Friday, March 24, 2017

Tale As Old As Time: Foxfire by Yuki Edo

Welcome to my blog! This month, I'm showcasing lots of retellings of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales. Today's offering takes the premise of "Beauty and the Beast" in another direction, but there is still a mysterious beast, a magic mirror, an enchanted mansion, and a curious captive. Read on to find out more about Foxfire by Yuki Edo.



Hiro didn’t think anything could amaze him more than his brother’s revelation that their family’s prosperity comes from the favor of the kami Inari. Yet Hiro soon learns that Inari’s kitsune, fox spirits who act as messengers, watch over his family in exchange for yearly tribute—and this year, Hiro has been requested as an offering by one of the mysterious fox spirits. Hiro’s brother takes him to a strange mansion one night, and Hiro is left at the mercy of Masaki Kitamura, who has yet to reveal what he has planned for his young visitor…


Excerpt:

Masaki gazed into the mirror and watched Hiro talking with his brother.
“Why on earth would he want such a thing?”
Masaki wished he could pass through the mirror and answer Hiro’s question himself. Akira presented the situation as a purely professional relationship, but Masaki had told Akira the truth. He’d come to trust the current head of the family, and Masaki could see he’d been right to do so. Akira had been surprised to hear Masaki confess his feelings for Hiro, but he had also been pleased. Akira believed Hiro was “closeted” and in denial about his desire for the company of other men. Very delicately, Akira had told Masaki about some sketches he’d found once. Masaki knew all about them. He’d even watched Hiro draw many of them, watched the young man touch himself afterwards.
Masaki refocused away from those thoughts. He wasn’t ashamed of his voyeurism—he spied on humans all the time for Inari—but he wanted to see how Hiro would take these revelations. Akira and Hiro continued to talk. Hiro didn’t become angry, but he refused to believe any of the supernatural parts of the story Akira presented to him. Akira showed patience, and before long Hiro said he would consent to the business arrangement with no hesitation if Akira would tell him the truth. Akira sighed, but he didn’t back down. Hiro gazed at the floor a long time, and more than anything, Masaki wanted to touch him, to push his hair away from his face and caress his cheek.
“Fine. I’ll do it, but only for a month or so. My lease is up in a few days. We’ll go then, but I’ll need time to look for a new place. What kind of hours will I have to work? I have a couple of projects to tie up before I begin anything new.”
Masaki’s heart pounded so loudly he didn’t hear what Akira said in reply. Hiro was coming. It didn’t matter that the young man didn’t believe yet. He would soon enough.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tale As Old As Time: Bargain with the Beast by April Andrews

Welcome to my blog! This month, I'm showcasing lots of retellings of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales. Today we have a dark, contemporary retelling, Bargain with the Beast by April Andrews.


When Tobias Thorn sees a hooded figure abducting a young girl, he doesn’t think twice before racing to the girl’s rescue. Only he isn’t quite quick enough...because the next thing Tobias knows he’s waking up in a cavernous room, his hands and wrists bound to an equally cavernous bed, with his chances of escape looking pretty damn slim.

But Tobias is not a man to take things lying down. He’s going to find his way back home no matter what it takes! But then he meets his abductor and realizes things aren’t quite that simple. Tobias has entered a world unlike anything he has ever known before. If he wants his freedom, there is only one way he is going to get it, by making a bargain with the Beast...


Excerpt:
“You’ve abducted me,” Tobias said, his tongue suddenly feeling too big for his mouth. “Chained me to the bed. You’re not letting me leave. Why on Earth would I be attracted to you?”

The Beast smiled, and as he did so Tobias couldn’t help but notice the way his yellow eyes seemed to glow. “Because you’re responding to my desires,” he said. “The fact that I want you? You feel it and you’re responding to it.”

His words were so close to what Tobias had thought as they walked the tunnels of this underground town that he shivered. If he didn’t know better, he’d start to think the Beast was a mind reader or something. From the beginning—and it was just a few hours ago—it was like this man knew exactly how Tobias was going to act, how he was going to respond, even what he was going to say. It was too much. Too intense on top of everything that had already happened. Tobias held up his hands. “Stop,” he said. “Just stop.”

