A shocking burst of laughter rang out, shattering the peace and quiet of the library. Noreen Willshire gripped the sides of her chair, her heart pounding. The unopened letter she held floated to the floor. Alone, the massive room seemed larger, more forbidding.
What had she heard?
She swung her head from side to side. “Who’s there?”
The hiss and crack of smoldering coals answered.
Did young John’s cat prowl the upper halls? She glanced toward the letter, a missive from her sister, Juliette. She’d been so absorbed with the idea of news from abroad, the sound had startled her. She smiled. The cat made a nuisance of itself again. They shouldn’t allow him to run free. She uncurled her body from a chair in front of the cozy fireplace and scooped up the letter.
The library presented the perfect setting. She relished the solitude, more comfortable surrounded by books than she was by people. Located on the second floor of the manor house, the library had become her favorite room. Dark red mahogany paneling and shelves full of books lined the walls. A maid had built a small fire that had burned down to white coals. An ornately carved mahogany ledge framed the fireplace.
On the far corner of the mantelpiece, the gnarled features of her wooden companion peered down. Lord Somerton’s prize gnome, a family heirloom, peeked at her, its features pasted into a silly grin as if it guarded a secret. She smiled at the odd creature and stood. Moving to the desk where a lamp provided better light, she tore open the envelope; a letter she’d waited months to receive. Making full use of the lamp’s light, she concentrated on each cherished word.
As soon as she began to read, laughter floated across the room, a low rumble of cackling mirth.
Lifting her head, she glanced about the room. That she might not be alone made her wary as to the identity of her visitor. Again, her gaze roamed the rows of books and found nothing to warrant the sound.
She sighed. The shawl slipped from her shoulders, and she readjusted the knitted warmth before wiggling to get comfortable. She often took refuge from her duties as governess by spending free time sequestered in the family library. In the short time she’d been employed by Edward Chauss, Duke of Somerton, she’d become well acquainted with Lord Somerton’s extensive collection of books. Today, she had surrounded herself with the aroma of leather and parchment and a need to be alone with her letter from Juliette, but a mystery now claimed her curiosity. Laughter sounded where there should have been none.
Just when she assumed her hearing to be at fault, another burst of laughter rang out in the silent room.
No cat made that sound.
The hairs at her nape bristled. She lowered the letter to her lap, and her gaze swept the empty library more intently, searching each corner. A snicker made her turn toward the fireplace. She blinked, her attention snagged by the lone figure perched upon the mantelpiece. Setting the missive aside, she leaned across the desk for a closer look.
She rose and crept toward the fireplace. Stretching on tiptoe, she stroked the peeling paint at the tip of the gnome’s nose. A giggle erupted. She jumped and snatched her hand back. Was it alive? Of course not. It must be some sort of music box with a malfunction, its mechanical insides rusted or broken.
She studied the gnome. Perhaps if she shook it, the strange noise would stop. She poked the wooden creature with her forefinger.
Nothing. No sound, no strange laughter.
Determined to discover the source of the distracting laugh, she tried to pick up the gnome and paused. The carved, wooden figure stuck fast to the mantel.
She frowned and pulled it toward her, thinking to loosen it from its tenacious hold. When that failed, she pushed.
A tiny gasp left her lips. The statue tilted off its base, fastened to the surface by a hinge. A loud click sounded, and she whirled toward the noise.
Beside the fireplace, a mahogany wood panel stood ajar, and a soft breeze whistled through the opening.
A hidden passageway.
Footsteps crescendoed outside the library.
You just read an excerpt from:
The Keeper of Moon Haven
Today, we’re here with published author, Ciara Gold.
Ciara: I write as Ciara Gold for Champagne Books and I’m very fortunate that I’m able to write in many genres. I write sci-fi futuristic romance, historical western romance, paranormal time-travel, and in this December, I had a historical fantasy released.
Kage: What happened to the first book you ever wrote?
Ciara: Oh, do we have to go there? Too funny. It’s gathering dust on a shelf above my computer. I wrote it when I was twenty and never wrote again until I was about forty-five.
Kage:What’s your backlist and coming soon bookshelf look like?
Ciara: My sci-fis include Celestial Dragon, Eppie winner A Noble Sacrifice, and coming in April, Dragon Hunter. My historical westerns include Sarah’s Brass Token, Julia’s Golden Eagle, Eliza’s Copper Penny, and Kaitlin’s Silver Lining, which are all connected. I also have Once Jilted, which is part of the Orphan Train Series. On The Silver Edge of Time is my paranormal time-travel set in Viking times and I just completed the sequel so I’m hopeful that will be contracted soon.
Kage: So, what story are we going to talk about today?
Ciara: The Keeper of Moon Haven releases this December from Champagne Books. A Victorian fantasy, the story begins with the heroine finding a book that’s a conduit to a faery realm. She’s encouraged to return the book by the Keeper of the realm, a wizard who’s half elf and half human.
The Keeper of Moon Haven
On the southern fringes of the Mendip Hills sits the Castle Hamingjur, an abandoned structure most fear haunted. Yet, on the rare occasions when the Hunter’s Blue Moon occurs, the Keeper occupies this mysterious castle where he guards the bridge to Alfheim Haven.
Noreen Willshire discovers more than fairytales hidden between the pages of Beletania’s diary. She opens the ancient book and finds a pathway to a Faery Realm where all manner of mythical creatures reside. In her naïveté, she summons the Keeper before his scheduled time in the human realm. In that brief moment, the mysterious wizard touches her soul with more than magick. She promises to return the diary during Mefylleth, a time when the barriers between the two realms melt away, but danger stalks her path. Torn between her desire to make a new life for herself in America and her growing love for the Keeper, she must bridge the gap between magick and time to follow her heart.
Kage: What would the story be rated if it were a movie?
Ciara: Well, if they include the love scene, it would be rated R, but otherwise, I could see it being a PG-13 very easily. .
Kage: If you HAD to fit this story into a cliché, which one would it be?
Ciara: The Keeper of Moon Haven could easily fit into: Beauty and the Beast, Save-the-world adventure and Forbidden love. Though the world in this case is a fantasy world. It could also be a Cinderella story as the heroine is left destitute after her father dies and of course, the hero is wealthy beyond the norm because he’s a wizard.
Kage:Okay, now that we have a general idea which class to fit The Keeper of Moon Haven under, what makes this book so unique from every other book out there?
Ciara: The vehicle I use for allowing this faery world to exist is rather unique and it sets up the possibility for a whole host of books. I use the blue moon in October. The blue moon for October shows up every 19 years for the most part. Sometimes it doesn’t fit this cycle, but during the October when it does show up is when the faery realm is accessible to humans. So, that gives me the opportunity to revisit my world every nineteen years with a new and unique story.
Kage:What was the easiest part to write?
Ciara: The world or setting came easiest as I had it completely envisioned in my mind. The hero, Vin, was the most difficult to nail down just because he was rather complex.
Kage:What do you like most about the main character(s) and what do you like least? Did you learn anything from them?
Ciara: Noreen was very independent and vocal for a heroine of her time period. I liked this most about her, but at the same time, I’m not so sure she’d have kept her job if she’d acted like this for real in her time period. Vin was a rather tortured soul, but he handles it all in a humorous manner, letting nothing ruffle his feathers – literally (as he’s also able to shapeshift into animal form). Sometimes, he was a bit obstinate, but he was most heroic in the end. As always, with any character, I learned they won’t be forced into doing something just because it fits the plot. Characters are always funny about that.
Kage:Ciara, Thank you so much for stopping by today and gracing us with your presence. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to say to wrap things up?
Ciara: Just that The Keeper of Moon Haven is truly a wonderful story and that folks can read the first chapter by visiting my website; www.ciaragold.com.
Now that Ciara has totally made us want to buy her book, here is a buy link to The Keeper of Moon Haven : http://www.champagnebooks.com/
If you're still curious about Ciara, here are other places to find her on the web:
Goodreads: Ciara Gold
Amazon Author Page: Ciara Gold