like that.” Her colors warmed and sweetened, like an invitation, drawing me closer. “Are you Russian? You don’t have an accent.”
“My mother is.”
“Do you speak it?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I picked some up.”
She scooted closer on her seat. “Say something in Russian.”
“I’m not picky. I can’t speak a word so anything is going to sound good.”
I thought for a second and then spoke aloud the only thought I had in my head.
“Ti samaya krasivaya devushka na svete.”
Fiona’s smile widened and the bright wisps of her happiness wrapped around me. I wanted to take in more of it. Which made no sense at all. With other women, their scents were so often cloying and unwanted like the air wasn’t mine to breathe.
What the fuck is wrong with you? Get a grip.
I sucked down a long swig of beer. Fiona watched me, her eyebrows raised, then she laughed. “Um, Nik? You realize you’re supposed to tell me what you said, right?”
I shrugged and my lips twitched. “Don’t remember.”
Fiona laughed again. “Liar.”
We both took a sip from our drinks and let a little silence fall between us. A nice silence.
“That was lovely, your Russian,” Fiona said eventually. “Whatever you said, it sounded…sexy.”
My gaze swung to her eyes. “Yeah?”
She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Yeah. I was going to say something harmless like ‘unique’ or ‘exotic’, but I’d rather be honest with you, Nikolai. I don’t like playing games.” Her brow furrowed slightly. “I don’t like it at all.”
I sensed a shadow starting to creep over her. Something old and full of pain. Driving it away suddenly became my only goddamn purpose in life.
“I guess you’re not going to like me much then,” I said. “I play games constantly. Every day.”
A smile crept over her lips. “Is that so?”
“Sure,” I said. “Omaha, Texas Hold’em, stud, draw, lowball, high-low split…”
She laughed, flaring pink again, and the shadow around her retreated. “A joke and a smile too. I was beginning to wonder if you ever smiled.”
I shrugged. “It happens.”
“And those games, they’re all poker, right? You play poker every day?”
“Not every day. Most days.”
“For a living?”
“No, I’m a…” I coughed. “I’m a salesman. Motorcycle parts. I travel a lot for the job, and finding poker games in each city is sort of my hobby.”
My standard lie, though I hated laying it on her. I knew plenty of grinders who lived off their poker winnings, but that was for the love of the game. I played because thanks to the ken it was easy to win, and I’d never cared that it was cheating. It was the only way to put my strange ability to use that I knew of, and it allowed me to give a big fuck you to the universe for cursing me with it in the first place.
But lying to Fiona felt dirty. Even when haunted by bad memories she was luminous, while I was tatted and stained, as if the ink on my hands would bleed out and onto the white of her dress if I touched her.
She cocked her head at me, wearing a perplexed little smile. “You don’t look like a salesman.” Her eyes drifted over my tattooed arms and neck, to the talons piercing my ears. “When I think of ‘traveling salesman’ I picture a middle-aged guy in a suit with a suitcase full of encyclopedias.”
“No suitcase,” I said. “Catalogues and order forms.”
“And you travel a lot?”
“That sounds lonely.”
“You do something long enough, you get used to it.”
“I know what you mean,” Fiona said, a tinge of darkness around her words—that shadow started to creep back until she buried it. “But the poker makes it fun?”
“Breaks up the monotony of the road.”
“Do you make a lot of money?” she said, then laughed, beautiful in her self-consciousness. “Sorry, I’m not asking for your bank balance, I just meant, are you any good at it?”
“I’m really fucking good at it,” I said.
Her eyebrows shot up and she nudged my arm with a laugh. “If you don’t say so yourself.”
“Maybe I feel like being honest with you too.” I could feel where she touched me, a tingling heat that was slow to fade.
“I like that.” She swirled her cherry around in her drink by its stem. “So are you in town, selling motorcycle parts, for very long?”
“Couple of days.”
“I hope the storm doesn’t put a damper on your business.”
“You’re lucky. At my job, we’ve been given the next few days off.”
“You sound bummed about that.”
“Every penny counts.” She met my eye. “I’m moving out of the country very soon and want to save up.”
I took a sip of my beer. I’d known Fiona for five minutes, but the idea of her moving any further away than her seat at the bar filled me with inexplicable dread.
What the fuck is wrong with you?
But it wasn’t what was wrong with me, anymore. It was what was right. The girl exuded a calm that danced along my skin, and when I inhaled, it was like breathing in the scent of something delicious but far away. The thrumming life all around me grew quiet. For the first time, I felt close to peace, and I wanted more.
If I touched her…
“Nikolai?” Her blush matched the color of her drink. She rested her chin in her hand. “Not to sound cheesy but you’re undressing me with your eyes.”
I felt heat creep along my neck and a bumbling apology rose to my mouth. Instead, I held her gaze, leaned closer to her. “You want to know what I said to you in Russian?”
Her eyes were bright and I could feel her draw closer to me. “Yes. Tell me.”
“I said that you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
The deep pink of her darkened to red. Not the ugly red of hate or anger, but the heated red of intense want. Hers matched mine. I wanted that strange sense of peace she exuded, but I wanted to touch her too. To take her hard and lose myself in her completely.
Fiona held my gaze. “I don’t think that’s true, but the way you look at me…I can almost believe it. Like how you watched me on the dance floor. I liked you watching me, Nikolai. It was as if I could feel your eyes on me before I found you.”
You found me…
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About the Author
Emma Scott writes romances with flawed characters, characters with artistic hearts: builders, poets, and writers of various makes and models. Emma loves to write book lovers; those who have found refuge, companionship, and escape in books, much as we all do in real life. She digs realism, honesty, authenticity in storytelling. She also loves to write about enduring love, soul-deep love, in as real a setting as possible, but with big smooshy HEAs. Emma believes in diversity, open-mindedness, and inclusion. She adores sweetness mixed with steam, love conquering all, and above all, hope. Love always wins.