Audiobook: Running With Scissors By LA Witt Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Running-with-Scissors-Audiobook/B07N7Y711Q?qid=1549302973&sr=1-5&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_5&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=G56K1FPHDPT38GMSD558&

Blurb

Eighteen months ago, drummer Jude Colburn made the biggest mistake of his life when he walked away from his band just as they were on the brink of success. Now, he’s got a second chance. The band’s bassist just quit, and Jude plays bass almost as well as he plays drums. The other band members aren’t thrilled, but they are desperate.

Running with Scissors needs him, but there’s one condition: no hooking up with bandmates. That’s what ruined things eighteen months ago, after all. Jude’s on board, but no one warned him about the drummer who replaced him. A.J. Palmer is shy and unassuming . . . until he hits the stage. He gets Jude’s attention from the first beat, and suddenly that “no hookups” rule isn’t so easy to follow.

Keeping secrets on a tour bus isn’t easy either, and it’s only a matter of time before the band catches on. When everything hits the fan, Jude has to choose: a second chance at the career he’s always regretted leaving, or a shot at the man of his dreams?

Review

So I will admit that I mostly skimmed this book.

I LOVE the idea. LOVE the author. LOVE the cover. But I didn’t love the outcome.

Jude left his band high and dry and when he returns he’s told absolutely no hook-ups will be tolerated with other band members. So of course… he and AJ find themselves having to hide their developing love for each other and that causes lots of strife and on again/off again angst. Turns out Jude had a “thing” with another band member and there are unresolved feelings between the two to this day.

I didn’t really like Jude all that much and kinda felt AJ was a bit wishy-washy. So their “passion” was just as uneventful for me. In fact, I thought the most passionate thing in the book was the violent reaction to the hook-up the other band members had rather than the love between our two MCs. (The women in particular were pretty screechy.)

I was kinda hoping for this “super shy on the tour bus” guy to become this totally “hot and madly passionate” guy with his beau but it was kinda luke-warm instead. Usually LA Witt is full of hawt and sexy love scenes sometimes a little on the kinky side, but this was pretty white bread.

I think, had I not had high expectations because of my fandom for the author I wouldn’t have felt as let down, because it is still a “good” book, just not as great as I’d come to expect. (As you can tell from my previous review of Static – I am a big fan of this author.)

So, with that… I give it a fair 3 of 5 stars.

Audio

I think Michael Ferraiuolo adds a LOT to this story. He gives it more depth and makes it more engaging. I really think this is the best way to enjoy this story and recommend it in this format the most.

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Audiobook: Enemies to Lovers: Hostile Ground by LA Witt and Aleksandr Voinov narrated by Nick J Russo

audiobookreview

Audible

https://www.audible.com/pd/Hostile-Ground-Audiobook/B07PJWLDBN?pf_rd_p=ae76b2bb-e63d-4a67-b357-dab3dee05ca1&pf_rd_r=QF3XHHK2W1HP2PT00E1K&ref=a_library_c4_libItem_B07PJWLDBN

Blurb

After the deaths of three undercover cops investigating a drug ring in a seedy strip club in Seattle, Detective Mahir Hussain has been sent to finish the job. He joins the club’s security team in the hopes of finding enough evidence to bust the operation before the men in charge find a reason to put him in a shallow grave. To protect the strippers, only gay men can work the club. Ridley, the cold and intimidating head of security, knows exactly how to test potential new hires-including Mahir. From the minute they meet, Mahir and Ridley engage in a dangerous dance of sex and mind games. Mahir needs to find his evidence before Ridley figures out he’s a cop-and before they both grow too close to betray one another.

As the game goes on, Mahir burrows deeper into the operation, where he learns there’s much more happening than meets the eye . . . and why every cop who made it this far has been silenced with a bullet.

Review

LA Witt is one of my must-read authors, but I had not read anything by Aleksandr Voinov before. Let me tell you, the two of them together are FANTASTIC! I will definitely be updating my TBR list with them in mind.

Hostile Ground is a full-length novel that reads like a novella because it is so fast-paced and page-turning.

