Narrated by Holly Holt Duration: 4 hours 57 minutes
Michael Andrews is the last of his brothers to find his mate. He’s played it tough, trying to convince his family that a mate is the last thing he wants, that he enjoys having a different woman every week. In reality, he’s afraid. He wants to find his mate and thinks he may already have, but what if he won’t be a good husband? Maybe, he just isn’t made to love someone.
Chloe Stevens is on her last leg. She found a guy she thought was great, only to end up pregnant and have the guy vanish into thin air. Then, she lost her job and consequently, her car. Now, she’s facing eviction. Five months pregnant, no job, no car, and now, no home have forced Chloe to do the one thing she swore she wouldn’t: contact the father of her baby. She may have just been a fling to Michael, but their few days together had meant more to her.
When a pregnant Chloe shows up looking for Michael, he’s stunned to find out that he’s going to be a father. It appears that fate is determined to put the woman in his path. But is Michael willing to fight for Chloe when another werewolf decides to claim her?
Melanie: The plan is simple. Go on vacation and finally relax after five solid years of hard work. How was she supposed to know her well-meaning friends would hijack said vacation to set her up with a drool-worthy photographer — or that their setup would lead to a whole host of other problems like kidnapping, illegal experimentation, and weirdest of all, psychic abilities? Through it all is Liam, a written-off experiment, and their overwhelming connection.
Liam: Nothing is ever simple when it comes to Liam and the entity that lives inside him. All he knows is the entity is pushing for him to get to know Melanie. Their connection is undeniable, and it’s of interest to the ones who created him in a lab, as well. Liam’s one of the few of their experiments that worked, and the only one to form a bond outside of their scientific creations.
Warning: This book references memories of childhood abuse that may be triggers for some readers.
“I still don’t understand your choice of vacation, Mel. You live at the beach. Granted not on the beach, but close enough. Why’re you going to some random tropical island again?”
Melanie rolled her eyes at the angst-ridden demand as she continued to sort through the freshly washed clothes piled on her bed. She should have known better than to wait until the last minute, but making sure her office could function while she was away had tied up more of her time than expected. The whole situation with Patton Photography was just unfortunate.
“Are you ignoring me?” A ball of socks flew through the air and hit Melanie in the head. “I’m making a valid point about your vacation locale!”
She turned to face her best friend, Lorelei Sapelo, and smirked. “Yes, I am. The beach here and the beach on an island are two different beasts. Besides, I’m more excited about the jungle than the ocean.”
Lorelei sighed as she plopped down on the clothes-covered bed. “You’re usually more organized than this. Why’re you packing so late? Where’s the crazy OCDness I had to deal with all through college?”
Yanking on the sleeve of a T-shirt until Lorelei shifted her fat butt, Melanie pulled out the extra large tee and began to roll it into a tube. “There’s been a lot going on at work I wanted to handle myself. Besides, I don’t want all the hard work I’ve put into getting the editorial staff in shape to implode while I’m gone.”
“I know what you mean.” Lorelei shoved more clothes closer to Melanie.
“One day…” She held up her index finger for emphasis. “… is all it takes for all your hard work to just poof out of existence.”
“At least I have Rose to handle anything serious while I’m away. Your one-man show at your job is just asking for a headache. All those dusty tomes. My allergies would make me pay in so many ways, all of them horrible. Are you going to help me pack or just watch? I can’t be late to the airport in the morning.”
“You’re not going to be late. I’ll have you there in plenty of time.” Lorelei bounced off the bed and pawed through Melanie’s neatly organized closet. “Are you not taking anything but casual clothes? What if you meet a hot guy and you’re wearing grandma shorts?”
“Those are Bermuda shorts, and I’m taking a few maxi dresses and skirts as well, so I’ll try to meet this ‘hot guy’ while I’m wearing one of those.”
Lorelei sniffed, but she stopped messing up her closet. “There’s no need for that snippy tone, Melanie! I’m trying to be a true friend and help you not die an old cat lady.”
Melanie burst out laughing. “You know, I’m thinking of getting a cat when I return. It would be nice to come home to someone even if it is only an animal.”
“I rest my case, budding cat lady. Please don’t become a stereotype because I’ll never forgive you, knowing I’ll probably share the same fate.”
Bras, underwear, and a variety of mix and match bathing suits were added to the suitcase. “You’re not a cat person, so I doubt that will happen to you, Lori.” Melanie glanced around and frowned. “Would you check the bathroom for my toiletry case while I figure out where to put my shoes?”
Lorelei wandered into the bathroom, her voice slightly muffled. “Your less-than-concerned attitude concerns me. Oh my God, you met a guy, didn’t you?!” She returned, clutching the toiletry case. “Who is he? Do I know him? How hot is he? He’s not an idiot or a serial killer, is he?” She paused for breath before shaking her head. “No, you wouldn’t tolerate a moron, no matter how pretty, and a serial killer would already be taken care of.”
