Blurb: Wolf shifter Gethin Lloyd still bears the scars from the mental and physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his old pack beta Robert Wilkes. Now that his abuser is dead, Gethin hopes to finally be free of the torment that lives on inside his mind, but the nightmares continue to grow stronger. When he meets his mate, the pull to be with him is difficult to resist, but he doesn’t want the sweet human man tainted by the filth that covers his skin.
Dewi Powell is haunted by memories of his first and only love, Toby ― a wolf shifter who walked out on him three months ago without as much as a goodbye. Still heartbroken, the last thing he wants or needs is to be thrust into another serious relationship, especially with another shifter, but when he meets Gethin and learns of their bond, his desire for the wolf overrides common sense. However, Gethin is a scarred and broken man and if they are to have a future together, Dewi must help his mate not only to live in the present, but to stop reliving the horrors of the past.
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Part of my inspiration for Smoky Mountain Dreams struck during the Christmas season about four years ago when I was at Dollywood with my daughter and niece. To say that the theme park of Smoky Mountain Dreams is liberally inspired by Dollywood would definitely be accurate.
Everything about Dollywood was inspiring to me, from the setting to the costumes the employees wore. I also know enough about the area, being from East Tennessee, to have a deep appreciation for what Dollywood has brought to our section of Appalachia. The opportunities that have been afforded to the people in what was once one of the absolute poorest areas of the mountains due to the jobs created at the theme park and the revenue that brought in are life-changing in sweeping ways.
But another aspect of Dollywood that inspired SMD, and a crucial one for the character of failed country music singer Christopher, are the massive numbers of shows and performances at the park. There are musical plays, sidewalk spectacles, and any number of opportunities for actors and musicians. Country music is the heart of Dollywood and I wanted it to be similar for Smoky Mountain Dreams in the book.
In the end, Smoky Mountain Dreams Theme Park didn’t turn out to be as much of a character in the book as I’d anticipated, but I do love the parts that stayed in the novel. It’s inspiration, Dollywood, is a ton of fun and everyone who likes amusement parks would truly enjoy it. It’s a cool experience.
Sometimes holding on means letting go.
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage, he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart.
As Christopher approached the forge, he couldn’t ignore the tumbling sensation in his stomach. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it wasn’t great either. It reminded him of the one and only time he’d ridden the Firebender coaster over in Starlight City.
The whirling-rushing feeling only intensified when he stepped under the eaves and Jesse broke into a wide smile at the sight of him and called out, “Christopher! Hey, come over here. It’s good to see you!”
As soon as Christopher was close enough, Jesse slapped his shoulder in a friendly gesture.
“Good to see you too,” Christopher murmured, smiling with strangely quavering lips. From the corner of his eye he could see Gareth hard at work by the forge’s flames, banging on red-hot iron as tourists watched avidly.
He was embarrassed when Jesse reached to shake hands and Christopher saw that his own were trembling. What was his problem? He’d been a lot cooler than this the other night when they’d hooked up. He needed to get it together. Jesse’s in-laws looked at him with polite smiles and vague interest.
Jesse turned to them. “Nova and Tim, this is my friend Christopher. He’s a singer here at Smoky Mountain Dreams. Chris, this is Nova and Tim, my in-laws.”
“It’s lovely to meet you, Christopher!” Nova shook Christopher’s hand and looked him over in friendly appraisal. “You perform here? For how long now?”
“Been here three years now, ma’am.”
“Just Nova, please.” She smiled. “You do look familiar. Surely we’ve seen you—we see all the shows.”
“Season passes,” the man Jesse had called Tim volunteered, vigorously pumping Christopher’s hand in both of his and smiling warmly. “Jesse gets them for us. We love the holiday programs especially. It’s just not Christmastime until we’ve come to the winter shows at Smoky Mountain Dreams.”
“We all saw him in a show together last Christmas,” Jesse said. “He was singing the lead parts.”
“That’s right!” Nova’s eyes suddenly glinted with mischief. “Oh, Jesse was quite taken with your voice. Remember Tim? He kept looking up his name on the program.”
There was a flash of embarrassment on Jesse’s face, but then he smiled widely. “See? I told you, Chris. I’m a big fan.” He turned to Nova and Tim and went on, “It wasn’t just me. You guys thought he was great too.”
“He’s certainly charismatic up there,” Nova said.
“Held his own for sure.”
“And he’s got a great voice.” Jesse smiled warmly at him.
Christopher felt heat prickle his neck and ears. “Jesse seems to be my number one fan. It’s flattering and makes me wish my Gran was here to hear him. It’d make her proud.”
“I bet she’s proud anyway,” Nova said, glancing between them. Her lips curved slightly at the edges knowingly, and Christopher felt his palms go a little sweaty. Were they that obvious? Did she know they’d had sex? A lot of sex? Shit.
“I hope so.”
“Brigid, Will,” Jesse said to get their attention. “This is my friend, Mr. Ryder.” His eyes lit up with pride as he put his hands on his daughter’s shoulders and nodded at his son. “Chris, these are my kids, Will and Brigid.”
