We're so happy to welcome Eli Easton back to Sinfully HQ today and not only that she's brought us a real treat! Grab a cuppa, get your headphones on and have a listen to the teaser chapter from her new rom-com paranormal book 'How to Howl at the Moon'. Macky absolutely loved her different take on the world of shifters and fell in love with all their canine capers!
There's an Audio book copy up for grabs so don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win.
How to Howl at the Moon: The Dog Shifters of Mad Creek By Eli Easton
I never thought I’d write a shifter romance. But in the past year or so, I’ve come to adore some of the humorous shifter romances I’ve run across. I’m a fan of Molly Harper’s “Naked Werewolf” series (which is m/f), Shelly Laurenston’s “Pride” series (also M/F) and various m/m titles like Charlie Cochet’s “An Intrepid Trip To Love”. Readers seem to like my books best when I write romantic comedy, so I thought I’d give a rom com m/m shifter series a try. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, first I had to figure out what my shifter society would be like and where the books would be set.
My husband likes to tell people he gives me all my best ideas. And while that is usually an exaggeration, he does deserve big kudos this time. When I said “Humorous shifter series?” he said “Dogs!” and he was right.
I never had dogs growing up, but my husband has turned me into a serious dog lover. We live on a farm in Pennsylvania and we have three bulldogs—Lucy, Lola, and Livy.
Each one of them has a very distinct personality. Lola is the crazy one. Lucy (the white dog--whom you might recognize from the cover to “Unwrapping Hank”) is the regal queen. Livy is the volcano—she appears sweet on the surface but man, you don’t want to see her go off! (As her pack members have learned when they’ve pushed her too far).
My husband is the type of person who buys greeting cards with dogs on the front, watches dog shows on TV, and is primarily known on facebook for sharing dog photos. If anything is going to make that man cry, it’s a sad dog story. He has dragged me along into his love of all things canine. I am a total sap when it comes to our bulldogs (we’ve had Lola and Lucy for seven years now). Being a ‘dog mom’ has helped me to understand the bond that can exist between a human and his or her dog.
I was excited to write about dog shifters for “Howl” and it came very easily because it was so much fun. I loved having an MC, Sheriff Lance Beaufort, who was a dog underneath, and to work in his dog temperament and doggie mannerisms. I also had a lot of fun with Lance’s mother, Lily. Both Lance and Lily are descended from border collies. I picked that breed because for the purposes of my story, I needed a vigilant guardian type breed and also one prone to high energy and manipulation (aka ‘herding instinct’).
Once I had my dog shifters and characters the question came up: Where did these dog shifters come from? Are they some ancient line of dogs that could always shift?
In the case of my “Howl at the Moon” universe, the answer is no. In my universe, dogs can gain the ability to take human form only if they live with a human for a long time who loves them deeply, and whom they love in return. This is called “getting the spark”, and dogs who can shift are called “quickened.” Once a dog has been “quickened”, his or her descendants are born shifters.
The inspiration for this idea comes from a few places. When I knew I was going to write about dog shifters, I found several really good documentaries on dog behavior to watch, including a Nova episode called “Dogs Decoded” can be downloaded on Amazon –> HERE
The documentary shows how intelligent some dog breeds are, and how attuned they are to humans. A dog is highly sensitive to human eyes and human expression. They can read human emotion much better than we can. Further, they will trust a human’s gesture over their own senses (for example, if a human points to one of two bowls where food is supposedly hidden but points to the wrong bowl). Wolves and other animals don’t have this affinity for humans. Dogs have evolved to have a highly symbiotic relationship with man.
The documentary also showed a scientist who experimented with taking wild foxes and trying to domesticate them. She took the top 1% of foxes they’d captured who had any tolerance for human interaction and bred those and repeated that until, generations later, she had foxes that loved to be petted and held and were completely tame. The conclusion was that this is probably how man initially domesticated wolves.
So my idea was just to evolve the dogs one step (or a huge leap) further, where they became so attuned to humans they actually became them. I have some very slippery science in mind for this, which I’ll be getting to later in the series. But for now, we’re taking it on faith.
The other inspiration for this concept of becoming “quickened” is, of course, The Velveteen Rabbit. In that children’s classic toys can become alive (in a sense) if a child loves them enough.
“How to Howl at the Moon” releases Feb 28th. You can read an excerpt here or listen to the first chapter of the audio book. This is my first time producing a self-published audio book and I’m very excited about it! We used an actor who has worked on some of my computer games before. I think the result is a lot of fun!
How to Howl at the Moon by Eli Easton
Title: How to Howl at the Moon
Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Pinkerton Road
Release: 28th February 2015
Genre: M/M (shifter)
Sheriff Lance Beaufort is not going to let trouble into his town, no sir. Tucked away in the California mountains, Mad Creek has secrets to keep, like the fact that half the town consists of ‘quickened’—dogs who have gained the ability to become human. Descended on both sides from Border Collies, Lance is as alert a guardian as they come.
