I’m guest blogging on Love Bytes, where I discuss writing guys who don’t fit the typical romance-hero patterns.
I’ve been caught up in the release of Tracefinder: Changes but I also have another series book coming out in less than a month…
Unsafe Exposure – Hidden Wolves book 4 – will be released by MLR Press on September 9th 2016.
I now have the cover, and I’m delighted to show it to you.
Stepping out of the closet as a gay man may be a walk in the park, compared to coming out as a werewolf.
From the moment artist Dylan Shore arrives in Chicago, his life gets twisted like a kaleidoscope. Why does a street gang he’s never met before want him dead? Why is a hot but odd mathematician stalking him? And how can half the things Alex Corwin says possibly be true, no matter how honest he seems?
Alex has a frightening dilemma. Dylan is attractive, appealing, out and proud. He’s also completely unaware that he’s a werewolf. It shouldn’t be Alex’s job to tell him, and warn him that gay wolves usually end up dead. But someone has to, before he finds out in blood and violence.
Chicago’s not Alex’s home town, but somehow he needs to protect Dylan from the local packs, protect the Packs from being outed by Dylan, and keep his cool around the first man to touch his own deeply-closeted heart.
I hope readers will enjoy another look at my werewolves, as the Packs face their biggest challenge yet. And of course, the Minneapolis North wolves will show up to play a part, as Alex and Dylan cope with hostile humans, hostile wolves, and life changes neither of them could have even imagined a few short weeks earlier.
MLR usually does not do pre-orders. I will let you know if that changes. But otherwise, the book should be on virtual store shelves September 9th.
Just a quick note to say Tracefinder: Changes is now live on
Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Tracefinder-Changes-Kaje-Harper-ebook/dp/B01JPF0ISE/
Amazon UK- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tracefinder-Changes-Kaje-Harper-ebook/dp/B01JPF0ISE/
Sorry the UK price is up a bit from book 1 – that’s a direct conversion, with a bit of dip by the British pound😦
And for those who are wondering what Luger, Brian’s Belgian Tervuren dog, looks like, this is Luger:
Tracefinder: Changes – Tracefinder book 2 – is now available at
All Romance eBooks (pdf, mobi, epub) – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-tracefinderchanges-2084486-153.html
Smashwords (pdf, mobi, epub) – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/655881 (with distribution to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple in the next 1-3 weeks)
Amazon… waiting for it to go live.
I will update the Amazon link when I have it.
Winner of the free ebook copy from the post on this site July 27th was desireepinkerton – I’ll PM you about claiming your book.
This story is not the end of the road for Brian and Nick – they’ll be back in book 3 in 2017. This one does move our guys closer to their happy ending, though. I hope you’ll enjoy this further adventure, which finds our guys dealing with danger and desire, while facing cops, crooks, and family members.
(Of course, with release two days away, I don’t expect to get close-to-release-day reviews, but I have the fourth Wolves coming out in a month, so I chose not to wait for ARCs.)
For those waiting to read this book, I thought I’d share another excerpt that may reassure you that Nick and Brian are moving forward with their relationship, although it’s still a work in progress.
This excerpt is from Chapter 2, so if you don’t like even tiny spoilers, look no further. But if you were wondering about the guys…
…Brian has tried to do a good Find, without the success he wanted. He also went to a therapist, but he knew, ten minutes into his first appointment, that Dr. Richard “call me Rich” Anson wasn’t going to work out. Nick picked him up after the appointment with Dr. Dick…
A few blocks later, Nick said, “I think you should stick with the therapy.”
“Because I’m crazy.”
“Because you’ve been tense and… off. Not like you.”
You are too. He slid a hand over to touch Nick’s thigh, squeezing the solid muscle in faded denim. “Maybe I need something else.” He wasn’t very good at seduction, but he had the urge to try. It’d been two long weeks. “Something to take my mind off it.”
Nick shifted uncomfortably. “I’m driving.”
“Well, I didn’t mean I’d blow you in the middle of traffic.” Brian didn’t remove his hand, but he didn’t slide it higher either. “But when we get home all bets are off.”
