Our First Fictional Pet by Tiffany Roberts

Anna here, and happy to report I’m having an awesome release week! Embrace the Passion is now out and finding so many readers. And a huge bonus is that we are generating lots of support for the Hero Dogs charity!

Today, I’m welcoming husband and wife sci-fi romance writing duo Tiffany Roberts to talk about their Embrace the Passion story, Hunter of the Tide. They’re talking about the cutest-looking fish cat I’ve ever seen (okay, maybe the only fish cat I’ve ever seen, but still the cutest!)

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Throughout the books in our Kraken series, we’ve done our best to create vibrant alien environments both above and below the waves, but we knew our needs for Hunter of the Tide would be unique. The creatures we’re already established in the world of Halora were firmly planted either on land or in the sea (apart from the titular kraken, of course, who get to enjoy both), and none of them would quite work to suit the circumstances of our hero, Randall. As a human, Randall would spend most of his time in the air, but his life among the kraken meant he’d be in the water quite a bit, too. He needed a pet that could thrive with him in both environments.

We had a few criteria to meet in the creation of his companion—as mentioned, the animal needed to function well on land and at sea, it needed to be endearing to both the characters in the story and the readers, and it needed to be something that felt like a real, living part of Halora.

We looked to some earth creatures for inspiration, particularly semiaquatic mammals like seals and otters, but they weren’t quite alien enough as they were. Some inspirational artwork added the last bits we needed to create the prixxir, a semiaquatic species that lives along the coastlines of Halora. Part otter, part feline, and part fish, the prixxir present something vaguely familiar to Halora’s humans—a faint echo of the dogs and cats that were their ancestors’ companions on another world—while all the same having alien features.

The prixxir Randall befriends, Ikaros, is little more than a pup in Hunter of the Tide, but he demonstrates some of the best qualities a pet can have—loyalty, empathy, cunning, protectiveness, and affection. Ikaros is the first pet we’ve written in any of our stories (which is surprising to realize, now that we look back), but he was great fun to create and bring to life in the story. Though Hunter is about Randall and his relationship with Rhea, Ikaros provides the story’s heart and soul in true Pets in Space fashion, and we hope everyone enjoys reading about him as much as we enjoyed writing about him.

Hunter of the Tide Teaser

“He is eating so well,” Melaina said, twisting to grin at Rhea and Randall. Her attention immediately swung back to the prixxir. She offered another bite of fish, and the creature devoured the morsel, long tail waving eagerly.

“That’s good. It’ll help him heal faster,” Randall said.

Rhea watched her daughter pet the creature. Melaina’s face was aglow with delight, and her eyes sparkled with adoration. Rhea’s chest tightened; the youngling’s wanderlust had caused trouble over the last year, but seeing Melaina so happy filled Rhea’s hearts near to bursting.

And it was because of Randall. He’d made it possible by agreeing to care for the prixxir.

Ikaros chirruped, cocking its head and tilting it back when Melaina dangled a bit of fish higher up. The prixxir followed the moving food with large eyes, and the instant the meat came within its reach, it darted up to snatch the food out of Melaina’s fingers. She giggled.

“Once he’s fully grown, you won’t be able to hold food out of his reach anymore,” Randall said. “Not until you grow up, yourself.”

“When I’m as tall as you?” Melaina asked.

Randall glanced at Rhea, sweeping his gaze over her from tentacles to head, before looking back at Melaina. “You’ll probably be taller than me when you’re done.”

“Are you done growing? You don’t seem so tall for a male.”

Rhea smirked.

“Yeah, I’m all done growing. Maybe I’m not as big as Dracchus—”

“No one is as big as Dracchus,” Melaina interrupted.

Randall smiled. “But I make up for it by being the hairiest one in this whole place.”

Melaina laughed, pointing at Randall’s chest. “You are!”

“Everyone has to have something they’re good at.”

“Being the hairiest cannot be all you are good at,” Rhea said.

“I might have a few other talents,” he replied, eyes roving over Rhea’s body again. Her brows rose, and her lips curved into a smile. “But I usually let other people judge that for themselves.”

Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Bio: Tiffany Roberts, a husband and wife writing duo, are now actively living their dream creating happily-ever-afters one monster or alien at a time.

The pets are back in this new, exciting collection of eleven original stories from today’s hottest Science Fiction Romance authors! Feel the action and passion! https://www.petsinspaceantho.com

Release Day: Embrace the Passion and Mission: Her Rescue

I am SO excited. Today is release day for not one, but two new books!

To celebrate I have a Release Day Giveaway with FOUR different prize packs up for grabs. Scroll down to the bottom to enter.

Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 Anthology

The pets are back in this new, exciting collection of eleven original stories from today’s hottest Science Fiction Romance authors! My story is the Galactic Gladiators novella, Desert Hunter.

Mersi Kassar is a woman of the desert. Born, raised, and sold into servitude on the desert world of Carthago, she’s finally found her freedom and her place on the Corsair Caravan. She’s the right hand to the caravan master, and works leading travelers from the gladiator city of Kor Magna through the desert. She also works side by side with her friend—the big, silent Bren—a man she’s desperately in love with. But stubborn Bren shuts down her every attempt to deepen the feelings they have for each other and Mersi isn’t sure she can take the pain anymore.

Desert hunter Bren Hahn has secrets. Life taught him early to never share the terrifying darkness he hides within. He will protect the few people he cares about with everything he has, that includes the smart, lively woman he cares about most of all. A woman who sparks a simmering passion he finds harder and harder to ignore. But Bren knows the one thing he can’t live with is Mersi looking at him in horror. So even if it kills him, he vows to guard her from the most dangerous thing in the desert—himself.

On a perilous journey in the heart of the desert Mersi and Bren rescue a strange alien creature. Working together to heal the big, shaggy canine, their smoldering desire ignites, but their feelings turn out to be the least of their concerns. A deadly enemy is hunting their new pet. An enemy that threatens Bren’s darkest secret and all they hold dear. Will Mersi still feel the same for Bren if he has to unleash the darkness inside of him or will he lose the one woman who holds the key to his heart?

More Info on Galactic Gladiators

Mission: Her Rescue (Team 52 #2)

The next high-octane installment of Team 52 is here! They are a covert, black ops team known only as Team 52. Their mission: to secure and safeguard artifacts deemed highly dangerous and classified…and protect the women who capture their hearts.

When archeologist January’s plane is shot down over the Guatemalan jungle, she knows she’s being hunted for the invaluable Mayan artifacts she’s carrying. Only one man and his team can save her…the covert, black ops Team 52, and the distrusting former CIA operative who drives her crazy…

Dr. January James has a motto: live life to the fullest. A terrible incident in her past, where she lost both her mother and her innocence, taught her that. Now she spends her days on archeological digs doing the work she loves. When her team uncovers a pair of dangerous artifacts in an overgrown temple, she knows they need to be secured and safeguarded. But someone else knows about the artifacts…and will kill to get them.

Working for the CIA, Seth Lynch learned the hard way that people lie and will always stab you in the back. He has the scars to prove it. He lives for his work with Team 52—ensuring pieces of powerful ancient technology don’t fall into the wrong hands. When he learns that the feisty, independent archeologist who works his last nerve has died in a plane crash, he makes it his mission to discover who the hell is responsible.

Deep in the jungle, Seth rescues a very-much alive January and it is up to him to keep both her and the artifacts safe. Hunted from every side, their attraction is explosive and fiery, but with January’s life on the line, Seth must fight his own demons in order to rescue the woman he can no longer resist.

Currently exclusive to Amazon for a short period.

Amazon US  Amazon Other

Release Day Giveaway

Two wonderful reasons to celebrate! The Release Day Giveaway includes:
 
– 2 x Team 52 Signed Book Packs (includes a signed copy of Mission: Her Protection AND an Aussie romantic suspense novel I picked up at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference!)
 
