A MelanieM Review: Kingdom Volume 2 (Kingdom #2) by R.J. Scott

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

The Demon’s Blood

When Simeon, a mountain lion shifter meets Asher, a blood demon, there is instant attraction. But, how can they act on the way they feel when there is an entire kingdom at stake.

The Incubus Agenda

Nicholas Tarrant has worked hard for his position on the Werewolf Coalition. Having access to whatever is happening inside the Coalition is important to the Underground and he’s good at blending in.

Brody Lennox is sent to Glitnir to broker talks of peace but is dragged broken and bloody into the Council chambers. Ludvik wants him killed as a traitor.

Can Nicholas save Brody? Or is Brody too broken to be saved?

The Third Kingdom

The story that began as a simple Retriever case, has become the tale of the fight against a thousand years of evil.

The wolf shifters have Niceros to take down. The Vampire Twins have to deal with Cassius. The Second Kingdom is in disarray and Simeon, Asher and Phin are desperate to calm the unrest.

An alpha needs to accept his role, a blood demon has to become the King he was meant to be, and the Vampire twins have to end the war.

Against all this, Reuben and Ethan, lovers separated for a millennium, are thrown back into a war to end the poison that is Ludvik Peitrol.

In a battle on the barren fields of Arberfan is where this story will end.

Kingdom Volume 2 (Kingdom #2) gathers the last three books of the Kingdom series into one as the saga builds to its series ending finale.  RJ Scott put the narrative sink into these stories, I mean there’s vampires, werewolves, elves, incubi, mages both good and evil, demons, thrones at stake, multiple couples finding love while raising an army and going to war…simply everything and it works.  I was only missing the dragons here.

The final three stories also fills in the rest of the universe building and mythology.  As twins Micah and Joseph, their mates, and the rest of the Resistance race to gather the rest of the races and Councils against Ludvik Peitrol, these stories see at what cost working for the Resistance and that strategy comes at before the final battle can be fought.

Let me take them one by one…

✒︎The Demon’s Blood – 5 stars


When Simeon, a mountain lion shifter meets Asher, a blood demon, there is instant attraction. But, how can they act on the way they feel when there is an entire kingdom at stake.


Asherkan Iblis is a blood demon, a slave to elves and a soldier. He keeps the fact he has royal elvish blood a secret. His half brother returns to broker peace but reveals he is actually there for much more and Asher faces a decision that could lead to his death.


Simeon Blue, brother of the leader of the Feline Guild, mountain lion shifter, is tasked to accompany Phin on a mission over the Red Mountains and into the Second Kingdom. He has to talk to the Guild but all they want to do is stay in isolation and his mission is fraught with danger.


When Simeon is wounded Asher hides him and suddenly, next to a king’s death, a cousin’s hate, and Ludvik’s black magic, love falls on the agenda.

The Demon’s Blood takes two great side characters and brings them into the spotlight they deserve.  Asher the half  bl0od demon, half elf was an intriguing persona the first time we meet him.  Here we get to see the exacting price blood demons pay for their genetics and past as a creation/slave of vampires.  We also learn more about Asher’s background in particular.  He, honestly, could have his own series, he’s that strong a character.  In Simeon, Scott has balanced him with a cat shifter of equal strength and a real solidity that translates successfully that we can understand why he can be a foundation for Asher.  Layer in court politics, intrigue, black magic and hot, sexy, romance?  That makes The Demon’s Blood a great story on every level.   Plus we get all the other characters too.  Love it!


✒︎The Incubus Agenda – Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


When Nicholas Tarrant sees a broken and bloody Brody Lennox dragged into the Werewolf Coalition he has to decide. Stay under cover or help the incubus live. His decision is simple.


Nicholas Tarrant has worked hard for his position on the Werewolf Coalition. Having access to whatever is happening inside the Coalition is important to the Underground and he’s good at blending in.


Brody Lennox is sent to Glitnir to broker talks of peace but is dragged broken and bloody into the Council chambers. Ludvik wants him killed as a traitor.


Can Nicholas save Brody? Or is Brody too broken to be saved?

The Incubus Agenda is great more for who it introduces as well as for the romance between werewolf and incubus, Nick and Brody.  I love that the blurb gives absolutely nothing away as to a major storyline here and neither will it.  Needless to say, it’s a stunner and makes this story while pulling together more of the entire mythology of the Kingdom tales.  Scott takes us into the heart of Glitnir where Brody is being tortured and Nicholas must come to a decision either to save him or continue undercover.  Wonderful hurt/comfort here as well as that instantaneous “wolf knows his mate”  bonding that occurred earlier with another pair (which laid the groundwork here).  I wish we had more time with Brody and Nicholas but with everything that goes on here to prepare us and the Resistance for the final book and battle, I think it came off fine.


✒︎The Third Kingdom – 5 Stars out of 5


The story that began as a simple Retriever case, has become the tale of the fight against a thousand years of evil.


The wolf shifters have Niceros to take down. The Vampire Twins have to deal with Cassius. The Second Kingdom is in disarray and Simeon, Asher and Phin are desperate to calm the unrest.


An alpha needs to accept his role, a blood demon has to become the King he was meant to be, and the Vampire twins have to end the war.


Against all this, Reuben and Ethan, lovers separated for a millennium, are thrown back in to a war to end the poison that is Ludvik Peitrol.


In a battle on the barren fields of Arberfan is where this story will end.


How can love survive the evil that is another’s hate?

The final battle, the final everything.  The Third Kingdom, that kingdom that arises after the foretold “twins” use magic on the battlefield to smite down the great evil.  Trouble is only one of the twins has magic…plus they are greatly outnumbered and several of their main support characters are in identity crisis.  What’s a band of Resisters to do?

That’s the question here.  How does RJ Scott pull it all together to take down the centuries old evil that is Ludvik Peitrol?  In a huge and marvelous way is the answer.  All the characters and their mates are here,  all the questions get answered, the battles get fought and the villains fall to the doom, assisted of course by various methods not to be named here.  Its suspenseful, action-packed tale that doesn’t forget that there’s plenty of couples in love riding off to battle and perhaps their deaths.  It doesn’t disappoint at all.  Well, maybe I wanted Ludvik to suffer even more at the end but you can’t have everything.  Well, maybe more stories.  I love this universe and characters, plus it’s full of even more secondary characters that could use stories of their own.  Now wouldn’t that be lovely?

 

Cover art by Meredith Russell.  The thing about these covers is that they are too mundane. Where’s the magic?  The shifters or demons or castles even?  I think they missed the mark here.

Sales Links

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2sUq864

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2rTSJUA

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 21st 2017 by Love Lane Books Limited
URL http://www.rjscott.co.uk
SeriesKingdom #2

Cover Reveal for Lying Eyes by Robert Winter (excerpt)

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Title:  Lying Eyes

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher:  Robert Winter Books (self-published)

Release Date: July 7, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84300

Genre: Romance, Mystery, BDSM

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

This bartender’s art lies in more than mixing drinks …

Randy Vaughan is a six-foot-three mass of mysteries to his customers and his friends. Why does a former Secret Service agent now own Mata Hari, a successful piano bar? Where did a muscle daddy get his passion for collecting fine art? If he’s as much a loner as his friends believe, why does he crave weekly sessions at an exclusive leather club?

Randy’s carefully private life unravels when Jack Fraser, a handsome art historian from England, walks into his bar, anxious to get his hands on a painting Randy owns. The desperation Randy glimpses in whiskey-colored eyes draws him in, as does the desire to submit that he senses beneath Jack’s elegant, driven exterior.