“This tendency you have to jump to weird conclusions will get you in serious trouble one day.” Melanie neatly situated her toiletry case in the space she had saved before adding a few other miscellaneous items: outlet adapters, copies of all her travel documents, and backup chargers for her cell phone and tablet. “And I haven’t met anyone. It was at work.”
“Ooooh, you’re lying. Tell me about Mr. Work?”
Knowing nothing would budge Lorelei when she got stubborn, Melanie went into the living room and grabbed her tablet off the coffee table. A few taps and the image of a lush jungle came into view. That was what she showed Lorelei.
Her eyes examined the picture for a moment and widened when she found the hidden jaguar perched in the trees. The incredible, close jaguar that stared from the image with boneless curiosity.
“How did he take this without getting eaten?”
Melanie reached over and tapped the image again to get the byline information to come up. “I’d like to know that, too, because you and I both know there was no zoom involved, and the camera wasn’t perched in the tree. However, Mr. Patton has been out of the country for months, and when he is stateside, he’s basically a recluse.”
Lorelei read the short byline information before handing the tablet back to Melanie. “So, spill. What sort of contact have you had? And where’s a picture?”
A few more taps on the tablet and Melanie answered, “Like I said, it’s been for work. We’ve been communicating through email about an issue with some of the photographs. Nothing personal has been involved, so you can get that gleam out of your eyes. I would like to meet him because there’s something about his photos, and I’m curious about the process he uses to achieve what he does.” She turned the tablet back to Lorelei. “This is the only picture he has for his bio.”
They both looked at the candid photo of a tall, well-muscled man wearing khaki cargo pants, a khaki bush shirt, and a plain baseball cap. His features were shadowed, but they could make out a generous amount of scruff on his face and the displeased line of his mouth, not much else.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M. A. Freeman lives near Wilmington, NC and never makes it to the beach. Any free time is consumed with books, either reading or writing. An avid traveller and self proclaimed geek, trips abroad and to cons such as DragonCon in Atlanta are always on the agenda. Currently working full time in healthcare and attending school to obtain a Master of Library and Information Science degree to compliment the Bachelor’s of Arts in English and Creative Writing.
Chloe: Young, passionate, and independent, Chloe’s just bought a coffee shop and has plans to make it everyone’s favorite place in town. While away from home learning how to make the best ever pastries for her new venture, she hooks up with a hot stranger for her first sensual experience. She doesn’t expect to ever see him again, certainly not in her new coffee shop.
Damon: He’s ex-military. Tough. Protecting others is his mission in life. He long ago gave up expecting to find a bond-mate. When he agrees to watch over his Navy SEAL buddy’s little sister, he doesn’t expect her to turn his world upside down. He’s too old for such a vibrant young woman, but their mate-bond is hard to ignore, even if he wanted to.
Damon slunk toward his prey. Silently. Head down. Eyes locked on the target. There would be no mistakes. This sorry excuse for a human would not live to see one more sunrise. The child cowering in the makeshift cage in the hidden room in the basement of the vile pervert’s home, however, would have a chance to grow up and forget about the nightmare of this night. The police had already been tipped off.
The man’s head jerked up, and he looked around wildly. “Hello? Is someone out there?”
Now was the most difficult part. It was so tempting to play with the target, to watch his fear turn to terror as he realized he’d gone from predator to prey. To play with him, like a cat with a mouse. To make sure he suffered every bit as much as his victims had.
But justice needed to be swift, and impartial.
That was the hardest part of what he did.
He was close now, almost close enough. He moved forward, covering more ground before bunching his feet beneath him. The prey turned to face him.
He launched himself, surging up and forward at the same time. His teeth found their mark, ripping through the soft skin of neck and severing the carotid artery. Bright crimson blood sprayed from the wound as the man went down, gurgling in horror. He clawed weakly at the gaping laceration in his throat, his life force already deserting him.
Why? The man mouthed the word silently, brows drawn into a confused frown as his body hit the ground. Then his eyes glazed over, and his body went limp.
The wolf shook his head, sitting back on his haunches as he watched the life drain out of this miserable excuse for a human.
Justice had been served. No other child would suffer from this man’s depravity.
Once he was sure the man was dead, Damon turned and loped back toward the stream he’d passed on the way up here. He needed to wash the blood from his fur, to remove all traces of what had transpired here. There was no need to dispose of the body. This far up in the bush, nature’s scavengers would take care of that, and if the remains were ever found there would be no way to trace the killing back to one lone wolf with an overriding sense of justice.
The water was cold. He plunged into its chilly depths, ducking his head repeatedly under the fast-moving water. When it finally ran clear, all traces of blood gone, he swam to the far shore and pulled himself up onto the bank. Shaking the excess water from his fur, he turned toward the trail that led back to where he’d parked his vehicle.
* * *
Chloe held her running shoes in one hand as she slowly turned the door handle, trying to make as little noise as possible. It would not do to wake her roommate at this time of the night. Sometimes being a werewolf sucked, especially if you had to sneak out in the middle of the night to go for a run.
