“This book is the right balance of everything. It would have been easy to over to the danger or focus to much on the shifter aspect. The danger drew me in and the romance between Ivy and the guys kept me reading. Ivy easily accepts that they aren’t totally human and that there are two of them. She can feel the bond between them herself even though she isn’t a shifter herself. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series. The book is well written and the characters have depth and are intriguing. I can’t wait to read more about Blackbird Securities and the other people that work there. They are their own little pack at the company.” ~ Steamy Book Mama
In the original version of Ivy, Rafael was introduced much, much earlier into the story. He played a large roll though I eventually decided three baddies were a little much and the story was rather confusing. Here’s a small deleted scene from the original, parts of which did actually end up being included into Natasha, but not much. It hasn’t been edited, since it ended up getting thrown in the trash. I thought I’d share.
They were currently staying in the fourth floor suite of a hotel in downtown Glasgow. They’d been there for a few days. Ivy was starting to get tired of feeling like a bird in a cage. She was in the midst of going through some of the photos when voices in the hallway drew her attention. She took a peek out the door to find a group of Rafael’s men heading towards the room.
Grabbing her phone, Ivy rushed out to the balcony. Darren had been down in the lobby but she wasn’t sure how he’d missed seeing them unless they came up the back exit. It seemed unlikely.
“Steve?” Ivy whispered when he answered his mobile. She climbed over the balcony railing to get to the ledge that ran along the side of the outside of the building. “Rafael’s goons are outside the door.”
“Shit.” He sounded like he’d started to run. “Where are you?”
“What exactly do you mean ‘outside’?” Steve asked.
“Outside. On a ledge.” Ivy tried to focus on not falling as she inched her way around to the rooftop restaurant. From the ledge, she should be able to get over the short wall to safety.
“Bloody hell, love.”
She glanced briefly down to find Steve staring up at her. His face was a little blurry but she could feel and hear his concern. “I couldn’t exactly stay in the room, now could I?”
“I’m coming up. Darren’s taking care of the bastards in the room.” Steve disappeared from view.
“Brilliant,” Ivy muttered.
Shoving her phone into her pocket and leaning her head back against the bricks for a moment, Ivy decided that looking down was bad. Slowly crawling along the ledge, she finally made it close to the wall. The last few steps would require her to jump to get over the small gap between the ledge and the rooftop on the opposite side. She took several deep breathes before attempting to leap across. Her hands grasped the wall and immediately started to slip.
Ivy started to slip when a hand reached down to grab her wrist and yank her over the wall. She found herself crushed against a very hard body. Steve was definitely out of breath as he held her tightly.
“Do. Not. Do. That. EVER. Again.” Steve crushed her to him.
“Sorry.” Her apology was muffled against his shirt.
Steve pushed her back. His fingers gripped her chin tightly as his lips pressed against hers repeatedly. They were brief, hard kisses punctuated with slightly out of control breaths.
“Don’t ever take a risk like that ever again.”
“Oh? And should I have stayed in the room to be grabbed by them? Hmm?” Ivy slid her arms up around his neck. “I made the best decision I could.”
“You could’ve fallen. You almost did.” Steve pushed her back against the wall.
“I will continue to do what I think is best.” Ivy glared up at him. He might be a stubborn alpha but she was tired of feeling like she had no say in her life anymore. She refused to continue to give up pieces of herself simply because some murdering bastard was after her. “I assume that we’re leaving.”
“I…” Steve seemed confused by the swirling emotions within Ivy. “Darren’s grabbing the luggage. We’ll meet him at the Range Rover downstairs to head to a safe house out in the country.”
“Ivy.” He frowned when she didn’t look up at him. He kept his arm around her and led her through the hotel out to the waiting vehicle.
Grabbing her camera bag from Darren, Ivy climbed into the second row of seats in the back and pulled her legs up underneath her. She set the bag next to her with a pointed glare at Steve. Her head rested against the window.
The entire concept of running exhausted Ivy beyond belief as did the fear. Steve moved into the first row of seats while Darren got in the front to drive. The two men talked over their plan briefly while she tuned them out and stared out the window.
“Are you alright?”
Ivy tilted her head to find Steve watching her. “I’m fine.”
With a loud sigh, Steve picked the camera bag up to move it to the floor. He sat beside her and loudly cleared his throat. Ivy didn’t bother turning away from the window.
“Ivy.” His voice dropped down to a low growl. “Talk to me, love.”
