Series: Wolf Clan Shifters , Book 1.0
Dream Shadow Press
Release Date: 3/29/16
It’s 1936. Thirty-year-old Alice has given up on finding a husband. Between civil engineering and mountain climbing, her interests are so masculine, she scares men away. A poor route choice strands her—lost, hungry, and scared—next to Lon Chaney’s cabin deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Jed senses a woman stumbling down the steep, inhospitable mountain behind his borrowed cabin. Her scent tantalizes and excites him. Mates are scarce these days, and if his nose is right, she’s his fated one. His and his two pack mates, that is, who are mercifully gone at the moment. Jed crafts a careful strategy, knowing the mate bond might not be enough to convince her to stay once she finds out it will link her to all three of them—forever.
Alice adds Jed to her list of problems when he melts out of the shadowed darkness. At first she declines his offer of help, but he keeps talking until she ends up inside the cozy log cabin in front of a roaring fire. His skilled hands and a shot of whiskey heat her blood to molten, and her carefully tended world explodes into desperate hunger to make love with the man rubbing her weary feet.
As caught up in lust as Alice, Jed takes a chance. A big one. Will mating with her before disclosing everything turn out to be a huge mistake?
I’m basically a mountaineer at heart. I remember many hours at my desk where my body may have been stuck inside four walls, but my soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry.
Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), I finagled a move to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. Stories always ran around in my head on backcountry trips, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made me fear for my life, sometimes for company.
Eventually, the inevitable happened. I returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. It wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. I learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel, and I’ve been writing ever since.
In addition to turning out books, I enjoy wilderness photography. A standing joke is that over ten percent of my pack weight is camera gear, which means my very tolerant husband has to carry the food — and everything else too.
(c) Ann Gimpel
…Her breath whistled loud in her ears. Brent had told her to hightail it for the car, but she had a feeling something bad had happened to him. No matter how she felt about him running off, it wasn’t right to just leave him. It had been dark for hours, and she wondered how late it was. Even if she stumbled the few miles to her car waiting next to Glacier Lodge, she was too tired to drive anywhere. The lodge wasn’t any help. It wouldn’t open for the season for another couple of months. There might be a phone inside, but she’d have to break in.
Alice considered her options. If she made the lodge, she’d crawl into her car and fall on her face from exhaustion. It would easily be mid-morning before she got back up here to even begin searching for Brent. Survival in the mountains often hung by a thread. She was the only one who knew where he was.
He may have abandoned her, but she couldn’t do the same and desert him. Not and live with herself afterward.
Alice moved toward where she thought the trail was, intent on setting up a fireless camp to wait out the night. She had enough food and a full water bottle. No tent or sleeping bag, but she’d survived worse conditions. A fire would’ve been welcome, but she couldn’t risk—
“Hey there. You. Show yourself, man,” a deep voice called from behind her. Light flared, illuminating the forest. Footsteps crunched over rocks and twigs as the person approached.
Alice stiffened. People looked at her build and assumed she was male. It had happened to her before—and more than once. She considered running, but burdened with her heavy boots, climbing hardware, and the moonless night, she didn’t want to chance a headlong flight. Besides, the man might have a gun.
“Why should I?” She spun to face him, ready for almost anything.
“What? You’re a woman?”
Alice grasped her ice axe in both hands. “Leave me alone,” she grunted through clenched teeth. “I’m tired and my friend is…lost.”
“Whoa.” The man held up both hands, one of which gripped a flashlight. “Put your axe down, sweetheart. I’m not going to hurt you.” He was tall, maybe six-feet-four, with straight, red-blonde hair. Despite his height, he had a slender build. A well-defined jaw and sharp cheekbones suggested Nordic blood. It was tough to tell in the reflected light, but his eyes looked blue.
“Go back inside. You can see I’m not any kind of threat. I’d head down, but I need to be moving at first light to hunt for my friend.”
The man cocked his head to one side. “Big guy with red hair?”
Terror gripped her. Her throat narrowed. Breathing became a struggle. Since she couldn’t manage words, she nodded and steeled herself to hear the words, he’s dead. Alice bit her lower lip and gazed mutely at the stranger.
