The romance community has always struck me as a very generous place. One of the benefits of writing for so long before I was published is that I made a lot of friends on the way through. These are friends who helped me through the tough times and now are ready to celebrate that glorious moment when my first book steps into the world. But the warmth Iíve experienced in recent months goes beyond even that. Itís been truly incredible.
So never imagine that the author doesnít appreciate it if youíve taken the trouble to say something nice. This one certainly does! And every writer I know feels exactly the same. All I can do now is repeat myself and say THANK YOU!
::June 2007 - Bad luck that really wasnít so bad after allÖ
Iíve just come home from a couple of days in Melbourne, Australiaís greatest shopping city and the cultural capital of the country. Do I sound a bit flat about my jaunt? Well, yes, I do. Because as I caught a taxi from the train station, I fell over and sprained my ankle. An hour before I was meant to present a workshop on deep point of view and emotional punch. The emotional punch of all that pain was certainly making itself felt by the time I finished my talk!
So instead of swanning around Swanston Street shopping and checking out bookshops and doing all the other lovely things I meant to do when I was away, I spent most of my three days holed up in my hotel room with an icepack on my technicolor foot.
The upside of all this (yes, there was an upside) is that I had two romances with me by authors Iíd never read before. And they were both fabulous. Isnít it wonderful when you come across a writer you really like but have never read before and you have all that yummy back list to explore? That definitely counts as one of my favorite things.
The first was AND THEN HE KISSED HER by Laura Lee Guhrke. This book has had fantastic reviews all over the place and Iím not surprised. It was just such fun to read. Really lovely characters, a nice story, wonderful writing. The sort of book you read with a smile on your face. Itís set in 1893 and the heroine is a secretary and the hero runs a newspaper. That in itself made it refreshing. I love Regencies, donít get me wrong. But it was great to read a convincing, heartfelt, charming romance set in a period other than the Regency. It was great to see the characters using typewriters and telephones and dealing with shirtwaists rather than pelisses. If you want a book that leaves you with a nice satisfied sigh (and why would you not?), I highly recommend this one.
::July 2007: Anticipation - Is It the Best Part of Travel?
Firstly, I hope you donít mind the pictures of Scotland. Itís just Iím going to be there in a few weeks and because I love it so much, I thought Iíd steal an opportunity to share some of the gorgeous landscape with you.
I love to travel as anyone who calls in on this site regularly knows. Right now, because Iím writing this column well ahead of its appearance, Iím in the middle of getting ready to leave for a trip to the United Kingdom and the United States (and I suspect somewhere there Iíll be flying United Airlines!).
Itís wonderful discovering lovely new places in foreign climes. Or returning to old favorites, which Iím doing a lot this time. London, York, Edinburgh, Morar on the west coast of Scotland. Canít wait.
But strangely my experience when I travel is that one of the best bits is the time before I go. Itís all in the anticipation! When I imagine myself swanning around overseas places, itís all so easy. Iím not worried about getting my laundry done or struggling with a heavy suitcase or dealing with surly locals or with public transport thatís late or fails to arrive all together. Iím not stressing over finding where I catch the bus or where Iím staying for the night or where Iím going to have dinner. I donít even particularly worry about the horror flight from Australia although Iíve done it often enough to know I donít cope with the long haul journey very well at all.
Instead, Iím picturing what gorgeous places Iím going to see. Everything is glamorous in my imagination. My clothes are always clean and ironed. The weather is always perfect. The scones are always feather light and the jam is always homemade. The locals are always smiling and welcoming and full of charm and fascinating stories. Mind you, that last bit often does come true, Iíve found. Nearly all the people I meet when I travel are lovely and welcoming.
Iíll arrive home in six weeks tired and over-stimulated and full of wonderful memories. And absolutely delighted that I can stay in one place for a while. Until the next time my itchy feet start to make themselves feltÖ
May all your travel be as wonderful as you hope it will be when youíre anticipating the journey.
::August 2007 - Itís the Chalice from the Palace in DalliceÖ
Or perhaps itís the Challas from the Pallas in Dallas?
Had a fantastic time in Dallas as Iím sure anyone who reads the Latest News section this month realizes. This was my second visit to RWA Nationals although in many ways I consider it my first. Last year in Atlanta, I had some awful stomach bug and I wasnít operating on all cylinders. As they say down here, I was definitely a kangaroo short in the top paddock! But I was ready for Dallas! And how!
