Marcus’ werewolf pack faces a deadly vampire hell-bent on revenge. And then there’s the dragons…
Dark Reign: Marcus has spent most of his life saving his fellow weres from his ex-lover, vampire Dalton Gray, but after one of his Enforcers slaughter Gray’s guards they’re headed for war. His allies are few in number until unexpected help arrives — but that brings a whole new set of problems, including an injured child. And inside knowledge of Gray’s operations.
Meting out justice to the vampires who attacked his lover is easy for Daniel. Dealing with the fallout from hidden truths coming to light? That’s the hard part.
Clutch Wars: As the last female dragon shifter, Tia’s the only hope for her species’ survival. That means mating, which wouldn’t be problem—if she wanted to be a queen. She doesn’t.
Meanwhile, the Navarro clan is headed for war with a demon force hellbent on wiping them out. Demons don’t play fair, and they force Mason to make hard choices. When the clan is surprised by an ambush, Korin seeks revenge. But what price is he willing to pay?
Publisher’s Note: Dark Reign/Clutch Wars contains the previously published Dark Reign novellas Found, Oathbound, Atonement and Fight or Flight, and the Clutch Wars novellas The Reluctant Queen, Regan’s Folly, Sub Rosa, and Sovereign.
“I’ll happily recommend this book to friends because Mychael Black’s werewolves are darned hot to read about. Where can I find one of my own?”
— 4 Cherries from Tiger Lily, Whipped Cream Reviews
“The love scenes are incredible. Mychael Black has created a fantastic story.”
— 4.5 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs
Praise for Oathbound
“…a superior example of exceptionally sensual lovemaking. Oathbound is an impressive, as well as, incredibly enjoyable saga.”
— Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews
Praise for Atonement
“Mychael Black has created another superb installment to this series. Atonement is an exceedingly enjoyable illustration of dramatic moments, heartwarming characters as well as a happily-ever-after climax.”
— 5 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews
“Darkly sensual and mysterious, Atonement is a captivating story of redemption. Fast paced, scorching hot, and suspenseful from start to finish…”
— Lisa, Joyfully Reviewed
Praise for Fight or Flight
“Another interesting addition to a very imaginative m/m erotic series that introduces very sensual characters who have survived personal traumas. This is a very sizzling entry…”
— 4 Stars from ELF, Night Owl Reviews
“Mychael Black has created a wonderful, as well as enjoyable, installment to this series. I found Eric to be an especially impressive character.”
— 4 Nymphs from Chocolate Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews
Praise for The Reluctant Queen
“This is the first of a new series that may be a quickie, but it is one helluva good ride. The reader can enjoy this book in one sitting. Take a load off and enjoy this new series.”
— 5 Stars from Angibabi4, Night Owl Reviews
“Melting hawt manlove is on the menu for this new series from Mychael Black. For dragonshifter lovers, this is a good new series to start reading. It’s fast, furious, and arousing.”
— BookAddict, Manic Reviews
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Myc has been writing professionally since 2005, solo and with Shayne Carmichael. Genres include pretty much anything (no steampunk yet), though Myc is well known for paranormal stories. When not writing, Myc is usually playing PC games, reading, watching Netflix, and spending way too much time on Facebook. Since the question has come up in the past, pronouns are not an issue. Myc is bio-female, mentally male, and 100% genderfluid, so any pronoun works!
After sneaking out against her mother’s wishes, Artie Irvin spots a massive wolf—then watches it don a bathrobe and transform into her mom. Thrilled to discover she comes from a line of werewolves, Artie asks her mom to share everything—including the story of Artie’s late father. Her mom reluctantly agrees. And to help Artie figure out her own wolflike abilities, her mom recruits some old family friends.
Artie thrives in her new community and even develops a crush on her new friend Maya. But as she learns the history of werewolves and her own parents’ past, she’ll find that wolves aren’t the scariest thing in the woods—vampires are.
Artie and the Wolf Moon is a fast-paced, thrilling read!
While the first chapter started a bit slow, the story quickly picked up. I enjoyed the dynamic between Artie and her mom. They weren’t just mother and daughter, but had a special friendship too. She supported Artie, and encouraged her love of photography.
The werewolf aspect didn’t kick into high gear until nearly the halfway point, but things really took off afterward. The action between the wolves and vampires added the right amount of excitement.
The artwork is both beautiful and eerie at times. Overall, a nicely done graphic novel.
*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley. The review above is only my opinion.
Danny barely remembers who he is, let alone his mate. After being taken from his pack years ago by a group of overzealous hunters, Danny identifies only as “Wolf” — the pet of the pack who helps track down other shifters for the hunters’ sport.
When Danny tracks down a female wolf, he hesitates to help imprison her male companion. At first Danny doesn’t remember this wolf, at least not logically, but his senses are completely overtaken and he’s sure he’s met this Alpha before.
This wolf isn’t just his former Alpha. Jamie is also his mate, and after years of believing Danny dead, Jamie’s not going to let his mate go ever again. Even if it means working together to kill each of the hunters so they can never take their lives again — or come between their mating bond.
I followed him silently, not that there was much of a chance to use words in our wolf form. I was beyond surprised I still drew breath, but I wasn’t going to let him in on that.