The Beast sighed, and then to Tobias’ absolute horror, and intense, unwelcome delight, he took the edges of his tee-shirt…and in one smooth move he pulled it over his head.

Tobias could do nothing but gape at him. Shock fizzling through every cell of his being. The Beast was muscled in all the right places, worse, he was dusted in a light sprinkling of tawny hair, and Tobias had always been a sucker for hairy men. The urge to step forward, to run his hands over those muscles, made Tobias gasp again. He could imagine catching his fingers in the curls…tugging on them…

He swallowed hard. His hands itched, his heart raced, and his cock thickened in an instant. The reaction was so swift, so visceral, that Tobias didn’t know what to think of it. He could only take a deep shuddery breath.

“There is no stopping,” the Beast said, his eyes fixed hard on Tobias. “Not now. Not after you ran. Perhaps if you had done as I asked I would have been able to control myself for longer.” He shrugged. “But you’ve awoken it now, Tobias. I can’t stop it.”

“I—”

“Feel it, Tobias,” the Beast added. “It is pulsing between us. There is only one way to sate it.”

“It?” Tobias asked. “It?”

The Beast smiled. “Desire,” he said. “It’s been there from the very beginning. It has always been just a matter of time until I had you.”

He is not for you…

Those words spoken to Gregovitch, the words spoken now, they brought a million different images to Tobias’ mind, and it was ridiculous but he actually felt weak-kneed. He knew exactly what the Beast was talking about, and he shuddered at the thought of doing those things, not because he didn’t want to, but because he did, so badly…in that moment Tobias realized why he had taken so long to run, why he had let his curiosity override his fear.

He wanted to be fucked by the Beast.

But he didn’t want to want it.

“I just want to go home,” he whispered.

The Beast lowered his hands until they were on the top of his jeans. Tobias gulped at the intent of that movement. “Only I have the power to grant that,” he said.

“Because you rule here,” Tobias breathed.

“Precisely.”

“Then grant it,” Tobias said. “Please.”

The Beast shook his head, and then slowly, like he wanted Tobias to see every movement, he popped the button of his jeans. “That is not how it works,” he said. “Here if you want something you have to give something.”

And so Tobias asked, though he feared he already knew the answer to his question. “What do you want?”

“The same thing I have wanted since I set eyes on you.”

“I prefer to pick my lovers,” Tobias said. “Not have them forced on me.”

The Beast laughed and pulled on his zipper. “You would like nothing better than to have me in your bed, and, I suspect, some force will simply arouse you all the more.”

“No.”

“Yes, Tobias,” he said, almost chidingly. “I see the lust darken your eyes when you look at me. You want this. You want me to bend you over and sink my cock into your pucker.”

Tobias’ dick pulsed and he closed his eyes, as if to block out the images the Beast’s words had created. “No…”

“You want me to force inch after inch of my length into your luscious lips.”

And thickened ever further. “No…”

“And we’re going to do that, Tobias,” the Beast whispered. “There is no choice anymore. Not if you want what only I can give.”

Tobias snapped his eyes open. “To go home.”

“Precisely.”

“So if I do this…”

The Beast removed his hands from his zipper and crossed his arms. “Then I may grant your request.”

“May?”

“If you are as beautiful as I suspect,” the Beast said. “If it is as good as I have been imagining it will be.” He paused, and then he smiled, that same smile that had made Tobias shudder in the very beginning. “If you please me then yes, Tobias Thorn, I will allow you to go home.”

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tale As Old As Time: Under His Beast by Victoria Vallo

Welcome to my blog! This month, I'm showcasing lots of retellings of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales. Today I'm featuring another fantasy version, Under His Beast by Victoria Vallo.


Matthew arrives in the land of the prosperous Faeles—a feline-like race—as an indentured servant, thinking he'll be doing nothing but working for the next two years. But the handsome males all react to him in a way no one ever did back home. He once thought he'd never have a chance to explore the desires he's always had, but it soon becomes clear that he's going to be more than spoiled for choice among the exotic Faeles...




