Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Release Day Review ~ BONFIRE By Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt ~ (Review, Author Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Release Day Review ~ BONFIRE By Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt ~ (Review, Author Interview, Excerpt + Giveaway)

By Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt

Release Date: November 15, 2016
Contact: Irene Preston (irenepreston@gmail.com)
   Liv Rancourt (livrancourt@yahoo.com)
ISBN: 978-0-9968099-4-8


Silent night, holy hell.

Thaddeus and Sarasija are spending the holidays on the bayou, and while the vampire's idea of Christmas cheer doesn't quite match his assistant's, they're working on a compromise. Before they can get the tree trimmed, they're interrupted by the appearance of the feu follet. The ghostly lights appear in the swamp at random and lead even the locals astray.

When the townsfolk link the phenomenon to the return of their most reclusive neighbor, suspicion falls on Thaddeus. These lights aren't bringing glad tidings, and if Thad and Sara can't find their source, the feu follet might herald a holiday tragedy for the whole town.

This holiday novella can be enjoyed alone or as book 1.5 of the Hours of the Night Series. Bonfire takes place the December after the events in Vespers.

Excerpt 1 from Bonfire by Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt:

Dorothy ran Pinky’s, a small sundries store with a restaurant in back, the only place to buy groceries within ten miles. In her day, she’d been widely acknowledged for her beauty, though I had always respected her for her intelligence and wit. If she recognized the similarities between me and the Mr. Dupont who’d lived in the River house when she was a girl, she’d never mentioned it. We had an accord, Dorothy and I, one I would be reluctant to break.

While the phone was ringing, I noticed two paper shopping bags in the corner of the room. The phone had just enough cord for me to reach the closest bag, but before I could open it, Dorothy answered.

“This is Thaddeus Dupont.”

“I guess you got my message.” Dorothy sounded annoyed, as if she’d rather I hadn’t called.

“Yes. What can I do for you?” I opened the bag and lifted out a glossy black box. Christmas lights. Surprised, I bit my lip against a sharp surge of irritation.

“Well,” she said, “those lights are back.”

Confused, I set aside the first box and lifted out another. “Lights?” More lights?

“You know what I’m talking about. The swamp lights. Back in my grandmother’s day, she’d say Old Ivey was out looking for someone who got murdered.” She paused, and he could almost hear her collecting her thoughts. “Some call ’em the feu follet, and people been following ’em to find the treasure but getting lost in the swamp instead.”

I lifted a third and then a fourth box of Christmas lights out of the bag. “And what has this to do with me?” Fueled by exasperation, my tone was sharper than normal, but what was Sara thinking? A single ornament was one thing, but I never decorated for the holidays, especially with multicolored, LED, synchronized flashers.

“Maybe nothing, Thaddeus, but after the troubles you all had last summer, I figured I better say something in case Old Ivey’s looking for someone you know.”

I carefully set down the box of lights. “I can assure you, Miss Dorothy, I have not murdered anyone and stashed their body in the swamp.”

She paused for a good long while. “No, no, I suppose you haven’t.” The stiffness left her voice, and she exhaled softly. “But something’s going on, and you know how some people get carried away.”

Sara wandered out of the kitchen, his smile brightening when he saw I’d discovered his secret. “Things will die down. They always do.” I knew that from experience. As a solitary man who kept to himself, I periodically came under scrutiny from the neighborhood. There would be talk, and the bravest would come down the river to my house and poke around. My assistant, or maybe Mayette, would allay their fears, and the next good bit of gossip would distract them.

She snorted. “Well maybe you should, I don’t know, see if you can find where those witch lights are coming from.”

Now we’d come to the root of her problem. She wanted me to investigate. Sara pulled one of the strings of lights out of its box and plugged it in, flooding the room with color. I blinked hard against the glare. “You think that will help?”

“Yep. So far, everyone who’s gone missing has turned back up, but if they didn’t, well, that’d be real bad.”

“Look!” Sara’s enthusiasm bled through his whispered comment. He pressed a button so the lights started flashing. “They work.”

I waved off Sara’s laughter. “I agree. Thank you for the information, and I’ll let you know what I find out.”

She thanked me, grudgingly, and ended the call. I hung up slowly, considering the best approach to take.

“You don’t mind, do you, Thaddeus?” Sara unplugged the string of lights and began packing them away. “I wanted to surprise you, put some lights on the porch and maybe on the banister. We don’t have to do the whole Christmasy-Christmas thing, but the lights are pretty.”

Did I mind? Yes, in theory, though when faced with the hope in his eyes, I found the idea of decorating might not be so intolerable. “We do have a bauble.” I sighed, rubbing at the tension in my neck. “I think, Sara, you could ask me to hang the Christmas star in the heavens, and I would find a way to accomplish the task.”

“You’re crazy.” He ducked, hiding behind a shield of hair.

Unable to resist the temptation, I crossed the room and wrapped my arms around him. “You may be right.”

