Manny's Heart, the third Family of Misfits books, comes out Friday, July 10 from MLR Press, but I'll be traveling to Tampa, Florida for Rainbow Con that day. If you're familiar with my Family you'll know Manny is the sweetest member of the clan. He's spoiled by everyone especially Ali, but it doesn't go to his head. The little lion had a tough start to life but fortunately found a place where love and adoration runs rampant for him.
This was the longest book I've ever written by at least 40,000 words. At 150,000, it will be available in ebook in its entirety but will be split in two for print copies that will be released at the same time. It was a hard choice and I fear the retail price for the ebook might turn some readers away.
All I can really say is it's 150,000 words of love, sadness, and rejoicing. It was a emotional book to write in some places and I have to say I wrote a character that I totally didn't like for the first time ever. Plus, y'all know I have to break my boys before I can put them back together, right?
I'll leave you with the blurb and an excerpt, plus a chance to win your own ebook copy of Manny's Heart. Leave your name, email address and tell me who your favorite Family of Misfit character is to enter the draw. I'll leave it open until Friday, July 17. Also, I'd appreciate it to the moon if you'd spread the word about Manny.
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Manny's willing to do anything it takes to be loved by the spirit mate of his dreams, but there's a fine line between dreams and nightmares.
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Manny's life has improved in so many ways since moving to Romania, but he's unhappy that the last essential piece— finding his spirit mate— hasn't happened yet. He's more than ready, willing, and able to make that dream come true. If only the match for his birthmark would finally show up, because he's determined to be the best damned spirit mate anyone ever had.
Mika's always been relieved to not have a birthmark like his twin. He's never going to end up stuck with some fate-ordained mate he doesn't even know. The rock & roll bachelor life, with friends and hook-ups he chooses for himself, suits him perfectly.
But Mika's never had a friend quite like Manny, and he's never been as angry about the whole fated mate nonsense as he is when it becomes Manny's only goal. All Mika can do, though, is offer Manny his support—as his friend.
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Manny’s new life was different from anything he’d ever imagined. Not in a bad way, because his old life with his misfit family had been just fine, and so was this one, but just different in a different way. He’d never dreamed he’d be able to travel around the world, experience so many new things, be part of something as exciting as a rock band that sold out every show, and even get hit on by boys and girls just because he was with the band. But then Kalo had found Ali and they had been bonded to each other, and bam, suddenly Manny and the rest of his family were jetsetters. He wasn’t sure if that was the right word for flying around the world in a private jet, visiting more countries than Manny had really known existed, and living in two places at the same time. Well, not exactly the same time since there was still only one of him. But be it jetsetter or high-flying roadie, it definitely wasn’t the path he’d ever expected his life to take.
He’d liked his job at the auto body shop, and he’d been treated well by the few acquaintances he’d had in town, but quitting hadn’t been any big deal for him. Answering the phone and filling out paperwork wasn’t something he wanted to do for the rest of his life, anyway. He had no real clue what exactly he did want to do, but Ali always told him he had time to figure it out. Manny knew that was true, plus, there was another part of his life he needed to get straightened out before he made any long-term commitments. This new life might be just the way to get there, and losing a few quasi-friends was more than worth it.
With all the changes, at least they’d kept the family’s secluded cabin in the mountains. Manny was happy to be able to still live there part of the time, since it had been his only real home for so long and held almost every good memory he had. He admitted it was a little confusing going back and forth sometimes, especially when he woke up and didn’t remember which one of his rooms he was in or even what country for that matter, but it was an adventure. It was as if he was on a journey like the one in his favourite movie The Hobbit, except his goal wasn’t to reclaim something that had been taken from him.
Instead, Manny’s singular hope was that spending half his time in Romania would be just what he needed to do to find his spirit mate. It was logical, really. It was where both Lucius and Ali’s mates had come from, so hanging around them ought to be some sort of good luck charm for him. He was also pretty sure Bunica, or Anca as Ali preferred Manny and Kristof call her, had said something about all spirit mates being related to her family.
So for Manny, this new life was a win-win situation. He got to travel, have fun, and be with the people he loved while he searched for the last piece of the puzzle that was his life. And he hadn’t even had to give up anything really important to pursue it since his family was still together almost each and every day.