Excerpt:

Matthew helped Petyr load the bags of grain into his cart. A male Faeles with golden fur came up to Petyr, clapping him on the back.
“I see you finally got some help,” the male said.
“Yes.” Petyr beckoned Matthew over. “This is Matthew. Matthew, this is Garren.”
Matthew smiled. “Nice to meet you.”
Garren’s gaze raked over him. “A pleasure. How long will you be with us?”
“Two years.”
Garren smiled. “So I’ll be seeing you often. I live in the house across the pond behind Petyr’s. We share some fields, alternating crops each year.”
“I volunteered to send him to Geraint, so he’ll be there for a month or two.”
“Ah, you should find that exciting. Our sorcerer is … interesting.”
Petyr shook his head and laughed. “You’re trying to scare him because you think he’s cute and want to keep him around.”
Garren shrugged. “Can’t blame me for trying.” He smiled at Matthew. “If either of them work you too hard, I’ll give you sanctuary.”
“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Matthew said, knowing his face was red.
Garren moved off when someone called his name, and he and Petyr went back to loading bags. Once they were headed back to Petyr’s, Matthew finally found the courage to ask, “Do you really think he found me attractive?”
“Garren?” Petyr glanced at him oddly and gave him a slow smile. “Your clerics weren’t very thorough, were they?”
“What do you mean?”
“Humans are as exotic to us as we are to you. But I’m sure you probably never gave that any thought. Faeles males tend to like that humans are smaller and more fragile. Brings out the machismo, you could say.”
“So, lots of males might find me appealing?”
“Yes, but you can turn them down despite your status here. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, come to me.” He looked at Matthew seriously. “Especially since it would be your first time, I take it?”
Matthew nodded. “Yeah. I’m just surprised. Girls back home were far more impressed by my brothers.”
“Because you’re short and not muscular?”
“Yes.”
“You’d be smaller than most of us even if you were a foot taller and solidly built. Don’t dwell on it.”
Matthew wondered how it would be if he did meet someone special. His family would be disappointed, but they just might understand, in time, if he wanted to stay here as a mate. He could find work and send money home if he did that. One of his brothers had already suggested he take work after the two years were over if the Faeles offered him anything.
“Ask me anything you like. Geraint is wiser than any of us, but he’s hard to pin down sometimes.”
Matthew wanted to ask if Petyr found him attractive, but he didn’t want to seem forward or appear to be fishing for a compliment. “I don’t mean to sound so down on myself. It’s just that you’re all so beautiful.”
Petyr smiled. “All of us?”
Matthew swallowed. “Yes.”
“Then you may have many options if you wish to gain more experience.”
Matthew blushed again. “I think the pheromones are starting to get to me.”
“Probably. I’m seeing my lover tonight, so I’m a bit … on edge. He’s been away for a month.”
“You have a lover but don’t live with him?”
Petyr shook his head. “We typically don’t live together until we select a true mate.” He parked the cart and jumped to the ground, coming around to help Matthew down. “Not to reinforce our reputation as wicked decadents, but if you wish, you could spend the evening with us. My lover’s name is Erik, and he’s a very gentle male. We could do anything you wished.”
Matthew thought he might faint, though he wasn’t sure if it was fright or excitement making his heart race. He swallowed. “I think that would be leaping without looking, as they say. I just got here, and I am a bit overwhelmed.”
“That’s fine,” Petyr said as he threw a bag of grain over his shoulder. “But I wished to make the offer. I think you were afraid to ask, but yes, I find you attractive as well.”
Matthew took up one of the bags as well and followed Petyr through a door that led to the pantry off the kitchen. “Everyone speaks of such things openly here. At home, it’s so different. So many topics are forbidden.”
They went back outside, and Matthew took up a crate of apples. “I make a pretty good apple pie, if you like them.”
Petyr smiled “I do. Thank you.” He grabbed another bag of grain and fell into step with Matthew. “We see no reason not to speak of such things. We try to be understanding of human ways.” He set the bag in the corner and straightened. “But to be honest, you seem curious. I saw you on the ship watching everyone.”
Matthew put the apples on the table where Petyr pointed. “I am. As you said, I’m certainly old enough to have lovers.”
“I was very curious when I was young. Wild, even. I look forward to having a mate one day, just not quite yet.”
“How do you know when you’ve found a good mate?”
They brought in the rest of the bags of grain as Petyr explained. “It’s part instinct and part physical chemistry. Sometimes, a lover’s scent strikes you differently. Or it could be something unconscious. My mother knew she wanted my father as her mate when another female’s scent made her jealous.”
Matthew followed him back outside. “So you can tell if someone you’re standing close to has been with another?”
“Yes. By the time I take you to Geraint, you’ll smell like me a bit. He’ll likely make you bathe first thing. As I said, he’s traditional. Old-fashioned. While you’re attending him, he won’t want to smell another, male or female.” He unhitched the horses while Matthew swept the cart out.
“So I’d need to bathe after coming for supplies and things? Or interacting with others?”
“Yes, but he’ll explain everything when you get there. He’s thorough. And efficient. That can make he seem kind of gruff and curt, but don’t let it get to you. He’s a softy deep down, just rough around the edges.”
“Sounds like you’re setting me up with your cousin or something.”
Petyr laughed. “You won’t have to worry about that much. Geraint is more interested in study than in sex. He gave up on romance after a relationship went bad years ago. It’ll give you some time to get used to things here.”
Matthew helped him lead the horses into the barn. “He’s not interested in finding a mate?”
“Doesn’t seem to be,” Petyr said. Then with a grin, he added, “So my offer still stands. Erik has his own home, but he’ll likely be staying here most nights.”
“I’ll think on it, though it may be best for me to take the time to get used to things here.” He took up a brush and stroked it over the horse, soothing her and picking leaves from her mane. “Do many humans take lovers right away?”
“Yes, though I hear they often deny it when they go back home.”
“They must. I’ve certainly never heard anyone talk about it openly. When I got here, I was intimidated.” He lowered his eyes, knowing he still was. “I was shocked to hear you say the males here would find me appealing.”
“The females will as well. They like the gentleness of humans. Get tired of the strutting and posturing.” He chuckled. “We’re a testosterone-ridden race.”
“You’re open and warm, too, though. I like it. Everyone in the market was friendly.”
“Yes, and many a male eyed you. I had to give them a glare that said you were with me.”
Matthew paused in his brushing. “Sounds like I’ll not be going home with my virtue intact.” He smiled to let Petyr know he wouldn’t mind.
“You won’t miss it,” Petyr said with another chuckle.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Tale As Old As Time: Owen and the Beast