Slipping into the hallway, she carefully closed the dorm room door behind her and headed toward the stairwell. Of course, there was an elevator, but she didn’t want to wake up half this floor with its arthritic squeals and groans. She was fairly sure the thing had been installed sometime before her grandparents met each other.
The stairs made more sense anyway since she planned to exit via the window on the second-floor landing. Being a werewolf had its upsides, one of which was the ability to jump from a second story window without risk of injury. Avoiding anyone who might be lurking in the foyer was a bonus.
The stairwell was deserted, which wasn’t much of a surprise. Chloe sat down on the top step and put her shoes on. It was the middle of the night and even if it weren’t, most people preferred to use the elevator. She descended to the second-floor landing and unlatched the window. She pushed it open and swung herself up and through the opening in one graceful move.
At least, she pictured it as graceful. Her landing on the grass below, not quite so good. Her left foot slipped on a candy bar wrapper someone had carelessly tossed on the ground and she ended up sprawled out with her feet in the air. Definitely not graceful, but at least no one was watching. She’d checked to make sure of that. The surveillance camera on the wall was a fake, put there in a prominent position to scare off petty thieves and overly amorous frat boys.
Getting to her feet, she brushed off her pants and headed out to the edge of town to find a likely hiding place. Shifting would be easy tonight. She’d put it off just a little longer than usual, and she could feel the itch under her skin, the wolf fighting to get out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Kane lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley with a bouncy little rescue dog whose breed defies description, a cantankerous Himalayan cat, and too many fish to count. She spent many years trying to fit in and act normal, but finally gave up the effort. She started writing romance in 2008, and her fate was sealed when she won a publishing contract with Red Sage Publishing and just a month later Changeling Press accepted her first submission. Since then she has published more than thirty stories in a variety of sub-genres, all with a happily ever after.
She has two handsome sons and six adorable grandchildren and enjoys spending time with them whenever she can. Her hobbies, when she’s not playing with the characters in her head, include kayaking, hiking, swimming, playing guitar, singing and of course, reading.
Jessalyn Delaney has only known pain at the hands of her shifter ex-husband, a coyote who thrived on making her scream. When a brash Highland bear shifter insists she’s his destined mate, she knows better than to go down that path again. Except Tavish isn’t anything like her ex, and she can’t ignore how much she yearns for his touch.
Tavish MacBride is determined to claim his mate and her cubs, even if she’s human. The fact that her ex is causing problems is easily enough handled. As a bear, Tavish isn’t afraid of shedding a little blood. When the coyote harms his mate, Tavish knows he’ll have no choice but to take the shifter out. But first, he has a mate to claim… and what a claiming it will be!
Author’s Note: Mad, Bad Bear has a few violent scenes, bad language, and an alpha bear shifter who knows how to make his mate beg for more. There’s a guaranteed Happily Ever After, and no cliffhanger.
Available January 8th at Changeling Press or January 15th at online booksellers
Jess didn’t know why she’d thought she could escape. Eighteen years of marriage, of torment and fear, and she’d thought she was finally free. But could he let her go? No. It wasn’t enough that he’d dragged things out and not signed the divorce papers for months, but now he’d followed her to Scotland. It had sounded so simple. Take a trip with her girlfriends to get away for a while, leave the kids at home with the grandparents, but it was fast turning into a nightmare.
Nicholas didn’t seem to have any interest in the kids, even though they’d seen their fair share of his special kind of attention over the years. She didn’t understand why he wanted her back. Love had been missing from their marriage for a long time, if it had ever truly existed. All he did was belittle her, and that was on a good day. The other days he let his fists do the talking.
She felt the Scotsman approach, had noticed him the previous night, but the last thing she needed was a hookup. Men were the bane of her existence and she was much better off without one, right? Maybe if she found a nice man someday, one who would treat her kids like they were his own, then maybe she could see herself giving love another try. Too bad there wasn’t some magical way to know you were destined to be with someone.
She refused to look up at him. If she ignored him, would he go back to the bar?
Gently, he pinched her chin between his large fingers and turned her to face him. She saw the concern and anger in his eyes when he noticed the bruise on her cheek. It wasn’t like she could hide it.
“What happened, lass? Who did this to you?” he asked.
“We don’t need your help,” her friend Monica said, a hand on her hip. “Just go back to your buddies at the bar. If you’re looking for a quick lay, you won’t find it here.”
The Scotsman held her steady gaze, his hand still gently holding her chin. “I’ll nae hurt her. I want to help.”
“You can’t help me,” Jess said. “No one can.”
“Now, lass. That cannae be true. I swear it, if you tell me who did this to you, I’ll see you avenged.”
Her eyes widened a little. “Avenged? What exactly does that mean?”
She had visions of a sword-swinging barbarian going after Nicholas, which almost made her smile. She’d love to see the look on his face if this huge Highlander went after him with a claymore. Her lips twitched.
“Ah, that was almost a smile there, lass.” His lips tipped up on the corners and her breath stilled. She couldn’t remember ever seeing a more handsome man before. What he was doing at her table she didn’t understand. “Tell me his name, lass. I ken just aboot everyone in this town. You tell me who’s responsible and I’ll see that justice is done.”
