QSFers Anne Barwell And Lou Sylvre have a new MM historical fantasy book out: “The Harp and the Sea.”
In 1605, Robbie Elliot—a Reiver and musician from the Scottish borders—nearly went to the gallows. The Witch of the Hermitage saved him with a ruse, but weeks later, she cursed him to an ethereal existence in the sea. He has seven chances to come alive, come ashore, and find true love. For over a century, Robbie’s been lost to that magic; six times love has failed. When he washes ashore on the Isle of Skye in 1745, he’s arrived at his last chance at love, his last chance at life.
Highland warrior Ian MacDonald came to Skye for loyalty and rebellion. He’s lost once at love, and stands as an outsider in his own clan. When Ian’s uncle and laird sends him to lonely Skye to hide and protect treasure meant for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s coffers, he resigns himself to a solitary life—his only companion the eternal sea. Lonely doldrums transform into romance and mystery when the tide brings beautiful Robbie Elliot and his broken harp ashore.
A curse dogs them, enemies hunt them, and war looms over their lives. Robbie and Ian will fight with love, will, and the sword. But without the help of magic and ancient gods, will it be enough to win them a future together?
The music called to Ian, touched him. It seemed to caress him inside. Ian bit down on his lip to stop himself moaning aloud. It took hold of him, and he was caught by its sweet melancholy, a melody that stopped all too soon, its song incomplete, much like Ian himself.
He seemed to know the tune, or rather it knew him, yet he’d never heard it before in his life.
Then, just as suddenly, it was gone.
He took a step forward, shaking himself mentally, trying to clear the fog from his mind. The man before him glanced away, his grip still firm on the harp. Probably a good thing, as Ian wasn’t sure he could have broken the gaze between them. To his embarrassment, his cock hardened under his sporran. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, trying to centre himself, and ignore his reaction.
First the song, then the man. What kind of witchcraft was this?
“It sang,” Ian whispered, half to himself. But how was that possible? Its strings might be still there, but apart from the couple he’d plucked when he’d found it, most had come away from the instrument. They flowed loosely from it like strands of seaweed, or hair.
“Aye,” said the man. He grinned. “You heard it too, then?”
“Aye, that I did.” Ian swallowed, forcing himself to focus. By all that was good, this man was beautiful, more so this close. What he wouldn’t give to run his fingers through that long blond hair, if only to brush the locks from his face.
Another step forward, and he shivered.
Whatever this feeling was, he couldn’t give in to it, however much it called to him. He was on Skye for a reason. The task was an important one for the cause. His clan depended on him; he’d taken an oath to see it through no matter what. He would not betray that trust.
Ian came back to himself with a start. He drew his sword. “Who are ye, lad, and what’s your business here?”
“I beg your pardon, sir, I mean no harm. You found my harp, and for that, I thank you.”
The man spoke softly, but Ian heard his words clearly. His voice was deeper than Ian expected. This was no lad, but a full-grown man, probably not much younger than Ian.
“Your harp?” Ian cocked an eyebrow. “I think not. It’s an auld thing, of the sea.” His eyes narrowed. “I’m thinking ye stole it from my cottage, stole it while I slept!”
“It is of the sea, aye,” the man said, “but I swear I’m telling the truth when I say it’s mine.” He didn’t loosen his grip on the thing. “I’m Robbie. Robbie Elliot. Are you the chieftain of those who dwell here?”
Ian couldn’t help but laugh at the idea. He sheathed his sword, hoping he wasn’t making a mistake in doing so. His gut told him Robbie wasn’t a threat.
“A chieftain? Nae, lad, I’m but a loyal clansman.” He inclined his head in greeting. “My name is Ian MacDonald, and this isle is my home, at least for now.”
Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and likes to conjure it into books. The sweethearts on her pages are men who end up loving each other—and usually saving each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very, very sexy. As if you’d want to know more, she’ll happily tell you that she is a proudly bisexual woman—a mother, grandmother, lover of languages, and cat-herder—of mixed cultural heritage. She works closely with lead cat and writing assistant, the (male) Queen of Budapest, Boudreau St. Clair. She lives in the rainy part of the Pacific Northwest, and hearing from a reader unfailingly brightens the dreary weather.
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with Kaylee: a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning.
In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers, and a member of RWNZ.
Anne’s books have received honourable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.
Joint FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/