I was born just before Halloween in a suburb of Detroit. My parents were typical, working class blue collar folks who had a 3 bedroom tri-level and a small mutt named Scottie. I grew up in a small town sandwiched between bigger ones, that were fairly homogenous and very boring. Over the years, this area has become increasingly more diverse, Detroit has shrunk and grown and shrunk and grown, and I live just twenty minutes from the house I grew up in. Whenever I think about moving, its never very far from here. Not just because of family, but because its home in a way that other places can’t be. There are prettier, more exciting, interesting locations that would be life-changing, but I know I’d never settle in. I’d always be wondering when I’d go back home.
2- what can we expect from you in the future?
A lot of new and exciting things happening in 2021 and into 2022! I have sequels coming out for both my Galactic Breeding Program series, which is sci-fi erotic romance with a fairy tale twist, and books three and four of the Lear Brothers series, a contemporary erotic romance set in rural Kentucky. Into the Woods is book one, releasing August 27! September you will see book two, and book three by the end of the year. Also, 2022 I’ll be busy with the Havoc Security Series, a six-book series centered around the sexy, dominating men of Havoc Security and the love they find living in a small Pennsylvania suburb after years in the military. All releasing with Changeling Press!
3- how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was in fourth grade! It started with short stories, one about a ten year old girl who turns into a praying mantis. Then I moved into New Kids on the Block sexy fan fiction. Those stories, gratefully, never saw the light of day. After getting my degree in English and Film from Wayne State University in Detroit, I worked in politics and government for the next fifteen years. When I left my job to stay home with my kids in 2012, I decide that writing for myself was good enough anymore – that I wanted to publish. I pitched a couple series at Savvy Authors pitch-fests and ended up releasing three books before signing on with Changeling Press. So grateful for the opportunity to get my work out there, improve myself as a writer with the help of editors and proofers, and can’t wait to continue on this journey to make more of my ideas and characters to life!
4- what are you currently reading?
My tastes in books and genres goes through phases – sometimes I get on a New Adult romance kick, sometimes its True Crime and nonfiction, other times its dystopian novels. Some of my favorite romance authors are Kristen Ashley, Madison Faye, Jessa Kane, and Melanie Harlow. The best true crime books I’ve ever read are Helter Skelter, about the Manson family, In Cold Blood, and The Only Living Witness. I also always recommend the book Five Days at Memorial about a hospital flooded right after Katrina. My dystopian taste ranges from classics by Kurt Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, and Margaret Atwood, to recent offerings such as The Hunger Games, Insurgent and Station Eleven. I’ve just downloaded a new Alexa Riley book onto my kindle and picked up 11/22/63 by Stephen King in hardcover.
5- tell us about a favorite character from a book.
I gravitate toward romance books that follow the same kind of pattern and character personalities. Some may call that boring or predictable, but I like what I like. And clearly other people like it too or there wouldn’t be any out there to read! I enjoy plucky, resilient female characters that aren’t jaded or bitchy but rather unsure and need to their strength proven to them over the course of the story. I enjoy watched a heroine come into her own over the course of the novel. And I like men that are assertive and possessive, but work hard to earn the love and respect of the love of their life. Its important to see characters change over the arc of the story – not just jump in as is, fall in love and then see the words ‘The End’. Sites like Book Bub, book + main, Girls’ Night In and Book Riot have great subgenres that include recommendations for books that have just what you’re in the mood for. I always recommend signing up for newsletters – even if you don’t always read the books they suggest, they remind you that you’re not spending enough time trapped in the pages of a good book!
Into the Woods Lear Brothers Book 1 by ML Uberti Genre: Contemporary Romance, Organized Crime
When Juliet goes into the woods to find the sexy, mysterious stranger who rescued her from a mountain lion attack, she finds more than she bargained for. Deacon’s far more dangerous than the Kentucky wildlife. As she tries to fight her feelings for Deacon, she learns more about his family and their legacy of crime.
