When I was a teenager growing up in Sydney, Australia, reality sucked for me. Back then, like most kids my own age, the transistor radio (memba those??) was more important than TV and books were more important than anything.
I spent every free period and lunch break I had sitting in the school library stacks my trannie (yes, they were trannies) secreted in my pencil case. I was mad about John Paul Young and Sherbet and kept my pencil case clapped to my ear as I listened to those dreamy lovey-dovey songs and read romance novels set in long-ago times in faraway places.
My passion was historical romances, in particular Victoria Holt. I didn't care for her work under the names of Jean Plaidy, Philippa Carr, or even her own. As Victoria Holt, she just did it for me. Her Gothic romances always featured a damsel in real distress, not some fruit loop whining about a hangnail. There was tension, mystery, darkness, romance, sexual tension, darkness…
Well, you get the idea.
My favorite books were early Holts such as On the Night of the Seventh Moon.
In it, a young British girl goes to school in Germany, a remote place on the edge of the Bavarian forest. She hears lots of legends about the spooky forest. She's not supposed to go there but of course, she does. She gets lost, of course, but is rescued by the handsome mysterious prince of the castle on the other side of the forest.
She charms him. Of course.
He almost seduces her, but refrains.
Years later, long after she has graduated, she returns to the forest and almost believing she imagined that one night with him, she encounters the prince again. This time she is a woman and their romance is swift and passionate. They get married and she is the happiest she's ever been in her life.
When she awakens the next morning however, she is told by the castle housekeeper that there is no prince. There was no marriage.
Was it real? Did she dream it?
Or is something more sinister afoot?
This simple but dramatic premise leads to one of the most exciting historical romances I've ever read. I won't give away the dénouement here, but let me just say that there is a reason that On the Night of the Seventh Moon is consistently at the top of readers' favorite Gothic Romances, half a century after it was first published.
Shattered by Fate, part of the Amber Allure Gothics Galore Collection, was inspired by the original premise, but dovetails completely after that. First of all the characters are two gay men, the action is contemporary, and the story is set in beautiful Buenos Aires.
This is my mash note to an author whose passion inspired my own. Here is a synopsis:
Elvis Summers and his writing partner Holt have scored a fantastic gig—spending two months in romantic Buenos Aires while researching their old TV idol, Guy Williams, famous for playing Zorro and the futuristic, perfect father in Lost in Space.
What made Williams fall so deeply in love with Argentina that he gave up his acting career to move there in the mid 70s?
For years, the actor remained an icon as Zorro in Argentina, even though he died alone and under mysterious circumstances in his apartment in the lush neighborhood of Recoleta. As Elvis and Holt retrace the actor's footsteps, history and gothic romance seep into their souls.
Elvis meets a hot local named Joaquin, a man with his own secrets and apparent fears. Elvis falls hard and fast for the sexy porteño, but after scorching nights of passion, Joaquin inexplicably vanishes. Elvis desperately searches for him even as Holt tries to convince him that Joaquin was obviously not interested, and that residents of Joaquin's apartment building claim no such man exists.
Feeling the ghost of Guy Williams accompanying him on his sometimes-frightening search, Elvis is determined to find the man he came to adore. Or will he, like TV's Zorro, find himself shattered by fate?
For more information, a hot excerpt and/or purchase, please click this link:
Shattered by Fate by A.J. Llewellyn is now available at Amber Allure.
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