“Yeah.” Nick didn’t add anything else until they were parked in front of the house and getting out. Then he muttered, “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
“What isn’t?” Brian followed him up the front steps. “Me jumping you when we get in the door? If you want, I’ll let you do the jumping.”
“Damn.” Nick let them in, then closed the door and turned to him. “Look, I’m kind of not in the mood.”
Brian stepped back. “You don’t sleep with crazy people? You’ve realized I’m actually ugly?”
“No! Nothing like that.”
“What is with everyone?” Dr. Dick’s patronizing words came back up like bad leftovers. Brian wanted to punch the wall, but he’d put ice on Nick’s knuckles twice now, after Nick had done it, so he kept his hands unbroken by making fists until his nails dug into his palms. “I’m a big boy now. I’m allowed to have sex.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Well, it’s what Dr. Dick meant.” Obviously his walk hadn’t been long enough, and having Nick hold back dug that pain deeper. He stalked over to slam his hands flat on the wall on either side of Nick’s shoulders, framing him. Nick’s eyes flashed, but he didn’t duck out from under. Brian moved in closer, until his bigger size helped trap Nick in place. “I am not a child.” He arched his hips, so proof of that rubbed against Nick’s thigh. “I’m not some dumb kid who’ll have sex with any guy who wants me to.”
“You’re—” Nick began. Brian cut the words off with a hard kiss, off-center, more angry than sexy. After a second, Nick opened his lips, and it became softer. Brian touched his tongue to Nick’s, then broke the kiss.
“I’m not some kind of virgin you seduced. I’m not sleeping with you for room and board.” He leaned back to look Nick in the eyes, their hips still pressed together. He could tell Nick was getting hard too. “Nothing makes me feel more real and alive than sex. I feel adult and equal.”
“You are equal.” It would’ve been more convincing if Nick hadn’t sounded like he was trying to persuade himself.
“What would it take to make you say that like you mean it? Do you want to fuck me? Or do I have to top you to show I can?” They hadn’t done that yet, and he didn’t want his first time to be angry, but he was so tired of proving he was a real person— not least of all to himself.
Nick brought his hands up at last, warm against Brian’s back. “Fucking is no more equal than other kind of sex. Maybe less.”
“But you wouldn’t do that with a crazy guy. You wouldn’t do it with a kid.”
“I wouldn’t do anything with a kid. A crazy guy…” Nick breathed out heavily. “None of us are all that sane, really.”
“You want me to see a shrink.” He couldn’t help relaxing his braced posture into a lean, his temple against Nick’s, their bodies pressed together by his weight. Nick’s arms felt so good around him.
“So?” Nick held him easily. “Remember I said I’d been to see Dr. Murphy?”
“Yeah.” This wasn’t the conversation he’d planned— that one had been more like “Should I suck you first?” But he didn’t want to move right now.
“It was a bad crime scene, a bunch of bodies, blown apart. One of the guys, a detective, quit afterward. He took up painting, I hear. He found something to do so he could cope. Bry’s been that for you.”
“A bit weirder hobby than painting,” he muttered against Nick’s hair.
“True.” Nick pushed him back, and he went, unwillingly. But Nick didn’t step away, just met his eyes. “Have we, um, ever had sex when you were Bry?”
“No! God, no.” The thought tasted foul in his mouth. Bry didn’t have sex or want it or even think about it. That was part of the point. When he’d been attracted to the wrong guy, in the wrong place, letting Bry rise to the top— No! Playing Bry— had helped him not show any gay reactions. And the thought of Nick seeing him like that, when they were skin to skin? No! “I wouldn’t ever act like Bry then. It would be weird. Freaky.” His hard-on softened a bit, thinking about it.
“It’d be really bad for me too.”
“Is that why you haven’t touched me in two weeks? Because you think I might become Bry without warning?”
“Not exactly.” But the shifting of Nick’s eyes said Brian was onto something.
“You feel like you’re the grown-up, and I’m the not-grown-up, and I don’t deserve a sex life.”
