|Posted by jtcheyanne on August 1, 2015 at 6:55 AM|
Title: Strength to Let Go
Series: Tales of the Werewolf Tribes, Book One
Author: Alina Popescu
Genre: gay romance, paranormal, werewolves, paranormal romance, supernatural
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
After being abandoned by his mates, Shiki Kirishima, beta of the Dragons of the Fang werewolf tribe, returns to his home in Tokyo.
Crippled by grief, Shiki decides to end it all by going into the territory of the Siberian Killers tribe and challenging them to a battle to the death.
Ganzorig, beta of the Siberian Killers, however, sees the potentially disastrous consequences of having Shiki die in battle.
Instead, he saves him.
Having suffered loss himself, Ganz takes it upon himself to help Shiki deal with his pain.
Blake, Shiki’s best friend since childhood, is as determined to show him there is life after a wolf’s ultimate loss.
Could there also be something ‘more’ for them after friendship?
I followed Ganz through a right maze of hallways that took us through the run-down building where Blake was being held. They’d refused to let
him step foot anywhere else, they’d bent their rules for me enough as it was. When we reached the large and dirty room they were in, I stopped
and looked through the glass on the door. Blake had his back to me as he sat at a large table in the far right corner of the room.
His shoulders were so tense you’d think he’d explode, and I could see how the Killers guarding him flinched every time Blake turned to stare at
them. If my heart hadn’t been squeezed so tight, it would have been funny. I pushed the door open just in time to hear him threaten the nice
Mongolians guarding him with some old Native American curses that would affect them and three future generations. I shook my head, thinking
he’d never change. He did not believe in the Powhatan curses his tribe thought of as infallible, but he’d always play them against wolves who
were naturally afraid of everything spiritual. It came with having a long collective memory and us being part of what was considered the
“Chibi-tan, stop threatening the good men,” I said, stopping in the middle of the room and dropping my bag on the floor, sending a puff of dust up
into the stale air. He stood up so fast the chair flew from under him. When he turned, his eyes glassy and his breath heavy, my smile faded,
making room for what was really in my heart. Fear, reluctance, and the joy of seeing my childhood friend.
“God damn, winggapo, you have to stop calling me that! You’re older only by a few months.”
I had used that term with him since the day I’d met him. He was scrawny as a four-year-old and a little shorter than me. He’d been brought to
train with me and I’d been ahead of him in training and strength. I’d insisted he called me senpai. What started as a tease soon became an
endearment, and he knew it, yet still insisted I’d stop. It was when he’d figured that out that he’d started to call me winggapo. Weirdly enough,
although he was half Brazilian, he’d never used any Portuguese with me, only Powhatan words. I believed deep down he identified more with
the Native American tribe of Virginia that his father belonged to than with his mother’s Brazilian roots.
Chibi tried to smile as well, but his grin seemed as unnatural as mine did. He pushed his hands deep into his pockets and looked past me. As
there were only a couple of inches between us, I noticed his avoidance technique. His hazel eyes glowed bright green, showing his turmoil,
before he finally decided to look me in the eye.
“I’m sorry, Shi. I’m so sorry I did not pick up.” He frowned and looked at his feet, his shoulders slumping. “I was on a vision quest, I didn’t know.”
I gasped loudly, taking one step to close the distance between us and wrap him into a tight hug. Of all the things I’d expected Blake would say to
me, how his guilt took me by surprise I’ll never know. It was such an obvious reaction considering who he was, I mentally slapped myself for not
figuring out sooner just how much he’d kept beating himself up over it. I’d thought our talk on the phone had been enough, but I should have
known better. It would take Blake quite a bit to forgive himself.
“You said that, chibi. And I told you not to blame yourself. When the hell will you listen to your nii-san?”
“You’re not my fucking big brother, you’re my best friend,” he growled, his voice muffled by how hard he was hugging me back, his face pressed
into my shoulder. He pushed me back and looked at me carefully. It felt as if he could see through me, right through the thin walls I’d used to
build my appearance of a normal person. It all crumbled under his scrutiny, and by the time he pulled me back into his arms, I was already
“Get me out of here, Blakey,” I whispered. “No one needs to see me having a freaking meltdown. Please!”
He nodded against the side of my neck, grabbed my hand and my duffle, and pulled me toward the door. I had to forcefully stop him to be able
to say goodbye to Ganz. We hugged without a word for a few minutes; then he made me promise I’ll keep in touch. I noticed a few curt nods
between him and Blake and somehow knew chibi-tan would keep him in the loop if I didn’t.
