Today, I have NYT and USA bestselling author Sara Makela in the interview chair. She’s here to talk about her latest series release the Amazon Chronicles, a paranormal romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
1. What can we expect from you in the future?
Sara: More books! Or, to be more specific, I’m currently finishing up edits for the 7th Cry Wolf novel with my editor, and I’m currently writing the 8th book in that series. I also have other stories that have come back from my publishers to get covers for and publish, including two superhero books and the beginning of another shifter romance series called Feral Ink. I’m holding back on that one so I’ll be able to give it the attention it deserves and I can write more books in the Feral Ink series without having it battle for love with what I’m currently doing. I’ve juggled multiple books at a time before, but it doesn’t really work for me. I find it better if I can give my attention to one writing project at a time. I’m also hoping to work on the next Beneath the Broken Moon novel and another book in the Edge of Oblivion series with my co-author Tavin Soren soon.
2. How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Sara: I came up with the concept for the Amazon Chronicles series when I was researching the Amazon Rainforest for a paper in school. I discovered the explorer Francisco de Orellana fought with a group of warrior women on his journey along the Amazon River and that was how he came up with the name Amazonas from Amazons of the Greek mythology. It really intrigued me, so I threw around several what ifs and thought about what might happen if more warrior women still lived in the Amazon Rainforest who knew about the previous encounters and did their best to remain hidden. Of course, I love shifters. I decided the men would mostly be pumas, which do live in the Amazon. The tiger shifter, Rei, is a little different since he travels due to his work of studying the rainforest.
3. Where did you come up with the names in the series?
Sara: I love browsing baby name websites. Behind the Name is one of my favorites. I know some of the names came to me out of the blue while I sought out others with to match up with the perfect name based on its meaning.
4. Who designed your book covers?
The book covers were designed by Yocla Designs. Clarissa also designed the covers for Beneath the Broken Moon. I really love her vision and the way she makes the books come to life with the covers.
5. Have you written any other books that are not published?
Sara: Yes. Some of them are books that were published by previous publishers but their rights came back to me. Other books are ones I wrote earlier in my writing journey that haven’t been fully edited and made ready to release. I will release them one day, though, since I love those books.
Title: Jungle Heat
Series: Amazon Chronicles Book 1
Author: Sarah Makela
Genre: Paranormal Romance
An Amazon Princess and a weretiger must find love enough to heal their peoples’ painful history.
Blurb: The Amazon Rainforest still contains a few secrets. One of these secrets is a hidden village of women whose history is filled with the horror of conquering men.
Adara Rukan, princess of the Amazons, ventures away from her village to find something waiting for her. Andrei “Rei” Makarov is a weretiger and a biologist on assignment. Can Rei and Adara find love enough to bridge their two separate worlds?
Adara raced over the dense forest floor, trying to escape the shadow closing on her heels. Fear pumped adrenaline through her body as she ran toward her village through the darkness. Panic tangled with the sheer need to survive. If only she’d listened. What was I thinking coming out alone?
She shot a glance over her shoulder. Her foot smacked against a tree root in the moment of distraction, pitching her body forward. The fall came in slow motion.
Cursing under her breath, she rolled onto her back. Dry leaves clung to her blonde hair. The subtle, musty scent of slow rot rose from the rich soil, mixed with something primal and wild behind her. The dark shadow loomed. Her gaze rose to take in her pursuer, wondering if the beast would be her doom.
The tall, broad-shouldered creature towered over her. Watching. It wasn’t human or animal. The village wise woman had warned her of beings like this, but they’d seemed like fables. How could something so fantastical be real?
Even as she trembled with fear, this creature captivated her. The black and orange stripes covering his shoulders and arms evoked a distant memory, yet the design was uncommon in the Amazon.
His hair hung in straight, black strands like a human’s, but his face had the nose, mouth, and eyes of a feline. His muscular, naked body reflected a splendid combination of both species. Sweat-shiny skin glistened through the inch-long fur that covered him.
His white chest intrigued her, all the way to the patch of fur barely covering his groin.
