Wolves of Willow Bend #8
Release Day: November 24, 2015
Please Welcome, Heather Long!
Thank you Heather for joining me on your release day.
I asked Heather a couple of questions and here are her answers.
Why Wolves? Where Wolves?
See what I did there? A little play on wolves. Yes, I know, I’m nowhere near as clever as I pretend to be. First and foremost, let me say thank you to Carol Kittie for hosting me today. Carol’s awesome.
There’s a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is simple—I love the primal nature of wolves. We view wolves as the ultimate survivors, not to mention they are an apex predator in North America. While wolves are considered a stable population, they remain on the endangered species list. These noble predators faced off against an even greater predator—man—and nearly lost. Some species of wolves are lost to us, so it is vital that we preserve the rest.
A longer answer is more personal. When I was younger, I met the first Kaia, a wolf hybrid cross who’d been adopted by a close friend. She worked with endangered cats, including those larger predators imported as illegal pets or for hunts, and helped to rescue them and provide them with sanctuary. The hybrid wolf was a wolf/malamute cross, a first generation. He’d been horribly abused by someone who wanted to use him for dog fighting.
He didn’t like children or men, but he didn’t have a problem with women. I used to help her out with him, and I discovered an entire world while getting to know the first Kaia. He was fiercely protective of his territory—the large yard he had and his house. He tolerated my friend’s husband because the husband pee’d in the yard regularly—no, I’m not kidding. He marked his territory and he consistently wore something of his wife’s so that he carried her scent. But me? Kaia liked me for me. I was a girl, and he didn’t seem to perceive me as a threat.
For two weeks, I sat on the porch and let him make the decision to trust me. Eventually, he would eat from my hand and he would sit next to me and let me groom him. When my friends went out of town, I stayed with him so he wasn’t alone. A meter man utterly ignored the signs that said do not enter yard, please knock even if you need to read the meters. And the warning for the dangerous dog.
I was standing in the kitchen when I see this head pass the window. I knew Kaia was out there, so I rushed outside. The man is out there reading the meters, utterly oblivious to the wolf stalking him. Wolves don’t make sounds when they prepare to strike, so Kaia was utterly silent.
I caught his collar and said, no. Kaia froze and the man jerked around. I have never seen a six-foot-four male blanch so swiftly and I raised a hand and said, “Whatever you do, do not run. Very slowly and very calmly, back up to the fence. Do not turn your back on me or him. Do not talk to me. Just. Get. Out.”
Thankfully, the moron listened. Kaia never moved. He pressed against my side, and he stared at this man until the fence closed. For the rest of the day, Kaia wouldn’t let me out of his sight. He paced that fence a thousand times and came in the house—where I went, so did he. The next day, I put a lock on the interior of the fence so, no matter what, no one could let themselves in.
Kaia is why I write wolves. He was a gift. Someone had treated him so badly, yet he chose his people and he listened and I have never forgotten that fierceness. When I rescued my husky ten years ago, I named him after the first Kaia. Though the husky isn’t a wolf, he is my buddy and from time to time, he reminds me of the hybrid who passed away at a ripe age of twenty years old after more than a decade with his chosen pack, loved and loving.
See, told you it was the long answer.
The second part of the question is how did I choose where to situate my packs in the Wolves of Willow Bend. Geography, as well as local culture, played a role in my choices.
Hudson River is located in Westchester County. I had the great good fortune of visiting the region several times over the years. It’s both sophisticated and quaint and, ultimately, very beautiful. It’s located in New England where the seasons are magnificent and it’s close to New York City. In so many ways, it has an international kiss while maintaining this deep sense of American history. The pack reflects these traits, or at least I hope it does.
Willow Bend is located in the Midwest, and I knew it had to be. It’s small town America and a slice of apple pie. It’s a town where everyone knows your name and kids grow up, always planning to do great things and then they come home and keep everything going. It’s about a close-knit community and family ties. They get involved, but they take care of each other.
