Loyal Wolf Leaps In

by Linda O. Johnston, author of Loyal Wolf (Harlequin Nocturne, August 2014)

Here comes Alpha Force again! Loyal Wolf, the sixth Alpha Force Harlequin Nocturne is an August 2014 release.

Alpha Force is my very special, covert military unit of shapeshifters.  Their abilities are amazing, and unique among shifters in their world.  Their very special shifting elixir allows them to determine when to shift, even outside a full moon, and retain their human awareness.

In Loyal Wolf, Deputy Sheriff Kathlene Bayler of Clifford County, Montana, discovers that a group of apparent anarchists has taken up residence on property near the Wyoming border.  The sheriff seems fine with it but Kathlene fears the consequences.

Unwilling to ignore the situation, Kathlene surreptitiously calls in undercover help from the U.S. government, and two members of Alpha Force, a covert military unit, arrive to check out the situation.

Despite the covertness of her request for assistance, Kathlene doesn’t like how these men remain so secretive around her.  Nor does she like the way she has to fight her irresistible attraction to one of them, Lieutenant Jock Larabey.

Jock arrives with his aide Staff Sergeant Ralf Nunnoz and his cover dog Click.  Jock plans to use his abilities to shapeshift into a wolf, who very much resembles Click, to complete this potentially dangerous assignment.  He will do anything to keep civilians out of harm’s way, even–especially–the brave and determined deputy sheriff who called in Alpha Force without knowing the true nature of many of its members.  But can he control Kathlene’s determination to help him bring down the anarchists?  Even more important, can he resist Kathlene’s undeniable sexiness?

What do you think?  Read Loyal Wolf and find out!

In case you can’t tell, I really enjoy writing about Alpha Force and its very special undercover military unit of shapeshifters.  And there are more to come!

About the Book

An alpha male meets his match…

Feisty, fearless deputy sheriff Kathlene Baylor is not the submissive type. When she detects suspicious behavior on the outskirts of her Montana town, she’s first to investigate. And when her own department refuses to take the anarchist threat seriously, she calls in the military. Little does she know the team assigned to her is not your average task force.

Shapeshifter Jock Larabey is part of the top secret Alpha Force dispatched to the scene. He’s also the sexiest man Kathlene has ever laid eyes on. And when she catches him shifting, she finds herself more aroused than scared. Jock feels the same way, and can’t control it for much longer. As the danger escalates, so does their desire….

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Excerpt: Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara

Fantasy author Michelle Sagara returns the city of Elantra in the tenth novel in her Chronicles of Elantra series, Cast in Flame. In this latest installment, Kaylin must deal with a dragon roommate, awakening magic and much, much more. Keep reading for excerpt from Cast in Flame and pick up your copy wherever books are sold.

Any day that starts with dragon arguments is going to be bad

Kaylin returned from the West March in one piece. Now that piece is fraying. She’s not at home in the Imperial Palace—and she never intends to be. All she wants is normal garden-variety criminals and a place of her own. Of course, normal in her new life involves a dragon as a roommate, but she can handle that.

She can’t as easily handle the new residents to the city she polices, because one of them is the outcast Barrani Nightshade’s younger brother. On a night when she should be talking to landlords in perfectly normal buildings, she’s called to the fief—by fellow Hawk and sometime partner Teela. A small family disagreement has become a large, complicated problem: Castle Nightshade’s latent magic is waking.

And it’s not the only thing.

Excerpt:

On the second day after her return to Elantra, the city she policed as a groundhawk, Private Kaylin Neya fell out of bed, daggers in hands, knees bent. After one confused moment, she sheathed her daggers, took a brief look around the otherwise empty royal guest chambers that served as her temporary home, and let loose a volley of Leontine curses.

The small, translucent winged lizard that habitually slept above her head squawked in protest; she’d swept him out of the way without a second thought. He hovered in front of her face as she cursed; she didn’t, at the moment, have anything left over for groveling apologies.

Leontine wasn’t the usual language heard in the halls of the Imperial Palace. Nor was it generally heard in the function rooms, and when it was, it wasn’t the particular phrasing she now indulged in. On the other hand, the thunderous sounds that had driven her from sleep pretty much guaranteed that no one who’d care could possibly hear her words. Kaylin could scream until she was blue in the face, with the same results. Anyone in the palace halls could, at the moment.

