Monday, November 7, 2016

Pets in Space: When Hero Meets Heroine

The nine stories in Pets in Space, being science fiction romance tales, include that special moment when Hero first meets Heroine...and the sparks begin to ignite.

It might be subtle.

It may be explosive.

Or quite possibly perplexing.

It could even be the result of a happy--or not so happy--reunion.

Whatever the situation, the universe always quakes a bit when the H+H paths intersect.

We wanted to share a little of this story magic with you today by bringing you a few of the star-crossed moments from Pets in Space. (And please also read our special message at the bottom of this post.)


From Star Cruise: Stowaway
By Veronica Scott

A loud click echoed in the cargo bay and the seams on the crate glowed yellow, unsealing in a smooth progression along the rim. Sure enough a deluge of liquid followed, but Embersson froze for a moment as he saw what had been inside the crate. Then he was on his knees beside the now-open container, heedless of the green cryo fluid soaking his pants, as he tried to extricate the woman who’d been illegally stored inside. She was tightly curled in the midst of the cryo tubes, and he swore again as he realized chains bound her ankles.

Carefully he disentangled her from the nonfunctioning equipment. She opened her eyes for a moment, staring straight at him with beautiful green and gold eyes before convulsing, knocking Embersson off balance. He broke the fall for both of them, holding her securely.

Midorri scrabbled across his body, gently poking the woman with her head, making mewling sounds.

Shoving the beast away with his elbow as he got to his feet, he observed the woman wasn’t breathing.

About Author Veronica Scott
Veronica Scott is a bestselling author of science fiction romance, including the Sectors Series, and the SciFi Encounters columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog.

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From The Real Dragon
By Pauline Baird Jones

I pushed a particularly large branch aside and there it was.

My jaw dropped and in my amazement the horizon spun around the ship, but not in a bad way. More like a flourish. I moved forward, because it was too cool to fear. Straight out of a bigger budget scifi movie, its sleek, aerodynamic lines made my geek heart go pit-a-pat with happy. Big enough to fill the clearing almost from edge to edge, it was thickest at the center. It was so much what I’d expected it was almost a cliche, except it wasn’t because it was there. It was real. And it glowed the shade of green most associated with alien encounters. Seriously, it was like that green had been matched to this ship. I drew close, my hand lifting because I just had to touch it, but a crack appeared in the side closest to me, a crack that rapidly turned into a lowering ramp. I froze with one hand half lifted. Just visible at the top of the ramp, I saw booted feet. Brown boots. A bit buccaneer-ish. Sassy. I would buy those boots.

I thought that before. For the first time, I believed I had been here, that I’d felt this, seen this. But then the boots started moving toward me…

This wasn’t a movie. This was real. I backed up as the horizon began to spin around me again—and this time not in a good way—with the ship at the center, as if it needed to keep pace with my suddenly racing heart. I wasn’t worried, not about meeting Mr. Boots. There was something else, some other worry that made panic build…

The horizon spun faster, blurring it into an impressionist painting. Then it tilted to one side as my suddenly weak knees hit the dirt. Oddly enough I was more worried about landing in a fire ant bed than the alien wearing the boots a few inches from my nose. I tried to put a hand out to touch them, but my hand didn’t move. The spin of the horizon narrowed to a pinpoint. And then went dark.

About Author Pauline Baird Jones
Pauline never liked reality, so she writes books. She likes to wander among the genres, rampaging like Godzilla, because she does love peril mixed in her romance.

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From Spark of Attraction
By Cara Bristol

If he allowed even a small insubordination, it would spread. A ship’s captain had to maintain order and control. He looked at the liaison. “Get with Lieutenant Commander Brack and remove the animal. That’s an order.”

Now he had something else to feel guilty about. But what could he do? So much for the ‘let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you’ speech he’d planned. His first officer had been right. He should have let her handle this. Dante turned to leave.

The woman blocked his passage. “I’m keeping my dog with me. You try to take him, and you’ll see what happens!” Anger animated her entire face, giving him a glimpse of what she looked like when she was healthy.

That inappropriate sexual heat flared low in his abdomen. “Do not threaten me.” Dante leveled a stare that caused those under his command to quake in their boots. “My order stands. Now, move out of the way.”

“No.” She planted her feet wide apart.

Gently, he grasped her arms to shift her out of his path.

Behind him, the dog growled.

“Sparky’s not even a real animal! He’s a K9-500 bot!” She wrenched away, the force of the jerk causing her to lose her balance. She started to topple, and he lunged to catch her before she fell.

The mongrel snarled, charged, and latched its teeth onto his ankle.