Welcome to my blog! This month, I'm showcasing lots of retellings of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales. Today we have a retelling set in my fantasy world of Valladora: Owen and the Beast.

Seeking to ease his loneliness, Owen sets out to meet his last remaining relative, someone he never knew because of an old family scandal. He’s trying to find his way in life, his path uncertain and his heart having been broken more than once.

Suffering under a demonic curse that can never be lifted, Edmund hides away in Erimooor Lodge so he doesn’t have to deal with the pity and fear his appearance inspires. Though many in the nearby village accept him as he is, he knows not everyone will have that ability to tolerate his animal-like appearance.

Owen makes his living as a storyteller, enthralling others with fantastical tales. Little does he know that the gods have something amazing planned for him when he meets the real “Beast of Erimoor Lodge” and finds out how wrong all the old legends are.


Excerpt:

Owen hoisted himself up onto the boulder and pulled his boot off, crying out at the unexpectedly sharp pain. He stared down at his rapidly swelling ankle. Cursing, he fumbled for his bag, which had gone flying when he’d caught his foot in a rut in the road and been thrown forward. He’d actually done more damage pulling his foot out of the rut, and that pissed him off. He looked down the road and tried to guess how far away he was from his aunt’s village. He thought it had to be at least five or six more miles, but he didn’t really know. There was supposed to be an inn coming up soon, but he didn’t know its exact location either. What he did know, however, was that he didn’t see anyone coming from either direction on the road.
He barely managed to drag his bag over without falling off the boulder. He dug around in the deep, overstuffed bag, hoping to find something to wrap his ankle with, perhaps even brace it. Even though he’d known he didn’t have anything, he still felt dejected when he cinched up the drawstring and dropped his bag back to the ground. Dirt flew up, making him cough, and he looked up to the sky. It had been so dry lately he’d been praying for rain, but now he hoped it held off since he might get stuck in it. Fluffy clouds floated to his left, but the clouds to his right were darker. He looked around to find some shelter, but he couldn’t see any. Only open fields lined this part of the highway.
Owen sighed and wiggled his ankle, cringing at the pain. He could always rip the hem off one of his shirts to bind it, but walking any distance would only make things worse. His aunt would know just what to do, but she was miles away. Should he keep it still or move it? Should he elevate it? Questions raced through his mind as he heard hooves beating in the distance. He jerked his head up and began waving frantically as soon as the horse became visible over the ridge.
A man about his age rode up on an enormous black stallion. He made the horse stop and jumped down right away. The enormous animal seemed formidable, but it stood calmly and looked on as its master rushed over to Owen. The man actually appeared much younger up close, a huge grin on his face as he pushed his messy brown hair out of his eyes.
“Hi! You look like you need some help!” the man said, still grinning.
Owen had never seen anyone express concern so happily. He shifted on the boulder and said, “Yeah. I sprained my ankle, and I’m still miles from my destination.”
“Where are you heading?” he asked.
“The next village. The small one by the mountains in Lady Christobel’s dominion. My aunt lives there.”
“Oh. That’s many miles away still. You’d never have made it by dark even if you hadn’t hurt yourself. There is a little inn about four miles up, but my home is much closer. I live in the lodge just over this next hill, off in the woods.”
