Review of With or Without Series by JL Langley

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ating: 5 stars for the series

My first introduction to JL’s shifters came when I picked up the Hearts From The Ashes anthology and read With Love, the first in Langley’s shifter series.  It featured a young clutzy Omega wolf named Laine Campbell who was perpetually in hot water over things he said or creating chaos with the things he did.  Everything about Laine was adorable, from his hair to his manner of speech and I fell in love immediately.  So did Dev, the Alpha wolf moving to Ashton with his betas and business partners.  He was hooked on Laine and I was hooked on Dev.  I could not believe it when the story was over. I wanted more shifters, specifically I wanted JL’s shifters and I wanted them now. This is a reoccurring theme with JL Langley’s books so be prepared.

Then came Without Reservations in 2007 and my addiction was official.  Without Reservations is the story of Chayton Winston, a veterinarian living in New Mexico.  He is also a shifter and all his life he has been dreaming of a fair haired mate, much to his Native American  parents chagrin.  His entire life Chay has considered himself heterosexual until an injured wolf is brought into his office.  The wolf is a gorgeous male shifter and his mate.  He is also Caucasian something he is sure his mother will never accept.

Keaton Reynolds wakes up in a veterinarian ‘s office to find himself injured and being treated by his mate.  He should be overjoyed except he just got out of a relationship from a shifter who had a girlfriend on the side but also said he was Keaton’ mate.  Keaton is not one to repeat his mistakes and a hetero shifter is not someone he wants to take a chance on, no matter what his body and even his heart may think.  But Chay won’t give up on Keaton and finally Keaton agrees to get to know Chay better.  And slowly they start to build a relationship together.  But there is Chay’s mother’s disapproval to overcome and a power struggle in Keaton’s Georgia pack that threatens them both.  How will they overcome the odds to find the happiness they both deserve?

I reread this book all the time.  Chayton Winston and Keaton Reynolds are such wonderful creations that I return to their story time and again.  Chayton is one of the nicest people you will meet in the author’s novels.  He is both elementally patient and rock solid in his beliefs so that when presented with a man as a mate, he accepts it.  If it switches his sexuality over to gay, ok as long as he gets his mate, something no wolf shifter would ever turn down.  And you believe this paradigm shift absolutely as being in character for Chayton because he is so real from the moment we meet him.  Keaton also engages our hearts and affections with his prickly nature  and forceful personality packed into a slight build.  A small white wolf, he has the personality and power of an Alpha without needing to lead. Keaton would rather teach and help educate so the fact that his mate would be a healer, a veterinarian makes complete sense.  JL Langley surrounds these two with people as authentic and believable as they are and gives us a mystery to boot.  Just an outstanding novel.

With Caution came next.  It remains my favorite of the series and again one I read over and over again.  With the characters of Remington Lassiter and Jake Romero, JL brings a level of complexity and depth to her characterizations that I had not seen before.  And added to our main characters, she introduces us to the rest of the men who will become their pack.  Each man is a unique unforgettable creation as they sit astride their motorcycles and roar into our hearts.  Remy is a shifter we meet in Without Reservations and he makes a rather disastrous first impression upon us in that story.  But here we discover the dark background that surrounds him in shocking detail as well as the reasons for his actions.

There are parts of this novel so bleak and despairing your hearts will bleed for Remy and his brother Sterling  even as our hero bleeds out from the abuse.  Remy’s sexuality and his acceptance of a male mate is a huge part of this story and his past as well.  I cannot give Langley enough credit for the sensitive way she deals with child abuse and recovery as an adult.  There is also a murder mystery to be solved, and the exploration of a naturally submissive nature.  There is some mild bdsm that works beautifully within the plot of the story and the glimpses of new couples, mates, for future stories.  One couple in particular has had the fans clamoring for their story since this book was published.  This story has depth, multi-layered characters and a multitude of themes running through it, not the least of which is how Reservaton law can also isolate the members it is supposed to protect, control issues and child abuse.  Heavy themes indeed but this book is also packed with love and redemption.  With Caution is an incredible read you won’t want to put down.

Next comes a series of free stories that can be found on the Fiction With Friction website until JL Langley’s site is back up and running.  These are in order:

A Lot To Be Thankful For (With or Without Series 3.1) Sterling Lassister and Rhys Waya (the fans just wouldn’t shut up for their story)

A Sterling New Year (With or Without Series 3.2)  with Sterling Lassister and Rhys Waya (love, love these two and so will you, get on the bus)

With Abandon (With or Without #4) brings back Aubrey Reynolds and the rest of the Georgia pack that we met in Without Reservation.  Aubrey is Keaton’s brother and our introduction to him in Without Reservation was not exactly a positive one.  Matt Mahihkan, one of Gadget’s sons from With Caution is back and going to college in Georgia. Matt was a quirky young man who we got to know only superficially but JL Langley brings him together with  Aubrey Reynolds and that combination sparks all sorts of problems not the leasts of which is that Aubrey is not out to his family or the pack. And Matt is not only out and proud but turns out he is Aubrey’s mate. It took me a while to like Aubrey, perhaps some of that was left over emotions from Without Reservation.  But his reluctance to accept Matt officially as his mate made him hard to like.  He has to grow on you, something none of the other characters has had to do.  Matt, of course, is absolutely adorable and we entrust our affections with him from the get go.  And with Matt, comes some of the members of the New Mexico pack we have come to love as well.

