Bear's Dream Haven Forest Resort Book 1
by Christina Lynn Lambert Genre: Paranormal Romance
She had every reason to hate him.
Aiden “AJ” Shepherd’s mistake during a Shifter Army Enforcement rescue mission cost Ellie Ortiz’s brother, Marco, his life. Ellie hates AJ with a burning passion until a chance encounter with him on New Year’s Eve reveals he’s not the cold, heartless man she once thought him to be. Her attraction to him takes her by surprise, and she vows to ignore her feelings. When a new job puts her in contact with him every day, the heat building between them threatens to flare out of control. Her resolve to keep the sweet, sexy man in the friend zone is weakening by the day.
He’s convinced she’s his mate, but a secret could ruin everything
Whether they’re fighting off fanatics who target shifters or working together to get his shifter resort, Haven Forest, ready for the grand opening, AJ can’t get enough of Ellie. Convincing her to give him a chance, more than the one-night-of-fun idea she’s proposed, might be impossible, but he’s fallen too hard for her not to try. During a disastrous assignment with Shifters United, AJ uncovers some information that changes everything. Keeping the secret from Ellie is killing him but he might lose her forever if he tells her the truth.
When Ellie ends up at the heart of a reporter’s plot to prove the existence of shifters, she and AJ must fight their way to freedom. The survival of shifters everywhere depends on it.
AJ staggered toward Ellie, holding his side. She caught him before he fell. Blood poured down the side of his face. She pulled the hood of his coat over his head to hide the blood.
People rushed over to them, asking if he was alright. I guess they only care how he is now that the fighting is over.
“He’s fine. Just a little bruised up.”
The wolf shifter woman cleared a path to AJ and guarded his other side. “I’ll help you get him to the woods. My friend can stall the cops and do crowd control while you guys shift out your injuries.”
“Thank you. Seriously, thank you.”
The wolf shifter nodded. “No problem. Hurry.”
Ellie grasped AJ’s face in her hands and looked him in the eye. “We just have to get to the woods. It’s not far. Stay awake and stay with me. I can’t carry you. Understand?”
“Yeah.” His voice was barely audible.
An eternity later, they found a spot amongst the pine trees and bushes with enough cover for him to shift. “Hold on. Don’t shift yet. Let me pull these chunks of metal out of your head first.”
He cursed as she pulled one particularly large, jagged chunk out of his scalp. Blood poured down his face and neck. His eyes drifted shut.
“Come on! Wake up! Shift!”
He slumped over, oblivious to her yelling. She stripped him then dug her fingers into his stab wound. He growled and shifted into bear form. A sob of relief escaped her. AJ shifted back to human form, then, a split second later, he was a giant furry brown bear again. The bear walked around for a moment, dug his claws into a tree, then pressed his nose to Ellie’s cheek, making her laugh. In the blink of an eye, he was in human form again.
“You’re alright now?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You’re sure?” She ran her fingers over the places on his head she’d seen cut and gouged. No sign of any wounds. She looked at his eyes. He focused on her properly. She breathed out a sigh of relief. “I’ve seen more than one shifter be pressed for time to heal and they weren’t healed up as well as they thought.” His injuries hadn’t been superficial. He wouldn’t have made it to their room to shift in privacy without being stopped by well-meaning regulars—shifters and psy often referred to humans with no strange, extraordinary abilities as regulars—insistent on taking him to a hospital.
People who hated shifters lurked in hospitals, watching, waiting to destroy anyone they found out of the ordinary. Today, some ignorant haters had almost killed AJ, at a damn winter festival celebration. Nowhere was truly safe. She was still freaked at how close he had been to losing consciousness and never waking up. She knew damn well he would have died if he hadn’t shifted when he did. She didn’t want his light to burn out. Didn’t want anybody’s light to dim, really, but he was… She shook her head. A good guy. That was all. She didn’t want to see a good person die too young. She wrapped her arms around herself and her eyes teared up.
“Hey,” he spoke softly, “look at me.”
She met his gaze, reluctantly.
“I’m all right,” he assured her. “The important thing is, a group of angry men didn’t get the chance to beat the living hell out of a shifter teenager.”
