Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Excerpt from Keeping Faith

Hello from Vacation... well, not really. I set this up before I left. :)

I thought I would share a rather long excerpt of my current WIP, Keeping Faith, with y'all today. Last year I wrote a free read, Playing for Keeps. This the sequel to that short story. In Playing for Keeps, Trent, Brock, and AJ are in college and under a lot of pressure when their relationship is whispered across campus, endangering their future careers. Trent's father, William Hart, pressured him to leave AJ and Brock. It's a nice story, about 22k, so not very long.

Like I said, Keeping Faith is the sequel and we'll be revisiting our three love birds, getting to know them better, and see how their relationship will hold up under external pressure. This will lean more towards a romantic suspense instead of the usual contemporary angsty relationship plot.

The first several chapters I may have to shuffle around. I think there is some unwritten rule to not start out the book with a scene that doesn't include your main characters but that is what my Chapter One currently has, secondary characters who are essential to the plot. What this also does is set the tone of the book. I won't lie, Sammy and Aldrich are favorites of mine. I hope you like them as well. And because I'm bored, the excerpt is the full first chapter (3k). I think there is some rule on that as well, but as you can see, I'm being a bit rebellious. :D

Copyright 2014 Lexi Ander

(Unedited, folks)

Keeping Faith


Sammy applied more powder to the bruise below her left eye. The blue-green swelling sat atop the apple of her cheekbone. The dark smattering of freckles that usually covered her cheeks and nose were barely visible under the thick foundation, and powder and yet the bruise was still faintly visible. She had already reapplied the eyeliner twice now but couldn't control the wayward tears that streaked the meticulously applied make-up. She couldn't appear before Paul less than perfect.

Taking a deep fortifying breath to steel her nerves for the meeting she would have with her boyfriend, Paul Bishop. Her packed suitcase sat on the foot of the bed. Soon she'd leave, out from underneath his controlling thumb. She had known what she was getting into when she became involved with the head of the west coast mob. She hadn't realized that she would be with him this long. The more time she spent with Paul, the more she wanted to take a gun and riddle him with holes, especially after last night. A small shiver shook her body at the memory.

Two more deep breaths, she picked up the tube of lipstick and applied it to her bow shaped lips with a surprisingly steady hand. Paul served a purpose, she reminded herself. Her search was almost over if she could make it through seeing Paul one more time, without slipping up. The thought of her trip to Miami pushed away the dark memories causing her to smile at her image in the vanity mirror. After all of this time, of all the sacrifices would be worth what waited for her in Miami. She was so close to her goal.

Running the hairbrush through her long wavy brunette locks one last time, a light squirt of Paul's favorite perfume she rose from the vanity and approached the black Gucci dress hanging on the back of the closet door. The sleeves were long, perfect for hiding the additional bruising on her forearms and upper wrists. The scoop neck would showcase the heavy necklace Paul had selected before he left her alone this morning. The skirt reached her knees but she didn't have to worry about covering dark blemishes on her legs.

Slipping the dress on, it hung in perfect silky waves. She tugged gently on the cuffs ensuring no mars on her skin were revealed. It wasn't her fault she bruised but if one of Paul's colleagues caught a glimpse of one, Paul made her surfer for making him appear bad to men he respected or who he needed to respect him. Beating a woman was passé nowadays, something only thugs did, not men as influential as Paul Bishop. She promised herself never again would a man raise a hand to her.


Donning black Prada heels, the tasteless necklace Paul used to proclaim his ownership of her and her handbag and exited the bedroom suite. The shoes clacked against the marble floor. Sammy allowed herself a moment to detest the noise, just as she deposed the mansion and all the evil hidden by the glamour and money. The place had been sucking the life out of her soul but another half an hour and she would be free.

One of Paul's musclemen, Marco Kinsley, stood outside the office double doors. He was one of the few of Paul's men who never made her feel like a piece of meat. Paul required those who entered the house or who would be seen with him to wear suits. As always, Marco appeared very monochrome in his black suit, black shirt, and black tie. He never wore another color. Once when Sammy felt a little bold, she asked him why he chose all black. Black, he had said, hides the most gruesome of messes at first glance. After that, Sammy didn't ask him anymore questions. "Good morning, Ms Teasdale, the boss is waiting."

Sammy gifted him with a bright smile. "Thank you, Marco." He hurriedly open the door and stepping aside to allow her to enter the room.

Paul's office was designed to intimidate. His large walnut desk and chair were austere enough to impress to first time visitors into thinking Paul sat on a throne, a place of power. Sammy had witnessed both good and bad men crushed in this very room. As a house rule, murder was never conducted within the mansion or on its grounds, but that didn't mean the demise of individuals wasn't planned here.

"Samantha, dear, the care is ready to take you the airport." Paul merely glanced up at her from the contents of the manila file he studied.

Sammy gave him a wide smile but only after faltering for a moment. He caught the hesitation. "Are you still upset over last night? Did James not deliver my apology this morning?"

She fingered the ting, a five carrot sapphire set in a circle of diamonds. She hated it. "You're gift is beautiful and I am thankful. You are too generous. I only worry I'll upset you again."