Will didn’t tear his eyes from Gareth’s movements by the fire, and he just lifted his hand and let it fall with a cheerful, “Hi, sir, nice to meet you!”
“Call me Christopher,” he said in his best cool-uncle voice he’d used with his sister’s new step-kids. It’d seemed to work okay on them until Bob had made it clear Christopher was a terrible sinner and best to be avoided. Though Lee, the oldest of the three, fifteen and obviously rebelling, had seemed to think Christopher was even cooler after that. Christopher had reveled in it. But he sure hoped the kid didn’t turn out to be gay, because he’d probably be accused of recruiting him.
“It’s nice to meet you both,” Christopher added with a wide smile.
Brigid turned with tight precision from where she’d also been gazing intently at Gareth striking the metal, and stared right up at Christopher with a suspicious, tight expression. She said nothing at all.
Christopher cleared his throat and smiled down at her. “Have you been having fun today?” One of her eyebrows arched up, reminding him of Holly’s knowing look at the hat stand.
She said in a strange, distant way, “Yes. Have you?”
Christopher squatted to be closer to her height, but she was taller than he realized, and she towered over him haughtily. “It’s been a good day, sure. I work here, though, so I haven’t been having fun really. How about you? Did you go on any rides yet?”
Brigid shrugged. “The Ferris wheel. All the good rides are closed until spring, though.”
“The Firebender’s open.”
“No one will ride it with me.”
“Oh?” He looked up at Jesse. “Scared?”
“Dad pukes on rides like that.” She rolled her eyes. “He just comes here for the shows. I hate the shows.”
“Brigid,” Jesse started, but Christopher interrupted him.
“What rides do you like best?”
“The water ones. So coming here in fall and winter is just cold and boring.”
“It’s not boring,” Will said calmly, not tearing his eyes from Gareth’s work. “Dad likes to watch that man sing, you know the one.”
“Will, pay attention. This is the man,” Brigid said, her cold eyes raking over Christopher in a way that made his palms sweat.
Will ignored her. “Besides, you’re wrong. The music is good. It makes me want to dance.” He turned from Gareth and with twinkling eyes demonstrated some over-the-top square-dance moves clearly designed to mortify his sister.
“You’re so…ugh.” Brigid crossed her arms over her chest.
Christopher glanced up to see firelight shining on Gareth’s sweating forearms and handsome, bearded face. He seemed oblivious to Christopher’s presence, absorbed in his work of heating and hammering. Definitely a pleasant change from the glaring and snide remarks. At least the man had some discretion.
“The shows are boring,” Brigid insisted.
“No, they’re not,” Will said, cheerfully, stopping his silly dance and smiling up at Christopher. “You’re a good singer, Christopher.”
Brigid made a soft sound that sounded like a snort, but Jesse’s hand came down on her shoulder, and she looked up at him and sighed before frowning and glaring at the fire in the forge again.
“I like the shows. And at Christmas I like the lights, and the trees, and I always like that awesome gingerbread.”
“You like the baby parades too,” Brigid murmured. Jesse’s hand squeezed her shoulder but she didn’t flinch.
“They aren’t baby.”
“Yes they are. And the baby jugglers.”
“Juggling babies takes real skill, Brigid,” Jesse said.
“Oh, you know what I like best? The man who carves the big wooden eagles with a chainsaw,” Will said.
“Harry Jones,” Christopher offered up the name, but Will was already on to another thought.
“Oh! And the real eagles! At the sanctuary. Granddad’s eagles. They’re cool.”
Brigid shrugged again like she wasn’t necessarily impressed with any of those things.
Christopher tried a different tack with her. “I like your jacket, Brigid. Purple is my favorite color.”
Her eyes narrowed even more. “I like yellow.”
“Brigid, the right response is, ‘thank you,’” Jesse said, running his hand over her dark hair and sighing.
She turned to Nova, moving away from her father’s touch, and wrapped her arms around her grandmother. Then, almost contradicting her earlier statements, she said, “Grandma, can we go see the eagles soon, please? They’re my favorite. I want to see if February’s leg is better yet.”
Nova slid her fingers through her granddaughter’s hair, bent down, and whispered something to her. Brigid sighed and held on to her grandmother tighter, resignation and frustration warring in her eyes. Then just as suddenly Brigid let go, reached into her pocket and took out the damaged paper crane again, smoothing it with intense concentration.
As Christopher rose from his crouch and wiped his sweaty palms on his pants, he met Gareth’s gaze over the short, open wall of the forge. He swallowed quickly at the hostile, appraising interest he saw there, and turned back to Jesse and Tim. “So, what brings you all to Smoky Mountain Dreams today?” he asked, though he already knew.
“Nova’s celebrating her sixty-fifth,” Jesse said. “Tim thought a family day here at the park would make a nice gift.”
“And cheap too,” Tim said. “We’ve got season passes, which just means paying for snacks and dinner. Though, don’t get me wrong, the prices on those aren’t anything to sneeze at. Melissa Mundy must make a pretty penny on those overpriced hot dogs and bags of popcorn.”