Dragons were having a discussion.

Read more »

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New Paranormal Releases: August 2014

by Amy Loosemore, Harlequin Digital

Enjoy the dog days of summer with the latest paranormal and fantasy romances from Harlequin, on sale this week!

The Hexed by Heather Graham (Part of the Krewe of Hunters series, Harlequin MIRA)

A PLACE OF HISTORY, SECRETS… AND WITCHCRAFT

Devin Lyle has recently returned to the Salem area, but her timing couldn’t be worse. Soon after she moved into the eighteenth-century cabin she inherited from her great-aunt Mina—her “crazy” great-aunt, who spoke to the dead—a woman was murdered nearby.

Craig Rockwell—known as Rocky—is a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s team of paranormal investigators. He never got over finding a friend dead in the woods. Now another body’s been found in those same woods, not far from the home of Devin Lyle. And Devin’s been led to a third body—by…a ghost?

Her discovery draws them both deeper into the case and Salem’s rich and disturbing history. Even as the danger mounts, Devin and Rocky begin to fall for each other, something the ghosts of Mina and past witches seem to approve of. But the two of them need every skill they possess to learn the truth—or Devin’s might be the next body in the woods…

Cast in Flame by Michelle Sagara (Part of the Chronicles of Elantra, Harlequin MIRA)

Any day that starts with dragon arguments is going to be bad

Kaylin returned from the West March in one piece. Now that piece is fraying. She’s not at home in the Imperial Palace—and she never intends to be. All she wants is normal garden-variety criminals and a place of her own. Of course, normal in her new life involves a dragon as a roommate, but she can handle that.

She can’t as easily handle the new residents to the city she polices, because one of them is the outcast Barrani Nightshade’s younger brother. On a night when she should be talking to landlords in perfectly normal buildings, she’s called to the fief—by fellow Hawk and sometime partner Teela. A small family disagreement has become a large, complicated problem: Castle Nightshade’s latent magic is waking.

And it’s not the only thing.

Shadow Hunter by Kait Ballenger (The Execution Underground series prequel, Harlequin HQN)

See where it all began in this exciting prequel to The Execution Underground, Kait Ballenger’s sexy paranormal series about the men who hunt evil and the women who love them

Vampire hunter Damon Brock’s first assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York. But he isn’t the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family—and she works solo. But when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf, the line between good and evil blurs as they must decide between their lifelong beliefs…and their newfound desires.

“Newcomer Ballenger offers an extremely promising high-voltage start to her series.”

Publishers Weekly on Twilight Hunter, starred review

Dark Wolf Returning by Rhyannon Byrd (Part of the Bloodrunners series, Harlequin Nocturne)

When werewolf Eli Drake is banished from his pack, he leaves a devastated and heartbroken Carla Reyes behind. Three torturous years later, she tracks him down to a hole-in-the-wall Texas bar—the pack is in trouble and war is on the horizon. Carla needs Eli’s help, but wants nothing more to do with him—even though he’s as ruthless, domineering and sexy as ever….

Eli hasn’t forgotten Carla. And the partial bite he gave her their last night together has had him lying awake nights imagining her sumptuous curves and supple lips. But Carla wants their bond broken, no matter the cost. Now, as they join forces, dare Eli hope that he can claim a future he never dreamed possible?
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Excerpt: The Hexed by Heather Graham

Heather Graham’s bestselling series Krewe of Hunters continues next week with a new suspenseful paranormal tale, The Hexed. This time, the Krewe tackles witchcraft and ghosts in an infamous location — Salem. Keep reading for an excerpt from The Hexed and pick up your copy July 29 wherever books are sold.

About the Book

A PLACE OF HISTORY, SECRETS… AND WITCHCRAFT

Devin Lyle has recently returned to the Salem area, but her timing couldn’t be worse. Soon after she moved into the eighteenth-century cabin she inherited from her great-aunt Mina—her “crazy” great-aunt, who spoke to the dead—a woman was murdered nearby.

Craig Rockwell—known as Rocky—is a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s team of paranormal investigators. He never got over finding a friend dead in the woods. Now another body’s been found in those same woods, not far from the home of Devin Lyle. And Devin’s been led to a third body—by…a ghost?