What I loved about this book:

– The two MCs are both very alpha but realistic and not over the top. They are both in law enforcement, so you have that certain “cop” element/ego, but both have a nurturing side that they are not afraid to show.
– Kinza, Mahir’s nephew. He added a wonderful element of family and continuity to the story and I am really, really hoping we will see him in a future book!
– The action/mystery part of the story. Usually this part of the book is filler for me. I really like the emotions/relationship part of a romance and the rest is just a vehicle for that. In this book the mystery part of the story (catching the bad guys) was really exciting and kept my interest.
– The relationship/Sex. Super sweet relationship with very hot sex. Enough said.
– Nontraditional characters. I really enjoyed the fact that Mahir is Muslim and not a stereo-type but a full-fledged, unique character who gives us insight into a culture not typically seen in most romances.

What I didn’t love:
– That it ended!
– That I haven’t seen the sequel yet!

This is a fantastic book by a fantastic writing duo and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Audio

Nick is – yet again – wowing me with his talent! I loved the subtle way he chose to portray Mahir. He does a great job with the LOADS of characters in this story including the young characters and the female.

This absolutely is the best way to enjoy this story – highly recommended!

6 of 5 stars!


Copy Purchased for Review

Recent Release: Four by Tia Fielding

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/four-by-tia-fielding-10643-

Blurb
A Love by Numbers Story When unlikely attraction blossoms between a twentysomething genderqueer tattoo artist and an older, small-town veterinarian, both are forced to face their pasts for a chance at a loving future. Four years ago Padraig Donovan lost his husband, the only man he’d ever been with. Now his life consists of the work he loves, a big empty house, and the possibility of a lonely future. Kaos’s experiments with makeup landed him in the hospital at the hands of his disapproving ex. With nowhere else to turn, he flees to Acker, Wisconsin… and runs into a sexy widower and the kindest man he’s ever met. Padraig and Kaos know there’s something worth exploring between them, and as they raise a puppy and deal with the ups and downs of their respective jobs, they fit into each other’s lives in ways they never expected. Being with Kaos—who is so different than the guys he’s always been attracted to—opens up an exciting new world for Padraig. But can he convince Kaos to trust another man with his body… let alone his heart

Review
This is a slow and steady story about two men who have suffered in their life. Because of this the story contains triggers which are sensitively dealt with. I like that this is not a story where finding ‘the one’ means all is cured. Both Kaos and Padraig work work hard at building their relationship. Bonding over the care of a cute puppy. I think that because the story is so steady where there’s no drama or misunderstandings it took me a while to get into it. When I did I found it easy reading and fell for Kaos’s determination and Padraig’s gentleness. Kaos has found a place where he can be himself and found acceptance. Padraig is ready to let go of his husband who died four years ago and move on. Not having read the first book, Ten, I thought the town of Acker was portrayed very well. There are a lot of characters that I assume were introduced in Ten, especially Makai and Emil with secondary parts. I think Four can be read as a stand alone story.

3.5 of stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Audiobook: Life, Some Assembly Required (The Rebuilding Year #2) by Kaje Harper narrated by Gomez Pugh

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Life-Some-Assembly-Required-Audiobook/B07M68BCSW?ref=a_lib_c4_libItem_7_B07M68BCSW&pf_rd_p=ae76b2bb-e63d-4a67-b357-dab3dee05ca1&pf_rd_r=0ZAHTHRQJHPC89EKEXYP&

Blurb

Finding love in the ashes was easy. Building a life together? Not so much.

After spending the first part of his life chasing pretty girls, love has finally come to Ryan in the form of John, a tall, lanky, red-headed landscape architect with wide shoulders and a five-o’clock shadow. For the first time in Ryan’s life, love feels easy. Hell, he even ran into a burning building for John and his son, and he’d do it again if he had to. But telling his father and brothers and classmates “I’m gay. I’ve met a man”? That’s going to take nerve of a different kind.

For John, loving Ryan is as natural as breathing. Now if only the rest of his life would fall into place. Dealing with his teen son is complicated enough, but with his ex-wife causing trouble and his daughter wanting to move in, John’s house – and his relationship with Ryan – threaten to split at the seams. Is one month without a new surprise knocking him upside the heart really too much to ask? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be yes.

Review

First, this is the sequel to The Rebuilding Year, and you must have read it before for this lovely novel to mean anything to you.

