Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Shades of Control: Fifty By Fifty V3 Available Now

It's been a long while since I released a billionaire domination and submission romance. My new novella, Drop (Catching Her Fall #1) breaks that long dry streak, appearing in the Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired set Shades of Control: Fifty By Fifty V3.

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

(Still processing at B&N)

About Drop:

Whenever I used to tell people I had a fear of falling, they would correct me to say I had a fear of heights.  Maybe it was the sensible cardigan collection my mother preferred for me or the nerdy girl glassesexchanged eventually for more intellectual and refined gold-rimmed frames for the necessity of actually seeing the chalkboards and projection screens in my university classrooms.  Maybe it was a lifetime of honing that church mouse demeanor, head always slightly bowed against the buffeting winds of gentle but pervasive familial criticism.  Yeah, people used to correct me a lot.

No, the heights never scared me.  I never looked down from a lofty balcony or a bridge over rushing water and felt what I had heard other people describe as a creeping desire to leap over the edge. Instead, I felt a white-knuckled and sweaty-palmed fear, a terrible certainty that something, someone, some circumstance or force would fling me down in that precarious moment of vulnerability.  Just imagining the drop made my stomach bob and churn inside me.  And the thought of breaking against the cold ground.  No, my fear was that out-of-control plummet, not heights.

Or at least I would have insisted until the night that black chauffeured town car steered me smoothly, inevitably up the winding lanes of the exclusive residential conclave of Jasper Hill and that singular Mediterranean estate crested in my view above the overabundant landscaping of lesser contemporary palaces to god-like lineage and ungodly wealth.  That night, I tripped and fell into a convergence of dark lust and tragic loss a decade in the making, populated by the favored sons of some of the most privileged families on the West Coast.  That night, I locked gazes with the brilliantly blue-eyed Royce Lauder, the man who was about to help me understand that the only thing greater than my fear of falling was my fear of the heights he would show me.

College junior Sabrina Cole should be concentrating on getting the money together for her final year of school, landing the right internship, networking with the right people. But first, for just one evening, she’ll indulge in temptation, knowing it never feels as good as it looks. The part of her that surrenders to pleasure is long gone, with the man who introduced her to the sensual torments of domination and submission. So what harm could come of just one night, just one dinner?

Far too blunt and rebellious for his own good, airline CEO Royce Lauder should be heeding the advice from his company’s board of directors and working on his public image before they move on a major acquisition. Instead, he has joined the men who have been his closest friends since childhood at a dinner party where they will assess candidates for training as their personal submissives. A flippant decision on Royce’s part, but it’s not all about the decadent pleasures afforded men of power and wealth, because these aren’t just any women. These are the birds with broken wings, damaged and betrayed by people they’d loved. This time, however, there is only one wounded dove, only one woman, and only one thought in Royce Lauder’s head: mine.

An unexpected proposal from Lauder stirs unexpected desires for Sabrina. She tells herself acting as the personal assistant by day and sexual submissive by night for seductively dark Royce Lauder is about money and a recommendation on her resume—a career move. He reminds himself it will be temporary—train her, heal her, and release her.

Will Royce be so willing to train and release Sabrina when it’s the man who broke her that wants her back? Will Sabrina maintain her emotional distance when she learns it’s guilt over another woman that set Royce out on the path of becoming a Dom, her Dom? And who catches whom when Master and servant are both falling?

Drop is intended to be the first in a series of standalone stories featuring those "favored sons" of privilege grown up into captains of industry and Doms of both passion and compassion.

About Shades of Control:

These irresistible men exercise control in every aspect of their lives. They demand your submission. They demand your devotion. They demand your love. 

In return, they'll give you everything your heart desires and take you to impossible heights of pleasure. 

Fifty By Fifty is a series of four boxed sets featuring Fifty Stories by Fifty Bestselling Authors.

Shades of Control is 99 cents for a limited time.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fangs Fur & Magic Paranormal Romance Sale

Happy almost the weekend! I'm hoping to make it happy for some of you by sharing the fact that Excite Steam is sponsoring the Fangs Fur & Magic Paranormal Romance Sale Event (including a $50 gift card raffle) today through the weekend. Let's start with the BIG one, the Rafflecopter for the gift card!

Lots of paranormal romance on sale! Including:

Turning Wild by Erika Masten (Me me me!)

Drawn suddenly and violently into a world of shifters hiding among humans, Holly is learning that there’s more than one type of were to beware of. One is a threat to her life, another to her heart….

Curvy girl Holly Parker’s life has become a series of simple choices that somehow change the course of her entire future. Taking a shortcut home puts her on a collision course with a maniac who is not what he seems. Keeping her mouth shut about her attacker's fur and fangs lands her a job with a covert agency that tracks and exterminates supernaturals preying on their human neighbors. And now her decision to rely on her intimidatingly sexy neighbor, Dustin Berg, for protection when her wolfish stalker returns opens her eyes not only to the untamed power and passions of the were-soldiers known as Odin’s Wolves but to her place among them.

Caught between her duty to protect people from the kind of attack she suffered and her irresistible attraction to the man—the shifter—who has risked his life to save her from a creature he insists is an aberration hunted by other wolves as well, Holly must decide who is on her side and who is merely using her for their own purposes.

Also on sale at B&N, Apple, and All Romance.

We also have:

Bear Biker Love by Harper Ashe;
Her Forbidden Alpha by Tabitha Conall (also on sale at B&N);
Kiss the Dragon by Michelle Fox (also on sale at Apple);
Highand Wolf Pact by Selena Kitt (also at B&N, Apple, and Kobo);
Invisible Magic Book One: Alex Noziak by Mary Buckham (also at B&N);
Set in Stone by Aurrora St. James (also at B&N and Smashwords);
Witchy Wolf by Alexia Dare (also at B&N);
The Secret Wolf by Ana Fawkes;
Claiming His Fate by Ellis Leigh (also at B&N and Apple).

