How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
Desert Blood comes from a couple of influences. The Twin Moon Ranch series is set on an Arizona ranch, so all the titles start with Desert (Book 1 is Desert Moon, Book 3 Desert Fate, and so on). I also like using a double O in the title if I can because that echoes the symbol of ranch, which is two circles overlapping by a third, like a Venn diagram. That reflects the dual nature of the shifters living on the ranch and the call of a full moon on the wolf side of their personalities. Finally, the villain in this story is a vampire, so the “Blood” part of the title does double duty – implying the vampire threat as well as incorporating the Twin Moon symbol.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If anything, the message would be to let your true self out from behind the layers we tend to pile on like so many coats. Heather in the book is struggling to overcome a terrifying experience and rediscover the capable, unafraid woman she used to be. Cody struggles to free himself of the yoke of family expectations – or lack thereof, since he's the overlooked second son of a powerful alpha. In the end, you can only be truly happy if you remain true to yourself, even if it can take a lot of courage to get to that point.
Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Twin Moon Ranch of this series is based in a real ranch I worked on for a full year and several seasons. That's where many of the Twin Moon Ranch features come from: the dining hall, the council house, the gateway hung with the ranch brand, and the overall layout of the ranch. Of course, the real ranch didn't have werewolves or as many hunks, so Twin Moon is much better! The experience of working on that ranch also gave me my fascination with the desert in all its moods and seasons.
Heather, the heroine of this story, is a teacher like me, and just about all the classroom banter and personalities you read about in Desert Blood are snippets of reality cut and pasted together in new combinations. There's no single person in the story based on a real life person, just types: like Cody, the man who's grown so used to playing a role, he doesn't know how to break free. Heather closing the door to give him a second chance is a trick I've used, as well!
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Ellis Leigh has been incredibly helpful, both as a critique partner and in sharing her publishing advice. Overall, I find the romance writing community to be incredibly open and generous in sharing the wealth of their collective knowledge. I'm already involved in a number of boxed sets and cross-promotional efforts with New York Times bestselling authors. It's really remarkable.
What books are in your to read pile?
As soon as it releases, I will devour Ainsley Booth's Hate F*@k Part 3, and I can't wait to get to the Jo Nesby mysteries my husband keeps raving to me about.
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
I'm currently in final edits of Desert Fate, Book 3 of this series. It features Kyle, the quiet cop-shifter who Cody works with to track down the vampires of Book 2. Kyle Williams is just a lone wolf trying to settle in to a new skin. But when the brown-eyed girl from his past turns up, bloodied by a rival male, the instinct to protect overrides everything else—including duty to his pack.
Stefanie Alt is a woman on the run, and fate is hot on her heels. The only one who can help her is the neighborhood bad boy she once knew. But even after one hot night under the desert moon, Stefanie isn’t sure she can trust him—or herself.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Cody and Heather both feel an instant pull toward each other, but it takes a while for them to grow close. Heather has no idea that the ranch folk are all shifters, and Cody knows all too well she's a human and forbidden to him. He tries to deny the attraction at first. But destiny is at work, and destiny won't be denied. Here he's walking away from their first real interaction together...
She was like no schoolteacher he’d ever met. Her legs belonged on a fashion runway—no, he decided, sportier than that. More like on a volleyball court. Her eyes were a green he’d never seen in the desert. And the toned arms stretching out from that sleeveless sundress, well, those belonged around him. He sniffed long and hard, savoring her scent like the last bloom of the century plant. Except this one came with a hint of strawberry. He did it again now: sniffed.
Mine! his wolf growled.
That’s what scared him. His wolf had never claimed a woman before. Usually, the beast sampled anything on offer and quickly moved on, favoring quantity over quality when it came to the opposite sex. Over the last two weeks, though, his wolf had suddenly developed an opinion, and it was all about Heather.
All the time.
But what the hell did a wolf know?
Cody wasn’t meant to settle down. Cody wasn’t the one called by destiny. And he certainly didn’t deserve a woman like her. She was so spirited. So together. So…fresh. But just because he got a rush around Heather, just because he spent day and night wondering about her, didn’t mean he was in love. No, sir.
Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?
It's actually the other way around: I love to travel, and a story hits me every time – so much that I have a huge backlog waiting to be written down! I love to write what I see and experience into my stories, then add in what I wished I'd seen or experienced! That comes through in both my Twin Moon series and in the Adventure and Travel romance series I am working on now which will release in the summer (Uncharted Waters and Uncharted Territory).
Who designed the cover of your latest book?
Fiona Jayde of Fiona Jayde media, and she's done a fantastic job. It was a lot of fun to work with her on the feel and layout of this series, and she's been great about steering me with her expertise while listening to my suggestions. She took my vague idea about having a red rock landscape element in the cover and made it into a striking element that unites the series and sets a certain mood. At the same time, she works hard to make every cover individual by combining new elements in the upper part. My favorite part is “researching” for a suitable model!
The Wolves of Twin Moon Ranch
Publisher: Twin Moon Press
Date of Publication: April 2, 2015
Number of pages: 117
Word Count: approx 31,000
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde
Heather Luth knows nothing about the paranormal world until one awful night changes everything. Now she’s on the run―straight into the arms of forbidden love. Her mind knows better than to fall for Cody Hawthorne’s sunny smile and mesmerizing voice, but her heart―and destiny―have other ideas.
On the surface, Cody is warm, witty, and fun, but beneath his carefree facade, Heather sees a real man struggling to break free. Day by day, Heather and Cody grow closer and closer, unable to resist their simmering passion―while day by day, a serial murderer closes in on his prey. Duty fights desire; fear wrestles trust as the human world clashes with the paranormal in a tale of forbidden love.
