Released: November 21, 2014
GMA 5 Star Review
A man of action, Mitch Grant uproots his life to support his brother in leading the Blue Mountain pack. Mitch lives on the periphery, quietly protecting everyone, but always alone. A mate is a dream come true for Mitch, and he won’t let little things like Simon’s rejections, attacks, and insults get in their way. With patience, seduction, and genuine care, Mitch will ride out the storm while Simon slays his own ghosts and Mitch’s loneliness.
Paranormal and Shifter novel....Blue Mountain-Book one in the Pack Series by Cardeno C!
Omega wolf Simon was exiled by his own pack when he was a teenager and he had to learn to survive on his own. When a tough and big alpha catches Simon on the pack territory, Simon knows that he will soon be dead. But instead of killing him, he takes Simon home. Mitch joins his brother in leading the Blue Mountain pack. Mitch protects everyone in the pack but yet he's still a loner. He has always dreamed of having a mate for himself and Simons rejection will not be stopping Mitch's dream!
Simon has been on his own for years and has learned to be alone and repress his wolf ways. Now Mitch has to be patient with Simon as he has a lot of past hurts and issues to over come. Mitch makes a deal with Simon to stay with him for a month and let him take care of Simon. Can Simon let Mitch into his bruised and broken heart or will the years on his own be too much for him?
I loved how completely different these two characters were and their undeniable connection was so intense and beautiful. Mitch is the big muscle alpha guy but not your typical one as he's not even heading his own pack. Simon is the opposite as he's smaller and lived so many years outside of a pack. Simon has seen the horrors that can happen inside of a pack and being with Mitch he's not interested in joining another one anytime soon. I truly love the writing of CC as she never ever lets you down with her brilliant and descriptive writing and how she writes many different genres is fantastic. This author writes in such a detailed way that you find yourself completely transported to a place of shifters and wolves and what a complete thrill that was. The way she writes of a man working his way into the heart of another is simply brilliantly and beautifully done. I can't recommend this novel, Blue Mountain by Cardeno C enough for anyone who wants to read a beautiful love story!
September 27th was National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. A friend of mine who’s poz posted this blog post on that day with a plea for people to stop serosorting. I've been thinking about it ever since.
There is so much to consider about what he says, so many layers and levels and applications. Serosorting is one, but by no means all. I don’t think I’ll be able to parse through all my own thoughts and feelings for a long time to come, but I decided to start with looking at the article from the overlay of my job as a writer. Or, more specifically, my job as an erotic romance writer.
Condom use comes up a fair bit in this community. Sometimes it’s from editors. Sometimes from readers. Sometimes from other writers. Opinions are all across the spectrum. Some people, whether due to being part of certain generations or having certain life experiences or working in STD prevention fields or something else entirely, feel very strongly that condom usage should be part of every book and every ejaculation (anal and oral). Other people feel there is a raw sexiness to sharing fluids, in mouths, in asses, in asses and then in mouths. And yet others find themselves in any number of places on the spectrum in between.
I think everyone is right about all of those things. What we find erotic is personal to each of us and we will never all agree that the exact same thing is "holy fuck hot" and the exact same thing is "ewww". We’ll also never all agree that the exact same thing is “OMG danger!” and the exact same thing is “Oh, come on, who worries about that?”.
As a writer, I do my best to always know my characters. I consider my writing to be character driven erotic romance. That means characters are the most important part of my books. It means they'll have a romantic relationship that is the focus of the book. It also means they’ll fuck on page and, hopefully, do so in a way that readers find hot.
Now, saying I need to know my characters means I can’t write everyone. There are people I know well who can inspire me. There are people I know not as well who can inspire me. There are people I don’t know at all but who write something (like a blog post) who can inspire me. But there are just as many people who fit into all of those categories that I can’t write because I can’t get into their heads. There are also people who I can’t write because I don’t feel I’m at a place (yet) where I can write their story in a way that either feels true enough for me or feels appropriate for an erotic romance book.
I want to repeat that. An erotic romance book. I write fiction. My stories aren’t real. I try very hard to make my characters relatable. I try very hard to make my stories feel real (vampires and shifters aside). But the fact of the matter is, for me and the types of books I choose to write, realism is no more and no less important than romanticism.
