Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Charlie Cochet for stopping by today.
Title: Against the Grain (THIRDS Book 5)
Author: Charlie Cochet
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Genre: Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal
As the fiercest Defense Agent at the THIRDS, Destructive Delta’s Ash Keeler is foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. But his hard-lined approach always yields results, evident by his recent infiltration of the Coalition. Thanks to Ash’s skills and the help of his team, they finally put an end to the murdering extremist group for good, though not before Ash takes a bullet to save teammate Cael Maddock. As a result, Ash’s secrets start to surface, and he can no longer ignore what’s in his heart.
Cael Maddock is no stranger to heartache. As a Recon Agent for Destructive Delta, he has successfully maneuvered through the urban jungle that is New York City, picking up his own scars along the way. Yet nothing he’s ever faced has been more of a challenge than the heart of Ash Keeler, his supposedly straight teammate. Being in love isn’t the only danger he and Ash face as wounds reopen and new secrets emerge, forcing them to question old loyalties.
Hello all! Thank you for joining me as I celebrate the release of the fifth book in the THIRDS series, Against the Grain. One of my favorite things about writing is giving life to new characters. Ever since I was a kid, I’d create my own characters, drawing them out and writing little stories to go with them. It’s no secret that all my stories are very heavily character driven. To me, that’s the most important part. Not that the rest of the story’s components aren’t important, but to me the characters have to drive the story. As a reader, I’m willing to forgive a whole lot if the story has characters that I love. A book can have the most amazing plot, fantastic writing, an incredible world, but if the characters fall flat, it can be disappointing.
The THIRDS is most definitely character driven, not to mention character heavy. The idea for a different type of shifter series came first, as did a general idea of the world, but before anything was plotted or the world fully formed, I turned to the characters. I needed to have my main characters before I started anything. A lot of folks ask me where Dex came from, and the answer to that is that he just appeared one day in all his cheesy doodle crunching glory. I had this blond haired guy who loved 80s music and food. He had a smart mouth and a talent for getting into trouble. Sloane soon followed. Ah, my Broodie Bear. Sloane was the grump to Dex’s cheerfulness, the fierce to Dex’s gentleness, and the pain in need of Dex’s soothing touch. As the rest of the story and world building developed, so did the rest of Dex and Sloane’s crew.
As the series focused not just on Dex and Sloane, but their family, friends, and teammates, it was clear each character would have to be as strong as the next. They’d have to each have their own distinct personalities, quirks, dreams, fears, and demons. They had to have pasts, relationships, goals, and passions. They had to be driven.
The more Dex and Sloane interacted, the more their personalities came about. Dex couldn’t just be this 80s music singing cheerful nut. He had to have other qualities. On the outside he portrays one thing, and on the inside something else. With Sloane, what you see is what you get, yet his personality grows and changes. Dex’s influence has been good for him. Dex however, is a different story, and in many ways, he’s similar to Ash. I know that may sound crazy, but it’s true. With both Dex and Ash, what’s happening on the outside doesn’t always reflect what’s happening on the inside.
For Dex, when’s he’s nervous, scared, or feeling insecure about something, he uses his humor to hide, to protect himself. When he doesn’t want someone knowing what he’s really thinking, he uses his humor. When he’s trying to get a read on someone or find something out, he automatically switches to his charming, lovable personality. Ash uses his aggression and anger the way Dex uses his humor. If he doesn’t want anyone knowing what he’s really thinking, or that he’s hurting, he’ll use intimidation tactics. What comes out of his mouth isn’t necessarily what’s going on in his head. Ash may come across as a big overbearing jerk, but he’s a close quarter combat and entry tactics expert. He’s much smarter than he lets on, and he loves when people underestimate him.
With Ash being the arrogant, foul-mouthed, foul-tempered jerk that he was, it was only fitting that someone sweet and adorable would steal his heart. From day one, Ash was a goner. His ability to scare kittens and make babies cry was non-existent when dealing with one particular wide-eyed cheetah Therian. Not only had Ash fallen for those big gray eyes, he’d taken it upon himself to become Cael’s protector, and heaven help the poor bastard who tried to do Cael harm. Writing all these characters with all their differences, their flaws, weaknesses, strengths, and heartache has been such a joy. I hope you’ll fall in love with these guys as much as I have.