Nova smiled fondly at him and said, “Sweetheart, please don’t embarrass Jesse.”
“Oh no, it’s fine. I understand,” Christopher said. “If I didn’t get free meals, I wouldn’t be able to afford to eat here either.”
He only felt a little uncomfortable acknowledging that the prices were high in the theme park. He knew Melissa Mundy did make a nice profit from Smoky Mountain Dreams, but she also paid all of her employees a living wage, gave them great insurance benefits, and used a large percentage of SMD profits to expand the operation—creating new jobs for an area that was without question poor and in need of opportunities. He was getting ready to say something in Melissa’s defense when Jesse did it for him.
“What this place has done for the community is worth it. If the hot dogs cost four-fifty each, it’s money well spent, and the tourists don’t seem to give a damn.”
“You said ‘damn,’ Dad,” Will said gleefully, turning away from Gareth finally.
Christopher glanced Gareth’s way and saw that the most interesting part of smithing was over, and now he was cleaning up his work. Was he listening in on the conversation? Christopher couldn’t tell, but there was a stiffness to his body that implied he was.
“I’m allowed to say it, Will.”
“Because I’m not nine and no teacher will make me sit out of recess for saying it around the other kids.”
Will laughed. “It’s gonna be cool to be a grown up. I’m gonna say damn and other stuff all the time. I can’t wait.”
Jesse rubbed his hand over Will’s shoulder and hugged him up against his hip. “Yeah? Well, I can wait. You and Brigid can just take your time. No rush, kiddo.”
“What are you going to be when you grow up?” Christopher asked Will.
“A baseball player.”
“You can’t be a baseball player,” Brigid said, her voice dripping with disdain. She slid the paper crane back into her coat pocket. “We’ve covered this, Will.”
Will shrugged. “Why not?”
“Because you’re just not that good,” Brigid said, tossing her chin and crossing her arms over her chest.
“I’m good enough.”
Brigid slapped a hand over her face and turned away from them. “Forget it. I want to see the eagles.”
Will ran out from under the eaves, whooping in a loud voice, and called out, “Maybe I’ll be an eagle trainer instead, B! I’ll be the best eagle trainer ever!”
“Yeah, B,” Jesse said. “The best eagle trainer ever.”
Brigid turned to Jesse and said, quietly, “Don’t encourage him, Dad. He’s embarrassing.” Then she followed her brother with extreme dignity and a huge dollop of sisterly irritation.
“She reminds me of Jackie,” Christopher said. At Jesse’s quizzical expression, he added, “My sister. She’s older than me and thought every idea I had would break the stupid-meter.”
“She ever grow out of that?” Jesse asked a little desperately.
“Nope. She still thinks I’m a dumbass.”
Nova and Tim started after the kids, hurrying before they disappeared into the crowd. Jesse called, “I’ll catch up, guys.”
Nova looked at Christopher and then back at Jesse, nodded, and then hustled after the children. Tim called, “Nice to meet you, Christopher! Come share a meal sometime. Any friend of Jesse’s is a friend of ours.”
Jesse smiled at that and slung his arm over Christopher’s shoulder as his family disappeared into the passing crowd. “Well, that wasn’t bad, was it?”
“I think.” Jesse shook him gently.
Christopher’s stomach took another thrilling tumble as his heart swooped down the highest drop of the Firebender. “Cool.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leta’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively, but her passion has always been for writing. She most enjoys crafting the romance stories that she would most like to read. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.
You can find out more about her by following her online:
On the web: http://letablake.wordpress.com/
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/letablake
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/LetaBlake
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Leta-Blake/e/B008R3NH4S/
Other Books by Leta Blake
Tempting Tales with Keira Andrews
Leave a comment by 12/05//14 at 11:59 PM for a random chance to win a copy!
Some people live in cities. Some people live in the countryside. Some people live in flats, some people live on boats. Somewhere hot, somewhere chilly, somewhere rainy, somewhere humid. In isolation, with family, with friends, with strangers.
I live in a place of myth and legend.
No, seriously, I do. If a tourist asked a local what they loved about their hometown, no doubt they could wax poetic about their favourite spots and stories. If two locals are chatting about their hometown, they might say it’s too quiet. Too busy, too loud, too rough, too boring. Mostly, it will be negative.
I can look around and see what’s on the surface. The dog-poop strewn paths, overgrown hedges, cracked and flaking house paint, aggressive chip-stealing seagulls, angry, rude people stuck in their own private ruts. It’s easy to be negative and it can be damn well hard to find the positive. And where I live, if you scratch the surface you can find a wealth of beauty.
Really, when I tell you about my hometown, it’s no wonder at all I’m a writer. It’s like we’re drawn here.
Being Scottish, at school we obviously studied Scottish writers. The one who stands out the most in my mind is Robert Burns. He died in my hometown, and the signs of him are everywhere. The cemetery where his mausoleum stands proud and tall, his home, now a museum, his local pub and drinking nook where he is said to have written a lot of his poems. And, apparently, there is a verse scratched into a window pane somewhere in the town but no one has found it yet.