While wrestling with his attraction to Jack, Randy has to deal with a homeless teenager, a break-in at Mata Hari, and Jack’s relentless pursuit of the painting called Sunrise. It becomes clear someone’s lying to Randy. Unless he can figure out who and why, he may miss his chance at the love he’s dreamed about in the hidden places of his heart.

Note: Lying Eyes is a standalone gay romance novel with consensual bondage and a strong happy ending. It contains potential spoilers for Robert Winter’s prior novel, Every Breath You Take.

Excerpt

Saturday rolled around, and Randy headed to town early to make sure everything was ready for Mata Hari’s busiest evening of the week. Although the bar officially opened at five-thirty, it was rare for anyone to wander in much before seven o’clock. Randy was surprised when the front door opened at six to admit a good-looking man.

The stranger was probably about five foot nine or ten, and wore a three-piece suit that seemed tailored to accentuate a lean build. His dark hair was cut stylishly short on the sides but thick and swept back on the top, and his mustache and full beard were closely trimmed. A brightly colored necktie contrasted with the somber gray of his suit. Randy had trouble assessing the man’s age, but he would go with thirty. European, though—Randy would stake the bar on that guess.

The newcomer contemplated the walls of Mata Hari, passing almost dismissively over the art on display. He studied each piece for no more than a second before moving to the next, but Randy had a distinct impression the man sought something in particular. As he completed his survey, he kept turning and eventually met Randy’s eyes across the bar.

Immediately desire flared in the man’s face as his hungry gaze drifted over Randy’s tight white shirt and up to his face, lingering on his mouth. Shoulders tightened almost imperceptibly as he drew himself to his full height, yet Randy recognized a softening of hard edges. He lazily ran his own eyes to the stranger’s luxurious beard, and he imagined stroking the softness there. He sensed something accommodating. Something potentially submissive, yet more subtle than the wanton displays of obedience and posing he was used to on Mondays at his private club.

Something he would enjoy channeling and rewarding, in the right circumstance.

The man started toward the bar. As he moved, Randy had the odd sense that the suit he wore was ill-fitting, even though it seemed perfectly tailored. A step away from the bar, his face just—closed. That was the only word for it. One instant he was cruising Randy; the next he was stone.

Randy sighed to himself. The guy was probably a closet case on his first night at a gay bar. That usually meant an unsatisfying encounter, even if the newbie didn’t rabbit. In any case, it wasn’t Randy’s thing. He’d had plenty of virgin ass over the years, and preferred his men experienced.

Fine. Nothing for me here. He waited at the bar, vaguely disappointed.

“Sir, good evening.” The man’s accent was English, his words precise and elegant like his hair and his clothes and his beard. Probably from London. Up close, Randy could see his eyes were a deep shade of brown graced with streaks of gold around the pupils that caught the lights over the bar. “I’m looking for a Mr. Randall Vaughan.”

Despite forswearing his immediate attraction to the stranger, that honeyed voice caused Randy to smile slowly and show his teeth. He registered the slight widening of the eyes behind the stranger’s mask as he focused on Randy’s mouth.

“I’m Randy Vaughan. And you are…?”

The man blinked in surprise. “Oh. The Mr. Vaughan I was seeking is an art collector.”

Shit. Just another jerkwad, making assumptions right away. Randy was a big man so he couldn’t possibly be knowledgeable about art, could he? Well, fuck that noise. One more chance.

“I wouldn’t use the term collector, but…” Randy gestured at the walls.

“Quite so,” the man said distantly, and turned to sweep his gaze over the works on the nearest wall. “Neither would I.”

Randy’s back stiffened immediately. The stranger—no, the asshole—turned his attention back to Randy and held out a hand. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he’d just royally pissed Randy off. “My name is Jack Fraser. I’m from the Kensington Museum in London.” Fraser paused as if waiting for Randy to be impressed. “I sent you a letter recently.”

Randy willed himself not to think further about Fraser’s whiskey-colored eyes or the luxuriousness of his beard, and he didn’t take the offered hand. Instead, he wiped a small spill on the counter before him. “You did,” he agreed in a bored tone.

Fraser dropped his hand. “Ah, yes.” A pause. “My secretary didn’t hear from you to set up an appointment.”

“Which was my answer to your request,” Randy said, letting some snarl appear as he met Fraser’s eyes. They were still guarded and closed off, but Randy could see embers burning deep inside. In the right setting, and with proper motivation, he could imagine making those embers flare and ignite in the slender man before him. For the moment, though, the eyes just narrowed in calculation.

Before Fraser could say anything, Randy turned away. “If you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”

“May I buy a pint?” Fraser asked, desperation shading his smooth accent.

Randy considered calling Malcolm over to deal with it, but stopped in front of the beer taps. He was annoyed at his lingering attraction, and he decided to push back on this prick a bit. “Fine. What’s your pleasure?”

“Guinness. If you have it.”

“Of course you’d drink Guinness.” A little scorn curled Randy’s lip. “Well, the closest beer I have is a stout from Flying Dog.” He let his sneer turn feral. “It’s called Pearl Necklace.” He dropped his eyes to Fraser’s necktie, as if he could picture that very thing replacing the colorful silk.

Fraser blinked nervously. Probably he could picture it too. Maybe he even imagined Randy’s hot jizz splattering his chest and neck as his reward. Well, he shouldn’t have been a condescending shit out of the gate then. Randy waited, one hand on the tap, the other idly scratching his ear to make his bicep flex under his white shirt. Fraser focused on his arm and swallowed audibly.

“That’ll be fine,” he said. “A, uh, Flying Dog then.” Randy drew the pint to set before Fraser on a coaster. He didn’t wait for the man to take a sip or comment, but headed to the other end of the bar to check inventory.

He stayed busy but somehow noticed that Fraser lingered at the bar for several minutes, apparently hoping Randy would come back and let him ask again about the piece Randy had purchased from the Gates Gallery. When Randy deliberately kept his distance, Fraser took his beer (which, Randy was pleased to note, was more than half gone) and wandered around the room to examine more carefully each painting displayed. Sometimes he moved on quickly to the next piece of art. Other times, he gave a slight shake of his head.

Randy’s ears burned, and he considered throwing the guy out. Since he’d opened Mata Hari no one had given him grief about his collection. To be honest, no one had studied it the way Fraser did, but still. Each piece had been acquired because Randy connected to something in it. To have this handsome English stuffed shirt look down his nose offended Randy in a way he couldn’t even articulate. He seethed inside the longer Fraser spent on his dismissive tour of the room.

When Fraser reached a landscape that was hung over a small settee, he gave a distinct snort. He set his empty beer glass on a nearby table and Randy swooped over to pick it up, ostentatiously swiping the wood as if it had left a ring. “Another Pearl Necklace?” he snarled.

“Ah, no. Thank you.” Fraser seemed surprised to find Randy standing so close, though his eyes remained closed off and stony. “But it was a quite nice stout after all. Thank you for the recommendation.”

Randy gestured at the landscape with his chin. “Is that painting offensive to you for some reason? You’re practically laughing at it.”

“What? Oh no, it’s…fine. Competent. It’s the presentation, the arrangement of the art, that I find amusing.”

Randy ran his gaze over the pieces arranged on that wall of the bar. He’d decided where to hang each and every work over a long stretch of time as he’d readied Mata Hari for opening. He revisited the collection frequently and rotated different pieces in and out of prominent positions. Most of his customers were oblivious but Randy took great satisfaction in presenting something unique in the atmosphere of his bar.

“What’s amusing about it?”

“Well, there’s no story, is there?” Fraser answered him.

“What do you mean?”