Monica snorted. “Yeah, because she wants a club-wielding caveman to beat up her ex. On second thought, that isn’t such a bad idea.”
“Ex?” the Scotsman asked.
“Her asshole of an ex-husband followed her to Scotland. It’s his handiwork you see on her face. I guess we should just be grateful he didn’t do worse.” She muttered something he didn’t quite catch. “I never thought he’d leave the US just to get his hands on her.”
Jess saw his eyes flare, then change from a mossy green to a golden brown, then back again. She thought it was just her imagination playing tricks on her until it happened again. Through the hand gripping her chin, she felt a tremor rake his body, as if he were trying to contain something within himself. Could he be like her ex? Were there others out there like him? The man was huge, and if he also had a shifter’s strength, she wouldn’t stand a chance. Yet, he’d seemed enraged by what Nicholas had done to her. Was it possible it wasn’t her ex’s shifter side that had made him so violent?
The Scot looked at Monica. “Do you have a picture of this ex? Do you ken where he’s stayin’?”
Monica snatched Jess’s phone off the table and began scrolling through the photo gallery. When she found what she was looking for, she flipped the phone around and showed the Scot the last family picture with Nicholas. Jess had meant to delete it, but the kids looked so happy in the photo she hadn’t been able to part with it.
The Scot looked from the picture to Jess. “Are those your kids?”
She nodded. “Piper is sixteen and Donovan is thirteen. You’d think it was the other way around, as tall as he is.”
“Your ex disnae look verra tall.”
Jess smiled. “He isn’t. The men on my side of the family are all over six feet tall. Donovan took after them.”
“I don’t know where the asshole is staying,” Monica said. “We’re at the Sheep’s Heid Inn and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’d found a room at the same place. The better to keep an eye on Jess and ensure she doesn’t have any fun.”
The Scot waved toward the phone. “May I borrow that for a moment?”
Monica arched a brow, but handed the phone over. The Scot rose to his feet and returned to the three men he’d been sitting with. Jess watched as they talked amongst themselves and didn’t miss the dark looks cast her way. When he returned, the men followed him.
The Scot handed the phone back to Monica and knelt in front of Jess again, taking her hand in his. The way his fingers wrapped around her smaller hand, the callused feel of them against her softer skin, sent shivers down her spine. There was heat in his touch, something she’d only ever read about. She watched his eyes do that weird thing again where they changed colors, and it was on the tip of her tongue to ask him about it.
Would you like to win a swag pack, book-themed charm bracelet, and a metal bookmark? Check out the release giveaway for Mad, Bad Bear at Rafflecopter.
*Giveaway is open Worldwide. Two winners will be announced after January 25th at Rafflecopter. No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older to enter.
Melody is an ambitious entrepreneur who has always loved the thrill of a new adventure, but she’s about to get more than she bargained for when the only way to save her business is to secure a deal with a powerful tribal leader. Running Horse, Oklahoma, isn’t on the map, and Mel is about as lost as a Shifter can get. When she unexpectedly runs into her best friend’s brother, her friendly visit quickly turns treacherous.
Lakota Cross is a man with secrets. While tracking a killer, he reunites with Melody, and their friendship sparks into a passionate affair. But if he doesn’t quell the fire soon, it might burn out of control.
Once again, fate brings these two Shifters together in a moment of need. But will the sacrifice be greater than the reward?
Curl up with an exciting new tale of love and magic by Dannika Dark.
“The Vow” follows characters from the “Seven” series. Can it be read as a stand-alone? YES. Absolutely. However, if you want to learn the character’s backstory and origins, you’ll want to read and/or listen to the Seven Series!
About the Author
Dannika Dark is the USA Today Bestselling Author of Urban Fantasy Romance and Paranormal Romance books. Her books have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide, and she is a 2016 Audie Awards finalist. In addition to writing about supernatural worlds, Dannika is passionate about graphic design and creates all her own covers and series art. When not writing in her cave, she enjoys indie music, reading, Netflix, heaps of chocolate, and unleashing her dark side.
A werewolf can only deny his destined mate for so long before the beast takes over.
Ranald’s Mate: Ranald has resigned himself to an arranged mating with a lass he can barely tolerate. He never counted on her turning into a feisty beauty! But if there’s one thing Ranald knows how to do, it’s woo a lass. His mate doesn’t stand a chance.
Highland Shifter’s Baby: One sniff and Camdan knows Lily’s his destined mate. Too bad she’s off-limits — or is she? When the temptation becomes too great, Cam knows that he’ll do whatever it takes to claim Lily and make her his.
Blair tapped her fingers on her leg, trying not to think about what awaited her. She remembered the boy she’d met all those years ago. He hadn’t been thrilled at the idea of mating with her, and she couldn’t blame him. She hadn’t been anyone’s ideal. Blair liked to think she’d improved over time, but men still gave her a wide berth. Her father had wanted her to go to her mating a virgin, but she’d taken care of that little pesky problem when she’d turned nineteen and realized she didn’t want her mate thinking she was unprepared for him.