Leaves and branches framed his face with a lush green background. He crouched over her. His piercing golden eyes focused solely on her. His stare reminded her of a cat from her village staring at a small rodent before pouncing.
As he leaned down, she grabbed her kris from the garter on her thigh and pushed it against his stomach. She didn’t want today being the day she died. Her people needed her. She wouldn’t let this beast deny them their princess.
The animal cocked his head at her. He brushed his lips over her throat, whiskers tickling her chin.
Her body stiffened. What is he doing? Bewilderment spread through her as his feline lips touched her neck. Instead of biting her, his canines grazed lightly, gently, from just below her ear down to her shoulder, almost as if exploring her flesh, instead of seeking to rip open her throat.
She tensed. Even with her weapon pressed against the beast’s stomach, she still feared for her life. As an Amazon princess, she wasn’t easily scared. But this feline made her heart pound. If only she’d brought Rubia with her, she might not be in this situation, and they would’ve stood a better chance against this feline.
Why does he persist in toying with me? Adara swallowed as a low burn warmed the pit of her stomach. These feelings confused her.
A soft sniffing sounded in her ear right before his tongue scraped rough caresses on her skin. Other jungle cats marked their territory. Did this animal believe she was his? She didn’t want to find out.
Without waiting for the feline’s next move, Adara drove the kris deep into his stomach, meeting resistance as the blade plunged through flesh and muscle. She forced it further as his blood flowed onto her hands, making the hilt of the kris slick and her grip weaker.
He roared and leapt back with her blade still embedded in his abdomen.
She scrambled to her feet. Her ears rang from him screaming so close to the side of her face. Bringing up a hand to her ear, Adara felt a trail of his wet blood drip along her cheek.
He straightened his spine and strode back to her, her kris still buried in him. It seemed as if the dagger was nothing more than a minor annoyance to him. She clenched her hands into fists and dropped them to her sides.
The reality of what she saw struck her, and she froze. How could he act so unaffected? He shouldn’t be able to move around so casually. It wasn’t possible. How can I outrun something like that? This can’t be happening.
Her mother had always warned her to be careful when traveling through the forest. Why hadn’t she listened? And how could she feel so drawn to this animal when he intimidated her?
“Who are you?” Gritting her teeth, she forced her voice to resonate with the commanding tones of an Amazon huntress, and fervently hoped it didn’t betray the panic racing through her veins. Her people’s beliefs restricted them from showing fear in front of strangers. Not that they saw many. But her tribeswomen were survivors in dangerous times. Their history brimmed with reminders.
The feline bared pointed white teeth. “Call me Rei.” His husky voice reverberated like a deep growl.
He launched into the air and, before she could react, flattened her to the ground. Air whooshed from her lungs. Was he getting his revenge? Would she die now? Her eyes widened and locked onto his.
He pinned her arms next to her head and pressed his feline lips to hers. His tongue scraped across her lower lip, causing nips of pain to cut through the alluring sensation.
She shook her head hard, breaking the kiss. Her breath rushed out short and quick. Never before had she kissed anyone. His mouth on hers created fiery stirrings within her body that felt almost too good. Her racing pulse only spread the warmth through her body that much faster.
Twice a year, her tribeswomen associated with Indian men. The younger girls were forced to stay in a hut during those visits, although Adara had snuck out once with Rubia in a fit of rebellion. She’d spotted one of her kin pressing her mouth against an Indian male’s. Could this be what happens?
But men weren’t to be trusted. Her kin had learned that the hard way many, many years ago.
Her mind flashed to the tales she’d heard from the Wise Woman. Horrible reminders assaulted her, memories of the men from long ago, enslaving her kind, killing them ruthlessly with diseases and swords.
She could imagine the cruelty of the conquering, pillaging men as vividly as if she’d been there herself, so strongly had the Wise Woman spoken. It had taken weeks for her to sleep soundly after listening to those tales.
As the princess of her people, it was important for her to not let history repeat. Men couldn’t be allowed to slaughter them again.
