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The Love He Squirreled Away (MM)

Mate or Meal 3

Siren-BookStrand, Inc.

Heat Rating: SCORCHING
Word Count: 40,669
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[Siren Classic ManLove: Erotic Alternative Paranormal Romance, M/M, shape-shifters]

Stew or spouse? It is the dilemma werewolf Soren fights upon taking squirrel-shifter Daniel as his mate. His duty as an Alpha forces him to keep his mate a secret while his heart and his beast demand to claim Daniel.

Daniel has always feared getting too close to others since a lethal disease branded him as an outcast for his kind. He dares to make an exception for Soren, despite Soren’s difficult situation. Surpassing his feelings of inadequacy is a challenge, even if he knows Soren would never betray their bond.

But just as Daniel starts to make new friends within the pack, there are other forces at work that do not agree to the two men’s mating. A vicious attack on Soren’s loved ones is pinned on Daniel, and all loyalties begin to be questioned. How long will Daniel be allowed to keep his role as Soren’s spouse?

A Siren Erotic Romance

User Reviews
I love the characters. Actually, what's not to love about them? Their personalities, as well as the secondary characters, are rather strong. It makes the reader create a bond with each one. But most o...

- Amy E. Lambo

great series

- cowboylover

Professional Reviews

4 STARS: "The Love He Squirreled Away is an excellent M/M shifter novella and a wonderful addition to the series. I liked the unique but steamy relationship and the family focus. Dani is a squirrel shifter who was deathly sick as a child. As an adult he remains under a doctor's care and must minimize stress. But his life's stress comes in the form of the hot Alpha wolf shifter, Soren. Soren immediately recognizes Dani as his mate but he has responsibilities for his wolf pack, including providing heirs. So Soren and Dani must keep their mating quiet until someone starts killing shifters around them and forces them to acknowledge their mating and save themselves. Let me start by saying this series keeps getting better. This is book three in the series and is probably my favorite so far, though book two is close. This book, and the series, focus on a developing romance but also includes the entire shifter world and I adore that. I love the reccurring characters, the similar dangers and the growing acceptance for gay prey-predator matings. I love this world and think other readers will too. As to the romance, I liked that Dani and Soren become a committed couple very early on in the story and then the focus shifts to how they remain a strong couple in the face of dangers, both physical and emotional. Of course, the sexual connection is very strong but it's well matched by the love and commitment Dani and Soren feel for each other. But best of all about this book, and the series, is that the lead couple become a family. Children play a huge role in this book, as in the previous two, and I adore that. It really allows readers to see Dani and Soren's emotional growth and is heartwarming. I also like that the book, and series, advocates the "it takes a village to raise a child" philosophy which allows readers to get to know other shifters. The plot was fast paced and realistic. I was sad when something bad happened, though I can't say what as it's a spoiler, but the emotions evoked were real because I feel like I know this community. I think other readers will become just as invested in this world if they read the series. But readers don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, though it will be more enjoyable. The Love He Squirreled Away is a very good M/M shifter romance with plenty of eroticism but lots of emotional heat too. Fans of the series will love this addition like I did and new readers will be in for a treat too." -- J9, The Romance Reviews

4 NYMPHS: "What’s an Alpha wolf supposed to do when he discovers his mate is a little furry prey animal…a squirrel shifter named Daniel. That’s the question plaguing Soren, forcing him to put his duty first, keeping his mate a secret while he and his beast yearn to claim him. Daniel has other worries. He was terribly ill as a child, making him an outcast in the squirrel community. He still harbors concerns he might carry the virus that made him sick, threatening his new family, but knows deep down Soren will never deny their bond. Just because Daniel is getting along with Soren’s pack doesn’t mean that everything is smooth sailing. Others don’t agree with their mating and an attack on the Alpha family is blamed on Daniel, causing tension within the pack. What’s going on? Who is causing problems and will Daniel have to leave to keep the peace? The Love He Squirreled Away is release three in Scarlet Hyacinth’s unique and imaginative Mate or Meal series. It’s another fun and entertaining addition to the series and probably the most unlikely couple so far. I have to admit that when I initially read the blurb, I had doubts about Soren and Daniel as a mated pair but Ms. Hyacinth pulled it off, creatively and realistically getting and keeping them together. One of the biggest problems is that Soren’s the pack Alpha and needs cubs, but that hurdle was handled nicely and was a non-issue, bringing a wonderful female wolf into the story. It also starts a series of twists and turns leading to deceit, danger and action-packed scenes as Soren and Daniel strive to protect each other and the cubs. Here we also get reintroduced to Skylar and meet ruthless shark shifter, Byron. This series is filled with interesting personalities and I know that these two will be important in the future and can’t wait to learn more about them. But that’s not all. There are a few others in the villain category, butting into Soren and Daniel’s life, trying to destroy or bend it to his will. Back to Daniel and Soren. I love these guys, especially Daniel and how some of his squirrel tendencies come out while in human form, while Soren is protective, dominant and stubborn. If you like reading shifter stories with love, passion, action, danger and wolf cubs, you’ll likely appreciate and enjoy this one. Watch for The Lynx Who Claimed the Sun coming next." -- Dragon Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews

4.5 LIPS: "Pack Alpha Soren Wade finds himself in an awkward position; he has certain duties he can’t neglect, namely providing heirs for the pack and the Elder, who just happens to be his father. Soren’s problem is that his mate is a man, but not just any man; he’s a squirrel shifter. Obviously, Dani can’t provide him with pups, but the bigger problem may be in having “prey” in the role of Alpha Bitch. What’s a wolf who’s torn between his duty to his pack and his desire to claim his mate to do? Daniel Gardner-Boyd was a sickly child having survived a bout of squirrel pox that normally kills his kind. His illness left him psychologically weaker, with an overprotective family, and an outcast among other squirrel shifters. Shortly after meeting his mate, he begins to exhibit symptoms that lead him to believe the squirrel pox may be coming back, although his doctor assures him this isn’t possible. Dani attempts to hide his condition because he doesn’t want to endanger Soren’s pups nor does he want to give the pack further cause to alienate him. Will Dani’s attempt at protecting the pups and the pack play into someone else’s sinister plans? The Love He Squirreled Away is a nonstop ride filled with plot twists and who-dun-it and I loved every minute of it. Watching Soren convince Dani that they could be together and get past pack politics was amazing. The bond these two men shared was very special, when Soren was catching it from all sides; he never lost faith in his mate or on how much he needed Dani. When tragedy struck Soren stood by his man, even when others doubted Dani. That type of devotion was just what Dani needed. The Love He Squirreled Away was a fantastic read! It also introduced new characters and gave insight into characters previously introduced in the previous books. It perfectly set up two of the next books in the Mate or Meal series. I, for one, can’t wait to see what Scarlet Hyacinth has in store for us next." -- Neka, TwoLips Reviews

Excerpt

STORY EXCERPT 

 

Daniel watched in awe as his friend, Shiloh, played with his new cygnet and his mate in the grass. Who’d have thought a wolf and a swan could become mates and care for a child together? Certainly not Daniel, but Liam, Shiloh, and Reed proved him wrong.

Even as he observed the group, Daniel still couldn’t believe Shiloh had recovered from his coma. He’d been shot a few weeks back by his former boyfriend, Charles, and doctors had given him little chances of recovery. As it turned out, when Shiloh’s egg hatched, it had boosted Shiloh’s recovery. Now, at last, after so much pain, Shiloh could be happy with his son, Reed, and his mate, Liam.

“It’s amazing to see, isn’t it?” a voice said by Daniel’s side.

Daniel turned and offered Soren a tremulous smile. Soren was Liam’s friend and Alpha, and had come to help them protect the egg. But he was also a man Daniel felt very attracted to, and he didn’t know how to deal with that. “It is, indeed,” he answered. “I am truly enthused that Shiloh can at last rejoice with his mate and child. I admit I did not expect a wolf to give him the happiness he deserves.”

Soren arched a brow at him and Daniel felt his face flame. He wondered just how much Soren had understood his reply. Daniel tended to babble and speak very quickly, more so when nervous. Far too often, he even insulted people. He’d have preferred it had the wolf not grasped his every word, since he seemed to be in insert-foot-in-mouth mode.

Soren chuckled. “Well, you’ll find wolves can surprise you.” His words made it quite apparent that he understood Daniel, but wasn’t upset. The wolf’s expression sobered and he pulled Daniel into the shadow of a nearby tree. Daniel yelped in surprise at the sudden motion. He opened his mouth to ask Soren what in the world he thought he was doing, but when the werewolf pressed their bodies together, he forgot what he meant to say. The man’s scent, his heat, the barely restrained passion hidden under the surface short-circuited Daniel’s brain, making him ache. He felt Soren’s cock throb against his thigh, and all of a sudden, he could only think about having it in his ass. “I really want to prove that to you,” Soren added.

The words snapped Daniel out of his lust-introduced trance. He realized they were, for all accounts, still in public, with Shiloh’s cygnet just a few feet away. And that wasn’t the only problem. In fact, it was just the beginning.

“Soren, I’m not sure this is wise. I know it seems our friends can make a relationship between predator and prey work, but that does not offer any guarantees.”

Soren didn’t know anything about him, his past, or his family. It occurred to Daniel that maybe he’d misinterpreted the entire thing and made a fool out of himself again. “Of course, you and I don’t have an actual relationship. I just mean—”

“Don’t tell me you don’t feel this, because I won’t believe you,” Soren cut him off.

Daniel gulped, for once in his life speechless. Unfazed, Soren continued, “I haven’t made my move because it simply wasn’t the time. Things are still so messed up.” Soren took a deep breath, as if having trouble speaking. “But you’re my mate, Dani. I want you to know that and to give me a chance. Come home with me.”

Daniel’s entire body responded to the sinful note in the other man’s words. It would be easy, so very easy to give in. But he knew he couldn’t do it. For one, he understood Soren’s position. Getting romantically involved with an Alpha wolf was just begging for heartbreak. While Daniel might have his own little kinks, having his soul shredded wasn’t one of them.

“I don’t deny that I would like to take you up on your offer,” he said hesitantly, “but it’s not a good idea.” He swallowed around the knot in his throat, the word “mate” sounding in his ears stronger than ever. “I don’t think I can be what you need. I’m not even sure I am your mate.”

The words sounded false even to his own ears, and Soren’s eyes were like daggers that pierced his heart. “Of course you are. I knew it from the first moment you spoke to me.”

Daniel remembered that time well. Soren had been suggesting to Shiloh to give up the then unhatched Reed, and Daniel had said, “Would you do that if it were your own pup?” Even then Daniel had felt drawn to the other man. Ironically, as he recalled it, he acknowledged Soren’s necessity for children, something Daniel could never give him. It was a bad idea, and Daniel needed to back off before it got too difficult.

“Soren, surely you realize how wrong we are for each other. We—”

He didn’t get to finish the phrase. The wolf crushed their lips together, and Daniel forgot all about his protests. He gasped and the other man took advantage of the occasion to thrust his tongue into Daniel’s mouth.

The first taste of Soren made Daniel’s head spin and an odd dizziness course over him. He couldn’t think. He could only feel, his senses assaulted by Soren’s scent, by his presence and power.

He might have allowed the werewolf to fuck him right then and there had the sound of a cleared throat not interrupted them. Soren broke their kiss and Daniel briefly glimpsed the sight of Liam’s amused face before Soren shielded him from sight. “What?”

“Just thought I should remind you we are in public, with children just a few feet away.”

It wasn’t a reproach, not really, not in the way Liam put it, but truth be told, he had a point. To a certain extent, Daniel did feel a bit embarrassed. He’d never been big on public displays of affection.

 

ADULT EXCERPT 

 

Soren grabbed his mate in his arms and draped him over his shoulders. He’d have liked their first time together to be gentler, perhaps more elegant, not in an impersonal hotel room. He’d have wanted to take Daniel home with him, to introduce him to the pack, all the men and women who were essentially his extended family. But it wasn’t possible, not if he wanted to protect Daniel’s life. For the moment, this would have to do.

With as much care as he could muster, Soren placed Daniel on the bed. His mate looked up at him, honey-brown eyes twinkling mischievously. “Come on, Soren. Touch me,” he repeated.

Soren didn’t wait to be told again. He joined his mate on the mattress, groaning when Daniel starting pulling his clothes off. His body was filled with the urgency to couple, to claim, to fuck, and he growled as he tore the constraining material off. His shoes flew off, as well as the remnants of his shirts and pants. Thankfully, he’d had the foresight to go commando—on an impulse, rather than on a certain knowledge. Now, he could finally be skin to skin with his mate, the mate he yearned for so much.

