Hi everyone, please welcome my latest guest blogger, M.A. Church who is here to talk about cougars and her brand new book.
Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as vitamins.
Hey everyone! I’m M.A. Church and I’m here to talk about my latest book called Shadows in the Night from Dreamspinner, which was released July 12th.
One of my main characters is Jason, a Native American shifter—a black cougar. Here are a few facts about cougars:
~The cougar (Puma concolor)—also known as the puma, mountain lion, panther, or catamount—is native to the Americas. Its range extends from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America and is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
~The cougar is an adaptable, generalist species and is found in most American habitat types.
~It’s also the second heaviest cat in the Western Hemisphere, after the jaguar.
~The cougar is solitary by nature and nocturnal; it’s closely related to smaller felines and is genetically closer to the domestic cat than true lions.
Now here’s the interesting part lol.
~There are no authenticated cases of truly melanistic (a development of dark-colored pigment in the skin or appendages and is the opposite of albinism) cougars. Melanistic cougars have never been photographed or shot in the wild and none has ever been bred. Unconfirmed sightings, known as the “North American black panther”, are currently attributed to errors in species identification by non-experts, and by the memetic (an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture) exaggeration of size.
In other words, according to the experts, there is nosuch thing as a black cougar. Huh. Guess someone should tell my black cougar shifter that, lol. 😉 And someone may want to tell Jason he’s involved himself with a guy, Chip, who is a modern man with modern ideas. *grin* The fur is sure to fly when these two, from such different times, come together.
Oh, and let’s not forget there’s another shifter out there who has Chip in his sights and has murder on his mind. Time has brought with it an enemy that harbors a deep-seated hatred for Jason; an enemy who will use whatever means necessary to bring Jason to his knees… including Jason’s own mate.
When these two worlds collide, who will be the winner? Can the Native American shifter learn the ways of this new culture? But… can Chip accept there are beings out there that are… less than human? Will Jason be able to treat Chip as an equal? And lol, will Chip let Jason do anything else, for that matter? Can Jason accept a ‘white man’ as his mate?
As Chip is drawn farther and farther into a world he can’t escape from, one thing becomes clear to him. He’s going to have to learn to trust the man he’s coming to care for and take a leap of faith.
When Chip Riley’s beloved granny passes away, she leaves him all her money, her land, and a house that needs some tender love and care. She never mentioned the legacy comes with a Native American shifter who intends to claim Chip as his mate.
Jason Sky has lived since buffalo roamed the land. When his totem spirit, a black cougar, saves a little girl, he doesn’t realize that generations later, her grandson will become his mate, leaving him to take on a modern man with modern ideas. But that’s the least of his problems.
Garon, another shifter with a long-held hatred for Jason, plots to kidnap Chip and lure Jason to his death. Soon Chip finds himself in an untenable position between a rock and a hard place. A leap of faith may be the only way to save himself and the man he’s learned to love.
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
A DULL strand of coppery red hair worked loose from the haphazard bun at the back of her neck, and with a sigh, Eva brushed it back behind her ear. It was early morning, but the heaviness of the air promised another scorcher.
A delighted smile lit Eva’s face as the precocious three-year-old came running around the corner of the house. He couldn’t quite pronounce the “G” sound, so instead of Granny he called her Ranny. The bright morning sun hit the little boy, and his light auburn hair once again reminded her of a living flame. He had inherited her red tresses and moss-green eyes.
“Over here, Chipper.”
Her grandson was her pride and joy… and more special than anyone knew. It was a shame his mother and father couldn’t see that, but her daughter didn’t care for anyone but herself. Their relationship was stilted, at best. Chip’s father was more concerned with making money than having anything to do with his son. Eva hated to admit it, but she didn’t have much use for either of her grandson’s parents. As a result of both parents neglecting Chip, the older the little boy became, the more time he ended up spending with her. Which, secretly, relieved her. Fate had big plans for the little guy; she had seen that firsthand in one of her visions.
“Go fish now?”
She had promised him last night they’d fish in the pond close to her house. It was just the two of them now; her husband Ed had died of a heart attack a year ago. The man had been in his late fifties, active, didn’t drink or smoke—and one morning had dropped dead of a heart attack. Eva grieved that Chip would never remember his grandfather.
“Yes, sweetie, we’ll go to the pond and fish for a while.”
Eva had the poles, a small tackle box, and a picnic basket ready to go. With any luck, they’d be having catfish for dinner. Of course, that depended on how soon the little bundle of energy dancing around her tired out.