Itís always wonderful to catch up with people I usually only interact with via email. Thank goodness for the Internet Ė otherwise weíd go all 19th century and have to write to each other via snail mail! The group of people who finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart (the Packers Ė í06 Packers, geddit?) are such a fantastic bunch of women and I seemed to run into them everywhere so I was immediately amongst friends. Wonderful too to catch up with my fellow Avon authors who I met last year and also meet new friends like Elizabeth Boyle and Toni Blake and Sylvia Day. Avon always put on a wonderful dinner for their authors and this year we went to this amazing Art Deco palace called the Hotel Zaza. I felt like a movie star there! If you want to see how some of the Avon ladies scrub up, I put a photo of me with Toni Blake and the lovely Terri Garey on the contests page this month.
With fabulous YA author Tina Ferraro, photo courtesy of Tina.
At the 2006 Packers dinner (last year's Golden Heart finalists), Landry's Restaurant, Dallas, July 2007, photo courtesy of Anna Sugden.
::October 2007 - The Fridge of Inspiration!
Recently, an Aussie writing friend of mine Tracey O'Hara, who is blitzing the contest circuit with her marvelous paranormal "Night's Cold Kiss" (and ain't that a great title?), sent me a photo of her Fridge of Inspiration. You can see it below.
Isn't it great? Covers for books by writers she knows who have been published recently, including, I'm delighted to say, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN and UNTOUCHED. A list of to-dos. Postcards. Just the ticket to bust any onset of the writing blues which we all get now and then when our characters aren't behaving or our plot sags like elastic made in 1920 and washed too much since.
The whole shebang started with a great cocktail party with a Venetian Carnevale theme. Some of the costumes were amazing. It's always so wonderful every year to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I just wish the conference went for a week instead of just a weekend. Actually, I'm not sure if I do. I'm not sure I've got the stamina! Or the head for all the champagne that seems to flow at these things.
Congratulations go to Kate Cuthbert, a tireless supporter of romance through her journalism and advocacy. She won the ROMA (Romance and Media Award) at the conference dinner. And congratulations also to Anne Oliver who won the R*BY (Romance Book of the Year Award) for shorter romance with her Sexy Sensation BEHIND CLOSED DOORS (a debut book, fantastic!) and to Karina Bliss who won the R*BY for longer books with MR. IMPERFECT (another debut - what's in the water down here?). Also congratulations to double Golden Heart finalist Mel Scott who won the Emerald Award for a single title unpublished manuscript with "The Wolf Within" and my friend Rachel Robinson who won the category section of the Emerald with "Coveting the Boss." This is Rachel's second Emerald in a row - she won the single title section last year with "You Don't Gnome Me." Call me psychic but I think there might be a call in the offing for you soon, Rachel!
My fantastic critique partner Annie West and I did a workshop on Unleash the Alpha Hero! It was a lot of fun with some surprising people unleashing some wild men in the bits they read out in class. Especially loved the alpha who flung the heroine over his shoulder and marched her up the staircase! Wow! We gave out a lot of chocolate which I think did no harm to the atmosphere! Thanks to everyone who came along and joined in with such gusto!
Already looking forward to next year when we'll be at the Langham in Melbourne kicking up our romantic heels!
(L-R): Annie West, Amy Andrews and Anna Campbell at the awards dinner in Sydney (photo courtesy of Amy Andrews).
Then I realized that I too have a fridge of inspiration, although mine is a horrible flower painting covered with bits and pieces of inspiration. Not nearly so catchy as a title, is it? It sits right in front of my computer screen so when I look up, seeking to catch that stray thought that's doing its best to escape, the FPOI (flower painting of inspiration? Although the point is that I can no longer see the flower painting!) comes into view.
It's messy, it's crowded and it never fails to make me feel good. I've got invitations to lovely events like afternoon tea with Jane Porter at RWA Nationals in Atlanta. I was so touched she asked me because she didn't know me from a bar of soap but she heard I was coming all the way from Australia and she thought I'd like to meet some people in a more intimate setting. I've got lovely notes people sent me when CTC was published (what a lovely day that was). I've got postcards featuring covers for my friends' books. I have a Bandita mask which makes me think of the marvelous women in the Romance Bandits and how much their friendship has meant to me since the 2006 Golden Heart finalists were announced.