He was an Alpha. He was born to be a leader the way all Alphas were. Strong, fierce and with a natural desire to protect. As soon as he’d sniffed me, he’d let out a low growl that had me belly-up on the ground. His nose nudged my neck in acceptance, and then he headed toward the woods with nothing more than his Alpha voice in my head telling me to follow.
I knew he could talk to me with more than just basic commands. At least, he could if he were so inclined. I’d always wondered how powerful the boy who should have been my mate would have been had he been given a chance.
The hunters were behind us, but I knew at least a few would stay with Langdon. Langdon Sr. wouldn’t, though. He would want to come after me and bury a bullet in my brain himself.
Until there was blood, my blood, this wouldn’t be over. I whined and pawed the ground and drank more water than I needed in my effort to get the Alpha to release me. A faint thought popped into my mind that if I crawled back and begged for mercy, Langdon wanted me enough to stop my death. Then we’d go live whatever fairy tale he’d drawn up.
At least it was a life where I knew the outcome. This one with the Alpha just reminded me how out of touch I was with my kind. And with myself. Each step I took without feeling a whip against my flesh was a reminder I no longer remembered what it was to be free.
We ran part of the way, farther and farther from the female wolf who had to have been his mate. The little bit of her blood I tasted on my paw from when I brought her down smelled just like him. Why he was bothering to lead me so far away, I had no idea.
Eventually, the darkness overtook even our wolf eyesight, forcing us to retreat to a mostly empty stable. There was an old horse covered in a wool blanket and chewing some hay lazily.
She either had a death wish or wasn’t fazed by creatures of the night seeking shelter in her barn because she barely batted an eye before going back to her dinner.
An entire side of the barn was empty and had enough closure to keep us warm against the chill. I almost expected him to bark at me to go back outside to keep watch while he slept. Even though Alphas were supposed to act in the best interest of their pack, it didn’t always work out that way. And I wasn’t his pack, not really anyway.
I saw his body twist and contort as the sound of bone snapping and muscle stretching filled the silence of the barn. Fur receded as his skin became visible. With a barking cough that morphed from beast to man in a moment, there was now a man standing in front of me. He had his back to me, obviously not worried I would attack him from behind.
I saw his beautiful pale skin had been marred by a Hunter’s blade. I’d been cut enough myself to know how the scars looked when they faded. It had been years since his flesh had found the end of a blade, but it was there, just visible enough in the moonlight.
He was tall, so much taller than me, and I found myself staring at his legs, the curve of his ass. I longed for him to turn around so I could stare at what I was sure would be the most beautiful wolf I’d ever met since my mate was taken from me.
Hair as red as fire was loose around his shoulders, the same color he’d been as a wolf. I found myself feeling utterly insufficient to even be in his presence. My hair, blond and boring in comparison to his fire.
Just as I was thinking of backing out of the stable to give him space, his command stopped me. “Phase to a human.”
And oh, how I wanted to immediately do what he asked. To phase and to converse with him, but there was more than fear that I’d come across as stupid. There was also the fear I wasn’t enough. And I wanted to be.
Ana is still figuring out what she wants to do with her life, although social work seems to be the most likely. Her best friends are a box of chocolate and her kitten who always sit beside her while she writes. When Ana was in high school, she often wrote about the LGBT community, but now her work is less…innocent. Ana enjoys writing anything and everything, including BDSM, dragons, shifters, magic, and more.
When Prince Leon disappears, his people turn to the dragons for help. Nyle is the unlucky dragon tasked with finding Leon, a duty he dreads as it forces him into the confounding human world and far away from his collection of pretties.
Locating a missing prince should be a simple matter, but if Nyle has learned anything about humans since being forced among them, it’s that they needlessly complicate everything. When he finally locates the errant prince, however, what Nyle finds is a treasure worth all the complications—and worth protecting at any cost.
Nyle walked through the crowded bazaar with an eye on his coin purse. He had heard stories of humans who stole such things and did not wish to be the first of his kind to experience such ill luck.
He also kept an eye on the crowds. He doubted he would locate his quarry on his first foray into the human market, but there were clues he could find by simply being aware.
For example, the way the fishmonger in the corner stall blatantly gripped his meat cleaver as a group of ragged children exited an alleyway and dispersed into the bustle was probably a good indicator. Nyle would keep an eye on those children—they might have something to do with the disappearances of purses—but the man at the fish stall might have some interesting information. Nyle decided to head there first.
Someone jostled Nyle on their way toward a dour woman selling ribbons and beads across the way. He grimaced and held back a growl. They were humans, creatures clearly not versed in the niceties of society, and while their ignorance didn’t excuse them, it did allow Nyle to rationalize not taking the oafs who rudely bumped him to task. He had a job, and giving in to the urge to roar and breathe flames was not conducive to completing his task.
Nyle was dressed like a human. A loose pair of pants and a shirt that laced up the front comprised his costume, and if the fabric was of a tighter weave than the rest of the local class of humans, at least he looked the part.
“I’m searching for a young man,” Nyle said when he reached the wooden stall covered in fish. The fishmonger had known which children to watch. Perhaps he would also know Nyle’s target.
“Yeah?” the man asked. “Well, I haven’t seen any men around today.” He looked straight at Nyle, a male and only one of dozens who frequented the market, as he spoke.
