Flash: Oghan’s Return

Image by Lance Reis on Unsplash

The woman approached Mave confidently, a raptor on her glove. Around the high-flyer gathered many of the younger members of the aerie, tired one and all from a day on the ground in the fields; the group rested, taking advantage of the large boulders removed from the farming soil and laid alongside the workable plots. Several peach trees among the rocks provided covering from Brita for those who wanted shade after a long day of summer work, while the rest soaked up her warm rays laying upon the boulders.

Though outnumbered, the pale female, unmarked on chest by hint of feathers which decorated the raptor shifters’ arms and bodies, carried no scent of fear.

She carried barely any scent at all, only of the sea after a storm. Salt, water, ozone, and death recently raised from the depths. “Oghan said you were the one to talk to.”

“Oghan?” Mave sat forward from where she had been leaning against her nestmate, Bryce, to study the raptor. “You came back.” The stone wizard had disappeared at the Aviary Gathering, a loss to their clan. His return was most welcome but would no doubt come with costs. Magic never flew a straight path.

Bryce spread his hand against Mave’s back, like a wing of support.

“What do you need to discuss, traveler?”

“I would like to join the aerie.”

(words 226; first published 12/17/2023 – inspired by a Facebook visual prompt for a writer’s group; aim is about 50 words, but I decided to link it to the Raptor by the Sea series.)

Raptors by the Sea Series

  1. Raptors by the Sea (9/10/2023)
  2. Outside the Aerie (11/19/2023)
  3. Oghan’s Return (12/17/2023)

Flash: Raptors by the Sea 2 – Outside the Aerie

Photo by John Bell on Unsplash

After her late return at sunset, Mave had to sneak out of her parents nest before Brita did more than pink the edges of the world. She flew hard and fast to be over the horizon before the morning hunts and harvests began.

Her adventures were coming to an end, her parents made that clear last night after the aerie meeting when yet again her suitors laid valuables at her parent’s feet and Mave remained empty-handed. Killean and Fion preened and pecked, nearly coming to blows. Dahee and Oghan let the hunters courting her act like groundlings, hoping the idiots would take it one step too far and eliminate themselves. Excellent artisans both, they couldn’t compete physically for the hand of the heir presumptuous, putting them a little lower in the bidding war status.

As the Clan leaders, once behind closed doors, Donal and Kiera let her know a choice would be made at the next clan meet in three sunsets or they would make it for her. The strife must end.

All four suitors brought something to the nest, but all lacked the mud to hold it together somehow. Her parents preferred Fion, but the very loyalty to the Clan that made him attractive, also meant he didn’t question. As her husband, she would need him to question her decisions. Plus his attitude toward the unchanging made him problematic.

Killean flew the highest and furthest of the male hunters, but his drive and hers clashed like Nephele and Aquine during hurricane season.

Dahee made amazing nests, and baskets, and his gardens grew the tallest, but flying to the meeting cave challenged him; he often joined the unchanging climbing ladders. As the highest flyer, would he grow jealous of her over time? Every mixed couple, raptor and unchanging testified this end. Nuala, a recent widow and a somewhat better flyer, would be perfect for him once she finished mourning, although they hadn’t landed on the same tree to realize that yet.

That left Oghan, a deep cave. His stone magic would make her nest strong, but he had no down. All rock, no soft. He was a welcomed advisor, nearly five rotations her senior; she could only see him at her side at the clan meetings, not in her nest. But if she was forced to choose one of the four, he would be the one she would dance for if only so her aerie didn’t lose his wizardry at the Aviary Gathering next spring. He wanted a mate, and he would build his nest where he found a female willing to fly with him.

The landscape shifted below from prairie scrub, to a short strip of green with trees and fields dotted with groundling houses, then quickly to rocks and sea. Mave banked west toward yesterday’s cove hoping her searching had landed her a fifth option.

Bryce sat at the bottom of the wind-scraped tree them met at yesterday, with a small pile of fish beside him. He may fail at flirting, but the man knew how to start a courting. Mave approved with a loud cry, gliding through the coves unpredictable winds, she transformed as she landed.

(words 529; first published 11/19/2023)

Raptors by the Sea Series

  1. Raptors by the Sea (9/10/2023)
  2. Outside the Aerie (11/19/2023)
  3. Oghan’s Return (12/17/2023)

Flash: Raptors by the Sea

Photo from Unsplash

The endless blue where the sea met sky brings Mave around for another soar on the updraft from the overheated air baking above the beach sands. She could stay up here forever, at least the part of her which flies begs her to. Enough human remains to acknowledge the fatigue, and monitor the time in form to nudge her into finally landing on a dead tree hanging over the cliffs protecting the isolated cove.