“I said I was fine.” She tugged the sleeves of her jumper down so she could warm her fingers.
“Look at me.” Steve touched his fingers to her chin until she glanced away from the window. “No lies between us, promise?”
“Steve.” Ivy pulled her chin out of his grasp to stare pointedly away from him. “I would prefer to be left alone at the moment.”
“Oh go howl at something.” She shoved at him until he moved back to the first row of seats.
She continued to mutter to herself about overgrown egos and idiotic males for the next thirty minutes. She didn’t stop the diatribe until they’d pulled up to catch a ferry. She glanced around and caught sight of the sign, ‘Isle of Eigg.’
After storing her luggage in one of the three bedrooms of the cottage they’d rented, Ivy bundled up and took her camera out to get some photos before the sun set. It wasn’t long before a familiar wolf with a collar in its trotted up to her. It was tempting to ignore him but she crouched down to put the collar on him.
He gave her what she assumed was supposed to be sad eyes. He wasn’t as good at it as Gareth. She scritched his ears and buried her face against his fur anyway.
“I am not going to be a damsel in distress like in the faery books.” Ivy grabbed him by the tips of his ears when he huffed derisively at her. “You listen to me, Steven Samuels. I might be your mate but I am not going to be treated a porcelain doll. I’m not saying that I don’t need you. I’m simply saying that smothering me to death is not an option thank you very bloody much.”
Steve stared at her for several long moments before sneezing. He glanced behind her and then trotted off down the path. She turned to find Darren standing off to the side.
“The wolf loves you,” he remarked casually.
“Wolf mucus is not a term of endearment.” Ivy wandered down the road with Darren close behind.
“He’s a wolf…an alpha. He’s the most alpha…of alphas that I’ve ever met if I’m honest.” Darren fell in step beside her. He held her backpack while she fished out her camera. “His pack has been threatened. He couldn’t protect you in the Lake District, he couldn’t keep you safe in London and then he saw you climbing on the outside of a building to rescue yourself. His instincts will always be focused on keeping you safe.”
While Ivy snapped a few shots in the golden light of sunset, Darren talked to her about their pack. He was about to show his fox form to her when the black and grey wolf walked back up to them. He sat beside Ivy and leaned against her leg with his nose poking under her sweater.
“Stop that.” She pushed him away and tapped her finger against his nose. “Change back. We need to talk.”
“I’ll just…go…somewhere else.” Darren handed her bag back to her and wandered back to the cottage.
Steve changed out of his wolf to walk with Ivy down to the south edge of isle. They sat on the rocks to look out over the water. “Please don’t tell Gareth that I sneezed on you. The bastard would never let me live that down.”
She slid her arm around his and snuggled closer. “If I promise to try not to walk out on another ledge, will you promise to try not to act like I’m bloody Rapunzel who needs locked up in a damn tower?”
Find the original Ivy at:
My favourite scene in the entire book:
If insomnia intended to plague her, Ivy might as well get something useful out of it. She grabbed her camera bag and tripod. There was enough moonlight to allow her to easily walk one of the well-trodden paths from the cottage down to one of the nearby lakes.
Setting her tripod up in a clearing, Ivy started to play around with angles and lighting. The water shimmered perfectly under the moon. She thought if she did give into Dane’s pressure to have an exhibition, it would be filled with images of Wales. She made another adjustment and took a few more shots.
Her mum had been right about needing to get out of her flat. Not just out of the flat, she had to take more trips out of London. Her photography blossomed when it involved less concrete civilisation and more wild nature. Before Alec had died, she travelled at least one week out of a month. She hadn’t been anywhere since he passed away.
Ivy somehow didn’t find herself all that surprised when a cranky white wolf ran up to her after thirty minutes or so. He growled at her and nudged the back of her knee with his nose. He became more insistent when she ignored him.
“Stop that.” Ivy flicked him on the top of the head. “It’s the middle of Wales, not a war zone. The greatest danger I have at the moment is being knocked over by you or possibly being run over by a rampaging sheep.”
Gareth snarled at her. She had a feeling it might be the wolf version of a sarcastic snort. She raised an eyebrow at him and went back to her camera. He growled at her again, but she refused to pay any attention to him.
“I’m not arguing with…” Ivy lunged forward to grab her tripod when his tail bumped against it. “Oh, go lick yourself, and stop being so bloody growly.”