We left off with Ryan just telling his dad he’d met a man… This is the story of how to build a life with someone AFTER the initial blush of romance.

And that’s just it – it takes work. John and Ryan have to work at their relationship. They have to battle John’s crazy (seriously crazy) ex-wife Cynthia for John’s kids and their sanity. They have to battle Ryan’s homophobic brother and his Dad’s less than warm welcome. Ryan has to continually battle his pain.

What they don’t do is battle each other. That was a really nice touch. Sometimes – in sequels – the couple separates and we have to fight to bring them back together again, almost like a new story. In this case John and Ryan’s love for each other is strong and pervasive. The world throws them curve balls and they work as a team to hit them out of the park.

I loved the emerging personalities in John’s kids. Torrie is a force to be reckoned with and I loved her teen-age angst and thought it felt very authentic.

This wasn’t as “hot” as The Rebuilding Year – not that there isn’t plenty of great sex – there is – but the sexual tension was less and the book focused more on the emotional growth of the relationship at the same time the couple “experiments” with their newfound sex life.

The Rebuilding Year was one of my all time favorite books and it set an extremely high bar. I loved catching up with the guys and learning more about their lives. Kaje Harper is an amazing writer and she crafted another excellent story here. For me, it wasn’t quite as amazing as it’s predecessor, but it was still wonderful and a must read for her fans and fans of the first book.

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

I love listening to Gomez Pugh. He does a really nice job for John’s voice, deep, a little older, definitely sexy! He does a great job giving us unique voices for the other characters including the children and the female characters.

I find listening to him soothing and he really allows the story to shine through.

Highly recommended!

5 of 5 stars

Overall 5 of 5 stars

 

 
Copy Purchased for Review

Recent Release: Raze (Riven #3) by Roan Parrish

Good reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42274594-raze?from_search=true

Blurb

Sometimes the walls we build to save ourselves have to come tumbling down.

For the last ten years, Huey has built his life around his sobriety. If that means he doesn’t give a damn about finding love or companionship for himself, well, it’s probably better that way. After all, the last thing he wants is to hurt anyone else. Until Felix Rainey walks into his bar, fresh-faced, unbearably sweet—and, for some reason Huey can’t fathom, interested in him.

As the eldest of five kids, Felix Rainey spent his childhood cooking dinner, checking homework, and working after-school jobs. Now in his twenties, he’s still scrambling to make ends meet and wondering what the hell he’s doing with his life. When he meets Huey, he’s intimidated . . . and enamored. Huey’s strong and confident, he owns his own business—hell, he’s friends with rock stars. What could he ever see in Felix?

As Huey and Felix get closer, the spark catches and soon they can’t get enough of each other. But Huey’s worked hard to avoid intimacy, and Felix threatens his carefully constructed defenses. Huey realizes he needs to change if he wants to truly put his past behind him—and build a future with Felix.

Review

This was so, so good!
It took me awhile to get into this because I was really nervous about the entire “sobriety” thing that is a recurring theme in the series but – though it is definitely a main theme – it almost took a back seat to the really sweet and awkward romance between these two totally mismatched heroes.

I loved that Felix had to really dig deep and find his own happiness and how Huey had to admit his “patterns” were no longer helpful.

The heat is just right – a fair amount of steam but this is really more about the feels.

Highly recommended! I think it’s best when read as part of the series but it can absolutely stand on its own.

5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Audiobook: Here Comes Trouble (Nothing Special #3) by A.E. Via Narrated by Aiden Snow

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Here-Comes-Trouble-Audiobook/1977343732?pf_rd_p=d4bd4ee1-b56e-4ffb-8f73-3fbb8d604669&pf_rd_r=K2MX6R0AMP3S7SYERRQ4&ref=a_author_A-_c19_lProduct_1_1

Blurb

Detectives Mark Ruxsberg and Chris Green are very good at their jobs. Being the enforcers for God and Day’s notorious Atlanta PD Narcotics Task Force causes the crazy duo to get into more trouble than they can often get out of. The pair never misses out on an opportunity to drive their Lieutenants crazy with their dangerous, reckless, and costly stunts, landing them in the hot seat in front God… often.

Ruxs and Green love their jobs and they don’t mind the very demanding schedule that leaves them little time for socializing or dating. It was fine with them, they enjoyed hanging out with each other anyway.

