In support of her new release, Kate Monroe has been touring around the internet, stopping here and there, sharing the news of The Falcon’s Chase. Lucky for you, Kate has stopped by The Bizarre Kaleidoscope today to share with us a few thoughts on the darker side of romance. To start off, let’s take a quick peek into The Falcon’s Chase…
Captain Reuben Costello is just hours away from facing his execution when the unlikeliest of rescuers storms into his cell. Lady Arianne Dalton needs the assistance of the infamous Black Swan to flee England and all its constraints. He finds himself more than willing to help the fiercely independent Ari in exchange for his freedom.
However, when they come to find their fates inextricably tangled in a plot that threatens the very foundations of British society, they are swept away on a chase that puts not only their lives, but their hearts at risk – and neither of them can defy the wild and stormy ride they find upon the Falcon.
And now for the magnificent Kate to take over for a bit! Here’s The Dark Side…
The Falcon’s Chase isn’t your typical romance novel. When I first conceived it, I saw it more as a steampunk adventure with the romance element very much as the subplot. However, Reuben and Ari apparently had their own ideas on that point, and the developing romance rapidly came to the forefront to end up as the dominant theme of the novel. However, even though I acquiesced to their demands, the steampunk adventure I first plotted out is still a key part of the plot – and I was determined not to sacrifice any of the dark themes for the sake of the romance.
After all, life isn’t all sweetness and light, is it? As children we are taught that it is from the Disney stories that are often our first introduction to romance, but soon we all must come to learn that that’s as far from the truth as it’s possible to be. Nobody simply meets their other half, falls in love and then lives happily ever after in blissful ignorance of all of life’s highs and lows. Sure, some people seem to glide through life with fewer hardships than everyone else, but the bad times come to all of us eventually.
To write a romance that glosses over those truths is lazy and won’t pack the full emotional punch that it otherwise could. The ultimate aim for an author is for the reader to truly connect with your characters and feel for them through every twist and turn of their tale, and if their path is too smooth then they won’t be drawn in. The stories that stay with you the longest are those that aren’t afraid to delve into the darkest lows that life has to offer; just look at Wuthering Heights, one of the great abiding love stories throughout the full history of literature. Heathcliff is the very antithesis of the romantic hero, and the story itself is packed full of death, gloom and despair, but despite all that it’s often held up as the ultimate in romantic fiction.
Romantic fiction is a vast-ranging genre, but even when a story is based around a fantasy theme like steampunk, the interactions between the characters have to be realistic; human nature is the one thing that will never change. We have the capacity to love in a way that can tear down all boundaries, but at the same time we can be intensely selfish and cruel, as demonstrated by Heathcliff in the way in which he treats Catherine and everyone else around her. Life is all about striking a balance as we make our way through the trials in our path.
The Falcon’s Chase deliberately doesn’t shy away from confronting the darkness that exists in both everyday life and inside us. The story opens with Reuben on the eve of his execution, and that scene really sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Throughout the grim and life-threatening events that surround Reuben and Ari, they must both come to terms with their strengths and weaknesses, and only by doing so can they hope to find all that they seek upon the Falcon. I hope that over the course of their journey the reader comes to know their characters as well as I’ve done whilst writing them, and if I’ve achieved what I wanted to then including all of the darkness of the era they lived in has helped to do just that.
Kate Monroe is a redheaded author and editor who lives in a quiet and inspirational corner of southern England. She has penchants for classic sci-fi, horror and loud guitars, and a fatal weakness for red wine. Her interests in writing range from horror to erotica, taking in historical romance, steampunk and tales of the paranormal on the way; whatever she dreamed about the night before is liable to find its way onto the page in some form or another…
Kate has had short stories published in numerous anthologies including works by Sirens Call Publications, Cruentus Libri Press, Rainstorm Press and Angelic Knight Press. The Falcon’s Chase is her debut full-length novel.
If you’re interested in picking up a copy of The Falcon’s Chase, you can find it at any of these fine retailers:
And now for a longer look into The Falcon’s Chase…
…from Chapter One
Reuben Costello knew that he had tried a hundred times to wrench the unyielding iron bars of his prison cell apart, but he could not resist the urge to try just once more. However hard he tugged, though, they withstood even the inhuman amount of force that his prosthetic arm applied to them, just as they had so many times before.
He delivered a furious kick to the bars that had him inescapably trapped as his dark eyes settled upon the copper plated arm that he wore like a badge of honour. Meticulously bonded to the living flesh it clung to, it was just as responsive and more effective than the arm of muscles and bones that had existed in its place for the first eleven years of his life; but though he had worn it for twenty years now and it had served him well for all of those, the sight of it still filled him with a bitter and resentful disgust.
Even that painful emotion, though, could not distract him for more than a few moments. Far more pressing was the grim awareness that with every second that passed, sunrise drew nearer, and with it would come his execution. Reuben had lived a far from blameless life, always dancing along the thin, blurred line that separated the pursuits of an ordinary merchant and the more interesting activities that he liked to indulge in.
Betrayed to Her Majesty’s Royal Navy after a dalliance with the pirates that roamed the Red Sea proved too irresistible for his mercenary side to ignore, Reuben had been captured and dragged to the infamous Tower of London. It had taken no less than a dozen captains to bring him in. Had he been aboard his ship when they attacked, he had no doubt that they would not have succeeded.
