A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review : Ravensong (Green Creek #2) by T.J. Klune and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

TJ Klune has the most incredible imagination of any author I know.  I’m at a loss for words to describe just how phenomenal this story was.  No wait… Let’s call this a saga, not a story, because that’s truly what it is and we are only midway through this unique experience. The author recently announced that he has plans for two more books in the series and the epilogue gives us a clue as to what the next one will be.  OMG!  I can’t wait! 

Gordo Livingstone is a witch.  In fact, he’s the witch for the Bennett Clan and he’s the soulmate of Mark Bennett, uncle of Joe, the current alpha.  We met these two star-crossed lovers in book one, Wolfsong. This is their story.

Through intermittent flashbacks, the author cleverly lets us see how Gordo’s life was shaped—his evil father who killed his mother when she killed his father’s tether, a woman with whom he was having an affair.  His mother always taught him that wolves can’t be trusted. They need you and use you but don’t really love you.  Though he might scoff at that lesson intellectually, she managed to ingrain the lesson emotionally. 

Gordo thought he was done with the pack when they all moved away and left him behind. Their departure cemented his mother’s lessons deep in his heart.  Now they are back and Gordo tries to ignore Mark Bennett with every breath he takes. It’s not easy.  In fact, the song between his raven and Mark’s wolf is crying to be heard.  When outside forces intervene in the quiet town of Green Creek and hope is at its lowest, the Bennett pack, assisted by their witch and the humans who support them, gather their reserve strength to fight a battle that must be won. 

I am not going to include any spoilers for this book in my review.  I will say that the plot is complex, with multiple layers of deceit, intrigue, and evil that goes back many years.  There are characters here I love to hate and those I hate to love.  Mark and Gordo seem to be ill-fated and much of the book left me feeling as if my stomach were in knots. But I kept moving forward. Avidly. There’s no way I could turn off this audiobook, even to eat, never mind sleep.  And the ending was worth the wait.

Kirt Graves is as outstanding in his performance of this audio as he was in Wolfsong. The cast of hundreds each has a distinctive voice.  I totally forgot that a man narrated the book when a woman spoke, and I loved the pitch, tone, and accent he assigned to Gordo.  As much as I highly recommend the story itself, I recommend listening to this audio.   It’s beyond description.  A must buy, for sure. 

The cover by Reese Dante is similar to Wolfsong’s cover and features red lettering against a dark gray background with a paw print on the lower corner—a paw print that seems to be clawing the ground as it leaves a trail of gouges in the dirt. 

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audio Details:

Audible Audio, 21 pages
Published December 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published July 31st 2018)
Original Title Ravensong
ASINB07L4T61RZ
Edition Language English
Series Green Creek #2

An Alisa Audio Review : Under a Blue Moon (Camp H.O.W.L. #2) by Bru Baker by Bru Baker and Dorian Bane (Narrator)

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Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Once in a blue moon, opposites find they’re a perfect match.

Nick Perry is tired of helping people with their marriages, so when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. He doesn’t expect to fall in lust with the dreamy new camp doctor, Drew Welch. But Drew is human, and Nick has seen secrets ruin too many relationships to think that a human/werewolf romance can go anywhere.

Happy-go-lucky Drew may not sprout claws, but he’s been part of the Were community all his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp—except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them and his ridiculous stance on dating humans. Fate intervenes when one of his private practice patients threatens Drew’s life. Will the close call help Nick to see a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of?

 

This was a nice continuation in the series, though there are a lot of assumptions going on which make it hard for these two to be together.  Nick and Drew are both starting new jobs and when they spend a night together have no idea that they will be working together.

 

Nick has seen so many horror stories about dating and marriages come to life that he fears getting seriously involved with a human, even one as in depth as Drew.  Drew wants someone to love him but isn’t willing to back down from what he wants to get it.

 

Both of these guys have issues from their past causing hurt but also have to learn to trust someone else.  I could see both of their pain and how much it hurt Nick when he thought his chances with Drew were gone and how Drew’s assumption that Nick didn’t want him hurt him too.  It just seemed to me as they finally are talking things out it all goes back to assumptions again which was like taking two steps back.

Dorian Bane did a great job narrating this story.  I was easily able to connect with the characters and feel their emotions in his reading.  His voice changes so much you really get to see the differences and personality of the characters.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson is great and works well for this story.

