How to Howl at the Moon
How to Howl at the Moon
Published by Pinkerton Road, Feb 28, 2015
An audiobook version of this title is NOW AVAILABLE.
Blog Posts & Reviews:
Guest Post “The Dog Shifters of Mad Creek” on Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
Guest Post “My Favorite Shifters” on The Novel Approach
Guest Post: Interview with Audiobook Narrator Michael Shaw on Scattered Thoughts And Rogue Words.
5+ stars Reviewsbyjessewave.com — “This is one I can HIGHLY recommend for it’s emotion, originality and kick ass romance. You’re gonna get the ooey, gooey, puddle of mush feeling.”
5 stars Reviewsbyjessewave (for the audio book) — “Matthew Shaw is a new narrator, but don’t let that make you hesitate before picking this up – he was absolutely fantastic. Eli Easton has created a not-so-typical shifter story that’s sweet, funny, hot…and just emotional enough.”
4.5 stars for the audiobook Scattered Thoughts And Rogue Words — “I loved the dialogue, I found myself laughing so much and was never bored.
5 stars Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews – “All I can say is WOOF!!! If I had a tail it would be wagging like mad right now just because this book made me feel all warm and yappy…oops I mean happy.”
4.5 stars MM Good Book Reviews — “This book was so hilarious, exactly what I’ve come to expect from Eli Easton.”
5 stars The Novel Approach — “It will capture your attention and hold it firmly until the last page, although you will probably smile at random memories for a few days after you have read it, because that is another skill that this author has – her words stay with you.”
6/5 hearts The Kimichan Experience — “You know that since it’s Eli Easton, the writing is impeccable. The sex is hot. The emotion is deep and abiding. And the humor is sharp and witty.”
4.5 stars Joyfully Jay — “How to Howl at the Moon just blew me away with the clever premise and the really fascinating world building.”
Agony Tate review — “It’s been a very long time since I’ve read something so light hearted and good natured as this book.”
Rainbow Book Reviews — “I love the idea of a new and different shifter world, but as soon as I started reading and got a feel for the great sense of humor on top of wonderful characters and some truly inventive shifter dynamics, I was hooked.”
4.5 stars Love Bytes Reviews — “What a delightful, refreshing story.”
6/5 Hearts Kimichan Experience (AUDIO BOOK REVIEW) — “[Matthew Shaw’s] voice is rich and flowing, with the right amount of emotion and “acting”. I really enjoyed listening to this story and will be listening to it again and again!”
B+ Review Gaylist – A fantastic shifter story full of love and sweetness that had me hooked from the first pages.”
Sheriff Lance Beaufort is not going to let trouble into his town, no sir. Tucked away in the California mountains, Mad Creek has secrets to keep, like the fact that half the town consists of ‘quickened’—dogs who have gained the ability to become human. Descended on both sides from Border Collies, Lance is as alert a guardian as they come.
Tim Weston is looking for a safe haven. After learning that his boss patented all of Tim’s work on vegetable hybrids in his own name, Tim quit his old job. A client offers him use of her cabin in Mad Creek, and Tim sees a chance for a new start. But the shy gardener has a way of fumbling and sounding like a liar around strangers, particularly gorgeous alpha men like Sheriff Beaufort.
Lance’s hackles are definitely raised by the lanky young stranger. He’s concerned about marijuana growers moving into Mad Creek, and he’s not satisfied with the boy’s story. Lance decides a bit of undercover work is called for. When Tim hits a beautiful black collie with his car and adopts the dog, its love at first sight for both Tim and Lance’s inner dog. Pretending to be a pet is about to get Sheriff Beaufort in very hot water.
This is the first book in my “Howl at the Moon” series. “Howl at the Moon” is a romantic comedy series featuring dog shifters and a little town tucked away in the California mountains called Mad Creek. Each book in the series will have a different main love story, but feature the town and its crazy characters.
“I’M TELLIN’’ you, the woman was a paragon! A saint! An angel come to Earth!” The old bulldog’s cheeks quivered with emotion. The sadness in his big brown eyes was nearly irresistible. “She fed me for ten years, handed me the choicest morsels from her own plate!”
Sheriff Lance Beaufort grounded his feet more firmly on the floor beneath the diner’s table, calling upon his patience. “I’m sure she was a wonderful woman.”
Gus blinked bleary eyes at him. “Oh, she was! I slept at the foot of her bed every night. We were never apart, except a few times a week when her daughter would take her to church, and even then she always brought me home something special to make up for it. A box of fresh peanut butter treats, perhaps. Or a slice of cake from the church potluck.”
“I know it’s a terrible loss,” Lance said.
He did know, intellectually. But he didn’t really understand. He’d never bonded with a human himself, and certainly he’d never had to survive the death of someone he was bonded to. He signaled Daisy for more coffee, ready to move the conversation along. Normally his mother transitioned the new arrivals, but she’d had a birthing to attend this morning.