“I don’t want to make things worse for you.”
“Worse?” He took another step back.
“That Find was so tough. I figured it ended up a reminder of your own mom, your bad years. When you crashed, you were a bit like Bry. Confused. I thought it would be better not to mix sex into the middle of that.”
“What about if I want to?” He couldn’t make real sense out of Nick’s weird excuse.
“I don’t know.”
Brian was about to make a bitter crack about what kind of guy turns down sex, as a cover for his hurt, when Nick added, “How am I supposed to keep you safe, if I keep making stupid mistakes? Sex makes everything complicated. What if it’s another mistake?”
“Another what? I insisted on the Find. I fell apart afterward. All you did was not to talk me out of it. You let me decide, went with me. Covered for me. Called Dr. Murphy. What mistake did you make?”
Nick opened his mouth to reply, an odd expression on his face. After a moment he said, “Bad planning? No planning?”
“We both made that one.”
“This new doctor was obviously a mistake.”
“That’s on Dr. Murphy. And on him.” Brian held Nick’s gaze. “I miss touching you.”
Nick closed his eyes. “I’m such a screw-up lately. I’ve been jumpy at work. I’m probably a pain to be around. I’m trying to do the job, and be your friend, and… and it feels like I’m waiting to fall off the disaster cliff. One way or another, one place or another. And when I do, it’ll be easier if we’re not sleeping together.”
“I don’t want easy, if it means not being together.”
He waited for Nick to say that he did, but he just stood there, lips pressed together, not opening his eyes.
Brian reached out and touched Nick’s jaw, then his mouth. When Nick finally looked at him, he took a step forward to move in close again. “The thing I need most is—” you, but I can’t say that “—trust.”
“Yeah.” It felt truer than he’d realized. “Trust me to know what I want. Don’t make that choice for me.”
“Oh.” There was a crease between Nick’s dark brows.
Brian wanted to smooth it, but didn’t quite dare. “I’m sorry I totally fell apart on you that day.” He hated thinking back, couldn’t even remember much of what he’d said.
“Not your fault.”
“So?” He couldn’t do this conversation anymore. “Sex? Now?” If Nick says no, if he says you’re not sane enough to want this, for real…
Nick leaned against him, and kissed him. He started slow and soft, but it eased the shakiness in Brian’s chest. He tried to kiss back exactly right, not too gently, not too sexy. Nick’s arms slid around him, and he couldn’t help reacting with a needy shiver. Nick broke the kiss and sighed, but it wasn’t a bad sigh. Satisfaction, maybe. Not unhappiness. He didn’t think. He tried one more quick peck to Nick’s jaw.
“You.” Nick hugged him. “God, yes, okay, sex. I might even let you call the shots.”
His breath came out in a whoosh, and his knees sagged. To cover it, he grinned, aiming for wicked, and sank all the way down to kneeling. “This could be fun. Me telling you what to do.”
“Within limits. I’m not up for having you in my ass right now.”
“You’re up for other things.” He ran a finger along the ridge in Nick’s jeans and enjoyed the way Nick hardened further at his touch.
“Yeah, well, grind against a guy and that happens.”
“I love it.” He mouthed over the bulge, testing its the hardness and shape, his hands on Nick’s hips to hold him still. He really, really loved the way Nick’s body responded to him. There was no hesitation there, no second guesses or doubts. Just a shudder and a groan, and a little seep of wetness at the tip.
Nick’s hands landed on his head. “Let me get out of these jeans first? They’re tight.”
“I love them too.” He ran the edges of his teeth up and down, the hardness muted by the layers of cloth. “But yeah. Bedroom. Naked.”
“Tracefinder: Changes”, book 2 in the Tracefinder series, releases Thursday Aug 4th. Don’t forget to comment on the previous post before midnight on the 3rd to enter the drawing for a free copy.
To whet your appetite a bit, here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the story…
Brian didn’t flinch when the front door slammed open, banging the wall. He knew it was Nick, even before that familiar voice snapped out behind him, “What the fuck? Are you okay?”
