- Release Date
- March 2011
Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance, Historical Romance
Many lifetimes ago, the beautiful May Queen exquisite seduction not with her husband, but in the arms of the Green Man—the passionate ruler of all that is warm and light. And thus began the earth's most torrid love triangle.
Now three women of diverse eras are drawn to the mystical site of the Celtic queen's tragic demise. Their fiery obsession ignited by Beltane Magic is barely perceived, but erotically felt. With each kiss, their passion would break an ancient curse— and reunite a love most profound….
Driven by an unseen force, a Celtic maiden seduces the one man forsaken by law and principle—an Englishman soon for the priesthood….
The future lady of Fairfax House yearns for illicit nights and perfect love in the arms of her betrothed's cousin….
She inherits a decrepit house and garden that awakens in her a raw sexual awareness, the likes of which she can abide alone no longer….
Book Review by Ashia (reviewer)
Apr 19, 2011 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
133 people found the following review helpful
A delightful trio of novellas based on the legend of the May Queen and the Green Man, how their romance was discovered by the Winter King (the May Queen's betrothed), and in his anger and jealousy, he turned the Green Man to stone and drove the May Queen to suicide. The garden in which the two lovers had their tryst was thrown forever into winter, until the time when three lovers would find and choose true love...
Sacred Vows by Amanda McIntyre is about how the law then and the need to protect their families serve to drive Cara and Edmund apart. Though the story was well-written, I find their love a bit hard to believe. That it should endure for a number of years after meeting each other only once (and their interaction was limited to the meeting of bodies) struck me as a jarring note. Moreover, though this was touted by the publisher to be an erotic romance, Cara's and Edmund's intimate scenes were rather dry. (No pun intended.)
In Perfumed Pleasures by Charlotte Featherstone, Catherine is betrothed to the heir of the house, but it was the nephew, Joscelyn, whom she loved. Because of their past, the romantic development of Catherine and Joscelyn was more believable and you couldn't help but root for their HEA, especially when we are presented with how evil Catherine's betrothed was. Yet, I couldn't help but feel that there was a misplaced thread/subplot wherein we saw how her betrothed vows to claim Catherine against her will. Charlotte Featherstone's writing was so realistic that I can practically feel the evil oozing out of him and I can't help but think what dire circumstances await our hero/heroine. But in the end, the handling of this thread fell flat.
In both these stories, the Winter King was represented by a man who has the right to the heroine, and he was the personified figure to the hero and heroine's possible separation. But in Rites of Passion by Kristi Astor, the Winter King was represented by Emmaline's feelings of being unable to accept Jack, for his own good. Or so she thought. Of the three, I felt this story was the best in that the legend was differently portrayed, and being a departure from the usual, it was rather refreshing. Enough time was also given to Emma's and Jack's development of feelings, thereby making the triumph of their love that much more realistic.
The above minor complaints not withstanding, I enjoyed this anthology and looking forward to checking out each individual author's works.
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BOOK INTERVIEW on April 2011
Two lovely authors join us today as they talk about their latest work, THE PLEASURE GARDEN.
Amanda, Kristi, welcome and thanks for taking the time out for this interview!
Q: Where did the idea for this anthology come from? How did you come to collaborate on this anthology together?
Amanda: The inception was a collaborative effort after I met Kristi through the RT convention workshops and asked if she might be interested in hearing about an idea for an anthology. I knew she and Charlotte knew each other and as fate would have it, when we met, and began discussing ideas, the creation of what we call our Celtic Spice collection was born! Our first book, WINTER'S DESIRE (Spice, November 2009) was based on the legend of the Celtic Winter Solstice. Each book begins with the story of an ancient legend or curse that occurs during one of the Celtic seasons. Then each of us takes a particular time period and writes a novella based on the premise in the prologue. Somehow, through the three stories, we write them so that by the end, the curse has been lifted/resolved. It's been a lovely blend of historical as well as paranormal, fantasy elements that we get to use as tools to create our stories.
