Romance, fantasy, suspense… I love a good story, something that relaxes me, takes me out of myself and my own head for a while. The Rabbit River Saga, by Elyce deReefe, has it all. Her character-driven plots involve intense, emotional characters you just can’t help but love, and a paranormal aspect that lifts you right out of the here and now.
But why wolf shifters? I asked Elyce.
Hi, Elyce. I absolutely loved Moonrise, Book 1 of your new wolf shifter romance series, The Rabbit River Saga. The characters are irresistible. Would you like to tell us a little about the series? What inspired you to write about shifters?
I’ve always loved nature and natural things, so when I discovered shifter romance, I thought – how cool! Half man, half wild animal and still one hundred percent sexy male. But I found that a lot of the books tended to portray the shifters as if there was a creature inside of them trying to take over. And that didn’t really make sense to me.
Either they are natural creatures who can switch back and forth but are still fully themselves, or some alien has taken them over. It can’t be both. At least for me.
And I have to admit I didn’t like how they often depicted the wolves as bloodthirsty monsters unable to restrain their beastly nature. Now I can totally see the appeal of such a character, tortured and forced to battle his baser instincts, but having a special love of wolves in particular, it just didn’t work for me. I thought, “you know, if there is one half of the man/wolf combination that turns them into a crazy maniac, it wouldn’t be the wolf side.” ;)
Wolves are naturally caring and nurturing. Yes, they might battle for dominance and territory, but within the pack they really watch out for each other. But the whole idea intrigued me. I loved the idea of scent being a major part of what attracted them to a mate. I saw it as sort of an intangible quality that embodies the inner person. I started wondering– well what if there were such creatures in the world? What would they really be like? And the Rabbit River Saga is the result of my musings. I fell in love with the characters I created and had to give them voice.
I did notice that none of the shifters are vile, rabid monsters in Moonrise. These guys are beautiful. How about giving us a little more information about the most important males in the first novel of the series?
Oh, thank you. It makes my author’s heart glad to hear my characters described as beautiful. I think they are. I love the idea of Pack, a sort of a band of ‘brothers’ working together to achieve their goals. We often see this type of dynamic in military romance too, and I found it really satisfying to explore their relationships with each other within the pack. I wanted to bring out that nurturing quality found in natural wolf packs, and have it mirrored in my romances. But of course, there are certain tensions and disputes that arise. Especially with the shortage of mates…
So let’s see, the important males in the series so far:
Of course we meet Lucas first, our reluctant Alpha, and I kind of think of him as the main character for the whole series. Lucas’s story will develop over the course of the entire series, which is six books long (plus two novellas which will be coming out soon). The first three books are completed, with Checkmate - Book 3, being released on June 26th.
As you’ve noticed, each book also has another main male character, and its own love story. So for Moonrise, that was Cray and Elizabeth. Cray is of Native American heritage and is sort of broody and little hot tempered. In a sexy way, of course. Shivers up the back of your neck sexy, I like to think. He and Elizabeth have a tumultuous courtship. I have to admit, it was really fun to write.
Book 2, Wolf’s Promise, features Aaron, Lucas’s second in command. He’s from the Midwest, big, blond and sort of all American. He’s thoughtful, careful and self contained. Aaron doesn’t really like to give much away. But he’s very, very thorough. And in control. Did I mention his last name is Masters?
Book three, Checkmate, has actually two male characters that we begin to know better. I’m not going to give away which one eventually ends up with the girl, but the two candidates are Dean, my wolf shifter equivalent to the hot nerd, and Jesse, our resident outlaw. Dean is French Canadian, and like Lucas and his brother Gage, has a lot of European influence in his heritage. And smoky green eyes. Oh, yes, and he’s made a very careful study on just what ‘pleases’ a lady.
Jesse is a bit of a loner, but he’s very charismatic. He likes to play the part of a lady’s man. He’s tall and lanky, with the loose limbed gait of a cowboy. He has shoulder-length dirty blond hair, a sharp jaw, high cheekbones and piercing blue eyes. Super sexy. And a bit of a mystery. We know he was thrown out of his birth-pack as a young man, but we don’t know why.
And then we have Aaron’s three younger brothers, and Lucas’s brother Gage, not to mention young Jeff… I could go on and on, but I’m going to stop now. J
In the book, there seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether wolf shifters and werewolves are the same. I found it interesting that the characters don’t consider themselves werewolves. Would you elaborate?
Well, I’m glad you picked up on that, because it is an important distinction. It will become clearer as the series progresses. Suffice it to say none of the guys will let any of the girls refer to them as ‘werewolves.’ It’s considered a grave insult. I can’t say more about it now; I don’t want to give it away. I will say that the answer is hinted at throughout the series, and will become clear in “My Captive Valentine,” which will be coming out in early February 2020.
The two women, Elizabeth and Mari are very different, but both have survived dangerous situations. I admire how these strong, unique women stand ready to support each other, women supporting women. Is this by design?
I can’t say it was really by design. It’s my experience that women will generally stick together and support each other. Especially in a strange situation. I think it’s only natural. But both Mari and Elizabeth are survivors. They are both determined to take control of their lives, even though they go about it in different ways. I’m pleased to see you recognize Mari’s strength. Not everyone does. But to me, for a woman to break away from a destructive relationship the way Mari has takes true strength of character. Especially since she’s so young.
I also noticed that while Mari is in her twenties, Elizabeth, who ranks easily amongst my favorite heroines, is nearly forty. Why did you have your main heroine for Moonrise approaching middle age?
One of the things that really surprised me when I started reading romance was the absence of older main characters, especially female characters. I felt like– wait? Where are all the people my age? We don’t have romances anymore? I mean, that’s nonsense. Life doesn’t always turn out as expected. Sometimes, unfortunately, people get divorced or a spouse dies or maybe they just never found that perfect (enough) someone. But a fulfilling romantic relationship is just as central to a person’s happiness at forty or fifty as it is was when we were twenty. We just know a lot more about love.
The same way younger characters need to harness a lot more courage to take control of their lives and face a challenge preserving who they truly are with a relationship, older characters face a completely different set of complications when it comes to love. I think the dynamics can be much more complex with slightly older characters. They can show us more clearly that it’s never too late to take back control of your life, redesign it, so to speak, if things aren’t quite what they had hoped. They are more aware of when compromise is essential, but also where they need to draw the line. I think Elizabeth is actually great at this. The lessons she learns about herself and the true nature of love are things we can all take to heart. In my humble opinion.
Elyce, thank you for taking time out for this interview. I wish you all the best with Rabbit River.
Thank you for having me and for your interest in the Rabbit River Saga. And thank you for these insightful questions. As a writer, it’s hard to know if your points are coming across, and from these questions, I can see that they are. So thank you for that!