Paul finally sat straight and gave her his full attention. He was a handsome man with a charming smile and cold eyes. He was in his mid-forties but he had turned prematurely gray after he turned thirty. Now his hair was silvery white and instead of taking away from his appearance, the look added the air of refinement to him. Paul held out a manicured hand to her. Sammy forced her feet to move, loathing to touch him, if only briefly.

Once her palm slid against his, he pulled her down into his lap. "I already explained last night it wasn't your fault. William Harte will pay for what he made me do last night." He ran knuckle under the covered bruise on her cheek.

His cellphone rang and after glancing at the name on the screen he answered. "Your status?"

Sammy wanted to move from his lap but his firm grip on her hip told her to stay. He would tell her when he wanted her to get up.

"What do you mean he hasn't touched his accounts? Harte is a pampered elitist. He doesn't know the meaning of going without. He must have other accounts you haven't found. Dig deeper, I want that man found!"

Her gaze scanned the desk. A silver five by seven framed photo of Paul's elegant wife, Patricia, sat next to the computer monitor. At first she had been guilt ridden when she discovered Paul was married. That was until she met Paul's wife. Patricia came from an influential family in Europe. For two weeks every year, Patricia came to the states to visit with Paul. On one such visit, Patricia had walked into Sammy's suite of rooms in a flourish of expensive silk and designer accessories. She appraised Sammy as if she were an item up for auction. "You're a pert one, aren't you? (need to give Sam's age here) As always, Paul, your tastes are impeccable." With a pat on the cheek, Patricia accepted Paul's proffered elbow, the two leaving Sammy standing in the middle of the room in stunned silence.

Paul hung up the phone with an angry growl.

"Sweetheart, I'm going to miss my plane." Sammy refrained from trying to wiggle away. Patience was the key when dealing with Paul.

"I won't be joining you in Miami with this unfinished business with Harte. You will cut your trip short and be back here at Christmas Eve." Paul strikers her thigh, his fingers stopping at the edge of the dress's hem.

"Of course," she replied as if it were already a given.

Paul patted her leg, the signal for her to rise. Dutifully she leaned forward to give him a kiss. He caught her chin. "Not now, you're wearing lipstick and I'll never get all of it off." He grasped her chin and turned her head where he pecked her on the cheek. "Now, go."

Sammy moved from his lap and adjusted her skirt so it fell properly. "I'll call you when I arrive," she promised. Not that she would be returning.

Paul grunted in acknowledgement and she knew he had already mentally dismissed her, the manila folder opened once more. Before she could cross the room again, the oak door opened and man only known as The Gentleman, Gent for short, entered the room. He paused upon seeing Sammy. Her steps faltered. Of all the people to run into before leaving.

She was one of a handful of people who knew The Gentleman's name and relationship to Paul. Sammy never ever let on she knew their secret for it was something they closely guarded. She doubted she would live long if they suspected she knew Paul's personal assassin was his sister's only child, Aldrich.

Sammy's heat pounded in her chest. Even knowing what she did, Sammy couldn't bring herself to dislike him too much. Aldrich had always been kind and courteous. She knew he was dangerous for she had heard the rumors, bits of conversation here and there that hinted out the viciousness of Paul's 'dog'. Maybe she had spent too much time living in this world of ambiguous morals, black deeds, and cut throat business. When she looked at Aldrich she didn't see the monster other claimed him to be. She guessed him to be around her age of twenty-five but she couldn't be sure. She found she would miss seeing him even if he sometimes scared the hell out of her. Not because of what people said about him but because of everyone who associated with Paul, Aldrich was the only one who'd possible discover her true identity and why she had become Paul's mistress.

"Samantha, I'm glad I caught you before you left."

She held out both of her hands, a ritual since she first met him four years ago. A head taller than her, he bent at the waist slightly to clamps and kiss the backs of both of her hands. A lock of wiry dark brown hair fell to cover one of his crystal blue eyes as the soft hair of his close cropped beard brushed her knuckles. She held her breath as his thumb brushed the cuff of her sleeve, barely revealing a purple bruise. He stared for a second before his lips brushed the discolored skin, his thumb covering it back up as he straightened. Whereas Paul wore a dark blue pinstripe three piece suit, Aldrich wore a tan Gucci jacket and vest, with a plaid button up shirt and a blue and red striped tie. His white trousers were rolled up at the ankle to reveal he wore no socks with his two tone brown and white wingtips. She knew Paul detested his nephew's choice of clothing and she suspected Aldrich dress as such to annoy Paul.

Those light blue eyes pinned her when a small slip of paper was pressed into her palm. "This place won't be the same without you around. You do bring a ray of sunshine to this tomb."

"Quit flirting with Samantha, she needs to catch a plane and doesn't have time to dawdle with you." Paul sighed in exasperation.

Aldrich gaze squinted slightly as the back of his knuckles grazed her sore cheek under the hidden bruise. For a breath, his eye turned to ice and just as quickly the look disappeared. She couldn't stop the shiver that crawled up her spine.

"I won't keep you. Have a safe trip." His low voice held a hint of warmth that Sammy dared not analyze.

"It was nice seeing you," she replied before leaving the room. The butler stood at the foyer and opened the door for her. The Mercedes waited at the bottom of the steps, with her bodyguard holding open the rear door. Gracefully she slid into the buttery soft leather seat. She didn't dare glance at the note until sat on the plane.