Thanks so much to all the Bayou Book Junkies for having us as guests on the blog. Irene and I are celebrating the release of Bonfire, the holiday novella follow-up to our paranormal romance Vespers. Bonfire focuses a little bit more on the relationship between Thaddeus and his assistant Sarasija, with a sidecar of mystery. And, you know, holiday fun!
Are you ready?
It’s that time of year. Time to drag out the ornaments and stock up the kitchen. Time to shop and party and pack your schedule so tight it squeaks. Irene and I always have a good time with our Hours of the Night stories, but weaving in holiday traditions that are unique to the bayou made Bonfire especially fun.
As is often the case when it comes to research, we ended up with more information than we needed. To be honest, Irene grew up in northern Louisiana, so she didn’t google much at all. If our stories have the ring of truth, it’s because Irene keeps me from adding details don’t work for the setting. (There are no hills in the swamp, no matter how many I try to put there.)
Anyway, since we didn’t want all this good stuff to go to waste, here is some of what we learned about celebrating the holidays in the bayou…
We don’t focus much on food in Bonfire, mainly because a vampire’s diet doesn’t change much over the year. (lol!) But have you ever had gumbo on Christmas Eve? Irene says it’s one of her favorite traditions. Seafood is a big part of life on the bayou, so oyster dressing or crawfish and shrimp jambalaya are often on the holiday menu. Cajun sausage is a favorite, and fried turkey – or even turducken – is the centerpiece. Save room though, because pralines and tarte a la bouillie (Cajun custard pie) are the perfect desert!
How do you decorate a Cajun house? With bright crawfish outlined in lights or wreaths made of red peppers. Maybe with a Leyland Cypress or Carolina Sapphire or Virginia Pine tree. The most appealing image, though, is Pére Noël in a sleigh pulled by eight tiny alligators. Because everyone needs a light-up alligator!
Other Customs
Every region has unique holiday customs and the bayou is no different. Parents read their children the Cajun Night Before Christmas by “Trosclair”, which is just like the traditional poem, except Santa’s in a skiff instead of a sleigh and his reindeer are green and scaly. Carols with a zydeco flavor are played at all kinds of public gatherings, including Christmas parades and in shopping malls.
One of the most unique traditions – and the one that gives our novella its name – are the bonfires on the levee. All along the Mississippi, four-sided towers are set alight on Christmas Eve, to guide Pére Noël on his journey. They draw quite a crowd, and the party usually involves gumbo and sometimes fireworks.
Fireworks? Christmas in my home town of Seattle isn’t usually that festive. Someday I hope to spend the holidays down on the bayou, though, so I can experience the bonfires and the gumbo and the alligator lights for myself. I’m sure Irene will be a great tour guide!
Thanks so much for checking out our post. Keep reading for an excerpt from Bonfire, and make sure you enter our rafflecopter giveaway. And most importantly, Jouyeux Noël!

***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the authors for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.***

BONFIRE is book 1.5 in the Hours of the Night series, but can be perfectly read as a standalone, which is what I did. Despite that, I can assure you that after reading this book, I will try to read Vespers as soon as possible as I was captivated in this world Irene Preston & Liv Rancourt have created. 

Thaddeus Dupont is a 115-year-old vampire is spending the holidays on the Bayou with his 22-year-old assistant/boyfriend Sarasija trying to work through the issues in their fairly new relationship. Sara isn't sure Thad will want him to stay after his one-year contract is over and Thad isn't sure if Sara really wants to stay with him in such a solitary place. Thad is willing to do whatever is needed to make Sara happy, though, even put up with having a Christmas tree and lights at the house. However, their preparations are cut short when some ghostly lights appear in the swamp that seem to lead the people in the town to follow them. When eyes start turning towards Thad and Sara, they will have to find the source before something worse than some people being lost happens. 

While they are as different from each other as oil and water, seeing as Thaddeus is a Catholic vampire with ties to some monks and Sara is an agnostic human with some interesting features (like he isn't affected by Thad's compulsion and power as the other people they come across are), they do seem to be perfect for one another. It was lovely to see Thad trying to make Sara happy even if he didn't quite share his feelings regarding Christmas and Sara is always trying to think ahead as to not hurt Thad or protect him from how others perceive the brooding vampire. They had great chemistry and I just loved them together, be it just spending time together or investigating or in bed. Never mind that having Thad use some terms of endearment in French definitely was a plus!. 

All in all, this was a delightful Christmas story with a touch of mystery and a lot of the fascination that the Bayou holds, with two very lovable leads and a very interesting storyline that kept my attention until the last page. I can't wait to read more of Thad and Sara's adventures! 

Rating: 4.5 Stars!!!

Release Celebration Gift Card Giveaway - Rafflecopter:

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Prize pack includes $20 Gift Card to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or AllRomanceEbooks.

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About the Authors

About Irene Preston
Irene Preston has to write romances, after all she is living one.  As a starving college student, she met her dream man who whisked her away on a romantic honeymoon across Europe.  Today they live in the beautiful hill country outside of Austin, Texas where Dream Man is still working hard to make sure she never has to take off her rose-colored glasses.

Where to find Irene

About Liv Rancourt
I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.

Where to find Liv

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