Transforming into her birth form, the female shifter leans against the denuded trunk. Far below the waves race up the shoreline, the cove’s sandy beach disappearing under the incoming tide. Soon she would need to return to the Tower Aerie; at least this time, her explorations brought her to a place she would be flying east. Last adventure had her flying into the sun during the final hours of the day.

A second raptor, a black version of her white and tan bird, flies over the western cliffs. With a scream, it dives into the ocean and comes up with a fish, then turned her way. Concentrating on the food in its claws, it doesn’t notice her partially hidden by the trunk until the creature’s wingspan is spread for landing on the branch.

It caws, and banks too late, making an undignified startled landing, before the being transforms into a man, the fish falling back into the ocean beneath them.

“A little help here,” he says, holding onto the branch one handed until he swings the other to hug the branch from beneath. Mave laughs and walks the branch to where he is holding on, feeling no give in the dead wood nor hearing any cracks. As a bird shifter, his arms would be stronger than his legs. He didn’t need any assistance, and she tells him as much.

Flashing a smile, he says, “Can’t blame a guy for trying,” before he twists up, his muscles rippling across his arms and bare torso. Once on the wide branch, he stands easily, looking down at her, his height a hand’s width taller than hers. “Bryce, High Cliffs Clan.”

“Mave, Stone Tower.”

Bryce’s black eyes darken to raptor pupils, his smile widening. The limited size of the branch has Mave taking a step back to lean against the trunk.

“A bit far aflight for one of the plains folk.” He closes the distance, resting an arm against the trunk.

She could see the feather pattern lining his arm, looking like a tattoo against the human skin.

“I needed to think.”

He moves close enough, Mave could feel the heat radiating off Bryce. His hands smells fishy, but his hair and skin smell like wind and sea.

“About what, my pretty bird?”

Mave rolls her eyes. “Oh goddess, please.”

“Too much?” Bryce backs up.

“Your clan short on females?” Mave shakes her head. “Have you had any practice at all with flirting?”

“Actually no for both.” Bryce sits down on the wood, picking at one of the few pieces of bark the prevailing sea winds hadn’t stripped from the tree. “All the women ahead of me are happily paired off, and all those younger than me are too much younger than me, if you know what I mean. So, we got women, just none I could practice with. All I got is pretty much what Mom and Dad say to each other. And I just tried one of Dad’s favorite lines.”

“Oh, no.” Mave, covers her mouth to hide her laughter. “Your parents are complete corn-balls. You are so screwed if you must court at the Aviary Gathering next Spring.”

“Yep,” Bryce turns his smile up to her, “but maybe it will work on someone and I get something like what they have. They completely are in love and just dive into their little nothings like a fish is just three inches under water. How about you? Any male back home ruffling your feathers?”

The giggling smile erases from Mave’s face. “That is why I’m thinking.”

“That can’t be good.” Bryce face firms, his voice deepening. “Would it help to talk it out with someone with no feathers in the aerie? That is, if it is something you feel comfortable about talking outside the clan.”

“I’m in a bidding war.”

“Ugh, like cock fighting level?” At her nod, Bryce asks, “How many involved?”

She stares back out at the sea. “Four.”

“Your clan have no women at all?”

“Oh, we got a good mix, but ….” Mave pushes against the trunk to stand without leaning. “I’m the fastest, male or female, daughter of the present lead flyers, granddaughter of Stone Tower.”

“In other words, whoever wins and builds your nest, is the next leader.”

“They wish.”

Bryce chuckles. “Only the highest nest for you, and you don’t think any of them can fly that high.”

“I know they can’t. None of them have followed me out here.” She waves her arm at the expanse before them, the ocean turning slightly pink as the sun dips low to see its reflection in the waters.

“Did you want them to follow you?” He cocked his head to the side.

Mave shakes her body once, settling her mental feathers. “I don’t really know. … I really wish I knew.”

“Would you like me to follow you?”

The growl is more human than bird, and makes Mave shiver her feathers flat again. Pulling together her dignity, she dares a challenge. “You think you could?”

“Not today,” Bryce nods to the west, “I would need to let my clan know. But … tomorrow?”

“I’ll be here.” Mave steps off the branch and transforms mid-fall, skimming along the waves filling in the cove below. A shadow flies overhead. She slaps her wings against the water and pulls up to see the dark raptor circle above before heading west. Mave screeches, circling once, before heading east.

(words 980, first published 9/10/2023)

Raptors by the Sea Series

  1. Raptors by the Sea (9/10/2023)
  2. Outside the Aerie (11/19/2023)
  3. Oghan’s Return (12/17/2023)

Book Review: Technical Threat

Amazon Cover

Technical Threat by Julie Trettel


His job’s at stake, but she may prove to be an even bigger technical threat to his heart.