"Don't come back." Was written in an elegant hand along with a bank name and account number. She tucked the slip of paper into her purse swallowing down the nausea that threatened her suddenly delicate stomach.


From the window in Paul's office, Aldrich watched the Mercedes carry Samantha away. Would she heed his advice? He hoped so for it would soon be very messy around here.

"Are you going to tell me why you're here or will you simply stand there like a stick in the mud?" Paul groused, not looking up from what he read.

He knew he made his uncle nervous. To everyone else, Paul commanded him, but they both knew better. Long ago, Paul found out he could push Aldrich only so far. He may have been raised to kill for his family but he chose who. His uncle was still pissed he refused to kill the undercover FBI agent who had been snooping around. By the time Paul had contacted another assassin to dispose of the agent, the FBI had received an anonymous tip their man had been made, and his number would be up if he wasn't removed immediately. Aldrich had no qualms killing scum but even he held to a set of standards. Some lines he refused to cross.

Paul shifter nervously in his chair. Pulling an envelope out of the inner pocket, he crossed the room and handed it to Paul. His uncle snatched the envelope in a flare of temper. Aldrich watched his uncle closely, not missing the flair of nostril, the tightening around the eyes as he had approached Paul's desk.

"Imagine my distress when I came home for a visit to find my mother in the hospital. They said you paid her bill." The cold ball of anger in Aldrich's chest pulsed with each beat of his heart. Because of what he did for his uncle he was not allowed to see his mother, go to her home, or meet her where others would see them. None could suspect they were related. She would be in danger if word got out the mysterious Gentlemen had a weakness. There were people who would use her to get at him and he couldn't allow it. Just because he couldn't see her didn't mean that he didn't watch her. Over the last couple of years a trend had started, one that Paul meticulously worked to keep covered up.

He had been separated from her since the death of his father at the age of ten. His uncle had stepped in and sent him to a boarding school overseas until his turned fifteen. Withdrawn from school, his training began, overseen by his uncle. Regardless of what Paul instructed, Aldrich's mentor passed on some sage advice. There would become a time when it would be time to clean out Bishop's house. Aldrich would need to choose carefully the when and the how. He would have only one opportunity, leave no loose ends. When the time came, be ruthless.

"What kind of man do you take me for? Of course I take care of my baby sister, you don't have to worry about her. I'll handle Daryl personally." Paul pulled a set of pictures out of out of the envelope. The photos were of Aldrich's mother in the hospital bed, her once beautiful face so deformed the surgeon couldn't guarantee she'd appear the same after the surgery that would repair he shattered eye socket.

Aldrich drew a second envelope from his inside pocket and dropped it on the desk. "Don't bother."

Paul stared a long moment at the sleek black rectangle, the envelopes Aldrich reserved for delivering the results of a kill mission. Without touching the picture, Paul dumped the single photo on the desk. He'd give Paul credit for not cringing at the sight of his best friend, Daryl Owens, cut into a half dozen pieces and arranged neatly in a freshly dug hole.

The vein on the right side of Paul's forehead popped as he ground his teeth. "Why?" he asked with surprising calm.

"Now, now, Uncle." Aldrich allowed the chill of contempt to fill his voice. "You made sure I had the finest training to shape me into the tool you desires. I am very good at what I do. Research is just as important as how many ways I can murder a man without leaving evidence. Did you believe you could hide the fact this is the fourth time in two years that Daryl had beat her to the point hospitalization was required? Did you think I wouldn't find out you know and hid it."


"She was your responsibility. She was injured in your care by your best friend. That is not taking care of family. That,"—he jabbed a finger at the graphic photograph—"that is taking care of family." Fear flickered across Paul's cool demeanor. "You made me a promise, Paul. What I do for you ensures her security and safety until my inheritance came to me when I turn thirty." Inheritance that Aldrich's grandparents deigned to include their two children in. Paul blackmailed his way into have executorship transferred to him, effectively giving control of Aldrich's monthly stipend. Paul had made his fortune and had not need of his parent's money. Aldrich's mother on the other hand was dependent on Aldrich.

"Yes, she's in my care and I'll deal with the situation as I see fit! As we agreed, you are no longer a part of her life. Should I tell that her darling boy isn't romping around Europe but a paid assassin? How do you think she would look at you then?" Paul grabbed and threw the photo of Daryl. It glided off the desk to gall over the side between the desk and the wall. "Never stick your nose in my business again or you might find it cut off. I made you who you are and I can take it all away."

A knock sounded at the door before Marco stuck his head in. "Dutch is here, Boss."

"Both of you come in. Gentleman, you stay. I have a job for the three of you." Paul grabbed the pictures on the desk top and threw them in a desk drawer.

Marco opened the door wider allowing Lance Easton, known by the self-chosen nickname of Dutch, entered with an over confident swagger. Regardless of Paul's insistence on a dress code, Aldrich believed there wasn't a suit that would allow Dutch to disappear in polite company. Sleeves of tattoos extended past Dutch's wrists to cover the back of both hands and few of his fingers. His neck from his collarbone to the underside of his jaw was covered with colorful blue-green feathers. His dark hair was short on the side but lone enough on top to sweep to the side. The face of the black Rolex was almost four fingers across. The arrogant ass wore a pair of black ray bans, a smug expression spreading across his face upon seeing Aldrich.