He gently stroked her cheek and his hand came away bloody. “Your turn to shift.” She hadn’t felt any pain in her face. Probably because several of her ribs were cracked and her stomach had a fist-sized knot in it where she’d been punched. She stepped behind a tree, undressed, and shifted. B shook out her thick black fur and walked around a few paces in the woods. After a moment, she reluctantly shifted back to human form. Ellie stopped still when she caught AJ staring at her.
“Damn, you’re beautiful.” His appreciative tone wrapped around her. She gulped and ducked behind the tree to put her clothes back on. She emerged, wrapped back up in her bloodstained winter coat and clothes. At least the blood wouldn’t show up since everything she was wearing was black.
Before I had the wild idea to write a book, I worked in a few different fields. I was in sales for a while, and after I finished college, I worked as a case manager. When my children were little, I was a personal trainer and running coach. During the evenings, when I was supposed to be studying for another fitness training certification, I started writing a story. Finally, I gave in and acknowledged that writing is what I’m meant to do. I love creating imperfect but determined characters who find the courage to love and the strength to survive in a world where there are no guarantees. My stories include a fair amount of sarcasm, suspense, steam, and violence. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time outside and finding ways to avoid cooking. I live in beautiful Virginia with my husband, two daughters, and a sweet, hairy monster of a dog.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I see music in color. The notes have motion and dimension. Listening to music is a whole experience for me and brings me a lot of joy. Some of my favorite singers/bands are Elton John, Rush, CCR, Grateful Dead, Ghost, Ella Fitzgerald, and Greta Van Fleet.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Aside from the obvious social injustices of the world, there are a few things I can’t stand. I hate traffic. I don’t mind a long drive, but sitting in a line of cars, not moving, not knowing when the traffic jam will ease, always drives me batty. To me, it’s time spent on a useless, pointless task and that time can never be recovered. Same reason I hate treadmills. It’s just standing in the same place, going nowhere.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born and raised in Virginia near Richmond. I currently live about two hours away from the ocean and about three hours from the mountains. I found the perfect middle spot. Virginia has a lot of beautiful parks and hiking trails. Being outside helps me feel connected to the most essential things, the things that really matter. During winter though, I usually stay inside and hide under a bunch of blankets.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I would gather up all my loved ones and have a day to snorkel through some caves and swim in the ocean. Once the evening hit, we’d all sit around a bonfire, listen to some good music, and drink margaritas. Throughout my last day, I would make sure everyone knew they were loved and how important they were to me.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I would try to teach people to be kinder and help each other instead of only helping themselves. But first, I would set up a system that allows for that possibility. I would make education and environmental preservation huge priorities. Listening to problems and looking for the reason why things happen so people could get the help they needed would be my goal.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Sometimes I watch movies or TV shows that I’ve already seen a million times like Clueless or iZombie and veg on the sofa. Going for a scenic walk, especially with my dog, or doing a workout usually helps clear my head. Herbal refreshments help too.
How do you find time to write as a parent?
I have to be creative about it. I write a bit when they’re in school and I write scenes in my head sometimes while I’m in the shower, on the exercise bike, even walking through the grocery store. I get interrupted a million times in the evenings when there are other people in the house. I had to learn to work with a constantly fractured focus. I also stay up really late into the night hoping to outlast everyone and get some peace and quiet.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always loved writing. My English class assignments were always fun and challenging. I wrote poetry and essays just because I enjoyed doing so. I never thought of myself as a writer until I seriously thought about trying to write a novel and have it published. But really, I was a writer all along.
Which of your novels can you imagine being made into a movie?
Probably Tiger’s Last Chance (Stranger Creatures book 3) or Bear’s Dream (Haven Forest Resort book 1). Both stories have a lot of suspense and adventure elements. Plus, I think the waterfalls, streams, and trees in the resort of Bear’s Dream would look wild and beautiful in a movie.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve never been on any official literary retreat. I would love to take a week (or several weeks) out of my ordinary life and go to a seminar and talk with other writers, get ideas, and then sit out on the beach for a few days with my pen and composition notebook and just write. Getting my ideas out of my head onto paper without the distractions of everyday life would be an amazing experience. I would have to return to daily life sooner or later, but that’s alright. The struggles that writers see and live through are part of what gives us fuel to write.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on book 2 in the Haven Forest Resort series. This book will feature Rob, the leopard shifter Head of Security at the resort who had a small part in book 1. I will also be working on completing my Stranger Creatures series as well as publishing some poems in different magazines and anthologies.
