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.
The prized possession you value above all others…
My laptop – allows me to write and play games 😉
The unqualified regret you wish you could amend…
Wish I had started writing earlier. And here I mean I wish I took my writing seriously so that I had been able to finish more books and start publishing earlier.
The temptation you wish you could resist…
Chocolate…although I don’t wish I could resist it. I just wish it didn’t get me sick or fat by eating too much of it lol
The book that holds everlasting resonance…
Lord of the Rings. I still remember the melancholy feeling that swept over me after I finished the entire book. I remember wishing it was not over.
The priority activity if you were invisible for a day…
Hmm, all sorts of fun could be had. But I imagine in this scenario my pocketbook is not infinite so I would have to be more reasonable. So basically, something I would do that I don’t want other people to see me doing? Oh, I would totally go to one of those parks for kids and play the heck out of it. Obviously, I can’t do that as myself as I would cause too much attention. But, if I was invisible, I’d go and play until I got my fix. And probably scare the little kids since they’d think Casper was playing!
The film you can watch time and time again…
I can rewatch films a lot. So this one depends on the kind of mood I’m feeling. But any Pixar movie, for sure.
The person who influenced you the most…
Probably my dad. Maybe not all for the best, but I chose my profession first because of him. Took me some time to break out of it and do what I really wanted to do instead.
The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity…
I assume here that this means some interest that you wouldn’t think someone like me gets into. Besides wanting to play on kid parks? Lol Well, my interest in yaoi and BL, but then as an MM romance author, that’s not anything out of the ordinary. But, if you were to see me on the street, you might not suspect that. But okay, here’s one! Recreational drug use, specifically hallucinogens. You would never expect someone like me to have partaken in these substances, but I’ve had life changing experiences on them.
The event that altered the course of your life…
When I met my husband. If I didn’t forget to ask the teaching assistant a question, my hubby might never have talked to me. I would be a completely different person if I never met him. Probably still be conservative and blissfully ignorant about a lot of things that I really like about myself.
Your early recollections of writing fiction…
I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember. I remember telling stories at four years old. But I didn’t start writing them down until around middle school.
The figure from history you would most like to buy a pie and a pint…
Agatha Christie. I would love to sit down and chat about murder mysteries with her.
The piece of wisdom you would pass onto a child…
Never let anyone tell you who you are, even if you haven’t quite figured out who you are yet.
The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it…
Besides breaking into the kid park and playing on the climbing gyms?
The philosophy that underpins your life…
Try everything twice!
The character you enjoyed writing the most…
I really like writing Talen. He can be such an angsy guy, but there’s also a pragmatic side of him that I love, and he’s such a softie when it comes to Alex.
The character you found difficult to write…
I think I had a hard time writing Jesse from Losing Sight. But it was more that I had a hard time condensing the story into the size needed to fit the anthology than anything about him in particular. I actually love Jesse from my story Losing Sight, which is about a visually impaired boy seeking independence from his well-meaning, but bothersome older brother.
The book you enjoyed planning/writing the most…
I’m writing a murder mystery/dystopian urban fantasy that has been a lot of fun to write because I’m plotting the murder and how the characters will go about solving it. But I really enjoy writing all of my stories, so that’s a hard question.
And the promo…
The cover is done by the lovely Vanesa Garkova! The series will be three books long, and I hope to release it back-to-back. The characters are very dear to my heart, and I hope they will become dear to yours as well. Thank you so much for having me, I enjoyed talking about writing and my new story, Feral Hearts, book one.
Thank you, Melissa.
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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