Sales Links: Audible | Amazon | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audiobook, 6 hrs 40 min

Published: October 26, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

Series: Camp H.O.W.L. #2, Dreamspun Beyond

A Lucy Release Day Review: Embracing Fate (A Series of Fates #2) by C.C. Dado

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is the second  installment of the Series of Fates books set in the town of Easter Valley, where you have to fill out an application and pass a background check and interview process to live there.  “We created Easter Valley so we could be part of the world without risking our people.”  The shifters mostly work in town and live in the commune, but Seth is one of the few town dwellers.  He moved there because his best friend, Max, had trouble in the commune and needed to get away and after Max found his mate (book one), he just stayed.  He owns and operates a baker, Sweets and Meats, with Max. 

I think I’ll need to go read the first book because Max is something else.   This book opens with Max moving out of Seth’s house in order to live with his mate, the Alpha Christian.  Max is having a hard time with it and Seth is pushing him to do what’s right.  “Oh my God,” Max gasped in outrage.  “You’re not doing this to be supportive of my relationship. You don’t want me to live here anymore, do you? And here I was worried about leaving you alone.”   They are besties, these two. “I am the most self-centered friend alive.”  That’s Max’s opinion of himself.  “You are not,” Seth assured him, even though sometimes he kind of was.”

Seth is conscious of his looks, with one bright blue and one brown eye.  He wears his bangs long and sometimes is convinced he won’t ever find his mate. When a new neighbor, the dog-trainer Jack, moves in Seth is smitten and knows finally, this is his mate.  The moment when he first hears Jack is hysterical and made me laugh out loud.

Seth is super shy, though, so his brilliant (snort) plan is to have Max take him over in wolf form for training and that way he can get to know Jack.  This of course can’t end well, whether it is from Christian finding out the plan; Max not only taking Seth to Jack’s on a leash but informing Jack his wolf’s name is Nancy; “…an 8×10 photo of Seth in a collar, running naked, covering his crotch with branches…” ; or worst of all, the way Jack finds out the truth about shifters.

We also get to see beta Zeus, a seven foot gentle giant who is lovely.  When he thinks Max is pregnant (due to a Seth lie), the foot rubs and care for Max were adorable.  I want him to find someone special and I hope his book is next.

This is a cute series and I will go back and read the first one to see how Max and Christian got together. 

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 91 pages
Expected publication: October 26th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781640807303
Edition Language English

Bru Baker on Characters, Writing, and Hiding in Plain Sight (the last in the Camp H.O.W.L. trilogy)

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Hiding In Plain Sight (Camp H.O.W.L. #3) by Bru Baker 

Dreamspun Beyond Title from Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art:  Aaron Anderson

Buy links:

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Bru Baker today on tour for her latest release, Hiding in Plain Sight. Welcome, Bru!

 

~  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Bru Baker ~

 

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

I think those are two totally different animals. We make our characters richer by using our own experiences to help shape them. That’s a far cry from a Mary Sue character where we’re inserting ourselves into the story and living vicariously through a character. Readers connect with our characters when they have personalities that leap off the page, and the way we as authors accomplish that is by giving them strong feelings and experiences that can appeal to a variety of people. Some of our first impressions of Harris in the opening scene of Hiding in Plain Sight tells the reader he loves sleeping in on his rare days off and he has a low tolerance for cutesy couples and PDA. These are traits I share, and Harris’s sarcastic take on them is definitely influenced by me. But that doesn’t mean Harris has my personality or that I’m envisioning myself as Harris as I write. Instead, by choosing a few things that I feel passionately about to include in his character, I’m able to write him with real emotions and quirks that I can easily describe to build a scene for the readers.

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

I read everything that wasn’t nailed down. I still would, if I had unlimited time in the day! I think reading across a broad swathe of genres has made me more well-rounded as a writer. I also went through a period where I was obsessed with thrillers, and I’m having fun incorporating some suspenseful elements in the Camp H.O.W.L. series. That will continue into the spin-off series, since the first book features a shifter NYPD detective and a werewolf who ends up on the wrong end of a crime ring.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Both! There are definitely times where I like that HEA wrapped up for me in a bow, both as a writer and a reader. But I also love shorter-form stories that end with that HFN and that delicious promise of an undefined but assumed amazing future for the couple. If I can end a book on a happy sigh, that’s a good ending–whether it’s an epilogue showing the couple married and established in their future or one that ends shortly after their first kiss and dangles the promise of that HEA down the road.

