New Release Blitz for The Vampire’s Angel by Damian Serbu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Vampire’s Angel

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 19, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 106400

Genre: Paranormal Romance, LGBT, historical, gay, paranormal, vampire, revolution, magic

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

As Paris devolves into chaos amidst the French Revolution, three lives intertwine.

Xavier, a devout priest, struggles to hold on to his trust in humanity only to find his own faith threatened with the longing he finds for a mysterious American visitor. Thomas fights against the Catholic Church to win Xavier’s heart, but hiding his undead nature will threaten the love he longs to find with this abbé. Xavier’s sister, Catherine, works with Thomas to bring them together while protecting the family fortune but falls prey herself to evil forces.

The death, peril, and catastrophes of a revolution collide with a world of magic, vampires, and personal demons as Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine fight to find peace and love amidst the destruction.

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Angel
Damian Serbu © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Angel Sighting
14 May 1789

The night at last darkened as Thomas wandered the Parisian streets, feeling the people’s anger. Though the current French environment shunned the wealthy, Thomas’s commanding presence allowed him to walk about with little resistance. Besides, if his personality failed to assuage someone, his American citizenship placated them soon enough. Coming from a land that had already tossed out a king provided him a certain reverence.

The evening proved calm, however, with no one shouting or rioting. Perhaps later, Thomas might venture to the salons for conversation, but for the moment, he watched the common people as he headed from his flat along the Seine toward the Bastille. He sought the poor that evening, not the stuffy rich who bored him even in their nastiness.

Thomas dodged a puddle of mud and almost ran into a wealthy woman.

She grunted but then smiled when she looked up at him. “Pardon me.”

“It was my fault.” Thomas bowed. “I should apologize to you.”

She giggled and walked away, but not before turning around to glance at him one more time.

His reflection in a nearby window reminded him why so many women and men stopped to admire him. His muscular frame, his long black hair tied in a bow at the base of his neck, and his all-black attire, which defied the contemporary fashion of men wearing bright colors, combined to create an allure. Thomas knew he possessed a sex appeal. He captivated them so much they seldom commented with their usual prejudice on his darker complexion.

He turned onto Rue St. Louis and headed north. The houses there were dingier, the streets narrower, and the people dirtier. He traveled well into a residential area and found a secluded corner, the perfect place to watch for that night’s prey.

A few workers stumbled by, already drunk and searching for their homes, then some children frolicked along with a group of women. Still, nothing tempted him. Next, a soldier patrolled the streets and stared at him with suspicion, a prey that proved more to Thomas’s liking. Unfortunately, he saw goodness in the soldier’s face. He would not tempt fate with that one. The young man brushed a lock of blond hair out of his eye and passed as Thomas watched and marveled at his beautiful tight backside when he faded into the night.

Thomas nearly lost his breath when he turned and looked the other way. An angel?

The man had short brown hair, piercing hazel eyes, and soft skin. He carried the slight tone in his muscles, which so attracted Thomas, with a hint of nervousness. Not too masculine, but neither too feminine.

As the gentleman passed, Thomas fell in behind to study him further.

Only after Thomas almost drooled over the beauty in front of him did the clothing hit him. A priest. Thomas shook his head. How on earth did a godlike creature end up serving that vile Catholic Church?

He followed, anyway, hiding among the buildings and trailing so quietly that the priest never suspected a man behind him scrutinized every angle of his body beneath the black robe.

As they passed a narrow street, the priest turned and peered toward the cramped passage, then dashed down it. Thomas rushed to follow and hid in a doorway nearby.

“Can I help you?” the priest asked. “What is it?” He knelt before a young girl, perhaps no more than four, and placed his hand on her shoulder. She sobbed and slumped against the priest, who wrapped his arms around her. “Talk to me. You’re safe. What can I do?”

Her breathing finally slowed. “I’m lost.”

“What’s your name, dear?”

“Delphine,” she whispered.

“Well, Delphine, we’ll find your home. Can you give me some clues?”

Thomas listened as the priest quizzed her. She relaxed as the conversation continued and giggled as the priest joked and moved down the long alley with her, talking to her until he stooped down and picked her up while continuing to chat.

“Do you think we’re close?” he asked.

“I think so.” She looked around, clinging to him.

“Ah! Delphine!” A woman ran toward them, so the priest put the girl on the ground and stood aside as she sprinted to collapse in the woman’s arms.

“Mama,” she shouted.

“I’ve looked everywhere for you,” her mother replied. “What did I tell you about wandering away? We have just moved, after all. You’ll get lost in this big city.” Then she crossed herself. “Abbé, God intervened yet again to save my daughter.”

“Merely one of his servants, Madame.” The sound of his resonant voice sent waves of passion through Thomas.

“How can I repay you?” she asked.

“You owe me nothing,” the priest said as he turned to Delphine. “And you, little one, you must be careful in Paris. You can get lost easily, so stay close to your mother.”

She giggled as he tickled her stomach. “I will, Abbé.”

After they left, the priest turned and his eyes widened when he saw Thomas. He paused.

“Monsieur, pardon me. I didn’t see you.”

“I didn’t mean to startle you, Father. Good evening.” They gazed at each other for a long moment.

“No harm. Good evening, sir.” The priest nodded and walked away.

Too good to be true. Thomas stalked the priest as he turned the corner and entered the gate of a small church. There, Thomas leaned against a building, breathing heavily from the passion that erupted inside him, a longing he must satisfy. He wanted to stand outside the church and wait for the priest, or even knock on the door and talk to him again, but he was too unsettled. He remembered an establishment nearby that would serve his purpose well, so he raced to it, slammed through the doors, and sat before he fell, when a young man of about eighteen years approached him.

“Monsieur, you look unwell. Can I assist you?”

The youngster wasted little time. He needed a bath, but otherwise presented an adorable face and solid little body.

“What are you offering?” Thomas smirked.

“Come, I’ll show you.” He grabbed Thomas’s hand and pulled him up a stairway and into a dimly lit room. “I assume you know this’ll cost you, and that I don’t play the passive role.”

“Quite the entrepreneur. I can pay what you charge.” Thomas closed the door and embraced the youth as he kissed him. With great speed, he threw the youngster onto the bed and tore off both of their clothes.

“Slow down,” the young man pleaded.

Thomas did so and kissed the boy’s neck. His fangs descended, and he softly pricked the dirty skin to taste the blood before he took their interaction further.

“Do you enjoy biting?” the boy asked.

“Only momentarily,” Thomas replied before he plunged his fangs into the vein for a deeper taste.

As the hot liquid flowed across his lips, images of the boy’s life saturated Thomas’s mind. The vision confirmed what Thomas already ascertained. The young man prostituted himself part-time and was a useless degenerate who attacked and robbed innocent people. He assaulted children, including his brother, for sport. Ah, yes. And, of course, he murdered without remorse.

He grabbed the young man’s hair and kissed him, then rolled him over against his will. He struggled for the first time, but Thomas held him tightly.

“I told you,” he said, “I don’t—”

Thomas clamped his hand over the victim’s mouth. “Relax.” He stopped squirming and Thomas let him go. “What if I double the price? Or triple it, even?”

The lad contemplated for a moment. “Triple? Just to bugger me?”

Thomas petted his hair. “Yes.”

“Fine. But I won’t like it.” Yet he ground his ass into Thomas’s crotch.

Thomas thrust inside of him and pounded. The young man wriggled and bit his lower lip, but he never tried to stop Thomas until the vampire finished, his tension released as he exploded inside the nice bubble ass.

Sated, he released the lad, who pushed him off, cursing. “I told you, and I warned you, you ass.” He scrambled off the bed and snatched a knife from under the mattress, and in his nakedness came toward Thomas.

When the youth tried to stab him, Thomas grabbed his wrist and squeezed hard until the blade dropped to the floor. He pulled the young man toward him and stared into his eyes, his expression terrified.