About Author Cara Bristol
USA Today bestselling author Cara Bristol has been the no. 1 best seller in science fiction romance, bdsm erotica, and holiday fiction on Amazon. She’s the author of two science fiction romance series featuring tough alpha heroes: the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance cyborg series and the Breeder science fiction romance series.

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From StarDog
By Laurie A. Green

Taro paused as he hit the intersection with Tiharra Lane and glanced in both directions, looking for a red and yellow tent. It wasn’t easy to pick out in the colorful riot of chevroned, crested, and flowered vendor stalls, but his gaze soon settled on a larger pavilion with broad stripes in the correct colors half a square to his right. He nodded to himself and headed in that direction.

The tent was sheltered from the Carduwan sun by a graceful, long-limbed Tiharra Angel Willow, probably the very tree that gave the street its name. When Taro was just a few strides away, the vendor appeared in the entrance, reaching up to unroll the tent’s flap. She was tall, trim, and her shining black-chestnut hair caught the sunlight like a Purmian oil ruby.

“Hang on,” Taro called out. “I was hoping to do some business.”

She turned to him with a soft smile, and his breath locked in his throat when he was met by intelligent, aquamarine eyes.

“You said the magic words.” She laughed. “I’ll extend my hours today, just for you.” She gave him a friendly wink and pushed the tent flap back into its keep.

Taro took a hesitant step forward. “Are you…Dini Kemm?”

“Adini. Yes.” Her eyes veiled with caution. “Who’s asking?”

Taro held out his hand. “Nav Taro Shall with the Calypso. Another vendor sent me your way.”

“Really? What is it you’re looking for?”

“I’m on the hunt for an exterminator. Did I come to the right place?”

Her bright smile returned. “Oh, you did indeed.”

In her elegant, white poet blouse, navy long vest, and split skirt, she looked more like a Miss Carduwa candidate than an exterminator to him, but who was he to judge? “What are your rates?”

“I don’t charge by the job.” There was that beautiful smile again. “I charge by the exterminator.”

About Author Laurie A. Green
Laurie writes romantic adventure that might take place anytime...or anywhere. She's a former military budget director, a three-time Golden Heart finalist, and winner of the 2016 Carolyn Readers Choice Award.



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From Spike
By Alexis Glynn Latner

(Mission Designer Anastasia Steed has just finished excoriating a room full of engineers, technicians, and work groups because preparations for an interstellar rescue mission are too far behind schedule with too many problems cropping up. These people have all fled back to work.)

Ten was left standing in the Meetingspace by himself. That was when Anastasia Steed saw him. “And you are still here why?” she said dangerously.

“I work in the Devices Lab. I was asked to hand-deliver something for you to give to Captain Zilka.”

Taking the envelope from him, she calmed quickly. “OK. Who are you?”

His spine stiffened with scarred old pride. “Ten Jaxdown.”

She tilted her head to one side. “Did you take the name of where you lived on Earth for your new name on this side of the stars?”

He nodded.

“What was Jaxdown?”

***

She didn’t know what Jaxdown had been.

As far as he could tell, nobody in this unexpected future knew. It hadn't bothered him before now. He'd been too stuffed-with-cotton numb, not feeling anything. The doctors said emotional blunting was a side effect of the cryostasis. They also said it would wear off. Since his intellect was unimpaired, they recommended wait and see, or better yet, work and see. He'd done that. It hadn't made the cotton go away.

But she—that small, animated, young blonde woman, Anastasia Steed, with the ringing voice and the bright anger, improbably cheered on by the swirling sparks in the ceiling of the Meetingspace—she made some of the cotton go away.

That she didn't know the meaning of his name bothered him like an iron filing under his skin.

About Author Alexis Glynn Latner
Alexis Glynn Latner's science fiction novel Hurricane Moon was published by Pyr in 2007 and again by Avendis Press in 2014 with sequels Downfall Tide in 2015 and Star Crossing in 2016.

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From A Mate for Matrix: Cyborg Protection Unit
By S.E. Smith

Matrix started to say something when he heard a shriek from behind him. He swiveled on his heel and raised the stunner. His mouth dropped open when he saw the figure of a female staring back at him in horror.

“What the…? Who the hell are you?” The female demanded, her eyes wide with shock before they turned to the small device in his hand.

Her eyes moved back and forth between the stunner he was holding and him. Matrix’s gaze moved appreciatively down over the rich, dark-wood color of her wet hair. The tiny droplets of water moved down her body like a meandering stream. His gaze locked on the fascinating trail of drops and he found himself hypnotized by their downward movement.

In a few brief seconds, his mind processed everything that was in front of him. The female came mid-chest to his own six-foot-two frame. His gaze lingered a fraction of a second longer than necessary on the swell of her breasts peeking out from the top of the towel that inadequately covered her wet figure. The fingers of her right hand tightened while his eyes roved over her. His gaze continued to move downward, following the long gap beneath the joined corners of the towel. Heat began to build inside him the lower his gaze went.

