Thursday, March 12, 2015

Author Interview, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: Hearts of Fire by LH Cosway

 

The Circus Spektakulär is proud to present Jack McCabe: Fire-breather, knife-thrower, risk-taker.

My house burned down when I was just a boy, robbing me of both my parents.

Now I breathe fire, eat the poison that almost killed me.

Crowds come to see me night after night. Men for the spectacle, women for the thrill. I’m an oddity to be stared at and desired. With each flame I spit, I risk my life.

I wear scars on my body that will never go away, but the scars inside my head are far more difficult to overlook.

My brother doesn’t know me, and if I have it my way he never will.

Life was going exactly the way I’d planned until Lille came along. She wanted to run away with the circus, have an adventure, but this world was never meant for her.

I try to keep her safe, because she doesn’t know the dangers that are out here on the road. She doesn’t know the monsters that lurk behind the bright lights of the ring. In truth, I could be considered one of them.

We were fashioned from different cloths, never intended to mix. So I watch her. I try not to touch, even when her eyes invite me.

Join us in the Spiegeltent and let us give you a show. Allow my Lille to draw a picture for you in paint and sweat and skin.

The truest love is always the hardest to let in.

This is a standalone romance that tells the story of Jack McCabe, Jay Fields’ long lost, presumed dead brother. It is not necessary to have read Six of Hearts in order to enjoy Hearts of Fire.


 
Me: LH, I have been so impressed by the fascinating and artistic male characters you create. They are not just the standard, alpha breed. I have fallen for a straight drag queen, been moved by a musician, lured by a mysterious illusionist, and scorched by a fire-breathing knife-thrower. What I am always impressed with is their incredible artistry. Where do you get your inspiration?
 
LH: I've always been very curious about different art forms. Every time I write a book, I try to delve myself into the world the hero inhabits, be it drag performance or fire breathing or classical music. And really, the art in itself brings a huge source of inspiration for when I'm writing the story.

Me: Equal to these incredible men are the unique women they love. What qualities do you feel are important for the female leads you create, particularly being able to match up to these amazing men?
 
LH: Sometimes my heroines are the opposite of my heroes. I think that's very much the case with Jack and Lille. She trusts too much and he trusts too little. By pairing them up, they each get to learn from one another. I think the key is to always give the heroine characteristics that bring out the best in their heroes.
 
Me: As for your characters and their occupations, I feel like reading your novels is such a learning experience. The scenes and characters are so vivid, I feel like I'm experiencing the stage or arena alongside them. How much research goes into making your characters and their talents/gifts so authentic, and what is the most interesting thing you've seen or learned?
 
LH: I do as much research as I can before writing a book, lots of reading and watching documentaries (or going to see performances). But I'm always drawing on my own experiences, too. Usually thought, I'm describing these worlds from an outsider's perspective, so I don't have to be an expert. I can simply use what I already know. I think the most interesting thing I've seen was a magic trick where the illusionist appeared to be levitating. I'm still wracking my brain trying to figure out how he did that one.
 
Me: Now Hearts of Fire is a companion novel to Six of Hearts. Having read these books back-to-back, I don't remember any clues from Six of Hearts that there would be more from Jack. Maybe I missed something, but was a story for Jack always intended? How did his story come about?

LH: In the beginning I had the idea to write a sequel to Six of Hearts about Jay and Matilda, where scary things keep happening to them in Las Vegas and it turns out to be Jay’s long lost brother who grew up to be evil, exacting his revenge on Jay for abandoning him. But of course that would be far too cheesy, lol. I began thinking a lot about Jack being alive and where he’d be if he was, and that’s where the idea for Hearts of Fire came about. I only began planning the story towards the end of Six of Hearts. That’s why you didn’t pick up on any clues, because there weren’t any. Maybe that makes it more exciting, the fact that you don’t expect it. I think Jay would approve.
 
Me: I loved that Hearts of Fire saw Jack dealing with both a romantic relationship as well as mending two brothers. There were so many moments to love throughout the book. There was a particularly moving scene for me toward the end with the brothers that truly touched me and was one of my favorites. Without spoilers, were there any favorite scenes for you?
 
LH: Even though it was very emotional, I did really enjoy writing the reunion scene. I also liked writing the scenes afterwards, where Jay and Matilda are present because they're such a fun couple to portray.
 
Me: I know I'm being redundant, but it feels worth repeating. I love the variety of characters and personalities you create, both main and secondary. Hearts of Fire is particularly ripe with all sorts of life. Which of your characters, in any of your books, can you relate the most with? The least? Do you have a favorite?
 
LH: I think I can relate to all of them in some small way. I can relate most to Jade from Still Life with Strings, mainly because she still lives where I live and has a similar sort of upbringing. Second to her would be Fred from Painted Faces. When I think of Fred I see a lot of my best friend, which makes me think I was probably channeling her personality as I wrote... And my favourite will always be Nicholas/Viv... He's probably the most unique character I'll ever create.
 
