This story wasn’t in my original plan for the Twin Moon series at all, but one thing led to another and before I knew it, Axel and Beth were demanding a story of their own! Learn about the conception and development of this book here.
THE INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY
It all started innocently, way back in Desert Wolf 2 (one of the short stories that follows Ty and Lana of Desert Moon in their happily ever after). I needed a formidable shifter species to come galloping at the happy lovers out of the desert, and on a whim, I thought javelina (wild boar) shifters would be a good fit. And not just any javelinas, but big (huge! massive!) three-hundred pounders with curved tusks and restless hooves. I plan most of my scenes ahead of time, but that one pretty much wrote itself, and before I knew it, I had three javelinas with distinct personalities on my hands: the brusque father, the battle-scarred uncle, and the dutiful son. (Obviously, I have a thing for dutiful sons…) Axel wasn’t even referred to by name in that story, yet he stuck in my head.
When it came time to write Desert Heart (in which Tina and Rick barely survive a hellhound attack), the javelinas came into play again, with Axel running to the rescue just when all hope is lost. As soon as I started writing that emotional scene, I knew Axel needed his own story. He deserved more than a brief appearance and an equally quick exit off the stage. And he deserved a mate! It wasn’t long before the rest fell into place: Axel and Beth’s first meeting, the Christmas party, their parting, and the battle at the end. And, of course, the happy end.
I originally envisioned writing this as two short stories: first, a Christmas story that ended far too bitterly, with Axel being whisked away by duty just when he and Beth found love, followed by an action-packed Part II story in which the couple finally overcomes the odds. Eventually, I came to my senses and realized I had enough material for an interesting and inspiring full-length book that would add a new dimension to the Twin Moon series. And thus, Desert Rose was born!
THE INSPIRATION FOR THE CHARACTERS
Axel started a little like Ty Hawthorne – the dutiful son of an overbearing father. While their situations are similar, however, their characters are completely different. I decided to challenge myself on this one and write not only a sexy boar shifter (!) but a rather shy and retiring one. Shy and retiring, that is, until he’s faced with losing his destined mate. The javelina (wild boar) part came from two things: the wild pigs I’ve seen running by the ranch in Arizona that served as the inspiration for this series, and the massive, 300 pound boars I’ve seen in Europe. Axel’s family story goes like this: his ancestors were wild boars that came from the Old World to the New and mixed with javelinas there. Logical, right?
Beth is also a completely new character type for me. Most of my female leads are tough, assertive, and athletic, while Beth is a quiet and curvy librarian. You might remember her from a very brief appearance in Desert Blood, but then again, you might not. And that’s exactly the point. She’s forgettable, overlooked. But inside is a she-wolf as tough and beautiful as any of them. All she needs is the right man to help bring it out!
Why a librarian? Well, the real-life Arizona ranch that serves as my inspiration for Twin Moon ranch has an airy library much like the one described in Desert Rose, for one thing. And guess what my first paying job (other than babysitting and chores around the house) was, back when I was fourteen? Yep – working in my town’s public library for minimal wage whenever I could fit it in around sports practices!
Soon, Beth’s character snowballed much like Axel’s had done. She became the librarian who helped in the school. I’m a teacher myself, and managing fourteen youngsters of different ages in a one-room schoolhouse is more than I could ask of capable Heather (the heroine of Desert Blood). Beth grew and grew until she evolved into a woman who learned to find an inner strength she didn’t know she possessed until love inspired her to dig it out. She became a hero in her own right, and that’s one of the things I love most about Beth: her overcoming the odds is not a forgone conclusion, but she manages it. Yay for Beth and all the quiet, nice girls out there!
MY FAVORITE SCENE
This is a hard one to put my finger on, but I’d have to say the opening scene, where we feel all of Axel’s hopes and fears. I think everyone can relate to his wish to belong and to find a peaceful place to call home. My other favorite scene is the final one, when the wolves of Twin Moon pack give Axel a hero’s welcome and accept him as one of their own. Beth gets the respect she deserves, too. I sigh a happy sigh every time I get to that part! And they lived happily ever after…
BIGGEST CHANGE FROM EARLY DRAFT TO FINAL PRODUCT
As I mentioned above, Desert Rose originally took shape as two short stories, mainly because I had obligations to two different collections being published by different author groups. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking! I ended up writing different stories for those collections (Desert Yule, my uplifting Christmas story, is one of them) and giving Axel and Beth the full-length treatment they deserved. I’m so glad I did! I love these characters and how they inspire each other to grow and overcome.
If you haven’t read Desert Rose yet, get your copy HERE!