ALSO, for today and tomorrow, the promotional Aesir Shifters BBW romance short Wilding is FREE at Amazon:

Fear the wilding.

That’s what every werewolf learns, from the oldest alpha to the strongest Odin’s Wolf warrior and even their rival Fenris Wolves.  The wilding steals the soul, the humanity, and finally the human form.  A shifter lost to the wilding is a wolf, a man no more.

When natural scientist, forest ranger, and curvy girl Kimberly Ingalls finds herself forming a strangely emotional connection to the object of her observation, Wolf A217, she never dreams that her fantasies of what 217 would look like as a man would ever come true… until alpha werewolf Will finds himself called back from wolf form to claim his very human, very curvy mate.

Oh heck, while I'm at it, here's a teaser from A Prowl On The Wild Side: An Aesir Shifters BBW Romance Novella (Aesir Shifters #3) due to be released this weekend!


And it was, as it turned out, all about a street fair. Great timing for Vanessa, who bristled excitedly at the energy and anticipation of the set-up process and the transformation of a commercial district into a huge outdoor party. Nine square blocks of music stages and spicy food stands sprouted up like flowers between cracks in the pavement as she prowled the thickening crowd in all its sensory glory. Passionate music, hot food, the bright colors of banners and stall signs and summer clothing, and dancing in the streets. Vanessa sipped on a virgin mojito lemonade and wove her way through the crowd with a smile on her face, a sway to her hips, and a lightness of heart that made it seem like a perfect evening, one where anything could happen….

Like finding a 6’4” Nordic Adonis smiling at her from across the street as Vanessa danced idly by herself in front of a guitarist jamming for tips. “Like sex and candy,” she muttered under her breath, immediately thinking of the eighties song. Eric Salo was both rolled into one. Vanessa laughed and shook her head at herself. “You’re talking to yourself, crazy girl.”

If there was ever a man to go crazy for…with that broad Scandinavian face, handsome at first in a tough guy way but then softened by dimples when he smiled and a suggestion of a cleft in his chin…. Vanessa took it in stride when she imagined—hallucinated?—that she could smell him from so far away, amid the throng of so many other people. Delusion or not, she caught the stirring scent of mandarin and rosemary under a woodsy overtone that reminded her of summer vacations in the mountains and the fantasy of sex in the forest. It was probably that she just remembered the smell from encountering her dream man on almost a daily basis.

Another heavy girl might have blushed furiously and turned her head away seeing the man gazing her direction with bright green eyes from over the top of his sunglasses, his shoulder-length blond hair stirring in the hot summer breeze. He wore a hint of a sensual smile on his lush lips as he stood there at ease in his strength. That was the thing—one of the things—that struck Vanessa about Eric Salo. He was one massive man, not just tall but hard and bulging with muscle, and yet he didn’t have that inhibition of movement that some bodybuilder types had. Salo moved with power but also sensual grace, like an animal in his prime, in his element.

Vanessa took a deep breath when she realized her stomach had tensed and started to flutter at the sight of her lunchtime fantasy guy. That was who Eric Salo was to her, that gorgeous hunk who always went to the same café she did for lunch every day, who always sat a couple of stools over from her at the counter right up against the window by the sidewalk, and who always chuckled at the same things she did—at the characters who inhabited these streets and gave them life and color. Like the swarthy young guitarist who had just fallen to his knees in front of Vanessa to bid for her attention, to amuse the crowd, as he did his best to channel Carlos Santana.

Vanessa laughed at the street musician’s antics but kept glancing past her shoulder toward her Viking Adonis. The woman tried not to shake her head at herself again, at the note of familiarity and even possessiveness—as well as hip-wriggling excitement—she felt around the blond stranger. She and Salo literally hadn’t said more than a couple of words to one another. It was an occasional, “Hi,” here and there or an, “Excuse me,” as one or the other got up to leave and had to brush close in the press of the lunchtime crowd. Beyond that… no more than sidelong glances and knowing smiles, and how much of that was Vanessa’s acutely vivid imagination? The only reason she even knew his name was because one of his business cards had fallen out of his wallet one day when he was paying his check.

Eric Salo. Environmental Engineer. Ulmer Engineering Services. As it turned out, the walk from his office every day to the café took Salo right past Koller’s building, past Vanessa.

But tonight… tonight Vanessa wasn’t sure she felt like being passed. Idly smoothing her long straight hair with one hand, hugging her cool drink to her chest with the other, she eyed the crowd around and between Salo and herself. The hulking blond was standing on the opposite curb with his thickly banded arms crossed over his t-shirt-straining chest. Vanessa tried to seem like she was just scanning the crowd and enjoying the sight as she wandered a couple of steps toward the man, right up to the edge of the curb on her side of the street. Was he really watching her? His gaze skipped over the streams of people in their swirls and eddies, flowing up and down the sidewalks and in the barricaded roadway, but his attention did appear to keep snagging on Vanessa.

She sipped her mojito lemonade and wished distantly that it had been the real thing. Not because she needed any kind of liquid courage. If anything, Vanessa was always too bold for the people around her, like her overprotective brother and for people who thought fat girls ought to be (seldom) seen and not heard. But if she approached Eric Salo and he gave her that look, that ‘why would a chubby girl think I was watching her’ squint…. Or if he didn’t and actually had a full conversation with her that led to anything else, and Aubrey found out…. Well then, she could have blamed it on the alcohol. As it was, with virgin lemonade a weak justification, Vanessa was just going to have to admit that she was bad at keeping a low profile, at settling into the quiet little office jobs Aubrey wanted her to have instead of pursuing her public relations major, and at not talking to gorgeous blond strangers.