I grew up with Burns. I love his poetry and I seriously get chills when I’m watching a movie and it’s New Year’s Eve and everyone sings Auld Lang Syne. Proper proud, like. Proper proud. I love that he is still alive, and always will be.
J.M. Barrie lived here for a while. He attended a local academy and it is thought that the stories he told the children of a local family are the inspiration for Peter Pan. Again, he is everywhere. Work to restore Moat Brae, the house where the children lived, is right next door to his old school.
Two local men were onboard the Titanic. Jock Law Hume played in the band as the ship went down and Thomas Mullins was a steward. A memorial obelisk in a local park stands where hundreds of people pass every day, potentially never realising two local heroes are remembered there. I realise this has nothing to do with writing, but rich history nonetheless.
Further up the road (a great bit, really) lived a man named Sawney Bean whose family lived in a cave and liked to eat people. Take a walk up an extremely high hill and see the monument honouring the men from the area who fell in the Great War. Castles, museums, a wealth of history right there at your fingertips. And that isn’t including places a short journey away.
Edinburgh holds my heart and it is truly my favourite location on earth. Ancient and magnificent, it could take a dozen lifetimes to learn its secrets. Glasgow, the Outer Hebrides, Gretna Green…I truly live in a place of myth and legend. My blood bleeds blue and I am Scotland to the day I die.
Scratch the surface of your hometown and surrounding area. You might be surprised at what you find.
Invisible. A ghost. No one sees her. No one knows her. Until him.
For the last seven years, Jo Carpenter has been a ghost in her own life. No friends. No permanent address. No long-term job. And that is exactly the way she wants it… Until a typing error lands her on Nate Harding’s doorstep in the city of Edinburgh, answering his ad for a roommate.
Nate and his luxury house are a different world for Jo. Tall, rugged and with a voice that seems hardwired to Jo’s sex drive, Nate is a distraction Jo can’t afford, but neither seems able to fight the growing tension between them. Nate’s touch brings Jo back to life and every encounter leaves her craving more. As they grow closer and intimacy creeps its way around them, Nate knows there are things Jo isn’t telling him. What he doesn’t realize is the less he knows about Jo and her past, the safer he is.
For years Jo has been careful—hasn’t let her guard down, got too comfortable or let anyone get close enough to see the person beneath her protective armor. Soon it isn’t just Nate that Jo has fallen for—it’s his whole family, from his adorable niece to his eccentric sister, Suze, who quickly becomes the best friend Jo has ever had. Against her better judgment, Jo let’s herself believe she can have a normal life. In Nate’s arms she forgets the things that haunt her, and the reasons she should leave that innocent family become all the reasons she can’t.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of physical abuse and a reference to enforced undressing.
About Pamela L. Todd:
Pamela has adored books since she can remember. There was no greater pleasure than discovering a new world to venture into, a new character to fall in love with…until she created her own and realised there was something even more magical.
When she isn’t locked away at her computer, or scribbling in a notebook, Pamela can be found as her alter ego—namely wife to Matthew and mother to Todd. They also share their home with a schizophrenic cat and two greedy goldfish.
Enter Totally Bound’s competition for the chance to win Now You See Me and three What’s her Secret? Titles.
Dishing about the perfect holiday…
The Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving? I’d settle for a quiet one.
For some folks, this is going to sound odd, but my ideal Thanksgiving would be one at home. Here. In my house. I’d have pies made the day before, pumpkin, apple, maybe another one just to be sure. Cranberry relish waiting in the fridge. Pineapple stuffing and sausage stuffing all ready to go – just need that last heating up.
No one would get underfoot unless I needed them. I’d actually be allowed to cook without critique, nitpicking, or interference. Turkey’s in the oven. Linens are ironed. Table’s set with the good china that hasn’t come out in years and the nice wine glasses and flatware. Everything sparkles. The house is quiet. Guests arrive shortly before dinner, bringing wine that’s not in a box. We have just enough guests to fill the table with both extension leaves in, no more. There’s no rushing, no fidgeting, no hissed arguments about what to do when or how to do it. We sit down to a lovely dinner and everyone’s happy and laughing. Content.
Yeah. About that.
The reality? We’re the kids who didn’t move away. That means two sets of parents in the area and various sibling groups flitting in an out of holidays every year. It’s never stable. It’s often overcrowded. Sometimes it involves a long drive and an overnight stay. And it’s never at my house.
The negotiations begin early concerning where Thanksgiving dinner will be, though it’s often not decided well into November. This year—venue is still up in the air. We’ll end up at one house or another where it alternates between someone who says they don’t want help and needs it (one has to actually step in and do things instead of ask) and someone who needs the troops and resources marshaled swiftly and forcefully if we want to eat before eight. Or nine. Whatever.
By the time dinner is almost ready, everything is typically frantic, too many people in the kitchen, too many people running back and forth. Even herding people to the table, and then getting the kids to sit down, can be a chore. When we finally sit down, and I’m frazzled and tired and annoyed at everyone, someone promptly spills something. It’s inevitable. At least it’s not on my good tablecloth. Certain things have been sitting too long and are now cold. Other things have been forgotten and someone has to jump up and retrieve them. Certain relatives have no concept of how to pass food around a table.
