Kept Darkly is book three in The Darkly Series. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from the first two books?
In Enchanted, book one, the reader is introduced to the fey race but all the action happens in the human realm. In Bound, book two, the action is split between the human realm and Tir na n’Og, the realm of the fey. I spent a great deal of time exploring the conflicts between the two fey courts and what life is like in each in Bound. I also suggested that the fey race and the struggles between the Light and Dark Court is the source material of our Arthurian Legends. Most of my writing inspiration comes from Celtic mythology and so it was easy to incorporate this idea into the books. In Kept Darkly I run with the idea by sending Sel, Riona, and Crank into Annwn, the Celtic underworld to recover Arthur—also known as the Absent King. The first mention of the Absent King occurred in Bound Darkly. In Kept Darkly, I get to reveal to the reader his ultimate fate. Of course, this quest is all just a backdrop for Sel and Riona’s love story.
Kept Darkly follows the unlikely pairing of Riona and Sel. Their relationship kept me guessing and hoping for a happy ending. What was the inspiration for their relationship?
Once again I wanted to pair the most unlikely of couples together, play with the idea of blending the two courts—light with dark—and continue the themes of trust and acceptance, of fate and choice that all my characters tend to wrestle with. In Sel, I had someone who was all about duty. He’d lived his entire life in service to his queen and her court. He’d abandoned any thoughts of having a family beyond his daughter Sinnie long before the reader meets him in book one. The mystery of who Jennifer MacKell is to Sel is a secret that must be forced out of him by Hueil. The Seelie Queen also has to force Sel to embrace life beyond her and duty to the Light Court. Sel is a character who has limited himself by choice. In contrast, Riona is a character whose limitations were forced on her by others; by her abusive father, by her tenuous position in the Unseelie Court, and the Seelie Queen’s dubious protections. How does Sel learn to embrace a larger life? And how does Riona manage to rise above her past and abuse by others to become the master of her own life’s direction? These were the questions and conflicts I had to solve while writing Kept Darkly.
This novel does a great job of describing the unique struggle between the seelie and unseelie groups. Were these groups predefined before writing, or do they develop organically while writing?
Celtic mythology provided a fairly clear idea of who and what the seelie and unseelie were, their characteristics and what the aim of each court might be. The idea of a caste system in each court developed organically as I thought about this world. And because the two courts are a mirror image of each other, what exists in one by definition must also exist in the other. At the top of the caste hierarchy are the nobles. These are elven like beings. They’re beautiful and make up most of the population at court. Then there is the warrior caste. In the Seelie Court this is represented by the queen’s guard; they’re orderly, driven by duty, and a little pompous. On the unseelie side, there’s Hueil’s caste. Unseelie warriors are an unruly lot. They love a good fight and they follow the law that the strongest always rules. The next caste in both courts is made up by the craftsmen. This group is by far the most diverse and I don’t spend much time exploring them in the books. The lesser fey make up the bottom of the fey caste system. These are the sprites, fairies, boggarts, and assorted elemental spirits that most humans think of when the term fey (fae) is used.
What can readers expect in book four of the series, Surrendered Darkly?
As I was writing the Darkly books it became apparent that alongside the mythology, the conflicts of the two courts, and the individual romances that I was recording the rise of the House of Caw, specifically of Hueil and his family’s attempts to unseat King Melwas in order to correct the perceived ills of the Unseelie Court. So, in book four I took a hard look at Neb, Hueil’s younger brother. Neb’s true talent is his ability to remain relatively unscathed while his remaining brothers scheme and fight among themselves. In the past, Hueil had always looked after Neb and I wanted to know why. In Surrendered the reader discovers that Cora and Neb had known each other in their youth and that it was the ending of that relationship that shaped them. Can you return to a past love? Can you see beyond betrayal and who they once were to the person they’ve become? And just for the fun of it I threw Neb and Cora squarely between the conflicting desires of two very different goddesses.
As the Seelie Queen’s champion and captain of her guardsmen, Sel, son of Selgi, has lived a life ruled by duty and honor. For centuries, his Queen’s wishes have dictated his every action. Not once has he questioned the legendary seer-queen’s edicts or flinched upon receiving a new mission—that is, until now. The Queen has ordered him from her side and from her court so that he might take an unseelie as his mate, fulfilling the requirements of an ancient fey law long ignored. As if that weren’t bad enough, the Queen has named the unseelie girl. It is Riona, the dark and hauntingly beautiful bastard daughter of the morally corrupt Unseelie King. What the hell could the Queen be thinking?