I have postcards of lovely places both in Australia and overseas that make me think of travel and also the good friends who sent them. I have postcards I picked up myself when I travelled so I can remember some of the wonderful places I've seen. I have a beautiful card from Calgary on the Isle of Mull (completely deserted although the huge city in Canada was named after it by a homesick Scot). It looks gorgeous with glassy water and white sands and a soft blue Scottish sky.
These are only a couple of things on the FPOI. Everything on that board reminds me of something I love. So after I spend a few moments looking at it, I go back to my work refreshed and feeling like the world is a better place. I wish you all a Flower Painting of Inspiration!
Undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite things is an Australian romance writers conference. And I'm not long back from "A Darling Affair" which was held at Darling Harbour (title's a joke - geddit?) in Sydney from 10th to 12th August.
This year, we had fantabulous international guests. Jennifer Crusie did a whole day workshop on structure that was so inspiring. And even more exciting for me because I've been a fan girl forever was that she brought her great friend Anne Stuart with her. I actually got to be on a panel with Anne Stuart - talk about a surreal moment. I wouldn't even say dream come true because I don't think it ever occurred to me that something like that would happen. Sheila Hodgson from Mills & Boon in Richmond visited, as did Terry McLaughlin from California who writes for Harlequin.
Because I've been working on finishing a book, I haven't done an enormous amount of reading lately. I've promised myself a real binge over Christmas - do you hear that, Santa? That's what I want! Hours and hours to scale the TBR pile! But in recent weeks, I have managed to pick up three great books that I'd love to share with you.
The first is Jane Porter's wonderful FLIRTING WITH FORTY (5 Spot). I've long been an admirer of Jane's Harlequin Presents. They're rip-snorting, rootling-tootling, "can't put down until you reach the end" reads full of high stakes drama and emotion. Recently Jane has branched out into women's fiction. FLIRTING WITH FORTY describes Jackie's post-divorce life which takes some turns our heroine never expected, including falling in love with a surfing instructor who lives across the Pacific Ocean and is ten years younger than she is. The story is so painfully real and moving, I found myself crying and laughing and cheering for Jackie. It's a wonderful romance full of genuine conflict and adult emotions but it touched my heart for other reasons too. Jackie's relationship with her children. Jackie's struggles to come to terms with herself as a single woman. Jackie's friendships which inevitably change now she's undergone the seismic change of a divorce. Really, it's a great read, grab this book! I'm not surprised that Lifetime TV is making a movie of it. Now the interesting part is to see who gets to play yummy Kai, the surf instructor. He is one delish hero!
The next book is THE RULES OF GENTILITY by Janet Mullany (Avon). This is Bridget Jones in the Regency and it's hilarious and fresh and almighty fun. I made the mistake of starting to read this on a long train journey and made an awful fool of myself snorting behind the pages. A lot of it is laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are just so endearing, the story is so sparkling. The hero Inigo is to die for. The heroine Philomena Wellesley-Clegg (not THOSE Wellesleys which is a running joke) is a darling and a delight. Honestly, if you want a book that's going to put a smile on your face, pick this up. You won't be sorry. And make sure you read the bits at the end, including the lines you will NEVER see in a Regency historical.
A GRAND PASSION by Anne De Lisle is, as far as I know, only available in Australia and New Zealand, although you can order it here. I recently joined Anne on a panel at the Brisbane Writers Festival and as a result, read her book. It's officially a memoir but more than that, it's a romance between a woman and a ruined old house that needs love and dedication to restore it to its true magnificence, and between a woman and the man she eventually marries. The story is so true and touching, full of the twists and turns and rewards and disappointments of real life. And in the end, it's a triumph as beautiful old colonial manor Baddow House (widely rumored to be haunted) returns to its full glory and in the process Anne restores her own life to joy and purpose and love. I strongly recommend this book!
::December 2007 - Happy Talk (To Continue the Rodgers and Hammerstein Theme!)
On Friday, 23rd November, my friend Susan Parisi, brilliant author of that gripping thriller BLOOD OF DREAMS, and I turned up at Caloundra library to talk about writing the dark historical novel. Susan, who lives in Sydney was up on holiday with her husband, and had done all the organizing for this while I was tied up finishing TEMPT THE DEVIL. Bless her!