“I’d appreciate it, but I don’t want to impose.” He straightened. “I’m Owen.”
The man laughed. “Sorry. My master would roll his eyes at me and my thoughtlessness. I’m Lane. Nice to meet you, despite the circumstances.”
“Your master? You’re a servant?”
“Yes, sort of.”
“You mentioned a lodge. A hunting lodge?”
“Well, it used to be.” Lane bent down and looked at Owen’s ankle. “Hmmm. I need to see to this, but I don’t have anything for a splint. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know on the way.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate it. I was worried about getting stuck out here in the rain,” Owen said as Lane picked up Owen’s bag and hefted it over this shoulder. Glancing to the stallion, Owen sighed. “I know I can’t walk, but I’m not sure I can get up on him. He’s enormous.” Lane was also half Owen’s size, so he wasn’t sure how much help the man would be in getting him up onto the horse. “Maybe if I can stand on one foot and put all my weight on you, I can make it.”
“Oh, don’t worry. We can get you up there.” Lane made a clicking sound with his tongue, and the stallion came right over to them. Speaking to the horse as if it understood every word, Lane said, “This is Owen. We’re going to take him home with us. He needs our help.” Then he pointed at the ground.
To Owen’s shock, the horse actually lay down and then turned to look at the two men. Lane held his hand out.
“Here. Just swing your injured leg over. I’ll steady you.” He frowned. “No, wait, I’ll move to the other side.”
Lane moved to the other side of the stallion and reached his hand over. Owen grasped his hand and threw his injured leg over, pulling himself into position to sit properly in the saddle. Once Owen was situated, Lane smiled at him and clicked at the horse again. Lane held to the horse’s reins and urged him up slowly. The powerful animal got to its feet easily, and Lane walked around to fetch Owen’s other boot.
As they began their journey, Owen asked, “Your master won’t mind an unexpected visitor? I can pay, of course.”
“Nonsense. You’ll be our guest. It’s just me and Lord Edmund day in and day out.” Lane grinned once more. “I’m so excited! I already know exactly what to make for dinner. And I just aired some of the ground floor rooms, so we can move you right in to one of those.”
The title gave Owen pause, as did Lane’s excitement. “Your master’s a vampire?”
“Yes, but he doesn’t like to be addressed by his title. I slip up now and then, and he forgives me. He’s very gracious. Kind and gentle. Would not harm a fly. The best of masters. Good and generous and understanding.” Lane smiled as he kicked at a few pebbles on the road. “I’ve never been happier in my life.”
Owen wondered why Lane was trying so hard to convince him this Edmund was a good man. “You think a lot of your master.”
“Yes, I do.” Lane beamed up at Owen. “I think you’ll like him. I’m sure he’ll like you.”
“Well, once my ankle is bound, I won’t trouble you too much. If I can just rest and then maybe borrow a horse. I promise to bring it back as soon as I can. Or you can accompany me if you like.”
Lane waved his hand. “Nonsense. You should stay until you’re healed. We’d love to have you.”
“I couldn’t impose like that. It will take days. And even if your master is gracious, you haven’t exactly asked his permission.” Worried he might sound condescending, Owen quickly said, “I mean, you know him best, of course, but I hate to put him out in his own home.”
“It’s nothing! Please, I insist. It’s time we had a bit of life and activity about the place.” 
Owen watched Lane for a long time, wondering how things could be lacking in life and activity with Lane and his enthusiasm to contend with.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tale As Old As Time: Brute by Georgia Fox

