Author Name: M.A. Church
Book Name: It Takes Two to Tango
Series: Fur, Fangs, and Felines
Book: Book Three
Release Date: September 26, 2016
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Pages or Words: 230 pages
Genres: Erotic Romance / Vampires / Werewolves/Shapeshifters
Can two very different men find the love they need to survive?
Remi Ginn’s an easygoing werecat with a love of snarky T-shirts who would be perfectly happy with a human mate. Is that what the goddess Bast gives him? Of course not. Instead she gifts him with Marshell, a Vetala: a snakelike nonshifter who drinks blood to survive. A man who’s just as toppy as Remi—and even more powerful than the West Falls Clowder’s Alpha and heir apparent.
While Remi decides whether he can handle the fates’ choice, hunters attack Marshell. In an explosion of passion, Remi and Marshell mate and Remi declares Marshell his. Now they have to figure out how to make their relationship work as they dance around each other.
The clowder is in turmoil, and Remi’s acceptance of Marshell rocks the very foundation of the insular group. The consequences will be far-reaching. And if that isn’t problem enough, the situation with the hunters is far from resolved… as the appearance of an Alpha werewolf proves.
How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start writing?
Actually, not very long. Hmmm, maybe a couple of years? I got my start back in 2010. I was surfing the net and was looking for free short stories to read. I ran across this site called Literotica and stumbled across the Gay Male section. I was hooked, lol.
Somehow I’d missed all this. And boy, did I scrounge around there, reading every single story! There were some very good ones, and some very, very bad ones, lol. After reading there for half a year, I decided to try my hand at writing a story.
I was surfing the net and was looking for free short stories to read. I ran across this site called Literotica and stumbled across the Gay Male section. I was hooked, lol. Somehow I’d missed all this. And boy, did I scrounge around there, reading every single story! There were some very good ones, and some very, very bad ones, lol. After reading there for half a year, I decided to try my hand at writing a story.
What finally pushed me into pubbing was winning a winter-themed contest on Literotica several years ago. I’d been writing The Harvest series there. So I wrote a Christmas story having to do with the characters from Harvest and entered it. *laugh* It won first place. What’s significant about that was this was *not* a M/M contest. Most of the entries were M/F actually. That helped make my mind up.
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
It’s like approaching a good-looking person at a bar. You make eye contact—there’s a spark. You check each other for a little while then… you meet. Talk. Flirt. Cop a feel or two and see if that spark turns into a blazing fire, lol. A time or two I’ve had to walk away and find another title to eye.
I’ve been lucky. Titles have never been um, hard, for me to ah, come, up with. *laugh* Okay, I’ll stop now.
Describe your writing space.
Well, lol, it depends on where I end up. Some days the laptop and I are on the couch in the den. There are a *lot* of windows in there, and I can see the pond from the couch. It’s bright and sunny. Usually Kitty curls up on a pillow next to me while I write.
Other times I’m in the bedroom. The hubby works nights two weeks out of four. Normally, he falls asleep in the bedroom because it’s dark in there. But there are times the Outdoor Channel grabs him and he falls asleep on the couch. Those days I end up in the bedroom. I sit on the bed with Kitty curled up at the end of the bed, lol.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I’ve never truly struggled with writer’s block, except for one time. For a good six to eight months after the stroke I had in 2012, I struggled. So… I don’t know if you would really call that writers block. Regardless of whatever you’d call it I struggled getting my thoughts on the page.
I know now part of the problem had to do with the medications I was on. Once that was straightened out, things got better. Even though the stroke wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I still needed time to recuperate.
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
For me, the plot comes first. I have to have some working idea of what I’m writing, lol. Before I ever put pen to paper, so to speak, I have a beginning, middle, and end. *laugh* I guess it’s the teacher in me. I can’t help it, lol. Now, that’s not to say there isn’t room for change. Hell, there’s even been a time or two I threw the plot out the window and started completely over. Talk about stressing me out, though, so that doesn’t happen often.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
The first thing would be to research the publisher you’re looking at. Google them. Go look at their website. What kind of covers do they have? Do you like them? Go on places like ARe and check out the bestseller list. What publishers are there? Ask around. Talk to others. Listen to what’s being talked about on social media and blogs. I hate to say it, but if there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
The other thing I’d say is don’t give up, and please, don’t take rejection to heart. This is a business. Publishers want to make money. If they don’t think something will work for them, they’ll give it a pass. That doesn’t mean they think the story sucks. So, okay then, it’s been rejected. Send that story off to another publisher.
Fuck my life.
I’d have to check, but I was pretty sure I had a shirt that said that somewhere in my closet. If I didn’t, it was next on the list of things to get. Because it fit—my life was fucked.
Sighing, I turned the radio up in an effort to drown out my thoughts. I rattled down the road in my old beat-up work truck—which was another thing I needed to take care of. I’d owned a sweet ’69 Ford Mustang. Had being the key word. It went up in flames not long ago… with the mate of Dolf, our heir apparent and head beta, inside.
Kirk made it out alive. My baby wasn’t so lucky, and I hadn’t replaced her yet. Yes, I was mourning a car. I loved her. Ugh. So much for drowning out my thoughts. I turned on my blinker and made the turn onto Alpha Armonty’s street for an emergency meeting he’d called.
Bad enough this was Monday, but it was what humans called Cyber Monday, goddess help us. I turned the heat up a little more. December had arrived with what the South considered abnormally cold temperatures. Frankly I liked the cold—liked the snow, as long as we weren’t buried under a mountain of the stuff.
As I pulled up in front of his house, I saw Dolf’s truck was already there. Dolf, our head beta, was the Alpha’s son and heir apparent. The other three betas—Heller, Aidric, and Brier—had arrived too. That left me. I was also a beta for the West Falls Clowder.
I parked behind Heller and sat in my truck, staring sightlessly at the house. One of the reasons we were meeting was because I met my mate, Marshell Foles, a few days ago. Good news, right? Cue the canned audience applause.
Now the bad news. My mate was possibly stronger than my Alpha and the heir apparent together. Okay, now cue the canned boos and hisses. Maybe I should’ve said life was fucked with a capital F.
I flashed back to the night I found out he was mine and the heavy petting session we had on his couch. Now my cock was hard. Wonderful. Just what I needed—an erection right before I met with my Alpha.
I pushed at the bulge, frowning. “Down, boy. I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
In order for a shifter to mate, we had to share come and blood during sex—which involved bottoming. For my mate I could bottom. The thing was, I didn’t see myself doing it on a regular basis. I was a top—which was not that big of a deal, except so was Marshell.
Somehow I didn’t see Marshell bottoming any more than I wanted to. The man screamed Alpha male. That was another can of worms, and not the only one by any means. And sitting here analyzing this was useless. I got out and walked toward the front door before one of them noticed me sitting out here in my truck like a dummy.
Just as I got to the door, Dolf opened it, read my shirt, and promptly burst out laughing. “You have got to tell me where you get those.”
Smirking, I shook my head. “It’s a well-guarded secret.”
Today I wore a black shirt with white writing: Be careful when you follow the masses…. Sometimes the M is silent. “Masses” was in light blue, as was the letter M, to draw attention to the play on words. I’d been known to follow an ass or two in my day. Those days were over now.
Dolf nodded at my truck. “I was wondering if I was going to have to come out there.”
“I had a feeling you’d be tapping on the driver’s window if I didn’t get out soon,” I said as Dolf moved out of the way so I could enter the Alpha’s home.
“I was counting down. Dad and the rest are already in his office.”
“That’s where the food is, right? I just got off work, so I haven’t eaten.”
Dolf clapped me on the shoulder as he shut the front door. “Of course. Come on back before they eat it all—damn bunch of vultures.”
I followed Dolf. The smells coming from Alpha Armonty’s office made my mouth water. “Something smells good.”
“Mom got hot wings. There are fries, coleslaw, and potato salad to go with it. And rolls too.”
“Your mom rocks.”
We entered the office. Everyone was still standing around helping themselves. Good. That meant there was still food, and I made a beeline for it.
“Hey! Look what the cat finally dragged in.” Aidric shoulder-bumped me.
“Oh, such sharp wit. It cuts like a dull knife.” I rolled my eyes. “And don’t think I didn’t notice you bumping me away from the table, you hog.”
“Hot wings, man.” Aidric winked at me. “Food of the gods and hungry werecat shifters.”
“You’re always hungry,” I griped, shoving Aidric out of my way. “Stop blocking the table, dude.”
“Hey, Remi,” Brier greeted me.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Good, good. Just got through helping my sister, Breanna, move into her new apartment here in town. I swear, how does one person accumulate that much stuff?” Brier complained.
“Oh that’s right. I forgot she was back,” I said. “Where was she living before?”
“Philadelphia. She moved up there for her job, but she couldn’t stand the cold weather and endless snow. All she did was gripe, gripe, gripe. I finally got tired of hearing it and told her if she was that unhappy, then she should move back home. I was kidding, but I don’t think she got that. Next thing I know I’m getting a phone call and a due date for her to move.” Brier scowled at a chip on his plate. “Should’ve kept my mouth shut.”
“What did you tell me she did?” I asked.
“She’s an accountant. Now that she’s settled into her new place, she’s started job hunting. She’s got some savings, but that won’t last forever.”
“Is she still unmated?” I asked.