It was the first time we'd done a joint session. I wondered how we'd go. We're good friends but our books are very different. CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, as you know, is a passionate romance. Susan's book is a dark and disturbing and very sexy literary thriller set in 18th century Venice at the time of Carnevale. A fabulous read! And while it's very sensual, it's not at all a traditional romance, even though its full of a compelling, doomed romanticism.
We had a really good turnout - the session was booked out. I'd managed to drum up a bit of local press coverage and that helped too. It was great to meet people who read romance and people who didn't so I had a chance to convert them to the dark side <g>. The library had gone to a lot of trouble, including setting up a wonderful morning tea out in the courtyard. Simone and all the people at Caloundra library were amazingly welcoming and an absolute pleasure to deal with so I'd like to thank them!
I'm delighted to say I think everyone there really enjoyed our talk. And the contrast between our writing added to the interest. When people asked questions - and so many of them did which was great - we had such a variety of approaches to each answer. People were interested in so many aspects of our books - our inspirations (Susan's book was born in a really vivid nightmare she had), our publishing history (BOD is Susan's first book, CTC would have to be about my 14th, unless you count the half-finished stumps under the bed), being published first in Australia or published first in America, research, new projects. We had a lively discussion on the lure of the dark side. Susan mentioned Lord Byron. I talked about the way I've always loved fairytales and the darker the better. Yet again, such an interesting contrast between us.
I wish you could have been there! It was huge fun. I hope we get to do it again some time. I've done presentations with fellow romance writers before but it was a really different experience to speak along with a literary fiction author to a group of people who weren't dedicated romance readers.
(L-R): Susan Parisi, Anna Campbell and Simone Martin of Caloundra City Libraries at the talk about writing the dark historical on Friday, 23rd November.
With 2006 Golden Heart finalist Jeanne Pickering Adams.
Anna Campbell with Fanlit buddy Gillian Layne, photo courtesy of Gillian.
Other highlights? Having breakfast with the fabulous Jane Porter who is a regular visitor to Australia. Meeting the gorgeous and gracious Lisa Kleypas who the next time I ran into her, came to my rescue in a make-up emergency before Romance Novel TV interviewed me. Iíll let you know when the videos are up on the site Ė pretty daunting for a girl who hadnít done an interview before. But Kim and Marisa are so lovely, I soon relaxed and it was like talking to old friends. Having breakfast at an IHOP with Kathryn Smith and Adele Ashworth. Those chocolate chip pancakes should be on the register of national treasures! Seeing so many people from the Avon Fanlit contest. Weíd developed a real bond during the competition and it was fantastic to meet so many of them. Meeting the Romance Vagabonds who are a great bunch. Eating Tim Tams and drinking champagne into the small hours after the awards ceremony with the witty, wonderful Sabrina Jeffries and the lovely Packer Caren Crane and brilliant Michelle Buonfiglio from Romance by the Blog and the fabulous Sybil from The Good, the Bad and the Unread. Not to mention Claudia Dain who looked like a movie star in a velvet dress with feathers and hilarious Deb Marlowe, who it turns out is a fellow Kate Bush fan. Now thatís one party that Iím sorry I didnít have my camera for!
Goodness, this is turning into a name dropping bonanza. And Iím running out of adjectives. I swear if I use Ďwonderfulí once more, the adjective police will lock me up and throw away the key. And then I wouldnít be able to make the conference in San Francisco in 2008!
(L-R): RWAustralia President Anne Gracie, historical author Alison Stuart and Anna Campbell at the Venetian Masquerade in Sydney (photo courtesy of Alison Stuart).
Do you re-read? I do. I have a stash of books that count as my sanctuary when the world just gets a bit much. Re-reading them is like getting a hug from someone you love. I mentioned a few of these in my top 11 x 2. A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS, LORD OF SCOUNDRELS, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. But actually, thatís not the kind of re-reading I want to talk about this month.
Recently at a secondhand bookshop, I picked up CLOUDS OF WITNESS, one of the early Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. Iíve been gradually collecting these books secondhand and finding them has become a challenge for me as theyíre so good, hardly anybody ever swaps them in. It was a really nice edition, too, with a very striking photo on the cover of a 1920s lady in a black velvet dress with her back turned to the viewer.
