Book Title: Feral Hearts: Book 1
Author: Melissa E Costa
Cover Artist: Vanesa Gorkova
Release Date: August 19, 2021
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy M/M Romance.
Tropes: Friends to Lovers. Childhood friends. Gay for you. Omegaverse. Hurt/Comfort. Fated Mates.
Themes: Soul Mates, classism
Heat Rating: 2 flames
Length: 68 683 words/176 pages
This is book one in the Feral Hearts series.
The book does not a cliffhanger, per se, but the story’s conclusion won’t be reached until the end of book 3.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
To save the one he loves, he must face the beast within.
Alex isn’t a traditional alpha—he’s gentle, awkward, and caring. He also has no desire to assume leadership of the Black Moon Pack once his father steps down.
Talen is an omega stray, taken in by Alex’s parents and raised as his brother. He’s also straight, emotionally damaged, and the love of Alex’s life.
Now of age, Talen is forced into the role of an omega—those treated little better than slaves. Worse yet, the monster inside of Alex has awoken and set its sights on Talen. The beast will stop at nothing to get what it wants, even if it takes the whole world down to do it.
Alex must face his worst nightmares if he ever has a chance at protecting Talen. Is he strong enough to bring them together, or will he lose Talen along with the pack?
This three-book series tells a continuous story with a resolution at the end of book three.
Alex couldn’t believe they were going to flog Talen. Eben stood to the side of the pillar with his back to Alex. He had been able to get Alex out of doing the whipping.
Etched into the pillar were symbols from the old language. A loop made of rope was attached to a minor ledge higher up in the stone. Its purpose was for this very thing. The shaman placed a large wooden block at Talen’s feet and had him step up onto it. Even elevated, he still wasn’t tall enough to fit his wrists through the loop, so they told him to hang onto it instead.
Talen wasn’t wearing a shirt. His arms above his head stretched his torso and made visible the taunt muscles of his abdomen and chest. Tiny beads of sweat gathered on his collarbone before they rolled down his back. Whether caused by anticipation or the blistering heat, Alex didn’t know. Talen’s left arm was no longer hidden by his sleeve, making the slight bow in his wrist apparent for anyone who knew where to look. A nearly unnoticeable tremble shook his shoulders. He looked so small then, fragile, even though Talen was anything but.
One of the shamans began making a speech. Her loud voice carried on the wind. “To speak out against your betters is the greatest disrespect you can show to your pack.” She was lecturing Talen, but she also looked around as if talking to the crowd, making an example out of him. A wave of nausea washed over Alex as his anger rose. “When you disrespect your pack, you’re disrespecting yourself.”
“Stupid bitch,” Alex grumbled. “Get off your high horse.” Even though he hadn’t wanted to watch the whipping, his feet moved on their own until he was close enough to see Talen’s face clearly.
“Talen, for your disobedience, you will be punished by thirty slashes to your back to be carried out by the pack leader.”
Eben held a medium-sized bullwhip.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” the shaman continued. “To say to Roman, who you have disrespected by your behavior?”
For one moment, Talen looked like he would say something, and it wouldn’t be nice. That fire burned behind his dark-hazel eyes.
Alex remembered his father’s words at dinner. If Talen doesn’t go through with this, he might have to find himself another pack.
As cowardly as it seemed, Alex prayed that Talen would keep his mouth shut. Please, don’t say anything. Please, Talen. Please don’t say anything.
Talen closed his eyes, and the tension left his body.
“Only to apologize for my insolence.” His words carried on the mild breeze that made standing outside on this humid hot day bearable. But Alex couldn’t care less about the wind or how good it felt against his skin. Instead, his attention focused only on Talen. Even though Talen bowed his head, and his words sounded a bit hollow, there was a fire to them—Talen’s voice, his spark. His energy. His will to fight. Talen amazed him. His ability to stay himself, to not give into fear, regardless of the hell he had been through. Alex envied him. Talen might have been an omega, whereas he was an alpha, but there was no doubt that Talen was the stronger of the two of them.
His father got in position and raised the whip. With a loud crack, it singed between Talen’s shoulder blades, leaving an ugly red gash. Talen’s breath hitched. He clenched the rope, baring his teeth. Every taunt muscle on his body writhed with each slash that marred his back. He wasn’t crying out, though. Talen was a proud one.
Alex tightened his fists.
Each crack grew louder and louder. Alex’s claws dug into his fists until tiny droplets of blood trailed down his palms.
Ten slashes into the punishment, Talen’s visible ribs heaved with each breath. His lithe frame trembled. Then his wolf surged, forming a white aura. It didn’t stretch out into a shadow—mostly that was an alpha thing—rather, it surrounded him like a sphere as it had done before with Roman—a white wolf seemingly chasing its tail in an endless figure eight. Its hazy white color made Talen appear blurry. It wasn’t large enough to affect Eben, only a whip length away.
It reeked of agony, hurt, anger, but mostly pain—Talen’s.
Alex turned away. His stomach clenched in knots. Something dark grew inside of him. Blacker, thicker. As he looked back at Talen, all Alex felt was rage.
Talen let out a scream before he bit his lip and a trail of blood spilled down his chin. Finally, he lost the battle, and he started crying out with each lash.
Alex’s fangs elongated. He wanted to kill them. All of them. His dad included. How fucking dare they lay one hand on Talen? On his Talen.
Q & A With Melissa E. Costa
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since ever, but it wasn’t until the end of 2015 that I first took myself and my writing seriously.
What made you decide you wanted to put yourself out there to be published?