Welcome to my blog! This month, I'm showcasing lots of retellings of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales. Today we have a historical retelling, Brute by Georgia Fox.


When Lady Isabella is granted a husband she knows there can be no refusing. This is the queen's will, and no one refuses the queen. But the husband she is given turns out to be not just any courtier handpicked by the cruel, tyrannical Queen Ingaret.

He is "Brutus", a wild man recently captured from his isolated tropical island. A naked, long-haired, enormous savage, who knows only a handful of words - all learned from a bunch of lusty sailors and none suitable for the ears of a lady. A brute with a manhood that has made him a prize exhibit in the queen's menagerie of rare animals.

Isabella must find some way to tame the beast who is now her husband, but she must also keep the perverted, spiteful queen entertained, for this is not just her future safety at stake. It is his life.

Can this mismatched couple find a way to bond in bed and out of it? Can they live happily forever - and ever after?


Excerpt:
 He was ravenous. The taste of her pussy— not puzzy, she had taught him— was sweeter than wine and went to his head in just the same way. She liked it when he licked her there, so he discovered, and she encouraged him to keep doing it.

When she let her hands slide up and down his body, and across his shoulders, he found he liked that too. It was soothing, made him feel warm in a way he never had before. Warm on the inside. It was a gesture that seemed admiring, for when he was walked out in the yard and there was a bazaar taking place, he had witnessed other women touch cloth like this, running their hands over it and sighing.

And as she explored him with her small, light, gentle hands, he did the same to her body, wishing his hands were as smooth as hers. The dip in her waist was deep when she lay on her side, her hip a high slope that trembled when he licked the curve with his tongue. Her teats were almost too much for his hands to hold and he sucked on them with delight. When he pulled her close and felt her soft belly against the hard ridges of his muscle it brought him such intense pleasure that he let his head fall back and a low rumble came out of his throat— more of a purr than the howl he expected.

His bride caressed the groin-snake with her hands and then her mouth, tasting timidly at first and then growing bolder. Her little tongue tickled his balls and travelled all the way from sturdy root to the fleshy knob that ached and swelled.

Brutus had never had so much good attention focused upon him and he wanted it to go on forever, so he held back his urge to rut and let it build at a slower pace while she played with his body and petted him with tenderness. 
* * * *

When he turned onto his back, Isabella slowly stretched her body over his and licked his eyebrows, then his eyelids. He made a questioning grunt and she laughed lightly. Suddenly she felt immensely powerful. The queen had, no doubt, expected her to feel helpless and dominated by the wild man in bed, but he was not an ogre, or any sort of monster. He was a man. And she would teach him, lead the way through her own deflowering.

From this position she would have more leverage, be able to make the pace suit her better than she would if he lay above.

He ran a hand down her spine, tracing the curve with his long fingers, making her shiver, and then he cupped her bottom in both hands and lifted her.

Poised straddling his cock, Isabella muttered a hasty prayer and then she pressed downward.

Brutus groaned, staring at the sight of his erect manhood slowly penetrating her body. Still gripping her buttocks, his fingers trembled and dug into her flesh.

Every so often she paused, readjusting her position. She leaned forward.

"Kiss me, Brutus."

"Kizz?"

Her heart quaked to think he had never known a kiss. So she tenderly laid her lips to his, tasting the wine and roast peacock from their wedding feast. Inside her pussy, his cock throbbed, causing an echoing flutter to rush through her, radiating from that one tightly filled place. She gasped, jolting, for it made her skin tingle as if lightning had struck.