– 2 x Galactic Gladiators Pets in Space Swag Pack (includes a tote bag, mug and magnet featuring my alien canine Fiend and a signed Galactic Gladiators paperback
 
 
Enter using the Rafflecopter below (you don’t have to do all the options, just pick the ones you want!). Giveaway ends on Sunday 14th October. FOUR winners will be selected randomly. Open internationally.
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

She Surprised Pauline by Pauline Baird Jones

I have fellow Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology author Pauline stopping by today to talk about a sentient alien raptor (ooh, that sounds so cool!) and her share a snippet from her story.

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I am always surprised when I write a short story or a novel. Characters surprise me and the twists and turns of the plot, as I figure it, often surprises me. Okay, most of the time I am surprised. I’m not a “figure it out ahead of time” writer. Mostly I plunge into the mist and flail around a lot until things start to clear. So picking the character that surprised me the most is not usually that easy.

This time it was a little easier to nominate Lady Yodrirka as my “Most Surprising Character” award.

When I first me the Lady, she was a scary, enigmatic raptor like sentient with a truly scary gaze. Each of her claws were the length of a human hand and her wing span was about four times longer than she was high. And she was tall. Taller than the humans tasked with taking her home.

A harpy eagle showing its claws.

I modeled her on the harpy eagle, which is also scary and enigmatic, by the way, as you can see by the picture. My raptor’s coloring is different, because she is from a planet far, far away. And my raptor talks, well, she can. She does not talk much.

She has secrets and finding out what they were puts Operation Ark and everyone involved in extreme peril. Lots and lots of peril. The perilous kind of peril.

 

Here’s an excerpt from early in Operation Ark:

City had eaten MREs in a foxhole while under fire. That, she decided, was more comfortable than this. Rita was in there pitching. She had provided some soft, elevator music so the lack of dinner conversation wasn’t painfully obvious. Everyone had their game face on—or in the case of the robot, he had his usual face on. On the surface, it was smooth and civilized as long as she didn’t look at the Harparian, at the head of the small table, ripping her dinner to pieces with beak and claw.

The food dispenser had manufactured everyone’s food, based on nutritional needs and personal preference, but it was still unsettling to watch. For City, this was the closest she’d been to the over-sized bird since freeing her from a cage in the hold of a space pirate ship. The tuft of feathers over her eyes acted as a hood to a gaze that was deep and old, like a mysterious pool in a fantasy tale. If emotions stirred in the black and gold depths, City was not equipped to read them, though her gaze did make the hair lift on the back of her neck.

I hope you’re as excited for the release of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 as I am. Here’s the blurb for Operation Ark:

She’s a USMC Sergeant deployed to the Garradian Galaxy.

He was raised by the robots who freed him from slavery.

It’s a match made nowhere anyone can figure out.

They clashed as enemies but joined forces to defeat a common foe. Now they’re tasked with returning some freed prisoners to their home worlds. In the next galaxy. With an alien, a robot, and a caticorn. It was a bar joke without a punch line, though Carolina City has a feeling it is out there—like the truth.

Kraye isn’t eager to return to his galaxy where the dark secret of his past lays in wait, but he’s willing to risk it in hopes that Caro can teach him what the robots couldn’t: how to be human.

Together they must face a dangerous journey, a lethal enemy with a score to settle, their unexpected desire, and an uncertain future if they make it out alive.

Can Caro and Kraye navigate the minefields—both emotional and space based—to land a happy homecoming for the sentient animals in their care? Can the man raised by robots learn how to kiss the girl while the starchy Marine decides if she is willing to bend the rules for a happy ever after? Don’t miss Pauline Baird Jones’ newest Project Enterprise story!

Please join us for the next round of adventures with romance, danger and pets! All of it happening in space!

Anthology Blurb for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Pets in Space is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity.

Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders.

Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 today!

PETS Website 

Amazon US  Amazon Other  B&N  Google Play  iBooks  Kobo

About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling author Pauline Baird Jones never liked reality, so she writes books. She likes to wander among the genres, rampaging like Godzilla, because she does love peril mixed in her romance.