“Individually each piece is presentable. A few are even intriguing. But see here,” he gestured at the landscape, “this is a nicely executed pastoral, yet it’s positioned between a Japanese scroll and a watercolor of a monarch butterfly. The pieces say nothing about each other, and have no intrinsic relationship.

“But over there,” he indicated the wall opposite, “is a modern landscape. Change the frames to something complementary, place them side by side, and the two landscapes together suggest a conversation in, oh, quite a lot actually. Painting techniques, the subject and tonal changes in works separated by two artistic traditions. You see?”

Randy did see, but he’d be damned if he’d admit it. “Two landscapes here wouldn’t fit,” he said stubbornly.

“Ah. Art as furniture. Of course,” Fraser said with a smirk, and that did it.

“No charge for the Pearl Necklace,” Randy barked. “Since you made the trip for nothing.”

 

Meet the Author

Robert Winter lives and writes in Provincetown. He is a recovering lawyer who prefers writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other.

When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

 

 

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A Stella Release Day Review: ​A Destiny of Dragons (Tales From Verania) by TJ Klune

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RATING 5 out of 5 stars

Sequel to The Lightning-Struck Heart

Once upon a time, the wizard’s apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam’s been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.

Life is good.

Until it’s not.

Because Vadoma, the leader of the gypsy clan and Sam’s grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.

Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam’s true cornerstone.

I was waiting for this book since I finished The Lightning-Struck Heart in the 2015. I was waiting for Sam to take me on his beautiful world with his amazing friends. TJ didn’t disappoint me. He did great, again.

I spent a whole week on A Destiny of Dragons , I dosed the reading not only because I actually didn’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to truly enjoyed each single word. And IMO that’s the key of the success of TJ Klune’s  writing especially in these kind of stories: each word is perfect, each sentences is hilarious, every new chapter is a surprise. The reader can’t try to imagine where he was going to bring us, because everything is unpredictable and over the top. And I can’t have enough.

I couldn’t wait for meet again Gary, he is still sassy and beautiful as ever, still in love with Kevin, no matter what he claims. And then Tiggy, with his big heart and his readiness to smash things and people. But I have a confession to make, someone else stole my heart in this book and it was inevitable, I’m pretty sure no one will be able to resist at a fourteen years old emo snake dragon. I want Zero to be the main characters in the next book in the series. He deserves so much from life and I bet Sam will take care of him, since he is such a good boy. And good boys always win, right? Well I can tell you me and Ryan were pissed more than once with our beloved (apprentice) wizard.

I feel to of course recommend this series, it’s funny, light, full of amazing characters, most of all it’s packed with feelings, every kind of feeling you can think of.   

The cover art by Paul Richmond is simpler compared to the cover of the first book and I like it, but maybe  simple and clean don’t fit the story a lot.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 400 pages

Publication Date: June 30th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781635335576

Edition Language English

Series Tales From Verania #2

A Lila Release Day Review: Something’s Brewing at Joe’s by SJD Peterson

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The promise of a dream job lures Murphy to Tampa, but he arrives to the rude awakening that the offer is on hold. Now he’s got two choices: slink back to Michigan with his tail between his legs or stay and look for work. Things perk up when he goes into a coffee shop and learns the owner is looking for someone to renovate the apartment above it. He happily takes the job, only later realizing he’s met Joe Sterling, Kaffeinate’s proprietor, before… when they hooked up at a club Murphy’s first night in Tampa.

Murphy and Joe are both proud, passionate, and outspoken. Neither is looking for a relationship, though they can’t deny they go together as well as coffee and doughnuts, in spite of their tempers. But that’s before Joe learns Murphy will be working for the corporation he believes is harming local businesses and the environment—and if Murphy will be supporting it, Joe will want nothing to do with him, dooming any possibility of an unexpected happy ending.

Something’s Brewing at Joe’s is a sweet, steamy romance with a side of trouble. From their first meeting, Joe’s and Murphy’s chemistry goes off the chart. They’re both looking for a quick hook-up that in turn morphs into more than they’re ready for. They might not have had any plans for a relationship, but their easy and steady connection kept them coming for more.

There’s a smaller conflict with Murphy’s job in addition to their romance. It is simple, but it interfered with some of Murphy’s decisions, causing him trouble with Joe. At the same time, it brings them together to find a solution that allowed them to get their HEA.

The setting and secondary characters take an important role in the story as well. Everything from Joe’s cottage, the Floridian weather, and the coffee shop create a believable background. Joe’s employees and customers add to the flavor of the book.

The only downfall, in my opinion, was the number of sex scenes. Yes, they go with the story, but they prevented the reader from fully enjoying their connection.

The cover by Reese Dante has an appealing picture of Joe and his gaze is filled with promises. It goes with the books and the artist’s style too.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner| Amazon | Kobo

ebook, 200 pages
Published: June 30, 2017, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1635333385 (ISBN13: 9781635333381)
Edition Language: English

 

Kate McMurray on Writing Music You Know and her release ‘What’s the Use of Wondering?’ (author guest blog)

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What’s the Use of Wondering? (WMU #2) by Kate McMurray
Dreamspinner Press

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Expected publication: July 3rd 2017

🎻

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kate McMurray here today sharing her thoughts and inspiration behind her latest story,What’s the Use of Wondering? (WMU #2).  Welcome, Kate.

🎼

 

 

Write Music You Know by Kate McMurray

Logan in What’s the Use of Wondering? is my second violinist character. (The first was Everett in The Silence of the Stars.) I don’t think it’s a secret that I am also a violinist, so I had some first-hand experience I could lend to the characters.

My experience is different from Logan’s, though. I started taking lessons when I was nine. I loved playing but hated the pressure my parents put on me to practice all the time, which I realized as an adult was what held me back from becoming really great at it. When I took lessons again in my twenties, and I was grown up enough to actually want to get better, there was a noticeable improvement in my playing when I practiced regularly, and my teacher could totally tell when I’d slacked off.

I think we generally have this perception of artists that they’re just born with their talent without appreciating how much work it takes to be excellent. So I wrote a character, Logan, who works. He’s the concertmaster (lead violin) of the university orchestra. So he’s extraordinarily talented, but he’s taken lessons since he was five, he practices daily, he attends rehearsals and classes and special one-on-one sessions with his teacher. In fact, all that work is cutting into his social life, and at the beginning of What’s the Use of Wondering? he’s starting to wonder if maybe all that work isn’t worth it, because he’s missing out on what he thinks are normal college experiences. It’s making him question this whole plan he’d had to become a professional musician when he graduates.

I played enough in college that I could pull from my experiences when writing Logan. I auditioned and played with small ensembles and then went to music school again after college. But I like doing research anyway, so I would have tried to lend a certain amount of realism to the situation.

I always try to strike a balance between embedding the characters deep in their setting while also still keeping things accessible. So the book is a peek at what it might be like to be a serious musician in college. But even if you aren’t a musician yourself, you can sympathize with Logan’s growing unease that he’s committing all this time to doing something he’s not even sure he wants to keep doing.

And certainly you can relate to what happens when I guy he doesn’t like—who also happens to be really hot—ends up as his roommate.

Blurb

What’s the Use of Wondering?

WMU: Book Two

Violinist Logan has spent most of his life training for a career in music. But as the pressure mounts during his junior year, he questions whether playing in an orchestra is the future he wants, or one chosen by his parents. His new roommate—that annoying jerk Peter from last year’s production of Guys and Dolls—complicates matters. Crammed into a dorm room with the overconfident but undeniably hot accounting major, Logan can’t stop snarling.