Riona has lived most of her life hiding from her powerful father. She is the unwanted issue of a despised king and his lusty courtesan, a political pawn her father is determined to use to his advantage. But King Melwas can’t use what he can’t find. Riona, who has grown used to betrayal in the Unseelie Court, is grateful for the timely intervention of the Seelie Queen in escaping her dreary fate—that is, until she learns that the Queen intends to reward her captain by formally binding Riona to him. She knows Sel by reputation only. He is said to be cold, unfeeling, and frighteningly powerful. He is also rumored to be desperately in love with his sovereign. There is no chance that the Queen’s most loyal defender will ever truly love her, so why, then, cannot Riona steel her heart against him?
Bound Darkly is an exciting paranormal fantasy novel. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the story?
After I finished writing Enchanted Darkly, the question of Hueil’s backstory wouldn’t leave me alone. Why was he exiled by King Melwas and how was he going to step back into a life and a world he’d been forced away from after so many years? I knew his exile and Jennifer had changed him on a fundamental level and I wanted to explore that dilemma. Sinnie’s character and the close connection to Jennifer was a secret that I also wanted to explain. Why did Jennifer, a light court halfling, make such an impression on Hueil? And how was Hueil’s courtship of Sinnie, a seelie, going to play out? All these characters were so well defined for me that Bound Darkly was one of the easiest books for me to write. For the most part, all I had to do was stand back and let the characters tell me what happened next.
What was one of the hardest parts in Bound Darkly for you to write?
The hardest parts of Bound Darkly to write were the scenes where Hueil’s self-destructive nature gets in the way of his and Sinnie’s budding romance. His doubts and inability to trust all things seelie were reoccurring obstacles for him. There were times I, like Sinnie, just wanted to slap him when his stubborn nature kicked in. But next to Crank, whose story is told in the fifth book, Hueil is my favorite Darkly Series character. His story arc is the longest in the series. He goes from being the villain in Enchanted to redeemed hero in Bound. And then in Kept Darkly, he rises to become the Unseelie king.
How did you create Sinnie and Hueil’s characters in a way that contrasted yet still supported the characters development?
Since Hueil’s character was fully formed by the time I started Bound, it was Sinnie’s character that I spent the most effort in creating. She needed to be as unusual a seelie as Hueil’s unseelie character. She also needed to be a challenge to win, on both a social and personal level. I wanted her strong enough to stand up to Hueil and a proven warrior in her own right. Someone whose skills he could learn to respect. They needed to meet as equals. I knew that a damsel in distress would never appeal to Hueil. I also wanted Sinnie’s backstory to contrast sharply with the struggles of Hueil’s unseelie life. In the end, Hueil has to learn to trust while Sinnie has to find a way to see beyond the crimes of his past, past her right and wrong thinking to a place of understanding and acceptance.
This is book two in the Darkly series. What can readers expect in book three?
Book three, Kept Darkly, is where I explore Sel’s story. From the first two books, readers know that Sel is the Seelie Queen’s captain and Sinnie’s father. But what they will discover is that the captain has secrets and suppressed longings that have been pushed aside in the name of duty to queen and the Seelie Court. I will also take the reader into one of the many god realms in book three, delve deeper into the conflicts of the fey courts, and reveal the final fate of the fabled Absent King.
Sinnie has lived a secure, uniquely privileged life in the Seelie Court of Tir na n-Og. For as long as she can remember, her doting father, Sel, son of Selgi, has been the Captain of the Queen’s Guard. She cannot imagine the dark warrior prophesied for her future by the meddling goddess Blodeuwedd. Nevertheless, Sinnie’s fate is forever sealed the day the goddess whispers the riddle into her child’s ear. He would be a warrior born of the dark, raised by the despised, and tempered by the unlikely – and he would be Sinnie’s only chance at true love.
After spending nearly a thousand years exiled in the world of men, Hueil, son of Caw, has returned to the Dark Court of the unseelie to find much has changed in his homeland. The restoration of his name and his new duties at court should have brought him satisfaction, but the many years of banishment and Jennifer Mackell have changed him. Unable to name the yearning that now plagues him, Hueil travels back to Jen’s cottage to seek answers. What he finds is Sinnie, a seelie warrior who is both fire and flame, and a woman who might very well be the death of him – if he is lucky.