Tim Weston is looking for a safe haven. After learning that his boss patented all of Tim’s work on vegetable hybrids in his own name, Tim quit his old job. A client offers him use of her cabin in Mad Creek, and Tim sees a chance for a new start. But the shy gardener has a way of fumbling and sounding like a liar around strangers, particularly gorgeous alpha men like Sheriff Beaufort.
Lance’s hackles are definitely raised by the lanky young stranger. He’s concerned about marijuana growers moving into Mad Creek, and he’s not satisfied with the boy’s story. Lance decides a bit of undercover work is called for. When Tim hits a beautiful black collie with his car and adopts the dog, its love at first sight for both Tim and Lance’s inner dog. Pretending to be a pet is about to get Sheriff Beaufort in very hot water.
Mad Creek is a town populated by a group of people keeping a pretty sensational secret. A secret an unwitting Tim Weston is totally clueless about, but he desperately needs to escape his past, so when a client offers him the use of her cabin it's the perfect place for him to find sanctuary. The problem is shy Tim is keeping some personal secrets of his own so when he first encounters the deliciously dour Sheriff Lance 'McHottie' Beaufort, his inability to communicate without looking like he's got something to hide and an unfortunate good deed that day with a stoned hitch hiker, lead an already wary Lance to the conclusion that this young attractive stranger, who says he's a gardener, might be up to no good and if that's the case then he's going to put his nose to the ground and sniff out what he's up to...
Which is quite literally what he decides to do, because like the majority of other town members, the black haired, blue eyed gorgeous Sheriff Beaumont is a Quickened; a fourth generation Border Collie shifter who with his heightened senses decides that if he can get into Tim's home undercover with his super sensitive nose skills, he can find out just what he's planning to sow in his greenhouse, because there are rumours that Marijuana growers are threatening to move into the area. So if it turns out that Tim is a part of this gang he can nip it in the bud once and for all!
What happens after that is delightful. To insinuate himself into Tim's life, he has to shift into 'Chance', a stray dog that a lonely, starved for affection Tim adopts and falls in love with.Trying to juggle life as Chance and Lance he finds himself becoming strangely attracted to Tim in his human form but also loving the deep connection he forms with his new 'master' as a pet. Something he doesn't factor into the equation.
The whole thing is a mixture of sweet, witty, tender, funny and just plain adorable! And there's a supporting cast who are all just as endearing in their own ways. Apart from the bad guys, there wasn't one character who I didn't end up either liking or loving. Roman: A fiercely protective German Shepherd deputy...Gus: an old loyal bulldog...Janine: the sassy Labrador lawyer...Fred Beagle, owner of the local post office (no guesses what breed he is! Lol)...Daisy: the waitress retriever with a heart of gold...and last but not least. larger than life Lily: Lance's scheming, meddling, at times exasperating but ultimately lovable Border Collie mum. If you're a dog lover then I defy anyone not to be completely taken in by this motley crew of marvellous mutts!
This is Eli's first foray into this sub genre and I loved her take on the world of shifting. Using canine characters in the form of man's best friend was a refreshing change from the usual lupine ones; not that I don't love a good old wolf shifting story but every now and again it's nice to come across something that's not as commonly used in a paranormal. And the lore she gives her pack of dog shifters, to explain their secret existence amongst the human world and their culture is cleverly constructed too.
I'm a massive Eli fan and as far as I'm concerned she pulled this off with bells on! I was smitten by Lance, loved him as doggy 'Chance' and absolutely adored sweet, conflicted, bashful Tim. The rom com plot was really engaging and ever so enjoyable, but amongst the fun and games, which had me laughing, there were still moments between them that were also very tender and I often felt quite moved. Little moments of vulnerability from both Lance and Tim that gave the story some emotional balance. Their chemistry is tangible and the sexual tension simmers right up until the time it's ready to boil over and then we get the much anticipated steam, sizzle and sexy action. Works every time for me because that's my thing and Ms Easton always pulls it off perfectly.
All I can say is WOOF!!! If I had a tail it would be wagging like mad right now just because this book made me feel all warm and yappy...oops I mean happy. I might even be chasing it excitedly because I'm thinking that Eli has thrown us a bone towards the finish hinting that strong, faithful hearted Roman (stoic Mr German Shepherd who has a sad backstory of his own, bless) might be the next lead in Mad Creek to "go fetch" the man...or dog...of his dreams. Whoever that may be—and I have a feeling I know who. I think he's going to get 'hot' under his collar; unless I'm barking up the wrong tree?!? LOL....can't wait! I want it, and I want it Naooooooooooow!!!!
How to Howl at the Moon will also be released as an audiobook, but you can listen to the first chapter here before its release!
Chapters 1 & 2 in written form can also be downloaded in PDF –> HERE
About the Author
Having been, at various times, and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, the author of metaphysical thrillers, an organic farmer and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author.
As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of 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, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest writing.
Connect with Eli Easton
Eli will be giving away a copy of the audio book on its release to one lucky winner. Release is expected by mid-March. Just enter the Rafflecopter draw below for your chance to win.