Then Peter sprains his ankle building sets, and Logan grudgingly agrees to play chauffeur. But instead of putting further strain on their relationship, spending time together reveals some common ground—and mutual frustration. Logan discovers he isn’t the only one who doesn’t know what he wants from life, and the animosity between him and Peter changes keys. But just as the possibility of a happier future appears, Logan gets a dream offer that will take him away from Western Massachusetts University—and Peter. Now he has to decide: will he live the solitary life laid out for him, or hold on to Peter and forge his own path?

 About the Author

Kate McMurray writes smart romantic fiction. She likes creating stories that are brainy, funny, and of course sexy, with regular guy characters and urban sensibilities. She advocates for romance stories by and for everyone. When she’s not writing, she edits textbooks, watches baseball, plays violin, crafts things out of yarn, and wears a lot of cute dresses. She’s active in Romance Writers of America, serving for two years on the board of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter, and three—including two as president—on the board of the New York City chapter. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with two cats and too many books.

Twitter: @katemcmwriter

Facebook: facebook.com/katemcmurraywriter

Website: http://www.katemcmurray.com

Tray Ellis on Writing, Books and her latest release, Pyresnakes (author guest blog and excerpt)

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Pyresnakes by Tray Ellis
Dreamspinner Press
Cover art by Christine Griffin

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Tray Ellis here today talking about writing, books and her latest story, Pyresnakes from Dreamspinner Press.  Welcome, Tray.

 

✒︎

Hello! My name is Tray Ellis and I’m excited to be here today to discuss my new story Pyresnakes, available through Dreamspinner Press, and for an author interview. So, let’s get on to those questions!

Q: How much of yourself goes into a character?

A: Every character has a little bit of me hidden in them somewhere. It’s nearly impossible not to draw upon one’s own preferences. But, even more of the characters are drawn from all sorts of things I’ve seen or heard. There are plenty of times where I’ll see someone do something and think to myself that I should remember that detail and give it to a character.

Q: Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

A: Research is endless and ongoing. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new or pay attention in a new way to something you’re very familiar with. I’d rather make up something and put it into a structure than make up something entirely new. I envy those writers who can think so deeply and keep whole new worlds straight.

Q: Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

A: Absolutely.  I spent at least a decade reading a lot of mystery novels, particularly series that followed a central character through many different stories.  I haven’t written a straight up mystery, but I love putting in elements of mysteries. Pyresnakes has one in it and I loved being able to work out the puzzle of how to present it.

Q: Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

A: I like both HFN and HEA, but I gravitate more to HFN.  I feel like once you reach HEA then that’s the end of the story and you get this deep wistful feeling about that.  If you’re really engaged with characters and a story, with HFN, there’s always hope that there’s more romance and adventure on the way. 

Q: Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

A: I read some romances while growing up, but most stories had romance as a secondary element. It wasn’t the focus. The older I got, the more romance found its way into my reading pile.  There’s so much hope and excitement in romance and I’m drawn to that.

Q: How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

A: I love the ebook format. It offers a lot, including the ability to read stories that are amazing, but perhaps aren’t exactly the length that make it to books. Having an electronic reading device means you can carry multitudes of books around with you at a fraction of the weight. I think we haven’t really seen exactly how ebooks will come to fill our lives. As humans we love stories and ebooks make it so much easier to share those stories, but there are still advancements that ebooks can make.

Q: How do you choose your covers?  

A: I’ve mostly been a participating author in anthologies, so a lot of my covers were already chosen for me around a central theme.  I’ve really been impressed with those, and how the one cover was able to be meaningful for so many different types of stories within an anthology.  The cover for Pyresnakes was a joint effort.  I was able to make suggestions, offer preferences, give a nebulous sort of insightful vision of what I saw in my head, and talk endlessly about the story components. The wonderful artist who created my cover did all the rest. And all the hard work.

Here is my gorgeous and evocative cover, by the talented artist Christine Griffin:

Pyresnakes is available through Dreamspinner Press.

And here’s the Pyresnakes story summary to get you up to speed:

There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real. 

Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories. 

When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a State Trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.  

But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.

~*~

Excerpt

The larger of the two snakes at the bottom of the recessed area became more active, coiling over itself, its eyes fixed in Brandon’s direction. He took a step backward, wanting even more distance between himself and the danger, but his careful maneuver caused the snake to roil forward.

He desperately wanted to bolt from the cellar, but he forced himself to remain calm. He had on thick jeans and sturdy steel-toed boots. If he were careful, there should be no problem.

Except the snake continued moving forward, and as Brandon watched, its dark skin began to transform. The black of its scales bled into brown, and the brown kept growing deeper until it turned a dark red. The mahogany red of the snake’s skin lightened until it brightened into russet orange, and as Brandon stared transfixed at its shift of color, he realized one more thing.

Small flames surrounded the snake. Yellow and orange fire licked over its skin, and then the snake blazed hotter. Brandon could now see an intense white burn, and when he blinked, spots of color shadowed against his retina, lingering. The miasma of concentrated heat was extraordinary, and he could feel it against his skin as if he were standing too close to a smelting forge.

He stepped back quickly, gauging the distance to the staircase. The cellar design gave only one way out. No other exit was available. He needed to return the way he’d arrived.

As he pivoted and began to stride, he caught sight of images that sent fear coursing through him. Several more sinuous lengths of heat and flame writhed stark against the dark gray of the solid granite blocks. All the snakes were on fire.

Brandon sprinted. The heat of the burning snakes baked the skin at his nape and the backs of his arms.

~*~

About the Author

Tray Ellis grew up across from an empty field, where she spun a lot of imaginary adventures, helping to prepare her for a lifetime of writing. When she isn’t writing, she stays active by hiking, cooking, stacking the odd cord of wood in the shed, baking, and being too busy to keep her home in any semblance of order. Currently she tries to find a balance between the logical way she thinks and the flights of fancy she often daydreams about. Mostly, the daydreams are winning.

Website: trayellis.dreamwidth.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tray.ellis.54

Blog: trayellis.blogspot.com

Twitter: @TrayEllisWrites

Blog Tour for Different Dynamics by Tamir Drake (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Different Dynamics

Author: Tamir Drake

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 26

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male Menage

Length: 19300

Genre: Contemporary, paranormal, erotica, ABO, sports, hockey, MMM, knotting, hurt/comfort, dirty talk

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Tamir Drake today on the Different Dynamics tour.  Check out the exclusive excerpt before entering the giveaway! Enjoy!

Synopsis

Richard doesn’t mind being an omega; all he cares about is playing good hockey, even though it means ignoring the media that tries to rip him apart for it. They don’t think omegas should be allowed on the ice, but he gets along fine. He’s team captain. He can play with the best of them.

The one sticking point is his heats; Richard might be on suppressants, but he’s one of the unlucky ones who still gets a heat every four months or so. They suck to deal with, especially alone, but seeking out a heat partner isn’t an option. The PR nightmare alone keeps him from any kind of hook-up. He can’t risk it. Hockey is all he’s got.

When Richard’s heat comes early while his team is on a roadie, teammate and best friend James helps him out of a bad situation. Tired of hurting, Richard decides it’s better not to go it alone. And James is safe and warm; he’s a great alpha who knows just what Richard needs. When Richard also imprints on big, bad rival player, Dmitry Sokolov? There’s sweet comfort in a three-way with lots of knotting and dirty talk.

Richard might be on cloud nine.

Exclusive Excerpt

Different Dynamics
Tamir Drake © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Richard got home, dropped his bags, and said hello to his cat Marshmallow. After checking her puzzle feeder and changing the water in her drinking fountain, he went into the bedroom to collapse. He spared a thought to how he should be eating, or at least hydrating, but all he wanted to do was curl up in bed. There was another game tomorrow, and he needed to steel himself for it, to get to practice and be able to play. Once again, he’d have to prepare to hide all of himself, so he could do what he loved. Hockey was all he had.

