Maggie had just put down her ebook reader when Mary slipped into the booth, seating herself across from Maggie. She nodded at Maggie’s Kobo.
“Am I that late?” She opened the menu that was lying in front of her and turned her attention to the long list of omelets. The Omelet Factory was a new restaurant in their tiny town, offering 50 choices that included such exotic fare as brie and porcini mushroom omelets, caper, salmon, and cream cheese omelets, smoked Gouda and green olive omelets. The latter was Maggie’s guilty pleasure, but Mary was determined to try each and every one.
“OK, last week I had the anchovy and mozzarella, so today … ”
A young waitress appeared at their table, wearing cutoff jeans, a white tube top, and an emerald green apron. She had dirty blonde hair and a slim figure, and would have been considered rather nondescript except for the trellis of roses that were tattooed from one wrist, up her arm, across her creamy white chest, down the other arm and ending at the other wrist. Mary didn’t look up so Maggie turned to her and smiled.
“I’ll have the Gouda and green olive. Mary?”
“It’s the goat cheese and prosciutto for me today. And a pot of coffee for two.” The waitress walked away still scribbling on her pad. Maggie noted that her back was sprinkled with tattoos of miniature roses. Mary sat back, sipping the now tepid coffee that had been poured when Maggie first arrived. She nodded again at the Kobo.
“So, what are you reading?”
“Oh, I just finished Beyond Dusk: Anne by Sarah M. Cradit. You know, the author of St. Charles at Dusk. That novel that we all liked so much.”
“Oh?” Mary leaned forward. Since she and her cousins had started their book club, she had rediscovered the joy of reading. Then when Randy bought her a Kindle Paperwhite for her birthday, she went a little nuts, downloading several ebooks a day until she realized that she was spending more time downloading than she was reading. Still, she was always on the lookout for more.
“Yes, I remember that book. I loved it! We all did, right? So is this a sequel? I thought she already had a sequel called The Storm and the Darkness? Is this different?”
The waitress dropped off a pot of coffee and Maggie poured for each of them as Mary bombarded her with questions. She managed to keep herself from smiling at Mary’s excitement. This was a part of her cousin that she really enjoyed, sharing a mutual enthusiasm for books and their authors.
“No, this is not a sequel. Actually, she calls it a novelette. It’s quite a quick read.”
“You read it while waiting for me?”
“No, it’s not that quick.” Maggie had to laugh. Mary had been quite late, but Maggie had been glad for the time to finish the novelette since she had only started it the night before. “It’s about 52 pages on my reader. You can easily read it in one sitting, and you will want to do that. You won’t want to put it down.”
“So you liked it. What’s it about if it’s not a sequel?” Both Mary and Maggie sat back as the waitresses put their plates in front of them. For a moment, they were both distracted by the hot savory aroma of the omelets. Each omelet came with a side of herbed home fries and a basket of whole wheat toast. It was enough food to keep them happy and satisfied until supper.
“It’s about Anne Fontaine, Adrienne’s half-sister from St. Charles at Dusk. She comes to New Orleans to find Adrienne, to talk to her. The thing is, Oz and Nicholas … you remember, Adrienne’s husband and brother … don’t initially trust her. They think she’s an impostor after Adrienne’s money. Well … ” Maggie paused to shovel some creamy omelet into her mouth.
“Oh, that’s really interesting. She’s writing backstory for the other characters? What a neat idea! I was left wondering about the Fontaines when I finished St. Charles. It seemed like there was so much to say about them, a whole other family line to study.” Mary proceeded to tuck into her omelet.
“Well, I guess that’s why she decided to write Anne, and I believe she’s going to write more novelettes about the other Fontaines. So, the thing is that Anne has certain powers, supernatural powers that she’s only recently discovered. That puts an interesting twist on the story. Not to mention that Nicholas actually tries to set her up, entrap her because he doesn’t believe she’s really his sister.”
“Does he fall in love with her?” Mary leans forward, a wicked smile on her face. “He’s a bit of an arrogant bastard. I mean, I like him, I understand why he has issues. Still, I’d like to see him get put in his place.”
“Well …” Maggie returned Mary’s wicked smile with one of her own. “I’m not saying. You’ll have to read it. It’s worth it, really. Sarah really knows how to build suspense and … and … steam.” Maggie started to laugh, her face flushing with a rosy pink. Mary gave her a big smile.
“We do like our steamy scenes, don’t we.” For a moment, the two cousins fell into silence. Mary thought about Randy and how she often had to seek him out after reading a particularly erotic scene. Maggie thought of her late husband and wondered if she would ever again have someone to turn to when she felt aroused.
“So!” Mary broke the silence after seeing her cousin’s face change from a schoolgirl’s embarrassment to a wistful sadness. “You recommend I read this, correct?”
“Oh, most definitely! Both Anne and Nicholas are strong characters and it’s great to see their stories get more time and attention. Plus I really like the mysterious history of the Deschanel family. We get to meet another member of the family, Aunt Colleen, who is a matriarch of sorts. Sarah is an excellent storyteller, and the story actually can stand on its own. She gives just enough info about Oz and Adrienne that you don’t have to have read St. Charles, but you would want to if you hadn’t already.”
“How does it end? Happy, I hope!”
“Well, you really should read it for yourself, Mary.” This was one major difference between them: Mary didn’t mind spoilers, but Maggie hated them. She loved the discovery part of reading, and she could never find it within herself to give away too much. “I’ll just say, it’s happy enough, but the ending leaves room for more to happen. You’re not going to put it away and say, “OK, now I’m done with the Deschanel.” You’ll want more.”
“So we’ll just have to read The Storm and the Darkness next, right?”
“Exactly!” The cousins tapped their coffee cups in a toast, drank, and then refocused their attentions onto their cooling but still delicious omelets.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Beyond Dusk: Anne in exchange for an honest review.
For your own copy of Beyond Dusk: Anne as well as other works by Sarah M. Cradit, visit any of these websites:
Barnes and Noble (Beyond Dusk: Anne not currently available at B&N but you can find St. Charles at Dusk and The Storm and the Darkness here)
Smashwords (Currently only St. Charles at Dusk is available here)
Goodreads (for a list of stores as well as great reviews)