Nyle guessed that was what humans called digging for incentives. His own kind didn’t much care for the art of blackmail.
Nyle reached into his carefully guarded purse and brought out two uncut copper coins, each enough to buy a small fish. He flashed the coins at the man and leaned forward.
“A tall man with very long black hair and blue eyes,” Nyle said as he pressed one coin to the wood surface of the stall.
The coin vanished into a gut-stained hand. “I seen him two days ago,” the man replied, eyes fixed greedily on the coin Nyle still held. “Not since then.”
Nyle set the second coin on the stall, but kept a finger on it. “Any idea where he could have gone? Or who else I could ask?”
The man tensed and kept his gaze fixed on the second coin as if he knew not to look into Nyle’s gold-colored eyes. Nyle slowly dragged the coin away from the man.
“The red-light district,” the man gasped out as if forced, his eyes stuck on the shiny coin. “You ask round there.”
Nyle released the coin, and the copper flashed in the late-morning sun. The fish man’s eyes remained riveted for another second before he shook himself free of the compulsion. The second coin vanished as quickly as the first, and the man looked up and caught Nyle’s eyes.
A mistake, but Nyle would use the fish man’s ignorance to his advantage.
“That boy ain’t right,” the man slurred, caught in the golden shine that filled the eyes of all Nyle’s kind. “Wild,” he continued, spilling everything he knew to the sheen in Nyle’s eyes, “as if a beast were trying to break free and fly away.”
Nyle blinked and looked away as the man sagged behind his booth. Nyle wasn’t feeling in top form either now. Catching someone with his eyes was more effective than using copper, but it cost him so much more magic. Nyle decided to return home for some rest before heading to the red-light district. Besides, he had heard humans preferred the nighttime for such activities.
Nyle didn’t really understand humans, but he was still young and would learn all there was to know eventually.
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.
Jasper and Ava have made it through every hurdle thrown their way — together. Their relationship is stronger — and hotter — than ever. But now something new and deadly is after Ava. The pair also can’t forget the minor detail that her mother is still missing.
The supernatural world is dangerous, and full of things that go bump in the night. Will they be able to find the monster before the monster finds her?
“I’ve been following Torri’s work from Nyctophilia and with every new piece I become more and more invested. I adore the progression Torri has created between each of her installments in her Darkling Series… I adore her characters even more. [The] romance with Jasper is just absolutely superb. Their dynamic connection and spice is everything.”
If I thought back really far, I could almost remember my mother telling me a story. About creatures who lived in the woods, and monsters that went bump in the night. Bedtime stories created to scare children. Except I was no longer a child, and I knew better now than to think those stories were made up.
None of this mattered anymore. My mother and I had no relationship left, and this was definitely not the time for a casual discussion on children’s stories. I had bigger things to worry about. The forest I was currently sprinting through full tilt was far from imaginary, although the scene could’ve been from a dream. The dense foliage was thick with new growth, lush like a fairy tale. Bright flowers bloomed in the small gaps of sunlight. The only thing missing was the bird song, preferably from a friendly bluebird Instead, the only thing I heard as I ran was the sound of my own heartbeat.
I wanted to stop and catch my breath, but I couldn’t. He’d find me, and that was a whole world of trouble I didn’t even want to contemplate. So I kept running, my heartbeat keeping time with my silent footsteps.
There were perks to being a Venator, and then there were skills I had worked my ass off to learn. The quiet way I could move through the forest was one of those skills I was most proud of, and my talent was paying off tenfold at the moment. My original plan had been to do a wide circle in the woods, coming out at the far end, which hadn’t been working out for me so far. Venator or not, my stamina wasn’t unlimited. What I needed was a distraction, or some way to let me loop back on myself. I eyed the aging trees as I ran deeper. The thick vines desperately making their way skyward were too new to provide any real support, but they might give me some traction if I could find a tree small enough to find good holds. Just ahead of me I found my target. A tree younger than the rest with some low limbs, but not fully covered in the twining green ropes. Perfect.
I jumped, reaching for the first low limb and pulling myself into the tree. I continued to climb until I was high enough in the leaves that I was unable to be seen but could still hear everything going on below me. Unfortunately, this vantage point also left my vision partially obstructed. I would have to rely on a combination of my senses and hope for the best. I pulled myself as small as I could, straining my ears to hear the sounds beneath my hiding place. I needed to wait until he passed by me, and then I could make my way back out of the woods. Easy. I had outmaneuvered wolves loads of times. My breath and my heart kept an odd melody in my head, and I forced myself to slow down. I needed to listen.
I heard the heavy breathing first. I must have pulled up at the perfect time, because he wasn’t far behind me. I could hear sniffing down the trail I had followed. I pulled my feet even closer to my body, willing my heart to be silent. I had come this far. I could make it a little while longer. I kept count of the seconds, tapping my finger on my tight black shirt. One. Two. Three. There was the swish of a tail in the bushes beneath me. I could see the edges of the damp fur but couldn’t make out the whole body. Holding my breath, I waited to see if he would find my hiding spot or would move on. Four. Five. Six. The fur slowly disappeared, and the sniffing faded out further along the trail. I would give him a couple more minutes, just to make sure, and then I would jump down and move. Seven. Eight. Nine. My hiding spot had been a success. There was no more sign of him. Now I only needed to get back in one piece. I took a deep breath and jumped down.
