April 18

Claw Cover

“claw” anthology with Eli Easton’s novella “The Black Dog”

Published by Dreamspinner Press Apr 13, 2015

BUY ON THE PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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Reviews & Blog Posts for “claw”:

My desktop post with the images that inspired this story

Eli’s guest post on Dreamspinner blog — “The Beast Must Be Loved” 

4 flowers My Fiction Nook — “…this one had me guessing until the reveal at the end. This story also has the most romantic setting (hello, Scotland!), best slow burn, and strongest epilogue.”

5 stars for “The Black Dog” Love Bytes Reviews — “I was completely blown away by this story.”

5 stars Prism Book Alliance — “…the relationship between the two MCs never feels rushed or forced and the mystery concerning the Black Dog had plenty of twists and a great surprise.”

gothika: Volume Three 

Beasts lurk in the shadows of wild and forgotten places and in the hearts and souls of men. They are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, but are they feral and savage, or just misunderstood? Creatures of myth and legend stalk these tales of dark desire and animal passions. Three men come face-to-face with such creatures and find they are much more than they seem. While there is danger, there might be unexpected benefits as well, if they can accept the impossible and dare to venture into the primordial regions where nature and the beasts still reign. Three acclaimed authors of gay romance explore the boundaries between man and beast and the place where their worlds overlap.

The Black Dog by Eli Easton
Constable Hayden MacLairty is used to life being dull around the tiny hamlet of Laide on the north Scottish coast. They get occasional tourists, “monster hunters” interested in the local legend of the Black Dog, but Hayden thinks that’s only a myth. A rash of sheep killings, a murdered hiker, huge footprints, and sightings of the Black Dog force Hayden to rethink the matter. With the help of Simon Corto, a writer from New York doing research for a book about the Black Dog, Hayden tries to figure out why the enormous hound is reappearing. Hayden finds himself strongly attracted to another person for the first time in his life. But between the danger stalking the hills, Simon’s inevitable return to New York, and Hayden’s mother’s illness, true love may be more of a phantom than the Black Dog.
Isolation by Jamie Fessenden
When Sean’s marriage breaks up, he returns to his hometown, hoping to find the childhood friend who meant everything to him in his teens. He finds Jack living in a cabin, surrounded by the forest he always loved, and the two begin to tentatively repair their damaged relationship. But a large animal has been seen prowling around the edge of town, and soon Sean comes face-to-face with the beast. Jack insists the creature isn’t dangerous—it’s been coming around the cabin for years. It isn’t long, however, before Sean discovers a far more disturbing connection between his friend and the beast.

Transformation by Kim Fielding
After being caught in bed with another male student in 1886, Orris Spencer is declared an abomination by his wealthy father. Orris is promptly banished from their Fifth Avenue mansion and sent across the continent to Oregon. Now Orris must try to find a place for himself on his brother’s farm and figure out how to deal with life as a pioneer. When he’s called on to help protect the livestock from a predator, he’s not at all certain he’s up to the task. Then he meets Henry Bonn, a strange and intriguing man who lives in a cabin in the hills. Orris’s attraction to Henry may not be an abomination—but it may prove a greater danger than banishment.

EXCERPT:

1

“I’m tellin’ ye, it was the Black Dog. Now what the hell are ye gonna do about it, Hayden MacLairty?”

The dead sheep, all four of them, made a grisly spectacle on what remained of the green summer grass. All of them had their throats crushed and bloodied, and two had their stomachs torn open, too, inviting flies to the feast. Hayden couldn’t quite wrap his head around it.

There were no bears or wolves in Scotland. A vicious pet or zoo animal might have gotten loose. Or perhaps it was a pack of stray dogs that had gone rogue. But what would kill four sheep and not feed? The animals were not so much eaten as displayed.

Hayden knelt down by one of the disemboweled sheep, trying to get a closer look at its wound. It looked torn, as from claws or teeth, not cut with a knife.

“I’ll take ’em to the vet in Ullapool. See if he can tell me anythin’ about what done this.”

“I told ye what done this! It was the Black Dog!”

Hayden straightened up to his full height, not averse to using his size to shut up Dylan Mitchell. Dylan was one of many colorful characters in Hayden’s precinct. He drank, and he saw things, and normally Hayden could ignore his wild stories. But not today, not with four dead sheep.

“Now you listen here, Dylan. There ain’t no such thing as the Black Dog.”

“I seen it! Why, just two nights ago—”

“And whatever killed your sheep is real, not some supernatural phantom, and that means I’ve gotta catch it. I’m not likely to catch it if I’m wastin’ my time lookin’ for spooks.”

Dylan’s face clouded with anger. “Ye don’t never listen to me, Hayden. But I know what I saw. Seen that thing five times now, the first time when I was nigh on ten year old, and there weren’t no liquor involved then. And I drink plenty without seein’ the damn thing. When I see it, it’s because it’s there. So what’re ye gonna do about it, hey? I can’t afford to lose four head.”

“I’ll post watch for a couple of nights,” Hayden agreed reluctantly. “I’m not arguin’ with you. We gotta find this thing.” And if you didn’t get drunk as a lord every night, you could watch your land your own damn self.

“’Course we do! My sheep one night, maybe my wife the next…! I wanna know what yer gonna do about that monster.”

“Now, Dyl, it won’ do a lick of good to berate the man.” Laith Mitchell spoke up, thank heaven. She was a good woman with a heck of a lot more sense than her husband.

“How ’bout you?” Hayden asked her. “You seen any animal in these parts that might have done this?”

She shook her head regretfully. “No, Hayden. The O’Ryan’s lab goes wanderin’ from time to time, but he’s gentle as a kitten. Ain’t seen nothin’ else.”

Dylan glowered harder.

“Right, then. I’ll just load ’em up.” Not for the first time, Hayden wished he had a subordinate to give such menial work to. He spread out plastic bags in the back of his Land Rover that was marked with the cheery yellow and blue check of the Scottish police. Then he hauled the heavy, bloody sheep into the boot. He had to drive them over an hour each way to Ullapool. But anything that ever had to be done, Hayden did himself. He was the only constable in the small hamlet of Laide and its surrounds. He covered a territory of nearly a hundred miles square, and he himself was the entire breadth and width of the law here. He might call in help if there was real trouble, but not for sheep. And decidedly not for a phantom black dog.

 

 

It was nearly dark when Hayden got back to Laide. He passed the Black Dog pub. There was a strange car in the lot, a rental, so apparently Angus had tourists in. Hopefully, they were there for the night and not just a meal. It was a good day when Angus could let out one of his upstairs rooms.

Maybe Dylan would show up at the pub tonight and spout off about the Black Dog. Nothing like a little local color to give the monster-hunters that chill up the spine. The wild northern end of Scotland was popular with long-distance cyclists and the occasional hardy hiker. But the few who stopped in the tiny hamlet of Laide had the legend in mind.

Hayden sighed. How he’d love to put up his tired feet at the pub and have a pint. But he had other obligations.