Title: Almost Paradise
Series: Pine Hollow Wolves 01
Author: Caitlin Ricci
Publisher: Silver Publishing (June 16th, 2012)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥4Hearts
Blurb: Travis will do anything to keep his daughter safe, now that he finally has custody. Financially ruined, he cannot even afford food for himself most days. Could a stranger’s offer to dogsit be the solution Travis has been hoping for?
Travis has done everything to keep his daughter safe. He’s fought a long, hard battle with the courts to gain full custody and has finally found some breathing room. But that security comes at a heavy price.
Staying in a motel and living off his quickly dwindling savings is no way to raise a toddler, so when Liam steps into his life and offers him hundreds of dollars just to watch his dogs for a weekend, it almost seems too good to be true.
But when he finds out there is more to Liam than he ever thought, he has a hard decision to make. Can he and his daughter stay and be safe or will he need to leave?
Review: Liam is running an errand for his Alpha when the scent of a man gets his attention. Even without his shifter senses, he can tell the other man is down on his luck. But, being a shifter he is keenly aware that the other man is just as attracted, if not a tad leery of Liam. But attraction isn’t enough to make Travis accept Liam’s invitation to lunch. Fortunately, Travis’s daughter, Hannah, has no reservation about getting to know Liam better.
I’m not sure how Almost Paradise is going to be received. I personally loved it. There was enough of a break from the same ole same ole paranormal shifter stories that flow through my inbox that I was hooked from the beginning. There’s enough back-story to hook me, but enough left unsaid for me to look forward to the next book. And as I know that Book 2 is about the Alpha, who came off like Don Corleone, I can’t wait to see how he redeems himself. Not to mention the Alpha’s sister, who is a rather scary woman.
Anyway, back to this book. We are introduced to Liam first and I wasn’t sure if I was even going to like him. I got that his position was similar to a traditional pack’s beta, but because of the dynamics, he came off as more of a mob errand boy. But, as he interacted with Travis and Hannah, he shifted, in my mind, from paid lacky to more like Tony Soprano. And not just his character, but all the shifters. They have a clannish elitism that just reminded me of New York mafia family. Which might not mean anything to you, but I’ve always found authoritative men with an air of mystery uber hot. The fact that he’s all about the pack and family only made him that much sexier.
And as much as I loved Liam, I loved Travis more. He’s been through hell, trying to retain custody of his daughter. Now that everything is pretty much settled, he’s broke and unemployed, yet trying to maintain some level of normalcy for his child. Sue me, but I’m a sucker for real daddies. And, as much as he wants Liam, he is no pushover. He makes Liam work for their mating bond, like a first-rate trial attorney.
I really applaud Ms. Ricci for creating a shifter world that is both interesting and different. I look forward to reading Samson’s story and getting to know Liam, Travis and Hannah more in the future. I’m recommending this title to readers who believe that men can handle a bit of courtship, patient shifters and far-sighted little girls.
Caitlin stopped by the MM Good Book Reviews interview room, yes we have one and agreed to be interogated…I, mean interviewed by Pixie. ;-)
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Hey Caitlin, how you doing today?
Caitlin Ricci I’m good. Just woke up and had some breakfast. How’s your afternoon?
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews It’s wonderful. Kids not back from school yet, so a bit of peace and quiet.
Caitlin Ricci That’s got to be nice. No kids here (yet), but planning on at least three.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. I have three, makes me crazy sometimes. Well, Caitlin, I have looked around a bit and you are an honest to god brand new writer. So tell us a bit about yourself
Caitlin Ricci Yep, I am completely brand new. I’ve been writing for years, ever since middle school, so around the age of twelve. I don’t know what middle school is called there (England), since I know you have primary and then secondary, but for some reason, I thought secondary was for older kids. I never really felt like my stuff might be good enough to publish though until I wrote a short a while back and submitted it. It got rejected but after that I realized that the sting wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be so I got on this path with the Pine Hollow Wolves and Almost Paradise was born. I’m 27, live in Colorado, have a dog, a fiancée and a Blue Tongue Skink which is honestly the coolest reptile people can have as a pet. I’m in college for my bachelor’s in Human Services with a concentration in Domestic Violence and then I’ll be getting my master’s in either Social Work or Child Psychology. I want to be a school counselor with a primary focus on GBLTQ kids and their issues of bullying, acceptance, coming out, dating and suicide.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Wow. So you want to help all those poor kids who are having a hard time in school or at home. I think that is admirable. I hope you get your qualifications for that. And as for the Blue Tongue Skink, I’ll take your word for it. Lol. I know you got knocked back a few times by publishers before Silver Publishing snatched you up, so can you tell us a little about your experience with that and what would you say to someone going through the same situation now?
