Unexpectedly Loving a SINGLE WHITE INCUBUS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M contemporary paranormal romance from EJ Russell. If you aren’t from Illinois/the Chicago area, you may not know it, but today is Casimir Pulaski Day–a celebration of the life of a Polish general from the American Revolutionary War. As we have a large Polish population, we often take off the first Monday in March to celebrate this hero…and I spent the day working. (Teachers have the most homework!!) Anywho, This book has a Casimir in it, so I thought I’d finally post a review since I read it a few months ago and I totally loved it. SINGLE WHITE INCUBUS is the first book in the Supernatural Selection series that follows supes of all types finding love through a witch=run online matchmaking service. It all started with CUTIE AND THE BEAST. THE DRUID NEXT DOOR and BAD BOY’S BARD, but this book is a fun spin-off.

About the book:
Does a bear shift in the woods?
Well, partially. That was what got grizzly shifter Ted Farnsworth into trouble. He wasn’t trying to break the Secrecy Pact. He just wants people to see the real him. So he signs up with the mate-matching service Supernatural Selection — which guarantees marriage to a perfect partner. Not only will Ted never be lonely again, but once his new beaver shifter husband arrives, they’ll build Ted’s dream wilderness retreat together. Win-win.

Quentin Bertrand-Harrington, scion of an incubus dynasty, has abstained from sex since nearly killing his last lover. When his family declares it’s time for him to marry, Quentin decides the only way not to murder his partner is to pick someone who’s already dead. Supernatural Selection finds him the ideal vampire, and Quentin signs the marriage agreement sight unseen.

But a mix-up at Supernatural Selection contracts Quentin with Ted. What’s Ted supposed to do with an art historian who knows more about salad forks than screwdrivers? And how can Quentin resist Ted’s mouthwatering life force? Yet as they work together to untangle their inconvenient union, they begin to wonder if their unexpected match might be perfect after all.

My Review:
Quentin Bertrand-Harrington is a wealthy celibate incubus looking for a mate, now that his mother has declared it necessary for him to marry. But, he’s terrified of harming another potential lover. His incubus power drains his lovers, and if he gets carried away it could turn one into a husk–so he thinks it best to find an undead lover of the same station. Casimir Moreau, an unmatched vampire of some renown, seems to be a perfect match, as guaranteed by the Supernatural Selection Agency.

Quentin takes a suppressor to dull his incubi urges, and he doses up in preparation for the cross-country flight from his Boston home to Portland, Oregon. He’s so out of it, he doesn’t know that the binding marriage contracts he signed were changed at the last moment, but he does find out rather quickly after being dropped off in the middle of a forest on the doorstep of his unexpected husband, Ted Farnsworth.

Ted is a grizzly shifter, and not too quick on the uptake. He’s not okay with what he suspects was Quentin’s interference. What good is a city-wise art historian out in the woods? Ted had been expecting to marry an industrious non-shifting beaver named Rusty. Rusty might not turn into a beaver, but he has a gift with wood, and construction. Ted wanted Rusty to help him finish a rental vacation lodge for other supes as a business they could run together.

He treats Quentin rather shabbily, and needs to reach out to the only people he trusts to help: Dr. Kendrick, his therapist, and David, Kendrick’s healer husband. These are characters from CUTIE AND THE BEAST, and they make some fun cameos. Ted and Quentin are officially married, even if the plan is to break their bond and unite with the original supes they were paired with. Only, it’ll take a month to get this managed, on account of the witches’ spell needing to take place in a certain phase of the moon. In the meantime, David helps Quentin to see that his chemical suppressors are actually toxic to him. Out in the woods, it’s less likely that Quentin will stumble upon a naive victim for his hunger–and once he and Ted agree to have some sexytimes, Quentin’s more healthy than he has been in years.

This is a charming odd-couple romance, with all sorts of zany characters, and fun adventures. Ted is a bear of a man, who’s also subject to fits of grizzly temper. The first part is attractive to Quentin, while the temper needs to be tamed. I liked how these guys fit each other so perfectly, both helping the other through the hard parts of their lives. While they originally thought it was imperative to manage a quickie divorce, they soon fall for one another. Should they go against the original match? Or, did the magic make a last-second switch for all the right reasons? Their choices sway the situation in favor of true love, and it works out to a very happy ending.

Interested? You can find BAD BOY’S BARD on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.

You can catch up with Ms. Russell on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

He was her DRAGON CLAIMED–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a newly-published dragon-shifter romance from Donna Grant. DRAGON CLAIMED is a novella in her Dark Kings series, (Book 14.5!) and really best enjoyed when read in order. I’ve liked SMOKE AND FIRE, FIRESTORM, BLAZE, and DRAGON BURN, so I’m eager to reach the “climax” of this sexy series.

About the book:
Born to rule the skies as a Dragon King with power and magic, Cináed hides his true identity in the mountains of Scotland with the rest of his brethren. But there is no respite for them as they protect the planet and the human occupants from threats. However, a new, more dangerous enemy has targeted the Kings. One that will stop at nothing until dragons are gone forever. But Cináed discovers a woman from a powerful, ancient Druid bloodline who might have a connection to this new foe.