Future Crimes, Punishments, and Pets by Carol Van Natta

Today, I’m welcoming my fellow Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology author Carol over to my blog to talk about her story in the anthology! I really enjoy her Central Galactic Concordance series — space opera with romance for the win!

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My Central Galactic Concordance (CGC) space opera series has a grand, sprawling plot going on about evolutionary change and rebellion. I love all its twists and turns, but sometimes I like to take a break and visit the unexplored places in my CGC universe. Novellas, like CATS OF WAR in the Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology, give me the chance to explore background aspects and explore their implications for the galactic civilization at large.

My previous novella for last year’s Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 anthology, PET TRADE, centered on shady pet trade industry. For CATS OF WAR, the backdrop is the CGC’s Criminal Restitution Indenture and Obligation (CRIO) system.

The CGC has more than 500 member planets. Serious criminals (e.g., murder, rape, genocide, etc.) go to prison, or get mind erasure and menial jobs for life. In extraordinary cases, the CGC executes the criminal on a live simulcast feed throughout the civilized worlds. However, for lesser crimes that involve theft and property destruction, convicts must pay back the monetary damage, or be sent to the CRIO system to work off their obligation.

The CGC government partners with private industry and assigns indenturees to provide the labor. Like any other human-created institution, the CRIO system can be gamed, and there are rumors of hellholes.

One of the better CRIO installations is the setting for CATS OF WAR. The facility itself is in the middle a swamp. It filters rare-earth metals from mountain water runoff, which the government uses for building faster-than-light stardrives. On paper, it’s a win-win. Reality is more complicated.

The hero of CATS OF WAR, Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti, is the military liaison for indenturees who are veterans. He had no more choice in his assignment than did the heroine, indenturee Ferra Barray, who is doing restitution time for property damage.

Ordinarily, they’d have no reason to interact, but they are brought together by the unlikely arrival of two mysterious creatures who need their help—or might be the help that both Kedron and Ferra need when trouble comes to call.

Here’s a little excerpt from CATS OF WAR:

While Kedron wouldn’t miss the Argint d’Apa facility, he would miss the swamp. He’d disliked it at first, the same way most staffers still did, but it had grown on him. He’d spent time studying its ecology and gone with the biodiversity scientists on a few sample-collection expeditions. Living so close to untamed nature made it easier to understand how everything, from the majestic giant trees to annoying clouds of gnats, had a place. Maybe he did, too, even if he couldn’t see it.

He put away his uniform and decided to walk laps on the campus’s wide perimeter walkway, rather than spend another evening alone in the gym. Regulations restricted it to military personnel, and he’d never seen the CPS representative use it.

As much as possible, he kept his interactions with her in virtual space. As a mid-level telepath, she could read thoughts, and as a low-level sifter, she could affect brain chemicals, detect lies, and sense the use of active minder talents. Military personnel caught with minder talents earned an immediate, permanent transfer to the CPS’s Minder Corps.

Kedron’s minder talent wasn’t much, just an ability to use seemingly unrelated information to find things of interest, but he’d rather direct traffic for a city of half a billion or be an indenturee than work for the Minder Corps. Too many private family stories warned of how badly the Minder Corps treated its personnel. He’d learned to hide his talent well enough to beat the CPS Testing Center for mandatory age twelve and seventeen tests, and random ones since, but some sifters were better than the equipment. Fortunately, minder talents in the patterner class were hard for even high-level sifters to detect.

He pulled on pants and a long-sleeved top to ward off biting insects and stepped into one of his few indulgences, custom-tailored, waterproof, adaptive boots. Even with myriad modern transportation options, Ground Div gunnin, from the lowest ranker to High Command commodores, spent a lot of time walking, running, and marching. Good boots made all the difference.

He looked out the north-facing window of his quarters to check the weather and the path. Non-essential indenturees were on lockdown, and half the staff was busy, so he wasn’t surprised to see it deserted. The tall perimeter fence’s horizontal power lines beyond the road-glass pathway glowed faintly as reminders of their presence. The overhead and glass path lights blinked on and off erratically, then stayed off. Twilight and mold sometimes messed with the sensors.