There’s more than meets the eye on Twin Moon Ranch, home to a pack of shapeshifting wolves willing to battle for life and love.
Available at Amazon
A knock on the door on a Sunday night should have set off every alarm in Heather’s body. It should have had her cowering, hoping that whoever it was, they’d please, please give up and go away.
Part of her did cower. But the other part was drawn forward—bold and unafraid. Reckless, even. As if her dog Buddy were there, one step ahead, tail wagging in eager anticipation of a trusted friend. That’s what the night air was signaling now: friend, not foe.
Slowly, carefully, she turned the lock and cracked the door open, bracing to bash it closed, just in case.
It was him. Cody. More than a friend; her heart knew that already. Each time he walked her to her car, another section of her heart caved in. And two nights ago, his kiss had sent the rest crumbling. She could still taste him on her lips, still feel his hand on her hip. She’d been bumping into her own furniture, pouring tea into her cereal, watching the clock for some unknown appointment.
Now, standing before her, Cody’s eyes sparkled gold behind the brown, like coins in an ancient well. In faded denim and a beige shirt, the man was all dry tones, but his hands cupped something succulent and red. Behind him, the desert was hushed, leaning in to eavesdrop. They stood staring at each other for a minute, or maybe ten, bathed in silence except for the hum. It was very faint, like a power station radiating electricity, but it came from between them, out of thin air. Or maybe it was from the thirsty earth below, thrumming with the beat of a primal drum.
The lazy, lusty heat of it wrapped around Heather’s legs and clambered up her frame. Soon she’d be engulfed with that thumping need. Did he feel it, too? She stood silent, wondering what it was that tore at her gut with a curt, urgent message: Cody! Cody! It might have been the call a hibernating bear gets to wake up or a flower to bloom. Every scrap of her was being pulled in his direction.
“Hi,” he breathed. His voice, normally so smooth, had a bit of sandpaper in it tonight.
“Hi,” she said, or at least mouthed it while her pulse hammered in her ears.
Warning bells sounded in her mind. Don’t trust him! Don’t trust anyone!
His lips parted as if to speak then closed again. She could taste the kiss forming on them as he took her in. Not the way some men did, appraising and crude. No, his gaze was gentle, sincere. Hopeful, too. But he was holding back, giving her the power to choreograph what happened next.
Danger! Danger! You don’t know what he will do!
Heather shoved the spinster aside and swung the door wide. “Would you like to come in?”
Grinning like a boy offered a cookie jar and trying to remember his manners, Cody stepped over the threshold. “Tina asked me to give you this.” He handed her a limp sheaf of papers. Meanwhile, all his focus—his hopes—were pinned to his other hand. The one that held out strawberries. Juicy. Sweet. Begging to be devoured.
Temptation, there for her to take or reject.
She was shaking inside, her mouth dry, her pulse racing. To take meant risk—risking her heart, maybe even her life. To reject meant locking herself away from a life worth living.
She took, unable to deny herself. It was sheer instinct; the inner voice had no time to intervene. Only to react once it was too late. I hope you know what you’re doing.
But she had no idea what she was doing, just this crazy instinct to trust him. She rinsed the berries and covertly watched Cody make a loop through her living room. He was taking it all in, from the second-hand couch to the desert scenes she’d cut out of an old wall calendar to decorate the walls. Everything was improvised, like the scrap of cardboard evening out the legs of the rickety table. God, what would he think?
He leaned over a framed photo. “Nice dog.”
A trick! A trick! Be careful!
“Buddy,” she said, smiling automatically.
“Buddy?” he laughed.
“Hey, I was nine when I named him!” Her hands went to her hips, prompting Cody to throw his palms up in surrender. “He was the best.”
He studied the picture more closely then shot her a skeptical look. “Him?”
That dog had been closer to her than most of her family members. A shoulder for her to cry on through her parents’ divorce and subsequent remarriages to partners who gradually pushed Heather away. From her ninth birthday until that awful day a decade later when Buddy died, he’d always been there for her. “The absolute best.”
Cody’s eyes danced. “Better than Lassie?”
She laughed. He’d chosen the right moment to lighten things up. She was much too tense. “Way better.”
“Better than Rin-Tin-Tin?”
“A totally different class.”
He raised his eyebrows. “What about Benji? Benji could solve crimes, you know.” His eyes sparkled at some inside joke.
She shook her head, unimpressed. “Buddy didn’t need to solve crimes; he was so good at keeping trouble away.”
“Big dog.” Cody shook his head skeptically.
“I like big dogs.”
His head tilted to one side. “How big?”
“Big.” What was this, some kind of Freudian analysis? She moved from the kitchenette, holding out the bowl of strawberries, willing her hand not to shake. “Dessert?”
Cody grinned, and she immediately felt her face heat in a flush.
Never trust any man! the fearful voice cried. But this time, the voice came from a distance, as if it had been grabbed by the scruff of its neck and was being escorted out the back door, fading away into the night. Don’t trust anyone…
About the Author:
Anna Lowe loves putting the "hero" back into heroine and letting location ignite a passionate romance. She likes a heroine who is independent, intelligent, and imperfect — a woman who's doing just fine on her own. But give the heroine a good man (not to mention a chance to overcome her own inhibitions) and she'll never turn down the chance for adventure, nor shy away from danger.
Anna is a middle school teacher who divides her time between coastal Maine and a village in view of the Austrian Alps. She loves dogs, sports, and travel — and letting those inspire her fiction.
Once upon a time, she was a long-distance triathlete and soccer player. Nowadays, she finds her balance with yoga, writing, and family time with her husband and young children. On any given weekend, you might find her hiking in the mountains or hunched over her laptop, working on her latest story. Either way, the day will end with a chunk of dark chocolate and a good read.