However, most of the men in their close circle of friends and colleagues are pairing off and settling down. God has Day, Ro has Johnson, and their Sergeant Syn has Furious.

For the past several years, Ruxs has only sought out the advice and company of one person, his partner and best friend Green, and vice versa. Both of these alpha males are presumed straight, but neither can deny the heat that’s building in their once ‘just friends’ relationship.

Review

I love this series! It’s super sexy, full of romance, and full of Alpha males falling in love – often with other Alpha males!

In this case we get a bi-sexual enforcer who falls for his “straight” partner who is also falling. The two end up pseudo-adopting a kid and become a really wonderful family.

While I do sometimes skim over the smexy times – there are a lot! – the romance and the storyline keep me hooked and eagerly turning pages.

I’m a big fan of this “new to me” narrator Aiden Snow and I’ve LOVED what he has to do with this series. He totally gets the characters and does a great job with the accents, the emotion, the dialog and even the female characters.

Highly recommended!

4.5 for the book
5 for the narration

Overall 5 of 5 stars

Copy Generously Provided For Review

Audiobook: Circle of Darkness (Genesis Circle #1) by Nicholas Bella and Aimee Nicole Walker Narrated by Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Circle-of-Darkness-Audiobook/197734495X?pf_rd_p=284b47b1-a5db-4711-9667-612f2ac7458e&pf_rd_r=GDG00TYSD870GGZW6PNW&ref=a_series_Ge_c5_lProduct_1_1

Blurb

There isn’t a monster D’Angelo Kumar can’t destroy or a crisis he can’t manage until he meets Angel Bai. The insane attraction he feels toward the sexy waiter is unwelcome because D’Angelo doesn’t have room in his life for relationships. A solitary path is the only option for a man like him, but fighting his growing feelings for Angel may be the first battle he can’t win.

Angel’s abilities extend beyond memorizing the menu at D’Angelo’s favorite Italian restaurant, but he knows better than to trust anyone with his secret. When a vision reveals that D’Angelo’s life is in danger, he will risk everything to save him. The only thing scarier than monsters and demons to Angel is never knowing D’Angelo’s touch.

To say the demon hunter is reluctant to form a partnership with the psychic is putting it mildly, but D’Angelo needs every advantage he can get when the world’s very existence is threatened. As darkness looms nearer, D’Angelo and Angel’s unexplainable connection grows stronger. For a chance at happiness, the two men will need to call upon unlikely allies for an epic showdown between good and evil.

Sexy, witty, and action-packed, Circle of Darkness is the first book in the Genesis Circle paranormal romance series by Nicholas Bella and Aimee Nicole Walker. This book contains sexually explicit material and is intended for adults 18 and older.

Review

While both books 1 and 2 are full of magic and adventure, I felt book 1 was a bit more humorous and full of snark.

Book 1 also took the time to do the world building the entire series will rest upon so it does move a bit slower than the second book.

I can’t say I really liked D’Angelo much – he was mostly a pompous ass for the majority of the book – but he does come around and he grew on me a little.

I really didn’t like the name game that the authors played here – I think choosing more distinct names would have made more sense but… that’s just my own taste.

3.5 of 5 stars

Audio

Joel does his usual awesome job of narrating this story which is chock full of characters with unique backgrounds! I totally loved the ‘tude he gave D’Angelo and really made his voice match his personality as written by the authors. Terrific job and definitely the best way to enjoy this story.

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased For Review

Audiobook: Embracing His Syn by A.E Via; narrated by Aiden Snow

audiobookreview

Audible

https://www.audible.com/search?keywords=embracing+syn&ref=

Blurb:
Sergeant Corbin ‘Syn’ Sydney had dedicated his life to becoming the best detective. So when he heard there was an opening on the notorious Atlanta Narcotics Task Force, he jumped at the chance. But, what he wasn’t ready for was realizing just how lonely he’d made himself, when he observed the loving and dedicated relationship between the two men he served under: Lieutenant Cashel ‘God’ Godfrey and Lieutenant Leonidis Day.
Syn prepared himself to accept his lonely fate until he walked into a small pub and met the long-haired, tattooed bartender, Furious Barkley. Before Syn can even understand why, he’s overcome with feelings he barely recognizes: passion, yearning, craving. And if the dark, lustful gazes are anything to go by, Furious might be feeling the same things for him.
Just two thing needs to happen before Syn and Furi can give each other what’s been missing from their lives for so long… Syn needs to find the evidence that proves Furi’s innocence of murder, as well as protect him from a past that refuses to let go.