Oh, she’d heard the talk over the years. Her mate had been kicking up his heels and having a grand time, diving under one skirt after another. Good thing shifters couldn’t carry diseases or she’d worry she might catch something from him. She supposed she couldn’t hold it against him. He’d been so young when they were contracted, older than her, but still young. It must have chafed to have his life mapped out for him. As for her, it wasn’t uncommon for a father to arrange a marriage for a daughter, but not in the pack. A bit outdated, perhaps, but she understood he meant well.
What kind of wolf had Ranald turned into? Despite his obvious distaste over mating with her, he’d seemed kind when she’d met him. Her father had encouraged her to seek him out over the years, but she’d always held back. Truthfully, she’d been enamored of him at that first meeting. He’d been so tall, his shoulders already broad. The way his hair had fallen over his forehead had made her fingers itch to push it back to see if it felt silky. She’d had a crush, instant lust, and it hadn’t dissipated over the years.
She’d had lovers, but only a few. Blair considered it research, not wanting to go to her mate’s bed a complete innocent. Unbeknownst to her father, she’d downloaded videos to learn how to please a man, and she couldn’t wait to put the knowledge to good use. Whatever her mate wanted in the bedroom, he would get. She’d learned long ago, a satisfied mate was a mate who didn’t stray. If they were true mates, she’d never have to worry about it. Destined mates would rather cut off their paw than cheat on their mate. But with an arranged mating? Anything was possible.
“You’re quiet,” her father said.
“Just thinking. Do you think Ranald has changed much over the years?”
“I have no’ seen him, but I’ve heard the whispers. He’s something of a ladies man, but I wouldnae fret. I’m sure he’ll be faithful to you.” Her father muttered something under his breath and she smiled when she made out the words or I’ll neuter him. He may be old and dying, but her father was still every inch the alpha male. He took his duties seriously, which was why he would be stepping down after she was mated today. He hadn’t trusted anyone to honor the contract between Ranald and her, but once the deed was done, he would be free.
It was sad that she wouldn’t be part of her pack any longer. She was not just gaining a mate, but a father-in-law and new pack mates. Would they accept her? She didn’t doubt that there would be challenges. With a male of Ranald’s standing, she would be highly surprised if the females in the pack just sat back and let him mate someone without a challenge. But what no one knew was that Blair had been training for this day. It’s why she’d taken so long to mate with Ranald. Every morning she’d risen and gone into the woods where she met up with Fyor, an ancient elf. He’d sworn her to secrecy, as elves and wolves didn’t get along. She’d kept his presence a secret in exchange for battle training. If she could take down a two-centuries-old elf, then she had faith she could take down a bitchy she-wolf.
They pulled to a stop in front of the alpha’s house. Butterflies erupted in her stomach and she wondered if Ranald was inside. She hadn’t seen him in ten long years. Had those years been kind to him? He’d been handsome as a teen, had that carried over into adulthood? Blair had to admit she was both excited and nervous to see her mate again. She was a far cry from the mousy girl he’d once seen. Would he like the woman she’d become? Or would she still fall short in the eyes of the mighty Ranald Douglas?
Her hair wasn’t quite as frizzy as it once was, now hanging in sleek curls to her waist, thanks to a hair mask she used religiously. Her freckles had faded over the years and could be hidden entirely with a light layer of make-up, when she deigned to wear any. She was still tiny, not quite five feet tall, and her figure was… well, her hourglass had a little extra, but she hadn’t had complaints from the few boys she’d dated, behind her father’s back of course. She supposed she was pleased with her appearance.
Today being a special day, she’d chosen to wear a pretty sundress with low-heeled sandals. She’d even gotten a manicure and pedicure for her big day. She’d wanted everything to be perfect, but what happened next would rely solely on Ranald. He must have agreed to mating, or she wouldn’t be here, right? Surely, he wouldn’t wait until she showed up on his doorstep to deny her? She’d had all week to pack and think about her future, a future with Ranald. But she had to admit, that several times she’d pictured this day and what would happen if he denied her. It wasn’t a pleasant thought.
“Ready?” her father asked.
“As I’ll ever be.”
Her father patted her leg before opening his door and climbing out of the car. With a deep sigh, Blair got out and followed him up to the front door of the large house. She’d thought the alpha lived in a castle, like her father did, but this home was much smaller than the one she’d grown up in. It was nice and she could easily see herself living here. Was this Ranald’s home too? Or did he have his own place?
Alpha Douglas opened the door and ushered them inside with a warm smile. The sound of the door shutting seemed so final to Blair. She followed her father and the alpha into the living room. There was a bar along one wall and a massive figure stood in front of it, his back to the room. His kilt was of the Douglas clan, and his hair was a touch darker than Ranald’s. His shoulders were so broad she wondered how they fit inside his shirt. Beneath his kilt, his calves were thick and muscular with silky looking hair sprinkled across them.