Oh, and secondary school is for ages 11-16, then they can go onto college and then university.
Caitlin Ricci Good to know if I ever have a book set in the UK :)
As to your question, mostly I’d say…just keep writing. I love a quote that NaNoWriMo sent me once that said that you can’t edit a blank page. Yeah, it hurts to be rejected, especially when you love the story and the characters, but it’s gonna hurt when someone gives you a less than stellar review or a good friend says that they didn’t like your book or any number or other things. You can’t please everybody and if your story is good someone will publish it.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. So, you are my first Silver author interview. Can you walk us through their process and how much support you get ;-)?
Caitlin Ricci Wow. That’s kind of awesome. Yay, team SP! The process is actually really simple. They’ve got a form on the website that you just fill out so no query letter stress there and you don’t have to try to sell yourself or your book. Just be honest, sound a little interesting and put in the info that they want. I submitted Almost Paradise the day before the deadline for the father’s day submission call. You get an automatic response saying that they got it and then a week later Alison sent me an email saying that it was accepted. It was 5 am when I read it and I was getting ready to go into work. I was bouncing around the room trying not to wake Scott (my fiancé) up.
I signed the contract, did the pre-edits, sent it back, talked to my cover artist, and did some more edits, talked to the cover artist again, a few more edits and then boom! Everything was done. The process is actually very easy, the editors are there to help and my cover artist is an awesome person who I would gladly work with again.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews I am glad Silver looks after you so well. So have you had support from other m/m authors? I know Dreamspinner has an author forum, does Silver have something similar?
Caitlin Ricci They do and we’re all very friendly over there. I’ve connected with a lot of SP authors here on FB as well. And I belong to a group that is just for MM authors in Colorado which is fun since we’re hoping to do some in person events pretty soon and our Out in the Rockies blog hop is going on right now. Networking is just as important as an author, as it is in any other arena. Although writing is often a lonely solo type of excursion it’s great to have other people around to bounce ideas off of, get help when you’re feeling unmotivated or jazz over a new cover.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews That’s great, I also heard that you are quite new to reading m/m as well, tell the readers how that came about.
Caitlin Ricci I am actually, which is pretty crazy that my first book published is MM. I’ve been reading erotica for a while including Lauren Dane and Maya Banks so the idea of MMF or MMMF wasn’t new to me. Then a friend told me to try out Kim Dare. I read her free shorts and then read Duck!. I fell in love with the characters and decided to start writing MM. The idea of two guys in love though wasn’t completely new to me. In high school I was reading Yaoi and Shonen-Ai, watched Queer as Folk and loved Will and Grace.
I still write other pairings including MF and FF and MFF, but my guys have sort of taken over WIPs.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Well at least you’re on the right track now. Lol.
Caitlin Ricci Yep :). I like it a lot and thankfully I’ve got friends and a fiancée who support me.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, your guys are kinda wonderful. Just in case none of you readers know Caitlin’s new book is Almost Paradise which is the first in the Pine Hollow Wolves series. Can you tell everyone about your book?
Caitlin Ricci Thanks for saying that they’re wonderful :). Alright, so what few people know is that Almost Paradise was actually the second book that I wrote in the series. The sequel (working title Man’s Best Friend) is about the alpha and his love interest. Travis (from Almost Paradise) was mentioned in it and I liked him instantly, had to know more about him and after I finished Samson’s story I wrote Almost Paradise. Luckily it came together in time for the submission call. AP is about Travis, a single father who has worked his butt off to keep his little girl. Liam sees him when he’s trying to get a job and invites him to lunch, knowing that he’s got to do something to make this guy’s day just a little better. While they’re there Liam gets a call from his boss, Samson, telling him that he’s got to go out-of-town. With no time to get a sitter for his two dogs he asks Travis to do it and things just sort of fall in place from there.