Matrix licked his lips when he saw the creamy flesh of her thigh exposed by the gaping towel. If it moved just a little to the…. His eyes widened for a moment when her hand suddenly struck out.

He blinked as the world grew hazy while his eyes slowly rolled back in his head. Matrix could feel his body starting to collapse to the floor. Three things flashed through his mind before everything went blank; first, he was thankful the creature on his leg had released him, second, the female was pretty, and, third, he should have checked both of her hands.

About Author S.E. Smith
S.E. Smith is a New York Times, USA TODAY, International, and Award-Winning Bestselling author of science fiction, romance, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary works for adults, young adults, and children. She enjoys writing a wide variety of genres that pull her readers into worlds that take them away.


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From Space Ranger
By Lea Kirk

Graig balanced himself on the top rail of the fence and flexed his gloved hands to better grip its worn surface. The Terrian sun rested on the horizon, turning the clouds every shade from coral to deep red in the evening sky. He had managed to accomplish the tasks he’d set for himself today before Simone’s students left in a surface hopper to return to their cubes in New Damon Beach for the night. At some point a barracks should be built to house them here instead. Making the trip to and from town every day seemed like a colossal waste of time. Their focus was to restore Terr to a self-sustaining planet, and that could be done more efficiently if everyone was on site.

The door of the education building opened and Simone stepped out into the evening sunlight. Faster than a kagi shot from the barrel of a telum, Ranger took off across the wide field toward her, and Buck galloped in from where he’d been grazing. Good, the animals would keep her distracted for a few more moments while he tried to collect his wits and slow his racing heartbeat.

She patted Buck’s neck and said something to the horse that he couldn’t make out over the distance. Then she started across the field toward him. This was it; there was no turning back now. He reached down to snag a length of wild grass and set to shredding it with practiced and methodical deliberation. Using the brim of his cowboy hat to shield his face had been a stellar idea, as had been wearing jeans and the long-sleeved plaid shirt. If she figured out too soon who it was sitting on her fence, she’d probably make an abrupt direction change and return to her cube without giving him a chance to speak.

Ranger barked, and the swish of Simone’s footsteps in through the grass slowed. She must see him now, a trespassing stranger. Why hadn’t he heard the soft shoosh of her telum being removed from its holster?

The gangly young canine tore around the fence twice before taking off back down the hill. Now Simone was alone, without even the protection of her dog. And still she hadn’t armed herself. Enough was enough. “You should have your telum out by now.”

“Say what?” She sounded bewildered by his suggestion.

He set his face in a glower and pushed the brim of his hat up with one finger to meet her wide gaze. “A woman alone approaching a strange man in the wilderness of this planet should have her gun trained on him.”

A split-second later, he stared at the business end of her weapon.

About Author Lea Kirk
Lea Kirk loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her romances of science fiction and time travel. She lives in California with her wonderful hubby of twenty-six years, their five kids (aka, the nerd herd), and a Doberman who thinks he's a people.




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From Stray
By Susan Grant

Personal Log, Captain Carlynn Riga

I always thought love at first sight was a ridiculous concept…until it happened to me yesterday…

My best friend Trysh and I sat at an outdoor table at a bar on the surface of Barésh. She said I needed to check out a couple of cute soldiers on patrol. So I took a gander. Super-short haircuts, square jaws, killer bodies wrapped in Interplanetary Marine uniforms, with a K-9 in tow. Their black-and-gray camouflaged ESF uniforms made it hard to tell what rank they wore, but my immediate assumption was that they were enlisted men. Forbidden fruit. We could look all we wanted but we couldn’t touch, since fraternization between officers and enlisted personnel is frowned upon. But, the dog wasn’t off limits. It looked like a yipwag, but was groomed and well fed. Not like the poor scrawny strays you see darting everywhere in this impoverished colony. It seemed to smile at me, its tongue hanging out, its eyes shining. I smiled back, winked, and it tipped its head to the side. “Aw. I want it,” I told Trysh.

“Before you get too attached, it’s a K-9. Trained to kill,” she said.

Death by cuteness, then. It was tethered to the taller of the two men, the one with dark blond hair who was built like a truck and had biceps thicker than my thighs. But he didn’t swagger. He carried himself with a quiet, intense watchfulness. A protector doing his job. What a nice change to see a great-looking man with an air of humbleness about him rather than acting as if he were the center of his universe. It got even better when he lifted one of his hands to rub the back of his neck and his rolled-up sleeve revealed a tantalizing peek at some nice body art. I immediately regretted being too far away to make out the details. All his details.

