Monday, September 21, 2015

In Your Eyes by Cardeno C. – Mates Blog Tour

Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past their society's rules to realize they are destined for one another.

Raised to become Alpha of the Yafenack pack, Samuel Goodwin dedicates his life to studying shifter laws, strengthening his body, and learning from his father. But despite his best efforts, Samuel can’t relate to people, including those he's supposed to lead.

When Samuel meets Korban Keller, the son of a neighboring pack's Alpha, he reacts with emotion instead of intellect for the first time in his life. Resenting the other shifter for throwing him off-balance, Samuel first tries to intimidate Korban and then desperately avoids him. What he can't do is forget Korban's warm eyes, easy smile, and happy personality.

When a battle between their fathers ends tragically, Samuel struggles to lead his pack while Korban works to break through Samuel’s emotional barriers. Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past their society’s rules to realize they are destined for one another.

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Book 3
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Chapter 1

The first thing I hated about him was his smile. Nobody genuinely smiles that much. It’s fake. I don’t trust fake people; they tend to hide things. And Korban Keller was as fake as they came.

He was older than me. Not by much, just a few years. With our packs being relatively close in proximity, I had seen him a handful of times when we were boys.

My clearest memory of him back then was of his eyes—they were a rich navy, the color of the deepest part of the ocean. He had a weird habit of tracking me with those eyes, and I wondered if it was because he planned to attack me or if he was waiting to catch me making a mistake so he could call me out on it in front of everybody. Whatever the reason, it distracted me, so when we were in the same room, I struggled to focus on anything other than Korban watching me.

His father was Alpha of the Miancarem pack, which lived on the edge of the same forest as my pack, Yafenack. But where their pack lands started on the northern end of the forest and abutted a human town, ours began in the center and continued with dense woods protected by a wide spring on one end and a rocky mountain on the other. The humans built a highway on the other side of the creek, but it didn’t have an exit near our town, so we remained secluded and safe.

Even at age eight, I understood the Yafenack pack would be my responsibility one day. I needed to learn how to be a good Alpha, so I rarely left my father’s side. Korban was in line to be Alpha of his pack too, but he seemed to have no sense of duty.

My first time going to an interpack council meeting with my father, Korban walked right up to me and said, “Hi.”

It was weird.

After thinking about the best way to respond to the son of the Miancarem Alpha and eliminating a couple of options, I finally went with, “Hello.”

“I’m Korban Keller.” He smiled so broadly his nose crinkled a little. “What’s your name?”

I glanced up at my father to see if he could help me figure out how to deal with the unexpected interrogation, but he was busy talking with the other adults.

“I’m Samuel Goodwin,” I said eventually.

“How old are you, Sam?”

I hated being called Sam. I also hated being asked questions when I didn’t know why they were being asked. And I didn’t like people poking their noses in my business. But on the other hand, I worried it’d be considered rude if I didn’t answer. I’d have to work with this boy one day because I’d be Alpha of my pack, he’d be Alpha of his pack, and my father said getting along with people was important. I wasn’t sure why or if I agreed, but he was a smart man and I tried to listen to him.

“I’m eight.”

“Cool. I’m eleven.”

He kept grinning and looking at me. I wondered if I was supposed to say something or if we were done talking and he’d go away so I could stop feeling nervous and focus on my dad’s conversation.

“You want to go play, Sam?”

“It’s Samuel!” I snapped.

His eyes widened in surprise, but that was his only reaction to my obvious annoyance. “Do you want to go play, Samuel?”

I looked him over and tried to figure out what he was doing.

“They have a football in the back.”

I stared at him.

“And the yard is really big.”

Big as in big enough that nobody would hear me if I got hurt? Was he threatening me?

“But if you don’t like football, they have checkers too.”

Why wouldn’t I be able to play football? I was one of the strongest boys in my grade and, yes, Korban was bigger than me, but that was only because he was older.

“If you like checkers.” He smiled again, but it wasn’t as big that time. There was something softer about it. “It’s okay if you don’t.”

Oh, so now I wasn’t strong enough for football and I wasn’t smart enough for checkers. The nerve of that guy!

“We can shift instead. I bet we can find good stuff to sniff when we’re in our wolf forms.”

The conversation made me uncomfortable. He made me uncomfortable. I felt off-balance and confused, which was probably exactly what he intended. No way was I wandering off with him away from my father and the other adults. No way.

“I don’t think I’m supposed to—”

“Go ahead, Samuel,” my father said.

Surprised he was listening to our conversation, I jerked my gaze up.

“I’m sure you’d much rather play outside with your new friend than stand in here listening to a bunch of boring old guys talk.” He winked at me, smiled, and then ruffled my hair as he said, “Go on.”

I growled a little, not happy about this turn of events. Why would my father send me off with someone who made me feel strange? It was probably more of his training about getting along well with others. He was constantly talking to me about that and asking who I hung out with at school and why I didn’t have friends over to the house.

“Fine,” I grunted. “We can shift.”

Football was okay. Checkers too. But I was stronger in my wolf form, always had been. It was easier to follow my instincts as a wolf, and I wasn’t hampered by the constant questions I had in my human form about what I was supposed to say or do, neither of which came naturally to me.

“Great!” Korban grabbed my hand and yanked me toward the door. “Let’s go.”

Shocked that he was touching me, I could only follow speechlessly while my mind reeled. Wolves were naturally affectionate, I knew that. When our pack members shifted, cubs often rolled together on the ground and adults nipped at each other playfully. But that was different. They were friends or family members. And besides, I wasn’t usually involved in those games.

My father said people shied away from me because I was strong and they knew I’d be Alpha one day. He said that meant I needed to make the effort to approach them instead of waiting for them to approach me. Apparently he didn’t realize I wasn’t waiting for them and I had good reasons.

First off, when I grew up, my job would be to keep an eye on everyone in the pack and make sure they were safe. Starting that habit as a cub would be helpful, I’d decided, and it wasn’t something I could do if I was distracted by being part of the fray. Sometimes my father noticed what I was doing and insisted I take a break and have fun. But even then, I had no interest in playing silly games with hyper wolves. Fun meant running free, feeling the wind in my fur, and hunting.

And yet there I was, being dragged through a stranger’s house by a boy I didn’t know. To make matters worse, he was holding my hand, something only my mother did, and even then, I didn’t like it. But though I knew I should pull away, I didn’t. Later, when I thought back to that moment, I decided the reason I let him put his hands on me without socking him in the belly was because it was so unexpected.

“Should we race?” Korban asked excitedly as soon as we stepped outside.

I didn’t respond.

“Or we can wrestle.” He let go of my hand, clasped the back of his T-shirt, and peeled it off. “Or hunt. Are you hungry?” He tossed the shirt aside and kicked off his shoes. “Maybe there’s a stream nearby and we can swim.” He wiggled out of his pants and briefs in one move and left them where they fell.

With my brain working overtime to absorb all his questions and think about what he probably meant or could mean by each one of them, I hadn’t thought to take off my own clothes. So when Korban was finally undressed and ready to shift, I was left looking stupid. Immediately, I realized that had been his goal in distracting me with his litany of questions.

“Why are you still dressed?” His light blond hair was disheveled from when he’d pulled his shirt off. “Did you change your mind about shifting?” He bit his bottom lip. “We don’t have to race or, uh, hunt, or whatever. We can do something else.”

Because the fact that he caught me off guard so he could get undressed faster meant he could beat me in a footrace in wolf form? No.

“Racing is fine,” I bit out. “Hunting too.” I looked him straight in the eyes; my father taught me to do that. “We can do both.”

Unlike him, I was grateful for my belongings. I carefully unbuttoned my shirt and then folded it before setting it on a small patio table. Then I unlaced my shoes and placed them down under the table with my socks tucked inside. Finally, I removed my briefs and pants and, after folding them neatly, put them next to my shirt. Korban might have undressed faster, but I did it better.

“We’ll race to the trees,” I told him, making clear right off the bat that being older didn’t mean he was in charge. “Then we can track something to eat.”


He wasn’t smiling, so I figured I’d made my point, which was a good thing. Still, something didn’t sit right about it. Thankfully, it didn’t last long.

Korban shook his head quickly, like he was in wolf form and was flicking off moisture. Then he grinned again, squeezed my shoulder, and said, “Let’s go!”

Surprisingly, he didn’t shift midsentence or even after he finished speaking. Instead, he watched me, and only once I’d started taking on my wolf form did he change into his wolf. With his blond hair, it was no surprise I was standing next to a pure white wolf. His eyes were the same navy blue, and even as an animal, they seemed to be twinkling with mirth and laughing at me.

I huffed in frustration, knocked my muzzle against his, and jumped off the porch. I was going to win the race and then I’d track an animal faster and take it down. With that decision made, I ran off toward the trees.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

As much as I enjoyed the other books in this series, this one was my favorite! I definitely didn't put it down and I really enjoyed the depth of emotion and personal growth shown by the characters. This book felt so much deeper.

Samuel has spent his entire life grooming to be his pack's Alpha. He was born with a sense of duty and responsibility to rival any other. He works extremely hard studying and remembering everything he will need to know in the future to be the strongest Alpha he can be. His only problem is that he struggles to connect to people. He feels awkward and doesn't know how to bond with even his family, so how can he do that with his pack?

Korban has always been a thorn in Samuel's side from the day they met. Samuel can't understand why he is always so happy and easy-going when he should be taking his future role as Alpha more seriously. He confuses Samuel more than anyone he's ever met. As they get older, Samuel tries to avoid Korban, but he can't always escape. Their encounters just lead to more confusion.

Samuel's problems just seem to get worse with age. Even his parents now worry. When tragedy brings Samuel and Korban back together, a sudden conflict brings Samuel to a life changing realization, but can he accept it when it goes against everything he knows?

I really enjoyed this series and this book especially. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a different sort of M/M or shifter romance. Thanks for yet another lovely read C.C.

This links to the previous two books – but not in such a strong way. It is important that the events happened as they help Samuel come to terms with his reality. I found this a fascinating, yet more difficult read than the other two, because Samuel is a shifter disconnected from his emotions. As we have had the previous two stories to immerse us in shifter law and practice, his ignorance of these matters is frustrating. I think the whole point was to write him in that way, and it works, but I was very happy when the light finally dawned and the sweetness could be released! Korban's calmness can only be imagined as he watched Samuel flounder with his preconceived rules and laws. The plot was strong and the romance turned hot, sweet and sexy. Another hit from this reliably talented author.

Also Available in the Mates Series

Book 1
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Book 2
Buy Links

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Smashwords  ~  Coupon Code: GT46E

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few "awwws" into a reader's day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno's stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.

Cardeno's Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, "You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day."

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of In Your Eyes (Mates #3) by Cardeno C. to read and review for this tour.

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