“Yep. She had a boyfriend, but they weren’t mates. And speaking of mates, I heard you found yours. Man, sorry I couldn’t attend the dinner. Congrats.” Brier sat down at the round table we always used for meetings.
“Yeah, you should’ve seen his face.” Aidric chuckled.
“Thanks,” I said, unsure if I should say more. Did Brier know the situation? Aidric did. He was there that night.
“Welcome, Remi.” Alpha Armonty pointed at the side table where the drinks were set. “There’s several different sodas to pick from, and tea. Get yourself a plate and grab a seat.”
“Yes, Alpha.” I filled a plate and got a drink. After we were settled, Alpha Armonty cleared his throat. All talking ceased.
“We’re meeting for several reasons. First let me congratulate Remi. As I understand it, Remi met his mate during Heller’s Thanksgiving dinner, which I wish now the wife and I had attended.”
“Yeah, you never know what kind of trouble Heller’s going to stir up,” Aidric joked.
“Again, let me remind everyone Lawson’s to blame for the whole Thanksgiving deal. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.” Heller nodded as though that was the end of the subject.
“You chickenshit.” Aidric poked Heller in the ribs. “Look at you trying to throw it off on your mate, and the guy isn’t even here to defend himself.”
“I’ll tell him,” I volunteered, flashing Heller an evil grin. “Knowing Lawson, he’ll hide Heller’s hair-styling stuff as revenge. Hmm, I might even have to suggest that. Just in case, you know.”
“He’d need a storage unit for all of it,” Brier added and then took a drink of his soda.
“And a forklift to get it to the storage unit.” Dolf snickered, licking the sauce from the hot wings off his fingers.
“Just a damn minute here.” Heller threw his napkin at me. “How’d this discussion get off onto me anyhow? And Remi? You might want to remember Lawson’s like a brother to your mate. Maybe I’ll tell Lawson to tell Marshell how you picked on me… and I’ll have you in the doghouse, man.”
“Doghouse? Really?” Dolf hooted.
“Sounds better than cathouse.” Heller shrugged and then bit into a wing.
Fur and Fangs with a Twist
I shall begin by saying I do not recommend reading this book without having read the first two, [book:Trouble Comes in Threes|23631202] (Trouble Comes in Threes) and [book:Behind the Eight Ball|27153448] (Behind the Eight Ball). There are multiple references to these books that play into this one, and having not read them myself, I felt I missed fully understanding the multitude of storylines.
That said, this was my first novel by this author, and I really enjoyed it, even if I didn’t get all the subtleties. Told in first person from the alternating points of view of Remi and Marshell, you really get the opportunity to see inside their heads and hearts. Remi is a werecat, but his mate is something entirely different – a non-shifting paranormal called a Vetala. While he remains human, he has enhanced senses, and when his preternatural traits come forward, his eyes glow blue and his venemous fangs drop. Incredibly powerful, the clowder isn’t certain precisely what to do with Marshell as the mate of the top beta werecat after the heir apparent.
I liked that as a cat, Remi wasn’t one of the top predator large cats, but an actual CAT cat. Only slightly larger than an average cat, he enjoys playing with cat toys, climbing everything in the house, and snuggling in Marshell’s lap. It really was a nice change of pace. Marshell’s discomfort with “talking to a cat” cracked me up.
While the pacing was steady, the plots were kind of all over the place. There were multiple things happening at once, not all of which involved the main characters, and some of them would be mentioned, then not heard about for a hundred pages before popping up and being quickly resolved almost as an afterthought. However, the storylines were interesting and did keep my attention.
The peripheral characters are *many* and varied. From other cats to wolves to humans in the clowder to human hunters of the paranormals, there is a lot to keep up with. This is done quite well, and these characters really enriched the book overall. Quick wit and excellent dialogue is part and parcel with this book. I found myself turning the pages looking forward to finding out what outrageous shirt Remi was going to wear next!
The chemistry between Remi and Marshell is striking hot! Watching these two tops dance around each other and eventually give in to the inevitable is highly entertaining, and the sexy times are sizzling. Remi’s past makes a return, and Marshell’s handling of this delicate issue is beautiful.
There was a clear setup for another book in this one, which is great if you like that, or not so great if you prefer to be surprised at the matches. There ended up being multiple discussions about this pair, which disappointed me a little bit. My preference is to let that book be revealed *in* the book, not to belabor the point in someone else’s.
In the end, though, I spent several happy hours reading this book, fell hard for these main characters, and I will be reading both the previous two as well as any future books as they are released. If you’re a fan of shifters, I most definitely recommend checking out Ms. Church’s Fur, Fangs, and Felines series!
Star Rating: ★★★★
Reviewed by Cat Clontz.
ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest review.
$5.00 gift card from Amazon
a Rafflecopter giveaway
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
She was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, runner up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards, and is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
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