"Hey, Gent." Dutch grinned and clucked his tongue when Aldrich chose to ignore the upstart.

Turning his attention to Marco, Aldrich noted no visible identifying marks, only the Marco tendency to wear black on black. Instead of making him appear thuggish, Aldrich thought Marco's wardrobe somehow helped him to disappear into the background. The bread and hair was expertly cropped close and added to the non-intimidating aura Marco wore. Where Dutch was sloppy, Marco was near perfect.

Once the door was secured, Paul didn't waste time. "William Harte has stolen twenty million dollars from me and now his middle man to the South American contacts is dead. I have people searching for William but he's proving elusive and I don't have time to wait for him to venture from hiding. I'm going to flush him out. It seems he has an estranged son living in Miami." He slid the manila folder across the desk to Aldridge. "Here is what I have on Trent Harte. I want to you to go to Florida, find him, and hold him until you hear from me. The Gentleman is in charge of the operation."

Aldridge picked up the file. This would be tricky. He paged through the minuscule information in the file. Whoever put this together didn't include Trent Hart was a public figure. Glancing up at his uncle, by the smug expression on Paul's face, he knew exactly who Trent was. He asked them to accomplish the impossible. If they did this then they would be captured or killed. He fully understood this was his reprimand for murdering his uncle's best friend. Aldridge suddenly grinned with delight. Fear briefly flickered across Paul's expression. Aldridge handed the folder to Marco on his way out of the office. Two could play a game of cat and mouse.

Thank you for reading!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Did You Miss Striker's Blog Tour Sketches?

On June 9th we welcomed a new member to the family so I'm taking a road trip to my sister's to spoil her children. *evil cackle* 

I'm a slacker. I hadn't planned on what would go up while I'm gone. So while I'm thinking about it, I thought I would make a couple of quick entries. Today--err--now, I will put up the sketches that I did especially for the Striker blog tour. Next Wednesday I'll have an excerpt go up for the WIP I'm currently working on, Keeping Faith. I don't think I've posted one before so it will be something new.

Road Trip! I have scoured the library and my collection of audio books to entertain me on the 14 hour drive. Right now I have too many excellent options but I'll have to choose before I get in the car on Saturday. I have Dragon Slayer by Isabella Carter (I met her this year and she is such a lovely person), Finding the Wolf by Mel Eight, I could continue with the Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill, or continue the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne, start the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost, continue the Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, I recently purchased Shades of Gray by Brooke McKinley, or I could have a re"read" of  Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur. If I'm lucky, Talya Andor's Signal to Noise will be available on audio, then it's no contest what I'll listen to first. SEEEEeeeee! So many various options.

Ten whole days to do other things than work. Well, I'm taking stuff that I can do without a computer. I have The Aurora Conspiracy printed so that I can edit it. After completing a story, I always wait a couple of weeks before going back over it. It's like having fresh eyes. Plus I get to share it with my brother-in-law, Jorge. In the story, I created a character, Danny, who is a robot--actually the correct term for the maker/model is Jorgebot. :-D Jorge helped me draw up certain aspects of Danny, who is an experimental model that runs evolving software. So I get to have a little bit of fun talking to my brother-in-law about his character and actually get to see his reaction. It will be a blast.

I'm also taking my sketch pads, as well as stuff for world building for the next installments of Sumeria's Sons and the Valespian Pact. I'm excited to be able to work on the wrapping up of Sumeria's Sons, Dragon's Eye and Releasing Chaos. But I think right now, more people are interested in the next addition to the Valespian Pact, Bespoken

As it looks right now, Prometheus's story will span two books, which will not be back to back because there is just too much story to tell and he's not even in a place that has already been introduced in this universe. But not only does Prometheus get a story; Axis and his Chimera (Chosen), Star Eater and Madux (Boundless), and Canry and Nethus (Rebirth) will have stories to tell that will add to the culmination of the overall plot of the Grid, human involvement, and the V'Saar. Right now, I'm tentatively calling the last book in this series, Legends. 

Yes, yes, I know. WRITE FASTER!! I love you guys, too. :-D

Now for some fun. If you followed the blog tour then you've seen these but I still want to show them off.

If you're interested in the articles I wrote that went a little deeper behind the scenes of writing Striker and the world building involved, here are the links for the blogs I was hosted on.

Read the Rainbow: Building Valespia-Verse, What Readers Don't See
Allison Cassatta's website: Lexi Ander ~ Fal'Amorics, The Galaxies Best Kept Secret.
Piper Vaughn's website: Mixing Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Is It Still Sci-Fi?
GGR Reviews: You Sank My Battle Ship!!
Prism Book Alliance: Antiheroes
Hearts On Fire Reviews: Striker: The next leg of the journey, Atlainticia, the Ancients, and Alpha.
Ethan Stone's website: The Makings of Warriors
Elisa ReviewsGRL Blog Tour: Sparks, Brilliant or Dim: Points of Inspiration

People of the Longing: Princess Shaneva Vondorian

Prince Azeas Vondorian (without color)

Everybody's least favorite sketch because of what the Chtichlians resemble. I wish I could make him prettier but he is what he is.