He pressed his hand to the back of her head, holding her head still, keeping her lips against his. And then, as she was sinking into that kiss, he flipped her over onto her back.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tale As Old As Time: In the Wolf's Tower

Welcome to my blog! This month, I'm showcasing lots of retellings of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite fairy tales. We'll start with one of my own, In the Wolf's Tower.

****

This story practically wrote itself, which was a bit of an adventure in the first place. I got the idea when my godson Quentin wanted some help understanding Sir Thomas Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur. In the list of the knights of the round table, we stumbled upon this passage, which I thought would be a great jumping off point for a story:

Sir Marrok, the good knight that was betrayed with his wife, for she made him seven year a werewolf . . . Book XIX

In Mallory's tale, he is only stuck in wolf form for seven years, and when he is freed he gets revenge on his unfaithful wife. Now, despite this little bump in the road, he still has a place of honor at the round table and is part of the honor guard, but the king in my story is not quite so noble as King Arthur.

This story is a twist on Beauty and the Beast, but as you'll see as you read, our beast Marrok didn't do anything to deserve his punishment, which makes him want revenge even more. Of course, Josette is not what he expected at all, so his plans for revenge begin to falter and stray the moment she arrives......





Blurb:

Josette’s father needs gold to fight his war, so she goes from princess to prisoner in an instant when Lord Marrok offers the needed treasure in exchange for her. Once her father’s most honorable knight, Marrok is now shunned and feared. Why? Marrok is a werewolf. Josette goes to help her people, and soon discovers that Marrok blames her father for his curse. He claims he wasn’t looking for a bride, but his gaze screams seduction and she soon questions his reasons for demanding her in exchange for the gold. What sort of revenge does he have planned? And what will happen to her once he has her locked away in his castle?
Excerpt: 
Josette entered the kitchen and found Marrok finishing his dinner. “I thought you would want me to do that.”
“Did you? Can you cook?”
She nodded.
“Rare talent for a princess.”
“Not for a bored and sheltered one. I was under the impression I was going to be slaving away in this castle in one way or another.”
He pushed his plate away and stood. “So you imagined yourself chained either to the stove or to my bed, did you?” he asked as he moved toward her.
“My father was vague. He said I owed it to him but that I should expect the worst. When I said I would go willingly, he actually choked on his wine. He seemed pleased though and dismissed me to pack without another word.”
He stood only an inch away from her now. “And given the choice, which would you prefer?”
She looked up into his eyes and tried to ignore the masculine scent of leather. She turned her head and eyed the stove before stepping back and eyeing him as well. His gaze never wavered from her face. “It’s a very nice stove.”
He roared with laughter. “You must be a changeling. You have more wit and personality in one strand of your hair than your parents had put together.”
“I’m my own person. No one and nothing will ever change that.” She went to the table and gathered his dishes. She walked them to the sink and began looking around at the well-equipped kitchen.
“Not even your present situation?”
She let her breath out in a huff. “Are you determined to have me unhappy? What does it matter? My father will never know! For all he knows I’m locked in the dungeon or on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor in rags.”
He let his gaze shift down her body. “I’d stay in the castle more often if you get the urge to spend much time in that position.”
She turned away so he wouldn’t see the flame of color on her cheeks. She told herself she was very lucky he hadn’t forced himself on her. She shouldn’t be having such sexually charged thoughts. A man like him would surely pick up on them and tease her all the more. Or worse, tempt her to act on them.
“I really can cook. I’ll cook every meal if you like. It’s the least I can do for the expense I’ll be to you.”
“Money is of no concern. You’ll learn that soon enough.” He moved to stand behind her, but he didn’t force her to turn around. The heat from his body made her blush even worse, and something about having him so close behind her sent a thrill up her spine. “I eat at eight, one and six. I’ll unlock your door shortly after sunrise every day.”
He walked toward the door, but then he turned. “And leave food out for the cat starting tomorrow. He prefers chicken twice a day. I kill one for him every morning.”
Despite the flush still on her cheeks, she turned to him. “Cat? You’re a werewolf, but you own a cat?”
“Why is that so very odd?” he asked, though he didn’t stay to hear her answer.