I’ve always wanted to be an author. I feel it was what I was born to do. But oppositely, I’ve always been a very private individual and I never liked the spotlight, so I had a hard time putting myself out there. I guess, it sounds simple, but one day I just woke up and said, I’m going to start taking myself seriously as an author. Then I went to a writers’ conference called Rainbow Con—they no longer have it anymore, but I met my soul sister there, Lynn Michaels. And one thing just led to another. She had an author friend who was putting together an anthology, and I entered.
Before you started, had you written any fan fiction? If so, what fandom?
Yes, I wrote a lot of anime fandom, specifically Naruto and Inuyasha. As well as other yaoi/BL anime, like No. 6, and World’s Greatest First Love, to name a few. There were lots! Prior to anime, I wrote Star Wars and Lord of the Rings fanfiction, among others.
Are you in agreement that writing fan fiction is a great way to hone ones’ craft – why or why not?
Yes! I’ve written a lot myself! I think it’s a fun way to hone your craft because a lot of the work has been done for you, so you just get to focus on storytelling. It’s like playing in someone else’s sandbox. It’s a lot of fun, plus you get to practice writing and that only makes you better no matter what you write!
What was your first published book?
First novel would be Cat Escort in Feb 2020. First short story for anthology would be Dream Infected in Dec 2016.
Is there one genre you haven’t tried but you see yourself writing in the future?
Murder Mysteries. And I technically have tried them, in that I am writing a story now. It’s just on the pipeline. But I hope to write several of these. I love murder mysteries, especially whodunits that provide you clues so you could solve the mystery right along with it.
Would you ever write a hetero romance? Why or why not?
I hope so, but I might use another pen. That way I can consolidate all of my hetero stories there.
What are your thoughts on erotica?
I like it. I write it under a pen. The closest story I have to erotica under my own name would be the short story I wrote for the Bets with Benefits anthology that I put out along with Lynn Michaels and Ryo Salinas. It’s about a couple who places a bet where the loser has to wear a pink Lolita dress during sexy times. I was thinking of making a full-length novel about those two characters and release it jointly under my name and my pen’s, Rosary Deville, since I have my other erotica under her.
What book are you reading at the moment? It’s okay to give a fellow author a plug!
I just started Omega Mates by Maisie Stone. It grabbed me because it was the first story where the pairing is two omegas. I thought that would be a nice twist!
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on books two and three of the Feral Hearts series. They are mostly written. I’m editing book two, and I’m working on the ending conflict of book three.
When creating your characters, do you have models/actors/real people in mind or are they totally fictional?
Most times I have models/actors. Sometimes, I see a particular feature that I like, and then I would piece the person together in my mind. I wish I spent more time drawing because I would totally make character sketches if I could.
If you write gay romance or erotica, just how descriptive are you in their sex scenes?
I wouldn’t call what I write under this name erotica. But I’m not shy when it comes to sex scenes. I feel our culture is too squeamish and sex negative. Rather than just fade to black, why not show what happens? But at the same time, just like everything else in your writing, it has to further the plot.
As a gay fiction or m/m romance author, do you feel that the trend is changing where it is becoming more mainstream?
I don’t know about mainstream. I haven’t witnessed that, but then I am still in the infancy of my author career.
What would you say is the distinct difference between m/m and gay fiction?
I imagine this to be subjective, and that there’s no set rule for this. But I would say gay fiction is written by gay authors, whereas m/m is about male and male romance written by any author regardless of their gender/sexuality.
Do you believe it’s important for you to know the gender of the author?
Personally, I like to not even think about the author when I am reading a book. I prefer to just get lost in the story world for those couple of hours while I’m reading. I don’t want to hear the author, so to speak. That part of me is in conflict with the writer part who is always learning from other authors and so I naturally want to watch how they write. But the reader part of me loves to get lost in the story itself. So often, I find myself doing that, and not using my reading time to study the craft, if you will.
Do you think women making up a good portion of the m/m fiction writers detracts from the genre? Why or why not?
I personally like that there are lots of women who make up the audience. I have found my people, my tribe. And as a woman myself, I feel women authors have a good chance at knowing what I like and thus writing with me in mind. It’s also very empowering for women in general. Let’s face it, our country (I’m writing from the United States) is still very sexist in a lot of ways, so it’s nice to see women writing for other women, and women making the genre their own.
So no, I don’t think it detracts from the genre. It is a vital part of the genre, and we should celebrate that. I also think that it helps broaden the minds of a lot of these women, who’s stories help further the issues of human rights, particularly gay rights. Lots of m/m authors are straight allies and that leads to a whole world of good!
Where do you see m/m romance in the next 5 years?
There’s where I see myself? Hopefully, I’ll have a lot more books out! I am even thinking of doing some collabs with other authors, including myself and Rosary Deville, my pen name. As for the genre as a whole, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t say I expect us to be completely out in the mainstream world. But hopefully, there’ll be more acceptance.
Name two male celebs that you’d like to see in a hot make out session?
Orlando Bloom and Ezra Miller 😉 Although, to recreate Cat Escort, I could have Seth Rogan kissing Ezra Miller since those two actors are what I picture Seth and Nao from Cat Escort looking like.
Your favorite gay TV show or movie?
Probably Queer as Folk.
Your favorite gay celeb?
About the Author
Melissa writes character-driven fiction, and any genre is fair game. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, anime, manga, and gaming. Living by the motto of trying all things twice, Melissa has jumped out of a perfectly good plane, swum with manatees, dived headfirst into Alice’s rabbit hole, and seduced classy ladies in 6-inch heels. A free-spirited bohemian, she currently lives in artsy St. Petersburg, Florida, with her soulmate and their two adorably needy cats.
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