“Now, Gus, we need to talk about your situation here in Mad Creek.”
“But I don’t know what to do! I never had to work a day in my life. Mother always took care of me. And now there’s… there’s rent. And food! I should hate to starve.”
“It seems overwhelming now, but we’ll help you. You can stay at Mable’s for the time being and take your meals here.”
“Is there a job I can do? I don’t move as fast as when I was a pup, but my ears and bark are still razor sharp, and I make an excellent companion, truly I do.”
Despite Gus’s sincere and eager words, Lance thought he looked more suited to sleeping on the couch than working a job. “We’ll find you something. For now, just get used to the town and the pack. Enjoy yourself.”
Gus smiled. He was a simple soul, Lance deduced, not one to hang on to his troubles.
Inwardly, Lance sighed. Gus wasn’t the first newly quickened dog to show up in town, and he wouldn’t be the last. It was a common story. Gus hadn’t been born with the ability to take human form. But he’d been so beloved by his owner that he’d gotten the spark. His owner, an old woman, had died. Her relatives, clueless that Gus was no longer merely a dog, had taken him to the pound. Only through great fortune had he escaped and made his way to Mad Creek. Now he was….
Looking at Gus, Lance felt the instinctual pull. Now Gus was pack. Which meant he was Lance’s responsibility.
Daisy brought their breakfasts—eggs and toast for Lance and the breakfast special for Gus complete with eggs, sausage, ham, and toast. She winked at Lance as she put the platters down, a conspiratorial acknowledgment of the extras she’d heaped on Gus’s plate, and his expression of pure joy when he saw all the food.
“Oh, heavens! Oh, goodness, that looks yummy,” Gus enthused.
“Can I get you anything else?” Daisy asked as Gus began to attack his meal in a surprisingly delicate way. “Hon, you want some ketchup or hot sauce with that?” Gus shook his head, his mouth full.
“You, Sheriff?” Daisy smiled at Lance warmly.
“No thanks. I’m—”
His words dried up as instinct overwhelmed him. He felt the presence of a stranger two seconds before the bell over the front door jangled. He perked up—intent.
A guy stood holding open the diner’s glass door. He looked around the room, ran into Lance’s focused stare, and looked away again with a self-conscious wince. He let the door close, wandered over to the counter with his head down, and took a seat.
The stranger was young—probably early twenties. He was tall and gangly, had long floppy brown hair with bangs that slanted over his eyes and ends that curled up into an outright flip at his collar. His face was pale and tired, and he appeared… nervous. Add in jeans, a jean jacket, and T-shirt, all of which had seen better decades, and Lance felt a touch of unease stirring in his belly. He wasn’t a fan of strangers in general. It was an instinct he had to actively fight not to be overtly unfriendly. But lately, with all of the trouble in the neighboring counties, he’d been more leery than ever.
He blinked and focused his gaze back on Gus. Gus was intent on his food, cutting off and savoring one little bite at a time, as if it would be his very last meal. Lance left his own food untouched as he strained his ears to hear the conversation at the counter.
“Coffee and….” The boy’s voice was low, and he seemed to be studying the menu. “A grilled cheese from the child’s menu. Is that alright?”
“It’s okay with me, hon.”
“Does it cost extra to put sandwich fixings on that? Tomato? Lettuce?”
“Not at all! What would you like?”
“Everything you’ve got. And lots of it. Thank you.”
This was definitely a person concerned about money, Lance noted as Daisy went to place his order.
Lance had seated himself facing the door, as always, and he didn’t want to turn his head to gawk at the guy at the counter. But he could see a side view of him reflected in the chrome front of the jukebox. His long legs were bent at the knee, and he tapped the heel of his Converses on the linoleum floor nervously. Tap. Tap. In the reflection, the kid turned his head toward Lance. His heels went a little faster. Lance flexed his shoulders to make sure the guy noticed his sheriff’s department jacket.
Daisy brought the guy his salad-loaded grilled cheese and a big glass of milk.
“I didn’t order—”
“Do you like milk? We had a gallon about to go bad, so there’s no charge if you want it.”
“Oh… thank you,” the boy mumbled.
“Anything else I can get you, hon?”
“Um… Do you know where’s the closest place to get gardening supplies? Plant stakes. Potting soil. Stuff like that?”
Lance was out of the booth before the guy had finished speaking. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck and arms stand up with the kick of adrenaline that shot through him. But he forced himself to look relaxed as he walked to the counter and took the empty stool next to the stranger.
“Daisy, can you get Gus some more coffee?” he asked. Daisy’s mouth was still hanging open as if to answer the guy, or maybe in surprise.