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

As a teenager I read all the romance of all genres I could get my hands on. Nora Roberts’ early books are still comfort reads for me, as well as Danielle Steel and of course, the Harlequin category romance books. The first book with romantic elements I read was Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, stolen off my mother’s bookshelf when I was around nine. I feel like that explains a lot about my choice to write romance with erotic elements.

As an adult I still enjoy reading broadly across the romance genres. Paranormal, romantic suspense, gothic romance, category romance, historicals, contemporaries–basically as long as it has some great banter and a swoon-worthy love story, I’m in.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I think it all comes down to the author’s skill in showcasing all the facets of a flawed person’s character. One of my favorite romantic characters in fiction is Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and it’s hard to find a character more flawed than him. He’s by all accounts unlovable, but we understand why and we see how that haunts him, and we see him try, at least as best he can. For me, that’s what makes a character real and relatable. I don’t want to read (or write) someone who has a perfect life. I want characters who make mistakes and have fatal flaws but still manage to find love despite them.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I’m drawn to people who are comfortable with who they are as a person. Someone who has the confidence to be flawed or quirky and finds happiness in that despite what anyone else might think of them. Luna Lovegood is one of my favorite characters in the Harry Potter series because she’s unapologetically herself. I love being with people who have a passion for something–even if it’s something I don’t personally care about. If they have the ability to throw all of themselves into something it usually means they’ll do the same for a relationship. (It also often means they’ll forget to eat/pick up the kids/be human, which is probably why I have developed such a love taking care of people!)

I do tend to write characters who share the same passions and hobbies as the people I surround myself with . Most of the main characters I write have a deeply rooted sarcastic side or a quirky sense of humor, and that comes from my circle of friends and family, too.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

I have multiple folders of unfinished WIPs on my hard drive, as I imagine most authors do. As readers have to put a book aside because it’s not the right fit for our mood, and the same thing happens to authors. Sometimes you have that lightning-strike moment where you feverishly plot out a book and you’re able to stay with that until it’s finished, and sometimes it’s a plod and you feel like you can’t do it justice at that moment. I wish I could say I’ve picked all those up and run with them later, but I probably have 20 or so unfinished WIPs, some pushing 50 to 60,000 words, in those WIP folders.

I did recently pull one out and finish it. Downward Facing Dreamboat is a novella that was part of a giveaway on Instafreebie a few weeks ago, and I hope to offer it in Kindle Unlimited soon.

What’s next for you as a writer?

I’m currently working on another Dreamspun Desires book that was inspired by an unexpected overnight layover in Dallas on my way home from the Romantic Times convention in Reno earlier this year. I’m also working on edits for the spin-off series for Camp H.O.W.L., which will follow the wolves to New York City as they integrate with the Connoll Pack. We’ll get to explore all the Supes we learned about in Hiding in Plain Sight and more, since the city is a hotbed for Supernaturals!

Blurb:

Hiding in Plain Sight: A Camp H.O.W.L. Novel


Happily ever after is right under their noses.

Harris has been keeping a big secret for years—his unrequited mate bond with his best friend, Jackson. He’s convinced himself that having Jackson in his life is enough. That, and his work at Camp H.O.W.L., keeps him going.

Things get complicated when Jackson applies for a high-ranking Tribunal job in New York City—far from Camp H.O.W.L. The position requires he relinquish all Pack bonds… and that’s when his wolf decides to choose a mate. Suddenly Jackson sees his best friend in a sizzling new light.

Their chemistry is through the roof, but they’re setting themselves up for broken hearts—and broken bonds—if Jackson can’t figure out a way to balance his career and the love that’s just been waiting for him to take notice.

About the Author

Bru Baker writes sophisticated gay romantic fiction with strong characters, real-world problems, and plenty of humor.

Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.

Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audiobook Review: Patience (Forbes Mates #2) by Grace R. Duncan and Chistopher Boucher (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Jamie Ryan literally runs into the man of his dreams. Jamie has shifted to his wolf form earlier than he expected, and while it’s rare, it’s dangerous in the city where humans may see. It’s also dangerous for the wolf when authorities spot him—authorities in the form of the local animal control officer. In his effort to creep away from the man with the long, looped pole, he’s gobsmacked by the scent of the human he meets.