I want to bring the aww moments. I want to deliver warm feelings. I want my readers to smile when they’re reading my books. I’m not writing the news. I’m not writing exposes on injustice. I hope I’m teaching things and sharing important things. But I hope I’m doing it softly, quietly, and with a whole beehive’s worth of honey.
So, how does that relate to the blog post I shared? Well, for starters, it means I will try to write about guys in a way that feels genuine to me within the construct of romance. I personally don’t know anyone who says they use condoms during oral sex. I just don’t. I’m not saying there aren’t people who do it. I’m not even saying I don’t know those people. I’m just saying, I’ve never heard them say it. And I’ve asked. Not before I started reading in this genre, but since.
When I first read a condom blowjob, I was surprised. Eventually, though, I saw it often enough to wonder. I have a giant wall between my writing life and my personal life, but I’m the same person either way so that means I’m not shy. I also know people who work in a variety of fields, including health care. And, more specifically, health care primarily focused on gay men, which means a sizable poz patient population. So I’ve asked friends, gay and straight, single and partnered/married, health care workers and “civilians”.
People I know say they don’t use condoms for oral sex. I personally don’t find the idea of latex in the mouth sexy. So the characters in my erotic romance books don’t use condoms for oral sex.
That’s the easy one, right? I mean, yeah, some people say glove up every time always, but an erotic romance character not using a condom when he’s going down on someone isn’t exactly controversial. But what about anal?
Harder question. Does stopping the scene to cover up take away from the heat? Does not addressing condoms at all worry the reader and therefore take the reader out of the story (which takes away from the heat)? Can condoms be part of the erotic act with the characters touching as they put them on? Can the initial use of condoms with a transition to not using them be used as a tangible means of expressing growth in a relationship so it can be a writing tool? Can using condoms allow for less mess post sex and easy clean-ups? Should characters discuss STD testing and what language should they use about it? Can forgetting a condom be a way to show “oh-my-hell I wanted you so badly I forgot”?
For me, in the context of the erotic romance books I write, the answer to all of those is yes. So I show all of those (and more) in my books.
Hardest question: What about poz guys in erotic romance? I’ve never written a poz main character. Not because I don’t have access to information. Not because I believe poz people can’t have romantic happily ever after relationships. Not because I’ve never thought about it. I haven’t written a poz main character because I don’t want anything but the romantic relationship to be the central focus of my book, I haven’t wanted to step into a health care manual in the middle of it, and I don’t want a dramatic debate after it’s published.
My to-be-written list is long so when an idea pops up that has complications and difficulties (like writing a story with a poz MC without making the story about his status or letting that take over the book or preparing myself for post-publication debates), it tends to get bumped in favor of other things, things that flow easier without the potential for messy drama about one aspect of one character (poz status) overshadowing the point of the book, of all my books (happy, warm, erotic romance).
My friend who posted the blog link on National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day included this suggestion: “If you’re an HIV-negative gay man and you serosort but want to do something to help end HIV stigma, take a first step. Stop serosorting. Fuck a poz guy. Who knows, he just might be the man of your life.” I think it’s time for me to try harder to integrate that poz character on my to-be-written list into a story. After all, he just might be the man of my other main character’s life.
As he kicked the last of the dirt over his mother’s grave, bone deep exhaustion nearly brought Simon Moorehead to his knees, but at least he’d delivered his mother home to rest. She had left Blue Mountain for him, and he had returned for her. There was a certain harmony in that, albeit an ironic one. But harmony or not, he had to leave the territory before another welcoming committee was dispatched to greet him. He darted his gaze around the surrounding landscape, looking for a flat rock to pound down the loose earth. Once he found an appropriate stone, he shifted into his human form, lifted it with both hands, and returned to the grave where he used the last of his energy to repeatedly raise and then slam down the rock, packing the soil.
Shocked by the deep, rumbling voice, Simon lost his balance and toppled onto his backside. “Who’s there?” He held the stone in front of him like a weapon as he jerked his head from side to side and squinted, trying to see beyond the surrounding trees by the light of the moon.
“Relax, little one.”