Don’t get me wrong. Both sides of the family make tasty food, so long as no one’s trying some new fad thing. Please don’t talk to me about brined turkey. It’s the organization issues that make it tough. Now we’re sitting. Everyone has wine and, one hopes, finally all the food on offer. There tends to be a lull here—small talk, compliments on dishes, munching and the soft clatter of utensils. Nice. By the time most people are halfway done their plates, the second round of wine is poured. Here’s where the conversation grows less innocuous. I love my family. But there are too may of them who like to argue. About what? Politics, economics, education, swine flu – you name it. They can turn it into an argument. It’s not that they even disagree on the main points, generally. The argument itself is the key. Now I’m starting to plan my escape since I can’t sit through this. As soon as is polite, I start cleaning up. We all want to get to dessert, right?
Hoping this year will be relatively free of stress and strife. It might not be a Rockwell painting, but it’s my family. They might make me crazy, but I still wouldn’t trade them for all the turkey leftovers in the world.
Christmas means different things to everyone, but most often it’s all about pulling loved ones close and brightening the gloom. The fire’s crackling. The snow is piling up outside, even if it’s only in your dreams. Time to snuggle up with some cocoa and some stories carefully crafted by the Mischief Corner Crew to warm hearts and cockles.
Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2 – Toni Griffin
Michael’s trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he’s drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He’s Michael’s mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.
A Christmas Cactus for the General – Angel Martinez
Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.
Holly Jolly – Silvia Violet
I’m not gay. I just notice men sometimes. Everybody does, right? I notice Dane a lot, like every time I’m near him, but just because I think he’s an attractive man that doesn’t mean I like him, does it?
I’m also not a fan of Christmas. Too many years “celebrating” with my Bible-thumping family ruined the holiday for me. So what if I envy all these cheerful souls dashing about with smiles on their faces? I don’t have to like Christmas, do I? If anyone could get me in the Christmas spirit, it would be Dane with his easy, relaxed manner and his gorgeous smile. If that were going to happen, though, I’d have to find the courage to talk to him and to admit that maybe I don’t know myself all that well after all.
Snow on Spirit Bridge – Freddy MacKay
Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.
Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni’s family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.
Categories: Contemporary, Fantasy, Humor, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy (Please note: Not all tags refer to the collection of stories.)
From Wreath of Fire by Toni Griffin
“Come on, let’s get out of the way while these nice firemen finish up,” Patricia said.
Michael had completely forgotten all about the other men. He remembered one of them coming over and leading him outside while others battled the blaze, but Michael had been too distraught to pay too much attention to them. He thought the man’s name might have been Martin or something similar. He couldn’t remember. Michael looked away from Patricia at the men on the lawn stretching out a hose and packing it away. His gaze was caught immediately in the intense blue eyes of one of the firefighters he had yet to meet.
His heartbeat increased as Michael stood there, unable to look away from the man, who stood no more than a half a dozen feet in front of him. The man wasn’t what most people would have considered gorgeous. Yes, he was tall, probably close to half a foot taller than Michael. He obviously had muscles. Doing the job he did Michael doubted there was an ounce of fat on the man anywhere, and the bulky bright yellow protective outfit made him look even larger than he was.
His dark brown hair was cut short, shaved close on the sides with only the barest hint of length on the top. His nose was large, his eyebrows thick and bushy, but the blue of his eyes shone through. The man’s lips were surrounded by a beard that followed the contours of his face. This man was obviously well groomed, the beard was trimmed close and neatly, and Michael wanted to feel it against his naked skin.
His body was going haywire and Michael didn’t know why. It wasn’t until he took a deep breath that it finally clicked. The man in front of him wasn’t human, he was a shifter, and he smelled very much like he might be Michael’s mate.
“Michael? Is everything all right?” Patricia asked him. Michael hadn’t even realized he’d made the small whimpering noise until she asked.
Michael shook his head. This could not be happening. No way could he meet his mate now, when he’d just proven to everyone what a complete and total fuckup he was. He couldn’t deal with this right now. He turned to Patricia. “I’m sorry,” he whispered again. Michael would be saying that for the rest of his life.
He turned and darted for the house. Michael wasn’t thinking, he just knew he had to get away from everything and the only way he knew how was to shift. He raced through the house, the scent of the fire strong and cloying as soon as he opened the front door. He made it to the back door and ran outside and across the back lawn. Michael ignored the calls from Patricia and a deep sexy voice he could only assume was the man he thought might be his mate. He could hear their heavy steps behind him, but he wasn’t stopping. He vaulted over the back fence, not bothering to waste time on the locked gate, and ran into the forest.
Thankful for his shifter side, Michael ran barefoot through the trees. The temperature had to be close to freezing. A bitter wind blew through the forest, causing Michael to shiver despite his higher than average body temperature.
