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fantasy romance

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Where Light Meets Shadow, by Shawna Reppert

I’ve had fellow Here Be Magic and NIWA member Shawna Reppert on Boosting the Signal before, with her book Raven’s Wing. Shawna’s got a new release out, the m/m fantasy Where Light Meets Shadow, chock full of things which are Highly Relevant to My Interests: music, elves, and queer-friendly fiction! Because I mean honestly, a fantasy novel involving a romance between elven bards? It might as well be subtitled Put This In Anna’s Eyes Now. And if you’re in the same boat with me, meet her hero Kieran, whose goal is nothing less than the saving of his people through song. Sign me up.


Where Light Meets Shadow

Where Light Meets Shadow

Those not rude enough to say it to my face are saying it behind my back. Crazy Kieran is going to get himself killed for sure this time. He thinks he’s the bard his father was, off on some fool quest for what? A new tune? A new song? What difference can that make to anyone?

The thing is, they’re wrong. Not the part about me getting myself killed. Time will tell with that, although I can hope they are wrong. And if not? Maybe I think it’s a fair risk, gambling on joining a little sooner my father and mother and my brother never born in whatever lies after this life. If I die like my father did, in service of our people, I can only consider it a death well met.

And here Dermot or Cuin would roll their eyes and tell me I’ve sung too many ballads and now fancy myself the hero. Brona would frown and say that I must put a higher value on my life. I have no death wish; I wish I could convince her of that. Life is too full of song and story and pleasures to leave it early except in a good cause.

But as for the rest, I am very much aware that I am not the bard that my father was. Perhaps, in the fullness of time and under his tutelage, I might have become so. We’ll never know, will we? The murdering, oathbreaking Leas have seen to that.

As to what difference a tune can make, perhaps no difference at all. Perhaps all the difference in the world. I have called rain down with a tune—accidentally, it’s true, but still it proves that music has power. My father, it is said, could bolster the failing courage of armies with a song.

Something must save our people. We have been dwindling since or defeat by the Leas. We all see it, though no one wants to talk about it. The hunters go out less often and bring back less game. Each harvest is a little bit more disappointing than the last. The old feasts and festivals are no longer celebrated, out of deference to the queen, it is said, although the truth is that none of us have the heart for it.

Maybe new tunes and new songs will revitalize our people. Maybe—and this is a hope I share with none, since it sounds mad indeed, maybe I can find the forgotten healing magic of the bards of legend. Maybe I can wake our queen from her long stupor and save us all.

Maybe I’m not the bard my father was, but I may be all the hope that we have.


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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: A Rational Arrangement, by L. Rowyn

L. Rowyn’s A Rational Arrangement came to my attention because a long-time online pal of mine actually did the layout and design for the book–and if that weren’t enough, the genre description of “polyamorous fantasy romance” ALSO seized my attention. So I reached out to the author to invite her to send me a piece about her book, and today, I’m pleased to feature that piece. Rowyn reports, re: her character goal: “I opted to elaborate on an aspect of one of my protagonist’s goals that I’d never explicitly addressed in the novel. Wisteria’s society assumes that all women want children, so few would bother to question her when she says she does. But her brother is curious.” So here it is, y’all, enjoy!


A Rational Arrangement

A Rational Arrangement

“Why do you want to get married, anyway?” Byron asked.

Wisteria looked up from the pages of dossiers and notes on suitable possible matches spread across her desk. “Good morning, Byron.”

“I understand why you don’t want to live with Mother and Father, given all the grief they give you. But a husband’s liable to give you as much grief. If not more. Trading the devil you know for a different one.” Her brother lounged against one of the stately bookcases of her office. Byron looked like her: tall and rangy, with a long face and dark wavy hair, his golden-brown skin a shade or two darker than her own.

She leaned against the high back of her chair. “I need a husband in order to have children.” Wisteria paused, then added, “Granted, I do not technically need a husband for that. But it would work rather better with one, I daresay.”

Byron made a face at her, exaggerated enough for her to notice. “So why do you want children, then?”

“Isn’t that normal? I thought this was one area where my thoughts were perfectly ordinary and in keeping with convention.”

Her brother grunted. “Maybe. But you don’t do anything just because everyone else does it. You’ve a reason. A whole pack of reasons.”

Amused, Wisteria conceded the point with a nod. “I like children. Do you remember how sweet David and Mitchell were when they were little?”

“What, our little brothers? Sweet? Are you talking about a different set of boys?”

“Yes, our little brothers. They’re at an awkward age now, true, but when they were small, they’d spend hours sitting in my lap and listening to me read. The same stories, over and over again. They were marvelously easy to please: all one needed to do was pay attention to them and they were all appreciation.”

“You and I have vastly different definitions of ‘easy to please’, Teeri.”

“Perhaps. But I enjoy the honesty of children, too. They say what they think instead of following the arcane rules of the guessing-games adults play at and that I don’t understand. It’s more than about appreciating children, though. People are fascinating: the most interesting, lively, pleasing and entrancing parts of Paradise are the people in it and the things they have made and shaped. I love people. The thought that I, with the assistance of a husband, can actually make a person is nothing sort of miraculous.”

Byron folded his arms over his chest. “Anyone can have a child. World’s full of them.”

“Being work that anyone can do does not make it less valuable, or less miraculous. Besides, whatever future children I might have will be unique individuals. Whether they turn out to be cruel or kind, indifferent or caring, easy-going or belligerent, it is sure that no one else in Paradise will be quite like them. My children are people that only I can make, just as our parents are the only people who could have made us. It is the most basic truth of life, and yet the most amazing one. How improbable, how unlikely we all are! And yet here we are.”

Byron stepped forward to lean against her desk, spinning one of the folders about to look at the documents inside. “But you can do so much more than just breed, Teeri. Things no one else can do. You’ve an eye for evaluating risks, analyzing deals, better than anyone else I’ve seen.”

“I do not plan to stop doing those things,” Wisteria said. “More slowly, perhaps. I do enjoy my work at Vasilver Trading, but it’s not the only thing I want to do with my life. And bearing and raising my children is also something only I can do. People are not like a bolt of ivysilk or a wintertater. Children are not interchangeable. No one else can do this for me. And I want to do it.”

Byron grunted again. “Guess that’s a pretty good reason.”

“Thank you, Byron. I am glad you approve.” She reclaimed the folder from his hand.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to imply you needed my permission.”

Wisteria patted his arm. “I know,” she said, and returned to her research.


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