I know it seems odd for a historical author to visit a paranormal blog, but trust me, there’s a reason. You see, I’ve been dabbling with elements of the fantastical in my most recent release, Touch of a Thief, the first in the Touch of Seduction series from Kensington Brava.
Adding paranormal to a historical romance is a little tricky. If I get too outlandish, I run the risk of alienating historical readers. If my sparkle of magic is too tame, it won’t be enough to satisfy paranormal readers. My goal was to create a Victorian world with an undercurrent of magic real enough for readers to believe it might actually happen.
When I decided to write a heroine who supported her threadbare family by lifting jewels from members of the ton, I wanted to create a reason for it to be difficult for her, aside from a guilty conscience. So I gave my heroine, Viola, a special gift. When she touches gemstones, she receives visions of the previous owners’ lives and she often doesn’t want to know what the jewels have to say. If she gets too swept up in the gemstone’s voice, she suffers crippling headaches afterward. In my world, the scales have to balance. If Viola wants to use her gift, she must be prepared to pay the price.
Here’s an example of how Viola’s special ability works from Touch of a Thief. Lieutenant Greydon Quinn is determined to intercept a rare red diamond en route to the Royal Collection and return it to the Indian temple from which it was stolen. He set a trap for the Mayfair Jewel Thief and unexpectedly caught a young woman who might just steal his heart as well:
Greydon Quinn spread a kerchief on the bed and dumped the contents of the stocking onto it. A glowing rainbow of stones glittered up at Viola.
“You keep your jewels in an old stocking?”
He shrugged. “It seemed more secure than the wall safe with the likes of you prowling about London.”
She frowned down at the gemstones. It was an impressive pile of riches, but the resonance was off. “Some of these aren’t genuine.”
He cocked a brow at her and nodded. “Show me.”
She drew a deep breath and stretched out her hand. She’d do the pearls first. Their sibilant, watery voices were always easiest to bear. She picked up a gray pearl, a smoky iridescent orb. The low hum began inside her head.
Like a waving bed of kelp, the pearl spoke to her in wobbling, gentle tones. The words were garbled, and in no language she knew, but a quick vision of a wizened old gent with a purple turban and scarlet-dyed beard flashed across her mind. She dropped the pearl before the precious thing could show her any more.
It was unusual for her to receive a vision from a pearl. Perhaps it was because they were never as old as other gems. Perhaps the fragile substance resisted picking up imprints from its owners. Or perhaps pearls realized they too were mortal and didn’t want to carry someone else’s burden for the course of their stay on earth. Whatever secret this gray pearl bore, Viola didn’t want to know it.
“That pearl is real,” she said. “And very old. You’ll not find its mate. It will have to be used as a pendant.”
“How do you know that?”
“I just know.” How could she explain something she didn’t understand herself? She only knew she was different.
And people mistrust those who are different.
End of Excerpt
I also have a novella in the upcoming IMPROPER GENTLEMEN anthology. My hero, Aidan Danaher has a Celtic gift called “the Knack.” This allows him to plant a thought in another person’s mind. Think of it as a Jedi Mind Trick with buckets of Irish charm! You can read an excerpt from Improper Gentlemen at MiaMarlowe.com.
I'd love to give either a copy of Touch of a Thief or an ARC of Improper Gentlemen to a random commenter today. I'm always looking for good ideas for my next story. Here's my discussion question: If you could have any extrasensory or paranormal gift, what would it be? What would be a fair trade for using it?