When he was certain he was out of sight, Michael stopped and took a moment. His heart pounded furiously in his chest. Why did the world have to be so cruel? Things were finally starting to look up: he was going to go back to school and get his GED, and then he could decide what he wanted to do with his life. Instead, he thought it would be a great idea to try and burn down the house of the only people who had been kind to him in his life, proving to the one person he’d wanted since forever that he was a complete loser.
Michael stripped quickly. It was too cold to stay still for too long. He thought about his bear, concentrated, and felt the shift start to take over him. Within moments, he was standing on all fours, the thick black coat of his fur keeping him warm from the icy winds. Michael lifted his head and roared out all his frustration, then took off into the woods.
For once, he wanted to be alone.
Bio: Author : Toni Griffin, Angel Martinez, Silvia Violet, Freddy MacKay
Mischief Corner Books is an organization of superheroes… no, it’s a platinum-album techno-fusion group…no, hold on a sec here…
Ah, yes. Mischief Corner is a diverse group of authors who met on a mountain in Tennessee and decided since we probably were too easily distracted to rule the world that we’d settle for causing a bit of mayhem instead.
In addition to making mayhem, we publish books with a diverse range of genres and topics… we live to break molds.
MCB. Giving voice to LGBTQ fiction.
Mischief Corner Books Website and Store: https://mischiefcornerbooks.weebly.com MCB Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MischiefCornerBooks
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books, LLC
Cover Artist: Catherine Dair
Somewhere between nine and ten o’clock, a handsome young man brings me a cup of coffee, with the perfect amount of creamer stirred in. As I yawn and stretch, he props my pillow behind me.
Since I am much more creative when I’m relaxed, he turns on the bathwater and rubs my feet while the tub fills.
I begin my brainstorming while I soak. A nice meal is always invigorating, so I have him prepare my omelet. He takes care to add exactly five chilled grapes, either green or red, I’m not particular, to the side of my plate. Then I check my phone for messages and login to Facebook over my second cup of coffee.
And then reality swipes me in the face. My Great Dane wakes me up by licking my cheek before five a.m. because he’s ready to play. I realize I need to take a quick shower, pour my own cup of coffee and fill a bowl with Cheerios while I plan my day.
From there, the day diverges, based on where I am on writing a book.
In the early days of a book, when I’m plotting and brainstorming, I spend a lot of time pacing, jotting ideas in a notebook (a very specific type with three subjects and college-lined pages), scribbling on my whiteboard, walking, and taking more than one shower a day. At this stage, people make the mistake of thinking that they can talk to me because I don’t appear “busy.” At that point they get lasered with my ferocious death stare.
As I get deeper into a book, I become more of a recluse. I’ll go for days without talking to people. At times, I’ll lose track of what day it is. This week, I took out the trash two days early.
When I’m about a week away from finishing a book, I’ll stock the fridge with foods that don’t need cooking. While I was writing Claim, I ate pizza for breakfast six days in a row. And no, I haven’t had a slice since! Cheerios became a pleasant memory. (I was too deep into my book to be bothered going to the store for milk!)
I often have HGTV on in the background, but the TV is silenced. It helps me feel less isolated, but I stay away from news and other distractions, though I do admit that The Property Brothers do occasionally grab my interest!
During revisions, I’m as obsessive as I am during the last couple of weeks before finishing a book.
I’ve always wanted to be the kind of writer who sits down and begins creating at a certain time of day and ends at a specific time. I think my husband would like that, too. But when I am absorbed, I can work twenty hours a day
And I didn’t mind spending all that time with Kennedy Aldrich, the tall, devastatingly determined Dom who sets all of his attention on wooing Mackenzie Farrell. Although she’s a sub, she’s a spunky heroine who will do everything she can to resist him, but Kennedy sets out to prove exactly how irresistible he can be.
Blurb for Claim:
This is book two in the Bonds series, see the full series listing here
It had to be her. He won’t be satisfied until he claims her.
Kennedy Aldrich has perfected the art of dodging any romantic entanglement that will lead to marriage. That is until he sees Mackenzie Farrell at a BDSM gathering.
When they meet, he’s entranced by her intelligence and submission, not to mention her stunning good looks. For the first time, he has met a woman who captivates his interest on every level, someone he wants to share his life with.
Mackenzie is overwhelmed by Kennedy’s attentions. A failed marriage taught her to distrust men, and she’s vowed never to walk down the aisle again.
It takes all her resolve to resist the devilishly handsome Dominant. After all, the whole world knows of his legendary reputation with women. Every feminine instinct warns that this man will demand more than she can offer.
But she hasn’t counted on Kennedy’s determination to claim her and prove that love is worth any risk.
Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of anal play.
About Sierra Cartwright:
INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLING AUTHOR
Sierra Cartwright was born in Manchester, England and raised in Colorado. Moving to the United States was nothing like her young imagination had concocted. She expected to see cowboys everywhere, and a covered wagon or two would have been really nice!
Now she writes novels as untamed as the Rockies, while spending a fair amount of time in Texas…where, it turns out, the Texas Rangers law officers don’t ride horses to roundup the bad guys, or have six-shooters strapped to their sexy thighs as she expected. And she’s yet to see a poster that says Wanted: Dead or Alive. (Can you tell she has a vivid imagination?)