THE PLEASURE GARDEN is the second book in our little series and it celebrates the festival of Beltane, which is a traditionally a rowdy, lusty time in ancient days;) Each of us writes in a different era, using the same premise of resolving a curse in the prologue as the continuity for the book.
Q: What was it like working with the other two authors in this anthology?
Kristi: It's always a pleasure to work with Amanda and Charlotte! I think our anthologies are different from most because we actually conceive of the premise together-we find a Celtic legend, expand upon it, and co-write the prologue together (though Amanda is our poet!). Then, we each weave our individual novellas around the legend and premise we've created, tying them together with some common elements. It's a fun process, and we hope it leads to a more interesting reading experience than an anthology with entirely unrelated stories.
Amanda: It's been amazingly easy in that once we have the prologue in place, and touch base on a few points of meshing similar elements within our stories, we pretty much write them alone. Yet even as each stands alone, thus far they seem to almost blend seamlessly within the fabric of the prologue premise. It's a very unique set of books in that there are many writers who do individual anthologies, but few that create a series together.
Q: Amanda, let's go with you first. Please tell us a little about Sacred Vows, your contribution to the anthology.
Amanda: I love to write tortured heroes I have a friend who says hopes she never returns in a second life as one of my heroes. LOL
Edmund is about a good a guy as a woman could get--loyal to family, his country, his friends, he tends to see the good in everyone, but as is common in that type of person, quite often neglects his own desires. Cara as the youngest daughter in her family is her father's pride and joy. In that day and age, a woman's virtue was the ultimate prize for a young man when looking for a bride and the entire town knew of that virtue had been compromised, which could lower the political and social level of any man of notoriety.
I was inspired by the English ruling (though weakly enforced) 'Statutes of Kilkenny" which forbade the fraternization between the English in Dublin and the Gaelic folk. This is where the term, "beyond the pale' came from. The English actually built a fence and kept guards to police either group from meeting with the other. Decrees were made forbidding the English, already firmly entrenched in the customs, food and dress of the Gaelic island to cease anything that would show a connection to the Gaelic way of life.
The English king was so afraid that he was losing his political grip in Ireland that he tried (unsuccessfully, but not without a notable amount of bloodshed) to keep the two society's apart. the problem being, the colonization in Ireland by the English had already led to many intermarriages of the two peoples, making it a ridiculous notion to try to pry them apart. But when does the notion of ridiculous ever quell political ambition? ;)
Q: What can you tell us about Cara and Edmund that would make us sympathize with them and understand them better?
Amanda: Similar to the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, these were two young lovers drawn in to the political clashes between their families. This was one of those moments when at first sight, they knew that fate had drawn them together. Yet Edmund would sacrifice his love for her to save her and her family from persecution from the English crown, and Cara would give up the child she bore after their one night of passion, in order that Edmund and his family wouldn't be cited for treason against the King and so that he would deviate from the plans his family had made for him, and cause disgrace to her family for being an unwed mother.
After several years, the English rule was virtually rescinded, and a cruel twist of fate reunites the two, igniting the passion they once shared and revealing the betrayal of those thought to be friends.
Q: Please share a favorite line of exchange or scene in the story.
Amanda: This is the opening of the story which I feel tells a great deal about where things are going to go from here. ;) Here's the scene:
Forbidden. The reality that Edmund and his friend, Gregory could be held in high treason of the English king was the last thing on Edmund's mind as he stared at the lovely creature walking through the crowd toward them. Fair-skinned, with luxurious red hair, she sauntered with ease, greeting vendors, charming all with whom she came in contact, offering them a smile from lips that Edmund found himself wanting to taste. He took another sip of the mead Gregory had handed to him and watched as the object of his infatuation accepted an apple from a kindly old man. His eyes followed as she brought the apple to her mouth and she took a bite, her eyes closing in pleasure of its sweet taste. Edmund could fairly taste the juices himself and licked his lips in response. She curtsied to the old man in thanks and he offered her a toothless smile before waving her on.
Not before this moment had Edmund ever seriously doubted his future in the priesthood, a future designed by his parents and was without discussion. Nonetheless, he questioned it now, for his next breath hinged on capturing just one glance from this fair beauty. Edmund was mesmerized.