Chad Sutton is a darn good detective—a former cop and now PI—and he reacts quickly to help the dog when his instincts tell him he needs to save the poor guy. Little did he know his wolfie-looking dog is a cute young man who happens to be a shifter. Chad doesn’t react poorly when confronted with the evidence as Jamie shifts to human. In fact, he’s quite accepting of everything Jamie tells him—including the fact that he’s Jamie’s mate.

The two get along very well immediately and Chad is totally accepting of the concept of a mate and the fact that it’s a man. The main thrust of the story is whether or not a mate bite will harm or kill Chad. Together, they research whatever they can find out from pack leaders, past and present, and ultimately the headquarters in Rome. Though Chad immediately emotionally accepted Jamie as his mate, whether or not he can handle the physical bite is something Jamie worries about. Actually, I found it odd that he easily accepted not only Jamie’s bond with him but he adapted to man-on-man sex quite easily. There was a bit of an explanation later in the story but for a man who never considered either a mate or sex with a man, this was a bit difficult to accept. And add to that the fact that Chad’s mother was also totally accepting and even enthusiastic, that segment of the audiobook required a stretch of the imagination until the author later explained his mother’s background.

Without going into further detail, I’ll simply say that this is one of those stories without a lot of outside conflict—inner turmoil? yes—outer conflict?—no. It’s a sweet tale and a smooth ride to love for these men. Christopher Boucher did a great job with the variety of voices and gave both Jamie and Chad distinct voices so it was easy to follow on audio.

This can be read as a standalone, even though a few characters from book one return in cameo roles. Their presence is fully explained, making it easy to follow on its own.

The cover by Reese Dante features two men cuddled together with a white wolf superimposed in the foreground. It’s attractive and well represents the essence of this love story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Audible | iTunes

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audio,Length: 9 hrs and 14 mins

Published July 26th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published March 7th 2016)
Original TitlePatience
ASINB07FV1CJ3K
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesForbes Mates #2

Julia Talbot on her new release The Wolf’s Man Friday (Nose to Tail Inc. #2) (guest blog)

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The Wolf’s Man Friday (Nose to Tail Inc. #2) by Julia Talbot
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Christine Griffin

Sales LInks:  Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Julia Talbot here today to talk about her latest release,The Wolf’s Man Friday (Nose to Tail Inc. #2).  Welcome, Julia.

♦︎

 

Hey y’all!

My name is Julia Talbot, and I’m here to chat about my upcoming release,  Well, actually I’m here to talk about a super cool question the blog sent me to answer, because I can always talk about process!

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

OMG y’all. So many answers to this.

I mean really. When I turned thirty, I went to London for the first time. I really thought I wanted to rent a garret there and write for days on end. In fact, I went home and wrote an erotica piece about a man who could only sleep on the Tube… It was published, but that was so long ago I can’t recall where. Maybe travelrotica? At any rate, that was what I wanted. When I was 35, I had been to Venice, and I wanted to rent an apartment in the Castello and go to the market every day for food and write my heart out.

I’ve been to NOLA and thought, we should have a writer’s retreat here! I want to go to Estes Park and sit I the lobby of the very haunted Stanley hotel and write ghost stories.

The thing is, I would love to write in all of these places, but these days it’s hard to travel. The wife is not well, and long air trips are right out.

I’ve realized as I’ve hit forty something, that what I really need as an ideal place to write is pretty simple.

I need the wife, my two basset hounds, a decent computer, and a good internet connection. I write a lot in Google Docs because it’s easier to access than Dropbox often times, and I can switch computers with reckless abandon.

Sadly, internet is kind crap and our house due to no cable, just DSL, and I’m struggling with a poopy Dell laptop I just bought so I can’t get rid of it.

Still, those are first world problems. The thing is, inspiration can strike anywhere, but home is where the heart is, and where the word count really flows…

XXOO

Julia Talbot

Blurb:

The last thing Sebastian Zeller wants is to be pack Alpha. But when the pack leader, his uncle Ron, is attacked, he has no cho ice but to leave his beloved Colorado mountains and fulfill his duty as Ron’s heir—at least until his uncle recovers. In the meantime, he intends to lure the attacker out… and make them pay.

