Liv Olteano on Characters, Books and her latest story ‘Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills’ out on Harmony Ink Press (author interview, excerpt and giveaway)


Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Art : Catt Ford

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Liv Olteano here today talking about books, writing and her latest Harmony Ink story, Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills by Liv Olteano. Welcome, Liv.




Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Liv Olteano


Q: How much of yourself goes into a character?

I often ask myself that question. The truthful answer is I think there’s something of the creator in whatever they create. Just like there’s something of parents in their children, without them being an exact replica of the parents, I believe as writers we put something of ourselves in every story and character we come up with.

Without them being any sort of mirrored image, I believe characters do say something about their writer.

Q: Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

I believe that if a writer uses their own experiences only to create characters, then the results end up feeling stunted, incomplete, and terribly repetitive.

What we do is use everything around us, every moment of our lives and of those around, every melody we ever hear, every feeling anyone has ever expressed in some way that has reached us. There’s a sort of primordial soup bubbling in a writer’s mind and heart, I think. Everything that person has ever experienced, thought, heard, and in any way came into contact with goes into the soup.

It can lead to the creation of countless worlds and characters, and some can have traits or present ideas that are very much connected to their creator; and sometimes the worlds and characters we come up with are shocking to those around us, because they can’t reconcile what they know of us as people with what we create.

I’m not sure if the “perfect” creation would reflect enough of the creator, or of it should reflect nothing of them. What do you think?

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

I’m a geek at heart, truth be told. I’m also a sociologist by training and have studied various cultures and cultural patterns. I love reading about different societies and belief systems, and am fascinated both by what they all have in common, and what sets each one apart. There’s a wealth of information out there, more than any one person can ever hope to have the time and resources to access and understand. But what we do manage to find out and experience goes into that creative primordial soup.

When a story comes to me, it comes with its setting and world traits, as well as its characters. I do research on whatever I feel can strengthen what came to mind at that point – cities, cultures, folklore, anything and everything. I love the research stage of the process. It’s when that primordial soup is at its finest, shaping up clear directions and solidifying in what later becomes that story.

I love the freedom of creating something of my own and including facts or aspects of the real world – it’s the mix of things that is interesting, after all. Always much more interesting than each element on its own, right?

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

As a reader, I can enjoy either – it really depends on the writing, on how invested I am in the characters and the story itself. I find I enjoy the ‘falling for’ bit of the story the most, in fact. All that tension, all the uncertainty. I’m a very evil reader, lol. I love tormented characters and love to see them squirm, haha. Once that part of their interaction is over things can still be fun, but the most fun for me is when it’s the toughest for the characters, mwahaha.

As a writer, I generally go where the story wants me to – I don’t like putting pressure on my characters to interact in a certain way so it would lead to a certain ending.


Watching her father’s termination, twenty-year-old Cristina Mera Richards decides to kill the reaper Edgar Verner. Verner is the resident alkemist of New Bayou, though, and since alkemists are immortal, killing him won’t be easy. But the harvesters are destroying the hovertown one citizen at a time. Edgar Verner must be stopped.

Cristina Mera has a gift for seeing and hearing ghosts. She escorts souls out of bodies ravaged by the withering sickness, taking away their pain. Her gifts are unique. Once it’s clear she’s a changeling, Verner becomes more than interested in having her by his side.

Mysterious Wanderer Alkemist Nikola Skazat is the solution to Cristina Mera’s problems—a delightful and charming one, since Nikola is a woman unlike any Cristina Mera has ever met. Becoming Nikola’s apprentice instead of Verner’s finally gives Cristina Mera the opportunity she needs to save her hovertown. It also puts her heart in high gear, gives her butterflies, and just might get her killed.



Chapter 1

“It was night. It was always night.

Since the Final War, the skies had been covered in thick clouds that allowed no light to pass through. The Outside air was poisoned. The Old World was covered in a thick layer of soot. A dead world rotting away under a coat of darkness. And we had killed it, history said. Now we were dying too. Or would have been were it not for alkemists and their hovering platforms that housed us and filtered the air that we breathed. The alkemists had saved us, the story went. But in order to be saved, people had to make sacrifices.

