Nope, not at all. It was a BLAST.
It made complete sense to me that my heroine, Valkyrie archaeologist Lorin Schlessinger, wears the steel-toed boots in this relationship. After all, given Valkyries’ hyperactive adrenal systems, “food, fight, f*ck” is a biological imperative. She fights for fun, eats what she wants, and sleeps with whomever she pleases—and her partners are damn pleased in return. Her professional nemesis, by-the-book werewolf geologist Gabe Lupinsky, on the other hand? Gabe’s a city boy through and through, who appreciates fine dining and theatre tickets, who thinks casual Fridays are an abomination, and who’s slowly but surely losing his eyesight. He’s also Lorin’s temporary boss while theirs is on sabbatical, and when she screws up big-time, he’s dispatched to the remote, northern Minnesota archaeological dig she’s working to supply some urgently needed supervision:
“Is that all you got? You fight like a girl,” Gabe heard a male voice taunt. “C’mon, baby, show me some sweetness.”
After a second of silence, he heard a higher berserker’s yell—female—followed by the sound of flesh hitting flesh.
Gabe’s skin crawled. His brain skittered to scenes from every horror flick he’d ever seen. Reaching into the backseat of his car, he grabbed the first likely-looking weapon—weenie-roasting sticks—and broke into a run.
Where the hell was Sebastiani? Gabe pounded his way through the pine trees in his driving loafers, shoving at the branches slapping his face and torso, coming to an abrupt halt when he reached a grassy clearing about the size of a basketball court.
Lorin was under attack, all right—but if the unholy grin on her face was anything to go by, she was enjoying herself immensely.
He loosened his grip on the weenie roasting sticks. Gabe didn’t recognize the man Lorin was sparring with, but he’d found Lukas Sebastiani. The big man stood at the edge of the clearing, watching the fight with an amused—and relieved?—look on his face. His brother Rafe stood at his side, cheering Lorin on with clear partisanship.
His temper spiked. Gabe wasn’t as jacked in to the Underworld Council grapevine as his sisters were, but even he knew that Lorin Schlessinger and Rafe Sebastiani were lovers. If he had to deal with incubi pheromones stinking the place up all summer long, he was definitely going to demand hazard pay.
Looking at Rafe’s long, blond hair, his aristocratic features, the wicked grin, and the old-school aviator sunglasses that Gabe longed to be able to wear… of course Lorin was sleeping with him. The incubus was a physical ideal, and if his outrageous reputation was anything to go by, he pretty much slept with whomever he wanted.
So why sleep with Lorin Schlessinger?
Okay, that wasn’t quite fair. Despite her ferocious expression—teeth bared, a fresh scrape on her chin—Lorin was far from ugly. If pressed, Gabe would have to admit that, yeah, Lorin’s body was pretty much a physical ideal—if one’s physical ideal ran along the lines of Amazonian beach volleyball players, and his usually did not. He preferred the women he dated to be smaller, more feminine, and definitely better groomed. When Lorin deigned to attend department meetings, arriving late more often than not, her streaky blond hair usually looked like she’d just stalked out of the ocean with a surfboard tucked under her arm. Never mind that they were landlocked.
The man’s bare heel connected with Lorin’s right cheekbone. Gabe winced as her head snapped back at the impact. How could Rafe stand to watch this?
On the other hand, how could he resist? Lorin was stripped down to clingy black leggings, a sports bra that should have been ugly but wasn’t, and nothing else. Her taut, bare stomach was coated with mud, and he sucked in his own in response. She had better defined abs than he did. Time to get back to the gym.
Except there was no gym here, at the ass end of nowhere.
His breath caught as she tripped on a rock jutting out of the ground. The man capitalized, diving on top of her as she fell.
“Damn you, Chico,” Lorin growled, twisting her face out of the mud.
Rafe tipped his head back and hooted. “He’s got you now, babe.”
“As if.” Teeth gritted, Lorin scrabbled onto her elbows and threw the man off her body with a bump and grind of her tightly muscled butt.
Gabe swallowed and pushed his glasses further up his nose. Chico. Must be Chico Perez. Perez, a werewolf, was a Sebastiani Security operative. His brother Gideon had mentioned working with him to apprehend Annika Fontaine’s killer last year.
Lorin crowed as she maneuvered Chico onto his back, pinning him to the ground with her body weight. Though he was as scraped and muddy as Lorin, Perez looked like he was having the time of his life. He squirmed a little for form’s sake, but it was clear the fight was over.
“Draw?” Chico wheezed.
“As if,” Lorin replied without heat, flopping off of him. Lying side by side on their backs in the muddy grass, they sucked in air.
Was that what she looked like after—No. He was in tough shape if he was thinking about Lorin Schlessinger and sex at the same time. And even if he, in some alternate universe, considered the option? Lorin worked for him now, and she was so far out of his league that it wasn’t even funny.
“Hey, Gabe.” Lukas came over, extending his hand.
Lorin sat up. “Lupinsky.” She spat his name like dirt was in her mouth. “What the hell are you doing here?”
Gabe glanced at Lukas, who shook his head no with an apologetic expression on his face.
Damn it. He looked at Lorin. “I’m your new site manager.”
Do you prefer alpha heroes, beta heroes, or heroes who are a delicious mixture of both? Tell us why! Today we’ll be giving away a copy of CHASE ME to two lucky commenters! (US and Canada only, please.)
Early praise for CHASE ME!
“Hogan’s sharp, funny dialogue and strong but subtle character development elevate both the story and the fierce chemistry between insecure, bespectacled Gabe and lusty, aggressive Lorin. Paranormal fans will enjoy this fresh take on the genre.” — Publishers Weekly
Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives near Minneapolis with her partner Mark and two naughty cats. When she's not telecommuting as a quality and process engineer for a global networking company, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. A feral reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots. Her debut, Taste Me, was a 2009 Daphne Paranormal Winner and 2009 Golden Heart Finalist. For more information, please visit http://www.tamarahogan.com/ or follow her on Twitter, @TamaraHogan1.