Daniel’s hot gaze seemed like a palpable caress on his naked body, and Soren did some admiring of his own. As if of their own accord, his hands reached for his mate, mapping each contour, tracing every line of Daniel’s body. Daniel bit his oh-so-kissable lips and released a needy sigh. He spread his legs wider in an obvious attempt to accommodate Soren better, and Soren gladly took the invitation. He pressed their bodies close, loving the feel of his mate against him. Daniel’s scent surrounded him, sweet and fresh, like the aroma of pine honey. His mate’s hard cock throbbed against Soren’s thigh, and the evidence of Daniel’s arousal made Soren even hotter.

He reached between them and gripped Daniel’s erection. The other man moaned when Soren’s fist engulfed his prick, and Soren could practically smell the rise in his pleasure, in his need. His head swam with the desire to fulfill their bond, to consummate this yearning, and he didn’t think he could stand it much longer.

Without another word, Soren crushed his lips to Daniel’s. Just like before, his mate surrendered to his dominance. Daniel wrapped his arms around Soren’s neck and his legs around Soren’s waist, as if trying to pull their bodies even closer. Their breaths mingled, their tongues tangled, and Soren drank in the taste of Daniel’s submission. He wanted more, so much more. He wanted to be inside his mate.

He broke the kiss, panting hard, and faced Daniel. “Last chance, baby. If you don’t want this, tell me now, because I don’t think I’ll be able to stop later.”

In answer, Daniel pulled him close once again and crushed their lips together. When the need to breathe forced them apart, Daniel gasped out, “Does that answer your question?”

Yes, it did, and Soren could no longer hold back. He fumbled at the nightstand and retrieved the bottle of lube he kept there. His hands trembled as he opened the tube. He stole another look at his mate, the uncharacteristic self-doubt coursing through him almost scary. He was an Alpha. He didn’t question himself. And yet, here he was, hesitant to take the thing he desired most in the world.

The smile on Daniel’s face reassured him, and Soren poured lubricant on his fingers and reached down for his mate’s genitals. Daniel lifted his legs and exposed his hole to Soren’s greedy gaze. He rubbed his slick fingers across the tiny pucker, almost losing it right then and there when Daniel pushed his ass toward him in a wordless plea.

Ever so slowly, he inserted a digit inside Daniel’s passage, almost in awe when his mate’s body sucked the finger right in. He experimentally thrust it in and out, testing for any discomfort, but he could only see and feel pleasure in his mate.

“More, Soren, please,” Daniel begged. “Give me more. Fuck me.”

Soren intended to do just that, but not yet. They might be in a hotel room, but the bond between them still made this special. This was their first time together, and Soren would draw and relish every moment of it.

He smiled down at his mate and lowered his body over Daniel. He began to press featherlight kisses over his mate, dragging his tongue over each inch of creamy skin. He licked over Daniel’s collarbone, surprised when his soon-to-be lover arched against him, gasping. It seemed he’d found a sensitive spot.

Soren explored Daniel relentlessly, learning where his mate liked to be touched. He lingered on the perky nipples for far longer than Daniel seemed to expect. He’d wanted to touch them and suck them in his mouth ever since he’d first seen Daniel naked. The little nubs pebbled and responded to his caresses, and Soren bit down on the naughty flesh, testing Daniel’s threshold of pleasure and pain.

Yet again, he was unprepared for Daniel’s reaction. His mate writhed under him, thrashing like a wild thing, begging and pleading almost incoherently. There was nothing left now from the prim and proper façade the squirrel used. Soren realized now it was a mask, perhaps a sort of defensive armor. Against what, Soren didn’t know, but he vowed he would find out and he would protect Daniel from anything that could hurt him.

For the moment, though, Soren couldn’t withstand torturing them both any longer. Briefly abandoning his exploration of his mate’s body, he slicked up his cock and positioned it at Daniel’s hole. Holding Daniel’s fevered gaze, he pushed inside, at the same time paying close attention so as not to harm his mate. Inch by excruciating inch, he worked his prick in, until at last, he slid home.

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