The Oethra 7 being chased through Valespia's shields.

The revered and feared assassin, the Mar'Sani triplets known simply as Chimera.

Prince Zeus Vondorian (one of my favorite sketches)

Princess Athena of the Fal'Amoric (I plan on redoing this one because it doesn't do her justice.)

The Orion

Thank you for reading!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lucky Seven Game

I'm going out later, I'll do this before a forget. I've been tagged by both Piper Vaughn and Angel Martinez for the Lucky Seven Game:

I've been tagged in the Lucky Seven Game:
Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP.
Go to line 7
Post on your blog the next 7 sentences or 7 lines—as they are!
Tag 7 people to do the same.

This is from Keeping Faith, the sequel to Playing for Keeps.

Aldridge picked up the file. This would be tricky. He paged through the minuscule information in the file. Whoever put this together didn't include Trent Hart was a public figure. Glancing up at his uncle, by the smug expression on Paul's face, he knew exactly who Trent was. He asked them to accomplish the impossible. If they did this then they would be captured or killed. He fully understood this was his reprimand for murdering his uncle's best friend. Aldridge suddenly grinned with delight. Fear briefly flickered across Paul's expression. Aldridge handed the folder to Marco on his way out of the office. Two could play a game of cat and mouse.

I'm tagging: Dean Pace-Frech, Michael Rupured, Caitlin Ricci, TN Tarrant, Elizabeth Noble, Lex Chase, and Lisa Worrall (and if you've already been tagged, please ignore this! :D )

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Guest Post: Strength of the Mate by Kendall McKenna with Giveaways

Happy Hump Day!

Thank you all for stopping by to visit, and my thanks to Lexi Ander for generously hosting me today. We’re going to have some fun, talk about hot men, learn about my book that’s coming out June 20th, and someone will even get to win a prize!

If you’re wondering who the hell I am, my name is Kendall McKenna. I write m/m erotic romance novels that feature authentic U.S. Marines, and realistic suspense, action, and combat. I was the MLR Press Best Selling E-book Author for 2013, and I’m about to release the third book in my series, Tameness of the Wolf.

Those of you who already know me are reading this and cheering, possibly doing cartwheels and back flips. Those of you who have no clue where I came from are quite possibly thinking to yourselves, “Please, not another paranormal series!” I know, I know, but bear with me for a minute, because I didn’t write your typical werewolf story.

Last year, I released Strength of the Pack, and introduced readers to a world in which werewolves are revered, and fully integrated into the U.S. military (what’s not to love about werewolves and men in uniform?). Strength of the Pack featured Noah Hammond and Lucas Young, along with members of their inner circle, Tim Madison and Terrell Hubbard. The second title in the series, Strength of the Wolf, featured Tim Madison and the new character, Jeremy Wager. Now, remember…I write erotic romances. There is some hot, hot sex going on with these couples! 

For those of you who haven’t yet read these books, in Strength of the Wolf, readers got to meet Tim’s younger brother, Adam. From the first moment, it’s obvious there is tension and conflict between the two. Yeah, Adam is the bratty younger brother. But it’s no secret why. Adam and the youngest brother, Jase, were attacked and robbed. Both brothers were shot, but Jase died, while Adam survived. Cue a decade worth of personal ghosts and survivor’s guilt.

Tim comes to realize that Adam has changed for the better. He appears to be making an effort to grow up, and to get along with Tim. By the end of the story, Tim believes they’ve made real progress. Strength of the Wolf also brought back Terrell Hubbard as a (super sexy) supporting character. He’s often accompanied by (uber-competent) Dawson Rivers, who works closely with Noah, Lucas, and Tim. The story ends, ready to pick right up with the next title.

This brings us to the third book, Strength of the Mate, releasing June 20th.


Adam Madison is in Iraq, driving supply trucks for the Marines, but he still can't outrun his personal ghosts. Outside the wire, insurgents are a relentless threat. Inside, renegade werewolves are a constant danger.

Dawson Rivers is on a mission for the True Alpha—bring the rampaging shifters under control. Adam proves to be invaluable to his task. Their intense mutual attraction explodes into a powerful physical, and emotional connection.

If you’re thinking that all I had to do was pick up writing Adam’s character just as he was at the end of the last book, you’d be wrong. When is it ever that easy? We’re talking about an epic amount of angst, here! Besides, Adam was still unpleasant and anti-social when the last book ended. I needed him to have done some maturing off screen. He had to be open to change, and seeking to face his demons. Dawson’s arrival in Iraq becomes a tipping point. Adam tips over the edge of the cliff, following a character arc that ends with him being able to love, and accept love from Dawson.

Let’s be honest, Dawson’s arrival is a tipping point for the start of some really hot sex scenes! I admit it; I like the idea of two hot men, having vigorous, sweaty sex. I shouldn’t downplay the emotions, though. The love scenes are arousing, but I never write sex for the sake of sex. I write love scenes that are designed to move a character, or the story along. Sometimes, the best way to demonstrate the depth of their emotions is to show the intensity of their connection, using lots of eye contact and nurturing touches.

