How to Love Thine Enemy | Eli Easton
How To Howl at the Moon #6
Release Date: April 17th, 2023
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Can a forbidden love heal the rift between two enemy tribes?
Legend says that, centuries ago, the sled dogs and the Inuit were so deeply bonded that the dogs rose up on two legs and became men. The Qimmig and the People lived together happily until one of the Inuit betrayed the dog-men. The Qimmig fled, vowing never to return.
Taq figured that was just another story elders told around the campfire. But when he witnesses two guys survive a polar bear attack by shifting into dogs, he has to rethink everything. Could the Qimmig really exist? And could they have anything to do with the special, golden-eyed boy he’d played with as a child?
Cupun has missed his old friend, Taq. But it is forbidden for the Qimmig to have anything to do with one-skinned Inupiat. When a series of events brings Taq back into his life, the feelings of protectiveness and joy awakened in his dog’s heart tell him that Taq is his soul’s mate.
But neither the Qimmig nor the Inuit are prepared to accept this bond. Are the boys fated for tragedy? Or will their love find a way?
How to Love Thine Enemy is a star-crossed lovers/Romeo and Juliet trope set in Alaska. Friends-to-lovers, doggie shifters, and destined romance with a little wilderness adventure.
Anka brought out three mugs of tea and a plate of hard-ass cookies. She set them on the coffee table. Hanta and Taq ate one cookie each, for politeness’s sake. In their village, people did not appreciate rushing into things, so they talked about the weather, and the book exchange, which Anka was super invested in. She told them about the books she’d gotten from there for, like, the past ten years. Finally, she put them out of their misery and started the conversation they’d come here to have.
“I was a young bride,” she said, cradling her mug between her hands. “It was a nice day, so I did the washing and hung everything up outside to dry.”
Hanta and Taq shared a look, wondering if this was some random memory.
“When I got back from visiting my ananna, I could see, as I approached the house, that the clotheslines were empty. Completely empty. Not a stitch! My first thought was that my husband, Wes, had taken things down, and wasn’t that considerate?” She laughed. “I told you: I was a new bride. If you’d known my late husband, you’d know how unlikely that was.”
She shook her head, a look of surprise on her face, as if it had just happened. “I looked all around. The side yard. Inside the house. Even in the trash can. But the clothes were gone.”
“It was the Qimmiq?” Taq broke in, too excited to wait.
She made a face. “Yes. But I didn’t know that at the time. Not until I talked to my neighbor. You see, when I lived with my mother and father, we were in the middle of the village, and we’d never had our clothes stolen like that. So it was a shock to me.” She sipped her tea.
“My husband was angry at them. But me, I was more curious. The load of clothes they took had all been mine. Why did they take my things? I wondered: was there some girl in their community who was my size, and who needed things to wear? I had a picture of her in my mind, you know? Living in the mountains like they do, with next to nothing. I felt sorry for her.”
Anka picked up a cookie and chewed thoughtfully.
“Yeah,” Hanta said. “I can see that. It’s a lot less cute when they steal ATVs.”
She ignored him. “I decided, instead of them stealing my things, I should just give clothes to them. That way, I could feel better thinking about that girl. And maybe they would leave my favorite clothes alone.
“So I found some things I didn’t wear anymore. And I went around and asked others in the village too. I made a bag for her. I put it out with a note. A few days later, the bag was gone.” She shrugged. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Anka looked to be in her 60s. If she’d been a young bride when she’d started, that was a long-ass time. Taq thought he knew everything that went on in the village. But clearly, he did not. He wondered if Grammy knew. And, if she did, what she thought about it.
“How often do you put stuff out?” Taq asked.
“When I can. A few times a year. They only come at certain times, you know. In the spring, when they can first get down from the mountains after the snow. And in the fall, to store up for winter.”
“Do you know where they live?” Hanta asked. “Their village or cabin or whatever? Where is it?”
Anka gave him a wary look. “No. I don’t know. Why are you two so interested in the Qimmiq, anyway? Did they take something of yours? You won’t get it back, you know.”
“Just curious,” Hanta said in a voice that was too dismissive. He was a shitty liar.
Anka grunted. “They haven’t touched the things I left for them this spring. Or last fall either. I don’t think they’ve been around.” She looked off into the distance. “I worry about them. Something’s changed, but I don’t know what.”
“You mean besides them? Changing, I mean,” Taq said. Subtlety was not his strong suit.
Anka gave him a shrewd look—like she knew everything and Taq knew nothing. “You’ve got secrets, Taq Geela.”
A little shock went through him. Not because she knew his name. It was a small enough village that everyone knew everyone. But for a moment, an illogical side of his brain thought she meant that secret. The one not even Hanta knew. But, of course, she was talking about the Qimmiq.
Taq looked at Hanta and he gave a little nod. Then he nudged Taq with his elbow for good measure. Go on. Tell her.
Taq cleared his throat. “So, you know the legend of the Qimmiq? The dogs that once lived with the people and were able to change into humans? Well… I saw it today. This morning. I saw two guys shift into dogs down at the fjord.”
Anka studied him with a gleam of satisfaction in her eyes. He waited, not saying more.
She reached out and patted his hand. “Thank God. It was getting tiresome being the only one who knew.”
About the Author
Coming from a background in computer game design, Eli has written over 50 books in m/m romance since 2013.
The Mating of Michael (2014) and A Second Harvest (2016) both won The William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance, and Eli’s books have won many awards from the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Reader’s Choice Awards.
She is best known for her Christmas romances, the Howl at the Moon series of rom coms featuring dog shifters, and the Nerds Vs Jocks series, co-written with Tara Lain.
Facebook: Eli Easton
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To celebrate the release of The Best Gift, Eli’s giving you a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card & an e-set of the whole Howl at the Moon Series so far.
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