Q: Now, Kristi, please tell us a little about Rites of Passion, your contribution to the anthology.
Kristi: Rites of Passion is set just after the end of WWI, which is a new era for me--normally, my work is set in the Edwardian era. Both of the protagonists, Emmaline and Jack, are dealing with the war's aftermath. Jack falls ill with a deadly strain of influenza, and Emmaline nurses him back to health, all while the sensual pull of the "haunted" garden lures them in.
Q: What can you tell us about Emmaline and Jack that would make us sympathize with them and understand them better?
Kristi: Well, they're a very unlikely pair--Emmaline is a war widow, an American from modest means who has worked for her living, while Jack is a seemingly-happy-go-lucky Englishman, the son of a wealthy viscount. But their wartime experience (Jack as a captain in the Army, and Emmaline as a nurse stationed on the front) gives them a shared commonality, and makes them much more sympathetic toward one another. They've both suffered greatly, and are at a loss as to how to move forward in this new, modern "post war" world. I think (hope!) that it's easy for readers to wish that they find love and happiness with one another.
Q: Please share a favourite line of exchange or scene in the story.
Emmaline raised one brow. "I presume I'm to find this shocking?"
He shook his head, a shock of blond hair falling carelessly across his forehead. "No? Oh, right. I forgot, you're an American. It's much harder to shock an American, isn't it?"
She resisted the urge to stand and brush back the lock of hair from his forehead. "What, precisely, are you trying to say about Americans, Mr. Wainscott?" she asked instead, allowing herself to enjoy the banter.
"I've no idea, really." He shrugged. "It's all balderdash. But it made you smile, and you've a beautiful smile. Your entire face lights up. And there you have it, my ulterior motive. I've always got a motive. Just ask my sister."
Her heart fluttered at the compliment. "I imagine you do," she murmured, her cheeks growing warm. "Always have a motive, that is."
Q: What is the most romantic moment in the story?
Kristi: I think the most romantic moment is near the end, when they finally get "on the same page," so to speak, about their relationship. Though I also think some of their playful banter early in the story is kind of romantic, too--before they start thinking too much about what it means!
Q: So, what's up for you ladies in the coming months?
Amanda: Coming out in 2011 will be a dark and steamy gothic mystery! Titled THE DARK SEDUCTION OF MISS JANE, it is the story of a young, independent woman from America who goes to London to make her way in the male-dominated world of investigative reporting and finds herself the object of a Russian Illusionists' lust, an Inspector of Scotland Yard's secret desires and the a murderer's wrath. Inspired by a series of macabre murders in London , dubbed, the 'Embankment Murders,' which were pushed into obscurity by the media frenzy of Jack the Ripper, I asked myself as I researched this story, did anyone ever consider that the murderer have been one in the same?
The next installment of the Celtic Spice series is what I will be working on next. My contribution, MASTER OF DESIRE, it is set in London and Bath during the Georgian period and depicts an aging opera singer who is losing her popularity to the much younger divas of the operatic world. Until the night when she is singing and her eyes meet those of the most handsome man she has ever seen--one who must be years younger and yet something in his heated gaze makes her yearn for him to the point of desperation, but at what price? This anthology is currently titled, Dark Pleasures.
Kristi: I've got a full-length, Edwardian-set historical romance coming out with Zebra Books in October 2011 called A MOONLIT KISS. It's a kinda-sequel to my Nov. '10 release, A MIDNIGHT CLEAR.
Thanks a lot, ladies! It's been a pleasure having you here.
Find Amanda McIntyre at the following places:
The Master and the Muses
Diary of Cozette
Find Kristi Astor at the following places:
A Midnight Clear
A MIDNIGHT CLEAR
"Lover's Dawn" in WINTER'S DESIRE
"Swept Away" in LORDS OF DESIRE
TO LOVE A SCOUNDREL (writing as Kristina Cook)
Amanda and Kristi are each offering a copy of THE PLEASURE GARDEN for giveaway!
Simply write a comment or ask a question to be entered into the giveaway!
Contest ends April 30.
Winners will be announced in May.