Moonlight Author’s Mystic Mysteries

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

Favorite Heroine: The Bronze Horseman’s Tatiana

I’m excited to kick off another Moonlight and Mystery blog series, this one on each author’s favorite hero or heroine!  In the past, we’ve done a series of posts on settings for our novels and a book that impacted our childhood.  But this is the first time we’ve had to pick favorites!  I’m not going to lie, as an avid reader, it’s tough.  I did a post on my own blog years ago on my favorite fictional couples, and I forced myself to narrow it down to five (note – I had not read The Bronze Horseman yet!).  But one hero OR heroine?  Nearly impossible.

But, since I have to, I’m going with the heroine of a book that made a huge impression on me, a historical romance novel that might not be on romance readers’ radar, since it’s not as well-known as Outlander or Whitney, My Love.  The novel is called The Bronze Horseman, and it only crossed into my To-Be-Read list because Goodreads has a feature that shows novels you might like based on your ratings of novels you’ve read.  The Bronze Horseman popped up as a popular choice for fans of Outlander, Pillars of the Earth, Gone with the Wind, and The Tea Rose…all books I loved. 

 

I’ll admit, I had my doubts when I started the book—WWII-era Leningrad does not have the same romantic flair as, say, the Scottish Highlands of the 18th century, but I am so, so glad I pushed through the opening scene as we meet the family and the Stalin regime announces the Soviet Union is at war.  I was literally captivated by this book.  Entranced.  Every romance author knows that conflict is key, and for a series like this one, multiple, believable conflicts are necessary.  Author Paullina Simons delivers this brilliantly, if painfully (for readers who want these characters to have their HEA).  My heart ached for what the two main characters (and many of the additional characters) had to go through—and the horrors of war are brought to life by the author’s attention to detail and meticulous research.  And yet through it all, a beautiful and poignant love between Tatiana and Alexander grows and endures.

Okay, so that’s a lot about why I loved the book.  What is it about the characters that made them favorites?  I did love the hero Alexander, don’t get me wrong.  Some readers were uncomfortable with some of his behavior early on in the book, when he’s trapped in a love triangle of sorts.  While it wasn’t the most admiral spot for him to be in, I tried to view it through a more favorable lens.  Tatiana was really too young for him at the time, even though he loved her.  He also was trying to do as Tatiana directed, because she wanted Alexander’s current girlfriend to be happy.  Finally, he used the relationship to have frequent contact with Tatiana’s family as the war progressed and supplies grew tight, and it allowed him to bring them all food.

This initial conflict, with Tatiana worrying more about someone else’s happiness than her own, shows right off the bat how selfless she is.  As the borders are closed in an attempt to starve all the inhabitants of Leningrad, Tatiana, the youngest in the family, becomes the strong one, braving brutal cold and dangerous streets daily to find food for her family.  She cares for each of them even while she worries about Alexander fighting at the front.  She bears the load as each person gives up or dies from the cold and lack of nourishment, or the constant bombings.

When it becomes clear her brother may have been injured in a battle, she goes looking for him.  When the hospital fill with wounded and dying, she’s there, volunteering as a nurse.  And lest it sound like she’s too nice, too sweet, we eventually see what she’ll do to save Alexander from behind enemy lines.  Nothing stops her, and the determination and cunning she shows to rescue her love make for an edge-of-your-seat plot-line.  Beyond that, I don’t want to say too much, because, spoilers!  And if I’m making it seem like too depressing a read, well, war is horrific, but remember that it *is* a romance, which means a Happily Ever After (eventually)…and there are some wonderful scenes of joy in simply being alive (and steamy encounters) when Alexander is given leave.

I’d add that the first two books, The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander, are worth the read if you like epic Historical Romance.  The third and last in the series (The Summer Garden) was extremely disappointing to many fans and didn’t seem to fit, as if it had to be tacked on as the final book in the series per a contract.  Although there is an exciting scene at the end, if you’re determined to see the series through!

Have you read these books?  What were your takes on the characters?