But let’s get back to Adam. If you read Strength of the Wolf, you might have thought he was prickly, and difficult to get along with. Which is all a fancy way of saying he was an asshole. You’ll be pleased to know that starts off quite likeable, when Strength of the Mate opens. Within the first few paragraphs, I made it clear he’s done some changing and growing in the months since readers first met him.

Telling readers Adam done some growing up will only get you so far. I had to give him some character traits that would demonstrate his new maturity. It needed to be apparent that he was open and vulnerable, in ways he hadn’t been previously. This is new to Adam. His anxiety is through the roof, as he learns to make and maintain friendships. Most especially, as he starts having regular, mind blowing sex with a sexy Marine who happens to be a werewolf. To show his anxiety, I gave Adam a new, adorable verbal tic. When he gets excited, or unsure of himself, or even when Dawson catches him off guard, his tic manifests, and it really is charming.

The most difficult thing Adam knows he has to learn to do, is get along with Tim. He’s really bad at it in Strength of the Wolf, but at least he’s begun to try. He gets off to rough start in Strength of the Mate, calling Tim up and tearing him a new one, only to learn he’d made a mistake. You know, the kind of shit we all do to our siblings, accidentally. (It’s always their fault, though! If they weren’t so bossy, or nosey, or lazy, or <insert your gripe here>.)

Well, I think that’s enough of that boring ‘author insights’ crap, don’t you? How about I let you read a new excerpt that I haven’t posted anywhere, yet?


Before he knew what was happening, the only thing Adam could see was the back of Dawson’s neck and shoulders. He stood between Carson and Adam, tension obvious in the lines of his back. Dawson growled loudly, his voice more animal than human. A chill ran the length of Adam’s spine and stirred his cock.

Carson stopped moving forward. He growled in response, but it lacked something; commitment, strength, or maybe just balls.

“The True Alpha is already gonna kick your ass,” Dawson snarled viciously. “Do you really wanna make it worse by doing this?”

“You have to win the Challenge, first.” Carson sounded dismissive, like he believed Dawson didn’t stand a chance.

 “Not the first time I’ve had to take out the trash,” Dawson replied. “Now get the fuck out of here.”

“You can’t be with him every second.” Carson’s words dripped with menace.

Adam wondered who Carson was talking about. It didn’t make sense if he meant Granger.

“That’s a hell of a stupid threat to make,” Dawson said icily. “If he gets hurt, the True Alpha will be the least of your problems. He’ll be in line behind me, not to mention the major.”

Shit. Carson was talking about Adam.

“I never said I’d hurt him.” There was a sinister hiss to Carson’s words.

Dawson’s answering snarl was all wolf. “Get the fuck out of here.”

Carson hesitated, looking like he was going to push the confrontation. Instead, he brushed past Dawson, and Adam started breathing again. He and Dawson both watched Carson storm out the door. He slammed it on his way out.

As Dawson turned toward him, Adam was ready to make a smart-assed comment about temper tantrums. Before he got out a single word, he was pressed hard against Dawson’s chest, strong arms wrapped tightly around him. He put his hands on Dawson’s shoulders, trying to get some space between them so he could breathe.

Dawson pressed his face to the side of Adam’s neck and took a deep breath. Adam’s body caught fire from the inside. Dawson loosened his arms enough for Adam to breathe, but they stayed wrapped firmly around him. Adam slid his arms around Dawson’s shoulders. He was surprised to feel Dawson’s heart racing, where their chests pressed together.

“I recognized Carson’s scent,” Dawson said, his lips brushing against Adam’s sensitized skin. “I recognized it from yesterday, when it was all over you.”

Fuck. Adam froze. He didn’t know what he should say, he had no idea what was going on in Dawson’s head. Did this change anything? Did it change everything?

“It doesn’t matter,” Adam said firmly. “I handled it. It’s over.”

“You need to be careful, until I take over as pack leader, and can get things under control.” Dawson ran his hands up and down Adam’s back. In between his words, Dawson pressed soft kisses to Adam’s throat.

Adam thought he felt a tremor run through Dawson’s large frame. At first, he was sure Dawson was angry. When he felt Dawson release a shaky breathe, Adam realized it was worry over Carson’s threat.

“I’ll be fine,” Adam said reassuringly. “I’ve been dealing with his shit since my first month here.”

“It’s different now.” Dawson pulled back slightly, cradling Adam’s face between his palms. “The stakes are higher for the werewolves.” Adam started to protest that he’d been taking care of himself for a long time, but Dawson stopped him. “Please. I’m asking you to do this for me. Don’t go anywhere without one of your werewolf friends, until it’s safe.”

Because Dawson asked, Adam agreed. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Thank you.” Dawson pressed a kiss to Adam’s lips. “I hated smelling him on you yesterday. The only werewolf whose scent should be on you is mine.”

Adam almost laughed at Dawson’s outrageous possessiveness. Instead, he nodded his agreement. If he was honest, he liked being the center of Dawson’s attention and focus. But it was a werewolf response to a werewolf situation, and Adam’s disappointment was surprising.

“You smell so fucking good,” Dawson whispered roughly. “Christ, I want to mark you.”

