Blog Tour with Review – The Black Swans – A Tale of the Antrim Cycle by N.W. Moors

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The Black Swans cover new

Genres: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

ISBN: 978-0692397602

Book Length: 280 pgs

Publisher: Sunday Morning Publishing

~ Synopsis ~

Taisie MacDonnell loves Celtic music and when a traditional Irish group moves to her small town of Antrim, Maine, she’s thrilled. She has no idea that becoming involved with Conn McLaren, the handsome pipe player will enmesh her in magic, a centuries-old enchantment and pursuit by the Fae.
This is a modern retelling of the Irish story “The Children of Lir.”

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~ Excerpt ~

Chapter One
“Maybe I should put some lime green color on the other side, to contrast with the magenta.” Nola had pulled the rear view mirror over to the passenger side, her long black hair pulled down in front of her face. She was peeking through the strands over her eyes, studying herself in the dim light of the dashboard.

She tilted her head to the side, then pulled hair from each side of her head and held it out in front of her. The hair on the right side of her head had swathes of purple. “What do you think?” she asked, studying him from under her hair.

Owen had been driving the van for five hours without any breaks. The way from Montreal was mostly highway, but
once he crossed into the United States, he was on two lane roads that climbed up and down mountains and were
lined by thick brush and trees, occasionally marked by small towns and farms. He was mostly following the white line marking the middle of the road at this point, just trying to make it to his destination, and wasn’t paying all that much attention to what Nola was saying to him.

Nola squinted and frowned at Owen, then tried again. “Hmm, I wonder if I cut my hair like Finn’s….” This time she got his attention. He looked over at her, just in time to catch the grin as she swept her hair back behind her ears.

“I don’t believe it would look as good on you as that hair cut does on Finn, but, hey, if it’s what you want, go for it,” Owen played along. Nola grunted and pushed the rear view mirror back over to an approximation of where it should be.

Owen reached up and positioned the mirror in place again. He used it to look in the back seat to where Finn sat, headset in his ears, listening to his iPod, his head bouncing to the music. His hair was a mess of colors and stuck up in short spikes. While it was a hairstyle that worked for Finn, Nola would definitely not be cutting her hair like her brother, not if Owen had anything to say about it. He liked her hair long and silky way too much.

There was a street light blinking up ahead and Owen braked, gradually slowing the van. They were approaching another small town or maybe it was just a crossroads. This one looked like it was a gas station combined with a dilapidated general store. Owen glanced down at the dashboard. There was about half a tank of gasoline left according to the gauge. And it was a good thing he didn’t need gas because the station was closed up tight. No one seemed to be around, just a dim light in the store and a crooked “Closed” sign on the front door. The only thing in the parking lot was a rusty pickup truck, parked over on the edge of the asphalt. He wheeled in anyway and stopped the van in front of the pump.

“I need to stretch a minute,” he announced and turned off the key.

Heads popped up in the back seat. “What are we doing?” said Finn who couldn’t hear Owen over the music from his iPod. Conn, who was sitting next to his twin in the middle seat, pulled his earphones off, mussing his long hair, and waited patiently, looking around the dimly lit parking area. He had been working on his laptop, probably on an arrangement for one of their songs, Owen guessed. There was no sign of Hugh who had been stretched out sleeping in the bench seat in the very back of the van.

“I need to get out and walk around a little,” Owen restated. “And I want to check the trailer.” Nola had already opened her door and was standing on

the pavement, stretching her arms over her head, getting the kinks out of her back.

Owen got out, headed around the back of the building and stepped back into the trees. He was joined by the rest of the lads, Hugh wandering back last. He must have woken up with the slamming of the doors. It had been a long ride with no stops and Owen had drunk at least three cups of coffee out of the thermos jug that Nola kept in the front seat for him.

Once they had finished their business, Conn and Owen went back out front to check on the trailer. Owen crouched down and looked under the frame while Conn pushed on the tires. The rig looked fine. The trailer wasn’t very heavy, loaded mostly with sound equipment and camping supplies. Their instruments and personal items were in the way back of the van. Nola wandered out from the other side of the garage where she had gone to find a bit of privacy away from the guys.

“How much further is it to the pub?” Conn asked.