“Look, I think he’ll be okay. We were out hunting and heard something big falling. Thought it was the deer we’d shot at. Turned out to be your friend—”
“Awk! You shot Brent!”
The man waved his hands in front of him. “Calm down, woman. Christ, you’re strung tighter than a fiddle. Take a couple of deep breaths. No, we didn’t shoot him. Your friend was unconscious because he hit his head on a rock, so we carried him back here. My two buddies took the horses and hauled him down to the lodge. We only had three horses which is why I’m still here. Anyway, they were planning to drive him to the hospital in Bishop. I don’t expect they’ll be back much before the middle of tomorrow.”
At least that explains why there’re no horses here.
Alice shook her head, digesting the information. “I need to get moving, then. I can drive to the hospital and meet them.”
The man held out a hand. “I’m Jed. Jed Starnes. You look beat. There’re mountain cats on the prowl. Shot one a few hours ago. They get worse at night. More aggressive. You got a gun?”
She shook her head and ignored his outstretched hand. He looked chagrined and dropped it to his side. “Well, then, handshake or no, you need to come with me. Got a nice warm fire going inside. You look wet clear through. Nothing you can do tonight, anyway. Get a few shots of Irish whiskey in you, a little soup, and some sleep. Come morning, you can go after your friend.”
It sounded good. Too good. She kept her ice axe poised. “How’d you get access to Lon Chaney’s cabin?”
Jed threw back his head and laughed. “That’s easy. Ever since Chaney senior died in nineteen-thirty, his son’s been letting some of us who work with him have the keys. All we have to do is ask. Damn shame the old man died right after he got this place built. It’s a beauty. You really should take a look inside.”
She blew out a breath. “What is it you do?”
“I’m a production manager for Paramount.”
“I thought they were in receivership.”
He laughed again. “We are. But we’re still making movies.”
Something about Jed put her at ease. Or maybe she was just too weary to think straight. She slowly dropped her hands. Tethered to her wrist, the ice axe dangled, not quite hitting the ground.
“That’s better, sweetheart,” he crooned. “Follow me. I promise I don’t bite.”
She trailed after him and climbed the broad steps leading to the cabin’s heavy wooden door. He unlatched it, took the lantern from its hook, and motioned her through ahead of him. Alice scanned the large room. One end was an enormous stone fireplace. The other held a kitchen of sorts with a pump mounted next to a sink. A curtained alcove probably contained a bedroom. The lower walls were the same large, flat fieldstones mortared together she’d seen on the outside. The upper walls were wooden planks. Alice sighed. It was warm. Truly warm. She didn’t realize how chilled she was. Her face stung from the sudden temperature shift.
She took off her headlamp and set it on a table. Next she unbuckled her waist belt and dropped her pack in a corner, followed by her axe. The click of a deadbolt falling into its metal hole snapped her to attention. She made a grab for her axe, but Jed beat her to it. “Don’t know about you,” he said, hefting the axe over a shoulder, “but I’m not fond of weapons inside.”
She’d been right about his eyes. They were a rich midnight blue. Something about them made her tingle deep inside. Alice pushed the thought away. She was still a virgin at nearly thirty, and likely to stay that way at the rate things were going in her life. Almost as if they’d been listening in on her thoughts, her nipples pebbled into points of awareness.
What am I doing?
She shook herself back to reality. A stranger she’d just met had locked her into this cabin and taken her only means of defense. Trepidation trumped lust. “Why’d you lock us in?” Because she tried hard, her voice only shook a little.
He flashed the key in front of her and dropped it into his pants pocket. “Never know who might wander by. I wanted to make certain we’re safe is all.” He made a huffing sound. “Most women appreciate that sort of thing.”
“No one would come up this trail in the middle of the night.”
“Hey, I’m sort of a city boy. We believe in locking the bad guys out.” He shrugged. “If you want to hang your jacket, there’re hooks by the fire. It looks pretty wet to me.”
Alice crossed her arms over her chest and stared at Jed. He stared back. Tension sizzled in the air between them. She held out a hand. “My axe.” She gestured to guns on racks along the walls. “Looks as if there are plenty of weapons in here. Besides, my ice axe isn’t a weapon, it’s a climbing aid.”
