Hello Readers! Today we are spotlighting What a Wolf Desires – the first book in the new Lux Catena series by Amy Pennza! Guess What? Amy is also answering some questions about her new book for us! Let’s get started & don’t forget – enter the GIVEAWAY!
ABOUT THE BOOK
What a Wolf Desires
by Amy Pennza
(Lux Catena Series, #1)
Publication date: November 21st 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Lizette Butler has the only thing she ever wanted—freedom from her pack Alpha, Maxime Simard, and the ability to decide her own fate. She and Max have a turbulent history and a powerful—if unwilling—attraction. Unfortunately, mere distance can’t stop the past from crashing back in to disrupt her life. Nor can it stop the rush of desire that overwhelms her the minute she sees him again. Her body may crave his physical seductions, but her heart will never let her love him.
As leader of the New York territory, Max has everything—wealth, power, and an army of wolves ready to jump at his command. But a mistake he made five years ago may have cost him the only thing worth living for: Lizette. He also knows something Lizette doesn’t—she possesses a rare ability that makes her a target and a prize.
Max can command Lizette to return to the pack, but he can’t command her trust…or her love. And if he can’t heal the rift between them, he may lose her forever.
What a Wolf Desires is the 1st book in the Lux Catena series
AVAILABLE in print or ebook
Amazon – https://amzn.to/2Pmcn7n
The inside of the Lodge was brighter than Lizette remembered, the foyer spiraling up a dizzying sixty feet. Twin staircases graced either side, each one leading to a catwalk that appeared to float across the impressive space.
The foyer opened onto a massive great room dominated by a huge stone fireplace. She’d spent many an evening lying in front of it, chin propped on her hand, studying the flames.
She longed to sink into one of the big leather couches in front of the fireplace, but she had her instructions. Her orders. She was to report directly to the Alpha as soon as she set foot in the building. Disobeying wouldn’t be a good way to start her visit.
And a visit is exactly what it’s going to be. As she walked the familiar path to Max’s study, his presence was like a beating heart in the huge Lodge. Each pulse dragged her closer to him, even though every nerve screamed for her to run back out the door and never stop.
“Lizette?” a young, feminine voice called behind her.
She stopped and pivoted toward it. “Haley?”
A dark blur shot from the other end of the hallway. Before she could say anything else, Haley threw itself into Lizette’s arms, wrapping her in a tight, perfumed hug with surprising strength.
She patted her friend’s springy, light brown curls. “Have you been working out?”
Haley laughed and pulled back so they were face-to-face. “It’s the wolf,” she said, her white, even teeth bisected by the thin metal wire of her retainer. “I can’t believe how much it’s changed me in such a short time.”
Six weeks earlier, Haley had convinced her guardians to let her spend a weekend with Lizette. Haley turned seventeen that past Christmas with no sign of her wolf emerging. The Turn happened at different ages for everyone, but it usually happened by puberty—and because girls tended to mature faster than boys, females usually Turned earlier. But Haley hadn’t made the change, and her guardians worried she never would. Among werewolves, such wolves were called latents.
Latents had a wolf counterpart, but they couldn’t Turn. They felt the pull of the wolf’s instincts but had no outlet for them. Lizette had heard it described as being a pianist with your hands permanently tied behind your back.
It was a sad, frustrating existence for wolves, cursed to live trapped inside their human bodies, unable to transform into their other selves. The hope of finding a mate was slim, since they lacked the ability to form the lifelong bonds so treasured by the wolves, and many couldn’t bear to be around normal werewolves.
The problem had even spilled over from werewolf society and trickled down into the human world. Every now and then news headlines told of a madman or killer who’d committed some unspeakable crime. In some cases, it was just a random crazy human. But in others it was a latent who’d lost his or her grip on reality, and the local Alpha would dispatch a group of wolves to quietly take care of the problem.
In the morning the human police would find the defendant hanged in his cell. Was it murder? Yes, but it was too risky to allow those wolves to live.