Ena and her father are coping with multiple sudden changes in life as they have known it for centuries. They are giving up Ena’s younger siblings, and they are watching as the age-old practice of the pleasure dens are done away with. Nothing is as it should be in their world. When Ena is approached by Blodeuwedd, the matchmaking goddess, to run what she describes as a simple errand, Ena takes the opportunity. Little does she realize that agreeing to help Blodeuwedd will lead her to some of the most challenging moments of her life while opening her eyes to her true self.
Tarrant Smith jumps right into the action with Resurrected Darkly. From the first pages, the reader is swept into Ena’s world and given a myriad of clues as to her origins. Ena’s willingness to appease the goddess, Blodeuwedd, and venture into a strange castle alone make her an appealing character and one worth calling a favorite. Readers following Smith’s Darkly series will be pleased to see that Ena, in previous books, is the focus of this installment. As intriguing as her character is in the previous books, Ena endears herself to readers with the unique characteristics she possesses as both a dragon and fey.
I was excited to see Crank as the male focus in this book. I tend to gravitate toward secondary characters in novels, and Crank is one who caught my eye in previous books. His gruff demeanor and bluntness add an element of humor to Smith’s books. Crank, however, takes a dark turn in Resurrected Darkly. Readers will hurt for him as he faces a struggle beyond anything he has faced before. The guilt he bears is overwhelming and has grown into a burden that is almost more than he is able to bear.
Smith includes descriptions of “the enchanted” in her work; humans who have been taken into the fey realm to serve the fey. They seem to live simple lives, almost robotic, but their roles are quite complex. Ena, who has more of an affinity for the enchanted than most, shows actual emotion over the enchanted.
I found Resurrected Darkly to be the most engaging of the books in the series. The dynamic between Ena and Crank is simply enchanting. The impact that Ena, a hardened soul herself, has on the tormented Crank is just short of miraculous. I enjoyed watching the growth that took place between the two.
Smith brings together a multitude of characters from the first four books of her Darkly series as she heals one of her most engaging characters from an unspeakable trauma. Readers who enjoyed the first four Darkly books will be more than pleased with Smith’s fifth installment–a fantastic addition to the romantic fantasy series.
Pages:282 | ASIN: B07NMKM7CH
Cora, not part of the upper crust of society, is considered a low ranking fey. A handmaiden with an iron-clad memory, Cora has not forgotten Neb and the hurt he caused her in the past. Neb is as unseelie as he is unsavory in Cora’s mind, but he has other plans for the two of them–plans over which he has no control. While a romance is the furthest thing from Cora’s mind, she has no way of knowing that Neb will be the one to make plans for so very much more than a fleeting romance. Neb is about to change the course for both their lives no matter what it may take.
Tarrant Smith has added yet another colorful book to her Darkly series. Surrendered Darkly follows Cora and Neb on their journey back to one another and along a tumultuous and unlikely courtship. Cora is a strong-willed fey with a mind of her own, and Neb is determined to figure out why he feels so drawn to Cora, a woman he is convinced he should remember.
Blue, a mother figure to Cora and a goddess in her own right, is a truly interesting character. She has many layers Smith reveals throughout the book. Perhaps Blue’s most striking characteristic is her tendency to mother over Cora. As with all of Smith’s characters, I am always amazed and somewhat taken aback by their appearances in human forms. Sometimes I feel as if I am reading two different books.
Smith shows readers a little more of the reactions given by mortals. When Neb finds himself in town, readers are able to witness along with Neb the reactions of the humans around them when Neb isn’t quite in his full human form. It’s refreshing to see that the mortals around the seelie and unseelie are not totally oblivious to them. I find that adds a nice layer of believability to the fantasy being woven by Smith.
Of the Darkly books, I find this one to be the most steeped in romance though it lacks the frequent love scenes. The basis of this installment is the relationship, or lack thereof, between Neb and Cora. The entire plot centers around deep feelings taking over Neb and how he will deal with them. Cora, on the other hand, has a battle to wage within herself as she faces Neb a second time following her previous heartache. Readers who are fond of deep-seated romances will enjoy this fourth book in the series.
I am always intrigued by Smith’s abilities to write characters who are tied together emotionally and by their abilities.
From the first page, this romantic fantasy engages readers with the lives of colorful characters and explores realms via two headstrong main characters, Neb and Cora. Theirs is a story fans of romance won’t want to miss.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B005ZWIIWK
Hiding far from her father, Riona never believed her life of isolation could change, much less change so drastically. For years, she has remained under the protection of the Seelie Queen and existed as a blemish on the face of her people. Riona knows her place and understands that she, for many reasons, must remain in hiding. When Riona, also known as Molly, is snatched from her home and finds herself assigned as the mate of the queen’s captain, Sel, she is more than baffled at her new station in life. Riona can’t help but wonder, and worry, what this actually means for her future.