“Let’s just say I’m not enamored of watching my back. Look—” he balanced her ice axe against a wall, stepped away from it, and spread his hands in front of him “—you’re apprehensive because you don’t know me. How about if I’m feeling the same way?”
She sidled past him and tucked her axe behind her pack where it had been before. “I have no idea how I’m feeling,” she muttered, “other than tired.”
Jed moved past her to the sink and pumped water into a glass. Crossing the cabin, he handed it to her. “Drink this,” he suggested. “Once you’re done, let me hang your jacket near the fire where it can dry a little. It’s so wet, steam’s rising from it.”…
(c) Ann Gimpel – Exclusive Mary’s Menages Reviews
…“I have a lot to learn. I’m hoping the three of you will teach me. I’m sorry I was such a highhanded witch when we first met.”
A corner of Bron’s mouth turned up, forming a boyish grin. “No apologies needed.” Color stained his tanned cheeks, turning them a deeper copper. “I’m hoping you’ll come to see Terin and me in a more, um, acceptable light. You’re Jed’s chosen one. We’ll love and care for you too, if you’ll let us.”
Alice nodded. “I think I’m beginning to understand. It’s not what I thought at first. We’re like a wolf pack—”
“And why wouldn’t we be?” Jed’s half-laughing voice came from the open cabin door. “It’s what we are: wolves.”
“I wish I could be one.” Alice clapped a hand over her mouth. Her face warmed. “Where the hell did that come from?”
“From the place deep inside you where the mate bond is anchored,” Bron answered.
Jed stepped onto the porch. “Terin’s still asleep. I don’t want to wake him.” He covered the small space to Alice and drew her out of the chair and into his arms. She turned her face up and he kissed her.
She wound her arms around his body and opened her mouth under his. The spicy, exotic scent that was his and his alone filled her nostrils. Sexual heat roared through her, setting her nerves ablaze. Her nipples hardened where they pushed against his chest. Her pussy turned to molten liquid. Jed’s erection pressed against her stomach. Alice thrust against it. She couldn’t wait to feel him inside her body again.
Alice jerked away from Jed’s body. She’d been so lost in lust, she’d forgotten the other shifter. He stared at the two of them, naked hunger burning in the depths of his eyes. The front of his trousers belled out from his erection. Suddenly shy, Alice wanted him too. She turned to Jed.
His lips curved in a knowing smile. “He’d like to join us, but it’s up to you, Alice.”
“Yes.” Bron licked his lips. “It’s up to you. I can go out back and take care of myself.”
Confusion mingled with lust. Now that she knew him a little, she liked Bron, respected him. He’d saved Jed’s life, risking his own in the process. He and Terin had sprung into action to save her from the mountain cat.
“You’ll have to teach me.” She looked from one to the other. “But God help me if I don’t want both of you.”
Jed’s face split into a merry grin. “Come on. We’ll lay some blankets out behind the cabin.”
He gripped one of her hands. Bron took the other. Their bodies jockeyed against one another as all three of them tried to fit down the steps. Alice giggled, but quietly. She didn’t want to disturb Terin.
Past the stair gauntlet, Bron tapped Jed’s arm. “How about if you do the blankets? I haven’t so much as kissed Alice yet.”
Jed’s blue eyes glittered mischievously. “Sure. See you two momentarily.”
Bron closed his arms around her from behind. He strung kisses down her neck and pressed his erection into her butt. His breath burned where it trailed down her bare skin. Alice twisted in his arms. He held her against him so hard she felt his heartbeat where her face pressed into the hollow of his shoulder.
“I won’t last long,” he murmured. “Haven’t been inside a woman for a long time.”
She snorted. “Up until this morning, I was a virgin. I’m so inexperienced, I won’t even notice.” She slipped a hand between them and curved it around his erection. He groaned and thrust against her. “Come on.” She grinned at him. “I feel like a kid who just discovered the very best candy store in the world. I want to see what this—” she squeezed his cock “—looks like for more than those few seconds when you jumped out of the creek.”…
Series: Wolf Clan Shifters, Books 2 & 3
April 18, 2016 & May 02, 2016
Mary’s note: this series was originally published in 2013 under another publisher and covers.