In our town, New Bayou, the sacrifices consisted of terminations, soul extractions, becoming golems, paying fines for negative float factors, and allowing the hover platform resident alkemist to be our lord and ruler. Our resident alkemist had declared that civilized towns had to have a mayor, senators, and policemen. But what our authorities did was anything but civilized.

We had traditional times of day and night that followed the cycles we were told existed back when the sun rose and set. Clocks told us what time it was, and we used terms like “day” and “night” for the endless darkness of the skies. We separated time into hours, weeks, months, and years, though nothing much ever changed except for the citizens of each platform. Or at least on ours. We didn’t travel often between platforms. It was too risky to try.

Today was a termination day. It was staged as a grand event, always. People gathered in the town hall, in the terminations room, specifically, to witness the sacrifice citizens were making for the greater good. Or the punishment inflicted on those found guilty of a crime. At least once a week, a dozen citizens at a time were terminated. Sometimes the authorities required more or settled for less—it all depended on how much float fuel the engines needed.

Death lounged against the window frame. It seemed eager to pick up the dozen souls still residing in the bodies lined up. Max Richards—my father—was among them. The sacrifices stood proud and brave, condemned while their runes shone in bright colors nobody besides me and Death itself seemed to see. The rune tattoos were supposed to give them strength, courage, and quiet of the mind while they waited. Nobody wanted to have a restless soul right before termination. It might change the float factor of their soul and make their sacrifice futile. Of course no one wanted those dozen souls to have anything but positive float factors.

I thought those runes were simply signs of condemnation. Death was death, as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t a brave sacrifice or a glorious gesture. It was simply the parting of the soul from the body. And regardless of the runes, that parting was a painful event.

This batch of terminations was a strange mix of criminals and volunteers. Strangest of all was the fourth volunteer from the right—my father. My heart beat violently, and I looked him straight in the eye. There should have been some sort of emotion in those beautiful gray eyes, but they looked blank. He stared back at me, unreachable, as much a stranger now as he’d been for too much of my life. It made sense, after all, that he’d be a stranger in the hour of his death too. I loved my father the way one loves art: as a concept, for its execution, and from afar. My love for him was a cold kind of love that unsettled the heart, neither tender nor comforting. I liked to think he loved me the same way. It was better than the alternative… that he didn’t love at all.

Edgar Verner—our resident alkemist—walked around the flock of victims, thick-lens goggles hiding his eyes. His presence was insulting in a way I wasn’t allowed by law to even contemplate, but I did contemplate it, felt it and fully embraced it in my heart. I hated Verner because I saw so many of his victims’ ghosts still ambling about the hovertown. Sometimes he deemed souls as having negative float factor after having extracted them from the body, so he didn’t consume them. He simply freed them, left them to wander, lost and terrified, without a body. Once extracted by the alkemic device, a soul was stuck among the living. Nobody had told me so, and I had no way of asking, but I was sure the cupola under which we lived also kept souls within. It seemed to me releasing those extracted souls was an act of pure malice. He had to know they suffered once released in such a manner. I knew they suffered. I heard their wails of fear and despair. And I hated him for it. I hated him even more for having consumed some of the souls himself. He was a reaper, a soul eater, a monster. The town could sing his praises all it wanted. It was easy to. The town couldn’t hear the wails of the ghosts still around. And they wailed on and on, seeming to have no notion of time or place, and no consolation.

I glanced at Death as it sat there and I wondered how it felt about the competition. It stared back at me like we were old friends. In fact we were acquaintances, if I had to find a word for it. We’d seen each other over the last ten years on multiple occasions—never chatted, though. Death never had a thing to say. Perhaps it knew no language, and little need did it have to use one. Its actions spoke loud enough. Just like Verner’s, I thought bitterly, though he chose to speak.

In the crowd of witnesses, I stood numb, oddly detached from the moment. Every now and then my gaze slid back to Death as it lazed against the window. Hair tumbled from its head like a tangled river of blood. Its face, hair, and attire flickered in and out of view. When it grinned, a void opened up on the brink of its lips. It regarded me with holes for eyes.

Silence reigned like a curse over the room, thick enough to choke. Verner pointed slowly to the first victim in the row. The young girl was probably no older than me—I thought she was too young to be terminated. But then again, there never was a good time to die. Was she a volunteer at such a young age? Perhaps a criminal? My stomach seemed to crawl up into my chest.