“I think that we have a couple more hours to go. It’s going to be late when we get there,” Owen answered. Nola came over and wrapped her arms around Owen’s waist, snuggling under the denim jean jacket he wore. He stood there, resting his chin on her head, while she rubbed the lower part of his back, pulling up his tee shirt to get at his stiff muscles.

“Does that feel better?” she murmured.

“Hmmm,” Owen responded. Finn and Hugh had joined them and he watched them push at each other, Finn poking at his older brother. They were both pretty muscular and they worked out when they could, so they were both in good shape and more muscular than Conn who was more of a lean, wiry build. Hugh was trying to hook a leg behind Finn’s ankle to pull him down.

Soon they would be on the ground wrestling like a pair of puppies, using up some of the energy reserved from hours in the van. At times like this Owen felt as if he was chaperoning a group of high school boys, who were trying to impress a group of cheerleaders on the other side of the quad.

Nola twisted around to see what her brothers were doing, managing to entwine Owen’s arms over her shoulders at the same time. “Stop that, you heathens.” She didn’t sound as if she really meant it, especially as she yawned.

Conn snorted. “You’d do better to give them a whack on the skull or pull on their ears if you really want them to listen
to you.” He had pulled out a whistle and was fingering a tune silently. Conn was often fingering one of his pipes or whistles soundlessly, not blowing into them, but seemingly unable to keep his long fingers still for very long. “So, what’s the plan when we get there?” he asked, looking up at Owen.

“We roust Jackie and he’ll show us to our lodgings.” Owen said. “He said that he has a cabin set back by the lake where we can stay. If we like the look of the place, he’s offered to let us settle there for the summer. In return we play the pub four nights a week. He’ll give us part of the gate and we can sell CDs and shirts.” Owen shrugged. “Jackie says it’s on a main tourist route and he gets a lot of custom through.”

Conn nodded. They all trusted Owen to make the decisions for the band.

Owen acted as the manager, sound man, sold their merchandise, and also handled bookings. He had been with the band for several years, ever since he and Nola had become a couple and they all had utmost confidence in the arrangements he made for them. The lads were very protective of their sister and Owen had proven over and over that he only wanted the best for Nola and her brothers. Conn watched as Owen snuggled against Nola’s neck, her head tipped forward and a sleepy smile on her face, and he felt a pang in his chest. He shook it off, rubbing it away absently with the hand holding the small flute.

“And what about the fair if we need to play at the pub?” Conn asked. The band was due to play three nights at the Cumberland Arts Fair over the coming weekend. It was always a good gig, a place to meet up with old friends and fans. Usually, they played the Traditional stage, but this year on Friday night Owen had arranged for them to play in the Main Tent which was a big promotion for the group. There should be a good crowd, if the weather held fine, and there was always the potential to make some new fans among the attendees.

Owen answered, “No problem, Jackie is fine with us going to the fair. He says that we can start the week after we get back so now we’ll have a little break to get settled.”

The four siblings, Nola, Finn, Conn and Hugh, played traditional Celtic tunes in their band ‘Na Ealai Dubha’. They toured North America and Europe, playing in small clubs and festivals. The traveling only stopped for a few months every few years when they recorded another CD.

They were esteemed in the genre and had a respectable following, but they made most of their money by selling CDs and other fan items, so the traveling was important. They had a web site and a small marketing firm that sold their retail gear and mailed it out for them, but after postage and the cut for the marketers, Owen thought they made out better on the road where it was all handled by the band. But the constant travel could be wearying.

So, Owen had jumped at the chance to play in Jackie’s pub, Malones, for the summer. It would be pleasant to have a base for the next few months where they didn’t have to camp or stay in motels. Malones was in a small town in Maine, but the population swelled in the summer when the tourists arrived and the pub was on a main route. This would be good exposure for the band and a chance to find new fans. More important, it allowed a respite from the endless travel and the location was private enough that it wouldn’t raise many suspicions about the band’s odd hours.

Owen Campbell had grown up in a small town in the Ottawa valley in Canada. He loved the opportunity to see new places and meet people, especially when he had first started working for the band. But he was looking forward to nesting in for a while with Nola, having a real kitchen and home cooked meals and a place to hang their clothes up, rather than constantly living out of a duffel bag. He was definitely happy that he and Nola would have their own bedroom with a real bed and thought of the many nights they had camped to save on expenses, no mattress, just sleeping bags.