“Oh, sweetie, remember? I told you that Horsey may or may not show up today.” Eva glanced at the tree line as the animal Chip called “horsey” moved toward them. “Although something told me he’d be here.” The large, black cat moved nearer with a grace that belied the strength and deadliness he possessed. Keen, humanlike intelligence showed in his eyes. Eva was unsurprised. She knew full well this animal was more than what he appeared. “Horsey!” Chip squealed and raced in the direction of the animal.
“Had a feeling you wouldn’t miss this.” Eva, a smile on her lips, shook her head as a happy rumble sounded from deep within the animal’s chest. He lowered himself to the ground so Chip could climb on his back.
“Okay, come along you two. Daylight’s a-wasting.”
Eva followed the huge cat, her grandson babbling merrily to the animal about whatever hit his fertile mind. The trip to the pond was a short one, and soon they arrived. But even with the small child riding on his back and talking nonstop, the creature never lowered his guard. His ears twitched as he listened to the woodland creatures, alert for any signs of danger. Eva trusted his instincts—in fact, trusted him with her and her grandson’s lives. Without him, she wouldn’t be alive. The beast had proven his loyalty to her and her parents a long time ago, and a friendship had been born.
Eva found a shady spot by the pond and laid out an old sheet she’d brought. There she laid the picnic basket, along with a few towels. After she cast out her line, she turned to watch as the animal and Chip played by the bank.
“Go get it!” Chip hollered as he threw a small ball she had brought.
The creature chased after the ball, and Chip ran after the beast. They pursued each other, the animal allowing the small child to catch him. He was always careful to keep his claws retracted as they played. Giggles and an occasional yip drifted to her.
Chip made his way to her side after he grew tired of the game. “Ranny, go swim?”
“Sure, sweetie.” Eva reeled in her line and helped the little boy take off his shoes, socks, and shirt. The beast waited patiently as she readied Chip, then followed the youngster to the water. “Have fun, boys.”
The water wasn’t deep where they splashed and frolicked. Anytime Chip wandered too deep, the cat herded him back to shallower water. Eva giggled like a young girl when the beast splashed Chip with his paw.
Chip wiped the water from his eyes. “No fair!”
“Oh, you’ve done it now.” Eva chuckled.
The beast turned his head to look at her and a sound rumbled from it that sounded amazingly like a laugh. When he turned back to the little boy, his greenish-yellow eyes widened. Chip floated on his back, kicking furiously. A tidal wave of water crashed down on the animal. Soft, playful growls and shrieks of laughter could be heard echoing through the woods as the beast and the small human child mock-fought. With a gentle nudge of his head, the animal ushered Chip from the water.
“Think it’s rest time, Chipper. You hungry?”
Chip rubbed his eyes with his fists as Eva dried him off. To the side, the beast licked his coat dry. Eva laid out the sandwiches and poured a cup of juice for Chip. A bowl filled with fresh water sat near her grandson’s plate. Chip and the creature settled down on the sheet to eat lunch. The animal took breaks from slurping water from his bowl to eat bits and pieces of the sandwich Chip fed him. Soon the little boy was curled up next to the creature.
“I’m going to try to get a little fishing done,” Eva whispered as her grandson slipped off to sleep. Purring softly, the beast nodded his head. “I won’t be far.”
When Eva returned a short time later with her catch, she stopped and watched the huge, black animal and the little boy sleeping next to each other.
“I’m back.” Eva sat down next to the beast. A long black tail rested across Chip’s legs, and greenish-yellow eyes focused on Eva. “You know this can’t go on much longer, my friend. He’s smart for a child his age, and soon he’s going to ask questions about you.”
The creature rumbled in agreement.
“I know it’ll be hard for you. But another year—maybe two—and you’ll have to disappear from his life. The time isn’t right yet for you to make yourself known.”
The creature rumbled again, sadness in his eyes.
Eva ran her hand over the thick black coat. “I know, dear. But the time will come. You and I both know that. It willcome, and he’s going to need you. Take care of him for me, okay?”
The beast nodded his head again. His time would come, but not for many years yet. The little boy had to grow into a man first.
M.A. Church lives in the southern United States and spent many years in the elementary education sector. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Her hobbies are gardening, walking, attending flea markets, watching professional football, racing, and spending time with her family on the lake.
But her most beloved hobby is reading. From an early age, she can remember hunting for books at the library. Later nonhuman and science fiction genres captured her attention and drew her into the worlds the authors had created. But always at the back of her mind was the thought that one day, when the kids were older and she had more time, she would write a book.
By sheer chance she stumbled across a gay male romance story on the web and was hooked. A new world opened up and she fell in love. Thus the journey started. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading the latest erotic and mainstream romance novels.
Facebook: M.A. Church http://www.facebook.com/pages/MA-Chur…