Death chuckled and took a step closer. The alkemic device in Verner’s palm looked deceptively delicate and beautiful. The thin iridium spokes, nicely held together by a matching iridium frame, held a crystal in place. It was quite a tiny, lovely thing—lovely and deadly. It shone with a rainbow of colors as it began to suck out the girl’s soul. A mirroring pull in my own heart made my skin crawl. My soul seemed eager to abandon ship.

Death frowned and wagged a finger at me like a mother chastising her child. I swallowed thickly as black-cherry hair overlapped the rivers of blood gurgling from Death’s head. Its eyes seemed green for one terrible moment. The face cut my breath short. Of all the times it could have done so, it chose this particular moment to flash at me an image of my dead mother. Was it a twisted sort of kindness on its part to show me the one I’d loved the most and whom it had taken away?

Verner sucked in the young soul through his mouth like a mist of colors that he breathed in. The device in his palm slowly shut down, the crystal’s eerie glow dying out. He licked his lips and grinned.”

Want to read Chapter 1 entirely? Visit Thirteen Mercies, Three Kills on Harmony Ink and click Show Excerpt to read it!


About Liv Olteano

Liv Olteano is a voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional.

She believes stories are the best kind of magic there is. And life would be horrible without magic. Her hobbies include losing herself in the minds and souls of characters, giving up countless nights of sleep to get to know said characters, and trying to introduce them to the world. Sometimes they appreciate her efforts. The process would probably go quicker if they’d bring her a cup of coffee now and then when stopping by. Characters—what can you do, right?

Liv has a penchant for quirky stories and is a reverent lover of diversity. She can be found loitering around the Internet at odd hours and being generally awkward and goofy at all times.



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In the Supernatural Spotlight: A King and a Pawn (Leader Murders #3) by Liv Olteano



A King and a Pawn by Liv Olteano
Series: Leader Murders
Release Date: June 17, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG


Bert Cooper’s life used to be great, until his sister turned out to be a traitor. Now Bert feels the whole pack looks on him with doubt and suspicion. To prove his loyalty, he volunteers to be the first ambassador at Fey Court, gathering information to finally solve the Leader Murders and punish those plotting against the Council and community. At least, that was the plan….

When Bert meets Sir William Matthew Sims, Court Interrogator, and one hell of a sexy man, life becomes a balancing act. And when the Fey King is assassinated, things become really messy.

Pack politics, fey politics, treason, suspicions of treason…. Bert has to choose between being ruled by his fears or standing up for what—and who—he believes in. And it might just break his heart.


Pages or Words: 234 pages, 82,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Mystery, Parnormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Wolf Shifters

Excerpt from A King and a Pawn by Liv Olteano:

“Would you take me in as a trophy, Bert?” he asked, smiling oddly, a sort of indulgent look in his eyes.

I wasn’t going to outsmart him, that was for sure. Luckily I didn’t think I had to.

“I wouldn’t be taking you in at all. You and your kids would simply accompany me. I’m sure you can find something of value to offer me so I’ll be willing to go that way. And then you’d find something of value to offer Weiss and the Council to give you guys, say, political asylum?”

“You’ve thought of everything, haven’t you?”

I shrugged. “I’m sure you did. I don’t think you’re a fool, Will. I’m sure you’re not, in fact. So I’m giving you the courtesy of not treating you as one. A courtesy I hope you’ll give me too.”

“Implying that I have not so far?” he asked, stepping toward me again.

My pulse spiked. “I wasn’t implying that at all.”

We were face-to-face, a step apart at most. My mind stuttered over the few stray thoughts I managed to recognize. It was unusual someone’s presence would affect me this much, this soon. Was he that special? Was our chemistry that special? Or was he using some sort of spell on me? I didn’t think that was beneath him. Magic wasn’t beneath any magic-wielding fey, just like changing into a wolf wasn’t beneath me as werewolf. It was a natural part of who we were. I just wasn’t that used to his natural part, and the very idea made me smile.

“What could I offer you that you’d like to have?” he asked as his breath touched my face with every word he uttered.

“Oh, I could think of several things,” I replied.

He leaned toward me. His lips brushed against mine now when he spoke. “I could think of several things I’d like to offer you as well.”

I gulped. Shit, I couldn’t think with my dick. Not now at least. I so wanted to. It would be so easy to whisper it sweetly: “Fuck my brains out and I’ll be on your side.” But I wasn’t here for shits and giggles, so I couldn’t. There was no reason I couldn’t hope I’d get a fuck out of the situation somewhere down the line. The more time we spent together, the better chance of that happening. That was pretty solid motivation to spin things in a way that would benefit us all in the end. There. I wasn’t doing this for my selfish fuck-greedy self but for the greater good. I was a fucking humanitarian, feyitarian, whateveritarian.

“I’ll only ask for one small thing for myself,” I whispered softly.

He brushed his lips against mine. The touch sent little fiery thrills down my nerve endings, from the skin of my lips right to the pulsing muscle of my heart. I felt his breath hitch at the contact, and the idea it might affect him almost as much as it was affecting me sent a shiver down my spine. We could have been faking it, both of us. This was a negotiation of sorts, and now was the time to bring on our top game. But I felt it in my gut that this connection was real, that it wasn’t bullshit for either one of us. I just knew it in the pit of my stomach. I wondered if he knew it too, as clearly as I did right in that instant.

His scent didn’t assault my senses since he’d been hanging out in my personal space for a while now. My senses were bathed in his scent already. But I could feel the pounding of his heart as I deepened the kiss; I could feel his muscles clench and unwind with sensual tension while my body sang with it. Fuck me sideways, I wanted him right now. I wanted him so bad it almost gutted me. The feel of him languidly moving his tongue against mine made my blood turn into liquid fire, scalding my insides and bringing up my body temperature to heights I didn’t think I’d felt before after just kissing. Everything in my body screamed, This. This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for, for so fucking long!

“What do you want?” he asked after he pulled back, his forehead leaning against mine.

Fuck, fuck it, fuck! “I want all the information you can get from the Archives on a certain topic.”


Buy the book:





Meet the author:

Liv Olteano is a voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional.

She believes stories are the best kind of magic there is. And life would be horrible without magic. Her hobbies include losing herself in the minds and souls of characters, giving up countless nights of sleep to get to know said characters, and trying to introduce them to the world. Sometimes they appreciate her efforts. The process would probably go quicker if they’d bring her a cup of coffee now and then when stopping by. Characters—what can you do, right?

Liv has a penchant for quirky stories and is a reverent lover of diversity. She can be found loitering around the Internet at odd hours and being generally awkward and goofy at all times.

Where to find the author:


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Parker Williams, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Happily Ever Chapter, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews,

MM Good Book Reviews, The Jena Wade, The Dark Arts, Book Lovers 4Ever, Velvet Panic,

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Bayou Book Junkie, A.M. Leibowitz, BFD Book Blog, Full Moon Dreaming, My Fiction Nook,

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Havan Fellows, The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat,

EE Montgomery, Gay Media Reviews, Kirsty Loves Books, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words,

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A BJ Review: The Heracian Affair (Space Files R #1) by Liv Olteano


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

The Heracian Affair coverRizzo Berg is tormented by memories of his lost lover and Dom who died in combat years before. After yet another in a string of really disappointing dates, Rizzo goes to sleep in his apartment and wakes up on a spaceship with an alien Captain Conrad D’Ollet of Heracia, a man so dominant Rizzo’s knees turn to jelly. The Heracians need help, and Rizzo is a humanitarian, and the perk of spending more time around Conrad isn’t one of the reasons he offers that help, right? They seem made for each other. But Conrad has his own past and neither man is willing to risk his heart, let go of the past, and believe in a future together.

This is an unusual and well-written erotic space romance with angst, BDSM, aliens, and action. It begins as insta-lust based on both physical attraction and dominance, but morphed into more quite rapidly.

The world building was enough to give me a good feel for it without getting bogged down in description as some fantasy/sci-fi can do. For the most part, the author did an excellent job of giving just enough to paint a picture while not letting the details interfere with the flow of the story. A few things that I would have really enjoyed though are a bit more physical description of Heracians, and some background on how their AI/biological combo had come about.

Speaking of the flow, this is a quick-paced story that kept my attention and made me smile a lot. I completely enjoyed Riz’s snarky, abrasive personality. He was so fun! Adored the scene that resulted in them becoming bonded due to Riz’s error in cultural understanding. OMGosh, that was just hilarious. Then there are the cute nicknames Riz tends to use, his irreverence, brazen sexuality, and ballsiness are a perfect next to Conrad’s calm determination. Overall, a very fun read.

I’m not a huge fan of the cover by Brooke Albrecht, mostly because I’m not really sure what it is or how it relates to the story. The concept just doesn’t come across to me.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press   All Romance (ARe)    Amazon      Buy It Here

Book Details:  

ebook, 131 pages
Published March 20th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 19th 2013)
ISBN13 9781623804350
edition language English

Enter the Wild World of Liv Olteano and Her Leader Murders with “A Counselor Among Wolves” (interview and giveaway)



 A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders #2) by Liv Olteano
(Recommended to be read in order)

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Release Date: May 8, 2015

My Interview with Liv Olteano on werewolves and her books…..

1. Loved the first two stories…how many do you have planned for the series?

Thanks, I’m thrilled to hear that! There are three Leader Murders cases; the third one will sort of conclude the story arc of the Leader Murders. However, I’m thinking about writing more in the same world after that. I’ve fallen in love with the cases structure, hehe. I’d love to keep exploring this world, but there’s nothing uber-decided-upon at this point. I’ll keep you guys updated, though 😀

2. The first story centered around Rick and Travis, the second around Weiss and Timothy Sands, who is the next book about or will it be a combination of couples?

The third novel will feature a new couple, and you’ve already met the main character: Bert. His love interest will be a bit of a surprise, in the sense that he hasn’t made an appearance in the story so far. The setting of the third Leader Murders case will be a bit different too, but I’m not spoiling the surprise yet, mwahahaha.

3. Abuse of partners is a continuing theme here. Rick has still not recovered from his ex’ abuse, Timothy is among those working on the Anti Abuse Act…its a strong theme. Why this element?

Very true. Most often, werewolf or shifter stories include the mate trope – generally meaning a “meant to be” kind of pairing that cannot be escaped/avoided/dissolved. It’s a really juicy trope and you can have a lot of fun with it, introduce a lot of dramatic goodness and tension. But there’s something about matings that are set in stone that makes my mind come up with scenarios in which the result is very likely misery and not bliss. (Yes, I might be slightly twisted, lol. It’s part of my personal charm, haha)

The mates trope ends in happily ever after in paranormal romance, of course. But I kept thinking, “What if that’s not how things go? What if some apples are rotten?”, and abuse versus power-play is one of those themes that interest me a lot. So I wanted to explore a world where the potentially ugly side exists, manifests itself and produces consequences. I wanted to bring up the possibility of “maybe abuse” in that context, in a somewhat realistic paranormal world, with some real-life issues and concerns.
I’m aware the very notion is somewhat anti-trope, and it might be uncomfortable to explore for some mates-trope lovers. But I’m kind of a rebel by nature, so my writing is somewhat in the same vein I guess. 🙂

4. Your werewolves are a darker, manipulative being. I loved your take on them, found it fascinating, even as it manifests itself in Alf. What drew you in that direction?

It’s a cultural thing, I think. I’m from Romania, Europe. You know, Transylvania, Dracula – that Romania. Also the Romania of the Dacians (see Mythological Theories here: ). There’s a strong wolf element in Dacian mythology. The wild, feral nature of the wolf, his strong, undomesticated, impossible to tame nature was part of Dacian identity. I think with or without me intending to, part of that lingers in my thoughts when I’m writing werewolves. I also love that duality, the mix of the feral nature of the beast and the compassionate, considerate human side. I must admit I do love darker, twisty things by large, lol.

5. And to have lycans as well as werewolves as part of your universe?

I have to admit that was for the pleasure of exploring the differences, since werewolves have a stronger animal element in my opinion. I wanted to allow that animal/human balance to go more ways than one. I’m a huge fan of diversity; I think it’s what makes things interesting, intriguing. So the more paranormal beings, the merrier, right? 😀

6. How do you decide how much of the many plot threads to resolve and how many to leave hanging for the next story?

That’s a really good question; some of my readers might accuse me of leaving too much not properly explained or resolved.
I’m a mystery lover myself, and two of my all time fav characters are Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. While I love their accounts of events solving everything and giving all the answers, there’s always a part of me that wishes things to be more flexible somehow, yet decently resolved. I love the idea that the story is written, but still organic – that it can evolve in different ways in the reader’s mind. It’s a delicate balance, and I’m doing my best to find the perfect ratio of answers given to answers you’re free to speculate upon.