Heat spread from her middle out through her limbs; a blush rose to her cheeks. She hadn’t even seen his face yet and already her body responded to him. Blair inhaled deeply and the scent that surrounded her was a deep, forest musk that soothed her inner beast and made her want to move closer for more. The hand braced on the bar was large, with long, thick fingers. Capable looking hands. The kind of hands a woman would beg to have on her body, stroking her to ecstasy. Good lord! She was practically mated and here she was lusting after this hunk of a stranger.
Blair licked her lips and tried to get her body back under control. She’d never felt such an intense stirring before and her wolf was more than intrigued. Then the guilt hit her. She was betraying her mate by lusting after this man, a man who she didn’t even know. Knowing he was kin to her mate just made it even worse. This was a man she’d probably have to sit across from at the dinner table. How she would manage it she didn’t know.
“Blair,” Alpha Douglas said. “You remember my son, do you no’?”
Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child writing her first stories in crayon. Today she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and she firmly believes that love will find you at the right time, even if Mr. Right is literally out of this world.
Kenna McKay is a lover of all things Scottish—especially men in kilts! There’s just something sexy about Scotsmen. The Scottish burr, perhaps? Their rugged good looks? Maybe it’s not just one thing, but everything combined into one mouthwatering package.
Kenna didn’t start out wanting to be a writer, but she’s loved the written word for as long as she can remember. She devoured books from a young age, and even worked in a library for a while. Now she enjoys making up her own worlds and hopes you enjoy them as much as she does.
One touch. One look from Morgan’s hypnotic eyes and Skye can’t deny the magnetic pull.
High school senior, Morgan Raines was used to change, whether it was transferring to a new school or shifting into a were-jaguar under the full moon. Starting over didn’t bother him, but finding his mate pinned to her locker by her loser ex-boyfriend does.
Will turning furry during the full moon send Skye running scared or into his arms?
Werewolf society has little tolerance for a lone wolf like Don, a man with a complicated past. Denied safe haven everywhere except SearchLight, it’s hard for him to learn to trust, yet pack life calls to his wolf nature.
When two basilisks offer a chance at romance, Don refuses to accept anything more than a physical relationship. Will his stubbornness get him and his new partners killed?
For Don Sanderson, disabled werewolf, life couldn’t have been better.
He was three thousand miles from the pushy alpha werewolves of Washington, DC. He was starting a new job. And life was just great in general. He’d always wanted to travel and thought he’d never get the chance.
Mostly because of his wheelchair.
But here he was, rolling across the parking lot toward the carefully concealed entrance to the SearchLight Academy campus in California. It was early March and the whole of Death Valley was awash in wildflowers. The perfume in the air was glorious and he’d never felt so glad to be alive.
Well, all right, that was laying it on a bit thick. He recognized his desire, as a therapist, to be healthy and positive in his daily thoughts. This wasn’t perfect because Timothy wasn’t with him. Timothy, damn him, was gone.
Don paused to survey the flowers that crowded right up to the edge of the parking lot. He smiled. Come May or June, there wouldn’t be any flowers. The heat baking off the pavement could fry an egg. Or maybe even melt his tires. But for now, he was content to park outside instead of in the garage. He’d never thought to see Death Valley and get to celebrate its beauty.
Hell, he’d often thought he’d be under the flowers instead of surveying them. Werewolf culture had little tolerance for a lone wolf, and yet they didn’t want him to be part of a pack either. Disabled in more ways than one, he wasn’t desirable. Yet, they couldn’t just leave him be because “lone wolves are dangerous, ravenous beasts and separated from society, they often go insane.”
He’d been raised on that truth, but he wasn’t insane. He had a pack, of sorts. He had SearchLight. It wasn’t the same, and he knew it. Being in a wolf pack, surrounded by your kind, was like being given a drink of water after days of thirst. There was something that called to a wolf’s soul when it came to pack living. But Don had been nicknamed. His full name was Donald. Nicknaming was disrespectful, and he’d been ostracized. No one wanted him.
Well, maybe dead, they wanted him. But only SearchLight could use his talents as he was now: a therapist capable of helping others heal.
He entered the hidden passage, taking the gentle slope down toward the heart of SearchLight’s new campus for students of all ages. There had originally been only one SearchLight campus, in Washington, DC. Now there was this second campus, in the Mojave Desert, shielded from humans and dangerous magical creatures alike.
He traveled through the whispering silence and smiled when the almost creepy stillness was broken by laughter. This place was so new everything practically squeaked. There weren’t any security officers here, not until June, and only some of the professors had reported. He was supplemental staff, and technically he didn’t have to be here until April first, but he’d been so very glad to get out of DC…
There was housing here, as there wasn’t in the nation’s capital. Being all underground and far from usual human habitation, it was easier to have apartments here than in the Panamint Mountains, which were relatively nearby. Soon, Don would be hiding his car inside because he wouldn’t be going anywhere. But today was his first day and he’d longed to be outside with the fifty other cars.
They were hidden from standard human perception by leprechauns magic and other concealment spells, but right now, the parking lot was simply another place for anyone to leave their vehicle because the whole national park was open to visitors. Hiding in plain sight was SearchLight’s favorite trick.