Me: Nicholas/Viv is my favorite, too! Lastly, is there anything noteworthy you are working on now? I read The Hooker and the Hermit, your collaboration with Penny Reid, and thought it was great! Can we look forward to more collaborations in the future?

LH: Right now I’m working on a book about King (from Hearts of Fire). It’s called King of Hearts and I’m hoping to release it this summer. It’s set in London’s financial district and I’d describe it as a riches to rags love story. And yes! Penny and I already have plans for another collaboration in the future which I’m extremely excited about. She’s a fantastic author and I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to create stories with her.

Me: Oh, I am so excited about King's story! He is such a fascinating character. Actually, I'm truly looking forward to anything you are going to write! Thank you so much for sharing your characters and your amazing writing with us.

Somebody swore profusely from behind me, and I turned to find Jack trying to light a cigarette. The wind wasn’t doing him any favours, and he couldn’t get the flame to stay lit. Not wanting him to see me, I began walking swiftly in the opposite direction. I didn’t get far when he was suddenly behind me. He looped his finger through my belt and practically dragged me to the corner he’d been standing in.

“What the fu….”

“Stay still,” he ordered. “I need you to block the wind.”

I didn’t have any snappy comebacks, so I simply stood there, amazed by his gruffness. Hadn’t anyone ever taught him simple manners? When I looked at him, I thought that maybe they hadn’t. I could easily imagine him as a little Mowgli type, being raised by animals in the jungle.

He flicked the lighter and finally got the smoke lit. Inhaling deeply, then exhaling, he watched me all the while. I shivered, and not from the cold. I felt like there was an atmosphere between us, but it was more than likely all on my end. I was good at imagining things, especially sexual tension. And I was well-acquainted with the one-sided kind.

“Are my services required further, sir?” I asked with a hint of sass. I mean, I’d been his wind-blocker, and he hadn’t even said thanks.

Just like last night, he almost smiled, and I hated that it was wondrous. I could have painted an entire mural of his jaw line alone. He flicked off the ash and leaned back against the wall behind him.

“So, you’re staying with Lola?”

“Yes, and Violet.”

“That’ll be fun.”

“Are you being sarcastic?”

“Are you?”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re weird.”

He took a step forward and stared down at me, teeth flashing as he spoke. “And I bet I could make you like it.”

 
'Hearts of Fire' is the story of Jack McCabe, brother to Jay Fields from 'Six of Hearts,' previously thought dead, but very much alive. Though this is a companion novel, you don't have to read 'Six of Hearts' first. Though there is some cross-over of characters from the previous novel, the overall story is not given away. But I definitely recommend reading 'Six of Hearts,' because it is an amazing story (and I loved Jay!).

Whereas Jay pulled me in right from the start, brother Jack took some warming up for me to be Team Jack. I was still wary of him up until closer to the 40% mark, honestly. His character was certainly intriguing, shadowed in dark intensity. Knowing he had a heart-breaking background certainly endeared me to him. But I still had to be won over to trust he wasn't going to hurt Lille. Because from the get-go I felt protective of her, with the past she was hiding from, and the gentle, kind spirit she embodied, and so I worried over her. But while I was a bit unsure of Jack initially, I could also feel their chemistry coming off the pages, and his feelings steadily growing along with hers. Though it takes a while to learn about all of Jack's idiosyncrasies (and they are unique), I somehow knew that whatever they were, they would fit into Lille's wishes and hopes, and the two of them would come together beautifully. And really, Lille could not have been a more perfect match for Jack, and Jack for Lille. Though they both have things to learn about themselves and each other, I really enjoyed watching their relationship unfold and grow and bloom. (And in case you were wondering, they were also super, sexy, fiery hot.)

Along with this beautiful and creative love story (I mean, falling in love at the circus? How great is that!), there was what felt like the motherload of subplots. But don't be concerned about this, because it's really well done. I loved that this wasn't just some straight-forward romance. I loved all the amazing character development, both with the main characters and the secondary characters. There are so many stories Cosway could have expanded upon, and I loved the ones she chose. Plus there are a couple of mysteries trying to be solved, and of course a hopeful reunion. All this made for an exciting, intriguing, and endearing read that kept me flying through the pages.

I also have to say the last few chapters and the epilogue were among my favorites of this story. The climax of emotion, of anticipation, of excitement, of love, and of completion were everything I hoped to get at the end of this story. Jack and Lille are an incredible couple with an edgy story, filled with intrigue and dark moments as well as hope and light, embracing the beauty of finding love and hope and happiness where you least expect it. Cosway is a gifted writer, able to pull you into an exciting world, showing you things you hadn't imagined, with characters that truly shine. I cannot wait for the next story in this series (so excited!).

 
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23488088-hearts-of-fire?from_search=true
 
 
 
L.H. Cosway has a BA in English Literature and Greek and Roman Civilisation, and an MA in Postcolonial Literature. She lives in Dublin city. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books.

She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.

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