It had been nine months since Ali and Kalo had been married, or handfasted as Ali told him it was called, and Manny couldn’t have been happier with his new family. He’d loved his life when it had been the four of them—Lucius had said they were the four musketeers—but having more people to love and care about him was a plus in Manny’s book. It was true that he didn’t see Ali as much as he used to, or maybe it was just that they didn’t have as much one-on-one time now. He was still trying to understand the whole mating thing, but sometimes he missed the old days of Ali being able to spend more time with him. It didn’t bother him though, at least not much.
He’d grown up in a big family, and even though, ultimately, they hadn’t been very nice, he still liked to have people around, as many as possible to make him feel secure and wanted. The occupants of the big house in the Carpathian Mountains numbered seven now, since Anca had also moved in—eight when Kristof was there.
He thanked God or whoever listened to his prayers that Romania existed at all, because the place had brought so much happiness into his family’s lives. Kalo was besotted with Ali. Ali didn’t come right out and admit it very often, but Kalo was everything he’d ever really wanted, too. He brought a pretty light to Ali’s eyes whenever they were in the same room—Ali smiled more, was less snippy, mostly, and the way he looked at Kalo made Manny’s heart warm. And Kalo treated Manny like a brother or maybe even a son, since Ali still liked to mother him.
Lucius, of course, was joined at the hip with Nicu, who had to be the sweetest person ever. Lucius still hung around with Manny, and Manny knew they would always be close, but sometimes he felt like the third wheel. He found himself thinking a lot about the day he could double-date with the couples in his family. The day he might have a mate of his own to spend all his time with and who loved him more than anyone else. If he ever found that special person who made his eyes sparkle all the time, Manny would be the luckiest man in the world.
Besides his spirit mate, the other thing missing in Manny’s new life was Kristof, who was off working in the woods in Canada. He still came to Romania sometimes, but he hadn’t wanted to give up his job and friends in the mountains so he wasn’t with them as much as Manny would have liked. It was always the best kind of reunion when Kristof came off the job and crushed Manny like some tiny mouse in his strong arms. Manny didn’t even mind being squashed so much anymore since it was part of the big bear’s emotional homecomings, and he loved seeing that wide grin. Not that he’d stop complaining. It wouldn’t do for Kristof to get too cocky.
When Manny came up for air at the shallow end of the Carpathian house pool, he was greeted by Mika’s friendly face and the tantalizing aroma of coffee. “Hey! There’s my lean, mean, swimming machine.” Oh yeah—then there was Mika. “Don’t you ever get tired of going back and forth, little one?”
Manny still couldn’t believe he had a pool that he could use whenever he wanted; even his mountain lion had stopped whining about hating the water. Manny had started swimming every day. He did it mostly because he liked it, though Ali kept telling him he had a beautiful swimmer’s body and was toned to perfection, but that was just Ali being Ali. Manny did think he’d gained a little previously non-existent muscle in his upper body. Not like Ali said, but maybe it was a bit of an improvement anyway.
After shaking his wet hair, Manny took Mika’s proffered hand and let himself be yanked from the pool. He accepted the towel Mika wrapped around his shoulders, slipping it down around his waist to cover the swimsuit he thought was far too small to be paraded around in. Ali had bought it for him, saying it would look adorable. Like Manny really wanted to look that way to his family. It made him more than a little self-conscious, especially around Mika.
“You must have been up early. It’s only eight o’clock and you’ve already done your laps for the day?” Mika grinned at him as he blew on his steaming cup of coffee. “I should bottle some of that energy, little one.”
Little one. It was a nickname Manny would never admit to liking, but he really did. Mika had nicknames for everyone, but they usually changed from week to week, day to day, hour to hour, while Manny’s always stayed the same. It made him feel like he had a special place with Mika, one where he felt safe and happy. Of course, he didn’t know if Mika was just using it all the time since Manny was the littlest one in the family, so he tried not to take too much stock in just how lucky it made him feel.
Manny squinted at Mika as he rubbed a second towel over his wet hair, carefully choosing his words before he spoke. “De obicei, sunteți de dormeza.”
Mika burst out laughing, slapping his hand on his knee as he tried to stifle his amusement, almost sloshing his coffee all over himself. He shot an apologetic glance Manny’s way.
Manny huffed a sigh. “What did I say this time?”
“Pretty sure you just called me a couch.”
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I don't have the exact buy link but here's my author link at MLR. You'll be able to find it there on release day.