Not the Leader of the Pack

When Emotions Run Off the Leash By Annabeth Leong
Many thanks to Brynna Curry for hosting me here today!
I like werewolves (and other shifters) because they literally embody conflict. Human versus animal. Civilization versus nature. Freedom versus control. No matter how many stories are written about shifters, these conflicts remain interesting to me because they’re about very fundamental human struggles.
I designed the world I write in particularly to explore freedom versus control. The Werewolf Council aims to protect shifters from human scrutiny by loading them with regulations that prevent them from expressing their wilder sides. The main characters choke under the weight of these rules, which are so numerous they’d be hard for a normal human to follow, let alone a person who constantly struggles with an inner beast that wants to be let out.
However, as I wrote my most recent book, Not the Leader of the Pack, a new angle began to emerge. I originally envisioned freedom and control as issues of behavior. Do the characters follow the law, or do they follow their own desires? As this story unfolded, however, I found the characters struggling with controlling their own emotions.
In my world, strong emotions begin to take a werewolf into the shift. This means that in intense situations, the characters have to hold back their emotions first and foremost, or risk exposing themselves as werewolves to the normal humans around them. My main characters, Neil and Juli, can hardly be in the same room without being overwhelmed by feelings. Writing about them, I discovered a key conflict—these characters long for the freedom to feel their feelings without holding them back.
In many scenes, I found myself struck by how cruel it would be to ask people to suppress their feelings to the extent that Neil and Juli must. And yet, so many times I’ve held back tears, or told someone that whatever just happened wasn’t a big deal, or lived with desire that I never expressed.
Ultimately, I believe the supernatural creatures that fascinate us reflect something about what it means to be human. As Neil and Juli searched for freedom, I found myself following in their footsteps, searching for a way to let my feelings off the leash now and again.
Excerpt:
Neil worried who else in the crowded bar had heard Juli mention the pack. And who else had seen that furry paw she’d thrust into his face.
They both froze for a second, staring at her latest lapse of control.
“Damn it.” Juli’s curse came out more as a growl than as words.
“We need to get out of here,” Neil said. “You just focus on staying cool.” She knew better than to argue with him. He grabbed her hand and pulled her out, leaving their beers behind. They could finish this conversation in his truck.
They ran for the truck like the rest of the world was on fire, and slammed the doors behind them once they got there. Juli writhed in her seat, gasping, her wolf form rippling just on the other side of her skin. Neil panted in response. He didn’t normally have trouble controlling his shift, but with her beside him, so close, too much of him wanted to meet her in a place of complete abandon. He wanted to run with her under the moon, fight her for supremacy until neither cared who wound up on top or on the bottom. Then, with one last vicious pounce, he wanted to surrender to the merging of their bodies. He swallowed hard.
Stats. He ran through the winning World Series teams for the last three decades. He tried to calculate his total career RBIs. The stream of data calmed Neil down. He started the car. “I’m going to drive us somewhere a little more private,” he told Juli. “Just in case.”
“Back to the hospital.”
“You’re in no shape—”
“Back to the hospital.” She showed fangs. Neil didn’t need that so soon after he’d regained his own control. He stopped arguing and pressed the gas. They’d go somewhere. He just needed to be driving so he had something to concentrate on besides the idea of Juli giving herself up to the beast. He needed a really good reason to remain in human form.
Blurb:
Rival alphas Juli Gunby and Neil Statham want to tear each other apart — but will they do it in battle or as mates?
When Juli Gunby left Missoula, Montana, she didn’t intend to come back. Not to her exacting alpha werewolf father, and certainly not to Neil Statham, the beta who rejected Juli’s girlish advances. Her father, as usual, has other ideas, using his dying breath to pass pack leadership to his daughter. Juli resolves to carry out her duty to her father and her pack, but the one man she wants on her side has made himself her enemy.
After years of loyal service to the pack, Neil expects to take over as alpha when his mentor dies. As good as it is to see Juli again, he knows he can’t trust her. After all, she abandoned both him and the pack years ago and never looked back. Neil determines to fight for his rightful position in the pack, even if that means going up against a woman who fills him with an overwhelming urge to mate every time she walks into the room.
Someone needs to lead, and the more Neil and Juli fight, the more they attract interference from those who would control the pack and destroy the ties between them.
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Bio:
Annabeth Leong has written romance and erotica of many flavors — dark, kinky, vanilla, straight, lesbian, bi, and menage. Her titles for Breathless Press include Not His Territory, Not the Leader of the Pack, and a contribution to the Ravagedanthology. She enjoys writing about the tension between passion and control that werewolves embody. Unfortunately, when Annabeth loses control of herself, she does not gain the power to change shape. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, blogs at annabethleong.blogspot.com, and tweets @AnnabethLeong. She loves talking books on Goodreads, too: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5295946.Annabeth_Leong
Buy One, Get One Free Offer:

Not the Leader of the Pack stands alone, but Annabeth has written in its world before. She’d love to share the previous title, Not His Territory, with current readers. If you’d like to participate, e-mail proof of purchase of Not the Leader of the Pack, such as an Amazon receipt, to annabeth dot leong at gmail dot com and let her know your e-book format of choice. Annabeth will buy a copy of Not His Territory for the first 25 people who respond.Rival alphas Juli Gunby and Neil Statham want to tear each other apart — but will they do it in battle or as mates?

When Juli Gunby left Missoula, Montana, she didn’t intend to come back. Not to her exacting alpha werewolf father, and certainly not to Neil Statham, the beta who rejected Juli’s girlish advances. Her father, as usual, has other ideas, using his dying breath to pass pack leadership to his daughter. Juli resolves to carry out her duty to her father and her pack, but the one man she wants on her side has made himself her enemy.

After years of loyal service to the pack, Neil expects to take over as alpha when his mentor dies. As good as it is to see Juli again, he knows he can’t trust her. After all, she abandoned both him and the pack years ago and never looked back. Neil determines to fight for his rightful position in the pack, even if that means going up against a woman who fills him with an overwhelming urge to mate every time she walks into the room.

Someone needs to lead, and the more Neil and Juli fight, the more they attract interference from those who would control the pack and destroy the ties between them.

Not the Leader of the Pack is released by Breathless Press on the 31st May.

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