“Uh… sure.” She took her cue and left them alone.
The guy peeked at Lance from under his light brown hair. This close up, his eyes were hazel and his face narrow, boyish, and somehow both shy and defiant at the same time. Lance found it strangely… appealing. He watched the boy’s Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed. A faint tang of nervous sweat wafted up. Lance tried to be subtle as he leaned forward a tiny bit and sniffed.
The boy carried the scent of gasoline—he’d filled his car’s tank recently. He hadn’t showered in a day or two either—probably slept in his car. Below that was an interesting loamy smell, like the rich scent of earth, but not the soil from around there, someplace near the sea. And… pot. The sickly sweet smell of marijuana was fresh. Denim held on to smoke like a tight-fisted lawyer, but this wasn’t an old smell.
The guy said nothing, just picked up half his sandwich, head down, and took a bite. Lance continued to stare.
“There’s a Garden Center in Fresno,” he said, still staring.
“Oh…. Thanks,” the guy mumbled, chewing as if the sandwich might have ground glass in it and he had to be careful. His bright eyes darted everywhere but at Lance.
“Passing through?” Lance asked.
“Visiting family? Going camping? Taking a sabbatical?”
“I, um, just moved here.”
Damn it. Lance nodded knowingly, his eyes still fixed on the guy’s face. Sweat visible on the lip. Shoulders hunched. Definitely nervous.
“That so. Well, we could always use some fresh blood,” Lance said, not meaning a word of it. Not that he really minded people moving into the area—as long as they weren’t troublemakers. Or likely to dig into the town’s secrets. “Whatcha plan on growing?”
The guy stiffened, and his head swung around to directly meet Lance’s gaze for the first time. His hazel eyes darkened slightly, his pupils narrowing. His nostrils flared and the corner of his mouth wobbled.
That’s fear. Lance’s hackles raised a little more. He tensed, ready for a fight, or to catch this guy if he tried to bolt.
But what happened was the last thing Lance expected. The guy looked down at Lance’s uniform and suddenly barked out a laugh.
“Oh, right! Cop! I get it! Oh, sorry, I thought…. But you…. Here.”
The guy leaned forward and exhaled a long and heavy breath right into Lance’s face.
What the fuck?
Lance blinked rapidly in surprise.
“See? I’m not drunk or anything. Or stoned. Do I look it? I drove through the night, so I’m kinda rumpled. And probably I stink. I saw you sniffing me. But I’m not….” The guy seemed to catch up with Lance’s shocked expression. He turned an amazing shade of red. “Oh. Shit. Oh, God. I just breathed right in your face, didn’t I? People don’t do that, do they? I mean, it’s not like your nose is a breathalizer or anything. That was probably really rude. Oh, my God, I’m so sorry.”
Lance was still processing. The rich scent of the guy’s breath lingered in his nose—no hint of smoke of any kind but yummy with cheese and butter and bread and, below that, something human and sweet, like the smell of a young child playing in the dirt. That scent was incredibly distracting. Lance’s nose wanted to sniff out more of it, wanted to lean forward and bury itself in the guy’s mouth. He fought off this purely instinctual reaction of his dog while trying to logically process what the guy was doing.
Nobody could be that awkward. Was he playing with Lance? Acting dumb? Trying to derail the conversation? Pull one over on the backwater cop?
Lance narrowed his eyes. “What’s your name?” His voice was harder now.
“T-um… T-Timothy. Traynor. Oh, my gosh. Look at the time.” The guy stuffed the rest of the sandwich in his mouth, used one finger to pull up the sleeve of his jean jacket and look at his bare wrist. A hair past a freckle, then. He stood up, mouth stuffed full, made some frantic waving gestures, dug out a wad of bills from his jacket pocket, tossed a five and a one on the counter, and left.
Lance watched this little charade in utter stillness, his eyes never leaving the guy’s face, and then his car—an old, beat-to-shit pickup truck—as T-Timothy pulled out and drove down Main Street overly fast, then too slow, like he’d realized Lance was watching.
Daisy came over as Lance leaned forward to sniff at the guy’s abandoned airspace.
“Good Lord, Sheriff. What’d you say to that poor kid? He seemed really nice.”
“Yeah. If you don’t take into account that every word out of his mouth was a lie.” That, and the smell of pot.
Daisy looked torn between her loyalty to Lance and her natural friendliness. She was a second genner, and had come from retrievers anyway—not a breed prone to disliking strangers. She loved everybody. Which is why she was a waitress at the diner and Lance was the sheriff.
“That guy comes in again, you give me a call, you hear?” Lance said.
Daisy nodded reluctantly. “I was gonna give him some cake on the house. I don’t think he was lying about being broke. Not that he said that, but you could tell.”
No, Lance didn’t think he was lying about that either. But broke people sometimes did desperate things.