The human word lunatic was a lot closer to the truth than most people realized.
At first Haley’s guardians thought she might simply be a late bloomer. But when puberty came and went and she still hadn’t Turned, they were desperate. So they sent her to Lizette, hoping some time with another female around her own age might relieve some of the Haley’s anxieties. What if she never Turned? Latents often lived a sort of half-life. Cut off from the werewolf community, many committed suicide.
To everyone’s delight, Haley Turned for the first time during her stay at Lizette’s place. She and Lizette had danced around the apartment blasting OneDirection and Taylor Swift until Lizette got a migraine and the downstairs neighbor pounded on the ceiling to shut them up.
Lizette squeezed Haley’s bicep. “I’m impressed. You have Madonna arms.”
Haley laughed, her pretty face lit up with joy. It made Lizette’s heart happy to see her like this. In a way she felt protective of her, and not just because Lizette was there the first time Haley Turned. Like Lizette, Haley lost her parents as a child.
Although Haley was raised in a werewolf community, they’d both been foster kids of a sort. Haley knew what it felt like to be an outsider.
Haley’s expression grew abruptly serious. “Have you seen him yet?”
Lizette swallowed. Of course Haley knew why Lizette was here.
There was only one thing—or rather one person—who could have compelled her to return. “Not yet. Soon.”
They stared at each other. Even at seventeen, Haley understood that being summoned to appear before the Alpha was serious business. Everyone did. In Lizette’s case, however, it held a special significance.
“I should go.”
“You should go.”
They both laughed.
Lizette took a reluctant step toward the foyer. “I’m sure I’ll see you later. We have a ton of things to catch up on.” She dropped her voice to a whisper. “Like boys.”
Although goodness knew Lizette had little advice to offer in that area. Aside from one brief—and that was generous—relationship as a teen, her love life was DOA.
“Definitely,” Haley said. “And I want to run together before you go.”
Lizette gave Haley a little wave and tried to ignore the way her stomach lurched as she headed back the way she’d come. She stopped in front of a set of big double doors and wiped her palms on her jeans. She angled her chin downand took in her sweater and mint green Chucks. Was Aiden right? Maybe she should have changed.
This is ridiculous. She was twenty-four years old, not fifteen…so why did she feel like a teenager reporting to the principal’s office?
Or a woman on a first date.
Not going there. She’d see what he wanted and then go home. Simple as that. She took a deep breath and knocked.
“Come,” said a low voice from behind the door.
The sound ripped through her like a thunderclap, and her knees almost gave out. She clenched her fists and pressed her fingernails into her palms—a trick she learned from Dom. The pain steadied her. She pushed the door open…
…and locked gazes with the Alpha. Her Alpha. Maxime Alexandre Simard.
He sat behind his desk, his posture relaxed. A lord in command of his domain.
And in the werewolf world, that’s exactly what he was.
The first time she saw him was in the back of a Los Angeles County courtroom.
Her caseworker had called her foster parents the day before, breathless, saying a relative had come forward—a distant cousin of Lizette’s mother. He was flying in from New York and would be there the next day to file the paperwork.
In court he wore a charcoal gray suit and a dark blue tie. His jacket sleeves rode up when he shook her foster father’s hand, exposing his shirt cuffs and the strange metal jewelry he wore there instead of buttons. When she slid past him to climb into the limo, she accidentally brushed his sleeve, and the fabric felt like a cloud against her skin. He’d smelled of pine and soap and something…darker...a rich spice she couldn’t identify.
Lizette knew right away that he wasn’t human. There was something other about him. At fifteen, she’d been old enough to see through a disguise, even a convincing one. As soon as the door closed, she’d blurted, “Are you human?”
Her heart had pounded so hard her chest had hurt. “Will you hurt me?”
“Never. I promise you.”
“Are you…” She thought back to the stash of vampire novels she kept hidden under her bed at her foster parents’ house. “Are you immortal?”
“I’m afraid not.”
Disappointment washed over her...followed by renewed curiosity.
“How old are you, then?”
“Twenty-seven.” She must have looked surprised, because he smiled.
“You expected me to be older?”
“If you’re not human, then what are you?” He spoke perfect English, but he had an accent…something refined and Old World. It curled around her brain like a lazy cat. She caught herself leaning toward him, hoping he’d speak again.
“Ah.” He looked thoughtful for a minute. “What do you think I am, petite?”
He tapped on the glass dividing the back seat from the front, and the car rumbled to life and slid into traffic. When he turned back to her, his light blue eyes were different. Sharper. “What if I told you that you and I are the same…”
Sitting behind his desk now, Max looked exactly as he had in the courtroom nine years ago. Knowing what she did today, Lizette knew he’d look more or less the same for the rest of his long life.
His face was aristocratic and refined—his patrician nose set between straight black eyebrows. He wore his thick black hair brushed back from a broad, unlined forehead, and his jaw was shadowed by what looked like several days’growth of beard. But his light blue eyes were his most arresting feature. Pale as a spring sky, they focused on her as if she was the only creature on earth.
He was the only wolf she knew whose eyes changed very little between forms. To notice any difference, a person had to be standing toe-to-toe with him.
Or kissing him.
Her breath hitched. She realized she was staring and dropped her gaze to the thick patterned carpet. Shit. First she challenged Dom. Now she just challenged Max.
With Dom, she’d breached protocol because she was angry. This time she hadn’t even realized she was doing it.
“Sit,” Max said, his voice curt. He remained seated as she approached the leather chairs in front of his desk. That didn’t surprise her. Alphas stood for no one—especially this Alpha.
She perched on the edge of one of the chairs, her gaze on the space near his right shoulder. He sat with his elbows on the desk, studying her.
He’d rolled back the long sleeves of his starched white button-down, revealing muscled forearms sprinkled with black hairs. The casual style should have made him look less intimidating, but it did the opposite.
She felt his gaze wander across her body, its heat like a spotlight against her skin. All thoughts of controlling her heart rate fled—the meditation she practiced during the drive scattering like a flock of birds.
As if drawn by a magnet, she locked gazes with him again. The back of her neck tingled as they stared at each other. If he felt anything in the soft skin of his right thumb, he gave no indication.
After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, he let his wolf creep into his eyes. “You think to challenge me?” he asked softly, sounding merely curious.
She lowered her gaze to his collarbone. “No.”
His chair creaked as he leaned back. “You’ve been too long in the human world. You forget our ways.”
“So I’ve heard,” she muttered. The thing was, it was true when Dom said it. This time, though, she hadn’t forgotten. Normally the wolf’s instinct kicked inand compelled her to drop her gaze whenever a more dominant wolf was around. Max was the most dominant wolf in any room, which meant her instinct should have been firing on all cylinders. But it had deserted her just now.
For a brief moment she’d forgotten to avoid staring directly into his eyes. She was surprised she was able to maintain eye contact as long as she had. Apparently the usual rules didn’t apply to them.
“Well,” he continued, “we shall remedy that now that you’re here.”
She cleared her throat. “Since you brought it up, I’d actually like to know why I’m here.”
He rose and walked to the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the gorge a hundred feet below. The windows took up the entire wall—a feature that repeated across most of the rear of the Lodge, which had been built to take advantage of the area’s natural beauty. The wall behind his desk displayed a large map of the United States and Canada. Instead of showing the usual boundary lines, however, it was sectioned into sixty territories—each marked with a capital no human would have recognized. They sat in the New York Territory which, predictably, included all of New York. Unlike the human version, Max’s domain extended all the way north to Quebec.
She tore her gaze away from the map. She didn’t need another reminder of his power. It was literally in the room with her, almost like an aura shining around him. She’d never felt it so strongly before. All high-ranking wolves oozed power, but most wielded incredible control over it. If they chose, they could also mute their power so it wasn’t so obnoxious.
Was he displaying his on purpose to intimidate her? But no, displays weren’t really Max’s style. He was far too subtle for that.