It was still early, barely eight o’clock. He wheeled his way down to the cafeteria, following the signs, and thinking that he’d love to have breakfast in his own apartment. Even well-prepared food, when it was mass-produced, tasted nothing like home cooking.
When he was finally in the cafeteria, he balanced a tray on his lap and rolled through the line. He was aware of people looking at him but that was okay. His right leg ended just below his knee. It was normal for people to steal little glances in his direction. He had two psychic senses even though most LGBTQ werewolves only had one. He could always tell when he was being watched, particularly with negative intent, and he was a telekinetic. He could have rolled along with the tray floating an inch or two off his lap, but why show off? He drew plenty of attention without that.
Reaching a table that was specially designed to allow a wheelchair to roll underneath, he smiled. He was one of two wheelchair-bound staff, and there might be students coming in with similar disabilities. Since Dr. Sowerby’s decree, two years gone, that all SearchLight Academy buildings must be ADA compliant, more and more disabled magical creatures had flocked to the school designed for, and catering to, magical creatures.
“Do you mind if we join you?”
He glanced up as he set his tray on the table. It was a female who had spoken, a female basilisk, and he rapidly searched through the list of names he kept in his head. He didn’t know all of the faculty at the SearchLight Academy back East, but he thought… “Ms. Vaughn?”
She blinked beautiful golden-brown eyes at him. “We’ve never met. How do you know my name?”
ABOUT EMILY CARRINGTON
LR Cafe’s Best of 2019 Awards Nominee: Best Author
Emily Carrington is a multipublished author of male/male and transgender erotica. Seeking a world made of equality, she created SearchLight to live out her dreams. But even SearchLight has its problems, and Emily is looking forward to working all of these out with a host of characters from dragons and genies to psychic vampires.
After observing the mistakes made by his fellow Huntsmen, Arcas, the Bear, refuses to follow their example. He immediately claims his mate, a descendant of the cat goddess Bastet. Their pairing will be powerful and his mate is courageous, wise, and sexy as hell. Too bad they have to bring down the remnants of a murderous cult and stop a demonic disaster from being let loose on the world.
Marshal is no fool. From the moment they met, he has been drawn to the red-haired Bear. He didn’t think world ending events would ensue to make their developing relationship a bit more difficult to navigate. But now The Hunt was on the move and nothing would stop them from achieving their goals: rescue Kern’s mate and save the world.
“Fuck.” Arcas paced in his room, fighting the urge to heal the many bites, bumps, and bruises he’d received as he kept trying to purge the insidious drugs from his system. That those bites and bruises had come from one he considered his sister just made him… What was he feeling? Angst? Frustration? Anger? Well, yes, there was anger. A whole lot of anger, but there were more underlying emotions that refused to process.
He was angry. That he was sure of. In fact, one could say he was way beyond incensed and approaching furious at a rapid pace and there was nothing he could do to stem the tide of righteous anger that filled him to overflowing.
He remembered each one. He remembered their faces, their nasty little comments, how they treated him as a beast, something less that human… less than the animals they had gathered for this modern-day travesty of a gladiator sport. They had treated him like he was an object. Brave in the face of the drugs they had constantly injected into his veins and blew in his face. He remembered them, each and every one of them from the time he opened his eyes in that piece of shit van after they dosed him the first time to the time when they applied electric cattle prods to his back in an effort to make him shift… because there was no way he would ever forget that no matter how hard he tried.
So now he paced as he tried to process what it felt like to be knocked completely off the food chain. They didn’t even want to steal his life energy, they just wanted him dead as if he didn’t matter, as if he didn’t live and breathe and think. They just wanted him dead, almost as an afterthought. And what was worse, they’d made him attack his sister.
He remembered her wolf form screaming at him as he lunged at her, unable to stop the cursed animal within him from acting on instinct and trying to obliterate any threat that would do him more harm. He was grateful that he was incapacitated enough not to clearly think or he surely would have done more harm to his sister than he had actually managed. He shuddered as he remembered the feel of not being in control of his own body, of being a visitor in his own mind, screaming in futility, as the world turned into madness around him.
And he remembered his taste…
It was the taste of him, of his blood that gave Arcas the final push to take control of his own body and its actions once more. By then, it had almost been too late. He had been moving in for the kill and Caille, no matter how powerful she was, would not have been able to fight off the power of a god who was still being actively worshiped every time someone looked into the night sky. He would have snuffed her back to her component parts. It would have taken her centuries to re-form and it would have all been his fault.
So, yeah, add guilt to the pile of emotions threatening to drive him insane now, thank you. Guilt for not being fast enough, for not being strong enough, for not being wise enough… just for not being enough. Because of him Kern’s mate had been taken to parts unknown because when he opened his eyes in that rocking van, Thomas hadn’t been there. He could add nothing to the hunt for Kern’s mate, but he did remember each and every face that had hovered over him, had lorded over him, that had spit in his face and applied their boots and shoes to his body. He remembered each and every one and they would pay.
And there was him… How could he ever be good enough for Marshal? He himself was weak and useless… and… and… his blood.
