I’m here at Marie’s kind invitation to talk a little about my latest release at Changeling Press -- the first story I’ve written that has a Christmas setting. Well, the moment I thought of the title, it had to. I struggle with titles sometimes but I knew from the outset I was going to call this Mistletoe and Whine, (a play on words from the Christmas song). That may give the impression it’s a light-hearted story, which it isn’t, although these characters are a lot of fun and are perfect for some hysterical punning. It’s a sequel to Hounding the Beat, but can be enjoyed as a standalone read without picking up the first book. I hope people will love these characters as much as I do, of course -- enough to try both novellas.
I wrote a follow-up because the characters remained vibrant and then I discovered a couple of my readers were equally eager to hear from them again. I’d left a loose thread dangling from the first book -- partly intentionally, partly because that’s how the story worked out -- that I could pick up, and it just felt natural to do so. So the basic idea already existed. The title then popped into my head, and filled in the gaps. It’s a shape-shifting paranormal erotic ménage romance, I guess -- if that’s one genre all by itself. I tend to mix things up.
My stories are all very different. For Changeling alone I’ve written about a marooned astronaut, the fae, vampires, and a good-feel alternative history featuring a knight, as well as a couple of contemporaries. I tend to write m/m, or m/m/f titles, but I’ve tried a few new things and now also write under a pseudonym that I don’t intend to give the in-laws. I wrote Hounding the Beat and Mistletoe and Whine because I was looking to write for Protect and Serve -- the series created by the wonderful Lena Austin, which meant *gulp* whatever I came up with had to please Lena as well as the usual suspects. I liked the series and wanted to be part of it.
I first chose police as my topic -- being able to put a spin on that in the form of the British ‘Bobbie’. Then I had to choose what kind of shape-shifter to use. I’ve wanted to write shape-shifting huskies for a while, and so Bobby Pooch and Chantelle Shepherd were born (what did I say about the punning *grin*). And then there’s Sam Sanders, who’s human. Really, both books are largely Sam’s story, though I didn’t even realise that at the time.
One final warning -- Mistletoe may require a box of tissues, and I mean for the odd sniffle if not outright cry. Funny how a good sob can be cleansing, especially when one is left with a reason to smile. The best books affect readers’ emotions after all, and with this one, I made those who went through the process with me have a lip tremble or two, including my editor and me.
It's Christmas, but alas, Sam has more to whine about than plastic mistletoe.
Bobby, Chantelle, and Sam's lives have changed. Bobby is now a rural cop while Chantelle and Sam run the Hare and Hounds Pub and Restaurant. Their new situation would be idyllic if the only blight was Health and Safety insisting they cannot decorate with real mistletoe for the holidays.
Truth is, Sam's not doing so well -- he's suffering too much pain in the leg that was injured in a past accident. Although Sam knows he has the love of two beautiful shifters, he can't help his frustration. He longs to run with them, not to feel so weak. If his pain weren't bad enough, there's danger in the surrounding woods, something Chantelle senses, fails to understand, and dismisses when Bobby distracts her with sex.
When Sam is kidnapped, he has real cause to whine. Will he live long enough to get the kiss under the mistletoe that he longs for, and will the plant have to be made of plastic?
“I’m fine.” Sam spoke on an inhalation. He clenched his jaw even as he got the words out.
“And I’m a cat lover.” Bobby wore only boxers so that when he gripped Sam by his upper arms and jerked him back, the movement forced him against a bare torso. The pause lasted a second then Bobby spun Sam around. Sam, clearly trying not to put weight on his injured leg, had no choice but to topple into Bobby’s arms. Sam looked more than adorable with those strong limbs wrapped around him, and a shocked though desirous expression breaking through the tension. The vision of Sam and Bobby together brought forth a wave of desire that made Chantelle’s sex and eyes weep. She wanted to do everything possible to make Sam forget his pain.
Holding her breath, looking from sensuous Bobby to sexy Sam, Chantelle had to bite her lower lip. She’d never get over the delight of seeing them together. Raw power sparked between them. It had taken time for that aspect of their relationship to develop. She would never have thought to call a look smouldering -- too melodramatic for her liking -- but the way Bobby gazed at Sam, she could think of no other description.
He often looked at her that way too, but it was different. The animal side in Bobby was more tempered when he stared at her. The husky in him was head of the pack, and she was his mate, but the human side saw her as an equal partner. Bobby was proud of her.
Sam… Sam called to the animal side of Bobby’s nature, maybe because a male was always wary of another seeking dominance. Bobby didn’t have to worry about that, and his human half understood. His animal half owned Sam, enjoyed putting Sam in his place.
Those mismatched eyes of Bobby’s -- one brown, one ringed in blue -- flicked down and then up, taking in the sight of Sam’s face with a lazy inspection that made Chantelle bite her lip harder.
“We’re taking this up to bed.”
They heard no argument from Sam, just a sharp intake of breath as Bobby lifted him. Held cradled in Bobby’s arms, Sam looked first startled then indecisive.
“Relax.” Bobby swayed a little, tipped Sam closer. Only then did Chantelle realise how tense Sam remained. “I know part of you rebels, but listen to the part that likes it. Let me carry you.” Bobby pressed his mouth close to Sam’s ear. “Let me take you to our bed so I can do despicable things to you.”
Humour existed in his tone, together with a degree of seriousness. Chantelle clutched the doorframe tighter, uncertain whether her knees could support her. A responding curl of desire had her twisting where she stood. As Bobby turned, still carrying Sam, she pushed away from the doorframe and shoved herself towards the stairs. If she were lucky, she’d manage to scramble up them and be waiting without embarrassing herself too much.
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