Kept Darkly, the third book in the Darkly series by Tarrant Smith follows the unlikely pairing of Riona and Sel. Riona, by all rights, is far below Sel’s station in life and is painfully aware of the love he is said to have for the Seelie Queen. Smith’s decision to match Riona and Sel makes for an interesting plot that keeps the reader guessing as to the ultimate outcome–and hoping for a happy ending for the oppressed Riona.
I am always amazed at Smith’s character descriptions. Gloric is a prime example. An unseelie and questionable character all on his own, he is capable of metamorphosis. Smith draws a detailed picture of Gloric’s complete transformation in front of Riona. These types of scenes are definitely worth a reread and one of the hallmarks of Smith’s installments in the Darkly series. In addition, I was quite intrigued at the way in which Smith incorporates shapeshifting as one of Riona’s characteristics.
In the previous Darkly book, Smith provides readers with moments of comic relief, and Kept Darkly delivers the same. These brief scenes are welcome as the overall theme of the book is primarily thoughtful and brooding. With this installment, it’s not so much the dialogue that makes for the moments of comic relief but the images conjured by Smith’s narrative. I was particularly drawn to the levity created during the interactions between Sel and the sprite, Urias.
Smith’s characters are fascinating on many levels. Crank is easily my favorite of all Smith’s characters–I am partial to the unseelie. He is a no-holds-barred type of guy who says exactly what he means and has no problem making himself clear to anyone fortunate enough to listen to his tales. As with the metamorphosis of Gloric, I was impressed with the transfer of energy that takes place between Riona and Sel. What appears as a hopeless situation for Riona is suddenly turned around with minimal effort on Sel’s part.
Smith’s writing is beautifully descriptive and rich with character development. Readers following the series will enjoy getting to know Sel and watching his relationship with Riona bloom. The better part of book 3 feels dedicated to developing character relationships and describing the unique struggle between the seelie and unseelie groups, and fans of fantasy romance will find Smith’s work particularly fascinating.
Pages: 334 | ASIN: B004XWJ8TK
Seeing is believing… most of the time. In the case of Sinnie, to see her one would never believe that she is a fairy. For all intents and purposes, Sinnie is strong-willed, highly-trained, woman of confidence and skills. Descending from the Captain of the Queen’s Guard himself, Sinnie has everything she could possibly want and knows where she is headed in life–but something is missing. Much to her family and friends’ chagrin, that something is an unseelie, one of the darkest members of the fairy world. Sinnie’s heart knows what it wants and, unfortunately, her heart wants Hueil.
Bound Darkly, the second in the Darkly series by Tarrant Smith, primarily follows Sinnie, a strong woman and fairy–one of the seelie clan. Sinnie, though a fairy, is battling many of the same feelings as any mortal when it comes to love. She knows what she wants, but is leery of pursuing it for fear of the reactions of others. Like many a mortal woman, Sinnie is attracted to the rebel–the bad boy–and Hueil is, without a doubt, one of the worst. Their story more than makes the book a worthwhile read. The chemistry between the two and the true feelings of love experienced by Hueil are raw and relatable.
Hueil is a well-developed character and appealing in all the wrong ways. Readers will love to hate him and likely grow to understand very quickly Sinnie’s attraction to him as the bad boy. Smith goes to great lengths to make Hueil as colorful as possible and details everything from his exploits to his determination to have Sinnie and to do the job with which he has been tasked.
Jen, another fairy but not Smith’s main focus in this installment, possesses a unique ability that I found to be quite captivating. The emotional shielding Jen is able to demonstrate is an amazing facet of her personality and life as a fairy. Though it is draining and taxing, watching her put it into play is fascinating.
In my opinion, Bound Darkly easily fits into two genres. It is clearly a beautifully crafted work of fantasy with the fairy realm as its primary focus. Warriors and fairies alike have the most unique and stunning powers. Their abilities keep the pace of the book moving and the amount of action in the book is perfect when compared with some books that seem to be overfilled with such scenes. In addition, Smith gives her characters a fair amount of romantic encounters and is especially explicit in detailing their escapades.
Smith has succeeded in offering readers a sequel to Book 1 that is easy to follow for those new to the series. I highly recommend Smith’s second book in the Darkly series to any reader who seeks books with a combination of fantasy and romance.