Shadowed movement caught his eye. Someone carrying a shallow, rectangular crate stepped off the path toward the exterior powered fence. The figure knelt right in front of the fence and set the crate down. After furtive looks left and right, the figure slid something under the fence.

 Read more in CATS OF WAR, one of eleven new, original stories in Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

10% of the first month’s profits goes to Hero-Dogs.org

Story blurb for CATS OF WAR:

A repair technician must convince a disgraced military sub-captain to help her save two special cats before trouble engulfs them all.

Military Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring in his previous assignment. He’s more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he’s told her, because technically, he’s her warden.

Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She’s lucked into a tech repair job, and If she keeps her head down, she’ll be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local boss behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she’s running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.

Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn’t know what she’ll do if she can’t convince Tauceti to take them with him and keep them until she’s free to come for them.

When trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them. Find out what happens in this exciting stand-alone novella from Carol Van Natta’s award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.



Anthology Blurb for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Pets in Space is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity.

Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders.

Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 today!

PETS Website 

Amazon US  Amazon Other  B&N  Google Play  iBooks  Kobo

About the Author:

USA TODAY bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Carol Van Natta shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, all of whom would love to travel to the stars.

 

Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Pets in Space is back!

I am so happy to be joining the amazing group of authors who are contributing stories to the Pets in Space 3 anthology. It was no hardship for me to find an alien beastie and some romance in my Galactic Gladiators series!

My story is called Desert Hunter and stars Mersi and Bren from the Corsair Desert Caravan! As always, expect action and adventure on the desert planet of Carthago, the long-simmering romance of one competent woman and her hard-headed best friend, a strange creature they find in the dunes, some hidden secrets, and cameos from some favorite gladiators.

Mersi Kassar is a woman of the desert. Born, raised, and sold into servitude on the desert world of Carthago, she’s finally found her freedom and her place on the Corsair Caravan. She’s the right hand to the caravan master, and works leading travelers from the gladiator city of Kor Magna through the desert. She also works side by side with her friend—the big, silent Bren—a man she’s desperately in love with. But stubborn Bren shuts down her every attempt to deepen the feelings they have for each other and Mersi isn’t sure she can take the pain anymore.

Desert hunter Bren Hahn has secrets. Life taught him early to never share the terrifying darkness he hides within. He will protect the few people he cares about with everything he has, that includes the smart, lively woman he cares about most of all. A woman who sparks a simmering passion he finds harder and harder to ignore. But Bren knows the one thing he can’t live with is Mersi looking at him in horror. So even if it kills him, he vows to guard her from the most dangerous thing in the desert—himself.

On a perilous journey in the heart of the desert Mersi and Bren rescue a strange alien creature. Working together to heal the big, shaggy canine, their smoldering desire ignites, but their feelings turn out to be the least of their concerns. A deadly enemy is hunting their new pet. An enemy that threatens Bren’s darkest secret and all they hold dear. Will Mersi still feel the same for Bren if he has to unleash the darkness inside of him or will he lose the one woman who holds the key to his heart?

Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3

Release Day: October 9th, 2018

Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of HeroDogs.org, Pets in Space authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 today!

The pets are back in this new, exciting collection of eleven original stories from today’s hottest Science Fiction Romance authors! Feel the action and passion!

Preorder your copy today:

Amazon US  Amazon Other  B&N  Google Play  iBooks  Kobo

Want more information about what’s inside?

HEART OF THE CAT

Sarafin Warriors Series

By S.E. Smith

Can love bridge the gap between a wounded alien warrior and the reclusive human woman who holds the future of his species inside her?

DESERT HUNTER

Galactic Gladiators Series

By Anna Hackett

Among the desert sands of an alien world, a man with secrets to hide finds himself face to face with the one woman who can bring him to his knees.

QUASHI

Mandrake Company Series

By Ruby Lionsdrake

Alien fur balls, a handsome doctor, and a little white lie create havoc for a young woman who only wanted a job.

STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER

The Sectors SF Romance Series

By Veronica Scott

A long-lost princess and her three-eyed cat seek refuge on the Nebula Zephyr only to catch the attention of an inquisitive Security Officer.