“I thought we had an agreement? Besides, you can’t win. You won’t haunt this city anymore. Go peacefully.”

Thomas bent the boy’s head to the side and plunged his fangs back into the flesh, sucking the delicious blood until the youth’s heart stopped.

Thomas kissed the puncture wounds to heal them and flung the corpse to the floor before dressing, loving that a large city meant no one questioned yet another death. Sexually satisfied and fed, he brushed his clothing off before hurrying down the stairs and out the door without anyone noticing.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He previously authored several novels now out of print, and is excited to reignite his writing with Ninestar Press!

Coming this fall, his latest vampire novel: The Vampire’s Protégé. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at http://www.DamianSerbu.com.

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New Release Blitz for The Vampire’s Angel by Damian Serbu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Vampire’s Angel

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 19, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 106400

Genre: Paranormal Romance, LGBT, historical, gay, paranormal, vampire, revolution, magic

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

As Paris devolves into chaos amidst the French Revolution, three lives intertwine.

Xavier, a devout priest, struggles to hold on to his trust in humanity only to find his own faith threatened with the longing he finds for a mysterious American visitor. Thomas fights against the Catholic Church to win Xavier’s heart, but hiding his undead nature will threaten the love he longs to find with this abbé. Xavier’s sister, Catherine, works with Thomas to bring them together while protecting the family fortune but falls prey herself to evil forces.

The death, peril, and catastrophes of a revolution collide with a world of magic, vampires, and personal demons as Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine fight to find peace and love amidst the destruction.

 Exclusive Excerpt

The Vampire’s Angel
Damian Serbu © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Garden Meeting

Back at his church, Xavier worked in his small garden even after darkness fell and the nearby lantern barely illuminated the street around it, let alone his humble plants.

“Abbé?”

Startled, he whipped around.

“I’m sorry to startle you again.”

Xavier cleared his throat, nervous. It was the man from earlier in the day, with the long black hair, piercing brown eyes, and American accent. “I didn’t hear you approach.” Xavier wiped his hands on his robe.

They stared at each other until the stranger broke the silence. “Perhaps I should introduce myself. Thomas, Father. Thomas Lord.”

Xavier cocked his head, quizzical. “You’re not from Paris.”

“What gave me away?”

“Your accent. And complexion.”

“I’m here on business.”

“Welcome to Paris. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.” Xavier wanted to say more, to keep the man near him, but he was at a loss for words. How strange.

“I—I wondered if… Can I go to confession? With you.”

Xavier smiled. “You’re not Catholic, either.”

“No,” Thomas said. “I’m not. I’m not Catholic, nor of any religion. And I’m not in Paris on business. I’m here by myself and felt lonely. I saw you protect that little girl earlier this evening and thought perhaps you could show me around Paris. I’m from America and wanted to see the rioting.” He stopped. “Sorry to babble.”

Xavier studied Thomas, noting his musculature, even in the dark. It prompted the most sinful of thoughts. “I doubt you’ll find Paris too welcoming these days, but I’d be happy to show you around.” He paused, considering. “You needn’t lie anymore. Just ask if you want my company.”

“Can you forgive me, Abbé? I was confused about your being a priest and what etiquette to use,” Thomas said, watching for Xavier’s response.

“You weren’t sure if I had the time for a heathen?” Xavier smiled. “Or did you fear some divine judgment? Well, don’t. As I said, I’d be delighted to show you Paris.”

“You don’t mind that I’m not Catholic?”

“Not all of us are so narrow-minded as to demand a certain brand of faith from everyone we meet. All of us are God’s children, after all.”

“What am I supposed to call you, then?” Thomas asked, picking at the sleeve of his coat. “Abbé? Father?”

“Since you don’t seek spiritual counseling, and so long as you promise not to enter my confessional, how about Xavier?”

Thomas grinned and a strange little spark danced down Xavier’s spine. “Agreed,” he said. “What would you think of starting my tour of Paris at the Seine? I love the breeze and view of Paris from there.”

“I’d be delighted.” Xavier nodded and smiled in return.

They sauntered toward the river, engaged in easy conversation. Xavier told Thomas about the riots, about the king, and about his view of the revolution. They chatted about mundane matters with no particular destination or motive. Xavier hated that the night ended when they returned to his church and bid adieu. He hoped, with butterflies in his stomach, to see Thomas again, but his fear of rejection kept him from saying anything further.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He previously authored several novels now out of print, and is excited to reignite his writing with Ninestar Press!

Coming this fall, his latest vampire novel: The Vampire’s Protégé. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at http://www.DamianSerbu.com.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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On tour: Blood’s Song (House Milar #1) by Tempeste O’Riley (giveaway)

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Blood’s Song (House Milar #1)
Author: Tempeste O’Riley

Publisher: Encompass Ink, Teen
Release Date: Nov, 24th, 2017

Blurb/Synopsis:

Even in darkness, love lights the way.

Anya awakens alone and afraid in a new world soaked with blood and terror. The only things she knows for certain are her name and that humans are precious.

Unwilling to give in to her hungers, she sets her feet upon a path of discovery, searching for clues to her forgotten past. Along the way she runs headlong into the unimaginable world of the undead and the waiting arms of Nicholas, a fearless nocturnal defender searching for his love, lost in eternity.

Into their midst stumbles Declán, a young, natural born vampire hunter and Guardian whose passion for Anya is only matched by his draw to Nicholas. His arrival could mark the end of their tale, or with the gift of Anya’s blood kiss, it might bring about the beginning of a new chapter for them all.

Fate has a wicked sense of sensibility…
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print

Book Links  Amazon  

B&N

iBooks

Kobo 

About the Author

Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what they couldn’t—defy the hate and come out. He has been their hero ever since.

Tempe is a hopeless romantic who loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. Though new to writing M/M, they has done many things in their life, yet writing has always drawn them back—no matter what else life has thrown their way. They counts her friends, family, and Muse as their greatest blessings in life. They lives in Wisconsin with their children, reading, writing, and enjoying life.

Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®WisRWA, FFPRWA, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Tempe’s preferred pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themselves. To learn more about Tempeste and their writing, visithttp://tempesteoriley.com.

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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

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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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Giveaway

The First ten likes on my page Author Giovanna Reaves Facebook page gets a five dollar Amazon gift card.

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Love a Paranormal Romance? Check out ‘The Alpha’s Prey’ by Lou Kelly (author interview, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Title:  The Alpha’s Prey

Author: Lou Kelly

Publisher:  Amazon KDP

Release Date: 03/01/2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,000 words

Genre: Romance, shifter, paranormal romance

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Lou Kelly here today talking writing and sharing thoughts on her characters from her recent release, The Alpha’s Prey. Welcome, Lou!

✒︎

Let’s Talk Characters with Lou Kelly!

Q: Who is your favorite character in The Alpha’s Prey?

A: That’s a hard question to answer! I always fall in love with my main characters as I’m writing. I figure, if I don’t love them, I can’t expect my audience to fall for them. So, maybe this is cheating, but I’m going to name both of the main characters.

I love Devon’s fighting spirit. He never gives up no matter how difficult the obstacle or how much the odds are stacked against him. He’s a character who’s had to fight hard for everything he’s achieved as a skater, starting out cleaning the ice rink to pay for his lessons as he climbed the ranks to international success. Devon’s career has taught him how to get up after a fall, and that’s a skill he desperately needs in this book.

Aaron is a caretaker. As the alpha of his pack, he’s strong but he doesn’t depend on brute force to lead. Rather, he’s incredibly smart and nurturing. In this story Aaron’s patience is challenged again and again as he waits for his mate to be healed in both body and spirit, but every time he rises to the challenge and makes sure that Devon is loved and protected.

Q: If you had to pick from all of your novels, who would you name as your favorite character?