Sudden panic swept away the lust that burned inside her. This creature could do the same. He’s chased me, after all.
“What do you want from me?” Adara asked, trying to sound forceful, but instead her voice came out husky. She cleared her throat and returned his gaze.
Talking with an animal! Rubia would be jealous. Her tribeswomen would never believe this story…if she survived the encounter.
Rei smiled, warmth emanating from him. “You.” His chest rumbled, and the word rolled off his tongue like an exotic purr.
Title: Jungle Fire
Series: Amazon Chronicles Book 2
Author: Sarah Makela
Genre: Paranormal Romance
The leader of a Pride of werepumas must win his lady’s love, or she could be taken from him forever.
Blurb: In the Amazon Rainforest, traditions are important. They’ve long led to survival for the Amazon warrior women.
Kyle Reynolds, ruler of the werepumas, is ready to fly in the face of those treasured customs for the love of Rubia Costa, who will soon be out of his grasp if he can’t win her affection before allies of the Amazons steal her away from him forever.
Rubia Costa tied down her hammock in a peaceful spot where she enjoyed getting away. She’d told no one of this location, and yet she was within yelling distance of her people. Help would come if the need arose.
She didn’t dare venture far from her village. But these days, village life wasn’t as calm and mundane as it once had been. So far, she wasn’t sure whether that was good or bad. Her people’s traditions were rapidly changing, and she couldn’t hold back confusion as pieces of what she’d been taught now unraveled around her.
She climbed onto the hammock and gazed into the trees above her. The hammock swung gently, lulling her into the relaxed state she so desired. She closed her eyes and sighed softly.
The dream world rose up to greet her, welcoming her with open arms. However, the crunching of dry leaves underfoot forced her back to alertness. Her eyes shot open to see a tall, dark-haired man towering over her.
She lunged for her spear, stuck in the ground nearby. Ugh. Realization dawned on her who this man was, and she settled back. Her nerves were still tense and ready to fight.
“Some reflexes you have there,” Kyle Reynolds said. A grin stretched across his lips, brightening his face. At ease, he leaned against the tree near her feet while she admired his broad, muscular shoulders that narrowed down to a slim waist.
She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, unwilling to show the impact his presence had on her. “What are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“My sense of smell isn’t as acute as other animals’, but it’s good enough to figure where you went. I wanted to make sure you’re not getting into trouble.” His grin turned into a smirk, and he pushed away from the tree.
“What? Like my friend…” She grimaced. Although they still talked, Adara had so much going on. They didn’t spend much time together as they had before, especially now with Rei in Adara’s life.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He winked and sat next to her in the hammock. It tilted enough that she slid closer to him.
Her hip bumped his, and her nerves tingled in response. She scooted away. Unfortunately, he must have taken that as an invitation to come closer, since he lay next to her. “What are you doing? Get out of my hammock.” She twisted farther away as her body started to slip toward his once again.
Kyle grabbed her wrist and kissed her knuckles. His gaze held something she’d seen in glances between Rei and Adara. Those kinds of emotions were unfamiliar to her. Vaguely, she realized their meaning, but why would Kyle project that toward her?
He trailed his lips over her wrist and slowly moved up her arm. His warm breath tickled her skin. For the life of her, she couldn’t drag her gaze from his. Her voice escaped in a whisper. “What are you doing?”
“Something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. You don’t make this easy for me, Rubia.” He rolled over carefully. His body hovered over hers, and he pressed his lips against her shoulder and then her neck.
Sensations of pleasure spread between her legs, warming her body to a fever pitch. What were they doing? Panic rose up within her, and she shoved hard at Kyle’s chest, throwing him off balance. The hammock tilted, and air rushed by just before her body hit the ground with a thud.
Pain throbbed along her back, and a groan welled up from her throat. She blinked her eyes open, suddenly regretting her actions.
Kyle knelt at her side. Concern etched soft lines at the corner of his mouth. “Are you okay?”
