Book Blitz & Excerpt: Karma’s Kiss + Giveaway

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Karma’s Kiss by M.C. Roth

General Release Date: 26th April 2022

Word Count: 63,879
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 230

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description


Karma isn’t the worst curse to have after all.

Zack is running from his family, his past and a curse that has tainted his life since childhood. Fleeing his temporary home for the sake of his ex-boyfriend, Zack becomes stranded in a snow drift in the middle of nowhere, wearing nothing more than a spring jacket and an old pair of running shoes. Resigning himself to freezing to death, he is rescued by Eric, an irresistible man who treads the line between kindness and discourtesy.

Zack quickly realises that Eric’s home is a different kind of frozen hell. There is no electricity in the tiny one-room cabin, no running water and definitely no Wi-Fi.

But Eric is more than just a man. He is the only one who seems to be immune to Zack’s curse, and he has secrets of his own. Eric may be more dangerous than anything Zack has ever seen before.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and the death of a secondary character.

Excerpt

“No. No. No,” said Zack as he pushed the gas pedal all the way to the floor. The ancient car responded sluggishly, a full second passing before the engine vibrated with a purr that made his foot go numb. The bald tyres spun, trapped in a sheet of ice and snow that coated the road and the lone vehicle.

The storm sagged against the windshield as the wipers tried lethargically to keep up, leaving large, frosted streaks with every swipe. With each pass, the ice crystals grew denser, coating the wipers with budding globs of ice.

Another burst of wind battered the side of the car, fluttering against the door and buffeting the tiny cracks in the vehicle. A trickle of cold air brushed against his chilled knuckles, and a shiver cascaded though his body.

The vehicle lurched closer to the ditch that had disappeared into the blizzard’s cloud. The tyres caught, edging sideways in a frozen rut. He jerked at the steering wheel, but there was no response as he was buried deeper in the drifts.

Zack’s heart pounded as he lost control of the wheel and the engine sputtered. But he barely noticed as the car lurched into a stall or as the air got even colder through the flimsy heating vents. The storm was the furthest thing from his mind.

It had happened again. And, of course, it had chosen the moment when the biggest snowstorm of the decade was blowing its way across the lakes. The radar had probably gone from red to purple then black while he’d driven with no destination in mind.

The roads had been relatively clear a few hours before, when he had fled to his car, putting it straight into second gear before he even had his seat belt on. He had hit the highway, flipping a virtual coin to choose the exit he’d take before the heavy flakes had started drifting down from the grey sky.

He shuddered. His darkness—his curse—the thing had haunted him for as long as he could remember… It always seemed to choose the worst moments to rear its ugly, jealous head. This had to be one of the top five of all time, though.

He had tried to keep moving. He’d tried to leave before he could put anyone else at risk.

But he’d been sucked in by another pair of sweet blue eyes and a soft voice that had promised him a good night. That night had turned into a stream of great weeks and gentle touches that had him coming more consistently than he ever had.

The sex had been fantastic, if not a little bit soft, more often ending in his mouth or his hand—and not somewhere better, tighter and hotter. His nights hadn’t been cold in an empty hotel bed or on a couch that he had claimed during a stranger’s party. He had started to look forwards to waking up in the morning and seeing someone other than himself in his bed.

Then it had all gone wrong. One word and a spurned rejection, and his past had caught up with him with the force of a starving tiger. He’d staggered as he’d felt the blood drain from his face.

He had fled before anything could happen to the man who he had almost started to like. If he’d had the opportunity, he could have developed full-blown feelings, which were more dangerous than his curse.

He’d grabbed everything in sight that belonged to him, leaving more behind than he’d taken. His socks and underwear were lost beneath the bed and in the basket of laundry, but he hadn’t had the time to retrieve them. They weren’t the worst things that he’d ever left behind.

He’d had run to his ancient Honda, breathing hard by the time he had tugged the door open. As he’d sped away, he’d left another chunk of his past behind him, the sweet memories tainted by his bitter curse. The traffic had steadily thinned, until he was the only car in the midst of a forest that seconded as a snowy hell.

His trusty Honda was only five years younger than him and had more problems than he did, which was saying a lot. Its most recent issue was that it apparently couldn’t drive through more than two centimetres of fresh snow.

He fumbled with the key, glancing out into the bleak stretch of swirling snow as he tried to start the engine yet again. Stomping on the gas, he waited for the RPMs to climb into the red zone before popping the clutch and putting the car directly into second gear. First gear didn’t exactly work, and on ice, it was its own death trap.

There was a shuddering jerk that had relief flooding his gut, until the car rocked once and stalled back into silence. The dials dropped and the fuzzy radio station faded until the barest hint of the country song vanished under the sound of the wind.

“Shit,” he said as he slammed his hand against the steering wheel. It shuddered, barely holding on to its rigging after his repeated abuse. He could imagine the wheel finally tumbling off as he merged lanes on a highway doing one-hundred-and-thirty-five kilometres per hour. I’m lucky like that.

His palm ached from the hit and the cold that was steadily seeping into the car, but it didn’t stop him from slamming the wheel a second time. His thumb caught the edge of the horn, but the blaring sound was swept away on the wind.

The temperature inside the car noticeably dropped another few degrees, and his breath turned into a misty fog that coated everything it touched. The car’s heater was lukewarm at best, and without a working defrost, ice had started to crust on even the inside of the windshield.

He turned the key again as he popped the car back into neutral and pushed the clutch to the floor. He shivered as another gust of wind cut into the Honda. His thin jacket was best suited for balmy fall days, but it was the only one that had been in sight as he’d scrambled to leave. His toes were numb in his sneakers, and his hands? Well, he was afraid to look at them, because he wouldn’t be surprised if a few fingers were already missing. His gloves had been one of the many things that he had left behind, and his hands had been aching since the snow had started.

The car key turned under his hand, jingling with the other attached keys and mementos that he had picked up on his travels. There was a tiny metal sandal that he’d picked up in a beach town and an iron sun from a gift shop that he’d found in the middle of nowhere. The rest were worn, their edges smooth from their constant motion. He kept them close, so he wouldn’t have to look back and remember.

The key turned, with the promise of escape and a hint of heat. Silence. Not even a putter from the flooded engine. His gut churned as a shiver racked his body. It was so freaking cold, and according to the last clear announcement on the radio, the storm was just getting started.

He grappled with the horn, pushing the button as hard as he could. There had to be someone close by who would come to his rescue if they heard him honking. People in the city might not have looked twice, but he was pretty far into the wilderness, on the only road that probably ever saw a plough in winter. People were different out here—lonelier.

The button clicked under his palm as the battery finally gave out. The same battery had lasted him twenty years, so, of course, it would choose to fail him when he was about to lose his toes.

Zack took a shuddering breath as his vision blurred and his heart sank. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to keep the warmth from escaping. Perhaps everything was finally catching up with him. Freezing to death wouldn’t be the worst way to go. He’d seen worse before—so much worse. His stomach clenched as memories fluttered to the surface of his mind. He tried to push them away before he could retch.

“Look at the snow. Just look at the snow,” he said, holding himself tighter as he tried to focus on an individual flake in the whirling mass—anything to leave the flashes of his past behind.

Beyond the window he could see bits of the forest through the gaps in the gathering ice on the windshield. The road was nearly invisible, with no tyre tracks except his own behind him. Even those were almost gone now.

A green bough fluttered in the wind, dumping its heavy load onto the ground below it. A bird fluttered from the branch, battling against the wind as it took off. For a moment, it looked like it would lose the fight and be tossed into the nearest tree trunk. It pumped its wings faster, finally triumphing over the storm.

There were no hydro lines along the road or lamp posts that would guide a traveller along at night. It was a tourist’s nightmare. He cursed himself, wondering if he should’ve taken the other fork in the road that had probably led along a path that was closer to the city.

A smudge of colour caught his eye as it flashed along the very edge of the trees. The trunks grew close together, dark and foreboding within the mass, and their limbs danced and swayed in the wind, dumping the snow back to the earth with each pass. There was so much movement that he wondered if he had imagined the blur.

He squinted and leaned closer to the window, trying to make sense of it through the fluttering snow. It could have been a deer. He’d already seen a few along the way, looking ready to jump out at his car and double his insurance. Or it could have been a bear, given how far he’d come, although he’d only ever seen them on television. The dark beacon had looked too small to be the creature he’d seen on Planet Earth.

He spotted it again as the wind stilled and the blizzard cleared for a moment. It moved through the snow with a fluid grace that could only belong to an animal who could survive a harsh winter. Nothing battered or beaten lived in this cold, and no predator could thrive without hunting in the perpetual storm that was February.

It grew closer with every loping step, until it seemed larger than what he imagined a bear would be. It was fast, too, cutting through the drifts as if it weighed nothing. Zack knew how hard it was to walk through snow that deep, which was why he usually avoided it at all costs. That, and he really didn’t want to get his too-tight jeans wet.

Zack scrubbed the inside of the window with his nails, bits of ice stinging his numb fingertips. His breath frosted it over again, until everything blurred.

It could have been a dog with how dark the colouring was, but he’d never seen a dog that big. A bear would definitely make more sense, but according to the television, bears hibernated in the winter.

The ice on the window thickened into an opaque crystal as he pressed his forehead against it, desperate to see what was coming. It was running at a pace that was hardly possible over the covered ground, gliding over the snow without seeming to disturb it at all.

A bubble of fear simmered in his gut as he pictured a bear breaking through his window with its massive, clawed paws. He was small enough that he wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight, but there was still enough meat on him to make a decent meal, he supposed.

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes to try to ground himself. The wind around him paused, the car going suddenly still and silent. He snapped his eyes back open, looking through the tiny gaps from his fingertips. There was nothing but the dark tree trunks capped with pure white.

The seat creaked as he freed himself from the seatbelt and lifted himself to his knees, pressing against a strip of clear glass. He blinked, rubbing his eyes to remove the imagined fog, but nothing appeared. The snow was undisturbed, except for the partially covered ruts from his own tyres. There were no footprints, and no animal was out in the wind.

I’m officially losing my mind.

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About the Author

M.C. Roth

M.C. Roth lives in Canada and loves every season, even the dreaded Canadian winter. She graduated with honours from the Associate Diploma Program in Veterinary Technology at the University of Guelph before choosing a different career path.

Between caring for her young son, spending time with her husband, and feeding treats to her menagerie of animals, she still spends every spare second devoted to her passion for writing.

She loves growing peppers that are hot enough to make grown men cry, but she doesn’t like spicy food herself. Her favourite thing, other than writing of course, is to find a quiet place in the wilderness and listen to the birds while dreaming about the gorgeous men in her head.

Find out more about M.C. Roth at her website.

Giveaway

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Heart’s Ease + Giveaway

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Heart’s Ease by Mimi B. Rose

Word Count: 70,954
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 286

GENRES:

BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

 

Her mysterious past holds the key to protecting his clan.

Between helping teens at an After-School Art Club and trying to publish her granny’s fairy tales, Chantelle’s life still feels somehow unfulfilled.

When his father and older brother died, Charles was forced into the role of Alpha. Three years later, he still hasn’t dealt with the loss. Now a rival pack is stirring up trouble in his grandmother’s hometown, and he must investigate.

But that is only where the mystery begins. There’s something else going on and it starts with the mysterious and beautiful Chantelle. The secrets of her past and her untrained magical abilities hold the key to the rival pack’s attacks. And when they discover that sorcery is behind the violence against women and children in the territory, they have to trust each other and forge a connection.

But is their bond strong enough to protect the pack and fulfil a Fated Mates prophecy, or will they lead the pack, and their love, to ruin?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of racism, violence and attempted/threatened sexual assault. There is reference to past memory modification and the off-screen death of a teen.

Excerpt

Chantelle Mizuki didn’t want to die today.

I’m wearing old underwear. With holes. Nobody is going to see them. No nurse, no doctor, no coroner. Nobody.

Chantelle’s footsteps crunched in the autumn leaves of the mountain forest. Night was falling. Wolves were howling.

Real wolves.

Granny Ceci’s voice rang in her ears. “Don’t go in the forest at dusk, mon chou.”

Too late, Granny.

She hadn’t planned to be out this late. It was light when the After-School Art Club finished at the library. She had asked her student Alfonso to stay and talk about his application for art school. By the time they were done, the sun was low in the sky. Only after Alfonso had left did she discover she’d locked her keys in the car.

In the daytime, everyone used the path through the woods to get to the other side of the village in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. She loved the soft pine needles underfoot, tall trunks stretching their branches to the sky, soothing fragrances of moss and fern. During the day Chantelle expected to stumble across Snow White singing and dancing among the trees.

Night-time was different. Every noise was menacing, every shadow a predator waiting for her to stray off the path.

Chantelle kept to the darkened trail, wishing those howls and barks were getting fainter. The sounds of the forest were soothing when she was tucked into Granny Ceci’s gingerbread cottage—her cottage now. This evening, those sounds took on ominous undertones.

She remembered Granny Ceci telling her, “Ma cocotte, the Laurentian Mountains are home to many creatures, some fair, some foul. Be prepared for both.” Tonight, it was the foul creatures. Why couldn’t it be chipmunks or raccoons?

Another howl wailed over the tops of the trees. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. One step in front of the other. You can do this.

Soon she reached the edge of the village. Only a quarter of a mile left. Past Marie’s big house on the hill, through the ravine, then up the path to the top of her street.

No problem. She had survived book signings with dozens of cranky children and their bad-tempered parents. She had run off her cheating no-good boyfriend. A wolf or two? No sweat.

She picked up her pace to a jog. Her legs were aching, her chest heaving. At the very least she’d have a funny story to tell Yvette and Kat. Well, it would be funny if she made it home in one piece.

The recent wolf sightings had everyone in town worried. The wolves were larger than usual, more vicious. They had even killed some dogs. Villagers were warned to stay away from the woods at night. She knew her woodcraft and carried her multi-tool at all times, but that wouldn’t be enough to stop a feral wolf.

Of course, today was the day she’d locked her keys in the car. She’d forgotten to take her ADHD medication. And her publisher called in the afternoon to say they were passing on her “passion project,” as they’d called it. Illustrating Granny Ceci’s stories and having them published were a way to honour her grandmother’s legacy. But her reputation as a children’s story illustrator was not opening doors for the collection of folk tales. Her usual collaborator hadn’t helped at all. He didn’t want his favourite illustrator distracted from his own book projects.

Was the howling closer now? Or was it her imagination? She crouched by a small cluster of sumac bushes. Her heart raced. The wind whistled through the treetops, clattering in the dying leaves.

There was a clearing ahead. What a relief! It was the small field behind her neighbour’s house. Marie, a dear friend of Granny Ceci’s, lived on the edge of the village. The little meadow divided the forest from her garden, which was enclosed by a stone wall.

There would be a large blue spruce at the northern edge of the clearing. The conical silhouette of the tree stood tall against the dying light. Three shadows, large and shaggy, skulked at the base.

She spared half a breath for one of Granny’s favourite curse words.

Could she make it to Marie’s house? She should move slowly, deliberately, not run. But rabid or savage wolves would still attack. If they came for her, she would have to run along the perimeter.

She was stuck. Sweat trickled down her back.

I need a plan. If she got out of this, she could move back to Montreal. There was nothing keeping her here. Granny had died last year. Why was she still here? Pull yourself together, girl!

The moon burst out from behind a cloud.

One of the wolves looked up, the cool light illuminating his outline. He cocked his head and looked in her direction. He howled, long and low. The other two wolves nosed him, turning towards her. Could they see her?

She sent a silent prayer up to Ceci. Wherever you are, please help me.

The wolves paced at the edge of the clearing, whining and sniffing the air.

She had to move. Maybe make a commotion once she got closer to the garden wall. Marie might hear.

She breathed in and out. Now. She took a cautious step.

One of the wolves inclined his head. Had he seen her? Another step.

He pointed his muzzle at her, his tail arching over his back. Two steps.

The lead wolf pushed off on his hind legs, padding towards her position. The others followed on his tail.

Ben l’on! Granny would have said. Oh, come on!

She sprinted towards the wooden gate in the middle of the stone wall.

They reached her in the clearing. The largest one growled, ears and tail erect. His eyes looked odd—orange, almost glowing. Impossible. It must be a reflection of the moonlight.

These wolves were big. And their faces looked funny—no, not funny, just strange. Almost human-like.

Heart racing, Chantelle took a step back.

The wolves advanced, circling her. They weren’t acting like regular wolves. What was going on?

The leader surged forward, snarling. She backed up and bumped into another wolf. The wolf behind her made a huffing noise that sounded almost like a laugh. Goosebumps broke out on her arms. Was this the end?

The largest one snapped at her leg. As she stepped back, her knees buckled and she fell to the unforgiving ground beneath her. Tears stung her eyes as she scrabbled in the grass and dirt. He descended on her and sunk his teeth in her calf. She batted at him, a shrill scream erupting from her throat. She had to get away.

The other wolves nipped at her arms as she pulled back, dodging their snouts and paws. She searched for purchase on the ground. They dragged her across the ground, away from the wall.

Fear churned in her stomach. Her heart beat fast as she struck at the wolves. Then something changed, fear turning into anger in her chest. Tingling sensations erupted into a warmth across her chest. Her ears buzzed.

What’s going on?

Some kind of energy bubbled from her middle. Rising up, it surged from her core out towards her arms and legs. It felt strange, yet familiar somehow.

The buzzing increased, changing into a burning sensation. A shooting pain in her leg snapped her attention back to the wolves. Sliding along the ground, she reached for the wolf attached to her leg. She smiled as she caught hold. His fur was matted, his bulk solid beneath her fingers.

The low droning made her ears itch and blocked out the growls of her attackers. Her field of vision telescoped into her hands, legs, and torso in front of her.

Anger surged within her. She pushed out from her diaphragm. Energy tingled and sparked, hot and strong. It poured down her arms and into her hands. When she shoved against her attacker, something blue zapped out of her palms.

The wolf let go when the blast hit him. Falling back a few inches, he shook his head and coat.

Growling, ears back, he pushed forward. The lights in his eyes glowed. The wolves regrouped and closed in.

I’m going to die here. With no one present to hear a snappy parting line.

A spotlight came on, almost blinding her. A rifle shot rang in the air and the creatures froze. Out from the garden gate stepped a small figure.

Marie!

The ancient woman leaned forward, hefting a rifle that was almost as tall as she was. Her red plaid jacket was three sizes too big and hung down to her knees. She peered out from thick glasses beneath a dark green hunter’s cap.

“Allez-y vous, sales chiens!” The old woman’s Québécois accent was thick but her tone was unmistakable.

Chantelle sucked in a big breath. She shuddered and turned to her attackers. The larger brown wolf swung his head towards her.

Another shot grazed the attacker’s mud-coloured fur. Yelping, he jumped out of the ring of light. He whined, pawing the ground, the other wolves huffing beside him. He glanced over at the old woman.

A new growl, low and menacing, rumbled by the gate. Beside Marie was a large dog, ears back, tail up. They moved forward in unison. The wolves backed away from Chantelle.

The lead wolf slunk towards the trees with his two companions. Looking back, he howled once before the trio disappeared into the night.

Chantelle pushed up from the ground, relief warring with the fear and pain. She tried to stand but her leg throbbed. The bite marks oozed blood. Her feet shuffled forward as she held her elbow against her side. Had they bitten her arm too?

She reached towards Marie by the gate.

Then she was falling.

Strong arms wrapped around her. A low voice murmured and Marie’s voice answered. She was being lifted up, arms carrying her to warmth. The voices faded away.

Her fingers touched a soft blanket. How long had she been out? A fire crackled nearby. Gentle hands prodded at the bite.

She faded out again.

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About the Author

Mimi B. Rose

Mimi B. Rose writes fantastic tales filled with steamy enchantment and tender-hearted fulfilment to thrill strong women. As a teen she read V.C. Andews’s Flowers in the Attic and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and she was hooked on fantasy romance and paranormal romance. Some of her favourite tv shows are Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, and Once–and the reboot of Beauty and the Beast starring Kirstin Kreuk (does anyone remember that series?).

She loves all kinds of shifters and vampires. Her all-time favourite authors are Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, and more recently Richelle Mead.

Mimi likes a sassy heroine who is independent but finds a strong hero who can keep up with her and treasure her for their uniqueness–including her flaws!

Check out Mimi’s website.


 

Giveaway

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Honor + Giveaway

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Honor by January Bain

Book 3 in the Sin City Wolf series

Word Count: 66,315
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 255

Genres:

BILLIONAIRE
EROTIC ROMANCE
PARANORMAL
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

 

Never run from a wolf!

Isadora Champagne is a witch on a dangerous mission—to take down Lucius Luceres. That bad boy alpha billionaire doesn’t deserve to have it all his way. Thinks he can dump her baby sister and get away with it! But now that she’s met the shifter, keeping her heart safe from him is going to take more than the curse she laid on him…it just might cost her a pact with the devil himself.

Lucius of the House of Luceres is an alpha werewolf, secure in his bad-to-the-bone reputation. But when confronted by the beautiful Isadora one fateful night, even he can’t ignore the extreme attraction that instantly ignites between them. But what he hadn’t counted on was how useful her magic gifts can be to the House of Luceres when one of their own goes missing.

Will he be able to set aside the centuries of mistrust between witches and shifters and allow her special brand of courage and caring to heal even the most jaded heart?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of mild violence, fated mates and references to inadequate parenting.

Excerpt

Lucius

“Look! There’s a halo around the moon tonight, Lucius. You know what that means?” Veronica purred. Her mouth was coated in far too much red lipstick for my liking, though I more than appreciated her luscious body and adventurous spirit.

“What do you think it means?” I asked, not particularly interested in her take on it. I couldn’t imagine the notorious party girl having done much digging into mythology or history.

If I wanted facts, my twin brothers, Maximus and Alexandro, would be the ones I’d call on. One of the things I did like about Veronica’s type though—easy to forget. I didn’t need any complications as enforcer for the House of Luceres beyond those necessary to protect my pack.

“It means something momentous is on its way. Could be good. Or evil. It depends on the intentions of the spirit.” Veronica shivered for effect in a dress that barely covered essentials. She looked up at me, her eyes huge, reflecting not only the light of the roaring bonfire kept alight for the entirety of the Lupercalia festival, but I swear I caught a glimpse of myself.

Easy to look at, I’ve been told. Like all my pack brothers, I kept my GQ looks highlighted with exercise and good grooming. And all the Luceres were blessed with good genetics and lots of money.

The howling of a lone wolf in the distance cut short the woman’s unexpected announcement and I went on high alert. In the desert, on a clear night such as this, sound was deceptive. The interloper could be miles away…or nearby.

I glanced around the firepit, checking out the pack members milling about. Emily, one of the cousins, was dancing with wild abandon. I frowned. Wasn’t she a bit young for this? The festival was notorious for events that would curl a human’s hair. Rumors abounded and things that probably should not happen…happened.

Case in point, headed right toward me was a former one-night stand, her finger pointed at me like she had something to say. Something I was certain I would prefer not to hear. What was her name again? Serena, Simona, Sawyer…

Before it came to me, she was right up in my face. “Lucius Luceres, I got some…thing to say to you you’re not go…ing to like.” She poked at me with a sharp red fingernail, her words slurring and her body language suggesting something vastly different.

“Step back, if you know what’s good for you, cur!” Veronica yelled at her.

“What you go…ing to do about it?”

Right, Simone, one of the more jealous ones. Why was one night never enough for them? Not like I ever promised anything more. I stepped back. Let them have at it. A gorgeous female standing farther from the fire winked at me, her eyes taking in the foolish provocation with obvious interest. I gave her my patented cool-billionaire smile.

She replied with an air kiss, pulling me forward with all the magnetic pull of true north. Just the way I liked it. And man, those curves, highlighted in a tight dress that leaves nothing to the imagination.

“Hey, where are you going?” Veronica quickly noticed my mental desertion…soon to be followed by a physical one.

I turned back and sighed. The two women had each other by the hair. Soon they’d shift, by the look of things. I didn’t want the hassle, but after all, I had caused it, even though they’d both been warned that I never dated.

“Come on, ladies, the festival is almost over. Wouldn’t you rather be having fun than fighting?”

“This is fun! I’m going to beat her ass!” And with that Veronica shed her clothes and shifted, one second vanishing through the otherworldly portal in a shimmer of light, and in the next back again as a blue-eyed gray wolf. It had been explained to me by my scholarly brothers that the dimension was only one of the eleven that create the multiverse. Whatever. I was just satisfied it worked.

I mean, who doesn’t want to be wolf?

One second later, Simone followed Veronica, her leaner and meaner wolf appearing in a flash of light. Of course, she was the more perturbed of the two, giving her the edge. The pair squared off. Simone growled as she lowered her head to bully her opponent, the thick ruff on her spine fully erect.

Instantly, others picked up on the change of energy. Bodies began streaming in from everywhere, surrounding the two females in mere seconds. This was what the pack wanted. Craved. The music shifted, became a louder drumbeat that stirred the blood.

I gave a nonchalant shrug to the gorgeous female on the sidelines watching the antics as if to say, What can I do? Females will be females. She rolled her eyes.

Turning back to the action, I decided not to intervene in the fight, not unless they began to inflict real damage. These kinds of fights could be more about posturing than anything else, useful for ratcheting down minor disagreements and aggressions. Which was why this festival was held in the first place. It allowed pack members time to listen to their wolf, step away from the imposing limits of civilization. Freedom, baby.

But I had apparently misjudged the level of anger and animosity between the pair. Claws and fur flying, they lunged at each other, rolling in the desert sand and sending a blanket of dust into the air.

The crowd roared their approval. Someone had appointed themselves the holder of the bets and numbers were being tossed around the ring like confetti. Eager faces, alight with the excitement I’d imagine rather common to the Colosseum of ancient days, began to holler loudly for their favorite. Seemed that Simone was holding sway, her anger the most apparent to the catcalling crew. Hell, half of them were half undressed now, probably looking to take a turn.

Great, a bloom of blood had appeared on Veronica’s fur. Now I had to shift. Not really a bad thing, as I loved to be wolf. The power, the freedom, the pure sense of being removed from this world—it didn’t get any better.

I shucked my clothing, knowing I was being checked out by the new female. Have at it. I’m choice. I jumped into the fray and in seconds, had Veronica by the scruff of the neck, subjecting her to dominance, forcing her to give over to her alpha. She whined, then lay down. Simone stood on four stiffened paws, her tongue lolling, still defying me.

I flew at her, catching her by the throat, taking her down to the ground. Not hard enough to break the skin, but enough to inflict some pain. She needed to learn her place.

When she gave me proper respect, I let her slink away, then dusted myself off and redressed. The interested female was still watching, and I nodded at her. She sauntered over, her spectacular hips swaying to the rhythmic beat of the snare drum one of the pack members was pounding on, her smile coy.

The crowd clapped and stamped their feet loudly, naked breasts bouncing to the delight of the males who watched with approval, obviously having enjoyed the show. Money was paid out to the victors and backs were slapped. Just another night at the Lupercalia. And mild compared to some events I won’t get into.

“Nice moves,” she said, getting closer enough to pick an imaginary piece of lint from my jacket.

“I aim to please.”

“I take it you’re not worried that a rare witch moon is causing chaos this night?” The new female pointed at the night sky. A dark cloud was now creeping across the luminous surface, lending an even more eerie appearance to proceedings.

Witch moon? Where did you hear that?” A cold finger traced my spine. I shook the odd sensation off. An old wives’ tale.

“Big strong wolf like you—you have nothing to fear.”

Never trust a witch.

The warning from an elderly Italian relative came to mind. Well, not like I had any in my pack or knew of any in my round of acquaintances. And I certainly wouldn’t bed one. Now, the wolf throwing herself at me at the moment, sure.

I’m partial to blondes and easy tail…

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About the Author

January Bain

January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full-blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create a series that features strong women who don’t take life too seriously, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She can only hope the stories of her beloved Brass Ringers will capture your imagination as much as they did hers when she wrote them.

If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with two furry babies trying to prove who does a better job of guarding the doorway. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously replied to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.

If you wish to connect in the virtual world, she is easily found on Facebook, Twitter and writes a weekly blog about her journey on Blogger. Oh, and she loves to talk books…


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