On the TV screen, the painful scene played again. He nodded, as he watched it for the twentieth time.
“Brian!” Nick’s tone was loud enough to make him turn around. “Why’d you text me? What happened?”
There was Nick Rugo, one very hot cop in full uniform, standing in the doorway. That sight normally had Brian immediately interested. Today, all he felt was a flood of relief, despite Nick’s darkening glare.
Nick took a fast step closer. “Hey dude, I stuck a finger down my throat and puked all over the patrol car to get out of work. You’d better be dying!”
Brian shook his head, and pointed to the TV. A man stood at a podium, leaning forward, speaking urgently. Off to the side stood three children, their faces miserable and bewildered, the younger two clinging to the oldest boy’s hands. Behind them, a video of the missing woman played over and over. A wife and mother, ordinary, blond-haired, smiling, laughing, playing with the children. The Missing Persons tip line number crawled silently across the bottom of the screen. Brian had turned the sound off after the sixth time. It’d scraped over his nerves like a knife on a chalkboard.
She’d vanished into thin air, her car abandoned, her family terrified and begging for help. Just like a dozen other innocent people he could’ve probably saved by now, if he wasn’t still playing it safe and hiding in this house. Hiding, pretending he was doing his best, even though every missing person and AMBER Alert made him cold and sick inside as he changed the channel. Today, something had snapped.
“I could Find her.” He knew it was true, with every fiber of his being. “If I had something. I tried from touching the picture—” his hand on the screen, hovering over the woman’s face, every sense focused inward in vain “—but it didn’t work.”
“You know that doesn’t—”
“I had to do something!” Even knowing it was useless, he’d tried until his vision faded and he couldn’t catch his breath. And he’d failed. “If I could touch something of hers, I could Find her. I can lead them to her.”
“Probably. But dammit, you can’t call me off work in a panic for shit like that. You’re gonna lose me my fucking job!”
He winced, because he didn’t want his choices to hurt Nick. He really didn’t. But today he couldn’t just change the channel. “She matters more than your job.”
“The hell she does!” Nick hesitated, and flushed. “I mean, yeah, she matters. But fuck! There are a hundred people, probably a thousand, you could Find who all matter. You can’t live like that! I can’t drop everything and come running to Find some woman now and some guy tomorrow, some crook—”
“Some missing kid?” He glared at Nick as hard as he could. “Like, drop everything and risk your job for some missing little girl?” He’d done that for Keesha, to Find her, because it was right, but also because it mattered to Nick. He’d risked more than just a job.
“Do you have any idea what kind of thin ice I’m already on because of you?”
Those words would be painful to remember, later. He knew Nick’s bosses had reamed him out more than once for his actions in the case against Marston. Nick’s current commander had apparently warned him about stepping even a half inch out of line— with threats of losing the job Nick loved, if he ever screwed up again. But Brian had thought he and Nick were on the same page in the scrambling mess of those last impossible choices. It hurt that apparently Nick blamed him for how it came out.
The ache was distant, though, in the immediate need to do something good. “She has three kids. They need their mom.” A driving, sweaty, queasy urgency rose inside him. “I have to help.”
Nick pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yeah. I guess. But dammit, I heard she went missing yesterday. There’s a search ongoing. You couldn’t wait two more hours till I got off patrol? Use your head!”
“In two hours she could be dead.” He dashed a tear off his cheek and made an effort to firm up his voice. He needed to be strong and adult and in control right now, if he was to get the chance to do a good thing again. To Find this mom for three little kids who’d probably cried themselves to sleep last night, and were walking through the day in a cold, dark fog. For that oldest boy, whose bleak stare was painfully familiar. “Please, will you help me? If I phone the hotline, even if I somehow get the number right, they won’t believe me. They’ll think I’m nuts.”
“Too fucking true.” Nick came and sat beside him on the couch. Brian hit the remote to restart the recording, and turned on the sound. Let Nick watch this play out, see the man beg for help to find his kids’ mother, and then say no.