God, Day, Ronowski, and Johnson are still as entertaining as ever…

Review:
Story: I read this story a while back – I liked it, a lot but it wasn’t my favourite in the series. It’s an interesting story – Syn transferred to God and Day’s team to forge his own path, separate from his family of policemen. Because he’s always been focused on his career, he has never been in a relationship, let alone with a man, but when he meets Furi, his feelings change. Syn is bent on becoming a part of Furi’s life, meanwhile, Furi is intent on keeping a low profile after escaping from an abusive relationship. There is a lot of heat and chemistry between the 2 men, and it was interesting to see how their romance developed. It was fun to see God and Day; Ro and Johnson and some new faces in their alpha and sometimes hilarious element ☺

Narration: Aiden Snow made me love the book! He has a gorgeous voice, so well suited for the growly, alpha men that dominate the story. He has been great for the series so far ☺ The only (minor) observation is that there is not that much distinction between most of the men, but the story is well written enough that you always know which character is talking.

Story: 4 stars
Narration: 4.5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Recent Release: Survive and Conquer by Andrew Grey

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/survive-and-conquer-by-andrew-grey-10614-b

Blurb

Newton DeSantis was on the ground when the towers collapsed on 9/11. Though he still carries the scars on his body and his heart, he’s determined to ease some of the world’s suffering. Now a social worker and father to two children with special needs, he’s doing his best. But when one of his cases needs a good lawyer, Newton turns to Chase for help.

Family law attorney Chase Matthews is a rising star, and he’s in high demand. Still, Newton is very persuasive, and Chase takes his case pro bono. Everything about the other man appeals to Chase, but he’s determined to keep the relationship professional—even though, after meeting Newton’s kids, he wants to be a part of their lives.

Chase’s job doesn’t always allow him to pick his clients, though, and a case that could make him partner will put him on the opposite side of the courtroom from Newton—along with everything he believes in and the future they could build together.

Review

Another great story by Andrew Grey. Newton and Chase are both dealing with demons from their past. Newton is struggling with PTSD, while dealing with the stress of working as a social worker and being a father to two special needs children. While Newton seems a bit meek, he starts off the story almost bullying Chase, a well-respected attorney into helping him with one of his cases. Chase is so understanding and sweet with the children. Like most of Andrew’s stories there is some drama stirred up by a family member but it’s not overtly angsty. You really can’t go wrong with an Andrew Grey book!!

4 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Release Blitz! Eli Easton’s How to Run with the Wolves!

 

 
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 

Cover Design: Reese Dante


Howl At The Moon Series


How To Howl At The Moon (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
How To Walk Like A Man (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
How To Wish Upon A Star (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
How To Save A Life (Book #4) – Amazon US | Amazon UK

 
Blurb 



Zeus loves his job on the Mad Creek Search & Rescue team, and his inner Saint Bernard is finally being used to his full potential. When he sees a mysterious and wild-looking quickened—a dog shifter—at an earthquake site in Alaska, Zeus is compelled to investigate. Zeus falls hard for the primal beauty of Timo and of Alaska itself. Both call to his deep canine soul. But the Qimmig pack’s laws are as harsh as the Alaskan winters, and Timo is out of his reach.

 
Timo’s pack of dog shifters left their Inuit village generations ago and have lived wild ever since. Not trusting the “one-skinned,” and with their numbers dwindling, the Qimmig are on the verge of extinction. Timo is shocked to discover a whole group of “two-skinned” working as a rescue team, and he is particularly fascinated by Zeus, a gentle giant. He senses what Zeus feels for him… but it’s forbidden.
 
Can Mad Creek save this lost quickened clan? Perhaps—if they can learn how to run with the wolves.
 

Exclusive Excerpt

 

Chapter 1 – Fault Line


August

Anchorage, Alaska

Zeus


“All right, guys. Remember: stay in your section and stay with your partner. No matter what. And make sure your radios are on so I can contact you. Check them. Are they on right now?”


