When someone says “paranormal romance,” we tend to think of a contemporary, probably urban, setting. Vampires run trendy nightclubs, shifters work as police detectives, and faeries use cell phones. All of which is cool and fun, but I must confess to having a soft spot for history. So if the vampire is running a speakeasy, or the shifter owns a radio station in the 1930’s (a la Charlie’s “Believe Me, Beloved” in Masks Off!, which you must read if you haven’t yet!), I’ll snatch that book up without a second thought.
And, despite the general lack of it on the virtual shelves, setting a paranormal romance in the past opens up all kinds of possibilities. It would be much easier for secret species to remain hidden: photography only came into common usage in the late 1800’s (indeed, the faked Cottingley Fairies photos in 1917 caused an international sensation. What if real fae had been captured on film?). Spiritualism and séances were all the rage in the Victorian Era, and for the first time people tried to come up with scientific explanations for seemingly-otherworldly phenomena. The period between 1860 and 1940 was time of enormous social upheaval, and it’s fun to contemplate how a long-lived vampire would react to the changes, or how the local shifter pack would take to running bootleg liquor.
One of the reasons I decided to set my upcoming release Widdershins in 1897 was the sense of balance between modern science and old superstition. It was an era of discovery, when no one had the slightest idea what astonishing breakthrough would come about, or what wild creature would be revealed to exist. Dracula was first published that year, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was active in England, and occultism of every kind was extremely popular. Yet at the same time, technology and science were making enormous strides which affected almost every facet of everyday life, for the common person as well as the wealthy elite.
Then there’s the ambiance. Who doesn’t thrill to the image of the horse-drawn carriage clopping down the foggy street, the night lit only by gaslight or candles? The men in their suits, dashing with their top hats, canes, and pocket watches. The elegant drawing rooms—or the teeming apartment buildings, packed with immigrants bringing their own superstitions into the mix. Add a little bit of magic and romance, and…well, I for one, cannot resist.
Some things should stay buried.
Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.
So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.
As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?
Widdershins will be available December 4th.