Sierra wrote her first book at age nine, a fanfic episode of Star Trek when she was fifteen, and she completed her first romance novel at nineteen. She actually kissed William Shatner (Captain Kirk) on the cheek once, and she says that’s her biggest claim to fame. Her adventure through the turmoil of trust has taught her that love is the greatest gift. Like her image of the Old West, her writing is untamed, and nothing is off-limits.
She invites you to take a walk on the wild side…but only if you dare.
You can find Sierra on Facebook, follow her on twitter and check out her page on Tumblr.
Enter Totally Bound’s competition for the chance to win a copy of Claim and two books from Sierra’s backlist:
Summary: Sometimes holding on means letting go
After giving up on his career as a country singer in Nashville, Christopher Ryder is happy enough performing at the Smoky Mountain Dreams theme park in Tennessee. But while his beloved Gran loves him the way he is, Christopher feels painfully invisible to everyone else. Even when he’s center stage he aches for someone to see the real him.
Bisexual Jesse Birch has no room in his life for dating. Raising two kids and fighting with family after a tragic accident took his children’s mother, he doesn’t want more than an occasional hook-up. He sure as hell doesn’t want to fall hard for his favorite local singer, but when Christopher walks into his jewelry studio, Jesse hears a new song in his heart
Review: This book is set in the fall of the year leading up to Christmas. It’s my favorite season leading to my favorite holiday. I love the scenery that Mother Nature puts on display – the vivid hues of reds, oranges, and yellows of the leaves on the trees and bushes. Not everything is beautiful because there are also the darker browns and almost colorless debris that can be found as well. It all seemed kind of symbolic of the depth and complexity, the bright spots and struggles that can be found in this story. And just like my favorite season, I loved every bit of this book while it lasted and found myself longing for more in the end.
The reds, oranges and yellows:
• Christopher – humble and good to the core. He’s a man who adores his Gran and hears her advice in his head when he needs a little reality check. He has reconciled himself to always being second best (in life and in love). He puts others first even if it means heartache for himself. He secretly longs to belong in a family and to have someone really “see” him and actually make him their first choice. I would so totally make him mine if I could (or hug the stuffing out of him trying).
• Jesse – devoted and loyal. He’s open and honest and sincere about trying to do the right things whether it’s caring for and advocating for his wife, guiding his children or speaking openly with Christopher (I loved how Chris and Jesse could actually communicate and share their true thoughts with one another). He may have been bi-sexual, but it really seemed to be a one-off with his wife. He was a man’s man in all other respects.
• Strong women – Christopher’s Gran and Jesse’s sister Amanda were both awesome in their ability to give the best advice and guide their respective men with a swift kick in the ass when needed!
• The passion and the sex – reds, oranges and yellows definitely represent how hot and colorful these guys were when getting down to business. From the exceptional love of rimming (so very intimate), to down and dirty talk, to the creative use of, um, pearls, to their own special post anal sex soothing ritual, I loved being privy to their private moments and very glad they were quite plentiful!
• Religious zealots, homophobes, and family members who turn away their own – there were plenty of each in this story which made for a lot of angst and broke my heart.
• A past that is still very much part of the present – old fears, experiences and grief have not been fully dealt with which complicates the ability for most of the characters in the story to move forward.
As I sat down to read I was lucky to have the majority of a day to myself with no commitments – good thing because this book was my guilty pleasure and I couldn’t put it down. It was an emotional read (tears included) and I felt as though I’d been put through the wringer a bit, but it was so worth it! As the story came to a close, it was right in the thick of the Christmas holiday. Not everything was wrapped up with perfect bows, but just like the magic and wonder of the season, my heart was happy and hopeful. I’m fervently wishing for a sequel focused on more of Christopher and Jesse, but also another story that gives Gareth his HEA. Highly recommended!!!
Summary: One of London’s up-and-coming chefs, Eddie Tripp has just the right recipe to drive tragedy from the mind of Gideon Kent—and leave him senseless with desire.
THE MEN OF LONDON
From Soho to Norwich, there’s no escaping love.
A TASTE OF FOREVER
An award-winning chef with his own restaurant and an inexhaustible passion, Gideon Kent once had everything. Then came tragedy. It stole more than Gideon’s home. He hasn’t cooked since.
Until Eddie Tripp. Fun-loving and vivacious, the Norfolk redhead’s a real up-and-comer in Gideon’s kitchen—and other places. Slim where Gideon’s broad, easy-going where Gideon is growly, he and Gideon seem polar opposites, and yet Eddie conjures flavors that would tempt anyone with a taste for perfection. The sauce of love is already simmering, and this pair is about to dine on the most delicious dish they’ve ever prepared. Because Eddie’s been Gideon’s missing ingredient all along.