Tarron has met his match with a ruthless cyberhacker who has a personal vendetta against the Raglan. When she breeches Westin Force’s security Tarron must move in to stop her. That proves easier said than done when his Nonna steps up to help and meddle in his love life.

Meeting his true mate was not supposed to be part of the mission. But then again, having Nonna tag along wasn’t exactly how he envisioned his first solo assignment either.

Susan Duncan had finally broken away from the miserable life she led. She had been happy away at college, but then her younger sister Sonnet disappeared. Susan dropped everything and gave up her life to support her mother and two remaining sisters. But she never stopped looking for Sonnet.

Four years passed as Susan worked tirelessly each day under the strict demands of her mother then stayed up each night searching every lead possible to find Sonnet.

Her reality wasn’t a pretty one. Her days of believing in fairytales and true mates were long past when suddenly her mysterious true mate appears and promises to rescue not just her, but her sisters as well.

Can this Cinderella break down her own stone walls to accept the help of her potential Prince Charming? Or will is she be doomed to live in the dungeons of her mother’s warped reality forever?



A Standard Military-Shifter Paranormal Romance that is far from Standard

Tarron has been aggressively adopted by Nonna, giving him the found-family he always needed and her a reason to keep connected with the greater world. Doesn’t matter if she is an ancient wolf shifter and he is a foxy technical wizard, together they are the family they always needed.

I SIMPLY HAD TO READ THIS ONE. Their relationship intrigued me.

Then we add a romance for Tarron on top of that as he investigates a hacker into the Westin Force system. Taking Nonna as backup because all his military buddies are busy gives them alone time until he finds his hacker, as well as a waitress who is his true mate.

This is a wonderful story about community support and found-family. About leaving abusive relationships and saving others. One of the best “standard military-shifter” paranormal romances I’ve ever read because of the relationships.

(Read through Kindle Unlimited)

Book Review (SERIES): The Coldstone Case Files (Volume One)

Amazon Cover

One with the Wolf by Jason Gilbert

  1. Wolfbane
  2. Wolfmoon
  3. Wolfsong
  4. Wolfheart


James Coldstone is the perfect eligible bachelor: he’s rich, he’s handsome…and he can turn into a werewolf at will.
What starts as an ordinary day turns into an investigation into the most horrific murders James’s hometown has seen since the infamous Wolf-Man Murders of years ago. But things are never uncomplicated, and the rabbit hole only goes deeper.

James is joined by his best friend, Phillip, as he chases a group of kidnappers down the east coast to rescue a little girl from a fate worse than anything he could’ve imagined.

Before it’s all over, James Coldstone will discover that evil knows no boundaries, and that his damaged past pales in comparison to what the dark and infinite world of human trafficking has in store for both its victims and the people who are willing to look beyond the veil that conceals its inhuman truths.


One with the Wolf collects the first four novellas of the Coldstone Case Files into one volume:
Wolfbane, Wolfmoon, Wolfsong, and Wolfheart. My individual reviews for the novellas can be found under the named books. This review is about the overall series.

On one hand, this series starts with all the hallmarks of a cozy mystery series. A millionaire who is friends with a police detective investigating mysteries of the paranormal variety. On the other hand, it’s also paranormal urban fantasy with the millionaire containing a nearly feral wolf under his skin – making him a werewolf.

As the series continues, the plotline slides firmly into the urban fantasy end of the spectrum – but keeps the cozy mystery requirement that the mysteries and crimes could be real and worthy of police investigation, with child trafficking playing a big part of the investigation.

And Mr. Gilbert (the author), while placing this is as Urban Fantasy world, while going for cheap, easy laughs between friends, while doing all the things to make an ENTERTAINING book, doesn’t cut corners or belittle the seriousness of Human Trafficking, especially in relation to minor children.

At the end of the day, the collected works show that Mr. Gilbert is writing recreational reading, but also making sure that the story is REAL enough to not be fluff.


Amazon Cover


James Coldstone is the ideal eligible bachelor: he’s wealthy, handsome, lives modestly…and he can turn into a gigantic Werewolf at will.

When a string of grisly murders are discovered in his sleepy South Carolina town, James agrees to help his friend Sgt. Phillip Brown investigate. But as the investigation take a turn down a dark path, James soon realizes that monsters aren’t always defined by their supernatural appearance.

As he digs for answers about this current case, James will have to face many things, including his father’s hellish legacy: the long-dead case of the Wolf-Man Murders.


Wolfbane is the first of a new action-packed urban fantasy, where the series-title character helps his police friend solve crime of the supernatural nature.

James Coldstone has it all but hates most of it – he has wealth, but will never touch it; famous family with long-history ruined by a serial killer father; and great power … as a werewolf. Living modestly, out of the way, helping his childhood best friend, Phillip Brown, with police cases that have supernatural culprits, James’ not-quite idyllic life comes to an abrupt end when a series of murders leave bodies torn apart, as if by an animal – but in their homes, as if by a human. Having had a werewolf father, all eyes turn to James.