Zeus knew his radio was on, but he obeyed Matt and checked it anyway, as did the other eight quickened in the Mad Creek Search and Rescue team. Yup, the red light was illuminated.


“Mine is on!” Sammy called out with barely suppressed excitement. Other voices rang out too. The team was eager to get moving, Zeus included. His skin itched with the need to run, sniff, find.


But their team commander, Matt, didn’t release them just yet. He had his hands on his hips and was giving them all a stern look. His glower was all for show, Zeus knew. You could see the pride behind it, wanting to break out. Matt was a good leader. He was a full-blooded human, so he was less likely to get distracted by the job than the rest of them, and he knew just how to coordinate with the other human relief crews at a disaster site. And if people thought the Mad Creek group was weird, Matt dealt with it somehow, keeping the secret of the quickened, well, secret.


“All right, team.” Matt clapped Sammy on the back. “Go save some lives!”


They scattered, everyone running. They looked like orange confetti, Zeus thought, with everyone wearing the Search and Rescue uniform—heavy neon orange canvas pants, orange T-shirts, black heavy-duty hiking boots, and small gray vest and packs with first aid gear and tools. Blood pumped hard in Zeus’s veins. Since joining Mad Creek Search and Rescue, Zeus and the team had been deployed three times, once to a flood and twice to help with wildfires. And even in his brief stint with the group, Zeus had found a sense of purpose and usefulness he’d never felt before.


He was born for this! And it felt incredible to let that part of him operate to its potential.


Zeus and his partner, Sammy, headed into the section Matt had assigned them. From their command post in Delaney Park, they ran north on G Street. They had the area from 3rd to 9th streets to the north and south and H to C streets west to east. Some of the street signs were down or hidden in rubble, but Zeus could still see the map in his mind, and he knew where to go.


The 7.5 earthquake had hit near Anchorage eight hours ago. It had struck just after nine in the morning when the downtown buildings and streets had been full of people. Since then, the city had been rocked by several large aftershocks. Roads were cracked and split apart, becoming stairsteps. Shattered glass was everywhere from windows that exploded under the pressure of buckling walls. Rubble made haphazard mounds that spilled into the street. Tall brick buildings had gaping holes that looked like missing teeth, and a couple had lost their heads entirely. The landscape was uneven, a building here and there in ruins while others stood tall and straight, unaffected or missing only a few panes of glass. And there were so many smells! There were dangerous smells like oil and smoke and sad ones like blood and fear and even death.


For a moment, Zeus hesitated, looking down G Street. Where to start? He wanted to go everywhere at once. A loud siren pierced the air, hurting Zeus’s sensitive ears, but he was too focused on the job to care.


Sammy stepped up beside him and pointed to a field of rubble on the right between two taller buildings. Big cement slabs stuck up and jagged ends of rebar were exposed like broken bones. A triangular slab stood into front of the pile, one pointed end buried in the asphalt as if it were a memorial statue. “Look, Zeus! I bet that was a parking garage. And I bet people are trapped in there. Let’s see if we can help.”


“Okay!” Zeus agreed, and the two of them ran toward the rubble. His blood sang in his ears. Find them, find them, find them.


They scrambled over cement and dust. Zeus could smell people here, people trapped under the collapsed parking garage—one, two, at least four people. The scent drew a mind map in his head of where they were located, how deep, how far from him in 3D. He sniffed around and around, moving in a circle, skin thrumming, every sense on alert. Yes, here, and here, far down.


Zeus pointed and rattled off his finds, interpreting the scent-pictures for Sammy, giving him distances and head count. Sammy wrote numbers on the little flags, planted them where Zeus said, and relayed the news to Matt over the radio. There were two older people, a man and a woman together, probably in a car. There was blood with them, but not much, and their heartbeats were strong. They calm one another, Zeus thought, an idea that entered his head and flittered away again with so much to smell and others to help.


A short distance away, he found two bodies both ten feet down. Near them he detected the faint smell of old urine, like you might find in a stairwell. Face sad, Sammy set a black flag with a “2” written on it.


Zeus sniffed around the perimeter he’d set for himself, three times, four, to be sure he’d caught everything, that the little flags matched the map in his head.


