Guess what’s now live?
My new next-door neighbor looks like a demon—and acts like one too!
Most of the Akrellians now living on Earth after saving humanity from an alien invasion are super polite. The red-scaled, black-quilled behemoth living next door is a notable exception, and he doesn’t bother to return my enthusiastic greeting with anything more than an impatient growl.
But I know the secret to making friends, and that secret is a dozen red velvet cupcakes with cute monster faces on them, just in time for Halloween. The grumpy, smoldering volcano of a male might pretend he’s not interested in my offering, but he can’t resist my sweet treats for long.
Of course, he might just be too hot to handle, because this Akrellian serves a darker Dancer, and the drumbeats from his primal song draw me to the domineering and demanding male while his wild howl thrills my blood—even as it sends me fleeing. When he gives chase, I try not to reveal how eager I am to be caught.
It’s just too bad that he believes I’m an assassin who tried to poison him.
This Halloween holiday romance features a grumpy hero and a sunshine heroine discovering that opposites not only attract, but can complement each other and find harmony together in a fun, speedy read (approximately 66K words) that is set in the Iriduan Test Subjects universe but has a lighter and more comedic tone. You don’t need to have read the Iriduan Test Subjects series to read this series, though there are occasional references to events and characters from that series.
The books in this series are standalone and can be read out of order, though they do take place chronologically:
Book 1: My Chameleon Mate
Book 2: My Foxy Mate
Book 3: My Primal Mate
All content warnings can be found here.
The following portion of this blog is the extended Author’s Note for My Primal Mate and will include spoilers for that book. It is best read after reading the book. 😀
My Primal Mate is my thirtieth published novel!!
I have to keep reminding myself of that, because it’s still so shocking that I made it this far with my books! I know that some authors have easily double that number published, and I’m in awe of their productivity, but I can honestly say that I never imagined that I would ever have a backlist this size when I set out to write my first novel.
(One that has not been, and will never be, published, lol. Trust me, it’s a disaster!)
I wrote two full novels before writing and then publishing The Princess’s Dragon, both of which will never be published (even though one was a goblin romance that was well ahead of its time, XD. It’s a disaster, and would have to be rewritten from scratch anyway.)
My first published book was written out of frustration at the lack of romance novels featuring actual dragons as romance heroes, (rather than dragon shifters or dragon riders or dragon masters). I still love that book and it holds a very special place in my heart, and some day, I plan to revisit it and remaster the entire series into an omnibus, possibly with some sequels that are closer to the heat level of the romances I’m writing now. When I wrote The Princess’s Dragon, I hadn’t decided what I wanted it to be, even though the story and characters knew it was a romance all along.
I love dragons!
I don’t know what originally fascinated me about them when I was young, but I have loved them for as long as I can remember. It was dragons that brought me into the fantasy genre as a little girl, not unicorns or fairies. I have dragon tattoos, I have a collection of dragons of all shapes and sizes in my home, and I daydream of dragons and thrill whenever I see them rendered in movies and animated films.
Why am I talking about dragons, when this note is supposed to be about My Primal Mate?
The Akrellian species to which Zernogal belongs was inspired by dragons (and porcupines XD). Many of my reptilian species are a reflection of my love for dragons, but the Akrellians are directly based on the mythical beasts. (As are the Ajda Yan, from my Rampion universe).
Because Akrellians are based on dragons, they have always had very aggressive natures, which is something I show in Tirel’s book, The Warrior’s Mate, but I also show how their natures have been restrained by thousands of years of civilized cooperation.
However, even in the earliest book in the Iriduan Test Subjects series, The Scorpion’s Mate, I mention (briefly) the darker side of Akrellian nature, when Ilyan points out that Claire shouldn’t have sympathy for the Akrellians Thrax fought. The Iriduans only know the aggressive side of the Akrellians, because the two species are enemies, and they’ve come to rightly fear their enemy’s brutality.
Those Akrellians who must go to war with the Iriduans are filled with the “Dark Partner’s” spirit and energy, and it is a vital force for their survival against a powerful opponent, while the “Dancer” they worship as their one true goddess fills them with a philosophical appreciation for beauty and cooperation.
Neither force is meant to be wholly good or wholly evil, anymore than nature’s whims can be classified as “good” or “evil.” Both have their positives and their negatives, and the point of their existence is that those strengths and flaws balance each other out when they are in harmony. If you’ve read My Primal Mate, but not The Warrior’s Mate, then you already know the small spoiler that those energies are now in harmony.