Blake then rushed me through the maze of hallways. Wolfs usually have a great sense of direction, but all I could tell was we hadn’t come this
way when we’d entered the building. When Blake pushed a large door open and I saw his jet waiting for us, I realized I had good reason not to
know where we were going. We raced to the stairs and promptly got in. When the door closed behind us, my legs finally gave out, but chibi
“I’m here, Shi, let it out.” His encouragement was all I needed. I let the pain and renewed rage out, messy and erratic. I could, now that my best
friend was there to steady me through it. His pilot came in and asked us to sit down, but Blake merely growled. As we were still hugging in the
middle of the jet, it started moving.
I didn’t know when or how I’d gotten onto the onboard couch, but Blake was holding me and my sobs had calmed down.
“Gods, I’ve never cried so much in my entire life as I have in the past few months. What the hell is wrong with me, chibi?”
“You had your heart ripped out of your chest and handed back to you in pieces, I assume,” he said, as if he was presenting facts to his Board.
“So word got out,” I growled.
“Well, chibi, the kids got dropped at your brother’s and never picked up for weeks, you disappeared, and then we found out you were in Siberian
Killers territory. I think everyone figured out you’d had a breakdown and that you did not want your marriage to end.”
“Do they….” My voice trailed off before I could form the question. In all honestly, I was afraid of the answer.
“No, no one but me knows. They believe what Ganz told them, that you were randomly flashing and ended up out there.”
“Good.” I nodded, wiping dried tears off and blowing my nose into the tissues Blake had handed to me.
“Winggapo, I get why you did it and how your mind works. I swear though, you try that again, I’ll fucking kick your ass.” He pushed his index
finger toward me, a menacing frown reinforcing his words.
“I promised I won’t, chibi. Ganz gave me an out, provided I really tried for two months.”
“He did what?” His voice was so loud, the flight attendant jumped out of her chair. Blake smiled apologetically before turning to face me, arching
a brow and pushing his upper body closer.
“Yup, two months of trying, and if I still wanted to end it in battle, he’d have arranged it for me. I think he knew I would not want that anymore.”
“Smart wolf,” Blake said with a chuckle. “Then again, if this had turned out differently, he’d be a dead wolf.”
I laughed and shook my head. Ganz had been right, my friends would have gone after them had I been killed by their tribe. Maybe Shishou
would have tried to stop them, but between Blake and Vicks, he would have failed. Thinking more about it, I figured Shishou would have joined
just to keep his wife happy.
“He is an incredibly smart wolf, actually. I was surprised by him, in a good way.”
“Mhm, yeah, I caught the squeeze of his ass before we left,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows.
I tilted my head and smirked. “Yeah, I noticed how worried your pilot was I’d steal his fun. That was before he figured I was in full-blown sob-fest
mode,” I added and winked. Blake shrugged casually. We’d never hidden our conquests from each other, it was pointless, especially since we
used to share them more often than not.
Interview with Hotness....err...Shiki:
Omgawds! V.L. and I are thrilled to be sitting down with Shiki Kirishima, beta of the Dragons of the Fang werewolf tribe. Welcome smexy wolf!
Before we hyperventilate from your hotness *watches him grin* let's get to the questions!
Who is your favorite anime or manga character and what makes you love them?
Well, hello there, vampy and angel! *grins and gives them a hug* A pleasure chatting with you, as always. *Taps his chin and tilts his head*
Well, it has to be Luka Crosszeria from Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru (Betrayal Knows My Name). He is a high ranking demon fighting
for the other side because of love. His love for Yuki has followed her/him through every reincarnation, staying true and pure regardless of
circumstances or his lover’s gender. Besides, he wields a kick ass sword and uses magic. And he’s hot. *Shrugs* What’s not to love?
How long does it take for you to apply your make up and do you have any favorite brands we should know about?
*Laughs and rolls his eyes* Really, you want to talk make up? Well, it depends on what I do. If it’s cosplay or something really crazy—you
should watch some Visual Kei bands on concert to figure what that looks like—it might take me half an hour or even an hour. But that includes
the outfit! For a day to day thing… Five-ten minutes, maybe.
I don’t have a favorite brand, I have favorite products from different brands. And for the crazier looks I sometimes use face paint made for the
Will you and Blake be visiting Ganz anytime soon?
Oh, you can bet we will! That guy needs some true lovin’ and I am hell-bent on making it happen. The only problem is Ganz has to do the hard
part first—get his tribe to open up. I think, before a visit, he might need me as a weapon. *sighs and shakes his head* Tribes and their weird
politics, either bores me to death or makes me want to punch somebody.
How are Ryuu and Kimmie and has Blake adjusted to having them in his life?
*Grins wickedly* Oh, Blake is a pleasure to watch around the kids! He’s gotten used to it for the most part, but he still has some cute moments
where he’s completely terrified by them. It’s funny, cause I’ve known him all my life and he’s never been afraid of anything.
