Posts Tagged ‘Icy Snow Blackstone’

I like Westerns.  And I like Regency romances.  When I wrote The Finer Gentleman, I had a vague and slightly weird idea of combining the manners and foibles of the Regency period with that of the Old West, and a time far in the future.  I wasn’t certain if I could do it and I didn’t really expect it to come out as it did.  I’m pleased with the result, however.

In The Finer Gentleman, writing as Icy Snow Blackstone, my tale of a Tritomitian rancher who inherits a title and an estate on the planet Arcanis was a delight to write.  But then, writing about Sar Trant always has been.

On Tritomis-2, the people live a pioneer existence similar to that of the mid-18th century West, while Arcanis, hovering somewhere around Regency England socially, is technologically advanced enough to have space travel, androids, and lasers.

 QUESTION:  What would happen if an 18th-century American cowboy were suddenly dumped into 18th-century English society? 

 ANSWER:  Chaos would probably ensue as he wore his boots and spurs to the dining room, broke down his wife’s bedroom door because he didn’t relish sleeping apart from her, and invited the king to “mosey on down to the saloon and get a shot o’ red-eye.”  Sar Trant doesn’t go that far, but he does end up in a drinking match with the Margrave of Arcanis, until both men are so snockered they have to hold each other up, while the Margravine looks on with a disapproving eye.

 The blurb says it all:

 Sarkin Trant had always known his great-great-grandfather was the illegitimate son of an Arcanian giarl, and also that the mother of his child was so beloved by that nobleman he refused to ever marry, but he’s stunned when he’s informed he’s now the twenty-eight giarl of Craigsmere.   Against his better judgment, Sar goes to Arcanis, taking wife and son with him, little realizing there’s a menace waiting on that planet, which will tear his family apart, and place his own life and freedom in jeopardy.


 Sar came awake  as soon as he heard the click of the lock opening.

 Katy was snuggled against him, her breath warm against his shoulder, and he didn’t move except to turn his head slightly so he could easily see the door from where he lay.  It swung open, revealing a figure silhouetted against the dim lighting in the hallway.

The door was quietly pushed shut; the figure tiptoed toward the hearth.  It held something large and bulky in its hands.

Easing from under Katy’s weight, Sar reached out and seized the Winchester DT-3 lying on the bedside table.  She had chided him when he’d insisted on bringing the laser pistol along, but accustomed to always being armed, he’d felt odd without the weapon in his possession. As a noble, he had diplomatic immunity to carry a firearm aboard an interplanetary vessel, so the Winchester made the trip, though it stayed in his clothescase except at night.

“Hold it right there!”  Lifting the weapon, he struck the base of the lamp with the handgrip.  A brilliant flood lit up the bedchamber, and Sar aimed the Winchester at the figure.  “Hands over your head.”

Dropping the basket she held, Sterri gave a frightened squeak and thrust her hands into the air. 

Sar slid out of bed, dumping Katy unceremoniously onto the feather mattress.  She woke with a start. “What?  What is it?”

“What are you doing here?”  He leveled the pistol at the girl who was visibly trembling.

Sterri didn’t answer, just shook even harder.  Her eyes were wide and frightened, staring in disbelief—first at the pistol aimed at her, then at the wild copper hair falling almost to Sar’s waist, and finally at his body, registering the fact that he was standing there stark naked.  With a little squeal of shock, she put her hands over her eyes.

“Answer me!” Sar roared.

“Sar—” Katy spoke again.  “You’re frightening her.”

“Damned right I am,” he answered.  “What’s she doing sneaking in here like that?”

Sterri’s body began to quiver.  From under the hands pressed against her eyes, two large tears dripped down her cheeks.  She began to sob.

“Here, now, stop that caterwauling, and answer m’question.”  Sar had never been one for knowing how to handle a crying female.  Exasperation was his usual response.  Taking a step totward the girl, he caught her shoulders, giving her a shake.

She continued to cry, harder than ever.

“Stop yelling at her,” Katy said.  She reached to the foot of the bed, then held out something.  “Here, put this on.  The fact that you’re standing there naked probably isn’t helping.”

