For Tristan and Ushna, nothing comes easy and with each passing day the challenges grow and the dangers multiply. The safe home they are building for their family and tribe is threatened from all sides, and the peace they seek is being torn apart by enemies and internal strife. Tristan dares not reveal his condition to any but those closest to him, all the while he's plagued by dreams he cannot remember upon waking...
And over all of it hangs the knowledge that his time with Ushna is running out. Because Ushna already has a Flame awaiting rebirth, and though Tristan would die to protect that bond, he constantly struggles against his beast who demands they bind Ushna to their side.
Pages or Words: 63,000
Categories: Fantasy, Gay, Paranormal, Polyamory, Urban Fantasy
About the author:
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
Where to find the author:
Web site: http://www.lexiander.com
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6521302.Lexi_Ander
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Cover Artist: London Burden
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am definitely a pantser but there are times that I need to plot—if only a small bit. It's important when wrapping up a series (as I've just discovered). So the compromise I make bullet points of what needs to be addressed and arrange them in order. I tried to completely plot out a book once and once the plotting was finished I had no desire to write the book. My plebian mind was like, "Dude, it's already finished. What are you doing?" ^_^
How do you think your writing has developed since you started?
I remember when I was penning my third book in a series, I went back and read the first two books. I admit I was horrified because in just six months my writing and my style had changed. It was so easy for me to see all the mistakes. Working with editors and betas helped me to hone the technical side of writing, but I had no idea until then that I was still trying to find my voice. Even now, I'm still perfecting the voice. I don't worry about it too much because I think every author changes and evolves. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Are you tempted to write in other genres?
I have played in several sandboxes. Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary.
Have I thought about crossing over from LGBT to Het Romance? Yes. Part of the desire is to be able to tell the stories of existing characters in a book. I really liked them when writing and I can feel their story niggling there. If I actually did, then the story would be more on the sweet side instead of erotic.
I've also been contemplating a non-romantic Sci-fi story, but if I decided to go through with it then I'll wait a couple of years or when I have more free time for a side project.
Do you read reviews? How do you deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly?
Yes, I occasionally read reviews when I come across them or when they are sent to me from a review site. In the beginning, it was hard because I wanted everybody to lllooovveee my books. At times (okay, lots of times), I take criticism to heart. So for a very long time I didn't read any of my reviews at all. That was the best decision for my mental health and my writing mojo. Stressed, angsty author = no daily word count.
Not everybody is going to like the book, and that's okay. Nowadays, I "read" (see husband comment below) reviews if I want to gauge what readers like and don't like about a series. Do they want more POVs or more page time with other characters, things like that.
I know authors who can read through bad reviews and pick out the constructive criticism that they then use when writing their next book, and not bat an eye. Some people can do it, I cannot. This is what the husband is for. He reads the review and gives me the bare bones. Maybe it's cheating but I don't care. ^_^
What has been the most useful thing to have helped you with your writing career?
Honestly, I'm a writing prompt whore. I love them. I'm addicted to them. I've collect a stack of prompts that I want to write. Many of the ones I've complete, I've released as freebies. I used to think nobody read the free stories. Before I decided to pursue writing, I had read a couple of freebies from other authors, sampling everywhere across all genres, and they were okay. Most of them were really short and not much to grab onto. I decided if I was going to make a story free then it needed to be just as high quality as what I would submit for publication. This was the first handshake with a reader who'd never heard of me, and it was important that they came away with the best impression.
My first freebie garnered me more word of mouth promotion than the four books I had published at the time. Shockingly, readers reached out to talk to be about the book. It led to the beginning of my most popular series, The Valespian Pact.
One quality free story had a huge impact on my writing career—so far. :-)
Ushna's Lupe, the third form of half-man and half-wolf that all Lycan warriors used for battle, pushed forward as his need to protect took over. Short, fine, black hair burst through his skin under my hands as his chest and arms thickened, his face elongated, and his mouth filled with jagged teeth. Even with fingers tipped with razor-sharp claws, he was careful as he delicately held me in his protective arms. He growled loud and long in warning.
The light switched on, flooding the room with blinding white light. I heard Gregori in the background yelling in anger, followed by a hollow thumping noise, and wounded yells. I scented who'd invaded our bedroom before I gazed over Ushna's shoulder.
Several weeks ago, Elder Koller had made a call to pull childhood friends of ours, Stanley Kendall and Jory Swaine, from California. The suggestion had been made after the Magi Triad had tried to kidnap both Gregori and Ushna, and the elder knew these two were men I trusted. We had been expecting them at any time, and I would've laughed at their antics if I wasn't worried Ushna would eviscerate our friends.
Gregori, his red hair wild, clad only in blue sleep pants, had a fistful of Stan's dark hair and a foot planted in the middle of his back, bowing Stan over backward. Gregori wielded a shoe like it was a Sumerian sword and beat Jory with it. Jory tried to defend himself against the onslaught of the shoe and fight off the two guards who were attempting to subdue him.