I took a quick look around me, feeling satisfied I hadn’t been found out. I turned on my heel to head back the way I had come, before he noticed I was no longer ahead of him. But before I could move, something snaked out from the left of me and grabbed my wrist. My heart stopped. Shit.
“What gave me away?” My voice sounded a lot braver than I felt. Bravery was a constant work in progress, especially when the supernatural world wasn’t one you were expecting to find yourself living in.
Jasper smirked. “Your scent was all over those vines, Green. You should know better than to climb on the greenery without masking your scent first.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Torri Heat has always loved control. Her mind was blown when she discovered she could control entire worlds through story writing. Throw some steamy romance in there, and it was pretty close to perfection. Torri loves dark heroes who ride off into the sunset on their motorcycles, fierce heroines who can fend for themselves, and a sprinkle of the paranormal to keep things interesting. When she’s not creating alternate realities you can find her managing her three ring circus of kids and animals.
Whiteout by Shelby Morgen: Zan gives John a reason to want to live as a man again. But before he can make that kind of promise, he’s got unfinished business to take care of.
Silence by Lena Austin: Noel Miller, a vampire with a few scars of his own, wants to be more than Cam’s sign language interpreter. If only the werewolf will let him into his life — and heart.
White Heat by Shelby Morgen: Heather Grant’s got far too much experience working with stubborn males. She figures it would serve both Alphas right if their pride blows their cover. But someone’s got to salvage the mission.
“…a collection that grabs the reader, takes them on a journey, and ensures some cold showers. Erotic, captivating, and deliciously carnal are how I would describe The Dire Wolves Anthology. It is definitely worth reading, worth adding to one’s reading library, and well worth re-reading.”— 4 Stars from Nikki, Sensuous Reviews
“This book hooked me from the get go. I just couldn’t put it down. I fell in love with these characters… just a perfect read.” — 5 Stars from Jeanne, Amazon Review
“Danse Macabre” was a lousy choice for a ring tone, but Detective Cameron Douglas always thought about it when he had the least amount of time to change the ring to something else. The tune was the last he’d ever hear. Cam didn’t know that sad fact, or he’d have changed the ring sooner.
Cam snatched the phone out of his pocket and flipped it open as soon as he saw it was his boss, Lt. Kraynak. “Hey, Mark! You caught me just leaving the mayor’s office.”
“Yeah?” Mark’s voice always sounded nervous, but at that moment, he sounded as squeaky as a girl. Cam always wondered if Mark was as closet gay as Cam himself. “How’d it go?”
Cam sighed. The investigation into the death of the mayor’s secretary, Margaret Lund, was supposed to be kept very quiet and low-key. “We got the blood from her apartment at the lab, looking for DNA. They seem to be consistent with the defensive marks found on her body despite floating around in the St. John’s River for a while. I’ve got a few good leads.” He had to be vague. Cam couldn’t exactly tell his boss he was a werewolf and he’d caught an odd, masculine scent in Margaret’s apartment. He knew any sort of masculine odor didn’t belong in that apartment because Margaret and his mother had been lovers for over twenty years. Not exactly what you want the whole world to know. Mom had been in the closet all her life, and he wasn’t about to out her when she was mourning “Aunt Maggie’s” death. Dad would turn over in his grave, the day care she’d run for fifteen years would close, and her life would be in ruins. What she and Maggie had enjoyed just wasn’t ever going to be public, and that wasn’t admissible evidence anyway.
He could see it now. Him, on the witness stand. “Yes, Your Honor. I’m a werewolf you see, and I sniffed this odor…” He winced, even to himself.
“I don’t like it, Cam. You shouldn’t be on this case. Ms. Lund was your mother’s best friend. You could be called prejudiced in court.” Mark popped another gumball in his mouth. Cam heard it rattle against his teeth before it crackled as he chewed it into oblivion. Mark’d been trying to quit smoking again, and kept a gumball bank on his desk.
“I don’t like it, either, Mark. Where His Honor got the idea I’d be the only detective who could do the job is beyond me.” Cam was in sight of his car at last. The covered parking garage across the street from City Hall was a piece of shit like all the rest of downtown. Half the security cameras didn’t work at the best of times, and the roof leaked whenever it rained. So where was he parked? On the roof. In the rain. Of course. So he was wet. It was Florida. Not like he would melt. He was a werewolf, not a witch, and this wasn’t Hollyweird.
The beep in his ear made him jump, and the caller ID told him it was Mom. “Hey, I’m at my car. Hang on a sec.” Cam flipped over to his mother’s call and sat down on a bench about fifty feet from his car, in the shelter covering the elevator. “Hi, Mom.” He frowned and noticed the hood of his car was slightly ajar. That was odd. He distinctly remembered changing the oil the previous Sunday and slamming the hood closed because he hated working in the hot sun.
He never heard her answer. Hell, he never heard anything except the biggest boom on the planet.
Waking up wasn’t like someone flipped on a light switch. It was more like a lazy Sunday morning when you didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything in particular, so you could roll over and laze in bed. That is, until your bladder or some other bodily need woke you up.
