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This Crumbling Pageant by Patricia Burroughs

Regency England is divided into two worlds, that of the Ordinary that we are familiar with and the one of the Magi, filled with those who are graced with the gifts of the Gods. Persephone Fury is the youngest of a family graced with the gift of music, descendants of the man who originally pulled the Magi world from the Ordinary, to keep them safe. Apart from music that can twine through the soul, Persephone’s magic shifts and twists with shadows, something dark and unfamiliar, too strong and untamed for fine Magi society.

But in a time of unrest, when the old Magi king steps aside in favor of a regent and both lowborn rebels and court Magi frantically try to use the prophecies of Merlin to support their cause, perhaps something a bit dark, a bit wild, is exactly what is needed.

This Crumbling Pageant is an exhilarating blend of court politics, folklore, romance, and mystery- the threads all woven together into one expertly designed tapestry. Persephone is a balanced, intriguing, and honestly fun female protagonist. She is not the prettiest, she is not the tomboy stereotype, instead she is delightfully difficult to pin down and define. The whole Fury family breathes life into the setting, pulling the plot through its paces.

Burroughs has also given us an antagonist we can hate with abandon and a sense of evil that will have you keeping a light on in the evening.

This Crumbling Pageant has a bit of something for everyone. It is a brush of period fantasy with the trappings of a mystery/thriller, a bit of regency romance rolled in for a splash of color and a refreshing light flavor.  It is a brilliantly unique and enthralling read.  Highly recommended.

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Forbidden Fruit by Anne Aguirre

“I see dead people. Okay, that’s a lie. I hear dead people—on an antique radio…” – ‘Forbidden Fruit’, Anne Aguirre

I have been a happy fan of the Corine Solomon books since I stumbled across a copy of Blue Diablo (book one).  They are fantastic, and fun, and full of incredible characters. Shannon and Jesse are two of those very fantastic characters, and I was ecstatic to see Ms. Aguirre write a story set between two of the main books of the series dedicated to the two of them.

The two of them as they deal with some magically inflicted amnesia, some rather delightfully raunchy feelings for each other, and some intrusive demons.

If you have read the series, do NOT miss this delectable little tidbit. If you are unfamiliar with Ann Aquirre or the Corine Solomon books, go grab a copy of Blue Diablo. But…don’t start reading if you have somewhere to be the next day. Ms. Aguirre’s books are damn hard to put down.

What Sweet Music They Make by Nerine Dorman

Terisa is a talented musician with the misfortune of having walked in on her boyfriend and best friend enjoying each other behind her back. She also has the misfortune of attracting the attention of some powerful vampire Lords due to her talent, a spark of potential that hovers around her.

Severin is ordered to play an engagement party by the vampire to whom he owes fealty, and in the process cunning manipulated into Terisa’s path. Their mutual enthrallment is immediate and inescapable, and Severin has to decide whether to abide by vampire politics or his own heart.

‘What Sweet Music They Make’ is a vampire story, but above and beyond that it is a praise of music. It revels in the way music can make your blood pump, your feet dance, and your spirit sing. Ms. Dorman’s appreciation for music shines through her writing, weaves through every scene. This is not another vampire novel riddled with the familiar tropes. It is an enthusiastic expedition into the lives and emotions of two individuals who cross paths and find themselves changed by the experience.

Ms. Dorman’s vampires are sleek and dangerous, a wonderful juxtaposition between human and predator and everything I could want from a vampire. ‘What Sweet Music They Make’ was a phenomenal read- I will definitely be seeking out more from this author.

Guest Post- Nerine Dorman

With her new book, What Sweet Music They Make,  coming out from Lyrical Press January 23rd, I invited Nerine to introduce herself and her work.

“The Children of the Night…

One of the most common questions an author is asked is “Where did the idea for this novel come from?” I don’t think I can give a definite answer for What Sweet Music They Make. All I can say is that the story is inextricably bound with my love for music, my stomping ground—Cape Town—and vampires. Of course the title is a conscious nod to the vampire genre, for those in the know, and a bit tongue in cheek, really.

One of the reasons why I wrote What Sweet Music They Make is because I’m tired of reading stories about the high-powered individuals so popular in urban fantasy and paranormal romance nowadays. I continued with what I started in The Namaqualand Book of the Dead, and found characters who were ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances; pawns in others’ games.