Let’s conclude the official business so we can get down to the prizes! 

Strength of the Mate will be available on June 20th on MLR’s website: It will available at all the usual distributers shortly after. 

If you’d like more information on me, or my books, or would like to follow me on social media, here’s the Intel:

Twitter: @kendallmckenna

FREE STUFF! Who doesn’t like free stuff? In celebration of the new release, I’m offering something for both existing readers, who are already fans of Tameness of the Wolf, and for readers who haven’t become fans…YET!




Thank you for joining me! Good luck with the giveaways! And don’t forget to pick up
available June 20th from MLR Press!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Blog Tour Winners and Other Announcements

I wanted to say a big, Thank You, to everybody who participated int he blog tour. I loved reading the comments. 

It wouldn't have been possible without Ethan Stone, Allison Cassatta,  Hearts On Fire Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, GGR Reviews, Piper Vaughn, and Read The Rainbow for allowing me to appear on their blogs and websites. Thank you for having me!!

This week I will be hosting Kendall McKenna here on the blog Wednesday, June 11th. *happy wiggles* So don't miss out. Come by and say hello. :D

Here are the winners from the blog tour! Again, thank you for participating!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Last Day Of Striker's Blog Tour

Today I'm over at Allison Cassatta's (Click Here) talking about the Fal'Amorics. Don't forget to enter the drawing!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Happy Anniversary to the Husband

A quick note before I start the Ode To Jason, Striker's tour stop today is at Piper Vaughn's blog ( I'll be stopping by throughout the day to answer any questions that you may have there, but first I need to give my husband props. ^_^

Today is our wedding anniversary. Twenty-one (21) years we've been cohabiting. In all honesty, it doesn't seem like it has been that long. Then again, I don't feel like I'm in my forties either.
Where should I start with my Ode to Jason? We if we had gone to school together, we would've never crossed paths for the simple reason he's four years older than I am. But since I was born in Arizona, and he was in Indiana, the crossing paths thing didn't happen until much later. 

Me on the left, 1974
My family moved around. From Arizona to Ohio to Louisiana and then finally Texas. He's always lived within a 50 mile radius of where he was born. 

He also seems to have this thing with plaid prints and a huge fascination with the color red. When we were married, he had the ugliest pair of red shorts I'd ever seen. His stepmom bought them for him to replace the ones that were so small they were booty shorts. The newer ones were big, baggy, and not in the least form fitting. I think she was trying to make a statement. I love the color red, but seriously, those shorts had to go--even if they were his favorite. 

But I digress. 

In 1990, I moved to Indiana. Scariest decision of my life. I had one more year of high school. I didn't know anyone. Indiana was so humid I thought I was breathing water. I hated all the green. All that color was seriously unnatural, and I despised not being able to see the horizon. I missed being able to sit on the porch and watching the sun peak over the flat, unobscured line of the horizon. For two years I was terribly homesick and considered may times moving back. Instead, I pushed forward.

Jason, on the other hand, was working his way through college, and perfecting his lounging techniques. Now don't go thinking that college=party. Jason has never had alcohol, although I here he was a good chaperon at many a party, keeping people from doing stupid things.

He worked hard, and anyone who knows him will agree that he has two settings. He's often goofy and fun. Most of his jokes are puns (which flew right over my head when we first started dating) or twisted sarcasm. He can't stand for someone to be sad and will go out of his way to make them laugh. This is the quality I loved first about him.

His second setting is knowledge of all things obscure. This is the second thing I loved about him. We never ever have a dull conversation. For some people, he comes off as being dull and nerdy. I find it very sexy. The thing about the plaid, and the socks with sandals, I could overlook that because it's the outside, the packaging. He isn't the sum of his appearance. Well, except for the red shorts but that was an easy solution. 

How did we meet? In 1991, not sure what I wanted to do with myself, I took a job in the city, and worked on becoming independent. Found a roommate, moved closer to work, and put a lot of effort into making friends. Back then, automatic deposit wasn't a thing yet, so every payday people lined up at the bank to deposit their checks. It was on one of these excursions that I noticed the male teller. Loved his eyes, and every time I was at his window he would chat me up--this went on for months. I remember making up a reason to go to the bank, then sitting in the parking lot trying to psych myself up to asking him out. I needed a reason to go to his window to pass him my phone number. I drove off. I waited another two weeks for payday, and while I was there, I passed him the number. I was so nervous my hands were shaking.  That night was a friend's 30th birthday, and we all went to a Damn Yankees concert. When I got home, there was a message on the answering machine from Jason. I fell all over myself to call him back because I really didn't think that he would call me so soon. 

In November of '92, we started dating but didn't agree to being a committed couple until the week before Christmas.

In March of '93 my father decided to have this conversation with Jason about making an honest woman out of me. Peeved me off, and I told Jason to not go there because I was finally beginning to enjoy my life, becoming comfortable in my own skin, and I didn't need it mucked up with that other stuff.

So. Two weeks later, I found a box in his closet and I was told that I shouldn't open it. Well, why the hell not? Because it was something Jason had purchased years before, intended for his future wife, and only she was supposed to see it. 

