|Regan Black, Author|
Thanks so much for having me here today, Caroline!
THE MATCHMAKER’S MARK came about for a couple of reasons. First, I needed a break from the darker Shadows of Justice novels. I love my 2096 Chicago and the characters in that series are like family, but it can get a little tiring saving the world from evil plots day in and day out. So I gave both that cast and myself a little breather. And secondly, my pals at the local retired greyhound group were encouraging me to get a greyhound into one of my novels. That happened a bit differently than I expected, but it was tons of fun.
Of course, being me, there had to be a paranormal element too, but it has a fun feel in this series. Here's the quick overview: When you're 'more' than human, finding your soulmate isn't as easy as answering a few questions online. It's best to track down Campbell Consulting, a.k.a. the Matchmaker.
In Charleston, South Carolina half-elf Lily has a birthmark her elders vow is a mystical promise of true love. So far she's yet to encounter Mr. Right in either the elf or human realms.
Dare, a wood elf, has led the Matchmaker's security team for years. In town on a simple errand, when the Matchmaker disappears his future is turned inside out.
And Amy Campbell is a completely human English professor about to discover the true magic of the family business...
My marketing team and I joked that I should use the name Regan Gray on these books, because they were so much different than the other series.
|Unitarian Church Yard|
Plus, Charleston has its share of ghosts and legends. In THE MATCHMAKER'S MARK, Amy - in one of her first acts as the Matchmaker - converses with the Lady who haunts the Unitarian Churchyard. That ghost is considered the most frequently sighted in the city and I guarantee you, whether you see her or not, the Unitarian Churchyard is spooky with a capital "spook" at night. Especially with an excellent guide telling you tales...
In the following excerpt from THE MATCHMAKER’S MARK, Amy, her greyhound, and Dare, the bodyguard for the former Matchmaker, are taking a rest in the Unitarian Churchyard:
"Hold Guinness' leash, please."
She pushed it into his hand and he opened his eyes to a scene straight from one of Camille's stories.
His years in her service meant many of the nights they only had each other for conversation and they'd swapped tales of family and legends. Dare had never seen spirit magic first hand, but he recognized it now. Amy had moved from his side and stood surrounded by pale figures, translucent and lit from within.
As he watched, her lips and hands moved as if she was conversing with old friends, but no sound reached his ears.
His breath backed up in his chest as the air snapped cold and brittle around him. The tree, with its sturdy, reassuring presence, the relaxed dog at his side, and his dedication to Camille kept him from melting into the bark. Escape wasn't appropriate, but neither was defense. Amy didn't seem to be in any trouble, but he wasn't sure he'd know if she were.
He shifted, became the target of a particularly intimidating ghostly gaze and decided to stay put while his mind puzzled out how to get her out of here.
Amy listened with her heart more than her ears, and ignored the cold air turning her every exhalation into a small cloud. She accepted she was talking with the dead, though this sort of communication wasn't precisely verbal.
But they were communicating.
She couldn't label the act, couldn't point to the time when she'd learned how to do whatever it was she was doing. At the moment she just listened, which seemed to be the primary concern of the ghosts surrounding her.
They knew they were dead, a fact which busted a great many myths Hollywood purported. Three out of the four ghosts didn't even mind the current suspended existence. The last one to join the conversation was most irritable with his family for ignoring his demise.
She wasn't sure what she could possibly do to help him, so she let him rant for a bit before another member of the group cut him off.
"That is enough. I must speak!" The female ghost was elegantly attired and her eyes were direct and a bit disapproving. Her statement earned her no respect.
"It's always about you," the others grumbled unanimously as they drifted their separate ways.
But in Amy's heart, the source of her connection to them, she felt such sudden, deep longing she clutched her chest. She saw it all, the woman alive and so in love, then crushed and devastated when her husband was lost to her.
"He should be here," the woman said. "He should be here with me."
The woman's loneliness was a tangible force winding through the air, raising goose bumps on Amy's skin. Instinctively, she reached out, but something bumped her legs – Guinness – and Dare hooked her with an around her waist.
"No!" Amy struggled, but couldn't twist free. She knew what the ghost needed. She could help if Dare would just let her do it.
With a look of utter contempt, the ghost moved away, skirts swirling behind her as she moved through headstones, iron, and air with equal ease.
Amy slumped, lurching free when Dare's arm went slack.
"Here!" It took her longer as she was flesh and blood, but she navigated the obstacles in the dark, stopping near the obelisk where the elegant ghost had disappeared. She extended her hand once more. "I can show you where he waits."
She heard Dare's footsteps on the path and willed the ghost to act quickly.
Her ears buzzed as ghostly fingertips brushed her own in an ethereal touch totally absent of heat. In that odd connection, she spoke with images more than words, so the two could be united at last. An immense love buoyed her heart as the tiniest bit of relief rippled out of her like a pebble dropped in a pond.
"Godspeed," she whispered into the peaceful stillness in the air.
Dare felt something too. Something closer to rage than peace, but he couldn't put it into words. The warmth and comfort he'd enjoyed in this churchyard had turned to cold ash. She'd endangered herself, endangered an entire balancing force of the non-human realms. For what? A ghost?
"What was that?" he demanded, his brutal voice shattering the quiet around her.
"Helping." Amy sighed and turned, snapping her fingers for the greyhound's attention. Her expression: part satisfaction, part serenity, and all wistful, took the leading edge off his anger.
"You can't help all of them. It's best to stick with the ones still living. She had a place here."
"The wrong place. She and her love, her husband were an odd, but perfect match. She came South with him, to a life as foreign to her as another country. He left, had to leave her for some business.
"They died on the same day. The same day, Dare! I'm not sure how I know, but they were so close, so perfect together. They were two halves of one whole that neither could live – literally – without the other. Here, alone, she was heartbroken. I could fix it."
"They had their chance in life."
"So they don't deserve a blissful eternity in death?" She tsked at him. "His body has never been returned here to the family plot. I know that much from the tour guides. But as the 'Matchmaker'," she used air quotes, "I felt how he pines for her too.”
"I could fix it, Dare," she repeated, winding down. "They were the perfect love match. Isn't that what the Matchmaker's all about?"
Not even close.
You can pick up THE MATCHMAKER'S MARK at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite ebook retailer. I'm thrilled to say THE MATCHMAKER'S CURSE, book two in the series, is due out at the end of April. In the meantime, you can read more about this series and my other books at www.ReganBlack.com. We have an active community there through my monthly newsletter and on my Facebook fan page. I hope you'll join the fun.
Regan, thanks for sharing THE MATCHMAKER'S MARK with us. I've added it to my Kindle and look forward to next month's release of THE MATCHMAKER'S CURSE.
Readers, thanks for stopping by!