Title: An Erie Garden Party
Author: V.L. Locey
Series: Lake Erie Shifters, Book 3
Publisher: Torquere Press
Release Date: 4/13/16
Length: 32k words
Genre/Tags: Paranormal, M/M Romance
Spring has finally arrived along the shores of Lake Erie and no one is happier than skunk shifter, Templeton Reed. Now that the snows have melted, he can frolic and play on the grounds of Lupei Manor, the formidable home that he shares with his life partner, Mikel Lupei, the alpha of the Lake Erie pack. What a pity that his joy is short lived.
Not only does a stranger appear to shake things up in the manor, bodies begin showing up on the grounds as well! Could the newcomer to the pack be the one viciously killing innocent humans and shifters? Or is there a more nefarious force at work lurking just outside the boundaries of the ancient manse Templeton, Mikel, and their LGBT friends call home?
“Son of a human,” Mikel snarled. He stripped and shifted. I stood with his clothes over my arms, watching the wolf work the scent. He padded to the lake, snuffled the shore intently, and then slowly made his way back to the corpse. I turned my head to stare at Erie when he shoved his head under the bloody sheet to smell the body. The water seemed almost tranquil today. How I wished we were planning our spring fete instead of standing here beside a dead man. Mikel tapping my arm brought my attention from the Great Lake back to him. I handed him his pants.
“So, what can you tell us about this poor man’s fate?”
“He’s human.” Mikel zipped his trousers vehemently. “And he was killed by a large animal, either wolf or bruin. Whoever did this dragged him through the lake to mask the scent. I’ll have to gather the pack to scour the woods. Damnation.”
“Oh dear me,” I sighed. “I suppose the call must be made then.”
Mikel threw his head back and stared at the soft white clouds ambling past. “Yes. We have to notify the Elder counsel. That is standard operating procedure when a human is involved in mystical matters. Damnation!”
I reached out to pat his thick bicep. I wasn’t sure he wanted consolation but I offered it anyway. He placed his hand over mine.
“Let me know when they plan to arrive. I’ll take a long stroll through the woods.”
Mikel’s lip rolled as he turned to look down at me. “I hate that as well. You should be at my side. This mansion is as much your home as it is mine.”
“Yes, well, the times they aren’t a changing as rapidly as needed,” I smiled then snuggled into his wide chest. His arms cinched around me tightly, his smoky shirt smashed between us. My ear rested over his strong heart. “If one of the Elders saw me here it would raise questions. I know we have a lie all in place, but I for one do not wish to put that lie to the test. Better I enjoy the forest for an hour or so while they attend to this mess.”
“I love you beyond words, Templeton,” Mikel said into my black hair. “Someday, I swear, we shall not have to hide our love for each other.”
“From your mouth to the Elders’ ears,” I whispered, then tipped my head up for a kiss. We both needed one. Pity it couldn’t be a longer one, but it was tender.
In this latest story of skunky Templeton and his wolfy lover, Mikel, there is happiness in Lupei Manor, where the outcasts of the paranormal world are accepted. It’s near full moon, and the wolves are caught up in the moonfever. I have to put it out there that I adore Templeton. His inner musings and his outer dialogue are just funny, particularly in the face of the bigotry and prejudice that is prevalent within the shifter community. You can’t be gay, you can’t be different and you are definitely classed by your species (and Templeton the skunk is a lower order).
There is a problem around Lupei Manor right now, with bodies being found, both shifter and human. It’s to the point that the Elders (completely backwards idiots, just sayin’) want a Nosferati to “…extract any information about the slaying of the mortal from the minds of my pack.” This can’t happen, since the pack needs to hide the fact they are outcasts, gay, etc. So poor Mikel has to bite the bullet and ask Vincente, a gay vampire living with his human mate at the Manor, to do so. And that Mikel absolutely loathes the vamp, but it’s the lesser of the evils. When Mikel’s newly arrived cousin, Havel, refuses to submit to the mind interrogation he becomes suspect number one.
I have to say that due to the full moon, the sex between Templeton and Mikel is very rough, not romantic. I was disappointed, since the “take what you want” aspect of the so called upper classes seemed more evident in Mikel here. He’s definitely in thrall to the moon and acts like, well, an upper class werewolf a lot of the time. Even his cook has to comment, “If you plan to be in my kitchen, you’ll cover your cock, Master Lupei”. Of course he ignores the comment, of course. He acts like his animal side often throughout this one.
Not only are they trying to figure out who is doing the killing, but there is also the arson of a shifter owned menswear shop. Add in the moon-addled mate, plus Templeton accidentally discovering Havel’s secret and why he came to Lupei Manor and there’s a lot going on for our poor skunk. Even more so when Mikel decides to be contrary about Havel’s secret, being obnoxious enough that Vincente “…stalked out the door, obviously too affronted to even turn into a bat and try to poop on Mikel’s head as he had in the past.”
The shifter world here is incredibly behind the times when it comes to most things (“mental cleansing” was suggested for one of our characters by his own father) and differences are not tolerated. And don’t you dare step above what society considers your station. Lupei Manor, however, is different and that makes things lovely. Templeton’s conversation with his parents, for example, shows the fear. “I’m not homophobic, I’m just scared muskless that these two boys will be outed someday.” But they love their boy, “Can we go meet your new, happy friends?” Adorable.
Despite the serious undertones, this is a light story and all I can say about the end is – GO HAVEL!
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and three Jersey steers.
When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.
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