When Ron gets wind of Sebastian’s plan to catch the attacker, he doesn’t like the idea of risking his heir. That’s where Jaxon Reedis comes in—he’ll balance protecting the dark and sexy werewolf with pretending to be his personal assistant. He’s walking a fine line that requires all his foxy wit and craftiness… and that’s on top of the inescapable feeling that he and Sebastian are meant for each other. When the attacker returns, will they be able to maintain their deepening bond when danger threatens to tear down everything they’re building?

About the Author

Stories that leave a mark. Julia Talbot loves romance across all the genders and genres, and loves to write about people working to see past the skin they’re in to love what lies beneath. Julia Talbot lives in the great mountain and high desert Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Dreamspinner, All Romance Ebooks, and Changeling Press. She believes that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. She also writes BDSM and erotic romance as Minerva Howe. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter, or at http://www.juliatalbot.com “The mountains are calling, and I must go”

Julia Talbot: http://www.juliatalbot.com

Minerva Howe: http://www.minervahowe.com

Julia’s Blog: http://juliatalbot.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliatalbotauthor

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast….

When Adrian Rothschild skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was, somehow, human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his Pack—scared, alone, and eight years late.

Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L. to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.

A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But is Adrian up to the challenge?

In Camp H.O.W.L. author Bru Baker gives us a story with so many wonderful new ideas that it kept me thinking of other story possibilities that extended past the ending of this heartwarming tale.  In a neat twist on wolf mates, Baker gives us “moonmates”, an instant bond that’s rare even in this universe.  We get the definition from those who ought to know, watch the progression of their bond, and then learn how the moonmate mythology has affected the couple in their pasts in markedly different ways.

Another terrific element?  That of a camp geared towards teaching werewolf youngsters how to handle the change in every way  possible.  I’m talking how not to use their Snapchat and expose  all of wolfdom to humans as well as werewolf hygiene.  It’s  rampant hormone time.  Brilliant!  Plus the breakdown in types and how that is handled at tables at the camp?  I really wanted to see more of that dynamic too.  Camp H.O.W.L. could absolutely be an endearing, connectible LGBT YA series, full of teens such as the ones  in here in need of support and guidance at the most important time of their lives.  Part of me wanted to see Tate and Adrian stay and continue on at the Camp doing just that.

However, the best part of  Camp H.O.W.L. is the romance between Tate and Adrian.  It’s sweet, mostly angst free, and downright heartwarming.  It will also make you howl for more because this is but the first stage in their lives and it ends just as another is getting started.  I know I wanted to know so much more about how Adrian’s family adjusted to Adrian’s new status and moonmate.  The “chemistry” the author got across between the characters more than made up for any small narrative gaps I felt I saw in the story.  But it  definitely doesn’t stop me from wanting to know what comes next.  And with Tate’s background, an entire book could be written on them and Tate’s new status as well.  See?  More possibilities!

Love werewolves and the mate bond?  Love a new romance with a twist?  Check out Camp H.O.W.L. by Bru Baker.  It’s one I definitely recommend.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson did a terrific job with the cover.  Definitely caught my eye.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 238 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635338003
Edition LanguageEnglish
settingIndiana (United States)

Cari Z. on Writing, Characters and her latest novel ‘Off The Beaten Path’ (author interview and tour)

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Off the Beaten Path by Cari Z.
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht

Available for Purchase at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Cari Z. here today on her Off the Beaten Path tour. Welcome, Cari.

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Cari Z

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I can always tell the characters I personally resonate with most, because they’re not big and bold. They’re usually fairly quiet and tend to get things done without a lot of fuss, and they’re also complete badasses with at least one odd and unique skillset. *ahem*

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

I think it’s important for a character to be relatable, which often means not using a really personal anecdote or interesting incident from my own life, because really, how many people have been alligator wrestling? On the other hand, people read to experience new things, and so a judicious amount of my own life and personality needs to make it in there, especially if I’m relating something odd.

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

I love research and making up my own worlds and cultures! This is probably why I write so few novels in the contemporary genre—I mean, yeah, I could Google Map Philadelphia and ask for beta readers to make sure I get it right, or I could research rainforests and jungles and then stick my main characters on an alien planet with, you guessed it, rainforests and jungles!