 

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

What Can I Say? I Don’t Have One Favorite…

But I do have several favorite authors.

In this second Moonlight and Mystery author post, I’m supposed to share my favorite mystery novel with readers. But here’s my dilemma; I don’t really have an all time favorite. Usually when I read, it’s because I enjoy the writing of a certain author as opposed to the specific content of a story.

There’s another reason why this post is difficult for me; sometimes I have to be in a certain frame of mind to read the books written by some of my favorites. My life is very complicated, as the mom and caregiver of a severely autistic son, and I find as the years go by that more and more I look for books with only a happily ever after ending.

Which is all I seem to be able to write as well. Isn’t that silly? I hate cliffhangers, and I don’t enjoy leaving too much of a mystery for the reader to puzzle about when I finish a story.

Unless it involves a complicated plot involving something like human trafficking and capturing members of the ring, which of course is a struggle if the net is widespread.

I guess what I’ll do is share some of my favorite authors and tell you why I enjoy what they write. So many stories I read these days offer me no surprises and I can usually guess easily who a killer is.

  

Linda Howard is one of my all-time favorites because of the way she manages to interject humor in her romance suspense series. My favorite book from her has got to be OPEN SEASON. I have never laughed so hard and it’s a story about a serial killer! 

https://www.lindahowardbooks.com/

  

Nora Roberts. What can I say? Nora is Nora. I’m not so much into her older stories as I am in her standalones, but she has a few fantasy series which I loved (under her own name), and it’s hard for me to recall the names of the ones I liked best, but at least half of what she’s written was worth reading and sometimes even reading again.

 

Tami Hoag I don’t read as much as Tami Hoag as I used to, because her stories tend to have conclusions that are a little up in the air. But if you want unique stories and lots of surprises, she’s a fantastic author.

 

I used to enjoy Nicolas Sparks too. As a matter of fact, I’ve had some reviewers compare what I write to his novels. But his writing is a little off track these days, apparently because he was recently divorced.

Romance suspense isn’t the only genre I love. I still enjoy reading regency romance. Mary Balogh and Grace Burrowes are two of my favorite authors, and occasionally I read books by Stephanie Laurens as well.

I have hundreds of books on shelves at home. John Grisham, David Baldacci among others I read occasionally.

But my tastes have changed through the years. I used to enjoy the typical romance, but so many plots and storylines have become repetitive. Even with new authors, I tend to see the same plots and storylines; they’re just told in a slightly different way.

I wish I had more time to read. I used to read about 15 novels per week (yes really!!) But since I’ve become an author, something strange has been happening—success!! So not only writing, but promoting, seems to have taken over my life.

 

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

English Inspiration: Mary Stewart & Me

Mary Stewart

As a child I was a voracious reader—and have only slowed lately in order to keep my mind clear for my own murder mysteries (i.e., I can’t multitask). I read everything I could get my hands on—including some that were—in retrospect—inappropriate. Tom Jones and Brideshead Revisited went right over my head. Early favorites were the Oz books, Mary Poppins, and E. Nesbit’s tales of magical adventure. If a book was deemed a “classic” I’d go for it on the assumption that it wouldn’t be a classic if it weren’t good. Except for Dickens, to whom I’ve never cottoned, that rule usually held.

I particularly loved romantic suspense and mysteries, especially British ones—Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and the novels of Mary Stewart (1916-2014). In fact, in my interview for college, I tried to pretend I only read heavy tomes on historical subjects, but somehow the subject of Mary Stewart came up and the professor and I had a marvelous conversation. I learned a lesson about human nature that day. Be honest: everyone else is pretty much in the same boat.

I checked Amazon for a list of Stewart’s books and realized I read all but the last five of her romantic suspense novels plus the Merlin trilogy! From her first, Madam, Will You Talk (1957) to Touch Not the Cat (1976), I devoured them. Mostly set in Europe (Stewart was English), they usually feature an unsuspecting heroine who lands in a puzzling mystery. Along with adventure, you’re assured of a fine romance as well. Some of you may remember the movie The Moonspinners, starring Hayley Mills.