Next come three free short stories in succession. I am convinced JL Langley thought the fans would be showing up on her doorstep if she didn’t at least throw them all several bones. I will admit to being one of them:

Christmas Dinner at Reynolds Hall (With or Without, #4.1)

Attack of the Killer Dust Bunnies (With or Without, #4.2) 

Christmas Cookies and Garland (With or Without, #4.3)

So what and who are coming next?  That would be Sterling and Rhys.  This is the story everyone has been yelling for, myself included. I believe JL Langley said it will be done in a few month from now but isn’t sure when it will be published. That will depend upon Samhain Publishing’s schedule.  Be still my heart.

Without Fear (With or Without series #5) – coming from Samhain Publishing.

So that’s JL Langley’s shifters in a nutshell.  I am not sure I did them justice.  Shifters of all species hit my buttons. Native American shifters hit them twice.  I don’t care if they are wolves, big cats or even weresloths of London (thank you, Charlie Cochrane for that memorable story).  But thinking back to the beginning, it all started with JL Langley’s wolves who come to life on the pages of the With and Without series, grabbed both my attention and my heart and have never let them go.  I have these books in paperback (prior to my Kindle) and I have them now in eBooks as well.  From their killer covers to their outstanding characters and plots, I return to them often.  To reacquaint myself with old friends and find comfort in their presence.

Some find JL Langley through her cowboys and others through her sci-Regency series.  I found her through her shifters.  If you are new to JL Langley as an author, try them all.  Start from the beginning of each series and work your way down.  You will find yourself with a new  addiction just as I did.  Write me. Let me know what you think. I will be waiting.

Author Spotlight: An Interview with J.L. Langley

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Author Spotlight is on J. L. Langley.

I first wandered into JL Langley’s world with a story called With Love from the Hearts With The Ashes anthology.  Here I met her shifters Laine Anderson and his mate Dev and encountered JL’s wonderful blend of humor, vulnerablilltiy, angst and above all, heart that she  imbues in all her characters for the first time.  I read it once, and then promptly turned back and read it all over again.  I laughed and cried as much at the second reading as I did at the second and wanted so much more.  I wanted more of her shifters, more of JL Langley’s worlds.  Thank goodness there are plenty out there to  discover and journey through.

Next up came The Tin Star and JL Langley’s cowboys. Sigh.  How i loved them too.  You will hear more about them later on.  They will have their day, no worries.  My next love came with the wolf shifters.  That would be the  With and Without series.  Their fame has spread far and wide. Don’t speak too loudly or you will encounter the Sterling and Rhys bandwagon that careens around wildly, full of loud  fans screaming for Sterling and Rhys to be the next couple to get their own book.  One of them might even be me, uh hem.  And yes,  we will be talking more about all of them later in the week, so no fretting on the shifter front please!

Today is the day that My Regelence Rake is being released from Samhain Publishing so I know they are being bombarded by JL’s fan for theircopy of her latest  Sci-Regency novel.  Sci-Regency, what an unusual genre to be  sure.  Only JL would have thought to blend science fiction and the English Regency world and make it not only successful but downright addictive.  It all started with My Fair Captain and that delicious droll worthy cover.  This novel has remained a steadfast favorite of mine as it’s worn, dog-eared pages can attest to.

So this week, it’s all about the worlds of JL Langley and I will be giving away one copy of My Regelence Rake to one lucky commenter during the week.  The winner will be announced on Friday.  So to start off our week, let’s begin with a chat I had about how the term Sci-Regency came about.

MM:

Thank you, JL, for coming here today and participating in my first author interview. I have always been fascinated by the term Sci Regency.  Did you coin that  phrase?

JL:

“I did come up with the term and series name Sci-Regency. I’ve always loved Regency romance but wanted something different, unique. With the laws in the 1800’s being gay was punishable by law therefore it would’ve been very difficult to live openly as a gay couple. That seems so bittersweet to me. I wanted to be able to have my cake and eat it to, so to speak, so I combined Regency with Sci-Fi and wa la a truly happy ending was possible. Not to mention some cool technology and a way to bend the rules of society ever so slightly.”

MM:

I have a hard time picking out favorite characters of yours, I just love them all.  Do you have favorite characters?

JL:

“I love all the characters in this series but I have to say Steven and Raleigh, the King and King-Consort, are my favorites. I plan on doing a sort of prequel for the two of them eventually.”

MM:

My start with Regency fiction was Georgette Heyer and The Grand Sophy, a fondness that continues to this day. Do you have favorite Regency authors?

JL:

“I have several favorite Regency authors, but if I had to name one it would be Julia Quinn.”

MM:

I have to admit Georgette Heyer was my first introduction and I still love her. I love the way you blend such Regency mainstays such as horse racing, fencing, Tattersalls, and Regency dress with a science fiction setting. I love the way Regency social niceties and rules are given a m/m twist to them in your series. Here young unattached men are not allowed out without suitable escorts or chaperones. Do you ever find yourself just laughing out loud as you turn old ways on their heads in your stories? It’s such a great blend that you have achieved.