That step down from the curb sent a vibration up through Vanessa, and not just because she was wearing three-inch heels on her otherwise office-like shoes. She felt the electrical jolt reverberating through her rounded thighs, through her core, up her spine. Hell, even in her sorely neglected clitoris. It had been too long since she had allowed herself the luxury of flirtation, though she thought about it a million times a day. Lately, all million of those romantic, naughty, fanciful thoughts centered on the fantasy man in front of her. The man she was walking toward right that minute with intoxicating, exhilarating, terrifying adrenaline gushing through her body. The man who was, she sensed, watching her from behind those dark sunglasses.

~End Excerpt~

Have a good weekend, and happy reading!

Friday, September 5, 2014

New Aesir Shifters Release FREE Today

Fun news to tell you this Friday!  As part of a Freebie Fest with some of my favorite authors, I have release a short promotional Aesir Shifters BBW romance short story and made it FREE for the next three days on Amazon only.

Fear the wilding. 

That’s what every werewolf learns, from the oldest alpha to the strongest Odin’s Wolf warrior and even their rival Fenris Wolves. The wilding steals the soul, the humanity, and finally the human form. A shifter lost to the wilding is a wolf, a man no more. 

When natural scientist, forest ranger, and curvy girl Kimberly Ingalls finds herself forming a strangely emotional connection to the object of her observation, Wolf A217, she never dreams that her fantasies of what 217 would look like as a man would ever come true… until alpha werewolf Will finds himself called back from wolf form to claim his very human, very curvy mate.

Free this Friday-Sunday at Amazon (including Amazon US, UK, CA, and AU).

Also free:

Michelle Fox's First MoonSelena Kitt's Temptation, Emme Rollin's Following Trouble, Jordan Bell's Her Secret Pleasure, AnnMarie Oakes' Romancing Rosalie, Tabitha Conall's Her Kilted Wolf, Starla Cole's The Rock Star Next Door, Sarah Makela's The Witch Who Cried Wolf, Victoria Wessex's The Curvy Vet and The Billionaire Cowboy, Linda Barlow's Blazing Nights, Adriana Hunter's Surrender, and Danielle Duncan's Evading Nevah!

ALL the links for all participating distributors are HERE!

The Freebie Fest also comes with a contest:

Friday, July 11, 2014

READ WILD Event Kicks Off With 99 Cents Shifter Stories and A Kindle Fire Giveaway

It's a great weekend for anyone who loves shifter romance as a group of great authors from Facebook's The Wolf Pack kick off the READ WILD EVENT.  Each author has put at least one of their shifter books on sale for 99 cents and are running a blog hop today in addition to raffling off a Kindle Fire!

Here's the link for the Kindle Fire Raffle!

Here's a link to my Facebook Author Page, where you can win a $10 Amazon gift card, as a starting point for the Facebook Hop.  Over the course of the day, I'll be adding link to other Facebook pages running contests for the event.

My new release is pending.  Keep an eye on my author page today and tomorrow for updates to links where you can buy it.  When it comes out this weekend, A Prowl On The Wild Side will be 99 cents.  If you can't wait quite that long, my Aesir Shifter BBW romance One Wild Night is regularly 99 cents.  :)

Other READ WILD books include:

**double check prices before you buy, in case of glitch or sudden change!**

A Prowl On The Wild Side by Erika Masten (release and links pending).

If a girl is going to be delusional, Vanessa Dreyer’s kind of crazy isn’t so bad.

Trapped by day in a dreary office job, under the thumb of a boss with dubious designs on his curvy assistant, Vanessa dreams at night of prowling the city as a beautiful and powerful beast. Never mind the naked sleepwalking. And there are worse things than the mild sensory hallucinations that would have Vanessa believing she’s faster, stronger, and keener of eye than she really ought to be. The really crazy thing is her feeling that the sexy walking wall of muscle, Eric Salo, truly is flirting with her across the café counter every day at lunch.

But what if, just maybe, Vanessa isn’t crazy?

What if her dreams are her primal animal—her latent shifter—speaking to her?  What if a hidden world of werewolves, werebears, werelions, and weretigers awaits her?  Worse, what if the shadowy men she remembers watching her as a child, before her parents were killed leaving Vanessa and her brother all alone, are real as well and have found her again?  And most importantly, what if the only one who can protect Vanessa and help her figure out who she is and what it all means is a sexy blond werewolf named Eric Salo?

What’s a curvy girl doing losing her head and her heart to a 6’4” Nordic Adonis with fangs and fur?  That’s just crazy.


First Moon by Michelle Fox, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

The Secret Wolf by Ana W. Fawkes, on sale at Amazon.

Bear Biker Love by Harper Ashe, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

Moonlight by Victoria Danann, on sale at Amazon.

At Full Sprint by A.E. Grace, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

The First Alpha by K.A. Taylor, on sale at Amazon.

Healer's Fate by Beth Caudill, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

Laid Bear 2 by Marina Maddix, WILL BE on sale at Amazon.  **Currently $3.99, price change still processing**

Harvest Moon by Tabitha Conall, on sale at Amazon.

Shifter Mountain by Anna Soule, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

Romancing The Wolf by Skye Eagleday, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

The Wolf Who Played With Fire by Sarah Makela, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

The Right To A Bear's Arms by Carina Wilder, on sale at Amazon.

Dark Velvet by Lisa Carlisle, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

Midnight Hunt by Ariel Burnz, on sale at Amazon and B&N.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cover Reveal for One Wild Night: An Aesir Shifters BBW Romance Short

On the heels of the very warm reader reception I got with Turning Wild, my first standalone Aesir Shifters BBW romance, I've got another upcoming BBW shifter release, and HERE is the cover (and blurb) reveal!  TA! DA!  :)

One Wild Night: An Aesir Shifter BBW Romance Short

Who knew trying to kill one another would be such an aphrodisiac?