A: Actually, it would be one of my secondary characters from Unguarded. Bart was such a blast to write. I didn’t intend for him to have such a prominent role in the book, but every time he entered the story he ended up stealing the scene. Writing Bart’s lines made me laugh out loud.

Q: What do you think makes a great character?

A:  Personally, I love a character who is conflicted in some way. I like stories where the two characters have to battle their preconceptions in order to be together. And I love it when there’s a tinge of darkness to a character’s personality.

In The Alpha’s Prey, I enjoyed writing the scenes where Aaron struggles with his powerlessness. In the story, another alpha is hunting Aaron’s mate, and he wants to protect Devon – has to protect him — but his hands are tied when their opponent goes into hiding. Aaron is a strong character, but when he is forced to deal with a situation that’s too often out of control, this allows him to show different aspects of his personality to the reader. He gets scared, frustrated, and even desperate, but he never loses his strength.

Q: What are some of your favorite characters from other novels?

A: I loved the character of Tover in Astrid Amara’s Song of the Navigator. He could have so easily come across as shallow, but he never did. What happens to him is horrible, and as a reader I really had to wonder whether he’d have the strength to forgive. This is one of my favorite m/m novels.

I also loved Lord Crane and Stephen Day in The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles. I adored both of the main characters (Gray and John) in Jordan Hawk’s SPECTR series. And I always love Keira Andrews’ characters as well. Every book she writes ends up on my re-read list!

Synopsis

If there’s one thing Devon O’Leary hates, it’s wolves. Everyone thinks the wolfman he remembers as his abductor is a figment of his imagination, but Devon knows the truth and he has the scars to prove it. Wolf shifters are real; they have sharp claws, horrible fangs, and show no mercy to their victims. And one of their Alphas has claimed him as its prey.

Can two men overcome impossible odds to claim the love that was meant to be theirs? Or will Devon’s past cause him to reject the mate who would do anything to keep him safe?

