Thanks Tempe for having me over. I appreciate it.
by Jana Denardo
Cover by Paul Richmond
Urban Fantasy, Fantasty, Paranormal, M/M, Romance
January 27th 2014
Having left most of his arm and his self-confidence behind in the Afghanistan desert, young veteran Aaron Santori has enough on his plate learning to use his prosthetic arm. Attending graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh makes life both interesting and challenging. Mentally, he’s ill prepared for meeting Rhys Edwards, a young-adult novelist from Wales and everything Aaron could want in a man. Between the scars from the explosion and his PTSD, he’s reluctant to date. Ready or not, though, Aaron finds himself jumping into the deep end of the relationship waters.
What Aaron couldn’t possibly know is that Rhys isn’t human at all. As a prince of the Tylwyth Teg, Rhys is fae, with a list of enemies he’s accumulated over the past few centuries—among them a former lover, Morcant, who is back to make Rhys’s life miserable. An unwitting pawn in their Machiavellian fae politics, Aaron only knows he’s falling in love, never suspecting love might be his death sentence.
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One aspect of Kept Tears highlights the very real issues facing injured veterans, but at my core, I am a fan of fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction. I’ve talked about Aaron a lot so let’s hear about his partner, Rhys. It is Rhys’s true nature that made writing Kept Tears so much fun. He’s a prince of the Seelie Court, a Tylwyth Teg. I chose the Teg, since at least here in America, readers haven’t heard too much about Welsh Faeries. It’s a familiar theme with a little bit of a Welsh twist.
Rhys makes an excellent counterpoint to Aaron, who is facing life, learning to deal with his disabilities. Rhys, actually Prince Myrddin, is accustomed to a world filled with magic, even though he has been on Earth for centuries as a guard to ensure his people don’t take advantage of the non-magical humans. Rhys uses magic as naturally as breathing. Even his physical appearance is a lie, just an illusion to make him look human. While he has known war and loss, Rhys is also far more used to wounds being healed perfectly. Seeing the damage done to Aaron’s body is difficult to him since he is not used to feeling helpless, and he is as far as helping Aaron is concerned.
That said, Rhys can’t refrain from using a little magic on Aaron. He’s used to it ease some of Aaron’s pain and to energize him. He would do more if could. Rhys is capable of darker magic though that didn’t find a place in this novel. It might be something fun to play with in the future. There is some very big differences between the two men so the path of happiness might find a boulder or two in it.
The urban fantasy parts of the novel were a lot of fun to play with, especially taking established folklore and expanding upon it. The concepts of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts are very old indeed, but I got to reimagine them in modern times. Rhys brings with him all sorts of magic, old rivalries, and a host of bizarre entities. I pulled all the different faeries good and evil straight out of the lore, tweaked them a little or in some cases returned them to their original forms. In Victorian times, a lot of the faeries became smaller and more friendly, but earlier lore has them as something entirely different and often more than just a little dangerous.
Rhys stood in his yard, the grass soft under his bare feet. Moonlight poured down on him. Tobacco smoke from the casino still clung to his hair and his T-shirt, but he’d worry about that later. He had a job to do. He didn’t necessarily have to be barefoot for the magic he was casting, but Rhys felt more connected to the earth when he was. He needed to scan the local area for aberrant magic. It was one of the reasons he wanted a house with a high-fenced yard, because it was more accurate if he did this outside. If anyone did spot him, hopefully they would think he was practicing tai chi or yoga or something similar as he slowly moved his limbs, testing the energy lines.
Tonight he sensed the buzzing undercurrent of magic flowing through the world. Bits of it were, no doubt, from the faerie. He was hardly the only one here, and most fae had no ill will toward humankind. That wasn’t always the case, but the world wasn’t what it once was. The fey were nothing more than fodder for urban fantasies and the few people who still believed in them. Even those who might still believe usually had starry-eyed beliefs about who the faerie were. They had forgotten that terms like “the Kindly Ones” and “the People of Peace” weren’t given to the faeries because that’s what they were. No, those titles were placations humans used, hoping the fey would hold their tempers and not toy with them. Those old days were why faeries like him were in this dimension, keeping it safe. If he had to be isolated here among the humans making sure no one took advantage of them, Rhys was glad he could at least make human friends, but he was trying hard not to think about his newest friend. Aaron had no idea how close he had come calling Rhys Legolas. He wasn’t an elf, but he knew many of them.
Sensing very little moving about tonight, nothing at all to worry about, Rhys couldn’t stop his mind from wandering. There was only one path it wanted to travel. All roads led to Aaron. He was like no one Rhys had ever known. In the faerie realm, magic could have put Aaron back together, and sometimes, looking at the man’s battered frame, wondering what was hidden under his clothes, Rhys felt almost ashamed of his own perfection, and for all the magic that had chased scars from his flesh. He wished he could have helped, even though he knew that was ridiculous. He hadn’t known Aaron when the explosion picked him apart; there was nothing he could have done then, nor could do anything now.
Jana Denardo’s career choices and wanderlust take her all over the United States and beyond. Much of her travels make their way into her stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and mystery have been her favorite genres since she started reading, and they often flavor her works. In her secret identity, she works with the science of life and gives college students nightmares. When she’s not chained to her computer writing, she functions as stray cat magnet.
Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.