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

I loved historical fiction as a teen. Really, desperately loved it. Only later, when I actually went to write it for myself, did I realize how damn complicated that genre is. That hasn’t stopped me, persay, but it does make other stories more attractive sometimes.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

I’ve had to put “in progress” stories aside due to complete and utter bafflement at what happens next, but only once have I put one away for emotional reasons. I wrote 70k in three weeks, the fastest I’ve ever gotten any story down, then got to a huge shift in the plot and realized I was depressing myself so much I couldn’t continue.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I write stories with romance, so those conventions are not only anticipated, they’re demanded. That being said, I tend to go more HFN, because I don’t draw out endings and tend to stuff my romances full of adventure and thrills too.

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

Oh yeah. Classics. Fanfic. Contemporary authors who aren’t me. I read it all. GIVE IT TO ME!

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Huh. Well, as a teenager I wanted to write my own Horatio Hornblower books, so I’d have to say CS Forester was a huge influence. As an adult, I read very scattershot all over the place, everything from high fantasy to weird science, so if anything, eclectisism is my guide now.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

Usually I don’t have a lot to do with my own covers. I tell the art department what I want and they provide something glorious and I’m very happy. With the cover for Off The Beaten Path, though, I didn’t like any of the models they sent me. I felt awful for complaining, but they were incredibly cool about it, and eventually I got to pick my own model. Hence the delightful man gracing the cover now 😊

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

It changes! I like all of my work, even the early stuff because darn it, I learned from it and it helped me grow, but I’ve got to confess I’m especially fond of my science fiction romance Changing Worlds, which is also with Dreamspinner. I wrote it after doing the Peace Corps, and it encapsulates better than any of my other books the emotional dissociation I felt at the time. It’s one of my most true-to-my-life novels, despite being set on an alien planet.

What’s next for you as an author?

After Off The Beaten Path comes out, I have a break before the third and fourth books in the Bad Behavior series I’m writing with L.A. Witt come out in January. Which gives me time (maybe, what with a new baby due to arrive tomorrow, literally) to write a possible sequel for Off The Beaten Path!

Blurb

When Ward Johannsen’s little girl Ava shifted into a werewolf, she was taken into custody by the feds and shipped off to the nearest pack, all ties between father and daughter severed. Ward burned every bridge he had discovering her location, and then almost froze to death in the Colorado mountains tracking her new pack down. And that’s just the beginning of his struggle.

Henry Dormer is an alpha werewolf and an elite black ops soldier who failed his last mission. He returns home, hoping for some time to recuperate and help settle the pack’s newest member, a little pup named Ava who can’t shift back to her human form. Instead he meets Ward, who refuses to leave his daughter without a fight. The two men are as different as night and day, but their respect for each other strikes a spark of mutual interest that quickly grows into a flame. They might find something special together—love, passion, and even a family—if they can survive trigger-happy pack guardians, violent werewolf politics, and meddling government agencies that are just as likely to get their alpha soldiers killed as bring them home safely.

 

About the Author

Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing then because what else are you going to do for entertainment with no electricity? She writes award-winning LGBTQ fiction featuring aliens, supervillains, soothsayers, and even normal people sometimes. You can contact Cari at carizabeth@hotmail.com. In fact, please do. She’d love to hear from you.

 

Social Media Links:

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE http://carizerotica.blogspot.com
AUTHOR’S TWITTER URL (NOT JUST HANDLE) https://twitter.com/author_cariz
AUTHOR’S FACEBOOK URL https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008212125132

A MelanieM Review: A Counselor Among Wolves (Leader Murders #2) by Liv Olteano

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

A Tooth for a Fang was the first book I had read by Liv Olteano, and I loved the author’s darker take on werewolves, lycans, wolfshifters of all sorts (two different things in this series) and the supernatural in general.  As much as I love all my romantic wolf shifter love stories, reading one where the wolves have a more manipulative aspect to their character that dominates all their relationships and outlook was refreshing and new.  And the author took it further and separated out the wolf shifters or lycans from the werewolves, a divide both emotional and physical.  But it was Olteano’s focus on domestic abuse in a Mate/Mate bond that was unexpected, intriguing and powerful.