The kids… thank the Gods, they are resilient and have adapted to the new status quo. They spend a month with me, and then one in the Fae
Realm. They are happy and healthy, and that’s all I want from them. Kimmie occasionally visits her blood family, and they are always so thankful
for it. As if there was any way I would have prevented that!
It seems you have perfected the art of the eyeroll. Does Blake have a habit you love to tease him about?
*Chuckles and does an eye roll for show* Well, I’ve spent my whole freaking life working on it! I should have it down to an art by now. I try to tone
down my teasing of Blake. He’s been chibi all his life, and I tease him about calling me senpai, even if I’m only a few months older than him.
Plus he got a couple inches taller at some point.
What I love is that he looks the same way when he’s working and when he’s training. Same fierce look, same determination. I can understand
why people tremble when they have to deal with him.
Blake is the cook. Do you have a favorite meal he prepares for you?
Blake usually cooks international cuisine stuff. But he’s excellent at making nabe of any kind. That’s what you’d call Japanese hot pot dishes.
We usually have them in winter, but I make Blake prepare them a lot more often. I love Blake with all my heart, but nothing he makes will ever be
as good as mochi. And he refuses to make that! Says if I want to kill myself with sweets, he won’t be a part of it. *Grins* He orders them for me,
which to me is the same thing, he’s still involved.
Given the custody arrangement, will we be seeing more of your ex-husbands?
*Shrugs* I really don’t think so. There’s no point. I think everything we’ve had to clear up, has been settled. They are part of my past, and I’m no
longer hung up on that. I’d rather focus on those who want to be in my life—Blake, my kids, my extended family, my friends… They are all a
handful, trust me, and they require a lot of time and energy! Especially Blake *grins* I need a lot of energy to keep up with our bedroom adjacent
A few fun facts about you:
favorite color: Black, wear a lot of it… Also, bright green cause that’s how Blake’s eyes are when he wolfs out.
favorite movie: Don’t have one, too many to choose from.
favorite song: it’s an anime theme song, surprise, surprise! Kimi Hana from a gay anime (and manga) called Junjou Romantica
favorite book: Not even going there! Too many to list
vanilla or chocolate: *Snorts* Mochi. With whatever filling it comes.
favorite ice cream flavor: *Stares blankly* Who would want ice cream when you can have mochi?
When can we expect MORE SHIKI and BLAKE?
Well, from what I know, book two will be the story of my twin, Shishou, and his mates, Vicks and Stuart. That means you’ll get a lot of me, but
from back when I was the crazy brother who challenged Shishou. You’ll still experience a lot of my awesomeness though *winks*. And I will also
make sure I show up in the next two books. You can’t have any werewolf story without me! And why would you want to, anyway?
Thank you for breaking away from Blake long enough to stop by *laughs*. We so enjoyed this and look forward to the next book!
I met Shiki in the roleplay world and loved his cheekiness and his playfulness. I was overjoyed when I found out his story was being put into
book form. I was not disappointed at all! Alina has given one of my favorite characters a beautiful start to his story. The playfulness and fun I love
about Shiki are definitely included in the story. However, the book does not begin on a particularly hearts and flowers note.
The first part of the story devastated me. My heart broke for Shiki. While I understood the devastation and the reasoning for his decision (I’m not
doing spoilers LOL) I wanted to wrap him up and just hold him. His pain was written so vividly, I fought tears to continue reading.
And then, Blake entered the picture. Cue the hearts and flowers and the desperate mad rush of falling in love. It dried the tears and brought a
huge smile. Shiki’s fears of ruining a relationship with his best friend were realistic and on point and written with just a touch of brilliant humor.
Throughout the book, Shiki visits several different places. I loved the descriptions of Tokyo. They put me right there in the middle of the maid
cafes and on the bustling streets. Excellent!
Although part of a series, the book is stand alone in that there was closure on several important issues, but THANKFULLY, there is room left for
more, more, more Shiki and I cannot wait!
Great job, Alina. I will definitely be recommending this book.
Don’t miss the Tickle Me Pink sale on the Wayward Ink Publishing site – 25% off all list prices till July 21st.
Amazon US: www.amazon.com/dp/B010ITT1VG/
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B010ITT1VG/
Amazon AU: www.amazon.com.au/dp/B010ITT1VG/
Amazon DE: www.amazon.de/dp/B010ITT1VG/
Prizes: $10 WIP Gift Card, 3 signed Bookmarks, and 1 ecopy of Strength to Let Go
Writer, traveler, and coffee addict, Alina Popescu has been in love with books all her life. She started writing when she was ten and she has
always been drawn to sci-fi, fantasy, and the supernatural realm. Born and raised in Romania, she finds her inspiration in books of all genres, in
movies, and the occasional manga comic book. She is a proud geek who needs her fast Internet and gadgets more than she needs air.
Site & Blog: http://alina-popescu.com