Saturday, June 13, 2015

'Bear River Bride (Mail Order Bride Romance)' by Callie Hartwood


Lucas is the sheriff and protector of his remote shifter community, but his title is at stake. Darren, his young deputy, has challenged his position. To secure his title, Lucas has to find a mate—fast. With few eligible shifter women in the community, Lucas joins an online service that arranges marriages. This is his best—and fastest—chance to find a mate and keep his position as protector of the community. 

Julia is smart, confident, and beautifully curvy. She has spent her life focused on her career and now that she’s achieved her professional dreams, she wonders if something might be missing. She joins the online matching site to find her perfect husband and when she is matched with Lucas, she is immediately connected with him, but it is obvious he is keeping something from her.

When Lucas saw Julia, his bear claimed her for his own. He knew instantly he had found his mate, but she was human. How would his community handle him choosing a human for his mate? No other human had mated into the community, and choosing Julia would jeopardize his place as protector even more—but he can’t deny his bear, nor his desire.

Read the first chapter:

Lucas sighed and propped his black boots on his desk. The sun had long since gone down and his lonely office was illuminated only by the single lamp on his modest desk.
It had been a long day, but he couldn’t pack-up and go home quite yet. Bear River’s population was only about 2,000 and was a safe haven for the bear shifter community and their generations old secret, but being the sheriff and protector of the community had long hours. Lucas eyed the stack of paperwork on the desk beside his boots and let his head fall back against the chair in an attempt to avoid thinking about it.
Like his father before him, he had stepped into the role of alpha and kept his community safe from outside hunters and poachers. In the confines of their town, they were able to shift into their bear form and wander the river beds and piney hills in peace. However, that didn’t stop them from feuding with each other—and the daunting stack of forms on his desk proved it.
With a groan, Lucas lowered his feet and pulled the first sheet toward him. It was a file of complaint: the Strat family was filing against their neighbors for attempting to build a property on a portion of their land. Lucas resisted the urge to scoff. There were no official property lines, but each family had declared their own space. He knew why their neighbors—the Richards—were expanding and was struggling with the best way to settle the dispute. Darren Richards, and his deputy, had just gotten married and was looking to build his new family a home. It was an understandable motivation, and Lucas couldn’t deny it.
Lucas steepled his fingers under his strong, square chin and stared at the document. Perhaps he should just wait for Darren to return from his honeymoon and have him deal with it. Lucas leaned back in his chair and swiveled from side to side.
Darren was a couple years younger than his age of 36, but he had already accomplished a part of life that Lucas had long ignored. As the alpha, it had always been more important to put the needs of the community before his own; the pursuit of a family fell to the side and was forgotten. It didn’t help that there were very few shifter women in the community to choose from, and by now most of them were married off.
In fact, Darren had managed to mate with the last truly eligible shifter woman in the community. Lucas let out a sigh and rubbed his eyes. He was happy for them, he truly was.
He and Sasha had dated years ago, but he couldn’t commit to her the way a mate should. As it turned out, she belonged with Darren, not him. Lucas felt his bear paw at him and he shrugged it off. She never stirred his bear the way he assumed a mate would, but it didn’t matter much anyway.
He had chosen this life as the protector and it seemed a mate was out of the question. His bear gave a haughty huff and Lucas ignored it. He flipped through a couple more of the documents, completing what he could until his broad shoulders slumped with exhaustion. He would have to do the rest in the morning, and hopefully Darren would be back to add his assistance.
Lucas filed the forms away and switched off the desk lamp. He locked up the sheriff’s station behind him and climbed up the steep, rocky hill toward his cabin. He took a deep breath of the cool night air and felt his bear stir, wanting to run up the slope. With a shrug, and a glance at the empty street behind him, Lucas stripped himself of his uniform and changed into his bear. He gathered his uniform in his jaws and climbed the rest of the way home, his brown fur ruffling in the gentle mountain breeze.
“I don’t know what Tony’s problem is. I swear, Luke, I talked to him before the wedding about building my cabin there and he was fine with it.” Darren said, shaking the complaint form in frustration. Lucas shrugged and took a sip of his coffee.