It was this thought that finally got him out of bed. He needed to concentrate on hockey—more than that—on being a good captain. That meant pushing through his heat. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it; he usually had at least two heats during the season, even with the fairly regular onsets the implant gave him. Hiding himself meant downing painkillers and libido inhibitors, dousing his clothes in odor-blocker, keeping a constant supply of pads on hand, and playing through the discomfort. He’d gotten good at ignoring the battle of scents on the ice, the distraction of the other players. It was just hockey; as long as he kept his head in the game, it would be good enough.

He dragged himself to the kitchen and pulled a ready meal out of the freezer, not up to trying to cook or calling in. He did his best to drain a bottle of juice while he waited for his food to warm up, hunched over the kitchen island. His mouth felt so dry no matter how much he drank—another side effect of the inhibitors—and his head was pounding.

The microwave beeped and Richard took his food into the living room. Curling up on the couch to eat it, he smiled feebly at Marshmallow when she jumped up next to him. She’d always been able to tell when he was hurting, and her warmth was a small comfort.

His phone rang after a few mouthfuls, flashing James’s face on the screen.

“’Lo?”

“Hey, Packer,” James said easily. “How are you doing?”

“Uh. Fine?” Richard shifted on the couch. “Just, you know, trying to settle back in and shit.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine,” Richard said, a little testily. He really didn’t feel well. “I just told you.”

“Can I come by?”

Richard didn’t exactly want company right now, but it was James. “I guess so. Why?”

“Because you went into heat yesterday, and I’m worried about you, fucker. What even happened, by the way? Did your implant malfunction or something? Are you getting it checked out?”

“Uh…”

“What?”

All in. “I might, uh, get heats regularly.”

“Richard!” Richard winced and pulled the phone away from his ear as James continued, “The fuck? Are you shitting me? You get heats on the regular, and you never thought to tell any of us?”

“What would it have mattered if I did?” Richard snapped, glad he was having this conversation over the phone and not in person. “The media can’t know; they already try to rip me apart because I’m an omega. If they thought I didn’t have a lid on my heats, it’d be a PR nightmare.”

“We’re not the media, you shithead. We’re your team. You think any of us would have blabbed your secret? You think we wouldn’t immediately crush anyone who tried?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

There was a lot of inarticulate growling, and then James sighed.

“Okay.” James sounded tired. “If you say it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. Still think you should tell the boys, but that’s your choice. Are—are you gonna be playing in the game?”

“’Course.”

“Right.” Richard could picture James rubbing a hand over his face. “Well? Can I come by? Do you want my help?”

It dawned on Richard that James was checking up on him. That he was offering to help with the heat again. “What, really?”

“Oh my god you little—yes. How long do yours usually last?”

“Um, like a week.”

“Okay. I’ll pack a bag and be over in a few.”

Richard stared at his phone.

“Richard?”

“You want to what?”

There was a pause. “Or I could…not,” James said eventually. “If you don’t want me to?”

“No! No, I…I’m just, uh, surprised.”

“You can’t honestly tell me you’ve never had someone take you through a heat before, Packer.”

Richard was silent.

“Oh my fucking god I will be there in half an hour.”

James hung up.

Richard stared at his phone again and wondered what had just happened.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Tamir has the tendency to write feelings into everything, no matter how filthy. He’s not all that sorry about it. Visit him on his Website.

Tour Schedule

6/26    Book Lovers 4Ever

6/27    Boy Meets Boy Reviews

6/27    Love Bytes Reviews 

6/28    Divine Magazine

6/28    Making it Happen

6/28    Liz’s Reading Life

6/29    Erotica For All

6/29    Happily Ever Chapter

6/29    Reviews for Book Lovers

6/30    Bonkers About Books

6/30    Hoards Jumble 

6/30    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

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In the Spotlight: Jordan’s Pryde (Pryde Shifter #1) by Giovanna Reaves (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Jordan’s Pryde

Series: Pryde Shifter Series Book 1

Author: Giovanna Reaves

Publisher: Independent

Release Date: June 30th 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 83K

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Mpreg, Paranormal Romance

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

All he did was apply for a job and then his world was turned upside down.

Thrust into the world he had no idea about, Jordan Sutton’s only goal was to get a job working for Duncan Pryde of Pryde Industries. He thought werewolves, vampires, and faes belonged in fairy tales, not in the real world. What will he do when he finds out that there’s more than meets the eye to his boss and his family?

Duncan Pryde had too much going on in his life. He became the sole guardian of his twin niece and nephew along with the addition of his pack and company. He had no time to think about a mate when trouble came to his front door. What happens when the man he hired for one job turns out to be his destined mate? Does he deny what he feels or embrace it?

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Jordan 

Jordan pulled up to the address he was directed to by his GPS. His mouth fell open in complete shock at the mansion looking back at him. He was applying for a position to work for the CEO of Pryde Industries. The handsome and jaw-dropping Duncan Pryde. The position was as his personal assistant. Unless people had been living under a rock, everyone knew exactly who Duncan Pryde was. A self-made billionaire who had his fingers in everything from computer software to fashion design.  The man was intelligent, wealthy, and drop-dead gorgeous and didn’t look a day over forty. Simply put, everything Jordan could want in a man. But with one snag—the man was completely straight according to all the magazines he’d read.

When he heard there was a position opening up at Pryde Industries and it would be working for the CEO, Jordan researched everything he could about Duncan Pryde. One thing was evident, Pryde was never without some slim, beautiful female model or actress hanging off his arm. Other than his attraction, Jordan admired Duncan Pryde from afar, since he started tracking his success.

It was only by chance Jordan found out about the job opening and jumped at the opportunity. He admitted to himself that he had a selfish reason for wanting to work for Pryde Industries. It was the opening Jordan needed to get his foot in the door in the business world. Even if he was starting out as a personal assistant. Jordan would be foolish to pass up the chance. Being rich was not his primary goal, success and recognition for what he could do were what he was after. Call him ambitious, but Jordan learned a long time ago that success didn’t come easily. You have to step over a few people to get where you want to be in life.  He practically bit his nails down to the knuckle the day he sent off his résumé.  It was not a job at the corner store, but working for a CEO with a major Fortune 500 company.

The minute Jordan got the call for the interview, he did a more in-depth research on Duncan Pryde, that was available on Duncan, and his businesses. There was not a lot. He could find little on Duncan’s personal life, but there was more than enough information on Pryde Industries. It frustrated Jordan, to the point of obsession, that he could not learn more about the man he wanted to work for. The only personal information he could find was that a tragedy had occurred in his life six months earlier.

He had turned the running of the business over to the hands of his vice president until he was able to return. No matter how much he searched, Jordan was not able to find out what had happened. Duncan Pryde had also withdrawn from public life.  No one seemed to know what happened. Wild speculations swirled around that he had been severely injured in a car accident and his company was covering it up. Some reported that he was bound to a wheelchair and would never walk again.

Taking a deep breath, Jordan looked at the file sitting in the passenger seat next to him. It was his résumé and work experience. There wasn’t a lot to go on, but Jordan had glowing letters of recommendation from previous employers along with those of volunteering administrators. He was ready, and he was pretty confident that the job belonged to him and no one else.

No need to keep sitting here, the job’s not going to come to me this way. Jordan nervously got out of the car closing the door.