OPERATION ARK

Project Enterprise Series

By Pauline Baird Jones

A not quite routine mission to return rescued prisoners to their home worlds turns deadly for unlikely allies, a USMC Sergeant and a raised-by-robots pirate. Is the Sergeant’s unusual pet the wild card that will save or doom them?

CATS OF WAR

A Central Galactic Concordance Novella

by Carol Van Natta

A disgraced military Sub-Captain, a repair technician with secrets, and two special cats must save the day when trouble erupts at an important factory.

HUNTER OF THE TIDE

The Kraken #3

By Tiffany Roberts

Nearly broke by betrayal, a human discovers solace—and a chance for love—among the creatures he once hunted, but he must overcome prejudice and inhibition to claim the female he desires.

STARWAY

By Alexis Glynn Latner

A lonely interstellar pilot and a passenger’s mistreated consort find each other in an interstellar hotel that offers everything to satisfy its guests’ desires—even desires they didn’t know they had.

THE BAJO CATS OF ANTEROS XII

By E D Walker

Two ex-lovers, stranded in space, have to save a pair of kittens with hazardous powers before the local drug cartel catches up to them.

SHADOW OF THE PAST

By JC Hay

On a world of perpetual night, an aging ranger and a widowed veterinarian need to put aside their past to protect a pack of wolves… and their future.

AFTER THE FALL

By Kyndra Hatch

The Invaders took everything worth living for. Could an Invader show him how to live again?

HEART OF THE CAT

By S.E. Smith

Series: Sarafin Warriors Book 3

Prince Walkyr d’Rojah’s mission is to find an ancient artifact known as the Heart of the Cat, a revered gem that holds the mystical power that connects his people with their cat-form. He isn’t the only one searching for the Heart. A secret sect determined to overthrow the royal families wants the power contained in the gem, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain it.

Trescina Bukov’s affinity and ability to care for large cats has taken her all over the world. A frantic call from a rescue group compels her to fly to Wyoming in the western part of the United States. She is confused and wary when she discovers the injured leopard is more than he seems.

Walkyr is shocked when the human female caring for him connects with his leopard and recognizes who he is. Now, he has to contend with the assassins who followed him, his leopard who wants to claim the woman, and find out why all the clues in his search for the Heart of the Cat are pointing to a planet so far from home.

When Walkyr discovers the secret that Trescina has been hiding, he is forced to make a difficult decision: let her go, or kidnap her and return with her to his world. Can Walkyr convince Trescina that their lives are bound in more ways than one or will she flee, taking her secret and the future of the Sarafin species with her?

DESERT HUNTER

By Anna Hackett

Series: Galactic Gladiators

Mersi Kassar is a woman of the desert. Born, raised, and sold into servitude on the desert world of Carthago, she’s finally found her freedom and her place on the Corsair Caravan. She’s the right hand to the caravan master, and works leading travelers from the gladiator city of Kor Magna through the desert. She also works side by side with her friend—the big, silent Bren—a man she’s desperately in love with. But stubborn Bren shuts down her every attempt to deepen the feelings they have for each other and Mersi isn’t sure she can take the pain anymore.

Desert hunter Bren Hahn has secrets. Life taught him early to never share the terrifying darkness he hides within. He will protect the few people he cares about with everything he has, that includes the smart, lively woman he cares about most of all. A woman who sparks a simmering passion he finds harder and harder to ignore. But Bren knows the one thing he can’t live with is Mersi looking at him in horror. So even if it kills him, he vows to guard her from the most dangerous thing in the desert—himself.

On a perilous journey in the heart of the desert Mersi and Bren rescue a strange alien creature. Working together to heal the big, shaggy canine, their smoldering desire ignites, but their feelings turn out to be the least of their concerns. A deadly enemy is hunting their new pet. An enemy that threatens Bren’s darkest secret and all they hold dear. Will Mersi still feel the same for Bren if he has to unleash the darkness inside of him or will he lose the one woman who holds the key to his heart?

