Nicki J. Markus
28 October 2016
Heat Level: 1
A family estate falling into ruin. A young woman thrown into an unfamiliar world. Two brothers at odds over their secret. And an ancient malice that threatens destruction and death.
December 1822, Wiltshire, England
When Catherine goes to live with her highborn cousin's family at Brougham Hall, she expects restrictions on her previously free lifestyle and comments on her lack of social grace. What she does not anticipate is the loss of her heart, nor a web of dark family secrets that threaten the safety of everyone in the house.
Vampire twins Hal and James are Lord Grovely's guests. Though close in some respects, the different approach each takes to his vampiric nature puts a strain on their relationship. Having hoped for a pleasurable sojourn, they find themselves drawn into an unfolding drama in which their brotherly bond will be sorely tested.
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Guest Post—Vampire Tropes Revisited
Readers have certain expectations when it comes to vampires in fiction, all of which draw on key works in the genre, from Bram Stoker to Anne Rice to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. In Brougham Hall I employ several of these tropes, the key one of which is the comparison between the vampire who hates his existence and the one who revels in it. Several writers have treated this in different ways, and I hope to add to that literary discussion with my own take on the idea.
Previous writers have considered the difference through the two characters’ love for the same woman, or through one’s great compassion for human life. In my tale, the basis for this discrepancy is far more psychological—for the one who loves his nature as much as the one who detests it—and the reason centres on their shared history. Aspects of the two brothers’ past contribute to their varied attitudes, and I hope that readers will enjoy discovering the reasons behind that over the course of the story. All it not as it first seems between the brothers, in a way that mirrors the dark secrets of Brougham Hall itself.
Hal Carrington attended to the harassed barmaid's directions and then proceeded towards the stairs. The tavern was packed and he supposed he should be grateful for that since it meant his entrance was lost amongst the crush of bodies. Even so, he ensured his great coat concealed his fine clothing and waited until he was certain he was unobserved before making his way to the first floor. He doubted his brother had been as circumspect upon his arrival, but at least the crowds would have offered some protection from unwanted scrutiny.
He reached the door and rapped on the wood. “James, are you in there?”
He waited a moment and then knocked again. When there was still no response, he decided enough was enough and tried the handle. The bolt was shot, but a firm shove splintered the wood and granted him access. The scene that greeted him was one of the kinds he had wished to avoid, yet had anticipated all the same. He cast a quick glance left and right and then entered the room. He pushed the door firmly closed behind him. The last thing they needed was for anyone else to pass along the hallway and see this.
“Hal! I suspected I would see you here before the night was through. You arrive in good time. I saved some for you, brother.” James called the greeting from across the room. He could not stand; the half-naked woman seated on his lap encumbered him.
I first read the book as beta reader and I fell in love with it even when it was diamond-in-the-rough. From the start, the story shone through as a fresh and beautiful image viewed through a lens that wasn't quite focused. I'm pleased to say that the lens was tweaked remarkably well and the story focus is now sharp and defined.
The story combines a few familiar tropes before spinning off in its own unique way. It's a regency romance, a ghost story, a vampire story, a mystery and above all a tale of people who have been forced in directions they didn't want to go, and how the cope, in their very different ways, with circumstances life (and death) has thrust upon them.
The main character, Catherine, in endearing from the start. She's no fainting heroine and her inner commentary is delightful. She's a sparky lady who finds herself in a tricky situation which only gets trickier as the book progresses. Nevertheless she never allows herself to fall apart (quite) and is more likely to meet danger with a weapon in her hand (even if it is only an oil lamp) than a bottle of smelling salts.
As anti heroes the vampires are charming. Two brothers, so very different and very well drawn. One relishes his vampiric nature, is deliciously naughty and somewhat bloodthirsty. The other despises what he has become and is sick of cleaning up his brother's messes. Both are attracted to Catherine for different reasons and her fate hangs in the balance more than once.
All of the supporting characters are well drawn and have an important part to play. I focus on the vampires because they are my favourites but there are a plethora of others to take delight in. Some good; some bad and some decidedly deadly.
This is a fabulous read, with plenty of twists and turns and unexpected events, as well as a delicately drawn peep into regency life that is so well done, that although, as far as I am aware, the historical detail is vivid and correct, there were plenty of times when I forgot the historical setting altogether and was simply present with the characters in the here-and-now.
Author Bio & Links
Nicki J. Markus (aka Asta Idonea) was born in England, but Asnow lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Nicki works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.
I am offering an eBook copy of my MF PNR short story Canção do Amor to two lucky readers. To be in with a chance to win, please comment on this post, telling me your favourite historical period. I will review comments across all participating blogs at the end of the tour and will randomly select the winners, whom I will contact privately by 6 November, as well as announcing them on my FB and Twitter feeds. (Prize value US$0.98 / GB£0.99)