Review: How devastating does it have to be for a chef to not only go through a tragic fire with horrific aspects but to also lose the sense of smell and taste, making it impossible to continue the career you love? This is what happened to Gideon and to his credit, he is not a horrible person about it. Well, usually. Sometimes he can’t help but lash out, he’s a perfectionist and he just wants to be able to cook. Instead, he owns a restaurant and tends to take things out on Eddie, the sous chef. The sous chef who brings out “something possessive and definitely needy” in Gideon. Nope, can’t have that.
Gideon is lucky to have an amazing friend in Carmen, and she tends to set him straight on when he’s just being too hard on people, especially Eddie. Eddie is a very talented chef, an up and comer who will go far, and this too makes it difficult for Gideon to deal with his attraction to Eddie. Plus, Eddie is a bit clumsy and this gives Gideon a way to berate him. It’s sad and understandable at the same time.
Secondary characters, as mentioned Carmen, but also the incredibly readable Leslie, were amazing. Leslie is one of Eddie’s roommates and he’s a sight to behold, “high heels, tiny silk shorts and a tight tank top”, but more than that, he’s a dedicated Eddie friend. Along with Taylor (who has a sort of paranormal gift), they make up a tight knit friendship and I was happy Eddie had that. Unfortunately, there are some idiots, (Michael Fortescue, talking to you!) as well.
While the attraction is immediate between Eddie and Gideon, the push and pull between them goes on long enough to be interesting without becoming overdone. There are a few times (particularly when Eddie misses their date through no fault of his own) that you just want to slap Gideon.
There is a secondary line about Eddie’s cousin, Luke, that made me feel so sad for him. Everything is so difficult when you are that young but I was glad to see there is hope there.
I thought the ending was a good one, less an “ever after” than a “this might work” and I felt that was in character, at least for Gideon. This has some angsty moments but nothing that made it difficult to read. It’s really the start for Gideon and Eddie and we can only hope they get their HEA. And that Leslie stays as awesome as he is here!
Summary: Who needs a holiday when your destiny is Written in the Stars?
Review: The one general complaint I have is that the blurb tells us nothing! That being said, this is a sweet, funny short story (part of the Bollocks! Anthology). Written in the Stars is a dating show. Sebastian’s roommate, Declan, works hair and make up on the show and he’s convinced Sebastian to be a contestant. Normally, it’s a het show but they are doing a special for guy meets guy and Uh oh!
Sebastian is a wonderful character to read. He’s funny, honest and doesn’t try to change himself for anyone. I appreciated that about him. This one made me smile and I wanted to read more of Sebastian! It’s a short story, so can’t say too much without giving it away but it’s sweet and worth a look.
Evan Costa learned from a very early age that there was no such thing as unconditional love and that it was better to settle for what you could get instead of expecting the world to give you what you need. As Ethan, porn model for Johnnies, he gets exactly what he wants—comradeship and physical contact on trade—and he is perfectly satisfied with that. He’s sure of it.
Jonah Stevens has spent most of his adult life helping to care for his sister and trying to keep his beleaguered family from fraying at the edges. He’s had very little time to work on his confidence or his body for that matter. When Jonah meets Ethan, he doesn’t see the hurt child or the shamelessly slutty porn star. He sees a funny, sexy, confident man who—against the odds—seems to like Jonah in spite of his very ordinary, but difficult, life.
Sensing a kindred spirit and a common interest, Ethan thinks a platonic friendship with Jonah won’t violate his fair trade rules of sex and touch, but Jonah has different ideas. Ethan’s pretty sure his choice of jobs has stripped away all hope of a real relationship, but Jonah wants the whole package—the sexy man, the vulnerable boy, the charming companion who works so hard to make other people happy. Jonah wants to prove that underneath the damage Ethan has lived with all his life, he’s still gold with promise and the ability to love.
Evan Costa disclosed to his mother at 5 years old that he’d been molested and while his mother got him the therapy he needed, she was forever changed. Their traditional Italian family became a frigid no-touching zone and Ethan’s damage became the entire family’s damage. At eighteen, away at college, and driven by his overwhelming need for human contact, Evan becomes Ethan, a porn star with Johnnies, where he can get the human contact he needs… though the “forbidden” nature of the business causes him shame, perhaps adding to the residue from his earlier experience.
Two years into his “career”, when Ethan meets Jonah Stevens the two are drawn together. Yet how can Ethan confess to, or expect Jonah to accept, what he does for a living? Adding to this drama are Jonah’s own problems with separated parents and a sister with a terminal illness.
Yes, everyone has their problems and Amy Lane’s characters more than most and yet for the most part this is a story of good people managing through trying times. This is the third in the series so it should be no surprise by now that for the most part, all parties get their happy endings. As the third part of the series, there are no real surprises but we do get to discover some details that weren’t apparent before, gain some additional perspectives, and we get to spend time with the friends we made in earlier books.
As with the earlier two audio-books, this installment is narrated by Sean Crisden who does his usual commendable job of differentiating the large cast of male voices and manages to portray women’s voices without the teeth-grating sweetness that some narrators use. At 10 hours and 46 minutes this is currently one of the longest audio-books in my library but is consistently interesting and will probably be re-read at least annually over the next few years.