Someone is framing him. While his best friend asks formal police questions like “Why?”, James’ wolf asks a more feral question: “When are you going to let me off the leash?”

A “cozy” mystery/crime solving, just not very cozy.


The book came up on my book club and so I read through the book again since it had been over a year. The book still was entertaining as the first time around. Sometimes I wince at James relationship with Phillip, as they joke like boy-men who known each other a long time (and one has been in the military) including college together. Male humor for friendship is very prickly.

A good second read. Some books don’t stand up to a re-read, especially ones with mystery aspects, but this one does.


Amazon Cover


Historic Charleston, South Carolina is a city filled with mystery, romance, and beauty.

And vampires. Lots of vampires.

James Coldstone and his best friend, Phillip Brown, head to Charleston looking for Mindy and Clara only to find a city under curfew thanks to a wave of disappearances with no explanation. James meets a vampire with a common cause, and he soon finds that the monsters he’s chasing will lead him into an even darker world filled with evil, perversion, and sin: all for the sake of greed.


Book Club Read
My book club decided to go through all existing Coldstone Case Files for their October meeting – werewolves make good Halloween lore, especially Mr. Gilbert’s version which is not the cute-fuzzy version of man-wolf, with the two forms of man and wolf, and the wolf is treated like a puppy.

Nope, James, the main character is limited to two forms but they are man and WEREWOLF – an 8 foot tall creature whose arms double as running legs as needed, and claws cut through stomach and tear off faces. Whose bite removes heads. Serious Monster here. Puppies who willingly take a leash and pretend to pass for a dog will get stepped on.

Last book centered around a murder, which gave it a “cozy mystery” feel when James’ police friend Philip brings him in on a case. This book continues to develop that mystery, now the murders are done, following the crime syndicate structure which supported the murders down the rabbit hole which is Human Trafficking.

And Mr. Gilbert (the author), while placing this is as Urban Fantasy world, while going for cheap, easy laughs between friends, while doing all the things to make an ENTERTAINING book, doesn’t cut corners or belittle the seriousness of Human Trafficking, especially in relation to minor children. North Carolina is 6th in the nation for Human Trafficking – so this is very real, and very urgent. Something I care passionately about. (#StopChildLabor; #AbolishSlavery; #NoChocolateThursday)

Wolfmoon is a good book that takes on the crime novel, but doesn’t go for the easy murder mystery. Murder is far from the only criminal activity. Human Trafficking is very profitable, so the layers to this mystery and investigation have to chug through some serious layers of Criminal Syndicate. All the while playing with vampires, werewolves, and succubus. Entertaining. The focus is on entertaining.


Amazon Cover


There’s more to see in Florida than Disney World.

Like vampires who may (or may not) be into organized crime.

A clue in Charleston sends James and his friends to Jacksonville, Florida in search of Mindy and the trafficking group they’ve been chasing. They soon discover that Jacksonville is run by and home to some of the most powerful vampire houses in the Southeast, including a mysterious group known as House Wangenheim. Things go from bad to worse, and James finds himself embroiled in a world of conspiracy, crime, and ancient beings who can control the very seas.


Read for book club – Another Coldstone Case File Book (novella length).

The relationships are getting complicated, the search for the girl is getting long, and the wolf needs a good hunt. Who will get what they want?

What I wan is more information about Lucy. I have to wonder just how much of the information she has shared is incomplete – like she is “over” one hundred. How far over?

This un-cozy mystery-thriller urban fantasy series provides what a reader wants with action, character, supernatural creatures, and a bad guy to pound.


Amazon Cover


Not all vacation packages offer free vampires, grisly murders, and those drinks with the little umbrellas in them.

James Coldstone tracks his quarry to Westenra Island-a remote manmade resort that caters only to the wealthiest people, some with an interest other than getting away for a weekend of lavish parties and walks on the beach. Between specific vacationers being slaughtered at night and the upcoming auction event, James begins to realize that even the people he trusts the most are keeping secrets from him. Despite the chaos, he is hellishly set on one goal: save Mindy and destroy the darkest evil he has ever faced.


The dynamic between James and Lacy is amusing and powerful. The layers of worldbuilding for this series of novellas keep on getting better. What is happening with each of these people: Lacy, Mindy, Phillip, the Wolf, and Agent Smith? – each person brings a wallop of complications for James. Everything is about relationships and the strings that come attached to these people (and the wolf).

But it isn’t all about brains, interactions, and worldbuilding – LOTS OF ACTION – lots of werewolf, rip-the-world-apart action.

The end of the first four novella arch delivers on everything building since Wolfbane.