How did you come up with the idea for Bear’s Dream (Haven Forest Resort book 1)
Aiden “AJ” Shepherd and his brother Greg were both a small part of Bear’s Edge (Stranger Creatures book 2) and the characters stayed on my mind. Eventually I decided that the Shepherd brothers needed their own series so I had the brothers open up a shifter resort in the Haven Forest Resort series. The first book in the series is AJ and Ellie’s story.
Tell us about your main characters.
Ellie makes decisions quickly and sometimes worries that she’s being impulsive. She is an amazing cook and kind-hearted. She has a giant dog named Curtis who she found tied to a tree and starving when she was on a hike with a friend.
AJ is quiet and serious. He spent a lot of time in the Shifter Enforcement Army and saw a lot of horrible things which have weighed on his mind. He and his brother work on opening the resort so shifters can have a place to celebrate things and run free without worries.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
Bear’s Dream is about two bear shifters who would never have chosen to spend time together if it weren’t for a chance meeting in a hotel bar on New Year’s Eve. AJ’s dream of opening a shifter resort is what leads Ellie to end up working for him as an Events Manager. She wants to help AJ and his brother have a successful grand opening and make their dream a reality. Meanwhile, when a relationship between Ellie and AJ seems impossible, she has a recurring steamy dream about him that just won’t leave her alone.
Who designed your book covers?
Fantasia Frog Designs is amazing and they have done the covers for all the books so far in my Stranger Creatures series as well as for Bear’s Dream.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I would leave it alone. I love the way Ellie and AJ met again on New Year’s Eve and how she learned he was a much better man than she originally thought.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I love the way AJ tells Ellie how he thinks she’s amazing and a good cook. He tells her a lot of really nice things not because he wants to please her but because he sees the truth of her wonderful personality and is honest with her about what he thinks.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Ellie’s Kitchen - The scent of cinnamon roll cake drifting onto a back porch to mingle with the breeze on a spring night.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'
Ellie has a terrifying time trying to drive a moving truck to Haven Forest Resort. She has difficulty with depth perception and hit a bush while trying to park the truck.
AJ has a black cat with white tipped ears named Opal. Opal prefers fresh salmon and likes ice cubes in her water.
I wanted to throw my computer out the window several times while writing this book because my kids were in virtual school for almost a year and a half and I couldn’t get any peace and quiet to work.
What are your top favorite books/authors?
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Half Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Heartless by Gena Showalter
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
Jennifer Government by Max Barry
Necklace of Kisses by Francesca Lia Block
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing stories and poems since I was in elementary school. I didn’t decide to do anything with my work until I was nearly 40 years old.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Characters become more real to me as I begin writing them. I never really know much about the characters until I start writing different scenes, then their actions reveal more about their personalities and I can see them more clearly.
Do you read yourself and if so, what is your favorite genre?
I love paranormal romance, science fiction, women’s fiction, and poetry. Lately, I’m really enjoying reading novellas and anthologies.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Really, it depends on the day. Sometimes I like to hear nothing except the sounds of the cars passing and birds singing. Other days, I like music or TV on in the background. The continuous sound of songs and shows I have already seen and heard helps me focus.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I tend to procrastinate and get writer’s block a lot so I have a couple of different projects that I work on, that way, when I’m stuck on one book or project, I can work on something else.
Pen or type writer or computer?
When I was little, I was obsessed with typewriters. I loved the sound they made and it was so much fun to type up letters, but they aren’t really portable or practical. I like to sit outside or wherever I please with a pen and notebook to plan out rough ideas or write poems. As the ideas take shape, then I have to put everything on the computer. I have a few fidget toys that help me when I get annoyed at being still and stuck at the computer screen.
What makes a good story?
Whatever makes a reader care about the characters and hope they find their way through whatever struggles they face. I tend not like books that end on a sad note or show the tragedy of a situation but no resolution.
What are you currently reading?
I just pre ordered Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen and I’m headed to the library soon since I haven’t had a chance to read for a few weeks. I’ve discovered so many good books by wandering through the aisles of the library.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about a year to finish writing a book. I spend a lot of time trying to get the dialogue, the scenery, the description, the characters, and everything else just right.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I’ve been there many times. When I come to a standstill and don’t know what should happen next in a scene, I have learned that my brain isn’t ready to create the next part and I need some distance. I try to work on other projects when I am stuck on one project, that way, I’m still being productive and getting something done.
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