For many stories, the weres and their mates meet and the mate bond snaps into place (a broad generalization I know), and they are happy together at the end.  But what happens when one mate hates or grows to hate the other?  In a species where the need to be dominant is inherent and expected, then the possibility of mate/spousal abuse appears.  This element is a major part of the plot in Liv Olteano’s Leader Murder Mystery trilogy.  Those mates who have been abused (no matter what species they belong too, were, lycan, vampire… whathaveyou) and those that see a wrong that needs to be addressed in their society  have banded together to enact new laws to protect abused mates and enable them to “divorce” their abuser.  Not a small thing in a hide bound society that resists change.   But some of them have gone further and several murders of abusive leaders have occurred.

The first book involved a were and a human lured into a mate bond.   That pair is still on shaky ground when this story opens  But A Counselor Among Wolves has a different focus and pairing.  This time its Timothy Sands, a half elf,half fey, who works for the PBI (Paranormal Bureau of Investigations).  A loner due to his heritage, past history, and inclinations, Tim has been in love with the PBI’S Director,Herman Weiss, a Werewolf Alpha,  for 5 years, to no avail.  Weiss, as he is called, has been mated for years and last year his female mate produced the heir Weiss had been waiting for.  His mating?  Not at all happy, as everyone found out in the first story.  The difficult relationships established in the first story get even more so here.

The “revolution” is building, Tim is part of the group that is working towards Mate Bond reforms (through legal methods) and Weiss is trying to deal with new murders, his imploded relationship, his son, and his increasingly unstable personality.   The one being who might hold some of the answers Weiss requires?  That would be Tim, who wants to keep his shields and secrets intact.

Olteano’s supernatural beings are anything but superficial in their creation.  The author delivers not only each species physical characteristics, but background, natural history, cultural history and current racial and societal issues as well.  Like I said, these aren’t your cuddly sort of wolves.  Even Weiss’ toddler son is capable of  well thought out manipulations and the boy/pup demonstrates a constant defiance that shows he is challenging his father (and others) for dominance even at the youngest of ages.  His is a remarkable portrait as well.  How many  5 year olds do you know who attack their mothers, trying to force them to submit? As Olteano points out, that makes it hard to establish a maternal bond, now doesn’t it? A Counselor to Wolves (and the series to date) is just one neat twist and turn after another.  But always at its heart, are serious subject matters such as domestic abuse and violence.

Still this is a romance, of sorts, one between Tim and Weiss that struggles to coalesce at first under the stress and extraordinary circumstances. Then gets mired down in the politics and machinations of the investigation and murders.  Throw in Tim’s father, who has his own nefarious plotting underway that also involves his son, and well, this book has plenty of layers to satisfy any lover of espionage and suspense.   Plus Tim and Weiss are just plain hot together.  You will root for them, really you will.

In this story, some of the revelations help speed us along to the final story that will tie up all the investigations and plotting revealed here.  All the couples will have their moment on stage in the final story.  That’s especially important because neither of the two couples relationships and pairing are on particularly stable ground.  There are too many unknown elements still at play, and that include’s Tim’s father, the Elf King.

Now comes the waiting…how I hate that part.  I want the final story now.  This is such a terrific series.  My admiration for Liv Olteano’s writing and plot grows with each story that’s released.  I loved  lycan Travis Chandler and the former human Rick Barton who took a vacation from an abusive lover and ended up as a mate.  And I love Tim, one of a kind Tim and the dominating Alpha, Weiss and his son.  We have one more couple to come forward and then the author will tie things up.  I expect it to be messy, bloody, hot, and one heck of a wild ride towards the end.  As I said, I can’t wait.

New to this series?  Pick up A Tooth For A Fang first, then proceed to A Counselor Among Wolves.  These books need to be read in the order they were written to understand the character and plot developments that are occurring within. The author tries to fill in gaps in each story but its far too complicated for that to one in any one book.  I highly recommend them both.  Then we can wait together for the final installment to arrive.  See you there.

Cover Art by  AngstyG.  Love the cover, its dark and yes, angsty.  Works a treat for the characters and story within.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages, also in paperback
Published May 8th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
ISBN139781632169235
edition languageEnglish
seriesLeader Murders #2

The Leader Murder Case Mysteries Trilogy: