This year has been eventful to say the least. Almost every day there seems to be things that happen that can make your heart hurt. As an author I tend to express myself through words. When the invasion of Ukraine started I was stunned and felt helpless to do something positive to make a difference.
The first thing I did was to donate money to World Central Kitchen which waded into the devastation and started to feed people. It felt good to help, but I didn’t want to leave it at donations to make sure that people had access to warm, comforting food in the middle of the crisis.
Later, I was asked if I wanted to be a part of a group anthology to raise funds for Unicef and their world in Ukraine.
When I was a kid I carried the little orange UNICEF box around at Halloween, loving the sound that coins made against each other and cardboard sides. Helping to contribute to them gave me the same giddy, happy feeling inside.
As my contribution to the anthology, I was inspired by stories of dancers in and from Ukraine.
I was a dancer for most of my life. Ballet, tap, jazz, hula, flamenco… I loved that form of expression as well and if you ever peek into my closet you’ll see my favorite pointe shoes and some of the costume pieces that I’ve worn through the years. So, my heroine in this story is a dancer.
A ballet dancer whose mother is from Ukraine, but she was raised in Center City. Her childhood friend, Jay, became her best friend and while she left the US to become part of a national Ukrainian Ballet Company, she’d never lost touch with Jay.
Until the invasion.
Jay, who is called Raffe, by his First Responder family, takes a leave of absence to find Mila and make sure she’s okay. His plan to talk her into coming back to the US is the center of this romance novella.
I’m going to write their whole story later, but for now, you can read “Far & Away” in Happily Ever Afters for Hope.
I hope that you’ll take the opportunity to share the love!
Happily Ever Afters For Hope is an anthology with over a dozen stories from some of your favorite authors. Each story features a couple (many fan favorites!) living out their hard-earned happily ever afters. 100% of the royalties from this collection will be donated to UNICEF to support their efforts in Ukraine. This anthology will only be available for a limited time, so make sure you one-click your copy before it’s too late!
Authors include: Tara Wyatt, Roxie Noir, Zoe York, Nicole Burnham, Lainey Davis, Kimberly Kincaid, Alexa Rivers, Arell Rivers, S.E. Rose, Lori Ryan, Kelly Siskind, Tru Taylor, Reina Torres, Marie Tuhart, and Sara Whitney
Don’t miss out on this feel-good collection in support of a good cause!
Writing the Guardian Security series has been and continues to be one of my most rewarding projects. Moving Target, Book 1, has been through several revisions. It was the very first book I wrote but not the first one I published. It changed personality several times before it hit the marketplace.
When I was writing it, everyone in the group of authors I belonged to helped me and gave me advice. One of the things they told me was, “Write about things you know and use familiar areas as settings.”
Moving Target is set in a small Texas town just like the one we lived in at the time and the hero’s house is the house we had built.
I struggled to get that first book finished, mostly because the plot I had just wasn’t working. Then I read Cry No More by Linda Howard. I wrote Moving Target (at that time titled Run for Your Life) in an effort to create a hero like Linda Howard’s Diaz. It was successful and inspired me to create the series.
Silencing Memories, Book 2, was based in part of a plot from an episode of CSI. And the Vanetta ranch is based on one just outside San Antonio, Texas, close to where we lived. Killing Lies, Book 3, came from an idea I got from a friend of mine talking about a friend of hers!
Running Scared, Book 4, came from some articles I read about the illegal use of digital games in the espionage business. And Finding Redemption, Book 5, was born when I read an article about Mexico’s Quintana Roo Jungle. But mostly, I wanted to base a hero on the man who was my son’s closest friend and who died way too soon of a heart attack.
The latest release in the series, Missing Pieces, features Dino Brancuzzi, the best friend of the star of Finding Redemption, who is based on a friend of my son. Many of Ethan Caine’s characteristics showed up in Dino, and I wanted to tell his story. Also, I have a huge fascination with civilian Black Ops stories.
This entire series holds a very special place in my heart, and I hope you will take the journey through all of the books to meet some very interesting characters and go on some exciting adventures.
Here’s a taste of the first five books in the series and then keep reading for Chapter One from Missing Pieces.
They’re trying to kill her, and she doesn’t know why…
Kathryn Holt knows only that she has to get far away as fast as she can. In a frantic, cross-country odyssey, she transforms from pliable Kathryn to feisty, determined Kate Miller, staying one step ahead of the killers on her trail. Then Fate delivers her into the hands of a dark knight with a tortured past. The safety he offers is as tempting as he is.
After having his perfect life ripped apart, recluse Quinn sees protecting Kate as his chance for redemption. He never plans on wanting the guarded beauty, never mind falling for her. Denying the explosive chemistry between them is useless, and as danger closes in, he must fight to expose the killer or risk history repeating itself.
Just when architect Alexis Craig thinks she’s gotten her life back on track, the terrible nightmares return, and out of nowhere, a stalker sends note to her office. Photos follow, then emails, and she can’t dismiss the threat any longer. Hiring security seems the logical answer, but there’s nothing logical about her body’s reaction to the sinfully sexy expert bent on keeping her safe.
Guardian Security partner Nick Vanetta believes there’s more behind the situation than a simple fixation, and he wonders if the answer is buried somewhere in her past. As they dig deeper into her family history, the sizzling attraction between them burns hotter and the job becomes much more than playing bodyguard to this headstrong woman. To protect the woman he loves, he must find the stalker…before it’s too late.
After her husband was killed and she lost her unborn child, Sarah Madison believed she’d never find love and happiness again. Instead, she has channeled all her energy into her job as assistant to the sexy CEO of Guardian Security. When he proposes a marriage of convenience, the chance to become a mother is tempting, and so is her new prospective husband. His only flaw—the distance he keeps between himself and his sweet little daughter.
Reno Sullivan’s life is a mess. His first marriage was based on a lie, and the fiery death of his wife left him to raise a baby—a constant reminder of his wife’s deceit. He desperately needs someone to mother the child and take charge of his personal life, and his no-nonsense assistant is perfect for the job. Unfortunately, the alluring woman in the bedroom next to his chips away at his determination to maintain the hands-off clause in their agreement and the ice around his heart.
A near-tragedy and Reno’s fear of love could kill Sarah’s hopes of turning their fake marriage into happily ever after…
When computer program designer Zoraya “Zoe” Lombardo wakes up next to her business partner’s dead body with a gun in her hand and no memory of what happened, the first thing she does is run. The second thing she does is call the one person she trusts to help her—the man she abandoned two years ago. He’s not as bossy as she remembers, but he’s sexier than ever. She made a mistake not listening to his warnings, and she’s more than willing to kiss and make up…if she can just stay alive long enough.
Zak Delaney, partner in Guardian Security, never expected to hear from his ex-fiancee again. After Zoe left, it took him a long time to put himself back together. Now he must cast aside his hurt and anger in order to protect her. He’ll have to rely on his resources at Guardian Security to clear her name and every ounce of his self-control not to fall for her charms again. But as danger closes in, Zak will have to learn to trust Zoe as much as she trusts him or face losing her again…and this time for good.
Lisa Mallory’s marriage from hell ended with her husband’s unsolved murder. Four years later, her eight-year-old son, Jamie, is kidnapped. When every other avenue of finding him fails, she turns to her brother’s best friend. He’s not the man she’d have chosen, but to get her son back, she’ll suffer anything…even the desire he stirs that she’d thought long dead.
Ethan Caine, former Marine/special ops agent, is dealing with his own private hell. All he wants is to be left alone with a bottle of whiskey to drown the guilt of surviving a mission gone wrong. When he finally agrees to go after Jamie, he certainly doesn’t want the boy’s mother slowing him down. Besides, she makes him ache to have her naked and beneath him. Worse, she stirs dreams of the future…something he doesn’t deserve.
Passion explodes between Ethan and Lisa in the exotic Quintana Roo jungle, even as the past and present threaten to steal it all.
Ten years ago, Jen LaCroix left Dino Brancuzzi carrying a big secret. Now, her life is in danger and he’s the only man she can trust.
When a valuable shipment disappears from the museum where she works, the finger points to her and the number of dangerous people after her continues to increase. Leaving that secret, Dino’s nine-year-old daughter, Deanne, with Ethan Caine, Jen finds a place to hide in the Caribbean.
Dino is stunned to discover he has a daughter and immediately launches a search to find Jen and protect her. He might have made the biggest mistake by not realizing in time that he loved her all those years ago, but can he forgive her for keeping the child a secret?
Read Chapter One from Missing Pieces
A suburb of Detroit, Michigan
Jennifer LaCroix took a breath in an attempt to still her galloping pulse and get herself under control. What an unbelievable mess this was. And just how had it all ended up in her lap, anyway? It had to be Sutherland, that jerk, pointing his finger in her direction. She’d never liked him or trusted him, not in all the years she’d worked at the museum, and now she had even more reason not to.
Chaos reigned all around her. A shipment of antiquities, the largest yet, was scheduled to arrive at the museum for a special show. They’d be on display for three months, thanks to the owner who’d loaned them, and the entire shipment had somehow disappeared. Craig Sutherland, the museum director, swore he’d never signed for them, but the shipping company driver insisted he had. Meanwhile, they were missing.
In the ten years Jen had worked here, she’d never seen such pandemonium. But of course, a disaster like this had never happened before, either. When the discovery was made three days ago that the latest shipment of artifacts had gone missing, everyone went crazy. Of course, they did. Those artifacts were rare and uber costly. Some even said priceless. Crazy was a mild term for how it had been since then. FBI agents were all over the place, and the museum board was everywhere, scrutinizing everyone and everything. Giving everyone the third degree.
The board was also doing its best to clamp a lid on things, because if the owners of the artifacts heard, there’d be ten kinds of hell to pay. The blowback might even cause the museum to close. The story was all over the media, the board was in an uproar, the staff was in a panic.
Sutherland was sweating bullets, despite his efforts to maintain control. Major donors were involved in the museum, many of them thanks to his efforts. If they all pulled their support, the place would definitely close. No wonder Roger Welborn, the chairman of the board of directors of the museum, was raising holy hell and rightfully so. He was angrier than she’d ever seen him. It was almost as if they’d been stolen from him personally. Thank the lord, at least, he wasn’t here today, throwing his weight around, telling her how the museum was his responsibility and if she knew anything at all, she’d better tell him or get herself a good lawyer.
Sutherland, who was also her immediate boss, still denied any involvement, of course. Said he hadn’t even been at the museum the day the shipment arrived. That it was scheduled for a different day. The driver was now nowhere to be found, and the signature on the receiving form was totally illegible.
And now, here she was, headed yet again for the room the federal agents were using. Why? She’d already told them everything she knew at least five times. Answered their questions a million times. But the damn suits had summoned her for questioning yet again. Summoned! Read the rest of this entry »
As a writer, I’m fascinated by women who use their agency to tell their own stories or stories others need to hear. This is particularly true of formerly enslaved women like Ida B. Wells Barnett, Harriet Jacobs, and Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley. I’d like to share today about Elizabeth.
In 1818, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born into slavery in Virginia. The family that owned her allowed her to learn to read and write. She also learned sewing, the skill that eventually set her up in her own business. While still enslaved, her owners moved her to Missouri in 1846 where she used her sewing talent to raise money for her owners. It was here that she first caught Mary Todd Lincoln’s attention.
Elizabeth’s owners agreed to set her and her son free if she could raise $1,200. By 1855 with the help of vigilance committees, she was able to raise the money. She used her skills as a seamstress to pay back these loans. In 1860, she moved to Washington D.C. and built a dressmaking business thanks to referrals from Varina Davis, the wife of Jefferson Davis. One of Elizabeth’s patrons ordered a dress from her for the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. This patron recommended her as a dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln. The rest as they say is history.
She was an integral part of the Lincoln household and recounts her life with them as part of her memoir, Behind the Scenes: Or Thirty Years A Slave and Four in the White House. However, the work was not as well-received as the narratives of other former slaves. Her recounting was seen as a breach of trust between her and Mary Lincoln. The book had poor sales, and she lost customers because of the controversy it created. The White House Historical Association has a fuller account of her life as a slave and her time in the White House on their website:
She did not let the book’s reception get her down. She defended what she did and continued to help others by teaching other Black women how to sew and founding two organizations to aid other Blacks: the Contraband Relief Association, a relief organization for Blacks freed by Northern troops and had come to Washington D.C. as “contraband of war,” and the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children. In 1892 she moved to Ohio to accept the position as head of the Department of Sewing and Domestic Science Arts at Wilberforce University. It is believed she suffered a stroke and returned from there to Washington D.C. where she died in the hospital she helped found. She was eighty-nine years old.
I love learning about women like Elizabeth Keckley, women who used their abilities to make life better for themselves and others. Her life is a witness to perseverance and encourages me to press on at a time when parts of our society seem hell-bent on stripping women of their rights. Share a story of your own about persistence in the comments for a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card.
One Breath Away
Sentenced to hand for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
An excerpt from One Breath Away…
Home at last, she’d see if meeting Eban meant this night would be good.
Since her ordeal, her sex rivaled the Chihuahuan Desert in dryness. Yet Eban’s gaze had summoned the fragrant flow that even now moistened her core. Could it be her body had finally healed? She swayed, dizzy with expectation.
The squeak of the indoor pump provided no distraction from the lingering tingle where Eban’s fingers had rested against her spine, where his lips had kissed her hand. She focused on her task to temper her excitement.
Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket. Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket.
The pans she filled slowly simmered then steamed on her small, pot-bellied stove.
Her heart seized as she fingered the simple gingham curtains covering Harvest Home’s windows. Harvest Home’s humble kitchen contrasted sharply with the trappings that had graced Mary’s Manor, her Weston restaurant expansion.
She’d looked up the word manor and decided her place would imitate that kind of luxury as much as possible. Brocaded drapes and white, linen tablecloths had dressed up the Manor’s supper room. Slipcovers made from the same linen covered the cushioned chairs. White, bone china and delicate silverware completed the picture of elegant dining she hoped to draw.
A Franklin stove, indoor pump, double sink, polished counter tops and spacious storage cupboards made the Manor’s kitchen a dream made true. Nothing lacked for the grand opening. Picturing couples enjoying themselves in her simple but elegant setting had become her favorite pastime.
Then Judah Little and his lies thwarted her plans. Thwarted. A good word. A true word.
“But not for long,” she whispered. “That dream will come true just as this dream might come true tonight.”
My favorite romance trope of all time is Beauty and The Beast.
One love interest is scarred and surly and believes they are unlovable. The other love interest is beautiful and optimistic and is bursting with love.
They are complete opposites, yet they work. They’re magical together.
I can read this trope again and again, whether it is the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale version or a steamy paranormal romance with a beast shifter in the beast role.
And I write this trope again and again. Each couple (or more) is different because each character is different. They have different histories, different traumas, different ways of withdrawing or hiding themselves from their unique worlds.
Often the beasts in my stories are the heroes. I tend to put myself in the place of the heroine when I read or write and my fantasy is being with the beast.
In Provoking Odium, my latest Cyborg Romance, however, the human heroine claims that role.
Briella is nicknamed Beast for several reasons. She appears fearless, taking on missions deemed too dangerous by others. She is a skilled pilot, a “beast” in the air. No one can fly a freighter through space like she can. She is also scarred, both physically and emotionally. Having been rejected in the past, she now pushes other beings away. She doesn’t allow anyone to get close to her…in any way.
Odium, in contrast, is physically perfect. He’s a cyborg, and they don’t manufacture unsightly cyborgs. (grins) He isn’t, what I would view as, optimistic or sunny in temperament. But he does have quite a few friends and most beings like him.
He wants to claim Briella as his female more than he has ever wanted anything or anyone else. She is his genetic match, and she is also his soul mate.
She’d realize that IF she stopped avoiding him. Odium is persistent and he is determined to care for Briella and protect her. He’s willing to give up his lifespan to do that.
What is your favorite Beauty And The Beast romance?