Checking his suit to make sure that everything was pristine, he smoothed out invisible wrinkles and lint while praying to the gods that he wouldn’t come off as an idiot in his interview.  He wanted to make a good impression the first time meeting Mr. Pryde, who was conducting the interview himself. Jordan squared his shoulders, and looked at the large white painted mansion with black window trim in front of him. The lawn was well manicured with shrubbery and trees on both sides of the walkway leading up to the door.

What he could not understand was why the interview was at a mansion and not at the head office located downtown. Jordan shrugged his shoulders, again. As long as Jordan got the job he did not care where the interview was held. Wealthy and influential people had their quirks, it wasn’t for him to judge. Determined that he was ready to meet the man he was hoping to work for, Jordan walked to the red painted front door and cleared his throat, he raised his hand, ready to knock on the door when it was flung open for him. A ragged-looking woman burst through the door.

“I don’t care how much you pay me; I will not take care of those hellions!” she yelled, walking or rather running down the driveway and got in the car parked next to his, speeding off like a bat out of hell.

Well, that’s interesting.

Jordan quickly stepped to the side holding his folder to his chest, not sure if someone or something else was going to come flying out of the house and hit him. His heart was pounding in his chest. Instead of feeling nervous he was starting to get scared out of his fucking mind. The little voice in the back of his head told him to cut his losses and get his ass back in his car and go home, and let someone else be terrorized by Duncan Pryde. He ignored the voice and waited a few minutes before he decided that nothing else was going to come flying in his direction. Peeking his head through the door, not seeing anyone, Jordan stepped forward and walked in the foyer looking around for someone to ask for directions. The place was just as large on the inside as it was on the outside.

Shouldn’t there be a maid or a butler to answer the door? Jordan heard voices coming from down the hall and followed it. His previous apprehension went away as his curiosity took over.

“You guys, know that I have meetings to attend, I might not go into the office, but I cannot stay with you pups all day long.”

“We know, Uncle Duncan,” a cute, tiny little voice said.

“But she was so mean,” another small voice added.

“She promised if we behaved she would let us have ice cream,” they chimed in together.

Kids, nothing I read said that Duncan Pryde had kids.

“And we were especially good,” one of the kids said.

From the tone, Jordan assumed it was a little boy. He stood outside the door listening shamelessly to their conversation. He found it adorable how the kids finished each other’s sentences.

“Be that as it may, you were both wrong for putting mud in her shoes and lizards in her pockets.” Duncan Pryde’s voice sounded quiet but stern, not frightening considering the conversation with the kids.

“We’re sorry,” they chorused together.

“What am I going to do with you both?” Duncan Pryde asked.

“Please, don’t be mad at us, Uncle Duncan,” one of the tiny little voices said. To Jordan, it sounded like a little girl. The pleading and the sniffle at the end broke Jordan’s heart, he was so tempted to go into the room and comfort the little one himself and call Duncan Pryde out for being mean to his kids.

“I’m not angry. But, guys, I need to be able to go back to work.”  The room was quiet for a few seconds before Duncan Pryde spoke again. “Promise me you will give the other nanny a chance.”

“We promise, Uncle Duncan,” they said together.

“Okay, now let’s hug it out.”

Jordan heard an oof sound and then peals of laughter. He stood in the hall a bit longer letting the small family enjoy their time together before he interrupted. Pulling himself off the wall, he walked the short few steps and stood at the entrance to the room and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Duncan Pryde’s voice echoed strongly from the other side of the door.

Jordan took a deep breath, letting it out slowly before opening the door and stepping over the threshold and stopped, he had to hold back the gasp that threatened to escape. Magazines and television did not do Duncan Pryde justice because standing in front of Jordan was one of the sexiest men he’d ever laid eyes on.

Nope, Duncan Pryde is not wheelchair bound, he doesn’t even look as if he has a scratch on his perfect muscled body.

The only disappointment, in Jordan’s opinion, was the confused expression on the man’s handsome face. Duncan Pryde stood about six feet four inches. Wide muscled shoulders and arms that looked like they could bench press the two kids in one hand and him in the other without breaking a sweat.

“Who are you?” Duncan Pryde demanded and stepped in front of the kids, shielding them from Jordan’s view. To Jordan, it had sounded as if he growled his words rather than spoke them.

“Y…your front door was open, and I heard voices so I…” Jordan stuttered through his response.

“You didn’t answer my question, who the hell are you and what are you doing in my house?” he demanded again, placing the children entirely behind him.

Jordan was about to walk further into the room, but paused at the man’s deep voice and hoped he did not let on just how much Duncan Pryde’s very presence was affecting him in a few short seconds. With his pale complexion, he was probably blushing from the tips of his ears to his toes.

Fuck, the man’s tall.

Jordan took a deep breath, finally he was able to string a few sentences together. “I’m sorry, my name is Jordan Sutton. I was told to meet you here for an interview.”

Duncan Pryde stared at Jordan as if he’d lost his head. His blue eyes widened as if he just remembered their meeting.

“Oh shit,” he said, and the kids gasped.

“Uncle Duncan, you said a bad word,” the little girl said looking up at her uncle.

“Now you gotta put money in the bad word jar,” the little boy added to the conversation.

The kids are adorable.

“You’re right, guys,” Duncan Pryde said, he still had his eyes trained on Jordan, but his tone was gentle when he spoke to the kids. “I’m sorry, I completely forgot, things got a bit out of control this morning,” he apologized to Jordan.

“That’s okay,” Jordan assured him with a shrug of his shoulders.

Jordan watched as Duncan turned and kneeled in front of the kids who looked so much like him. The twins had the same dark brown hair with sprinkles of silver highlights. His curiosity was piqued, wondering if it was a family trait kind of thing.

“Okay, my little pups, here is what I need you to do for me.” The twins nodded, looking up at him. “I need to meet with Mr….” He turned and looked at Jordan.

“Sutton,” Jordan answered for him.

The twins were staring at him, and Jordan knew why. He always got the same look everywhere he went. It used to bother him when he was a kid growing up, but he wasn’t bothered by it anymore. There had to be other people in the world with white hair and red eyes. Many thought he dyed his hair and wore contacts simply to freak them out or was being rebellious and balked when he told them that he was born this way.

“Thank you,” he said to Jordan then looked back at the twins. “I need to speak with Mr. Sutton for a few minutes. I need you both to go to your rooms and play with your toys. I promise I won’t be that long.  Afterward, we can do anything you guys want to do.” Their heads bobbed at the same time nodding, before hugging their uncle then walked out of the room, whispering to each other and looking back at him. Jordan smiled and waved.

“Did you see his eyes?” the little boy asked.

“Yeah, and his hair,” the little girl said. “I want my hair like his.”

Duncan got up from his position and looked at Jordan. “I say we have a good twenty minutes before they get bored, and I will have to think of something to bribe them with,” Duncan told Jordan with a smile.

“In that case, how about we cut to the chase, then,” Jordan said. “And I just lay out why I’m the perfect candidate for the job as your assistant, you hire me, and I can start working immediately.”

“Bossy, demanding, and confident, I like that. But, let’s go through with the formalities and see how you do.”

Jordan tried not to smile, but the sudden change in Duncan Pryde’s demeanor put him completely at ease.

Duncan walked over to his desk and sat down. He looked over to the young man standing in front of him. He was properly dressed, which impressed him. He only hoped he continued to impress him during their short interview. He wasn’t kidding when he told Mr. Sutton that they had twenty minutes, Maddison and Benjamin were a handful. Duncan could not believe the morning he’d had, and it wasn’t even noon. He’d planned on going into the office, but had to shift his schedule around by doing the interview at his home. Because the twins begged him to stay home with them, and he gave in with the promise they would behave for Charlotte. That didn’t work out so well since they decided to terrorize Charlotte, who was nanny number, hell if he knew, he went through them quicker than it took him to blink an eye. At times the twins reminded him more of him and Mari than he would like to acknowledge.

“Have a seat,” he instructed.  “I assume that you have a résumé in that folder you’re clutching tightly to your chest?”

Duncan extended his hand, waiting for the young man to give him the folder. After sitting down, the young man gave the folder to him. Duncan got comfortable as he flipped it open and began reading through Sutton’s qualifications. An indescribable sweet scent wafted under his nose, but Duncan ignored it. As a lykosian, or a werewolf, he was sensitive to certain smells.

Duncan felt his skin prickle, and the scent got stronger. Pulling on his restraints, he ignored the way his body was reacting and concentrated on the reason the young man was there in the first place. Even in the height of protecting the twins Duncan couldn’t help but stare the first moment he saw the young man standing in front of him. He was entranced by his glistening ruby jeweled eyes and his silver white hair. If the kids’ fingernails were not digging into his skin, Duncan would have surely forgotten they were in the room.

Not many humans that he’d seen were born with such exotic appearances, it made Duncan wonder if he was something other than human. If he weren’t sure that there was a male standing in front of him, Duncan would have mistaken Jordan for a woman with his delicate features. Duncan tried to distract his wandering thoughts by looking through the file in his hands. He already read a few things he liked. Duncan was a very busy man and needed someone who could keep up with him. He was organized and by his references he seemed to be more than qualified for the position as his personal assistant.

This was the part Duncan hated, he’d gone through six assistants in the past year.  All women and all under the illusion that he would fall in love with them. There were three lykosian females from his pack that tried to trap him into mating with them. They were immediately fired from the company and banished from the pack. There were consequences for such actions. Trying to manipulate a member of the pack into a mating when they were not mates would result in the member being banished from the pack for ten years. Duncan hated doing it, but he had no other choice.

Duncan was the pack leader of one of the largest lykosian packs of Cypress Prince Island. Cypress Prince was much more than an island; it was a bustling city filled with all walks of life. Duncan looked up from the file in his hands and stared at Jordan for a few seconds assessing him before a thought popped into his head. He was in need of an assistant and a new nanny, why not interview for both positions and see which candidate would fit perfectly for either position.

“Tell me, Mr. Sutton, why do you want to be my personal assistant?”

Duncan watched as a worried expression crossed over Jordan’s face before he answered. “Do you want me to be honest or give you the placated version that would make sure you hire me on the spot?”

Duncan chuckled, he liked the kid. He was also glad that the timidness he saw a few seconds earlier was no longer in his posture. “If you do get the job, what you need to know about me is that above all things, I value honesty from my employees.”

“I really need a job,” Jordan started. “I’m pretty close to moving back in with my parents and my little baby parked in your exquisite driveway is being held together by luck, hope, and Gods know a lot of prayers.” Jordan finished with a sigh. Duncan could tell he was trying not to sound desperate about needing a job, but he did ask the man for honesty. “I’m also inexperienced in the sense that I have never worked in the world of business, but I have admired you and your drive to succeed. I feel working for your company, or you specifically, will help me achieve my goals.”

He smelled the honesty coming from the young man. “Are you trying to butter me up, Mr. Sutton?” Duncan asked raising an eyebrow.

“Only if it’s working,” Jordan countered back with a smile that had Duncan thinking thoughts he really shouldn’t about the applicant.

Duncan chuckled at their natural banter, it had been a while since he smiled so much in an interview. He spent a few more minutes asking Jordan questions. Duncan liked what he was hearing from the young man with each answer he gave to the questions posed. He had a few more applicants to interview by the end of the week, but he was positive that Jordan would be a value to his company. Twenty minutes on the dot Duncan’s keen hearing heard the pitter patter of little feet heading in their direction. He stood to his feet as did Jordan. Duncan extended his hand wrapping up their meeting. He would have loved to sit and speak with the young man a few minutes more but knew that wasn’t possible. Not with the twins seconds away from his office door.

“I will have someone contact you by the end of the week to let you know if you have the job.”

Jordan shook his hand as they walked to the door. “Thank you for taking the time to see me.” A spark of electricity ran down his spine, but again Duncan ignored it. Maybe he would examine what was going on later if he was still bothered by it.

When he opened the door, the twins were standing at the entrance with an innocent expression on their tiny faces that Duncan did not believe for a second. The twins were so much like he and his twin sister, Mari, were when they were their age. A sad feeling settled in the bottom of his stomach.

“Are you ready now, Uncle Duncan?” they asked together.

“Yes,” he answered. “Let me walk Mr. Sutton to the door and I’m all yours for the rest of the day.”

They nodded and followed behind him and Jordan. Duncan opened the door for the young man. He watched as the younger man walked to his car, or what resembled a car. The kid wasn’t lying; Duncan was not sure how much longer that car was going to last. Once the kid drove off, Duncan turned around and focused his attention to the twins who were starting to get that impatient look on their faces.

“Okay, my little munchkins, I canceled all my other appointments to spend the day with you. So, what will it be?” he asked them. They smiled, and he knew exactly what he would be spending the rest of the day doing, and there was no way he could get out of it.

Later that week, Duncan was found slouched on the sofa, a drink in his hand and three applicants’ files sitting in his lap. He’d spent the rest of the week taking care of the twins and truth be told he was exhausted. Duncan needed someone quickly. He loved having and taking care of Maddison and Benjamin, but he had a pack and a company to run, he never thought he’d miss getting up and going to work so badly. Six months earlier, when he told his sister, Mari, that he would watch the kids while she and her husband, Ben, went on their second honeymoon, Duncan did not expect that it would be for the rest of his life. The private jet that Mari and Ben were on crashed on their way back from Paris. Duncan was devastated and had no idea what he was going to do. He had to bury his sister and his brother-in-law.

He had a hard time trying to explain to his five-year-old niece and nephew that their mom and dad would never be coming home again. Duncan had to change his life drastically to accommodate the twins. He’d gone from a doting uncle who saw them when he missed them, to a father figure in the span of months. He’d also gone through about the same number of nannies as he had personal assistants in the past few months. Duncan was a perfectionist and wanted things done his way. Mari used to tease him that he needed to loosen up a bit and give people a chance to make mistakes.

Mari and Duncan were twins, but the public had no knowledge of her existence. As wealthy and well-known as he was, Duncan respected Mari’s wish to keep her away from the public. So not to be recognized as his twin in public, Mari dyed her hair and grew it out to the middle of her back. It was her choice to live a modest life and taught at the school that Duncan had built when he took over as Alpha of his pack.  The same way he protected Mari he did with his pack, keeping their existence a secret.

It had not been easy, but Duncan felt it was better to hide in plain sight.  The employees that worked in his company were both pack members and humans who had no idea that they were working with lykosians. Duncan thought about hiring other creatures, but since the great war, each sect had lived separate lives. The thought of intermingling was considered blasphemous. He was not under the naïve impression that his pack was the only living among them. There were a few other shifter clan leaders that Duncan had known since childhood whom he had relied on over the years. There were even sanguine, or vampire, covens on the other side of the island.

The world was filled with many other sects. Many believed that lykosians were the first beasts formed. It was written that the gods—that once roamed the earth—wanted more than human worshipers and decided to create beasts and creatures who would not only protect their providence but be their warriors. The mistress of the moon, created the lykosians. In the beginning many beasts mated with humans before realizing they could also mate with their own kind. Lykosians and other shifted sects were given unmanageable strength and the ability to change from man to beast. Other sects were also given special abilities, some known and some not. The nyxian sect was known for their beauty and mysterious abilities. The elfkins, or elves, who were just as mysterious as the nyxians, were close in relation with their appearance. Both sects were created by the gods of the sun and given abilities to defend themselves.

There were many other sects that had hidden their people away and had remained a secret even to him. One sect Duncan was sure they had died out centuries ago, were the draconem. They were hunted and killed for their blood and heart. Men and beasts were attracted to the idea of a long life. By eating the heart of a draconem a person could live up to one hundred years plus. It was also written that draconems were quite powerful and possess magic liken to that of witches and warlocks, it was how they controlled their fire that dwelled deep inside of them while in their human form.

Duncan had always wondered how a sect as powerful as the draconems could have failed to protect themselves and died out. Some died during and after the war.  After the great war, a treaty was signed by the leaders of each sect. No matter how much he researched, Duncan could not find the reason why or who started the war in the first place. The only thing that was apparent was that many died senselessly. In the end, each sect decided it was better that they all lived their lives and didn’t intermingle. Duncan and a few other lykosian alphas had worked together to keep the peace with other packs and shifter clans across the globe.

As with humans, there was always a bad apple in with a bunch of perfectly good ones.  Duncan would never deny how competitive he was and the lengths he’d gone through to ensure his pack’s safety. One of his primary goals was to make sure that his members would have the best life possible. He was quite young when he took the pack over after challenging—and killing—his uncle for leadership. Duncan hated the way his uncle used and abused his power as Alpha of the pack. Women were being used for his sole pleasure, couples were not allowed to mate until the Alpha had his way with the females first. Some tried to run away but were caught before they could leave the island.

Some were killed in front of the rest of the pack as an embellished way to keep the members in line. On the full moon, the pack was not allowed to shift and run together. According to his uncle, that pleasure belonged to him alone. Duncan’s uncle told the pack that the previous Alpha was weak, which was why he was easily defeated by their enemies. He put more fear in the pack members telling them the goddess of the moon saw fit to bless him with her strength and considered the members weak and needed him to guide them.

Duncan was a child when his father, Thorin, was killed. He was not aware the role his uncle, Bradley, played in Thorin’s death. There were two things his uncle wanted: Galicia, who was Duncan’s mother, and the pack. Duncan couldn’t believe his uncle held such jealousy in his heart to kill his own brother. No one spoke of how his father died. It was forbidden, punishable by death to even mention his name. After Thorin’s death, Bradley approached Galicia and offered to be her mate, but Galicia turned him down. Bradley became furious and punished the pack instead.

When he got older and found out what happened to his father, and that his uncle was the one that killed him, Duncan acted by challenging his uncle. He was only eighteen when he took over the pack.  Galicia who was still depressed because of her mate’s death moved to Virginia to live with her sister. She was too heartbroken at the loss of his father to stay in the pack. His mom looked happy when he saw her a few months before Mari died. Duncan and Mari were ecstatic when she announced that she had opened her heart again to the possibility of love and finding a new mate. Her mate was gone, but there was nothing wrong with having someone to love again in her life.

After taking over the pack, Duncan was ridiculed by the same pack members he saved from his uncle’s tyrannical rule. That was so long ago, but at times it still felt as if it were yesterday. It took him quite a while to gain the trust of his pack members. Duncan was one hundred and fifty years old but looked like a man in his late thirties. After taking over the pack, he appointed his best friend, Ryland Burnett, as his Beta. Ryland’s father was also killed by his uncle for being an opposition to his uncle’s tyranny and for the color of his skin. He and his mother were allowed to remain in the pack because she was the right color and his uncle was not afraid of a weak-minded woman.

Duncan also named Ryland’s three cousins, Parker, Charlie, and Sebastian, as his enforcers of the pack. They had been more than just his Beta and enforcers; they had become his family. Duncan worked hard on building up his pack and changing their image. He attended community college and studied business and finance. He used his smarts and invested money into the pack and ultimately his company.

Before Duncan took over, the women in the pack were not even allowed to better themselves, such as attending school. The men were considered the authority apart from the Alpha. Little things were seen as punishable offenses, such as associating with humans. Duncan had done a lot to change the image of his pack. He felt the more the pack stayed hidden, the easier it would be for them to be found out.  They had a target on their backs, no matter if they stayed hidden or not. Duncan wanted his pack to live in the light instead of staying hidden.

There are other organizations like the Blackburn hunters who would stop at nothing to try and eradicate his pack and others like him. However, they are not as organized or well-funded as the Blackburn Organization. Duncan felt hiding would bring more suspicion. Living in the spotlight also has its disadvantages, one would be his appearance. Duncan reinvented his image so that it would not draw too much attention or questions from reporters. Duncan had lived a long time, and if others looked close enough, there would be questions as to why he hadn’t aged in his early thirties and how he was able to keep his youthful appearance.

To the humans of this world, he was Duncan Pryde, the fourth who took over his father’s company after the man died. No one seemed to question why he looked almost the same as his father. The easy answer was the strong genetics that ran in their family. The Pryde pack had come a long way. He had to work hard to get over the emotional scar that continued to hang over the pack. Duncan prided himself, knowing that his pack was more accepting than others. A few years after he took over, the pack started to grow. Members were finding their mates and having pups. Duncan prided himself on being an open-minded Alpha and allowed his members to voice their likes and dislikes with respect. He practically bought the entire island of Cypress, so that his pack could expand and his members could live in peace.

Coming back to the present, Duncan looked down at the files resting on his lap.  He needed someone he could trust to take care of the twins when he had to travel out of town or when he had to work late at the office. Duncan knew he had to be selective. It would be easier to choose one of the female lykosians from his pack. But in the past, he realized they were using the pups to get close to him. Being the mate of the Alpha came with a lot of privilege. The pups they would have would be powerful, and the next to become the Alpha of the pack, no matter the gender. Duncan was not above naming a female as the Alpha of his pack. Strength came from how an Alpha cared for the members of its pack and not how well they could thrash his or her opponent in a match.

As old as he was, Duncan was not ready to settle down with a mate; which was why he was not looking or pining for one. Duncan was aware of his obligation to provide Alpha pups for the pack. As crazy as it might sound to others, he wanted to be in love and not be forced to sleep with a female lykosian because of the needs of the pack. Love mattered to him. He wanted what Mari and Ben had. He saw and felt the love between them, and at times it made him jealous. But he was also happy for them.

Duncan sighed as he flipped through the file of Jordan Sutton and Samantha Jones. Both candidates answered his questions truthfully, he did not smell any deceit coming from them. Also, their references checked out, as well as their background check came back clean. Decision made, Duncan made specific notes on each folder as to who was hired for what position. The next morning, he would send the documents off to his human resources department and have someone contact both applicants, informing them they got the job.

Copyright © 2017 by Giovanna Reaves

Available to Purchase on Amazon

Meet the Author

 

Giovanna (Gia) Reaves is my alter ego, who is a dreamer. I spend my days and nights dreaming and thinking of the worlds I want to create with words. I started writing about three years ago, when I was introduced to the world of fan fiction. I loved the idea of creating a new world around characters that people already knew about. And ones that are original of my own making. I have written two novels and a few free stories.

I am a mother, wife, and a military veteran. I enjoy trying new things such as traveling, cooking, and reading. I try to incorporate some of the things I have experienced into my books.

Currently living in Newport, RI with my two favorite men. If I am not hidden in my cave writing, I love to read and spend time with my hubby and son. I love listening to R and B along with neo soul when I am writing. When I’m not writing, I am trying to perfect my baking and decorating skills or try to pick up something new. I love spending time with my husband and son playing video games and traveling.

 

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