“Well, he either forgot that or changed his mind. What do you want to do?” Lucas replied, sifting through the incomplete forms from last night.
Darren ran a hand through his blond, curly hair and shook his head. He dropped the form on Lucas’s desk and leaned against his own desk parallel to it.
“I’m not sure. I should probably try talking with him again, with you as the mediator of course, and settle this man to man.” Darren said. Lucas nodded and filed the form he had completed.
“That sounds good. I’ll set up a meeting on neutral grounds to work this through.” Lucas said. Darren nodded wordlessly.
After a few moments, Darren pushed himself off his desk and maneuvered to the growing stack of unfinished work, taking half the pile to finish off. He dropped the papers on his desk and paused, glancing uncertainly at Lucas. Lucas could sense that Darren had something more on his mind, but kept his brown eyes turned down and continued to work. Taking a deep breath, Darren found the courage to speak what was plaguing his mind.
“Aren’t you going to ask about the wedding?” He asked. Lucas paused, setting his pen down on his desk. Honestly, it hadn’t occurred to him. A wedding was a wedding, weren’t they all the same? He gave a nod and leaned back in his chair.
“How was the wedding?” He asked, trying to make his tone sound like he cared. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about Darren or his happiness, but he just didn’t see the big deal with weddings. The mating ritual between shifters was a very private affair, and he saw no need to create a public event to celebrate that intimate connection. Darren eyed him coolly, detecting that the question was forced.
“It was wonderful. Both of our families were there and most of the community showed up. It was great to celebrate that significant moment with everyone.” Darren said, his tone flat and a little sad. Lucas felt a pang of guilt and pursed his lips, unsure how to continue.
“I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it. Gillian’s cubs had wandered off and she needed help finding them.” Lucas said, hoping his excuse was acceptable. It was the truth, but the other truth was that if he had tried he probably still could have attended. Darren nodded, his green eyes downcast.
“I really am sorry, I’m just not very good with the whole wedding thing.” Lucas added. Darren’s eyes shot to his and a slight flush rose to his cheeks.
“Don’t you think it’s important for the alpha to understand family?” Darren finally said. Lucas was taken aback.
“Well of course! I do understand family, this whole community is my family and I do whatever I can to keep them safe.” Lucas defended. Darren nodded curtly again, walking around his desk and taking his seat.
“Yes, but that’s not the same. Having your own family to protect makes you understand what you’re protecting. I just think the alpha should have that understanding.” Darren said, not breaking eye contact from Lucas. Lucas frowned, picking up on the unspoken implication in Darren’s words.
“Are you saying I am unfit to lead this community?” Lucas asked. There was a long pause where neither of them spoke, both knowing that Darren’s response would either alter the conditions of their relationship drastically, or be brushed off as anger and disappointment.
“Perhaps, it would be better if someone who understood community and family more was the alpha instead.” Darren finally said after a long pause. Lucas pursed his lips and stared at Darren, analyzing the younger man’s determined and defiant gaze.
“Alright,” Lucas started, leaning forward, “I will find a mate, and all this ‘unfit’ talk is over. Agreed?” He said, accepting the challenge. It was gutsy for Darren to challenge the alpha for dominance, that hadn’t happened in the community since before his grandfather.
His family had the sword duty and obligation to this town, and Lucas was damned if he would be the one to end the reign. Darren nodded and stood up, walking over to stand in front of Lucas. Lucas slowly stood up, stretching to his full height of 6’4” and met Darren at eye-level.
“And if you don’t find a mate by the end of the month?” Darren asked, negotiating the terms of the challenge.
“If I don’t find a mate by the end of the month, we will settle this challenge the traditional way.” Lucas said, holding out his right hand. Darren grasped his hand and gave a firm shake, wordlessly agreeing to the terms. It was settled, Lucas would have to find himself a mate— and fast— if he was to hold on to his title.

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RomLiaisons Books

Callie Hartwood is the author of a number of paranormal romance fiction shorts and novellas. Her heroines are sometimes BBW's and the male leads are sometimes billionaires, werewolves or werebears.

The stories revolve around romance but there is also plenty of room for some steamy moments and unusual paranormal encounters.

More books are in the pipeline so stay tuned!

You can read all my stories for FREE with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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