Each book I write has its own journey and its own challenges, and In Season, the first sequel to Mating Season, was no exception. In Mating Season, Gilby was a short, chatty fellow who tended to blurt out whatever was on his mind. He was also loyal, brave, and honest. I refused to change him. I think we’ve all read series where the secondary character from an earlier book somehow morphs into an entirely different personality by the time he takes center stage. Gilby wasn’t going to get bigger or quieter or any more tactful. He already had a lot of excellent qualities and was fine the way he was. He just needed to find someone who could see all his good points and love him for his true self. He needed the heroine, Miksa. The challenge, which I hope I succeeded at, was to present Gilby to readers in such a way that they see him as Miksa does.
The second difficulty I faced was to keep the story fresh and flowing well. I didn’t want to repeat what I’d done in Mating Season, but there were certain elements that had to be included because of the first book. Namely, I was still going to have the arctic planet of Jensen, the Children of Nanook (the frost-bear shifters), and the challenge of finding love in a frozen wilderness.
I hate to say something unbearably clichéd like every snowflake is unique, but in the end it did come down to a simple matter of Gilby making In Season special. He’s a very different type of hero, and thus his story has its own flavor. Gilby isn’t like Koll, and his romance with Miksa isn’t either. As for keeping good pacing, I opted to make this work a short novella to prevent the story from lagging or dragging out. Like Gilby, In Season is short and sweet. I really hope readers enjoy it.
All Gilby wants is to find a female who will spend the mating season with him. Yes, he’s short. And yes, he talks too much and doesn’t often watch what he says. But he has a lot to offer.
Rejected by her fellow shifters because she can’t change into a frost bear, Miksa travels to the clawless people’s village to look for a mate. With his sexy scent and good humor, could Gilby be the male for her? Can he help her unlock the magic that will let her shift?
Love comes in all different shapes and sizes, and sometimes it even has claws.
And also in this volume is the bonus story “Breeding Season.” For the Children of Nanook—shifters who can take the form of the deadly frost bear—passions run high during breeding season. Desna has already chosen the mate of her heart, but can Karpok defeat the male who wants to take her from him?
(In Season was previously published by Liquid Silver Books. This work has been revised and re-edited. The short story “Breeding Season” has previously been released in anthologies.)
Gilby walked to a fireplace in the adjoining room and bent to stir the flames. She’d never taken an interest in a male’s backside before, but there was something about the taut stretch of his pants over his firm bottom that made her want to sink her teeth into him. Sparks rose, and the flames sputtered and popped as they grew.
His voice was clear and masculine. “You’ve just seen the front entrance, of course. I use this as a common room for entertaining guests. The bedroom is behind me, if you’d like to see it and—”
A series of yips from the far side of the house interrupted him.
Gilby lifted his head. “Just a moment, Halle and Onnika! We have company!” He glanced her way. “My sled hounds. They always get excited when I first come home. Those canines are the most loyal friends a man could ever ask for, and they’ve been with me since they were newborn pups.”
“They’re both female?” His slow smile made everything inside her coil tight. “I really like females. Do you want to meet them?”
“Yes.” The affection in his tone made her want to see him with the animals.
“Right this way. They bed down in the kennel attached to the house.” He walked down the hallway to her left and opened a door that led to the hounds. “There are my girls.”
She could see the canines were enclosed in a space large enough for them to walk around, but small enough to keep them out of trouble. It was warm and inviting, and the hounds smelled of excitement and happiness when they spotted their master. They were both as tall as Gilby. One was black with a white face and underside, while the other had the same pattern but with gold instead of black. Otherwise they looked identical. At least, she thought the hounds matched until they moved their feet.
“What’s wrong with the dark one’s leg?” Miksa asked.
Instead of resting on the ground, the front right paw was folded toward the animal’s ankle. The hound could step on it, but she obviously couldn’t put her full weight on the limb.
Gilby petted the black-and-white hound. “Halle was born with the deformity—not that she ever notices it much. She loves to run. Most sleds are pulled by a single hound, but I use them both and put Onnika in front to help her sister. She keeps Halle moving forward in a straight line and makes up for her lack of strength on the right side. With the two of them pulling the sled and me not weighing as much as most men, I can really fly.”
His pleasure and pride in his hounds was obvious. She also recognized that speed could be as valuable, or even more useful, than brute strength.
Having greeted their master, the canines turned their attention to Miksa. She wasn’t sure how they’d react to her scent. Most animals grew agitated around the Children of Nanook since they sensed the predator beneath the skin. The gold-toned one, Onnika, responded with wariness and uncertainty, audibly sniffing without drawing closer. Ironically, it was Halle—clearly the more submissive hound—who was the first to venture closer. The hound kept her head low as she limped up to Miksa and smelled her all over. Halle must have been satisfied because she snorted and walked back to Gilby when she was done.
“They adore you,” she observed.
“The feeling is mutual.” Gilby continued to beam at his girls, as he called them, and ruffled their fur. Then he turned and gave Miksa an intense look. “You should know I take excellent care of what’s mine.”
Just like that, the sexual tension that had filled her body returned. She grew hyperaware of her breasts, and she felt like she was melting between her legs.
“You said you wanted to inspect my body,” he reminded her. “Maybe I should show you the bedroom?”
Miksa responded with an anticipatory growl. She followed him out of the kennel and back into the main part of the house. His bedroom, she discovered, was a large but cozy space. A small fire heated the room, while the fur blankets on the bed promised a sensual treat.
Gilby stood within the glow of the flames and pulled his shirt off over his head. He revealed strong arms and a chiseled chest and abs. She was pleased to see that he was well proportioned, though he was no less impressive for packing so much muscle onto a short frame.
Her gaze tracked his tongue as it darted out to moisten his bottom lip. “How much do you want to see?”
“Everything.” She didn’t even have to think about her answer.