He had his answer—it was a pack member who mistook his size for weakness. Well, Simon would prove him wrong just as he had the others. He’d been banished at age twelve and spent the next thirteen years learning how to take care of himself. Shifters underestimated him because they were led by scent and sight and refused to look beneath the surface. They didn’t expect an Omega to fight or disobey. But Simon had learned to act as strong as any Alpha. And if rejecting his true nature meant his soul suffered and withered, ultimately leading him to the same demise as his mother, so be it.
“Show yourself,” he demanded as he stood.
The direction of the wind changed, and Simon caught scent of the other shifter before he saw him. Alpha. The urge to bare his neck and roll over hit him deep in the gut. Forcing himself to ignore it, he mentally recited his mantra: Never show weakness. Stay in charge of every situation. Don’t back down. He wouldn’t be a slave to reactions he couldn’t control. He was better than that, stronger than that.
Then the biggest man he had ever seen stepped into the clearing. Broad was an understatement in describing his shoulders. He was almost twice as wide as Simon and well over half a foot taller. “Drop the rock,” he said, piercing Simon with black eyes.
Grateful for the reminder that he could use the tool as a weapon, Simon ignored the wetness dripping along his forearm, raised the rock above his head, and said, “Back away.”
A growl was Simon’s only warning before the Alpha grabbed his wrist and forced him to release his hold on the stone.
“Let me go!” Simon tried to yank his arm away from the powerful grip but strained his shoulder instead. He’d never come across anyone so large and powerful. The timing was terrible because Simon was already running on fumes, worn down soul-deep, but he gathered whatever energy he had left and tried to fight.
“You’ve injured yourself.” The Alpha clasped Simon’s hip with his free hand, further impeding his movement. “Stop.”
Grunting in denial, Simon struggled to get free. His backpack was a thirty minute hike away at the campsite. If he could shift and get there, he’d have his supplies and enough cash to get out of the Blue Mountain territory.
“Let me go, and I’ll leave,” he said. Then, his gut rebelling at the possibility the Alpha would consider that a concession on his part, he added, “Like I told the men you sent, I have no intention of staying here.” He wriggled. “Let me go.”
“I sent nobody.” The Alpha’s voice was deep and rough, like his face. “Be still.”
With a grip just shy of painful, he raised Simon’s hand, leaned forward, and nostrils flaring, he inhaled deeply.
“Males can be Omegas,” Simon resentfully answered the inevitable question. “It doesn’t make us weak.”
“Not weak.” Bottomless black eyes peered at him as the Alpha shocked him to his core by parting his lips and licking his palm. “Mine.”
Involuntarily, Simon trembled. The Alpha wanted blood—more blood than he was getting by lapping at Simon’s wounded hand, which meant he was feral, his animal half overrunning his human half and driving him to kill.
When the giant leaned forward, going for his jugular, Simon delivered a well-placed kick to the groin and then went limp, making himself dead weight. The strategy worked—the Alpha lost his grip and Simon toppled to the ground. Before his attacker could react, he scurried out of reach, shifted into his wolf, and ran.
Simon wasn’t a big wolf, but he was fast and he had a lifetime of experience evading other shifters. He ignored the instinct pulling at him to roll over and show his belly and wove around the trees at a breakneck pace, planning to do exactly what he’d done thirteen years earlier: take his meager belongings and escape from the Blue Mountain Alpha. But then a roar shook the very air around him, a big body knocked him to the ground, and teeth dug into his nape. Without breaking his skin, the Alpha shook him like a lamb and growled. Human words weren’t needed for the message to come through loud and clear: submit.
It wouldn’t happen. If Simon was going down, he’d do it fighting and inflicting as much damage as possible along the way. He kicked and bit, clawed and smacked, never getting free but occasionally hearing pained yips and eventually smelling copper.
As the scent of the Alpha’s blood permeated his entire being, Simon twisted in knots, waging an internal war between the cell-deep instinct to bare his throat to the wolf above him and the well-honed habit to fight and get free. When the world began darkening, he was less sad about the loss of his life than he was thankful for the reprieve from the battles—both external and internal. At least he’d be laid to rest with his mother.