"You stupid idiots!" Gregori yelled at the top of his lungs. "You could've hurt him, you oversized oafs! What's wrong with knocking?!"
Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.
"Ushna is going to eat you and I should let him! It would remind you to respect your alpha!"
Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.
"Senseless overgrown children!"
Half a dozen guards filed into the room, taking charge of Stan and Jory, relieving a bedraggled Gregori. Scowling furiously at our friends, Gregori gradually crawled onto the bed, talking soothingly to Ushna, who hadn't stopped growling. I ran my hands down his fur-covered back to soothe him.
"Everything is okay, Ushna," Gregori cooed.
I cupped my hands around his face, gazing into his ruby red eyes. "I'm okay," I whispered to him. "Come back to me."
He released the Lupe, and Ushna the man emerged, the harsh and horrific features melting away. His body shuddered, muscles clenched and convulsed as his control returned.
It'd been years since I'd seen our two friends. Where Stan was dark, Jory was light. Stanley Kendall had wavy dark brown hair that roughly covered his brow, but didn't quite touch his collar. His eyes were so brown they were virtually black. He sported a couple days of growth on his chin and cheeks. The stubble looked good against his bronzed skin.
Jory Swaine, on the other hand, had short blond hair, was clean shaven with bright turquoise eyes and golden skin. Stan was broader through the chest with his athletic build while Jory was leaner. Both wore leathers; Jory's pants where loose, hanging low on his hips and revealing the waistband of his boxers, while Stan looked like he was poured into his.
Ushna turned a furious gaze on Stan and Jory, who were standing in the farthest corner, appearing chastised and contrite. "What in the hell were you thinking!" He roared at them. Gregori and I made shushing noises, but Ushna continued to rumble.
"Ah… surprise?" Stan offered weakly, slightly confused.
"Ushna, it's okay; they didn't know," I said.
Ushna snapped his human teeth at our friends. I swear if we'd been alone, I would've jumped and taken him right there.
"Xenres, are you injured?" Corey Bahar was the first to swear a blood oath to me. He'd been Captain until this unexpected growth of the tribe and now he was the newly appointed Arms Master of the Royal Guard. In private, he was most adamant in the use of my title, Xenres, which meant prince in our language. Corey didn't take his sable gaze off Stan and Jory as he approached me. The man looked like he'd been up for hours with his braided blond hair gleaming, clothes pressed and tucked. Did he ever sleep?
Jory chortled at Corey's words, which caused Gregori to throw a shoe and bean Jory in the head.
A string of curse words exploded from Jory. "Dammit, Gregori! What the hell was that for?" He rubbed the sore spot.
Gregori didn't answer. Corey's question was all it took to make Ushna start snarling again as he ran his hands over me, checking for obvious injury. Gregori rubbed small circles on Ushna's back. I grabbed his hands and craned my head around to get him to look me in the eye, to see me.
"Hey, hey! I'm okay. I'm not hurt." I kissed his hands.
"I want Nathan to look at you." Ushna's worried gaze continued to study me. Nathan Janick, my brother and the resident doctor, had meticulously cared for me during my pregnancy so far.
"All right." I knew nothing less would appease him.
Stan watched our exchange. The longer he listened, the more confused he appeared. "What's the big deal?" He crossed his arms, scowling hard. He and Jory had acted as they normally would around us, with carefree roughhousing.
I grabbed Ushna's attention before he could bark back a reply. We'd purposely kept my pregnancy within my inner circle. I hadn't left the Clearwater area, which was my territory. When I needed to go to town, I wore a ring Gregori had made for me, a ring of illusion that had hid my swollen stomach. I didn't meet with outsiders without it.
We hadn't told Stan and Jory. All communication had gone through Elder Janus Koller, who'd recruited them to work for the Elder Council in the Enforcement Division. Neither Ushna nor I had spoken to these two before now. Needless to say, we hadn't anticipated their surprise.
"Master Corey," I calmly said, "we're all right. I'm sorry we woke you." I needed privacy for the talk we were going to have with our old friends.
Corey gave a slight bow. The expression on his face let me know we would be revisiting the issue of posting guards outside the bedroom. I had been successful at convincing Corey that the small group of warriors staying in the house was enough security. We didn't need someone standing on sentry duty in the hallway. To appease Corey, I had even agreed to allow an armed detail to shadow me around the ranch when I left the house. This stunt of Stan's and Jory's would make Cory feel vindicated in his original assessment. I would have to talk quick at the next security meeting to keep the arrangements the way they were now.
"It was no bother, Xenres." Corey shot Jory a hard look when my friend snorted a laugh. He appeared to be gauging whether Jory was being disrespectful to me or making fun of him. "I won't be far if you need me," he said before closing the door behind him.
Jory tried to hide his smirk by rubbing a hand over his face. I knew what was coming before he opened his mouth. "Damn, Tristan. You've got people bowing and scraping to you. What've you been doing?"
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