Solitude is sanctuary for Gemma. Her young life was upended one stormy night when her family disappears, leaving her utterly alone. She learned to depend solely on herself from then on. But no matter where she goes she feels…lost. As if she missed the path she was supposed to take. Everything changes when she backs into the most dangerously seductive man she’s ever laid eyes. Gemma surrenders to the all-consuming attraction and the wild, impossible love that could destroy them both – and finds her path amid magic and dragons.

My Review:
Cináed is a Dragon King who has a talent for learning any skill with ease. He’s working on looking for any clues to the shadowy folks who’ve been trying to reveal and destroy the Dragon Kings to the world. While searching old newspapers for oddities, he comes across the story of a young girl who was found abandoned on a deserted isle off the Scottish coast. Cináed is captivated by the story, and asks some of the other Dragon Kings to assist him in finding out what happened to her.

Little Gemma had been trying to flee their island from a dangerous storm, but she returned to land to save their dog. The boat disappeared and she knew it was due to a great evil force–one she felt when she returned to her abandoned house. She was rescued a few weeks later–with no sign of her parents or brother. She grew up in foster care, and now makes a living as a freelance researcher. Cináed tracks her down to, unbelievably, the town just outside of Dreagan’s distillery and it’s there they connect.

Gemma’s drawn to Cináed like no other man she’s known, but she’s not willing to trust anyone with her secrets–until Cináed reveals some of his own. Then, Gemma finds herself on the hunt for answers to where her family disappeared to–and what being might have been the cause of it. Cináed is sure there’s a link to Usaeil, the Queen of the Light Fae, but Gemma’s past is still murky, yet important. Gemma must face her darkest fears, and the truth of her past, to ever find happiness in the future.

I liked this one. It’s a quickie of a read, with Gemma and Cináed realizing they are fated mates after a few interactions. Gemma’s childhood trauma made for a suspenseful opening and closing, with plenty of intrigue mixed in once Cináed found out her true name–and powers. It was an entertaining novella, and sure to please the fans of the series.

Interested? You can find DRAGON CLAIMED on Goodreads and Amazon.

donna_grant_newAbout the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children and an assortment of animals in Texas.

Catch up with Donna on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr, Audible, and Tantor.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Out now! AN ERIE COLLECTION–Release, Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release week review and book giveaway for a M/M shifter romance series from V.L. Locey. AN ERIE COLLECTION contains four novellas featuring Templeton Reed, a skunk shifter who inexplicably falls for Mikel Lupei, alpha of the Lake Erie wolf pack. I’ve previously reviewed AN ERIE GARDEN PARTY, but was hungry for more of this fun and engaging shifter world. For those who’ve enjoyed any of the previously-released novellas, this collection includes a fourth novella that is new.

About the book:
You can now have all four of the MM Lake Erie pack novellas in this one reasonably priced collection! Included in the set are the previously released novellas An Erie Halloween, An Erie Operetta, and An Erie Garden Party. To round off this whimsical and romantic shifter set is a brand-new novella, An Erie Uprising!

It’s been one wonderfully romantic year since skunk shifter Templeton Reed met Mikel Lupei, the alpha wolf of the Lake Erie pack. During that year, the two men fell in love and worked side-by-side to solve some tricky murder mysteries. They also opened up Lupei Manor, Mikel’s familial home, to other LGBTQ mystical beings in the Erie area. Sadly, being gay in the supernatural world Templeton and Mikel live in can be a death sentence.

During the past year, the magical world has slowly been coming unraveled. Civil unrest now runs rampant through the community as the lesser breeds revolt against the hateful dictates of the Elder Counsel. The uprising will surely touch every person residing in the magical world beside Lady Erie. Will the flames of unrest and war consume everything and everyone Templeton and Mikel hold dear as well?

My Review:
Templeton Reed is a shy skunk shifter working diligently as a lineage specialist for the shifter world. Given the hierarchy of their world skunks are near the bottom–and lots of the “Lesser” shifters are suddenly disappearing–violently. So, he’s worried, but not truly anticipating the attack of a puma and bear shifter. Some quick thinking, skunk-muskiness, and a determined wolf, Mikel Lupei, is all that keeps Templeton on the “still with us” plane. Two things become clear: Templeton’s attack wasn’t random, and Mikel’s got a hankering for his pungent rescuee.

Thing is, same-sex relations are banned in their shifter community. Likewise, even if homosexuality wasn’t a fatal crime, it’s still not okay for a wolf shifter to have relationship with a lesser (skunk) shifter. Defying the laws and customs of their world Templeton and Mikel find love that surpasses their dreams. Unfortunately, it brings more doemsetic trouble than even Mikel could have predicted.

Their love, and the scope of their relationship, grows in the three following novellas. IN these Templeton has the opportunity to show exactly how fierce a lesser shifter can be, risking certain death to uncover the mysteries of murdered shifters, and rescue Mikel from enforcers of their own community. The writing is whimsical, and there’s plenty of sexytimes to balance the action and intrigue. The first time I read AN ERIE GARDEN PARTY I wanted to know more about Templeton, Mikel and their world. Now that I’ve read the whole series, I totally enjoyed the experience. Highly recommend to fans of M/M shifter romance, especially those who love odd shifters and unusual pairings. The series also features some non-shifter paranormal folk, so expect a vamp, or three, as well as some keen insight into societal inequalities and the fight for equal rights for all.

Interested? You can find AN ERIE COLLECTION on Goodreads and Amazon (US and UK) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.


Click on this Rafflecopter Giveaway link for your chance to win a backlist book from VL Locey.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, 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, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

You can find her on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and tsú.

Cephalopod Coffeehouse February 2018–Bringing the HEAT

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

This month I’m sharing a review for a newly published dragon-shifter romance from Donna Grant. HEAT is the 12th book in her Dark Kings series, and really best enjoyed when read in order. I’ve liked SMOKE AND FIRE, FIRESTORM, BLAZE, and DRAGON BURN, and–being a series junkie–I’m eager to see how this all turns out.

About the book:
Nikolai is a dragon shapeshifter who knows well the meaning of loss. Orphaned and raised to be a Dragon King, he never accepts defeat. Now, Nikolai prefers his solitude . . .until a beautiful, irresistible woman calls upon him for help—and Nikolai’s whole world goes up in flames.

Ever since MI5 agent Esther woke to discover her mind taken over with magic, she feels like stranger to herself. She looks to a notorious dragon, one who has the power to help her find her memory. But as she and Nikolai come closer to discovering what really happened to her, a dangerous passion ignites between them. Can this lone Dragon King help the woman he’s grown to love to uncover the truth about her past—or will a deep and fiery danger tear them both apart?

My Review:
This is the 12th book in a series and best enjoyed when you’ve read several of the more recent releases, I think.

To sum up, Dragon Kings are fighting a battle for survival in modern times. They have the ability to shift from human to dragon form, and once ruled the earth, but went into hiding to prevent annihilation from the primitive humans who populated the lands. This decision created a huge rift in the community, and a war ensued. Constantine, the kink of all kings banished Ulrik, another dragon king, for inciting the war.

Nikolai was raised by Ulrik, and he’s always felt it was a deep betrayal to fight against Ulrik to protect humanity. He’s long had issues with his decision, and he wants to make peace with Ulrik. It’s a dangerous time, however, with Light and Dark Fae having devious plots, and a rogue dragon trying to destroy Ulrik, Constantine and the rest of the dragons to assume supreme power over earth and humanity.

Esther is a former MI5 agent whose brother has worked to keep the dragon’s identities secret from society. Esther got tangled up in the midst, having her mind controlled by a powerful Druid. She’s desperate to learn what happened in the three weeks that are missing from her memories. Nicolai has a special gift of sight–he can pluck images from people’s consciousness, even if they can’t remember. He and Esther head to Dublin to trace her paths and see if any patterns develop. In the thick of this they admit they have a ton of chemistry, and are likely to be fated mates.

I’ve really enjoyed the series, and this book in particular is really good. There is convergence between several plotlines at this point so that we can see the impending conflict. Many of the characters have found love, but Con and Ulrik are still single. So I’m expecting some page time to them finding love, as well as defeating the threats from Fae and others. The love story was slower to unfold than I had expected considering Esther and Nikolai have had some close encounters before they set out on their mission. I did love how some of the mystery surrounding the Druid has been cleared up, and it’s clear that most of our “bad guys” aren’t what they seemed to be, at first. Happy endings abound, and the end is clearly near. Looking forward to the next book!

Interested? You can find HEAT on Goodreads and Amazon.

donna_grant_newAbout the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children and an assortment of animals in Texas.

Catch up with Donna on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr, Audible, and Tantor.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends! Be sure to check out my fellow Coffeehouse reviewers and their fave books of the month below…

GHOST WOLF To the Rescue–A Review & Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m back, and sharing a review for a new paranormal M/M romance from Hurri Cosmo. GHOST WOLF features a lone wolf finding more than a pack when he seeks his future. Scroll down for my review and to enter the $25 Amazon GC giveaway!

About the book:
Hi, my name is Trevor. I’m a wolf shifter.

I say that like I know what I’m talking about. I don’t. I was simply running off a ton of steam one day when I was around eleven and bam! Okay, not quite that easy or fast but it happened when I was young and stupid. I’m also gay. I say that like I know what I’m talking about with that too. I simply don’t.

I’m grown up now and living in the big city which has me too busy to much care about either one of those things. I get out and run my wolf when I can, trying like hell to stay out of the local pack’s territories. Belonging to a “family” just sounds like too much work, and honestly I don’t have time for such things. Besides, I was told when I was young the color of my wolf was all wrong. Too silver…or something. Metallic. I kinda thought it looked cool in the full moon. “Pack Alpha would kill ya soon as look at ya.” My grandpa used to say. Course he wasn’t my real grandpa. Just an old man who lived down the street, but he was a shifter too and I thought he knew it all. He probably knew diddly either, but a guy can’t be too careful. And romance? Way off the radar.

Only now someone has started killing wolves. Started leaving broken bodies lined up in a nice little row next to the high school in my home town and it’s got me to thinking. If a shifter is killed in his or her wolf state, do they stay that way? Were these dead wolves like me? The hell of it all is this: being a shifter isn’t common knowledge. It bothers me enough that now I want to find out more. See if there’s anything I can do. Kind of like a super hero.

Oh yeah. Probably forgot to tell you this too. I can turn invisible.

Yep, Ghost Wolf to the rescue

My Review:
Trevor is a young wolf shifter who learned on his powers on his own–with the help of a neighbor he called Grandpa. Grandpa was a shifter too, and held some knowledge and more secrets that he shared with Trevor through his will.

We start with him as a youngish boy–and follow him up to a new town as he works on his college plan. When there, he meets more shifters; some of whom find him very much attractive. One of these is Ryan Jarfang and another is Keith Karlack–both alphas of neighboring shifter clans. Ryan had been betrothed to a female shifter, but breaks that off when he senses Trevor is his Fated Mate. Trevor hasn’t owned up to Ryan about his special power, being able to disappear, that he’s able to use in moments of danger.

This is an interesting read, but I definitely struggled with it. Trevor had troubles assimilating in his new world, but he just keeps running from them. Ryan has to track him down again and again, as he rebels. Their rapid courtship sparks conflict between the packs. Trevor did get on my nerves, and I really felt like the book started too soon. We could have picked up with him being in college, not in middle school, and I probably would have liked the story more. It otherwise seemed to drag, and then jumped forward with coincidences that felt a bit disingenuous.

For the shifter story, there was some interesting pack dynamics, and the fated-ness of Trevor and Ryan coming together wasn’t the interesting part. The way they were able to call on higher powers–connecting the real with the super-paranormal in ways that I hadn’t read before. I liked that part. Unfortunately, it felt too long to get there. Expect some different dynamics and a side of mpreg, too.

Interested? You can find GHOST WOLF on Goodreads and Amazon.


Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter and win a $25 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Hurri Cosmo lives in Minnesota where she holds tight to the idea that there, where it’s cold a good part of the year, she won’t age as fast. Yep, she avoids the truth as much as she avoids mirrors. But one of the reasons she loves writing is reality doesn’t always offer up a “happily ever after” and being able to take control of that is a powerful lure. Being a happy ending junkie, writing just makes them easier to find. Oh, she doesn’t mind “real life” and she does try to at least keep it in mind when she writes her stories, but she truly loves creating a wonderful couple, knowing they will fall in love and have their HEA. Every – single – time. And, of course, that is exactly the reason she loves reading this genre, too. Give her a glass of red wine, some dark chocolate, and her computer, whether she is reading or writing, and she will entertain herself for hours. The fact she actually gets paid to do it is Snickers bars on the frosting on the cake.

Catch up to Hurri online on her website, blog, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Growing Into THE HALF WOLF–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand-new M/M contemporary paranormal romance from Jay Northcote. THE HALF WOLF is a new adult shifter romance, and I really enjoyed it. Not that I’m surprised. I’ve adored all Jay’s books to-date including SUMMER HEAT, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, and THE LAW OF ATTRACTION, and TOPS DOWN BOTTOMS UP. THE HALF-WOLF is another stellar story about getting over prejudices and accepting love at the right time, and had really fantastic anti-racism messages that warmed me up as much as the sexytimes.

About the book:
Mate, family, pack, home… can Quinn and Kellan have it all?
Quinn grew up feeling out of place in the small town he calls home. Yearning for something he can’t name, he’s always felt different but never known why.

Kellan is part of a nomadic shifter pack. When they set up camp in the woods near Quinn’s town, the humans are unwelcoming and suspicious of the newcomers. The moment Kellan catches sight—and scent—of Quinn, he knows Quinn is special. But for the first time in his life, Kellan can’t trust his instincts. Quinn is human, and Kellan is a wolf shifter, so how can they ever be mates?

Their bond is instant and exhilarating. It breaks Quinn’s heart to know their relationship can only be temporary. Love isn’t enough when pack law forbids shifters to mate with humans. Tension explodes between pack and humans, and when Quinn discovers a shocking truth about himself that changes everything, he fears he’ll have to choose between the only life he’s ever known and the man he loves.

My Review:
This book is set in an alternate reality where shifters are known to exist but are unwelcome members of society in general. They are often transient enclaves that travel from area to area subsisting off the land and whatever work they can find before being chased off by the locals.

Quinn grew up in a small town in Wales. His coming out back in school was a big scandal and he feels like an outsider, having been raised by his aunt since birth, essentially. It’s mid-summer ans super hot, and a shifter group has come to camp outside of town near the quarry where locals tend to like to swim. Quinn’s aunt has been very pro-shifter all his life, and he’s been fascinated by their experience, too, having read and watched all the roods/movies he could about shifters while growing up. And, he decides it’s important to see the shifters in their native state once he hears there are some close enough to observe. So, he spies on them. Once. And, it’s enough to recognize that one of them is supremely attractive.

Kellan, the blond god he’d seen swimming nude in the quarry, appears at Quinn’s workplace the next day. It’s a news and magazine shop owned by his aunt, and Quinn is baffled more by Kellan’s beauty up close. The confusion is mutual, because Kellan’s keen sense of smell tells him that Quinn is human, but something else. Something very intriguing. And, he’s grateful that Quinn gives him good advice about seeking a job. The two keep connecting, and the sexual chemistry is astronomical–but neither wants to give in, because shifters aren’t supposed to mate humans, and they could build a bond that’s only going to ache once Kellan’s pack moves on.

The townsfolk aren’t happy about the shifter camp, but they’re downright enraged when it becomes clear a shifter is killing farmers’ livestock for sport. The shifters claim it must be a rogue, but the humans don’t believe. And, it’s all getting muddled for Quinn who’s fallen deep for Kellan–which sparks a whole new series of changes that Quinn never anticipated.

I’m not going to chat much more about the book except that it’s a fabulously-told book of self exploration and coming to terms with who you are. Quinn isn’t who he’d grown up believing he was, and his love for Kellan, a mate match, reveals all his hidden secrets. The prejudice of the townspeople is frightening–is a mob action that’s only barely leashed. Finding the rogue shifter added a ticking clock on Quinn and Kellan’s relationship, but also turned the anti-shifter tide in many ways. The resolution is awesome, and the ending is happy. Also, some yummy sexytimes. Expect Kellan to make Quinn’s first time something to remember.

Interested? You can find THE HALF WOLF on Goodreads and Amazon (US or UK).

About the Author:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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Rescuing One’s Self: HOW TO SAVE A LIFE–Review, Exclusive Excerpt, and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share a review and exclusive excerpt for the newest book in the Mad Creek universe from Eli Easton. HOW TO SAVE A LIFE is the fourth M/M canine shifter romance in this series and I absolutely adore them all. Check out my reviews for HOW TO HOWL AT THE MOON, HOW TO WALK LIKE A MAN and HOW TO WISH UPON A STAR because these are books to not miss…

Also, don’t miss the exclusive excerpt or the backlist book giveaway below!
About the book: Rav Miller looked into the terrified, intelligent eyes of the chocolate Labrador on death row, and knew he’d do anything to save him. When the dog, Sammy, escapes and heads to Mad Creek, Rav follows. Mad Creek. The town had become legendary in Rav’s mind after he’d met that bizarre group last year. Rav dismissed his crazy suspicions back then, but when he arrives in Mad Creek, he knows it’s true. Dog shifters exist, and apparently they all live in the California mountains. It’s enough to blow a bad boy’s mind.

Sammy has something in common with Rav—neither one of them trusts people. After Sammy’s abuse as a dog, he particularly dislikes tough-looking men like Rav. But when Sammy gets a chance to work with rescued dogs at the new Mad Creek shelter, his deep compulsion to help others overcomes his fear. Rav and Sammy bond over saving strays. If they can each find the courage to let someone else in, they might find their way to love.

Sheriff Lance Beaufort doesn’t like humans moving into Mad Creek, especially not the tattooed and defiant Rav. When Rav starts a rescue shelter, the town thinks he’s wonderful! But Lance isn’t fooled. He doesn’t buy Rav’s innocent act for one second. How much does Rav know about the quickened? What is his game? And why did he have to show up now, when Lance and the other town leaders are overwhelmed by all the new quickened pouring in?

Rav knows how to save a life. But can he save an entire town? Can he rescue Mad Creek?

An awesome, exclusive excerpt!

Sammy looked back at Rav and waved. “Come on! Come swim!”

“Not yet. You go ahead.”

Sammy tossed his head, like Rav was being silly, and went deeper. He started paddling around. Dog paddling, his hands working the water in front of his chest, a huge grin on his face. Fuck it, that was cute. Rav smiled to himself as he unloaded the bike’s saddlebags. He’d brought an old blanket, a couple of collapsible chairs, a case of beer, a bag of chips, salsa, and guacamole he’d made himself. Damn, he hardly knew himself, acting all neighborly and shit, like he was actually a part of this community. But he’d lived in Arizona long enough to treasure his damn guacamole.

He set up the blanket and chairs and took the food and beer over to the food table. Lily and Tim were there, setting out plates and utensils.

“Hey,” Rav said.

“Hello, Rav.” Lily’s gaze was assessing, like he was a bug and she was trying to figure out the species. “How’s the shelter doing? I hear about it endlessly from everyone in town.”

“Not surprised. I think everyone in town has volunteered at least once.”

“Oh? How’s that working out for you? Are they helping?”

“They’re very enthusiastic.” Rav kept his voice carefully neutral.

“Is it hot today, or what?” Tim gushed. “Looks like Sammy has the right idea, getting in the lake.”

“He knows what he wants all right,” Rav agreed.

Lily looked at Sammy in the water, dog paddling around, then at Rav. Her head tilted curiously, and her eyes were narrowed and searching.

Sweat broke out on the back of Rav’s neck. It was like that scene in Children of the Damned when the alien kids were trying to read the guy’s mind and he pictured a brick wall to block them.

“Cold beer?” he asked abruptly, holding up the heavy case with one hand. “Is there ice somewhere?”

“There’re a bunch of coolers.” Tim nodded over his shoulder at a whole row of variously hued insulated boxes. “Feel free to use them if you can find space.”

“Got it.” Rav went to it, happy to leave Lily’s company.

He’d met her a few times. She was supportive of the shelter and the idea of rescuing dogs, but Rav got the feeling she could read him like a book. And Rav wasn’t all that keen to be read, thank you.

After stuffing half the case of beer in the coolers, he sat in a chair on the blanket and drank from a freshly opened bottle. He wasn’t being very social, but with all the volunteers he had at the shelter, it was nice to have time alone, to just be still for ten damn minutes and watch Sammy swim. Daisy pulled Sammy toward shore until they were both waist-deep. She wore a pink bikini, and Rav couldn’t help but notice that she had a great figure. Strong and lean. Damn, she looked so human.

Dog shifters were fucking amazing.

She rotated her arms in the air, demonstrating a long forward stroke. Sammy copied her, his wet arms flashing in the sun. She was chatting away with him, though Rav couldn’t hear what she was saying. After a bit, they moved deeper into the water, and Sammy tried to repeat the overhead stroke. But his elbows kept wanting to fold up and his hands to paddle at chest-level. The two of them were soon giggling like mad. Fuck. Where was Rav’s phone? He should seriously be videoing this because it was the cutest… in the world, the thing with the….

He’d just raised the phone and started filming when someone plopped down in the other chair on the blanket. In Sammy’s chair. Rav inwardly groaned when he saw it was Sheriff Lance Beaufort. He stopped filming guiltily and dropped the phone onto the blanket.

“What?” he asked bluntly. This is my fucking holiday, man. Leave off busting my balls.

For a moment, Lance was silent, like a bomb waiting to go off. Then: “I hear Sammy moved in with you, Mr. Miller.”

Rav felt a flicker of shame, though he had nothing on God’s earth to be ashamed about. He forced his body to relax.

“Yeah, well, Lance, Sammy said the town needed that teeny tiny tool shed he was living in. Apparently, you guys don’t have enough beds for people? Or something like that. And since he was mostly staying overnight at the shelter anyway, he gave his space up to someone else. So yes, he’s commandeered my couch. You’re welcome. Happy to contribute.”

Lance went tense all over and got a constipated expression. Rav pictured his head as a cartoon volcano with smoke rolling out. He had to bite back a laugh. Yes, dear old daddy was right. The best defense was offense, preferably with a nice smooth knife twist at the end. Rav had a feeling Lance would be sensitive about any perceived criticism of Mad Creek.

“The town doesn’t need your contribution,” Lance said in a voice of pure wounded pride.

Rav shrugged again, poking the bull. “That’s not the impression I got. But no worries, bruh.”

Lance took a few deep breaths and went back on the attack. “So he’s sleeping on the couch, out of the kindness of your heart? That’s your story? I hope you’re not taking advantage of that kid. Sammy’s always given me the impression that he’s… innocent. I think he was, uh, sheltered growing up.”

Rav kept his benign expression, but the barb hit home. “Yes, he’s on the couch. Ask him yourself. Or maybe not, since he’s not a minor, and it’s really none of your business.”

Lance huffed.

Rav settled back in his chair, tilting his face up to the sky. He wasn’t keeping score, but he thought he was ahead.

“So. Have you, um, noticed anything… unusual about Sammy? Now that he’s living with you?” Lance fished.

“Like what?”

Like…” Lance growled, impatient. “He’s… different. From other guys.”

“The world would be boring as fuck if we were all alike.”

“No, I mean really. Really, very different.”

Out of Rav’s peripheral vision, he could see Lance’s intense blue eyes staring at him.

“He’s different,” Rav agreed slowly. “Most guys are assholes. I can say that with some authority because I am one.”

“Truer words.”

“Sammy, on the other hand, is not an asshole.”

“No. He’s not,” Lance agreed. “He’s also not particularly well-educated. He’s, um, taking classes with my mom. Basic stuff. Very, very basic.”

Rav casually slapped at a fly on his arm. “We all have our challenges. I don’t hold that against him.”

Lance growled low in his chest, evidently getting frustrated. “You haven’t noticed anything else odd about him?”

As amusing as this was on some level, Rav was starting to lose patience. “What are you getting at? Are you implying that Sammy is simple-minded? Because he’s not. He’s fully capable of making his own decisions.”

“I never said that. Lily says Sammy is very bright, one of her brightest qui—er, students. But he still can barely read and write. Did you hire him because he’s attractive? Because you wanted to get him into your bed?”

Rav had a serious urge to punch the guy. But his upbringing taught him that power came from feeling no emotion, or at least acting like he didn’t. The calmest man in the room won over the ranting lunatic. He forced himself to release the tension. He even yawned to show how much he wasn’t bothered.

“I hired him because he’s great with the dogs. Period.”

Lance’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Why do you think that is, Mr. Miller?”

Man. This guy was like a bloodhound on a scent. But if he thought he could get Rav Miller to crack, he was barking up the wrong tree. “How do you explain any talent? Maybe he’s got a sensitive soul.”

Lance was quiet for a long moment.

“I know you’re not a stupid man,” Lance said finally, in a low and serious tone. “And definitely not as stupid as you want me to think you are.”

“I don’t care what you think.”

“Tell me you don’t know there’s something different about this town. About these people. What are you hiding?”

Rav looked Lance in the eye. “Do you want to know what I think about Mad Creek? I think you’ve got a hell of an unemployment problem, and I can’t see that you’re doing jack all about it. Did you see how many people showed up to apply for that job I opened? And every day I get ten, twenty people coming around wanting to do something, anything. So maybe instead of spending your time worrying about law-abiding business owners who are trying to do some good in the world, you should focus on helping your own community. Just a suggestion. Lance.”

Lance flushed firecracker red. Even his ears lit up and his eyes snapped. Oh yeah, there went the volcano. Ka-blam. So that was Lance’s sore spot. Good to know.

“This community and its needs are not your problem, Mr. Miller.” Lance’s voice shook.

“Well then, how about we make a deal? You stay out of my business, and I’ll stay out of yours?” Rav stared Lance down. Yeah, that’s a threat, buddy. How do you like it?

Lance got up and walked away.

Rav needed to cool down, in more ways than one, so after Lance left, he stripped off his tank and waded into the lake.

Daisy and Sammy were swimming back and forth between the shore and a wooden dock that was out several hundred yards in the water. The next time they got close, Rav joined the race. He wasn’t the most graceful swimmer in the world, or the fastest, but he had a lot of anger to burn off and he attacked the water like a demented mermaid. Even so, he reached the dock seconds after Sammy. Sammy bobbed in the water, his face split wide with a smile.

“You can swim!” he exclaimed, as if Rav had been holding out on him.

“‘Course I can swim. What do you think? I know everything.”

Daisy laughed. “Don’t believe him, Sammy. All men think that.”

“Oh I know he doesn’t know everything,” Sammy said coyly.

Sammy and Daisy exchanged a knowing glance. Rav decided to change the subject.

“I see you’re getting the hang of it.” Rav mimicked the overhead stroke.

“Yes, it’s much faster.” Sammy held out one long arm and turned it back and forth, looking at it critically.

“Rav, you can play with Sammy for a while. I’m gonna go eat now!” Daisy chirped.

“Don’t eat all the burgers. Save some for us,” Rav said sternly.

“He’s joking,” Sammy told her. “He’s so funny!” Humor was Sammy’s new thing, and he couldn’t get enough of old TCM comedies right now. Daisy just laughed and headed back to shore.

“Don’t mow all the grass!” Sammy called out after her. “And don’t spill all the Coke! Ha-ha!”

“You’re a goof,” Rav told him.

“What’s that mean?”

“That means you’re silly. It’s a compliment.”

Rav leveraged himself out of the water onto the wooden dock, his triceps bulging, and was slightly annoyed when Sammy swung up beside him so easily he might have weighed nothing at all. Rav wiped the water off his face and beard and smoothed back his hair. As usual, concepts of personal boundaries held no sway with Sammy, and he didn’t leave enough room between them for a whisper. His slick arm and side rubbed against Rav’s.

“You like the water, I see.” Rav said.

“Yes. I forgot how much! I used to swim when I was… young.”


“Yes. Swimming is very—” Sammy thought about it. “Refreshing.”

Rav smiled at Sammy fondly. The shimmering water and sun, and his slicked back hair, brought the lines of his face into sharp focus. God, he was changing so rapidly. It was a little, Rav imagined, like having a child. Parents were always saying things like “He’s growing so fast!” Only in Sammy’s case, it wasn’t his body, but his mind and behavior that were changing, and it at lightning speed. He liked using bigger words, picking them up from Rav or the TV or God-knows-where, all as though his brain were a dictionary database. He was getting more talkative, joking and laughing more. He was moving with more swagger too, acting like a tough guy, possibly, Rav realized, imitating Rav himself. It was almost sad to see the shy, awkward Sammy ebb away. Or it would have been, if the new, more confident Sammy were not so damned appealing. Rav loved seeing Sammy happy.

“Why do you look at me like that?” Sammy asked, his golden eyes staring back into Rav’s.

Rav blinked and looked away. “Sorry. Guess I was thinking about something else.”

“What? You must like it a whole lot. Your eyes were all melty.”

“Hmmm. Were they?”

Sammy didn’t push for an answer. He put his head on Rav’s shoulder. His wet hair was damp and cold where the sun had already warmed Rav’s skin.

My Review:
Rav Miller is a big, brawny biker with a heart of absolute gold, when it applies to dogs. People, not so much. He grew up in a family that thrived on making tons of cash in real estate and business, but he didn’t like the cut-throat, often not even legal, tactics they took to make more and more money. So, he stepped away and began rescuing dogs.

Over the years, he decided that opening a no-kill shelter was the best manner to his goal: more dog rescues. He even went to shelters in his area and rescued dogs tagged for destruction. A year ago, he met some strange men from Mad Creek, California; these guys helped him return all his animals from sheltering int he desert after vandals had turned the whole facility loose. Rav never forgot the experience, and he was struck by the intelligence in the eyes of some random dogs they’d brought along, including Milo. And, he sees that same spark of intelligence in Sammy, a shy chocolate lab.

Sammy’s first life was as a chocolate lab, and it began with a great start. He loved his owner, and she loved him, but she fell down the stairs one day and he was too scared to bark for help. Her sister took Sammy in when his first owner died. But, this woman’s husband was abusive and particularly hated Sammy. He hated when Sammy interfered while he was beating his wife, and he beat Sammy, too. He threatened to leave Sammy out in the snow during the winter, so she took him to a shelter. There he meets a dog who can turn into a man, one who insists Sammy will be able to do so if only he tries hard enough. Sammy isn’t sure if he can, but he also recognizes that he needs to get away from this shelter before his kill date comes up. He takes careful note of his dog-man-friend’s instruction on how to make it to Mad Creek and be safe. All Sammy needs to do is get adopted, however, he is terrified of large men and few families are willing to adopt him. His kill date draws lethally close. Until Rav comes along.

Rav tries to win Sammy’s trust, but it’s hard to do. Within a week, Sammy the dog goes missing. Rav’s speechless when he watches surveillance footage showing Sammy open his cage, and several doors, in order to release himself from captivity. Upon activating Sammy’s tracker, he follows his meandering labrador to Mad Creek, several hundred miles away. Two connections to Mad Creek in one year is too much coincidence, and Rav decides a road trip is necessary. Arriving, he cannot believe what he finds: lots and lots of doggy-acting humans. Is it magic, or science? If there’s any people Rav could love, it would be these remarkable dog-people.

Sheriff Lance Beaufort isn’t happy that Rav’s deciding to stay, but the whole town is overjoyed when Rav announces he’s planning to open a dog rescue in Mad Creek, and he’s willing to hire members from the community as staff: firstly, Sammy. He immediately notices how many unemployed people live in Mad Creek, and how thin the financial resources are stretched. Yet, working with Sammy shows Rav how easy it is to train the “quickened” dogs (who appear as people because they are dog shifters) in new, but repetitive, tasks. It’s first nature to them to do the same thing over and over, and it gets Rav’s brain working on potential industries he might be able to bring to Mad Creek, to provide jobs for the thousands of quickened who’d never adapt sufficiently to standard jobs in an unsheltered life.

While Sammy is falling head over tails for Rav, Rav’s doing the same with Sammy. Their relationship grows slowly, because Sammy is newly quickened and his physical body is more mature than his emotional or mental age. Plus, Sammy is still shy of large men, even in his human body. Still, being close with Rav is exciting and Sammy’s pals, like Milo, help him figure out how to become a physical lover. Rav’s patience and quiet love for the man-dog he’d rescued back in Arizona pays off, and Rav’s experience in business brings new life to Mad Creek. I don’t really want to discuss those details, because the intricate plotting is very sweet. The book is a bit of a slow burn, and has some dark moments, too. Like, Sammy’s experiences of abuse, and the way the Mad Creek folks try to run Rav out of town. Expect true love to win the day, Sheriff Lance to get a new partner in caring for Mad Creek, and the quickened to find new hope and industry. It’s tender adn sweet and gooey and I loved every second of it. While there’s no guarantee we’ll see another book in this series, I’m wishing on stars and howling at the moon for one.

Interested? You can find HOW TO SAVE A LIFE on Goodreads, Amazon (US or UK).


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And, don’t forget to  check out the previous books in this dog-gone fun series….


Eli EastonAbout the Author:
Eli Easton has been at various times and under different names a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a long-distance walker. She began writing m/m romance in 2013 and has published 27 books since then. She hopes to write many more.

As an avid reader of such, she is tickled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, two bulldogs, several cows, and a cat. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.

Eli currently publishes with Dreamspinner Press and has a few self-pubbed titles as well. She also publishes thrillers under the pen name: Jane Jensen.

Catch up with Eli on her website, Facebook, and twitter.
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