Gods above, Arcas had never tasted anything as sweet… Marshal tasted of sunshine, of desert sands and of lotus petals. He had tasted of his forever and that was such a travesty that it almost brought tears to Arcas’ eyes because he had almost killed the man.
Caille, a goddess in her own right, would have survived. But The Cat… he was not being worshipped, had never been worshiped because Arcas could taste that in his blood. He was immortal but not invulnerable, and if he hadn’t acted when he did, Arcas would have been responsible for the destruction of his own mate.
That was something that Arcas could not abide. So he paced in his room, withheld the healing he could have so easily done to his human form, and he did his best to stick to the story that The Raven and The Wolf, along with help from his mate, had constructed. It was laughably easy how eager the police were to accept their convoluted tale. The story had all the hallmarks of a movie of the week. There were rich assholes to blame, an insane group of homophobic cultists who had access to poor, abused animals, and there were guns and drugs, lots of drugs. Hell, in this world where people cared more about animals than their own brethren, it was so easy to play the sympathy card. To add to the human interest angle, there was an obvious blended family, a person of color, and the sexual orientation of the one still missing man that guaranteed that in the right reporter’s hands they were looking at a Pulitzer. Exotic animals were just the icing on a journalistic cake that was going to be served up on all media platforms, and with today’s sentiment about eating the rich… well, companies and stocks were going to be dropping like flies after a judicious application of bug killer.
Yet now, here he was, pacing ineffectually in his room, feeling his blood pressure rise as he sought to find some outlet for his wrath.
Yes, wrath was the perfect word for the emotions that he was now feeling. Wrath and rage were coursing through his body, heating his blood, and making him want to explode.
But it was an impotent wrath for the moment for there was no clear target to aim his ire at, no one single person to blame… but himself.
And fuck, he had never been so angry in his long, never-ending life.
A knock at the door drew him away from his mounting self-anger, and as he spun around, a snarl on his lips, ready to tell whatever well-meaning sycophant disturbing his solitude to fuck off, he froze as a familiar scent suddenly filled the room.
It was — it was The Cat… his mate… and he smelled concerned.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.
From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.
Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.
Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.
Wynter Larsen believes that shapeshifters don’t exist even after she’s abducted by a group of insane scientists trying to create them. She escaped, but she owes her freedom to those she left behind.
Now, it’s her turn to help them.
Geno Brewerigeron has kept his promise to his dying mate to raise their sons. He just needs to tie up some loose ends before he can join her in the next life. A babbling teen, a swerving car, and a woman in danger changes his lonely existence and gives him a new lease on life.
Can Wynter trust the man who suddenly appears and promises to take her and the twin boys she has vowed to protect to Magic, New Mexico? If she does, who will protect him from the creature she has become?
I always enjoy a good sci-fi/fantasy romance, and when they combine both shifters and aliens, I can’t wait to read them. I enjoyed the setting of Wooing Winter, and the idea of a secret lab trying to create shifters certainly kept me entertained. The way those in captivity bonded with one another and did what they could to save the kids proved that there is hope no matter how dark your life may become.
Geno and his sons were certainly interesting. A combination of boyish charm and old-world manners in a mouthwatering package. Who wouldn’t want a guy like that to fall for them? Geno’s unwavering devotion to his first mate, and later to Wynter after he accepts he’s been given a second chance at happiness, makes him a swoon-worthy hero. He’s protective, considerate, and has enough love not only for his biological kids but for any others who need a home. A great mix of alpha and sweet.
I struggled to like Wynter’s character as much as I did Geno. While I understand she came from a life of abuse, and not everyone heals the same way, at times it felt like the author was too focused on Wynter’s disbelief anyone could want her because she wore a size eighteen. I get it. I do. Some women struggle to accept they can be beautiful even if they aren’t a size six, and after her husband had done his level best to tear her down, it’s no wonder she didn’t have much self-esteem. It just felt like that part was pushed a little too hard and at times made it feel like that was the main focus of the story instead of the romance between Wynter and Geno, or even trying to find out more about the secret lab. It detracted from the story a bit and left me frustrated at times. It also made her seem weak, which was far from true. She escaped a secret lab, cared for two young shifters who weren’t her biological family, and did what she could to send help for those left behind. A weak woman wouldn’t have done those things. She’d have given up.
The secondary characters, including a sentient computer and an altered shifter named Gregor, were delightful. I’m honestly hoping we get to find out more about the shifters from the lab, and what “Dana” will do now that she doesn’t feel like she’s just a computer. The description of Geno’s shifter form was excellent and makes me wish for a blue striped alien tiger of my own. The story lures you in with action in the beginning then a slow build of romance but be prepared for the sparks to fly once Wynter stops fighting her attraction to Geno.
If you’re looking for a romance with a plus-sized heroine who struggles to accept herself for who she is, a hero who has all the patience in the world when it comes to his one and only, and a rag-tag team of characters determined to seek justice, Wooing Wynter would be a good addition to your TBR pile.
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the opportunity.The review above is merely my opinion.