The ache in her back sharpened, and she fought not to wince. Instead, she pushed at Kyle’s chest, needing space away from him. “I’m fine. I can walk.”
He stared at her with a raised eyebrow, then shook his head. “I’ll carry you. It’s no trouble.” Before she could protest further, he scooped her into his arms.
Great. The last thing she needed was for her tribeswomen to see him carting her around as if he were her protector or had…claimed her. Let alone him doing that in her current state. They might worry she’d been injured, which wasn’t far from the truth, since she wasn’t feeling well at the moment.
She shoved against him hard, but it was like trying to move a solid tree trunk. He didn’t budge an inch. Her people had studied the werecats, since they lived in such close proximity, but she had a hard time getting used to one being so close. She wasn’t sure she wanted to be intimate with Kyle, regardless of his persistent attention.
Something about him was alluring, but she couldn’t dream of becoming tied to the werepumas’ leader and shirking her responsibilities as an Amazon. She wanted to lead a peaceful, simple life. Those words were foreign when Kyle was involved.
He stood just out of sight from the village’s catwalks. A look of amusement sparkled in his eyes while she wriggled in his arms.
“Set me down. Right now.” She lowered her voice and glared at him. If only he didn’t have such a solid grip on her spear, but there was no chance she’d be able to wrestle it away from him. Not if he didn’t want her to.
Even if she did have her spear, what would she do? Stab him? He was the werepuma leader! She didn’t stand a chance against him, and if truth be told, he’d done nothing that desired violence.
He watched her, and his lips twisted. Determination set in his jaw, but he gently placed her feet on the ground. “Fine. Go show everyone how strong and brave you are.” He muttered under his breath, “Silly woman.”
Title: Jungle Blaze
Series: Amazon Chronicles Book 3
Author: Sarah Makela
Genre: Paranormal Romance
An Amazon and a werepuma cause a battle between races, but will they find love together in time?
Blurb: Sol has seen others around her find their mates, and she’s determined to find her own, except the man who has caught her eye is standoffish and has no intention of getting into a relationship.
Eduardo, the second-in-command of the werepumas, has no interest in the mating going on around him, but his stern attitude is about to change when he finds what he didn’t know he was looking for—Sol.
Soft moans filtered into her sleep. Blinking her eyes open, Sol Rios pushed herself into a sitting position and drowsily rubbed her hands over her face. Sleep wasn’t her friend anymore. Not since her neighbor, Rubia, had mated with the werepumas’ leader.
The quiet sighs of pleasure steadily gained intensity and became more insistent, more demanding. Louder. She balled her hands into fists, even as dampness and warmth gathered between her legs. She squeezed her thighs together against the cruel sensation.
This was craziness! She had to get away from here. Would it look too suspicious if Sol asked Adara, the Amazon Queen, if she could move her hut? Then again, Rubia and Adara were friends. Her complaint might cause friction between her and Rubia if Adara said something. She’d have to come up with a good reason, instead of just complaining about the…noise.
Once dressed, Sol stepped out of her hut. She drew in a breath of fresh air to soothe her nerves.
Darkness blanketed the village. Only a few torches here and there provided enough light for her to see. She headed toward the village’s center where the Amazons and werepumas held their feasts. Embers glowed hot in the fire pit. She sat beside it, enjoying the heat and the night sounds of the rainforest.
A few guards—both Amazon and werepuma—were prowling the catwalks, and one of the Amazons noticed her with a wave. She returned the kind gesture then lowered her gaze to the coals. Toasty warmth caressed her skin. She wrapped her arms around her legs, hugging them to her chest, then rested her chin on her knees.
Movement drew her attention away from the fire pit, and she caught sight of a tall, lithe figure striding from the village’s entrance toward her. Torchlight revealed his face, and she sucked in a breath. It was Eduardo, the werepumas’ second-in-command.
She was thankful for the darkness. Otherwise, she’d have run.
Her gaze followed him as he passed by without sparing her a glance. How embarrassing. She buried her face in her legs, wishing she had the spark the other Amazons possessed. Many of her people were finding their mates, yet no one paid her any attention. Especially not the man she found most attractive. He didn’t even acknowledge her existence.
At this rate, her womb would become barren before he even bothered making eye contact. Did what he thought really matter? She’d become like her neighbor and up at all hours doing primal…acts with her mate. When did the women ever sleep?
She shook her head, shrugging off any pity for herself. Peeking over her shoulder, she saw Eduardo standing before Rubia’s hut. Even from this distance, tension was evident in his posture. Maybe Rubia and the werepuma leader were still rutting like wild animals.
Sol turned away before he could feel her gaze. Not like that would matter much. She hadn’t seen him look or talk to any of the women aside from Adara, Rubia, and a few Amazon guards. All occasions were strictly for business.
He didn’t possess much charm or charisma—in her opinion—just a stern, no-nonsense attitude. Yet Sol couldn’t help the foolhardy attraction she felt for him. What was wrong with her? It had to be why none of the men were interested in her.
Faint footsteps approached her from behind. Maybe he was just leaving the village again. It didn’t mean he’d have any reason to talk with her. Right? But the footsteps paused, and sudden encompassing silence unsettled her.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a pair of denim-clad legs. Her gaze slid up those strong legs and over his solid chest until she stared into his dark blue eyes.
A frown curved his lips, and he folded his arms over his chest. “You live in the hut next to Rubia, don’t you?”
Sol froze and looked around as if he could’ve been talking to an invisible person next to her. His irritated sigh drew her gaze back to him. “Ye-yes, I do.”
He looked from her to Rubia’s hut again. “Give them a message for me when they manage to tear themselves away from one another.” Displeasure oozed from his tone. His gaze pinned her in place, and she felt as small as an ant.
At least she’d been wrong about something—her hair wasn’t gray nor her womb barren—but this wasn’t quite how she’d imagined him looking at her. In her daydreams, he’d been kind and caring, loving and warm. Not at all like this.
Any bit of self-confidence she’d possessed leaked away. Her nerves shook with the intensity of his intimidating stare. “Message?” Her voice squeaked. Heat rose to her cheeks, but she fought back the blush warming her neck.
The sexy werepuma frowned. “Yes, tell them that I—” Shaking his head, he balled one hand into a fist. “Forget it. I’ll come back in the morning and speak with them myself.” He walked off. Lowering his voice, he murmured to himself, “The message probably wouldn’t reach them if I left it with her. She hardly has any backbone.”
Her heart plummeted into her stomach, and she clenched her hands into fists. She barely held back her tears. “You don’t know me,” she said, her words a whisper.
Eduardo stopped. He turned enough to look over his shoulder, giving her a great view of his profile. His lips curled back from his teeth. “I have no reason to either.” He strode away, leaving her sitting by the fire pit, alone and shaken.
Her emotions shuffled between hurt, humiliation, and then finally settled on anger. Pulling herself to her feet, she stared after the man she’d liked. Now she had her reason for wanting to move her home, and she’d be petitioning Queen Adara first thing tomorrow morning.
Title: Jungle Burn
Series: Amazon Chronicles Book 4
Author: Sarah Makela
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Blurb: In the series finale, Sabina Rukan is ready to find her mate. She must choose between her close friend, Tiago, who lusts after her, and the object of her desire, Rafael.
When the three of them come together, Rafael discovers the feelings between him and Sabina are mutual, and he’ll stop at nothing to make her his mate.
Sabina Rukan knocked on the door to Tiago’s hut. He’d been her closest friend for years, even though her parents had always wanted her to socialize with the other girls in the village. She didn’t really care. Growing up as Princess of the Amazons, she couldn’t help a slight feeling of entitlement. Her destiny was to rule.
The door to his hut opened, and Tiago stood there shirtless with a faded pair of blue jeans hugging his hips. The corners of his lips lifted in a wicked quirk. That usually signaled trouble, and with him, that meant fun.
She trailed her gaze over the muscular expanse of his chest. Seeing his bare skin made her want to nibble on his torso and bask in his warmth. For the past few weeks, her hormones had been flung into overdrive.
The werepuma men had taken a greater interest in her, which was embarrassing, and yet her parents were still convinced she wasn’t ready to become a woman. If they weren’t going to trust her, she’d have to take matters into her own hands. She’d known just who to visit, too.
Tiago took her hand and brushed a kiss across her knuckles. “How are you doing, beautiful?” His nose twitched a little, and his brown eyes darkened, as they tended to do whenever she came around. He wanted her, and she wouldn’t mind having him, either.
“I’m doing fine. I need to talk with you.” She held his hand, pulling him from his hut. With her being a weretiger, she had comparable strength to his, but she’d been taught not to use her full strength from a young age. It would only hurt people around her, which she was very careful about.
“Where are we going?” He didn’t look too sure about this, but he shut the door and followed her. “Why aren’t we talking in my home? There’s more privacy in there than out here.”
What had gotten into him? She turned to look at him and rolled her eyes. “No, not really. You know as well as I do, if someone wanted to listen in on our conversation, all they’d have to do is stand outside your door and concentrate. That’s not okay with what I need to say.”
At that moment, a couple of werepumas walked by and looked her up and down. One halted his progress, his eyes flashing upon her as if he wanted nothing better than to push her to the ground and ride her. Her out-of-control hormones were a primary cause for the sudden surge of rudeness she faced, yet her Amazonian kin wouldn’t understand.
Sabina was different from them. Being the only female werecat in the village felt like she’d been cursed in many ways. Her parents had forbidden the werepumas to tell her secret, and Kyle—their leader—made sure his people knew the lengths he’d go to help make sure the Amazons didn’t find out before they were ready. Her parents weren’t sure the Amazons would stand behind her as they did her mother, the queen, or even her father or Rubia and Kyle. None of them were a creature next in line for the throne.
Tiago frowned, not missing the werepumas’ stares, but he shrugged. “Fine. Take me where you think it’s safe.”
She walked with him through the village, her gaze focused on where she was going. Her shoulders were tense. How would he take what she wanted to say?
But he used his free hand to squeeze one of them slightly. “Relax,” he said. “I’m here.”
Sabina let out a deep breath and took him into the trees. They didn’t go far, just enough to have some privacy. “Okay. I…” She paused, not sure how to get the words out. Her normally carefree personality resisted, not letting her get this off her chest. Should she be asking him about her needs? “I was wondering…” She shook her head. “I’m sorry for bothering—”
Tiago hooked his index finger under her chin and forced her to look at him. “You’re not bothering me, beautiful. Just let me know what’s on your mind.” He stared into her eyes, his gaze intense and powerful in the dark night.
“I need sexual release.” The words left her lips before she could cage them. “I hear the mated women and men in their huts, and my body burns like it’s caught in a bonfire.” She licked her suddenly dry lips, and his gaze dropped to take in the swift motion.
“And you’ve come to me with this request?” His tone was carefully neutral, but the bulge in his jeans spoke louder than his words.
She nodded, feeling relief at his physical response. Maybe he’d be more open to her request than she’d thought.
“Sabina, come on. Your parents would kill me if I claimed you without their permission. Hell, my parents would probably help, too.” The wicked quirk of his lips continued to tease her.
Maybe she’d been wrong to come to him. Right now, she wanted to punch him in his handsome face, but that wouldn’t help her cause. She propped her hands on her hips. “And?”
“I might be able to help ease your desire.”
Hot anticipation warmed her body, and she licked her lips. “You can?”
“Anything for you, beautiful.” He helped her to the ground and onto her back. His hands went to the strip of cloth covering her chest…
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Sarah Mäkelä loves her fiction dark, magical, and passionate. She is a paranormal romance author, but she’s written all over the romance spectrum with cyberpunk, sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy… even a sweet contemporary romance!
A life-long paranormal fan, she still sleeps with a night light. In her spare time, she reads sexy books, watches scary movies, and plays computer games with her husband. When she gets the chance, she loves traveling the world too.
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