The Count’s Lair
by Stephanie Burkhart
Count Anton Varga is haunted by the curse of the moon. It tugs on his emotions, ravishing his soul. Anton abhors the beast he must learn to tame if he is to find peace.
Lady Amelia Andrassy is an accomplished pianist, but her life in Budapest has been filled with heartache. When Amelia faints in the Duma's bookstore, it's Anton's strong arms that cradle her fall. His unusual eyes spark with hers, replacing their individual loneliness with the promise of feral passion.
After a two-month separation, Anton is ready to walk into Amelia's life again, but is Amelia ready to fan the spark they shared into a flame?
"Amelia, to be honest about my intentions, I want to court you."
"Court me?" She stepped back.
He grabbed her wrist, as if desperate to keep her near him. His eyes impaled her, making her breathless. Was it too soon to think of always and forever with him? Had he really changed? Her heart believed so. Now, she just had to convince her head.
"I have no one to ask for permission, but you. Search your heart. I care for you deeply. I want to explore this, Amelia, but only if you do. I swear I'm ready for this."
Her lips trembled as she stepped forward, moved by the conviction in his voice. Dare she fall in love again? The chance was worth it. "Yes."
"Thank you." He wrapped his arms around her, infusing her with his warmth. She melted against the length of his body, savoring the contact. It felt right.
He parted from her, placed his hands on her upper arms, and looked at her. "The feelings I have when I'm near you are nothing like I've had before, but--"
"Go on." She prompted when he delayed too long.
"But I have a secret, too -- a secret that chokes me when I think of telling you."
"Anton--" A secret?
He held up his hand. "Let me finish. I promise to tell you, but I can't right now. I can only
give you clues." "Really?"
"You must accept this, Amelia. I know it may be unusual, but it's the only way I can think of to be honest with you."
Taken off guard, she faced him. Anton's full lips and smoldering eyes riveted her to him. In fact, his looks were everything she was attracted to in a man, but it all came down to trust. Could she trust him? If she said yes to him right now, then she was giving him her trust, which included his secret.
"How many clues do you have?"
"Three. Once you know my secret, if you want to break our courtship, you can. I'll understand."
Her body shivered. Was his secret dangerous? Even if it was, did she care? A part of her just wanted to throw herself into his arms and let come what may. Another part of her told her to keep her feet firmly on the ground.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. She served 11 years in the US Army and currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate and is addicted to coffee. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children's books published with 4RV Publishing.
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Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/budapest-moon-book-two-the-counts-lair-stephanie-burkhart/1029218357?ean=9781612529509
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There are several things I really like about The Count's Lair. First, the book's setting is in Budapest, and I've never read anything set in Budapest. The author didn't bore with long descriptions, but she was able with a few well-placed paragraphs to set the stage beautifully.
Second, I love the way she wove history and fantasy into one seamless blend. I think she caught the historical flavor of the times very well, and at the same time, she gave her heroine an independent spirit that made her a worthy consort for the count.
Third, I liked the count. He's a complicated man with a secret that may destroy his hope of a future with Amelia, but he loves her so much he shares the unsharable with her in hopes of winning her heart. He was willing to give his life for her if needs be, and I loved that about him. I don't know if you know the count's secret or not, so I won't share, but it's big.
Fourth, the count's adopted gypsy family are great secondary characters. They've got his back and helped him do some things he couldn't do for himself.
My only complaint is that the book ended too soon, but I think the third book in the series is on the way, so I'll have to wait and see what happens next.
Well done, Stephanie Burkhart. I'll give you a 5 out of 5 on this one.