Ivy glanced over her shoulder to find her other suitor in his two-legged form. “If you’re going to growl at me too, you can bugger off and take your furry friend with you.”
In Masquerade, Ivy attends a ball with Alicia, Alim and Dane. In the first draft of the story, I had Steve and Gareth show up at the dance, but it ended up not quite working right. The final version has them showing up, but not in the ballroom. I thought perhaps as a little Christmas pressie, I’d give you a little bit of Steve, Gareth and Ivy.
“What are we doing?” Ivy asked finally, exasperated with the silently mysterious Gareth sitting in the driver’s seat of Steve’s Aston Martin. “Gareth. I got all dolled up for this, I’d like to know where I’m being taken.”
“That’s rich coming from you.” She glanced out at window as they flew by the people walking down pavement. “And we had to do this the day before Christmas?”
“Don’t speak ill of Steve when he’s not here,” Gareth teased.
With a roll of her eyes at his abysmal joke, Ivy went back to watching the scenery go by. She’d learned it pointless to attempt to argue with Gareth about his ridiculous love of driving well beyond any limits. She simply attempted not to appear as if she were clinging to her seat belt for dear life.
It was how Gareth preferred to drive, not that Steve was much better. He simply didn’t seem to get as much pleasure out of it as the younger wolf did. She stretched her arm out until she could rest her hand on his thigh.
“Gareth?” Ivy’s brow furrowed in confusion while he pulled into the parking garage across from the jazz club where he’d taken her on their first date. “It’s a little early for jazz, eh?”
“Were you aware of the fact your good friend Dane knows the owner of the club?”
“Dane knows everyone.” Ivy took his hand as he helped her out of the vehicle. She adjusted the full skirt on her dress. “So why are we here and what does my prat of a friend have to do with anything?”
“You danced with Alim.” Gareth glared at her petulantly which made her laugh at him. “Ivy.”
It wasn’t until they stepped inside the club that Ivy realized he must have booked out the entire place for the night. There was no other reason for the place to be quite so deserted. She was slightly dazed as he took her hand to lead her through the tables towards the open space set aside for dancing.
“Gareth Richardson.” Ivy gasped when his fingers tightened on hers. Gareth used his hold to guide her away from him then spin her back into his arms. “Did you set this up just for a dance? You sweet, absurd git.”
“Merry Christmas, love.”
“Jealous git.” She smiled while they moved in slow circles to the soft jazz playing in the background. She rested her head on his chest and looped her arms around him. “Thank you.”
She hadn’t thought Gareth had this suave dancer in him. He confidently led her around the room, pausing occasionally to dip her low or tilt her head up for a kiss. It was everything she’d hoped for at the masquerade, but never gotten. She almost wished Steve had been there to dance with her as well.
“May I cut in?”
“You gits planned this.” Ivy’s eyes narrowed on the wolf in front of her and then the one behind her.
“The appropriate response to romantic gestures is thank you, love.” Steve stepped up to her. His hand rested on her waist while his other reached up to cover the hand Gareth had rested on her shoulder. “Think we can dance together?”
“And not fall on our arses?” Ivy’s words proved true a moment later when Gareth attempted to twist the three of them around only to land on the floor in a pile. “I stand by my initial thought—gits.”
Five Stars! “I was instantly drawn into the story, it’s so well written you fall in love with characters immediately and your attention is captured and you can’t wait to turn the page to see what’s going to happen. Steven and Gareth were amazing, strong, and sexy. Ivy was a strong woman who didn’t hide when she was in trouble, she didn’t need rescuing, but she did ask for help when she needed it. I absolutely loved this book, it was awesome. I look forward to reading more from this author.” Catherine at Nerd Girl Official
In Twelve Days, there are a number of new couples introduced into the Blackbird world. One of my favourites happens to be Carl Elmer, one of the pack doctors, and Judith Norton, Ivy’s mother. They’re adorable together and have a history which surprised Ivy(and me while I was writing). I thought I’d share the teensiest of sneak peeks.
“Mum?” Ivy reached out to squeeze her hand. “Do you want to see Carl again?”
Judith patted her daughter’s hand. “I’m afraid I’m not the same girl who skipped stones across the water with him.”
“Carl’s a private bloke. He never really talks about his life outside of being a surgeon.” Gareth spoke around a large bit of scone, causing Ivy to swat him on his arm. He smiled at her and Judith couldn’t help but laugh at the way her daughter melted at the boyish grin. “He’s never been married or dated anyone as far as I know. I can have him in London in a few hours.”