Hugh and Finn had stopped their wrestling and were just lying on the ground, laughing. Apparently, Hugh had found a ticklish spot under his brother’s arm which had effectively stopped the horsing around. It was good to see Hugh having a good time, even if the amusement was at a schoolyard level. He was generally a sober, quiet man, the oldest and most responsible in the family. He had recently shaved his head and it was just growing back in, black fuzz all over his head, usually hidden under a ski hat which had come off during the tussling.

Finn, on the other hand, was born for trouble, but it never seemed to bother him. He was the rowdy sibling, telling stories and jokes, never at a loss for words and ready for any type of bedlam. All the McLaren’s had glossy black hair and startling blue eyes, throwbacks to their Irish roots, but Finn had colored his spiky hair in a multitude of hues, a punk look that suited him and attracted numerous female fans. Owen had watched gaggles of teenage girls as well as old grannies crowding around Finn at the end of a show and Finn flirted and charmed them all with his easy humor and dark Irish looks.

“Would you like me to drive for a while?” Conn was standing, watching his brothers, with his fingers restlessly moving on his whistle. Conn was the youngest, born just a few minutes after his twin, Finn, and the most reserved. He stood with his shoulders hitched forward and his long black hair hanging over his face, as if he was trying to hide behind the ebony strands. Nola said that with Conn, the stillest waters ran the deepest, and Owen agreed.

Owen nodded, “That would be a kindness.” Nola called to her brothers on the ground to get up and get back in the van or they’d be left behind. Owen tossed the keys to Conn who had put his tin whistle away in the back pocket of his jeans and went around to the driver’s door. Finn vaulted up and opened the passenger door; he liked to co-pilot when Conn was driving. Hugh got in the way back and stretched out again, ready to resume his nap. Owen lifted Nola, relishing the feel of her body against his while he helped her into the middle seat. Then he got in himself and slid the door closed.

Nola settled against him and Owen put his arm around her shoulders.

Sitting in the middle bench seat of the van with Nola cuddled up against him was so much better than the driver’s seat which had a huge rip that had been duct taped together and rubbed against the middle of his back.

With her black hair streaked with magenta and the deep blue McLaren eyes, she looked like her brothers, but was much more petite. Nola was the fiddler in the group. When she got into a jig or reel, she would dance all over the stage, bow flashing, feet leaping and tapping, in a way that got the whole audience cheering and jigging along. It was a marvel that she could be as lively one moment and then so relaxed as now. Owen supposed it was life on the road, taking each moment as it came, but he smirked to himself. He knew that it was the connection between them, the minute that their bodies touched, that rested the both of them and gave them such peace.

Conn pulled out onto the dark road and Owen relaxed. He could rest for an hour or so, until they arrived at Malones. He had a good understanding with Jackie, knowing him from other gigs, and he was really looking forward to a few months in one place. He didn’t mind the traveling and constant changes that working in a band required, rather relished the challenges more than not, but they had been touring for over a year now and he was ready to settle for a bit. He watched out the window as the dark trees flashed by in the van’s headlights, pulled Nola a little closer, and drifted off.

~ Review by Venture ~

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Taisie loved her simple life of knitting, music, and family. Life is rather simple in Antrim, Maine. She goes to the fair with her boss to sell their wares at a craft booth. There she meets Conn and family. Conn and his family travel around Europe and the United States of America singing their music. The way they feel for each other is magical. She knows Conn has secrets that he needs to tell her. Until he tells her she needs to be patient.

The story is fascinating and full of Irish lore. It would be a simple story of love if there wasn’t magic and Fae . Once the truth comes out some real decisions have to be made. I find Conn a great character and shy Taisie a perfect person for him. If you like romance with some Celtic stories this is your book. I give this 3.5 books.

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~ Purchase Links ~

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

 

~ About the Author ~

nw moors

N.W. Moors lives in Portland, Maine, land of lobster and pine trees. She’s a voracious reader and avid traveler – she loves to visit Great Britain and Ireland. Researching trips meant that she tries to learn as much about the area as possible.

She truly appreciates you sharing this adventure with her. She will continue to write about magic and the small town of Antrim, Maine. Please leave reviews and like her Facebook page or follow her blog for further updates.

~ Author Links ~

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One response to “Blog Tour with Review – The Black Swans – A Tale of the Antrim Cycle by N.W. Moors

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