Behind the scenes: Gambling on Her Dragon

Gambling on Her Dragon is my zaniest story yet - it’s packed with humor, action, romance, and dark moments, too. Find out just how my first dragon/wolf shifter story came to be – and how it links to my other series. Just read on!

The story

Credit for the original concept goes to author Michelle Fox, who had the brainwave of gathering a group of authors to each write their own Vegas story à la “The Hangover.” I loved the idea and immediately started wondering which of the wolves of Twin Moon Ranch I could send over the state border for some wacky times in Sin City.

At that time, I had two series going. One is a paranormal romance series called The Wolves of Twin Moon Ranch and the other is my Serendipity Adventure Romance series. While both include a lot of action, the Serendipity stories truly are high-octane adventure romances. I’ve been dying to write a cross between those two series for a while, and this was my chance! The result is Gambling on Her Dragon in which the characters go from high-diving off a hotel balcony to a gargoyle chase to being trapped by an enemy wolf pack and finally, being thrown into a fighting pit run by vampires. Of course, there are just enough breathers mixed in to let Trey and Kaya get up close and personal, too!

The characters

I’ve been itching to write a dragon shifter for quite a while, so I jumped at my chance with this story. In fact, the very first scene my imagination served up when I was considering a Vegas story was the opening scene of Gambling on Her Dragon, in which a shocked Trey watches his mystery lover jump off a balcony and turn into a dragon. Everything snowballed from there, and soon I had Kaya, who is just as confused as Trey about the incredible attraction she feels toward him. She’s a tough, capable, and fiery woman – not your average dragon shifter (if there is such a thing), especially because she can’t breathe fire. Well, not until it really counts! (In case you haven’t read the book yet, I won’t give away that scene. You’ll have to read it for yourself!)

Trey Dixon actually made a brief appearance in Desert Rose. Did you catch it? Much like Tobin of Entangled, he’s an easy-going charmer, but he’s got a lot of depth, too. And his wolf is absolutely, positively, one-hundred devoted to Kaya from the moment he lays eyes on her. Part of me loves the fact that he’s Lana Dixon’s “little” cousin, though he’s not exactly little. Not at all! He’s got an especially big heart, and it’s got a hell of a soft spot for tough woman who don’t like asking for help.

You’ll find several characters in this book who appear in the Wolves of Twin Moon Ranch series. Apart from a mention of Trey’s cousin Lana (whose love story is told in Desert Moon, you’ll also find the shady wolves of Westend pack making repeat appearances. Roric, the Westend alpha, and Sabrina, both appear in the very first chapter of Desert Hunt, when she-wolf Rae departs Nevada for a fresh start in Arizona. Spoiled brat Sabrina makes a second appearance in Desert Blood, when she tries to make a catch of Cody Hawthorne (whose heart is set on his destined mate, Heather, a human he can never, ever have), and very nearly succeeds.

My favorite scene

Although I love the mystery of the opening scene, my absolute favorite scene is the one in which Trey and Kaya confront each other in the scorching Nevada desert not long after their one-night stand (or what they thought would be a quick one-night stand). She’s just stolen the $90,000 he won at poker, and he’s taken her 1962 Jaguar roadster in revenge. It’s a prickly situation, especially since poor Kaya has just shifted out of dragon form and is badly in the clothes she left behind after a hasty exit. Trey gives the clothes back piece by piece. “Undies?” He grinned, swinging them on a finger. She snatched them and yanked them on as he rooted around in a backpack. “I think I have a bra in here somewhere…”

Biggest change from first to last draft

Although I went through several possible storylines before I settled on what would become Gambling on Her Dragon, it was always going to be a combination of a smart she-dragon caught in a tight spot and a charming he-wolf to help get her out of it. And I knew from the very start I wanted it to be a cross between my high-octane adventure romances and my dark & dangerous [Twin Moon Ranch] series – and I have to say, I love the results. The biggest change from my initial concept to the final work is some elements of the plot, but even that always had Trey and Kaya weaving in and out of trouble between the Westend wolves and Igor Schiller of Scarlet Palace. (Side note: don’t you just love “Scarlet Palace” as the name of a casino run by vampires? My twelve-year-old was brainstorming with me and came up with that fantastic idea!)

My own wild Vegas story?

Ha! My own real-life Vegas story is ridiculously tame. Just like Trey Dixon, I once drove to Vegas from the Arizona ranch I was working on (the inspiration for my Twin Moon series, in fact). However, I spent the night at a friend’s house and not in the arms of a mystery lover! And unlike Trey, I’m not much of a card player, so I risked exactly one nickel in a slot machine to be able to say I’ve played Vegas, and that was it! Otherwise, I had a great time taking in the sights – like the Luxor’s fake Nile and the pirate battle at Treasure Island. I was sad to see the magnificent white tigers on display at the Mirage, though. The people in Vegas are all part of the “sights,” and many funny observations I made snuck into my book.