QUASHI

By Ruby Lionsdrake

Series: The Mandrake Company

“If she’d had a hand free, she would have scratched her head. Lab rats didn’t trill, did they?”

When Chanda decided to finagle her way into a job she wasn’t qualified for, she didn’t expect to end up on a ship full of hulking mercenaries. They’re rude, crude, and so covered with scars and tattoos that she can’t imagine any woman being interested in them. Except perhaps for the soft-spoken doctor with the haunted eyes.

She would love to know more about him, especially since he stares at the game logo on her T-shirt rather than her breasts, but a little problem comes aboard the ship at the same time she does. Quashi. Furry alien fluff balls with stubby legs and very expressive antennae. Are they harmless – or a danger to the ship? And why were they in a box labeled lab rats?

When some of the creatures go missing and systems start malfunctioning, Chanda is assigned the task of quashi wrangler. Though she’s worried she isn’t qualified, the intriguing doctor is also sent to help, and she’s determined not to fail in front of him. Maybe this is her chance to find out what network games he plays and why his past troubles him. But as the lights flicker and the ship’s life support systems are threatened, Chanda realizes there might not be time for romance. If they can’t round up the missing quashi before it’s too late, she may never see home again.

STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER

By Veronica Scott

Series: The Sectors SF Romance Series

Tassia Megg is a woman on the run after the death of her elderly guardian. Her search to get off the planet in a hurry comes when chance directs her to an open dance audition for the luxury cruise liner Nebula Zephyr’s resident troupe. If there is one thing Tassia can do, it is dance!

Security Officer Liam Austin is suspicious of the newest performer to join the Comettes. She shows all the signs of being a woman on the run and seems to fit the Sectors-wide broadcast description of a missing thief, accused of stealing priceless artifacts. As he gets to know Tassia during the cruise, he starts to wonder if she’s something more – a long vanished princess in hiding from deadly political enemies of her family perhaps? And what’s the story with the three-eyed feline companion other crew members swear Tassia brought aboard the ship? Does the animal even exist?

As the ship approaches its next port of call, all the issues come to a boil and Liam must decide if he’ll step in to help Tassia or betray her. Life is about to get very interesting aboard the Nebula Zephyr as Liam tries to uncover the truth. Could F’rrh, the peculiar alien cat he has been hearing about, be the key to the mystery and Tassia’s fate?

OPERATION ARK

By Pauline Baird Jones

Series: Project Enterprise

She’s a USMC Sergeant deployed to the Garradian Galaxy.

He was raised by the robots who freed him from slavery.

It’s a match made nowhere anyone can figure out.

They clashed as enemies but joined forces to defeat a common foe. Now they’re tasked with returning some freed prisoners to their home worlds. In the next galaxy. With an alien, a robot, and a caticorn. It was a bar joke without a punch line, though Carolina City has a feeling it is out there—like the truth.

Kraye isn’t eager to return to his galaxy where the dark secret of his past lays in wait, but he’s willing to risk it in hopes that Caro can teach him what the robots couldn’t: how to be human.

Together they must face a dangerous journey, a lethal enemy with a score to settle, their unexpected desire, and an uncertain future if they make it out alive.

Can Caro and Kraye navigate the minefields—both emotional and space based—to land a happy homecoming for the sentient animals in their care? Can the man raised by robots learn how to kiss the girl while the starchy Marine decides if she is willing to bend the rules for a happy ever after? Don’t miss Pauline Baird Jones’ newest Project Enterprise story!

CATS OF WAR

by Carol Van Natta

Series: A Central Galactic Concordance Novella

Military Sub-Captain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring in his previous assignment. He’s more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he’s told her, because technically, he’s her warden.

Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She’s lucked into a tech repair job, and If she keeps her head down, she’ll be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local boss behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she’s running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.

Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn’t know what she’ll do if she can’t convince Tauceti to take them with him and keep them until she’s free to come for them.

When trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them. Find out what happens in this exciting stand-alone novella from Carol Van Natta’s award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.