At one stage in my life, I was obsessed with these books and used to hound my local library to get them in for me. So Iíve read all the Peter Wimsey mysteries before but a long time ago. Theyíre elegant and witty and absolutely exquisitely written. I must admit that mostly it was the charismatic central figure of Lord Peter that kept me so fascinated but the plots are beautifully worked out and full of wonderful 1920s and 1930s detail. And itís such fun to live the high life with new Daimlers and old burgundies and assorted other luxuries available to a Dukeís son in the years following the First World War. These books are just so glamorous!
My memory of reading the whole series is that I absolutely adored the later stories
when Peter has fallen in love, seemingly hopelessly, with Harriet Vane after he
proves her innocent of murder and saves her from the gallows. The deep
romanticism and emotion of those stories drew me in so strongly. Because of
that, while I remember enjoying the earlier books, they had faded from my
recollection a little. But the other day, I picked up CLOUDS OF WITNESS and
started to read it. I had no particular expectations. I hardly recalled the story
at all. And it was just such a delight. The murder plot was clever, Lord Peter
was charming and fascinating and facetious and just so incredibly himself,
the supporting cast was full of British eccentrics and sinister fellows with
shady pasts and willowy 1920s damsels in shantung silk evening gowns.
It reminded me that my bookcases are full of books that I loved when I read them but I havenít picked up since. Iím sure there are equally wonderful surprises awaiting among all those volumes that I havenít looked at in so long. At the very least, Iím going to re-read the Peter Wimseys that I havenít touched in nearly twenty years. Like Peterís fine burgundies, they have only improved with age. And like one should with a fine burgundy, Iím going to read them slowly and savor their marvelous richness.
Back in January, I listed some blogs that I love to drop into. As happened with my favorite romances, I quickly ran out of space, so I thought Iíd mention a few more I enjoy reading.
Romancing the Blog - This is always a lucky dip Ė often the articles are relevant, occasionally theyíre not. But I usually stick my nose in to have a look at the topic of the day.
Pub Rants - Iíve never met Kristin Nelson so Iíve no idea if sheís as nice as she sounds but every time I read her posts, itís like having a wonderful giggly conversation with a really smart girlfriend. And she has great insight into books, publishing and writing so whatís not to like?
Christina Phillips - Christina is a really nice romance writer from Western Australia who I met at the Romance Novelistsí Association conference in 2004. Hey, Perth is almost as far away for me as Leicester. Her blog is friendly and funny and well worth a look.
Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels - This site is a hoot. I dare you to read one of their cover rants and not find yourself snickering through the day. Clever, witty, sarcastic and insightful. Great stuff.
Anne McAllister - Anne was a guest at a Romance Writers of Australia conference a few years ago and you couldnít hope to meet a warmer, cleverer, more interesting woman. Her blog has all those qualities and I always enjoy reading it.
Bronwyn Jameson - Bron is a marvellous writer Ė last year she was nominated for three Ritas. Now, thatís something special! Her blog is sweet and funny and has a wonderfully wry Australian flavor that I love.
Avon Romance - This is a great spot to read about new Avon releases and also to hear from the Avon editors.
Fiona Lowe - Another great Aussie author, in this case one who writes Medical romance.
Tote BagsíníBlogs - I blog on this one on an occasional basis so itís more blatant self-promotion, Iím afraid. But itís a great way to find out about a whole stack of writers and Leena gives away some wonderful prizes.
Well, I think thatís enough to keep me (and you) going for a little while. With all these great blogs, how is a girl supposed to get any serious writing done?
I donít think Iím alone when I say I love to read blogs. I go through stages where I donít read many and stages (usually when Iím trying to avoid a work in what I laughably call Ďprogressí) where I read lots and lots. As Iím about to get heavily involved in a new story, I suspect my blogging quota will rise exponentially over the next few months.
These are a few blogs that I call into regularly:
Word Wenches - Some great historical writers talk about anything and everything, but often riff on writing historical romance in a way that really resonates for me.
Miss Snark - Funny, acerbic, controversial, instructive. I love Miss Snark, a New York agent who tells it like it is.
The Ink Spot - Regular readers will know that I really admire Christine Wellsís writing, aside from the fact that sheís an all-round wonderful woman. Her perceptive, thoughtful posts always illuminate my understanding of the Regency and writing.
Squawk Radio - Squawk Radio is just so entertaining. You know youíre in for a good time from the moment you see the dancing chickens in the header.