What woke him up was pain. Cam had the worst headache ever, even beyond hangovers and mild concussions from playing rugby. Cam felt like he’d been run over by a semi, too, with a backache from lying in one position too long on top of assorted injuries. Worst of all was the ringing in his ears. Tinnitus, he guessed. Not bad, since Cam had to assume he’d survived that explosion. Hell, he counted himself lucky when he opened his eyes and saw his left leg in bandages, not a cast. If a headache, a bum leg, and a case of tinnitus were all he had to suffer through, Cam was happy.
A nurse peeked in. She saw Cam was awake and smiled at him. Her lips moved, but he couldn’t hear her over the ringing in his ears. She frowned when Cam told her she’d have to speak up, and would she bring him something for the headache and tinnitus? She turned around and walked out without another word. She was back with something she shot into his IV. Whatever it was put him out like a light. Pain, tinnitus, and consciousness all went away at once.
When next Cam could put two words together in a coherent sentence, the clock on the wall and the darkness out the window gave him a clue it was 7:30 PM, not AM. He’d slept away the whole day. Great. Now his ears were sore.
A young man in a lab coat read a book in the corner chair, even though the only light source was the fluorescent above the head of Cam’s bed. The guy’s eyesight must have been superlative. He looked up slowly, and Cam was completely arrested — pardon the pun — by his eyes. They were big, blue and so world-weary Cam wanted to — maybe buy the kid a cup of coffee and give him a sympathetic ear. Then the newcomer smiled, and the world was all sunshine and cheer. The young man tapped on the keyboard of his laptop without taking his gaze off Cam’s face.
Cam moved restlessly under that intense blue gaze that did not in the least match with the smile. Cam opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when the screen on a laptop left on his lap table brightened. He frowned and studied the screen. “Can you read this?” Surprised, Cam nodded without thinking.
The blue-eyed man smiled and nodded. “Good. How’s your tinnitus?” lit up on the screen in a standard IM chat feature of a common website.
“Um… should I answer aloud?” Cam felt suddenly adrift in a strange sea, unsure of himself for the first time since college. Still, he did an internal check, and the buzzing still filled his ears like a thousand crickets on speed. “Yep, still have the crickets.” The realization hit him. “The explosion caused this tinnitus, didn’t it?”
“Yes, Mr. Douglas. Please speak more softly.” The IM kept up easily, and the young man’s hands flew silently but rapidly over the tiny keyboard. Damn, this guy was good.
Oops. Cam wasn’t stupid. He knew that those with hearing issues often spoke too loudly, trying to over-compensate for their loss. He modified his volume. “Um. Sorry.” He clung to the thin thread of hope that the tinnitus was causing his hearing loss, but he knew a bunch of cops who’d neglected ear protection at the shooting range once too often. Tinnitus could be permanent, or worse, the symptom of something much, much worse.
The IM lit up with several lines in rapid succession. “My name is Noel Miller, and I am your ENT therapist.” Now the cheer was gone, and the face serious.
Cam’s heart hammered, and he swallowed to help his suddenly dry mouth. Fear, ice-cold and cruel, raced up his spine. Part of him was grateful he still had painkillers in his system. Deep inside himself, a little kid threw a major temper tantrum, even if he held himself rigidly under control. “I’m deaf, aren’t I?”
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Shelby Morgen loves writing offbeat tales that defy as many rules as possible.
She likes chocolate with her peanut butter, suspense with her romance, and kink with her sex, and she’s always had a hard time keeping science fiction, fantasy and paranormal from mixing with her kink.
Shelby shares her belief in electronic publishing with her longtime friend and partner, Bill, her husband of nearly four decades.
Someone cursed Lena Austin with “may you have a life so full you’ll have many tales to tell your grandchildren.” Lena’s a “fallen” society wench with a checkered past. She’s been a licensed minister, hairdresser, Realtor, radio DJ, exotic dancer, telephone service tech, live-steel medievalist swordswoman, BDSM Mistress, and investment property manager. Not necessarily in that order. She never finished that degree in marine archaeology, but did learn to scuba — she’s got a lifetime of “Research material!”
Hey, why waste these stories on kids who won’t listen anyway? Writing them down is a nice way to spend her retirement. What? You expected an ex-BDSM Mistress to take up crocheting or something?
Watching the interpreter’s hands make graceful patterns in the air, Kaito had to admit he wasn’t paying a great deal of attention to the speaker. He didn’t know sign language, not yet, but he was thoroughly captivated by the confident hand movements. The interpreter, another werewolf, was attractive in a way that reminded Kaito of a female wolf from back home.
Akira. But it hurt to even think her name. And it hurt even more that they’d progressed past honorifics and used personal names when they were together. She and her whole family had moved here from Japan when Kaito was fifteen and she was fourteen. It had seemed fated, their eventual mating. And now here he was, far from Louisiana where his alpha, his father, had brought the Issei pack.
He became aware that the director’s speech was coming to an end. “… please find your department head.”
All the students in the auditorium rose as one and began filing down to where the professors stood.
Kaito went down to the table assigned to trackers, chastising himself for daydreaming when he needed to pay attention. But halfway there, he was intercepted by a human woman and the interpreter. She signed as she talked. “Are you Kaito?”
He reminded himself that non-Japanese people might not know about the proper way to address someone, by their last name. He nodded slightly and held out his hand.
She shook with him.
So did the interpreter, although he said nothing.