Pages: 338 | ASIN: B0041OSG66
The Love of Gods is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, supernatural, and mystery as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Actually, I initially was trying to write a mystery with a hint of a simmering romance which I hoped would span several books, but I discovered pretty early on that I am a romance writer and not a mystery writer. So, I tossed my first draft and started over.
Lugos and Keely are interesting and well defined characters. What were some ideas that were important for you to capture in their characters?
Lugos is based on two different Celtic gods which gave me a place to start. I immediately understood who he was, what would be important to him, and a good portion of his backstory from the very beginning. And so from that jumping off point, he became a vivid character in my mind. I wanted him to value his intellect over his brawn. I also him to value humanity over his own kin. As for Keely, her southern sass is based on a waitress I know, and the awful taste in men is a nod to a dear friend of mine. Because Lugos is an immortal, I wanted Keely to have a resilient and courageous nature so that Lugos’s god-ness didn’t overpower the relationship. Even though she’s a mortal, Keely had to be his equal in many ways otherwise the relationship wouldn’t work.
I loved the backstory and world building in this novel. What were some sources of inspiration for you while creating this story?
I spend a lot of my time researching various myths and much of the characters’ backstories are tied to my understanding of those myths. The various gods in The Love of Gods all have their own histories in Celtic mythology and I drew from these. The shifter and witch communities have rich literary traditions that gave me a direction, a roadmap, of how they might respond if the world of the Pale truly existed.
This is book one in The Legends of Pale series. Where will book two take readers and when will it be available?
I’m happy to say that I am hard at work on several books in this series. The Fate of Wolves is the next book and will be out near Christmas this year. I have already finished book three, The Dreams of Demons, and if all goes to plan I’ll release it in spring 2020. I’m currently writing the fourth book, The Souls of Witches and I’m absolutely in love with the main characters. But then, that’s how it is with each book I write.
Lugos had given his word when the world was still young, before he’d endured the wrenching pain of her soul being torn from his. Lifetime after lifetime she’d returned when he’d needed her most, when the apathy of his kind had eaten away at his resolve and his heartfelt vow seemed pointless. One would think he’d be able to protect a single mortal, after all, he was a god. But two long centuries had passed since he’d held her, since he’d been whole. Now, she was back and Lugos had a decision to make; claim the only woman he’d ever loved, or deny his soul’s deepest craving and grant Keely a chance at a peaceful life without the dangers that populated his world. For five years, Lugos had chosen the latter with the hope that the fates might overlook them this time. That was still his plan when the goddess Rhiannon called seeking his help. Lugos should have known better.
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The Love of Gods, written by Tarrant Smith is the first book in the paranormal romance series, The Legends of the Pale.
The story is an intriguing combination of a murder mystery and love story. As with any good romance, the story has a masculine hero – Lugos. Despite being a god, Lugos prefers the company of humans. Whilst Lugo is investigating the death of a high-ranking witch his relationship with Keely Ann Lee, a Southern bar tender develops from a simple friendship into romance. Unbeknownst to Keely, Lugos has loved her over several different lifetimes. This time, he will do all he can to protect this mere mortal.
The story is set in Pale, which are a group of supernatural communities, but the characters are spread over different physical locations including Ireland and America.
There is a large and daunting cast of characters, which appear and disappear throughout the book. The author provides a comprehensive character list at the beginning, which is appreciated, but flipping back and forth gets a bit disruptive. The number of characters is further complicated by the fact that these are paranormal characters such as demons, witches, gods, shifters, demigoddesses and familiars. Each character has their own special powers as well as personality and location. That said, it did not take long to get my head around the number of characters and any fan of epic expansive fantasy novels will appreciate the intricate backstory that Tarrant Smith ha created.
Interwoven into the story are both paranormal and human experiences. Characters constantly move from using human technology such as cell phones, luxury cars, classic cars, security systems and Google maps to teleportation and shape shifting. They move from the mundane such as using passports to shifting from human form to animal form. This adds interest and intrigue and ensures the story is fast moving.
The dialogue between characters is rich and realistic and enhances the relationship between characters. The tale is also enhanced with some interesting metaphors, for example, Keely is described at one point as “a puddle of need”; which is my new favorite phrase.
The Love of Gods is a well written story. The dialogue is engrossing and most of the characters and their loyalties are intricate but explained in depth. Both the love story and the mystery will keep you guessing until the end.
Pages: 268 | ASIN: B07PWB8V36
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