But that is not exactly how he said it. His version came off more of, if you open that box, it will be the end of life as you know it. I thought I was dating a serial killer. I peaked into the box to see if it was a severed head. Did I need to call the police before I ran for my life? I'm proud to say that I'm not a running screamer like in the horror movies. I'm the investigator that is either killed or the hero. I would like to think the later.

Inside the box was an oriental, hand carved jewelry box. I spent a second in confusion until he said, well now you've seen it, you have to marry me. I fell over laughing, half in relief because he wasn't a psycho, and half in absolute terror because he'd asked me to marry him--after I told him not to. 

My one biggest fear was that if I said no, then he would take that answer as I didn't want him in my life long term. I did, but I was afraid of being a divorce statistic five years down the road. My fear of losing him trumped what I couldn't possibly see in the future. 

I made the second scariest decision of my life, and I said, yes, when I caught my breath.

Three months later, yes, three months, we were married. If we were going to do it, then there wouldn't be any dawdling. My mother thought I was pregnant. My dad about broke his arm patting himself on the back because he thought it was his doing. I was already done with the whole wedding idea and wanted to elope. But Jason was the baby of his family, and I was my father's only daughter, so I relented to a small outdoor wedding at his parent's house. Well, it was outdoors, and at his parents, but wasn't small by my standards which was supposed to be like 10 people each side--max. Dammit, I had to get a dress.

The high that day was sixty-four (64) degrees at three in the afternoon, four hours after I walked down the isle. The wind was blowing and I froze. It had rained the night before so my heels were sinking into the grass with each step. I had to stand on my tip toes. The wind also caught the runner, wrapping it wrapped my feet as we said our vows. Jason sang the "The Jetsons" cartoon song because the "flower" in my hair reminded him of their hoop skirts. The best man was snickering. I vaguely remembering saying, yes, and, I do, at the appropriate time. They played "Love Me Tender" as we were supposed to stare deeply into each other eyes, and I kept wondering why I had to pick such a long song.

Jason did look mighty fine in his suit. Once the ceremony was over, it was easier to relax, and I could borrow his suit jacket. I spoke to many, many people I didn't know. The congratulations banner had my name misspelled. When I threw my bouquet, it burst into fifty pieces. I had made it myself but didn't glue any of the flowers down.

But it was all right, because I had him. I was still terrified out of my mind, worried that our relationship would end up on someone's graph one day, but we could only take one day at a time.

Our first year married was certainly a trial. I was a bit OCD about some things, and I never realized how much of a slob he was. Six months into the marriage I went on a cleaning strike. It was exhausting trying to keep up with his mess, which to him wasn't a mess at all.

There is a reason why they say the first five years are the hardest. You're still learning each other. As young as we were, we were learning new lessons about ourselves. Cohabitation is a bear when there are different personalities with different priorities. But you learn to bend, give and receive, shelve the things that in the long run don't matter, and prioritize that which should be important.

He's an accountant, a numbers guy. He discovered numbers and I didn't mix the first time he showed up at the door with surprise balloons, flowers, and something sparkly. I said something like, "Is it someone's birthday?" It was our anniversary. I can't number the times I've recited the date and/or the year we were married incorrectly. It's either the 5th or the 3rd, '93 or '95, and once I thought it was '91. I forget birthdays so I give gifts in advance. I've even forgotten my own birthday. 

And he loves me anyway.

When I think about throwing a party, it's not for one of those pentacle dates. So, instead of the surprise birthday party at the age of 30, I surprised him for his 33rd birthday.

He endures my practical jokes. He will no longer believe me if I say, I lost my keys. I drove to Wilksboro, North Carolina to visit a friend and called him to say that when I came out of the West Virginia tunnel, I ran into snow and the car skidded to the shoulder, with one tire off the road. I was actually sitting on my girlfriend's front porch watching her gawp like a fish until I confessed to Jason that everything was fine.

And he loves me anyway.

He is my best friend. He knows everything, absolutely everything about me. I trust him like no one else, and even knowing all that he does, he never stopped loving me. He taught me to laugh when I thought I had forgotten how. He has supported me in whatever I took a fancy too. Been infinitely patient with me, and everyday tells me how beautiful he thinks I am.

Not to say that he's a saint. I can't tell you how many times I've fallen into the toilet in the middle of the night because he doesn't always put the seat down. 

He's an idle fiddler, so he's caught his fingers in fans, not allowed a pair of scissors, almost swallowed things he shouldn't have put in his mouth. He's also crawled into holes a might too small, used vines to swing like Tarzan, fallen into sinkholes, crawled onto tree branches hanging over swollen rivers, overshot the state fair's slide landing pad to tumble out on the asphalt, and has given me a heart attack in a dozen other ways.

He's kind and thoughtful. Children love to play with him. When our nephew was small he would call Jason my "big kid". He works hard, has never stopped learning, and would probably go back to college when we can afford it. He loves cartoons, on TV and in the newspaper. I don't even know how many animated movies he has. He's still perfecting the art of lounging and is the best gaming partner a person could have.

After all of these years, I wouldn't change a thing. I could spend a hundred years with him and it wouldn't be enough. He fills my life with love and laughter, and I would be completely lost without him.

Happy Anniversary Husband!