But Deacon’s an addiction she can’t escape, and every day Juliet falls harder for him. Only his family, the woods that are determined to kill her, and Deacon himself stand in the way of her quest to capture her bad boy’s heart.
“Great-Grandma Lynnie called,” my mom began as we all settled down for dinner — me, my dad, my twin thirteen-year-old brothers who were both texting on their phones, my cousin Halsey who showed up here for dinner most nights, and our giant schnauzer Eli, whose head was set right beside my dad’s plate, his back end wagging in anticipation.
I grabbed a bowl of meatballs and then stopped, realizing my mom’s eyes were on mine — and so were everyone else’s.
“Okaaay.” I let the word drag out, blinking at my parents.
Mom glancing at my dad and then back at me. “She’s home from the surgery but having some trouble getting around.”
My stomach dropped. I knew in an instant what was next.
“It would only be a couple weeks, Jules,” my dad assured me, but the rock had already settled hard in my gut.
My brother Aiden looked up at me and snickered, then went back to his phone. Halsey patted my hand sympathetically. Owen pumped his fist in the air as he won the next level on his iPhone game. “I think a change of scenery is just what you need right now,” my mom said with a firm nod of her head.
She probably wasn’t wrong, but that determined look on her face meant I had no chance in hell of talking her out of this. Grandma Lynnie was the stereotypical old lady they portray in horror movies complete with a cane, a lace shawl, and as mean as she was scary. Nothing was ever clean enough, or worked well, or brought her any joy at all. Everything was too loud, or brash, or busy. I don’t think the woman had ever seen a computer. She didn’t have a microwave. She hung all her clothes out on a line. She hadn’t driven since the ‘90’s.
Our visits to the small mountain town of Kentucky where she lived consisted of staying at my mom’s sister’s house, going over for two hour bursts of time to my mom’s Grandma Lynnie and getting lectured about all the ills of the world while my dad was forced to fix something and my brothers and I had to sit quietly or wash the floors. It was exhausting.
And now, now I’d be staying there? No, my mom couldn’t be that cruel.
“Isn’t grandma helping her?” Halsey waded in, tilting her eyes to me hopefully.
“Grandma’s got a trip planned to Scottsdale with her Zumba class and Aunt Jen’s dealing with Meghan’s twins,” my mom answered, and the dread sank deep into my bones. I was going to stay with Great-Grandma Lynnie. There was no way around it.
“Jules –” my dad called for my attention and I looked over at him. “I think this is good for you right now.”
He meant right now because my boyfriend Mike had just gotten busted for growing and selling weed out of his dad’s basement and my parents had flipped their fucking lids. Weed was legal medicinally. That’s not how Mike had been selling it, of course, and my parents seemed to think that his crimes were akin to murder.
They’d made me break up with him — even though I was nineteen and had kind of wanted to do it anyway. Then forbade me from talking to him while he was incarcerated at the county jail. And now — now, Grandma Lynnie.
It’s not like Mike had been the love of my life or anything — he was really just fun and handsome. And when you’re fifteen, that’s all that matters. We’d been going out, off and on, for four years and now he was in the clink and I was on my way to hell.
Dramatic? Maybe. But Grandma Lynnie and her six cats was not the summer I’d been expecting — and it seemed I had no choice.
A fragment of sun shone down through the thick canopy above, and as my eye scanned the woods, I didn’t see anything. Then a figure moved closer and my eyes tracked the smooth gait of a giant mountain lion that had its eyes — and teeth — pointed squarely in my direction.
“Oh fuck,” I whispered to myself, all the blood draining from my face and my stomach filling with acid. It wasn’t far — not that close but I didn’t think I could outrun it. And if I could, it was standing between me and the direction I was supposed to go in. Which meant I would end up deeper in the woods.
I swallowed hard, wondering how long it had been since I had climbed a tree, and felt myself start to shake as the massive cat stalked slowly toward me.