I sighed as I turned back to Trysh. “I have to say, Blondie is pretty easy on the eyes.”

We giggled about it. Then Trysh stopped in the middle of sipping her drink. “Don’t look now but Blondie’s locked on. He’s looking at you, girl. Hard.” So of course I turned around to peek—and swapped gazes with the Marine. His eyes were a steal-your-breath, butterflies-inducing shade of blue that was ice cold and blazing hot at the same time. Rebellious and wild, and yet mournful, too, like those of a lone wolf. He didn’t glance away, which might have been the mannerly thing to do. Instead, he stood there, looking at me, his eyes totally unguarded, allowing rapid-fire glimpses into his soul the way a dealer shuffles cards, flashing their suits.

Then his dog jerked him forward and practically dragged him across the street with his partner in tow. Blondie stopped right in front of me, standing there as if wondering how he ended up at our table.

The strangest feeling swept through me, of having waited my entire life to meet him. My insides cartwheeled. “Well, hello,” I said to break the silence.

“Good evening, Ma’am.” His eyes were hooded now. He reminded me of a poker player who realized he may have accidentally revealed his cards.

Then his K-9 plopped down in front of me, a furry chin landing in my hands after a few affectionate licks on my wrists. There were no secrets caged in those adoring yellow eyes.

“What’s your name, cutie pie?” Its wagging tail generated a breeze.

“That’s Bang-Bang.” Blondie sounded frustrated. “I don’t get it. He’s never done this before.”

“Never?” I asked the dog as I scrubbed its coarse fur with my fingers. “I thought you were a big, bad military police K-9, but you’re not. You’re adorable, and sweet.” Bang-Bang and I bonded a bit before I collected myself enough to zoom in on the small gold metal bars pinned on the Marine’s collar tabs. “And you’re…a lieutenant.” Ugh. Could I have uttered anything more awkward?

“Yes, Ma’am, he is,” said his sergeant proudly. “That’s Lieutenant Frank. The Lieutenant Frank. He’s the one who—”

“Lukas,” Blondie interrupted, quelling his partner’s outburst with a sideways move of those wolf eyes. “Lukas Frank.”

Lukas Frank. I knew it sounded familiar. But I also knew I definitely would have remembered if I’d met him before. Introductions went around. “You’re a little old for a lieutenant, Lukas. You must be prior enlisted.”

“Yes, Ma’am. I was. Master sergeant, in fact. Now I’m a thirty-one-year-old second lieutenant. That makes me the oldest butter bar on the station.”

“Maybe in the entire ESF Corps.”

He laughed at my joke. “No doubt, Ma’am.” It felt strange having such a normal conversation after what I saw in his eyes. I told him since I was only twenty-six there would be no more ma’am-ing. Even though as a captain I outrank him, technically. But that wasn’t a deal breaker. He was outside my direct chain of command. No wedding band circled his finger. And he seemed interested. I saw no barriers preventing me from getting to know him better.

“I guess I have just one more question, Lukas,” I said, using a flirtatious tone to cover up how much he had unsettled me. “What are you doing after you get off work?”

His wolf eyes glinted. “Buying you a drink.”

About Author Susan Grant
Jumbo jet pilot Susan Grant is a New York Times/USA Today bestselling and RITA Award-Winning author of science fiction, time travel, and paranormal romance featuring strong women and honorable men.


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An Important Message from the Authors

Thank you for reading these hero meets heroine excerpts from some of the stories in Pets in Space.

We're all very honored that 10% of the first month's profit from Pets in Space will be going to support Hero Dogs, an organization that trains and provides service dogs to disabled military veterans.

As timing would have it (or maybe we planned it that way?), the donation period for Hero Dogs ends at midnight on November 11th, Veterans Day.

This week marks our Last Hurrah for Hero Dogs, where the authors invite you to purchase a copy of Pets in Space so that our donation to the cause can be as generous as possible. This collection of wonderful stories has something for everyone. Just take it from a few of the delighted readers on Amazon:

"I haven't been this excited for a book in years!"

“WOW! I love, love, love the Pets in Space!”

“Was I entertained? Completely! Fabulous entertainment and an awesome read!”

“Don't ask me to pick a favorite, I simply can't. I loved them all.”

“…cuddle up with your pet and settle in for several hours of delightful entertainment…”

"...an edge of danger, the thrill of future technology and a heart-tugging romance. Purr-fect reading!"
___________________________
 
Pets in Space is available at the following vendors:
 
 KOBO
 
Thank you for your support! 
 

 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for putting this together, Laurie. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lea. It was fun to do. Such variety in the stories and so many different ways the heroes and heroines collide. :)

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