Delta Crescent is located primarily along the Gulf Coast and in the south. Yes, the home of the Alpha is in New Orleans, but they have all that southern gentility while having the taste of determination, independence and a melting pot of ideas. New Orleans mixes so many other cultures, nationalities and histories together, it’s perfect.
Sutter Butte is located in the American southwest, in harsh territory which breeds hardy folks and a people who prefer their privacy. They don’t have seasons the way they do back east or up north. They have closer border ties and bigger families (which, with wolves, is impressive to begin with) and everything is so much farther apart.
Yukon Pack is located in northern Alaska and includes parts of Canada. It’s cold, it’s remote, and it’s intensely private—even more so than Sutter Butte, if that’s possible. In the cold, icy north, life is not small town quaint and strangers are rarely welcome. In fact, they aren’t seen all that often to be welcomed, so they are more of a novelty. They don’t take for granted the luxuries we do here in the lower forty-eight, and they can exist in harmony with their primal nature.
I hope each pack reflects these traits, but I would argue that, in some ways, I didn’t choose where the packs belonged—they told me. What do you think? Do you have any questions about wolves or Willow Bend?
Cassius, Alpha of Sutter Butte, leads the most ruthless and dangerous pack in the United States. Misfits, castoffs, and forgotten wolves, they rose to create a pack more than a century ago in utter defiance of the order of the day. Seen as pitiless and cruel, Cassius wants more for his people than a yearly bloodbath as they fight for a better spot in the pecking order. To change his pack means to change himself, and he will find rebellion on all sides, not to mention from his own defiant heart.
Sovvan Stark, Omega of Delta Crescent, lives a cherished, beloved life in the center of her pack–a delicate and hard won balance. Though she is not the only Omega, she is the most experienced with the tremors of pack upset when power shifts from Alpha to Alpha. When her Alpha approaches her about Sutter Butte’s request, Sovvan considers the matter for several months. While she might hold within her the key to helping the Sutter Butte Alpha, the undertaking could very well kill her.
Accompanied by a single Hound, Sovvan begins a journey to help Cassius rebuild the foundation of his pack, but first she will have to transform him…
OMG! Heather Long has done it again! This tale is woven so intricately it captures you and doesn’t let go until the last word is read. Even then you still want more.
This is a difficult book, but so worth every minute. Cassius is a brutal Alpha, he has to be in order to rule. However, he has a vision of what he wants his pack to be and will go to any lengths to achieve it.
With misgivings Serafina, lets her Omega Sovvan decide whether or not she will help Cassius achieve his goal.
There is already unrest with the knowledge of an Omega coming to Sutter Butte, but even Cassius didn’t realize the extent of the hate and brutality that would be shown at her arrival. The action starts right at the beginning and even as they converse, umm, growl at each other you can feel the heat rising between them. A favorite scene of mine is when Cassius sees her on his roof.
“Woman.” Cassius’ voice echoed through the silence, and she jerked her gaze toward the yard, He stood just inside the gates, which closed silently behind him. “What the hell are doing up there?”
“Taking a walk.”
“On the roof?” Irritation pebbled his words.
“Well your yard isn’t that big, and I’m bored.” She actually hadn’t meant to admit the last. “I need…I want out of here. I hate feeling like a prisoner.” Her hand trembled, and the shaking seemed to radiate through her. “I need to run.”
This is the prelude to so much more.
A fast paced if sometimes frustrating read with OMG surprises. I can’t wait to see what comes next for this awesome group of wolves.
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
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Yearwood Daily Book Review
Heat rolled in waves from the blacktop of the old highway. Around him, the desert sprawled in its painted glory, seemingly melting into the horizon where it kissed the sky. The colors streaked past him as he accelerated, blowing past the old trading posts and bypassing the interstate with its smoother surface and promise of civilization in the distance. If one sought to journey through the decades, the old highway east of Holbrook was the place to start.