“Please.” My voice broke as I shuffled back, pleading with an animal that didn’t speak English to, I don’t know, abandon its instinctive nature and decide to take a walk through the wood and find a little bunny to feast on. Or Murray! I’d sacrifice that little asshole to save myself. In a heartbeat.
Maybe that made me a bad person. Maybe that’s why I was going to die — because I was the kind of girl who would give up a three-legged cat to a mountain lion to save her own skin. But, logically, once the lion got done with me, it would probably eat Murray for dessert. So better one of us got out of this alive.
I glanced behind me, seeing nothing but trees and decided I’d rather run than stand here and become a Lion Lunchable, so I twisted on the ball of my foot and took off. I wasn’t very fast even though I had run track in high school all four years — and the mountain lion seemingly liked to chase.
I heard its huge paws hit the ground running as I did, so I zigzagged thinking I could outsmart it. But the pounding of his steps got closer and I was sure I was going to die — and I hadn’t brought in the laundry yet.
Suddenly, I was off my feet and flying through the air, my body moved without my own volition and shoved behind a tree as a hulking figure stepped out and directly into the path of my attacker.
“Go on, get!” the man in the woods yelled, staring down the mountain lion and advancing toward it like he wanted to die.
“Don’t!” I whispered and tried to pull the man back as I got a handful of his shirt.
He pinned me with a dark green gaze and barked one word. “Stay.” Then he moved closer to the lion.
“Git! Go!” the man repeated, his arms up high as he squared off against the two-hundred-pound beast. “Go!” the man thundered and the lion actually retreated, looking around then backing up further.
“Git outta here now, go on home,” the man snarled and the lion, like it understood him, turned slowly on its feet and sauntered off in the other direction.
I blinked, mesmerized as the predator just changed its mind and meandered off casually, not a care in the world. Was this man in the tight gray shirt and perfectly worn jeans some kind of wizard?
Probably not, I thought. My stare flicked to his face as he bore down on me, as big and scary as the lion was — but decidedly more pissed off.
I gathered Murray in my arms and muttered a thank you, my manners be damned.
“You know how to get the hell out of here?” the man barked, still glaring at me.
I glanced around, chewing my bottom lip. “Uh, maybe? I uh, came in from off Bell Avenue. Near Twenty-Ninth Street.”
He let out a loud sigh, skirted passed me and then started stomping through the trees. “This way,” he gritted out, then kept walking.
I scrambled to follow, cursing out Murray as we went. “Little asshole. This is all your fault. I hate Grandma’s house too, but that doesn’t mean you can just leave any time you want. And what were you gonna do when it got dark, huh? Find your way back? You would’ve been lion feed if I hadn’t come along and then you got me in trouble with this guy and I swear to God if Grandma Lynnie says one damn word about the laundry I’m not giving you any treats again. Ever.”
We tromped over branches and leaves, dodging logs in our path until we reached near the end of the forest, directly at the road I had entered that was a dead end to the wood.
“Thank you, for uh, saving my life and then, saving my life again.” I nodded my head toward the street, hiking Murray up higher in my arms.
His gaze was trained on the pavement in front of us, before he focused on the cat. “Keep that cat out of here. There’s more than one lion. Coyotes. Bears. He won’t survive more than an hour.”
“Bears?” I blinked up at the guy, and saw a whisper of a smile.
“It’s Kentucky, there’s all kind of dangerous shit around these parts,” he told me in a severe tone.
Excerpt from Into the Woods (Lear Brothers 1) by ML Uberti. Copyright 2021. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
Starbucks aficionado, lover of throw blankets and betrayer of all things kale, ML Uberti is a Wayne State University graduate and Metro Detroit author with a predilection for oddities and happy endings. She is mom to three autistic kids, 2 ridiculously stupid dogs and wife of a teacher and musician who has endless patience for her impeccably bad taste in Netflix shows and murder documentaries. She is thrilled to dip her toe into scifi romance from contemporary and hopes you enjoy her big, brooding alien alphas and resilient fairy tale queens.