Garik and Rachel are just like Romeo and Juliet, except for the fur, the fangs, and the powerful urge to fornicate despite being members of warring wolf packs.  Shes a curvy were-soldier scout for the Central Coast cell of the Odin Wolves.  Hes the sergeant-at-arms for the Sons of Fenris, a pack of motorcycle-riding werewolves descended directly from the Fenris Wolf himself.  And those dont mix without spilling blood.

Rachel Corey has been doing everything she can to avoid Garik Hagen and her attraction to the Fenris Wolf.  But whats she supposed to do when he prowls right into the middle of her assignment to recover a powerful Aesir artifact from an art dealer delivering the relic to a private buyer?  How is one little curvy she-were, the youngest and weakest of her pack, supposed to protect herself from the Sons of Fenris MC when the rest of Gariks gang show up with the intention of claiming the prize for themselves and ravaging Rachel in the process?  Can she trust Gariks word that hes there to head off his own pack and protect her?  What if the sexy, brooding enforcer is just part of a trap she cant resist?

Worst of all, what if Rachels instincts are right and Gariks her mate?

Forbidden lust, bloodthirsty enemies, and star-crossed love.  Its going to make for one wild night.

Like Turning Wild, One Wild Night is a standalone story in a larger series of shifter romance with a twist of Norse mythology and a heavy dose of sensual heat.  That means the sex gets hot, and four-letter words get involved.  :)  One Wild Night will be available for purchase Friday, June 13, 2014 for $0.99!

In the meantime, if you haven't already, pick up a copy of Turning Wild! Wild: An Aesir Shifters BBW Romance Novella

Drawn suddenly and violently into a world of shifters hiding among humans, Holly is learning that there’s more than one type of were to beware of. One is a threat to her life, another to her heart….

Curvy girl Holly Parker’s life has become a series of simple choices that somehow change the course of her entire future. Taking a shortcut home puts her on a collision course with a maniac who is not what he seems. Keeping her mouth shut about her attacker's fur and fangs lands her a job with a covert agency that tracks and exterminates supernaturals preying on their human neighbors. And now her decision to rely on her intimidatingly sexy neighbor, Dustin Berg, for protection when her wolfish stalker returns opens her eyes not only to the untamed power and passions of the were-soldiers known as Odin’s Wolves but to her place among them.

Caught between her duty to protect people from the kind of attack she suffered and her irresistible attraction to the man—the shifter—who has risked his life to save her from a creature he insists is an aberration hunted by other wolves as well, Holly must decide who is on her side and who is merely using her for their own purposes.

I also want to mention, if you're a fan of BBW romance, you gotta check out The Curvy Girl Romance Reader Group on Facebook.

I begged and cajoled more than a dozen talented, bestselling authors of BBW romance--we're talking Alexx Andria, Eliza Gayle, Celia Kyle--into hanging out on a reader-writer group dedicated to sharing, enjoying, and promoting BBW romance in a positive, pro-curves environment.  The group is already almost 500 members strong, and we don't have our official launch party until Friday.  Did you catch that?  Official. Launch. Party. Friday.

And finally, in domination and submission romance news, YES, The Art of Domination serial will continue, though disappointing sales mean it is a lower priority. I have several other domination romance projects in progress that will probably come out before or the same time as future Art of Domination titles.  Despite some people suggesting I just kill the serial, I don't feel comfortable leaving the story unfinished.

And so... Happy reading!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Big Amazon Gift Card Giveaway for Master of Hearts, Plus A Turning Wild Sneak Peak

So when I settled on a weekend release date for my first BBW shifter romance novella, Turning Wild, I forgot this was Memorial Day weekend with the usual holiday processing issues and holdups.  So...maybe a little taste of Turning Wild?  Like, the first two chapters?

-Begin Excerpt!-


There were days that reminded Holly not to get too big for her britches—and that wasn’t a self-deprecating crack about being a curvy girl.  She felt one of those humbling moments coming, even though she’d just put ten hours in at her research desk at the Agency and all she had been thinking about was getting home and shucking off her painfully professional skirt suit and ill-fitted overcoat and brushing her brown hair out of its overly tight bun.  Walking up to the front door of the supermarket, however, brought more to mind than the fact that she was out of eggs.

The chubby little girl, maybe all of twelve years old, standing on the wide slab of cold, gray sidewalk with her straight brown hair whipping across her face in the chill wind could easily have been Holly ten years before.  The situation was familiar enough, as well, with three older boys standing over the girl and sneering down at her as she glared silently back at them.  They were all still so awkward in their bodies, with one boy far too scrawny for his baggy jeans, another with arms too long for his sleeves, posture stilted by an adolescent effort to look cool.  For her part, the girl was round-faced and round in the middle, padded out to silly proportions by her puffy pink coat.  And all of them so serious about establishing and enforcing the social pecking order that always slotted brains and chubby kids at the bottom.

This little Holly kept her expression cold, smooth, disdainful in the face of jibes about fat girls.  Holly knew from experience that the boys’ interest in tormenting the girl wouldn’t last as long when their victim refused to cry or tremble or show much concern at all over their cruelty.  The very same tactic had insulated Holly from the same kind of bullying as a child, as an orphan shuttled from foster home to foster home, as a pudgy teen with zero fashion sense beyond the knowledge that black was slimming, as a bookish college student with a couple too many hours to her hourglass figure.

As Holly got closer to the door, she could see there was a little more to the story, with the little chubby girl clutching a small husky pup.  The dog’s pale blue eyes showed considerably more fear than the child’s as one or another of the lanky boys grabbed for its tail or poked at it.  There was no way for Holly or the girl to explain to the pup their particular method for freezing out the pointless, indiscriminate anger of soulless people, so it showed its panic too readily, trying to burrow into her puffy coat.

On another day, Holly might have walked past the kids without stopping.  It seemed heartless, she knew.  Most of the other adults who went about their business without intervening did so because….  Well, kids will be kids, and plenty of them had themselves teased and bullied classmates for being fatties or weaklings or brains.  Plenty of others had been teased and didn’t want the reminder of the humiliation.  Holly, had she just let it go, would have done so for the sake of the girl, because Holly knew that look, because Holly herself had worn it.  Sometimes, it didn’t serve to interfere when a child like that girl was standing strong.  Best not to undermine her when Holly didn’t know what she was going home to.  A household of skinny sisters and a hypercritical mother?  A classroom with a teacher who didn’t like fat kids because she’d been one?  Or…nothing—a foster home or a shelter where she was either the whipping girl or the invisible child?  Sometimes, it was better just to pass by with a knowing glance, a shared moment of recognition, older to younger.

On another day, Holly might have let the child handle her own business, but there was something about that particular little girl on that day protecting that runt of a husky pup from those boys.  And it was simple enough for Holly, now that she was older, an adult.  Now that her life with the Agency had taken on an element of mystery, secrecy, intrigue, danger that the average person knew nothing about.  Mundane confrontations like this seemed so much less intimidating.

Arms crossed, the expression on her full face mirroring that of the girl’s, Holly stood about three feet from the cluster of children and waited for them to notice her.  When they did, one of the boys even had the nerve to snicker and say, “What?  She your kid?  You look like her.”

Holly tilted her head and kept staring, until the boys’ gazes started shifting anxiously back and forth between hers and the girl’s, back and forth, hers and the girl’s.  It creeped them out after about thirty seconds.  “Fuck this,” the same smart ass said before all three boys shuffled away, casting ugly looks over their shoulders at Holly.

Advancing a few steps to stand next to the little girl, both the older and younger still watching the bullies skulking through the parking lot toward the street, Holly said, “Nice dog.”

“Yeah,” the girl sighed in a relieved breath, finally looking down to pet the pup.  “Wish I could keep him.”

“He’s not yours?”

The girl shook her head, one hand fighting all that long brown hair still whipping into her eyes.  “No, it was just sitting on the sidewalk all cold, and those boys were kicking at it and talking about doing some…some really mean stuff to it.”

Holly nodded.  “Pretty lucky you stepped up.”

The child squinted briefly, doubtfully up at Holly.  “Not smart, though.  They’ll remember this when they see me at school.”

Holly nodded again.  “But sometimes you just have to.  Don’t give them anything to grab onto, and they’ll give up after a few days.”

That statement hung between the girl and the woman, until the child shifted abruptly to bundle the pup into Holly’s arms.  “I gotta go.”

Holly sucked in a sudden breath and opened her mouth to protest, but the little husky squirmed hard, trying to dig its way up under her jacket.  By the time she had calmed the pup, made sure it wasn’t going to tumble right out of her arms, the child was yards away walking head down into the wind.  The sight churned uneasy feelings in the bottom of Holly’s stomach.  In part, it was because of how much the girl really did resemble her, in size, in attitude, and in that somberness behind her eyes that no kid should have had.  And in part, it was in recollection of the snide comment from the mouthy boy, when he had asked if Holly was the girl’s mother.

She wasn’t.  Holly wasn’t anyone’s mother, no one’s sister or niece, not even a daughter anymore or so much as a cousin.  And certainly not a wife or girlfriend, which made Holly snicker just briefly, without real humor.  Many aspects of her life had changed drastically over the previous few months—since the Agency had taken her on, since the attack that had prompted the covert government team to contact her in the first place—but the overall desirability of Rubenesque women to the average American male was not one of those miraculous alterations.

At this rate, without so much as a date in a year and a half, there weren’t going to be any little Holly’s in her future.  That made the new job, her career with the Agency, that much more important.  It got her up in the morning, gave her something to be passionate about, a sense of self-worth even if no one outside the office knew how smart and resourceful and persistent she could be.  At least someone needed her, had a place for her.

“You got a dog?  That’s unexpected.  And extremely cool.”

That voice.  That deep, muted rumble of a voice like a distant storm—a huge crashing torrent rolling toward her, but from so far off it was only a low grumble, a promise of thunder.  Few things in the world made Holly feel so much dread and excitement at the same time.  Rainstorms and Dustin Berg.  And one was right behind her.

The man was Holly’s neighbor, having moved into the townhouse next to hers about two months after the Agency had relocated her for her own safety.  The man was her gadfly, always just behind her back or just beyond her peripheral vision right about the time she was doing something embarrassing, like trying to jog her size sixteen body around the local park trail when she hoped it would be deserted, or like trying to wrestle a puppy out from under her coat while its paw was hooked in between her blouse buttons and flashing her bra.  The man was five-feet-ten-inches of lean runner’s muscle and slow drawl, vaguely southern-sounding, military around the edges.  The man was, well, her fantasy lover in the flesh, the unobtainable hunk she dreamed about on very good nights.  And only God knew why he bothered to talk to Holly so much, except that maybe he was just that nice a guy.  An absolutely cut, rock-jawed, deep-voiced, boy-next-door grown up nice guy.  She rolled her eyes at herself.

Holly took in a breath and swallowed hard before pivoting to face her neighbor.  She found him huddled down into his black leather coat, collar turned up against those perfect, hard-angled cheekbones.  Coffee brown eyes squinted against the wind, which had lightly chaffed and pinkened his broad, soft smile.  That and the sight of his thick brown hair, cut short along his neck and over his ears but left in sensually mussed ruffles along his crown, took her breath away.  Her body flashed hot from her groin to her knees.

“Hey, Dustin,” she said, careful to sound unaffected by her surprise or his glaring good looks or the fact that she could smell the earthy, woody scent of him even from two feet away in a strong gust.

When Dustin reached toward her to pet the puppy, Holly almost gasped.  Her heart definitely stopped for the full second it took her to realize he wasn’t reaching for her.  Of course he wasn’t.  And yet….

And yet his steady brown eyes were trained on Holly, not the pup, as he looked up from under the thick fringe of his eyelashes, head tilted down against the flurry.  “He’s adorable.  Huskies, they’re kind of wolfish.  That and the eyes, that makes some people nervous.”  The hiss of the wind made him lean in just a little bit to be heard, and that meant his body was sheltering hers, so near, so right.  She trembled in the cold.  Yeah, the cold.  “That doesn’t make you nervous, Holly?  That wolfishness?  The eyes?”

His or yours, she wanted to ask.  Instead, expertly covering her physical reactions to Dustin’s nearness, she shrugged.  “Not really.  I’ve always thought their eyes were beautiful, sort of otherworldly, like they’d seen things only they could see.”

Holly bit her lower lip to shut herself up when she saw Dustin react to her overly fanciful ideas with a strangely approving smile, ringed with the subtle shadow of stubble he left around his mouth and along the hard, strong line of his jaw.  Those kinds of piercing looks from him made her heart skip and then flutter erratically, every time.  They even made her think that he was flirting with her now and then.

The idea that he might ever have guessed Holly had a crush on him mortified her, because she knew that wasn’t a big girl’s place, drooling over men as panty-wetting sexy as Dustin Berg.  So long as she never let on, so long as she came off as though she had zero libido, she could avoid the agonizing awkwardness of Dustin realizing she was attracted to him.  Some men could be downright cruel when a curvy girl presumed to flirt or even entertain a secret crush.  Not Dustin, she suspected, but still….

Dustin, as though sensing Holly’s building skittishness, straightened over her.  God, those shoulders, even under the layer of heavy black leather.  He maintained a powerful, looming presence still but not quite so close.  “Things only they could see,” he repeated, pausing.  “That’s a good way to put it.  Maybe you should bring him next time you run in the park.  We could—.”

“I’m not keeping him,” Holly blurted, panicked at the thought of Dustin seeing her in workout clothes.  Whenever she ran into him on the trails, she always slowed down to a smooth walk and pretended to check her pulse.  No jiggling in front of Dustin Berg, please.  It was a thought that almost made Holly laugh out loud at herself.  “I mean, he’s not my dog.  He’s a stray, just huddled on the sidewalk.”

“You could keep him, then.  Copper Ridge is really good with their pet policy.  But you don’t want to?”  Dustin was still petting the scruffy rump of the pup, who had finally settled with his head nestled up under Holly’s full breasts.  She tried not to be offended by the dog’s utilitarian attitude to something as personal as her chest or to let Dustin’s vaguely disappointed tone make her feel guilty.

“I work,” she said.  “A lot.  There’s no one at home.”

There wouldn’t have been anyone to take care of a pet if something happened to Holly, something like the attack a few months back, if it had been worse.  Just like there hadn’t been anyone for Holly when her mother had died ten years before.  No one to know Mom wasn’t where she was supposed to be, except a daughter who didn’t want to call for help after she’d seen ambulances take her grandparents away and never bring them back, after police had taken Dad away and never brought him back, either.  The idea of the runty little husky waiting by the door and no one ever coming home to him, because there wasn’t anyone but Holly and no one to know, made her queasy in the way only the smell of musty cardboard and bad memories could.

“So what are you going to do with him?” Dustin asked, rousing Holly from her private thoughts.  She started to answer, but she could only shrug, at a loss.  “Here,” he said, gathering the dog into his arms after a brief struggle with four gangly legs and a stiff tail.  “I’ve got a friend who works in a vet’s office.  She can check to see if he’s got a chip.  If not, well, they get nothing but animal lovers in their offices all day.  Someone will want him.”

Holly stiffened like the pup, robbed of his warm nook.  “It’s not that I don’t….  It’s just….”  Then, little by little, her shoulders sagged back down.  “There’s no one at home.”

“Yeah,” Dustin breathed low, peering appraisingly at Holly, as though he suspected there was more context at work in the statement than was immediately apparent.  “Well, if you change your mind, I’m sure she can keep him around at the office for at least a couple of days.”

“Yeah, okay, great.  Thank her for me,” Holly said.  Then she pulled her overcoat tight, despite it being about a half-size too small, and folded her arms and braved the wind back to her car.  Without buying her groceries.  She kept thinking of that little girl and Dustin’s reaction to Holly not wanting—not letting herself want—to keep the pup and wondering dismally whether Berg’s “friend” at the vet’s office was another way of saying girlfriend.


“Looks like she’s not inviting us home to dinner anytime soon,” Dustin told the ratty pup in his arms as they both watched Holly fleeing across the parking lot.  “Fine by me,” he added, frowning, not meaning it half as much as he wished he did.

Had the pack not assigned him to watch her, Dustin would have stayed as far away from Holly Parker as humanly and inhumanly possible.  She was too curvy, too luscious, too infuriatingly independent, too much of a challenge for the wolf inside him.  And she was damn near too much for the tenuous remains of his self-control.  She smelled, for chrissake.  Not only like she was wolfkin but of wild lavender and cedar, like she’d been rolling naked in it.  And the images that went along with that fucking thought!

Breathe, two, three, four.  Berg automatically defaulted to the meditative breathing technique he’d been practicing the last few weeks, as the hunger to turn and to hunt and to mate had gotten worse.  The wilding was getting worse, getting closer, claiming a little more of his humanity with each turn and clawing at him when he refused to shift.  Hours of meditating, miles of running, adding pounds by the dozens to the weights at the gym all just maintained the status quo, the constant simmer of hunger and the low growl of the wolf just waiting.  Volunteering to work in town, away from the pack, to scout varg leads and keep an eye on Holly or others like her, wasn’t helping the way he thought it would.  Breathe, two, three, four.

And no matter how much he tried, whenever she was anywhere around him, Dustin couldn’t take his eyes off Holly.  Walking, getting into her car, she held her shoulders back so stiff and straight, as though that was going to keep those curves of hers from rolling and swaying seductively, temptingly.  He sized her up like the predator he was, more so day by day.

They were playing the same game, Dustin and Holly, but only he acknowledged it.  She really seemed to think that coming off cool and unimpressed was going to fool him into believing she wasn’t attracted to him, but her pussy wet itself for him whenever they were together, whenever she was within reach.  He could smell that, too.  And that made the wolf inside him rise up as wild and rampant as she made his cock.  Lucky for Dustin his black leather coat hit him at the top of his thighs, just low enough.

For his part, Dustin had tried not to flirt at all at first, then only as much as was necessary to warm Holly up enough that she’d let him get a little closer to her, to her life.  Now, after eight months of living two buildings over from her and watching the woman trying to pretend she wasn’t half as wild or passionate as he knew her to be, the long stares and accidental caresses were the only pressure valve he had to keep himself from putting her face-first against a wall with her arms held above her head while he mounted her for all they were worth.

Dustin growled under his breath at that thought, his groin throbbing.  The husky whined and looked up at him, head tilted in question.  “You wouldn’t understand.  You’re too young.  And you’re a dog.”

No, there was no special telepathic link, canis lupus to familiaris, wolf to dog, and the pup sure as hell didn’t know English.  So the husky, yawning and then licking his narrow muzzle, ignored the wasted taunt and Dustin’s frustration.

The were shook his head and turned toward the supermarket entrance.  “I suppose you’re going to get hungry before morning.  Steak for me and kibble for you.  Let’s keep that straight.”  Dustin carried the pup with him into the store.  The first clerk to notice started to say something about animals not being allowed, but a steady stare, a growl so low and soft it didn’t really consciously register with her, and a quick wink from Dustin ended the matter.  If only Holly was as easy to manage.

That thought stuck with Dustin as he finished his shopping and headed back to the townhouses, north side of town, the end with the money and the parks and all the woodsy landscaping.  It was the next best thing to actually living in one of the national forests north and east of the city, where the arid inland valleys of California gave way to the Sierra Nevadas, condos and abnormally green golf courses disappearing in favor of rich red earth and loam, trails and remote cabins.

All the photos on Dustin’s mantle, above the environmentally friendly gas fireplace he never used, showed him surrounded by giant sequoias or redwoods.  Not in that godforsaken Eastville trailer park at the base of the foothills, but swimming at Shafts Lake with Ron when Dustin was just fifteen, or hiking with Martin and Tate about twelve years back, right after he’d turned eighteen and gained full status with the pack.  Not a single picture included his jailbird brothers or his drunkard redneck daddy.  The pack brothers who’d taken him in at fourteen, those were the only family he cared to acknowledge.

The sound of a plastic garbage can being turned on its side in the kitchen reminded Dustin he had a four-legged guest.  “Steak for me and kibble for you,” he repeated as he scooped the willful pup up out of the pile of trash it had strung across the tile floor.  The husky looked unrepentant with the clear wrap from the steak packaging hanging out of its mouth.  “Right, then, you look for something else to tear up so I don’t feel half as bad about taking you to see Laura tomorrow at the vet’s.  Maybe we’ll even get you shots.”  The pup reared back in Dustin’s arms and kicked frantically to be set down, as though it understood that word.  “And I’ll get rid of this.”  Dustin held up the trash bag and shook it at the puppy, who retreated a few feet from the noise before forgetting what it was running from and sitting down to scratch its ear instead.

Out on the front step, pulling the door closed softly, Dustin paused and listened.  A normal human couldn’t have heard it, but he had, plenty of times.  Sometimes he caught the strains of blues singer Nina Simone or maybe Ella Fitzgerald playing on the stereo and winding out from a cracked window in Holly’s townhouse.  One time she was humming along, a sound so sweet and wistful that he’d felt it not just in the heat of his groin but as an ache deep in his chest and the back of his throat.  He understood that sound of longing, felt it every moment he was separated from his pack—but he also knew what was going to happen if he didn’t keep his distance.

On the way to the big garbage bin by the mailboxes, Dustin passed Holly’s townhouse.  Hers was the one with all the lights on, the pale blue one.  She looked so good, so soft, when she wore light blue, Dustin thought to himself out of nowhere.  Over the hedge and the patio fence, he saw her sliding glass door was gaping a few inches.  It was cold outside for that, but honestly she burned food a lot.  Girl was sexy as hell and could not cook to save her life.  No smell of burned pasta tonight, though, and no music.  Dustin shook his head at himself realizing he’d been hoping to see her dancing by herself again in the living room with a glass of wine, but better he didn’t.  That night he had damn near hopped the patio fence.

Long, silky straight brown hair, and light cinnamon brown eyes.  Full round breasts and hips to match.  And that goddamn scent of lavender and cedar.  Dustin could practically smell her.

No practically about it, he realized as he came around the corner of Holly’s townhouse and strode directly into the voluptuous wolfkin.

“Oh, fuck.”  Holly’s eyes got big, and she put her hand over her mouth.  For the language and the trash bag split open on the paved walkway, she murmured, “Sorry.”

“S’okay.  You’re kinda cute when you cuss.”  It was a struggle for Dustin, groin instantly straining and burning, not to confess that he just plain liked the way she sounded when she spoke before she thought, without filtering, unguarded.  He wanted to hear her say it again while she was underneath him, along with a lengthy selection of other delectable syllables women only tended to say when they were about to be overcome by an orgasm.  And then to feel her nails in his back and hear her growl….

Dustin’s carnal revelry subsided when he recognized the quiver that passed over Holly’s plush lips, the slight shiver along her shoulders.  She was wearing just a blue, zipper-front track suit, no coat, hair loose, probably coming back from the bin herself, but it wasn’t the kind of shudder that came from being cold.

“You okay, lupa?”

She wasn’t looking at him, head down.  “Yeah, I’m just….”  Then she raised her face, her bright honey brown eyes narrowed.  “What did you say?”

More than he should have.  “What’s wrong, Holly?  Bad day?”

Whatever was really bothering her, she shrugged it off.  “Long day.”

Long life, her tone said.  “Yeah, I know.”  And he did.  Dustin knew all about Holly’s background, from growing up with a father who thought drinking and armed robbery qualified as vocations, to losing her grandparents and her mother before she was even a teenager.  He knew about the were attack—the varg attack—almost a year before and that fact that she was very likely working for an Agency cell, considering the people who had approached her soon after that bullshit report she’d filed with the police.  No mention at all of the fact that the man who had “mugged” her in that parking lot on her way home had been a shifter.  But Dustin and pack leaders Ron and Eric had seen the hospital file and the photographs of the bite wound on her left shoulder.  “I know,” he said again, but he couldn’t convey to her how true it was, how sincere.

Then he bent down to pick up the tattered trash bag just as Holly leaned down to do the same, and their hands and cheeks brushed at the same moment.  Dustin’s senses filled with…with lavender and cedar, the memory of hips swaying to “I Want Some Sugar In My Bowl”, a naughty word like fuck from those bee stung lips, and the anxious tremor along her flushed skin and ripe curves.  Holly and Dustin both straightened, gazes flared and locked, only he stood up with a step forward into her.  He couldn’t keep the growl out of his breath, the rumble reverberating gut deep, from the root of him, his swelling cock.  The hair on the back of his neck stood on end as the wolf in him pushed hard to free itself, to rise up right through his bristling skin.  Dustin’s shoulders settled and shifted back as his hips strained forward and his hands clenched into fists, the only thing he could do to keep from grabbing her, jerking her against him, or throwing her to down onto the grass and….

She can’t pretend we’re not flirting now, he thought as he angled his face down over hers and took the luscious pad of her lower lip so slowly, so carefully, but so hungrily between his teeth.  He snarled but didn’t bite; he held her still and sucked while she trembled against him.  The wolf inside him thrilled at her reaction, at the musk of lust mixed with fear.  He scraped her lower lip gently with the edge of his teeth and sucked again, then lapped upward with the tip of his tongue to taste her upper lip, sweet with wine, coppery with the blood coursing beneath her skin.  Holly’s eyes sank closed, millimeter by millimeter, and she held her breath one full heartbeat, two, three.  He distinctly heard each one, felt them in the most minute pulsing of her blood.  Dustin lost track of the beats when his own throbbing pulse began pounding in his head, as she sighed into his mouth and went pliant and submissive against him.

It was the worst thing Holly could have done, like she’d rolled over and offered her belly—or her sweet, vulnerable pussy.  Their very first kiss was Dustin forcing her submission, biting his little lupa, and she didn’t even understand what was happening, so he couldn’t….  Fuck, he couldn’t do what his body wanted to do and strip her bare and put her on all fours, couldn’t work himself wildly, brutally into her tight core from behind while she bucked and bounced against him and whined at the burn and the stretch and the need between her legs.  If she submitted to him fully, like that, she had to know what she was doing and what it meant.

A split second before he reached his limit, before he’d gone so far he could only give in to the urge to drive his tongue into her mouth and his cock into her sex, Dustin stepped back from Holly.  He steadied them both with one hand on her shoulder, holding himself back from her by pushing her away, the other hand wiping his mouth.  She probably thought he was wiping away the wetness of her lips against his, but it was really to hide the fact that he was outright salivating at the idea of taking her.

“Holly, I’m sorry.”  Behind his hand, Dustin was slurring his words, canines elongating just enough for him to feel them and know the wolf was coming if he didn’t get the hell out of there.  “I just—.”

“No, no, it’s okay,” Holly said in a breathy rush, not looking at him.  “Stuff happens.  It doesn’t mean anything.”  Then she started around Dustin on her way back into her townhouse, her steps hurried, gestures stiff and tight.  “I mean, you probably have a girlfriend who wouldn’t be happy about that.  Enough said.  We can just forget it happened.”

She didn’t even look back.  Goddamnit.  He could guess all the things she was thinking, and he couldn’t stop her to explain, not unless he wanted to have a lot more to be sorry for.

Dustin turned his face toward a renewed gust of wind, up toward the nearly whole disk of the glowing moon.  He gulped air and let the chill on his skin and in his lungs beat back the prickle of fur and the pain of shifting tissue and bone.  With the wilding progression so far advanced, Dustin could have turned in seconds, but it took two full minutes and a forced march across the complex parking lot to calm himself enough to say he was even mostly human again.

And all the while, every single second, the wolf in him gnawed at his insides.  It demanded he turn, feed, mate with a ravening hunger and savagery.  It demanded he mate, but surely it meant fuck, not mate.  Not mate.

It occurred to Dustin only then that he’d never stopped to wonder what the difference would feel like, between finding a woman who hardened his cock and one that called to his wolf in a way no other did.  He had always just assumed he would never actually mate, as female Odin’s Wolves were rare, but hadn’t he heard Ron talk awhile back about a Fenris Wolf who’d paired with a wolfkin who had never even turned and another shifter who had somehow bonded with a full on human?

Dustin did remember one particular pack teaching quite clearly: one of the few things capable of arresting the wilding progression that eventually obliterated the human in a werewolf was finding a true mate.

-End Excerpt-

So hopefully that sample both whet the appetite and provided enough of a taste to hold everyone over until Monday or Tuesday, when the processing will be done.  In the meantime...

To help spread the word about Master of Hearts: A Domination and Submission Romance Anthology, which is a hit thus far on Amazon as well as B&N, the authors involved (myself included!) are hosting a big Amazon gift card giveaway.  There are fifteen cards of differing values to win and numerous ways to enter.  Check it out!