Sweat slicked his back beneath the leather jacket and the motorcycle vibrated between his thighs. Clocking over a hundred, he barely noticed the machine’s growl echoing his wolf’s. Cassius Lucera del Alba, Alpha of Sutter Butte squinted to catch sight of the town he sought ahead.
Though town was a generous description for the collection of ramshackle structures—of which a filling station with a decrepit market attached and a lone bar were clearly detailed. Time hadn’t forgotten the town, it had left it in the dust by doing a hundred and sixty and never looked back. If the location had a name, no map detailed it, not even Google. The poor bastards didn’t even have a ghost to call their own.
Though they might when he finished.
He didn’t slow until he reached the main drag, all eighty-five feet of it and parked his bike in front of the bar. A handful of vehicles were scattered amongst the cracked pavement and gravel. Three he recognized, two he didn’t. Like the bar, the cars were in sad shape and far more popular in earlier decades. Killing the engine, he dropped the kickstand and slid off his baby. Road dust coated her paint and chrome. With a stroke of his gloved hand over the seat, he promised her a bath later.
Leaving the bike, he strode toward the building. No one moved outside, but one wolf stood inside the filling station. He was a smart wolf, he’d spotted Cassius, yet didn’t reach for a phone or make any move other than retrieving his newspaper and flipping it open.
Inside, the cool air rushed over his sweaty face like a sweet kiss. The scents of stale beer, body odor, remnants of the blood spilled throughout the years, and fear stained the experience. The population of the bar—easily a dozen wolves though Cassius scented at least four more in the back—glanced up from their places scattered around the room. Three played pool, four others huddled around a card game while the rest sat in various spots including two at the bar drinking. A couple in the corner paused with her hand down his pants. The bartender—a tall, broad wolf with a balding pate and a world-weary expression raised his eyebrows in silent inquiry.
“Beer. Cold.” Cassius said, and the bartender nodded. A moment later, he set a tall bottle of Corona on the weathered bar top. The sides frosted and a hint of vapor escaped the top. Condensation formed almost immediately on the sides, slicking along the glass in rivulets.
Stripping off his fingerless gloves first. Cassius set them on the bar. Next, he peeled off his jacket. The old leather moulded him perfectly after the many years he spent wearing it. Only after setting it on the bar next to his gloves did he peel off three one hundred dollar bills and lay them next to the bottle. The bartender didn’t say a word as he took the bills, tucked them into his pocket then locked his register and exited through the double doors behind the bar.
Leaning against the aged wood, Cassius swept the room with his gaze. “If any of you are still sitting on your asses, disobeying the direct orders I sent out when I finish this beer, I’ll kill you.” He didn’t raise his voice. Shouting accomplished nothing. Yelling indicated the battle was lost before it began.
Chair legs scraping across the floor splintered the silence. The couple in the corner disengaged. The she-wolf grabbed her purse as she stood. Boots striking the floor punctuated her exodus. No sooner did the door slam shut behind her than the four wolves playing cards toss them down, abandoning their game. The men muttered, but they divvied the pot, then bowed their heads to him one at a time before hurrying out.
Tipping the bottle up, he took a long pull of the cold drink. It soothed his parched throat. One of the pool players threw down his stick. One of the wolves tried to stop him with a hand on his arm, but he shook it off. Then like the other wolves before him, he hurried out the door.
From nearly twenty to only ten—behind feet stomped on the stairs followed by another door slamming. Make that eight. One of the upstairs wolves strode into the bar, and stood in the center of it. Surprise filled his scent at the emptiness in the room. The others waited, their attention divided between Cassius and Finch.
Stupid fucking name for a wolf. Another long pull from his beer, and Cassius was three quarters finished. One by one he met the gazes of the wolves around the room. The smarter ones lowered their eyes immediately, the dumbasses fought to hold his gaze—even Finch.
Focusing on him last, Cassius studied him. Fresh beads of sweat began to trickle along Finch’s cheeks. The wolf swore, then stomped out and slammed the door with enough force, one of the hinges cracked.
Then there were seven.
Coming in 2016 – Snow Wolf – Willow Bend #9
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
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