And Hannah is freaking awesome. She’s the little girl and she’s adorable.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah I know, me and Portia had a cat fight over who was doing your review… I got to interview you Lol. *mean boss* Not that it isn’t lovely to be chatting to you!! Now I also heard that there is a Nap sized story about Travis and Liam, will that be published at all?
Caitlin Ricci Nap sized?
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, a really short one. It’s like the smallest short story that doesn’t take long to read… Nap sized.
Caitlin Ricci Ah okay. Sorry, wasn’t familiar with the term. *blush* wow so I’m a noob. There is a short with Travis and Liam that I’m hoping silver will accept for their Christmas line. In it they’re off on vacation with Hannah and they’ve been together for seven years now and they’re visiting Ireland. Some interesting things happen in that story that set up Hannah’s YA series later on when she’s 15.
I love this couple and couldn’t just let either them or Hannah go by the wayside.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Oh. that’s so cool. They are in it for the long game whoot!
Caitlin Ricci Total long game. They’ve been married for years at that point, Hannah loves having two dads and in her series her best friend is a younger Shifter named Ippy (Phillip) so she’s all for having a Shifter father and belonging to the pack.
I like HEA and for me that’s when they’re old they’re still sitting on the back deck, drinking sweet tea and watching their grand kids run around with more giant dogs.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews And as for the Nap thing I think it all depends who you talk to. Some would class it as a day-dream. Whatever floats your boat…for me its nap sized. Anyhoo, tell us more about your book, was it a conscious decision to not have any sex or was that how the characters wanted it.
Caitlin Ricci I put myself in Travis’s shoes. He’s not having hook-up. His daughter is right there in the next room and he’s trying to do what’s best for her. He’s a father first and always has been. That lessens in later stories when he realizes that he doesn’t have to be the only one there for Hannah and that she’s actually got an entire pack right there waiting for her if she ever needs anything, but right now his primary concern is making sure that she’s taken care of. For me having sex in there felt like it wouldn’t be doing that side of him justice. There’s one point when he’s angry, but Liam doesn’t want it to be like that with him. When they come together it’s because the time is right for both of them and Travis is willing to let Liam into their lives fully and let him be Hannah’s dad as well. The later stories are all explicit, including theirs.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Oh, you authors are always teasing me with future books, damn. So, where did the idea originate from? And although there are shifters we don’t see a change and it seems like you have put a lot of thought into what your shifters will be like… you know not instant mates and changing at the drop of a hat.
Caitlin Ricci There is a change :). I don’t like instant mates because it seems to be forcing the other person into a relationship. Arranged marriages are fun and I may do a story about one someday but forced forever binding relationships are not something I find sexy. The idea started with Samson. In his story (Pine Hollow Wolves #2) he rescues a child from a fire, finds himself overcome with smoke and passes out. He finds himself in an animal shelter and can’t get out without exposing himself since there’s cameras in the shelter. I like magic based Shifters as opposed to traditional werewolves where the bones break, there’s lots of pain, they end up naked, etc. I thought about having them naked but with Hannah around that wasn’t going to happen. They can choose clothes or not though. They’re no larger as dogs than they are as humans, which is still really big. But there’s no sudden change of mass to try to explain.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, but that change doesn’t count *raspberry*, Ha Hannah is a proper cutie and I loved how you worked her into the book without it getting to silly… got to say though that I admired Travis’ patience. I so wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from hauling off and giving someone a beat-down!!
So tell us about your hobbies or what you do in your spare time.
Caitlin Ricci Me neither. I think the only reason he didn’t was because he knew that Hannah was there and no good parent wants their child to see that. It was a hard line though deciding how much Liam would do, since he’s far more into justice and making sure that his new little family is safe than worrying about what people think.
Classes take up a lot of my spare time when I’m not writing. I’m also a nurse aid and I work with Alzheimer’s patients and other forms of dementia. I have a dog that I love that I try to take on a walk every day. I enjoy movies, listen to loads of different music and do a ton of laundry. Ideally, though, I’d like to cut that back to writing most of the day, walk with the dog and a movie at night. I enjoy horseback riding. I used to write poetry, but I haven’t in years, camping, fishing, shooting at the range, painting and cooking.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Damn! When do you have time to breathe!!
Caitlin Ricci Lol. Most of that I do on my minimal vacations. Generally, my life is writing, school, work, fiancée, dog. I work part-time so that makes the rest of it fit in nicely. Shooting is done on the weekends, same with fishing generally since we like to go early in the morning. Writing I can do whenever I want to though since I take a pen, paper and my tablet with me everywhere. A few hundred words is still writing and when people get nosy I get to tell them that I’m working on my next novel. They either get curious or give me the “you’re crazy” look and go away.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. So you said Scott (the fiancé) is supportive. What did he first think when you started writing m/m?
Caitlin Ricci He said the same thing that he says now- that he’s happy for me, but wants me to go back to writing my YA MF series that he told his family about, so he can share it with them. They are supportive of that I write, but they don’t know what. Same with my family. He stopped caring that I watch gay porn and call it research though which is a nice plus. Really though, he’s supportive no matter what I choose to write, because it makes me happy and my eventual goal is to live off writing. If I can support us both with something that I love to do and he can take care of the house and the kids while I play with beautiful men in my head that would be awesomeness rolled in chocolate and dusted with glitter.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Aww. That’s so lovely. I must admit I have heard some horror stories from other authors about how their family’s reacted badly or someone leaked it and they lost their jobs *shakes head* some people are just stupid. Right, so any secrets you want to share? *raises eyebrow*
Caitlin Ricci I write under a pen name, so that I don’t lose my job or my future career. Not many people would be okay with their child’s counselor writing MM erotic romance, or any erotica actually. I’m still debating on whether or not to keep the name for my YA stuff or not.
Caitlin Ricci Hmmmm…. secrets…. I worry that I bother the SP staff too much and that they’ll realize I’m not worth the trouble :).
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews *Laughed myself silly* Damn girl, I read your book they won’t be letting go any time soon.
Caitlin Ricci Thank you darling :) With my book coming out the day after tomorrow I realize that’s not likely, but it’s still hard to believe that my story got turned into a book which people have read and will be reading and that people will hopefully like and that my second book, Taming the Lion Tamer, was accepted as well, but there’s no release out on that yet.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Ohhhh new book *stars in eyes as gazes off into a dream world*. ~shakes head~ Okay, I was about to ask if there was anything else in the pipeline other that Pine Hollow Wolves. Will Taming the Lion Tamer be a series or a stand alone?
Caitlin Ricci And, if anyone is wondering if they’ll like my writing or not they can always pick up the Silver Shorts which are available for free off the SP website. I’ve got shorts in most of the ones from week 20 on.
Caitlin Ricci Right now it’s a standalone, but there is a sequel that might happen. Taming is about Quinn and Charlie. Charlie has a sister who has been divorced for about 2 years now, but she will get back together with her ex in her own book.
Blurb for Taming the Lion Tamer- Charlie thought it would be like any other Friday working as an animator. Then in walked Quinn and his rescued Asiatic Lion. For years Quinn has devoted his life to rescuing big cats so when an animation company offers him a donation in exchange for bringing one of the cats in to model he jumps on it.
Charlie’s so nervous that he can barely look at Quinn, much less talk to him. Quinn is confident, friendly and too handsome for words. Charlie can’t believe it when Quinn notices him, and then invites him up to the sanctuary for the weekend. He’s enthralled and finds himself falling hard for the man his sister calls Sex God Quinn Fitzgerald.
Draft blurb…so it won’t be the final, but it’s a sneak peek.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Hmmm. looks interesting… we will all keep our fingers crossed for you. **whispers* You are supposed to push books at the end so you can put up all the links *wink**
Caitlin Ricci http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2012/050/2/d/stay_with_me_this_sunny_day_by_vishstudio-d4qajc0.jpg and that’s a link to see the inspiration for Charlie, in case anyone is interested…. I just think he’s pretty to look at
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews *cough* Yeah he is all right I suppose * drool*
Caitlin Ricci There’s no link though yet: P. I will follow the rules next time!
Hmmm, more new stuff…… working on Pine Hollow Wolves 2 and 3.
Book 3 being with Samson’s sister, Evangeline.
I have another MM planned called The Runaway. I also have two MM stories (a 5k short and something over 20k) awaiting acceptance at Silver Publishing
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews So, there will be a lot of scope for you to play with and a lot to choose from.
Caitlin Ricci The 5k short is a St Patty’s Day fun little thing and the 20k is (working title) Marked by Grief which I’m pretty proud of. It made a beta reader cry so at least the emotion is strong in it :)
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Wow, busy bee. Yip.
Caitlin Ricci totally busy but that’s how I like it. Oh! And I forgot to mention the MMM story that is my current WIP PITA. I say that lovingly, of course. It’s my first time writing MMM, so getting the dynamics right is like playing with lit matches and trying to juggle them all at once.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews MMM is a hard one to do. But, if you have the right balance between the characters it should work well. Looks like you will be keeping Silver busy for some time ;-) and we will have lots to look forward to *g* lucky readers.
Caitlin Ricci :) I certainly hope so. It’s a lot of fun to write about guys and before trying it I had no idea how enjoyable it could really be. I still like writing about women, but there’s something different and fun and OMG sexy about two guys who happen to fall in love.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews There is and you also have more diversity with the characters as well. Okay, so I am getting dirty looks off my starving kids so just a few more questions. This is the most important one… if the world were to change into a magical world what magical or mythical creature would you be?
Caitlin Ricci Hmmm…. gah hard one. And I thought this would be easy :P. Okay… thinking…. thinking… thinking… A shifter absolutely. But something that could fly…. so probably a dragon. Something fierce, protective, could still go bounding around the countryside with my dragon friends, but wouldn’t be nearly helpless like a unicorn or Selkie.
And flight would be important, although I’d be large so staying hidden would be an issue. And eating knights would be a pain. But, being a griffon wouldn’t be that much fun either and there’s no way I’d be a basilisk. So yep, a dragon.
Western, not eastern.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. You wouldn’t go back in time. *snigger* Hell Hound beats all of them hands down… that’s what I’d be.
Caitlin Ricci A hell-hound would be an awesome choice, especially considering all of their powers. It’s the imminent death thing that I wouldn’t like though. Sounds lonely when if someone sees you, they know they’re going to die.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, but remember they guard the gates of hell, which means they would have loads of friends on tap. ;-)
Okay. So, before I choke to death laughing, tell all the readers who will become your fans *scowl* they will!! Where they can find you, so they can tell you how awesome you are.
Caitlin Ricci Lol. True. I’ve wondered what it would be like to be Ammut, too. Same idea, only not nearly as cool looking. And she just eats the hearts so only sort of the same.
Lol. Fans would be awesome and comments are always appreciated! They can contact me here on FB or on my blog at http://authorcaitlinricci.blogspot.com/. And Silver Publishing is giving away a copy of Almost Paradise tomorrow so make sure to enter if you haven’t already. My blog is also a great place to find good music and sexy pictures of guys.
Stalkers are welcome, too. Since it’s a public profile :P.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yep. So, I have to bring this interview to a close (why do we call it an interview when it’s a chat and free for all?) and I have to thank you for being gracious enough to join us here at MM Good Book Reviews and thank you for being a good sport and putting up with me;-)
Caitlin Ricci Seriously, the pleasure was all mine and I had a great time. Thanks for inviting me over and it was great talking with you.
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Great talking to you to, and we will do something in the future when you are an old hand at being an author. Thanks again Caitlin… Bye.
Caitlin Ricci Sounds great. Have an excellent evening and thanks again for your time. Bye!
Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Enjoy the rest of your day *waves* bye.
Caitlin Ricci thanks, you too.