Sammy signed off the radio call. “Matt’s gonna let the fire department know. They’ll bring the big machines. It’s so sad. The ones who are alive, are they scared? I bet they’re scared.” He took a crowbar from his tool belt and banged on a piece of rebar sticking from the cement near the yellow “2” flag. “We’re here! We’re here and we will come for you! Don’t be afraid!”


Don’t be afraid. The words echoed in Zeus’s head. Don’t be afraid.


“Oh, those poor people. I wish we could dig! I wish we could dig right now! Are you sure they’re too far down?” Sammy leaned down close to a flag to sniff and listen.


Zeus just grunted. He was sure.


He loved many things about the Mad Creek Search and Rescue team.


He loved that everyone on the team—except for team-leader Matt—was a quickened and thus had a dog’s keener sense of smell and hearing and doggie instincts.


He loved that his teammates had boundless energy and enthusiasm.


He loved their compassion and can-do attitudes. They never got cranky and they never complained. Zeus had been born quickened, but he’d worked with many humans over the years, so he appreciated those traits.


He loved the sense of pack he was developing with his S-and-R brothers and sisters. The Mad Creek Search and Rescue team was made up of Sammy, a young chocolate lab, Goldy, a pretty and bouncy golden retriever in her twenties, a middle-aged German shepherd named Bacon, a somber young bloodhound named Watson, and a tough pit bull named Lola Blue who was thick and stocky with a square face, small gold eyes, grayish brown skin, and short hair the same amazing shade of blue-gray as her dog fur. Georgia and Roscoe, both mixed breeds, rounded out the team. Matt was the only human in the group. All together there were nine of them.


In short, Zeus loved this job. If Mad Creek had become too crowded to take, the S-and-R crew was small enough for Zeus to bear. Even if he sometimes felt he would never really be one of the Mad Creek quickened.


Zeus continued, picking his way over the rubble, scrambling on his hands and feet when the way got rough. The heavy steel-toed boots on his big arched feet enabled him to step anywhere, testing each foot-place for stability before settling his considerable weight on it. Despite his large size, he felt light and nimble with the adrenaline coursing through his veins.


He had Sammy place several more yellow flags. And then….


“Here!” he told Sammy, huffing the rich scent. “There’s a man buried right here. We can get this one. He’s not far down at all.”


Sammy sniffed the ground, his face lighting up. “He’s alive.”


“He’s alive,” Zeus agreed. He went down on his knees and began to dig with both gloved hands.


A scree hill of gravel and powdered cement had landed here, next to a fallen piece of wall. Zeus’s hands were faster than his tools for small material like this, and his heavy gloves were nearly as good protection as the thick pads of his paws in his dog form. Sammy joined in, and the two of them scooped out the loose material and pulled away small chunks of cement and metal, finally clearing a hole under the piece of wall.


The hole was dark for a moment as the cloud of debris settled. Then fingers reached up. They were a man’s fingers, rough-hewn and covered with gray dust.


“Hello,” came a voice, then a cough. “H-hello? Are you there? Help me, please?” His voice had an accent Zeus had never heard before.


“Hello!” Sammy called out, his voice happy. “Yes, we’re here to help you. Are you hurt?”


More coughing. “Oh, thank fuck. I’ve felt better. I think I’m okay, but I would like to get out now.”


“We’ll get you out. Don’t worry!” Sammy enthused, while Zeus examined the situation. They had to be careful, because they didn’t want to cause the rubble to collapse. But the piece of wall on top of the hole felt stable when Zeus tested it. It wasn’t going anywhere. With some more digging—the man helped from inside with his bare hands—they managed to enlarge the hole. Sammy shone his light inside and they saw the man’s face. He was a young man, maybe in his twenties, and he had skin deeply tanned by the sun, eyes with a slight epicanthic fold, black hair covered in dust, and a lop-sided grin. Zeus thought he might be Inuit.


Sammy passed the man a bottle of water, and he unscrewed it and drank it thirstily, water making tracks in the dirt down his blue T-shirt.


