I didn't know what Owen had in mind, but it was already obvious to me that I would go anywhere this man was leading. He kept his hand in mine as he guided me through the crowded bar and toward the pool tables. Thankfully, because the band was still playing, the back of the bar was far less populated.
"Is playing pool normally part of a first date with you, or are you just trying to get me alone?" I teased.
Owen took a step towards me, pinning me between him and the pool table.
"Both," he said with a smile on his face that I could only describe as wicked.
I tilted my head to the side as I looked up at him. "Let's make it interesting, then."
I took a step to the side, sliding out from between him and the ancient wooden table. I grabbed a pool cue off of the rack and tossed it to him before grabbing a decidedly smaller one for myself. "We're going to need more shots," I said to him.
A smile crept over his dark features. "My kind of girl..." he murmured as he lowered his head towards mine.
"Nope, if you want to kiss me, you better plan on winning."
Owen shook his head and left me at the table while I started to rack the balls. A few minutes later, he returned with four shots; two of whiskey, two of tequila. I took one of the shot glasses filled with dark brown liquor straight out of his hand and threw it back. I winced as the alcohol made my throat close in on itself. The truth was, I might have been putting on a show. I enjoyed the way I felt around Owen, but I didn't know if I was as wild as I wanted him to believe.
"So what are the stakes here?" he asked me as he set the remaining shots on a nearby hightop.
"If you win, you get to take me home..." I said in a voice I barely recognized as my own. It was breathy and seductive. Those two shots apparently went to my head faster than I thought.
"And if you win?" Owen asked with a raised brow.
"If I win, I get a second date."
"Who said we can't do both?" he said with a chuckle.
I rolled my eyes. I didn't have this whole impulsive, whiskey-drinking, short skirt-wearing Jacey completely figured out yet.
Owen took a step towards me. He reached for my hips and pulled me toward him. "What do you really want?"
I could feel my pulse banging in my ears, and the loud, crowded bar faded into the background. He reached around my head, threading his fingers into my hair and tugging me towards him. I leaned forward, expecting him to kiss me, but his mouth hovered over mine.
"What do you want?" he asked again.
"You," I said, my voice caught in my throat.
"What was that?" he asked teasingly. His deep voice, vibrating through me.
"I want you."
Finally, he brought his lips to mine and kissed me deeply. Kissing Owen wasn't new to me; we couldn't stop kissing the night he drove me over the Brooklyn Bridge. But this was something else. I wasn't sure I even knew my own name anymore.
"When I take you home, it's going to be because you're begging me to...not because I won at pool."
What Makes Shifted Special
By Roxanna Mason
When people ask me where I came up with the concept for Shifted the answer is always the same. The book started as a writing prompt that asked the question, “what if a woman failed with every man she dated, only to find they were all the same man?”. In a world of internet dating and catfishing schemes, it would have been easy to come up with a story about a woman falling for men she never met but as a huge lover of both romance novels and horror movies, I came up with something else entirely and ended up asking myself - what if a man who could physically turn himself into other people was so desperately in love with a woman that he was willing to turn himself into other people to become who she ultimately wanted?
What makes Shifted a unique addition to its genre starts with the way the book is read. Because Shifted is in the first person perspective of Jacey, my main character, I wanted to take the reader on the same journey that my protagonist was going on. When you start to read the book it feels like you’re reading an average contemporary rom-com because in many ways that’s what Jacey’s life and her sudden influx of handsome suitors feel like. However, slowly but surely you start to get clued in on the fact that something paranormal is going on.
As you might have guessed by the title, Shifted features shapeshifters but don’t expect to see any mythical creatures or animals in this story. Another unique thing about the book is that the shifters in this series only have the ability to turn themselves into other human beings, making it a very realistic take on a completely unrealistic topic. I wanted to drive home the idea that this is a story about what would happen if there were humans with a gene that made them capable of turning themselves into other people and explore both the consequences and emotional implications of that.
Another one of my favorite things about the book is its diversity. As an author of color, I knew going into the writing of my book that I wanted to include characters who varied in ethnicity and sexual orientation. The result is a beautiful blend of characters that I’m incredibly proud of. This includes a demisexual love interest which I think adds a piece of often-overlooked representation when it comes to romance novels.
The overall tone of the book is also something to note. It’s funny, sarcastic, modern, and relatable. Instead of writing a paranormal romance that focused on the physical danger of dating someone with supernatural abilities, I wanted to explore the emotional peril of falling in love with someone who could physically become someone else in the blink of an eye.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a fresh take on paranormal romance with a witty writing style and a thought-provoking premise, I promise you that Shifted is a book you will love.