He glanced at her, then down at himself, realized he’d forgotten that fact in his haste to stop a suspected thief, and hastily returned the Winchester to the table.  Then he reached for the robe.  Making certain the double-breasted front was securely closed, he belted it tightly and walked over to the still-sobbing Sterri.

“Come on, lass.  Stop that.”  A hand was laid on her shoulder. 

Sterri jumped, dropping her hands and opening her eyes.  “Oh, please, sir, don’t beat me.”

Sar looked surprised.  “Now why would I be doing that?  Here.”  He gestured to the sofa grouping.  “Sit down and calm yoursel’.”

“I-I can’t sit, sir.  Not in your presence.”

“We’ll both sit.”  He steered her toward the loveseat, pushed her gently upon it and settled himself beside her.   This only seemed to frighten the girl more.  In the bed, Katy leaned back against the pillows and watched, silently.  “Now, then.  What did you call yoursel’ doing?”

“M-my chores, sir.”  She wiped at her eyes, giving him a stare made even bluer by the tears still in them.

“And those chores consist of sneaking into m’room at—”  He glanced at the clock on the mantle.  “—five o’clock in the morn?”

“Yes sir.  I mean, no sir.” “I do na need the fire lit,  Sterri…’tis Sterri, isna?”  She nodded again.  “Go on wi’ your chores, lass.”

“Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir.”  Sterri got to her feet, bobbed him a curtsey, and escaped, clutching the basket to her breast.

As the door clicked shut behind her, Katy began to laugh.  “Hurricane Sar strikes again!”

“Aye,” he agreed, coming over to the bed.  “Do you still think I should be a giarl, lass?”

“Of course, I do.  Although it might be a good idea for you to start wearing a sleepshirt if you’re going to continue to accost the servants this early in the morning.”

“Well, the harm’s done now.  I suppose the tale’ll be running up and down the halls that I’m a madman who threatens to shoot li’l maids who’re just carrying out their assigned duties.”  Sar sighed.  “Did the lass really think I’d beat her?”

“I’m certain she did,” Katy answered.  “And probably more than that, the way you were holding on to her.”

“What else would I be doing?”  Sar looked puzzled.

“Come on, Sar, we’ve been here long enough for you to figure that out.”  Katy gestured at the door, as if suddenly impatient with his naivity.  “You’re the Lord of Craigsmere.  She’s a servant.  You were both in your bedchamber, and you were naked.  What do you think?”

 “Nay, Katy.  Surely na—  But you were here.”

“So?”  Katy pointed at the entrances to those rooms.  “I’ve a good idea that if you were determined, a sleeping wife would be an easy thing to ignore.”

 When Sar didn’t answer, she looked back at him.  His expression was closed, almost insulted that his darling wife would speak to him so.  Poor dear, he has enough to adjust to without my heavy-handed teasing.  She felt guilty for saying such things to him, decided she’d better apologize and get that hurt look off his handsome face.  “Sar—”           

“I suppose I should speak to Torin.” Sar didn’t let her finish.  His tone was short as he looked around.  “Where’s that bell-pull thingie?”

He saw it hanging near the hearth, stamped over and gave it several vigorous jerks.

“And while I’m waiting for him to get here, I’d best put on something a little more lord-like.  Wouldn’t want Torin to get wrong ideas, also.”  He disappeared into his dressing room.

The Finer Gentleman will be released by Class Act Books on May 15.  www.classactbooks.com/

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I’d like to welcome my friend and author Icy Snow Blackstone.  I was priviledged to read a few chapters of Wizard’s Wife before it hit the presses, and I look forward to the January 2011 release date.  I might have to save this one to read on a weekend, because I know I’ll stay up all night turning pages!  Drumroll:  Icy Snow on stage.

“Megan, I’m a faery!”

Not exactly the words a newly wed wants to hear, not even if, as in this case, the faery is the gossamer-winged,  glamour-dust kind.  But there’s more.  Megan’s husband isn’t just any old faery, he’s a faery wizard, the Champion of Ais Linn, sent to protect the Earth from an invasion by the Lord of Dark Fire.