Before Kaito could wonder about that, the woman said, “I’m Lauren Ashbury and this is Stefan Weber.” She pronounced the “w” like a “v” and by that, Kaito assumed the other werewolf was German, or perhaps German American, as he himself was Japanese American.
Ms. Ashbury continued, “Stefan is almost totally deaf.” She kept signing as she talked. “You asked to be placed in the immersion program for sign language. Stefan will assist you with that.”
Kaito wanted to ask how he could learn anything when his instructor couldn’t talk. But that seemed rude, so he simply nodded and smiled. “Thank you,” he said to Stefan, making the one gesture in sign that he knew, which was the right hand touching the mouth and moving outward, palm up. He thought it meant “thank you” or that was what he had picked up from a television show.
Stefan signed something back and Ms. Ashbury said, “He says you’re welcome.”
Stefan went on signing and Ms. Ashbury nodded. Again signing as she spoke, she asked Kaito, “Do you have a cell phone?”
“Yes, ma’am.” It had been an accepted-to-the-academy present from his parents. His father had said he could use it like a computer to study but that he shouldn’t become distracted by social media because that would jeopardize his career. Kaito assumed the older werewolf meant he’d get distracted by all the myriad conversations on the Internet.
Stefan handed him a sheet of paper. On it was a schedule. They would meet every day at eight-thirty, before Kaito’s other classes, which started at ten. Then he saw they were to meet on the weekends too. He didn’t know what to say to that, but perhaps, because it was immersion…
Stefan tapped the top of the paper and Kaito looked where his finger had been. In a very neat hand was written: <em>Here is my cell phone number. Please text me tonight after you are settled. We don’t need to meet until Monday</em>.
Kaito considered this and nodded. Glancing at Ms. Ashbury, he asked, “Can you sign for me?”
“Stefan is pretty good at reading lips.”
Kaito detected a slight frost in her voice and felt himself flush with embarrassment. “I meant no disrespect,” he said to Stefan. “I simply wanted to say thank you for taking me on as a student.” His attention was caught briefly by a flash of pink and he noted that Stefan had an earring, a pink triangle. The symbol tugged at some association from his Human History classes in his pack, but he couldn’t remember just now. He wondered how a werewolf could keep an earring in. Wouldn’t their natural healing process make such a thing impossible?
Stefan smiled and signed again.
“He says you’re welcome.”
Stefan waved and Kaito understood it was a goodbye signal. He waved back.
Stefan and Ms. Ashbury turned away, almost in lock step. The ease of their body language told Kaito they were very familiar with each other.
He wondered for a moment how they had known his name.
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.
Devid Khandelwal desperately wants to experience the supernatural. After years of studying everything from crystals to tarot to spellcasting, nothing has happened that would tell him the Shadow Realm is real. And that kills Dev. As a last-ditch resort, he purchases a summoning board, an occult tool that will grant him his ultimate desires.
Cameron Habersham is Dev’s best friend. Cam loves Dev like a brother and will do anything for him, as long as he looks good doing it. So when Dev asks him to perform the summoning board’s ritual, he reluctantly agrees, but he knows nothing will come of it. Nothing ever does.
However, within a day, Dev and Cam’s lives are turned upside down as wishes begin to come true. They discover the existence of a supernatural world beyond their imagination, but peace between the species is tenuous at best.
Dev finally gets to see the Shadow Realm, meets the man of his dreams, and is inducted into the local male coven. But for all the desires that were summoned into existence, Dev soon realizes the magical community dances the line between good and evil, and Cam ends up on the wrong side of everything.
The old adage is true: Be careful what you wish for.
“It’s how much?” Cam scoffed, glaring at Damien behind the counter.
“$299.99, plus tax.” Damien’s tongue piercing got in the way of the ‘s’, and the word came out more like ‘pluth’.
“Ignore him, Damien. New piercing? I like it.” Dev tried to ameliorate his best friend’s rude comment, then turned to scowl at Cam. “Honestly, why did I ask you to come?”
“Because you love me.” Cam tapped a finger on the box Dev clutched in his hands. “Dev, your parents are going to kill you if you spend that much money.” Cam cocked an eyebrow at Dev. “And seriously, man, how are you going to pay for…whatever that thing is?”
“With this.” Dev pulled out his wallet and flipped the black leather cover open to extract a brand new, slick, and shiny, never-been-used MasterCard.
“And where the hell did you get that?”
“Special offer for impending university graduates.” Dev sneered. If all went well, he’d be graduating in the next couple of weeks. Cam, however, had dropped out the previous year to figure himself out as a rebellion against his parents’ divorce. His mother had fiercely argued against the idea for two months until she gave up and agreed to Cam taking the year off.
“Oh dude. Just say no.” Cam had never been supportive of Dev’s interest in the occult, but this was going to be the last purchase.
Unless this purchase worked. And Dev knew it would.
It had to.
Dev placed all his hopes and dreams on the fact that this was going to work.
Dev couldn’t wait to open up his latest acquisition.
When he and Cam had arrived at Dev’s house, all he wanted to do was rush up the stairs to hide out in his bedroom, tucked away from any distractions or family drama, intent on inspecting his newest possession. Well, any distraction other than Cam, who had accompanied him home.