“It’s Christmas, Mum.” Ivy’s eyes were filled with love and concern. “Let’s see if a bit of magic isn’t in the air, shall we?”
Despite having numerous misgivings, Judith allowed her Ivy to talk her into heading to the Blackbird office. She sat in one of the spare offices with a warm mug of tea and nattered with her daughter about wedding plans and the upcoming Christmas party. It was a pleasant enough distraction though she still felt as if a herd of Corgis was running rampant in her tummy.
Nerves like a silly schoolgirl.
The Corgis leapt into her throat when voices and footsteps seemed to pass by the door and linger. Ivy told her not to worry; it would all go bloody brilliantly. She got to her feet and darted out of the room, leaving Judith to her own racing thoughts.
What if he didn’t remember her?
What if he did remember her?
What could he possibly remember about a girl he’d known over thirty years ago?
Judith was struck with a sense of having let her daughter’s Christmas-inspired optimism carry both of them away. Despite the heavy blows life had dealt Ivy, she’d always managed to eventually find an unending amount of hope. It was inherited from her father, along with her dreadful tendency to curse at every little thing.
“Bollocks,” Judith whispered when the door handle turned.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, pardon my intrus…” Carl trailed off the minute he glimpsed who was in the room. “Judy?”
It might’ve been years since Judith had seen him last, but underneath the now-greying hair and the smattering of wrinkles was the same sweet smile. The dashing lad she’d met on a beach in Newquay stood before her all grown-up, weathered by time. It was as if time had simultaneously stood still and leapt backward thirty-plus years all at once.
“Judy?” He lifted his hand up to rub the back of his neck, a familiar gesture. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m Ivy’s mother.” Judith managed to stammer out the words while staring rather stupidly at the leather bracelet around his wrist. “You still have it?”
Carl glanced down at the braided bracelet with a sheepish smile. “It hasn’t been out of my sight since the day you gave it to me.”
They spoke at the same time and stopped. He chuckled the familiar laugh, though it seemed deeper than the one she remembered. He moved across the room to sit on the couch beside her and the heat from his body seemed to leap across the gap between their legs. Judith grazed her finger across the faded and cracked leather on his arm.
“There are an inordinately large number of women named Judith in London, did you know?” Carl covered her fingers with his hand. “I searched for you for years and never found you. Are you married?”
“Widowed.” Judith twisted to the side so she was facing him. She refused to act like a shy girl in her teens. “And you, no bevy of lovely ladies?”
“Just the one.” Carl’s fingers gripped hers when she attempted to pull her hand away. She relished the warmth and strength in his touch. “Just the one who danced along the sand on a moonlight night in Cornwall. You stole my heart Judy, and I’d like to know if I’m too late to steal yours.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Carl lifted her hand to graze his lips against her knuckles. “You’re still the most radiant woman I’ve ever laid eyes on.”
“And you still have a wicked way with words.”
“I’d give anything for another chance.” He watched her intently while his thumb caressed her hand. “Have dinner with me?”
Find out whether she says yes in Twelve Days now available for pre-order from Amazon:
As the months have gone by since Ivy and her wolves bonded, hints have continually been dropped about moving in together and marriage. It’s unfortunate then that the romantic proposal which Ivy had hoped for never quite arrived. Her two alpha wolves instead merely demand her hand in marriage.
Suitably unimpressed, Ivy tells her gits to bugger off and hops on a private jet for a swanky masked ball in Monte Carlo with Alicia, Alim and Dane.
Can Steve and Gareth find the right words to win the yes from her lips?
You just never know who or what you’ll find at a masquerade.
“You look stunned.” Ivy shot him an amused smile. She glanced between the two alphas. “I’ll be in Monte-Carlo for a few days. Alim has his entire security team with him, so I’ll be perfectly safe. I’ve got my mobile with me. There is literally no reason on Earth I can imagine the two of you needing to pop up at this ball, so why don’t you do something more useful, like talk to each other? Figure out a way to fix the problem you gits created.”
With a slow shake of her head, Ivy silenced Steve’s argument. She pressed soft kisses on both of their cheeks before walking gracefully away, placing her hand lightly on Alim’s arm to let him escort her from the apartment. They heard her quiet laughter when two low growls rumbled from both of the wolves at the same time.
Gareth glanced over at his partner with a groan. “We’re bloody fools.”
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