Nick took the control from him and froze it again. “You don’t need to convince me it’s important. But…” He shook his head. “You’re gonna just dive into this? Risk everything? You know it’s gonna go bad, one way or another.”
“That’s why I called. I need your help to make it as safe as we can. Please, Nick.” They’d started this discussion half a dozen times in the last two months, with the missing person just theoretical. What if I could help… Every time, Nick had convinced him to be safe, to wait, to get some kind of system established for his talent, and go slow. He couldn’t stand one more day of slow.
Nick ran a hand over his head like he was going to tug at his dark hair, except it was too short, now that he’d cut it to go with the uniform. He rubbed his forehead instead. “Maybe we can set something up secretly with the family or their rep. Like we did last time.”
“I don’t want waiting, with meetings and lawyers.”
“So you want what? Should I call the tip line and say, ‘I’m an MPD cop, and I know this real psychic who can find her’ and expect them to believe me?”
“If it would work? Yeah!”
“And then they either laugh their heads off, or you’re outed to the world.”
“I don’t care about that.” He did, really. It scared the heck out of him. But he needed to do this. “Maybe it’s time. We haven’t found a better answer.”
“You may not care now… Aargh!” Nick stood, paced across the room, and whirled around. “What about when they sit you down with the entire Missing Persons list and say, ‘Start at the top’?”
“Would that be so bad?”
“You’d kill yourself.”
Brian knew Nick was right, although dying for a good cause sometimes seemed easier than living uselessly, doing nothing real, nothing that mattered. Nick hated when he said stuff like that, so he didn’t say it anymore. He’d tried to stop thinking it too, but that was harder. It ate away inside him like acid, to keep hiding the one useful part of himself, just because using it was risky. He wanted to keep Nick happy, but… but… “Help me do something good, just this once!”
“Once? Bullshit.” Nick stared back and forth between him and the screen, for several minutes.
Brian sat as still as he could, biting his lip, holding back more words.
“Fuck. How’m I supposed to keep you safe?” Nick’s tone was rough. “You have this hero complex, you want to save the world. I get it. But you can’t do it if you’re dead.”
“I can’t do it if I never try.” He couldn’t explain how watching chance after chance go by while he played the coward was killing him another way. Or say it wasn’t Nick’s job to protect him, because he didn’t want to start that argument. “Who are you to talk about a hero complex, anyway? Mr. Great Cop. I thought you liked taking chances in a good cause.”
Finally Nick said, “Okay, all right, shit. Gotta figure this. They’ll be swamped with tips from cranks and fakes, and people who saw someone who maybe looked like her. It’s going to be hard to get to the front of the tip line.”
On-screen, a police department representative was speaking at the podium. Brian said, “Those are your people. Can’t you, like, jump the queue?”
“Let me think.” Nick paced a couple of steps away, then back. “You’re really sure?”
“I’m very sure.”
He nodded once and pulled out his phone, scrolled, then tapped a contact. “Hey, Joelle, it’s Nick. Listen. You know that favor you owe me? I’m calling it in… yeah, I know you’re swamped, that’s the point. I have a lead, but I need to give it to the right person. Can you read off who’s involved in the missing woman case on TV, the blonde, where they found the car? Yeah, Emily Stewart… Ninth precinct? Not the top brass. Start with the sergeant and go down… okay… yeah… good enough. Thanks. Yeah, I will… I hope so.”
He glanced at Brian. “Last chance to stop this and be safe.”
“All right.” Nick scrolled, touched the screen. Then tapped the number again, and again. Finally he got an answer, and said, “Hey, Quentin, yeah I know you’re busy. Listen. I think I have a way to locate the Stewart woman, but you have to trust me….
Tracefinder: Changes will release August 4th. (Not up for pre-orders, but it won’t be long till next Thursday.)
Comment on this post to be entered for the chance to win a free ebook copy on release day. One winner will be selected at random from comments here (also one on my Goodreads blog, and one on Facebook.) Comments posted before Midnight CST on Aug 3rd will count in the drawing. I will message the winners on the 4th.
I can’t wait to share this one with you all.