I’m am over the moon excited to welcome Jessi Gage back to my blog so she can share juicy details about the latest installment in her Highland Wishes series. I adored Wishing for a Highlander, a historical romance mixing unforgettable characters and setting with a dash of the paranormal. Jessi is a master of genre mash-ups and isn’t afraid to tackle complex and unconventional heroines, as she proves in The Wolf and the Highlander.
Anya’s been a bad girl. A vindictive plot against one of her clansmen backfired, resulting in her grave injury. Scarred and crippled, she finds nothing lovely about herself, and doesn’t expect anyone else to either. But when a magical wishing box sends her to another dimension, she becomes the most valuable prize imaginable.
While hunting a rare marbled boar, Riggs, a trapper in Marann’s western forest, hears a strange cry. Distracted from the hunt, he loses the sow but finds instead something more valuable than a whole cart packed with marbled boar skins. A woman. She is delicate, and her ears are curiously rounded. She is not wolfkind. Maybe she is the miracle his people have been hoping for.
Riggs must bring Anya to King Magnus, because breeding rights belong first and foremost to His Majesty, who needs an heir. But the female calls to a primal part of him. He longs to keep her in secret and take her as his mate. But if he gives in to the temptation, he could single handedly bring about the end of civilization.
If my gushing isn’t enough to convince you, getting the insider scoop from Jessi ought to do the trick.
I love redemption stories, and you’ve created quite a set-up for Anya. As the spiteful villainess in Wishing for a Highlander, her come-uppance is brutal and seemingly final. Though she’s a strong woman (my favorite kind of heroine), she’s got quite a long way to go on her journey to her HEA. What inspired you to write her story?
Hi DB! Thanks for having me! I love stopping by to talk shop with you, and your enthusiasm means the world to me!
I’ll be honest, I had a book written that had been rejected by a ton of agents. It was called Wolf Bride. It featured what I now understand to be a waifish heroine who had a lot of interesting things happen to her but who never acted and took matters into her own hands.
I ended Wishing thinking I might like to give Anya a story. But Wishing was finalized when I realized that Anya would be a much better heroine for my wolf-man-hero, Riggs, than the waifish character I had originally written.
After 2 years of doing nothing with the story, I opened up Wolf Bride, retitled it The Wolf and the Highlander, and started rewriting it with Anya as the heroine. As I rewrote it, I felt the magic happening. Chapter by chapter, Riggs’s world became more vivid to me. The plight of his people, wolfkind, became more desperate. I fell in love with my fantasy world all over again and got to give Anya a chance to earn her redemption.
Riggs and Anya work so much better than Riggs and my waif, Elsa, whom I am glad the agents I queried didn’t fall in love with the way I had hoped back then. Just goes to show you, sometimes those gatekeepers know what they’re talking about *winks*
How wonderful that you were able to turn Wolf Bride around and link it to the Highland Wishes series! It just goes to show how it pays to hold on to old manuscripts, because you never know when they’ll turn into gold later!! Tell us a bit about your hero Riggs and his wolfkind and world. What makes him the ideal hero for your tortured heroine?
Riggs is wolfkind. Created by the goddess Danu, wolfkind were designed to have the bravery and loyalty of wolves and the beauty and longevity of the Fae. Long ago, wolfkind rebelled against Danu, and she brought a curse down upon them. The rate of female births dropped slowly over the years until now there are only a few females left who are young enough to conceive. This is the world my heroine, Anya, gets swept to by the magical wishing box from Wishing.
One of my favorite authors is Karen Marie Moning. She writes the Fae as sexy, smart, diabolical, and magical beings. They meddle in human affairs because, secretly, they’re fascinated by us, but if you catch them at it, they’ll sniff and say they only did it to amuse themselves.
I wanted to write a world where there this kind of mischief (magical wishing boxes, feuding gods and goddesses) goes on behind the scenes and where a little bit of the magical breaks through to help the hero and heroine find their destinies. I’m hoping to bring more of that magic out into the light in future books in the Highland Wishes seriesJ
As to why I wrote Riggs, well, I kind of like a hairy hero. Beards are in, right? They are for me, anyway. It’s hard to tell who is more in love with my 6’8” hairy, bearded, virginal hero, my heroine, or me!
Hmm, hairy men are all kinds of sexy! And I love that you’ve woven such a fascinating mythology into your fictionverse. In spite of being of another realm, do kilts play a big…role in the story (pleasesayyespleasesayyespleasesayyes)?
YES! There are kilts! LOL!
I based my fantasy wolf-world on Iron-age Ireland. I made my wolf-men sort of Celt-y. Noble wolf-men wear kilts, but they take them off to hunt (Don’t want to get blood on the tartan).
Hooray! I cannot wait to dig in to this installment, and I’m sure it will leave me wishing for more. Can you give us any hints about what’s next in the series?
I’m working on Constance and Wilhelm’s story (mentioned in Wishing when Melanie and Darcy go to Skibo Castle in Dornoch). It will be called The Highlander’s Witch. It’ll probably be a novella, though I’ve been known to say that and then end up with a novel on my hands…
Then I’ll be writing the story of King Magnus and Seona. These are characters you will meet in The Wolf and the Highlander. It’ll be a delicious story of magic and healing, maybe even magical healing of the sexy kind, LOL! I can’t wait to write it.
Wonderful! I very much enjoyed Constance and Wilhelm in your first book and look forward to their story, as well as another visit to the Wolfkind realm. How have you found the transition to Indie publishing?
I love indie publishing. Like love LOVE it. I love the control. I love the freedom. I love being able to monitor everything and make changes if needed. It’s a lot of work, but so rewarding. Most of all, the indie community has been hugely helpful. They are so free with information and advice.
Any other projects on the horizon? I’m always looking for great new reads!
Oh my goodness, yes! Keep an eye out for a contemporary romance box set by me and Wendy Ely and eight other awesome authors! It’s going to be out in July if all goes according to plan, and it will contain ten full-length novels for the price of one ebook.
All the books are “book one’s” in a series, so you can spend the price of one ebook to try out 10 authors and possibly discover your next guilty pleasure series. My book will be Reckless, the first in my Blue Collar Boyfriends series.
Later this year, I’ll be releasing Jade’s Spirit, BCB book 2 and Cole in My Stocking, BCB book 3. It’s a busy year for me, but an awesome one too!
Awesome! The BCB series is such a wonderful concept, and I very much enjoyed Reckless. Thank you so much for the wonderful interview. To learn more about Jessi, please visit her website. The Wolf and the Highlander is available now:
Amazon | B&N | iTunes | ARe | Kobo | Google Play | Goodreads
Thanks for having me, DB! For your readers, here’s a link to my Rafflecopty GIVEAWAY. It runs though the 23rd. Up for grabs:
1st Prize Ecopy of The Wolf and the Highlander & a $25 Amazon gift card
2nd Prize Ecopy of The Wolf and the Highlander & a $5 Amazon gift card
3rd Prize Ecopy of The Wolf and the Highlander