Excerpt

Aaron Lowell had a splitting headache. Again.
Actually, this was a migraine. Even the gentle lamplight in his log home made his forehead crease with pain and his fists clench. If he were fully human, the fact that he’d been getting migraines would suck, but he’d take some medication and visit his doctor. Maybe get an MRI. The problem was, Aaron was a wolf shifter, and shifters did not get migraines. Alphas in peak condition did not salivate for Percaset on the day of the full moon.
And yet, jesus, mary, and joseph, Aaron’s head fucking hurt.
The television was blaring in the living room and Aaron forced himself to walk the few feet to shut it off, but a national news promo was on, interrupting the hockey game to inform viewers that there’d been a break in the Devon O’Leary case.
Headache or no headache, there was zero chance he was shutting off the television now.
Devon O’Leary was a figure skater, dubbed America’s prince after his gold medal win at the World Championships. He’d been abducted almost four weeks ago, and ever since, Aaron hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the guy. Any abduction was horrific, but there was something about this one that tore at Aaron’s guts and wouldn’t let go.
Maybe he was obsessed with the story because he’d always nursed a secret crush on Devon. Who wouldn’t? Devon was a breathtakingly beautiful Irish twenty-two year old with chestnut curls, striking blue eyes, a perfect ass, and a smile that brought dimples to both cheeks. He had an amazing build, masculine, and yet completely graceful on the ice. As far as Aaron could tell, the kid was perfect: gorgeous, bashful, and talented.
Around here, in the mountains of Holland, North Dakota, Devon was also a hometown hero because he’d grown up in the area and trained at the local Ice Hut, making his way up the ranks by scrubbing floors to pay for rink time until he won his first national competition. Like everyone else in Holland, Aaron had loved watching Devon skate, even though his pack teased him mercilessly. Not that Aaron cared about a little teasing. He was an Alpha, and he could watch figure skating if he damn well wanted to.
Except, now Devon might be dead.
Please don’t say they found his body.
Aaron couldn’t tell whether his nausea was due to the migraine or the news report. Ever since the abduction his wolf had been howling to get loose and rip someone’s throat out. He guessed most people felt that way, minus the wolf part, of course. Something precious had been stolen from them.
Someone precious.
Aaron took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. Honestly, if this was the report where they announced they’d found Devon’s mutilated corpse, Aaron thought his wolf might go crazy.
Finally, the breaking news promo ended and a blonde reporter came on screen, standing in front of a tiny, nondescript hunting shack blocked off with yellow tape. She was obviously deep in the woods, bundled in a hooded fur coat, trying not to shiver in the snow.
The blood in Aaron’s ears pounded so loud he could hardly make out a word the reporter was saying, but he got the gist of the recap as she filled the audience in on Devon’s abduction from the ice rink after one of his training sessions. A photograph of Devon flashed onto the screen, followed by a three second cut of him spinning on ice, a flash of him receiving a gold medal at January’s National Skating Competition, and then a fragment of an interview in which Devon laughed, blushed a gorgeous pink, and shook his reddish brown curls in an unconscious gesture that was so endearing Aaron nearly wept.
Fuck. He was really losing control.
“At long last, there’s a lead regarding the abduction of Devon O’Leary,” the reporter said. “Police have located a remote hunting shack where they believe Devon was being held, maybe even as recently as this morning. The break came after a hunter reported seeing a bound figure being carried to a flatbed truck, and police have been scouring the area since the report came in. What they’ve turned up has been, to say the least, disturbing.
“Although police aren’t commenting on the specifics of what was found inside this shack, they have confirmed that blood and other sources of DNA have been brought to a lab where technicians will determine if they belong to Devon O’Leary. As to whether the bound figure was dead or alive, the witness couldn’t be sure.
“Devon’s only surviving relative, his grandmother, Layla O’Leary, and his coach, Ivan Jacobowitz, have both been in constant contact with authorities and have said that this news gives them hope that Devon will be found. They’re pleading with the public to be on alert for anything that might bring Devon home.”
The reporter looked forlorn, and Aaron wondered if that was due to the news about Devon or the freezing temperatures on the mountain.
“According to the witness,” she continued, “the truck was a rusted, blue Chevrolet without plates and the man carrying the bound figure was described as Caucasian, approximately six foot four, abnormally large and muscular with red hair, a full beard, and a scar across one cheek. Police are asking the public to be on alert for signs of this man or his vehicle.”
Police sketches covered the screen and Aaron drew in a sharp breath at the sight.
No. No, no, no.
The sketch of the abductor had the classic profile of a wolf shifter. Large and muscular were the same two words people used to describe Aaron when they first met him, but there was more: a certain sharp cut of the features that spoke of an Alpha wolf. The shoulders were too broad, the facial features more chiseled, and the eyes … even in a black-and-white sketch, the eyes seemed to glow.
“No.” Aaron repeated the only word his aching brain could conjure. “Please, no.” He ran his fingertips down the length of the television screen as if he could reach inside and pull Devon out. Rescue him from his tormentor.
The sound of his front door slamming shut pulled Aaron’s attention back to reality. His Beta and best friend, Georgia, stepped inside, shaking snow out of her waist length, curly brown hair and removing her pale pink parka. She glanced at Aaron, and then at the television.
“I came as soon as I could,” she said. “Heard the news report on the radio and I had a feeling you’d be melting down.”
Aaron grunted. “Why would you think that?”
Georgia’s eyes strayed to Aaron’s living room wall. Newspaper articles and photographs of Devon were pinned to every wooden beam, even taped to the window pane. Each lead the police had produced thus far – not that any of them had panned out – were pinpointed on a large map tacked between Aaron’s framed college diploma and his UND Hockey poster. A glossy, color cut-out from Skating magazine showed Devon’s smiling face.
“Okay. Maybe I’ve been a bit obsessive,” he admitted, “but the guy’s a local. I know his grandmother, for god’s sake.”
“You know his grandmother because you started visiting her at the assisted living facility after Devon’s abduction,” Georgia reminded him. Gently. For someone whose wolf form was as big as her Alpha’s, Georgia was surprisingly gentle. Even in human form she stood only slightly smaller than Aaron’s broad, six foot four frame, yet she still came across as delicate.
Aaron shook his head. “Yeah. I guess that’s true. I feel like I’ve known her forever.” Over the past month he’d found this sort of thing happening a lot. His head felt muddled, as if every thought had to travel through a thick layer of fog before an idea could emerge. “She’s an amazing woman. She’s already lost a husband, a son, and a daughter-in-law. I can’t imagine how she’s surviving. Maybe I’ll stop by tonight and –”
Georgia cleared her throat, reaching over to shut off the television. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten what night this is.”
“What? Oh. Right. Of course not.” But for a moment, Aaron had forgotten. How the hell had he forgotten about the full moon? For shifters, the full moon beat in their veins, literally speeding up the flow of blood so their whole body felt vibrant and alive, ready to split open at any moment. Not a feeling one could easily forget.
“The pack is looking forward to running. You know your mood has been affecting them over the past few weeks. They need this release, Aaron.”
“Yeah. I know.”
He did know. He’d had his first nightmare after the previous full moon waned, quickly followed by his first migraine the next day, and in the weeks since he’d been sluggish, irritable, and nearly incapable of making a decision. Basically, the opposite of everything his pack deserved from their leader.
“Relax,” Georgia said, as if she could read his mind. “No one expects you to be perfect. You’re a damn good Alpha and five years of doing everything right isn’t going to be erased by one bad month. Especially not when there’s clearly something wrong with you.” She paused. “Uh, medically, I mean. The pack is worried, that’s all. We want to see you healthy and it’s scary that Doc doesn’t know how to treat you. Everyone’s hoping that shifting on the full moon will help.”
Aaron couldn’t deny that he’d been hoping for the same thing. Shifters were supposed to heal quickly. Long term illnesses weren’t a part of shifter life until they grew old, but for him, there was even more resting on the full moon shift because the truth was, Doc not only couldn’t cure him, he couldn’t find anything wrong with Aaron in the first place, which meant that whatever was going on was probably in his head.
Even now he could hear Doc’s patient voice. “You took over this pack real young, Aaron. I understand your father wanted to take the position with the council up in Canada, but you’re not mated and you were just out of grad school. Running a pack and a business is a lot of stress for someone your age.”
According to Doc, Aaron had latched onto Devon’s case in an attempt to channel his own latent anxiety into something concrete. Maybe that was true, but Aaron hadn’t been conscious of any out-of-the-ordinary stress before everything fell apart. The pack ran a business building custom log homes, and sales were booming. He’d been able to use his MBA to bring in new customers and nearly double their clientele. Sure, he missed his father, but he loved being Alpha. Leadership was in his blood. Literally.
“Have you eaten anything today?” Georgia asked, walking into his kitchen. She didn’t wait for an answer, rummaging through his refrigerator and stacking mounds of leftover bacon, baked beans, and a pile of carrots onto a paper plate. “You need fuel for tonight.”
She walked back out and set the plate on his coffee table, but Aaron ignored her. He took a red pushpin and stuck it onto the map at the location where the hunting shack had been found. Aaron stared at the pin. The spot was about three hours north in rugged terrain, but it would be possible to get there by nightfall.
“What are you thinking?” Georgia asked, reaching over to massage his shoulders. Aaron was suddenly aware that he’d been wearing the same shirt for three days straight, and he hadn’t shaved, so dark stubble was turning into a full beard. He kept his black hair cut short most of the time, but it had grown out into a ragged, unkempt look, made worse by the circles under his eyes.
“I, uh … we’re going to run here tonight.” He reached out and placed a finger on an area just north of the pushpin where a single dotted line indicated a logging road. Georgia stopped massaging.
“Aaron, I know you want to find this guy, but …”
Aaron whirled on her. “It’s not that I want to find Devon. I need to find him. And he needs to be found. This area isn’t claimed by any pack, so there’s no reason we can’t run here.”
“No reason except that the whole mountain is probably crawling with police.”
“You know humans, they’ll stop searching at nightfall, especially with the temperature dropping.”
Georgia pursed her lips. “Then there’s the three hour drive there and back. Parents with pups will have to get childcare at the last minute, or else we’ll have to leave someone behind to watch the little ones.”
“Ask a few of the elders to stay. Tell them it’s a personal favor for their Alpha.”
“You should also consider the pack’s feelings. They’re already confused about why you’re so obsessed with Devon’s disappearance, and this sudden change in plans won’t help matters.”
“Enough!” The word came out in a stifled roar and ended on a growl. “I’m still the Alpha, and if I say we run here tonight, then that’s where we run. Unless anyone wants to challenge me for my position, in which case they can try their best.”
Georgia made a startled yelp and lowered her eyes to the floor, tilting her head to show her submission. “Of course not, Aaron. No one is challenging your leadership. We love you and support you. I’m just saying it will be difficult to pull everything together at such late notice.”
“I don’t care,” Aaron said. “Do whatever it takes. Anyone who has a valid reason to stay home can run here with a smaller pack or stay with the kids, but I expect everyone else to be ready to leave by four o’clock. We’ll fan out around the base of the mountain and work our way up. This isn’t a request; it’s an order.”
Georgia nodded, but they both knew she wouldn’t have to repeat the last part. Even now the pack could probably sense Aaron’s intensity. They’d feel it in rippling waves of emotion, capped off with the need to obey.
“I better get started then,” she said, reaching for the parka she’d just discarded. She paused, looking back up. “Aaron, is there something you’re not telling me? Something else driving your desire to run in that territory? I mean, besides the obvious.”
Georgia could always tell when he was holding back. That was part of what made her an ideal Beta.
Aaron sighed. “I didn’t like the sketch of the possible abductor that the police released.” He shrugged. “I know it’s just a composite and the witness could be wrong about what he saw, but …”
“But what?”
“The guy looks like a wolf shifter. An Alpha.”
Georgia’s eyebrows climbed up her forehead.
“I realize this probably sounds insane considering I’ve only seen one pencil sketch,” Aaron said, “but if you think about it, the whole scenario points to a shifter. Devon was abducted on the morning after the full moon ended. If he’s been alive this whole time, that means someone has kept him hidden, and now he’s been moved right before the next full moon ascends. I know it’s not much, but I think we have to check things out.”
Georgia set her hand on his arm. “Actually,” she said, “it’s a lot. If there’s even a chance that you’re right, we need to take that shifter down.”
Aaron let out a breath. “Thank you.” There were so many reasons to love Georgia he couldn’t count them all. Her unconditional support was in the top ten.
“I’ll rally the troops,” she said. “Worst thing that happens, we rule out the idea that Devon’s being kept in that area. Best thing? We save that kid’s life, take down a rogue Alpha, and become the heroes of Holland, North Dakota.” She grinned, flashing the wide smile that could rival any Hollywood actress.
Aaron reached over and pulled her close, planting a kiss on her cheek. “Tell me again why we’re not mated?”
She winked, bumping him with her hip. “Could be because Walt would complain. I swear, he gets the Mate-of-the-Year award for coming in second place all the time and not leaving me. If you didn’t prefer men, he’d have dragged me off to another pack ages ago.” She paused, giving Aaron a look. “You know, Walt has this theory that Devon is really your mate and that’s why you’re so drawn to his case. He says your wolf is in pain because it has a psychic link with its soul mate. Might explain the migraines.”
Aaron laughed. “Nice theory, except for the minor detail about the guy being fully human. Trust me, I sniffed around his old apartment and didn’t find even a trace of wolf scent.”
“I don’t know,” Georgia said. “I’ve heard of other wolves being mated to humans. It’s pretty rare, but it happens.”
“Not to Alphas,” Aaron said, shaking his head. “Doc says we’re genetically designed to be mated with female wolves so we can continue the pack. He’s sworn up and down that when the time comes and I meet my mate I’ll feel attracted to her. I told him that if I was going to be attracted to any woman it would be you.”
Georgia laughed. “You put too much stock in Doc’s opinions. He’s a sweet old man, Aaron, but he’s been the only wolf doctor in this tiny, backwater town since before we were born. I don’t even know if he got a medical degree or if he just learned the art from his grandfather.”
“So what are you saying?”
“Nothing. Just that Doc’s been wrong before and crazier things have happened.” She pulled on her coat and headed to the door. “I’ll see you later,” she said. “If Devon’s out there, we’ll find him.”
Long after the door shut, Aaron stood in the same exact spot, staring at the wall. He tried to hold the idea of Devon being his mate in his mind, but the thought brought his migraine back full-force. If he were to believe that was true, it would mean that someone had taken away the man meant to be his soul mate and held that man captive in a hunting shack for a month, while he did god only knew what to him.
Aaron’s head spun. No. Better not to go there. The idea was crazy to begin with, and there was nothing to be gained from entertaining the thought. He needed to sleep for an hour or two before the pack headed out. Give in to his body’s demands before he exerted himself.
Slowly, Aaron crawled up the stairs and flung his tired form onto his bed. He closed his eyes, knowing he’d dream about dimples and chestnut curls, arms reaching out to him, desperate and in pain, pleading for his help.
Begging to be found.