At one point, Ash felt Cael’s leg pressed up against his, and it was ridiculous how happy the tiny gesture made him. If it was even a gesture. Ash swiftly put it off to being an accident, but then a little later, Cael reached over and wiped a thumb over the corner of Ash’s mouth, telling him he had a breadcrumb.
“You should have seen him,” Dex said with a laugh. “He looked so adorable with his cheetah fuzz shaped into spikes, from his head down to his back. Like a little spotted punk rocker.”
Maddock shook his head at Dex. “It took me two hours to wash all the hair spray off your brother’s fur.”
“We were pretending to be Guns N’ Roses,” Cael explained. “Dex was singing ‘Welcome to the Jungle,’ and I was backup sing—er, chirping.”
Ash laughed and playfully bumped Cael’s shoulder. “I’m going to have to agree with Dex. That’s adorable.” Even in his Therian form, Ash thought Cael was the sweetest thing he’d ever laid eyes on. Cael could be in his Therian form among thousands of cheetahs, and Ash would be able to point him out. His little gestures, the heart shape of his nose, or the way he chirped away, as if anyone not in their Therian form might understand him if he tried hard enough.
Dex grabbed Sloane’s arm. “Tell me you recorded that. Doesn’t matter. I have witnesses.” Dex stood and motioned to all of them. “Witnesses! You all heard it. Ash said he agrees with me.”
“Oh, good Lord. We’re never going to hear the end of this,” Maddock sighed, getting up to clear the dishes.
“Do you realize how epic this moment is?” Dex said, helping clear up.
“It’s not really that epic,” Maddock replied.
Dex let out an exaggerated gasp. “Where have you been living? Ash Keeler has agreed with something I, Dexter J. Daley, has said.”
“About your brother being adorable. Not exactly earthshattering. He’s thought that since they met.”
The table fell into silence as they all gaped at Maddock. Well, this was news to Ash. What the hell? Seeming to notice the quiet, or more likely the lack of Dex talking, Maddock looked up.
“What are you, fish? Close your mouths.”
Four mouths promptly closed.
“It’s not rocket science. I’ve known that boy since he joined, and he’s threatened every agent he’s ever met with kicking their ass. Except for Cael.”
Hard to argue with that. It was the truth.
Dex frowned at Ash. “You threatened to kick Hobbs’s ass?”
Ash nodded. “Yep.” Was it his first week of being on the job? He was pretty sure it was the first week.
“Dude, that’s not cool. Hobbs is awesome.”
“He can also be a pain in the ass. Plus when we first met, I didn’t know he had selective mutism. I asked him a question, and he wouldn’t answer me. He’d whisper to Calvin, who’d answer for him. I got pissed off and told him if he didn’t tell me himself, I’d kick his ass.” Ash had never met a tiger Therian as big and insecure as Hobbs. The whole encounter had left him confused. Here was their new demolitions expert, and he couldn’t talk. How the fuck was he going to communicate with his team? Ash wasn’t proud to admit he’d had a shit fit. He understood the THIRDS was about equality and representation when it came to hiring, but he had been genuinely concerned about the safety of his team. Not long after, Ash had seen how wrong he’d been about Hobbs. Not that he’d admitted it.
Dex let out a sound of disgust. “Dude, not cool.”
“I said I didn’t know. I apologized afterward, and that’s saying something.”
Ash got up to help clear the dishes, with Dex going on about how he should really think about using some of those scented candles Rosa had gifted him. Ash proceeded to flip him off.
When Cael stood to help, Ash put a hand to his shoulder.
“Relax, I’ve got this.”
He gave Cael a wink and walked the dirty dishes to the kitchen with Dex yammering on behind him. The guy was like a fucking mosquito buzzing in your ear and trying to suck the life out of you. Ash placed the dishes in the dishwasher, giving grunts and one-word replies. He grabbed the dishes from Dex and put those in as well. He wished he could stick Dex in there. Finally someone up there decided to give him a break, and Dex left the kitchen, singing some stupid song about a lion sleeping tonight or something.
Ash frowned at Maddock. “Does he never shut up? How the hell did you live with this for so long?”
“It’s called patience,” Maddock replied. “Not exactly your forte.”
“Oh, I can be patient. That’s not what’s required when dealing with your oldest. I’d say sedative is more the word you were looking for.”
Maddock laughed. “Just get in there, Keeler.”
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About the Author
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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