The heroes of my new Samhain release, Foxes’ Den, are atypical for the paranormal romance subgenre. First off, they begin the book happily married to each other, which is hardly the norm, even in a menage story but was the only possible way to tell the story I wanted to tell.
What I had the most fun with, though, is that neither Paul nor Tag is a classic alpha male. Paul Donovan, a witch, has the power and protectiveness associated with the alpha, but he’s more the gentleman-and-scholar type, at least to outward appearances. He speaks softly, he’s always polite and his magic is largely defensive. He is, however, far from weak, and the heroine, Akane, with her ancient perspective, sees this:
Naked, he was as elegant as he was clothed, his body lean and ivory white and almost hairless except for his groin, and that was neatly trimmed. Still, like the Japanese men she’d known in an era where strength and elegance were not seen as contradictory, he was unmistakably masculine, and almost unspeakably delicious. He looked more poet than warrior, except she’d seen his aura. He wouldn’t need a sword, a gun, or anything messy like that if he had to defend himself. His enemies would have a hard time even getting close.
But the serious Paul needed a companion who helps him loosen up—and Akane, an immortal kitsune who starts out the story trapped in a mortal body, needs a hero who can keep up with a mischievous, shapeshifting avatar of a trickster deity. Paul has the magic to do so, but she needs someone as mercurial of personality as she is. Enter fox shapeshifter Taggart Ross-Donovan, who introduces himself, in a sweet Tennessee accent, as “the witch’s chauffeur, muscle, designated rogue, and husband.”
“A fox shapeshifter?”, you might say. “That doesn’t sound very tough.” And on the surface, you’d be right. A fox dual’s animal form doesn’t grant him a great fighting advantage. What it does do is add a fox’s animal cunning to Tag’s considerable human intellect. And like a fox, Tag is small, but lithe, graceful and much stronger in a pinch than you’d think. And he fights dirty! He and Akane both like to play pranks, like to shake up the orderly world around them.
At the same time, he’s an old-school Southern gentleman—and face it, those guys have a strong dose of rogue. When Paul is reluctant to use sex magic to help Akane because, according to his family’s tradition, it would violate his marriage vows with Tag, Tag uses a combination of chivalry and roguishness to persuade him:
Paul did his best to ignore the tempting hardness. “I couldn’t live with myself if we do this and it screws things up between us.”
“I respect you for worryin’ about that, but it won’t.” Tag pulled away, leaving Paul half relieved, half frustrated. Then he moved in front of Paul. Shorter than his husband, Tag could still loom when he needed to. “And I don’t think either of us can live with ourselves if we don’t help out someone who needs us like Akane does. That goes against everything we were both taught, things a lot more basic than your rules for married people. When someone’s in trouble, you help—and that girl’s in trouble.”
Okay, score one for his husband. Neither a Donovan nor a Southern gentleman, even a roguish one, could say no to rescuing a damsel in distress. Paul couldn’t help smiling, though, at the way Tag phrased it. “That ‘girl’ is older than English, Tag, and more powerful than any four Donovans in her natural form. Just because she’s petite and sexy and adorable…”
“Ha! You said it first!”
“You probably thought it first.”
Tag’s chuckle in response was very close to a chuff. “I’d bet we thought it about the same time. She’s thirty-one flavors of hot. But we’d still need to help her if she had a face like roadkill and a body to match. The fact it might be fun in her case as well as the right thing to do”—he scratched where his fox ears lived under the skin—“probably makes you feel guilty, don’t it?”
And then, of course, he takes Paul to bed and finishes his…artful persuasions.
I created these non-standard heroes for several reasons. One is they seemed like a perfect foil for Akane, who, in her natural form, is a divine avatar. She doesn’t need muscle. She needs someone who can keep up with her wit and her centuries of knowledge.
But the main reason is they were just plain fun to write. Both Paul and Tag are articulate and smart. They’re not the strong silent type; they’re the strong, talkative type who know that discussing emotions doesn’t make them weak. They’re snarky when it’s time for words to wound and incredible at sweet talk when it’s time for romance. They use words as their first weapons and as their first tool in a seduction. And oooh, this just pressed all my buttons! I love a man who spins a good yarn, tells a good joke, and creates an erotic mood with well chosen words. These heroes are experts at verbal seduction—although once they’re actually in bed, Paul’s verbal facility has to take over, since duals like Tag tend to lose track of human language in the grip of good sex.
He talked too. After centuries where her rare encounters had been with duals who might growl or roar, but couldn’t manage anything much more articulate during sex than, “Oh yeah, baby!” or “Please”, she’d almost forgotten the power of words spoken at the right time.
Paul had that power. “Lord and Lady, Tag, you’re so hot and tight around me. Your ass…I feel like the most powerful witch in the world because I’m lucky enough to be able to fuck your ass. Or get fucked by you. I hope he’s being good to you, Akane, because I know how talented my Tag is with his cock and his hands and his mouth.”
She shuddered, both at the dark, low stream of sexy words and at Tag’s tongue swirling over a just-bitten, delightfully tender nipple. Shuddered and clenched a little around Tag’s cock, remembering just in time that she needed to hold off her orgasm as long as possible and let her arousal build to power the magic.
Dirty talk is so hot, isn’t it? Who needs huge muscles when you’ve got amazing verbal dexterity? I could go on and on about why these are perfect foils for their heroine—but what is really comes down to brains are the biggest sex organ of all.
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Teresa Noelle Roberts writes erotic paranormal romances for Samhain and Phaze. Foxes’ Den is the second book in the Duals and Donovans: The Different series. The first, Lions’ Pride, features shape-shifting feline alpha hunks and the Ph.D. witch who loves them both. Next up: Threshing the Grain, due from Phaze this fall, in which a tough warrior hero and his healer wife have to make some most unusual sacrifices to defeat a demon. Visit her on the Web at http://teresanoelleroberts.blogspot.com or friend her on Facebook.