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Meet the Author

Lou Kelly loves a great romance. Having honed her skills as an author through a decade of writing and publishing, she discovered m/m fiction and fell in love. What does she like best? The slow burn.

“No insta-love for me. I adore a well-developed full-length novel with characters who are believable and sympathetic. My favorite relationships are the kind where suppressed desire sizzles with sexual tension struggling for release. Give me a strong Alpha male who has to fight for his mate, or enemies who are shocked when hate turns into love, or a mysterious stranger who doesn’t want his secrets revealed … I crave books that keep me up past my bedtime.”

When she isn’t writing, Lou Kelly loves to travel. Sadly, most of her traveling these days happens between the pages of books, but top on her wish list is a trip to Greece. Followed by New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland. *sigh* Someday she hopes to explore them all. Until then, you can find her reading! – Lou Kelly is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), and a proud member of RRW (Rainbow Romance Writers).

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T. Strange is Back with More Zombies with My Zombie Fiance’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Author: T. Strange

Title:  My Zombie Fiancé

Series Title and Number: The Undead Canadian Series #2

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date:  July 13th, 2016

Heat Level: 2

Pairing: Male/Male

Length:  63,000 words

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Horror, Gay Romance, Bisexual, Humor

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Synopsis

Edward Grey is no stranger to the undead; since raising his cat as a zombie when he was a child, he and his mentor Mariel have explored and developed his power as a necromancer. Despite everything he’s learned, as a necromancer and a medical student, he’s never encountered a ghost.

While Mariel is unreachable in Haiti on mysterious business, a ghost wakes Edward in the middle of the night, claiming to be his grandfather. When the ghost offers to teach him about this different form of undeath, Edward has little choice but to trust the spirit.

After receiving a phone call from a young girl claiming her father is possessed, Edward and his Undead Canadian fiancé, Kit, must travel to an acreage in Kingston…Ontario.

The haunting proves far more complicated than Edward could ever have guessed, and he finds himself pitted against an ancient evil determined to engulf everyone on the farm.

Edward’s love and connection to Kit will be tested, and his necromancy stretched to his limits as he has to find—and destroy—a twisted spirit more powerful than anything he’s ever encountered.

Excerpt

Edward, answer the phone.” In our hurry to undress so we could ‘get Kit to sleep’, my phone had ended up on Kit’s side of the bed. He passed it to me, narrowly avoiding smacking me in the face with it. Miraculously, it was still ringing.

 

“’lo?” I managed.

“Is this Edward?”

It was a little girl’s voice, I thought. I didn’t know many little girls, so I made my best guess.

“Tia? It’s the middle of the night; I can’t come over to play right now. Isn’t it way past your bedtime? Go to bed. Bed is nice.” I closed my eyes, almost dropping the phone when my hand relaxed.

My neighbor two houses down has a very precocious four-year-old niece. She likes to play actual doctor with me—nothing creepy! I’ve taught her a few basic stitches for fixing her toys and dolls, though I suspect she may damage them on purpose so she can practice with me. Whoops. I also let her use my stethoscope and a few other safe, child-friendly pieces of medical equipment. I’ve heard her tell her aunt she wants to go to uncle Edward’s house, so I also suspect at least part of the reason she visits her aunt is to see me.

“Who’s Tia? This is Sarah. Mariel said that I should call you if it happened again. It happened again.” There was an expectant pause.

I don’t know anyone named Sarah, never mind a young girl. “Mariel told you to…? In case what happened again?”

“My daddy’s possessed,” she said, very calmly and matter-of-factly.

I felt goosebumps prickle along my arms at the word. I knew precisely as much about demonic possession as anyone who’d watched The Exorcist, and I had no idea what had, well…possessed…Mariel to refer this girl to me for help. “What exactly did Mariel say?”

The girl, Sarah, sighed deeply. She probably thought I was pretty slow, and at the moment I couldn’t blame her. “She said, call Edward, he’ll know what to do.” She sounded impatient, but not frightened. Maybe her father was possessed by something more benign than a demon.

Mariel had told her I could help, so I would do my best. Even though it was 3 AM and I knew nothing about possession. “What’s your daddy possessed by?” Not words I ever thought would come out of my mouth.

“Mister Jenkins.”

Mister Jenkins. That didn’t sound very frightening. “And what does Mister Jenkins do while he’s possessing your father?” Had she named the…spirit? It sounded like something a child might come up with.

“Not very much. He makes breakfast.” She lowered her voice. “Mister Jenkins is a better cook than daddy.”

Not much of a haunting, if movies were anything to go by. I envisioned a comedy, sort of like Three Men and a Baby, but with a ghost. Besides the one apparently caught on tape when they’d filmed that movie, come to think of it. “Does he…scare you?”

She laughed, high-pitched and genuine. “No, silly! I like Mister Jenkins, but Mariel says it’s bad for daddy if he stays too long.”

This was one of the strangest conversations I’d ever had, and I’ve lived with Kit for more than a year. And I’d dated Bone. It was even stranger than my recent conversation with my grandfather. “Where do you live, Sarah?” If there was a way to do an exorcism-by-telephone, I didn’t know it. Not that I knew any kind of exorcism, but hopefully I had enough time to find a solution before Mister Jenkins…burned toast or something. Maybe I could come up with something if I was physically present.

“Kingston.”

I had to go to Jamaica? If Mariel was in Haiti, she was much closer. I didn’t know why she didn’t just pop over and take care of Mister Jenkins.

Kit would love a tropical vacation—I wondered if his fair skin would tan or burn, or if his undeath made him immune? I wondered if he would be upset about it, one way or the other.

I was less than thrilled by the thought of the tropics. I don’t like heat, or the diseases that tend to accompany it.

“It’s in Ontario,” Sarah said, sounding very pleased with herself.

Oh. Kingston, Ontario. That was a relief, even if it was black fly season.

Great, now I’d have that song stuck in my head for days.

“Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can. Can you tell me your address?” I would have to fly—driving would take several days, even if Kit and I switched and we drove continuously.

“No, but Mister Jenkins can.”

Her voice was replaced by a man’s, gentle and with a hint of a British accent. Part of his directions were, “Past Kingston Family Funworld”, which definitely sounded like a place to avoid. He apologized that he couldn’t meet me at the airport because he was bound to the house.

That was a good excuse. I wished I could use it.

My grandfather hadn’t been bound to a particular place, but he had reminded me over and over that he wasn’t a typical ghost. I wondered if most ghosts had a limited range, or if Mister Jenkins was unusual in that regard.

