Monday, 22 May 2017

Guest Blog - Rats!

Yes, rats. When I saw Shari Elder's newest release featured a rat-shifter hero, I was instantly sold. I can't think of many books where rat-shifters feature at all, with Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series being the first that springs to mind. And although her rats are pretty much good guys, they're never presented as love interests or even main players - they're kept on the periphery of Anita's life for the most part. So I was fascinated by the idea of a paranormal romance that puts rats front and centre, and makes one a hero. I wanted to know more! And Shari has kindly obliged me. So say hello to Evan Grant!

Thank you for having me on your blog today. My paranormal romance, Unnatural Allies (Book #2 Shifting Alliances), features a rat alpha shifter as a hero.

As a writer, the real thrill in writing a rat alpha as a hero, is the freedom it gave to explore the parameters of an alpha.  How far could I stretch that definition?  How many beta-like characteristics could I sneak in and still maintain him as a leader who commanded respect of bigger, stronger predatorial shifters?

Lets’ start with what he looks like. Evan Grant is lean, with smaller muscles and shorter stature and a facial twitch (think rat with whiskers) we don’t tend to associate with heroes. While he is physically significant among other rat shifters, he pales in size to predators. He can be a deadly fighter, but prefers to use strategy and diplomacy over weapons and fists to solve conflict.  He’s humble, letting people assume he’s a local shopkeeper, when he is CEO of an international franchise.  He also reads and writes poetry and craves intimacy. His commitment to his pack, however, makes it hard for him to have a steady lover, a spiritual pain he carries everywhere like one would a phone.

Now that you know what he looks like, I think the best way to understand Evan is to meet him so I’m sharing an exclusive excerpt below.

Read on for an excerpt!

A World in Transition

Violent fae encroachment on shifter land is heating up. With death tolls rising, the impossible becomes necessary – an alliance among predator and prey shifters.

An Inconceivable Love

Nicca Baron, lone wolf and wolf clan beta, finds herself under the command of Evan Grant, the rat alpha.  In different circumstances, he’d be dinner. Or so her wolf keeps reminding her.  Evan proves to be a perceptive leader, a skilled fighter and irresistible to her lonely heart.

To rule the rats, you have to rule the pack. Evan is a whiz at managing people and groups. Until he finds himself leading a mission made up of every single large animal that thrives on rat flesh. And not the kind between his legs.  The only bright light is Nicca. Her storm gray eyes miss nothing, her brilliant mind comprehends everything and her succulent curves offer the perfect place for a rat to nestle.

An Impossible Future

In each other’s arms, Nicca and Evan discover love and a new perspective in an off-kilter world. But a wolf cannot mate with a rat, no matter the strength of the human attraction.

At home, Evan Grant listened to Jillian’s angry voice mail again, disappointment an angry pulse in his stomach. The females in his clan drove away another potential girlfriend.  Again. He’d thought dating a doe from another mischief might circumvent the competition, but the females ganged together more coherently this time. Usually they took sides—for or against his intended lady.  Either way, he had yet to meet a woman willing to handle the fireworks.

An image of the wolf beta popped into his thoughts. Shy on the outside, she radiated with hidden depths and lips a man could lose himself in. Predator. Big teeth. Claws. His rat was right, that was an odd thought. He was grasping at straws. The pack would have to embrace any partner he chose, and they were possessive of him. Too much so. A wolf would be out of the question. Probably fatigue conjuring up crazy ideas. Or his ever-present need to be deeply connected, and being wrapped around and inside a woman, her scent intermingled with his own, the closest he got to satisfying that need. Having Jillian here tonight with that tinkling laugh, lemony scent, and long, mewling moan instead of her shrewish accusations would have helped him unwind after a tough evening.

For a rat alpha, pack integrity had to be his top priority—it was the source of their strength—how they survived and thrived in a world full of hunters. Since he earned rather than inherited leadership, as happened in some clans, he didn’t need to marry or start a family. He wanted to. Evan craved intimacy, which was what made him the longest lasting rat alpha on record. He understood how to create relationships, thrived on them. He loved his clan, but he also wanted to come home, take off all the masks he wore to govern the rats, and lose himself in his woman.

He sighed. Being solo again had its benefits. With the fae on the march, and this strange new alliance in place, being there for his pack would be paramount. Managing the clan jealousies that always came with his relationships would divide his mischief and weaken them.  Without strength, they’d be battling the predators in the alliance at the same time as they battled the fae.

He erased Jillian’s message, then got himself a beer.  The bite of a strong, cold brew kept him centered. Plopping down on his favorite recliner, he sank into the buttery faux leather, worn from age and use. He reached for the book of poetry, pen, and the journal he kept hidden under the chair cushion. His packmates would not understand. To him, the lyric and motion of a poem, how its stark language captured complex emotion, caressed his rough edges, tempered the well of loneliness he carried even amidst his pack. Reading and writing poetry released his inner torment and created a bridge to the empathy he needed to manage the rats and negotiate among the predators. 

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About Shari
Hello, I'm Shari. By day, I crawl out of bed, mainline coffee, walk the dog, get my kid off to school, hop on the metro, and save cities within the four walls of my office. Usually by email.

At night, the other Shari emerges.  I take off the suit, curl up on the couch and let my imagination play, with words and images until stories take shape (while periodically checking on my teen-ager, hiding out in the bedroom and plotting world domination with her furry minions).  As my alter ego, I save cities in a cape and spangled tights, wander space and time on a surfboard, fly over the Himalayas on feathered wings, make six-toed footprints in indigo talc snow on the sixth planet in the Andromeda galaxy or eavesdrop on Olympian gods while pretending to whip up a bowl of ambrosia.

In all these wondrous worlds, romance and passion blossom. I can't resist a happy ending. And I am particularly prone to writing happy endings for those who have given up on ever getting one. That gives me immense satisfaction. 

Join me on my journey. The best ideas emerge from team work.

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