The idea of a series also helps me play with that notion. You can come up with your own speculations and potential explanations, for instance, and then in the last book of the series some answers might be given that help you figure out just how close you got to the author’s version of events. Okay, I’m a puzzles-geek, that’s true, but isn’t the idea of that fun? 😀

7. When can we expect the next to be released?

It’s still a work in progress at this point (close to submission, I promise!! Don’t throw things at me! *flees in shame*), so I don’t have any dates. I can speculate that it would most likely be released sometime next year though, once accepted.

8. What’s next for Liv Olteano?

Oh, wow, that’s hard to answer, lol! I’m almost constantly tormented by all kinds of ideas, characters and stories (“Tormented” because it’s frustrating that I never seem to have the time to write them all; there’s probably nothing more frustrating than a yet-untold story, you know?). I never know what’s going to be next until that particular project hits me so mercilessly that I can’t help but dive in.

What I can tell you for sure is that I plan on writing some more in the world of the PBI & company after the third case concludes the Leader Murders arc. I’m hopelessly addicted to paranormal/urban fantasy worlds. Whatever I’ll decide to work on next will be just a wee bit dark and twisty, hopefully fun and somewhat different from what you’re used to – that’s my goal 😀

Thanks for stopping by and for the great interview!

Sequel to A Tooth for a Fang
Leader Murders: Case Two


Goodreads Link 
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback


STRW Author BookSynopsis

Five dead leaders, their bodies arranged in a pentagram. Treason, lies, and backstabbing. A make-believe affair that turns into a real mating.

Timothy Sands is a PBI counselor, half-fey, half-elf, with a secret crush on Herman Weiss, PBI director. As a new chapter is added to the Leader Murders, it is Weiss’s responsibility to investigate what seems an impossible-to-solve case. The other problem? Weiss is suffering from rages, and his only salvation lies in Tim’s emotional-grid-balancing skills. They only have to pretend to be a couple for Tim to use his talents, and he owes Weiss a big favor. Piece of cake, right?

The fey might be involved in the Leader Murders. Someone on the Council might be their ally, and another prominent PBI figure looks more and more suspicious as they investigate. The stakes are upped when Timothy’s father, the Fey King, threatens to leave the Council destitute if they don’t hand Timothy over to him. Weiss’s brilliant solution? Mating Timothy and forcing the Council into protecting him.

There’s only one small hitch in that plan: instead of protecting one, the Council might decide to get rid of two.

Pages or Words: 230 pages

Categories: Crime fiction, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy


STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

He looked up, those gorgeous eyes focused on me like lasers. “Until we sort this out, Sands, you’re my new partner.”

No freaking way. “What?”

“You heard me,” he grumbled. “In case I get a rage, you have to be there to prevent me from lashing out. We both know you can, as fey.”

Of course he had to use the right word now that he was angling for something.

“And we both know I’m not allowed to,” I added, shaking my head. “The Fey Act prevents us from exercising our… special abilities on Council territory. Going against that would make me a criminal before the Council. I might like you alive, but I like me alive even more.”

Weiss stood to his full, impressive height and stepped close to me. I expected some sort of intimidation act. He was Weiss after all—that came to him naturally. His hulking shape loomed over me, his breathing becoming the only thing I could hear. I swallowed and fought the urge to run the hell out of there.

“Look up, Edelweiss,” he almost purred.

The tone was so incongruous with everything Weiss was that I did look up, wide-eyed. All the better, since him standing and me sitting gave me an almost cruel close-up with his crotch.

“There’s an exception from the Fey Act,” he said, grinning crookedly.

“What?” I screeched, shaking my head.

“Think about it, it would fit. You’d watch over my temper, make sure I won’t do anything I’d regret later. Buy me enough time to find out what’s going on,” he added, his gaze turning sad.

This was just too much. “Is this a prank?” I asked incredulously. “You can’t be asking me to hook up.”