I told him I’d call when we landed, and he hung up.

I turned on my bedside lamp. “Kit, sweetie?” I poked him, gently.

“Mmm…”

“I have to go to Kingston.” It was a good thing I had a few weeks off from school. Hopefully I would get time to study during this trip. Study medicine, that is, not necromancy.

That got Kit’s attention. He gave a happy shriek and grabbed my hand. “Oh my God, no way! I’d love to go to Jamaica!”

“Kingston, Ontario.”

“Oh. Ew.”

“Why ew? Have you ever been there?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then why—never mind. Do you still want to come with me?”

“Who calls you at three in the morning and tells you to go to Kingston, Ontario?”

“Sarah.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“I’m sorry! I’m still half asleep. This little girl, Sarah…Mariel told her to call me if her father got possessed again.”

“Mariel’s father? Is that why she left?”

“Sarah’s father.”

“Possessed again? Like, this is a regular occurrence?”

“Apparently. I have to book a flight.” I hunted beneath the bed for my laptop.

Kit had found his phone and was furiously typing on it. “Oooooh, Florence and the Machine is playing there! We can totally go!”

“Sure. Of course.” I found a flight that left early the next morning—in a few hours, really—and bought our tickets. “I don’t know if it’s worth going back to sleep; I’ll make us some coffee.” Not that coffee did much for Kit, except make him ill if he drank too much. Or, for some reason, if he used non-dairy creamer. It seemed to be some sort of…zombie kryptonite. I’d like to tell you I didn’t give some to Boo to see how he’d react, but I would be lying. The results: not pretty.

“What about the cats?”

Of course, the cats couldn’t come with us. While Winston could happily stay at the pet spa while we were gone, Boo could…not, and if we had someone taking care of one cat, it made sense for Winston to just stay at home. I felt a pang at the thought of being away from Boo for any length of time. “My parents can take care of them.” They wouldn’t be pleased—they’d actually thrown a “Boo is out of the house” party when I’d moved out, but they’d also get to spend time with Winston, and that was always a treat.

“I guess I’ll start packing. For both of us.”

He was welcome to do so.

In the meantime, it was definitely time to call Mariel. I wasn’t sure what time it was in Haiti, but I could definitely use her advice. For several panicked minutes I was worried that I’d lost the piece of paper she’d written the number on, when I remembered that she’d put it directly into my phone. I let it ring, over and over, but no one answered so I eventually gave up. Well, if Sarah had been able to get ahold of Mariel, she wouldn’t have needed to call me. Though she probably didn’t have Mariel’s number in Haiti…I’d just have to deal with the situation on my own for now, and call Mariel again when I had the chance.

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Meet the Author

Strange didn’t want to learn how to read, but literacy prevailed and she hasn’t stopped reading—or writing—since. She’s been published with Torquere Press since 2013, and she writes M/M romance in multiple genres, including paranormal and BDSM. T.’s other interests include cross stitching, gardening, watching terrible horror movies, playing video games, and finding injured pigeons to rescue. Originally from White Rock, BC, she lives on the Canadian prairies, where she shares her home with her wife, cats, guinea pigs and other creatures of all shapes and sizes. She’s very easy to bribe with free food and drinks—especially wine.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tq.strange

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTStrange

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TqStrange

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/tqstrange/

Blog: http://tqstrange.blogspot.ca/

Tumblr: http://tqstrange.tumblr.com/

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In the Fantasy Spotlight: Unbidden Dragon by Louisa Kelly (excerpt and Giveaway)

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Title: Unbidden Dragon
Author: Louisa Kelley
Publisher: Loose-Id LLC
Cover Artist: Syneca Featherstone
Release Date: May 24 2016
Heat Level: 3- 4
Pairing: F/F
Length: approximately 50,000 words
Genre/Tags: Paranormal Romance, Lesbian Fantasy Romance, Urban Fantasy

Goodreads Links

Book/Buy Links

Publisher Site: http://www.loose-id.com/unbidden-dragon.html?___SID=U

Amazon US: https://amzn.com/B01G48P2AY

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-unbiddendragon-2048832-149.html

Book Blurb

Two Dragons:
Maeven is on a mission. One big and bold enough for her coming-of-age quest called the Fieri, and important enough to gain her a trip off Dracan, the secret, hidden sanctuary of the dragon shape-shifters.
Success in her once-in-a-lifetime challenge means everything – respect, honor, and the bestowal of her full magical powers. Not to mention doing something vital for the survival of her species.
She’s given strict rules of behavior while living in earth society. Rule number one: keep her true nature hidden. Rule number two: no emotional involvement with humans, despite the age-old, near irresistible attraction between the two races.
Then Maeven meets plucky, devious, adorable Frankie living in Portland, Oregon. Who, as it turns out, accidentally, shockingly, shape-shifted – the night before. Ah. So much for the rules.
Frankie is frustrated with her oddly larcenous life not going anywhere in particular. One fateful weekend, she camps alone in the mountains to gain fresh perspective – with a little help from a baggie of something special. That afternoon, in a crazed, furious confrontation with hunters, Frankie shape-shifts into a dragon. And discovers a race of magical beings who insist she’s one of them, too. Especially the shining, gorgeous, red-head – who promises to teach her so much.

Excerpt

Maeven shut the door, turned, and regarded her. A clench of something tightened Frankie’s stomach. Maeven exuded a dangerous sensuality that both promised and threatened, fueling Frankie’s sense that Maeven carried the greater danger.
She eyed the door. How fast would she have to move, to keep Maeven from catching her? And where were these thoughts coming from?
“Would you like more tea?”
Frankie glanced down at her empty mug. “No, thanks.” The silence lengthened, and she concentrated on the sounds of the wood hissing and burning and tried to avoid Maeven’s questioning face. And not stare at her lush lower lip and slashes of dark eyebrows arching over green eyes.
Oh hell.
Maeven sat next to her and gave her hand an unexpected squeeze where Frankie clenched it on the table. “What do you remember? Anything?”
Her fingers twitched, enclosed in the surprising heat of Maeven’s skin. Warmth sank into her cold hand, yet after a few seconds, she slid her hand away. Too soon to trust. Even if the woman looked like the goddess Athena. With red hair.
The sense that she needed to get out, to run, flee danger, continued to prickle. She eyed the door again. Ingrained habits of distrust, learned from painful lessons of betrayal, rose to nearly choke her. She shook her head in an effort to dispel her foggy, post-high state.

“I’m not sure,” Frankie said. “Only flashes here and there.” She swallowed against the sudden taste of bile in her throat, and a wave of nausea hit her, potent reminders of the drug use from yesterday. The baggie of mushrooms she’d been warned not to consume all at once. Which she did, of course. Why, why did she continue to make such stupid choices?
The lingering effects of her trip probably contributed to how weird she felt. Or not. Arghh. Why was she such an idiot? Her decision-making abilities were coming undone.
She really did need to get out of here, get home, and recover her senses. How to manage that seemed impossible. She dropped her head into the flat of her arms crossed on the table. “I am so fucked.”
“I’m sorry.” Maeven’s voice floated somewhere above her, faint, like an angel’s. “I know this must be confusing.”
Frankie jerked at the touch of Maeven’s hand on her shoulder and shot to her feet. Her head wouldn’t clear. Maeven seemed both angel and devil in the space of seconds. The sense of wanting to go sharpened. She couldn’t shake the feeling they didn’t want her to leave, for reasons they weren’t admitting. Maeven watched her so closely she seemed to see everything, know what Frankie wasn’t saying.
Paranoia filled her. She didn’t care if she slept in the woods overnight. She wanted out. Space. These people scared her, and she pushed away the fact that they also aroused her as unimportant to the plan of action.
“Yeah,” Frankie said, hating the tremble in her voice. “I feel pretty weird. I’m just not quite…sure what happened, but thanks so much for the clothes and tea and stuff.”
“Of course, it’s the least we can do,” Maeven said. She leaned back and ran her fingers through her hair in a nervous gesture. Frankie watched, fascinated despite herself. The light caught and shimmered on the various shades in Maeven’s hair. A strand along her cheek shone like a rose in the soft cabin light.
Stop that, Frankie chastised herself. No distractions. Her decision solidified. Go, at the first opportunity. Run, hide… She fought her anxiety. Where would she go? And in the dark?
No matter. Her jaw clenched. She’d been a champion long-distance runner in high school, and she’d stayed in shape. But could she outrun the totally buff goddess?