Loch Awe in Scotland

Something else I discovered: Mary Stewart lived on Loch Awe in Scotland—a place I remember fondly. It is a picturesque small loch west of Loch Lomond. The Hotel Ardanaseig—a beautiful 19th century castle—sits on one bank. Its guest quarters are in the Rose Cottage up the lane. We stayed there on the last leg of a trip I took with my family. Imagine my delight to discover that one of Stewart’s mysteries I hadn’t read was entitled Rose

Rose Cottage

Cottage! I finished it yesterday.

 

 

 

Stewart’s books inspired my current approach to writing a story more than any others. Like her, my heroines are feisty, my heroes clever and non-gooey, my settings exotic, and my mysteries cozy.

 

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

Well-loved books

Wow, my fellow Moonlight & Mystery authors have mentioned so many great books. (Note to self—switch my blogging date earlier so they leave me with something to blog about!) I’ll admit to having a bit of a time figuring out which of my favorite books to discuss. When this theme was first brought up, I figured I’d write about Nancy Drew or The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but they’ve already been covered. So I’m going to focus on the book that inspired my love of a particular trope.

Read more “Well-loved books”

Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

A Storyteller Starts with Stories

 

About a third of the books I brought with me from my childhood home.

My first memories of kindergarten are sitting on the floor in a huge room that had windows across a wide expanse on one end, and on another, a fireplace surrounded by what I now know were tiles made by Pewabic Pottery in Detroit. The teacher was seated in the middle of a semi-circle of five year olds who were giving her rapt attention as she read the first book of the Box Car Children series. Later when I read the book to my own grandchildren, I was surprised at how gruesome the story is! The children overheard the baker’s wife saying she was going to keep some of the children to work and the others would go to the orphanage. No wonder we were so insecure growing up!  Read more “A Storyteller Starts with Stories”

childhood book Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

Favorite Book from Childhood was at My Library!

We didn’t have children’s books around the house that I can remember. My parents were avid readers but we were patrons of the library of whatever town we lived in. We borrowed books. Money was tight.

One of my earliest memories is withdrawing a picture book over and over at the library, fascinated with the drawings and the story of a little boy who finds an angel statue come to life in a park. I was probably 5 or 6 when I repeatedly took out this book, the librarian laughing kindly at me. I remember the cover, the watercolor paintings of the park, the angel. Mesmerized describes my state well. And it was more special to me because we had to traipse downtown to the library to see if it was available. If the book wasn’t already at someone else’s house, I could take it out for two weeks. Then I would have to return it. I couldn’t keep it. Read more “Favorite Book from Childhood was at My Library!”

Shadow Castle Moonlight Author's Mystic Mysteries

The First Fairy Tale Should Be the Best by…

My First Post–Happy to Meet You

I’m Sorchia Dubois and I write Gothic and paranormal romance and witchy fantasy, as well as the occasional mystery/thriller. I live in the wilds of Missouri with a bunch of cats, a couple of fish, a dog, and a husband. Writing-wise, I’m just finishing up a trilogy about seductive Scottish witches and how a small town fortuneteller wreaks havoc in a haunted castle.

Read more “The First Fairy Tale Should Be the Best by Sorchia DuBois”

Ghost Stories

Nancy Drew, Where are You?

I blame Nancy Drew for my fascination with mystery and suspense. When I was a kid, I used to pretend to be Nancy Drew and lead my own investigations. For instance, in the “Case of the Chickens Who Didn’t Cross the Road,” our neighbors claimed their chickens remained on their side of the street. But, if that was true, then why was there a large nest with eggs in our empty dog house? After a week of intense dog house surveillance, I was able to say with absolute certainty that those chickens did, indeed, cross the road. And, to this day, the town of Windsor Locks, Connecticut is still stunned by the revelation that cows do eat clothes hanging on the line, jump fences and stand in the middle of the road. Again, it was my investigative work that cracked the “Case of the Wild Cow.” At age thirteen, I wanted to join the FBI, but they weren’t hiring women in those days. Read more “Nancy Drew, Where are You?”