In Ilyan’s speech in The Scorpion’s Mate, he mentions how the Akrellians danced upon the entrails of Iriduan soldiers. This was said to imply that it happens all the time in the name of the “Dancer” the Akrellians worship, but Ilyan is ignorant of what really took place, knowing only what he’s been told by the empire.
The one incident that is held up by the Iriduans as proof of Akrellian savagery is what forms the backdrop for Zernogal’s story. Iriduan soldiers invaded his colony, tried to kill the members of his tribe, were hunted and captured by him and his fellow warriors, and then were sacrificed on their altar to the Dark Dancer.
It’s a grim tale, and not one I wanted to be super focused on during the much more lighthearted story of My Primal Mate, however, I felt like it was an important starting point for the misunderstood hero.
I like to switch perspectives in my books, and I always try to view things from every character’s perspective, free of the bias from the opposing characters. Obviously, I have my own opinions about which character is “the good guy” and which is “the bad guy,” but I often surprise even myself when I get inside the heads of the antagonists. I love nuance, and I try to include it in every story. In many ways, the truth turns out to be only a matter of perspective.
Sometimes, all I have to ask myself is how most humans would feel about alien invaders bent on wiping out our towns or cities. Then I ask myself how humans with the power to travel to alien worlds would react to a dangerous extraterrestrial threat on that world, and whether they would invade it to wipe out that threat before it spreads to their own colonies.
But that’s just the dark backstory, and My Primal Mate isn’t meant to be grim and dark, despite being set during Halloween. Zern’s story is about redemption, but more than that, it’s about him finding balance after a lifetime of rejecting all the pleasant aspects of life in pursuit of his focus on ambition and aggression.
He learns that it’s okay to enjoy sweet treats once in a while, and that it’s okay to have a soft heart and like cute things. He learns that vulnerability isn’t the same as weakness, and that even weakness isn’t something that must always be rejected and despised.
And Ariyah learns to be bold and go after what her heart most desires instead of waiting for it to come to her. She learns that timidity and patience don’t always get you what you want, and that sometimes, you have to be persistent and pursue your goal with determination and ambition.
I love this story so much because it takes two opposite natures and blends them to bring out the best in both characters. Ariyah grows bolder and stronger in her pursuit of Zern, and Zern becomes more yielding and playful in his relationship with Ariyah. And most importantly, they both open their hearts when both of them were so guarded before meeting each other that they would never have connected on such a deep level with anyone else.
I love a grumpy hero, and Zernogal definitely fit the bill for me. He was guarded, aggressive, antisocial, introverted, and perfect for a sunshine bright heroine who loves to spread sweetness to catch him off guard.
Some of my metaphors are on the nose, I know, but I chose them to be that way. For example, how Ariyah delivered sweetness into Zern’s life with the cupcakes, only for him to overindulge in the unfamiliar experience, then become convinced it’s bad for him, and that he must avoid it (and her), while at the same time, craving a repeat of the pleasure he gained in the consumption of the cupcakes before too many of them made him so sick.
He wants that sweetness in his life, but the only way he knows how to get it is to take it by strength and prowess, because that’s all he’s ever known. So he “hunts” her, but Ariyah isn’t acting like his usual prey. She’s not afraid of him. She wants him to chase her, but more importantly, she wants him to catch her. Her yielding to him and giving him her love and desire without demanding anything in return catches him off guard again.
The “howling” is a replay of a similar chase scene from The Warrior’s Mate, only this time, I got to add even more to the horror movie element with a familiar (and at times terrifying XD) cornfield. I so wish I could show visually how that chase scene looked in my head.
I am definitely pro monster when I watch monster movies, is all I’m saying. 😀
Zern coming to Ariyah in spirit, choosing her over communing with the Dark Dancer, was another metaphor I got to play with, in a delicious way that I hope my readers really enjoyed.
Was it only due to heightened telepathic and telekinetic synergy between the two of them caused by the Akrellian psychic adaptations, or was it really a supernatural event?
I’ll let you decide. 😉
One thing I love to do in my books is flesh out the worlds they’re set in. I know some readers grow impatient with too much worldbuilding, so as I develop my storytelling skills, I work to make my worldbuilding information leaner and always pertinent to the story, but still, there’s often opportunities to advance understanding about how my alien cultures and societies function, and the Akrellian society is a fascinating one for me, especially in regards to their interactions with humans, not to mention with the more dangerous side of their own natures.