SHADOWS CLIMBED THE rough wood walls of the cabin. The flickering candles cast a soft glow as day faded into evening, bathing the room in golden tones. Maeven looked down and realized her blue aura was mingling with the candlelight. She quickly doused the shine. Pesky shape-shifter light. Hardest thing to hide from humans. And impossible to explain. She flashed a look at Frankie, hoping to see more blue light, but Frankie’s pale face seemed even more taut and white.
Frankie avoided her eyes and radiated a palpable sense of unease. Made it hard to breathe, hard to keep a clear head, on multiple levels. Her predator’s instincts salivated; the hunting instinct activated with the enticement of Frankie’s anxiety. Maeven struggled not to react.
Frankie cleared her throat. “Okay if I use the bathroom?”
“Sure, of course. Through that door by the bed.” Maeven pointed in the direction of the bath, then tapped her fingers on the table while she waited. Fieri. Yes. The path coursed in her blood; a sense of rightness sent adrenaline racing through her body. Finally. Her doubts fell away. The course was set, even if she was full of unanswered questions. Taranis and Alwen had not forgotten her. How could she forget them? Listen, listen, listen…
Good. Yes! her sister-self cried, tuned as always to the nuances of Maeven’s thoughts. Want her. Go. Now!
Her sister meant fly with Frankie. The thought caused her heart to pound. “Fly?” she asked inwardly. “So I’m right?”
No coincidences. The Draca believed life unfolded according to the plans of Taranis and Alwen, gods of Draca, the divine beings who loved their shape-shifting children above all else. Her Fieri continued as planned, shaped by the ones who ruled her magical world. Trust. Did she?
Her sister-self beat an excited rhythm in her head. “Kisskiss,” she said. The sly other half of her never missed a twinge of lust. She gave her sister a mental kick.
“Stop it.” No lusting after the potential main objective. Frankie had found her way here despite layers of magical protections. Therefore, Frankie must possess Draca blood. It was the logical conclusion.

Maeven glanced at the closed bathroom door. It had been at least ten minutes. No sounds of water running or toilet flushing. Uneasy, Maeven stood up. “Frankie? You doing okay in there?”
No answer.
“Frankie?” she said louder and knocked on the door. When silence continued, she turned the knob. Locked. She rattled it. “Frankie?” Maeven thrust her hip against the wood a few times with no result. “Oh, blast it to the ninth hell,” she muttered and, with a fierce grip, tore the handle off and, with easy Draca strength, crashed through the pine door.
The window swung wide open, curtains blowing in the cold breeze. “No!” She rushed over and stared into the surrounding yard. Even with the moon, it was so dark Frankie could easily be hiding close by. Why, why was she running?
Maeven raced through the house, her sister-self agitated with excitement. “Chase!” she cried. An irresistible challenge to a Draca.
“Find her,” she said. “Find Frankie.” Predator instincts kicked in; her eyesight changed and cleared; the ability to see in the dark took over. She sniffed the air and caught the scent.
“Fly?” Maeven’s shoulder blades ached where her sister-self strained at the constriction of flesh.
“No, not yet. Run. Fast!” Maeven’s command to her sister-self ignited her into action.
She took off, inhaling the earthy, delicious traces of Frankie’s scent as she raced to catch her. Through the darkened, dense forest of spruce and pine, she dodged fallen logs and trampled through bushes of thorny blackberries, ignoring a hundred spiky digs. In the distance the sounds of Frankie’s panicked breathing carried on an obliging breeze. Maeven ran like a deer, the moonlight guiding the way, with light feet that bounded over any obstacles, nothing slowing her pace. Frankie’s gasps grew closer.
“Frankie! Stop…please! I just want to talk to you.”
“I’m fine,” Frankie yelled. “Leave me alone. I’ll find my own way out!”
Maeven picked up her speed. There—less than ten feet in front of her. Frankie threw a frightened glance over her shoulder, and then her foot hit a stump and she went flying, arms splayed just as Maeven dived to tackle her.
They went down in an explosion of grunts and shrieks. With a nimble twist, Maeven landed on top, spread-eagled over Frankie. She pinned her wrists to the ground and held firm while Frankie bucked and kicked.
“Get the hell off me! What the— Umpff…” Her last words were muffled as Maeven cupped her hand over Frankie’s mouth.
“Frankie,” Maeven said, yanking back on her emotions like taming a tightrope snapping in the wind, “I only want to talk. Please. For God’s sakes, I’m trying to help you.” She lifted her weight up a little but stayed put, knees on either side of Frankie’s hips, and tried not to notice the riot of sensation caused by the soft, shapely body under hers. Her sister-self’s excited cries increased in volume until Maeven could hardly think.
Frankie glared at her and went still.
“Okay?” Maeven asked and raised her hand from Frankie’s mouth while keeping a grip on her wrists. Ignoring her sister-self keening “mineminemine” was impossible. They had chased, they had caught, and her sister demanded reward.
“Fine,” Frankie spit out. “Now get the fuck off.”
Yet Maeven didn’t move, and Frankie remained still and unresisting. Puffs of white breath circled in the growing cold, and she knew they had to get going. Frankie’s eyes gleamed in a shaft of moonlight with anger…and something else. As if caught in a dream spell, she hesitated, unable to take her eyes off Frankie’s lips.
Her Dracan instincts threatened lusty takeover, and Maeven whimpered with conflicted need. The moon had risen to full height in a black sky, and the forest was flooded with brilliant lunar light. Magic. The sanctuary overflowed with aroused shape-shifter sensuality.
Words didn’t have to be necessary for Maeven to find the answers she sought. There were other ways. No. Get up now. Really. She tried to make her muscles move, and nothing happened. Blast it!
She heard Frankie’s indrawn breath like an invitation. Coherent thought fled. She leaned down and pressed her lips to the outline of Frankie’s mouth. For a few seconds, Frankie’s lips softened, opened, and then a small, hard fist shot out and punched Maeven’s cheek. Shocked, she slid off, reeling, into the cold mud and leaves.

Author Bio

Romance and science fiction took firm hold of Louisa Kelley’s imagination at age nine, when she read the books Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, and the Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis. She is convinced that the genre paranormal romance, which developed years later, came into existence purely for her benefit. After all, it’s what’s been in her heart all these years.
She resides in Portland, Oregon where, in a strangely perfect combination of rainy winters and urban skyline, her writing inspiration abounds. Meet the sexy world that’s been evolving in her fevered brain…She’d love you to join her in some over-the-top erotic adventures with the Draca; dragon shape-shifters of a very different kind.
Member of Romance Writers of America
Member of Rose City Romance Writers

Author Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouisaKelley.Author
Website: http://www.louisakelley.com/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3860948.Louisa_Kelley

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Review: Wild Onions by Sarah Black

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Wild Onions coverStill healing from his many injuries,  both physical and emotional, photographer Robert Mitchell has returned to the cabin he shared with his partner Val to grieve over Val’s death and determine whether he should sell it or hold onto the place full of memories and ghosts.  Just over a year ago, Robert’s life was happy and full.  He had his work, and his long time lover.  And then it was gone. With a mountain of debt looming over him from their hospital bills, Robert is unsure of his future but he still  can’t let go of his past, seeing and hearing Val’s ghost everywhere. Then Robert meets a young Blackfoot indian fly fishing in the Salmon River just outside the cabin and everything changes.