My Trivialities - A friend of mine started this back on 10th December so heís the new boy on the block. As youíll gather, Philip is a man who takes his culture very seriously but my favorite post so far is about dachshund kitsch. Heís a man who takes his dachshunds very seriously too!
Risky Regencies - Some interesting writers talking about the Regency and the books we love set in that fascinating era. Iíll be a guest blogger here in March so drop by and say hello.
History Hoydens - Some more really interesting Regency stuff. And OK, more shameless self-promotion as Iíll be blogging here in April. What can I say? Iíve got a book coming out and I want to tell people about it!
Oh, dear, this is turning into a tome. Favorite blogs to be continued in a future column!
How To Steal A Million is one of my favorite movies. It never fails to make me smile, silly as it is. But itís that sophisticated silly like a Shakespeare comedy or a Mozart opera that somehow manages to convey more wisdom in five light-hearted minutes than most tragedies deliver in five tedious hours.
Whatís not to like? Itís a heist film but a heist film put together with black satin gloves and the sparkle of a diamond bracelet. So yes, there are twists and turns and an amazing robbery sequence and a final revelation that throws all the preceding events into a different light. But itís all done with the bubble of champagne and the lilt of a waltz set to the verve of the John Williams score.
Audrey Hepburnís dad is the last of a long line of art forgers. When she and her father realize that the myth of the fabulous family art collection is about to explode because theyíve lent a supposedly priceless statue (the Ďmillioní in the title) to an exhibition, she hires burglar Peter OíToole to help her steal it. Sounds a bit banal but honestly, itís all done with such style and panache and grace, it sparkles.
Let me list a few things that are just amazing about this film. The sexual tension between the hero and heroine is palpable. And these clever, witty people banter with dialogue that just makes me want to weep (once Iíve stopped giggling), itís so perfect. This is a love affair not just between two beautiful people, but between two beautiful minds and I just LOVE that. Peter OíToole is just gorgeous Ė heís urbane and charming and has this lovely understated sense of humor that makes you want to take him home. Audrey is gorgeous too and no slacker in the repartee department either. And she gets to wear one of those whacky Givenchy 1960s wardrobes that makes you wish youíd been born a few years earlier. Of course, to wear these amazing clothes with conviction, youíd have to look like Audrey, youíd have to live in Paris and youíd have to be rich and stylish. But a girl can dream!
Iíve never settled down to watch this film without a smile. Iíve never hit the rewind button after this film has finished without a smile. I hope, if you havenít seen it, youíll give it a go because it really does add to the sum total of human happiness. A huge claim for a slight little comedy, but I truly believe that. They donít make films like this any more. Oh, but how I wish they did!
Iíd like to count among my VERY favorite things the messages Iíve had from people contacting me in the lead-up to CLAIMING THE COURTESANís release. Itís so nice to get an email wishing me luck or expressing how excited someone is that my book is about to hit the stands. Iíd also like to mention those of you who have gone public and talked about my story in the most glowing terms.
Thank you so much, guys! Thank you to the people on bulletin boards and review sites and author sites and blog comments and Avon Fanlit and my guestbook. Thank you to everyone who has emailed me and said how much youíre looking forward to reading my book.
What a lovely surprise this has been for me! I thought as a new author, Iíd have to scuttle in and stake my place and hope somebody in the playground would offer to sit with me at lunchtime. You know the horrible new-girl blues? But it hasnít been like that at all. Iíve received a wonderful welcome from readers and writers alike. It really has been one of the nicest things thatís ever happened to me.
The second book was absolutely extraordinary.THE SMOKE THIEF by Shana Abe which Iíd heard of for quite a while, most recently because a few people had suggested it was similar to CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. Having now read it, I donít think thatís true, although any comparisons are flattering for me because this book is fantastic. Itís a Georgian paranormal featuring people who morph into dragons as the main characters which is cool in itself. Iíd actually call it a dark fairytale. Itís beautifully written Ė I kept stopping to re-read passages just to savor the gorgeous prose. Iíll read it again now I know the story just so I can wallow in how Shana Abe puts words together on a page. The atmosphere is compelling and dark and very intense and I loved the two main characters and lived through their conflict with every heartbeat. Thatís something really worth celebrating in a book. If you havenít read this book and you like paranormals or historicals or just breathtakingly beautiful writing, run out and grab THE SMOKE THIEF.
Oh, and the sprained ankle isnít obligatory before you read them!