Instead, as Dev started up the stairs, looking back over his shoulder to ensure Cam was following, he careened into his sister Amna.
“Ugh, you oaf!” Amna shoved him backward, pushing him into Cam. “Oh! Whatchya got in the bag? It looks like it’s from that witchy store you like!” Amna slid a finger into the bag to pull it towards her to inspect. Dev pulled his prized possession towards him.
“Cam, come on, let’s go.” Dev snarled at Amna.
Cam, however, wasn’t keeping up. He’d wandered into the kitchen. Cam was playing nice.
“Hi, Mrs. Khandelwal.” Dev’s mom loved to cook and proudly fed her family traditional meals. Tonight’s fare, from the smell of things, was Rogan Josh. Dev hated curry with a passion. He wasn’t fond of lamb either and the two together were wretched. He decided going out for fast food was a better alternative.
“Cam,” Dev ground up his face with displeasure, “let’s go.”
Cam shot daggers back at Dev. He shook his head, rolling his eyes as he returned his attention to Dev’s mom. “Nice sari!” Cam smiled. “Later, Mrs. Khandelwal.”
Upon entering Dev’s room, Cam flopped onto the bed and began examining his too-long fingernails, preening them while lying on his back. Cam’s shoulder-length sandy-brown hair, which had a slight wave to it and a multitude of natural blonde and auburn highlights, splayed out behind his head, making his pose look model-esque. His three-days’ worth of stubble added to that. Dev would never have used the description of “male model” in front of his lifelong pal. The last thing Dev wanted was to feed Cam’s ego. Cam’s head filled most spaces he inhabited.
“Get your damn boots off my bed.” Dev slapped Cam’s feet.
“Oh my god. Yes, Mom.” Cam toed off the designer rainbow-snakeskin boots. The thud, thud ricocheted in the tiny bedroom.
“What are those things made of? Lead?” Dev quipped in response to their noisy removal.
“That’s the sound of a quality product, bitch.” Cam gave Dev the side-eye. Dev caught the glance. They glared at each other for all of a second, then burst into laughter.
He continued to stare at Cam, who returned to plucking away at some unseen dirt beneath a thumbnail. He had to admit, Cam was too handsome for his own good. They had known each other since grade school and had been, for the most part, inseparable. Dev had stood by idly as Cam used his good looks to get what he wanted. Not that Dev would describe himself as ugly. Far from it. But between the two, Cam always got the good-looking guys first, and that encouraged Cam to parade around, flaunting his beauty.
Dev had invited Cam to tag along on his afternoon shopping excursion. The out-of-the-way pagan store, Magix & Mystix, held all sorts of goodies, most of which Dev couldn’t afford, hence the credit card, but he’d had his eye on this particular object for the last couple of months and had squirrelled money away like a miser in order to afford it. All that saving, though, still hadn’t amounted to the amount of cash required.
But his luck had changed when a kiosk from a local bank had opened in the Student’s Lounge at the University. The handsome, bicep-bulging booth occupant, wearing a shirt obviously a size too small, promised an enticing introductory percentage rate on the credit card, stating the bank offered the cheapest one in the city. And with this purchase from Magix & Mystix in mind and the desperation to get his hands on it, Dev signed the credit card contract in a heartbeat.
All the way downtown, and during their short walk to the store, Cam had proclaimed he was being led through the seediest parts of Edmonton’s dark alleyways on their way to make the purchase and complained often about how they were going to be robbed, stabbed, or murdered in some grisly fashion.
None of that had happened.
But Dev had finally got his paws on the summoning board, and as he pulled the rectangular box out of the store’s signature black paper bag, his stomach tensed with excitement. The coveted item had a silver pentacle stamped in the center with one word superimposed over top.
J.P. Jackson is an award-winning author of dark urban fantasy, paranormal, and even paranormal romance stories, but regardless of the genre, they always feature LGBTQ main characters.
J.P. works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.
At night, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shapeshifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. His husband of 22 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summonings and regularly lines the doorway with iron shavings and salt crystals. Imps are most definitely not house-trainable. Ghosts appear at the most inopportune times, and the Fae are known for regular visits where a glass of wine is exchanged for a good ole story or two. Although the husband doesn’t know it, Canela and Jalisco, the two Chihuahuas, are in cahoots with the spell casting.
J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive traveling and believe it or not, knitting.
While Ryker’s body came back from Afghanistan just fine, his mind didn’t, and his thoughts wander back there in painful flashbacks that have present-time consequences. In order to avoid hurting anyone, Ryker secludes himself in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Then Officer Chess Medcull shows up with a case of were-animals being tortured and killed in a way similar to how Ryker almost died in the war. In order to stop the murders, Ryker must face the demons in his head, and maybe, just maybe, allow Chess to help. That is, as long as neither is the next victim.
Ryker’s back wasn’t burning any longer, which brought both relief and terror. He healed quickly, even for a werewolf, and the stinging, sharp pain of the blood and bruising of the whip were definitely something he wanted to end as fast as possible. Except, his captors had some sort of sixth sense for when he had healed enough for the pain to fade, and that was when they returned.