HUNTER OF THE TIDE

By Tiffany Roberts

Series: The Kraken #3

HIS SOLICE AND HIS HOPE

Randall Laster crossed Halora to hunt the kraken, sea monsters that weren’t supposed to be real. Betrayed by men he trusted, he was left to die. Instead, he finds himself living with the beings once meant to be his prey. Randall struggles to find his place amongst the kraken and to find a purpose to the new course his life has taken. Hope comes in two unexpected forms: an injured, amphibious sea creature in need of care, and Rhea, a strong-willed kraken who’s made no secret of her interest in him. Can he reconcile the tensions between humans and kraken and look beyond their differences so that he can claim Rhea as his own, or will old prejudices and hostilities tear them apart forever?

STARWAY

By Alexis Glynn Latner

Starway is an interstellar hotel that offers guests something to satisfy almost any wish—even wishes they didn’t know they had.

Nikka Steel is a lonely interstellar pilot. Danyel Parry is a wealthy passenger’s mistreated consort. When they find each other in Starway, they discover how much they have in common, including remorseless enemies and resourceful friends—one of which has four paws—and mutual attraction as perilous as it is powerful.

Danyel and Nikka soon realize that they have a hopeful new destination. The interstellar crossroads at Starway can take travelers to many places, some of which are strange and secret. To get there, though, they will have to find their way through anger, danger and—

even more frightening—change.

THE BAJO CATS OF ANTEROS XII

By E D Walker

Zandro alienated the love of his life years ago with one giant mistake. Consumed by his animal rescue work, he didn’t realize what he had given up until she was gone. Now, his work to save two alien kittens with dangerous pheromones will reunite him with his old flame – and hopefully give him a second chance.

Aliette’s work as a space captain keeps her mind off of what she lost – Zandro – or it did until she receives his desperate plea for help. She reluctantly agrees to assist him for old time’s sake. But the simple transport mission quickly escalates into a fight for survival. The local drug cartel has discovered the unusual kittens and will do anything to obtain them.

With dangerous events and concern for the vulnerable kittens drawing them close again, Aliette will have to decide if being with Zandro is worth sacrificing everything for – even her life.

SHADOW OF THE PAST

By JC Hay

Loss casts a shadow you can’t outrun…

Commander Rafe Penzak is tired of jockeying a desk. With only months left before his forced retirement from the rangers, he decides to bend a few rules for one last mission: follow up on intelligence that vicious criminals have found the ranch that supplies the rangers’ umbra wolves. He’s ready to confront the reminder of his wolf’s death, but nothing in the Three Systems could prepare him for the spitfire who runs the farm.

Veterinarian Nafisi Sultana has run her wolf breeding program her way since the death of her husband. The last thing she wants is another ranger taking up space, correcting her methods, or being underfoot. But she can’t miss the pain and sorrow that haunts the greying commander, and her need to heal others pulls her into his orbit despite the agonizing memories he wakes in her.

With storms, raiders, and a renegade wolf pup driving them together, Nafisi and Rafe have to set aside their damaged past, or they’ll never be able to save something they both want more—a future.

AFTER THE FALL

By Kyndra Hatch

A’ryk Chiste of Korth marooned himself on an uninhabited world for a reason. He doesn’t want to be reminded of a galaxy where his people lost the war, taken over by the merciless Invaders who changed his life forever. A galaxy where he failed at the one thing he was born for, to protect worlds. He wants no part of the shaky forced ‘peace.’ So when an Invader crashes onto his planet, the simple solution is to let her die. But his furry companions have other ideas.

Lyra Merrick is a surveyor for the Earth Council of Habitable Worlds. She searches for and reports planets that can be terraformed for human survival, comfort and stability. It is business as usual when she finds another planet in a little-known section of the galaxy. A routine mission turns into a fight for survival when her ship has a malfunction and she crashes to the icy, unrelenting world. When she comes to, she hears a voice in her head. Confused, she wonders if the lonely existence of a surveyor finally made her crazy. Not only is she hearing things, her eyes are deceiving her too, because she’s in the domicile of the sexiest man she’s ever seen.

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