Most of my stories take place in Cape Town. It’s a location that will be exotic to most of my foreign readers, but with enough touchstones of the familiar, while for my local readers, they get the thrill of seeing the Mother City through a different lens. I guess it helps that I regularly do travel writing for a newspaper publisher, so I’m glad to generate that sense of excitement to visit new places. My overactive imagination has always wanted to put forward a home town where vampires wander. And trust me, they don’t sparkle. Some of them are hundreds of years old, and are rather devious non-humans. There’s no sucking on blood bags or hunting animals. They might appear civilised on the surface, but they’re still monsters, and have no qualms about killing.

The protagonists in What Sweet Music They Make are Severin and Tersia. Severin is the epitome of new romantic turned vampire, during the early 1980s. A big David Bowie and Bauhaus fan, he has had his prodigious musical talent smothered over the years that he has been in service to his highly arrogant sire. He is little more than a skivvy in vampiric terms but has no idea how to break those bonds.

Tersia, on the other hand, is still mortal, but she has an otherness about her and her musical talent that the elder vampires of the city are keen to exploit. Up until the point where she meets Severin, her life has been rather disappointing, with a bad relationship and a dissatisfying job teaching music at a school. Her only joy thus far has been playing fiddle in an Irish band.

I’ve always had a great love for Irish music. One of my friends used to play fiddle in an Irish band here in Cape Town, and she started teaching my husband to play. We’d regularly go out to the restaurants where they played on Thursdays, and it was amazing seeing how they really livened up the guests. There’s something wild and magical about Irish folk, and the way it always makes one forget about the cares of the world. Also, a recent trip to Ireland definitely whet my appetite.

All in all, What Sweet Music They Make is a way for me to share my love of some of my favourite things with my readers. The story is somewhat bittersweet in places—definitely not your standard paranormal romance—and fits within a larger setting that overlaps with some of my other published works. I always love leaving little Easter eggs for those who’re familiar with my work, and this story is no exception, even though it stands on its own.

Feel free to step into my world. It’s magical. There’s some humour to counterbalance the seriousness, and you’ll meet some fascinating people.”

Nerine is kind enough to offer a copy of  What Sweet Music They Make to a lucky reader. As it is a book about music, comment and let me know what song highlights a landmark moment in your life and how do you feel when you hear it now? Winner will be chosen from the comments- be creative in your responses!

For me, its ‘Lea Halalela’, sung by Khululiwe Sithole/’Shadowland’ (Lion King Musical). We performed this at my high school graduation. It was just…so different than any other choral performance I had been a part of, and it mean’t so much. To all of us. It still makes me smile like a madman and gives me goosebumps when I hear it/sing along now, years and years later.

Useful links:

What Sweet Music They Make in a variety of non-DRM formats: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=484

Nerine’s other titles at Lyrical Press: http://www.lyricalpress.com/store/index.php?main_page=authors&authors_id=107

Writing erotica as Therése von Willegen: http://www.bookstrand.com/therese-von-willegen

Blood and Fire, A recent collaboration with Carrie Clevenger: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-and-Fire-ebook/dp/B006SD3F2S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326463325&sr=1-1

Follow Nerine on Twitter @nerinedorman

Like Nerine’s Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerine-Dorman-author/173330419365374


Spellcast by Barbara Ashford

It is obviously a sign from above that Maggie needs a change of scene when she is not only fired, but the ceiling of her bathroom collapses on top of her while she tries to take a consolatory bath. She packs a bag and leaves New York City for Vermont, intent on finding a Bed and Breakfast. What she finds instead is the Crossroads Theater and its enigmatic director Rowan.

Spellcast is a fairy tale, and like all the best fairy tales it is dark and dangerous, and examines all of the things about ourselves we would rather not look at. It also glimmers with wide eyed wonder and rustles with restless energy. It is impossible to put down.

Ashford’s love of theater is apparent and will touch everyone who has had the luck to walk across the stage, and everyone who has ever wanted to. She captures the camaraderie of the theater perfectly, with all of its dysfunctions and drama. Her descriptions of things I enjoyed so much when I was younger, my time spent engaged in summer theater, tickled a smile onto my face and marched goosebumps down my arms. It was perfect. And I didn’t realize I had enjoyed theater as much as I had, or that I missed it. It is an amazing author that can appeal to memories that are almost 20 years old and get me to recall them so vividly.

And it isn’t just theater. It is family, and friends, relationships and work and all those little and not so little things that fill our lives and make us who we are.

Spellcast can be a very personal read, if you let it. And I encourage you greatly to do so.