It’s such a thrill to welcome author Stephanie Burkhart today as she celebrates the release of her newest book “The Count’s Lair,” offered by Desert Breeze Publishing. Let’s hear what she has to say!
I’m excited to be here at Regina’s blog today. Thanks so much for having me here.
Just a little about me: I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. After graduating from Central High, I joined the US Army. I spent 11 years in the military, 7 in Germany. While in the military, I earned a BS in Political Science from California Baptist University in Riverside, CA in 1995. I left the Army in 1997 and settled in California, but my favorite football team is still the New England Patriots. I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. I’ve been married for 19 years. I have two boys, Andrew, 8, and Joseph, 4.
How a story grows organically
Count Anton Varga is the handsome, yet moody hero in my latest release, “The Count’s Lair,” a paranormal romance set in Budapest, Hungary during Christmas in 1901. Lady Amelia Andrassy is the beautiful, yet melancholy heroine. Their story came to me naturally, an outgrowth of the events that occurred in Book 1 of the series, “The Hungarian.”
In “The Hungarian,” I always intended Anton to be a redeemable foil for Matthias. He comes close to crossing the line, but thankfully, doesn’t. There’s a touch of humanity underneath his feral nature.
Amelia is Kate’s good friend in “The Hungarian.” In Book 1, Anton and Amelia meet in the middle of the story, but it’s not until the spark that passes between them in the Duma’s bookstore toward the end of the novel, does Anton and Amelia realize their attraction.
Anton decides he wants to court Amelia, but he needs to sort out his emotions and tame the best. Amelia also has issues to deal with. When “The Hungarian” ends, neither Anton nor Amelia are ready for romance.
“In Moonlight Sonata,” a free prequel to “The Count’s Lair,” Anton and Amelia become friends. Anton goes outside of his comfort zone to offer Amelia the support she needs to get through the bitterness of her husband’s death. Amelia expresses her pain and regrets through playing Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathetique.” At the end of the prequel, she thinks of Anton and dares to play the “Moonlight Sonata.”
“The Count’s Lair” opens after Anton and Amelia have spent two months apart. Have their heart’s healed enough to let love bloom?
Enjoy this excerpt:
A hesitant smile crossed her lips, as she wrapped her arms around herself, her gown hardly warming her. “Aren’t you cold?” she asked.
He frowned. No, thanks to the moon, he was as hot as an oven.
“I’m sorry.” Quickly, he took off his tuxedo’s jacket and walked behind her, draping it over her shoulders. He stayed close to her, hoping his body’s unnatural warmth would help her. She smiled her thanks. Curious, he stepped out from behind her, but stayed close by her side. She turned to look at him.
He flashed her a gentle smile. “Why did you ask if I was Catholic?”
She cocked an eyebrow. “Well, it is Christmas time.”
“I just wanted to know how you celebrate the holidays.”
He pursed his lips. “I normally don’t celebrate.”
“You don’t get a tree? Put up garland?”
“My mother died young. My father and brother weren’t religious,” he replied.
Her eyes softened. “Your father didn’t give gifts? Sing carols?”
“My father wasn’t one to sing carols or give gifts.”
She stepped into his personal space and cupped his cheek. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s the way I was raised.”
“I have pleasant memories of Christmas.”
“Share them with me,” he said.
She flashed him a tender smile. “Well, my mother was musical. She played piano and sang. My sister likes to sing. My father would take us out into the woods, and we’d pick our tree. He’d cut it down, and we’d bring it home. We all decorated it with glass ornaments, garland, and popcorn. My mother would take us caroling with her church choir. We’d even bake special foods for the holiday.”
“What? Yorkshire pudding and rib roast?”
“How did you know?”
He chuckled. “You grew up in England, if I remember correctly.”
“I did grow up in England.”
“Near London, right? Ester?”
“It’s Esher — just outside of London.”
Again, he chuckled. “I’m sorry. I know you told me–”
“Before you left.”
“Yes, before I left.”
She stepped away from him, as if forcing distance between them for not remembering. He grabbed her wrist. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” she said quietly.
“Perhaps you can help me to enjoy the Christmas season,” he suggested. “Let me take you to the Kris Kringle Market in Budapest.”
Her eyes danced with delight at the suggestion. “I’d like that. When?”
He frowned. “A week from now.”
YOU TUBE BOOK TRAILER:
The Count’s Lair is avail as ebook for Kindle, B&N Nook, Sony Ereader, and Kobo. You can also download a copy from the Publisher’s Website at:
You can find me on the web at:
Goodie Time: Leave me a comment and I’ll be back to pick a winner who will receive a print copy of my sweet military romantic adventure, “Destination: Berlin.”