I really got to examine these things in this story, plus show how Zernogal not only changes himself, but changes those around him. (Also telepathy? Or is it supernatural? ;))
And then there’s Cupid and crew. They are changing too. In mysterious ways. 😉 (Unless you’ve read Key to the Dead Fall, in which case, you probably know a bit more about what’s going on with Cupid and crew.)
I hope that you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I really hope you look forward to more from this series. If this is the first book you’ve read in this series and you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll check out the other two. They are also standalones that can be read out of order, however they do take place in chronological order, so there are sometimes references and Easter eggs from previous books (the programmable hover vacs, for example).
A heartbroken human newlywed accidentally launches herself into space and crash-lands on a primitive planet, where she’s rescued by a reptilian alien with very chameleon-like features, including a prehensile tail and other intriguing attributes, who helps her forget all about her philandering husband.
A successful human saleswoman in search of adventure meets a seductive, foxlike extraterrestrial called an Okihan with plenty of interesting gold piercings and a pirate past that comes back to haunt them both.
This series has been a lot of fun for me to write so far, and I have many concepts and even some outlines already done for the series. Here’s some of them:
—an Iriduan rebel named Urbarra who was introduced in The Iriduan’s Mate. (He’s more than he seems, but he juuussstt might be forgetting that for a bit during his story and believes he’s an arrogant Iriduan official.)
—a Thokost, a plant/fungi/reptile/amphibian alien with some really different anatomy, which was a species I introduced in The Iriduan’s Mate. (Fierce warriors who are very aloof, leak toxin from their skin, go through multiple forms during their life stages, and have sensory filaments. Oh, and they can choose the number of body parts they grow. And that means any body parts. ;D)
—an Urasol (bear-like behemoth of an alien) named Arkto. If you’ve read My Foxy Mate, then you’ve met him. 😀 (I love this huggable teddy bear who’s a sucker for the ladies XD)
—Anubis (of course!) as well as Inpu and Anpu, the jackal-headed Inu’As introduced in The Hunter’s Mate. (As of now, this won’t be a “why choose” romance. They each have stories planned in the concept stage, not the outline yet, with Anubis being the first of the three to get his story. This could change because I’m still debating, since I initially planned the trio to share a single heroine, but that story plan was backburnered years ago.)
*This is a tough one for me, especially since it is probably the most requested book so far, because I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to Anubis. I want all the stories and all the beautiful jackal-men! XD—on a related note, the Dead Fall might just be getting a new species from Tak and Iyaren’s world that might just be four-armed jackal-men. 😉
—a true Thida Naf, like what Sha Zaska from The Iriduan’s Mate is supposed to be, and this species has lots of very big, bioluminescent tentacles. 😀 (This one’s gonna be so wild! Cosmic horror meets romantic comedy—at least, that’s the plan.)
—a Menops male, the ant-like species mentioned from the very beginning of the series (and the hero from The Hunter’s Mate), in full insectoid form. (I’m very excited about this one, because I’m keeping him in his ant-form, and it’s going to be very different!)
—An olem, the three-eyed, scaled aliens inspired by dragons and the tuatara lizard. (There are some very cool mating details for the olems that I can’t wait to share! How they find each other, how they bond, and how they live are just a part of that.)
—An Ultimen hero, of course! We neeeed a Bigfoot romance! (I have a couple of concepts for these guys!)
—A giant, alien, man-eating amoeba, you say? Yep, I have a plan for a Dream Weaver too (A Dream Weaver was one of the antagonists from The Serpent’s Mate, though I don’t know if I’d call it a villain so much as a survivor). This one is going to be SO cool! Very dreamy and VERY alien. 😀
—An AI, because of course we need an AI romance! I’ve only gotten the chance to write one so far with Rampion (different series altogether), so I definitely need to play with another AI story.
—And…Cupid? I’ll just wait on divulging the details for this one, because this is a story that won’t be written for a little bit yet, but let’s just say, the “god” of love doesn’t escape his own arrows, and his own love story is one he can’t predict.
I want to do all these stories, and it’s difficult to choose between them, because I love all the characters, concepts, and plots. Let me know in the comments which books you’d like to see first. I’m not promising those will be the next books I write, but I do take that kind of feedback into consideration when making a decision about which manuscript to work on next.
Thank you so much for reading my blog, and if you’ve read the book, thank you for that too! And if you liked it so much you left a rating or review, I want to give you an extra helping of thanks! Those make a huge difference in visibility for these books.
I appreciate the support and encouragement all my readers have given me! You inspire me!