In writing this novel, I did a careful blending of the Real and the Unreal—the Real being the Harmonic Convergence, the Unreal being the world of Fae.  For the latter,  I relied heavily on An Encyclopedia of Fairies, which lists more supernatural creatures than you can shake a stick at.  For those of you who think “faery” means simply those wee creatures who can sit in your hand and flit about on butterfly-like wings dripping whuffle dust as they wave  their tiny antenna,  take it from me—that ain’t all lurking in the land of Fae!  Among faeryland’s less sociable inhabitants are the malevolent Sluagh (pronounced Slooa) or the Host of the Unforgiven Dead, the most formidable of the faery people, followed closely by the vicious Solitary faeries.  The former are the spirits of dead mortals and when they urge men to commit wicked acts, humans can’t disobey. Solitary faeries are generalky malignant creatures such as the Bogies.  Some aren’t necessarily a danger; the Pooka, (Will o’ the Wisp) merely leads travelers astray or the Bain Sidhe (banshee) rides through the hallways heralding death to an inhabitant.  Others, such as brownies and leprechauns are more prone to mischief.   Nevertheless, some just live alone and like it and woe be to any mortal who crosses their paths.

The Real part of the story, the Harmonic Convergence, occurred almost a decade ago, the time of the original writing of this story, on August 16-24, 1987.  (For those who care, the Final Convergence is expected  in 2013.) There have been various convergences over the centuries, but this one time all (at that time) nine planets were in a direct line with the sun.  Newscasts  made much of this and of course doomsayers came out in droves and then disappeared again when none of their predictions came true.  Nevertheless, it made me ask the question:  What if something did happened but no one knew about it because it occurred in another dimension?

Back to those of faery-kind.  David, son of Padraig, half-ruler of Ais linn, is a Trooping faery, a member of a fae group the same size as humans.  Nothing of the “little people” about this lad.  In fact, when she learns his secret, Megan is quick to remind him there’s only one part of his anatomy fitting the human hand.  He’s over six feet tall, with wings the same length, a gift for blarney and utterly irresistible to human females.  Unfortunately, human females are just as irresistible to him, in particular one Megan O’Connell.  David’s also a Tiarna D’Geal Tina (Lord of White Fire), the first and last line of defense against his opposite number Exeter Dubtina, the Tiarna d’Doit Tina.   Exeter and his sister Siobhan are the children of the Lord of Dark Fire and his wife, a solitary fairy, so they got a double-dose of bad.

Besides the Wizard, there’s also Ossian, his familiar—with the sexiest pair of wings this side of Ireland; Brigid, Ossian’s twin; Sir Liam, a drop-dead gorgeous shapeshifting knight who roams the Damhain Garrai in search of pixies to terrorize…and Siochan, a talking unicorn.  (If the Celtic names throw you, don’t worry, there’s a glossary included.)

When Megan O’Connell meets David McMuir, the handsome Irishman so enchants her with his Old World blarney, she was more than willing to become his wife.   There are some problems, of course; David’s parents oppose the marriage and didn’t attend the wedding, and David insists on birth-control from the very beginning.  Megan consoles herself to one and agrees to the other, but two months and sixty nights of lovemaking later—Lo and behold!  The Patch failed and she’s pregnant, and realization he’s to become a father brings forth David’s startling confession.  It plunges his bride into a war to take place during the Harmonic Convergence, in which David pledges to give his life if necessary, to save the Earth as well as his own home from Exeter Dubhtina, his mortal enemy.

When David is summoned home as the Convergence begins, Megan decides to follow, and soon finds hdrself in Exeter’s clutches.  After witnessing firsthand the Dark Lord’s cruelty, she summons all her mortal strength to fight his magic, only to learn her husband has been sent a message:  Surrender all of the Earth and your portion of Ais Linn to me or your wife and unborn child will die.

Meantwhile, Exeter’s wily sister, Siobhan, is working a little magical blackmail all her own to keep her ex-betrothed from fighting her brother in hand-to-hand combat.

Will David fall to Siobhan’s enticements?  Will he renounce his vow to save the Earth or lose his wife and unborn child?

It’s a story full of adventure, romance, and humor as well.  Class Act Books is the publisher and it’s expected release date is January, 2011.

(Toni V. Sweeney’s latest novel is Serpent’s Tooth, released in February by Class Act Books.  It is her ninth book to date; in total, she has twenty-one novels written by herself and her pseydonym Icy Snow Blackstone.  More information about Toni and her writing can be found at http://www.tonivsweeney.com


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