A Beautiful Cyborg
While accompanying his leader on a mission, Odium, an E Model cyborg, hears a distress call over the communication lines. The voice on that message makes his circuits surge with energy and all his systems light up. He has to respond to the mysterious female, would risk his lifespan and the lifespans of everyone on board their ship to protect her.
A Human Female Others Call Beast
Briella gained her nickname due to her flying abilities, her fearlessness, and her scarred countenance. Her verbal-only relationship with the sexy cyborg who answers her distress call is a steamy yet short-lived fantasy. His kind is physically perfect, and she is…not. He will uncover that truth when…if they survive the attack upon her freighter.
Provoking Odium is a STANDALONE Cyborg SciFi Romance set in a dark, gritty, sometimes-violent universe.
It features a human female intent on remaining mysterious, a cyborg warrior determined to uncover her identity, and an enemy seeking to destroy them both before they have the opportunity to meet.
Who says hobbies can’t be functional? Actually, I think many are. Exercising and sports help keep people fit and healthy. Meditation and reading may reduce stress. Painting and knitting may strengthen fine motor movement while pets provide joy on too many levels to count.
With 2022 scheduled to swing daily life to more “normal,” many people are venturing out and checking off items on their bucket lists. If the last two years have taught us anything, it is to take nothing for granted and that situations can change overnight. I fully hope to enjoy the return to fewer social restrictions. However, while some things are returning to the way they were, some things will not. Businesses have closed with no plan to reopen. Friends have moved away. The cost of daily living has risen tremendously, and some resources are limited.
Since summer is right around the corner but with a busy schedule, I found myself in a bit of a predicament. First, scheduling self-care and me-time can be an issue. Like many others, I work full-time, and by the time my work day ends, many retail businesses are closed or closing. That leaves only the weekend which would be fine if I didn’t have to cram in all of the things (e.g., grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, errands, etc.) that I didn’t complete earlier in the week. Thus, the best leisure activities for me are ones that I can perform…well, at my leisure. What I mean is finding activities that I do not have to depend on anyone else to be able to do and that aren’t dependent upon the weather. I also enjoy inexpensive activities because I’m cheap.
However, I’m also a person who needs to use my weekends and free time productively. Just because I clock out of a nine-to-five does not mean I stop working. I have plenty that I need to do. This requires me to be organized and efficient. Yet, I don’t want to neglect myself. So, I found a way to do both. It is decorative journaling/planner.
I’ve always used planners. But wait. Aren’t I a self-professed pantser? Yes, I am. Very much so. I use my planners not so much to outline my day but as long lists of reminders. See, my planners function in two ways. First, it allows me to know what I need to get done and when. It lists my deadlines and appointments and important events. Second. It is my reference log. I use it to remember when I mailed or received packages, tracking numbers, submission dates, and anything that I may need to remember days, months, and even years later. In this technology age, I could do it digitally, and often do. However, I remind people that I live in an area where power outages aren’t uncommon. It’s convenient to be able to locate information without booting up. But not only that, it’s fun and relaxing.
Years ago, I tried my hand at decorative planning. At the time, I didn’t know that was what it was called. I owned a bullet journal and decorated with colored pencils and markers. Having a limited artistic ability, it wasn’t always pretty. I gave it up because the bullet journal wasn’t functional for me. Again, I didn’t realize this was the problem because I had very little understanding of what I was wanting at the time. In fact, I wasn’t even including the information that I should have been.
I moved on to an organizer with a dated calendar. At the time, my life was simpler, and I didn’t have much to write in it in the way of appointments and such. It didn’t dawn on me to use it also as a tracker—not that I had much to track, either. I used colored ink to spruce up the appearance and occasionally plopped in a sticker—mostly birthday reminders. While this served its purpose, it wasn’t something that brought me a lot of joy. Again, I wasn’t thinking along those lines.
Eventually, I drifted away from this and stuck reminders in my cell phone calendar. The issue here came when I had to replace phones and the data didn’t transfer as promised. I lost lots of photos, dates, videos, and music that way. Even with the best backup plans, not everything is saved.
Then, last year, I was introduced—or rather, reintroduced—to deco journaling via YouTube. I found an entire community that has turned planning into pure art. Not only does the outcome allow me to be more productive, but creating spreads allows me time to relax and tap into my creativity. I can do it whenever I have free time and at my convenience.
I will say I found there to be a learning curve. First, I had to find a planner layout that meets my needs. There are all kinds of planners out there, and I enjoy the disc system in a classic size with a vertical layout. However, in all fairness, a horizontal layout probably would work better for me, but there are enough elements about that type of layout that I don’t like that have prevented me from switching. I admit, I’m still finding my footing, as I’m not one hundred percent satisfied with the functionality of my planner, but that’s not the point of this post.
During this process, I created a writing journal/planner. While I would have liked to have kept everything in one place, that wasn’t happening. On the other hand, it did allow me to eliminate some of the notebooks I used to jot down research notes and references. The beauty of a disc planning system is that I can add, remove, or rearrange pages as I choose. I can add dividers or pocket holders, or change covers and designs. I’m able to have sections for story ideas, reference pages, tracking, marketing, analytics, and more. I have a monthly calendar overview where I jot down when events occur and then use the weekly sheets to document the details. And because I spend time decorating the pages, using it doesn’t feel like a chore. My spirits are lifted when I see what I’ve created. Believe it or not, it makes my to-do list look less overwhelming.
Decorative journaling is a great hobby for anyone wanting to stay in or unable to go out. It does not require strenuous activity for anyone physically limitations or those who are too fatigued for much movement. If planning your week or listing things to be done is stressful, visually seeing how those chores can be divided to make them more manageable can be achieved. Plus, there are weekly online challenges that can add more fun. The best part about deco planning is it is up to you how you create it. Some people work with stickers while others use stamps or inks. Some people opt for large planners while others elect to use a mini. The pages can be dated or undated, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Layouts come in dashboard, horizontal, vertical, teacher, dot-grid, and more. The options are endless. Some people use their journals/planners daily while others less frequently. Some people have built Frankenplanners. (I tried this, and it didn’t work for me but only because I set it up wrong and didn’t realize it. Again… learning curve.) Some people use their planners the way I use mine while others use them for journaling, as part of a fitness/health or weight loss journey, for spiritual gratitude, for school or work, or as a creative outlet.
So, if you’re looking for a way to relax, consider decorative planning.
That’s this for this post. Do you agree or disagree? What is your take on the subject? Did you find these tips helpful or informative? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. Also, let me know if you would like me to cover more of these types of topics or dive deeper into this one. If you like this post, please click the like button and share it. If you’re not following me on Creole Bayou blog, what are you waiting for? There’s always room at the bayou.
When the scandal of a double homicide threatens to destroy his career, this billionaire hockey player hires an ambitious sports agent to improve his public image. It’s time to let the puckery begin.
Timothée Croneau is that jock—the bad boy superstar with the naughty reputation. He’s handsome, arrogant, and a billionaire. He’s also the number one person of interest in a double homicide and recently was traded to a losing team that is showing him no love. And wouldn’t it be just his luck that his career splashed in the toilet six months after his long-time agent kicked the bucket? Now, he’s stuck with Ryker Kitsch. An agent is supposed to fix his life, though, not break his heart.
Speaking of breaks, ex-athlete Ryker Kitsch wants his in the sports agency realm. He sees his chance to make a name for himself by helping rebrand his agency’s newly acquired hockey star, Timothée Croneau. The guy needs every lick of positive PR he can get. So, why is the devilishly gorgeous forward fighting him at every step and leaving Ryker to wonder if he’s been hired for a babysitting gig?
The mess Timothée is stirring was never in any contract Ryker was hired to handle. One thing’s for sure. Whether it’s a forecheck or backcheck, collision is inevitable.
For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.
As a writer, I love all the characters who’ve shared their stories with me, but the Salvation Pack holds a very special place in my heart.
When I met them a decade ago, I’d planned a five-book series. Nine books later I was done. Or I thought I was. All the original pack members had their stories, along with new members we met along the way. What else was there to write about?
You know what they say about the best-laid plans, right?
I couldn’t stop thinking about the next generation, the kids of the original pack members. And I wasn’t the only person with questions. Readers kept asking me for more, so I dove back into that world and created the Salvation Pack: The Next Generation series.
While there may be more stories to tell in the future, Wolf in the Night is the last one I’ve planned for this series. The original pack is aging. I need to stop while everyone is happy and vibrant and loving life. It’s my happily-ever-after for a wolf pack I’ve loved for almost a dozen years. They’ve brought so much joy to my life.
I’ll be forever grateful to Jacque LaForge, Armand LaForge, Cole Blanchard, Gator Rollins, and Louis LaForge for changing my life forever.
I hope you enjoy Wolf in the Nightas much as I do.
Wolf in the Night
Salvation Pack: The Next Generation, Book 5
Driving home from a trip, Emma Matheson is run off the road in an abduction attempt. Seems the alpha of her father’s former pack never forgave his defection. To settle the old score, he plans to force her to mate with a male of his choosing—his son, Dmitri.
Dmitri Gribkov wants no part of his father’s revenge. A loner by choice, nothing has prepared him for sexy, stubborn Emma. He’ll do whatever it takes to protect her—even if it means losing her.
Determined to control her destiny, she does her best to escape, even as the attraction between her and Dmitri sizzles. Doesn’t take long for her to realize this huge, sexy wolf is a protector at heart.
Tracking and killing are what he does best. Before this is over, he’ll have blood on his hands, but winning her love will be the hardest battle.
From Wolf in the Night…
Fear had a taste, something she’d never realized until tonight. It was metallic and nasty. Her shirt, damp with sweat, clung to her torso. Some of her hair had escaped her braid and fell into her eyes.
She’d thought she was going to die.
Her throat throbbed. Her ribs ached. And tears filled her eyes.
Not yet. She couldn’t break down until she was safe. She sucked air into her starving lungs, unable to remember ever being so winded. Exhaustion, along with an adrenaline dump, was making it difficult for her body to heal.
It was the first time in her life anyone had intentionally tried to harm her. Growing up with an overprotective father and overprotective siblings, she’d lived a charmed existence, filled with love and acceptance.
None of it had prepared her for this … hatred. Ivan despised her, had enjoyed hurting her. Now he was gone, driven away by this mountain of a male.
She blinked several times, but he didn’t disappear, wasn’t a figment of her oxygen-deprived brain. The wolves of her pack were the deadliest she’d ever known. This one, the one Ivan had called Dmitri, might be the most dangerous she’d ever met.
Shaggy black hair fell around massive shoulders. The lower half of his face was covered by a thick beard. His eyes were the same color as the dark amber honey she used to sweeten her tea. Every muscle was sculpted and rippled when he moved. There wasn’t a spare ounce of fat on him anywhere.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
I’ve participated in several charity anthologies before, but they’ve always been when I sought out the project. For this anthology, I was contacted by Xio Axelrod and offered the opportunity to join. I’d seen previous volumes in this series and when she messaged me, I thought huh??? She can’t possibly mean me. She must be mistaken. I’m a newer author in the gay romance genre. At the time, I’d published four novellas, a short story, and one novel. I kept thinking, there must be some mistake. That being said, I sent back my agreement right away and started writing a novella. I figured if I gave it to them, they’d have to include it, right? (Assuming the story was good enough, of course.)
I wrote my heart out and Page Against the Machine is the result. I’m happy with my novella, and I’m hoping readers will enjoy it as they gobble up the other stories in the anthology. The two organizations we’re giving the money to are near and dear to me. Of course, I know the Matthew Shepard story, and with all that is going on in Texas right now, I’m happy to lend my support to Equality Texas. In fact, as I look around, I realize how blessed I am to live in Canada. We’re not perfect, but we don’t actively have people trying to take away our rights. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I found stepping up even more important.
I hope you’ll buy the anthology. I hope you’ll enjoy all the stories. We, as authors, pour our hearts into these stories. We do it out of love. Inclusive love. Abiding love.
And, I wouldn’t be a good guest (thank you so much Delilah), if I didn’t offer a prize. For a $5 Amazon GC, drop a note. Have you read an inclusive story of some kind that moved you? (Doesn’t have to be a gay romance.) Good luck!
Love is All
The fifth edition of Love Is All features nine brand new stories from bestselling and award-winning authors, including BL Maxwell, Chantal Mer & Susan Scott Shelley, Connor Peterson, Gabbi Grey, Nic Starr, R.L. Merrill, Sean Michael, Sophia Soames, and Xio Axelrod. They celebrate the universal human right that is to love and be loved.
All proceeds from the anthology will go to two organizations that support and defend LGBTQIA+ rights: the Matthew Shepard Foundation and Equality Texas.
The anthology will only be available for a limited time.
Xio Axelrod Xio Axelrod is a USA Today bestselling author of different flavours of contemporary romance. She also writes what she likes to call strange, twisted tales. Xio grew up in the music industry and began recording at a young age. When she isn’t writing stories, she can be found in the studio, writing songs, or performing on international stages (under a different, no-so-secret name). She lives in Philadelphia with one full-time husband and several part-time cats.
Chantal Mer Chantal Mer is an author and optimist. Her stories explore relationships and what it means to be family. When she’s not writing about strong women, strong men, and strong love, she can be found walking her adorable dog, volunteering at her kids’ school (in the library, of course), teaching at the local university, and reading.
Chantal lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, kids, Toffee the Wonder Dog, and vicious cat, Gracie.
Susan Scott Shelley USA Today bestselling author Susan Scott Shelley writes stories with heat and heart, where love always wins. Her romances give readers lighthearted and emotionally satisfying escapes into happily ever after. In addition to crafting stories, she is also a professional voiceover artist and enjoys lending her voice to a wide range of projects.
She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and is an avid fan of her hometown sports teams. Her favorite things include running (honestly, it’s more like jogging), sports (especially hockey), hard rock (but will listen to anything from heavy metal to show tunes), and writing about people from all walks of life finding their special someone.
R.L. Merrill R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that will stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.
Rochelle Merrill brings you Fun, Fresh Fiction with Feeling. If R.L. Merrill is your local hard rock/metal radio station, Rochelle is her Adult Contemporary alter ego. Spinning feel-good stories to make you laugh and swoon, Ro writes romance for grown-ups who use their words (mostly) and take care of business. She’s a mom and wife who’s on hiatus from a career in education while she explores the new terrain of mid-life adventures. You can catch her walking and gardening in her neighborhood by the Bay, spoiling her rescue pets, and dreaming of attending concerts and theaters again someday. Stay Tuned for more hits coming your way…
Sean Michael Often referred to as “Space Cowboy” and “Gangsta of Love” while still striving for the moniker of “Maurice,” Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and persuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to “Chicago.”
A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.
Barring any of that? He’ll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.
Sophia Soames Sophia Soames is a Scandinavian, UK based, Author of contemporary MM romance. She writes stories of everyday people with kids and families living real life fairytales.
Nic Starr Nic Starr lives in Australia where she tries to squeeze as much into her busy life as possible. Balancing the demands of a corporate career with raising a family and writing can be challenging but she wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Always a reader, the lure of m/m romance was strong and she devoured hundreds of wonderful m/m romance books before eventually realising she had some stories of her own that needed to be told!
When not writing or reading, she loves to spend time with her family–an understanding husband and two beautiful daughters–and is often found indulging in her love of cooking and planning her dream home in the country.
Connor Peterson Connor Peterson is a USA Today bestselling author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and dark, paranormal romance, local to the Philadelphia, PA area. The madman behind Deathspell and Temptation in Neon, Connor has also contributed to the story cycle Red Phone Box – published by Ghostwoods Books – and the anthology Nocturnal Embers – published by Crimson Melodies Publishing. He is also an active participant in the Philadelphia writing community, and volunteers as a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month.
BL Maxwell BL Maxwell grew up in a small town listening to her grandfather spin tales about his childhood. Later she became an avid reader and after a certain vampire series she became obsessed with fanfiction. She soon discovered Slash fanfiction and later discovered the MM genre and was hooked.
Many years later, she decided to take the plunge and write down some of the stories that seem to run through her head late at night when she’s trying to sleep.
Gabbi Grey USA Today Bestselling author Gabbi Grey lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black and Gabbi Powell.