He grabbed my arms and pulled me to my feet. “Listen, Edel. If you report me, they’ll put me down. You know they will—it’s the law. The Council can’t afford to do me—of all people—any favors, not after Amanda. They won’t invest the time to look into it. What they will do is write it off as terminal rages and cap me. I’m not asking you to hook up. Just pretend that we’re together for a while… until we figure out what’s going on with me. If we can’t find anything that can be solved in a couple of weeks, I’ll go to the Council and turn myself in. Please,” he whispered. “Do it for Alf at least, if not as a favor to me.”

I gulped. “That’s low, Weiss, bringing your seven-year-old into it.”

His gaze darkened. “If I get a rage when he’s around….” He trailed off and shook his head. “I’m asking you to prevent me from killing innocents. Begging isn’t my thing. But I am begging you to help me now. I’m that desperate.”
“Must be. Nobody ever comes through the door unless under dire circumstances,” I said flatly. “There are other fey around. You could hook up with one of them—for real. They’d level your emotional grid on instinct. Why do you need me?”
“Because I trust you,” he stated simply. “And so does the Council. Trusting someone new would be… difficult right now, for everyone.”
“I understand that, but if you got a fey to fall for you for real, then—”

“Then I’d make the same mistake I did with Amanda,” he said, looking down. “I may have been an idiot then, but I’d like to think I’ve learned some lessons from the whole fucking ordeal. You’re my only option, Sands.”

Weiss leaned in closer, too close. His scent invaded my lungs, the warmth of his body bringing sweat to my temples again. Blood pounded through my veins, the illusion I could somehow, by some miracle, get to touch his lips getting me high. I focused on my thoughts, ignoring my body. This was when it really mattered that I didn’t give myself away. This was when I had to stand my ground, not let my private desires get in the way of my ethics. Ethics were important for a therapist… but Weiss wrapped his arms around me slowly, as if giving me time to bolt. I didn’t try, I didn’t move… I didn’t even dare breathe, waiting to feel his arms close around me. I hated myself instantly for it, but after years of dreaming, and hoping, and stealing glances… the man of my hot, sweaty dreams was going to hold me.

“If I have to actually seduce you, then I will, Edel,” he whispered with a grin in his voice.

I flattened my lips. “Oh, because I’m that easy, you think?”

He chuckled in a self-deprecating way. “Because I’m that desperate.”

My heart broke a little. Of course he’d think seducing me was such a terrible task that he’d only resort to it out of sheer desperation. I tried to hide my hurt feelings, brush them under the carpet. I looked down, hoping my gaze wouldn’t give me away.

“You’re not my type,” I stated coldly.

“You were Travis’s boyfriend for a while there, so I know you like the leader type.”

Shit, this was just what I needed. His mentioning Travis didn’t help at all with my conviction to not do this. I’d broken up with Travis because I’d realized I was actually pining away after Weiss the whole time Travis and I were together. Either Weiss knew, or his killer alpha instincts were pushing him in the right direction. If I balanced his emotions without us being a couple officially, the Council would find out. They had fey consultants to keep an eye out for anyone fiddling with emotional grids. They’d take me in, PBI counselor or not. And Weiss did have a point on the trust thing. He’d have to trust some stranger with a secret that would get him killed, were it to get out.

When alphas got terminal rages, it wasn’t treatable. Their hormones turned them into wild, senseless monsters—they had to be put down, for everyone’s sake. A raving mad Weiss would be even more dangerous than anyone. His family was known for their incredible genes and strength. The thought alone gave me the chills. If the Council got wind of this, they’d put him down—no doubt about it. I couldn’t, in good conscience, turn down his plan, not under these circumstances. Not when a seven-year-old kid—whose mom was going to be executed this week—depended on him.

Weiss was all Alf would have. I couldn’t allow the poor kid to become an orphan. Nobody would ever take in a Weiss alpha-to-be, and we all knew Alf had the alpha hormones. Weiss had gotten him tested. Only a matter of time before the kid reached adulthood and the hormones started flooding his system. I couldn’t just leave Weiss to his fate, not when he’d saved my life five years ago. Not when the thought of a world without him strangled me.

I looked up. “Don’t try to pull that crap with me. I’ll help you because, despite this bastard move of yours, you’re a good guy. I’ll help because you have a seven-year-old son who’s about to lose his mother, and you’re all he’s got. I’ll do this because it’s scientifically interesting to explore the case. But don’t think you can sucker me into it with a grope or a fuck. I can help you right now because I’m half fey. That also means I know when you’re pretending…. I know what you feel as you’re feeling it. You can’t bullshit me, Weiss. And stop calling me Edel.”

He chuckled darkly and took two steps back, assessing me with more interest than he’d ever shown. “Well, go figure. Little Edel has some teeth of his own, and he knows how to bite.”

“I don’t think that pissing me off is what you should go for right now.”

“Maybe not. But it’s fun.”

“Get out of here, Weiss. Go home, think on this until tomorrow morning. If you’re set on going ahead with it, we’ll start this show then.”

He stuck his hands in his pockets and cocked his head to the side. “Oh, no. You’re coming home with me. Don’t look so stricken, we’ll just pretend to be a couple. But we won’t pretend the being together part. We are going to be together, all the time, from now until we figure this shit out. I can’t take the chance of a rage happening when I’m at home.”

I shivered. “You mean you want us to be nose to nose 24-7? Are you insane?”

He snorted. “I don’t think therapists are allowed to use the word. Not nose to nose literally, unless your magic trick requires it?”

“We don’t have to be too close, but in the same house for sure. I’m not strong enough to pull it off over long distances,” I begrudgingly admitted.

It wasn’t something to be proud of. The whole couple dispensation had been given in the Fey Act because being involved with someone made fey balance their lover’s emotional grid on reflex. We couldn’t really help doing it for our lovers—those we actually loved, to be precise. It didn’t matter where they were. But for a long-term singleton fey like me, it was a rusty skill to balance emotional grids. My balancing muscles were dusty and flappy from lack of use. The fact I had a crush on him did help, though I hoped he didn’t know about it. But it would still be hard work for me.

“There you go,” he said. “You’re coming home with me until we solve this shitty situation.”

“You mean you want us to actually live together while we’re pretending?”

He nodded.

“Starting tonight?” I asked in a faint voice.

He nodded again.

“It won’t look good. You’re still officially with Amanda, even if her execution is just around the corner.”

“You think anyone will be outraged because I’m betraying her? If anything, it will show my pack that I still have some sort of balls. They might start doubting that fact after what Amanda did. Besides, a mating is just like a human marriage. Putting an end to it officially is more of a technicality when it’s clear everything is over. It doesn’t keep some from moving on. It wouldn’t keep a werewolf alpha from moving on. It won’t.”

“You’re going to use a fling with me as proof of balls? Seriously?”

“Actually, I’ll be using it as my chance to keep breathing. But if my pack thinks I’m over Amanda, I certainly won’t mind it.

Nobody will. And it won’t look like a fling at all.”

“Sweet flapping wings, what have I gotten myself into?” I muttered, shaking my head and looking at him.

“You’re saving my life, Sands. Shitting around aside, I’ll owe you big time. I’m sure it’ll come in handy to have the PBI director at your mercy,” he added.

I breathed out slowly. “Yeah… I can just picture you being at my mercy, totally in character for you.”

He laughed—loud, full, and rich. The sound made my heart jump in my throat, and I found myself shaking my head and smiling. I allowed warmth to spread through my heart for a moment. Looking on the bright side, I’d get to spend a lot of time with my crush. He was probably annoying, had smelly morning breath, and farted while he slept. After a week or two of that, I’d finally get over him. And I would earn a lot of favors from him in the long run, provided he didn’t end up dead during this experiment—and didn’t get me killed either. I knew just the thing his support would work wonders on. He wouldn’t like it, I was sure, but that was the funny part about favors: once you owed them, you had to deliver.

All I had to do was spend all of my time with a man I’d been fantasizing about for years, balance his emotional grid, and not give away my stupid crush. How hard could that be?

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About the author:

Liv Olteano is a voracious reader, music lover, and coffee addict extraordinaire. And occasional geek. Okay, more than occasional.
She believes stories are the best kind of magic there is. And life would be horrible without magic. Her hobbies include losing herself in the minds and souls of characters, giving up countless nights of sleep to get to know said characters, and trying to introduce them to the world. Sometimes they appreciate her efforts. The process would probably go quicker if they’d bring her a cup of coffee now and then when stopping by. Characters—what can you do, right?
Liv has a penchant for quirky stories and is a reverent lover of diversity. She can be found loitering around the Internet at odd hours and being generally awkward and goofy at all times.

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Tour Dates & Stops: May 9, 2015

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