JL replies:
“I don’t know about laughing but I do love it. I really enjoy writing this series, it’s hands down my fave. I joke that I could gladly write this series and in this word for the rest of my life and be a happy woman, I really do love it.”

MM

I know you have told us but I can’t remember. Of course quite a few of us are shouting Trouble and Rexley at you! But I have to say I agree with you about Steven and Raleigh. I love their relationship and look forward to every scene with them in it. And you introduce a Cousin in this series, hmmm. Lord Demon? I know you had a recent excerpt with his name in it. Who is next in line for a book in this series?

JL:
“Blaise and Raleigh’s nephew, Dalton, (He’s the cousin “Lord Demon”), is next. After them will be Blaise’s little brother Bannon and then Rexley and Trouble. There are several guest appearances in this book by not only Steven and Raleigh, but Aiden and Nate and Rexley, Trouble and Muffin.”

Do you outline your books or have a story arc in mind when you start a new one? You are balancing so many elements in your Sci-Regency series from marriage proposals, intergalactic intrigue, and perhaps even genetic manipulation yet you still give us scenes full of passion, humor, mystery and love. What gives you the inspiration for each book?

JL:

“I do outline,but I loosely outline and leave room to change. In fact the last half of Colton’s book does not resemble the original outline at all. So it’s more of a guide than an actual outline because things are subject to change. Each book is a little difference. This one for example has less of the series plot with the IN than the others. It sort of depends on what the characters give me. For example in Dalton’s book, there is a pretty good look into Regelence government as well as Raleigh’s background. In Bannon’s book it’s very much back into the series plot. I do have an outline of sorts for each book in the series, but I am very character motivated in my writing, so things can and do change on occasion.”

Thank you, JL. I can’t wait to hear from you. I really appreciate your participation in my contest and Author Spotlight.

From the author’s website:

JL has been talking since she was about seven months old. To those who know her it comes as no surprise, in fact, most will tell you she hasn’t shut up since. At eighteen months, she was speaking in full sentences. Imagine if you will the surprise of her admirers when they complimented her mother on “what a cute little boy” she had and received a fierce glare from said little boy and a very loud correction of “I’m a girl!” Oddly enough, JL still finds herself saying that exact phrase thirty-some-odd years later.

Along with the motormouth, JL also displayed a very vivid imagination and artistic ability. The artist first surfaced in way of drawing and painting, then became more apparent with dance. JL was a member of the National Art Honor Society in high school and has won several regional and national titles in dance, specifically tap and jazz. In college she majored in Graphic Art, but chose to make dance her profession. She taught tap, jazz and ballet for fifteen years before settling into her career as a writer.

Today JL is a full-time writer, with over ten novels to her credit. Among her hobbies she includes reading, practicing her marksmanship (she happens to be a great shot), gardening, working out (although she despises cardio), searching for the perfect chocolate dessert (so far as she can tell ALL chocolate is perfect, but it requires more research) and arguing with her husband over who the air compressor and nail gun really belongs to (they belong to JL, although she might be willing to trade him for his new chainsaw).

This author also writes (m/f) under the name Jeigh Lynn.

JL Langley’s website is under construction but you can follow her through her  yahoo group, The Yellow Rose.

And her free short stories can be found at Fiction with Friction.

September’s Over, and The Week Ahead includes an Author Spotlight and Book Contest!

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The last day of September is here and once again it seems as though the month just flew by along with the Canada geese overhead.  I haven’t seen any hummingbirds for several days now and wonder if the last of the summer migrants have passed by as well.  I will leave the feeders up until next week just to be sure but the autumn wreaths are on the doors and the various maple trees have already started to turn glorious colors so the feeders I am steadily filling now are the ones that contain sunflower seeds.

My favorite month is a day away and so much is happening.  My fish are getting a deeper pond for winter and the work starts tomorrow.  Several family birthdays and celebrations are happening so I am busy with new dishes and desserts to try out.  I love new recipes and will be passing on the ones I find most successful.  October is also bringing new releases in books that I have been waiting for and closure to the Lost Gods series by Megan Derr.  I have loved my journey through the books that are the Lost Gods saga and now await the last, Chaos. Andrea Speed’s anti hero Roan get another installment too on the 5th, a date circled many times in red to make the occasion.

The first day of October starts out with a bang of a new release.  That would be My Regelence Rake by JL Langley.  JL Langley produces about one book every year.  So to celebrate the latest in her Sci Regency series, I will be giving away one copy of her book from Samhain Publishing to a lucky person who comments during the week.   It will be a great week ahead as we talk cowboys, shifters, and of course how did Regency end up in Space?  The winner of the book will be picked by Kirby on Friday!

Monday:                   Author Spotlight: J.L. Langley

Tuesday:                   Sci Regency Series Review

Wednesday:             With or Without Series Review

Thursday:                 Cowboys with JL Langley

Friday:                       My Regelence Rake  and winner of the Contest

Saturday:                   The Tin Star and why I love it.