Zeus sat back on his heels. The man was not badly hurt. He and Sammy could pull him out and send him on to the hospital. Then they could keep working. There was so much work to do. So many more to find! And hopefully they’d find more survivors, like this one, maybe even more they could dig out on their own. It was so satisfying to see them climb out of the earth like newborns, to know he had saved a life. Zeus would never tire of it in a million years.


As he waited for the man to finish drinking, Zeus’s gaze scanned ahead over the field of rubble. They could probably scramble over most of it and….


And that was when Zeus saw him.


About thirty feet away, standing on the flat roof of a small building, was a man.


The sun was behind him, his form outlined in the glowing light. He was average in height but taut and whip lean in faded, low-slung jeans, wide belt, and a short-sleeved T-shirt that was molded to his muscles. His brown hair gleamed red where it was struck by the sun and was incredibly thick, straight, and long, falling to his waist. Strands floated around him in the cold breeze. His eyes looked pale, though it was hard to tell from this distance.


Zeus sniffed, catching the barest tease of a new scent. It broke through the cloying, heavy aroma of dust and oil and smoke as though someone had opened a window in a stale house. The new scent was fresh, like the wind off a glacier, and there was something wild in it, too, wild and free, like deer or elk or… or…


Wolves?


Zeus couldn’t see the man’s face very well, backlit as he was, but something about him took Zeus’s breath away. His posture was agile and proud. And he was staring at Zeus. Right at him. His body was rigid, and Zeus could swear he was scenting him too.


Why the sight should strike him so deeply, Zeus didn’t know. But the man didn’t look like a rescue worker. He didn’t look like an office worker. He didn’t look like anything Zeus had ever seen before. He seemed to be a mirage, like something pulled up from the buried depths of Zeus’s own mind.


There was a grunt and a scramble next to him. Zeus turned to see the Inuit man dusting off his shirt.


“Are you okay?” he asked.


“You have blood on your pants,” Sammy said worriedly. “Is your leg hurt? You can lean on me.”


The man shook his leg and stomped his foot twice. “Nah, I’m good. Just a scratch.”


Zeus looked back to where he’d seen the strange man—but he was gone. There was nothing there now but an empty roof and the bright glare of the afternoon sun.


“Did you see him?” Zeus asked Sammy and the rescued man. He pointed at the roof. “There was a man. Right there.”


Sammy looked confused. “Huh? I didn’t see anyone, Zeus.”


But the dark-skinned man grimaced, his face knowing. “Qimmig,” he muttered.


“What?”


The man coughed, then wiped his mouth. “It’s a tribe. They’re around. They work on the big buildings. Construction, you know? Hey, thank you guys for finding me. My name’s Aput. You saved my life, dudes!”


Aput gave Sammy a hug, which Sammy was happy to reciprocate. Then Aput turned to Zeus, his arms held wide. Zeus wasn’t much of a hugger with strangers, but the man’s grin was infectious, so Zeus hugged him too.


“I have a wife and three little ones back in my village. They’ll want very much to thank you! Man, I thought I was going to die in there.” He wiped a hand across his sweaty brow, smearing dirt. And despite all his brave words, his hand was shaking.


Well, of course it was. It would be terrifying to be buried for—Zeus checked his watch—nearly seven hours since the earthquake struck.


“We’re so happy you’re alive!” said Sammy. “Are you sure you don’t need to sit down and rest?”


But Zeus was anxious to keep moving, anxious to find more people to help, maybe anxious to see that Qimmig again too. “There’s first aid and food and water at the convention center. Do you know how to get there?”


“Yeah, I do. Hey, where are you guys from?” He looked at Sammy curiously, then up at Zeus. “Not Alaskan, huh?”


“Nope, we’re from Mad Creek!” said Sammy proudly. “That’s in California. We’re the Mad Creek Search and Rescue.” Sammy turned around and pointed to his back where the name was printed in black on the bright orange T-shirt. “I’m Sammy and this is Zeus.”


“Well, Sammy and Zeus. I’ll look for you again. Okay?”


“Okay!” Sammy said. “Be careful walking to the first aid station. Watch out for glass! You wouldn’t want to fall on your ass. Ha ha.”


Man, Sammy’s jokes. Zeus didn’t find them funny, but in this case, he was pretty sure he wasn’t the only one. He moved ahead, shutting out everything but the rubble under his feet.

 
 

About Eli


Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.


Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.


In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions