Today I am so pleased to welcome Meghan Maslow to Joyfully Jay. Meghan has come to talk to us about her latest release, A Cobra’s Charm (part of DSP’s Daily Dose: A Walk on the Wild Side anthology). She has also brought along an excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Meghan a big welcome!
Thanks for hosting me today, Jay! It’s a pleasure to be here.
“A Cobra’s Charm” is my very first m/m romance and I’m thrilled to finally see it out in the world. If you would have asked me ten years ago whether my first romance publication would be a m/m shifter romance, I would have called you crazy.
I became a romance fan as a teen in the late 80’s—and yes, I know I am dating myself—on a trip to NYC with my mom. I had managed to leave all my fantasy and sci-fi books at home in a forgotten stack on my bedside table.
At fifteen-years-old, I had never read a romance novel. But I was desperate. Because even on a trip to NYC—where my very cool mom let me wear a pair of leather pants that Joan Collins would have envied and took me to see “Cats” on Broadway—I needed a good read to unwind with before bed.
The hotel we were staying at had a gift shop with lots of romance books. ‘Bleh,’ I thought to myself. Why would anyone read romance? Then I ran across Johanna Lindsey’s “Hearts Aflame.” It was Fabio’s first cover. Remember, I was fifteen. He had long hair and muscles. It was about Vikings. It should have been under a spotlight because all other titles faded into obscurity.
I bought it. Devoured it. And have been a romance fan ever since. (I kid you not, I still have my original copy even after a dozen moves and I can’t bear to part with it. I’m sentimental like that. Someday it will probably accompany me to the rest home).
By the time I was in my twenties, I was convinced that I would write a romance novel. An historical m/f romance that would move the Earth. I’d have legions of fans, oodles of cash, and would hobnob with the rich and famous.
Then life happened. I went to grad school, moved overseas, got a highly demanding job, married, started a family. I did eventually start writing publishable pieces. Just not in romance. And definitely not historicals—turns out, I have absolutely no sense of history. None. Huh. Who knew?
By this time, I was reading primarily mystery and suspense with the occasional romance or fantasy novel thrown in for good measure, so it’s no wonder I started there (under another pen name). Thrillers, in particular, were popular in many countries I’d lived and/or worked in, so I was always picking one up.
I’m skimming over many years, but let’s just say it’s been a long road to come back to writing romance, much less m/m romance. M/m romance was a happy accident. And believe it or not, I owe “Fifty Shades of Grey” a debt there. I’d read the book and all the subsequent harsh critiques of the way it portrayed BDSM. Not knowing much about BDSM, I decided to read an author that many people cited as writing BDSM well: Joey W. Hill. I began reading random books by her and ran across “Rough Canvas.” To this day, it is still my absolute favorite m/m romance. I’ve read it over and over. Could eat it up with a spoon. It will have to be pried out of my cold, dead hands because that’s the only way someone will take it from me. Seriously.
Anyway, I started reading m/m romance. Loved it. I’ve always been an avid fiction reader as well as a writer, so I threw myself into reading as many m/m as I could get my greedy hands on. At the time, it hadn’t occurred to me to try writing a romance, gay or otherwise. I was firmly in mystery/suspense. But ideas kept popping into my head and I kept ignoring them, while continuing to read gay romance.
Most of us have favorite tropes. Mine happens to be enemies to lovers. L-O-V-E it. So, when I saw the Dreamspinner Press call for shifter stories, I was intrigued. Hmmm. How about a Honey Badger and a Cobra? I certainly loved the Honey Badger Don’t Care video—if you’ve never watched it I highly recommend you Google it—and for a moment assumed I’d write something campy that would play on Honey Badger Don’t Care.
When the story coalesced, it took a different turn and Jiri (Cobra) and Miksa (Honey Badger) were born. It was one of those stories that came to me in one fell swoop. No kidding. Complete story in my head. I just had to get out of my way and let my fingers go to it on the keyboard. After having written this story I can definitely say that while Jiri and Miksa were my first gay MCs and my first romance, they definitely won’t be my last.
Jiri hurried down the hallway toward his cell, wishing to bathe Demetrius’s stink off his skin. Unlike the rest of the shifters, who used a communal bath, Jiri had his own claw-foot tub, complete with gold spigots, and even a silk privacy screen. Demetrius didn’t do things halfway.
The arena entertainment had excited Demetrius, and he’d used Jiri harder than usual. He had the bruises to prove it. Jiri hated himself for not refusing Demetrius’s advances, even though he learned long ago life was easier if he said yes. And he had always been afraid of what would happen if he said no. At least Demetrius was quick and the sex not particularly painful. Yet what would it feel like with someone who cared for his pleasure? Who cared for him?
He was so focused on getting to his chamber he failed to see the hand that snagged his arm and hurled him face-first into the wall. The air whooshed from his lungs, and he would have fallen if a strong body hadn’t pressed against him.
“Going somewhere, Jiri?” Orin’s harsh breath ghosted over his face, and Jiri flinched. “Nice dancing last night. Our own sweet harem girl.”
“L-let me go, Orin. You know you cannot touch me. Demetrius would kill you.” This much was true, though Jiri was terrified what Demetrius would do to him too, if he knew.
“He doesn’t have to know,” the hyena said, as if reading Jiri’s mind. “Who’s going to tell him? You? We both know that won’t happen.”
Before Jiri could scream, Orin forced a piece of cloth into his mouth and twisted his arm behind him. Jiri struggled, except Orin was so much bigger that he had little hope of escape. His pants tore as the hyena ripped them from his hips, then the big guard reached his hand between them to work on his own ties. Jiri cried out, but who would hear?
“I suggest you let him go,” a deep voice rumbled. “He might not say anything. However, you can be sure I will.”
Orin froze, as did Jiri. When Orin spun around, Jiri slipped from his grasp and huddled against the wall, unable to make an escape. He yanked the gag from his mouth and dragged up what was left of his pants, his chest heaving with fear and need for air. Looking into the gloom, Jiri saw a pair of sable eyes, a fiercely masculine face behind enclosure bars. The honey badger.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Daily Dose package “A Walk on the Wild Side.”
Jiri’s life has been one misery after the next. A cobra shifter, he’s held captive by a collector who keeps him—and other shifters—in a private harem-style “zoo” in the Libyan desert. Considered a dangerous predator by the other shifters, and little more than a boy toy to the collector, Jiri is friendless, timid, and despondent.
Miksa is the collector’s latest find. But honey badgers are known for their bad attitude, fearlessness, and fighting spirit. Miksa has no doubt he’ll escape, even if it means taking the whole zoo down with him.
When honey badger and cobra meet, there should be instant enmity—after all, honey badgers eat cobras—yet both men find themselves oddly drawn to the other. Romance blossoms, but can it survive captivity and beyond? In order to do so, Jiri will have to find a strength he doesn’t know he possesses and Miksa will have to open a heart long closed to anyone except his immediate family.
You can find “A Cobra’s Charm” at any of these fine retailers:
Her initials say it all. . .
Meghan Maslow is truly a rare breed. No, not a unicorn (although that would be sooo cool). She’s a. . . gasp!. . . extroverted writer. It may seem counterintuitive that as someone who is energized by people, she spends most of her time alone. Yet, that’s the case. And she doesn’t mind.
If she gets writers block or starts to go a little stir crazy, she heads to a coffee shop, a restaurant, a friend’s place—anywhere to fill up her need for human contact. It also helps that she spends a lot of time with the voices in her head. Some of them are really quite opinionated.
She loves writing gay romance because she’s a sap for a happy ending, and she believes everyone—regardless of orientation—should be able to find books that have them.
She believes life is for living, kindness is contagious, and a good book makes the world a better place. She loves travel, reading, world music, Moscow Mules, awkward dancing, dreadlocks, her family, and um. . . writing.
Connect with Meghan:
Meghan has brought two $10 gift certificates to either Amazon or All Romance Ebooks to give away to two lucky Joyfully Jay readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday June 17th at 11:59 pm EST.
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