Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Embrace the Passion - Pets In Space #3- Guest Post by Author Carol Van Natta

It’s Pets… Pets in Spa-a-a-a-ce!  Out Today
by Carol Van Natta

We humans dearly love our pets. Cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, foxes, geese, pigs, goats, sheep… pretty much anything that will sit still long enough for us to feed it and give it a name. When we go to the stars, we’re taking them with us. And I’ll bet you a month of premium hot chai tea lattes that when we encounter alien creatures of faraway planets, we’ll try to make pets of them, too.

That’s the joy of the Pets in Space science fiction romance series. This year’s anthology is Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3, with eleven new, original stories of adventure and romance—plus pets. They play a pivotal role in causing trouble, bringing the lovers together, and/or saving the day.

In my story, CATS OF WAR, the pets are two top-secret, genetically-engineered creatures named Novo and Boz. (For more about the ethics-challenged pet-trade industry that created them, see Pet Trade, my novella from last year’s anthology.) They are mostly feline, but with secrets. My own home cats insist that all space opera is better with cats, and for this story, I have to agree. See the excerpt below for the human heroine’s first introduction to the cats of war.

Here are brief descriptions of all the fabulous stories in the anthology, plus a brief description of the sometimes very unusual pets. By the way, 10% of all the preorders and the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org, a charity that trains dogs and pairs them with disabled U.S. veterans and first-responders. We love this small charity that’s doing much-needed work.

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·     S.E. Smith: HEART OF THE CAT - Can love bridge the gap between a wounded alien warrior and the reclusive human woman who holds the future of his species inside her? PETS:Cinnamon and Spice are white Bengal tigers that were recovered from an illegal exotic animal trader. They are extremely protective of their mistress, which complicates things for my amorous hero.
·     Anna Hackett: DESERT HUNTER- Among the desert sands of an alien world, a man with secrets to hide finds himself face to face with the one woman who can bring him to his knees. PET:Fiend is an alien canine of unknown origin. He's big, scruffy and protective with a barbed tail to watch out for. He's also hiding some dark secrets…
·     Ruby Lionsdrake: QUASHI Alien fur balls, a handsome doctor, and a little white lie create havoc for a young woman who only wanted a job. PET: That's the name of the species and the real start of the story. There are dozens of them in the adventure, but only Roberta gets named and does more than trill in a cage. These are like old Star Trek tribbles except they have legs, antennae, and blue fur. Favorite food? Apple slices. (BTW, Roberta is concerned that everybody else's critter is a predator.)
·     Veronica Scott: STAR CRUISE MYSTERY DANCERA long-lost princess and her three-eyed cat seek refuge on the Nebula Zephyr only to catch the attention of an inquisitive Security Officer. PET:The pet is F'rrh, resembling a Siamese cat but with three eyes. F'rrh is a jenfellini, an alien spirit similar to a genie who doesn't grant wishes but will occasionally utter a prophecy.
·     Pauline Baird Jones: OPERATION ARKA not quite routine mission to return rescued prisoners to their home worlds turns deadly for unlikely allies, a USMC Sergeant and a raised-by-robots pirate. Is the Sergeant’s unusual pet the wild card that will save or doom them? PET:Tiger is a caticorn - he has a small horse body, but his head is a cat's with a small, single horn in the center of his forehead. He has secrets and plays a key role in resolving a crisis in the story.
·     Alexis Glynn Latner: STARWAYA lonely interstellar pilot and a passenger’s mistreated consort find each other in an interstellar hotel that offers everything to satisfy its guests’ desires—even desires they didn’t know they had. PET:Strelka, nicknamed Star, is delicately built little dog with thick white fur. She's a Wendisan Chivvier, the only dog breed native to the interstellar city called Wendis. Chivviers are bred to be very good at finding missing people and misplaced things.
·     E.D. Walker: THE BAJO CATS OF ANTEROS XIITwo ex-lovers, stranded in space, have to save a pair of kittens with hazardous powers before the local drug cartel catches up to them. PETS: Two bajo kittens. They're brightly coloring (like a Lisa Frank illustration come to life), and they also secrete a psychotropic substance from their fur that causes some…uh, complications.
·     Tiffany Roberts: HUNTER OF THE TIDENearly broke by betrayal, a human discovers solace—and a chance for love—among the creatures he once hunted, but he must overcome prejudice and inhibition to claim the female he desires. PET:Ikaros is a prixxir, a land and sea creature. They're scale covered predators with sharp claws and teeth, very territorial, and are usually in packs. He's fiercely protective of those he has bonded with and loves, who he has claimed as 'his pack', and will place himself in danger to defend them…despite being a pup. Prixxir are intelligent and can read body language and emotions, allowing Ikaros to be the perfect companion.
·     JC Hay: SHADOW OF THE PASTOn a world of perpetual night, an aging ranger and a widowed veterinarian need to put aside their past to protect a pack of wolves... and their future. PET: JJ is an Umbra Wolf pup. Umbra Wolves are rendered mostly invisible when not in polarized light, and develop an empathic bond with the SpecOps soldiers they’re paired with. The wolfbond benefits both Ranger and Wolf, but carries a risk as the death of one can destroy the other as well.
·     Kyndra Hatch:  AFTER THE FALLThe Invaders took everything worth living for. Could an Invader show him how to live again? PETS: H'tch and K'mi are moghas, which form a one-time bond with a Korthan biped. H'tch already has his alpha master companion, but K'mi is still waiting for one when the story starts. If it were possible to get a cross between a wolf and a fox of Earth, that's what they generally look like, except that they have long antennae sticking up from the tips of their ears with feather-like tufts on the ends. They also have retractable fingers in their front paws that help them grab and climb.

Here’s the excerpt I promised you from CATS OF WAR. Ferra, the human main character, is in a prison of sorts, working off a restitution debt. When she discovers two creatures in the pouring rain, she feels compelled to smuggle them into her cell, despite the risks. Now that they and she are temporarily safe, she discovers what she has rescued.

She closed up the lab, returned the gravcart, and walked back to her cell. She closed and locked the door behind her, just like any other evening.
The bed looked inviting, but first, she had to look after the cats. She could feel their presence in her mind, even if she couldn’t see them. She used the wallcomp to turn up the lights and darken her only window. 
The female oozed out from under the bed, followed by the male. 
Now that she saw them in better light, she didn’t know what she was looking at. Wide, cat-like heads and ears, with narrower muzzles, and nose flaps. Mottled dark fur with a faint rosette pattern, and folded, bat-style wings with fine downy fur. No orange stripe on the female’s wing, so that must have been a trick of the light. Their front paws had sharp-looking claws and opposable toes. Their tails were long and ovoid. 
We are cats.That was the female.
We were made for war,thought the male. 
Food?asked the female.
Ferra didn’t know what to do with cats designed for war, since the Central Galactic Concordance government had kept the peace across the galaxy for the last two centuries, but she could do something about food.
She reached up to the top shelf of her closet to retrieve the mealpack she’d stashed there two days ago. She triggered the heater and put it on a narrow counter that served as the cell’s desk and table to warm.
She sat on the bed and pulled off her clammy shoes and tossed them onto the drying mat by the door. “Do you have names?” 
The female’s tale twitched. Yes.
Ferra laughed. The cat was just like some AIs Ferra had known, unhelpfully literal and disdainful of imprecise questions. Ferra tried again, this time forming the words in her mind and projecting them to the female cat. What is your name?
My call sign is Novo Seventeen Alpha.
I am Bozlurian Four Delta, volunteered the male.
“I’ll just call you Novo and Boz, if you don’t mind.” 

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Read more in CATS OF WAR, one of eleven new, original stories in
Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3
10% of the first month’s profits goes to Hero-Dogs.org

Anthology Blurb for Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3
Pets in Space is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. 

Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders. 

Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3today!



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About the Author:
USA TODAY bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Carol Van Natta shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, all 

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