Cody Calling Eagle, a Physical Anthropologist halfway through his dissertation  and temporary wildlife official, wanders into Robert’s life during a day of  fly fishing.  The attraction between them is immediate and magnetic.  Cody’s good natured demeanor and open heart draws the lonely, grieving Robert in, providing the emotional nourishment he is so in need of.   Cody has crushed on Robert for years, and now follows his heart into a relationship he has longed for.

But the cabin and the land it sits on contains old buried secrets just waiting to emerge.  And when an accident lets them out to spread their evil once more, it threatens not only Robert and Cody’s new relationship but even their lives.  It will take everything Robert and Cody have to give and more to save themselves and the community around them from a dark history that has come alive once more.

Wild Onions is remarkable in so many ways.  It combines a variety of tropes so smoothly and effortlessly that the story flows from present day to the tumultuous era of the last of the Indian Wars, from the contemporary to the supernatural and back to the past without so much as a disruptive ripple.  Unless of course the author puts it there.  There are contemporary relationships and love affairs, a supernatural romance, several mysteries, an element of the terrifying and of course an historical background.  All of which are folded into the narrative to give the reader a compelling story set amongst one of the most beautiful landscapes the United States has to offer, western Idaho and the banks of the Salmon River.

I have long been a fan of Sarah Black and Wild Onions is a perfect example why I find her writing so captivating and addictive.  First there is her characters.  Robert Mitchell is a portrait of a man grounded in grief and memories, unable and perhaps unwilling to move beyond his past.  His grief is soft but tangible and its met by the quiet of the cabin and its surroundings.  Sarah Black matches the man to his environment, a monotone of emptiness and solitude that anyone who has lost someone will recognize.  Then she disturbs his static existence by the arrival of Cody Calling Eagle, a Blackfoot doctoral candidate fighting his own ambivalence over his future and passions for history and his people.  Cody is a wonderful character, his warm, open nature and bright shining intelligence warms the page and provides the story with such a charismatic presence that the reader  cannot help but be drawn to him, as is Robert.  It’s a meeting unexpected and yet so natural.  It feels as right to the reader as it does to the men.  And before we know it, we feel intimately connected to Robert and Cody and their relationship.

Here is a small excerpt (another is at the very end).  Robert has just stepped into the river for the first time in over a year, his stance and emotions unsteady:

Robert grinned at him. “Wonder how many times you hear that in the course of a week? We must be in Idaho! I’m Robert Mitchell.”

The man reached for his hand and they shook. “I’m Cody Calling Eagle. So,” he nodded toward the fishing pole in Robert’s hand, “what’s with this? You have a no-hook fishing technique? You’re not a vegetarian, are you? One of those guys who think it’s cruel to eat the poor fish?”

Robert shook his head. “I just don’t know how to do it. Good fishermen have tried to teach me, but it didn’t stick.”

Cody was looking at him with interest now, his warm, dark eyes moving over Robert’s face in a way that was almost unfamiliar, it had been so long. And Robert found himself wondering if this guy might be a friend. The possibility of a new friend, that was a good feeling.

“I knew Val. My grandfather, he was the silversmith.” Cody’s eyes were on the heavy silver and turquoise cuff on Robert’s wrist. “He made your cuff. I remember watching him when he set the turquoise. I sure was sorry to hear about the accident.” He cleared his throat. “You don’t know how to fish, but do you know what to do with a nice piece of speckled trout in a frying pan?”

That small excerpt of the first time Robert and Cody meet eases the reader into the story with the same fluidity of splash and movement of the Salmon River, so much a part of the setting and relationships.  The river is a deep part of  Cody’s nature and its importance is as powerful as the land itself. Sarah Black has lived in Idaho and now resides there again. She is familiar with the geographical landscape of Wild Onions and her love of the area and its native peoples are the bedrock upon which this story rests.

Intertwined with scenes of the growing relationship between Robert and Cody are historical facts and flashbacks to 1882, a time when the native tribes, including the Blackfoot, lost their land, their living and often most of their people to the wars against the U.S. that just concluded.  These scenes form both the basis and the springboard for the supernatural elements that start to appear and are such a hugely emotional and terrifying component in this story.

If history sounds a bit dry, trust me it’s not.  Its inclusion here is so well done, so enthralling and yes, shameful, that you might forget its an actual part of our history as Americans.   The time the author has spent among the various tribes in the United States shows in the in depth knowledge and respect that threads through the story of Wild Onions like the yarn in a tapestry, a part of the whole, subtle and necessary.

Black does justice to the supernatural aspect of her tale as well.  I won’t give anything away but there are some hair-raising, downright scary things going on here, enough to terrorize the reader into leaving the nightlight on at bedtime.  And it has its own grounding in Native American lore too.

All these ingredients combine to present the reader with a tale of romance, love  and terror that won’t allow you to put it down until its concluded and will leave  you thinking long past the last page.  I adored this story.  I loved the men, their relationship, as well as  the community which rallied to save them.  I think you will adore Wild Onions as much as I did.  Grab it up and prepare to fall in love.

Book Details:

ebook, 96 pages approximately
Buy Link: :HERE IT IS!
Published September 23rd 2013

ASIN B00FE5G7IK,

edition language English

Book Blurb and Excerpt:

THE YEAR was 1882, and the last of the native tribes had dropped to their knees and slipped on their yokes under the boots and guns of the US Cavalry. The Blackfoot were the last, and then the buffalo hunt failed. The vast plains were barren and empty, and the people began to starve. Desperation spread like poison across the land. Evil men, seeing their chance, fed on the hunger, ate the clean hearts of the people. The blood that was spilled in 1882 has not been avenged today. The ghosts are waiting for someone to set them free.

Excerpt:

Robert looked over to the corner of the porch. Their old fishing poles were leaning against the screen. He carried them back to his chair, started untangling the nylon fishing line. Val’s pole was for serious fishermen, a supple thin Orvis fly rod with a reel full of braided yellow nylon. His pole was cheap, from Wal-Mart, with a soft cork handle and a reel with a sticky thumb button. Val laughed when he saw it, said it was for little boys fishing at reservoirs.

He put Val’s pole back in the corner, carried his down the slope to the river bank. It took him a little while to find his balance again. He didn’t try to get into the water. That would probably be too much for his shaky leg. But after a few casts he got his rhythm again, let the weight fly out low over the water.

There was a splash a bit upriver, and a moment later a young man appeared, walking down the middle of the shallow river from rock to rock in green hip waders, dressed in the dark green uniform of Fish and Wildlife. He had a fishing pole over his shoulder and a woven oak creel. From the weight of it on his shoulder, Robert could see he’d had some luck. He was Indian, Blackfoot, maybe, and his long hair was tied back at his collar. He raised a hand in greeting.

Robert nodded back. “Evening.” He reeled in his line, and the man watched the red and white bobber bouncing across the water in front of him.
The man’s face was impassive, but he blinked a couple of times when he watched the line come out of the water, bobber, lead weight, no hook. No fish. “I guess I don’t need to ask you if you have a fishing license,” the man said. “Since you aren’t really fishing.”

Robert nodded to the creel over the man’s shoulder. “Looks like you’ve had some luck.”

The man eased the basket off his shoulder, dipped it down into the icy river water. “Yes, I sure did.” He slapped the Fish and Wildlife patch on his uniform shirt. “Course, I don’t need no stinkin’ license! Just another example of the generalized corruption of the Federal Government.”

Robert grinned at him. “Wonder how many times you hear that in the course of a week? We must be in Idaho! I’m Robert Mitchell.”

The man reached for his hand and they shook. “I’m Cody Calling Eagle.