Reuben had not been aboard the Falcon, though. Instead, he had been spending the night with his latest mistress – and when she had brazenly lounged back on the bed with a cigarillo between her perfect red lips and laughed loudly as they dragged him away, he had silently cursed his propensity for choosing his bedmates based on looks alone.
That, it seemed, was not a mistake he would have the chance to ever make again. Though his crime was nowhere as severe as it should be to warrant execution, that was the sentence that had inexplicably been passed. Time was rapidly slipping away from him and much to his disgust, it was becoming clear that there would be no escape from the harsh fate that awaited him.
He sank down to the cold, grimy cobbles that lined his dungeon cell and affixed a menacing scowl to his face for the sole benefit of any gaolers that should happen to parade past his cell with their looks of disdain and taunts about the noose that was so soon to be claiming his neck in the hangman’s embrace. Soon, light footsteps heralded the approach of just such a person.
Reuben snatched upon the only amusement that would be his on this last lonely night of life. He wrapped his fingers around the hateful bars of his cell and knelt down, drawing back his thin lips to expose the gleaming teeth beneath as he deliberately allowed a low, ominous growl to rise up from the pit of his stomach and echo around the confines of the dungeon.
He squinted into the dimly-lit gloom as the footsteps quickened and caught sight of a distinct shape emerging from the putrid darkness. Far shorter than any of the guards he had become accustomed to – he would estimate that the top of their head would not even reach his shoulder – and dressed all in black, the person reached into their pocket and extracted what was undoubtedly, from the jangling sound of metal against metal, a bunch of heavy brass keys.
Reuben’s eyes narrowed as they quickly swept across the newcomer appraisingly. Their head was bowed low, concealed from his gaze by the shadow of the black cap atop it, and a full-length greatcoat enveloped their body and skimmed across their ankles to reveal tight-fitting breeches and laced leather boots.
Everything about the clothing that they wore screamed of masculinity, but an incredulous suspicion was rising inside him that it was no man that stood before him. The slender fingers that were now fumbling with the keys were pale and unblemished, as far removed from the rough and calloused hands of the gaolers as it was possible to be. As they unlocked the door and hastily slammed it shut behind them, the shape of a second person stepped out of the shadows in the corridor.
“I shall stay at the end of the corridor to stand guard, then – just shout if you need me, ma’am.” They were dismissed with a jerk of the head and an irritable wave of the delicate hand that had unlocked the door.
Even if those intriguing words had not made it plain that it was a woman now locked in the cell with him, any remaining doubt he might have had was extinguished when he inhaled sharply and a delicate scent that had wafted in with the newcomer danced around his senses, teasing and tantalising him with its faint notes of jasmine and gardenia. It was a scent that was intrinsically and undeniably feminine in origin.
Reuben swallowed hard, for a woman’s appearance in his cell could mean only one thing. He let loose a soft groan. He had been alone in his cell for over a month now and the company of a woman was perhaps the only thing that might make him able to forget his imminent execution. With a deep, primal hunger raging inside him, he stared at her intently as she slowly pulled away her cap to reveal the face of the woman that had come to offer him the scant comfort she could provide.
“Ah! You are to be this condemned man’s last meal, I presume?” Reuben’s low voice was hoarse, for the instant that she had removed her cap and revealed herself to him, he had been consumed by such a forceful throb of aching desire that he knew he had to have her, prostitute or not. Not even pausing to think upon the surprising and uncharacteristic generosity that his gaolers had shown in sending such a rare beauty to him on the eve of his execution, he roughly backed her up against the stone walls of the cell.
Her soulful eyes widened and her lips parted, but before she could speak Reuben devoted himself to the far from unpalatable task at hand. If this was to be the last woman he would take before his execution then, he thought wryly, it was fitting that she was by far the loveliest he had ever had in his arms, despite her manly attire – attire that he intended to waste no time in stripping away from her shapely form.
He shook his tangled, jet black braids back out of his face, lowered his head and laid forceful, triumphant claim to her wonderfully soft and pliant lips, already dizzy with the strength of his desperate yearning for her. Reuben slipped one hand behind her head to caress the delicate nape of her neck and hold her in place as his fingers wound through the silken curls of hair escaping the tight bun attempting to restrain them, his arousal rapidly spiralling out of control as he pushed himself up against her to mould himself against every feminine contour of her body.
He forced his prosthetic arm between their bodies to reach for the intricate buttons of her greatcoat and tugged them apart with such force that they ripped free of the fabric, but even that was not enough to persuade him to break the kiss. Never before had a mere kiss managed to arouse him with such ferocity. Perhaps it was the adrenalin pounding through his body in anticipation of his death intensifying all that he felt, but Reuben had never craved any woman as much as he did this one.
As his fingers insistently moved between their bodies to seek out the fastenings of her shirt, though, brushing against the agonisingly tempting curve of her high, full breasts as they did so, she twisted her head to the side with a loud and rasping cry. “What in God’s name do you think that you are doing, sir?!”
Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? The Falcon’s Chase is published by Pink Pepper Press – a home for Romance and the Erotic! A huge thank you to Kate for stopping by today!