He wasn’t healing as quickly now as in those first few days. His body was emaciated from what must have been a month or two of very little food and almost constant abuse. Ryker’s clothing was completely shredded, the desert camo print more rags than anything resembling his Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform. The jacket had been taken on day one by his captors, and his white undershirt hadn’t survived the first whipping. The pants had gotten bloodstained immediately, but the shredding hadn’t started until they decided to find out what happened to his healing ability if they stabbed him a couple of times. Those initial rips had spread until only the barest strips of fabric covered his long legs.
And then there was his right wrist. The inch-thick silver band was tight around his wrist and held in place by a heavy padlock that none of his attempts had broken. Werewolf strength would have broken an ordinary lock, but this massive one combined with the immediate effects of silver poisoning kept him trapped. The skin around Ryker’s wrist had bubbled and blistered underneath the touch of silver. His head ached constantly as the silver slowly poisoned his blood, and every time he bled a little more under the hands of his captors, the silver’s fangs dug a little deeper.
A rasping sound came from outside the narrow door that was the only way to get in and out of the small, dirty room. Ryker managed to suppress a whimper of fear, certain that any moment the lock would scrape and his grinning captors would stalk in with some new torture planned.
Except, he suddenly heard yelling, and that was definitely the booming pop of gunfire. He didn’t dare get up to see; this could easily be some new form of torture they had thought up to torment him. The dragging scrape of the lock sounded a moment later, and Ryker was glad he had remained huddled in his corner where they would have to drag him out into the open to get a good chance at him. But it wasn’t one of his captors.
The clean-shaven face and bright eyes were foreign to Afghanistan, and the white smile spoke of access to decent healthcare. That, plus the uniform, told Ryker he was saved.
“Hey,” the soldier said cheerily.
Ryker blinked, and suddenly he was standing in bright afternoon sunlight, a man wearing a business suit running toward him. The musty, sewage smell of his dark cell faded, replaced with car exhaust and a floral-scented summer breeze.
“Let him go, man!” said the suited man.
Ryker blinked again, and his eyes followed the length of his left arm, down to the wrist and the fingers he had clamped around the throat of a stranger.
The stranger was choking and spluttering, his fingers scrabbling at Ryker’s sleeve and his dark-brown eyes bugging out as his face turned purple. Ryker immediately let go, stepping back from the stranger. This time he knew what had set him off. The stranger had been walking behind him, and his shoe had scraped on the concrete. A sound so similar to that damned cell lock opening and suddenly Ryker was gone.
He couldn’t keep doing this. Ryker looked at the man crumpled on the ground, gasping for air, and knew he had to find another answer. Any time he went out into a crowd, even one as small as the sidewalk in front of the grocery store, was one too many for him.
The stranger wasn’t injured, just scared, so Ryker bent to pick up the plastic bag of groceries he had dropped.
“Sorry,” he said softly before hurrying off. If he made it back to his apartment without having another episode, he would reevaluate his circumstances. He needed to find somewhere he wouldn’t be a threat to anyone else around him, and that meant leaving the city.
Lots of action, suspense, and drama packed into this novella…
Alpha wolf, Ryker, came back from war damaged. He avoids people, and the pack, to ensure he won’t accidentally hurt anyone. But Chess, the Wolf who had a crush on him in high school, isn’t ready to give up on him.
Overall, the novella was good. I gave it 3.5 stars because of Ryker’s character. He’s well-written and believable. However, the story is a bit light when it comes to Chess’ character and the relationship between him and Ryker. Even though it’s a novella length story, I think even adding another 1000-2000 words would have been sufficient to thread in enough extra bits to build the relationship between the main characters. The book description pretty much lays out the entire story for you except the ending.
If you’re looking for a quick read that’s high on action with a bit of romance, give Wounded Alpha a try.
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Meet the Author
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.
New school means a new, normal, human life. Or, at least, that’s the plan.
After being hunted by a crazed werewolf, Halie’s paranormal parents have promised her a normal senior year full of all the normal, human high school experiences Halie’s always dreamed of.
At her new school, everything is looking up for Halie. She’s dating the quarterback, her best friend is head of the cheer squad, and no one looks at Halie like she’s a freak. She has everything she ever wanted, so why isn’t she happy?
When a new boy appears in school, Halie takes one look at him and knows he’s trouble. He’s tall, dark, and a vampire. Which means Halie’s not interested. So why do their paths keep crossing? And why does he make her feel flutters when the human boyfriend she thought she wanted just isn’t living up to her expectations?
With Homecoming and a full moon drawing near, can Halie keep her tenuous hold on normal? And does she even want to?
A fantastic YA fantasy story! It’s a quick read, but the pages are filled with teen drama, romance, and humor. It kept me entertained from page one, and I was sorry to see it end. I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment in the series. This was my first time reading anything by Ms. Black, and while this is book 2 in the series, I didn’t feel lost at all.
Halie is a strong-willed young woman. Although she wants to experience all a “normal” high school life could offer, she permits herself to be emotionally and verbally abused by her so-called boyfriend and best friend. She’s so desperate to fit in with humans, she didn’t stop to think that maybe the magical community aren’t the real monsters and humans aren’t as fabulous as she thinks. Her inability to see the truth puts her in harm’s way, even though there are a dashing werewolf and vampire eager to keep her safe.
The story does end on a cliffhanger, but that’s typical of this particular genre.
Overall, a thrilling read that left me wanting more…
*Disclaimer: The review above is only my opinion. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.