Her discovery draws them both deeper into the case and Salem’s rich and disturbing history. Even as the danger mounts, Devin and Rocky begin to fall for each other, something the ghosts of Mina and past witches seem to approve of. But the two of them need every skill they possess to learn the truth—or Devin’s might be the next body in the woods…

Excerpt:

Every once in a while Devin Lyle couldn’t help herself. People did such outrageous things sometimes that she just had to step in.

She stepped forward, positioning herself a little closer to the group standing by the memorial so she could hear what they were saying.

“Burn, witch! Burn!” a young man said. Despite his words, he was actually reverently placing a flower on the bench dedicated to one of the victims of the witch trials.

“How horrible. I can’t even imagine burning to death,” an older woman said.

“Excuse me,” Devin said. “None of the condemned in Salem were burned. Nineteen were hanged, and one man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death.”

“Really?” The older woman sounded relieved. “Not that hanging must have been less than horrible, but to burn…” She shuddered.

“Almost any tour you take in Salem is going to tell you about the victims—and tell you that no one was burned,” Devin said. They were all staring at her, and she suddenly felt self-conscious. She wasn’t a tour guide, after all. She wrote sweet, fun children’s books about a slightly crazy “witch.”

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Video: Jennifer L. Armentrout on The Dark Elements

What made #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout want to write about gargoyles? Does she have a preference between Zayne and Roth? Harlequin TEEN Senior Editor Margo Lipshultz sat down with Jennifer at this year’s Book Expo American conference to ask her these questions and more about her Harlequin TEEN paranormal series, The Dark Elements. Watch the video below to find out what Jennifer had to say, plus what readers can look forward to in book 2, Stone Cold Touch!

About the Book – White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements #1)

One kiss could be the last

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

About the Book – Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2)

Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay….

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Do Undercover Military Shapeshifters Exist?

by Linda O. Johnston, author of Loyal Wolf and the Alpha Force series (Harlequin Nocturne)

Do shapeshifters exist in our military?  Unlikely.  But can you imagine what a team like that could really accomplish?

That’s one reason I’m glad I created Alpha Force for my Harlequin Nocturne books.

Alpha Force is a highly covert military unit of shapeshifters.  In my shapeshifting world, most shifters can only change involuntarily during a full moon.  But those in Alpha Force get to drink a very special elixir that allows them to shift at will, and lets them keep their human awareness even under a full-moon shift, which normal shifters don’t.

Most Alpha Force shifters change into wolves, but there are also other kinds like a cougar, a lynx and a hawk.  They appeared a while back in Nocturne Bites, but you never know–maybe other kinds of shifters will appear again.

My shifters are pretty good at remaining covert.  They each have a non-shifting aide.  Plus, they all have cover animals that resemble them while they’re shifted, in case they’re seen by regular humans who need to be convinced that they must have been mistaken:   No, it had to have been a real canine you saw, not a shapeshifter.  See?  Here’s the real dog, and here’s the real person, in human form, whom you mistakenly thought was shifting.  After all, there’s no such thing as shapeshifters.

Hah!

So far there have been five full-length Alpha Force stories, and the sixth, Loyal Wolf, will appear next month.  There are more to come, too.

So think about it.  How would it feel to know there are wild wolves out there who can unobtrusively observe an enemy camp and let the military know what they’re doing, not simply by recording it on camera but by shifting back to human form and describing it and the dangers involved in bringing that enemy down.  And maybe even attacking… in wolf form.

Too bad it’s only fiction.

Or is it?

About the Book

An alpha male meets his match…

Feisty, fearless deputy sheriff Kathlene Baylor is not the submissive type. When she detects suspicious behavior on the outskirts of her Montana town, she’s first to investigate. And when her own department refuses to take the anarchist threat seriously, she calls in the military. Little does she know the team assigned to her is not your average task force.

Shapeshifter Jock Larabey is part of the top secret Alpha Force dispatched to the scene. He’s also the sexiest man Kathlene has ever laid eyes on. And when she catches him shifting, she finds herself more aroused than scared. Jock feels the same way, and can’t control it for much longer. As the danger escalates, so does their desire….

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Watch the Trailer for Drowned by Nichola Reilly

Imagine a world where dry land shrinks with every high tide. Imagine a girl — weak, deformed, shunned by society — trying to survive. And imagine that everything she knows is about the change… Check on the trailer for Drowned by Nichola Reilly, the start of a new Young Adult post-apocalyptic fantasy series on sale now from Harlequin TEEN.

About the Book

Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright spot in her harsh and difficult life is the strong, capable Tiam—but love has long ago been forgotten by her society. The only priority is survival.

Until the day their King falls ill, leaving no male heir to take his place. Unrest grows, and for reasons Coe cannot comprehend, she is invited into the privileged circle of royal aides. She soon learns that the dying royal is keeping a secret that will change their world forever.

Is there an escape from the horrific nightmare that their island home has become? Coe must race to find the answers and save the people she cares about, before their world and everything they know is lost to the waters.

“A resourceful and smart heroine and a society literally on the edge of survival. Take a deep breath, once you start reading you won’t be able to stop!” — Maria V. Snyder, author of Poison Study

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Valkyries, Dragons, and Demons, Oh My!

by Sharon Ashwood, author of Valkyrie’s Conquest 

Hot and cold makes a lot of steam, and that was exactly what I wanted for my tale of a sword maiden. Imagine an urban fantasy landscape, complete with marauding demons. Imagining an ice queen of an immortal reaping the souls of the dead, blind to love until a smoking hot dragon shifter awakens her heart.

I didn’t have to look far for inspiration for VALKYRIE’S CONQUEST. I was driving home with my radio tuned to an opera—which has nothing to do with my story except that it got me thinking about Norse myth. I’d read and reread those stories as a child, loving the tales of Odin, Loki, and Thor. The old gods were immortal and powerful but still subject to trickery and the Fates. As a consequence, they were always in some kind of trouble.

And, of course, there were the stories of the sword maidens, the beautiful Valkyries who reaped the souls of fallen warriors. Right there was the kernel of my story, because in the old myths, the youngest Valkyrie was trapped in a ring of fire until a mighty warrior kissed her awake from a magical slumber. The original kick-ass, sword-toting heroine, she’d been punished by her father, Odin, for disobedience—and for falling in love.

Like any good author, I plundered the story elements I wanted, added others, and came up with my own tale. The flames needed a personality, and so I gave my Valkyrie a dragon to love. And they needed a fight to win, and so I sent in demons—not to mention Odin and the Fates. It takes a dragon’s fiery heart and a Valkyrie’s sword to earn their happy ending, and sacrifices must be made.

The best folk tales are all about courage and faith and learning to love. That’s what I remember from the old myths, and those are the parts I didn’t change at all. Good stories are timeless, and even if I did send my sword maiden into coffee shops and gave her high heels, she has the same true, brave soul of the original. And as for Bron the dragon, with his brutal honesty and huge heart, well, he knows how to melt an ice maiden.

Fire + ice = steam. Enough said.

About Valkyrie’s Conquest:

conquestCan a fire-breathing shape-shifter melt a Norse battle maiden’s heart?

As a Valkyrie, Tyra was created for one purpose: to reap souls for Odin’s army. After centuries of walking among mortal warriors, she finally discovers what it is to want a man during a chance encounter with a dragon in human form.

Bron has no part in the war between the demons and the gods’ chosen people—nor does he want one. Finally free from the oppressive rule of the dragon queen, he desires nothing more than his independence. But, when Tyra is betrayed, he finds he has no choice but to take a side in the struggle between good and evil.

Once he joins the battle, Bron is subject to the Fates, whom Tyra serves. Will she defy the will of the gods to spare the dragon she loves?

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Writing the Unromance

by Emmie Mears, author of The Masked Songbird (Part of the Harlequin E Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Box Set Volume 2)

masked songbirdThere’s a song by Catherine MacLellan that makes a very good point: “Love never finds you when you want it to; it waits till you’ve stopped waiting.”

When I was younger, I got frustrated by stories that broke people up to get one of the former couple members together with someone else. As I got older and passed through a few relationships, coming out the other side, those stories stopped bothering me as much. When you’re single, sometimes a relationship — any relationship — can seem like the Holy Hand Grenade against life’s trials.

The problem is, not all relationships are good, and they’re certainly not all created equal. Another problem? They change. Sometimes that change is for the better, but when it’s not, it can create some really sticky situations.

As an author, I love sticky situations.

When The Masked Songbird opens, Gwen Maule seems to have the building blocks of a decent life stacked into some semblance of normalcy. Steady job. Roof over her head. Boyfriend. Mates to dream of having a pint with. But some building blocks just don’t fit together.