“How are your headaches?” he asked without turning around.
She closed her eyes. “Fine.”
“I can smell your lie from here.”
It was impossible to reply without telling the truth—or getting caught in another lie—so she clamped her mouth shut. She had a feeling he was going to say whatever he wanted to say anyway.
“You’ve lost weight.”
She gritted her teeth. “In the human world, that’s generally considered a good thing. Women are always trying to lose weight.”
“You’re not a human.” He rolled his neck on his shoulders, the movement drawing her gaze. She’d forgotten how big he was. Even if he wasn’t an Alpha, he’d still command any room he entered, and not just because of his physical size. The fabric of his shirt stretched tight over powerful shoulders and a broad back that tapered to lean hips. Her stare sank lower…until she realized where it was headed and tore her eyes away.
What was she doing?
She must have made a sound, because he turned away from the window. She had his full attention now.
Crap, crap, crap.
She pressed her damp palms against her jeans as his denim-clad legs appeared before her. He stopped in front of his desk, his body inches from hers. A warm hand lifted her chin and kept lifting her, gently pulling her to her feet.
Her heart threatened to leap out of her chest. He tipped her chin up. He’d stuffed his wolf down so deep, he appeared as a normal man—or as normal as Maxime Simard would ever get. In a blink, his demeanor changed. The wolf bled from his eyes, and his gaze dipped to her mouth. They were no longer speaking Alpha-to-subject. This was something entirely different.
She knew this Max. He was more terrifying than the Alpha.
“You want to know why I called you back.” He made it a statement.
She swallowed. “Yes.”
His eyes glittered. “That’s easy. I wanted to speak with my wife.”
Q: Where did you get the inspiration to write What a Wolf Desires?
A: I’ve always loved urban fantasy that incorporates romance. I devoured Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. They both write strong heroines who aren’t afraid to tell overbearing Alphas when to tone it down—or take a hike. That’s what I like about Maxime in What a Wolf Desires. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice how much he respects Lizette. He doesn’t want to control her. If anything, he revels in seeing her in control.
Q: Is What a Wolf Desires your first book?
A: It’s my second book. I published a book called Ivar’s Prize with a small but respected publisher in 2017. I’ve since republished it under my own publishing name, along with a third book—a contemporary romance called Never Say I Love You.
Q: After being traditionally published, what made you decide to go indie?
A: Time, lol. I’ve had three manuscripts go to an acquisition committee at well-known romance publishing houses, and it’s a very slow process. The wait to hear back has always been six months or more, and that’s on top of waiting for an editor to read your work and ask if you’re okay with them submitting it to the acquisition team. Once you get a contract, it can take another six months to publish your book. I decided I’d rather spend that time writing. Self-publishing has been so liberating. I love working directly with editors and cover designers. When you’re in control of everything, you feel very connected to each book.
Q: What’s your writing process like?
A: I try to write every day. Even if it’s just a couple hundred words. I’m usually good for about 2,000 words per writing session. I also avoid the temptation to edit as I go. That process probably doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s the best method for me. If I let myself go back and self-edit all the time, I’d never finish a book. It’s very true that everyone has their own style of writing.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A: Write every day. It also helps to have a way to organize your work. I love Scrivener, and I know many other writers do, too. It helps you focus on individual scenes, which means you don’t feel overwhelmed by the whole story at once. At the same time, you can get a visual of the big picture, because all of your scenes are visible along the left side of your program. You can drag and move them around. That’s something you can’t do very easily in a word processing program.
Q: Will Max and Lizette get a sequel?
A: I plan to write some scenes for them, which I’ll put in my monthly newsletter. But for now I’m focusing on finishing Remy’s book, What a Wolf Dares. I have a soft spot in my heart for Remy. I’m really excited to share his story. Then I’ll move on to Dom’s book. I can’t wait for Dom’s world to get turned upside down. He needs a little adventure in his life.
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
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Amy Pennza has been a lawyer, a soldier, and a copywriter. Although she liked the first two well enough, she decided writing romance is the job she loves best. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and two demanding animals. You can visit her at amypennza.com.
Website – http://www.amypennza.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AmyPennzaAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmyPennza
THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY, AMY! I REALLY ENJOYED OUR Q&A SESSION! HOPE TO SEE YOU AGAIN SOON!
READERS, THANKS FOR VISITING! I HOPE YOU ENJOYED SPENDING TIME WITH AMY PENNZA & THAT YOU FOUND A NEW TREASURE (OH I’M SORRY I MEANT BOOK) FOR YOUR SHELVES!
I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.
I recently read and reviewed Rachel Walkley’s first novel The Women of Heachley Hall and enjoyed it so much that I had to check her second novel as soon as it became available. And I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.
This is the story of three sisters, twins Rebecca and Leia, as different as two sisters can be (or perhaps not), and younger sister Naomi. Their parents move to the US when the youngest sister is in her late teens and she refuses to go with them. Rebecca becomes her ersatz mother (Nancy, their mother, does not seem particularly close to any of them, although perhaps that is the sisters’ impression) and eventually Leia also moves to the US to work on her medical research.
The three sisters are gifted, although they all have trouble dealing with their gifts, which are very different. Rebecca gives up her career as a lawyer to take refuge at home, bringing up her children and looking after her husband and the house; Naomi, a talented flute player, loves to perform but does not feel confident and dedicates most of her life to teaching music to children; Leia has a big brain and dedicates her efforts to useful research, but hates the limelight and would prefer all the credit to go to her team. Their grandmother, the member of the family that managed to get them all together with her traditional birthday celebration, also had a gift, but most people dismissed her birthday predictions as an eccentricity. When Rebecca starts investigating her grandmother’s past pronouncements —for very personal reasons—, she gets a big surprise.
The story is told in the third person from different points of view, mostly those of the sisters, although we get some glimpses into other characters’ minds as well, and in chronological order for the most part. There are some short chapters that go back to show us past events (there are no lengthy explanations or “telling” in the novel), and these flow logically from the narrative. For example, if Naomi is thinking about the relationship with her parents, her memory might go back to how she had felt when her parents decided to leave the country. It is a great way of layering the background story of the characters without disrupting the action for too long, and it also helps us understand where the characters are coming from, and their reasons for being the people they are. Each chapter and fragment is clearly labelled with the character’s name and the date, and it is not an effort to follow the story, as it flows naturally, at a sometimes wandering but engaging pace.
There are some descriptions of places and locations, but these are limited to what is necessary to tell the story and to allow readers to see it. The story is more interested in the psychological makeup of these characters, and the author does a great work of making us understand them in their own terms. We see each protagonist from her sisters’ point of view first, but on later seeing things from their perspective, we get a completely different picture of them. By the end of the story I was attached to all of the characters, even the ones that at first I was not sure about. And although not all the characters are sympathetic, the novel is not judgmental about any of them, giving them the benefit of the doubt.
I particularly enjoyed the character of Rose, the grandmother, the passages about Naomi’s playing and her thoughts about it (if you read the author’s note at the end you’ll understand why these scenes appear so vivid), and grew very fond of Leia and Howard. That is not to say I don’t like Rebecca and the rest of the chapters from Naomi’s perspective, but perhaps because they are the ones we get to know first, we are on their side from the beginning, and the rest of the characters came as a revelation much later on. There are secrets and lies, but none are Earth-shattering or beyond most reader’s expectations and experiences, and they do not require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, even the paranormal elements. There is mystery, but the strongest element of the story is the relationship between the three sisters and how they all become more their individual selves by working together and protecting each other.
The novel is both easy to read and beautifully written, and the ending… No, I won’t give you details, but let’s say I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did. Definitely a feel-good story.
A book I recommend to anybody who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction, optimistic stories about family relationships with a touch of the paranormal, and who are eager to discover a new and talented writer.