Gwen’s boyfriend Angus is one of those blocks. A crumbly one at that.

Writing this book was fun for many reasons, and not the least of which because I got to explore what happens when you’ve stopped waiting. I think many of us have experienced that kind of relationship. It starts out good — great, even. There’s passion and connection, eagerness and joy. Our glasses get dunked in rose-coloured paint that blinds us to red flags because they blend in with the pinkish hue of the world we see in front of us.

As time goes on, the rose paint drips off the glasses. Slowly the sun and the rain wear it away until you start to see the person more clearly. If you’re lucky, what you see isn’t so very different than what they look like with a healthy blush. But we all know that’s not always the case. Red flags appear slowly, and when we look behind us, we see they’ve been there all along.

That was what I wanted to show with Gwen and Angus, and while it may sound depressing, it allows for something better to take its place.

And it helps when you’ve got superpowers to let off some steam.

About the book:

 Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. She’s got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a flatmate to share rent. Gwen’s biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty quid until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishing strength. All of which come in handy the night she rescues her activist neighbour from a beat-down by political thugs.

Now Gwen must figure out what else the serum has done to her body, who else is interested and how her boss is involved. Finally—and most mysteriously—she must uncover how this whole debacle is connected to the looming referendum on Scottish independence.

Gwen’s hunt for answers will test her superpowers and endanger her family, her friends—even her country.

The Masked Songbird is currently available in the Harlequin E Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Box Set Volume 2 and will also be available individually on Sept. 1.

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Writing From Your Gut

by Sierra Woods, author of The Resurrectionist (Harlequin Nocturne)

We’ve all been encouraged to write the book of your heart. I’m suggesting you write the book of your gut. Every time I wrote the book of my heart it was…sweet, but no editor wanted to buy it.

Why wasn’t my book of the heart being accepted? `Cause it was a piece of crap!

For me, the idea of writing the book of my heart was great. No one would be offended by what I had to say in the book, everyone would love it, we’d all get along and everyone will be happy reading my little middle-of-the-road-sitting-on-the-fence books and we’d all sing kumbaya around the campfire.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Every manuscript I wrote was rejected. Our business is sometimes a brutal one. My ego was bruised, but I wasn’t ready to quit. So I changed tactics and researched an area I have expertise in (nursing) and found an editor who could work with my manuscript and turn it into something she could sell. Though I had nine books published that way, it wasn’t the book of my heart, and it didn’t inspire me to write great stories.

So what did?

When I found myself standing in front of my TV yelling at the reporter who was reporting about a woman who had been missing and then found dead a few days later. The trail led right to a family member who had been stealing her money for drugs.

That’s just not fair! It’s not right! That woman deserves to come back from the dead and kick the ass of the person who killed her.

I paused, midyell.

Well, now. Wasn’t that interesting? I’d inadvertently found something I cared deeply about and wanted to put into my books: justice.

Justice strikes a very deep, emotional and visceral tone within me. Truth. Fairness. Doing the right thing. These are all very important to me. So I decided to write the book of my gut, using the idea that made me yell at the TV. That woman deserved some universal justice. I couldn’t give it to her in reality, but I could in my fiction.

That’s when the first book in The Resurrectionist series was created. I wrote 80,000 words in 30 days. It needed work, but the framework flew out my fingertips like no other story I’d written. This was obviously the right story for me. I created a kick-ass heroine who had had her own trials but who was creating a new life for herself after she’d been given no choice.

If you’re having trouble discovering the great books within you, dig deep and find out what moves you. Write down the things that are important to you. What makes you stand up and yell at the TV? That’s what you should write about. That is the book of your gut.

What gets your visceral value system in an uproar and makes you yell at your TV?

About The Resurrectionist:

theresurrectionistEven the toughest resurrectionist needs protection sometimes…

And make no mistake: Dani is tough…so tough even the grave couldn’t keep her down. Ever since mysterious beings brought her back from her tragic murder, she’s been using her newfound powers to restore justice to the world of humans. It’s hard, dangerous work, and sometimes a little backup doesn’t hurt—especially when it comes from a hunky cop like Sam Lopez.

There’s only one catch: Dani’s past has taught her that she can’t trust another man. Besides, Sam has demons of his own to battle. They’ll just have to ignore the heat that’s building between them. Until a great evil begins to rise, and then Dani and Sam need to get closer than they’ve ever been.

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